A Strange Case, Eh?

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #55 – 6/4/10 – Yankees @ Blue Jays

Final Score: Yankees 1, Blue Jays 6.

Welcome to Canada, eh?
This was our first game against the Toronto Blue Jays this season. We were up in the land of maple syrup and bacon, playing at the Rogers Center Centre.
In tonight’s thrilling installment of the Strange Case Of Dr. AJ and Mr. Burnett, we saw Mr. Burnett. He is Dr. AJ‘s not-so-strikeout alter ego, who likes to give up home runs, and gets owned by AstroTurf.
I know the Blue Jays have been hitting a lot of home runs this season, but three off of AJ? Come on, now.
Mr. Burnett pitched six innings, and gave up six runs on six hits. 6 IP, 6 H, 6 R. 6-6-6?
Only AJ Burnett would manage to have his final line be the Devil’s number. His behavior behaviour makes this number seem quite fitting. That’s not it. It gets even creepier. AJ had two strikeouts, and he walked four batters. 2 K, 4 BB. 2 + 4 = 6. 
Well, that explains AJ’s bad start: He was possessed by the Devil.
I must admit, I lost interest in this game early on. I didn’t stop watching, I just stopped paying attention. I was watching the game online through MLB.tv, and I had my TV on ESPN, which was showing the National Spelling Bee. 
I found the words rhabdomyoma and leguleian far more interesting than AJ’s generosity to the Jays, and our comatose bats. I got fired up when one girl was asked to spell gnocchi. Really? Gnocchi is a National Spelling Bee word? I think that there should be a strict rule, stating that a word which is found on an Olive Garden menu cannot be used in the National Spelling Bee.
Anyway, back to the snoozefest game.
I enjoy seeing zeros across the board when they’re in our favor favour, but I don’t like seeing zeros down our own RBI column. Take a took at this beauty:
How can that be, when the Yankees scored one run? Well, the run was scored when Nick Swisher grounded into a double play. The run scored, but he wasn’t given the RBI. We had no RBIs on the night. That pretty much sums up our offense during this game.

In conclusion:

On to the next.


Welcome To The SWEEP-stakes!

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #54 – 6/3/10 – Orioles @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 6, Orioles 3.

Oh, how sweep it is!
A win is a win, and a sweep is a sweep. No matter what team you’re facing, it always feels good to sweep them under the rug.
It was a good game. CC Sabathia pitched well, our batters hit well, Chamberlain had a clean eighth inning, and Mariano Rivera got the save. 
It wasn’t Rivera’s best inning of work. He wasn’t exactly efficient with his pitch count. We did, however, see him hit 94 and 95 MPH with a few of his pitches. When was the last time we saw that much heat from Mariano? At first I thought the radar gun was broken, but then I checked out other sources, and it was indeed accurate. Seeing that velocity from Mariano again is unbelievable. He threw too many pitches, but still got the job done. Praise be to Mo.
As happy as I am about this sweep, I’m a little sad about the state of the Baltimore Orioles. I’m a Yankees fan, but I’m also a fan of baseball in general. As much as I love winning, I love it even more when we beat teams that look alive on the field. The Orioles looked dead out there. It looks as though they’ve already given up on having a winning season. It truly is a sad sight.
Remember when Baltimore was a strong contender in our division? Up until the late 90’s they were. Now, they’re just stuck in the basement, and it’s quite depressing. 
It’s only the beginning of June, for heaven’s sake. We’re only a third of the way through the season. It’s too soon for the Orioles to give up now! Will they make it to the playoffs? Probably not. But they can still finish the season with a winning record. The odds are against them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t fight. It’s always heartbreaking to see a baseball team playing with no passion or hope. It’s bad for baseball as a sport.
I wish the Orioles would go back to contending. I wish they’d go back to being an obstacle we’d have to overcome to win the division. With the Rays being a strong team, the Red Sox being dangerous, and the Blue Jays being decent, we need the Orioles to become a winning team, so that our division can become even stronger.
A lot of Yankees fans don’t want our division to be any stronger than it already is. The Rays are already ahead of us, the Red Sox may break out into a hot streak at any moment, and we haven’t even faced the Blue Jays yet, so we don’t know how we’ll be against them. A better Orioles team might mean less wins for the Yankees. 
All of that is true, but I’m the type of fan who wouldn’t mind sacrificing an easy win or two, so that we may have better baseball.
Having more contenders in our division, means more heated competition. The hotter the competition is, the less room we have for error. Less room for error leads to better baseball. In a game against our division rivals, I would rather have nine competitive innings, than nine easy innings in which our opponents look dead. I find it boring to play a team 18 times a season, and have them looking dead in at least 12 of those games. 
I have enough faith in the strength of our team to wish that our opponents were stronger. It’s not a fluke, boys and girls, our Yankees are stacked from top to bottom. I really think we’ll win the division this year. When we do, wouldn’t you much rather go into the playoffs with the satisfaction of knowing that we beat the best that baseball has to offer?
Our division already is the best in baseball, but I want it to be even better. Having five teams with winning records in our division would make it an amazing season. It would also add t
o the drama of the race for October, and would make winning a title all the more sweet.
I hope the Orioles can find a way to get excited about baseball again. Dave Trembley, their manager, was fired after yesterday’s game. A new manager might be the fuel needed to spark some fire in Baltimore. If it does, and the Orioles start to show some fight, we’ll be seeing better baseball for the remainder of the season.

