Results tagged ‘ Most Valuable Player ’
Former Yankees outfielder and designated hitter Hideki Matsui joined some elite company in his home land Sunday when he received the People’s Honor Award from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Tokyo Dome. Matsui was honored alongside former Yomiuri Giants manager Shigeo Nagashima for the award that is given to those who have made significant achievements in their careers and are beloved by the public.
“I played for excellent teams, with excellent teammates, for excellent managers in front of excellent fans,” Matsui said. “I did my best to lift up, even a little bit, the game of baseball that is so beloved by the people of Japan.”
Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh, the first recipient of the award when it was created in 1977 by the late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, attended the ceremony. Others previously honored included the acclaimed film director Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon and Seven Samurai) and the Japanese women’s national soccer team that won the World Cup in 2011.
Matusi, who earned the nickname “Godzilla” for his home run prowess in Japan, played for 10 seasons in the major leagues, the first seven with the Yankees for whom he starred on the 2009 championship team and was Most Valuable Player of the World Series for batting .615 with three home runs and eight RBI in 13 at-bats. Matsui hit .292 with 140 home runs and had four 100-plus RBI seasons with the Yankees before playing one season each for the Angels, Athletics and Rays.
Former Yankees outfielder and designated hitter Don Baylor, now the hitting coach for the Diamondbacks, was not at the series finale Thursday night at Yankee Stadium because he was in Denver to be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in a banquet at the Denver Marriott City Center.
Stan Williams, who pitched for the Yankees and served them as a pitching coach, was also part of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 along with Steve Atwater (football), Adam Foote (hockey), Don Cockroft (football) and Steve Jones (golf).
Baylor, 63, was named the first manager in Rockies history Oct. 27, 1992 and posted a 440-469 (.484) record over six seasons. In 1995, he earned National League Manager of the Year honors from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America after leading Colorado to its first postseason berth in franchise history as the NL wild card.
Baylor spent three seasons (1983-85) with the Yankees during a 19-year career in the majors that included an American League Most Valuable Player performance in 1979 with the Angels.
The Yankees caught a break in the first inning Thursday night in cutting down a runner at the plate despite some lack of hustle on the play. The Red Sox had runners on first and second with two out and Jonny Gomes at bat against Andy Pettitte. The lefthander threw a wild pitch past catcher Francisco Cervelli, who retrieved the ball near the stands behind the plate but was a bit lackadaisical in picking it up.
Pettitte walked toward the plate but did not rush in to cover. Shane Victorino, who had been on second base, advanced to third but seeing the Yankees’ battery moving in slow motion decided not to stop there and bolted for the plate. Fortunately, Cervelli saw this and got back in gear. The catcher ran toward the plate and flung his body forward like a linebacker to place the tag on Victorino, who did the Yankees a favor by sliding in hands first instead of feet first. It might have been a different outcome had Victorino utilized the traditional slide.
The Yankees got their first lead of the season in the second inning on a two-out, two-run single by Lyle Overbay. It followed a rulebook double by Eduardo Nunez to right-center. Nunez lost his helmet while running to second base. I wonder if we will see more of that this year now that players are wearing larger but lighter-weight helmets.
Pettitte atoned for his hesitant play earlier with snappy fielding in the third. He handled two pepper shots adroitly, converting one into a double play.
Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported that former American League Most Valuable Player Vlad Guerrero had signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Guerrero, 38, was the Orioles’ designated hitter in 2011, his last year in the majors, and hit .290 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI, but became a free agent and did not play in 2012. He won the MVP Award in 2004 with the Angels.
Could it be that Guerrero is trying to attract interest from the New York clubs? The Mets have need for outfielders, but Vlad has played only three games in the outfield since 2009. He might be hoping the Yankees might feel the need for a right-handed DH if Ben Francisco does not pan out.
Hours before the Presidential debate at Hofstra, Yankees fans had plenty to debate about the team’s lineup for American League Championship Series Game 3 at Detroit’s Comerica Park. No Alex Rodriguez. No Nick Swisher. Eduardo Nunez is playing shortstop. Where do we begin?
