Phoenix should be a place where when people bring up sports they say "Oh man... they LOVE their Diamondbacks."
I'll say it... Arizona Diamondback fans should be among the most passionate and loyal in all of baseball.
And they are not. Oh I am sure there are some crazy D'Backs fans out there, but they should be playing to sold out houses every night... not be ranked 13th out of 16 in National League attendance.
Let me list why they should be the toast of the desert and then I will demand answers.
1) THE GOOD TIMES CAME QUICKLY
The Diamondbacks were formed in 1998. Their first 100 win season was in 1999. A whopping 1 year wait for a trip to the post season! The Phillies didn't win 100 games in a season until 1976... their 93rd season!
2) THE TEAM HAS A FRANCHISE DEFINING MOMENT
The 2001 World Series was not just the best World Series since the playoffs expanded to 3 rounds but it was the great post September 11th moment of celebration.
And the 9th inning comeback off of Rivera in game 7 was the most stunning baseball moment I had seen since Kirk Gibson's home run off Eckersley.
And considering Rivera's track record in big games and the fact it was a 7th and deciding game, one could argue the 2 runs off of Rivera was even bigger than Gibson's homer.
The Rangers have been around since 1972. What is THEIR franchise defining moment? The ball bouncing off of Canseco's head?
3) THREE TRIPS TO THE PLAYOFFS IN THEIR FIRST FIVE YEARS
Keep in mind their partners in expansion, the team formerly known as the Devil Rays, spent their first 10 seasons trying in vain to win 71 games.
4) THE REBUILDING WAS QUICK
After posting winning seasons in 5 of their first 6 years, the D'Backs fell apart in 2004, losing 111 games.
By 2007, Arizona was a 90 win playoff team again. 3 year rebuilding process. The Pirates haven't rebuilt in more than 5 times that many seasons since Francisco Cabrera.
5) THEY ARE THE ONLY TEAM TO WIN IN THE DESERT
The Suns have never won a final. Wayne Gretzsky isn't enough to make the Coyotes a Cup contender. And if you want to see the total highlights of the Arizona Cardinals, just rent Jerry Maguire.
Seriously, what other great thing have the Cardinals won?
But the Diamondbacks won it all.
6) THE BOB, OR WHATEVER THEY CALL THEIR PARK IS COOL ON A HOT SUMMER DAY
I know it's hot. It's the f---ing desert. It's tends to be hot. But it's cool under the roof. Hell they put in a pool for you people!
Man how things have changed for the Mariners since the sixth inning of the game they played on August 23, 2007.
The Mariners scored 7 runs that inning, capped by a 2 run homer by Jose Vidro and moved within 1 game of first place Los Angeles (or California… or Anaheim… or Los Angeles of Anaheim depending on who you talk to.)
They won the next night to stay within 1 game… and they went into Anaheim only 2 back for a potential division changing showdown.
Then the losing began.
They lost all three to the Angels… They lost 9 in a row… They lost 13 out of 14… They lost 15 out of 17…
When the dust settled they had fallen 8 ½ games in the standings in less than 3 weeks… doing that at any time is bad. Doing that in September is season crushing.
Since that 7 run rally in late August, the Mariners have gone 42-70… a .375 clip in 112 games.
Good bye manager John McLaren and GM Bill Bavasi… hello yard sale.
And the suffering for Seattle fans continue.
It’s funny that Seattle fans never get the press nor the sympathy they deserve for being really snakebitten.
But think about it… of all the cities that have at least 3 major sports teams, the only city that has waited longer for a title is Cleveland.
Finishing next to Cleveland in sports frustration is kind of like finishing second to Tiger Woods in The Masters. Sometimes you have to just tip your cap to the best.
But they may be soon taken out of the equation all together. The SuperSonics were the most recent title… all the way back in 1979.
To put that in perspective, back then there was a grand total of ONE Starbucks.
Three new Starbucks have opened while you have read this blog post.
And next season they might be the Oklahoma City SuperSonics (which is still not as stupid a name as the Utah Jazz.)
So if the Sonics move goes through, not only would Seattle no longer be a 3 team city… but you’d have to go to the 1917 Stanley Cup Finals to find a Seattle champion. I can’t imagine a lot of fans in the Pacific Northwest will use the 1917 Stanley Cup Champion Seattle Metropolitans as a source for bragging rights.
They didn’t even play in the NHL… they played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, which we can only assume had a better TV deal then than the Versus Network.
