New York Yankees: James Paxton injury update

New York Yankees, James Paxton

It was announced in early February that New York Yankees’ left-handed pitcher James Paxton would be receiving surgery on his back that had come from a prolonged injury. Since that announcement, Paxton has been recovering very well and has been working on a throwing program.

Before the sports shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Paxton was supposed to miss three to four months of the regular season with an estimated return during mid-May. His recovery has been going well and because of a possible delayed start to the season, Paxton could be ready when that happens.

Paxton has been throwing on a consistent basis at home in Wisconsin and is being monitored weekly as he does so. “He’s able to work out up there,” manager Aaron Boone said. Even though he is doing well during this time and has been progressing with his throwing, Paxton will still need a full “spring-training” if games begin.

Despite the obvious reasons to be negative during these times, it’s important to note that a delayed start to the season could greatly benefit the New York Yankees. Other big players such as Aaron Judge (Ribs), Aaron Hicks (Elbow), and Giancarlo Stanton have also been dealing with their own injuries and they could fully recover by the time the season starts.

Paxton was a big part of the Yankees’ success last season. He finished the year with a 15-6 record while credited to a 3.82 ERA. Due to his dominance shown in the second half of the season, Paxton was given Game One for the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins in which he won the decision.

New York Yankees: A history of outstanding pitchers, find out the ten best

The New York Yankees in their storied 117-year history have had some of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  Some hurlers were one game wonders like Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956.  Other perfect game winners were David Wells (1998) and David Cone (1999).  One of the more unusual pitchers was Jim Abbot, who had only one hand and pitched a no-hitter in 1993.

Many New York Yankees have been impactful in bringing the Yankees to one of their 27 World Championships. Some were career Yankees, while others joined the team from other baseball clubs.  The following is this writer’s top ten Yankee pitchers.  The list includes both starters and relievers.

 1. Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford is the hands-down number one pitcher for the New York Yankees.  The 10-time All-Star, Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, played all of his 16 years with the Yankees.  From 1950 to 1967, he had ten seasons with 16 or more wins, including a 24 and 25 game winning season.  He was so good that the Yankees named him “The Chairman of the Board.”  Ford was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

2. Mariano Riveria

Mariano Riveria is probably the greatest closer of all time.  When Mariano Rivera entered a game to the sound of the Sandman, Yankee fans knew the game was over.  Of course, he didn’t save every game but has the most saves of any pitcher (652) not only for the Yankees, but that’s for all of baseball history.  Rivera is the only player ever to be elected to the Baseball Hall of fame in 2019 by a unanimous vote.

3. Red Ruffing

In the first fifty years of the New York Yankee’s, there was no pitcher better than Red Ruffing. Ruffing led the Yankees to six World Series win from 1931-1946. Ruffing is second all-time in wins at 231, third in starts, fifth in appearances and second in innings pitched.  Ruffing was installed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.  His number 15 one of three numbers he wore during his Yankee career was retired in 2001.

4.  Andy Pettitte

In the modern baseball era, there was no pitcher better than the New York Yankees Andy Pettitte in postseason play.  He became of the most beloved Yankee pitchers when he beat the Braves ace John Smoltz in a 1-0 win the got the Yankees their first World Series win in 17 years.  In his career, he won 18 postseason games.  In 2009 the last time the Yankees won a World Series, he won all four of his postseason games.  Pettitte is one of the most popular of Yankee hurlers have won 203 games.  That’s a feat no other pitcher has matched since.

5. Ron Guidry

Rod Guidry was that tall skinny guy from Louisiana.  “Louisiana Lightning” pitched for the New York Yankees all 14 years of his pitching career 1975-1988.  He had three 21 plus winning seasons.  He once to the delight of Yankee fans struck out 18 hitters in one game an all-time Yankee record. He is a Cy Young Award winner with a 170-90 career record. His career 3.29 ERA is one of the best in Yankee history.

6. Mel Stottlemyre

Mel Stottlemyre is one of the most overlooked Yankee greats.  Stottlemyre had the unfortunate luck to have a career during some of the Yankee worst years, which is probably overlooked.  He had a stellar pitching career with a 164-139 record and an ERA of 2.97 over eleven years from 1964 to 1974.  But where he does get much-deserved acclaim is as the Yankee pitching coach from 1996 to 2005 when he brought the Yankee pitching staff to four World Series wins.

