Showing posts from August, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Tiger Stadium

We made our one and only visit to Tiger Stadium on June 12th, 1992 . It was a Friday night game against the Orioles. Baltimore's Mike Mussina was the player of the game (he's warming up in the image below), as he tossed a complete game, six-hit shutout. But the star of the night was the ballpark itself. Massive, yet intimate, with seats closer to the field than you'd expect in a venue this size. While no one ever enjoyed sitting behind a post, the advantage came from it enabling the seating bowl to seemingly hover over the playing field. 1992 would not be a vintage Tigers season -- the club finished 75-87. You get a hint of the fans' disinterest from this photo -- notice the vast amount of empty seats. For our traveling trio of Dennis, Charles and myself, three guys from New York, the priorities were different. We got to savor the experience of a classic park from baseball's past, heading into its final decade.

If Your Birthday is August 30th

Image share it with a pair of pitchers, who between them, have won more than 290 games! A Cardinal mainstay for the past decade, Adam Wainwright (above), is a two-time 20 game winner who has finished in the Top 3 of the National League Cy Young voting. Cliff Lee (below) has a Cy on his shelf. He won the AL Award in 2008 when he won 22 games for the Indians, including a pair of complete game shutouts. Unlike Wainwright, he was a friend of the moving companies, moving from Cleveland to Philadelphia, Seattle, Texas and then back to Philadelphia, where he pitched the final four seasons of an injury-shortened career. Who else marches in our August 30th birthday parade? Billy Burns , the speedy outfielder who's played for the Athletics and Royals. Roberto Hernandez , the well traveled pitcher once known as Fausto Carmona, who was Lee's teammate for several seasons with the Indians. Marlon Byrd , the well traveled outfielder who was Lee's teammate on the 2014 Phillies.

In the Battle of Aces...

..the one from Cleveland prevailed. Monday night, the Yankees and Indians matched aces, Luis Severino for New York against the Indians' Corey Kluber. Both were nicked for a couple of runs over six innings. But while Severino faded in the 7th, Kluber continued to stifle the Yankees. A day after scoring 10 runs against the Mariners, the Yanks managed just a pair off Kluber, who worked the first eight innings and raised his record to 13-4. A shout out goes to the Indians' batting star. 2nd baseman Jose Ramirez belted a pair of home runs off Severino. One of baseball's least known stars, this 2017 All Star raised his batting average back to .300. And he doesn't mind getting his uniform dirty,

A Few More Takeaways From Players Weekend

Two of the nicknames displayed were coined by Yankees radio voice John Sterling. Drawn from his signature home run calls, Robinson Cano's "Don't You Know" and Aaron Judge's "All Rise." Seattle 1st baseman Yonder Alonso offers the area code for his home town, Coral Gables, Florida. Players and coaches are also sporting sleeve patches to display personal messages. Yankees 1st base coach Tony Pena tips his cap to his parents. Zooming in for a clearer view of Tony's message, You have to appreciate the self-effacing humor shown by Seattle's Kyle Seager, whose sibling stars for the Dodgers. Would that be a variation of Tommy Smothers Syndrome? The Yankees 2nd baseman references being named to the Mid-Summer Classic. Wouldn't Guillermo Heredia's nickname be even more powerful if he wore 5? Gary Sanchez' nickname comes from the sea monster in the movie Clash of the Titans . Mariners relievers head to the b

Pickles and Chief

It's not a cartoon or a sitcom (although Dick Van Dyke and Get Smart fans might think otherwise). Our title comes from the nicknames Yankees Sonny Gray and Jacoby Ellsbury are displaying on their special Players Weekend shirts. And they were indeed special -- Gray with seven dominating innings (just a run and three hits, while striking out nine) and Ellsbury with four RBIs (from a 2nd inning single [below] and 4th inning three-run homer [bottom]). While it's still a kids game, the goal is winning, and on Saturday, despite a touch of visual silliness, the Yankees came through with a badly needed win. Regarding those handles, Gray told  the nickname was an inside clubhouse joke from his days with the Athletics, who noticed that his starts often seemed to align with the team wearing its green alternate jerseys. Ellsbury, of native American ancestry, chose to honor his roots. Here's a good look at Saturday's game-changing home run. That 4th inning home r

The Latest Slugging Phenom

Baseball has been re-energized as Gary Sanchez, Cody Bellinger, and Aaron Judge have joined Giancarlo Stanton as the game's most impressive young sluggers. Now, let's add another name to the conversation. Rhys Hoskins was promoted to the Phillies earlier this month and has already written his name in the record book: Friday night, he blasted a two-run homer in the 1st inning of the Phils 7-1 win over the Cubs. His 9th home run in 54 big league at-bats -- the fastest ever! It was also the sixth game day in a row that the rookie had cleared the fences. I was there for one of them. In the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader, Hoskins sent a bullet that bounced off the bushes just beyond the center field fence of Citizens Bank Park. One of the best reasons to catch minor league games is to get a glimpse of the future. I first saw Hoskins in 2016 with the Phillies' AA club in Reading. A couple of those photos were posted here last December ( click to se e ). Hoskins will

