• Bill James speaks; everyone listens
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    The good folks at the Freaknomics blog recently got a hold of Bill James for some quality Q-and-A time. They opened the floodgates to their readers and received a lot of questions. In typical Jamesian fashion, the baseball analysis guru answered nearly all of them. Take a look; he talks about Yankee prospects, defensive stats and the overall state of baseball analysis. It’s a good read. · (7) ·

With the start of the season upon us, news and analysis about Yankee Stadium is flowing fast and furious. The stories focus on the last gaps of the old stadium and the ongoing construction efforts across 161st St. to the north. While historical retrospects tinged with nostalgia fill the pages of the city’s papers, not all the news is so rosy as the new Stadium goes up.

Much like efforts to save the old stadium, stories about the Yankee Stadium construction’s impact on the surrounding South Bronx neighborhoods haven’t gained much traction. Neil deMause has spent the last few years beating that drum on his own website and in the pages of the Village Voice, but a movement to force more responsibility from the Yankees hasn’t materialized.

Two stories this week shed some more light on how construction is adversely impacting life around the former Macombs Dam Park. Harvey Aarton in The Times noted how the community was never really against the development of new stadium. Rather, they were and remain against irresponsible development. They did not want their park destroyed and feel they are getting a raw deal from the city and the Yankees:

The Yankees got what they had long lobbied for. The city said it would replace every park acre, roughly 24, and would actually add space. This all sounded perfectly reasonable to the outsider, but the fine print diluted the promise. On a miniature scale, this was Central Park being broken up, spread among the boroughs.

“The story was always about the fragmentation of the park,” said Geoffrey Croft, the president and founder of the NYC Park Advocates, a nonprofit group. “And when I started looking at the replacement scheme, it never added up.”

These advocates believe the Yanks could have spent two years in Shea as they did in the mid-1970s and rebuilt Yankee Stadium on the site of the old ballpark. Of course, then the team would have sacrificed the increase in parking lots surrounding the new area. Maybe these neighborhood activists are onto something after all.

An article in yesterday’s Metro tells a similar story.

Also on Tuesday was a Clyde Haberman column about merchants cashing in on the final years of Shea and Yankee Stadiums. Of course, merchants will cash in, and fans — like me — will buy Final Season memorabilia. Interestingly, the merchants are awaiting the big guns: They want to be able to sell bits and pieces of the old stadiums. With lockers potentially fetching $10,000 and bricks going for $300, there’s real money to be made here.

As the season progresses, we’ll hear a lot about stadiums and history, about construction and community. I think it’s interesting to see how the various pieces of business and culture and neighborhood politics mesh and clash in small area tinged with baseball history in the South Bronx.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Trenton downs Scranton 3-2 in exhibition game
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    Chad Jennings – who else? – has the scoop. Scranton had each of it’s pitchers throw an inning, and the game was called when they ran out of the relievers in the 8th inning. Colin Curtis and Cody Ehlers had RBI singles off Edwar for Trenton, while Matt Carson took Heath Phillips deep for a solo shot. Scranton’s run came via an Eric Duncan RBI ground out, and Brett Gardner scoring on a passed ball. Scott Patterson tossed a perfect inning, and reportedly screamed “they took Albalawho over me?!?” when he walked off the field. DotF returns Thurday. · (9) ·

As Mariano Rivera fanned Lyle Overbay and a Yankee win grew closer, I thought to myself, “This game was a perfect textbook example of a Yankee win.” Their starter threw seven strong innings; the offense came through at the right time; and the Joba-Mo tandem shut down the Jays to record the final six outs of the 3-2 Opening Day win.

As Rivera got the second out, Paul O’Neill read my mind. “That’s just textbook Yankee baseball,” he said, while Michael Kay yammered on incessantly sitting next to him. Of course, textbook baseball here isn’t much of a stretch. The Yanks won, and they won efficiently.

So let’s enjoy the moment in first place and wrap up the game.

The Good: Yankee pitching. While Wang had a few problems locating his pitches, he needed today’s outing. As much as those two disastrous postseason starts were last year, he needed to have it tonight. He needed to come out and remind everyone how he’s won 38 games over the last two years. When he missed tonight, he missed down, and he managed to go 7 innings on 92 pitches. He got six outs in the air and 13 on the ground.

Joba came in and did what Joba does best. After a bumpy Spring Training, Joba proved why LaTroy Hawkins — “Spring Training don’t mean shit” — was right. With a stellar fastball and some great off-speed pitches, Joba ended his appearance with an impressive K of future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. The first pump returned; baseball is back.

And, oh yeah, that Mariano Rivera fellow is pretty good too.

The Bad: If we’re going to nitpick and find bad in this game, it’s probably Jason Giambi at bat. He was downright cat-like in the field, but the bat seemed a little slow at the plate. He’ll come around.

