So we got good news and bad news. The bad news, of course is that after an uplifting victory on Friday night, the wheels came off on Saturday, and we ran into an unfortunate circumstance on Sunday. The good news is that nothing that has happened over the weekend has done anything to convince me that the Yankees are not on the charted course for the AL East crown – again. I know this seems strange, but the reality of the situation is that everything the Sox needed on Saturday and Sunday, they got. I didn’t like the way Pavano bitched out on Saturday. I was looking forward to the matchup with Clement, because I felt like that one was a wash. You can’t get a good read on Clement’s performance though, because when the runs start pouring in, all bets are off. I am not surprised by what Wells did. He’s been maligned of late, rumors that he was a bad apple in the clubhouse (what else is new), he’d been shelled since he came off the DL, etc. So what does he do in Yankee Stadium? What do you think…..
I didn’t see the game on Saturday, but I had some takeaways after glancing at the boxscore. When the boys and I were in sec 24 on Friday, I turned to Acc and the Lt and I mentioned that Manny was going to break out of his slump over the weekend. And that we would probably see an up tick from Ortiz as well. This was no great prediction. Many was hitting .220, and Ortiz .270 something. These guys are better than that, and were due to produce. That’s the thing you have to love about the Red Sox lineup if you are a red Sox fan. They have proven Yankee killers sitting in the middle. And not just Yankee killers. Guys who are laughably magical against the Yanks. And they didn’t disappoint over the weekend. When we got back to the hotel last night, we flipped on the end of the game (apparently they have ESPN down here in the tropics). I looked at the score, turned to the Mrs. (like she cares) and told her that if the Yankees are down 6-2, that means Manny and Ortiz, or both, have home runs and a couple of RBI each. And guess what….. But that just underscores my point. It’s good news when a team is kicking your ***, you can point to 2 guys. And only two guys. You might be able to throw Varitek in there, but he’s streaky. For the Sox to beat you in, say, a seven game series, they positively need those two guys to be unconscious. Or it won’t work out for them. And do you know what? No one can continue that kind of magic indefinitely. The law of averages says that those two guys won’t continue to be that dominating. The rest of that lineup doesn’t scare me. But I’ll tell you what. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Yanks help things along. Jon Miller threw out an interesting tidbit on the telecast Sunday night, not at all surprising. The Red Sox, since 2002, have hit Jeter with a pitch 30-something times. Well, well, well. Where is Roger Clemens when I need him. That’s what we need. Knock Ortiz and the world’s ultimate dummy, Manny Ramirez, on their *** once in a while. Does anyone remember the melee at Fenway in the 2003 playoffs? Zim, Pedro, etc.? Well what happened when play resumed? Clemens came up and in to Manny, didn’t really even buzz him, and Manny completely freaked out and lost it. Why? Because he’s an idiot. But that’s besides the point. The point is, the next pitch sailed across the outside corner with an upset Manny flailing at it. Strike three. That’s I’m talking about. Those two guys, over the last two years, have just seemed so super comfortable at the plate. I’m just saying…..
I think Fracona made one very good move on Sunday – pulling Wells in the 9th. He was getting close to 100 pitches, and he’s fresh off the DL. That could have been bad for Wells. I think Wells had a great game in him, and he reached down for it to shut everyone up. But I think he’s going to have problems staying healthy. He hasn’t lasted a full season in a long time.
So at this point we’re back in a tie with the Sox, as the Birds dismantled them at Fenway today. I think we’re in good shape, despite the weird weekend. And only a loser posts to the BPS while in a hotel room on vacation (couldn’t sleep).
I’d like to put an end to this. I’d like to put an end to the talk radio and media chatter that declared the Yankee dynasty; the “Golden Age of the Yankees” DOA on that November night in 2001 that left me sprawled out on my future father in law’s pool table, not really knowing what to do. Because that is preposterous. The golden age is alive and well, and arguably, the dynasty with it. Sure they haven’t won since 2000, but you could argue that this is a body of work that spans ten years, 1995-2005 (so far). That body of work has produced 6 pennants, four world championships, and an unbelievably near miss on a pennant just months ago. The golden age was on display tonight at the Stadium. The Yanks are drawing a capacity crowd in May for a game with their AL East rubber duckies, the Bosox. I was listening to the sportstalk radio on the way to the game, and the consensus was that this series just didn’t seem to match up to what it was in prior years. I have news for you. That rivalry is one of the best things about professional sports. Now, more than ever. The current began to snake through the crowd before Randy Johnson took the mound. The anticipation was high, the excitement was definite. And as the game wore on, the Yankees showed why they are deserving of this lofty palace in pop culture. They once again explained why they are feared and respected more than any other sports franchise. Why anyone who truly follows this team, who believes in the Yankees like kids believe in Santa Claus, knew that the terrible start was merely a precursor to a great story. The results could be measured by the sheer voltage that charged through and around the stadium. Tonight was simply another story in the golden age of Yankee baseball.
It started a bit late (for me that is). I was stuck in the BQE in some Memorial Day weekend traffic, so I was a bit late in picking up my ticket from the secret hiding place where Acc leaves it. The LT shot me an e-mail telling me he would stop by section 24 during the game. Turned out we had a seat empty, so he sat with us. And when Vino called around the 7th inning, we fit him, his boy Dave, and two girls who were with them in the seats around me, the big boy, Big Ange and Cousin Bobby. So we had a good crew by the time Mo did what needed to be done.
