Category: Highlights

New York Mets’ Player of the Week July 24-July 30: Rene Rivera

It was supposed to be a week of celebration for the New York Mets. Mike Piazza was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday and the festivities would culminate in an evening honoring the great catcher on Saturday evening. Instead, the Mets fell further out of the playoff race with a series of frustrating defeats in which their offense was a complete joke. This week’s honor for Mets’ Player of the Week goes to of all things, a backup catcher. However, Rene Rivera was no joke this week at the dish.

Courtesy: nypost.com

Courtesy: nypost.com

Although he is not the starter, Rivera is outperforming the regular catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, even when taking the latter’s disabled list stint into account. Rivera has doubled d’Arnaud’s home run output and has almost twice as many RBI’s in 46 fewer at-bats. The 33-year old veteran played in only three games over this past week but he was a force in two of them. He delivered the big blow on Tuesday with a two-run home run, supplying the only offense as the Mets dropped the first game of a doubleheader by a score of 3-2. On Thursday, Rivera’s double in the second accounted for his team’s only run as New York lost another excruciating game by the score of 2-1. Besides Jacob deGrom, Rivera was the only bright spot with three hits in four at-bats. The fact that Rene Rivera is this week’s Mets’ Player of the Week shows you how sorry the state of affairs is in Queens.

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New York Yankees’ Player of the Week July 24-July 30: Chase Headley

A week that started out with so promise for the New York Yankees went down in a hurry. They won their first three games of the week to inch them closer to a playoff berth. Despite trading Aroldis Chapman on Monday, the Yanks proceeded to win their first two games in Houston against the Astros, one of the teams they are chasing. Then they lost the finale on Wednesday before seeming to be lifeless on Friday night against the last place Tampa Bay Rays, losing their second straight game. Saturday was not any better as they once again could not solve Drew Smyly  and dropped a 6-3 decision. One guy that had a pretty good set of games was Chase Headley, this week’s Yankees’ Player of the Week.

Courtesy: nypost.com

Courtesy: nypost.com

The Yankees’ third baseman put together a solid week at the dish and made some nice plays at the hot corner. When his team needed a big performance on Monday against Yankee-killer Dallas Keuchel, Headley delivered. He went 2 for 3 and was involved in both New York runs in a 2-1 victory. His fifth inning single tied the game at 1 and he led off the eighth inning with another base knock. He came all the way around to score on Austin Romine‘s double to give the Yanks an important win. The following night, his 2nd inning single gave the Bombers a 2-1 edge, a lead the team would not surrender on the way to a 6-3 victory. He also plated another run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to make it a 3-1 margin. He was one of the only bright spots in Friday’s debacle, with two hits in four at-bats as the Yanks lost their second straight by a score of 5-1. On Saturday, he reached base three times, scoring on Brett Gardner‘s two-run home run and adding a solo shot of his own but New York lost for the third consecutive game. Headley is in a groove but his team is in a funk.

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New York Yankees’ Player of the Week 7/17-7/23: Starlin Castro

In a week full of games in which the New York Yankees needed to make a statement, it was Starlin Castro that made the biggest impact of all. He posted nine hits in 26 at-bats as the Yanks took three of four from the first place Baltimore Orioles and split the first two contests against the San Francisco Giants. He also helped the Bombers hold off what would have been a brutal three game sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox.

Courtesy: nj.com

Courtesy: nj.com

It started last Sunday as New York dropped the first two games coming out of the All-Star Break against the Sox. On Sunday, Castro went 2 for 4 and accounted for two of his club’s three runs as the Yanks avoided the sweep with a 3-1 victory. His fifth inning double tied the game and he scored the go-ahead run in the same frame on Austin Romine‘s single. On Monday, Castro singled in three at-bats as New York took the opening game from the Orioles by a score of 2-1. The following evening was his big game of the week as his two-run home run in the first inning put the Yankees on the board and his two-run double in the eighth inning gave them a big 5-1 lead on the way to a 7-1 win. After going 0-3 the follow day in which the Bombers win their fourth straight game, Castro provided the only highlight with an RBI single as the Yanks failed to complete the sweep of the Birds. Against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants Friday night, the second baseman went 3 for 4 and drove in the first run of the game in a 3-2 Yankee victory. Saturday was a rough day for Castro, who went 0 for 5 and the Bombers’ offense as they dropped a 2-1 decision in 12 innings to San Francisco.

The Yankees posted a 5-2 record over the last seven games in order to remain on the fringes of playoff contention. This was in large part to Starlin Castro, subwaybaseball’s Yankees Player of the Week.

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New York Mets’ Player of the Week 7/17-7/23: James Loney

About six weeks ago, I wrote a post proclaiming that James Loney was a “savior” for the New York Mets. Perhaps the term “savior” was a little strong but he has done a nice job for a Met team that has their droughts offensively. He also has been a tremendous asset in the field at first base. In a tough week for the Mets in which they went 3-3, the 32-year old Loney was a shining star. Thought he did not start every contest, he nevertheless owned a hit in every game he appeared in this week thanks to a nifty pinch-hitting appearance Friday night.

