Tag: Shawn Kelley

Yankees Credit 5-Game Winning Streak to Reliever Wearing Horse Mask

The New York Yankees are currently riding a five-game winning streak and have pulled to within 2.5 games in the American League wild-card race. Teams may credit success to many different things, but the Yankees attribute their hot streak to something pretty unusual.

At the beginning of the day on Aug. 21, New York was sitting at 63-61. That’s when reliever Shawn Kelley decided to wear a horse-head mask during the team’s pregame stretch.

The team has not lost since, so naturally the players believe the mask is a good-luck charm.

Now that the team is winning, the reasoning behind the mask doesn’t really matter. Kelley did explain why he bought the mask, which the players call Seabiscuit, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

“When I see those things, randomly in a crowd, it makes me laugh,” Kelley said. “So I figured I’ll do that, and it’ll make everyone laugh in the clubhouse. And then we went on a winning streak.”

Something like this does a great job to loosen up the clubhouse during a pennant race.

As silly as it may seem, the players are buying into the mask.

“Kelley is undefeated with the horse. I’m never going to go against that,” Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury said. He added, “At first, I was wondering who it was. And then I wondered why he had it on. And then we got on a little roll, and I figured it doesn’t matter what the reason is. We’re winning with it.”

The Yankees are averaging 5.4 runs per game and allowing just 2.2 runs per game since Seabiscuit made its debut at Yankee Stadium.

A 162-game season is a grind, and once August hits, the pressure for playoff contenders kicks up a notch. That’s why it’s good to have someone in the clubhouse who is willing to do something silly to help keep the team loose.

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MLB Ejections Alive and Well, Thanks to Joe Girardi and Umpire Laz Diaz

Joe Girardi and Laz Diaz exchanged words Monday night, which is a nice way of saying a manager/umpire shouting match ended with one party fuming and the other feeling as accomplished as Dikembe Mutombo swatting away a would-be dunker.

For The Win’s Ted Berg spotted a couple of videos from Monday’s game between the Yankees and Angels, one New York lost, 4-1.

The game wasn’t the only thing lost, because composure was at a premium in the eighth inning. However, some might say the skipper and Yankees relief pitcher Shawn Kelley—both tossed from the game by Diaz—were provoked into getting ejected.

Here are some thoughts from Girardi in the aftermath of a game that featured quite the peculiar ending:

The Yankees manager had this to say, via ESPN:

I mentioned to Laz in a respectful way that I thought the pitch was up to Kelly Johnson earlier in the game and he gave me the Mutombo [wagging his finger]. I don’t appreciate that. I’m not a little kid. I don’t need to be scolded. Obviously we’re trying to work together, and I just thought there were a lot of inconsistencies tonight.

If you believe Girardi, Diaz sent him to the clubhouse in much the same way a shot-blocking Mutombo once shamed NBA players. If that were the case, we certainly hope Girardi got some words in before heading off to cool down.

There were some, such as Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News, who felt the advent of instant replay in MLB might kill off the entertainment that comes with irate managers scolding umpires. It seems Girardi and Diaz found a loophole because they really got after it.

Now, Diaz was 2-for-2 on the night because he also tossed pitcher Shawn Kelley amid a bullpen implosion in the eighth.

Kelley wasn’t ready to place blame, though. “I’m not going to say anything about the strike zone,” Kelley said postgame, via the New York Daily News. “I made a lot of bad pitches. It’s on me.”

The Star-Ledger‘s Brendan Kuty adds that the dual ejections were particularly noteworthy: “Kelley had never been thrown out of a game before. It was the first time Girardi had been tossed since Aug. 18 in Boston after Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster hit Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez with a pitch.”

Of course, we might add the obvious sentiment that the Yankees would do well to keep their composure, but it’s a long season, and it’s a good sign to see some fire in May, which might go a long way to helping the team in what is a jam-packed AL East.

However, it seems Diaz didn’t exactly help the situation because he continually waved Kelley away, much like an annoying older brother might needle you with jabs until you exploded.

For Girardi, we can only take his word that he was respectful in his kerfuffle with Diaz at home. Perhaps the skipper said something that really irritated Diaz. Maybe Diaz was just being a diva.

None of this matters, because we should all just sit back and appreciate an increasingly rare sight, one that only shows up when umpire and manager come together like Voltron and form one beautiful debacle.


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