Saturday, August 13, 2016

JUDGEment Day Has Come In The Bronx

JUDGEment day has finally come in the Bronx and I am lucky enough to have been able to attend this glorious day. I bought these tickets about 2 months ago because I really wanted to see Jeter, Rivera, Posada, and Pettite again. Little did I know the treat that I would be in for....

My day started off pretty peaceful until I got to the stadium at around 10:50am because I wanted to make sure I got in way before the ceremonies were planned to start at around 12:00pm. The lines of people waiting outside of the stadium to go in were something that I have never seen before. I have been to numerous playoff games, subway series games, and Yankee/Red Sox games but I have never seen lines this long. Gate 8 had the longest line by far and Gate 6 was just as bad which left me waiting around 15 minutes to get in at Gate 4 because for some reason the line there was much shorter.

As I got into the stadium I went straight to my seats because by then it was around 11:30am but once I got to my seats I could only stay there for about 10 minutes because the sun was so strong and it was so hot that I had to go stand under the shade until the 1996 ceremony started.

Surprisingly the ceremony did not start until around 12:30 which was a half an hour past the scheduled time which left me standing under the shade for about an hour. I feel like they were pressed for time mostly because they had a delayed start to the ceremony and then Michael Kay and John Sterling kept and talking and talking, no offense to either of those guys but I feel like most people didn't really care what they were saying.

First guy out was Posada and then I really didn't know much of the guys until Jeter came out and it felt like the stadium was about to explode. Then when Rivera came out and he passed by Jeter it was weird because they almost look identical to each other with the same skin color and the bald shiny heads. I'm kind of disapointed that nobody had the opportunity to speak but it was really cool to see guys like Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettite, Wetteland, Leyritz, Cone, Gooden, O'Neil, etc once again.

As the game started all I was really hoping was that Austin and Judge were able to get at least one hit each so that I could say I was there when they made their debuts and got their first hits. Oh what little did I know.... 

Lets cut to the Bottom of the 2nd inning, Tyler Austin works himself into a 2-2 count with 2 outs and I honestly was not expecting much from him in this situation. But the next pitch was a high fly ball to right field and it cleared the wall by about a foot right next to the pole and bounced right back onto the field and the crowd was going bonkers for the young Austin.

Next batter up was the 6'7 Aaron Judge, as he was walking to the batters box he looked like he was hungry to murder a baseball.... And that he did! On a 1-2 count he launches a home run 447 feet off of the batters eye in center field. The only thing I remember saying as the ball left the bat was "OH. MY. GOD" That was one of the furthest home runs I have ever seen hit. These kids are the future and I think management are finally starting to realize it.

Tanaka was rolling up until the top of the 4th inning when Brad Miller hit a 3-run homer to left field which put the crowd in a lull because now the Yanks were losing 3-2 now. But the Yankees fired back in the bottom of the 4th inning when Starlin Castro hit a home run to center field tying up the game 3-3.

Then in the bottom of the 5th inning the unthinkable happens, Aaron Hicks hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd deck of right field. I was in pure shock because that was the last thing I would expect Aaron Hicks to do, especially with men on 1st and 2nd. This would give the Yankees a 6-3 lead on a day where 2 of their top prospects are debuting. But it would be very short lived with Brad Miller hitting his second home run of the day in the top of the 6th cutting the Yankee lead to 2 with the score 6-4.

The Yankees home run barrage would finally end after a 2-run homer by Didi Gregorious which led to Tyler Clippard pitching a scoreless 8th inning and Tommy Layne ending the game in the 9th by pitching a scoreless 9th. 

Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin ended their MLB Debut by both going 2-4 and hitting a solo home run each. I'm really hoping that these two have found a way into the Yankees everyday starting lineup because they have definitely proved today that they can provide a spark to this team that the current veterans do not provide.

I was very pleased with my experience today getting to see Judge and Austin's first MLB hits/home runs. 

