Friday, April 30, 2010

LIVE BLOG: New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox

Check back in at 7:05 as River & Sunset live blogs the opening of the Yankees' six-game homestand.

7:05 - Coming to you live from beautiful Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, for River & Sunset's first live blog of 2010! Why am I live blogging on a Friday night? Well, I turned 30 last week, so I imagine this is what you do when other people are out having fun.

7:08 - The scorching hot Andy Pettitte is on the mound tonight opposite Freddy Garcia in the...wait, Freddy Garcia? I thought this guy retired six years ago.

7:09 - First pitch is a strike, and Michael Kay has a little bounce to his step tonight. You ever wonder what kind of sex life Kay has? Ummm, me neither.

7:11 - Pettitte 13-2 in his last 15 decisions dating back to last September. Who needs HGH? You don't...right Andy? Right???

7:14 - Chicago has two pop-ups behind second and two singles to show for it so far. You know what that means: DFA Robinson Cano immediately.

7:17 - Ever have a guy screw you so egregiously in fantasy that you hate him for the rest of his career? That's Paul Konerko for me. In 2003, I believe he batted -.234.

7:19 - Paul Konerko is taunting me now. A three-run homer—with some help from a douchebag interfering fan—and the Yankees are down 3-0. I'LL GET YOU KONERKO, IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO!!!

7:20 - Carlos Quentin rips one up the gap and the Sox are hitting Pettitte. I'm starting to think this live blog thing was a bad idea. Time for a beer.

7:25 - Derek Jeter steps to the plate to a typically warm ovation. Other than Donnie Baseball, no Yankee in my lifetime has been more adored. That said, Minka Kelly > Kim Mattingly.

7:28 - Sharp single to left for Jeter. You know, the captain's not really a good leadoff man in the conventional sense. If anything, it feels like he's less patient in his first at-bat. That said, he's a hitting machine, so it all works out.

7:30 - Kay states the obvious: If Nick Johnson doesn't start hitting, he's not going to be in that cushy No. 2 hole for too much longer. I'll take it one step further...Johnson's going to be on the bench if he doesn't start swinging the bat.

7:31 - That's now 21 strikeouts for Johnson. He's been an abomination. Speaking of which, LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, MARK TEIXEIRA!!!!

7:33 - If you believe "baseball talk", this will be Teixeira's final crappy game of the season. Tomorrow is May 1, and naturally that means his struggles will automatically end. I find it funny that baseball people I respect actually believe this.

7:35 - A-Rod breaks an 0-for-19 slide with an RBI single to left. 3-1, White Sox.

7:38 - Robinson Cano cannot be stopped. The 2010 AL MVP rips a single through the right side for another RBI. Yankees cut it to 3-2 against The Artist Formerly Known As Freddy Garcia.

7:43 - Kim Jones looking typically frisky in her first stand-up on the night. Really enjoying the necklace/blouse ensemble.

7:46 - Getty just moved this amazing Posada shot. The picture captured the daily moment the catcher has when he realizes he locked down Laura Posada.

7:49 - Long sacrifice fly to right and it's 4-2, White Sox. Pettitte doesn't have it tonight. It will be interesting to see if he can fight through it for five or six innings.

7:55 - Kay partnered up with Al Leiter tonight. Leiter has a habit of getting tongue-tied, but on balance is a solid color guy. David Cone, who the organization deemed too negative last season, was let go in the offseason. No announcer should be let go for calling it like it is, but such are the drawbacks of your team owning the network its games are on. On the plus side, you can watch all the CenterStage your heart can handle!

8:01 - Random aside: I heard from a Guy Who Knows Things that the Red Sox are going to DFA Big Papi on Monday. I'm skeptical, but could you blame them?

8:05 - Kay to Leiter: "You look like Beetlejuice and I look like Kevin Mench. What do you want me to do?" Good times.

8:18 - Here's a question for you: How does Steve Schirripa of Sopranos fame afford front row Legends seats behind home plate? I've had this discussion with several people and we all agree there's no way he made enough money in the seven seasons of the show for such a lavish expense. When I see Lorne Michaels in those seats? Fine. Bruce Springsteen? Sure. But Bobby "Bacala"?

