Surprise, Surprise, Sour Grapes In Red Sox “Nation”

One of the best things about being a Yankee diehard in New England is, just about every year you get to experience a very entertaining
event here. This event usually happens late in the baseball season and sometimes
in early October. For people who experience this event for the first time, they
may find it pathetic or even alarming. Yet, for those us who have gone through
this seemingly every year, it’s one of the best parts of the baseball season.
The event? It’s the Red Sox "Nation" whine.

The "Nation" whine usually centers around the manager of the
team. He’s usually blamed for every loss. No, the "Nation" never gives the
opposition any credit, for it’s always  something the manager did that cost
the "Fenway Faithful" a much desired win.  Sometimes, the whine is directed
at a Theo Epstein free-agent signing that has gone bust on Yawkey Way. Other
times, the whine is directed at the umpires. You know, they’re all against the
Red Sox. But more than a manager, a poor free agent signing, or an umpire, the
whining is usually directed at the 26-time world champion, New York Yankees.

Today (August 7th) the official whining season began here in
New England, and not to my surprise, it was directed at the surging New York
Yankees who are in the process of erasing a 14 1/2 game Boston lead that was
established on May 29th. The only thing that surprised me about this whine, was
I couldn’t figure out who was more pathetic, the fans or the New England media.

You see Yankee fans, today in New England, the Boston fans
and New England media weren’t talking about the rise of Melky Cabrera and
Robinson Cano. They weren’t talking about the consistent hitting of Jorge Posada
nor Derek Jeter. Nothing was said about Hideki Matsui’s fabulous July. 
They didn’t mention Bobby Abreu’s offensive surge, nor the dominating pitching
of Mariano Rivera.  No, the self-proclaimed "most knowledgeable fans in
baseball" and the astute Boston media ignored all this, and pointed to the
Yankees "easy schedule" as being the reason why the Yankees are closing in on
Boston.

Most of the papers around here have pointed out  "there
is nothing to worry about" because soon, the Yankees will be playing "tough
teams". The local sports shows were flooded with whining Red Sox fans saying the
same thing.  Mind you, we heard nothing about "easy" teams when the Red Sox
had a 14 1/2 game bulge on May 29th, but now, that the lead is shrinking at an
alarming rate,  the whine is focused on the Yankees playing "easy" teams.

All the talk today about "easy" and "tough" teams, and lack
of talk about the real reason why the Yankees are winning, once again proved to
me that the label "most knowledgeable fans" and "astute media" should not be
given around here. The whine got so bad today, that I spent some time to look up
how both New York and Boston fare against "tough" and "easy" teams.

I went back to June 1’st (and stopped
after the last started series in July), and took a look at the Yankees and Red
Sox series wins against "tough" and "easy" teams. Interestingly enough, June
1’st started the second straight series win the Yankees had against a "tough"
team, the Boston Red Sox. Here are the results:

Series won against +.500 teams    
New York  5     Boston   4

Series lost against +.500 teams    
New York  2     Boston   3

Series won against -.500 teams    
New York  7     Boston    5

Series lost against -.500 teams    
New York  3     Boston    3

Series tied against -.500 teams   
New York  0     Boston    2

 

Not much difference is there? Keep in mind, this is two
months worth of data. Now when Boston was running away with the division, I
didn’t hear any member of Red Sox "Nation" or any member of the local media talk
about "easy" teams.  Yet now that the Yankees are on a tear, the reason
that is being thrown around here is, they are playing "easy" teams.

Now you may ask how could almost everyone around here miss
the actual reasons why the Yankees are surging? Well, members of the "Nation"
and the media,  were too busy writing off the Yankees in May.  Too
much time was being spent on planning an "elimination day" and not enough time
was being spent on the real reasons (an unbelievable amount of injuries to the
starting rotation, and slumps by Abreu, Matsui, and Cano) why this Yankee team
got off to a slow start.

