``Forget how the game is played? I have forgotten more baseball than this guy knows,'' Piniella said.
``On the idiot subject, I'm appalled he would actually say something like that. I had a meeting with my team and to a man they denied it. He's questioning my character and integrity and that is wrong. He's never played for me, never really spoken to me, so he really doesn't know what I stand for.
``If I were Curt, I would be really embarrassed at the cheap shot he took and get the story correct. I'll tell you I've always admired his pitching ability and competitiveness, but I can honestly tell you I've lost a lot of respect for him. I'm looking forward to talking to Curt myself and get this matter cleared up,'' he said. ap
Tom Hallion, the home plate umpire in Tuesday night's game, had a consistent strike zone: Small. Nothing on the fringes. Carl Pavano, the Yankees' pitcher, glared in after a couple of near-misses, but adapted. Bartolo Colon had more problems with Hallion's strike zone, his pitch count climbing over 100 in less than four innings. In A-Rod's first at-bat, the count was 1-1, and Colon spun a pretty good breaking ball over the outside corner. Rodriguez flinched slightly; it looked like strike 2, Kaat and Ken Singleton agreed. Hallion called it a ball. A-Rod got a break; he would have been behind in the count, again. He might have guessed again, and perhaps the rest of the night would have played out differently.
The count went to 2-2 and with two runners on base and A-Rod struggling, Colon challenged Rodriguez, who anticipated a fastball – almost coming out of his shoes to swing. And he clubbed a three-run homer.
By his third at-bat, A-Rod was in full attack mode, his swing quickened; he was all over Colon's fastball. He had hit a two-run shot in his second at-bat, with the count 3-2 in the fourth inning, he launched a grand slam, for his 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th RBI.
He would finish with 10 RBI , and the guy I thought of, watching this, was Roger Clemens. The future Hall of Famer had labored through his first season with the Yankees, so much that Andy Pettitte said he sat in the dugout sometimes and thought: When are you going to bring the good stuff? Clemens continued in the same way into his second season with the team, got hurt, went on the disabled list. He pitched great in his first game back, in early July – and then took off. It was as if in that first game back, he shed some of his discomfort and went back to being a superstar again.
Maybe that's what this 10 RBI game will do for A-Rod: The perfect performance against a great pitcher with the perfect hitters' umpire behind the plate. Maybe it'll be a reminder of how much fun the game can be, rather than a daily barometer of whether or not he's worthy of pinstripes. There's not much point in worrying about that stuff now, anyway, because he can't prove anything to Yankees' fans during the long season; ultimately, all the Yankees are judged by the owner and the fan base on whether they win in October.
Maybe A-Rod won't be so anxious any more. We'll see. As Luis Sojo told Jack Curry, the Yankees have to have him be great again. [buster olney, espn insider blog thing]
Labels: team a-rod
Pedro Martinez, the newest charismatic New York baseball star who'd burned brighter than any other this whole season — this whole April! — would perform at Shea. It was my sad duty to trudge to Yankee Stadium to watch faded people like Alex Rodriguez.
My sad duty, indeed.
Because if all the baseball buzz had surrounded that old Parks Department facility in Flushing, they all should have heard it in the big ballpark in the Bronx when A-Rod stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of last night's game against the Angels of all of Southern California.
Should have heard it when A-Rod, who had previously cracked a majestic three-run homer to left-center in the first and then a two-run rope over the wall in left in the third, dug in against Bartolo Colon. And then they should have heard it after he crushed, absolutely crushed Colon's full count pitch — his 101st and last — high and far and gone off the fence protecting the black bleacher area in center field.
Three at bats. Three home uns. Nine runs batted in.
Should have heard it as A-Rod circled the bases and then almost bashfully accepted another curtain call on the top step of the dugout. They probably they did hear it. All the way in Queens. [ny post]
Labels: team a-rod
At the mention of Phillips, Jeter's eyes widened.
"He can hit," the captain said. "That's the bottom line. I called his homer."
"What did Phillips say when you told him that?" he was asked.
"Thanks," Jeter said. [daily news]
Labels: team a-rod
Boston fan: Dude, Gary Sheffield is about to be right in front of us
Boston friend: Do you see how smooth his skin is? What do you think he uses?
