Friday, July 30, 2010

Bright Light City

The bright lights of New York have apparently set Lance Berkman's soul on fire. Twenty four hours from now he can officially waive his 10 and 5 rights and approve a trade to the Yankees.

The price is reportedly a non-prospect minor leaguer, with the Astros' main benefit coming in the form of salary relief. Berkman is owed $7.3M for the remainder of 2010 plus a $2M buyout on his $15M club option for next year.

Welcome to the Big Apple Fat Elvis.

And thanks to all you Fackers for your friendly comments on our sort of farewell post.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sailing On

This won't come as any surprise to those of you who have been trying to keep up with this site despite the lack of content lately, but Matt and I wanted to officially say that we are taking a step back from the day-to-day grind of blogging.

This summer has been a busy one for both of us and despite our best efforts, we just haven't been able to post a steady volume of content. The best blogs are the ones that are updated frequently enough to make you want to check them at least once a day. I'd like to think that we achieved that status for a pretty long stretch here (over a year and a half), however, it requires a massive amount of time and dedication maintain that pace, two things that are in very short supply right now.

As Dennis "Cutty" Wise said in one of the more poorly acted scenes in the greatest television show of all time, "the game ain't in me no more".

I'm hardly at my computer at all during the day, which has taken me out of the rhythm of writing and Matt's schedule has been especially frenetic as of late. Maintaining a blog shouldn't feel like an obligation, and when you are doing it as a hobby, don't have a huge readership and the only chances you have to write most days come before and after work, eventually the inspiration to read and write voraciously enough to blog competently is going to dry up. It was only a matter of time.

It's not as if we are going to shut down the site completely, however. We just aren't going to attempt to keep up with previews for every game and there likely won't be any recaps either. Instead, we'll probably end up writing more analytical or historical pieces, jumping into the conversation every so often instead of trying to tread water and keep up with torrent of news and issues going on with the Yanks on a daily basis. If we find the time to post, this is where it will go, but whether that will be every couple of days, once a week or even less will vary.

As I have many times in the past, I would suggest starting up an account on Google Reader and subscribing to our feed. That way, you'll be automatically notified when we post something as opposed to having to come to the site and check, which could get pretty annoying as the flow of posts slows to a trickle. If you want to keep up with us on a more frequent basis, you can follow our shared items on GReader (Jay, Matt) as well. We got a pretty fantastic crew of ShareBros including the dudes from River Ave. Blues, Moshe from TYU, Jonah Keri, Tommy Bennett, Rob Iracane from Walk Off Walk, Lar from Wezen-Ball, Andy Hutchins from The Sporting Blog and many others.

See you around, Fackers.

Sailin' on, sailin' on,
I can hear sweet voices singin, hear sweet music playin',
Sailin' on, sailin' on,
Oh, I wish you were here with me when I'm sailin on.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Game 94: Flashing Lights

In the three years my two friends and I had our Yankees Saturday package, we were only in our seats one time when the first pitch was thrown. The trek typically began from my apartment on the Upper West Side and it's tough to get three hungover dudes up, showered, out the door, on the subway, through the turnstiles, up into the upper deck in time for a 1:00pm start. We never left before the game ended, we just had real issues with getting there on time.

But August 4th, 2007, we decided we absolutely had be seated in Section 7, Row M, seats 15-17 before Phil Hughes through his first pitch. We took it somewhat easy the night before, got up early, ate breakfast and hopped on the train by noon. We were milling around outside the stadium at 12:45 and were in line to get beers when the National Anthem came on. It was a balmy summer day, probably near 90, and I remember removing my hat and listening to the recording play as the line momentarily stood still.

Phil Hughes worked a 1-2-3 first inning and after Derek Jeter singled and Bobby Abreu drew a walk, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate looking for his 500th career home run. This was the one and only reason we had been anxious to get there early - the chance that he came to the plate in the first inning.

He had gone eight games since his last homer and each night, what stood out - as it did during Jeter's pursuit of Gehrig - were the countless camera flashes that would go off when he was at the plate. Although the electricity surrounding each at bat - both literally and figuratively - had diminished by that Saturday afternoon, there was still a palpable sense of anticipation in the stands.

It wasn't there for long, because on the first pitch off of Kyle Davies, he launched a high, hooking drive right down the left field line. A-Rod was leaning on his right side, staring at the ball through his sunglasses to see if it would stay fair, but from our perfectly positioned seats, it was already obvious that it was gone.

As Joe Posnanski beautifully detailed earlier today, the milestone home run numbers have lost much of their luster over the past 20 or so years, but it didn't feel like it to us at that point. Just by shear luck, that homer came on a Saturday home game and we had the chance to witness something that, even though it's less rare than it used to be, still doesn't happen very often.

Just under two years, ninety-nine homers and some image-shattering PED revelations later, A-Rod is on the cusp of another big, round number. He hit his first Major League homer against the Royals and his 499th, 500th and 599th against them too. He has three homers in 10 plate appearances (seven ABs) against tonight's starter, Brian Bannister. He will be facing Davies - the man who served up #500 - tomorrow and Anthony "career 2.6HR/9IP" Lerew on Sunday. Perhaps his search for 600 will drag on like the quest for 500 did, but it seems likely that he'll pull it off sometime this weekend. If he does it tonight, you can be sure it will happen under plenty of flashing lights.

As you recall, you know I love to show off,
But you never thought that I would take it this far,
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights,
What do you know? Flashing lights, lights.

