Bronx Pinstripes | BronxPinstripes.com http://bronxpinstripes.com Bronx Pinstripes - A New York Yankees Community for the Fans, by the Fans Wed, 27 May 2020 17:24:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 http://bronxpinstripes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cropped-BP-Icon-Retina-32x32.png Bronx Pinstripes | BronxPinstripes.com http://bronxpinstripes.com 32 32 How Yankees players would be affected by MLB’s latest salary proposal http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-news-and-rumors/how-yankees-players-would-be-affected-by-mlbs-latest-salary-proposal/ Wed, 27 May 2020 17:24:31 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77354 According to numerous sources, Major League Baseball released a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly cut the salary of all players. The proposed deal would have to be vetted and agreed upon by the MLBPA but there is already a lot of negativity surrounding deal, and the likelihood of an agreement is low at best. The Players Association said: The proposal involves massive additional pay cuts and the union is extremely disappointed. We’re also far apart on health and safety […]

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According to numerous sources, Major League Baseball released a proposal on Tuesday that would significantly cut the salary of all players.

The proposed deal would have to be vetted and agreed upon by the MLBPA but there is already a lot of negativity surrounding deal, and the likelihood of an agreement is low at best. The Players Association said:

The proposal involves massive additional pay cuts and the union is extremely disappointed. We’re also far apart on health and safety protocols.

The cuts would scale based on the salary of each player as follows:

  • $563,501 to $1 million would make 72.5% of his salary
  • $1,000,001 to $5 million would make 50% of his salary
  • $5,000,001 to $10 million would make 40% of his salary
  • $10,000,001 to $20 million would make 30% of his salary
  • $20,000,001 and higher would make 20% of his salary

This obviously has a major effect on all players, but the Yankees roster will be significantly hurt by this proposal. Here is the breakdown of the players getting hit the hardest on the current roster.

Name Pre-COVID 2020 Projected 2020 Salary
Gerrit Cole $36,000,000 $7,200,000
Giancarlo Stanton $26,000,000 $5,200,000
Masahiro Tanaka $23,000,000 $4,600,000
J.A. Happ $17,000,000 $5,100,000
Aroldis Chapman $16,000,000 $4,800,000
Zack Britton $13,000,000 $3,900,000
James Paxton $12,500,000 $3,750,000
DJ LeMahieu $12,000,000 $3,600,000
Aaron Hicks $10,785,714 $3,235,714
Luis Severino $10,500,000 $3,150,000
Brett Gardner $10,000,000 $3,000,000
Adam Ottavino $9,000,000 $3,600,000
Aaron Judge $8,500,000 $3,400,000
Gary Sánchez $5,000,000 $2,000,000
Tommy Kahnle $2,650,000 $1,325,000
Gio Urshela $2,475,000 $1,237,500
Chad Green $1,275,000 $637,500

Gerrit Cole, who just signed the largest contract by a pitcher in MLB history, will take the biggest hit having his 2020 salary slashed by nearly $30 million. Other players such as Giancarlo Stanton and Masahiro Tanaka will have their salaries dropped about $20 million each. The difference for Stanton and Tanaka is that they have already spent some time on their current contracts whereas Cole has not. Since the salary cuts scale based on the guaranteed money, the players on the low-end of the payroll get hit less by percentage. However, even players like Aaron Judge ($3.4 million) will make less than half of what they would have made had 2020 gone to plan.

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The question is whether the players who have those large, guaranteed contracts — who make up the minority of baseball players — should take the field? It puts players like Cole and Stanton in a hard spot. If the MLBPA agrees to the deal, which they won’t, high salary players will be playing for a fraction of the money that they earned when they hit the open market.

Would you agree to work for 20% of your agreed upon salary?

What about the players who haven’t had the chance to test free agency? Players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are eligible for free agency in a few years and are good bets to secure big money. Is there an incentive to play for a percentage of your salary in a shortened season where you could sustain an injury that jeopardizes your future earnings? There is no way to know who will get injured and when, but you can bet there will be an uptick in the frequency of injuries due to the training schedule being thrown into chaos.

Players who are pre-arbitration eligible are hit the least. Guys like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar were only set to make about $600 thousand. Under this proposal, they’ll take home 72.5% of that.

It will be very interesting to see the reaction from players no matter what deal the owners and the MLBPA agree upon. Stay tuned because this owner/player conflict is starting to get very interesting.

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On this date in Yankees history: DJ2K http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/on-this-date-in-yankees-history-dj2k/ Tue, 26 May 2020 04:43:02 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77349 BRONX, N.Y. — It’s a line drive in the box score! On this date in 2006, Derek Jeter joined the 2,000 hit club. Embed from Getty Images The New York Yankees were playing host to the Kansas City Royals on May 26, 2006. During the fourth inning, Jeter, facing Scott Elarton, placed a dribbler to the left of the plate and beat out what was scored a hit. Jeter became the eighth player in franchise history to record 2,000 hits. […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — It’s a line drive in the box score! On this date in 2006, Derek Jeter joined the 2,000 hit club.

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The New York Yankees were playing host to the Kansas City Royals on May 26, 2006. During the fourth inning, Jeter, facing Scott Elarton, placed a dribbler to the left of the plate and beat out what was scored a hit.

Jeter became the eighth player in franchise history to record 2,000 hits. The Yankee shortstop joined Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Don Mattingly, and Bernie Williams in reaching the milestone.

In 2011, Jeter would collect career-hit No. 3,000. When it was all said and done, Jeter would finish atop the all-time franchise list with 3,465 hits, ranking No. 6 all-time in baseball history.

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On this date in Yankees history: Mo reaches 1,000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/on-this-date-in-yankees-history-mo-reaches-1000/ Mon, 25 May 2020 19:25:58 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77345 BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 2011, Mariano Rivera made some more history with the New York Yankees. In a 7-3 victory at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays, Rivera became the first pitcher to appear in 1,000 games for the same team. It was a non-save situation but Rivera worked a scoreless ninth to secure the victory. In his career, Rivera would appear in 1,115 games. Among pitchers, that ranks Mo first all-time in club history and […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 2011, Mariano Rivera made some more history with the New York Yankees. In a 7-3 victory at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays, Rivera became the first pitcher to appear in 1,000 games for the same team.

It was a non-save situation but Rivera worked a scoreless ninth to secure the victory.

In his career, Rivera would appear in 1,115 games. Among pitchers, that ranks Mo first all-time in club history and fourth in all of baseball. Rivera slots behind former teammates Jesse Orosco and Mike Stanton, as well as John Franco. It’s even more impressive when one considers how Rivera broke into the big leagues in 1995 at age 25 and wasn’t a fulltime closer until 1997.

The mark places Rivera 593 games ahead of Dave Righetti, who places second in franchise history. Of recent vintage, David Robertson is third with 501 games. Had he not signed with the New York Mets, Dellin Betances would’ve been the active leader with 358. With the retirement of CC Sabathia and his 307 games, Chad Green is your active leader in the clubhouse with 169 appearances among pitchers.

With relievers being fickle from year to year and the elimination of loogy’s, I don’t see this mark being surpassed.

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Mariano Rivera talks about his MLB debut; 25-years-ago today http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/mariano-rivera-talks-about-his-mlb-debut-25-years-ago-today/ Sat, 23 May 2020 23:03:44 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77341 ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mariano Rivera took to his Facebook Saturday to reminisce with fans about his MLB debut. On this date in 1995, 25 years ago, Rivera got the call-up to the New York Yankees from Triple-A Columbus and was given a start against the California Angels. “I remember being called to the big leagues. I was so excited, I was calling everybody from home. It was a special day though. I was in California and I was facing the […]

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mariano Rivera took to his Facebook Saturday to reminisce with fans about his MLB debut. On this date in 1995, 25 years ago, Rivera got the call-up to the New York Yankees from Triple-A Columbus and was given a start against the California Angels.

Rivera Reaches Milestone: A Look Back at Game 1 of 1,000 | The ...

“I remember being called to the big leagues. I was so excited, I was calling everybody from home. It was a special day though. I was in California and I was facing the Anaheim Angels,” Rivera recalled.

“I got my butt kicked though. That was my debut. I got my butt kicked,” Rivera added on his outing which lasted 3.1 innings with five strikeouts but eight hits, three walks and five runs allowed in a 10-0 loss.

It was something Mo chalked up as a learning experience nonetheless.

“But at the same time, it was a great experience, something that I’ll never forget. I knew that I belonged in the big leagues but had to do some work, tweak some things. It was great, amazing seeing how what was different between the big leagues and the minor leagues, it was amazing,” Rivera remarked on his debut.

“Having the opportunity to be part of the best team there is in baseball period. To me the New York Yankees are number one period. Being part of that team, that dynasty, the opportunities that the Lord offered it was amazing,” Rivera added.

Rivera also spoke to how the loss gave him the motivation to bounce back and push even harder.

“Even though I lost the game I gained a lot of experience and matureness. I learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you got beat you have to get up. How many times you go down you have to get up and keep pushing forward and that’s what I did, I kept pushing forward and at the end everything was alright,” Rivera said.

“We came up winners, we won five championships, five championships in 19 years of a career but a day like today was the beginning of an amazing journey, an amazing career, a lot of blessings, and a lot of tears and laughs,” Rivera added.

