Well, That Went Well – Not

April 1st, 2014 by
Photo: nytimes.com

Photo: nytimes.com

The last thing I wanted to see in tonight’s first inning was Jeter getting drilled. Not that it won’t happen periodically throughout the season. He does lean in and pitchers pitch in, so it’s not unusual for his hand/wrist/arm to be vulnerable. I just figured it wouldn’t be in the season opener in Houston. But there were other reasons to hide my eyes.

CC’s early innings were ugly. The defense went awry behind him. Nobody looked good at the plate, except (surprisingly) Teixeira. By contrast, Houston – this was the Astros we were playing, right? – looked like World Series champions and it was a little like David kicking Goliath around. But that’s baseball. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. I kept thinking….maybe this game is an April Fool’s joke or maybe the Yankees are still in spring training mode. And then I reminded myself it’s a loooong season and they won’t win every game.

Earlier in the day came the news that the Yanks had DFA-ed Nunez. Startling, considering how much they’d relied on him the past couple of years. It was shocking enough that he didn’t make the cut for opening day, but to literally cut him loose? I didn’t see that one coming and I’m sure he didn’t either. But they did give him chances to claim the shortstop job and he never did. I hope he makes it elsewhere.

On to the next….and the next. Let’s go Yankees.

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Inching Closer to Opening Day

March 25th, 2014 by

behind home plate

I’m excited about this 2014 team and I didn’t expect to be. All reports indicate that our starting rotation (CC, Kuroda, Nova, Tanaka and now Pineda) should be pretty damn good. The pen will be stocked with more-than-decent relievers, although I can’t wrap my head around Robertson as the closer. Ellsbury’s always going to be a question mark, injury wise, but he sounds healthy enough for Opening Day. Will Jeter and Tex ever get their bats going? Sure, eventually. And I’m hoping for nice offense from McCann and Cervelli (never would have guessed he’d have such a good spring). I have no idea what’ll happen with Brian Roberts at second base and wish we’d gotten a bona fide power hitter at third, but it’s still a team worthy of competing in the AL East, and I can’t wait for the season to start for real.

Meanwhile, if anybody’s looking for reading material while we count down, I was alerted to a new novel called The Perfect Game.

The Perfect Game cover

courtesy of Amazon

Its author, Stephen Paul, describes it as a supernatural thriller, but the reason I’m bringing it up here is that the plot….Well, here’s the setup straight from Paul:

“In a dark Manhattan alley, a young woman suddenly collapses from a brain hemorrhage. The statistics say it’s rare to have happened to someone so young and healthy, yet all signs point to natural causes. But when Kyle Vine, the man she was supposed to meet that night, learns she wasn’t the only victim, he knows there’s something more going on and soon discovers a mysterious link to the sudden success of a journeyman pitcher for the New York Yankees.

As the lethal brain bleeds continue to strike, Kyle and the woman’s eccentric uncle work together to unravel a mystery unlike any the world has ever seen in order to stop a ruthless killer from striking again.

The Perfect Game is a fast-paced gripping ride that will continue to keep readers on the edge of their seats while trying to figure out who’s behind the deadly episodes, how they’re doing it and, perhaps most shocking of all, why.”

See that? The story has a Yankees hook. I’m bogged down with a tight deadline for a book of my own, so I can’t read this one right now. Let me know how it is and if the Yankee is the murderer. (We did have a murderer’s row once upon a time……)

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RIP, Carmen

March 7th, 2014 by
Photo: NORMAN Y. LONO/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Photo: NORMAN Y. LONO/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Really sorry to read in the Daily News about the death of Yogi’s wife, Carmen, the love of his life. The obit below says it all.

Yogi Berra’s wife of 65 years, Carmen, dead at 85 following complications from recent stroke

Carmen Berra, the beloved wife of Yankee legend Yogi Berra, died Thursday night in the Crane’s Mill Assisted Living Facility in West Caldwell, N.J., near the couple’s longtime home in Montclair.

The couple, whose love affair was legendary, had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Jan. 26; Carmen Berra’s death was the result of complications of a stroke she suffered earlier this year.

Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Montclair.

Born Carmen Short in Missouri in 1928, Carmen Berra married Yogi on Jan. 26, 1949, when he was a 23-year-old catcher with the Yankees. They went on to raise three sons, Larry, Tim and Dale, and have 11 grandchildren. Dale Berra played for the Pirates and Yankees and Tim played for the then- Baltimore Colts.

“She died peacefully — she went the way she would have wanted to,” larry Berra told The News Friday. “We’re grateful that she and dad were able to spend some good time together (Thursday). I’m not just saying this because she was my mom, but she was one of the great women of all time.”

