October 2009

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

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

Classy Night

There are few experiences in sports that rival being at the
World Series.

This is my second World Series in the seven years I’ve been
in the Yankees front office. The first came in my first year in the
organization, which was 2003. That Fall Classic didn’t go the way I had hoped
it would, as the Florida Marlins beat the Yankees in six games. But the
experience was still one that I’ll remember the rest of my life

I just returned to the press box from my post on the field,
where I watched the pre-game introductions. As thrilling as it was to be part
of a World Series in my first year with the Yankees, tonight has already
outweighed any of the Fall Classic games from ’03 — even before the first pitch
of the game was thrown.

Tonight’s pre-game ceremony honored and raised awareness for
veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many who are suffering with post traumatic
stress syndrome and other debilitating injuries. After the Yankees and Phillies
lineups were announced, First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden
escorted World War II hero Yogi Berra to the mound. A few moments later, Tony
Odierno, who received a Bronze Star with valor and a Purple Heart for his
service in Iraq, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Tony is currently a
member of the Yankees stadium operations department, and I am proud to know him
and to call him a friend.

The standing ovation that Tony received was well deserved.
Seeing the Yankees and Phillies players tip their caps to him was equally as
moving.

Now it’s time for the Yankees to make history. It’s the
first World Series game ever played at Yankee Stadium.

–Alfred Santasiere III

It’s a Reality… The Yankees are going to the World Series!

How does this sound?

The New York Yankees are American League Champions. They are going to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

So many players got them to the Fall Classic, but I will mention two that made it happen tonight.

As he’s done so many times before, Andy Pettitte gave the
Yankees everything he had and everything his team could have possibly hoped for
tonight. Pettitte, who is now the all-time postseason win leader, gave the
Yankees 6 1/3 innings, while only giving up one run.

When it’s all said and done for the lefty’s career, Pettitte
will be remembered for performances like this, even more than for his 229
regular season wins. Pettitte will go down as arguably one of the greatest
Yankees ever to put on the pinstripes. Pettitte will certainly go down as one
of the greatest Yankees ever to take the mound.

And without any question, Mariano Rivera will also be part
of any conversation that involves the greatest Yankees players in history.
Before taking the ball tonight, Rivera owned the lowest ERA in postseason
history (0.83) and the most postseason saves (36).

Rivera may not have had his best stuff tonight, and that was
made evident by his eighth inning struggles (1 ER). But Rivera didn’t fold
under the most intense pressure this game could dish out. He rarely does –
which is unlike just about every other closer, starter or middle reliever in
baseball today or during any other era.

I’ll see you on Route 95 — heading to Philly.

–Alfred Santasiere III

 

 

 

 

It's a Reality… The Yankees are going to the World Series!

How does this sound?

The New York Yankees are American League Champions. They are going to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

So many players got them to the Fall Classic, but I will mention two that made it happen tonight.

As he’s done so many times before, Andy Pettitte gave the
Yankees everything he had and everything his team could have possibly hoped for
tonight. Pettitte, who is now the all-time postseason win leader, gave the
Yankees 6 1/3 innings, while only giving up one run.

When it’s all said and done for the lefty’s career, Pettitte
will be remembered for performances like this, even more than for his 229
regular season wins. Pettitte will go down as arguably one of the greatest
Yankees ever to put on the pinstripes. Pettitte will certainly go down as one
of the greatest Yankees ever to take the mound.

And without any question, Mariano Rivera will also be part
of any conversation that involves the greatest Yankees players in history.
Before taking the ball tonight, Rivera owned the lowest ERA in postseason
history (0.83) and the most postseason saves (36).

Rivera may not have had his best stuff tonight, and that was
made evident by his eighth inning struggles (1 ER). But Rivera didn’t fold
under the most intense pressure this game could dish out. He rarely does –
which is unlike just about every other closer, starter or middle reliever in
baseball today or during any other era.

I’ll see you on Route 95 — heading to Philly.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Big Inning…

In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Yankees
scored three runs to take a 3-1 lead.

The inning was bittersweet, though, because the Jorge Posada
hit into an inning-ending double play that left three runners on base — and
left the Yankees yearning to put the game out of reach.

But the Yankees accomplished more than scoring those three
runs in the 4th. They chased Angels’ starting pitcher Joe Saunders
from the game. That gives Yankees hitters five long innings to attack an Angels
bullpen that has struggled in the ALCS.

If the Yankees hitters are patient at the plate, they will
get at least one more opportunity for a big inning.

–Alfred Santasiere III 

Championship Petigree

The Yankees take the field tonight with a chance to clinch
the ALCS.  If they emerge
victorious on this balmy (58 degrees) night, the Yankees will earn their first
trip to the Fall Classic since 2003.

The excitement in Yankee Stadium reached its zenith when
four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams took the mound to throw out the
game’s ceremonial first pitch.

The Yankees could not have chosen a more appropriate person
to start the night off. Not only is Bernie one of the most popular Yankees ever
and a member of the most recent baseball dynasty, but he also hit game-winning
home runs in two ALCS games (Game 1 in 1996 vs. Baltimore and Game 1 in 1999
vs. Boston).

Someday I’ll probably write a similar opinion about what a
great choice Andy Pettitte is to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

But tonight I’ll say that Pettitte is the most appropriate
choice to try to get the Yankees back to the World Series. His postseason
experience is second to none. He is tied for the most postseason wins. He has
made more postseason starts than anyone in history, and he has recorded wins in four postseason series clinchers (which is tied for tops among anyone who has ever played
in the majors).

Hopefully Pettitte will add one more win to that last stat
tonight. 

–Alfred Santasiere III

What an Inning!

The Yankees took John Lackey’s hardest punches for the first six innings of tonight’s game — while trailing 4-0.

Like I wrote earlier, A.J. Burnett showed toughness in not letting the Angels put the game out of reach. It paid off for Burnett and the Yankees.
The Yankees hitters showed patience, especially in the seventh inning when Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter followed a Melky Cabrera double with back-to-back walks. The two vets didn’t swing at any bad pitches, even though Lackey tried to get them to. By taking free passes, Posada and Jeter put Mark Teixeira the driver’s seat against Angels reliever Darren Oliver.
Teixeira came through in a big way by smacking a double that cleared the bases.
Then Hideki Matsui singled, and then Robinson Cano hit a triple.
In a matter of minutes, the Yankees had a 6-4 lead. What a rally, what an inning, what a game and what series so far.
–Alfred Santasiere III

True Pro

While A.J. Burnet may never be lauded for his pitching performance in Game 4 of the ALCS, I believe his resiliency in noteworthy.

Burnett surrendered four runs before recording a single out in the first inning. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Burnett to maintain his focus and high energy level in that situation.
But Burnett is a true professional, and has he showed it tonight.
Since giving up those four quick runs, Burnett has scattered three hits, while not allowing any additional runs through the fifth inning.
The Yankees still need to mount a rally in order to get back into this game. But Burnett’s mental toughness has saved their bullpen from being overworked. That significance of that can’t be overstated in the middle of a long series. 
Burnett’s comeback of sorts has also given the Yankees a chance to comeback.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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