Look what people have to say about Larry Mahnken's commentary!
"Larry, can you be any more of a Yankee apologist?.... Just look past your Yankee myopia and try some objectivity." - Bernal Diaz
"Mr. Mahnken is enlightened." - cordially, as always,
"Wow, Larry. You've produced 25% of the comments on this thread and
said nothing meaningful. That's impressive, even for you." - Anonymous
"After reading all your postings and daily weblog...I believe you have truly become the Phil Pepe of this generation. Now this is not necessarily a good thing." - Repoz
"you blog sucks, it reeds as it was written by the queer son of mike lupica and roids clemens. i could write a better column by letting a monkey fuk a typewriter. i dont need no 181 million dollar team to write a blog fukkk the spankeees" - yan
"i think his followers have a different sexual preference than most men" - bob
"Boring and predictable." - No Guru No Method
"Are you the biggest idiot ever?" - Randal
"I'm not qualified to write for online media, let alone mainstream
media." - Larry Mahnken
This site is best viewed with a monitor.
Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.
With Brian Cashman's return, it looks like things are changing, at least if you believe the article linked above. I picked out a few of the quotes from Brian Cashman that I found the most encouraging.
Cashman spoke Thursday of "splintering," in which members of one faction would voice displeasure with certain philosophies and opinions.
"Obviously, that can create a lot of different potholes along the way as we all travel in the same direction," Cashman said. ... "I want to be that filter," Cashman said. "Everything goes through me. With the chain of command, I think everyone involved wants it that way. We've all suffered this year in different ways because of the splintering. I think everyone involved wants it to be streamlined." ... Under what the Yankees hope to be a revitalized plan of structure, Cashman said he is eyeing several changes, most notably a reduction in payroll. ... As the Yankees showed by testing young players like Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang this season, a high-end player may not be necessary at every position. Cashman said he plans to target a simple blueprint that places a re-emphasis on the club's Minor League player development -- which already hosts potential impact players at lower levels -- and international scouting. ... In Cashman's description of the model, free agency and trades would be used to "finish off" a club, not serve as the bedrock of the organization. ... "It's going to work closer to how the other 29 clubs work," Cashman said. ... "We have the most money, there's no secret about that," Cashman said. "If you combine that with the best decision-making process on a consistent basis, then God help the rest of baseball."
This is the first real confirmation from someone in the Yankee organization that there were real differences between Tampa and New York, and that they were counter-productive and detrimental to the team on the field. I find these quotes to be very heartening, because it is closer to what brought the late 90s Yankees their victories.
We'll likely never know what fully goes on behind the scenes in the Yankee organization, but there's no denying that their success on the field has hidden a very inefficiently run team. There are those who will argue with critics that say it doesn't matter what the Yankee payroll is, but think about this. Instead of paying Mark Prior enough to sign him when he was drafted out of high school, they saved that money and used it years later on Tony Womack.
Relying on your minor league system is not just good financial baseball, it's more fun to watch. We saw it this year with Cano and Wang, who gave us flashes of brilliance with hopes of greater performances to come. For my money as a fan, it's far more rewarding to see a player develop in the majors, than bring in a known quantity, particularly one who may have contributed to beating your team at an earlier time.
When you bring in free agents, you are bringing in guys who very likely have already had their best season. When you develop your own players, you can have a run like 1996-2000.
The Yankees could very possibly collapse under the weight of their collective ages and contracts. It's good to see that they are at least talking about seeing the error in their ways and amending it.
At this point, it's just talk, but it should be a very interesting offseason. --posted at 8:39 PM by SG / |
Brian Cashman has decided to remain with the New York Yankees as general manager.
Confirming published reports, Cashman told a high-ranking executive of another major league club today that he’s staying with the Yankees. Cashman, according to one source, will be paid $2.2 million a year, making him the highest paid general manager in baseball. The deal is for at least three years.
Cashman has been the Yankees’ general manager for the last eight years.
Thanks to Joseph P. for the link. I think this is good news, particularly if it means less dysfunction between New York and Tampa. Now onto player acquisitions. --posted at 6:01 PM by SG / |
NEW YORK -- Ron Guidry's attorney yesterday confirmed the Yankees have approached him about becoming pitching coach.
"There are talks going on, and I think that's all we really want to say at this point," Reggie Ringuet said.
Guidry, the 1978 Cy Young Award-winner while with the Yankees, has been serving as a spring-training instructor. But Ringuet said now that Guidry's youngest child is out of high school, he is willing to consider spending the seven or eight months away from home required by a full-time position.
"He does have interest in this job," Ringuet said. "If he's ever going to do this, this is the time. If the Yankees afford him the opportunity, he'll take a good, hard look at it."
The Yankees are close to signing Larry Bowa as third-base coach and are believed to be interested in bringing back Lee Mazzilli as bench coach.
Moving on from the failed overture to Leo Mazzone, and with Don Cooper not an option since he is signed through 2006 and his team is two wins away from the World Series championship, the Yankees have apparently chosen Ron Guidry as their candidate for pitching coach.
I'm not sure how to feel about this. Gator was one of my favorite Yankees growing up, and if not for a delayed start to his career he'd have a worthy case for being a borderline Hall of Famer. That doesn't necessarily mean he's going to be a good pitching coach. Mazzone never appeared in the majors. Neither did Ray Miller, another universally praised pitching coach.
Joe Torre has supposedly endorsed Guidry, which is unusual. For a guy who prefers experience over talent, Guidry, who has never served as a pitching coach on any level, would seem to be a less than desireable option. The sum of his experience is spending some time with pitchers as a spring-training instructor.
That's not to say that Guidry won't do a good job. We just don't know. I just think that it's a risk, and could pay off big, or blow up spectacularly.
The Larry Bowa rumors are interesting. Universally derided as a bad manager, it's pretty universally acknowledged that he was one of the best third base coaches in baseball. We all know that Luis Sojo was over-aggressive, but Bowa has built a reputation for good instincts and I think this will be fine. I don't worry about his famed temper or shaky player evaluation skills, since they won't be much of a factor in his role as a third base coach.
We should know this week if Brian Cashman is returning. Salary is apparently not the issue, but control is. If he gets the greater authority that he is seeking, I think it will be a good thing. If he walks, then I am concerned that this means that the dysfunction prevalent in the Yankee organization that is preventing them from achieving what they are capable will continue, and probably get worse.
