Are you ready for some football?

Since it’s the start of the NFL season I wanted to intertwine football and the Yankees. Let’s take a look at some professional athletes with ties to the Yankees and the NFL.  Which ones made the right choice?

Pat White- As has been discussed here, White was recently cut from the Miami Dolphins after being a 2nd round pick just last year.  His football prospects are not looking great right now (there are rumors he received zero phone calls once cut), so it would be interesting to see if he has considered heading back to the diamond and soon after writing that White signed a deal with the Royals to return to baseball, though he may not be completely done on the gridiron.  As we know, the Yankees drafted him in the 48th round of the 2009 draft, but he was also drafted three other times, in the 49th round in 2008 by the Reds, in the 27th round in 2007 by the Angels and in the 4th round in 2004 by the Angels (passing up 6 figures).  He got a college education and $2.4 million guaranteed so despite his recent axing, he likely made the right choice.

John Elway- It’s pretty easy to say John Elway made the right choice, but he was a good baseball player as well.  Two years before he was drafted in the NFL, the Yankees spent their 1981 2nd round pick on Elway.  In 1982 he played 42 games for Oneonta and put up an impressive .318/.432/.464 line.  If the Baltimore Colts didn’t cede to his trade demand, maybe he would have actually stuck with baseball.  Who knows if he ever would have made it to Yankee Stadium.

Drew Henson- Drew Henson turned out to be the anti-Elway.  He did stick with baseball but wasn’t quite good enough and went back to football.  That didn’t work out so well either as he has appeared in just 9 NFL games with one start.  Had he stuck to one sport or the other coming out of High School he definitely would have had a better chance, but we’ll never know if stepping away from the football field would have allowed him to learn how to hit a curveball.

Daunte Culpepper- Culpepper’s struggles with academics almost led him down the baseball path.  While he was recruited by big schools like The U and Florida out of high school, he didn’t have the test scores to get in (seriously the couldn’t sneak him into The U?).  He did find a home at the University of Central Florida where he committed to playing quarterback.  Had he never found a college to call home, he just may have joined the Yankees, who drafted him in the 26th round in 1995.  Culpepper must have been a pretty menacing dude on the mound at 6’4 and 250+ pounds with a great arm.  There is no doubt Culpepper made the right call as he has earned a ton of money in the NFL.

Deion Sanders- Deion primarily went the football route where he became a Hall of Famer and one of the best cornerbacks of all time.  He did stick around baseball long enough to play in 641 games and put up a .263/.319/.392 line, that’s not too shabby considering his two sport status.  Deion was terrible as a Yankee with a 55 OPS+, and his most famous Yankee moment is probably pissing off Carlton Fisk which almost led to a brawl.

Bo Jackson- Deion and Bo were undoubtedly the biggest two sport athletes in the past 25+ years.  Bo, who went on to have very successful, but injury shortened careers in both MLB and the NFL was originally drafted out of high school by the Yankees in the 2nd round in 1982 (a year after taking Elway in the 2nd round). Jackson went unsigned and chose to go to Auburn to play both football and baseball.  Jackson had Hall of Fame talent in both sports, and had he stuck to one sport and avoided injury he likely would have made it.  He’ll have to settle for being in the Tecmo Bowl Hall of Fame.

Dave Winfield- Mr. May definitely made the right choice in sticking to baseball and spent 9+ years with the Yankees.  Along with being a first round pick in baseball (as a pitcher, no less) he was drafted in the 17th round of the NFL draft despite never playing college football.  Winfield was also drafted in the both the NBA and ABA drafts.  While football was probably never a serious choice he likely could have made it in pro basketball, but not with the success he enjoyed in baseball.  Despite being drafted in several sports, in the recent Baseball Analysts draft, Winfield waited by the phone but never got the call. (that last sentence might not be entirely true).

Others of note:  Brandon Jones of the Seattle Seahawks was drafted by the Yankees in 2001.  World Cup goalie Tony Meola (ok, that’s futbol not football but he did try out for the Jets) was drafted by the Yankees.

