An Amazin climb to .500 for the Mets

    Saturday, May 21, 2011, 2:38 AM [General]

    A common conversation topic heard through various portions of Yankee Stadium last night probably went something like this:

    "The Mets have these no-name guys from Buffalo, how can they beat the Yankees. The Yankees are better than the Mets."

    For two hours, 55 minutes that topic was occasionally discussed. It was mentioned as the Mets opened the Subway Series by getting performances from three players who a year ago were not really key components.

    Player number one is R.A. Dickey, who made his first Met start May 19, 2010 and won 11 games to earn a two-year contract. Dickey had not had much on his knuckleball this year as he struggled with that pitch for five straight defeats but last night he found a way to confound the Yankee bats.

    "You've just got to fight through those little bumps in the road," Dickey said. "That was a big enough bump for me. I'm ready for the downhill. I'm ready for the descent."

    Also ready was Justin Turner, who a year ago was a minor leaguer, something he also was until a month ago. Then the original second base plans didn't work and Turner was up. Then the third baseman (David Wright) was put on the DL and Turner was moved from second to third.

    Wherever he has played Turner has thrived so far. By going 3-for-4 (and being robbed of a fourth hit by Mark Teixeira's range), Turner has a hit in nine of his last 10 games and 11 RBI during a six-game run with at least one RBI and getting consistently surrounded by media after games.

    "I don't mind it," Turner said of all the attention.

    Another player getting attention for various reasons is Daniel Murphy. Murphy arrived three summers ago in Houston and played decently in the outfield while being known for seeing a lot of pitches.

    The following year, he struggled in left field, then moved to first base. He led the Mets in home runs but then injured himself last year. After losing a four-man battle for the starting second base spot, Murphy made the team as a reserve but eventually made the starting lineup and now is playing first base until Ike Davis returns.

    Why the focus on these three?

    Simple, because that trio made the biggest contributions to the Mets reaching a place many thought to be impossible a month ago. That place would be the .500 mark, which is where Terry Collins' team presently sits.

    With a veteran knuckleballer pitching six innings, a 26-year-old who seemed destined to be in the minors for a while driving in one run and a player who freqently changed positions hitting a home run, the Mets opened the Subway Series with a well-played victory.

    Those well-played victories are something the Mets have enjoyed often in the last month. A month ago they woke up with 13 losses in their first 18 games but since that point, which began with a six-game winning streak they have won 17 of 26 games.

    "We've taken on the characteristics of our manager," Murphy said. "We play the game hard every day."

    That also applied to Jose Reyes, who made a diving stop on an Alex Rodriguez grounder to end the fifth inning. That also applied to Francisco Rodriguez, who seamlessly converted his 15th consecutive save opportunity.

    "People have always told me there's an underlying pulse about what bad thing will happen next to the Mets or that we have a bad vibe...but I sure don't see it."

    With the Mets, the outside world seems to sense the other shoe of negativity dropping at any time. It certainly might surface at some point this season, but right now the Mets are content to ride the wave and see where it leads.

    That was among the things said by Dickey and based on the series opener, it's difficult to disagree.

    "I don't know what to tell you," Collins said of his team that has six guys who opened the season in the minors. "You've got to be proud of the guys, the way they've played together."

    And if they can continue playing together, perhaps the summer will be interesting for fans of both New York teams.

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    Items of Amazin Interest - with Ed Coleman

    Friday, May 20, 2011, 5:59 PM [General]

    ´╗┐Today is May 20 and four years ago, Tyler Clippard was helping save the Yankees from the depths of a poor start. That night with the Mets looking for their second sweep of the Yankees (the other was July 2004), Clippard allowed one run and three hits in six innings of a 6-2 win.

    The Yankees slowly healed from the slow start, though they didn’t go over .500 for good until after the All-Star break and by then Clippard had pitched his last game in pinstripes.

    The Yankees are over .500 now and have slowly healed from that ugly six-game losing streak by scoring 13 runs, winning in 15 innings and getting two solo home runs from Alex Rodriguez.