According to the whiners here, soon the Yankees will start
playing those "tough" teams. So now, if the Yankees win series against those
teams, what will be the excuse then?  You guessed it, Red Sox "Nation" and
the media will just blame the manager.

www.yankeetradition.com

 

C&C Boys Leading Yankee Charge

When you’re a young player on a team with names like Jeter, Rodriguez, Posada, Clemens, Pettitte, and Rivera, it’s easy to get over-looked
no matter how well you are playing. Well today, that all stops, as I’m going to
praise the Yankees young dynamic-duo, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano. The play
of these two "Baby Bombers" is one of the reasons the Yankees have gone 25 and
10 since July 1’st, and closing in on a playoff spot. Both of these players had
a sizzling July and have continued the pace early on in August. Let’s take a
closer look.

In July, Robinson Cano hit .385 with a .420 on base
percentage. The 24-year old second baseman hit six homers in the month while
driving in 24 runs. So far in August, "Robbie" is continuing his torrid pace as
he has gone 9-18  at the plate. This surge in hitting has brought Cano’s
season average up to .309. His homer total is now at 11, and his RBI production
has climbed to 65.  While being one of the hottest hitters in major league
baseball in the last month, Robinson has also played a very steady second base.

For the second straight year, Cabrera has energized this
Yankee team. Like Cano, Melky got off to a slow start this season, and just like
his buddy, he’s gotten very hot at the plate in the last month.  In July,
Cabrera hit a ******** .368 (39-for-106) and logged a .410 on base percentage. 
The 23-year old has continued his stellar hitting in August as he’s gone
8-for-25 (.320)  and now is just two points shy of hitting .300 for the
season.

Besides making an impact at the plate, Melky has become a
terrific defensive centerfielder for the "Bronx Bombers". Gone are the days
where runners would go from first to third on a hit to center. Cabrera has a
strong and accurate arm that has saved runs for Yankee pitchers. If you’re a
Yankee fan who watches all the games, you’ve got to smile when you now see
runners putting on the breaks when they see Melky charging the ball in center.

Now while we are on the subject of 
young Yankees who are propelling the Yankees into playoff contention, we have to
talk about the "Yankee reliever in waiting", Joba Chamberlain. Folks, I can’t
contain my excitement when talking about this guy. I’m excited for two reasons.
First the Yankees have one weak point and that’s their bullpen. Besides Mariano
Rivera, they just don’t have a "lights out", late inning man.  Joba is an
asset the Yankees can use to make themselves better.  My second reason for
being excited is Chamberlain’s relief numbers in Scranton.

So far, the 21-year old Chamberlain has
logged 8 innings in relief in AAA. In those eight innings, Joba has given up no
runs on five hits. He has struck out 18-hitters while walking only one. I
understand AAA is a lot different than toeing the mound at Yankee Stadium in a
pennant race, but I feel the Yankees have a need, so why not give this guy a
shot? In all of his minor league stops he has proven he can blow hitters away,
now it’s time to see him do it in the majors. If Chamberlain can pitch like this
in the majors, he will be the most important pickup any team has made all season
long. The need is so great, and if the Yankees fill it they are going to be a
very tough team to beat down the stretch and in October.

www.yankeetradition.com

Hey Boston, Guess What? You’ve Got Yourselves A Pennant Race!

The date is July 18th, 2007. The nightly baseball results are in . The scores read, Yankees 6  Blue Jays 1,  Kansas City 6 
Boston 5.  The standings now show that the Yankees are only 6 games (loss
column) behind the Red Sox for the Eastern Division lead . Yes, the Yankees, who
were 14 games behind Boston in the loss column (May 29th) earlier in the season,
are now within striking distance of making 2007, 1978 all over again. Yes, Red
Sox "Nation", I will say it again, 1978 all over again.


It’s very quiet in New England right now. You see, no one is
giggling at my Yankee comeback talk anymore. The giddiness that blinded Red Sox
"Nation" for all of this season is gone.  Writers who deemed the season
"over" in May, are now trying to figure a way to explain what is happening. In
short, panic has gripped Yawkey Way,  as a pennant race has suddenly
developed.


You all remember my prediction that it would be a very damp
summer this year from the sweat of Red Sox "Nation" when the Yankees make their
charge. Well, right now, the "Nation" is sweating, fretting, and doing some bed
wetting, over the surging Yankees and the shrinking Boston lead. Forget "easy
schedules", forget "homestands", forget who "has to play .700 ball", forget
about "blowing up the team". It all goes out the window now folks, for we now
have a pennant race in mid July.


