You knew I’d be back after that Big Papi news….
I’m sitting in my living room right now, watching the Yanks/White Sox on this rainy (shocker) night in Brooklyn. The Yanks are down 5-3 in the bottom of the third, in what was a battle of the bullpens before the game even started. The White Sox had to make D.J. Carrasco their emergency starter, and he immediately coughed up three runs in the first inning. It took Sergio Mitre, fresh off the revelation that the fifth starter job is his to lose now that the Yankees stood down at the deadline, just four outs to puke the game right back up. The problem with Mitre is the same problem that you have with Wang when he’s at his worst. When a sinkerballer gets the ball up, it’s pure batting practice. And that’s what you’re getting with Mitre as I’m tapping the keys. Carrasco hasn’t been any better, but like last night, he’s spaced the Yankees 7 hits out better than Mitre’s spaced out the 7 hits for the Sox.
This is an important series for the Yanks. [This is annoying. Cano led off the inning with a base hit, so as Melky hits a rocket to the wall, Carlos Quentin, who has been hobbling around with plantar fasciitis (spelling is wrong, but I don't care), raced over and makes a running catch... The guy has literally been limping on and off the field. Whoops. Hinske just tied the game with a two run bomb.] This series is big because the Yankees and Red Sox matched up for a 10 game stretch in which the Yanks had the final 3 of 4 against the A’s, and then went away for the first 7 of a 9 game road trip against the Rays and White Sox, while the Red Sox were playing seven at home against the O’s, A’s, and out to Baltimore for three more. On paper you look at that set as 5-5, and you pencil in a 7-3 stretch for the Sox. Since the Yanks started the stretch with a 2.5 game lead, you figured the Yanks they would start that series against the Red Sox next week tied in the loss column. But the Red Sox blinked. The Yanks went 4-2 to start the stretch, and the Red Sox futzed their way to 3-3 in their first 6. So you scratched your head a bit and wondered if the Yanks were actually going to take the reins. Then the Red Sox righted their ship (barely) by coming back late against the A’s on Thursday and O’s on Friday[that game just went final], while the Yanks lost a tough one on Thursday and are locked in a battle (an ugly battle) here on Friday. And ugly battles rarely end well for the road team. The longer the game goes, the more the home team is favored. [I'm about three minuted behind the game on the DVR, and my phone just buzzed with a text. The Yanks had been set up with two on and one out, but I knew that text was going to be Acc with bad news. Acc always texts with bad news. Never good news. I sent him a text back crushing him. While we're at it, the White Sox got a run and took the lead back, as they are 7 for 10 with runners on base. The Yankees, since Hinske's bomb, are 0-10 with runners on base at the end of 7.] So what started out as a promising 10 game match-up is back up in the air. The last part of the equation is that the Yankees play in Toronto just before the clash next week while the Red Sox play in Tampa. Still, I think if you add it all up on paper, including the four in the Bronx next week, it ends in a dead heat in the loss column. The good news there is that the Yankees have been head and shoulders above the Red Sox when it comes to playing against the rest of the league. But we’ll see.
