Friday, February 27, 2015

Number Sixty Eight



In baseball, especially in the yankees' universe,  a feel good story comes along that it begs attention: Dellin Betances


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Your Attention Please, This Is Your Captain



I want to start by saying thank you. 

I know they say that when you dream you eventually wake up. Well, for some reason, I’ve never had to wake up. Not just because of my time as a New York Yankee but also because I am living my dream every single day.

Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.

So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure.

And the thing is, I could not be more sure. I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball.

I’ve experienced so many defining moments in my career. Winning the World Series as a rookie shortstop, being named the Yankees captain, closing the old and opening the new Yankee Stadium. Through it all, I’ve never stopped chasing the next one. I want to finally stop the chase and take in the world.

For the last 20 years I’ve been completely focused on two goals: playing my best and helping the Yankees win. That means that for 365 days a year, my every thought and action were geared toward that goal. It’s now time for something new.

From the time I was a kid, my dream was always very vivid and it never changed: I was going to be the shortstop for the NY Yankees. It started as an empty canvas more than 20 years ago, and now that I look at it, it’s almost complete. In a million years, I wouldn’t have believed just how beautiful it would become.

So many people have traveled along this journey with me and helped me along the way: I want to especially thank The Boss, the Steinbrenner family, the entire Yankees organization, my managers, my coaches, my teammates, my friends and of course, above all, my family. They taught me incredible life lessons and are the #1 reason I lasted this long. They may not have been on the field, but they feel they played every game with me, and I think they are ready to call it a career as well.

I also couldn’t have done it without the people of New York. NY fans always pushed me to be my best. They have embraced me, loved me, respected me and have ALWAYS been there for me. This can be a tough, invasive, critical and demanding environment. The people of this city have high expectations and are anxious to see them met.

But it’s those same people who have challenged me, cheered for me, beat me down and picked me back up all at the same time. NY made me stronger, kept me more focused and made me a better, more well-rounded person. For that I will be forever grateful. I never could have imagined playing anywhere else.

I will remember it all: the cheers, the boos, every win, every loss, all the plane trips, the bus rides, the clubhouses, the walks through the tunnel and every drive to and from the Bronx. I have achieved almost every personal and professional goal I have set. I have gotten the very most out of my life playing baseball, and I have absolutely no regrets.

Now it’s time for the next chapter. I have new dreams and aspirations, and I want new challenges. There are many things I want to do in business and philanthropic work, in addition to focusing more on my personal life and starting a family of my own. And I want the ability to move at my own pace, see the world and finally have a summer vacation.

But before that, I want to soak in every moment of every day this year, so I can remember it for the rest of my life. And most importantly, I want to help the Yankees reach our goal of winning another championship.

Once again, thank you.

Derek Jeter




Monday, September 23, 2013

Thank You for Great MO-ments



'It has been a great run, guys, you guys have been amazing.  You always have been here for me and for the organization - I will never forget that."

"You guys will have a part of my heart here in New York."


Sunday, June 23, 2013

If You Build It, They Will Come



What a fabulous old timer's day at the park the "The Boss" built.  I haven't attended this event in a while and it was very special to see so many great legends. We were gifted with a beautiful summer day and visuals of great players from year's past - both in equal measure.

These players came together from different baseball eras, some considered bygone eras, and some hadn't a clue they would create baseball history.  Now, they have left iconic footprints - some more distinguished than others - that have traversed great baseball moments and serve as memory markers.  It almost felt like time travel and we were presented with cascading folklore at Yankee Stadium.



Friday, October 19, 2012

I Will Be Back



"That's correct. I will be back. I have a lot to prove and I will be back - on a mission.  I don't expect to be mediocre."


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sabathia in Cruise Control



Sabathia's dominant performance in game five vs the Orioles to win the ALDS was his first career postseason complete game and one befitting an aCCe.

"That's what I'm here for," Sabathia said.  "It's what I play the game for.  I guess I should feel a little pressure or something like that, but I don't."

"He is one of the greatest pitchers on the planet, that was all heart."  --Ibanez



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When Does It Stop?

ORIGINALLY POST ON 5/23/12



Playing baseball for the New York Yankees is a tremendous privilege; especially if one gets paid a busload of money for the honor.  In New York, respect is earned and it is not a right. And, of course - everyone has an opinion at the very least about the Yankees. Opinions about character assassination run rampant in New York - as well as being contemptuous.  