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The time George Steinbrenner tried to rehire Buck Showalter http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/the-time-george-steinbrenner-tried-to-rehire-buck-showalter/ Sat, 23 May 2020 14:59:12 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77328 The Yankees went through an overhaul in the 1995-96 offseason after the heartbreaking Division Series loss to Seattle. Most notably, GM Gene ‘Stick’ Michael was replaced with Bob Watson and manager Buck Showalter was replaced with Joe Torre. The latter was almost undone. Showalter Out Even though the Yankees improved dramatically under Buck’s 4-year tenure managing and stormed to the postseason for the first time since 1981 with a 21-6 September record, it was not enough for George. Showalter’s contract […]

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The Yankees went through an overhaul in the 1995-96 offseason after the heartbreaking Division Series loss to Seattle. Most notably, GM Gene ‘Stick’ Michael was replaced with Bob Watson and manager Buck Showalter was replaced with Joe Torre. The latter was almost undone.

Showalter Out

Even though the Yankees improved dramatically under Buck’s 4-year tenure managing and stormed to the postseason for the first time since 1981 with a 21-6 September record, it was not enough for George.

Showalter’s contract was set to expire at the end of October. Buck, under the impression he was negotiating, turned down a 2-year contract because he wanted 3-years (he had earned that much). But a counter-offer from Steinbrenner never came.

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After days went by with no word, the Yankees issued a statement prior to Game 5 of the 1995 World Series sating that Showalter and the Yankees had parted “under amicable terms.”

Buck was blindsided.

In the release, Steinbrenner said Showalter declined to meet on two issues: the length of his contract and the coaching staff.

Showalter said that was untrue and he was never asked to meet again to negotiate.

Also in the statement from Steinbrenner:

We tried but were unable to dissuade Buck. I have nothing but praise for Buck and the job he did for us, and I told him I was very upset by his leaving. I wish buck and his fine, little family nothing but the best. There will be no criticism of Buck in any way from me.

(I dare you to read that with a straight face.)

A bigger issue than contract terms was the coaching staff. For starters, George wanted hitting coach Rick Down gone after the season. The two disagreed throughout the year about coaches — George wanted Down and first base coach Brian Butterfield fired as far back as July, but Showalter stood up for his staff and talked George out of it.

(Side note: Why did George care who the first base coach was? That’s a rhetorical question…)

If disagreements over coaching personnel was the underlying issue then the contract length was icing on the cake. Buck was gone.

Letting Showalter go seemed like an overreaction in hindsight, but George and the Yankees fell ass-backwards into Joe Torre — they just didn’t know it at first.

Clueless Joe

Backlash over the Joe Torre hiring started immediately for a few different reasons.

On November 2, 1995, the Yankees officially introduced Torre, but the news had been known since Halloween. Confusion came because Bob Watson — the new GM — spoke to the media as if he was still evaluating candidates even though it was public that Joe accepted the job.

Confusion and misinformation may have been the reason the media was upset, but the public was angry because Torre’s resume was awful. To that point in his career, his managerial record was 894-1,003 over 14 seasons. The Yankees let a perfectly qualified manager in Showalter walk in favor of a well-established loser.

Torre was originally offered the general manager job but turned it down (he later joked it was because there was no vacation time, but it was actually because he had never been a GM and was not prepared for it).

Once Watson accepted the GM job, the Yankees front office spun Torre as the unanimous choice for manager. In reality, he was the last choice among outside candidates which also included Davey Johnson, Sparky Anderson and Tony Larussa.

To cap it all off, Steinbrenner did not attend Torre’s opening news conference.

The media onslaught did not end with the “CLUELESS JOE” headline.

Mike Lupica wrote:

Torre was the favored choice by the confederacy of dunces running the Yankees’ office in Tampa even before Bob Watson was hired as general manager. Torre went to the top of the list once the Braves swept Davey Johnson’s Reds in the NLCS, because Steinbrenner is the phoniest front-runner of all time.

Brian Cashman, an assistant at the time, remembers the fax machine in the Yankees office being flooded with pissed-off fans.

Perhaps the best summation of the mood was this, written by George Vecsey in the New York Times:

The real question is, who’s next in this Yankee-manager business? My own sense of the coming Yankee chronology is: Willie Randolph, Don Mattingly, Chris Chambliss, Newt Gingrich (although, come to think of it, has anybody ever seen George and Newt in the same place at the same time?), Darryl Strawberry, Arthur Richman, Rick Down (George often does [have a] penance for ugly words and deeds), Art Fowler, David Letterman, Dwight Gooden, Pee-wee Herman, Nathaniel Showalter (the owner does admire Buck’s “nice little family”), Suzyn Waldman, Mookie Wilson, Andrew Giuliani and Lenny Dykstra. (George has this terrible case of Met envy.)

That takes us to about 1998. I see Bill Bradley managing the Jersey Yankees. Instead of hearing old Sinatra croaking “New York, New York,” we hear Springsteen’s “Glory Days.” George doesn’t get the irony. By then, Joe Torre’s managing somewhere else. If Steinbrenner can go on and on, why not Torre?

It’s no wonder why Steinbrenner had second thoughts.

House Visit

The full story didn’t come out until years later but it was first reported in early December 1995 that Steinbrenner tried to rehire Showalter just 72-hours after coming to an agreement with Torre. At the time George would not discuss it and Buck would not admit it.

Steinbrenner and Showalter’s agent called Buck’s Florida house to give him a heads up that they were visiting and needed to be picked up at the airport. It seems odd that George needed a lift from the airport, you know, seeing as how he was one of the most powerful owners in sports, but I guess he just wanted to make his presence known.

Showalter was flying back from Phoenix where he met with the Diamondbacks about being their manager — a job he verbally accepted.

Buck’s wife Angela finally got a hold of him while he was on a layover in Texas to alert him that George would be at their house in a few hours. Buck was obviously stunned. Angela and the “fine little” kids would have to entertain Big Stein until Buck arrived home.

Once Buck got back they discussed the “grand plan” for returning Showalter to the organization. He would receive a new contract and Torre would be relegated to something else (George would figure that out later). The whole thing screamed George and Billy Martin in the 1970s-80s.

Showalter considered but ultimately decided to honor his agreement with Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo.

To recap the timeline of events:

  • Oct 31: Torre accepts the Yankees job
  • Oct 31/Nov 1: Reports surface and negative articles start to be written
  • Nov 2: Torre is introduced as Yankees manager
  • Nov 3: “CLUELESS JOE” headline; Fans freak out; Steinbrenner tries to rehire Showalter

It was very hard for Buck, a Yankee lifer, to turn Steinbrenner down. He went on to help establish and manage the Diamondbacks, but was fired before they won a title.

The Yankees went on to be the best modern-day baseball dynasty.

Podcast – A Brief History: The Yankees replace Showalter with Torre

You can listen to the full history episode about the Yankees transition from Showalter to Torre below.

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Do you know who Aaron Judge’s girlfriend’s boyfriend is? http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-news-and-rumors/do-you-know-who-aaron-judges-girlfriends-boyfriend-is/ Fri, 22 May 2020 17:10:41 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77307 TMZ – Aaron Judge’s GF brought up her relationship with the Yankees star during a DUI arrest in February … straight up asking officers during the stop, “Do you know who my boyfriend is?!” It’s all in new police video obtained by TMZ Sports … which shows Judge’s longtime GF, Samantha Bracksieck, name-dropping the NYY outfielder several times to arresting officers. And, spoiler alert … it didn’t go so well for her. I’ve got a couple of tips for situations like this: 1) […]

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1) Don’t drink and drive – Like at all. Just don’t do it. There are too many ways for you to get from one place to another that don’t involve you getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking. There are so many places that rely on driving where it’s just acceptable to drive home after a few, and it’s insane to me. You’re risking you life and the life of everyone else because you needed a couple Mojitos at Applebees after work.

2) Don’t break the law while breaking the law – As noted above, don’t drink and drive because it’s against the law. But the dumbest thing people do when breaking the law, is break more laws. This girl was not only drunk, but didn’t have her headlights on AND told the cop she didn’t pull over BECAUSE SHE WAS ON THE PHONE. It’s hard to get dumber than that.

3) Shut up – You aren’t talking your way out of anything with the cops after you have “2” glasses of wine. In the video you can see the cops say that she will be detained and let out in 2-3 hours. Plenty of time to go home and shower up for work. Yeah it’s bad when you have to call you boyfriend in the morning to tell him you didn’t text him goodnight because you were in the clink, but at least that’s better than TMZ telling the world.

I hate to say it, but Judge has to dump this girl. When you’re a rising potential superstar that can’t stay healthy, the last thing you need is someone like this. Judge needs a girl that just eats the DUI without mentioning his name, or you know, one that doesn’t drink and drive.

Jeter would’ve dumped her before the cuffs even clicked…

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Biggest draft busts in Yankees history http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-prospects/biggest-draft-busts-in-yankees-history/ Fri, 22 May 2020 16:55:01 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=76169 When we hear the term “draft bust,” we automatically think of the NFL. College football is a more high profile sport than baseball, and we can see them on TV every Saturday. College baseball is not as popular, and unlike the NFL, many ballplayers come from high school and far-flung places in Latin America. In most cases, they are faceless names. Baseball has more than its share of busts, though.  Here are some of the Yankees’ biggest busts, in no […]

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When we hear the term “draft bust,” we automatically think of the NFL. College football is a more high profile sport than baseball, and we can see them on TV every Saturday. College baseball is not as popular, and unlike the NFL, many ballplayers come from high school and far-flung places in Latin America. In most cases, they are faceless names.

