Yankees Have a chip on their Shoulder according to Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the highlights of the season for me. He was one of the few reasons that I can look back on the 2014 season with a sense of celebration instead of the bitterness of seeing Jeter retire, and Yankees fail to get to the play-offs, finish second in the ALEast, and not score runs like we have come to expect. I am grateful to Ellsbury for the heart and passion which he played with in his first season at the Bronx I can say quite quickly that he is now my favourite Yankee.
Sure he won’t be at the same level as the Captain, but he is not that far off from it. Like Mantle coming in the wake of Jolting Joe, a new hero for a new era.
He has said the Yankees have a chip on their shoulder after last season’s failures. That is good. They ought to have one. Especially with Hal Steinbrenner saying that although he is comfortable with Girardi and Cashman he felt it would be horrible if you fail to make the play-offs three seasons in a row. To the point that dismissals and restructuring would be on the table. Almost like father like son… kind of.
Not that Giradi could be in trouble, Hal pointed out that it would be on Cashman and the minor league scouts and the like if the minor leaguers didn’t work out. You can understand him saying that given the investment that was made on the prospects. One can only say that there is certainly concern that out of the all the names in the MLB’s prospect watch list the first Yankee mentioned is Luis Severino at number 23 while Boston has two players higher up on the list. Boston have made a lot of big moves to invest in their future, investments that look sure to conrtibute in a way that some might see our prospects failing to do. Cashman has made moves, whether they have been the right moves or not I am not sure. That remains to be seen. Maybe we can poach the Boston ones like we did with Ellsbury. If it works out like he has then we will be very happy.
The players we have, which are set to line out on opening day are thought of as being of a championship quality. There is no reason why they couldn’t win the World Series this year, but then again they have to deliver. That is why Ellsbury’s comments about the Yanks having a chip on their shoulder over last year are heartening. With Ellsbury we know we have a guy who can deliver. Like a former Boston great who became a greater Yankee, I hope that Ellsbury becomes as big a part of winning titles for us as the Babe did. If he plays like he did last year, we are sure to have a future lock for Monument Park.

The Beauty of Baseball- from the point of view of an Irish fan

Howdy baseball fans, how are you all doing? I hope that you and all your loved ones are well and safe today.
Well the baseball season is getting closer now, so close that the AtBat app has updated which I am not happy about because the season hasn’t started yet. And all the games from last year are gone now. I cannot watch them. But that is besides the point really. Because that is the nature of progress, so all of last season’s archived games are out of reach now for little old me, hey ho!
All things are forward moving at a rate of knots and within the next few days the first pitches will be thrown, the bats will be swung, and the winter will move on into the spring. That is what is exciting. The steady movement of time going forward is often done to the sounds of that timeless game. The sights and sounds of which remain the same as when the game first turned pro all those years ago. You can look at the players on the field and see them as being Ty Cobb, The Babe, Gherig, Joe Di, The Mick, of course I am naming mostly Yankees there. No spurprise I am a Yankees fan.
But the thing is that baseball is such a sport that you can impose on the players today, the faces of any of the ghosts of the past. That is what the Field of Dreams was about I think, the way that when we watch or listen to a game we can easily see with our mind’s eye the players who made the game great and gave it its past. Time is not a friend to most things, baseball is time’s only friend because for the time that one is watching a game it is as if time has stood still, no not just stood still, it has gone backwards. We are back sharing the moments that made life sweet, we see the ones who shared those moments with us, but are now gone. Like the heroes of old they return, and it is not painful like it ought to be but it is sweet.
If you ask me why I love the game, that would be my answer. It is true that I do not share the memories of baseball with as many people that most of you would have done. I grew up in Ireland and now live in England. Most people I know do not get the game, do not understand how I can love it. But then again they have never sat down and watched the game with me. But as I sit and watch and enjoy, the memories from the field colour the world around me. Last season will forever be one of those memories. Just as I still get the goosebumps from watching the 2001 World Series games played in the Bronx. Or the shock of seeing Clemens throwing the splintered bat at Piazza in the 2000 Series, the first Subway Series in 40 odd years.
I still remember watching the 86 World Series on Irish TV while playing games with my sister in the living room of my family home. Because whenever I watch those games, like music does also, I am projected back to the moments when I watched those games for the first time. Baseball is and always will be the simplest, and most beautiful of time machines. I look forward to sharing it with you all this year.

Tanaka’s comeback is fraught with concerns and hope in equal measure

Tanaka was brilliant last season. He was not expected to be as good as he was by a lot of baseball media types and even fans. They all scratched their heads when the Yanks announced Tanaka as a new pitcher for the team. Just who was this guy? Was he going to be worth the money? Will he be as good as The Yankees front office seemed to think he was?
But there was no need to worry. He was brilliant really. One of the best pitchers in the league. It wasn’t until his injury that sidelined him, that he didn’t play to the standards that he had set for himself. But then as if true to form he managed to comeback and play as if nothing too serious had happened. That is the wonderful thing about Tanaka. He never seems to be phased by the way people don’t seem to expect too much from him, or even the pressure of expectation from the fans. He is it would appear immune to the expectations (low or otherwise) of others. But focused only on doing his best by his own standards. You have to admire a man like that.
His comeback will see him face the same questions as before, the same worries about if he will be able to handle the conditions he faces. This time not due to concerns over his ability, but whether his arm will hold up for the season, and whether he will have to go for the surgery that everyone seems to think is inevitable. The signs are all good. The Yanks are confident enough to the point he is projected in the number one slot of the starting rotation for the Yankees. But with the Yanks talking about a sixth man on the rotation perhaps they are thinking of trying to protect their guy by putting him on the Japanese style roatation giving him an extra day off between games.
That would be a great thing for some of the other guys too, Sabathia and Pineda also are coming back from injury ruined seasons, and with a long run of games coming up in April they will need all the help they can get to make sure they can get through the season unscathed. With Eovaldi and and Capuano are thought to be in the original rotation for the season, but they are also giving a number of other pitchers that could slot into the rotation and are building them up as starters this spring.
Friday is the first official day of baseball activity as catchers and pitchers turn up to begin Spring Training proper. After that the games will begin. What an exciting propspect for us. Seasons Greetings indeed.

