Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Race Paradigm: Hoods Matter

Here at Bomber Boulevard, I keep it all Yankees, all the time. But the recent events surrounding the Trayvon Martin case have left me dumbfounded; particularly the comments made by TV journalist, Geraldo Rivera. In case you've been hiding under a rock. Martin was the 17-year old high school student who was shot and killed by a "self-appointed" neighborhood watch patrolman in Sanford, FL. The patrolman, George Zimmerman, claims that he killed Martin in self-defense, but continuous investigating finds that Zimmerman may have committed murder or manslaughter. Adding even more fuel to an already "highly combustible" case, Rivera told a news outlet that he believes Trayvon was killed because he was wearing a hoodie; a part of the urban wardrobe that Rivera believes young minority men use to stylize themselves as gangsters and/or menaces.

Because members of the sports world in particular have taken note of this case and the comments made by Rivera, I thought it appropriate to bring a worthy, well-written article to you all in regarding the hoodie situation. I'm not going to impart my own opinion on this dynamic here; I could, but I'm not an analyst on the right and wrongs of society. I do care, however, about stories like this, when it is perceived that a young man's life is worth no more than the hoodie on his back.

Hoods Matter: How the classic hoodie became a conversation starter about youth, race and style in America

By Elena Romero

What originated as an American style for athletes in the 1930s has now become a symbol for all things unjust to some and the identifier of a “gangsta wannabe” for others.

The recent comments on Fox News by seasoned veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera about wearing hoodies has caused an instant knee-jerk reaction on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. “I think that the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” began the sensationalized under two-minute statements by Rivera, who has lost his touch since his much-hyped 1986 TV special The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault. While to the average person, Rivera’s comments seemed ridiculous, the reality is that he speaks for a particular group for people in our country. It’s a sad fact that some people whether white, black, Latino or other, particularly of the baby boom generation, view young men of color as hoodlums by merely what they wear. Don’t judge a book by its cover does not really apply when it comes to addressing the hip-hop generation. Typical hip-hop attire –whether its baggy jeans, untucked button-front shirts, oversized logoed t-shirts, fitted baseball caps, loosely-laced construction boots, or a classic hoodie, have recently come under attack.

Like many music rebellions prior to hip-hop that frustrated adults, urban fashion has had its share of controversy. There are plenty of people and institutions that have voiced their opinions about the extreme “sloppy” look of hip-hop from Bill Cosby, President Barack Obama to Sen. Eric Adams of Brooklyn who ran the “Stop the Sag” campaign in 2010. At the prestigious Morehouse College in Atlanta, their “Renaissance men” were told as of October 2009 to not wear “caps, do-rags and/or hoods in classrooms, the cafeteria, or other indoor venues” as well as “saggy pants on campus” per the Morehouse College Appropriate Attire Policy. Other colleges, such as Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. also enforced a similar policy.

Hoods or hoodies, more commonly referred to, can be traced back to Medieval Europe and here in America to the Great Depression when it was in full swing. Hoodies, once meant for protection from the cold weather for athletes, have transcended into a staple for youth in hip-hop, skate, snowboard and other subcultures. Unfortunately, hoodies have become a scapegoat for some real problems facing our society. In America, our country is far from being healed of racial and gender discrimination, inequalities and prejudice as demonstrated by the sentiments felt at the Million Hoodie March that took place in New York’s Union Square and throughout similar marches conducted. The “stylizing of hoodlum wannabes” as Rivera stated provokes an “instant reflective action” on how men of color and teens are naturally perceived. It’s time to set the record straight. A hoodie is no more of a reason why Martin was killed or why someone should be followed than what Martin was holding in his hands—a pack of Skittles and bottle of ice tea. “Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid’s wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s the kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta. People are going to perceive you as a menace.”

UK conservative leader David Cameron addressed some of the real issues at the Centre for Social Justice in 2006. “The fact is that the hoodie is a response to a problem, not a problem in itself. We – the people in suits – often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters. But, for young people, hoodies are often more defensive than offensive. They’re a way to stay invisible in the street. In a dangerous environment the best thing to do is keep your head down, blend in, don’t stand out.”

