Wambach breaks leg

Terrible news for the US WNT yesterday. During their match against Brazil, their final tune-up for the Olympics, Abby Wambach suffered a broken leg in the 32nd minute and will miss the Olympics. Lauren Cheney will likely be her replacement, as she is the back-up forward.

This will make getting the gold a lot more difficult for the US, who relied on having Wambach’s speed and heading ability up top, as well as a person who was willing to take chances and was crafty in getting open.

Natasha Kai, Amy Rodriguez, and now Cheney will have to step up their game to make up for the loss of Wambach. Man, could this injury have come at a worse time? Just the game before they head off for Beijing? It’ll be interesting to see how the team handles this, but it is safe to say that the loss of Wambach does definitely bring down the level of their playing field.

Wambach will undergo surgery tomorrow, be on crutches for several weeks, and she will face about a 12-week recovering period.

Best. Line. Ever.

Okay, so I don’t normally watch the Home Run Derby. This year is my exception because it’s at Yankee Stadium. Am I the only one who broke into hysterics when the host told the crowd to, “Give me your best Bronx cheer?”

I tell you…he certainly doesn’t know a true Bronx cheer.

For God knows what reason, Jonathan Papelbon thinks he should close out tomorrow night’s All-Star Game. Ahem.

Welcome to Yankee Stadium ladies, gentlemen, and Papelbon. It’s the home of the Yankees. It houses the best closer in baseball history, and certainly the closer having the best season in either league. That guy…you know, what’s-his-name. Silly me. Mariano Rivera. If anyone deserves to close out Yankee Stadium, to close out the final All-Star Game that will be hosted there, and to close out a game where he will almost certainly not give up a run, Mo has to be on the mound.

It’s not just that the game is being hosted at his home park. Mo is having the better season. He has a chance to pick up a Cy Young award. During save situations this year, not only has he converted every last one of those, but he has only given up one run in save situations. He has given up five runs all year (all are ER) in 42.1 innings of work, good for a 1.06 ERA.

Then there’s Papelbon, who holds a 2.43 ERA in 40.2 innings of work. He has given up 16 runs (11 earned) and blown 4 saves.

Mo has done everything better than Papelbon this year: not blown a save, fewer homers, walks, hits, and runs allowed, worked more innings, has a lower ERA, and he has done this for his entire career. Papelbon has just come onto the scene in the last few years and feels that he should close out the All-Star Game because he earned it by closing out the World Series last year.

Welcome to reality. Mo has closed out more World Series games, has the lowest postseason ERA, he’s having the better season, and it’s his house. If there’s any doubt about who should close for the AL All-Star Team this year, this must be said: you gotta go to Mo.

I have been completely shoddy with updates, but I have to mention the passing of a great man and a great Yankee, Bobby Murcer. Murcer passed away today at 62 due to complications with brain cancer.

Having lost family to cancer and seeing many other important people in my life, whether they be members of my friend’s family or even my friends enduring cancer, I have the utmost respect for his courageous battle. He always gave hope to me that he would pull through.

Given my age, I was never around to see Bobby in his playing days, but I did get one chance to see him in uniform: Old Timer’s Day 2004. It was one of the most magical days for me, getting to see former Yankee greats in person. I remember Bobby getting one of the loudest standing ovations when the players were being named.

Thank you, Bobby Murcer, for the memories. The Yankee family will never forget you. Your charm in the broadcast booth will be greatly missed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the black arm bands return to the Yankee uniforms or for there to be an acknowledgement of his passing at the All-Star Game which, of course, will be at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankee family lost a great member of their family today. On this sad day, let’s take a look at one of the lighter moments with him and get Murcerized! For some reason, I’m not able to get the video to embed, so here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F19EqowZDjw

I’ll try to figure out what’s going on with the embedding problem as soon as I can so that you can watch the video here.

A few weeks ago, I took a look at the state of the Yankees’ pitching. Based on all of the injuries and fill-ins, I think it’s time for another look. Let’s start with the rotation, which is the most pressing need. I’ll post about the bullpen later.

Right now, the Yankees have 3 healthy starters that should be kept in the rotation in Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson currently comprise the 4 and 5 spot in the rotation. They are the two that I’d like to focus on first.

Rasner has not been the same pitcher that he was since he threw 8 innings against the Royals back on June 6. Since then, he has been hit hard in his starts and has not gone more than 5 innings, leading to extensive use of the bullpen. This could be attributed to the fact that he was playing a lower tier of ball clubs while he was dominating, and the sudden rise in competition has affected his performance. His command has also been a problem of late. He has been nibbling corners and not getting calls, leading to higher pitch counts, less effectiveness, and more trouble.

