Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recap: Yankees 2, Pirates 1

Esmil Rogers tossed two scoreless innings and Tyler Austin broke a 1-1 tie with a solo shot in the eighth as the Yankees beat the Pirates, 2-1, Thursday afternoon in Bradenton.

Rogers Shines in Spring Debut: Rogers probably won't be in the Yankees' rotation come April, but at least in this game, the youngster looked impressive. In total, Rogers gave up just one hit on the day --  recording no walks and a strikeout. 

Whitley Makes Strong Case for Roster Spot: After Rogers was taken out, fellow bullpen candidate Chase Whitley too kept Pittsburgh off the board for a pair of frames -- solidly surrendering just two singles in the third and fourth innings. He, like Rogers, walked none and struck out one -- inducing two flyouts and a groundout. 

Bench Contributions: Chris Young and Garrett Jones are two of the more likely guys to make the Yankees' bench this season, and if they do indeed, their performances in this exhibition were definitely good signs. Young went 1-for-3 and Jones 2-for-2 in this victory -- with Jones driving home a run with a double in the fifth. 

Austin Takes Over: Besides hitting a long home run to left off Deolis Guerra in the eighth to give the Yankees the lead, Austin also threw the would-be go-ahead run out at home in this one's bottom of the sixth -- gunning down Jaff Decker at the plate after he tried to score on a knock by Deibinson Romero. 

Starter Stats: Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were the only Yankees starters in the lineup for this contest, and for the second time since Tuesday, neither managed to get a hit. Ellsbury went 0-for-3 and Gardner 0-for-1 with two walks -- both coming within the first three innings.

Next Up: The Yankees will split the squad Friday when they visit the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET and host the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. ET, meetings in which two more of their possible major-league arms will be given the nod. Bryan Mitchell is expected to go against Cole Hamels when the Yanks and Phils take the field in Clearwater, and Chris Capuano is set to matchup with the Pirates' Jeff Locke later in the evening. 

My Thoughts on the Noah Syndergaard Situation

Noah Syndergaard has been the talk of the town the past couple of days on sports talk radio, the news, blogs, etc. after taking a lunch break during an intrasquad game in spring training. Boomer and Carton talked about it for what felt like an hour yesterday morning so I feel compelled to leave you with my thoughts on the 22 year old's “lack of judgment.”

First and foremost you don’t nickname a guy “Thor” and expect him to not have an appetite. Syndergaard broke a team rule by eating lunch during a game… an intrasquad game… during spring training. This may sound a lot like “practice? You talking about practice man?” but the same principal applies here. I thought things were pretty relaxed, laid back and not generally taken too seriously at this stage of the game. If that were the case then why can games end in a tie in the Grapefruit League?

Enough about Syndergaard, more on the captain of the Mets David Wright. Call me spoiled and call me bias but if this happened in the Yankees clubhouse under the Derek Jeter era we would have never heard about it. We also would have never had articles stating that Jeter, the CAPTAIN of the team, threw out a teammate’s lunch to “send a message.” That sounds an awful lot like bullying to me and awfully childish. The reports state that Bobby Parnell physically took the plate and threw it away but still, this is bullying and this is crap.

Syndergaard messed up, rookie mistake, but Wright and Parnell messed up more. This stuff, especially as a captain, never needs to get out to the media and it never needs to be handled in this way. This isn’t High School and Syndergaard won’t fit in a locker or a trash can because he won’t give you his chocolate milk so stop treating him like a child. But hey, it is the Mets we’re talking about here. What a joke. 

Spring Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Pittsburgh Pirates

The opening game jitters that come with the first game of Spring Training are gone and the return of Alex Rodriguez is now in the rearview mirror. It’s now time for the grind that is almost seven weeks of Spring Training and Grapefruit League play for the New York Yankees.

This afternoon marks Game Three of that grind when the New York Yankees travel to face off with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Esmil Rogers will be making his spring debut for the Yankees as he may or may not be trying to win his spot in the starting rotation as the fifth starter.

