Bernie Williams, who was the center fielder for the Yankees for 16 seasons, will deservedly have his No. 51 jersey retired by the Yankees tonight. He was an integral part of Yankees teams that won the World Series in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000.
He was an All-Star five times, won the Gold Glove award twice and one on Silver Slugger award. He won the batting crown with his .339 batting average in 1998, and he also scored 101 runs, hit 30 doubles, had 26 homers, drove in 97 runs, and had a career-high .575 slugging percentage. During the seven-year prime of his career (27-33), he drove in 100 or more runs five times, he had an average of .307 or better seven times, he scored 101 runs or more seven times and hit 25 or more homers five times.
According to James Smythe, Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams is third on the franchise list in doubles, fifth in hits, fifth in walks, sixth in runs scored, sixth in offensive WAR, seventh in homers and seventh in RBI. He was someone who came through repeatedly under pressure and could be counted on to play everyday. He played the game the right way and had a number of clutch hits in the playoffs. He had two walk-off homers in the playoffs and his 80 RBIs in the postseason are the most of all-time.
There is a Core Fore right now, but it should really the called the “Core Five” because those four World Series championships wouldn’t have happened without Williams.
During his speech he said he wished he could be playing right now and then said maybe not. He said the 2015 version is more suited for guitar than for playing baseball. He also thanked Joe Torre for being there for him. Williams also thanked his teammates who were on the field with him for being part of the best years of his life.
He fittingly thanked the fans at the end and said that the Yankees fans are the best fans in the world. He thanked the fans for embracing him as a son as he makes his home in New York. Wiliams is happy that he is a Yankee for life. Nobody will ever wear his iconic No. 51 again.
Here is his walk-off homer against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS in 1996:
The Yankees (21-12) beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 11-5, on Monday night, and they were helped by the offense hitting five homers at Tropicana Field. After not hitting many homers last season, the Yankees are currently in second place in the American League with 43 home runs. Their 152 RBIs are also second most in the American League to Toronto’s 167.
The Yankees have 12 wins in away games this season, which is tied with the Houston Astros for the most in all of baseball. Their improved defense, starting pitching and power on offense has helped the team get off to a better start than anyone expected. This could be sustainable because they have played the toughest schedule in baseball and Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia can get better the rest of the season and Masahiro Tanaka will be returning soon.
Alex Rodriguez, Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira’s homers helped CC Sabathia record his first win since April 24 of 2014. The Yankees had only scored nine runs for Sabathia during his previous six starts before Monday’s, but in last night’s start the Yankees scored nine runs. Sabathia had a 5.45 ERA coming into the game but deserved to have two or three wins.
“The team wanted to get runs for CC,” Joe Girardi said. He thought it was great that Sabathia got his first win of the season after pitching well enough in two of his previous games.
In the first inning, after Logan Forsythe doubled to deep left center, Didi Gregorius made a perfect relay throw to home to get Steven Souza Jr. out and only allow one run to score on the play. Sabathia had a rocky first inning, but he was able to really rebound after that as he retired the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings.
He was able to get Tim Beckham to ground into an inning ending double play in the fifth that was started by Gregorius. In the sixth inning, Sabathia struck out Evan Longoria, who has hit very well against the Yankees the past few years, on an inside fastball to end the inning.
He allowed three earned runs in the seventh inning, but his stuff was much better than it was in his last start and it is an encouraging sign for him that he pitched well against a team that he has struggled against in the past (5.45 ERA between 2012 and 2014).
“During the middle of (the game) I just let it go,” Sabathia said. “I came in to righties. I felt good tonight. It’s good to get a win in a game that I started.” Sabathia allowed three earned runs, six hits, two walks and a season-high nine strikeouts. Teixeira, who hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning, thought that it was great to see Sabathia go deep into the game and record a lot of strikeouts.
Headley, whose three-run homer in the fourth was his fourth of the season, was also impressed with how Sabathia pitched. “I thought CC did a great job,” Headley said. “I think he was mad at himself for giving up three runs in the seventh.”
The Yankees were able to hit all of their homers with two outs, which proves that they are not getting worse with two outs like some teams do.
Beltran’s solo homer to right center in the fifth was his second homer in as many games and after his 2-5 performance is now hitting .333 in his last 10 games. His average has increased from .181 on May 1 to .219 on May 12.
He is now in sole possession of fourth place on the all-time RBI list among switch hitters. It is key that Beltran has turned around his season offensively because he adds another power hitting switch hitter in the middle of the lineup. He is likely somewhere in between the .333 average that he has in his last 10 games and his .219 season average.