So that’s a lot of suffering for Seattle fans. No wonder all of those grunge musicians were so angst ridden.
But with the Mariners falling apart and looking like the Ichiro era might come and go without a World Series appearance the suffering continues.
The Mariners had the best player of the 1990s in his prime with Ken Griffey Jr… the best pitcher of this generation in Randy Johnson in his prime… and some of the best years of Alex Rodriguez who might end up being the greatest player of all time…. And a potential Hall of Fame manager (Piniella) couldn’t get them closer than 2 games of the World Series.
They put together a 116 win season and put up less of a fight in the ALCS than Apollo Creed versus Ivan Drago.
Their pre-Piniella history was 15 losing seasons out of 16… and that’s not even counting the 1969 Seattle Pilots, who left after one year and whose lone contribution to baseball was being the subject of Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.
The Sonics never won again… getting crushed by Jordan’s Bulls in the 1996 Finals. And the Seahawks lone Super Bowl appearance was hampered by officiating so bad that Tim Donaghy thought “How much did THEY have on the game?”
So why doesn’t Seattle get the attention? Or the love?
People talk long about how the Cub fans have suffered… but those fans also had the Bulls and Bears win for them.
Cleveland fans may have been suffering longer, but would Major League be as lovable if they were the Mariners instead of the Indians? And the Browns did move… but a new Browns came back.
So why do YOU think Mariners fans? I'm looking at you... Nice Guys Finish Third (which would be quite an accomplishment for this Mariner team!)
How about everyone at Mariners Central? Do you think it has to do with the isolation up there in the Pacific Northwest?
Hey Lookout Landing… do you wish people spoke more about Long Suffering Seattle Fans?
Or everyone at the Seattle Times forum… do you think this apathy is from angry coffee drinking fans across the country who are angry that a cup of Joe now costs $5?
Or maybe because there is no big Buckner, Bartman, John Elway drive moment to symbolize the futility that maybe nobody really realizes how long it has been. What do you think, crew of the USS Mariner?
Let me ask you Moira, the Mariner Housewife… do you WANT this identity, or would you rather just win in anonymity… kind of like how Kurt Cobain claimed that the last thing he wanted to be was famous.
Take it from your pal Sully… being associated with loserdom gets tiring. And I bet it won’t even get an HBO appearance for any of you.
But if worse comes to worse… you can always dust off those Seattle Metropolitan jerseys!
... had NOTHING to do with Massasoit, Miles Standish, Squanto, William Bradford or anyone else associated with Plymouth Rock.
Yeah, I know the first Thanksgiving was in Massachusetts. I grew up in Massachusetts. We went to Plimouth Plantation on school field trips and interacted with those creepy reenactors who kept pretending it was 1621 and didn't know what Donkey Kong was.
What was the significance of that first Thanksgiving? Well, it was the last positive memory the native Americans had of white people... it marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and is a boom time for the power Turkey farm lobby.
Well, FAR more important for people in Massachusetts was the one 382 years later... When in 2003 Theo Epstein went to Arizona to eat Shonda Schilling's lousy mashed potatoes, pretended to like them while convincing Curt Schilling to waive his no trade clause and come to the Red Sox.
Lest we forget the state of the Red Sox in 2003...
Theo Epstein, the Doogie Howser of GMs, had dreams of building a Red Sox team through the farm like Oakland... and then use the team's great resources to keep the team together.
But he had a problem... the insanity of the Red Sox fanbase.
They had yet another curse moment with Grady Little forgetting he could actually make a pitching change and Aaron Boone gaining a new nickname that starts with F and rhymes with trucking.
They needed to win a World Series and fast, or else the town and the team would go insane. And after 2003, he decided to push the chips into the middle of the table. That meant getting an ace pitcher and a bullpen closer.
The best potential ace was of course Schilling. The win loss total wasn't there in '03 and he missed 10 starts due to injury. But his ERA was low, his strikeouts were high and he was a big game pitcher.
He complimented Randy Johnson as the second ace in Arizona and seemed poised to do the same for Pedro Martinez in Boston.
Problem was he wanted to go back to Philadelphia. Or worse yet to the Yankees.
(Keep in mind that off season Curt Schilling was almost a Yankee and Alex Rodriguez was almost a Red Sox... that's almost surreal now.)
So Theo sat at that Thanksgiving table, grinning while chewing the undercooked turnips and somehow someway convinced Schilling that Boston was the place for him.
