Acc sent me a text message with tonight’s headline. Actually Mrs. Acc sent me the text message. Apparently the big boy’s cell phone died. I was asking myself the same question all night. I don’t know how psyched I’m supposed to get that we’re winning these games. Most of these guys look about as familiar to me as a WNBA team. We need to start getting healthy. But I’ll take the wins, I’ll tell you that. Giambi and A-Rod have done a nice job of carrying this team, both going 3 for 4 tonight. And Miguel Cairo might quietly have been the best pickup the Yanks made all winter. He’s as solid a veteran backup as they come. You’ve got to love that he puts the bat on the ball and is a tough strike-out.
Amazing that injuries could come in and decimate this team, and yet they have been saved by the farmhands. Melky, Cano, and Phillips have really had a trial by fire. That play Phillips made on the bunt in the 6th was a cool-headed veteran play. No telling what could have happened if the sac was successful. No better way to learn how to play in big games than getting thrown into the AL East race and into the middle of a furious Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. Also makes you laugh that the Yankee-haters have tried the last few years to paint the Yankees as a team that has mortgaged any semblance of a future to horde high-priced veterans. The best example cited was the Diamondbacks refusal to part with Randy Johnson midway through the ’04 season because the Yankees “didn’t have any worthwhile talent” in their minor league system. That’s it, they said. The tank was finally dry. That’s beautiful. In hindsight it’s clear that this was Yankee-hating wishful thinking so aggressive you would think that it could only have come from the keystrokes of the bitter and tired Mike Lupica. We know now that it was really just Jerry Colangelo being a d*uchebag. How happy is he with Casey Fossum and Brandon Lyon for Schilling? Still reaping the rewards of that one, Jerry? He could have easily had Cano, Melky, and Wang for The Unit. Anyone think that he (or anyone) still thinks the Yankees have nothing in the tank down on the farm? Serendipity.
I still like the veteran presence that Terrence Long gives this team (the abbreviated version), but it was clear tonight that this guy should not be in the lineup against lefties.
But let’s get to the real story. The Moose is on a mission. I’m not sure what it is about him this year. Maybe he just recognizes that the team needs to pitch the lights out right now. Maybe that change-up that he came up with this year is the last piece of the puzzle he needed. Whatever it is, the guy has been money. And just when we need it. After the bullpen was stretched to the limit for about a week straight, he took matters into his own hands. He’s got all-star written all over him. Sean, I hope your boy Ryan enjoyed his first Moose win.
I kept hoping as I was typing that the 10th comment would be posted and we would reach double digits for yesterday. I can’t complain, though. The comments have been phenomenal. Mollie, I clicked on your link, but I didn’t see anything about steroids or Bonds. Might be me. I’m a technical idiot. And do you know what? The Red Sox Chick and I are in total agreement on the subject. Excellent link to the documents that show that MLB did indeed outlaw steroids back in 1991. It’s a common but curious misconception that steroids weren’t against MLB rules. Grossman has been anxiously following the Milledge developments, even as he still stings from the Kazmir debacle. The kid made a nice chuck tonight. JD and Reid brought us back wins this series. Nicely done, boys. Looks like Acc started a little dialogue on Pujols. GJP & Lucky, if you’re going to put an asterisk on a record for the juice, you probably should also put one on there if it’s done in the abominable National League. Good post, guavapaste. I know plenty of guys who did juice. And none of them think they weren’t breaking any rules. Rocco, thanks for the correction. I’d use the excuse that it was late, but since you watch these games at 4am, I’ll shut my mouth. And I envy guys like you and Gabe who can create art using the pc. Good stuff, dude. Ras, no word yet on any help that might be on the way. Unless JD’s tip is on point and we’re getting Pat the Bat. Doesn’t that guy hit like .230 though? I’m with Happy meds. I’d love to see Dotel come back and have an impact. Try and imagine what this team could look like in August if everyone gets healthy. Vino, nice work, dude. Glad to see your comment lasted more than one word this time.
Playing with house money tomorrow, boys. Sweeps are great, but winning 3 out of 4 is the mission. Let’s see if Wang can continue the dominating starts we’ve been getting. I’m in Tampa tomorrow night, so if I don’t have a connection, that’s one I owe you. Until then, as Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend once declared, the kids are alright.
I couldn’t believe it. A text message from Acc after 10 o’clock. Lately he’s been an automatic no-answer after about 9:30 or so. But there it was. “I’m not happy.” Why would he be? Farnsworth was giving the Tigers a walking tour of the bases with no outs and a one-run lead. This was an adventure we didn’t need. I was dying. First because I didn’t adequately set up the fans in the loft (it’s getting hot early in NYC), and second because the Tigers were sitting pretty with the bases juiced and nobody out. The only thing I was hanging my lucky hat on was the fact that Farnsworth isn’t exactly a fly-ball pitcher. He can strike a gentleman out, on occasion. The groundball near-miss double-play that followed was a palatable start. Awful job by the YES network; failing to show a conclusive replay of whether or not the call at first was correct. They were so busy showing five angles of the take-out slide by Marcus Thames that they only showed one replay of the call at first, which was wildly inconclusive. It turned out to be moot in the end, because Farnsworth pulled out two k’s to close the inning, but it could very well have been the decisive play of the game. So do you love Farnsworth or hate him? I really don’t know. Met fans know what we’re going through. I’ve said this before and I stand by it. He and Billy Wagner are the same guy. They can look absolutely unhittable, and they can make you want to strangle yourself. But most importantly, neither can be counted on to throw strikes when the game is on the line. So he blew it to give up the lead, and then pulled it back from the dead.
I was trying to decide if you can be mad about losing when Pudge Rodriguez makes a play like the one he made to save the game in the 10th inning. Wow. And Rodney, the pitcher, made a killer play too. And Cano came in with a terrible slide. Ugly. Good call by home plate ump Tim Tschida.
I called Tony Sherry at the end of the 10th. “Are you watching this?” “Am I watching the devastation or the destruction of life?” he said casually, clearly flipping around the channels as he was talking to me. But he got more focused as he continued. “How are we going to score with Phillips and Terrence Long? Who the h*ll is Phillips?” I didn’t want to break his rhythm, but I interjected. “Actually those guys are hitting tonight, dude.” He was indignant. “They couldn’t hit their way out of a lifeboat!” he roared. I was laughing too hard to continue. Plus, I knew that the game was about to come back on, and he was bound to be a few seconds ahead of me, which was torture. Just then the Big Boy fires over a TM, a classic quote from a great old American who’s been gone a long time. “Let’s go out there and kill ‘em.” Right there I knew we had a shot.
As I will sometimes do, I made an adjustment on the fly tonight. With the Yanks about to hit in the 11th, the Mrs. strolled up into the loft. She was going to bed, and she asked why I didn’t come watch the game downstairs, where the AC was holding court. I quickly took stock. It was a good question. I was only able to flip the game on in the 4th. The Mrs. had the capellini arrabiata was on the table when I walked in. We used to get it at a place on Steinway Street called Pasta Fina when I lived in Astoria. It was delicious then, and it was delicious when the Mrs. did it herself. So by the time I got up into the loft to check the score, it was 5-1 Yanks. But the game I watched, from the fourth inning on, was 5-1 Tigers. Hence the 6-6 tie. So I wasn’t against the idea of switching things up. I went downstairs for the 11th, and watched as things unfolded. And when the Giambino & co. smoke cleared, I called Tony Sherry. “Dude, did you see your boy Andy Phillips?” “Dude, check out MTV right now. This new Jamie Kennedy might be the funniest show ever made…..”
