Game 64: Don’t stop at seven

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

It’s really difficult to not be excited about the way the Yankees are playing these days. They’re getting excellent work on the mound from both the starters and relievers, plus the lineup has seemed to correct their inability to get that big, timely hit. They’re still crushing dingers as well, so it’s the best of both offensive worlds. Seven wins in a row is nothing to sneeze at, and today they’ll push for their first eight-game winning streak since last August. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
Russell Martin
3B Eric Chavez
LHP Andy Pettitte

Today’s game is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. If you’re in the D.C. area, we’re having a little meet-up after the game. Enjoy.

Being on the road means one thing for a Yankees fan

While many Yanks fans are headed down to Washington, D.C. for the series this weekend, I’m headed in the opposite direction. So while they get to watch the game live from Nationals park, I’m stuck with the two voices that any road tripping Yankees fan has to endure. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will be my guides for the weekend’s slate of games.

It’s become popular of late to pile onto this broadcasting team. Some of it is warranted, of course. While Sterling might have a voice made for radio, he fails in so many other aspects of game-calling. It seems as though at least once a game he completely misses a call. As in, he says one thing, when nothing of the sort has taken place on the field. And that’s my biggest complaint.

Sure, there are other annoying aspects of the broadcast. Ralph Nader recently railed against the in-game advertisements Sterling reads. These ads, he says, “disrupt the flow and excitement of the game broadcast and undermine your responsibilities as a guardian of the national pastime.” It makes for nice rhetoric, but radio is still a business that needs to turn a profit. With traditional ad dollars down, they have to recoup somewhere. Sure, I sometimes imagine Sterling doing spots for companies I’m researching. “That’s an energetic blast, and your company can take care of all its energy needs with ABB energy.” But realizing its’ a business, it’s not that bothersome.

And yes, there are the inane conversations between he and Suzyn about seemingly irrelevant topics. But that’s pretty inevitable in any three-hour broadcast. They have so much time to fill, and even more when a pitcher is working slowly. (And they make sure to lament that when it happens.) It’s tough to begrudge them these conversations, though, because they’re impromptu. They’re naturally going to get a detail wrong here, or go off on an unrelated tangent there. Nature of the beast and all.

Of Sterling’s bombastic calls I couldn’t care less. He created his schtick, and he’s going to run with it until the day he retires. Yes, his home run calls have become increasingly pathetic with age. Oh well. He still gets riled up, and it’s not really bothersome. It is, after all, his broadcast, and if he wants to spice it up in some manner that’s his prerogative. But if that’s all they did — have boring conversations, make ostentatious calls, and read advertisements — I wouldn’t mind. It’d be a trade-off for free descriptions of a baseball game I can’t watch.

No, the real issue is with the descriptions themselves. The broadcast team is the eyes and ears for those who have no other means. And in this regard Waldman and Sterling fail us. Again, it’s the call Sterling makes that in no way reflects what happened on the field. It’s getting tuned up for a home run call only to have the ball go 30 feet foul (which we have to learn later). Or worse, an “it is high, it is far” call for a ball that lands comfortably in front of the warning track.

The bare minimum I ask from a broadcast is an accurate description of the game, and I don’t feel as though I’m getting that with Sterling and Waldman. I understand some people enjoy their cooky style. That’s fine; it’s a matter of taste, and it’s not as though I’m immune to accusations of bad taste. But style or not, no one can forgive their play calling mishaps. It’s the very foundation of the broadcast, and yet it’s lacking wildly with the Yankees.

As we’ve learned, the Yankees could be switching broadcast stations next season. There’s a chance that this is the last hurrah for Sterling and Waldman. If so, I’d welcome the new blood. Not because I can’t stand Sterling’s home run calls, not because I’m turned off by in-game ads (the new team will read them, too, just as the teams before Sterling did), and not because I don’t enjoy Waldman’s insights. It’s because they’re failing at the most basic aspect of their jobs. Describe me the game. Even if you do nothing more, add no more personality, at least I’m informed. As a baseball fan with no way to watch the game, that’s all I ask.

