The Pinstriped Bible — LIVE from the Bronx

andybiblepinstriped09.jpgMORE FROM THE BALLPARK ( 9:35 p.m.)
As I write, the Yankees are batting in the bottom of the fourth. Andy Sonnanstine, who has not been particularly good this year, have held them to one hit (three hits — in the time it took me to complete this sentence, Teixeira singled and Matsui doubled. Either the Yankees are heating up or my sentences are too long). The Rays have played some excellent defense, as is to be expected given that by at least one measure, defensive efficiency, the Rays are the best leather team in the league — just as they were last year.

With two runners on, the ballpark is plenty loud — I wonder if the acoustics are really as has been said or the fans haven’t had enough to cheer about… And Cano flies out to Carl Crawford in left, and all at once it’s quiet again.

A little earlier, A.J. Burnett skipped a ball through Dioner Navarro’s toes, and that reminded me of a brief encounter I had with sports talk radio earlier today. The caller to Sirius-XM’s midmorning show argued that what the Yankees needed to do to beat the Red Sox was hit them with more pitches. We seem to hear this sentiment every time the Yankees drop a series to the Sox: the Sox intimidate the Yankees but the Yankees don’t intimidate them. It sounds pathetic. I can never remember the old saying correctly — is violence the first refuge of the incompetent of the last? It seems to work either way. Whichever the case, such sentiments are an example of it. The way the Yankees will beat the Red Sox is to win some games. I know it’s a novel idea, but if they hit better than .150 with runners in scoring position against Boston, they’ll score some runs, maybe even more runs than Boston scores. Engaging in a beanball war is not going to achieve much more than getting players suspended at best and hurt at worst. These teams see each other a lot of times this year, and the last thing either of them needs is to see sporting competitiveness spill over into violence.

The thing that really struck me about the call, after its ignorance, was its super-ignorance. The Yankees have hit EIGHT Red Sox this year. The Red Sox have hit TWO Yankees. Don’t you have an obligation to watch the actual games before making so reckless a recommendation? Couldn’t the Yankees try hitting a few home runs before starting a fight? All we are saying is give peace a chance. Or at least common sense.

As I put the pen down on this particular entry, it is the top of the sixth. The Rays have two on and one out after a Jason Bartlett sac bunt (Bartlett had struck out in his two previous at-bats, so the bunt sorta kinda makes sense). Burnett is already over 100 pitches, and I see someone loosening in the bullpen. “Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.” Maybe it’s howling at Jose Veras. Wouldn’t you?

———-

SCENES FROM A BALLPARK ( 7:23 p.m.)
The Pinstriped Bible comes to you from the Bronx, New York this evening, where the Yankees and Rays are about to joust. Let’s see… The Rays thrashed the Red Sox, the Red Sox thrashed the Yankees, so next in the sequence is… Yankees thrash Rays? My boss is in the seat next to me, so I’m sticking with that line. Not good to look too curmudgeonly and pessimistic in front of the guy who signs the checks.

Despite the tough losses of the last few days, there was a lot of animated good spirits on display on the pregame field. Bernie Williams was on hand, joking with Derek Jeter, then chatting with Melky Cabrera behind the cage. I couldn’t make out what they were talking about — the ballpark amps were at 11 — but I hope it was some insight about growing at the major league level or how to hit from the right side, and not the best way to shift to an F#m chord from a D#7 diminished chord without breaking your fingers. Reggie Jackson was also on hand, in uniform (Williams was in civvies), watching over batting practice and chatting eagerly with some reporters (off the record ad strictly personal, natch). A few feet away, John Sterling was interviewing Joe Girardi, but somehow Joe was doing a lot more listening than talking.

I briefly tried to imagine that it was 1927, and the Yankees taking batting practice were Ruth, Gehrig, Meusel, etcetera, but quickly gave up: it was too bloody loud. In 1927 batting practice must have sounded like batting practice: the crack of the bat, a few people shouting on the field and in the stands.

CRACK

Silence.
Silence.
Silence.

CRACK

Silence.
Silence.
Silence.

CRACK

It must have been pure heaven.

swisher_pblog_050609.jpgAs Nick Swisher came out of the cage, Girardi asked him a question. I assume it was, “How did you feel hitting today?” or something like that. Swisher made a face, shook his head, and must have said something sarcastic, because Girardi bopped him over the helmet with the mitt he was carrying. Swisher isn’t tall, but Girardi had to do a little hop-step-jump in order to pull off the gesture.

Angel Berroa and Brett Gardner took extra batting practice. Berroa caught my eye when he cracked a ball far deeper into the stands than any of the Yankee regulars had–you’ll note that whereas every Yankee starter could put on a show in batting practice, most of them are more applied in their work, drilling line drives in one turn in the cage, pulling balls in another, and so on. Berroa was hitting deep flies, and one traveled deep into the right field bleachers, landing just short of the back row, just in front of the “26 World Champions” sign. This seemed like a wasted drill–Berroa is not going to be cranking balls out of the park under game condition. It’s just not a skill he has. Few hitters achieve any kind of consistency when uppercutting the ball and trying to hit home runs, and Berroa won’t be the first. Why not try to develop a skill that will keep you on a Major League roster instead of one that won’t?

