Some Thoughts From a Brutal New Yankee Stadium Opening Day
1) Yankees lucked out with the first sunny day of the 2009 season here in the New York Area...at least it seems that way.
I did notice plenty of empty seats in and around the dugouts and behind home plate.
2) The opening ceremonies were good with quite a few ex-Yankees announced, John Fogerty singing "Centerfield," and Bernie playing the guitar. Both were nice touches.
The best touch was the laying over the plate of the bat Babe Ruth used to hit the first Yankee Stadium home run. The bat was on loan from the collection of Dr. Richard Angrist, an eye surgeon located right here in little ol' Point Pleasant, N.J., where I live.
Dr. Angrist is a the premier game-used bat collector in the entire world, and the story is that he owns a game-used bat from every HOF player, plus the Black Betsy bat which Shoeless Joe Jackson used.
When Ruth hit that home run, there was a contest in the Los Angeles area which the local home run hitting champ was to receive the first home run bat from Yankee Stadium.
The bat was presented to the young player Victor Orsatti, and was kept in the family all this time until it was auctioned off several years ago.
3) How can YES possibly have a taped version of Yogi Berra throwing out the first pitch? Instead of commercials then a taped version, YES needed to show that event LIVE!
And Whitey Ford looked really good for 80 years of age. Why didn't he throw out the first ball with Berra behind the plate? Same as it was in Game 4 of the 1950 World Series, Whitey's first post-season game.
4) Sabathia struggled with control, walking five but showed the type of pitcher he is by getting out of jams when it appeared he didn't have his best stuff.
Michael Kay repeatedly mentioned the high pitch count in only CC's third start of the young season, but Sabathia has shown the ability to pitch to high counts and actually not have his arm fall off. I am sure that he said to Girardi sometime during the fifth inning that he didn't want to come out after five.
5) Great play by Derek Jeter who, with runners on first and second and moving on the pitch, ranged behind short stop to catch the pop fly then throw to first base (and not the closer second base) to get the runner returning to the bag.
I wonder if any of the other fielders said to him, "First base," but either way it was an instinctive play that helps a team, similar to how he went to cover third base in the Rays game then applied the nice tag on the sliding runner. You really have to see a game to realize how defense works; it is not just metrics. I do have to point out that Jeter had to go to his RIGHT on both occasions.
6) With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Joe Girardi brings in Phil Coke to face LHH Grady Sizemore. Why not Damaso Marte in this spot? That situation at the time was the game! The way Cliff Lee was pitching, a single and the game is virtually over. Also, in his career Sizemore is 1-for-7 against Marte with five whiffs.
Was Girardi thinking that Marte was going to be his "eighth inning guy" with Brian Bruney throwing the last two days and three of the last four? I know Girardi was hammered hard by pulling Marte the other day in the eighth inning, but you won't get to the eighth inning today if you don't get out of the sixth.
That sixth inning situation was the biggest part of the game at that point, and as a manager you need to use your best lefty...and that was Marte.
Coke did get the out, but it was still the wrong move at the time.
7) While I love Brett Gardner's style of play, he still hits way too many balls into the air.
8) Jose Veras needs to throw strikes before he is shipped out of town. In fact, ship him out now. He is nothing special and hasn't been his entire pro career. Everybody says "he has great stuff," but great stuff and a two-cent brain on how to pitch gives your team losses.
In addition, he can not consistently throw strikes, umpires know this and he will never get the benefit of the doubt on close pitches. When Veras is good, he is really good, but he is rarely really good. And those big spots need someone who is more consistently really good.
Mark Melancon has dominated AAA hitters and needs to be in the majors now. I feel the Yankees are waiting for Melancon to get past his "Super 2" status so as not to hasten his arbitration and free agent status.
If that is the case, it is completely inappropriate for the Yankees to give away games early in the season so they can save a few dollars down the road. At some point this season, Melancon is going to be called up, so why not now?
Even he if suffers a bit early on, he still needs to get his feet wet in the majors. He throws strikes and gets people out.
In fact, all college draftees from the 2006 draft who are not on 40-man rosters by this November are Rule 5 candidates.
9) Apologies to Jorge Posada, who appears to be the Yankees clubhouse anti-fun policeman, the funniest part of the game was when Marte was getting pounded in the ninth inning and the Yankee fans started chanting "We Want Swisher."
10) Nice job by the Yankees bringing up David Robertson, who pitched two scoreless innings, getting three strikeouts. K-Rob (new nickname) has now struck out 239 in 175 pro innings, including 39 in 32.1 major league innings.
K-Rob is a force and should be used in bigger situations. He has a nice fastball which he is able to hit spots, a killer hammer curve, and to his last batter (Victor Martinez) he unleashed a pretty good straight change that got a swing and a miss.
He escaped a first and second, no out jam in the eighth inning by sandwiching a strikeout of Sizemore with two popouts.
11) With all the Michael Kay, "this is the first blah, blah, blah in the new Yankee Stadium" moments today, he was sure hyped about the first home run going to Posada. And I concur.
Except for Jeter, it was benefiting that Posada had the first dinger as he has the second longest tenure (Jeter) of any Yankee position player.
But, in the seventh inning, Posada also hit into the first ground ball double play "in the new Yankee Stadium."
All is fair, Mr. Kay...it should have been noted.
12) Damaso Marte is strictly a lefty specialist, who throws the ball too often over the middle of the plate. He, like Veras, often gets squeezed by umpires, who know both are often not consistently around the plate.
He should have been given the spot in the sixth inning, but he cannot go longer than one or two batters, and this is not why the Yankees traded for him.
I was not a big fan of the trade that brought Nady and Marte here.
13) Mark Teixeira being removed from the game does not bode well for the season. Supposedly, Teixeira already had a cortisone shot and during his last at bat in the bottom of the fifth (the fifth inning!) he took a swing and shook his wrist after the swing. Not a good sign.
Teixeira is being paid a lot of money to be "the Man" and if he is hurt all year, it won't be pretty in the Bronx if he suffers during a mid- or late-season Red Sox series, and his wrist is still affecting him.
Remember that last season, Jeter was hampered by a wrist injury almost the entire season, and he wasn't nearly the same hitter.
By the way, cortisone is a man-made steroid, so why is that OK to use so players can get back on the field quicker, but HGH is scorned?
All in all it was a brutal day for the Yankees and their fans, as the lineup did not hit (they were the only team thus far to score four+ runs in every game), the bullpen was shaky once again (just a few guys...the same guys) and the fans who paid $2,600 a ticket to sit in Legends section appear not to get their money's worth.
I guess if you can afford that cost for a ticket to a baseball game, you probably forgot about the outcome already. But I do wonder if the beers are cheaper in those seats?
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