Yankee Lineup:
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Colin Curtis RF

RHP A.J. Burnett
A.J. Burnett RHP

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Game 93 WPA Chart

Game 93: The Royal Scam

Tonight, the Yankees welcome the Royals to the Bronx for the first of a four game set. Luckily, Zack Greinke faced the Blue Jays last night (allowing two runs over 8 innings) and the Yanks will miraculously dodge him this time around.

CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Bombers this evening, a welcome relief after the bullpen has had to soak up 21 2/3 innings in the past three games because of Andy Pettitte's injury, A.J. Burnett's temper and Phil Hughes and Javier Vazquez's collective inability to get an out in the sixth inning.

The Big Fella draws consummate journeyman Bruce Chen (10 teams in 12 MLB seasons) tonight, who has the next lowest ERA in the Royals' starting rotation behind their young ace and is the only one who has a winning record (5-3).

Chen is walking a batter almost every other frame so far this season and striking out just over seven batters per nine innings. However, he has managed to keep his ERA and FIP down by allowing just six homers in 57.2 IP (0.94/9IP) due to a home run to fly ball ratio (7.1%) which is just about half of his career mark (14.1%).

Unless Chen has discovered some sort of magical formula for keeping the ball in the park, he is due to give up a few longballs. Fortunately for him, Chen is a lefthander, but maybe the Yankees can aid him regression to the mean tonight anyway.

And they wandered in,
From the city of St. John,
Without a dime,
Wearing coats that shined.
Both red and green,
Colors from their sunny island,
From their boats of iron,
They looked upon the promised land.
Where surely life was sweet,
On the rising tide,
To New York City,
Did they ride into the street.

See the glory,
Of the royal scam.


Yankees: Marcus Thames is DH'ing against the lefty as Jorge Posada returns behind the plate.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Ralph Houk: 1919-2010

He was nowhere near the mythical figure of George Steinbrenner or the constantly stately presence of Bob Sheppard, but yesterday, just a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday, former Yankee catcher, manager, and general manager Ralph Houk passed away in his home in Winter Haven, Florida.

Drafted by the Yankees in 1939, Houk played three years of minor league ball before voluntarily enlisting with the Army Rangers. He attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley in Kentucky and eventually participated in the invasion of Normandy and The Battle of the Bulge. After being shot in the calf during the latter, he returned to the battlefield immediately after he had the wound bandaged.

Later in that same battle, Houk disappeared for three days after he was sent him out to doing some scouting of enemy troops, his commanding officer recalled:
When he turned up he had a three-day growth of beard and hand grenades hanging all over him. He was back of the enemy lines the entire time. I know he must have enjoyed himself. He had a hole in one side of his helmet, and a hole in the other where the bullet left. When I told him about his helmet, he said 'I could have swore I heard a ricochet.' We marked him 'absent without leave' but were glad to have him back alive.
Houk returned from the war decorated with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with an oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart and earned the nickname The Major.

When he rejoined the Yankees in 1946, he started in AA and made the jump to AAA mid-way through the season. When the '47 season rolled around, he found himself serving as Yogi Berra's back up for the Big League club and went 3 for 3 with a double and a walk in his debut on April 26th. He only made it to the plate 104 times in that season, and it would turn out to be a career high, never amassing more than 14 in the remainder of his eight years with the Yankees. During all that downtime, he talked with the pitchers out int he bullpen and started collecting an impressive amount of knowledge about all angles of the game.

He began his career as a manager before he even hung up his cleats. The Yankees named him manager of their AAA team at the time, the Denver Bears, and he strapped on his gear and took a couple of hacks at the plate in 1955 before deciding his days as a player were over. In 1958, he left Denver to serve as Casey Stengel's first base coach, where he remained for three years.

The experiences The Major had in the army ended up coming in handy when he took over for the ousted Stengel before the 1961 season, as he said in an interview with Time Magazine:
Being in the war probably helped my managing. It made me understand the problems young men have and the pressures they go through not only in a war but in baseball.
By most accounts, Houk was a "player's manager" but possessed a fierce temper which he would occasionally direct towards the umpiring crew. He wouldn't throw one of his men under the bus to the media, but he would unload on them behind closed doors if he perceived a lack of effort.

Houk would arrive to the ballpark four hours early - something that wasn't nearly as common is those days as it is now - to begin preparing for the day's game. He spent that time looking over line up cards and strategizing with his coaches and scouts about the opponent to see if he could "pick up one or two little things".

His disciplined preparation - along with an incredibly loaded roster - brought the Yankees two World Series titles in his first two seasons at the helm and an AL Pennant in the third. After the 1963 season, however, Houk became general manager and asked Yogi Berra to be his skipper. The Yanks lost in the Fall Classic again in 1964 and Houk (unpopularly) fired Berra and replaced him with Jonny Keane.

After Keane led the team to a 77-85 record in 1965 (good for just 6th place in the AL after five consecutive pennants) and began the '66 season 4-16, Houk took over as manager once again. The Yanks finished in last place that, 9th out of 10 the following season, and had descended into mediocrity. Houk's final season as the Yanks' skipper was in 1973, the last year that the team was still owned by CBS. George Steinbrenner asked Houk to return, promising to bring him talent and restore the once-great franchise but demoralized by the fans' constant booing, Houk decided to move on.