Here are a couple of tidbits for Jim Leyland to think about. First, I was wondering whether or not it was such a good idea to let every single Yankee batter see Joel Zumaya. The kid has a lot of talent; gas and a nasty bender. And Leyland was trying to win the game, so I guess it was the right move, but now everybody’s seen him to the tune of 34 pitches. And they’ve seen plenty of Fernando Rodney, who I wasn’t as impressed with, although he looks like he can throw. Tonight he threw 24 pitches. An important question to ask is this – how many unhittable pitchers are there in baseball? Answer – zero. You see them enough; you’ll find a way to hit them. By the end of Zumaya’s outing, it was obvious that he likes to get ahead with the heater and is absolutely stubborn about trying to put you away with the bender. It worked a lot, but eventually Melky was sitting on it and he got himself a base hit. Then Jeter had about an eight-pitch at-bat. Like I said, it was an awful big gamble emptying the tank with those two guys, but I guess you do what you can do when you smell a win. But the short-term question is whether or not either of those guys be available tomorrow…
Another thing is clear to me. Todd Jones is not the closer on this team. Zumaya or Rodney. Pick one. Why does it make sense that Todd Jones, who has been a mediocre has-been for years, is the closer? I don’t get it. There are better options. It’s like last year when the Mets just decided that Braden Looper was a closer, just because they said he was. He had never given anyone any indication that he had that kind of stuff, but they figured because they called him the closer, that’s what he was. Leyland should think about it. Either way, he’s got some nice arms out there.
So Sheffield re-injured the wrist. And Jeter looked miserable tonight with his own wrist problem, booting a sure double-play and taking an 0-5 collar with 3 k’s. Look for him to sit tomorrow. And Johnny Damon’s foot was too sore to play. At one point I’m looking at the Yankee outfield with Bernie, Melky and Terrence Long, and I’m thinking the jeopardy answer would be; “Who are three people that weren’t supposed to be playing the outfield for the New York Yankees this year.” It’s a good thing we have some depth. And I definitely don’t hate having Terrence Long on this team. And he’ll probably stick around for a while when Sheffield takes another month off before he gets another cortisone shot.
Last thing. As JD pointed out – we’re back in first. Where we belong. Seanny! Your boy’s up! Who am I kidding… Sean’s up to his knee caps in diapers and formula……
Let’s talk about what nobody wants to talk about. There are lots of things in baseball, in sports, that are glossed over because they ruin the competitive athletic ideal. Or a good story, in some cases. Barry Bonds is an extreme example of this. Barry Bonds cheated, and it made him a better player. It gave him the ability to reach heights he otherwise wouldn’t have reached. Is there proof? Sure there is. Reams of it. But, alas, at the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, it all comes down to what your definition of “proof” is. Was somebody standing there when he injected himself? In many cases I’m sure there was. In many cases there wasn’t. And even if one of those people were to come forward, one could choose to believe they were lying. The fact is, if anybody wanted to, they could say that they believe Barry Bonds didn’t do steroids because there was no “proof” that he did it, and in their mind the only proof that would satisfy them would be if they themselves saw Barry do it. Most people are not that obtuse. In most cases, including a court of law, you try and put together a case for what points to a logical conclusion. The more informed you are about the subject matter, the better you will be able to come to that conclusion. In the case of Barry Bonds, one could choose to ask very broad philosophical questions while hiding behind their definition of the word “proof.” For example, one could say that there is no “proof” that Barry Bonds couldn’t have hit 73 home runs without chemical assistance at the age of 38 when he had never come close to that number in his prime. There is no “proof” that Barry Bonds couldn’t hit 209 home runs in the four years between the age of 37 and 40, after never having hit in a single season as many HRs as he did in every single season those four years. There is no “proof” that Barry Bonds couldn’t put on 40 pounds of pure muscle after the age of 37 without the use of a controlled substance. There is no proof of any of that. Except that there is. For all of the reasons we’ve mentioned and the mountain of evidence in the form of court transcripts, affidavits, sworn testimony. And one more thing. Common sense. But there will be those who choose not to believe. And in many cases it’s not because they lack the intelligence to make an informed decision. They are choosing not to believe because of exactly that. They have chosen not to believe.
Why? A number of reasons. It could be that Barry represents something else to them. In some cases the public trial of Barry represents persecution, and they feel that they themselves can relate to feeling persecuted. In some cases Barry appeals to people’s “Huck Finn,” or catch-me-if-you-can, sensibility. Some see Barry’s plight along purely racial lines. Some people are just simply uninformed as to what steroids are and what they do to the human body. Some people are just ill-informed about the whole case. Some may just find it exciting that a record is being broken, so they turn a blind eye to how it got that way. Some people are just continuing to subscribe to the ancient religion that is the athletic ideal. You don’t cheat, and to accuse someone of cheating without irrefutable evidence is an offense almost as egregious as the allegation itself. And for this reason, they are afraid to take a stance. All of these positions have one thing in common. They necessitate not delving too deep into the case. Of all of Barry’s defenders, no one wants to be the guy to argue that Barry didn’t do steroids. The overwhelming majority of those defenders who have any familiarity with the case probably know in their hearts that he did. But that’s not their point. They are arguing against persecution, against one man being placed under so much scrutiny, against “the man.” Barry, for his part, discourages none of this. He apologizes for nothing, and has invoked everything in the world he could think of to cloud the true issue. Anything to squirm off the hook. And there will always be people with an axe to grind, people who choose to believe the ridiculous because of reasons special to them. But it would be nice if those people keep their personal issues away from the game of baseball. Because the buffoonish Barry Bonds, in his current iteration, has very little to do with this great game.
Barry is the extreme example. I’ll give you a more everyday example of the athletic ideal clouding salient commentary. Big Joe (father-in-law) and I were flipping back and forth from watching the A’s/Rangers game on Sunday night baseball with the Phoenix/Dallas NBA game. Both games featured a prominent blown call by an official right in the middle of a game. In the NBA game, Phoenix was furiously trying to erase a four-point Dallas lead when the 24-second clock expired for Dallas as Nowitzki heaved up a prayer, just to try and get it off. The ball missed the rim, but the officials let play continue. Dallas retrieved the rebound and scored. Doug Collins (I think it was Doug Collins) took the cowardly route, the one where he makes an initial judgment and then refuses to back off it just because it was his initial judgment, no matter how matter replays are shown that prove him wrong. Marv Albert took the righteous route, declaring, “Dallas got a break. That ball didn’t look like it hit the rim.” I appreciate what Albert did for two reasons. First, he disagreed with the official. Broadcasters are loath to do that, most likely for fear of repercussions from the “hand that feeds them.” Second, he disagreed with his partner. Too often these days’ broadcasters are too timid to do that. I guess they figure they don’t want to offend a guy they have to work with. But the interesting part is what happened next. Both guys tripped over themselves downplaying the magnitude of the call, declaring over and over that “if the Suns lose, it’s not because of that call.” Over on the Texas/A’s game, Frank Thomas was up with two on, two out, and a 1-1 count in the eighth. The A’s were down a run. The pitch came in from Vincente Padilla, and Thomas took it. Strike. The k-zone showed it was a foot outside. Any major leaguer, pitcher or hitter, will tell you that this was a monumental call in this game. A 2-1 count and a 1-2 count may as well be filet mignon and Cap’n Crunch. And Joe Morgan and Jon Miller went one step further than the Albert and Collins “downplay” route. They didn’t even mention the blown call. They blabbed on about whatever it was they were talking about, and then commented on the at-bat, the inning, the game, etc., without ever mentioning that call. The lesson is this. We are all trained to bend over backward to follow the athletic ideal. We want to believe, at all costs, that games are won and lost on the field, by the players and coaches. Always. Most people will go way out on a limb to go on record to that effect whenever the opportunity arises. That’s fine if you’re a player or coach and you want to take the high road. Not fine if you want to do an analysis of what happened and why. You need to look for the truth, wherever it might be. How do Morgan and Miller or Albert and Collins know that those calls wouldn’t have affected the outcome? Those were huge calls. They very well may have. They may not have. That’s a part of sports. To gloss them over and dismiss them because you want to protect the athletic ideal is bad journalism and insufficient analysis.
