As I leaned forward on the couch, I heard the key rattle in the door. This might be just the break I needed. I needed something. The Yankees were about to bat in the ninth, but I was still reeling from moments earlier, when, although dutifully wearing my lucky hat, I neglected to make it up to the loft in time to grab the Yankees street sign and hold it guitar-style as Mo pitched. I bolted up the stairs when I realized my oversight, but the Barajas double was already rattling into the left field corner, right past section 24, incidentally, where alert fans were trying to grab it to ensure Barajas stayed at second and Derosa stayed at third. 13-12, Texas. I was devastated. How could I have made such a bush-league mistake? So there I was, back downstairs on the couch after deciding that the downstairs couch and the LCD TV had been vastly luckier than the loft and the Plasma TV tonight. But this new development gave me hope. The key rattling in the door meant that seconds later the Mrs. would be striding in. She was out with Janine and Allison, two of her teacher-friends, for their monthly dinner. Which meant that yours truly had cashews for dinner. Nobody’s fault but mine, I’ll be the first one to admit. She could leave the plate ready and in the microwave and I still wouldn’t heat it up. I’m that lazy. Cashews. But anyway, the reason for my optimism was that the Mrs. is generally known to be a good luck charm for the Yanks. The fact that I started dating her in 1996 tells you something straight off. So when she walked in, we had a shot. I knew it. As she strolled over and looked at the score, she immediately realized the urgency. Without being told, she went in and put on her lucky Yankees sweatshirt. As she made her way back to the living room, I was hurriedly explaining (babbling) to her the way the game had unfolded, that they were down 10-1, came back, down, came back, and down again. Then Damon gets a break with a bad hop. Beautiful! A bad break immediately ensued as the ball hits the top of the wall and failed to bounce into the stands by about 8 inches. A ground rule double would have been monumental right there. But with the leadoff man on, the Mrs. was paying dividends already. Then Jeter bounces one high that I was sure was going to be two. Too high, apparently, and Otsuka went the safe way. I think he could have made the play at second. Maybe I’m crazy. Either way, I’ll take it, because the tying run is in scoring position. A-Rod, A-Rod, A-Rod….what can I say? You hit it hard, bro. If the outfielders were playing where they were playing Jeter, that’s a double in the gap. But not tonight. Two outs. Ladies and gentlemen, now batting, number 20, Jorge Posada, number 20. I always say this about Posada; if he gets ahead in the count, he’s dangerous. If he gets two strikes on him, he’s meat. So Otsuka goes 3-0. I’m thinking Posada was going to walk, and Cano, the only batter in either lineup who didn’t have a hit, was going to end it with a flourish, just like Barajas, who had been the only Ranger batter without a hit, came through for the go-ahead run against Mo. But that was before Otsuka threw the 3-1, before I tapped my lucky hat, and before I rubbed the Mrs.’ lucky sweatshirt one last time…. Boom.
I recall moments later that I managed to catch a glimpse of the Mrs. out of the corner of my eye. She was giggling at the silliness of her husband bouncing around the living room (and dining room) screaming like a 5-year old boy, while at the same time glancing worriedly at the clock hoping she wasn’t going to hear any complaints from the neighbors tomorrow. But this she knew: I didn’t care who woke up. This was one of those nights.
The phone started ringing moments later. Big Joe (father-in-law) first. “Are you kidding me? I wasn’t going to call you until the end. I can’t believe it.” I was still yelling. “Big Joe, that was unbelievable. I knew I had a shot when your daughter walked in right before the Yanks batted in the ninth.” “Right,” he said, “The good luck charm.” Big Joe knew.
I called Tony Sherry. Poor Tony. He came back sick from Miami, and he’s still ******* wind about the whole Ferocious Lion thing. He was not nearly excited as he should have been. He’s got about 18 hours to get himself psyched, because we’re due in section 24 by then, and I don’t want to bring anything less than full power.
A couple of points about the game. Mo got touched again. Big Joe asked me if there’s a problem. The proof is in the results, I guess, but here’s why I’m not particularly worried. The hits are typical Mo hits. Tonight he gave up two hits in the ninth. One was the most ridiculous, broken-bat, BS, bloop ever, and the other was a broken bat ground ball, although better hit than the first one. Either way, the guy broke two bats. Most of the time when you break a bat, the ball isn’t going to find a whole. And that’s what you’ve seen from him this year. Maybe the cutter isn’t as sharp or the control isn’t as sharp, but broken-bat hits aren’t going to fall in with this kind of regularity as the season wears on. When he starts serving up hard line drives with any sort of regularity, then I’ll worry.
No Giambi, No Sheffield, and no Ferocious Lion, yet we still pull this out. That’s Championship baseball.
Twenty comments today. That’s what I’m talking about, boys. Nicely done. Lucky, glad you could find a connection. Wasn’t the same without you. Levelboss, glad to see you back as a regular BPS Crew member. Let’s hope we don’t sink into one of those ’05 funks. The pessimists might point out that we had one of these nights against the D-Rays inserted right smack in the middle of a tailspin last year. A tailspin that resumed the next night… Umair, I agree with your point. I thought they might pitch around A-Rod in the ninth tonight with first base open. He’s not going to see pitches…. Yuhsing, you and Reid are in the “we’ll be fine” camp. I’m in the same camp, but it’s going to come with some pain. This situation is going to cost us some games in the standings. Plus, I just don’t know what the deal is with Sheffield. Remember when Nick Johnson was in the minors about five years ago and sat out the whole year with some undefined wrist injury? If Sheffield is suffering from whatever that was, we’ve got problems. Especially since he won’t take a cortisone shot because of the “potential long-term damage.” Can anybody imagine Paul O’Neill not taking a cortisone shot? He would take ten cortisone shots, if he thought it would help him go from first to third in the ninth inning of a game he was already winning by ten runs.…I don’t think a “wild-cat strike” would be so effective for Sheffield, because the guy can still rake, and somebody will pay him next year. Plus, he’s whining about wanting to leave so much, he would be much better served putting up the big numbers to get his deal. Unless his agent is telling him he’s not going to get more cake than the Yanks will give him…which is probably true. Anybody wondering why you don’t see a ton of Sheffield shirts out at the stadium? Rocco, I was wondering about that rain-out rule last night. I didn’t realize that was the rule. Thanks for pointing that out. And in that case, we got an even bigger kick in the balls…. Gjp, great point about the Jeter vs. Cano stats. You just hope that Cano can find his way into the middle of everything good happening in a game, like Jeter always can…. Lt, are you nuts? Yell when you’re on the phone with your girl, bro. Yell like your nuts are on fire. She’ll understand. It’s a one-in-a-million-night! Happymeds, JD, Petey Goods and levelboss, here’s my problem with Soriano. I’ve always said he is the second stupidest player in baseball (of course, Manny is the answer to your next question – sorry Raoul). He is the current record holder for strikeouts in a postseason, which he set in 2003 before the Yanks even got out of the ALCS. How in the world did everybody in baseball, everyone watching at home, and everyone in the stands know that he was going to get curveballs low and away except him? And he kept swinging at them. I’ve never seen anything like it. Bottom line – he’ll get you runs during the season, but come crunch time…yikes. Let’s see….who else does that sound like…
Tomorrow night in section 24 boys. Tony Sherry and me. Figures we’re following a game like this. But wait. May 17, is it? What does that remind me of, so fitting for tonight as well? Those of you that have been with the BPS since last year know…..