From New York, The Major went to Detroit, managing the Tigers through five marginal seasons from '74 to '78. He also skippered the Red Sox from 1981 to 1984 but had no division titles to show for his efforts in either stop. He became vice president of the Twins in 1986 and held that post in 1989, when he decided to retire for good.

Despite spending the end of his career with other organizations, Houk is best remembered as a Yankee. Although he wasn't a big part of it, the Yankees won six World Series in his eight years as a player. His managerial career started with the legendary summer of '61 and ended just before George Steinbrenner took over the team in 1973. He was a great solidier and baseball man who lived a long, proud life. Rest in peace, Major.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game 92: 46 Days

For some odd reason, even though the Yankees got a late start after the All-Star Break and weren't doing any traveling after the three game series against the Rays, yesterday was an off day for them. It doesn't really matter now, but that rest probably could have come in handy sometime during the next 46 days, during which the Yankees are scheduled to play 44 games.

Tonight, Phil Hughes takes the mound for the first time since taking the loss in the All-Star Game. Fortunately he'll be facing the relatively marginal Angels' lineup instead of the best players in the National League and the opposing pitcher will be 22 year old right hander Sean O'Sullivan, who has only 58 MLB innings under his belt and a relatively uninspiring Minor League career backing that up.

The Yanks have a two and a half game lead over the Rays at the moment and perhaps there isn't much reason for concern, as Joe from River Ave. Blues said this morning. But as they begin this tough stretch, most of which they will likely have to navigate without Andy Pettitte, it would be nice if Hughes and the offense can get them off on the right foot against the Halos.

Leigh Fordham sold me out,
46 days and the coal ran out,
Please come round here another day,
Sit yourself down when you're ready to stay.

She dug down when they took the town,
Lookin' for clues but they couldn't be found,
Leigh found out she was ready to roam,
47 days and the coal came home.

Taste the fear,
For the devil's drawing near.
[Song Notes: There's a few numerical coincidences here, with 46 being Andy Pettitte's number as well as half of 92. This is a relatively new Phish tune, off of the album Round Room, which they released in 2002.]


Jonathan Albaladejo, who has been doing excellent work this season as Scranton's closer (46.2 IP, 0.96 ERA and a club record 31 saves already) has been called up to take Andy Pettitte's roster spot. The Yanks have passed over him for guys like Mark Melancon, Ivan Nova, Romulo Sanchez and (repeatedly) Boone Logan this season, but Albie is finally joining the Big League club for the first time in 2010 tonight.

He doesn't have to eat up batters (4.8 Hs, 2.4 BBs & 11.8 Ks per 9) like he has been doing in the minors to be valuable to the team. He just has to be better than he has in the parts of three seasons he's spent in the Majors or just more effective than fucking Joba, neither of which is asking a whole lot.

As for the lineup, Jorge Posada will be behind the plate while Curtis Granderson hits 7th and Juan Miranda DH's and bats 8th against the righty O'Sullivan.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Ganderson CF
Juan Miranda DH
Brett Gardner LF

Bud “Contract Year” Black Cashes In

In case you've been concerned in regards to the whereabout of the authors of this blog, fear not, we have not died in a boating accident or absconded the with considerable fortunes accrued from maintaining this site to search for traces of the last expedition of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett in the jungles of the Amazon.

However, Matt is at a conference for work and I have been tied up with some obligations of my own during the work week that have been keeping me away from the computer. And when the weekends roll around, both of us have been trying to enjoy our respective summers to the fullest, which leaves little time for writing things on the internet. We'll be back pretty soon, but the content is going to be a little sparse for the next couple of days.

Luckily, a long time commenter who would like to be identified simply as "Marmaduke Ramirez Washington" was kind enough to submit a guest post. It's not about the Yankees, but I think you'll still enjoy it. Take it away, 'Duke:

Following in the steps Vernon Wells, Kevin Brown and every other player that happened to have the best season of their life in their contract year, Bud Black received a 3 year extension to manage the San Diego Padres on Monday. After 2 years of leading his team to winning percentages of .389 and .463, Black has the Padres 17 games over .500 and in first place in the NL West.

Obviously he is putting a lot more effort into his managerial duties this year as opposed to the 2 previous seasons. The question is, “Why didn’t he try harder to make San Diego a winning franchise in 2008 and 2009?” Some baseball insiders think that Black saw a wide open free agent market for managers during the 2010 off-season prompting him to take his position as a manager much more seriously this year.

While not confirmed, rumors have been surfacing that Black took courses in “Advanced Statistics 101” and “Manage a Winning Sports Franchise on a Shoestring Budget 1a and 1b” at San Diego’s Mesa College during the winter. Other sources indicate that he attended a National League managers' convention during the offseason, which included a two day seminar on the double switch, because there’s obviously much more to it than checking who recently batted, moving the new pitcher to that spot in the order while inserting a new position player into the previous pitcher’s spot in the order.

One unemployed manager who wishes to remain anonymous is also questioning whether or not Black is taking performance enhancing drugs to gain an edge over other managers in the NL West. “How many 53 year old mangers have taken a team that has perpetually been in the bottom of the National League under his own watch and now, all of a sudden, they have the best record in the league? I’m telling you, that kind of improvement out of nowhere can only be the results of using copious amounts of PEDs - HGH, hGC, Adderall, Ritalin, whatever it is.”

He also added, “Have you seen the size of his head?” [Ed. note: The source may have been confusing Black with the previous Padres, and current Giants manager Bruce Bochy who reportedly wears a size 8 ¾ hat.]