23 regular season wins and 2 bloody socks later, the Red Sox were champs, parents graves were visited, your pal Sully got another HBO Spot.
And Theo began the building of a new Sox champion.
And if Schilling's surgery was indeed career ending and his last game was indeed Game 2 of the World Series, it would be truly rotten of me to not salute Curt for the 6-1 post season record for Boston and cementing his legacy as a big game pitcher (as if winning post season MVPs in both Philadelphia and Arizona hadn't done that already.)
Yeah he was a blowhard... but one who backed it up.
So yeah, Thanksgiving 2003 was the biggest in Massachusetts history. Don't give me Miles Standish.
How many rings did he win? Let's see HIM win with a bloody sock
This Tuesday I thought the Yankees were in a strange situation.
Wang was out, their starting staff in disarray and it was Joe Girardi's first real test to see if he could do what Torre always did which is stay calm and win.
Well, while we here at Sully Baseball have always been quick to laugh at the Yankee's expense... I will man up and tip my cap to them.
After falling to .500 on June 11th in Oakland, the Yankees have won 7 in a row. They made up a week of games pulling themselves up from the definition of mediocrity to back in the thick of the playoff hunt.
But most surprising of all is the 7 game win streak hasn't been a 2005 Yankee special. That year they had pretty lousy pitching and middle relief, but they would bludgeon the other team's starter and middle relief and just made sure they dragged an 8-7 lead to the 9th when Rivera would shut the game down.
This winning streak has included a pair of 2-1 games and a 4-1 game. In 5 of the 7 games, the Yankees pitching staff held the opposition to 1 or fewer runs.
Now you can say "Yeah but it was the f-ing Padres, big deal." But one thing the Torre teams did when they needed to make up ground was beat the teams you are supposed to beat.
So far, the Giradi Yankees are following suit. The Astros are fading? Fine. Sweep them. Done. The Padres stink? OK, sweep them. Done.
When a playoff spot is missed by a few games, I'm sure the manager thinks of those games lost to a lousy team.
Do you think Willie Randolph is thinking about going 1-6 against Washington, St. Louis and Florida at the end of last season? If he went 3-4, the Mets win the Division. If he went 2-5, they force a playoff.
Now he's collecting unemployment.
Now in terms of making up ground, it didn't help the Yankees that the Red Sox have won ever series in June.
Also the Rays haven't cooperated after sweeping the Cubs. And with Baltimore playing better, the Yankees are one losing streak away from 4th place.
But I come here to praise the Yankees, not to bury them. The lowly Reds and Pirates will be the next Yankee opponents and then the dazed and confused Mets.
Who knows, 7 straight could turn into 12 of 15 games. I don't WANT it to... but it might
You've got to admit... the Mets got pretty lucky with their timing.
Oh it was premeditated of course that they would fly Willie out to Anaheim, have him manage one game and then fire him after it was too late to make the morning papers.
But in terms of the sports cycle, over the last few days you've had the thrilling NBA Finals, Tiger Woods' amazing US Open "Overtime is not enough" sudden death win, you have the Yankees ace possibly out for the year.
Lots of stories to occupy the back page while you treat Willie like he was Fredo in a rowboat saying his Hail Marys.
Oh sure the outraged columns are coming out now... but it is literally yesterday's news.
I woke up this morning and the Celtics were still NBA Champs!
There were so many amazing things about last night that the only thing I can do is list them...
- The Celtics won the NBA Title. I am savoring it. When I was younger during the Bird/McHale/Parish years it seemed like the Celtics were going to be in the Finals every year... or at least have a 76ers or Pistons stop them in the Conference Finals.
I never thought it would be 22 years... 22 years? Kids born when the Celtics beat the Rockets in 1986 are now graduating from college.
- The Celtics won by 39 points Read that sentence again. They were up 43 in the 4th... there was a chance that this would have been the biggest ass kicking in any finals game in history before the Celtics had to settle for the biggest ass kicking in any elimination game.
How do you lose by nearly 40 when your season is on the line? 20 would be bad enough.
I called Michael Bernard, one of the biggest and most loyal Celtic fans I know, after the third quarter when it was 89-60. He said "This might be an interesting experiment. Don't have the Celtics shoot. Just dribble the ball out for 24 seconds each possession and hold the Lakers to 28 points to win."
Instead the Celtics put up 42 4th quarter points and getting nearly 15 minutes of playing time for Glen "Big Baby" Davis.
