Ouch, Not A Good Start For The Yankees 2014 Season

Jeter

Saying the Yankees Opening Day didn’t go so well would be an understatement. CC Sabathia went six innings, charged with six runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out six. Jeter went 1-for-3 with a run scored and was hit by a pitch, while Mark Teixeira was 2-for-3 with a walk in his first game since last June.

The Yankees showed some sign of life in the eighth as they scored twice, but it was too little too late. The Astros ultimately cruised to an easy 6-2 win over the Yanks.

Is this a sign of things to come for the season, or will they be able to shake off this early loss and move on?

Cano Cans Boaras; Inks Deal With Entertainment Mogul Jay-Z As Agent

Jay-Z

It hit the media like a ton of bricks, and hopefully won't mean the end of him in New York.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano announced on Tuesday he's splitting from agent Scott Boras. It wouldn't be that big of a deal, but Cano is in line to become the most sought-after free agent next fall.

It remains to be seen if the move will kill his chances of returning to New York, where he's a HUGE fan favorite and isn't that bad on the field either. The Yankees have been trying to sign the star second baseman.

The Yankees made an offer to Cano earlier this winter, in dealing with Boras, but hadn't gained any traction in their talks, and when Boras clients get this close to free agency, they typically play out their contracts and test the market.

Cano instead of staying with Boras has replaced him with a new agency headed by Jay-Z, the entertainment mogul and Yankee fan.

It could be a good sign, or could be a sign that Cano is ready to hit the market – and take his new pal Jay-Z on a cross-country tour to find a new team in 2014.

18 Reason To Love The Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry

It’s that time once again. When the pastoral game of baseball becomes a war. When even mild mannered fans become filled with bloodlust and hate. When friends become enemies, and enemies become bitter rivals. It is time for Yankees/Red Sox.

Usually, I reserve these times for blasting the National Outlets and mainstream media for bleeding the most epic rivalry in sports for all it’s worth. But I’m not going to do that today. Today I am going to celebrate The Rivalry. Because, as any Yankee or Red Sox fan can tell you, these dates are circled immediately after the schedule is released for the upcoming season. Records don’t matter. Standings don’t matter. And, for three or four days at a time, the rest of the baseball world recedes into the background.

So, before we delve into the cornucopia that is Yankees/Red Sox, I thought it’d be fun to look at 18 reasons why this is the greatest rivalry in North American sports. Why 18? Because the teams square of 18 times this season. Yes, there are many more reasons that I couldn’t fit in this space, and the list is in no particular order. These are just the first 18 that came to mind. So please, enjoy the list. And feel free to add your own reasons why you love this clash of perennial titans. After all, a rivalry is nothing without passionate fans!

1) The Curse Of Bambino- Babe Ruth was larger than life and a Baseball Icon. But, for Boston fans, he loomed even larger in death. For it was Harry Frazee who sold Ruth to the Yankees to help finance is Broadway Play. Ruth helped transform the once lackluster Yankees into the most successful franchise the World has ever seen. All the while, The Red Sox became a study in loss and disappointment. Before Ruth was traded, the Yankees were not only second fiddle to the dominant Red Sox (winners of 5 of the first 12 World Series played), they were vagabonds in their own city, renting out the Polo Grounds from the dominant New York Giants. Ruth’s arrival in New York changed the course of Baseball History… for the Yankees, The Red Sox, and Baseball in New York.

2) 1978- After winning the 1977 World Series, it seemed that the incidents that made The Bronx Zoo what it was were starting to weigh on the team. Instead of trying to defend their title, the Yankees found themselves struggling just to keep the dominant Red Sox within sight in the AL East race. But all of that changed in July as the Yankees, trailing the AL East leading Red Sox by 14.5 games, surged to a second half comeback for the ages. In September, the Yankees and Red Sox played a four game series in Boston in which the Yankees swept the Red Sox and outscored them 42-9. The Boston Massacre, as it came to be known, completely erased Boston’s once insurmountable lead. It all led to a one game playoff which is famous for Bucky Dent’s improbable home run… And another World Series Title. It should be noted that the Yankees replicated their massacre in August of 2006. Proving that even without The Curse, the Yankees are the dominant team.