Gardner’s BP seemed, to my weak, rhino-like eyes, to be a mixed bag. On some swings he used the lower half of his body to pull crisp line drives to right, including one which carried out of the park. On a few other swings, he lunged with his upper body as he has been doing in games, and hit something weak the other way. As he finished, he turned to Kevin Long and asked, “How was that?” I didn’t catch Long’s response, as at just that moment, the scoreboard kicked off the Graig Nettles “Yankeeography” at such volume that John Sterling could have been chastising the Hebrews for their dalliance with the Golden Calf, or threatening to turn Sodom into a parking lot. At one point I looked up and saw an image of Tommy Lasorda as big as an aircraft carrier. “Surrender, Dorothy!” he screamed. I dropped to my knees. In doing so, I narrowly avoided being run down by the entire Rays roster, which was engaged in a pregame stretching exercise in which they hopped, skipped, and jumped down the third base line singing, “Three Little Maids from School Are We.” Okay, they didn’t really sing that, but they could have — they were skipping to the proper rhythm.

This should in no way be construed as a comment on the collective masculinity of the Rays. The only point, if there is one, is that grown men rarely looked dignified when hopping and skipping. It’s also a good way to lose your wallet.

8 Comments

ook im 18 years old….CAN I BE THE YANKEES SKIPPER!!!!…I’ll make sure the yankees play With heart..dey playin like dey dont want it a ring……Joe Girardi is the wrong skipper…we need a Coach like BILLY MARTIN and im serious man..we lookin like BUMB’S…im A tru yankees fan and right now i no the yankees are not make it no were near the world series by the way dey playin at the moment….we need to stop changein the line up so much and sit down the people dat are not playin good…And take out Brian Cashman..He Is not worth havein no more…MR Steinbrenner…DO THE RIGHT DECISION…WE NEED TO MAKE DIZ TEAM LIKE 1998 Yankees…..HOPE THE YES NETWORK READS DIZ AND GIVE TO MR Steinbrenner….!!!CAN I BE A COACH FOR ONE DAY!!!

Well another nite wasted watching this horrible team. I would like to know how come every player gets mentioned about not hitting or fielding or he’s the reason we lost and one player always manages to slip under the radar? He was 0 for 5 last nite, shoddy fielding and yet no mention. He has to be one of the worst leadoff hitters in the league. When are you writers going to let his “”halo”” fall or pull his wings off? I won’t mention his name as “”the fans”” will think I’m evil!! We should have signed Hudson. The guy we have is suppose to be the heart and soul of the Yanks?? Duh,duh,duh…. If this guy is suppose to be our “”sparkplug”” then he is all carboned up.

I follow the games but I don’t look at the standings much – so I was very surprised to see the Yankees are only a game under .500 and not that far out. Seems like they lose everyday! So, to be optimistic…..maybe, just maybe….with a little luck and hard work things might get better when some injured players come back and other pressing issues get resolved. Time will tell.

I think proclaiming to be a Yankee fan always opens someone to criticism. I understand that. They have rich owners who make no bones about spending top dollar to put a quality team on the field.
And Steinbrenner has a history of being a bit of a demagogue.

But there has always been the feeling that George Steinbrenner does what he does because he loves the Yankees and is interested in giving Yankee fans something to cheer about.

It feels like that’s changed.

The new stadium brought about higher ticket prices. Not taking into account that the economy would tank seems to have resulted in there being alot of empty seats around home plate and by the dugouts because people just can’t afford them.

And then you have what happened Monday night….The game got delayed for two hours and fans who were told that the game was rained out weren’t allowed back in….One of which was a mother who flew in from Oregon to take her sixteen year old son to a game at the new ballpark as a birthday present.

Now perhaps she was compensated in some way. But if that has happened, it hasn’t been reported.

And now we read that Paul O Neil, a player once referred to by George as a Warrior, was told to get away from the batting cages recently.

I think the fact that the Steinbrenners have been silent about how Yankee fans (along with former players who were instrumental in winning four World Series rings) have been treated and how the 200 million dollar team has performed is what really seems to stink the most.

No press release expressing embarrassment about the Monday night fiasco or how poorly this team has performed?

If this is how Hank and Hal are going to run things, then Yankee fans are entering a dark period.

Steven, as always, thanks for your commentary. To further address the idea that the Yankees need to hit the Red Sox with pitches in order to beat them (wow, I feel stupid just writing that) you could also have brought up the fact that they actually did that and it still didn’t work.

You may recall Joba Chamberlain plunking Jason Bay in the back with a first pitch fastball. You may further recall that the Yankees lost that game. (I went back and looked at the PitchFx data and sure enough, Joba’s fastball command that day was excellent. It is possible that the pitch just got away from him, though first pitch fastballs seldom do so, and especially not from a pitcher with such excellent control.)

Anyway, great column as always. I’ll keep reading ’em as long as you keep writing ’em.

Steve,

The correct quote from Isaac Asimov is “violence is the last rufuge of the incompetent” from his excellent 1942 novel Foundation. Keep up the excellent work!!

urbanshawk – i couldn’t agree with you more.

I’m sorry, but I’ve been a big Girardi guy, and we have to do something. I look at four people who lost yesterday’s game for us, in order here from most to least to blame:
1. The umpire. Pena was safe, you moron. That was the game there.
2. Phil Coke/Jose Molina. Phil Coke for making the pitch, and Jose for calling it.
3. Joe Girardi. Mo hasn’t pitched for like what, five days, and he was on fire! AND he owns lefties (he was a lefty, right?). Keep in Mo!
4. Texeira. Texeira. Texeira. What can you say? From hero to goat in two innings. Why couldn’t you just pop it into the outfield a little deeper?

Nothig you could do about the umpire, Tex for the most part had a pretty good game, and that was Coke’s first bad pitch in a while. Leaving us to Girardi. This is the second game (the other being vs. the Royals) I look at and say if it were managed better we would have won. I propose we get Sparky Lyle to manage the Yanks. Sparky manages a minor league team called the Somerset Patriots and has won four championships with them, including one on a walk off HR just last year. Why not try him out if they’re going to look? I know I’d love it, Sparky is the man!

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