    All of those events occurred in the last three nights for the Yankees, while the Mets continued recovering from the state they found themselves in a month ago. A month ago, a second home loss to the Astros dropped the Mets to 5-13 and it seemed like they were destined to become an embarrassment.

    Except it didn’t happen because the Mets won the next night and the start of a six-game winning streak is part of a run of 25 games that has seen a 16-9 record coming into tonight.

    The Mets are playing a Subway Series under their fifth manager and fifth general manager.

    This year’s edition has a new administration in GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, who have shown a willingness to fix problems quickly when they occur and this edition is one game under .500 despite placing David Wright and Ike Davis on the DL within the last two weeks.

    To gather the feel of the Mets, I spoke briefly with WFAN broadcaster Ed Coleman. Coleman has been involved with Met broadcasts since 1990 and was took time from his pregame preparations to discuss the current state of the Mets

    Q: How would you describe the state of the team?

    A: Surprising is a word I’d use. They’ve been very resilient. They’ve pitched overall better than I thought they would despite losing Chris Young. The starters have been very good lately but the bullpen for the last month has been real good. But whenever they’ve need to stabilize a game, the bullpen has done that. That part of it has been better than expected.

    The hitting has come and gone. They haven’t really hit too much. They haven’t hit too much with runners in scoring position but then you look at the lineup and you wonder how the heck are they scoring any runs?

    Q: How has the team responded to opening this season with 13 losses in the first 18 games?

    A: Terry deserves a lot of credit. He’s a guy who has a lot of energy and I think one thing the players feel as a team is he’s with them, he’s part of them. When they were 5-13, he said, ‘look we’re not as bad as this, we could play better. What we have to is execute and get the job done and we haven’t done that’. I think the players really appreciate that

    Anytime you ask about his impact on the team, they all speak glowingly. So he’s done a very good job of keeping them upbeat, keeping them afloat. So I think he deserves a heck of lot of credit for what they done. That’s been a big part of it.

    They’ve gotten guys hot at the right time too like a Justin Turner – he’s been phenomenal in the last week or so. He’s a guy who was sent to the minors because he had options when they put (Rule Five pick) Brad Emaus on there. So they’re not afraid to wheel people around and make some changes. They don’t have a lot to draw from but what they have they’re going to try different combinations.

    Q: How does Terry Collins' managerial style compare to some of the previous Met managers, especially Jerry Manuel?

    A: Both guys were fundamental guys. Every manager preaches that. I think Terry is probably has gotten into their face a little bit more, but he’s had refresher things whether it’s out there on the field, getting things done or talking to people individually to make sure they execute.

    Sometimes you need a change, a fresh voice and Terry’s definitely that. He does a lot in a short amount of time.

    Q: Is it surprising that Jose Reyes is playing so well?

    A: Yes and no. Since he’s healthy and he’s been there every game, I’m not (surprised). Once I saw his legs were back, (I sensed he would play well). He still has drawbacks, hitting in a big spot with runners in scoring position. He gets too hyped up in that situation but for most part I’m not shocked. I think CITI Field is made for him. He’s a very exciting player and when he’s healthy he wants to show what he can do.

    He knows the situation. He’s 28 years old with free agency awaiting him. So he wants to stay healthy and be out there.

    Q: Is it surprising how well Beltran has performed after two injury-plagued seasons?

    A: Beltran to me is very surprising, number one that he has played as much as he has. I knew that at the start, they’d be playing him two games and resting him one game but I thought that would carry on for a while. But he has played what 21 straight games and he’s going to only DH one game here. So that was a little surprising that they didn’t DH him more here. He’s fine and he wants to play the outfield.

    Some of that is predicated on the fact that Wright’s not here, Davis is not here, you have to play Beltran. But he’s been good. He hasn’t raised his hands and said he’s needed a blow.

    The swing is back. I think he probably he probably has more power from the right side but the left side is starting to come around too. I think he’s always had more power from his right side than his left side but I think he hit well from the left side at the start.

    There’s still not going to be some balls that he’s not going to get to in the outfield but you have to live with that. But he has surprised me with some balls that he has gotten to.

