Results tagged ‘ Bud Selig ’
Major League Baseball marked the official start of All-Star balloting today for the 84th All-Star Game that will be held Tuesday, July 16, at Citi Field.
Yankees fans might have to make sure of write-in votes to help some of the players make it onto the team. The ballot does not include catcher Francisco Cervelli or outfielder Vernon Wells, for example. Chris Stewart is listed as the Yankees’ catcher, and the three outfielders on the ballot are Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki. Granderson has yet to play a game. Nor have first baseman Mark Teixeira or shortstop Derek Jeter. All had been expected back in May, which is why they were named to the ballot.
Jeter’s case has changed, obviously, with another break in his surgical left ankle that will keep him out of action until after the All-Star break. Alex Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery, was never expected to play before the All-Star break, so Kevin Youkilis is listed as the Yankees’ third baseman. Also on the ballot are second baseman Robinson Cano and designated hitter Travis Hafner.
MLB’s All-Star balloting program is the largest of its kind in professional sports. Last year, more than 40.2 million ballots were cast, which was a record. This year, more than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 major-league ballparks, each of which will have 25 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 minor-league parks.
Fans may also cast votes for starters 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club web sites, including Yankees.com. – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by freecreditscore.com.
Every major-league club will have begun its in-stadium balloting no later than Tuesday, May 7. When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes Friday, June 28, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com, the 30 club web sites and their mobile devices until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 4. Firestone is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2013 In-Stadium All-Star balloting program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be rewarded with a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week, including airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events.
“All-Star Balloting is more popular than ever, and we hope for another record-setting year in 2013,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “Major League Baseball is thrilled that fans throughout the world will continue to choose their favorite players for the greatest sporting event of the summer. We look forward to adding a new chapter to the remarkable National League tradition of New York City at Citi Field this summer.”
This will mark the ninth time the All-Star Game has been in New York. The Yankees have been the host team four times in the Bronx – 1939 and the second of two games in 1960 in the original Yankee Stadium and 1977 and 2008 in the renovated Stadium. The game was also in Manhattan twice when the Giants were the host team at the Polo Grounds – 1934 and 1942 – and once each in Brooklyn when the Dodgers were the host team at Ebbets Field in 1949 and in Queens when the Mets were the host team at Shea Stadium in its inaugural season of 1964.
For the fifth consecutive year, this year’s ballot will feature the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will get to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The Fan Poll also will be available online at MLB.com.
Cano, the winner of the 2011 event at Chase Field in Phoenix, is one of the 10 American League candidates, along with designated hitter Adam Dunn of the White Sox; first baseman Prince Fielder of the Tigers; third basemen Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, Evan Longoria of the Rays and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers; and outfielders Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, Adam Jones of the Orioles and Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout of the Angels.
The 10 National League candidates are catcher Buster Posey of the Giants; first baseman Joey Votto of the Reds; third baseman David Wright of the Mets; and outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Jason Heyward of the Braves, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins.
The AL and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled Sunday, July 7, on the 2013 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Taco Bell, televised nationally on TBS. The AL All-Star Team will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL All-Star Team will have eight. The pitchers and reserves for both squads – totaling 25 for the N.L. and 24 for the A.L. – will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers – the AL’s Jim Leyland of the Tigers and the NL’s Bruce Bochy of the Giants.
Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, fans will begin voting to select the final player for each league’s 34-man roster via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by freecreditscore.com. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a four-day period and the winners will be announced after the voting concludes Thursday, July 11. Now in its 12th season with more than 350 million votes cast, fans again will be able to make their Final Vote selections on MLB.com, club sites and their mobile phones.
This year’s final phase of All-Star Game voting again will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the game, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and the 30 club sites via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The Yankees and the Red Sox, legendary rivals, will stand together Opening Day in dedicating the April 1 game at Yankee Stadium to victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, their families and the greater community of Newtown, Conn.
