Well, the World Series is over, and the New York Yankees are once again the champions. New York celebrated with a parade yesterday and the presentation of the key to the city.
Congratulations to the Yankees…you were the best team in baseball this year, and you truly deserve this.
Anyone who has bothered to read about me, or who has read some of the first few posts in this blog, knows that I became a Yankees fan — actually a baseball fan — because of former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. In the last paragraph of this post, I stated that I knew the Yankees would win because had Mussina retired one year too soon. I was right.
I’ve been thinking about Mussina through the entire postseason, as well as through much of the latter half of the regular season. Earlier in the season, when the Yankees were 0-8 vs. Boston and lost 2 out of 3 games to the 19-46 Nationals, including their only shutout at Yankee Stadium, I admit that I had a few doubts about how this season might turn out! But then I reminded myself that Moose had retired, which meant that the Yankees would, in fact, pull it out and somehow and win it all. I’m pleased that the Yankees won. I didn’t particularly want the Phillies to beat them, nor did I want the Phillies to win the World Series two years in a row regardless of who their opponent was. I’m happy for the “old guys” — Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — for getting ring #5. I’m happy for Alex Rodriguez, because even though I can’t stand the little fart, he managed to shut out all the distractions and all the crap (self-inflicted, of course), and he just played the game…quite well, in fact. (If he could just learn to simply play ball and keep his mouth shut, he’d be far less insufferable.) And I’m especially happy for Hideki Matsui, who has dealt with his share if injury issues in recent years. His knees may be shot, but his bat was more than enough in Game 6, and his MVP Award is well-deserved. If this turns out to be his final performance for the Yankees, it was one hell of a way to make an exit.
I can’t help but feel some pangs of sadness, disappointment, and even some anger over this win…a year too late…actually, eight years too late. The Yankees should have won #27 eight years ago Wednesday night…that horse was long since been bludgeoned to death on my message board, so I don’t really want go there in depth again. In all honesty, those feelings do temper my happiness about Wednesday night’s win. I can’t help it, I won’t make excuses for it, and I won’t apologize for it…that’s just the way it is.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Mussina remains happy and at peace with his decision to retire. But I also remember his comments on WFAN back in February, when he mentioned his disappointment at never having gotten a World Series ring. This just seems to be his lot, considering how many “almosts” he’s had in his career. I’m sure Mike is happy for his former teammates, but I can’t help wondering if he’s feeling a bit of disappointment that #27 came a year too late for him. I know I’m certainly disappointed. I’m sure that it bothers me far more than it bothers him. But I do wonder what he might have been thinking the other night after the Yankees won Game 6. I was thinking, Just his luck…he got there a year too late and left a year too early…….
What can I say…I’m definitely NOT a typical Yankees fan! LOL
Back in July, a friend and I went up to New York from Maryland, and met up with some friends at the new Yankee Stadium, to see Mike Mussina pitch again. No, the Yankees didn’t re-sign him…Mike took part in the Yankees annual Old-Timers game. It was fun but also a little bittersweet seeing Mike in pinstripes again. I’ve been a Mussina fan for a long time, and I miss hearing/reading about him pitching every fifth day. Mike wasn’t exactly effective in his Old-Timers game debut, givng up hit after hit to guys who are old enough to be his father. But then, his defense also consisted of guys who are old enough to be his father, and they didn’t exactly make the strongest of efforts to get to balls hit in their general direction!
Seeing the Old-Timers game was fun, though not nearly as meaningful to me as it was for the long-time Yankee fan friends I met up with at the Stadium. I’ve been a Yankees fan only since Mike Mussina signed with the Yankees, so the Yankees pre-Mussina history means little to me. (That’s just one of the many ways I differ from the typical Yankees fan…I’m pretty atypical, in fact…but I digress….)
I enjoyed seeing the new ballpark. I’m pleased to see that the design stayed true to history. The Yankees could have gone in an entirely different direction and built a stadium with a very modern look rather than a traditional look, but I really think if they had done so, the fans would have revolted!
I also enjoyed watching the actual Yankees game. I had been hoping that Joba Chamberlain would pitch in that game, and he did…and the Yankees defeated the Tigers, 2-1.
I took a bunch of photos that day. You can take a look at them here.
