Friday, June 19, 2009

Game 67: Better Than

Andy Pettitte looks to right his 2009 season and end an embarassing two game losing streak when he takes the mound against the Fish tonight. The last time Pettitte faced the Marlins as a Yankee, he was the winning pitcher in Game 2 losing pitcher in the sixth and final game of the 2003 World Series.

He'll be opposed by Marlins rookie Sean West. The 6'8" southpaw has all of 30 Big League innings to his credit. I've looked at his numbers. On the surface they're good. Digging deeper suggests that he's due for a beating. It didn't happen with John Lannan Wednesday, and I'm not counting on it tonight. We know how this story usually seems to go.

I'm really hoping the comforts of home will help A-Rod out of his slump this weekend. Meanwhile, as of this writing, there's no word as to the availability of Brett Gardner tonight. With interleague shifting to NL parks over the next nine games, the Yankees will need their full complement of bench players. Gardner may not be the best option off the bench, but he's more appealing than Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, and Angel Berroa.

The Yanks are in a bit of a funk right now. Since shipping up to Boston last Tuesday, they've gone 3-6. They're a Luis Castillo error away from being 2-7 in that span. They've often looked listless during this stretch and have made more than their share of mental errors. They've lost to two unheralded starters in a row, and this weekend they're scheduled to face three more youngsters that they've never seen before.

They have six in a row against the Marlins and the Braves, two sub-.500 teams with noticeable warts. This would be a great time to erase the memory of the problems of the last two weeks. They've played poorly during that stretch, but they're better than that. Now's the time to prove it.

Because you can be better than that,
Don't let it get the better of you,
What can be better than now?
Life's not about what's better than.

Miscellaneous Friday Linkaround

I've got a lot of browser windows open but don't have a specific post in mind. As a result, here is a collection of some of the better stuff to come across my Google Reader over the past day or so. This should get you through the afternoon.

That’s what the Lange-Buck collision fascinated me. It was the coming together of two disparate beings—one who sees bullshit in everything and takes joy in exposing it; the other who sees poetry in everything and takes joy in elongating it.

Men like Buck fancy themselves as oral symphonies. Men like Lange fancy themselves as oral rot. Men like Buck take their worlds very seriously. Men like Lange do not. Mike like Buck view humor through a very, very, very narrow prism—self-depreciation, but only to a very slight degree. Mike like Lange view humor without boundaries.

I think he nailed exactly why it was so captivating: You couldnt get two more polar opposites that the uptight holier than thou demeanor of Buck and the irreverant assclownery of Lange. I'd like to think we bring a little of both to the table.


Can someone's defensive seasons really fluctuate this much? Or is it just an indication that the metrics are still extremely flawed? Neyer has some thoughts as well.


Joel Sherman, on A-Rod and Phil Mickelson:
Someone enlighten me why the New York fans love Phil Mickelson, the Alex Rodriguez of golf, but don't like Alex Rodriguez, the Alex Rodriguez of baseball.
I'd love to. If Phil Mickelson played for a theoretcal New York golf franchise called the Longballs or something, people would hate him. It's easy to root for the underdog when the U.S. Open only comes around once in a while. New York fans have no ownership of Mickelson's failures. When he blows it on the final hole at Winged Foot and refers to himself as "an idiot", we can laugh as the lovable loser. When A-Rod strikes out to end the game, it offends the fans ina much more personal way, because his failures are projected directly on them.

Drew Magary's column in Penthouse regarding badassery (URL obviously NSFW, but the page isn't graphic):
There’s no official definition of badass in the Oxford English Dictionary. This is a pity, as badass is one of those universal ways of categorizing the American male species. Everyone employs the term, and its meaning is more or less collectively agreed upon. Like douche bag or asshole, the word badass instantly evokes a recognizable male archetype, one that is impervious to rocket-propelled grenades and enjoys banging waitresses while skydiving.


