My favorite Yankees — 25-man roster

NettlesandGoose

Graig Nettles and Goose Gossage (54) celebrate playoff win over Red Sox in 1978 at Fenway.

I’ve been watching Yankee baseball since I was a kid. My earliest memories go back to the 1957 World Series, when the Yankees lost to the Milwaukee Braves in seven games.

I always wanted to pull together a 25-man team of my favorite Yankees. Not necessarily the best, but the Yankees I liked the most.

You’ll note Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio are missing; that’s because I never saw them play. And there are no current Yankees on this team, they’re for future consideration.

Here are the starters and reserve, including seven starting pitchers and three relievers.

REGULARS

CYogi Berra – Got rings? Yogi has 10, most of any player in history.

1B – Don Mattingly – Hit a record 6 grand slams in 1987, the only grand slams of his career.

2B – Willie Randolph – Quiet leader, member of the 1977 and 1978 World Champions.

3B – Graig Nettles – His play at the hot corner was a turning point in the 1978 World Series. 

SS – Derek Jeter – The Captain is #6 on the all-time hit list with 3465.

OF – Mickey Mantle – The switch-hitter, #7, hit some of the longest HRs in MLB history.

OF – Bernie Williams – Another in a long line of great Yankee center fielders.

OFBobby Murcer – He wasn’t the next Mantle, but he was damn good.

PITCHERS

P – Whitey Ford – All-time Yankee leader with 236 wins and a .690 wining percentage.

P – Mel Stottlemyre – Arrived at the end of a dynasty, had 40 career shutouts.

P – Ron Guidry – Enjoyed one of the great seasons ever in 1978, 25-3 with a 1.78 ERA.

P – David Cone – Helped put the Yankees over the top in 1996, was perfect in 1999.

PAndy Pettitte – Clutch lefty, his 19 post-season wins are the most by any pitcher.

RPMariano Rivera – Simply the greatest closer in history with 652 saves.

RPGoose Gossage – Fearsome bullpen presence, saw his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

RESERVES

C Thurman Munson – Hit safely in 28 of 30 post-season games, died in a plane crash in 1979.

1B – Bill Skowron – The Moose hit a home run in my first game at Yankee Stadium

IF – Bobby Richardson – Only World Series MVP on a losing team, 1960 vs. Pittsburgh.

IF – Gil McDougald – Utility man, Rookie of the Year in 1951, later coached baseball at Fordham.

OF – Roger Maris – Still holds the American League single season HR record with 61 in 1961.

OF – Reggie Jackson – Mr. October, hit three HRs vs Dodgers in 1977 World Series clincher.

OF – Paul O’Neill – The Warrior, a mainstay of Yankee championship teams in 1996, 199-2000.

P – Jim “Catfish” Hunter – George’s first big free agent signing, won 23 games in 1975.

P – David Wells – Saw him pitch a perfect game in 1998 against the Twins.

RP – Sparky Lyle – Stolen from the Red Sox, provided pomp and circumstance out of the bullpen.

NEXT CALL-UPS

1B Chris Chambliss; 3B Clete Boyer; OF Lou Piniella; OF Roy White; P Orlando Hernandez; P Jim Bouton

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Still the Juan: Best never to win Cy Young

Nolan Ryan, baseball’s all-time strikeout king, never won a Cy Young Award. Nor did Don Sutton, a fellow Hall of Famer and 300-game winner. Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Jim Bunning, Phil Niekro or Robin Roberts? Answer is no. Not even Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, could cop the Cy.

It’s not any of  those guys. The greatest pitcher never to win a Cy Young Award is Juan Marichal, the Dominican Dandy. He’s the Juan, the best player never to win pitching’s highest honor.

Marichal was 243-142, a .631 winning percentage and a 3.04 ERA during his Hall of Fame career, spent almost entirely with the San Francisco Giants. He won 20 games six times, and three of those were dominant performances, Cy Young type seasons almost any other year.

However Marchial had the bad luck to run up against even more superb performances by Sandy Koufax in 1963 and 1966, and then Bob Gibson in 1968.

