A terrific pregame story today involved Yankees “honorary bat girl” Polly Tompkins. She is here as part of the MLB/Susan G. Komen for Cure effort to recognize baseball fans who are battling cancer.
Polly was very popular before the game. She’s a lifelong Yankees fan and met many players, including her crush, Jeter, after he took BP.
She leaned in toward the end of their chat and asked him for his phone number. (Love the spunk!) Jeter was smiling ear-to-ear and said, “I’ll get in trouble here. Maybe later.” (That means no, but he was very nice.)
During BP, Alex and Swisher went with Polly into the stands to greet the 100 or so friends and family members who made a four-hour bus trip from Candor, N.Y. That was absolutely incredible. We’ve never seen anything like it, two stars walking through the stands with the pink do-ragged Polly, going to greet her cheering contingent, most of whom were wearing pink T-shirts.
Reggie talked to Polly for a while, as did Damon and Mariano. (When Mariano walked toward her, Polly’s eyes got wide as baseballs. So cute.)
And just before the game, Polly was in the dugout, hanging with A.J. and Swisher. Which meant she was having a blast. She said she couldn’t believe “that I’m sitting here watching Nick Swisher stretch before a game!” Said A.J.: “All you need now is a pie in the face.”
Polly laughed, heartily. Then she threw out the ceremonial first pitch, caught by Swisher. Swisher’s grandmother died of brain cancer a few years ago. He’s always great in these spots. And Jason Zillo and Jason Latimer of the Yankees media relations department did a terrific job in making Polly’s day so special.
Polly Tompkins is a 38-year-old first-grade teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She thought she beat it. The cancer came back last month, and she learned it had advanced to Stage 4. She usually spends Wednesdays receiving chemotherapy. This was a much better Wednesday.
We wish Polly the absolute best and hope today strengthened her spirit. She promised to update us regularly on her condition. She may call anytime. And we’ll pass on any message to Jeter.
Oops! Didn’t mean to forget Joba! Turns out he also went into the stands to meet Polly’s people. He hugged her mom. He told me after the game it was an awesome experience, something he believes players SHOULD do. And he does plan to stay in touch with Polly. Nice work, Joba.
And very cool of Swisher to give Polly the lineup card after the game. She was so psyched on the field. Just a terrific, terrific night.
In response to a couple of comments, I’ve not been fined by the Kangaroo Court. I think I’m out of that jurisdiction.
Saw Posada in the dugout, but not to talk to. His take on Cervelli would be interesting. There’s something about that kid.
What else did you ask me? I can’t remember. Short game tonight! Woo-hoo!
It’s My9 again tomorrow, strangely, but we’ll try to check in.
Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms! Especially mine!
It is a glorious day in Baltimore. A postcard day. Except for the pollen, which is going to render some of us unable to breathe by the end of the day. After the last road trip, my car had a fresh coat of pollen on it; that’s how this misery starts.
It’s been a long stretch of games — yes, there was a rainout but everyone was still at the stadium — and tomorrow is a very welcome off day. Every single person in the clubhouse is looking forward to it. (No country music in the clubhouse today. In fact, there was no music at all while we were there.)
We did lots of Mother’s Day stuff for today’s pregame shows. Maybe you saw the Ransom feature on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.” That was a terrific job by producer Jared Boshnack and his gang, chiefly production assistant Blayke Sheer. Thank you.
Last year, an Oriole who shall remain nameless said he would WALK around the bases if he hit a home run against Joba. Today in the Orioles clubhouse, a few players wanted to know why Joba pumped his fist Tuesday against the Red Sox when his team was losing. (As if we know.) And so, Aubrey Huff hits a home run and makes sure to pump his fist as he rounds first and as he crosses home. Hmmm.
Burnett-Halladay should be a great matchup Tuesday night on My9, and A.J. is excited about it. (Every season My9 lucks into a great game or two that we’d pay to see.) A.J. was going to text Halladay, for whom he has great respect, but decided he’ll wait to talk to him after the game. He says Halladay never worries about who he’s facing — why would he? — so he might not even know that the two will face each other, for the first time.
Surely, Blue Jays fans are excited to welcome back A.J. And Alex.
Had a full breakfast in the Orioles press dining room: Bagel, eggs, bacon, yogurt. Kay had two burgers — they even make burgers before noon, apparently — and bacon, with a side of fruit. Kay isn’t going to Toronto, so we’ll make due with food updates from Leiter.
More later or tomorrow or Tuesday. Will spend time tomorrow compiling your questions for O’Neill.
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.
A final post from Motown.
Congrats to Girardi for win No.100 as Yankees manager. Loved how he said he wished he could have gotten it in one season.