For Alex Rodriguez, this is a normal day at the office.  Although, he has always displayed the required backbone for excellence and continues to work his tail off, he's denoted a choker and a swaggerer.  We have all heard the chinwag: Catcalls for his head on a bad play or a strikeout, resentment over his lofty contract, envy, and vogue for this season - annoyance for his pitiable performance with RISP (6 for 40 with 2HR and 12RBIs).  Now, lets have a look-see at two categories for his career.  With RISP he's batting a very respectful .298/.400/.539 with 154 HRs and 1,216 RBIs  and .346/.394/.697 with 22 Grand Slams with the bases full.  Not Bad! However, a great deal of fans continue to have selective amnesia, including the press as they pile on and overanalyze  his statements, modulate his success and constantly disparage him.

There are plenty of flies buzzing around the stadium lately, but we can't continue to censure and exile the unproductive.  We need to root for wins and provide a vote of confidence.  AROD's unrelenting supremacy may be gone, but he's not the only one to blame - It's a 25 man team.  It's understandable for all this to be fad in New York as he makes the most money, and as such - should have the biggest target ironed on his uniform.  The numbers: the Yankees are obligated to pay Alex $143 million with another $30 million in possible incentives.  Still, let's not forget the money remaining on the contracts of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter - over $300 million with possible incentives.  Not exactly pocket change.  Yet Alex must absorb all the heat.

Some are so dismayed at the notion that he's got a chance to top the HR and RBI records. And, because of his admitted steroid use, he then, should be removed from any serious consideration to be mentioned alongside other baseball immortals: Aaron, Ruth, Mantle or Mays.  Perhaps, Alex should be relegated to complete obscurity?  C'mon?! What about the Ruth era, when players were notorious for drinking and gambling and the days of Mickey, Whitey and Billy - where liquor was a constant.

There is no debate about the poor showing so far this season for Rodriguez (.276/.369/.404 with 5 HR and 15 RBIs) - an unproductive beginning by AROD's standards. But, it's just not producing for him, his benchmark is so high that no matter what he does, it would never suffice New York.  How will his pinstripe legacy be defined? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: most will continue to disapprove and most sentiments about him will always be hurled outside the realm of goodwill.  





Sunday, October 7, 2012

A 162-Game Bender




The Yankees 2012 season was certainly a 162-game mind-bender.  To really understand and appreciate this year's team, one would have had to devoutly follow them all year and get a flavor for the failures and accomplishments.  Undoubtedly, there were many variables to chew:  the season hinging on an aging club, injuries and the lack of production as a side-effect.  The harsh 200 million dollar payroll and only one World Series win in the last eleven years - eventhough the Yankees have played October baseball in ten of those eleven.  To the naked eye, a degree of stubbornness was obvious with their approach at the plate, with almost no effort to make any adjustments.  Although, this philosophy yielded many happy endings - 95 wins to be exact.  

To comprehend what defines this year's team, a closer analysis must be done to understand how the 162-game schedule played an immense part in the team's equation. The wear and tear of the long season was a test in fortitude. In this part, the closest analog for me would be blogging.  It has helped me understand the game better and a chance to feel the pulse of the game.  Like anything else, having a reasonable basis about what's written is essential.  Of course, there are principles in writing and there must be general correctness to these principles.  But, we don't have to follow them uncompromisingly - as they can be pliable.  To have success at blogging, the effort must be sustained for a long period, as is with production in baseball.  The Yankees stood the test of time and displayed perseverance to win the AL East division on the final day of the season.  Albeit, not before the tenuous times comprised of hot streaks and plenty of struggles.  This season not only frustrated many of us and in even infuriated, however it also afforded us prosperity. 

Injuries affect the stability and success of a team and the Yankees were not immune to them:  losing Mariano Rivera for the season, and having Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez spend time on the disable list.  These are huge loses for any team to instantly recover from.  Even for the Yankees, who led the American League in home runs, and at times struggled with the four baggers.  The lack of success with bases occupied denoted a different Yankee team from years past. The middle of the lineup struggled mightily in clutch situations, especially with the bases loaded. Early on the Yankees were hitting a mere .151 as a team with bases juiced and slightly north of the "Mendoza Line, " with runners in scoring position (.220).  Not a pretty sight, in fact downright wearisome.  Some of the major lineup components were not providing us with any hope with the bases loaded:  Curtis Granderson .143, Derek Jeter .143 and Alex Rodriguez .111.  The only thought infiltrating my mind was small-ball.  Can the team play small-ball until the bats return to standard form? Just one measly hit?  As inauspicious as those early numbers appeared, some benefit of the doubt had to be given to the team - since the same veteran core of players succeeded before and proved it by powering their way to lead the majors in home runs and the best record going into the All-Star break (52-33).  At that point, the Yankees were well on their way to a division crown and a taste of bubbly.  