Adults actually need to look beyond the hood. The problem isn’t the garment, but our mentality.

Elena Romero is a former fashion journalist for DNR and WWD. She is currently a media lecturer at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and at the City College Center for Worker Education. Romero and the author of the forthcoming book, “Free Stylin’: How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry.”

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

According to Joba...

Getty Images
Joba Chamberlain spoke to the media yesterday before last night's game, and made some interesting comments regarding his ankle injury.

What we know now is how the injury happened. Joba and his son Karter were jumping back-and-forth between what we can assume were several trampolines. On Joba's final jump, as he tried to "take off," he could "feel" that something happened. He doesn't explain whether it was a pull or a snap, only that he grabbed his leg and said, "Ah, man!"

Realizing something was wrong with his ankle, Joba said that he just sat down (on the trampoline), put his leg up, and called the paramedics. Once he arrived at the hospital, he continued to make more calls; one need not assume that one of those calls was to Brian Cashman.

Joba went on to tell the media that one of the things that bothered him was the report that he had lost a large amount of blood, and that his injury was "life threatening." "It's one of those things where I know there wasn't a lot [the media] had out there when it happened, but it's one of those things that bothered me too, you know, people are calling me asking if it was life threatening and I was going to lose my foot. There was no bone even out of my ankle. It was just something that bothered me, to have my family go through that."

Clearly Joba believes that media speculation is where the story of his injury being life threatening began. Interesting. Even more interesting was his claim that there was no bone out of his ankle. This would mean that there was no "open dislocation," but according to Cashman, that's exactly what it was. He says he confirmed with Joba's doctors that the skin on his ankle was indeed "broken," making this an "open dislocation" and that Joba did lose blood. However, the injury was never life threatening. A member of the press, however, did clarify that the person--who works at the recreation center--that made the 911 call told the operator that Joba lost a lot of blood. Joba said that he tried to calm the person down, noting that he recognized how scared this person was at the sight of his blood.

Joba also insisted that the injury wasn't very painful, and that he will continue to do what he can as far as his rehab from the Tommy John surgery. He pointed out that he can still work on his upper body, and will put a plan in place to make that happen.

Another member of the media asked Joba what he learned from this experience. His immediate response was, "Never question being a father." He went on to say that he feels like he let the team down with this injury, but upon reflection, he realizes that his role as a dad to Karter is his most important.

"This game is very important to me; it allows me to do a lot of things. But my son is my pride and joy, and I think that was the biggest thing, is to don't be so hard on yourself and realize what you were doing. You were trying to be a great dad."

So what's left now is to wait and see how quickly Joba recovers from the injury and whether he will actually pitch sometime this year. Cashman refused to answer questions about the team's option to void Joba's contract, stating that what happened to Joba was an aaccident; the implication being that this wasn't something Joba did on purpose. To drive his point home, Cashman recalled former Yankee pitcher Kevin Brown punching a wall as no accident.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Rollercoaster

The past week in Yankeeland has had more peaks and valleys than any we've seen in a very long time. Great news was later overshadowed by not-so great news, and vice versa. The season is almost upon us, and I just want for everything to be on course when the Yankees take the field in their first, official game. Here are some of the big headlines from the past week.

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Joba could pitch - News of Joba Chamberlain's ankle injury spread like a wildfire, leaving some folks feeling sympathetic, and some outraged that he would put himself in a position to be hurt. Amidst talk of Joba possibly being out for the season, Joe Girardi "lightened things up" a bit with his assessment that Joba could possibly pitch come July or later. Because the open dislocation of Joba's ankle left no microfractures, Girardi believes Joba could pitch this year, barring any infection of the ankle area. Joba was released from the hospital Sunday, and will be in a cast for six weeks.

Andy still grooving - Andy Pettitte's comeback has seen much success thus far. He was so impressive in his first bullpen session last week, that he's already thrown one live batting practice and is expected to throw his second today. It's common for pitchers to throw in a game after a second LBP, so it will be interesting to see if Andy sneaks one in before the season starts. Girardi has already been vocal in saying that he believes he will.

