Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Here Come the Irish!

November 20, 2010 – New York City began buzzing about the
Notre Dame- Army game on Thursday night. That’s when the University of Notre
Dame honored Lou Holtz at a gala in his name.

The former Notre Dame coach posted a 100-30 record with the
Irish and captured the 1988 National Championship.

When I asked Holtz what tonight’s game means to Notre Dame, the coach provided an impressive historical perspective.

“I think it’s marvelous,” Holtz said. “This rivalry goes all
the way back to 1913, when Yale wouldn’t play Army, so Army invited Notre Dame
to play them in New York. The New York Times wrote that Notre Dame was
from Illinois — and not Indiana. But even though no-one knew anything about Notre Dame, they came
in and won the game. Of course, the 0-0 tie in 1946 is probably the most
memorable game of them all, but there have been so many great moments over the
years.

“Knute Rocke’s speech tells you everything you need to know
about attitude,” Holtz said when I asked him about the his predesesor’s “Win One
for the Gipper Speech. “It made those players understand what their purpose
was. That pep talk gave all of us motivation, not just the people who were in the locker room that day.”

Holtz also discussed the pressures that are unique to being
the head football coach at Notre Dame.

“You’re the keeper of the flame,” he said. “It’s your job to
keep up the tradition of Notre Dame, and that tradition is greater than any
other in football.”

The day after I interviewed Holtz, I spent a few hours with
another person whose name resonates in the hearts of Irish fateful. Daniel
“Rudy” Ruettiger, who is best known for the movie, Rudy, was in town to deliver
a motivation speech at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. I spent an hour
with Rudy before he took the stage, and that interview will be published in the
spring issue of Yankees Magazine.

The interview was as inspiring as the movie – which I’ve
seen more times than I can remember. For those of you who haven’t seen the
flick, Rudy isn’t much more than 5 feet tall, and he walked on to the Notre
Dame football team in the mid-70s. After a two-year stint on the team’s practice squad, Rudy
dressed for the final game of his senior year. He was put into the game with 27
seconds remaining, and he sacked Georgia Tech’s quarterback on the last play of
the game. Moments later, Rudy was carried off the field by his teammates.

When I asked Rudy which scenes from the movie make him think “How did I do
that?” he answered quickly.

“I never think that when I watch the movie,” he said. “I may
have been a long shot to play football at Notre Dame, but I expected that
moment to happen all along. I always believed it would happen, and I never gave
up that hope. I was preparing for that moment for ten years.”

After the interview, I guided Rudy on a tour of Yankee
Stadium. I brought a commemorative football to use as a photo prop, and I
played catch with Rudy on the Yankee Stadium field with the keepsake ball. That
is a memory I won’t soon forget.

Another experience from the days leading up to the game that
I will bring to Yankees Magazine is my interview with Notre Dame grad Regis
Philbin.

Regis reminisced about watching the Cadets march into the
old Yankee Stadium before one of the legendary Army-Notre Dame games that took place during his
childhood. And when I asked Regis – a noted Yankees fan – “If you could have one wish granted,
would you take the field for the Yankees or for the Fighting Irish?” I got a most unique response.

“That’s one of the toughest questions I’ve been asked in a
long time,” Regis said. “It’s too hard to answer. How do you like
that?

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Cowboys

October 22, 2010 – Following the Yankees workout yesterday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, I joined several members of the Yankees front office on a walk to Cowboys Stadium, which is located down the street from the baseball stadium.

We were joined by Alex Rodriguez and Reggie Jackson on the tour of the massive football stadium. Just about every aspect of Cowboys Stadium was impressive, from the owner’s lounge, which had TV’s placed within a transparent glass wall, to the pristine marble floors of the suite level to the lounge that the Cowboys actually run through on their way to the field.

My favorite part of the tour was not seeing the Dallas cheerleaders’ locker room — although it would have made some Broadway stars jealous — it was standing on the iconic star at the 50 yard-line (pictured below).

Legends Hospitality Management, which is the food and merchandise concession company in Yankee Stadium and Cowboys Stadium, has made its mark in both places. As the case is in Yankee Stadium, there is something for everyone who attends a Cowboys game.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Inspired Journey

October 22, 2010 – The Yankees followed a World Series
championship with a 96-win season and a postseason run that took them to within
two games of the World Series.

While the Yankees goal each and every year is to win the
World Series — not to get within a few games of the Fall Classic — it should be
noted that the Yankees 2010 journey was a courageous one.

In the season our organization lost its leader, George
Steinbrenner, and the voice of Yankee Stadium, Bob Sheppard, the team played inspired
baseball, game in and game out.

Additionally, Joe Girardi’s lineup was constantly changing
because of significant injuries to Andy Pettitte, Curtis Granderson, Nick
Johnson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (earlier this week), along with
season-ending injuries to Damaso Marte and Alfredo Aceves.

But the Yankees found ways to win. They found contributors
in the farm system, and they took the AL East race to the final game of the
regular season.

In the end, the Texas Rangers were an opponent the Yankees
could not overcome. And while it’s hard to accept defeat, especially after
living through a magical season in 2009, nights like this make me appreciate
just how special winning a championship is. It doesn’t come every year – even
for the Yankees. It’s an elusive goal, but it’s one that the Yankees are
constantly in pursuit of. Because of the people who are in place — on the field
and in the front office — I am confident that we’ll be contending for the AL
pennant in 12 months from now.

And with a little luck and something to prove, the end
result might just remind everyone of 2009.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Hostile Atmosphere. Who Cares?

October 22, 2010 — Game 6 is here. If I wrote anything about it being loud prior to or during ALCS Game 1 or 2 last week, I didn’t know how wild it could get in North Texas.

