So we’re sitting here in the booth, Kay’s eating a heaping portion of peanut butter and I’m thinking about blogging. Thinking about it. And then, out of nowhere – perhaps his memory was jogged when Kenny mentioned that Teixeira attended high school in Baltimore — one of our local freelancers in the booth tells a story.
He’d like me to refer to him as “Pablo.”
When he was a young man in the 60’s, Pablo attended a public all-boys school in Baltimore. When gym class incorporated swimming, the boys were required to swim sans suits. There was concern about wet suits getting moldy in the lockers. Or something.
Anyway, Pablo said 140 “naked guys” would swim together. At the end of class, they’d form two teams and play a game like water polo in the shallow end of the pool. With a volleyball. A few gym teachers supervised, but there were no rules. None.
Wow. Can you possibly imagine this happening today?
Thank you, Pablo, for participating. Now back to Yankees-Orioles.
Nick Swisher: He’d like you to wear jeans and donate $5 to Women’s Cancer Programs to fight breast cancer. He’s signed on as an Entertainment Industry Foundation Ambassador for Lee National Denim Day on Oct. 2. Swisher lost his grandmother to cancer in 2005 and continues to honor her memory with campaigns such as this one. We’ll have more info for you as National Denim Day approaches.
Labor Day: For the Monday doubleheader against the Rays, Yankee Stadium gates will open at 10 a.m. for the 1:05 scheduled game and 5 p.m. for the second game at 7:05 p.m. The second game is rescheduled from June 5, when it rained. Tickets for the postponed June 5 game will be valid only for the 7:05 game, not the 1 p.m. game.
CC and A.J. are starting that day. Girardi hasn’t announced if they’ll go in alphabetical order or if CC will start the opener. A.J. will be on an extra day.
Sergio Mitre: His forearm is feeling better and he’ll start Sunday in the finale in Toronto. It’s Gaudin, Joba and Pettitte in the first three games there. Joba is opposed by Halladay, who hasn’t been himself since all that trade talk.
This Week in Football: A new season premieres Friday night – only on YES! More details to come tomorrow. Oh, in the comments, one of you mentioned the TWIF promos. (Yes, I swear I read the comments and apologize for not answering more questions.) So I checked. I’m told our new promos, which we shot Aug. 25, haven’t aired yet. I’m sure they’ll surface soon, and hopefully you like them.
Nick Markakis: Amazingly, only two major-leaguers have played in each of his team’s game this season. The Orioles RF is one of them. The other? Prince Fielder. Prince Fielder! Why do I get a kick out of that note? Thanks, Elias Sports Bureau.
The White Sox: So they finally beat the Twins at the Metrodome, coming from behind against Joe Nathan for a 4-2 win this afternoon. The White Sox went 2-7 at the Metrodome this year and were 3-16 since the summer of 2007, leading Ozzie Guillen to refer to the Dome as a funeral home. The Twins will open their outdoor ballpark – Target Field – next season.
“How crazy this thing is,” Guillen said. “We figure out how to win in this place, and now we can’t come back here no more.”
After the game, Paul Konerko walked into the visiting clubhouse and yelled, “We own this place!”
From afar, the White Sox seem baseball’s traveling carnival.
Chat room: We’ll do another chat soon — the first in a while — with Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan there to head off any technical difficulties. I’ll let you know the date as soon as I do.
The players reported at 11:30 today. A.J. was there long before then, doing some housekeeping around his locker. Among his objectives: To dispose of the cleats he wore Thursday.
“They’re the last things to go that I wore during that start,” he said.
We didn’t ask for specifics. What about the glove, wondered Dave Eiland.
“The glove stays,” A.J. said. “It’s not the glove’s fault.”
A.J.’s a veteran, a pro, a pie-thrower. He takes losses hard. Especially, it seems, losses that come down to one pitch on a day when he had nasty stuff from the moment he left the bullpen.
He pitches again Tuesday in Baltimore. A.J.’s lost his last three starts. His combined numbers: 19 innings pitched, 17 hits, 15 earned runs, seven walks, 23 strikeouts. He knows he has to do better than that; he is (much) better than that. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s a safe assumption that he would prefer to throw more than 105 pitches next time out.
