Results tagged ‘ John Sterling ’
So maybe you cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, or in the case of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones blow bubble gum and field at the same time. An error by Jones in the seventh inning Friday night on a ball he appeared to have caught was the critical play in the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over Baltimore that gave them a share of first place in the American League East with the Red Sox, who were rained out.
The three-run rally that resulted in the Yankees’ fourth straight victory was as weird as it can get. They did not have a hit in the inning. Orioles lefthander Troy Patton entered the game after starter Miguel Gonzalez walked Francisco Cervelli to start the inning. After Brett Gardner sacrificed Cervelli to second base, the Orioles decided to walk Kevin Youikilis, who had three hits, intentionally.
Somewhat surprisingly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi allowed lefty-swinging Travis Hafner to bat against Patton, who made a huge gaff by hitting the Yanks’ designated hitter with a 3-2 pitch that filled the bases and brought up Vernon Wells. O’s manager Buck Showalter brought in righthander Pedro Strop, a Yankees punching bag, to pitch to Vernon Wells. The Yanks’ left fielder got good wood on a drive to center. Jones, a Gold Glove winner last year, made a long run to the warning track to catch up with the ball blowing a bubble along the way. For a quick moment it seemed as if Jones had ended the threat, but the ball clanged off his glove for a two-base error that cleared the bags as the Yankees unlocked a 2-2 score.
This was the same Jones who in Game 3 of last year’s American League Division Series blew a bubble with his gum while tracking a drive to right-center by Derek Jeter that fell on the warning track for a run-scoring triple.
The good fortune continued for the Yankees the next inning with their second triple play since 1969. The Orioles got a rally going against CC Sabathia after leadoff singles by Alex Casilla and Nick Markakis. Manny Machado followed with a grounder to second baseman Robinson Cano, who flipped to shortstop Jayson Nix for what looked like the beginning of a double play. But why settle for two outs when you might get three?
Nix thought he had a shot at getting Casilla going to third and threw to that base instead of first. Casilla got in a rundown and was tagged out by Youkilis, the third baseman, who saw that Machado was midway between first and second and gunned the ball to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who ran Machado toward second and then tossed to Cano to complete the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple killing.
I ran into WCBS Radio voice John Sterling while leaving the yard later, and he told me in making the call on the play said, “Nix turns and throws to third base, why, I’ll never know.”
I must admit that I felt the same way. The Yankees had a sure double play, and you never know what can happen when a fielder throws behind a runner. Nix ended up making an alert play in spite of its unorthodoxy.
The previous triple play turned by the Yankees was April 22, 2010 at Oakland on an around-the-horn job from third baseman Alex Rodriguez to Cano to first baseman Nick Johnson on a ground ball by Kurt Suzuki. That game was a loss by the Yankees. This one might have been, too, except Baltimore did everything but hand it to them.
The Yankees took advantage of all the breaks the Orioles gave them. The players who scored the Yanks’ five runs all reached base without a hit. Orioles pitchers held the Yankees to six hits but walked six batters and hit two.
Sabathia, meanwhile, was brilliant under difficult situations with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees with a 25-miles-per-hour wind. One of the two runs off CC was not earned due to a balk, which the lefthander disputed. That second run for Baltimore that tied the score in the seventh loomed large until the bottom of the inning when Jones’ glove lost its glove and the Yankees tripled their pleasure.
The Yankees and WCBS-880AM radio reached agreement to extend their current radio broadcast agreement through the 2013 season.
The radio station, which provides nighttime coverage to more than 30 states, will carry all regular and postseason games as well as select spring training games. WCBS has been the team’s flagship station since 2002.
John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, who have called games together since 2005, are expected to return to the booth. Sterling has been the radio voice of the Yankees since 1989.
WCBS is owned and operated by CBS Radio, one of the largest major-market operators in the United States, reaching nearly 70 million over-the-air listeners on a weekly basis. CBS Radio operates 127 radio stations across 28 markets, including all of the Top 10.
I stopped in Sheppard’s Place, the media dining room behind the press box, to have breakfast Sunday with my pals Lee Mazzilli, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. At the table next to us were David Cone and David Wells, the former pitchers turned broadcasters.
