You take them heaters away from you and you’re nothin’, you know that?…You take the good goods away and the kickbacks and the shakedown cabbage and them pistoleros and you’re nothin’.
That, of course, is Terry Malloy hollering at Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront. Last night’s post title was ripped off of the same movie – don’t know if anyone picked it up. Anyway, there’s a reason for the reference. Believe it or not, nothing to do with the Yankees. I want to thank mlb.com on behalf of the BPS community for awarding us the “Best Community” award on the first annual “bloggies.” I couldn’t think of a more appropriate award for this site, nor one I would want more. Mikey Juice was right on in his comment yesterday. The BPS was started as a way to link up all of the boys by way of the Yanks. The crew encompassed kids from the Rock, (the RockaFellas – Mikey Juice pulled it out), and the boys from brooklyn, staten island, and manhattan. They’re a fascinating group of dudes, as those of you that have been reading all year have figured out by now. And not all Yankee fans. Just most of them. If you haven’t yet, take a look at the “about” link (to the left on the page), right underneath the BPS flagship picture of Mike Rumble, Acc, me, Mike Sherry, and Tony Sherry sitting in section 24. Everyone’s bio is listed. They’re entertaining no matter what the circumstances. I’m just the catalyst. I’m nothing without my pistoleros. The BPS is really about the interaction. The comments from the community are what make it interesting.
I remember the first comment we got from someone from the “outside.” Evilsnare, God bless him. The boys were burning up the phone lines that day, trying to figure out who that was. And he’s never left. And we kept picking up more members of the crew. Ras, H8nBos10, Lucky Leftie, Triple J (that one is borderline, because we knew his brother), Saif, Paul R, Eric, myp, happymediums, lnb, ddagger, and on and on. I’m forgetting people, I know, but I’ll edit when I think of them. I started this thing as a way to get some of this cr*p about the Yankees off my chest, rather than just jabber into the Mrs.’s ear about it. Wasn’t my idea, either. Sean pushed me into it. It worked out for everybody, I think. It became a meeting place for Yankee fans, and baseball fans, to convene and BS about the greatest game in the world. I take all comments; I don’t edit any of them. Pro Yankee or anti-Yankee, whatever’s on anyone’s minds. Of course the Yankee haters would barely have flashed their barbs on the screen before they would feel the sting of Mike Sherry’s counterattack. It was fun to watch. We started out in obscurity, then were featured a bunch of times on the mlblogs home page, and today we were featured on the mlb.com homepage itself (Hence all the traffic, to answer H8nBos10).
I’ll also take a second to recommend some of the other mlblogs that I’ve enjoyed. I never really read the “best blog” winner, The Good, The Bad, and The Barmes, probably because it was about the Rockie-s, and I didn’t care if James Joyce wrote it, I wasn’t going to waste my time reading about them. But I’ve since read it, and I have to say, the kid can turn a mean phrase. Excellent writing. A blog I do read everyday is Red Sox Chick. She’s a bit obsessive about the Yanks, but it’s a very good blog. I enjoyed the sincerity of it, as I did with Down the Left Field Line. Both deserving of their awards. And I always check out Da Bronx Bombers, because some of the graphics stuff he posts is hilarious. Give them a shot if you haven’t.
I’m going to take a bit of a break now. I don’t know for how long. I’ll be back periodically. I’m not much of a hot stove guy, believe it or not. I’m not into the business of baseball. I love the game. Besides, it always seems to me that there are two separate and distinct front office seasons. The suits scoff at certain deals in the winter; they all think they’re Lee Iacocca. Then during the season they would kill for the same deal to help them win games. The truth is it’s so hard to tell what’s going to help you win games until you get out on the field. We need bullpen help. Who doesn’t? Take a look at some of the best bullpen guys out there, including Rivera. Who knew they would be any good? A lot of these guys came out of nowhere. Sometimes you just get lucky. But I promise the BPS will be back in full swing by the time our 2006 championship season rolls around. I’ll need all of you, though. Everybody.
A couple of final thoughts on the Yanks. Anyone who knows and loves baseball knows that no amount of payroll is going to win you a championship. There are too many strange bounces, inopportune slumps, slips, and discretionary calls for anything to be predetermined. But I’ll tell what you money does get you. It gets you 4 million fans in your ballpark; it gets you a ticket to the dance. It gets you to the playoffs. It gives you moments like I’ve had the last ten years. Even when I haven’t gotten championships, which is always the goal, I’ve had Tino and Brosius hitting bombs in back to back World Series games with two outs in the bottom of the ninth down two. I’ll never forget where I was and who I was with. I’ll never forget the feeling of pure joy I had when those balls went out. I watched Jim Leyritz ending a game in the 15th inning and running right past Brian Rumble and me in the first row behind the dugout. I remember going bonkers in the stands when Boone’s home run went out; and when Zeile’s didn’t. I remember being at the Series clincher in ’99 with the the Rumble brothers and Sean. I remember Jason Giambi hitting a miracle grand slam in the rain just hours before I got married, reminding me and the world that there’s always hope. I remember the comebacks and I remember the blowouts. All with my best friends in the world. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. That’s what George Steinbrenner’s money has bought me. There are plenty of teams that have been in the league as long as the Yanks have. How many of those moments have their fans had?
Anyway, thanks to all for showing up and sticking around. For now, like the old song goes, excuse me while I disappear.
I’ve always hated this day. Since I was a little kid. It was mostly in the eighties when it would be the day the Yanks were mathematically eliminated. It’s not as climactic, but it used to give me a sinking feeling just the same. Through the nineties there were plenty of championships to go around, and I loved each one more than the next. You have to enjoy them. They’re not easy to win. There were also a few crushing playoff eliminations to live through. Some were excruciating. I root for some bad teams in professional sports, and I can tell you it’s so much easier to watch a team s*ck all year than it is to have such high expectations, achieve palatable success and then be devastated at the end. That’s why as much as I hate the Red Sox; I would never listen to any Cub or White Sox fan whine about their team’s futility being worse than the Red Sox, while the Red Sox streak got all the attention. The Red Sox came so close so many times, with game seven losses and unbelievable breakdowns. Those guys have some scars to talk about. Talk to any Red Sox fan. Even now, after winning, they all still suffer obsessive paranoia about the Yankees.