8:23 - Meanwhile, Garcia has retired 10 straight Yankees after a porous start. It's like it's 2001 all over again! Somebody start cranking some Creed! Will youuuu take meeee hiiiiiiiiiigherrrr!!!

8:27 - Funny moment in the booth as Leiter essentially admits he has no idea whether or not he's the host of YES network's Emmy-winning Yankees On Deck. (He is.)

8:36 - I don't know about you guys, but nothing on television today has me more on the edge of my seat than that W.B. Mason commercial with the "To Be Continued..." cliffhanger.

8:43 - Okay, I'd like someone to explain to me how Brett Gardner does not steal 70 bases this year. Kudos to Brian Cashman for giving this guy his shot this year. He gives the team a whole other dimension it simply did not have with Johnny Damon.

8:44 - God Bless Derek Jeter. The captain unloads on a hanging Garcia curve ball for a two-run homer. Tie game. Nick Johnson will now quell the momentum with failure.

8:48 - Wow, Johnson works a good walk. Prediction: Tex goes yard here.

8:49 - Just missed it.

8:52 - Kay goes on a rant photography? Hey Mike, why don't you sit out a couple plays.

8:58 - This game is a perfect example why Pettitte is a Hall of Famer. The guy has C- stuff tonight, but here he is, willing himself through six innings and counting. They talk about how Jeter never gives away an at-bat, well Pettitte never gives away a start. Javy Vazquez take note.

9:01 - By the way, I got dibs on the bullpen coach job when Mike Harkey steps down. All he has to do is answer the phone, relay the pitching coach's requests, and every so often say stuff like, "Shoot knees kid." I can do this.

9:05 - Swisher flies out and we head to seventh tied at 4. Random aside: How many homers do you think Jeter could hit in a season if made a conscious decision to pull the ball? I say he's a 30-homer guy. That said, I like this version better, if only because John Sterling can say "Jeterian swing" over and over and over.

9:07 - Al Aceves in for Pettitte to start the seventh. Like Kay, I'm surprised by the move. I suppose Girardi had a feeling a tiring Pettitte without his best stuff was vulnerable. We'll see if it was the right move, Ace hasn't been great this year.

9:10 - Is there a more boring team in the American League than the White Sox? They are completely forgettable. Even their World Series team was forgettable. Screw these guys. I'm getting another beer.

9:15 - Girardi gets away with one, as Aceves lucks out on a screaming liner right at A-Rod to end the inning. Two feet to Rodriguez's right and it may be 6-4.

9:20 - Curtis Granderson in very quietly free fallin' (out into nothin'). He's three for his last 34. Not to be a jerk, but what has he done since that season-opening Red Sox series?

9:22 - I think it's time for Frankie Cervelli to lose the giant helmet. It's so dorktastic. Head injury head schminjury!!!

9:29 - I said it once, I'll say it again: God Bless Derek Jeter. The captain triples down the right-field line, scoring two to give the Yankees their first lead, 6-4. EL CAPITAN!!!!

9:31 - Georgie Posada comes out on the on-deck circle looking to provide the death blow. Ozzie goes to the 'pen. I go to the fridge for another beer. I love baseball.

9:39 - Jeter stranded at third, but the Yanks are in the driver's seat with Marte heading in from the 'pen. Meanwhile, I received a text from my Uncle Stu, a long-suffering Detroit Tigers fan, who reports that Austin Jackson went 5-for-5 tonight. Take note, Grandy.

9:45 - Marte gets an out and now Joba is coming in from the 'pen. Back to Jeter for a second...this guy is unbelievable. He's at four homers, 18 RBIs right now. He's the best shortstop in baseball...and he turns 36 in less than two months! Like Mariano, every Yankees fan needs to appreciate that we're watching a legend in action.

9:49 - Joba hitting 95 MPH on the gun. I don't have to tell you this is a good thing. Here's a thought: Is it possible that in the end the Yankees actually handled the Joba situation the right way? We now know he's not a guy with the disposition for a starter—he got nearly five months to prove it last year and it didn't take. Now he's returned to the back of the bullpen, the heir apparent to Rivera, where he seems infinitely more comfortable. They may have taken a roundabout way of doing it, but I think the Yankees got it right.

10:00 - Enter the G.O.A.T.