Some people inside the game feel that Black has finally come into his own as a manager after years of limited success and is really stepping it up when the money is on the line. But is there more to his success than meets the eye?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Game 89: Inspiration

When this evening's game gets under way, barring any inclement weather, it will be the first 7:00 ET start the Yankees have had since June 30th - everything since then has either been a day game, a late night west coast start or an off day. It will be the Bombers' first home game since the 4th of July, which was also George Steinbrenner's birthday. The atmosphere will no doubt be enhanced this evening as there are plans to honor the Boss as well as the Voice of God during ceremonies which are scheduled to begin at about 6:45.

As was the case when they left off last Sunday, CC Sabathia will be taking the hill for the Yankees. Getting the first start after the break lines the Big Fella up for the best shot at 20 wins among him Hughes and Pettitte, who both have 11 victories. Given that Sabathia is sitting with 12 and figures to get the most chances from here on out (15 or 16, perhaps), if he pitches well, that milestone should be well within his grasp.

CC will be squaring off against James Shields and the Rays, who are two games behind the Yankees in the standings, meaning that this series could potentially transfer the lead in the division. On the other hand, it might give the Yankees a chance to establish a little breathing room from themselves.

Even though this isn't technically the start of the second half - as it is so often referred to as - it does represent somewhat of a new beginning for the Yanks. They are now officially without the one person who is responsible for making them the team they are and the most recognizable voice associated with the franchise. Let's hope the Yanks can find some inspiration in the recent losses of Sheppard and Steinbrenner and start the rest of the season off on the right foot.

I barely knew the guy, but shit it hit me fairly quick,
We all forget how much life should be admired,
Sometimes we all forget how our music does inspire.


Yankees: The Yanks have called up Juan Miranda to take Kevin Russo's place on the 25 man roster and he gets the start at DH tonight.
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Miranda DH
Gardner LF
Upton CF
Crawford LF
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Zobrist 2B
Shoppach C
Aybar DH
Kapler RF
Bartlett SS

Friday Linkstravaganza

They are making Negro Leagues stamps? Awesome.

Without getting into subjective things like game calling and pitch framing, Mike from River Ave. Blue attempted to quantify the defensive contributions of Major League catchers, with emphasis of course on Jorge Posada and Francisco Cervelli. Using stolen bases, caught stealing, wild pitches and passed balls, Mike created cRSAA/180 (Catcher's Runs Saved Above Average per 180 innings). A key point: it's a good thing Cervelli is hitting, because he's not the defensive whiz he was in the minors.

According to a survey conducted among MLB players by Sports Illustrated, Joba Chamberlain is the most overrated player in the league and by more than double the next closest guy (A-Rod, obviously). Translation: guys who play for other clubs really don't like him and resent the attention he got when he first broke into the league. Does he get more recognition than he deserves because of his unique name and what he did in 2007? Absolutely. Do people who look at baseball objectively overvalue what he does? I don't think so.

Sparked by a conversation on Google Reader about a paragraph on Rob Neyer's blog by two of the guys from IIATMS, Moshe Mandel from TYU talked a little bit about what makes a team "championship-caliber". I agree with Moshe: we don't need to get ahead of ourselves, but if the Yankees don't deserve that distinction right now, then no team does.

Speaking of those gents from IIATMS, they, along with a few others, wrote a trade deadline primer which you can purchase here for $10. It's packed with information about where the Yankees stand and who they might be looking to fill some of the gaps in their roster with.

According to TiqIQ, who has a really cool partnership with River Ave. Blues, the secondary market prices were climbing for Friday night's game even before it was announced that the Yankees would be honoring George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. The fact that is the first home game since the 4th of July on a Friday night certainly is helping raise those prices.

Is it just me, or does The Boss deserve a better commemorative patch than this. Bob Sheppard's, on the other hand, is pretty sharp.

Red Sox fans payed tribute to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard and were respectful about it. Seriously.

Hey look, the All-Star Game got the lowest ratings of all time. It might have been the interminable pregame ceremonies or the 8:50PM ET start, but I'd like to think that, without a hook like the last year of Yankee Stadium or something, mostly because of the infinite pitching changes and cameos by position players the ASG really just sucks. This isn't Little League, not everyone has to appear in the damn game.

You probably noticed that the radar gun was lighting up on Tuesday night. The appropriately-named Mike Fast at The Hardball Times looks into whether or not the readings were accurate.

In response to an email from a Twitter follower, Jonah Keri put together "a few" (more like a dozen) thoughts on some of the deeper (social, racial) implications of the Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez trade.

Minor league maven John Sickels projected Major League character Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn's career statistics. Unsurprisingly, his propensity for free passes kept him from being truly dominant.

Ben Nicholson-Smith from MLBTR had an excellent profile of Daniel Nava, who signed with the Red Sox for a whopping $1 back in 2008 and is producing for the Big Leauge club now.

Not golf-related, but Wright Thompson has a typically great feature piece up at about the history of St. Andrews. A nice companion piece to some early morning British Open viewing, I say.

Perhaps you heard about the suicide bombings that took place in Kampala, Uganda that targeted a viewing of the World Cup final at a rugby club. Well, my sister is actually in Kampala right now. She was nowhere near the bombings and is just fine, but if you'd like to read her reaction to the attacks, here it is.

My buddy Frank has tickets to the Lacrosse World Championships, which had to be reshuffled because English officials initially wouldn't accept the hand-written passports presented by the Iroquois Nation's team.