Yogi and Carmen Berra met in St. Louis in the late 1940s, when he was a minor leaguer just back from World War II and she was a waitress at Biggies, a St. Louis restaurant.

Carmen served Yogi lunch and he asked her name and whether she was married. Their first date was a hockey game in St. Louis. Berra proposed marriage by placing a ring on the table in front of Carmen while they dined at his family’s home.

In recent years, Carmen Berra was instrumental in the operation of the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J. On display there are some of the romantic letters Yogi sent to his wife from the various cities he traveled to playing ball. She worked closely with the museum’s donors and helped organize fund-raising events.

Carmen Berra was known not only for her beauty but for her quick wit and charming personality.

In an interview with Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden, Carmen Berra related how her husband once sent her an anniversary card signed, “Yogi Berra.” She said she was glad he signed it that way because it eliminated any confusion about all the other Yogis she knew.

“On behalf of the entire New York Yankees organization, we offer our deepest condolences to the Berra family,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Having known Yogi and Carmen for so long, it is almost impossible to imagine two people who complemented each other better than they did. We will always remember Carmen’s smile and sense of humor, and her kindness and generosity will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”

In the recently closed Broadway play “Bronx Bombers,” Peter Scolari and Tracy Shayne, who were married in 2013, starred as Yogi and Carmen.

A casting call for an understudy for the part of Carmen summed her up this way: “Character ages to 80s, petite, strong-willed, elegant, beautiful, Yogi’s wife of 30-60 years and the epitome of all that a Yankee wife should be. She exudes confidence without ever seeming pompous, and exemplifies the good citizen without ever appearing plain. She is dynamic, energetic, embodies sex appeal; men are attracted to her and women are drawn to her. A fashion maven, she has an instinct for saying, doing and wearing the right things at all the right times. All respect and admire her. Always in control. Must be 5’5” and below.”

 

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Spring Training Pic Courtesy of Our Friend Diane

March 3rd, 2014 by

image

She’s a big Jets fan as well as a Yankees fan, so I can only imagine her delight at seeing these two together….

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Happy Spring Training!

February 24th, 2014 by

Spring-schedule

Baseball’s back and so are the Yankees, if with a different look. I’m excited to see the new guys as well as the old standbys. My trusty MLB At Bat app and MLB.TV have been purchased so I’m ready to go. Who will surprise us during spring training? Who will, for example, win the backup catcher’s job? How will the starting pitching rotation line up? How will Jeter’s ankle hold up? Ditto: Tex’s wrist? Who will be at third base on Opening Day in the Bronx? At second? At DH?

It’s the questions that will make this season even more fun – the best reality show on television.

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“I’m Not Emotionally Stunted”

February 19th, 2014 by

Derek-Jeter

Thanks to MLB.com’s live feed, I watched Jeter do the thing he’s least interested in doing: talking to the media. But he carried off today’s “retirement press conference” with aplomb. He was snarky-funny when he viewed the questions as silly. He was thoughtful when reflecting on being a Yankee. He was the consummate teammate when he suggested that instead of hanging around listening to him, the players who were there should go back out on the field to do their work. He was vintage Jeter when asked about his greatest moments: “Winning,” he said.

If it’s possible to enjoy listening to an iconic Yankee discuss why this season will be his last, Jeter made today enjoyable. He reiterated that retirement isn’t until after the season, so there’s no sense in analyzing his legacy or whether he’ll become an instructor at future spring trainings or where he stands in relation to past Yankee legends. He just wants to play. Period.

As for how he’s managed to hold in his emotions during his career and during the press conference, he quipped that it’s not because he’s emotionally stunted – “I have emotions, I just don’t show them” – but because it’s been the only way to sustain his long career in New York with its attendant ups and downs, triumphs and failures. He made so much sense and I loved him all over again.

 

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Well, Now I’m Gobsmacked

February 12th, 2014 by

NY Mag cover of Jeter

I was away from the computer for what seemed like two seconds, when all hell broke loose on social media. Jeter announced he’s retiring after this season – on his Facebook page, no less – so we’re headed for another round of tears, memories and farewells. I’m happy for him that he’s come to a decision about his future and he sounds at peace with it. It’s just the end of the era – the true end – and I’m not a big fan of endings.

Oh, Captain. I do want him to settle down and start a family and focus on his philanthropic and entrepreneurial projects. I also want him to stay in the sport in some capacity. But mostly I’m trying to imagine Yankeeland without him. And it’s haaaard.

 

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A Programming Note

February 12th, 2014 by

I know, I know. I said I wasn’t going to post as often and I’m not. It’s just that there was a newsworthy item (Tanaka presser) and now a release from ESPN, so fire up the TV on Sunday night if you’re interested:

Newest ESPN Films “30 for 30″ project: “The Deal.”

