September 30, 2010

A-Rod’s 30 and 100 milestone unmatched

Alex Rodriguez reached a milestone no player in major league history has reached before. He hit his 30th home run, marking the 14th 13th consecutive year of at least 30 homers and 100 or more RBIs. Fourteen overall.

Only Hank Aaron has more seasons with 30-plus homers, inconsecutively, with 15.

It’s truly an amazing feat.

Last year he hit two homers and seven RBIs in the final game of the year to reach 30 and 100 dead on, and this year he hit five homers in his last six games to reach 30.

Unfortunately, I have trouble raving much more about A-Rod’s career accomplishments because of his tarnished reputation. Don’t you?

September 29, 2010

Roger Maris Featured Card of the Week

If you’ve never seen the movie 61*, I advise you get yourself a copy from the video store tonight.

The movie details Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle’s race to 61 homers in 1961. A lot of it shows how the media treated both players differently and how fans felt about both too.

For your information, I have two more cards left from this era. Click here for a full archive of all the old cards I've featured this summer and fall.

Skip Bayless isn’t that bizarre in real life

Tonight I saw a skinny old guy in a suit pounding on a desk in my classroom who called himself Skip Bayless. He argued Ben Roethlisberger, who hasn’t played a regular season game yet this year, is a top five quarterback in the NFL today.

Sounds like The REAL Skip Bayless, right? The only problem was he didn’t seem anything like the guy we are all used to seeing on ESPN’s First Take every day.

He spoke to my class called “ESPNization of America” at Quinnipiac University, just a quick half-hour drive from Bristol, Conn.

My class and I saw a much more mellowed out Skip than the one on First Take, as my friend learned from Jay Crawford a few years ago. Skip didn’t raise his voice once in his three-hour Q&A. In fact, sometimes he needed to speak up.

Some fun facts/stories from Skip:

  • His producers at First Take have never told him after a show he went too far. They trust he knows his boundaries.
  • His meetings before First Take when he argues for certain topics to be covered on the show are more entertaining than the actual show sometimes.
  • He drinks two Mountain Dews every morning before First Take. He’s not a morning person, but wakes up at 5 a.m. during the week.
  • When he followed the Dallas Cowboys in the early ‘90s, after a loss in the playoffs he was called to the back of the plane by an intoxicated, 300-pound left tackle named Mark Tuinei, who then backed him into the plane’s bathroom door. Tuinei had a problem with Skip because of what he had written about Troy Aikman. Skip told us he thought Tuinei would have killed him if coach Jimmy Johnson hadn’t broken up the scuffle.
  • Favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz.
  • Favorite TV shows are True Blood and Entourage.
  • Favorite actor is Jack Nicholson.
  • Favorite actress is Marisa Tomei.
  • Favorite late-night snack is a protein bar.
  • The only team he roots for every year is Oklahoma in college football. He doesn’t dislike any team, not even the Yankees. But he does root for whichever team he picks to go all the way before the season.
Thanks for talking to our class, Skip! It was great meeting you.

September 28, 2010

Yanks clinch playoff berth behind CC’s gem

CC Sabathia nearly tossed a complete game in tonight’s postseason-clinching win for the Yankees. They crushed the Blue Jays, 6-1, but still remain a half game out of first place because of the Rays.

Best of All: Now us Yankees fans don’t have to worry about what would’ve been the biggest collapse in sports history.

Derek Jeter is showing life in September. He scored three times tonight and had a couple of hits. Like everyone I’ve asked, Jeter’s regular season totals don’t mean anything if he comes up big in the postseason.

Worst of All: Lance Berkman is hitless since last Wednesday.

Coming Up: The Yankees vie for their first series win since Baltimore a week and a half ago.

September 27, 2010

Poll Results: Sabathia more likely to win major award than Cano

poll results41Despite my best efforts on Saturday to convince voters that Robinson Cano has a better chance of winning a big award than CC Sabathia, voters favored CC.

Here’s my summary of my argument for Cano again:

I don’t think either Yankee leaders have a great chance at winning a big award, but Cano has a better chance because of Felix Hernandez’s dominant year.

New poll: Who starts Game 3 of the ALDS?

Yankees beat Red Sox on walk-off walk

Despite another blown save from the great Mariano Rivera, the Yankees prevailed in the 10th inning on a walk-off walk by Juan Miranda to beat the Red Sox 4-3.

The Yankees’ magic number is now down to one.

Best of All: The Yankees were in need of a quality start after some awful starts this past week. Phil Hughes provided that, as he went six strong innings.

Mark Teixeira had three hits, including a key hit in the ninth-inning rally to tie the game up after Rivera blew the lead. It would’ve been Teixeira — not Miranda — up in the 10th inning with the bases loaded if Joe Girardi hadn’t pinch-run for him.

Alex Rodriguez launched another homer, his fourth of the series. He’s now just one shy of 30, a huge milestone for him.

Worst of All: The Yankees mustered just four hits through the first eight innings off Daisuke Matsuzaka. Ouch.

Coming Up: The Yankees visit Toronto for the first few days of the week and then, after an off-day Thursday, they conclude their season at Fenway Park this weekend.

September 26, 2010

Hughes starting for Moseley tonight

The Yankees have changed their minds again with Phil Hughes, as they’ve opted for him to start on normal rest tonight instead of Dustin Moseley.

In other words, Joe Girardi and the Yankees realized tonight’s game is kind of important, and one start over a young pitcher’s innings limit probably isn’t going to result in a Tommy John surgery.

I think it’s important to note Hughes knew of this decision last night, not hours before the game as some of you may be thinking. The announcement was made today, but the decision was made last night.

It would not be wise for the Yankees — or any team — to change a starter on game day unless of course there were an injury. Why? Because most (if not all) pitchers have routines they follow on days they are pitching.

September 25, 2010

Cano more likely to win big award than CC

This post is in regards to my current poll on the left sidebar. Normally I’d wait until Monday for the new poll to discuss, but I noticed Robinson Cano has only received ONE vote for MVP.

I’m telling you now I sincerely believe Cano has a better chance at winning the MVP than CC Sabathia has at winning the Cy Young.

The Case for Cano:
Cano isn’t leading any major statistical categories, but he has a few things going for him that I factor into my MVP vote.

