Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Key ’
No sooner had a I filed the previous blog about how the Yankees are the top fielding team in the majors this season that Derek Jeter booted a hard liner by Scott Hairston for an error that gave the Mets runners on first and third base with one out in the second inning of Saturday night’s Subway Series game at Citi Field.
Such misplays have a way of opening the door for teams, but Ivan Nova slammed it shut. The righthander got a big out when he struck out Omar Quintanilla on a nasty slider that the Mets shortstop foul-tipped into Russell Martin’s mitt.
Pitching carefully to Josh Thole with the pitcher on deck, Nova walked the Mets catcher on four pitches. Chris Young, who was batting for only the third time this year, went after the first pitch and hit a chopper up the middle that was gloved by Jeter, who stepped on second for the inning-ending force play that made his error insignificant.
The same could not be said of a muffed ground ball by Alex Rodriguez two innings later. A-Rod failed to grab a grounder by Hairston, and Quintanilla lined a double to left. With none out, Nova had to go after Thole and got him on a grounder to first as Hairston scored on the contact play. It increased the Mets’ lead to 2-0. They had gotten on the board in the third on Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ seventh home run of the season.
What was even weirder about the two errors is that the Yankees had not made an error with Nova on the mound this season, spanning a stretch of 86 1/3 innings.
Mets closer Frank Francisco’s pre-series reference to the Yankees as “chickens” continued to stir the pot of the latest match-up. Mets reliever Tim Byrdak went so far as to bring a live chicken into their clubhouse.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he could not remember hearing of a chicken being in a major-league clubhouse. But he did recall a time when Yankees teammates Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key went turkey hunting on an open date late one season but failed to catch anything. Girardi said the next day Key brought a frozen turkey from the supermarket to the clubhouse and gave it to Boggs, saying, “Here’s your turkey.”
The day I arrived at what was the last spring training the Yankees had at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1995, then manager Buck Showalter drove up to me in a golf cart on the sidelines of the main field and said, “Hop in; I want you to see someone.”
He drove to me to one of the back fields where two pitchers were warming up. I have long forgotten who one of them was, but the one I remember was Andy Pettitte. He wasn’t as cut as he would later become; he still had some love handles, but one pitch after the other sunk with stinging action.
Showalter, who grew up in the Florida panhandle and attended Mississippi State University, had an affinity for Southern players. Still does, probably, so I said to him, “Okay, which is it? Louisiana or Arkansas?”
“Texas,” Buck said. “You can’t quote me on this, but this guy might win 15 games for us this year.”
“Pretty tall order for a rookie,” I said.
Showalter missed on his prediction. Pettitte won 12 games, not 15, but he helped stabilize a rotation snagged by an injury to Jimmy Key, who finished second to David Cone, then with the Royals, in the previous year’s American League Cy Young Award race, and was a key ingredient in the Yankees’ reaching post-season play for the first time in 15 years, as the newfangled wild card.
Pettitte’s victory total was second on the staff only to another former Cy Young Award winner, Jack McDowell, who was 15-10. Pettitte’s 12-9 record and 4.17 ERA was not overwhelming, but it was good enough for him to finish third in the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award voting behind winner Marty Cordova of the Twins and runner-up Garret Anderson of the Angels, a couple of outfielders.
The lefthander started Game 2 of the Division Series against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium and was not involved in the decision, a 7-5 Yankees victory on a two-run home run in the 15th inning by Jim Leyritz that gave them a 2-0 lead in the series before they went 0-for-Seattle.
With Showalter gone after turning down a two-year contract offer from George Steinbrenner, Pettitte had to prove himself all over again to a new manager, Joe Torre, in 1996. It wasn’t easy, either. Torre at first thought Pettitte, a deeply religious person, was a bit soft. Yet start after start, Pettitte kept the Yankees in games, and he ended up winning 21 of them and becoming a Cy Young Award candidate, although he finished second in the voting to the Blue Jays’ Pat Hentgen.
Pettitte never came closer to winning that award, but even better he won over Torre with 8 1/3 gutty innings of shutout ball in Game 5 of the World Series at Atlanta, a 1-0 Yankees victory that put them up 3-2 and in position to take the Series two nights later, which they did. From that point on, Torre never questioned Pettitte’s toughness again.
Here is what Joe said about Andy the other day:
“Andy took the ball every five days, and if he had it his way, he’d get it more often than that. What’s really unusual about him is that a lot of times pitchers are more consumed with themselves. Andy was probably the consummate team player, especially for a pitcher. He was so concerned not only about the day he pitched but he always had his arm around a young guy in between starts.
“He has been a huge favorite of mine because he’s such a stand up guy, and he hasn’t changed from day one. He was a great teammate, and I think that’s why he won so many games. The guys that play behind him understand how intense he is, and it becomes contagious.