It's not at all sports-related, but here is a great story about the guy did an incredible amount of research before he appeared on Price is Right and whose appearance culminated with him guessing the exact price of the Showcase Showdown. But was it just preparation and luck? The producers of the show think the fix was in.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boss Man

Since he passed away yesterday morning, there have been myriad articles, blog posts, photo galleries, obituaries, numerical synopses, quote collections, timelines, video compilations, fan reaction pieces, rapper's reflections, and other various attempts at capturing the legacy of George Steinbrenner written by everyone from Fay Vincent to TMZ to Megan McArdle to Deadspin to Joe Posnanski to Maureen Dowd.

There was a moment of silence at the All-Star game last night, impromptu tributes at Yankee Stadium and there will many more attempts at remembrance when the MLB regular season resumes, from some sort of public memorial service that Yankee fans can attend to a moment of silence at Fenway Park to the patches the Yanks will wear on their uniform in honor of him (and Bob Sheppard) for the rest of the season.

As was the case with Sheppard, we knew the passing of Mr. Steinbrenner was on the horizon. He had been shielded from the public eye for quite some time and when he did make appearances, it was only for a moment, behind dark sunglasses and without any communication beyond perhaps a wave to the crowd. Even behind his shades, he looked alternatively sad, confused and lost. The man who seemed to do everything purposefully and with great vigor was now vacant and adrift.

Control over the team had officially been transferred to his sons in 2007. Howard Rubenstein would release statements on his behalf, but they lacked any of the customary bite that had been the trademark of his heyday. In a lot of ways he was already gone.

It's not uncommon for someone in their late-70's to lose their mental faculties, but for Steinbrenner, who enjoyed the spotlight and demanded attention so forcefully, his fade into oblivion was hardly inconspicuous. Because of who The Boss was in his prime it was impossible not to notice his absence in recent years.

We've all had an employer at some point in our lives that was capable of being so overbearing, so demanding, so demeaning and such a mega-alpha male that they inspired incredibly fierce emotions in you and your co-workers on a daily, if not hourly basis. You probably talked about them and their tyrannical ways endlessly with your fellow corporate captives when they weren't around. You likely rejoiced when they left the office early or took a Friday off so you could breathe easy and do your work without them stopping by to meddle and micromanage.

But every so often, perhaps during a one-on-one meeting or during some downtime on a business trip, the conversation would slip into something beyond the daily grind of business and you'd crack the surface. Usually, a person that maniacally-driven and focused at their given profession also contains something intensely likable and endearing about them, if you ever get close enough to catch a glimpse of it.

Of course, without fail, the following week, they'd make a decision or a comment or send an email that would make you want to leap over their desk or through the computer and fucking strangle them to death with the cord of their office phone. And then you'd forget all about those fleeting moments when they seemed somewhat compassionate and human and go back to thanking your lucky stars you were just their employee and not their child.

Yes, I'm shrouding my personal experiences with a previous boss in a flurry of impersonal pronouns, but I'm guessing most of you can relate on some level. I'm quite sure plenty of people who worked for the Yankees over the years can. In a lot of ways, what made Steinbrenner such an unbearable asshole also made him a good boss. As employees, we point to those that we like as people as our best bosses, but in reality, it might be those who can inspire fear in us who get their workers to perform at the highest level possible.

He was alternatively responsible for some of the Yankees' best and worst years but in the end, George was driven by his uncontrollable selfish desires, most notably a World Champion baseball team as soon as possible, always. Sometimes it backfired, but certainly not for a lack of trying.

As evidenced by his abundant charitable work and the frequent good deeds he did for his employees, there was obviously a sensitive part of him that cared deeply about the people who helped him get what he desperately wanted, but it wasn't big enough to keep him from treating them with disrespect whenever he pleased. That will be forever part of his legacy, but will always be mentioned as a side note to his numerous personal accomplishments and considerable impact not just on Major League Baseball but on American sports and popular culture. And because of the amount of success he attained, I suspect he'd probably be alright with that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All-Star Game 2010: California Stars

We've done plenty of whining about things related to the All-Star game as of late and I'm sure you can tell that the game (or exhibition or whatever you'd like to call it) isn't all that captivating to us. The level of play is noticeably lower than in a typical game, the process by which the players are selected is terrible, the broadcast is always painfully cluttered with former players, special guests and other unnecessary voices, the first few innings are going to be played through the shadows, etc., etc., etc.

That said, it's a chance to see a lot of great players in the same place at one time, there have been some fairly interesting games in the last few years, the outcome does actually mean something and last but not least, it's pretty much the only thing we have to watch on TV tonight. Oh yeah, and it's definitely better than the NFL Pro Bowl!

Although the circumstances that made this possible are extremely unfortunate, there is another reason for Yankee fans to watch as much of the game as we can stand. The death of George Steinbrenner will take center stage and give Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and whoever else wanders into the booth a chance to capture the immensity of his legacy to the game to a National Audience, something I don't think The Boss wouldn't have minded too much at all.

Yes I'd give my life,
To lay my head tonight on a bed,
Of California stars.

I'd like to dream,
My troubles all away,
On a bed, of California stars.

Jump up from my starbed,
Make another day,
Underneath my California stars.


