Cliff Lee’s Wife Has Typical New York Experience [USA Today]

Well, after a poor showing in the ALCS, bringing a swift end to the defending champion’s postseason, the Yankees second season began earlier this week with the dismissal of pitching coach Dave Eiland. 

And even though there are certainly more off-season moves to come, the real “story” that has received some play in the media, because things are slow in between the LCS and the start of the World Series tomorrow, is the poor treatment that Cliff Lee’s wife, Kristen Lee, received from opposing fans in New York.  Her statement to USA today is as follows:

“The fans did not do good things in my heart.  When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, made this statement in response:

“The story is not an issue to us.  Her experience in New York is certainly a non-issue.  She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys New York.”

While this may sound like an innocuous, unexciting statement from a sports agent, let me edit it and insert the parts that were left out:

“[Shove it, Kristen.]  The story is not an issue to [me and Cliff].  [Your] experience in New York is certainly a non-issue [in our negotiations during free agency.  We’re going to take the most money we can get, and if that comes from the Yankees, you’ll take it and you’ll] enjoy New York as much as anyone enjoys New York [when they are stinking rich.  Don’t try to hurt my commission].”

I don’t know if my editing restores the actual quote verbatim, but I’m sure it’s pretty close.


Quickly, here are my postseason picks:

Division Series:

  • NYY @ MIN — Min in 5
  • TEX @ TB — TB in 4
  • CIN @ PHI — PHI in 3
  • ATL @ SF — SF in 5

League Championship Series:

  • MIN @ TB — TB in 6
  • SF @ PHI — PHI in 6

World Series:

  • TB @ PHI — PHI in 6

Die, Red Sox, Die!

It took much longer than it should have, but by both the Yankees and Rays winning tonight, the Red Sox are finally dead; at least for 2010.  Both the Yanks and Rays had their ace on the mound in CC Sabathia and David Price, and each delivered as an ace should.

But the post-clinching celebration for the Yanks was very subdued in comparison to that of the Rays and very, very subdued in comparison to that of the Reds who also clinched a playoff spot and the NL East tonight on a walk-off home run by Jay Bruce.  The picture above is about as rowdy as anyone on the team became.  Sometimes you wish the “Old Guard” were a little more inclined to celebrations, at least for the fans’ sake.

Well, the next meaningful game for the Yanks is next Wednesday when the playoffs start, and thankfully the season-ending series against the Red Sox this weekend won’t mean much at all, the AL-East-division-race notwithstanding.

Sick to My Stomach

I was sick all weekend, but it finally cleared up late last night.  I wasn’t sick in the way you might think.  I didn’t have the pukes or the shits.  But I had this pit in my stomach, which kept increasing in strength as the weekend went on because the Yankees couldn’t put those damn Red Sox out of their misery.

Friday’s game would have been the greatest comeback win I can remember at the new Stadium.  But the Yanks, who were trailing 10-1 at one point and brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, couldn’t come all the way back, despite hitting six home runs, including two each by both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.  Saturday’s game was a guaranteed loss the way that Jon Lester has been pitching lately.  However, after falling behind 6-0, the Yanks made a little charge by hitting another two home runs, but they still ended up losing 7-3.  And with each loss, the tightness in my stomach grew tighter.

Sunday, I was so sick I couldn’t even watch the game.  It helped that my family and I had our normal routine of church in the morning, football in the afternoon, and a walk in the evening, capped off by an episode of Mad Men once the kids were in bed.  But the game was in the back of my mind the whole day.

As soon as Mad Men ended, I switched over to the game to see Mariano Rivera, who has been very un-Mo-like in September, blow a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning by allowing two Red Sox runs on two hits and four freaking stolen bases.  Honestly, it was the closest I have ever come to throwing something through my TV.  And only the fact that I was gently rocking to sleep my three-week-old baby boy in my arms kept me screaming curse words at the top of my lungs.  (Although I did mutter them under my breath.)

However, as bad as Rivera has been lately, I really have to thank Jonathan Papelbon who has been the tonic to my fever, not only for last night but also for so many games he has blown or struggled in this season.  He’s really been a different pitcher over the last year and a half, and last night was his crowning achievement as a member of the Red Sox.

With one out, Papelbon allowed a single to Nick Swisher, a single to Teixeira, a walk to Rodriguez, and a game-tying RBI-single to AL-MVP candidate Robinson Cano.  When Cano got the hit, I almost dropped my son because I thought that the single would score the winning run as well, but Robbie Thompson, who is normally a very aggressive third-base coach, decided to hold up pinch-runner Ramiro Pena at third.  Unfortunately, neither Jorge Posada nor Lance Berkman could drive in the winning, and on to extras we went again.