Pregame ceremonies will feature joint honor guards of Newtown police and firefighters, along with a moment of silence, during which a list of the Sandy Hook victims’ names will be recognized on the center-field video board.
Yankees and Red Sox players will wear a special ribbon on their uniforms for Opening Day to honor those lost and those affected by the tragedy. This ribbon will also be prominently painted on the field in front of both dugouts.
To show Major League Baseball’s solidarity in remembering the victims, their families and the greater community of Newtown, commissioner Bud Selig has asked the 28 other teams to follow suit in wearing the ribbon during their respective Opening Day games.
The Yankees have also invited approximately 3,000 children, families and members of Newtown to celebrate summer recess Sunday, July 7, by attending the Yankees’ 1:05 p.m. game that day against the Orioles. The Yankees have proclaimed the date “Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium” at a time of year after the school calendar is complete that allows for the greatest number of children and families to be able to attend.
“On Opening Day, we will reflect upon more important things and play the game to honor the community of Newtown,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Since the day of the tragedy, our hearts and thoughts have been with those who were affected. We hope that bringing the families of Newtown together at Yankee Stadium later in the summer will give the community an opportunity to create new memories and aid in the difficult process of moving forward.”
Added Red Sox principal owner John Henry, “Months have passed, yet we are still trying to come to grips with this incomprehensible tragedy. “As our teams look to face each other on Opening Day, we will stand united in support of the families affected as we remember and honor those who were lost.”
“The Yankees organization has supported our community in several ways since the tragic events of December 14,” said Pat Llodra, First Selectman, Town of Newtown. “Their generosity and compassion during this difficult time means a lot to all of us. We also would like to thank Commissioner Selig, the Red Sox and Major League Baseball for this meaningful tribute to our community.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Commissioner Bud Selig and Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Players Association, were in complete agreement on one issue Tuesday. Both executives felt that fans here overdid it in their persistent booing of Robinson Cano during Monday night’s Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium.
Cano was taken to task by local fans for not including Billy Butler, the Royals’ representative on the American League squad, for the AL’s quartet in the Home Run Derby. Cano is captain of the AL team and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp for the National League. Cano was booed whenever his face appeared on the video board and throughout his at-bat in the first round when he failed to hit a home run.
“I felt badly about Robinson Cano,” Selig said. “He picked the people he thought were deserving and did a good job. I really felt bad for him.”
“I don’t think anyone could quarrel with the players he took,” Weiner said. “They had the three most home runs in the competition.”
Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder won the event. Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo had the second and third highest totals, respectively. Even with Cano getting shut out, the AL out-homered the NL, 61-21.
Selig and Weiner spoke at the annual All-Star Game meeting of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at the Kansas City Marriott County Club Plaza Hotel on a variety of topics on which they did not always agree except for the Cano situation.
Cano was not criticized by Butler, who said he did not fault the Yankees second baseman nor did he feel snubbed. KC fans, on the other hand, took it personally. Cano said he understood why the fans were upset and that part of being a Yankee is to get used to being booed on the road.
What fans here did not realize is that Cano had to name the Home Run Derby team before the AL squad was complete. Cano, Fielder and Bautista were voted into the starting lineup in the fans’ ballot, and Cano was told by a league official that Trumbo would be on the team. Butler was not named to the team until several days after Cano had to submit his list. He had inquired about two other stars, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, but both declined to participate.
“Fans have the right to express their opinion,” Weiner said, “but it seemed to me that it was more than the traditional booing.”
ESPN, which cablecast the event, did not help matters, either. Cameras were focused on Cano for what seemed an inordinate amount of time, almost as if the network encouraged fans to boo him.
Bill “Moose” Skowron, an integral part of the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1950s and ‘60s, died Friday of congestive heart failure and lung cancer at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.
Skowron, a power-hitting first baseman, played in eight World Series and was on eight All-Star squads in a 14-season career, nine with the Yankees on teams that won seven pennants and four World Series. He won an eighth pennant and fifth World Series with the Dodgers in 1963 at the expense of the Yankees.
