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Sunday, September 21, 2008

May 8, 1994:

It was an overcast day in the Bronx, rain clouds threatening to burst at any moment. Six-years-old and clad in my brand-new pinstriped Yankees cap, I walked into Yankee Stadium for the very first time. And I think it's fitting to allude to the old cliche, "Love at first sight." I sat on the lower deck about twenty rows from Don Mattingly and watched the Yankees, on the strength of back-to-back-to-back homeruns by Gerald Williams, Mike Stanley, and Danny Tartabull, beat the Red Sox by a score of 8-4.

From that point on I was hooked. Summertime meant trips to the Stadium to watch my beloved Bronx Bombers win. And win they did, consistently, everytime I was in attendance for more than five seasons. From my first playoff game in 1997, where the Yankees went down 5-0 in the first inning of Game 1 of the ALDS but managed an 8-6 comeback thanks, again, to three consecutive homeruns, this time by Tim Raines, Derek Jeter, and Paul O'Neill, to David Wells' 6 2/3 perfect innings in September of 1998, following up his May masterpiece. It wasn't until Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees and threw a complete game one-hitter to win his 21st game of the 1999 season that I was on hand for a Yankees loss.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't Be Alarmed...

...because it looks like old Kyle Farnsworth has returned, just in time to renew his role as the setup man now that Joba's headed to the rotation. Excellent timing, Kyle. Ugh, God help us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's Gotten in to Kyle Farnsworth?

Who is this man...

...And what happened to the Kyle Farnsworth we all know and loathe?

Something is amiss here.

This cannot possibly be the same man who took it upon himself to introduce Paul Wilson to a face-full of Wrigley dirt.

...And it certainly isn't Jeremy Affeldt's worst nightmare, reincarnated.

This isn't even the Yankees' much maligned mop-up man incapable of pitching more than an inning a night, whose balky back would act up without notice. (Because look at how fragile that Farnsworth was!)

There must be some kind of mistake. Because the current Kyle Farnsworth has been...dare I say it?... reliable.

I'm not sure we Yankee fans are ready for a world in which Kyle Farnsworth pitches on back-to-back nights, no longer walks the ballpark, and posts a respectable 2.84 ERA.


I am seriously alarmed now.

If only there were some kind of reasonable explanation for that smile, the hair, the glasses, and this new softer side of Kyle Farnsworth.

Wait, wait. What do we have here?

"Farnsworth is taking PR steps to improve it (his
public reputation). He recently hired Steve
, a marketing consultant who
has worked with Damon, Alex Rodriguez and
Williams among others" (Feinsand, 2008)

Ah, that is enlightening. I was worried that someone mistakenly subjected him to a brain transplant when he spent the offseason in the hospital with a staph infection that almost cost him a leg.

But Kyle, do you really want the man in charge of your public persona to be the same one Alex Rodriguez uses? I'm not sure that's the best course of action.

Any day now, Farnsworth will be spotted sunbathing in Central Park, passing out at the birth of one of his children, wandering Toronto with an exotic dancer, and wondering if people dislike him because he's good-looking, biracial, and because he plays for the most popular team.
It should be fascinating to watch.
For the record, this post was published a day before the same story appeared on Deadspin(which was weird, considering the article I referenced is two months old). Just sayin'.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Day 2008: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

The 2008 season finally gets under way for the Yankees today, marking their final season at The House That Ruth Built.

The league's top two pitchers in terms of winning percentage over the past two seasons will be toeing the rubber for their respective teams (Roy Halladay and Chien-Ming Wang), and the Yankees' Opening Day starter will also be celebrating his 28th birthday.

Lineups are set for both clubs.

Baseball is back!

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008 Season Preview

With the commencement of the 2008 Yankees season just a week away, I thought now would be a good time to resurface and give my thoughts on another year of Yankee baseball.
With only three games remaining, Spring Training has gone incredibly well for the New York Yankees (knock on wood). About this time last season, it was announced that Carl Pavano, of all people, would be the Opening Day starter, thanks to the plethora of injuries that befell the pitching staff before the games even counted.
Fast forward one year, and the staff, as well as the entire roster, is not only intact, but in excellent shape, thanks to Joe Girardi's renewed emphasis on conditioning and the Yankees' desire to avoid 2007's disastrous, injury-plagued beginning. Andy Pettitte is the only concern at this point, as he continues to deal with the back spasms that caused him to miss his last start.

Given that the biggest question mark going into the 2008 season surrounds the pitching staff, I figured today we'd take a look at the starting rotation.
With the most wins of any Major League starter over the past two seasons, Chien-Ming Wang will start the season opener on March 31st, and the Yankees hope to see more of the same from their ace. Wang is a steady presence on the mound, and equipped with his devastating sinker, should have yet another successful campaign.
Andy Pettitte is slated to be the No. 2 starter, although the longer he is hampered by a sore back, the less likely he is to be ready to go on April 2nd. Pettitte is essential to the Yankees' success this season. If they hope to make the playoffs, the always consistent Pettitte will need to make about 35 starts and throw 200+ innings because the back end of the rotation have innings-limits and there is only so much of a burden Girardi can put on his bullpen. Pettitte also has to continue to contend with the fallout from the Mitchell Report and the Roger Clemens saga, but I honestly don't see that being an issue that will manifest itself on the playing field.
Veteran Mike Mussina is the No. 3 starter, and he looks to rebound from an injury-filled 2007 in which his season ERA ballooned to over 5.00 thanks, in large part, to an abysmal August. Mussina has had a very good spring and is about as intelligent a pitcher as you'll find in the game, so I look for a bounce back season for Moose, so long as he stays healthy and gets a little bit of luck (I don't know about anyone else, but it seems to me that Mussina is incredibly unlucky. Either he gets no run support, the bullpen blows a lead, or his fielders- especially A-Rod- fail him and make a ton of errors).
At the back end of the rotation, the Yankees are counting on a 21 and a 23-year-old with less than a full year of Major League service between them.

Phil Hughes is coming into his first full M.L. season after an up-and-down rookie campaign. While he may not always have looked like the highly-touted phenom that all the hype had suggested, there were flashes of brilliance from Hughes, especially his relief appearance and victory in the ALDS and, of course, the 6 1/3 no-hit bid in only his second big league start. A pulled hamstring forced him out of that game and onto the D.L., and he suffered a setback with an ankle injury while rehabbing. Coming into the 2008 season, Hughes is back to 100% and knows now what to expect at the big league level. He's gotten knocked around a bit in Spring Training, but that doesn't concern me in the least. I've loved what I've seen from him; he has command of all his pitches, he's poised on the mound, and he seems remarkably mature for a 21-year-old whose been called "Baby Rocket." I think we'll soon believe the hype surrounding Phil Hughes.
Ian Kennedy is the final pitcher in the Yankees' starting formula. There is nowhere near as much publicity for him as there is for Hughes and Chamberlain, but Kennedy will play an equally important role in the pitching staff. He may not throw as hard as Hughes or intimidate batters the way Joba can, but he is arguably the most polished of the three, and showed last September that he absolutely belongs in the same company. Kennedy has impeccable control and can throw all of his wide assortment of pitches for strikes. He has already been compared to teammate Mike Mussina (who has taken him under his wing this spring) and Greg Maddux. Kennedy won't overpower you, but like the cerebral Mussina, he can outthink you. And the Yankees are banking on that.
(All photos, with the exception of my own Stadium shot, from Yahoo! Sports , Yankee Kids, and Getty Images)