Sports Outside the Beltway

Derek Jeter Joins 3,000 Hit Club With Home Run


You probably couldn’t have written a better script for Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit than what happened this afternoon in the Bronx:

Derek Jeter became the 28th player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits on Saturday, with a home run in the third inning at Yankee Stadium off the Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price. In doing so, Jeter became the first player in the Yankees’ storied history to reach the hallowed number.

Jeter is the active leader in hits and the first player to collect his 3,000th since Craig Biggio of Houston in 2007. He is also the first to achieve the milestone at Yankee Stadium, old or new, and the fourth youngest player to do it. Only Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Robin Yount joined the club at a younger age than Jeter, who turned 37 on June 26.

Jeter accomplished it all without playing anywhere but shortstop, the most physically demanding position on the field besides catcher. Only three other players, Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken Jr. and Yount, have recorded 3,000 hits while playing most of their careers at shortstop.

Jeter is only the second member of the 3,000 hit club to hit a home run for hit # 3,000. The other player was Wade Boggs, who hit his mark on August 7th, 1999 while playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.


Bucky Showalter named new Manager of the Baltimore Orioles

He replaces Interim Manager Juan Samuel. From ESPN-

Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, his latest rebuilding project in a major league career full of them.

Showalter’s first game will be Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.

Baltimore had the worst record in the majors at 31-70 going into Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals and is headed toward its 13th straight losing season. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on June 4 and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel.

“Buck Showalter’s proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles,” president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a statement. “We believe Buck’s extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future.”

Samuel will return to his job as the team’s third-base coach. Baltimore went 16-31 with him in charge.

While I’ve always liked Showalter since his days as Skipper of the Fort Lauderdale Yankees, it will take a lot more than a good manager to reverse Baltimore’s fortunes.


Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner Dies At 80

Steinbrenner_w_trophyOn the morning of the All-Star Game baseball fans woke up to the news that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had died in Florida:

George Steinbrenner, who bought a declining Yankees team in 1973, promised to stay out of its daily affairs and then, in an often tumultuous reign, placed his formidable stamp on 7 World Series championship teams, 11 pennant winners and a sporting world powerhouse valued at perhaps $1.6 billion, died Tuesday morning. He was 80 and lived in Tampa, Fla.

“He was an incredible and charitable man,” the family said in a statement.

“He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.”

Steinbrenner’s death came nine months after the Yankees won their first World Series title since 2000, clinching their six-game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at his new Yankee Stadium.

Steinbrenner had been in failing health for the past several years and had rarely appeared in public. He attended the opening game at the new stadium in April 2009, sitting in his suite with his wife, Joan. When he was introduced and received an ovation, his shoulders shook and he cried.

He next appeared at the Yankees’ new home for the first two games of the World Series, then made his final appearance at the 2010 home opener, when Manager Joe Girardi and shortstop Derek Jeter, the team captain, came to his suite to present him with his 2009 World Series championship ring.


Steinbrenner was the central figure in a syndicate that bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million. When he arrived in New York on Jan. 3, 1973, he said he would not “be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all.” Having made his money as head of the Cleveland-based American Shipbuilding Company, he declared, “I’ll stick to building ships.”

But four months later, Michael Burke, who had been running the Yankees for CBS and had stayed on to help manage the franchise, departed after clashing with Steinbrenner. John McMullen, a minority owner in the syndicate, soon remarked that “nothing is as limited as being a limited partner of George’s.”

Steinbrenner emerged as one of the most powerful, influential and, in the eyes of many, notorious executives in sports. He was the senior club owner in baseball at his death, the man known as the Boss.

A pioneer of modern sports ownership, Steinbrenner started the wave of high spending for playing talent when free agency arrived in the mid-1970s, and he continued to spend freely through the Yankees’ revival in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the long stretch without a pennant and then renewed triumphs under Torre and General Manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees’ approximately $210 million payroll in 2009 dwarfed all others in baseball, and the team paid out millions in baseball’s luxury tax and revenue-sharing with small-market teams.

