Archives for posts with tag: Yankee Stadium

When this past off-season saw the usually big spending Yanks only make waves by re-acquiring Aroldis Chapman and giving Matt Holliday a 1-year flyer, most fans and analysts didn’t know what to think. This was not the Yanks of old. This was not the M.O. of a big-spending team that missed the playoffs for three of the last four seasons. This was definitely keeping with the new plan implemented by Brian Cashman at last year’s trade deadline. The Yankees are getting younger as we watch and the future is now…maybe a year off.

This year’s spring training was an introduction of new names and high double-digit numbers to a fan base desperate for a return to October baseball. And it was a very encouraging introduction with the Yankees playing .700 ball in the Grapefruit League. True, spring training is not a highly accurate predictor of the future, like Nate Silver’s election algorithms, but there was definitely something new and exciting on display.

The biggest surprise was the return of Greg Bird. After a 2015 mini-campaign that had him prepared to displace Mark Teixeira immediately, Bird was sidelined for all of 2016 with shoulder surgery. This spring saw him return with a vengeance, hitting .451 with a team leading 8 HRs. Displaying an ability to hit to all fields against righties and lefties, coupled with solid defense at 1B, Greg Bird may be the answer at 1B, this season and beyond.

Gary Sanchez picked up from where his 2nd place Rookie of the Year campaign left off, hitting .373 with 5 HRs and showing plenty of arm strength from behind the plate. I was a big fan of Brian McCann and sad to see him depart to Houston but Gary Sanchez’s talent at and behind the plate will not be denied and will be on display post haste.

Tyler Wade, Billy McKinney, Ruben Tejada, Clint Frazier, and Gleyber Torres all showed glimpses of future days in the Bronx. Torres in particular may see an early call-up, especially if Chase Headley continues to underwhelm in the 3rd year of his four-year deal. The jettisoning of Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman bore many fruits that the Yankee organization is eager to pluck when fully ripe.

And the addition of 7-time All Star Matt Holliday should easily fill the void left when Carlos Beltran was sent to Texas. Holliday had a banged up 2016 campaign, but as a F/T DH should be plenty healthy to provide much-needed power and veteran leadership.

Starting pitching continues to be the biggest Achilles heel. But considering that an almost identical staff in 2016, minus the recently released Nathan Eovaldi, was good enough for 84 wins anything is possible. The right elbow of Masahiro Tanaka continues to be under more scrutiny than Price Waterhouse’s Oscar night decorum. If Tanaka finally gets to 200 innings this season, there will only be four remaining pitching questions marks. CC Sabathia will most likely end up in the bullpen by June and Michael Pineda has yet to find anything mirroring consistency – both will not be around for 2018. Thankfully, this means plenty of opportunities for Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell who have all had success in limited MLB exposure. And Luis Severino continues to be the wild card of them all. Will he return to ROY-esque form from 2015 or only be effective from the bullpen as in 2016? I do hope it’s the former but the latter works just as well.

More than likely, the Yankees will not make the playoffs this season. At best they will be in the run for a Wild Card slot, and anything can happen in that play-in game. I would give this year’s squad about a 15% chance of making it to the divisional round. I expect this year to be a repeat of last year, in the mix but not a true contender. I expect the young talent of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge (who also had an impressive spring) and Luis Severino to gain another year of big league experience in preparation for 2018. 2017 is the new 1995. The future is bright, shining with young talent and hungry veterans prepared to deliver new World Series rings to the Bronx and forcing Joe Girardi to change his uniform number into the 30’s.

The future is bright, Yankee fans, and we may be lucky enough to see Yankee championship history repeat over and over in the next decade….as long as $400 million are not wasted on Bryce Harper. #HeadCase

It’s nice when things start falling into place. It’s been almost a month since a trade deadline that saw the Yankees uncharacteristically trading off their established stars for farm talent and the Yankees are actually fighting their way back into relevance and possibly the AL East. Of course, it helps to have a rookie Phenom like Gary Sanchez carrying the team with his historic start. The Yankees have an AL East best record of 15-9 in the month of August and are definitely giving Yankee fans reason for hope here in 2016….not to mention 2017 and beyond.

In his first 21 games in pinstripes, Gary Sanchez, aka The Sanchize, is living up to and exceeding expectations. Sanchez is off to a juggernaut rookie campaign with a slashline of .400/.467/.900 highlighted by 11 HRs and 23 RBIs. He is quickly galvanizing the joy of Yankee fans and garnering respect from the league as well as demonstrated by his pair of intentional BBs in the Seattle series. It’s still too soon to tell if this just a small sample size but it’s hard to not be excited by such an impressive debut. And while he may see the majority of starts behind the plate this season, the Yankees would be smart to give the lion’s share of DH at-bats to Brian McCann, who is still on pace for another 20 HR season.