Do they live up to every romanticized notion of what we think a dude should be? No, they don’t. Think about it. Would a badass ever sit at a desk? No. Badasses do not sit at desks. Badasses get up and do shit. Would a badass ever use a BlackBerry, typing away at those tiny fucking keys like a dipshit princess? No. A badass might use a regular cellphone, if only for angrily shouting instructions to people (“Dammit! There isn’t fucking time! The Russians have the package!”). But never a BlackBerry, that’s for sure.
The column reads a lot like his better Balls Deep columns from Deadspin, except he doesn't try to bring it back to sports. I'm sure some people like Drew for all the creative swearing and dick jokes, but even after to you peel all that back, he's always making connections and genuinely insightful observations on human nature.


If you can't guess who these two pitchers by the end of the second paragraph, God help you...


Tom Brady flipped his kayak in the Chaaahles and and had to be rescued by a woman.
When they got near the couple, they realized Brady was not in his kayak, but in the water. Leeds helped pull Brady into a motor boat.

"I actually asked him why he fell in," she said. "He said he was racing one of his friends. It was Tom, Giselle and his he was racing his friend."

Leeds asked him if she could take a picture with him. She said Tom said, "Of course, you saved my life. ... I talked with Giselle. We talked about how beautiful the weather it was," Leeds said.
And by "motor boat", I'm assuming that Tom Brady shoved his face in between her breasts when he was being rescued. And that Gisele... how deep! "Hey I just saved your husband from drowning...". "Yeah, it's beautiful out, isn't it?"

Yet Another Reason Why Interleague Play Sucks

Tonight the Yankees kick off a nine game swing through National League parks, meaning their pitchers will have to bat. And run. Which, as we learned last year, could be a disastrous proposition.

Regardless of where you stand on whether the DH belongs in the game, it presents one of the biggest problems with interleague play. It isn't particularly fair to have NL clubs, whose rosters aren't constructed with a DH in mind, enter an AL park and play with a DH. And it certainly isn't fair to have an AL team enter an NL park and have their pitchers bat, when many of them haven't done so regularly since high school.

Yesterday, Mother Nature helped teach us another lesson as to why interleague play sucks. Sure, a rainout during the Subway Series leads to the novelty split stadium doubleheader. But in any other case, as detailed earlier, a rainout wreaks havoc. Because of the gimmickry of interleague play, teams only see each other once. So an interleague rainout can create serious problems and is thus avoided at all costs. That's why MLB forces fans to sit through five hour rain delays on days like yesterday. At least the Yankees had the good sense to reward yesterday's ticket holders with freebie tickets. All else being equal, there was no way the Yankees should have played yesterday. Of course, you could make the argument that given their performance, the Yankees really didn't play yesterday.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way three years ago. After forking over a small fortune to take my father and brothers to Old Timers' Day against the Marlins, we spent hours sitting in the rain. The tarp stayed on the field as the Old Timers were introduced. There was no Old Timers' game, which surely prevented a few broken hips.

After a delay, the game finally started. After an inning plus of baseball, the tarp was called for again. An interminable delay ensued before the game was finally called. Because it was an interleague series, the game was rescheduled as the back end of a day-night doubleheader the following day.

I was one of 6,809 who showed up for the make-up game. Our seats were in the tier boxes along the rightfield line. With the Stadium being virtually empty, after the top of the first we chose to move directly behind the plate for a better view. As the second batter in the bottom of the first, Derek Jeter lined a foul ball exactly where we had just been sitting. There wasn't a soul within four sections of it, but from our new location we had no chance of getting to it before the other seventy-five people in the upper deck.

A couple innings later, the Yankees closed the upper deck, just as they did yesterday. We moved down to the main level. After choosing our new seats, I noticed that there were some cameras in the seats directly in front of us. While we were seated much closer than we had been, we still weren't close enough to be near any of the TV cameras.

After about a half inning, I realized we were seated behind the cast of YES' Ultimate Road Trip, the since-cancelled reality show that had a group of Yankee fans attend every game of the season. That season, one of the girls on the show was pretty cute, so I was satisfied with our new location.

A few innings later, Stadium staffers showed up to move the Road Trippers down to field boxes. I made some smart-ass remark about how we couldn't get upgraded since we didn't have a TV show. The cute one said something like "Oh, but we never get good seats". Yeah, but you get to go to every game for free; my heart really goes out to you.

