Lately, we’ve seen Yankees fans fall into two camps. Those who have “given up” on the season, and those who haven’t. I have a question on this front, asked directly in the title: how do fans give up on the season?
We’re not the ones playing the games. It’s not like the Yanks are powered by the number of people who think they’re still in the race. Only the players can give up. You might think that they have. You have no way of knowing, but you can assume, if that’s your bag.
I guess I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what it means for fans to give up. Does it mean you won’t go to any of the remaining games? If that’s the case, you can certainly make a few dollars for your tickets. I know a number of people who would like to see the final games at the Stadium, whether or not the Yanks are contending.
Does it means that you won’t watch on TV anymore? That’s the mark of a real baseball fan right there. Watch your team while they’re winning, stop when they’re out of it. There’s a name for that type of fan. Hootie & the Blowfish know what I’m talking about. If that’s your thing, go ahead.
Does it mean you’re abandoning any expectations? I’m not sure that makes a difference, at least for me. Whether I expect them to win or lose, I still get frustrated when the Yanks fail to score runs, and when their mediocre pitchers give up five runs in four innings. I can tell myself that it doesn’t matter, but lying never got me very far.
Does it mean declaring the season dead? What does that accomplish? What, is the New York Post smarter than everyone else because they put a picture of a tombstone on the back page in mid-August? Is a blogger smarter for saying it’s over, let’s pack it in? I think not. We’re fans. We’re here to watch the team. What fun is it to sulk? How can anyone stand to go through an entire season doing nothing but criticize the team, bitching all the while? That’s not why I watch baseball, at least.
I remember back in ’96, when I was a freshman in high school, everyone started wearing Yanks caps in October. A few friends and I complained about the bandwagon mentality. Well, maybe this is just the kind of purge we need. Get rid of the fans who don’t care enough to watch a season of baseball. Of course, if the Yanks start winning next year, they’ll be back just as if they never left. C’est la vie.
So, I reiterate the question. What does it mean for fans to throw in the towel? Is it symbolic? Do you think it makes you a smarter fan? I’ve always yearned for a crop of smart baseball fans, with whom I could discuss the game with at a reasonable level. I have that with RAB. But if being a smart fan means bitching that the season is over, well, then maybe I got what I wished for — it’s just not what I had in mind.
There’s no need to declare the Yankee season over that. I’ll let David Pinto’s eloquent eulogy carry the day in that regard.
After all, just a year ago, the Colorado Rockies, the NL’s 2007 World Series representative, were 6.5 games out of the Wild Card. The Yankees are down; they’re not playing well; and Joe Girardi, as David Cone opined on the post-game show tonight, doesn’t really know what to do with this group of ballplayers. But until they’re mathematically eliminated, I’m not ready to throw in the towel. They do, however, have a very steep climb ahead of them.
Tonight, the game started and ended with the Yankee pitching. Sidney Ponson got off to a rocky start in the first inning. Before the Yanks had a chance to bat, they were facing a 2-0 deficit, and Ponson didn’t seem to have that sinker working. But Ponson seemed to right the ship for a few innings, and he pitched through the second, third and fourth without incident.
In the fifth, with the Yanks and Red Sox knotted at two, Ponson allowed another two runs, and Joe Girardi quickly yanked him. Again, a Yankee pitcher couldn’t get out of the fifth, and again the bullpen would be called up on for more than four innings of work.
The bullpen wasn’t up for the job. While Edwar Ramirez and Damaso Marte kept things under control, Jose Veras and David Robertson, once again called upon in a situation in which he was nearly obligated to fail, allowed seven runs in the eighth. That would be all for the Yankees.
Ponson allowed 11 baserunners in 4.2 innings. The bullpen allowed seven earned runs in one inning of work while tossing up zeroes in the other 3.1, and when the game ended, it didn’t matter that A-Rod was 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. It didn’t matter that Jason Giambi blasted yet another home run off Mike Timlin. All that mattered was that Lisfranc injury to Chien-Ming Wang, that reliance on starters that just shouldn’t be here, and an offense that just isn’t doing what it should be doing.
The Yanks are down. But I’m not ready to count them out. Hope springs eternal, even with September growing closer.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Buffalo)
Justin Christian: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
Melky, Juan Miranda & Shelley: all 1 for 4 - Melky drove in a run & walked … Shelley K’ed
Ben Broussard: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
Nick Green: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – 12 for his last 23 (.522) with 8 RBI
Eric Duncan & Chad Moeller: both 1 for 4, 2 K – Moeller allowed a passed ball
Bernie Castro: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing)
Phil UUUSE: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 6-6 GB/FB – 61 of 87 pitches were strikes (70.1%) … call him up to take Ponson’s next start? Why not, it’ll be after rosters expand
Phil Coke: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB - 13 of 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)
Mark Melancon: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 15 of 20 pitches were strikes (75%)
I hate to say that the Yankees ever have to win a game, but I think, for tonight, I’m going to go with this one: If the Yankees don’t win tonight, it will be extremely hard for them to make the playoffs. Of course, even if they do win tonight, it’ll still be extremely hard for them to make the playoffs.
