Friday, June 7, 2013

Yankees Notes: Biogenesisgate and its implications

Right when we think the Steroid Era is coming to a close, a report surfaces that has everyone's attention. The implications mean more than just media gold - a shameful demotion of heroes and ballclubs' Plan Bs come into play. As we watch the headlines for more cooperation from Tony Bosch, Bud Selig and MLB's decisions regarding suspension, or anything including "Biogenesis" (which, if you asked me 10 years ago, I would first think of as a Nintendo 64 game title), we can take a look into some of the hypothetical storylines to follow.

One of the most interesting comparisons I've read about is Ryan Braun, who might be considered the "Lance Armstrong of baseball." Braun and the MLB Player's Association won a major appeal over a suspension given out for the beginning of the 2012 season, on the heels of his somewhat surprising 2011 NL MVP award over all-around performer Matt Kemp. If he is found guilty this time around, his successful appeal and defense of his title could all come crumbling down, not to mention the credibility of players league-wide in dealing with drug testing policies.

In addition to A-Rod, Francisco Cervelli and Robinson Cano have also been linked to this report in some way, shape, or form. The spokeswoman from Cano's RC24 charity, Sonia Cruz, was on record with the Miami-based clinic, but it just so happens that her involvement is for her own weight loss interests and has nothing to do with Cano. Cervelli is on record for denial of any illegal substance taken through Biogenesis, but the report is inconclusive to this point.

Because his contract makes it impossible not to, we focus on Alex Rodriguez. A potential repeat offender, A-Rod would set himself among the likes of Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera, some of the surprise ex-Yankee PED suspensions from last year. Of course, that would only be a worthwhile grouping if A-Rod were an ex-Yankee. Rodriguez's public comments are all about his rehabilitation from injury and his attempts to get back onto the field, as they should be while everything else is speculation.

An intriguing storyline is the insurance policy the Yankees apparently have on the remaining years of A-Rod's contract. If he were to be unable to return to baseball as a result of his hip injuries, the Yankees would have insurance claims and the potential to earn back around 80% of the money owed to him, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The complicated facets of this idea are that there are multiple claims that would have to be settled, but that could only come after A-Rod agrees to hang up his cleats, either out of legitimate inability or shame, neither of which seems highly likely at this point.

So, the question is, where could the Yankees turn for a third baseman for the next few years is A-Rod is out of the picture? Clearly the team is covered in the short-term, with the platoon of Kevin Youkilis and Jayson Nix providing solid defense and versatility. David Adams would be the most likely in-house candidate, provided that he can remain with the organization after the 40-man roster crunch happens with the stars coming off the 60-day DL.

Outside of the organization, most projected free agent third basemen are 35 and older, and most of the ones who aren't are Juan Uribe (who seems like he is 35 or older), Mark Reynolds (likely outside of the team's price range), and Wilson Betemit (a mistake only to be made once). Endless trade scenarios for players like Chase Headley, Mark Trumbo, and Pablo Sandoval could be made.

An above-average performance from a returning A-Rod or some return money would be ideal for these hobbled Yankees, but it's just as possible that a 100-game suspension is handed down and we remain in third baseman limbo. There are so many possibilities that, unfortunately, all anyone can do is watch the headlines and hope for a positive result.

Yankees release Chien-Ming Wang

Twitter has been abuzz lately, with news that Chien-Ming Wang has finally opted out of his contract with the Yankees. He'd chosen to remain with the club after a few similar junctures, however he exercises his out clause due to his recent success in Triple-A and interest elsewhere. Elsewhere isn't even too far, as it was quickly tweeted that Wang will sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, who continue to fall short of their preseason's lofty expectations.

I couldn't resist Wang-related news because this was the headline on the LoHud Yankees blog this afternoon:

This comes years after Wang's tragic interleague misstep, from which his career never fully recovered. Unfortunate as the injury was, there was a silver lining. It produced one of my favorite news headlines of all time:

In all seriousness, it's sad to see a player who may have contributed positively to the club go, not to mention losing the potential revitalization of a one-time unconventional Yankees ace.

