A few things before we get started:
1. Pete did not quit. He did not resign. He did not take a job as the guy who cleans Springsteen’s guitar every night (though I’m sure he’s probably considered it at various points). He’s just on furlough, which every Gannett employee (including me) has had to do. Rest easy; he will return to your daily consciousness on Monday.
2. This mailbag post is long. Very long. So, if that’s not your particular brand of vodka, I apologize. It’s actually your fault, though, since the number of emails I received was considerable. More emails equals more words. It’s a vicious cycle.
So here we go. You ask, I answer. The first-ever Furlough Week Mailbag. For everyone’s sake – including my paycheck’s – let’s hope there doesn’t have to be a second.
John writes: My question for you is whether Melky got a pie in the face of shaving or whipped cream? He seemed to be rubbing his eyes a little too much for the whipped variety.
Sources tell me it was whipped. Actually, knowing how much of a health nut Girardi is, it wouldn’t surprise me if he forces Burnett to use low-fat Cool Whip in the future.
Steve writes: I’ve noticed that Nick Swisher always looks “toward heaven” as he readies for each pitch. Is there some reason for that?
It’s to recognize his grandmother, who raised him, Betty Lorraine Swisher. She passed away from brain cancer in 2005. He also has her initials tattooed on his chest. On the bottom of his bat handles, he has her initials and his grandfather’s initials, and usually kisses the handle as he walks to the plate. In a story in the Daily News, Swisher was quoted as saying, “A lot of people ask me if I’m looking up at the sky, but the one thing that really helped me get through the tough times of losing those two were to give them the best seats in the house. In my mind, that’s the top of the stadium. At Yankee Stadium, it’s actually the top of the (scoreboard screen), so I visualize them sitting there, watching me play. I know they’re cheering for me. I just wish they could be here in person to see all this.”
Ryan (among others) writes: When Molina and Posada are healthy what is going to happen to Cervelli? Do you think there is a chance they would carry 3 catchers? Moving forward do you think Cervelli will be the backup catcher next year since Molina is in the final year of his contract? What about making Posada mostly a DH next year and having Cervelli catch most games?
I think it’s a stretch to make any long-term predictions about Cervelli at this point – remember, as good as he’s been (and he’s been very good), he’s still only had 36 big-league at-bats in his entire career. That said, I do think carrying three catchers would be a good idea for the Yankees, especially if Posada may have to DH with any kind of regularity. Being able to pinch-hit (or run) and still have a catcher on the bench would make late-game decisions a lot easier for Girardi.
Sean writes: I’ve read a lot about the new stadium (and been to one game myself) but I still haven’t heard anything about whether or not the Yankees have changed their oft-draconian bag/purse/backpack policy and their ridiculous “solution” of renting lockers at the nearby bowling alley. Any word on this?
Sean, I checked with a Yankee rep and was told the bag policy at the new stadium is the same as before. I was also referred to this link that lays out all the rules. Here’s one I didn’t know: You’re allowed to bring in your own bottled water. If I were a fan, I’d rather buy a bottle for a buck on the street versus five bucks inside. But that’s just me.
Adam writes: For the Yankees to win the AL East, do they need to take the Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer approach? Chuck Norris is more of the loud roundhouse-kick to your face while Jack Bauer is the covert, suddenly shooting at you and then strangling 40 terrorists all of a sudden. The obvious, in your face, ever-present Chuck Norris? Or the suddenly resurgent Jack Bauer that comes like a storm and overtakes his opponents?
Great question, Adam. I’d say Chuck Norris is the better bet in the AL East, though in less-stacked divisions like the AL Central I think a Jack Bauer will end up doing the trick (you could even make the argument that the Minnesota Twins were Jack Bauer before Jack Bauer even existed). It’s also worth noting that I’m fairly sure some Yankees fans would prefer the team go “Rambo” style over either of the two options you mentioned.
Grant writes: Dave Eiland has escaped virtually any criticism from the Yankees early poor pitching performances. … How is Eiland wearing teflon? Do we have a pitching coach problem?
Well, at this point, I’d say the pitching has certainly gotten a lot better. But even beyond that, I look at Eiland as behind Girardi on the watch list; to me, the manager in this situation will be on the hot-seat before the pitching coach. Of course, at this point, in the midst of a 10-game winning streak, talking about anybody going anywhere seems a little silly. BTW, in the earlier Steinbrenner days, is there any doubt that Eiland would have been gone a month ago? The way things are now, though, I think he’s safe (and doing a fine job).
