JCTV, Episode 22: Joe Moorhead

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 5:05 PM [General]

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    JCTV, Episode 21: John Tavares

    Thursday, October 24, 2013, 6:07 PM [General]

    In the latest episode of JCTV, host Jack Curry sits down with the Islanders' John Tavares to talk about the star center's beginnings in hockey, his entrance into the NHL and the keys to his game.

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    JCTV, Episode 20: Joe Girardi

    Monday, October 14, 2013, 6:44 PM [General]

    Shortly after re-signing with the Yankees through the 2017 season, Joe Girardi discusses the role family played in his decision to stay and looks ahead to the 2014 team on the latest episode of JCTV.

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    Girardi's return to Yankees not a surprise

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 6:47 PM [General]

    There are numerous times when Joe Girardi is asked questions and gives brief answers. That is Girardi's approach as the manager of the Yankees. Sometimes, topics are off limits. But there are also times when Girardi offers enough insight to reveal what he is thinking. I think Girardi did that during his end-of-the season press conference in Houston.

    If you analyzed Girardi's answers that day, you wouldn't have been surprised that Girardi agreed to a 4-year, $16 million deal Wednesday to remain as the Yankees manager. As a relaxed Girardi sat in the dugout on that Sunday, he was chatty about his future. My evaluation of what Girardi uttered is that he needed to talk with his family, but that he was almost certain to be back with the Yankees in 2014.

    In the end, that's what happened. Girardi's connection with the Chicago Cubs was mentioned a lot, but the sides never even spoke because he was still under contract with the Yankees for the rest of the month. There was also the possibility that Girardi would return to broadcasting or maybe even take a year off. I never thought those were serious options. The Yankees like Girardi, he liked his prestigious job and it was logical to believe both sides would reach a quick agreement.

    "To me, I want to be part of this," Girardi said. "I want to be part of us getting back on top."

    Girardi couldn't have negotiated with any other teams until November 1, but he still had some leverage because of the superb job he did in 2013. In a season in which the Yankees were hampered by an endless trail of injuries and had to deal with the distraction of Alex Rodriguez's looming suspension, Girardi helped push the club to 85 wins. The Yankees remained in the hunt for a wild card until the last week of the season.

    Now Girardi, who initiated the idea of a fourth year on his deal, will be back and he will join with the front office to try and make the Yankees a better team in 2014. Can that happen? When Girardi was asked about the distinct possibility of the Yankees having to assemble a winning team with a payroll under $189 million, he said, "I think $189 million is still an awful lofty number." 

    Still, Girardi acknowledged that he will be managing the Yankees in a period where there will be some "uncertainty." Both Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte have retired. Robinson Cano, the best player on the Yankees, is a free agent. So are Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson and Boone Logan. Derek Jeter played in 17 games this year and will turn 40 years old in June. CC Sabathia was disappointing and didn't pitch like a $23 million ace. The Yankees missed Russell Martin and need a reliable starting catcher.

    But, despite the many questions, Girardi said, "I wouldn't have come back if I didn't think we could win a championship." Although Girardi stressed the importance of young players producing, the Yankees will also investigate the free agent market. If Rodriguez is suspended and his salary doesn't count against the payroll, the Yankees will have more financial flexibility. Beyond Cano and Kuroda, the players the Yankees like include Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo and Masahiro Tanaka, who was 20-0 with a 1.24 earned run average in Japan this season.


    "I have faith they'll give us everything we need," Girardi said.  

    Once Girardi agreed to the new contract, he told his wife and three children how rare it was for a manager or a coach to work in the same city for 10 straight years. As long as Girardi fulfills the length of this deal, a decade is how long he will have managed the Yankees. So Girardi is back, back to the place he never left.

    "I don't manage to just work," Girardi said. "I manage to win championships."

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    Yankees craft perfect Stadium ending for Rivera

    Friday, September 27, 2013, 4:24 PM [General]

    We all knew Mariano Rivera was going to pitch at Yankee Stadium for the final time on Thursday night. We all knew the bullpen door was going to open and Rivera was going to jog to the mound and do what he has done for almost two decades. We all knew the star of the show and we all knew what was supposed to be in the script. We had this night all figured out, right?