Phil Hughes: He might spend more time in the clubhouse while the media are present than any other player. He looked on with amusement as A.J. tidied his locker. Hughes is one content guy these days. We spoke with Mike Harkey for tomorrow’s Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” and he marvels at the way Hughes has adjusted to the bullpen. And Harkey believes Hughes’ easygoing demeanor has played a large role in his splendid transition.
Michael Kay: He’s gone hog wild back into Atkins. His culinary choices today included bacon, a burger, caffeine-free diet soda and decaffeinated hot tea. That’s a rough go, if you ask us. Leiter had the commuter breakfast — muffin and coffee; he wasn’t hungry. And you just can’t beat the oatmeal in the Yankee Stadium press dining room. With brown sugar. Oh, a pizza just arrived in the booth. Leiter is partaking. Kay is eating only the cheese.
Jim Thome: He was today’s Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.” What a nice guy. He’s putting his 10 nieces and nephews through college. He and Reggie have a great relationship; he surpassed Reggie on the all-time home run list Aug. 15. At 564 homers, he said he can’t help but think about 600 sometimes. And he said when you play for Ozzie, you know you’re going to have fun. As for the toughest pitcher he ever faced, Thome laughed and said, “CC last night!”
This is a series the Yankees want to win and the Rays have to win. As for tonight’s pitching matchup, this says a lot: A.J. hasn’t lost since June 20; James Shields hasn’t won since June 20.
Shields was the Rays opening day starter. He’s 6-6 with nine no-decisions. He closed the first half with one win in his last six starts.
A.J. has been, in a word, dominant. Since that disaster in Boston on June 9, he’s gone 5-1 in seven starts and allowed a total of 10 earned runs.
We’re not always into numbers telling the whole story, but the performance of these two has gone a long way in the respective seasons of their teams.
A.J. also has made a habit out of getting out of self-induced jams, whether it’s a couple of walks or what he just did in the first inning – after his throwing error allowed Crawford to go from first to third with one out, he struck out Longoria and got Zobrist to fly out. (Even if Swisher made it a bit of an adventure.)
Hideki Matsui: Wonder what they’d call that slide in Japan. It was almost a belly flop in reverse. Like a butt flop. At the very least, it’s something his teammates will make fun of. Of course, they’ll also appreciate that he busted it from first to score on the Posada double.
The Rays: According to Elias, Tampa Bay’s .524 combined winning percentage of the teams remaining on its schedule is second-highest, behind the Jays. It’s going to be almost impossible for the Rays to duplicate last season’s magic. They do have 36 of their remaining 63 games at home, including tonight’s.
Michael Kay: He went with chicken fingers and fries from the concession stand for dinner. Kenny ate in the dining room. We had some fries, added onto Kay’s order. Somehow there are peaches, bananas and cherries in the booth, which is much healthier than the usual fare. Where are the Snickers?
CC and CC: We’ll be there Wednesday for “Catching up with Carl Crawford,” when Sabathia joins him for an event to encourage more African-American youth to play baseball. Both CCs are excited about it. We’ll have coverage on the BP and pregame shows.
Update (9:42 p.m.): Another thing about A.J.-Shields: A.J. entered the game with a 3.74 ERA. Shields’ was 3.70. Shields, for whom run support obviously has been an issue, lost two games in April despite giving up three or fewer runs. But more recently, Shields hasn’t been as stingy. In his last four starts, including tonight, Shields has given up 17 runs. A.J. has given up 16 earned runs in his last 11 starts.
It really does come down to pitching (and defense), doesn’t it? The Yankees are getting big pitching performances and the Rays aren’t. That’s the difference between these teams.
Here’s the danger of a Saturday day game on a glorious afternoon: Our announcers — Kay, Leiter and O’Neill — sit and chat between innings about their evening plans and dinner reservations. (Just to clarify, O’Neill isn’t going to Chili’s tonight. In case you wondered.) And then the game flirts with four hours and everyone’s mood is deflated.
Talk about a jinx.
Polly Tompkins: We have a feature on Polly — the Yankees honorary bat girl in May as part of MLB’s campaign to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer — that will air during tomorrow’s pregame. It’s a good one. Swisher already asked for a copy on DVD.