Joba Chamberlain, who has been so inconsistent lately, pitched a perfect top of the tenth.  In the bottom of the inning, the Yanks took their swings against Hideki Okajima, who has really come down to earth after being so great in his first couple of seasons with Boston in 2007.  Curtis Granderson led off with a clean single to right, followed by a bunt single by Brett Gardner and an error by Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez that allowed Granderson to move to third.  An intentional walk to Derek Jeter loaded the bases, and after pinch-hitter Marcus Thames grounded into a 5-2 out, the most unlikely of heroes in Juan Miranda drew a five-pitch walk to force in the winning run.  And…sickness cured.

While I don’t anticipate that the Yankees will win the World Series this year, or even get past the first round, all I wanted was for them not to blow their lead against the Red Sox and make September of 2010 as ignominious as October of 2004.  And even though the Red Sox are not dead yet, they will be with one more loss or one more Yankee win.  And I’m hoping that the clinching Yankee win will come tonight in Toronto.  However, the way that AJ Burnett has pitched lately, a Yankee win is as unlikely as a Juan Miranda walk-off bases-loaded walk.  Wait a minute.

The Number 4

If you’ve ever seen the mind-blowing movie “The Number 23,” starring Jim Carrey, in which his character reads a book about the number 23 and then begins obsessing over it and all the ways that not only his life but also important events directly coincide with the number 23, some modification of the number 23, or a number related to the number 23 (e.g. William Shakespeare was born on Apr 23 and died on Apr 23; Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times; human sex cells have 23 chromosomes, etc), then you can completely understand the mind-blowing day I had today.  However, if you saw the movie and you a) weren’t on drugs, b) weren’t a paranoid schizophrenic, or c) could intelligently decipher that there are hundreds of ways to get something to fit into a little predefined box, then maybe my day won’t be that big of a deal to you.  But let’s pretend that these following facts aren’t merely coincidences and are actually signs from the cosmos that they actually mean something on a grander scale.  Oooohhhhhh.

So, let’s start dissecting how the number 4 is significant to this day, beginning with a simple example–today is September 4th.  Even more simply, including myself, my wife and I brought the 4th boy into our family this morning at 2:44 am.  Now a little more twisted, we were the 4th couple to arrive at labor & delivery this morning with the woman already dilated to an 8, which is highly irregular when it’s not a full moon.  Not including my wife and myself, there were 4 people in the room helping to deliver this baby, whose nickname can be broken down into 4 characters.  Lastly, I was at the hospital today on 4 separate occasions today.

Now let’s see how the number 4 was indirectly involved in other things in my life today.  All three baseball teams that I follow regularly–Yankees, Red Sox, Rays–each had outcomes related to the number 4.  The Red Sox lost not once, but twice to the White Sox during a day/night doubleheader, losing each time 3-1 (3 + 1 = 4).  The Tampa Bay Rays lost in Baltimore 8-4 (8 – 4 = 4).  The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 7-5 and out hit them 9-7 ((7 + 9) – (5 + 7) = 4).  Combined, the three teams hit 4 home runs.

See what I mean?  It’s incredible.  Clearly this means something.

I recently turned the big 3-0 on Friday, and man is it depressing.  Honestly, due to the stresses of work and studying for the CPA exam, I didn’t have any time to think much of it.  In fact, we didn’t even have anything really planned to celebrate because I’m just not into drawing that much attention my way.  For whatever reason, it makes me very uncomfortable.

For weeks/months, my incredible sister, who is very outgoing and social, had been asking me how I want to celebrate my 30th B-day.  For hers and her husband’s 30th, each party was a big shindig where all their friends and family came from miles around.  And that seemed to be perfect for them.  But she seemed to be very put out when I told her that the thought of a lot of people lavishing attention on me was quite disconcerting.  So much so that I started to get annoyed anytime she would bring it up, although she was possibly hoping that I might change my mind and say “OK, please invite every person who has ever heard my name.”  

We finally compromised to have a joint birthday party with my niece who was born exactly on my birthday and was celebrating her first.  And I told my sister that if my niece wanted to invite any of her hot friends, I wouldn’t stand in the way.  Sarcasm aside, I really do appreciate her enthusiasm and the enjoyment she gets from being the center of attention for one evening, but for me it’s nails-on-a-chalkboard awful.

So the night of my birthday came, and due to our babysitting group changing from the usual Saturday to Friday, my wife and I found ourselves at home alone without the boys.  I was feverishly studying, and she was working on her latest project for the new baby who is due to arrive in just a few weeks, but I guess the silence was deafening and we decided to get out of the house and go to a BBQ at some neighbor friends’ house.

It wasn’t long after we arrived and started talking that they found out it was my birthday.  I was surprised at how incredulous they were that I would be spending my birthday, let alone my 30th birthday, with them instead of having some huge party somewhere else.  But once the incredulity wore off, we enjoyed a very nice evening as we talked about anything from sports to politics to babies.