I was reminded of a few things tonight. The Yankees are a better team than the Red Sox. It’s as simple as that. There is a reason the Red Sox have finished second to the Yankees for seven straight years, a baseball record. Sure they eked out a victory in the ALCS last year, but let’s not forget that that feat wasn’t without a healthy dose of luck. There’s also a reason no one had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. You need some hardcore luck, on top of skill, perseverance, and perspiration, all of which the Red Sox provided in large doses. But that doesn’t change the fact. The Yankees are better then the Red Sox. They were last year, the year before that, and they still are.
One thing that gets glossed over is the job Joe Torre does managing a team. It’s no wonder his protégés end up calling the shots around the majors. The Red Sox ran themselves out of an inning tonight. Up by two runs, and already with five hits in the sixth inning against Randy Johnson, with four of those in a row, they get themselves thrown out at home plate on consecutive plays. The first one was awful. Womack had the ball in his glove by the time Bellhorn’s foot touched third, and they sent him home. Whoops. The next play was another single, this one by Ortiz, but the ball doesn’t make it out of the infield. So Damon tries to score from second. Whoops again. And he’s got a ridiculous haircut….. Do you blame the coaches or the players on those missteps? Maybe both. One question I do have about Francona. What were you working on when you were supposed to be managing this game? It must have been something, because your game management was making no sense. Talk about just sitting there. Even though Tim Wakefield’s numbers looked good through five (0 runs, 2 hits), there should have been some flags raised when Timmy walked the bases loaded in the fifth. So Francona lets him start the sixth? And then he walks the leadoff hitter, and still nothing? Then Robinson Cano stamps his Yankee employee card with a game-tying bomb. Finally, Francona relents? No he doesn’t. One more batter. Base hit by Jeter, of course. Then they yank Timmy, just in time to charge three runs to him and make him the hard luck pitcher of record. That’s a shame, Timmy. So Francona starts to match up lefties with Embree – unless he just wanted to see what Embree was going to give him in a big spot – and he ends up facing Gary Sheff. Sheff hit a ball that would have stuck in the Daily News sign, had it been over a little.
Contrast that with Torre. Everyone was expecting Gordon in the eight to face a pinch hitter. Torre has Sturtze go back out to the mound. Francona counters with Trot Nixon to pinch hit. Torre than walks out to replace Sturtze with Groom, the lefty. Nixon k’d. Brilliant game management from Torre. The Yankees are better.
But the Red Sox are not as bad as all this. 2 wins in their last 10 road games. Losing five in a row on the road. They’re better than that, but how much better? I’m not sure.
Of one thing I am sure. Allow yourselves to enjoy this team. Don’t get caught up in the hype around the money they make, or the reputations they are supposed to live up to. Watch them channel their magic when the games get important, and watch them continue to surprise you. Just watch them play, and watch them win. Because that’s what they are going to do most of the time.
I’ll be back Wednesday night. I’m on vacation/at a wedding. Let me know what I miss.
Remember what Ralphie Boy said on one of the early BPS comments. You are never as good or bad as you think you are. So why do the Yankees keep kicking everyone’s ***? (See what happened. I did it.) They keep crushing everyone for the same reason that they kept losing every game while the craziest things in the world were happening to them. Because this game is crazy. That’s what I love about it. From a talent standpoint, the Yankees are one of, if not the best team in baseball. So they were bound to start playing like it. And they did. But this is the other extreme. We’re carnivores out there. Nobody is safe. The good news is the real Yanks are probably closer to the latter than the former.
So I’m at the game tonight with my brother-in-law and his little cousin Kenny, who is on loan to the staten island Yankees from NYU for the summer. And his gracious employer, those same staten island Yankees, comped us tenth row behind the plate. I’m not sure who had my usual seats – I think it was Acc’s cousins – Bobby and Angelo. The kicker? Cousin Kenny’s a huge Met fan. That poor kid can’t catch a break. Had I known I was going, I definitely would have thrown the DVR on the hi-def, and come back to flip on the taped broadcast so I could look for myself on TV like a loser (I don’t apologize for that). But unfortunately, I had no advance warning, so I had to get up and go. Also necessitated my getting a fleece pullover – a bit of a chilly night. So I grabbed one at the Yankee store in the Stadium. Best 75 bucks I ever spent. Then I asked them to cut the tags off and they said no. Because they had no scissors. Like I said – best 75 bucks I ever spent. The other thing was that I was stuck without means to review close-call replays. I was dialing Acc, Tony Sherry, and Chris Woy all night, trying to find somebody to give me the lowdown. I was, and remain still, convinced that 2nd base ump Chad Fairchild made the worst call I have ever seen when he called out Tony Womack trying to steal off of Pudge. And Charlie Reliford made the second worst call when he called Jeter out looking in the bottom of the third. I’ve since mellowed on that one, but I’m still furious about the stolen base call. Turned out to be big, because it was followed by base hits. Whatever. We won. I still haven’t seen the replays.
So the important thing here is that the Yankees have won yet again, and that has vaulted them past the Red Sox in the standings….for now. The O’s remain pesky, but they will not be able to keep up by the end of the year. They just won’t. I had mentioned a few weeks back that the Bosox had not had any kind of team slump since before the all-star break last year. Well, here they are. Johnny Damon was whining (when is that hairy runt not whining) in the papers today that they’re just not a good team. I hope this little funk they’re in drags on. They are a pretty good team, incidentally. Better than the O’s.
