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Archive for September 22nd, 2010

Partial season plan holders not lucky enough to win the pre-sale lottery have likely already received what amounts to a Dear John letter from the Yankees. The terms of the post season ticket sale format were fully disclosed, so there really isn’t room for complaining, but it does seem a shame that the Yankees haven’t found a way to at least guarantee all season plan holders an equal shot at securing playoff tickets.

The Yankees are so popular that they don’t really need many inducements to get fans to buy season plans. However, with tickets frequently being sold at a discount by third-parties like StubHub, the lack of a post season guarantee might be enough to convince smaller plan holders to give up their seats. Is that something that the Yankees will feel? Probably not, but it is still a situation they’d be wise to keep monitoring.

 

NEW YORK YANKEES

One East 161st Street • Bronx, NY • 10451

 

Dear Season Ticket Licensee,

Thank you for your loyal support of the New York Yankees. We appreciate your commitment and trust you are just as excited as we are to watch the “Chase for 28” continue.

We would like to inform you that you have not been selected for the opportunity to purchase tickets during the 2010 Postseason ALDS/ALCS Preliminary Pre-On-Sale scheduled for September 22, 2010.

Your 2010 Postseason ALDS/ALCS Pre-On-Sale opportunity is scheduled for September 24, 2010.You will receive an e-mail from yankees.com that will provide you with your pre-on-sale password,  link to the purchase page and further instructions regarding the Pre-On-Sale. You will be permitted to purchase, subject to availability, a maximum of two (2) Tickets to one (1) potential game scheduled to be played at Yankee Stadium during the 2010 American League Division Series (“ALDS”) and/or the 2010 American League Championship Series (“ALCS”). Eligible Licensees may purchase a maximum of four (4) Tickets in total, but no more than two (2) Tickets to one (1) potential game of the ALDS and two (2) Tickets to one (1) potential game of the ALCS.

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Almost like sticking a finger in a dam, Joe Torre’s recent attempt to begin the process of reconciliation with the New York Yankees may have created another leak in the 70 year-old manager’s relationship with his current employer, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

On Monday, Torre and soon-to-be new Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly traveled to New York to attend the unveiling of the George Steinbrenner memorial in Yankee Stadium’s monument park. During his visit, Torre made the usual rounds with all of his friends in the New York media, and even went so far as to let slip a casual interest in the not-yet-vacant Mets’ managerial position. In response to having Torre openly covet his job, Jerry Manuel questioned the integrity of a man whose image has been covered in a Teflon coating of class. Lately, however, things have begun to stick.

According to Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, Torre’s solicitation of another job was not only bad form, but grounds for termination from the position he currently holds.  The LA media had already been grumbling about being forcefed Don Mattingly as the heir apparent, so word of Torre already looking for greener pastures while still in Dodger blue predictably raised the ire of the town’s scribes. Of course, the same writers heralded Torre’s arrival in LA only three years ago, despite the knowledge that his contract was essentially negotiated while Grady Little was still the team’s manager.

In an attempt to absolve himself of any culpability for mentioning the Mets’ job, Torre completely disavowed any interest in the position. What was most interesting, however, was the reason he gave for doing so. According to Torre, he couldn’t work for the Mets because it might upset Yankees fans.

To me it doesn’t make any sense to go to the other team in New York after spending so much time with the Yankees. I built up a lot of goodwill with those fans of the Yankees, and now all of a sudden I’m going to make them mad?” – Joe Torre, quoted in The Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2010

When he parted company with the Yankees after the 2007 season, Torre didn’t seem too interested in his legacy with the team, a point further illustrated by the publication of The Yankee Years. Perhaps, it was only after the fallout from the book that Torre realized he had made a mistake with how he exited the scene in New York. Beginning with the Yankees trip to Los Angeles back in June, Torre finally seemed to start seriously considering the way he would be remembered in the place of his greatest success. Who knows, maybe his resignation just days before the Steinbrenner ceremony was designed to solicit an invitation back to the Bronx? In any event, it sure does seem as if Torre has put on a full court press to get back in the good graces of the Yankees Universe.

Who knows if Joe Torre will ever manage again. At 70 years old, it just might be the right time to take a step back and assume a lesser role in the game. If that’s the case, getting back in the good graces of the Yankee would be Torre’s wisest course of action. Of course, by doing so, he could gain a family, but lose a good number of friends along the way.

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For most of the year, the general perception had been that the Rays biggest advantage over the Yankees was in their starting rotation. By the end of this series, that may no longer be the case.

The return of the Joba "fist pump" could be a welcomed sight in October (Photo: Getty Images).

