Everyone you talk to or listen to seems to think the Yankees and Red Sox are a foregone pairing in the ALCS. And they may be. But given what we saw over the past few days, the Yankees and Angels would make for an entertaining seven-game series, no?
Certainly the way the managers approached risk/reward on the base paths would be an intriguing game within the game. And the weather in Anaheim would be better. Decidedly so.
Anyway, just a quick check-in on an evening without baseball. I do fewer posts than ever. And feel guilty about it.
Phil Hughes: He’s our scheduled “Innerview” for tomorrow’s “Batting Practice Today” at 6 p.m. on YES. Should be fun. He’s trying to convince me to watch “The Office” beginning with the first season instead of trying to jump in as a new viewer this season. That’s the kind of stuff we talk about on long West Coast trips. And Hughes LOVES “The Office.” I’ve seen one little episode and am nearly converted. (Long West Coast trips also allow for movie watching. Saw “The Hangover” last night and laughed like a hyena. Really, parts of that movie are hysterical.)
YES coverage: There’s not a Red Sox-Yankees game on YES this weekend, but we will have plenty of coverage. On Friday night, the BP show, pregame and postgame are on YES; the 7 p.m. game is on My9 with Kay and Leiter.
On Saturday, pregame and postgame are on YES. The 4 p.m. game is on FOX.
On Sunday, pregame and postgame are on YES. The 1 p.m. game is on ESPN.
Cone is joining Lorenz in the studio for the weekend. We could have a champagne-popping postgame, so stay tuned. This Yankees team probably will throw a heck of a clubhouse party.
Tino Martinez: To the five of you still interested in the Q&A with Tino that was scheduled for May 18, my deepest apologies. I’ve had no luck finding him. None. If I were a sensitive sort, I’d take it personally. I’m not.
So, if I see Tino between now and the end of the season, I’ll ask him some questions on the spot — first question: “Are you ducking me and my blog readers?” — and post them. Otherwise, this will sadly remain a Tino-free zone.
“This Week in Football”: I need to bounce back. After going 1-2 in my NFL picks for “This Week in Football,” I thought about quitting the picks business. But producer extraordinaire Jared Boshnack wouldn’t have it. So, I have three games to pick. It’s agony.
Sticking with the Giants over the Bucs because the Giants haven’t let me down yet and because if they need a score in the final two minutes, Eli will deliver.
I need another win, and if you think I’m going for a white-knuckler, you’re wrong. Ravens over Browns. Sooner or later, Mangini will have to come to terms with the notion that he did not invent the game.
As for the Jets, I haven’t picked them yet and they’ve burned me twice. Or I’ve burned myself. And this week they’re playing the desperate Titans. Sigh.
If I had a fantasy team, I’d want Chris Johnson on it. I think he makes the difference. Titans over Jets.
The outside of Rogers Centre includes large portraits of Toronto-area stars. (That includes Buffalo.) Trent Edwards of the Bills is flanked by Cito Gaston and B.J. Ryan. To the left of Ryan are Scott Rolen, Roy Halladay. Alex Rios is pictured elsewhere around the dome.
Ryan’s gone, Rolen’s gone, Rios is gone and Halladay might be gone this winter. Presumably this offseason there will be some redecorating on the exterior. The Blue Jays — who’ve weathered 12 disabled list stints by 10 pitchers this season — haven’t spent money wisely and don’t have as much as they’d like to spend. That’s toxic.
Meanwhile, on the interior, fans are few and far between. The sparse crowd here – on Ladies Night, no less — follows three nowhere-near-capacity gatherings in Baltimore.
That’s the awful part of baseball season when a team is out of it by Labor Day. Or Independence Day.
Mariano Rivera: He knows panic could ensue whenever his health is in question. He said he’ll be fine. But his left groin is “sore.” In Seattle last month, it “grabbed” and resulted in one appearance over a week’s time as he rested and underwent treatment. This time, Mariano said it might be a few days. He will be cautious. Girardi said it is uncomfortable — “like walking on hot coals” uncomfortable — to think about not having the Hall of Fame closer.
Jonathan Albaladejo: Have you seen his face? He looks like he was in a fight and lost. Big-time. Actually, he was playing catch with Edwar Ramirez on Monday and missed the ball, which hit him just above his left eye. He got a Band-Aid. Within 30 minutes, he had two shiners that are now a mixture of black, blue, purple and pink. The Yankees waited until he pitched in a game — an inning last night for AAA — to recall him. He arrived today and got a lot of ribbing. “Catch the ball!” Joba yelled, just as Albaladejo finished chatting with some reporters. Albaladejo laughed. “They were giving me a hard time in AAA,” he said. “I’d rather they give me a hard time here.”
Phil Hughes: In his locker here are two souvenirs from Baltimore, a Nick Markakis bobblehead and an Adam Jones figure. Hughes is collecting with a purpose. “I don’t want just regular stuff,” he said. “These are funny. Markakis is making a sliding catch, and Jones is jumping and blowing a bubble.” He’s right. The Orioles apparently know how to do give-away nights.
Joe Girardi: Joe’s wife, Kim, and Kid Styles of Bedford Hills are hosting an event on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Stadium to support awareness of stomach cancer. Blue hair extensions will be sold at two booths as will raffle tickets to win one of four items signed by the manager. All proceeds go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer of Northwestern University. Joe’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and he says she’s doing well. He also says he’ll be wearing a blue extension that day.
Jim Leyland: His Tigers have a five-game lead over the Twins. But Leyland objected to the suggestion today that his team is in the “driver’s seat.”