Skowron is survived by his wife, Lorraine (known as Cookie), daughter Lynnette, sons Greg and Steve, granddaughter Addyson and grandsons Jordan, Grant and Blake. A moment of silence was observed at Yankee Stadium before Friday night’s Yankees-Tigers game.
Skowron was one of those right-handed sluggers whose power was compromised by the famous Death Valley of left-center field at the original Yankee Stadium that peaked at 467 feet. Only 60 of his 211 career home runs were hit at the Stadium, and many of those were to right field.
“Moose was my roommate for a while, and we were friends for so long,” said former pitcher Bob Turley, the Cy Young Award winner in 1958. “He was a good guy, and people loved him. Moose could really hit the baseball – especially home runs to right field – and he was a good first baseman. I was glad Moose was on my team because he always wanted to win.”
“Moose will always be remembered as being one of the key members of the Yankees’ dynasties in the ‘50s and early ‘60s,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “He was a winner in every sense of the word, and someone the Yankees family cared deeply for. Baseball lost one of its finest ambassadors, and on behalf of the entire organization, I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Cookie, and his entire family.”
Although he also played for the Dodgers, Senators, White Sox and Angels, Skowron considered himself a lifelong Yankee and was a regular returnee on Old Timers’ Days. The Chicago native worked in the White Sox’ community relations department the past 14 seasons and was at U.S. Cellular Field whenever the Yankees were in town.
“I got to know Moose really well,” Derek Jeter said. “Moose was one of the guys you always looked forward to seeing. Whether it was here, Old Timers Day, in Chicago, he used to always come out when we played in Chicago. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the years. He always had positive things to say. He would always come over and comment on how you are playing or how things will turn around. He was just always positive.”
“I am saddened by the loss of Moose Skowron, a great baseball man who was an integral part of the wonderful Yankee teams of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “As a Milwaukee Braves fan, I will always remember his two-out, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1958 World Series. Moose, a Chicago native who was an All-Star for the White Sox in 1965, continued to contribute to our game as a member of the front office of his hometown team since 1999. He was a wonderful storyteller and an important link to a great era in baseball history. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Moose’s wife Cookie, their children, their grandchildren and his many fans.”
“We all have lost a dear, dear friend today,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “While Moose may have become a star in New York with the Yankees, he was a Chicagoan through and through. I certainly will miss his priceless stories about Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, Hank Bauer and of course, his good friend, Mickey Mantle. My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together.”
William Joseph Skowron was the son of a Chicago sanitation worker. Although a former football player who won a scholarship to Purdue, Skowron’s nickname was not based on his powerful, 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame. While in grade school, his grandfather gave him a very short haircut, and his classmates thought it made him resemble the Italian dictator, Benito Mussilini, or “Moose” for short.
Skowron also played baseball at Purdue where his coach was Hank Stram, who later went on to fame as the head coach of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. Moose chucked football for baseball in 1951 when the Yankees offered him a $25,000 contract. He could hit but was not as adept with a glove. A poor outfielder, Skowron was converted to first base, a position he shared in a platoon with left-handed Joe Collins when he reached the majors in 1954.
The home run Commissioner Selig mentioned was one of three Skowron hit in World Series Games 7. The others were in 1956, a grand slam, against the Dodgers, and in 1960 against the Pirates. A .282 career hitter with 888 runs batted in, Moose hit .293 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 39 games and 133 at-bats in World Series play. In All-Star play, he had 6-for-14 (.429) with a double.
He was one of six Yankees players who hit more than 20 home runs for the 1961 team that had a then-record 240, topped by Maris’ 61 and Mantle’s 54. Moose, the third “M,” had 28. Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard also topped the 20-homer plateau. But Moose’s best overall season was probably the previous year, 1960, when he hit .309 with 26 home runs and career-high totals in doubles (34) and RBI (91).