I flipped on the game in the top of the sixth inning. The score was 2-2. And as I sit down to tap the keys, the game is in the top of the eighth inning and the Rangers have just seconds ago scored what will turn out to be the winning run. The Yankees will lose; just like I knew they would when I first score the game was 2-2. The Yankees are so hilariously limp right now that they have a better chance of losing this game 25-2 than they do of holding the Rangers at 3 and putting across 2 more runs of their own to win. And fittingly, the rain is coming down in sheets at the stadium. What a perfect metaphor for the Yankees at this point in the season. The Rangers can thump. They got what they needed tonight. A first-class performance by Millwood, who the Yankees have traditionally treated like a punching bag, with the exception of his last start or two against them. The Yanks, on the other hand, have scored 9 runs in their last four games. That’s awful.
[Blalock just knocked in another run; 4-2]
These Yankees are suffering in more ways than just the loss of two big run producers. The lineup is doing exactly what it did in the early part of last year. Everyone is jumping at the ball and discipline has gone out the window. Through 7 innings Millwood has only thrown 78 pitches. That would ordinarily be unheard of. Jorge Posada got ahead in the count 3-0 last inning, and then refused to take the walk. Looked at strike one. Fine. Swung at ball four. Great. Fouled off ball 5. Even better. Looked at strike 3. What’s the deal, Jorge? Then Bernie lined out on the first pitch and Melky popped out on the first pitch. Two things at play here. One, the Yanks are over-anxious, most likely because they all feel like they have to do more. Second, pitchers are going right after them. “I’m going to pound the strike zone, Melky and Bubba, because lollipops and rainbows scare me more than you do.” And further to that, guys like Melky are going to swing away, because they’re thinking their best shot at making the big club for good is to hit their way on. So they’ll swing like idiots. That’s why this team needs to make a deal.
[This is beautiful. Rain delay. There is no way they’re going to finish this game. Thanks, umps. It was absolutely pouring that whole half-inning and you let play continue just long enough for two runs to score so you could stop the game right after Texas took the lead. Nice. I may have missed something, but why did Torre take Giambi out of the game in the eighth inning of a tie game? Is he nuts? This offense can’t afford to lose Giambi. Is he hurt or something?]
I know people don’t want to hear it, but unless somebody can assure me that Sheffield’s return is imminent, this lineup is not going to cut it. The Yanks could get a deal done without too much pain. Free agents-to-be with bloated salaries, etc. Go get a patient veteran. Reid has promised us an analysis of potential replacements over at BHGM. Let’s see what he comes up with. Because the guys we have now are going to put us 5 games back in the standings before they’re done. Sometimes, the truth hurts.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating. One of my favorite pieces of insight from Yankee broadcaster Jim Kaat was when he recalled a technique of his old pitching coach, Johnny Sain (he of the “Spahn, Sain, then pray for rain” Milwaukee Braves staff of the late fifties). He said Johnny Sain would take his pitchers out to watch batting practice every so often. The idea was that they would see these batting-practice fastballs coming in pitch after pitch, and watch hitters do plenty of fouling them off, hitting grounders, soft flies, etc. The lesson was that even if you make a mistake right down the pipe, very often hitters would just miss. So throw strikes. Good stuff. The counterpoint to this, of course, would be for a pitching coach to take his pitchers to watch Tanyon Sturtze throw a regular inning in an actual game. Then they would watch every single batter stroke base hit after base hit. And now he’s “hurt.”
[Well, I guess they got it re-started. And no sooner did they get it going that the Yanks went down like little kids. Jeter gets a base hit with two outs, and who’s up next as the tying run? Giambi’s replacement, Andy Phillips. Good thinking Joe. I’ll ask again. Is Giambi hurt? Because if he doesn’t have something wrong with him, maybe Torre does.]
Don’t know what else to say, boys. More of the same coming up this week. Tony Sherry and I will be there on Wednesday night. I was on the phone with Chris Woy today, and he was worried about Tony. Lots of people want to know if he’s ready to jump off a roof. He’s not. But section 24 on Wednesday just won’t be the same.
The text message came in from Acc on Friday night. “Are you watching this?” That might be the worst, least descriptive, give-you-no-clue-what’s-going-on text message you could possible get. I was out to dinner with the Mrs, Joey Puma and the future Mrs. Joey Puma at Chianti on 3rd Ave in Brooklyn. I didn’t want to be a total bad guy and start tapping out TMs in the middle of dinner. It was bad enough that I checked it in the first place. But I figured I was in this deep anyway, so I might as well be quick. He tapped back, “1-0 us”, and then left me dangling. About half-hour later I tapped out another that looked something like this – “?????” He comes back, “Sorry – dozing off – 2-0 w.” Now, a “w” cures all ills, so I was pretty psyched after that. I showed Joey Puma, a Yankee fan, the TM, and he was psyched too, but the truth is he wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention because he was still doubled over laughing from when the Mrs. told the story of when Big Joe (father-in-law) met my mother for the first time and showed up wearing two pinky rings. All’s well that ends well.
Well, sort of. The Yanks have a problem. Although the Yanks were able to pull off two out of three, they did not look like their usual selves. Seven runs in three games. For the first time in a long time, they were able to take two of three without scoring more runs than their opponent over the course of the series. You can get away with that against the A’s but you will not get away with it against a team like the Texas Rangers. The Rangers come in here crackling thunder all over the place, and the Yanks are shuffling out better-than-average-but-not-lights-out bats. The Yankees will be lucky to split, and I would not be the least bit surprised if they lose three of four. They’re not going to be able to beat up the Texas starter and rely on the bullpen to hold the opponent to six runs or less. They’re going to need runs, which they will get in spotty bunches. This will lead to the front office coming under even more pressure to make a move to settle things in the OF. It’s not going to be pretty.
The Yankees team as it stands right now reminds me a bit of last year’s team in the early months. Substitute Damon and Giambi for Sheffield and the Ferocious Lion and you can see how the lineups are even. One through four is tight, but after that it doesn’t really scare the jockstrap off of you. Sure, Giambi was on last year’s team too, but he might as well have been his brother Jeremy last April and May. The difference will be subtle, at times. We will still blow teams, good teams, out on occasion. We will win with some good pitching performances. But it will be difficult to make up for what we’ve lost. If you look at one of my favorite stats, the runs-produced stat, which is taking runs scored plus RBIs and subtracting the double-count for HRs, you can see what Sheffield and the Lion bring to the table. Over the last two years using this stat, they have produced an average of 2.9 runs per game between them. (I could put the math in here, but trust me, it works). Now, to do it cleanly, you would really have to further eliminate the double-count by subtracting when Matsui knocked in Sheffield, or vice-versa. But that would have taken a lot more research, and I have my limitations. In any case, you can see that this is going to cause some pain. Some of these games will be very difficult to win without those 2.9 runs.
I was watching the first part of the game today, and as soon as the third run scored in the first I said to the Mrs, “This game is over,” and I proceeded to head out to run the Mother’s Day errands that she had assigned me. Sad as it is to say, I knew that a 3 run first inning hole was going to be too much for this team to overcome. I don’t read Dan Haren’s mlblog, but I’m sure the kid is writing about his big day at the Stadium, and “This one’s for you, mom,” and whatever else, and that’s fine. Let the kid have his moment. The truth is that this game was over before he ever stepped on the mound, and he’ll never have an easier day at the Stadium in his life. But we don’t need to rain on his parade, I guess. It’s not politically correct.
