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Category Archives: Athletes

New York Baseball: Moments of Joy

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The following was written by Guest Blogger Daryl Hochheiser.
Yesterday (Monday July 29th) the New York METS beat the  Miami Marlins by the skin of their teeth: 6-5.
Mets Logo
This game was scoreless until the top of the 3rd inning, with 2 outs and 2 on base Daniel Murphy singled to drive in both runs.  The Mets picked up an additional run in the same inning when David Wright doubled to bring Murphy home.  METS Lead 3-0.
Mets gave up a double, followed by a run-scoring triple with one out in the bottom of the 4th inning.  A walk put runners at the corners.  Another walk loaded the bases.  A  misplayed grounder drove in two runs before the third out.  Game tied 3-3.
Mets gave up 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning.  METS Trail 5-3.
In the top of the 7th inning the Mets got a one-out double followed by a run scoring single.  Mets tied the game and took the lead with a run-scoring single and a run-scoring double.  METS lead 6-5.
In the 9th inning the Marlins got a one-out single.  With 2 outs and one on base,  a walk put runners at the corners.  A groundout ended the inning and the game.  Mets win 6-5! A Proud Day!
Meanwhile, up in the Bronx:Yankeelogo
On Sunday Yankee Captain Derek Jeter returned after more than two months out of commission. When he came to bat second in the lineup he got a standing ovation–and on the first pitch, hit a wham-bam-thankyou-fans-HOME RUN! The place went crazy. It was a purely joyous moment of the kind that Yankee Stadium had not seen in many moons.  As radio game announcer John Sterling put it, “If they wrote this into a Hollywood movie nobody would believe it.”
The joy in the Bronx actually began well before the game, when Hideki Matsui, former Yankee player, enacted a formal ritual that will allow him to retire in pinstripes even though he’s since played for the Cubs.  He signed a new contract, put on a uniform, and then signed his retirement papers before throwing a first, and perfect, pitch. Japanese media was all over the place, and the fans went crazy. Matsui has always been popular–I myself adore him, and I don’t know why they let him go two seasons back; but then, I never understand when they give good players the boot.
I think it’s fantastic that Matsui wanted so much to retire as a Yankee he asked for this opportunity–and it’s also great that management agreed.  I guess they understood: Once a Yankee, always a Yankee.
It was a fine two days for baseball in New York!
I apologize for this dismal-looking post, but for unknown reasons I’m unable to get correct line spacing today.–MS

Baseball Midseason / Rivera’s Long Goodbye

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English: Baseball with clock to represent a &q...

Baseball with clock represents a current sports or baseball event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Baseball fans of my blog might have noticed that posts on that topic have been more sparse than usual this season. I’ve been kind of disinterested this year thanks to the dismal state of Team Yankee—if I’ve written anything on baseball, it’s been about that. A 3-game run against the Boston Red Sox begins Friday, starring the ragtag group I call Strangers on the Field–and here comes the cherry on top of this mess: no Robinson Cano in the series: he was hit by pitch at the All-Star Game (which is why, incidentally, some players don’t attend the ASG). Some might see the situation as pure happenstance, nobody’s fault—but there are a few moves management made that contributed to the situation, like getting rid of Raul Ibanez and Nick Swisher. I know, I know: a lot of fans were in favor of the moves, in particular of dumping Swish. Not me. I’m not big on lateral trades and team re-organization. I need look no further than my own backyard for evidence: the Oakland As are in an eternal state of flux, always doing yet another re-org.

The All-Star Game was played at CitiField this week, with the American League the winner. The big event this year was a farewell to Mariano Rivera. Manager Jim Leyland sent him to the mound in the 8th inning, in case they didn’t play a  9th, to ensure he’d be out there for a planned tribute. When The Sandman reached the mound he was surprised to be the only player out there. The rest of them were in front of the dugouts leading a standing ovation. Rivera later said it was a highlight of his 19-year career, second only to his World Series wins. (More on Rivera’s farewell tour later).