3) Bucky Dent- As mentioned above, Dent is Public Enemy Number One (That may be open to debate) in Boston. With the Red Sox clinging to a 2-0 lead, the light hitting Dent blasted a 3-run home run over the Green Monster, sending the Yankees to the ALCS and plunging the dagger further into the hearts of Red Sox Nation.

4) Bill Buckner- The Yankees presence over the Red Sox has always loomed large amid the Rivalry. But during the 1986 World Series it took it’s first steps out of the Bronx to the Borough of Queens. Poised to finally end The Curse, the Red Sox succumbed to an incredible Game 6 comeback staged by the New York Mets that was highlighted by the misplaying of a routine ground ball that was mishandled by the usually sure handed Bill Buckner. What made it worse was that the Red Sox had another chance at glory, and even held a 3-0 lead in Game 7, only to see the Mets come back once more. It seemed that even in a city as big as New York, the Red Sox couldn’t hide from The Curse Of The Bambino.

5) 2003- It seemed that the playing field had finally been leveled. And with the advent of the Wild Card, the Yankees and Red Sox took their show to the League Championship Series for the first time. It it lived p to the billing. Close games, brawls, and an epic Game 7 comeback proved that there was no love loss for these bitter rivals. But the Series is best known for Aaron Boone’s dramatic 11th inning home run off of Tim Wakefield that sent the Yankees to the World Series and extended the curse to an 86th year. This series also cos Grady Little his job as he inexplicably left Pedro Martinez in the game instead of going to his bullpen with a lead in the 8th inning.

6) Aaron Boone- An unlikely hero, Boone was picked up by the Yankees at the trading deadline. Deals like this happen every year. Some fall into obscurity. Some work out and the player helps the team to a championship. This one sent Boone straight into the Lore of the Rivalry. As one Red Sox fan pointed out to me in the days that followed, “His name begins with a B. Red Sox fans saw it coming.” The “B” obviously referring to Babe, Bucky, & Buckner. It should be noted that Boone played another role in this rivalry as well. While playing a pick up game of basketball, he blew ut hi knee, thus voiding his contract with the Yankees. This turn of events allowed New York to swoop in and acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers. The Rangers had already agreed to trade A-Rod to Boston, but the Union killed the deal because financial wranglings. The end result was that A-Rod went on to play third base for the Yankees, and Red Sox Nation had another player to hate. This wouldn’t be the last time the Yankees swept in a stole player from out under Boston’s nose.

7) 2004- Though the Yankees won the 2003 ALCS in dramatic fashion, and swept in to acquire the most dominant hitter of the era, the Red Sox finally got in a shot of their own. After falling behind 3-0 in a rematch of the 2003 ALCS, Boston staged their own magical comeback and turned the Rivalry on it’s ear by becoming the first team in Baseball to erase a 0-3 deficit in the Postseason. Finally breaking the Curse Of The Bambino. The comeback vaulted Boston to their first World Series in 86 years. And doing against their bitter rival only added fuel to the most intense rivalry in sports. The series, most remembered for the comeback, also featured the bloody sock, A-Rod slapping at a ball running to first, & David Robert’s running ability… among other things.

8) Who’s Your Daddy- Every Rivalry needs a hero and a villain. And depending on which side of the fence you’re on, the title will change. Pedro Martinez is reviled in the Yankee Universe. Whether it’s throwing at Posada’s head, or tossing Don Zimmer to the ground. Pedro is persona non grata among Yankee fans. Though he is one of the games premeir pitcher’s, Martinez found himself unable to navigate the Yankees vaunted offense and in September of 2004, following a loss at the Satdium, he was heard to say “They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.” This became a rally cry for Yankee fans that extended to the 2009 World Series, where Martinez was a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yankees were his Daddy that year too!