Boston fan: I don't know but I bet you he moisturizes. I'm gonna ask him. Here he comes. (Reaching over fence). Hey Gary, how do you get such a smooth shave? Let me feel. (Reaching over to rub Gary's face.) Man that's smooth.
Gary: (Reaching over the wall with ball in glove.) I know man. You gotta stay smooth in pinstripes brother. Look at yours, I can feel stubble through my glove. (Rubbing glove on Dirtbag's face.) Darn, I got so excited about skin care that I forgot I gotta get this ball to the infield. Hold on. I'll be right back. (Gary turns to hurl the ball back towards second.)
Boston friend to Gary as Sheff comes flying back: Gary, I use an electric, you think that will work out.
Gary: (Now obviously enraged) Man, electric razors make me so mad I could go crazy. You'll never get that big league look without a razor. And you can't skimp on the gel brother. That's the key.
Boston fan in Gap sweatshirt: (Hurls beer in disgust) Man, I've been using cream all this time. Sorry, Gary no pun intended with the word "cream"
Gary: No offense taken partner. I knew what you meant.
Two women seated right next to them: Uhh girl, all this man talk is stupid. Lets get out of here.
Security guard flies in between: Don't mean to interrupt guys but I heard your conversation and had to get in on it. Gary, I'm curious on your opinion on waxing. I say it's not just for women anymore.
Assorted Yankee players arrive on the scene: Gary, we've been trying to get your secrets for skin care for years. We're not going to miss out on this.
Umpires and cops arrive: Guys, we agree that male grooming is a very important topic in this day and age but we gotta get this game on.
Gary: No problem. You know how I am. Whenever there's a fellow man in need of some tips, I'll be there for them. Proper grooming unites us all. Later guys, gotta go play.
In the big inning, God created Heaven on Earth. And it was without form, and void. God separated the dirt from the grass. He called the grass Outfield and the dirt He called Infield. God made the Infield a 90-foot square and the Outfield not less than 400 feet to center and 320 feet down the lines. He declared this Fair Territory. All other territory, God then declared, was Foul.
And God divided the players into two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, to play The Game on His field. God called some of these players Pitchers and some of them Hitters. He placed a Pitcher precisely 60 feet 6 inches from a Hitter. Then God commanded that it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the ol' Ballgame.
And God granted jurisdiction of The Game to lesser Gods, whom He called Umpires. God said the Umpires are infallible, blessed with Heavenly authority, whose judgment is not to be questioned under penalty of expulsion from The Game. And God looked at his creation and He was pleased. Then God created the Infield Fly Rule to confuse nonbelievers.
And God said, Let there be light beer, and there was. And, God said, let there be peanuts and hot dogs and overpriced souvenirs and let there be frosty chocolate malts with little wooden spoons that you can buy nowhere else except at this Heaven, which God called a Ballpark, and there was. God looked at His creation and it was good. [mcsweeney's]
Let's not kid ourselves. This is being blown out of proportion in part because Rivera was facing the Red Sox. Had he blown back-to-back saves against the Devil Rays in June--or to the A's and Rangers in August, as he did back in 2003--there wouldn't be headlines like "Time to panic in the Bronx?" or lines like "Has he lost it?" working their way into coverage. Because Rivera's failures this week came against the Red Sox, six months after he was credited with two blown saves against them in the ALCS, there's a rush to pass some kind of judgment based on a vanishingly small sample of events.
...Save yesterday's outing, Rivera hadn't pitched poorly, and in fact, had pitched very well in at least one of the games, blown save or no. The common thread isn't failure by Rivera; it's that the Yankees asked him to protect four one-run leads. Certainly in the ALCS, the Yankees' failure to capitalize on late-game situations was as much a factor in their losses as anything Rivera did.
That's not to say Rivera is 100%. Whether his elbow is still bothering him, or just the lack of work he got in spring training because of the elbow, he clearly wasn't the same in the second of back-to-back games. He's not done so much as he's still in the third week of spring training, trying to get himself into game shape. That's a much more plausible explanation that inferring, from two outings, that the Cyborg Reliever has suddenly lost his power pack.