“There weren’t many better guys than Moose,” Yogi said. “He was a dear friend and a great team man. A darn good ballplayer, too. ‘I’m going to miss him.”
To clear space at first base for Joe Pepitone, the Yankees traded Skowron to the Dodgers after the 1962 season for pitcher Stan Williams. Moose came back to haunt the Yankees as he hit .385 with a homer and three RBI in the Dodgers’ sweep of the Yanks in the 1963 World Series.
“Moose was a Yankee all the way,” said former pitcher Ralph Terry, the 1962 World Series Most Valuable Player. “He was a true professional who always worked hard and took the game as serious business. I am proud to have been able to call him a good friend. I remember during spring training when I was 18, he took me for my first pizza.”
Terry won Game 7 of the ’62 World Series, 1-0, over the Giants. No, Moose did not hit a home run in that game, but he did score the only run. He was in the middle of the action a lot in those days.
Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher will take his swings behind a microphone with the release next week of a 12-song CD geared to children entitled “Believe,” through digital outlets. A portion of the proceeds will go to Swish’s Wishes, the outfielder’s charitable foundation that is dedicated to enriching lives and lifting the spirits of children facing vital health issues.
“I had an absolute blast working on this project, but I couldn’t have done it without having a true pro as my producer, Loren Harriet,” Swisher said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of the talented artists and musicians that performed on this album, but most of all I want to thank the kids. They sound amazing, and I’m honored just to have been given this opportunity.”
Harriet was the producer of two critically acclaimed albums by former Yankees center fielder and Latin Grammy Award nominee Bernie Williams, who will play guitar on Swisher’s album along with Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who was Nick’s teammate in Oakland from 2004-06.
The title song, which is the 12th cut on the album, will feature several other prominent musicians: drummer Kenny Aronoff (who has accompanied John Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge), bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Phil Collins), guitarist Tim Pierce (Goo Goo Dolls, Michael Jackson) and keyboardist Matt Rollings (Tim McGraw, Lyle Lovett).
In addition, a group of talented youngsters ages 8-13 sing backup vocals on each song. Included are kids from the nationally acclaimed music education franchise, “School Of Rock,” as well as Natalie Prieb, 13, granddaughter of commissioner Bud Selig.
The track list selected by Swisher includes such tunes as David Bowie’s “Heroes,” Bill Winters’ “Lean On Me,” the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World,” the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down.”
Of personal interest to Swisher are two other favorites: John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a tribute to his hometown of Parkersburg, W. Va., and the McCoys’ “Hang On Sloopy,” a nod to his alma mater, Ohio State University.
PHOENIX – Derek Jeter’s name has been bandied about quit a quite a bit at the All-Star Game, and it has not always been flattering. Several team officials and a few players have commented that Jeter should have come here for the game even if he did not intend to play. The situation got to the point that commissioner Bud Selig felt it was necessary for him to nip it in the, well, bud.
The commish made his annual appearance at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Sheraton Phoenix Hotel for a question-and-answer session with the writers and addressed the controversy surrounding Jeter, who decided not to come here so that he could use the time to rest his right calf to be ready for the second half.
“There isn’t a player than I’m more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter,” Selig said before taking questions. “He has played the game like it should be played. He is even a better human being off the field than he is a great player on the field. I know why Derek Jeter isn’t here, and I respect that. I think I would have made the same decision Derek Jeter did.
“He has brought to this sport great pride. He has been a role model. He has earned it, and he keeps earning it. Any suggestion that I or anybody else around here is unhappy with him not being here is false. I am proud of what he has done. I told him that Saturday when I spoke with him on the phone [after getting his 3,000th hit], and I have told him that quite often.”
Sitting at the front table while Selig spoke was the vice president of baseball operations, a fellow named Joe Torre, who was Jeter’s first manager with the Yankees, and nodded with approval at the commissioner’s every sentence.
