Friday, May 21, 2010

LIVE BLOG: New York Yankees at New York Mets

Good evening from wonderful Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where River & Sunset brings you the second live blog of the 2010 season! Let's do some overview stuff, shall we?

State of the Yankees
Not good. The Bombers have lost three straight and eight of 12 overall. They are a season-worst five games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East. Injuries have played a major factor in the slump: Curtis Granderson, Alfredo Aceves, and Jorge Posada are all on the disabled list, while Nick Swisher, Marcus Thames, and (secretly) Derek Jeter are all playing through pain.

State of the Mets
Worse. The Mets managed to beat the Nationals last night, but are 6-13 in May and in the basement of the NL East. Manager Jerry Manuel now openly keeps his last will and testament on his desk. Nobody is going to Citi Field, and to make matters worse, the entire fanbase seems to have turned on David Wright, whose only the marquee player of the franchise. In the defense of Mets supporters, Wright is on a Rob-Deer-On-Acid strikeout pace.

7:05 - Javy Vazquez is the subject of YES' lazily-named second segment called "Segment 2". There's no telling how Vazquez will pitch, but his last start against Detroit was solid. He struck out Kevin Youkilis in an awkward relief appearance on Monday. The Mets counter with an Asian dude who I'm not prepared to try to spell his name just yet. My plan as of right now: He gets knocked out of the game early and we can just move on.

7:09 - Oh my God, the game hasn't even started yet and that awful Lexus commercial with the mind-destroying acoustic guitar picking intro has already run twice. I'm officially keeping count.

7:12 - File under "Only The Mets". Team commemorates 2000 NL championship by having John Franco throw the first pitch to Mike Piazza and Mike Piazza's acne-ridden back. Maybe it's me, but I probably would've held off on this celebration until you weren't playing the team that beat you in the World Series that year. Not much of a "gotcha" moment there.

7:14 - Al Leiter just commented that the Mets' starter was teammates with Hideki Matsui in Japan for three years. Wondering if Matsui ever shared his massive collection of porn?

7:15 - First pitch is a swinging strike by Derek Jeter. The captain refuses to be a convential leadoff hitter in any way.

7:16 - Boy can hit, though. Sharp single to right does the job. Jeter entered game as .386 career hitter vs. Mets.

7:18 - Wait, the Mets didn't retire Tom Glavine's No. 47? Shocking.

7:19 - I said it earlier today, and I'll say it again. Mark Teixeira needs to start performing at a higher level. Don't be fooled by his RBI total, he's having a poor season. That inning-ending double play makes him 1-for-his-last-16.

7:22 - Kevin Freaking Russo is starting in left field for the Yankees tonight. I mean, wow. Don't know about you, but I'm starting to think letting Johnny Damon go was a bad idea.

7:28 - Vazquez has a good first inning, working around a one-walk by striking out Jason Bay and Ike Davis. So far so good.

7:36 - Michael Kay really dredging up details about the Mets kicking Al Leiter out the door after the 2004 season. Awkward.

7:38 - Okay, I give. The Mets' starter is named Hisanori Takahashi. Anyway, Mr. T—and that's his name from here on out—has little trouble with the Yankees in the first two innings. Get the feeling this has the making of a "The Yankees just can't hit against guys they haven't seen before!" game? You ain't alone.

7:45 - Two scoreless innings, four strikeouts for Vazquez. Back when the Yankees were healthy and plowing through the league like Lindsay Lohan on a pile of white powder, Vazquez's struggles were nothing more than an interesting subplot. Now, with the rest of the rotation coming back to orbit, they need him to step up. So far so good.

7:48 - Kay makes a good point about Francisco Cervelli. With Posada on the shelf for a month, we're about to find out how far along Cervelli really is. Will he be exposed by playing everyday? An interesting subplot to track.

7:49 - Cervelli walks a very impressive walk.

7:50 - A single to left-center and Leiter rants about how surprised he is that Vazquez was swinging away. Only problem was that it was Kevin Russo at the plate. Kay tried to save him, but the damage was already done. Amazing.

7:54 - Jeter does his patent ass-popout move, but it's ineffective as he's called out on strikes. That brings up Brett Gardner with runners on second and third and two outs.

7:55 - My God, Citi Field is huge. Jason Bay was nuts to willingly choose this as his home field.