What do you think about these new rookies? Let me know in the comments

Follow Me On Twitter- @YankeesFan0504

Staten Island Yankees Send Three to All-Star Game

Solak, Bridges, Mahoney named New York-Penn League All-Stars

STATEN ISLAND- Three Staten Island Yankee players, Nick Solak, Drew Bridges and Kolton Mahoney, will represent the organization in the 2016 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Second baseman Nick Solak was the New York Yankees’ second round selection, 62nd overall, in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisville. Solak, a native of Woodridge, Ill., was named a 2016 Third-Team All-American byBaseball America after batting .376 with five home runs in 47 games at the Louisville. In his first professional season with Staten Island, Solak is batting .301 with three home runs, 15 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 39 games.

First and third baseman Drew Bridges is in his second season with Staten Island. Primarily a third baseman in 2015, Bridges played in 55 games, batting .211 with four home runs and 25 RBIs. The 2013 20th round pick has shown growth in 2016, adding a part-time role at first base while batting .308 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 22 RBIs in 43 games.

Pitcher Kolton Mahoney made a return to the Staten Island rotation in 2016, continuing his consistent success on the mound. After being drafted in 16th round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Brigham Young University, Mahoney helped lead the Staten Island to a McNamara Division title, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.29 ERA. In 2016, the Utah native is 4-3 with a 2.42 ERA and tossed a complete game shutout against the Auburn Doubledays on July 31.

Baby Bombers Arrive, Impress Honored '96 Champs, Lead Charge in Homerun Derby Route Over Rays, 8-4

On a sun drenched afternoon in Yankee Stadium, Yankee fans got to revisit the past and take a look at the future all in the same afternoon. Today, New York celebrated the 1996 World Championship team equipped with a phenomenal pregame ceremony that saw every member of that '96 team put on the pinstripes once again and report to their respective positions as their names were called over the loudspeaker by John Sterling and Michael Kaye. Each ovation grew in decibel level as the likes of Wade Boggs, Daryl Strawberry, David Cone. Andy Pettit, Tino Martinez, Jimmy Key and Paul O'Neill were called. But were a different kind of loud when the names of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre were announced. The scene took me back to being a 15-year-old clear-eyed kid again as I watched my heroes put on that beloved uniform one more time.

 A day after the Yankees released Alex Rodriguez, one of the most prolific sluggers in the history of baseball, New York also called up two very highly talented high ceiling prospects Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. And both players made huge introductions to both the '96 team and Yankee fans alike as the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay rays in what turned out to be a homerun derby of a game two. Ace Masahiro Tanaka took the bump for the Bronx Bombers and improved to 9-4 despite giving up two homeruns today. Matt Andriese took the ball for the Rays, falling to 6-4 while raising his ERA to 3.36 and a forgettable start for the righty, highlighted by serving up four longballs for the first time all season.

There could not have been a better way for the Yankees Youth Movement to start than how they did this afternoon. In the bottom of the second inning, the 2010 draft-pick Tyler Austin recorded his first major league homerun in his first at-bat in the Show, an opposite field big fly that cleared the wall in right and gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead. The very next batter was the other Baby Bomber making his MLB debut, Aaron Judge was not to be outdone by his Scranton teammate and co-call-up Austin, launching his first major league homerun on the first pitch he saw in HIS first major-league at-bat. Judge's blast was a 446 foot bomb to deep centerfield off the window of the restaurant in centerfield to push the Yankee lead to two. The long ball marked the first time in MLB history that a pair of teammates who were making their major league debuts hit homeruns in their first career at bats. I jumped around like we had just won the World Series and was so loudly excited after witnessing such a cool historical moment, that I woke my 2-year old son up from his afternoon nap… that part wasn't so cool.

Although Tanaka was perfect through the first three frames, the Fish got to the Yankee ace in the top of the fourth as they came back to take the lead. With one out, Kevin Kiermaier reached on a bunt single, advancing to third on a single by Yankee killer Evan Longoria. The next batter Brad Miller took a Tanaka high fastball over the wall in left for an opposite field three-run shot that gave the Rays a one run advantage.