Left to the task of winning tonight’s game is Sidney Ponson. The Aruban is 3-3 with a 5.46 ERA while on the Yankees, and his WHIP remains a lofty 1.61. He last faced the Red Sox on July 3rd and gave up seven earned runs in four innings. The Yanks are going to need a better effort from Ponson tonight.
Opposing Sir Sidney will be Paul Byrd. The righty, a post-deadline acquisition for the Red Sox, is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 13.1 innings for Boston. On the season, he’s 8-11 with a 4.61 ERA. While Byrd bounced the Yanks from the playoffs last year, he’s been far less successful this year. Against the Bombers, he is 1-1 but with a 6.75 ERA. He has allowed six Yankee home runs in 12 innings this year. Slugfest, anyone?
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
Repeating History:Yes, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez are still hitting back-to-back in the lineup. Giambi since the All Star Break is hitting .232/.355/.414 with six home runs, but he’s gone deep twice against Byrd this season.
A “God Bless America” Brouhaha: Deadspin has an alarming report about a fan who got roughed up by the cops and kicked out of the Stadium last night after failing to show what the police officers viewed as proper respect for Kate Smith. We covered this issue in May of 2007, but this development sounds like one ugly incident.
Jack Curry, on The Times’ Bats blog, picks up a story about Tim Wakefield and his locker in the visiting clubhouse at the Yankee Stadium. Lou Cucuzza, the Yankees clubhouse manager, is giving Wakefield the 49 plaque that has, for the last 14 years, indicated the Red Sox’s knuckleballer’s spot in the room. Wakefield, who served up on the more famous home runs in recent Yankee Stadium history, speaks wistfully of Yankee Stadium, and this piece is just another hint that the crazy fans, by and large, take this rivalry way more seriously than the players. · (15) ·
When C.J. Henry asked for his release from the Phillies, many thought it was to pursue a career in basketball. Instead, he re-signed with the Yankees, making the Bobby Abreu deal look even better. Now, after an injury-plagued year, Henry has announced that he will join the Memphis Tigers for their 2008-2009 Division 1 basketball campaign. After high school, Henry had signed with Kansas, but forewent that after the Yankees drafted him in the first round. Strangely enough, the school he previously committed to defeated his current team in the NCAA finals bac in March.
In any event, I can’t imagine the Yanks are happy about this decision. Henry might not have much promise left in baseball, but he’s still under contract with the team. And we know what happened last time a Yankee played some off-season basketball.
Henry will return to the Yankees for next season. · (21) ·
As the openings of two new baseball stadiums draw closer and a new football stadium grows in the Meadowlands, ticket prices are in the news these days. The most recent warning sign on tickets comes to us from Times scribe Richard Sandomir. In Tuesday’s paper, he wrote about rising ticket prices and the fan outrage that goes along with the increases.
Even as fans of the Mets, the Yankees, the Giants and the Jets look forward to state-of-the-art stadium architecture, better sightlines, wider concourses and more bathrooms, some of them are also facing startling increases in ticket costs during a serious economic downturn.
The teams are confident market research supports the increases, but season-ticket holders say the price they are being asked to pay in the new stadiums — the Mets’ $800 million Citi Field, the $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium and the $1.6 billion (and climbing) Jets-Giants stadium — is turning them into something other than fans. Instead, interviews with two dozen fans indicated, they are starting to feel like unwitting bankers…
Tickets for the best seats at the 85-year-old Yankee Stadium, which sold for $1,000 a seat this season, will jump at the new ballpark to $2,500; in other areas of the stadium, they will range from $135 to $500 for season tickets. Prices for single-game tickets, which ranged from $14 to $400 this season, will be released later.
The Yankees, to be fair, have said that a majority of their tickets won’t see price increases in 2009. What 2010 and beyond hold is anyone’s guess.
Meanwhile, as Sandomir writes, the fans are complaining about the jump in price because they’re not getting anything in return. We as fans don’t necessarily want the new stadiums, but we’re being asked to front the costs of the fancier facilities, Margarita bars and steakhouses through significantly higher ticket prices.
The teams, as the excerpt above notes, believe they’ll get enough corporate buyers for the season tickets to justify the price increases, but how does that impact the fan base? If the only people who can afford games now are the suits at New York’s major corporations and Wall Street firms, what happens to the fans without obscene paychecks and Park Ave. penthouses who have long come to Yankee games and have long sat in seats that, while an expensive luxury, weren’t priced out of budgets for all but the richest of New Yorkers?