While Gary Sanchez is the current straw stirring the drink, at least offensively, there are plenty of other Yanks who have contributed to this August run that most recently has produced 64 runs in the last 10 games. Starlin Castro is on another hot streak with 3 HRs over this past .444 week. Didi Gregorius is only hitting .258 over August but has 6 HRs in the month. The Yankee middle infield of Castro/Gregorius has combined for a very impressive 35 HRs this year. Ronald Torreyes is campaigning for regular playing time with his .414 August. And even Aaron Hicks is starting to silence the boos at New Yankee Stadium with 4 HRs in 71 August at-bats while hitting .310.

Yankee starting pitching is finally being anchored by Masahiro Tanaka’s ace-like August. Tanaka holds a 2.91 ERA in the month to go with 34Ks and a single BB. Luis Cessa has won back-to-back starts with a 1.50 ERA to go with 10Ks/2 BBs. And despite not being able to qualify for the win in yesterday’s dominance of the Orioles, Chad Green has made great strides in the last few weeks. Green has a 2.51 ERA in his last 28.2 innings, which includes an 11K, 6-inning, no-run gem against the mighty Blue Jays.

The Yankees have plenty of season left and hopefully enough young talent to keep them in the hunt for October. Their current 5 ½ game deficit in the division may seem daunting but they still have time and plenty of opportunities with 28 of their final 34 games against the AL East. They may fall short but Yankee fans are getting a glimpse of the future, and it’s a bright one at that. #TheSanchize.

The more things change, the more they stay insane. And such is the case with New Yankee Stadium. It’s been five years since the Yankees left the old digs for this billion dollar monument so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect based on what I have seen on TV and from the descriptions by friends and family. But I guess it wasn’t until I made my first visit last Saturday that I truly got to experience what New Yankee Stadium is all about.

After a shuttle ride from our hotel in New Jersey to Port Authority, my wife and I took the A train uptown to the D train. I only mention this because this is the first time I ever took the subway to the game. Growing up on Long Island, my previous trips involved and an hour and a half car ride and then finding the least sketchy parking possible, never an easy task. So, it was quite refreshing to exit the 161st Street station and see New Yankee Stadium right across the street. After a breakfast that consisted of Sabrett’s hot dogs, the most underrated hot dog, we walked around the outside and marveled at the pristine state of the stadium and it’s surroundings. I had to keep reminding myself that I in fact was in the Bronx. I wasn’t necessarily looking to get mugged or get propositioned by a hooker but it would have been nice to see a few reminders of my old home.

Then we walked inside and continued to marvel at the newness of it all not to mention enough concession stands to rival a World’s Fair. Gone are the cracks in the concrete, distinct urine odors, and memories of days gone by. This new stadium has tried to replicate the past but all it does is make me yearn for it. As much as I love the Yankees and want to see them win many more championships in this new arena I can’t help but caught up in wanting to be in the old stadium. Old Yankee Stadium was where I saw Don Mattingly hit upper deck bombs, Graig Nettles vacuuming every grounder at third, Ron Guidry strike out the side repeatedly, and Derek Jeter doing just about everything right in pinstripes while building his legacy. Maybe I just need to see a lot more games and let new memories be created. On the other hand I cannot voice enough disgust over the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar that jets out into CF. It is an eyesore and creates limited views for anyone sitting on either side of it. This is of course rectified by the the placement of a row of flat screens TVs. The whole purpose of going to a game is to NOT watch it on TV, so that’s a section I will make sure to avoid.

As for the game itself, that was a disappointment all on its own. After a pre-game ceremony where Tino Martinez was honored with a plaque in Monument Park, the current Yankees continued to play their mediocre style of baseball. Vido Nuno allowed 3 HRs and may have pitched himself out of the starting rotation. The only true excitement was provided by Mark Teixeira’s solo HR in the 4th which would account for the Yankees only run. The Orioles won 6-1, which sucked.

On the bright side I got to watch Derek Jeter play one more time. He made two nice plays in the field and went 1-4 at the plate (though I thought his hit was really a gift and should have been an error). On the not-so bright side, this is the ninth consecutive live game that I have watched the Yankees lose. At some point, I must give up on the notion that I can watch the Yankees win a live game, or maybe Yankees fans should unite and have a restraining order filed against me. If that’s the case then hurry up since I have tix to see them in August at Fenway.

All in all, it was a nice day at the Stadium. Whatever quibbles I may have with New Yankee Stadium, it is the home of my beloved Yankees and I will respect that. It’s like when a friend starts dating someone new, and you were a much bigger fan of their previous beau. In the end, you have to trust their judgment and hope you can see what they see. New Yankee Stadium is far from perfect but it will grow on me eventually.

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This is the way it was supposed to be. This is the kind of magic we have come to expect from Derek Jeter over the years. So, we can now ignore that unfortunate blip on the screen that was his initial season debut against the Kansas City Royals on July 11. As far as I am concered, “that Derek Jeter” was an imposter. It reminds me of the “Homie the Clown” episode of The Simspons, where Homer goes to Krusty’s clown college and then starts to impersonate him. There’s only one Krusty the Clown, and there’s only one Derek Jeter, and for yesterday he gave us a reminder of the greatness that once was, and may still be.