Courtesy: mlb.com

Courtesy: mlb.com

The week started off with a bang as Jacob deGrom delivered one of the most dominant pitching performances in team history, allowing just two baserunners while facing the minimum number of batters in a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Loney went 2 for 4 and scored two runs including the first one of the game. He did not start the first game in Chicago vs. the Cubs, a 5-1 loss. Loney went 1 for 4 on Tuesday as the Mets evened the series with the Cubs by a score of 2-1. New York dropped the finale at Wrigley by a score of 6-2 as the veteran continued his hitting streak with a fourth inning single. After an off-day Thursday, the Mets traveled to Miami to for an important set with the Marlins. Loney did not start Friday night’s game but delivered a key pinch-hit, two-run home run in the ninth inning for the difference in a 5-3 Mets’ victory. Saturday was another disappointing loss, this time by a score of 7-2 with Loney extending his hitting streak to seven games with an eighth inning single and he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

It was an average week for the Amazins. For James Loney, it was a very productive stretch as he had eight hits in 25 at-bats. For that reason, he is subwaybaseball’s New York Mets Player of the Week.

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New York Yankees Deadline Deals: David Justice

It appears that for the second straight season that the New York Yankees will not be buyers at the trading deadline. They last made significant upgrades in 2014 when they acquired Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado and Chase Headley in an attempt to send Derek Jeter into retirement with one final October moment. The Yanks ultimately fell short that year before rebounding to make the Wild Card game last season. It is a strange predicament for the Bombers as they are usually looking to upgrade for an annual playoff push. One of their most successful deadline (or in this case, an early deadline) acquisitions came in the year 2000, also known as the year I got married, when they obtained David Justice.

Courtesy: nytimes

Courtesy: nytimes

The 2000 Yankees were gunning for their third consecutive World Series Championship and toward the end of June they were in second place in the American League, three games behind the Toronto Blue Jays. This was uncommon occurrence since they were on cruise control in the division the prior two seasons. So, on June 29th (a special day indeed…..my birthday), New York swung a deal with the Cleveland Indians, acquiring the power-hitting Justice who had already hit 21 home runs. In return, the Indians received 1998 World Series hero Ricky Ledee, right-handed pitcher Zach Day and fellow righty Jake Westbrook, who would win 105 games in the Majors. The Bombers got hot, building a nine game lead by September 13th before stumbling down the stretch and eking out the division crown. Meanwhile, Justice clubbed 20 home runs in 318 plate appearances, finishing with a career-night 41. However, the best was still to come for the veteran slugger.

After producing four hits in 21 plate appearances in the five game divisional series vs. the Oakland A’s, Justice had only six hits in 28 plate appearances in the six game American League Championship Series vs. the Seattle Mariners. However, four of those six hits went for extra bases including two home runs. In fact, it was his seventh inning, three run-blast that put the Yankees ahead for good, propelling them to another World Series appearance while Justice was named the ALCS Most Valuable Player. The Yanks, of course, would go on to capture their third consecutive World Championship, a five game victory over the New York Mets.

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New York Yankees All-Star Game Memory: Mariano Rivera

2013 marked the end of the era. The incomparable Mariano Rivera decided to make that season his final one, leaving behind a legacy that sees him as the greatest relief pitcher in Major League history. Unfortunately, like Derek Jeter the following season, the New York Yankees could not give him one final October to shine. So it was the All-Star Game on July 16th that represented Rivera’s last great moment on the National stage. The Midsummer Classic did take place in New York, albeit at Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.

Courtesy: USA today

Courtesy: USA today

Deciding when to use the great Mariano would be a conundrum for American League manager Jim Leyland. It would have been nice for Rivera to actually save the game (which the AL did win by a score of 3-0) but what if the National League had the lead by the time the ninth inning rolled around? Leyland decided to bring in Rivera for the top of the eighth inning. What happened next was magical. The AL players did not go out to their positions when it came time to go into the field. Instead, they and the rest of the teammates along with the entire NL squad, stood at the top of their respective dugouts and gave Rivera a long ovation. It was truly one of those moments you had to see to believe and one of the most touching moments you will ever see on a playing field. Then Rivera did what he had done so wonderfully for 17 years. He set down the side in order; Jean Segura grounded out, Allen Craig flied out and Carlos Gomez grounded out to end the frame. And that was it, the ninth and final appearance of the great Mariano Rivera in All-Star competition was over in a blink of an eye.

