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Archive for July 11th, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman, heaven has a new PA man, and God has his voice back.

Bob Sheppard, who served as Yankees’ public address announcer from 1951 until 2007, has died at the age of 99. Sheppard, whose majestic, dignified and authoritative tones came to be known as the “Voice of God”, had been battling a variety of illnesses, but no word has been released as to the official cause of death. Sheppard officially announced his retirement at the end of the 2009 season.

For many Yankee fans, Sheppard’s almost haunting voice became as much a part of the Yankee Stadium experience as seeing legendary players ranging from Mickey Mantle to Derek Jeter. For that reason, Sheppard was honored with a plaque in Monument Park on his 50th anniversary with the team. In addition, Sheppard’s voice lives on each time Jeter comes to the plate. After Sheppard was forced to take leave from his role as PA announcer in 2007, the Yankee short stop requested that he be introduced by the recorded voice of Sheppard, and that practice continues to this day.

Sheppard’s role with the Yankees was so significant that he doesn’t need a plaque or a recording to keep his memory alive. For generations, Yankees fans will tell their children about Sheppard, just as they have passed down stories about the team’s other legendary figures. After all, Sheppard’s voice is in entwined with so many great and tragic moments in Yankees history. From World Series games, to Old Timer’s Day theatrics to the solemn occasion of Thurman Munson’s death, Sheppard has presided over the Yankees universe with an air of dignity worthy of its creator.

The Yankees organization has been very lucky to have had so many iconic figures in what normally are mundane roles. Eddie Layton, the organist, Robert Merrill, the anthem singer, and now Sheppard, the master of ceremonies, have all passed and taken with them a part of Yankee Stadium. Their memories certainly live on, but for fans who grew up when they were fixtures, each one’s passing has closed the book on another chapter of their youth.

For all his accomplishments as Yankees owner,  George Steinbrenner deserves most credit for turning the Yankees from U.S. Steel into a  family run business, albeit a dysfunctional one at times. Not only has the Yankee family included a litany of both loyal and prodigal players, managers and executives, but also the likes of Layton, Merrill, the Scooter and Sheppard. These men were not just employees, but members of the family. In addition to Steinbrenner, trainer Gene Monihan can also trace his roots to the Yankee family tree, but both of those men have seen their own mortality brought to the forefront of late.  As the leafs begin to fall, the Yankees seem to be transitioning back into the corporate structure that existed from the days of Ruppert and Jacob through CBS. Is that a bad thing? In terms of success on the field, seemingly not. If the Yankees really do stop being family, however, it will be an unfortunate cost of doing business and a shame for future generations of fans.

The first Yankees’ lineup announced by Bob Sheppard on April 17, 1951

LF #40…Jackie Jensen…#40
SS #10…Phil Rizzuto…#10
RF #6…Mickey Mantle…#6
CF #5…Joe DiMaggio…#5
C #8…Yogi Berra…#8
1B #36…Johnny Mize…#36
3B #24…Billy Johnson…#24
2B #42…Jerry Coleman…#42
P #17…Vic Raschi…#17

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Joba Chamberlain blew another game. Don’t stop the presses. Apparently, the only person who hasn’t gotten the news is Joe Girardi.

Javier Vazquez had every reason to smile until watching Joba Chamberlain blow his victory in the eighth inning (Photo: AP).

This game should have been about Javy Vazquez’ strong seven innings of shutout ball or Nick Swisher’s continued hot streak heading into the All Star Break, but the stubborn absurdity of Girardi once again made Joba’s ineffectiveness the headline.

Before the season started, Girardi talked about Chamberlain needing to prove that he belonged in the 8th inning, but then inexplicably installed him in the role at the start of the season. Since then, Joba has done nothing to warrant such a high profile position in the late innings, but for some reason Girardi continues to mindlessly call on the erratic right hander with the game on the line.

When Joba burst on the scene at the end of the 2007 season, he immediately became a fan favorite and had many envisioning him as either a future closer or dominant starter. Since then, however, expectations for Joba have plummeted. Unfortunately, Girardi hasn’t gotten the message. After yet another disastrous outing, it’s time for him to finally wake up.

Whether it’s moving him down in the bullpen pecking order, or demoting him to Scranton to either rebuild his mechanics or his trade value, the Yankees organization cannot allow its desire to make something out of Joba get in the way of the team’s ultimate success. If Girardi wont acknowledge the reality, then Brian Cashman needs to take control. It’s time for a new set of Joba Rules…ones that don’t have him pitching anywhere near eighth inning until he proves himself worthy of the role.

Joba’s 2010 Meltdowns

Date Opp Rslt IP H R
April 23 LAA L,4-6 1 3 2
May 16 MIN L,3-6 0.2 2 3
May 18 BOS L,6-7 1 4 4
May 29 CLE L,11-13 0.1 4 4
June 17 PHI L,1-7 0 2 3
July 10 SEA L,1-4 1 3 4

Javier Vazquez’ Pitch Breakdown

  Avg. Speed Max Speed Count Strikes Percentage
Changeup 79.6 83.6 23 15 65.2%
Curve 75.4 83.3 22 14 63.6%
Four Seam Fastball 89.7 91.6 42 24 57.1%
Slider 84.2 91.1 7 2 28.6%
Two Seam Fastball 89.4 91 23 22 95.7%

 

Inning Pitches Strikes Percentage
1 22 14 63.6%
2 9 8 88.9%
3 10 7 70.0%
4 14 9 64.3%
5 15 9 60.0%
6 23 15 65.2%
7 24 15 62.5%
Total 117 77 65.8%

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