Game 112: DET vs. NYY — 12th inning bummer

The biggest talk at the trade deadline last week was when the Rays traded their ace starter to the Tigers. That ace started against the Yankees tonight in a highly anticipated (read: over-hyped) match-up in the Bronx. Look, the Yankees have faced Price (the new Tigers’ starter) a lot because he played on the Rays, also known as one of their division rivals, also known as a frequent opponent during the season. In fact, Price was the pitcher who gave up Jeter’s 3000th hit 3 years ago. Price is tightly interwoven into the Yankees’ storyline, and the move to the AL Central has to give the Yankees a bit of a sigh of relief as they don’t have to face him that often anymore.

So, the Tigers are in the Bronx tonight for their 2nd of a 4-game mid-week series. And I won’t deny that Price did an excellent job, as usual, against the Yankees with some notable exceptions. He threw 112 pitches into the 9th inning (8.2 innings in his stats), gave up all 8 Yankee hits, all 3 Yankee runs, and no walks, striking out 10 Yankee batters. But Price is a strikeout pitcher, and like a lot of strikeout pitchers, 2 of those runs were home runs to Brian McCann in the 2nd and Martin Prado (his 1st in pinstripes) in the 5th. The other run was in the 3rd, after Ryan doubled to lead off the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury’s double scored Ryan.

On the other side of the field, Hiroki Kuroda got the start for the Yankees. His 91 pitches took him through 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, 3 runs, and no walks, striking out 5 Tigers. The Tigers struck in the 1st, singles putting runners on the corners, when a simple sacrifice fly scored the Tigers’ first run. A solo home run in the 6th brought the score up 3-2, and a 2-out RBI single in the 7th tied up the game 3-3.

And there it sat. Betances threw the 8th and into the 9th, but after accidentally hitting a batter, he was replaced by Kelley who closed out the 9th. A former Yankee now with the Tigers threw against the Yankees in the 9th and 10th innings and got a rousing chorus of boos when he entered the game (he didn’t leave on good terms with the fans) and when he accidentally hit Jeter (just bruised really). Huff got the first 2 outs of the 10th, with Rogers grabbing that last one and the first two of the 11th. New acquisition Rich Hill (see below on trade notes) pitched to one batter putting him on base with a hit-by-pitch (the 3rd hit batter of the game), so it was Matt Daley to close out the 11th and pitched through the 12th.

And it was the 12th that was a problem — a 1-out solo home run pushed the Tigers up 4-3 over the Yankees. The Yankees couldn’t seem to push another run across the plate at the bottom of the 12th, so the Tigers took this game.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of truly outstanding defensive plays the Yankees made tonight — Derek Jeter‘s leaping grab in the 4th, Brendan Ryan‘s successful bobble out in the 5th, Chase Headley‘s nasty grab in the 10th, and Brett Gardner‘s sliding grab in the 12th.

And in those roster moves and trade notes I mentioned previously… the Nationals claimed pitcher Matt Thornton off waiver-claims, so the Yankees signed another lefty pitcher Rich Hill, who has a history with the Cubs, 5 AL teams, and various minor league clubs since his 2005 MLB debut.

Hints of more roster moves and trades to come are everywhere because the Yankees, unlike some other teams, are still in quite the race for October. Of course, it doesn’t help to lose games like today, but it’s still pretty encouraging (at least to me) that they held out so long against what is considered one of the better teams in the AL. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still bummed that they lost (I hate losing), but the idea that it was rather a close call should be enough of an “almost” to challenge the Yankees into an extra competitive boost for the next couple of games. (And I’m sure the teams in the AL Central are hoping the Yankees steal a couple of games from the Tigers too.)

Go Yankees!

Game 98: TEX vs. NYY — A tragedy of errors

Mark Teixeira will be out for a few days, or most of this week, due to a mild strain in his lower left lat (the middle back muscle). Apparently, his back’s been bothering him for about a month, so an MRI revealed an actual strain and forced him to rest it and get some minor treatment. As anyone who’s ever had any back issues knows, especially with lat issues, you kind of just have to rest and not do much of anything, letting it heal on its own until you’re not twinging in pain at the slightest movement. Wishing him well and a quick healing time.