9) Munson Vs. Fisk- This hearkens back to a time when the players on both teams really didn’t like each other. This hate was epitomized by Munson and Fisk. Munson was hard nosed and didn’t back down from anyone. He seemed to always be in the shadow of Fisk and he didn’t like it. He was the first Yankee Captian since Lou Gherig. And he deserved that title. Their hatred for one another is one of the many things that make this rivalry so great. And like Varitek (see below), Fisk was an ass (to Yanke fans anyway), but at least he fought fair.

10) A-Rod Vs. Varitek- This one doesn’t have the length of Munson and Fisk, but it could be pointed to as the point that the Red Sox began to level the playing field in the Rivalry. On July 24th. 2004, A-Rod and Varitek exchanged words, and punches. Always looking for something to rally around (Cowboy Up, Idiots), the Red Sox used this as the fuel that would eventually end The Curse. There is one thing that I take umbrage with regarding this incident. Varitek wouldn’t even remove his mask to exchange blows. All the while, shoving his giant catchers mitt into A-Rod’s grill. I thought then, as I do now, that the move was rather cowardly. If you’re going to fight… Fight like a man.

11) Derek Jeter- Not since the days of Joe DiMaggio has there been a Yankee who so graciously epitomizes what it means to where The Pinstripes. Jeter is the personification of Yankee Success. And for that, he is understandably hated by Red Sox Nation.

12) Dustin Pedroia- Everything that Derek Jeter is to the Yankees… That’s what Pedroia is to the Red Sox. And for that, Yankees Universe hates him.

13) The Evil Empire- As the saying goes “Stick and stones may break my bones…” When the Yankees swooped in (yet again) and signed Cuban star Jose Contreras away from Boston, Larry Luchino dubbed them The Evil Empire. The problem is that the Yankees latched onto this title and ran with it. Proving that “Good” doesn’t always win, and rooting for the Bad Guy is a lot of fun. A point of note. In December of 2008, the “Evil Empire” would again foil the plans of the Red Sox by signing Mark Teixeira away from them at the last minute. It was a move that would help the Yankees eventually net their 27th World Series Championship.

14) David Ortiz- The once obscure Ortiz became a fixture in The Rivalry by ascending to the status of Yankee killer. Only Manny Ramirez strikes more fear into the hearts of Yankee fans when the game is on the line.

15) Manny Ramirez- Aloof as he is, Manny is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. And, like him or not, he has a flair for the dramatic. He also loves to hit against the Yankees. He, like Ortiz, is a staple of The Rivalry. Especially since he represents the times which it would seem the Red Sox had the edge over the Yankees.

16) Teixeira vs. Padilla- As with most rivalries, there has to be players that don’t like each other. Enter Mark Teixeira and Vincente Padilla. Both have a history that dates back to when they were with other teams. And even when they were teammates in Texas. I don’t think anyone can argue that Padilla is a bit of a head hunter. And Teixeira, who is normally very soft spoken, as been very vocal when it has come to the Red Sox maligned reliever. This kind of story is always good for the media. Put the players in Yankees and Red Sox Jerseys… it’s the stuff that rivalries are made of.

17) 27-6- The Red Sox may have been one of the most successful franchises at the dawn of the game. But there is no doubt which team holds the edge when it comes to hardware. The Yankees 27 World Series Championships are by far the most of any North American franchise in any sport. The Yankees have lost more World Series than the Red Sox have played in. As the slogan says… “Got Rings?”

18) Since The Curse Ended- On the surface, it would seem that the Red Sox hold an advantage over the Yankees. After all, they’ve won the Word Series twice (2004, 2008) while the Yankees have won only once (2009). But those numbers don’t tell the entire story. For that we have to dig a little deeper:

American League Pennants: Boston 2; New York 1

AL East Titles: New York 5; Boston 2

Failed to reach the Postseason: Boston 3; New York 1

As you can see, the implementation of the Wild Card has helped tremendously in evening this Rivalry. Who knows how it might have played out if this was how the postseason was set up so many years ago.