Joe writes: Since you’re doing such a great job filling in for Peter Abraham this week, I’m dedicating this brief “Sam the Butcher” clip to you.
Anyway, congratulations, and keep up the good work!
PS: My original thought was to send you a clip of Sam from Diff’rent Strokes, but I couldn’t find an appropriate YouTube clip. The clips were all strange. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m a weirdo or anything.
Uh … why would I think that?
Ron writes: Is there any reason against using Joba in the bullpen when the Yankees begin the post-season?
The only one I can think of is that they want to use him as their fourth starter because Wang still isn’t right. Otherwise, I’d have no problem with it — and I’m someone who thinks that, for the longterm, Joba should absolutely be a starter.
Sean writes: Is it just me or are players too nice to opposing players? Sure, every once and awhile they’ll be a bench-clearing brawl or a a temper flare between pitcher and batter but, overall, it seems like every time I turn around a player gets a hit and is laughing with the opposing fielder instead of talking trash. It seems to me that the rivalry is more important to the fans than it is to the players. Any chance we are ever going to go back to the good old days of Thurman Munson and Fisk? Why is everyone so nice to each other!?
I tell you, Sean, it’s such a shame how everyone is so nice these days. We need more anger in this world!
Seriously, though, I have no problem with players being friendly with each other. One of the downsides of free-market pro sports is the movement from team-to-team by players, and these days most veterans have gotten to know a high number of their colleagues from around the league. Chatting at first base shouldn’t be seen as being disloyal.
Martin writes: Why do hitters so often take a 3-0 pitch but swing at a 3-1 pitch? Isn’t the 3-0 pitch (maybe a get-it-over fastball) usually a better pitch than the 3-1 pitch? Wouldn’t the same reasons apply to not swinging at the 3-1 that were in place for not swinging at the 3-0? Especially with runner(s) on and 2 outs, wouldn’t it be better for a batter to be at 3-2, so the runner(s) can get a running start (if the batter hasn’t already walked)?
I’m with you, Martin, this is one of those things that I’ve never liked. Especially if you’re a good hitter, why are you taking 3-and-0? It’s the best pitch you’ll see all day! The risk that you might pop-up is far outweighed by the reward of you crushing a meatball 500 feet. I also always thought hitters like Mike Piazza, who ALWAYS took the first pitch, should have changed it up more often since pitchers often threw a cookie right down the middle on the first pitch just to get ahead. Crush the first pitch on to a LaGuardia runway once or twice and suddenly you might get ahead 1-and-0 a little more often.
Eric writes: Do you think Torre and the Yankees will ever patch things up?
I certainly hope so, Eric. For a team that values its history as much as the Yankees say they do, it’s the height of pettiness to hold a grudge against how Torre’s career here ended. Say what you want about him, but he did bring four championships here and was a part of one of the franchise’s greatest eras. He can’t be ignored.
Jake writes: Don’t you find some merit in the argument that every time a Yankee pitcher has a pop fly sail out of the park he (or his replacement) then has to pitch to another batter? Don’t you think those scenarios will build up over 81 games to make every pitcher’s arm that much more tired?
I do find some merit in that, Jake, and you’re not the only person to make that point. I just think it’s not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. Are there issues that come with a park playing smaller? Of course there are. But having a lot of home runs hit doesn’t make the park a disgrace or a travesty; it just makes it a park where home runs are hit. And, let’s not forget, I also said I think it’s still too early to be putting permanent labels on the new Stadium. Fans often criticize the media for being in a “rush to judge” something or someone; don’t turn around and do the same thing here.
Brendan writes: What do you think will happen to Johnny Damon after this season ends? Do people think he would accept a two-year deal, and that the Yanks would offer a two-year deal?
It’s pretty amazing how often players who are in a contract year perform, isn’t it? Give Johnny credit – if he keeps up this pace, he’s going to make it hard for the Yankees not to try and bring him back. That said, he’ll be 36 next season and probably looking for one last contract — I’m not sure a two-year deal will get the job done and, if I were the Yankees, I wouldn’t go beyond that.
Duhfok writes: How about Phil Hughes as the closer after Mo, a la Papelbon?
Interesting theory, but – in the same vein as my Joba opinion – I still believe Hughes has the stuff to be a starter. Until he shows, once and for all, that he doesn’t, I’m sticking with him a starter.
Skip writes: What’s going to happen to newspapers?
Beats me. Maybe instead of “National Mulligan Day,” I should have created, “National Buy-a-half-page-ad-in-The-Journal-News Day.”