Just a heads up, I’m going to be appearing on Fantasy Pros 911 on Sirius (210) and XM (87) Fantasy Sports Radio at 9:35am ET or so this morning. We’re going to talk about the Yankees and baseball around the league in general, so make sure you tune in.
Almost, almost. It looked like it would be a blowout early on, but the Yankees fought back valiantly to tie things up before losing the battle of the bullpens. I’m not sure how often that will happen, but two hits in six innings against Brett Tomko, Arthur Rhodes, Darren Oliver, and Neftali Feliz is facepalm worthy. Recap time? Recap time.
- Bartolo Colon just didn’t have it, though the velocity was there. That’s a good sign, it was just his command that betrayed him. He allowed five runs and nine hits in 4.1 IP, though almost all the damage was done in a four-run second inning. After three straight strong starts, Colon’s allowed a stinker. Three out of four ain’t bad at all.
- The Yankees charged back from that five-zip hole mostly in the third inning, when the biggest hit was Robinson Cano clearing the bases with a triple that was aided by Julio Borbon whiffing on a dive in center. Derek Holland walked five in a ten batter span, contributing to the rally.
- Derek Jeter actually had an extra base hit, and it was unquestionably his hardest and farthest hit ball of the season. It bounced off the wall in straight away left field. He also singled and made the final out of the game. Nick Swisher homered, both Curtis Granderson and Jorge Posada walked twice, Mark Teixeira singled twice, and Russell Martin made six outs in four plate appearances thanks to double plays.
- Boone Logan has been pretty terrible against left-handed batters this year, and two of the three he faced picked up hits. The third ripped a line drive to right that Swish ran down on his horse. Of the 25 lefties Logan’s faced this year, 11 have reached base. That’s awful. Get well soon, Pedro.
- Texas scored the go-ahead run on what Cyborg Tommy Hanson would call a NINNYBUNT, then they tacked on an insurance run on a Michael Young single back up the middle. I don’t get it, he was 3-for-3 to that point and has been killing the Yankees all year. Why do they insist on pitching to the other team’s best hitters in potentially dangerous spots with a base open? Oh well, at least it wasn’t the game-winning hit. Here’s the box score and video, and here’s the WPA graph.
Rubber game Sunday afternoon at 2pm ET. CC Sabathia will square off against Dave Bush. Alexi Ogando was supposed to start, but he’s been scratched with a blister issue. Dave Bush is certifiably terrible, but we know how that usually goes for the Yankees…
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 loss to Pawtucket)
Dan Brewer, RF: 2 for 6, 1 2B, 2 K
Chris Dickerson, DH: 0 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB – seven walks in his last six games
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 2 K – four for his last 27 (.148) with ten whiffs
Justin Maxwell, CF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K – that’s homer number ten
Brandon Laird, 3B: 0 for 5, 1 E (fielding) – still below the Mendoza line
Jordan Parraz, LF: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 BB
Luis Nunez, 2B: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 SB
Gus Molina, C: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB – yay Gus!
Doug Bernier, SS: 0 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K
Jesus Montero, PH: 1 for 1 – didn’t start because of the whole day game after a night game thing
Adam Warren, RHP: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 7-1 GB/FB – 50 of 86 pitches were strikes (58.1%) … at least he out-pitched his former college teammate
Amaury Sanit, RHP: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 4-1 GB/FB – 33 of 46 pitches were strikes (71.7%)
Ryan Pope, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – ten of his 15 pitches were strikes
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – seven of his dozen pitches were strikes (58.3%)
Last night’s win was great, but let’s get greedy. Bring the pain, Bartolo.
Bartolo Colon, SP
Stupid Saturday night games. This one starts a little after 8pm ET and can be seen on both YES and the MLB Network. Enjoy.