You could argue that the good news (believe it or not) for the Yanks is that they have now scored one run in their last 14 innings of baseball. They’re weaker, but they’re not that much weaker. They’re due to put some runs up tomorrow. And we’ve got Moose on the mound (Seanny, your boy’s up!), so we might be okay.
Some may question why I’m so sure that the law of averages is always on the Yankees’ side. It’s a good question. The answer is that it’s not always on their side, just most of the time. Why? Because they’re better than everybody else. Okay, that’s somewhat subjective, but only somewhat. They’re certainly one of the best teams. So statistically, the Yankees have a better chance to win every single game they play than do their opponents. But there are limitations. If the Yanks rattled off ten straight against the Red Sox, say, then I would be lamenting the fact that the law of averages would predict that the easy living is destined to come to a halt. And further, I’ll give you a live example of the law of averages working against the Yanks. Jorge Posada. At this point in his career, Jorge is probably going to finish at .260, with 20 bombs and 70 RBIs. He’s currently at .298 and is on pace to hit 27 bombs and drive in 100 runs. I just don’t think that’s going to happen, and it would be a pretty big deviation from his average of the last two years. So the reality is that he’s probably going to hit about .248 with 15 bombs and 55 RBI for the rest of the season. It’s also fair to point out that he, along with everybody else, will be hurt by the fact that there is a lot less protection in the lineup with the current situation.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ll close out with a story about my mom. Back in ’98, I was living in Astoria, Queens with Mike Sherry and Johnny Fantastic. The Yankees were enjoying a wild magic carpet ride that year, and we rode right along with them. But you may not remember that the Yanks dropped the second and third game of the ALCS against Cleveland that year to fall into a 2-1 hole. This was particularly disturbing because the Yanks had been so dominating that year, and if they had not been able to close out a 114-win season by winning the World Series, the whole thing would have been worthless. There was a lot of pressure. Now, the Big Boy will tell you, when things get tense in the playoffs, he adds meals. Me, I’m the opposite. I completely lose my appetite. So when the series was tied at 1-1, I stopped eating, and by the time we went down 2-1, I barely slept. What little sleep I did get was invaded by nightmares of Jim Thome and Bartolo Colon. The next morning, after hearing some shuffling outside the door, I opened it to find our landlord, Mr. Souvlaki (not his real name) dropping a box in front of our door, saying that a lady had just dropped it off. It was a box of groceries, and there was a note attached. The note said, simply: “If you eat something, you’ll have more energy to celebrate when they win. Love, mom” Turns out that my mom was monitoring the series, and knowing that I was going to be too anxious to get anything to eat myself, she took matters into her own hands. The rest, of course, is Yankee history.
There are probably two conclusions to draw from that story. First, I really am the biggest obsessed loser in the history of the world. Second, it’s pretty special when there is somebody out there who doesn’t mind. Happy Mother’s Day.
Cell phone rang around ten-of-nine. Tony Sherry. I had only just flipped on the game. Sixth inning with bases juiced. I had just walked in the door from work. I checked the gamecast before I left, and it was 2-0 Yanks. Wakefield was shaky in the first. Good news. Tony, though, was only interested in one thing. “Any news?” I knew what he was talking about, of course. He was sitting on a plane ready to go to Miami with the doors already closed, and he’s calling me to find out about the Ferocious Lion. I could hear the flight attendant in the background running through the safety procedures. “Not yet, dude. Didn’t sound good, though. And apparently his streak is already over, because there is some rule about having to play a full half-inning.” This was no way for him to start his weekend. “That’s the most devastating news I’ve ever heard in my life.” This time, he spoke for many of us.
Not sure how long the Lion will be out, but a fractured wrist usually means 8 weeks. That means all-star break-ish, most likely. Not good. Follow that up with Michael Kay saying tonight that he didn’t think Sheffield was going to be ready to play after fifteen days, even though he’s eligible to come off the DL, and you’ve got true joy. That Sheffield thing sounds like a problem. Ugh. What does this mean for the team? It means we’re going to lose more games. It’s pretty simple. This makes everything tighter. Those were two huge players for this team. All stars. You really don’t need to go any further than that. What are they going to do? They’re going to call up some ******, who’s going to remind everyone of Bye-Bye Balboni, and he’s going to get plenty of playing time, and it’s going to be really frustrating. The Melk-man will also get a lot of run, and I bet he does okay. Then the Boss will get frustrated with the lack of offense, and the rumors will start flying about some big-name-past-his-prime guy the Yanks are going after, dangling Melk-man and Jaret Wright or Carl Pavano, or Wang, or whoever is doing a lot of throwing gas on fires at that time. This is going to get weird.
I don’t know how p*ssed you can really get about tonight. The Yanks have made 6 errors so far this year against the Red Sox. And they’ve had two balls get caught in the wind and drop in for base hits, and both caused devastating runs. You guys know what I’m about to say. It won’t continue. The Yanks made 95 errors last year. That’s a little over a half an error a game. If you take their average and pro-rate it for 19 games, which is how many times the Yanks and Sox play each other, it means the Yanks will make about 11 errors against the Sox on the year. This means they’ve already made half their errors for the season series, and they’re due to make only about five in the final 15 games. Is this an exact science? Of course not. I’m playing with numbers of course, but things have a way of reverting to the mean. There are those who will search for reasons for the miscues. “They choked.” “They couldn’t handle the pressure.” Right. It just wasn’t their night. So check back at the end of the season series and see how close they are to 11 total errors. This stuff always seems to work itself. Another point. Mark Loretta is a .280 hitter. Not a .600 hitter. He’ll cool off significantly against us. So will Lowell. Wakefield was unbelievable tonight. That’s another thing. Watch his career from the very start, and he’s right around .500. When he goes on a little streak against us, he’s due to get bombed. It always works out. Tonight was his night. He threw 13 pitches in the sixth inning, and all of them were strikes. A knuckleballer! And he had 9 strikeouts. His career high is 12, against the Yanks last year. Do you know what Mr. .500 did his next time out against the Yanks after that game? Got absolutely cradantimplated at Fenway to lose the AL East.
So we lost two games in which Sheffield didn’t play, and another one in which Sheffield and the Ferocious Lion were both out of the lineup. See how well the Red Sox would do if you were to pull out Manny and Ortiz.
The Sox deserved this one. If we had pulled out a win with the way Wakefield pitched and we didn’t hit, it would have been a grand theft. I wrote a TM to Acc in the seventh with one out and men at second and third. “We can only wiggle out of so many jams.” From the fifth on, we kept squirming out of jam after jam. Some sparkling fielding saved some sure runs. How fitting, then, that the Sox score on such a ridiculous couple of plays. Bernie watching a ball get blown back onto the field from the seats, dropping right inside fair territory. And then Jeter makes a tremendous play, Cairo makes a tremendous play, and can’t hang on to the ball. Two runs. Game over. Bad break. We’ll get them back. That’s baseball. Unfortunately, I would be a lot more comfortable with the Ferocious Lion and Sheffield in the lineup. They’re going to miss a lot of time.