 

But it doesn’t matter who is dominating at the moment, or what history may say. What it comes down to is that these series are looked forward too by players and fans alike. A Rivalry like this is why we watch sports. So, wherever you are this weekend, enjoy the latest installment of Yankees/ Red Sox! I know I will!

The Series That Turned The Yankees Around?

Like a long hitting streak, it may begin innocuously. Maybe a 1 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. But if this weekend’s series against the Mariners marks the moment in which the Yankees resorted to their winning ways, the significance should not be lost on any of us. Yes, the Mariners are a fledgling team. Hard pressed to score runs and practically buried in the basement of the AL West. But they came into this series as the second hottest team in the American League (Oakland) since the All Start break, winners of seven consecutive game. And to say that the Yankees stumbled into the weekend set might be a huge understatement.

On Friday, the Yankees sent their Ace to the hill, and CC Sabathia did exactly what an Ace is supposed to do. He stifled the Mariner’s bats to the tune of 3 runs on 3 hits in a complete game gem that saw the Mariners score 2 insignificant runs in the 9th inning. The Yankees offense looked sharp as well, going 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position and getting 3 2-out RBI.

The good feelings were quickly stifled on Saturday afternoon. But there really shouldn’t be cause for panic. Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitcher’s in the game. And while no one would expect this dominant Yankee offense to be blanked, it was still just one game. And sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. On the plus side, Hiroki Kuroda turned in a gem of his own, hurling 6.1 innings of one run ball. And the bullpen seemed to regain it’s form as Logan, Robinson, and Rapada combined to pitch 2.2 shutout innings. But, a loss is a loss. And it seemed that the Yankees would stay mired in there slump. Especially with sending the recently shaky Freddy Garcia to the hill on Sunday afternoon.

Despite giving up a 1st Inning run (He was saved from giving up a second by the grace of Nick Swisher’s arm), Freddy Garcia managed to keep the Mariner’s offense at bay. He put runners on in every inning but one (4th), but he didn’t allow another runner to cross the plate until the 5th inning. Not a great performance, but serviceable because the Yankees offense got off the mat and did what they do best, erasing Seattle’s early run in the 1st with one of their own. Then taking the lead in the 2nd inning. A lead they would not relinquish. They also got 3 more 2-out RBI. We’re always talk about not being able to hit home runs in October, so the Yankees sudden knack for scoring with two outs (None on Sunday via the home run I might add) may be a boon come the fall.

The Yankees did everything in Sunday’s game that we have come to expect from them this season. They got great defense, as evidenced by Mark Teixeira’s stellar grab in the 4th, showed hustle on the base paths (Teixeira again), got contributions from unlikely sources, as Chris Stewart went 2 for 3 with 3 runs scored, and saw their bullpen produce another four innings of scoreless baseball.

So now it’s off to Detroit and a four game showdown with the Tigers. This will be a measuring stick series. But as the Yankees continue to persevere through injuries and come up with big plays, the kind that win tight ball games, we should keep this series in the back of our minds. Because as the push to October begins, it may be a few days in early August that really got the Yankees going once again.

-Mike

Yankees Vs. Red Sox Doesn’t Need Your Pageantry

It dates back as far as 1918. It has The Babe, Bill Buckner, and Aaron Boone. It has survived the dead ball era, the live ball era, and the steroid era. It has dramatic story lines like 1978, 2003, and 2004. It is the very definition of what a rivalry is supposed to be about. And now ESPN has declared it all but dead?