Broken Record

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #53 – 6/2/10 – Orioles @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 9, Orioles 1.

I truly feel like a broken record here. Phil Hughes is absolutely phenomenal this year! We’re in June, and this young man is 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA. I knew he was going to be good, but I didn’t think he was going to be this good.
Another outstanding start from Huuuuuuuuuughes. This kid is the real deal. He’s got excellent pitching, an excellent mentality, and doesn’t seem fazed by anything. He is showing us all that he’s a future ace. Very few people can doubt that. How blessed are we, that our fifth starter is better than most teams’ aces? 
Of course, our bats were alive and well today. We hit the Orioles’ Bergesen early, scoring six runs in the second and third innings. Then, we got three more runs off of the O’s bullpen. We finished the game with nine runs on fourteen hits.
Can you feel the wrath of the modern-day Murderers’ Row?
We secured the series win, now let’s bring those brooms out! 

Savvy Javy

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #52 – 6/1/10 – Orioles @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 3, Orioles 1.

It was a pitchers’ duel, in which Javier Vazquez prevailed. I have to give credit to the Orioles’ Brian Matusz, who pitched a gem. He only gave up one earned run. The other two runs were defensive errors, so he’s not to blame. Matusz really seems to pitch well against division rivals, and he did so in this game.
The winner of the duel was Javier Vazquez, who gave us an excellent start. He pitched seven beautiful innings, in which he gave up one run on four hits, walked one, and struck out seven. The one run he gave up, a solo home run, was really the only mistake he made this game. He pitched a true gem, and I’m glad the Yankees managed to score in the seventh inning, because he truly deserved that W.
I was a little bothered by some of the comments about Javy, during and after the game. 
One fan asked “Who is this pitcher, and what has he done with the real Javier Vazquez?”
Hello. This is the real Javier Vazquez. A solid, innings-eating starting pitcher, who stocks up on strikeouts and rakes in the wins. What we saw from Vazquez in his first few starts wasn’t who he really is. Even if he continues on this very same pace, he’s due to get us 12 wins this season. Don’t forget that he’s our fourth starter. AJ Burnett got us 13 wins as our second starter last year. I will be happy with 12 wins from Javy.
One beat writer wrote: “The Orioles made Javy look good.”
See, I have a big problem with a comment like that. Whenever Vazquez pitches well, it’s because the other team’s lineup made him look good. I suppose in his great start against the Tigers, they made him look good. The Mets also happened to make Javier Vazquez look good. When will this incessant hatred end? 
His good performances this year were all due to his good pitching. The opposing lineups didn’t make him look good, he made himself look good. While sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch to give the win to a starting pitcher, because our lineup hits well enough to earn the win, I have no problem giving Javier Vazquez his wins. Why? Because for some reason, our lineup is asleep when he’s on the mound. Maybe because he’s always up against a tough opponent in the pitching match-ups, who knows? All I know is that in Javy’s starts, he has to pitch his heart out, because he gets little run support. So when he gets the win, it’s the result of a great effort.
Enough with the hate, people. Javier Vazquez is back on track. Try showing support for your own starting pitcher.

Amazing Andy

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #51 – 5/31/10 – Indians @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 11, Indians 2.

