It’s getting to the time of year when my roommates and I start our annual whiffle ball league. It’s nothing big, just the three of us and whoever else wants to play. The rules are kind of strange, which is fitting, since there are obstacles galore between us and the home run fence. As much fun as I have, I’m totally envious of these guys:
Is that not the perfect whiffle ball set up? Fence along the edge of the lawn, faux catcher (we use one of those pitching nets), scoreboard, lights…and even a freakin’ practice pitching mound.
I’ll still have to make due with the makeshift field we use, trees and all (we’ve named them Grady and Hanley). But man, what I wouldn’t give for a setup like that.
At 1:15 p.m., the baseball season has meaning.
No, wait. That’s wrong. No, it doesn’t, but don’t tell that to the folks at Yankees.com urging you to “tune in when the rivalry resumes.” The rivalry for the Grapefruit League sure is a good one. Whoever wins today is clearly the much better team.
In real news, Joba Chamberlain believes he is destined for the bullpen to start the season. I’m fine with this move on one condition: that Joba be moved to the starting rotation sooner rather than later. It’s fine to keep his innings under wraps as a reliever at the beginning of the season. It’s fine to have him thrown the 8th innings the Yanks hopefully get off to a hot start.
But his stuff is too and he’s just too dominant to stay in that role. Unless he can maintain a 0.50 ERA out of the bullpen for an entire season, he is much more valuable to the Yanks as a starter than he is a reliever.
And please keep the game thread halfway civilized if possible.
C.C. Sabathia is under contract with the Indians for the 2008 season. It’s still Spring Training with the entire season ahead of us. Yet, for some reason, sports writers are surprised that C.C. won’t talk about the possibility pitching in New York next year. Tampering, folks. It’s a bad thing. · (8) ·
Last night, the draft for the 2008 edition of the YBFBL was held, and by my count, 10 of the 14 teams were present. (Great turnout). I led the league wire-to-wire during the regular season last year thanks mostly to 21st round pick BJ Upton, and I’m pretty sure I won the regular season title in 2006 as well. I’ve gone out without a whimper in the postseason each year, mostly because my team was never deep enough offensively. I plan to change that this year.
Usually, I go into my fantasy draft targeting six or seven key players hoping to land four or five of ‘em. From there, I just wing it and build the rest of my team around those guys. This year, I tried something different. I went in with a set strategy that I’m happy to say I stuck to despite several tempting opportunities to digress. Basically, I loaded up on offense early, and waited until the very end of the draft to grab pitchers–preferably high upside guys. My thinking is that hitters are generally known commodities and can be difficult to obtain during the season, but pitching is so unpredictable that there will certainly be a few quality arms available in free agency along the way. (I grabbed Fausto off the waiver wire last year). Problem is that if my team stinks, I look like an idiot.
I got stuck with the first overall pick in the scissor style draft, meaning I had to wait roughly 15 minutes in between making back-to-back picks; it was quite the ordeal. (The draft started at 9 p.m. and ended at 11:30-ish). Thanks to Patrick for once again putting this together. My roster is after the jump.
In about 12 hours, the Yankees and Red Sox will square off for their first and only meeting of the Spring Training season. With Andy Pettitte making his first start since elbow problems prevented him from
getting even with the Rays throwing last week and Bartolo Colon hoping to win a spot on a team suddenly a bit short on starting pitchers, the game has plenty of drama for the two teams involved.
But as this is New York and Boston, it also has the added bonus of being a media circus. Reporters will descend on Tampa tomorrow afternoon and wax philosophical about this meeting as though it’s a harbinger of things to come this season. They’ll expound on the storied rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox, mentioning the Sox’s two World Series wins over the last four seasons as some sign of dominance in the rivalry. They’ll talk about this as though it’s the be-all and end-all of Spring Training games.
And you know what? I’m sick of it. Spring Training, as we’ve tried to point over the last few weeks, isn’t about winning or losing. It’s not about fine-tuned rivalries or spring stats. It’s about rediscovering baseball and tinkering with pitches. It’s about getting a feel for the strike zone and timing a swing on a fastball. It’s about learning new ways to get hitters out, and it’s about finding new ways to close that hole in a swing.
For four weeks, the baseball season can survive without the Yankees and the Red Sox squaring off, and for four weeks, these two teams can make their ways through Spring Training without the added bonus of an over-hyped game. Both teams would still sell out every single Spring Training game they play with or without facing off against each other.
Sure, I’ll enjoy the game tomorrow afternoon, and maybe I’m being a bit too sensitive. But when all is said and done, Spring Training doesn’t count, but everyone covering this circus sometimes thinks it does.
Yesterday afternoon, in Midtown Manhattan, a crane took a disastrous fall into some nearby buildings, crushing a Brownstone and destroying a restaurant. While four people died, the death toll could have been higher had it not been for a Yankees Spring Training game.
Manny Fernandez, writing in The Times, has more:
Fubar, the bar that was destroyed by the crane, was not open at the time. It opens at 4 p.m., and the owner, John P. LaGreco, said he had been on his way there early Saturday afternoon but had gotten wrapped up in the Yankees preseason game.
Jorge Posada had just driven in a run, the Yankees were down 2-1 in the fourth inning and the bases were loaded. He stayed in his apartment, blocks from the bar, to see what would happen. Then a neighbor, a bartender at Fubar, knocked on his door and told him what had happened. Mr. LaGreco’s heart raced. “If I wasn’t watching the game,” he said, “I would’ve been killed.”
John P. LaGreco will never again believe that Spring Training does not count.
The Yanks face off against the Indians today in Tampa. Hopefully, midges won’t attack the field.
On the mound, the Yanks’ ace Chien-Ming Wang hopes for another solid start while the Indians are countering with C.C. Sabathia. If this sounds familiar, well, just think back to October. And think ahead to 2009 because I fully expect the Yanks to put on the full-court press for Sabathia come the off-season.
The game is on YES and MLB.tv. You an follow along here via Gameday. As the lineups show, the Yanks are going with something of a mixed squad today.
While Hank Steinbrenner and Jonathan Papelbon engage in their shouting contest, Hank is taking on another opponent too. This time, he’s after the entire Tampa Bay Rays organization. As the feud between the two teams simmers, Hank urged the Rays to get back at the Yanks in another fashion.
“I don’t want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them, and it’s the Yankees, the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets,” he said. “I would prefer if teams want to target the Yankees that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner’s point of view, that’s my point.” While he probably shouldn’t be saying this, the man has something of a point. · (13) ·
Via PeteAbe comes word that the Yanks have placed Andrew Brackman on the 60-day DL as he rehabs from TJ, and added Billy Traber to the 40-man roster in his place. This doesn’t necessarily mean Traber will be with the big league squad come Opening Day, but his chances just went up exponentially. Let’s just hope the Billy Traber Era goes better than the Wedsel Gary Groom Jr. Era. The Organizational Depth Chart has been updated accordingly. · (13) ·