So this one was tough. But it doesn’t compare to some of the upendings we’ve had to endure over the last few years. It’s not 2001 and its not 2004. But no one is shedding any tears for Yankee fans. I understand that. And that’s fine. I’m not going to insist the Yankees are a better team than the Angels. I knew this was a tough draw, and I knew the Angels were the right pick on paper. The Angels have always just had our number. I would have taken anybody else. It would be nice to get them in a seven game series instead of this short cr*p, but we would probably just be right back to the same spot in game seven. The Angels had guys come out of nowhere to have an electrifying series. Guys like Bengie Molina and Juan Rivera. Garret Anderson, who had a very disappointing year and almost lost his job, just needs the Yankees to come to town to get feeling like his old self. That guy has been destroying us for years. I’m counting the minutes until he retires, just like I was for Edgar Martinez. The Yankee defense betrayed them tonight, as it has at times all year, but they pitched well all series long, with the exception of game three, when nobody could get anybody out. And the Yankees had a very sub par series offensively, rarely finding the bat that would get the big hit. So many guys left on base all series, yet their four home runs were all solo shots. Nobody said the Angels didn’t get a little lucky, either.
Just because I think he deserves it, I am calling out Joe West. Last seen Friday night making what a media consensus generally agreed was a terrible safe call against Cano to load the bases with nobody out for the Angels, he outdoes himself tonight. How on earth does he decide Cano was running out of the baseline? Tim McCarver was about to say he thought it might have been a good call until he saw the replay, at which time he literally stopped dead in the middle of his sentence. Joe Buck knew it was awful right from the get-go. Both were too cowardly to publicly say that the call was disgusting, reverting to all-too-often cop out of “it could have gone either way”. But you could tell they knew that thing was awful. Not only did Cano never stray from the baseline dirt, he ran directly on the chalk line every single step of the way down to the base. At no point did he stray. And Erstad was unbelievably out of position on first – standing on the inside part of the base instead of the outside, where you need to be to get a throw from the catcher. That was one of the worst and most baffling calls I’ve ever seen in a baseball game, particularly in such a huge spot. The tying run would have been on base and the bases would have been loaded. He pulled three Yankees off the bases with one call. That was positively awful. I’m not blaming one call for the series, but you know what? I would still be screaming about it if the Yanks won, because Joe West deserves to be called out on that disgrace. The umps also blew a call at first, while I’m on it.
Matsui was awful this series. Not such a Ferocious Lion, it pains me to admit. Stranded runner after runner and batted .200. Jeter and Giambi showed up; a lot of guys didn’t. The guy that hurt was A-Rod. I’m inclined to give the guy a break, because I know he’s got enough talent to be a huge figure for this team in playoffs to come, and I generally want him to be happy here and to love playing for the Yankees. But it’s going to take more than an MVP to get this town to forgive him for what he did, and didn’t do, in this ALDS, with the 9th inning double play the nail in the coffin. I’m still going to root for him, though, because I know we’ll need him.
Who do I like in the ALCS? Could go either way. The good news for the Chisox is that the Angels don’t play like they did in the ALDS against everybody. Bengie Molina will hit .220 and will not hit a home run. Garret Anderso-n will not have 7 RBIs (in five games). He’ll probably have 3. They elevate like that only against the Yanks. I still don’t think the White Sox are that good, and I think their pitching will come down to earth a bit, but the Angels have a bunch of issues as well. They are going to have logged thousands of miles in just a few days, Colo-n might be unavailable for the duration, all of their pitchers have been burned up, and the White Sox are all rested, ready, and set up. They could easily win it.
That’s it from brooklyn tonight, guys. I’ll throw together a post-mortem maybe tomorrow, and then disappear for a while. It always takes me some time to shake this off.
I was still trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes this morning (afternoon) when the phone rang. The Big Boy. He was matter-of-fact. “Cousin Bobby’s out. Big Angelo’s out, too.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, trying to collect myself enough to register all of this. “What?” Acc then went on to tell me the story of why they weren’t going, which I didn’t really get, and I still don’t get. Whatever. The issue was that we had two extra tickets. A flurry of activity ensued. When the smoke finally cleared, we had a good crew. Brian Ciampi and Sean Lee got the call. The best way to describe Ciampi is as a 285 pound (that might be conservative) drum of energy and volume (check the picture of him on the Wifflemania photo album – I would have provided a link if I had any idea what I was doing). The kid is a bona fide monster, but he also comes to the game ready to get excited. And it’s worth noting that he’s also out of his godd*mn mind. Sean Lee is a bit less of a nut bar, and spends a lot of time laughing at Ciampi. In any case, I was satisfied that we had the right guys in place to watch a great ballgame.
I was in my Yankee gear by the time the 1 o’clock football games started. I figured why screw around? Kicked things off by heading down to Starbucks on third ave for a chai (still don’t apologize for that – I’m telling you those things are delicious). By about 3, the Mrs. and I headed over to her parents house on staten island to watch the football games (I watched; she graded papers or prepared lessons or something). Talked briefly to Mike Sherry. Acc a few times. We were ready. I was waiting at “The Bat” by game time. Ciampi and Sean were a bit late so I listened to Sterlin-g and Waldman do the first inning on the radio.
A couple of things about the game worth highlighting. First, Chacon was a monster. Could we have asked absolutely anything more from this guy? Many have made the comment that he saved our season. Along with Aaron Small, and yes, Al Leiter, I’m inclined to agree. We were so desperate it was funny. We had one starter healthy at one point. One. Randall. We literally didn’t have anybody else to pitch. We made a deal for Chacon, made a deal for Leiter, and simply called up Small. Two of those guys pitched huge tonight, setting up Marianoo. One got the win.
Which brings me to my second thing. Leiter. When Torre came out of the dugout in the seventh, a collective groan rumbled through crowd. When you get away from the starter, particularly a guy who had pitched so well, you never know what you’re getting yourself into. But aside from that, everyone knew Leiter was coming in to face the lefty Erstad, and no one felt particularly warm and fuzzy about it. Everyone was nervous about Al. Ciampi wasn’t. “I’m telling you, dude, Leiter’s going to be huge for us tonight.” As nuts as the kid is, and I think moments later he was bouncing from one leg to the other, bashing two plastic soda bottles off his head yelling at Garret Anderson in left, Ciampi was right on the money. Al was huge. It’s not just that he got the double play. He threw two nasty sliders early on to get ahead in the count. That’s what precipitated the double play. He deserved that win. Not like Chacon did, but he deserved it.
Next: Jorge. Jorge did everything he needed to do for the Yanks to win this game. For starters, the Angels didn’t get him out. Three walks and a booming double, which was important because it broke up the no-no and smashed through the veneer of Lackey’s invincibility on this night. But the most important things he did tonight pertained to, of all things, base running. Now it’s well-known that Jorge, Tony Siragusa and Ralphie May would be a fair foot race. But there was Jorge, going first to third on Ruben’s huge base hit in the seventh. And then charging down the line on The Captain’s bouncer to third, scoring the winning run by a hair. I thought the Bron-x was going to catch fire. What I loved most is that finally, the Angels luck ran out in the field. Figgins, who is not a natural third baseman, has made stunning play after stunning play, both at third and in center field. Tonight, the Angels had the wrong guys out there. Finley couldn’t catch up to Jorge’s double. Figgins would have had it. And on the bouncer by Jeter, Figgins knew with his shaky arm he would have to zing it as hard as he could. And he threw off target. Safe. It was bound to happen. The slide by Posada was big-time, too.