What an absolutely amazing start from Andy Pettitte. This man just keeps getting better and better! At certain points during the game, it was actually scary to watch him pitch so beautifully. He was in the zone, locating his pitches outstandingly. When you don’t have the most power, it’s all about location, location, location. 
Andy pitches seven beautiful innings, in which he gave up one run (a solo home run to Peralta) on four hits. He walked no one, and struck out five. He finished the seventh inning with 89 pitches, and could have easily pitched the eighth inning, if he didn’t have to sit in the dugout for half an hour, while our bats went to work.
I’m sure Andy didn’t mind, though, because it was a wonderful bottom of the seventh that further padded his win.
We scored six runs in the seventh inning. Six runs! I [expletive] love this lineup! Four of those runs came from Alex Rodriguez hitting a GRAND SLAM, after Teixeira was intentionally walked. Where have we heard this before? One day, pitchers will learn that they shouldn’t intentionally walk Teixeira to get to Rodriguez. It seems to spark a fire under A-Rod’s bottom, and makes him an even better hitter. Until they realize that intentionally walking Tex is a bad thing, I guess we’ll just have to enjoy seeing A-Rod rake in the RBIs.
Then there was Robinson Cano, who hit a solo home run right after Rodriguez’s grand salami. BACK TO BACK AND BELLY TO BELLY! Cano and A-Rod are in a race to see who can get the most RBIs this season. I’m enjoying this race. Keep bringing in those runs, boys!
All of our starters got hits this game. All of them! From top to bottom, this lineup is solid. Once Teixeira gets back to being Teixeira, we will have the second-coming of Murderers Row. Mark. My. Words.
Great win for our men in pinstripes. We won the series, and we’re closing the gap on the Rays in the division. Bring on Baltimore!

Back On Track

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #50 – 5/30/10 – Indians @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 7, Indians 3.

In today’s installment of the Strange Case Of Dr. AJ & Mr. Burnett, we saw the skillful talent of Dr. AJ.
Burnett is a mystery. I hate using movie-line cliches, but he really is like a box of chocolate. Which AJ are you going to get? You don’t know until he pitches a couple of innings. In this game, he pitched eight solid innings, gave up three runs (only ONE of them was earned) on five hits. He walked no batters, and struck out eight. This is the AJ we like to see.
He handed the game over to Mariano Rivera, who closed it perfectly. 
Our bats were alive, scoring seven runs on twelve hits. Teixeira looks like he’s heating up, he hit his eighth home run of the season, and went 2-for-4 in the game. We saw doubles, triples, and hits galore. Have I mentioned that I love this lineup? I don’t envy the pitchers who have to face us.
All in all, it was a great game. We quickly erased the disappointment of the previous game, and got back on track. 

Joba NOT Well Done

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #49 – 5/29/10 – Indians @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 11, Indians 13.

Oh boy.

What can I say about…

Like AJ Burnett, he leaves me…

Sometimes he’s…

And others he’s just…

I always see him as…

Remember those days?

Now when he comes jogging out of the bullpen, we might as well…

To see which Joba will show up…

In this game, he was…

And not in the “OMG that movie was hilarious” way. More like…

It’s funny how Girardi just left Joba in the game to make a mess of things…

I mean, I get that Joba Chamberlain is supposed to be our “Go-To Guy”, but he gave up four runs to get one out…

Sure, it’s not like the rest of our bullpen was any better…

normal_headdesk.jpg image by Mmmarshmallow

But the biggest implosion was Joba Chamberlain, who got t
he big fat…

You’d think we’d win a game in which we scored 11 runs. Luckily, I was drunk by the 7th inning…

Otherwise, this game would have made me reach for my…

Oh well. I can forget about this game. Tomorrow is a brand new day.


Keeping It Hot

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #48 – 5/28/10 – Indians @ Yankees

Final Score: Yankees 8, Indians 2.

There’s not much to say about this game, except that it was hot. 
Phil Hughes continued to show us that he truly does belong in the rotation. He gave up two runs on five hits, walked one and struck out eight. I’m saying this a lot this season, but I’m so happy Joe Girardi chose Hughes for the rotation. I can’t believe anyone was even considering leaving him in the bullpen.
The biggest surprise, however, came before the game, when the lineups were announced. Alex Rodriguez needed a day off, so we needed a cleanup hitter. Who stepped up to the plate? Robinson Cano. Boy, did he step it up big. 
In the seventh inning, with the bases loaded, Cano stepped up to the plate. If Tony Sipp was relieved that he was facing Cano, and not Rodriguez, that relief was soon gone. Robinson Cano blast a home run off of the Indians’ lefty reliever. A GRAND SALAMI to make sure that Phil Hughes’ wonderful start wouldn’t go to waste.
Add that to Nick Swisher’s two-run blast, Gardner and Miranda’s RBI’s, and you have yourself a win!
What else can be said? Robinson Cano continues to be hotter than hot, showing us that he is a huge asset in our lineup.
As for Hughes, well he’s simply PHILTY.

