August 2009

1998 Redux?

Ho hum. Another day, another win. Remind you of any other Yankee teams? Maybe one from 11 years back? The team that seemed like it won almost everyday? The team where if it lost you were like, “Ah, whatever. What are we? 70 games over .500?”

I’m not saying this team is going to win 125 games. I’m just saying the day in and day out winning lately, just got me reminiscing a little bit that’s all.

The Yankees are six straight wins away from reaching an unbelievable 40 games over .500 this season. Why is it unbelievable? Do you remember last year? My, what a difference a year makes. My, how the glasses go from half empty to half full. Although I guarantee you there are some fans out there that STILL aren’t satisfied. Maybe they are upset they lost the series to the Rangers? Get over it. It was the first series they lost since they were in Chicago at the beginning of August. In fact, since the All-Star break the Yankees have played 13 series. They are 11-2. By the way, the 11 wins include two series wins and a four-game sweep over the Red Sox. They also swept the Tigers, Orioles, Blue Jays and White Sox.  This team is playing how everyone expected it to play after an unbelievable offseason of signings.

Let me throw some more numbers at you. Since Alex Rodriguez came back into the lineup in Baltimore on May 8, the Bombers are 59-33. Since June 25, they are an unreal 42-16. Since the All-Star break, they are 31-11. They have the best record in the Majors, they are the best team in baseball right now. Not arguably the best, they ARE the best, right now. Some more numbers now for the remaining naysayers and people who can just never be happy. Maybe this will turn that frown upside down. August 31, 2008, the Yankees were 72-64 — just 8 games over .500, 12.5 games back of Tampa and in third place. Do I see a smile? Or was that just gas?

Come on people! Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. This team is flat out good. They are proving it on the field everyday! You know who you are. Don’t make me sic Susan Powter on you. Children of the ’80s you know who I speak of — “STOP THE INSANITY!”

powter.jpgLet me take you back to a past blog. At the All-Star break, if you remember, I was asked to grade the Yankees as a guest on WFAN. I gave them a B+ and I got destroyed. Here’s an excerpt that entry:

Baseball is cyclical. If you have ever played the game you would
understand that sometimes the ball looks like a pebble and you’re trying
to hit it with a toothpick, and sometimes it looks like a beach ball
and you have that big fat red wiffleball bat. 

There are 73 games left, 73. That’s almost an entire NBA or NHL season.
What? I’m gonna worry? GLASS HALF FULL PEOPLE! I said this last year
and I’ll say it again. If you don’t like rooting for a team that
consistently runs out players that are fit to win championships ever
season, there’s always Pittsburgh, Kansas City or Washington. Pledge
your allegiance to teams and owners who put money into a new yacht
instead of putting money into their team.

Am I patting myself on the back? No. Was I right? Yes. The Red Sox won eight straight in the first half of the season. In the second half, the Yankees have taken six of seven. The Yankees are 19-4 in their last 23 home games. They are scoring close to six runs per game, and they are batting .287 with 38 home runs. The fat red wiffleball bat is in full effect. The pitchers are keeping it in the park as well, pitching to an even 3.00 ERA.

Back then there were 73 games left, now 32 remain. The Red Sox keep winning and are still lurking, just six games back. Chew on this though. If the Yankees played .500 ball the rest of the way, that’s 16-16, Boston would have to go 22-10 just to tie. I’m not a betting man, but I like the odds.

So, as the Tempo’s once sang, “See You in September,” everyone. It’s been a heck of a ride, and hopefully the good times will keep rolling along. Hopefully we’ll see you in October, and November where the only number that will matter is 27.
                     