That was about as exciting as it got that night. I managed to sneak into a couple shots when the episode aired. In the end, the Yankees and future G.M. tosser Shawn Chacon were shutout 5-0 by rookie pitcher Anibal Sanchez. The team played like they didn't care to be there. Sound familiar?

Fans Compensated For Soggy Thursday

Yesterday was a rare Thursday in the New York City area. There were two quality sporting events taking place during the day, one at Yankee Stadium and the other at Bethpage State Park Pond out on Long Island. A steady rain drowned the area, leaving both the Stadium and the course, as Stuart Appleby said, "Wetter then[sic] an otter's pocket."

Golf can typically be played in the rain so as long as there isn't any lightining, and the course doesn't become inundated with casual water. It typically has a slightly higher tolerance to precipitation than baseball does, but yesterday that was not the case. Play at Bethpage was suspended only 15 minutes after ESPN's TV coverage of the event began. The USGA thought they saw a window where play could resume around 1:30PM, but like the Yankees' false alarm at 4:00, that never came to fruition. Play was never resumed.

The Yankees, on the other hand, did manage to get their game in. After the third longest rain delay in MLB history, the tarp was removed to make way for an extremely frustrating experience for the fans who did wait out the storm. There weren't many viable options. To their credit, the Yankees did try to make it up to their fans who stuck it out by clearing the upper deck and allowing fans to sit in the Main and Field Levels. Even better, the Yanks are accepting any tickets from last night, regardless if they were used to get in the Stadium, in exchange for another non-premium game any time this year or next.

The Yankees had it much easier than the USGA, though. The staff couldn't just tarp the greens at Bethpage, and they weren't able to build a perfect drainage system directly underneath the entire course just last year. The USGA could have tried to give away free tickets to future Opens, but the Tournament won't be returning to the area until at least 2016, if not longer. In addition, they would be losing a potential 1/4 of the gate revenue for that year, as opposed to the Yanks giving up 1/81. Furthermore, tickets to golf events, the U.S. Open included, are sold by the day, not the round, so they couldn't give away free passes for the later days without dealing with serious over-crowding issues.

After fielding what must have been an incredible influx of complaints, the USGA just announced that they would be accepting tickets from Thursday's washout to the likely Monday session. Unfortunatley for those who purchased tickets for Sunday, thinking it would be the deciding round get indirectly screwed by the weather also. The upside is there should be a healthy supply of available tickets on the secondary market. So if you can get Monday off from work, it might be the only chance you'll have to see an affordbale U.S. Open for a reasonable price, on a course that is at less than full capacity.

Bernie at The Iridium Next Two Mondays

When Bernie Williams became the Yankees' regular centerfielder, he inherited the most storied plot of of land in sports, patrolling the ground once manned by Bobby Murcer and Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Earle Combs.

Bernie did quite a job in following those legends. For the next two Monday nights, Bernie will get a chance to fill in for a legend in his second chosen profession. Ninety-four year old Les Paul, the namesake of some of the coolest guitars on the planet, will take a two week sick leave from his Monday night residency at The Iridium and Bernie will pinch hit for him (h/t

The Yankees are off the next two Mondays. For those of you interested in going to see Bernie, you can find information here. Tickets are $35 and there is additional $15 food and drink minimum. There are two shows nightly, at 8:30 and 10:30. The Iridium is located at 51st and Broadway.

Here's hoping Les Paul gets well soon. I had the chance to go see him just after Christmas. Not exactly the best performance I've ever seen, and his age and arthritis have limited his playing, but for sheer historical value it was worth it. He's still very sharp and is certainly cut from the old cloth where he's an entertainer in addition to being a musician. If you're a music fan, it's worth going; it's a lesson in the last 70+ years of music history. And the bassist in his trio is pretty hot.

For good measure, here's Bernie, playing a Gibson Les Paul, on Howlin' Wolf's "Who's Been Talkin'" with the Allman Brothers Band at the Beacon in 2007. There's a second clip here.