7:58 - Gardner bounces out to third to end the threat. Bad job by the top of the order there.

7:59 - Mind-Destroying Lexus Commercial Count: 3

7:59 - Mind-Destroying Lexus Commercial Count: 4 (seriously)

8:00 - Mmmmm, our first Kim Jones stand-up of the night. Looking typically frisky in a black dress. Casual but classy. Fun fact: Michael Kay's Wikipedia page said for a long time that the two had dated at some point. Kay discredited this on the air last season, but not without a tear going down his cheek.

8:02 - That's eight in a row retired by Vazquez. We head to the top of the fourth scoreless.

8:10 - Nice running gag of the YES crew attempting to find photos of Al Leiter in the ballpark.

8:13 - Robinson Cano just misses a home run to right, then scorches a double off the left-field wall. That man can hit. Once again, the Yankees have second and third with one out with Swisher and Cervelli coming up.

8:14 - Mr. T makes Swisher look awful on back-to-back changeups to go down 0-2.

8:16 - Swisher looks absolutely terrible in striking out on a third changeup. Yankees asking to lose this game if they let another golden opportunity pass them by.

8:18 - Cervelli skies out to center and Yankees are officially asking for it. Better hope Vazquez keeps putting up zeroes. I need a beer.

8:23 - Poor Jason Bay. He crushes a ball that would have been bouncing on Lansdowne Street outside Fenway Park. Here at Citi Field, it doesn't even reach the warning track.

8:26 - You gotta love Cisco The Kid. Pulls a Tony Pena, throwing out Alex Cora on a snap throw from his knees. Don't say anything, but Vazquez has now completed four innings without a hit.

8:30 - If you're Kevin Russo, you couldn't ask for a better pitcher to face in your first real big league action. A junkballer who lives on his offspeed stuff, he probably saw these guys constantly at Triple-A. I predict things take a sudden turn for the worse against Johan Santana on Sunday.

8:38 - Surprise, surprise. The Yankees can't hit a bum that they've never seen before. Jeter waves feebly at Mr. T's 400th changeup of the night to end the top of the fifth.

8:42 - David Wright strikes out again. He looks like a lost little puppy. I'd feel bad, but then I remember back in 2006 when Mets fans kept telling me Wright was better than A-Rod.

8:45 - I'll take the heat for the no-no jinx there. Angel Pagan floats a single into short center for the Mets' first hit. Let's see if Vazquez can keep it together here.

8:47 - Who is this guy? Vazquez gives up his first hit, then proceeds to induce a 4-6-3 DP. Scoreless through five.

8:52 - Poor Mets fans. Oliver Perez warming up in the bullpen. Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira steps to the plate, 1-for-his-last-16.

8:53 - Make that 1-for-17. Teixeira is killing them. My fantasy team, too.

9:01 - Who else knows the Yankees are going to blow this one? After A-Rod's two-out double, Cano strikes out to strand yet another man in scoring position. Time for another beer.

9:04 - Tough night for Al Leiter. He butchers the promo for the upcoming episode of CenterStage with "Schmichael Tyson". Why don't you sit out a couple plays out, Al?

9:05 - I don't want to jinx the guy, but is it just me or has A-Rod gotten over is yips when it comes to popups? The corpse of Jeff Francoeur hits a hiiiigh popup in foul territory that Rodriguez gobbles up without a problem. Let's focus on the positives, people!

9:07 - I hope Michael Kay realizes how ridiculous he sounds when he calls Gary Matthews Jr.'s demise "mysterious". Um, Mike? He's a known steroid cheat. He got his big contract with the Angels by using drugs to cheat. Are you playing coy or do you really not know this? Either way, weak sauce. Matthews strikes out, because that's what Matthews does.

9:09 - Good lord, the Mets stink. Javier Vazquez gets the corpse of Jose Reyes to popout to short and he's through six shutout innings on just 70 pitches. I don't think Vazquez has even broke a sweat.

9:12 - Mr. T is done after six shutout innings and roughly 12,000 changeups. Elmer Dessens into the game.

9:14 - What is it with Mets second baseman and the Yankees? After Swisher's leadoff single, Cervelli chops one to second and Cora fields it and airmails it over Reyes' head and into short left field. Yanks are set up, second and third with nobody out and Russo up.