.. but you have to admit, it's great to have Wang back in the news.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Knicks Notes: The Kidd's Alright

Amidst the MLB draft, the Biogenesis drug scandal, and the NBA Coach of the Year being fired, there was some transaction news for the New York Knicks in which their point guard depth chart just got a little shorter. After 19 seasons in the NBA, Jason Kidd, the oldest player in the Association has decided to retire. This was rumored to be true earlier in the season, as per "sources close to Kidd," but there was nothing definitive until he took a weekend to relax with his family. The Knicks were surprised, as Kidd had previously told them he would continue playing, according to his comments in a piece by Ohm Youngmisuk of

As a Knick, Kidd finished the season averaging about 27 minutes, 37.2% in FG, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. Truly a far cry from his career numbers (which are certainly in contention for the Hall of Fame), but then again, he was asked to play far more than originally anticipated. Kidd started the year as the starting shooting guard in place of Iman Shumpert and was likely to see reduced minutes as was the case in Dallas, but was forced to play extra in the wake of injuries throughout the Knicks season, most notably to starting PG Raymond Felton.

How will Knicks fans remember Jason Kidd? Perhaps for his fine play as a member of the New Jersey Nets or Dallas Mavericks, helping him on his way to become one of the most prolific passers and great rebounders in the game. Or maybe while the roster was still being formed, when Kidd first signed on and said he would sign on to mentor Jeremy Lin just to watch him be picked up by Houston, then pick up a DUI while partying in the Hamptons. What about when he went ice cold in the postseason, shooting 12% from the floor over 20 minutes per game?

.. wait a second, let's talk about that. He scored a total of 11 points that postseason. His 12% FG was 3-for-25. Funny how 17 of those 25 attempts were 3-pointers, and he made three of them. His other two points were free throws, for which he was perfect, but that's not too hard when you only attempt two. Those were his last games as a Knick?! Man, it's a good thing he's retiring... (I Kidd, I Kidd.)

Personally, as a Knicks fan, I will remember Jason Kidd for the tear the team went on to start the 2012-13 campaign. Certainly he was not alone in this, but Kidd made GM Glen Grunwald look like a genius when the team opened with an 18-5 record, seemingly ready to roll until injuries to virtually every player put a strain on what would still persevere to be the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Numbers aside, his veteran knowledge and intangibles made the unlikely trio of himself, Felton, and Pablo Prigioni at point guard work so well that, until the Felton hand injury, pundits everywhere gave legitimate praise to a team generally criticized for an all-or-nothing, win-now approach that has generated little positive result. The transition out of Linsanity was made seamless only by way of Lin's lackluster play to begin the season for the Rockets and the success of the new Knicks, led by way of the intangibles brought by players like Kidd through training camp and practice as the season wore on.

So, where to now? With Kidd retired, Prigioni a free agent, and Felton inconsistent, what's the next move? Unfortunately, with so much money tied up on the bench (here's lookin' at you, Amar'e), the options are minimal, with only the taxpayer's mid-level exception.

This tweet from ESPNNewYork's Jared Zwerling seems to imply that our course is to look for a solution through the draft. It's fairly impossible to track who will land with the Knicks at pick #24, but that won't stop anyone from trying, right? Shane Larkin will likely be off the board, but in another article, Zwerling takes an in-depth look at Isaiah Canaan, who is simply enamored with New York. You really never know what may come out of a late first-round draft pick - sometimes you get an Iman Shumpert.