Rivera was asked: What did Joe say?
Rivera said, "He told me I was beautiful."
Did he hear the boos?
"I am not deaf."
The ground ball to A-Rod?
"I thought it was over."
Then Rivera, who like Jeter has always been this combination of talent and grace and heart, said this:
"I've been in the World Series, buddy. And lost. That's behind me now."
What we see in two straight games in April doesn't mean the Red Sox will always have Rivera's number. Or that the Yankees can't win everything this season with him as their closer the way they have won three times already with him as their closer. It doesn't mean he is washed up, even though no power relief pitcher in history has gone this long and this hard and with this kind of sustained excellence. Maybe he took the whole winter off for a reason.
"I don't live in the past," he said yesterday.
He does not. You cannot in his line of work. There will never be another closer like this, not here or anywhere else. He was a champion yesterday in front of his locker, even if he was not against the Red Sox. He does not live in the past but that is where his best days are.
While Jeter winning the game was no-doubt huge, it was surely expected. Perhaps more telling was the choke job by the other team’s Captain; a man who feels the need to parade around his Captain-ness while our guy remains one of the guys. Had the other team’s Captain had the clutch sense of Jeter, rest assured he would have gotten Damon’s ball to leave the park, but he did not. He seems overwhelmed with his status as Captain and even if he gets comfortable, there can only be one Clutch God. That Clutch God mans SS for the New York Yankees. [replacement level yankee weblog]
...they've added this AWESOME new segment. I'm not sure what the full name is, but it involves the Stadium people picking three songs, and I guess sometime during Spring Training, they asked the Yanks which song they preferred. Whichever is the most popular gets played after that. Last night the theme was the 80s (which, hello, you won me right there) and the three song choices were "Tainted Love," "Super Freak," and "Video Killed the Radio Star." When they show A-Rod, Shef and a few others picking Super Freak (and A-Rod looked particularly pleased with that song) I wasn't so shocked. But guess who else likes it? MOOSE. I almost lost it right there. Because, seriously. I can't picture the man grooving around to Rick James in the locker room, but he looked pretty excited when mentioning it. Then there's Kevin Brown going, "Grrrrr...Tainted Love....Grrrrr..." and Bernie, the musical virtuoso of the bunch, laughing going, "Um, PASS?" Well, Super Freak of course wins out, but not till they flash Tino hopefully saying, "Video Killed the Radio Star?" and then this loud buzzeresque "EHHHHHHHH!" as if to say "Tino, you are obviously the Old Man Loser of the Yankees with that response."
Willie needs Mo, instead gets woe
Reds' Joe Randa (l.) comes home to wild reception as his ninth-inning home run follows Adam Dunn's two-run shot and makes losers of Mets.
CINCINNATI - Sandman! Cue Sandman!
Sorry, no Sandman. Very clearly, this was no longer the rally-proof Bronx, the triple-pad-locked, barb-wired playground of a certain one-pitch reliever.
"I'm not on the Yankees anymore," Willie Randolph said yesterday, after Braden Looper turned the manager's lilting debut with the Mets into some kind of Wes Craven vision, a 7-6 come-from-ahead defeat. "There are not many Mariano Riveras around."
Randolph spoke of this not so much as a revelation, but as a long-accepted truth. His address was different now, and so was the karma. Still, it seemed particularly cruel and inopportune that Randolph's first reality check arrived in the ninth inning at Great American Ballpark, with a two-run lead and his closer on the mound.
Welcome to the uniform.
There is a community on Martha's Vineyard, a row of gingerbread houses that in the 1930s served as a religious campground but is now summer home to people like Paul Harris and Meta Scheuelin. Meta, from Cambridge, Mass., is a Sox fan by decree, her allegiance passed down like a precious amulet from her grandfather; Paul, from Weston, Conn., grew up in West Hartford in a mostly Red Sox house but became a Yankee fan in 1977 when he watched Reggie Jackson hit three home runs against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the World Series. "I had never seen anything like that," he says. His conversion was prophetic timing considering the next year would bring great rapture off Dent's bat.
