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August 4, 2004

The Eternal Suckage of Kowalsky
by Larry Mahnken

There's this guy who posts in Baseball Think Factory's Game Chatters, Jeter's #1 Fan, who a few months ago started complaining about this guy he knew, Kowalsky. And the Yankees started a rally. Being the superstitious sort, we picked up on this, and whenever a Yankees rally was desired, we would mention how much Kowalksy sucked. And while it doesn't always work, it's kind of funny how it does sometime. Kowalsky was invoked when Cairo tied the game against the Red Sox on July 1st, and last night, with one out and Derek Jeter up, SG brought up the eventual need of a nickname for new Yankee C.J. Nitkowski. I suggested C.J. Kowalski, since he sucks.

Bam, single by Jeter, homer by Sheffield, tied game. In the bottom of the eleventh, with one out and Sheffield up, Kowalsky's suckiness was again mentioned. Single by Sheff, homer by the Inanimate Carbon-Rod, Yankees win.

A-Rod's homer last night felt, to me, like the least exciting dramatic home run ever. It may be because Rodriguez's terribly frustrating inabilty to perform in anything resembling a clutch situation this season left one with the feeling, "It's about damn time". Had this taken place in May, it would have been seen as the moment when he "earned his pinstripes" (sjohnny says he probably earned them with the bases-loaded double play in the great Boston game), as it is, it was just a nice end to a game that didn't mean all that much to the Yankees.

The most desirable outcome last night would have been a win by Loaiza, but the new Yankee starter pitched disturbingly like the old one, walking four, hitting one and giving up two home runs. Loaiza's in a terrible slump over the past two months, pitching even worse than he did before last year, but to judge this trade by one start each by the pitchers traded is pretty stupid. But regardless of who "won" or "lost" the trade, the Yankees have to be disappointed with Loaiza's performance.

The new first baseman, John Olerud, made a positive first impression, hitting two singles in his first two at-bats, but not doing much of anything else the rest of the way. Olerud's been pretty horrible in the past year, but if he can turn it around a little bit to become "pretty mediocre", then the Yankees should, and probably will be happy. Joe Torre's optimistic about Jason Giambi's return (3 weeks seems a little fast for me), but if that's the case, he should be healthy and back in playing shape by the time the playoffs start.

And of course the playoffs are not even close to being a question mark for the Yankees anymore. 9 games up in the East, the only real question seems to be whether they'll have Home Field Advantage. With a six-game lead on the Twins, that's looking pretty good, too.

What's bizzare about this whole season is how many things have gone very wrong for the Yankees, and how few things have gone right, and yet they're still on a pace to win over 100 games. That might catch up with them in October, but a lot of what's gone wrong -- Jeter and ICR's bats, Giambi's health, Mussina's suckiness and his and Brown's health, might not be concerns then, and all could go well.

Really, it's all gone downhill since 1998, maybe even 1996. Since then, anything less than a title has felt almost like total failure, when in 1992 we would have killed to win two pennants in three years. Do we feel entitled? No, but we're definitely spoiled. I don't look forward to the inevitable down period (though when that'll be, I'm not sure), but the one positive that will come out of it is when they return to the top, it'll feel fresh. At least, that's what I hope.