_ _ _

After the Knicks were bumped by Indiana, I made a prediction: Heat vs. Spurs, with San Antonio taking it in six. I'm never big on betting against LeBron and whatever Miami bench player decides to wake up in any given game. However, not only do I have a good feeling about the Spurs (.. funny how Tony Parker is only mentioned as one of the best PG in the game when they're in the playoffs?), but my grandmother is easily the biggest Tim Duncan fan I've ever seen, so I have to side with her on this one. The only question mark now was the nine-day layoff for the Spurs, and while it's difficult to argue that rest is good, the best teams in long playoff formats are the ones who catch fire. Anyway, I can't change my pick now, so I'm rooting for some good basketball.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Create your own story: Lyle Overbay's glove

If your Yankee fandom expands past, "I know Jeter! He's cute," you may have heard that MLB veteran 1B Lyle Overbay had his first start in RF last night.

Reports have surfaced that Overbay had not received his outfielder's glove and was using Boone Logan's glove in the meantime. Well, my college roomie Jon Bleiweis sent me this picture from yesterday's game:

If you can get past the fact that he looks like a 14-year-old girl who just saw a cute boy in this shot, you might notice the name stitched on his glove. Here are a few possible explanations for this that I came up with:

- We've been spelling Boone Logan's name wrong for years.

- Logan has been stealing Gardner's gloves since he's been a Yankee, a la Ruben Rivera. To get the maximum value for this one, he wanted to be sure Overbay used it in his first start in RF.

- The whole team switched gloves in the commercial break before this picture. David Adams had the catcher's mitt, but no one seemed to notice.

Do you have a creative explanation to this non-story? If so, leave a comment!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yankees postgame notes: Goodnight, Emerson

I'm not at the game, so I won't get quite the same postgame report as some of those reporters who are.. you know, on payroll. But the time known as postgame starts after the final out, so I'll share what I've got before turning my attention to the NBA Game 7.

The Yankees are now 32-25, taking the first game from Cleveland after dropping two of three to Boston and that four game series against the Mets that my fan bias precludes me from detailing. Or remembering. So, needless to say, winning the series against Cleveland would be great momentum before heading into a west coast swing that includes Seattle, Oakland, and the Angels.

Right before Nick Swisher flew out to Vernon Wells for the final out of the game, the ESPN announcers were talking about how he had not only a new contract, but a baby girl, Emerson. Very nice, Nick. Now fly out to left to end your first game back in New York. If the Yankees were willing to pay, there most certainly would have been room for him, what with the Granderson injury and the scuffle at the end of spring training to pick up the man who put him out to end this game, Vernon Wells. But his well-documented postseason struggles combined with his regular-season consistency that would put him out of the Yankees' price range made him one of Cleveland's top targets. His line: 0-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO. Unfortunately for him, that also comes with 4 left on base. Maybe it was the Bleacher Creatures.

Andy Pettitte started solid in his first outing since May 16, but sort of unraveled in the 5th inning. At one point, he offered 9 straight balls to Cleveland hitters, finally serving a strike with the bases loaded and two outs. Unfortunately, he couldn't quite put another hitter away. 83 pitches was enough for Girardi to pull him, and here's his final line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO. Nothing spectacular, and hopefully just a stepping stone. He'll get the Mariners next, perhaps a more favorable matchup against a lighter-hitting team in a big park.

Little known fact: I own a Lyle Overbay jersey. No joke. True, I got it as a gift somewhere around seven years ago, meaning seven years before he was a Yankee. Back then, I called it a Hideki Matsui jersey, and for a couple of years, a Russell Martin jersey. And I will go so far as to say that I was less than enthused when I learned of my apparel's new significance this year, but he has been a pleasant surprise both offensively and defensively in place of Mark Teixeira. Plus, any guy who doesn't bring extra attention to himself, especially when he's a 36-year-old in a new position just trying to stay on the team's roster, is most certainly doing something right.

I also thought the move to bring in Overbay was designed out of espionage - he was in Red Sox camp right before the season, we were about the play the Red Sox... what better way to learn about their new strategies in camp, right? .. well, either he's a better right fielder than he is a spy, or my idea is completely debunked because the Yankees are 2-for-6 against Boston.