Andy Pettitte: Where were you on June 7, 1995? Andy got his first career win that day, against the A’s. So far, he looks like he’s turning back the clock today. Especially with a couple of nifty defensive plays of his own.
Michael Kay: He just said something else about a fast game. Leiter yelled at him.
The Yankees HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) comes to an end tonight, and it’s been quite a week. Last night in particular, after the nearly three-hour rain delay, many players stayed into the wee hours with the kids and young adults from Camp Sundown. And they had a blast, with several saying they stayed much later than they’d intended because they were having so much fun.
One blessing of the long rain delay: the Camp Sundown folks were scheduled to arrive in the second or third inning. Because of the delay, they were able to see the entire game.
Aceves and AJ made music, playing acoustic guitar and singing and, sources say, Cashman joined in the vocals. The on-field carnival was a tremendous success. As the entire week has been.
Mark Teixeira: He’s tied for the AL lead in home runs after launching a(nother) rocket to the second deck in right field last night, on a 3-0 pitch. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that pitchers had gone 3-0 on Teixeira in 16 previous plate appearances this season. He’d walked each time, five intentionally. In other words, no other pitcher dared as Vin Mazzaro did, serving up a pitch over the middle of the plate.
Chien-Ming Wang: He might pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday as he continues to seek the best course of treatment for his right shoulder strain. Wang calls the past year “very frustrating” and fears he won’t pitch again this season. Girardi says the Yankees have to proceed as if Wang won’t be back this season.
Paul O’Neill: He’s joining Kay and Leiter for the balance of the A’s series. He is lucky to have missed last night’s game; O’Neill and two-hour, 43-minute rain delays don’t mix. “That wouldn’t have been real good,” O’Neill said. During the break every half inning, Kay and Leiter sit and sometimes talk, laugh or make fun of each other. O’Neill walks around. He just came back with a hot tea and cookie from the dining room.
You know, this Home Run Derby reminds us of the compelling performance by Josh Hamilton last year at Yankee Stadium. A powerful story. An intriguing personality. And a heck of a show. This one doesn’t exactly have the same feel to it, does it?
Isn’t there a way to speed up the derby? Just a little bit. After all, since the derby started, Jillian the Bachelorette has managed to bed all three of her remaining suitors and eliminate one of them.
Meanwhile, Roy Halladay could be quite a rental for the next season and a half, huh? Plenty of his fellow all-stars probably have floated the idea to him.
Interesting that Halladay told the all-star media that he wouldn’t mind pitching – and batting ninth — in the National League because “I’d rather hit than face Jeter, A-Rod, Matsui and Teixeira.”
Hmmm. All Yankees. There’s a way he could avoid facing the Yankee hitters besides going to the NL, of course. Roy could ask AJ about that.
We’ll talk about all of this tomorrow on WFAN, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with Adam the Bull. Actually we probably won’t talk so much about Jillian.
Feel free to join us. The great John Flaherty and Betsy from Pete Abraham’s blog were the stars of today’s show.
Oh, and to answer one of your questions: Presumably, Kay stopped saying Lil’ Kim when it no longer amused him. Who knows? He always got a kick out of saying it, then one day he didn’t say it anymore. End of story.
John Sterling just walked into the YES booth, looked at the gray skies and said, “It rains every day here.”
Then he left. Really, there wasn’t much more to say.
Reminder: Our last chat before the All-Star break is 12:45 p.m. Monday, the last day of a four-game series with the Blue Jays. We’ll answer questions as long as they’re not overly repetitive.
The Weather Girls: “It’s Raining Men” is playing over the P.A. It’s also on our iPod. Gametime is now 7:40.
Polly Tompkins: Remember her? She was the Yankees’ Honorary Bat Girl on May 20, in a partnership with Susan G. Komen for Cure that recognized baseball fans battling cancer. She’s here again today, got big hugs from Alex and Swisher and sat down for an interview with us. The feature will be a good one and will air sometime after the All-Star break. We’ll let you know.
Jorge Posada: He took a foul tip off his left thumb last night and it’s sore, so Cervelli is catching CC. Girardi hopes Posada is ok to catch Burnett in tomorrow’s day game.
