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Archive for June 25th, 2010

Perennial World Series foes meet for only the second time in the regular season when the Yankees take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Although seeing the classic Yankee and Dodger uniforms on the field at the same time is always special, this time around, the series has taken on a heightened sense of importance, mostly because Joe Torre will be managing against the Yankees for the first time ever.

Joe Torre won’t actually be taking the field, so the Yankees real concern will be with a formidable lineup lead by the young Andre Ethier and the ageless Manny Ramirez. The Yankees and Manny need no introduction, but you can’t blame the Bronx Bombers if they aren’t looking forward to the reunion. In 200 career games against the Yankees, Manny has hit 55 home runs and 163 RBIs, his highest output against any team in both categories. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Ramirez has broken out of his early season doldrums. Over his last 10 games, the Dodgers have been treated to Manny being Manny as the free spirited left fielder has posted an OPS of 1.174 over that span.

As good as Manny has been of late, Ethier has emerged as the new leader of the Dodgers’ offense. After a torrid start, however, Ethier was slowed by a broken wrist and hasn’t really found another grove since his return. Ethier did go 5-13 in the Dodgers just completed Freeway Series against the Angels, so the Yankees have to hope that’s not the start of another hot streak. Along with Manny and Ethier, the Dodgers have also received solid contributions from James Loney, Matt Kemp, Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal, who just returned to the lineup after spending several days on the bereavement list while mourning the tragic death of his father.

Although the Dodger offense has rounded into form, their starting rotation has been a work in progress all season. In tonight’s game, Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla makes his second start since being activated from the disabled list. In his first start back, Padilla surrendered four runs in five-plus innings against Boston, so the Yankees will look to jump on the righty in the early going. A little bit of revenge might also be on the Yankees minds because the last time they faced Padilla, the cantankerous righty plunked Mark Teixeira twice and then seemed to be amused when AJ Burnett retaliated later in the ballgame. That incident precipitated Padilla’s eventual release by the Rangers.

On the mound for the Yankees will be CC Sabathia, who looks to build on the eight shutout innings he threw against the Mets on Sunday. Sabathia also gives the Yankees another capable hitter in their lineup, which features both Arod and Posada in the field together for only the fourth time this month. Another new wrinkle has Curtis Granderson bumped up to second slot, a shift prompted by the desire to split the lefties at the bottom of the lineup because of the presence of George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo in the Dodgers’ bullpen.

After playing an incredibly sloppy game in the series finale against the Diamondbacks, the Yankees need to push aside the distractions of facing the Torre-led Dodgers and jump on what has been a struggling team. In addition to trying to remove the strong backend of the Dodger bullpen from the equation, an early lead could also help neutralize the crowd, which is likely to be pumped up beyond levels normally associated with southern California. The Dodgers have been marketing this series as the renewal of an old rivalry, but the Yankees can’t get caught up in the hype. So, as odd as it may be for some of the players to look across and see Torre in the opposing dugout, their focus must remain on the task at hand…winning series and building a lead in the AL East.

vs. Vicente Padilla PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 12 0.400 0.500 0.400 0 1
Curtis Granderson CF 12 0.250 0.500 0.375 0 1
Mark Teixeira 1B 14 0.250 0.500 1.000 2 4
Alex Rodriguez 3B 13 0.167 0.231 0.417 1 8
Robinson Cano 2B 11 0.364 0.364 0.636 1 2
Jorge Posada C 5 0.333 0.600 0.333 0 1
Nick Swisher RF 19 0.067 0.263 0.267 1 3
Brett Gardner LF 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 0 1
CC Sabathia LHP 4 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 92 0.250 0.341 0.485 5 21
             
vs. CC Sabathia PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Rafael Furcal SS 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Russell Martin C 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Andre Ethier RF 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Manny Ramirez LF 23 0.571 0.609 1.286 4 7
Matt Kemp CF 3 0.333 0.333 1.333 1 1
James Loney 1B 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Casey Blake 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jamey Carroll 2B 3 0.500 0.667 0.500 0 1
Vicente Padilla RHP 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 36 0.485 0.500 1.030 5 9

 

Yankees vs. Dodgers    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
DNP DNP DNP LAD: 2-1
       
