Archive for April, 2010

On April 30, the Yankees celebrate the anniversary of their first home game in the city of New York. Since that debut in 1903, the Yankees have inarguably become the most dominant, powerful franchise in all of American sports. So, it’s hard to fathom that this mighty franchise was once an orphan ballclub, rendered homeless and nameless by the corrupt and cut throat politics of the city it hoped to win over.

From the onset, American League founder Ban Johnson had his eyes on New York.

For the first two years of its existence, the Yankees actually resided in Baltimore as the Orioles. The team was part of the newly created American League, established by lifelong baseball-man Byron Bancroft “Ban” Johnson as an alternative to the long-established National League. In its first two seasons, the new league enjoyed many successes. It was able to lure significant top talent from the National League, which had imposed a salary cap on individual players, and achieved instant profitability. However, there was one area in which the league was not successful: it could not place a team in New York.

Johnson knew that in order for the American League to truly stand on equal footing, it must have a team in New York. Easier said than done. At the time, New York was run by a Tammany Hall, a political organization that gave new meaning to corruption. Tammany controlled everything in New York: real estate, finance, labor, prostitution, gambling…and, yes, baseball. Unfortunately for Johnson, Andrew Freedman, the owner of the National League’s New York Giants and one of the city’s wealthiest men, was a long standing Tammany man.

New York City Police Chief "Big" Bill Devery assumed co-ownership of the new American League team.

Andrew Freedman had tried to stop Johnson from creating a new baseball league, but failed. He then tried to organize the National League owners in order to prevent the AL’s raid on its players. Freedman failed again. Finally, he conspired with former Baltimore Orioles player/manager/owner John McGraw to sabotage that franchise, but even this nefarious plan fell by the wayside. Then, in December 1902, Johnson was able to negotiate a peace settlement with the National League that granted him a concession to move the Orioles to New York.  What’s more, Freedman exited baseball by selling his share of the Giants to John T. Brush. Finally, it looked like Johnson had won out over Freedman. Or so it seemed.

Freedman may have been out of the picture, but he was still pulling strings behind the scenes. Even though he could not thwart Johnson’s ability to establish the American League, he could damn well keep him out of New York. With the help of his Tammany buddies, Freedman locked up every parcel of real estate from 155th Street down that was sufficient for a ballpark. The political wrangling left the Orioles without a place to play, rendering Johnson’s hard fought concession from the National League worthless.

For months, Johnson scrambled to find the Orioles a new home in New York. Every time he thought a location had been secured, Freedman blocked his path. The search went on for months, but in the meantime, Johnson stocked the New York Americans, as they were being called, with stars like Clark Griffith, Wee Willie Keeler, Jack Chesbro and Jess Tannehill.

Pool King Frank Farrell controlled a gambling syndicate before taking co-ownership of the Yankees.

By the time Johnson’s orphans assembled in Atlanta, Georgia for Spring Training, the team still did not have home. Grumblings from the players began to emerge, including requests for contractual release. Faced with this mounting pressure, Johnson was forced to cave into a rival Tammany syndicate that was pushing a rocky plot of land located way uptown in Washington Heights.

Around the clock construction was needed to clear the rocky land that would be the home of the new ballpark. While that was going on, two men would secretly emerge as the co-owners of the new franchise: Big Bill Devery, the former police chief of New York City before being removed from office by the legislature, and pool room king Frank Farrell. Both Devery and Farrell were heavily involved in Tammany’s activities and had garnered reputations that would make any hustler blush. Now, with American League baseball about to debut in New York, the pair had pulled off the ultimate coup. (more…)

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Cano Can Two

Cano heads home on the first of his two round trippers (Photo: Getty Images).

It takes a scalding hot hitter to overshadow a pitcher who throws 8 shutout innings, but that’s exactly what Robinson Cano did tonight in Baltimore. Cano belted out three more hits, including 2HRs and a double, to raise his average to .407. Incredibly, Cano’s most spectacular contribution wasn’t at the plate, but in the field. Leading off the third inning, Nolan Reimold grounded a ball up the middle that seemed destined for centerfield. Cano ranged behind the second base bag to glove the ball and then in one motion fired it across the infield to Mark Teixeira for the out. The combination grab and throw was a play likely beyond the ability of every other second baseman in the game.