And a quick happy birthday to CC Sabathia today. He’s currently on the DL, preparing for surgery this Wednesday on his knee. We continue wishing him well, but today we add a happy birthday and look forward to seeing him back in action in 2015!

The Texas Rangers are in the Bronx this week for a 4-game mid-week series. And it was Shane Greene’s turn to start, but unlike his last two outings, this didn’t seem to be his night. At all. 113 pitches over 5.2 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts. Actually, it wasn’t really sloppy pitching (until the 6th inning) that was his downfall. Instead, it was his 3 fielding errors — a missed catch and two throwing errors at crucial plays at 1st base in the 2nd and 4th innings.

At first, the Yankees seemed to be in the win column with a 1st inning run scored — Jeter walked, advanced on a balk, advancing again on a single, and then scoring on a Beltran’s sacrifice fly. And then the Yankees struck again in the 4th with Jacoby Ellsbury’s solo home run. While the Rangers were limited to a single run scored in the 3rd. With a runner on 3rd, a Texas batter reached safely at 1st on a force attempt and missed catch error which allowed the runner at 3rd to score.

So the score was nicely at 2-1 Yankees. Until the 6th inning. Greene was still pitching and started struggling after a quick 2 outs. A single, a walk, and an RBI single to tie up the game, forced the Yankees to call to their bullpen for Matt Thornton. Thornton gave up back-t0-back RBI singles that Greene was responsible for and ended up pushing the score to 4-2 Rangers. Warren was brought in to get the Yankees out of that inning.

The fifth error (and no, that’s not a misprint) was committed by the Yankees as a throwing error again to 1st base in the 7th inning. But it was enough to give the talking heads something to chat about incessantly for the entire game. Warren continued to keep the score planted at 4-2 in the 7th, and Huff’s 8th and 9th innings were equally efficient.

But the Yankees weren’t able to cobble together anything more of their offense to get any of their base runners to cross the plate again, so the hope that seemed so clear for the first half of the game seemed to spin away as the Rangers claimed the first game of this series. I can’t say that I would disagree that it was the errors (yes, it’s still 5) that really cost the Yankees the game. Making successful outs and keeping runners off the bases is crucial to keep the opposing team from adding to their score.

It just wasn’t going to be enough to overcome for the Yankees tonight, which is a shame because honestly the Rangers weren’t exactly playing up to par themselves. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out these next three games if this is truly the case. I don’t expect we’ll have a continued pattern of multi-error games. The Yankees do tend to learn from their mistakes in one way or another. And really, shouldn’t we all do that?

And so as a former lit major, I leave you with a quote from a play that seemed to echo in my head during tonight’s game, from an appropriately named play for how the Yankees played as well. “Yet this my comfort: when your words are done, my woes end likewise with the evening sun.” (The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare) Or if you don’t speak English (you know what I mean): “After all, tomorrow is another day.” (from Gone with the Wind, by the way)

Go Yankees!

Game 91: NYY vs. CLE — Splitting the series, bad news, all on a better day

Okay, let me get this out of the way up front because basically from the 6th inning on, it’s all anyone could talk about. Masahiro Tanaka was in Seattle today to be seen by the team doctor who is currently there with other fellow medical staff for a conference. Yankees team doctor Dr. Ahmad and two other colleagues (a noted orthopedist and a fellow team doctor) confirmed to Cashman who confirmed with the world that Tanaka’s elbow pain was due to a very small partial tear of his UCL (the ulnar collateral ligament, which runs through the elbow as part of the joint to connect the lower and upper arm bones).

The UCL may sound familiar because it is the ligament they replace and repair in the infamous Tommy John surgery. However, the doctors stressed that because of the size of the tear the first course of action is platelet-rich plasma injections beginning on Monday to help speed up a natural ligament repair. A small tear usually will heal on its own because the body is kind of amazing at doing stuff like that. Should it not heal, then surgery might be back on the table. But that is really looking like a last resort at this point, which is good news.

And Carlos Beltran was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion from his injury (broken nose from a batting practice ball) yesterday. In his place, the Yankees recalled Yangervis Solarte, who has been absolutely thriving in AAA. (I told you he’d be back.) Beltran will probably be back after the All-Star Break; Tanaka’s return is dependent on how his body reacts to the rehab; and Solarte’s fate is to be decided.