So now that the "non-believers" are resigned to the fact that
there is actually a race, let’s examine how the Yankees can complete this
comeback.


Despite the final score of 6-1, tonight’s game once again
exposed the Yankees weakest link, which is their bullpen.  Ron Villone,
Scott Proctor, and Brian Bruney can’t come in and start walking hitters in close
games.  Luckily for the Yanks, they had Mariano at the ready to record a
five save out.  That said, the Yanks won’t be able to go deep in October
with this bullpen.


During the next two weeks, Brian Cashman is going to have to
find two quality arms to fortify the bullpen. As mentioned before, Jeff Karstens
could be one of them. Karstens has been pitching well in his rehab starts and
could join the club late next week. Cashman will then have to pull off a trade
to obtain another much need reliable arm.


The Yankees also have to take a serious look at Johnny Damon. 
Once again, Damon had a futile night at the plate, and it’s apparent something
is just not right with him.  Having a leadoff hitter hitting under .240 is
not going to help this team make up 6 games in a little more than two months.
Damon has to be honest with the team and tell them if he’s hurt.


Phil Hughes had a very good rehab start this afternoon, and
he may need just one or two more outings before he becomes the final piece of
this now very good starting rotation.


Yes, the Yanks need a bit more to complete this comeback.
That said, it’s July 18th, 2007 and we do have a pennant race. Sorry, Red Sox
"Nation".


The comeback and tradition continues at www.yankeetradition.com

 

Yanks Need To Return Jeter To The Leadoff Spot

With every game being so crucial to the Yankees divisional hopes, it is now time for Joe Torre to flip-flop Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the Yankee
batting order. If you have been following the Yankees all year long, you surely
noticed by now that Damon is not the man to be batting leadoff for this team.
For whatever reason ( I still contend he’s playing hurt) Johnny has become a
very anemic hitter. It seems all he’s doing is hitting pop ups and weak
grounders to the right side. With his on base percentage (.341) being 60 points
less than Jeter’s, this should be a "no-brainer" move for Torre. By moving Jeter
up to the leadoff spot, the Yankees will have a better chance of scoring in the
first innings of games. This season, the Yankees have been having lots of
trouble grabbing an early lead, and Damon’s poor offensive year at the top of
the order is the reason for it.


Batting behind Jeter may actually help Damon snap out of his slump. With
Jeter being on base 40% of the time, Damon will have a chance to sacrifice Jeter
over to second for Bobby Abreu or Alex Rodriguez to pick up. Torre could also
use the hit-and-run more which will open more holes in the infield for Johnny to
poke one through. I know Joe loves Derek in the second spot, but the Yankees are
a better team with the Captain leading off.


Speaking of Damon, the Yankees shouldn’t even consider taking Melky Cabrera
out of centerfield in favor of Johnny. Cabrera’s strong and accurate arm has
stopped the "first-to-third" merry-go-round which had become a staple for the
opposition for the last few years of Bernie Williams’ career, and the first year
and a half of Damon’s Yankee tenure.


During the Yankees early season struggles, one of the factors that was
over-looked was the poor start by Hideki Matsui. Uncharacteristically, Matsui
wasn’t hitting for a high average, and was failing to drive in runs. Well, that
has all changed in July. "Godzilla" is back to form as he’s hitting .313 (.389
OBP), with 5 homers and 9 RBI early on this month. The reason for Matsui’s
resurgence? Maybe his wrist, which he broke last May, is finally back to its
pre-injury state. Whatever the reason, the Yankees finally have some protection
behind A-Rod in the order.


Kei Igawa’s days as a Yankee starter, are on life support. With Phil Hughes
just a few weeks away from a return to the rotation, Igawa will get one or two
more starts and then be sent down to the minors or used out of the pen. When he
starts, Igawa seems to get by the first few innings, then the hitters figure him
out and it’s bombs away. To prove this point, here is the breakdown on Igawa so
far this year:


In his initial 1-15 pitches, hitters are batting .240 against Kei. He’s
still fine when he throws the 16th – 30th pitch (.219). Once Igawa gets by 30
pitches, he loses it. Hitters facing Kei’s 31st-45th pitch are hitting .333, and
those who face his 46-60th pitch are batting .290. If you watch his outings, you
know these numbers don’t lie. At best, the only way  Igawa can help the Yanks
this year may be as a mop up man out of the pen or lefty specialist.


