Saturday, August 26, 2017

Alex Rodriguez’s Return to Baseball?

Holy clickbait, Batman! Both here and by Alex Rodriguez on his Instagram account. On Alex’s Instagram account, the Yankees former third baseman and DH in case you’re new to the universe, Alex posted a video of him and his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez working out, presumably in their home. Alex captioned the video with “Comeback???” Later on in the post you could tell that this was an obvious joke and that he was just showing him and his Bronx-born girlfriend working out but I figured let’s have a little fun with it anyway here on the blog and get everyone excited about the man they call A-Rod pulling a Bernie Mac in Mr. 3000 and making a comeback.

Did I have you going? Check out the video. Alex is doing pushups, both with and without J-Lo on his back, and Lopez is seen dancing on the video to “Hypnotize” by the Notorious B.I.G. It’s worth a watch or two. Enjoy!

Miguel Cabrera and Austin Romine Have Nothing on These Yankees Fights

Believe it or not the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers played a baseball game on Thursday afternoon. I know that was hard to see in between all the fighting and with the benches clearing and all but they did. No one will talk about the Yankees loss on that day but they will instead talk about the incident of Gary Sanchez getting plunked, then Miguel Cabrera getting plunked which led to Cabrera and Yankees catcher Austin Romine throwing blows. The brawl was intense, although Sanchez’s timing in throwing a punch when he is hitting so well and with the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race can be debated back-and-forth all weekend if you want, but in my opinion this brawl didn’t have anything on the brawls and fights I am prepared to show you below.

On August 2, 1973 the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees sparked the rivalry that would go on for years to come. I mean these two teams have always been rivals but it was incidents like this that really made the rivalry what it is today. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth inning at Fenway Park the Yankees third baseman Thurman Munson charged home from third base on an attempted squeeze play. Gene Michael ended up missing the bunt attempt and Munson simply ran over Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, something his Boston teammates did not take a liking to. Benches cleared, punches were thrown and a rivalry was sparked. Again.

On May 20, 1976 the Yankees and the Red Sox went blow for blow both in the box score and literally on the field. Lou Piniella rounded third in the sixth inning against the Red Sox and when he saw the throw was going to beat him he simply lowered his shoulder and barreled into Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. Piniella grabbed hold of Fisk’s chest protector as the two wrestled in the dirt before Fisk landed a right hook on Piniella. Graig Nettles was also seen punching left-handed pitcher Bill Lee in the face from Boston before cooler heads prevailed and the fight was broken up. Rivalry…. Renewed.

The brawl between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees may have been the first brawl I think I ever witnessed live and in person. It was May 19, 1998 and Orioles fire-baller Armando Benitez was on the mound. I remember this because my favorite player at the time, Tino Martinez, was at the plate when he got plunked with a fastball right in the middle of the back in the first pitch Benitez threw after Bernie Williams hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Benitez was immediately tossed out of the game but that didn’t pacify Daryl Strawberry, Chad Curtis, Jeff Nelson or Graeme Lloyd as everyone charged the mound and the playing field after the incident. Strawberry had to be restrained by teammates as Benitez backed up and ended up falling into the Orioles dugout. Graeme Lloyd was seen throwing haymakers at Benitez and many Yankees and Orioles were ejected for doing the same in what will probably go down as one of the best fights in Major League Baseball history.

Remember that time Pedro Martinez picked on a 72-year old man and bench coach named Don Zimmer like a pussy cat? I do, and call me bias but I will never forget it because of that incident. Martinez had thrown at Karim Garcia earlier in the game so Roger Clemens responded by throwing up and in, not at because he was never hit, at Manny Ramirez which incited a brawl between the two clubs. Can’t the Yankees and Red Sox get along? Now I’ll be fair and point out that Zimmer did charge Martinez but Pedro did not have to grab him by the head and throw him aside. Also I will be fair and state that in his autobiography that Martinez did say “in my entire baseball career, my reaction to Zimmer’s charge is my only regret” but still. It’s Pedro Martinez and it’s the Red Sox, to hell with the Red Sox and to hell with Pedro. The Yankees did walk off against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS that season, the Aaron Boone off Tim Wakefield home run, so I guess they got the last laugh here.

Can anyone forget the Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek incident on July 24, 2004 at Fenway Park? I know I will never. Bronson Arroyo hit Alex and Rodriguez had his say on the matter as he was slowly walking towards first base. Varitek, the Red Sox catcher, didn’t like Alex mouthing “f*** you” to his pitcher and shoved Alex in the face with both his hands which prompted a wrestling match between the two and resulted in both benches clearing. This was Alex’s first season in Yankees pinstripes and was a true introduction into the rivalry after nearly being traded to the Red Sox the offseason prior. The Red Sox reversed the curse of the Bambino in 2004 though so I guess who laughs last laughs best, or something like that.

And I’ll end this post like this. How many of you think Miguel Cabrera would have stepped to the Yankees catcher after getting hit if that were Gary Sanchez back there? I don’t think he would have, and if he had then in my opinion he is a moron and deserved to get knocked out. Period. But that’s only if you ask me my opinion.

Yonder Alonzo & The Trade Never Made...

