"This is it. Where Forestal cashed in." "A friend of yours?" "A competitor. He was good. He was very, very good."
- Indiana Jones to his guide in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Never a bad idea to open anything with a line from Raiders, as far as I’m concerned. But here’s the analogy. “This” in this case, refers to the end of the month of April. Forestal, in this case, represents the 2005 Yankees. And “cashed in” is metaphor for the tank into which the 2005 Yankees were spiraling. The Yankees were desperately trying to avoid falling ten games behind Lee Mazzilli’s Baltimore Orioles. What a difference a year makes.
Not saying that we’re in the clear, here, but I am saying that this team is already sitting a few games better than last year’s bunch. Sure, they have shown some hints of the same predilections; the uneven run-scoring, the maddening failure to produce in the clutch in close games, etc. But for the most part, this team has clogged up many of the holes that the 2005 bunch suffered. J ohnny Damon was a tremendous addition. I have long been a proponent of the “bleed the opposing pitcher” philosophy. You have to chuckle at some of the folks who have been credited with “inventing” this. Although it’s waning these days, for a while everyone was crediting Billy Beane with being the guy that brought this mindset to the major leagues. Please. They say that history is written by the victors. Not this time, obviously. Any Yankee fan knows the story of the plane ride back from game 5 in Seattle in 1995 when Gene “Stick” Michael pow-wowed with some of the senior members of the Yankee brass and decided to re-model the team to “take more walks and see more pitches.” They had seen the way that Wade Boggs, Paul O’Neill and Don Mattingly had set the tone for games, making pitchers work by taking and fouling off pitches. And that’s what the Yanks did, getting lead-off man Chuck Knoblauch as the centerpiece of their off-season. And you could see the results. Starting in 1996 and continuing with their later acquisition of Scott Brosius, they were into the fat part of the bullpen by the fifth inning most nights. And when guys like Pedro came to town, they got the same treatment. Still to this day, Pedro’s teams win at about a .250 clip when he starts against the Yankees, although he manages to avoid a good deal of the losses. But that’s extraneous. They win. That’s what matters. So along comes Michael Lewis, former bond salesman at Solly Bros., and crowns Billy Beane as the genius behind this strategy. Whatever, dude. And there were plenty of people before the Stick to “invent” it, I’m sure. There’s nothing new under the sun, as the say…well, almost nothing. But getting back to the point, Johnny Damon is that guy. He’ll take 25 pitches during the course of a game by himself. That’s a quarter of a pitcher’s bullets. I know all of the old-school guys go nuts when they see today’s pitchers get yanked after a hundred or so pitches, but you know what? Time and time again the numbers show that pitchers just flat-out lose something after 100. You could argue that the reason for this is that pitchers are only conditioned to last that long these days. Maybe. But if you’ve ever watched some of the Yankees classics on YES, or any other old-time game, you’ll see lots of guys who are pitching while clearly spent. I’ll give you a great example. Goose Gossage in the “Bucky Dent” game. The Goose went the last three innings that day, but was so spent he almost cost them the game. There was no way he should have been in there that long. He had nothing left when Piniella made that one-handed play to save the tying run from scoring. These days he would have been gone, purists be damned.
This ability to bounce the starters has been one of the two factors that separate this year’s team from last. The other is the pitching. Second in the AL in ERA. Last year at this point we were last. By a lot. We’ve had some hiccups, just like everybody, but for the most part we’ve had very competent starters and a very competent bullpen. We’ve also bashed a lot of brains in, which makes it a lot easier to pitch, I’ll admit. The BPS implored everyone to wait for the Yankees number one power hitter, the law of averages, to get warmed up. It’s starting to swing a pretty big bat right about now. We’re just better. That goes a long way in this game. We’re in first place right now, percentage points ahead of Boston. That may or may not last in the short term. But in the long term they will have trouble playing with us. Everyone will. Take Toronto, for example. They won one out of three, but were outscored by nine runs in the series. That’s been true of most of the teams the Yanks have played. Even the ones that have beaten them two of three. And the law of averages dictates that losing a series in which you score more runs isn’t going to happen very often. In closing; we’re in real good shape.
Lucky, we’re close to lots of foul balls in our seats. We’re a bit up the line from the tarp. We’re about halfway from the tarp to the foul pole. I can’t remember who hit the first bloop double down the left-field line for the O’s, but you could see Mikey Juice and Tony Sherry reaching their huge meat hooks over the wall reaching down for it, because neither one of them realized it was a fair ball. This is what we deal with…. H8n, phenomenal clip. It never gets old. HappyMeds Geoff, here’s hoping that Giambi keeps using the Bam-Bam stick (whoops – double entendre?) in Boston. JD, Acc does lots of innovative and amazing things with food. He likes to thinks of himself of an artist. An artist who is 270 pounds.
So let’s head up to Boston. Although I’m sure this isn’t what Ernie Banks meant – let’s play two!