First, he’s the best player on one of the best teams in baseball. The Yankees are loaded, yes, but Cano plays a huge role into their success. For a while, he was the team’s only .300 hitter. Cano’s WAR (wins above replacement) beats Miguel Cabrera’s 6.5-6.1.

Second, he has the second best well-rounded hitting line (triple crown numbers) in the league. Only Cabrera tops him, but his team is 14 games out of the division lead right now.

Finally, Cano’s impact on defense is greater than Cabrera’s. For the record, I’ve ruled out Josh Hamilton because he’s been injured down the stretch. That’s a killer when it comes to MVP voting, I think.

The Case against CC:
Sabathia is really the real reason why Cano has a better chance to win a big award. I don’t think CC stands a chance against Felix Hernandez. This article from USA Today is why I’m writing this whole post right now, and this is when I started to realize this year’s Cy belongs to King Felix.

Bottom line: CC’s 20 wins don’t compare to Hernandez’s league-lead in strikeouts and ERA.

In Summary:
I don’t think either Yankee leaders have a great chance at winning a big award, but Cano has a better chance because of Hernandez’s dominant year.

September 24, 2010

Yanks’ would-be epic comeback falls short

The Yankees trailed by as many as nine runs tonight, but brought it back to a respectable 10-8 loss against the Red Sox.

Best of All: The Yankees smashed six homers against Red Sox pitching, four of which off Josh Beckett. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira each clubbed a pair, while Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher added homers of their own. 

The fact that the Yankees had one crack at tying this game in the ninth inning was unbelievable. If I’m the Red Sox, I’m not a very confident team heading into the weekend.

Worst of All: Andy Pettitte was a major disappointment tonight. Yankees fans hoped he’d approach 100 pitches tonight. Instead, he exited with one out in the fourth inning after 75 pitches. He allowed seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits.

Coming Up: Like I said, the Yankees have all the momentum heading into the weekend despite the loss. I expect tonight’s high-octane offense to continue Saturday and Sunday. However, the Yankees will need a couple of good pitching performances out of Ivan Nova and Dustin Moseley if they want to clinch a playoff berth.

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

If the Yankees win two out of three against the Red Sox this weekend, they clinch a playoff berth. I hope that means no games will be thrown away, unlike two nights ago.

No, this series won’t have the same rivalry intensity as there has been in the past. But the Red Sox know what’s at stake, and I think Terry Francona’s managing strategy will reflect that. (Watch out for a Clay Buchholz out of the bullpen.)

Head to Head:
The Yankees are 7-5 against the Red Sox this season, and these two teams meet again next weekend in the last series of the year. That should be entertaining.

Pitching Matchups:
Date: Red Sox starters Yankees starters
Fri., 7:05 p.m. Josh Beckett (5-5, 5.71) Andy Pettitte (11-2, 2.81)
Sat., 4:10 p.m. Jon Lester (18-8, 3.06) Ivan Nova (1-0, 4.11)
Sun., 8:05 p.m. D. Matsuzaka (9-6, 4.86) Dustin Moseley (4-3, 4.94)
Roster Notes: Phil Hughes start Sunday got pushed back to Wednesday because of his innings limit. Check out tonight’s game preview here.

Prediction: This is a really big series, and unfortunately the Yankees don’t have their rotation lined up. Luckily, they won’t have to deal with Buchholz (as a starter, at least). I think the Yankees will win tonight and tomorrow, but lose Sunday.

Rays have much easier remaining schedule than Yankees’

Yankees’ remaining opponents combined record: (735-633, .537)
Rays’ remaining opponents combined record: (609-911, .401)

It’s kind of absurd.

If you aren’t a numbers guy, the Yankees play the third and fourth placed teams in the best division in baseball and the Rays play two last placed teams and then the Kansas City Royals four times.

Yeah, it’s pretty absurd.

Now get ready to cringe. The Yankees have a half game lead over the Rays right now.

Chances the Yankees win the division? Vote here.

Embarrassing [Recap from last night]

The Yankees carried a 3-1 lead into the sixth inning in possibly the most important game of the year and wound up losing 10-3.


CC Sabathia picked the wrong night for his worst start of the season. After walking the Rays’ eighth and ninth hitters, Joba Chamberlain entered and allowed all three inherited runners to score plus one of his own.


Javier Vazquez hit three Rays in a row.


Oh, and Joe Girardi left him after that.


September 23, 2010

Girardi gave away last night’s game to Rays

I don’t know how you can deny it. After the rain came in the bottom of the third, A.J. Burnett’s start was over and Joe Girardi handed the rest of the game to three pitchers who haven’t seen action in more than a week and Chad Gaudin (5.25 ERA before the game). He gave away the game last night against the Yankees’ top competitor, the Rays.

Should Girardi have done that in order to keep his bullpen fresh for tonight and the rest of the week? Absolutely not.

No player will ever call it quits when they’re at the plate or on the mound. But when a manager brings in backups (meant for blowouts) in tight games, the players don’t have control.

Apparently David Robertson wasn’t available last night due to back spasms, and I’d count Joba Chamberlain out too because he pitched the night before.

OK, so Girardi did have a couple of excuses for bringing in his weaker pitchers in a huge game, but I still think he could have done a lot more to win.

What were Kerry Wood, Boone Logan and Mariano Rivera doing out in the bullpen? Gaudin had no business pitching in a one-run ballgame when three bullpen anchors were fresh and ready to go.

Shame on Girardi. Now let’s see if CC Sabathia can help me forget about this mess with a big, big start against David Price tonight.

September 22, 2010

Hector Lopez Featured Card of the Week

Hector Lopez played alongside Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (keep those two players in mind later this month) in the Yankees’ 1961 outfield. Lopez never hit .300 in 12 major league seasons, eight of which with the Yankees.

Lopez is also well known for being the first black manager in Triple-A. Here are his career stats (B-R):

September 21, 2010

Bombers beat Rays, extend lead in AL East

A five-run first inning fueled the Yankees 8-3 victory over the Rays tonight. The Yankees now lead the Rays by 2.5 games in the AL East and their magic number for a playoff berth is down to 3.

Best of All: Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits tonight, but is still hitting just .265 on the year.