Once all this coaching and front office stuff gets sorted, then we should start to see the plans for the players transpire. I really want B.J. Ryan to be signed, perhaps more than anyone else. --posted at 9:57 AM by SG / |
Leo Mazzone decided earlier this morning to end discussions with the Yankees, according to a person familiar with the renowned Braves’ pitching coach’s thinking.
The Yankees confirmed that talks broke down in a statement released just after 5 p.m.
The Yankees’ window to speak with Mazzone was apparently up sometime yesterday and they received a 24-hour extension, but talks didn’t progress far enough.
“The window to speak with Leo Mazzone closed at 5 p.m.,” the Yankee statement said. “Both sides agreed to end their discussions without a resolution."
Not good news. I'm guessing it was not a money issue, but likely a control issue. We'll see if any further details emerge. I'm not sure who's next in the pecking order, but I can bet he's not as good. --posted at 5:51 PM by SG / |
From the linked article above in the Washington Post:
Baltimore, according to one team source, has in interest in Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone, a close friend of Perlozzo, but does not want to proceed until Miller's status is determined. The Orioles may face stiff competition for Mazzone. According to a source, the New York Yankees have asked for permission to speak to the pitching coach. The Braves, according to the source, have granted a small window for the Yankees and Mazzone to speak. If the Orioles have serious interest in Mazzone, they may have to force a decision from Miller. Perlozzo said he planned to visit Miller this week.
More than any player, Mazzone could have a huge impact on this team over the short and long-terms.
I would love to see the Yankees throw whatever it would take at him to sign him, but the Yankees have to be cognizant of the salary structure for management and coaching and can't risk throwing that out of balance by paying their pitching coach more than their GM or manager.
An interesting question was posed to me. As many of you know, I'm not a huge Joe Torre fan. However, it is very likely that Mazzone would not come unless Torre stayed. So, would keeping Torre be worth Mazzone?
I think it would be.
Update One of our blog readers had a question that I was not able to answer. If anyone knows the answer, please post it in the comments section.
I'm writing a memoir-ish type article on the Yanks, and was remembering the first time I went to the Stadium in 2000. At that time, I feel like one of the first things I saw was Babe Ruth's #3 jersey hanging on the left-field wall. Now, I don't seem to remember it being there in recent years, although I may have just not been paying close attention. But did it, by chance, used to hang there, say in the Summer of 2000? Or is my memory playing tricks on me, and what I really saw were all the retired numbers that are out there? --posted at 9:29 AM by SG / |
October 13, 2005
Unfair bashing by SG
The Yankees loss to Anaheim was frustrating, and disappointing. Naturally, rather than accept the fact that the Yankee were perhaps outplayed by a better team, people instead chose to blame a scapegoat.
Here are the facts. The Yankees won 95 games this year. If they lost 2 fewer games, they may not have even been in the postseason. The biggest reason they made the playoffs was their third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. However, due to 5 bad games that were not that bad, people want to run him out of town. It's short-sighted, it's unfair, and it's just plain stupid.
The Angels were clearly afraid of Rodriguez in this series, and pitched him very carefully. Rodriguez's OBP was .435. He was walked 6 times in 5 games. He stranded a grand total of 6 runners. If you want a scapegoat, how about Gary Sheffield, who hit .286/.318/.286 and stranded 17. If not Sheffield, how about Hideki Matsui, who hit .200/.273/.400 and stranded 14? How about our $16 million ace, Randy Johnson, and his horrendous start in Game 3? How about Joe Torre and his love for the hit and run in Game 5 against a wild rookie who had just come into the game?
Rodriguez did not play well, but let's face it, he was far from the only problem on this team in this round, and the use of selective endpoints to make his Yankee postseason career seem worse than it is is the weakest kind of argument from people.
Here's another fact, the Yankees are paying Derek Jeter more per year than Alex Rodriguez. They're paying Randy Johnson more per year than Alex Rodriguez. They're paying Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi more per year than Alex Rodriguez. Why do I have to keep hearing about his 10 year, $252 million contract when he's a) already played 3 years of it for another team, and b) his remaining salary is being subsidized by his former team?
Anyway, I just had to get this off my chest.
In other news, from the NY Post by way of Sankei Sports in Japan, the Yankees "are poised to offer Hideki Matsui a three-year deal worth $35.5 million."
My first thought is that this is an overpay, based on Matsui's age and fielding issues. However, it's not that egregious of one, and being only 3 years it has little likelihood of being a bad signing. It would be an even better signing to me if the Yankees would entertain the thought of playing Matsui in center, but putting him in left with a stop gap like Jay Payton or Dave Roberts may also make sense. Neither is much of a hitter, but both are good defensive players who would help the Yankee pitching staff immensely.
I also think the Yankees should make a push for B.J. Ryan, but other than that I have not really spent much time thinking about how the Yankee offseason should progress. I guess it makes sense to wait and see if Brian Cashman is still around before trying to figure out what the Yankees are going to do. --posted at 8:22 PM by SG / |
(New York -WABC, October 12, 2005) - New York Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said Wednesday he will definitely not be returning to the Bronx Bombers, but isn't sure if he is retiring from baseball. Stottlemyre said his last game as a Yankees was their loss Monday night to the Angels in Game 5 of the American League Division Series. He said he made the decision to leave the Yankees back in May, but did not plan to announce it until the season ended.
The 63-year-old said he was looking forward to returning to his winter home in Seattle. He did not know if he was retiring from baseball.
Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said the hometown Seattle Mariners were not currently considering Stottlemyre for their vacant pitching coach job.
Yankee Manager Joe Torre, expected to address the media today, was a no show. There was no date set for his highly-anticipated question and answer session with the media.
However, several Yankee players were at the clubhouse to clean out their lockers.
Something tells me this is just the start of what's going to be a hectic offseason. I wish Mel good health, but I'm not sad to see him go. --posted at 4:56 PM by SG / |
Obviously good for baseball by Larry Mahnken
Overnight Neilsen ratings:
2004 ALCS Game One: 5.3, first among households 2005 ALCS Game One: 3.1, fourth among households
In many ways it's preferable to have both the Yankees and Red Sox out, but to say it's good for baseball -- only if fewer people paying attention is good for baseball. --posted at 1:28 PM by Larry Mahnken / |
October 11, 2005
Rebuilding the Imperfect Machine by Larry Mahnken
So, they lost. I'm angry, because of how they lost -- had Crosby not run into Sheffield, I figure they probably would have won that game, had Torre pulled Mussina a little faster, acting like it was actually an elimination game and Anaheim actually had a bullpen that was capable of holding a 2-run lead, they might have won that game. But, I'll get over it. As I said earlier, I'm satisfied with what I got out of this season -- they had their first real pennant race since 1995, and that was enjoyable enough for me.
