As part of the last season at Yankee Stadium, my dad and I yesterday morning took one of the Behind-The-Scenes tours the Yankees offer at the old stadium. The tour — which started at 11 a.m. — lasted an hour, and we were taken around to parts of the ballpark generally closed to the public. We walked on the field, sat in the press box, enjoyed the view from the dugout and strolled through the Yankee Clubhouse.
Going inside the new stadium on a day in which there is no game offers a fascinating glimpse inside the life of a baseball stadium. For just 81 days a year, a baseball stadium is used for its intended purposes. For the other 284 days, the stadium sits empty. While team officials are hard at work running the business, the stadium itself is cleaned and primped regularly. The Yankees may be out of town, but the stadium is alive on a Thursday afternoon.
Our tour started with a walk through the press box where Sunday’s lineups were still penciled on the big board. I sat in the seat usually reserved for the reporter from the Asahi Shinbum, and I could see the spot from which Peter Abraham blogs every night.
The best seat in the house belongs to the official scorer. He sits on a platform above all of the reporters with a microphone so that the announcers, writers and game officials hear all of his decisions.
In Monument Park, we had more time to explore the grounds that one would during a game day. We could examine the monuments, plaques and retried numbers. (On a related note, I hope this guy comes back soon.)
After enjoying Monument Park, we walked past the left field foul pole on the way to the Yankee dugout. The Yankees prefer the first base side of the stadium because the third base dugout sits in the sun during day games. The bullpen phone looks just as neat in real life as it does on TV, and the view into the crowd is rather impressive.
Following the jaunt into the dugout, we ventured down into the clubhouse where cameras are not allowed. Chien-Ming Wang had a package from Taiwan in front of his locker. Mike Mussina’s whiteboard was nowhere in sight, and Brian Bruney’s locker was sporting a fantastic bowler hat. As the longest tenured Yankee, Mariano Rivera had the primo corner locker.
As we left the clubhouse and walked back to the field to conclude the tour, a sign with a famous quotation greeted us as it does every Yankee during every home game. I have tickets for just one more Yankee game at the old stadium, and if this tour is my second-to-last trip to the House that Ruth Built, it will server as a fitting memorial a baseball cathedral.
Due to popular demand, we’re going to form the first ever RAB Fantasy Football League this year. The league is already set up at Yahoo (head-to-head, three weeks of playoffs, nothing crazy), and now we just need participants. If you’re seriously interested, email me at mike (at) riveraveblues (dot) com, and you’re in. Make sure you put “fantasy football” or something to that effect in the subject line. The league is limited to 20 teams (Joe & I are playing, Ben’s too scared), so first come first serve.
The draft is currently scheduled for 1pm EST on Sunday, August 31st (same time as the Yanks game), but I just realized that that’s the day before Labor Day, so I think I’m going to move it up to that Saturday (again, same time as the Yanks game). Let me know in the email what day works best for you. Please note that the comments are closed, so make sure you send me an email if you want in.
Update (4:45pm): Still 9 spots open.
Update (6:00pm): The league is fill. I’ll keep you updated if someone drops out a spot opens up. · (2) ·
The USA Olympic baseball lost 10-2 to Cuba this morning in the semifinal round, meaning Team USA will take on Japan in the bronze-medal game later tonight. SDSU phenom Stephen Strasburg started, but didn’t make it out of the 5th, while relievers Jeff Stevens and Blaine Neal combined to cough up 6 runs in the 8th, putting the game out of reach. Either Brett Anderson or Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the red, white & blue tonight, while Japan will throw some kid named Yu Darvish. Cuba will take on Korea in the gold medal game tomorrow evening. · (11) ·
According to Ed Price, the Yanks are set to play against the NL East next year during Interleague Play. While the full 2009 schedules are still be finalized, Price reports that the Yankees will host the Mets, Phillies and Nationals at the new Yankee Stadium. In return, Chien-Ming Wang will attempt to run the bases more successfully next year in CitiField, Atlanta and Miami. This whole Interleague Play thing is getting a bit boring. · (29) ·
I know what you’re thinking: How is it news that the Boss will bring down Yankee Stadium? It’s always been his plan to build a new playground for the Yankees. Well, I’m not talkin’ about this Boss; I’m talkin’ about New Jersey’s own Boss. According to a completely unsubstantiated report by Rush & Molloy, the Steinbrenners want to top the Billy Joel Shea Stadium send-off, and the family is hoping to get Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney on board for a musical extravaganza. If this happens, I’m so there. · (16) ·
Early this week in the Daily News, Ian Begley wrote an extensive article on the issues surrounding the new Yankee Stadium and displaced parkland in the South Bronx. While Begley’s piece doesn’t touch on anything new that I haven’t covered — the RAB Yankee Stadium archive is available here — the article is a succinct summary of the issues surrounding the land grab and broken promises. The Yankees and the City should make good on their parkland promises sooner rather than the later. The longer this issue drags on, the worse the Yankees look. · (1) ·
I knew the Yanks were in trouble tonight when, in the top of the third inning, Ivan Rodriguez struck out swinging on one of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen.