Now, to paint the picture of my enjoyment of yesretady’s game, I was following it on ESPN’s gamecast app on my IPad. Mostly, I was just hoping to make sure he didn’t crack a rib while swinging or break his other ankle jogging out to his shortstop position. Imagine my immense surprise when I saw the update, “Derek Jeter homered to right.” I had to fight the urge to shake my IPad as if it were a Magic 8 ball giving me the wrong prediction. Then it sunk in. Then my next reaction was, “Oh, great, here come the PED questions.” My worries quickly dissapated when I got to the MLB Network channel and saw the highlight, which showed Derek Jeter’s patented Yankee Stadium right field swing that just cleared the fence. How could anyone question that, they’ve seen it time and time again.

All totaled, Derek Jeter finished up 2-4, adding a single and scoring twice. In the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon even showed him some respect by walking him intentionally. On a day like yesterday, there was no way Maddon was going to let Derek Jeter add to his legend. Enter, Alfonso Soriano. That is part of the magic of Derek Jeter. If he’s not beating you by himself, he is setting the stage for the next Yankee in the lineup to take the spotlight. That is what winners do.

Does this return of Derek Jeter mean the Yanks’s ills are fixed and they are now poised for a playoff run? I highly doubt it. Not unless The Captain is planning on taking C.C. Sabathia’s spot in the rotation. But at the same time he does inspire others through his presence. I’m not saying you can expect four-hit games from Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro everyday now, but don’t be surprised to see others step up in response to Derek Jeter being in the lineup and the history of Yankee greatness that he embodies.

So, there is an air of excitement in the Bronx. Derek Jeter is back and with him a sense of possibility. Winning the AL East is a still a pipe dream, but finishing ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays is almost certain. And the way this year has shaped up, I can live with that, for now…..

“For many Americans, time is marked, not necessarily by the shrinking of their old houses, but by the aging of their baseball heroes.” – Ira Berkow

As a Yankee fan I should be happy that the Bronx Bombers are currently at 8-6, after back-to-back series wins over the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks. And yet, it still feels as if something is missing. And that missing something will be missing for a lot longer than expected. News of Derek Jeter’s latest injury update and questionable return timetable hit Yankee and baseball fans like a punch to the gut. The funny thing is yesterday morning I seriously contemplated shaving my beard. This is the beard I started growing last October out of depression when I saw Derek Jeter fall to the ground at Yankee Stadium during game one of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Suffice to say, those feelings of dread and despair are back in full force, and this beard ain’t going anywhere.

Do I, or did I expect the Yankees to compete this year? Nope. What I did expect was to see Derek Jeter at shortstop on opening day, defying time and critics alike. I’m sure Derek Jeter, as I do, recognizes that nothing lasts forever. To paraphrase Space Cowboys, “The clock’s ticking, and we’re only getting older.” But being denied the ability to have the Yankee captain in the field and lineup is happening way too soon. I’m starting to feel a tinge of what Yankee fans in the 60’s felt as Mickey Mantle began his decline. I guess fans of every era tie their hopes, dreams, and youthful memories to the great players they have had the privilege to watch.

Logically, I know that despite a remarkable 2012 season we have already seen the very best of Derek Jeter. And yet, I know he’s still capable of a little more. Maybe not another season with 200 hits or .300 batting average, but with players like Derek Jeter all it takes is one clutch hit, one smooth fielding play, or one heads-up base running decision and you are reminded of what once was and what will always be. Field of Dreams referencing aside, the Yankees just aren’t the Yankees without Derek Jeter. And yes, that opening day when someone else is truly starting at shortstop, and not just being a placeholder, is getting closer and closer and closer, but it’s still not now.

So I will continue to cheer for the Yankees, and become more appreciative of the new faces like Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Brennan Bosch, but none of them will fill the hole in this Yankee fans heart. Derek Jeter, I wish I could quit you……

As much as I would love to beam about the Yankees winning six of their last seven, real life has reared its ugliness in the form of the tragedy that took place at Monday’s Boston Marathon. I can’t even begin to understand or rationalize what happened. Sadly it’s the world we live in. However, I am heartened by the actions being taken in the immediate aftermath, from the first responders to the marathoner runners themselves.

And now, we return to baseball. No, the game of baseball cannot fix the ills of society. But maybe for a few hours players and fans alike can find an outlet and focus on something that, unlike life, can be controlled: the love of the game. And is there anything that says baseball more than hearing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway? And is there anything more fitting than hearing “Sweet Caroline” played at parks around the country, including Yankee Stadium? Yes, Boston, we are with you. We feel your pain. We know your pain.

I really wish we could live in a world where all we had to fret were the standings. Until then, sing on “Sweet Caroline” in every game, in every stadium. Now if we could just get rid of that Star Wars “Empire” theme being played when the Sawx are introduced in NY. That would be really classy.