9:16 - Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Russo! West Babylon's own picks up his second Major League hit, smoking a two-run double into the right-field corner. A huge hit with Vazquez on deck. 2-0 Yankees.

9:18 - Michael Kay seems to get a bit, um, excited when Vazquez gets down bunts. Somebody hose that man down.

9:20 - Man, Vazquez can't get out of his own way this year. He just exits the dugout with a potential blister situation. You have to figure his night is done.

9:22 - Meanwhile, Oliver Perez is horrendously booed upon coming out of the bullpen. Being a Mets fan seems like a lot of fun.

9:26 - That's 1-for-18 for Teixeira. Somebody needs a day to clear his head.

9:28 - Bob Lorenz and John Flaherty both going with the sleaves rolled up look from the YES studios in Connecticut. Wonder if this is a demand of the director. Very snazzy.

9:30 - As suspected, Vazquez is done after just 70 pitches. Certainly disappointing as in control as he was. Sour ending aside, six shutout innings and two straight strong starts for the right-hander.

9:32 - Girardi up to his Genius Joe antics, giving David Robertson just two batters before summoning Marte to face Ike Davis. With Robertson in his best groove of the season, this was a puzzling move to me.

9:38 - BRB, have to change my pants after watching Joba emerge from bullpen. I was at Monday's game and still have nightmares.

9:42 - Poor David Wright. Joba strikes him out looking on a 3-2 pitch.

9:46 - Great bounce back performance by Joba, who fans Wright then Angel Pagan to hold the Yankees' 2-0 lead. My guess is Joba is back out there in the eighth, with Mo warming if he gets in any trouble.

9:54 - I'm trying to figure out where this season has the potential to rank in terms of the most depressing Mets seasons of my lifetime. The worst I can remember is 1993, when Vince Coleman was throwing firecrackers at fans and the team lost 103 games. Second would probably be last year, an all-around stinker loaded with injuries while their crosstown rivals marched to a title. From a purely fan frustration standpoint, this season has some real promise. Someone hide the fireworks.

9:57 - Vazquez bruised his finger putting down a bunt. You can't make this stuff up. First Wang, now this. I think the Yankees should just accept an automatic out when the pitcher's spot comes up in interleague play.

10:07 - An extended battle with Rod Barrajas to start the eighth ensures that we won't see Chamberlain until Sunday at the earliest.

10:13 - Mind-Destroying Lexus Commercial Count: 5

10:14 - Great to see Joba come back strong after that abortion against the Red Sox on Monday. Now we'll see if Mo can get straightened out as well.

10:14 - Mind-Destroying Lexus Commercial Count: 6

10:15 - X-Rays on Vazquez's finger are negative. Good news to say the least.

10:16 - I'm sorry, a 2-0 game shouldn't take 3.5 hours. There's something wrong here.

10:22 - Yanks offense terrible tonight. Mo gets the ball with a 2-0 lead.

10:26 - Question: What in God's name has happened to Jose Reyes? Is that even the same dude? Yanks two outs from win.

10:28 - Pagan waves feebly at a Mo cutter and bounces back to the box. Two outs.

10:30 - Poor Jason Bay. He absolutely destroys a ball to left and he still can't get it out. Off the wall for a double and the Mets are still alive.

10:31 - Mo still ain't Mo, leaving a fastball over the middle and Ike Davis rips a double into the gap to cut it to 2-1. Comes down to Rivera vs. Wright. Pretty solid drama here at the end.

10:32 - Poor David Wright. The little boy lost—probably terrified of striking out to end it—swings at the first pitch he sees and grounds out to second to end it. The GOAT looks fallible right now, but he gets it done to snap the Yankees' three-game losing streak.

Thanks for reading everybody. River & Sunset now 3-0 lifetime with live blogs. We'll do this again soon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yankees Fighting Through Rough Patch

Beginning misguided rant in 3...2...1...

The New York Yankees and My9 are a match made in hell.

I wish I had the statistics to back this up—and let's face it, a rudimentary once-over of the schedule would probably settle this—but to me, the Yankees always seem to play poorly when their games are broadcast on the redheaded stepchild of free television.

I suppose this makes sense. My9 is the same network that pays its bills on the strength of Living Single reruns. Ernie Anastos is the face of their news team, a solid 15 years since he lost his CBS fastball. Russ Salzberg is the sports anchor. Russ Salzberg people!