Why I can’t wait for Baseball….

It is a cold day in England.Outside the rain is teaming down from cold grey skies. There is a cold wind blowing, sharp and unkind. Stirring the skeletal trees which try to bud as spring takes hold. Yesterday there was a blackbird singing on the eaves, and everywhere there is the sight of early spring flowers breaking the ground. But still on a day like this, it is hard to buy into the notion that spring is here.

But soon, not too soon it must be noted, there will be that beautiful sound of ball cracking off the bat, the shouts of men on the diamond. What a wonderful moment indeed will it be, when the first pitch of spring training will be pitched and all the talk which comes at the point in the season when no play is happening will stop.

Yes Pineda is talking up his season. If he gets to keep away from pine-tar and doesn’t get injured, makes good decisions too, then we will have a starting pitcher that will help us to the post season. If Tanaka isn’t messed up too bad after his injury, and Sabathia too. What about McCann? Will he be able to figure out the American League pitchers? Will Beltran hit out, A-Rod? So many questions, so many words to be spoken. Only when we get to see how the Spring Training works out will we see how the Yankees will shape up after what was a poor season for us.

It is these thoughts which on a cold day like this warms me. I am longing for baseball, not just because it means the cold weather is over, but because I love the game, and the fact that although we had little to cheer last year, time marches on and soon washes away the disappointments of the past leaving only hope for the future. Who could not love that about sport?

Hi-diddly-hey Neighbourinos!

There is always the urge to make a big deal about the first post, you know what I mean? You sit down at the computer or whatever device you use to do this thing, and the urge is to make some bold pronouncement that here you are and the world should give a toss to the fact that you have something to say. So in all probability nobody will read this. I don’t mind that really. I don’t care that someones may never actually read this. I am not writing this for anything other the simple pleasure of talking about one of the few things in this world outside of faith and family that gives me a sense of pleasure and joy.
What is there not to love about baseball? My wife has a load of comments about that which will give you the impression that there is a lot. And perhaps there are many others out there who feel the same way too. The events of the 1990s still leave many with a sense of being let down by the sport that they love. I can get that too.
But you know what? None of that matters. The simple joy of the crack of a wooden bat, smacking into a wooden leather-coated ball, the small of fresh cut grass, and the excellence of what a human being can do (when it is genuinely done) is something that draws me to the three greatest bat and ball sports in the world. Yes folks baseball, cricket, and hurling.

I am excited for the start of the season. Now that The Captain has retired the business at hand can be about winning again.Last season had the feeling of being a museum rather than a serious challenge for the World Series. Though at the time it was magic, I still find it hard to watch the Yankees’ 2014 season without that same pang I get when I see photos of loved ones who are dead now. There is a sort of delight in seeing the Captain again, as he takes the field and doffs his cap, and making another landmark and going higher on the all-time lists. But the whole thing felt like we were waiting for word from the hospital that a loved one was dead. Because in a way someone beloved to all Yankees fans did die. No not Jeter… he is alive an well and I once again want to wish him well and thank him for the many wonderful moments of joy that he gave us.
What died for many Yankees fans was their childhood/ youth. I was still a teenager when Jeter became a starter. Living in Ireland I had always loved baseball but it wasn’t until that point that I was able to follow it more closely than I had. So when Jeter retired it was like a part of our lives had come to an end. And as we grow older we quickly realise that life is one giant list of letting go. But we don’t like it. We don’t want to let go of anything. So when Jeter retired we lost not only a great Yankee captain of the quality of Gherig and Munson, but we also lost that little bit of our childhood too. Depressing huh?

But onwards and upwards. Sport is a constant striving after the wind, like Sysiphus the athletes must forever push the rock up the hill. One year’s champions are often the next year’s losers- just look at Boston who went from World Series winners in 2013 to scraping the barrel in 2014. All the celebrations must come to an end and the previous season matters only in the memory.
That is a good thing for A-Rod. Who had a dire season watching from the sidelines. For many Yankees here is the Anti-Jeter. He returns whereas Jeter doesn’t. Jeter loved the game to the degree that he never did anything to bring it to disrepute. A-Rod loves playing the game, but loves it for the winning and not the playing. His links to the Biogenesis scandal, and various on field and off field antics show that he is more caught up with the desire to win and gain records than he is with the pleasures of the sport, the good of the team, and the respect of the fans.
With the reports of his apologies to the MLB and Yankees being released we can only hope that all of the shenanigans are finally consigned to the memory. We can only hope that he is in good enough shape to help the team reach another crucial milestone and lift World Series number 28. That will be the only way that he will help put to bed in the minds of the fans that while we have lost Jeter and still have him. If not then we are stuck with an expensive dud, and expensive over bloated ego. It’s time señor to bring your A-Game.

There, that’s my first blog about baseball, I hope you enjoyed reading it.