Jack Nicholson: After our pregame spot, we walked back through the tunnel on our way to the press box. And there’s Jack Nicholson, just hanging out, talking to one of the suite chefs. Now he’s in a slightly more prominent spot – a seat behind home plate. And he’s playing to the scoreboard camera.
Michael Kay: He’s not happy with some of your comments about him. (He’s a very dedicated reader of this blog.) Can’t we all get along and be nice and be the one blog in the world where people aren’t unnecessarily nasty to each other? Please?
Ken Griffey Jr.: It’s hard not to root for him, isn’t it? And, by the way, he always seems to be smiling.
What a beautiful night! Clear skies (so far) and an on-time start. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Our last chat prior to the All-Star break will be 12:45 p.m. Monday, just before the Yankees conclude their four-game set with the Blue Jays. All day games. Hope you can make it.
As far as the last chat goes — we got a lot of repetitive questions. So we answered them. In the future, if we don’t have enough of a variety of queries, we’ll end the chat so as not to offend with repetition. And we enjoy answering some lighter questions. Apologies to those of you bothered by them.
Hughes was the guest for our Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” and was asked your questions. He seemed to have fun with it. Thanks for the questions you submitted. As far as Tino goes, we haven’t seen him. We’ll keep your questions until we do.
Paul O’Neill: He had quite a meeting in the visiting clubhouse manager’s office yesterday. He was talking with Yogi when Ichiro walked in. Then Griffey Jr. joined the conversation. What a quartet. What did they talk about? “Ichiro wanted an autograph from Yogi, which was cool because he appreciates the history of the game,” Paul said. “Then Ichiro and I talked for about five minutes.” They discussed the game and their mutually preferred sneakers, Asics. As for Griffey, he just wanted to say hello. “A really nice guy,” O’Neill said.
Eric Hinske: He’s here, wearing No. 14 and says he’s “excited and honored” to be a Yankee. He said he talked to the Yankees during the offseason about signing but thought he would have a better chance to play in Pittsburgh. When he wasn’t getting at-bats with the Pirates, Hinske credited GM Neal Huntington for trading him. Hinske considers himself an “AL East journeyman,” having played for the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays. He says he’s ready for whatever role the Yankees ask of him — outfield, infield, third base, first base, whatever.
Ramiro Pena: He handled being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as well as a youngster can. He smiled, said he was happy and knows he needs to play every day. The Yankees want him to play some outfield, and he’ll start in center then move to the corners. He envisions playing two days a week in the outfield and the others at second base and shortstop. He’s never played outfield before, having only shagged some balls in recent BP in case the Yankees needed him in a pinch. Pena is popular with veterans; they’ll see him again in September, if not before.
Michael Kay: So, on his radio show today, Kay felt the need to announce (truthfully) that we — the two of us — are not dating and never have dated. Uh, thanks, Michael. But what in the world prompted this? Seems his radio show receives text questions from listeners and four of them – four! – asked about some rumor that we were a couple. So Michael cleared it up for all to hear. And now he’s very, very proud of himself.
Woody Freiman: The YES exec (VP, Production and Programming) bought dinner tonight — Lobel’s steak sandwiches. They were very popular among the announcers. Thank you, Woody! Full disclosure: There are still two pizzas in the booth and assorted pasta dishes that have gone unclaimed.
A trivia question:
What does Kay eat during a rain delay?
A. Peanut M&Ms
B. Fruit Loops
D. Nathan’s French Fries
E. All of the above
The answer is E. That’s what happens when a rain delay stretches to nearly four hours, and counting, for a scheduled 1 p.m. start.
You might wonder how we’re spending the day. It probably would be more interesting to know how the players spent the day, but we can’t ask them that for a while. Probably a long while.
We did have a chance to confirm with Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan that our next chat will be Tuesday, June 30. We’ll provide a million reminders before then.
Hopefully, Wang enjoyed his first appearance on the YES postgame show last night. He was great, considering he says he’s not comfortable on camera, and very happy about the birth of Justin Jesse, his 7-pound, 12-ounce son. He stood at his locker amid congratulatory balloons, and he was holding a piece of paper with the baby’s footprints.