Besides moving Jeter up to the first spot in the order, Torre must make
another key move, and that is anoint Luis Vizcaino as his eighth inning bridge
man. Joe has give Kyle Farnsworth numerous chances, but the hard throwing right
hander just hasn’t got the job done. Vizcaino has earned the right to hand the
ball over to Mariano and Joe should let him do just that.


Remember last season when we all thought David Ortiz was an unbelievable
clutch hitter late in games? Remember when Alex Rodriguez was chastised for not
doing what Ortiz does? Well, how fast things change.  In the close and late stat
this year, Ortiz is hitting .205, with 0 homers, and 1 RBI. A-Rod is batting
.333, with 5 homers, and 16 RBI. Sometimes you just got to love stats.


If no one has noticed, the Yankees are averaging 51,806 fans per game so far
this season. If the Yankees do what  I believe they can do ( a late season
charge past Boston) this average will sure go higher. Yes, business is booming
in the Bronx.


The Tradition and Comeback Continues at www.yankeetradition.com

 

 

 

9 Games Out And The “Experts” Say It’s Over, Why You Shouldn’t Listen To Them

On the eve of the start of the second half of the 2007 baseball season, the New York Yankees stand 9 games ( in the loss column) behind the
first place Boston Red Sox. With 77 games remaining on the Yankees schedule,
most "experts" have concluded the Yanks won’t catch Boston, and have labeled
people like me (those who feel the Yanks can win this division) as "nuts",
"dreamers",  and just chalk up my 1978 talk as "wishful thinking" from a
diehard fan.  My response to people who deride me, laugh at me, or discount
me as a "pinstripe dreamer"  has always been, "who cares"?


One thing I have learned over the years is, there are no
"baseball experts" out there. Yes, this year, a baseball writer on the YES
Network website can sound like a genius saying how the Yankees are out of it and
should blow it all up and start trading stars. So far, this guy is looking
pretty good. But you know what? Two years ago (2005) when the Yanks trailed
Boston by four or five games in early July, this guy wrote the same thing. He
went on to say the Yankees should trade "aging" players like Jorge Posada. Well,
the Yanks came back and won the division that year, and thankfully, Brian
Cashman doesn’t get his "expert" advice from columnists, for Jorge Posada is
still a Yankee.


In July of that same year, a seasoned Boston Globe columnist,
declared Boston would win the division by at least 10 games over the Yankees. 
This "expert" then spent the next  2 1/2 months fending off critics as the
Yankees passed Boston and won the East title. Last season when the Yankees were
four games out on the 4th of July, we heard and read the same kind of "Yankee
demise" stories. As a matter of fact, ever since their historic 1998 season,
every time the Yankees fall back in the division by more than a handful of
games, we hear and read the same kind of gloom and doom.


So from these few examples, and believe me, there are many, many
more, you can see why I chuckle at what these "experts" write as much as people
chuckle at my optimism for this 2007 Yankee team. If the season ended in July, I
would tip my cap to the "experts" out there and give them their due. However,
the season doesn’t end this early, and that’s where these journalists seem to be
making their mistake. In an effort to come up with a  "Man Bites Dog"
story, these writers are always quick to write the Yankees off. This year, they
have been doing just that since May, and now I will go on to explain why they will
be wrong—-AGAIN.

 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN THE FINAL 77 GAMES

 

Let’s get this straight from the start, the Yankees are going to
have to do a lot of things better than they did in the first half of the season
to catch Boston. No, they don’t need Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, or
Joe DiMaggio to rise from Monument Park to help the team out, but they are going
to need better second halves from numerous players.


In my opinion, Johnny Damon is going to be the most important
player who has to step it up during the second half of the season. As I’ve
written many times this year, I appreciate the fact that Damon plays hurt, but
he’s going to have to start producing soon.  Hitting in the leadoff spot in
front of  guys like Jeter and A-Rod, Johnny has to hit better than .245 and
has to get on base at better than a .339 clip. The Yankees have trouble scoring
first inning runs, and that’s because they haven’t had a consistent table-setter
at the top of the order this year.  We all know a healthy Damon can give
the Yankees just that, so it’s not far-fetched to predict Johnny may have a
terrific second half. It’s going to be needed.