Some ramblings while I’m watching the game…
A couple of weeks ago, I looked into getting a ticket for this game. Since it was scheduled to be a day game, I thought it would be cool to get a ticket, take an early train up to NY from DC, go to the game, and take the train back home at about 6:30-7:00. That would have gotten me back home sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. But I wasn’t able to find an affordable ticket on the Yankees web site, so I gave up on that idea. Fortunately for me, I didn’t think to check StubHub at that time, where I probably would have been able to find something affordable. Why is that fortunate? Because of the 5-hour 26-minute rain delay! By the time this game got underway at about 6:30, I would have been back at Penn Station, either boarding a train or getting ready to board one soon.
Right now, it’s the bottom of the 7th, and the Nationals are leading 3-0. The Yankees have 2 on with 1 out, and Hideki Matsui is at bat. This will be where the Yankees rally and take the lead…not necessarily this inning, but it’ll happen. This is, after all, the Nationals bullpen we’re talking about.
Update: Tavarez coming into the game? Get ready, Yankees fans…here comes the rally……
Update: OMG…I hope Brett Gardner will be OK. The MASN commentators are talking about his lower back, but it looked to me like hit his head. Ouch!! Hell of a catch too….
Update: I probably shouldn’t be so negative where the Nationals are concerned, but I’m a realist. I know how bad this team — specifically the bullpen — is. It’s the bottom of the 9th, and they only need 3 outs for a win, but they will find a way to blow it…or the defense will blow it. Not that this would be a bad thing, because the Yankees need to win tonight…..
Update: Umm…WHAT?!?! The Nationals won, 3-0? The Nationals WON??
Are you kidding me?!?!?
Once again, the Yankees made a young, unknown pitcher look like Cy Young. Rookie Craig Stammen got his first major league win, pitching a solid 6 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball, giving up 6 hits with 2 strikeouts. The usually horrendous Nationals bullpen not only protected the lead by not giving up any runs, but Ron Villone, Julian Tavarez, and Joe Biemel didn’t even give up a hit. Mike MacDougal allowed 1 hit. Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman were 3-5 with 2 and 1 RBI, respectively. Adam Dunn, DH’ing again tonight, was 2-2 with 2 walks. Even the Nationals usually weak defense played well, with a diving catch by Willie Harris that robbed Alex Rodriguez of a hit, and a perfect throw by Austin Kearns from right field to second to get Nick Swisher out.
For the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain surrendered 3 runs in 6 innings, with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks. Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, and David Robertson combined to give up just 1 hit and no runs, but the damage was already done. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher were 2-4; Swisher also grounded into a double play in the 9th inning. Derek Jeter pinch hit for Ramiro Pena with the bases loaded, but the Yankees best threat of the game ended when he grounded into a fielder’s choice. Brett Garner made an excellent catch at the wall to rob Austin Kearns of a hit, crashing into the wall and crumbling to the ground in the process. Considering how his head snapped back and hit the plexiglas wall, he was lucky that he didn’t lose consciousness. I hope he will be OK.
Tonight’s game was the first at Yankee Stadium this season in which no home runs were hit. I guess the baseballs were too wet to leave the park!
I officially suck at making predictions. As I mentioned earlier, I know I shouldn’t be so negative where the Nats are concerned, but I honestly believed that they would not win any of these games. Prior to the series, I thought they might have a slim chance to beat Chien-Ming Wang, but I didn’t expect even two wins, much less a sweep.
(Here goes my split personality again…..)
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!! I’m freaking out here…I can’t believe the Nationals — the “lowly Nationals” — beat the Yankees TWICE. Going back to the 2006 Yankees/Nationals interleague series, the Nats are 4-2 vs. the Yankees! Chien-Ming Wang is 0-2 vs. the Nationals. WOW!! Unfreakingbelieveable! Maybe this will be a turning point for the team, and they will play more respectably for the rest of the season. If nothing else, it’s got to be a confidence builder!
WTF is wrong with the Yankees?! How is it possible that they lost this series to the worst team in baseball…one of the worst teams EVER?! It’s pathetic. A-Rod was 0-the series. The entire team is in a slump — great timing, to be slumping against a team that hasn’t even won 20 games by mid-June. If the Red Sox win again tonight, the Yankees will fall 4 games back in the division. Hell, the Blue Jays have swept the Phillies, so they’re breathing down our necks. This sucks!!! SNAP OUT OF IT, YANKEES!!