These Saturday night games are a bitch, but here’s something to help you pass the time. Chris O’Leary, who’s written more about baseball mechanics than I care to recap, broke down Derek Jeter’s swing and shows us what’s going wrong with the Cap’n. “Jeter strikes me as your classic incredibly gifted athlete who, as he gets older, is no longer able to get away with a highly unusual, and fundamentally flawed, swing,” says O’Leary. Make sure you check it out, there’s tons of gifs to show you exactly what’s going on. Very interesting stuff.
On Friday over at The Process Report R.J. Anderson published a piece noting that the entire Rays rotation is pitching more backward. By this he meant that the staff was throwing more offspeed pitches early in the count than they had in the past. Anderson concluded that this was likely the result of a strategic decision by the Baseball Operations department. The Rays have the luxury of little turnover in the rotation (lost Garza, added Hellickson), so there’s good year to year comparative data there, but in New York the situation is slightly different. Andy Pettitte is out to pasture, Phil Hughes is injured, and Javier Vazquez is currently chucking his 87 mph nothingball for the Florida Marlins. The Yankees currently boast only two members of the 2010 Opening Day squad in the current pitching rotation: CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. By and large, Sabathia is doing what he’s always been doing, but there’s been a subtle change in AJ’s approach this year. It’s for the better.
The biggest anecdotal difference this year for A.J. Burnett is the increased quality of his offspeed offerings. Last year his curveball was flat and ineffective, and this year it’s shown signs of returning to form. Last year he rarely threw a changeup, but this year he’s been breaking it out way more often, albeit less as of late. Greater confidence in his offspeed stuff has enabled him to pitch more backwards this season, especially against left-handed batters. Here’s the breakdown for his pitch data against lefties in 0-0 counts in the past two years:
Like the Rays staff, Burnett is throwing fewer fastballs on 0-0 counts. It’s still his primary go-to pitch on the first pitch of the at-bat, but so far he’s thrown it 17% fewer than last year. Instead, he’s throwing his curveball and his changeup, upping the former by about 6% and the latter by about 11%. In fact, he’s thrown his changeup as a first pitch in 2011 only 4 times fewer than he did in 2010. Clearly he’s showing a greater willingness to deploy the pitch early on.
This usage pattern demonstrates a greater confidence in the quality of the pitches. He’s throwing his changeup for a strike about 58% of the time in 2011, up about 25% from his 2010 mark. This could be sample size noise but it does appear anecdotally that he has better command of the pitch than he did last year. Interestingly, he’s thrown the curveball for a strike on 0-0 only 37% of the time so far this year, down from 44%.
Despite the fact that he throws from the right side, A.J. Burnett has always been tougher on left-handed batters than right-handed batters. He boasts a career average FIP of 3.61 against lefties, with a 8.97 K/9 and 3.77 BB/9. Against righties he’s averaged a FIP of 4.02 with a K/9 of 7.99 and a BB/9 of 3.02. Last year everything fell apart, including his trademark toughness on lefties. A.J. struck out only 6.53 per nine and walking 4.2 batters per nine innings. This year he’s gotten the train back on the track. He’s been slightly less tough on righties (5.61 K/9 and 4.27 FIP), but he’s back to his old ways against lefties, posting an 8.50 K/9 and 3.50 FIP. This is no doubt related to the quality of his offspeed pitches. As he’s able to command one or more offspeed offerings and throw them for strikes early in the count he will keep hitters off balance and put them away via the strikeout. Given the considerable risk in the Yankees rotation, this improvement is a very welcome development.
I can’t be the only one who likes to look at all the terrible things people wear at the ballpark, right? There should be a law banning bad baseball clothes. Luckily, I’m a girl, so I’m perfectly prepared to make a proper list of fan appropriate attire, and a baseball fan, so I can judge other fans all I want. I could go on for a while with this, but I’ll only cover general stuff and the two most important things.
- You should only be wearing baseball attire of a team in your current ballpark. The lone exception to this is if you are sporting merchandise of a closely affiliated rival. If you’re wearing Red Sox gear at a Yankees/Twins game, I know who you’re rooting for. If you’re wearing Diamondbacks gear, you just look stupid.