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New York Mets’ All-Star Game Memory: Jacob deGrom

It seems as though no matter what he does, Jacob deGrom gets overshadowed by his fellow mound mates on the New York Mets. Matt Harvey has been nicknamed “The Dark Knight” while Noah Syndergaard goes by the moniker of “Thor”. Yet, it has been deGrom who has avoided the injury bug and been the most consistent member of New York’s heralded pitching staff since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2014. Despite all of the perceived slights, there is one thing that DeGrom will always hold over his teammates: a dominating All-Star appearance.

courtesy:nj.com

courtesy:nj.com

It was on July 14th of last year in Cincinnati when deGrom toed the rubber in the top of the sixth inning with the National League trailing 3-1. The hitters, in order, were Stephen Vogt, Jason Kipnis and Jose Iglesias. These three men proceeded to become the star victims in one of the most scintillating performances in All-Star Game history. DeGrom needed a mere ten pitches to blow away Vogt, Kipnis and Iglesias, a performance that captivated not only fans but the best of the best in Major League Baseball. Clearly running on adrenaline overdrive, his fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour. In all the years of watching the All-Star Game, I am not sure I have seen a more breathtaking moment than Jacob deGrom firing missile after missile. Let’s see Harvey and Syndergaard top that performance.

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New York Yankees All-Star Memory: Derek Jeter

The year 2000 was quite the season for the New York Yankees in general and specifically for Derek Jeter. The Yanks would capture their third consecutive Word Series Championship, a feat only done twice before in Major League Baseball’s long and illustrious history. As far as Jeter goes, he batted .339, the third-highest single season average of his career and he finished tenth in the American League Most Valuable Player race. More importantly, he was named the MVP of both the All-Star Game and the World Series, the first and only player to do so. As we get ready for the 2016 All-Star Game, let’s take a look back at Jeter’s outstanding performance on that July 11th evening.

Courtesy of usmagazine

Courtesy of usmagazine

The game was held at Atlanta’s Turner Field. Alex Rodriguez was elected to start at shortstop for the American League but a head injury knocked him out of the game. Jeter was chosen to start by manager Joe Torre and he batted in his customary number two spot. In his first at-bat, Jeter doubled off Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the top of the third, he laced a single off Kevin Brown of the Los Angeles Dodgers and would come around to score the first run of the game. In the following frame, Jeter made it three for three in the game and three for three off future teammates. He stroked a two-run single off Al Leiter, scoring Jermaine Dye and Travis Fryman breaking a 1-1 tie. It was a lead the AL would not surrender as they eventually won the game by a score of 6-3. Mariano Rivera closed out the contest in the ninth but not before giving up a run, the only time he gave up he was scored upon in his nine All-Star appearances. As for Jeter, this All-Star Game was only a warmup to his heroics in October.

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New York Mets All-Star Memory: Dwight Gooden

The year was 1984 and the National League All-Stars were looking to get back to their winning ways at the Midsummer Classic. The prior year, the American Leaguers pasted their counterparts by a score of 13-3 ending the Senior Circuit’s 11-game winning streak. 1984’s edition would be held at Candlestick Park, almost assuring that the game would be dominated by pitchers. It also represented a coming-out party for rookie Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, a 19-year old pitcher whose performance in the first half of the season had the Big Apple in the palm of his hands. With his selection, Gooden became the youngest player ever to appear in an All-Star Game.

Courtesy: ESPN.com

Courtesy: ESPN.com

The National League did get their revenge, winning the game by a score of 3-1 with future Met Gary Carter, then with the Montreal Expos, taking home Most Valuable Player honors. However, all anyone could talk about was Gooden, the teenage phenomenon who dominated the best of the American League.  In the fifth inning, Gooden struck out the side, disposing of the Detroit Tigers’ Lance Parrish and Chet Lemon as well as Alvin Davis of the Seattle Mariners, who like Gooden, would win Rookie of the Year in 1984. In the following frame, Gooden retired Lou Whitaker on a ground out before Eddie Murray lined a double. He then induced Cal Ripken, Jr. to ground out and Dave Winfield to fly out before calling it a night. Prior to Gooden’s dominating the fifth inning, Fernando Valenzuela was equally as tough. In the fourth, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty struck out Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett, giving the NL six consecutive whiffs, one of the most historical pitching performances in All-Star history. It brought back memories of Carl Hubbell‘s feat in 1934 of striking out five Hall of Famers in a row: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Fifty years later, it was Gooden and Valenzuela who were the talk of the Summer Classic and for Gooden, it was the start of one of the most magical periods in New York baseball history.

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New York Yankees’ Highlight of the Week 7-3-16 Through 7-9-16

It seems as though every time I look at the last ten games of the New York Yankees, their record is 5-5. I guess this explains why they are at exactly .500 after taking three out of four games against the Cleveland Indians. I keep going back and forth as to whether or not they should be a seller come the trade deadline or keep the team intact in an attempt to make the playoffs. From a fan’s perspective, I am hoping that what happened on Saturday is a springboard for the rest of the season.

Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Yanks were trailing 5-3 in the sixth inning when Brett Gardner had perhaps the second most important hit of his team’s season. His three-run triple put New York in front by a score of 6-5. Brian McCann‘s double in the 11th inning might be the biggest hit of them all. That blow gave the Yanks a 7-6 victory and assured the Bombers of heading into the break with some much-needed momentum.

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