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.
Not the greatest day ever. Or the greatest start to a game.
It’s impossible to know how Joba felt yesterday knowing his estranged mother was arrested in Nebraska for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.
And imagine how he felt today, seeing it as front-page news. His mother’s unfortunate — yes, Joba is a public figure. And the First Amendment is a fabric of our being and must be defended in nearly every case, even to the dismay of the Yankees manager. So, maybe this is a misguided mini-rant.
But somehow this seemed dirty, and so unnecessary. And we can’t help but feel bad for Joba.
Joba overcame a lot to get where he is. He’s going to have to keep overcoming. But, given his ugly first inning, and this 4-0 start by the Red Sox, you have to wonder if he didn’t take some family baggage to the mound with him tonight.
Give us a second to get off the soapbox.
And to provide a brief food update: Tried tofu for the first time today in the press dining room and liked it. Not as much as the macadamia nut cookies, unfortunately. Kay is back on Atkins, so his burger consumption is increasing. If that’s possible.
Okay, so the news on Posada could’ve been worse, but definitely could have been better. A Grade 2 strain of the right hamstring will keep him out 2-3 weeks, which is the optimistic timeline. A pessimistic timeline isn’t even worth getting into at the moment.
Posada will be missed, which is like saying water is wet. (I have to thank Kevin Brown for the little verbal nugget. Once, when we were in Anaheim and he was just dreadful, I asked him the genius question of whether he was hoping for a better start. He stared, made a sound like a tired cow and said, “That’s like saying water is wet.” I still laugh every single time I think of that. But we digress.)
If nothing else, 2008 proved Posada’s value to be invaluable. Posada is clearly disappointed and frustrated but is buoyed by the idea that he could be back in 15 days.
So, Alex is returning soon. Must confess: We got a kick out of hearing he fielded a ball to his left, did a pirouette and threw out the runner at first today in Tampa. You KNOW Alex has been dying to do a pirouette!
Anyway, we’ll probably see Alex on Friday or perhaps Saturday. Girardi said any day before May 15 would be okay. They need him even more now, and Alex surely realizes that.
The Yankees have closed to 4-3. Damon always seems to hit those kinds of home runs. Joba’s got to like that.
Get ready to chat!
The only thing any of us really need to know: The first live chat is less than 24 hours away! We’ll get it started at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow and hope you can be there. Internet guru Kevin Sullivan will walk us through the first one. Thank goodness. Feel free to watch our pregame show and participate in the chat simultaneously 🙂
It’s so cold here. Fifty degrees feels like 40.
Interesting that Girardi didn’t rule out two possibilities during pregame: That Alex could return during the upcoming homestand and that Joba could — could — return to the bullpen at some point this season. Girardi could have said “no” to either question. He did not. Hmmm. You have to think Hughes will play an instrumental role in the latter.
I asked Jim Leyland to estimate the impact of putting Alex into this Yankees lineup. “Tremendous,” he said.
Speaking of Hughes: He is (still) just 22 and appears to have bounced back beautifully from a disappointing 2008. Between 3:30-6:30 p.m., he did some running, chatted easily with reporters, signed autographs, interacted with fans and smiled. Smiled a lot. I always feel good for players who face adversity, don’t sulk, pick themselves up and have great attitudes. Put Cano in that category, too.
Guess the Posada hamstring really was of “no concern.” He’s behind the plate.
Melky’s in center again. Girardi essentially said he has no regular center fielder at this point. He prefers to think of it as four guys to play three outfield positions. When Damon or Swisher needs a day, Melky and Gardner both will be out there. Girardi has had a conversation with Gardner, telling him to maintain his confidence and stay ready.
Gardner seemed to enjoy a pre-batting practice card game with Bruney and a couple of others.
The Tigers have had decent attendance so far, which is great to see in this economy, particularly in Detroit. It was strange, even disconcerting, Monday to read dueling headlines in the Detroit Free Press: More layoffs by the car manufacturers while the Lions give Matthew Stafford $41 million in guaranteed money. Stafford faces an incredible task — and that doesn’t include just quarterbacking the woeful Lions. He’ll have to show he identifies with the community here.
Credit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch with a fantastic gesture, having installed the logos of Chrysler, General Motors and Ford above the Comerica Park scoreboard. “The Detroit Tigers support our automakers,” reads the sign below. Ilitch is providing the advertising for free, despite offers from other sponsors to pay up to $2 million for that prime real estate. That’s a tremendous move by the owner of the Tigers. Maybe Ilitch should counsel Stafford.
This is kinda embarrassing, but I’ll share: So, Damon introduces me to a guy named Chris in the clubhouse around 4 o’clock or so. We said hello. He looked slightly familiar, but I didn’t really think twice, other than to make a mental note that it was somewhat unusual for a player to have a random guest in the clubhouse before a game. Then Cone tells me it’s Chris Chelios of the Red Wings. Oops! Bad, bad job by me. It’s a good thing — make that great thing — YES doesn’t do hockey.
Mark it down: April 30 – the day of our first live chat! We’re not sure of the time yet but will let you know. It makes sense to do the first chat at home, where I can navigate the computer logistics under the watchful eye of Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan. This will be historic!