“It’s turning into a frenzy up here,” said Tony Sherry, a bit anxiously. As well it might. Mikey Juice and Tony had just come back with “the first wave.” Three sausage heroes, three plates of chicken fingers, two hot dogs, three cheeseburgers, and a few high piles of french fries (did I forget anything, boys?). Well, you can call it the first wave if you don’t count the warm-up – two bags of peanuts. Mike Sherry quickly appeared with two more rounds of beers. Before long, Juice was hunched against the left field wall, mumbling, “I’m so fat that I’m holding myself up right now.” At one point the kid behind us says to Acc, “Is that a chicken finger on your hamburger?” The big boy calmly replied, “Yes. And French fries.” They were referring to the fact that the Big Boy had stacked a piece of chicken and a bunch of French fries on top of the burger, underneath the bun. Acc really is an amazing man. After that display all of them swore off food for the next two weeks. So about one inning later Mike Sherry was asking when Acc was getting his usual round of “dippin’ dots.” Acc reminded him that it’s bad luck to get them before the seventh inning. So Mike Sherry and Acc tided themselves over with a bag of cracker jacks…
The sixth is when things started frantic. I was getting surlier by the second as the Yankees had failed to score in 10 straight innings going back to last night. And when the Rays pushed a run across, I was unfit for conversation. But along came the sixth. We knew we got our break when Branyan booted that ball and the Yanks put men on first and second with two out. A-Rod gave us some nervous moments working out that walk, and we felt the right guy in Giambi was up with bases juiced (no pun intended). But before the first pitch of the at-bat, Tony Sherry turned around and said, “On deck.” I nodded my head. “Dude, if he was any more due they would be letting him swing the “big green wiffleball bat” (you guys know what I’m talking about – the huge wiffleball bat you had as a kid until you broke it trying to see how far you could hit a ball. Yours may have been a different color). So Giambi rolled the most pathetic ribbie groundout you’ve ever seen to first. But it did the trick. After the last few days, we weren’t at liberty to split hairs. Tie game. Up stepped the Ferocious Lion. Tony Sherry leaned out against the wall, focused. I asked him if he had a plan for the dance if “it” happened. “You don’t plan these things,” he scolded me, puzzled that I would ask such a ridiculous question. First pitch, base hit up the middle. The crowd erupted. Tony went nuts, but held off on the actual dance, because he says he can only do it after a bomb. Didn’t matter. People from two sections over were coming over congratulating him on the Lion’s hit. Finally. The game was over right then and there, any everybody knew it. The next inning Sean stopped bye and we all celebrated with five helmets of dippin’ dots – one of each flavor. Mission accomplished.
Later I called Mikey Dantone, just as “Enter Sandman” started to rip through the stadium. He knew why I was calling. “I’m home, bro. But I’m watching.” “Can you hear what’s playing in the background?” I asked. “I hear. Bring it home, bro.” And so we did.
Worth noting that before any of this, Tony and Mike Sherry met me downtown at around 5:30. We made a quick pit stop into the Yankee clubhouse store at the Seaport to gear up. Tony got the Matsui t-shirt with the Japanese writing, Japanese flag and Yankee symbol, along with a nylon zip-up. Mike got a Yankee t-shirt and sweatshirt, and I got another Bernie shirt (just for good measure), a windbreaker-pullover, and a wool Yankee hat, which I proceeded to wear all night (hey, it was a little chilly – I don’t apologize for that; even though the Sherry brothers were wearing shorts…..). We still need to figure out which articles are officially lucky, but I’d say they all got off on the right foot. Any way you slice it, we came back with a win for the fellas…
A few notes on the game. Derek Jeter is crushing people’s lives. He is completely locked in. Shawn Chacon was lucky to wiggle through his last outing, but he looked solid tonight. I know, it’s the Devil Rays, but he kept the Yanks in this game until the law of averages kicked back into gear. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but when you’re hitting and pitching is near the top of the league, you’re going to win some games both ways. Tonight we won because of pitching. Nice way to win.
Can’t help but notice the Red Sox got their bumpers peeled off tonight. Beckett. Maybe this will finally shut people up a bit. We’re talking about a guy who had a career record of 41-34 before this year, with a 3.51 career ERA and a history of injuries. He was never the second coming. But everybody (specifically Red Sox fans, Met fans, and everyone who hates the Yankees) was hoping and praying he would be the next Clemens for the Sox. Nine runs in 3 plus innings, eight earned. Whoops. First Clement, then Schilling, now Beckett. The Sox staff is quickly coming back down to Earth. I will say this, though. Those Cleveland Indians can hit, and they are going to be tough, tough, tough.
Welcome back, Ras and Saif. We missed you guys for a while. Don’t worry. We’ll catch the Sox. We always do. Just ask H8n….Happy Meds Geoff, nice work on the link. A-Rod has to start using his head. JD, No dance, but I took plenty of pictures that I will post this weekend. G-deuce, no Deki-Dance, no video. Maybe next time we’ll hook it. Reid, thanks for the clarification on the comment. I agree with Lucky, Jason and JD. Schilling is a d*uch*bag. By the way, guys. Nine comments. So close. So close…
The BPS has a solid won-loss record in games attended so far this year. And why not? You have a job to do, you do it. And if you can be there when your favorite player wins the game for his team, even better. Tony Sherry smiled all the way home.
Buckle up. It’s time for yet another bumpy ride. I was half-inclined to dig back into the archives and simply dust off one of last year’s posts. What an unqualified, un-tethered, unmitigated disaster. Couldn’t have written a more haunting script. Followed last year’s travails to the letter. Wang deserved better. Farnsworth deserved better. We the fans deserved better. And you know what? The D-Rays didn’t deserve this at all. I can’t sufficiently express in words how humiliating it is when maybe the worst franchise in baseball history sets a record for walking 14 batters, the most men they have ever walked…. and yet they still beat you in your own house. You might be able to see it if the game was a total slugged-out bloodbath. 14-12 or something like that. Then maybe all bets are off. But anyone want to take a guess at the odds of walking 12 opposing batters while only scoring two runs at the end of nine innings and still winning the game? I have to believe it’s the first time it’s ever happened in baseball history. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m sure somebody at Elias is crunching the numbers right now. But I’m saying that’s the first time ever. Forget perfect games, no-hitters, cycles, triple-plays, etc. Tonight we witnessed a first in baseball history. Joy.
First I’ll give credit where credit is due. Chad Orvella is kryptonite to Yankee bats. His career record is 4-4. His record against the Yankees is 3-1. In his career, batters are hitting .266 against him. Against the Yankees, he has allowed 4 hits in 12.2 innings. I could go on and on. He was masterful again tonight. Sure he walked too many guys. But again, not one Yankee got a hit against him. And I give credit to Devil Ray manager Joe Maddon for going to him after Harper went 2-0 on A-Rod with a man on and nobody out. This game hung so precariously for the Rays for so long that absolutely everything had to break right for them to win this game. Maddon made a quick move and was rewarded.
