My first trip to Yankee Stadium: the pictures

Even though everyone knows I’m a Mets fan and that I now live in Queens, my first big league game since coming over to New York from England was to see the Yankees beat the Detroit
Tigers 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Yankee Stadium is fantastic – if you’ve never been, get down there when you get a chance. We had the most amazing seats for the game, thanks to my fiance’s father who took the whole family down there as a gift to us.

We were down the first base line just behind first, 17 rows up, which meant I was able to get some nice pictures. Have a look through and see what you think. If you like them, there’s plenty more from this game at my Shutterfly album.

*****

The House that Taxpayers’ Money Built

DSC01135a.jpgMonument Park

DSC01193a.jpgMy photo montage of big fat CC Sebathia

DSC01309 copya.jpgPlacido Polanco

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A-Rod fielding down at third base.

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Teixeira holding Brandon Inge on at first as big fat CC gets his signs.

DSC01377a.jpgJustin Verlander topping out his heater.

DSC01396a.jpgJeter starting an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to get big fat CC out of the 3rd inning.

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Jeter going through his pre-pitch routine.

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Hideki Matsui gets under one and sends it straight up the chute.

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Mark Teixeira fielding at first base.

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Jeter taking a pitch below the knees and looking across to his bench for a signal.

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A-Rod breaks a 0-0 tie with a 7th inning opposite-field home run. Number 571.

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Enter Sandman. Game over.

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Mid-summer classic eludes NL yet again


IN one of baseball’s most historic cities, the stars of the American League continued their mid-summer dominance of the NL to stretch their unbeaten streak to 13 years.

It was a game where a Tampa Bay outfielder saved a Red Sox pitcher from a loss, a first-time All Star drove in the go-ahead run, a veteran in pinstripes improved his unbeaten ASG record to 9-0-1 and the best closer in the history of the game slammed the door for a record-setting fourth year to consign the National League to yet another defeat.

The American League plated a pair of runs in the 1st inning but the NL hit right back with a three-spot in the home half of the 2nd.

The visiting AL fought back to make it 3-3 in the 5th inning and they came from behind to take the lead in the 8th.

While the pre-game festivities – so often just a predictable preamble to the on-field action – had their share of cheers and jeers, one highlight was the ceremony recognising the true all stars of communities across the country who embody the values that aptly represent the baseball nation – hard work, leadership, passion and teamwork.

Elsewhere, President Obama, sporting a White Sox jacket, threw out the first pitch – a low off-speed offering for those who cared – and then mocked the awful Washington Nationals, Sheryl Crow took the mic to sing the national anthem and Stan The Man Musial received the biggest cheer of the night as he appeared on a cart from right field.

On the field, the best of the best then took centre stage… and Albert Pujols was nowhere to be seen.

In fact, it wasn’t quite the two days the St Louis faithful had hoped for. The slugger failed to win a fat man a Chevy before the home run derby on Monday night, he didn’t make it past the final four in the derby proper and he went 0-3 with an error during the Mid-Summer Classic itself on Tuesday.

24 hours after Prince Fielder stole the manbeast’s thunder in the frankly disappointing longball showdown, it was Carl Crawford, Curtis Granderson and Adam Jones who took the plaudits to give the AL home field advantage in the World Series this fall.

The National League’s heartache began early on, subsided as quickly as it rose and then seared its ugly head again as they failed to solve the connundrum of the Greinke, Paplebon and 39-year-old stopper Mariano Rivera.

Reigning Cy Young winner and NL starter Tim Lincecum gave up a broken bat base hit to lead-off hitter Ichiro Suzuki and he beaned Yankees shortstop Jeter Jeter on the left wrist with an 0-2 changeup.

Twins catcher Joe Mauer grounded into a forceout at third and Mark Teixeira reached on a Pujols error on an in-between hop to score Jeter from second.

Jason Bay singled back up the box to load the bases and Mauer scored to make it 2-0 on Josh Hamilton’s groundball to the right side when Lincecum was slow to cover first base.

The AL’s lead was short-lived however, as Charlie Manuel’s team rallied on the strength of three base hits and an error to move ahead 3-2.