I’m not even going to talk about Mariano. That one’s obvious. It is comforting that he volunteered to go two again tomorrow, if need be.
I knew they could do this. The Yankees haven’t made things easy for themselves this year, but they’ve accomplished their goals. The regular season goal was to win the division. They were nine back at one point. With three weeks to go, they were still down four. But they won it. Maybe the playoffs will mimic the season. Just when they look dead and buried, they surprise you and come back to win something. Maybe that’s just their personality. In any case, they played a magnificent ballgame out there in the Bron-x tonight. Great pitching; another postseason comeback. I know I insisted that there would be at least one offensive Yankee outburst in this series, and I grudgingly admit that the 7 runs on Friday qualifies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have one more canister of ‘what the funk’ to open up tomorrow night on the Angels. They still owe them after the thumping they took the other night. Until then, we have another night of October Yankee baseball to watch. The Moose is rested and ready. Let’s hope for a good one.
I picked the Mrs. up at her parents’ house after I got back from the game. My mother-in-law made brownies. Nice. She makes a mean brownie. Big Joe and I are always scheming to get a few extras when the girls aren’t looking. Tonight, they were waiting for me when I got back. Victory brownies. They taste even better.
I really must have a hole in my head. It’s raining. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. Yet for some reason, I decide that the Mrs. and I are going to walk to her favorite restaurant, Tuscany Grill on third ave in Bay Ridge. And I decide we’re going to take one umbrella. Seriously, I can be such a jack*ss sometimes. Eventually I just handed her the umbrella, because it was way more annoying to try and carry it for both of us and not get soaked. So I took the soaking, because the rains came, and they have kept coming. The food was good, as always. We went with her favorite, the gorgonzola and sautéed onion appetizer pizza to start. Usually I go with the pork chop with hot peppers, but tonight I went with the spaghettini and littleneck clams with pancetta and chile peppers. The Mrs. went with some sort of baked pasta. Finished it off with Key Lime pie. Got re-soaked on the way home.
Back in May, any baseball fan worth his salt knew that it was getting late early for the Yanks. They were losing games against good teams, bad teams, and mediocre teams alike. I went to the numbers to see if I could figure it all out. I knew that if the numbers told me things were progressing along a misaligned plane, that they would eventually right themselves during a 162 game season. And that’s what happened, as BPS predicted in May. Well now we don’t have a 162 game season for things to revert to the mean. We have exactly one game, then another. But it’s still a useful exercise to check the anomalies.
The Angels as a team hit .270 over the regular season. During the ALDS they are hitting .308, a 38 point improvement. During the season they hit 146 home runs, averaging .9 a game. They were ranked 21 out of 30 teams in that category. During the ALDS they have hit 5, which means they are averaging 1.7 a game, which annualized over the course of a season would be 270 bombs, which would have led the major leagues. During the season they scored 754 runs, which is an average of 4.6 a game. During the ALDS they have scored 18 runs, which is an average of 6 runs a game. Annualized over a full season that would be 972 runs, which would also have led the major leagues.
The Yankees as a team hit .276 over the course of the season. During the ALDS they are hitting .260, a 16 point drop-off. During the year they hit 229 home runs, which is an average of 1.4 a game. During the ALDS they have hit 3, which is an average of 1 a game. During the season they scored 885 runs, averaging 5.5 runs a game, second in the majors. During the ALDS they have scored 14, an average of 4.67 runs a game.
What does all this tell you? Simply that the Angels are riding a plane that is statistically precarious. It won’t continue. No one hits .308 as a team and leads the world in runs and home runs. No one. The problem is, if you catch the right wave, you can do it for short spurts. These very Angels (same uniform anyway) did it in ’02. The offensive numbers that team put up in the postseason were hilarious. So the question remains. Have they reached the crest of this wave, or are they still riding that thing? We won’t know until tomorrow night. Sooner or later though, that wave is going to crash.
More quirky facts about the Yanks post-season history under Torre. I didn’t check any of these, so I’m spinning them off the top of my head, but I’m pretty sure they’re solid. Under Torre, the Yanks are 5-4 in elimination games. They started out 4-0, all against the A’s. Starting with game 7 in 2001, they are 1-4. The lone win courtesy of Mr. Boone. And Pedro. More interesting is the way they’ve finished. During the last three years, they have closed their season by losing at least 3 games in a row, all coming after they had taken a lead in the series. In other words, their aggregate record since 2002 after they won their last game of each year has been 0-12. That’s counting this year. If they lost tomorrow it would be 0-13, and it would be the 4th year in a row in which they’ve been eliminated by losing 3 games (4 last year) in a row after taking a lead in a series. A bit off the beaten path, these tidbits, but it might speak to the resiliency of the team. This team has only lost 3 games or more in a row 7 times this season, and the last time was back in July. All of these unfortunate trends are due to end. Will they end in time? I hope so.
Unfortunately, the BPS, which loves to promulgate the law of averages, fully acknowledges that you can generally chuck all of this out the window in a short series. But it’s something to do on a rainy Saturday in brooklyn.
All it takes is one win. The Angels have played above their heads in the first 3 games. Let’s see the Yanks play above their heads. And their heads are pretty high. No reason they can’t. I’ll be watching from section 24 tomorrow night. We all realize that the rainout helped the Angels much more than it helped the Yanks. Their bullpen is fresh, Bengie Molina, the poster boy for playing over your head, will have had another day to rest his bruised elbow, and they will be playing with the comfort of a win in hand. I get it all. I don’t care. I have seen these Yanks beat everybody. They can win any given game. They can rip off a streak at any given time. They can do it. I know it, and I’ve seen it. It’s kind of like this rainy long weekend in the big town. You know the rain is going to end, you can only wonder whether it will be in time to enjoy it. Yanks in 5.