Besides Damon, the Yankees must get more consistent offensives
performances from Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano. Both players are capable, but
like Johnny, they have to get it going quickly. Abreu had a great second half
last year, and hopefully Cano has learned one good year doesn’t make you a super
star. Robinson has to concentrate more, and be more selective at the plate.


Unlike the first two months of the season, the Yankees have four
solid starters in their rotation to begin the second half. Just the fact that
Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, and Clemens will be in rotation will make the second
half Yanks a much improved team. Unfortunately, when you are nine games behind,
you need production from your fifth starter. Kei Igawa is not the answer here. 
As written numerous times on this site, Igawa just doesn’t have the stuff to
pitch effectively as a starter at this level.  In a week or two, the
Yankees may have two options besides Igawa. Both Phil Hughes and Jeff Karstens
are rehabbing and could help the Yanks out by late July. If Hughes joins the
rotation, Karstens can be a much needed long man out of the bullpen.


It’s going to be very important that Luis Vizcaino continues to
pitch well out of the Yankee pen. An effective Vizcaino gives manager Joe Torre
an alternative to Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor who both have been very
inconsistent this year.


As with every Yankee team in recent history, Brian Cashman is
going to play a key role in the Yankees quest in catching Boston. There are a
few holes on this team which the Yankees can’t fix from within. In some way,
Cashman has to get a first baseman, another reliever, and a bat for the bench,
by the July 31’st trading deadline. The loss of a healthy Giambi has really
hurt, and no one knows if he can come back this year. With his offense gone,
it’s imperative that the Yanks get another power bat to protect Alex Rodriguez.


If you look at the Yankees schedule for the next month, you can
conclude if the Yankees get their act together, they will pile up the wins. It’s
easy to say, but the Yankees have to play each game with extreme urgency, as if
their season is on the line each day. Boston is not a super team and has many
flaws. Unlike a few weeks ago, the Yankees can’t afford to go on losing streaks
when Boston is losing. The Red Sox will have their share of losing streaks in
the second half, but the Yankees must capitalize on them.


This 2007 comeback is not going to be easy, but despite what the
"experts" think, it can be done. Don’t take my word for it, just look at their
track record.


www.yankeetradition.com

The Hexman Returns To Help Yanks

So I have come back to this site, where it all began so many years ago
You all remember my work in the ’96 Series, for I was as good as our manager, Joe

I come here tonight with passion and plenty of pinstripe might
I will help our Yankees snap out of this funk, and send them into flight

Our offense has been surprisingly silent and I have to end this drought soon
The Yankees are 11 games out of first place, and we are nearing the end of June

So starting on June 28th, the Hexman is demanding that the Yankee bats come alive
It’s time to play some serious ball, boys, and put a halt to this embarrassing dive

The Hexman is asking Johnny Damon to step up to the plate and finally get healthy
C’mon, Johnny, you owe us that much, for the Yanks have made you very wealthy

At the top of the Yankee order, we need you to provide a spark
Without you consistently getting on base, our offense will remain in park

Hideki you have been struggling, and oh, how we long for the days you made the right-field bleachers your villa
Fear not #55, the ol’ Hexman is here to make sure you return to the player we loved to call Godzilla

Mr. Abreu, the Hexman has noticed you are trying much too hard
Starting tonight, just relax at the plate and you just might go yard

Our talented second baseman, Cano must learn good things come to those who wait
Robbie, don’t be afraid to take some pitches before you do your serious slashing at the plate

If I, the Hexman, can get these guys hitting, our offense will be so much sweeter
Can you imagine these guys hitting with Rodriguez, Posada, and Jeter?