Torre went to the well too often with Proctor. Two innings last night, and he trots him out for a second inning tonight. Base hit, base hit, base hit. Great… Glad to see Damon and A-Rod kept up their momentum from last night. A collective 1 for 8 with a thousand runners stranded.
I was screaming (at nobody) Wednesday night when Torre brought in Mo in the 9th. The Mrs. couldn’t understand why I was yelling with the Yanks about to lock up a win. But I was incensed at Joe Torre. I hate when Torre does what he did. Brings in Mo for meaningless garbage time to “get him work”. For what? Why was that necessary? I was yelling because there are a lot of new faces on the Sox this year, and Torre was giving everybody a good look and a couple of free practice swings against him. You know who one of those guys was on Wednesday? Youkilis. Last seen hitting a huge 2-out, RBI base hit to seal the game in the ninth tonight. Thanks, Joe.
Does Papelbon remind anyone else of “Private Pyle” from Full Metal Jacket?
Not sure if they’ll play tomorrow. It’s supposed to rain all day. If they do, it will be an important game. They got some bad news about the Lion when they got back to the clubhouse tonight. If they come out lifeless, it might fester. A win tomorrow against Zito would go a long way.
For now, we deal with losing this Red Sox series. Once by getting crushed, once by losing a squeaker, and in the end getting thrown out of first place by a Red Sox team that was simply doing what they always do to us…..in May.
Whoops. Not sure what happened there, Curt. You usually don’t make that kind of mental mistake. Usually you’ve got the plan all worked out and your execution is flawless. Usually there are no mistakes. But tonight, you blew it. I am talking of course, about your failure to pack one of your bloody socks before you hit the road to come to the stadium. Come on, Curt. You know better. There you were, all alone out on the mound getting your whiny balls knocked off, with no ready-made, crybaby, b*tch excuse to fall back on. Hopefully tomorrow the cameras will catch you limping around in the dugout and you can pretend that you tried to “gut it out” and pitch through whatever injury you can come up with tonight. People will believe it, Curt. Call Baseball Tonight and tell them about it. Gammons will eat it up.
You know, it’s always when you least expect it. There was A-Rod, looking helpless striking out on 3 straight pitches early. I happened to be listening on the radio at the time, and Sterling and Waldman were positively gushing about Schilling. What a master he is… how unhittable he is… what a pro he is…. I had really had enough. Don’t get me wrong. I was quickly tiring of A-Rod’s inability to deliver in the clutch as well. But you could just hear the Bostonians pointing and laughing all the way from New England. Calling him “A-Fraud” and thinking it’s clever, not realizing that it doesn’t make sense to anybody else because they’re the only ones who think that “Rod” and “Fraud” rhyme. They were giddy with chuckles that A-Rod and Damon were 0 for-the-year against them, Randall got beat, Beckett and Schilling were cruising, and everything was falling their way in every aspect of the game. Sure, Giambi had made some noise, but I think they knew that they had that one coming. A juicehead giveth the lead, and a juicehead taketh away. But this was no problem. Their bestest, most favorite, self-proclaimed and self-manufactured hero, Curt, had gotten it together and had just struck out Giambi and Jeter. Two outs and nobody on for A-Rod? No problem. Kaboom. Whoops.
Curt didn’t see that meltdown coming. The Ferocious Lion and Jorge Posada then officially cooked his goose. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. That’s right Curt, hang your head as you walk off the field. Next time don’t forget your sock.
Sean, your boy came through again. The YES network star of the game, with honorable mention to Giambino, A-Rod and Jorge. And why is it that when I see Jeter going back on a ball, turned completely around and fighting the wind, I know he’s going to make the catch, no matter how tough it is? You just know with him. I may have to eat my words on Proctor. The BPS has been one of his toughest critics. Is he actually getting it together? Tomorrow night, boys. My early season all-star pick, Shawn “I was hanging out with Mike Rumble at Dorian’s last week” Chacon. Now we’ll really see what he’s made of. Wakefield, Mr. 50-50, pitched well against us last game, so he’s due for a bad one. Let’s hope he stays true to form.
JD, you made two excellent points that I meant to touch on yesterday but failed to. First, of course Beckett is going to be lauded for his “dominating” performance, etc. But the truth is that the guy pitched a very shaky first, coughing up two runs, and then had to pitch only two more innings before getting a huge cushion. So he pitched well, but let’s not all lose our minds. The second is that you can see why all of his old teammates from the Marlins absolutely threw him under the bus when he left. What a complete jack*ss punk that guy is. Pumping his fist and screaming coming off the mound with a huge lead? And it’s not like he was even getting out of a jam. What a first-class loser. Keep screaming, Josh. Others may forget that your “dominating” MVP performance in the ’03 series was nothing but a 1-1 record. BPS won’t. Keep screaming, dude. Because we’ll get to you too. I promise.
Psycho Dave. The streak lives. Amazing performance. Correctly predicting Giambino’s bomb and the Yankee victory while you were in attendance. Remind me to invite you to the playoffs this year.
Phenomenal comment output today. Reid, there are few things in this world better than the last day of school. Enjoy. Yuhsing, believe it. This Yankee team is very good. And they will do a lot of winning. Rocco, you know what they always say: If you have to be in a 100 degree war-zone at 3am, you might as well be watching the Yanks finish off a big win. Keep up the good work, dude. Ras, I can always count on you to have some ideas for a deal. A big time starter couldn’t hurt, I guess. Scharbonneau, I’m not sure what Clemens has left, but it does seem like every time you think he’s washed up, he comes out and wins another Cy Young. But I don’t think the guy really wants to leave Texas. H8n, I tend to agree with you and Nick. Let’s wait for the weather to get a little warmer and see if Randall can get his mojo back. At the very least there are a lot of bad teams he can beat up on. But I also agree he doesn’t seem to be the same angry dude on the mound. Where’s the fire? Triple J, I think the Melk-man is going to be a better player than Bubba. I’m actually still pretty miffed at Bubba, a guy who’s supposed to give you defense but crushed my life in game five last year crashing into Sheffield and knocking the ball out of his glove. Happymeds/Leftie, if Bernabe’s p*ssed, I’m p*ssed. That’s how it is. They were lucky I didn’t slam my bowl of ice cream up in the loft as a show of solidarity. Only problem there is that if I had done that the Mrs. would have made Bernie look like the San Diego chicken.
Umair, don’t forget about A-Rod’s last clutch, game winning hit. Also against the Red Sox, and also against Schilling, during his little closer phase last year. Remember? Don’t write A-Rod off yet, boys. He will make some serious noise in the clutch before he’s through. How do I know? Our constant companion, the law of averages, assures me….
Could you have written a better Boston script for the first two games of the ’06 rivalry? Let’s go through the checklist. Two wins by a combined score of 21-6. A victory to vault them back into first place. Ortiz and Manny both have two huge games, each with a home run. The evil traitor Johnny Damon is hitless, as is the vile A-Rod. Last year’s undefeated golden boy, Aaron Small, was handed his first loss of his regular season Yankee career last week, and was thoroughly smacked around again tonight. Jonathan Papelbon, the new closer extraordinaire, saved the first game in lights-out fashion; and the marquee off-season acquisition, Josh Beckett, overcame a shaky first inning to come back with a sufficiently dominating performance on the road tonight. On top of that, last year’s nemesis, Randy Johnson, was finally solved after going 5-0 against Boston last year. And that’s not all. Some of the question marks, Loretta, Gonzalez, Lowell, and Pena, have torn the cover off the ball against these Yanks. Can it get any better? Is there any hill left to climb? Can the future be any rosier for the Boston Red Sox? There’s only one small problem……it’s May. How many times have we seen this? The Red Sox are world beaters….in May. The Red Sox own first place…in May. The Red Sox kick the Yanks around like rag-dolls……in May. It’s always the same. In May.