Ibanez' coming out party - It's been a ghastly Spring Training so far for Raul Ibanez. Heading into Saturday's game against Detroit, Ibanez was hitting to an .054 AVG with a .103 OBP. But he managed to finally show some power, and connected on a 2-run shot in the Yankees' 4-2 win. Don't get excited yet; it was Ibanez' only hit of the game. He went 1-for-3, and boosted his AVG to a mere .075

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A-Rod gets plunked - As usual, there's not a month during the baseball season where Alex Rodriguez won't feel the back-end of a fastball pitch inside. It would amaze me more if Alex were to escape getting hit, than him actually playing 162 games this year. Seriously. He was drilled on Sunday by a 95 mph pitch from Detroit's Bryan Villareal, but is okay, and is expected to play in tonight's game.

Garcia makes his mark after trade rumor - The battle for a rotation spot won't be easily decided if Freddy Garcia has anything to say about it. Reports of the Yankees actively trying to trade The Chief came out Friday, and Garcia answered with a stellar performance in Saturday's win against Detroit. In 4.1 innings, Garcia allowed only one hit. no runs and struck out four. Yes, if you were betting on who would be pushed out of the rotation, the easy money would be placed on Garcia. But he's giving the Yankees reason to maybe reconsider making any moves until Pettitte's return forces a decision.

Associated Press
The Captain returns - Derek Jeter returned to play on Friday against the Minnesota Twins after rehabbing from a calf injury.  He went 1-for-2 against the Twins, then went 2-for-3 on Sunday against Detroit. Looks like The Capatian is doing just fine. David Robertson also made only his second appearance of the Spring on Sunday, after missing three weeks following a foot injury. He pitched one inning, striking out one and allowing no runs.

Player dealings - The Yankees made several moves last week, optioning players back to Triple-A and reassigning others to minor league camp. Among the notables were Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Ramiro Pena and Brandon Laird; all optioned to Scranton Wilkes-Barre. The New York Post's George King III reported Sunday that the Phillies are interested in acquiring Pena, who would fill in for the ailing Chase Utley at second base.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Friday, March 23, 2012

Joba, Joba, Joba

Associated Press
Ugh! The news of Joba Chamberlain's dislocated ankle surgery hit like a ton of bricks today, and it makes me wonder, "What more could possibly happen to this kid?" Just when it seems like he's progressing and getting himself back on a track...bam! A setback.

While I usually don't take kindly to athletes getting hurt outside of the rigors of their sport, I am in no way upset at Joba. Word around the blogosphere is that he dislocated his ankle while playing on a trampoline with his son, and I see nothing wrong with that; I'm sure that whenever he recovers, that practice will be one that he stays away from. For sure, there are many of you out that who deem Joba's latest incident as "foolish" or think he " should have known better." Well, life is trial and error, folks, and I believe that if he ever thought there was a possibility that he could sustain this bad an injury, he never would have done this. One of the things about him that I've always loved is the close relationship and attentiveness of which he bestows upon his son, and I won't condemn him for spending quality time with his child, in whatever capacity.

Perhaps had this injury taken place while he was in the "non-baseball activity" stage of his rehab from Tommy John surgey, the blow would be less crushing. He was well ahead of schedule as far as returning, and according to reports, had excellent bullpen sessions this Spring. He was so close, and well on his way to taking the mound in June. And now, he faces being out for the entire season; a season which I felt in my gut was going to propel him back to the awesomeness of his 2007 late-season campaign.

I wish Joba the speediest of recoveries and pray that this latest incident will not do any damage to his spirit. It is a very hard thing to stay positive when the chips continue to stack themselves against you. But perhaps rest, and time to reflect will make him come back stronger than ever. It's the best anyone can hope for.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good Signs From Last Night's Win

Associated Press
The Yankees offense exploded last night for 10 runs in a 10-3 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Joe Girardi put all his starters on the field, except Derek Jeter, who was replaced by Eduardo Nunez. Jeter continues to rehab from a calf injury and may be available to return as early as Friday. Nick Swisher left the game in the third inning after re-aggravating his groin pull while running to first base on a single.

