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June 18, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Okay, today I'm going to write a completely positive post! Honest!

The Yankees won today, and with the Red Sox loss, they've stretched their lead in the AL East to 1½ games over Boston. Clemens took a no-hitter into the eighth, and Alfonso Soriano got a big hit to win the game in the tenth. Juan Rivera got a couple of doubles, and maybe he'll start hitting some. A win is a win, and after tonight, they have a 7-2 record in the last nine games. And every day is another day closer to Bernie's return, as well as Nick's--although that's kind of like saying every day is another day closer to death. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you have no idea when.

Damn it, it's easier to be negative! Must...resist...urge to bitch...

In pure talent, the Yankees are the best team in the American League East, and one of the very best in baseball. When healthy, they have as good a lineup as any team, and their rotation is deep and talented. Mike Mussina is probably the only "ace" on the staff, but Clemens and Wells will give good efforts most of the times, and can shut a team down on a good day. We don't really know what we're going to get out of Contreras yet. The weak links in the rotation are Pettitte and Weaver, who have been inconsistent, at best. I'm not sure why Pettitte is so inconsistent, but it seems to me that Weaver is just really unlucky. He gets no run support, and balls in play fall in at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, he seems to be getting frustrated by his bad luck, and it affected his pitching yesterday. If he keeps his head on straight, that luck should turn around, and he'll get better results.

The Yankees' problem is in the fringes--the bullpen, bench and defense. The first two are easier to fix than a hole in the lineup or starting pitching, although the injuries to Bernie and Nick have made those weaknesses from the bench weaknesses in the lineup. That won't be the case in the postseason, hopefully, and I feel confident that if the offense comes through in October and the starters pitch well, those weaknesses can be overcome in the games that count.

I'm not very good at being optimistic. Maybe they'll lose tomorrow, and I can yell and scream.