That said, the My9 Yankees telecast is identical to a YES telecast, right down to Michael Kay's massive skull and Ken Singleton yelping "Look out!" for every pitch that misses the inside corner.

Perhaps I'm just grasping at straws to rationalize how the Yankees could look so poor in losing their second straight to the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

Wednesday's series-opener was one thing, every team gets jumped sometimes, but Thursday was...different.

Speaking of different, former Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges just came out with a memoir entitled, Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted.

Honestly, This Is What I'm Talkin' About, Arnold probably would've sufficed, but the guy is a recovering crack addict. We'll give him a pass.

In honor of the fallen and now risen teen idol, I present to you Killing Me: From Baseball's Best to Walking Wounded to Wait, the Freaking Blue Jays Are One Game Behind Us?

Chapter 1: The Pitching Has Come Back Down To Earth

We all knew it couldn't last, but with injuries savaging the starting nine, the recent downturns of Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, and now Andy Pettitte make winning games very difficult business.

CC Sabathia was hogtied and robbed of a 'W' by Joba Chamberlain in his last start, so he's the notable exception here. Carsten Charles will have to be even better than he was against Boston as the rest of the rotation undergoes a natural market correction. Besides, the suddenly overtaxed bullpen could use a couple of those Milwaukee Brewer-era complete games from the big fella.

Chapter 2: Mark Teixeira Is Still Not Mark Teixeira

Don't be fooled by a few big games that inflated his run production totals, Teixeira is still not himself, and I guarantee he would admit as much.

Unfortunately, the Yankees need their first baseman to get back to being his consistent robotic self now more than ever.

Teixeira is in the midst of his latest funk, hitless in 12 at-bats before he singled off the top of the right-field wall in his final at-bat on Thursday. Hopefully the hit was a sign of things to come.

Chapter 3: Nick Johnson Brian Cashman has fouled up the entire lineup

Remember all the offseason discussion about whether or not Cashman made the right move replacing Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole with Nick Johnson? Well, it took exactly 1.5 months to settle that debate and put a little black mark on Cash's resume in the process.

Cashman showed no contrition after news of Johnson's jacked wrist was reported, even going as far as saying that Johnson was "a $15 million a year player if he didn't have this history of injuries."

This is the equivalent of Todd Bridges saying he was "the next Will Smith if he didn't have this history of crack and whores."

To be honest, I'm not sure who would be more believable.

Chapter 4: Are The Rays Really This Good?

I'm inclined to say no, that it's more a red-hot Rays team catching the Yankees at the exact wrong time.

But even if the Rays are playing a bit over their head right now, they're putting on a frightening display of their ability. Their starters go deep into games, they have a loaded lineup, they run like hell, and catch everything.

You can even float the theory that Yankees caught a huge break in 2009 as the Rays—essentially the same team as the 2010 version—nursed a post-pennant hangover.

Now they're recharged, hungry—and aware the offseason will bring big roster changes—armed with a serious sense of urgency.

(I think I need to go lie down.)

Chapter 5: Overcoming the Injury Bug

The Yankees are all sorts of beat up. No one feels bad for them, I guarantee you this. But with the Red Sox and Rays in the rearview mirror and a six-game road trip against the Mets and Twins coming up, this isn't going to get any easier.

(Well maybe with the Mets it's a little easier, but still...)

Realistically, .500 ball is a reasonable goal during the stretch, which means you have to hope that immortals like Randy Winn, Juan Miranda, and Marcus "Look Out, Bat!" Thames can come up with a big hit every so often.

(Need to lie down again...)

Meanwhile, I hope we're not witnessing the start of the breakdown of one Georgie Posada. With 1,620 regular-season games played and another 110 in the postseason, worrying when his body will finally quit on him is always a concern.

Hopefully the hairline fracture in the foot is just a 3-4 week-type injury, but even Posada said it's something he's never dealt with before.

I know many of you are kneeling at the Cisco The Kid shrine, but trust me, Posada is the glue that holds the middle of the Yankees lineup together. We need him back, and hopefully it's sooner rather than later.

Chapter 6: Take A Deep Breath

We all know this won't last. The team will become whole again and the wins will flow. The plan is to get back to winning series, and there's really no better place to start than at the graveyard that is Citi Field. If nothing else, we can watch angry Mets fans make David Wright cry.