Now the good news, although it’s going to come in the form of bad news. We had 6 guys in the lineup hitting .298 or better at the start of this game. We then proceeded to go 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position tonight. And one of those 2 hits didn’t even score a run. The biggest culprits were Sheffield (8 Left on Base, although I’ll give him a pass because he had the lone hit with RISP), Posada (6 LOB), The Lion (5 LOB), Jeter (4 LOB), and A-Rod (4 LOB). There were 27 guys left on base tonight (in aggregate, with some left on by more than one guy, in case you’re crunching the numbers) by those 5 guys, whose batting averages were .347, .298, .271, .391, and .309, in that order. I’m going to play with math here. Let’s assume everyone hit according to their average in those situations. Given the at-bats they registered tonight, you could expect just under 7 hits (6.8) collectively for the group. We got two. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay gets a bleeder through the middle with two strikes in the tenth to for a leadoff base hit by the fastest guy in baseball, Joey Gathright, and he comes around to score the winning run. With a runner on second for the Yanks and one out in the eighth, Orvella sticks out his glove and gets a birthday present on a ball ticketed up the middle that would have scored a run. So lucky that he gets the runner leaning off second. In the second inning, Damon Hollins looked at strike three, but Derryl Cousins calls a ball. I hate to get on balls and strikes again, but I’m pretty sure that was the best pitch I’ve ever seen that was called a ball. Al Leiter (in the broadcast booth where he belongs) asked out loud where that pitch was that it was called a ball. And as Ken Singleton and Jim Kaat watched the replay, each of them remarked that they didn’t know if Cousins was calling the pitch high, low, inside or outside. And it would have been the third out and the end of the inning. But guess who came around to score the second run (in a game that was 2-2 after nine innings). The point? That yet again, fate is converging on the Yankees all at once, and that tonight they once again found themselves nestled in the perfect storm. So how is all of this the good news, as I insisted at the beginning of the rant? Two reasons. First, just like last year, it won’t continue. The law of averages will get you every time. If the Yankees continue to take walks, put men on base and bleed pitchers, they will be extremely successful in the long run. Games like this one, where the Devil Rays can sit back and count their lucky stars, will be few and far between. Which brings me to my second reason. This game, although maddeningly like last year, was also not like last year at all. Last year the Yankees went to sleep early and waved at the ball all game, while the D-Rays got sterling performances from also-ran pitchers. It was much more difficult for the D-Rays to win this game tonight. They needed luck, Yankee brain-cramps on the bases, more luck, and every competent pitcher they had. Orvella threw 46 pitches tonight. Guess who can’t pitch tomorrow. Miceli threw 22 pitches. After all the futility, it took a solid play from Wigginton, with a fortuitous bounce right back to him as it caromed off of his glove, to get the last out with the tying run in scoring position. Last year the D-Rays did a lot of coasting against the Yanks. Tonight they barely escaped.
The Yankees will win a lot of games when the numbers start to even out. They are second in the AL in ERA, and third in the AL in runs scored. Any team that can claim that distinction at the end of September will make the playoffs. Period.
With that said, the boys and I are taking responsibility for a win tomorrow. The Ferocious Lion, who is so due it’s scary, will have to hit a bomb for his number one fan, Tony Sherry. He hit one every single game Tony went to last year. Besides, I want to see the new dance. Even though Mark Hendrickson pitched a complete-game three hitter his first time out this year, the Yankees will beat him tomorrow. Even if he starts hot, and the Rays play full of confidence based on tonight, the Yanks will still get them. The law of averages. You can run but you can’t hide.
I thought I heard the Mrs. say something about chicken francaise tonight, but when I walked in it looked like leftover pot roast. Hey, I was in no position to argue. The Mrs. always has something ready to put out on the table, and I’ll take it, whatever it is. Because if it weren’t for that I would end up with a goose egg. So I held off on checking the score right away, even though I knew the game was probably in about the third inning or so by then. I couldn’t take the risk that things might be weird. If a game isn’t going well, then sitting down next to me would be like sitting down next to Jake LaMotta right after he found out his wife was heading out for a few drinks with Salvie. So I sat tight, eating my pot roast (with some mashed potatoes and peas and carrots, just like the micks that we are). The Mrs. put on American Idol in the background. Simon Cowell was crushing Katharine McPhee’s life because she “wasn’t Whitney Houston.” Easy, dude. Nothing Bobby Brown and a good crack pipe couldn’t cure, I’m sure. Anyway, I finish up dinner and tried to decide whether to check the score on the gamecast or the TV. I was trying to remember which one has brought me better luck. I decided the gamecast was too risky to chance it. I had to do it hardcore – I had to go right to the YES network. Decided against putting on the lucky hat before I flipped the game on. Too drastic a move for this early in the season. Top 5. 4-1 good guys. Nice. Moose was killing people again, but this time with run support. It’s about time. I shot a quick tm to the Lt. “Enter the Captain.” I pondered for a second if I would use that as a title for the blog today. Decided against it. Just then the phone rings. Tony Sherry. “Are you watching the cranberry devastation?” The kid speaks an entirely different language. Good thing it wasn’t fifteen minutes before. I would have had to pretend I was watching right along. “Of course I’m watching it dude. What else would I be doing?” (I dunno – watching Chris Daughtry rip Have you ever really Loved a Woman by Bryan Adams on American Idol….) But Tony was calling me with a purpose. “I just left a comment on the blog.” He then described it to me. His new Ferocious Lion Dance. I suggest you check it out. Maybe I’ll take a video of it at the game on Thursday night and get my boy Gabe from Da Bronx Bombers to show me how to post it.
Will this do it? Will this get us off on the right foot against this miserable team? I’m still p*ssed about the ordeal they put me through last year. The Captain has a knack for timing, doesn’t he? Just as we were debating his legacy he stepped in and reminded everybody what’s who. I was thinking about the comment from Jonathan the other day when I was watching Jeter put up his 18th ribbie in 18 games. “David Wright will probably become a better hitter than Jeter ever was, but he’s going to have to win some championships to earn Jeter status in NY,” said he. I know where he’s coming from, but this does speak a bit to the lack of credit Jeter gets for being a superior hitter. You’re talking about a guy who has averaged almost 200 hits a year in just over ten seasons. You’re talking about a guy who will very likely get 3000+ hits. He has more hits than anyone in baseball since he broke in. Tough to say that a guy in his second full season is “probably going to be a better hitter than Jeter ever was.” That’s a monster statement.