During the culmination of the latest installment of The Rivalry, broadcast on ESPN, Dan Shulman was heard to say, on multiple occasions, that the Stadium was oddly quiet and that the rivalry has lost it’s luster. He intimated that, perhaps, this was due to the teams’ vast separation in the standings. But here’s what Shulman is missing. Rivalries, this one more so than any other, do not concern themselves with records or standings. Ask any fan of either team. Read the posts on Twitter and Facebook. This rivalry is as strong as ever! And it does not need the National attention of FOX & ESPN to justify its validity in the sports world. It has existed long before Joe Buck and Tim McCarver arrived on the scene. And it will be here long after ESPN is done salivating over Tim Tebow and LeBron James.

The problem is, that ever since 2003, the national media outlets have sucked all they can out this rivalry, managing to somehow overkill the one thing in sports that needs no buildup. They have used the rivalry, the teams, and the fan bases to garner huge ratings and make ridiculous amounts of money. And now, because one team is struggling, they want to cast it aside. It can’t always be October. And no matter how hard they try, they can’t make it so. But that doesn’t mean the rivalry is any less intense. It just means it’s no longer serving their purpose.

So it’s time to give it back. Part of the problem is that this rivalry has begun to lose it’s identity, from a national standpoint. Part of what makes it so great is the local flair that provides all of the intensity that FOX and ESPN cannot show. It’s not fair to us fans to constantly have Joe Buck or Dan Shulman tell the nation how we feel! Give it back to YES and NESN! At least they have a pulse on how each city feels about, not only their team, but the other team as well. The big channels can’t come in, spend two or three days around the teams and think they can portray an intimate knowledge of this rivalry. The fans will enjoy the games just as much on a sultry Tuesday night in the Bronx as any other time during the season. They don’t need it wrapped up in a pretty bow and presented to them like a gift.

And that’s the shame of it. Because this rivalry is a gift. But to the big network’s it is a sacrifice to the Ratings Gods. Well, it’s time to give it back! FOX & ESPN have lost site of just how great this rivalry is due to their greed and avarice. If they have the audacity to believe it has lost its luster, then they should surrender it unto the fans. Give us back out rivalry! Your loss will truly be our gain!

With The Yankees Playing A Series in Oakland, It’s Time To Revisit "The Flip" Play

It is like Babe Ruth Calling his shot in 1932. Like Carlton Fisk willing the ball fair in 1975. Derek Jeter’s “Flip Play” will not only go down in the annals of Yankees Lore, but Baseball Lore as well. It is the birth of a New York’s heroic postseason comeback in the wake of 9/11. It is the play that saved a Dynasty. At least for a few more weeks. It is an October Moment for the ages. One that is branded into our psyche. Over the years, Yankee fans have come to expect these things from their Captain. But this one… This one seems to stand out from the rest because it involves so much of the intangibles that everyone agrees is what makes Derek Jeter such a fantastic player. So, since the Yankees are playing in Oakland, it is a fitting time to revisit The Flip.

 

Click link below for video

Derek Jeter’s “Flip Play

You know you can still hear the call in your head, even as your reading this… “Derek Jeter with one of the most unbelievable plays you will ever see by a shortstop!”. And whether or not you believe the play was/ is practiced… Both Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez, who would both go on to play for the Yankees in the future, couldn’t believe that, yes, the play is actually practiced…it still took tremendous instincts to complete the sequence. And yes, Bobby Valentine, Jeremy Giambi was indeed out.

But the most amazing aspect of the Flip is that it wasn’t Jeter’s only shining moment of the 2001 Postseason. As the clock turned to Midnight on Halloween, and the recovered World Trade Center Flag blew in the early November breeze on the Center Field Flag Pole at Yankee Stadium. Derek Jeter, once again, lifted his team, and a wounded city, onto his shoulders as he launched a game winning home run, earning him the title “Mr. November”.

Most players dream of just having the chance to be in a position to do something like that. Some players are actually lucky enough to actually have one moment like that. But only Derek Jeter could have two of those moments in one postseason. But there is no Mr. November without there first being… The Flip.