Below is an interview that Jorge Posada did with Dan Patrick on Monday. Posada is an all-time great Yankee catcher who played on the team for 17 years, was an a All-Star five times, won the World Series four times and won five Silver Slugger Awards. He was promoting his new book and shared stories about Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Joe Torre and life as a Yankee.
Derek Jeter, who is the best shortstop in Yankees’ history and has always carried himself the right way on and off the field, announced today on his Facebook page that he will be retiring at the end of the season. It will truly be an end of an era because the Core Four of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Jeter all will have retired.
Jeter is the Yankees’ career leader in games, hits and stolen bases, and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is also second in doubles and third in runs scored. He is one of the best clutch baseball players in MLB history and can be considered the best shortstop of all-time. He has played the 37th most games in MLB history and could overtake Mel Ott for 26th place if he stays healthy.
Hal Steinbrenner, as George Steinbrenner’s son and the current principal owner of the Yankees, knew Jeter well and remarked about how much Jeter will be missed by the organization and the fans. “He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and out family,” Steinbrenner said.
He hit his first career homer on opening day in 1996 in his first season as the starting shortstop and hit a homer at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th career hit. Going into the 2014 season, Jeter currently has 3,316 hits (10th place), and if he can repeat the amount of hits he had in 2011, he will finish with the sixth most hits in MLB history. Also, Jeter has the 13th most runs scored and if he scores as many runs as he did in 2011 he will overtake Stan Musial for 9th place.
He is the model that every young baseball player should follow. He did not showboat on the field, he always acted like he had been there before, he has always treated the media with respect, he was able to make all of the routine plays (as well as perfecting the jump throw into the hole) and went out of his way to help young players. Numerous players have either chosen to wear No. 2 because of him or have chosen to be a shortstop because of Derek Jeter.
Since Jeter’s rookie season in 1996, Jeter has had his Turn 2 Foundation. “Turn 2’s mission is to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2″ healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development, and positive behavior.”
Jeter always treated the higher-ups in the organization with respect as he was known for calling his long-time manager Joe Torre, Mr. Torre, and calling George Steinbrenner, who was the owner of the Yankees from 1973-2010, Mr. Steinbrenner. Torre, who is close to Jeter, had very complimentary remarks about Jeter’s character.
“You want your daughter to marry (him). He’s just a standup guy that’s got a great deal of character, which unfortunately there is not a whole lot of those people around anymore,” Torre said.
I will now go into some of his many memorable plays throughout his Hall of Fame career that were either clutch, prove that he does anything that it takes to win or a combination of the two.
The first one was in 1996 (when I was in the beginning of my baseball fandom) during the ALDS round of the playoffs against the Baltimore Orioles. Jeter, during his rookie season, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth that tied the score at four. A 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the wall in right and snagged the ball helping Jeter get credit for the homer. This homer turned out to be critical in helping the Bronx Bombers win the game. The Yankees went on to win the game and their first of four championships in five seasons.
A second memorable play was when Jeter made his “flip play” in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. This play helped the Yankees win their first of three consecutive games after being down 2-0. After Shane Spencer missed both cut-off men in trying to get Terrence Long out at home, Jeter appeared out of nowhere to flip the ball to Jorge Posada just in time to get Long out at home. The Yankees ended up getting the 1-0 win. This play displays that Jeter has always made winning plays.
A third memorable play was Jeter’s walk-off blast off of Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim to win Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. As a result of his vintage homer to right field, the Yankees were able to tie the series at two, and earn Jeter the nickname Mr. November. This is because this was the first time that baseball had ever been played during November. The Yankees would lose the series after it went back to Arizona, but this was yet another time that Jeter came through with a homer when they team needed it.
A fourth memorable play was the epic Jeter dive into the stands during a regular season game on July 1, 2004 against the rival Boston Red Sox. It was a 3-3 game in the 12th inning with runners on second and third with two outs. He sacrificed his body as his momentum took him to crash into the seats after catching Trot Nixon’s line drive near the foul-line. He removed from the stands with a busted chin and other scrapes on his face.
A fifth memorable play was the aforementioned 3,000th hit. He had been struggling leading up to this milestone, but Jeter had a game against David Price and the Rays on July 9, 2011 that only he could have had. He was 5-for-5 and his 3,000th hit was a deep homer to left field. The whole team predictably mobbed him at home plate to congratulate him. Jeter is the fist Yankee in their storied history to reach 3,000 hits. After he already had his 3,000th hit, Jeter was impressively able to get the game winning single in the eighth inning.
There will never be another player quite like Derek Jeter. He is a role model to kids, is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports, he plays the game the right way and is an athlete with one of the most endorsements. It would be a fitting ending to a Hall of Fame career if Jeter is able to win his sixth World Series in his final season.
Without Nick Swisher and Russell Martin, the Yankees will need to utilize a more team oriented approach because they will be without two power hitters.
Since the Yankees never intended to bring back Swisher, which is understandable, they will need a full season out of Brett Gardner, who will be healthy once again. As of now, the Yankees offense outfield will be different than ones in recent memory because Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki all have the potential of stealing more than 25 bases.
The Yankees will have to return to the way that they played while Joe Torre was the coach in the late 1990s. A different player stepped up every game and they were not as reliant on the home run.
If they do this it does not mean that they will win the World Series next season like they did in a four out of five year stretch, but being a boom or bust offense has not worked the last three seasons.
The Yankees will still have Mark Teixiera, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson in the middle of the lineup. They should all be able to hit more than 25 homers, and Derek Jeter could hit 20 homers out of the two hole and steal 20 bases if he can continue at last year’s rate.
There have been rumors of a Curtis Granderson trade, but as of now the outfield will be Ichiro, Granderson and Gardner. That offense could work, but Ichiro will need to increase his power a little, which he is capable of doing.
However, a benefit is that the way that the outfield is currently constituted will mean that the defense will be better than last season because they will have Ichrio for the whole season and Gardner is a better and smarter outfielder than Swisher.
As I previously posted, the decision that will most hurt the 2013 NY Yankees will be not bringing back Russell Martin. They could have decreased the impact of this decision by signing the veteran catcher, A.J. Pierzynski. He ended up signing with the Texas Rangers for one-year, 7.5 million, which the Yankees certainly could have offered.
It was reported that they had no interest in Pierzynski, who is one of the most durable catchers. He hit a career high 27 homers last season, which would have made Yankee fans think back to Jorge Posada.
The Yankees are now left with likely seeing either Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli start the season at catcher. They are both defensive minded backstops, which seems like it will be theme for the 2013 Yankees, since they have not been willing to spend on free agents.
Romine’s positives include being the highest regarded young catching prospect, being reliable behind the plate, while showing the ability to limit his strikeouts and throw out a high percentage of potential base stealers.
You can’t say that the Yankees will be better than last year, but with luck they could be just as good. That is all of the veterans need to perform like they are capable of and they will need to have a dominant bullpen.
With the win over the Tampa Bay Rays the Yankees were able to win their 17th American League East Championship. They were able to do it after winning both games of the double header 4-2, combined with the Red Sox losing to the Baltimore Orioles.
This was Boston’s third loss in four games to the last place Orioles, who have done a great job of playing spoiler during the last two weeks of the season. It is not very likely that the Red Sox will blow a 2.5 game lead with six games remaining but anything is impossible for them since they have lost 12 out of their last 15. The Yankees have continued to help Boston by beating Tampa but the Red Sox have not been able to take advantage in the last few days.
It was very fitting that a member of the Core Four, Jorge Posada (who is 40), who rightfully got relegated to the bench with Jesus Montero’s arrival, was able to contribute a pinch-hit, two RBI, single to shallow center, that drove in Greg Golson and Mark Teixiera. After having been such an important member of the Yankees since 1998 he was able to have a positive signature moment to join the two other members of the Core Four on the Yankees.
(I am sure this was an extra special moment for Posada because this game winning hit somewhat erases the incident of asking out of a game in which he was originally scheduled to hit ninth in the order. At that time he was having trouble internalizing that he was not the player he once was, and he also deep down wanted to still be catching since he is a proud person, but now he has it in his head that he will be the best pinch-hitter he can be for the team. His .239 average is not what he would like it to be but he has had some clutch hits towards the end of games since having his full-time DH duties taken from him.)
The members of the Core Four are Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. However, Pettitte retired before season to be with his kids in Texas leaving the number at three. Jeter’s signature moment was slugging his 3,000th hit over the fence at Yankee Stadium, on July 9th during a 5-5 game, and Rivera’s was just this past Monday, when he picked up his 602nd save with a strikeout with his signature cut fastball to become the all-time leader over Trevor Hoffmann.
Being able to pop the champagne in the clubhouse after the win must have been a great feeling for catcher, Russell Martin, who had spent his previous five seasons with the Dodgers, and all the rookies because this was their true welcome to New York moment. This is because they were able to celebrate but then hear from Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Granderson, Sebathia and the other veterans that more is expected.
Sebathia was able to get back on track only allowing two runs in his 7.1 innings. He was able to strike out six batters while allowing seven hits and two walks. The two runs he allowed were solo home runs by the light hitting Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez.
