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June 15, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Hey everybody, I'm back. Happy Father's Day to all of you with kids, and happy Sunday to the rest of you. Go make some kids.

When last we met, the Yankees had just bounced back from being no-hit by the Houston Astros. That was a couple of days ago, but I haven't been able to post since then, so there's a couple of things I want to talk about.

The first is about me. Early in the game on Wednesday, Alfonso Soriano hit a ball to third that was ruled an error, but could conceivable have been ruled a hit. It really shouldn't have been ruled a hit, but it could have been. In 1996, I served for about 15 games as the Official Scorer for the Independent League Newark Barge Bandits. In that role, I had a personal policy on the first hit of the game. The first hit of the game always had to be a clean hit, one that could not possibly be ruled an error. That might sound kind of cheap, but I figured that I could change my ruling to a hit after the game anyway, and I didn't want someone to end up with a one-hitter because of a decision I made. I could change a hit to an error after the game, too, but then the pitcher wouldn't get his moment in the spotlight. In the spotlight in front of 50 people or so, but still a spotlight.

The other was about Jimy Williams' use of pitchers in the later innings of that came, particularly Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner. With the game already out of reach for the Yankees, Williams brought in his two best relief pitchers for no other purpose than to get a no-hitter. He was attempting to (and succeeded in) humiliating the Yankees in their own ballpark, in front of a nationally televised game. Aside from being a bush league move, it may have cost the Astros the game on Thursday, as the Yankees were able to get some good hits off Dotel to beat him in the eighth inning. That's a comforting thought, that Williams got what was coming to him. He uses his two best relief pitcher to embarrass the Yankees, and then goes off and loses three straight.

Don't look now, but the Yanks have won three straight games, four of five, and have won two series against two very good teams. The Cardinals' bullpen has been in tatters for the first two games of this series after the Boston Marathon, but the Yanks did push four runs across against Matt Morris yesterday, so they've still earned these victories. Unfortunately, Boston decided to start winning games the same day the Yankees do, and are still just ½ game out of first, which, as I've said several times, is about seven games back of where they should be. Toronto is still hanging on like a pit bull, only 2 games back, but I still don't think they'll be there in the end, no matter how nice a guy Keith Law was to me.

Jason Giambi apparently woke up a couple of weeks ago, saw that he was inexplicably leading the All-Star balloting for first basemen, and figured he needed to start playing like it. Hideki Matsui has remained en fuego, as well. If these two remain on a tear, they can carry the Yankees' offense by themselves, but on the other hand, Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter are doing whatever they can to drag it back down again. Fortunately, today's game brings an end the toughest part of their schedule. On Tuesday, they open up with Tampa Bay, beginning the cakewalk part of their schedule--the Devil Rays, the Mets, the Indians, the Red Sox.

The Yankees have gotten through this incredibly difficult portion of the season, at least until now, in first place, despite losing two of their best players to injuries, and in the end that's all that really matters.