Real shame about Asdrubal Cabrera, who was just starting to pick things up after an extremely slow start to the season. Apparently he'd been battling this injury for a few days, according to a tweet by the Indians, before having to be carried off the field in the 5th inning. According to this article by Ryan Rudnansky of Bleacher Report, Cabrera has the third-highest fielding percentage of qualifying AL shortstops. No official word yet, but we'll see what kind of time this injury will cost him.

The big blows in this game were by Teixeira and Gardner. It's very important that the leadoff man hits, but establishing more presence in the heart of the order is something that the Yankees had to be hoping for when Tex came off the DL. Vernon Wells was excellent to start the season but has cooled off considerably of late. Clearly the Yankees are not going to push the envelope with Youkilis, as he got the day off today, but this puts a premium on the production of Cano and Teixeira while the bats of Granderson and A-Rod are unavailable, not to mention the contact hitting and speed of Jeter, Nunez, and Cervelli. Teixeira's grand slam was a breath of fresh air for Yankee fans and fantasy owners everywhere who hope that the notoriously slow-starting first baseman will consider this to be June rather than his own April.

I had a really good time following this game tonight. I can't say I'll almost ever have this kind of free time again, but if I have the opportunity to spend a few hours with the Yankees and my computer, you'd better believe I'll consider it. Maybe with a few viewers and commenters, we'll make it a party - nothing with regularity, but something we can all look forward to when we get the chance.

June 3, 2013: Indians @ Yankees

New York Yankees (home)

1. Brett Gardner - CF
2. Robinson Cano - 2B
3. Mark Teixeira - 1B
4. Travis Hafner - DH
5. Lyle Overbay - RF
-> Vernon Wells - LF
6. Ichiro Suzuki - LF-RF
7. David Adams - 3B
-> Jayson Nix - 3B
8. Reid Brignac - SS
9. Austin Romine - C

LHP Andy Pettitte - SP

Cleveland Indians (away)

1. Michael Bourn - CF
2. Mike Aviles - 2B-SS
3. Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
-> Jason Kipnis - 2B
4. Nick Swisher - 1B
5. Mark Reynolds - 3B
6. Carlos Santana - DH
7. Ryan Raburn - LF
-> Michael Brantley - PH-LF
8. Yan Gomes - C
9. Drew Stubbs - RF

RHP Justin Masterson - SP

7:05 pm ET / ESPN and YES Network

How I'm watching: Because I'm not often in New York these days, I rely on these national telecasts. And after this weekend where we drop 2 of 3 to the Sox, it's great to hear Aaron Boone, national television's reminder to us all that the Yankees can pull a rabbit out of their hat at any time.

There's a first time for everything!
This is my first attempt at covering a game in progress. For the few of you who have looked back far enough to find this post or have magically stumbled upon this blog in its infant stages, this is indeed more of a disclaimer than a factoid.

If my aunt were manager...
Ichiro Suzuki would be batting leadoff. No doubt he's been extremely streaky, and his slash line* of .260/.295/.345 is not entirely promising. But Brett Gardner's .256/.325/.408 is not stunning, either. Statistically, Ichiro has been on a general downturn, but there is something to be said about intangibles, and the vast majority of his work has been from the leadoff position. This would be complete and total speculation had he not thrived in the 1 and 2 spots down the stretch for NYY last year, including being one of the few hitters to show up for the 2012 postseason. Ichiro would never admit to there being a difference, but you never know. (Now it's just mostly speculation.)

* For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a triple slash line or slash line refers to a player's batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, typically written: "BA / OBP / SLG."

Happy Homecoming!
This is Nick Swisher's first game in Yankee Stadium since the 2012 postseason, though it might be argued that he never showed up there. Oh wait, I remember, he said something nasty to the Bleacher Creatures, right? Yikes. I hope I'm not the only one who remembers him that way...

