We have only ourselves to blame for All-Star game madness

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the greatest atrocity in the history of history: the night the Major League Baseball game ended in a tie! Picture it: Milwaukee, 2002. The American and National League teams find themselves in a tie game after nine innings. They’re out of bench players, and the only pitchers remaining are Freddy Garcia and Vicente Padilla (no, I’m not kidding, those two really were All-Stars once upon a time). After they both pitch two innings, the decision is made to end the game, the All-Star game!, in a tie.

The response is swift and merciless. The crowd at Miller Park jeers the decision, erupting in chants of “let them play,” despite the fact that, you know, there aren’t any pitchers left and the lineups are made up of quite a few tertiary All-Stars at best. The next day, sportswriters across the country take to the page to denounce the game, baseball, Bud Selig, astroturf, and nutless Drumstick cones. The players are panned for “not caring” about the game. People whose livelihood involved sitting in the press box every night lament that no one on the field would be willing to jeopardize one of their colleague’s career to win an exhibition game, like noted saint Pete Rose did in 1970*, when players were rightly exploited and underpaid to the extent that the bonus money they got for winning made them play the game like it actually meant something. Bud Selig, the commissioner who is in the process of negotiating a CBA that will include a new drug testing regime without provoking a labor stoppage is derided as a bumbling, ineffectual, dolt in over his head in the job. That picture of him throwing his hands in the air becomes iconic.

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Yankees set post-break rotation

When C.C. Sabathia was placed on the disabled list with a groin strain, reports were that the plan was for the Yankees’ ace to miss two starts and then return immediately after the All-Star break. So far, so good, and that’s exactly how things are playing out at the moment, as Sabathia is scheduled to return against the Blue Jays on July 17th. That’s the team’s fifth game after the break, however, so the Yankees will be giving Sabathia as much time to heal as possible before his return. Hiroki Kuroda will start the team’s first game after the All Star Game, followed in turn by Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes. The only change in that rotation from the one they went into the break with is swapping Nova and Hughes, which is pretty interesting. I haven’t seen any indication as to why Hughes is getting pushed back a slot while nothing else is reshuffled, so I would assume this has something to do with wanting Hughes to get extra time to rest.
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Ivan Nova – a great performance

Ivan Nova‘s outing last night against the Boston Red Sox might have been his best start in his brief Yankee history. Yes, he’s had higher games scores this season on two other occasions. Yes, he only lasted six full innings because of a high early pitch count. And yes also, that Red Sox lineup wasn’t exactly the kind Boston has offered in previous seasons. But still. The outing was impressive from beginning to end. The only true mistake that seemed obvious during Nova’s outing was a pitch to David Ortiz that was supposed to be on the inside corner and drifted into Ortiz’s happy zone. The ten strikeouts were impressive. But that is still not what sets this game apart. What was most impressive was how Nova kept his composure despite some shoddy play behind him.

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Nova fans 10, Yanks win 3 of 4 in Boston

Can every inning be the first inning at Fenway Park? The Yankees scored 14 runs in the four first innings of this series, including two last night to jump out to an early lead against Jon Lester and the Red Sox in Fenway. Derek Jeter, who ended up with three hits, led the game off with (what else?) a single to right off of a left-handed pitcher. Curtis Granderson followed with a single of his own, this one to center. With two on and still no one out, Mark Teixeira ripped a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for Continue reading Nova fans 10, Yanks win 3 of 4 in Boston

Nova K’s 10, Jones Goes Yard, And Yankees Take Sox Series Finale 7-3

Ivan Nova fired six innings of two run (one earned), six hit, ten strikeout ball to carry the Yankee to sloppy victory over the Boston Red Sox. The win allowed the Yankees to clinch the best record in baseball at the break, and, perhaps more importantly, put the Yankees ahead in the century-long head-to-head race at Fenway Park. While Nova’s ten strikeout performance is rightfully the headline–the Yankees would not have won this type of game without a strong performance from their starter–perhaps the most compelling story of the evening was Andruw Jones’ continued surge. The ex-Braves sensation has been absolutely crushing the ball recently, and he added another two-run homer tonight, capping his excellent series with a standout 2-for-5 with three RBI performance.

But, the game began and ended with Nova, who seems to have transformed himself from the pitch-to-contact rookie of 2011 into a strikeout machine with a high-powered fastball, a diving curve, and a deadly slider–a pitch that he had only toyed with last season. 2012 has seen the youngster’s K/9 rate rise from 5.33 in 2011 to 7.76; and despite a BABIP that is 30 points higher than his career average (and a HR/FB rate much higher than league average), he has still maintained a 4.05 ERA. His advanced ERA estimators tell a similar tale: his xFIP (3.90) and SIERA (3.80) speak to his new approach and level of play.