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Mariners 2, Yankees 1...

I was surprised when the Sonny Grade trade last month did not include first baseman Yonder Alonzo.  The Yankees had been so closely connected to both players, but Chase Headley's play after the switch to first had softened the need for a first baseman.  I've never trusted Headley to sustain his production and felt that the Yankees should have made the deal for Alonzo, especially after losing out on Lucas Duda.  The Yankees didn't make the deal and the Seattle Mariners swooped in and grabbed him from the Oakland A's.  The move paid dividends for the Mariners when Alonzo provided the game-winning home run off Aroldis Chapman last night as the M's sent the Yankees to their second consecutive loss.

For the Yankees, the old problem of missing scoring opportunities re-surfaced.  They loaded the bases a few times yet had no runs to show for it.

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

The Mariners threatened to score in the 2nd and 3rd innings against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, but he was able to emerge unscathed both times.  In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees loaded the bases on three walks with only one out.  Aaron Hicks flied out to left but it wasn't deep enough to score a run.  Gary Sanchez came up and blasted a high fly that sounded like a home run but left fielder Ben Gamel caught it on the warning track.  Oh, if it could have only traveled a few feet further.  It was a huge missed opportunity.

In the top of the 4th, the Mariners scored the game's first run when Mike Zunino blasted a home run to left, a solo shot.  It's where I wish that El Gary's shot could have landed the previous inning. The Yankees re-loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning.  Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch in his back as he attempted to turn away so he took first base.  Starlin Castro doubled to right with the ball bouncing to the wall.  Didi Gregorius was held at third. With two outs, Chase Headley walked to fill the bases, but Todd Frazier went down swinging to end the inning.  Sad face for me.

The game progressed into the latter innings with the Yankees unable to scratch out any runs M's starter Ariel Miranda and the Seattle bullpen until the 8th inning.  Former Yankee reliever David Phelps took the mound in the 8th and walked Aaron Judge with one out.  Didi Gregorius followed with a double to left center. Guillermo Heredia bobbled the stop and it gave Judge the time to score.  The game was tied.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press
A base running gaffe cost the Yankees for potentially more runs.  Starlin Castro hit a grounder to short and Didi aggressively broke for third.  A great play if he had been safe, but third baseman Kyle Seager was able to apply the tag for the out.  Two subsequent walks loaded the bases, but like the 4th inning, Todd Frazier struck out...again.  

Dellin Betances took over in the 9th and the Mariners almost blew the game open.  Kyle Seager walked, and Mike Zunino doubled to left down the line to the corner.  Seager was given the stop sign at third.  Yonder Alonzo, pinch-hitting for Guillermo Heredia, drew a walk to load the bases.  There was only one out.  Following a visit by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Betances got Ben Gamel to pop up in foul territory for the second out.  Robinson Cano entered the game as pinch-hitter for Taylor Motter but he struck out on three pitches.  Betances had worked his way out of trouble. 

David Robertson held the M's in the top of the 10th, allowing only a meaningless single.  Aroldis Chapman took over in the 11th inning and it looked good for two batters.  Both Mitch Haniger and Mike Zunino grounded out so Chapman only needed one more out.  Yonder Alonzo, with a swing that would have looked great in pinstripes or at least these funkly little league looking uniforms, destroyed a Chapman pitch over the center field wall into Monument Park.  The M's had taken a one run lead.

Mariners closer Edwin Diaz took over for reliever James Pazos in the bottom of the 11th.  After two quick outs (the second a deep fly to the warning track in left by Todd Frazier), Brett Gardner worked a walk.  He attempted to steal second and was called out on the field, with the Mariners thinking they won the game, but the Yankees challenged.  Upon further review, Gardy was ruled safe as his hands reached the bag before the tag.  There was brief hope but Aaron Hicks struck out to end the game.  Not A-A-Ron's finest moment...

Credit:  Paul J Bereswill-NY Post

This was yet another very disappointing loss.  The Yankees could have shaved two games off the AL East deficit the last two days but they've failed to take advantage of Red Sox losses.  The Yankees (68-59) remain 4 1/2 games behind Boston.  The Baltimore Orioles beat, or should I say crushed, the Red Sox, 16-3.  The Tampa Bay Rays beat the St Louis Cardinals, 7-3, so the Rays and O's remain tied for third place, trailing the Yankees by 5 1/2 games.  The Mariners were able to close the Wild Card gap with the Yankees to three games.  The Yankees still lead the Wild Card chase, but the Minnesota Twins picked up a game with their 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.  They trail the Yanks by 2 1/2 games.  

It was a very strong game for CC Sabathia.  He pitched seven innings for the no-decision, giving up only five hits, a walk, and one run.  He struck out six.  Aroldis Chapman (4-3) took the loss.  His season ERA is now 4.23.  

Hopefully the Yankees can shake out of the RISP doldrums today but they never seem to give Sonny Gray any run support.  Today is as good as any to change that.  

Odds & Ends...

Prior to yesterday's game, the Yankees reinstated 2B Starlin Castro from the DL and optioned little used 2B/SS Tyler Wade to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Although Wade looked starstruck early on, his lack of play had more to do with the terrific performance of Ronald Torreyes. But for everything that Toe's done, I am glad to have Castro back on the field.  Too bad for Wade that his last MLB memory (at least for now) is the fight-marred game in Detroit.  