Which brings me to my last example from the file of “the elephant in the room.” The Detroit Tigers. Randy Johnson dispatched them handily today, to an exuberant exhale from Gator and Joe Torre. I don’t mean to say that the Tigers are a big joke, or even that the Yankees will even win this series. I mean to say that there has been so much spoken and written about why the Tigers are so good this year, boasting the best record in all of baseball. I know the starting pitching has been good. Bonderman has been better, Maroth has been better, Nate Robertson has been better. Verlander looks good. You don’t need to tell me about Kenny Rogers. That’s great guys. But the best reason is the one spoken only in whispers, with few if any willing going on record with it. That is the fact that they have played a schedule that resembles my mom’s Wednesday night bridge club. You want a reason their record is so good? Sorry guys, look no further than that. It’s not to say that they’re not good, it’s just to say that they’re not that good. And they only look this good because their schedule is something organized by romper room. Everybody is going to look good when you play the dregs. Come on guys. Besides a 3-game series with the White Sox in which they got swept, the only two teams they have played with winning records have been the Rangers and Reds. And both of them are barely floating above .500. That’s the real reason the Tigers have the best record in baseball. Hey, it’s not their fault. They’re doing what they should be doing. Winning the games. But if you want analysis on why they have the best record in baseball, that’s why. Anyone want to bet me they don’t end up with the best record in the major leagues?
So that brings us to tomorrow (tonight), with the struggling Aaron Small, whose pumpkin pulls up to the mound at 7:05 Eastern Daylight Time. Just when Jorge comes back, Jeter’s wrist is barking. Giambi needs to get back on track. A-Rod needs to keep the bombs coming. I don’t hate Terrence Long out there. I might hate calling him T-Long, though. I’m still undecided on that. Tonight will be a tough game to win. The Tigers will be desperate to prove themselves tonight. But regardless of how this series goes, you can mark this one down. The Yankees are a better team than the Detroit Tigers.
I looked out the window right after I woke up and wiped the drool off my face. It looked like we might be over one of the Great Lakes. Not much further to Chicago. So I pulled out the paper and flipped to the sports, curious to see what the Times had to say about the game last night. There was one thing that struck me as interesting. Apparently there was some chatter out of Boston that they were trying to compare Manny’s posing with A-Rod’s losing the ball in the lights. I really didn’t know whether to laugh or be confused. Mirabelli had some words about it, as did Francona. How odd. Not that we need to rehash Manny’s posing incident, but I just want to make sure I get this straight. Manny hits a bomb and pulls out something similar to what Tony Monero and his partner pulled out on the dance floor to beat the Puerto Rican couple in Saturday Night Fever. A-Rod hits a bomb, looks around confused and unsure, and then seems to gather himself and start rounding the bases. And those two things are related. Got it. First of all, when is it insulting to somebody when you look around confused and bewildered? When is that even cool? A-Rod looked like a total spaz. I get that Red Sox fans were going to be a little defensive about Manny, but I didn’t expect them to act weirder about it than Manny himself. And that’s the funny part. Manny seems to have gotten the message. He demonstrably put his head down and ran the bases this time, with what might even be called class. I don’t know if it had anything to do with A-Rod talking to him in the batting cage before the game, as Ras said, or if somebody else said something to him. Or maybe he figured it out for himself. But in any case, Manny corrected it and moved on. The other Red Sox chuckleheads were trying to lump A-Rod’s confusion in with hot dogging. Wow. No need to be so defensive as to stop making sense, guys. Why don’t you just leave it at “Manny being Manny” like you usually do?
Just came across that Jorge has a torn tendon in his knee/hammy. Youch. It doesn’t stop. They say he’s going to be out “for a few days,” but I’m having a little bit of trouble with that. How are you not going to DL a guy with a torn tendon? I know there are different injuries with a different level of severity, but I can’t help but feel like this is optimistic. Not sure how to feel about Kelly Stinnett. He’s kind of killing me at the plate. Too many k’s, as the BPS readers have pointed out. I just don’t like having an automatic out in the lineup. It gives the pitcher hope as he struggles with the middle of the order that if he can just get through a few guys, he can get to guys like Stinnett. Then again, maybe Kelly will get more comfortable with more Abs. He has drawn a few big walks for us of late. Let’s hope this works out for Jorge. Reid, if you want to weigh in as the closest thing we have (that I know of) to a member of the medical profession here at the BPS, feel free.
Umair/Jason, there were lots of people scoffing about the value of coming inside to these guys. Tough to argue with results, no? Rocco, I noticed there were no bombs. Lot of that going around. And there will be more with Jorge out. Tougher because he was swinging such a hot bat. Happymeds, good stuff. Any time you can work the San Diego chicken into a comment, I’m on board. And I agree with you and guavapaste. BPS has touched on it on occasion. It’s convenient for the Red Sox to pick up the mantle as the underdog, when the truth is that there have been moments over the last five years when their payroll was actually higher than the Yanks. And the Yanks have always had their core of home-grown stars. The Red Sox have had none for the last five years. Maybe Trot Nixon. But everybody else has been bought and paid for. Scharbonneau, I couldn’t have said it any better than Nick and Lucky. Melky showed up in a big game. Melky has shown a very keen ability to handle the bat. He is hitting .325, but he hasn’t shown any power, which may cost him in terms of long-term plans. Especially since he’s not really a speed guy. He has 13 hits; 12 singles and one double. But it’s something they should think long and hard about, because these aren’t pushover teams he’s hitting against right now.
I couldn’t have been more bummed that the Royals couldn’t pull one out today. They are so due it’s pathetic. The Yanks are facing a monumental law of averages hurdle here. Interesting, though, that the Yanks will play more games this weekend against sub-.500 opponents than they have in the last month.