Swisher was off the chain in postgame. Taking a page from Damon, he did the interview shirtless. And was a riot. He says he plays the game like a glorified game of whiffle ball. Maybe that’s why he always seems to be having a great time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you have a killer on-base percentage and a couple of jacks from either side of the plate.
Joba and Hughes could be very, very good for each other in this rotation. Joba identifies so well with the veteran pitchers, but it just seems like he and Hughes could be a great tandem — and could push each other at times — for years and years to come.
This is a first: I am blogging from the team charter.
So is this: Phil Coke just walked by and said, “I haven’t had a fire drill since high school.” Everyone is very happy. (Coke gave permission to blog that.)
And this: After saying he would contribute to this little endeavor of ours, Bruney has asked to chime in. Here is what he wrote:
“A promise is a promise, so here I am following through on that promise. My recovery is going well. I hope to play catch on Friday and should be back pitching within a week and a half if all goes as planned. I hope everyone enjoys the blog, I know Kim works hard at it. I will keep in touch!” (That rocks! And, yes, Bruney himself typed those words.)
And, finally, this: Our live chat, 6:45 p.m. tomorrow! Talk to you then!
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 ðŸ™‚
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.
Swisher had three Red Bulls and three RBI.
Teixeira had balloons — white, black and silver — hanging above his locker and was given a birthday cake by his teammates. A.J. might have been the organizer, not sure about that. Sources say the cake read: “Happy Birthday, Mark. From the Baltimore Orioles.” Nice touch.
Teixeira thinks he’ll play tomorrow but said his left wrist is sore. Joba-Meche should be a good one. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ransom gets a day off, but Girardi wouldn’t give away the lineup tonight. Both teams are holding optional batting practice; the weather, unfortunately, could be an issue.
Finally, folks, this could be a big night for the blog: Bruney not only asked about this little endeavor of ours, he promised to comment! Coolio! One of his teammates told Bruney he couldn’t use curse words. Bruney then said he didn’t know if that was possible. We shall see.
Had to haul tail to make the bus tonight, by the way. CC and his wife were a football field ahead of me as the bus came into view, and I KNEW they wouldn’t leave without them. I made it!
So I told Kevin Sullivan, our persistent internet guru, that I will become a blogger when Penn State wins a national championship in basketball.
The Nittany Lions won the NIT on Thursday night — Joe Paterno, Franco Harris and 35 busloads of students turned the Garden into a PSU party — so let the blogging begin!
All right, how exactly do you DO this?
Peter Abraham of the Journal News is the king of this stuff; his lohud.com blog is a completely natural and entertaining extension of his reporting/writing/opining. Neil Best of Newsday is obsessed with the millions of page views Watchdog receives. And Bob Lorenz is funny like he’s always funny.
Where does that leave us? Feeling like a fat guy in a little coat. Or a tad uncomfortable. We’ll get over it.
Thank God it’s baseball season
Which also makes this the perfect time to launch a blog. Really, just perfect. Phil Hughes suggested I take over his blog instead of starting my own. I think he’s lost some enthusiasm for blogging. I also think he’s still 22 years old and probably has a lot of other things to do.
Oh, yeah, the new Stadium
Were you there? We did the whole shebang, pregame, game and postgame Friday night. It felt oddly like the last night at the old Yankee Stadium. But different. If that makes sense.
It seemed fitting that Derek Jeter got the first Yankees’ hit. Perhaps it’s telling that Robinson Cano cracked the first home run. Arguably, it’s an omen that the Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom homers each hit a foul pole. At the least, it was definitely illustrative that Nick Swisher inserted himself into a Johnny Damon postgame interview. And it was revealing that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett knew they wouldn’t throw a pitch but stuck around until the last rainy out.
The clubhouse is oval-shaped. The starting rotation is together – Joba likes hanging with the veterans. I found it kind of interesting that best buddies Cano and Melky Cabrera are across the room from each other; I’ll have to ask Robbie about that. Jonathan Albaladejo and Swisher are on either side of the main entrance; Swisher is louder. Jeter and Jorge Posada are at the opposite end of the room, on either side of a hallway that presumably leads to the training room, shower area, coaches’ rooms and other as-yet-unknown destinations. The clubhouse is spacious, has impressive amenities (mounted laptop computers, electrical outlets and shelves for personal items/photos at each locker) and is very clean. AAA would give it five stars.
Just heard on TV
A nitwit who shall go unnamed saying Tom Coughlin has to “win over” the locker room after the Giants’ release of Plaxico Burress. Same guy then says something about Jerry Reese having to prove himself as a GM who can replace the wide receiver.
Ugh. That clichéd nonsense gave us a headache, which means it’s time to end this blog. Not the whole blog. Just, you know, say good-bye. For now.
How DO you end blog posts, anyway?