Well, the starting point is that the Yankees are down 0-2 in the series with no Derek Jeter, the next three games (they hope; it could be only two) in the other club’s yard and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner on the mound Tuesday night. How’s that for backs against the wall?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided that the lack of production from A-Rod and Swish in the postseason needed to be replaced by something different. Brett Gardner, who has had three at-bats since April, was inserted in left field and the leadoff spot with Ichiro Suzuki moving to right field and batting second.
Gardner joins Ichiro and Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees their swiftest outfield, which is important at spacious Comerica and a fly-ball pitcher, Phil Hughes, starting for them. Despite hitting two home runs during the regular season off Verlander, Rodriguez has been struggling big-time right-handing pitching in the postseason, which has resulted in Girardi lifting him for pinch hitters twice and benching him in the final game of the AL Division Series.
Using Eric Chavez at third base allows Girardi to get another left-handed batter, Raul Ibanez, the postseason batting star for the Yankees, in the lineup as the designated hitter. Nunez at short is definitely a gamble. He is a liability on defense, but the Yankees need a boost in offense (they were held scoreless in 21 of 22 innings in the first two games).
Let’s face it; the whole lineup is a gamble. When you are in the situation the Yankees are, rolling the dice is all that is left.
Joe Girardi, who certainly did not have a good time on his 48th birthday, was understandably upset with the second straight bad call by a umpire on the bases Sunday night. The problem with much of his argument in the case of ALCS Game 2 was that the Yankees did not score at all. The two runs the Tigers scored after the missed call in the eighth inning surely hurt, but they did not cost the Yankees the game. No team can win a game, zero to minus-one.
The Yankees fell behind 0-2 in the ALCS with a 3-0 loss, which was not the scenario they would want heading into Game 3 Tuesday night at Detroit against Justin Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner and a Cy Young Award candidate in 2012 as well.
The Yanks need a big game from Phil Hughes like the strong effort he gave them in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Orioles to get back into this series. That will not be enough, however. The Yankees have gotten above-average work from their starting pitchers during the postseason. Hiroki Kuroda was the latest example Sunday. He flirted with a perfect game for five innings, and those two runs in the eighth that were charged to his record were definitely tainted.
Yankees starters in the seven postseason games have pitched to a 2.33 ERA in 54 innings, but their record is a combined 2-2 with three no-decisions, due primarily to scant run support. The Yankees have scored 11 runs from the ninth inning on in postseason play but only nine runs in innings one through eight. They have been shut out in the first eight innings of both games in the ALCS and were flat-out shut out in Game 2.
It was not the sort of game the Yankees wanted the day after losing their captain, Derek Jeter, for the rest of the year to an ankle injury. Jayson Nix did a nice job in the field at shortstop but was 0-for-3 at the plate. I am not singling him out by any means. If the Yankees need Jayson Nix to save their season, they are in more trouble than they think they are.
Robinson Cano, who was at the center of the two baseline calls the past two games at Yankee Stadium, had his hitless streak reach 26 at-bats, the longest in postseason history, and only five of those outs have gone to the outfield. In Game 1, Cano was called out on a rally-killing double play in the second inning when replays indicated he beat the throw.
With the margin of error so miniscule, plays such as the one in the eighth inning Sunday become magnified, to the point that a manager got himself ejected. Kuroda got the first two outs on strikeouts before Omar Infante singled to center. Austin Jackson followed with a single to right. Nick Swisher, detecting that Infante had made a wide turn around second but had changed his mind about going to third, threw behind the runner. Second base umpire Jeff Nelson ruled that Infante was safe getting back to second, but replays clearly showed that Cano had tagged Infante near his chest before he touched the bag. The Tigers added tag-on runs with singles by rookie Avisail Garcia off Boone Logan and Triple Crown champ Miguel Cabrera off Joba Chamberlain.
“I don’t have a problem with Jeff’s effort because he hustled to get to the play,” Girardi said. “But in this day and age when we have instant replay available to us, it has got to change. These guys are under tremendous amounts of pressure. It is a tough call for him because the tag is underneath and it’s hard for him to see. And it takes more time to argue and get upset than you get the call right. Too much is at stake. We play 235 days to get to this point, and two calls go against us. We lose it by one run [Saturday] night.