Weekend Warriors

I know that no one cares that I still play baseball on Sunday, and that’s cool. I Twitter about my team from time to time, mostly in a joking fashion, but when Sundays roll around it’s serious business. You here the phrase, “For the love of the game” all the time. Well, in the Sunday leagues, the love of the game isn’t just shown when you are between the lines playing. It’s also shown two hours before game time when you are not only baseball players, but the grounds crew. It doesn’t happen every week, but when Mother Nature decides to display her anger from time to time, and with the crappy baseball fields we play on, it’s necessary to work on them before first pitch. It amazes me that football fields from coast to coast are meticulously maintained, while baseball fields are left to rot in the summer. It’s a travesty and something should be done about it, but I digress.

So 6 a.m. this morning e-mails and text messages started flying back and forth with the team. Fritz brought his tractor, Chris brought the attachment for the tractor to smooth out the infield. There were about six metal rakes in action, I was wielding one of those, a tamper, a couple of shovels, and two leaf blowers. This morning was Sunday playoff baseball in the MSBL over 28 Connecticut league, however, you would think by looking at us, we were a professional grounds crew, not the team that was to take the field in less than two hours.

We don’t get paid to play. We pay to play in these leagues. When Sunday’s roll into Monday’s we get back to the grind. Whatever are normal lives entail. Bumps and bruises don’t ache, they feel good. Making a running catch, feeling a ball come off a wooden bat, diving and snagging a ball up the middle, getting the game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth, these are the reasons we play. Not because we are in a contract year and we need to get a raise, not because we have to, but because we love the game.

Love in this sense is defined as taking a strong liking for something or taking great pleasure in something. Waking up at 7a.m. and tending to a field that looks like a hurricane hit it, all before playing nine innings in 90-degree weather? That’s my definition of love.

Final score: Stamford Mets 4, Wilton Red Sox 3. Shearn: 2-2 GW RBI bottom of the ninth.

That doesn’t hurt either.   

Yankee Mount Rushmore

mountrushmore_375_081909.jpgAn interesting question arose the other night in the studio before Yankees Batting Practice Today presented by Audi began. Who would be on your Yankee Mount Rushmore? Which four Yankee legends would you carve into rock for eternity?

The most popular and obvious choices amongst the crew and myself were: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Four Yankee legends and really a no-brainer. Think of the players you are leaving off though. Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen. The list could just keep going and going like that stupid battery bunny.

It got me thinking and I am curious to know who would make your Yankee Mount Rushmore – or Mount Mystique and Aura? Leave a comment with your four choices. Also don’t forget to check out an all-new Off the Wall podcast with me and the Godfather of YESNetwork.com, Joe Auriemma.

You Don’t Live in Boston…

The New York Yankees run a VERY classy organization and their fans are dubbed by the players as the most knowledgeable fans in the league. Well this week the Boston Red Sox come into town and David Ortiz will bring his cheatin’ heart along with every other cheatin’ part of his body into the Bronx. This will be the time, ladies and gentleman and boys and girls, to show the rest of the country, especially Boston, that not only are you the most knowledgeable, but you handle yourselves with class. Not only because your own team has been caught out on more than one occasion with steroid use, but because you have more CLASS than your “school on Sunday” counterparts in Beantown.

The field microphones picked up plenty of steroid chants when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate whilst the Yankees were in Boston. I don’t want a repeat of that happening at the Stadium. It’s just plain embarrassing.

First of all, for these gulli-bulls, for these nin-cow-poops (Bugs Bunny terms) up in Boston, who thought their precious team was pristine, and free from PED’s … oh wait, that’s right, these are the same people that have re-elected Ted Kennedy over and over and over again, so I shouldn’t be shocked there. The wool is, how you say, easily pulled over their eyes. The entire game was jilted by the juice. Not just New York teams as the Mitchell Report would have you believe, which by the way was run by a guy with ties to the Red Sox.

So Yankees, fans when the big bloody sock machine pulls into town on Thursday for a four game set at the stadium, leave your blow up syringes and steroid chants at home. You don’t live in Boston, YOU live in the greatest city in the world. You, ladies and gentleman boys and girls of all ages, have something your counterparts from the North will never have … class. It reminds me of a coach who took the microphone once and said something along those lines to his hometown crowd.