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A Month of Baseball

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In looking at the significant (to me, that is) baseball events of April 2012 as a diehard Yankee fan, I cannot resist calling attention to the plight of the Red Sox, who are hanging out down in the basement of the AL East Coast division. Another of my least favorite teams, the LA Angels, are moldering in the West Coast basement. That’s more shocking than the Sox, considering that the Angels landed Albert Pujols and pitcher CJ Wilson; WTF more do they need?

The New York Yankees

Unfortunately, the Yankees aren’t exactly flying high.

Pitching Problems: Back in November, just after the 2011 season ended, Joe Girardi, who apparently comes from the Don’t Worry Be Happy school of management, bragged to the media that he already had his pitching rotation for 2012. No problemo, amigos. Right away I knew we were in trouble: Yankee scouts weren’t out beating the bushes and fields, looking for new pitchers to replace Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett. Thus the inevitable came to pass: two of the starters, Hughes and Freddy Garcia, are inconsistent to the point of incompetence and, more importantly, loss. The good news is that we do have one ace (CC Sabathia), another pitcher who stands a chance of becoming one (Ivan Nova), high hopes with the new Hiroki Kuroda, and the soon-to-return Good Ol’ Reliable Andy Pettitte. It’s actually a lot of good news, and if I were managing I’d just rotate the four good guys and unceremoniously dump Hughes and Garcia. Why a team needs five starters anyway is a mystery to me; it’s pitcher pampering in the extreme.

I know every fan thinks they can manage better than the manager, but my frustration with Girardi is only now manifesting in that way. I’m just beginning to notice that one of his flaws is that he coddles the players. He was resting A-Rod and Jeter during the first week of play, rotating the DH between them and a few other older guys. Sometimes Girardi’s just plain clueless: for instance, everybody knows Mark Texeira doesn’t warm up to full capacity until after the first month, and probably won’t hit much of anything in April. In the meantime, Nick Swisher leads the league in extra-base hits. Logic says to move Swish ahead of Tex in the lineup right? This doesn’t seem to have occurred to Girardi. So we get situations like bases loaded with two outs, Tex at bat , he strikes out and strands the runners. Now, if Swish had been at that spot in the lineup…you get my drift.

After a month of baseball: The Yankees have a record of 13 wins, 9 losses and are in second place in the American League Eastern Division,  behind the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays, who are tied for 1st place.

New York Mets

The Mets are playing like quintessential Mets. For instance, in Sunday’s game against The Colorado Rockies they were winning 5-0 until in 9th inning—yes, I said the ninth inning—when they allowed the Rockies to score exactly five—yes, I said 5—home runs to tie the game. They went into extra innings, going eleven total to win by a run. Yes, they did win it—but just look at what they had to put themselves through to do it! Typical Mets behavior.

And a bit of bad luck to boot: Pitcher Mike Pelfrey, it was announced today, needs Tommy John surgery, which puts him out of commission for the season, possibly longer.

After a month of baseball: The METS have 13 wins and 10 losses, and remain behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East Coast Division.

San Francisco Giants

The lovable Freak Tim Lincecum  had a lousy start for the first time in his career. In 5 starts he has 2 wins and 2 losses, and his ERA is a ghastly 5.74. Maybe now he knows what it feels like to live in Barry Zito’s skin. Speaking of Zito, in his first 2012 start he pitched a shutout! I hope he was as overjoyed as I was. He didn’t collapse after that, either: he won 2 and lost one. Keep it up, Barry! Maybe you’ll work your way back to your glory days. Buster Posey did: he’s blowing everyone away by playing just as great as he did last year, before he was crippled by that bone crunching crash at home plate.

After a month of baseball: the SF GIANTS have a record of 12 wins and 10 losses, and remain in 2nd  place in the National League Western Division, 3½  games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (who, by the way, appear to have gotten an injection of new life from Magic Johnson’s ownership).

Oakland Athletics

True Confession: I haven’t paid attention to the A’s at all this season. My enthusiasm for them was once high, but as players kept getting traded away, I steadily lost interest. I don’t know any of the players on the team anymore. I am relentlessly bitter towards Billy Beane for his ruthless management.  Maybe I’ll have more to say at the end of May, after I go to the Colisseum to watch them play my guys. For now, these are  the dry facts:

After a month of baseball the A’s have 11 wins and 13 losses, and are tied with the Seattle Mariners for 2nd place in the American League Western Division.

Mets Shut Out Phillies in Game 2 / Yankees Lose to Angels

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It’s our Guest Blogger Daryl (on the left) with the New York baseball teams report for Saturday, April 14th: 

, HOPING TO PROVE THEY BELONG IN A DIVISION OF HEAVYWEIGHTS, SHUTOUT the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 Saturday in their second game of the season.

David Wright, after missing 3 games w/a broken finger, went 3 for 5, w/2 runs scored & 1 RBI.

Jon Niese pitched 6 & 2/3 SHUTOUT innings, walking 1 & striking out 5 to pick up his 2nd win of this season. He is undefeated.

YANKEES Lost To The Los Angeles Angels  7-1.

Pitcher Phil Hughes, always an iffy proposition, gave up a 2- run home run to Chris Iannetta in the top of the 2nd inning; Vernon Wells scored.  YANKEES Trail 2-0.

YANKEES gave up a double to Albert Pujols to centerfield in the top of the 3rd inning.  Howard Kendrick scored. YANKEES Trail 3-0.

