It’s times like these the Mrs. wishes she married a guy who was really into horticulture. She was out with her teaching crew for their monthly dinner, having a great time. I got back in from Atlanta in time to see the bottom of the second inning. Now, this time of year is what it is. You’re really not looking at too many highs or lows. You just kind of glide along, keeping a keen eye on the home-field stuff. So I actually dozed off for a couple of the middle innings, and flipped over to Inside the NFL on HBO for a while. I flip back in the sixth, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. After all of the euphoria of yesterday and the “magical destruction” lineup, the mighty, magnanimous Yankees were getting no-hit by Daniel Cabrera. [As I tap the keys, here, I’m following the Royals/Twins game on the gamecast, and I just toggled over and saw that there were three outs and the Royals pulled off a 1-0 win against the Twins, giving the Yanks a huge boost in the home-field stuff. But no… Apparently I missed that Joe Mauer hit a game-tying bomb with two outs in the ninth. Whoops. Going to the top of the tenth….the Royals are toast…]. So right there I started getting agitated. A no-hitter? This was humiliating. This couldn’t be happening. This was inconceivable. I got up and started pacing. As I watched the game unfold, I got more agitated. By the time the Mrs. walked through the door, big smile on her face as usual, I was up, pacing, and cursing like Joe Pesci. She knew something was up. I got angrier as the game went on. The Mrs. just sat quietly on the oversized chair, planning out her lessons for tomorrow with her fourth graders. She gets pretty good practice at home, because I pretty much act like a fourth grader most of the time. So anyway, ninth inning, one out. I’m pacing furiously in the living room; lucky hat on. And Robbie came through…. Thank you, whoever it is I need to thank. Because my life would have taken a long time to get back to normal if that had gone down differently. And the Mrs. thanks you too, because she was probably in the midst of planning to move to her mom’s for the next few days.
So I have two comments on this game. The first is about the almost-no-no. I have to tell you; one of the things I was so incensed about was that two of those three “errors” should have been base-hits. I’m sorry. Nothing against Daniel Cabrera. He pitched an absolute whale of a game. And it’s not his fault. He didn’t score them errors. But the official scorer, I think, got a bit swept up in what was going on. Brian Roberts played Abreu’s ball way into left field, and Abreu beat the throw. There is no way that was a “routine” play. And replays showed, despite what Ken Singleton thought, that the ball hit the lip of the grass and bounced up on him. Under ordinary circumstances that would have been an unbelievably tough error to hand somebody. But under ordinary circumstances that would not have been an error. If that had been in the first inning it would have been a base hit. [Just toggled over to the gamecast. Well, as expected, the Twins pulled out the win after the ninth-inning dramatics. They’re tied with the Tigers.] The same goes for the ball that Sheffield smashed at Mora. Here’s a newsflash. That’s what Sheffield does. He smashes the ball down that way. It would have been an extremely tough play for Mora. Error? No way… But that’s one man’s opinion, admittedly. So anyway, I would have had a tough time if he had walked off the field with a no-hitter. Not with three controversial errors bailing him out like that, two of them scoring a run.
My other comment has to do with Joe Torre. By now, most BPS readers know that I get frustrated with the “resting-starters” thing late in the year. But I understand that there’s a certain amount of merit to it. But my one other beef with Torre is that he doesn’t have enough respect for the fans. A funny statement, I know, but I’ve always had this beef with him. I remember a few years ago, when the Yankees had a pretty decent lead against the Mets on a Sunday-night ESPN game. I could be off, but I think the Yanks were leading by three or so in the ninth. But Mo Rivera had pitched a few days in a row, so Torre gave him the night off, and had some schmegma-head out there, who promptly gave up a game-winning bomb to Piazza in the bottom of the ninth with Mo sitting idle in the bullpen. I remember being so p*ssed at Torre for doing that to the Yankee fans. Don’t give one away to the Mets. Torre famously gives absolutely no credence to the idea that these games mean anything more; and is notorious for saying “it’s just another game” and all that. But not to the fans it’s not. How about respecting that. They pay your salary and the team’s salary. Rest Mo tomorrow night. And the next if you have to. A loss like that might not mean anything to Torre. For the fans it means everything. And Torre needs to respect that. Well we got another taste of that tonight. Here was Daniel Cabrera, pitching a no-no in the eighth inning with one out, and Miguel Cairo and Andy Cannizaro due up. So what does Torre do? He lets Cairo hit and pinch-hits Melky Cabrera for Canizzaro. Nothing against those guys, but I, and all Yankee fans, were staring right at the possibility that Daniel Cabrera was, in four outs, going to be jumping around like a conquering hero on our sacred field, having handed the Yankees just the sixth no-hitter in their 103-year history. Sorry, Joe, I know you’re obsessed with all of this resting stuff, but you need to get Jeter, A-Rod, and/or Bernie in that game. The nonchalant attitude kills me. Again, the fans show up, go nuts, and spend tons of money so this team can be where it is. Have some respect for them. Just last night when I was at the Stadium, Bob Sheppard read the announcement that thanked the fans for making the Yankees just the second team in the history of baseball to draw four million fans two years in a row. Have some respect for those fans, Joe. I get that you are trying to win a championship. That’s the number one priority for everybody. But there was absolutely nothing to be gained by not sending up your best guys in a scenario like that. Do everything you can to avoid subjecting your fans to that. And these are moments that transcend a singular baseball season. Chris Woy and I were in the stands the night that Bartolo took a no-no into the eighth. Luis Polonia took care of that one. But I haven’t forgotten it. Nobody but me remembers that when the Astros came to the Bronx for a three-game set in 2003, the Yankees took two of three. Everybody remembers that the one they lost was a no-no by six different pitchers. Everybody. Don’t subject your fans to that Joe. Show some respect.
While the game was unfolding I was trying to look on the bright side. I figured that if the Yankees got no-hit, there would probably be a bunch of gloating Yankee-haters logging on to the BPS, coming back in from pumpkin-picking or wine-tasting or whatever it is the rest of the world does this time of year. My comments haven’t been double-digits since my mom was president of Ancient Greece.
Happymeds, sorry for the slip-up on my part, and thanks for catching it. I forgot the key words “extra-inning” when talking about the home-team winning in the playoffs. If you recall the other night we were talking about the Yankee extra-inning playoff games over the last 11 years. As far as Acc and I could tell, the home teams were 13-0.
Lucky, I’m not afraid of the Twins and Santana. I think they’ll be tougher than Detroit, definitely. Just one man’s opinion. And given my preference, I would take them in a seven-game series. But the Yankees will be, and should be, heavily favored against Minnesota, even in a three game series. It’s one of those things where if you’re going to lose that series, you were meant to lose it, and that’s that.
By my next post on Sunday night, we’ll have the playoff match-ups set, and the regular season will be over. And the new Wifflemania champions will have been crowned. See you then.
