October 2009

Gutsy

As Andy Pettitte continues to battle the rain, the crowd,
and, of course, the Phillies vaunted lineup, I’m going to share my thoughts
about his fifth-inning hit.

Not only did Pettitte’s RBI single tie the game, it kept the Yanks alive and well in the inning. And before the frame was over, the Yankees
added two more runs, which gave them a 5-3 lead.

Pettitte’s place in baseball lore is still being decided,
but one fact is indisputable: Pettitte is a fierce competitor.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Gone!

That ball was gone.

After coming back down to earth in the first two World
Series games, it appears as if Alex Rodriguez has regained his magical swing.

A-Rod’s fourth inning, two-run home run was huge for several
reasons.

It was the first hit the Yankees got off of Cole Hamels.
Before A-Rod went yard, Hamels was cruising and his confidence was probably
higher than at any time this postseason. A-Rod’s homer will likely bring him
down a notch — and the rest of the Yankees will benefit from that.

A-Rod’s homer also silenced the crowd for the first time
tonight. I can actually hear myself think now. The momentary lack of noise will
re-energize the Yankees.

And, of course, Rodriguez put the Yankees back in the game.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Play Ball!

It took the rain more than an hour to stop, but it finally
did.

It’s 9:17 pm — the moment we’ve been waiting for. It’s game
time.

Tonight, in World Series Game 3, Andy Pettitte will take the
hill for the Yankees. Pettitte is the most seasoned postseason pitcher in
baseball today, and he’s holds the all-time postseason wins record.

The wind is blowing at Citizens Bank Park, and the crowd
noise is about as loud as it could be. It seems as if every person in attendance
has a white towel, which they are waiving constantly.

The sea of white is an impressive sight.

I’m optimistic that the Yankees offense will get off to a
quick start, as that will change the hostile atmosphere — to an extent. The
Yanks are going up against Cole Hamels, who has struggled this postseason (1-1
with a 6.75 ERA). So the opportunity to light up the scoreboard in the small
ballpark (in comparison to other Major League Parks) is there.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Welcoming Party

Today marked the most unique road trip I’ve been on with the New York Yankees.

I’ve been on several trips with the Yankees (and before that, the Miami Dolphins), all of which included flying to the visiting city on a chartered plane.
Because Philadelphia is less than 100 miles from New York, we took buses to Penn Station, and then jumped on a chartered train to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. 
When our buses arrived at New York’s Penn Station, there was over 1,000 Yankees fans surrounding the entrance we went through. The show of support was remarkable and inspiring. I’ve never seen as many flashbulbs outside of a sports venue. As we took an escalator to the train platform, Joba Chamberlain said, “This is what it must have been like for the Beatles.”
After our one-hour trip to Philly, we were greeted by almost as many people as we saw in New York. But the Philadelphia response to our arrival was not as supportive as the outpouring we received in the Big Apple. There were a few Yankees fans in the crowd, and they made their presence known. But in large part, that gaggle of Philly fans was at the train station to remind the Yankees just how hostile they can be. 
From my point of view, it looks like the Yankees will remain as focused as ever tomorrow night, regardless of what the City of Brotherly Love throws their way.
–Alfred Santasiere III

Smart Skipper

The Yankees have just tied the World Series at 1-1, and they
did so in large part because of three decisions that Joe Girardi made in the last 24
hours.

Girardi’s decision to start Jose Molina instead of Jorge
Posada could not have been an easy one.

Clearly, the choice was made in an effort to provide A.J.
Burnett with the backstop he’s worked best with this season.

While I firmly believe the Yankees would not have made it
this far without Posada’s leadership behind the plate and batting prowess,
Girardi made the right call. The proof was in Burnett’s numbers (7 IP, 1ER,
9K). And to further illustrate just how comfortable and confident Burnett was
tonight, the righty threw first pitch strikes to first 11 batters he faced.

Burnett was the most important person on the field tonight,
and he more than paved the way to the Yankees 3-1 win.

Girardi also replaced Nick Swisher in right field with Jerry
Hairston. Hairston led off the seventh with a single, and was replaced by pinch
runner Brett Gardner, who scored the game’s crucial third run.