    Q: Will Beltran and Reyes be on the team the entire season?

    A: I don’t think Beltran will be here but Reyes I don’t know. I don’t know how they’re going to play that.

    I think Alderson has probably been surprised at the connection that Met fans have had with Reyes. Maybe we all should be a little bit because it’s been a couple years since he’s been healthy and we haven’t seen that in a while. But when he’s doing what he’s doing, racing to third base the fans like that. So I think Alderson has been surprised at the connection.

    But that doesn’t mean he’s going to change his mind but I honestly can’t say. A lot of it depends on where they are. Alderson said in spring training that he believes this team can be a mid-80s win team.

    But he believes that and if they’re playing to that level or somewhere near that level, I don’t know if he’s going to break it down. He may want to proceed and see what happens after the season.

    Q: How many wins do you think this team is capable of?

    A: I thought coming out of Spring Training if everyone stayed healthy and everyone was healthy,  I thought they were somewhere like an 80 to 83 win team. Then again, that was based on the fact they wouldn’t be trading away everybody.

    You can be losing Beltran, you could be losing Reyes and you could be losing (Francisco) Rodriguez. Where you are after that is anybody’s guess.

    Q: How have the Mets have ignored distractions of numerous injuries?

    A: I think they have (done good jobs of ignoring it). I think last year they probably were waiting for some of the guys to get back. This year they haven’t really worried about that. They kind of know when guys are going to be back and when they’re not. They’ve just gone out and played.

     

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    All Together Now - Exhale and Enjoy 15 Innings

    Thursday, May 19, 2011, 3:26 AM [General]

    It was sometime after midnight when Yankee fans watching last night's game could finally take a few breaths and exhale. That was after the Yankees won what seemed to be a war of baseball attrition by scoring three in the 15th for a 4-1 win over the Orioles.

    We wish we could be as calm as Bartolo Colon pitching those eight innings (and you could have made the argument for Colon pitching the ninth even with Mariano Rivera). We wish we could be as calm as Hector Noesi making his major league debut by pitching four innings and surviving four walks and four hits. We wish we could be as calm as we know Rivera will be the next time he appears. We also wish we could be as calm as Chris Dickerson after making a great catch at the wall.

    Of course this isn't the first time the Yankees have played a 15-inning game, the drama just increases when a team has been struggling and when people have been going back and forth about the game online.

    If you've ever read this site, you know how much baseball history is enjoyed on here. So it seems appropriate to look up some of the previous 15-inning games and list them below (since I know you're just as curious as I am about how many 15-inning games or more the Yankees have played).

    1 - 8-7-2009 - Yankees 2, Red Sox 0 (15) - Chances are you remember this one. This was during the four-game sweep of the Red Sox in early August during a weekend that the Yankees essentially put the AL East away. On a night where Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett combined on 13 strikeouts and held the opposing lineup scoreless, the Yankees wound up winning on an Alex Rodriguez two-run home run. Of course, they easily could have lost as Burnett walked six but the teams combined to leave over 20 men on.

    2 - 6-1-2003 - Yankees 10, Tigers 9 (17) - Roger Clemens was going for 300 wins that afternoon against the 119-loss Tigers. He seemed poised to get it despite blowing a 7-6 lead but then would have to wait after Sterling Hitchcock and Antonio Osuna blew it in the eighth. Eventually the Yankees won this five hour contest on solo home runs in the 17th from Alfonso Soriano and Jorge Posada.

    3 - 8-9-2002 - Athletics 3, Yankees 2 (16) - Later in August 2002, the Athletics put together a 20-game winning streak but that Friday night they managed to outlast the Yankees in a six-hour thriller. Neither team scored until the eighth and the Yankees were forced to go the bullpen early when Orlando Hernandez could only pitch the first. Jeff Weaver pitched the next 6 1/3 and did well. The Yankees responded to Oakland's two runs by scoring the tying run on Bernie Williams' double. Extra innings could have been avoided but Enrique Wilson was thrown out at the plate on a nice throw from Terrence Long.  Neither team did much until the 16th, the game was decided on an RBI single by Mark Ellis and settled when Robin Ventura struck out with two on.