The Ugly: Opposing pitchers’ numbers against A-Rod. The reigning MVP was 2 for 3 with a first-inning double and the Yanks’ first RBI of the season. After crushing the ball during Spring Training and dominating the league last year, A-Rod and his $27.5 million a year are still on fire.

Player of the Game: While YES gave their Player of the Game Award to Chien-Ming Wang, I’m going with RAB whipping boy Melky Cabrera. He made two outstanding catches in the fourth inning and brought the Yanks even with the Blue Jays by homering just over the right field wall. That’s a good start to the season for the soon-to-be-suspended center fielder.

Big Three K Craniosynostosis Challenge: With 2 Joba strike outs, we’ve raised a pledged $6.67 for the Jorge Posada Foundation. That’s a good start.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in on the game thread. We’ve cleared 200 comments on a post for the first time in RAB history. Welcome to 2008. How’s 162-0 sound?

Categories : Game Stories
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So yesterday afternoon’s planned Opening Day didn’t go off quite as scheduled. Mother Nature decided to literally rain on the Yanks’ parade for a little while longer, and the Blue Jays and Yankees will try again tonight.

The keyword there is “try.” At around 5 p.m., it was still raining in the city, and the hourly forecast for the Bronx looks a little dicey. Forget the countdown clock; this non-stop rain is simply the Baseball Gods’ way of telling the Yankees that they should not be messing with baseball tradition with a new stadium.

For the Yankees, yesterday’s rain-out meant that the out-spoken Hank Steinbrenner will make tonight’s game. The Yanks’ Senior Vice President opted to stay in Tampa yesterday when he heard about the expected weather conditions in New York. Funny how that worked out for him.

The lineups are the same; the pitching match-ups are the same. Expect a lot of groundballs skating around on what will be a fairly damp infield. Can Chien-Ming Wang bring home the Yanks’ eleventh straight home opener victory? Will Joe Girardi win the first game managed by someone other than Joe Torre since 1995? We’ll find out, but no matter the answers, it’s time for baseball gain.

New York Yankees
Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui LF
Melky Cabrera CF

Chien-Ming Wang RHP

Toronto Blue Jays
David Eckstein SS
Shannon Stewart LF
Alex Rios RF
Vernon Wells CF
Frank Thomas DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
Marco Scutaro 3B
Gregg Zaun C

Roy Halladay RHP

Notes: As we did last year and on and off through Spring Training, use the comments to discuss anything under the sun. How’s Michael Kay doing? How do the Yanks look? Just chat about the game…Please consider donating to the Big Three K’s Craniosynostosis fundraiser we’re hosting this year to benefit the Jorge Posada Foundation. We’ve received pledges totaling $3.235 per Big Three strike out.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Pay-Rod indeed
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    Salaries continue to skyrocket in baseball, with the average player due to earn $3.15M this year. A-Rod’s $28M salary is tops in the game, and in fact he’ll make more than the 25 guys on the Marlins’ roster PLUS the 8 guys they currently have on the 15-day DL. That’s just all sorts of crazy. Be an engineer they all said … you’ll make good money they all said … my high school guidance counselor was full of shit. · (4) ·

That’s one very big HDTV. (Source: Endgagdet HD)

The Yankees today unveiled their latest technological upgrade coming soon to the new Stadium. The team has partnered with Mitsubishi to install the Major League’s first true high-def LED display in a baseball stadium, according to the press release.

The new Diamond Vision screen will clock in at over 5900 square feet and will employ 8,601,600 LEDs. That will make for some very impressive-looking marriage proposals next season.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Yanks’ wine trumps Sox
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    While we all think Red Sox fans may whine more than Yankee fans, an impartial winetaster from Canada determined yesterday that the Yanks’ charity wine is better than that of the Sox. Bobby Abreu’s Finest Merlot and Jorge Posada’s Jorge Cabernet trumped the David Ortiz and Jason Varitek vintages. In fact, Ortiz’s wine was, in the words of Paul Grieco, a dud. Sounds about right to me. · (5) ·

While all of you are struggling with the heart attack induced by my admittedly mean April Fools prank post, here’s a sight from the aborted Opening Day that isn’t a joke. The Yankees are counting down the games left in Yankee Stadium right on the scoreboard. Take a look:

yscountdown.jpg

To me, there’s something a little bit off-putting about this giant countdown. We know Yankee Stadium’s days are numbered, and we know this summer will be filled with tributes to the legends and myths that dot Yankee Stadium history. But do we really need to have the end of the House That Ruth Built rubbed in our faces like this for the next six months? Fans can’t miss the new stadium, and now they can’t miss this sign either.

Thanks to RAB regular Adam for the shot from today’s postponed Opening Day.

Categories : Rants, Yankee Stadium
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