Phil Hughes turned in his first quality start since Aug. 19, earning his 17th win of the season.

Both Lance Berkman and Robinson Cano contributed two-run doubles.

Worst of All: Javier Vazquez allowed an inherited runner to score in the seventh and allowed three hits in one inning of work.

Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee starter without a hit, but he did score twice.

Coming Up: The Yankees have already assured themselves first place after their series with the Rays ends, but how many games they’re up by depends on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ivan Nova struggling with the fifth inning

For some reason, the fifth inning has stumped Ivan Nova recently.

Keep in mind, six of those fifth-inning earned runs came in one start.

He’s 23 years old, which is not that young, and he didn’t have this problem in Triple-A.

I think he gets overconfident and loses his focus. And I don’t blame him!

He has quieted one of the best offenses in baseball, the Rays’, for the first four innings twice in a row! I’d be ecstatic and probably forget where I am.

But if I’m Joe Girardi, I continue to throw Nova into the fifth. If he doesn’t let him conquer his “fears” now, then when? Now is the best time, as a playoff berth is only a few wins away.

September 20, 2010

Granderson helps Yankees sink Rays

Curtis Granderson launched two homers in an 8-6 victory over the Rays, including a three-run homer in the sixth to break a 4-4 tie.

Best of All: Wins against the Rays this time of year are huge. The Yankees expanded their lead to one-and-a-half games. 

Granderson has been one of the hottest Yankees in September. He now leads the team with six homers and 17 RBIs this month.

Ivan Nova nearly earned his first quality start, but was yanked before getting the last out of the sixth.

Worst of All: Mariano Rivera allowed at least one run in his second straight outing. September is already his worst month of the season in terms of earned runs allowed.

Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano combined to go for 0-for-13. Umm?

Coming Up: The Yankees have three more to play against the Rays. At least they’re at home.

Steinbrenner to be honored tonight, E:60 tomorrow

The Yankees are dedicating a monument in honor of George M. Steinbrenner tonight. Notables to be in attendance include Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson.

ESPN’s E:60 will air a documentary for Steinbrenner Tuesday night.

Steinbrenner was more than just one of the greatest owners in sports history. If you’ve seen the Yankeeography for him, I bet you’ve already learned a ton about him you didn’t expect.

If you have some time, check out my archive on The Boss here.

Poll Results: Fans scared of Rays in playoffs

poll results40

In my latest poll, fans voted they were most scared of facing the Rays in the playoffs. Neither the Twins nor the Rangers received many votes.

I sided with the fans this week. The Rays were the only team listed that has a deep starting rotation. It’s really hard to compete when you don’t have answers for David Price and Matt Garza.

If the season ended today, the Yankees would face the Rangers in the first round and have home field advantage until the World Series (if they get there). The Rays would face the Twins.

Just for kicks, I’m going to look into the National League for minute.

The Phillies, Braves, Reds and Giants would be in the postseason, but the Padres are fighting desperately for a spot.

My preseason World Series pick of Yankees vs. Giants is still intact, but I’m starting to think the Phillies are too good once again.

Next poll: Who deserves their award more?

September 19, 2010

CC wins 20th, but should he win Cy Young?

CC Sabathia won his 20th game of the year last night against the Orioles, the first time he’s accomplished the feat in his 10-year career. However, what do wins even mean toward the Cy Young voting?

The fact is, pitchers can’t win games by themselves. If a starter throws 20 innings of shutout ball in a game, but his offense doesn’t give him any support, he won’t pick up the W.

Wins come down to run support. It’s not the only thing, but it plays a major factor in whether a pitcher earns the win or not. This is why Sabathia will not win the Cy Young this year and Felix Hernandez will.

Pitcher ERA Run Support Wins
Sabathia 3.05 5.99 20
Hernandez 2.35 3.16 12

There you have it. And with a little mathematics, assuming each starter had the same run support (4.575, the mean), Sabathia winds up with 15 wins and Hernandez gets 17.

Wins should be disregarded in the Cy Young voting. Yes, something can be said about a pitcher’s ability to win games, but a pitcher’s ability to limit the number of times the opposition scores is the biggest key.

Felix gets my vote.

September 18, 2010

Cashman: Healthy players in playoffs means more than winning division

The Yankee U’s Steve S. wrote a great piece on why the Yankees should not overextend themselves to win the division, and Brian Cashman added to Steve’s point yesterday.

“I’ve been beaten by a wild-card Red Sox team in ’04,” Cashman said. “I’ve been beaten by a wild-card Florida Marlins in the World Series in ’03. I’m not saying give me the wild card. I’m just saying we’ve got to realize perspective. We’re in this to try to win a World Series. If we don’t, people remember that we didn’t more than whatever we did.”

Then Cashman pointed out that the health of Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher for the postseason is more important to the Yankees than winning the division.

He’s absolutely right.

As Steve suggested, facing either the Twins or the Rangers will be a tough task. If I were the Yankees, I would rather face the Rangers — I didn’t think last series was a good preview for a postseason matchup — but not by much.

Why are the Yankees playing tonight and not today? Only one day game on a Saturday is awful.

September 17, 2010

A-Rod’s A-Bombs down O’s, 4-3

The Yankees couldn’t afford to lose the series opener against the Orioles. Baltimore closer Koji Uehara was one strike away from a 3-1 win, but with a quick turn of the hips Alex Rodriguez made it 4-3. Then Mo handled his business. I think you get the picture.

Best of All: The ninth-inning blast was A-Rod’s second of the game, giving him 25 for the year. He needs five more in the 15 remaining games to give him 13 consecutive years of 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Nobody’s ever done that before. Ever.

A.J. Burnett wasn’t bad A.J. I’ll take 7 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 6 K out of him any day of the week.

Worst of All: Mark Teixeira went 0-for-5 with a couple of K’s. That’s about it.

Coming Up: Game 2 is Saturday night featuring CC Sabathia in search of his 20th win of the year.

Yankees-Orioles series preview

The Yankees are currently in their worst stretch of the year. They’ve lost eight of their last 10, two of which coming against the team they play tonight, the Orioles.

This three-game series is the easiest part remaining on New York’s regular season schedule, but not by much. The Orioles have been a different team since ex-Yankee manager Buck Showalter came into power.