So the amazing “card night” streak stayed alive last night. It was thanks to some clutch hitting, which the Lt. referenced in his comments last night and tonight. Officer Jimmy Murray and Pat Bechtle were at the game, left early, and joined the card game. Danny Marshall and McHale, whose grandfather played for the Yankees with Babe Ruth, were mainstays all night. The big boy and Mikey Rumble wussed out. Officer Murray did not, as Chris Woy had wondered aloud in his comments, bring his gun. When asked if he brought it to the game, he looked incredulous. “Of course not, dude. I don’t bring my gun when I drink.” Good rule, dude.
Tonight was more of the same. Clutch stuff. At first it seemed that tonight just was not our night. The crazy calls, the dribblers through the middle with two out to score Tigers from second. Kevin Brown giving up 9 hits in three and change innings. How did that guy end up with the win? He settled down, I guess, but that is garbage. Then it seemed that we should have won by ten., and things weren’t bouncing our way. Then A-Rod took matters into his own hands. Nice. If not for that, we actually had some trouble pushing runs across. Give Brown credit (some) for settling down (against a poor team). Giambi looked terrible, until his last at-bat, and then started battling; finally getting a base hit the other way (the other way?). Good at-bat. But other than that he looked terrible. Sean is right. They seem like the least potent hits you have ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, the bandwagon is still legit.
So Friday night, the big boy and I will be in the stands in full gear for the Unit. And we will look to our left, and up – to the top of the façade in left. And we will notice that the blue Yankees flag has been moved in front of the crimson Red Sox flag. Nice.
You want me to do it? Fine. I’ll do it. We’re coming, and ****’s coming with us. Let me first commend the Boys for superior dialogue on the BPS comments. Nothing brings out the donkeys like the Subway Series. We’ve been over it a hundred times, but we can do it once more. Seeing that look of “what happened?” on the faces of the poor Met faces just can’t help but make you giggle. Between that and Tony Sherry imploring his boy Art on the golf course- “Don’t make me shove a club up your ***”, I was positively giddy. The Met fans thought they could smell this one. I’m not sure why, but they thought they could. That’s why their balls got a little bigger this time, in my opinion. Mikey Rumble, appreciate your weighing in on the reaction from the Corvetti house, but let’s face it – that place was never a place where the sky is up and the ocean is blue. The way I see it, I half expect them to be watching the cartoon network, and half expect them to be watching court TV.
So tonight we got another one of those games. As I was walking in the door from work Big Joe had already called and told the Mrs. to tell me that A-Rod had already hit two home runs. It almost hurts A-Rod to have these stat-padder games. People always go right back to these games when he starts slumping, or ******* out with the game on the line. Sure, goes the conventional wisdom. He crushes the Tigers and D-Rays, but throw him up there in Fenway, and he’s a member of the Lollipop Guild. I think a bit much is made of that, but I will admit, I will take Jeter, Matsui, or Gary Sheff, in no particular order, if I had to pick in a tough spot.
Sean’s boy Moose was once again the steady force. When our staff is throwing like the Moose was tonight, those runs feel like hundred-pound weights to the visitors. The staff is shaping up nicely. The Big Boy and I will be in the stands on Friday night for Randy Johnson’s next start. It can’t be helping these guys that the rain and ridiculous cold have seized this town and bluntly refused to let go. I could see my breath walking down 95th st tonight.
Jeter looks like he still might be suffering some ill effects of his plunking the other night, taking the collar tonight. He and Womack were the only starters without a hit. Speaking of Womack, here’s why I like that guy, and I think he will be a key part of this team down the stretch – it’s because of plays like the one he made on Sunday breaking up the double play. Reyes had already dropped the ball, and rather than burn right to the base, Womack continued to slide into him to make sure he couldn’t pick that ball up and whip it to first to get the runner. Heads up play.
More target practice tonight. I agree with the Lt.’s comment. Nice to see Q retaliate; a stand-up teammate. His comments on the postgame were spectacular. “It was wet out there; the ball slipped out of my hand. Twice.” Beautiful. Giambi was 2 for 3 tonight (is the bandwagon being reassembled?). Mike Sherry has to feel good. Six bombs in the game. Robinson Cano’s dad named him after Jackie Robinson. Did not know that.
After things got out of hand, I’m flipping around with the Mrs. Watched the final fight on the contender. Yawn. Yet another quick boxer who scores lots of points, but doesn’t hit hard enough to knock out Webster, pre-Surreal Life. Next. My wife was fixated on Rob and Amber’s wedding. She was seeing a riveting story about the celebration of true love through an exciting wedding. The girl was truly enraptured. Funny, cause all I saw was a ******* from boston (proper noun problem) who was loaded up from head to toe in Red Sox gear and was spraying comment after ridiculous comment about boston (“All I know”, he said in reference to the NYC bartender, “is if that guy tended bar in boston, he would get his *** kicked”). And he’s clever, too. Whatever, dude. You know what I know? No he wouldn’t. And incidentally, you really must love beantown if you ran off and bought a house one thousand miles away.
So we’re getting the Wednesday Night Superstars back together for the card game tomorrow night. I don’t need to tell anybody that the Yanks have a spectacular record during the Wednesday night card games. It’s up to Chris Woy’s boy Mr. Wang. My boy Danny Marshall is talking a lot of smack about his 50 inch plasma. Hopefully the Yes Network hi def is back in action. It wasn’t broadcasting here in Crooklyn tonight, for some reason. Even Officer Jimmy Murray is playing cards tomorrow night apparently, even though he got married about ten minutes ago. Always fun to have him and McHale throw their cards down on the table, and then look at us to see who won.