And Yankees fans thought they had it bad...


PROGRAM NOTE! River & Sunset will host its second live blog of the season for tonight's series-opener against the Mets! Visit to follow along. I guarantee at least one Steve Howe cocaine joke.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red (Sox) Alert: Yankees Lengthening Gap Between Rival

Chan Ho Park's legacy in the Bronx can essentially be boiled down to two components: 1) The opening night gastrointestinal issues that made him a YouTube sensation, and 2) His propensity for allowing home runs to the Boston Red Sox.

In other words, Park may struggle to fill pages in his upcoming memoir, "Longballs and Loose Bowels: Stuff I Did With The Yankees Before Being Unceremoniously Designated For Assignment", scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster in June.

Park's meltdown very well could have been the story of Monday's series-opener against the Red Sox at the Stadium, narrowly edging out the moment Girardi pinch-hit Ramiro Pena for Juan Miranda in a move that channeled the Stump Merrill Yankees and gave fans the comfort level of being trapped in a bathroom stall next to, you know, Chan Ho Park.

Thankfully, Jonathan Papelbon was around to wash away all that mess. The Red Sox closer has been an under-the-radar basketcase against the Yankees in his career, and now that his fastball has lost some of its trademark zip, he's become a batting practice pitcher at times. A really good batting practice pitcher, sure, but still a dude throwing BP four-seamers nonetheless.

(Note to Red Sox fans: When your closer is likened to a guy who stands behind an L-screen while he pitches, it may be time to get nervous. But I don't have to tell you fatalistic lot to be nervous about anything, do I?)

Alex Rodriguez unloaded on a Papelbon offering for a game-tying two-run shot in the ninth, and then Marcus Thames—admit it, you still pronounce it Th-AAAAA-mes—put Papelbon out of his misery with a rocket two-run shot of his own.

Commence pie celebration and a little-too-excited Kim Jones.

It's not a loss that will finish off the Red Sox—it's just May after all, Dan Shaughnessy—but it's absolutely damaging in the ongoing realization that the Yankees seem to have become a far, far better team than their rivals to the northeast.

How have the Red Sox fallen so far behind the pace in such a short amount of time? You don't have to look any further than the general managers, which has become a bigger mismatch than Mike Tyson-Peter McNeeley.

Boston GM Theo Epstein took it to Yankees GM Brian Cashman in 2004-2008 period that saw the Red Sox capture their first two World Series titles since 1918.

The Yankees' failure to qualify for the postseason in 2008 seemed to light a fire under Cashman, however.

Of course, he made the obvious moves that only the Yankees can make—signing CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett to multi-year deals in the same offseason—but Cashman also acquired high-character, low-cost contributor Nick Swisher while refusing to deal away homegrown talent like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Brett Gardner.

In the same time period, Epstein dealt away Manny Ramirez, a difficult personality, sure, but still one of the greatest run producers of all-time. He filled the void admirably by trading for Jason Bay, but then let him walk a season after driving in 119 runs. He acquired Victor Martinez in a deadline deal last July, then sold Red Sox Nation on a team built on pitching and defense when Martinez was perhaps the worst defensive catcher in baseball.

The results speak for themselves: The Yankees are 25-13 and a good weekend away from overtaking the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are 19-20, 8.5 games behind the Rays and closer to last place than first.

Are the Red Sox dead? Only the most ardent Boston hater would claim that. There is talent on the roster, especially in the underachieving pitching staff, and the Red Sox—like the Yankees—have the financial wherewith-all to pull off a big-money trade between now and July 31.

But from where we stand now, a once neck-and-neck battle has turned into a blowout. Unless you're Chan Ho Park, it has to give you an easy feeling in your stomach.


Program note: River & Sunset will host its second live blog of the season for Friday's series-opener against the Mets! Visit to follow along. I guarantee at least one Matt Nokes joke.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why We Owe Yankees An Apology on Hughes, Joba

I don't like admitting I'm wrong.

I put admission of error somewhere between getting a novocaine-free root canal and being the Jim J. Bullock center square of a human centipede.

But right is right, and it's starting to look like that's exactly what the Yankees were when it came to their handling of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.

Wednesday night against the Tigers was another big night for the farm system's golden boys. Hughes was brilliant over seven shutout innings, and Chamberlain was throwing gas in the eighth for another scoreless inning of relief.

