Tuesday, September 27, 2016

APPRECIATE LIFE EVERYDAY


I woke up Sunday so excited for "Sunday Funday." I had prepared beef stew on Saturday night and cooked it in the slow cooker overnight. We had plans to make some chicken wings (which turned out great) and have a few cold ones while watching football. I was excited to see my Packers get some redemption. Then this happened...
No friggin' way. No friggin' way. I spent the next 10 minutes searching Twitter and refreshing the results. No way this was true. No way in hell.


It is true and it is devastating. Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident. One of the best pitchers, and best people, in the game lost his life in an accident.

I watched Don Mattingly's press conference and damn near shed a tear with him.
You can have everything going for you and in an instant, life is over. Sometimes there is no explanation why, sometimes it just happens and sometimes perhaps it was just your time. Whatever the circumstances, it doesn't make it easy.


Now one thing I saw that pissed me off were some Yankee fans saying that Jose Fernandez will never be a Yankee now. I swear. As true as that is though, that's pretty heartless. Jose Fernandez will now never be a father to the baby his girlfriend and he were expecting. He leaves behind family, friends and teammates.  Bottom line... being a Yankee or not is meaningless.

The Yankees have been losing lately, and honestly after reading about Jose Fernandez... I don't care. Sunday was a day of mourning to me... for all of us. Writing this is helping. A young man with a contagious smile and love for the game lost his life. It's something we will never be forgotten.


Jose Fernandez was the kind of kid you want your kid to be like. He overcame the biggest obstacle, escaping from Cuba, to follow a dream of playing Major League baseball in the USA.

In the words of Toby Keith "I'm not crying cause I feel so sorry for you, I'm crying for me." And more importantly, for your soon to be newborn baby, your family, friends and teammates.

I'm genuinely heartbroken. As Casey wrote Sunday on Twitter:

Very sad, and still, days later, unreal.

#RIPJose



--Dan Lucia, BYB Senior Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @DManLucia

  



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Monday, September 26, 2016

WHEN THE RALLY IS ABOUT UNITY


While the world was watching the Presidential Debate, I, who am not political at all, watched the Yankees pull out a big win against the Blue Jays. It was a rally. But it didn't start that way...

The Yankees were down 3-2 until the 9th inning.  To be honest, it just looked like another loss for the Bombers. I mean, it makes sense... we've been on a slide for days.


But we didn't fade away tonight.  In fact, there was life.  In the 9th inning, it was Mark Teixeira hitting a solo shot to tie it 3-3.  Then, right after that, Aaron Hicks hit a 2 run homer scoring Didi Gregorius. Jacoby Ellsbury then singled knocking in 1 more run. It was then that Gary Sanchez sacrificed home Brett Gardner.  It was then 7-3.


In the bottom of the 9th, the Blue Jays knocked in 2, but the Yankees were able to hold them, Tommy Layne got the save, and in the end it was Adam Warren who collected the win.

And just like that, the Yanks won and kept hope alive for us Yankee fans.


Meanwhile in Miami, the most touching tribute I have ever seen took place. For Jose Fernandez, the Marlins players all wore a Jose Fernandez #16 jersey in his honor tonight.  They stood around the mound sobbing before the game began.
 

They then circled and with Giancarlo Stanton leading the charge, he told his teammates that they will get through it together.  Fighting off the tears they pointed to the sky.


A moment incredibly reminiscent of Reggie Jackson sobbing in the outfield the night Thurman Munson was honored after his death.  Teams coming together to honor a teammate, a family member in a very touching moment.


The moment was gut wrenching and right. And while Jose Fernandez was never a Yankee, he was apart of a baseball family. And if you don't understand that... look around the team you root for the next time there's a big moment or a horrible tragedy.  You will see a baseball community rally t o become one.  Look at the Yankees tonight with their big victory.  Look at the Marlins tonight after the loss of Jose Fernandez.

In the end, there is victory or tragedy every day of our lives.  But that's life... and sometimes it's not fair and sometimes it's very rewarding.  But we as human beings need to stop and look around once in a while. Take a deep breath. Hug your kids, your dog, the mailman.  Enjoy every moment... and if it's not a good one, surround yourself with family and friends, be strong and rally.  No matter what though, good or bad... rally hard... because in the end, in life... rallying is unity if you have people around you, you love.

Two stories of victory and tragedy tonight.  It's incredible how 2 drastically different emotions trickle out the same outcome.