- You should only be wearing the baseball attire of one (1) team that is playing in the ballpark. Anyone who wears both Yankees and Red Sox attire to a Yankees/Sox game should be shot. The point of wearing team colors is to show your affiliation to a team. Wearing both sides is like admitting you have no rooting interest. Why are you at the ballpark if you don’t want someone to win? Corporate event?
- Wearing gear of an affiliated minor league team to the major league ballpark (and vice versa) is very cool. Oh, you watch the Trenton Thunder? You must be wise.
- Don’t wear pink. There are lots of social settings for pink. The ballpark is not one of them.
- You can tell the SABR geeks from everyone else with their oversized calculators. Avoid at all costs.
The jersey is the ideal shirt for any baseball fan. There are going to be a lot of jersey-wearing folk at any game you go to. Obviously, the people wearing the jerseys are the best fans, so if you have any important questions about the team, they’re the ones to ask. Here are some important rules to follow:
The name/number on the back:
- Historical players and current players are both okay.
- The jersey should have the proper name of the player in question. Nicknames are not okay. “Sandman” is for the speakers, not your back.
- Obscure nicknames will be funny to the four people who recognize them, but I would personally advise against it if you don’t want people giving really strange looks to your back.
- “Captain Groundballs” and all other witty nicknames are only funny on the internet, not embroidered.
- Name shortening is not okay.
- Stealing other players’ nicknames is not okay, even if they apply. A friend of mine once saw a 2 Yankees jersey that had “the Franchise” on it. Take that guy outside and shoot him.
- Your jersey player shows what kind of person you are:
- Player working on long, storied career (Jeter, Rivera, Posada): I don’t want to screw up what jersey I have, because I only have one.
- Player just signed to big contract (Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira): I like buying jerseys of players that are successful. I probably have a few.
- Player recently departed (Pettitte, Mussina, Matsui): I have been a fan since before this year.
- Successful player, but not quite storied (Granderson, Swisher, Hughes): I am trendy, and I’m going to tell people I had this jersey before the player in question got big.
- Any historically great player (Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio): I have more jersey security and less originality than you could ever have.
- Pavano jersey: So, what’s a home run, again?
A few additional notes:
- Do not tuck in your jersey unless you are actually going to play baseball.
- If you’re going to wear a jersey you found on the internet for $20, at least try to find one that looks close to what your team actually wears.
- Don’t wear a Pavano jersey.
Hats are big. Hats are where most fans go astray, too. The great thing about a hat is that it’s acceptable in virtually every social setting that’s remotely casual, so you can take your visible fan affiliation everywhere you go. While there are lots of different hats (and many you shouldn’t wear), I’m going to focus entirely on baseball caps. I’ve separated this category into some easy Do’s and Don’ts:
- Wear the hat most like the players of your team. Official caps are simple and classic. If it’s good enough for the ballplayers to be wearing it, you should be wearing it too.
- The older the cap is, the better. Wear makes hats look better, not worse.
- Got a cap with an old logo the team doesn’t use any more? Wear it. You’re obviously the best fan.
- Wear team colors. Again, no pink. The only other acceptable color scheme for a hat is black-on-black. Simple and classic, folks.
- Wear over-complicated designs. The more stuff going on on your hat, the less sense someone is going to make of it.
- Leave the sticker on your hat. I don’t know when this became cool, but if you take the tag off your clothes, why wouldn’t you take it off your hat?
- Wear holiday-baseball hats. There are no holidays (but there is a Holliday) in baseball besides the All-Star Break.
- Are you a hipster? No? No plaid. Is there a team that wears plaid? No.
- No pink.
Equipped with this knowledge, you can sally forth as the best-dressed baseball fan around. Even if you don’t actually know what you’re watching, you can certainly look like a long-term fan of whatever team you’re going to just by sticking to some easy rules. And after all, going to a ballgame is all about how you look. Right?