The fastball from Roy Halladay started over heading toward the middle of the plate. A few feet short of home plate, the bottom literally dropped out of this pitch, and it bounced in the dirt in front of home plate as Pudge swung over the top of it. I couldn’t fault Rodriguez for swinging there. By any account, that pitch should have been right over the heart of the plate. But Halladay’s sinker was just that good tonight, and by the time he tired enough to leave one up to Hideki Matsui, it was far too late for the Yankees.
While tonight’s game belonged, from start to finish, to Roy Halladay, it was also the day when Sidney Ponson’s chickens came home to roost. I’ve long harped on Ponson’s inability to keep runners off base, and while he had shown some improvement over his last few outings, his Yankee WHIP prior to tonight stood at 1.50. Pitchers who allow that many baserunners per inning simply cannot sustain success, and it all came crashing down tonight.
Ponson allowed eight hits and a walk as he pitched into the third but couldn’t record an out that inning. He gave up seven of the Blue Jays’ 14 runs before giving way to the equally ineffective tandem of David Robertson and Billy Traber. Games like this one really make me miss Chien-Ming Wang.
Meanwhile, the Yanks continue to lose their grip on any sort of October hope. They’re 10.5 games behind Tampa and six behind Boston. With 35 games left, the Yankees will have to game for every five they play just to tie Boston in the Wild Card. With six games left against their archrivals, it’s not impossible, but they’re going to have to make this run trotting out Ponson, Darrell Rasner and perhaps Carl Pavano for three out of every five days. Don’t hold your breath.
Game Notes: Why is Billy Traber still a member of this organization? He’s been terrible all year…Since acquiring Ivan Rodriguez, the Yankees are 8-11, and Pudge is hitting .229/.270/.343. That trade sure seemed better at the time…Derek Jeter has 2499 hits. With his next base knock, he’ll become just the 88th player in baseball history to amass at least 2500 hits.
Phil Coke was named to the Eastern League postseason All-Star Team. Well deserved.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Rochester)
Justin Christian: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Melky: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 CS – 6 for 12 (.500) with a 2-4 K/BB ratio since being send down
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – Chad Jennings says he hit one of the farthest homers he’s seen this year
Shelley: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 E (fielding)
Ben Broussard, Eric Duncan & Chad Moeller: all 0 for 3, 1 K – Broussard was hit by a pitch … E-Dunc & Moeller each drew a walk
Nick Green: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 SB
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 WP, 4-3 GB/FB – 66 of 93 pitches were strikes (71.0%)
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 19 of 35 pitches were strikes (54.3%)
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K – 10 of 18 pitches were strikes (55.6%)
Phil Coke: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP – allowed both inherited runners to score, hence the earned runs charged to Melancon
Scott Strickland: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
It’s a match-up for the ages. One man is a fat Aruban; the other is a nasty sinkerballer from Colorado. One of them will emerge victorious.
Okay, so perhaps tonight’s Yankee game — pitting Sidney Ponson against Roy Halladay — isn’t quite the dramatic match-up for the ages, but this game could be closer than anyone would expect. On the season Ponson is 7-3 with a 4.19 ERA, and in his middle age (for a baseball player), he’s become a ground ball specialist. Call him Chien-Ming Wang Lite. Roy Halladay meanwhile is 14-9 with a 2.64 ERA. He too is a ground ball specialist.
The rub here is that Roy Halladay has not allowed a run to the Yankees since the first inning of a start he made on June 3. That’s a streak of 14 scoreless innings. Yikes.
As it is everyday, tonight’s game is one the Yankees need to win. Tampa and Boston enjoy a night off, and the Yanks have to make up ground whenever they can. Easier said than done.
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
Game Notes: In case you missed the news, Carl Pavano is starting on Saturday. Pavano has made two starts since June 27, 2005 and is in the final year of a four-year, $39.95-million contract.