Another game, another ugly loss for Yanks

You're scratching your head? (AP Photo/LM Otero)

I don’t even know what to say. Terrible job getting the man in during the [insert inning here], terrible job by the bullpen, and an unfathomably bad job managing. The Yankees couldn’t be playing any more like garbage right now. This makes five losses in six games with one win coming on a miracle walk-off shot. I’m sure Dustin Moseley will stop the bleeding against Cliff Lee tomorrow, but only if the Yanks have someone bunt in a 3-0 count.

(box score, WPA graph)

Gardner pulled with sore wrist
Update By Benjamin Kabak

At least one of the confounding moves that Joe Girardi made tonight has a reason attached to it. The Yanks’ skipper pulled Brett Gardner from the game in the sixth because the Yanks’ leadoff hitter had complained of a sore right wrist. He hurt it after getting hit by a pitch in Los Angeles against the Dodgers in June and may get an MRI later this week. The speedster joins Nick Swisher on the Yanks’ list of banged-up outfielders, and he should be considered day-to-day.

Scranton’s season ends with a blowout

Triple-A Scranton (11-5 loss to Columbus) Columbus wins the best-of-five series three games to one … Scranton’s season is over, so expect a whole bunch of call-ups relative soon
Reid Gorecki, CF: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 3B – he was pretty much their best player in the series, which says something about how awful they played
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) – he should be on his way up
Juan Miranda, 1B: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (throwing) - him too
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 0 for 3, 2 K – he had a brutal series, 1-for-14, 9 K, though the one was a game-tying homer in the ninth inning of Game One
Edwar Gonzalez, PH-DH: 1 for 1, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – could very well be his last game with the organization since he’s a minor league free agent for the umpteenth time, so it’s good to see him go out with a blast
Chad Huffman, RF: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 BB – he’ll be up too
Eric Bruntlett, SS: 1 for 4, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B, Justin Christian, LF & P.J. Pilittere, C: all 0 for 4 – Laird & Christian each struck out one … Laird had a big fat 0-for-series
Hector Noesi: 3.1 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3-3 GB/FB – 54 of 79 pitches were strikes (68.4%) … so that didn’t go so well … he had a 7.77 ERA in four starts in SWB
Amaury Sanit: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 3-1 GB/FB – 13 of 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%) … he’s a release candidate after a brutal year and a PED suspension
George Kontos: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 20 of 32 pitches were strikes (62.5%) … did he do enough this year to earn a 40-man and avoid the perils of the Rule 5 Draft? I say yes
John Van Benschoten: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74.1%)
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – nine of 14 pitches were strikes (64.3%) … is he out of chances?

[Read more…]

Yankees recall Juan Miranda and Kevin Russo

Triple-A Scranton’s season came to an abrupt end this afternoon when they were eliminated from the International League playoffs by (former Yankee affiliate) the Columbus Clippers, and as a result, more September call-ups are on the way. Utilityman Kevin Russo and first baseman/designated hitter are on their way to join the team and will presumably be available during tomorrow’s came. Kinda surprised that Chad Huffman isn’t on the way as well, not to mention some pitching, but the month’s not over yet. Still time for that.

Game 142: Time for a rebound

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Last night’s loss was one of the more … infuriating of the season (that’s a good word for it, no?), so now it’s time for the Yankees come out and remind Texas just who they’re dealing with. The Rangers walked off with a win in the first game the last two times these clubs met, but the Yanks came back the next day and not only beat Cliff Lee, but did so in comeback fashion.

Tonight, I just want a beatdown. Remind Tommy Hunter that he’s not destined for a long career with his 4.50 K/9. Remind Nelson Cruz why the Rangers tried to convert him to pitching just over two seasons ago. Let Ron Washington know that if he wants to made ten pitching changes a game, we’ll happily oblige as he looks for someone to stop the bleeding. No mercy.

Here’s the lineup…

Gardner, LF
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Berkman, DH
Granderson, CF
Pena, SS
Cervelli, C

And on the bump, it’s A.J. Burnett.