Anyway, Swish is batting a .264/.362/.467, which is certainly solid, but maybe not as the centerpiece they signed him to be. But, for the half-million more he's making this year, his numbers are better than the .255/.316/.476 he sported in pinstripes to this point last year. His 30 runs and 20 RBI are also good, but we're not talking superstar caliber.

Not an outright, but playing right out..?
That's not a typo up there, folks. Lyle Overbay, veteran MLB first baseman, whose name had been rumored as a DFA candidate due to roster inflation, is now on the depth chart as right fielder. What's more, he's making his first career start in front of the short porch! As someone who played RF in 7th grade with mixed success, I wish him the best of luck.

7:22 pm
 - It's unfortunate that it took me so much longer to set up this post than it did the Yankees to get 2 outs in the 1st.

7:35 pm - Neat to see Lyle Overbay run down that foul ball. Fun fact from the ESPN guys: he's using Boone Logan's glove. Yes, the relief pitcher Boone Logan. His glove is "on the way."

7:36 pm - See, I wasn't worried. I can update earlier posts about Swisher and talk about our new converted RF, because Andy was never really in trouble. End of Indians' second.

7:42 pm - We had how many hits in last night's shortened game? Two? What I would give for this team to get two hits. You can score a run with two hits.

7:47 pm - Nice throw from Overbay to nearly get Bourn, a little careless on the turn, at second! Makes no difference in the game.

A nice sac bunt by Cabrera makes 2nd and 3rd with 1 out for Swisher... is it just me, or is this game moving at a video game pace?

7:49 pm - Good play by David Adams to get the runner moving to third, albeit scoring a run... But I ask the TV viewer's favorite question: could he have gotten the runner going home? 1-0 Indians.

7:54 pm - Where's Nelson from The Simpsons when you need him on that Aviles attempt at Brignac's hit? Ha ha! .. says the guy on the couch. Anyway, leadoff hit!

7:55 pm - After the Austin Romine hit and Gardner shows bunt, the ESPN guys start speculating about the Yankees adding Giancarlo Stanton. Cue thousands of fans putting together their nonsensical packages to Miami.

7:59 pm - Did you miss the days that Cano could hit into an easy out but there's someone else on this roster that could give an opponent trouble? Me too - first Tex message of the season, and it's a big one! 4-1 Yankees on the Teixeira grand slam.

8:02 pm - And into three innings of play, Overbay is fielding more effectively than Masterson and Bourn. Beginner's luck..? Quick hits from Overbay and Ichiro, and it's first and second with 2 outs for Adams.

8:17 pm - Quick and quiet 4th inning, with the exception of Brignac, who seemed disgruntled about the strike three call. He may have had a point, but when has that mattered? Not important or close enough to get Girardi talking.

8:24 pm - Speculation city on this sac fly - should Cano have caught the shallow fly ball instead of Gardner? Did Gardner have an issue seeing it? My own question - could Romine have handled Cano's throw better and put on a quicker tag? In any case, 4-2 Yankees.

8:27 pm - Just two minutes later, another infield play made so well by Cano, but the focus is on Asdrubal Cabrera with a hitch in his step running to first, then on the ground, now being helped off the field. Yikes.

8:38 pm - Andy Pettitte's trouble shows that even veterans can momentarily lose the strike zone. I really thought he would put Santana away after the close strike two call, but he lines one down the left field line and into the stands. Tie game and Andy's out. Wow.

8:45 pm - Dave O'Brien tells us that the Indians were up for 25 minutes. Fitting for this game, new RF Lyle Overbay is the last put-out in this scary 5th. Shawn Kelley is out of trouble, and here come the Yanks.

8:49 pm - Asdrubal Cabrera with a quad injury, as reported by ESPN's Tim Kurkjian. And I just decided that I'll update the lineup as the game goes on, as seen above. Could get dicey in interleague games.

8:52 pm - And the Yankees go fairly quietly. Good to see that 5th inning wasn't a big momentum shift or anything like that.

8:59 pm - Kelley continues to be a strikeout machine, adding two more here in a 1-2-3 sixth.