- It was the Lakers
It isn't enough that my team is happy... someone else's team needs to be miserable. The Celtics putting on the biggest ass whippin' elimination game in history would have been awesome if it were against the Hornets.
But it was the Lakers. It was that history. It was payback for the Sky Hook. It was a chance for Boston fans to chant "You're Not Jordan" to Kobe. It was a chance to deny Kobe his Shaq-less championship while you know Shaq-Fu was grinning even wider about the 2006 Heat title. It was a chance to see Phil Jackson fail to pass Red.
And, like in 2004 when I was in New York during the greatest fold in baseball playoff history, I'm in LA.
I get to read the local papers who trashed the Celtics before the series and whined about Paul Pierce getting a wheel chair grumble about their team.
Sometimes seeing the team you hate lose is as rewarding as seeing the team you love win.
I'm not saying I am proud of that part of my personality that loves to see teams squirm... but I admit it is there.
- The Celtic greats who were in attendance Russell, Havlicek and Heinsohn were all there. I'm sure there were more as they were on the court celebrating with the others.
It was like an initiation to live on Mount Olympus. Whenever there is a gathering of Celtic greats, Pierce-Garnett-Allen et al are invited until their beard is whiter than Russell's.
- Celebrating at Sonny McLean's
I went with Kenny Mack, a buddy of mine from Junior High... the last time the Celtics won, to Sonny's to celebrate with our people.
High fives, hugs from total strangers and chanting Beat LA was the order of business.
One guy hugged me, stopped and said "You were in Curse of the Bambino."
It was fun looking around and seeing the people my age and older who had experienced Celtics titles before so happy that we can celebrate another one.
And it was also great seeing the faces of the younger fans who never had this moment and was probably sick of hearing about how great the past was.
And then there were a lot of guys named Murph and Fitzy who were just drunk.
OK, enough basketball for now. The Celtics are the champs... along with the Red Sox and the Giants, so I got 3 out of 4 of my Championship Grand Slam
Oh this should be a walking poster for all that is good in Interleague Play!
The best team in the NL goes to the home park of one of the rising AL teams. A manager returns to his old home park. The teams square up for an exciting 1 run game in front of a larger than usual home crowd...
But if the World Series is indeed the Tampa Bay Rays vs the Chicago Cubs, it would be just cruel.
You know Tampa would win. And to see another expansion team win while the Cubs start their second century of waiting is just not right.
Their thoughts were well written and thought out but the argument is moot since Wang's injury has probably ended his season.
I am CLUELESS of what the Yankees should do.
They physically need 5 starting pitchers. At this point it is Mussina, Pettite, Joba, Giese... and... um... is Denny Neagle available?
The fact that previous Yankee busts like Jeff Weaver and Sidney Ponson can be floated by with a straight face really makes this interesting.
Sabathia isn't coming. First of all, Cashman knows that if he packages off Kennedy in the Sabathia trade he will be admitting that he was wrong in the Santana deal. Which one would you rather have?
Secondly other teams have better trade chips to offer (the Yankees prime chips, Kennedy and Hughes, are hurt after flopping in the show). Both Los Angeles teams have more major league talent to deal
Rich Harden makes Phil Hughes look as durable as Cal Ripken by comparison
Joe Blanton isn't the answer.
It reminds me of the 2006 Red Sox when the rotation was in such tatters that when the kid from the Make a Wish foundation threw out the first pitch, Francona would ask him "Um could you stay on the mound and give us 4 or 5 innings?"
But of course in 2006 I was angry that Theo didn't get reinforcements and kept these worthless minor leaguers like Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Manny DelCarmen and Jacoby Ellsbury.
One step back... a few forward in 2007
But the AL Wild Card race is wide open. Does anyone think the Rays are going to keep this up? Or that the Tigers pitching will turn around? Or the A's will play at this level?
The Yankees could still make the post season... with the team in its current state
Hey Mets ownership! Was this your plan? Have Willie Randolph fly 3,000 miles to Anaheim (sorry Angels, that's where you play) win a game and then fire him in the middle of the night?
You couldn't have let him go on Sunday before he packed up for a cross country flight? You couldn't have put Jerry Manuel in the managers seat to start a series?
And you fire him late at night... so it doesn't hit the front page of the morning edition. Obviously that's the motivation. Why else would they wait until last night? What they were so upset by the Mets 9-6 win that they decided to make an impulse firing?