And now he gets to make another start – Tuesday at Atlanta. Life is good for Wang.
Kay is yelling at us, for no apparent reason.
“Kim,” he said, as he brushed his hair, “are you losing steam?”
Honestly, the answer is yes. There is no Red Bull in the press dining room.
“You better pick it up,” Kay said. “You’re not even blogging today.”
Actually, we are.
“Why did you just brush your hair?”
“Because I thought it needed it,” he replied.
This is riveting stuff, isn’t it?
Anyway, there has been an inordinate amount of food consumed by people in the YES booth. Except Flaherty, who has consumed blueberries, grilled chicken and almonds, all of which he brought from home. He was smart to pack.
For some reason, there are now cupcakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, M&Ms, cookies, Cracker Jacks, Twizzlers and Fruit Loops all within arm’s reach. It’s insane.
It seems like hours and hours ago – weeks, really – that we were in the clubhouse this morning. Swisher was updating the collage of teammates’ pictures that adorns a wall of his locker. By now, he’s probably covered several walls. And several lockers.
What do starting pitchers do on days like this? We’ll have to ask Joba.
We’ve looked through a couple of newspapers that are strewn across the booth. Shocking news on Billy Joel and his wife. Thought they were for keeps.
This has become mind-numbing. It seems like they should have been able to play five innings by now. No wonder Girardi says he’s looking forward to the weather in Florida.
It’s a good thing Bruney returns Tuesday from the DL. He’s been so bored, he decided to pick on Francisco Rodriguez.
And it’s a good thing the Yankees have a day off tomorrow. When these days off at home roll around, you always get the feeling that every single player and coach is in need of a little break.
Not to mention the rest of us.
Johan Santana: Who wants to bet the Yankees will have more success against him today than they did against Nieve yesterday? (Full disclosure: Cano is currently on third with one out in the second inning.)
Mariano Rivera: A reader, or two, has asked about Mariano in non-save situations. When we asked him for Friday’s postgame about the difference in those spots, he said he honestly doesn’t know but wishes he did. And he kind of smiled and shook his head as he said it. Like he’s as befuddled as anyone about the disparity in his results. Mariano has coverted 13 consecutive regular-season save opportunities against the Mets.
Al Leiter: Doesn’t bring Mike & Ikes to the booth anymore. Which is sad.
Chien Ming-Wang: Pete Abraham, who is an expert on Wang, says the birth of a child is said to bring good luck in Chinese culture. No doubt, Wang needs good luck — and a good outing Wednesday. Cashman said today that Wang has to attack hitters, trust his stuff and get back to pitching to contact, which means trusting his defense too. And if he doesn’t have success against the Nationals? Cashman said he, Eiland and Girardi will have another meeting. And this time, they probably won’t decide to give him another start — not with the way Hughes has been pitching.
Francisco Cervelli: A bloop single gets the Yankees on the board against Santana. It’s no surprise Cervelli is catching A.J., who just doesn’t pitch well with Posada behind the plate. (7.48 ERA in four starts with Posada. 3.81 in eight starts with Molina or Cash.)
Derek Jeter: An RBI single by the Captain, 2-0 Yankees. Funny how Nieve looked like a Cy Young Award winner yesterday and Santana is having to battle today. Damon with a two-run single, 4-0 Yankees. Santana doesn’t look like Santana, does he?
Michael Kay: He tries to fool all of us with a plate of watermelon in front of him. “Oh, you’re eating healthy?” Cone asked. “Now I am,” Kay replied. “I had pancakes and bacon earlier.” And he just reached into his bag for an Atkins bar.
Audrey the Stage Manager reports that she had ice cream for breakfast. Yes, we are all obsessed with food.
Kay just complained that the blog is an “invasion of my privacy.” He’s lying. He loves the attention. And he’s drinking Diet Pepsi for the first time in a month and he’s all fired up. (“Blog that!” he says. We will!) Maybe he’s trying to compete with Leiter and his Red Bull.
By the way, Kay had the pancakes dry, no syrup. “Never syrup!” he yelled during a commercial break. “That would bastardize the pancakes.” Really, he’s an interesting guy, isn’t he?