Still, it's a failure. Derek Jeter was upfront about that after the game, and the mere fact that they spent $200 million on this team makes it a fact. They failed.
There have been other high-paid failures, several of them from the Bronx. This was is the most disgraceful, because of the amount spent. For $200 million, you shouldn't have to struggle to make the playoffs, and you shouldn't be so brutally exposed in a way that everyone could see coming as the Yankees were. For $200 million, you shouldn't have holes. You should be solid everywhere, strong in some places, and generally carry and aura of inevitability. I'm not saying that would be a good thing, but that's how it should be, for $200 million.
They need to go at it again, and now it's a year too late. Last year, there was a young, talented centerfielder who could fill the position for the next seven years effectively, this year there's Johnny Damon.
But that's the past, now they've gotta do what they can.
There are several players leaving the team now, and some who could leave as free agents. There are 20 players who will be returning next season, including seven starting pitchers: Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, Wright, Wang, Chacon and Small. It's not a great rotation, but could be quite good, and they shouldn't look for any starters this year. Not that there really are any good choices.
The bullpen is now Rivera, Sturtze (assuming they pick up the option) and Scott Proctor. This is more of a positive than a negative, since Gordon is they only effective reliever they have to re-sign, and the rest of the garbage can be left behind.
The lineup is basically the same. Posada, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez and Sheffield are all returning; Tino and Bernie are almost certainly gone, and Matsui can sign elsewhere if he chooses (though he's likely to return). Again, not much pickings on the market, so this is generally a positive.
On the bench, Flaherty and Sierra are free agents, and should be let go. Whether they will be -- well, they should be. Womack and Crosby are returning, though Crosby can obviously be cut for free if they get a legit backup outfielder.
So they need a starting DH (or first baseman), a starting centerfielder, a backup catcher and first baseman, and bullpen help.
Tino Martinez was brought in to give Jason Giambi time off at first base and provide good defense. Except for a couple of weeks in May, his offense was putrid, and his defense has clearly slipped badly. It was nice to see Tino back in New York, but they really have to let him go and retire.
There are two options here. If the Yankees want to fill their need at DH with this hole, Paul Konerko is a free agent, though the White Sox will clearly want to re-sign him, and a big ALCS (and possibly World Series) would make him overpriced. Still, he'd be a good bat.
But they have a good bat at first -- Giambi, and really his throwing is the only bad thing about his defense, and his OPS is 140 points higher at first in his career than it is at DH. They should play Giambi at first everyday and get a gloveman to back him up, and replace him on defense in the late innings.
Doug Mientkiewicz. He's not a good hitter, so there probably won't be much temptation to play him every day, but he's spectacular defensively, and shouldn't cost too much. The DH bat would be better filled by signing a fourth outfielder and cycling Sheffield/Matsui/Giambi through the spot.
Like Reggie Sanders. He's got all the postseason experience the Yankees want, having played in October six times, and five of the last six years. He's solid offensively and defensively, and has played all three outfield positions. With a DH rotation in effect, he'll get regular playing time, and be more useful off the bench than Ruben Sierra.
Center is the big hole. Maybe the Yankees can swing a trade for Torii Hunter, or sign Johnny Damon. Either will provide good defense and reasonable offense, and certainly an upgrade over Bernie.
They could try something bold, though. Bill Mueller is a free agent, and the Red Sox will likely let him walk. The Yankees could shift Derek Jeter to center, A-Rod back to short, and put Mueller at third... well, we've been advocating this kind of thing for years. It's not going to happen. But it would probably be better than just signing Damon.
As for the bullpen, the Yankees need lots of help. The first, obvious move is to re-sign Gordon. The second, equally obvious move is to sign B.J. Ryan, who will provide the team with not only a strong second setup man, but the lefty reliever they've been desperate for.
The team can't stop there, they'll need at least one, maybe two more good relievers, and fortunately there are options available. Julian Tavarez, Bobby Howry, Mike Timlin -- maybe Ugueth Urbina? These aren't stoppers, even with the closer label some of them have, but they can all do something the Yankees need -- pitch the middle innings effectively.
All told, the Yankees have about $33 million coming off the books this offseason, and if they're willing to spend a little bit more than they did this year, they'll have enough money to buy up all those players.
As for a backup catcher, I'd like to see them bring in someone with a little offense who can give Posada effective time off -- they'll probably bring someone in like Flaherty who can't hit a lick, so they'll call him a defensive catcher.
They're already buying players, and they've been losing. There's no point in trying to create an impression that they're not doing it, they just need to start doing it right.
Are these the right guys? I dunno. But they're who I'd sign. --posted at 1:52 PM by Larry Mahnken / |
October 10, 2005
It's Over by SG
And it sucks. I don't feel like writing much about it right now, but vent away.
It wasn't pretty, and it was freaking nerve-wracking, and for five innings it was downright aggravating. However, the Yankees held the Angels to two runs, and scratched out three, and forced a Game 5 tomorrow night in some place in California.
Shawn Chacon pitched outstanding last night. However, in the top of the sixth a leadoff walk and two doubles gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. With the pathetic performance by the Yankee lineup to that point, I thought the game was over. John Lackey was dominating over five innings, despite working on three days rest. The Yankees managed to pull out a run in the bottom of the sixth.
Chacon still looked strong to me starting the seventh, as he retired Garret Anderson on a foul popup and then gave up a first pitch single to Bengie Molina, who is a royal pain in the ass. I would have let Chacon face one more hitter, particularly since Darri Erstad was due up and Chacon had handled him pretty easily. Chacon had only thrown 87 pitches, but he was pulled for Al Leiter.
A lot of us keep waiting for Leiter to bomb, but he's been fine in this series when kept on a short leash. He got a double play from Erstad to end the inning, and the Yankees went to bat in the bottom of the 7th. The Yankees scored two with an infield single from Robinson Cano, a clutch 3-2 walk by Jorge Posada, and then came another decision.