I loved to see Schilling get roughed up tonight. He got bailed out by Manny late, but averaging almost a run an inning for 6+ innings is not a good outing. You have to wonder what Terry Francona was thinking. Leaving him in there for 133 pitches? What was he doing? Trying to get him a win? Trying not to yank him early so as to avoid having to face his first failure of the year? You have to scratch your head. Curt Schilling has not been healthy past August for about the last 4 years. Even two years ago, he was banged up late in the year. Although I guess you never really know for sure with him, because you always have to take into account the fact that he creates little aches and pains so he has an excuse for himself if he gets hit hard, and he can create a story for himself if he “heroically suffers through the pain,” etc, etc. The BPS has never been shy about dogging Schilling and his ********. He got his doors blown off in game one at Yankee Stadium in the 2004 ALCS, and then it was – “Ooh, ooh – it was because my ankle hurt!” Then, miraculously, he comes back on regular rest and he’s okay. Was he perfectly healthy? No. But was he “bloody sock” hurt? No again. But by then it was a no-lose. If he lost it wasn’t his fault, and if he won with his ridiculously phony sock, he was going to create a little tall tale for himself. And boy, did those ******* from Boston eat it up. But I guess that’s what you do when you haven’t had anything else to hang on to for 86 years.
JD, I may have given you the wrong impression. We will be in section 24 on Thursday. We weren’t there tonight. But somebody brought us back a win. Well, it looks like we’re all pretty much in agreement. Triple J, Reid, Jason, Happy Meds, Lucky, et al. Jeter is the man. For reasons just like tonight and every other night he’s started it, been in the middle of it, or ended it. Just when you need him, you look up and there he is, getting it done. Peter Gammons says it all the time – if you’re building a major league team, and you have to start with one guy; forget pitchers, closers, sluggers, speedsters, etc. You take Derek Jeter.
We’re set for section 24 on Thursday night. The Sherry Brothers, the Big Boy, Mikey Juice, and me. That makes a few things highly likely. First, the amount of food that is going to be consumed will probably pay for George Steinbrenner’s dry cleaning for the next two years. Second, it is highly likely that The Ferocious Lion will hit a bomb, as he almost always does when his #1 fan, Tony Sherry, is at the game. There should be no mistakes about this one. I am taking responsibility for bringing back a win.
I love when the press gets a hold of a silly stat and rides it. Some genius picked up on the fact that the Yankees are 8-0 in day games and 1-8 in night games. Meaningless. Try 5-1 at home and 4-7 on the road. It’s a lot more relevant. The day/night thing is just silly. Five of those games were in an enclosed stadium anyway, so that much of the difference is moot. So far, so good, I think. The Yanks are just better than most of these teams. They have had some tough bottom-of-the-ninth umpiring go against them, but I fully expect that it will even itself out over the course of the season. Besides, I’m sure there are some Orioles fans out there who still think that haven’t been properly compensated for a precocious young gentleman named Jeffrey Maier. Who, apparently, is playing college ball these days, and just set some sort of doubles record for the college he plays for. Hard to believe it was ten years ago that he turned a fortuitous “dentist appointment” into high drama at the Stadium. I remember watching the game with my mom, and having to leave to go play in a softball game as they were playing the ninth. I also distinctly remember trotting in from left-center with Brian Rumble after the first half-inning of my game and hearing some guy in the stands say that Bernie had just banasticrated a walk-off job. He wasn’t my favorite Yankee back then, I’ll admit. Paulie O’Neill was that guy then. But only because Donnie Baseball had recently hung them up. Pardon the digression, but it never gets old for me.
So I guess I’ll have to settle for six comments today. Until Lucky waltzed in towards late afternoon, I had zero. Ouch. But when they came in they were pretty good. I don’t have a stat counter or anything like that. I have absolutely no idea how many people read this thing. Frankly, it doesn’t really interest me. I just like to BS about Yankee baseball with you guys… JD, I’m glad you put the counterpoints you’ve heard on the table. It always makes for interesting debate. Keep telling us what you hear. We know you’re representing us up in the Great White North. Vino – I call it like I see it. A mamaluke is a mamaluke. Happy Meds Geoff, I agree with you. I think Big Papi washed down his HGH shake with Lou Merloni. And don’t get me wrong. By no means am I saying the guy isn’t a fat b*stard. That’s exactly what he is.
Some more on the David Wright debate. I won’t call it the Wright vs. Jeter debate, because even Met fans aren’t positioning it that way. But a large number of people seem to have commented that rings will bring him to “Jeter status.” Will he be a better hitter? He could very well be. But Mike Piazza was also a better hitter for the first five years he was in New York. But I guess that brings us back to the rings. The catch here is that Jeter was in the right place at the right time. Jeter has made the playoffs every year he’s been in the league. He’s been MVP of the All-Star game and the World Series in the same year (who did they beat in the series that year? …oops…. that’s right…. the Mets….sorry Grossman – I didn’t mean it). And when the World Baseball Classic came around, who made the all-tournament team? Yup. Jeter. I’ll say it again. David Wright is a very special player. He’ll be awesome. But even a ring or two might not get him to Jeter status, because Jeter caught lightning in a bottle, and was never without an all-world supporting cast. And with all that said – maybe Wright does pull it off. Who knows?
Here’s to hoping that we don’t have to suffer another major league meltdown at the hands of the Mighty Devil Rays this year. I don’t think I can take that again. Just kick the ever-loving tail out of them and move on. Last year was maddening. Losing three of four at home, and the one game we win we score 20 runs…. Awful.
Seanny! Your boy’s up again!