You probably aren’t going to believe this, but the Orioles have won 63.4 percent of the 41 games they’ve played under Showalter’s management. The O’s are still in last place by a longshot, but who knows how far out they’d be if it weren’t for Showalter.

Head to Head:
The Yankees are 12-4 against the Orioles this season, and this series is their final meeting.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Orioles starters
Fri., 7:05 p.m. A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.13) K. Milwood (3-15, 5.30)
Sat., 7:05 p.m. CC Sabathia (19-6, 3.03) J. Guthrie (10-13, 3.74)
Sun., 1:35 p.m. A. Pettitte (11-2, 2.88) Chris Tillman (1-4, 6.32)

Roster Notes: Brett Gardner is back in the lineup, Nick Swisher is out and Romulo Sanchez was called up.

The Yankees have their rotation setup for a sweep, and I think they’ll get it done. Saturday and Sunday will be very exciting, as Sabathia vies for his 20th win and Pettitte returns for his first start since July 18.

Mattingly to take over for Torre next year

This is the news we all knew would come one day. Joe Torre and Don Mattingly have confirmed the report. Mattingly’s managing days will begin April 1, 2010 against the Giants. But I’m sure he already knows that.

Torre is 70 years old and a sure Hall of Famer. Mattingly is still young and finally has an opportunity to head a club. I hope one day Mattingly can manage the team that drafted him when he was 18 years old and the team he will always be known for, Hall of Fame or not.

I don’t think Torre will manage again and I look forward to watching Mattingly at the helm next season.

September 16, 2010

Wood leading Yankees bullpen charge

When Brian Cashman acquired Kerry Wood this trade deadline, Jon Heyman posted at tweet that now makes him look like a genius.
heyman tweet

At the time, I doubted Heyman’s use of “great.” I was dead wrong. Wood has been nothing short of great with the Yankees, allowing just one run over 20-2/3 innings (0.44 ERA).

The rest of the bullpen has followed Wood’s lead since the All-Star break.

Kerry Wood 20.2 1 11 24 0.44 1.06
Joba Chamberlain 26.0 8 7 26 2.77 1.04
David Robertson 24.0 4 11 31 1.50 1.08
Mariano Rivera 19.2 4 5 10 1.83 1.12
Boone Logan 18.1 2 6 23 0.98 0.93

A great bullpen is often the key to postseason success. But the Yankees’ starters and offense will have to hand the bullpen the lead in order for the bullpen to be successful.

Sherman: Sabathia, Pettitte, tag-team for playoffs

Joel Sherman suggested in his column this morning the Yankees should “ride CC Sabathia, hope Andy Pettitte gets healthy and then turn every other game into a tag-team of pitchers.”

I absolutely agree.

No starter on the Yankees is pitching great right now. Sabathia and Pettitte are clearly the most reliable on the staff, even though Pettitte hasn’t pitched since July. The rest of the staff is too inconsistent to favor one over the other, so why not use tag-teams?

Originally, I didn’t think Ivan Nova would make the postseason roster, but now I do since Damaso Marte is out for the year. This likely leaves the Yankees with four unused starters for Games 3 and 4 (A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Javier Vazquez & Nova).

I say Joe Girardi should pair Burnett and Hughes for Game 3, and if the Yankees are ahead in the series go with Vazquez and Nova for Game 4. If they’re behind, bring back Sabathia on short rest. Ideally, they’ve already won and Sabathia can start Game 1 of the ALCS, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The one thing I don’t want to see Joe Girardi do is use one of the Yankees starters late in a game (unless it’s in extras). Why? Because the Yankees’ bullpen is the best in the American League, and lately, the best in baseball.

September 15, 2010

Girardi: Pettitte to start Sunday. Is he the Yankees’ savior?

Now we can all take a deep breath. Joe Girardi has announced the rotation for this weekend in Baltimore.

Friday: A.J. Burnett
Saturday: CC Sabathia
Sunday: Andy Pettitte

The Yankees are 30-24 (.555) since Pettitte hit the DL. With Pettitte healthy, the Yankees were  50-33 (.602). I don’t think he’s completely the reason for the dip in winning percentage, but his absence did contribute a lot.

Not only did the rotation take a hit when Pettitte was gone, but also the bullpen. The bullpen has been very good, but I wouldn’t exactly call them fresh for the postseason. Pettitte had posted a phenomenal year up until the injury, going at least six innings in all starts except three before injuring himself July 18. He had nine starts of at least seven innings, and he completed the eighth four times.

The Yankees have been extremely cautious with Pettitte’s rehab, a strategy I agree with, and I think he’ll be back at full strength Sunday. Is he the Yankees’ savior? He could be. If he has another postseason like last year, he will be.

Thoughts on Nova, Pettitte

If it weren’t for a base-running mistake by Carl Crawford, the Yankees could have lost game in which they had a 6-0 lead and fallen a game-and-a-half out of first place.

Super Nova’d:
Ivan Nova cruised through the first four innings using 50 pitches last night, but the third time through the order he fell apart. He allowed five of his six hits in the inning, including a first-pitch homer to Carlos Pena, a double and three singles.

It would’ve been extremely impressive for Nova to complete five innings of shutout ball against the second-best team in baseball. I wonder if he had a different mindset pitching with a six-run lead. I knew I would. However, I usually felt more comfortable with a lead and was less likely to lose my stuff.

Pettitte’s Rehab:
Here’s what you need to know about Andy Pettitte’s rehab start for the Trenton Thunder last night:

“I'll pitch Sunday in Baltimore,” Pettitte told reporters after his start in Altoona, Pa. “That will give me three starts.”

Well, that’s not all you need to know. Joe Girardi hasn’t announced Sunday’s starter yet, and that’s really what it comes down too.

“That's something we'll have to discuss, see how he feels,” Girardi said.


Yanks to open at home for first time in ‘11

News broke last night that the Yankees will start next season at the new Yankee Stadium for the first time in its existence. They’ll face the Tigers March 31, and then finish the season at Tropicana Field to face the Rays.

The Yankees first series on the road, April 8-10, is at Fenway Park.

Their schedule at the end of the year popped out me the most. Their last eight games are against Tampa Bay (5) and the Red Sox (3).