I was glad to hear Bud go on the record about this matter because some of the talk the day before during the workouts was a bit nasty. More than one player suggested that Jeter was not grateful to the fans for voting him into the American League starting lineup when he didn’t really deserve it. For all we know, DJ’s choice not to play could have been one way to assure that the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera got to start the game.
There is nothing new about players passing up the All-Star Game for health reasons. I have been around Derek Jeter for 16 years and know how much he enjoys going to the All-Star Game and all the festivities around it. He has always considered his Most Valuable Player Award from the 2000 game at Turner Field in Atlanta one of the top moments of his career (although not as much as his World Series MVP the same year in the Yankees’ triumph over the Mets).
Jeter just got over a three-week recovery period from a strained calf muscle. He is 37, not 27, and has been under a ton of pressure to get over the 3,000-hit hump at Yankee Stadium rather than disappoint his fans by reaching the milestone on the road. This was all pretty draining, so cut him some slack. DJ would rather sit out a game that doesn’t count in the standings than not be as close to 100 percent as possible in a Yankees regular-season game.
One player here told me one of the reasons some players were sniping at Jeter is because they wanted to get autographs themselves from the newest member of the 3,000 Hit Club. At All-Star Games, players are signing all kinds of things, from baseballs to pictures to gloves to bats, you name it. There are quite a few items that are signed by every player on a league roster, which are a lot more valuable if a player who just reached 3,000 career hits is on there.
An All-Star who summed up the situation best was White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who said, “I promise you his injury is not 100 percent. Nobody ever comes back from an injury in the middle of the season at 100 percent. It’s never gone. So he’s playing with it, I guarantee you that. It is one of those things where I understand people voted him in and wanted to see him, but if there is any guy in the game who bought a rain check for one of these, he’s the one. Let’s move on and not make such a big deal about it.”
And believe it or not, Yankees fans, another of the Captain’s major supporters was Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “If he’s not here, there’s a good reason for it,” Big Papi said.
I wrote the other day that what Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez were doing by not coming to the All-Star Game while nursing ailments was justified. As for coming out here just to wave to the fans, well, that would have been nice (except for A-Rod, who would have to leave a hospital bed), but what would be the point?
In an indirect way, Mo’s decision allowed AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers to make an All-Star of David Robertson, which was fitting. A lot of the people who were criticizing Jeter had no explanation for why CC Sabathia was not an obvious choice for the AL staff based on his pitching in the first half. You can’t have it both ways, guys.
At the risk of sounding corny, the Yankees just could not lose Sunday. What a downer that would have been on one of the best Old Timers’ Day celebrations in the 65-year history of this classic event.
And yet for a while it looked like a loss was definitely possible. Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio was perfect through 13 batters making a 3-0 lead seem insurmountable. Then two of the current Yankees who seemed to enjoy the Old Timers’ Day festivities more than most got the Yankees back into the game with back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to tie the score.
“We couldn’t let Tino have the only homer of the day for us,” Nick Swisher said, referring to the two-run shot Martinez had off David Cone in the two-inning Old Timers’ exhibition.
Swisher followed a single by Robinson Cano drilling a 3-1 fastball to right field for his ninth home run and was still shaking hands in the dugout when Jorge Posada went yard for his eighth on a 1-2 heater. Suddenly, the game was tied.
“We didn’t want to let the Old Timers down,” Swish added.
The second of two home runs by Ty Wigginton returned the lead to Colorado in the sixth, but Alex Rodriguez singled in a run to extend his streak of RBI games to six in the bottom half to knot the score again.
As Derek Jeter, absent on his 37th birthday while rehabilitating his strained right calf in Tampa, Fla., likes to tell new Yankees, “Wait for the ghosts to come out around here.”
How else to explain that Troy Tulowitzki, at Jeter’s shortstop position and wearing DJ’s No. 2 for Colorado, misplayed a grounder by Russell Martin for an error (only his fourth in 75 games) that led directly to the go-ahead run in the seventh on a single by, yep, Jeter’s backup shortstop, Eduardo Nunez?