Red Carpet Parade

Red Carpet Parade

Playing host to Major League Baseball, New York pulled out all the stops, beginning with carpets on Times Square for the Red Carpet Parade in which players rode through the Canyon of Heroes.

NPR’s sportscaster (sorry, I never got his name) delivered a mid-season recap starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he defined as the season’s Big Story.  Having paid less attention (i.e., none) to the Pirates than to the Yankees, I hadn’t noticed. It’s true that after 20 losing seasons, they seem to be turning things around. More  Pirates—5 of them–played in the All-Star game than at any time since 1972, and their pitching staff leads the majors in shutouts. Still, his report was somewhat skewed.

AllStar Game logo

For instance, he paid special attention to California, saying our teams aren’t up to snuff, particularly last year’s champions, the SF Giants. We’ve also had poor performances from the Anaheim…excuse me, Los Angeles Angels and the Brooklyn…excuse me, Los Angeles Dodgers. Well? Does anyone else notice a glaring omission? Not one mention of the Oakland A’s, who IMO are as Big a Story as the Pirates: any time a team as poor as the A’s lands on top of their division for most of the season, it’s a Big Story.

Finally, he ignored the Yankees, except to say he “usually talks too much about them” (to me there’s no such thing). And he also ignored the Mets, which is indefensible considering they hosted the ASG, which he was in New York to cover. Arggh! Commentators! 

Rivera’s Long Goodbye

English: Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Fl...

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr. Mariano Rivera  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most fans are no doubt aware of Mariano Rivera’s impending retirement and the way he’s saying his goodbyes. Rivera’s been thinking it over for some time, and with the Yankees’ director of communications, Jason Zillo, came up with a plan to visit the people who work for each team—administrative staff, chefs, janitors, refreshment vendors—doing something different before the games. He delivered a pizza to the offices of the Oakland A’s, sat around in a suite talking baseball in Minnesota with invited guests that included, among others, the team chef , and hung around outside some parks holding baseball rap sessions with local  kids. Reported The New York Times: “With all their money and success, the Yankees may be the most widely disliked team in baseball. A rival executive once branded them the Evil Empire, and few people came to their defense. But in stadium conference rooms and offices, Rivera thanks rival fans, charms them, regales them, awes them. And he turns many Yankees haters into admirers.”

The teams, even arch rivals, (I can hardly wait to see what the Red Sox offer!) are showing enormous respect for the best closer of all time by giving him farewell gifts and donating to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, which focuses on the needs of children in his home country of Panama. As I reported a few days ago, the Twins outdid them all with The Chair of Broken Dreams.

For the past decade my favorite players were Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera—who together were the Yankees’ closing battery, a team within a team. Posada was pushed out two years ago and I’ve missed him like crazy. Now goes Rivera. (Going soon: Derek Jeter.) I’m not sure how I’m going to withstand the loss.

What Mariano Rivera is doing with his final season is unprecedented—then again, his whole career has been unprecedented. No pitcher in history, as far as I know, ever built a remarkable record with one—count it, one!—kind of pitch. Rivera says God gave him his cutter. As a non-believer, all I can say is what Shakespeare said in Hamlet:

“There are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Mariano Rivera

(sung to the tune of “Maria”)

Mariano—

I just saw a pitcher named Mariano

And suddenly I see how wonderful a pitch

Can be.

Mariano—

I just saw a closer named

Mariano

And suddenly the game

will never ever be the same to me.

Mariano

Pitch it fast

And they just can’t hit it

Pitch it slow

And the catcher will catch it.

Mariano

I’ll never stop loving

Mariano………

{sing operatically}

Ninth inning–

Mariano!