Ichiro Suzuki RF
Derek Jeter SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Evan Longoria 3B
Joe Mauer C
Robinson Cano 2B
Carl Crawford LF

David Price LHP
National League:
Hanley Ramirez SS
Martin Prado 2B
Albert Pujols 1B
Ryan Howard DH
David Wright 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Andre Ethier CF
Corey Hart RF
Yadier Molina C

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

Steinbrenner Suffers Heart Attack

Sad news this morning Fackers. George Steinbrenner was rushed to the hospital early this morning after suffering what's being reported as a massive heart attack. There have been conflicting reports as to his status, but the Daily News and the Associated Press are reporting that he has passed away.

We'll have updates as more becomes available.

UPDATE 10:00 AM: According to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times, the Steinbrenner family has confirmed George's passing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Girardi's Damages Credibility With Choice Of Konerko

On Wednesday, Justin Morneau suffered a concussion after taking a knee to the head trying to break up a double play against the Blue Jays. The Twins' slugger has a history of concussions and as a result, he hasn't played since, so the injury opened up a slot at first base on the All-Star team. In this situation, the manger of the American League squad is responsible for picking a player to replace the injured one. And Joe Girardi chose Paul Konerko over Kevin Youkilis, who just barely lost to Nick Swisher in the Final Vote.

The first reaction that many have had is that the Yankees skipper didn't want to take a player from the enemy Red Sox. Girardi's justification? The numbers:
I’m looking at the numbers, the numbers are close and one guy’s numbers are a little bit better. I took the guy whose numbers are a little bit better.
But did he?

Konerko has a slight lead in the three most popular (and flawed) metrics - batting average, homers and RBIs - but Youk has him beat by a mile in on-base percentage and has outslugged him by a fair bit as well. And this is before you account for fielding, which isn't even a contest between the two - Konerko is marginal at best while Youk is one of the better defenders at first base in the league and is capable of playing third base as well.

I'm not going to shed any tears over Youk not being named an All-Star this year and I don't think that Girardi avoided picking him because he's on the Red Sox. As Joe Posnanski put it:
Now, look, Joe Girardi is not some 12-year-old looking at the back of 1978 baseball cards. He’s the manager of the New York Yankees, the defending World Series champion, the $200 million super team and the biggest brand in American sports. And you’re telling me he really looks at the numbers of Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis’ numbers and thinks Konerko’s are “a little bit better?” This is beyond ludicrous.
Later in that same article, Poz also points out that one of these guys is a complete creation of the home park they play in, and it's not Youkilis.

Joe Girardi, Northwestern Grad, Man of Many Binders, Certified Mananger By The Numbers®
either didn't bother to or can't do some extremely basic and fundamental comparative analysis. Seriously?

You don't have to get into WAR and wOBA to see that Youk is having a better year than Konerko - just look at their on-base percentages. Plus, Girardi sees Youk on a fairly regular basis, so you'd think he'd have more respect for how tough of an out he is and what he is capable of defensively.

It's not up for debate. If you know anything about objective baseball analysis, you can determine within about 30 seconds at either B-Ref or FanGraphs, conclusively, that Paul Konerko is not having as good of a year as Kevin Youkilis.

Lots of times, when Girardi makes a pitching change late in the game or calls for a maneuver that I disagree with, I'll think to myself "Okay, maybe he just has more (and better) information than I do. Perhaps he knows something that I don't". Well, in this case at least, it's the other way around.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Game 87 Recap

[WE data via FG]


Not In The Highlights:
  • The Mariners, who are typically play excellent defense, committed two errors in the first inning and had a lot of trouble tracking down balls in the sun.

  • There was a lot of putting the ball in play today, as the Yankees worked only two walks and struck out four times, while the M's worked just one walk and K'd twice

  • John Flaherty caught a foul ball in the booth during the seventh inning

  • CC Sabathia induced 15 groundballs during his seven innings of one run ball. He's now won eight starts in a row, the longest such streak of his career.

  • Mark Teixeira was 4-5 with two doubles one of which only missed being a home run by a couple of feet.

  • Dustin Moseley pitched the ninth inning and allowed a homer to Casey Kotchman
Up Next:
  • The All-Star break. The home run derby, which Nick Swisher will be participating in, will take place on Monday night at 8pm and the game itself will be on Tuesday.

Game 88: Mostly Tha Voice

We knew it was coming. Most of the obituaries that finally got published on the internet today and will be printed in the newspapers tomorrow had been written months, if not years ago. That's what happens when you are one of the most successful and identifiable people in your profession and very nearly make it to the century mark.

As he gradually stepped away from the team and his health deteriorated to the point that he was no longer able to make it to Yankee Stadium, no matter how grand the occasion - not even the opening of the new one - it became increasinly clear that Bob Sheppard's number was about to be called, just like he had called out so many numbers in the past (twice).

But no matter how long the gradual decline lasted or how incredible a life was, there is still a forlorn finality to someone's passing. The Voice of God was excruciatingly dignified and proper, but not pretentious. His style was understated ("clear, concise, correct"), the opposite of many of his contemporaries, but he gained worldwide recognition for it.

The Yankees still have to wrap up the final game of this series against the Mariners and wait out the All-Star break, but on Friday night, when Derek Jeter leads off the bottom of the first inning, we'll hear The Voice again. And when people look up reflexively upon hearing it, it really will be coming from above the clouds. Rest in peace, Mr. Sheppard.

