Category Archives: New York Yankees

RIP Don Zimmer

Farewell to Don Zimmer, colorful baseball lifer. I first remember him from his days managing the Chicago Cubs (The Boys of Zimmer! (well, some of it) when I was a fan because they were on superstation WGN every afternoon. There was his long tenure as Joe Torre’s bench coach with the New York Yankees during their great run in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He even managed the team in 1999 when Torre was getting cancer treatments. He also managed the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, being on the losing end of Bucky “Q@#%&-ing” Dent. Thankfully.

Zimmer finished his playing career with the Washington Senators after his second stop with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nats Enquirer’s post describes how Zimmer found out he was leaving L.A. for D.C. Zimmer had most of his on-field success with the Dodgers, being part of their first two championship teams in Brooklyn and L.A., respectively. He also played for the Cubs and the ’62 New York Mets. He was employed by the Tampa Bay Rays at the time of his death.

The two best obituaries I have seen thus far are from the NY Daily News: Don Zimmer dead at 83: Longtime Yankees bench coach, original Met and former Brooklyn Dodger was baseball lifer and Sports Illustrated Remembering the incredible baseball life of Don Zimmer.

It’s too bad the Nationals never had any sort of Old-Timer’s Day with a bunch of Senators — how would have been to have Zimmer there in a Senators uniform?

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Video: Babe Ruth vs. Walter Johnson and Lou Gerhig on the first day of his streak

Tuesday’s Uni-Watch linked to a great post about a fantastic find – old film Babe Ruth batting against Walter Johnson. It was more than that though, as it was June 1, 1925 which was the day that Ruth came back from the “Belly Ache Heard ’round the World.” It gets even better, not only was The Babe back and facing perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time, but in the dugout is a young player who would pinch hit later that day and then play another 2,129 consecutive games. Lou Gerhig‘s 2,130 game streak began the day of this film.

Before you watch the video, read how Tom Shieber concluded it was June 1, 1925 – Some Very Fortunate Footage (Baseball Researcher)

Great stuff, I’ll see if I can find a cleaner, Olberman-less video tonight.

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Bryce Harper in 2013 Home Run Derby; Harmon Killebrew vs. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in the 1960 TV version

Bryce Harper in the cage
Tonight is annual Home Run Derby as part of the All-Star Game festivities at Citi Field New Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.,. Bryce Harper will be the first Washington Nationals representative in the Derby and his father, Ron, is pitching to him (The Wash. Times).

Err, let’s hope not. I’ll have more to contribute to the Nats’ 1st half later in the week.

Before becoming part of the All-Star experience, “Home Run Derby” was a 1960 television show hosted by Mark Scott. Sluggers from both leagues played against each other, though not necessarily interleague. The venue was Los Angeles Wrigley Field, long-time Pacific Coast League home of the Los Angeles Angels and for 1961, the expansion A.L. Angels’ home. From the Wikipedia entry:

The rules were similar to modern home run derbies, with two notable exceptions. If a batter did not swing at a pitch that was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out. Also, the contests were conducted in a more similar fashion to a baseball game than the modern home run derbies, where a player has a set number of outs before his turn is over.

Batters were given three outs per inning, and the player with the most home runs after nine innings won. The defending champion had the advantage of batting last; his opponent batted first. Any ball not hit for a home run was an out. The player did not have to swing at every pitch, but if he did not swing at it, and the pitch was in the strike zone, that also constituted an out, as did a swing and a miss, but these rarely happened as the pitcher was supposed to be giving the batters good balls to hit. If the players were tied after nine innings, the Derby would go into extra innings as per regular baseball.

Harmon Killebrew was featured on the show twice. The first was against Mickey Mantle, a returning champion.

Killebrew unseated Mantle and won the next week, beating out Rocky Colavito. Ken Boyer ended Killebrew’s first run.

Later in the series, Killer returned and lost to Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants.

Jim Lemon, another Senators outfielder, appeared on the show twice but lost to Hank Aaron and Mays, respectively.

Back to the present, I got to see Harper take batting practice last year. He tends to hit line drives about 200 MPH more than he hits towering fly balls. I hope he approaches it that way. If he wins great, but I’m not too concerned. Just don’t mess up the swing and don’t get hurt, pretty much my hopes for any Nats All-Star.

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60 years ago today Mickey Mantle hit first “tape measure home run” at Griffith Stadium

Yesterday, Thom Loverro of The Wash. Examiner reminded us that today is the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s famed 565-feet home run – Thom Loverro: Sixty years later, still feeling Mickey Mantle’s clout in D.C.

Mantle hit the powerful homer off of Chuck Stobbs of the Washington Senators. The ball blasted past an advertising sign out of Griffith Stadium. New York Yankees P.R. executive Red Patterson decided that it needed to be measured and it became known as a “tape measure home run.” It only became known a generation later that Patterson had merely “walked-off the distance.”