Baseball has more than its share of busts, though.  Here are some of the Yankees’ biggest busts, in no particular order.

Brien Taylor

OK, OK. I said no order, but Taylor has to be first on any list. The first overall pick in 1991, one can only daydream of the “Core Four” becoming the “Fab Five” (Derek Jeter was his roommate). Alexis Brudnicki, over at MLB News, provided the following quote from scout Ron Rizzi, who has spent 53 years in the game. “The best pitcher I ever scouted was Brien Taylor. He would have been one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball.” That entire article is worth the read.

It hurts even to read that because it never came close to happening.

Taylor’s professional career did begin with a lot of promise. In 1992, he would pitch to a 2.58 ERA in 27 starts for A+ Fort Lauderdale. It included giving up only three home runs in 161 innings and 187 strikeouts. The Yankees promoted him to AA Albany-Colonie for 1993, and he still represented well. A to AA is considered a big jump in MiLB, and he hurled to a 3.48 ERA in 27 starts and 163 innings. Once again, he kept the ball in the park, giving up only seven home runs.

His success all ended during the off-season. Andrew Marchand in a 2014 article, provided this account from Taylor’s agent, Scott Boras:

“Brien was stellar, dominant, on his way. He was going to the big leagues and was going to be all we thought he was going to be, then there was that unfortunate evening in North Carolina in 1993 that he got a call that his brother was getting beat up at a bar.

He was home in bed. He gets out of his bed. He goes over to find his brother and protect him. A guy takes a swing at him, and he puts his left arm up, his hand and arm take the force of the swing. It pushes his arm back behind his head.

“I take him to Dr. Frank Jobe. He looks at me. ‘This is the worst rotator cuff tear I’ve ever seen. It is completely off the bone.’ So he had to have that surgery.”

Taylor would never be the same, his knee-buckling power curve all but gone along with his once 98-100 mph fastball velocity. He missed 1994 from his surgery and never played again above A ball. The best ERA he would post after surgery was 6.08 and the Yankees would release him after the 2000 season.

Unfortunately, the sad tale does not end there.  In 2012, Taylor was sentenced to 38 months in prison for selling crack.

Dennis Sherrill

The 12th overall pick in 1974 never lived up to the promise of his draft position. Instead of being part of the bridge between Bucky Dent and Jeter, the shortstop from Miami would play in only five MLB games total during the 1978 and 1980 seasons. Instead of Sherrill, the likes of Alvaro Espinoza and Bobby Meachum would play the position. Sherrill would slash .234/.293/.322 in seven minor league seasons.

Drew Henson

It’s interesting how careers can intersect and have a later impact. Henson’s draft bust status led the Yankees to acquire Aaron Boone at the 2003 trade deadline, and we all know what happened in the playoff game seven against the Red Sox later that season.

One doesn’t usually consider a third-round draft choice a bust, but Drew is an exception. His status as a QB at Michigan who was battling Tom Brady for a starting spot led to uncertainty about his intentions and devotion to baseball, but he was a first-round talent.

After the 1998 draft, he would sign a six-year $17 million contract to play baseball exclusively. He played well in the minors, including early 2000 for AA Norwich. He was batting .333 when the Yankees sent him to Cincinnati as part of the Denny Neagle trade. The Yankees still coveted him even after the deal and received him back in 2001 for Wily Mo Pena. From 2001-2003, he would never hit above .240 for Columbus and played a total of eight games at the Major League level and get one hit in eight at-bats. After realizing that he was not going to be Boone’s replacement in 2004, he announced he was leaving the Yankees.

Henson went back to football and threw a total of 18 passes for the Dallas Cowboys. On March 24, 2020, the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame announced Henson’s coming induction.

Drew Henson 2002 Topps Traded

Andrew Brackman

Brackman was the 2007 first-round draft pick out of NC State. A big guy at 6’10” with a smoking fastball and plus breaking ball, the Yankees gave him a four year, $4.55 million contract. Elbow issues for the 30th overall pick dropped his draft status. After his signing, the team sent him to Dr. James Andrews to look at lingering concerns, who determined he needed Tommy John surgery. Even after surgery, Keith Law had him in the Top 100 prospects, while Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him as in the list of top ten Yankee prospects.

He would pitch to a 5.38 ERA over five minor league seasons, but had a steady 2010 and was called up to the Yankees in 2011 to pitch in three games, 2 1/3 innings, and give up no runs. The Yankees had an option after 2011 that would have boosted his original contract to $13 million, and the team declined to exercise it. He would go on to pitch 75 innings in the Reds and White Sox organizations until the end of his career in 2013.

Eric Duncan

Duncan was the 27th overall pick in 2003 out of Northern New Jersey. Although blocked by A-Rod at third base, the Yankees saw him as a future piece, even if they would need to find him a new position at first base. Before 2005, Baseball America had him as the Yankees top prospect and 36th best prospect in all of baseball.

He did well in the lower minors but hit the wall in AAA. The Yankees would release him after 2009, and he would move on to play in the minor leagues for the Braves, Rockies, Royals, and Cardinals organizations. His minor league career resulted in a .249/.320/.411 slash line. Duncan never played in the major leagues, but would become the hitting coach for the Staten Island Yankees in 2016 and then Tampa during 2017-2018. He then joined the Marlins organization for 2019 and was promoted to batting coach for the 2020 season.

Dave Parrish

With excellent bloodlines as the son of Lance Parrish, the Yankees had high hopes for their 28th choice in the 2000 draft. He would hit for a .241/.321/.349 slash line and 38 home runs over eight minor league seasons, and never make it past AA in the minors. He was also not a great defensive catcher, limiting his value.

In May of 2004, while the Angels were turning a double play, Jorge Posada was struck in the face and broke his nose. While missing a few games, Parrish was called up to the majors to backup John Flaherty but saw no action.

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DJ LeMahieu can hit anything, anywhere http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-news-and-rumors/dj-lemahieu-can-hit-anything-anywhere/ Fri, 22 May 2020 16:30:54 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77239 DJ LeMahieu was certainly the team MVP last year. He put up an fWAR of 5.4, which is considered to be “superstar” level. In contrast, Manny Machado had a 3.1 fWAR, which lands in FanGraphs’ “good player” category. These fWARs translate to a 0.45 WAR/$1 million for LeMahieu versus a 0.10 WAR/$1 million for Machado.  One reason LeMahieu was so good last year was because of his impeccable plate coverage. He could get a hit no matter where the pitch […]

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DJ LeMahieu was certainly the team MVP last year. He put up an fWAR of 5.4, which is considered to be “superstar” level. In contrast, Manny Machado had a 3.1 fWAR, which lands in FanGraphs’ “good player” category. These fWARs translate to a 0.45 WAR/$1 million for LeMahieu versus a 0.10 WAR/$1 million for Machado. 

One reason LeMahieu was so good last year was because of his impeccable plate coverage. He could get a hit no matter where the pitch was located.

The average line drive percentage across the majors in 2019 was 25.5 percent. LeMahieu’s overall rate was 29.9 percent, and you can see that even on balls out of the zone he was still hitting line drives at a decent clip. 

Additionally, LeMahieu was one of the best at making contact on pitches out of the zone — the league average was 59.6 percent while DJ was at 72.7 percent. Of course, making contact on balls out of the zone doesn’t necessarily result in good outcomes. However, LeMahieu had a very good expected batting in nearly all zones, including those that were not strikes. 

So while he was chasing just slightly below league-average, he was making good contact on those balls that he chased. 

In 2019, LeMahieu was able to barrel up a higher rate of pitches than ever before in his career. Prior to last year, his career-high barrel percentage was 5.2 set in 2018. He upped it all the way up to 7.5 in 2019. For comparison’s sake, the league-average was 6.3.

Here is a chart that depicts runs above average in different parts of the zone. Overall, LeMahieu was worth +31 runs on chase or wasted pitches. Furthermore, he was great at taking pitches in the chase area, accumulating a +32 take runs. While his swing runs in that area was -9, his overall whiff percentage was 14.2 percent, good for the 90th percentile in the league (league-average: 24.3 percent).

We also know he consistently hit the ball hard, as seen by his rolling hard-hit rate, always above league-average.

Not only did LeMahieu have great plate coverage, but he also sprayed the ball all over the field. He was shifted on a total of zero times (league-average was 17.4 percent of the time). Of Yankees who had at least 100 plate appearances in 2019, Mike Ford had the highest rate of shifts put on him at 76.3 percent. The top chart is for LeMahieu, the bottom one is for Ford.

Some people may take LeMahieu’s 2019 to be irreproducible, but if he can continue to utilize his outstanding bat-to-ball skills, I see no reason to believe he can’t be another top-5 MVP candidate whenever baseball returns.   

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Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, and The Cow Story http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/billy-martin-mickey-mantle-and-the-cow-story/ Fri, 22 May 2020 12:13:44 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77284 Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. The most recent episode is the eventful but tragic story of Billy Martin — including the Copacabana incident, the brawls, and many hirings and firings. One person close to Billy throughout his life was Mickey Mantle. Billy and The Mick The Yankees of the 1950s were known for more than just winning — they were notorious partiers. Some of the team’s best players, including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and […]

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Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. The most recent episode is the eventful but tragic story of Billy Martin — including the Copacabana incident, the brawls, and many hirings and firings.