I was a big proponent of starting Bubba Crosby in CF due to the defensive upgrade, but as he came up now in a huge spot, it was pretty obvious that he had to be pulled. Ruben Sierra came on, and despite having a pretty horrendous season, he is still a dangerous hitter when the pitcher makes a mistake. He ripped a game-tying single.
Derek Jeter then grounded to third, and with Posada running on contact from third there was a play at the plate. Although the play at home was pretty close, it looked like a good call by the umpire, with Posada just beating the tag from Molina. The Yankees then proceeded to load the bases with only one out and a 3-2 lead and Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield due up, but got nothing else.
This could very easily have come back to bite them in the ass, except for one thing. Mariano Rivera. Rivera was put into the game for two innings, as Joe Torre removed his DH to put Bernie Williams in CF and double-switch Giambi out for defense. Given the options, this was probably the best way to handle it. I suppose they could have left Tony Womack in the game after he pinch-ran for Ruben Sierra and put him in LF with Matsui moving to center, but Womack hasn't played the OF in months.
River threw 36 pitches over two perfect innings, to nail down the victory and force a game 5. To predict what will happen would be a waste of time. Mike Mussina could be outstanding, or he could be awful. Rivera is likely only going to be available for one inning, but the rest of the staff should all be on hand as needed.
I'm not ready for the season to end just yet. Let's hope they pull one out tomorrow. --posted at 11:10 PM by SG / |
October 8, 2005
Research Help by Larry Mahnken
I'm looking for people to help me with some research, it's a volunteer effort, but I want people who'll finish the work they volunteer to do.
You had to figure that if the Yankees were to somehow win the World Series this season, it wouldn't be easy. With a lousy effort last night, the Yankees find themselves in the precarious position of having to win two straight games against a team that's had their number for most of the Joe Torre era.
Randy Johnson pitched terribly, but that's the nature of pitching. If not for his efforts over the last 2 months of the year, the Yankees would not be here. Still, he had nothing and it was obvious when even the outs he got in the first inning were tatooed to the warning track.
When Aaron Small relieved Johnson in the fourth with runners on the corners and no outs and got out it with a K and a nicely turned double play by Robinson Cano, I thought the Yankees could come back. And they did, turning a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 lead.
Unfortunately for Small, Joe Torre felt the need to get Tino Martinez's bat in the lineup. Tino went 0 for 4, which was a problem. The larger problem was that Tino at first means Bernie Williams in centerfield. Two possibly catchable balls in the sixth turned the 6-5 lead back into a 7-6 deficit.
Tom Gordon came in to start the 7th and was as bad as Johnson, allowing 3 baserunners, although the third was not his fault. After a roped single by Vlad Guerrero and a hit batsmen, Juan Rivera grounded to Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez noticed that they had a play at second base and threw to Robinson Cano. The play was slow to develop, and Cano had to leave the bag a little bit early after catching the ball to avoid a possible injury. Joe West decided that although the phantom play at second is almost always called due to the inherent injury risk of a sliding baserunner, that Cano should sacrifice his health for the out, and called the runner safe. It was a big play, but not the difference-maker in this game. Joe Torre summoned Al Leiter out of the pen into a bases-loaded, no out situation. Leiter did ok, with a squeeze bunt scoring a 9th run, and the Yankees then trailed 9-6.
We've seen Leiter be relatively effective in short bursts as a reliever, but when asked to pitch longer than an inning he tends to implode. That's what happened in the 8th, as a leadoff triple and an intentional walk put two runners on for Scott Proctor, who gave up two singles and two more runs.
Basically, I've written this team off. I figured they had to win Randy Johnson's game to win this series. It's certainly possible that they can win two straight, although it would seem to only be a matter of time before luck catches up with Shawn Chacon. Even if Chacon comes up big later today(weather permitting), what are the chances that Mike Mussina pitches another good game? I hope I'm wrong, I've certainly been wrong about this team many times before this season.
I wonder if it is a coincidence that the only game that the Yankees have won so far had Bubba Crosby in center? Sadly, I sense that Joe Torre's solution to the team's struggles today will be Ruben Sierra's bat, instead of Crosby's glove.
Maybe we should just pray for rain. --posted at 1:40 AM by SG / |
October 6, 2005
Chien-Ming Wang pitched well tonight, but his defense failed him.
The Yankee offense could only muster two runs off John Lackey, but aside from a fifth inning HR by Juan Rivera, Wang looked like he would make it stand up. Throwing 95-96 mph sinkers and pounding the strike zone, Wang had thrown only 58 pitches through five innings, 41 of them strikes.
Unfortunately, Alex Rodriguez completely misplayed a chopper from Orlando Cabrera to lead off the sixth. A ground out moved Cabrera into scoring position, and a two-out single tied the game at 2.
Rodriguez had a chance at redemption in the top of the seventh. After drawing a leadoff walk, he consumed a lot of attention from Angels reliever Kelvin Escobar, who kept throwing to first. On 1-2, Rodriguez decided to steal, the Angels called for a pitchout and nailed him. Any momentum in the inning from the leadoff walk was snuffed out, and the Yankees failed to do anything else.
The wheels came off in the bottom of the seventh. A high Baltimore chop by Rivera and a dive into first got the leadoff man on. Wang's throw to first on a Steve Finley bunt pulled Robinson Cano off the bag. Another bunt moved the runners to second and third. Wang then got a very shallow fly to centerfield, and was one out away from pitching out of it. Unfortunately, he got a pitch up and Orlando Cabrera rifled a single to left centerfield, and the go-ahead runs scored. Al Leiter came on to relieve Wang, and got Garret Anderson, but it was too little too late. Torre strangely left Leiter in to face Vlad Guerrero in the 8th, and Leiter shockingly got him out. Bengie Molina followed with a HR, and then Erstad fouled out to Rodriguez. Torre then went to Scott Proctor, since it's apparently ok to have Leiter face Guerrero, but not Robb Quinlan.
In the top of the ninth, Jorge Posada led off with a HR to cut the deficit to 5-3. However, Tino Martinez struck out pretty meekly, Derek Jeter grounded out to short, and Alex Rodriguez capped off a lousy game for himself by grounding out to third to end the game.