I checked my cellphone after the bottom of the eighth. I had a million text messages, a million voicemails. I checked the latest “missed call.” Mikey Dantone. I had talked to him earlier, when I was driving to the stadium. I knew he would still be in his seats, three rows behind where our seats used to be over first base, rain or no rain. I called him. “I’ll tell you something,” he says. “I’m sitting here at 11:49pm in the pouring rain, down by four runs, and I just made the call. I’m not having fun.” “Really?” I answered, “I’m sitting here at 11:49 in the pouring rain, down by four runs, by myself. Look down the third base line. See the umpire?” “Yeah,” he says. “Now look past him about ten seats, right against the left field wall.” “Okay,” he says. “See the girl with the white hat?” “Yeah, I got her,” he says. “See the d*uche-bag on the phone sitting right behind her by himself?” He started laughing. At least that was one of us. Acc, his little brother Brian, Cousin Bobby, and Big Ange had left right after the eighth. We have three seats right in the front row and two seats right behind them. A couple of girls came down in the last inning and wanted to sit in the front row. I certainly didn’t care. Tony Sherry also left me two messages. Neither one made the slightest bit of sense. The Lt was text messaging me; my brother-in-law was text messaging me. Most of those were when things were going well. Then – not so good.
Well, I said the Yankees would not let this series pass without an offensive outburst. I spoke to Ruddy today on the phone, and he and I agreed it would be a shame to waste the offensive outburst when Randall was pitching. Well, that’s what happened. And we still lost. The Angels have always been our kryptonite. The only team to have a winning record against Joe Torre’s Yanks. Even in the 114 win 1998 season. They just turn into killers against the Yanks. Garret Anderson, who has for years been a maniacal Yankee-killer, returned to his devastating form tonight. Most of us Yankee fans knew it was only a matter of time. Bengie Molina’s body has apparently been inhabited by an alien from the planet “Eff You”. Chone Figgins, who does not have a defensive home, and is generally not considered an above-average defender, is making plays that P.T. Barnum himself would think impossible. They banged out 19 hits. They hit .455 as a team tonight. That’s dangerously close to getting a hit in literally every other at-bat. Not only did every starter have a hit, all 11 guys who came to the plate got a hit, with the exception of Steve Finley, who still got an RBI. They withstood a five-run comeback by the Yanks. They never panicked, because they never stopped hitting. They smacked balls all over the place. Made you dizzy, almost. But that wasn’t even the best part of their game. Their bullpen, once again, was unstoppable. I have to give Mike Scoscia credit. He manages a great game. His best move tonight was yanking Brendan Donnelly in the 5th with men on. He went directly to Shields, his set-up guy, of all people. In the fifth. He knew he needed to shut the Yanks down right there or else. Shields was not as lights out as he was Wednesday, but he came up huge with his pitches when he had to. Got it done. Escobar, too. The Yanks again had more chances, 10 guys left on base, but didn’t get it done.
What’s the good news? Scoscia burned everybody in his bullpen. So did we, but they s*ck anyway, so who cares…. Shields threw 36, Escobar threw about 30. Those are their main guys. The guys they depend on to shut things down when their mediocre starters start to slip. Most likely they either wouldn’t be available tomorrow, or would be available in limited duty. And that’s big, because Washburn has had some nagging tendonitis, and doesn’t get far into games these days. What’s the bad news? If it was raining any harder right now, I would get my supplies together, wake up the Mrs, and go sit up on the roof to wait for the helicopter. Most likely this thing will get pushed to Sunday, and Scoscia will have everybody rested and ready. Goody. More good news, they could bring back Bartolo and Lackey, and bypass the fourth starter altogether. I don’t think they will. They’re in the driver’s seat.
So how does the big picture look? Not good, what do you want me to tell you…. They beat us with small ball; they beat us by outslugging us. They beat us in their house; they beat us in our house. They’ve out scored us, out-homered us, out-fielded us, way out-pitched us. There is nothing that points to the Yankees being able to win this series. The good news is that if they manage to squeak out a win at home tomorrow (or probably Sunday), they can tie the series up, just like that. Besides, I believed when they were 11-19, so why not now? We’ll need a few lucky bounces, though. And I think the only way we win is if we get monster performances from Chacon and the Moose. They have to be money and they have to go deep. If either one of those guys cr*ps out and we find ourselves with Scott Proctor on the mound in the fifth, we’re dead. I don’t care what kind of a lead we have.
Seriously, Joe West. What are you calling out there at second? Since when is that call made? For anyone who didn’t see, Cano took a throw from A-Rod for a force at second, right to him and well ahead of the runner, and took his foot off the base a microsecond before the ball was in the glove. The throw was right there. It’s not like he got pulled off the bag. It’s a play that first and second basemen make all the time. You take your foot off the base to avoid it getting stepped on. First basemen are constantly lifting the foot a second before the ball is in it. As long as the throw beats the runner, and it doesn’t pull the fielder off the base, the umpire will call the out. That way people don’t get hurt by keeping their foot on the base too long and getting it stepped on, or tripping the runner. So Joe West decides he’s going to call the runner safe, to load the bases with nobody out. Now you’re just being a d*ck, Joe. Seriously. John Sterling said it best on the radio. “That’s a play that happens every game; we’ve done 164 games this year, and I’ve never seen it called. He picked a heck of a time to call that.”
So the Red Sox are dead. Their championship year is officially over and gone. That and my lunch with Berto and Mikey Rumble downtown today was the best part of my day. I couldn’t be happier (okay, I could be, but that was cool). Hearing everybody gush about the Red Sox for the last year always seemed to me like being stuck perpetually listening to Katie Couric. And I’m sure most of the country is elated. The World Champion Red Sox and the Yankees, the mighty Yankees, have played 6 playoff games this year. Collectively they’re 1-5. At least, no matter what happens, the Yankees outlasted them this year. Again. And finished first in the division. Again. Goodnight, Red Sox. And let’s go Yanks.
Just checked the weather for Friday. Rain. From about 1pm to well into Saturday. I have a few concerns. The first is that me, the big boy, Big Ange and Cousin Bobby are going to be sitting off and on in the rain in section 24 waiting out extended rain delays. Acc figures to be about 3 sausages deep if they don’t start on time. Not me. It’s a well-known fact that I don’t eat a whole lot come playoff time. If things are really weird I eat at a first grade level. I think I ate a slice of pizza and a handful of cashews from game 2-7 of the 2003 ALCS. Acc adds meals. He’ll be the first one to tell you.
I’ll tell you what else I do. Every year at playoff time I carefully place one of my Yankee hats, the one I bought just after the Roberto Kelly for Paul O’Neill trade, on top of the decorative cabinet thing the Mrs. has in the living room. It’s kind of like my idea of a living room decoration, I guess. The Mrs. has caught on that I do it every year during the Yankees playoff run, so she doesn’t squawk. She leaves it there. It’s a good thing too, because I’ve decided that if she ever were to mistakenly put it back up on the shelf in the “blue room” where it normally sits, some sort of seam might open up to a fourth dimension in the time-space Yankee continuum. I also know which of my Yankee shirts are secret shmugs. I never wear them when we need a big win. I also know which ones I pull out when we need one. I’ve got it all worked out.
