Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lifelong Yankee(s)?

This picture was taken yesterday on the first day of full squad workouts for the Yankees.  Two iconic Yankees that have won 15 championships between them.  Yogi Berra alone won 10 championships while Derek Jeter has won 5.  These two men are arguably the greatest players in the Yankees rich history.

Yogi spent his entire career with the Yankees.  This included time as catcher, outfielder and then as a player-manager.  He even infamously managed the Yankees in the 1960s and well as for a short two year stint with a very impatient George Steinbrenner firing Berra just 16 games into the 1986 season.  Consequently, Berra was absent from Yankee Stadium until 1999.  Is it really surprising that the Yankees worst years occurred after his firing and in the early '90s? No. There was not enough of Yogi's wisdom to go around all those years to the less then stellar yankees (except for of course, Mr. Don Mattignly.)

Derek Jeter burst onto the scene as a rookie in 1996.  He immediately made an impact winning not only Rookie of the Year but also four championships in five years.  Jeter became an integral part of the organization from that first year.  He is a ten time all star and the winner of numerous silver sluggers as well as gold gloves.  This past season Jeter became the all-time hits leader for the organization and also won his fifth world championship.

Now what will happen if Jeter does not re-sign with the team?  Well for one thing, the Yankees will have one huge PR situation on the hand.  How would they even begin to address the loss of the face of the franchise for the last 15 years?  Not to mention, they will have to deal with Jeter himself.  This could very easily turn into a Bernie Williams situation where Jeter could hold a grudge and not return to the stadium for many, many years.  Jeter stated yesterday in his press conference that this is the only organization he wants to ever play for and everyone knows that's the truth.

So my plea to you Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE resign Jeter.  He is your captain and has served your team and city well.  I will be disappointed and be forced to watch the team without seeing my favorite player take his position at shortstop everyday.

After all, how great would it be for future Yankees down the road to have Jeter around like the current Yankees get to have Yogi every year?


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Training Has Officially Started

Yogi Berra arrived yesterday to George M. Steinbrenner field in Tampa.  Berra's arrival officially marks the beginning to spring training.  Yogi's title is "spring training instructor" but we all know his purpose is to tell stories from the glory days of the yankees in the '50s & '60s.  I mean honestly could you picture Yogi giving Jorge Posada catching tips  when Posada's a good 6 inches taller then Yogi? That would be pretty funny.  Who knows a new Yogisim could come out of that?

I'll leave this post with my favorite Yogism of all time.

"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."

- Courtney 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Training Day 1 - First Full workout of Pitchers

Here's an image from Tampa of pitchers Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte leading the pack of pitchers running.  Oh how it looks so warm in glorious Tampa as opposed to Blacksburg where it's  currently 27 degrees with frigid wind. To say I'm a bit jealous is a bit of an understatement.

- Courtney

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baseball is BACK!!!

Spring Training officially starts today with pitchers and catchers reporting.  I've been waiting for this day since the Yankees ticker tape parade celebrating world championship #27.  Here's to a healthy, and successful 2010 season.  #28 here we come! 

- Courtney

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Training Questions

With spring training about to begin on Wednesday, I thought it'd be a good idea to address the biggest questions facing the Yankees.

Question #1: Who will be the fifth starter? 
Right now the competition is boiling down to Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.
Advantage: Chamberlain.
My biggest hope is that Hughes will somehow beat out Joba. Hughes is a more mature in every aspect when it comes to competing. Joba has not developed a thick enough skin to pitch in New York and he still hasn't learned how to pitch out of trouble without throwing what seems like a million pitches in an inning. Thus only being able to carry the team for five or six innings before forcing Girardi to call on a reliever.
Hughes proved to be valuable last season coming out of the bullpen late in the game. But with his fastball and nasty splitter (which has been compared to Roger Clemens in the past), Phil is more valuable to the team starting every fifth day and not coming out for an inning or for five outs.  Then again, Mariano Rivera is the one player the Yankees can no afford to lose and he only pitches an inning every other day so I could be wrong.

Question #2: The third outfielder goes to ________?
Even though Johnny Damon has not officially signed with another team yet, I've accepted the fact that he sadly will no longer be apart of the 2010 Yankees.  The leading candidates to join Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson in the outfield are Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames.
I'm going to go with Gardner winning the spot.  He is clearly the best defender out of the bunch and I think that's what earns him the starting role.  Now if it's left field or center field will be up to Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.  The only ailment that Gardner will face will be his bat.  He's already been down at the minor league complex in Tampa working on his bunting and other skills with the bat.
I'm pulling for Gardner.  He's a generally good person and deserves this job after the hardships he went through last year from his reduced playing time, to breaking his hand.  But in the end defense will help you when ball games.  If he can't hit, he's got eight others guys in front of him that can help.

Question #3: How will the Derek Jeter contract situation be played out?
We all know that Derek Jeter is playing in the final year of his 10-year $189 million contract.  Everyone knows that Jeter will re-sign with the Yankees (at least I hope and pray he does) but the question is will ownership and Cashman see eye to eye with Jeter and his agent?  I hope so. Fans have already been through one nasty divorce with Joe Torre.  I personally can not take another one.
Jeter's value goes far beyond what he does on the field.  He's an excellent leader and has never been in trouble or cause drama, which is an accomplishment itself after playing for 15 years in New York.  It will be interesting to see if Jeter's contract will be worth more then Alex Rodriguez's.
I wish the front office would just get the contract done early and reward him for what has been done.
Remember this, Jeter has been shortstop in New York for the last 15 years.  Where have the other "trinity of shortstops" gone?  Nomar Garciaparra is now trying to find a team, lingering from position to position and too often injured.  The other member?  Rodriguez, is of course Jeter's teammate and plays third base.