The LT sent me a TM in the 1st, excited that the Yanks were doing just you’d want them to do. Scoring runs and taking pitches. Just wasn’t their night, though. Brooklyn’s Own Mike Dantone called me from the stadium around the sixth. When I saw his number pop up, I dispensed with any sort of polite greeting. “This is a f***ing disaster.” He agreed. “When was the last time,” he said, “that you saw three errors and two wild pitches in one game?” I didn’t know. “I don’t know.” “I can’t remember ever, bro.” He had a point. The Yanks don’t make a lot of errors. After the third game of the season, a game in which the Yanks lost their second in a row to the A’s by kicking the ball all over the field, the BPS stated the following: “The funny thing is that the Yankees don’t play bad defense. Check back in a month and the Yankees will have among the league’s fewest errors.” So how did I do? Before tonight, second fewest in the league. After tonight, fifth fewest. My point was that it wouldn’t continue, because the Yanks are a sound defensive team. And guess what? I’ll reiterate my point. The Yanks don’t play bad D. They did tonight, and it cost them, but it won’t continue. And tonight was a lost cause anyway. Did everybody on the Red Sox get 3 hits tonight, or was it my imagination? My sister Amy throwing to my little cousin Cara could have gotten more people out. So we lost. See you tomorrow.
Paul O’Neill made a great point on the air tonight. Michael Kay asked him at one point, “Okay Paul – age old question – which is worse; losing this game or losing a game 1-0?” Paul’s reply was interesting: “You’re a lot less tired after a game like this. In a 1-0 game, you’re drained. You’re more tense; you’re constantly thinking of how you can pull out a win, you’re extra aware. In a game like this you start thinking by about the fourth inning about how you can be better prepared tomorrow night. It’s not nearly as draining.” Pretty good analysis from Paulie, who can be good and can be lame in the booth. Al Leiter, who was off tonight, has actually done a really nice job in the booth so far. His analysis is usually very insightful.
I was flipping back and forth to the Mets/Phillies as the game got out of hand in the Bronx. Great game in Philly. Don’t miss Flash Gordon all that much, I have to say. Funny how Pedro, Sanchez, and Heilman don’t look so lights-out when they’re not playing the Marlins. Great moment on the broadcast from Gary Cohen, who’s one of the best. As Heilman was going 3-0 to Chase Utley with men already on 1st and 3rd in the bottom of the 9th, the camera panned to Utley at the plate, to which Cohen remarked, “Frying pan.” The camera then panned over to Bobby Abreu in the on-deck circle and Cohen followed with, “Fire.” Two minutes later the game was over.
Don’t know if anyone has been watching the new Baseball Tonight telecasts this year. The new twist is that they have live, on-air interviews by phone with players and coaches. I might be the only one, but I think that is so incredibly boring. Just another opportunity for these guys to give you the “Bull Durham” sanitized double-talk. A total waste of time. A player isn’t going to tell it like it is. There’s nothing in it for them. There’s no upside and all downside. Give it a rest. I’d rather see somebody tell me their honest opinion, even if it’s a pompous jack*ss like Harold Brantley.
I was tempted to title this post “Melk-dud,” but I decided to give the kid a break. If he turns out to be good I didn’t want to regret it the way the guy that wrote the “Clueless Joe” headline ten years ago must regret that right about now.
Phenomenal comments, boys (and girl). Raoul, good stuff. You got the right idea. Having fun with us… Rocco, the game s*cked but I hope at least the weather in Iraq was good… What was it, about 127 degrees? Welcome aboard, guavapaste. Let me clarify my position, because I agree wholeheartedly with you. It certainly doesn’t excuse them if they’re loading up outside of the US, it just makes them more difficult to bust. BALCO was right in the wheelhouse of all of our major law-enforcement agencies. Who knows where Tejada, Pudge, Papi, and company loaded up? Mannino – it’s about time you posted. I thought maybe the “enter” key had fallen off your computer. Lucky, still no chin music. Happymeds Geoff, excellent use of Bam-Bam Meulens. I’ll throw Kevin Maas and Ricky Ledee into that mix, too. Grossman, you need to make the deal. I remember distinctly a guy I work with a few years ago, a big Met fan, telling me “the only guy I might be willing to give up Dotel for is A-Rod.” I remember a different guy telling me, “I wouldn’t deal Alex Escobar for Randy Johnson. Maybe Schilling and Johnson….” Get the picture? Make the deal. Reid, my position is that I have no idea how good Pujols is, because he plays in the National League. As far as I know he’s 0-7 in combined All-Star and World Series games. Not his fault, I guess, but it doesn’t change where I’m at. Vino, fantastic comment. I need more from you, dude.
So what will it be, Yanks? Will the magic carpet ride continue for Boston, or does the other shoe drop and smack them back to reality? Seanny! Your boy’s up!
The Mrs. and I stopped by the Big Boy’s house on Saturday afternoon before heading over to Brian Rumble’s barbecue. We finally got our stash of section 24 tickets for the rest of the season from Cousin Bobby, and we wanted to divvy them up before this week’s games. I didn’t give myself any tickets for this week’s Boston games, but I gave myself some good ones later in the year. Then we headed over to the Brian Rumble barbecue. Since his birthday was last week, I brought him a present. It’s not like I got him anything, but for some reason I grabbed the XL version of a Yankee pullover last week before the game when we geared up at the clubhouse store at the seaport. I usually go in between a Large and an XL, but this thing made me look like a small child. Mike Sherry warned me. “Dude, what are you doing,” he asked as I grabbed the thing. “What? They don’t have any Large. It’s not that big.” “It’s not that big if you’re Acc, dude, but it’s going to make you look like a cross between Herve Villechez and Spud.” He was right. And voila. Instant birthday present for Brian Rumble, who is in-between an XL and a XXL (and when I say in-between, I mean he is 9/10 of the way to XXL).
The first thing to greet us was the onslaught of meat. Wave after wave, it just kept coming. Brian Rumble was working the grill like Picasso worked the canvas. But we all knew it was only a matter of time before we got into something competitive. So we pulled out the wedges and commenced the chipping contest. As we chipped I was getting on Petey Goods for not having posting a comment since the Carter administration. At that point Mikey Ward (big Met fan) comes over and wants to know my opinion of the SI article calling Jeter the most overrated player in baseball, as voted by his peers. I was surprised, honestly. It was the first I was hearing of it, although I know you guys have referenced it in the BPS comments. I’m not sure what the logic is, but I think it’s the same old story. He doesn’t put up big single-season numbers in any of the sexy categories, so anyone, and that includes fans and players, who doesn’t watch him day in, day out won’t appreciate what he gives a team. Yankee fans know. Red Sox fans know. Most of the AL East knows. I guess it’s an easy mistake to make. You can’t watch every game, and sometimes all you have are the numbers. And reputation, for that matter. Remember when Raffy Palmeiro was given a gold glove at first a few years back, in spite of the fact that he only played thirty-something games at first all year? It wasn’t the sportswriters voting for that, it was the players and coaches, or maybe it’s just the coaches. Whatever. All insiders. But it gives you an idea of how closely these guys are paying attention. So Jeter looks overrated. When he gets his 3000th hit and scores his 2000th run, at last the baseball people will have some numbers that they can feel comfortable about. Until then, I’ll go back to what Peter Gammons says. You’re starting a baseball team today and you need to take one guy, you take Derek Jeter. Period.