David Wright flared a two-out broken-bat bloop and moved over to second on Shane Victorino’s base hit. Hometown boy Yadier Molina drove in Wright with an RBI single to right field and Victorino tied the game at two when Josh Hamilton’s throw to third base hit the Phillies’ switch hitter and bounced away to the stands.

The National League then took the lead on pinch hitter Prince Fielder’s ground rule double down the left filed line, but the AL knotted the game in the top of the 5th inning when Joe Mauer laced an RBI double down to left to score Derek Jeter from 1st after he had earlier grounded into a forceout at second base.

The NL bats were mostly quiet from here on out until the 7th inning when Red Sox closer Jonathan Paplebon was given a brief scare.

Brad Hawpe launched a first pitch towards the AL bullpen in left field, only to be robbed by a jumping Carl Crawford who pulled it back into the yard for a long, loud out.

Hawpe was one out in a sequence of 18 hitters who were retired in order, such was the American League’s pitchers’ dominance.

The catch would prove to be pivotal as the AL would take a lead they would not relenquish.

Curtis Granderson legged out a one-out triple off of Heath Bell in the top of the 8th inning and he came home on Adam Jones’ 0-2 sac fly to right field.

Adrian Gonzalez took a two-out walk off of Twins’ closer Joe Nathan and the big-hitting Padre went first-to-third on Orlando Hudson’s base hit off the glove of shortstop Jason Bartlett.

The mini-rally brought Ryan Howard to the plate to pinch hit, but Howard fanned on a 2-2 fastball down and in to preserve the slender lead.

Mariano Rivera then took care of business in the bottom half of the 9th inning, setting the side down in order to record his eighth consecutive scoreless inning.

I would be more upset, but with the Mets six-and-a-half games behind in the NL East, I doubt we will be going to the Series anyway.

As with so many other things for Mets fans, there’s always next year.

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Chicks dig the long ball – Home Run Derby

Here are my picks for the All Star Game home run derby. Who do you have?

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An Englishman in New York

The Mets have an off-day and, more importantly, I have an off-day.

I’ve been kinda neglectful of my blog the last month, but here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going on.

4 weeks ago I finished my job at the Harrogate Advertiser where I had spent the last three years as a senior reporter. I had the cover story for my last ever edition which was quite nice too and I got some fantastic gifts from everybody there.

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This was one of the gifts…
metsdvd.jpgFor the Mets fans out there, definitely check this out if you haven’t already. Later on in the season, I’ll write an actual review of this DVD, so keep your eyes peeled.

I had a going away party at work and a week later I came back for my stag party.

We went go-karting (I was rubbish)

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and later when we went out on a bar crawl, they made me wear a very nice dress.

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Two weeks ago I had a few leaving drinks with my family at the village near near my home

fam.jpgand then I finally moved permanently to New York to be with my fiance Lisa.

We are living in a quaint little neighborhood in Queens

Street.jpgand as well as being a tourist and taking photos of everything, we watched the 4th of July fireworks from the roof of our apartment.

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Plans are also afoot to go and see both the Mets and the Yankees, but I did go along to fireworks night at the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones on Friday for their game against the Tri-City Valley Cats.

Keyspan Park is a gorgeous and intimate little ballpark in Coney Island next to the beach, backing on to the Atlantic Ocean.

Both teams played really well, but the Cyclones pulled out a rally in the bottom of the 9th inning, winning the game 3-2 on a bases-loaded walk-off single off the wall in left field.

No matter what the level, or what the team, this just proved that the magic of baseball can be seen anywhere, anytime. You don’t need to pay $150 for good seats to a great game.

Here are the pick of the pics I took down there…

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The wedding is now less then 7 weeks away, so if I go MIA now and then, fear not, I am still here, but probably just very busy. And if you know of any writing gigs in NYC, you know where to find me.

Until then, keep working hard – I need your taxes :-)

Johan, Mets, topple NL Central-leading Cardinals

Hello and welcome back to my blog. What a crazy few weeks it has been with me – I have left my job, emmigrated to New York to be with my wife-to-be Lisa and I have had to try and help plan a wedding from England.

That’s like three crazy things which are hard enough on their own, let alone trying to do them all at once!

So, that is the reason for my absense. I will have a proper update about what’s been going on with me tomorrow. For now, here’s a quick note about today’s Mets-Cards game.