Cone was at Yankee Stadium as part of the YES crew with Michael Kay and Paul O’Neill. Wells was here as Dick Stockton’s partner on the TBS telecast of the Yankees-Angels game. The two Davids, of course, pitched perfect games with the Yankees, Wells in 1998 against the Twins and Cone in 1999 against the old Expos (now the Nationals). Sterling broadcast them on the radio. Waldman was then covering for WFAN and I for the Hartford Courant.
O’Neill played right field in both those games. He also was the Reds’ right fielder in 1988 when Tom Browning pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers. Paulie is the only player in major-league history to have been on the winning side of three perfect games.
Also at the Stadium Sunday was the guy who was O’Neill’s opposite, the only player to have been on the losing side of three perfect games. Alfredo Griffin, the Angels’ first base coach, was a former shortstop who spent 18 seasons in the big leagues. He was the Dodgers’ shortstop in the Browning perfecto and also in the one the Expos’ Dennis Martinez pitched against Los Angeles in 1991. Griffin had been the shortstop for the Blue Jays in 1981 when the Indians’ Len Barker threw a perfect game against Toronto.
Another piece of trivia about that Browning perfect game: Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers, broadcast 19 no-hitters in his legendary career. It would have been an even 20, but he was not with the Dodgers for the Browning game because he was covering another game that night on assignment for NBC when it did national coverage Saturday afternoons and Monday nights.
How perfect is all that?
The Yankees, who played Tampa Bay for the first time on July 4, entered play Wednesday with a 28-28 record on Independence Day in the expansion era (since 1961). The Yankees had lost their past three road games on the Fourth of July and seven of the past nine.
They played on the road on the Fourth of July for the second straight year, the first time they have done that in consecutive seasons since 1996 and ‘97. The Yankees will not play at home on Memorial Day (May 28), July 4 or Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the same season for the first time since 2006.
The Yankees have posted winning records in the month of July in each of the past 19 seasons (1993-2011). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marks the longest winning stretch of Julys in major league history. The previous record was 15, held by the Pirates from 1899 to 1913.
Elias also reported that Derek Jeter became only the third major league player in the past 80 years to get his 100th hit of a season before the Fourth of July, in his age group (38 or older) on that date of the year. The others were Paul Molitor with 110 hits at age 39 for the Twins in 1996 and Pete Rose with 100 hits at age 38 for the Phillies in 1979.
The Yankees have long been associated with the Fourth of July. Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech July 4, 1939 at Yankee Stadium. Other major events in Yankees history on the Fourth of July were Mickey Mantle’s 300th career home run in 1962, Dave Righetti’s no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1983 and Phil Niekro’s 3,000th career strikeout in 1984. Independence Day was also the birthday of former owner George Steinbrenner and current radio voice John Sterling.
It isn’t every night that an opposing player at Yankee Stadium gets cheered as he rounds the bases on a home run. That rarity was experienced in the second inning Friday night when Jason Giambi drove a 2-0 fastball from A.J. Burnett into the right field bleachers to tie the score for the Rockies.
Giambi, who is getting the opportunity to be in the lineup regularly during inter-league play as Colorado’s designated hitter, once heard cheers on a regular basis in the Bronx in an often productive but also occasionally tumultuous eight seasons with the Yankees during which he hit 209 of his 423 career home runs, plus another six in post-season play, including one in the 2003 World Series.
“The Giambino,” as WCBS radio voice John Sterling calls him, was even accorded a shout-out from the bleacher creatures in the first inning after they went through the Yankees’ lineup, which he acknowledged with a wave from the third base dugout.
“You’ve got to play hard, and they appreciate that,” Giambi said before the game of Yankees fans. “Even when they’re hard on you and you hit a home run in the next at-bat, you get a standing ‘O.’ They’re incredible. They are as passionate as they possibly can be as fans.”
Frankly, after his last season with the Yankees in 2008, Giambi seemed to be finished as a major-league player. He returned to Oakland where he had won an American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2000 but was released in August 2009 after batting only .193 in 83 games. Giambi latched on with the Rockies and has been a useful pinch hitter the past three seasons.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted before the game that “Colorado may be best equipped of any National League team for inter-league play,” because of Giambi, who had 4-for-12 (.333) with a home run and three RBI in a three-game series at Cleveland.
Giambi has started 14 of the Rockies’ 75 games and on occasion has looked like his old self, no more so than May 19 at Philadelphia when he hit three home runs in a game. At 40, he became the second oldest player to homer three times in the same game. Hall of Famer Stan Musial was 41 when he hit three home runs July 8, 1962 against the Mets at the old Polo Grounds. I was in the stands for that one as a teenager. The Man’s third bomb that day cleared the right field roof.