Jeez…what a series.
OK…this is it…well, almost it…one more day until the Yankees/Nationals 3 game interleague series at Yankee Stadium. I’m still going slightly bonkers over this series, trying to decide if I should root for one team over the other, or just cheer for both teams and not care about the outcome. Should I happen to take leave of my senses and root for the Nationals over the Yankees in this series, it would be completely irrelevant. Why? Because I am 99.9 percent sure that the Yankees will easily sweep this series, and at least one of the games will closely resemble yesterday’s Yankees/Mets blowout for the Yankees. I suspect this series will be quite an(other) ugly one for the Nationals.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for this series.
Tuesday, June 16 — CC Sabathia vs. Shairon Martis
My prediction: Yankees 12, Nationals 1.
While with the Brewers, Sabathia shut out the Nats last August, 5-0. Either Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn will hit a solo home run early in the game for the Nationals, and then Sabathia will shut down the Nats offense and pitch a complete game. Martis will pitch well for 5 innings, keeping the score fairly close. With the Yankees leading, Martis will be replaced by Kip Wells, who will give up 5 or 6 runs…and the rout will be on.
Wednesday, June 17 — Chien-Ming Wang vs. John Lannan
My predicition: Yankees 7, Nationals 4.
This could be the final test for Wang. If he pitches poorly against the Nationals, his future in pinstripes could be in serious jeopardy. If the Nationals manage to win a game in this series, this wwould be the game they win. But it’s not gonna happen. Wang will miraculously pitch well for a full 7 innings. Lannan will pitch very well for 6 innings but get very little run support, and then the Nationals bullpen will once again implode, allowing the Yankees to cruise to a victory.
Thursday, June 18 — Joba Chamberlain vs. Craig Stammen
My prediction: Yankees 8, Nationals 5.
For some reason, I have a feeling there will be some hit batters on both sides, and a bench clearing push-and-shove (as opposed to a bench clearing brawl — no punches thrown, just some pushing snd shoving). Someone on the Nationals will have a hissy fit over Chamberlain’s post-strikeout gesticulations, batters will be hit, and minor mayhem will follow. The umpires will shoo everyone back to their respective dugouts, and the Yankees will complete the sweep.
As Forrest Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.
Interleague play returns, starting on Friday.
I have previously expressed my thoughts about it here. I still believe that it has run its course, and if we’re going to have continue to deal with it, then I still think some changes need to be made in order to keep interleague play fresh and interesting. I know a lot of baseball fans like it just as it is now; I am not one of them. Actually, it’s not that I don’t like it. I’m just over it. It’s just not that big a deal to me anymore.
This second round of interleague play differs greatly from round one for me personally, because it may just cause my brain to explode into lots of tiny pieces. Why? Because my two favorite teams will be playing each other next week. Yes, the Washington Nationals will play the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday — the 16th, 17th, and 18th.
This is a huge dilemma for me. It probably shouldn’t be, but it is. The reality of this series, most likely, is that the Yankees will sweep and not fall too far behind the Red Sox in the AL.East (assuming that they haven’t regained the lead by then). As a Yankees fan, that is exactly what I should be hoping for — a sweep of the Nationals. After all, the Yankees are battling the Red Sox, and the Blue Jays too, actually, for the division lead. The Nationals are dead last in the NL East, with the worst record in baseball (again).
But…I’m also a Nationals fan.
Taking at least 2 of 3 games at Yankee Stadium would be a tremendous shot in the arm for a struggling Nationals team. It might even be enough to boost them into an actual winning streak of more than just 3 games in a row! (The Nats have won 3 straight games only once this season.)
How could I possibly root for my home team to be swept?
How could I possibly root for my other team to lose any games when they’re in a tight battle for the top spot in their division?
The last — and only — time the Nationals and Yankees faced each other in interleague play was three years ago, also on June 16-18. The Yankees won the first game; the Nationals won the second game. In the third game, Chien-Ming Wang pitched extremely well for 8 innings. But in the bottom of the 9th, with the Yankees leading 2-1, Marlon Anderson singled, and then Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run. Final score: Nationals 3, Yankees 2. The celebration at home plate was immortalized in a mural above the Scoreboard Walk at Nationals Park.