“I’m not saying if Robby Cano is safe, that it changes the game. The outcome may be the same, but I like to take my chances. There is more pressure on the pitchers when it is 1 0 in the eighth inning and your club is hitting than 3 0. It’s a lot easier for a reliever to relax. He knows if he makes one mistake, it is still 3 1. The technology is available. That’s what our country has done. We have evolved technology to make things better.”
All right, the argument about using instant replay more often should be continued, and the issue should be taken seriously. What the Yankees need now more than instant replay is to get some clutch hits or they can forget reaching the World Series.
“We have to make some adjustments,” Girardi said. “We have to take what they give us and find a way to put balls in play when runners are on, and get runners in, and get them over, and do the things that you need to do to score runs.”
Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Staring at a possible postseason elimination game Friday at Yankee Stadium in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles, Yankees manager Joe Girardi constructed a lineup without Alex Rodriguez. The die was cast in the previous two games when Girardi lifted Rodriguez in the late innings for pinch hitters Raul Ibanez in Game 3 and Eric Chavez in Game 4. For Game 5, A-Rod will be one of Girardi’s potential pinch hitters.
There is no getting around the fact that this is a major comedown for someone who won three American League Most Valuable Player Awards and is among the career leaders in home runs (fifth with 647), RBI (seventh with 1,950), extra-base hits (ninth with 1,189), total bases (ninth with 5,414) and runs scored (10th with 1,898).
This is hardly unprecedented in Yankees history. In Game 5 of the 1996 World Series at Atlanta, then Yankees manager Joe Torre had right-handed batting Cecil Fielder at first base and Charlie Hayes at third base against right-handed pitcher John Smoltz, over left-swinging Tino Martinez and Wade Boggs, respectively. The move paid off as Fielder had three hits and drove in the only run of the game as the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the Series that they won in Game 6 back home.
As affectionately as Yankees fans feel about Martinez and fully acknowledging that Boggs was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, neither player was of the stature of Rodriguez. Girardi is managing the A-Rod of today, however, and not the one who won MVP Awards in pinstripes in 2005 and 2007 or the one who was a postseason star when the Yankees last won a World Series three years ago.
The reality of the 2012 ALDS is that Rodriguez has 2-for-16 (.125) with nine strikeouts. All of the Ks are against right-handed pitching, against whom A-Rod is hitless in 11 at-bats. So it can hardly have come as a surprise to anyone that such a decision was made. That said, A-Rod is not the only culprit in this series.
Curtis Granderson (.063, nine strikeouts), Nick Swisher (.133) and Robinson Cano (.111) have not lit up the skies, either.
The Yankees’ Game 4 loss also hurt in that with a Game 5 of the ALDS they have to use CC Sabathia and not have him ready to start Game 1 of the ALCS if they had won Thursday night. If the Yankees should win Game 5, they would not be able to use Sabathia in the ALCS until Game 3 Tuesday night at Detroit against Justin Verlander, who would be starting on regular rest while CC would be on short rest.
An umpire’s staggeringly errant call notwithstanding, the Yankees got out of Baltimore still in sole possession of first place in the American League East. They suffered no hangover from the blunder by Jerry Meals Saturday night and turned the page emphatically with an old-fashioned blowout Sunday to move back into first by a game over the Orioles.
The 13-3 victory was an ensemble effort with contributions galore. Manager Joe Girardi steered the team as if it were a playoff game. When a 5-0 lead became 5-3 in the third, Girardi did not hesitate to remove a shaky Freddy Garcia. The bullpen was masterful as four relievers combined for 5 2/3 innings of shutout, one-hit, two-walk, nine-strikeout work.
Joba Chamberlain may have finally shaken off the dust of his recovery from Tommy John surgery and an ankle injury by striking out four of the six batters he faced and was deserving of the winning decision, his first. Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Derek Lowe followed suit as the slugging Orioles had only four hits, none of them home runs. The Bird had a dozen dingers in the previous three games of the series.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the victory was the re-emergence of Curtis Granderson as an offensive force. Mired in a 5-for-43 (.116) slump and with only two hits in 18 at-bats (.111) on the trip previously, Granderson was benched against a left-handed starter for the second game in a row. He came off the bench as a pinch hitter and hit reliever Jake Arrieta’s first pitch for his 35th home run.