Saw the clips of Nats manager Frank Robinson teary-eyed at the post-game press conference because he had to yank Matt Lecroy, the third string catcher, in the middle of an inning because runners were stealing bases one after another. Lecroy was asked to fill in as the emergency catcher because there were injury problems (I wonder what that’s like) and was he throwing balls all over the park. Robinson felt that in order to save the game he had to deliver the ultimate humiliation for a position layer, to pull him out in the middle of an inning because of poor performance. After the game, Robinson broke down as he praised Lecroy for doing his best in a position that isn’t natural for him, and apologized to have to put him through that kind of embarrassment. I imagine the Nats probably feel good about playing for a guy like that. Crying in baseball? Yeah, sometimes, boys, sometimes……
“Do you understand that that’s all they were talking about on the radio today? It’s unbelievable. Why don’t they do something?” Tony Sherry had reached his breaking point. It was getting really perplexing, I’ll certainly admit. I think everyone associated with the BPS thought so. Except for maybe Raoul. A guy comes up and hits a moon shot against you, when his team is losing 7-1 mind you, and poses like he just won the world’s biggest p*nis contest. So everybody waits for the next night when one of the scariest pitchers in the game (remember the John Kruk incident at the all-star game a few years ago?) is going to be throwing gaslights at the whole team. So what kind of a welcome does the posing jack*ss get? The kind that sails out of the park and into New Hampshire. Okay. So then the guy comes up later in the game, and your manager brings in the same guy that got shown up the night before. Okay, that guy throws 95 cheese, he’ll take care of business. And that’s just what he did. If “taking care of business” means throwing a meatball that traveled about 110 mph. On the way out of the park, that is. So Tony Sherry had time for one closing thought before the bottom of the 9th, because I needed to prepare to “assume the position” with the NY Yankees street sign. “Do you think Mariano is going to staple the first pitch to Manny’s gums?” “No, dude. Mo’s all about the win. Get the win. He’s not going to plunk Manny and bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. And that’s the right move. He should let the other guys take care of that stuff, because they’re the ones that are going to have to face him all day and all series.” Enter Mo.
I guess no one will really know whether or not Mo was trying to come up and in to Manny. He was clearly coming inside, though. Twice. Good for him. Look at the result. Great comment by Michael Kay when he remarked that “this is the most uncomfortable Manny’s been at the plate all series.” Every Yankee fan remembers when Manny completely freaked out when the Rocket threw a pitch slightly off the inside of the plate in ‘03. He fanned on the next pitch reaching for one. Well Mo played him alike a fiddle tonight. Got him reaching to hit a harmless fly ball to center. Of course, he has just been so white-hot over the past few games that he was bound to make an out sometime. Good time for it. Tony called me back after the game. “Do you understand that Mariano just wrote a blueprint for the entire league on how to get Manny out?” I was more in the moment. “Dude, I’m not concerned with the rest of the league. I hope the rest of the team, including Joe Torre, saw what happened.” And I’ll add that I hope they learn their lesson for next time. I just don’t understand it. I hope they’re all looking at the highlights and saying, “Yeah, I wonder what took us so long…”
I almost blew it again tonight. I don’t know what my problem is. I was able to get home a little early tonight, so the Mrs. was putting dinner on the table right when I walked in around 7 or so. Some sort of teriyaki chicken with rice with toasted sesame seeds. I think it was a Rachael Ray concoction. I thought it was legit, but the Mrs. wasn’t happy with it, for some reason. But she was glad to get the proceedings going early, because she was all juiced up for the American Idol finale. She was rooting for the Silver Fox, so she was psyched when he pulled it out. Me, I was able to watch most of the game up in the loft. I flipped it on just before Jeter made it 4-2 with a cannonball off the monster. But there I found myself in the eighth, with bases loaded and Big HGH about to stride up to the plate. And I’m not wearing my lucky hat. I raced down the stairs and into the “blue room,” grabbed the hat and ran back up the stairs. Just in the nick of time. I couldn’t believe Joe didn’t relieve Farnsworth. I truly could not believe it. If a guy throws a 3-2 pitch to the backstop to walk the bases loaded with Big HGH coming up, I would say he’s not fit to continue. Because that’s about the best test of “Can you throw a strike or can’t you” that you’re going to see. So I was pretty mystified when I got to the top of the stairs and saw Farnsworth on the mound. I had a very uneasy feeling. I considered “assuming the position,” with the Yankees sign, but I immediately chastised myself for even thinking it. I knew d*mn well it only works when Mo pitches. But at least I had the lucky hat. As Farnsworth dealt I was pacing feverishly and talking out loud, not really forming complete sentences, just spitting out random words and phrases, as my mouth couldn’t keep up with my racing mind. Which was fine, I guess, because I wasn’t really talking to anyone anyway. Acc was nowhere to be found. He had replied to a text message right before Scott Erickson pitched (nice outing from him, by the way), and was on full-blown radio silence since. He was so asleep it was ridiculous. There was no doubt in my mind. As Ortiz started to battle I paced more quickly and my babbling got more ridiculous. Clearly I must have been distracting the Mrs. from the finale of Lost, which she had switched to on the downstairs TV right after Idol. But she knew the severity of the situation, so she didn’t say a peep. As Farnsworth threw the last slider, I felt like it was going 30 miles per hour. My hand was tracing the trajectory of the ball on the plasma screen. Got him Looking. I let out a yell that woke up most of Third Avenue. It’s about time we caught a break against that HGH-filled balloon.
A little bit on Randall. Although he had surrendered 9 hits before he had recorded an out in the third inning, things were not as ominous as they had been. He was striking guys out and getting ahead of guys. And he got stuck with a bunch of excuse-me-type hits with two outs and two strikes, and Youkilis delivered a two-run bomb after just such an aberration. I wasn’t so surprised when he sort-of settled down. He capped the runs at 5, at least, and gave the Yanks a chance to win from there. Also, it’s crazy, but he seemed a lot more comfortable with Stinnett back there. Somehow I think that’s going to continue. All-in-all, it wasn’t the prettiest win you’ll ever see, but there were a lot of things to be pleased about. And he beat the Red Sox. Again.
You guys have been stellar on the comments. I don’t want to gloss that over. Great banter. Reid, Happymeds, Raoul, Lucky, guavapaste, yuhsing, Rocco, JD, Nick, Scharbonneau, Umair, PeteyGoods, Wiggins, H8n, Levelboss, Ras, Vino, et al. Keep ‘em coming. You guys are what make this blog unique. I’m in Chicago the next few days, and I’m not sure if I’ll have an internet connection. So if I can’t post tomorrow, that’s one I owe you.
Grossman sent me a text message tonight telling me about the Jorge Julio for El Duque trade. That’s a spectacular deal for the Mets. It’s not as good when you think that it’s essentially swapping Kris Benson for El Duque, but at least they upgraded from Julio. Remember that move, because that one is going to be important.
So what did we learn? We learned that we can’t get too high or too low when it comes to these two teams. We need to stay even-keeled. You never know when a Jaret Wright or Scott Erickson or Melky Cabrera is going to come through for you. We learned that Sheffield makes this line-up start to look like its old self. We learned that good things happen when you throw strikes. And we have learned definitively that this Yankee team is not as one-dimensional as they were accused of being. They lead the league in sac bunts, and they can scratch and claw when they need to. We learned that Manny doesn’t always need to be Manny. Sometimes he can be Manny on his *ss. But lastly and most importantly, we learned a little bit more about this Yankee team, which limped into Boston after the rag-tag team assembled for the series at Shea fought a battle royal. After dropping four of the first five games to Boston, and just when the Sox fans were feeling big and puffy, we saw this Yankee team reach back, square up, and punch the Red Sox, the Fenway fans, and the City of Boston right in the mouth. Just to remind them what Bronx thunder tastes like. Welcome to the season, boys.