10:02 - I can't imagine I'd go to the plate with any confidence whatsoever against Mariano. I'd be out before I stepped in the box. I'm sure it's that way for a lot of people that actually face him. He's an intimidator, only he lets his pitching do all the work. No fist-pumping, no eye bulging, no screaming. He's basically the anti-Papelbon.

10:06 - Rivera K's Alexi Ramirez to tie Roger Clemens for 10th on the Yankees' all-time strikeout list. One to go.

10:08 - Gordon Beckham is little more than cannon fodder, as Rivera strikes him out on a 3-2 pitch to close out a 6-4 Yankees win. That's 7-for-7 for Mo and a 15-7 April for the Yankees. One month in and you get the feeling this may be a very special team.

Thanks for reading everybody. Back to the fridge I go...

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is the Bullpen the Weak Link of the Yankees?

Everyone take a deep breath. Please remain calm. Promise me you won't give away your stereo, Whitesnake record and other possessions like the depressed guy from that one after-school special.

The Yankees are in a slump. They've lost four of their last five games, and now sit 2.5 games behind the Rays in the American League East.

Again, do not part ways with your Whitesnake record.

Chances are strong the Yankees will right the ship quickly. They still have two games remaining with the putrid Orioles (who did everything in their power to blow last night's win), CC Sabathia gets the ball today, and a cushy six-game homestand is on the horizon.

That said, there's an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and I'm not talking about Nick Johnson:

Alfredo Aceves 4.70 ERA, 1-0 W-L, 0 HLD, 1 K, 1.30 WHIP

David Robertson 10.80 ERA, 0-1 W-L, 0 HLD, 2.20 WHIP

Chan Ho Park 4.76 ERA, 1-1 W-L, 0 HLD, 3 K, 1.06 WHIP

Damaso Marte 6.23 ERA, 0-0 W-L, 1 HLD, 3 K, 1.62 WHIP

Joba Chamberlain 3.86 ERA, 0-1 W-L, 4 HLD, 10 K, 1.39 ERA

The middle relief was directly responsible for kicking away a potential win for Phil Hughes last night, and if not for the occasional success of Chamberlain and constant brilliance of Mariano Rivera (6-for-6 saves, 0.00 ERA), the bullpen's struggles would've already been a topic of hot debate.

Such is the power of the G.O.A.T., as Rivera's greatness has managed to obscure the warts of Joe Girardi's bullpen.

Hughes' importance to the bullpen in 2009 cannot be overstated. Postseason not withstanding, Hughes took a major question mark and turned it into a team strength with his lights-out setup work.

The Yankees are betting big on Chamberlain to fill that role. If he can pitch with similar success to Hughes in '09, the bullpen will need to navigate through just one inning—the seventh—on many nights.

But Chamberlain to this point has shown little in his career in terms of consistency, making the eighth inning anything but locked down. With Hughes solidified in the rotation, there's no white knight to come save the 'pen if Joba can't get it done.

As Marte proved during the postseason last year, he can be an effective reliever. Aceves, too, is proven, coming off a 10-win season out of the 'pen. Robertson, Park, and newcomer Boone Logan are question marks, but all have the tools to succeed.

Andy Pettitte is (probably) not going to pitch like it's 1996 all year. A.J. Burnett will have his inevitable funks, Hughes will have growing pains, and Javier Vazquez has already shown how he can struggle.

The bottom line: The bullpen will play a huge role in how good the Yankees can be. If the relievers put it together, there's no ceiling on this team. If they continue to struggle, it will haunt them all season.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Examining the Vazquez Conundrum

I've been debating recently why it is that Javier Vazquez has been put on this Earth.

If you asked Javier, he'd probably say he's here for his wife and three beautiful children. That would certainly make sense. His Wikipedia page states he's a huge wine aficionado, so maybe he's just here for the fermented grapes. Then again, he may go the religious route and say he was here for God. That's kind of the safe choice when asked these types of broad-based questions.

But you and I know none of that is true.

The reality is that Vazquez exists for Mike Francesa. He exists for Ken Rosenthal. He exists for Buster Olney. He exists for all the media types who have air time and print space to kill. He exists for Johnny Damon, for reasons I'd rather not discuss. Most of all, he exists for you.

Yankees fans have an odd way of handling success. Most fanbases would look at a 12-6 record through a difficult stretch of 18 games and be ecstatic. But Yankees fans demand perfection.