The crowd has not sat down thus far, and prior to the game, they cheered when the rain blew through and when it started. It really didn’t matter; they just wanted to make noise.
The Yankees are coming off a do-or-die win in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, and I truly believe they have an advantage tonight. Phil Hughes got roughed up in Game 2 — last Saturday in Texas — and Colby Lewis shut the Yankees down in that same contest.
But, the last time the Yankees had faced Lewis prior to Game 2 was… in 2003. That made for a unique challenge that the Yankees won’t have again tonight.
As for the hostile atmosphere in this ballpark, well, what else would you expect? It’s an elimination game. But I don’t think that will play much of a factor in this game because the Yankees have a laundry list of players who have been in this spot and won — and the Rangers don’t.
–Alfred Santasiere III

Scratching and Clawing

October 22, 2010 — The Yankees might have figured out the mystery that is Colby Lewis. They were quieted by Wilson in Game 2 of the ALCS, and the Rangers pitcher only gave up two walks (and no hits) through the first four innings of this game.

Alex Rodriguez’ leadoff double in the fifth was scorched. And even though Lance Berkman didn’t follow with a hit, he had me fooled. When Berkman flied out to the deepest part of the ballpark, it appeared as if the ball was going out.
Before the inning was over, Jorge Posada sliced a double down the right-field line.
Two good things happened in the fifth: the Yankees tied the game at one and they began to turn the tables on Wilson. I’m not sure which will have a bigger impact tonight.
–Alfred Santasiere III

Settling In

October 22, 2010 – In Game 2 of the ALCS, Phil Hughes was
scored upon in each of the first three innings. And he got into trouble at the
start of this game, giving up a lead-off double to Elvis Andrus, which
ultimately resulted in the Rangers taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the
first.

But unlike in Game 2, Hughes has settled in. Hughes has retired
12 out of the last 16 batters, and through four innings, he has only given up
two hits and one run.

While Hughes’ difficulties at the start were worrisome, he is
certainly dealing with the big-game jitters well.

–Alfred Santasiere III

One Day at a Time

October 20, 2010 — The Yankees came into Game 5 of the ALCS on the brink of elimination for the first time since 2007.

The Yankees took staved off the Rangers for another day, but winning Game 5 in convincing fashion.
Elimination games bring intense pressure, and the Yankees still need to win two more of them. But the first one is in the books, and the ALCS is going back to Texas.
The Yankees may have more confidence in Game 6, thanks to tonight’s 7-2 win, but their approach won’t change.
In a team meeting before today’s game, Joe Girardi stressed the “one game at a time approach.” That message came through loud and clear tonight.
“You worry about your guys trying to do too much,” Girardi said. “You can only focus on the game today. You can’t think about tomorrow or the next day.”
“The message is that we just play hard today and forget about tomorrow,” Mariano Rivera added.
The Yankees played hard today, and it was obvious that they were focused on the task at hand. That wasn’t surprising to see from a veteran team, but it is by no means an easy task.
Well, today is over, and the Yankees’ focus has moved Game 6 in Texas on Friday night.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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Pumped Up

October 20, 2010 — CC Sabathia pumped his fist after striking out Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland for the third out of the sixth inning.

Sabathia’s excitement was justified. Through six innings of this do-or-die start, Sabathia has only given up two runs, and the Yankees are winning, 6-2.
What’s equally as impressive is the way Sabathia battled through his last two innings. In the fifth and sixth innings combined, Sabathia gave up six hits, but only two of those batters crossed the plate. Sabathia made the pitches he needed to make. He got an important strikeout in the fifth, after the first two batters reached base. And Sabathia got out of the fifth with a double play.
The Rangers sixth inning threat came with only one out, but Sabathia kept the Yankees lead in tact by getting two consecutive outs to end the frame — the last of which came on a strikeout.
Sabathia is a game, no doubt about it. Today, he gave the Yankees another game.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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Complete Season

October 20, 2010 — Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano opened the bottom of the third inning with back-to-back home runs, giving the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

Cano’s homer was his fourth of the ALCS. Cano became the 25th player in major league history to hit four or more home runs in one postseason series and the first Yankees player to hit four long-balls in an ALCS.
And, by the way, Cano is batting .414 in the ALCS.
Those numbers won’t be factored in to the American League MVP voting — which Cano will be right smack in the middle of — but they do illustrate what a complete year Cano has had.
Cano finished the regular season with a .319 batting average, 109 RBI and 29 home runs. He further established himself as a Gold Glove caliber second baseman, and should absolutely take home that award, as well.
In the ALDS against Minnesota, Cano batted .333.
It’s not often that a player puts up such extraordinary numbers in the regular season and stays on the same pace throughout the postseason. But Cano has done it thus far.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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New Day

October 20, 2010 — Before the Yankees took a 3-0 second-inning lead, Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman each earned four-pitch walks against C.J. Wilson. The Texas starter also fell behind in the count on Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.

Posada and Granderson each collected RBI singles, helping the Yankees take an early lead.
If Wilson continues to fall behind Yankees hitters, his already long day will get even longer. The long counts are a great sign for the Yankees. They are usually very patient during their biggest rallies. When they came from behind in Game 1, it was more about making the Texas pitchers throw strikes — because Yankees hitters refused to swing at any pitches that were out of the strike zone — than it was about getting run-producing hits.
I’m also encouraged by the early part of the game because the importance of jumping ahead early can not be understated in the wake of three tough loses. They Yankees longed to have the upper-hand last night today, and they have it now.
Today is a new day, and the Yankees appear to be locked in and very focused.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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