2012 Yankees Have A Little Five O’Clock Lightning In Them As Well

We all know about Murderers’ Row. The’27 Yankees are arguably the greatest team the city of New York and the game of baseball as ever seen. They are the stick by which all team offensive numbers are measured. The 2012 Yankees would certainly make their 1927 counterparts proud, given their home run prowess and best record in the Majors through 90 games. But the 2012 Yankees have something else in common with Murderers’ Row. And it might not be something that would immediately come to mind.

Like the 2012 Yankees, Murderer’s Row had a propensity to score in the late innings, not only defeating their opponents, but demoralizing them as well. Due to the start times of games in the 20s, the eighth inning would usually start around Five O’Clock. The New York Press quickly dubbed the ’27 team “Five O’Clock Lightning”. “We’d beat you in the late innings, said Miller Huggins, if not sooner.”(As read in “Five O’Clock Lightning- Harvey Frommer). This curent Yankee team is doing something quite similar in 2012. Just ask the Boston Red Sox. Or more recently the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Toronto Blue Jays.

“Many times the Yankees had to come from behind, starting rallies, scoring many of their runs in the eighth inning…” (Frommer). In 2012, the Yankees have 29 come from behind wins, including erasing a nine run deficit against their arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox. In total, the Yankees have scored 142 runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings combined. Their 65 seventh inning runs is second only to the 71 they’ve scored in the first inning (Another similarity to the Five O’Clock Lightning Yankees. They were good out of the gate as well, scoring 131 times in the first inning during the 1927 season. [Frommer]). They have scored 5 or more runs in the seventh inning or later a total of three times, plating as many as seven runs on two separate occasions. Those are back-breaking crooked numbers for the opposition. Couple this with how effective their bullpen has been this season, and it’s easy to see why the Yankees have amassed the best record in Baseball. The score early. They score late. And they shut other teams down.

So the next time you’re at The Stadium on a warm summer evening, and the eighth inning of a close game rolls around, cast an ear toward Heritage Field, where the ghosts will be waiting for the Five O’Clock whistle to blow. Listen for it carefully, and wait for the magic to begin.

Times have changed though, and nowadays, more times than not, games are played in the evening. Maybe a more appropriate nickname for the 2012 Yankees would be Ten O’Clock Lightning.

-Mike Tursi

 

- Thanks to Harvey Frommer for giving me a great read and continuing my ever growing education of the greatest team in the history of sports.

- Also, thanks to Baseball Reference for providing me with some quick stats.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad (Thanks Meatloaf)

You can’t be too upset with yesterday’s loss. Did they have breakdowns? Yes. But in the overall picture, they did exactly what they should have in this series. They took 2 out of 3 from the second hottest team in the Majors in their own ballpark (if the roles were reversed, I’m sure fans would think it was necessary to salvage the final game. That’s what good teams do. And the Angels are a good team.)

With the exception of yesterday, they got gutsy, if not stellar pitching all series long. Even in the loss they continued to create late inning magic. And yes, you can blame A-Rod for not coming through, but he did hit a pretty big home run early in the game against one of the best pitchers in baseball to dig the Yankees out of an early deficit. But if we are dispensing blame, then the bullpen deserves it’s share for letting the game get out of hand. One could argue that if they would have stopped the bleeding, the Yankees would have won the game in a similar fashion as Friday night.

The bottom line is that it’s a long season and it’s impossible to win every game. Though, you do start doing a bit more scoreboard watching in the second half. But, in reality, it’s still about winning series’. And the Yankees have done that. Also, Baltimore gained no ground. So, all in all, the Yankees are in as good a position as they were when they woke up Sunday Morning.

Now, just as if they had won yesterday, it’s time to put it behind them and focus on winning another series versus a division foe. They are still the best team in baseball. And they still have a more than comfortable lead on the rest of the division. So, please, don’t fret over one game. Because, like Meatloaf says… “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”.

-Mike