But the Yankees continued to roll, and if you're a fanatic like me, you had much to be pleased with besides the runs scored. All-in-all, everyone looked great last night, and there's reason to believe that this team is ready for the start of the season. Here are some of my observations from last night's game:

Associated Press
A-Rod continues Spring assault - Alex Rodriguez was the x-factor in last night's game, going 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs, a walk and a run scored. Alex is swinging the bat exceptionally well, and is moving much better on the basepaths.

Robbie stellar at the plate - Going 0-for-3 is nothing to be proud of, but Robinson Cano still gave fans a reason to believe that when the season starts, he'll be back to doing what he does so well: hit. Robbie connected on 3 of his four at-bats last night and hit the ball extremely well, but with no luck. It happens, but what's important is that Robbie is seeing the ball well and making contact. He also worked a walk last night, refusing to swing on sliders low and away from Pittsburgh's Jo-Jo Reyes. The walk would eventually result in a run scored.

Curtis was simply "Grand" - The more Curtis Granderson plays, the better he gets. It's just that simple. Grandy is having a fantastic Spring, and got right to it last night with a long ground-ruled double in his first at-bat. He followed that with a single, 2 walks, and 3 runs scored.

Pineda rebounds for the "W" - Michael Pineda had a terrible first inning last night, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk; one of the hits being a home run. But he quickly made adjustments to the placement of his fastball and was "lights out" in his next two innings, eventually getting the win. One thing to note: Pineda still has yet to get his fastball to 95 mph.

Associated Press
Mo is Mo - Mariano Rivera got outs so quickly last night, that I can barely remember seeing him at all. One inning, 9 pitches, 7 strikes, one strikeout. Enough said.

Andy wows Martin - At the last minute yesterday, Russell Martin volunteered to catch Andy Pettitte's first bullpen session. According to Martin: "That's as good of a bullpen as I've caught all spring -- from anyone." Sounds like Andy is in better form than any of us probably ever thought. I'm predicting a late April start.

Brett adding to his arsenal - Brett Gardner went 1-for-3 last night on an impressive bunt to right, which moved the first baseman from the bag and allowed him to score. YES Network's Jack Curry reported that Gardy has been working with Dewayne Wise, who apparently is an excellent bunter. Gardy is planning on bunting being a big part of his game this season.

(Russell Martin quote courtesy of Bryan Hoch, beat writer for

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Andy's Arrival Sparks Warning From Girardi

Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News
Andy Pettitte officially arrives in Spring Training camp today, and it has apparently sparked some "words of wisdom" from Yankees manager, Joe Girardi. If you read my last post on Andy's call-in to ESPN's The Michael Kay Show, and if you're a Yankee fan with half-a-brain, you know that he will be part of the starting rotation. This leaves the dilemma of who will be in and who will be in the bullpen once Andy makes his 2012 debut, and Girardi has put his pitchers vying for a coveted rotation spot on notice. The following is an excerpt from Mark Feinsand's piece last night in the Daily News:

“If you don’t want somebody to take your job, pitch that way; it’s really simple,” Girardi said. “Let’s say the job was given to you and you were struggling; they’re going to look for someone to give the job to. You have to produce. That’s the world we live in in New York. It’s not like, ‘You’re this guy and we’re going to give you 20 starts no matter what happens.’ We don’t live in that world here.”

Clearly, these remarks are aimed at Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have already been guaranteed their spots in the rotation. So what does it mean for each pitcher individually?

Michael Pineda - He must get some speed back on his fastball. His once mid-high 90's fastball has only reached a speed higher than 92 mph once so far this Spring. It is not Pineda's style to paint corners, an ability that has helped other great pitchers in the past who lost velocity on their fastball (think Mike Mussina). So, he'll need to work in getting his fb above 95, while trying to make improvements on his changeup, a necessary third pitch that he'll need to be a successful strikeout pitch in the AL East.