9:08 pm - Austin Romine improves on his .140 BA with an infield single off Masterson.. I could only imagine the kind of desperation for hits those guys get under the Mendoza line. 1st and 3rd, two outs for Brett M. Gardner.

9:10 pm - And just like that, Justin Masterson cuts off a solid throw from the outfield to ensure a 6-4 Yankee lead, and before I can finish this post, tosses the ball back into the outfield so Gardner can take third. (Mr. Burns: "Excellent...")

9:25 pm - Joba sits down Carlos Santana, and the top of the 7th is in the books. Unfortunately, the only Aaron Boone story I want to hear is from 2003, so I checked out a bit there.

9:32 pm - Remember me? A no-doubter from Pronk, 7-4 Yankees, and Masterson is (finally) out of the game.

9:37 pm - Masterson didn't throw his last pitch, after all - ESPN's coverage shows him launching his glove on his way to the shower.

9:43 pm - As David Robertson gets ready for the first time since Friday, ESPN takes a few minutes to remove us from the game and pique our interest about A-Rod and Biogenesis. It's either women or drugs with that guy these days, because you most certainly wouldn't be talking about his game.

Defensive replacements are in to keep this one in order - Nix at third, Ichiro over to RF, and Wells in at LF. Solid debut for Overbay.

9:51 pm - How about those replacements? The put-outs are made by Wells and Nix. One more shot for the Yankee offense to pad the lead, or put the great one to work in the 9th.

9:55 pm - Excellent double in the right outfield gap from Brignac, showing why he was an improvement over the Nix/Alberto Gonzales platoon, and why we shouldn't worry about a third (fourth, depending on who's counting) string SS. Romine bunts him over, Gardner grounds out, and we're at 2 outs with Reid on third.

9:58 pm - Cano makes it interesting, with one long ball just foul, and another shot to the warning track. Brignac stranded at third, and while commercials play for me, 40,000 or so fans hear "Enter Sandman."

10:04 pm - Mo lets up a leadoff dunk of a hit and Cano, again, is something to watch. Great attempt to double up Aviles, but a solid call by the first base umpire. Then Kipnis is put away on four pitches. Final out for the Tribe.

10:07 pm - Somewhere, John Sterling is warbling. Yankees win, 7-4! One small save for Mariano Rivera, one more significant save for the Long Island Ducks fantasy team.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Introducing: < insert blog name here >!

If you didn't catch the blurb on the right (assuming at this point that it's still on the right), my name is Kyle Yampiro, and I like sports. Sounds simple, no? Well, I also happen to be pursuing my terminal degree in music. That's a bit atypical. If you intend to frequent this page more than once, I assume you also enjoy watching and/or following major sports.

So, okay. Why make a blog? Well, through the suggestions of my college roommate, I've regularly followed various Yankees blogs, most notably the LoHud Yankees blog. I later found blogs such as MLB Trade Rumors and Hoops Rumors, which exponentially increased my knowledge of current events, not to mention my interest in them. I've become somewhat enamored with sports journalism and wanted to try my hand at it.  Who knows - maybe I'll hate it and be able to say that I tried, maybe I'll keep this running for a good long while, or maybe I'll take this further. The bottom line is, why not?

My vision is that the main focus of this blog will be stories about the Yankees, Knicks, and [football] Giants, with posts regarding what's happening around the league, opinion pieces, reaction pieces, and perhaps the occasional commentary on game-time coverage, when time allows and games are broadcast nationally. Occasionally there may be a post outside of these three sports when something major happens, and who knows, maybe someday I'll actually appreciate hockey. It's not every year that both New York teams make the playoffs.

If you have managed to find this blog before its launch, please come back soon! We'll have an actual name and perhaps another contributor or two to make things really interesting.

Until then, Let's Go Yankees, RIP Knicks, and we'll see what happens when hockey comes back. .. wait, it's been back?! No way!