It's mostly tha voice, that gets you up
It's mostly tha voice, that makes you buck
A lot of rappers got flavor, and some got skills
But if your voice ain't dope then you need to [chill... chill... ]


Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

CC Sabathia LHP

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 2B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Jose Lopez 3B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Justin Smoak DH
Josh Bard C
Jack Wilson SS
Michael Saunders LF

Ryan Rowland-Smith LHP

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Game 87: King Of All Of The World

Yesterday afternoon Javier Vazquez looked like surefire trade bait, as the heavily rumored Cliff Lee deal would have left the Yankees with six starters. Instead, Lee went to Texas, Javy takes the hill tonight, and it looks like his spot with the Yankees is secure for the rest of the season.

As you might surmise given our support of him from the time he was reacquired in December, I'm happy Javy is sticking around. Unloading him slightly more than halfway through the first season of his second go round in New York would only have been more fuel for those that say Vazquez is incapable of pitching in the Big Apple.

To the contrary, Javy has pitched quite well over the last month and a half. In his last seven starts he's 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA, has allowed just 45 baserunners in 46 innings, and has held opponents to a .179/.251/.327 batting line. One of those seven starts came ten days ago the Mariners, as Vazquez allowed three runs over six frames and the Yankee bats couldn't respond.

Felix Hernandez pitched for the Mariners that night, tossing a complete game, two hit, three walk, eleven K shutout. He'll oppose Javy again tonight. With Cliff Lee off to Texas, King Felix is the undisputed king of Seattle's rotation once again. With any luck for the Yanks though, Vazquez will prove to be king of the hill tonight.

I was in a real bad way
When you turned the power on
And you made me feel for all the world
Like I was the king of all the world

[Song Notes: I came across this one while looking for songs about "kings" this morning. It occurred to me that we used the Old 97s for the preview on the Saturday before the All-Star break last year as well. That one didn't turn out so well. Hoping for better luck today.]


Not likely. Chad Jennings will have what you need.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Game 86: Jesus Is Just Alright

I was away from my computer today. Did I miss anything?

No? Good.

In all seriousness, I saw the report break after I finished recapping last night's game but didn't have time to write anything about it before I left for the day. I was nowhere near a computer at any point, but kept checking on the rumors on my phone, hoping against hope that the propsed trade for Jesus Montero and (less importantly) David Adams didn't go through.

Cliff Lee is obviously an incredibly talented pitcher who would make any team in the history of the sport significantly better, but I don't like the idea of trading the best prospect in the system for him now, when the Yankees already have five capable starters and he has three months left on his contract. Yes, they could still swing a deal for Javy Vazquez, but they'll have zero leverage with whatever team might be interested in him.

There's also an element of stacking the deck at work here. The Yankees are clearly capable of winning the World Series as currently constructed. They have the best record in baseball, for fuck's sake. Do they really need to add one of the top 5 starting pitchers in the game? Does the marginal increase in their chances of winning a World Series really justify getting rid of an awesome prospect and some other potentially useful pieces? If they make the trade and don't win, the answer to that question is painfully obvious. If they pull the trigger and win a Championship, the answer could still be "no".

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I like rooting for a team that tries to develop their own players and isn't willing to mortgage their future for a slight increase of winning it for one year. Maybe Jesus Montero never pans out to be the great hitting catcher that he's projected to be but I'd rather that than the Yankees dealing him out of impatience and insecurity and watching him blossom somewhere else.

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah.
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright.

I don't care what they may know,
I don't care where they may go,
I don't care what they may know,
Jesus is just alright, oh yeah.


Cliff Lee won't be on the mound tonight as originally scheduled and he won't be in either dugout, as Joel Sherman is now reporting that the M's have a deal with Texas, unless of course they back out of that one too.

Game 85 Recap

[Data via FG]

  • In the wake of his victory in the Final Vote and resulting selection to the All-Star team, Nick Swisher had another big night, going 4-4 (two doubles) and a walk in addition to making a nice sliding catch in the 5th. One of those two-baggers set the table for A-Rod's game-winning hit in the ninth as it put runners on second and third with one out.

  • Andy Pettitte was brilliant yet again, striking out nine in eight innings and allowing just one run. His only real rough patch came in the 6th. He gave up two straight singles to begin the frame and Ichiro dropped a bunt right in front of the plate. Pettitte fielded it cleanly but sailed the throw wide of first, allowing a run to score and the runners to move to second and third.

    There was still no one out at this point and it looked likely that the game would be blown wide open. However, Pettitte retired Chone Figgins, intentionally walked Franklin Gutierrez and then proceeded to strike out Russell Braynan and Jose Lopez to wriggle out of the jam with minimal damage.

  • The Yanks put runners on first and second with no one out in the 8th on a walk by A-Rod and a single by Robby Cano. Jason Vargas uncorked a wild pitch and A-Rod moved to third, but Cano didn't take the opportunity to advance to second, possibly influenced by the batter, Jorge Posada initially gesturing for the runners to stay put. As it turns out, Posada grounded into a double play, which scored the run but shut down a further rally. It was a big mistake at the time, regardless of whose fault it was, but thankfully the Yanks got away with it when they got to Mariners' closer David Aardsma for the second time in just over a week.

Not In The Highlights:
  • In the first inning, Ichrio was attempting to catch a pop up off the bat of Mark Texieira and bumped into a "fan", who was brushing her hair and proceeded to absolutely freak out and immediately text everyone she knows, "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG ICHIRO LIKE TOUCHED ME!!!11!1!!!////".