    4 - 4-19-2001 - Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5 (17) - For five hours, 57 minutes there were 35 hits and 35 men left on base in Toronto. The Yankees rallied from a 5-3 deficit with two runs in the fifth on Dave Justice's home run. Then nobody crossed the plate for a while. The Yankees left the bases loaded in the sixth and eighth while the Blue Jays did the same in the ninth. The Yankees did nothing much until two outs in the 17th when Chuck Knoblauch walked. Two hitters later, Knoblauch scored on a Tino Martinez single.

    (NOTE THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE a 1-1 TIE BETWEEN THE ORIOLES and YANKEES in SEPT 2001)

    5 - 7-20-1998 - Tigers 4, Yankees 3 (17) - In the first game of a twi-night doubleheader, the 1998 Yankees lost one of their 48 regular-season games by blowing an early 3-0 lead, stranding 22 runners and going 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position. The Tigers tied the game on Joe Randa's single off Ramiro Mendoza in the seventh and eventually won it on another Randa single in the 17th. This actually was the fourth loss in five games for those Yankees but starting with a 4-3 win in the nightcap, the Bombers won 24 of their next 29 before their next losing streak.

    6 - 6-1-1997 - Yankees 11, Red Sox 6 (15) - The Yankees were three outs away from a 5-4 win in Fenway Park but it never happened. That was because Mariano Rivera gave up an RBI triple to Reggie Jefferson in the bottom of the ninth after a three-run rally off Heathcliff Slocumb and Jim Corsi. Rivera left the bases loaded by retiring Jeff Frye on a pop-up. Until the 15th, the Yankees stranded six runners but busted out against Kerry Lacy and Rich Garces. They took the lead on Paul O'Neill's RBI single, added another run on Scott Pose's single followed by Wade Boggs' three-run home run. Jeff Nelson finished a game that saw 33 hits and 28 men left on base when he retired Darren Bragg with two on.

    7 - 5-1-1996 - Yankees 11, Orioles 6 (15) - Yankee fans might remember this one as one of the nights the 1996 Yankees arrived and seemed like a championship contender. A night after a 13-10 win, the Yankees blew a 6-5 lead when John Wetteland gave up a run without allowing a hit. But after Roberto Alomar's sacrifice fly tied it, Wetteland struck Bobby Bonilla out and Jim Mecir stranded seven in the next three innings. Andy Pettitte pitched the 13th and ended it on a Manny Alexander double play. In the 15th, the Yankees exploded off Jimmy Myers after Kent Mercker put two on. The go-ahead run was a Tino Martinez grand slam and Gerald Williams added insurance. When Rafael Palmeiro grounded out. the Yankees left Baltimore with a 1 1/2 game lead.

    8 - 6-16-1991 - Rangers 4, Yankees 3 (15) - This was the second 15-inning game for this 91-loss team and was the final game of a six-game losing streak that had followed an 8-4 homestand. As the Yankee team plane waited for its journey to Toronto, the Yankees spent four hours, 24 minutes on this one. They could have headed to the airport with a 3-2 loss to Nolan Ryan but Kevin Maas led off the ninth with a home run. After Steve Farr retired the side in the ninth, the Yankees had the bases loaded after Goose Gossage hit Roberto Kelly but Matt Nokes grounded out against Kenny Rogers in the 11th. Four innings later, Texas had the final hit of a 13-hit night when Mario Diaz doubled in John Russell off Lee Gutterman.

    9 - 5-5-1991 - Mariners 5, Yankees 4 (16) - The 1991 Yankees began with seven wins in their first 21 games, losing nine times by three runs or less in that span.  This was one of them and it took five hours, 31 minutes to do so. The Yankees had a 2-1 lead into the seventh but Jay Buhner doubled off Farr and the game stayed tied until the 12th. In the 12th, Steve Sax scored on a Russ Swan wild pitch but Maas struck out and Mel Hall left the bases loaded. Eventually that cost the Yankees because of Harold Reynolds' RBI single off John Habyan. Four innings later, the Maas hit a solo home run off Bill Krueger but the Yankees left two on and it costed them when Greg Briley hit a two-run home run off Rich Monteleone.