“I think the impact he had on the teams we had in the mid-to-late 1990′s was enormous even though he was never the guy in the spotlight. He liked the fact that he wasn’t the No. 1 guy even though I trusted him like a No. 1 guy. But he didn’t have an ego that dictated he needed all that attention.
“He did a great job of channeling his energy into competing, and he was about as consistent a performer as anybody in terms of getting your money’s worth. He glued our staff together. When you’re performing with the same people year-in and year-out, it’s always nice to have that security blanket. He was certainly that guy on the pitching staff.”
For other managers, the Astros’ Jimy Williams and Phil Garner and the Yankees’ Joe Girardi, Pettitte proved just as reliable in a career he brought to a halt this week. There were no tears at Friday’s announcement. Pettitte thought long and hard about this decision, and when he said “My heart isn’t in it anymore,” that’s all he needed to say. Once a player no longer has the stomach for the game, it is time to go.
That Game 5 of the 1996 World Series four nights after the Braves handed his head to him in Game 1 remains the centerpiece of Pettitte’s Yankees career, but there were plenty of other times when he gave the Yankees everything they needed from a pitcher.
He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 AL Championship Series when he won both his starts and held a Seattle team that had won 116 games during the regular season to four runs in 14 1/3 innings. Even in defeat, Pettitte could be magnificent, such as the Game 6 showdown with the Marlins’ Josh Beckett in the 2003 World Series, Andy’s last start for the Yankees before signing as a free agent with his hometown Houston club.
Three years later, Pettitte was back with the Yankees reunited with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and helped ring in the new Yankee Stadium by winning the clinching games of all three post-season series in 2009 as the team achieved its 27th championship. Last year, he was a Cy Young Award candidate for half the season before a groin injury cost him at least a dozen starts. Now he is the first of the “Core Four” to call it quits.
“Andy was a great teammate and a wonderful guy,” Rivera said. “He was a fighter and all about winning, and he was respected by every person in the clubhouse.”
“I’m really sad that Andy is going to retire,” Posada said.”He was so much more than a teammate to me; he was one of my closest friends. I admire everything that he has accomplished as a Yankee, but Andy was someone who always put the team first. I’m going to miss him deeply.”
Added Jeter: “It has been a pleasure to play with Andy for all these years, and the Yankees have been fortunate to have him representing the organization both on and off the field. More importantly, it has been an honor to get to know him as a person, and I consider him family. I wish for nothing but happiness for him and his family, as I know how important they are to him.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for Hall of Fame talk about Pettitte to sprout. Let’s give it the five-year wait before getting serious about that. Pettitte has a lot going for him – a won-loss record more than 100 games over .500 at 240-138, a post-season record 19 victories, and winning five rings in eight World Series overall. He also has some things going against him – allowing more hits than innings pitched, a rather high ERA (3.88) and three more dangerous capital letters, HGH, which he admitted to using after his name surfaced in the Mitchell Report.
His path to Cooperstown won’t be smooth. Over the next few years, the ballot will contain the names of starting pitchers superior to him in terms of statistics – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, even Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina.
“I’ve never considered myself a Hall of Famer,” Pettitte said. “I guess I’ve gotten close to having those kinds of credentials or guys wouldn’t be talking about it.”
The writers who do the voting will be talking about him for a while. But to Yankees fans, Pettitte will always be in their personal Halls of Fame for his competitiveness and remarkable consistency.
I realize I am in the minority here, but so what. I believe the Yankees caught a big break with Cliff Lee going to the Phillies.
OK, hear me out. It would have been terrific to have Cliff Lee paired with CC Sabathia to give the Yankees a 1-2 punch that would be something out of Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens or David Cone and Jimmy Key or Whitey Ford and Bob Turley or Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez. Yes, for 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and maybe 2014, it may have been a beautiful thing to watch Sabathia and Lee try to outdo each other with every start.
Then again, something could have gone wrong. Sabathia, after all, is coming off knee surgery. Lee is 32 years old, and that is no small thing when you consider the Yankees’ offer was for seven years for money believed guaranteed at $138 million.
Forget about the money for a minute and look at the term – a seven-year contract. That was what the Yankees gave Sabathia after the 2008 season (for 161 large) when the big guy was 28, four years younger than Lee is now. CC’s deal will take him to age 35, but Lee’s would have gone until he was 39. I am uncomfortable signing any pitcher any age to a seven-year contract, but a 32-year-old who had some back issues last year?
Everyone expected Lee to stay in Texas if he decided against coming to New York, but again, the Yankees caught a break. He went to the National League where he can be a major headache for the Mets. Speaking of the Mets; how is that seven-year contract they gave Johann Santana a few years back looking now?
It is now up to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to be creative in improving the rotation after being rejected by Lee. Cash is skillful enough an executive to do this. It could have been worse. Think of the Rangers having given up a major prospect in first baseman Justin Smoak to get Lee from the Mariners and having nothing now to show for it. The Yankees at least still have Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez.