7. Lefty Gomez

Lefty Gomez was a Yankee pitcher from 1930-1942.  Gomez has a fantastic record of 189-102.  He brought the Yankees to five World Series titles in the time Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and others took the limelight.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. Rich Gossage

Rich “Goose” Gossage is often credited as being one of the first pitching relievers in baseball.  Gossage was frightening figure on the mound with his fierce look and eclectic pitches.  He saved 151 games for the Yankees in his remarkable 22 years career, six of them with the Yankees 1978-1983.  That’s an average of 25 saves a year.  Gossage was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

9. Vick Raschi

Vick Raschi, while being overshadowed by Micky Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and others, turned out to be one of the best Yankee pitchers.  He went 120-50.  From 1946 to 1953, he never had a losing season.  He had five World Season Championships.  Raschi is one Yankee that is not in the Hall of Fame but should be.

10. Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens may be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but will probably never reach the Hall of Fame because of his performance-enhancing drug involvement.  Clemens was with the New York Yankees for five years from 1999.  While with the Yankees, he won twice as many games as he lost going 83-42.  Clemens pitched an incredible 24 years.

Honorable Mentions:

Dave Righetti (1979-1990) 224 saves, Alli Reynolds (1949-1953) six World Series titles, Sparky Lyle (1972-1978) as a reliever 57-40, CC Sabathia (2009-2019) 134-88, Mike Mussina 123-72, and Aroldis Chapman 13-5 with 190 saves in four years (2016-2019).

Because of the number of outstanding Yankee pitchers over the years, it causes Yankee greats like David Cone, David Wells, Fritz Patterson, Jack Chesbro, Spud Chandler, Mike Stanton, Orlando Hernandez and dozens of others to be left off this list.  Ten years from now, will we see Gerrit Cole on the list?

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

New York Yankees: What pitching coach Matt Blake is doing to keep pitchers sharp

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

The coronavirus has shut down all of baseball. The New York Yankees‘ pitching coach is trying to ease the situation by keeping his pitchers sharp for the eventual start of a baseball season if there is one.  Matt Blake, from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, is working with Yankee pitchers who are now scattered all over the United States.

Blake was hired during the offseason from the Indians organization to replace longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He is trying to keep pitchers stretched out and tossing the ball, so they don’t lose what they gained from the shortened spring training season in Tampa.

“You are kind of guessing more than anything,” new pitching coach Mike Blake said Wednesday in a media conference call. “I think you’re kind of idling them as much as possible and trying to find out a good rhythm for all of them, given their circumstances.”

He stated that with a starting date for baseball completely unknown, he is leaving alone the veteran pitches like Tanaka, Happ, and Cole, as they know how to stay pitching ready.  He is in constant contact with New York Yankees James Paxton as he rehabs from his back surgery.  Paxton is doing well and will be ready sooner than it was anticipated.  He made it known he is spending most of his time on newer pitchers like Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, and others, guiding them on ways to stay ready.

“I don’t think you need to be on a mound right now. Just given that we don’t really know a timeline, there’s a lot of other ways that we can keep them moving and putting healthy stress on (the pitching arm).“I do think there are some guys who benefit from being on a slope and keeping their delivery in rhythm, even if it’s on a lower volume of throws and just kind of ramping the intensity up a little bit on the slope to kind of keep the sequence and the delivery together. We talked about kind of keeping guys in some up-downs around 45-50 pitches from crowdsourcing with other pitching coaches around the league and some other guys that have a good feel for just what their body needs.

Veteran ace Gerrit Cole isn’t pitching from the mound, but he is getting his pitches in on the flat ground.  Cole is at his home in Greenwich, CT, where he recently bought a home on a large tract of land.  He has ample pitching room marked off to the usual 60′ distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate.  He is lucky being able to pitch to neighbor New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.  But his ace in the hole is his wife Amy.  They regularly play catch on the property.  Amy is an athlete in her own right and has a rocket of an arm.

Some pitchers benefit from pitching off a slope:

“We’re trying to get guys to get on the slope for one high-intensity session a week or one long-toss session at high intensity just to kind of make sure they’re pushing their motor up a little bit. And then the rest of the week, just kind of moving the ball around a little bit, whether it’s some moderate long toss or some flat ground (throwing), things of that nature.”

Blake has said previously that he feels the New York Yankees pitching staff will be ready no matter how the baseball season takes shape.  He was impressed with how the shortened spring training went for his pitchers.  Yankee pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is keeping sharp near his home in Japan until a mini-spring training date is announced.  He feels that the bullpen pitchers can keep themselves in shape and will be ready as well.