Swisher, Posada and Mariano Rivera, who struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save, had been particularly active during the Old Timers’ Day celebration, which got especially emotional with the tribute to Gene Monahan, who is beloved by the players he has kept on the field for 49 years as the Yankees’ athletic trainer.
Geno, as he is known, is a shy man who is uncomfortable in the spotlight, but since announcing that this would be his last season the Yankees have endeavored to let their fans know just how important he has been over the years to the organization. And what better day to do so than the annual reunion of Yankees players from seasons past.
“It was a great day,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who put the perfect end to the afternoon by calling on the current squad’s old timer, Rivera.
“We were teasing Mo during the ceremony that he should come out there with us,” Girardi said.
The looks on the faces of the Yankees were precious as Monahan’s grown daughters and fiancée came on to the field to hug him during the ceremony.
“That was a big surprise,” Posada said. “He didn’t know they were coming. He lost it after that. Gene probably didn’t hear half the stuff that was presented to him.”
Monahan acknowledged that later, saying, “I’m just numb and quivering and can’t feel my feet, if you want to know the truth.”
Okay, Gene, so here’s the list of gifts you received:
• A letter of congratulations from commissioner Bud Selig.
• The Stadium frieze from your original Yankee Stadium locker, presented by assistant trainer Steve Donohue.
• Two seats from the original Stadium, presented by Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage.
• A Thomas Kinkhade painting of the original Stadium, presented by Yankees general partner/vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.
• Toro TimeCutter lawn mower and a supply of Scotts products, presented by the Stadium grounds crew.
• Round-trip travel for two for a weekend in Las Vegas to see Garth Brooks and a personally autographed Stetson hat from Brooks, presented by Ron Guidry and Bernie Williams.
• Round-trip travel for two and VIP package to NASCAR Championship Weekend and an autographed NASCAR helmet from Kevin Harvick, presented by Martinez.
• Perillo Tours 15-day Alpine Wonders Tour for four, including airfare, presented by Posada and Rivera.
• 2012 Ford F-150 fully loaded Harley Davidson Edition pickup truck, presented by the 2011 Yankees team.
That was quite a haul.
Posada and Rivera also lent Geno a hand in his throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Old Timers’ Day game. Posada put on catcher’s gear for the first time this year and Rivera gave the trainer some tips on throwing the cutter. Monahan did not disappoint. He threw a strike.
Now how could the Yankees possibly lose on a day like that? So they didn’t.
Whatever happened to Saturday afternoon baseball? Go ask your local FOX affiliate, I guess.
The only taste of it available Saturday was at Yankee Stadium where the Yankees and Rockies were the only major league teams on the field at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. That’s right. Of the other 14 scheduled big-league games, four had 4:05 p.m. starts and 10 started after 7 p.m.
I know, I know; 4 o’clock technically counts as a day game, but only technically. I don’t care how deep into the summer you get 4 o’clock starts aren’t really day games. The day is almost over. It’s just that twilight lasted longer in the summer. That’s why they call it daylight savings time.
FOX’s Saturday game of the week telecasts start at 4, so the schedule has to have some games available on a regional basis, but what about all those 7 p.m. games? Some teams refer to them as date night. Isn’t that what Friday night games were for?
Saturday at the ballpark was one of the great American traditions. It was always one of my favorite days on the baseball beat because the crowd would be filled with kids whose enthusiasm was downright therapeutic. They would cheer everything – towering fly balls, searing foul line drives into the stands, any ball hit hard and the reaction to a player waving his glove or cap in their direction.
What today’s executives don’t seem to grasp is that it was on those days that baseball became ingrained in the national psyche. Such days lived in the memory bank of generations of people. Night games were for during the week so games could be viewed after work or school, but the weekend was for daytime and sunshine and baseball.
