1. It feels particularly humid and sticky (my hair really doesn’t like that) but if we can avoid rain tonight, the grounds crew – and the YES crew – will do a no-rain dance. Or jig. Or some kind of celebration. They players and coaches might even join in. It’s been a rough homestand for everyone. The grounds crew has had the tarp on and off the field 20 times in the past week. And when there’s rain on the tarp, it’s very heavy. Those guys work their tails off.
2. Alex Rodriguez should be grateful to Selena Roberts and Manny Ramirez. Roberts’ book has done, in some camps, what Alex himself never could: Turned him into a sympathetic figure. And Manny’s logic-defying explanation of the performance-enhancing reason for his suspension makes Alex seem completely forthright by comparison.
3. Alex’s return comes at a pivotal point of this Yankees season and of his own career. The team desperately needs him to make a difference. And how he responds over these next few months will help to define the next chapter of his career.
4. It’s funny how not one player we found – not one of a dozen or so – voiced surprise or shock as his initial reaction to Manny’s situation. That’s telling.
5. In answer to comments from you, Jeter responds. Jeter’s favorite on American Idol was Allison. “My girl got eliminated last night!” he said. As for where Jeter goes from here with the show, he said, “I’m an emotional wreck!” Then he laughed.
5. Milking this conversation with Jeter for all it’s worth. Some of you are very perceptive, wondering why he isn’t chewing gum anymore. “I’m just not,” Jeter said. “I’m in gum rehab.” See, told you he is funny.
6. The Yankees really need a win. Really. (Hey, you don’t get this kind of analysis everywhere.) But it seems like more than four consecutive losses. And the Yankees have never lost five in a row under Girardi.
7. Back-to-back topics on ESPN this afternoon were Manny and 50-game ban and Favre and his flirtation with the Vikings. We wonder which story induces more fan fatigue. Probably anything steroid related. Probably.
8. Last night’s game – after the Teixeira double — is usually one the Yankees win. Teixeira made a decent point, saying the rain delay that immediately followed took away any momentum. It’s also true that the Rays had a chance to regroup and did. In their former life, as the Devil Rays, the Rays would’ve spent the rain delay dwelling on a way to cough up that game. No more.
9. There is some sentiment – perhaps most vociferously from Francesa on the Fan on YES – that Mariano should have pitched the 10th after he threw 18 pitches in the ninth. Those people have some company – some – in the Yankees clubhouse. Mariano might not love two-inning outings at this point, but he’s been used rather sparingly lately. Over the past 12 days, he’s pitched 2 1/3 innings and thrown 39 pitches.
10. How much do the Yankees miss Bruney? Bruney didn’t even want to go on the DL, and now he could miss a month (15-day DL, April 25). Bruney said he initially felt the pull in his elbow in spring training. Marte said his shoulder hurt in the spring. Ransom said his quad was initially injured in the spring. Maybe it’s their competitiveness – or maybe no one wants to be perceived as a Pavano — but it would benefit these players in the long run to be more open and honest with the training staff.
11. Anyone else notice that Pavano and Ponson got wins last night? What are those odds?
12. Thanks to a Turkey Hill promotion, there’s plenty of ice cream in the booth tonight. The guys are eating it. (Kay apparently believes ice cream is part of Atkins.) We’re passing. Let’s face it, the food updates are more fun when O’Neill works.