Last thing on the Star-Telegram. There was a follow-up article by Gil LeBreton titled, “Suddenly, It’s Wham Yankees.” While acknowledging the Yankees hammers, he poked at Giambi and Sheffield, which was curious, because he didn’t even play), saying that “while the world rains scorn on Barry Bonds, to Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi the baseball world has done nothing.” Whoa, dude. Giambi got crushed last year, booed everywhere, including the stadium, and continues to get booed in unfriendly territory, i.e. Fenway and Shea. Sheffield has been less prominent, most likely because he didn’t make a show of “apologizing,” he wasn’t as detailed (read: honest) in his testimony – preferring to mimic Bond’s ridiculous denials and insistence that he didn’t realize what he was taking, and, probably most importantly, he’s not as high-profile as those guys. But with all of that said, here’s the reality. Bonds got the biggest, went the farthest, and reached the highest. Of course he’s going to be the face of the issue. He already broke the single-season record, and now he’s going after the all-time record. He has to be the guy you take down. If you don’t go after him, who are you going to go after? You might as well legalize juice and say, go nuts, guys. You have to be willing to get the top guy. So Bonds is going to face the pain, and deservedly so. And if Giambi gets near any of the big-time records, he’ll face pain too. But not as bad. Because there’s one more reason Bonds gets filleted. He is a first-class d**chebag. The ultimate unfriendly, surly, eff-you because it’s all about me, me, me type of mega-star. Giambi’s actually a nice guy, by everyone’s account. Runs a hitting camp for kids in the off-season named “Hitman” after Donnie Baseball. And while we’re at it, Ortiz is by all accounts a super-nice, happy, lovable, guy. But that’s only one of the reasons he’s operated under the radar. The BPS has always been tougher on Ortiz than Giambi, basically for two reasons. The first, of course, is because he plays for the Red Sox. The second reason, though, is that he is the guy getting away with murder. He is part of the Latin contingent who have been able to load up outside the long arm of the US law. We’ve been through the numbers, we’ve been through his enlarging head and body, we’ve been through the allegations coming out of the Twins clubhouse, etc. It is quite clear to anyone who has been around juice that Ortiz is on HGH. But he has achieved mega-hero status on false pretenses. While Giambi has had to face the music, Ortiz got what Giambi wanted. Fame, fortune, and legend, stolen from a vial without getting busted. And he’s gotten away with it. For now.
Grossman, call your boy Omar Minaya and tell him to deal Milledge for Zito. That deal wins the pennant for the Mets tomorrow.
Raoul, I have to assume you’re lobbing me a softball, because if not it’s too easy. Ortiz and Bonds might be the only too guys in baseball whose beach-ball heads can be both over the inside and outside corners of the plate at the same time. And then some. Loved the overflow of comments today, boys. Great stuff, as usual. Bflippin, welcome aboard. Good comment, dude. Come on back. Ras, love the passion, as always. I agree with you and H8n. Need to get aggressive. Happymeds Geoff; sorry to drudge up bad memories, dude. But I was proving a point. Reid, studying is for *******. Just kidding. Grossman and JJ were HUGE studiers in B-school. Good luck on the finals. Bring us back a win tomorrow, JD.
I’m feeling good about this series, boys. I’m feeling good about this season, actually, regardless of the outcome of this series. But I would love to take down Schilling and Beckett. Wakefield has grown on me, I guess. God bless him. Long time, he’s been doing what he’s been doing. But I want to blow his doors off regardless. With style…
To answer your question, Umair, I’m in the middle. Left to right: Mike Rumble, Acc, me, Mike Sherry, Tony Sherry. When somebody asked Tony Sherry why he seemed to be craning his neck in the picture, he replied: “Because if I didn’t, my chins would have blocked everybody else out.”
I was a lazy kid. Some would say I am just as lazy as an adult. But as a kid, no doubt. Getting me to do my homework was like pulling teeth. And I can tell you that pretty much the only thing that would provoke me to sit down and tap this thing out every night is my unhealthy obsession with the New York Yankees. And I need to be careful, because if I get anything wrong or misstate anything, I’m going to look like a pretty big donkey to whoever reads this thing.
With that as backdrop, I find it interesting, then, that such a careless, poorly-researched article was written by Pete Alfano of the Dallas Star-Telegram. Before this series with Texas began, Michael Kay highlighted the fact that the headline of the Star-Telegram called out, “Sham Yankees.” As the Yankees then proceeded to complete a sweep, I perused the on-line edition of the paper; curious to both read the article and see if anyone had written any sort of “okay, maybe we jumped the gun” article as a follow-up. Now, if you want to compare the Yankees of 2006 to the teams of 1996-2000, there are a number of ways to go about it. But I was surprised at how lame Alfano’s conclusions were. His “five reasons why this team doesn’t compare to the 96-00 teams” are as follows:
1) The starting staff isn’t as dominating.
2) The Yankees “no longer have the lights-out bullpen that characterized WS champions.”
3) They don’t play small ball. It’s home run or nothing.
4) They’re too old.
5) They will never recover from losing to the Red Sox in ‘04
Wow. Hey Pete, I have a few questions. Have you seen any games this year? Did you look up any of the stats? Did you do any research whatsoever? Or did you just write an inflammatory article about the biggest team in the biggest market hoping it would generate you personally tons of buzz, and then get on your knees and pray that the Rangers made a good show of it so wouldn’t look like a fool? You know Pete – if you had written this exact same article last year at exactly this time, lots of people would have agreed with you. As a matter of fact, many people wrote pretty much the exact same article and came up with the same silly analysis that you did. The thing is Pete; those people found out that they had really jumped to a hasty conclusion last year when the Yankees finished the year at 84-49 from this point (29 games) on. Their conclusions were shoddy, but at least they had an excuse. They looked at a poor record and didn’t look any further. This year’s Yanks have a pretty good record. Funny then, that you would write this now. But you did, so I’ll take a minute to refute your points.
1) Revisionist history is a dangerous thing. The Yanks starting staff in ’96 was David Cone, Andy Pettitte, a fading Jimmy Key, Kenny Rogers, and a question mark. Not so dominating or intimidating, is it? And while we’re at it, the Yankees of ’06 have allowed the second-fewest runs in all of baseball to date. But I guess you must be right, Pete. The Pitching must be a problem.
2) See #1. And understand that some of the Yankees bullpen stalwarts in those years were Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, David Weathers, Jeff Nelson and Ramiro Mendoza. All of them were well-known to Yankee fans for plenty of nail-biting moments. And Wetteland always gave you a heart-attack, and was so bad in ’95 that Buck Showalter completely lost confidence in him in the playoffs, going instead to BlackJack McDowell and others in a pinch. Bullpens are bullpens, Pete.
