George Steinbrenner would've issued public apology


George Steinbrenner would've issued public apology

NEW YORK (AP) George Steinbrenner would have issued a public apology.

After leading the league in wins this year, the New York Yankees didn't just lose to Detroit in the AL championship series. They got swept in one of the more humiliating moments in the team's history.

The four-game wipeout made headlines - A-Rod's benching, Derek Jeter's injury, Robinson Cano's slump. But it also revealed serious cracks in the foundation, showing a team full of aging All-Stars at the plate, in the field and on the mound that suddenly seems a long, long way from championship caliber.

``Obviously, we're all getting older,'' Andy Pettitte said Thursday night after the season-ending 8-1 loss to the Tigers.

Jeter broke an ankle near the end. Mariano Rivera busted a knee back in the spring. The Yankees transformed baseball's bruisers into the Bashed Bombers, closer to AARP years than MVP seasons.

Alex Rodriguez was so bad, the $275 million man was benched in three of nine postseason games and pinch hit for in three others, a possible prelude to a forced departure from pinstripes.

Yankees co-chairperson Hank Steinbrenner won't address A-Rod's future, saying ``I'm not going to get into that at this point.'' But he does think too much blame is being directed at Rodriguez.

``So is it fair to accuse him of everything but the Kennedy assassination? No, it's not fair, but we'll see what happens from this point on,'' Steinbrenner said Friday.

Six key players didn't hit their weight, with Rodriguez joined by Cano, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez.

His life already a soap opera off the field, A-Rod turned into daily fodder for on-field intrigue.

``It wasn't just one guy struggling,'' Rodriguez said. ``It was a collective group, and it was a very unique situation.''

Not quite. They floundered for two months, nearly blowing a 10-game lead in the heat of summer before holding off Baltimore on the final night for the AL East title.

Easily the oldest big league team at the season's start, they're on track to start next year with a 38-year-old shortstop with limited range coming off ankle surgery (Jeter), a 43-year-old closer returning from knee surgery (Rivera), a 37-year-old third baseman overpowered by right-handed pitchers (A-Rod), a 40-year-old left-hander who missed nearly three months because of a broken ankle (Pettitte) and a 38-year-old right-hander who topped the team in starts and innings (Hiroki Kuroda).

Their postseason star was a 40-year-old outfielder (Raul Ibanez), their center fielder struck out 195 times (Granderson), their left fielder played just 17 regular-season games because of an elbow injury (Brett Gardner) and their catcher hit .211 (Martin).

``It's difficult. It's disappointing. It's not where we want to be,'' general manager Brian Cashman said. ``I'm very surprised.''

Their .188 postseason batting average was the lowest ever for a team that played at least seven games. Rodriguez took the brunt of the blame.

Owed $114 million over the next five seasons, Rodriguez became the world's most expensive pinch hitter during the ALCS, a platoon player against left-handed pitchers on a team facing four righty starters.

``I've never thought about going to another team. My focus is to stay here. Let's make that very, very clear,'' he said. ``Number two, I don't expect to be mediocre. I expect to do what I've done for a long time.''

Yankees president Randy Levine joked in April with Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about the possibility of dealing A-Rod to his hometown team.

``Take him. Tell me what you're willing to do,'' Levine said before the pair laughed.

After this debacle, talk could turn serious. The Yankees likely would have to eat 50 to 75 percent of what Rodriguez is due, but they may focus on the millions saved rather than the millions spent.

Back in 1981, after the Yankees took a 2-0 Series lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost four in a row, George Steinbrenner issued one of his most famous statements, saying: `'I want to sincerely apologize to the people of New York and to the fans of the New York Yankees everywhere for the performance of the Yankee team.''

Hal Steinbrenner, who succeeded his father as controlling owner, is less impetuous. He wants to get the team under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014.

Sending one of their lineup's senior citizens to finish his career in Florida would be a start.

Proud of his accomplishments and in constant need of admiration, Rodriguez may hold his postseason putdown against manager Joe Girardi.

``As far as I know, we're OK,'' Girardi said. ``It's not something I wanted to do. All of you know that. But I don't have any signals that he's mad at me.''

A-Rod, as always, tried to say the right thing.

``If I do what I'm supposed to be doing, neither Joe or Cashman can bench me,'' he explained.

His stay in New York always was a marriage of money.

After giving A-Rod a record $252 million contract, Texas traded him to the Yankees after three seasons and even agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million remaining - an amount reduced by $21 million when A-Rod opted out of that deal following the 2007 season. Then the Yankees re-signed him to an even more massive megadeal, as much a weight on their payroll as his bat has become in the batting order.

Following the failure for the third straight year to win the World Series, there will be a slew of decisions. Exercising $15 million options on Cano and Granderson are a given, as is signing Rivera for 2013. They'll likely try to persuade Pettitte to pitch another year and attempt to re-sign Kuroda and possibly Ichiro Suzuki, whose bat was among the few with a sign of life.

Swisher seems set to depart and Ibanez could be one older player too many. Rafael Soriano, who filled in for Rivera, could turn down a $14 million salary for next year, terminate his contract and become a free agent.

``Every year the roster changes,'' Cashman said.

By now, the front office knows it needs an injection of youth. The wipeout may speed the turnover.

``We got a team of Hall of Famers, superstars,'' Cano said.

And by the time a player is almost certain of enshrinement in Cooperstown, it means the end is a lot closer than the beginning.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.


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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.


Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.


Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.


Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.


Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.