World Series History (Yankees lead 8 to 3)  
1941 Yankees 4 games to 1 over Dodgers  
1947 Yankees 4 games to 3 over Dodgers  
1949 Yankees 4 games to 1 over Dodgers  
1952 Yankees 4 games to 3 over Dodgers  
1953 Yankees 4 games to 2 over Dodgers  
1955 Dodgers 4 games to 3 over Yankees  
1956 Yankees 4 games to 3 over Dodgers  
1963 Dodgers 4 games to 0 over Yankees  
1977 Yankees 4 games to 2 over Dodgers  
1978 Yankees 4 games to 2 over Dodgers  
1981 Dodgers 4 games to 2 over Yankees  

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For the first time since the last game of the 2007 ALDS, Joe Torre will be in uniform for a Yankees game. Of course, Torre will be wearing the home whites of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he faces his old team for the first time in his managerial career.

Brian Cashman and Joe Torre used to enjoy a strong working relationship with the Yankees, but have since become estranged after the publication of The Yankee Years.

Whether you believe Torre was shafted or allowed arrogance to end his Yankee career, the acrimony surrounding his departure has been examined to death. Like most ugly divorces, there are two sides to the story, so there is little purpose in trying to determine the aggrieved party. Doing so usually opens wounds wider and makes the healing process take that much longer. Unfortunately, that is precisely what has resulted from last year’s publication of Torre’s book, The Yankee Years.

As much as Torre has tried to deflect any notion that his book was deeply critical of those who helped him resurrect his career, Brian Cashman has made it very clear that he views some of the statements in the book as a form of betrayal. Torre’s attempt to portray himself as a victim  and shift blame for the Yankees’ post season failures during the end of his tenure  have understandably left a sour taste in the mouth of many Yankees executives, including Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner. According to many accounts, Steinbrennernot only resented the way Torre portrayed his final contract offer, but was particularly insulted by his lack of gratitude for the opportunities presented to him by the organization.

Complicating the relationship even further is the special bond that the Yankees’ “core four” have with Torre, a warm feeling that is in stark contrast to how Alex Rodriguez feels about his former manager. While Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte have all spoken glowingly about Torre, Arod has refused to offer a comment. Of course, his silence speaks volumes.

Because of Torre’s decision to write his book so soon after departing the Yankees, what should have been water under the bridge has instead bubbled beneath the surface. Being a master of the media, Torre will likely brush aside some of his less than flattering comments about Cashman and Arod, but the fact remains that they were petty and petulant. You can’t blame either man for not opening their arms to a Torre reunion.

“There was nothing that came from me about Alex in the book that wasn’t out in some form before it was written in the book,” Torre said. “I don’t feel that I violated anything with Alex. I’m sorry he feels that I did if he does feel that way.” – Joe Torre, quoted in the June 25, 2010 issue of the Daily News

The Yankees can’t erase Torre from their history and it clearly isn’t their intention to do so. Torre’s number six has not been issued over the past three seasons and it likely will remain vacant until it is retired in his honor. Whether Torre is every fully welcomed back into the Yankee family remains to be seen, however. In a weird twist, the organization’s posture is oddly similar to the one taken by Yogi Berra after his untimely dismal as Yankee manager in 1985. Just as Yogi vowed never to return to Yankee Stadium, it seems as the Yankees have no desire to have Torre come back either. Perhaps Torre would be wise to follow George Steinbrenner’s lead and issue a long-in-coming apology that will help begin to repair the rift?

With all of the friends he cultivated in the media, Torre has always been able to count on more than his fair share of positive press. Still, the fan base has slowly started to sour on Torre, especially after the team proved that they could win a World Series without his leadership. As a result, if tonight’s game was played at Yankee Stadium, the crowd response would feature a healthy portion of jeers. Instead of a heroic return, Torre may never be welcomed back at all.

Could Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman be the bigger men and let bygones be bygones? Sure, but in this case, the burden on the apology falls squarely on Torre’s shoulders. Until he takes the first step, the honors that Torre deserves will be put on hold. To this point, Torre’s pride and stubbornness have won out over his affection for the Yankees and desire to take his rightful place in the team’s history. There may be lots of hugs on the field before these next three games, but regret is the real emotion that will be flowing.

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