“Dude, the good news is that regardless of what Giambi does; Benson is going to be at 52 pitches after this at-bat.” I looked up at the pitch counter on the center field scoreboard. Benson was at 46, and it was only the second inning. It was very possible Giambi could get him to 52. I looked back at Tony, and before I could say anything, he put his hand up and said, “52.” So there we were, 5 pitches later looking at Giambi with a full count. Tony looked at the board and said, “What did I tell you? The next pitch is 52. And I’ll tell you what else….” He then flicked his hand out towards the outfield. That is his universal sign for “this guy is about to hit a home run.” Well, lo and behold, what did Giambino do on the very next pitch? We all know… “That may have been my greatest call ever,” Tony later said…
I have to say. This is the lineup I have been waiting for all year. This is the lineup I have been waiting for since they made the trade for Abreu. This was my ultimate dream lineup. The possibilities were limitless. Tonight was what I have been hoping for. And it did not disappoint. Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Allie boy, Giambi, Sheffield, The Ferocious Lion, Posada, Cano. Somebody really has to be kidding me. I couldn’t control myself when I saw the lineup go up. So how did they do? Please… We all know full what went down. Five of the nine starters hit bombs, and Giambi just missed hitting two more. And Sheffield whistled one past us in section 24 that went just to the left of the foul pole. The relentless machine just came charging like a freight train. Doubles, base hits, runs scored. It was truly unbelievable. Sheffield looked like his old self; smashing balls down the left-field line. Giambi looked like a new man after the (third) cortisone shot. By the fourth inning Torre was already pulling guys out because it was getting absolutely ridiculous.
You can never predict the future, but I will agree with any of the pundits who say that it will take an absolutely tremendous effort to beat the Yankees in this post-season. Unfortunately, I’ve seen my share of instances wherein the Yankees were the better team and did not win the World Series. Nothing siphons the life out of me more than that. So I’m not fool enough to think that it can’t happen. But it would be a major upset. At this point, you certainly can’t fault Cashman. He has done his job and done it well. The Yankees have everything they need, and they didn’t give up a single key prospect. You could argue that they could use another front-line starter, but I think Cashman got a competent fifth starter in Lidle, who came in basically for nothing. There is really no team still in contention that is going to send out three starters of the same quality as the Yankees. You could make an argument for the A’s, when Haren and Harden are healthy, but I still would take the Yanks’ three. And throw in the bullpen and no one comes close. We have the tools, now it’s time to execute. No disrespect to Melky and Bernie, because nobody loves Bernie more than me, and I’m a big believer in Melky, but this is the lineup I want to see out there for game one. And the rest of the games, come to think of it.
More good news. Detroit and Minnesota both lost, so the Yankees now have a magic number of three with four to play to secure home-field advantage as long as they last. Why not…
I’ll throw the question out to the readers, because Acc and I were trying to figure out if there were any Yankee extra-inning playoff games in the last 11 years that were not won by the home team. The BPS on Monday cited the fourteen (which is actually 13; one of the 2004 games in Boston was bottom 9) games in which the home team won. Can anybody think of any games we’re forgetting? I’m sure there are a few. Maybe not. Could it be that the home teams are 13-0 in Yankee playoff games under Joe Torre? Not that it would be shocking…
Boys, I am pretty sure we won’t see that same lineup again until game one. Okay. I will be there. If it’s Johan Santana, so be it. He has his work cut out for him. This lineup is murder to wade through. I like what I see.
The Yanks are good. They won, they hit the ball hard, and they remained in position for home-field advantage. Giambi looks like he is playing tomorrow (Wednesday) night, Sheffield got a hit and a ribbie, and Randall is going to be okay for his game-three playoff start, according to the front office. I think that covers it.
What I’m going to do today, in preparation for the 2nd Annual Wifflemania at Acclestick Park tournament on Saturday, is to treat everybody to an interview that the BPS did with the defending champion “Bombers” earlier in the week. The team, Mike Sherry, Sean, and Acc, answered questions both for the team and as individuals.
Questions for all of the reigning champion “Bombers”:
BPS: What set you apart last year that you rose to the top of the heap and became the Wifflemania champs?
Acc: Pitching defiantly [ed. note: Acc seems to think the word ‘definitely’ is spelled ‘defiantly’. You will see this pop up again later in the interview] pitching. Sean was light out last year. I would say Sherry’s hot bat but his head is big enough
Sean: I’d say the team in general. I got lucky a few didn’t make it out of the park, while Mike had a clutch bat and drove in big runs.
Mike Sherry: Pitching and timely HR’s. I think that we also had the most talent, which was nice.
BPS: What is the most important thing the "Bombers" will need to do to repeat?
Acc: I need to hit, I s*cked last year.
Sean: I’d second that (for me). Hitting and runs make pitching a lot easier. We squeaked a couple of games out last year.
Mike Sherry: Same as answer to question # 1
BPS: Has there been any attention to training, i.e. diet and exercise, for the team to prepare for the title defense?
Acc: I actually gained 15 lbs since last year’s event. I have been eating like I have 3 *ssholes.
Sean: I’ve lost a few lbs. I’m hoping it doesn’t hurt my velocity
Mike: I have lost 30 lbs, Sean has lost 30 lbs, and Acc has gained 45 lbs. I guess that as a whole we are in better shape.
BPS: Who do you feel will be your biggest competitors for the title this year (and by biggest I mean both best and largest)?
Acc: I would say "THE PIG." Good pitching, and Wilber plays solid defense.
Sean: I’m looking for a big game from Ciampi and “Big Bird” this year, and who knows what Steve Murph is capable of… I also heard Spiffy took a long weekend in Connecticut with David N. Mullany, inventor of the wiffleball.
Mike: The Pig and the Blue Balls could both easily win the tourney.
Especially if their off-season moves pan out.
BPS: Which one of you gets the most fan mail?
Acc (official answer): Probably Sean and Mike. They are the skinny guys [ed. note: they would both probably dispute that assertion] and chicks dig skinny guys these days. I remember when being a big fat guy was in, circa 1993-1997.
Acc (real answer): I would say that I get the most, because I am a cute and very approachable guy.
Sean: depends if I’m wearing my toupee
BPS: If the Bombers were a salad, which team members would be which ingredients?
Acc: I would say a COBB Salad we are nasty like avocado, Yummy like Bacon and we can we will Repeat on your *ss like crumbled Blue Cheese. HOLY COW!!!!!
Sean: wow. Pretty sick description, acc
Mike: Sean would be the hot peppers because he burns people with his arm, Acc would be the cheese because he takes up a lot of space, and I would be the dressing because my hitting will always have these guys covered.
BPS: How heavy would the Bombers have to be, in aggregate, for the talent level to drop significantly?
Acc: I am actually the only guy to be over 200lbs on the team. [ed. note: wildly untrue] That is scary. I just realized that. I have no comment.
Sean: I don’t think that’s going to be a problem this year, anyway. I’ll be back to my usual 235 next year, most likely though.
Mike: Acc would have to be 297, Sean would have to be 240, and I would have to be 245. That is about a 90 lb overall gain for the team. I think that even at those sizes we would probably still win.
