Here Come The Yankees?

New York (American) opens 0-2 against what it likes to think is its weakest divisional foe. Sabathia’s ERA is 12.46 and is, by nearly five runs, the best among the starters, and Wang got two-thirds of his outs on the ground and still got torched. Oh, and Teixeira’s 1-for-9.

Too early to panic? The Pirates already gave Andy LaRoche a day off “to breathe” (there’s your problem son, you’re not breathing) and they’re in Pittsburgh. This is New York, the capital of sports panic ever since Andrew Freedman used to change managers of the Giants every two months in the 1890’s. Let the panic party begin.
If A.J. Burnett follows the pattern (and I don’t think he will; he was lights out in the spring), there will be a full-fledged hair-on-fire week until the new Stadium opens. The Yankee mantra after Alex Rodriguez’s injury/operation/house arrest was “we have all the pitching; we don’t need to score runs.” This ignored just how little protection Teixeira would be afforded in a Rodriguez-free line-up, or the dubiousness of Gardner’s capacity to create (think Michael Bourn), or the uncertainty of how much of Posada would make it back.
If the Yanks go 0-3 the only question will be whodoes the panicking. Do not rule out The Boss. Although he was reported to be “in and out” in Tampa, the only time I saw George Steinbrenner his presence offered a complete contradiction. His wheelchair was being pushed towards the elevators near the Press Box of the stadium now named for him – always a shocking thing to see for the first time. On the other hand, he was bright-eyed and when my friend David Cone gingerly went over to say hello – fearing he’d have to reintroduce himself – Steinbrenner happily yelled “I can see it’s you David. I wish you were still pitching for me.”
Sabathia, of course, got lit (nine runs each, I believe) his first two starts last year, and should be fine when he finds his rhythm, presumably well in advance of any 21st Century reenactment of The Ed Whitson Saga. And in wagering sanguine on Teixeira, I’ll now repeat my warnings from last weekend, with the endorsement of no less a sage than Lou Piniella: in the new Yankee Stadium, a lefthanded hitter might just as well stand at the plate with one of those t-shirt-shooting bazookas and aim it at the porch. “Pitch to the center of the park,” Lou said last Saturday, “because if you pitch to right field we’re gonna run out of baseballs.”
The real fear is about Wang. He was not sharp in the spring, he was not sharp in the exhibition game in the Bronx, he was not sharp in Baltimore. There is nothing worse than reading about other people’s fantasy teams, but an AL-only auction with ESPN fantasy experts, I watched Wang get nominated 93th overall and draw a final bid of $4. There was still money on the table (Erik Bedard had just gone for $9; John Danks would go two names later for $9). There is no expectation that the 19-game winner will suddenly reappear – and for the Yankees this belief is dogma.
If these fantasy dollar figures tell you anything you will injure yourself trying to suss out this league. Short rosters (19 players) mean the $260 goes further (about 18% further). Nevertheless: I thought I was going crazy bidding Sabathia up to $49. Halladay promptly went for $58 and Liriano for $50. I put my money on my Teixeira-related mouth ($56) to the titters of the cognoscenti. Miguel Cabrera went for $75. And the boast: Nelson Cruz for $5, eleven nominees before Carlos Pena hammered at $38.
Enough. I just said there’s nothing worse than reading what I proceeded to write two paragraphs about.
Lastly, thanks to all who sent condolences about my mother. In an era of Mantle, Murcer, Munson, and later Reggie and Catfish, her favorite player was always Roy White, which should tell you all you need to know about her fandom.


  1. beearl

    My girlfriend’s father was a Yankee farmhand and he shared an occasional room with Roy White. From the stories he tells, I feel like I should always have been a Roy White super-fan. Not just a Roy White kinda-fan…which is what I always was. Until recently.


    Hi Keith,
    With all the money the Yankees spent on CC Sabathia, Teixeira, and AJ Burnett, the team has to produce. CC is one of the best pitchers in baseball and he couldn’t strike out anyone. It is bothersome. Also Wang was awful. I think you are right about Burnett. He is solid. They to be careful and not too far behind early on if they want to make a real run at the playoffs. The AL east is super strong.
    Yes this is New York and sometimes there are unreasonable expectations placed on our team…but that’s why NY baseball is entertaining and kinda stressful!