Game starts a little after 8pm ET and can be seen locally on YES and nationally on MLB Network. Enjoy.

Pettitte one more rehab start away

After dominating AA hitters in a four-inning outing on Thursday, Andy Pettitte is now just one more rehab start away from rejoining the Major League rotation. As Mark Feinsand explains today, the Yankees want to stretch Pettitte out before he comes back to the Bronx, and since AA Trenton advanced to the Eastern League finals, they’ll be able to do so on Tuesday. “I’m extremely encouraged,” Yanks’ manager Joe Girardi said. “Our hope for Andy is that both minor league teams are still in it and he can make one more rehab start for us. After that, he could really, possibly be ready for us.”

Pettitte, 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA before hitting the disabled list, will take the ball for the Thunder in game against either Altoona or Harrisburg on Tuesday, and then Andy will most likely pitch against the Orioles on Sunday. By then, he will have missed nearly two months of the season with this groin injury.

The paramount importance of getting it right

When Francisco Cervelli‘s throw to Derek Jeter arrived at the bag six feet ahead of Ian Kinsler, Jeter knew the Rangers’ second baseman had been caught stealing. He applied the tag on Kinsler’s shoulder and, without waiting for second base umpire Alfonso Marquez’s call, flipped the ball to Cano to start the around-the-horn. Cano caught the ball and stood there agape. Marquez had called Kinsler safe.

Somehow, in the ensuing moment of disbelief that followed, no one on the Yankees was thrown out of the game. Francisco Cervelli ran toward second base with an “Are you kidding me?” look on his face. Jeter says “Wait a minute” and starts conversing with the umpire. Joe Girardi, looking as mad as I’ve ever seen him, comes charging out on the field. But the outrage was to no avail. Marquez wouldn’t reverse his call, and baseball, mired in some traditionalist past where an easily correctible human error is allowed to rule the game, can’t figure out how to implement a sensible instant replay review. In the amount of time Girardi argued, the play could have been called correctly.

It’s not stretch to say that Marquez’s call changed the pace of the game. After Kinsler stole, Mitch Moreland walked, and Bengie Molina sacrificed the runners. Pedro Borbon hit a tapper to second that plated Kinsler, and then Javier Vazquez induced an Elvis Andrus flyout to end the inning. Andrus shouldn’t have been batting, and if the fallacy of the predetermined outcome were to hold true, the inning should have ended with the score knotted at zero.

Of course, the game ended up being a tense and endless one-run affair that ended in a walkoff in the bottom of the 13th. Of course, the Yanks failed to hit with runners in scoring position, going 3 for 17 and stranded 18 runners over the course of the game. Of course, Joba, oh so good lately, couldn’t escape The Eighth Inning with a lead. Of course, the Rangers used their expanded roster to send every person in Arlington to the mound. While the game turned on any one of these moves, the fact remains that Kinsler’s stolen base/caught stealing changed the game.

In 2010, Marquez simply as no excuse. He was standing above the play; he had a great view of the throw and the tag; and yet he missed it. Just as Jim Joyce blew the call in Detroit, so too did Marquez. It happens. But that doesn’t mean it should be allowed to stand. A simple review — one shot of the tag on instant replay — would have been enough to get the call right, and it’s moments such as these — isolated plays where the one event in question triggers a dead ball — are ripe for replay.

Major League Baseball continues to insist that any version of instant replay review would mess with the pace of the game. Fans don’t want to wait, they say, while the umpires huddle. Maybe that’s true for some people, but I’d rather see the umps get calls such as the one last night right. If it means waiting a minute or two, that’s a-OK with me. It’s far more enjoyable to see the game called properly than it is to see Ron Washington make five mid-inning pitching changes.

I went to bed annoyed at the Kinsler call last night, and I woke up still annoyed. The Yanks could have overcome it with just another hit or two with runners in scoring position, but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. And that is fully on Alfonso Marquez and Bud Selig’s obsession with some misguided notion of nostalgia.