A Happy Ending

As I mentioned before, the Yankees sent the infamous "buried jersey" to the Jimmy Fund for auction.  It is for sale here.  Since it is already up to $30,000 it is about $29,990 out of my price range, but I hope people keep bidding it up and up, it’s for a wonderful cause. 

I Don’t Think This Is The Only Thing He Has Lied About….

Check out this story.  I love the line about "wanting to unburden" himself, that’s cute. 

A Strange Approach

Chien-Ming Wang didn’t fly ahead of the Yankees from Tampa, instead he took the same charter they all did which put him into New York at 6am the day of his start.  Bob Klapisch has the details, but apparently Wang doesn’t llike to fly alone becuase he doesn’t speak English well.  Why can’t the Yankees get someone to fly with Wang or hire a private plane?  They certainly have the money and it might help Wang to have a little more sleep before pitching next time around.   

Now, I am not using lack of sleep as an excuse for Wang, he really stunk last night.  But, I thought Girardi did him no favors leaving him out there in the fifth.  It was clear that Wang didn’t have it last night early on and I think Girardi tried to get him the win by completing the inning instead of pulling him much earlier than he did. 

But they won, thanks to LaTroy Hawkins (how ironic) and a great night from Chad Moeller.  Moeller has been hot at the right time for the Yankees and he has done the little things too (nice slide).  This won’t last, but it  has been fun to watch.  

Game 2 tonight, what’s the over/under on length?  I will say 4.5 hours.   


The Fans Blew It

I read in the paper this morning that LaTroy Hawkins is changing his number from 21 to 22 because too many fans were booing him for using "Paul O’Neill’s" number.  That is ridiculous and I think the fans should get a grip because as good as O’Neill was, he doesn’t deserve to have his number retired. 

O’Neil played nine seasons in New York and did very well, but was he a better Yankee than Willie Randolph?  Red Rolfe spent 10 years in pinstripes (his entire career) and ended up with almost the same number of hits as O’Neill while winning five World Series.  How many fans even know who he is or what his number was?  (Hint, Derek Jeter wears it)

The Yankees took the retired number thing to ridiculous lengths in the Steinbrenner years and they have retired too many of them.  To me the minimum standard should be making the Hall of Fame, unless there are special circumstances. Let’s break them down.

Clearly the numbers 3,4,5,7 and 8 should be retired without question.  Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle and Berra/Dickey are some of the greatest players to ever play the game and no one should ever wear those numbers again.

#37 was retired for Casey Stengel, who won 10 pennants and seven titles as manager.  He also did a ton for the game, so Casey deserves it.

#16 is retired for Whitey Ford who was the greatest pitcher in Yankees’ history.  He won 236 games for the Yankees and won 10 in the World Series.  He deserves it.

#10 is retired for Phil Rizzuto and while his Hall Of Fame spot is questionable. (Let’s face it, a bunch of his buddies on the Veteran’s Committe voted him in) his place in Yankees’ history is not.  Rizzuto was the voice of this team for years and having his number out there reflects his 53 years with the Yankees. 

Now you get to two special situations that have numbers retired, #15 and #32.   #15 is Munson of course, the captain, who died on August 2, 1979.  Munson was a pretty good player and would probably have played 15 years or so for the team if he had lived.  It’s hard to describe what Munson was to people who didn’t see him play and I was young, but I still have the yellowed editorial from the August 3, 1979, edition of the New York Times titled "You Can’t Look It Up"  It contains a very good description of Munson:

"But even casual Yankee fans knew that numbers were not the way to describe the importance of this gruff man to the champions who labeled him their captain but whom he led by performance and example rather than by title.  No fever chart conveys the fire he ignited again and again by delivering the hit to start the rally, or the diving tag at the plate to save the game.  No statistician knows how to tabulate the inspiration he conveyed to teammates and fans watching him play, time and again, with almost disabling injuries…..The baseball lense magnifies and distorts.  Thurman Munson was 32 years old and 5 feet 11.  This, in the real world, he was young, and on the tall side of average.  In baseball, he was regarded as aging and short.  But there was one quality he continued to exemplify in both worlds, and for which he will be mourned: He could be counted on."