And the fact that Willie became the scapegoat for this team is amazing. It was Willie's fault that the team resembles an old timers team and the minor league cupboard was so bare that they need to unearth Trot Nixon?
And they replace him with Jerry Manuel? A guy with an identical demeanor and as Willie's bench coach was giving strategy advice to him.
Let's fire the manager but keep the guy who was advising him.
Looking back to 2006 when they were an extra base hit from the World Series... if Carlos Beltran swings the bat, Willie would still have a job.
Well at least people riding on the subways to work won't be reading about it.
David Mailman. He's a left handed hitting outfielder and first baseman drafted out of high school in North Carolina.
He spent 2007 in the Gulf Coast low A league and now plays for the Greenville Drive. He's hitting only .236 with 1 homer, but scouts love his swing.
So why is he my new favorite prospect? His name is David Mailman!
Has there ever been a more perfect name for a potential sweet hitting outfielder? How many "Mailman Delievers!" headlines can you imagine? How many times in a rain soaked game can he get a big hit with the headline "Neither Rain nor Snow nor Dark of Night" headline.
If he gets into a bench clearing brawl... the headline would be "Going Postal!"
And how perfect would he be in Boston? According to Sons of Sam Horn, his parents are big Sox fans.
Plus you'd have a Mailman in Boston... the connections to Cliff Clavin would be endless. John Ratzenberger can throw out the first pitch every other night.
So we here at Sully Baseball will keep an eye out for David Mailman. He needs no nickname... not even Dave.
Get that swing going, Mailman. Get yourself up to Fenway. Remy will interview your parents, the headlines will pile up. You are a folk hero in the making.
Come on Mailman... time for a special delivery! (See how easy it is?)
The biggest basketball game for me in the last 22 years was on. My Celtics, who I stuck with during the Dino Raja- M. L. Carr - Rick Pitno years, could clinch their first title since 1986 against the Lakers IN LOS ANGELES on Father's Day
Here was my Father's Day dilemma:
I've been working in Los Angeles and living with my brother in Santa Monica, but my family is still up in Silicon Valley.
I was back up north for Father's Day and had to fly back Sunday night to be able to get to work.
And I was going to be in the air during the 4th quarter... So how do I get to watch the 4th quarter with the same excitement and intensity as if it were live.
I needed a plan and it needed to be mapped out like that briefing before the Rebels attacked the Death Star. First of all, I needed to set my brother's TiVo to record Sunday's game on Friday before leaving for San Jose.
Next, on Sunday night I watched NOTHING about the game. Not tip off... not the first half. I spent time with my kids and earned good daddy points.
Then, off to San Jose airport. Had headphones on and avoided that bar next to California Pizza Kitchen. The game was on... but I was avoiding it.
On the airplane obviously I was safe from getting the score. The woman I was sitting next to asked me if I knew anything about the game and I said I don't want to hear anything, explaining my strategy.
We touched down in Burbank and I had my escape plan mapped out.
1. Call my brother and make sure the game recorded and that the TV was on a different channel when I walked in. CHECK. 2. Walk down the ramp and put headphones on full blast. 3. I had no bags checked so I could just walk past the bars showing the game and the baggage carriers without overhearing anything. 4. Go to the self parking lot right across the baggage carrier and grab the car. 5. Do NOT put the radio on when driving from Burbank to Santa Monica. Listen to CDs. Probably Talking Heads Remain in Light. 6. When driving into Santa Monica, avoid Wilshire, even though that goes directly to my brothers place. The reason being if the Celtics won, people would be celebrating in front of Sonny McLean's. Best take Montana. 7. Get into Ted's place and watch the game with my phone off. No crazed calls from my Celtics buddies wanting to celebrate while I am in a time warp.
It was a great plan. It would have worked... if not for a twit.
I was still on the plane and had just hung up the phone with my brother and was fishing through my bag for my headphones when I heard it.
Some 20 something girl squealed loudly "Oh my God! The Lakers won!" That was it. Plan destroyed.
I looked around pissed off trying to figure out who said it. I bet she wasn't even a big fan. I bet her next question was going to be "How did Shaq play?"
Shouldn't that be part of 21st century etiquette now? You don't just announce stuff like ball game scores or who got voted off American Idol because someone might be TiVoing it.
And yeah, TiVo is now a verb.
I called Ted and told him to erase it. "You're not going to watch it?" He asked. "Yeah, I really want to watch the Celtics lose."