    10 - 6-22-1990 - Yankees 8, Blue Jays 7 (15) - In 1990, it took the Yankees two managers and over two months to reach 25 victories. In the 65th game of a 95-loss season, the Yankees won their fourth in a row and improved to 25-40 by winning a game that saw them blow a 6-1 lead. That occurred in the eighth when John Olerud hit a three-run home run off Gutterman during a five-run inning. Nothing much happened until the 15th when the Yankees loaded the bases on a missed catch error by Nelson Liriano with two outs. Then Mike Blowers knocked in Jesse Barfield and Deion Sanders with a base hit and Dave Righetti retired the side after a George Bell home run.

    11 - 9-11-1988 - Yankees 5, Tigers 4 (18) - When the Yankees emerged from this six hour win, they were 3 1/2 games out of first place with 21 to play. This win completed a four-game sweep in a game that saw teams combine for 24 hits and strand 25. The Tigers tied the game on Alan Trammell's solo home run in the seventh off Neil Allen but left seven on until taking a 4-3 lead on a Torey Lovullo RBI single off Steve Shields. The Yankees weren't much better, stranding seven as well but won the game on Claudell Washington's two-run home run off Willie Hernandez.

    12 - 7-11-1987 - White Sox 5, Yankees 2 (15) - In the penultimate game before the All-Star break, the Yankees overcame an early 2-0 deficit but were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position the rest of the game. They almost scored in the eighth but Rick Cerone was thrown out by left fielder Darryl Boston trying to score on Rickey Henderson's single. Eventually the White Sox broke through by scoring on Donnie Hill's RBI single and Carlton Fisk's two-run home run off Pat Clements.

    13 - 8-26-1985 - Athletics 3, Yankees 2 (15) - In a one-month span, the Yankees won 29 out of 33 games and made eight games up in the AL East. This was one of the losses as the Yankees went from the second until the 13th before scoring. They appeared to win the game when Dave Winfield scored on Mike Heath's error in the 13th but Bob Shirley gave up Dwayne Murphy's sacrifice fly. After Winfield hit into a double play in the 15th, the A's seized the chance for the win and won it on Dave Collins' base hit off Shirley.

    14 - 5-11-1984 - Mariners 4, Yankees 3 (17) - Imagine being a manager for two straight games beyond the 15th inning. In 1984, Yogi Berra faced that because the Yankees refused a 2-1 loss and sent the game to extra innings on a Ken Griffey RBI single. The game stayed tied until the 14th as Dave Henderson scored on Al Cowens' double off of Curt Brown but the Yankees kept the game going when Roy Smalley led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run. As the game approached its fifth hour, the Mariners regained the lead on Jack Perconte's sacrifice fly and sealed the win when Steve Kemp struck out.

    15 - 5-10-1984 - Yankees 7, Indians 6 (16) - It took four hours and 53 minutes for the Yankees to sweep the Indians and complete their first series sweep of 1984. The Yankees blew a 5-2 lead in the sixth and it stayed that way until Kemp nearly cost them with an error that allowed Julio Franco to score. In the bottom of the 16th, Don Mattingly and Butch Wynegar hit RBI singles off George Frazier for the win.

    16 - 6-26-1982 - Yankees 4, Indians 3 (17) - This year was a struggle and the Yankees were one out away from losing until Jerry Mumphrey scored on Wynegar's single off Dan Spillner. Goose Gossage kept the game tied by working out of a bases loaded jam in the 10th and eventually the Yankees broke through with the bases loaded in the 17th on Griffey's sacrifice fly.

    17 - 8-2-1978 - Red Sox 7, Yankees 5 - Back in the 1970s a curfew existed for American League games and these rivals needed five hours and two days to complete a contest that saw the Yankees blow a 5-0 lead. The Yankees went scoreless after Chris Chambliss' RBI single in the third as they went 6-for-48 the rest of the way. In between two rain delays and a 1:16 AM suspension, the Red Sox tied it in the eighth and the next day won it in the 17th on RBI singles by Rick Burleson and Jim Rice off Ken Clay. This was part of a three-game losing streak but the Yankees then went on a 27-7 tear that included the four-game September sweep in Fenway.