What was decided was that the Indians apparently wanted to make a statement in their final game of this 4-game series in Cleveland. And prior to the game, the Indians gifted Derek Jeter with their contribution to his “I’m not having a farewell tour”. They gave him a custom Gibson guitar (as Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and a picture of him at bat crafted entirely of Legos, designed and made by the Indians’ visiting clubhouse assistant manager. Cleveland will always hold a special place for Jeter as it was where he had his first MLB Opening Day in 1996, and it’s a place he admittedly enjoys playing in.

Okay, so the Yankees looked like they were doing pretty good for a while in tonight’s game. While David Phelps cruised along, keeping the Indians scoreless for 6 innings, the Yankees racked up some offensive force. In the 4th, Cervelli on base with a single, Zelous Wheeler’s big home run scored 2 runs. And in the 5th, Cervelli on base once again with a hit by pitch, advanced to 2nd on Wheeler’s single, and scored on Solarte’s single. 3-0 Yankees going into the 7th inning.

Phelps threw 103 pitches over his 6 full innings and a couple batters in the 7th. He allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks, striking out 5 batters. It was those 2 runners in the 7th that would end up being a problem, and Phelps was responsible for them because he allowed those back-to-back singles. Matt Thornton came on and loaded the bases with a single, and then a triple cleared the bases and tied up the game, effectively blowing Phelps’ win. A sacrifice fly scored that runner from 3rd and put the Indians on top 4-3. And the Yankees called on reliever Jim Miller to get out of the inning.

The Indians came back in the 8th to add to their lead because a single run lead apparently wasn’t going to be enough and giving a messy 8th inning seemed like the right thing to do tonight. (I should note at this point, most of the news and chatter had shifted off the game on the field and onto the worst case scenario with Tanaka.) Miller, still on the mound, was kind of on the receiving end of what would be a terrible inning for the Yankees. He got a quick strike out, but then gave up a double. The next batter hits what is initially was called a double, but on a challenge was overturned and ruled a 2-run home run. A single, an out, a stolen base, an RBI single, and a 2-run home run suddenly put the Indians up and over 9-3.

And they hold on in the top of the 9th to win tonight’s game 9-3, splitting the series with the Yankees 2-2.

Honestly, my mom wanted the Indians to win tonight because it’s her birthday. And she only thinks it’s fair that the Indians win on her birthday because they are the team she grew up rooting for. She’s only a recent convert to being a Yankee fan, but when they play each other she’s back to being a Tribe fan. She doesn’t have as much luck with the Tribe winning on her birthday, (since 2000) only claiming wins in 2003, 2008, and tonight. Also, going back to 2000, they haven’t played 6 years due to the All-Star Break falling in the middle of July (2000, 2002, 2006; the game actually fell on July 10, 2001, 2007, and 2012).

But I guess a win for her birthday by the team she’s been waiting to win the World Series since before she was born (they’ve only won twice 1920 and 1948), watching them get so close (AL Pennants in 1995 and 1997) and yet falling short (to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997). My grandfather used to send my mom newspaper clippings of their team’s weekly progress while she was away at college and into adulthood. When they both got email a few years before he passed away, he would email her all Indians’ news he could find, though I’m sure she could find it herself by then. Baseball was always something special in our family, a connection that isn’t likely to sever any time soon. And every time I talk about the Indians with my mom or my uncle (who’s still a big Tribe fan) or some other family member from that area, it reminds me of that connection. I don’t like it when the Yankees lose, but I don’t mind it when the Indians win. Somehow, I think my grandfather would be celebrating the win of his team, a step closer to that elusive championship — 66 years and counting.

A very happy birthday to my mom, who goes to most games with me because we share the same love for the game, its intricacies, its quirks, its legends, its finest hours, its greatest miscues, and its lasting impact. Of course, it usually ends up being a conversation of me wanting to go to a game and her not wanting to miss an opportunity for an afternoon or evening at a ball park (any ball park). I don’t mind. It’s nice to share baseball with someone who not only gets baseball but loves baseball. And it helps that she’s now a Yankees fan. At least when they’re not playing the Indians, that is. (Mom, this double play made me laugh and think of so many random plays we seem to witness at our games.)

Go Yankees!