So here’s how it went down. I was out with the Mrs. on Friday night. Jean-Georges on Central Park West. Definitely pompous but friendly at the same time. Food was cutting-edge, if you like that sort of thing, but it was tasty, I have to admit. I blew it by getting the third roll. Not sure what I was thinking with that move. And maybe the cheese course was a little bit over top. I was over-full walking out of there. Before we left to go to the restaurant, I was watching the first few minutes of the game. Wang got himself into a little trouble in the third, but got himself out of it with a ground ball out to Jeter with two outs and the bases juiced. Whoops. Bad call call at first. First base ump Jerry Crawford blew the call and called Melvin Mora safe. Replays clearly disagreed. The good news is that this all had to happen with bases juiced and two outs, so the runners were moving on the play, and two runs scored. Mint. Then a base hit scored a third just to top the whole thing off. So this is how I left the house. It’s a wonder I was able to hold it together. We got to the restaurant and waited for a little while at the bar, but when we finally sat down I pulled out my phone to turn the ringer off. I saw two text messages waiting. One from Acc and one from the Lt. The Lt’s read simply, “Mr. March.” No explanation necessary on that one. Obviously an opportunity missed. Acc’s was more intriguing. “Cano big hit.” That was good news. Acc wouldn’t write that if we weren’t tying the game or taking the lead. But that’s all I got. And I didn’t want to spoil dinner for the Mrs. by checking updates constantly. That would just make me a full-blown bad guy. So I just continued on in the dark. Right after the cheese course came the dessert. We ordered the desserts and the Mrs. got up to use the bathroom. Now was my chance. I tapped out a quick tm to the big boy – “At dinner. Score?” No response. So I had to wait until I got home. I checked the gamecast and I looked at the details of what happened. Bases juiced? Down a run? Full count? The Ferocious Lion? That’s almost too much to take. Good thing I wasn’t watching that game. I would have ended up curled up in the fetal position somewhere on my balcony. But it wasn’t until the next day when I actually saw the replay. Wow. If Jerry Crawford was going to walk off the field whistling “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter, then Phil Cuzzi should have belted it out right there at home plate. Phil, Phil, Phil. I take solace in the fact that you are going to feel plenty silly in front of Mr. Questec and the league umpiring officials when everybody sees that replay.
When I flipped on the game on Saturday, the broadcast team of Michael Kay, Ken Singleton, and Jim Kaat immediately got into it. They showed the sequence of pitches, and all were in agreement that the pitch was way outside. Ken Singleton actually seemed a little offended that the call was made. The next thing they did was talk about the Ferocious Lion taking the pitch. Ken Singleton started to say that a lot of people in the media were questioning how he could take that pitch (most of the BPS comments seemed to be along those lines). Jim Kaat pounced on it. He made the point that a guy like the Ferocious Lion prides himself on not swinging at bad pitches. Michael Kay supported that point by recounting that the Lion, when asked why he didn’t swing at the pitch, said, “I didn’t think it was a strike.” It sounds like I may be in disagreement with most of you guys, but I have to come down squarely with Jim Kaat on this one. And I’ll go one step further. The Ferocious Lion did absolutely the right thing, and he should do the same thing every time he is in a position as unique as that one. The pitch was a ball. He wasn’t going to get good wood on it, so some would think the best approach is to “spoil it” and foul it off. Guys, that’s a lot easier said than done. It’s just as easy to miss or to tap it back to the pitcher by accident. “Spoiling” a pitch isn’t automatic. But that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that the pitch was a ball, and 90% of the time the umpire is going to get that call right. Even if he spoils it, the best case would be what? A meatball right down the middle of the plate on the next pitch? The Lion is hitting .277. So look at the simple probability of it, boys. A 90% chance of the ump getting the call right and walking in the tying run against a 28% chance of getting a base hit on the next pitch. You have to take that pitch every time. Now, the counterpoint is easy – they lost. Yes they did. Because you ran into that small percentage that Phil Cuzzi would suffer a brain cramp. It will happen sometimes. I’ll tell you what, though. Cuzzi learned a lesson. As the YES network was showing the replays the next day, they continually went to close-up shots of Cuzzi’s face and called him by name. The papers killed him. His scorecard for that game will be awful. At least he won’t be alone. The whole crew can point to four runs total (3 for Balt, minus-1 for the Yanks) that were created/eliminated because of incorrect calls. And Cuzzi knows everybody saw the replays of the call on the highlight shows, and he knows he directly impacted a game by blowing a call that wasn’t really close. That’s a big no-no for an ump. So he learned. The Lion did the right thing. He was right. It was a ball and it should have tied the game. Why bail Cuzzi out by trying to spoil a pitch? He has a job to do and he has to do it. He blew it and he got properly roasted for it. I bet you next time he’ll be more careful, particularly when a veteran like the Lion is at the plate. He needs to learn that certain players get respect for a reason. Guys like the Lion and Giambi know the strike zone and aren’t going to swing at bad pitches. That’s what makes them good hitters. A guy like Damon or Chuck Knoblauch will spoil pitches. That’s what they do. It’s not the Lion’s game. Next time Cuzzi will get it right.
So after taking the next two, what should be a four-game winning streak is simply three out of our last four. That works for me. Giambi is locked in. Those were some dangerous swings he was taking. Cano is crushing the ball. And in case anyone isn’t paying attention, six of the nine Yankee starters are hitting .297 or better. Streak time. You heard it here first.
Many comments. Nice. JD, I want to meet the mamaluke who thinks that David Ortiz isn’t on HGH because he’s “too fat.” Dude, Mike Sherry is absolutely right. Mike and I know many people who did plenty of juice and were still plenty fat. Not to mention, it seems people have a misconception about juice. Sprinters do juice. Pitchers do juice. Have you seen some of the guys that tested positive? Skinny dudes, fat dudes, Raffy Palmeiro…. How about your average juice-head power lifters and dead lifters? Dude, those guys are fat. It doesn’t make you ripped unless you train that way. Dude, David Ortiz never hit more than 20 bombs in six years in Minnesota (remember we’re talking about the homer dome!!) and averaged a .266 batting average, which was enough to get him cut. Yes, cut. What’s more the equipment manager was all over the papers last year saying his hat size has gone up two sizes since he was there. Which is comically evident when you look at his tremendous head trying to squeeze into a batting helmet. And best of all, here’s the best rule of thumb. Guys just don’t become automatic superstars seven years into their career in the major leagues. He went from a guy who was cut to a guy who was an all-world, automatic world-beater in one season. It doesn’t work like that, guys. That was an easy one. Scratch the surface on a drastic improvement like that and you will inevitably find the telltale signs – hat size, weight-gain, etc. Every time. JD, tell your boys they need to step into reality.
