Results tagged ‘ John Wetteland ’

Matsui, Cone put on show at Old Timer’s Day

At the annual Yankees Homecoming Dinner this April in which Hideki Matsui was honored for his career he told a story about when he was playing in Japan and was asked if he thought he could compete in the United States.

He told a reporter that he had seen a game in which David Cone was pitching and said, “I can hit that.”

Cone and Matsui have been teasing each other over that for years. So it was inevitable that there would be a confrontation between them. What better environment than Old Timer’s Day, the 70th version of which was celebrated Sunday?

Cone came into the game specifically to pitch to Matsui. The first pitch was over the Japanese slugger’s head. The next delivery was what has become an annual grooved special by Cone in Old Timer’s Day games, right down Broadway, and Matsui jumped all over it and drove it into the second deck in right field.

Cone feigned surprise and embarrassment. Truth be told, it is all an act. Cone knows what the fans want to see on Old Timer’s Day, and that is not a pitcher burning it in to every batter and striking everybody out. I once asked the Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson why he seldom took part in Old Timer’s games, and he told me that all they want is for the pitcher to put the ball over the plate so the hitters can mash it. Gibby was too competitive to play that kind of game.

Coney is a different cat. He knows Old Timer’s games are entertainment, and he aims to please. A few years ago, he grooved a pitch to former teammate Tino Martinez, who went yard. Paul O’Neill also clipped Cone. Sunday was just Matsui’s turn.

Scoring ahead of Matsui on his homer was Reggie Jackson, who had lined a single to left field in the prior at-bat off Scott Kamieniecki. I talked with Reggie Saturday after he spent about half an hour taking batting practice in the indoor cage at Yankee Stadium.

“I don’t want to strike out tomorrow,” he said, laughing.

Gene Michael is the manager for both teams, the Clippers and the Bombers. “That way, I can’t lose,” Stick said.

He had the lineup cards for both teams taped onto the front of his uniform. Roy White saw that he was batting sixth in the Clippers’ lineup and asked Stick how come Lee Mazzilli was batting second in the Bombers’ lineup.

“That’s the Triple-A squad; do you want to play for them,” Michael said.

Next came Mazzilli’s voice from across the room, “Hey, Stick, we can hear every word you are staying.”

The camaraderie among the former players is the best part of Old Timer’s Day. Bernie Williams and John Wetteland and Mariano Duncan and Charlie Hayes exchanged stories about the 1996 team that won the Yankees’ first World Series title in 15 years. Hayes still refers to the area near the third base box seats where he caught the final out against the Braves as “the holy ground.”

Williams was still beaming over graduating from Manhattan College of Music. “I completed the four years in three,” said Bernie, who is having a second career as a guitarist. “It was quite an experience. I thought I knew a lot about music until I realized that I didn’t.”

In addition to “Mr. October,” other Hall of Famers on hand were Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson, Goose Gossage and Joe Torre. Eddie Robinson, at 95 the oldest living former Yankees player, and 1956 World Series perfect game author Don Larsen, 86, were also in attendance.

Sadly missing was the catcher who leaped into Larsen’s arms at the end of that game. Yogi Berra was a rookie in 1947 when the Yankees honored Babe Ruth to begin the Old Timer’s Day tradition and was a staple of the event over the years. He was there in spirit, however, as the Yankees used jeweled bases commemorating his legacy during the game.

70th Yankees Old-Timers’ Day coming June 12

Five Hall of Famers will be among more than 40 former Yankees scheduled to attend the 70th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 12, at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. for the festivities with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow. All pregame celebrations will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Tigers at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 10 a.m.

The Old-Timers are headlined by Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also be part of the pregame with program.

Three-time All-Star closer John Wetteland, who won the 1996 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with saves in all four of their victories toward their 23rd World Series title, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut, alongside 1996 teammate Mariano Duncan, as well as Bubba Crosby and the oldest living former Yankees player, Eddie Robinson, 95.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the field will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

A complete list of Old Timers’ Day attendees:

Jesse Barfield, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, David Cone, Bubba Crosby, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Arlene Howard (widow), Helen Hunter (widow), Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin (widow), Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Gene Monahan (Trainer), Diana Munson (widow), Kay Murcer (widow), Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Eddie Robinson, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Cano knocked out of All-Star Game; Mo honored

How bad has the Yankees’ luck been this year? In terms of health, I mean. The disabled list has been almost as crowded as the dugout. Even in the All-Star Game, the Yankees could not stay healthy.

Robinson Cano, the American League second baseman and one of the few Yankees regulars to stay on the field all season, made an early exit Tuesday night from Citi Field. Cano, the second hitter in the AL order, came up after a leadoff double by the Angels’ Mike Trout and was struck on the side of his right knee by a 96-miles-per-hour fastball from Mets righthander Matt Harvey.