Every year is different, but let's consider that the last two seasons with basically same lineup, the "The Bronx Bombers," were an imposing team with the bases loaded:  In 2010, the team amassed 10 Grand Slams with 187 RBIs while batting .344/.396/.559, and in 2011 - 10 GRSL and 142 RBIs (.337/.354/.601).  The Yankees again struggled after the All-Star break and their 10-game lead almost dissipated by the first week of September. Once again, the team displayed a championship character and commitment to making the playoffs by finishing with the best record in the American League (95-67).  Also, leading the MLB with most home runs and obtaining home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs.  This was the antithesis to last year were the urgency to have the comfort of playing at home alongside the support of the fans wasn't at hand.  

Congratulations to the 2012 New York Yankees. 



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Old Reliable Lefty


Andy Pettitte may consider himself a "work in progress," but the reliable lefty has now thrown 11 shoutout innings since coming back for the DL, and has provided the Yankees with a much needed comfort level down the stretch.

The fans should not evoke fear or a feeling of despair when the Yankees need a must win, since Andy will properly steer the ship.  He seems to pitch his best when a win is mission critical.  Andy's pedigree: Clutch!

One thing for sure: Andy will be a factor in the postseason.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One Small Step for Joba, One Giant Leap for Yankees



According to Newsday and ESPN:  Chamberlain threw an inning for the Single-A Tampa Yankees this morning.  He struck out two and allowed no hits and no walks, but gave up an unearned run.  His fastball topped at 97 MPH.  



Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Grand Slam With Mythical Prestige

I happen to be working late on Tuesday night and missed the chance to watch Alex's history making grand slam, as he tied Lou Gehrig's all-time record. This could be the ab-bat to springboard alex forward and induce a home run trend.  One powerful swing provided a flashback to a time when Alex displayed a relentless superiority with his extempore show of power. Although, AROD's speed and power are no longer in abundance - he can still imposed his will and dramatically change the outcome of a game.  

On June 10, 1934, vs the Philadelphia Athletics, the Iron Horse tied Ruth for the most grand slams with 16 and surpassed him with his 17th on July 5, 1934 - to take sole ownership of the GRSL record.  Gehrig hit the 23rd GRSL of his career on August 20, 1938, of pitcher Buck Ross from the Philadelphia Athletics, a record unrivaled in 74 years. He hit eleven of the twenty-three grand slams in the legendary Yankee Stadium, and was most dangerous with the four baggers in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings - where he hit 17 GRSL.  

Rodriguez has joined company with one of the most celebrated yankees.  Twelve of his twenty three grand slams have either tied or put his team ahead and three have been of the walk-off variety.  Alex has been one of the most productive hitters with the bases loaded and not even this year's struggles (2 for 11) will dampen his lofty credentials:  .345/.391/.703 with 23 GRSL and 261 RBIs, while producing a lofty 1.094 OPS.  Alex, also bested Ruth and tied DiMaggio with the second most GRSL as a Yankee at 13.  With 1,923 RBIs on the right side of the ledger, he has a real chance at challenging Hank Aaron (2,297) for the all-time RBI record.  A doable feat considering he's only short 374 RBIs and has 5 plus years to play.  Assuming he attains another 40 RBIs this season, then, he would only have to average 67 RBIs for the remainder of his contract.  


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feeling of Freedom

When I attended Daytona Bike Week this year, I was pleasantly surprised at the volume of women riders.  History will tell us this occurrence is not a new spectacle, but it's definitely a refreshing visual.  As the weather in New York is unseasonably warm - to the naked eye - one could plainly see the shifting of the gears as a growing number of female bikers are taking the handlebars and revving up the engines.  There is no denying that the unique sound of a Harley-Davidson is music to the biker aficionado, however - most especially so - the sound becomes luxuriating with female riders. In baseball, "Chicks dig the long ball." In the biker world - who doesn't dig a chick who digs bikes?

As it turns out, women have had a long and enduring love for the four wheelers.  So, let's acknowledge some of the most important pioneers who felt the call of the open road and paved the way for the modern-day female biker-enthusiast.  They were beautiful and independent women who soared above the boundaries placed on women of the era, and became an important part of motorcycle lore.



"New York 'society girls' Adeline and Augusta Van Buren (descendants of our 8th president) dreamed of serving the country by being motorcycle dispatch riders.  They were the first women to make the transcontinental journey on separate motorcycles.  In 1914, they set out on a cross-country trek from Brooklyn to LA and were often arrested for wearing men's clothing."


"Louise Scherbyn was concerned about the effect riding would have on her reputation as she traveled extensively all over the USA and Canada.  She was reportedly the first American woman to reach the far north, Timagami Forest of Canada."