I know full well that baseball stadiums and ticket prices respond to the market forces. I know that, on StubHub, the cheapest tickets are selling for well above face value because there are only 14 games left in regular season Yankee Stadium history. But I have to wonder if teams owe to their fans to keep face-value prices somewhat reasonable. Free-marketers will say no, and the Yankees aren’t about to tear down their nearly-finished new stadium. But call me sentimental; the new place with its high-priced crowd just won’t be the same, and economics are indeed partly to blame for it.
The Mets on Monday put the current Shea Stadium seats on sale via their Website, and they’ve been selling like hotcakes. According to a report in amNew York on Tuesday, the team has sold over 6000 seats at $869 a pair. David Freedlander writes that the Yanks will soon start putting parts of the old stadium on sale, but final details have yet to be worked out. You can bet that the cost for parts will be much higher than Shea, an ugly and relatively unpopular stadium with far less historical significance than Yankee Stadium. · (11) ·
I’m not ready to write the obituary for the 2008 Yankees. At least, not yet.
While they’re not going to overcome the 9.5 games separating them from first place in the AL East, they can still make a run at the Wild Card. After all, the team still has a combined nine games against the White Sox and Red Sox, two teams in front of them for playoff spots. They don’t play the Twins, but they do play the Angels and two series against the Rays. That’s a schedule that will force the Yankees to earn a playoff spot and stave off that 2008 season obituary.
Of course, there’s a catch: The Yankees have to start winning, and tonight’s game — a rather discouraging 7-3 loss to the Red Sox — wasn’t a stellar night for boys in the Bronx. The papers tomorrow will begin and end with one man. Alex Rodriguez, at the long end of a season in which he has struggled in the clutch, went 0-for-5 and hit into two double plays. He single-handedly accounted for 26 percent of the Yankee outs and left seven runners on base.
Topping it all off with a throwing error, Alex drew the boo birds and Bronx cheers long into the night. When he grounded into a double play with one out and the bases loaded in the 7th, the crowd expressed its collective, season-long frustration with an underperforming team. When, fittingly on this night, A-Rod struck out to end the game, whatever was left of the 55,058 fans who paid for this game booed perfunctorily. I guess they meant it.
For better or worse, though, the Yankees will rise and fall with A-Rod. Tonight’s game was a rather drastic illustration of that point, and while maybe tonight, for one night, it’s ok to boo Alex Rodriguez, he’s going to be around for the next nine years. The Yankee brass may be, according to Jon Heyman, very skeptical of A-Rod’s extracurricular activities. But they knew what they were getting when he inked his name in blood on that $275 million contract. Until death do us part.
After the game ended, Joe asked me if this was the worst game of A-Rod’s career or just the worst game of his five-year tenure on the Yankees. While Game Six of the 2004 ALCS comes to mind, at least A-Rod can only go up from there. I hope.
But forgetting A-Rod for a second, another Yankee didn’t come through when the team needed him most tonight. That man — Andy Pettitte — will get a pass in the papers tomorrow but only because of A-Rod. Coming off a strong outing in Toronto, Pettitte couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He needed 101 pitches to record just 18 outs, and along the way, he allowed six runs on 10 hits and three walks. The Yankees needed more from Pettitte, and the lefty just didn’t come through.
So now, the Yankees will turn to Sidney Ponson, and that is never a comforting thought. Ponson as a Yankee faced the Sox at the end of July, and the results were not pretty. But that obituary just isn’t ready to go, and the Yanks shouldn’t be ready to give up. Tuesday’s game wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was probably one of the worst of the season. But later on tonight, the Yanks play again for another shot at narrowing that October deficit. There’s always more hope.
Austin Jackson and Kevin Russo are headed to the Arizona Fall League. The Yanks still have five more spots left to fill – four pitchers and an infielder.
Triple-A Scranton (9-1 win over Buffalo)
Justin Christian: 1 for 5
Melky: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 K
Matt Carson: 2 for 5, 3 R, 1 K – threw a runner out at first from RF
Shelley: 1 for 3, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Ben Broussard: 1 for 3, 1 R, 3 RBI – 7 for his last 16 (.438) with 8 RBI
Nick Green: 2 for 4, 2 RBI – 6 for his last 8 (.750)
Eric Duncan & Chris Basak: both 0 for 4, 2 K
Chad Moeller: 1 for 4
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 6-9 GB/FB – 63 of 96 pitches were strikes (65.6%)
Zack Kroenke: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4-0 GB/FB
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, zeroes, 1-2 GB/FB – all 5 pitches were strikes