Enjoy

**********

IT was billed as a pitching duel between two of the modern
day greats and it did not fail to live up to the expectations as the New York
Mets edged the St Louis Cardinals 3-2 to take the series at Shea Stadium Citi Field.

 

Just one day after ripping the Cardinals for 11 runs on 16
hits, Johan Santana and the Mets came up against a much stiffer opponent in
Chris Carpenter.

 

The Mets have given Santana just 3.1 runs of support this
season, the third worst in the majors, but it was three important runs which
proved just enough to give the Mets their first series win in three weeks.

 

While Santana, who entered the game with an 8-5 record and
3.22 ERA, struggled with his command early on, Carp came out of the gates
flying, showing the Queens faithful why he is 5-1 so far this year.

 

Carp – who receives an equally dire 3.2 runs of support
during his starts – was backed by a rare 1st inning run off of
Santana, but the Mets plated a trio of runs in the 4th inning to
give them the lead they would not surrender.

 

Santana, who had allowed just two 1st-inning runs
in his 13 previous starts coming in to today’s game, fell behind 1-0 on the
strength of two hits and a catcher’s interference.

 

Skip Schumacher scored from second base on Yadier Molina’s
RBI single to center field after Rick Ankiel was waved to first on catcher Omir
Santos’ error.

 

Carpenter started well and never eased up, gaining the upper
hand on his Cy Young counterpart until the Mets finally broke through in the 4th
inning.

 

Carp didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings of
work and he threw just five balls compared to 27 strikes as he moved the Mets
down one after another.

 

But things were about to change thanks to some timely
hitting and a little bit of good fortune as the Mets rallied half way through
the game.

 

Luis Castillo singled and David Wright reached on an infield
single when his hard-hit ball up the middle rebounded off of the pitcher’s
glove and away from Joe Thurston.

 

Ryan Church grounded into a broken bat fielder’s choice to
Golden Glove Albert Pujols but Fernando Tatis singled to right field to draw
the Mets level.

 

Fernando Martinez advanced the runners to second and third
on a grounder to the left side of the infield and Nick Evans laced a two-run
double the other way to right field to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

 

Thurston brought the Cardinals to within one run in the 6th
inning when his two-out RBI single to center field scored Rick Ankiel.

 

Santana pitched through the 7th inning despite a
rocky start to the game, finishing with seven hits, three walks and three
strikeouts, giving up two runs – one earned.

 

Pedro Feliciano pitched around a leadoff single to preserve
the lead in the 8th inning

 

That returned the momentum to the Mets who loaded the bases in
the bottom of the frame but failed to add to their slim advantage.

 

Denny Reyes, who came in
relief of the fantastic Carpenter
, gave a lead off single to Daniel
Murphy and followed it two batters later with a walk to Luis Castillo.

 

McClellan replaced Reyes
but walked David Wright and leftie Trever Miller then came in to strikeout Ryan
Church with the bases loaded.

 

Jason Motte, the fourth Red Birds pitcher of the inning,
completed St Louis’ escapology act by getting Tatis to pop up to end the
inning.

 

Francisco Rodriguez then recorded his lead-tying 20th
save of the season, despite back-to-back two-out walks to Pujols and Ludwick,
earning Santana his NL lead-tying ninth win of the year.

Johan, Mets, beat Phillies 6-5 in unexpected homer-fest

BAT, ball and glove. Johan Santana proved Tuesday night he is proficient with them all.

The Mets ace helped himself to his eighth victory of the year with seven plus strong innings of work which featured a game-tying RBI double and starting an inning-ending double play.

He was nowhere as good as his expected brilliance – in fact, he was quite poor by his standards – but at the start of a tough run in to the All Star Break he gave the Mets a chance to win.

With 24 of the next 31 games coming against teams with winning records, that’s all the banged up New Yorkers could have hoped for.

His teammates weren’t bad either. David Wright broke his 100-at bat home run drought with a 2nd inning blast to left field, switch-hitting Carlos Beltran launched a two-run blast of his own in the 3rd and Ryan Church became the first Met to hit a ball into the big red apple in the 7th.

So much for Citi Field playing large, the Phillies had four - strangely the most Johan has given up since 2007.

Pedro Feliciano produced three outs on four pitches with a pair of grounders in the 8th and Francisco Rodriguez remained perfect on save opportunities with his 16th of the year.