  3. 1948braves

    So happy to see the start of a new season. No need to panic. Can’t wait for some warmer weather. Head over to the ballpark. Have a few beers. Watch some good baseball.

    Good luck to all fans. Enjoy 2009.

  4. historymike

    In honor of your mother, Keith ….

    Catfish Hunter sometimes positioned his fielders behind him because he had such pinpoint control. One day, he waved Roy White over about seven steps. He turned back toward the plate, then turned back toward left field and moved White back three steps. The next pitch was a 400-foot home run. But it went right over Roy White’s head as it left the park.

  5. ktogirl


    So sorry to read about your mother. I lost my grandfather last week and went to his service in Ohio on Tuesday. When I was flying back to NYC Thursday evening he (of course) and your mother were on my mind. My grandfather was a strongly liberal and pro-union man. He shaped my political thinking; but better yet, he PLAYED softball well into his 60’s! I can’t remember him without thinking about both politics and sports. People often think it’s weird for me to think of the two within the same vein, but they are pretty much inseparable. He and Marie would have had a good old time fussing, laughing and shooting the ***. Stay strong.


    Hi Keith,

    So sorry about your Mom. Hope you’re doing okay. My heart goes out to you and your family, especially your Dad who must summon the courage, somehow, to go on without his life partner.

    Baseball is in my DNA. I grew up a SF Giants fan, attending games first at Seals Stadium, then “the stick.” During my college years, I gave up baseball which at the time was way too establishment for me. By the mid-eighties, I moved to the East Bay and fell in love with Tony LaRussa’s Athletics, Enough about me.

    Here’s my baseball trivia question that my friends can’t answer, that if anyone on the planet can, it’s you. When did fans start wearing team colors, jerseys, hats, to games? I don’t remember that in the fifties, and sixties. By the time of my baseball reawakening in the mid-eighties, fans wore team clothing. It was the photo of you as a teenager with your Mother at Yankee Stadium, (mid-seventies???) everyone dressed in street clothes that sparked my curiosity. So when, where, and how did the custom begin? Did it actually start with baseball or was it another sport?


    whose Jason Giambi jersey is finally out of mothballs

  7. Jane Heller

    Just wanted to stop by and offer belated condolences about your mother, Keith. Your tribute to her on Countdown was touching, funny, smart – just great. (Very curious to read the answer to Laurel’s question above. I’ve wondered about that myself.)

  8. oldstylenekliw

    Sorry for your loss, Keith. As a fan of you and your show in Arkansas, please keep up the great work! I’ve been engrossed in Cubs baseball this week, lots of teeth gnashing about our closer situation, although Mr Marmol did a job on the Brewers last night. I look forward to reading your blogs as I understand you are a great baseball historian. Thanks for all you do, especially keeping the Dittoheads mad.

  9. jarchive

    Hey Keith,

    I’m definitely the exception — as I am an admitted hardcore fantasy baseball fan — and love listening to people dicuss fantasy baseball, but I don’t think you fell into that trap of rambling on about your team. After all, you were talking about the draft and how the players costs were inflated, not just how “cool” your team is.

    Ummm, I guess I’m defending you against yourself here…but I think it’s great that you’re talking baseball and more specifically fantasy baseball! Rock on!

    -Johnny Archive


    Dear Keith:

    I finally can feel that my condolences about the passing of your mother will get directly to you. I really did not know how to navigate sending them via Countdown.

    I come from Countdown. Keep up the good work!!! I even secretly wished you would be named Mr. Obama’s press secretary, but i guess that was a reach. You reach more of us on Countdown anyway. Oh, thanks for bring me back to baseball with your blog. It is a great to read!!!!!


    Phil Vuilleumier

  11. cletis


    my friends told me about you when we used to get LA tv stations thru cable in San Diego. they was right-you IS the greatest.
    how bomb is it that you’re a bombers fan! it will be great follwing what i believe in terms of a full team including minor league depth, speed, defense, everything THE BEST YANKEE TEAM OF ALL TIME.

    My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your Mom. my favorite Yankee ever is Cletis Boyer who was how Brooks Robinson learned how to play 3rd.

    I watched a doubleheader in 1961 at the OLD Stadium and saw in the 1st inning of the 2nd game, Maris hit one off the right field foul pole and the Mick then hit one off the left field pole. How was that not one of the best highlights?

    Go Hank & Hal’s Hellraisers!!!!!

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