I can’t seem to close the comments in the first thread, so use this when you see it.
The season is six games old, but it hasn’t felt like it’s really started yet because the team has been on the road the whole time. That all changes today, when the Yankees take the field in the Bronx for the first time since walking off it as World Champions back in November.
Just like that great night, today’s game will be started by Andy Pettitte, who’s starting his fourth home opener. He’s a perfect 3-0 in those other three starts. There’s not much more to say, baseball is back in the Boogie Down. Enjoy it.
Here’s today’s lineup…
And on the mound, the man who won the games that clinched the AL East, ALDS, ALCS, and World Series last year, Andy Pettitte.
Ben, Joe, and I will be at the game, so stop on by to say hi if you want. We’re sitting in YES’ private box Section 426 Row 11 Seats 10-12. For the rest of you watching on the tube, first pitch is scheduled for 1:08pm ET and can be seen on YES. Here’s the schedule of pregame ceremonies…
12:30-12:44 p.m.: Ring ceremony begins
12:44-12:54 p.m.: Introductions
12:54-12:56 p.m.: Giants flag, presentation of colors, and National Anthem
1:01 p.m.: Bernie Williams throws the first pitch
Game Notes: Yankees trainer Gene Monahan, currently away from the team with an undisclosed illness, will be attending the ring ceremony. Geno missed all of Spring Training this year, and although the team had kept his diagnosis a secret, Mariano Rivera said yesterday that Monahan had surgery for cancer. He should get a big standing ovation from his teammates and patience this afternoon as well as from the fans.
Last April the Yankees were targets of widespread criticism. It wasn’t because of their lavish off-season, though, but rather because of their new palace in the Bronx. While the old Yankee Stadium was known as a haven for left-handed hitters, who could pop home runs over the short porch in right, the new Stadium seemed to exaggerate that effect. Both the Yankees and their opponents cleared the fence frequently last April, with the Yankees hitting a home run every 19.87 PA, while opponents hit one every 23.92 PA. The effect persisted in May, with only slight changes in the home run rates. Many thought that the Stadium was clearly hitters’ park, and some went so far as to call it an embarrassment.
In The Star Ledger, Marc Carig tackles the topic of how Yankee Stadium will play in 2010. He notes the trends that I wrote about a few weeks ago on ESPN. Once June hit the home run rate dropped. Opponents felt the brunt, dropping to one home run every 41.83 PA, and staying in the mid-30s for the rest of the season. The Yankees only saw a slight drop-off, though. Their June, July, and August numbers were only slightly worse than the April and May ones. I think this illustrates the issue.
The perception of Yankee Stadium as a bandbox started in April, and was based mostly on a game where Cleveland hit six home runs. Tampa Bay also had a game where they hit four homers. Remember, though, that opponents only came to the plate 311 times in April, hardly a meaningful sample. Opponents hit 13 home runs, but six of them came in that Cleveland game, where Chien-Ming Wang and Anthony Claggett served up the taters. May isn’t quite as explainable, as opponents hit 29 home runs in 672 plate appearances, a slightly quicker pace than April. But, again, their rate dropped off considerably after that.
As I noted in the ESPN TMI article, the Yankees hit a ton of home runs at the Stadium because the team was built to do just that. In addition to the three lefties — Matsui, Damon, and Cano — the lineup featured four switch hitters: Teixeira, Cabrera, Posada, and Swisher. Those four have all hit for more power from the left side in their careers. The plan worked, too, as each of them outpaced their career slugging numbers from the left side. Combined with the raw power of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter’s excellent power numbers to right, the team was not only built for its home park, but was also well-rounded enough to succeed on the road.
We still don’t know if the early season power numbers from last season were an aberration or if they represent some kind of weather pattern at the Stadium. That’s why park factors are best examined using three-year samples. We just don’t know what caused the balls to leave the yard. Were the pitchers just not used to pitching at the park, as Joe Girardi says? Or is there an environmental effect that pushes the balls out? We’ll have a better idea after this April and May, though we still won’t have the full picture. That will take another year or two to determine.
My dad, a lifelong reader of The New York Times, emailed me a few weeks ago as the Yanks were amidst Spring Training. Did I, he asked, notice a decrease in the number of articles about March baseball in The Times Sports Section this year? Granted, The Times has never covered New York sports with the same vigor and thoroughness as the Daily News or The Post, but even by Times’ standards, coverage of baseball this spring seemed light.
At the time, I thought little of it. It was just another discussion point in the ongoing debate my family has over the future of print journalism vs. content and news delivered in real time on the Internet. If The Times didn’t see fit to saturate its Sports pages with Spring Training stories, so be it. Anyone interested in tales from the Grapefruit League could find plenty to read on numerous websites.