That blow came when the score was still tight and began the tack-on attack the Yankees kept up with seven runs over the next two innings. Granderson had a hand in both rallies with a two-run single in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth in taking over the club lead in RBI with 86.
Robinson Cano reached base in all five of his plate appearances and scored three runs. Alex Rodriguez, who singled, walked and was hit by a pitch, also touched the plate three times. Ichiro Suzuki had two hits and an RBI and played all three outfield positions. Russell Martin continued his hot trip with two hits and an RBI. He is batting .476 with one double, two homers and eight RBI in 21 at-bats on the trip which continues after Monday’s open date Tuesday night at Boston.
With a double, his 15th home run and three RBI, Jeter enjoyed his 58th multi-hit game despite playing (as the designated hitter) with a nagging right ankle that has been noticeable the past several days. You know what is said in May when a player has a condition like that. “If this was September, he’d play.” Well, it is September. Jeter is playing.
Is he ever? The Captain is entering the conversation for the AL batting race. DJ leads the majors with 191 hits and is well within range of his eighth 200-hit season. His batting average is up to .324. The only players ahead of him with 22 games to play are Angels center fielder Mike Trout (.328) and Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (.326), both of whom are also strong candidates for the Most Valuable Player Award. Jeter might find himself in that conversation, too.
The Yankees not only split the four-game set at Camden Yards but also the season series with Baltimore at 9-9. They have to keep it up against the Red Sox. If the Yankees and Orioles are tied atop the division at the end of the regular season, the tiebreaker will be divisional record. The Yankees are 29-25 against AL East teams while the O’s are 32-24. So there is still plenty of work to do.
During a conference call this week to talk about the All-Star Game voting for the July 10 event at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and former National League Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz commented on Derek Jeter’s runaway lead for the American League shortstop starting berth.
Ripken will be featured with former Yankees pitcher David Wells and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on TBS’ All-Star Game Selection show at 1 p.m. Sunday when the All-Star squads will be announced. Smoltz will team with Brian Anderson on TBS’ coverage of that day’s game between the Yankees and White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Jeter, who turned 38 this week, has received more than four million votes going into the All-Star balloting, which ends at midnight, topped only by the leading total of Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton. Ripken was 40 when he made his last All-Star Game appearance in his final season of 2001 at Safeco Field in Seattle where he homered and was named Most Valuable Player.
“When you get up in age, you’re scrutinized at a higher level,” Ripken said. “You can’t be [an All-Star] just on reputation. You have to go out there and still play the game. When we look at players now, you compare Derek Jeter with a younger Derek Jeter. When we start comparing players to themselves, it’s unfair. All the talk last year about [Jeter] losing a step, not being there defensively and losing some power offensively, I’m sure he internalized that and worked harder in the offseason. He’s a fantastic player and has been for a long time.”
“I’m a big believer that age is just a number and sometimes we get carried away with guys not having success later in their careers,” Smoltz said. “He plays in a great place and he knows how to play the game. The Yankees are being rewarded with a player who has a lot of pride and does not rest on his laurels with the career that he has had.”
As successful as he has been in his career against the Mets, Derek Jeter might be expected to prefer playing them more than less. What is even weirder is that Jeter would rather not play them during the regular season at all. The World Series? Well, that’s all well and good to the Captain, but he made it clear Friday night before the 16th version of the Subway Series that he is not a fan of inter-league play.
“I’d rather not play the National League teams during the season,” Jeter said. “When I came up, you didn’t play the other league until you got to the World Series. I understand that [inter-league play] is great for the fans, but I kind of like it the other way.”
If not for inter-league play, however, DJ wouldn’t have such gaudy numbers against the Mets or the rest of the NL for that matter. After all, Jeter entered Friday night’s game with the most hits (328) and runs (185) of any player in inter-league competition.
Against the Mets specifically, Jeter is a .381 hitter in 320 at-bats, the highest average by a player with a minimum of 150 at-bats against them (second at .380 in 300 at-bats is Rico Carty). And that does not include what Jeter did against the Mets in their only real Subway Series, the 2000 World Series when the shortstop hit .409 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, two RBI and six runs and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Series.
Jeter took a 25-game home hitting streak against the Mets into the game, dating to June 28, 2003 with 26 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 15 RBI and six walks while batting .481 in 106 at-bats. DJ was also a career .455 hitter in 33 at-bats against Johan “No-Hit” Santana.