We want to de-certify the robot technicians who can't get the Teixeira-3000 going. We want to ship Nick Johnson off to Marine Corps boot camp like his doppelganger Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

Most of all, we seem to be intent on running poor Javy Vazquez out of town.

It's tough to defend what Vazquez has done this season. In four starts, he has one victory, and even that outing was mediocre. He has a 9.00 ERA. The opposition is batting .309 against him.

The Yankees could've kept Sidney Ponson around for that production. At least they'd have somebody on their side in a bar fight afterward.

Even more troubling has been Vazquez's demeanor. YES cameramen are now trained to search the bench for Vazquez, sullen and dejected, daydreaming about blowing a fastball past Daniel Murphy at a half-empty Turner Field.

He appears to have the mental fortitude of Glass Joe.

Vazquez said all the right things during spring training. He was open about his struggles in 2004, how he pitched through pain in the second half, how his performance on 10/20 left no residual damage. He said he never wanted to leave New York in the first place.

I believed the guy. At 33 and coming off a Cy Young-caliber season, he seemed to be a player whose head had finally caught up with his natural abilities.

But four starts in, we still don't know if Vazquez can hack it in New York. Part of me thinks that the idea that Vazquez cannot pitch here was entirely a media creation. This was a guy who was an All-Star in the first half of the '04 season, after all.

Is it possible that an entire winter and spring training of being asked repeatedly if he could pitch New York actually got into his head that he couldn't pitch in New York?

I'm guessing Ozzie Guillen would say yes.

Taking a step back, Vazquez can find solace in the fact that time is on his side. If he stays healthy, he has 30 starts left to re-write this story. The opportunity begins now to answer critics who say he can't get it done here.

Will he channel that criticism for the good, or will it consume him? Stay tuned.

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

Old Guard Keeps Chugging Along For Yankees

Let's start today with a little numbers exercise:

Player A: .333 BA 1 HR 5 RBI .443 OBP .471 SLG

Player B: .380 BA 3 HR 9 RBI .404 OBP .600 SLG

Player A: 3.57 ERA 0-2 W-L 14 K 1.47 WHIP

Player B: 1.35 ERA 2-0 W-L 14 K 1.20 WHIP

Player A: 3.38 ERA 3 SV 2 K 1.31 WHIP

Player B: 0.00 ERA 5 SV 5 K 0.60 WHIP

Player A: .378 BA 1 HR 10 RBI .473 OBP .556 SLG

Player B: .378 BA 3 HR 6 RBI .465 OBP .730 SLG

In the first, second, and third cases, Player B is clearly outperforming Player A. You can make the same argument in the fourth case as well.

Now I'll tell you that Player B, in order, is Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada. Player A, in order, is NL MVP runner-up Hanley Ramirez, AL Cy Young Zack Greinke, All-Star Jonathan Papelbon, and AL MVP Joe Mauer.

The numbers have not been doctored to protect the legacy of modern-day Yankees legends. The figures are the real deal.

Yes, it's been a good start for the Old Guard.

We're only 11 games into the 2010 season, but the 30-somethings that inhabit the Yankees roster are playing like Bill Clinton is still in office. This is weird, because the Old Guard is, well, old.

Last season, it felt like the OG was fighting against a ticking clock. Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and Rivera were all having fine seasons, but you started to get the feeling that you were watching the last chance for the Old Guard to play at a level that matched the New Guard.

This certainly made sense at the time. Baseball is a young man's game—especially in this post PED world—and the OG is clearing 150,000 miles on the odometer. Of course, the Yankees seized that opportunity with title No. 27 last year, and the veteran core played an instrumental part in it.

After winning their fifth title together, no one could've been shocked if all or some of the OG began the slow decline in '10. Everybody loses their fastball eventually. Eddie Murphy used to be funny. Lindsay Lohan used to be hot. Everything changes.


Something seems to have happened on the way to the retirement home for the Old Guard. They're outplaying their contemporaries, and it's making the Yankees a juggernaut.

Will it last? It's way too early to say, but if they pulled it off last year, who's to say they can't do it again? And if they do pull it off again, well, let's just say the chances of the World Series trophy staying in the Bronx are exceedingly good.

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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking In The Sights At Yankee Stadium

I love going to Yankee games. Love, love, love it.

