Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Rockies + Bullpenwinkle

The Closer Carousel never stops; the only true accomplishment is knowing when it’s going to start spinning dangerously like the merry-go-round at the end of Hitchcock’s “Strangers On A Train,” and if the carny is going to get to the shut-off valve in time or if the entire bullpen is going to get launched in the general direction of the cotton candy machine.

As remarked here earlier it’s obvious the Nationals are in the most turmoil at the moment, but one wonders if that situation might not straighten itself out quickly and be replaced by the chaos bubbling to the surface in Colorado. Manny Corpas has pitched himself out of the top job, out of the set-up job, and probably out of the majors. Huston Street has lost the job, won it anew, but hardly gotten a firm handle on the reins. Taylor Buchholz is clearly not near a return from injury (he was just shifted to the 60-Day DL). You’re left wondering if Jason Grilli will actually wind up closing. He has the classic ’80s-’90s biography page: onetime top prospect who never quite made it as a starter and drifted around.
Of course Washington is already there, but, and this is nothing more than a hunch, that Content loud of Joe Beimel, Julian Tavarez, Kip Wells, Garrett Mock, and Joel Hanrahan will resolve itself, probably later than sooner, with Hanrahan back in the job. Again, it’s just a hunch.
NEW HOUSE, SAME RIVALRY

Terry Francona said he loved the new Yankee Stadium, but as a creature of habit, he was more than a little thrown by the disruption of his rituals from years of coming to the old one. “No better place to win on the road, no worse one to lose,” he told me from behind the desk of the visiting manager’s office, a space about four times larger than the one in the old house. The Sox were most floored by the pre-game press briefing, which exceeds what baseball used to do for the World Series: a large, carpeted, well lit room with about 140 chairs, a podium for a moderator to call on reporters for questions, two wireless microphone wranglers, and a camera platform in the back filled with equipment.
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It did look a little like Tito was addressing a sales workshop.
As to the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry, now accelerated, future shock kind of way by all the intra-divisional play, he noted that “it seemed like that series in our place was a long time ago.” His charges then went out and contradicted him, waiting out a 2:20 rain delay, scratching Phil Hughes for a run in each of the first four innings, getting the benefit of Joe Girardi inexplicably benching Hideki Matsui when he’s been hitting lefties well, and outlasting two Teixeira home runs to take the first ever Sox-Yanks game in the new park.
Francona is, in fact, such a creature of habit that the charts and data taped to the dugout wall around him? He likes to print them out, and tape them up, himself.
BASEBALL BLOOPER OF THE WEEK:

It went by too fast to get an image, but when the Yankees asked their nightly trivia question, they pulled an ironic doozy. The contestant was asked to identify the oldest pitcher to win 20 for the first time. Among the choices were Mike Mussina (the correct answer), ’50s Yankees ace Vic Raschi, and Fritz Peterson, the pitcher who achieved the all-time lowest career ERA inside the original Yankee Stadium.
Except the video didn’t show Peterson, it showed his teammate Mike Kekich. And any vintage Yankee fan, or baseball expert, or student of the weird culture of the ’70s was instantly flashed back to 1973 when Peterson and Kekich exchanged more than just identities on a scoreboard. They traded wives, and families, in an infamous event that was shocking even then.
And 36 years later Kekich was mistaken for Peterson.
The real punchline to the Peterson/Kekich “trade” was not the latter’s banishment to Cleveland that summer, but the fact that while the ex-Mrs. Kekich actually married Peterson, Mrs. Peterson soon left Kekich, leaving him awaiting a Wife To Be Named Later.

The Palace, Or: The Grand Canyon of Stadiums

The phrase – well, the “palace” part – is Derek Jeter’s. It’s unoriginal, cornball, and entirely accurate. In managing to transplant the history of Yankee Stadium, and amplify the grandeur of the old place, andwrap the whole thing up in state-of-the-art hi-tech bells-and-whistles, the Yankees have created a landmark.

I’m a traditionalist, as pro-past as anybody watching the game. Since my first tour of the shell of the ballpark a year ago this month, I have been waiting to be disappointed. At every turn, I have instead been overwhelmed.
The ballpark is deliberately outsized, to recreate for an adult the awestruck feeling of walking into the old place, for the first time, as a kid, when you might’ve gotten the impression that the people who built Yankee Stadium were the same ones who had done The Grand Canyon.
A few quick snapshots to try to convey the dimensions, starting with the view from the press box (note the giant HD screen to the right of the picture):

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And from a totally different perspective, actually below the level of the field, in the runway between the bottom of the two-story restaurant, and the suite seating behind home plate:
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And now out to the bleachers, and the view from the bar. This isn’t an exclusive place – it’s literally dead center in the bleachers and accessible from them. The other side of the window you’re looking through is covered with the batter’s eye:
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This next one is from deep behind third base, illustrating perhaps the most welcome improvement from the old stadium to the new one. From almost everywhere “in the back” you can see the field – even from many of the turnstile locations. This one will also give you a sense of the height and width of the walkways, which in some spots are about ten times as wide as in the old one:
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The open-air quality of the rest of the Stadium is more than just an aesthetic consideration. If batting practice on one breezy April is any indicator, the sporadic openings from the seats to the street – and a full ring of them in the upper deck – are going to produce wind conditions entirely different from the old Stadium.
In fact, balls were rocketing over the right field fence, even from righty batters. There seemed to be a swirling effect, bringing wind in towards the plate from Left and then directing it out towards Right, aided by another breeze coming in from the gaps in the upper deck behind the plate. Xavier Nady mentioned it, Joe Girardi told me there might be less of a chance of judging the wind here than in the old one, and Nick Swisher (below) delighted in it:
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Attendance might have pushed 30,000 but the Yankees cleverly gave out about half of the tickets to local Bronx groups none too pleased by the slow move towards fulfilling the team’s promises of contributions to the community to replace Macomb’s Dam Park.
I take back one thing I wrote above. There is a slight flaw: I don’t think the auxiliary scoreboards on the fences in LCF and RF really “work” – possibly because they seem to shiver under the weight of advertising billboards sitting directly above them. And here is the early leader for Everybody’s Pet Peeve – there may be too many televisions in the place, several thousand, in fact.
And they are, indeed, everywhere:
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That is indeed, a pair of small flat-screens embedded in the mirror in one of the men’s room in the restaurant. There is a third one to the right.
And the big HD job may be a real issue, especially if you suddenly look up to find yourself on it:
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On the far right is my friend Richard Roth, who was at CNN when I broke in at 1981, and is still there. And the jacket is a facsimile 1942 New York Giants, which confused everybody.
One last image – the early favorite for weirdest sign in a ballpark:
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