Poor Jim Leyritz was in left field. Leyritz is not, was not, and never would be, a leftfielder. Injuries and general incompetence had forced the Yankees to experiment, and they were in the Diet Coke and Mentos phase of the experiment. It was Leyritz’s fourth game in the outfield in the majors, and he had just 55 chances in the outfield in the minors. He was a 26-year-old rookie with the kind of athleticism you would expect from someone who wasn’t drafted. He would become a postseason hero for the Yankees, but in 1990, he was the wrong outfielder at the worst time.
Also, it feels like every paragraph here should start with, “Remembering that the wind was awful,” before each and every thought is presented. And to be fair to Leyritz, he made a sliding catch on the first play of the game, a tough play made tougher by the tornado above the stadium. If he had muffed it, no one would have been surprised or upset. He made that play, and his reward was that he set himself up as one of the goats later….
Look at everything that goes wrong before it almost goes right. Tentative steps in the wrong direction. A dangerous crossover step to change directions. Unsure dancing and backpedaling. Then, just as he almost squares up, someone hits the eject button on Leyritz’s ID, and he’s transported to a different dimension.
It’s the magical confluence of different forces: a fielder who understandably played the ball as if he had about three hours of experience in the outfield, a no-hitter that’s still going because of an error and two walks, a pitcher who was almost unemployed three weeks earlier and the wind. That damned wind.
Two security officials led the way through the Yankee Stadium crowd on Friday, and a group of reporters followed, as Zack Hample clutched the ball that was Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit so tightly that his knuckles were white….
Hample was not exactly awe-struck. He had, to a degree, planned this all out. He had bought a season ticket in right field knowing that it would be a prime location for home runs. The Yankees described him as a professional home run catcher, and the whole scene felt something like a robber being escorted out of a bank after a heist….
“He still has the ball,” said Jason Zillo, the Yankees’ director of communications.
As he was rushed to those negotiations, Hample said he had caught more than 8,000 balls. He said he had caught Mike Trout’s first home run, Barry Bonds’s 724th home run and the last Mets home run at Shea Stadium. He had spent years perfecting his technique. He even wrote a book titled “How to Snag Major League Baseballs.”...
He’s been on the receiving end of several notable milestones over the years, including Mike Trout’s first major league home run on July 24, 2011 at Camden Yards. He also caught Barry Bonds’ 724th career home run at Petco Park in 2006, and over the years has caught several balls at the Home Run Derby in numerous locations.
Now he adds Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit, which should prove to be the most valuable of them all.
Of course, no one knows that better than Hample, and before all’s said and done we’re guessing A-Rod will wish he’d hit it any place other than directly into Hample’s glove. ...
And no, Hample’s not going to back off his stance now that he’s actually somehow managed to wrangle that “one-in-a-million souvenir.” If anything, it will be even more difficult to pry it from his hands.
“My intention all along, I’ve been imagining this scenario as a 1-in-a-million, was not to give it back,” Hample said. “You know, just because the guy who got Jeter’s 3,000th hit, a lot of people called him an idiot. A lot of people said that he was a wonderful person and extremely generous. And I really think that, whatever you want to do with it is your choice.”
He added, “I think that someone like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who has made half a billion dollars in his career, doesn’t really need a favor from a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. I mean, depending on what the Yankees could offer, I would consider giving it back. I’m not giving it back for — I don’t plan to give it back for a chance to meet him and full autographed bats because I don’t collect bats, I collect baseballs. Just having this ball is so meaningful to me. I can’t believe that I got it.”
Even after these lousy results, the Yankees remained third in the AL with 288 runs scored. It’s rather mind-blowing to look at the many currently below-average bats in the Yankees’ lineup — Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley, plus the fill-ins for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury — and then realize that the Yankees stand in serious contention BECAUSE of their offense, not despite it.
Cost of lawyers and a lot of negative publicity. What a mess.
It is believed the only reason the Yankees made any suggestion to settle with a charity donation was because of the enormous cost of litigating the case — which would entail bringing in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the testimony A-Rod gave them in the Biogenesis case, along with the many witnesses in that case.
Regardless, if it’s war he wants with them again, the Yankees are said to be confident they will win it and prepared to spend whatever it takes to make their case.
“I’m not going to get into that now. All that stuff is family business and will be handled privately,” said Rodriguez.
What’s next? How about a good bloodletting and a trepanation? I understand the desire to protect pitchers from injury. Trying to find a one-size fits all solution for pitchers with unique physiologies just seems the wrong way to go. Unless Pineda was showing signs of fatigue, I don’t see the benefit of skipping a start now.
“Are the Yankees in Bryce Harper’s future?” asked the New York Post. “Fut-ure Yank-ee” and “20-19″ chanted fans in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium during New York’s 6-1 win. (Harper is under the Nationals’ control through the 2018 season.)