For the individual team members:
Questions for Mike Sherry:
BPS: How do respond to Paddy B’s assertion that a) your home run off him last year was lucky, and b) it will not happen again this year?
Mike: I will do it again this year…..write it down.
BPS: What percentage of the team’s deficiencies can be blamed on Acc?
Mike: We have no deficiencies.
BPS: How do you feel about the proposed re-design of Acclestick Park that may make it more difficult to hit a home run?
Mike: It s*cks. Acc is 284 lbs and he didn’t hit one last year. HR’s were actually pretty few and far between in last years tourney. Why make it more difficult? P.S. I hit 8.
BPS: Do you feel there is an MVP bias against players who do not pitch and hit?
Mike: Tough question. Sean pitched lights out (an era of well under 1.00) and I led in HR’s and had the game winning RBI in every game for an undefeated team and yet (neither of us) won the MVP. I guess that you need to hit well and pitch well, which is what (the winner) did. (The winner) also played on one leg which got (the winner) Kirk Gibson Points. I can speak for Sean when I say that we prefer the championship trophy.
BPS: If you could replace Acc with another player of equal or more weight, who would it be?
Mike: Orson Welles.
BPS: What was the most exciting play of Wifflemania last year?
Mike: The game winning HR off of Paddy B, who had a no hitter up until that point and was literally throwing 70mph. It was also pretty exciting when Mikey Johnson showed up with a bag full of cheeseburgers.
Questions for Sean:
BPS: Last year you only let up one run for the entire tournament. Do you think you can repeat this feat?
Sean: I doubt it. Last week, I just had a compound dislocation of the
pointer on my pitching hand, and haven’t really been able to throw too
well. Looking to get in a couple of simulated innings before gametime. And I mean, really, 1 run? Being lucky certainly trumps being good.
BPS: What percentage of the Bomber’s deficiencies can be blamed on Acc?
Sean: What deficiencies? We won.
BPS: If you had your choice of facing Mike Johnson with a cheeseburger in one hand and a bat in the other, or Mike Rumble in full Herman Munster laugh-mode, which would you choose?
Sean: Each certainly has its respective merit, but I’ll take the one-hander anytime.
BPS: How is it possible that a guy who let up just one run for the tournament didn’t win MVP?
Sean: pitchers don’t win mvps.
BPS: Which is more annoying, Mike Sherry chirping from behind you when you walk a batter, or having to pull Acc away from the grill every time it’s his turn to hit?
Sean: neither. Both are accepted parts of playing in Wifflemania for the Bombers.
BPS: Who has a better chance of hitting a home run off of you, Tony "I swing one-handed" Sherry or your couple-of-months-old son, Ryan?
Sean: as stated, I’ll take the one-hander every time
Questions for Acc [ed. note, the BPS is not responsible for spelling and grammar in Acc’s answers]:
BPS: Do you think your team would replace you if they had the chance?
Acc: No I have a lot of heart and I play hard, I would go through the fence if I had to. By the way it is my f#$%^g park if you don’t like me on the team go f#$k yourself
BPS: How do you feel about Mike Sherry’s assertion that you have more family members playing in the tournament than he has family members?
Acc: Mike Sherry is such a character. He always knows how to get a rise out of me. I am sure his comments were taken out of context.
BPS: As organizer, if you could add one feature to the tournament, what would it be?
Acc: FLYOVER defiantly [ed. note: see?] Flyover. Right after the national anthem.
BPS: If you were a pitcher facing the bombers, and you had a base open to walk one of your teammates and pitch to Acc with the game on the line, would you do it?
Acc: I would like to say I can come thought [ed. note: I think the kid meant ‘through’] in the clutch.
BPS: Which Wifflemania participant has gained the most weight since last year’s tournament?
Acc: Me or either one of the Rumble Brothers
BPS: If you could get anybody to throw out the first pitch, who would it be?
I would say my son [he’s two, which would mean if he could hit the box from the mound he would be headed to the SI Yankees next year with a signing bonus], followed by Don Mattingly.
There it is. The excitement is mounting. I think it is evident that the Bombers are thinking and acting like a team this year. It’s not often that they will pass up multiple chances to throw Acc under the bus. And as Brian Russo once said, the bus would probably lose anyway. And even though Mike Sherry pointed out to me this afternoon that Acc didn’t actually answer the “salad” question as asked, I still think his answer was pretty clever.
I would ask anyone who has any questions for the “Bombers,” as a team or individually, to post them as a comment on BPS, and they will answer with their own comments.
As for the Yanks, Tony Sherry and I will be in section 24 tomorrow (Wednesday) night. With the Ferocious Lion back in left, look for something big.
Mike Sherry left me a voicemail this afternoon. “Dude, I have a demand.” That’s Mike Sherry’s way of making it clear that he’s dispensing with any of the niceties that one would usually afford when asking you to do something. “Since baseball is pretty much in s*ck-mode right now, I think you need to devote at least half of a blog to a full preview of The 2nd Annual Wifflemania at Accle-stick Park.” It’s a valid request. The first pitch of Wifflemania will be this Saturday at 11am. The excitement is mounting and the smack is already starting to fly. “The Bombers” will try and defend their title, while “The Pig” will try to climb that last hurdle to win the coveted “Whitey Ford Trophy.” But I won’t get into it now. There will be plenty of time for that later in the week. Stay tuned.
The Yankees came out of their shell a little bit tonight, tearing the translucent cover off of the Tropicana Dome. I got home early tonight, so by the time I turned on the game it was only the first inning, but already 3-0. And I have to be fair. Alphonso Marquez was squeezing Jae Seo as bad as I’ve ever seen anybody get squeezed. And Seo was furious. I don’t blame him. And two Tampa coaches got themselves thrown out of the game before the first inning was closed out. After putting two on with one out and three already in, Seo found himself locked up in a battle with the Ferocious Lion. Personally, I thought The Ferocious Lion struck out at least twice in that sequence. Marquez didn’t see it that way. And then he started fouling balls off. Seo was clearly exasperated. So on pitch number fourteen, he puts one right down Broadway, and The Ferocious Lion lit it up like Acc’s face when the food comes at the Diner. In any case, I’ve never had a problem with Jae Seo, but I’m not about to feel bad for him.
The Yankees cleaned up their half game deficit to the Tigers in the American League, which means they once again own the best record in all of baseball. The Tigers have the same record, but the Yankees won the season series, so all they need to do is hold court. And now the Tigers and Yankees will take turns with the Blue Jays, who have just moved ahead of the Red Sox for second place (whoops). The Jays are playing good ball, and will get some well-deserved respect in the next week, although they play some tough opponents. The Yankees have three at home against Baltimore, and if they can pick up a game on the Tigers here, the Tigers will need to gain two games in the final three days to secure home-field. Same with the Twins, who will spend the better part of their week knocking the jockstraps off of the Royals.
