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September 6, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

Well, the Yankees had a bad weekend any way you spin it. Kevin Brown is out for most of, if not all of the rest of the season, Jason Giambi appears unlikely to return this year, and for the third straight series the Yankees dropped a game in the standings, again while playing a team they should have beat while Boston played a team they shouldn't have beat up on.

This is, sadly, the nature of the game. The unexpected happens, sometimes you don't play as well as you should, and right now the Yankees are paying for it. We can take comfort in it's transient nature, and know that eventually the Yankees will probably start beating up on teams again, hopefully just in time to play the Red Sox.

But it's frustrating as hell, and it's getting to the team. It cost them a starting pitcher.

Now, I'm not trying to say that what Kevin Brown did was okay, but it is, to me, understandable. Fits of rage are my area of expertise, I've punched many walls and thrown many chairs in my day. Seriously, I'm mentally disturbed. But I know what it's like to feel like Kevin Brown did on Friday night.

You're full of frustration, things aren't going like you want them to, and you can't do anything about it. The rage and frustration builds up inside of you and overwhelms all your emotions and thoughts, you need to get it out. Yelling can sometimes get it out, but the quickest and most effective way to release it is to physically attack something. It's easy to say that he should have taken a bat to a water cooler or thrown a chair, but you're not thinking when you're feeling like that. He didn't think about punching the wall, he just did it because he had to do something.

What he should have done was realize ahead of time that this rage was boiling up, and find something to destroy before he was unable to think. That, not the actual wall-punching, was the really stupid thing, because that was when he would have been able to do something about it, and he should know himself well enough by now to see the rage coming, and that he might end up hurting himself.

But we've gotta let it go, it happened, it's over. If the Yankees void his contract, then they void his contract, and they can spend that money on Pedro (just as fragile, more effective), Carl Pavano or Matt Clement. But for now, let's not worry about it.

People are talking about the Yankees' remaining postseason rotation as if it's the worst ever assembled. Mike Mussina and Javier Vazquez haven't pitched well this year, but they're not bad pitchers. They do have the ability to dominate, they've done it for several years in the past. They can do it in the postseason. Will they? I don't know, but they very well could, so don't tear your hair out over it. I have much more confidence in a Duque/Moose/Vazquez/Lieber postseason rotation than most people. They don't need to be great, they just need to be good enough, and that they can be.

As for the relatively unimportant division race, the Yankees might catch a break if the Devil Rays have trouble getting to the ballpark today. The start of the game has been pushed back to 3:00, but if they can't make it in time, then the Yankees might press for a forfeit. And they should.

Tampa Bay knew days ago that their weekend games were cancelled, and they had to be in New York for a 1:00 start. They knew there was a hurricane coming, and that getting out of town was going to be tough. If they can't make it, it's nobody's fault but their own, and they deserve to forfeit. If you're a Red Sox fan, and this happens, don't get pissed at the Yankees, get pissed at the Devil Rays.