One person close to Billy throughout his life was Mickey Mantle.

Billy and The Mick

The Yankees of the 1950s were known for more than just winning — they were notorious partiers.

Some of the team’s best players, including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Hank Bauer, made up the “Rat Pack.” Also in the crew was scrappy infielder, Billy Martin.

Unlike Mickey, Yogi, Whitey and Hank, Billy was not a superstar player (but he did have clutch moments). If not for manager Casey Stengel, who loved “his boy” Billy, Martin would most likely not have been a Yankee.

Casey and Billy’s father-son relationship started in the 1940s when the two were in the Pacific Coast League. Stengel vowed to bring Billy to the Bronx when he accepted the Yankees job, and was a man of his word.

Not everyone in the organization was enamored with Martin however. GM George Weiss didn’t like Billy’s extracurricular activities, which often included drinking and fighting. He tried to find players to represent the Yankees “professional” organization. Maybe he could tolerate Mickey’s after-hours carousing because he was an MVP, but a slap-hitting infielder? No shot.

Casey was a players’ manager. He looked the other way on the rat pack’s antics as long as the team kept winning — and they won almost every freakin’ year.

Throughout the ’50s the boys had their fun. But Weiss viewed Martin as the rat pack leader and thought he was a bad influence on guys like Mickey. 

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Billy and Mickey were roommates and close friends. The story below, known as The Cow Story, is a hilarious summation of their relationship.

The Cow Story

This story took place while Billy was managing the Texas Rangers. It likely happened in late 1974 or early ’75, because Mickey talks about Martin doing a great job turning the Rangers around (he took them from a newly relocated mess of a franchise to an above-.500 team).

Here’s Mickey in a one-on-one interview where he tells the great Martin/Mantle Cow Story.

This is Billy on Letterman (along with George Steinbrenner) in the 1980s telling the story.

The story sums up Billy perfectly. As a teammate, a manager, and a friend, you want Billy on your side. But damn is he a wild card.

Unfortunately the rat pack was broken up in 1957 after the infamous Copacabana nightclub brawl. Even though the two were never teammates again, they remained close throughout their lives.

Podcast – A Brief History: You’re Fired, The Billy Martin Story

Listen to this week’s history podcast below!

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The Yankees 1957 brawl at the Copacabana http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/the-yankees-1957-brawl-at-the-copacabana/ Fri, 22 May 2020 11:52:35 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77266 Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. It started as a way to stay sane during quarantine, but evolved into something that I look forward to researching each week. On this week’s episode I talked about the eventful but tragic career of Billy Martin. Billy was known for being a clutch and gritty player and earned the reputation as a “franchise fixer” as a manager, even though he was fired from every job he had. […]

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Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. It started as a way to stay sane during quarantine, but evolved into something that I look forward to researching each week.

On this week’s episode I talked about the eventful but tragic career of Billy Martin. Billy was known for being a clutch and gritty player and earned the reputation as a “franchise fixer” as a manager, even though he was fired from every job he had.

The Yankees parted ways with Billy multiple times as a manager and once as a player, in 1957.

The Bronx in Billy

Alfred Manuel Martin Jr. — Billy — hit .257 in 11 big-league seasons for the Yankees, Athletics, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Braves, and Twins. He was a Yankee from 1950 until June 15, 1957, when he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics.

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Billy was never a great player but had great moments, like the time he saved the 1952 World Series with a clutch defensive play in Game 7. Then a year later he set a World Series record with 12 hits, batting .500 for the series with 8 runs-batted in. Martin once said:

My one-for-four would kill ya.

In 105 World Series plate appearances, he hit .333 with 5 home runs — that’s a homer every 21 PA (keep in mind he was a slap hitter who went yard every 58 PA in the regular season). Billy showed up when it mattered most.

Yankees manager Casey Stengel said:

If liking a kid who will never let you down in the clutch is favoritism, then I plead guilty.

Casey and Billy had a father-son relationship which dates back to to their days with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. Martin played under Stengel in the late ‘40s and they developed a bond. Stengel loved Billy’s hard-nosed attitude, and Billy, who had a rough upbringing with no father figure, looked up to Casey as a mentor. 

Stengel was dead-set on bringing Billy to New York when he got the Yankees job, but not everyone with the Yankees was sold on Martin.

General Manager George Weiss did not like Martin’s reputation of being an on-field instigator and off-field carouser. Weiss tried to bring players to the Yankees that would represent the team well on and off the field. Maybe he could look past Mickey Mantle’s after-hours antics because he was a Triple Crown-level talent. But a .257 hitter? No way.

Casey got Billy to the Bronx anyway and by 1952 he was the starting second baseman.

The Rat Pack vs The Bowlers

Casey was a players’ manager. He turned a blind eye to the Yankees “Rat Pack” — which included Martin, Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Hank Bauer — as long as the team won. And they won almost every freakin’ year.

After a World Series loss in ‘55 and win in ‘56, the Yankees got off to a slow start in ‘57. Weiss had been campaigning behind the scenes to trade Martin but Stengel always stood up for him. Weiss wanted Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek to get more playing time and reportedly warned Martin — whom he viewed as the rat pack’s leader — to stay out of trouble before the season started. The reality was Weiss always warned them to stay out of trouble. They just never listened.

The incident that spelled the end for Billy happened when the gang and their wives were out celebrating his 29th birthday in May. After a booze-filled dinner they went to see Sammy Davis Jr. at the Copacabana nightclub, a spot Yankees players frequented in the ’50s. 

They encountered a bunch of bowlers who were heckling Sammy Davis, and the Yankees players were pissed. There are numerous versions of what actually happened, but here is what I’ve pieced together…

Billy told the guys to stop or they’ll have to “step outside.” They actually ended up going downstairs where they brawled. One of the bowlers, a Bronx deli owner, ended up with a concussion and a broken jaw. Some people thought Martin punched the guy but it was most likely Hank Bauer, and that’s who the eventual lawsuit was brought against.

Bauer denied ever punching the guy and the Yankees players never said who actually hit him. 

In the Billy Martin Yankeography, there’s a story about Leonard Lyons, a New York Post entertainment columnist, who wrote one of the first stories about the incident.

Lyons was at the club and apparently he made a deal with Yogi. Lyons would sneak the Yankees out through a back entrance if he could get the scoop on the story the next day. The next day his column started:

There are now three great battlefields in American history. Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and the Copacabana nightclub…

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The story gets weirder. Police refused to take action against Bauer, so Edwin Jones (the Deli owner) had Bauer taken into custody on citizen’s arrest. It all led to a trial and the players had to testify before a Grand Jury.

This was terrible press for the team but the opening Weiss needed to oust Martin.

Players were fined and some benched. Whitey Ford was supposed to pitch the next day but Stengel pulled him. He dropped Bauer to 8th in the lineup, but kept Mantle 3rd. When asked why Mickey wasn’t punished, Casey said:

I’m mad at Mantle, too, for being out late. But I’m not mad enough to take a chance on losing a ball game and possibly the pennant.

The case was eventually thrown out for insufficient evidence and Mantle, Yogi, and others laugh about it today.

The fallout from the incident hit Martin the hardest. He was traded on June 15 along with Ralph Terry and two minor-leaguers to KC for Harry “Suitcase” Simpson, Ryne Duren and Jim Pisoni.

Pinstripes Passion

The trade worked out well for the Yankees. The minor-league players they traded didn’t amount to anything, Duren was a great relief pitcher for them, and Terry found his way back to the Yankees 2-years later.

Martin was devastated. He didn’t have the same passion for putting on another uniform and bounced from team-to-team, never spending more than a season anywhere.

His first game with the A’s was actually against the Yankees, and in classic Billy fashion he showed up for the big moment — he had a home run and 3-runs scored. But he was never the same player after the trade and his “problems” became even worse. 

In 1960 when he was with Cincinnati, Martin was sued for punching Cubs pitcher Jim Brewer during a benches-clearing brawl. Brewer suffered broken bones in his face, was hospitalized and didn’t pitch the rest of the season. The brawl started because Martin took exception to a pitch near his head from Brewer. Whether Brewer threw at Martin or not, Billy had a long history of instigating on-field brawls so nobody was surprised he was at the center of it. Billy was suspended for five games and fined.

The following year would be his final playing, but he eventually found his calling as a manager.

Podcast – A Brief History: You’re Fired, The Billy Martin Story

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Billy Martin was fired from every job he had http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/billy-martin-was-fired-from-every-job-he-had/ Fri, 22 May 2020 11:04:28 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77254 This week’s ‘A Brief History’ podcast is about Yankees fan favorite, Billy Martin. Billy was known for being a clutch baseball player and gritty manager. He was made famous for his outbursts, his feuds, and his flaws. But Billy is remembered for being hired and fired — a lot. Billy’s Calling After Martin retired in 1961, he eventually found his calling: managing. His first job was managing the Twins in 1969, and that is where his reputation as the “franchise […]

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This week’s ‘A Brief History’ podcast is about Yankees fan favorite, Billy Martin.

Billy was known for being a clutch baseball player and gritty manager. He was made famous for his outbursts, his feuds, and his flaws. But Billy is remembered for being hired and fired — a lot.