Ivan Nova - Nova has to forget about blaming his catcher for his woes, and get back to throwing the changeup that made him a success last season. He also has to improve on the command of his fastball. Hitters are getting ahead of him in the count as he continues to miss his spots. With just 4 starts under his belt, Nova has given up 5 runs in two of them (Mar. 3 against Toronto; Mar.18 against Baltimore) and has a combined 11 earned runs and 16 hits in just 12.2 IP. What seemed like a sure thing that Nova would be in the rotation, has now become riddled with doubt.

Freddy Garcia - I guess for Garcia, it will be up to him to maintain the craftiness of his 88 mph fastball. He has what Pineda lacks - the ability to paint corners. If he can come back and repeat his performance from last season, I believe the Yankees will make him a starter. Bad news for the youngsters, especially since Garcia's made it clear to the Yankees that he's not looking to be traded, and intends on competing for a slot.

Phil Hughes - Hughes has actually looked very good this Spring. After a shaky first start against Pittsburgh on March 6, Hughes rebounded greatly in his last two, and pitched to an  ERA of 1.08 when the Yankees beat the Nationals last Friday. Hughes appears to have improved on his pitch mechanics and the velocity of his fastball. He also seems to be using his changeup more as a strikeout pitch, which is reminiscent of his stellar campaign in 2010. If he continues to pitch well, I don't see how the Yankees will justify putting him in the bullpen.

Which leads to my opinion that the 5th spot in the rotation could be a juggling act for Girardi. He's already said that the team has no plans of employing a 6-man rotation, and it wouldn't look good for the Yankees if Pineda, with all the hype surrounding his trade, were to lose his spot to Garcia. Girardi may have to consider the PR aspect of his decision, and opt to make the 5th spot a platoon position. I could be reaching on this, but it is feasible. We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out once Andy takes the mound.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Monday, March 19, 2012

Andy Talks His Return With Michael Kay

Anthony J. Causi/New York Post
Andy Pettitte called into ESPN's The Michael Kay Show this afternoon, and spoke about his decision to return back to pinstripes. In case you missed it, here are some excerpts from the discussion:

On how his return came about:

"Me and [Brian Cashman] spoke in December and he told me if I was interested in coming back, he wanted me to know that the Yankees would be very interested in bringing me back. I was like, 'Okay, well I'm gonna have to think about this and pray about this and talk to [my wife] Lauren, and just see if she would even think about considering doing this.' So, we just thought about it for a few days and ended up calling back and saying hey...I wanna do it.

"I just started working out and trying to see how I felt and...we continued talking with the Yankees and they offered me a very nice contract to come back in January, but I was nowhere near at a place where I felt like just even physically or mentally I had done enough work to say, 'Man, I can maybe do this again,' you know. So I could not commit to them; I didn't want to say 'Of course I can do it; you're offering me a lot of money...I'll just do it.' I wanted to make sure I felt like I was going to be healthy and mentally I'd be able to just...grind through a season and mentally be in there.

"I ended up going down to Spring Training and finally got to the place after throwing bullpens here at the house...where I felt like this was something I could literally do if the Yankees were still interested in me trying to do it."

On his delayed decision costing him money that eventually went to Hiroki Kuroda:

"[I cost myself] just a little bit [of money] {laughing}. I think anybody that has followed my career [knows]it's never been about the money for me. To a certain degree it is, but [these were] things that me and my wife and my family have literally prayed about since December, and I just asked God to just lead me where he wants me to. It's really just about being in the right place where I need to be right now."

On the surprise of coming back:

"I really didn't think it was gonna happen. I had my life [at home with my family] planned out and I've had to cancel things. I just didn't think it would happen,'s the same situation like it was last year. I just know in my heart that this is the right thing to do. So we'll see what happens."

On his comeback not being a success:

"Well, that's okay. Of course you always think about that a little bit. A few of my friends have asked me that. It's like, 'You went out on top, this or that.' That was never important to me; to go out and feel like 'Oh [I was] great.' I'm not scared to come back. It may not turn out great, but I feel like it's the right thing for [me] to do right now. In my stage of life, I guess, I kinda look at things a little differently. But I'm not scared to come back and fail, and I can tell you, I don't think I'm gonna fail or wouldn't come back to do this."