AJ Burnett was the beneficiary of Cano’s hot bat and slick glove. With the sharp break on the curve still eluding him, Burnett once again relied on pinpoint control of his power fastball to keep the Orioles off the board. In addition to premium velocity that topped out at 97mph, Burnett’s ability to locate (77 of Burnett’s 117 pitches were strikes) allowed the right hander to last 8 innings while only giving up three hits and one walk.

In defeat, Brian Matusz threw a solid ballgame, but lacked the sharpness of his previous starts. The young lefty scattered nine hits over six innings, but managed to limit the damage on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff. The main culprits for Matusz were Cano and Thames, who combined went 5-6 with 2 RBIs against him. The other run was driven in by an Alex Rodriquez sacrifice fly in the first inning that followed a single by Jeter and double by Teixeira.

  • With the victory, AJ Burnett pushed his record to 3-0 for the first time in his career.
  • Derek Jeter’s first inning hit and run scored were the first of each surrendered by Matusz in the first inning.
  • Cano’s fourth inning HR was the first extra base hit surrendered by Brian Matusz to a left handed batter all season. It also extended the Yankees record HR streak at Camden Yards to 17 games.
  • Jeter’s fifth inning single was number 2,775 for his career, moving him past Andre Dawson and into a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. (who is still active) for 45th place in baseball history.
  • For the second time this season and sixth time in his career, Robinson Cano belted 2 HRs in one game. Both of the homeruns came against lefty pitchers, giving Cano five of his eight long balls against southpaws.
  • With his 3 for 3 night, Marcus Thames pushed his average to .588, which includes 10 hits in 16 ABs against left handers.
  • Nick Swisher’s hitless night snapped a personal 10-game hitting streak at Camden Yards that dated back to April 6, 2009.
  • Despite it not being a save situation, Mariano Rivera closed out the game in the ninth. Rivera had not pitched since last Wednesday, April 21 in Oakland.

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Tonight’s rubber game in Baltimore brings to an end one of the Yankees longest road stands of the season (they have another nine game swing in September). With a win, the Yankees would not only get back into the business of winning series, but also return home with a winning road trip. In order to accomplish both goals, the Yankees will need another strong outing from AJ Burnett, who looks to start the season at 3-0 for the first time in his career.

The Yankees lineup, which is without Jorge Posada and Nick Johnson, will go up against Orioles rookie Brian Matusz, the #4 pick overall in the 2008 draft. Matusz is still a rookie because the Orioles intentionally pulled the plug on his 2009 season with 44 2/3 innings, 1/3 shy of the cutoff for rookie eligibility. Among his handful of starts from the 2009 season, Matusz matched up against and beat AJ Burnett on September 12. In the game, Matusz yielded only four hits in seven innings.

Francisco Cervelli gets another start as Posada is still feeling the effects of being hit by a Jeremy Guthrie pitch the night before. Another changed to the lineup involves Marcus Thames taking over the DH slot from Nick Johnson. By keeping him out of the field, Girardi seems to have finally realized that Thames poor defense mitigates the benefits of his right bat against lefties. Filling Johnson’s #2 slot in the lineup is Nick Swisher. Girardi has previously batted Swisher second, but the latter’s prolific numbers at Camden Yards make the move particularly appropriate.



vs. Brian Matusz PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 4 1.000 0.250 0.250 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 3 0.000 0.500 0.333 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 3 0.000 0.333 0.333 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Marcus Thames DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 16 0.200 0.188 0.267 0 0
Adam Jones CF 23 0.227 0.227 0.455 1 4
Nick Markakis RF 38 0.314 0.342 0.371 0 3
Matt Wieters C 6 0.000 0.167 0.000 0 0
Miguel Tejeda 3B 17 0.333 0.412 0.333 0 1
Luke Scott DH 19 0.400 0.526 0.933 2 4
Ty Wiggington 2B 27 0.217 0.333 0.435 1 3
Ryan Hughes 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Nolan Reimold LF 6 0.750 0.833 1.500 1 1
Cesar Izturis SS 16 0.133 0.188 0.200 0 0
Total 152 0.276 0.342 0.455 5 16
Yankees vs. Orioles    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 1-1 NYY: 13-5 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 1223-839
  • AJ Burnett is 9-2 lifetime against the Orioles, but with 5.23 ERA. At Camden Yards, he is 4-0 with a 4.75 ERA.
  • With a double, Derek Jeter will pass Don Mattingly for third place on the Yankees all-time list. An additional base hit will also catapult him past Andre Dawson and into a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. (who is still active) for 45th place in baseball history.
  • Alex Rodriquez remains stuck on 585 HRs. His next long ball will move him into a tie with Frank Robinson for seventh place all-time.
  • Mariano Rivera needs two strikeouts to tie Roger Clemens for 10th place (1,012) in franchise history.
  • Last night, the Yankees set a Camden Yards record for visiting teams by homering in 16 straight games.
  • Nick Swisher has the highest OPS (1.247) by a visiting player at Camden Yards.