In 1963, Juan Marichal was 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. One of those wins was an epic 1-0, 16-inning battle by the bay against Warren Spahn, in which both pitchers had complete games. But Sandy Koufax was even better, 25-5, 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts. Koufax was also the National League MVP that year.

Three years later, Marichal went 25-6, .2.23 ERA and 222 strikeouts. Again he was bested by Koufax, who in his final season was 27-9, 1.73 ERA and 317 strikeouts. From its inception in 1956 until 1967, only one Cy Young was awarded each season. Koufax won it three times – in 1963, 1965 and 1966.

In 1968, Marichal was a career high 26-9, 2.43 ERA and 218 K’s. This time he ran up against Bob Gibson and his 1.12 ERA, the lowest in baseball since Dutch Leonard’s 0.96 in 1914. No pitcher has come close to that mark since. Gibson was 22-9 that year and struck out 268 batters in winning both the Cy and MVP. Marichal was left behind at the altar once again.

Imagine that,winning 25, 25 an 26 games – and losing the Cy Young each time. Marichal failed to garner a single vote in 1963, 1966 or 1968 – Koufax twice and Gibson were unanimous winners.

Marichal also won 20 games in 1964, 1965 and 1969 – and yet did not get as much as a single first place vote in Cy Young balloting any of those years, or in any of the other years he was eligible.  Marichal’s highest finish was eighth, tied with Bill Stoneman, in 1971, when he was 18-11.


10 things you should know about Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte’s retirement breaks a major link in the chain of recent Yankee greatness, especially with the Core Four — a group which won a total of five World Series and seven American League pennants starting in 1996. With Mariano Rivera also exiting this year, and Jorge Posada retiring following the 2011 season, only Derek Jeter remains — and the future of the soon-to-be 40-year-old shortstop is certainly uncertain.

Here are 10 things you should know about Andrew Eugene Pettitte.

1. Pettitte owns a 255-152 career record, good for a .627 career percentage.

2. He is one of just 26 pitchers in baseball history to post a career mark of 100+ games over .500, and the only one still active.

3. Of the previous 25 pitchers to accomplish the feat, 18 are in the Hall of Fame.

4. Pettitte is third all-time on the Yankee win list. His 218 victories trail only Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. He’s also first in strikeouts (2009), second in starts and third in innings pitched.

5. He left the Yankees following the 2003 season to sign a free agent contract with Houston and helped lead the Astros to their only World Series in 2005.

6. With a 20-11 career mark against Boston, Yankee fans will always wonder whether having Pettitte on the mound might have stemmed the tide of Boston’s record comeback from three games down in the 2004 ALCS.

7. Pettitte compiled a 90-39 record against the Yankees AL East rivals (20-11 vs. Boston, 28-6 vs. Baltimore, 17-8 vs. Tampa Bay and 25-14 vs. Toronto). That’s a .698 winning percentage.

8. His 19 post-season wins are the most in baseball history. Atlanta’s John Smoltz is next on the list with 15. Whitey Ford has the most World Series wins with 10.

9. Perhaps Pettitte’s most memorable win was a 1-0 shutout over Smoltz in the fifth game of the 1996 World Series.

10. Pettitte retired once previously, after the 2007 season. He returned in 2009, and was the winning pitcher in Game Six as the Yankees beat Philadelphia to win their 27th World Championship.


Case closed–Mariano Rivera best of all time

Baseball fans can debate who’s the best hitter, the best pitcher, the best shortstop, the greatest team….and on, and on. But on this there’s no debate — Mariano Rivera, who has announced that this will be his final season, is the greatest closer in the history of baseball.

Rivera is baseball’s all-time saves leader with 608, with 42 more in the post-season. Do the math, that’s four full seasons of getting the last out in a Yankees win.

Arguably the most indispensable Yankee over the past 17 years….heck perhaps the most valuable player in baseball during that time. Rivera is a Hall of Fame lock.

Ever so humble, Rivera told ESPN’s Andrew Marchand: “I don’t feel myself, the greatest of all time. I’m a team player. I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others.”

Only one player in baseball, wears #42 — Mariano Rivera. That number was retired in 1997 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s “color barrier.”