Billy’s Calling

After Martin retired in 1961, he eventually found his calling: managing.

His first job was managing the Twins in 1969, and that is where his reputation as the “franchise fixer” started. In his first three managerial jobs, he took Minnesota from 7th place to 1st place, a below-.500 Tigers team to division contender three years in a row, and a newly relocated Rangers franchise legitimate. Keep in mind this was all before he managed the Yankees to a championship.

Billy preached fundamentals and discipline. He was seen as an innovator; he embraced the designated hitter when it was established in the American League, his teams often bunted, sacrificed and were aggressive on the base paths, and he utilized platoon players to take advantage of match-ups. This sometimes meant sitting veteran players, a very unpopular thing to do during this era.

His record with the above three teams was 482-410, but he was fired from all three. Why?

With Minnesota he got into a fight with one of his own players! (pitcher Dave Boswell). He kicked former US vice president Hubert Humphrey out of the clubhouse after a loss while he was visiting, embarrassing the Twins owner. He was also seen drinking heavily on road trips.

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In Detroit Billy had a well-publicized feud with Tiger slugger Willie Horton. His on-field tirades were becoming more frequent, and even though fans loved them, Tigers ownership did not. He once called out the stadium organist in Oakland for supposedly distracting his players and accused the Baltimore scoreboard operator of stealing signs.

The last straw was when he told his pitchers to throw spitballs because Indians pitcher Gaylord Perry was not being called-out by umpires for throwing spitballs. Martin told the media this after the game and, because that was illegal, he was suspended. He was fired before the suspension was up.

In Texas his drinking got even worse and he was fired after he publicly criticized the owner for not knowing anything about baseball.

Do you realize how much of an a-hole you have to be, to be fired from three different teams in less than 5-years when your winning percentage is .540? 

Billy was combative, argumentative, defiant, and especially did not like to be told how to do his job.

But he could manage. 

The Yankees: Part I & II

Billy was a Yankee at heart. After he was traded to Kansas City in 1957, his playing career derailed because he just didn’t have the same passion for putting on a uniform without pinstripes. His heart was always in New York.

Steinbrenner wanted a splash managerial hire in the mid-’70s and he got exactly that with Billy.

Martin took over the Yankees during the 1975 season and, like he did at his previous destinations, started to turn the team around.

The Yankees won the pennant for the first time in over a decade in 1976 and won the 1977 World Series. But the Bronx was burning the entire time.

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The Yankees’ biggest free agent signing of the ’70s was Reggie Jackson. As soon as Reggie arrived in the Bronx, he and Billy clashed.

Billy had a history of not getting along with his star player for one reason or the other (see Willie Horton in Detroit). Among things they feuded over: Billy refused to bat Reggie cleanup, Reggie was pulled from a game mid-inning at Fenway Park triggering a public dugout scuffle, and Billy did not like the interview Reggie gave to ‘Sport Magazine’ when he said “I’m the straw that stirs the drink.”

A divide was created. It was Billy vs Reggie, which turned into Billy vs George. 

It hit a boiling point in ’78 after the team fell far behind Boston in the division. The blow-up between Billy and Reggie this season happened after an embarrassing loss to Kansas City in extra innings. With the game tied in the 10th, Billy gave Reggie the bunt signal to advance Munson to second base. After one attempt, Martin reconsidered and took the sign off. Reggie defied his manager and continued to bunt, eventually popping-up his final attempt.

The Yankees lost in the 11th and dropped to 14-games behind Boston in the division. It was a low point for the team, but also the manager. The next day, Martin said:

I was shocked. I understood what he was doing. Here was a player defying me and his teammates. It stinks.

The bunting incident led Martin to suspend Reggie. Steinbrenner actually supported the decision, but a few days later Billy shot his way out of a job with these comments to the media regarding Reggie and George:

The two of them deserve each other. One’s a born liar, the other’s convicted.

Billy resigned on July 24. He would have been fired had he not. Bob Lemon replaced him. 

Billy’s outburst about Reggie made sense. His outburst towards George came out of nowhere because the owner had his back with the Reggie suspension. Steinbrenner said he was shocked to hear Billy’s comments because their working relationship had been so good recently.

Martin was going through some health issues at the time. He had also been upset about a clause in his contract that George insisted be put in that subjected Billy to fines if he made public comments critical of Steinbrenner or the front office. 

Perhaps most importantly, Billy feared he lost the players in his clubhouse.

The Yankees epic turnaround began in late July. They stormed back to tie Boston, won the division tiebreaker game, and won the World Series. Billy just wasn’t there to manage it.

The circus surrounding Billy was not over however. Less than a week after resigning, it was announced at Old Timers Day that Martin was returning to manage the Yankees for the 1980 season. Keep in mind this is July 1978! The Yankees were announcing a future managerial hire for a year-and-a-half down the road.

The plan was for Martin to serve as a team advisor and then succeed Bob Lemon in 1980. Lemon would then become the general manager, replacing Cedric Tallis. Tallis was going to return to his previous duties as vice president and director of scouting.

With George, nothing goes to plan… But he loved the spectacle. 

The Yankees struggled to start the ’79 season so George fired Lemon and brought back Billy early. Lemon didn’t get much rope for managing the historic ‘78 comeback.

The ‘79 season was sad and difficult. The Yankees finished in 4th place and Munson’s death in August devastated the team, especially Billy who was very close with Thurman.

After the season Martin was fired because he got into a fight with a marshmallow salesman at a hotel in Minneapolis.

WHAT?!

According to Martin’s autobiography, the marshmallow man told Martin he didn’t deserve his Manager of the Year award. Martin responded by betting the man $500 he could beat him up. Martin won the bet.

Billy was unfortunately so hot-headed that he let a marshmallow salesman — one of the more ludicrous job titles I’ve ever heard of — get under his skin.

After this firing, Billy and the Yankees went on a brief hiatus.

Welcome Worn-out

Oakland hired Billy for the 1980 season and he once again got results.

“Billy Ball” — aggressive baseball with a small-ball twist — was made famous. Martin took the 100-loss A’s to 2nd place his first year, then the ALCS his second. Martin appeared on the cover of Time Magazine for his efforts, a rare feat for a baseball manager.

Although he had his team in the playoffs, the 1981 ALCS loss to the Yankees crushed Billy. The following year he wore-out his hometown welcome and was fired, but he was not out of work long.

The Yankees: Part III, IV & V

Billy was back in the Bronx for the 1983 season. Things got off to a jovial start but it did not last long.

The team finished 3rd despite winning 91-games. The season was highlighted by the George Brett pine tar incident but Billy was also suspended on two separate occasions for umpire abuse. In December Billy was replaced with Yogi.

There was no one incident that led to this firing; there was just general distraction among the team all year and Billy was always at the center.

After the Yankees were subpar under Yogi, Steinbrenner vowed he would at least give him the 1985 season to improve. Always a man of his word, George fired Yogi and replaced him with Billy early that season.

The Yankees were good in 1985. Rickey Henderson was a monster and Don Mattingly won the MVP. The team won 97-games but finished behind Toronto in the division.

Martin was a mess. After a losing streak in September effectively knocked them out of the playoff race, he fought Ed Whitson at a hotel bar in Baltimore. Whitson was well known among Yankees fans as being a great pitcher elsewhere who stunk once the Yankees signed him. In other words, he was the Carl Pavano of the 1980s.

Whitson, who apparently had martial arts training, kicked Billy’s ass, breaking his arm.

Billy was fired from the Yankees for the 4th time after the season.

Of this firing, George said:

The reason I took myself out of this thing was because I was simply fed up with everything that happened with Billy after the season. The barroom stuff was bad enough, but then he demanded to renegotiate his contract and made it sound like I was ungrateful to him.

Who else brought him back to manage four times? Who else paid half of his hotel bills that weren’t paid? Who else gave him a $200,000 loan to pay his back-income taxes? He tried to call my bluff and this is what has happened. I’m sorry it happened, but I just got fed up.

Unfortunately you can probably sense a pattern at this point. Billy clearly had drinking and anger problems and George was enabling him by repeatedly re-hiring him for the most prestigious job in baseball.

It almost ended at Billy 4. Martin remained close to the team as an advisor and in 1986 his number was retired. He said in his speech:

I may not have been the greatest Yankee to ever put on the uniform, but I was the proudest.

I don’t doubt his words.

George couldn’t resist temptation, hiring Billy for a 5th time in 1988. In May he was involved in yet another brawl, this time at a Dallas strip club. He also dealt with more on-field umpire issues and suspensions. A month later Steinbrenner fired him.

There were rumors of Billy VI for the 1990 season but Martin sadly died on Christmas Day 1989 in a drunk driving incident.

In a twisted way, Billy’s death — and George’s suspension from baseball operations — were the best things for the Yankees as an organization. They purged themselves of the 1980s and rebuilt in the 1990s into what we know them as today.

Podcast – A Brief History: You’re Fired, The Billy Martin Story

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A Brief History: You’re Fired, The Billy Martin Story http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-podcasts/a-brief-history-youre-fired-the-billy-martin-story/ Fri, 22 May 2020 01:10:20 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77251 The Bronx Pinstripes Show – A Brief History On today’s history show we discuss the eventful but tragic career of Billy Martin the player and manager, from the infamous Copacabana incident, to the brawls and all the hirings and firings. Today’s show is sponsored by BetOnline. Use code BLUEWIRE at BetOnline.AG to get your welcome bonus. You can listen to previous episodes of The Bronx Pinstripes Show, including our history shows, HERE.