After we left to pick up the boys, I decided that because it was such a nice night outside, I’d like to go and get ice cream from Marble Slab with my beautiful wife and incredible boys, despite the fact that a cake was waiting at our home ready to be eaten.  But the informal outing turned out to be the most relaxing, wonderful part of my birthday as we just sat and talked and watched as both boys attempted to keep their melting ice cream from dripping onto their clothes.  Needless to say, they were pretty messy when we got home, but still very adorable.

The next night we went to the family party which was held at the clubhouse of the neighborhood where my sister and bro-in-law lived.  There was a lot of family there, and even though we were celebrating my niece’s birthday as well, I still didn’t like the attention that I was getting, especially since not many of them had seen me since I shaved my head.

All throughout dinner, I couldn’t wait to escape and I was grateful when my boys begged me to take them swimming in the pool.  Once I got outside to let my social claustrophobia breathe a little, I felt much better and was ready to go back in and open presents.  Fortunately, almost all the attention went to the one-year-old who had finished stuffing her face with cake and was very ready to rip wrapping paper.  Very cute.

Anyway, all of this being said, I posed the following question to myself the other day:  At what age does your birthday stop being about you and start being about other people?  If I had it my way, Friday night would have been totally sufficient and Saturday night could have gladly been left by the wayside.  I don’t know if it’s the formality of the whole thing or the fact that I’m becoming more of a curmudgeon in my old age.  But whatever it is, less is certainly more as far as I’m concerned.

Aug 7, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
Tampa Bay Rays (67-43) 0 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 4   11 9 1
Toronto Blue Jays (58-52) 1 2 3 2 5 1 3 0 X   17 20 2

Over the past two days, I have watched two baseball games that are the absolute quintessential of why I love this sport so much.  Yes, the Red Sox and Yankees are playing an important series at the Stadium, but I have not seen a minute of either of those games as they have become less about baseball, which has not been very good recently between those two teams, and more about the rivalry, which has been so overblown that it’s impossible to enjoy the contests.

Anyway, the series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays has been much more entertaining, specifically the games from yesterday and today, although they were each on complete opposite ends.

Yesterday, the Blue Jays won the game 17-11, which may not seem like it was a good game based on the score, but it was incredibly entertaining.  First, the Blue Jays hit eight home runs, six off of James Shields alone, which tied a modern-era record for most home runs off of one pitcher in a game, and increased their major-league-leading season home run total to 175, which is almost 30 higher than the next club. 

[Editors note: I believe that the Blue Jays players have taken it upon themselves to try and hit a home run every time they come to the plate because they know that the only way they are going to win is to out slug the opponents; thus, while they lead MLB in home runs (175) and slugging (.463), they have the 6th worst batting average (.251), 4th worst on-base percentage (.314), and 4th fewest walks (317), which means they are playing only for power and not just to get on base.] 

Second, the Jays’ minor-league call-up, JP Arencibia, who has been hyped up as a kind of wonder kid, hitting 31 bombs in AAA Las Vegas this year, hit a home run on the very first pitch of his very first at bat in the big leagues.  The first pitch!  He followed that up with a double in his second at bat, and single in his third at bat, and capped it with his second home run of the day and of his career.  Truly amazing.

Third, even with a 17-7 lead going into the top of the ninth, you didn’t feel like the game was over, as the Rays scored 4 runs relatively easily and were only a few baserunners away from it being a save situation–even though the Jays had scored 17 runs!

Aug 8, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
Tama Bay Rays (67-44) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 1 0
Toronto Blue Jays (59-52) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X   1 5 1

But today’s game was totally different, even though it was the same two teams playing on the same field, just one day removed from a 28-run outburst.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Blue Jays starting pitcher, Brandon Morrow, was one out away from pitching the first no-hitter of his career, and fourth that the Rays would have been a part of this season! (The Rays lost two of the previous no-hitters, one of which was a perfect game).  But with two outs, Evan Longoria hit it to the right side that ricocheted off the second baseman’s glove and into right field for the Rays’ first hit of the game, which was correctly ruled a hit and not an error.

Moreover, Morrow struck out 17 Rays hitters on his way to his first complete-game shutout of his career and was absolutely dominant.  Also the only run of the game was scored in the first inning when Yunel Escobar moved from first to third on a ground out to the third baseman Longoria, which was one of the most gutsy and incredible base running plays I’ve ever seen.  I mean, he went from first to third on an infield ground out.  Talk about speed and guts.  Two batters later Vernon Wells drove him in for the eventual game-winning run, which held up due to Morrow’s incredible pitching as the Jays won 1-0.

Anyway, sorry to gush so much about this great game, but you can’t possibly have any more diametrically opposing back-to-back games and be as thoroughly entertained as I was.  So much so, that I had to write about it.