YANKEES gave up a 3-run home run to Howard Kendrick in The Top of the 4th inning.  Chris Iannetta&Erick Aybar scored.  YANKEES Trail 6-0.

Nothing else happened until the top of the 5th inning, when w/2 out YANKEES gave up a solo home run to Vernon Wells. YANKEES Trail 7-0

Robinson Cano singled to left field. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Edwardo Nunez scored the lone YANKEE run. YANKEES lost 7-1.

Phil Hughes, who dropped his 1st decision facing the Rays last Sunday threw 99 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings.  He lasted only 3 1/3 innings today, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits.  He walked 2 batters, struckout 6 .  He took the loss & remains winless in 2 tries.

David Phelps replaced Hughes in the 4th inning.

Hot Stove in The Wintertime

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Baseball with clock to represent a "curre...

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Yanks Lose Lee

Cliff Lee either has more integrity than most baseball players, or he’s a doofus; I have a feeling it’s the former. Lee did what few baseball players ever do: he turned down more money and the chance to be a New York Yankee in favor of returning to the Phillies, the team he loves.

The Yanks made no bones about wanting Lee, and it would’ve been a great acquisition, considering that last season’s pitching rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, and JJ Burnett contributed to a dismal post-season. Sabathia’s an ace pitcher, and Andy’s as reliable as ever – but both had their off days in 2010, while Hughes and Burnett, especially the latter, stank. Which is not to say the rest of the team were much better: except for Robinson Cano, who was almost the league’s MVP of the year, they were a sad sight. Still, you know what they say: good pitching wins the game. And 2010 was the Year of the Pitcher, when other teams’ aces pulled off some astounding feats.

That’s why Brian Cashman’s attitude about losing Lee is so baffling – and so maddening.  “I really don’t think we’ve got a lot of holes,” he said, referring to the rotation. “We’ve got one of the best in the league in CC. We’ve got a kid who won 18 games for us last year in Phil Hughes. And I really believe that A.J. Burnett is going to bounce back for us next year.”

Groan. That inane mantra about Burnett was repeated endlessly last year, to no avail. The Cash Man’s remarks are sour grapes and, worse, they reek of laziness. I was under the assumption that the Yankees’ top priority during the off season would be to resolve their pitching problem. I wonder if they’re pursuing anyone else now that Lee rejected them.  I also wonder what the ineffectual Girardi thinks of the situation. I get the sense that the whole staff is lackadaisical. Which leads me to what’s really on my mind vis-a-vis the NY Yankees: George’s departure into the ether. Clichés are so true:  You don’t miss your water till the well runs dry and You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

If King George was still around, it’s quite possible the Yankees would have snagged Lee. Someone would have persuaded him to say yes, either his good friend Sabathia, or Cashman, or Girardi, or the scouts who do this sort of thing. While they offered Lee the usual mega-bucks, money, as was proven here once more, is not everything, not even when it comes to the Yankees. When George Steinbrenner wanted a player, by god, he got him.  He pushed and pressed and flogged everyone until they sweat their balls off and the deed was done.

Unfortunately, George’s heirs, Hal and Hank, don’t seem to give a damn. Nor do they have the vaguest notion as to how their father did what he did. Those negotiations with Derek Jeter, for instance, were downright shameful, and I am seriously concerned about the future of the team. Will the House that Ruth Built and the team that George maintained come undone over the next few years? To quote the kid in Angels in the Outfield, Hey, it could happen.

SF Giants Rule

Meanwhile, I’m lucky to have other baseball pleasures to keep me from a Yankee-induced meltdown. These pleasures are closer to home – to my current home, that is, not my heart-home in the Bronx. In the Bay Area I’m smack dab in the middle of the place that in 2010 witnessed one of the most dramatic World Series in the history of the game. Up until now, though I swear I tried, I just couldn’t get into the Giants. Couldn’t stand Barry Bonds, yet once he left, the team lacked charisma. I’ve been in love with Barry Zito for years, but his Giants performance has brought mostly heartache. For a few years I followed the A’s, but with Billy Beane relentlessly decimating the team, I couldn’t stick it out; it was too gut-wrenching to watch players leave every other week.

And then along came the 2010 Giants, suddenly making headlines in September. I perked up, tuned in, and saw charisma to spare. I don’t have to tell anyone what a thrilling WS it was, or how much fun these guys were, or how the city went insane with joy. I watched one WS game from a café near the stadium, and another third of a game from the back fence where you’re allowed to stand for up to three innings. Thus, I was among the crazy partying crowds – and nobody knows how to party like San Francisco. When it was all over, I realized that in 2011 I’ll actually have a home team to root for! I’ve purchased tickets to one Giants game and now I’m waiting for a friend who knows someone who knows someone who sells her season tickets at face value.

Matsui Comes to Oakland

But the Grand Slam came yesterday, when Hideki Matsui, ex-Yankee and the sexiest Godzilla from Japan, with his dimpled smile and twitching shoulders, signed with the Oakland A’s as DH. Now I have to buy some A’s tickets (I usually go see them once a year when they play the Yankees). All the Bay Bridge games are a must. I don’t know how I’ll afford to support my baseball habit with this sudden embarrassment of riches; but I’ll also be able to see the games on local TV, something I don’t get to do as a Yankee fan. It’s going to be  busy baseball season. Only 105 days till it starts!


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