Ten years ago, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox went after the best player in the game: Alex Rodriguez. The Babe Ruth of his time, with a pristine image and gargantuan contract, Rodriguez had but one request – He would only play for the Yankees or the Red Sox. That winter, the two rivals went for the golden boy and only one could prevail.

This historic winter of rumors, controversies, and money is captured in “The Deal.”  Using first hand perspective from the likes of Larry Lucchino, Brian Cashman, John Hart and Theo Epstein, “The Deal” takes a comprehensive look at one of baseball’s wildest trades and offers an insider’s perspective into the arms race between the Sox and Yankees and the man who stood at the center of it all, the reigning MVP: Alex Rodriguez.

The Deal is the latest project from Nick and Colin Barnicle, an award-winning duo of filmmakers whose passion for storytelling is only matched by their love of sports. After founding Prospect Productions in 2010, they have worked tirelessly to tell stories that humanize the intersection of culture and sports through the lens of those on the field, in the stands and behind-the-scenes. Their work has been featured on CBS, MSNBC, CNN, Huffington Post, Grantland and MLB.com and included unique interviews with Ed Burns, Keith Olbermann and Pete Hamill, among many others. In 2013, the team directed and produced the ESPN Films “30 for 30: Short”  Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner that showcased the dramatic story behind one of the most lucrative baseball cards in history.

“The Deal” will air on ESPN this Sunday at 8 pm ET.

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Tyler Kepner sums it up: “The Yankees are interesting again”

February 12th, 2014 by

From today’s NYT, here’s the article that best articulates my feelings about yesterday’s Tanaka press conference and the Yanks in general. I loved Tanaka’s swagger. I loved that he didn’t look awed by the situation. I loved that he thinks he belongs on the mound on Day 1. It really should be an exciting season. Read on……..

Masahiro Tanaka, standing next to Joe Girardi, was introduced in a private dining room on ground level of Yankee Stadium. Nobody sells hope like the Yankees. Nobody has such easy access to it. With their money and their marquee, they are a magnetic draw to an overseas sensation like Masahiro Tanaka, who buttoned up a No. 19 pinstriped jersey on Tuesday, tugged on that famous navy blue cap and proclaimed, in English, “I’m very happy to be a Yankee.”

To Tanaka’s right, on a dais before more than 200 reporters in a dining hall at Yankee Stadium, the team’s top executives clapped in delight. After missing the playoffs with an ancient, brittle roster, they had faced the prospect of a long, cold, lonely winter if they wanted to adhere to the goal of reducing their luxury-tax rate. Instead, they invested $470 million, and the penalties, in new talent.

“We know what our fans expect,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “They expect us to field a championship-caliber team, every year, as best we can. I think we’ve got a very good team. We have to stay healthy; that’s a given. But with a normal year of injuries, we’re going to be a force.”

Steinbrenner may be right. At worst, the point is debatable, but that really does not matter. What matters is that the Yankees are interesting again — and for pure baseball reasons, not the dark specter of an Alex Rodriguez controversy. How many homers will Brian McCann send over the inviting right-field wall? How will Jacoby Ellsbury energize the top of the lineup — and how will he play against his old team, the champion Boston Red Sox? How will Carlos Beltran perform on this side of town? Admit it. If you’re a baseball fan, you’re interested in those story lines. You will tune in again and maybe even buy tickets. And of all the stories, none is as compelling as Tanaka’s.

At 25, he is by far the youngest impact player on the Yankees. He showed a star’s flair with his arrival Sunday at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a rented 787 that transported only six passengers, including his pop-star wife and his poodle. It cost him an estimated $200,000. Tanaka said Tuesday that he chose such an extravagance because he wanted to arrive in top physical condition and had few other options. He mostly slept on the flight, anyway.

A more telling revelation was his reason for joining the Yankees. Tanaka sidestepped a question about the offers from other teams; the Yankees have already said that they outbid the field with their seven-year, $155 million deal. Money mattered, of course, but so did the stage. “I’ve heard this place could be very harsh to you at times,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I just wanted to put myself, though, in this environment and try and see where I can get to with my ability.”

The Yankees have tracked Tanaka for years. General Manager Brian Cashman said the scouting reports would “dance and sing” as they came across his desk. When Tanaka was finally cleared to meet with interested teams last month, the Yankees dispatched eight people to see him. Cashman said no other team sent more. Cashman compared Tanaka to Orlando Hernandez, who brought a winning swagger from Cuba in 1998. Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, said Tanaka’s self-assurance reminded him of Hideki Matsui, the Japanese outfielder whose 2003 introduction was the only news conference to attract more reporters than Tanaka’s, the team said. “We went out to L.A. and met him and talked to him, to try and say, ‘This is where you need to be, you’re a great star, the biggest franchise, the biggest brand, the biggest city,’ ” Levine said. “He said some other teams had wanted him to transition in, and he didn’t like that. He wanted to take the ball on Day 1. That told us a lot about him.”

