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Monday, October 20, 2014

OUR FUTURE AT 3RD JUST HIT A BUMP IN THE ROAD


For Tony Conigliaro, it marked an early turning point in a promising career and the loss of an entire season.  For Sammy Sosa, it merely meant getting part of a game off before resuming his final 40 home run campaign.  A bean ball can be a scary thing to watch for a fan, and an even scarier thing to come back from if you are a player.


The Yankees 2013 first round pick Eric Jagielo now finds himself in the unenviable position of having to bounce back from a nasty beaning.  On September 28th, the number 3 prospect in the organization took a fastball to the face while playing in an instructional league game.  The pitch resulted in a “a slight fracture in his zygomatic arch near his left eye," according to MILB.com.  Because of the severity of his injury, Jagielo will miss the entire Arizona Fall League as he recuperates.


The 22-year-old third baseman out of the University of Notre Dame has impressed the organization thus far, hitting 18 home runs in 92 games in 2014 while splitting his time between the Gulf Coast League (rookie) and the Florida State League (advanced A).  The left-hander represents the future of the Yankees at third base.

The beanball is part of baseball.  Pitchers need to establish the inside part of the plate as their own if they are to be successful.  If they can’t, their stay in a game is short-lived.   Unfortunately, not every pitch is going to end up where it is intended.  No hurler intends to throw at a batter’s head, but pitches like the one that hit Jagielo will happen.

The way he rebounds is now dependent upon how the third baseman’s body and mind can heal.   The Yankees director of player personnel, John Kremer says that Jagielo’s vision is OK and the team expects him back for Spring Training.  While his body should be fine, it’s the young star’s mental makeup that will determine how much of a setback this will be.


Conigliaro was also 22-years-old when he was beaned.  He was a power-hitting outfielder that already had recorded three seasons of 24 or more home runs in the major leagues, and had hit 20 through 95 games when he went down.  After a season off, the outfielder bounced back and hit 56 home runs over two seasons before damage to his retina was too much to overcome.  He played his last game at age 30.


Sosa had his helmet shattered by the pitch that hit him in 2003.  The 34-year-old suffered a few cuts and was removed from the game, but was back in the lineup the very next day.  He would hit 40 home runs and drive in 103 that year.

If Jagielo’s reaction following his injury is any indication, we don’t have to worry about him resuming his rise through the organization.  He took to Instagram from his hospital bed and posted a photo with a caption thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers while assuring that the surgery was successful.

Given the current state of affairs on the big league club, we can only hope that Jagielo can put this behind him and resume his rise through the ranks.  While we wait out the contract of Alex Rodriguez, and hopefully re-sign Chase Headley for the present occupation of the hot corner, it remains slated to be Jagielo’s unless fate determines otherwise.


    

--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1


   


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BASEBALL'S NEXT JETER... BUSTER POSEY


Joel Sherman's piece in the New York Post, As Jeter exits, the possible new face of baseball wears a mask,is provocative and interesting and before you start yelling at the BYB pages that "There is no next Jeter", you need to understand what Sherman is saying.  He's not replacing the great Derek Jeter, he's merely suggesting that leadership brings championships, and a young Buster Posey reminds him of a young Derek Jeter; A player who's contributes with leadership, class and talent, to an already talented club and with continued trips to the fall classic.


Sherman writes: " Shouldn’t Buster Posey be the face of this game? Is there anyone more — forgive the term — Jeter-ian than him? Excellence at a prime position plus humility times championship should equal face of the game, right? The Giants catcher has those Jeter qualities that were always hard to quantify — poise, positivity, good teammate, etc...


The Giants won in 2010 when Posey was the Rookie of the Year, just as Jeter was Rookie of the Year in 1996 when the Yanks started their dynasty. Posey missed most of the next season after fracturing his fibula in a home-plate collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins, an injury that was the touchstone moment that led to the new blocking home-plate rules this year. 


In 2012, he won the MVP and the Giants won it all, again. Three titles in your first five years may not be as good as four in the first five like Jeter, but it is impressive nevertheless and Posey goes for it beginning with World Series Game 1 Tuesday against the Royals."