Playing again before a Stadium crowd clearly was a joyous occasion for Giambi.
“It’s what you dream about as a kid,” he said. “To get a chance to put the pinstripes on, there’s nothing better on this planet. It challenges you in every possible way as a ballplayer. It’s a tough town, but at the same time, to play on the same field as [Mickey] Mantle, [Roger] Maris, [Joe] DiMaggio, [Babe] Ruth and [Lou] Gehrig and to know those guys wore the same uniform, it’s pretty special. My dad’s favorite player was Mickey Mantle, so I knew a lot about the Yankees as a kid. To have that opportunity to play was something special.”
As the Yankees went into a four-game series against the hated Red Sox Friday night, I couldn’t help thinking about what Boston did in the 2004 post-season. Down 3-0 in the American League Championship Series, they followed their manager’s mantra of winning the next night’s game. Don’t think about anything else, Terry Francona told his players, but that night’s game.
The Red Sox did this, of course, for eight straight games, knocking off the Yankees and then sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series for their first championship since Babe Ruth was in their rotation. That always stayed with me about Francona, who is probably the best manager never to win a Manager of the Year Award. The stakes aren’t so high in this series, but dire consequences could set in if the Yankees push Boston around.
“We’re at a point of the season where every game is meaningful,” Francona said. “We have to embrace the challenge rather than whine about it.”
Boston is pretty beat up. The Red Sox have been without 2008 Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia for a month and just lost first baseman Kevin Youkilis, the team’s spine, for the rest of the season. The Sox came to Yankee Stadium in third place trailing the Yankees by six games. After Friday night’s 6-3 victory, Boston is five games behind the Yankees. Francona is back to one game after the next.
The Sox lineup had some unfamiliar faces, none more so than left fielder Ryan Kalish. The recent callup has been tearing it up, batting .471 entering the game. WCBS radio’s Suzyn Waldman made him the subject of her pre-game interview and went on at length about him over dinner with Lee Mazzilli, John Sterling and me. She mentioned that Kalish grew up in Red Bank, N.J., and had left six passes for friends and relatives. He said he was too embarrassed to ask for more.
Kalish struck out in his first two at-bats, but he gave his people in the sellout crowd of 49,555, the largest gate at the Stadium this year, a moment to remember with his first major-league home run, a two-run shot in the sixth off Javier Vazquez, who had a rough outing and lost for the first time in six starts since June 30.
Vazquez, who was skipped over in the rotation twice earlier in the season to avoid pitching against the Red Sox, gave up a first-inning home run to David Ortiz, which was trumped by Mark Teixeira’s two-run blow in the bottom of the first. It marked the fourth straight game in which the Yankees had a two-run homer in the opening frame, but they have lost three of those games.
A player who scored ahead of the homer hitter in each of those games was Derek Jeter, whose first-inning single tied him with the Babe on the career hit list with 2,873. Unlike Jeter, not all of Ruth’s hits were with the Yankees. Jeter had the most impressive at-bat of the game, with two out and nobody on in the ninth. He outdueled Red Sox closer Jonathan Paplebon for 12 pitches, including six straight fouls on two-strike pitches, before drawing a walk. It went for naught.
The Red Sox are playing for relevance, trying to get back into the AL East mix with the Yankees and Rays. The Yanks maintained their half-game lead in the division over Tampa, which lost at Toronto. Vazquez and his catcher helped the Red Sox in the second inning when Boston scored three unearned runs to regain the lead. One out after a leadoff double to Adrian Beltre, Cervelli dropped a popup by Mike Lowell, who sauntered up the line and was lucky the ball fell far enough away from Cervelli to get to first base safely.
Vazquez was on the verge of working out of trouble as he struck out Kalish, who swung at a ball around his ears for strike three. Vazquez then did the unthinkable, walking 9-hole hitter Jed Lowrie to load the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury walked as well, forcing in a run, before Marco Scutaro doubled in two more runs.
Okay, so it wasn’t like giving up that grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, but it was a chance to put the Red Sox away wasted.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was a strange Old Timers’ Day Saturday at Yankee Stadium, and I had to agree with him except for different reasons.
“Obviously, two great Yankees are missing, so it will feel different,” Girardi said.