Final: Yankees 7 - Blue Jays 5
Final: Marlins 7 - Mets 3




IT WAS A SAD, SAD DAY IN BASEBALL


Yesterday was so much more than just being a Yankees fan....or even just a baseball fan. Yesterday was a reminder that there is a human element in baseball. The exciting post season chase at this time of year means nothing without the love and compassion that go with it. Some of us get to watch, listen or play for many years while some of us are taken far too early. I was reminded of that yesterday.


Vin Scully is the voice of baseball and there is no other way to put it. In 67 years he brought baseball into our lives. He was the voice of our parents and grandparents, our hopes and dreams. So as I watched and listened to the last home game Scully would ever call at Dodger stadium on Sunday it hit me.....this was the end of an era. No one else will ever be a Vin Scully. He is something that just can't be replicated. 

We have all seen some amazing games as sports fans, but Scully has seen things some of us never will. My grandfather died when I was very young, but I remember stories about the love he had for the then Brooklyn Dodgers. Scully has been announcing for the Dodgers since 1950 so he has seen the Dodgers evolve over the years. He saw Jackie Robinson break into baseball and watch the game transition from the tension we had years ago to where we are today. Between his days in Brooklyn and Los Angeles he has called about 9,000 baseball games. He's called 20 no-hitters, three perfect games and 12 All-Star games. Simply put he is a legend.

Scully will say goodbye to baseball ironically the same way he fell in love with the game....watching the Giants. The world fell in love with baseball as they tuned into their transistor radios to listen to Scully call a game. He is the voice that no one else can ever replicate. He will be missed in that booth next year and for Dodgers fans, games will never be the same.


While some of us get to walk away from the game on our own terms after long careers with life long memories some of us are not so lucky. The baseball world is also mourning the loss of Jose Fernandez, another baseball icon. This is a reminder of how short life is and how everyone has to go out everyday and give their all because tomorrow is never guaranteed to us. There isn't always another game tomorrow. Tragically early Sunday morning, Jose Fernandez lost his life in a boating accident.


We have been following Fernandez here at BYB for a long time now. We have always admired him because with his young talent....who wouldn't? But after hearing the news this morning I was brought back to reality that he was more than just a great young arm who had a very promising career ahead of him. MLB Network spoke with other players who also had fond memories of him. As I listened to David Ortiz talk about how much joy and energy and how he was always smiling. He really appreciated the opportunity to come here from Cuba and play the game he loved. It made me realize that he really touched a lot of people not only for his amazing gift, but for his spirit. Freddie Freeman shared his own stories of Fernandez saying just how approachable he was. He was always talking to everyone not only on the bench but players from other teams on the field. He brought a compassionate side into the game. He was a people person.


While the Marlins did not play yesterday other teams hung a Fernandez jersey in their dugout. I was touched to see Yoenis Cespedes hang a Mets jersey in the dugout with Fernandez written on the back of it.

As I listened to more stories from people working within the organization it hit me even harder. This was a 24-yea old young man who was about to be a father. I heard stories about how how amazed Fernandez was when he first came to the United States about automatic hand dryers and water faucets in a public bathroom. He had a real appreciation for the little things in life and took nothing for granted. It is a spirit like his that will be missed in such a great game. Like many have already expressed, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and the organization.

So yes, we lost two baseball greats yesterday. Baseball is more than just a game, Scully reminded us that it is the little pleasures in life like baseball that bring more life to our stories. Fernandez reminded us that life is precious and to enjoy what we have and never take it for granted. Baseball is just a game with many different outcomes, but there is always a deeper story then just a stupid game.

Fellow BYB writer Dan Lucia will have a powerful piece about more of this, specifically Jose Fernandez tomorrow. It's been chosen as tomorrow's BYB feature.  Please be sure to check it out.




 --Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer & Editor
  Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ





DELLIN BETANCES MAY JUST NOT BE READY


We love Dellin Betances here at Bleeding Yankee Blue.  BYB Senior Writer Erica Morales has been celebrating this man for a few years now and her most recent piece is DELLIN BETANCES STEADY AT CLOSER. You gotta check it out.

Mikey O'Hara wrote this piece about Dellin a while back. 2014 to be exact: DELLIN "ICKY THUMP" BETANCES.

But you have to wonder how the Yankees feel about him as their future closer though. Just being honest.  I'm starting to get the feeling that they aren't loving him in that role... yet.


I was reading the New York Post and Ken Davidoff, one of my favorites, and he says there is reason to believe that the Yankees would want Aroldis Chapman back.  Interesting...