    1973-1977 - The first four years of the Steinbrenner era saw the Yankees win five of seven games that went 15 innings or beyond. 

    1965-1972 - As the Yankees of the 1960s grew older and began losing during the CBS era, the Bombers split 10 games decided by 15 innings or beyond. One was a 20-inning 4-3 win over the Red Sox in 1967 decided on an Horace Clarke RBI single off Jose Santiago.

    1961-1964 - In the four years following Casey Stengal, the Yankees won the pennant each time and along the way the Yankees won five of eight games decided in the 15 or beyond. Among those games was a 22-inning, 9-7 win at Tiger Stadium on June 22, 1962 that was decided on the only home run off Jack Reed's career.

    1949-1960 - As the Yankees won the penannt in all but two years under Stengal and made the transition from Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle, they played three games that went 15 innings or more. The first was an 11-10 loss in Boston on May 30, 1951 decided on Vern Stephens' home run off Spec Shea. The next was a 4-3 win over Detroit on July 28, 1957 decided on a Moose Skowron triple off Billy Hoeft, who pitched a complete game. The final game was a 6-3 loss to the Senators on August 14, 1960 decided on a Billy Consolo bases-loaded walk against Ralph Terry.

    1940-1948 - As the Yankees went to war and came back from war, they split two games that reached the 15th inning or beyond. The first was a 12-6 win at Detroit on July 20, 1941 that saw four hits from DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and Red Rolfe. The other was a 4-3 loss at Detroit in 17 innings.

    1919-1939 - The Yankees played 20 games into the 15th or beyond and went 8-12. Data before that year such as boxscores are currently unavailable.

    Based on available boxscores, the Yankees have won 34 out of 77 games that required 15 innings or more to complete. The longest game in terms of innings is the 22-inning game and this was the eighth instance since the Yankees began their present run of winning seasons in 1993.

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    Job Not Well Done

    Monday, May 16, 2011, 4:01 AM [General]

    Shortly before 1 AM after another marathon Yankee-Red Sox game, the police officers assembled on the mezzanine overlooking the tracks where the D train would take people away from Yankee Stadium.

    And what they heard from their commander was a job well done followed by applause.

    An hour earlier, the Yankees walked off the field up the stairs and across the street and probably did not hear the same.

    "It seems like when things are going bad," manager Joe Girardi said, "It goes bad."

    Bad would be a nice way to describe the events on the field after the Yankees had been swept by their biggest rival and then headed for a flight to play two games apiece in Tampa Bay and Baltimore with the hope they can figure out why their performance has been the complete opposite of those officers getting praised.

    While sporadic chants of Boston (stinks) went through the stadium, the truth was the home team stunk. They just didn’t stink against the Red Sox, the stench of bad baseball was present during two games with the Royals and the ever-increasing odor even goes back a few weeks.

    "We can talk about it over and over but the bottom line is we’ve got to play better," Alex Rodriguez said. "There’s too much talent in this clubhouse. We’re excited about turning the leaf and moving forward to playing good baseball."

    Good baseball is what the Yankees were sort of doing through April 23 when they had won 11 of their first 17 games.

    Most of the reasons for being six games over .500 had to do with an offense producing a .264 batting average, meaning that in the first 565 at-bats the Yankees had produced 149 hits.

    Since that point, the Yankees have won nine times but also lost 12 times and their team average has dropped 15 points. The decline has occurred because hitting consistently has stopped as evidenced by a .237 average and even that is a deceptive number because if you eliminate two games when the Yankees scored 12 runs apiece in beating the White Sox on April 28 and Texas on May 8, the number is worse.

    In those two games that featured Nick Swisher’s first home run and Derek Jeter’s only two home runs, the Yankees batted .387 (29-for-75). Throw out those two games, the Yankees are hitting .240 on the season and .218 since scoring 15 times off Baltimore pitching.