My feeling is probably similar to how Hank Steinbrenner feels when the Phillip Morris Convention rolls into town. Pure titillation.

So when my buddy Mark offered me a ticket to the Yankees' home opener against the Angels on Tuesday, you can guess that my schedule was quickly cleared.

Being your dutiful Yankee blogger, I felt it was my responsibility to do a couple of laps around the House That George Built and report on what I saw.

Please excuse my shoddy camera work. I used my camera phone, which makes several of the photos look like stills from the Zapruder film. Also, I drank eight beers between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Why don't you join me?

Click here to check out the slideshow, featured over at Bleacher Report.

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York Yankees: An Opening Week Rundown

It's six down, 156 to go for the Yankees, who escaped Boston and Tampa with a perfectly acceptable 4-2 record. With the home opener set for Tuesday, River & Sunset takes a look back on the first week of the 2010 season.

That heavyset gentleman with the gentle smile and powerful left arm, he may be pretty good!

CC Sabathia nearly pitched a no-hitter on Saturday against the Rays, flirting with history until the immortal Kelly Shoppach singled to left with two outs in the eighth.

Sabathia exited immediately following the base hit, but still picked up his first win of the season following an underwhelming debut on opening night in Boston.

Sabathia is the epitome of an ace, and the single biggest (both literally and figuratively) reason why the Yankees are nearly slump-proof. This could be a monster season for No. 52. it too late to get Melky back?

Yes, it's just one start of (hopefully) 33 or so, but the Javy Vazquez we saw on Friday night looked eerily similar to this guy.

A lot was made during the offseason about how Vazquez was in a better position to succeed in his second tour in New York because he's now in the back of the rotation rather than the front. That's all well and good, of course, but at the end of the day you still need to pitch when the spotlight is on you every fifth day.

Until he proves that he can do it, Yankee fans are right to remain skeptical.

Hey Tex, the slow start was cute...last year. PICK IT UP!!!

The spring training chatter was that Mark Teixeira was gearing up for an April that would be the opposite of the sluggish first month he experienced in 2009.

He was killing the ball all spring...which naturally translated to a career-worst 0-for-17 slide to start the regular season. Tex bounced back with a three-hit day against the Rays on Saturday, so let's hope he can take that as a cue to lose the Daniel Murphy impersonation.

Excuse me, Mr. Girardi. You are aware that Chan Ho Park sucks, right?

Chan Ho Park was rocked by the Red Sox twice last week, though he was maligned for only one of the outings and praised for the other.

The first appearance was opening night, when he gave up the game-tying two-run homer to Dustin Pedroia. The second was two days later, when he pitched three scoreless innings but gave up 47 line drives directly at infielders and 14 flyballs to the warning track. (Ed. note: Figures may be inaccurate.)

That didn't stop the YES postgame guys from drinking the Park Juice afterward, saying preposterous things like, "Joe Girardi has to be thrilled with the performance Chan Ho Park gave him today."

Here's to hoping the Yankees manager watched game tape of Park's "good" outing and realized the reliever's success was purely the product of a horseshoe crammed firmly up his posterior. At best, Park should be the Yankees' mop-up guy.

Literally, I think he should be handed a mop to work in the clubhouse.

You're playing with the big boys now, Nick. Time to step it up.

Nick Johnson had three hits in his first 30 plate appearances this week. This was cushioned by his his seven walks and one hit-by-pitch, which is pretty cool, but still.

Nobody loves Johnson more than this guy (I'm sitting with my arms extended and thumbs pointed at my chest), but he did look a bit, well, out of his element hitting in the middle of a Yankees lineup frontloaded with future Hall of Famers.

Here's to hoping for a better showing in Week 2 for Nick The Stick.

Granderson looking like a welcome addition to the Universe

Did you catch John Sterling's new home run call for Curtis Granderson? It's apparently a reference to a Broadway play from the 1940s, a fact that's already been added to my ongoing investigation into how old John Sterling actually is. (Right now, we're sitting at 107, but this changes often).

ANYWAY, Granderson's first week in New York could not have gone better. He homered in his first at-bat (in Fenway, no less), then beat that neanderthal Jonathan Papelbon with a homer in extra innings two nights later. For the week, he batted .348 with two homers, four RBIs, and three stolen bases.