When I think of Old Timers’ Day, George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard do not come to mind. I do not recall the Boss being a central figure on that day, apart from the 1978 stunner when Billy Martin was announced as the future Yankees manager for 1980 not long after he had been fired.
Other than that, it seemed to be one day he stepped back and let the players of a bygone era have another day in the sun. Sheppard used to do the same as the Old Timers’ introductions were done on the field, for many years by Mel Allen and Frank Messer and more recently John Sterling and Michael Kay, who handled the duty again Saturday with Bob Wolff and Keith Olbermann providing comment on the exhibition game.
The ceremony Saturday, however, incorporated both Yankees icons who died last week. The Steinbrenner family was not present because they were attending a private service for the patriarch back home in Tampa, Fla. The day had a touch of elegance with the introduction of Mary Sheppard, Bob’s widow, among the celebrities.
Also absent from the proceedings was Yogi Berra, who took a tumble down the front steps of his home in Montclair, N.J., and could not participate. He broke no bones but suffered a nasty gash on his nose and some other bruises. “He appreciates all the well wishes and hopes to be up and about very soon,” was the statement from the Berra family.
Reggie Jackson, another Hall of Famer, almost didn’t come, either, but thankfully, he changed his mind.
“I’d rather not be here today,” Reggie said. “I’d rather pass. People in the leadership of the club thought I should be here.”
Yankees president Randy Levine urged Reggie to attend, and Mr. October put the day in perspective. Jackson knew both men well. His relationship with Sheppard was always cordial.
“Bob Sheppard was John Wooden-like just as John Wooden was Bob Sheppard-like in that you not only felt better when they were around but they had a similar concern for their fellow man, their family and their God,” Jackson said. “Bob worked with me on my Hall of Fame acceptance speech. He also told me on the day I received my [Monument Park] plaque that I could not keep my speech under two minutes. We made a 25-cent bet. I did the speech in 1 minute, 48 seconds, and Bob paid me the quarter. He was that voice in the sky. If they did make a movie about God and needed someone to do his voice, it would have to be Bob Sheppard.
Reggie’s relationship with Steinbrenner was to say the least complicated. They feuded a great deal during Jackson’s five seasons with the Yankees but developed a bond over the past 15 years that was severed so suddenly last week.
Recalling those “Bronx Zoo” years when George and Billy and Reggie provided more soap operas than a year’s worth of daytime television, Graig Nettles recalled, “I said, ‘Every boy wants to run away to the circus, and every boy wants to play major league baseball. With the Yankees, you can do both.’ George didn’t like that at the time. Each one wanted to be the boss and get all the attention. The writers would go past us to talk to George and Billy, but Reggie would trip some of them so they’d talk to him. That kept the rest of us out of the headlines. George put together the kind of team that could handle the chaos. Some later teams couldn’t handle it.”
“It was pretty tough when I heard about it,” Reggie said of Steinbrenner’s death. “I had just talked to him on his birthday [July 4]. It was a wonderful conversation. He was always positive. I knew his health wasn’t the same and the strength wasn’t there, but there was good conversation. So when I heard the news I just got caught off guard. I just got quiet for a couple of days.”
I tried to track Reggie down the day of the All-Star Game. I knew he was around somewhere. Frankly, he usually draws attention to himself at these events, but he was nowhere to be found.
“At the All-Star Game, I was supposed to be in the red carpet parade and on the field for some interviews,” he said. “I sat and watched the game for a few innings with [Angels owner] Arte Moreno and then with the commissioner. I didn’t want to say anything then because I could not have held it together very well.”
Jackson had trouble keeping his composure Saturday as well. He swelled up several times in talking about the Boss.
“He meant so much to so many people,” Reggie said. “His drive and desire to win brought the penultimate to the organization, the city of New York and the game of baseball. All his efforts were focused on winning regardless of the cost. Players see the difference in being a Yankee. Coming to New York, I had the career and success I did because of all the great players around me.
“How else could a .260 hitter [.263 actually] with more than 2,500 strikeouts [2,597] do some of the things I did. It was because of the way this ballclub was put together by Mr. Steinbrenner. We may have sprayed the ball around the fairway a lot, but we were putting it in the cup. If he said it once he said it a hundred times that letting me go was the biggest mistake he made. There are players who are tied with owners, and I am proud to be tied to him.”