All I ask is two out of three from the Tigers. Do you want me to really do it? Fine. We’re only a game and a half behind the Bosox. And the Os are a wobbly four and a half in front. Interestingly, I still think it’s going to take them until the All Star break to get back into first. But we’ll get there.
I’m going to try not to be a tool about this. My cousin Pete was asking me last week what my thoughts were for the series. I told him that I thought the Yankees had a better team, but they weren’t clicking at that moment, and Willie seemed to be getting a lot out of the team that he has. I figured the Big Boy’s prediction made a lot of sense, two out of three. Cousin Pete offered immediately that, obviously, the Mets would take the Pedro game, and maybe they split the other two. Pete, Pete, Pete. It’s not like you can make the comment that the Mets didn’t know this about Pedro, his little “Yankee problem”. I was out playing golf in the pouring the rain yesterday, a late invite from Tony Sherry, my boy Little Anthony, and Art. I was so positively disgusting out there that I’d care not talk about it. Tony and I were very close to ponying up for the second time in a row (Tony was shooting okay, but I was truly a three year old child out there – plus Little Anthony was the priest from Caddyshack) when we were saved by the rain. But we ended up in the clubhouse after the front nine, and there were a bunch of guys watching the game. They were mumbling and grumbling, mostly. High percentage of Met fans in staten island, for those of you that didn’t know. There was one Yankee fan right up close to the T.V. crowing, “The Mets didn’t know this about Pedro. They watch him beat all these teams; they don’t realize he can’t beat the Yanks.” Now that’s silly, I’m thinking. Did they turn off their TV’s and radios when all the Yankee/Bosox madness had been going on the last few years? The Who’s your Daddy, etc? Of course they knew about this. But I think, particularly in Cousin Pete’s case, it felt good for them to have an “automatic” guy. They haven’t had one in a while. A guy that you sit back and say – we’ll take the _____ game. Name your ace. The last one might have been Doc Gooden. I think Pete was ignoring everything he knew deep down to relish the moment.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Yankees went right to the formula, with a somewhat castrated lineup. No Jeter, no Gary Sheff, no Posada. The Mets had no Beltran, no Matsui. Advantage Mets on that one. With that, errors once again ruled the day. I’m a little confused. I guess I’m still going with the cold, wet weather as an explanation. Just a mess all around. So, the formula. Bleed Pedro early – check, wait for the bullpen –check, and win…..check. There were a lot of Met second guessers on the radio as I was driving from the course, soaking wet and discouraged about that stupid game, to my mother-in-law’s house for chicken parm and spaghetti. Mrs. M. makes a strong chicken parm. Apparently Big Joe (father-in-law) was taking some heat from his boys about not having Sunday pasta last week, so Mrs. M felt bad for him and hooked it up this week. Heat or no heat, we weren’t complaining about the pot roast and mashed potatoes last week. Both were pretty **** good, and Big Joe and I will take what we get. Anyway, the radio callers had one general beef. Willie’s handling of the bullpen. Too much Roberto Hernandez, not enough Heath Bell. I have to admit, that guy was money on Friday night. Would have been an interesting move. After that, I wasn’t interested. They talked about walking the man I like to refer to as “The Ferocious Lion”, Hideki Matsui. Not a bad idea, as he’s just busting out of his slump. Sweeny Murti had a good counter. You walk the Ferocious Lion, you get Bernie. And Bernie pounded the ball. How mad can you be?
All in, I’ll take the win and a little R&R Monday. Yanks are five back, have steadied themselves, and everyone is within shooting distance. The Yanks beat the Mets again. Gives you a comforting feeling that the world is still right side up.
Saturday, about a half hour from game time. I’m sitting in a bar in morningside heights [having the proper noun issue with the format again], killing time until class at 3:40. Me, bronx Johnny, J.J., and Grossman. That’s two Met fans, J.J., who’s kind of on the fence, and me. Grossman and Bronx Johnny, aka Big Willie, are really “A tale of two Met fans”. Grossman is a rational guy, knows a lot about the game of baseball – still pitches in a men’s league, and roots hard for his team. We talk about the pros and cons of each team, what they need to get better at. Then there’s Bronx J. Let me start by saying this. Bronx Johnny is my boy. I would do anything for the guy. And he’s the nicest guy in the world. As I’ve said before on the BPS, if it weren’t for him, there would be a lot of wildly nonsensical financial models being fired around cyberspace. But he’s got one curious black mark on his personality. He is to Met fans what Johnny Knoxville is to “The Arts”. The epitome of the dude who spends all of his time hating. He can’t help it. When the topic turns to the Yanks, he starts to sweat hate. Similar to the way Mikey Rumble sweats when he eats. The only time you get him rational is when the Mets lose, and you approach him rationally. After Friday night’s game, I left a message on the guy’s cell phone to tell him I thought the Mets were getting squeezed big-time by McClellan. When I saw him today, we discussed it rationally. But as soon as the Mets win, or just as importantly, the Yankees lose (he was a huge Sox fan last October. Hmmmmm), he “turns” – waving his finger in the face of any Yankee fan he can find, getting up in their grills. And the screaming of wild-eyed anecdotal evidence about “the time I called out all the Yankee fans in Yankee Stadium, and they didn’t do s..t.” Apparently, this is hard evidence that they are all, collectively, soft. Of course. I don’t know what made him that way. It very well may be all the ******* Yankee fans (there are many, I’ll be the first one to acknowledge) in the Yankees home borough, where he lives. Doesn’t seem like a particularly convenient lifestyle arrangement. He can be whatever kind of fan he wants to be, certainly, but I hope the guy will see he’s caught in a vicious cycle. You throw all that hate at Yankee fans, it will come back to you. It really starts to bring out the worst in everybody. But anyway, I still love the kid, and if I have to put up with the vitriol, fine.