I can still see that orange chest protector and I miss it.  Munson is very worthy of that honor.

#32 is for Elston Howard who may not have the numbers, but was also the first "black player in Yankee history".  The Yankees retired his number in 1984, unfortunately after he had died, but long before baseball immortalized Jackie Robinson’s #42 across all teams.  It may seem somewhat redundant in light of that, but for the Yankees to honor the player who broke their color barrier is fine with me.

Now you get to the questionable decisions and I split them into two groups, Reggie and everyone else.

Clearly Reggie was a great player and he is in the Hall of Fame, but he only played as a Yankee for five years.  Reggie did the majority of his accomplishments elsewhere and while his five seasons were memorable, are they worthy of a retired number?  I for one don’t think so.

Everyone else means #1, #9, #23, #49, the guys who are not in the Hall of Fame.  Let’s start with Billy Martin, nice player, genuis manager, troubled man.  He won the Yankees a World Series as manager and practically ripped the team apart the next year.  His firings and hirings became the stuff of comedy.  I don’t think his number should be retired.

Roger Maris did something amazing in 1961 and he had great years from 1960-1962 as a Yankee.  But, he only played seven seasons in New York and just as he fell short in getting into the Hall of Fame, doesn’t he fall short here?  Honor him with a plaque, but his #9 should be back in circulation.

That leaves us with the two hardest cases in my mind, #23 and #49.   Both were great Yankees, but both fall short of being considered all-time greats of the game.  I would pull a little harder for Mattingly, but both fall short of this honor in my mind.  Let me say, I am glad they are both out there, but they do not compare to the other guys.

And this brings me back to Hawkins.  How should the Yankees handle the "great, but not great enough" players’ numbers?  I would propose pulling the number out of circulation for a time period equal to the time the player was a Yankee.  So, Paul O’Neill played nine years in New York and retired after the 2001 season.  Therefore, his number should remain out of circulation until after the 2010 season.  It’s a way to honor a great player without going overboard.  And let’s face it, some numbers will always bring to mind a certain player.  I see #31 and it will always make me think of Dave Winfield, no matter what Ian Kennedy goes on to do.  The Yankees need to respect that, but balance that.  Otherwise, you are going to see #112 at the plate for New York in the not so distant future and we don’t want that. 

And, if you want to take a stroll down memory lane, check out www.YankeeNumbers.com it’s a great source for anything to do with numbers and the Yankees and it helped me write this piece!

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

The Yankees got two wins in Tampa and now head home for a long stretch, two whole days.  Blame the Pope, because his visit and mass at Yankee Stadium this weekend, will force New York to depart the Stadium after Thursday’s game for a 10-game road trip. 

The only break the schedule gives the Yankees in the upcoming days is a day off Monday.  I hope the Yankees use that to juggle their rotation and split up the trio of Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy.  If things go as planned the Yankees will pitch Wang, Mussina, Hughes, Kennedy and Pettitte before their break, meaning Wang will already get an extra day of rest if the Yankees lead off with him next Tuesday. That won’t leave them a lot of flexibility, but they could at least swap Pettitte and Kennedy next turn setting up a rotation of Wang, Mussina, Hughes, Pettitte and Kennedy each time around.

Other than that, the biggest concern is a lack of clutch hitting right now.  The bats appear to be moving out of mothballs, now they just need some big hits at the right time.   

This Will Be Interesting

Kennedy looked pretty good, but suffered from some bad luck.  Why that play by Damon that led to the second run wasn’t an error is a mystery.  Traber did a terrible job with Bruney even worse.

My question is, since Cano just gave the Yankees the lead back who is going to pitch the 8th for the Yankees tonight?  I don’t think Bruney is coming back. Hawkins and Ohlendorf are probably out.  So, could we see Farnsworth on back-to-back nights?<gulp> 

UPDATE(9:58) Bruney stays in the game! 

UPDATE(10:00pm) And now we get Rivera for four outs.   

What A Lineup

1-5 things look familiar: Damon, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Matsui

it’s 6-9 where things get a little crazy: Ensberg, Cabrera, Moeller, Gonzalez

Giambi needs a day off to rest, so Ensberg is subbing for him.  Girardi wants to sit Cano down a night, so Gonzalez is going to play second.  Moeller we know about and Cabrera is where he usually is.  

