Friday, April 18, 2008

Yankees Getting Dirty?

I've played amateur baseball for many years, and I have never seen a pitcher throw at a batter because the batter has had success against the pitcher or the team. If anything, the pitcher tries to throw a lot of junk to keep the batter from hitting. But, last night the image that is most lasting is Kyle Farnsworth throwing a 97+ mph fastball right at Manny Ramirez' left shoulder/left ear. Luckily, the ball sailed and just missed Manny as it passed behind him! Yes, it was intentional, period. Every pitch Farnsworth threw after that was right around the plate, and he struck out two batters in the inning. He was not wild, he was headhunting. He knew he could throw one pitch and get away with it before warnings came out, and he did - he just missed. A 97 mph fastball in the location Farnsworth threw it is potentially career ending if it connects.

The once noble and honorable Yankees seem to be slipping into cheap and dirty habits. The team attitude comes from the leader. Joe Torre had always been a great baseball guy, and was always able to calm the often crazy and emotional vibes coming from the front office of George Steinbrenner. Joe stood his ground and ran the team very well, with honor and sportsmanship. As much as we all hate the Yankees as or main rival, Joe was a respected adversary.

Joe Girardi may not be up for following Torre's legacy of sportsmanship. I was surprised to read about Shelley Duncan sliding spikes-high into second base against Tampa Bay in spring training. That cheap move does nothing but instigate a fight, which it did. Let's hope Joe Girardi can calm the cheap stuff down and keep Torre's legacy alive.

Okay, that's out of the way. Manny Ramirez stole the show last night hitting home runs off of Mike Mussina in his first two at-bats driving in a total of 3 runs. Mussina has now given up 3 home runs to Manny this season. Prior to both of Mussina's starts against Boston, I discussed how to hit against Mike, and assured you that at least Manny would get it. I doubt Manny is reading this blog, but he definitely gets it!

Josh Beckett was also in good form last night. He has been tiring a little early in his starts so far, but last night he went 8 innings throwing 105 pitches. I had only called for him to go 7 innings, but having him go 8 saved Hideki Okajima for tonight's game. Jonathan Papelbon did wrap up the ninth inning, but was very sloppy in doing so. After striking out Jason Giambi, he gave up a double to Jorge Posada, then threw a wild pitch to send Posada to third base. A ground out by Robinson Cano scored Posada. So, with two outs I thought that was about it. But, Papelbon then gave up a solo home run to Melky Cabrera before striking out pinch-hitter, Hideki Matsui to end the game.

Now, on a more personal note, I am going to my first game of 2008 tonight. Sitting in Fenway Park under clear blue skies, warm 70 degree weather, taking in the sights, sounds and smells will be just a little slice of heaven. Of course, that's after ignoring the cramped seats, expensive beer, and dripping mustard all over my jeans, and possibly ducking the attack of a swooping hawk or two. For all of my friends out there (yes, I mean both of you), I will be preparing diligently for the game in my usual place of meditation - the end of the bar at Tequila Rain on Landsdowne Street. Here's what I'll be preaching to anyone at the bar who I can corner to listen, wearing my Dice-K branded Red Sox hat...

The Sox send Dice-K Matsusaka to the mound tonight to face Luis Mendoza of the Texas Rangers. Mendoza was originally signed by the Sox in 2000 and traded to Texas in 2006. This is his rookie season in the bigs, and as a 24 year old, he shows some promise. He had trouble with his curveball in his last outing and got behind on a number of counts, but had a respectful outing. The Red Sox have not historically done well against new pitchers they've never faced. The key will be to exercise patience at the plate, force the kid to throw strikes, get his pitch count up, and jump on mistakes. He's a right-handed batter, so look for the same batting lineup for the Red Sox as last night. Coco Crisp has been nursing a tender hamstring. He may be in center field if it is better, or he may get one more night off. Personally, I'd love to see Jacoby Ellsbury in person. He has not been getting many hits, but the Yankees put him on base with two (unintentional) HBP's last night, and Ellsbury created havoc on the bases.