Still, it’s not quite as harsh as the September and October the Yankees are trying to survive through this season.

Yankees playing thrilling baseball lately

If you haven’t seen it, Greg Golson’s game-ending play last night for the Yankees is well worth waiting for the 10-second ad on

A Little Context: The Yankees led the Rays, 6-0, in the fifth, but it took a 10th-inning homer from Jorge Posada to even the series at 1 and put the Yankees back atop the AL East.

More Context: The Yankees lost a true pitchers’ duel the night before, also in extras, as CC Sabathia and David Price delivered Cy Young-like starts.

Sabathia is still considered by most (me too) as the leader for the Cy Young Award, especially now that Felix Hernandez’s workload will be monitored. But who really knows after my post yesterday.

A Lot More Context: Five of the Yankees’ last six games ended with a one-run winning margin. All five were decided in free baseball, but the Yankees won just two of them. That’s a lot of intense baseball in seven days.

Bottom Line: I’ve been extremely busy with my college newspaper lately, please marvel here, but for now I am definitely back. I’ll be perfectly honest; I didn’t catch a wink of football over opening weekend, not even my Giants (lenNY’s Giants? Maybe down the road).

My focus is purely on the Yankees until they’re eliminated. If they’re ever eliminated, that is.

1964 Rookie Stars Pedro Gonzalez, Archie Moore Featured Card of the Week

You probably haven’t heard of the two Yankees on the card shown above. The Yankees signed both Pedro Gonzalez and Archie Moore as amateur free agents, but neither had successful careers despite being dubbed “Rookie Stars” by Topps.

Moore played 40 games over the 1964-65 seasons, hitting just one homer and driving in five runs. Gonzalez had a stronger career, but the majority of it came with the Cleveland Indians.

Keep in mind, I’ve been running this series of old cards all summer. I’m getting near the bottom of my stack, but I still have a few more.

September 14, 2010

I’m really upset

Read this.

Now you know why I’m upset.

Every year it’s always so much fun to talk about who will win what major award. But when the writers contradict themselves and alternate the criteria needed to win each year, debating the awards is no longer fun.

If you were too lazy to click that link up top, all it showed was how Fox Sports writer Jon Paul Morosi is judging the AL Cy Young Award the opposite way he did last year.

I tweeted my take on awards Friday:
my tweet

The Yankee U’s Matt Imbrogno disagreed, saying team success shouldn’t factor into either award. Obviously, there’s no right answer here because the writers change up what each award means every year.

Just out of curiosity, do you think the major awards should be based partially on team success?

September 13, 2010

After sweep, road ahead doesn’t get easier

The Yankees were swept by a playoff-bound team this weekend and the Rangers did it with two walk-off wins. Trust me, it was a great weekend to put my mind on other things for once.

I warned you before the series with the Rangers it was going to be a poor precursor for a possible playoff matchup. I stand by my point.

When the weekend nightmare finally ended, I figured I’d take a look at the Yankees’ schedule. They only have 19 games left! Can you believe it?

Now what if I told you all of those games were against AL East opponents? Well, they are. And 12 of which are against Tampa Bay or Boston.

Despite getting swept, the Yankees still hold a slim half-game lead in the division, but that can quickly change when they go head-to-head with the team right on their rear.

My key to surviving these final 19 games is health. The Yankees were banged up this past weekend. The effects of playing a 143 games are starting to show on players, especially the older ones. If the Yankees can regain their health and get Andy Pettitte to return in fifth gear, this past weekend’s nightmare will be forgotten.

Poll Results: Cervelli will go homerless

poll results39

In a lighthearted poll this past week, fans voted backup catcher Francisco Cervelli will stay homerless this season.

Cervelli did homer once last year, the only one of his career, so it is possible, but the fans were still pretty harsh on him.

I voted he will. Just one.

I figured with Jorge Posada missing a few games with concussion symptoms, Cervelli would have a better shot.

I guess not.

Next poll: What playoff-bound team are you scared of most?

September 10, 2010

Yankees-Rangers series preview

Tonight marks the start of a tough stretch of games the rest of the season for the Yankees. This weekend they play three in Texas, the AL West leader by 7.5 games, and it doesn’t get much easier after that.

If the season ended today, the Yankees would play the Rangers in the Division Series. This weekend’s series won’t be a very helpful precursor, however, because of the pitching matchups and the absence of MVP candidate Josh Hamilton.

Head to Head:
The Yankees swept the Rangers back in April and split a two-game series in August. This series will be their final matchup of the season, but could meet again in the postseason.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Rangers starters
Fri., 8:05 p.m. Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.01) C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.10)
Sat., 8:05 p.m. A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.15) T. Hunter (12-3, 3.99)
Sun., 3:05 p.m. Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.83) Cliff Lee (2-5, 4.69)

Lineup Notes: No surprises!

The Yankees don’t have their best pitchers lined up for this series and I think that will really hurt them. I bet they’ll win a game for Burnett tomorrow, but it’ll be tough to find offense against Wilson and Lee.

September 9, 2010

The Jeter Question

This question came up a few days ago in an RAB mailbag, and writer Mike Axisa said there was “zero” chance of Derek Jeter retiring after this year. I begged to differ, so I commented.

Why are you discounting the idea Jeter could retire after this season? At what point in his career has he hinted he cares about personal milestones? He has five rings. I’m not saying he should or will retire, but I’m giving it more than a zero percent chance of happening.

The only responses I got were along the lines of, “Who would walk away from 3,000 hits and $50 million?” My response: Judging by the way Jeter has always talked with the media, I think he could care less about those two big numbers.

A few big links on Jeter’s future:

Nobody seems to think he’ll retire, but why isn’t anyone bringing it up as a possibility? He’s got what he’s always wanted: a handful of rings. He has more money than God, but he’s not one to be greedy.

Can you imagine Jeter asking for more money than the Yankees offer in contract negotiations this offseason? He’d tarnish his own reputation of being a selfless player all about the team winning. I can’t believe he would do such a thing.

I think if he believes he can’t help the team win anymore, he’ll retire. That just sounds like something Jeter would say.

I think Jeter’s image is who he really is.

I really don’t know what to make of this either, but I know for certain he will never play with another team. He’ll either get an extension or retire.