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This Date In Yankee History: April 29, 1933

With the sun starting to set on the final Saturday in April 1933, the Yankees seemed poised to drop a second straight game to the Washing Senators. The deficit was 6-2 heading into the bottom of the 9th, but as they often did, the Yankees began to rally. With one out, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Dixie Walker all singled, narrowing the gap to 6-3 and bringing Tony Lazzeri up as the tying run. As Gehrig lead off second and Walker took his lead from first, Senators pitcher Monte Weavers delivered a pitch that Tony Lazzeri ripped into right center. Gehrig got a late start from second and Senators’ outfielder Goose Goslin quickly retrieved the ball. As he fired into the cutoff man, Joe Cronin, both Gehrig and Walker were on their way to the plate. Cronin’s relay found a waiting Luke Sewell, who upon catching the ball tagged Gehrig and then Walker, who was just behind. All of a sudden, the Yankees rally was dashed. The ballgame was over on one of the oddest plays anyone could remember. The next day, the New York Times headline blared “GAME HAS THRILLING END Gehrig and Walker Nailed in One Play at Plate After a Lusty Drive by Lazzeri”.

Sewell’s twin killing at the plate was the first recorded putout of two runners trying to score on the same play. Interestingly, of the six times the event has happened in the regular season (the Dodgers made the same blunder against the Mets in the 2006 NLDS), the Yankees have been the victims on three occasions.

Carlton Fisk tags out a flying Bobby Meacham...

  • On August 2, 1985, Dale Berra and Bobby Meacham managed to turn a Rickey Henderson double into a rally killing double play as both runners took their turn bouncing off a Carlton Fisk tag at home plate. After the game, Yankees manager Billy Martin fumed, “I’ve never seen a play like that in grammar school, let alone the major leagues.” Of course, the play was almost identical to what happened in 1933, except it came in the bottom of the 7th inning . Still, the gaffe proved costly as the Yankees wound up losing the game 6-5 in extra innings. More than that, the play epitomized a particularly futile stretch in which the team lost 8 of 11 and plummeted from 2.5 games out of first all the way to 9.5 games behind.

I’ve never seen a play like that in grammar school, let alone the major leagues. – Billy Martin

...and then turns to nab Dale Berra, who was trailing right behind.

  • On September 28, 2000, with the Yankees stumbling toward the playoffs, Jose Canseco was thrown out trying to score on Tino Martinez’ second inning double. It was a close play at the plate, and Canseco attempted to argue. The only problem was the play wasn’t over yet. Devil Rays’ catcher Mike DiFelice followed up his tag of Canseco by throwing wildly in an attempt to nail Martinez as he was taking third on the throw. Seeing the ball bounce away, Martinez made a dash for the plate, but before he could make it, DiFelice was once again waiting with the ball to tag out another Yankee trying to score. All the while, Canseco stood by patiently, waiting for his chance to protest the original call. Everyone lingered on the field before dazedly wandering off. Needless to say, the Yankees didn’t clinch the division that night.

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Is this a face that only an Indians' fan could love?

In a blow to the collective psyche of Yankee fans around the world, The Nielsen Company has determined that the Bronx Bombers are not the most hated team in all of baseball. In fact, they aren’t even in the top four. So much for jealousy being the greatest form of flattery?

According to the study, which uses an “online sentiment scale” to gauge consumers’ reactions to different brands and products, the Cleveland Indians sit atop the baseball world as the most despised. Who knows…maybe Chief Wahoo is to blame?