On the timetable for his return:

"I would say right around [May 1st]. Me and the organization, we talked and were like 'Don't even put a timetable on it' because you just don't know what's gonna come up. I went a long time without working out December I started cranking it back up. So, I'm gonna have to go through some stuff, there's no doubt about it, but I'm feeling really, really good right now and I would imagine [the Yankees are] probably going to back me off a little bit. I really don't even know what to expect; I would just say that if everything went absolutely perfect, I would think [May 1st] would be a good date for us to shoot at."

 On what he missed most not playing last year:

"I missed the guys, just because it's fun being around those guys. I was so engulfed in my family, I only watched a couple of games, really. I didn't miss it that much...and maybe that's why I've got such a hunger [for the game] right now.

On returning being to pad his Hall of Fame stats:

"That has nothing to do with it. I think that whatever I've done...people are going to have their minds made up [about my Hall chances] one way or the other. Like I said, I don't know what to expect. I think I'm gonna be as good as I was, but we're gonna find out." 

On talking Mariano Rivera out of retirement:

"I don't know; we have to get through this year {laughing}. I wouldn't try to talk him out of it because I had an opportunity to go home, and I know how awesome it is to be with your family. As a man, you gotta do what you feel like you gotta do, and really any advice or any opinion of anybody else is what it's an opinion. It's advice. You...take it with a grain of salt."

On whether he's starting or coming out of the bullpen:

"I'm a starter. I'm coming back to start, I'm gonna get in shape to start, I'm gonna get stretched out to 100 pitches and we'll be ready to rock and roll."

(Quotes courtesy of The Michael Kay Show, 1050 AM ESPN Radio)

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Best of the Yankee Weekend Blogosphere

Associated Press
Good morning, fanatics! The Yankees split results this weekend with a 6-3 win against the Houston Astros on Saturday, and a 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles last night. Robinson Cano left last night's game in the sixth inning after taking a hit on his left hand while swinging at a pitch from Baltimore's Troy Patton. X-rays on Cano's hand were negative, and the injury was ruled a contusion.

Besides the injury, Cano made more news this weekend by hitting his first home run of the Spring Saturday; a 3-run blast that would be the Yankees game winner. If you missed any Yankees action or news from the weekend, here is some of the best coverage from around the blogosphere:

 Over at Bleeding Yankee Blue, The Mighty Casey discusses why Andy Pettitte provides stability and experience to the Yankees pitch staff.

Brad V. of An A-Blog for A-Rod discusses David Robertson's successful bullpen session as he rehabs from the bone bruise in his foot.

At Bronx Baseball Daily, Rob Abruzzese breaks down which players have been cut from the Yankees roster thus far; most notably Manny Banuelos.

Brien Jackson of It's About the Money, Stupid, looks at how the signing of Andy Pettitte will affect Freddy Garcia.

The Yankee Analysts' Mike Jaggers-Radolf, challenges you to a "blind test," to choose whether you would pick Player A or Player B. (Players are of course revealed toward the end of the post; be sure not to look ahead!).

Andrew GM of Pinstripe Alley recounts David Cone's comeback at age 40 with the Mets in response to Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement.

River Avenue Blues' Mike Axisa gives a brief injury update on Yankees prospect Slade Heathcott.

At Yankee Fans Unite, Brian D. gives his take on why the old Yankee Stadium should still be the Yankees' home.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Friday, March 16, 2012

Andy Pettitte Is Back!!!

Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
Yes, fanatics, our beloved Andy Pettitte is back!!!! He has agreed to a minor league deal worth $2.5 million. I think it's safe to say that he will be a starter in the Yankees rotation at some point this season, which opens up a lot of questions on what the statuses of Phil Hughes, Michael Pineda and Freddy Garcia will be down the road. I'll keep you posted on what develops on that front.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. Andy is one of my favorite Yankees of all time, and I was absolutely crushed when he retired last season. You can read my homage to Andy, here. I love him, and am so glad that he's back. Welcome home, Andy!!! Here's the short article on his return from the Daily News:

TAMPA – The Core Four appeared to be down to two this season with Jorge Posada’s retirement, but that number jumped back to three on Friday.