Nice problems to have, I know. H810, you’ll never hear me discount home-field. It means so much more in baseball than it does in the other major sports, because it’s the only sport where it actually changes your vantage point in the game. Baseball’s home team has last licks, which is a wildly effective psychological advantage. How many playoff extra-inning games are won at home versus on the road? Off the top of my head in the last eleven years, I can think of the ’95 Leyritz game, game 5 in Seattle, the Jeffrey Maier game, Bernie’s walk –off of Rod Beck in game 1 against Boston in ’99, the Chad Curtis WS game in ’99, game 1 of the 2000 Subway Series, both 2001 miracle games, game 7 in 2001, the Aaron Boone game, the Jeff Weaver game in the ’03 series, and two nightmare games in Boston in ’04. And I’m probably forgetting some. How many games have gone to the road team? I’m sure some. But I can’t think of any this second. The psychology of it tells you a lot. If you’re the home team, as soon as the road team has two outs and no one on base, you start to feel empowered. You’re going to get a chance to come up and win with a walk-off, and even if you don’t score it this inning, you’ll still get a chance to answer any runs the other teams score with another inning. It’s a daunting proposition. The results bear that out. And whether the road team wins a game early in a series or not, it never changes the fact that both teams know where that seventh game will be played. Again, a tremendous psychological advantage.
Nick, you make a good point. I was focused partly on the home-field aspect, and partly on the “rust” aspect, although I probably didn’t give the latter enough run. I think Torre may have some sort of disease when it comes to this stuff. Sheffield was pulled from this game tonight. Sheffield. This guy needs absolutely every at-bat and every fielding chance he can get. And Torre is sitting him down. Just in case he didn’t get enough rest for the four months he was off….
Ras, I understand your concern. The good news is that there isn’t one team going into the playoffs that doesn’t have the same problem. And given the rest of the pieces of the puzzle, I have to believe we have the strong advantage.
Happymeds/Umair, the destruction they waged tonight was something I would like to see continue towards the end of this week, if it’s all the same to everyone. Peak at the right time and work up some momentum for next week. And then, boom…..
Sean and I were talking the other day about a book called The Wisdom of the Crowds by James Surowiecki. The basic premise of the book is that the crowds, i.e. the general populace, when polled individually and aggregated, will collectively be able to predict the outcomes of events and potential scenarios more accurately than any single expert or group of experts on the subject. More accurately. That’s important. Grossman, Vino, the Lt, JJ, Vino, and Big Willie may remember an exercise we did back in b-school concerning the academy awards. Interesting book; I recommend it. There is an excellent example of that in sports. You may know it as the betting line. Big Joe (father-in-law), along with countless others, is always mystified when a team covers or doesn’t cover a football game by a half a point. “How do they know?” he always says to me. Well, this crowd-wisdom theory does a pretty good job of explaining it. You first have to understand how the betting lines work. The line is set by whatever odds-makers in Vegas, but that has little to do with where it ends up. The line moves up or down depending on what people are betting. The collective will of the people will correct the line until it’s at its final point. The final line, at game-time of whatever event, is supposed to be the exact middle point between the amount of people who think one team will cover and the people who think that team will not cover. So it’s actually the crowd that sets the line. The crowd is the “they” that Big Joe laments. And, as you hear people groan/cheer all over offices and back rooms at bars, the people do a pretty **** good job.
So what does that have to do with anything? I cite this as an example of my growing frustration with Joe Torre and his “resting” philosophy. Joe Torre continues to put the pedal-to-the-medal, resting three four starters a game. On Friday night he rested five starters, including Giambi, admittedly, who most definitely should not be starting. But all the more reason to be careful about resting four other starters on the same night. And this included, as gjp accurately and astutely pointed out, The Ferocious Lion. Why, oh why would you be resting the Ferocious Lion? This absolutely mystifies me. Why would you be resting any of these guys, come to think of it? But that one is insane. First of all, the guy has had four months off. Second of all, he needs to get his stroke down, and he doesn’t have a lot of time to do it. But even so, these guys are professional athletes, most of whom are in their prime. How much, physically, is it really taking out of you to play in a baseball game? Think about it. Or maybe the better question is; how much does it help you to not play in a baseball game? Especially when Torre is just going to call on you to pinch-hit late in the game anyway. Are you really doing the guys that much good? There are some cases in which I would argue it does. Posada plays a difficult position, and he’s not a kid anymore. So I don’t have an issue resting him, but you absolutely need to get him his at-bats to keep him sharp, and maybe those come as a late-inning pinch hitter. Okay. But I would argue that many of these guys might be ill-affected by the resting. Abreu? The Ferocious Lion? Jeter? Damon? Allie-boy? Particularly Allie-boy, who has, as we knew he would, sunk to the bottom of another slump after the SI story broke. Some would say that there is strong evidence to support the idea that it actually hurts the players, taking them out of their rhythm, upsetting their routines. Not to mention infielders are playing with unfamiliar double-play combinations and pitchers and catchers are out of synch. John Sterling, during the broadcasts last Friday night, stated that “Torre insists he doesn’t give any credence to home-field.” That he “just wants his team ready.” And this, to Joe Torre, means a relentless, hard-core sitting program. I think this is insane, as I’ve said many times here in BPS. And I’ve offered the 2005 game five-playoff loss to the Angels as an example, how Torre was willing to lose by resting almost all of his starters on the last day of the season while Mike Scoscia won by sending out all of his starters, stealing home- field from right out under Torre’s nose. And how huge it turned out to be… So here I’ll ask a question, along the lines of the crowd-wisdom philosophy. If you open a betting line for a series, which is going to move the line, i.e. the crowd or general populace, to a greater degree – one team’s players having rested more, or home-field advantage? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not even close.
Another point. The one guy Torre has been careful not to sit is Cano, because he needs enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Cano, and to a lesser extent Jeter, who will qualify regardless, is exempt because he is chasing an individual achievement. But yet Wang, Moose, And Randall, who with varying degrees, have all been chasing twenty win seasons this year, watch their individual achievement hopes suffer greatly because they have to pitch with a largely triple and double-A lineup behind them every game after September 1. Funny….
I say all of this because the Yankees, after spending most of the weekend not only with home-field throughout, but also with the best record in all of baseball, have today moved a half-game behind the Tigers for best-record. Now, it’s a bit misleading, because the Yankees still control their destiny, being that they are tied in the loss column and if they tie the Yankees will get home-field because they won the season series. And it’s also true that the Tigers were playing the Royals. But the Yankees have lost two of three (with one still to play) to Tampa Bay. Opportunity wasted. I am not foolish enough to think that nobody in the American League has a chance to beat the Yankees. But I am saying that there is nothing that Torre could achieve by resting guys from here on out that would affect the rest of the league’s chances more than not sending out your A-team to claim home-field advantage. So quit fooling around and take what’s yours.