Cano winced in pain and tried to stay in the game. He went to first base but after Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera struck out Cano came off the field and was replaced by pinch runner Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. As Cano walked off the field, he had a friendly exchange with Harvey.

“He said, ‘My bad,’ ” Cano said. “I said, ‘No problem.’ I know he don’t want to hit nobody. It’s part of the game, so what can you do?”

This is just what the Yankees did not need. Managers across baseball watch the All-Star Game with trepidation and hope one of their players does not get hurt. Harvey, the National League starting pitcher who pitched two scoreless innings, said, “I feel bad. I didn’t mean to hit Cano.”

X-rays on Cano’s knee were negative.

“It’s a little tight, but I’m walking good,” Cano said. “You want to play the game and enjoy the nice city in New York with the fans, but that’s part of life. Got to get it better and take it easy. Yeah, I’ll be good for Friday.”

“Obviously, the last thing I wanted to do was go out there and possibly injure somebody,” Harvey said. “As [Cano] was walking by, I was trying to get his attention as he was going to first. He then came off the field, and I apologized and made sure that he was okay. I think he understood that it wasn’t intentional.”

Cano had been enjoying himself at the All-Star Game as opposed to a year ago at Kansas City when he was the target of booing from local fans because as captain of the AL Home Run Derby squad he did not name the Royals’ Billy Butler to the team. Cano got revenge Monday night as a player he promoted for the Home Run Derby team even though he was not on the All-Star squad, Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, won the competition.

Not surprisingly considering the Yankees-Mets rivalry, Cano was booed by most people in the Citi Field crowd in pregame introductions. Conversely, Mariano Rivera was accorded a healthy ovation. In a lot of ways, Mo is his generation’s Yogi Berra, the one Yankee that even fans who hate the Yankees like.

The best was yet to come for Mo. To guarantee that Rivera would pitch in the game, AL manager Jim Leyland of the Tigers put him in the game in the eighth inning. After all, if the NL had gone ahead in the bottom of the eighth and held the lead then there would have been no bottom of the ninth.

Rivera was treated with another standing ovation as he trotted to the mound to his usual entrance song, “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica. When he reached the rubber, Rivera was the only player on the field as the players from both sides stood on the top steps of the dugouts and joined the crowd in showing their appreciation to the game’s all-time saves leader who is calling it a career at the end of this season at the age of 43.

It was quite a sight. Mo acknowledged the applause by removing his cap and waving to each portion of the crowd. Mariano retired the side in order and was given the game ball by first baseman Prince Fielder after the third out of the inning. It was a more pleasant final appearance at Citi Field than the May 28 Subway Series game when he sustained his first blown save of the season in a stunning loss to the Mets.

Mo Mariano Rivera (USA Today photo)

“I wanted to pitch in the game and in baseball anything can happen,” Rivera said of pitching in the eighth instead of the ninth. “The plan worked out perfectly. This was right up there with winning the World Series. To do this in New York with all the fans here and all the players and the coaches and the managers standing in the dugouts. . .that was priceless.”

There turned out to be a bottom of the ninth inning as the AL had a 3-0 lead. Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked the ninth and can always say he earned a save in a game after Mariano Rivera had pitched, which had not happened since 1996 when Mo was the setup man for Yanks closer John Wetteland.

Rivera was voted the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and was able to thank the fans and told them it was a “privilege” to pitch in front of them all these years. Let’s face it, fans, the privilege was ours to watch him.

Yanks catch Rangers short on sluggers

The Yankees are catching a major break this weekend against the Rangers. Texas has played without 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton since April 13 because of a broken right arm. Right fielder Nelson Cruz joined Hamilton on the disabled list Saturday.

The move was made retroactive to May 4, the day after Cruz came out of the lineup due to a stiff right quadriceps. Cruz had been expected to return to duty for the Rangers as early as Saturday night, but an MRI revealed a strain in the muscle, and on to the DL he went. The Yankees do not mind his absence. Cruz beat them up in last year’s AL Championship Series, batting .350 with two home runs and five RBI after putting up three home runs and six RBI against them in eight games during the regular season.

The Elias Sports Bureau pointed out that with his victory Friday night over the Rangers Ivan Nova became only the second Yankees rookie over the past 25 years to get a winning decision while holding an opponent to no runs and two hits pitching more than seven innings in a road start. Got any idea who the other guy was?

Try Mariano Rivera, who held the White Sox scoreless with two hits through eight innings July 4, 1995 in a 4-1 Yankees victory at Chicago. The White Sox’ run in that game was scored off John Wetteland in the ninth. That was one of 10 starts that year for Rivera, who moved into the bullpen full-time in mid-September and hasn’t looked back since.

Mo’s 12th save Friday night, which leads the AL, came in the Yankees’ 30th game, equaling the earliest in a season that he reached the dozen mark, which he also did in 2000 when he finished with 36.