Apparently, though, my dad wasn’t alone in noted the decreased content out of Florida and Arizona. Over at Fangraphs yesterday, Marc Hulet surveyed the newspaper industry’s baseball coverage and found that coverage in his area was on the wane as well. Those who added their comments to the piece presented a mixed bag of viewpoints. Some felt that their local papers had ramped up coverage; others felt that print articles remained as they always did.
Upon closer inspection, though, nearly everyone agreed that the Internet is where the news now is. By and large, newspapers have expanded or maintained their sports coverage, but as newspapers decrease in size, that coverage remains online in the form of web-only features, blog posts or various other Internet-based analysis. Some larger sports outlets – ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo – are poaching local talent and providing them with a more maleable platform and a larger potential audience. Others – local newspapers – are pushing their writers to rely upon and use the Internet.
In New York, we’ve seen this paradigm shift unfold. Led by Peter Abraham in 2006, the New York papers ramped up their online presence. Today, Marc Carig, Mark Feinsand and the team at LoHud, among others, bring non-stop online coverage of Yankee news and analysis to the Internet long before their game-recap and news-capsule pieces appear in the next day’s print edition – that is, if the game ends early enough. If I happen upon a Daily News in the subway in the morning after a Yankee game, nothing in the sports section is news to me.
For us, the Internet has always been our primary medium, and although we complement beat writer coverage, we are, in a way, competing for the same eyeballs. We know that ESPN New York, for instance, is making a push to capture Internet-savvy sports fans. We know that New York’s cut-throat tabloids are putting more and more content up on their websites, and so we respond in turn.
This year, as our readers have noticed by now, we’ve changed the format of our game recaps. For decades, baseball game stories have followed a fairly static approach: Run through the chronology of the game, highlight the big plays, get a few rote quotes from the players, file story. Ours are trying to lend something more to the game and our understanding of it. We still highlight the big plays, but we are trying to do so with the assumption that anyone reading knows what happened.
With MLB.com’s replay offerings and numerous enhanced box scores and play-by-play applications prevalent online, fans know the minutiae of the game as it unfolds or soon after they arrive back at their computers. What we want to do is highlight aspects of the game that don’t always pop. A dramatic home run late in the game may appear to be the biggest play, but what of that key out earlier on? What of the two runs scored in the 1st? What of the run prevention in the sixth?
Beyond the results, we can look closely at the process as well. If a pitcher doesn’t have it, can we pinpoint what he was doing wrong? Was it pitch selection, poor scouting or a flat pitch? Player quotes add minimal amounts of context, and what we see at home with advanced pitch charting helps us bring you our reader a more nuanced and complete understanding of the game in context.
Baseball and the Internet have come together nicely over the last decade, and as I wrap up this meta blog post, I am optimistic that the next ten years will be just as productive. It’s an old sport long covered by traditional media adapting to a new and faster way to deliver information. That can only lead to positive developments for everyone involved.
Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Rochester in 11 innings)
Kevin Russo, 3B-2B & Jesus Montero, C: both 1 for 4, 1 BB – Russo drove in a run, stole a base & K’ed … Montero’s had one hit in every game so far
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB – left the game after getting hit by the pitch on the hand when he squared around to bunt
Robby Hammock, 3B: 1 for 1, 1 RBI – walk-off single
Juan Miranda, 1B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K – tied the game up with a two-run homer in the bottom of the 9th
David Winfree, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
Jon Weber, DH: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K - remember when he was all the rage in Spring Training?
Colin Curtis, RF: both 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SB – threw a runner out at third
Reegie Corona, 2B-SS: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Dustin Moseley: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 7-1 GB/FB – 54 of 89 pitches were strikes (60.7%) … love that 13 of the 14 outs he were recorded came via the K or GB (one was a double play), but damn, only 14 outs?
Zack Segovia: 1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 17 of 29 pitches were strikes (58.6%)
Boone Logan: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 22 of 36 pitches were strikes (61.1%) … looking very good so far
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 19 of 33 pitches were strikes (57.6%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of 14 pitches were strikes (78.6%)
With the Yankees set to return to the Bronx tomorrow for their first homestand of the 2010 season, it’s time to spiffy the place up. All I know is that if anyone in my family had seen this guy cleaning the dugout walls like that, he’d be getting yelled at for having his knees in the couch.
Anyway, this is tonight’s open thread. The Nets and Knicks are both in action, plus the Reds and Marlins (Cueto vs. Nolasco) are on MLB Network. I’ll be watching the new episodes of House and 24. Whatever you go with, talk about it here.
With Chris Garcia on the shelf for what will likely be the rest of the season, Double-A Trenton has added former Pirates’ first rounder John Van Benschoten to the bullpen. Lance Pendleton moves from the ‘pen to the rotation to take Garcia’s spot. Those moves by themselves aren’t interesting, but they confirms that Manny Banuelos wasn’t scratched from yesterday’s start because he had been called up. It was a long shot to begin with. Rumors circulate that he’s out with an appendectomy, but those are unconfirmed.