Sidney Ponson was plucked up after the Rangers released him due to behaviour concerns. He has been far from brilliant. Though he wriggled out of many jams while facing the Mets in his first start with the Yanks and managed to not give up a run, he displayed his normal self in his last start against his former club, getting tattooed for 7 earned runs in 5 innings. Ouch. Ponson gives up far more than a hit per inning (66.2 IP, 85 H)and has a scary K/BB ratio (30/23). That is not going to help keep the team in the game, regardless of how good you can be at working out of trouble…and Ponson ain’t.

So what do the Yankees do? They auditioned Dan Giese, who pitched brilliantly against the Reds, yet unsuccessfully against the Mets. He has since turned to long relief, where he seems to have found his niche. He’ll stay there. Of the healthy starters on their 40-man roster, their options lie in Kei Igawa, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Karstens, and Chase Wright.

Joe Girardi has already said that Ian Kennedy will have to earn his way back onto the roster, and his first start in AAA did not go brilliantly, though he only went 2 innings before the game was suspended. He’ll have to be stretched out a bit more and prove to be effective before he gets another call.

Kei Igawa? Um…moving on.

Jeff Karstens may be scary since he has a penchant for being a fly ball pitcher, but he has been dealing down in AAA. Karstens was originally going to be on the Yankees 25-man roster for Opening Day, but a groin pull hampered those plans. Lately though, Karstens has been dealing, not allowing more than 3 earned runs in his past 6 starts. Maybe the Yankees will discuss him as a potential replacement for Ponson, though Ponson is scheduled to start against the Rays in their upcoming series.

Then there is Chase Wright, who has pitched well in AA this year. However, he has also been hit by the injury bug. He didn’t have much in his last start either, so I don’t think he’s going to get a call.

This leads us to who is healthy in AAA but not on the 40-man roster. The only man that fits this description is Dan McCutchen. Since moving up from AA, McCutchen has hit a couple of bumps, but has worked through the growing pains. He has also thrown 2 complete games shutouts since he has moved up. I think that the Yankees want to give him a bit more time before they think of giving him the call, which is a good idea. You don’t want a kid to come up, get hit hard, and ruin him mentally. The Yankees are probably going to be extra careful when it comes to kids with brilliant stuff moving up after the lack of greatness that Kennedy and Hughes have shown this year.

What should the Yankees do, then? Well, they should DFA Ponson for a start. His season has been a fluke, and when he faces difficult competition, he is not going to get out of jams, especially with his stats. To replace him, they should play the hot hand and call up Jeff Karstens. Karstens isn’t brilliant, but he probably stands a better chance of keeping them in the game and he has MLB experience, an obvious plus.

If Rasner continues to struggle or Karstens flops, the Yankees would probably start to seriously consider bringing McCutchen up. Alan Horne has been battling injuries all season long and is back on the minor league DL, as is Jeff Marquez. Maybe Dan Giese will get another shot. Who knows? The Yankees will need to find another solution; that much is certain. They might make a trade (something I’m not very keen on doing, including for C.C. Sabathia). Phil Hughes won’t be back until August at least and Wang might be gone for the season. If they want to taste some action in October in a farewell to Yankee Stadium, they are going to need some better options in the rotation. It is time that they made a move. The competition in the East hasn’t been this tough for the Yankees in quite some time, so they are going to need the offense to wake up and good pitching to make it through the remainder of the season.

Covering the bases

Finally back with some sports updates. It has been a long time, so there’s no way I’m catching you up for that long. Here are some recent notes (only from today, since I’m feeling a bit lazy):

Yankees: Johnny Damon might be headed to the DL for the first time in his career. With the All-Star Break coming up, Brian Cashman has said that if he does go to the DL, the Yankees would likely bring up pitching to fill in at least until the All-Star Game.

Reds: Pitcher Josh Fogg was activated from the 15-day DL, but OF Norris Hopper found his way to the 15-day DL to take his place.

A’s: SS Bobby Crosby was placed on the 15-day DL (retroactive to July 3). IF Gregorio Petit was called up from AAA.

Indians: Old favourite Jeff Weaver signed a minor league contract.

US WNT: Pia Sundhage made a triumphant return to Sweden as the US beat the Swedes 1-0 on a goal by Carli Lloyd. Also returning to Sweden was keeper Hope Solo, who played in Sweden back in 2004 and served as their starting goalkeeper. Solo started in goal, but came out at the half to give Nicole Barnhart some minutes. The US was kept on their toes by some excellent defense put up by the Swedish side as they continue to tune up for the Olympics.

Happy 4th of July

Well, I hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July. To celebrate being back and all, I’ve got a picture for you. Rocking the fireworks Southern California style. Happy holidays and enjoy the rest of your weekend! Yeah, I’m far from pro with photography.