Another of my concerns is that the rain washes out Randall’s effectiveness. I can’t imagine a cranky forty-whatever year old guy wants to stand out there in the rain in October. And there’s no way you’re going to be able to keep getting him up if you get a lot of stoppages. Maybe this is what Torre has been saving Aaron Small for. Not that Saturday looks any better. Saturday looks like rain and thunder. Don’t love the idea of a rainout, I’ve got to tell you.
You know, you almost have to feel bad for White Sox fans. They had the best record in the American League. Second best in baseball. They have home-field all the way through. And they still get zero respect. The BPS has had White Sox-fan readers most of the year. Starting, I guess, with the blogosphere thrashing we gave the idea that Podsednik belongs on any all-star team before Jeter. But a lot of the Chi readers have stuck around. Two of the more recent, consistent, contributors, and good contributors at that – not hostile, always well thought-out – to our comments have been our boys Eric and Myp (still pronounced Mip). Clearly, they have been bit by the same playoff bug that long ago devoured the boys. Eric’s taking off work Friday to watch the game. God bless him. I’m reading their comments. “Be scared.” “You’re next.” Dude, you gotta love these guys. You can tell White Sox fans are groping for some respect; a scrap, a whiff. For once in their lives, they want to be feared. They want to be able to swagger around with everybody not wanting anything to do with them. Can you blame them? You would too, if your team hadn’t won a playoff series in like 50 years. But instead, what do they get? They get a bunch of fans, Angels and Yankees alike, who still don’t think they can win this series, even with a two game head start. And adding insult to injury, we’re all rooting for them to win, and we still don’t think they can do it. Basically, there are a bunch of Yankees fans, who are of the opinion that its never a bad time to knock out the Red Sox, and Angels fans, who have watched their team lose about a hundred in a row at Fenway, sitting there saying – Okay White Sox, just don’t screw this up. No respect. That’s how it goes, I guess, when you’re a playoff newcomer. People are going to need to see you win a few series’ before they’ll start rooting for you to lose. It’s cool, though. You’ve got to start somewhere. And make no mistake; BPS will take all the I-told-you-so’s the White Sox fans can muster if they do pull it off.
I’ll admit this, if I was the White Sox, I would be rooting for the Yankees, too. The Angels are b*stards. And those west coast trips are torture. I didn’t want to play them either.
Mike Sherry plays two vital roles for the BPS. First, he is the BPS guardian at the gate. You may notice that whenever we get somebody posting any obnoxious anti-Yankee comments, Sherry is going to be one of the next comments, “smashing people’s lives”, as his brother Tony likes to say. The other thing he likes to do is mitigate what he perceives to be excuse-making. He and I kind of differ on this. Mike watches baseball the way he played baseball (or stickball, or wiffleball). Refused to make any excuses. It’s an extremist point of view, to a certain extent. Noticing which way the ball bounces in a game doesn’t always have to be construed as excuses. The Indians won a million games in a row towards the end of the year. The BPS told you they were going down. We were right. Not for any other reason than that they had gotten tons of bounces go their way, and their luck was due to run out. Some games, the bounces will go against you. Sometimes they go your way. It’s a part of the game. I didn’t love his comparison. The Angels had three straight balls bounce directly off the plate. I haven’t the slightest idea of the last time that happened, but it was probably before Acc started buying size 36’s. Cano’s shot was a good rip into left field, and if Garret Anderson or any other player would have made the play, it would have had to have been an exceptional play. I see his point, but I also see Ras’s point.
Just to clarify, Mikey Rumble did predict, as published on the BPS post “Prediculous,” that The Yanks would win in 4, with the Angels winning game 2. He just wanted me to remind everyone of that. I’m having lunch downtown with him and Berto tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure I took care of that.
Good luck to the White Sox tomorrow. Whether you like it or not, we’re still rooting for you. Eric, enjoy your day off. Maybe we’ll all get the ALCS matchup we want. By the way, I don’t think there are any Angels blogs to visit. What does that tell you…
The venue was moved. We did not convene at Acc’s house; we convened at Ciampi and Sean Lee’s apartment in East Rockaway. Either way. Brian Rumble, Acc, Ciampi, me, Sean Lee, and a special guest appearance from Wulff and Dino, who like to “go outside to smoke a butt” and be out there for 35 minutes. Mrs. Acc made us brownies.
It was an annoying loss for the Yanks, because they had their chances to win all game. The Angels found a lucky horseshoe and held on tight there near the end. When was the last time any team bounced three straight balls directly off the plate and 500 feet in the air? And Bengie Molina hits a preposterous home run on an “oops” golf swing that was just trying to protect the plate. It happens.
The Yanks have lost three of their last five games. They are due to get it together. They have not scored runs the last two games. They have hit and they’ve had their chances, but they have not pushed the runs across. Four of their seven runs were knocked in by Robbie Cano. Three of their seven runs in the series were scored on one, two-out swing. This will not continue. The Angels have played two “Angel-style”games at home, and only came away with a split. Tonight was the Angels at their best. They don’t kill you with power, but they peck you just enough, while throwing a solid bullpen at you to not allow you to come back. And they play okay defense, but tonight they made some unbelievable game-saving plays. You have not yet seen the Yankees at their best. You will. You don’t play a five game series against the Yankees without seeing their bats explode in at least one game. So the Yankees have that coming, and when it comes, the Yanks will win. The other thing you have coming is Randall. That one is less certain, admittedly. Randall has been a monster over the last two months, but he did disintegrate on the mound in Balt, well before he got tossed. So he may be a monster and he may not. But if he is, I don’t see Paul Byrd beating him in the stadium. If the Angels are lucky, the Yankee explosion and Randall-as-monster game will be one and the same. Then they have one game where they might be able to get back to their style of play. If the Yanks are lucky, Randall will win a close one with a monster game, and the bats erupt in the other game. That would move the Yanks on in four. That’s not to say that the Yanks couldn’t start bashing the ball in both games. After all, they’re at home and they are at the back end of the Angel rotation. The Angel’s next two starters have not pitched anywhere near as well as our next two starters have pitched.
With that said, I would love to have taken two on the west coast, and I would love to win two and finish them off in the Bron-x. But I don’t think its going to happen. I still think we’re going to shock them in game five. I think they are desperately going to be trying to get the series back to game five in SoCal, but they won’t be able to close the deal once they’re back there. Our bullpen is a mess. Proctor, Sturtze, and Leiter. Although Leiter has been pretty good. Molina hit the bomb off of him, but that was a total accident. It was a good pitch that Molina was just trying to foul off. I still say Torre has Aaron Small in his pocket for a reason. He will come up big, before all is said and done.