What makes baseball different from all the other sports is that it is the one that you fall in love with early in life. I don’t know anyone who says that never paid attention to baseball until they were, like, 23. That may be the case with other sports, but not baseball. If it didn’t get you early, it didn’t get you at all.
Commissioner Bud Selig and his crowd can point to their gaudy attendance figures about how terrific baseball is doing at the box office these days, but continuing to ignore young people on Saturdays will spread doomsday for the sport down the road.
End of rant for today.
Good riddance to Chuck Greenberg is the way Yankees fans should look at his departure from a brief run (seven months) as chief executive officer of the Rangers. As if getting to the World Series last year for the first time in the franchise’s 50-season history wasn’t enough, Greenberg felt compelled to insult Yankees fans with his remarks about the behavior of some boisterous individuals who took verbal aim at some wives of Texas personnel during the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.
You may recall Greenberg’s comments: “I thought Yankee fans, frankly, were awful. They were either violent or apathetic, neither of which is good. So I thought Yankee fans were by far the worst of any I’ve seen in the postseason. I thought they were an embarrassment.”
I love that “I’ve ever seen in the post-season,” as if the Rangers have made a habit of getting to the dance. All the whining did was to get Greenberg a rebuke from commissioner Bud Selig, who ordered him to apologize.
Even worse, though, was the boast that by extending the contract talks with free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, Greenberg opened the door for the Phillies to come along and snatch the lefthander away from the outstretched arms of the Yankees. Greenberg’s chest was swelling over the Rangers having outmaneuvered the Yankees in obtaining Lee in a trade from the Mariners last summer. That deal cost Texas its top prospect, first baseman Justin Smoak, as Yankees general manager hung on to infield prospect Eduardo Nunez.
Lee’s return to Philadelphia left the Rangers with nothing to show for giving up Smoak, but Greenberg chose to pat himself on the back with the consolation that at least the pitcher did not go to the Yankees. Some in the media felt Yankees president Randy Levine lowered himself by responding to Greenberg’s characterization, but I for one was amused and bolstered by the retort.
“He has been in the game for a few minutes and yet he thinks he knows what everyone is thinking,” Levine said. “He could really impress us when he keeps the Rangers off of welfare and keeps them from receiving revenue sharing the next three years.”
Greenberg deserved to hear that, but Randy could have held his breath because the loud-mouthed newcomer had no chance to survive in the Texas organization if he got on the wrong side of Nolan Ryan, which Greenberg apparently did. The Hall of Fame pitcher can do no wrong in the Lone Star State and could probably get elected governor there without having to spend one minute on a campaign trail.
In point of fact, it was Greenberg’s third visit to Lee in Arkansas – without Ryan, this time – that hurt the Rangers’ chances of re-signing him. As for swaying him from the Yankees, Lee made it clear that the Phillies were always his priority based on the good feeling he had pitching for them in their pennant-winning 2009 season. That he rejected a seven-year contract offer from the Yankees for a five-year deal from the Phillies was a pretty good indication where Lee’s heart lay, and it had nothing to do with Greenberg, whose 15 minutes are now up.
Right away Monday, I knew things would be different at Yankee Stadium. As I entered the lobby, I ran into a pair of old friends – Joe Torre and Don Mattingly.
Yes, this was going to be quite a night.
The former Yankees manager and captain were in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time to be part of the ceremony before Monday night’s Yankees-Rays game to honor the memory of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner with the unveiling of a plaque in the middle of Monument Park.
“I wanted to come back here last year for the World Series, but I didn’t do a good enough job,” Torre said, alluding to his Dodgers team’s failure to get past the Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
Last Friday, Joe announced that he was stepping down as Dodgers manager next year and will be succeeded by his bench coach, Mattingly, who will finally fulfill his dream by managing on the major-league level. Donnie gave me a hug and I said, “I can’t call you ‘Cap’ anymore. I’ll have to start calling you ‘Skip’ now.”