For now, I’ll say he comes back for $50M/3 yrs, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he retires. Neither should you.

What do you think will wind up happening with the captain?

El Duque walks away … understandably!

I can’t believe this happened 10  days ago and I missed it, but I still need to alert you that Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez left Class AA Harrisburg where he was trying to work his way back to the majors with the El_Duque_and_his_cigar!Washington Nationals.

El Duque wanted to be a September call-up, but GM Mike Rizzo told him, “No.” That’s when he walked.

Sure, the Nationals probably have some young guns they want to test out before giving El Duque a shot. But guess what, he’s still got it at age 44!!!

Yup. He’s another ageless (literally) wonder. In 11 games and 15-2/3 IP, he’s allowed three earned runs (1.72 ERA, 0.96 WHIP).

Plus, he’s a crowd-pleaser.

So Cash, what are you waiting for?

Photo credit: Wknight94

September 8, 2010

Swisher says, ‘It’s pie time!’

swisher box score I think it’s safe to say the reason why wasn’t able to provide the box score right after the game was because Nick Swisher pied it.

Yes, Swisher was pied today. He hit a two-run, walk-off blast in the ninth to lead the Yankees to a 3-2 win over the Orioles. Baltimore was just two outs shy of sweeping New York.

Best of All: Ivan Nova pitched well enough for a win, but didn’t get the run support: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

The bullpen did a really nice job of holding the Orioles to two runs. A lot of times in the past we’ve scene the bullpen allow one extra insurance run late and that comes back to haunt the Yankees. Today, that didn’t happen and Swisher made the bullpen look like champs.

Worst of All: It would’ve been awful if the Orioles had swept the Yankees at home. It hasn’t happened since 1986.

The Yanks only had four hits and six base runners off Brad Bergesen. Really?

Coming Up: Three runs won’t be enough this weekend, as the Yankees head down to Texas for a three-game series.

BBD: Hughes to be skipped, Aceves and Marte done for 2010

Bronx Baseball Daily, the Yankees blog I used to write for, has a few news updates on the Yankees you need to know (via the Daily News).

Phil Hughes will be skipped one start in the Yankees rotation to limit his innings, Joe Girardi said before Wednesday’s series finale against Baltimore. Dustin Moseley will start Sunday in Texas, and Hughes will return to the rotation next Wednesday in Tampa.

Also, Girardi said Alfredo Aceves (back) will not return this season, and Damaso Marte (shoulder) will “probably not” be back in 2010.

Hopefully Moseley can come through for maybe just one more time.

Too bad about Aceves and Marte; they would have been nice to have for the postseason.  

If you have some free time, be sure to check out BBD. Rob Abruzzese and his crew have created a quality Yankees blog that offers plenty of unique links.

And the winner is…

I’m happy to announce the winner of my second blog giveaway, chosen at random, is longtime follower Martin Molloy (dylan555 on Twitter)!

Martin, please email me at lenNYsYankees at Gmail dot com and I will get the gift code sent to you.

Martin will receive $100 worth of credit toward any Yankees gear found on CSN Stores.

Thank you all so much for entering and I’m glad I could host another successful giveaway for you readers! I hope to host more giveaways on this site in the future.

Clete Boyer Featured Card of the Week

My dad used to always tell me Clete Boyer was one of the best defensive third basemen of all time. He may always be remembered for his two plays in the 1961 World Series in which he dove to stop the ball and threw out the runner from his knees.

But Boyer only won one Gold Glove, and that came in 1969 with the Atlanta Braves. He did have one solid offensive season, also with the Braves, in 1967, but his career OPS+ of 86 says it all.

Here are his career stats:

September 7, 2010

Verducci: MLB should have two wild cards in each league

Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci just posted a convincing argument for adding another wild card to each league, creating a “Wild Card Elimination Game” in which the loser goes home and the winner advances to the Division Series to play the team with the best record.

I like the idea. A lot.

One of the points he made that I strongly agree with was the Yankees and Rays aren’t in any real race right now, but they could be. Sure, one team will get to play the wild card, but both teams can choose to rest their players with the comfort of knowing they’ll play a five-game series.

Add another wild card spot in each league and the Yankees and Rays will fight hard to win the AL East and avoid a one-game, sudden death playoff.

Verducci said he already had run the idea by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. His response:

“I don't like the season coming down to one game,” he said. “You play 162 games and it all rides on one game. I'm not sure that's fair.”

That’s the only counterpoint I can think of, and I don’t think it’s very strong. As Verducci mentions, baseball has lacked tight playoff races, win-or-go-home games and good TV ratings down the stretch.

One-game playoffs are more exciting than five- or seven-game playoff series are. I’m not advocating all playoff series should be one game, but a couple extra guaranteed March Madness-style games each year would add a lot of excitement.

What do you think? Is Verducci on to something? Or is there too much at stake for one game in a 162-game season?

I was tagged in this photo on Facebook!

burning yankee hat

AHHHH! It burns!

September 6, 2010

A-Rod homers, O’s beat Yanks, 4-3

Alex Rodriguez homered in his second game back from the disabled list, but the Yankees fell to the Orioles, 4-3, on Labor Day.

Best of All: A.J. Burnett wasn’t awful. But he wasn’t great either: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. It’s enough to keep him in the rotation in September, but it’s not helping his chances for making the playoff rotation.

Worst of All: The Yankees only had five hits off the Orioles, none of which off their bullpen. That is a terrible against one of the worst bullpens in the league.

Coming Up: CC Sabathia goes for win No. 20 tomorrow night. His career-high is 19. Speaking of CC, Cliff Corcoran (also CC) believes big CC is the frontrunner for the Cy. You might have to read that again.

Orioles-Yankees series preview

The Orioles are in town for a three-game series against the Yankees this week, starting in about 15 minutes.

Before the season started, I’ll admit that I thought the Orioles would come out of the gates strong. Boy was I wrong. I think they’ve been in last place just about every day this season.

The Yankees are 86-51 and the Orioles are 51-86. Need I say more?