It was an annoying loss, mainly because I had to stay up to watch it, but I still think that a split against a good team on the road is a decent situation. I am concerned about the defense that was on display tonight. The Yankees defense is a known weakness, but they had been playing pretty well in the last month. With people like Wang and Chacon who are not strikeout pitchers, they can't afford any defensive miscues.
Let's just hope for better on Friday. --posted at 1:15 AM by SG / |
October 5, 2005
Warm Little Center by Larry Mahnken
For the first time... well, probably ever, I don't care if the Yankees get beat. Oh, I'll be ecstatic if they win, but if they lose, I can deal with that. No furniture will be broken (which is good, since my parents probably wouldn't appreciate that), there will be no tears, no anguish. I am the warm little center that the life of this world crowds around.
Because I didn't think the Yankees would be here. I mean, in April I did, or for the first half of April. I started to doubt, as everyone did, at the month's end, and in early May when they fell to 11-19, and then when they went on a 3-11 skid after their hot streak. For the past month and a half, every loss felt like the end, a lost opportunity the Yankees couldn't afford to throw away, but as it turned out, they could afford it -- but they spent up all they could afford. When they came down the homestretch 15-3, I was still thinking, every day, it's gonna end soon. They're going to lose a game they can't, and Boston will put them away. The Indians will put them away. It'll end soon.
Even heading into Fenway a game up, I felt that pit in my stomach -- it'll end in Fenway. They'll get to a playoff game, and it'll end at home -- or even worse, they'll lose two playoff games, two chances to make it in. All this will be for naught.
But, they made it in. On Saturday morning, I was hopeful that they'd make it in, considered it likely that they'd get at least one playoff game, but pessimistic about their chances. Only a few hours later, they were in. It happened that fast.
And now I don't care if they lose, because at some point this season almost stopped being about winning the World Series and just about making the playoffs. For most of the season, even when they were "in" the playoffs, people were counting them out, even the last week of the season. But they did it, they made it in, and that feels like enough.
Of course it won't be enough for the team itself, they'll only be satisfied with a championship, and they certainly are good enough to win one. They're flawed, but everyone is. Their starting pitching is actually not that bad right now, assuming that Chacon and Wang are really the pitchers they appear to be, and Good Moose is in the house. The back of the bullpen is lights-out, and the lineup is ungodly. They're not great, but they're probably better than the 2000 Yankees, who faced a tougher 1st round opponent in Oakland. They can win. I hope they do.
But if not, well, that's how it goes.
Yeah, I know. Through the looking glass, huh? --posted at 6:53 AM by Larry Mahnken / |
October 4, 2005
Moose by SG
When Joe Torre announced that Mike Mussina would not be making the start on Sunday so he could start Game 1 of the playoffs, a lot of people questioned it, and rightfully so. Mussina had been inconsistent and then injured, and had 2 starts after coming back from the DL, one good and one lousy.
I felt it was a risk worth taking, because without Mussina this team is going to have a tough time advancing, and if he threw up a clunker, the Yankees would still have room to recover.
Moose did not throw up a clunker. Instead, he pitched very well, mixing a 90 mph fastball and good curve with some command. He only lasted 5.2 due to some long AB, but did not walk a batter, and left with a 4-0 lead. He was supported by some good defense by Bubba Crosby and Hideki Matsui. Crosby may not get a hit in this whole series, but I think he should play almost every game in CF. I'd possibly not start him for the games that Chien-ming Wang starts, due to Wang's extreme ground-ball tendencies, but other than that I think the Yankees can live with him.
I thought Joe Torre managed an almost perfect game tonight. When Mussina started tiring in the sixth, he pulled him at the right time. I thought Al Leiter pitching to Darin Erstad was the right move, and I thought pulling him after Erstad was retired was also the right move as well. As inconsistent as Leiter has been this year, as a reliever his first innings have been pretty good. I have more faith in him as the lefty reliever than I would with Alan Embree right now, although I think he needs to be watched extremely closely, and pulled at the first signs of trouble. I would have rather seen Aaron Small relieve Leiter instead of Tanyon Sturtze, but Torre wisely did not give Sturtze enough time to implode. He brought in Flash Gordon at the right time, who pitched well despite needing two difficult catches in RF by Gary Sheffield to keep his line perfect.
Mariano Rivera did not have sharp control tonight, but he managed to get the job done, and the Yankees took back the home field advantage that the Yankees lost on Sunday.
I felt that the Yankees had to split one of the first two games in Anaheim to win this series, and this was a good start. I'd love to see Chien-ming Wang baffle the Angels tomorrow, and as a team that does not work the count he may do okay against them. However, even if they lose tomorrow I think they'll be in decent shape coming back to the Bronx.
On a completely unrelated note, I hope all the people who ran Jose Contreras out of town got to watch him dominate the Red Sox today. Would Contreras have succeeded in New York? Maybe not. The question is why wouldn't he? It's not because of some mythical ability to "pitch in New York", it is because of the coaching staff and support(or lack thereof) that he is receiving in Chicago that he was not receiving in New York. --posted at 11:21 PM by SG / |
Predictions by Larry Mahnken
Post your postseason predictions here.
Mine: Angels over Yankees in Four Red Sox over White Sox in Three
Cardinals over Padres in Four Astros over Braves in Five
Red Sox over Angels in Five Cardinals over Astros in Six
Well, the Yanks won the division, but lost Home Field Advantage in the first round, so it's off to Los Angeles for the first two games of the ALDS, then off to Anaheim because the Angels don't play in Los Angeles.
3-3 at home against the Angels and 1-3 on the road, it seems like that's a tough hit to take on the last game of the season, but it must be remembered that had the Angels not used up their bullpen in an 18-inning loss the day before the last series against the Yankees, they probably would have finished off those two weekend games the Yankees came back in, and the Yanks would have been 1-5 at home, 2-8 overall against the Angels. Besides, HFA means just one game at the end of the series that might never be played. It's not a vital advantage.
A tougher loss is that of Randy Johnson, who by starting in the clincher on Saturday is now unavailable for the first two games, and only available in relief on one day of rest if there's a Game 5. The Yanks will have to go with a questionable Mike Mussina in Game One, and Shawn Chacon in Game 2. That's a bigger factor than being home or away.
But don't get me wrong, the Yankees can win this series.
Offensively, the Yankees have the edge -- a huge edge. Vlad Guerrero is the only good hitter the Angels have, while the Yankees start the game off with 5 outstanding batters. The Angels' defense is better, and their rotation is deeper -- and set up better than the Yanks'. The bullpen is deeper, too, though Gordon and Rivera are as good, or better than anything the Angels have.