An Ugly Ending To An Ugly Series

There's no pretty way to spin this one. The Yankees turned in a real clunker of a series against the Nats. To an extent, I agree with Jay's post from yesterday that a sweep wasn't a necessity. However, sweeping the Washington Nationals of the world is what helps in weathering going 0-8 against other teams. Either way, the goal in any series should be to win it. To lose two of three to the worst team in baseball is awful. Yet something tells me it's not nearly as bad as Michael Kay would have your believe in the postgame, or as the tabloids will make it out to be tomorrow.

Aside from the third longest rain delay in history, things didn't start too badly for the Yankees. Joba Chamberlain cruised through three innings, needing just 30 pitches and throwing two thirds of them for strikes. He surrendered a lone run on back-to-back doubles in the first.

The game changed for Joba in the fourth. A single and a walk started the inning. After retiring the next two batters, Joba walked two in a row, forcing in the game's second run. He more than doubled his pitch count, needing 32 to get through the inning.

The fifth inning brought more trouble for Joba. He needed 25 pitches for the frame, surrendered another walk, and gave up a pair of doubles again to yield the game's third and final run. He settled down for the sixth, but the damage was done. Once again, Joba was gone after 100 pitches and six innings.

On the other half of the line score, Craig Stammen baffled the Yankees and encountered none of the problems Chamberlain had. Stammen's pitch count by inning: 14, 5, 9, 12, 13, 9, before getting chased 20 pitches into the seventh. 6.1 IP, 6 H, no runs, no walks. In short, the Yankees played like a team that was running five hours late for a flight to South Beach. I know today didn't feature the "A" lineup, but the Yankees have to be more patient than that. The Nats' pitching may be awful, but John Lannan and Craig Stammen turned in impressive performances the past two nights.

A-Rod's struggles continued. He ended the first by swinging and missing on a pitch that nearly bounced to the plate, flied out in the fourth, and flied out in the eighth. In the seventh, he got into one, lining one deep to left field. But Willie Harris laid out onto the warning track, using every bit of extension to snag the blast. It was one of the best catches I've ever seen. Sometimes you can't buy a break, and A-Rod is starting to get that the-world-is-collapsing-on-me-and-I'll-never-get-a-hit-again look about him. The worse thing that can happen to him when he's slumping is to get stuck in his own head. Hopefully a trip to his hometown of Miami will help get him right again.

Not to be outdone by Harris, Brett Gardner made his own highlight reel catch in the top of the eighth, crashing into the plexiglass portion of the left-centerfield fence to haul in an Austin Kearns shot. Gardner's lower back smashed into the wall right where the padding meets the plexiglass, and the impact smashed the back of his head into the glass. He went down in heap on the warning track and stayed down before leaving the field sitting on a cart. Another rain delay, another centerfielder injured.

I caught the post-game while grabbing dinner at the bar and saw Gardner was sentient enough to be interviewed; so that has to be a good sign. Since the sound was muted, I couldn't tell if he now speaks like Johnny Damon as a result of the head trauma. I had initially thought a DL stay might be necessary and wondered if Xavier Nady would be rushed back or if Angel Berroa would finally be DFA'd for another outfielder to be added. It doesn't look like either will be necessary now.

The top of the ninth started with David Robertson on the mound and John Flaherty handling play-by-play duties. Michael Kay must have decided to drop a deuce between innings and was running late. The top of the ninth ended with Kay back behind the mic and Ryan Zimmerman once again catching a backwards K as a Yankee pitcher "dropped a deuce" on him. If Zimmerman keeps this up we're gonna have to start calling him Hot Carl.

Fecal jokes aside there's nothing funny about this series. The Yankees played lackluster ball for three nights straight, didn't hold a single lead over the last 18 innings, and managed all of seven runs against the worst pitching staff in baseball. What was supposed to be a getaway day matinee game turned into a rushed, sloppy, rainy night game. With rain still falling and a flight to Miami on the itinerary, it could be a very late night for the Yankees. Perhaps the only consolation is that as Mike MacDougal was putting the finishing touches on Hideki Matsui, the Florida Marlins were still in Boston in the midst of a sixth inning rain delay. Perhaps they'll be the more worn out team tomorrow.