Speaking of River, Jackie’s 90-year old widow Rachel Robinson told Ian O’Connor of ESPN: “He carried himself with dignity and grace, that made carrying the number a tribute to Jack.”

A great player and a great man. The great Rivera. There will never be another like him.

Here are 10 cool facts about Mariano Rivera:

1. Since he became the Yankee closer in 1997 (taking over for the departed John Wetteland), Rivera has been remarkably consistent.  He had at least 28 saves for 15 straight seasons before injuring his knee and missing nearly all of 2012.

2. Rivera actually started 10 games in 1995, his rookie year. before the Yankees realized he was born to be a reliever. That year he had a 5-3 record to go with a 5.51 ERA.

3. Since then, Rivera’s ERA has been above 3.00 just once (3.15 in 2007). His career low came in 2005, when he recorded a 1.38 ERA. Overall, he’s 76-58 with a 2.21 ERA.

4. Mo has led the American League in saves three times — 45 (1999), 50 (2001) and a career-high and Yankee best 53 in 2004.

5. Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young Award. He did finish second once, third three times, and fifth once in Cy Young balloting. He finished as high as ninth in AL MVP voting in 2004 and 2005.

6. “I save games, they save lives. That’s what real heroes are all about.” — Mariano Rivera, who gave his 2001 Rolaids “Relief Man” award to FDNY.

7. When Jackie Robinson’s #42 was retired in 1997, players who were wearing #42 at that time were allowed to keep it until they retired. Fittingly, Rivera is the only one left. He’s worn it alone since 2003.

8. Mo once claimed his most memorable moment came in 2003, when he pitched three scoreless innings against the Red Sox before Aaron Boone homered to win Game 7 of the ALCS.

9. Rivera’s post-season numbers are off the charts. In addition to his 42 saves, Mariano has an 8-1 record and a microscopic 0.70 ERA in playoff competition, covering 141 innings.

10. Rivera has given up just two post-season home runs in 96 games, neither to a left-hand hitter. Sandy Alomar, Jr, of the Indians (1997) and Jay Payton of the Mets (2000) are the only two players to claim a post-season home run against Rivera.


Is this the worst Yankee team in 20 years?

Losing Mariano River may turn out to be the defining moment of the Yankee season.

In 1992, the New York Yankees finished with a 76-86 record, 20 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and tied for fourth place in the AL East. It was Buck Showalter’s first year at the helm

That year, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the 11th year in a row. Since 1992, they’ve missed the playoffs just twice.

That was 20 years ago. That was then and this is now, But a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, we may be looking at the worst Yankee team since 1992.

Here’s 10 reasons why:

1. No Mo — For 15 years, the Yankees have had the biggest security blanket in the history of baseball. Then Mariano Rivera injured his knee shagging fly balls in Kansas City. No more. No Mo.

2. RISP means RIP — Yankees routinely get into scoring position, then die at second and/or third base. Worst in the majors this month in hitting with runners in scoring position.

3. Warning track power — They’re not playing A-Rod $30 million a year to be a singles hitter. The ball doesn’t explode off his bat they way it did a few years ago. The days of 35 homers, 120 RBIs are history.

4. CC and pray — Reloaded in the off-season, the Yankee rotation was supposed to be a plus. But outside of CC Sabathia there are a lot of inconsistencies, older arms and question marks.

5. HR or bust — Only once all year have the Yankees won a game in which they didn’t hit a home run. Only twice this year have they won a game in which they scored less than five runs.  Which leads to….

6. Slow stripes — Without Brett Gardner, the Yankees are plodding along, showing their age. It’s pretty much station to station. There’s very little little ball in the Bronx.

7. Tex mess — Mark Teixeira is a wreck. He’s battling a bronchial illness, his average has gone down each year he’s been a Yankee, and he absolutely refuses to hit against a shift.

8. Home groan pitching — Been an issue for many years. Hughes, Nova, Joba, the Killer Bs…and they let the best one, Ian Kennedy, get away. The Yankees haven’t developed a Cy Young winner since Ron Guidry in 1978.