In the frenetic ’70s and ’80s, when general managers, field managers and pitching coaches were sent spinning through Steinbrenner’s revolving personnel door (Billy Martin had five stints as manager), the franchise became known as the Bronx Zoo. In December 2002, Steinbrenner’s enterprise had grown so rich that the president of the Boston Red Sox, Larry Lucchino, frustrated over losing the pitcher Jose Contreras to the Yankees, called them the “evil empire.”

But Steinbrenner and the Yankees thrived through all the arguments, all the turmoil, all the bombast. Having been without a pennant since 1964 when Steinbrenner bought them, enduring sagging attendance while the upstart Mets thrived, the Yankees once again became America’s marquee sporting franchise.

Love him or hate him, and there were plenty of times over the last thirty-seven years when even Yankees fans hated him, there’s no denying that Steinbrenner was unlike any other baseball owner before him. He took a team that had floundered under CBS’s ownership for the better part of a decade — the Yankees had not appeared in a World Series since 1965, and had not won since 1962 — and turned it into a powerhouse. His $ 100 million investment is worth today an estimated $ 1.6 billion and doing better than ever.

Coming only a few days after the death of legendary Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Shepard, this death will be felt deeply in the Yankee family and I’m sure we’ll see some kind of tribute when the team returns to the stadium that George built on July 16th.


Cleveland Pitcher David Huff Hit In Head During Freak Play

A scary moment during yesterday’s Yankees-Indians game:

NEW YORK — It is the worst nightmare of both the pitcher and the hitter, the ball that is hit so hard there is simply no time to duck, no time to react, no chance for the elemental reflex of self-preservation.

It happened in the third inning of Saturday’s Yankees-Indians game, and for several heart-stopping, breath-holding minutes, it was easy to imagine that the worst thing that could happen on a baseball field had just happened, in full view of 46,000 spectators.

Cleveland right-hander David Huff threw a pitch to Alex Rodriguez, and before either of them could possibly have known what was happening, the ball was back in the pitcher’s face, smacking with a THWACK! off Huff’s left temple that must have been audible in the remotest sections of the ballpark.

Huff, a 25-year-old in his second big-league season, fell face down and motionless on the pitcher’s mound. Rodriguez, reacting with a hitter’s instinct, barreled around first base and into second. Nick Swisher, on second base, came around to score. The baseball, ricocheting as sharply as if it had hit concrete, wound up in right field.

And the hearts of 46,000 people leaped into 46,000 throats as a crowd of teammates, trainers and paramedics rushed to the mound and the fallen pitcher.

Rarely has Yankee Stadium been as quiet as it was at that moment and rarely has a ballgame there suddenly seemed so unimportant. As the medical staff worked over Huff, who did not move for what seemed like hours, Rodriguez and Swisher dropped to their knees, their eyes focused on the ground.


Huff was taken to an ambulance waiting by the service gate beyond the left-center field fence and rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where a CT scan revealed no neurological damage. The pitcher was kept briefly for observation and then sent back to Yankee Stadium.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez, who was visibly affected by the incident, left the ballpark immediately after the game and called a Yankees publicist from his car for the location of the hospital, hoping to visit Huff before he was released.

Learning that Huff was on his way back to the ballpark, Rodriguez was given the player’s cellphone number and was trying to reach him Saturday night.

“Your heart stops. You want so badly to take it back,” Rodriguez said in a statement relayed through Jason Zillo, a Yankees publicist. “You’re scared. You think of him, you think of his family. You think of a million other places that the ball could have gone, other than where it did. Why there?

“I mean, we’re playing a game. A game. I know it’s a business, too, but to all of us, playing it should always be a game first, and when something like that happens right in front of your eyes it makes you think long and hard about things much bigger than throwing or hitting a baseball or running around the bases for a few hours a day. I’m so thankful that he’s going to be OK.”

It really is just a freak accident of physics. A move to the left or the right, a little more or less force on the ball, and things would’ve turned out differently. Fortunately, Huff is okay.

Here’s video of the incident, which is still cringe-inducing even when you know that the injury wasn’t bad:


Walking The Batter Before A-Rod, Not Always A Good Idea

15yankees_CA0-popupLast night, the Minnesota Twins took a gamble, and lost:

NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez waited on deck, with runners at second and third and the Yankees trailing by a run in the seventh inning. Boy, did Ron Gardenhire have a tough decision to make.