A Little Intelligence Goes A Long Way

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #47 – 5/27/10 – Yankees @ Twins

Final Score: Yankees 2, Twins 8.

Prior to this game, Twins’ Outfielder, Denard Span, said this on Twitter:
“See if we can avoid a sweep tonight. Man I can’t stand the yanks!”

I guess the days of using your mind before you use your mouth are long gone. This Twitter update got to me, not because it was about the Yankees, but because it shows classlessness, and more importantly, stupidity.
Normally, I wouldn’t care enough to discuss such a matter. As a Yankees fan, I suffer from a superiority complex. I think that we’re better than to bother ourselves with something so petty. Our team’s success speaks for itself, and we really have no need for such stupidity coming out of our clubhouse. 
Span’s comment, however, is just a part of what seems to be a trend. After hearing Curt Schilling and Jonathan Papelbon shoot their mouths off over the years, Jimmy Rollins talk trash without backing it up with performance, and Dallas Braden make a big deal about something stupid, I felt the need to address the issue. I’m using this comment from Span to talk about something that affects players all over the league.
I scrolled through Span’s previous tweets. I didn’t have the time (nor the interest) to go too far back in his timeline, but I saw his messages from days when the Twins were facing other teams. The only team he spoke negatively about was the Yankees.
Is this a classic example of an inferiority complex? Is he angry that the Yankees regularly dominate the Twins? Is he angry that the Yankees probably won’t be interested in signing him? I’m not sure what his reasoning was behind such a statement. My guess is that he lacked any.
In today’s world, free agency plays a big role in the make-up of teams, and the lives of players. It has become a rarity to see a player retire wearing the same uniform in which he debuted, and spent his entire career wearing. It is in the best interest of the players, as well as the
teams, to take advantage of free agency. 
In a world in which free agents tend to go to the highest bidder, it doesn’t make sense for any player to publicly show negative feelings towards any team. It is especially illogical for a player to show ill-natured thoughts towards the team that usually pays the highest salaries. No one knows where Span will end up playing, not even Span himself. He is still at the beginning of what could be a long career. Why would a young player choose to speak ill of another team that may, one day, be interested in signing him? 
Side note: I doubt that the Yankees will ever sign Denard Span, but nothing is impossible.
What was Denard Span thinking when he wrote such a Tweet? My guess is that he simply wasn’t.
Even if we take away the element of free agency, and assume that Span plans to stay with the Twins for the rest of his career, there’s a little thing I expect from players on a Major League level. That thing is called “class”. 
Derek Jeter has been a Yankee his entire career. Everyone knows that he will continue being a Yankee until the day he retires. Even after retirement, it is unfathomable that Jeter will ever be associated with any Major League team other than the New York Yankees. Even with all of this, knowing that he will never don a uniform other than a Yankee uniform, Jeter has never spoken negatively of another team.
Have we ever heard Derek Jeter say “Man, I hate the Red Sox”? Has he ever said anything negative about a team? No, he hasn’t. Jeter respects other teams and their players, and he is therefore respected by all. He is hated by many opposing fans because of his success, but he is respected because of his respect for the game. Any player who wants to be respected by his peers should follow Derek’s example, and treat others with respect.
Comparing Denard Span to Derek Jeter seems to be unfair. Derek Jeter is a seasoned veteran, whereas Span is still a young player at the beginning of his career. Every player, however, should aim to become like Derek Jeter. I’m not talking about talent or success. I’m talking about attitude and class. Every young player should aim to be respected by his peers throughout his career. Making comments like “I hate that team” doesn’t earn you any respect.
Some people said to me “If Derek Jeter made a similar comment about the Red Sox, you would love it”. No, I really wouldn’t. I would be more upset about any Yankee making such a comment about any team, especially if that Yankee is Jeter. 
If Jeter made a comment like that, I’d be one of the first fans telling him to shut his mouth and let his bat and glove do the talking on the field. Derek Jeter would tell Derek Jeter to shut his mouth if he made such a statement. I’m very Jeterian when it comes to how I expect players to deal with other teams. As a fan, I constantly show my hatred of the Boston Red Sox, but I would never accept our players doing the same. I’m watching the games from the stands, or on TV, I’m not on the field. There’s a major difference between what is considered acceptable behavior for a fan, and what is acceptable for a player.
Side note: I didn’t enjoy certain statements George Steinbrenner made about other teams, either. Steinbrenner, however, is an owner, not a player. While I still find ill-natured remarks unacceptable, he’s his own boss.