I had another message from Big Joe as I was driving out to Ciampi’s. He is crowing about his White Sox call. I love it. I know the White Sox are feeling good right now, but I still think the Red Sox are going to win that series. Maybe I’m crazy, but the Red Sox are coming back to their happy comfy place, where they win constantly. They’ve been down before, and they have been at their best the last few years when their backs are against the wall. They’re 8-1 in their last 9 games facing elimination. And I think our Chicag-o guys have a little too much faith in Freddy Garcia. We’ve faced that guy a million times in the postseason, and there’s nothing scary about him. We’ve been kicking his a*s for years. Apparently he has managed to compile some kind of good record “in day games” and “on the road.” People throw those statistical anomalies around all the time. Either he can pitch or he can’t. He’s no big deal. I’m still hoping they lose, though. And nothing would be better than seeing Schilling got knocked off the mound in game 4. I promise I will not root for him to get hit in the mouth, however tempting that might be.
Friday night I will be in section 24 hanging over the blue left field line wall, as usual, with the big boy, Big Ange and Cousin Bobby. I think I will wear the Mickey Mantle shirt. Why? Because it’s undefeated at the Stadium this year. The rain may play a factor. Since Randall is 97 years old, his body may be cranky, although it’s supposed to be warm that night. We’ll see.
Yanks in 5.
I had to hustle out of the office at about 4:30. A guy I work with and I had to be up at Smith & Wollensky’s for an early dinner reservation at 5. I knew I had a long night ahead of me. We jumped on the 4 train and headed uptown. It was a warm night in Manhatta-n, and as we walked to the restaurant from Grand Central, I thought about what a shame it was that the Yanks weren’t playing in town tonight. Would have been a great night for a game. We walked in a bit early, and I immediately spied the Red Sox game on at the bar. I did a double take. It looked like 5-0 Chi. Looking more closely, it was definitely 5-0. What do you know, I thought to myself. They showed up. I checked my voicemail while we waited, and the only message on there was Big Joe (father-in-law). “It’s 5-0……..the Sox are winning,” he says, breaking my balls. “Then he clarified. “I told you the White Sox were going to show up.” He’s right. He called it. Nonetheless, I was psyched. Anyway, the guys we were meeting were from Texa-s. One of them wanted to talk about the Astros and one of them told a story of how someone took him to a Yankee game years ago and he thought he was going to get killed. I went with the Cajun rib eye medium rare. The sides were hash browns, creamed spinach, mushrooms, and asparagus. The whole thing was diesel, as usual. S&W never disappoints. When I finally get out of there, I head back to Grand Central to go a little further downtown before figuring out whether the express bus or a cab was my best bet to Staten Island, where I had to join the already-in-progress birthday dinner for my mother-in-law. I got out at Fulto-n and jumped in a cab on Broadway. Cabbies are usually ripped about having to go to staten island, but this one was relatively cool with it. I flipped my phone back on. I had one text message. The big boy. “6-0 Red Sox,” it says. Wait a minute. Didn’t I see this score already; didn’t I get a message from Big Joe? Did I get it wrong? Did Big Joe? Who the he*ll was I kidding – this was Acc getting it all funked up, as usual. He really is an amazing man. In any case, I called him and left a message, demanding an explanation. If nothing else I wanted a final score. Since I didn’t get him, I tried Mike Sherry. Voicemail. Tony Sherry. Voicemail. I was about to dial Petey Goods, because I knew he would be watching, but I thought as we breezed across the Verrazano Bridge that I needed to find out from Big Joe how close the restaurant was to Hylan Blvd. Voicemail. I called the Mrs. Again voicemail. Just as I’m leaving my 50th message the phone beeps in. Mike Sherry. “Are you watching this, dude,” he asks. It started already?! I looked at my watch. A little after 8:30. I guess it had. “I’m not watching anything, dude,” I said. “I’m in a cab on my way to Mrs. M’s birthday dinner, even though I just came from Smith & Wollensky’s.” “Nice,” he says. “We got bases loaded right now, only because Giambi makes my mom look like Carl Lewis [he said something like that, but I totally don’t remember what it was, so I just made that up]. Cano’s up with two outs.” “Well,” I said, “Cano tends to make contact.” Mike Sherry did the play by play for me, right up until he started yelling into the phone that Cano put one off the wall and three runs scored. It really was beautiful. Then we talked about the White Sox. “You want to hear the funniest part,” he says, “Pussodick hit his first bomb. I guess I gotta give it to him. Maybe that will be my first comment on the BPS tomorrow.” Tony Sherry clicks in. “Are you watching the festival….of lights,” he says in his unmistakably Tony Sherry way. He was psyched that the Ferocious Lion had come up with a clutch two-out hit. He wasn’t long for conversation, as he was starting a card game and he had to separate chips.
I finally got in touch with Big Joe, and he was waiting outside the restaurant for me, waiving the cab down in the middle of the street. Then he leans in and tells the cab driver the best way to get back to the bridge. That’s Big Joe. He likes to keep moving, and he’ll talk to anybody. “We’re doing good, kid” he says to me as we walk into the restaurant.
Inside we had easy access to the TV. The Mrs.’s cousin Kristen’s husband Mike is a huge Yankee fan, so we kept one eye on the score and one eye on the goings-on. Mike’s favorite pitcher, and probably favorite Yankee, is the Moose. Similar to our boy Sean. So he was so juiced to see him dealing. By the time we all left the restaurant, it was still 4-0 Yanks. We got back to the in-laws’ house, and Big Joe, me, and Joey (brother-in-law) watched downstairs on Big Joe’s plasma. Everyone held their breath when Leiter came in, but other than that, we were able to remain calm to the end. Mo had a little turbulence, but Cano definitely should have gotten in front of that ball. And Vlady could easily have been pumped out on the 3-2 pitch. Regarding the Vlady at-bat, will the Yankees please stop the nonsense with the “up-the-ladder” pitch with two strikes? You’ve seen it. Two strikes on the hitter, Posada basically stands up, and nobody is fooled. Free ball for the batter. I guess the idea is to get the hitter to chase a high one, but it hardly ever works. And tonight they do it on a 2-2 pitch to Vlady. How dumb is that? Why create an automatic full count for yourself? They’ve got to cut that stuff out.
So we pulled it off. Got the first one on the road. That’s big. The Angels, as the BPS predicted, had trouble getting enough guys on base to create havoc. As the BPS most definitely did not predict, Moose was a killer. Zeroes all the way. Way to come through, Moose. That bullpen is still a big question mark. We had some strange dudes warming up out there. The Angels showed you why their bullpen is so well respected. They were nasty. That’s why an early lead is never a bad idea against these guys. Most of the boys are going to be gathering at Acc’s house tomorrow night for the game, regardless of the 10:15 start. We’re expecting good things from the Wang-er.
The comments were back in full force, I’m glad to say. Welcome to our new Australian girl. That’s the BPS’s fourth continent represented on the comments. Nice.