The Wrong Kind of Swing

Gary Sanchez has been one of baseball hottest hitters during August: crushing 11 home runs this month -- including four in the Yankees three-game series in Detroit. But a swing of the wrong kind is the one making headlines. During a brawl in Thursday's ugly, bean-ball fueled loss at Comerica, Sanchez punched Tigers star Miguel Cabrera. Many reports call it a sucker-punch, with Miggy unable to defend himself. And while Cabrera was among those ejected for the fighting that kept flaring up, Sanchez was not. You know MLB officials will be looking at the video from this fiasco. A suspension for the All Star catcher is likely to result. And that will hurt the Yankees as they try and secure a Wild Card and maybe make one last push toward the first-place Red Sox. Leadership isn't the same as recklessness. Sanchez -- who was hit by Detroit starter Michael Fullmer an inning after his 400-something-foot blast -- had a right to feel victimized. But how much is too much, when a three

So Near and So Far Away

That famous lyric from Tony Orlando's '60s classic "Halfway to Paradise" could well describe Rich Hill's bid for history on Wednesday night. The Dodger lefthander took a perfect game against the Pirates into the 9th inning. Then things slowly unraveled: Logan Forsythe's error gave Pittsburgh its first baserunner. But Hill got out of the inning without further damage. The trouble was that his side hadn't scored, either. Running counter to "modern baseball," Hill came out to start the 10th inning; after all, he'd yet to give up a hit. Give Dodger manager Dave Roberts credit for showing faith in him. But the magical night ended on Hill's 99th pitch -- a fastball that Josh Harrison crushed for a home run and 1 - 0 Pirates victory. Although Hill allowed no hits over nine innings, his gem doesn't count as a no-hitter. A rule change a few years ago meant that Hill would have to complete the game without giving up a hit; since he didn'

46... heading for 60?

Sometimes scheduling works... and sometimes you have to force the issue.  As a season fueled in part by the home run heroics of Aaron Judge of Cody Bellinger passed the three-quarters mark, I realized I hadn't yet been able to catch Giancarlo Stanton in action. The Marlins three visits to New York hadn't dovetailed right with my schedule -- but I had one last, long-shot opportunity. Miami was set for a single-admission doubleheader Tuesday night in Philadelphia.  What we used to call a twi-nighter, gave Dennis and me the chance to see the game's number-one power source in action. And he did not disappoint. Top of the 7th inning, the Marlins up by 3, thanks for Ichiro's pinch hit homer. Stanton speared an Aaron Nola pitch sending it into the right field seats. His 13th home run so far this month. Number 46 on the season. Pro-rate that total for the entire season, and the Miami slugger could be on his way to matching Babe Ruth's 60 or Roger Maris' 61, the

If Your Birthday is August 22nd...

Image share it with Ray Burris . He pitched for eight major league teams over his 15 year career, but is best remembered for his time with the Cubs, where he won 15, 15 and 14 games from 1975-'77. These days, he's the pitching coach for the Phillies' top farm club in Lehigh Valley. Ray shares his birthday with another well-traveled pitcher, Randy Wolf . A product of the Phillies farm system, he reached his peak in 2003 when he went 16-10, but never put together a season as effective again. And we've got a couple of Hall of Famers (and 3000 hit club members) to round out our birthday parade: Carl Yastrzemski , the Red Sox beloved "Yaz." The greatest of his 23 seasons was 1967, when he won the Triple Crown for the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox team that won Boston's first pennant since the 1940s. Ironically, this Boston legend grew on Long Island. Just imagine if instead of succeeding Ted Williams, he'd have joined Mantle and Maris for t

Josh Bell

Josh Bell had one of the big bats last night as the Pirates beat the Cardinals 6 - 3. It was a special moment as Major League Baseball embraced the Little League World Series by "taking the show on he road." The weekly Sunday night game played in Williamsport, Pennyslvania at Bowman Field, not far from where the 12-year olds from around the world were battling for their chapionship. Playing in his first big league season, Bell got Pittsburgh off and rolling with a two-run homer in the 1st inning, and then added a 2-RBI single. It was an historic day that began with several Pirates and Cardinals attenting the Little League action across town, and appeared on the telecast speaking with the kids. Who knows if one of the young players seen on Sunday morning will become the next Todd Frazier, Wilson Alvarez, Lance Lynn, Jason Marquis or Gary Sheffield? All played in the Little League World Series and went onto enjoy long careers in the majors. Then, in prime time, the big lea

Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson is the latest Met veteran to be sent to a contender. With GM Sandy Alderson eager to evaluate his minor leaguers and see who might be able to break through next year, it wasn't a shock to see the Grandy Man, an off-season free agent, dealt away. He may well have hit the lottery -- he goes from the well-under .500 boys from Flushing to the club the best record in baseball. The Grandy Man had a nice final moment in a Met uniform -- belting a grand slam that brought his team close in Thursday's Subway Series game with the Yankees. 24 hours later, he was send to the Dodgers. The 36 year old veteran brings strength to the L.A. bench and post-season experience with both the Yankees and Mets (he belted three home runs in 2015 World Series against the Royals). Plus, he's a thoughtful guy and a valued clubhouse presence. Just what an organization trying to snap a 29-year absence from baseball's Fall Classic would want. Granderson makes friends whereev

Back and Healthy

Zooming in on Tyler Austin, another of the young Yankees whose 2017 was derailed by injuries. Thursday, in his first game back from the minors -- following a long stretch on the disabled list with first ankle, then hamstring issues -- Austin delivered a pair of hits and scored a run in a victory over the Mets. Expected to be part of a first base platoon with -- or serve as insurance for -- Greg Bird, Austin actually played fewer games with the Yanks than Bird. But healthy again, he could be another useful role play on a contending team.