The phone rings in the seventh. Big Boy. “What’s the deal with Farnsworth, bro?” I told him what I have been telling everyone the last week or so. “Dude, Farnsworth and Billy Wagner are the same guy. Both throw 99, both are in love with their slider, and neither can be trusted to throw strikes when the money is on the line.” “But Wagner’s a lefty, bro….” Leave it to Acc to ruin a perfectly good sports comparison with minutia. Although the kid wasn’t wrong. Then I started yelling at the TV because I thought home plate ump Larry Poncino wasn’t going to punch out Mirabelli. He did, luckily. But I completely disoriented Acc as I my TV was a few seconds ahead of his. “Dude, I gotta go. You’re way ahead of me, and I’m sweating.” Neither of those were related, in my opinion, but I was cool with it. He sent me another text message in the eighth when things got weird. “I’m going to bed.” That was the biggest lie he told since Mrs. Acc asked him what happened to the leftover pizza. I knew he was bluffing. After Mo came in and got Big HGH to pop out, my phone beeped with a waiting TM. Big Boy. “I’m still here." I never had any doubt. Tony Sherry had already called asking me why Posada looked weird at the plate tonight. “He’s bending over and squinting and squirming around. Why is he all %^&*ed up?” “Knuckleballer, bro.” “Is that why? Does he say that he does that?” I had no idea, but it made sense to me. I know I would be all %^&*ed up…
So the BPS came out smelling like a clairvoyant rose with the Wakefield prediction tonight. I’d love to say that we’re so smart that we just know these things before anybody else, but the truth is that we’re just playing the percentages. He’s a .500 type of guy. Some nights he just has no control of the knuckleball. Tonight was one of those nights. And when he can’t control it, he starts to lose it and he starts to walk people. And then he gets in jams, so he has to try and slip in fastballs. Not good. That’s when he starts to get smandandicrated. He was squirming out of jams all night, but he simply did not have it. That’s the deal with Wakefield. That’s why he’s Mister fifty/fifty. He had pitched two great games against us, so we figured he was ripe.
And it wasn’t just Wakefield. The Red Sox were 4-1 against the Yanks this year before tonight, largely accompanied by glaring statistical anomalies. The Red Sox as a team are hitting .278. Against the Yanks this year they are hitting .307. The Red Sox average a modest 5.2 runs a game. Against the Yanks they’re averaging 7.2 runs a game. It gets better. There are only 6 position players out of 14 on the Red Sox who are not hitting at least .308 against the Yankees this year. Yet there are exactly two active players on the team who are hitting as high as .308 for the year. All of these things point to an impending “correction” to this “bubble.” The most off-the-charts examples are Manny, Big HGH, and Mark Loretta, who are hitting .455, .400, and .464 respectively against the Yanks this year. That’s 151, 127, and 168 points higher than their season averages. As astounding as that is, it won’t continue. There will be 13 more games, and the numbers will even themselves out. Also worth noting that this was all made possible because the Padres were willing to essentially swap out Mark Loretta, a career .300 hitting multi-time all star for somebody named Josh Bard (Hey Reid, aren’t the Padres the defending NL West champions? Isn’t there anybody there who is monitoring this type of deal? Lucky – you live in San Diego; did anybody there notice that this happened? Does anybody care?).
The moral of the story is that we were due to play better, and they were due to play worse. Who would have figured that it would be Jaret Wright who would finally lay down the law against them, though? That’s two strong starts in a row for him.
Miraculous recovery from Sheffield. Whatever. I’m just glad he’s back in the lineup. He didn’t get a hit, but he didn’t have to. He drew two walks because he’s that much scarier than the other candy*sses who we’ve seen out there. They’re careful with him, they walk him, and A-Rod comes up and smashes one right down everybody’s throat. Pretty simple, actually. Speaking of A-Rod, 3 of his 11 homers for the year have been against the Red Sox. I know, yesterday’s was BS, but he has now hit a couple that were the difference in two wins against the Red Sox. Which, incidentally, is the total number of wins we have against the Red Sox.
Boston smiles cautiously at Manny’s zaniness when he does well, and they tolerate it uneasily when he doesn’t. It’s a fishbowl town, which is why Manny hates it there and has been trying to get out for years. The problem was encapsulated perfectly with his home run tonight. The fans were overjoyed that he came through yet again against the Yanks, but when the excitement died down and the game was over, they will all have had gone back home, watched the clip on TV and thought, “Why can’t you just run the bases and let us enjoy the home run, instead of having to be embarrassed by you acting like a classless m*oron?”
Well, Randall, I’m out of statistical analysis for you. I have no idea what you’re going to bring. Is it something you can fix? Something that hurts? Is it just a weird run you’re having before you straighten everything out and start killing people again? I have no idea. I’m out of predictions for you. But I’m rooting for you every step of the way, dude. Bring one home.
Walked in around 8. The Mrs. asked if I wanted to put the game on while we ate. I did not. I try not to do that ever, because I lose all other focus if the game is on. I figure if the Mrs. can deal with me disappearing up to the loft to watch the rest of the game and all of the highlights multiple times, then the least I can do is give her a half-hour or so of my undivided attention. Besides, my “undivided attention” sometimes wanders, and if she asks a question I have to think fast to figure out what she was talking about. If the game’s on in the background, I’m screwed. So tonight I sat down with my frittata – yup, frittata. I have no idea if it’s spelled right, and it’s arguably only slightly more masculine than quiche, but it tastes pretty good, as far as I’m concerned. Some sort of eggs, sausage and peppers pie. I think. So at this point tonight I was clueless about the score or what was going down. But I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be good. I’ve been wrong a thousand times, of course, and I could just have easily been wrong again, but tonight my hunch was right. This iteration of the Yanks has trouble scoring runs, and tonight the drought continued, at least until the Red Sox decided to start goofing around.
And it was easy. Okay, so there was some ninth inning noise, but for the most part this game was a nice relaxing brain-beat down. Not really sure what to think about the fact that Joe bailed on this game early. I guess I do know what to think. It was the right move. It’s not like he yanked Wang too soon. Wang just didn’t have enough in his bag of tricks tonight. He gave up 7. So Ron Villone got the relief call. That didn’t go well, so Joe called on Colter Bean. A man I like to call “Farp.” Fat-A*ss-Relief-Pitcher. Farp Bean. Farp didn’t look too good either. But what are you going to do? Pull him out and waste somebody else? It was 9-1. So you leave him in. And he continues to s*ck. So then the Yanks proceed to make things slightly interesting in the ninth, twisting Keith Foulke into a confused, humiliated pretzel. But the Sox needed to see that. That’s the type of performance that gets you sent to the 60-day-DL with a “shoulder injury” so you can call up somebody else.
Apparently Terrence Long is on the Yankees. Glad somebody told me. I flipped the game on and didn’t know anything about it until Youkilis hit that ball off the wall, and all of the sudden Terrance Long is playing for the Yankees. And throwing to the wrong base…….twice. Good stuff.
Posada continued his home run tear, homering for the third time in his last five games. Good thing he sat out the Mets series, a series in which the Yankees equaled my mom’s major league home run total. Zero.
Not a lot else to say about this. It just was. I’m going to come out there with a weird prediction though. That Yankees will hit Wakefield hard tomorrow. Not because they got the bats going with a ninth-inning flurry. Frankly I don’t think that means bubkus. I do think, however, that they’re due to hit Wakefield. He’s always been Mister fifty-fifty, and he’s pitched two good games against the Yanks in a row. I say this time we pound him off the monster.