Tune into the game if you can but unfortunately I’ll be at work. Who thought it was a good idea to make Spring Training games all 1:05 pm ET start times? Not I, said Sam. 

Introducing BetaBall: Part Two

We're back with the second part of our introduction to a new sport called BetaBall. Hopefully you guys enjoyed the first part of this series and will enjoy this one as well, and if you don't please let me know and I will scrap the idea. Without further delay here is part two of the BetaBall introduction as we wait for the Yankees to take the field in Bradenton before facing off with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Key rule in Phase One BetaBall:

Start today on any hardball or softball field in the world.

·         When the bases are empty and a batter is OUT by strike-out, ground out, fly out, line drive, caught foul ball; or pick-off at any base, the fielding team has the opportunity to score a Defensive Point.   The play is extended after the OUT is declared requiring the out batter or picked-off runner to immediately proceed to run all the bases (or remaining bases in case of a force out or double play ball or pick-off) and touch home plate BEFORE all the players on the field have handled the ball and returned it to the catcher at home plate. In that frantic 8 -16 seconds, the batter can AVOID a defensive point by reaching home plat before all the field players have handled the ball.  But if all the field players do handle the ball and get it home before the batter or runner; then the defensive field team is awarded a Defensive Point. Defensive points accumulate and convert into runs.

·         A throwing arc painted on the outfield surface defines the zone the outfielders must occupy when their team is attempting to win a defensive point. They must catch and throw from beyond the arc.

·         For long fly outs or foul outs beyond the throwing arc, only the outfielders (and perhaps 1 cut-off infielder) need to touch the ball before throwing it to home plate.
·         Defensive points SCORED by the field team accumulate and convert into runs at agreed benchmarks set by the League …. Perhaps 5, 6, or 7 defensive points will convert to 1 run. A league office will determine this threshold.

Defensive point situations:
1.    Strike out or foul tip caught.  Batter immediately starts a 14-18 second circuit around the bases. All defensive field players must handle the ball and throw to home before the batter gets there to be awarded a defensive point.  If the batter gets home before all players handle the ball, then his team avoids a defensive point.

2.    Pop up, line drive, or ground ball to the infield  All 9 fielding players must handle the ball.

3.    Foul ball out within the OTA arc. All 9 players must handle the ball

4.    Long fly out or foul out to the outfield beyond the OAT arc. Only the 3 outfielders and catcher must handle the ball to be awarded a defensive point.  Sometimes a cut off infielder may be used to get the ball to home plate if the outfielders are near the outfield wall.

5.    A force-out or double play ball and both runners are out with no other runners ahead of the out-base runners; then all 9 players must handle the ball to get a defensive point.

6.    Fair ball hit as a double play ball and only the lead runner is out (normally at second base) with no other runners ahead of them. All 9 players must handle the ball.

7.    A pick-off at any base when there are no other runners ahead of the pick-off victim.

For example, in a hit-less inning without a base on balls, at least 3 defensive points are possible. Once there is a runner on any base, no defensive points are possible until the next inning.  Only when there is a home run will defensive points again become possible in that inning.

The option is a dual award system where total defensive points count for 1 point in league standings; and total runs count for another point.

Start today on any hardball or softball field in the world. Get a dozen small plastic garden markers and plant them each 200 feet from home plate (OTA) A temporary throwing arc.

Scoring:   Coaches, you have at least 2 scoring options when introducing BetaBall to your league.
1.    Assign two points for every game in the league standings. Award 1 point to the team scoring the most pure runs on offence; and another point for the team who achieves the most defensive points (DP)
2.    Test a league rule that converts each  5 defensive point (DP) into a run and the team with the combined score wins all 2 points.

Rule Options for Converting to Full BetaBall

Full BetaBall is a team sport with 9 players, 9 innings, similar playing field, similar skill sets, and same equipment as traditional baseball.  The game is still a demonstration of 5 basic skills …….  running, fielding, hitting, catching, and throwing.  But for BetaBall, we use:
Enlarged strike zone. 18.5 inches wide and + 34 inches long. Expanded.
3 balls to walk;

Electronic pitch calling with overhead and side electronic cameras.