Baseball Today

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Mets logo

Unknown

In 20 Innings Lasting 6 hours and 25 minutes, the METS Lost to the  Miami Marlins 2-1

 

It was:

–The Longest Game In Citi Field History (CF opened in 2009)
–The longest Major League game in more than three years; the last one also involved the Mets, who beat St. Louis 2-1 in 20 on April 17, 2010
–The Mets’ fifth game of 20 or more innings in franchise history
–THE LONGEST METS GAME EVER WAS A 25 INNING GAME ON 9/11/74
– After the 14th-inning stretch the stadium played Chuck Berry‘s “No Particular Place To Go” but only a few hundred of the faithful were still in the stands.

METS scored the 1st run of the game in the Bottom of the 2nd inning when Juan Lagares doubled to drive in Ike Davis.  METS Lead 1-0.

Marlins tied the game on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 4th inning.  METS 1 Marlins 1.

METS had the potential winning run@2nd base w/1 out in the bottom of the 9th inning. Then the winning run was@2nd base w/2 out. Then they had 2 on w/2 out–but a groundout ended the inning.  Game Tied 1-1.

METS had runners@1st & 2nd w/2 out in the bottom of the 10th inning.  John Buck fouled out to end the inning.  Game Tied 1-1.

METS had the winning run@2nd w/no outs in the bottom of the 12th inning.  Duda hit a long fly advancing the lead runner to 3rd w/1 out.  Marlon Byrd hit a long fly ball that was caught&the runner coming home was tagged out.  Came still tied 1-1.

METS had 2 on w/2 out in the bottom of the 14th inning.  They did not score.  Game still Tied 1-1.

METS had a runner@2nd base w/1 out in the bottom of the 15th inning.  Then w/2 out and a runner@2nd, Omar Qintanilla  Struck out.  Game still Tied 1-1

In the top of the 20th inning, Shaun Marcum, the Mets’ eighth pitcher, threw an outside cutter that Adeiny Hechavarria hit into left field for a run-scoring single.

MARLINS win 2-1

Mets Pitching:

Matt Harvey was on the mound 5 days after giving up 10 hits & 4 runs against the Marlins, in his worst inning of the year.  He ranks 7th in the Majors w/a 2.17E.R.A.  Harvey is the 1st pitcher in franchise history to be undefeated thru his 1st 12 starts & the 1st METS pitcher to begin a season 5 & 0 since 2011,when Dillon Gee Began 7 & 0.  today, he pitched 7 innings.  He gave up 1 run on 6 hits.  He Struck out 6 batters.

Brandon Lyon
Shaun Marcum picked up his 7th loss.  He is winless.

Mariners Pitching:

Jose Fernandez, fresh off 7 scoreless innings in a win against the METS last Saturday, pitched 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 3 hits.  He walked 3 batters & struck out 7.
Chad Quails
Kevin Slowey, the 7th Marlins pitcher, pitched 7 innings & picked up his 2nd win.
Steve Cishek picked up his 6th save.

Baseball Today is an occasional series written by my son Daryl Hochheiser.DarylHippieHat


Related articles

Note: A hilarious short story about a baseball game that goes on forever is TC Boyle’s “The Hector Quesadilla Story.” For an audible version go to PRI; or download the story from The Paris Review; or buy Boyle’s collection, Greasy Lake and Other Stories.

Baseball Today

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DarylHippieHat

Baseball Today is an occasional series written by my son Daryl Hochheiser.

YankeelogoThe Yankees Beat the Cleveland  Indians 7-4

Andy Pettitte, making his return from the DL, for  his 1st start since 5/16.  He pitched 4&2/3 innings.  He walked 3 batters & struck out 3 batters.

Mark Teixeira, who only recently returned from the DL, hit a Grand Slam to score 4 runs.

Lyle Overbay (who played 1,272 games@1st base), made his 1st Major League start in the outfield (right field) tonight.

Shawn Kelley pitched 1&1/3 innings.  He walked 1 batter & struck out 2 batters.  He won his 3rd game

Joba Chamberlain pitched one inning.

Mariano Rivera picked up his 20th save

A's Logo

Oakland A’s beat the Milwaukee Brewers 10-2

Coco Crisp led off the game w/a home run.