9. Joe must go — In the Steinbrenner-Martin salad days, George would have already fired and re-hired Billy. If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs with the highest payroll in baseball, Girardi will be on the hot seat in New York.

10. Injuries — Not an excuse, but the Yankees have been hit hard by injuries. Mariano, David Robertson, Michael Pinieda, Gardner, Joba, that’s a fifth of the roster right there.


10 Cool Facts About Yankee Savior Rivera

Sometime soon, maybe by the time you read this, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, will pass Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list.

Rivera has 600 saves in his career, and 42 more in the post-season. Do the math, that’s almost four full seasons of getting the last out in a Yankees win.

Perhaps the most indispensable Yankee over the past 15 years….heck perhaps the most valuable player in baseball during that time….Rivera is a Hall of Fame lock.

Here are 10 cool facts about Mariano Rivera:

1. Since he became the Yankee closer in 1997 (taking over for the departed John Wetteland), Rivera has been remarkably consistent.  He’s had at least 28 saves for 15 straight seasons.

2. Rivera actually started 10 games in 1995, his rookie year. before the Yankees realized he was born to be a reliever. That year he had a 5-3 record to go with a 5.51 ERA.

3. Since then, Rivera’s ERA has been above 3.00 just once (3.15 in 2007). His career low came in 2005, when he recorded a 1.38 ERA. Overall, he’s 75-57 with a 2.22 ERA. IMG_0343

4. Mariano has led the American League in saves three times — 45 (1999), 50 (2001) and a career-high and Yankee best 53 in 2004.

5. Mariano Rivera has never won a Cy Young Award. He did finish second once, third three times, and fifth once in Cy Young balloting. He finished as high as ninth in AL MVP voting in 2004 and 2005.

6. “I save games, they save lives. That’s what real heroes are all about.” — Mariano Rivera, who gave his 2001 Rolaids “Relief Man” award to FDNY.

7. Only one player in baseball, wears #42 — Mariano Rivera. That number was retired in 1997 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s “color barrier.” However players who were wearing #42 at that time were allowed to keep it until they retired. Fittingly, Rivera is the only one left.

8. Mo claims his most memorable moment came in 2003, when he pitched three scoreless innings against the Red Sox before Aaron Boone homered to win Game 7 of the ALCS.

9. Rivera’s post-season numbers are off the charts. In addition to his 42 saves, Mariano has an 8-1 record and a microscopic 0.71 ERA in playoff competition.

10. Rivera has given up just two post-season home runs in 94 games, neither to a left-hand hitter. Sandy Alomar, Jr, of the Indians (1997) and Jay Payton of the Mets (2000) are the only two players to claim a post-season home run against Rivera.


Another Reason for Baby Boomers to Feel Old

Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, the oldest man in major league baseball, is one of only five active players born in the 60s.

Baby Boomers are always being reminded how old they are. Born in the 50s. Growing up in the 60s.

Well, here’s another reminder. Only five active major league players were born in the 60s.

Of the five, only two were born in the United States and one each in Canada, Panama and Venezuela. Three were born when LBJ was president, the younger two in the early years of the Nixon Administration. Two were born in the months following Woodstock in late 1969.

Boston’s ageless knuckleballer, Tim Wakefield, is the oldest player in the majors. Wakefield, 44, was born August 2, 1966, in Melbourne, Florida.  He has 193 career wins, 173 with the Red Sox. He trails only Cy Young and Roger Clemens (tied at 192) on the all-time Red Sox win list.

Shortstop Omar Vizquel, born April 24, 1967, has 2,808 hits, 401 stolen bases, and a .273 lifetime batting average. An 11-time Gold Glove winner, Vizquel is a native of Caracas, Venezuela.

Matt Stairs was born February 27, 1968, in St. John, New Brunswick. He has 265 home runs, more than any other active player born in the 60s.

Journeyman lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, who has toiled for nine teams (including the Mariners twice) in a 20-year career, was born October 24, 1969, in Waco Texas.

And the great Mariano Rivera, born November 29, 1969, in Panama City, Panama, is the youngest active player on the short list. Rivera has 571 saves in his career, just 30 behind all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman.