Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Down to Camden Yards, Up for World Cup

The Yankees led the Baltimore Orioles 6-0 last night, then the O's closed to 6-3, then the Yanks took off to lead 12-3, and hung on -- with runners on at the end -- for a 12-7 win.

Every win is good, but it's a little troubling when you were up by 9 runs and you have to get your closer warmed up. Chad Gaudin needs to go.

Phil Hughes moved to 8-1, making him the most impressive rookie pitching last night. (More on that other rookie pitcher in a moment.) And Dave Robertson pitched a fine 7th, before Gaudin nearly gave the game away.

Nick Swisher got things going with a 2-run homer in the 1st, Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam in the 3rd, and Mark Teixeira, a native of nearby Severna Park, Maryland and an O's fan growing up, exploded out of his slump with a mammoth 2-run blast in the 7th.

Robinson Cano went 3-for-4, and he's back up to .370. If he can maintain that for the full season, it would be the highest batting average for a Yankee since Joe DiMaggio hit .381 back in 1939. (Mickey Mantle's highest was .365 in 1957, Don Mattingly's highest was .352 in 1986, Paul O'Neill hit .359 in the strike-shortened 1994, and Derek Jeter's best is a .349 in 1999.)

Tonight, CC Sabathia goes against some guy I never heard of. Which is would be an Uh-Oh Scenario most of the time, especially if this game were a Saturday afternoon Fox game or a Sunday night ESPN game.


Ike Davis hit a blast into the Citi Field Pepsi Porch last night, winning the game for the Mets over the San Diego Padres in the 11th. But the big rookie story in the National League East last night was Stephen Strasburg, the Number 1 pick in last year's draft, making his big-league debut for the Washington Nationals against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Nationals Park was a sea of red and a valley of noise for this much-anticipated debut. It was probably the biggest non-Opening Day crowd in Washington baseball history since... oh, I don't know, maybe the 1933 World Series. (They finished just 1 game out in 1945, but I'm guessing wartime travel restrictions kept attendance down.)

Strasburg, just 21, looked a little shaky in the 1st inning. As Bud Abbott would say, "Naturally." (Then again, he might have said, "Tomorrow is pitching.") But the Pirates quickly showed him that they were intimidated by him.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, intimidated? Let me give you the names of some Pirates hitters over the last 100 years or so. Honus Wagner. Paul Waner. Lloyd Waner. Kiki Cuyler. Hank Greenberg (for one season, anyway). Ralph Kiner. Dick Stuart. Roberto Clemente. Willie Stargell. Al Oliver. Dave Parker. Bill Madlock. The young Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla. Even, if you can remember, Jason Bay. They used to call them "the Lumber Company." And they let a 21-year-old kid in his big-league debut intimidate them like that before he’d even thrown a pitch. For shame, Steel City! The Fam-i-ly has become dysfunctional.

Strasburg's strikeouts? 14. One off the rookie record set by Karl Spooner of the 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers and tied by J.R. Richard of the 1971 Houston Astros. I just hope he has a happier end to his career than those two did: Spooner hurt his arm and pitched his last big-league game less than a year after his first, he was 24; and Richard, a Bob Gibsonesque giant who had almost 1,500 strikeouts, was a cocaine user, had a stroke and never pitched again, finished at age 30.

Strasburg's strikeouts? 14, in just 7 innings. His walks? None. His hits? 4. Now that's efficiency.


I am seriously considering going down to Baltimore for tomorrow night's game, in which A.J. Burnett is scheduled to pitch. I have seen the Yankees beat the Orioles at Camden Yards -- "the Really South Bronx," as Michael Kay likes to call it -- before, so it's not a priority. But it could be fun. There's always something to marching into enemy territory and coming out not just alive, but victorious. In English soccer, they call it "taking the piss."

Which brings me to the World Cup. It'll be in South Africa, so I don't think I'm going. Passport issues, money issues, and I hate flying. I also hate airports. I also hate getting to and from airports.

It all starts very shortly. The opening game is host South Africa vs. Mexico at 10:00 AM, U.S. Eastern Time, on Friday afternoon.

And Saturday is the U.S. vs. England. Now, I am partially of English descent. My Grandma, the Dodger-turned-Met fan from Queens, always said she was English, although she didn't know from where in England her ancestors came. So I did a search on her family name, and came up with a small town outside Barnsley, in Yorkshire.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean she (and therefore I) was descended from that town, but considering that a lot of early English family names were "of (place name)," it's probable. I thought I was descended from urbane, witty Londoners, and it turned out I was descended from "Dirty Northern Bastards." Oh well.

I can respect England as a country. But I do not like the England players. With manager Fabio Capello not including Theo Walcott, there is not a single Arsenal player on the team. Which means it's made up mostly of players who play against Arsenal, some of them diving cheating bastards. Wayne "Shrek" Rooney. Ashley "Cashley" Cole. John "Captain Adultery" Terry. Steven Gerrard. And Tottenham Hotspur players (and therefore Arsenal arch-rivals) Michael Dawson, Ledley King (a.k.a. Leadfoot Queen), Aaron "Yer a Swine" Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Peter (at 6-foot-7 he's too tall to) Crouch.

Scum, the lot of them.

2:30 PM, Saturday afternoon. U! S! A! As for England, in the immortal words of Chloe Grace "Hit-Girl" Moretz, "Okay, you cunts, let's see what you can do!"


Hours until the 2010 World Cup begins in South Africa: 40.

Hours until U.S. vs. England: 69.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 600th career home run: 30 (estimated -- I've moved this one back a little).

Days until the World Cup Final: 32, July 11, at Johannesburg, South Africa. Just over a month.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 58, starting Friday night, August 6, at Yankee Stadium II. Under 2 months.

Days until the new English Premier League season starts: 66.

Days until the first football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium (still unnamed): 68. Under 10 weeks.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 87.

Days until the first regular-season Giants game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 95.

Days until the first regular-season Jets game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 96.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 98.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 122 (estimated). A little over 4 months.

Days until Rutgers and Army play the first college football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 129.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 169.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 344 (estimated).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 521.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 676 (estimated).

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 764.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 844 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 1,115 (estimated).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 1,334. (February 2, 2014, though the NFL might tinker with the schedule to move it to February 9 or February 16.)

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,765 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,789 (estimated).

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