It can go either way, really. The first game is more important for the Angels than the Yankees, though it's important for the Yankees to get a good outing from Mussina. I won't make any guesses here, but I'll just say it should be a good series.
The Yanks are undoubtedly en route to somewhere in Southern California to play the Angels on Tuesday, giving Joe Torre and the rest of the Yankee braintrust time to assemble a 25-man roster for the first round of the American League Championship Tournament™.
Parts of this are going to be very, very easy - for example, here are the no doubters on the roster.
Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Shawn Chacon, Tanyon Sturtze, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera.
Position players: Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, John Flaherty, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams.
That's 16 players right there that are a mortal lock to make the postseason roster, leaving Joe Torre me nine players to play with.
Starting with the pitching staff, I'd take Aaron Small and his magical pixie dust first and foremost, leaving space for at most three more pitchers. Scott Proctor and Felix Rodriguez are probably locked up in a head-to-head battle for the all-important role of third righthander out of the pen. Since F-Raud's talent has atrophied to the point of disutility, it-d probably be wise to bring Proctor and his electric stuff.
That gives New York a nine-man staff so far, and leaving two openings, both of which I plan to fill with lefties - which is more a function of the crap at the ass-end of the Yankee bullpen than anything else.
Alan Embree gets the call as the primary lefty setup guy, not on merit, just because he is better than Wayne Franklin and has some experience in the post season.
So the Yanks rotation, in my head, looks like this:
SP - Mussina SP - Johnson SP - Wang SP - Chacon
RHRP - Proctor, Small, Sturtze LHRP - Embree
SU - Gordon CL - Rivera
The notable omission is Jaret Wright. Aside from being a magnet for flying objects of late, Jaret has not been right of late. His command has been off, he's been hit hard (which does not distinguish his most recent starts from any start in his Yankee career). He's probably been dinged enough by all the body blows to allow Joe to drop him from the rotation without having to do too much damage control.
Now with 11 spots filled by pitchers, and nine spots taken up by mortal lock position players, that gives us five spots to play with for the bench.
This is where I think my list and Joe's list will differ most significantly. As part of the nine players we have already, there is a backup first baseman and a backup catcher, so we do not need to worry about those parts.
What we do need is an outfielder or two. I'll take Bubba Crosby, presumably to start in centerfield which allows Bernie to DH.
Now I do not expect the Yankees will do a lot of in-game substitutions, aside from defensive subs at first and perhaps center when Bernie plays the field. So I'll take Tony Womack and Matt Lawton.
That leaves two spots for infielders, and I'll use those spots on Mark Bellhorn and Andy Phillips.
The guy left out in the cold in all this is Ruben Sierra. So why no big Rube?
Well, Ruben can't play defense, so his value comes completely down to his offense.
Against lefties, Phillips is hitting .150/.190/.350 with one homer in 20 ABs. Against righties, Lawton is hitting .274/.378/.429 with nine homers in 354 ABs.
Against lefties, Sierra is hitting .221/.277/.390 with two homers in 77 ABs. Against righties, Sierra is hitting .247/.266/.371 with two homers in 89 ABs.
So "Andy Lawton" gives us comparable offense to Sierra, marginally better defense, and more flexibility – since "he" could also play first if needed.
As for the other nagging question you must have: Why Womack? Well, its simple. In the postseason teams do not use their bench all that much, and the Yankees are so top-heavy in their lineup, having a number of interchangeable parts is superfluous. Womack is on the roster for one reason and one reason only – run his ass off if needed after the seventh inning.
He won’t touch a glove. He won't swing a bat. He'll be the Yankees' Lola and just run.
So concluding, if I were in charge of the world, the Yanks' Game One lineup card would look like this... SS - Jeter, D. 3B - Rodriguez, A. 1B - Giambi, J. RF - Sheffield, G. LF - Matsui, H. CA - Posada, J. 2B - Cano, R. DH - Williams, B. CF - Crosby, B.
SP - Mussina, M.
Bench: INF - Bellhorn, M., Phillips, A., Martinez, T. OF - Lawton, M., Womack, T. CA - Flaherty, J. Bullpen: RH - Proctor, S., Small, A., Sturtze, T. LH - Embree, A. SU - Gordon, T. CL - Rivera, M.
ST - Johnson, R., Wang, C., Chacon, S.
But it probably won't.
Eds. Note: Yes, I left ARod out of the original list of position players, mostly because I am a moron. To make up for it, I am giving Al Leiter the Stalin treatment and erasing him from existance - giving the Yanks 10 pitchers and 15 position players.
Yes, I also know this will never happen. It should, but it won't.
Having had a little time to digest the Yankees' division clinching win over Boston yesterday, it still seems unreal to me. Even with the Yankees losing today and ending up with the same overall record as Boston, they won the AL East by beating Boston in the head-to-head series, so I don't want to hear any crying from Red Sox fans. If that's what the rule book states, then so be it.
We know about the 11-19 start. We know about the Yankees paying $33 million for 13 wins combined from Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, and Carl Pavano.
What we didn't know at the time was how the roster would change as the season progressed. I did not like this team at the beginning of the year. Part of it was the memories of last year's collapse against Boston and seeing many of the faces involved still around. Part of it was the importation of people like former Yankee beaters Randy Johnson, Jaret Wright, and Carl Pavano. Part of it was the signing of the mediocre Tony Womack, as well as ignoring what I thought was an insurmountably gaping hole in center field.
However, in a 162 game season, nothing ever goes according to plan. The playoffs start Tuesday, and unfortunately the final ledger of the Yankees's season will not be this hard-fought division title, but how they do in the tournament. Let's worry about that on Tuesday, and just enjoy what was a very entertaining season.
One thing that I thought was pretty apparent yesterday was just how much Joe Torre's players like and respect him. I give Torre a very hard time for his tactical decisions, but I don't think there is a fanbase in baseball that likes their manager. I won't give him a pass for the numerous mistakes that I feel he made this season that cost the Yankees games. However, I think he deserves some credit for holding this team together through a lot of injuries and adversity. As an outsider, I can't really judge the intangibles that he may bring, but I will acknowledge their existence. To me, the most critical thing he did all year was stick with Jason Giambi throughout his struggles, to the point where he became a key contributor. I also credit him for eventually sticking Womack in his proper place, and for having patience with Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang. He also finally got the lineup optimized, with Giambi's OBP ahead of Gary Sheffield, and not surprisingly the Yankees tore through the league after that switch was made.