“We obviously know that our depth will be tested as with most teams,” Blake said. “But I think with the way that spring training was run and having a good look at the bulk of our pitchers both major and minor and some of the non-roster guys, we know we’ve got a nice roster of pitchers that will contribute here.”

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Matt Blake, Will there be baseball, Challenges yet to come and more

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

Matt Blake’s new job not what he thought it would be:

New York Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake is in the second week of his new career getting ready for the home opener at Yankee Stadium, or that is supposed to be the scenario in a season that has gone south and quickly.  Instead, Matt Blake is at his home in Cleveland twiddling his thumbs.

The coronavirus has shut down all baseball operations for the New York Yankee and all of MLB.  Blake was hired in the offseason replacing longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild was fired.  Blake was previously with the Cleveland Indians as a pitching coordinator.  During the offseason, he got the news that he was selected as the new pitching coach for the Yankees, a dream job, putting him at the top of his profession.  After a month of getting pitchers ready baseball and his dream came to a screeching halt.

Blake, now at home, is trying to keep pitchers ready remotely.  The situation is hardly acceptable as the halt and restart at some point is likely to cause more pitching injuries than if spring training and the start of the season was seamless.  Here’s what Blake had to say about the situation:

“I think there’s definitely a possibility of it,” he said Wednesday on a conference call. “Just like any [sudden] start and stop throughout the season.”  “We were building and felt like we were in a good rhythm in spring training and guys were performing at a high level and we were coming together and then you hit this hard stop. The momentum you were building kind of lapsed. We are doing our best trying to stay connected. Take it one day at a time. This is bigger than baseball. Hopefully we get back to the point where we are talking about mound visits and things of that nature.’’

Yankee pitchers are now spread around the country, trying to stay in pitching form while staying in contact with Matt Blake.  Acquired during the winter meetings, new New York Yankee pitching ace Gerrit Cole is probably in the best situation to keep in shape.  He is at his new home in Greenwich, CT.  He has a large plot of land and can pitch to his athlete wife Amy.

Will there be a baseball season?

With each passing day, a New York Yankee baseball season seems to be further in jeopardy.  The coronavirus has turned the country and the world upsidedown and, of course, all of MLB, the Olympics, and all of the sports.  The baseball 162 game season was supposed to start a week ago.  With each passing week and the spread of the virus, any baseball season keeps being pushed back.

The season was delayed by two weeks when MLB abruptly ended the postseason and announced the delay.  Since then, ever-increasing CDC restrictions have pushed that date further and further back.  First into May, then June, and now any start of the season is not likely before July 4th.  Just days ago, Toronto home of the Blue Jays had banned any city-led public gatherings to June 30th.   If health officials can not control the spread of the virus, the entire baseball season may, at some point, be canceled.

Challenges yet ahead:

In the best-case scenario, the virus will reach its apex in the next two or three weeks, and MLB can start to make some plans for a shortened season.  Once they know that the CDC will lift public gathering restrictions, MLB will have to decide on the length of a mini-spring training that New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has suggested being three to four weeks.  He cited the need for that to prevent unnecessary injuries once the season starts.  This pushes a start date even further into the summer.

Originally MLB suggested and hoped for a 120 day season once baseball resumed.  With the continuing delay that is starting to look like an 80-100 game season.  The question is if it is shorter than that, will the season be considered legitimate?

If a baseball season resumes that are challenges that must be overcome.  It is expected that the minor league season will eventually start sooner than major league games and, most likely, without fans in the stands.  Whether major league teams can do that is in question.  As it stands now, MLB has said there would be no baseball operations until mid-May.   However, CDC restrictions may keep that from being a reality.

The question of whether MLB games can be played in front of empty stands is still an open one.  Player’s salaries are paid with ticket sales and concessions revenues, without fans there is no revenue.  Further, MLB and MBLPA negotiations are likely.  Playing in empty stadiums, at least at the outset, could provide MLB a way to avoid what could be the embarrassment of small crowds while meeting the obligation to play as many games as feasible.

Many options will have to be decided before the season starts.  One consideration that seems to becoming more necessary is doubleheaders on weekends to get as many games in as possible.  Players indicated that might cause more injuries, to that MLB is looking into having seven-inning doubleheaders to reduce that likelihood.

The biggest challenge ahead for both minor league and major league teams is that there will probably not be an “all clear” bell.  Public gathering restriction will likely be lifted at different times across the country.  The one thing that is for sure is that the coronavirus and the health of the public are bigger than baseball and will end up controlling what MLB does.