If the Celtics had won, and I found out because the same Valley Girl said "Oh my God... the Lakers lost" there would have been blood spilled.
Every year during inter league play you hear the same nitwits ask the same stupid question:
Has Interleague Play lost its luster?
And those who say "yes" use the same argument. "Who can get excited about watching the Nationals and the Mariners play? What kind of rivalry is that?"
The problem with that logic is who can get excited by the Nationals or Mariners playing ANYONE this year?
And the team anti inter league play people used to always pick on was Tampa Bay. But guess what? They are good this year and if they breezed into a National League city, those fans would see one of the most exciting teams in the AL up close.
Also it's a slow time for baseball at this point. The season is about 1/3 old... too old to have the thrill of a new season, but not old enough to think the playoff picture is forming.
So why not inject some juice into it. OK, bad use of words. I hope Giambi isn't reading this.
And beyond the Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, A's-Giants and Dodgers-Angels match ups, sometimes you get a magical moment like Griffey's return to Seattle.
Or the coolest series of the weekend... Both the Pirates and Orioles are hovering around .500. Yes a big step up from rock bottom expectations but neither team has a realistic chance for a division title.
The Orioles are 8 games out and the Pirates are 11 games out and the idea of them making up more than a week's worth of games in the standings is a stretch.
So two mediocre teams meet up in June... and played an electric series.
In the first game the Pirates built up a 6-1 lead but the Orioles chipped away and wound up taking the lead in the 6th and winning 9-6.
And they did it wearing the smiling bird cap that they should NEVER have stopped wearing.
Game 2 was one of those wild back and forth games that if it was a Sox/Yankees game would be put in the ESPN Classic vault.
4 homers by the Pirates, each one giving the Pirates the lead including a 2 run shot by Andy LaRoche in the 9th.
Clutch doubles by Brian Roberts and Alex Cintron and a homer by Nick Markakis to give the Orioles the lead.
A runner thrown out at the plate, a total of 3 blown saves and little used Oscar Salazar hitting a game tying homer in the bottom of the 9th... finally the game ended when Ramon Hernandez made up for being nailed at the plate in the 6th with a game ending single.
Sunday night's game was just as thrilling with the Orioles homering to come back from a 4-0 hole capped by Brian Roberts 2 out bottom of the 9th game tying shot.
The Pirates came back and won in the 10th when LaRoche again came through with an RBI single.
3 exciting games that included reunions from the 1979 World Series and lots of clips from that series and the 1971 World Series.
47,000 in the ballpark on Friday... crowds in the 30s the other days. Electricity, memories and great baseball between two mediocre teams at the 1/3 mark in the season.
But I want to pay tribute to another baseball fan... my maternal grandfather, the late Dr. R. Edward Vioni. (pictured on the left.)
Let me rephrase that. He was a big Yogi Berra fan. He loved Yogi Berra, the loyal Italian that he was, and rooted for the Yankees as long as he was there. When Casey Stengel was let go and they put Ralph Houk in as manager instead of Yogi, he evidently was not happy.
When the Yankees won the 1961 and 1962 World Series and the 1963 pennant he would grumble to my mom "They are winning IN SPITE of Ralph Houk."
Grandpa Vioni was elated when Yogi became manager in 1964 but when the Yankees fired him after the 1964 World Series, he swore off the Yankees.
When Yogi joined the Mets as a coach (and played in a handful of games) in 1965, grandpa became a full blown Mets fan. He loved them in 1969 (when Yogi was the first base coach) and loved them in 1973 (when Yogi was manager)
My first memories of grandpa was in the mid 1970s when Yogi returned to the Yankees as a coach for Billy Martin.
Needless to say he started following the Yankees again. Grandpa died in 1979... he never saw George fire him in 1985.
When Yogi refused to come back to Yankee Stadium all of those years, refusing many Steinbrenner olive branches, I remember my mom saying "Good for him."
I know she was speaking for her dad.
I always wondered what grandpa would have done in 1986 when Yogi became a coach for the Houston Astros.
I know as a Red Sox fan and one who has taken too muchglee from Yankee losses and was a smidge hard on them during my HBO appearances that when I start to talk about the Yankees and dispense advice, I need to walk carefully.
In fact I need to watch every step like Indiana Jones walking in that temple at the beginning of Raiders where stepping on the wrong rock meant a dart in the ankle.
I thought last year that Mike Mussina was toast, and I made my opinion clear.