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The Farm Report: 7/8/12

The Yankees’ affiliates had a tough day Sunday, taking losses across the board with the exception of Charleston.  The RiverDogs may have made up for it, as they pulled off an exciting thirteenth inning win.  The GCL Yankees had the day off.

Empire State lost to Buffalo 10-3:
The Bison scored first on a solo homer from Matt Den Dekker in the second.  Josh Satin hit a two-run shot in the fourth and Buffalo added three more runs in the top of the fifth for a 6-0 lead.  The Yankees finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning.  Cole Garner reached on an error and Ramiro Pena singled to put runners on the corners.  Doug Bernier doubled in Garner and Pena scored on a sac fly from Chris Dickerson, putting Empire State behind 6-2.  Ronnier Mustelier drew a lead-off walk in the sixth and scored on a single from Brandon Laird.  Sadly, that was all the Yankees offense for the day, as they fell 10-3.

Bernier went 2-3 with a double, a RBI and a walk.  Pena went 2-4 with a run scored.  The Yankees had a few chances to get back into the game, going 3-11 with runners in scoring position and leaving ten on base.  John Maine made the start and went 4.2 innings, allowing six runs on four hits, four walks and six Ks.

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Sunday Night Baseball: Yanks/Sox 7/8

Yanks: 1. Derek Jeter (R) SS 2. Curtis Granderson (L) CF 3. Mark Teixeira (S) 1B 4. Alex Rodriguez (R) 3B 5. Robinson Cano (L) DH 6. Nick Swisher (S) RF 7. Andruw Jones (R) LF 8. Jayson Nix (R) 2B 9. Chris Stewart (R) C P. Ivan Nova Sox: 1. Daniel Nava (S) LF 2. Pedro Ciriaco (R) 2B 3. David Ortiz (L) DH 4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B 5. Cody Ross (R) RF 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S) C 7. Ryan Sweeney (L) CF 8. Mauro Gomez (R) 3B 9. Mike Aviles (R) SS P. Jon Lester Go Yanks!

Game 85: Oops, Jinxed It (My Bad)

Yesterday, I lead my second pregame chatter piece with the headline “don’t jinx it!” The Yankees were coming off a monstrous drubbing of the Red Sox in the first game of a day-night doubleheader where they looked like one of the best teams in baseball and the Sox looked like a AAA side. Then, of course, in the second game, both teams looked like AAA sides, but it was Boston that looked like a more polished group. I blame myself.

Tonight, the Yankees get the chance to “finish” the Red Sox (what was that about expectations again? I mean, come ON ESPN!) at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN. Ivan Nova will take the hill for the Yankees, with Jon Lester getting the nod for the Bosox. Lester is 8-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 17 starts against the Yankees–though I do have good memories of watching him get demolished last September as the Sox wheeled ever-closer to collapse.

And hey, if the Yankees win tonight they won’t only clinch the best record in baseball at the break…they’ll also break the historic tie between the two sides at Fenway Park over the years. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about–and I don’t imagine many do, as my friend Elisa pointed it out to me randomly last night–the Yankees and Sox have played a lot of games at Fenway over the years…and right now, the record is an even tie. We’ll see who wins tonight.)

Yankees (51-33)

D. Jeter, SS
C. Granderson, CF
M. Teixeira, 1B
A. Rodriguez, 3B
R. Cano, DH
N. Swisher, RF
A. Jones, LF
J. Nix, 2B
C. Stewart, C

Ivan Nova, P (9-3, 4.05)

Red Sox (43-42)

D. Nava, LF
P. Ciriaco, 2B
D. Ortiz, DH
A. Gonzalez, 1B
C. Ross, RF
J. Saltalamacchia, C
R. Sweeney, CF
M. Gomez, 3B
M. Aviles, SS

Jon Lester, P (5-5, 4.33) Continue reading Game 85: Oops, Jinxed It (My Bad)

Can’t handle the New York heat

It is no secret that playing for the New York Yankees has its definite pros and cons. Sure players tend to make higher salaries with the Yankees and are afforded the opportunity to play on national television far more than any other team. In addition, the Yankees have made the playoffs 13 of the past 14 years. Plus, they have won a mind-boggling 27 World Series (16 more than any other franchise). With great power comes great responsibility though. The fans are as loyal as there are in sports, but they also are not bashful to express what they are really thinking. New York’s media and fans are the most relentless in sports. Playing in the Bronx is pressure packed. Either you win, or you go home. As the late great George Steinbrenner once said, “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing.” In recent history, there are three players that come to mind who could not take the New York heat.

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