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The Bronx Pinstripes Show – A Brief History

On today’s history show we discuss the eventful but tragic career of Billy Martin the player and manager, from the infamous Copacabana incident, to the brawls and all the hirings and firings.

Today’s show is sponsored by BetOnline. Use code BLUEWIRE at BetOnline.AG to get your welcome bonus.

You can listen to previous episodes of The Bronx Pinstripes Show, including our history shows, HERE.

The post A Brief History: You’re Fired, The Billy Martin Story appeared first on Bronx Pinstripes | BronxPinstripes.com.

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It’s 2020: Where’s Bobby Murcer’s plaque? http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-news-and-rumors/its-2020-wheres-bobby-murcer-plaque/ Wed, 20 May 2020 18:16:34 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77232 It’s been four years since I publicly questioned why the New York Yankees have not honored Bobby Murcer with a plaque in Monument Park. Today, on what would have been Bobby’s 74th birthday, I ask,  no, demand that he is finally honored by the Yankees. Obviously, COVID-19 is going to put the breaks on any kind of celebration this year. But, the Yankees should already be planning a Bobby Murcer Day for 2021. The Yankees have added a number of […]

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It’s been four years since I publicly questioned why the New York Yankees have not honored Bobby Murcer with a plaque in Monument Park. Today, on what would have been Bobby’s 74th birthday, I ask,  no, demand that he is finally honored by the Yankees. Obviously, COVID-19 is going to put the breaks on any kind of celebration this year. But, the Yankees should already be planning a Bobby Murcer Day for 2021.

The Yankees have added a number of plaques and retired numbers recently to commemorate some of the baseball greats that have graced the Yankees’ uniform.  Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, and Derek Jeter have been among those that have received one or both honors since 2013.

Murcer’s smiling face should be the next to grace a plaque out in Monument Park, and not just for his contributions on the field but for what he did for the sport, other players, and for humanity. He also was an outstanding broadcaster and chaired the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.). When he battled the brain cancer that ultimately took his life, he showed great courage from which family, friends, and fans drew great inspiration.

Murcer, the player

Based on reports by scout Tom Greenwade, the same scout who recommended Mickey Mantle, the Yankees signed the amateur free agent Murcer to a deal on June 2, 1964.  Murcer had turned 18 less than two weeks earlier. It was the beginning of a long-term relationship between Murcer, a native Oklahoman like his boyhood idol Mantle, and the Yankees.

But, the old guard was gone and the future looked bleak. The team had hit rock bottom in 1966 when it finished in last place in the 10-team American League. At the start of the 1970s, the Yankees had Murcer, Thurman Munson, Roy White, and Mel Stottlemyre, who was a 22-year old rookie when the Yankees last reached in the World Series in 1964, and not much else.

Murcer was the big name in the lineup and because he was a fellow Oklahoman and played shortstop, he was dubbed the next Mickey Mantle. (Of course, it was a ridiculous and unfair comparison. Mantle was larger than life and his tape-measure home runs were that of legend).  The two were briefly teammates in 1965-1966 when Murcer got the call to the Major Leagues at the age of 19, but requisite military duty the two next years caused Murcer to missed out on Mantle’s final two seasons in baseball.

When Murcer returned for the 1969 season, he was the clear star and had the number “1” on his back to prove it. He played in 152 of the 162 scheduled games. He played third base, right field and center field. Like Mantle, he went from shaky infielder to a power-hitting, smooth-fielding center fielder, but that’s where the comparison ended. He occupied center field for the next four seasons before manager Bill Virdon moved him to right field in favor of Elliott Maddox.

The Yankees started to become relevant again in the early-to-mid 1970s led by Murcer and Munson. Murcer perfected his left-handed swing for Yankee Stadium’s “short porch” in right field and averaged 25 home runs and 89 RBI for his first five years in the Bronx. Unfortunately, Yankee Stadium underwent a two-year renovation from 1974-1975, and the team went into exile at the Met’s Shea Stadium home.

The transition for a left-handed hitter meant a huge difference in hitting a ball 296′ for a home run in right field in Yankee Stadium, to 338′ to accomplish the same feat in Shea Stadium. Though he still drove in 88 runs, Murcer’s home run total dipped to 11 in his only season at Shea Stadium. That winter, the team made a “Bobby for Bobby’ trade; Murcer was dealt to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Bonds. Murcer fans were crushed. He took with him five All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove Award, and three top-10 AL MVP finishes.

The next four-plus seasons saw Murcer play for the Giants and the Chicago Cubs before a trade back to the Yankees occurred on June 26, 1979. Murcer joined the team in Toronto and was immediately in the lineup. Murcer was home again, the place that he never wanted to leave. Though he cherished his time back in the Big Apple, he also had to deal with tragedy.

Munson had been one of Murcer’s closest friends in his original stint with the Yankees, and now the duo was reunited, along with Lou Piniella. But sadly, it was short-lived. A little more than a month after the Yankees reacquired Murcer, Munson was killed when he crashed his private plane. Murcer delivered one of the eulogies at Munson’s funeral, then was the hero of that night’s game at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Down 4-0, he smacked a three-run home run and a ninth-inning, game-winning two-run single. The Yankees won and Murcer and Piniella hugged in the dugout afterward, but the rest of the season was meaningless.

As for the team’s success upon his return, Murcer got back a year too late. The team had won three straight AL pennants and back-to-back World Series. The team returned to the playoffs in 1980 but lost to Kansas City in the ALCS.

A year later, in the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, they lost the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games after winning the first two. It was Murcer’s only two trips to the post-season in a career that spanned parts of 17 seasons. He retired in June of 1983 to make room for rookie Don Mattingly, and immediately joined the Yankees’ broadcast team.

Murcer, the broadcaster

With his wit, baseball knowledge, and friendly delivery, Murcer was a natural as a broadcaster. Whether the Yankees were on the YES Network, WPIX, WWOR-TV, Fox-5 (WNYW), or Sportschannel, Murcer was there. He spent 22 seasons working with the likes of Phil Rizzuto, Tom Seaver, Tim McCarver, Bill White, Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, and so many more. He also spent parts of three seasons on the Yankees’ radio broadcast.

The highlights of his television career included a 2007 nomination for the Ford C. Frick Award for “major contributions to baseball,” and three Emmy Awards.

It was always a treat on Old Timers’ Day when the network mic’d Murcer as he interacted with his fellow retirees on the field. One year, he had then-Yankee Jason Giambi to serve as his hitting coach and even sported a fake tattoo on his arm to emulate the very inked Giambi.

Murcer, the B.A.T. Chairman

Not all baseball players had the good fortune to play in the multi-year, multi-million-dollar era. In fact, many of the greatest stars were lucky if they could crack six figures, and many more than that didn’t make more than a fast-food worker does today. That is why the Baseball Assistance Team was formed in 1986 by former players, not just for their fellow players, but umpires, front office personnel, and others employed by baseball. From B.A.T.’s own mission statement -: “If a member of the Baseball Family is in need of medical, financial or psychological assistance B.A.T. will do all it can to help.”

In his role as Chairman of the organization, Murcer visited with teams during Spring Training to remind them how important it is to take care of those baseball alumni that are less fortunate than others. The Bobby Murcer Award is given to the AL and NL team that donates the most money to B.A.T. each year.

Additional Contributions to baseball

In addition to roles as a player, broadcaster, and player advocate, Murcer also contributed to the game as a member of the front office. Though it was only for a brief time, he spent part of the 1985 season as an assistant to Yankees’ General Manager Clyde King and was also the President of the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers for a couple of seasons.

From Skoal Dippin’ Man to Anti-Tobacco

Chewing tobacco has been a huge part of American culture, and baseball culture as well. In the past, it was not an unfamiliar sight to see a player with a huge wad of “dip” in their cheek. Bobby Murcer was no exception. He even recorded a song, “Skoal Dippin’ Man”, in 1982 that was dedicated to the love of chewing tobacco. But as people became more aware of the dangers of smoking, they also discovered more about the dangers of smokeless tobacco. Murcer became an anti-tobacco advocate in the early 1990s.

After seeing a family member suffer from cancer, Murcer was instrumental in getting the Oklahoma Senate to create and pass a bill that helped to make it harder for minors to obtain tobacco. The bill was later signed into law.

Courage Under Fire

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In Dec. 2006, Murcer was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent surgery. He made it to Yankee Stadium on Opening Day and was greeted with a huge standing ovation as his image was shown on the Stadium’s video board. On May 1, he returned to a semi-regular broadcasting schedule on the YES Network.

His mere appearance encouraged others to fight, just as he did, until his passing on July 12, 2008. In November of that year, the love of Bobby’s life, his wife Kay, came to New York City to help launch the Murcer Mobile MRI Unit. It was part of an effort for early detection by The Brain Tumor Foundation.

The Time has Come

For all that Bobby Murcer did for the game of baseball and for the New York Yankees in particular, it’s time for the organization to recognize his legacy with a plaque in Monument Park.