“I don’t like comments like that,” he said. “There’s no reason for them. Our players should feel good about themselves and what they’ve done, but there’s no need to talk. Just go out there and keep doing it.”
The Yankees’ fantasy football draft took place last night at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore. There was nearly perfect attendance as some players picked their teams and others watched, and all enjoyed the show put on by league commissioner Eric Hinske.
Hinske, apparently, had a comment for nearly every draft pick — mostly indicating to his competitors that they had just made a terrible selection. He also watched the clock. Owners had two minutes to make their picks; those who duplicated a pick already made — because they were immersed in research instead of paying attention — were fined $100. There were five of those miscues.
Hughes had the first overall pick, selecting Adrian Peterson. Bruney, last year’s runner-up, went with Maurice Jones-Drew. And Hinske picked DeAngelo Williams third. Last year’s winner, K-Long, selected a bunch of his hometown Cardinals, beginning with Larry Fitzgerald eighth overall.
A few people have asked about Jeter’s involvement. He was a late addition to the league, asking to join Hinske’s team. Hinske was prepared to go it alone but accepted the Captain’s offer.
“He just wants to be on the winning team,” Hinske said.
The players are having a lot of fun with this, and some spent a long time in research before the draft. We’ll have plenty on the draft and the fantasy league in the coming days.
Hideki Matsui: He indicated today after hitting in the cage that his knees feel “great.” (No translator needed.) The Yankees training/medical staff has done a great job managing his knees this season and draining his knee on a couple of occasions. Tonight, he plays in his seventh consecutive game. If he doesn’t get a day of in Baltimore tomorrow or Wednesday, he’ll surely get one in the four-game set on the Toronto turf.
Alfredo Aceves: He won his ninth game yesterday and today he took a liner off his left — left — biceps during BP. Aceves stayed on the field for the entire batting practice. In the meantime, a bruise had formed. He said he was fine.
Phil Hughes: He’s going to love seeing this: Peterson just scored on a 75-yard run on the first play from scrimmage against the Texans.
Michael Kay: He has a heaping spoonful — emphasis on heaping — of peanut butter on a plastic plate in front of him. That Atkins diet has to be a ton of fun, doesn’t it?
A quiet Sunday morning in the clubhouse. The Yankees held optional batting practice. CC was hanging out with his 5-year-old son. Lil’ C watched his dad’s side session then took some hacks in the cage. Not surprisingly, Lil’ C can swing the bat.
A bunch of players were knee-deep in preparations for their fantasy football draft, scheduled for tonight. There were more fantasy football magazines in the clubhouse than there are at 7-Eleven. Rumor has it, Hinske is taking his job as league commissioner very, very seriously.
A day after wearing a Donovan McNabb jersey, Bruney sauntered to his locker wearing a Tony Romo jersey. He says he’s a lifelong Cowboys fan and wore the Eagles jersey because it was a gift from Damon. Hughes seemed disgusted by that. Hughes and Bruney have the first and second overall picks in the fantasy draft.
We’ll get you plenty of info on the fantasy football developments before the NFL season starts Sept. 10. Alex is part of the league. He was wearing a Bears hat yesterday. “I just like the hat,” he said. “It was a gift.”
What’s going on with all the NFL-themed gifts?
Joba Chamberlain: The Joba Rules are something. He’s out after three innings and 35 pitches. Aceves is in. Can’t wait to hear what Joba says about this outing after the game. One question looking ahead to next season: Will there be Hughes Rules?
George Martin: Two weeks from today, Sept. 13, the all-time great New York Giant will continue his Journey for 9/11 by walking from the George Washington Bridge to Giants Stadium. The 13-mile walk begins at 10 a.m. It ends in plenty of time for the Giants season opener at 4:15. Harry Carson and O.J. Anderson will join Martin, who walked across the country — 3,003 miles — on his original “Journey,” which benefits responders to 9/11 and helps with their healthcare needs. (We’d walk if we could; the Yankees have a 1 p.m. tilt against the Orioles that day.) For more information, go to ajourneyfor911.info.
The wild card: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times does a great job breaking down the wild card battle. “It’s going to be interesting,” Joe Maddon said. “The Rangers are good, Boston’s good, we’re good. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fun September.” The Red Sox visit the Rays Tuesday to begin a three-game series. Playing at home and behind in the three-team race, Tampa has to win two. At least.
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.
And by “eagle,” I refer to the most, uh, interesting rental car I’ve ever had the privilege of driving. The kind of vehicle you’d see at Spanky’s Used Car Lot. The air vents didn’t vent. And there was a bit of an odor.
I drove to Baltimore so I could stop along the way and visit my 3½-year-old niece (Little A) and 21-month-old nephew (Big A). My sister and brother-in-law were there, too, which was nice.
So the jalopy and I were a block from the hotel when I saw a cluster of people on the corner. About eight or 10 of them looked like they haven’t worked out in a while – and by “a while” I mean “ever” – and were holding Yankees memorabilia. One was signing. The one was Johnny Damon, who appeared to be by himself. It was, like, 10 p.m. Nice guy, that Johnny Damon.
As I parked, I smiled for two reasons: The idea of valeting the Maybad and the anticipation of blogging. I promise to post more often as soon as I learn how to do so. Same with answering your comments.
In mere hours, we’ll actually have baseball to talk about! Hours! Let’s hope weather isn’t an issue. Torrential rains are in the forecast. But there is hope. The local TV weather guy just said that if it’s your “trash day” tomorrow you might have some trouble with your garbage bins in the morning because of thunderstorms – seriously – but the bad stuff should clear in time for the game.
Let’s hope so.