The Phillies, whose starters came in to tonight 8-0 in the last 10 games since Myers hit the DL, turned to starter JA Happ to try and keep the patchwork Mets lineup in the yard.

He failed.

Wright took a fastball up and in over the 16ft wall in left field for his 4th home run of the season and first for more than a month to give the Mets a 1-0 lead early on in the ballgame and Beltran extended that to 3-0 in the 3rd when he hit a two-run jack to left field from the right hand side of the plate.

I guess Citi Field is a band box now, right?

The Phillies fought back in the 4th inning with back-to-back two-out home runs off of Santana. Ryan Howard dispatched a high offering over the bullpen when Santana caught too much of the plate and Raul Ibanez followed with one over the Modell sign near the porch.

Despite getting ahead of everyone and throwing strikes, the guys in the Mets SNY booth alluded to him maybe throwing too many strikes, especially ahead in the count.

Jimmy Rollins gave the Phillies the lead in the 6th inning on a two-run blast – another bomb with two men out – on a hanging changeup, but the Mets were on the tough end of a botched call in the bottom of the 6th inning when they thought they had scored the tying run against JA Happ.

Tatis led off the inning with a double off the wall, moving to third on catcher Ruiz’s throwing error. With none out, the Phillies played back against Church to concede a run on a ball hit in the infield.

Church did his part and hit a soft one-hop to Howard who came home with a bad throw. Ruiz scooped it and cradled it and even though he didn’t have control of it and Tatis was judged to be out.

Replays showed otherwise, but it was a moot point.

Clay Condrey relieved Happ, but Omir Santos singled and Santana pulled an RBI double to right on a butcher boy fake-bunt play to tie the game.

Castillo popped out for the second out of the inning, but Alex Cora got Johan his lead back with a single through the box to make it 5-4.

Church’s solo blast made it 6-4 before Johan gave up his fourth jack of the evening to bring the Phils back to within one.

But Feliciano slammed the door in the 8th inning and K-Rod took care of business in the 9th.

It was a game played the way baseball should be played. With a month left until the break, let’s hope the Mets can produce more of the same.

Latest leaderboard – Number 47

Thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog – the only MLBlog which is scientifically proven to give you 100 per cent of your daily recommended allowance of my ramblings.
 
glavine1.jpgIn the time-honoured tradition of dedicating rankings, I would like to praise one of the best crafty lefties of his generation, Tom Glavine.
 
Glavine wore the Mets’ number 47 jersey from Opening Day 2003 until the end of the 2007 season, starting 164 games and compiling a 61-56 record.
 
He pitched more than 1,000 innings over the five-year spell with an ERA under 3.97. He never had overpowering stuff and, by the time he left the Mets at age 41, he was relying as much on his baseball savvy knowledge on the mound as he was on his pinpoint control and ability to keep the ball in the yard.
 
He won double-digit games with the Mets in all but his first season with the club and he went to the All Star Game in both 2004 and 2006 – his ninth and tenth appearances respectively.
 

glavine2.jpgWhile he never hit the 190-strikeout, 20-win seasons of his Cy Young years, he was still a valuable cog in the New York machine, even if every single person at Shea Stadium knew it was going to be a changeup away.
 
His 15-7 (.682) record in 2006 was the third best in the bigs and his 34 starts the following year was bettered in the National league only by Dontrelle Willis before he decided to turn into a headcase.
 
Whether the $48,000,000 he was paid to play for the Mets was money well-spent or not, fans will remember the Glavine years fondly. In fact, considering the ridiculous lack of depth in the rotation right now, the lure for the 43-year-old probably isn’t that far away.
 
For a full list of the leaders, click here.
 
Pics: 

Condolences to Scott and his family

My thoughts are with Scott Schoeneweis, his family and the Arizona Diamondbacks following the news of the death of Scott’s 39-year-old wife Gabrielle.

The mother of four was pronounced dead in their Arizona home shortly after noon and I know the whole baseball community will be shocked and saddened by the news.

I can’t begin to imagine how a family could come to terms with a loss like this, but I’m sure they will have all the love and support in the world. Stay strong.

Mets make it 7, sweep Pirates

THE New York Mets made it seven in a row on Sunday night as they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates away to move clear at the top of the NL East.

