The New York Times takes a look today at how Yankee Stadium will be arranged for the Pope’s visit and Mass next week. Considering how few non-baseball events take place at the Stadium these days, it makes for a great read. The Pope will be standing on a platform above Robinson Cano’s customary spot, and this graphic on how the clergy will give Communion to 57,000
fanspeople in 14 minutes is a good one. Watch out for the steep upper deck, they say. · (1) ·
In their continuing series of interviews with Yankee bloggers, the folks at YanksBlog.com sat down with Tyler Kepner, one of our favorite beat writers. Kepner talks about his long-time fandom, the limitations of blogging under The Times’ editorial structure and that ever-controversial 8th inning bullpen spot. · (5) ·
When I got home tonight, one of my closest friends, who happens to be a Worcester native and Red Sox fan, offered me the typical Red Sox fan excuse to tonight’s game. “I don’t think he pitched well tonight as crazy as that sounds,” he said about Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang. “10 GBs. 14 Flies. I saw a LOT of line drives that were caught, yes, but a lot of ‘em.”
It’s true; for someone looking at Chien-Ming Wang in a vacuum, tonight’s outing was not particularly “good” in the traditional 20-ground-ball outs sense of the meaning. That Wang recorded more outs in the air than on the ground is a notable rarity. In fact, outside of last year’s disastrous ALDS, tonight’s game marked the first time since August 18, 2006 that the Wangster recorded more air outs than ground outs.
Interestingly enough, that outing came against the Red Sox during the five-game 2006 Boston Massacre, and it’s not coincidence that Wang pitches differently against the Red Sox. It is, in fact, part of his evolution into the Yankee ace.
Heading into tonight’s game, Wang was just as aware as we were of the Red Sox’s past success against him. He knew that his greatest struggles as a starter in the Big Leagues came against Boston and mostly in Fenway. There’s just something about that park that doesn’t lend itself to his sinkerball. Perhaps it’s the mound; perhaps it’s the Boston hitters’ approach to Wang’s pitching style.
Tonight, though, Wang kept the Sox guessing. He pounded the strike zone, throwing nearly 66 percent of his stingy 93 pitches for strikes. He got the double play when he needed it and the outs all night long. He offered up a better mix of pitches than we’ve seen him throw, and he showed why he is indeed that Yankee ace we all thought the team needed.
Meanwhile, the 6-5 Yanks owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jose Molina, and all that deal took was Jeff Kennard. Who ever knew Kennard would be so useful to the Yanks?
Great, great game by Cy Wang tonight. He’s off to a helluva start.
JB Cox is scheduled to make his season debut tomorrow for High-A Tampa, FYI.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Durham) old pal Andy Cannizaro batted third for the Bulls
Brett Gardner: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K – 3 of his 7 hits have gone for extra bases
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
Juan Miranda: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Shelley: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – two games in AAA, two bombs
Cody Ransom: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Nick Green: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – 4 doubles and a homer in 7 games
Darrell Rasner: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 9-3 GB/FB – 55 of 84 pitches were strikes (65.6%)
Edwar: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K – 3 baserunners, 11 K in 6 IP
Jose Veras: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Lock your laptops, folks. Clay Buchholz, he of the stolen laptops (and, yes, a Major League no-hitter), is making his first start against the Yankees tonight. Buchholz had a bad Spring Training and lost his first start of the season.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are countering with their ace. Chien-Ming Wang has looked exceptional this year so far. In two starts covering 13 innings, Wang is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He’s given up 10 hits while walking four and, encouragingly, striking out eight. He’s keeping the ball low and keeping runners off base.
Tonight, though, will be a challenge for Wang. He’s facing a Red Sox team that has, by and large, hit him well over the last few seasons. David Ortiz, currently mired in a 3 for 36 drought to start the season, is 15 for 30 against Wang; Manny Ramirez is 13 for 22; and Kevin Youkilis is 7 for 21. As a team, the Sox hit Wang at a .300/.394/.442 clip and six of the 30 career HRs allowed by the sinkerball specialist have come off the bats of the Red Sox.
The Yankees go with something of a different lineup tonight. Johnny Damon is getting the night off, and the hot-hitting Melky Cabrera will lead off. The game, weather permitting, starts at 7:05 p.m., and we get to experience the drama of a Yankees-Red Sox three-game set all over again.
Chien-Ming Wang P
Coco Crisp CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
J.D. Drew RF – Currently, the AL’s leading hitter (11 for 25, .440 BA)
Jason Varitek C
Sean Casey 1B
Julio Lugo SS
Clay Buchholz P
The MLB and MLBPA have come to terms on new drug policies pursuant to the findings in the Mitchell Report. For starters, all fines imposed through this plan will be donated to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, as well as the Taylor Hooton Foundation. The players will also make a $200,000 donation “to an anti-drug charitable or research organization.” Yes, yes, but what about the new regulations?