I don't know that any of this makes up for the fact that he bunts more than I like, hits and runs too often, can't manage a bullpen well, and fixates on batter-pitcher matchups when making out his lineups, etc., but this team could very easily have folded when they started out so poorly, and they did not.
Brian Cashman also deserves a lot of credit for this season. The big money moves that the team made did not pan out, but if not for the Chacon Acquisition, this team very likely does not make the postseason. Faced with one of the most inflexible rosters in sports, Cashman took chances and was aggressive. A lot of the moves didn't pan out (Darrell May, Tim Redding, Sean Henn), but the Yankees kept trying things, scouring the waiver wires, discussing deals with teams, and promoting minor leaguers. It was particularly satisfying to see a Yankee farm system that has been denigrated by many produce two key contributers in Wang and Cano.
I think it's also time to acknowledge that the front office made the correct move for this season in trading Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, and Dioner Navarro for Randy Johnson. Johnson went 5-0 against Boston, and in his last 8 starts went 6-0 with a 1.63 ERA at a time when his team needed him to step up, big time. I felt the trade was a risk not worth taking, and that Carlos Beltran filled a bigger need, but Johnson showed me why he is a first ballot Hall of Famer, while Beltran struggled in his New York debut. Entering the postseason, they are far better off with Johnson and an offense-defense platoon of Bernie Williams and Bubba Crosby, then they would have been with Beltran and no Johnson.
I still think they shouldn't have traded Jose Contreras incidentally, who has been the best pitcher in the AL in the second half of the season.
The season was filled with emotional highs and lows, and I thought I'd touch on some of them here. This list is by no means complete, but these are the moments that pop in my head when I look back at the season.
April 26th: Alex Rodriguez announced his candidacy for MVP by hitting 3 HRs and driving in 10 runs against Bartolo Colon. I had actually picked Rodriguez to win the MVP this season, guessing he'd bounce back from a slightly disappointing first year in pinstripes. I don't know if he'll win it, but I think I know who I'd rather have on my team if I could only choose one of either Rodriguez or Ortiz.
April 30th: Chien-Ming Wang makes his Yankee debut. A blown save by Tom Gordon cost him the win, but his 7 innings and 2 runs allowed hinted to the contributions he would make all year.
May 3rd: Robinson Cano debuts as the Yankees fall to Tampa. Cano would end up being a key contributor, through his own play and the eventual subsequent removal of Womack from the lineup.
May 6th: A 6-3 loss to Oakland drops the Yankees to 11-19, and their graves were dug by everyone, including me.
May 7th: Mike Mussina pitches a shutout to start a 10 game winning streak that would get the Yankees back over .500.
May 15th: Tino Martinez his two HRs, his 9th and 10th in 12 games, setting the stage for what I still feel was the most critical hit of the Yankees' season, Jason Giambi's two out, go-ahead double off Ricardo Rincon, where he pulled a 90+ fastball down the RF line. This was right after the stories about Giambi refusing an assignment to the minors were going around, and Joe Torre hinting that Giambi's time was running out.
May 16th: Bernie Williams hits a grand slam off J.J. Putz to give the Yankees a come from behind 6-3 victory in Seattle.
June 2nd: 5-2 loss to KC completes a Royals sweep of the Yankees and drops them to 27-26.
June 15th: Jason Giambi hits an upper-deck walk-off HR in the 10th inning off of Jose Mesa.
June 21st: Down by 4 entering the 8th, the Yankees did this:
Franklin Nunez pitching: Robinson Cano: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Cano singled to center. Derek Jeter: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Jeter singled to right, Cano to third Ruben Sierra hit for Tony Womack. Ruben Sierra: Ball, Sierra grounded out to second, Cano scored, Jeter to second. Gary Sheffield: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Sheffield singled to left center, Jeter to third. Alex Rodriguez: Strike looking, Ball, Rodriguez singled to left, Jeter scored, Sheffield to second. Travis Harper relieved Franklin Nunez. Hideki Matsui: Ball, Foul, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Matsui doubled to deep right, Sheffield scored, Rodriguez to third. Jason Giambi: Intentional ball, Intentional ball, Intentional ball, Giambi intentionally walked Russ Johnson ran for Jason Giambi. Bernie Williams: Williams tripled to center, Rodriguez, Matsui and Johnson scored. Jorge Posada: Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Posada homered to right, Williams scored. Robinson Cano: Ball, Ball, Cano flied out to center. Derek Jeter: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Jeter singled to right. Ruben Sierra: Strike looking, Sierra singled to right, Jeter to third. Gary Sheffield: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, Sheffield homered to left center, Jeter and Sierra scored. Alex Rodriguez: Ball, Strike swinging, Rodriguez homered to right. Hideki Matsui: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Matsui homered to center. Russ Johnson: Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Johnson flied out to right. End of Inning (13 Runs, 12 Hits, 0 Errors)
June 28th: Mike Stanton throws one pitch in the bottom of the 10th, and Brian Roberts hits it out to beat the Yankees 5-4.
July 4th: Giambi starts a hot July with two HRs to lead the Yankees over Baltimore.
July 14th: The Yankees begin a brutal post-All Star Break stretch in Boston. Alex Rodriguez shuts up 35,000 Red Sox fans with a go-ahead two run homer off Curt Schilling in the top of the ninth. Mariano Rivera adds an exclamation point to it by striking out Johnny Damon, Edgar Renteria, and David Ortiz on 13 pitches, proving that Boston's claims that they owned him were perhaps not quite accurate.
July 17th: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Al Leiter and his 6.64 NL ERA pitches a gem to beat Boston, allowing only 1 run and striking out 8 over 6.1 innings.
July 19th: Three words. Wayne F___ing Franklin. 10 weeks later and I'm still annoyed about this one.
July 20th: Aaron Small, with a 4.96 Columbus ERA makes his Yankee debut. He gets the first of his 10 wins without a loss.
July 30th: Two debuts. Shawn Chacon's, which went well, and Alan Embree's, which didn't. Trailing 7-3 after the top of the 8th, the Yankees scored 2 in the 8th and 3 in the ninth, capped off by Hideki Matsui's two run double off Francisco Rodriguez.