The Tampa Bay Yankees:

About a week ago, I suggested that the New York Yankees could become the Tampa Bay Yankees this year in an effort to get a baseball season in if Yankee Stadium becomes unavailable due to the coronavirus and restrictions of public gatherings.  This, of course, could be applied to all of baseball with games played at the Cactus and Grapefuild league locations.

With the aggressive spread of the coronavirus, that suggestion seems more remote as other areas that weren’t infected just a week ago seem to have more significant problems now.  The Miami/Dade and Broward Counties in Florida is quickly becoming a situation that is now prevalent in the NYC area.   Unfortunately, the area around Yankee Stadium has become the epicenter of the virus in the U.S.  The New York Yankees most likely will not be playing regular-season games in Florida.

New York Yankees: MLB makes Yankee Domingo German’s role in a shortened season clear: What you need to know!

New York Yankees, Domingo German

The New York Yankees face many challenges in a shortened season caused by the coronavirus.  Before all of this started, the Yankees knew that Domingo German would not be available for the first 63 games of the season due to an MLB imposed suspension due to breaking the major league domestic violence clause.

Domingo German was involved in an altercation with his wife, where in front of witnesses, he allegedly slapped his wife during a dinner, the actual altercation was not made known publically by MLB, however, upon the start of the investigation German was put on unpaid administrative leave. German up to that point in the 2019 season,  had pitched to an 18-4 record with an ERA of 4.03.  His shortened season most likely caused him to come short of a possible 20 game winning season.

The New York Yankees winning season went on to win 103 games without German and onto a postseason where they came one game short of reaching a World Series contest.  Even though a police report was never filed, MLB found the accusations to be credible.  Commissioner Rob Manfred, then after a lengthy investigation, issued an 81-game suspension, which is reportedly is one of the most severe punishments issued by MLB.

With a shortened 2020 baseball season many New York Yankee fans are wondering if it will lessen German’s suspension.  The answer is no it won’t.  When the season finally starts he will begin the remaining 63 game suspension that is presently left on his imposed suspension.  Considering a regular MLB season will most likely be between 90 and 100 games, German will likely not have much of an impact on the Yankee season, however he will be available if the Yankees get to the postseason, which is expected.

With his limited impact on the season, he will be allowed a mini-spring training-like work out to get in shape for what season he has, and that will not be counted against his suspended games.  Upon issuing the punishment Manfred said:

“Having reviewed all of the available evidence,” commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday, “I have concluded that Mr. German violated our Policy and that discipline is appropriate.”

According to the MLB, German did not appeal the punishment … and had agreed to make a contribution to “Sanctuary for Families” — a New York-area charity helping victims of domestic violence — in addition to serving the ban.

As it appears now German will be available to the New York Yankees sometime in August or early September according to how long the season is delayed.  MLB also made it clear that if the season was canceled that German’s suspension would not carry over to the 2021 season, making him available to start for the Yankees at the beginning of that season.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankee Legends: Andy Pettitte, In the postseason the best ever!

Andy Pettitte the best Yankee postseason pitcher

One of the most popular New YorkYankee players was Andy Pettitte. Andy pitched nine successful years with the Yankees before leaving at the end of his contract to pitch for the Houston Astros in 2004 so that he could be closer to his young children at the time. In his three times with the Yankees he was one of our most successful pitchers, but his claim to fame was his postseason play. He was 18-10 for the Yankees. In 2009, the last time we won a World Series, Pettite won his game in the ALDS against Twins, won his game in the ALCS against the Angels and won both of his games in the World Series against the National League Phillies.

The early years

The Italian and Cajun Pettitte was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas when in the 3rd grade. In Deer Park, as a teen, he played for his high school where he pitched. The multi-talented Andy also played football while there. In 1990 he was selected by the Yankees in the draft at that age of 18, but decided to play college ball. In 1991 he did sign with the Yankees and the rest is history.

Andy in the minor leagues

From 1991 to 1994, the young Andy played for the New York Yankees in the minor leagues. Andy threw a knuckleball, but when he teamed up with Jorge Posada, in the New York Penn League, Posada couldn’t catch the ball so Andy stopped throwing it. In 1992 Andy and Jorge would first meet up with fellow player Derek Jeter. That year Pettitte would go 10-4 with a 2.20 ERA playing for the Greensboro Hornets. In 1993 he pitched for the Carolina League to a record of 11-9. In 1994 he pitched for the triple-A Columbus Clippers, he went 7-2 with an ERA of 2.98 and was named the minor league pitcher of the year.