1. Increased Independence – the Independent Program Administrator (“IPA”) is appointed for a multiyear term and can be removed only in very narrow circumstances.
2. Increased Transparency – the IPA [ed. note: not to be confused with delicious India Pale Ale] will annually and publicly report key statistics related to the program and record retention requirements will be lengthened.
3. Testing – 600 additional tests will be conducted each year and the number of off-season tests will double on average.
4. Flexibility – the agreement institutionalizes an annual review process to allow the parties to respond to new developments.
5. Education – the IPA, in consultation with the parties, will develop an annual mandatory education program for players.
6. Amateur Draft – Baseball’s testing program will be expanded to cover top prospects.
So are these changes going to revolutionize how MLB polices drug activity?
At least Selig was speaking some sense:
“It is time for the game to move forward. There is little to be gained at this point in debating dated misconduct and enduring numerous disciplinary proceedings. Educating children and their parents about the dangers of performance-enhancing substances is a much more productive endeavor.”
I can’t disagree with any part of that.
Baseball uniform numbers a curious thing. Some players wear numbers in honor of their home; Benny Agbayani’s number 50 comes to mind. Others wear numbers to make something of a statement; think about Bernie Williams, Puerto Rico and the number 51. Others wear numbers to honor their favorite players; Jason Giambi’s 25 commemorates Mickey Mantle’s 7. Yesterday, Tyler Kepner got to talking with Johnny Damon and found out that the Yanks’ left fielder’s 18 is for Darryl Strawberry. Who knew? · (11) ·
When I walked past a newsstand on the way to the subway this morning, my eye fell upon the cover of today’s Post. “Buried shirt puts Sox pox on new stadium,” it read.
When I got in to work and had a chance to read this article, I had to stop for a second and ask myself if the Post was joking. Labeled an EXCLUSIVE, Alexander Hamilton’s one-time great newspaper was trying to sell this story as real news:
A devilish Boston fan working on a concrete crew at the $1.3 billion stadium covertly buried a Red Sox T-shirt under what will become the visiting team’s locker room to jinx the Yanks, two construction workers told The Post yesterday.
“In August, a Red Sox T-shirt was poured in a slab in the visitor’s clubhouse. It’s the curse of the Yankees,” one worker said. “Nobody knows about it. It’s in the floors, it’s buried.”
The workers say they now fear that they unwittingly helped hex their beloved Bronx Bombers. “I don’t want to be responsible for sinking the franchise,” said a second worker, who witnessed the sabotage. “I respect the stadium.”
Really, The Post? Is this the best you could come up with? Is this even true?
Meanwhile, the rest of the article is filled with equally idiotic statements. “Look at the curse of A-Rod. The Yankees haven’t won since [Alex Rodriguez] came to their game. There’s probably more to that than a T-shirt,” Peter Nash, author of a history of Red Sox fans, said. Well, the Yankees haven’t won since Denny Neagle was on the team either but no one’s talking about the Curse of Denny Neagle. Give me a break.
Howard Rubenstein said it best though: “It sounds like a tall tale, and it would take more than a Red Sox T-shirt to put a curse on the Yankees.”
And somewhere Alexander Hamilton rolled over in his grave.
Disclaimer: I do not actually believe the Yankees should do this. But I’m in a good mood after a solid win, and I feel like pulling out a hypothetical.
So Jose Molina’s been hitting the ball pretty well in his six games this season. It’s easy to get excited about that, especially at a time when the rest of the team has been struggling to produce runs. Plus, he’s a superb defensive catcher.
What I’m about to suggest is kind of crazy…okay, really crazy. Please, don’t take me seriously. I cannot stress this enough. But imagine if Molina is on the verge of one of those fluke years, where he hits like .320. Hey, it’s happened before.
Bear with me…imagine Molina is our starter. Jorge can then become the full-time first baseman. Would he be any good there? I can’t imagine him being worse than Shelley Duncan on defense. He looked fine last year when he started the game there in Colorado. At the least, it would give us offensive stability at the position.
Plus, he could be the backup catcher. So he catches twice a week and plays first base or DH for the rest, with a day off here and there. Giambi can slot in a couple of days a week, when Jorge catches, sits, or DHs.
This has the added bonus of curbing some wear and tear on Jorge. He’s signed through 2011, so we might as well keep him fresh as possible. With no viable starting catcher likely to emerge by next year, we’re going to need Jorge there (can’t count on another fluke year from Molina; what do you think I am, nuts?).
That also makes either Shelley or Ensberg obsolete. Not sure what to do on that front. But it’s nice to have a little flexibility.
Of course, that’s all completely predicated on the prayer that Molina somehow manages to hit .320. A man can dream, though. A man can dream.
We now return to your regularly scheduled, not-quite-batshit-insane programming.