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You’re off the Mark, Teixeira! http://bronxpinstripes.com/former-yankees/youre-off-the-mark-teixeira/ Tue, 19 May 2020 17:23:27 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77226 Last week, Mark Teixeira had some interesting comments regarding the current MLB negotiations. Embed from Getty Images “People all over the world are taking pay cuts and losing jobs. I would rather make pennies on the dollar and give hope to people and play baseball than not make anything and lose an entire year of their career,” Teixeira remarked. First and foremost, let me say I am a huge Tex fan. He was a great Yankee and was instrumental in […]

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Last week, Mark Teixeira had some interesting comments regarding the current MLB negotiations.

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“People all over the world are taking pay cuts and losing jobs. I would rather make pennies on the dollar and give hope to people and play baseball than not make anything and lose an entire year of their career,” Teixeira remarked.

First and foremost, let me say I am a huge Tex fan. He was a great Yankee and was instrumental in bringing us our 27th World Championship in 2009. Switch hitters with power don’t grow on trees. He is also the best defensive first basemen I’ve ever seen play.

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Tex was a great player, but he was also the cookie-cutter Boras client. He hit free agency and decided that he was going to sign with the team that offered the most money. Prior to hitting free agency, Tex had played in Atlanta and Anaheim. Both of those teams showed interest in signing him. Additionally, Teixeira drew interest from his hometown Baltimore Orioles, another small-market team.

Let’s be honest- his past relationships and hometown bond meant very little. Tex was on the verge of signing with Boston, who had the highest offer on the table. It wasn’t until the New York Yankees swooped in at the last minute and topped the Red Sox offer that he decided he wanted to be a Yankee. He agreed to an eight-year, $180 million dollar deal just before Christmas.

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I don’t blame him at all. The Yankees were offering the most money, they had the best roster, and were moving into a sparkling new palace of a ballpark. He got the best deal and also got his ring. I would’ve done the exact same thing.

The problem with his statement is that Teixeira personally would have never agreed to play for pennies on the dollar, at any point. He was going to sign with the team that offered him the most money. Period. It could’ve been the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, or a team on Mars. But he was going to the highest bidder.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get the most compensation for your work. It’s fine to chase every last dollar. But it’s wrong to publicly campaign for your peers to do something that you never would’ve done.

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Recent Yankee mock draft results http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-news-and-rumors/recent-yankee-mock-draft-results/ Tue, 19 May 2020 14:06:03 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77212 Last week I wrote about two prospects who have been mocked to the New York Yankees in this year’s draft: Carson Tucker and Justin Foscue. We have a few new mock drafts this week from Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Keith Law of The Athletic, and Mike Axisa of CBS Sports. Here’s who they have the Yankees taking. Austin Wells Wells is a catcher from the University of Arizona and Callis notes he has “hittability, power, and plate discipline, though […]

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Last week I wrote about two prospects who have been mocked to the New York Yankees in this year’s draft: Carson Tucker and Justin Foscue. We have a few new mock drafts this week from Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline, Keith Law of The Athletic, and Mike Axisa of CBS Sports. Here’s who they have the Yankees taking.

Austin Wells

Wells is a catcher from the University of Arizona and Callis notes he has “hittability, power, and plate discipline, though he may wind up at first base or in left field.” Wells is a bat-first catcher which fits the Yankees mold. Axisa and Law do not have Wells going in the first round of the draft. MLB Pipeline grades Wells as a 55 hit and power prospect which speaks to his hitting ability. The Yankees actually drafted Wells in the 35th round in 2018 so you know they like him. Here is the full report from MLB Pipeline:

Wells was a solid prospect at Las Vegas high school power Bishop Gorman, but a combination of him only DHing all year along with his commitment to the University of Arizona took him out of contention to sign. The Yankees did take him in the 35th round in 2018 and he’s now back as a Draft-eligible sophomore coming off a solid freshman season and very strong Cape Cod League showing.

There is no question that Wells’ bat plays. The left-handed hitter has power to all fields, with good timing and a simple setup at the plate. He has strength and bat speed and controls the bat head well to make loud contact. He does strike out a bit, but he also draws a lot of walks. There are more concerns about where he might play defensively. He’s adequate behind the plate, and while his arm stroke and release are fine, his throws are inconsistent. He is a decent enough athlete to play first or figure things out in left field.

A team taking Wells with its first pick might want to send him out as a catcher until he proves he can’t play the position. His bat should play regardless of his eventual defensive position and he could end up following a Kyle Schwarber type path to the big leagues.

Clayton Beeter

In addition to having an 80-grade name, Beeter has an 80-grade curveball according to scouts who were able to see him before the pandemic. Law says the RHP from Texas Tech also has a “plus fastball and a deceptive delivery from a high slot.” Axisa has Beeter going No. 29 overall to the Dodgers and Callis does not have him going in the first round. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 51st best prospect in the draft and writes:

Beeter has had as many elbow operations as quality starts (two) in college, yet he pitched so well this spring that some scouts think he belongs in the first round. He blew out his elbow during fall practice before what would have been his first season at Texas Tech, having Tommy John surgery in December 2017 and an arthroscopic procedure seven months later. He led the Red Raiders’ 2019 College World Series semifinalists with eight saves as a redshirt freshman, then really opened eyes with nearly twice as many strikeouts (33) as baserunners (18) in 21 innings in 2020.

Beeter added rather than lost velocity as he worked longer stints this year, sitting at 93-96 mph and peaking at 98 with his fastball. He has a pair of power breaking balls, a wipeout curveball in the low 80s and a slider in the mid-80s that some evaluators believe is even better. He even flashes at least a solid changeup, though he doesn’t turn to his fourth option very often.

Employing an overhand delivery that creates deception and steep downhill plane, Beeter tunnels his pitches extremely well. Scouts can’t figure out how he went from averaging 8.7 walks per nine innings as a reliever to 1.7 as a starter without any significant mechanical changes. His lack of track record is worrisome but it’s hard to argue with the quality stuff and strikes he unleashed this spring.

Dillon Dingler

Another fantastic name, Dingler is an offense-first catcher out of Ohio State. Axisa writes Dingler “has good power and good strike zone knowledge” and that he is a safe pick. Law has Dingler going 26th overall to the A’s and Callis has him going 23rd overall to the Indians which makes him the only first-round consensus among these players. Dingler is MLB Pipeline’s #24 overall prospect and they write:

Dingler teamed with Ball State right-hander Kyle Nicolas, another early-round prospect for the 2020 Draft, to win Ohio state Division I baseball and basketball titles when both were Jackson High seniors in 2016-17. He spent most of his freshman season in center field and broke the hamate bone in his left hand during the season opener as a sophomore, costing him a month and limiting him after he returned. He performed well this spring, giving him a chance to become the third first-round pick in Ohio State history, following Nick Swisher (2002) and Alex Wimmers (2010).

Dingler reminds area scouts of former Wright State catcher Sean Murphy, a 2016 Athletics third-rounder who has blossomed into one of baseball’s top catching prospects. He doesn’t quite have Murphy’s plus-plus cannon but he does possess well above-average arm strength and his accuracy continues to get better as he gains experience. His receiving also continues to improve and he shows more athleticism and mobility than most backstops.

While Dingler batted just .267/.362/.396 in his first two college seasons, he controls the strike zone well and has plus raw power, so he should be able to hold his own as a right-handed hitter. He ran a sub-6.6-second 60-yard dash during the Buckeyes’ scout day this fall, though he probably won’t maintain plus speed as he stays behind the plate. In addition to his physical tools, he also offers strong makeup and was voted an Ohio State captain as a sophomore.

My Take

This is an interesting mix of players. Dingler and Wells are similar as offense-first players. Wells has a higher hitting potential but Dingler has a better longterm defensive ability. I would guess the Yankees favor Wells because they drafted him out of high school. However, as a draft-eligible sophomore, Wells has a lot of leverage and with the restrictions on the draft this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to stay in school until next year.

Beeter is the wild card here with a ton of upside but little to no track record. Nobody seems to know how he suddenly got better this year which is concerning but also intriguing if it sticks. It is also worth noting these are all college players, and it would make sense for teams to favor drafting college players this year since they likely have had more time to scout them.

You can contact Rohan on Twitter @rohanarcot20

 

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DO NOT THROW AT TINO! http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/do-not-throw-at-tino/ Tue, 19 May 2020 04:28:06 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77211 BRONX, N.Y. — After sparing the AL East standings the two previous years, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles were clearly headed in different directions in 1998. The rivalry reached its boiling point on this date in 1998 and Armando Benitez was public enemy number one in New York. Trailing 5-3 in the eighth inning, the Bronx Bombers stormed back. A three-run blast to right by Bernie Williams, off Benitez, made it 7-5 Yankees. The ensuing batter, Tino Martinez, […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — After sparing the AL East standings the two previous years, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles were clearly headed in different directions in 1998. The rivalry reached its boiling point on this date in 1998 and Armando Benitez was public enemy number one in New York.

Trailing 5-3 in the eighth inning, the Bronx Bombers stormed back. A three-run blast to right by Bernie Williams, off Benitez, made it 7-5 Yankees. The ensuing batter, Tino Martinez, was plunked square in the back. Martinez was incensed. Benitez was tossed. All hell broke loose.

Both benches and bullpens cleared for a full out brawl. Darryl Strawberry got hit cuts in. Seemingly the whole Yankee bullpen, Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson, and Mike Stanton all took their swipes and swings at Benitez.