Lastly, Girardi gave the ball to Mariano Rivera for two
innings. The skipper skipped over his middle relievers in what was a close
game. Rivera came into the game well rested and it showed. He did not allow a
run over the final two innings of the game.

This Series is deadlocked, and it’s time to invade
Philadelphia.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Burnett's Biggest Game

With his first lead of the game (2-1), A.J. Burnett took the
hill in the top of the seventh and tossed his most dominant inning of World
Series Game 2. He struck out the first two batters, Raul Ibanez and Matt Stairs.
Then with a 1-2 count on Pedro Feliz, Burnett got the Phillies third baseman to
hit a weak grounder for the third out.

The final out of the seventh capped off what many will
consider the greatest performance of his career. With his team down 1-0 in the
World Series, Burnett held the hard-hitting Phillies to one run over seven
innings. The one Phillies hitter to cross the plate did so on a ground ball that
took a weird hop and eluded Alex Rodriguez’ glove — barely. It was hardly
Burnett’s fault, but it was counted as an earned run.

For a guy who has never taken the ball in a World Series
game, Burnett was masterful and he washed away any doubts about his ability to
get it done in big games. Again, this was the biggest game of his life.

By going seven innings, Burnett gave Joe Girardi the opportunity to go directly for Mariano Rivera for a two-out save. 

–Alfred Santasiere III

Momentum

Get loud Yankees fans, your team is back in the game!

We are in the middle of yet another pitching duel, this one
between Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett.

Martinez had the upper hand early, pitching with a 1-0 lead
during the first three innings of World Series Game 2.

But Mark Teixeira led off the bottom of the fourth with a
line-drive home run to right-center field to tie the game. From my vantage
point (press box behind home plate), I knew Teixeira tied the game as soon as
he made contact with the ball. It was one of those perfectly hit shots that
couldn’t be hit any harder.

Not only did Teixeira’s home run draw the game even, it gave
the Yankees some momentum, which they have not yet had in this series. There is
a buzz in the Yankee Stadium crowd that was not there an inning ago.

If Burnett continues to mow down Phillies hitters, that buzz
should turn into a roar.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Congratulations!

Congrats to Elana Dunkin (L) and Paul Buonaiuto, who won tickets to the first World Series game at Yankee Stadium. You witnessed history, folks.

–Alfred Santasiere III
Elana Dunkin:Paul Buonaiuto.JPG

Long Series

CC Sabathia threw a gem tonight, giving up only two runs
over seven innings.

But Cliff Lee outdid the Yankees ace, allowing one unearned run in a complete game performance.

At the end of the night, the Yankees found themselves in a
1-0 deficit in this year’s Fall Classic. Needless to say, this seven-game series
of far from over.

Here’s why.

The 2009 Yankees have been defined by their resiliency.

The Yankees led the majors with 51 come-from-behind victories in
the regular season, and they won 28 of those contests in their last at-bat,
which was also tops among all teams.

Then came the October magic.

The Yankees have won seven postseason games to date. They
were trailing in five of those games. In three of their seven wins, the Yankees
were trailing in the seventh inning or later — all of which Alex Rodiguez tied
with home runs.

With their old rival Pedro Martinez taking the hill at
Yankee Stadium for the Phillies in Game 2, the Yankees will have the same
intensity they exuded in all those late inning wins. 

In my opinion, there is a lot more October (and November)
magic to come — even though there wasn’t that much tonight.

–Alfred Santasiere III 

Pitchers’ Duel

Game 1 of 2009 was billed as a pitcher’s duel.

Through the first five innings, it has lived up to those
expectations.

Cliff Lee has not allowed a run in five innings of work,
while striking out seven Yankees. And CC Sabathia gave up a solo home run to
Chase Utley in the third inning for the game’s only score. But outside of that,
the Yankees ace has been brilliant. Through five innings, Sabathia struck out
four Phillies while only giving up two hits.

The Yankees are trailing, 1-0, but they have a guy on the
mound who will keep the game well within their reach. One rally, one home run
or one lucky bounce is all the
Yankees need to take control of this soggy game.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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