  • Seattle fans, apparently still bitter over him leaving the team ten fucking years ago, threw fake money at Alex Rodriguez when he game to bat in the 8th inning.

  • The Yankees put at least one man on base in every inning last night, but didn't score until the 8th. Particularly frustrating were 1st (1st & 2nd, no outs) and 4th (1st & 2nd, one out). They were 1-11 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.

  • Brett Gardner was 0-4 with three strikeouts, but he did gun down Ichiro at third base in the first inning.

  • Mark Teixeira had a pretty terrible night, hurting the Yanks chances of winning by 38%. he grounded into a double play in the first, and failed to get the runner in from third in the ninth when he popped out to the catcher. Luckily A-Rod was there to pick him up with a huge two out hit.
Up Next:
  • Yet another late start as Phil Hughes takes on Cliff Lee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Game 85: Off To Sea Once More

Just a week ago the Yankees were looking to salvage one victory from a sinking three game set against the Mariners in the Bronx. Today they begin a new four gamer, this time on the Mariners's home turf. They will have to face Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez again, but they get a crack at Jason Vargas first as Andy Pettitte matches up with him tonight.

Vargas is a bit of a soft-tosser, with a fastball averaging about 87mph, but as we've seen with guys like Dallas Braden and Jamie Moyer earlier this year, that doesn't mean he'll be a push over. For what it's worth (not much) the Yankees faced him last July and scored four runs off of him in four innings but the Mariners still won the game.

The last series with the M's was a bit of a wreck, but with any luck the Yanks will be able to walk away with this one with more than one victory. It would certainly behoove them to get on the board tonight, before the big guns come out Friday and Saturday night.

As I was walking down the street I met big Rapper Brown.
I asked him if he would take me in, and he looked at me with a frown.
He said, “Last time you was paid off, with me you chalked up no score,
But I'll take your advance and I'll give youse a chance to go to sea once more.”.
[Song Notes: This is a traditional song which Jerry Garcia and David Grisman adapted for their awesome album Shady Grove.]


Not tonight.

"Send Swish" Succeeds... At Annoying The Sh*t Out Of Everyone

Hey Yankee fans! Check out the team's website this morning and tell me what the first thing you see is.

Is it a recap of last night's game, which most people who are up early on East Coast time would probably be interested in seeing? Why, no, it's yet another message from the Yankees telling you to vote Nick Swisher into the All-Star game to go along with the - not kidding - THIRTEEN other mentions of the Final Vote and TEN pictures of his face on the front page before you even have to scroll down.

We have:
  1. A gaudy background design telling you to "Send Swish" and visit, even though you are already there.

  2. A banner ad on top of the site.

  3. Underneath the main picture, there is a link to this page created for the "Send Swish" campaign.

  4. And a link to an article Bryan Hoch wrote about all the support Swisher is getting (with a video interview).

  5. And a link to an article about Brian Cashman coercing children into stuffing the ballot box under the guise of charity work.

  6. Another link to an article by Hoch on the status of the vote (Swish is in the lead!!1!). I'm sure Bryan is having a fucking blast writing all of these!

  7. And a link to where you can vote under that.

  8. And a contest (for two regular season tickets and an autographed ball! (/makes wanking motion)) that you could potentially have a 1:10,000,000 chance of winning if you vote for Swisher.

  9. Another link to Swish's campaign headquarters.

  10. On the right, there is the video with him and his surfboard that you would have to have been living in a hole not to to have seen ten times already.

  11. Under that, there is a second link to the support article.

  12. And a second link to the status article.

  13. And yet another link to where you can vote.
This is in addition to the four or five emails the Yankees have blasted out, the shameless plug in the recap, the innumerable on-air mentions, more articles that Hoch has probably been forced to write at gunpoint, and pretty much every Yankee blog happily joining in this massive, elaborate PR circle jerk to maybe see Swisher play a couple of innings in an exhibition game over someone who is more deserving.

To be clear, it's not really the Yankees who are at fault here. They are just doing what they do best: flexing their considerable resources to gain an advantage over the competition. I'm sure the Red Sox campaign for Youk is equally exasperating. The true culprit here is the concept of the "Final Vote", which is baseball's equivalent of having a play-in game for the 64th spot in the NCAA Tournament - a stupid attention grab that means next to nothing.

Sure, all of the All-star voting is essentially a popularity contest and teams are all too happy to promote their own guys ad nauseam as soon as they have the chance, but the Final Vote takes everything that is wrong and irksome with the process and shoves it down your throat constantly for four days straight.

I get it, "Let's rally around our guy". Swisher is having an excellent year. In terms of WAR and wOBA, he trails only Robinson Cano on the team. He's never been an All-Star and since he's a corner outfielder, he's not going to get all that many chances to be one. From his perspective, the opportunity to rally the Yankees' massive fanbase around his candidacy is probably his best shot of ever being able to add the feather of playing in the Mid-Summer Classic to his cap. He seems to sincerely want it, too. But I don't care.

I'm not voting, and if I was - and I know this is tough to believe - I would vote for Kevin Youkilis (you know, the guy who is the best player among those available). He's been worth nearly a full win more than Swisher this year (with Paul Konerko, Michael and Delmon Young trailing well behind) and, as much as we hate him, deserves his third straight All-Star selection more than Swisher deserves his first. Furthermore, when push comes to shove, if the AL needs a pinch hitter in extra innings of the ASG to win homefield advantage in the World Series, I'd much rather see Youk at the plate than Swish. Wouldn't you?