Whenever it appeared as though the scuffle was dying down, it reignited multiple times. It got so intense that Straw came over the top with a nice left hook and the teams poured into the Baltimore dugout. Ex-Yankee and O’s reliever Alan Mills punched Strawberry and had to be restrained.

Absolute pandemonium. Sheer bedlam in the Bronx. The camera shot panning to David Cone at the end is priceless because that brawl looked exhausting too.

When play finally resumed, Tim Raines took ex-Yankee Bobby Munoz deep to right for the 9-5 capper.

After the game, Benitez was suspended for eight games, Strawberry and Lloyd were handed three games, while Mills and Nelson got two.

An epic brawl and a reminder, do not throw at Tino!

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On this date in Yankees history: David Wells pitches a perfect game http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/on-this-date-in-yankees-history-david-wells-pitches-a-perfect-game/ Sun, 17 May 2020 05:49:00 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77207 BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 1998, David Wells achieved perfection. On Beanie Baby Day at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees faced the Minnesota Twins. In the Yankees 4-0 victory, Wells retired all 27 batters he faced and became the thirteenth pitcher in major-league history to record a perfect game. While Don Larsen tossed a perfect game in the 1956 Fall Classic, Wells became the first Yankee in the regular season to pull off the feat. Wells threw […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 1998, David Wells achieved perfection. On Beanie Baby Day at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees faced the Minnesota Twins.

In the Yankees 4-0 victory, Wells retired all 27 batters he faced and became the thirteenth pitcher in major-league history to record a perfect game.

While Don Larsen tossed a perfect game in the 1956 Fall Classic, Wells became the first Yankee in the regular season to pull off the feat.

Wells threw nine pitches in the first frame, 13 in the second stanza, and struck out the side in the third inning on 19 pitches.

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Cruising along into the seventh inning, Wells kept it going as Tino Martinez beat Brent Gates to first base on a hot smash grounder. Plus, Wells rebounded after falling behind 3-1 to Paul Molitor to register a strikeout.

During the eighth inning, Chuck Knoblauch stabbed a grounder up the middle by Ron Coomer to make the out.

In the ninth inning, Wells not only posted his eleventh strikeout of the contest but finished off the perfecto by virtue of a Pat Mears flyout to Paul O’Neill in right to end the game.

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On this date: Mariano Rivera’s first save http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/on-this-date-mariano-riveras-first-save/ Sun, 17 May 2020 05:06:19 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77203 BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 1996, Mariano Rivera recorded his first of many saves. In fact, Mo would end up with 652 saves before it was all said and done. While Rivera wasn’t the official closer at that point, fittingly he registered the save for starter Andy Pettitte. Facing the California Angels, Rivera struck out ex-teammate Randy Velarde. After Rivera’s future teammate Mike Aldrete singled to left, Rivera induced a 4-6-3 double-play ball from Garret Anderson, as Andy […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — On this date in 1996, Mariano Rivera recorded his first of many saves. In fact, Mo would end up with 652 saves before it was all said and done.

While Rivera wasn’t the official closer at that point, fittingly he registered the save for starter Andy Pettitte.

Facing the California Angels, Rivera struck out ex-teammate Randy Velarde. After Rivera’s future teammate Mike Aldrete singled to left, Rivera induced a 4-6-3 double-play ball from Garret Anderson, as Andy Fox flipped to Derek Jeter, who fired to Tino Martinez to seal the 8-5 victory.

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On this date: Posada powers a comeback http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/on-this-date-posada-powers-a-comeback/ Sat, 16 May 2020 16:44:39 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77199 BRONX, N.Y. — It was a wild west shootout in the South Bronx. The seesaw affair saw the New York Yankees overcome a nine-run deficit to defeat the Texas Rangers 14-13. Some of the Yankees 2005 pitching saviors were battered around in the early going of this 2006 contest. Shawn Chacon was lit up for seven runs in 1.1 innings of work. Yet, the pinstripes would chip away against Rangers starter John Koronka. A Miguel Cairo single to left in […]

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BRONX, N.Y. — It was a wild west shootout in the South Bronx. The seesaw affair saw the New York Yankees overcome a nine-run deficit to defeat the Texas Rangers 14-13.

Some of the Yankees 2005 pitching saviors were battered around in the early going of this 2006 contest. Shawn Chacon was lit up for seven runs in 1.1 innings of work.

Yet, the pinstripes would chip away against Rangers starter John Koronka. A Miguel Cairo single to left in the second stanza got the Yankees on the board. Derek Jeter, who collected four hits on the evening, delivered an RBI-double to center in the third inning. Later in the frame, Jorge Posada plated Jeter with a single to center.

During the fifth frame, Posada lifted a sac fly RBI to left and Robinson Cano followed with an RBI groundout.

Posada was also a rock behind the plate. During the sixth inning, on a two-out Hank Blalock double to left off Ron Villone, future Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira rounded the bases and headed for home but was cut down at the plate, as Posada withstood the collision and held onto the ball for the final out.

Posada Ends a Long Night With a Long Ball - The New York Times

With the Bronx Bombers trailing 10-5 in the sixth inning, Jeter clocked a three-run homer to right off reliever Scott Feldman. Later in the inning, a Bernie Williams RBI-double to right off Joaquin Benoit pulled the pinstripes within one. Two batters later, Cairo provided the pinstripes their first lead with a two-run single to left.

Yet, there was no time to rest and the lead was short-lived. Brad Wilkerson socked a two-run tater to right off Scott Proctor in the seventh.

New York would pull even in the home half, as Posada hoisted a sac fly RBI to left.

In the ninth inning, Texas scrapped away against Mariano Rivera and reclaimed the lead on a Rod Barajas RBI-double.

However, in the home half, the Yankees still had more hits in their 17 hit barrage on the night. Facing Akinori Otsuka, Johnny Damon reached on an infield single.

With the Bronx Bombers down to their final out, Posada blasted a two-run homer to right-center and it was bedlam in the Bronx!

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The time Billy Martin saved the World Series http://bronxpinstripes.com/yankees-history/the-time-billy-martin-saved-the-world-series/ Fri, 15 May 2020 20:39:16 +0000 http://bronxpinstripes.com/?p=77190 Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. It started as a way to stay sane during quarantine, but evolved into something that I look forward to researching each week. This week’s episode is Part II of The Subway Series, which starts in the golden era of New York City baseball — the 1950s. There were many stars at the center of the baseball world for the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants, but light-hitting infielder Billy Martin […]

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Every Friday I’ve been releasing ‘A Brief History’ podcast about the Yankees. It started as a way to stay sane during quarantine, but evolved into something that I look forward to researching each week.

This week’s episode is Part II of The Subway Series, which starts in the golden era of New York City baseball — the 1950s. There were many stars at the center of the baseball world for the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants, but light-hitting infielder Billy Martin did as much to help his team win the World Series as any of them.

ICYMI — you can listen to Part I here.

Billy

Martin is best known for his relationship with George Steinbrenner and being hired and fired five times as Yankees manager. But before he was a World Series winning  manager, he was a World Series winning player.

Billy hit .257 in 11 big-league seasons for the Yankees, Athletics, Tigers, Indians, Reds, Braves, and Twins. He is a five-time World Series champion (1951, ’52, ’53, and ’56 as a player, and ’77 as a manager). His number 1 is also retired by the Yankees and he’s honored in Monument Park for his contributions to the organizations over the years.

While his career stats are underwhelming, he made a name for himself by making key contributions to the Yankees in the 1950s.

Saving the World Series

After the Yankees beat the Giants in the 1951 World Series, the decade was all about the Yankees vs. Dodgers.

The ‘52 Series was another 7-gamer between the clubs. All games except the second were close, and the Yankees had to win Games 6 and 7 at Ebbets Field to prevail.

Mickey Mantle and Johnny Mize had monster series, but Billy Martin was credited with “saving the series” late in Game 7.

The Yankees had a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 7, but the Dodgers had the bases loaded and Jackie Robinson at the plate. He hit a high pop-up in the infield that first baseman Joe Collins (who had come in the game for defense) lost in the sun and wind. Martin made a charging catch right next to the mound to end the inning, and the effectively end the series.

This was Jackie Robinson’s third World Series and he had yet to perform on the biggest stage. His team had lost each time and he was hitting just .212 in 66 World Series at bats to that point, punctuated by that pop-up with the bases loaded. The following year Robinson performed better (he hit .320 in the series) but his team lost yet again to the Yanks all thanks to Billy Martin.

Clutch

Billy took things to another level in the 1953 World Series, torturing the Dodgers by hitting .500 with 8 RBIs.

This season was the best of his career capped off with what would have been a World Series MVP had the award been given (that wouldn’t be until ’55).

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Martin was then drafted into military service and missed the entire 1954 season, returning late in ’55. The Yankees lost the pennant in ’54 — coincidentally, the only year the Yankees did not advance to the World Series while Martin was on the team. Who knows what would have happened had he been there?

Martin’s accomplishments on the biggest stage cannot be ignored. In 105 World Series plate appearances, he slashed .333/.371/.566 with 5 home runs. Keep in mind he was not a home run hitter. In the regular season he hit a homer ever 58 plate appearances. In the World Series he hit one every 21 plate appearances. Billy saved his best for the biggest moments.

Podcast – A Brief History: The Subway Series, Part II

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