Touch not tag at home plate.

Batters must stay in the batter’s box;

Designated hitters;

Intentional walk on request;  No 4 pitches.

Time clock between pitches; About 20 seconds

2 warm up pitches for relievers from the bull pen;

Limited visits to the mound;

Plate umpires are 50% ceremonial and 100% theatre.

A running swath 3.5 meters wide protects runners as they dash the bases.

90mph is the maximum pitching speed. Fewer blown arms.


Runner Swath:  In DPP situations, the batter / runner cannot deviate from a 3.5 meter (12 ft. ) wide invisible  “swath” while rounding the bases. Fielders must avoid this swath because if the batter /runner can touch either the ball or a fielder within the swath, the DP opportunity is automatically avoided.

Outfield Throwing Arc:  In BetaBall , a throwing arc (OTA) is painted on the surface of the outfield and all outfielders must remain beyond the arc during a DPP to catch a ball from the “infield horn” or to throw the final DP ball to the catcher. All points on the arc are equidistant from home plate and this distance may vary according to the age or skill level of the players; little league to college to professional to senior leagues ….. hardball and softball.

Home Plate:  The home plate dimensions change to avoid collisions on DPP situations.  The catcher need not tag the runner. Home plate has a hinged front edge or be layered and the top layer attached to the bottom layer by tongue and groove. The umpire manually extends the plate when a DPP is under way. The catcher “owns” the front part of the plate; while runner “owns” the rear part to touch the plate. No tag necessary.

To repeat, in DPP situations in which the bases are empty and the batter is “out” by strike-out, line drive, fly ball out, ground out, foul tip, foul ball caught, or a base runner is picked-off; then the batter or runner must immediately run and tag the remaining bases and touch home plate before each defensive player has handled and touched the ball. This will avoid a DP.

In DPP routines, the first baseman usually handles the ball first and the catcher last. Most balls will go “around the horn” and then be thrown to the outfield culminating in a long throw to the catcher. The outfield throw to home plate is the most exciting play in BetaBall as well as in baseball. BetaBall will showcase at least 40 of these throws per game.
In BetaBall is the Defensive Point Play (DPP) comes into effect when a new batter comes to the plate and there are no base runners. 

Sample DPP situations in a typical 9 inning game are as follows:
1.    The lead-off batter in each inning:
Team A          9 batters                     Team B          9 batters
2.    The second batter in each inning. (Assume a team batting average of .333)
Team A          6 batters                     Team B          6 batters
3.    The third batter in each inning.   (Assume a team batting average of .333)
Team A          4 batters                     Team B          4 batters
4.    The next batter following a home run which clears the bases. (Predict 3 home runs per game on average)

5.    Special cases. a) Double play ball when there is a runner on first base;  b) pick-off  at any base and no runners ahead of the pick-off victim;  In a successful double play when both the lead runner and batter are out; then both must run the bases and touch home plate before the defensive team can touch and handle the ball to both avoid a DP.  In extremely rare situations the defensive team can score 2 DP’s on the same play. 

Safety features of BetaBall:
3.    Maximum pitch speed at the professional level will be either 90 or 95 MPH.  Slower speeds for minor and college leagues. Fewer blown arms.

4.    Runners Swath.  An imaginary lane 3.5 meters wide protects the runner. If a runner can touch the ball or any infielder during a DPP, he is automatically awarded home plate and the DP is voided.

5.    Each On-Deck box is located much farther away from the batter’s box. Both boxes are shaded and host an exercise bicycle. Better leg muscle preparation for a DPP.

6.    A larger and extendable home plate for the runner and catcher to share. No tag at the plate is necessary in BetaBall.

Yankees second baseman Drew says he's still learning the position

Yankees infielder Stephen Drew might have been one of the best when he played shortstop, but the 31-year-old is still getting acquainted with his new position.