The Yankees ace was coming of two starts in a row where he was not able to last his normal workmanlike seven innings pitched. They were not that bad by normal pitchers standards but they were worse than the elite level that he is accustomed to. He allowed four runs in less than six innings pitched in his last start and in his start on September 10th he gave up eight hits and four walks.
Sebathia has pitched very well this season sporting a sparkling 3.01 ERA, with the chance at a 20 win season and the Yankees will need starts like this one in the playoffs.
The Yankees will either play the Detroit Tigers or Texas Rangers in the first round of the playoffs who are both very solid teams. However, considering the Yankees pitching staff at the beginning of the season not many thought that they would have clinched the division with a week to play, over the Red Sox, especially ESPN who predicted across the board that Boston would win.
ESPN has a bias for the Red Sox but they can not entirely be blamed for unanimously choosing them before the season given that after Sebathia their rotation consisted of question marks Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett. Phil Hughes was not a question mark but did not at all live up to his stellar 2010 first half of the season that led to him being named an All-Star.
The division title is all the more special for the team and the fans given that they were able to overcome lack of production and professionalism from Burnett, only a few solid starts from Hughes while Garcia, Colon (who should be Comeback Player of the Year) and Nova (who should be Rookie of the Year) vastly exceeded expectations.
The Oakland Athletics edged the Yankees, 6-5, on Tuesday night, as the Yankees staged a late rally which fell just a few feet short.
With his single to center in the third Jeter achieved yet another multi hit game. However, with runners on first and second Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera could not convert. To end the bottom of the third inning Teixiera made a play that required cat like reflexes to reach for a line drive and double off Josh Willingham at first.
In the top of the seventh, with the Yankees down 3-0, and a runner on first, Russell Martin made an outstanding stop to prevent Cliff Pennington from getting to second. Unfortunately, Kurt Suzuki would go on to hit a double down the left field line to move Pennington to second, knocking Colon out of the game.
The Athletics’ offense continued to hurt the Yankees pitching as pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore smashed a double off of reliever Boone Logan that drove in Suzuki and Pennington. In recent outings Logan had been pitching very impressively so hopefully this does not last.
Derek Jeter was just about the only bright spot through eight innings for the Yankees as he led off the inning with a single. If he is able to have a three-for-three game tomorrow his average will be all the way up to .300. This is very impressive after his underwhelming start to the season.
However, later in the inning Nick Swisher came up in the nick of time as he hit a three run homer into the Yankees bullpen to force the A’s to go to their bullpen. Then off of Andrew Bailey, the A’s closer, Jorge Posada hit a deep blast into the bleachers. He has hit pretty well since being demoted, and in his last five games where he has at least one at bat he has seven hits and seven RBI.
Russell Martin hit a double to the gap and then Brett Gardner got on first because of third baseman Scott Sizermore’s fielding error. It would have been a close play because of Gardner’s blazing speed but since it was in Sizemore’s glove and bounced out the error call made sense. Bailey walked Granderson on a full-count to load the bases for Teixiera.
Teixeira popped out and Granderson walked, but Swisher came so very close to hitting a grand slam but it ended up being a very long fly ball that landed in Coco Crisp’s glove, on the warning track, in centerfield. The Yankees left runners in scoring position with two outs five times, with Swisher twice being the culprit, so if they would have converted on one or two of these opportunities the outcome might have been different.
Part of the reason Bailey allowed two hits, a walk and homer might have been because he had extra nerves since he was pitching near his hometown in Voorhees, New Jersey and also where he went to college at Wagner in Staten Island.
Logan came into this game having not allowed a run in his last three appearances, the Yankees likely would have won. This is because he gave up the double to Logan, which scored two runs, and gave Colon give five earned runs on the evening.
Colon really did not pitch that poorly because through six innings he had only allowed three runs and that is a quality start. Two of those runs were solo home-runs but he has not won a game during the month of August.
Brandon Allen hit two solo home runs during the game and he has really taken advantage of his trade to the Athletics, on July 31st. His first home run, in the second inning off of Colon, was a mammoth shot into the upper deck. He is only the second player to launch one into the upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium.
The Athletics are not known for their offense, as they are 12th in the AL in runs scored. They only scored 3.3 runs per game in the first half but have scored considerably more since then.
CC Sebathia, who is very reliable and a CY Young candidate, will try to revert Oakland back to their pre All-Star break form. Trevor Cahill is slated to pitch for the A’s, who was an All-Star and in the top five in lowest ERA last season, but has struggled this season with a 4.17 ERA.
Since the Yankees lost last night and the Red Sox won they are now in a virtual tie for first place. Boston is playing the Rangers tonight, and the Rangers are winning the season series 4-1. Hopefully the Yankees will be able to take advantage of facing inferior completion for six more games before battling Boston.