The Martha's Vineyard houses are clustered together, the rituals timeless. In the morning, neighbors gather around the porches and sip coffee and relive the game from the previous night. Most everyone who takes the ferryboat over wears a Red Sox cap, but not all. Paul has been coming here for 43 years, always armed with the same jokes. How can you tell it's Columbus Day? Everyone comes to close their house and put away the Red Sox for the season.
One day three summers ago, Meta woke to find odd etchings — NY 4, Bos 3, she thinks it was — written in chalk on the pavement outside her cottage. They were simple and clean numbers, like you'd find in a box score. Soon she was retaliating, sometimes crawling on her hands and knees to print her own score. Now each night numbers appear, almost as if they're scrawled by magic. Even Paul's girls, Caroline, 11, and Charlotte, 8, began adding their artistic flourishes to the street scene, continuing the game for a new generation.
"It's become pretty serious the last two years with us trying to outwit each other and seeing who can get it done without being caught," says Meta.
"This," says Paul, "is going to be a very humble summer."
Woodbridge, Va.: If you can spell Cabrera, why can't you spell bEdard correctly?
Tom Boswell: I can't spell anything correctly. I was taught the phoenetics (?) method in D.C. public elementary schools. (See, I can't even spell that.) It was later determined to be a complete disaster as a spelling methodology. My spelling is so bad that one editor once kept a COLLECTION of my more amazing mistakes.
Silver Spring, Md.: Does Peter Angelos realize the key to having a successful franchise is to put on a great and ultimately competitive product instead of blaming other forces and the Nationals for his shortcomings? As a diehard Orioles fan growing up, Mr. Angelos is truly upsetting me and giving me not much of a choice but to root for the Nationals.
The territorial argument, does not highlight the crux of the bigger issue -- the team has not been competitive, a lot of long time fans have no one to relate and they are turning away...
Tom Boswell: Can I quote you?
Cheltenham, Md.: I'm going to watch "Damn Yankees" to help get in the mood for baseball this weekend, not that I need it. What's your favorite baseball movie of all time. Mine would probably be "Field of Dreams."
Tom Boswell: I have a copy of "Damn Yankees" because my boyhood hero -- Roy Sievers is shown TWICE in the movie hitting home runs in old Griffith Stadium. He's "No. 2" for Washington and is, supposedly, the Joe Hardy character (the hero). I always know where to go to get a Sievers fix.
Favorite movie -- by a million miles -- is "Bull Durham." Sorry, but I absolutely HATE "Field of Dreams." It epitomizes every sentimental fake-poetic piece of crap ever written or filmed about baseball. Kinsella is an idiot. (He doesn't even like baseball anymore.) Okay, he's not an idiot. But my views, temperament are very much from the gritty, funny, hard-nosed (and sexy) "Bull Durham" view of what the game really is up close. "Field" is for the third-tier poets like that guy Donald Hall. heh, heh, got that off my chest. :-)
Allendale, N.J.: How will the Yankees do this year with all the changes they have made and will the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox be just as intense?
Tom Boswell: As usual, they will win 101 games and lose in the post-season. Great talent. Lotta age. They get worn down by 162 games. And poor clubhouse chemistry, despite Torre. No October MAGIC left in that clubhouse. Just the opposite now, in fact.
Takoma Park, Md.: As a displaced Mets fan, and rooting a bit for the Nats (which might be a problem). How do you feel the Mets will do this year? Thanks.
Tom Boswell: Overrated. Just like every spring of my adult life.
But Willie Randolph is one of my favorites. I always ask him every year, "Are the %$#^&@'s calling you for managing interviews yet?"
Washington, D.C.: Tom, do you have any real understanding of how Alex Rodriguez is meshing with his teammates? Is he truly imperious and aloof, and not liked? Or is that mostly malicious gossip?
Tom Boswell: Mostly malicious gossip. But his preference for 19th-century French Impressionist art work in his home doesn't always mesh with the gun racks on some Yankee trucks.
Fairfax, Va.: Isn't rooting for two baseball teams the same as having two wives?
Tom Boswell: Yes. And what a fascinating concept!