But the Pinstripers did not stay down for long as they retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth. First, Starlin Castro belted a fourth inning solo homerun to dead center that knotted the game back up at three apiece. Then, Aaron Judge led off the fifth with a single, his second big league knock in as many at-bats, advancing to third on a Jacoby Ellsbury one-out single to centerfield. Today's two-hole hitter for New York, Aaron Hicks, followed up with a deep blast of his own into the seats in right that put the Yankees up by a 6-3 score.

In the top of the sixth, Tanaka was bitten by yet another Brad Miller mash, this one a solo shot that Miller pulled to right field that brought Tampa back to within two.

Even Didi Gregorius made some personal history today as he got in on the homerun derby in the bottom of the seventh. For the first time in his career, Gregorius was hitting in the cleanup spot, and played the part well as he went 2-4 with a seventh inning two run homer to right that scored Headley, who reached on a two-out walk, making the score 8-4. The longball was the fifth of the game hit by a player 26 years old or younger on the same team and in the same game, the fourth such occurrence in the history of the game. With that historical '96 Championship team in attendance, history seemed to be the word of the day.

Tommy Layne came on in the ninth inning and shut the door on any Tampa hopes of a comeback, tying the bow on a historical day in the Bronx; one that was what my son would call "WAY FUN" to watch!

With their win today, New York moved to four games over 500, tying their high watermark for the season. Break out the brooms tomorrow as the new look Yankees go for the three-game sweep in the final game tomorrow on Mariano Rivera Day, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM/EST.

My Earliest Memories of the 1996 Yankees

The New York Yankees will honor and remember the 1996 New York Yankees World Series championship team today in the Bronx before their game with the Tampa Bay Rays and after the whole Alex Rodriguez retirement game last night and then this ceremony today I’m feeling nostalgic. I was just a child when the 1996 Yankees shocked the world and there were a lot of things I didn’t know, it was a simpler time for me, but there are quite a few things that I remember. I wanted to share those things with you today as a way to honor those warriors that brought home that World Series trophy back to the Bronx now 20 seasons ago.

Until November of 1996 I was just 10-years old so you can imagine that I didn’t get caught up too much in the whole “Clueless Joe” drama, the Derek Jeter shouldn’t be starting at shortstop questions and I didn’t know much about George Steinbrenner, why he had been suspended and how long he had been back. I didn’t know who Gene “Stick” Michaels was and I didn’t get too tore up when Buck Showalter was shown the door. I didn’t get into the stuff that now keeps my busy four-to-five hours a day, all I cared about was the game and who won. Like I said, a simpler time. I hadn’t been watching baseball long in 1996. I routinely watched growing up because my family watched but it was for a few innings at a time and then something else would grab my attention but I started watched religiously, 100+ games a season and 9 innings or more at a time, during the 1994 season when I was just 8-years old. I was completely heartbroken and confused when the World Series was cancelled but to be completely honest I didn’t know it at the time.

I can remember watching the 1995 Yankees and their trip to the playoffs and I hoped for more of the same in 1996. I can remember watching Derek Jeter make plays at shortstop and just go “wow” and I can remember seeing players like Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams and wanting to be like them. I can also remember, as I played shortstop for my entire Little League career and throughout my entire amateur career, counting the years and seeing how old I would be when Jeter turned 40-years old to see if I could be the next Yankees shortstop. I was completely engulfed by the team and the team didn’t let me down often.

I can remember staying up far later than I should have and far later than I was allowed to watching and listening to games (that glare off the TV was a dead giveaway when I was supposed to be sleeping so I quickly switched to the radio with headphones route during the weekdays) throughout that postseason and all the way to the World Series. That World Series was kind of special for me because my mom had moved down to Metro Atlanta, Georgia a few years prior so as a 10-year old kid I thought it was awesome that the state I was living in and the state my mother was living in were facing off against each other in the World Series. When the Yankees fell down 2-0 to those same Atlanta Braves I was worried sick. I wasn’t always the eternal optimist that I am now but Andy Pettitte may have put that confidence back in me during this series, especially in his Game 5 duel with John Smoltz.