Make It Seven: Yanks beat Nats behind Hughes, Granderson

Source: FanGraphs

I’d say Nationals Park was 50-50 on Friday, basically half Yankees fans and half Nationals fans. There were a ton of boos to counteract the cheers for the Bombers, though I definitely heard a) a mini-roll call, b) a “De-Rek Je-Ter” chant, and c) at least two “Let’s Go Yan-Kees” chant. New York won it’s seventh straight game thanks to another strong start from Phil Hughes and some timely hitting in the mid-to-late innings. Since I assume most of you saw the game and know what happened, here are some random thoughts rather than a blow-by-blow recap…

  • Joe Girardi had to know Robinson Cano was going to be intentionally walked in the seventh inning, right? I mean … you could see it coming a million miles away. It obviously doesn’t matter now and it is just nitpicking, but the best move probably would have been to use him to pinch-hit for Jayson Nix rather than have Nix bunt one batter prior. They still would have had Raul Ibanez (or Eric Chavez) to pinch-hit for the pitcher.
  • Curtis Granderson is really starting to hit the ball the other way, and with authority. It seemed to all start during the series in Oakland, but it continued on Friday with his opposite field two-run double to blow things open in the seventh.
  • Phil Hughes struck out a season-high nine and he looked really good outside of a sloppy third inning. He actually got more ground balls (five) than fly balls (four), including a big double play ball to end that third inning. After that double play, Phil retired nine of the next ten men he faced to end his outing and has pitched to a 3.35 ERA in his last seven starts. Prettay prettay good.
  • Oh, and the streak is over! Hughes did not allow a homer in a start for the first time this season. He was two starts away from the all-time franchise record of 14 straight starts with a dinger. I had my money on Danny Espinosa for the #obligatoryhomer.
  • Gio Gonzalez also looks really good. The Yankees were able to get his pitch count up there early, but he’s not the nibbler he was with the Athletics these last few years. At 26 years old, it seems like the light bulb is starting to turn on. Glad he’s in the NL in that case.
  • I was happy to see David Robertson get an inning in just to get those first game back jitters out of the way. He did allow a run on a double and some ground outs, but no one really cares. I’m glad he’s back.
  • How awful did Clay Rapada make Bryce Harper look in the eighth? That was as bad a hack as he could reasonably take.
  • Speaking of awful, Alex Rodriguez‘s base-running blunder to end the third was as bad as it gets. Alex is by far the most instinctual player I’ve ever seen, but that was just bone-headed.
  • The Yankees were poised to win their first homerless game of the season … until Granderson ruined things by going deep in the ninth. This is why we can’t have nice things, Curtis.

As I said before, this is now seven wins in a row. It’s also ten wins in the last 11 games, 12 in the last 14, and 17 in the last 21. This is the best baseball the Yankees have played in a while, maybe even going back to 2009. What do you think? Anyway, has the box score, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Andy Pettitte and Jordan Zimmermann give it a go in game two on Saturday afternoon, then after than come join us for our post-game meet-up if you’re in town.

Sanchez homers, Gumbs has four hits in win

Tonight you get bullet points, and you will like it…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Chris Dickerson doubled while Ramiro Pena tripled, accounting for the team’s only extra-base hits. Corban Joseph and Jack Cust each drove in one run while Ramiro plated two. Go Ramiro. Dellin Betances through 103 pitches in only 4.2 IP, but he only walked two while striking out four. He did allow seven hits and three runs. Chase Whitley allowed a run in two innings of relief.
  • Double-A Trenton (loss): Abe Almonte had three singles and two steals while Luke Murton hit a solo jack to highlight a dull offensive night. Shaeffer Hall allowed three runs in six innings in an equally dull pitching night.
  • Low-A Charleston (win): Mason Williams and Kelvin DeLeon each had two singles while Angelo Gumbs had four. Gary Sanchez singled and homered — his third jack in four games — while Rey Nunez singled and doubled. Evan rutckyj threw five scoreless, walking two and striking out four.

High-A Tampa is off until Monday for the All-Star break. The actually game will be played on Saturday.

Game 63: The Nation’s Capitol

(Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

This is going to be a fun series. The Nationals are very clearly a team on the rise with some of the most exciting young players in the game, and these two clubs come in playing very well. Both the Yankees and Nationals have won six straight and both clubs are in first place, Washington by six in the loss column and New York by one. Their run differentials — +46 and +42 — are nearly identical. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Nick Swisher
LF Andruw Jones
Russell Martin
2B Jayson Nix — Robinson Cano‘s fine, just has terrible numbers vs. Gio Gonzalez (0-for-9, 4 K)
RHP Phil Hughes

Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on My9 locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

FanGraphs Q&A with Tyler Clippard

David Laurilia of FanGraphs interviewed former Yankee and current Nationals closer Tyler Clippard when Washington was visiting the Red Sox last weekend, and the two spoke about a number of topics that I thought were worth sharing. Clippard spoke about having a “closer’s mentality” and the idea of leveraging relievers, why he falls off to the first base side on fastballs and the third base side on offspeed pitches, why he thinks he could go back to starting, plus a whole bunch of other stuff. It’s really fascinating stuff and gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation, so check it out.