    Consider this as well. When the final out was made, the highest batting average belonged to Curtis Granderson at .281. Granderson hit the Yankees' 60th home run during the second inning and 25th since that night in Baltimore.

    After that night in Baltimore, the leading average on the Yankees belonged to Rodriguez at .370. His front leg wasn’t twitching like it is now and Rodriguez leaves town for four days with a .250 average due to having 14 hits in his last 78 at-bats.

    The second-highest average belonged to Russell Martin at .333. Now the new catcher has dropped by 90 points due to having eight hits in his last 53 at-bats and this weekend he had two passed balls on strikeouts to the same batter – Kevin Youkilis – and each time it led to a run.

    When a team stops hitting and stops preventing runs, this is what it looks like and for the Yankees and fans it’s a sight nobody wants to see – kind of like a D train making local stops.

    Like the local train late at night when a commuter rail connection is waiting, the season is a long and sometimes uncomfortable journey. And how much longer the Yankees make their fans feel uncomfortable about their performance is entirely up to the players.

     

     

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    Items of Interest - Light Levity Edition

    Sunday, May 15, 2011, 7:20 PM [General]

    Today is May 15 and 70 years ago today, Joe DiMaggio’s historic 56-game hitting streak began with a first-inning single off Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith in a 13-1 loss.

    That loss was the fifth in a row for a 101-win Yankee team that actually fell to 15-16.

    Chances are on that Thursday morning, DiMaggio might have faced some pregame questions about an 8-for-41 (.195) slump that dropped his batting average from .373 to .306. And perhaps manager Joe McCarthy might have faced some of the same line of questioning.

    Assuming he did, let’s guess that it wasn’t quite the sizable crowd that surrounded Jorge Posada’s locker eager to hear from the emotional Yankee catcher turned struggling designated hitter.

    To say that area of the clubhouse was tension-filled sometime around 11 PM last night would be an understatement. When Posada made his next public appearance there, it was an apologetic theme where he said things like it’s time to move on; I met with manager Joe Girardi.

    The mood besides being apologetic also contained some levity. When the crowd began trickling towards Derek Jeter’s locker, some of the small talk included asking the Yankee captain if he had checked the weather.

    To that Jeter, replied sarcastically along the lines of yeah first pitch will be 11PM and we won’t land in Tampa until 6 am.

    Then the crowd in front of Jeter became a full house and to that Jeter quipped: “What happened”

    For nearly 15 minutes, Jeter stood in front of his locker and stated things such as “obviously it’s frustrating, you try to be positive”.

    Probably the money quote if there is such a thing, was something along the lines of “He’s like a brother, if I felt he did something wrong, I’d be the first to tell him.

    Basically Jeter did not feel he was in a position to comment because he was not aware of Saturday’s events and also because he emphasized with someone who he was first a teammate of in Greensboro during the 1992 season.

    When Jeter was done, it was time to hear Joe Girardi confirm what Posada had said and say other things that would make columns, blogs and tweets. So a crowd of roughly 60 assembled with extreme eagerness except they would have to keep waiting because it actually was Terry Francona’s turn.

    And when Francona walked into the room some of the reporters walked out. When they returned midway through the session he quipped, “The B-Team just came in” right before answering a question about Carl Crawford.

    Eventually Francona offered his take as best as he could on Posada while mentioning what it was like for him and David Ortiz.

    "I know in our situation last year, we went through a tough thing and it doesn’t always work out the way you want. You’re trying to balance the team and you want everything to match and it doesn’t always do that. But I think what’s more important is how you get through it and where you go from there.

    "And David and I had to kind of slug it out, but we did, we came through and it got better for us."

    Eventually Girardi entered the room and it was lengthy as in nearly 20 minutes. Most was about Posada.

    Girardi’s session also came after Francona said winning is hard and it is just like dealing with an aging player who has done so much. But you find a way to get through it and when Girardi’s light response to a question about Phil Hughes was “I don’t know, I’ve had a busy day,” it signaled the end of the drama for now.

     

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