Andy Pettitte ended his one-year retirement, agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Yankees worth $2.5 million plus incentives.

“He’s coming back,” a source said.

The deal was first reported by the YES Network.

Pettitte returned to camp earlier this spring, and though he indicated that he planned to remain retired, his three-day stint as a guest instructor “got his juices flowing,” a second source said, prompting him to put the pinstripes back on as a member of the team.

According to the source, Pettitte and the Yankees had been speaking about a possible reunion for weeks, but the trip to spring training cinched his decision.

“He got the itch,” the source said.

Pettitte was with the team Saturday in Orlando, throwing batting practice before the game with the Braves. That was the day the deal was finalized, as Hal Steinbrenner gave his permission to increase the budget to sign the 39-year-old who has won 240 games since 1995, 203 of them with the Yankees.

The Yankees currently have six starters competing for five spots in the rotation, though Freddy Garcia is out for a few days after being hit on his right hand by a line drive. Asked where Pettitte fits into the rotation, the source was uncertain.

"That’s Girardi’s problem,” the source said.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Tidbits: Cano, A-Rod, Betances, DH and Pineda

Fanatics! It's been a while, and I'm sure many were wondering where the hell have I been for the past two weeks. Well, I was sick for a "minute," and needed to step back a bit from doing anything, literally. Then computer issues, which are always a bummer, hampered my "ability" to post. Don't know why, but Blogger, which is the web host for Bomber Boulevard, is extremely sensitive, and if there are any "bugs" on my computer, it simply will not cooperate. Other programs might slow down, but Blogger just shuts!

But anyhoo, I'm back and looking forward to getting my baseball brain back into the game. I won't go over everything that has happened with the Yankees in the two weeks that I've been away; I'll just recap some of the more interesting stories that I've been paying close attention to thus far this Spring:

"Silent Spring" for Cano - Robinson Cano is having a very slow offensive start to Spring Training thus far, and I only bring this up because he's Robinson Cano. Nothing to really worry about here; we're constantly told that ST games are just "practice" games for players to prepare for the season, although, I believe thay take it more seriously than that. I'm sure Robbie is not too thrilled with his output nonetheless: .167 AVG on 3-for-18 hitting, .200 OBP, .167 SLG and .367 OPS. Robbie also has yet to connect on a home run. Again, nothing to really worry about here, as this is reminiscent of his ST start last year. Robbie is one of those players that knows how to "turn it on" once the season begins.

A-Rod Having Another Good Spring - While his offense has slowed a bit in the past week, Alex Rodriguez is putting together another fantastic ST campaign. A .333 AVG on 6-for-18 hitting, Alex has knocked in 4 runs in 7 games and is slugging at a .611 clip. This is a very good sign of Alex's health being on the right track. I have noticed, however, that he is a bit slow on the basepaths; perhaps there is still more work to be done in regards to his left knee. It was revealed recently that he not only sought advice from Kobe Bryant on the orthokine treatment, but also from Phoenix Suns star Grant Hill. Hill recommended that Alex work with Dr. Mike Clark, a physician who believes in strengthening the entire body rather than focusing on specific areas.

More Improvements for Pineda - Michael Pineda is having an impressive ST thus far, and is continuing to make more improvements by revamping his changeup. Great idea. But Pineda's fastball numbers are what need improving, and he'll need to get some speed back on his pitch if he wants to be successful against the arsenal of slugging in the AL East. Mark Feinsand of the Daily News wrote a piece yesterday on Pineda's fb "issue," which doesn't seem to be of much concern to him or the team. But it is still worth noting that he has yet to reach the mid-high 90's this Spring; radar numbers that made him such a threat with Seattle last season.