"With Betances struggling once again Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre, failing to close out his own victory in a 4-3 Yankees loss to the Blue Jays — another soul-crushing defeat on this 2-8 road trip from hell — and with the presidential debate set for Monday night, one clear sentiment emerged:

Dellin Betances, you’re no Aroldis Chapman...


While Chapman is no shorty, at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, he is far more athletic and graceful afield than Betances. And as a left-hander, Chapman controls the running game far better. Entering Sunday night’s Cardinals-Cubs game, opposing base runners had stolen one base in two tries against Chapman....

If Betances hasn’t necessarily earned a demotion back to setup man, such a reassignment might give the 2017 Yankees their best shot at getting back into October."


And couple that with this... MLB Trade Rumors puts this out there today:

"The Yankees have been rumored to be interested in a reunion with Aroldis Chapman... Signing Chapman in free agency and moving Betances back to a setup role would again give the Yankees an elite end-game pairing."  


This is something that is very, very true seeing how Betances has performed lately, I would agree with it.  I believe that Betances back at the set up role would be huge for his confidence and helpful for the team, especially if we could get a guy like Aroldis back. Then D could hand off of Chapman and then, over time, he would take over that closing role for the New York Yankees again.  No one is saying Betances CAN'T close.  I'm just suggesting that maybe Betances isn't ready to close.

Yanks should try and re-sign Chapman this season in my opinion. 

What do you think? Comment.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

WILD CARD IS BRILLIANT MLB MARKETING STRATEGY


Regardless if the Yankees ultimately sneak into the MLB Wild Card or not, the race itself has not disappointed.  As a matter of fact, the concept of the Wild Card in its entirety is brilliant marketing.


According to MLB.com, "In total, with 1 1/2 weeks left in the season, there were still 12 clubs in the Wild Card races, meaning 30 percent of the franchises still had postseason hopes not based on division titles. That kind of thing was the hope when former Commissioner Bud Selig pushed for the Wild Card and an expanded postseason format, which were initiated in 1995. One of the reasons behind the Wild Card concept was the 1993 San Francisco club that won 103 games, but had nowhere to go after it finished second to Atlanta in the NL West."


Just after the 2011 season, MLB announced that it would be adding two wild card teams to the postseason. The two wild card teams in each league face each other in a one-game playoff, much we saw with the Yankees versus the Houston Astros last season. The one and done winner of this game advances to meet the top seed in the Division Series.


While most of the division races are finalized, the Wild Card is giving some unlikely teams some additional post game help.  It's like YES Announcer and formed Baltimore Oriole Kenny Singleton said during this week's coverage of the Yankees, "I love September baseball." And so do the fans.


Duke University has its own Chronicle and earlier this month one of the writers had this to say about the Wild Card phenomenon, "As someone with a roommate whose Boston Red Sox have bounced back-and-forth all season between leading their division, hanging onto a wild card and sitting on the outside looking in, I’ve had to live with the insanity and excitement that the final month of baseball can bring. I don’t figure it’s going away any time soon." And he'd be right.




As a matter of fact, Cleveland.com, a newspaper much like our NJ.com out of Ohio, is running a poll to see if fans would like to see the game extended to a three-games series. The early results say, that the majority of fans who have completed the poll would in fact like to see the Wild Card extended.
 


I have to say, I like the Wild Card and I love baseball, so why not have more of both? Some players are not in favor, including Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen who gave his opinion prior to Spring Training this season.



"You run into a hot pitcher who has his best stuff and your season is over in one night," McCutchen said. "It really stings. You play all season to get to the playoffs and it doesn’t seem quite fair that you have no margin for error. It was hard to watch the rest of the playoffs (last year). We had big dreams," reported CBS in February.  The Pirates have not had Wild Card success, failing to move on two out of the last three years.

According to MLB.com"Of the 21 World Series played since the Wild Card was in place, six have been won by Wild Card teams. The Marlins became the first Wild Card team to win the World Series in 1997. Then they won again in 2003, thus gaining the distinction of being the only team to win two World Series without winning a division title."

So, the Wild Card, although a terrific marketing strategy for Major League Baseball yielding additional merchandise, ticket sales and media coverage, is stressful for teams and their fans, like us. It makes the season overall longer, but it enables fans who love the sport, more fall ball, which is a good thing for me.  Time is ticking for the Yankees' hopes, but guess what, there's so much post season ahead of me as a baseball fan, that it makes the sting a little less potent.



--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist

Twitter: @suzieprof





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