The Rangers are on a small roll having just swept two from the Blue Jays, so Dice-K will need to have better command than his last outing, and I expect he will. Texas has fared well against Dice-K in the past, so he will need to be sharp, otherwise they'll run him out of the game by the 5th inning. And, we don't want the Sox bullpen coming in that early, do we?

Who's dangerous? Watch out for Frank Catalonado - he is a constant thorn in the Red Sox' side.

Finally let's all welcome Kason Gabbard in his first visit to Fenway not in a Red Sox uniform.
(Photos courtesy of


Anonymous said...

What happened to Manny last night was unbelievable (especially, as you said, in being payback for success).

Enjoy the game (and the tequila lol). I'm still basking in my Opening Day glow, and getting to see Dice-K pitch and up close! May we see you on tv catching a ball or something.

Rooster said...

You may. My seats are in the Right Field Box section - near the visitor bullpen. About 3 years ago, my close friend (and occassional commenter here), who is unfortunately a Yankee fan, tried to catch a Big Papi home run, and it broke his thumb. So, yes, it is possible you'd see us if Papi gets his swing back.

Now, how Big Papi could pick out a Yankees fan in the crowd like that is beyond me :)

Anonymous said...

Talk about a souvenier! Maybe you should bring a sign with the web address for Rational Sox Fan :D

~**Dawn**~ said...

I recall last year when Youk had several pitches buzz over his head. There's just no call for that. Sure, sometimes the ball gets away, but you can usually tell by the pitcher's reaction when that happens. And sometimes you make a point by planting one on the batter's backside or what have you. Someplace not life/career threatening. I heard NESN caught Beckett nodding as he took that in (I was blessed with YES) -- I suspect someone may pay for that in the next battle of good & evil.

I really liked Gabbard. I was actually hoping we would have kept him & traded Lester to Texas for Gagne last year.

David said...

I'm not sure about advertising my thumb breaking on the blog, but alas it is true...

Even as a faithful Yankee fan I have to agree that throwing a pitch behind a batter's head is inexcusable. I'm all for pitching up and in to a batter that might be getting a little to comfortable at the plate, but to pitch behind a batter and into the escape route can end a career. I don't love Manny (hate his attitude and think Boston fans give him way too many breaks with the 'Manny being Manny' thing) he is a hell of a hitter and doesn't deserve this sort of thing.

Hope it was just emotions getting away from them and Joe G will get them back looking as professional as I expect the Yankees to be. I expect the Yankees may see more frustration over the year against the Sox. Their pitching doesn't match up (although I'm starting to the Yankee's bullpen might be their possible savior this year).


Rooster said...

Dawn & Dave,

I agree - hitting a guy in the butt is the right way to send a message if you need to, and there's never anything wrong with coming in tight and pushing a player off the plate - that's what Mussina did when he hit Ellsbury twice - he was just pitching inside and got too close. But teh pitch Farnsworth threw was too dangerous.

Dave, teh Yankee bullpen is actually holding up pretty well, and may be a strength. I'm surprised Hawkins is looking as sharp as he has - he could be a key arm out there.

I saw the NY Post called Big Papi, "Big Slumpi". Pretty clever.

Rooster said...

Had to share this. I went to lunch and I often talk baseball with the guy at the register. Today he says...

"Did you see them almost hit Manny last night? That was terrible. I'll tell you, that NEVER would have happened under Joe Torre."

I just had to agree - should have told him about the blog.

Suldog said...

Torre was a class act, as you say. Girardi has done nothing to show that he has anywhere near the same style. Having said that, if I was leading off for the Yanks against Beckett during the next meeting, I'd get set to duck.

Rooster said...

Beckett and Tavarez are the two guys the Sox have who would have no problem going after you. I'm not sure the rest would be so willing. Maybe Wakefield should go for revenge - that would look funny. Plunking someone with a knuckle ball!

~**Dawn**~ said...

What would be *really* funny about that would be watching someone try to get out of the way! You would have more than enough time (relative to a 93mph Beckett fastball anyway) but no clue which way to go! LOL

Peter N said...

It's Peter here. Dawn, it's been a long time since I've seen a comment from you on my blog-I hope you are well. Rooster, GREAT COMMENTS...that means great readers! And great writing. Trifecta. have a great Sunday. EVERYONE, familiar names all.