So I’m looking for some random passings from those guys on the game last night, so I throw out an olive branch. I offered that Posada should have been O-U-T on that pitch in the decisive sixth. 0-2 count, and that thing sailed right over the inside corner. I don’t know what happened to Tim McClellan. Must have had his mind on something else. So Posada ends up walking, and Armageddon ensued. I thought McLennan was a little out there all night, for both sides, but I think the Mets got the raw end of most of those. Couple of other Met high points – Heath Bell throwing missiles, David Wright, hitting the ball hard. General consensus from these guys, though, seems to be that the best part of this game was watching Jeter flounder.
Last night – what a game. I guess you blame this on the cold? Booting the balls around, a combined 2 for 25 with runners in scoring position. Disgusting. I’ll take the W, though. Good measuring stick for the Yankees, I thought. On a night that they got themselves in a real painful game, they found a way to pull it out. That’s what you need to do to get to the finish line. Kevin Brown pitched okay. He was in and out of trouble all night, but got a couple of big strikeouts when it counted. His ball to strike ratio was about 50-50, however. Not so good. And the Yankees still can’t hit Zambrano. He got a raw deal, actually. Kept the balls away from the bats all night, sometimes to a fault. Too many walks for that guy. But if he gets that strike call in the sixth and the Met infield doesn’t start playing hacky sack, he throws an okay game.
Today was more of the same at first. The Yankees were positively awful, and the Mets squandered opportunity after opportunity. I made the point during a Piazza at-bat that Piazza and Giambi are similar players at this point in their careers. Bronx Johnny got all steamed up at me; screaming about juice and defending Piazza’s career. My point – at this point in their careers, their numbers are very similar, and you don’t feel good when they come up in a tough spot. Piazza – .245, 6 bombs, 22 Rib-eyes, .305 OBP. Giambi – .226, 4 bombs, 12 Ribeyes, .380 OBP (in 35 less Abs). Speaks for itself. Piazza was junk last night. Has been for a while. And Giambi, despite my continued presence on top of the bandwagon, has been junk ever since he stopped injecting the junk. Randy got pounded today. Absolutely pounded. When pitchers are smashing line drives off of you, something isn’t right. They might want to check the guy’s groin, calf, or whatever. He was a mess. The Yankee bats have been completely silent since the third inning at Safeco the other night. They’re due to bust out of this, I’m thinking. But today, it wasn’t to be.
Some good comments recently, but nothing yesterday (I’m shredding the subway series like Mike Johnson shreds Johnny Fantastic’s deli, and nobody has any comments?). Grossman and J.J. are pushing back on Ichiro. They like the guy, like the way he plays. I hate the way the guy plays. Grossman made a good point, I’ll acknowledge. He plays like a softball player, he admitted. But to do that on a professional level, slapping and directional hitting on major league pitches, is impressive. Agreed. I still say he reminds me of Buffy from “Family Affair”. Nice to see Mikey Rumble back in action on the comments. Acc and Vino were upset with me that I was giving up on the Yanks so early in the “in progress” BPS the other day. What can I tell you? I’m just reacting to what I see. I learned a long time ago that my attitude towards how they are going to fare is not going to affect the outcome of a game. If I have reason to believe that things are or are not moving in the right direction, that’s which way I lean. Just being honest.
So the rubber match is tomorrow. Pedro once again. We don’t own the guy. Every once in a while he pitches a masterpiece against us. But let’s do what we usually do. Bleed him and wait for the bullpen. And beat his ***.
This is going to sound arrogant. This excitement of the upcoming subway series is no such thing, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun to watch, and I like interleague play, and at times I have been just as enthralled as the next guy. But I feel like this wasn’t created for me, the Yankee fan. This is for Met fans. Grossman, you might want to stop reading now. See you in Advanced Corporate Finance tomorrow. This is their big moment. Like the unpopular, not-particularly-attractive girl in high school who gets a hold of a stage (valedictorian, president of the Emily Dickinson/WNBA club at school, whatever) and is just intoxicated with the fact that, at last, everyone has to listen to her.
