April 2009

The Game is Changing

Across MLB, I think it’s a better brand of baseball right now.  Not as much power as far as sit back and wait for it.  Teams are trying to make things happen, they’re running a lot more, going base to base.  Defense is going to become a premium and I like what I’m seeing.C4S_piniella0611708_27468c.jpg  I still think a lot of managers have to adjust, some are being exposed by not moving runners over in certain situations because I don’t think they’re grasping the fact that the game has changed.  Clearly the veteran managers who has always managed that way – Piniella, LaRussa – are not affected by the lack of power that might be in their lineups.  They’ve always made great adjustments on the fly and as the season progresses that’s going to be the tell-tale sign of which managers are going to be able to get their teams an extra 10-15 wins based on the style of play.

Big Papi amps up rivalry

Once of the reasons this rivalry is so great is the simple fact that David Ortiz is popping off just4954071-lg.jpg before the Yankees got to town and he’s basically warning Joba Chamberlain not to throw inside. This is headline locker rood fodder that everyone wants to talk about.  But, from a baseball standpoint, it all sparks a lot of offense because if the umpires warn the pitchers not to pitch inside – and I’m not talking about throwing people’s head or hitting guys like Joba did with Youkilis – I’m saying just pitching inside to brush guys off the plate, then we’re going to see a lot of offense. 

It’s going to be one of the most exciting weekends for the players new to the teams.  Teixiera, CC, A.J., to experience the Red Sox  – Yankee rivalry amped up to another level is really cool.
 
This is a great rivalry, second to none, and I look forward to watching it.  

Some Surprises

Seattle – their outfield defense is one of the best in the big leagues.  I love what I’m seeing from Endy Chavez, Gutierrez in center and now Ichiro back in right.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mariners lead the league in double plays this year based on the fact that they can keep a double play in order cutting off balls in the gap, getting them back and holding runners at first base.  Those little things like that don’t show up in the box score.

The Yankee offense – not very impressive.  I think when you compare it to other Yankee lineups the past 10 or so years, this one is very bleak.  You can clearly see the loss of A-Rod, but even if he was in the lineup I don’t think it’s very deep.  One of the things that the Yankee lineup used to have is 1 thru 9 when you can have Posada hitting 7th or 8th and hitting 25 home runs, that showed the depth of that lineup. That’s just not there right now. And I don’t know if it will be at all this season.

Ian Stewart – as I have been raving about the last year, this guy needs to play more.  This young man has tremendous upside – Larry Walker-type potential.  If they cut him loose I think he has a chance to hit 30 home runs, drive in 100+ and be a big time player.

 

Emilio’s Impact

bonifacio.jpgHuge impact so far on the Florida Marlins hitting at the top of the order. His speed has transformed that team that was long ball or nothing.He’s changed the dynamic – even if he doesn’t get a hit or goes into a slump by bunting, moving the pitcher off the mound, little things like that have changed the offense.  And the biggest benefit is when he’s on first base. You hit a gapper, this guy is going to score.  

New Yankee Stadium

From a fan perspective, it is incredible.  Beautiful! They have huge columns as you walk through the corridor and the best way to describe it is, when you were walking in old Yankee Stadium everyone was shoulder to shoulder.  Now you have enough space for everyone to walk through and move freely. concrete-roman-colosseum2.jpgAnd they have  great big photos of the all-time greats with amazing action shots, each one probably 30 feet tall. It reminds you of being in the Roman Colosseum, it’s truly amazing.

The playing field – we’re seeing what can happen on the diamond.  The ball is jumping out there, particularly to right field.  There’s a little open area in right center where you can see the train – their effort to keep things as true to the old stadium as possible – but in that area where you can see the tracks is where the ball flies the most.  You hit a ball in that direction and it’s going to carry. And I don’t see anything ending that any time soon unless they decide to change the dimensions.  Until then, the ball will continue to carry out of Yankee Stadium.

 

Opening Day Memories

Always love opening day.  It’s one of the most fun times of the year – I believe it should be a National Holiday!  When I was a kid, the season didn’t start until the Cincinnati Reds played that day game. I’m kind of disappointed we lost that tradition in baseball, where the Reds played a day game and then the rest of baseball starts. It was the tradition that always got it going.  

Reynoldsharold.jpgMy personal memories of opening day always have to do with the 25-man roster.  For instance, 1985 – I had a good spring, it was the first year I broke camp with the big club. It was the Sunday before the season and there were 26 men on the roster.  Darnell Coles and I were roommates.  We roomed together starting in 1981, all the way through the minors.  1985 was the first year I really had a chance to make the club out of spring training.  We broke camp and  went to Seattle, played all the exhibition games there and it was Sunday night – Monday is opening day, the rosters have to be set. We’re in our room and the phone rings – we know one of us is going down.  I still think to this day whoever answered the phone they were gonna say “you made the club” and whoever didn’t was going down. So he’s on his side of the room, I’m on mine, and we’re diving across the beds to get to the phone in the middle – we fight, roll on the ground, I get the phone…

“Hello??”

“Who is this?”

“It’s Harold.”

“Congratulations, you made the team.”

“Alright!!.”
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It was bittersweet because I knew Darnell was going down.  But, lo and behold, the way things were working back then in Seattle, we’re playing in Boston a couple months later and all of a sudden Darnell is walking into the clubhouse.  He comes in and I say, “Alright, DC!, What’s up?”.  This guy was the best man at my wedding, my good friend my whole career, and he walks in and says:

“You’re going to triple A.”

I get sent down, he gets called up.  We were on that roller coaster with each other for quite some time.