Of course I’m looking forward to the playoffs. Me, the big boy, Cousin Angelo, aka “Big Ange,” Tony Sherry. We’ve all secured our playoff seats in section 24, and it’s going to be completely nuts. But it’s not all about section 24. We usually get the crew together for all the road games too. We’ve had upwards of twenty-something people in front of somebody’s TV in glorious years past. But the Mrs. is currently watching her playoffs. The season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. The girl is head over heels for that show. I’m not even really allowed in the room. I guess I just don’t get it. It’s a chick show. But then, she doesn’t get how I can ramble on for twenty minutes about the unparalleled ridiculousness of that d*uchebag Joe West calling Robbie Cano out of the baseline (when his foot was directly on the line the entire way to first) with two on and two out in game five of the ALDS last year. I still, almost a year later, can’t put into words how much that infuriates me. That still may be the worst call I’ve ever seen. At least until that A.J. Pierzynski call in the World Series by Doug Eddings. I will completely freak out if that *sshole Joe West comes within twenty rows of the field this year in the postseason. My only question is whether or not he has watched the replay, and whether or not he cares that he blew that one. But enough on that. See how easy it is to set me off?
The question came up today about a potential Subway Series. There are some that won’t talk about it because they don’t want to “get ahead of themselves.” Any body who reads the BPS regularly knows I think that’s ridiculous. Big Joe (father-in-law) will hit me with that every once in a while, and then he’ll quickly remember that go nuts when people say that. We don’t play in the games. We’re fans. That’s what fun about being a fan. You’re allowed to get ahead of yourself. Why not? You get to think about what kind of potential matchups there can be, how things might play out. Get ahead of yourself. It’s not going to affect the Yankees’ performance on the field if any of us get ahead of ourselves, I assure you.
So the Subway Series. Here’s the story. The Mets can hit with almost anybody. Just not the Yankees. If you go through the line-ups (accommodating the fact that some guys are not 100%), the Yankees come out on top. Comparing the batting orders, it looks like this (this may just be an elaborate ruse to see if I can coax Grossman into commenting twice in one week): Damon or Reyes. I’ll give it to Reyes. Lo Duca or Jeter. Please… Abreu or Beltran. Beltran. Delgado or Giambi. Exact same type of player, but Giambi’s OBP is almost 60 points higher, so he gets the nod. But if Giambi isn’t healthy, I’ll allow an asterisk. Allie-boy or Wright. I’ll give them Wright, only because I don’t feel like arguing. That’s when it gets weird. Floyd vs. The Ferocious Lion. Even though Floyd might not even play – The Ferocious Lion. Sheffield vs. Shawn Green. If he’s healthy, Sheffield. But again, I’ll allow the asterisk. But if they’re both healthy, Sheffield is hands-down the better player. Endy Chavez vs. Posada. Posada. Robbie Cano vs. Jose Valentin. Cano. There it is. Six to three. And the Mets staff is an even bigger question mark. Even if you were to stretch and say Moose/Pedro and Glavine/Randall canceled each other out, the Mets have no Wang. That’s the huge difference. And the bullpens are about even until you get to a certain gentleman from Panama. Top to bottom, the Yanks are a better collection of talent. I don’t even think the Met fans would dispute that. But I’ll tell you what. If you were to throw karma and mojo in there, the Mets would come out ahead. They just seem to have that magic this year. We’ll see what happens in the playoffs. I’ve been wildly wrong before (more times than I would care to admit, actually). The Yankees have been battling the black cloud all year. The incessant injuries, the turmoil. Even the way the two teams clinched was night and day. The Mets clinched with a win at home to the cheers and adoration of the fans. The Yanks clinched sitting in the clubhouse on couches after a loss on the road. Maybe it’s bad karma, but maybe it’s just making them stronger. We’ll find out.
Good news on the home-field front, as Detroit and Minnesota lost. That gives us a little cushion. Every little bit helps.
Giambi’s talking about another cortisone shot. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure three of those in a month is not the best thing to do to yourself. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. You have to admire that.
Apparently the Yankee “victory song” is It’s Goin’ Down by Yong Joc. Okay. I’m in. And apparently they kick off all celebrations by gathering around Johnny Damon, who starts a dance circle. Nice….
Today is a famous day in disco lore. Earth, Wind, and Fire. “Do you remember the 21st night of September…” A little before my time maybe (Ras may have been a disco star), but still good.
Apropos of nothing, Joe Theismann is the worst broadcaster on TV, in any sport. I’ve never seen a more front-running butt-kisser in my life. I hate listening to that guy.
Great article in the Times today about the baseball author, film-maker and historian Peter J. Nash. He lives in Cooperstown, appropriately, and he can rattle-off entire rosters, including stats, of teams from the 1850’s as well as today. But you may know him by the name he went by back in Brooklyn. Prime Minister Pete Nice. Fascinating article.
Playoffs getting closer by the second. This is what I’m talking about.
I was sitting with Acc in front of a mammoth TV at the Salty Dog in Brooklyn. We were putting back some wings, potato skins and burgers. We were winning, then we weren’t. The Twins were winning, then they were losing; now they’re winning. It’s the top of the ninth inning as I tap the keys, and the Twins are up 8-2. This is a foregone conclusion, of course. But it’s the worst possible clinching scenario. Not only did the Yankees already lose – on the road, but the Twins have gained a hugely valuable game in the standings by beating the Red Sox, which has brought them to within one game of the Yankees for best record in the AL. I can’t even pretend to get excited about this. I will admit, however, that I’ve got one eye on the gamecast, because when the Red Sox game gets to the bottom of the ninth, I’ll go upstairs to the loft and put on the YES network, because I’m sure there will be some kind of cosmetic champagne-spraying. They have the bubbly on ice, after all, so they might as well use it. So I guess I’ll watch. Why not. But it might be lame. Any Yankee celebration that isn’t the World Series is secondary to me.
But anyway, it’s the bottom of the ninth in Fenway, so I’ll go flip on YES.
Okay, it wasn’t as lame as I thought. They genuinely looked like they were having a good time. The young kids were psyched. Melky, Robbie Cano, Giambi, Damon, Jeter, Mo, the call-ups. Even Allie-boy and Sheffield. Everybody looked pretty psyched. Interesting that you saw throngs of Japanese media in there, but you couldn’t see The Ferocious Lion. I guess he was in the middle of the throng. Randy Johnson was pretty tough to miss, as he was towering over everybody, spraying champagne around. I’m glad they were enjoying themselves. There are plenty of fans in plenty of Major League cities that haven’t gotten to see that in years. So I’ve changed my attitude about it all, and in the span of just two short two paragraphs.
Tony Sherry called me today, and asked if he was a bad guy if he thought the Mets celebration was a little bush league. I told him to think what he wants. It’s all relative anyway. I don’t fault them for having a good time, but it was a little over the top, maybe. They talk about acting like you’ve been there before. And the Mets have been there before. They won the pennant just six years ago. But I won’t kill them about it. Like the Mrs.’ cousin Ellen always says – celebrate everything.