/* Font Definitions */
panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4;
mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1107304683 0 0 159 0;}
panose-1:2 3 6 9 0 1 1 1 1 1;
mso-font-signature:-1342176593 1775729915 48 0 524447 0;}
panose-1:2 3 6 9 0 1 1 1 1 1;
mso-font-signature:-1342176593 1775729915 48 0 524447 0;}
/* Style Definitions */
p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal
font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";}
margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in;
–”Nobody’s perfect!” is the famous last line delivered by Joe E. Brown to Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 comedy, “Some Like It Hot.” But from now on, whenever I hear that phrase, I’ll think of Jim Joyce. He was the first base umpire Wednesday night in Detroit whose mistaken call on what should have been the final out cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
I have been thinking about Joyce ever since I watched the replay on a video screen in the Yankee Stadium press box of Galarraga stepping on the bag at first ahead of the Indians’ Jason Donald. Everybody’s reaction in the box was the same, to clap their hands or slap themselves in the head and yell, “No!” I can only imagine what the reaction at Comerica Park was as Tigers fans were prepared to celebrate the first perfect game ever pitched by a Tiger. A friend of mine there told me Thursday that people stayed at the park for about half an hour just hanging around in disbelief of what they just saw.
I enjoyed a few beers with Jim Joyce and another umpire, John Hirschbeck, in Boston one night after a Yankees-Red Sox game with my old friend, Joe Giuliotti of the Boston Herald. I don’t remember the year, but it was some time in the mid 1990s when Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key were Yankees teammates because they were sitting at a table not far from us.
Joyce entertained us with wonderful stories, and both umpires spoke passionately of their profession. I remember Boggs saying to me the next day at Fenway Park, “You and Joe were with two of the best in the business last night. Just don’t tell them I said that.”
Well, Boggsy, Jim Joyce needs to hear that today. His career of nearly a quarter of a century and among the finest of anyone in his trade has been reduced to one faulty decision. Think of the guts it took for him to go to Comerica Park Thursday and work the plate. The person who brought out the Detroit lineup card was none other than Galarraga, who has displayed more class the past two days than anyone could expect.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t want to “open a can of worms,” but he suggested that the powers that be in Major League Baseball look closely into the situation.
“You’re talking about a historical event,” Girardi said. “It doesn’t really change the outcome of the game. If it’s something that happens in the third inning and runs are scored, you’re talking about changing the whole game. [Wednesday] is probably as unique a situation as you can get with the last out.”
There is strong sentiment around the game for commissioner Bud Selig to reverse the call. But would doing that turn Galarraga’s performance into a perfect game? Everybody saw Donald stand on base and a 28th batter, Trevor Crowe, make the 27th out. How do you get rid of all that?
It is no more a perfect game than Ernie Shore’s famous “imperfect game” of 1917. He came into a game for the Red Sox against the Washington Senators after the starting pitcher, Babe Ruth, was ejected by umpire Brick Owens for arguing balls and strikes following a leadoff walk to Ray Morgan. With Shore on the mound, Morgan tried to steal second base and was thrown out. Shore set down the next 26 hitters in a 4-0 Boston victory, but Morgan’s reaching base kept the game from being perfect.
Yes, the “Pine Tar Game” decision by American League president Lee MacPhail in 1983 is a precedent that an umpire’s decision can be overturned. However, MacPhail’s ruling was based on what he called the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. That logic cannot be used in this case. What Joyce did was simply a blown call, one that was verified by video replays, which are not used in baseball except for home run disputes.
Here are a couple of things I don’t understand. Manager Jim Leyland and other members of the Tigers expressed outrage at the call, but Detroit did not file an official protest with MLB. Even stranger, why didn’t the other umpires caucus to ensure the right call was made? Granted, it was Joyce’s call, and he was right on top of the play, but surely one of the other umps had a decent view of it. At least talk it about it, guys.
You can argue all day about bringing instant replay into the game, but the fact remains that there are already in place avenues to explore in cases of dispute. I just do not see how you can make a perfect game of a game that was not perfect. As Seymour Siwoff, president of the Elias Sports Bureau, told me years ago, “You have to score what you see.”
What we all saw was unfortunate. It was a heart-breaking decision for Galarraga, who is frankly taking it a lot better than most people, and a devastating one for Joyce, who tearfully admitted his blown call to the pitcher. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter were among the Yankees players who called Joyce the best umpire in the game, a sentiment echoed by Girardi.
“I’ve known Jim Joyce a long time,” Girardi said. “He’s a very good umpire and works very hard at what he does. I feel bad for him today. That’s something you don’t really want your career marked by.”
I couldn’t agree more, but even Joyce knows that erasing what actually happened is impossible.