Pettitte makes his major league debut

During spring training in 1995, Andy competed with Sterling Hitchcock for a place in the starting rotation, but failed and found himself in the bullpen to start the year. He made his major league debut in April but two weeks later was sent back down to the minors so he could continue starting games. That was short-lived because of injuries at the Stadium, he was called up just ten days later as a starter. He recorded his first win on June 7th. He performed well enough that the Yankee kept him as a starter. In that year he won seven of his last eight games of the season going 12-7 on the season.

At the beginning of the 1996 season, Pettitte really showed his worth going 13-4 before the All-Star break. He was named to the All-Star team but did not play. He finished the season winning 21 games for the best in league record. In the ALCS, Andy would win both of his games against the Orioles. In the World Series that year, he would lose the first game against the Braves but would win game 5 against John Smoltz, and the Yanks would go on to win the World Series their first time in eighteen years.

Andy the pick off artist

Andy looking beneath the brim of his cap, was a pickoff artist. In 1997 he led the league in pickoffs with 14 and induced 36 double plays. The Yankees were defeated by the Indians in the ALCS, and their hope for back to back World Series wins. In 1998 the Yankees would go on to win the World Series again when Andy started in Game Four, defeating Kevin Brown of the Padres in the deciding game of the series. The Yankees again won the World Series in 1999 and three-peated in 2000 when Pettitte went 19-9 with three complete games. It would be the last World Series win during Pettitte’s first stint with the Yankees.

Andy leaves us for the Astros

At the end of the 2003 season, Pettitte cited that he wanted to spend more time at home with his young children before they grew older. He signed a 3-year contract with the Houston Astros. While with the Astros, Andy would help the Astros get to their first-ever World Series in their history. Back then, the Astros were in the National League, they faced the Chicago White Sox in the series but were swept in four games.

Andy makes his Yankee return

After the 2006 season, Andy again signed with the Yankees after refusing the Astros offer. In the season he started the most games in baseball with 34 starts and a record of 15-9. 2008 was the first year in Andy’s career that he didn’t have a winning season going only 14-14.

In 2009 Andy and CC Sabathia led the Yankees to it’s first World Series since 2000. Andy was 14-8 that year, and in the postseason he became the winningest pitcher in postseason history when he won all four of his postseason starts. He won game 3 of the World Series, and on four days rest won the deciding game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He drove in his first postseason home run in game 3 at Philadelphia. In 2010 Andy’s record was 11-3, and he reached his lowest ERA since 2005. But at the end of the season, he decided to retire.

Pettitte returns yet again

In 2012 The New York Yankees begged Andy to return to the fold and pitch yet again for the Yankees. He agreed, which was probably a mistake on his part. His pitching was not stellar going 5-4 in 2012 and 11-11 in 2013, showing Andy’s decision to retire in 2010 to be the right decision for him. Andy Pettitte will go down in Yankee history as the winning-est postseason pitcher of the modern era. Andy, with his number 47 already retired, will always be a favorite player for the Yankees, as shown by the huge ovation he got when he returned for his first Old Timer’s Day in 2018.

Andy apologizes to his fans

On Monday, February 18, 2008, the New York Yankees and pitcher Andy Pettitte held a press conference regarding Pettitte’s given testimony on the topics of performance-enhancing drug use, Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and his use of human growth hormone.  With Yankee brass and other players in attendance, Pettitte apologized for his use of an H.G.H.

He asked for the fans’ forgiveness, the Yankee fans as well as the Astros fans.

“I know in my heart why I did things. I know that God knows that. I know that I’m going to have to stand before him one day. The truth hurts sometimes and you don’t want to share it. The truth will set you free. I’m going to be able to sleep a lot better.”

He also apologized to his fellow New York Yankee players, family, his father, and especially to young children that may have looked up to him as a role model.

Andy’s awards and his life today

The one thing missing in Andy’s career is the Cy Young award although he came close several times. Andy does have many other awards including the Warren Spahn Award and an MVP award. Although Andy is no longer a New York Yankee he remains involved in the game both as a coach and is a special advisor to General Manager Brian Cashman working in the front office.

As a baseball dad, in 2018, he became a pitching coach for the high school team whose head coach is former Astros teammate Lance Berkman. Andy’s sons Jared and Josh are both pitchers too: Jared for the University of Houston and Josh at Rice University. Andy is no stranger as he shows up at Yankee Stadium for most celebrations. Andy lives in Texas with his wife Laura and there four children. Thank you, Andy, you’re the best.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research

On this day in New York Yankees history, two players went down the tube

New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild

When someone flops in a New York Yankees, oh mein GOT, (That’s German for OH MY GOD!) it is a spectacular flop. While it may be meant to bring light to the suffering and misfortune of one former Yankee, this decision ultimately lead to the downward spiral of two once-promising careers. Not just as Yankees, but promising careers as major league pitchers that went kersplat.