Livan Hernandez fell behind early, but the Mets plated three in the 4th inning and broke the game open with four in the 8th inning to give them their first lead in the standings since Opening Day.

Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Omir Santos each plated two runners as the Mets gave Hernandez enough run support to overcome a shaky start.

The Pirates, in fact, jumped ahead early, scoring a run in the 1st and 3rd innings before the Mets got on the board.

Nyjer Morgan singled and stole second base and Delmon Young singled to centre to put men on the corners. Nate McLouth hit a sacrifice fly to Ryan Church in right field to easily score Morgan who trotted home at a canter.

The Pirates doubled their lead in the 3rd inning when Diaz found the gap in the right side of the infield when he slapped a single the other way.

McLouth had led off the onning with a double to left field and Eric Hinske drew a one-walk walk -one of four free passes from Hernandez who had only given up eight walks in his previous five starts.

After Andy LaRoche grounded back out to Hernandez, Diaz shot a single to Church to score McLouth. Hinske was held up surprisingly at third base and Brian Bixler struck out to end the inning.

The Mets had very little going on against Ian Snell until the 4th inning. Carlos Delgado launched a one-out double off the top of the centrefield wall and David Wright drove him home with a grounder that crept under the glove of Bixler.

Wright then stole second and Daniel Murphy walked, and both runners advanced 90ft on a wild pitch that got away from Diaz after hopping off of the plate.

Omir Santos gave the Mets the lead by turning on a 3-2 fastball to send a two-run single to right field, but he was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.

Pedro Feliciano pitched a scoreless 7th inning for the Mets and the bats added a protection run in the bottom of the frame.

Gary Sheffield, pinch-hitting for Feliciano reached on a fielding error by Bixler and Reyes singled to right. Castillo then singled to centre to give the Mets a 4-2 lead and, after a double steal, Beltran was intentionally walked.

But Delgado popped out and Wright struck out swinging to leave the bases loaded.

JJ Putz got himself into – and out of – another jam in the 8th inning, giving up one-out singles to Diaz and Vazquez. But he got Moss to line out to left and Morgan to strike out to turn the 4-2 lead over to Rodriguez.

The Mets put the game beyond doubt in the 8th inning with a four spot off of reliever Jason Grabow.

Santos picked up his second hit of the evening, Church got his first and Tatis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Reyes, who entered the game batting 5/9 with three runs and three RBI this series, walked in a run and Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Church. Hot-hitting Beltran doubled in two more runs to make it 8-2.

The Pirates did reduce the arrears in the 9th inning when McLouth hit a two-run home run off of Shaun Green, but Green retired the next three batters he faced to give the Mets their seventh consecutive win.

Johan in beast mode, Mets back to .500

IF Oliver Perez is a riddle locked in a conundrum, Johan Santana is a beast wrapped around a machine.

The Mets ace dominated once again on Wednesday night at home to the Phillies, throwing seven innings of shutout ball and fanning ten on his way to recording his fourth win of the 2009 campaign.

The Mets have won three straight for the first time this year and another Cy Young performance from New York’s favourite leftie meant they are back to .500 for the first time in three weeks at 13-13.

Wednesday night though was all about the pitching.

Johan improved to 4-1 on the season through six starts, lowering his miniscule ERA to an equally-small 0.91.

He has given up just four earned runs in 39 2/3 innings and with 24 hits and 14 walks, his whip is below 1.00.

On top of this is 54 strikeouts, the most he has had over a half dozen-game span since 2006 when he had double-digits Ks in four out of five straight matches.

He leads the league with Zack Greinke for punchouts and only the Royals’ pitcher has a better ERA after the first five weeks of play.

If Johan had a little bit more run support – the Mets are giving him a league-worst 2.12 runs per game – he could easily be a perfect 6-0 right now.

In fact, he has started where he left off at the end of 2008, when he went 6-0 with a 1.63ERA over his last nine starts.

But the last time Johan was really this dominant was in June and July 2007 when he allowed six earned runs in six starts for the Twins. The last time he allowed four earned runs in six games was back in August and September 2006.

******

Here’s the updated K-board…One for each of Johan’s strikeouts this season after the Mets top brass stopped fans hanging K-cards in the outfield.

To find out all about it, click here.

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