What Opening Day Means

(Photo from Daylife.com)

This post was written at about 10:00 last night. I have no clue whether the Yankees have won or not, though I’m sure they will have won by the time this goes up.

Opening Day. Play ball. Play meaningful ball. It’s about damn time, isn’t it? We can’t help that there has to be an offseason. We can’t help how fast the time between the last out of the World Series and the first pitch of Opening Day travels. We can’t even help how dull the middle of Spring Training gets or how cold the Hot Stove season becomes. But I ask, do we really want to help those things?

Well, yes and no. Yes, we want to expedite the process of the offseason but at the same time, all of that boring crap does one good thing: it helps us build our anticipation. It gets us excited. It lets us know that SOMETHING is coming next, even if we don’t know what’s coming next.… Click here to read the rest

Brett Gardner's Bunting Bonanza

(Photo from CBSNewYork)

In what was, for the most part, a pretty perfect Opening Day for the Yankees, the decision to have Brett Gardner bunt twice seemed to be the lone negative for Yankees fans. I have suggested on many an occasion that the “almost all bunts are bad” position that many fans seem to espouse is wrong-headed, and applauded when Joe Girardi suggested that Brett needs to become a better bunter:

So what benefits would working on his bunting have for Gardner? Firstly, working on his bunting to get his success rate over 40% would make bunting for a hit a legitimate weapon in Gardner’s arsenal. If his rate hovers around his OBP, it may not make sense to attempt to bunt for a hit too often, as he would be sacrificing any chance at extra bases without increasing his ability to reach first base. But if he could push his hit rate closer to that of Adam Jones, Angel Pagan, and Ichiro Suzuki, bunting would become a way for Gardner to increase his likelihood of reaching base.

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Grandyman helps ensure successful season opener

The Grandyman canIt sure is great having actual regular-season baseball back in our daily routine grind; and it’s even better to see the Yankees start the 2011 campaign off properly with a win against the Detroit Tigers in the home opener. There were several positive storylines from today’s ballgame (and I assure you, each will be addressed all in good time). For now, I just wanted to take a few moments to praise Curtis Granderson who had a great all around day (which ultimately helped me justify taking a half day off from work to catch the game live this afternoon).

Defensively, the Grandyman was exceptional. Right off the bat (no pun intended), he was tested in the first inning. Will Ryhmes scorched a shot off of CC Sabathia to centerfield and Grandy promptly denied a base hit (if not a double or triple) with a defensive-play-of-the-game-caliber diving catch. As many of us watching collectively gasped with concern over Curtis’ health after his recent oblique injury, tension was quickly relieved as he got up immediately with a smile on his face.… Click here to read the rest

Game 1: Tigers 3, Yankees 6

In the bottom of the third, Russell Martin connected with the Yankees first hit of the season.  Gardner then put down a bunt, moving Martin to second while the throw to first just beat the Bombers’ speedy outfielder.  Derek Jeter worked a walk and Martin stole third, putting runners on first and third for Mark Teixeira.  Teixeira then drove a deep fly ball into the right field stands giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

The Tigers battled back in the top of the fourth.  Cabrera walked and Rayburn hit a one out single, putting runners on first and second.  A two out single to left by Brandon Inge put the score at 3-2, but CC came back and struck out Alex Avila to end the inning.  Sabathia struggled again in the fifth, giving up a single to Jackson.  Will Rhymes hit a sac bunt, but Cano mishandled the throw from Teixeira and the Tigers had two on with no outs.  A sac fly by Cabrera tied the game at 3-3.… Click here to read the rest

Getting On Board With Zen Baseball

Prior to last season, Ben Kabak of RAB wrote a post that served as a resolution of sorts, a manifesto that many fans agreed with and signed on to:

Zen Baseball is the opposite of that. Zen Baseball is realizing that, over the course of 162 games, the bullpen will blow some, the tying run will be left stranded on base, the ball will take a bad hop, the starting pitcher won’t escape the third. Zen Baseball is realizing that even good teams will still lose 60 times a year, and Zen Baseball is just rolling with it. Zen Baseball is watching a bunch of people play a game we love and analyze to death, a game we wait for months on end during winter to come back and a game we mourn when the final out of the World Series is recorded, no matter which team walks away with the trophy. Zen Baseball is realizing that, as we nitpick, we still are fans who root for the same team and love the players on those teams.

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Game One: Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees

Detroit Tigers (0-0):

Austin Jackson CF

Will Rhymes 2b

Magglio Ordonez RF

Miguel Cabrera 1b

Victor Martinez DH

Ryan Raburn LF

Jhonny Peralta SS

Brandon Inge 3b

Alex Avila C

Justin Verlander P

New York Yankees (0-0):

Brett Gardner LF

Derek Jeter SS

Mark Teixeira 1b

Alex Rodriguez 3b

Robinson Cano 2b

Nick Swisher RF

Jorge Posada DH

Curtis Granderson CF

Russell Martin C

C.C. Sabathia P


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Yankees vs. Tigers: 2011 Opening Series Preview

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The New York Yankees kick off their 2011 season against the Detroit Tigers this afternoon in the Bronx at 1pm.

Mike previewed the Tigers back at the beginning of March, ultimately concluding that he didn’t feel that the 2011 team would be much better than its 2010 incarnation. I’d say that’s a fairly accurate assessment, as the offense hasn’t really undergone any significant upgrades — though Victor Martinez‘s bat does give Detroit a rather formidable 3-4-5 — while the starting rotation continues to remain a fairly fairly large question mark after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

The mere fact that Phil Coke is slated to be the team’s fifth starter is enough to send Yankee fans into delirious fits of amusement, but who knows, maybe Comerica and Coke were made for each other? The bullpen received an upgrade in the form of Joaquin Benoit, while Jose Valverde will likely continue to be an effective closer while also infuriating opponents with his ridiculous clucking after recording each and every out.… Click here to read the rest

Questions for 2011: Bullpen Edition

Like the lineup, the 2011 bullpen is of little concern. While I’m not sure it can “make up” for the rotation as some have suggested, it should still perform well.

Mariano Rivera: The only question is how much longer can he keep doing it? He saw a bit of a drop in strikeout rate last year, but was obviously incredibly effective anyway. Just keep doing your thing, Mo.

Rafael Soriano: Most of us are fans of Soriano the pitcher–because he’s a good pitcher–though we’re not fans of his contract in any way. Still, he makes the 2011 team better, assuming he pitches well and stays healthy. I think the questions here is whether or not he will stay healthy. In fact, he’s never been healthy for three straight Major League seasons. That doesn’t mean he’s instantly going to be injured in 2011, but it’s, at the very least, worth noting.

Joba Chamberlain: Will the ERA match the peripherals?… Click here to read the rest