3) I hope you saw the difference in the ’06 Yanks and the ’05 Yanks this weekend, Pete. Johnny Delicious and company very-much play small ball. Or did you miss it when Johnny D stole second, went to third on the throw, and then came home to give the Yanks the lead on Saturday? Let me underscore it with this, Pete. The ’06 Yanks have the second-most runs in the league (behind Cleveland, with a full 3 fewer games played). They currently rank 13th in home runs. Hmm. They don’t seem to be scoring with the long-ball, do they, Pete?
4) Too old. Yawn. They said the same thing about the 2000 team all year long. Before they won the World Series.
5) This one is probably the silliest. The Yankees were so freaked out by 2004 that the next year they, well, beat out the Red Sox for the AL East title…..again. And do you know why? The same reason they have finished ahead of them in the AL East every year since 1997. Because they’re better. And they were better in 2004. They didn’t win out that year, because once you take the second place (wild card) teams in the playoffs, anybody who strings together four good games at the right time can move on. But the only correct judge of a better team is who can outlast the other team over the course of a 162-game season. And that’s what the Yankees do. And that’s what they’ll do again. Because they’re better.
Dude, people in New York have been trying to pinpoint reasons why these Yanks are in a World Series drought for 5 years. Here’s the reason. It’s baseball. Things happen. There were a thousand quirky, lucky, random things that happened in ’96-‘00 that fell the right way for the Yanks. O’Neill moving over in the middle of Polonia’s at-bat in game 6 in ’96, Wohlers throwing a slider to Leyritz, Timo Perez not running hard, etc. I could go on and on. There were a thousand things that cooked the Yanks over the last few years that could have gone the other way. Womack hitting a two-strike Rivera pitch in ’01, Tony Clark’s ball bouncing over the wall instead of up against it in ’04, aliens invading Torre’s brain in ’03 and forcing him to put Weaver into an extra-inning game in game 4 of the ’03 series. Stuff happens, guys. It’s hard to win the World Series. You can try and pinpoint all of the reasons you want. It doesn’t mean a thing. I’ll say it again. If you spend more money than anyone else for ten years, you’re not going to win the World Series ten times. Anyone who thinks you are doesn’t know anything about baseball. If you say you’re going to make the playoffs 10 times, win 9 division titles, 6 pennants and 4 championships, I would say that’s probably a bit aggressive. But that’s what the Yanks have done.
So that’s what we can expect this year. A fun season watching a team win many more games than they lose, because they are better than everybody (or almost everybody) else. I can’t wait. Bring on Boston.
Don’t kid yourself. It all comes down to one guy. There are those who say that Mo Rivera is the all-star of this team the last ten years, and you would be a fool to argue. He is probably the best ever, and through his career he has demonstrated a dominating continuum by developing two unhittable pitches. Early in his career it was the rising fastball. Later in his career it was the bat-splitting cutter. He has been a nuclear force. But guess what. Mo Rivera is not who I’m talking about. Ladies and gentlemen, once again it comes down to the captain.
I’m watching the game tonight, and roundabout the seventh inning I’m having a leisurely chat with the Big Boy on the cell as I’m flipping back and forth between Mussina making children out of the Texas hitters and the Mets starting what turned out to be a huge comeback. Big Joe beeps in. Before he even says anything I can hear him talking to his buddy Charlie Mule (pronounced Mulay), who was watching the Mets game with him. Two old-school Met fans from the Tom Terrific days. “That’s a triple Charles – he’s gotta go for three!” I was obviously a few seconds ahead of him because I was looking at Jose Reyes standing on third base. “Son-in-law,” he says to me, “What are they trying to give Mussina a heart attack? He doesn’t know what to do with all of those runs they’re giving him.” “Big Joe, I know he’s not complaining, I’ll tell you that.” Just then Hank Blalock strikes out looking absolutely foolish on a 69 mph change. That’s one of the things that’s made Moose that much more dangerous these days. He came in to camp with that new change, and he’s shown real tight command of it this year. Tonight was no exception. He was positively masterful tonight. “Are you kidding me,” Big Joe is screaming at his TV through the phone as the Mets failed to score Reyes from third. “Don’t worry, Big Joe,” I told him. “It’s a New York night. Wins all around.” “Awwwright,” he says. That’s Big Joe’s standard way of getting off the phone. He gives you the awwwwright. You might as well not wait for “goodbye,” because it’s not coming. I flip back over to the Yanks. Eighth inning. Aaron Small. A few hits here, a few hits there, and I’m calling Acc with the score 8-3 with one out and men on first and third. He wasn’t answering his phone. That means one of two things. A) he was too freaked out by what was happening (highly likely, as the Big Boy doesn’t want to chat when things get weird – thinks it’s bad luck), or B) he had put this one in the bank and went to bed (just as likely). I left a message. “Moose deserves better than for me to be sitting here uncomfortable in the eighth inning of this game.” Then I continued to watch the madness unfold. Farnsworth pulled out a humongous strike-out of Mark Texeira by way of a 3-2 slider with the bases juiced. Huge. Two outs and I felt a little better. Then he walks the next batter and forces in a run. Tried to be too fine. I completely agree with what he said after the game: “I need to be more aggressive there.” He does indeed. He had a five-run lead at the time. He didn’t want to challenge Nevin with a fastball and risk serving up a salami that would have made the score 8-7, so he tried to nibble and Nevin was patient. So out comes Torre to yank him. That I disagree with. I know Torre was terrified of losing this game. I was too. But I think Farnsworth realized right away that he should have been more aggressive with Nevin, and I have to believe he would have started heaving more gas. I also think it’s important to let him succeed now in some hairy spots, as you will undoubtedly need him to do just that later in the year. Lastly, I think that the Texiera 3-2 strikeout pitch alone should have bought him one more chance to get the last out. So in strides Mo. Phone rings again. Big Joe. “The Mets just left the fr*ggin bases loaded,” he says. “Big Joe, I’ve got major problems here.” Apparently his YES network was freezing (he’s got satellite), so he had no idea what was going on. “What are you talking about,” he says. “They were winning 8-1. What’s the score now?” I said, “8-4 with bases juiced and Mo coming in.” “Rivera?” he yells. “They’ve got to bring Rivera in that game?” I hear his voice drift away from the phone. “Charl – the Yankees are at 8-4 and Texas has the bases loaded. They brought in Rivera.” Something tells me Charlie Mule wasn’t exactly bummed to hear the Yanks were in a pickle. Just then Blalock hits that ridiculous little bleeder through the hole. “You have to be kidding me,” I’m now yelling into the Brooklyn night. “What happened,” Big Joe says. “Base hit. Two runs in. It’s now 8-6.” I can hear him, “Charl, 8-6…..” Then Mench, Mr. Tight Shoes, hits another bouncer through third and short, slightly less pathetic than Blalock’s. “$h*t.” Big Joe was still on. “What happened?” “Another base hit. Now it’s 8-7.” Again I can hear him, “Charl!” “Big Joe – I gotta go. I need to start pacing the floor.” Click. Then Mo hits the seven-hole hitter, Wikerson. I hate it when that happens. Now I was pacing frantically, but I was holding on to a single thought. I was sure tht my old buddy, the Yankees tenth man, if you will, was still with me, and he was undoubtedly due to make a move. I am talking, of course, about the law of averages. The Rangers bat .282 as a team. ***** good. But they don’t bat .777 in one inning. No one does. No one. So when Rod Barajas came up, I knew at some point the balls had to start finding gloves. That’s just how baseball works. If he had gotten a hit right there, the Texas batting average in that inning, with ten at-bats, would have been .800. The odds of getting eight hits in ten at-bats during the course of one inning is astronomical; I don’t care if you’re playing the Padres (Reid, do you like how I threw some NL West bashing in there?). So something had to give. And it did. Groundout. Personally, I know that it was because I pulled out my NY Yankees street sign and held it guitar-style while Mo was pitching, as I always do when I need a big out from him. I figured that to be the game right there. If they didn’t get it there they weren’t going to get it. But still, I didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances. I ran downstairs to get my lucky hat. Was I crazy? How had I not thought of this before? I checked mlb.com to see what the Rangers’ team batting average was, to compare it to that one inning (that’s how you really know I have a problem). Then I ran back up. One out. Big. If ever Mo blows it, it’s always after the leadoff man gets on. Then Matthews gets a base hit with the thumpers coming up. Quickly I did some calculations in my head. Eight hits in twelve at-bats. Good thing they were all singles. And that’s when it went down.