There are comparisons, but here's my only 2 cents on this, and this is me being a New Yorker, and, mind you, my oldest son loves Buster Posey.  Is Posey as big as Jeter was? Can he be? Sure... but nationally known, on the baseball scale where kids worship their players... are kids really walking around America in #28?  We'll have to see.

Sherman writes a terrific piece here, and something people really need to think about when you talk about strong role models and leaders.  If the Giants beat the Royals in this World Series, Sherman's piece becomes much more important.  If they don't... it may just be a provocative column to read and then place in recycling. 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

YANKEES LOSE CHILI DAVIS TO THE RED SOX

The rivalry continues, I guess...


Breaking now, it appears that the guy that was considered a top candidate for the Yankees next hitting coach is no longer in the running. The Red Sox have reportedly snagged Chili Davis...

Rod Bradford of WEEI.com reports:


"According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with Chili Davis to become their next hitting coach... The Sox chose Davis from a pool that also included Red Sox hitting coordinator Tim Hyers, Red Sox Double-A hitting coach Rich Gedman, Angels hitting coordinator Paul Sorrento and former Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller."

Wouldn't it be a hoot if we just went out and tried to now hire Bill Mueller? I kid... I kid.


I guess now we will soon know the future Yankee hitting coach. Reports are it's between Dave Magadan, Dante Bichette, Marcus Thames and James Rowson.


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HARD TO BELIEVE, BUT BRIAN CASHMAN PLAYED BALL...

Many have been blasting Brian Cashman for years. "Why is he still the Yankees GM?" Well, he was... and he is, and he will be for at least 3 more years. But did you know that Brian Cashman used to play baseball too?


Short post today, but I wanted to share this with you. Here are a few pictures of Brian Cashman when he played baseball for Catholic University back in the mid to late 80's.  I was in high school when this was happening.  Anyway. I found a terrific piece on Cash from the New York Times from back in 2011 where they spoke about his time in a uniform...


"The book on Brian Cashman was that he was a small but scrappy second baseman, excellent speed, active bat, good glove, average arm and stubborn as a Steinbrenner in his approach to the game.

As a four-year starter and leadoff hitter at Catholic University in Washington in the mid-to-late 1980s, Cashman was known for refusing to look down the third-base line at his coach for fear of seeing the take sign.

'I had trouble with secondary pitches,' he said. 'If the first pitch of the game was a fastball, I would jump on it and hammer it, opposite of the approach I have as a general manager. I like guys with high on-base percentages.'" 

The irony of his last comment is that while he may like guys with hig base percentages, years later, in 2014, we didn't get on base too much, and if we did, we couldn't knock them in.

Anyway, the piece by Harvey Araton continues on to speak about Cashman's career with the Yankees organization.  Over all, a clever piece and nice nugget on a Sunday in the Tri-state area.

Enjoy it...

Time to go turn my heat on... I hope the boiler works.



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BRIAN ROBERTS DID SOMETHING IMPORTANT


Well, as careers go, sometimes you just know when it's time to end one.  Brian Roberts has in fact understood that maybe he couldn't play anymore... and so... he retired from baseball after 14 seasons.

According to ESPN:

" Brian Roberts, who played all but one season of his 14-year major league career with the Baltimore Orioles, confirmed Friday that he is retiring.

'It was just kind of my time,' Roberts told the Baltimore Sun. 'There were numerous reasons that I felt like I couldn't play at a level that I was accustomed to and wanted to play at if I continued to play. I always said that I wasn't going to be the guy that tried to hang on as long as I could.'

Roberts signed with the New York Yankees in 2014, but was released in August after hitting .237 in 91 games."

Truth be told, I was pulling for Roberts as a Yankee, I was hoping his veteran status could help the club, but it was clear, his playing ability was lacking.


My only signfiicant memory of playing against Roberts was when he busted his arm in a collision with Bubba Crosby back in 2005. I have always felt like he never truly recovered from that... that's probably me just talking out loud right now...

