In a few short hours, there will be universal happiness on the Yankees charter flight when we take off, leaving behind our five days in Cleveland.
Bruney takes Tiger: Brian Bruney and Brett Gardner resumed their Tiger Woods video game battles last year, with Bruney winning. So Bruney has custody of the Tiger figurine until the next road trip; they play only on the road. Bruney already repainted Tiger, with a red shirt, cap and shoes and silver pants. Gardner had angered Bruney on Sunday morning by painting Tiger in head-to-toe green.
“Yeah, he was upset,” an unrepentant Gardner said. “I knew he would be. That’s why I did it.”
In Cornhole bean-bag game news, Brett Tomko went undefeated in five sweat-producing games against A.J. over the past two days. But today, Tomko split two games with Phil Coke, who said he had “no idea what I’m doing” before throwing his first bean bag.
Dining news: The Hal Lebovitz Press Dining Room stepped up today, easily the best meal of the series: grilled chicken, rice, veggies, chicken noodle soup. Worth the $10.
As a follow-up to those of you who looked too deeply for a salacious meaning in our report yesterday that “we ate room-service oatmeal at the hotel for breakfast…” — we can assure you, “we” is “I.” We just prefer the royal “we.” We really loathe the overuse of “I,” especially in print. It’s just tedious.
By the way, Flaherty treated tonight, buying Kay some chicken fingers and fries and himself a burger and fries. The cost: $19.50 for everything. Not bad.
Suffering a setback: With the news that Jose Molina “felt something” in his strained quad while running to first base in Tampa, the Yankees will “back off and be smart” with Molina, according to Brian Cashman. Cashman doesn’t believe Molina re-tore anything, but he probably will have another MRI to make sure. Cashman agrees that the Yankees are very lucky Francisco Cervelli has been beyond capable as replacement. Instead of possibly seeing Molina this week, it’ll be awhile.
Meanwhile, Xavier Nady plans to throw tomorrow after feeling some soreness in his elbow while throwing for the first time today. While Joe Girardi termed this a setback, Cashman was more optimistic, saying they expected Nady to “feel something,” just as he did when he first swung a bat. Cashman suggested this was normal and that Nady will proceed as expected. Obviously, they’ll know more tomorrow.
Bye-bye Big Buck: The Yankees will miss at least one thing from Cleveland – the Big Buck Hunter Pro game that many of them played over the past four days. They’ll probably get over it.
Funny guy, that Pavano: Bruney, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter were among the former teammates who greeted Carl Pavano as he left the Indians clubhouse yesterday, congratulating him on a fine outing. Said a smiling Pavano today: “I’m a 90-pitch pitcher now.” He should not have come out of that game.
See ya Friday: We are taking our first series off over the next three days and have lots to do. (The bosses insist we take time off. We’re slightly paranoid about their insistence, but we mostly take it in stride.) We’ll try to check in a few times between now and the start of the Rays’ series Friday. On Friday, we’ll track down Tino Martinez and ask him your questions. In the meantime, Gordon Damer (the Fantasy Gamer) will fill in Cervelli-style — more than capably! Have a great week!
One of the most common questions people ask is, What is your favorite road city?
After yesterday, an off day spent in captivity, we can safely say this in response: It’s not Cleveland.
As you would suspect, the players and coaches had a blast at the Magic-Cavs game. Team bonding is big, CC says, and he did his part, purchasing two suites for the night and handing out tickets to all of his buddies. Apparently, Ben Roethlisberger was the only celeb to receive more boos than Alex on the Jumbotron. (Or whatever they call those gigantic arena screens these days.) CC got a mixed response. (“I knew I’d hear some boos,” he said.) Brady Quinn was cheered, as was Jhonny Peralta. Eric Mangini couldn’t be captured by cameras; he was at the concession stand.
And Carl Pavano got a big ovation! Cleveland loves Carl!
More Joba: There is plenty of room for healthy debate when it comes to Joba’s best role on this team. Because this is a win-now group, because Joba has been electric as a reliever and because the Yankees need late-inning help, we believe he should be the bullpen. But there is a viable argument that it is better for Joba’s development — and for the Yankees — for him to remain in the rotation.