The Hexman is satisfied with a rotation of Wang, Clemens, Mussina, and Pettitte
And like the rotisserie we see on TV, all Torre will have to do to this team is, set it and forget it

For those out there who laugh at me because I still feel this team will win it all
Be very careful the rest of the way, "experts", because on June 28th, the Hexman has come to play some ball

I have done my job for you, Yankee fans, and I say this with a straight face
Talk to you later in the year, when our Yankees are in first place

www.yankeetradition.com

Footsteps In The Dark, We’re Getting Closer

After returning home from New York in a great mood this weekend, I thought I’d  share some of my thoughts on the now surging New York
Yankees.

 

To "the unnamed scout" who said Bobby Abreu looks like "he got
old fast", what do you think now?  Bobby has been red hot (19-38) at the plate
and is back being very patient at the dish.  I’m shocked that a scout would make
such a comment just two months into a season. Doesn’t the guy know that some
very good players go into prolonged slumps during a season?  Maybe this "unnamed
scout" will just chalk it up to Geritol. Again, I will ask why are so many out
there trying to write off teams and players early on in the season? There are
going to be lots of red-faced "experts" come October.


For the second straight season, the Yankees are getting some
much needed energetic infusion from Melky Cabrera. Despite misjudging a fly ball
on Friday night (Melky ran in, and the ball sailed over his head) Cabrera is
playing a great centerfield for the "Bombers". The kid is chasing down
everything in both gaps , and he has a strong, accurate arm. If Johnny Damon
ever gets healthy, the Yankees still should use Cabrera as the full-time
centerfielder. He is just so much better than Damon, and teams won’t run on him.


Attention Yankee fans who wanted Joe Torre fired a few weeks
ago. In Sunday’s New York Post, there was a question and answer piece (Steve
Serby did the interview) done with Yankee catcher, Jorge Posada. Here are some
very important points in that interview that "Torre bashers" should
absorb.


Posada called Joe Torre, "the best manager in
baseball."
  When asked what makes Torre the best, Posada gave the following
answer. "He’s always even-keeled; he brings the best out of each player and
he goes out there and really is the same every day. You don’t see a difference
in the way he manages just because we’re losing or winning."


Serby then asked Posada the following question. If this team
fails again to win a World Series and Torre is fired, would it impact your
postseason decision (to stay with the Yankees)? Here is how Posada answered the
question. "Yes, sir. As soon as the season is over, I would look at every
situation, and I would see how the team is going and hold my
decisions."


Remember this, Yankee fans. Right now, Jorge Posada cannot be
replaced, and the Yankees can’t afford to lose him.


I tip my cap to Roger Clemens on his performance on Saturday.
Roger didn’t have his best fastball (90-91mph) but he found a way to win. He had
a very good splitter, and though rusty at times, he gave the Yankees six quality
innings. I’m fine with the Yankees sending out Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, and
Clemens every 4 out of 5 games. With this lineup, the top four should really
start to pile up victories.


I feel Derek Jeter, who has fouled numerous pitches off his
shin and ankle, is still playing hurt. Jeter looks a step slow out there, and
you can see he’s fighting it off. Monday’s off day should help the Yankee
captain.


Cabrera’s miscue on Friday night cost Andy Pettitte another
win, but the good news was Andy was great again.  I would start Pettitte in Game
1 of any playoff series and feel comfortable with him on the mound. He truly has
become a pitcher who mixes it up very well.


Kudos to Miguel Cairo who has actually done a nice job at first
base.


I’m still not happy or secure with the Yankee bullpen. Brian
Cashman must find a way to obtain a reliable arm to go along with Mariano
Rivera’s golden arm.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a right-handed hitter hit the ball
so far the opposite way than Alex Rodriguez. Alex seems to take an easy swing,
and the ball just sails off his bat the opposite way. If he continues to go with
the pitch, he may hit 60-plus homers this year. By the way, has anyone notice
how well A-Rod is playing at third?


The Yankees have shaved 5-games off Boston’s season high 14 1/2
game lead in a short time. Though the majority of New Englanders don’t want to
read about it  on this site, all I can say is, "Can you say 1978?" Folks, it’s
going to happen, you can just feel it. I’m telling you, there is nothing more
enjoyable than seeing a Boston 14 1/2 game lead dwindle during the summer. 
Forget 1998. Coming from behind like this is so much more enjoyable. New England
is going to be very damp during the next few months from the sweat of "Red Sox
Nation" hearing the Yankees footsteps!


www.yankeetradition.com