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the Allie article in Sports Illustrated. Here’s where I weigh in. I never particularly cared about whether or not the players on the Yankees were good guys. In fact, I don’t care about their race, ethnic background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or favorite color. I have only one criterion. I just care that they will help the team win. Now, there are limitations, of course. If anybody was a convicted felon or something, I might reconsider. So Allie-boy is a little “out there.” No kidding. He always seems to step up and make silly missteps when it comes to the media. Just like David Ortiz last week, you can’t mention other players’ names when griping about this or that. You just can’t. Even if asked. You have to side-step the question, take the high road, and move on. Allie, because he generally doesn’t understand why he isn’t more loved, will prattle on about whomever. Bad move. But not only that. He doesn’t have a good feel for how to navigate the clubhouse. So he comes across as aloof. That’s him. You’re not going to change him and make him a better guy, so you just deal with it. The article really didn’t tell you anything about the guy you didn’t already know, on some level.
There were a few interesting things about the article to me. I’ll start by saying that I think Tom Verducci, as did most of the media, just got swept up in the media story that all of Yankee Stadium completely turned on Allie and booed him mercilessly. A salacious story, sure, but it simply isn’t correct. The truth is that none of the talking heads who are saying Allie was roundly booed were at the games. Has anybody ever heard/seen a clip of Allie getting booed? Most likely not. Do you know why? Because many a media outlet probably went looking for one, and they kept coming back with, “That’s it? There must be a better one than that.” But there wasn’t. The booing was absolutely noticeable and discernible, but at no time was it just a chorus of unified boos. I know. I was at the games. The truth is that at no point was even the majority of the crowd booing, and as soon as the booing started, there were always those who started cheering extra loud to try and offset it. And it was pretty much a wash. But the media can’t resist. They keep insisting that he was overwhelmingly and viciously booed, when that was absolutely never the case. With that said, the boos were there, and Allie most certainly heard them.
Probably the most interesting thing to me was the access that Verducci seemed to get. There were a lot of pretty frank disclosures from Giambi, Torre, Reggie Jackson, Allie himself, and others. That’s very unusual for any team, especially in mid-season, and it’s especially unusual for the Yankees. Some of the insights were admittedly fascinating, like when Giambi acknowledged he was willing to go after some pitches he ordinarily wouldn’t go after in order to try and spare Allie the burden of getting the big hit. Or when Torre acknowledged that he decided to call Allie in when Giambi came in and said, “Skip, you have to stop coddling him.” But interesting as it was, I found myself asking why these guys didn’t just shut up about all this. If you’re the team, I have to believe you think that people don’t need to know all of this stuff.
But here is what I am left with. This, undoubtedly, will send Allie-boy spiraling into another slump. Just what the Yankees do not need as they march towards the playoffs. Anything that’s going to make that guy play worse is bad for business, bad for the Yankees, and bad for the BPS. So I hope he finds some sort of magic potion to get him past this. Because I agree with what Allie-boy replied, when asked at the very end of the article, about the words Torre left him with when he had his sit-down. “We need you.”
Congratulations to the New York Yankees, the 2006 American League East Champions.
We have a decision to make. Who do we start in the one-game playoff with Boston? This is not a flip decision. You have to figure that whichever starter we put out there won’t be able to go until at least game three of the first round. And you can’t be too careful about setting up the rotation for the playoffs. But then again, you don’t want to blow the play-in game and be left out entirely. So who will it be? Randall? Moose? Wang? What’s that you ask? Why am I getting ahead of myself? Because we have to look ahead, that’s why. Do you realize that if we lose our last eleven games in a row, and Boston wins their last eleven games in a row, we’ll have to…. Ahhh, but I kid. I should have more respect, I guess. But sometimes I can’t resist. Goodnight Boston. Again. I hope the BOSTON RED SOX – NINE CONSECUTIVE AL EAST SECOND PLACE TITLES t-shirts come out nice. Maybe I’ll pick one up for my Uncle Jimmy in Boston.
Well, another day, another anti-climactic win. This is a nice problem to have, and I’ll admit to being a little over the top, but I worry about walking into the postseason this way. It’s difficult to just turn it on sometimes. Al Leiter was waxing eloquent about this during last night’s broadcast. There is no sense of urgency, there is no pressure. Everybody is playing with a huge safety net because you know you’re already in. The Mets are even deeper into this. The Mets haven’t played a meaningful game since the end of May. Even home-field was a foregone conclusion. Those guys have played with absolutely no pressure on them for months. How will they respond? I think certain players will be fine, and certain players will have a little trouble. Billy Wagner is the one guy who is a huge question mark for the Mets, whether they realize it or not. Early in the year, before the Mets blew everybody else’s doors off, he had many a rough night out there, and the saves he did get were nail-biters. Now there’s a guy who has benefited tremendously from not having any pressure on him. He has been artificially successful over the last few months. He is a liability in the late innings, and mark my words – he will blow at least one big game for the Mets in the post-season. The Yankees have the same issue with Farnsworth. He is going to have some rocky moments out there. The good news is you have a safety valve in Mr. Rivera, who has pronounced himself pain free and ready to go. And he’s had a month to rest. But further than those guys, the Yankees have trotted who after what after what happened out there to pitch. The last few starters were Darrel Rasner, Jeff Karstens, Sean Henn, Cousin Angelo, Big Willie, Vasco DeGama, Fatty Arbuckle, and Willis Drummond. We have watched an endless parade of add-ons out there in every conceivable situation, and they haven’t put the A-1 starting lineup out there since the Boston Massacre. You’d think Joe would want the starters to play together at least one day a week. But maybe I’m the knucklehead….
Joel Sherman wrote an article in the Post today, repeating his contention that there should be another playoff team added from each league. The idea is that the two wild card teams would play each other in a best of three series for the right to play the team with the best record. This would allow the end of the year to mean something more, as the team with the best record would get an extra day or two off while the wild-card teams beat each other up, and the wild card round winner would have to show up with a jumbled rotation to play the champs. It would provide greater incentive for the first-place teams to get the best record, and it would be disincentive for a team to just sit back, take it easy, and accept the wild card rather than going for the division title. I started out hating the idea, because I already think it blows when awful teams (let’s face it – awful) like the barely or not even .500 Reds, Marlins, and Phillies are contending in the first place, while decent teams aren’t even close just because they play in the AL. That would only be compounded if you were taking two wild-cards from that disgusting National League. And you would lose that AL Central battle that’s brewing right now, because all three team would know that they were in. Sure, they wouldn’t want to be in the bottom two, but they would be in. So that’s how I started out. And I think I’m still there. But I’m not cast in stone. There is something to be said to adding a little pop to the end of the season, and to getting a little bigger bonus for having the best record. But interesting article from Mr. Sherman.
Here’s something we should all remember. Every team has flaws. The instinct is to panic and think there is no way you’re going to win unless you plug every conceivable hole in your staff/lineup. The truth is, one team is going to win the World Series this year, and that team, whoever it is, will have flaws and weaknesses. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way. You just have to deal.
The big boy and I will be at the Salty Dog in Brooklyn watching the game tomorrow night. Doc Halladay against Sean Henn. Good gracious. Sheffield anyone?