The Night of the Sanchino

Gary Sanchez swung the big Yankee bat Thursday night as they completed a four-game Subway Series sweep of the Mets. A three-run homer in the 1st inning and a two-RBI double in the 4th inning bookended the Yanks scoring in their 7-5 victory over the Mets. Proving that Aaron Judge isn't the only Bronx Bomber, Sanchez crushed a Steven Matz changeup to give his side an immediate lead.  Mets outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto watch Sanchez' rocket leave the field. And below, the reception line back in the visitors' dugout. Later, Gary greeted reliever Chasen Bradford for what became -- after a Curtis Granderson 9th inning grand slam -- the winning margin. August appears to be Sanchez' favorite month. In the last 17 days, he has six homers and 13 RBIs -- with five home runs in his last nine games. That, after taking the American League by storm in August 2016 with 11 homers and 21 RBIs. As Yankee radio voice John Sterling is proud to say, "Gary

Throwback Thursday:

Back when yearbooks were an important part of my baseball reading, the cover of the Mets 1974 Yearbook made this a keeper. How many have you held onto over the years? Before the Internet served up an endless volume of statistics and stories, yearbooks used to be an important source of info about the players and other key personnel. Do you think the current editions feature photos of managers and executives posing with their wives? Times have changed! 1974 turned out to be anything but a vintage Mets season. The club hit its high-water mark in the third game -- after winning two of three. From there, it was downhill, as the Mets dropped under and stayed well under .500, finishing 71 - 91. With several key hitters -- such as Wayne Garrett, Rusty Staub and John Milner having off-seasons. the offense turned feeble. Perfect proof was Jon Matlack's finishing with a 13 - 15 record despite a stellar 2.41 ERA. The "Big Three" of Matlack, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman combi

Romine's Triple

Proving again it's often better to be lucky than good, I was in the right spot to capture Austin Romine's game-tying 5th inning triple in Sunday night's Yankees-Red Sox game. Let's start with the swing that produced the hardest-hit ball the Yanks produced off Boston ace Chris Sale. Standing in the photo well just past the Yankee dugout, I got nice view of Romine's follow-through. Pivoting quickly, I tracked the ball -- just evading Mookie Betts' leap as it bounced off the Lay's sign... and dropped to the ground. Time for Romine, who just slid into 3rd base, to catch his breath.

If Your Birthday is August 16th...

You share your birthday with Ryan Hanigan . The veteran catcher spent his first six years with Reds, before moving onto the Rays, Red Sox and currently the Rockies. It's easy to conclude that he likes "R" teams! Also on our August 16th cake and candles list: Delino DeShields , the Rangers outfielder and nameake son of the Expos speedster. J.C. Ramirez , a journeyman reliever who this season reinvented himself as a solid starting pitcher with the Angels. Roger Cedeno , who stole plenty of bases for the Mets and Tigers. Mike Jorgensen , the New York native and product of the city's top college baseball program St. John's. He spent parts of 17 seasons in the majors. We remember Gene Woodling , a lefty swinging outfielder on several Yankee pennant winners under Casey Stengel, who finished his major league career on Stengel's original 1962 Mets. One more notable name: that young Cardinal fan in her replica uniform. That's my daughter Leigh,

The Big 4-0's

The Yankees lived up to their Bronx Bombers signature in Monday night's Subway Series opener against the Mets. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez all belted home runs. Nice, but at first glance, nothing noteworthy. S.O.P. for the Yankees. But wait! The home runs by Judge, Hicks and Sanchez were the 40th of each player's respective career. The 40th by Judge, the 40th by Hicks and the 40th from Sanchez -- three guys reaching the same number all in the same game! That's like hitting Lotto. Think about the odds of it happening for two players in the same lineup: steep. Now, make it three players. Staggering odds. And yet, that's exacty what played out during the Yankees 4 - 2 win over the Mets.

Boston Youth

The Red Sox got major contributions from two of their rising stars as they came from behind to beat the Yankees Sunday night. Rafael Devers (above) homered in the top of the 9th off Aroldis Chapman to tie the game -- just the second time a lefthanded batter had ever homered off the fireballing closer -- while Andrew Benintendi's single an inning later drove home the deciding run. That came just a day after his pair of three-run homers spelled victory for the Sox. After a pair of hard fought games sandwiched around a Saturday blowout, Boston leaves the Bronx with a 5-1/2 game lead over their arch-rivals, with a rematch at Fenway beginning Friday night.