 

Game 86: NYY vs. MIN — Pitching duel, walk-off error, extra innings

David Phelps took the start today, and honestly, he was rather outstanding. It’s a shame he ended up with a no-decision because he certainly pitched a better outing than some pitchers who end up with a win. He threw 107 pitches over his 7 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 1 run, and 2 walks, and striking out 3 Twins’ batters. The only run he allowed was a solo home run in the 7th.

On the other side of things, the Yankees weren’t exactly having an easy time with the Twins’ starter, whose stats nearly matched Phelps’. The one time they were able to poke holes in the Twins’ defense was in the 5th inning. With 2 outs and Ichiro Suzuki on 1st, Ichiro stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch before scoring on Francisco Cervelli’s single.

And the game sat tied 1-1 for quite some time.

After Phelps’ start and the game tied up in the 7th, Shawn Kelley took the 8th and 9th, keeping the Twins from pushing ahead. Unfortunately, the Twins’ bullpen seemed to have the same idea, sending the game into extra innings. Matt Thornton took the 10th and came back in 11th where things went belly-up. In the 11th, Thornton quickly loaded the bases with a double, an intentional walk, and a hit by pitch. Then a ground out got the runner out at home, but a throwing error by catcher Cervelli allowed another runner to score and gave the Twins’ their walk-off error.

So the Twins took today’s game 2-1 in the 11th inning.

Before the game, the Twins presented their farewell gifts to Derek Jeter. They gave him the 2nd base bag from the final game at the Twins’ former home known as the Metrodome. (The Twins now play at Target Field.) This gift is significant in Jeter history as it was at the Metrodome just a few feet away that Jeter played the Twins in the 2009 ALDS before going on to win the World Series that year. The Twins also gifted the Turn 2 Foundation with a $10,000 donation.

I’m always pleased to see organizations that send a check along with some memorable gift as part of their honoring of Jeter’s career. Every time I hear of a new large donation, I’m thinking of how many more kids can be helped or go to college now that maybe wouldn’t have the opportunity before. And that’s why it’s always worth it.

Go Yankees!

Game 72: BAL vs. NYY — Walk-off glory

Okay, I certainly didn’t expect that kind of win. I mean, I’m always hoping for a last-minute victory, but that was rather fun to put a great twist on it.

Hiroki Kuroda started tonight’s game against Baltimore ended up pitching a no-decision, thanks to the slow creep of the Yankees offense. Actually, his outing wasn’t terrible. In fact, overall, it was pretty good for Kuroda this year — 107 pitches in 6 innings, allowing just 4 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, striking out 6 Oriole batters. Those runs came late for the Orioles in Kuroda’s last inning, his 6th. A double put a runner on to score on another double, before that runner would score on a single.

Like I said the Yankees offense was slow to start. After a quick 2-out Ellsbury single and RBI double by Mark Teixeira in the 1st, the Yankees clung to their 1-0 lead until that 6th inning of Kuroda’s. So in relief of Kuroda, the Yankees turned to Shawn Kelley in the 7th, keeping the score planted at 2-1 Orioles.

Kelley, Matt Thornton, and Dellin Betances split the 8th inning, each grabbing an out to hold off the Orioles. Then David Huff took over in the 9th. A fielding error and single put runners on the corners threatening to add tot he Orioles’ lead. A single pushed the Orioles up 3-1 by the middle of the 9th inning.

So it became last-inning rally time. And because it’s the Yankees or maybe it was because it’s Friday, the Yankees rallied and won. Gardner singled, and 2 outs later Teixeira walked and the remaining crowd of hopeful fans collectively prayed for a miracle. Brian McCann delivered a new sliver of hope with an RBI single. (3-2 Orioles) And then it’s Carlos Beltran with 3-1 count at-bat who knocks a long home run to left field for a 3-run walk-off home run so the Yankees could win the game 5-3.

Start spreading the news…

Also, today was the last day of HOPE Week. And today, a group of Yankees including Sabathia, Tanaka, McCann, Teixeira, Johnson, Ryan, Betances, Solarte, and Ramirez (plus extra tag-alongs former Yankee and current YES broadcaster John Flaherty and NFL players and brothers Devin and Jason McCourty) surprised 18-year-old Quai Jefferson and his mother Vaida at St. Joseph Regional High School in New Jersey. Eleven years ago, Vaida was diagnosed with MS, and Quai took over all household duties and daily routines so that his mom could focus on her health. Not yet a teenager, Quai added taking care of his mom and their house to his days of school and athletics, but he just accepted that this was his life, maintaining a positive attitude and laying a foundation of character and determination and courage for the now adult son.