Why is such a hard fastball so unimposing? In part because Eovaldi’s spin rate is so unremarkable in either direction. It’s not as simple as “more spin equals better pitch” so much as it is that low-spin fastballs tend to get higher ground-ball rates, and high-spin fastballs generally result in more swings-and-misses. Eovaldi’s 2,146 RPM four-seamer, which through the end of May had the 272nd-highest spin rate of 409 pitchers who had thrown it at least 40 times, is neither. Fastballs work best at the extreme edges of spin rates, not quietly in the middle.
“Today he pitched like an ace, and that’s what we need,’’ Mark Teixeira said after Tanaka shut down the Mariners 3-1 at Safeco Field on Wednesday to give the Yankees a sweep of the series. “He was throwing 95, throwing his splits, you are just really happy to see that.’’
When a player is struggling at the plate, he can go in the batting cage and tinker with his swing. If he is struggling in the field, he can take more ground balls. But how does a player improve his awareness?
“You have to play,” Girardi said. “You can’t simulate game speed and game conditions. As much as you try, you just can’t do it. They’ll work on a time clock sometimes with runners, and having to go to first base, but it’s not really the same. That’s the hard part. The only way to get better is to play.”
Like most other evaluators, this scout has seen A-Rod appear tense over the years, squeezing the bat in pressure situations. This year has brought noticeable change.
“He has the easiest swing I’ve ever seen from him,” the advance scout said. “He just looks like he doesn’t give a sh-t. And that’s a good thing.”
In other words, a famously self-conscious man is finally allowing himself to let it rip, and enjoy the game.
The scout went on to theorize that the year off, forced by a PED suspension, had left A-Rod more appreciative of the game, and able to enjoy it more than ever. That jibes with A-Rod’s own account.
In a year when few expected A-Rod to even play—including the Yankees, who in mid-March were still saying privately that they did not believe he would make it through spring training—it is remarkable to watch how his newfound relaxation has made him a valuable run-producer.
Hamels’ average fastball velocity in May is 93.59 mph, a monthly figure he did not reach last season until August. His strikeout rate, over a full season, would rank among the best of his career.
His walk rate is dropping, and after allowing seven homers in his first three starts, his home run rate also is returning to normal. Hamels has allowed only one homer in his last seven outings, none in his last four.
What the current Yankees are experiencing is separation anxiety. With an uncertain, unremarkable future ahead, they can’t seem to let go of the past. Hanging a new plaque every once in a while is a worthy hat-tip to the glory days. But too much of a good thing can be suffocating for the 2015 Yankees, even for Joe Girardi, who has the unique perspective of both playing with and managing those icons.
“I think it kind of went to pasture when Derek left,” Girardi said, “because it’s a whole new group of guys. There’s guys that were there in the clubhouse who were part of the 2009 championship. But when the Yankees are talked about, they’re talked about from the late ‘90s and early 2000s. And that group of players is gone. So this group needs to start something themselves.”
But the reality is, there will never be an A-Rod Day. Or plaques for CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. One ring isn’t enough. Not in the Bronx. And far too often, the Yankees keep reminding everyone that their best days are behind them.
Because RBIs were not considered an official statistic until 1920, there is some discrepancy as to how many RBIs Ruth should be credited with. However, Elias Sports Bureau, the statistician of Major League Baseball, has Ruth at 1,992 for his career.
bb-ref has Ruth at 2214 RBI. If you ignore everything before 1920, it becomes 1990 RBI. So it would seem that they’re ignoring everything before 1920 and have two extra RBI unaccounted for. Maybe they came from the same game as Ty Cobb’s two extra hits.
When Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16, he told the magazine that two of his goals in baseball were to play in Yankee Stadium and to do it in pinstripes.
When I reminded Lerner, one of the Nationals’ owners, of those comments this week, he laughed.
“Every 16-year-old kid says that,” he said.
But not every 16-year-old kid is Bryce Harper. And what Bryce Harper wants, Bryce Harper seems to get.
Stay for the random shots at A-rod, who had literally nothing to do with the topic of the article:
Today’s Yankees are aging and aching, with their biggest star, Alex Rodriguez, a serial liar pushing 40 (years, not homers). The rest? C. C. Sabathia and Carlos Beltran are on the downside of their career. Jacoby Ellsbury, the former Red Sox star, cannot seem to stay healthy and is now on the disabled list, where Mark Teixeira has also spent substantial time in recent years.
Like it or not, Rodriguez is the face of the Yankees, whether he is bashing homers and striking out in the ninth or repeating, over and over again, that “I just want to play baseball.”
If Harper does join the Yankees Mancur will no doubt suddenly find that she loathes him because of the same qualities she’s lauding him for in this article.
If you are going to release part of the contract, release the whole contract. I believe their claim that his homers weren’t marketable isn’t accurate. Sure, they *might* not have been able to make as much money as they potentially could have if ARod hadn’t gotten caught juicing but that’s debatable. With his start, Yankees fans surely don’t have him classified as a villian.
The team has released a portion of the contract that says it’s up to the Yankees to decide whether Rodriguez’s home run chase is commercially marketable. A-Rod’s run up to Mays, the Yankees determined, wasn’t marketable because of the stains from his PED scandal and season-long suspension in 2014.