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The Yankees bounced back from yesterday’s loss by jumping out to an early lead against Jeremy Guthrie and then letting C.C. Sabathia grind out another quality seven-plus inning performance. Although not dominant as he had been in his previous three starts, Sabathia relied on his change-up to pitch around 13 base runners. Of his five strikeouts, four came on a change of speed, which helped Sabathia deal with less than optimal location on his fastball.

Jorge Posada reacts to being hit by a pitch in the top of the second inning. Posada would leave the game after scoring on Nick Swisher's triple (Photo: AP).

Sabathia was granted a cushion with which to work as the Yankee offense scored six runs over the first three innings of the game. In the first, Nick Johnson swung at a 2-0 pitch and singled in Derek Jeter, who doubled to lead off the game. Johnson eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez. In the second inning, Jorge Posada led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch in the back of the knee. Posada gingerly made his way around the bases after Curtis Granderson singled and Nick Swisher tripled, but he eventually had to come out of the game with a right knee contusion. In the third inning, Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting by belting his sixth HR on the season. Robbie added another hit in the fifth to temporarily push his league leading average over .400. Francisco Cervelli, who was forced into action by Posada’s injury, and Jeter added RBI singles to round out the scoring.

  • C.C. Sabathia is now 10-1 lifetime against the Orioles.
  • Derek Jeter’s first inning 2B was #442 in his Yankee career, tying him with Don Mattingly for third place on the Yankees’ all-time list.
  • Robinson Cano and Jeter both had two hits in tonight’s game. Cano and Jeter have record 77 and 76 multi-hit games, respectively, since the start of 2009. Only Ichiro, with 83 multi-hit games, has had more.
  • Cano’s third inning HR was his sixth of the season, establishing a new personal high for the month of April.
  • With three more hits, Nick Swisher extended his dominance over Camden Yards, where his 1.247 OPS is the highest among all visiting players.
  • Nick Markakis 7th inning HR was the first long ball that Sabathia surrendered in 54 2/3 career innings at Camden Yards. Only Adam Loewen, who threw 58 homerless innings, had a longer stretch. Markakis’ round tripper was also the first regular season HR that Sabathia had surrendered to a left-handed batter since Jim Thome took him deep on August 7, 2009.

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vs. Jeremy Guthrie PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 37 0.306 0.297 0.333 0 1
Nick Johnson DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 17 0.091 0.412 0.182 0 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 28 0.238 0.429 0.476 1 5
Robinson Cano 2B 31 0.233 0.258 0.400 1 3
Jorge Posada C 17 0.267 0.353 0.467 1 2
Curtis Granderson CF 12 0.364 0.417 0.818 1 2
Nick Swisher RF 23 0.474 0.522 1.000 2 6
Brett Gardner LF 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Total 168 0.288 0.333 0.493 6 20
vs. C.C. Sabathia PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Adam Jones CF 10 0.444 0.500 0.667 0 2
Nick Markakis RF 19 0.118 0.105 0.118 0 3
Ty Wigginton 2B 25 0.318 0.400 0.500 1 2
Miguel Tejeda 3B 34 0.313 0.353 0.563 2 4
Matt Wieters C 6 0.200 0.333 0.200 0 0
Garrett Atkins 1B 6 0.750 0.833 0.750 0 2
Nolan Reimold DH 9 0.500 0.556 0.625 0 0
Lou Montanez LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Cesar Izturis SS 16 0.125 0.125 0.125 0 0
Total 125 0.292 0.344 0.425 3 13
Yankees vs. Orioles    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
BAL: 1-0 NYY: 13-5 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 1222-839
  • After pinch hitting last night, Nick Johnson returns to the lineup in his customary #2 slot.
  • C.C. Sabathia made his Yankee debut at Camden Yards last year, losing to Jeremy Guthrie on Opening Day. Since that game, Sabathia has won his last four starts against the Orioles, while Guthrie has lost his last four starts against the Yankees.
  • Robinson Cano enters the game leading the league in hitting at .389.
  • Arod remains one HR behind Frank Robinson on the all-time HR list, while Derek Jeter needs one 2B to pass Don Mattingly on the Yankee list.
  • The Yankees have hit a HR at Camden Yards in 15 straight games, a record that is shared with the Boston Red Sox.

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Before the internet, postcards were the easiest way for people to send images around the world. In many ways, they were the precursor to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to see how the typical “Greetings from…” postcard message has evolved into the instant status updates that fly around cyber space.