Four games is probably too early to come to conclusions about how Yankee Stadium is going to play. And it’s not like 20 home runs in four games never happened at the old Stadium. But I do know Mark DeRosa told Mark Teixeira, “You’re going to WALK into 40 home runs here.” The two were teammates in Texas.
For those of you who got even a tiny little bit worked up when I mentioned wanting to interview Alex Rodriguez, don’t worry. Those are very long odds. As in, will not happen. (A couple of commenters take things very, very seriously. Wow.)
Welcome to the newbies who are taking a look thanks to Pete Abraham’s recommendation! Enjoy the game tonight on My9. Might blog more later, might not. But I’ll see you tomorrow from the Stadium.
Hello from the Trop. Good thing we’re under cover. It rained hard all day.
Tonight’s game is on My9, which usually means I don’t work. Today I’m at the Trop to finish up some interviews for a Jackie Robinson feature tomorrow — should be a good one; the pressure is on producer Jared Boshnack 🙂 — and to watch at least the beginning of what should be a great pitching matchup.
Just got back to the booth from the field. Flaherty bought dinner and made the independent decision to get me a grilled chicken sandwich. Nice move. He’s having the same thing. Kay and Cone are eating chicken tenders and fries.
Dave Eiland talked about Wang, saying he’s seen the same struggles and arm angle issues before — during the ’07 playoffs and during a brief period last year, before Wang got hurt.
Eiland said Wang looked strong in the bullpen, as late as 6:45 p.m. Monday. But, the stuff obviously didn’t translate into the game.
“He’s the one who has to do it,” Eiland said. “The player always has to do it.”
Eiland and Girardi met with Wang behind closed doors, probably talking about those things and also making sure Wang remains confident.
“It’s there; I’ve seen it,” Eiland said of Wang’s good stuff. “He just has to take it into a game. He’s going to get it. He’s going to get it because it’s there.”
All of that being said, the Yankees believed last night was a big start for Wang because they didn’t want his awful debut to carry over. That makes Wang’s next start really big, for his mechanics as well as his confidence.
Talked with Alex Rodriguez, who is at the game again tonight. He said he awoke with usual workout soreness but nothing that would be of any concern. He said Dr. Philipon was delighted to hear that. The rain changed Alex’s workout a bit, but not much, and he remains encouraged and upbeat. (His interest in the blog was minimal, though he did ask the name of it. He suggested I sign up Swisher for some sort of a role. Not an awful idea. Everyone wants a piece of Swisher these days.)
Hung out with Mariano for a while as the Rays took BP. Evan Longoria walked along the third base line and tipped his cap. Nice. Mariano appreciated that. It was funny to watch the Rays, especially Longoria, keep an eye on Mariano. He’s baseball royalty. Once Don Zimmer started motioning and yelling over, I knew I was done. Sure enough, Mariano went over to Zim, saying he loves him and had to say hello.
Gabe Kapler had an awesome response to being struck out by Swisher: He now has an answer when people ask him his most embarrassing moment. Also said he had no problem with Swisher’s wanting to keep the ball.
Joe Maddon marveled at that catch Upton made. (Who didn’t?) He said it was as technically perfect as it could have been. Maddon and Molina shared a nice moment during BP. There is much respect between the two, from their days with the Angels.
A long trip is a step closer to coming home. Kay says he’s already packed. Already a better start for the Yanks with Gardner getting a bloop hit.
The Trop is unbelievably loud tonight. More cowbells than the state of Iowa.
Pregame was interesting. Clearly Wang needs to do what he didn’t in his first start – keep the ball down. He’s been getting encouragement from A.J., who yesterday sent Wang an email in Chinese that read, “preparation for domination.”
A.J. uses a translation feature on his phone. He said Wang is teaching him Chinese, little by little. A.J. has been a really, really good teammate in his short time as a Yankee.
Alex arrived in the clubhouse at about 4 p.m. He looks happy, relaxed and thinner. He said he weighs the same, when I asked him. He also said being in Colorado has allowed him to take a “20-second timeout” from the circus that had been swirling around him. You could argue it was more like a full timeout.
Joe Maddon is one of the smartest, nicest men I’ve met in sports. He had a full offseason, following up the World Series by getting married and visiting the Bush White House in early January for one of those “baseball couples” dinners. He said it was awesome. (The marriage AND the White House.) Asked him about Longoria’s hot start and he said, “A sophomore jinx is the result of failure to make adjustments. He’s making adjustments.”
I like that kind of stuff.
Upton and Crawford will test Posada when they have the chance. They Rays have always believed they could run on Wang. And they think Kazmir, coming off a great spring, is already locked in.
Awesome day so far, sunshine, clear skies, fun atmosphere for the game.
Oh, that reminds me: It was my turn to buy dinner, and I took it. For a mere $46, Kay got chicken fingers, Flaherty and I had grilled chicken sandwiches, and Cone had a burger. Four orders of fries, thank you. And I channeled my background as a waitress to carry it all back to the booth at the same time.
Sadly, there won’t be blogging during the game. Logistically, it’s not practical tonight. We’ll catch up soon.