    But there wasn't actually a script for Rivera's last appearance in pinstripes. There was emotion, an endless flow of emotion from the unforgettable pitcher, and there were tears, an abundance of tears that Rivera predicted would never appear. So, on a night where we all thought we knew what to expect, we witnessed scenes that we had never envisioned. Rivera's good-bye was riveting.

    Even though we presumably knew what was about to happen with Rivera, we were still in awe. We watched every move he made because, as it turned out, we didn't really know what was about to happen. We knew the cast, but we didn't know how this night would unfold. That's what makes a baseball night like this so great. It's something unpredictable, like Rivera's tears after two of his teammates surprised him on the mound. It's something you'll still be talking about in a decade.  

    Ten years from now, few people will care that Alex Cobb outpitched Ivan Nova and the Tampa Bay Rays quieted the Yankees, 4-0, on September 26, 2013. Those are the facts of the game, but those facts were shoved aside by Rivera's exploits. The kid who first tried to get signed by the Yankees as a 155-pound shortstop evolved into the greatest closer of all-time. On Thursday, we saw another example of his flair, his class and his dignity.

    From the moment Bob Sheppard's voice introduced Rivera in the eighth inning, there was a different buzz about a game that was meaningless for the Yankees. The Yankees weren't in contention for a Wild Card spot anymore, but the fans had something valuable to hold on to in the 159th game of the season. They had come to see Mariano, the mighty pitcher with the amazing cut fastball. They had come to see him, praise him and watch him for the last time.

    And, of course, Mariano put on a show. He retired two batters on five pitches to motor through the eighth. Before pitching the ninth, Rivera sat in the dugout for an abnormally long time. While Rivera was waiting for JR Murphy to put on his catcher's gear, he was also absorbing as much of the moment as he could. He was about to go to that mound for the final time. The Yankee Stadium part of his career was about to die forever.

    After Rivera notched the first two outs in the ninth, Manager Joe Girardi unveiled an excellent surprise for him. Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter, Rivera's forever friends, became part-time managers and strolled to the mound to remove Riverafrom the game. It was a brilliant move by Girardi as he inserted the two players with strongest bonds to Rivera into Rivera's swan song at the Stadium.

    When Rivera saw Pettitte and Jeter, he erupted into a smile. Then Jeter smiled back and said, "Hey, it's time to go." Rivera handed the ball to Pettitte and hugged him, but Rivera wouldn't let go. He hung on tight to Pettitte, maybe thinking he was hanging on to the last few seconds of his career in the Bronx. Pettitte patted Rivera's back and then his head, the way a parent would treat a child. The embrace seemed to last five minutes. Then Rivera hugged Jeter, too. When Rivera finally departed the mound, he had tear stains on his cheeks.

    As Rivera approached the dugout, he hugged Girardi. Rivera dropped the game baseball, but Girardi quickly stuffed it back in the pitcher's glove. Rivera hugged his teammates, waved to the fans after a curtain call and waved to the classy Rays, too. Once the game was over, Rivera was the last man to leave the first base dugout. He walked back to the mound, dug at the pitcher's rubber with his cleats to loosen up some dirt and scooped up the dirt. He wanted a keepsake from the home he was leaving.

    During our post-game show on the YES Network, Bob Lorenz was the first person to mention that Rivera shouldn't even pitch in Houston this weekend. As soon as Bob said it, I emphatically agreed. There is no reason for Rivera to throw another pitch in his Major League career, no reason for him to try and add any more details to a remarkable story.

    If Girardi wants to let Rivera play center field for a few innings against the Astros, that's fine. Let Rivera run around in the outfield as if he's a boy running on the beaches of Panama again. But Rivera shouldn't throw any more cutters. On a pulsating Thursday, Rivera and the Yankees crafted a beautiful ending to his pitching career. It's a scene that won't ever be topped. Rivera should leave that script as is.

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