As I was heading back to brooklyn with the Mrs. at about midnight, Big Joe calls out to me. “Good day, huh kid? Yanks win, White Sox win. What else could you ask for?” I just smiled. How about more of the same, Big Joe?
Here we go, boys. This is why we show up. It’s October, it’s Yankee time, and we are the kings of October. Never mind checking any specific day or year, it’s a title we’ve earned over a century. And everyone else is a long way from taking it away from us. But we’ve got work to do right here and now, so let’s get at it.
Who’s in the driver’s seat in the American League? The Bosto-n Red Sox. Their lucky star has continued to shine on them. They are set up. Wild Card Shmild Card. I know my Chicag-o guys are going to kill me, but the Red Sox have the easiest draw (I can hear the Chitown keyboards clicking furiously from all the way in Brookly-n). Here’s what I’m saying. Nothing you guys haven’t heard. The White Sox have not been able to beat any playoff teams all year. The closest they came was a split against our Yankees which was, I can say, not exactly convincing. Snuck out of town with two out of three and then coughed it right back up at home. And that was their best effort. Couldn’t beat the Red Sox, couldn’t beat the Angels, couldn’t even beat the A’s. You beat the Indians, though. Why should I believe that the White Sox are going to all of the sudden start beating teams they haven’t been able to beat all year? Eric and myp (I pronounce that “mip”, by the way) were correct. Talk of a “choke” was overblown. The only thing different about the way the White Sox finished up from the way that the Cardinals and Braves finished up was a freakishly white-hot team called the Indians all over their a*ss. After all, it’s not a choke if you finish in first. The team that had the four game lead and blew it was the Red Sox. But that doesn’t change a whole lot. Since June 24, the White Sox are 49-41. For the last three-and-a-half months, they have been a decidedly mediocre team. Garlan-d and Buehrle finished with a couple of good starts, but for the last couple of months they haven’t been lights out by any stretch. There’s no evidence that tells me that they will suddenly turn it around now. The White Sox play little ball. They have won their games by scratching out runs one at a time, while keeping the score low with good pitching. The Red Sox are b*stards. They bleed your starters dry (they learned that trick from the Yankees, of course), and before you know it your starter has thrown 85 pitches by the fourth inning. Then they’re into your bullpen. And from what I’ve seen, the White Sox are using a patchwork bullpen, with Jenks as the closer, seemingly. The good news for the White Sox is that the Red Sox don’t hit as well against guys they haven’t faced a whole lot. The bad news is they eat bullpens like Acc eats lasagna. The Red Sox don’t scratch out anything. They are very much a station-to-station team, slow and conservative on the bases. But they club you to death. And when the White Sox go to the bullpen, you are going to see 260 pounds (and growing) of HGH-fueled fury named David Ortiz waving what can only be described as a magic wand in your face. The bad news: I don’t think the White Sox have a chance. The good news: what do I know? I’m just a jerk on the couch watching. More good news – Big Joe, who was right with me saying the Indians were the odd team out, picked the White Sox to beat the Red Sox, although he wouldn’t specify number of games. He thinks their pitching is going to be lights out. More good news, 7 of the 15 ESPN analysts picked the White Sox to get out of the first round. That’s four more than picked the Yankees. Petey Goods and Acc both picked the White Sox. But here’s the best news, White Sox fans – the BPS is fully, no questions asked, 100% behind you, rooting for your White Sox. I hope I’m wrong, boys. There would be nobody more psyched than me (except maybe myp and Eric) if White trumps Red. We need another draining, super-hyped series with Bosto-n like we need a hole in the head. Go Pods, go Rowand, go Duque, go Konerko, go, go White Sox.
Now for the American League East Champion Yankees. Everybody, but everybody is picking against the Yanks. I don’t blame them. It’s the right pick, on paper. In contrast to the White Sox, the Yankees have played well against good teams this year. They only have a losing record against one. Guess who. This is a terrible matchup for the Yanks. Here’s why. The White Sox peck you to death. The Red Sox and Yanks club you to death. Mike Scoscia’s Angels bring a blend of the two. They play Forrest Gump ball. They are running. Personally, I love it. He’s got everybody running. They take extra bases; they force you to make plays. It’s tough playing against them. You constantly have to be on your toes. This is not the Yankees forte. Cano is a rookie, he makes some weird plays. Giambi is a mess at first. Bernie couldn’t throw out Dom Deluise trying to take two bases on a sac fly, and Posada and Flaherty have had pretty good years defensively, but are prone to lapses. The Angels will steal a run or two with small ball, and then they’ll send up certifiable Yankee-killers like Garret Anderson and Vlad the Bad to smash your life.
It hasn’t been pretty when we’ve played these guys. We’ve only won one series against them since ’97, and they’re the only team to have a winning record against the Yanks in the Joe Torre era. Besides that, they have Bartolo Colo-n pitching two games against us, and he always pitches well against the Yanks. Chris Woy will tell you the least-fun time he’s ever had with me is the night we sat there watching Colo-n no-hit the Yanks for 7 1/3 before Luis Polonia plunked one into right to bust it up. And bleeding him out of the game, as they had so often done to Pedro et al, is moot because they have a sick bullpen, led by that over-excited punk, K-Rod. So why would anyone in their right mind pick the Yanks? Well this goes back to myp’s comment on yesterday’s BPS that I’m biased. Guilty, dude. Everything I say is biased – everything everybody says is biased. I watch the Yankees every day. Most of the boys do as well. We watch every pitch, every out, every run. We are on the phone with each other at 1am in May because the Yanks just pulled out a west coast game. Losers? You bet. Lunatics? Without a doubt. With that said, you learn to pick up on things. You get to know their personalities, trends, and what they are prone to. You learn to believe or not to believe. And every once in a while the facts will get in the way of a good story. But sometimes they’ll make it better. The Yanks are due. Chone Figgins is hitting .487 this year against the Yanks, with a .535 on-base-percentage. That’s 200 points above his season batting average. Well over 10% of his entire season hit total came against the Yanks. And well over 10% of Vlad’s RBI total came against the Yanks. The law of averages will get them, too.
If the Angels lose game one, they are in trouble. Their road would get very tough with Randall staring at them in game 3. But I don’t see them losing game one. Mike Mussina has been at his playoff-best when the Yanks have had their backs against the wall. Down 0-2 at Oaklan-d, game 7 against Bosto-n in ’03 in relief of Clemens, etc. He has been at his worst when he’s started game 1. And add to that the fact that he’s pitched exactly twice since August. My gut tells me he’s going to get his doors blown off in game 1. The only question is how quickly Torre goes to Small. I say pretty quickly. Sean, I know that’s your boy, so let’s hope it works out. The good news is we have Small to fall back on.