"Linda Dugeau was a pioneering motorcyclist who founded the Motor Maids, the oldest motorcycling organization for women in North America, in 1940 - with 51 charter members. She worked as a motorcycle courier and had a reputation as one of the best female off-road riders in 1950s."


"Dorothy 'Dot' Robinson the 'first lady of motorcycling' was the other co-founder of the Motor Maids.  She paved the way for women riders in the competitive arena.  In founding the Motor Maids Inc., Dot set out to unite women riders, to show that you could ride a motorcycle and still be a lady."


"Bessie Stringfield was the first African American woman to ride cross-country.  She busted through social and racial barriers as one of the earliest and bravest women motorcycle riders. She served as a civilian courier for the US Army during WWII, carrying documents between domestic army bases.  During the four years she worked for the Army, she crossed the United States eight times."

Riding a motorcycle is a pure enjoyment as well as an inexpensive and environmentally sound way to travel and commute. With cars prices beyond the means of many - a byproduct of an economy in despair - commuting by motorcycle has taken a preponderant role. 

Two wheelers stimulate the soul and nothing could be more pleasant to the eye than female bikers.  There's something to be said about the sexy nature in which a woman rides her motorcycle -particularly, if she rides with passion and exudes an air of confidence.  What a visual - a woman biker who makes her bike roar and takes the rapture of the road "Mano a Mano." To me, that is motorcycling to the extreme.  


Friday, June 1, 2012

The "Hitman" In Pursuit of the "Iron Man"

In the history of baseball, players with a prevalent fondness measure only a handful. There have been many great players, but only a few are standouts and are universally respected. Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken are two of these mainstay players with well-know reverence.

Jeter didn't get to this level without a healthy dose of resilience - especially, after his well-documented struggles in 2010 and 2011.  There was no shortage of conversation: Was he now a shell of a great player, who's becoming prone to injury and losing power? Was the latter part of 2010 and the first half of the 2011 season, a large enough sample to suggest jeter was done playing at an exceptional level?  Well, like all legendary players, he deserved the benefit of the doubt.  According to Elias, since returning from the DL on 7/14/11, Jeter has hit .333 with 73Rs, 25 doubles, 9HRs and 59RBIs in 118 games. Which, include a superb .420BA with 7HRs off left-handed pitching over the span.  He has hit safely in 41 of 49 games and leads the AL in hits with 71, ranks 4th in the AL with a .336 batting average, and owns the AL's highest average (.464) vs left-handed pitchers.  Put simply: Vintage.

Distant memories are the struggles as the captain continues to ascend the all-time MLB hit list.  He currently sits at number 14 on the list with 3,159 hits - 25 hits behind Cal Ripken, jr.  Back on 4/26, I tweeted the following:



At the time Jeter was bruising the baseball with a BA north of .380, and no one would have doubted my agressive forecast - I was close.  However, he's back to his human form batting .336 and averaging 1.45 hits per game.  So, with three days left to meet my projection, Jeter would have to drink rocket fuel to get 25 hits.  He's more aptly to pass his childhood idol at home vs the Atlanta Braves during a three game series in June (6/18 - 6/20).  

Soon Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter will share some great baseball history. First, on 9/11/09, Jeter collected his 2,722nd hit, moving him ahead of the "Iron Horse" to become the Yankees's all-time hits leader.  A tremendous feat, considering "Gehrig's record stood untouched for seven decades."  And, now Jeter is on the verge of passing Cal Ripken (3,184) as he climbs the latter to gain sole possession of 13th place on the all-time hit list.  Legendary: The modern day "Hitman" tops the "Iron Horse," and now in pursuit of the "The Iron Man."

Similar to Gehrig and Jeter (so far), Cal Ripken played his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles, and is considered one of the best players to ever play the game.  "Ripken was a departure from the prototypical shortstop of the time," and is ascribed with redefining the shortstop position - while transcending it. He's symbolized as baseball's all-time "Iron Man" for surpassing Lou Gehrig's record of consecutive games played (2,130), "deemed unbreakable by many."  His playing career - akin to Gehrig and Jeter - has earned him plenty of on-field accolades.  Chiefly, one of the game's greatest records of all time: Playing in more consecutive games (2,632) than any other player in history.  A genuine testament to his endurance, which bridged seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982, to September 20, 1998.  


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

When Does It Stop?



Playing baseball for the New York Yankees is a tremendous privilege; especially if one gets paid a busload of money for the honor.  In New York, respect is earned and it is not a right. And, of course - everyone has an opinion at the very least about the Yankees. Opinions about character assassination run rampant in New York - as well as being contemptuous.

