Sunday, October 17, 2010

R.I.P, Freddy Sez

Freddy “Sez”, a Yankee Stadium staple for the last 20 years, has died at age 82, according to friend Chuck Frantz. At almost every Yankee game, Freddy could be seen outside Yankee Stadium with his daily message for the Yanks and a frying pan he banged like a drum. He also let other fans bang it as well. He became such an institution that his lucky frying pan and spoon, thanks to Frantz, were put into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Yogi Berra museum in 2004. (via the NY Daily News)

Rest in peace, Freddy.  You will be missed.  I can still think back to my experiences at the the old Stadium, wondering who the person banging the pot for the whole entire game was.  After a while, you didn't even notice it anymore, it was just part of the Stadium tradition.  It would have been weirder to not hear it there than to hear it.  I know the team and the fans will miss you and the pot tomorrow night when they get ready for Game 3, and Yankee fans everywhere will miss you beyond that.

P.S.- tough year to lose so many staples of the franchise...

ALCS Game 2 Thoughts And Afterthoughts

(Photo courtesy of The AP)

- The Rangers made no secret of what their gameplan on the basepaths was going to be early, as Elvis Andrus stole 2nd off a ball in the dirt that Jorge blocked.  And they ran with good reason, as Jorge made a terrible play later in the inning by blindly throwing down to 2nd to get Hamilton and allowing Andrus to score easily from 3rd.  We all know Jorge sucks physically as a catcher, but I wouldn't expect him to make a rookie mental mistake like not looking Andrus back.  That DH role is looking more and more secure for him next year with each passing game.

- Early on it looked like the pitching matchup was going to go the Yankees' way.  Hughes threw a lot of pitches in the 1st inning, but also struck out the side and only allowed a run thanks to Jorge's aforementioned bonehead play.  His fastball was live and he was locating it well.  On the other side, Colby Lewis was living dangerously up in the zone with his fastball and slider.  There were a couple of balls hit very hard off him in the top of the 2nd, including Cano's near home run, Swish's 2B, and Lance Berkman's frozen rope lineout to Nelson Cruz.

- Unfortunately for Hughes, it started to unravel for him in the 2nd.  After getting squeezed on some inside pitches in both innings, Hughes missed with a couple fastballs to David Murphy and then had to groove one for a strike, something Murphy knew was coming and turned into a solo homer.  That at-bat seemed to be the beginning of Hughes' end as his command started to abandon him after the home run.

- They didn't have much to show for it through 3 innings, but the Yankees were certainly making Colby Lewis work.  It seemed like only a matter of time before they broke through and got back in the game, even after Teix and A-Rod put up a couple of shitty at-bats to end the 3rd.

- Phil Hughes completely fell apart in the 3rd inning, and although it didn't seem like it at the time, that was the end of the game.  He was up in the zone with his fastball, cutter, and slider, and his curve was nowhere near the strike zone so the Ranger hitters weren't even paying attention to it.  Most maddening, however, was Hughes' inability to put guys away with 2 strikes, something he had trouble with earlier in the season.  Ron Darling pointed out that the Rangers had already picked up 5 2-strike hits through the first 3 innings and they would finish with 8 for the game, 7 off of Hughes.

- I'm not going to get on Nick Swisher for diving and trying to make a play on that Ian Kinsler triple in the bottom of the 5th.  The Yankees were getting crushed, Phil Hughes was lost out on the mound, why not make a dive and try to steal an out for the kid and get him out of the inning?

- I know I said to watch out for a breakout game from A-Rod, but I was clearly wrong.  He and Teix were absolutely pathetic at the plate yesterday, swinging too early in counts, making bad contact on hittable pitches, and just generally making life easy for Lewis and the rest of the Texas staff.  Not what you expect or want to see from your heart of the order.

- At least Robbie Cano showed up yesterday to try to bail the other 2 out.  His out in the 2nd inning would have been a home run at Yankee Stadium, his 2B in the 4th led to the first Yankee run, and his home run in the 6th off Lewis was an absolute fucking BOMB into the upper deck in right field.  If you miss your spot with this guy, especially up in the zone, he's going to make you pay.  People can bitch about him leaving 4 guys on base in his last 2 at-bats, but even the last out he made was a loud out to the warning track in left that probably also would have been out at The Stadium so I'm going to stand and applaud Cano's effort yesterday.  It was probably the only effort worth applauding.

- After looking hittable early, Colby Lewis did calm down and look better from the 3rd-5th innings, getting some more strikeouts and limiting threats.  But the Yankees still made him work and he finally tired and got knocked out after allowing 2 runners to reach and throwing 100+ pitches with 2 outs in the 6th.  Even when it seems like they aren't doing shit, the Yankee offense can still grind and get into the bullpen and there was just a glimmer of hope for them when Lewis left after 5.2 IP.

- I liked the Marcus Thames-for-Brett Gardner move by Joe in the 6th.  He had 2 guys on and what equates to his worst hitter up with a chance to get back into the game.  If Texas brings in the lefty, why not counter with your best righty hitter and hope he gets ahold of one?  It was a good at-bat by Thames, but ultimately nothing to show for it.  At that stage in the game, I would have sacrificed Gardner's D for Thames' O too.

- If I have to hear Ernie Johnson say "The Catching Molina Brothers" like they're some kind of magical highwire act one more time, I'm going to heave my clicker through the TV screen.  Newsflash, EJ, these guys aren't that great.  They're a trio of marginally-talented fat Hispanic guys who all play the only position in baseball that their girth and lack of athleticism allows them to.  Take it easy.

- For the 2nd time in 2 games, the Yankee bullpen was on point.  Joba looked solid after entering for Hughes, even if he did allow the first inherited runner to score against the 'pen all postseason.  Boone Logan and D-Rob were solid, holding the lead and continuing to give the Yankee offense a chance, and even Sergio Mitre didn't look terrible throwing for the first time in what seemed like a decade.  Mo also got an extra day of rest by not working yesterday, so don't think Joe will consider using him for 4 or 5 outs on Monday.

- Surprisingly, the Texas bullpen matched the success of the Yankees and held the offense down through 3.1 scoreless innings.  Darren Oliver still didn't look that sharp, Alexi Ogando looks like he could blow up at any minute, and Neftali Feliz still doesn't look like he wants any part of closing out a game as he walked 2 more yesterday, but they still managed to get outs when they needed to and not allow the Yankees to score, and that's all that matters.

- I don't want to make excuses for him, but I still say Phil Hughes getting squeezed early in the game on the corners had something to do with him losing it in the 3rd inning.  After the home run to Murphy it was almost as if he stopped attacking the corners because he knew he wasn't going to get the calls.  He was up in the zone and catching too much of the plate with his fastball and he could never find the command again once he lost it.  He was terrible, there's no doubt about it, but it does warrant mentioning that Colby Lewis was getting some of the strike calls that Hughes wasn't and that Tony Randazzo's strike zone yesterday was pretty terrible.

- At the end of the day, though, the Yankees should be happy with the first 2 games.  They got a split on the road and head back home with home field advantage now in what becomes a best-of-5 series.  They have their stopper in Andy matching up against Cliff Lee, which is exactly what any Yankee fan should want, and you have to think CC and Phil Hughes are going to do some work before their next starts and be better the next time out.  And sooner or later, Teix and A-Rod have to come around in this series to help Cano.  Hopefully that happens on Monday back at The Stadium.