About Yesterday: Brewers 9, Yankees 2
By Mike Whiteman 9/10/2023 *** Born on this day in 1934 was Roger Maris. The lefty-hitting outfielder is of course best known for his epic 1961 season in which he ripped 61 home runs, breaking the record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927. Maris’ record stood until 1998, when Mark McGwire, and then Sammy Sosa and later Barry Bonds passed the mark, their seasons tainted by PED allegations. Aaron Judge broke what has been sometimes called Maris’ “clean” record when he ripped 62 home runs last season.
Like Judge, Maris was more than just a home run hitter. In his prime, he was a great all-around player. He could hit, hit with power, was an excellent defender and baserunner. He was stationed in right field for the Yankees, but could easily have covered center field if a future Hall-of-Famer (Mickey Mantle) wasn’t already set there. While his 1961 season was historical, his 1960 season was likely even better, when he led the American League in total WAR, RBI, Slugging Percentage, and took home a Gold Glove. He was voted American League Most Valuable player both seasons. https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/marisro01.shtml We don’t hear much about Maris as a Hall of Fame candidate (the highest he attained was 43% of the vote in 1988), but perhaps we should. Take a look the list of players who have won back-to-back MVP awards: Miguel Cabrera Albert Pujols Barry Bonds (twice) Frank Thomas Dale Murphy Mike Schmidt Joe Morgan Roger Maris Ernie Banks Mickey Mantle Yogi Berra Hal Newhouser Jimmie Foxx That’s pretty good company to be associated with. Recent Era Committees elections indicate to me that voters could focus on the “fame” aspect of Maris’ career and we could someday see him enshrined in Cooperstown. QUICK STATS The Yankees are 70-72, a pace for 80 wins on the season. They are nine games out of the Wild Card with 20 games to play. Mike King has a 1.93 ERA in games he has started. BIG STORY Am I the only one who hears the Yankees playing the Brewers and the 1981 American League East Divisional series comes to mind? What a classic the deciding Game Five was, with home runs by Reggie Jackson, Oscar Gamble and Rick Cerone. Goose Gossage may have been at the peak of his intimidation factor. Back to present day. After the start of yesterday’s game was delayed due to rain, Mike King took the mound for the Yankees, hoping to take another step towards a 2024 starting rotation spot. He again looked good, striking out nine over five innings and allowing only two runs (one earned) on the day. The Yankee offense was in midseason form (2023 form, not 1998), and had only one hit through the fifth inning, an RBI single off the bat of Anthony Volpe. The Yanks added another run when Oswaldo Peraza grounded into what was scored a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded – shortstop to second – which Everson Pereira beat out hustling from first base and allowed Giancarlo Stanton to score from third. The game remained tied 2-2 until the eighth, when the Yankee bullpen imploded. Jonathan Loaisiga allowed three runs on five hits and Matt Krook allowed four more in the ninth frame , not retiring a batter. What an ugly end of the game. Brewers win, 9-2. PLAYER OF THE GAME Mission accomplished for King, who very much wants to stay a starter. He threw 79 pitches, and I’m not sure I’d like to see him stretch out much more this season. A win will be King taking the ball every fifth day the rest of the year, giving four to five quality innings, and ending the season healthy. NOTABLE PERFORMANCES Peraza has had hits in six of his past seven games, and is batting .323 in September…After struggling in Friday’s contest, Greg Weissert retired the Brewers in order in the top of the sixth inning. Weissert really has an interesting delivery and great minor league stats over the past three years, and hopefully he can put it all together and become an effective reliever. BETTER TO FORGET Giancarlo Stanton’s hitless performance dropped his batting average to .199…Loaisiga’s ERA went from 0.56 to 3.06 over the past two outings…Austin Wells is hitless in his last eleven at bats…Jasson Dominguez was hitless in four at bats, striking out three times. THEY SAID IT “I had a special group” - Joe Torre on his 1998 Yankees players “I don’t remember growing older. When did they?” – Perry Cuomo MY TAKE Really, when did our heroes get old? That being said, I really enjoyed Old Timer’s Day. Yes, there was complaining about no “game,” but with the Yanks’ recent injury history, do we really want to see a bunch of old, retired players play? We’re just asking for trouble! The players I saw interviewed didn’t seem too upset to not be playing. The roster of the day was impressive. The 1970s teams were well represented by Roy White, Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry. From the 1990s was the famous “Core Four” of Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter and other favorites Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill. Perfect game pitchers David Cone and David Wells were in attendance, as well as walk-off heroes Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone (I still think his walk-off in 2003 was pretty cool). Flash of brilliance guys Shane Spencer and Brian Doyle were also present. Yankee legends no longer with us Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin were represented by their widows. I appreciate how they are included by the team. I also enjoy seeing some of the less distinguished Yankees attend. What a thrill it must be for guys like Ryan Bradley, Mike Figga, and Mike Buddie to be introduced and line up with Yankee legends. How fun was it to see all these great players together and particularly the reminiscing about the 1998 Yankees in this the 25th anniversary of the greatest team many of us will see in our lifetimes.
Back to now, yesterday's game was frustrating, but as many have said it is better at this point in the season to have the young players out there struggling and getting valuable experience than the veterans with no future with the club. It could get easy to get down on the kids, but before we get too despondent let us not forget that Aaron Judge batted .179 in August and September of 2016. I was so saddened to see Luis Severino’s sudden exit from Friday’s game, and the realization that his season is likely over. Sevvy has been one of my favorites since he joined the team. While his contract was a disappointment, and we’ll always question “what if” regarding his Yankee tenure, he always looked to be giving it his all. I’ve always appreciated his humanity, whether it was his enthusiasm on the mound, or in talking with the press as he struggled this year. Always accountable. I do think it’s time for a change of scenery and approach for him, and will be rooting for him wherever he ends up. NEXT UP This will be a fun one, as Gerrit Cole (13-4, 2.90) takes the hill against Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes (9-8, 3.63). The game will be at 1:35 this afternoon.