Quai scored a college scholarship to the University of Delaware after graduating this year from St. Joseph. The Yankees recognized Quai for his outstanding example of maintaining a positive attitude and outlook, continuing to reach for your goal, while facing challenges as they come, no matter how daunting they seem. I don’t think Quai thinks of himself as inspirational, but rather as someone who made good choices in the midst of some pretty bad circumstances. And isn’t that really the definition of a hero? Someone who chose to do the right things, without seeking recognition or even their own legacy, in spite of the odds or terrible things one must face.

No, in my book, Quai Jefferson is a hero. And he’s just 18. Maybe that is inspirational to some people. I think it’s just a great example for kids to follow.

Go Yankees!

Game 71: TOR vs. NYY — Sweeping the Jays

David Phelps is on a roll. His last outing last weekend was a huge improvement over some of most of his performances this year, but tonight’s game just upped the ante for him. He threw 115 pitches (a season high) over his 7 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks and striking out 7 Toronto batters. The runs scored in the 3rd inning as part of a 2-run home run, on a ball that lingered a little too high for a power-hitter. It was the Blue Jays short-lived effort to tie up the game. Short-lived being the optimum term.

See, the Yankees decided to just collect their own small ball runs right from the 1st inning. There, Gardner on 3rd with a double and advancing on a single, scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly. Another sacrifice fly, this one  by Kelly Johnson, in the 2nd scored Beltran. So when the Jays tied it up with their big home run, the Yankees did what they do and jumped back in the lead in the bottom of the 3rd by continuing their run-scoring pattern — with Carlos Beltran’s sac fly scoring Ellsbury. And Beltran’s ground-rule double in the 5th scored Ellsbury.

In the 6th, Brian Roberts singled, stole 2nd, stole 3rd, and then scored on Jeter’s ground out. Continuing, the Yankees have the bases loaded in the 7th, and the Blue Jays gift the Yankees with a walked-in run scored with a walk to Solarte. So the Yankees are up 6-2 going into the top of the 8th.

The Yankees opt to relieve an exhausted, but still quite brilliant tonight, Phelps, sending for Shawn Kelley. With 1 out, Kelley allowed a walk and then repeated his predecessor of the evening by giving up a 2-run home run. The Yankees are still in the lead 6-4, but clinging to that lead. After another out was challenged and upheld, Matt Thornton was pulled in for the last out of that inning. Thornton would continue his efforts in the 9th before he too was replaced by Adam Warren to close out the game and earn his 3rd save of the season.

A solid sweep of the current 1st place in the AL East division Toronto Blue Jays was amazing and certainly helped the Yankees not just in their division race, but in their overall standing and competitiveness in the league. That All-Star break is approaching fast, and I’ve already started talking with friends and baseball fans about patterns, trends, competition, division predictions, etc. Nothing I’d ever put down for you, lovely readers, because I’m not writing that kind of blog. I’d rather discuss the tangible and the now and the what has been and the positive where my words have a sense of permanence on this magical space of the endless internet, and save my what ifs and opinions and (often unrealistic or vaguely naïve) hopes where words disappear the moment they pass through your lips.

Now some great tangible, positive news: HOPE Week continued today on a high note, of sorts. Former Yankee outfielder, still a fan favorite, and quite the accomplished musician Bernie Williams helped out with today’s honorees — a group called Musicians on Call, who sends out volunteers to put on musical performances to hospitals and their patients. Over the last 15 years, they have sent hundreds of musicians to visit and play for over 400,000 patients over the New York area. Today, the Yankees and Williams partnered with Musicians on Call at New York Presbyterian. Other Yankees included Carlos Beltran, Vidal Nuno, David Robertson, Adam Warren, and Chase Whitley. The Yankees presented Musicians on Call with a $10,000 donation to continue their work of spreading a little cheer and the gift of music to the city’s healing citizens and invited volunteers to sing the national anthem before tonight’s game.