Attendance figures this weekend at the Stadium and two weeks from now at Citi Field will likely confirm that the Subway Series is popular with New York’s baseball fans. However, the glow has disappeared for many of the participants. When inter-league play began in 1997, the Yankees and Mets played three games at Yankee Stadium. In 1998, they had a three-game series at Shea Stadium. Since 1999, they have played six games against each other, three in the Bronx and three in Flushing. A feeling within both clubhouses is that two series a year is one too many.
There have been discussions already about the schedule in 2013 when the Astros will move from the NL Central to the American League West that will make it more balanced. The geographical rivalries will remain but to become more balanced one series rather than two would better serve that purpose.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has talked a lot recently about a more balanced schedule. It bothers him that teams fighting for the same prize may not have the same opponents for a significant number of games. For example, this year the Yankees’ inter-league opponents – Reds, Mets, Braves, Nationals – features two current division leaders (Cincinnati and Washington) and have a combined winning percentage of .562 (127-99), the highest for any AL team. The Yanks’ inter-league schedule is so bizarre this season that they play two NL East teams, the Mets and the Braves, in two series but do not play the Phillies or Marlins at all.
Girardi and his Mets counterpart, Terry Collins, both said they would prefer the annual Subway Series be a three-game rather than a six-game series.
“That way there would be a sure winner of the series every year,” Girardi said.
“You know the Yankees are going to have a strong lineup every year,” Collins said, “so three instead of six games is fine with me.”
But all that is at least a year away, indeed if there is a change. For now, the Subway Series is a home-and-away affair.
“I know the fans love it,” Jeter said. “You can feel their intensity. There’s a lot of energy in the stadium. It’s similar to when we play Boston.”
The New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America, which is located on the Main Level of Yankee Stadium near Gate 6, has opened a new exhibit this homestand entitled, “Mickey Mantle: The Life and Legacy of a Baseball Hero.” It includes a selection of artifacts borrowed from the Mantle family and private collectors, some of which are being put on display for the first time.
Featured artifacts include:
• Mantle’s first Yankees contract, signed when he joined the organization in 1949.
• His 1956 American League Most Valuable Player Award and Hickok Belt Award.
• Game-worn jerseys from 1959 and 1961, along with a jersey and pants set from 1968.
• His outfielder’s glove from his third MVP season of 1962.
• His bat used in the 1964 World Series to hit his final postseason home run, off Cardinals lefthander Curt Simmons in Game 6 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
• Baseball cards from each of his 18 seasons, including his 1951 Bowman rookie card and 1952 Topps card.
Mantle remains one of the most popular players in baseball history, let alone among Yankees fans. A powerful switch-hitter, the “Commerce Comet” batted .298 with 536 home runs over an 18-season career from 1951-68 played entirely with the Yankees. His clubs won seven World Series (1951-53, ’56, ’58, ’61-62) and appeared in the Fall Classic 12 times (also 1955, ’57, ’60, ’63-64). His 18 home runs are the most in World Series play.
Mickey’s uniform No. 7 was retired by the Yankees in 1969. It remains the only No. 7 retired by a major league baseball team (although the Rangers are strongly considering retiring the same number for recently retired catcher Ivan Rodriguez). Mantle was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974 and inducted that year with long-time teammate Whitey Ford.
The Mantle exhibit is the second new installation to open this season at the New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America, joining “Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig: Baseball’s Hardest-Hitting Teammates.” The Ruth and Gehrig exhibit includes the bat used by Ruth to hit Yankee Stadium’s first home run April 18, 1923, a ticket stub from the game featuring Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech July 4, 1939 and game-worn Yankees caps and jerseys from Ruth and Gehrig.
Artifacts from the Ruth and Gehrig exhibit are borrowed from the private collections of Marshall Fogel and Dr. Richard C. Angrist, with all photos coming from the Fogel collection. Guests can enjoy the New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America on game days from the time the gates open until the end of the eighth inning. On non-game days, visitors can experience the museum as part of Yankee Stadium tours.
The Mantle exhibit, as well as the Ruth/Gehrig exhibit, will remain on display in the New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America through the end of the 2013 season.