I can remember telling my family that the Yankees would sweep in Atlanta and that they only wanted to lose in New York so they could finish the series at home in front of their home crowd. Little did I know how right I would be. It wasn’t an easy trip to get there and it required some clutch hitting by Jim Leyritz, Derek Jeter and others but the point was we got there. I never predicted Wade Boggs riding around on horseback after winning the World Series but I always kind of took credit for that as a running joke in our household. I can remember the Yankees became my example of greatness and of winning and I can remember Joe Torre’s Yankees being my example growing up of class and dignity. I can remember that World Series shaping my fandom for years to come. I can remember that World Series making me the man and writer that I am today in a weird, roundabout way.

The dynasty started here and my need and will to win at any and all costs started 20 seasons ago. Now as I sit here a father and still a fan I want to share that with my children. I want my son to watch his first season of baseball watching Clint Frazier, Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo leading a key cast of characters all the way to the World Series. I want him to feel like the good luck charm that I felt like as a 10-year old boy sitting in my living room watching the Yankees win game after game. I want another dynasty. That’s what I can remember from the 1996 Yankees, it was the beginning of everything for me. What can you remember?

Game Thread: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays 8/13

I know I’ve said it many times before but I only repeat myself when I truly mean it or truly want to get a point across. There is nothing better on a warm Saturday afternoon than to either sit in the bleachers or sit at home in front of the air conditioner to watch the New York Yankees play a baseball game. Call me bias and call me a homer if you want but that’s just my opinion and that’s exactly what a blog is for. In this afternoon’s contest the New York Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to square off with the Rays starter Matt Andriese. The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV.

Follow along all season long by liking us on Facebook or by giving our Twitter account @GreedyStripes a follow. We’ll be here all season long no matter who retires or what the standings say. We were never big on math anyway so we watch until Game 162 is over no matter what. Won’t you join us?

Happy Tanaka Day ladies and gentleman. Go Yankees!

The Yankees Decision to Forego Tommy John Surgery w/ Masahiro Tanaka. Good Idea or Bad Idea?

When the New York Yankees decided to sign Masahiro Tanaka out of Japan a couple years back I doubt there were many Yankees fans that were happier than I was. I loved the idea of not only getting greedy and getting the top pitching arm on the free agent market but I also loved the fact that he was young, dominant and from Japan. See the Yankees had seemingly shied away from Japanese pitchers after the Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa debacles and for them to jump back into the pool and jump in face first into the deep end made me happy. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I learned that Tanaka had a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right throwing elbow, usually a diagnosis like this is followed by the need for Tommy John surgery, and you can imagine how cautiously optimistic, yet extremely skeptical, I was when the team announced they would try a rest and rehab program rather than going under the knife. We are now almost two full seasons removed from that decision giving us enough of a sample size to determine whether the Yankees made the right choice avoiding the knife or if they should have went ahead and got the surgery done. 

I will preface any talk of Tanaka with the fact that every elbow is different, every tear is different and every injury is different. I only use comparisons in this post to show a similarity and possibility that the decision to not undergo surgery could have been the right one. With that said I just want to remind everyone that Ervin Santana had a similar diagnosis and has never required the surgery, the same can be said for the Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez who also pitches with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. One pitcher who eventually had the surgery, but it wasn’t until years later, was Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals so it’s not like the Yankees just flew by the seat of their pants on this decision, especially considering five doctors including the team doctor and Tommy John specialist Dr. James Andrews suggested the rehab program. 

All that and a buck buys you a coke if Tanaka doesn’t pitch well but thankfully for the Yankees he has done just that. Heading into his start today Tanaka has posted the following stat line in his Major League career via Baseball Reference: 

2015 26 12 7 3.51 24 24 1 154.0 126 66 60 25 27 139 114 3.98 0.994 7.4 1.5 1.6 8.1
2016 27 8 4 3.32 23 23 0 146.1 136 61 54 14 27 120 127 3.33 1.114 8.4 0.9 1.7 7.4
Do those stats look like the stats of a pitcher who is holding back and nursing an injury to his elbow? If so can you imagine how good he would be if he had undergone the surgery? Which I will also warn you of the fact that no surgery is 100%, see Ryan Madson as a recent example of pitchers who struggle for years to come back from what many fans think is a routine surgery. Every elbow is different, every ligament is different and every injury is different. The rehab program will work for some, and in my opinion has worked for Tanaka, but for others it won’t. That’s life and that’s baseball but I think, for now anyway, we can finally put the rest the debate of whether the Yankees made the right decision or not skipping the surgery. It looks like they did make the right decision and the team, and Tanaka himself, are benefiting from it. 