Pitch to Mark Teixeira or intentionally walk him and bring in right-handed sinkerballer Matt Guerrier to replace Brian Duensing? Even though A-Rod was 4 for 6 against Guerrier with three home runs?

Yup, Guerrier came in.

And the ball went out.

Rodriguez hit his 19th career grand slam, moving past Frank Robinson into sole possession of seventh place with his 587th home run and powering the New York Yankees over the Minnesota Twins 8-4 Friday night.

“That’s why I hit fourth,” A-Rod said. “My team is expecting me to get big hits in those type of situations.”

He was so excited as the ball went over the left-field wall that he nearly carried his bat all the way to first base. He then raised a fist in triumph after the drive gave the Yankees a 7-4 lead.

Part of the problem that the Twins faced, of course, is that the Yankee lineup is simply too strong to assume anyone is an easy out. Teixeira has had a hot bat all month, so walking him and bringing in the righthander to get Rodriguez isn’t necessarily a dumb call.

Except in retrospect as you’re watching that ball go over the wall and the bases clear.


Pitcher Randy Johnson announces his retirement

I consider Johnson the best lefty that I personally saw pitch. My baseball viewing began in 1967, so I just missed both Sandy Koufax and Warren Spahn. The only lefty since 67 that was in Johnson’s class, was Steve Carlton. Johnson was a more dominating pitcher. Enjoy your retirement Randy.

Randy Johnson is retiring after 22 major league seasons.

The Big Unit, an overpowering lefty who last June became the 24th pitcher to win 300 games, made the expected announcement Tuesday on a conference call.

“I really wanted to go out on my terms,” Johnson said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot more for me to do in this game. I just think it’s a natural progression when you play this long. Eventually you have to say it’s time.”

A Storied Career

A five-time Cy Young Award winner, the 46-year-old Johnson accomplished just about everything in his remarkable career that a player hopes for in baseball.

He owns a World Series ring and co-MVP honors, and was a 10-time All-Star. He threw two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and ranks second on the career strikeout list.

The 6-foot-10 Johnson finishes with a career record of 303-166 and 4,875 strikeouts in 4,135 1/3 innings for Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the New York Yankees and San Francisco. His strikeouts are the most by a left-hander and second to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.

Johnson overcame several injuries to keep pitching at a high level into his mid-40s. He said before last season ended that he looked forward to going home to Arizona and spending time with his family before making a decision about his future.

“It’s taken this long into January because I definitely wanted to just kind of relax from the season being over and make sure I had a clear head when I made this decision, and that I would be making it wholeheartedly and would be sticking to it,” he said.

Johnson went 8-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 17 starts and five relief appearances for San Francisco last season despite missing more than two months with a strained left shoulder that also had a tear in the rotator cuff. He returned in late September as a reliever, a role he couldn’t see himself embracing in order to keep pitching.


Detroit Catcher Gerald Laird and his brother arrested after brawl

Were they the last professional athletes to be arrested in 2009? From AP-

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault Wednesday night and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. Police said the Lairds and a third man were arrested at U.S. Airways Center after the fight during the Phoenix Suns-Boston Celtics game.

Police said arena security previously contacted the group of men about their loud behavior. Two of the men were allowed back into the lounge after a conversation with security, but a melee broke out shortly afterward and the Laird brothers allegedly assaulted the security guards.

Brandon Laird is a infield prospect in the New York Yankees farm system.


Washington Nationals sign C Ivan Rodriguez

The Nationals will be Pudge’s 5th team in three years. From the Washington Times-

The Washington Nationals have agreed with former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a two-year deal, according to a club source. The deal is believed to be worth $6 million, and it gives Washington the veteran catcher who can both spell and mentor Jesus Flores that general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s been looking for.Pudge

The move came shortly after the midnight deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers. Rodriguez declined arbitration, instead landing a multi-year deal at the age of 38.

What the Nationals will primarily be getting is experience; the future Hall of Famer has played nearly 2,400 major-league games and reached 14 All-Star Games. He has thrown out 46 percent of baserunners during his career.