He was in his late 30s, 3 of the previous 4 seasons were disappointing and 2007 was a disaster. He pitched his way out of the rotation and finished with an ERA in the 5's.
He was old, expensive and fading. He was worthless.
And now with today's win in Houston he has run up a 10-4 record with a respectable sub 4 ERA. He's pitched well his last 4 games and has been surprisingly effective and durable since the disastrous 2/3 of an inning start against Baltimore on May 20th.
He has value. And his contract is up at the end of the year.
Here's what I think the Yankees should do with him... and I say this as a baseball observer and not a Red Sox fan.
They should trade him... right now.
(Sully prepares for the flurry of angry posts calling me a classless Boston fan.)
Seriously... think about it. This is supposedly a transition year for the Yankees. Why else would they not make a trade for Johan Santana? Why else would the regular season be treated as Joba Chamberlain's private spring training?
Yeah yeah yeah I know... the Yankees never rebuild... they go for it every year... Prince Hank Steinbrenner wouldn't allow it to happen... not in the last year of the Stadium.
I'm not talking about trading away Jeter, A-Rod, Rivera, Johnny Damon or some other keystone of the team.
I'm talking about dealing a guy who was nearly booed out of town last season. I'm talking about taking advantage of a small window of opportunity where a guy who had a terrific career could yield a potentially usable part.
If this is a transition year, then make a transition! Mussina isn't coming back next year. That's a given. So clearly he isn't a part of any long term solution.
And if it looks like he has recaptured a little magic, why not sell high when any Yankee fan knows another 2/3 of an inning performance might be around the corner.
Pettite and Wang are pitching well and between Rasner, Joba and a guy off the scrap heap like Freddie Garcia, the Yankees could have a 5 man rotation for the transition.
The National League is all bunched together and the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers and yes even the Mets all could be a starting pitcher away from a pennant winner.
Imagine prying loose a young player from them. A player that might be a year or two away but comes up big when called up.
Players like John Smoltz, Jeff Bagwell, Jay Buhner, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Randy Johnson, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, David Ortiz, Ryne Sandberg, Grady Sizemore and Dontrelle Willis were all toss ins in trades by teams betting on here and now.
Imagine its 2010 and a dynamic new outfielder, or first baseman, or reliever is up from Scranton and sparking excitement in the new Yankee Stadium.
And all of you Yankee fans are asking "Where did THIS guy come from?" And someone replies "They got him for Mike Mussina back in 2008!"
And everyone would laugh and say "What a steal! Cashman is a genius! Too bad Hank fired him right after the 2008 All Star Break."
I say it is all reward and no risk. This is the last moment of value for him, and if this is a one step back to take two steps forward than dealing Mussina makes all the sense in the world.
So I ask you, Kat O'Brien and my friends at the Newsday blog... would you try and entice a National League team now?
How about you, Pride of the Yankees? Are you willing to bet that Mussina's last 3 1/2 months as a Yankee will be at this level and the Yanks are truly a championship level team?
Would the folks at Bronx Banter see the long term advantages of trying to fleece an NL team taking advantage of parity?
Does Charlie at the brilliantly named Chuck Knoblog think that the Yankees could benefit from a complete focus on the future the way my Red Sox didn't trade away youth in 2006 to have it benefit in 2007 and beyond?
But come on! In a season that the Mets have already extended the baseball reference entry for Fernando Tatis and dusted off Robinson Cancel for the first time since 1999, are you really tellingg me their best answer at this critical time is Christopher Trotman Nixon?
Willie Randolph's job should be secure and Omar Minaya should be the one looking at craigslist for a new gig.
Obviously the story today was Youk being the hero in his Cincy home coming.
And also Wakefield pitching his 4th consecutive solid start. And Okajima continuing his slide... and Papelbon's rare blown save... and Crisp proving the best move the Sox made in the offseason was NOT trading him... and the fact that J. D. Drew is under the impression that this is a contract year.
But I want to talk about Craig Hansen. Remember him? The Long Island kid drafted out of St. John's in 2005 and played on the big club that year.
The guy who was supposed to be the next Keith Foulke before that title went to Papelbon?
The guy who didn't play a game on the big league team and looked to be the lone bust of the great 2005 draft for the Sox, which included Ellsbury, Buchholz and Jed Lowrie.
Well he is back on the club now and while his first bunch of outings looked dreadful (9 appearances in he had a 7.20 ERA) he is pitching better.