In September, Rays starters have gone 4-6 with a 5.47 ERA as three-fifths of the rotation has struggled mightily coming down the stretch. Ironically, it isn’t the 24-year old duo of David Price and Wade Davis that has wilted, but the veteran trio of Jeff Niemann, Matt Garza and James Shields. That group has gone a combined 1-6 with an 8.36 ERA since the beginning of the month. The late season swoon by the Rays’ starting staff has left only David Price with an ERA+ above league average, so all of a sudden it is Tampa that looks to be short in the rotation.

Last night was Shields chance to right the ship, but the scuffling right hander ran aground from the very start, surrendering five runs in the first inning. Nick Swisher started the uprising by belting his third career homer off Shields, but it was a key two-out, two run double by Lance Berkman that really defined the inning. Despite hitting .362/.455/.404 since returning from the disabled list, Berkman still had not been able to come up with that one defining hit, as evidenced by his one RBI over that span, not to mention the numerous high profile failures that resulted in a -0.209 WPA. By lining Shields’ 2-2 cutter over BJ Upton’s head in center, Berkman not only extended the lead and the inning, but also gave him a moment upon which to build heading into the post season.

By the end of the first inning, the Yankees had built a 5-0 lead, but instead of using the cushion to be more aggressive, Phil Hughes seemed as if he allowed a Matt Joyce homerun in the top of the second to scare him out of the zone. Over the next two innings, Hughes walked four batters, but was able to wiggle out of jams in the third and fourth with only one more run surrendered. When Hughes retired Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded to end the fourth, it seemed as if it might be his last batter of the game, but Girardi ran his young right hander back out there and was rewarded for his confidence. Hughes not only retired the fifth inning in order, but did the same in the sixth before eventually being lifted with one out in the seventh.

Javier Vazquez, the forgotten man of the bullpen, was summoned to not only protect the 5-2 lead, but perhaps audition for a role in the post season. Despite not pitching in 10 days, Vazquez showed little rust by throwing 14 of his 21 pitches for strikes, but did yield three hits in one inning of work. So, while he did help the Yankees get the game to Joba Chamberlain, he may not exactly have helped his cause.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees added two runs on Robin Cano’s two-run bloop double, insurance that would come in handy in the next inning. After Vazquez was lifted with runners on first and second, Chamberlain gave up an infield single to Upton that loaded the bases, bringing pinch hitter Brad Hawpe to the plate as the tying run. Hawpe eventually worked the count to 3-2, but Chamberlain dropped a sharp breaking slider into the zone that induced a swinging third strike. Chamberlain’s elusive slider has been an enigma for the right hander all season, but it finally seems to be coming around at just the right time. Without the pitch, Joba had become susceptible to hitters sitting on his straight fast ball, but if he can continue to command his breaking pitch, he could play a valuable role in October.

Another good sign for the Yankees was the continued improvement in Derek Jeter’s swing. With two more opposite field hits, including a run scoring double in the bottom of the eighth, Jeter extended his hitting streak to 10 games, during which has gone .311/.396/.400. Since being rested, however, Jeter’s numbers are a much more impressive .342/.435/.447 as his rock bottom 1-7 performance against the Rangers is removed from the equation.

So far, the Yankees rematch against the Rays has been filled with a lot more “feel good” stories than the go-round in Tampa last week. With AJ Burnett going tonight, another strong outing could have the Yankees feeling even better about their team heading into the post season. Meanwhile, the Rays have to wonder about how well they are setting up for October. A lot has changed in just one week, and could very well change again over the final 12 games of the season, but for the first time in a while, there seems to be a very positive light at the end of the tunnel.

Rays and Yankees Starting Rotations, September to Date

Name W L ERA GS IP ER HR BB SO
David Price 2 0 1.55 4 29 5 2 10 18
Wade Davis 1 0 3.50 3 18 7 2 7 19
James Shields 0 2 6.86 4 21 16 4 5 19
Matt Garza 1 2 8.24 4 19 2/3 18 7 11 9
Jeff Niemann 0 2 11.45 3 11 14 4 10 14
Total 4 6 5.47 18 98 2/3 60 19 43 79
                   
Name W L ERA GS IP ER HR BB SO
Andy Pettitte 0 0 1.50 1 6 1 0 1 2
CC Sabathia 2 1 2.45 4 29 1/3 8 2 7 23
A.J. Burnett 1 1 4.50 4 24 12 3 10 24
Dustin Moseley 0 1 5.40 1 6 2/3 4 0 2 1
Ivan Nova 0 0 6.00 4 21 14 3 9 12
Phil Hughes 1 2 6.16 3 19 13 6 6 16
Javier Vazquez 0 0 8.38 2 9 2/3 9 2 6 7
Total 4 5 4.75 19 115 2/3 61 16 41 85

Source: Fangraphs.com

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