For Alex Rodriguez, this is a normal day at the office.  Although, he has always displayed the required backbone for excellence and continues to work his tail off, he's denoted a choker and a swaggerer.  We have all heard the chinwag: Catcalls for his head on a bad play or a strikeout, resentment over his lofty contract, envy, and vogue for this season - annoyance for his pitiable performance with RISP (6 for 40 with 2HR and 12RBIs).  Now, lets have a look-see at two categories for his career.  With RISP he's batting a very respectful .298/.400/.539 with 154 HRs and 1,216 RBIs  and .346/.394/.697 with 22 Grand Slams with the bases full.  Not Bad! However, a great deal of fans continue to have selective amnesia, including the press as they pile on and overanalyze  his statements, modulate his success and constantly disparage him.

There are plenty of flies buzzing around the stadium lately, but we can't continue to censure and exile the unproductive.  We need to root for wins and provide a vote of confidence.  AROD's unrelenting supremacy may be gone, but he's not the only one to blame - It's a 25 man team.  It's understandable for all this to be fad in New York as he makes the most money, and as such - should have the biggest target ironed on his uniform.  The numbers: the Yankees are obligated to pay Alex $143 million with another $30 million in possible incentives.  Still, let's not forget the money remaining on the contracts of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter - over $300 million with possible incentives.  Not exactly pocket change.  Yet Alex must absorb all the heat.

Some are so dismayed at the notion that he's got a chance to top the HR and RBI records.  And, because of his admitted steroid use, he then, should be removed from any serious consideration to be mentioned alongside other baseball immortals: Aaron, Ruth, Mantle or Mays.  Perhaps, Alex should be relegated to complete obscurity?  C'mon?! What about the Ruth era, when players were notorious for drinking and gambling and the days of Mickey, Whitey and Billy - where liquor was a constant.

There is no debate about the poor showing so far this season for Rodriguez (.276/.369/.404 with 5 HR and 15 RBIs) - an unproductive beginning by AROD's standards. But, it's just not producing for him, his benchmark is so high that no matter what he does, it would never suffice New York.  How will his pinstripe legacy be defined? Who knows, but one thing is for sure: most will continue to disapprove and most sentiments about him will always be hurled outside the realm of goodwill.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last Dance

R.I.P.


Her sultry voice embodied and defined an era; "we should all get up and do a dance in her honor."


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Transforming Into A Catcher



In his short stint with the Yankees, Jesus Montero became one of my favorite players, and I was really hoping he would have a long and bright future at Yankee Stadium.  If we were to believe Brian Cashman and the Yankees' talent evaluators, Montero had a future with the team as a catcher.  Unfortunately, that was a hyped-up metaphor by Cashman to eventually induce a trade.


Out of the cleanup spot on Friday vs the Yankees, Montero went yard in the sixth inning - to a familiar destination: Right Field.  In his young career, he has 9 HRs in 190 ABs, which include 4HRs at Yankee Stadium - where he's batting .425/.521/.800.  And, even more impressive, in 33 ABs when going to the opposite field as a RHB, he is batting .394/.382/.879 with 5 HRs and 13 RBIs.  Prodigious results that are tailor-made for Yankee Stadium.  For Montero - as most would agree - hitting was not going to be a problem; particularly, hitting with power.  According to scouts: "He's a natural hitter with an advanced approach at the plate.  He has excellent hands and an amazing hand-eye coordination that enables him to square balls routinely."

However, there has been no shortage of disbelievers when it comes to his defense and many feel that he would not project well as a Major League catcher.  The Chatter:  Strong arm, but has a slow transfer and release when throwing to second base - a byproduct of messy footwork.  Baserunners will exploit this flaw to the hilt. He's a poor defender in most respects and has significant holes when blocking pitches (breaking balls) in the dirt. Which by the way...most young catchers have.  He doesn't have enough athletic ability to overcome the limitations that are caused by his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame and doesn't fit well in a crouch.  As a result, he will never be a full time catcher.

Don't count his manager - Eric Wedge - as one of Montero's skeptics.  Wedge "believes in the kid," and doesn't understanding or accepts the babble about his defense.  "There is a lot of demand with the catching position, and you have to respect that...you can't rush a 22 year old."

I'm not a talent evaluator and will never pretend to be, but the two games Montero caught at Yankee Stadium gave us a glimpse of a young player who has put in the necessary work to improve his defense - principally, with balls in the dirt.  There is no doubt he's continuing to work extremely hard to refine his defensive game and could gradually transform into an above average catcher.