And today he got the save that Papelbon couldn't nail down. Granted, it was a shaky inning with a hit and a walk before getting Brandon Phillips to fly out deep with what could have been a game winning homer... but it was a save nonetheless.
And 7 of his last 8 appearances have been scoreless.
Is he putting it together? Did the former college stud need 2 1/2 seasons on the farm to harness his stuff?
If the answer is yes, then a couple of wonderful things could happen. First of all this could relieve some pressure off of Okajima, who might very well be a one year wonder.
Secondly it would address the issue of bullpen depth without making a deal. We don't want another Eric Gagne deal, do we?
And thirdly it could really make the Red Sox foundation of a bunch of home grown pitchers even stronger.
OK, we are looking at our #1 and #2 starters as being Beckett and Dice-K... not exactly products of the farm.
But asking Lester, Buchholz and Masterson to be a solid 3-4 and 5 in the rotation is pretty impressive. As is Papelbon closing and Del Carmen and possibly Hansen giving the bullpen depth.
And with Daniel Bard and Mike Bowden still in the system, there could be more home grown pitching on this staff than I remember in all of the 1990s.
Steven Spielberg and John Salley! And Spielberg is evidently talking Salley's ear off.
SPIELBERG: I really think that the Piston teams had such an extraordinary bench. When you think about you think about a starting 5 with Isiah, Dumars, Lambier, Dantley and Aguirre... and you'd have Rodman, Edwards, Mahorn, Vinnie the Microwave Johnson and yourself coming off the bench. I mean you'd constantly be putting a playoff caliber rotation out there. I know the Jordan Bulls teams won more games, but I'd take that 1989 team in ANY head to head matchup.
Then again I was in New York during the 2004 ALCS so maybe there is something to being on unfriendly soil during my teams unlikely wins.
I was at work last night and I clicked on the Yahoo ticker and I saw the Celtics were down by something like 24 points in the first quarter and I thought "Yeeesh. Better concentrate on work!"
I threw my token "Don't worry" to pessimist Celtic fans Dan Cronin and Michael Bernard all the while thinking "Well, maybe we'll win game 5."
I finished work and it was already the 3rd quarter and the Celtics were still getting walloped.
I drove to the gym I go to in Sherman Oaks and I didn't even put the game on. I don't need to hear the home announcers going nuts and heaping more praise on Kobe.
Now the gym I go to is in a mall in Sherman Oaks and is the Magic Johnson Gym. Therhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife is something odd about a Celtics fan watching a Celtics/Lakers final in an establishment run by Magic Johnson.
Needless to say all of the TVs were on the game. I checked in, looked up to see how badly the Celtics were getting creamed.
The game was tied. Somewhere in the 10 minute drive from my office to the gym the Celtics went on a run. And now it was a game.
I didn't want to take my eyes off the tv and I weighed the pros and cons of getting dressed right there in the lobby. I could look around and say "Hey folks, I'm going to be naked for a second. Hope that is cool."
Changed I got on a treadmill. I figured with my heart already racing, it is better to watch the game while running and burning calories instead of going to and being tempted by nachos or a lobster roll.
So I watched the last quarter running 6.5 miles per hour with my heart in my throat... all the while trying hard not to cheer too loudly.
I was indeed in Magic's gym.
When Ray Allen did that layup past Vujacic, I couldn't resist a yelp.I didn't care if Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis and Mychal Thompson were standing behind me.
The drive back I got to hear all of the Laker fans calling into the local show much like I heard the stunned in denial Yankee fans in 2004.
I don't think it reflects on me well that I get a perverse pleasure out of that.
I called my friend and current Santa Monica resident Kenny Mack, who I went to Weston Middle School with, to gloat.
He said he wanted to take a victory lap for both the Celtics and Obama. I warned him... neither the Celtics nor Obama have won yet.
And let me tell you something else... the Lakers and John McCain... neither are the Colorado Rockies. Both have a shot to win.
So my Celtic fans friends out there, I don't want to hear ANYTHING about "I want to win it in Boston."
NO! I want to win THIS SUNDAY!!!! I want to win in front of Jack! I want Kobe to do his Jeter 1,000 yard "I thought I was going to win so many more titles" stare. I want Phil to say "F this, I'm out."
I want a stunned silent Staples Office Supply Center. I do not want this sleeping giant getting up!
And if Kobe's press conference was any indication, the Giant might have a hangover. OK, back to baseball.