I’m listening to music as I write this as usual, and it occurs to me how much music is so much a part of the our lives. You can’t even play a sport like baseball without people singing before the game (“The Star Spangled Banner”) or after the game (“New York New York”) or at the 7th inning (“God Bless America”) or during players’ walk-ups or those ditties the stadium throws out in the inning breaks for people to dance and sing along with. Music is everywhere all the time. It’s in our elevators and retails stores, on the car radios, plugged into my ears right now, as part of the movie soundtrack I watched earlier today, the song you sing in the shower. Music is powerful. It brings life and joy and rhythm and order to a world that could so easily spin into chaos and (perhaps even worst) silence. I applaud people who can and do take music to people who need to feel that good and positive like music when their world may be filled with too much negative.

Go Yankees!

Game 58: OAK vs. NYY — Keeping the memories in spite of a tough loss

Today, baseball lost one of its great legends Don Zimmer. Zimmer had been hospitalized in the Tampa area (his hometown) since mid-April following heart surgery and passed away peacefully at the age of 83, surrounded by his family. “Zim”, as he was known, spent his baseball career as a player, manager, and coach on some of the best teams ever, including the 1955 and 1959 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1996, 1998-2000 Yankees. For the last 11 seasons, he served as bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, as he chose to make the Tampa area his home for the last 60 years after marrying his high school sweetheart. So many clubs can make claims to Zim — Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Reds, Padres, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Rockies, Yankees, and Rays and the former Expos and Senators and a Japanese team in the 60’s.

Zim’s impact went beyond his abilities on the field and in the dugout, as he was well-liked and admired by players and peers alike. He was everyone’s mentor, everyone’s father, everyone’s grandfather, everyone’s friend. He will be greatly missed. (The YES Network team talk about Zim, remembering him fondly in this video clip.)

The Yankees lost more than a friend tonight. They also lost the game, but it certainly didn’t start that way. In the 3rd inning, the Yankees decided to poke holes in the Athletics’ pitching in a big way. Runners on the corners with a walk and single, Derek Jeter’s single scored a run, and then Jacoby Ellsbury hit a long 3-run home run into the Yankees’ bullpen and put the Yankees up 4-0. This should have been enough to make up for some early pitching struggles. It wasn’t.

Vidal Nuno struggled through his 92 pitches in just 4.2 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs, striking out 5 Oakland batters. The runs came as a solo home run in the 4th and a sacrifice fly scoring a run in the 5th. Matt Daley’s appearance in the 5th quickly shut down Oakland, but a solo home run in the 6th put the Athletics closer to the Yankees’ lead. A throwing error put a runner on base who would go on to score under his relief, Matt Thornton on a sacrifice fly in the 6th. And the game was tied.

In the 7th, the Yankees sent in recalled Jose Ramirez who gave up what would become the winning run, a solo home run to push the A’s in the lead. Recent call-up Wade LeBlanc’s 9th inning was less than desired for his first impact with the Yankees — adding two more runs to the score when one run scored on a hit-by-pitch and one on a sacrifice fly. So the Yankees ended up with a 7-4 loss to Oakland. The A’s took a 4-0 deficit and turned it into a 7-4 win for them by taking advantage of the weak bullpen.

Quick update on roster moves: Ramirez was recalled from Scranton; LeBlanc picked up from the Angels off waivers; Alfredo Aceves was designated for assignment; and Preston Claiborne was optioned back to Scranton.

Now, nothing against Oakland, they are currently on a huge upswing, leading the entire American League standings. (If you’re wondering, the Yankees are 3rd in the AL East, 29-29 or .500 average.) Things are just clicking for them right now. But it does make me think twice about how they win against the Yankees — late in the game, against a weaker bullpen relief. That itself is an interesting thought, one that could use extra dissecting if this were August or September. But I’ve learned my lesson over the years. It’s barely June. I don’t start analyzing game momentum or patterns until after the All-Star Game. The season’s still finding its feet, and surprising as it may seem, it’s still anyone’s game.

And that’s what makes the summer for me — knowing anything is still possible. That positive outlook reminds me of Zim, and that’s what I cling to tonight. His love for the game, his love for the people who make the game possible, and the joy he found in the little things that make baseball a great game.

Go Yankees! (We’ll miss ya, Zim!)