Head to Head:
The Yankees have had a great year against the O’s, going 10-2 against them in a span of about six weeks in the beginning of the season. After this series, the Yankees head to Baltimore next weekend for their final meeting.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Orioles starters Yankees starters
Mon., 1:05 p.m. Brian Matusz (7-12, 4.72) A.J. Burnett (10-12, 5.15)
Tues, 7:05 p.m. Jake Arrieta (4-6, 5.11) CC Sabathia (19-5, 3.02)
Wed., 1:05 p.m. B. Bergesen (6-10, 5.47) Ivan Nova (1-0, 2.89)

Lineup Notes: Nick Swisher is finally back in the lineup after being a late scratch two games in a row.

I predict a sweep. If Burnett can’t figure it out against the Orioles, what are the Yankees going to do with him?

Labor Day Yankees Gear Giveaway!

Anyone interested in a $100 shopping spree? CSN Stores has everything from dining room sets to lighting, but probably more relevant to you, Yankees gear!

There are a few ways to enter, you only have to do one.

  1. If you're a blogger, write a post about this giveaway on your own blog and link to this post.
  2. Follow lenNYsYankees on Twitter and tweet this post.
  3. "Like" lenNY's Yankees — A Bronx Bombers Blog on Facebook and leave a comment or wall post on the page saying you'd like to enter.
Forty-eight hours from this post’s timestamp (Wednesday at noon), an entrant will be selected at random to be the winner and I will announce the winner in a separate post.

The winner can choose any number of items to purchase, just as long as all items are Yankees merchandise.

Just so you get an idea of what you can win, I’d buy this Mariano Rivera wall graphic:
rivera wall graphic

$99.99, free shipping

I’m very excited to host my second giveaway this summer. It’s a way of giving back to my faithful readers and hopefully finding some new ones too. I wish everyone who enters good luck!

I know Brian Gallo was very happy with his prize last time.

Poll Results: Burnett still a question mark

poll results38 Fans couldn’t decide whether A.J. Burnett belongs in the rotation, according to my latest poll.

Burnett starts tonight against the Orioles, but nobody knows what to expect.

In his past 10 outings, he’s posted three starts allowing more than six runs as well as three starts allowing one or less.

I can understand why the poll wasn’t definitive; I couldn’t tell you if he belongs in the rotation. I don’t think a decision to remove him can be made until Andy Pettitte returns and Javier Vazquez makes a couple more starts.

For your information, here’s what my playoff rotation looks like (very subject to change):

1. CC Sabathia
2. Andy Pettitte
3. Phil Hughes
4. Javier Vazquez (if nec)

New poll: Will Francisco Cervelli hit a homer this year?

September 5, 2010

A-Rod returns, Yanks’ winning streak ends

Alex Rodriguez returned to the field and lineup on his first day of eligibility, but the Blue Jays slugged three homers off Phil Hughes en route to a 7-3 win over the Yankees. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak.

Best of All: A-Rod went 2-for-5 with an RBI in his return, inching closer to the 100-RBI plateau (98).

Brett Gardner and Ramiro Pena added two hits apiece; Gardner added a sac fly and Pena scored a run.

Worst of All: Hughes allowed two homers on 0-2 counts and the third came on a first-pitch cutter.

Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson each went hitless in four ABs.

Coming Up: The Yankees stay at home to host the Orioles to start the week and will visit Texas over the weekend.

Another adventure to Yankee Stadium

9.4.10 Mo Last Out
Yesterday my roommate and I went to the Yankee game. Marcus Thames’ two-run homer propelled the Yankees to a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays, which extended their winning streak to eight. It was a great game, don’t get me wrong, but I think the story of getting to the game from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., was a little more entertaining.

Getting the Tickets:
As you probably know, I interned for a digital marketing agency called EIC in New York City over the summer. Toward the end of the internship, my boss, mentioned the possibility of getting Yankee tickets via a connection at Time Warner Cable. I emailed the person we knew there and told him what games in August I could go to (assuming I’d go with one of my co-workers). He didn’t get back to me until Thursday, but he responded with good news.

He dropped off the tickets with my boss and he told me I had to pick them up before 8 p.m. Friday. Since I was at school, my only option was for one of my sisters living in the city to pick them up. Of course, my older sister helped me out; yes, this one. Little did I know the trouble that lay ahead. But first, there was another conflict.

My Blog’s Meltdown:
At 11:41 a.m., while my roommate and I were just entering Manhattan to pick up the tickets and park the car, my dad called me with some frightening news. “I tried going to your site and it says your blog has been removed.” I thought it was a browser problem or my dad typing in my old blogspot URL. But when I checked on my roommate’s iPhone, I thought I was in for the worst day of my life.

I had checked my site before I left for the game and everything was fine. The last thing I did, however, was add the Twitter gadget so fans could follow me tweets live from the stadium. I’m pretty sure that’s what set off the alarm to Blogger, my site’s host. Still in the car, I tried logging into Blogger and was greeted with a message saying they had picked up suspicious activity on my site.

Thankfully, all I had to do was verify a few personal details and my blog was back.

Deja Vu with my Sister:
My roommate dropped me off next to my sister’s apartment to pick up the tickets while he parked the car. It’s 12:30 at this point; we knew were going to be a little late. I buzzed the room. No response. I buzzed again, and again, and again. Still nothing.

I weaseled my way into the lobby through the tenant, but I needed a key to activate the elevator to access the apartment. So I hit the basement button in hopes it would be accessible to get to the stairs. Luckily, it was. I ran up six flights of stairs and started banging on the apartment door. Five minutes later, my sister’s boyfriend asked, in a tired voice, if I brought up the paper. I screamed, “No! I need my tickets!”

Last year for the World Series parade I had planned to stay over at my sister’s house to get a few hours of sleep. She didn’t answer and I spent the entire night out in New York City. When my sister wasn’t responding to my calls, I thought I was in for an awful day.

The Subway Surprise:
We boarded the 4 train only to find out it was NOT running express to Yankee Stadium. This made us even more late. What more could go wrong? 

For some strange reason, my roommate still hadn’t asked where our seats were. Little did he know, we were sitting in section 110, 13 rows from the field.

I asked him about the tickets and he said, “Are they bleacher seats?” I gave him his ticket and he stared at it for a few seconds. Then his smile lit up the subway car.

Photos and Videos:

We spent the bottom of the eighth inning anticipating Mariano Rivera’s entrance. When he came out, the stadium went berserk.