The Non-factor Is Branyan - So much for the potential "high reward" that would have come from Russell Branyan's "low risk" minor league contract. Branyan has been sidelined with his recurring back injury this Spring, and it's safe to say at this point, he will not be making the team out of ST. It was probably a done deal for Branyan once the Raul Ibanez signing was made official, but it would have been nice to see what he still had left with his bat.

Short, But Sweet for Betances - Dellin Betances has not seen much time on the mound thus far, but has still been very good. In his 4 innings pitched, he's struck out 2 batters and has yet to have a run recorded against him. He has in that short period also allowed 3 hits and 2 walks, but overall his growth continues to look good. I'm rooting for Betances to make at least one visit to the majors this season.

 The DH Edition: Ibanez and Jones - Neither of the Yankees Dh options are making a good case for themselves this Spring. Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones are hitting to a .094 AVG, combined! I reiterate, ST is for "practice," and now is the time for players to get all the kinks out and get into a groove. Let's hope that once the season begins, these two will find their stroke and solidify the middle of the lineup.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fans: A-Rod Biggest Story For Yankees In 2012

Associated Press
Fan Poll results are in, fanatics! As I expected would happen, the majority of you agreed with me, that Alex Rodriguez' health would be the Yankees biggest story this season. An obvious choice, A-Rod is still considered one of the best players in the game today, having more than the ability to completely affect the outcome of games.

While Robinson Cano has risen to become the Yankees best hitter and one of the most potent players in their lineup, A-Rod is still their best player. Finishing last year with slash numbers of .276/.362/.461, I'm projecting those numbers will change to approximately .295/.400/.560. These numbers slightly represent the median between his numbers in 2008 and 2009; all except his OBP (.400) numbers, which were very close in those two years, and were relatively close to the two years prior. I think these numbers are good enough to represent a great comeback season for A-Rod.

Associated Press
What I also expected from the Fan Poll, was that the starting rotation would come second in votes. On paper, the rotation appears to be the best in the East, but there are still many questions to be considered. How will CC Sabathia's weight loss affect his performance? Will Ivan Nova be able to repeat what he accomplished last year? Where will Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda be placed in the rotation, and how will they fare in New York? Can Phil Hughes get back to the pitcher he was in 2010 and regain speed on his fastball? Where will Freddy Garcia fit in? These are all questions that we can't know until months down the line, but are all suggestive of how well the Yankees will do this year.

Many thanks to those of you that participated in this poll. A new poll will be available soon.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Tidbits: Rivera, Cano, Branyan, Bobby V.

Associated Press
We're just one day away from the Yankees first exhibition game. They will host an afternoon game vs the University of South Florida's Bulls tomorrow. Starters will play about one to two innings in tomorrow's game; as common every Spring, you won't see Mariano Rivera in any exhibition games for about another two to three weeks. Mo only requires eight innings to be prepared for the season, so it's better to have him pitch closer to the end of Spring Training. Just though I'd run this little note by you guys. Here are some more tidbits from what's going on down in Tampa:

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, made his way through Yankee camp yesterday;  first player to greet and hug him was Mo.

Russell Branyan missed yesterday's practice due to back problems.

After today's practices, the team will head out on an "excursion" set up by Joe Girardi. This has become a ritual in Spring Training; a way to allow the vets and newbies to bond before the start of the season.

Robinson Cano is expected back in camp today, as he returns from attending his grandmother's funeral in the Dominican Republic.

Andy Pettitte showed up in Yankees camp yesterday, and tossed a few batting practice pitches to players, most notably Russell Martin (video below), whom he never had the opportunity to team up with. Pettitte and Mo spent time talking about the Yankees pitch staff .

Prospect catcher Austin Romine suffered a "setback" as a result of inflammation in his back. No timetable on when he'll return to the field.

Bobby Valentine corrected himself yesterday by acknowledging that the Yankees do practice the play that led to Derek Jeter's "Flip Play" in 2001.

Eric Chavez further confirmed the practice of the play, citing witnessing the practice in Spring Training last year.

(Video courtesy of Mark Feinsand of The Daily News)

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper