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Posts Tagged ‘Derek Jeter’

May 2, Osama is Dead, the Mets Win for New York, & America Unites Again

Hey guys,

So as we all know by now, Osama Bin Laden has finally been brought to justice. Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with Navy Seals, and the world is now a safer place because of it. I fear for the immediate reaction to this event from those who will seek vengeance, but with the central figure of Al-Qaeda eliminated, the terrorist organization will surely never be the same. Throughout history, the death of a people’s leader has led to lamenting, and often the sense of vengeance, but the loss of a leader like Bin Laden can also lead to their decline. Without a unanimous central leader, groups often dissolve and divide in the pursuit of direction. Power grabs will likely be made by multiple figures in Al-Qaeda, which hopefully can destroy their unity and resolve. The organization will surely never be the same now that their leader has expired.

FDNY, NYPD, and the Port Authority Police. Thank you for the sacrifice you made. IMAGE // http://www.douglasfiredept.com

That being said, as I do on most nights, I was watching baseball when the news broke. The game was between the Mets and the Phillies, and suddenly for me it seemed like the Mets needed to win this one. It was a moment that I felt would cap off a great redemptive night for New Yorkers. The Yankees had won earlier in the day, but the Mets were actually playing when it all went down. I turned off the volume to the game, and threw CNN on the other screen. Though I couldn’t hear what was going on at the game, it was clear that Philadelpians were jubilant and celebratory of the news. I was personally surprised they didn’t pause the game for Obama’s speech. It struck me as funny when Obama was speaking that he said something of the nature of, “we must continue to fight Al-Qaeda and their affiliates,” a line that I heard as, “we must continue to fight Al-Qaeda and the Phillies.”

It was one of those moments that sends chills down your spine as you watched the fans in Citizens Bank Park start a chant of, “USA!” It really reminded me of the baseball world around the time of 9/11, when players, fans, and citizens of the country rallied together in celebration of the American Spirit. With all the things in the country and world that create division among us American citizens, it was refreshing to see the unity that we all seem to harp on only in the face of tragedy and triumph. Whether you’re a conservative, a moderate, a liberal, a Republican, or a Democrat, one thing we all have in common is the love of our land, and the sorrow in our hearts for all the lives lost on the single greatest disaster in American history.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Reacts to the News of Bin Laden’s Death

This is my petition to make September 11, a national holiday. The most somber day in American history should be commemorated as a National Day of Remembrance. A chance for us all to remember just how lucky we are, and a chance to celebrate the lives of those lost on 9/11, rather than lament the tragic nature of their final day.

I know that I have already featured this video in previous posts, but this really seems like an appropriate time to rehash the memories of life immediately after 9/11. Check out these two videos, one of President George W. Bush’s visit to Yankees Stadium on game 3 of the 2001 World Series with some really awesome interactions between Jeter and the Commander in Chief. The other video I wish I could embed, but i simply can’t. It is of the Mets first game back after the tragedy. I urge you to check it out. It really was an amazing time for American unity.

VIDEO: Piazza’s Healing Home Run

Jeter, A-Rod

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey guys,

Alex and Derek in the Early Days IMAGE // Gettyimages.com


So once upon a time, when Alex Rodriguez was on the Mariners, and Derek Jeter was a young Yankee, the two were filmed a few times for some short Q and A’s. It is interesting to see the dynamic of their relationship from the early years of their careers to now. Obviously there were some rocky moments between the two. Alex was quite enamored with his public perception, and said a bunch of dumb things to the media about their relationship a few years into his Yankees career. Despite all the jealousy and bitterness that may have existed between Alex and Derek, it seems to me that they are pretty cool with one another these days.

There are some funny moments in these videos that people my age may not remember, such as the “Shea-Rod” rumors. Apparently there were some hopeful Mets fans that wanted A-Rod to play in Shea as Jeter’s cross-city shortstop rival. That would have been pretty cool, but I think I like it better this way.

Rodriguez has certainly been no stranger to controversy, but let’s take a look at the facts. After it became apparent that A-Rod would be leaving Texas, it was exciting to see the rumors of where he would be going. The thought of him going to the Red Sox was fine with me. I hate the Sox, and I had hated A-Rod his whole career up to that point.

When it was announced that the MLB would not allow the move, I never would have thought the Bronx would be his destination. Afterall, we already had our super-star short stop. Once it became apparent that New York was a viable destination, it was interesting to see how this would work out. Rodriguez made the transition from short stop to third base, abandoning his natural position, and ending the discussion of him being the best short stop of all time. To me, this was a pretty awesome thing for Alex to do. His willingness to change his position and legacy to better fit the team shows that he is more of a team player than he was credited for in the early Yankee years.

Derek and Al Horsing Around in the Dugout. IMAGE // Reuters

I remember not caring for A-Rod at all while in Seattle and Texas, so it was hard for me to come around to him being a Yankee. I didn’t like him at all at first. The main reason I think that I became an adamant A-Rod supporter was the way Yankees fans treated him in his early seasons, and even up to 2009, unfairly. There was a time when this man could do no right in the eyes of Yankees fans, everything that went wrong was his fault, and he just couldn’t win a battle. Rodriguez put the bulls-eye on himself many times with his comments, and attempts to please everyone, but for the most part, I felt that he was being vilified in an unfair way.

Now, Alex and Derek are still kickin’ it for the Yankees left infield. It is crazy to look back and think what could have been. Now, Alex is an elite third baseman, fielding the position just as good as any other, but there was a time when he as also an amazing short stop. A lot of people have counted A-Rod out of the elite player tag, but to me, he is going to prove people wrong. Now it’s all about Pujols, Cabrera, Hanley, Robby, and Tulo, but don’t count out A-Rod. Personally, I am expecting an MVP caliber season.

Personal Aside
How awesome is the DirecTV commercial with John Sterling and A-Rod where he’s rounding the bases after a game winning dinger? My favorite part is the Red Sox fan on the boardwalk throwing down his hat in disgust. An A-Bomb from A-Rod!

So without further ado, watch some of these videos from the 1997-2000ish eras or Jeter and A-Rod talking about their relationship.

March 3, The Yankees Offseason and Spring Training

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey guys,

Today’s going to be another busy day for me, so I will post the article I wrote last night (minus some quotes) for today’s entry. I will also feature some links to videos at the end, since the MLB doesn’t put their stuff on YouTube.

KEVIN JOHNSON

(MAHWAH) — The New York Yankees have returned to Tampa Bay for the annual Spring Training portion of the offseason. With the team are a lot of familiar faces and a few new ones too.

Legend's Field, the spring training home of the New York Yankees. IMAGE // http://www.tsdfoto.com

After an offseason filled with anticipation, and media scrutiny, the Yankees are ready to put offseason chatter behind them, and focus on preparing for the regular season.

Hank Steinbrenner made comments throughout the team’s negotiations with their longtime icon and captain, Derek Jeter. Steinbrenner was critical of the when offering him a contract, and again in spring training for his perceived lack of effort and focus last season.

New York’s negotiations with Cliff Lee and other premiere pitchers were also scrutinized by critics after the team failed to land any of the big name starting pitchers that were available. Fans now will have to wait through the uncertainty of not knowing their pitching rotation until Coach Joe Girardi makes his decision following spring training. The Yankees will have to rely on the trading market this season if they want to make a move for another elite starting pitcher.

The Yankees position in their division, the American League East, is also a topic that has dominated the discussion on sports talk radio. The Boston Red Sox landed big names this offseason, including Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, to bolster their already powerful offense, and compliment a very strong pitching staff.

Steinbrenner and Jeter

Following the Yankees 4-2 loss to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series, Derek Jeter was officially a free agent, free to test the open market. This was a day that the Yankees front office privately admitted to dreading. They knew that there was no chance they could send their fan-favorite captain packing without outraging the fans, and disrespecting his legacy. They also knew that Jeter was going to command a higher salary than they wanted to pay due to his stature with the team.

Derek Jeter's mansion, the center of some controversy in Yankees camp. IMAGE // johndomzalski.com

The back and forth dialogue with the media started when Steinbrenner announced that Jeter was free to look elsewhere if he was unsatisfied with the team’s offer. Throughout the process both Jeter and upper management took hits to their public image with their inability to compromise. Eventually the two parties settled on a contract of three seasons and $51 million, and a player option for a fourth season that could bring the total up to $58 million.

The back and forth between the two did not stop there. Once the team reported to camp, Steinbrenner made the comment that the team was “too busy building mansions” last season, a comment that seemed to be pointed at Jeter since he is building a mansion in Tampa Bay. Jeter responded to the comment by laughing if off, and Steinbrenner later backpedaled on his comments by saying he was speaking in euphemisms.

22-year-old Yankees fan EJ Denton was not happy with the way Jeter was treated in the offseason.

“It’s typical Yankees front office. If anything goes wrong the year before they seem to have this effect on their players, blaming them,” said Denton. “Jeter’s proven, and its not Jeter’s fault whatsoever, and to come at a players that’s been consistent for the Yankees, and is the face of the Yankees is just ignorant and wrong I believe.”

Free Agency

The Yankees had a quiet offseason in comparison to past seasons. The prize pitching in this year’s free agency was Lee, and the prize in the field was Crawford. There was not much interest from Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman in Crawford, since the outfield is already set, but the Yankees were all in for Cliff Lee. Crawford joined the Red Sox on December 8, signing on for seven years and $142 million. Lee surprised baseball fans everywhere on December 15, spurning the Yankees and Rangers, and signing a five year deal worth $120 million with his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cliff Lee has returned to Philadelphia, where he led the Phillies to a National League Pennant in 2009. IMAGE // blog.ticketchest.com

Denton is not worried about the fact that the Yankees did not land Lee, but feels the team needed to do more to buildup a reliable pitching staff.

“I think that they could have done fine without Cliff Lee, but without going out and getting somebody else I’m a little concerned,” said Denton.

The Yankees not only missed out on Cliff Lee, but they also missed out on big name pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, who were dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers, and Matt Garza who was traded to the Chicago Cubs.

The bullpen is the aspect of the 2011 Yankees that has been the biggest upgrade from last season. Rafael Soriano signed a three-year $35 million contract to be the setup man for closed Mariano Rivera, who also signed a new deal with the Yankees for two years and $30 million. The last addition to the bullpen was the left handed Pedro Feliciano.

Catcher Russell Martin highlights the new position players on the team, along with Andruw Jones, who will be fighting for a starting job in the outfield. Second baseman Ronnie Belliard, third baseman Eric Chavez, and Pitcher Freddie Garcia were all signed to minor league contracts.

The Yankees, Red Sox Rivalry

The Red Sox had one of the most active offseasons in the MLB with the acquisitions of Crawford and Gonzalez. Boston already was one of the best teams in baseball last season, but their season was stalled by injuries to key players. They also signed relief pitchers Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. Now the Red Sox are being looked at by many as the favorite to win the division.

Carl Crawford now dons a Boston Red Sox cap. IMAGE // hardballtalk.nbcsports.com

The expectations for Boston are reasonable considering how much they have strengthened their offense, and with another year of experience, their promising young pitchers are entering the prime of their careers. The projected starting rotation of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is as strong as any other elite teams’ starting five.

The Yankees starting rotation for the season is much more questionable. Now that Andy Pettitte has announced his retirement, the Yankees will have to scramble after their top two pitchers. With CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes as top end starters, the pitchers to follow are in doubt. AJ Burnett is coming off of a terrible season in 2010, posting a career worst 5.26 Earned Run Average and surrendering 25 home runs on his way to a 10-15 record.

22-year-old Charles Gallo feels AJ Burnett has to get over his mental blocks, and pitch more consistently.

“He just needs to work on his secondary pitches, and be a pitcher not a thrower,” said Gallo.

The Yankees will look similar in the field, retaining first baseman Mark Teixeira, second baseman Robinson Cano, Jeter at short stop, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Veteran catcher Jorge Posada will be competing with Martin and rookie Jesus Montero for time behind the plate. Nick Swisher will play right field and Curtis Granderson will roam center field, but left field is open for competition between Brett Gardner and Jones.

Robinson Cano found a consistent swing in 2010. PHOTO // blog.prorumors.com

Cano is coming off the best season in his young career, where he showed the world how dominant of a player he can be. Cano finished the 2010 season with 200 hits, 29 home runs, 103 runs, 109 RBIs, and a .319 Batting Average. His strong play earned him third place in the American League MVP voting.

Rodriguez is another player who is coming into the 2011 season with high expectations. Rodriguez lost 5-6 pounds in the offseason. It was the first season he has been able to train 100% in the offseason, instead of nursing a lingering injury. He also said that the last few seasons were unacceptable by his standards. Over the last three seasons, Rodriguez has hit 30 home runs twice, and 35 once. He also has hit 100, 103, and 125 RBIs in that time. If Rodriguez is disappointed with this production, it is clear that he expects big things for himself this season.

 

 

 

VIDEO : Highlight reel of Cano at the plate in 2010.

VIDEO : Cano makes a nice play in the field… he did this a lot in 2010.

VIDEO : Burnett assesses his first start in spring training.

VIDEO : A-Rod discusses his state of mind coming into the season

VIDEO : Rafael Soriano is joining the Yankees in 2011.