The A’s scored 6 times in the 5th inning.

Tommy Milone  Pitched 7 innings.  He won his 6th game

Unknown

Neither the Mets nor the Giants played today.GiantsLogo

Yankees 2013: A Ghostly Team

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YankeeStadium

Derek Jeter: Broken ankle still not healed, on 60-day DL. A-Rod: Hip surgery during off-season, on 60-day DL. Curtis Granderson, fractured forearm, on 15-day DL. Mark Teixeira, strained right wrist, 15-day DL. Francisco Cervelli, fractured right hand, playing it day-by-day. Ivan Nova, triceps inflammation, 60-day DL. Joba Chamberlain, strained right oblique, 15-day DL. David Robertson, sore left hamstring, day by day. Kevin YouKillUs (yes, the former Red Sox guy), lumbar spine strain, 15-day DL.

Enough?derek-jeter

Bear in mind that most of these guys have been on the DL since before Opening Day, so they haven’t played yet this year at all. More important, those 15 or 60 DL days are frequently extended once they’re up. Jeter, for instance, spent most of the off-season with his ankle in a brace, riding around his mansion on a scooter.  He was expected to play come April 1st but has yet to swing a bat other than in practice—and after seeing him hanging around the dugout, I think he’d best get himself on a weight reduction plan, stat!

Yesterday, May 4th, I watched a complete game for the first time this season. It took me a month to face the sight of my beloved team replaced by a former Red Sox player and a bunch of strangers. Yankee Stadium was half empty—unprecedented—so apparently I’m not alone. I knew precisely four of the guys in the lineup. It was like watching the A’s—who in fact they were playing—at the start of every new season when they’ve invariably been overhauled. I knew just

Joe Torre

Joe Torre

two of their players–but that’s not unusual. When Joe Torre managed the Yankees I could easily recite the rarely changed lineup. It isn’t my aging brain cells at fault; it’s the players’ aging process. That and demented management.

Despite the Yankees’ decimation-by-injury, they’re doing all right. Except for Nova’s recent injury, the pitching rotation seems to be in good shape. Yesterday Phil Hughes threw eight scoreless innings. The Yankees won 4-2, but the score leaped there from 4-0 as soon as a reliever came in. Joe Girardi did the right thing for once, and immediately called in Mariano Rivera. (He’s got 11 Minnesota Twins v New York Yankeessaves so far in what he’s declared will be his final season.) Robinson Cano is on the top ten MLB home run list  with 8, and he has an OBP of 352 and a 309 average.  They’ve won 17 games and lost 11, putting them in second place in AL East. The Red Sox are ahead with 20 wins, riding the wave of good will in the wake of the intense emotions swirling around Boston. (Not saying they’re doing anything wrong, just that some of the love pouring over Boston after the marathon bombing spills naturally over the Sox, who are so closely identified with the city, state and just about all of New England.)

A few ranting words at management for dumping Nick Swisher and Raoul Ibanez are in order. Instead we now have Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner, both baseball elders even though we constantly hear that the Yankees desperately

Lyle Overbay

Lyle Overbay

need young blood.

Still, if the guys can do as well as they are with a Red Sox and strangers, just imagine what’ll happen when the Old Guard returns, well rested and ready to kick ass!

English: Cap logo of the New York Yankees

SF Giants Sweep Detroit Tigers to Become 2012 World Series Champs

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Giants Win

After Game 1, all bets were off. I never expected them to win, or come anywhere near winning, that first game. When Detroit announced Justin Verlander as their first starting pitcher—no surprise—I  mentally crossed off Game One. This was even before I knew Zito was the opposing pitcher—when I learned that, the deal was sealed. So when the Giants turned out to be the only team in the Majors that can actually hit Verlander, nothing was etched in stone anymore. Then again, with baseball it never is.

