Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

August 26, 2004

About Damn Time
by Larry Mahnken

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the struggles of Alex Rodriguez when a runner finds his way to second base. It's this bad: if Alex Rodriguez were to hit as well with a runner in scoring position as he does when there isn't one, his line this season would be .305/.383/.553/.937. We might not be talking MVP with those numbers, but nobody would be asking what's wrong with him, and the Yankees might not have to fend off one last run by the Red Sox.

For a while last night, it seemed certain that Inanimate Carbon-Rod and the Yankees were going to be sending their fans to bed unsatisfied, and furniture dealers in Fairport were going to get a bit wealthier.

With Sheffield on first and two out, ICR popped up to end the first inning, and Carlos Delgado put them behind 2-0 right away by crushing a ball into the right-center field seats. Orlando Hudson popped another 2-run shot in the third, and never did a 4-0 deficit feel so large to me. The weight of this recent slump began to push down on me, and I began to lose confidence.

Let me digress. We know that this is a slump, that this is not the real Yankees we're seeing out there. We know this is a slump because the numbers being put up by their players are even worse than even the biggest pessimist could have predicted, and that we can be almost entirely certain that these players will almost all put up numbers better than the past week and a half over the remainder of the season, and for most, those numbers will be appreciably better. We know that, considering the unusual fact that nearly the entire team has entered a slump at the same instance, the slump is likely to end soon, if gradually. And more than this, we know that because of the relative ease of the remaining schedule, the possibility of the Yankees dropping the final 5½ games of their lead and more is exceptionally unlikely, regardless of the events of the past week and a half. Even if Kevin Brown is out, that would have a much greater impact on their postseason fortunes than their chances of getting there.

But I am an emotional being, and often my logical conclusions are vetoed by my impatience, and I have, to a degree, lost faith in the entire Yankees lineup. Only Sheffield has my confidence, when anyone else comes up, particularly with two outs, I feel as though an out is certain. Of course this feeling will pass, but as I watched the game last night, this depair took over, and 4-0 felt like an insurmountable mountain.

Particularly considering that the Yankees had failed to get a single hit off of David Bush through the first four innings. But in the fifth, the lineup awoke. Well, maybe not awoke, but they showed signs.

Posada reached on a throwing error, John Olerud broke through with a single just in front of Reed Johnson, Cairo singled to left to load the bases. Lofton singled, bringing home Posada and keeping the bases loaded, and Bernie drove the ball to deep center to score another run. Jeter brought home one more with a base hit to center, and Sheffield walked to load the bases with one out.

And then ICR did his thing, bouncing a 2-0 pitch to short for a rally-killing double play.

My spirt had begun to lift before ICR's double play, and it immediately sunk again. Would they rally again, could they score that next run to tie it? I doubted it, but my doubts were answered with an RBI single with two outs in the sixth by Lofton, and the Yanks had a new game.

And Lieber had turned his game around admirably after his rough start. After giving up the homer to Hudson, Lieber had allowed a double and a walk, then retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced, keeping the game tied into the eighth. C.J. Nitkowski took over from there, getting the last two outs before the Yankees tried one more time to take the lead in the ninth.

Jeter led off with a walk, and on the first pitch, Gary Sheffield hit a ball down the left field line so hard that it traveled backwards in time and space, and killed the squirrel that was running in the outfield in Cleveland on Wednesday night. With runner on second and third and nobody out, only disaster could cost the Yankees the go-ahead run -- and disaster was coming up to the plate wearing #13. A swing and a miss, a foul ball, and A-Rod was quickly 0-2.

But just then a woman in white stood up in the stands, and a bolt of lightning streaked across the skydome, destroying the Jumbotron and killing 30 fans.

Rodriguez ripped a single into left, scoring both Jeter and Sheffield, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead. A balk and a base hit later and it was Enter Sandman, and the Yankees had won 3 of 4 -- albeit the hard way -- and retained their 5½ game lead for another day.

I highly doubt that a single base hit is going to end A-Rod's horrid struggles with RISP, but if they do end, last night is going to be remembered as a much more important game that it really was. It wasn't a meaningless game, of course, but it was hardly a must-win. But if A-Rod stops being Inanimate Carbon-Rod after that game, the impact of it will be monumental.

* * *

Not baseball-related, but I'd just like to extend my congratulations to local soccer hero Abby Wambach, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give the USA Women's Soccer team the gold medal. I'm sure she reads this site every day.

On a sorta baseball-related note, I didn't think it did while it was happening, but I guess the hiatus helped. I don't know where it went, and I'm still not sure what I'm doing, but I'm enjoying doing this again, and I feel like I'm back to where I was last year.

Let's see how long that keeps up, huh?