We all know about the injuries. But just as trying is the strain it puts on the other important bats, specifically Damon, Jeter, Giambi, and A-Rod. Let’s go back three weeks. I’m just picking a day. May 1st. Three weeks ago yesterday. In three weeks Jeter’s BA has dropped 47 points. Damon’s has dropped 19 points with the broken bone in his foot. Giambi’s is the best of all. He’s dropped 75 points in three weeks. Wow. That’s 25 points a week. At this rate he would be batting .000 on July 31, if it was statistically possible. A-Rod is the star of this group. His average has gone up a ******** 15 points, from .261 to .276. As Tony Sherry likes to say, I just don’t know the truth about Alex. Is he really just a total choke-artist, or will the statistics all even themselves out in the end, and this guy is just riding a sadistic streak of misfortune in big situations? Because if that’s the case, stand back and watch when it starts to turn around for him. He’s more due than Mike Rumble’s rent. Way more due.
I have to say, I get a big kick out of you guys having conversations, arguments, and snap-fights (I couldn’t think of anything better than the sixth grade term for it) on the BPS comments. Totally makes my day. My favorite was JD’s takedown of Raoul, only because I was hoping somebody was going to come back with that. Raoul, A-Rod is a good target. I’ll never claim that guy is any kind of bad*ss. But I will not allow Bostonian revisionist history to try and pretend that somehow Varitek kicked his *ss. Balderdash. The guy’s supposed to be a catcher, a tough guy. At least Michael Barrett and A.J. Piersynski took pokes at each other. Varitek runs after A-Rod, who might be the biggest wuss on the team, with full gear on, too scared to even pull his mask off. Pretty weak, “Tek.” And Raoul, be careful with Happymeds. I’ve seen the kid fire off some clever stuff…. And last thing Raoul, thanks for the softball….
H8n & Ras; another day, another multiple-rbi game for Big HGH and Manny. Talk about comfortable. I think Manny strolled up to the plate in flip flops and shorts, while Big HGH was wearing a bathrobe. And speaking of Big HGH (I can’t help it), did anybody see the close-up on his head on the YES telecast? Good gracious. It’s gotten to the point that his face is starting to stretch. The only thing I can think of is he must be pilfering Giambi’s stash of HGH and doubling up for himself. Rocco, shame you had to stay up late to watch that. Stay out of the sun, bro. Vino, way to put some effort into the comment. Jason, I don’t really have an opinion of the bottom of the lineup because I haven’t the slightest idea who any of them are… At least if it was, for instance, my little cousins Matt, Drew, and Owen batting 7,8,9, then I could feel good about the fact that they’re coming along nicely learning how to drink out of a cup.
And the BPS was honored by an appearance by no less than the Red Sox chick, Cyn. It’s been a while. But I was a bit surprised. There are lots of guys you can take shots at on the Yanks. A-Rod, Randall, Giambi, Sheffield, Bubba, Melky. And now Terrence Long, apparently. Plenty of ammo. But you come in and kill Jeter? Of all people? That’s who you choose to dog? Who’s next, Mariano? The two guys who play the game right every day? Your prerogative, I guess. I liked Lucky’s comeback. Beckett was an awful loud jack*ss out there yelling, mugging for the cameras and pumping his fist with a 7 run lead. But I have a feeling there were more than a few Red Sox fans uneasy watching that, even if they aren’t ready to admit it.
Wakefield’s going down. You heard it here, first.
I was at a Communion party for one of the Mrs.’ cousins on Saturday night, and all of her relatives (they’re all Met fans) said the same thing when they saw me – “I don’t want to talk about it.” Grossman had sent me a text message earlier in the day – “That hurt.” I had the same response for everybody. “I was just as miserable on Friday.” They all came right back at me, saying that theirs was much worse. They were right, no question. I was going to insult them by denying them that. The truth was that Mariano took it on the chin with two outs and two strikes. Happens sometimes. More often than we would like this year, but it happens. He didn’t implode. We know what Billy Wagner did, we know the outcome, we know all of that. But there was one thing that happened that was significant above all else. The ultimate no-confidence vote for a closer. He got pulled off the mound while his team still had the lead. You know how many times that’s happened to Mariano in 10 years? Zero. Do you know how many times that’s happened to any established closer in the last ten years? I have no idea, but it’s going to be marginally north of zero, if that. The mere term “closer” dictates this, because if he’s getting yanked off the mound with a lead, then he’s not your closer. But that’s what Billy is. So tonight Willie goes back to him. He had thrown 44 pitches in two days, but Willie knew how important this was. He was desperately hoping to get Wagner back on track. It was a good gamble. Odds are the Yankees weren’t going to get to him two nights in a row. And when you consider that the Yankees were sending up Robbie Cano, an injured Bernie Williams, who acknowledged that he wouldn’t be playing if not for the three other outfield injuries, Melky Cabrera, Kelly Stinnett, and Miguel Cairo, you really had to like your chances. Murderer’s row they will never be. If the law of averages were any more in Wagner’s favor Vegas may have closed the windows. So I agree with Willie’s move. Unfortunately for Wagner and Willie, they did not get what they were hoping for. They won, and that’s first priority, but Wagner again proved that he is not an elite closer. First of all, as if Wagner didn’t have enough on his side in that inning, home plate umpire Tom Hallion gave him the two most important gifts he will receive this season. Strike one and strike two to Cano. The “k zone” on ESPN showed both pitches to be clearly outside. Not that I needed to see the k-zone. I was standing up berating all 42 inches of plasma long before Joe Morgan commented after seeing the k-zone, “Well, I guess they were close enough.” Hallion’s strike zone was stretched low all night, without a doubt. But not wide. Joe Morgan made an excellent observation late in the game when he said that Rick Peterson had instructed all of his pitchers to keep the ball low. Good strategy, good analysis. It’s even more beneficial when the umpire is giving you the low strike all night. And that’s fine, because he kept it consistent. When you see a team like the Yankees put 21 guys on base and strand 15 guys while scoring just three runs, you will usually be able to go back into a game and pick up on a nuance like that. When the low strike is being called, you need to swing at low pitches, and when you swing at low pitches you will inevitably hit into double plays. And the Yankees hit into three, all inning-ending. But my problem is the Cano at-bat. Hallion was not calling outside pitches all night, but he gives those two crucial pitches to Wagner to put him ahead 0-2. Cano stepped out and had a brief word with Hallion and stepped back in. You never see him do that, but tonight he had every right. And then Hallion called a pitch even more egregious to Bernie Williams, this time way inside. Bernie, who may be the most polite guy in the game, stepped out and had a word with Hallion. Again, deservedly so. Then Wagner pukes up two consecutive base-hits to Bernie and Melky. When he says his prayers tonight, I hope he includes the part about Kelly Stinnett and Miguel Cairo being the next two guys he had to face. And it took him 6 pitches to get Stinnett, and 7 to get Cairo. Billy, this was your first big test of the year, and somehow the baseball eggheads will reward you with two saves in the stat book. I hope you understand that every Met fan who watched that game on Saturday and watched you hand that win away, watched you walk off the mound hanging your head while your team was still winning, and then watched the umpire save your *ss tonight and you almost puking it away anyway, knows that you failed, Billy. Regardless of whether or not they’ll admit it, especially not to Yankees fans. Because you are not an elite closer. You never were.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about the “lights-out” bullpen of Sanchez, Heilman, and Wagner. They all looked really good. Once. The second time each one came out they were decidedly average. If that. Heilman walked the bases loaded tonight, Sanchez walked the bases loaded and coughed up a run, and Wagner….well, Wagner’s terrified face as he came out of the bullpen tonight said it all. Mrs. Wagner has to remember to send Tom Hallion a Christmas card this year. And Glavine? Met fans, is this the guy you’re counting on to lead you to October? I have news for you. He’s a five inning pitcher, the same way Clemens was the past couple of years. Only Glavine is not nearly as dominating for those 5 innings. He threw 107 pitches in just six innings, and that was only because Hallion was bailing him out with the low strike calls. Sam Ryan was there with the usual spin when interviewing Glavine after he left. “Tom, you struggled a bit tonight, but you made good pitches when you needed to.” Right. How’s this: “Tom, A-Rod smashed a ball as hard as you can hit it with the bases juiced tonight, and Cliff Floyd could do nothing but reach high over his head and hope the ball landed in his glove, because if it didn’t it would have been 5-0 Yankees and you would probably have been pulled. What made you throw that great pitch?”