Hughes is now 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA, and is suddenly a legitimate ace counterpart to CC Sabathia. Chamberlain, meanwhile, has a 2.30 ERA and hasn't allowed a run in his last seven appearances, effectively filling the eighth-inning role that Hughes thrived in last season.

Much has been made of how the Yankees handled both young pitchers.

Some argued that the team asked for too much, too soon from Hughes, who was the second youngest player in the American League when he was called up in April 2007.

Hughes battled injury and vision issues his first two seasons in the Bronx, leading many fans to believe the right-hander was heading down Brien Taylor Boulevard, the one-way thoroughfare for all-hype, no-results prospects.

Fans were even more frustrated when GM Brian Cashman refused to part with Hughes in a trade that would bring Johan Santana from the Twins in December 2007. The idea of a Yankees organization that didn't sacrifice prospects for established veterans was completely foreign to a fanbase weened on 30 years of Steinbrenner rule.

Chamberlain has been an even bigger lightning rod of controversy. He came out of nowhere in August 2007, becoming a phenomenon with his blazing fastball, sharp slider and animated strikeout celebrations.

Despite his fantastic (non-midge related) success out of the bullpen, the Yankees were intent on giving Chamberlain an opportunity as a starter. They looked at the beefy kid from Nebraska and had visions of a young Roger Clemens under their control for seven years.

Unfortunately, it just didn't take. The "Joba Rules"—first instituted in '07 to keep Joe Torre from Proctor-ing the young prospect's arm—was deemed the culprit when Chamberlain wasn't immediately the same intimidator as a starter as he was out of the bullpen.

But by 2009, it started to become clear that it wasn't the Joba Rules that were holding Chamberlain back, but his own mind-set. He struggled to find consistency as a starter, unable to find his top velocity, and unable to control the pace of the game. By the time the postseason rolled around, Chamberlain was back in the 'pen.

The Yankees gave Chamberlain one last shot as a starter in spring training, essentially pitting him against Hughes for the fifth spot in the rotation. It was a no-contest. Chamberlain seemed disinterested in the battle, and Hughes won nearly by default.

That brings us to today. Hughes and Chamberlain are both Yankees, they're both healthy, and they're both succeeding in the roles they were meant to be in. Hughes, the starter and ace-in-training, Chamberlain the reliever and closer-in-training.

There's a parallel universe where Hughes the Minnesota Twin is shutting down the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2010 ALDS and Chamberlain is sitting in the waiting room of Dr. James Andrews with an icepack on his shoulder.

Thankfully, the two young right-handers took the fork down a different path. And while you can argue that the organization took a circuitous route to get to the right place, you can't deny they got there in the end.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

10 Reasons Why Yanks-Sox Series Won't Please Joe West

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox square off this weekend at Fenway Park, the first meeting between the two rivals since umpire Joe West's controversial marks about the slow pace of play between the teams.

Unfortunately for West, and those that have early dinner reservations this weekend, River & Sunset has uncovered a list of 10 reasons why this three-game series will be just as long, if not longer, than the matchups that preceded it.

10) Removing the earthly remains of Big Papi: David Ortiz's body needs to be moved for insurance purposes, and the series won't be able to start until it happens.

Luckily, the one-time star hasn't sniffed the field in years, so his decomposing corpse only needs to be transported from the dugout to a waiting coroner van outside Fenway Park. Cause of death: Inside fastballs under the hands.

9) Nick Johnson's mustache: Females of Boston will surely react like Somerville teens at a New Kids On The Block concert circa 1989 when they see the facial hair the Yankee DH is now sporting. It kind of makes him look like the middle-aged guy sitting in a van across from the elementary school. Look out ladies!

8) Teixeira's about to get hot: I just get the feeling this is the weekend we finally see the real Teixeira show up, extending innings with multiple-pitch at-bats and line drives everywhere. Theo Epstein will once again be reminded that he passed on the star first baseman on financial principles that made no sense. A despondent John Henry will tweet: "uber-bummed we don't have texeira [sic]. #MyGMblewit."

7) Clay Buchholz iPad investigation: You probably thought the Red Sox right-hander got the carnal lust for electronic equipment out of his system during the great Laptop Heist of 2005. Unfortunately, the lure of the massively-popular new Apple device was too much to resist.

