Around 1986 I fell in love with baseball. I watched when I could (mostly Cubs and Braves since they were on cable all the time), played little league, and casually followed the New York Yankees. Something changed that summer though. Oddly enough, it involved the New York Mets, but led me down the road to being a die-hard Yankees fan. The summer of 1986 is when the New York Mets went on their magical run to the World Series. Despite being a Yankees fan, I could not help but follow the ‘Mazin Mets. To this day, I think I can name every starter from that team, but the player I loved more than all was the catcher, Gary Carter. After that summer watching “the Kid” I was determined to be a catcher. The problem was, I was very small for my age. I still tried. I bought all the gear, brought it to Babe Ruth and High School tryouts, and I wanted so bad to be like Gary Carter. I kept being told that I was too small for that position. But I do remember that someone (maybe my mom?) told me about the legendary catcher from the New York Yankees, who stood only 5’ 7″. Yogi Berra was small for a professional athlete, yet was one of the greatest to ever play catcher. As much as I wanted to be like Gary Carter, I really wanted to be like Yogi. I still have a fondness for the ’86 Mets, but around that time I fell in love with Yogi and the incredible history of the New York Yankees. I was hooked from that point on, and have never turned back.
If nothing else, the story of Yogi Berra can tell us that no matter what, you can do whatever you want. Yogi was small, yet lived a life that many of us would dream of – World War II hero, 10 time World Series Champ, Hall of Famer, and probably most importantly – known as an incredible friend and all around great human being.
I never made it as a catcher – I was barely even good at baseball period – but Yogi inspired me to try. Rest In Peace Yogi, you will be missed.
On this day 17 years ago Derek Jeter picked up his first career hit. He is currently 15th on the all time list with 3,158. Here is the video:
“I am coming back, put it down. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going down like this. God willing and given the strength, I’m coming back.”
Those were the words of Mariano Rivera today to the media, answering the question I posed in my blog earlier today, as well as answering the prayers of Yankee Universe.
It is good news for sure, and something all Yankees fans were truly hoping for. Although the time will most certainly come that Mo’ will no longer pitch, the time is not now, and the end will be on his own terms.
Thank God the greatest career in the history of closers will not end on a warning track in Kansas City.
This isn’t how it is supposed to end.
A career that began as a starter in 1995 and transformed into that of the greatest closer in the history of baseball may have ended on a warning track in Kansas City during batting practice.
Mariano Rivera tore his right ACL while shagging flies during batting practice before last nights game against the Royals, certainly ending his season , and possibly his career. It can’t end like this, can it?
Although Rivera vowed not to make a decision on retirement, it was a forgone conclusion that this was his last season. Yankees fans, myself included, vowed to relish every pitch, every walk from the bullpen with Enter Sandman blaring from the stadium loud speakers, every save. We all knew we were witnessing the last games of a legend and future Hall-of-Famer, and wanted every moment etched into our memories for good.
But not like this memory.
His career should have ended like the 2009 season ended: with his arms in the air and a smile on his face as the fielders behind him record the final out of the World Series. A celebration of a championship, and a celebration of a champion.
But it is not to be. Not this year.
Rivera said he has no idea if he will pitch again, that he must first get through this injury. My hope is that he does.
Because it can’t end like this.
Mariano Rivera injured his knee before the Yankees game against the Royals today while he was shagging flies during batting practice. The initial diagnosis was a twisted knee however Mo was taken to a Kansas City hospital for a MRI. Here is the video of the injury:
I will post an update as soon as one is available.
Coming into the season, every article written about the Yankees and every talking head on TV mentioned the Yankees rotation as a strength. The Yankees were deep: C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda were the top two, with Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia all battling for the final three rotation spots. And then of course Andy Pettitte un-retires and suddenly there will be two odd men out.
And then the season started.
C.C has had his usual early season struggles, but seems to be on the right track now. Ivan Nova has been great and gutsy, showing future ace potential. Kuroda has done his best A.J. Burnett impression (minus the pie throwing) by looking great one game and pitching batting practice the next. Despite a strong spring, Phil Hughes looks like the same Phil we had last season, and Freddy Garcia cant seem to pitch more than two innings before he is completely sweat soaked and panicked. And Michael Pineda? Well, he is still young but don’t be surprised to see his name on a MLB network worst trades of all time show at some point.
Of course Andy Pettitte is still on his way, and unless he proves otherwise I expect to see the same Andy Pettitte we saw before his retirement. And the Yankees certainly need it.
So what will the Rotation look like in August? C.C., Kuroda, and Nova, barring injury, will certainly still be there. Andy Pettitte should be there too. Freddy Garcia has already been relegated to the bullpen.
Phil Hughes is the wild card here. Scouts have said he has the stuff to start, but he has to use his curve-ball more and his fast ball less. But what if David Phelps dominates tonight? And his next start? Does he stay in the rotation when Pettitte makes it back?
Here is what I think: As long as Andy Pettitte is strong, Freddy Garcia will be traded/released, Phil Hughes will head to the ‘pen, and this will be your five man rotation come August:
And lets just hope the Yanks bullpen can keep carrying the pitching staff while this all gets figured out.
As the sun sets on the dusty plains of Arlington, Texas, the shadows of two legends will project onto the ground as the famous sharpshooters prepare to face off. Only these legends are not Texas Cowboys, and they will not be firing their shots from 75 feet. Instead these Japanese pitching legends will be 60 feet six inches from their targets, their ammunition fastballs, sliders, and change-ups fired from their arms and not silver bullets fired from six-shooters.
Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish will face each other for the first time tonight as the Yankees play the Rangers in Arlington. First pitch will be at 8:05 P.M. ET, or 8:05 A.M. in the Far East. Japanese television will show the game live, perhaps causing many Japanese workers to call in sick, or at least show up late.
With the influx of Japanese stars to Major League Baseball over the past 10 years, you would think that Japanese pitchers faced each other often. However, this is only the seventh time in history that it has happened, and probably the most high-profile of all the match-ups thus far. Kuorda has a career earned run average of 3.49 which is the lowest of any Japanese born starting pitcher in MLB history. Darvish comes to the Major Leagues as one of the most highly touted players to ever pitch in the Japanese leagues. He left Japan with a record of 93-38, posting a 1.99 ERA with 1.278 strikeouts. So far this season Kuroda is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA, while Darvish is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA. It appears Darvish will have the advantage based on youth and performance so far.
The Rangers and Yankees are number one and two in runs scored in the Majors this season, and are known for their hitting, however tonight it will be the Japanese pitching legends who will be the stars in a classic old-west gun fight.
Who will be the last man standing?