In her definitive biography of Mantle, The Last Boy, author Jane Leavy devoted an entire chapter to this homer. She commissioned a report to see how far it probably went on the fly (not 565 feet) and found the man, Donald Dunaway, who had recovered the ball when he was a sixth grader playing hooky. On her Web site, Leavy has a gallery of the area circa 2008 as well as photos of Dunaway, Griffith Stadium and newspaper clippings from the time. Howard University hospital now occupies the stadium footprint.

Stobbs lived until 2008. For a “the lives they lived” issue of the Post Sunday Magazine, Leavy wrote an obituary for him: Chuck Stobbs | 1929-2008.

UPDATE

@ESPNStatsInfo has posted the modern day equivalent of where it would go, presumably from both sides of the plate:

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Nats new batting practice cap leaked

Washington Nationals Batting Practice caps
First look: new MLB batting practice capsUniWatch on ESPN
The latest MLB batting practice caps have been leaked to Paul Lukas of UniWatch. The Washington Nationals version is above, along with the previous version.

I guess we now know what the Opening Day giveaway is going to be. I don’t care for it – I never liked the contrasting (usually white) front panel on a cap. The back of the cap is blue. Of course, whether it looks good or not is fairly unimportant, since not even the Nats players like wearing their BP caps:

Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper

UPDATE 12.28.2012: In case you were wondering what players think about BP caps, Nats Enquirer noted what Ian Desmond had to say.

Batting practice caps exist to sell more merchandise, yet they are typically ugly. The only decent BP cap the Nats ever had was the original one with the interlocking DC on blue with a red brim. Otherwise, they are nothing I’d want to wear for anything other than yard work to keep the sun out of my eyes and my good cap from getting dirty.

By the way, the New York Yankees new BP caps (they have two) are really awful too.

New York Yankee home batting practice cap

New York Yankee road batting practice cap

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I won’t miss being neutral about the Nats and Yankees

The Swiss colors have been retired.

Some people seemed really upset that I wouldn’t pick between my city and family in the Washington Nationals vs. New York Yankees series this past weekend. Some of those people regularly support the Baltimore Orioles which is the worst baseball team a Washingtonian can cheer for because of Peter Angelos.

I’ll admit, I have a little fun agitating people with neutrality though.

The Yanks swept the Nats, by the way.

My mom was asked by someone who she was cheering for this weekend and scolded when she said the Yankees. That wouldn’t have happened 3 years ago. She explained that she worked for them, which is of course, why I have always cheered for them.

Anyway, want to know how was “doing it wrong” this weekend? WTOP!

Pick one or none guys.

Also, John Sterling of the Yankees radio network:

I gave up on listening to Yankees games over MLB Audio — going from Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler to Sterling and Suzyn Waldman is too hard.

Oh look, Steve Urkel or “Jaleel White” threw out the first pitch for one of the games. Urkel.

A couple of columns:

DICK HELLER: Yankees stir memories of RFK fan-demoniumThe Wash. Times

MITCH RUBIN: I love the Yankees. What if my son loves the Nationals?The Post

This concludes my beige heart bleeding with neutrality — I’m eager for both my teams to go back to helping each other. Nats get the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow night and the Yankees host the Atlanta Braves tonight which in the old days, would have been on TBS and thus available. Miss you das uber station.

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Nats vs. Yankees: My beige heart bleeds with neutrality

My beige heart bleeds with neutrality
Has it already been three years?

The New York Yankees are visiting the Washington Nationals this weekend. I am a fan of both, traditionally permissible because of the distinctly separate leagues in baseball that never played each other. Now, with interleague play configured as it is two teams can count on playing each other at least every 3 years.

You know how people say they are “born ____ fans.” I mean it literally — my mother worked for the Yankees, so they were my team. Her dad was also born and raised on 161st Street in the Bronx which is of course, the street that both version of Yankee Stadium share. He watched it get built and could hear the crowd from his home when Babe Ruth hit a home run. I wore a Yankees cap and jacket throughout high school (which isn’t necessarily a way to impress girls). They remain my AL team.

I used to say the only things that BeltwayLand lacked were skyscrapers, a grand suspension bridge and a baseball team. We finally got the latter and I immediately adopted the Nats as my NL team. It was a no-brainer. I am not counting other the other two, but as recently as 2004, I would have said they were more likely than a DC baseball team.

In short, I’m still making the Selig-ian pass on who I am rooting for this weekend. My beige heart bleeds with neutrality. Am I going to wear a Nats cap and Yanks shirt (or vice versa)? That’s a clown question, bro.