I had to make sure I left work on time today. Today was the annual trip to the New York Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center on the West Side. Big Joe (father-in-law) and Joe, Joey, and Frankie Puma were picking me up downtown at around 6:15. You’re talking about four Staten Island guys and me, so as you can imagine we spent a lot of time checking out the Caddies and Chrysler 300’s (aka the “Brooklyn Bentley”). Big Joe may be a buyer this year. Those guys were p*ssed that they didn’t have the good sausage heroes this year, and we got stuck going to the Hebrew National cart for some regular dogs. Me – I’m easy. I’m good with whatever. Good show this year.
When I got back I checked the BPS. Nine comments. I couldn’t believe it. Was BPS going to miss double-digit comments one day after Vino (and later Jason) saved the day? Then as I’m starting to knock this thing out, The Magic Man, El Majic, comes riding in on a white horse to post comment # 10. Nice, Magic.
Frankly, I was surprised more people didn’t jump on the juice topic. H8n, I genuinely hate to admit it myself, but there is little doubt in my mind. Happy Meds is right. I’m talking about HGH, known as “the fountain of youth” in weightlifting circles (or so I’m told; I’m not in weightlifting circles). I’m not sure if HGH is also known as “juice” on the street, or if that tag is specifically in reference to steroids. But in my world, “juice” is any and all performance-enhancing drugs. And El Majic is also right. I think Giambino genuinely tried to put them away when things got weird with Balco, and then freaked out when the Yanks wanted to send him down. So now he’s a monster again. And that’s the catch with HGH. Nobody gets busted for it because the only way to test for it is through the blood, and blood tests used to test for drugs are a violation of first amendment rights, according to the players union (and just about every other union), and therefore, not allowed in MLB. Besides, from what I understand everybody has some HGH in their system, so it wouldn’t be a definitive test anyway. And to be fair, I’ve also heard that David Ortiz is the nicest guy in the world, but it doesn’t change the hilarity of watching him squeeze his ever-enlarging head into a batting helmet. As Alice Kramden once said, it’s like trying to fit two pounds of bologna in a one-pound bag.
Different topic. Grossman and I were exchanging e-mails last week about one of his favorite topics, David Wright. The question, in a nutshell, was how big a star David Wright can be in New York. A few days after we kicked it around, John Kruk called him the next Jeter in NY. Can David Wright be as big as Jeter? Let’s examine. The knee-jerk reaction for any Yankee fan is to say no. But to say “never” is unfair to the world, so Grossman (who is so excited about the Mets that Corcoran has nicknamed him “Emotion Grossman”) and I examined it objectively. David Wright is going to turn 24 this year. The year Jeter turned 24 he won his second ring, having already won a rookie-of-the-year. But Jeter also didn’t put up numbers like Wright put up last year. The issue is this. Wright can never be Jeter as long as the Mets are the second story in this town. As long as the Yankees rule NY, the crown prince can never be a Met. But as I told Grossman, that doesn’t automatically rule him out. When I was growing up in the 80’s, the Mets were the big story in town. Hernandez, Strawberry, Gooden and co. occupied the back page every day. I know it seems hard to believe, but this was the Mets town for a while. Donnie Baseball, although a childhood hero of many Yankee fans of a certain age, didn’t get the ink those guys got in their heyday, even though he was voted by his peers as the best player in the game for three years in a row. Not the case today. The Mets enjoy no such status. So that’s the first thing Wright needs. Attention. The second thing is just as important. Rings. Without them he will never be as big as Jeter. He can put up all the numbers he wants. As a matter of fact, Jeter had detractors his first few years, just because his numbers didn’t compare to guys like Bonds, Griffey, A-Rod, etc. But after a while people listened to the insistence of baseball insiders, who had said all along that you can’t put a number on the things this guy does to help his team win. That’s why the folks in Beantown call him Captain Intangible. He’s the last guy you want to see up with the game on the line when you’re playing the Yankees. So that’s the trick. David Wright has got it all. He’s a likeable guy with a hustle to his game that’s easy to root for. But it’s not so simple to be the crown prince of New York. It’s not something you inherit. You have to earn it. And it won’t come easy.
As I’ve been writing this I have a storm of comments from you guys. So now I’m juiced (my clever pun very much intended). Vino, way to get in there for the second day in a row. Sean, that may have been one of the most well thought-out comments in the history of BPS, complete with quantitative data. J and JD (both fresh from bringing us back a win), keep it coming. I’m going to be in section 24 with the boys next Thursday night. Lt, look for us.
Welcome aboard to Someballyard (where’s your blog, dude? I was trying to find it on the “active roster" so I could throw a link to it), and of course, the Magic Man. Stop in any time, dude.
Anybody going tomorrow? If you are, bring us back a win.
Well, that could have been worse. Finishing up a tough stretch at 7-7. This was a watershed game, as we’ve all heard by now. The first win for the Yanks without putting up 9 runs. I knew today when I saw the Incredible Sal post his comment; it was time for the Moose. And the Moose crushed today. People forget that the Moose is the guy that set the tone for the end of the nightmare at the beginning of last season. Put his team on his back and carried them, just like he did today. As Sean often points out, Moose got the hose last year with run support, and he’s been force-fed some of the same medicine this year. But today, he made it count.
More big swings today from A-Rod and Giambino. Giambi is white-hot right about now. At this pace he would be on a crash course for MVP. That is if it weren’t for a certain Detroit Tiger that Mike Sherry called me about the other day named Chris Shelton. But Giambi’s numbers are cartoonishly good. Big difference from last year. So let’s get right to it. Do I think he’s back on the juice? Sure I do. Do I care? Yes I care, but it makes it more difficult to be righteous when I’m watching the city of Boston pretending their trophy didn’t come from the lab, loaded into a needle, and then straight up into David Ortiz’s butt cheeks. But I have to be fair to both sides. If I call it for one, I need to call it for both. And while we’re at it, we might as well call out Sheffield, too. You don’t have a swing that lightning-fast at his age. Sorry, Vino. I know he’s your boy. But it’s never far from my mind as I watch them play. And as much as people think Giambi is a punk for failing to fess up to what he did explicitly and in so many words, I think he’s the most honorable of the bunch. He could have done exactly what Bonds and Mcgwire did. Deny it to the point of pure ridiculousness, and then claim you did it but you didn’t know you did it. At least Giambi was honest when asked in a court of law, after swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc. Then he apologized to everybody. You want to get on him for not apologizing for specifically what he did? Fine. But at least he called the press conference and put it out there. There wasn’t one person in that room or the greater baseball community who didn’t know exactly what it was he was apologizing for. Bonds is still lying through his teeth. And Mcgwire and Sosa haven’t exactly offered to pay for the asterisks to be printed next to their names in the record books either. But I’ll close that thought with this about Giambi…. I genuinely like the guy. He’s pleasant as all get-out, and my opinion is that he’s the most stand-up of all the dirty rotten scoundrels in the game. And I root for him like crazy every single day.
Speaking of Vino, you guys don’t know how lucky you are. If Vino didn’t step in at the 11th hour with his comment, BPS would only have had nine comments for the day. Any day with less than double-digit comments necessitates me calling everybody out. So everybody got a reprieve.
I love it when the Yanks go on the road and the BPS shows up. Two games in Toronto, two games attended by members of the BPS community – Umair and JD. JD, I asked you to come back with a win and you did. Point for you. Happy Meds Geoff – Kwame “the boy genius”…spectacular, dude. Spectacular. Lt., you’re right. Sometimes it’s just not your night. Leftie et al, I missed all the fireworks by Damon in CF…but I’ve heard good things.
Grossman, look on the bright side. Now that everybody has leaped off the Mets bandwagon the way Vito Spatafore leaped off his diet when Sal from Yonkers busted him in the leather chaps, maybe the spotlight will get a little bit less bright and they can just play. The national sports media has shifted right into “The demise of the Braves has been greatly exaggerated” mode. Seriously, if Winston Churchill knew that his quote was going to lead Sportscenter at least twenty times a year, do you think he may have gone with something a little less clever? Although the Braves did sound awfully cocky walking out of Shea with the series win. "After the first game, listening to the commentators, you would have thought we might as well pack things up and head back to Atlanta," Hudson said. "But I think we showed we’re not too bad either." Huddie taking a minor shot at everybody counting the Braves out after the first game. Not too inflammatory, though. I agree with him, actually.
Tomorrow is a little easier for me & the Boys because of today. A day to sit and stew in a sub-.500 record bites. And then home again, home again jiggety jig. I hope the stadium is crawling with BPS all weekend. Vino, the Lt., the Big Boy. Go get ‘em.
But the big story today was Mussina. People are going to say a lot of things about Mike Mussina when he’s gone, both good and not so good. He’s got his detractors. But remember games like today. Today, even if just for today, he was our ace.
I was three ribs deep into a full rack of babybacks at a barbeque joint (should be noted that I’m in Dallas on an overnighter). My cell phone rings. Acc. Strange. The Big Boy usually starts with a few tm’s. Something weird must have gone down. I wasn’t going to speculate; it could have been anything. And my fingers were in no condition to answer the phone.
Well, at least I didn’t suffer the roller coaster of thinking this thing was in the bag early, only to grumble my way through the rest of the game. So we lose again. What else can I say? Another offensive onslaught took us down. Ten runs in our face. We’ve been through all of the reasons why you can’t panic just yet, but I’ll throw out a few things to think about. We’ve talked about the fact that we went through this same thing last year, only to blast our way out of it with a ten game win-streak when things looked their bleakest (11-19). Two major differences from last year’s debacle. The first is bad news. At the nadir last year we had five guys in the lineup hitting at least 55 points below their career averages, and every single one of the starting staff except one was a full half-run above their career ERA. Three were a full run or more over. This year everybody is pretty much right where they should be. The second reason is better news, and it’s nothing we haven’t gone over. There are stretches in every season that you can circle when the schedule comes out, because you know they’ll be tough. Eleven of fourteen on the road, with a west coast swing, against mostly contenders. If you come out of that at 7-7, you won’t feel too bad about yourself. You won’t be psyched, but you can deal. Although when you take out that three-day homer against the Royales with Cheese, you step down to 3-7 with one to play. Not preferred, but you go through stretches like that.
The devil is in not knowing. All signs point to the Yanks coming charging back on the strength of a few monster stretches. Their numbers are elite. But you don’t know. They have not been great at winning so far. They’ve been pretty good at bashing brains in, but winning has been so-so. You can clearly see that mental mistakes and questionable defense is costing them runs. You have to hope that stuff ends. All that said – I’m saying they’re going on a killer run when they get back to the Stadium.
Geoff (Happy Mediums) – nice work on the link to the new Met song. Good gracious. Grossman? Any comments on that? Who is that? 2 LiveCrew? How awful is that song? Dude, just when the Mets look like they’re trying to turn their ship around, they go and pay money for something ridiculous like that. Seriously, dude. It sounded so 80’s that at first I thought it was Doug E. Fresh with a back beat laid down by Grandmaster Flash.
Speaking of the Mets, Mad Dog Dave and I are on the same page. They’re good. But I’ll tell you what. They’ve got one of those “it’s-way-too-early-for-a-must-win-but-it-would-be-a-very-good-idea-to-win” games tomorrow. This is pretty clear. This is the “new Mets.” The “we-have-a-short-memory Mets.” They fancy themselves a superior team to the Braves, and they feel that this is the year they deserve to get it done. Well, you need to take two of three right here. Not because this is going to make a huge difference in the standings, but because of circumstances. The Braves have been grinding against good competition on the road, and the Mets have been fattening up at home on a lot of teams that have been playing the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters. If they can’t win this series, then everybody that was cautiously toeing the line, ready to believe, is going to fall right back into same-old, same-old mode. And that’s fine. As long as “everybody” doesn’t include the Mets.
H8n, I’m with you and Geoff. Keep Chacon; leave a saucer of milk out for Jaret Wright. Just know that he’s going to end up in Baltimore with Leo Mazzone winning 15 games.
Woy, Sorry you couldn’t watch tonight. If it makes you feel better, I was listening to the game on MLB radio in Dallas (where it’s 101 degrees) while talking to Acc, who was about four full minutes ahead of me, telling me what was about to happen. I felt like he was on the penne a la vodka and I was still sampling the olives and hard cheeses. And none of it was good news.
Reid, how did you watch that disaster Twins game and game 7, 2001on the same night? Dude, I would rather pull out my toenails with a crane than watch that game again.
JD, bring us back a win tomorrow, bro.
Happy birthday to mlblogs. It was a good, well executed idea. Congrats to you, Mark. I like to think that BPS, on its way to winning the “Best Community” award last year, provided mlblogs with a steady, heavily-commented chronicle of the most popular team in the game last year. We were featured on the mlbogs home page and even the mlb home page more than a few times as the pennant race heated up. So I like to think we were a contributor to the success of the idea. And while we’re at it, BPS’s birthday is May 2. What will we do to celebrate?
Two words. Winning streak……..
Well isn’t this fun. The Yankees are still hovering at 6-6, while the two best records in the baseball belong to the Mets and the Red Sox. The Sox pulled off yet another miracle today at Fenway. Two, actually. A miracle that Loretta hit a walk-off job, and of course the standing miracle of science injected into Mr. Ortiz that has allowed his home run totals to grow in unison with his hat size. And win they did, extending their lead over the Yanks in this ludicrously young season. But in the stat book it doesn’t make any sense. The Yanks are averaging more runs per game than any other team in the league. By far. So what is it? Pitching? Defense? Let’s examine it.
Let’s start with the Red Sox, since they’re the ones that matter for now. The Yankees are averaging more than two full two runs per game better than the Red Sox, 6.67 to 4.62. So it must be the pitching. Oops. The Yankees team ERA is lower than the Red Sox team ERA. The Yanks have given up fewer runs, fewer bombs, fewer hits, and have more strikeouts. So what gives? The Red Sox are 9-4, 2 ½ games in front. Well, let’s start with the simple reason. The Red Sox play 10 of their first 16 games at home. Let’s go to the next simple reason. They’ve played Texas, Baltimore, Toronto, and Seattle. And Tampa Bay is up next. Let’s play “name the contender” in that group. I know. That’s a hard game.
And the Amazing Mets. As I’ve said it over the last few weeks, I think they’re legit. I thought they were legit last year, too, but the injuries got them. And this year how the bandwagon has overflowed. The Baseball Tonight guys have already anointed them the NL East winners. Premature? Perhaps, but I don’t necessarily disagree. It looks to me like they’re going to run away with it. But I just don’t think that tells you how good they are. Or aren’t. Now, you can start with the same argument we made about the Red Sox. They’re starting with 12 of their first 15 games at home. The Mets home record was phenomenal last year. And let’s play “name the contender” again. Washington, Florida, and Milwaukee. Of course, they beat the Braves tonight. Pedro vs. Jorge Sosa. At Shea. By one run. Not exactly domination. It’s nice, I guess. The Braves are a perennial contender. But you know what? They su*k too. Here’s the real story. The National League is awful and getting worse. I know National League fans might not love that statement, but the truth is the truth. It’s a cyclical thing. Fifteen years ago you could have argued that the AL was a joke. Check the All-Star games and World Series over the last two years. The NL is 0-10. And that’s when the all-star games counted…. The putrid Padres made the playoffs last year, lucky to have a late surge to get them over .500. The Cardinals and Astros never even gave you the impression they were going to win a game in the last two World Series. The NL East was lauded for its parity last year. At various points late in the season, all five teams were within a game and a-half of each other. Here’s what you didn’t hear too often. They were all equally terrible.
So the Mets and Red Sox have played to favorable schedules thus far. What about the Yanks? Well, they play 11 of their first 14 on the road, including a west coast trip and nine of their first 12 against teams that have been to the playoffs in the last two years, all of whom had winning records last year. Oh, and one three-game vacation against the Royals tucked in the middle. Funny how that works out isn’t it? Does MLB do that on purpose? I have no idea. You always hear that they start on the West Coast because the weather’s better. Okay. Meanwhile, the Mets and Red Sox are loaded with home games in the first two weeks. So why would MLB care? I’ll tell you what – I would care if I was making the schedule. Think about it. Major League Baseball needs the Yankees to be strong. But they don’t really have to worry about that. The Yankees have too much talent not to be right in the middle of it. But if the Yankees shoot right out of the box and go wire to wire…..bor-ing. If MLB can get the Red Sox started off with a bang, they can prolong the race and keep things interesting longer. Go check how many times in the last ten years the Yankees have been ahead of the Red Sox in the standings at the end of April (I’m guessing two). Now go look how many times the Red Sox have finished ahead of the Yanks in the AL East over the last ten years. Zero. Last year they started against the Red Sox at the Stadium, but that was for the sake of ESPN’s opening Sunday Night game. And then they bolted right out on the road, including a trip to Fenway. This happens every single year. I don’t know; maybe it’s the biggest coincidence ever. So let’s look at the NL East. An NL East race would be huge for MLB, particularly if it included the big-market Mets. We know the Mets start with 12 of 15 at home. Against my cousin Finola’s pee-wee soccer team. So if this crazy conspiracy theory were to hold, one would think that the Braves would have a tougher, road-heavy schedule to start out. How about 16 of their first 22 on the road, including a west coast trip against just about every contender they could scrape together outside of St. Louis. The Giants, Dodgers, and Padres (yes, as embarrassing as it was, they did win the NL West last year). And their first matchup with the Mets is, of course, on the road.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s the Mets or the Red Sox’ fault. They’re beating the teams they should be beating. My point is that we need to wait and see how good any of these teams are. Very rarely do you get statistical anomalies in which teams that lead the league in certain categories don’t make the playoffs. The top two run producing teams in baseball over the last three years were Yankees/Red Sox, Angels/Red Sox, and Red Sox/Braves. Anyone want to guess what all of those teams had in common? The 2006 Red Sox are not scoring enough runs. That will hurt them. The Mets have an excellent offense, but their pitching staff is very thin. And it is dependent on Pedro, who hasn’t been worth anything after August 1st for the last five years, and Glavine, who has been up and down (mostly down) since he came to New York.
Either way, MLB got what it wanted. Hype.