For many Nationals fans, this victory over the Yankees (on Father’s Day), and this series win, is one of the highlights of the Nationals brief history in Washington. I wore a Yankees cap and a Nationals t-shirt to the first game, a Nats
cap and Yankees t-shirt to the second game…and a Redskins cap and
t-shirt to the third game. I was conflicted then, and I’m conflicted now.
AAAUUUUGGHHHH!!! What am I going to do???
Is interleague play really necessary anymore? In my opinion, the novelty has worn off. It was fun at first, but it’s just not as interesting as it initially was. This weekend, in particular — with some of the so-called “rivalries” games — was just…well, boring. Was anyone other than the fans of the respective teams really interested in the result of the series between the last place Nationals and the last place Orioles, or the result of the series between the last place A’s and the next-to-last place Diamondbacks? Of course, last place teams in each league do play other last place teams within their own leagues, but those aren’t hyped the way interleague series are hyped.
Another reason why I’m no longer a big fan of interleague play is because it creates a major, and possibly dangerous, disadvantage for AL teams when they play in NL ballparks. Thanks to the lack of a DH in the AL, pitchers don’t normally have to bat, and therefore aren’t used to running the bases. At best, they risk tiring sooner than they normally would; at worst, they risk injury. Remember, it was during interleague play last year when Chien-Ming Wang’s season ended due to a foot injury suffered while running the bases.
Fans generally still seem to enjoy interleague play, as evidenced by the fact that attendence rises for it. I googled “interleague play” tonight out of curiosity, and I found an article showing that ballplayers apparently are far less fond of interleague play than fans. According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com:
Players we surveyed this week told Rumblings they would estimate the number of players who dislike interleague play is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-75 percent.
Stark mentions several of the players’ complaints regarding interleague play, most of which make a lot of sense, IMO.
One suggestion made by a ballplayer caught my attention in that ESPN.com article.
Phillies pitcher Chad Durbin proposed an idea we’ve campaigned for forever: “Use the visiting team’s league rules,” he said. “Show the fans something unique.”
I think that’s pretty interesting. It would definitely be unique.
What do you think? Do you still find interleague play fun and/or interesting?
Yankees vs. Phillies
The home run total at the Bronx Bandbox increased by 12 during the weekend interleague series between the Yankees and the Phillies — 6 by each team — as the Yankees lost 2 of 3 games to the Phillies. There have been 87 home runs already at Yankee Stadium, and it’s not even at the end of May. Just imagine how the home runs will be flying out of the park once the temperature and humidity go up later in the season!
Friday: the Yankees lost, 7-3, in a game that included a total of 7 home runs. The testosterone level on the field skyrocketed on the field in the 1st inning when Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Derek Jeter, in obvious retaliation after A.J. Burnett hit Chase Utley in the shoulder. The plate umpire then warned both dugouts. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to throw a pitch at a batter. If you hit him, you give the opposing team a baserunner, and you risk injuring him. Why not just have the pitcher and hitter drop their pants, whip it out to see which one is bigger, and then get on with the game.
Chien-Ming Wang was activated before the game, replaced Burnett in the 7th inning. He threw 51 pitches, giving up 2 runs (including a home run) on 6 hits. His pitches had more velocity, but his location was off a bit. Maybe he’s just rusty?
Saturday: the Yankees were victorious in a 5-4 come from behind win. Those 9th inning comebacks seem to be becoming a Yankees trademark this season. Oh, and “only” 4 home runs were hit in that game.
Sunday: the Yankees lost, 4-3, in 11 innings, before a crowd of 46,986. That’s the largest Yankee Stadium crowd since opening day. Melky Cabrera did his best to be the hero for the second night in a row, hitting a game-tying single in the 9th inning. But it wasn’t meant to be…no wild celebration for the Yankees after this game. CC Sabathia pitched very well, allowing just 3 runs on 9 hits over 8 innings. But with two outs and the score tied in the 11th inning, Brett Tomko walked Chase Utley, and after Utley stole second, Carlos Ruiz doubled to score Utley. The Yankees were unable to score in the bottom of the 11th.