I like the idea of getting someone like Ensberg involved, though facing a righty this would be a perfect spot for Betemit.  Since he is on the DL, Ensberg it is.  Shelly Duncan isn’t eligible to come back until this weekend, though he won’t get called up until Moeller can be sent back down.  (BTW- Moeller got added to the 40-man by putting Sanchez on the 60-day DL)

The interesting thing will be Joba and when he comes back.  Obviously, they would probably send Albie back down, but I just wonder how long Girardi is going to go without a long guy.  (Unless he has decided that Ohlendorf is that guy which is fine by me.) If Girardi wants a long guy you would think Rasner or (cue the music) Igawa would get the call.  We shall see…

Moeller On His Way

Chad Moeller is going to join the team in Tampa, the only question is what roster moves are they going to make?  First, they need to get him on the 40-man, which I assume is going to be accomplished by putting Cervelli on the 60-day.  (they could probably do the same with Humberto Sanchez).  But, what spot does he take on the 25?  The Yankees could DL Molina, but I am not sure he needs to miss 15 days.  Sending Gonzalez down with Jeter just returning to the lineup seems foolish, so this is going to be a tough call.

The Yankees could gain some flexibility if they use the bereavement list with Joba Chamberlain.  By placing him on it, he would automatically miss the next three games.  But, consideriing the reports about his Dad, that might happen anyway.  Joba needs to be in Nebraska right now and the Yankees should make that easy for him by placing him on the bereavement list.  That’s what it is there for and that would let Joba do what he has to do.  And, as I mentioned last night, they might also want to call up a pitcher to help the bullpen no matter what they do.

UPDATE:(2:30)  According to George King the Yankees have put Joba on the bereavement list and recalled Albie from AAA.  In addition, Wilson Betemit is going on the DL with a severe case of pink eye.  The way Gonzalez has played so far, Betemit may not be seen in the Bronx again. 


Joe Isn’t Crazy

Well, I guess I am relieved to learn (as Mitchell pointed out in the comments) that Jose Molina was hurt last night and that is why Joe Girardi lifted him in the 8th.  In addition, Joba Chamberlain wasn’t with the team last night, having returned to Nebraska to be with his sick Dad. So, sorry Joe for questioning your sanity last night.

But, the Yankees have some major issues right now.  Posada can’t throw and that means Molina is probably headed to the DL.  I don’t have an ETA for Joba’s return and at some point this week A-Rod is probably going to leave the team to attend the birth of his child.  

Meanwhile, the bats are in a serious funk.  Let’s face it, the Yankees could have won that game last night if they had gotten some hitting.   

Big start for Kennedy tonight, this tem needs a lift. 

(And get well soon, Harlan) 


Did Girardi just pull his only healthy catcher for a pinch-runner in a 7-5 game and no outs in the 8th inning?  

Ok, Molina can’t run that’s for sure, but Betemit isn’t exactly a track star.  Plus, I assume this means Posada is going to catch the bottom of the 8th and therefore the Yankees will give up the DH.  All this for a run that doesn’t even tie the game?

Unless I am missing something this is an odd decision to say the least. 

UPDATE (11:43)- Unfortunately, i was right and the thing that makes this move even worse is Farnsworth is now pitching.  If you were going to go for it, then why isn’t Joba in there right now?

And Crisp just stole second without a throw.  

UPDATE (11:49) Crisp scored thanks to two flyball outs because he stole second.  This has not been a good weekend for Girardi and as much as I hated yesterday’s decision, this one just mystifies me.  Molina wasn’t even the tying run, why would you lift him for a pinch runner in the first place, but especially when YOUR OTHER CATCHER CAN’T THROW??

And, you now have an interesting possibility if the Yankees score two runs in the ninth and load the bases and make two outs, guess who is up?  Yup, Farnsworth and while the Yankees would obviously use Ensberg, you then have only Jeter remaining on the bench if the game keeps going from there.   

UPDATE: (12:07) Bedtime for me, but I hope someone asks Girardi about this.