Brian Roberts will forever be an Oriole, not a Yankee... and that's OK. He had a decent career. Whatever the case, I wish Roberts well.  He's a good dude and I know for a fact, speaking to players about him, that he was great teammate too.

Good luck to Brian Roberts, from BYB.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE STADIUM

I drove by the new Yankee Stadium the other day. I still refer to it as the “new” Yankee Stadium, because although it shares the old ballpark’s dimensions…it still hasn’t seemed like Yankee Stadium to me yet.


I think it really just hit me as to how different the Bronx Bombers are now. Yes, in 2009 the Yanks beat the Phillies in their new state of the art home…but to me that title seemed like a solid prequel movie.


One that you enjoyed, but it still seemed a lesser story or cast. The Core 4 was still there and ownership went out and spent to make certain the failure to make the 2008 playoffs didn’t happen again… and it worked. Tex, CC, AJ and Swish helped bring home #27. ARod was being cheered, Johnny Damon made Boston hate him a bit more, and Godzilla was the MVP. It was a great year…but as the ticker tape cleared…it seemed different.


Derek Jeter has now joined other greats in the Yankee history books. It will be tough not to see him out there next year, but it’s more than that. The Stadium really doesn’t and won't look  or feel like the Cathedral I grew up loving. I’m not trying to make the current PA announcer feel inferior. We all know it is really tough to replace a legend…but let’s face it he isn’t Bob Sheppard. The late, great “Voice of God” will not sound in the Bronx any longer. It was as if Bob’s voice was the Stadium itself speaking. The new generation of fans may only have heard of him, but Mr. Sheppard’s booming tones made you KNOW you were at a Yankee home game. The current announcer does a fine job, but he sounds like the announcer in LA, Arizona, Seattle or Tampa Bay. Bob, like the old Stadium, was iconic.


Then there is the fan involvement. Jeter and Mariano’s last games made the new building resemble the old one, but most nights it’s not the same. It seems more like a really nice mall than the old, rocking, and grand stage of baseball. Yep, you can get just about any type of food item or Steiner Collectible there...but you can also do that by staying home and ordering online. The Mohegan Sun is the worst. It should be pushed back or just done away with altogether. It has absolutely affected the diehards that sit out in the bleachers and that’s just wrong.


It was once almost dangerous to sit out there (in a good way). Now, you’ll find yourself sitting next to a guy in a Cards' cap who, “got the ticket from a guy at work who wasn’t using it.” The joint is too expensive. It’s doesn’t feel old school…it feels prep school…and to be honest I don’t see how not being able to take a family of 4 to a game, without spending all their Christmas savings, is acceptable. I didn’t mind paying to go to the old Stadium. It was like a trip to a ballgame and the Smithsonian all in one. Babe Ruth played on that field…now Teixeira does…nope; you’re not even close to worth the price of admission, Tex.


At the old park there was a sense that you were a part of something. You could feel the energy of New York pulsing through the foundation…and it wasn’t only during the good times. Now you sit and fight to find that feeling, but it’s buried under the invisible vanilla dome that seems to hover over the field. Derek Jeter leaving (and taking Bob Sheppard’s voice with him) throws the bigger picture into focus.


The new Yankee Stadium isn’t at all like the old. The new Yankees aren’t like the old Yanks either. They are the spin off cast. Their “set” is sharp, but lacks heart. It’s like having Yoda be an amazing puppet voiced by Frank OZ…or having the CGI guys draw him on a computer. I apologize for the Star Wars reference…but hopefully it makes my point clearer.


My hope is that this generation spawned by the success of the late 90’s and 2000’s will fade quickly. I sit optimistically wondering if there are kids down on the farm that are not only students of the game, but also students of the old Yankee way. Youngsters that not only want to be the next Derek Jeter, but the next Bernie, Paulie, Donnie, Tino, Reggie, Thurman, Nettles and Goose.


The men that made the old Yankee Stadium feel like a pinstriped fortress of winning, legends and magic…not an air-conditioned shopping center where players pretend to be Yankees.

** They are indeed and we can only hope for the better…sooner rather than later.**

  
 --Mike O'Hara
Senior "Features" Writer
Twitter: @mikeyoh21





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