Interleague play resumes for the Yankees on June 12th, vs. the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Nationals vs. Orioles
The Battle of the Beltways — i.e., the interleague series between the Nationals and the Orioles — wasn’t quite as much of a snoozer as I thought it would be. Yes, both teams stink, and the games probably held very little interest for anyone other than Nats or O’s fans. But the Nationals starting pitchers had very good games on Friday and Saturday, although the usually prolific offense fell asleep on those nights in losses to the Orioles. However, the offense woke up in time to bail out a less than spectacular effort from Sunday’s starter to prevent a sweep.
Friday: the Nationals lost, 4-2 in 12 innings. Jordan Zimmermann had the longest start of his young career, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. Zimm2 walked 1, struck out 7, and gave up a home run. But the Nationals offense took the night off, scoring just 2 runs (on Ryan Zimmerman’s 4th inning homer, with Nick Johnson on 1st). It would be easy to blame the bullpen again for this loss…but if the offense had not fallen asleep, the game’s outcome might have been different.
Saturday: I was at this game, a 2-1 loss, getting to see Ross Detweiler for myself. He did not disappoint, with a 6 inning, 1 hit and 1 run performance. Justin Maxwell sparkled on defense with an outstanding catch above and over the wall in centerfield, robbing Brian Roberts of a home run. Julian Tavarez gave up a run in the 7th to give the Orioles a lead that they never lost. The Nats’ normally porous bullpen prevented the Orioles from scoring additional runs, but for the second night in a row, the Nationals offense took the night off. Another game…another loss. Ho hum.
Sunday: I was at this game as well, an 8-5 victory to avoid the sweep. Shairon Martis did not have his A-game, but his offense finally woke up and let him off the hook. His defense helped him out as well…in particular, a leaping catch in front of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field by Austin Kearns, robbing Nick Markakis of a hit in the first inning. Martis also helped himself out with an RBI single in the 5th inning, scoring Wil Nieves to tie the score at 3. Adam Dunn got it done with 2 homers, including a grand slam in the 7th inning after the Orioles intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn. Anderson Hernandez added to the defensive highlights with a spectacular diving catch of a Brian Roberts line drive in the 8th inning. Wonder of wonders, Ron Villone, Joe Beimel, and Joel Hanrahan combined to shut down the Orioles over the last 3 innings — no hits, no walks, no runs. Amazing!!
Interleague play resumes for the Nationals on June 12th at Tampa Bay.
Another night, another loss for the Yankees.
Facing his former team, A.J. Burnett kept the Blue Jays hitless for 3 innings, until things fell apart in the 4th inning. By the time he was finished for the night, he had given up 5 runs on 7 hits, including a home run. There were also 3 strikeouts and 4 walks. Aside from those first three innings, the only good really thing about Burnett’s performance is that he pitched into the 8th inning, thereby not wearing out the bullpen. But giving up 5 runs is not a good thing to do when he’s going up against former teammate Roy Halladay, who just so happens to be one of the best pitchers in the American League.
On top of the loss, Derek Jeter was scratched with a sore right oblique, and Hideki Matsui left the game in the 5th inning with a tight right hamstring.
The Yankees are 3-7 in May, and have 5 wins against AL East opponents so far this season. At the rate they’re going, they really could be out of the division race by Memorial Day.
Last week, Jenn at the Phillies Phollowers blog mentioned that she had checked on ticket prices at Yankee Stadium for the Phillies series there. She was appalled at the prices. I also would like to see the new stadium, so a couple of days ago I checked the Yankees web site to see if there were any affordable tickets available for the June 18th Yankees/Nationals game. It’s a day game, so I could just take an early train up to NY from DC, take the subway to the game, and then reverse the process after the game. It would be a long day — up at 5 a.m., return home at about 1 a.m. — but it would be fun.
Not gonna happen.
The least expensive ticket I found cost $90. Ninety dollars. For a seat by the left field foul pole. A seat in a similar location at Nationals Park would cost $30. The ninety dollar seat is actually one of the cheaper prices for Yankee Stadium. As much as I’d love to see that game, there is no way in hell I’m going to spend that much money for a ticket, especially considering how much a round trip ticket on Amtrak would cost me.
I do want to see a game at Yankee Stadium sometime this season, so I’m not going to give up trying to get a reasonably priced ticket (by reasonably priced, I mean under $50) for any game. But I definitely won’t be seeing the Yankees play the Nationals in person.