Tyler Austin Not Alone in Making MLB Debut

It was reported last night during Alex Rodriguez's final game with the Yankees that Tyler Austin would be called up to take his roster spot. Which got plenty of fans, including myself, excited as not only has Tyler fought so hard to get to MLB but it also was another step towards the future.

Lo and behold, that wasn't the only move to come.

Just not the lineup for tonight's game came out, and not only does it have Austin penciled in at first base, but the right fielder will be none other than Aaron Judge!

Edit: Ben Heller has been optioned back to AAA, while Conor Mullee has been placed on the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

Game Preview: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays 8/13

Game one post Alex Rodriguez. Game One AA. Here we go, a new chapter begins this afternoon as the New York Yankees welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to the Bronx for their first game since the 2004 season without Alex Rodriguez being an active member on the team. Yes I realize there were years he was suspended for steroids or injured that made him technically not active but just go with it, it’s Saturday. In this afternoon matchup the Yankees will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound on his normal spot in the rotation while the Rays will counter with Matt Andriese.

Tanaka heads into this start with the Rays fresh off a victory after logging back-to-back losses, the first time this has happened to the Yankees ace all season. Tanaka pitched well in his last start though to turn things around striking out eight Cleveland Indians batters in a victory but those two consecutive losses before that still scare you. Especially considering that Tanaka pitched poorly in both starts.

Andriese has been stretching himself out after being in the bullpen earlier this season and has been on a strict pitch count the last two contests but will be ready to go as long as the Rays need him tonight. Hopefully the Yankees offense makes it another short night for Andriese.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET inside beautiful Yankee Stadium and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. It seems like a forgone conclusion at the time of this writing that Nathan Eovaldi will not be able to make his start tomorrow as scheduled so we may see the return of Luis Severino tomorrow on normal rest or we may get to see Chad Green tomorrow and Severino on Monday an extra day of rest. One game at a time though, go Yankees!

Weekly Prospects Check In: Tyler Austin

The time has come ladies and gentleman to usher in a new generation of players to the New York Yankees now that Alex Rodriguez has officially been released from his contract unconditionally and will no longer be in uniform for the club. What a bittersweet night last night was. While it was bittersweet for some and presumably awful for Alex to not go out on your own terms you have to think that players like Tyler Austin are quietly sitting in the corner fist pumping like crazy now that he, Aaron Judge, Ben Gamel, Clint Frazier and others will get a shot at the show.

Here is what Austin has done down at Triple-A since taking over the first base duties which goes to show you that if anyone deserved a call up and deserved to take Alex’s spot, it was him. Enjoy and Happy Saturday. 


This Day In New York Yankees History 8/13: RIP Mickey Mantle

Orlando Hernandez came to the New York Yankees after defecting from his native country of Cuba and had an immediate impact on the Bronx Bombers. Hernandez burst onto the scene in 1998 and set a new Yankees rookie record on this day in 1998 when he struck out his 13th batter of the game. Hernandez broke a 30 year old Yankee rookie record when he struck out Mark McLemore to end the eight inning of a 2-0 victory of the Texas Rangers. Hernandez passed Stan Bahnsen's record of 12 strikeouts as a rookie in his 1968 Rookie of the Year season for the American League.

It is also interesting that Hernandez would only reach the 13 K mark one more time in his career.

Also on this day in 1995 the day turned somber as Mickey Mantle passed away at age 63. Mantle lost his battle with liver cancer and passed away at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas with his wife Merlyn at his side.

The Cleveland Indians were in town on this day in 1995 and their lead off hitter that year was Kenny Lofton. Lofton wore the #7 jersey so the entire pregame at Yankee Stadium the Yankees scoreboard ironically displayed "At Bat: 7."