Three days to go before the Yankees take the field again for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. I know that it’s a good thing that the other teams are still playing while the Yankees are resting, but I am getting anxious. Let’s just get on with the games already.
But while we wait, let’s revisit a notable moment from Yankee history. On this date 23 years ago, Derek Jeter launched a ball toward the 314 ft. sign during Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS…and the rest is history. The video of the Jeffrey Maier Home Run can be seen here:
It’s still just so incredible. Armando Benitez ran to the right-field wall from the mound and still ranks as the second angriest Oriole at the time. An all-time moment, though we won’t consider the validity of the home run or not. The ump called what he called, and the rest is history (and a pretty good inspiration for our logo/name, if I do say so myself). Anyway, on to the news of the day.
We have start times! Well, some of them. MLB announced the CS schedule through Sunday, which covers Games 1 and 2 of both series. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees have the primetime slot on both nights. Here it is, laid out:
- Game 1: Saturday, October 12 at 8:08 pm
- Game 2: Sunday, October 13 at 8:08 pm
The ALCS will conflict with the NLCS on Saturday but also again on Tuesday and Wednesday. How those games get scheduled will be interesting. I always bet for the Yankees to be in prime time, but if the Dodgers advance tonight, expect to see the Yankees get a few earlier starts. That’s what happened in 2017, but who the hell knows? Time will tell, as they say.
ALCS Roster Updates
Aaron Boone held a press conference today and there was quite a bit of news to come out of it. I’m going to treat this like we would in a game thread, in bulleted fashion. Most of it is self-explanatory:
- Both Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman will be healthy for the ALCS, Boone confirmed, per Bryan Hoch. No real surprises there, as that’s what we’ve heard all week. A source told Jon Morosi confirmed to him that Britton will be on the roster, in case you wanted further confirmation. Huzzah.
- We are doing this again: the Yankees are still debating whether they will take 12 or 13 pitchers on the ALCS roster. Last round they took 12, and I expect that to happen again, but the ALCS is both longer and has three consecutive games, so who knows. Again, time will tell.
- They also have not decided who will start Game 1 of the series, either. All three of the top arms will be fully rested–that’s the beauty of the sweep, baby–but I think this is hogwash. I don’t think the Yanks can go wrong, as you can make a genuine argument for all three to get the ball, to be clear. But they absolutely know, they’re just not saying it publicly yet. And why should they?
- CC Sabathia threw a bullpen session today, per Hoch, and Boone said he “frankly looked good.” So that’s good! We love CC Sabathia, don’t we folks? We’re hearing more and more about what an incredible job he’s doing. If he gets the nod, my guess is that he’ll replace Tyler Lyons and will be used as a LOOGY of sorts.
- Finally, Aaron Hicks. We heard yesterday that he was healthy and looking to rejoin the team, and today Aaron Boone said he is “strongly considering” him for many different roles. I love me some Aaron Hicks, but it feels mighty imposing to throw a guy who hasn’t played since August 3 into the ALCS mix. But hey, I trust the Yankees here whatever they do. If I had to guess, it comes down to Maybin’s slot. There’s probably no harm in keeping him on the roster as a backup OF option. And besides, Hicks is awesome and a very talented player. More of those on the roster, please.
Brett Gardner really is a fierce competitor. I love him so much and hope the Yankees bring him back next year on a one-year deal and every year until he wants to hang ’em up. I know I said it wasn’t a big deal–and I don’t think it was–Gardner said that this about the last weekend in Texas before the playoffs:
“I don’t want to say I was concerned. It just didn’t feel great and that’s not how you want to be playing when it’s almost the most important time of the season. You want to be at your best and I wasn’t sure we were.’’
I love that the players have this attitude, and I’m sure a perspective like this is why Brett is such a valued clubhouse presence. Check out the whole story here in today’s Post. For the 800th time this season, and I’m going to say it a bit louder for the folks in the back this time, Brett Gardner Forever.
We’ve heard variations of this tale before, but Randy Miller of NJ.com has a nice and interesting piece describing the Yankees’ pursuit of DJ LeMahieu last offseason that is worth checking out. I think it’s interesting for a few reasons, most notably because Cashman repeatedly says that he had to be persuaded by others in the front office, like Assistant GM Michael Fishman. He also got help from Theo Epstein, GM of the Cubs:
Eventually Cashman was talked into at least asking others that he trusted about LeMahieu. He talked with Yanks special GM assistant Jim Hendry, who was the Chicago Cubs GM for the first part of LeMahieu’s rookie season in 2011. He talked to Cubs current GM Theo Epstein who replaced Hendry in July 2011 and traded LeMahieu to the Rockies that December for veteran third baseman Ian Stewart.
Interesting to hear how this all came about, and I think it’s cool of Cashman to not take all of the credit. We are guilty of it here and it is easy enough to do, but teams’ front offices are made up of much more than just the top executives. There are a lot of people who make this stuff work, so it’s cool to see that reflected (even if the names here with the Yanks are still relative big-wigs as these things go).
The Yankees’ latest prospect phenom, Jasson Dominguez, got a nice write up (subs req’d) in Baseball America today from lead writer Ben Badler. He’s a trusted prospect source and not one to levy praise lightly, so I suggest you read this piece if you have a login and like being excited about future Yankees. I mean:
It’s easy to gush about Dominguez’s tools and athleticism. Deservedly so. But underneath it all is a baseball rat. Watching him longer, it’s clear that Dominguez is more than just a raw athlete, but a relatively polished baseball player for 16, someone who has been playing in games his whole life. He has developed a clock for the game and a baseball IQ that’s advanced for his age and could help him move quickly, like the paths his compatriots Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Wander Franco have taken.
Sounds good! No pressure on the 16-year-0ld, nope. None at all. Jasson got a whopping $5.1 million signing bonus, so he’s one we’d all be following closely anyway, but yeesh. Every single thing you read about this kid just makes him even more impressive. Exciting!
Black Sox Revisited
100 years ago this year was the infamous Black Sox scandal that involved throwing the 1919 World Series. We all know bits and pieces of that history through pop culture and from loving baseball, but MLB historian John Thorn penned a fascinating history of the scandal and its implications for the game that is just catnip for me, personally, as a history buff with a baseball problem. Check it out here.
He goes deep into the context behind the scandal, corrects some common myths, and provides a thorough history of a watershed moment for American culture. Could not possibly recommend it more.
There are two Game 5s today! The Cardinals are absolutely slaughtering the Braves right now–I can’t say I feel sorry for the Braves after their afternoon earlier–and the other will begin at 8:37 in Los Angeles. I am very excited for that last one. Stephen Strasburg, Playoff Extraordinaire, will take on Walker Buehler in Chavez Ravine in a winner-take-all matchup. Sounds great. Enjoy the baseball, everyone. Catch you tomorrow.