On the flip side, the Met bats looked pretty good. They can hit. If there is a knock, from this series, it is that they are what people have accused the Yankees of being the last few years. Too reliant on the long ball. Five of their seven runs on Friday and all four tonight came via the long ball. Which is fine, but I expected a few manufactured runs. This punchless Yankee/Columbus Clipper team was able to out-hit the Mets for the series 31-23. Luckily for the Mets, the issue for the Yankees is that there is no one to knock them in. The RBI guys are decimated. The Lion, Sheffield, and Posada all missed the series, and Bernie headed back in injured tonight because there was no one else. And Damon is playing with a broken bone in his foot. But the most telling stat about the Yanks, probably, is that they haven’t hit a home run since the Posada walk-off last week. And take that game away and they have hit exactly one home run since Saturday, May 13th. Also by Posada, who is currently injured. That’s nine days ago, for most of you reading this on Monday morning. You really don’t have to pitch to any of the sluggers, especially A-Rod. Sure, he proved himself a miserable failure in the clutch yet again, but this time I’ll acknowledge that there is no reason to give him anything to hit. Cano is a nice player, but his service in the league measures just days over one year. Bases loaded, here comes Stinnett. Or Melky. Or Kevin Reese (?). Or Bubba, although he’s injured. Actually, I don’t want to kill Melky. He put up a defiant at-bat on Saturday and really brought Wagner to his knees. All-in-all he’s doing fine, currently hitting .303, but has shown no power with zero home runs and just one RBI. If you’re trying to replace The Lion and Sheffield, that’s not going to do it.
As for the pitching, Farnsworth and Chacon are injured and unavailable, Sturtze is gone for the year, and Pavano is a punch line. So consequently we had guys like emergency starter Aaron Small, Mike Meyers, Ron Villone, Scott Erickson, and my favorite, Colter Bean, on the mound to try and get us through. Colter Bean personifies the favorite Billy Beane phrase, “We’re not selling jeans, here.” Because that fat*ss Bean looks like he spent a lot of time at the all-you can-eat buffet at Bob’s Big Boy.
Speaking of fat*sses, Schilling again tomorrow. Joy. Mister me, me, me. The Yanks limp into Boston for three. They’re getting by on pure heart, here. They showed it against Texas and they showed it against the Mets. These Yankees don’t give up. At the moment, they just aren’t cutting it in the talent department. So they’ll need all the heart they can get.
It sounds like Sheffield finally agreed to the cortisone shot and immediately felt better, taking BP today and preparing for a rehab assignment, probably tomorrow. Thanks for waiting a month, Gary. Just get back in the d*mn lineup.
For the time being the Yanks will just need to survive. They are in a stretch now (April 27-June 16) in which they will play just 8 of 46 games against teams with a losing record. After Wednesday night they will have finished a stretch in which they have played just 2 games out of their last 26 against teams with a losing record. Now is not the time to be patchwork, but you can’t plan these things, so you have to roll with it. Here’s the good news (finally). Boston has played 41 games, and 19 of those, almost half, have been against Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Seattle. My bet is that when the smoke clears, we’ll see that they’re not as good as they look.
Oh yeah, Bonds. I’ll reiterate what I posted on Gabe’s blog over at Da Bronx Bombers. Bonds is a liar and a fraud. Rooting for him is like rooting for Tammany Hall.
“Did you read the blog today?” I was messing with Tony Sherry last night driving to the Stadium. There’s no way he read it. “I read it,” he insisted. “Did you read it or did you skim it?” “I read it……..I skimmed it………I skimmed the first half of it.” There it was. The Sherry brothers, as I’ve said many times before, have never been known for their patience.
Bronx Johnny sent me a few text messages the past few days. They all said the same thing. “What’s up with your boy Posada?” He’s trying to make nice. I routinely tell him that he’s the biggest hater I have ever met in my life. And he is. I’ve known plenty of Met fans and Yankee fans who are haters, but Bronx Johnny is the worst I’ve ever seen. A Met fan from the Bronx. And I shred him about it all the time. So now he’s trying to prove that he’s really not that bad after all. Fine. We’ll see this weekend if he can control himself. He needs to take a page from Grossman, the official Met correspondent for the BPS.
Not a lot of runs today, boys. Apparently Vincente Padilla is making the rules these days. Since when does that tomato can hold us to two hits in six innings? Putting aside the 14 run carnival on Tuesday night, we’ve scored a total of 15 runs in our other six games since the Lion went down. That’s 2.5 runs a game, and that’s not going to cut it. We should be eating Vincente Padilla with ketchup. Before this series I said we were going to be lucky to split. I think that’s what you would call it, being that we needed to erase a nine run deficit to pull it off. It felt a little bigger than a split, though. When you can accomplish something like that, it proves a whole lot of things about your team. It gives you a window into what they are capable of. Yes, there are some interesting angles to this DL situation the Yankees are facing. This might teach the team how to win the hard way. It’s easy to think of all the thunder coming up behind you, sometimes. It would be easy for any Yankee to treat his at-bat like a kid in the schoolyard whose big brother is standing right behind him with brass knuckles and a rattlesnake draped over his shoulders. Sometimes to be patient and scrap for that one run you need is the way to win. Sometimes you’ll win because your team hits five home runs in one game. When you get both of those things down tight, you’re playing what Umair and I like to call Championship Baseball.
Happymeds asked recently about Mike Lupica (I think it was Happymeds). Lupica was a favorite target of mine last year, and he’s always been a favorite verbal target of mine. Lupica is your average whiny sports dork who couldn’t ever play but thinks he’s an expert regardless. He’s an excellent writer, but he’s got a hatred of the Yankees that goes so deep that it affects his rationale, and with it his credibility. Realizing that it would be ridiculous for him to say that New York is a “Met town,” he tries to back-door it by saying things like – “New York has always been a National League town.” Give it a rest Mike. The most credibility-damaging pieces he writes, though, are the pieces he inevitably writes around July or so each year that state that “the Mets are the better story in New York right now”. You can count on that one every year for about the last ten years. The Mets have been a marginally compelling team over the last ten years, at best. Some years they have just been forgettably underachieving. I wonder if he’s gone back over those columns at any point, or if he just tries to forget about them. The Yankees over the last ten years have put together a dynasty run that has included multiple perfect games, a no hitter by an aging New York hero who recaptured glory for just one night, a Yankee as quirky as he was dominating such that he wore Babe Ruth’s hat out to pitch an inning before they made him take it off, and unbelievable comebacks on back-to-back nights in the World Series followed by a devastating disappointment. It has seen the ultimate comeback to vanquish the ultimate rival, and a collapse for the ages. This Yankee team is the story. They have always been the story. Pay attention, Mike. Get over yourself, and deal with the Yanks. They are the professional sports franchise.
So with that, what’s the most recent piece he’s written? The one that lauded The Ferocious Lion for being the kind of guy who apologizes to his teammates and fans when he gets hurt. For being the exact opposite of Barry Bonds. Okay, so maybe Lupica gets it right once in a while.
So I guess I have to s*ck up the fact that I got exactly one comment on the BPS today. One. Thank you, Lucky. A goose-egg would have been devastating. Okay, so two more have posted comments since I began here, Reid and Tony Sherry, of all people. I’ll take it.
Last thing. Since today is May 18th, I’ll recall the May 18th when the Yanks won two games in one day. Not a doubleheader, mind you, but the kind where you win one after midnight the night before, and then you come back and win another one the next afternoon. A beautiful night turned into a monsoon courtesy of Mother Nature, and a sure 13th inning loss turned into a win courtesy of a grand slam by Jason Giambi. The boys were there in force. Ten of us. The next day’s win was far easier. But there was another game in between. A stickball game. It took place in the schoolyard of St Teresa’s church in Staten Island at about 9:30 in the morning. Mike Sherry was there, as was Sean, the Big Boy, Johnny Fantastic, Jim Slover, the Magic Man, and Mikey Rumble. Funny thing about that game; we were all wearing tuxedos. There were plenty of spectators there, too. But they weren’t watching us. They were waiting for the main event, when a pretty redhead would stride down a long aisle on the arm of a gentleman known to most everybody as Big Joe. That was the star they all came to see. And she disappointed no one. Happy anniversary Mrs. B.
“See. Right there. That’s me and that’s Tony.” The Mrs. was actually mildly impressed, even in her drowsy state. “Ooh. Rewind it…” I kind of dragged her out of bed to show her the Yankees Encore clip on YES of Posada’s first RBI base hit, which rolled right past Tony and me in section 24. The DVR on my TV downstairs has “live TV” pause, reverse, etc. So as Posada’s hit rolled along the left field wall, I rewinded it 50 times to show the Mrs, with Tony and me clearly visible hanging over the wall as Wilkerson came in to play it. I was cheering and clapping in my Paul O’Neill T-shirt and Tony was in his road jersey cheering and taunting Wilkerson. What a night. Another win for us, making Tony’s record particularly stellar. Sure, he was bummed that he couldn’t chatter with The Ferocious Lion, and he didn’t have much to say to Crosby, but he seemed to have his mojo back.
So let’s recap, just in case anyone had an inkling that I have any idea what I’m talking about. Jorge Posada, my example of a Yankee who was destined to offset his hot start by slightly underperforming the rest of the way, has now lifted his Yankee teammates onto his back and is currently carrying them around the bases like Conan the Barbarian. Check. And the Yankee offense, which I insisted would go into hibernation, explodes for 14 runs yesterday sans The Lion and Messrs. Giambi and Sheffield. Check. I’ll put aside for a moment that they’ve scored a total of 13 runs in the other five of their past six games. Like the old song goes – accentuate the positive. What else? How about my two pre-season all-star pitchers, Chacon and Randall….whoops. Hey what do you want from me? At the end of the day, my message is always the same. We’re better, so we’ll win. Pretty simple. How we get there – well, anything can happen.
I’m very encouraged by the way the starters have given the Yanks a chance to win these games, even as the bats are cooler. Wang was spectacular tonight, inducing groundball after groundball, staying out of trouble all game. If this is the kind of pitcher he’s going to be, we’re in real good shape. As JD pointed out, he had that mechanics issue when pitching from the stretch early on. Hopefully they’ve got that thing fixed. I’m curious to see what Jaret Wright gives us tomorrow. If he can follow a solid start with another solid start, we may have the makings of some stability. It’s going to be especially tough against that Texas lineup, I should note. Which is what makes what Wang did tonight that much more impressive.
So as requested, Reid, the ODBM, gave us an analysis of potential replacements for our outfield shortage. His analysis? Don’t do it. You’re going to have to give up good young pitching prospects for offense, which doesn’t make sense. I agree and I disagree. I agree that giving up good young pitching rarely makes sense, if they are established. But my counterpoint would be around what makes a “good prospect.” The interesting thing about pitchers is that it is very difficult to say with certainty who is going to be a successful major league pitcher and who isn’t. Hitters and position players rarely come out of nowhere. It happens, but the good ones are most often visible by Single A ball. Pitchers are more of a **** shoot. Guys coming out of college and high school with huge potential often flame out before they ever make it to the majors, and great ones very often simply appear. Brien Taylor was a highly touted first-round pick. Mo Rivera came out of thin air. Andy Pettitte and Wang came out of thin air. Not once before last May did you hear Wang’s name in trade talks. Now the Yanks could get almost anybody for him. In fairness, no one really expected much of Cano either, but it’s a lot more prevalent with pitching. Happens all the time. Remember “Generation K” that the Mets were touting as the second coming? The only guy that stuck was Isringhausen, and he’s had a so-so career as a so-so reliever. More like “Generation Klown”…The flameouts are legendary. Anyone think trading Eric Milton for Knoblauch was a bad idea? After 3 rings, I don’t. Anyone think the Dodgers thought Pedro was going to turn out to be Pedro when they dealt him for my mom and my sister? If they were looking for better cookies and brownies, it was a good deal for them. And there are great examples like Tim Wakefield. A failed position player who learns a knuckler and parlays it into an extended major league pitching career. Can anyone think of a guy who decided that he couldn’t pitch, so he was going to switch over and be a hitter? Okay, there was that guy Ruth, but he didn’t exactly stop pitching because he couldn’t cut it on the mound… The point is this. Pitching is an amazingly singular event; trying to keep yourself composed while also beguiling a hitter. You can throw 16 straight balls and lose a game by yourself without a hitter doing a thing. It’s a unique talent, and just because a guy throws 100 mph doesn’t mean he’s going to be cut out for it. Very often they come out of nowhere. And with that in mind, it might be worth taking a risk dealing a pitching prospect, more so than a position prospect, for established offense, because that pitching prospect has a very good chance of being nothing more than a red herring. And there’s a very good chance that no one knows where the next great thing is coming from. So with all of that said, do you make a deal? In my mind, it all depends on Sheffield. If he’s on his way back imminently, then no. If he won’t be back until after the all-star break, then yes.
Congratulations to our boy Sean on the birth of his new baby boy. Apparently he was voted down by Mrs. C on his quest to name the boy Michael Mussina Curtis, as the little guy’s name is Ryan Sean. Congrats to the new parents.
I hope to finish this off strong tomorrow afternoon, as our schedule continues to show its teeth after that, with the Mets and more Boston. No rest for the weary. But like I told Big Joe (father-in-law) when he called me as Tony and I were driving home from the stadium, “Tonight was a good night. Any night I can leave a game singing along with Frank, it’s a good night.”