The famous Freddy makes his way up the aisle giving fans a chance to ring his bell.

Mo got the last out, and my roommate and I saluted him.

For more photos from the game, check out my blog’s Facebook page.

Thanks again, Sanford and Rick, for hooking me up with the great seats!

September 3, 2010

Yanks’ win streak hits seven in 7-3 win

The Yankees had a peculiar lineup today, but it didn’t affect the expected outcome lately. Without Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher or Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees powered their way past the Blue Jays to a 7-3 win.

Best of All: Curtis Granderson had his third two-hit day in a row and has six RBIs in his last two games.

Brett Gardner reached base and scored three times.

Worst of All: Robinson Cano missed out on the hit parade, as he posted an ugly 0-for-5 line. 

Ivan Nova finished an out shy of his second straight win. Joe Girardi wasn’t that impressed with his stuff today, saying he ran into a lot of three-ball counts. Nova’s final line: 4-2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.

Coming Up: I’ll be going to Game 2 of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. Check back here for live updates from Yankee Stadium!

Blue Jays-Yankees series preview

The Blue Jays are back and that’s not great news for the Yankees. Toronto is sending the same three starters that took two out of three from the Yankees last week, and Jose Bautista is still crushing homers at a scary rate.

Containing Bautista will be the biggest key for the Yankees this series. He went deep twice in the first game last series, and has added three more to his major-league leading total (43) over his last seven games.

And let’s not forget about Vernon Wells either.

Head to Head:
The Blue Jays lead the season series 7-5, but the Yankees still have six chances to make up the deficit, starting today.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Blue Jays starters Yankees starters
Fri., 1:05 p.m. Brandon Morrow (10-6, 4.27) Ivan Nova (1-0, 1.93)
Sat., 1:05 p.m. M. Rzepczynski (1-3, 6.03) J. Vazquez (10-9, 4.86)
Sun., 1:05 p.m. Brett Cecil (11-7, 3.74) Phil Hughes (16-6, 4.10)

Lineup Notes: Nick Swisher is out of the lineup today after leaving yesterday with stiffness in his left knee. Unexpectedly, Derek Jeter is getting a “routine” off-day.

The Blue Jays have played the Yankees tough this year, and they’ll be a much tougher task than the Athletics were. At least the Yankees are familiar with the pitchers they’ll face, a factor that usually bodes well for them. I’ll bet the Yankees take the first two of the series, but not the last.

Yankees news: CC & Grandy lead Yanks to sweep, A-Rod & Boras split, Aceves setback

I wasn’t able to post yesterday after the game because I was in class from 3:30 to 9 p.m. and then I worked on a project deep into the night. If you were in a similar situation, here’s a quick recap of what you missed.

September 2, 2010

Swish leaves after 1st inning with stiff knee

Nick Swisher left today’s game after the first inning with stiffness in his left knee, according to the Yankees. Jack Curry first reported it, referencing the injury as a follow-up from when he fouled a ball off his knee in Toronto.

He’s day-to-day, and Curtis Granderson replaced him in the lineup.

I suspect Swish will sit out tomorrow and then maybe return Saturday. Today was the first of five day games in a row at Yankee Stadium.

I’ll update this post if more information becomes available.

Teixeira reminds me of my dorm room

This is my first week back at Quinnipiac University for my junior year, and I’ve had to endure some of the harshest living conditions of my life due to the scorching sun and lack of air conditioning.

When I see Mark Teixeira having a monster series against the Athletics, his hot bat reminds me of my dorm room. Hot, hot, hot. En fuego. En feu. However you want to say it, he’s tearing the cover off the ball.

After last night’s 4-3 victory, he’s combined to go 8-for-12 with two homers, eight RBIs, five runs scored and two doubles against the A’s. He gets one more shot at the Athletics’ pitching staff today, led by Dallas Braden, who Teixeira is 4-for-13 against in his career with a homer.

Cam you remember when Tex was hitting in the .220s in June? Now he’s up to .268/.372/.514 with 30 dingers and 98 RBIs. That means he’s two RBIs short of his seventh straight 100-RBI season, all of which coupled with 30 or more homers.

Little known fact about Tex: He’s also the major league leader in runs scored with 100 on the nose.

Unbelievable. Robinson Cano still is this year’s breakout performer and top MVP candidate for the Yankees, but Teixeira is making quite a run at Cano in the past couple of months.

September 1, 2010

Vazquez back in the rotation, Moseley out

Javier Vazquez’s hard work with Dave Eiland has paid off. Joe Girardi announced before today’s game Vazquez will take Dustin Moseley’s spot in the rotation starting Saturday.

“We might skip someone at some point or we might give a guy a shorter outing at some point,” Girardi said. “This is not permanent. I’m just saying this is what we’re going to do now.”

I have no problem with this move. He earned it with two very strong long relief appearances. Moseley did a decent job filling in for Andy Pettitte and Vazquez, but he wasn’t the long-term (playoff) solution.

Now the question is: Can A.J. Burnett hold his spot in the rotation?

Yankees news: Teixeira’s hot, Lilly, September call-ups

A few Yankees stories broke last night. Let’s jump right in:

  • Mark Teixeira cranked his 30th homer last night, a three-run bomb to right, to lead the Yankees to a 9-3 win and sole possession of first place. Tex is five for his last six with two homers, four RBIs and five runs scored.
  • The Yankees won the claim on Ted Lilly last night, the final time for waiver trades to be completed, but the Dodgers pulled him back. This makes you wonder how confident Brian Cashman is in the staff. If I’m in his position, I’m looking to nab Lilly too. A.J. Burnett surely is feeling the pressure.
  • Via The Journal News, the first three Yankees’ September call-ups are Greg Golson, Chad Moeller and Jonathan Albaladejo (unofficially).

And for your entertainment, go ahead and click through to the seventh slide in this top 30 nicknames in MLB history slideshow (h/t Hot Clicks).

John Blanchard Featured Card of the Week

This week’s featured card of the week may bring back memories of Bill Mazeroski or the 1961 World Series. John Blanchard called the pitch Mazeroski hit his 1960 World Series-winning homer on, but he “made up for it” next year with two homers and a .400 average in a World Series victory over the Reds.

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