As much as I wanted the Giants to win here at home, and as much as I wanted to see Barry Zito give another sterling performance, losing two games might have demoralized them and stopped their incredible drive to victory, so I rooted for the final win in Detroit last night—and got it. That was another magical event in this series: nobody expected the Giants to beat Detroit in their own house. When they left San Francisco on Monday, a lot of fans prepared themselves for a possible loss or two by looking forward to the win and celebration next Tuesday. Then we got it last night; the team was geographically far away, but still in our hearts, as well as on a Jumbotron in Civic Center. I wonder if other cities televise their teams’ games in big public plazas? If I’d forgotten SF is special, I was reminded of it last night.

About that magic: the Giants were inexplicably sensational. Every time they hit a home run it was a stunning surprise, maybe ‘cause they just kept hitting them. Every time they put a Tiger out of business, the play was so unlikely that its victim recoiled in disbelief and stomped, scowling, off the field. Magic: Pablo Sandoval hit three—count ‘em, 3—home runs in Game One, becoming the fourth player in the history of the game to do so; the others are Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. That’s Pablo Panda Kung Fu, the guy who contributed hardly anything to the 2010 series and was so out of shape he was told to deal with it…or else. Magic: Barry Zito, left out of the 2010 World Series, was front and center this time and pitched the best game of his life. Magic: The same pitcher who rarely hits, did hit two of Verlander’s unhittables at key moments.

The Elite World Series Triple-Home Run Club: Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, Pablo Sandoval

 

Victory is sweet. The SF Giants are World Champions for the second time in 3 seasons, and they’re the only players who can hit Justin Verlander! Word is he was last seen checking into some kind of rest home to get over the trauma.

SF Giants Beat STL Cardinals 5-0 in NLCS

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Barry Zito

Now that the Yankees are out of World Series contention, I’m moving on, putting my eggs into the SFGiants basket. Last night in GAME 5 OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES they SHUT OUT the St. Louis Cardinals 5-0, led by the hip, beautiful, and much challenged Barry Zito on the pitchers mound. He threw 115 pitches in 7.2 innings of SHUTOUT BASEBALL and picked up the win. His ERA for 2012 was 3.97, fairly respectable considering what most of his Giants years have been like; in fact, they’re calling this Zito’s comeback season. It’s been rough, watching him sink as soon as he crossed the bridge from Oakland to SF six years ago, going up and down—mostly down—after becoming the highest paid pitcher, at that time, in the majors. Booed and battered (literally!) he managed to weather it all with dignity, but who knows what went on inside the poor guy’s head and heart.

Anyhow, back to bats and balls: The whole team was in fine form last night. They broke the game open in the 4th inning, scoring 4 and knocking Lance Lynn, the Cardinals starting pitcher, off the mound.   Pablo Sandoval led off the top of the 8th inning with a solo home run—and that’s all she wrote. The Cards never scored and the game ended at 5-0.

St. Louis’ advantage was cut to 3-2. The big gain is that the series comes back to San Francisco now to play Game 6 in front of the Giants’ avid and loyal fans on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 11 of 76 Major League Baseball teams that have fallen behind 3-1 have come back to win a best-of-7 series. If anyone can do it, it’s the Giants. Their 2009 World Series involved constant fan torture as they squeaked through each inning and each game.

Not to over emphasize Barry Zito’s part, but according to MLB reporter Chris Haft, “It could be suggested that this game alone justified Zito’s seven-year, $126 million contract, which made him an object of scorn among the media and many Giants fans during his struggles on the mound. But, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy observed, ‘He’s always been a standup guy with everything.’”

Zito was as cool about winning as he is when he loses:   “If you get too caught up in the hype and everything else, things get erratic out there,” Zito said. “I was focused on slowing everything down. … I was living pitch to pitch, moment to moment.”

Written with assistance from Daryl Hochheiser

More of My Posts on Barry Zito:

Barry Zito’s Chatter
The Return of Barry Zito
Zito Razzle-Dazzles
All Barry, All The Time (Includes “The Ballad of Barry Zito)
Giants Beat Cards in NLCS 2012

 

 

Barry the Beautiful

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