Odds are, the Mets aren’t going any where, and by August or worse, the atmosphere surrounding the Mets is going to be relegated to a bunch of bitter guys screaming (hoping) on the FAN about which “kid is going to be special”. It’s kind of sad. I remember listening to an interview with Mets broadcaster Ed Coleman, a respected, long-time journalist, last year on Mike and the Mad Dog on the FAN. Now, I can go either way on those two dudes, and I often think they are pompous know-it-alls who somehow have lost sight of the overall importance of sitting around arguing about the all-time best defensive third baseman. Sure, I’ll do it too, from time to time, but I don’t act like it’s going to eradicate Lupus. So anyway, it was right after the Mets supposedly rejected an offer of a Soriano-for-Reyes deal straight up. Now poor Ed had caught Met-disease, which is to say he got caught up in the desperate hype that the Mets and their fans will cling to in a tidal wave of wall to wall Yankee media and PR coverage, in order to have something. So he’s talking about his interview with the Mets GM (pretty sure it wasn’t Phillips at the time, maybe it was, but I don’t remember and I’m not going to spend any more time on it). And he’s so delusional, or at least hadn’t spoken to anyone outside of Met-land in a few days, that he starts to recount the story that he had been telling at Met cocktail parties, or whatever they do. How at first he mistakenly, and shockingly, thought he heard the Mets GM said that he would have done the deal under certain circumstances. And then he laughed when he realized, of course, that he had been mistaken, thankfully. That he had actually said there was no way he would trade Reyes for anybody….funnyyyyy, funny…… Francesca and Russo went after him like he was a plate of linguini. He, and tons of other Mets fans, had been clinging so insistently to the idea that Reyes was going to be the next Ty Cobb that they couldn’t see the nose in front of their face. Soriano, although a Ranger at the time, was a Yankee. They were not about to let two years of “wait till Reyes is ready” go for naught. They just wouldn’t allow themselves to even think that. They actually convinced themselves that this guy was really going to make Jeter look like Paul Zuvella. Even their announcer. Of course, Tom Hicks and the Rangers later denied that they would ever have put such a ridiculously lopsided deal on the table. That was their own brand of delusion. Money, money, money, Mr. Hicks.
My point here is similar to the point Ruddy and I made before game one of the subway World Series. What’s in it for us? There is no downside for the Mets. Endless shots at the title, and if they lose, they were supposed to lose. But if they win, batten down the planet. Does anyone remember the Mets after they swept the Yanks in that series last year? There was more joy, tears, and emotion than Johnny Fantastic’s half-hour best man toast at Acc’s wedding.
You want to hear the funny part? I have nothing against the Mets. I really don’t. I’d like to see Willie Randolph succeed in whatever he does. All of my in-laws are Met fans, and they have learned that I come at it with a very honest attitude. If they are good, I say they are good. If they are better than the Yankees, I say they are better. My problem is with the idiot Met fan who gets in your face every time the Yankees lose a game, because he is in such burning need of an outlet for his frustration and pent-up anger. And I’m not going to be unrealistic. Most of that anger is generated by ******* Yankee fans who continually get in the face of the Mets fans with every victory, small scale or large. But those guys are not to be taken seriously. Those are the same guys who were tying cats to the wheels of their Schwinns. But as for the Met fan, I get it, it’s frustrating. But the minute you get in the average Yankee fan’s face about the Red Sox, you are bringing it on yourself. Don’t complain when they ask you if you want to sign their Subway Series 2000 program, just for a goof. Stick to your own team.
The thing that I do like most of all is that one baseball game is being played by two baseball teams that represent the greatest city in the world, in the greatest city in the world. Play ball.
First things first. I have to disclose that this is the first time I am writing this thing while a game is still in progress (west coast trip…..what do you want from me?). We are in the top of 7, tie game. But a bad tie. A blew-a-four-run-lead tie. So let me get this straight. I’m going to lose this stupid game because of a strikeout? A missed catch on a Tanyon Sturtze strike out of the eight hole hitting catcher Miguel (.140) Oliva? Dammit. There just seems to be some cosmic payback going on here. Somebody has drawn a line in the sand and said ten is enough. A guy strikes out, gets on because the catcher drops the ball, Gary Sheff’s throw hits the same guy in the back, and then takes a bad bounce, allowing him to score? Who is this guy, the luckiest guy since Brady Anderson? Maybe that’s not such a good analogy, because “lucky” in Oliva’s case means “fortuitous while still *******”, while “lucky” in Brady Anderson’s case means “so juiced that his eyeballs almost fell out”. Anyway, I’m not getting the sense we’re going to win this one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sitting here at 12:50am, sweating over a baseball game in May (somewhere Acc is doing the same). I’m rooting for them. But you can smell this one getting away. The bats have already been packed up and shipped back to the Stadium. Posada is killing me tonight. Made a tremendous error on a play that you rarely see. Fine. But then he goes and swings at a 3-0 pitch in the top half of the very next inning. That stuff reaches right down inside my major organs and starts to smolder. And it’s not entirely Posada’s fault (just mostly). This is where Joe Torre and I disagree. I don’t have a whole lot of beef with Torre, believe me. But he has always been a proponent of “turn him (whoever “him” might be) loose” with a 3-0 count. Even worse, “turn him loose to try to get him going”. This is completely baffling to me. Jim Kaat was telling a story of one of his old pitching coaches the other night, I don’t remember which one. [Quick update – top eight two out – Cano just grounded into a double play. Everything falling into place for the M’s] The pitching coach would routinely bring his pitchers out to stand behind the backstop when the hitters were taking BP. His point: the BP pitchers are throwing BP fastballs, and the hitters aren’t even close to hitting all of the balls out of the park, or even hard. Plenty of those batted balls would be outs. He was telling his pitchers to challenge the hitters, because even if you completely groove one, the odds are pretty strong that he’s still not going to get a hit. So back to Torre and Posada. What makes Joe Torre, or Jorge Posada, who is hitting .264, think that there is a better chance that Posada gets a hit, particularly an extra base hit, than a walk. The count is 3-0. Hasegawa was having trouble finding the plate. If you told Mike Hargrove that Posada was about to swing at a 3-0 pitch, he probably would have been ecstatic, because you’re taking a situation in which Posada has a distinct advantage, and handing that advantage right back to the pitcher. Odds are he is going to make an out. That’s how baseball is. [Update – here it comes. Reed doubles, Womack error. Man on third with one out. Dobbs up. But he won’t get it done. It’s going to be Mr. Lucky, who’s up next]
I think it’s only fair to Mike Sherry that I partially retract my sweeping statement that I never have any preference for baseball players who play the game with power. [Update – I don’t know how I know these things, I just do. They get a pop up from Dobbs to save the inning – but here comes Mr. Lucky with the two out single and go ahead run. I just know] There is one guy whose brand of baseball I have always despised, and that is Ichiro Suzuki. Is there any more effeminate baseball player out there? With his wussy little slaps that skid through the infield so he can scamper from base to base. Breaking the hit record? Please. Don’t bastardize the hit record by giving it to that 150 pound runt, just because he runs fast. I know, he’s playing by the rules. Fine. But I say make up a new record for him. How about “Most scampers to first on hits that he could have kicked harder”. Give him that record. Make a spot right in the middle of the record book for it. [Update – one out in the ninth, Gary Sheff on first with Matsui up. Not looking good.]