Took a bit of a break to watch the rest of the game. The Yanks ended up getting out-hit by just one, but outscored 9-2 after the 1st inning. The White Sox, for the second straight night, couldn’t miss with runners on. The Yanks are 3-18 with RISP in the series, with an 0-7 tonight after one out in the first inning. Way to go Sergio. Let’s see what A.J.’s got tomorrow…
A note on the trades today. When the Yankees dynasty was getting off the ground in the mid-nineties, Mike Lupica used to say that “nobody did the business of baseball better than the Yankees.” Part of this was that they got very good at hyping their minor-leaguers. The trick wasn’t having the best chips to get the better established players, the trick was to convince everybody that you had the best chips to get the best established players. They were able to turn the Eric Milton’s, Ricky Ledee’s, Drew Henson’s (twice), Jake Westbrook’s” etc into real pieces like Cecil Fielder, Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice without any real major league talent going back. Like anything else, it was all great until everyone started doing it. All GM’s these days cast a skeptical eye towards the over-hyped minor-leaguers, and most do all of their own scouting. No one trusts anybody else’s scouts anymore. But the Red Sox, recently, have taken it one step further. They have established, effectively, a trading book. Assets that they don’t ever intend to keep themselves, but that they own only to move out to the market. And with that, they’ve started to horde chips that are flashy hooks; stuff that jumps off the page. We saw this work in spades this year, when guys like Mike Francesa would gush about the Red Sox system; “Have you seen what the Red Sox are doing?? They’ve got six or seven guys who throw 98 coming up!! These guys are going to be good for 10 years!!!” Which, of course, is silly. The late-inning closer-graveyard is littered with the Mark Wohlers/Kyle Farnsworth types who throw 99 but couldn’t get anybody out. But you can’t easily hype a guy like Greg Maddux or Johan Santana (He throws 93, but bites the corners and makes umps give him calls like a man-ster!!!”). So the Red Sox go for guys who throw 99, purely to dangle him with just that tag-line. You can always hype that guy. And they turn those guys into Victor Martinez. Kudos to them.
So let’s get to the main event. Pardon me while i yawn profusely. Four years, boys. Four years ago right here the BPS hit everybody over the head time and time again about David Ortiz. Big Papi. Big HGH was, if I recall correctly (sarcasm added for effect), the name we gave him. Whatever guys. No big deal. You know. We were right. Whatever. I’m not even going to link to all of the posts. (Conveniently syncs with my sheer laziness). I guess the things that jump out at me are these. The number of people who said, “I’m devastated, but I’m not surprised.” Really? I remember all of the blood-curdling screams from everybody digging in to defend him. I love how everybody becomes an attorney when it suits them (They don’t have any hard evidence!! He’s never been implicated!! He never failed a drug test!! Innocent until proven guilty!!) Fine, guys. This isn’t a court of law. Not everything is a court of law. If you see a guy running away from a double-murder scene with blood on his shirt (for argument’s sake, let’s call this guy… Ray Lewis), is that a guy you’re going to want to hang with that a
fternoon? He’s innocent until proven guilty, right? Sometimes, common sense is the best guide. And common sense could clearly tell you, four years ago plus, that David Ortiz was perhaps the best example of everyone in the juice era. A guy who just burst out of absolutely nowhere to scrape the top of the record books and who was unconsciously automatic. Bonds was perhaps more automatic (you could probably also throw Manny in that category), but certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. Brady Anderson blew up from out of nowhere but was by no means as automatic. In terms of one guy who best exemplified the juiced-up superstar, it’s Big Papi. It has to be Big Papi. So now it’s out there.
So here’s the kicker. He’s still doing it. As is A-Rod, and Giambi, and Manny, and Pujols, and Posada, and Varitek, and on and on. You can’t test for HGH. The union won’t allow blood tests, folks. This is the crazy part of the PED era. The people that got caught are basically all still juicing… What a crazy thing! This begets some bizarre moments. I love all of the carefully crafted statements. Papi’s was classic. “I’m surprised, given the way I live my life, that I tested positive.” What does that mean, dude? That you’re surprised you got caught, given all of the effort you put into not getting caught? A-Rod’s was just as good. “I used steroids from 2001-2003.” Really? You mean before you had some statistically monster seasons, including a 57-bomb MVP season? Amazing…
One of the interesting things you’re hearing on talk radio this week is people saying that they should release the whole list already. I completely disagree. Why do that? This way is way better. Release them little by little. One superstar at a time. Why give these guys the gift of getting lost in a whole gaggle of names? These guys broke the rules, let them all get their little moment in the spotlight to face up to what they did. All by themselves… Do the crime, do the time.
We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. I like the team. I think they’ll make a good run. They do have this way of spitting it just when they’re at their peak, though. At least it’s fun again… Yankee baseball is fun again….