Monday, February 23, 2009

Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad

[Ed. Note: I flipped the format here a little bit so you can listen to the song and read the post at the same time.]

A few of you actually inquired as to how I made it back to New York yesterday, so just to tie up the loose ends and acknowledge those who helped me overcome my absent-minded idiocy, here is a picture recap/synopsis of how it went down.

I was packed up and ready to leave Boston Bren's place at about 9:00am when I was unable to locate my keys. I searched for about forty five minutes myself, canvassing every obvious place, emptying my bag and backpack and cursing under my breath non-stop. The car was unlocked, so I was able to check and see if they were in there, or if there was a spare key kicking around. No dice. I woke Brendan up, he woke his roommates up, and after another hour or so of intense searching, we were at quite the impasse.

Believe it or not, Googling "Hotwire 1999 Mercury Sable" doesn't really turn up anything useful. It was Sunday, so the service department at Clark & White wasn't open. I called AAA, but the girl literally laughed at me when I asked if there was anything they could do. Thanks.

The only two sets of spare keys were at my mom's house upstate. My sister was headed down to the city because she was flying from JFK to Turks & Caicos the next morning. As a result, the wheels started turning, and by saving the train fare from Albany to NYC, there was actually a mild incentive for them to meet me halfway down the Mass Pike. I have family in the Boston area, and my cousin Brendan and his girlfriend were cool enough to drive me the other half.

To add insult to injury there was a pretty serious storm moving through covering the Berkshires in snow and Boston in rain.

We met in Wilbraham, which happens to be the home to the headquarters of Friendly's. There is one right off the exit and we chose that as a rendezvous point. Since this was apparently a flagship location of sorts, they had some interesting wall hangings.

There were a bunch of pictures of their HQ and the top one says "Public Safety Complex".

What really stole the show, however, were the pictures with items that you can order at a Friendly's inserted into them.

It is obscured by the lighting, but that appears to be a coffee flavored ice cream sundae ambling down a path towards the beach. There were others including a similar one with the sundae next to a lighthouse and one with a Ruben peeking around the corner of a barn. Dazzling. If they weren't gigantic and glued to the wall I would have tried to take one.

From there we went back to Brendan's house, spare keys in hand, and picked up the car. We got on the road at about 4 and headed back to NYC. There was a healthy wintry mix until about New Haven but it didn't really slow the process down too much.

So... we made it back to the city at about 8:00PM, and in a somewhat ironic twist of "too little, too late" I got a parking spot right on my street, about 50 feet from my building.

The point of this wasn't to bore you with the details of my shitty day, but rather to point out that I'm pretty lucky to have six different people who didn't mind ruining their day to bail me out. Thanks guys, I owe you one.

Countdown To Opening Day: #41

The Yankees have a long history of getting great players just as they are exiting their prime and their 2005 aquisition of Randy Johnson was a perfect example.


When the Yankees got The Big Unit, I couldn't have been more excited. I got a call from my roommate Kevin and we were both downright giddy. We had known him as an ageless wonder who had just hit his stride at age 35 and taken down four straight Cy Young awards.

At a time when the rest of the Yankees' rotation was Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, it looked like a move that should have pushed them over the top. The Red Sox had just won the World Series and it seemed like sending Javier Vasquez, Brad Hallsey, Dioner Navarro and $9M to the Diamondbacks was going to right the baseball universe once again.

In retrospect, there were a ton of warning signs, land mines, red flags and caution tape that Yankee fans probably should have noticed.
  1. He was 41 years old
  2. He had spent his last six seasons in the National League West
  3. After pitching 244 or more innings in 5 consecutive seasons, he was hurt in 2003 and started only 18 games at a 4.26 ERA
  4. He was making $16M a year
  5. His K/9 had been declining for 4 years
  6. Being 6'10" is as much of a liability as it is an asset
I don't put much stock in whether people in the New York media think a player can "handle the New York media", but that scuffle with a cameraman on the way to his Yankee physical certainly wasn't a good omen.

After posting ERAs 2.64 or below in 5 out of his 6 years in Arizona the Big Unit threw 225 2/3 innings of 3.79 ball for the Yanks in 2005. Mostly attributed to his "hanging sliders", he gave up 32 home runs and 207 hits, the highest totals of his career. It was a respectable season overall, but it fell far short of even the most conservative expectations of Yankees fans, players and executives. The prevailing thought at the time was that Johnson would rebound the following year and return to his dominant form.

The result was quite the opposite, in fact. He started 33 games but threw only 205 innings, an average of under 6 1/3 innings per outing, the lowest of his career. His K/BB ratio fell from 4.48 to 2.86 (also the worst of his career). For the first time since his rookie season in 1989 and only time since, he posted an ERA worse than league average.

Late in the season it was revealed that Johnson was pitching with a herniated disc. He received treatments and ended up starting Game 3 of the ALDS against Detroit. It was his last game in Pinstripes and he gave up 5 runs in a contest the Yanks went on to lose 6-0.

The Yanks ended up trading Johnson back to the D-Backs for Luiz Visciano, Ross Olendorf, Alberto Gonzalez and Stephen Jackson. It was a pretty fair haul for a 43 year old pitcher with a bad back coming off what was easily the worst full season of his career.


After getting it right (for the most part) with guys like David Cone, David Wells, El Duque and Roger Clemens during the last 90's and Mike Mussina in 2001, the aughts have been filled with a minefield of pitching acquisitions that just didn't work out.

In addition to Johnson and Vasquez: Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Jon Lieber, Jose Contreras, Esteban Loaiza, Jeff Weaver...

If the Yanks are going to return to the promised land this year, they need two big double-initialed additions to the rotation buck that trend.

Kevin Youkilis: Human Being Or Catfish?

You Decide:

Taking It To The Felt

Via PeteAbe, Joe Girardi cancelled the team's workout today and arranged an 8-ball tournament at at local pool hall.
To me, this is a great idea. Right out of the Tom Coughlin playbook. The Yankees are out of here, off to play pool. They’re going to be partnered up with a teammate and play some 8 Ball.

“It’s a team day away from the field. We’re going to have a little tournament and try to enjoy the day,” Girardi said.

Coughlin, as you may remember, took the Giants bowling during training camp in 2007. Next thing you know, they won the Super Bowl. Was there a connection? Maybe not a direct one; but building relationships is an important aspect of success.
When Eric Mangini was fired, I recommended that Girardi take a look at the way the Jets and Giants were run and decide which of the coaches he wanted to follow. I think he's headed in the right direction.

Nothing Like Home

It took 11 hours, four separate car rides, and the combined efforts of five friends/family members, but I finally made it back to NYC last night. I've got some pictures documenting the journey back which may or may not make their way up on the site after work.

The mythical music post obviously didn't make it up this weekend due to the unforseen circumstances discussed above and Brendan still has to weigh in with his Extreme Beer Fest recap, so the non-sports content is going to bleed into the week a little bit. Hope y'all folks don't mind.