Hit Hard

Best of everything to the Indians’ 2006 1st-pick pitcher David Huff, who generously waved to reassure the crowd after A-Rod’s line drive ricocheted off his face into center field in his first start at Yankee Stadium. Sadly ironic is the comparison that analysts have made between him and his star opposing pitcher CC Sabathia, who was also the Indians’ top pick, back in 1998.

I am glad A-Rod showed his concern, crawling-in gingerly from 2nd to stay nearby behind him.

What a terrible game for CC to try to win.

No Longer the Latter-Day Ramiro Mendoza

Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves now IS Ramiro Mendoza. This is new this season, and tonight’s 2-inning no-hit performance was a fitting tribute to his predecessor in his first appearance as Mendoza himself. (Yankees 6 @ Red Sox 4) He was dubbed “the latter-day Ramiro Mendoza” last year by WCBS radio’s Yankees broadcaster John Sterling largely because of his ability to pitch effectively at any point in the game, especially in extended middle relief, and to execute a wide repertoire of pitches “that move,” as Sterling’s broadcast partner Suzyn Waldman says, and which emerge from a disconcerting variety of arm angles, much as Mendoza did for the Yanks during the late 1990’s before being unceremoniously cut and left for the Red Sox to pick up. (I should say “pick up the pieces. Mendoza so wanted to stay with his team that he said “I want to die a Yankee.”) I remember then-manager Joe Torre asserting that he had “ice in his veins.” Aceves’ moniker entered the airwaves last season after a conversation among Sterling, Waldman, and NY Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand, during the “Daily News Fifth” inning segment. It soon took on a life of its own, and Waldman seems to find a charming way for Sterling to make the observation afresh each time Aceves comes to the mound, as she did tonight.

Why I Love John Sterling

“The game was a tidy 3 hours and 48 minutes.” Straight, no sarcasm. (Yankees 6 @ Boston 4)

That’s how WCBS radio play-by-play man John Sterling presented the duration of tonight’s opening series-tying win by the Yankees in Boston. Sure, he and partner Suzyn Waldman joke about how long the games between the Yankees and Red Sox can be, but they are rarely exasperated. Sometimes they even sound like kids who can’t believe how late they get to stay up. By contrast, I can’t overestimate how many times I have heard Sterling’s TV counterpart on the YES Network say it differently:

“The game was an unmanageable ___ hours and ___ minutes.” I’ve even heard him complain about games in the 2 hour range. Such a balloon buster can Michael Kay be. I am not even curious if he repeated his mantra tonight.

Opening Day Report: 2010

Well, it was the unofficial Opening Day, anyway, for those who don’t count the 1–game showstopper on Sunday, incomprehensibly staged in Boston after the Yanks won the World Series last year. Yes, yes, we know. The schedule is arranged beforehand. Still, Yankee fans will remember that the Opening Day 2005 rematch between the Yankees and Red Sox was also held in Boston, following Boston’s first championship in 86 years on the heels of the Yankees’ collapse in the 2004 ALCS after a highly-charged season marked by on-field hostilities between these 100+-year rivals. But at least, that year, the whole country — that is, Baseball Nation — wasn’t held hostage to a single game in the allegedly “liberal elite” northeast, paradoxically home to these 2 mega-corporations (by baseball standards) which are so often accused of monopolizing not just the national broadcast agenda but the game itself, while handing out millions to front offices across “the real America,” where the fruits of revenue sharing are too often treated like entitlements and frittered on anything except the very players that would draw the kind of crowds that support winning teams while creating profits. On the political ambiguities of baseball, enough said, for the moment.

Opening Day April 5, 2010: Some Highlights
Garrett Jones put the Allegheny River on the baseball map yesterday! The Pirates picked up right where I saw them leave the Dodgers flailing near the end of last season: Bucco Paradise: PNC Park. (Dodgers 5 @ Pirates 11) Nice that David Wright could reclaim CitiField after a tough year, with a HR on a new opening day. (Marlins 1 (@ Mets 7) Tigers batted .308, largely off Greinke’s relievers, and Detroit’s bullpen shut down the Royals for 4 innings after Verlander’s brief outing at Kauffman Stadium, where I have not been, yet. (Tigers 8 @ Royals 4)

Buehrle! I just listened to yesterday’s Right Sox host the Indians. 7 shutout innings for the win. That was some play in the 5th, running into foul territory for a ball that had struck his ankle/shin, then flipping between his legs to Konerko, who caught it barehanded. I am glad he started strong after struggling following the perfect game last year. (I attended the disappointing match-up with Sabathia at The Cell shortly after that.) It was also refreshing to see the team score in early innings with 2 outs and runners in scoring position. Alex Rios seemed sharp after last year’s talk of “lackadaisicality” in his approach. (Indians 0 @ Right Sox 7)

Yankee Reject Report: Opening Day 2010

April 5, 2010 (Monday)
(Following the 1-game official MLB Opening Day April 4 (Yankees 7 @ Red Sox 9)

Tiger Johnny Damon scored twice against Kansas City but Phil Coke allowed 2 hits to 3 batters faced in 2/3 of a 4-pitcher 7th inning, in which he also allowed one inheirited runner to score. Farnsworth pitched a 1-2-3 9th. (Royals 4 @Tigers 8). Angel Hit-The-Dek-i Matsui, batting clean-up, christened his arrival in LA with a go-ahead single in the 5th followed by an 8th inning HR, pale only next to his Yankee Stadium debut –hitting a Grand Slam– and his parting shot –leaving as World Series MVP. Juan Rivera hit an RBI single in the 2nd. (Twins 3 @Angels 6) Brave Melky Cabrera, batting lead-off, walked and scored in the first and advanced a runner to 3rd (Nate McClouth) on an 8-pitch fly-out in the 6th. Eric Hinske hit an RBI triple (Jason Heyward) and then scored in his one at-bat, in the 8th. (Cubs 5 @Braves 16)

Yankees: off, after losing MLB official season opener Sunday.

Yankees Lackey-ing Pitching

God help the Yankees.

Before Boston just landed the Angels’ ace righty John Lackey, the Yankees needed to sign a major arm. We all watched New York strain through the postseason on 3 starters and the fumes of their fabled closer Mariano Rivera. Make that 2 starters and a Burnout. Having dropped tens of millions last year to acquire the top half of their rotation plus a first baseman who can field even better than he hits, the Yankees were nonetheless widely reported ready to take on another huge starting salary for one of 2 newly free agent righties: Toronto’s perennial phenom Doc Roy Halladay (RHP) or Bulldog John “It’s Mine” Lackey. This surprised me, and I could not take it for granted, especially after Detroit’s Curtis Granderson joined their outfield committee a few days ago.

When I heard that Boston was loosening its hold on their expensive left fielder Jason Bay, the quease started. What were they going to do with that money? Was it worth it to switch-up Matt Holliday for Bay? Or,…

Sure enough, early today I read the Twitter sighting: Lackey was seen at Fenway. I couldn’t eat for hours. Next thing I knew, the MLB Network was reporting a 3-way deal that would send Halladay to the reigning NL Pennant holders, the Phillies, whose recently-acquired World Series star lefty Cliff Lee would move to Seattle. Well, if a hunger strike could help the Yanks, well, by now I was losing my appetite the way some people lose keys. Good thing Guinness is food.

We are in trouble. And who knows how tired-out Sabathia and Pettite will be. While we are wondering, let us pray that God continues gracing Mo’s cutter with divine inevitability and ministerial conviction.