Big Al Reintroduces Himself To Yankeeland

Aceves vs TB

Courtesy of the AP

The easy headlines from yesterday afternoon’s stinker were CC’s horrific performance and the offense’s continued non-existence.  About the only positive one, which Kenny wisely covered in the IIATMS/TYA recap of the game, was the successful re-debut of Alfredo Aceves in the Yankee bullpen.  Called up after the bulk of the ‘pen got worked hard in Friday night’s 14-inning loss, Aceves got the call when CC failed to get out of the 4th.  Although initially brought in to be more of a sacrificial lamb to save the rest of the bullpen for the road trip, Aceves made Joe look doubly smart by tossing 5.1 shutout innings and keeping the Yankees in the game.

It was a pretty unexpected outcome if you’ve followed Aceves’ career since he left the Yankees after 2010.  He joined the Red Sox in 2011 after being non-tendered and put up a season reminiscent of his career best 2009 season in pinstripes, pitching 114.0 innings of mostly relief work with a few spot starts and posting a 2.61 ERA.  …

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The great batting race of 1984

Thirty years ago, the New York Yankees were a month away from starting a season that would be another in a long line of forgettable teams in the 1980s. They had finished in third place the year before, seven games behind the Orioles and Billy Martin was again replaced, this time by Yogi Berra. It was the famous year when the Detroit Tigers started the season 9-0 and then 19-2 and would run away and hide from the rest of the American League East. The Yankees best starter was a 45-year-old Phil Neikro. Graig Nettles, Don Baylor and Goose Gossage were gone. Ron Guidry and Shane Rawley had rough seasons after Marin fried them a bit in 1983. But despite the Yankees being toast by May of that season, it was also the year of one of the most exciting in-team batting races of all time.

Batting average was still a big deal back then. Though much less important today in the grand scheme of statistics, back in 1984, it was one of the most cherished titles in batting.…

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Ralph Kiner and the 1955 pennant race

Most New York baseball fans think of Ralph Kiner in association with his 53 amazing years of broadcasting for the New York Mets. But eight years before he first sat behind the microphone for the Mets, he almost had an impact on another New York team. Ralph Kiner was a member of the 1955 Cleveland Indians that fought down to the wire with the Yankees in that year’s pennant race.

1955 was Kiner’s tenth and last season in Major League Baseball and it was his first legitimate opportunity to play with a team that could go all the way. Just the season before, the Indians had won 111 of its 154 games to win the pennant by eight games over a Yankees team that won 103 games. The Indians were swept in the 1954 World Series by the New York Giants in one of the biggest upsets of the century.

Despite Kiner’s prodigious career to that point, the Indians picked him up as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Toothpick Sam Jones to the Cubs from Cleveland the previous September.…

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Happy Birthday, David Cone!

Today is David Cone‘s 51st birthday and in honor of this special day (and because I have a head cold and can’t concentrate) I’m reposting a piece I wrote last January for my friend Michael Clair’s annual blogathon which raises money for Doctors Without Borders. Michael is doing another blogathon in a few weeks and I am, once again, participating. It’s a very cool endeavor. Michael blogs every hour for 24 hours on day one and then the next day he schedules a bunch of posts from guest writers (some of the best baseball bloggers on the Internet and me).

For last year’s installment, I wrote a post about my biggest baseball regret: Missing David Cone’s perfect game. Can you believe that we will be celebrating the 15th (!!) anniversary of that game this summer? Time flies when you’re having fun and getting old.

Anyway, enjoy the piece and please, as always, feel free to write about your biggest baseball regret in the comments.…

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Revisiting The Curtis Granderson Trade 4 Years Later

C-Grand Presser

Remember this?

The Mets finalized their 4-year/$60 million deal with Curtis Granderson yesterday, making his move across town official and ending a 4-year run in pinstripes that was interesting to say the least.  Granderson went from underperforming trade bust who had to be benched to rebuild his swing in his first season to one of the premiere power hitters in baseball from 2011-2012 to an unlucky injury case in a contract year this past season.  He finished his short Yankee career with a .245/.335/.495 slash line, 115 HR, 345 R scored, 307 RBI, 2 All Star Game selections, and 1 Silver Slugger award in ’11.  He also leaves with no rings, joining the Yankees the year after their last title and being a part of 4 teams that failed to return to the World Series.

Yesterday marked the actual 4-year anniversary of the 3-team trade that brought C-Grand to the Yankees.  It was a trade that brought up the always pertinent “playing for the present or the future” question with respect to the Yankees’ plans.  …

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Happy 45th Birthday, Mike Mussina!

I’d like to wish Mike Mussina a very happy 45th birthday. Moose, who is on his first Hall Of Fame ballot this year, was one of my favorite Yankees. Not only did I enjoy watching him throw his knuckle curve but I always looked forward to his postgame interviews. He was dry, hilarious and just the best.

Here is one of my favorite Moose moments of all-time. It was May 31, 2006 and he was 26 outs into a complete game when Joe Torre began to climb the dugout stairs in Detroit. Moose was struggling to get the last out but as soon as he saw Torre making his move, he yelled out, “NO! STAY THERE!” Torre retreated with his hands up, then pitching coach Ron Guidry and the rest of the coaches laughed and then Moose closed out the game with a strikeout, securing the win and the complete game.

And here’s an example of how awesome he was in his postgame interviews:

Happy Birthday, Moose!…

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Mike Torrez and his unique Yankees history

Mike Torrez is now 66 years old. Where does the time go? He pitched eighteen years in the big leagues. He started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. That is hard to believe and to remember. He won more of his career starts than he lost (185-160) and he was one of the first free agent hired guns when the Boston Red Sox signed him to a big contract in 1978. It was that deal that brought him to that fateful moment that would forever become one of the New York Yankees’ signature moments: The Bucky Dent home run. Dent hit his Fenway miracle off of Mike Torrez, and the Carl Yastrzemski reaction is almost as memorable as the euphoria that swept through the Yankees as Dent rounded the bases. That moment prolonged the Red Sox curse another sixteen years until it was finally broken in 2004.

Mike Torrez was not an especially great pitcher. He finished his career with a 98 ERA+.…

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Uniform number two through Yankee history

Derek Jeter

No one knows how much longer Derek Jeter will be wearing the pinstripes’ number two for the New York Yankees. But one thing we know for sure is that no one will ever wear that uniform for the Yankees again. A comment from Hawaiian Dave mentioned Jerry Kenney, another Yankee who wore number two for the Yankees back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That got me thinking about all those Yankees who wore number two before the Captain entered the scene. So what follows is a list of them all from 1929 until the Captain himself.

Most people are not aware that there were no uniform numbers for the Yankees before 1929. And once the Yankees did assign numbers, the starting lineup received the lower numbers. But those lineup positions were not set in stone. Only the first, third and fourth positions in the lineup stayed the same all season.

But that first game of the 1929 season did feature numbers one through eight in the lineup wearing those corresponding numbers.…

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