Another fascinating thing about the postcard is its ability to illustrate the history of a city or attraction on one side, and at the same time, provide a glimpse into the personal lives of both the sender and recipient on the other. These time capsules have a unique way of breathing life into the past.

Nothing beats thumbing through an old shoe box in an antique store off the beaten path, but finding old postcards on the internet is kind of cool too.

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Most Valuable Player$

If Ryan Howard is worth $25mn per year...

Ryan Howard’s new 5-year/$125mn megadeal has rung the bell for the latest round in the debate over how to value major league baseball players. On one side, more traditional baseball writers have argued that Howard’s MVPs and prolific HR/RBI production, along with his status as a key component of a championship core, justify the deal. On the other side, however, sabremetricians have argued that Howard’s WAR and advancing age make the deal a major risk. Of course, absent from both sides of the debate are some basic economic concepts like transparency, intangible value and marginal utility. So, what is the truth? It’s probably somewhere in the middle.

...is Albert Pujols worth $50mn per year...

As the baseball world digests the Howard contract, a more interesting question has emerged: “What must Albert Pujols be worth”? Bobby Cox has done some back of the envelope math and come up with $50mn, and according to at least one estimate by J.C. Bradbury, he isn’t that far off base. I am sure the Cardinals aren’t exactly thrilled with Cox’ estimation, but Pujols’ agent may consider taking him on as a consultant once his tenure as Braves managers ends after this season.

Amid all the wrangling about what Howard and Pujols are worth, I got to thinking about Alex Rodriguez. When Tom Hicks signed Arod to the then seemingly outlandish 10-year/$252mn deal in 2000, many in the baseball community scoffed at the inflated price. Of course, we now know the deal wasn’t so absurd. In fact, when Arod was able to opt out, he actually signed a larger deal at 10 years/$275mn.

...and has Arod been a steal?

With seven more years left on his current deal, Arod’s long-term value definitely carries significant risk, especially considering his recent hip surgery. Looking back, however, we can see that Arod has actually been a bargain. Using Fangraphs’ WAR-based valuation (which obviously ignores all of the economic concepts mentioned above), Arod has been worth $204.7mn since 2002. Over that same time span, he has earned $196.4mn. Even assuming that the value deflation resulting from WAR’s UZR component is accurate (Arod has had a negative fielding component since 2005), Arod has provided about $1mn per year in excess value before taking into account any attendance, ratings or playoff contribution. Not bad for someone who has so frequently been vilified because of his salary.

What Value Arod?

Season Team Dollars (mn)* Salary (mn)**
2002 Rangers $25.20 $22.00
2003 Rangers $25.10 $22.00
2004 Yankees $20.80 $22.00
2005 Yankees $31.90 $26.00
2006 Yankees $15.90 $21.70
2007 Yankees $37.40 $22.70
2008 Yankees $27.40 $28.00
2009 Yankees $21.00 $32.00
Total   $204.70 $196.40


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I guess you can’t blame the Yankees if they were less than focused for tonight’s game. Going from the White House to a game against the 3-16 Orioles can be somewhat anticlimactic. However, a manager’s job is to get the team focused for every game, and Joe Girardi failed to do that tonight. From impatient at bats to poor defense to awful base running, the Yankees seemed as if they weren’t ready to play tonight’s game.

Phil Hughes was pulled after 5 2/3 innings, paving the way for an Orioles rally.

Fortunately, Phil Hughes was on his game after some early struggles. After walking in a run in the second inning, Hughes induced a double play grounder from Adam Jones and then set about retiring 11 of the next 12. Yet, for some reason Joe Girardi inexplicably decided to lift him with two outs and no one on in the sixth. Just has he did on Sunday when he removed Alfredo Aceves despite his throwing 1 2/3 hitless innings, Girardi embarked on a game of bullpen roulette and the Yankees took another bullet. In the last three losses, Girardi’s poor use of the bullpen has figured prominently, continuing a pattern that developed last year.

While Boone Logan and David Robertson did most of the damage in the sixth inning, errors by Jeter and Posada in the bottom of the 8th inning wound up creating the eventual winning running. This being the Orioles, the Yankees did eventually rally in the ninth and put the tying run on third base, but Alex Rodriguez’ bid for an RBI single died in the glove of Julio Lugo. The late game rally aside, this was one of the more embarrassing efforts the Yankees have put forth in some time.

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