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.
“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.
Umpire Assignments ALDS Game 1, MIN@NYY 6:37pm at Yankee Stadium:
HP: Tim Tschida (Crew Chief), 1B: Chuck Meriwether, 2B: Mark Wegner, 3B: Paul Emmel, LF: Jim Joyce, RF: Phil Cuzzi.
CC Sabathia (NYY-P) lost a strike call on a 2-2 pitch to Orlando Cabrera (MIN-SS), opening a stream of 2-out baserunners. Cabrera advanced to 3rd on Joe Mauer’s (Joe Mauer-MIN-C) 4-pitch double and then scored on Michael Cuddyer’s (MIN-1B) single on the first pitch he saw. Mauer subsequently scored on Jorge Posada’s (NYY-C) second passed ball of the game – during Jason Kubel’s (MIN-RF) 5-pitch at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. This put the Yankees behind 2-0 in a game that they were widely favored to win. (The opposition played on little sleep after arriving in New York at 3.30am following a nail-biting 12-inning win over Detroit night for the right to fly into New York.)
The color commentator for WCBS Radio, Suzyn Waldman, at first seemed to chastise Sabathia for his evident disappointment at losing the strikeout, because he had already tried that pitch and failed to get the call. On review, however, Waldman said she could see why Sabathia – and the 50,000 in the stands – felt robbed. Characteristically disinclined to stir controversy, her partner, play-by-play man John Sterling, noncommittally stated that it looked very close.
Effect: Instead of getting out of the inning unscathed, Sabathia was hit-up for 2 runs and threw 11extra pitches – equivalent to a short inning – on a night when his pitch count was already running high with 4 strikeouts before the 3rd inning ended, and starting with Denard Span’s (MIN-CF) game-opening 7-pitch double. The Yankees failed to score first, losing the psychological advantage and comfort zone for their starter, and, significantly, they were facing a pitcher who, albeit inexperienced, was unknown to them, exactly the type of pitcher to stymie Yankee bats since late in the Joe Torre era, if I remember correctly. But Derek Jeter (NYY-SS) immediately pulled a HR to left (very unusual for him), scoring 2, and removing Sabathia’s deficit. In the 4th, Nick Swisher (NYY-RF) doubled-in Robinson Cano (NYY-2B), earning the lead for the Yankees, who held onto it and in fact built on it through the 7th inning. Sabathia was able to pitch through most of the 7th with no further scoring by Minnesota, having earned just the 1 run. (Minnesota’s second run was unearned, because it came in on a passed ball.) Joe Girardi (NYY-Manager) said Sabathia’s performance lived up to expectations, despite the effects of some miscommunication between the pitcher and catcher. Sabathia, who threw 113 pitches through 2 outs in the 7th, appeared to have shaken off any lingering effects of the questionable call after the 3rd inning and pitched a strong game, backed by consistent offense, despite commanding less than his very best , as he said himself.
We’ve all heard it said, but for the record (meaning, my memory), sinkerballers need to “get the ball down.” If balls are flying off the bat, chances are the sinker isn’t sinking. That’s from Suzyn Waldman, confirmed by John Sterling today as Yankee replacement starter Sergio Mitre gets hit for 2 in the 1st at the Stadium.
A lefty will throw a change-up to right-handed batters because it will drop away. It’s hard to execute to a lefty without going too far inside. That’s John.
-John Sterling drives an Infinity G37x, as we learned in his spot for the Englewood dealership.
-Suzyn Waldman depends on her Blackberry. A new Blackberrier myself, I knew it!
It’s time. Those truths broadcast into existence by WCBS Yankee radio announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman deserve to be documented here, and here’s a start:
Heard today [again!]:
“You can’t predict baseball.” -Sterling
“It always starts with a walk.” -Sterling
Heard prior to today [and, to be sure, again soon- You could bet on it, but not on baseball!]
“There was no such thing as an oblique. Players got a pain in their side.” -Waldman
Oh, today’s game? What about it? (15-0 Yankees over Mets at the new Stadium, gaining back a game as Boston dropped one 11-5 to the Phillies, despite pitcher Josh Beckett’s self-help homer.)
Today we learned that WCBS-AM Yankees broadcasters John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman have been married — to others, I must add — and that wedding-day weather had no discernable effect on the temporality of either marriage. (The sun shined for John’s, and folkloric good-luck rain fell on Suzyn’s.) The weather didn’t help, they agreed.
John referred to Suzyn as his “partner” at home during today’s afternoon game against Tampa, started by CC Sabathia and David Price. Last weekend, I believe, he referred to his “companera,” sans the delimiter “Yankees.”