Grossman has always told me that my posts are a thousand times better when the Yankees lose, and I’m at my best when they lose in some kind of gut-wrenching fashion. I’m not sure if that’s true, or he just enjoys them more because he’s a Met fan and has no use for Yankee wins. But tonight was a big night for Grossman. I got the text message around 10-ish. First division championship in 18 years, he crowed. Good for him and good for the Met fans. Enjoy it. I remember the last one. I was in High School, barely. The night they were shocked by Orel Hersheiser and the Dodgers in the NLCS, I was at a Van Halen concert at Nassau Coliseum with my buddy Howie, also a huge Yankee fan. At one point in the show, Sammy Hagar, who was the front man at the time, announced to the crowd that the Mets had just lost. Not sure if they played any encores that night….
Torre was goofing around again tonight. Again Mike Myers out there pitching against righties with the game on the line. Poor Ron Villone. The old Jersey guy pitched his heart out all year long, earning Torre’s trust, which isn’t easy to do, but now seems to have absolutely no gas left in the tank. I wonder if, at this point, he doesn’t even make it on the playoff roster. Or he may pull a Graeme Lloyd and turn it around to be lights-out in the playoffs. And Aaron Guiel made it in the game again tonight. And of course, just as I’m railing against him pretty much every night right here in BPS, he makes a spectacular catch and hits a huge double with two outs, which eventually scored on the big fly by Jeter. Shows you what I know, just in case anyone forgot.
Well, it appears top be good night White Sox. This is not what their fans want to hear right now, but the truth is that the team was not that good last year. The BPS had repeated it over and over, right into this year. They just had one of those perfect years last year. Their fans who had visited BPS this year were convinced that the pitchers from last year were somehow going to re-emerge. Only last year was not normal for those guys. The truth is that those guys were a perfect storm last year, and this year they had reverted to their true form. Contreras, Garland, Freddy Garcia. Those guys aren’t blowing anybody’s doors off. Buehrle was the best of the bunch, historically, but this year he might be the worst of them. And they didn’t add anything throwing Javy Vazquez in. So they were a contender this year. A legit contender. Just not good enough. It was a good run, and they pulled a pretty big monkey off of their backs.
So now the Tigers are playing that role. Here’s how they could be this year’s White Sox (or ’04 Red Sox, more likely). It is very likely that the two best teams in the American League could meet in the first round. And by that I mean the Twins and the Yankees. The Tigers may finish ahead of the Twins, but right now the Twins are a better team. The A’s are the worst hitting team in the American League. They are highly beatable. So if the Tigers beat the A’s, and the Twins upset the Yankees (and it would certainly be an upset), the Tigers could get home field in the ALCS against the Twins, who will very likely have to empty every single tank they have to get past the Yankees, much the same way the LA Krypotonite did last year. The Angel rotation was blown to smithereens last year, their bullpen was completely shot, and the players were exhausted from traveling across the country three times in five days, with no time to rest before the ALCS started. By the time Mike Scoscia’s shattered team limped into Chicago last year, they were ripe to be plucked. And they were. The Yankees are a spectacular team, and the Twins are not that deep. Even if they get past the Yankees, the Yankees will extract their pound of flesh, and they will most likely do it at Yankee Stadium. So that leaves the Tigers with only four games (with home field advantage – thank you Trevor Hoffman and Michael Young) standing between them and yet another great resurrection story for MLB. The White Sox were able to sneak through last year because they didn’t have to play the Yankees. Again, I’m sure the White Sox fans don’t want to hear that, and I’m sure they would dispute it, but it is what it is. The Tigers have a shot if they can do the same. But that’s not the way I see it.
I think the Yankees will carry the day because they are the best team, and they have the team built to win. No other reason. You can never predict baseball, so they might get upset. So might the Mets. But somehow, I think the Yankees use their experience and find their way through. My preference of teams to play is the Tigers, A’s and Twins, in that order. The Tigers because their young pitchers are breaking down, they haven’t been able to beat the Yankees all year, and they don’t have anybody in the lineup that really scares you, now that they released Dmitri Young. The A’s have absolutely nobody outside of Frank Thomas that scares you. Even Eric Chavez has had a very sub-par season at the plate. But they are the only team left that has consistently beaten the Yankees this year, and they are a five-plus hour plane ride away. The Twins have at least one arm that scares you, and a few bats that scare you. But they are still nowhere near the caliber of the Yankees. I will say it again. It will be a major upset if the Yankees don’t win the pennant.
Smile away on your night, Grossman. Welcome back to the playoffs. It seems like just yesterday that …. well… I won’t bring that up now….
It occurs to me that the poor Red Sox fans will have no choice but to talk about “moral victories,” “self respect,” and whatever else they can think of to make themselves feel good after this weekend. Here’s the truth. By this coming Friday absolutely no one will remember the Red Sox salvaged three of four at the Stadium this past weekend. The legacy of Boston Massacre II will go on for years and years. The truth is, when it was time for the key players on the Red Sox to step up this season, they smashed face-first in the dirt. That’s why they are the losers. Again. Nice catch in center tonight, Coco. Too bad you couldn’t get it done when it counted. Know that you were a costly front-office mistake. Good ninth inning, Timlin. Too bad you were a bona fide Yankee punching bag this season, and were responsible for puking away many games single-handedly during the Red Sox collapse. Good start on Saturday, Beckett. Too bad you showed yourself to be a cowering child every time your team needed you this season. Know that you are currently listed on more than a few polls on the internet as one of the ten worst trades in baseball history, as Hanley Ramirez continues his run towards rookie of the year, and Anibal Sanchez basks in his no-hitter.
As far as the games go, you can get as upset as you want. Although there were a lot of veterans not getting it done this weekend, the four games featured a steady diet of no-names, for both teams. I was listening to the first game today in Big Joe’s pool, and I was listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman lament the fact that the Yankees couldn’t get any runs across with bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth or fifth inning. Why was this so startling? The first two batters to get a shot at it were Nick Green and Sal Fasano. This is Joe Torre in September. This has always been Joe Torre in September. I was also listening to the radio broadcast while driving back to Brooklyn with the Mrs. earlier tonight. Sterling was making a point about Torre being asked about how important it was to clinch at home against the Red Sox. Sterling mentioned that Torre was insisting that he wasn’t trying to win because he wanted to clinch in any kind of way, he wanted to win because he wanted to win games; he wanted everyone to be in the mindset of winning. Sterling clearly bought it. I don’t. Winning these games is extremely low on Joe Torre’s priority. Keeping everybody rested and healthy is high priority. Is this the right way to approach it? Probably. Is it always the cast-in-stone best way? No. A few years ago Joe would have come right out and told everybody he didn’t give a lick about winning these games; that it was about keeping people fresh. Today he is more savvy. He realizes that there are those who are not in total agreement. I am one of them. He’s running nobody after nobody out there game after game. Jeter, because he is the right kind of ballplayer, insisted on being out there for three of the four as he chases the batting title. So he only rested once. Abreu, Allie-boy, Cano, Giambi, Matsui, and Damon each rested twice. Aaron Guiel continues to get at-bat after at-bat, with no discernible purpose. He’s hitting .233, and he hasn’t shown anything in his career to make you think he’s any better than that. They got him when everybody was injured. He has no place on the playoff roster. His at-bats have come at the expense of Craig Wilson, who has been an all-star in his career, and now has been relegated to righty-pinch hitting duty. The line-up has been a revolving door for the last few weeks. Although I realize the logic, and I agree with the philosophy on a grand scale, I think Joe overdoes it.