6) Derek Jeter Reparations Ceremony: Boston fans will finally embrace the greatness that has been right under their noses since 1996. In a touching moment, Red Sox Nation president Jerry Remy will get on the PA system to announce that no crowd chant has ever been more erroneous than "NO-MAH'S BET-TAH!"

Jeter will forget to mention this moment while laying in bed with a nude Minka Kelly later in the night.

5) Crappy Red Sox Remembrance Night: Speaking of Nomar, the Red Sox already had one bogus celebration of a player their fans turned on, so this weekend the team will take the concept to the next level by just celebrating a random collection of losers.

The group will include: Shea Hillenbrand, Brian Daubach, Rich Gedman, Troy O'Leary, Nick Esasky, Sam Horn, Jody Reed, John Valentin, and Tim Naehring. Calvin Schraldi will throw out the wild first pitch. Rich "El Guapo" Garces needs a crane to be removed from his home, so will instead address the crowd live via satellite.

4) J.D. Fan Club loses it: Stat geeks from across the country, unable to contain themselves over Saber-friendly Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, will dash onto the field in unison before being violently tased by Boston Police. Drew will honor his fallen disciples by going 0-for-2 with two walks.

3) Josh Beckett goes AWOL: Beckett, who was signed to a ridiculous contract extension earlier this season, will continue his descent into mediocrity when he misses a start after falling asleep on pile of extension money. Theo Epstein will counter that Beckett's ability to rest soundly on American currency is an example of his high BABIP and FIP.

2) Fenway scoreboard operator eaten by rats: This one is fairly self-explanatory. Can someone get an exterminator in there? Geez.

1) Pink Hat rebellion: Confused that the team is struggling for the first time since the franchise came into existence in 2004, women and confused teens in pink Boston caps storm the field in protest. Many look to hug Johnny Damon only to be told that he left the team in 2006. More tasing is involved. Lots and lots of tasing.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why Yankees' Road to 28 Will Go Through Trainer's Room

In the simplest of terms, things continue to move along exceedingly well for the New York Yankees.

They won again on Monday, as CC Sabathia cruised through an Orioles lineup that seemed perfectly content with its three-game sweep of the Red Sox.

But if you listened close enough at Yankee Stadium, you could the distressing wail of Father Time trying to throw cold water on New York's 17-8 start.

Jorge Posada missed time last week after being hit by a pitch, and the 38-year-old was forced out of the lineup again yesterday by a strained calf. Mariano Rivera, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found in the ninth inning, a tight left side keeping the 40-year-old closer on the shelf for the night and perhaps longer.

Such is life for the Core Four, where no matter how great you continue to be at baseball, you will also continue to be, well, an old dude.

As the Yankees have exhibited in their first 25 games, the sky is pretty much the limit for this group. They're on pace for a 100-plus-win season, and that's been without much help from Mark Teixeira, Nick Johnson, Javier Vazquez, or Curtis Granderson.

But ultimately, it may be how well the Old Guard holds up that will decide if the Yankees repeat in 2010. Just as they were in last year's championship season, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Posada, and Rivera form the heart and soul of the team.

Beyond the obvious respect and leadership factors, they remain four of the most productive players in the league at their respective positions. Their presence in the lineup remains mandatory.

The injuries to Rivera and Posada illustrate how delicate the situation is, regardless of how wonderful things may appear to be in Yankee Universe. Thankfully, Rivera's issue doesn't appear to be a serious one, but with 40-year-old professional athletes, every ding and dent carries a certain element of the unknown.

Posada's calf ailment is more worrisome. The MRI result indicated that it is a mild strain, but of any of the Core Four, it is the veteran catcher who remains most susceptible to a lightning-fast decline.

The Yankees are fortunate enough to have a strong young backup in Francisco Cervelli, but Posada's bat is the glue that holds the middle of the Yankees lineup together. If you remember the 2008 largely Georgie-free season, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The good news is that today the Yankees called up outfielder Greg Golson and sent down right-hander Mark Melancon, an indication that the team doesn't feel Posada's injury is serious enough to warrant bringing up Jesus Montero for insurance.

But with the Core Four, you always have to be on guard. Every grimace must be met with apprehension. It's simply the price you pay for putting your future in the hands of your past.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.