Meanwhile, Johnny Damon was spotted using a walker after a game in Detroit last week. I think this was a good decision.

Cano is down a best friend but up a fast start

Robinson Cano was moved up to the fifth spot in the Yankees' batting order this season, a move that signaled the club's expectations that its second baseman become one of the American League's top run producers.

His woes with runners-in-scoring-position were well documented last season, so it was imperative that Cano got out of the box quickly to avoid that unsavory subplot from carrying into 2010.

Cano responded with a big first week, batting .360 with two homers and a team-leading six RBIs and 17 total bases. Cano is a waaaay under-the-radar MVP candidate when you consider: a) he plays every day, b) is a near lock for 200 hits, and c) could conceivably have runners in scoring position for half of his at-bats.

I'm not saying Cano is going to challenge Hack Wilson's RBI record, but if things break the right way, who's to stop him from driving in 120+ runs? I'm sure Melky will fly up for a nostalgic glow stick party if that happens.

Um, I don't want to be a jerk, but the Rays should be banned from baseball until they get a stadium

Evan Longoria picked up a ridiculous "single" in the seventh inning on Sunday when his pop-up hit the freaking catwalk above the infield at Tropicana Field. The game was very much in the balance at that point, and Burnett needed to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam to project a 4-2 lead.

Georgie Posada was pointed in his comments about the craptastic facility after the game: "It’s not a baseball stadium. You can't have balls going all over the place. It's sad."

(Is there a more telling moment of commentary when something or someone is labeled as "sad"? It really cuts deep. Underrated adjective.)

I still think Terry Francona said it best back in 2006 after Boston got screwed on some similar catwalk shenanigans: “At some point, and I don’t think my complaining is going to do it, but at some point Major League Baseball's—this Putt-Putt golf shit's got to go. It’s stupid, hitting it around the windmill, this is a Major League game. It’s like the bigger you are, the better you hit the ball, the more you get penalized.”

He may be a dirty Red Sox, but the man has a point.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Umpire Right To Call Out Yankees-Red Sox Bloat

If you're a Yankee fan, there was plenty to be excited about following Wednesday's 2-1 rubber-game win against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Curtis Granderson looks like a stud. Mo was Mo. The bullpen put it together. Nick Johnson didn't get hurt.

On balance, it was a successful beginning to the championship defense.

But ironically, it would be comments by longtime umpire Joe West that provided the biggest headline after the season's first series was through.

"They're the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," said West, the chief of the crew working the series. "They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest?"

"It's pathetic and embarrassing," he continued. "They take too long to play."

As a Yankees blogger, I suppose this is the part where I'm supposed to call West an idiot, or fat, or possibly make a humorous quip about his country music career.

But I won't do any of this because West is absolutely right.

We live in an accelerated culture where four hours is not an acceptable time for anything. Baseball games are not meant to be four hours. They're not even supposed to be three.

Watching the league's two marquee teams slog their way through 19 regular-season games only reinforces the idea that baseball is the dinosaur of the American sports landscape.

In truth, this isn't really the fault of the Yankees or Red Sox, though, massive targets that they are, it makes sense. The blame should really go to the league itself, which has slowly watched games increase in length for 20 years and has done nothing about it.

Watching a Yanks-Sox game is like listening to the 1997 Oasis album Be Here Now . Sure, there are plenty of enjoyable parts, even moments of transcendence, but at a certain point the bloat of the overproduction starts to weigh the whole thing down.

Noel Gallagher was a raging cokehead when he recorded that album. What's Bud Selig's excuse?

A suit at 245 Park will probably rip West a new one for publicly chastising the league's two biggest moneymakers, but that will likely be the extent of the fallout.

The fact that the Yankees and Red Sox both have off days will probably give the story a bit more legs, but with Tiger's heroic comeback transfixing sports fans and soccer moms alike, a very serious problem for baseball will continue to be overlooked.

It's too bad. West's comments could serve as an ignitor for real change that will help the sport and make the games more fun to watch. Unfortunately, baseball's aversion to refinement will likely trump all.

Pathetic and embarrassing, indeed.

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

New York Yankees: 20 Observations on Opening Night

If I were a maniacal WFAN caller, I'd probably be floating in the East River by now.