First of all, Joe Torre undoubtedly gives away games. You can argue that he gave away all three games they lost this weekend. He had so many weapons sitting on the bench in every game that you could have held an all-star game in the clubhouse. One of the reasons I say that Joe Torre is more savvy now about admitting he’s resting everybody is because he took a huge black eye last year. After clinching in Boston in the penultimate game of the season, he rested absolutely everybody on the last day of the year. The wily Mike Scoscia, smelling an opportunity, out-foxed Torre, as usual. Scoscia’s Angels were in the same boat as Torre’s Yankees. They had already clinched the AL West. But Scoscia didn’t take a back seat on the last day of the season. He was a full game behind the Yankees in the standings. Knowing that he had won the season series (what else is new…), he went for it. With Joe Torre napping away a loss to the Sox on the last day of the season with every scrub he could muster, Scoscia’s Angel starters were stealing bases, bunting, and playing to win against a Rangers team (with a tacit wink from their manager, Buck Showalter, all too glad to stick it to the Yankees) that had pulled all of their starters early (and right off the bases, in an unprecedented move). The Angels reward was home field advantage. A week later the Angels were playing game five at home, with a rookie emergency reliever who came in to the thunderous cheers and support of the crowd. Torre took heat for that blunder, and rightfully so. So now he claims he tries to win all of the games. But he hasn’t changed a thing. He hasn’t rested less than two starters in every game. Usually three or more. So whereas we had a three game lead over Detroit for best record, we now have a single game lead over them, and a two game lead over Minnesota. Joe Torre, I am begging you. Do not underestimate the importance of home field advantage. It is the only chance anyone in the AL playoffs has of beating the Yankees. Do not just give it away. Please.
A lesser reason he denies his strategy is that it could p*ss off anybody on the team, particularly the pitchers, who are trying to finish with decent stats. Tonight, in the eighth inning, Joe Torre left lefty specialist, Mike Myers, in to face four righties with a two run lead. The ESPN broadcasters, Morgan and Miller, acknowledged that this was an example of how Torre is just using this type of game to see what his guys are made of in certain situations. I agree with Morgan and Miller that that is what he was trying to do. I disagree with the tactic. Myers is a million years old. Why are you testing him out in any way? You know what he can do and what he can’t do. If he ends up in a game in a key spot against a righty, it’s because you have no choice. How must Sean’s boy, Mike Mussina, have felt that Torre was leaving Myers out there, hitting batters and throwing a wild pitch with two outs that tied the game, nullifying Mussina’s win? What did that prove? Mussina has been a horse for Torre for six years. He’s going to be so close to 300 wins, but will probably come up a bit short. Why are you throwing his win out the window, clearly because you just wanted to see what would happen if you left Myers out there? The last piece of this is the fans. Have a little more respect for the fans, who do not want the Red Sox, of all teams, to be able to walk away smiling, taking three of four in our own house. Giving this game away for such a silly reason was a slap in the face of the fans, who have come out 4 million strong this year in support of the team.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Home field situation aside, it would be a major upset if the Yankees were to lose to any of the teams currently in the race in the AL. Major. The Yankees are better and deeper than all of them. Period. Do you know what their one weakness is? I’ll give you a hint. Don’t be a ****** and say starting pitching. Randy Johnson and Wang will be 18 or 19 game winners, and Moose has put up a quality start almost every time out. Let’s stop being ridiculous. Who has a better or deeper 1,2,3 in all of baseball? Oakland, with Zito, Haren, and Blanton? No. Minnesota? No. It’s Santana and then my mom and sister. You could argue Detroit, but they are young and untested, with the exception of Kenny Rah-Rah, who is old and has tested badly. That leaves the Yanks. So what is their Achilles heel? It will be the one guy who will probably be the worst hitter in the best lineup they throw out there come playoff time. Jorge Posada. Now, he himself is not the weak-link, mind you. It’s what would happen to the Yankees if he were to go down. The Yankees acquired the Incredible Sal because Kelly Stinnett was hitting terribly. Well, The Incredible Sal has been all that and less. He is truly awful at the plate. By all accounts, he is a happy, jolly guy who is universally liked. But he has been a black hole in the lineup. If Posada was unable to play, for any reason, the Incredible Sal would prove to be a Godsend for opposing pitchers, giving them the one thing they will not have in this line-up – an automatic out. And the situations will find him. They certainly did this weekend.
Last thing on the Jeter/ Big HGH MVP situation. Morgan and Miller were extolling Ortiz’s virtues, saying he was a good a candidate as anyone. They even went so far as to cite, along with a visual graphic, the guidelines that MLB gives to the voters in what to look for when picking candidates. One criterion was loyalty, which caused Morgan to say he “didn’t know what that meant.” I think what he meant to say is that he didn’t know how it fit into the MVP voting. I think an overwhelming majority of the media fall into the same trap with Big HGH as they always have with Shaquille O’Neal. They are quick to forgive any shortcomings or transgressions because he is such a jolly, loveable guy. How many times over the years have you heard an NBA broadcaster, as soon as Shaq hit three or four free-throws in a row, jubilantly cheer that his foul-shooting woes are over, or how silly the idea was that he couldn’t hit them was in the first place? And of course, he would quickly brick the next seven because he shoots free-throws about as well as your average five-year old. But it was like wishful thinking on their part, because they just like the guy. You get the same dynamic with Big HGH. Everyone is tripping over themselves to say that he was misquoted, misunderstood, and mis-treated regarding his Jeter quotes. The reality is simple and crystal clear. The minute he injected Jeter’s name into any comment he was making a major transgression, even if it was in response to a question. You can’t do that, not ever. And he has not yet apologized in any way for the comment, as far as I know. All he has done is cry about people “not understanding.” Derek Jeter, as he usually does, took the high road. But Big HGH has not backed off anything, and he made a major mistake. So that’s the first thing. The second one was when he mentioned that Jeter had stars all around him in the line-up. His comment, that no one disputes, was, “Try hitting in this line-up, then see how good you can be.” Hey Joe Morgan, remember when you said you didn’t understand how loyalty fit in to the equation? Well how about throwing your entire team under the bus, insinuating that their lack of talent is what is costing you the MVP? Hey guys, I get it. Big HGH is a jolly, fun guy. Don’t lose your credibility because of it. Do your jobs.
Only three things left to figure out this regular season. Home field, home-field, home-field.