No pitcher in major league history has posted a record as dazzling as Tanaka’s for the Rakuten Eagles last season: 24 wins, no losses. His 1.27 earned run average last season would be the best by a major league starter since Bob Gibson in 1968. His save in the final game of the Japan Series, after his start the night before, evokes Randy Johnson against the Yankees in 2001. The Yankees have cautioned against overhype. Pitchers from Japan must get used to the hitters, a slightly larger ball and a less rigorous throwing program. (Kei Igawa, a spectacular failure a few years ago, confounded the Yankees by throwing against a fence, on his own time, unsupervised.) But Cashman’s assertion on ESPN Radio that Tanaka has merely the potential to be a No. 3 starter was hard to believe. If the Yankees wanted a No. 3 starter, they could have signed Matt Garza and saved about $120 million.

“How he’ll settle in in the States, at least in fairness, I’m going to say — especially in the first year — a No. 3 starter,” Cashman reiterated Tuesday. “And if we get more, all the better. We think he’s got a great deal of ability. We’re excited to have him join this franchise. We’ve got a lot of high-end talent we brought in, including him.”

True enough, but Tanaka is the only notable addition to a pitching staff that lost Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera and has questions everywhere. C. C. Sabathia allowed the most earned runs in the majors. Hiroki Kuroda, 39, fell apart down the stretch. Ivan Nova has struggled to be consistent. Michael Pineda has not thrown a major league pitch since 2011. In other words, Tanaka needs to be elite, right away, for the Yankees to have much of a chance. He would not label himself an ace, but he seems to share his new fans’ expectations.“ When I take the mound,” Tanaka said, “I feel like I like to win every single game.”

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With Spring Training Just Around the Corner….

February 9th, 2014 by

Steinbrenner Field

…..I thought it was time I posted here. Just a few things on my mind:

  • I’m very relieved that A-Rod decided to drop his lawsuits and his threat of appearing in Tampa. I don’t think he’ll go off into the sunset never to be heard from in 2014, however. There’s probably at least one big interview coming (Oprah? Matt Lauer? Anderson Cooper? Good Old Michael Kay?). I don’t know what he could possibly say since he’s unlikely to admit he used PEDs. He seems more interested in trying to repair relationships with his fellow players, the fans and the sport itself by not fighting everybody in court. As one of the writers said, he’s decided he’d rather be Ryan Braun than Pete Rose. No winners in all this. He’s tarnished. MLB’s tarnished. And then there’s the matter of third base for the Yankees. Will we get any production out of whoever will end up playing there this season? (Hopefully someone not acquired in a trade for Brett Gardner.)
  • I’m looking forward to Tanaka’s press conference and, of course, his first outing on the mound. Cashman says he’s a #3 pitcher in the rotation – I like Cash’s idea of lowering our expectations – but I have a feeling Tanaka will do better than anticipated despite the learning curve. After all, he’ll have quite a mentor in Kuroda.
  • I’m hopeful that Jeter will stay healthy and play well. He won’t be the Jeter of the past, but as long as he can perform at a high level, his comeback won’t be a cringe-worthy experience for anyone.
  • I’m eager to see how CC rebounds from his off-year; ditto Tex after his wrist injury. I’m excited about McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran and all the other newbies. I’m psyched to watch baseball, period.

But here’s the thing – and I hope I won’t be disappointing anybody – I’ve decided not to post on this blog as often as I used to over the years. I’m not shutting it down by any means and I intend to add my two cents whenever there’s something of interest to me, but I just don’t have the time these days to write after every game. Not that I won’t be tempted to. And not that I wouldn’t love it if others wanted to leave comments whenever their mood strikes. “Confessions of a She-Fan” can be an open forum for everybody and I’ll answer when I can. My focus now is on my books though – I’m slaving away to get a new novel out there – so I’ll likely be posting more often on the Mainly Jane blog than I will here. I’m also on social media a lot, and you can always find me on Twitter here or on Facebook here and here.

Right now I’m into the Olympics, figure skating especially, and look forward to each day’s events. (Poor Bob Costas and his pink eye. Not a good time to get that!) And on March 2nd comes the Oscars, my personal Super Bowl, and the parade of stars and gowns and movies, all of which I’ve seen. But soon – very soon – there will be a new baseball season, a chance to start over, a chance to get back to the postseason, a chance to win a championship. Who will be the success stories and who will fall by the wayside? Baseball is the best reality show on television and I can’t wait.

 

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