Luckily, I'm not Vinny from Bay Ridge, so the Yankees coughing up roughly 12,000 leads in their 9-7 loss to the Red Sox on opening night won't drive me to despair.

In honor of Jonathan Papelbon's SAT score, here are 20 observations on what was a lonnnnnng night at Fenway Park:

1. Our new friend Chan Ho is going to be "park"-ing cars at the Stadium by May if this keeps up. Yes, Dustin Pedroia's game-tying homer in the seventh was your classic Fenway Park sky job over the Green Monster. But regardless of the homer's relative merits, it counted. Park didn't get the job done.

2. As I wrote about back in January, one of the biggest subplots of this season will be the Yankees' reliance on Jorge Posada to catch 130+ games this season. As he proved again last night, Posada can rake with any backstop in baseball, but defensively he remains a huge liability. The passed ball that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh inning was inexcusable. If Posada actually regresses from where he was a year ago, the Yankees will have a big problem on their hands.

3. David Ortiz is more done than Ricky Martin's female fanbase.

4. Don't worry about CC Sabathia. Let the big man get stretched out and he'll be cooking by Cinco De Mayo. On that day he'll pitch a three-hit shutout and celebrate by eating seven burritos at El Rio Grande.

5. Man, Curtis Granderson crushed that ball in the second inning. Didn't look too good against left-hander Scott Schoeneweis in the sixth, though.

6. Is it just me, or does Josh Beckett not scare you anymore? Like Sabathia, he certainly deserves time to get into a groove, but I still only count one good season in three for Beckett in Boston. If I were Sox management, I'd hold off on those extension talks for a couple of months.

7. I think it may be time to send a APB out on Joba Chamberlain. The guy who came in during the seventh inning on Sunday was a bigger fraud than Marion Jones. It wasn't long ago that when Joba got two strikes on a hitter you already knew the outcome. Bottom line: That dominant stuff of '07 and '08 has disappeared.

8. I don't care much for Dustin Pedroia, but I wish the little bugger was on my team.

9. Anybody else catch the Red Sox fan sticking his middle finger in Nick Swisher's face after the Yankee right fielder chased down Kevin Youkilis' triple in the sixth? The thing is, I'll take this dirtbag Fenway caliber of fan any day over the pink hat variety that invaded the park after 2004.

10. Speaking of Fenway, I went to Northeastern, which allowed me to go to a bunch of Yanks-Sox games in the '99-'02 era. Being a dumb college kid, me and my Yankee fan buddies would go to games decked out in our gear, putting us literally in the line of fire for threefour hours. A popular move by the Sox fans sitting behind us was to leave about an ounce of beer in their cups, fill it halfway up with peanut shells and spit, and then heave it at us like grenades. Again, I somehow miss this breed of Boston fan.

11. The Yankee corporate machine is a runaway train. Watching the YES telecast, I lost count of how many money-grubbing promotions the team is trotting out to entice its wealthy/sycophantic fans. I think Michael Kay devoted half of his breath on this stuff last night.

12. Adrian Beltre is a vacuum at third base. He's like Jorge Posada with hand-eye coordination.

13. I dislike Kevin Youkilis and his oblong head, but I really, really dislike Jonathan Papelbon. We're one crotch gyration away from hate territory.

14. Not feeling Kim Jones' darker locks. To make matters worse, she did one of her stand-ups with the younger, blonder NESN sideline chick stationed behind her. A slow start for everybody on Sunday.

15. Nick Johnson: One day on the job without an accident.

16. I have a nagging feeling A.J. Burnett is going to get lit up like a Christmas tree on Wednesday.

17. YES analyst Ken Singleton is like Lutz from 30 Rock. You don't really appreciate him, but he gets the job done.

18. When the only left-hander in your bullpen is coming off a season plagued by shoulder problems and then complains that the same shoulder is "cranky" the day before the season starts, well, this could be what is known in the literary world as foreshadowing.

19. This confused me: Neil Diamond coming out to sing the Fenway favorite "Sweet Caroline" while wearing a jacket with the message, "Keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn" emblazoned on the back. Makes you wonder if the old age home hasn't told him the truth yet for fear of a setback.

20. Don't let these early losses get to you. The Yankees started out 0-2 last year and won 114 games and the World Series after that. There's a sprint/marathon analogy here, but it's just not coming to me.

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