Speaking of Matsui, that guy is mired. Last year it was Jeter stuck in a ditch until the end of May. Two years ago it was Giambi. Both of those had much better second halves, but didn’t get near their career numbers. Matsui is lost. Bases juiced and a 3-0 count in the sixth, he whiffs. Come on, dude. They had a two run lead at the time, and that probably would have sealed the deal. [Update – just as I’m mauling Matsui, he singles. First and second, one out. If that was the Yankees, they would have kicked the ball around a bit until it was at least second and third. They’re doing it to me. Officially doing it to me.]
Excellent comments on yesterday’s BPS again. Especially Mannino. Yikes. Never thought of that. When we started dropping, so did the ring count. How do we resolve that one?
Okay. How fitting is this? A-Rod bounces out, and who’s up with two outs and two on? Posada. The symmetry of it all is making me puke. I guess what’s meant to be is what’s meant to be. Writing while this game is in progress has been a ripe little slice of **** for me. Remind me not to do this again. This is officially killing me. Now bases are juiced. Someone is toying with me. Apparently Posada is off the hook. Giambi is up. This could either make or break the bandwagon. Looking. Dammit. And believe me when I tell you those six typed letters do not fully represent my reaction. Awful game. Angry. Annoyed. Bandwagon feeling pretty light right about now. The time is exactly 1:29am. Close the book.
My new favorite fun fact. The last time the Yankees won ten in a row was 1998. I don’t need to tell anybody how that one turned out. As I sit here in the “blue room” (aka spare bedroom), the Bosox are down two in Oaktown – top eight but with bases juiced and nobody out. No chance they lose that game. Whatever.
Carl Pavano was the big story tonight. Another complete game shutout. This is how we get to the playoffs and win. First class starting pitching and lights out bullpen. The bats will be there, but lots of teams can hit. Love to see this kind of start from Pavano. He was last seen getting slapped around worse than Gabriel Byrne in “Miller’s Crossing”. By the same **** Mariners. The kid was dynamite tonight. Splitter was putrid. Heater was crisp, right into the ninth. We have officially become scary. Nice night off for the pen. Easy night for Neil Allen’s crew.
The comments were excellent on yesterday’s BPS. First of all, the Lt., who is such a monster that he posted about ten minutes ago. Apparently he’s back from the west coast. Mike Sherry, points well taken, all. I have to give you credit. You found a way to work tennis into your argument. Impressive. I agree with you on preferring Cecil to Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew. It may sound crazy, but here’s my logic. If Wetteland doesn’t win MVP of the ’96 series, Cecil does. Rod Carew never did so much as broadcast work for my Yanks. So I will take the fat, cigar chomping monster, who may very well have been the only major leaguer ever to have “Big Daddy” printed on his spikes. Still not with you on your power point however. I just need to win, and it doesn’t matter to me if I’m Goliath or David with a sack of smooth stones. Frankly, I don’t even have a preference. And I don’t care if I’m the only one watching…. Sean’s comment about the least potent four game hitting streak. Right on. The Giambino did have a game winning RBI in there, but admittedly, you expect more than four 1 for 4’s – all singles – to call yourself “hot”.
Which brings us to tonight. Now I know this is relatively new, and I know there is still a lot of richly deserved hostility out there. This guy has let us down a whole bunch of times. But I just want to state my point up front. I am welcoming all comers to my Giambi bandwagon. Plenty of seats available. Get on board. I don’t need to go into his 3 for 4 night…. I don’t have to get into the bomb he hit, or the three rib-eyes he ordered up. I’m just saying. I’m taking any and all, no questions asked. Was a big night, though. After all, it had to happen tonight. Tonight was the night. Let me take you back three years. A Friday night at the stadium. Beautiful, sunny, 70-something degree day. Somewhere between there and the end of the game – the wrath of God. Rain, wind, cold. The Boys are represented by a crew of about ten. As we’re repeatedly being teased by Bernie with bases juiced and one out in the ninth, Johnny Fantastic is standing behind Jimmy Murray ready to rip his shirt to shreds in celebration (actually, Johnny F. is a Met fan, so he was probably just going to do it for his own amusement). That celebration didn’t come. At that point I had already been reprimanded by security when I started the no shirt – double flex when the Yanks came back to tie it. Any way, long story short, three runs down in bonus cantos, Giambi with the big stick, makes the nicey nice. Many of us have can-openers commemorating the very event. One point does need clarification, however. Michael Kay does it to me all the time. Always refers back to it. May 17, 2002. Does it all the time. But it wasn’t. The bomb was hit well after midnight that night. It was actually May 18, 2002. Why do I know that? Because the next morning, there were ten guys in tuxedos playing stickball in the schoolyard of St. Teresa’s church in staten island. Just killing time waiting patiently for the wedding. Mine, incidentally. May 18, 2002.