End Note: It was officially announced today by the Yankees that head trainer Gene Monahan will miss all of spring training and the possibly the beginning of the regular season due to a severe illness.  This will be the first time in 27 years that Monahan will not be attending camp.  Let's hope for a speedy recovery to him and we're looking forward to seeing you back on the field Gene!

- Courtney 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Track & Field Seniors Help Build An Established Program

Here's my latest article for The Collegiate Times

The Virginia Tech track and field program recently surpassed the mere average squads of the Atlantic Coast Conference to become an elite and established team.

Four years ago, senior hurdler Kristi Castlin chose to come to Tech following a successful high school career in Georgia. When Castlin signed with the Hokies, the program had not yet become established in the ACC after recently switching conferences from the Big East.

“I wanted to come here and help build an elite program,” Castlin said. “It was important to me to be a part of something like this.”

According to track and field director Dave Cianelli, Castlin, along with fellow seniors Asia Washington and Queen Harrison, has done just that.

“Kristi, Queen and Asia have really helped develop our program into one of the more successful ones over the past few seasons in the ACC,” Cianelli said. “Their success has generated interest from more and more prospective student athletes for the future of our program.”

Castlin’s improvements this season have not gone unnoticed from her coaches.

“Kristi has really stepped up her training program this year,” said Charles Foster, the sprints, hurdles and jumps coach. “When I first got here, we had a meeting together, laying out my expectations for the program and how I needed her to be a leader. At first, I don’t think she was accepting with the changes (as some of her teammates were), but now she’s really come around to the philosophy of the program.”

Castlin competes in all of the hurdle events but specializes in the sprinting events such as the 60-meter and 100-meter hurdles where she has earned All-America honors. She has been earning All-America honors since her freshman year.

“Those races are so short you have to block out everything you’re thinking about before the race and just sprint as fast as you possibly can,” Castlin said.

Castlin has also taken a larger role as a leader for her fellow sprinters and hurdlers this season, primarily with her actions rather than her words.

“I try to lead by example, otherwise I’ll be talking to (someone) until I’m blue in the face,” Castlin said.

“The way she performs during practices and meets really sets an example for all of her teammates,” Cianelli said. “They take notice of her and of the success she’s had.”

While at Tech, Castlin’s success has gone beyond the track. She has also been recognized as a member of the ACC-All Academic team in 2007 and 2009.

With both the academic success and her talent on the track, Castlin has her options open. She wants to attend graduate school following graduation this May, and Tech is one of the schools she’s considering to continue her education.

Castlin also plans to try to pursue a career as a professional when her collegiate eligibility is complete.

“When her eligibility is up, if she’s continuing to work as hard as she is this season, then she has a shot at turning pro, but it depends on her work ethic,” Foster said.

For now, Castlin is looking forward to the spring season and wants to have her best season to close out her senior year. She also wants to win two prestigious titles she’s been wanting her whole career.

“I really want to win a NCAA title as well as a title at the Penn Relays,” she said. “I just really want to run as fast as I ever have.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Harrison Sets New School Record, Strives for NCAA title

Here's my newest article for Virginia Tech's paper, The Collegiate Times.

Senior Queen Harrison broke Virginia Tech’s record for the women’s 400-meter with a time of 53.64 seconds, earning herself a trip to the NCAA Championship in just the first meet of the indoor season.
Her sprints coach Charles Foster is not surprised by the record.

“She knows that if she can run her fastest time the first time she hits the track, the sky’s the limit for her,” Foster said.

“I’m not surprised in her first competition that she was able to run as well as she did,” said Dave Cianelli, the Tech director of track and field. “It’s certainly exciting because it shows she’s in very good shape, but that she’s (also) going to run faster. It’s just a matter of her staying healthy for her to do that.”

Even Harrison did not seem all that surprised with the results.

“I want to say it was a surprise, but I also feel like I’m running a whole lot faster this season,” she said.

When it comes to events, Harrison runs several that vary from indoor season (60-meter hurdles, the 400-meter and 4x4 relay) to the spring outdoor season (100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and 4x4 relay).
Harrison, one of the most talented track athletes to ever come through Tech’s program, has been a key contributor to the team since her freshman season when she first earned the All-American title.

She was a member of Team USA in the 2008 Olympics following her sophomore year and competed in the 400-meter hurdles where she reached the

“Even though she made the Olympic team in the 400-meter hurdles, I’m not convinced that’s her best event, because she hasn’t really maximized her potential in the 100-meter hurdles,” Cianelli said.

Cianelli believes Harrison’s contributions to the program have extended well beyond the track. He looks to her to be a leader for others on the team.

“She’s a really tremendous leader in addition to being a very talented athlete,” Cianelli said. “That has really helped our younger athletes on the team. To be able to get the leadership and direction from someone who’s been as successful as her really means a lot. When you have someone of her ability and background speak up, people typically listen. She’s very team oriented and very interested in the team doing well as a whole.”

Harrison learned how important it was to be a leader from the senior class during her freshman year and knows how important it is to serve as a mentor for the underclassmen.

“I love my teammates looking up to me and being a leader, that’s something I pride myself on more than anytime I run,” Harrison said. 

Harrison’s ultimate goal for the remainder of this season and the upcoming one is to stay healthy. Last year, she was limited to just two meets after having multiple hamstring injuries.

“I’m really striving to be a national champion, but the NCAA title is something I really want to capture both indoor and outdoor,” she said.

Following graduation she looks to turn professional in order to continue her career.

“I’m just going to continue training,” Harrison said. “Luckily, I’ve been blessed with enough time so I can hopefully run professionally.”