Ten Years Ago, Phil Hughes Replaced Joba Chamberlain in the Rotation

God do I feel old.

Ten years ago today, while I was halfway through the spring semester of my junior year at college, the Yankees sent Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen in favor of Phil Hughes. Hughes, who was valuable as hell during their run to the championship a year ago, was ELECTRIC out of the pen since 2007. Joba, meanwhile, had one of his most lackluster seasons at that point in 2009, going 9-6 in 31 starts, with an ERA well above 4.

Hughes would have an All-Star season in 2010, going 18-8, with 146 K’s in 176.1 innings pitched, to an ERA of 4.19 (not great, but very few have the ability to maintain excellence throughout the entirety of a season. Look at Severino’s 2017 and 2018). Joba would pitch his final full season before needing Tommy John surgery. After that, he was never the same pitcher. Even with the Tigers, Royals, and Indians

What I firmly believe screwed up Phil Hughes was the Yankees insisting on following “the Joba Rules” to try and preserve Hughes as much as possible. The point remains, you don’t shut down someone with double-digit wins on the season because you’re “worried about his arm” or any poor excuse. Hughes, when it was announced his season would end early in 2010 (his only All-Star season) was never the same again. He was inconsistent at best the remainder of his time in New York.

So, 10 years ago today, the Yankees may have had an unspeakable negative impact on not just one, but two promising major league pitchers.

New York Yankee Legends: Louisiana Lightning, Ron Guidry

New York Yankees

Ron Guidry, the early years

The New York Yankee Ron Guidry was born in Lafayette Louisiana on August 28, 1950, Ronald Ames Guidry spent his entire fourteen-year pitching career with the New York Yankees. This short for a pitcher, “this skinny kid was the fiercest competitor I have ever played with. He has more heart and more determination than anyone I have ever known,”  was said by former teammate Willie Randolph.

Guidry’s family is Cajun through and through. Ron Guidry grew up hunting and fishing on the bayous, as well as speaking Cajun French. One day, at the age of eight Ron told his mother that he was going to visit his grandmother, but instead took a detour by a park where some boys were playing baseball. When a ball got away and rolled towards Guidry, he threw it back with such velocity, that a man who was watching ran over to Guidry. The man was a coach of a Little League team and happened to be a friend of Roland Guidry Ron’s Father. Ron did not need too much convincing and joined his first organized baseball team at eight years of age. Like many players who showed plenty of ability, Guidry excelled and then graduated to American Legion baseball.

Guidry shows great promise as a pitcher

In high school, Guidry would excel in two sports, baseball and track and field. He showed great promise as a pitcher but it was sprinting that Ron was most noticed for. He was awarded scholarships for track, he choose a baseball scholarship close to home at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. In his freshman year, he posted a 5-1 record with a 1.57 ERA. The next season he was 7-4, striking out 87 batters in 80 innings. Already he was recorded as throwing up to 95 miles per hour.

Upon the advice of a Yankee scout, the Yankees selected Guidry in the 1971 draft. Guidry began his professional career in 1971 with the Johnson City Yankees. He was able to blow his blazing fastball by most hitters in the low minors. Although he struck out many batters, he also walked quite a few. Guidry enlisted into the National Guard in 1971 and was active through 1977. On September 23, 1972, he married the former Bonnie Rutledge. They had three children: daughters Jamie and Danielle and son Brandon.

After Guidry was with the Yankees for four years, he hadn’t made a name for himself. He struck out a lot of batters, but he also walked a lot of them. In 1974 he was transferred to the West Haven Connecticut Yankees and made a reliever. This was a big mistake because the results were horrible. He went 2-4 with an ERA close to 6. In 1974 he was sent to Syracuse, where he was surrounded by good pitchers for the first time. Pitchers like Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, and Jim Beatie who all showed him the ropes. The club manager at the time was Bobby Cox, who Guidry greatly admired. He would make Guidry his closer, and Guidry racked up 14 saves in that role to go with a 6-5 record and a 2.90 ERA in 42 games.

Guidry makes his major league debut

He then earned a ticket to the Queens Shea Stadium as Yankee Stadium was being renovated. Guidry made his major league debut on July 27, 1975, in the second game of a doubleheader against Boston.  While there he met up with teammates Sparky Lyle, and Dick Tidrow. Tidrow gave Ron his nickname “Gator”. Sparky Lyle gave him something else, his slider pitch, and Ron became a two-pitch pitcher combined with his high-velocity fastball. Soon after, when the Yankees acquired Doc Ellis, Guidry was sent back to Syracuse, where he pitched very well. In 11 games, he posted a 3-1 record with a 1.37 ERA, fanning 25 batters in 20 innings.

The Yankees traded away a pitcher and Guidry would be called back up to replace him. New manager Billy Martin put him in a game on his first day back. just off the bus. Guidry would later say Billy Martin didn’t like me and was setting me up for failure. It worked, I got one out and gave up four runs. Both Martin and Steinbrenner wanted more experienced pitchers, so Ron sat in the bullpen for 47 games. At one point, George Steinbrenner, the “boss” would tell him you will never make a pitcher in the majors.

In 1977 both the “boss” and manager Billy Martin wanted to trade Guidry to the White Sox, but President Gabe Paul would have no part of it. 1977 also saw new players Reggie Jackson and Don Gullet. In 25 starts and six relief appearances, Guidry posted a 16-7 record with a 2.82 ERA. He threw a two-hitter against Texas on August 28. All the sudden Billy Martin liked Guidry and took credit for his new fame. The Yankees went 100-62 and won the east over the Baltimore Orioles. In the ALCS, Guidry pitched a complete-game win over the Kansas City Royals, but he was knocked out in game 5. In the 77 World Series, he got only one start and he won a complete game for the Yankees.

Guidry attains the best Yankee pitching record ever

In 1978 it would be Guidry’s best year, he would win 25 games while losing only three, the last Yankee pitcher to have a record that good to date. In 1978, the east title would come down to a playoff game for the title. In a now-famous conversation, Ron meets George Steinbrenner in the parking lot and noticed he looked dejected. Ron asked why, and George said because we have to go up there to Fenway and play those sons of bitches. Ron answered, “don’t worry boss. I’ll win it for us”. And indeed he did, he pitched 6 1/3 innings for the win of the division. Guidry would pitch one game against the Royals in the ALCS, and one in the World Series against the Dodgers, he would win won both games. The Yankees would win the World Series for the last time in the next eighteen years.

Guidry would go on to have seven more winning seasons for the Yankees. In 1986 he had his first losing season going 9-12, but still having an ERA below 4. As all fastball pitchers do when they age, they lose velocity and it was no different for Ron. He became more of a pitcher and less of a thrower. 1986-88 also saw a reduced number of starts as well. Guidry reported to spring training in 1989 but clashed with new manager Dallas Green. The Yankees sent him down to Columbus of the AAA International League. He posted a 1-5 record and made the decision to move on from baseball, and get on with the rest of his life. Guidry was 170-91 with a 3.29 ERA in his New York Yankee career.

Yankee’s number 49 shirt retired, and Guidry honored.

On August 23, 2003, Guidry’s number 49 was retired by the Yankees. He was the 16th player to be so honored. In addition, he was presented with a plaque that would be placed in Monument Park of Yankee Stadium. When he was asked to speak at the ceremony, he said:

“I have but one regret in baseball, and that is that I never got to say goodbye to you wonderful fans, and how much I appreciated you. When you would stand and clap on my second strike, I would hear you.”

In his career, Ron Guidry won five Gold Glove Awards, the Roberto Clemente Award, Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award, Sporting News Major League Player of the Year Award, Baseball Digest and Associated Press Player of the Year Awards, and in 1978 the Cy Young Award.  Ron never achieved entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, to date, as many voters thought his career was too short, although he was one of the greatest pitchers of the late ’70s and ’80s.

The Blessing and Curse For the Yankees and COVID-19

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Fans and members of the New York Yankees can talk all about one thing these days. COVID-19, aka the coronavirus. There are some good things to happen to the Yankees, and some bad things to happen to the Yankees, as more information comes out about the disease itself, as well as the future of the 2020 regular season.

Let’s start with the Bad

Denny Larrondo was the first major league baseball player to test positive for the novel coronavirus. As I’ve pointed out, the virus spreads faster than any of the other past diseases we’ve had to deal with in the past 20 years, making it possible that one regular-season home game for the Yankees could result in 30,000 people getting infected. But, as our own Alexander Wilson reported, a second minor leaguer tested positive with the coronavirus.

Furthermore, the baseball season won’t begin until (hopefully) sometime in May. If the season were to begin in May, and the full 162 game season be played, realistically the offseason would consist of one month before Spring Training resumes in February 2021.

What makes things even worse for all of baseball amid the uncertainty of players receiving compensation during the coronavirus lockout, is that the current baseball CBA doesn’t expire until December 2021. We’re applauding basketball teams, and players like Zion Williamson, who are paying the hourly employees at these stadiums their wages during this social distancing period. But things are much more uncertain in baseball, with the Mets setting the bar early. If baseball screws the pooch on the Astros cheating scandal, AND properly compensating their players during this confusing time for everyone, we may see another strike in 2022.

But There is Still Some Good… Even if Minimal

The impact of Luis Severino’s absence in our starting rotation will be greatly reduced. I stand firm that MLB has no other choice but to shorten the season as they did in 1995. With a shortened season, that’s less time to scramble and find an adequate replacement for Severino, who won’t be back in action until sometime in 2021.

Which will also mean more reinforcements arrive sooner, rather than later. Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t expected to make Opening Day due to his calf strain. Now, he’ll be fully recovered and ready to hit the ground running. James Paxton may have an opportunity to play a couple of the make up Spring Training games baseball is expected to put on, as a tune-up for all of the players to be ready for the 2020 season once we have a better handle on the current coronavirus situation. Gary Sanchez suffered ANOTHER injury setback, on top of a coronavirus scare of his own. This extra time away will give him the opportunity to recuperate, recover, and give us the closest thing to a full season of Gary Sanchez.

Then there’s Aaron Judge. His worst-case scenario was always going to be his rib being surgically removed. Now, he’s got an extra month to do everything under his power to rest and repair that fractured rib (Mayor DeBlasio is talking following San Fransisco’s approach to containing the spread of coronavirus. If that means he doesn’t go to the gym to keep aggravating that rib, GOOD!).

And the best possible news is that while it’s unfortunate that Yankee minor leaguers are testing positive for the coronavirus, the 40 man roster seems spared of contracting the disease. I wish the speediest and most complete recovery to the minor league Yankees who have contracted the disease, but with all the injury problems the 40 man has sustained on the Yankees since 2019, the 40 man roster needed this win.

All of us at EmpireSportsMedia.com will continue to give you updates as coronavirus effects our daily lives, and our sports teams. Stay safe, and stay healthy everyone.

New York Yankees Opening Day Predictions: Pitching

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

As we inch our way closer and closer to the start of the regular season, speculations abound about who will cut the New York Yankees. With Severino, Paxton, and German all-seeing delays to their seasons (in Severino’s case, completely losing 2020), it’ll be interesting to see just how the team constructs their rotation between now and the end of German’s suspension.

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Don’t Go the Opener Route

The Yankees have been out in the open over their embrace of analytics. Which is why it was so confusing to see the Yankees (or any team) go the route of the opener. The opener runs completely against the notion of analytics in any professional sport. Throughout a 162 game season, you’re going to rest a reliever for throwing an inning of work on three consecutive nights. If this happens the night before an opener appearance, you set yourself back for the opener, as opener starts are all hands on deck, ever 4th or 5th day in 162 games. Their bullpen has been overused in 3 consecutive seasons, giving out during the playoffs when we need them the most. Treat the pen like a bullpen, and we’ll get back to the fall classic.

The Gimmies

Gerrit Cole is starting for the Yankees. He’s the best starting pitcher in baseball, and look at all the money the Yankees gave him?! Barring the start against the Tigers, he’s having an excellent Spring Training.

Masahiro Tanaka is also a gimme. The 7-year veteran loses his effectiveness around the All-Star break, and with the lack of depth in our rotation from last year makes the final year of his deal a necessity that he started.

JA Happ is having an excellent spring. So much so that people are forgetting entirely about how lackluster he was last season. If he can carry this into the regular season till, about, June, that’s all we need from him.

Jordan Montgomery is performing beyond expectations. I was surprised to see how much the Yankees are letting Monty cut loose, but it’s necessary for not only his development but the security of the rotation depends on it.

Can Garcia Make the Jump?

Deivi Garcia was spared the first round of cuts, putting him squarely in the fight between him, Loaisiga, and Cessa for the 5th spot in the rotation. Garcia ended 2019 in Scranton, but can he impress enough in the last few starts of the spring to leapfrog staples in the pen-like Loaisiga and Cessa? Or will this be Luis Cessa’s opportunity to show what he truly has as a starter? I think it will ultimately boil down to those two.

Let’s see what happens in the next 2.5 weeks.