I still carry that ticket stub. If the Mrs. ever asked me why, I probably would have told her that it reminded me of our wedding day (at least until she reads this – actually she probably won’t even, so I may be safe). The real reason, however, is to remind me of the lesson we re-learned that night, that I remind myself of every so often, especially when in, say, an 11-19 hole, or worse. There’s always hope.
Happy Anniversary, Mrs. B.
“I hear this place is restricted, Wang, so don’t tell ‘em you’re Jewish.” Caddyshack. Submitted by Chris Woy (did you really shave your head?), who is clearly as on top of his game as Robinson Cano. So I guess the guy’s name is “Wang”, but is pronounced “Wong”. Whatever. I am the world’s most equal opportunity, equal rights, color-blind proponent of freedom of religion, speech, sexual orientation and whatever else you can think of when it comes to the Yankees. I just need to know one thing. Do you win. If you do, I’m on board, because that’s all that matters. Provided, of course, you’re not doing anything weird or perverted that’s against the law.
Another night, another happy ending. Yankee baseball like I know it and love it. To Ms. Mannino’s point (a girl writing comments in BPS – DROP THAT HAMMER!), that guy Brady hasn’t been cranky in a while. Wang pitched very well; the bats came through with some clutch ABs. A-Rod with a big ribbie, picking up that strange play where Matsui and Mike Hargrove took Cano’s run off the board. Jeter and Cano continuing the hot hitting. Giambi with yet another 1 for 4. Can anyone say 4 game hitting streak? The big boy was burning up the Giambi phone lines today, as was Mike Sherry – Acc saying that he blames me for Giambi’s sad state, because I was the one saying he was done after the 2003 season, and Sherry to chastise me for the new position I have taken. What position, you might ask? I am now officially rooting for the Jason Giambi. Sherry is both dumbfounded and disgusted, as evidenced in his comment on the Giambi Open Forum. Mike, as I’ve said, likes the long ball. After all, this is a guy who, in 1998 while driving back from a stickball game where we took down Prunty and the Rumble brothers, was griping that the Yankees traded away Jay Buhner. When I reminded him that it turned out for the best because we got O’Neill, he looked at me mystified. Then he told me I was out of my mind for preferring O’Neill to Buhner. O’Neill was coming off a year in which he hit .323, 23 bombs, and 119 RBI. Top three in MVP voting. Buhner was coming off a year in which he hit .243, 109 RBI – but – hit 40 bombs. What can I tell you? The guy likes the long ball. So anyway, he’s handing it to me good today over the phone, because he feels duped. He was promised bombs, and he’s getting OBP. But I maintain my new position. I’m rooting for the guy. I hope he comes around, I hope he gets it together, all of that stuff. Four game hitting streak.
But enough about all of that ****. Tonight was really about one gentleman. My favorite Yankee, whose shirt I will proudly don at the next game I attend. Mr. Bernabe Williams. The Bern-bino. I’ll say it…. So here’s how it went down. I’m up in the loft in my apartment, all 42 inches of plasma dressed up in YES Network. Hargrove goes to the bullpen to turn Bernie around. I run downstairs to hit the head. Two seconds. As I’m getting to the stairs, I hear Michael Kay speaking excitedly as my cell phone rings. Acc. I lean up to see the goings-on, and I catch Bernie crossing the plate – high fives all around. I had to fess up. “Dude, I missed it”. “What?” “I missed it, dude – I was in the bathroom for a second. How fast was that pitching change?” I saw it on the replay. And it was glorious. Bernabe. Making it nice for the fellas. So clutch. Two outs. Sexson boots what should have been a Tino double play two different ways. You have to capitalize, and that’s what this team does to you. Like McCarver used to say – you give them a crack; they tear it into a chasm. What do you do about playing time, now? Womack sat tonight. You can’t keep that up. I don’t know…..What I do know is that the runs have been there. Hopefully they will continue to be.
Chris Woy’s boy Wang pitched well. That’s good. Bullpen was good. Mo wasn’t sharp, but got it done. The pitching was a good story tonight. Remember, this was a hot team, sort of, anyway. They had just taken two from the Bosox, and scored a ton of runs against them. And again the Yanks got behind but didn’t get down. I flipped the game on after the score was 2-0 (Bachelor finale – the Mrs. wanted to see who Jerry O’Connell’s (fat kid from Stand by Me) brother picked – I don’t apologize for that), and at no point was I concerned.
You want to talk crazy talk? Let’s do it. Yanks are over .500. They are only 2 and a half games behind the Bosox, and five out of first. This after sitting at 11-19 all of 10 days ago. It’s going to get better and better. Maybe not all at once, but slowly this team will start to win a lot more than it loses. Bernabe – still a rock star. Giambi – how about five in a row? Yanks – how about ten?