What we cannot stand is this: The idea that one side of the argument is wholly without merit. (And, therefore, dumb, stupid or idiotic.) That’s just not true. Men who know a heck of a lot more about baseball than we do — and some who reside in the Yankees clubhouse — fall on opposite sides of that discussion. And we don’t consider any of those guys “dumb,” “stupid” or “idiotic” — especially when it comes to baseball.
It’s actually a fun debate, one with clear sides, which we should have some day with, say, Peter Abraham, who is a staunch Joba-as-starter guy. In the meantime, we continue to remember Ozzie Guillen, who tends to call it like he sees it, saying last summer he’d much rather see Joba once every five days than every day of a series.
Dining room dish: The highlight of the $10-per press dining room in Cleveland is the ice cream, specifically the Moose Tracks variety. Flaherty had some, as did we. Kay had two burgers: “The worst burgers I’ve ever had,” he says. “No bun.”
“Joe Girardi Show” producer Jared Boshnack, who is here on assignment, orchestrated a trip to the main concourse, where we purchased a chicken sandwich and he opted for bratwurst. ($14 and that included an order of fries.) We both had lemonade. It almost seemed like summer. This was during the rain delay.
Jorge’s back: Posada returned and Cash was optioned. Many media reports indicated that Cash was out of options and would have to be designated for assignment. Girardi and Cashman — who would know — said that is untrue, so Cash was, indeed, sent down to Triple-A. Cervelli remains. That’s not a surprise, given the way Cervelli has impressed the pitchers and coaches as a quick study and great communicator — and very capable backstop — behind the plate.
Three more nights in Cleveland. We always judge road trips by the number of nights. Three more is a lot. We’ll probably pack tomorrow night, just for mental-health purposes. Let’s catch up again soon.
Today feels normal, like a regular game on a beautiful day. What better way to spend Friday?
Lorenz (AKA Ron Burgundy) was feisty this morning during our little pregame conference call. Let’s just say he’s been reading. “You write pretty well — for a chick,” he said.
So is O’Neill, eating ice cream, directly from the pint. Chocolate and vanilla. I’ve never seen that before. He said he doesn’t do it often. Big surprise.
Will he finish the pint?
Oh, just asking. (Sadly, I’ve finished many pints, mostly Ben & Jerry’s “lowfat” yogurt. It probably has twice the calories.)
So far, our guys appear to eat in the press dining room. There’s a buffet of dogs, burgers, chicken, cold cuts, salad stuff, desserts. Someone commented that we eat a lot of the same food. True. It’s mostly ballpark-type stuff. The last day in Tampa, I just couldn’t do it.
I was talking to Dave Robertson, who is a really nice guy, around 10 a.m. when he was told that Dave Eiland wanted to see him. Robertson kind of figured he’d be sent down when Juan Miranda was called up, but he was hoping not. We’ll see him again.
No matter what, I’ll never, ever forget Robertson. (Keep reading…) He and I were walking out of the Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington to the bus last August 7 when I hit a divot in the cement, and my left ankle caught and twisted like a Coke cap, resulting in the worst sprained ankle in history. Oh, the pain! (Sorry, Benigno.) Robertson asked if I was okay; I lied. We flew to Anaheim that night; I could barely walk. The entire nightmare in short form (kind of): couldn’t work out but tried to, self-pity led to considerable M&M consumption, gained six pounds in the final two months of the season, eventually went to physical therapy, finally ran again in five months. Five months!
Robertson and I never discuss August 7. But I always think of it when I see him.
Mariano Rivera vowed to talk to Jose Veras and Damaso Marte. He’s a great leader in the bullpen and players listen when he talks. As he often does, Rivera will make some constructive points and then it’ll be up to Veras and Marte to implement his suggestions.
Funny pregame moment in the Cleveland dugout: Carl Pavano spoke to the media in advance of his start Sunday. Yes, he noticed the harsh reception from the crowd yesterday. Brian Cashman went over and shook Pavano’s hand and said hello. “Were you one of the ones who was booing?” Pavano asked.
Not a bad line. Cashman laughed.
The clubhouse was quiet this morning. A lot of players seem to like the routine of weekday evening games better, and these first two weeks have included a lot of different starting times. But a Friday night off isn’t a bad deal. And tomorrow, our friends at FOX take over so the YES crew has the day off. That’s a great deal.