So with all of that down, what will happen? The Yankees strike-throwing trio of Small, Chacon and Wang will send the experts to the showers. Without the benefit of walks, the Angels will not be able to get the guys on base they need to get the small ball going, nor have enough ducks on the pond for Garret and Vlady. Randall will be ferocious in game 3. The Yanks will take it back to Angels Stadium for game five and jump all over Colo-n, never looking back. ALCS – Yanks over Bosto-n – in what else? Game 7.
National League? Who cares. The Padres are one of the truly funny jokes of the year, and the Braves and Cardinals are overrated – again. Astros over Cards in the NLCS. Pettite and Clemens leading the way.
The predictions from some of the boys:
Mike Sherry – Yanks in 3, Red Sox in 4, Yanks in 5 (ALCS)
Chris Woy – Yanks in 4, Red Sox in 4, Yanks in 7 (ALCS), Cards in 3, Astros in 4, Cards in 6 (NLCS)
Mikey Rumble – Yanks in 4. Angels win game 2.
Acc – Yanks in 4, White Sox in 5, Astros in 3, Cards in 3
Petey Goods – Yanks in 4, White Sox in 5, Cards in 3, Braves in 4
Mikey Johnson – Yanks in 4
Man, this is fun as h*ll, no?
I was Acc’s house Saturday afternoon when Mo got the last out. Me and the big boy jumped up with a cheer (a masculine cheer) when Tino squeezed it, and we got the double high-five from Acc’s 18 month-old, Christopher. After that we went down to his basement and worked on trying to post the Wifflemania pictures, as they were downloaded on his computer and we were not intelligent enough to figure out how to successfully transfer them. Anyway, we got that done, so check them out, under the album at left entitled “Wifflemania”. While I was working on the photos, I noticed that h8nbos10 had already posted a victory comment, so I figured I would throw a ceremonial post up so people could comment. The plan was that I would write a regular post later that night, but when I saw there were already 14 comments and counting, I figured I would let you guys do the talking. And you shined, boys. Comments were awesome. That includes Saif, who has exposed himself as a definitive Yankee-hater, even though he originally claimed himself to be just a happy baseball fan who “couldn’t understand why everyone was hating”. It’s cool, bro, BPS accepts all comments. Keep reading and posting. But we may refer to you as “Saif the Hater” going forward. Although you may get a pass because you stood up to fight for your country. That we respect. Happymediums, many thanks for that Dan Shaughnessy article. That thing was purely priceless. My favorite part was the so-often-sung song that the Yankees had “no alternatives in the farm system and no one who could be moved.” Right, Dan. What sport do you write; baseball was it? Aaron Small and the Wang-er would qualify as alternatives in the farm system, I would say, and apparently we had what we needed to acquire Al Leiter (remember back to that Sunday Night, Dan?) and Shawn ********************.
Not a lot on the game today. The Yanks rolled the dice with Wright, and boy did he puke it all back up. Five walks in 3 and 1/3? What’s the matter with you, dude?
Anyone catch Damon’s comment after the Yanks clinched? “Curt better show up tomorrow.” Clearly they hate that guy. Just like they did in Philly, and just like they did in Bank One ballpark. It’s difficult not to, I suppose. He is such a me-first guy, and so utterly unlikable. Makes him tough to root for. And he got hit pretty good today, although he kept the runs off. I still wouldn’t feel comfortable with him on the mound if I were Francona.
I was also pretty furious with Buck Showalter today, I’ll admit. I understand that the Yanks didn’t exactly go all out to win their game today, and they rested some key people, which I am cool with, but what is Buck doing? On fan appreciation day in Tejas, he yanks all of his starters in the 3rd inning with a 4-1 lead? His team is already cooked for the season. The fans came to see these guys play, the game had significant playoff implications, and his guys were about to get 4 months off. Someone explain to me why it’s so important to let his best guys sit on the bench while the Angels immediately feast on the C-team and score 6 unanswered runs to secure home-field. Like I said, the Yanks didn’t exactly run through walls to win their game, so it’s tough to blame anybody, but I’m still scratching my head on that one.
I’m going to post my playoff preview tomorrow (I’ve got to dream it all up first), so today we’ll just reflect a bit on the season. As Vino posted on his comment yesterday, the earliest posts are interesting to breeze through. The BPS was borne of an e-mail I had written to a bunch of the boys after doing hours of number crunching to try and figure out why the Yankees were 5-10. It didn’t make any sense to me. They were a good team with good players. When the statistical anomalies became apparent, my conclusion was that the strange losing binges would simply not continue. The Yankees were doing all kinds of things right, and did not have the wins to show for it. And the things that they weren’t doing right were so far off the charts that to continue at the rate they were going meant they would have to create a new stratosphere for the futility records they would set. And that wasn’t realistic. So we said they would turn it around, and they turned it around. We said they would finish in first, and they finished in first. We made the call not because we are all blind Yankee fans, but when you looked at the team with an analyst’s eye, they were the best. That’s it.
There is a significant anti-Yankee bias in the baseball writers’ community. I’m not blaming anybody; I can’t say I would be totally psyched to see the same team piling on at home plate and on the mound year after year. But to deny it is silly. Thusly, I would find it hard to believe that either Torre or A-Rod will win awards. We’ve been through the MVP stuff, but many have said here in NY that this was Torre’s finest season, and clearly his most difficult. Some will say that his team should be good with a $280mm payroll. Yawn. I don’t care what your payroll is, it’s not going to magically make those players perform, or even be available to perform. Giambi gets paid plenty, but when his body was going through Winstrol-withdrawal he was a useless out whose wallet was bigger than his bat. Womack was brought in to play second. That didn’t really work (although I will admit they never really gave that one a fair shot), so Torre went with a rookie. Sierra fit in well as the DH, until he blew out his hammy. Then no more Ruben. The musical starters they were playing for a while really had to test his patience. But most of all, he had to deal with a team who found itself in shock, and in the cellar, when the early part of the season fell into “bizarro world.” Then, after they had worked themselves out of the first 11-19 nightmare to win 10 in a row, they fell into what the BPS classified as “Nightmare II” and “Nightmare III”. Prolonged losing streaks in which it looked as if M. Night Shyamalan was writing the script for each game, with the Yankees in the starring role; sure of their lines and projecting to the back row. But through this mess, Joe kept this team together, calling on their talent and the logo on their uniforms as qualifiers. They were the New York Yankees. He asked them to show everyone why. They closed ground very quickly in their division. They were 4 games behind the Red Sox on September 10. That’s a lot. But now, they are the 2005 American League East Champions. Their higher aspirations will not allow them to measure this as an accomplishment. But I will, if only for a moment. And this is their moment.