Today, the Yankees activated first baseman Greg Bird.  He's in the lineup and will bat sixth.  Tyler Austin is the unlucky odd man out as he heads for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Major League Baseball issued a release yesterday regarding the suspensions and fines as a result of Thursday's brawl in Detroit:

I've heard screams about no suspensions for Michael Fulmer, Dellin Betances or Tommy Kahnle, but honestly, I felt there was reasonable doubt about the intentions of both Fulmer and Betances.  Perhaps Kahnle should have been suspended for not hitting Miguel Cabrera!

The suspensions are currently being appealed by all (hoping for reduced penalties).

Joe Girardi has indicated the Yankees will attempt to stagger the suspensions since they do not currently have any other catchers on the MLB active roster and the only other catcher on the 40-man roster (Kyle Higashioka) is on the DL. It's unfortunate that someone will lose their 40-man roster spot out of the need for a temporary catcher.

Have a great Saturday!  Let's All Rise for Victory!  Go Yankees!

Let the Battle for Shohei Otani Begin

Like the title of the post says, let the battle for Shohei Otani begin. As we inch closer to September baseball and then the end of the 2017 season we also inch closer to Otani possibly leaving behind millions of dollars to come to the Major Leagues from the Japanese League a two years early. If Otani decides to come over, and many reports say that he will including a report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees are ready to bid, and bid big too.

According to FanRag Sports the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for holding the biggest allotments currently in their respective international spending pools. Both teams started with $4.75 million when the signing period opened on July 2 and both have obtained an extra $3.25 million according to the report giving each team $8 million to spend on international free agents.

If the Nippon Ham Fighters allow Otani to leave early the team will receive $20 million in a posting fee and all signs point to both the Yankees and Red Sox, among other teams around the league, being heavily involved in the talks and extremely interested in acquiring his services. This won’t be the first time the Yankees and Red Sox have battled it out for a free agent, or on the field as we will learn a little later today, and it won’t be the last but this one could have the most consequences for both clubs if they fail to sign him. Otani is that special and seemingly a once-in-a-lifetime type talent as both a hitter and as a pitcher.

The Texas Rangers ($2 million), the Atlanta Braves ($1.25 million), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($1 million), and the New York Mets ($1 million) have also acquired international money this season presumably to make a run at Otani so this could be a very interesting set of negotiations this winter if and when Otani announced his intention to come to the states. Stay tuned. 

So it Seems… Mayweather v. McGregor

Today is the day ladies and gentleman that undefeated boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather takes on UFC star and champion Conor McGregor. Who ya got?

Me personally I find it hard to bet against Mayweather and that’s only because of the Manny Pacquiao fight. If that fight taught us anything it is that Mayweather doesn’t have to be dominant or even all that good to win a fight, not a boxing match anyway. This is exactly what I think is going to happen. Mayweather is going to dance around, jab and run for about five-or-six rounds. Just long enough for McGregor to get frustrated and start chasing him wanting to make something happen and then Conor is going to get tagged. Lights out, game over.

Conor used to be a boxer but he isn’t much of a boxer anymore. If you don’t believe that than I have two words for you… Nate Diaz. Diaz cleaned McGregor’s clock more than once and he did it by boxing. McGregor doesn’t stand a chance unless he catches Mayweather getting cocky or arrogant and catches him with a punch. Anyone can be caught at any time, even Mayweather.

I know it’s not the pick that everyone wanted to see but that’s just how I see the fight going down. It won’t be Miguel Cabrera vs. the Yankees but it will be entertaining nonetheless. Enjoy it and enjoy the weekend!

Especially you. I’m missing you. HEY YOU. I love you Kari. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 8/26: MLB TV is Born!

This day in Yankees history in 2002 was quite the day for New York players and fans as we were treated to a trio of historic events. First and foremost fans were finally able to watch the Yankees on their computers as MLBTV was born on Sixty three years after the first Major League Baseball game was televised the first live video streaming game took place on the internet. The New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers would face off in a game that approximately 30,000 fans saw on and also 42,000 fans saw at Yankee Stadium.

In the Yankees 10-3 victory over Texas Alfonso Soriano hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to set a new team record for home runs by a second baseman. Soriano's 31st home runs passed Joe Gordon's previous mark of 30 home runs by a second baseman hit in 1940. Also on this day Derek Jeter became only the third player to score at least 100 runs in his first seven major league seasons. The Yankees captain joins Ted Williams (Red Sox) and Earle Combs (Yankees) as the only other two big leaguers to begin their careers with 100 runs scored in seven straight seasons.

What a day for Yankees fans and players alike.

Also on this day in 1991 the Yankees reluctantly agreed to a signing bonus with first overall pick Brien Taylor. Taylor agreed to a $1.55 million contract at age 19 at the dismay of suspended owner George Steinbrenner. This came two days after Steinbrenner told the media that "if they (Gene Michael) let him (Taylor) go, they ought to be shot."

Talk about bidding against yourself.