This is a trap which I find many players falling into. Several players buy into the hype of “rivalry” and “animosity” created by the fans, and start thinking that it is acceptable for them to behave similarly. As Yankees fans, we’ve especially seen this from some members of the Red Sox organization. While I accept and respect hatred of other teams coming from fans, I can never accept and respect hatred coming from opposing players.
Professional athletes, in general, need to be aware of their impact on the image of their respective teams and organizations. It is not enough to play well, and master your athletic skills. Athletes need to have an understanding of the world of Public Relations. If they don’t, then they should know to shut up, and ask their agents and representatives about what is and isn’t acceptable. I’m sure that Span’s agent isn’t happy about such a statement from his client.
Being a professional baseball player is no different from being an employee of any company. When you’re at work, you’re expected to carry yourself in a manner befitting the corporate image of your employers. When I’m at work, I can’t respond to an employee or client with any negative statement. I can’t make a public statement showing hatred for our competitors. This will harm the image of my organization. 
The difference between me, an average employee in the business world, and a professional athlete, is that I can say whatever I want when I’m not at work. No one cares about any statement I make when I’m representing myself, in my free time. Professional athletes don’t have this luxury. From the moment they first put on their team’s jersey until the end of their days in that uniform, they are representing their team all day, every day. This is much more difficult than the ten hours or so in which I represent my company every day, but then again my company doesn’t pay me millions of dollars a year for my services. 
I’m not going to dive into other sports leagues, because different sports require different levels of self-control. One example I heard was boxing. You can’t compare boxing to baseball. Boxers face each other one-on-one, represent themselves and not an organization, and they’re meant to literally beat each other up. When Boxer X speaks in an ill-natured manner of Boxer Y, it is acceptable. It’s a part of the game, because he is representing himself, facing an opponent who is also representing himself. He is expected to go into a ring and pummel his opponent. He can say whatever he wants before the match.
In baseball, you play 162 regular season games, and you not only represent yourself, more importantly you represent your team. If I were an official in the Minnesota Twins organization, I would be annoyed by Denard Span’s comment on Twitter. Twitter has become a leading media outlet, and public figures must carry themselves while tweeting, in the same manner in which they carry themselves in interviews or press conferences. 
As a Yankees’ fan, I would be angry if Nick Swisher or Joba Chamberlain (both frequent Twitter users) made a comment like that about any team. They would not only make themselves look bad, they’d make my team look bad. That, to me, is unacceptable.
Furthermore, players never know what team th
ey will be representing in the future. Why would you want to hinder your career over a stupid remark? I mentioned Schilling, Papelbon and Rollins earlier. The main difference between those three players, and players like Braden and Span, is that the former three have established themselves in their careers. They have the success to back up their classless remarks. Dallas Braden and Denard Span are still starting out. They need to learn how to control what they say, otherwise they’ll end up being the players that no team wants. 
They may have the skills, but teams look for more than mere talent. Teams want players who will make them look good as well as help them win, especially the teams who have the financial means to be picky. If Denard Span and Dallas Braden dream of ever playing for the creme de la creme of baseball, they need to start behaving with class. 
At the end of the day, as a professional athlete, your actions on the field speak louder than your words off it. Shooting your mouth off doesn’t make anyone fear you, it makes everyone ridicule you and your team. As a baseball player, if you truly hate a team, and you want to see them fail, shut your mouth and put your bat and glove up. Show them Hell on the field, but keep your mouth shut up off it.

It Takes Two

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #46 – 5/26/10 – Yankees @ Twins

Final Score: Yankees 3, Twins 2.

Andy Pettitte knew what he had to do. He had to get us a win, clinch the series win, and save the bullpen arms.

So, Andy Pettitte put his game face on…

pettitte stare.jpg
And went to work…

Dandy Andy pitched a…

Leaving me even more…

In the eighth inning, things got a little…

But he worked his way out of trouble, and left me…

I completely forgot about Andy’s last start, when he made me…

Andy Pettitte quickly makes us forget the bad.

When Andy’s gem was at risk, Swishalicious stepped up to the plate…

And hit a…

A solo blast that gave us the win.

Then it was time to close out the game…

enter sandman.gif
He picked up his second save in one night.

Some ask the question…

The answer is simple…

Thumbnail image for mariano rivera.jpg

So the Yankees took two wins on the same day…

it takes two cover.jpg
Which means that the Yankees beat the Twins in 11 out of their last 12 games…