Washington has been searching for an insurance policy behind the plate with Flores trying to return from shoulder surgery. He also won rave reviews for his work with a young pitching staff in Detroit from 2004-08, and will be counted on to duplicate those efforts with the Nationals’ young arms, particularly top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals goals of having Rodriguez tutor Flores and Strasburg are realistic. Pudge’s goal of playing 70 or more games next season, is more problematic. He is 38 and with almost 2,300 games under his belt. I don’t think he is capable of maintaining a heavy and productive workload but that’s my opinion.


Former NY Yankee Tommy Henrich dead at 96

He, Joe Dimaggio, and Charlie Keller formed a great outfield in the 40′s when men weren’t off fighting World War II. Henrich’s career stats would have better if not for the 3 years he lost due to his service in the Coast Guard, and back trouble late in his career. After his days were up as a ballplayer, he was a Coach for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and New York Giants. RIP.

Tommy Henrich, nicknamed “Old Reliable” for his knack of delivering clutch hits for the New York Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 96.Untitled

Henrich died in Dayton, Ohio, the team said.

Henrich was a five-time All-Star outfielder who joined the Yankees in 1937 and finished in 1950, winning four World Series championships. He missed three seasons while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.

Henrich hit the first game-ending home run in World Series history, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a drive against Don Newcombe to beat Brooklyn 1-0 in the 1949 opener.

“He was extremely good in big games, games that meant something,” former teammate and family friend Bobby Brown told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Texas.

“If we were ahead 10-1 or 10-2, he was just average. If we were behind 10-1 or 10-2, same thing. But get him in a big game and he was terrific,” Brown said. “We didn’t call him ‘Old Reliable.’ We just knew he was ‘Old Reliable.’”

Yet Henrich’s most famous at-bat may have been a time when he didn’t hit the ball.

In Game 4 of the 1941 Series against the Dodgers, Henrich struck out to seemingly end the game. But Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen dropped the third strike, and Henrich raced safely to first base.

Given another chance, the Yankees rallied for four runs in the ninth inning for a 7-4 win and a 3-1 Series edge.

Henrich hit .282 with 183 home runs and 795 RBIs. He twice led the American League in triples and topped the AL by scoring 138 runs in 1948. Late in his career, he moved from right field and finished as a part-time first baseman.

Henrich played in the World Series in 1938, 1941, 1947 and 1949 and won championships every time. He hit one home run in each Series.

“I am saddened by the loss of Tommy Henrich, who was truly one of my personal favorites,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “‘Old Reliable’ was beloved by his Yankee teammates.”

Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were among Henrich’s Hall of Fame teammates. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, pitcher Virgil Trucks is now believed to be the oldest living Yankee at 92 years.

Henrich was born in Massillon, Ohio, a city known for its football prowess, and was longtime friends with famed coach Paul Brown. After retiring, Henrich was a coach with the Yankees, New York Giants and Detroit Tigers.

Bobby Brown had stayed in touch with Henrich, and said he last saw him about four years ago. Brown said he got a phone call from Henrich’s daughter on Tuesday informing him of the death.

“Tommy was a darn good ballplayer and teammate,” Berra said in a statement released by the team. “He always took being a Yankee to heart.

“When I came up in 1947, he taught me little nuances about playing the outfield. Being around Tommy made you feel good, whether playing cards or listening to him sing with that great voice. He was a proud man, and if you knew him, he made you proud, too,” Berra said.

Henrich hit a career-high 31 home runs in 1941 and had 100 RBIs in 1948.


Hideki Matsui ties record for most RBIs in World Series game

The previous mark was set 49 years ago. From AP-

Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui has driven in six runs in Game 6 against the Phillies to tie Bobby Richardson’s record for most RBIs in a World Series game.

Matsui hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, a two-run single in the third – both coming off Philadelphia starter Pedro Martinez – and a two-run double off J.A. Happ in the fifth inning on Wednesday night to give New York a 7-1 lead.

Richardson accomplished the feat for the Yankees on Oct. 8, 1960, in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Yankees are up 7-3 with two outs in the ninth inning. It’s looking like the Yankees will win yet another World Series and this NY Met fan isn’t happy. My wife is rooting for the Yankees too!


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