You’ll note that the title of this post references that this is the “third installment.” I’ve only posted one so far as a title, because I thought it would be lame to use it twice. But I’ve decided I’m going to do it when it’s appropriate, and note that this is the third time this season that it was appropriate. Derek Jeter saved the day again tonight. This game featured so many twists and turns that his play won’t get the run it deserves, especially since it will be shared by the Mets, etc. But what he did with Michael Young’s grounder, adjusting to the hop and making the play at second, was right up there in the “Derek Jeter Saves the Day” catalogue. And that’s no small catalogue, I don’t mind telling you. Who knows what happens if that thing gets through, or if Jeter can’t get the out. Things get sticky again. But they didn’t get sticky. Instead, that play spelled the end. That was the play that announced to everybody – we’re going to win this game because we’re the Yankees, and Derek Jeter is our captain. Period. It always seems to be Derek Jeter. The Captain. Again.
I was still at work when the game started tonight. I flipped on the gamecast about 7:35 or so, and the score was tied at one. I checked the “scoring plays” to see who did the damage. hated to see the D-Rays had put one up in the first, as I was kind of hoping the unit would be at his lankiest, scariest, ugliest, unhittable best, dealing pure money all night. Then I checked the Yankee run. The Ferocious Lion…. Nice… I immediately dialed Tony Sherry. “He did it,” he answers. I needed info. “Was it a nice shot?” “I have no idea,” he says, “I’m listening to it on the radio. Did you get my message?” “No dude. I’m still at work. The Lion is getting it together, bro.” He didn’t need to be told. “Better believe it. He’s getting cranberry toast.” Quintessential Tony Sherry.
The R train was a slug tonight, so when I got home I checked the gamecast quick, as the Mrs. was putting dinner on the table. A variation on her pecan-crusted chicken, with some sort of cous-cous. I think it was cous-cous. I’m really not sure that’s how it’s spelled, actually, but it was good either way. But the Yanks were down 5-4. Another quick check on the “scoring plays” showed a two-out dong by former Met Ty Wigginton coughed up what had been a 4-3 lead. The good news was that the Yankees had chased the starter, and the Rays bullpen is not what it used to be. Which is a pretty hilarious statement, really. Just not for the D-Rays. So I actually felt pretty good about things. Top 7 was coming up as I headed back into the dining room, cautiously optimistic.
Yet another quick check on the gamecast after dinner revealed that we had climbed back in front, on the strength of a walk and a hit batter. Man, those D-Rays are pure awful. The Mrs. was “DVR-ing” all of her shows in the living room, so I headed up into the loft; Yankee Central. I didn’t even give any thought to throwing on some good luck gear. I felt confident that I didn’t need it tonight. So I flipped on the plasma just in time to see Dan Miceli boot Cano’s dribbler. Tough night for Miceli. The next thing he did was whip the ball over Toby Hall’s head while he was trying to intentionally walk Sheffield. The only other guy I’ve ever seen do that was Clemens (when he was pitching for us), and the winning run scored. This time Posada was on third, and I don’t care if Miceli chucked the ball into the fifteenth row, Chuckie Knobs-style, Posada wasn’t scoring. But he and Larry Bowa had a point. The umpiring crew missed a pretty obvious balk call. Another run off the board. A big run, too. But for once, it was moot. Johnny Delicious stepped up and crandiferated Miceli’s second pitch into the right field concession stand. I shot a quick TM to the big boy and the Lt. Same TM. “Johnny Delicious.” Big Boy responded with his “happy message,” which read “la la my friend, la la.” As things were winding down, the cell phone rang. Big Joe. “I’m watching the Mets win another one,” he says, “and I flip over to the Yankees and I see Johnny Damon hit a grand slam. Unbelievable.” He was so psyched the Mets won again. He’ll root for the Yankees, but he’s an old-school Mets fan. Was at the Buckner game with Cousin Kenny, in fact. My mother-in-law roots for the Yankees too, but it’s strictly utilitarian. She’s picked up on the fact that I’m a completely different dude when the Yankees lose, so she’s just looking out for her daughter. It’s cool. Either way, she’s on board.
So the Unit gets another cheap-ish win. He’s still either one or two in run support, as far as I know. The Moose, as Sean will tell you, enjoys no such lofty position. Unfortunately, A-Rod didn’t manage to follow up his big hit last night with anything other than a fortuitously placed elbow tonight. The Ferocious Lion is starting to make some noise. Three hits tonight with a bomb. It was only a matter of time. Sheffield came roaring back. He was all over the papers saying he was ready, with Torre just as all over the papers saying it wasn’t going to happen. I guess he couldn’t resist. But let’s not overlook the man – Mr. Bernabe Williams – ROCKING the eight-hole with five hits in the last two games. Too bad MLB doesn’t give out “player of the last two games” awards. Speaking of which, Giambi got player of the month for April. I guess that would unofficially make him the front-runner for MVP. I know, I know. It’s early. But presumably he’s got a full year’s supply of “boom-boom juice.”
But Johnny Delicious was the story tonight. Interesting story in the Post today. A-Rod was talking about his slump (“I don’t believe in that word,” says he), and he mentioned that Sheff and Johnny have been talking to him about it. We heard last year that A-Rod and Sheff were buds. Made sense, because both tended to be kind of outcast, loner-types who seemed uncomfortable chilling with the rest of the team. But it was interesting that Damon is reaching out to him. Because Damon pals around with everybody; Giambi, Jeter, Bernie, Torre, Mazzilli, Donnie Baseball; everybody. And if he can bring A-Rod a little love from his teammates, it may be the most important thing he does this year. Whatever makes A-Rod comfortable will undoubtedly be good for the Yankees.
Apologies for the technical difficulties over the last few days. Many of you creatures of habit may have missed the last post because I posted it late-morning. If so, feel free to backtrack one. And being that things were all out-of-sorts, I’ll forgive the fact that I only had four comments today.
Bad news for the Yanks tomorrow. A Friday game. The Yanks are 0-4 on Fridays this year, with some really weird calls going against them. So be prepared. In any case, Seanny! Your boy’s up again!