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RIP Mickey Mantle’s restaurant

Yankees cap, Mickey Mantle's glass
Mickey Mantle’s sports bar closingNY Post
Game over for Mickey Mantle’s RestaurantNY Daily News
I ate at Mickey Mantle’s several times, including my 19th birthday. I recall having a tasty strip steak for what seemed like a really good price at the time for New York City. Prior to eating there once (if memory serves) we saw a hanson cab run a red light going down 5th Avenue at 59th Street; middle finger — FULL EXTENSION. If you had put that in a movie, people think you would be overdoing it.

That it lasted so many years is somewhat impressive, particularly since the host hasn’t been around since 1995. As you can see, I still have a pint glass from Mickey’s.

That reminds me — I need to get my copy of “The Last Boy” back. I have been meaning to blog about Jane Leavy’s Mantle biography for some time.

The neutrality series is coming Friday…

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Nats radio: Wondering out loud about the future of Charlie & Dave

UPDATED MAY 21, 2012: Nats: Charlie Slowes says he’s not in the final year of his contract

Remember when Dave Jageler astutely noted that Bryce Harper might be looking to steal home about 10 days ago. Harper did and Jageler’s partner, Charlie Slowes breathlessly called it, even taking a few seconds to let the crowd noise tell the story. It was just another reminder of how great Washington Nationals fans have it when it comes to the radio team. I have called for Charlie & Dave to be granted tenure before and I’m doing it again. The Nats may want to act fast because competition for their services may be pretty strong after the 2012 season. I speculated during spring training that their deals were up and a source indicated that’s the case.

Changes to the New York Yankees Radio Network may be on the way (River City Blues). The rights are in play and play-by-play voice John Sterling and sidekick Suzyn Waldman are not signed past this season. Whether there will be a changing of the guard is nothing but speculation, but if the Yankees decided to go with a new voice, it is not unreasonable to think that there may be interest on the part of Slowes and/or the Yankees. Slowes, after all grew up in the Bronx and Yonkers and graduated from Fordham. I believe Slowes also makes his offseason home in the Tampa Bay area which is where the Yankees have spring training.

Sterling has been with the Yankees for about 20 years. I remember listening to him when he and Michael Kay were partners and liking him, maybe because I was younger and less discerning. These days Sterling is pretty bad. He talks to much about himself and seems engaged only when he gets to use one of his catch phrases (An “A-bomb for A-Rod, A Tex message, The Grandy Man can, etc.) I don’t dislike Waldman as much as others, but she mostly serves as Sterling’s enabler. A change is needed in the Yankee Stadium radio booth (Though the “Here Come the Yankees” instrumental should remain. For all time. Best part of the current broadcasts.). Since I’m a selfish Washingtonian, I don’t want it to be Slowes, though I’d be very happy for him and enjoy listening to him do Yankees games.

I don’t have much insight on Jageler’s situation other than his contract is up. I believe he is still a resident of Rhode Island — his previous job was calling Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) games. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that any opening with the Boston Red Sox would be of interest to a native New Englander. I don’t know the radio situation up there though, so that may not be an issue.

Slowes and Jageler (and the Jack of All Things, Jack Hicks) have been left hanging in the past one contracts, part of the “not doing things well on the business side” that has plagued the Nats. Getting them locked in for a number of years would be a good show of faith to them, plus the fans. Slowes’ “and a curly W is in the books” has contributed greatly to the team’s identity and branding. It is time for the Andy Feffer, the Nats COO and the Lerners to show some commitment to a few important people who kept fans engaged when the team’s play could not.

(Bring back the pancakes ads too)

UPDATE:
FanGraphs says they are the 6th best radio team in the majors

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Nats at home on July 4, why aren’t the Yankees, Phillies?

Today, the Washington Nationals host the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Hosting a day game on Independence Day makes perfect sense for the Nats and I believe they have been assured of regularly having the honor. They should also get Opening day and Memorial Day at home annually too, but I do not know if that will be the case. I had hoped the July 4 game would be a tradition for me, but so far I have only made it to the 2006 one. I saw Ryan Zimmerman’s second career walk-off that day.

Looking at today’s MLB schedule, it strikes as odd, if not wrong, is that neither the New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies are at home today. New York City doesn’t have a single MLB game at all, since the Mets are in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. The Yankees are called the Yankees after all, not too mention that Lou Gehrig Day was on July 4, 1939. The Phillies, well they play in the city the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, so it should be a no-brainer. I might even go along with Baltimore getting an annual July 4 game too, given the part that city played in the War of 1812. I’ll also argue that June 14, Flag Day, should always be an Orioles home game.

The Boston Red Sox are at home today which they should be. They are hosting the Toronto Blue Jays, who should never host a home game on this date. They should always get Canada Day, July 1 at home though and I think they do.

In other July 4 news, the following team owners were born on July 4 — George Steinbrenner of the Yankees, Al Davis of the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Peter Angelos of the Orioles. Apparently, having a team owner born on that day is a guarantee that said owner will be spiteful, vindictive, controversial, but also a champion.*

*Not valid in Baltimore

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