There were a lot of years and memories of Yankees greatness in these two figures standing in the Gate 2 lobby where next to the elevators stands a statue of “The Boss.”
Shortly after, Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost came out of one of the elevators and greeted Torre and Mattingly and proceeded to start them on a tour of the two-year-old park. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a renewed relationship between the team and its estranged icons.
Trost contacted Torre right after his press conference Friday and invited him and Mattingly to the ceremony. Monday was an open date on the Dodgers’ schedule
It must be noted that both men left the Yankees after the 2007 season not on the best of terms, Torre more so than Mattingly. Unable to get a contract extension that suited him, Torre left and went to the Dodgers. Mattingly had been a candidate for the Yankees manager’s job, but it went to Joe Girardi. Mattingly went to Los Angeles to be on Torre’s coaching staff.
“I always expected to come back,” Mattingly said. “I played my whole career here. I love the Yankees. I’m with another storied organization in L.A. now, but it was the Yankees who taught me the game, and I love coming back.”
As for Torre, Mattingly likened his return to the Stadium to when Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who was also at the Stadium for the Steinbrenner ceremony, returned to the Bronx in 1999 after a lengthy feud with the owner.
“Like Yogi, Joe needed to get back,” Donnie said. “I remember those years when Yogi wasn’t around and thinking his coming back needed to happen. It’s the same with Joe.”
Torre and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman agreed that their relationship was strained after “The Yankees Years,” a book co-written by Torre and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, characterized them as having opposing views towards the end of Torre’s 12-year run as Yankees manager.
They spoke Monday for the first time since parting ways three years ago.
“It was time to turn the page,” Cashman said. “I was the general manager for 10 of the 12 years Joe was here, and it was a magic carpet ride nearly all of that time. I was disappointed that the majority of our time together was not presented in the book. But we had a good talk, and we’ll move on from there.”
One thing Torre and Cashman were in agreement over was their respect for Steinbrenner. Cashman said those in the front office are still adjusting to running the Yankees without him.
“You have to understand that he did everything with the Yankees,” Cashman said. “No matter what area of business there was, he had the final say. And you always knew when he was in the Stadium. You could just feel his presence once you got two feet into the door. Some would say you could feel it in the parking lot.”
“George is responsible for the best years of my life professionally,” Torre said. “We had some disagreements, but it was a good relationship. You always knew how much George wanted to win, for this city and for this organization. The last time I spoke to him was his 80th birthday. I knew he would get a lot of attention that day, so I actually called him the day before. We spoke for about 10 minutes. He was in very good spirits. It’s a good feeling to get back to this. George belongs not only in Monument Park but also in the Hall of Fame.”
The pre-game ceremony was attended by Joan Steinbrenner, George’s widow, and her four children – sons Hank and Hal and daughters Jennifer and Jessica and their spouses. Other guests included Berra and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as well as commissioner Bud Selig, Gene Michael, Roy White, Lee Mazzilli, David Wells and Tino Martinez.
Torre was accompanied by his wife, Ali. Yogi and the Steinbrenner family climbed on to a golf cart and began a procession down the right field line and along the warning track to Monument Park beyond the center field wall. Not surprisingly, the loudest cheers were for Torre and especially Mattingly.
“There has never been a greater group of fans than the fans at Yankee Stadium,” Torre said.
The plaque read:
July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010
New York Yankees Principal Owner
1973 – 2010
Purchased the New York Yankees on January 3, 1973.
A true visionary who changed the game of baseball forever,
he was considered the most influential owner in all of sports.
In his 37 years as Principal Owner, the Yankees posted a Major League-best .566 winning percentage,
while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles,
becoming the most recognizable sports brand in the world.
A devoted sportsman, he was Vice President of the United States Olympic Committee, a member of
the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and a member of the NCAA Foundation Board of Trustees.
A great philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare, he followed a
personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity.
Dedicated by the New York Yankees
September 20, 2010