Drew is still learning the ropes of being a second baseman, he said after committing an uncommon error in the Yankees' loss to the Phillies Wednesday.

"That route [from second], you just need to come around it a little more," Drew told of his bobble in the game's first inning. "Then I can square up to the ball and set my feet and then throw. It's definitely the angles over there that I'm going to work the whole spring training to get really use to it before the season starts."

On the second pitch of Wednesday's contest, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera chopped a slow roller to Drew -- who at first seemed to approach it normally. The ball bounced up to Drew's chest when his glove first contacted it, though, allowing Herrera to reach as the lead-off man.

Drew says he will work on his defense more over the next month in an attempt to stop such things from happening in the future, mainly by adjusting to the differences he's noticed in manning the other side of the field. 

"The way that ball comes off the bat is a little different," Drew said. "So it's definitely going to be something that I'm learning throughout this whole thing. [The angles on the ball] won't go away as I learn it."

Drew's mishandling of Herrera's dribbler wasn't the only time in which the former had issues on the day, strangely  -- as Drew also nearly threw away a routine grounder off the bat of Darin Ruf in the fourth. After shifting up the middle for the right-handed Ruf, Drew fielded and short-hopped one to first baseman Mark Teixeira -- who saved it with a nice pick. 

Then again, it was just one day for Drew -- something he already appears to accept. 

"I just have to trust my talent," Drew said. "Just learning at second and get the best I can at that and then taking everything in. I just have to get in that rhythm. I haven't had a normal spring training in three years, so, if I can get in a routine, finally, it'll pay off."

Yankees Fire Employee over Curt Schilling & Twitter-Gate

We all know the story of the part-time ticker seller of the New York Yankees and the accusations being thrown around by Curt Schilling about some comments made on Twitter. The tweets were horrendous, truly disrespectful and embarrassing to the entire fan base and the team. I won’t beat a dead horse with that but I do bring you an update.

The Twitter account that was used to make these tweets has been disabled by twitter and Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo confirmed that the employee has been fired. The team has a “zero tolerance for anything like this” says Zillo and the team shouldn’t. Good call Yankees, now let’s get back to baseball. 

TGP Daily Poll: Yankees Will Throw out Alex Rodriguez’s Lunch

Disclaimer: THIS IS A JOKE LADIES AND GENTLEMAN. I predict that the Yankees, in their never changing quest to be more like the New York Mets, will throw out the lunch of one Mr. Alex Rodriguez before Spring Training Game Three.

Vote in our prediction poll on

Glimpse Into Jacob Lindgren's Future

Jacob Lindgren made his debut this spring training the other day against the Philadelphia Phillies and his devastating slider was on full display in his inning of work. Lindgren's debut did not go as planned allowing a couple of hits were sprinkled around the Robert Refsnyder error in the field and a devastating strikeout in 0.2 IP. That's not important but what is important is the GIF above that shows his devastating slider that has been the talk of the town since he was drafted in 2014.

Lindgren's slider is a gift and a curse as the pitch goes wild from time to time since the break is so sharp on it. Lindgren seems to throw two different sliders, one that he buries in the dirt like the one above and one that is closer to a cutter that he throws for strikes. That pitch above is absolutely filthy and if he can harness that swing and miss slider just a tad he will be unstoppable in the major leagues.

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/5: The Original Wife Swap

On this day in 1973 Yankees teammates Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announced that they traded their families, including wives, children, and dogs. The first ever episode of Wife Swap worked out well for Peterson who eventually married his best friend's former wife and had four children with her. Kekich and Marilyn Peterson broke up shortly after the swap.

Also on this day in 1922 Babe Ruth signed a three year deal with the New York Yankees for $52,000 per season. This was an, at the time, unheard of $1,000 a week to play the game. In November the Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and Ruth agree to a contract addendum to limit the Babe's off the field behavior. No more "excessive consumption of alcohol" or "late night carousing" for the Bambino.