July 31st: The Yankees rally again against the Angels' bullpen.
August 4th: In what turned out to be a huge momentum swing in the playoff picture, trailing by one, Alex Rodriguez hits a game-tying HR off Cleveland closer Bob Wickman. One out later, Jason Giambi hits the go-ahead HR, his second of the game.
August 27th: Down 7-3 entering the ninth, the Yankees rallied to score five runs and top the Royals 8-7. A Giambi walk was followed by a strikeout, a Royals error, three straight singles by Matt Lawton, Tino Martinez, and Derek Jeter, a Matsui flyout, then a Gary Sheffield double and a game-winning single by Alex Rodriguez. (Thanks to cutter for reminding me)
August 31st: In one of the better pitching duels of the season, 41 year old Randy Johnson showed 19 year old Felix Hernandez how it should be done.
Sept. 3rd: Aaron Small continues his improbable run of success by throwing a complete game shutout against the then streaking Oakland Athletics.
Sept. 11th: This was Randy Johnson's defining Yankee moment in my mind, and he came up huge, holding Boston to one hit over 7 of the most overpowering innings you'll ever see, outdueling Tim Wakefield 1-0.
Sept. 17th: The much-maligned Yankee defense supports Shawn Chacon, who only strikes out 1 but combines with Tom Gordon to shut out Toronto 1-0.
Sept. 19th: Bubba Crosby strikes a Ken Griffey Jr. pose at home plate as his walk-off HR beats the Orioles.
Oct. 1st: The Yankees beat Boston to clinch the season series and with Cleveland losing, the AL East.
I'm curious to see how the postseason roster shapes up, but I'll worry about that tomorrow. --posted at 7:00 PM by SG / |
So here's a move that can backfire easily... by Larry Mahnken
With the division clinched, Torre is sitting Mussina and starting Jaret Wright. Well, if the Yankees lose and the Angels win, the Yankees have to go to Anaheim (where they're 1-3) to start the ALDS. Also, Mussina got bombed in his last start -- it'd be nice to see if he can pitch well against a good, and motivated team in a game the Yankees can lose without risking missing the playoffs. Ya know?
C'mon Jaret. Earn your money. --posted at 10:03 AM by Larry Mahnken / |
UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE by Larry Mahnken
In early May, when the Yankees were tied for last place, there seemed no chance they'd ever do this. A 16-2 stretch made it seem possible again, but they right away lost 6 straight, and 11 of 13 to put them right back in the hole. 6 straight interleague wins at home in early June were undone by a 1-5 stretch against the D-Rays and Mets. On the road, they split with Baltimore and had to win two straight to beat Detroit.
The season turned around on the Fourth of July -- in the bottom of the eighth inning on the Fourth, in fact. I can pinpoint the AB. The batter, even. And the pitch.
The Yanks had blown a 6-0 lead after two to go into the bottom of the eighth down 8-6. Jason Giambi, who had in the second inning hit his first homer since the Pittsburgh walkoff, fell behind 0-2 to Steve Kline, took a ball, then launched a long shot down the line -- just foul.
Two pitches later, after another ball, he launched another one -- this one fair -- and the Yankees were down only 1 run. That sparked the rally, and the Yankees went on to win 13-8, 12-3 the next day.
Exactly two weeks later, they were in first place.
It was a short-lived stay, Joe Torre knocked them out after one day by leaving Wayne Franklin in to lose to Texas, and the Angels knocked the Yankees around that weekend, but they were alive.
Many people felt that the first stretch of games after the All-Star Break would kill the Yankees. 27 of 30 games against teams above .500 at the break, and 3 against the 44-44 Blue Jays. A combined opponents' record of .563. Just breaking even against that schedule would have been a feat. The Yankees went 18-12.
But still they couldn't pull back into first -- were 4½ games out, in fact. The goddamned Devil Rays beat the Yankees 2 out of 3 again, but the Angels split at home with the Red Sox to keep the Yankees close. An 8-2 stretch while Boston played .500 brought them back to 1½, but a 4-3 West Coast trip and another loss to the D-Rays brought them back to the brink, 4 games out with Boston coming in for three. With a magic number of 20, the Red Sox needed just 2 of 3 to bury the Yankees. After splitting the first two, Tim Wakefield pitched brilliantly to put them in position to do just that.
But Randy Johnson was brillianter, the Yanks won 1-0 to pull within 3 games. Still too far back, perhaps too far back to come back from. Heading into St. Petersburg for three, it appeared that, once again, the D-Rays were going to break New York's heart, this time to end the season.
But the Yanks took revenge this time, and three straight from Tampa Bay. Then 2 of 3 in Toronto, 4 straight against Baltimore, 2 of 3 vs. the Jays again, then 3 of 4 vs. the Orioles.
The Red Sox kept chugging along, taking 2 of 3 against the Jays, splitting with Oakland, but then came Tampa Bay, and a major stumble. Leading 4-2 with two outs in the eighth, they collapsed and gave up five runs to give the Yankees back sole possession of first place for only the third day all year. A sweep in Baltimore brought them right back even, and it really looked like it would head into Fenway that way.
But in losing 2 of the first three to the Blue Jays, the Red Sox had given the Yankees back first place, and they needed a late comeback just to stay one game out, with a chance heading into the weekend.
I really, truly felt that the Yankees would regret having lost that chance -- right up until the White Sox won yesterday. Even when the Yankees were leading big, had the Indians won yesterday and again today, and the Red Sox won today, the Yankees would face a possible two playoff games for the postseason, one-and-done each. It wasn't just pessimism that made me fear, but the fact that the matchups weren't that great for the Yankees.
Yesterday morning I felt that their chances to win the division were, at best, 50-50. The intensity of the sudden emotional turnaround is indescribable. It's the first real pennant race for the Yankees since 1995, and it really does feel just as thrilling as that first one did.
Hopefully it doesn't end here. If the Red Sox win today or tomorrow, or if Cleveland loses today, the Yankees play the Angels -- likely in Anaheim to start if the Yankees lose today (another good reason to play really hard this afternoon). Had the Yankees not had their two miracle comebacks against Anaheim in July, which would not have happened had the Angels not played an 18-inning game two days earlier, the Angels would have won 8 of 10 from the Yankees. The Indians may seem the tougher opponent, but the Yanks handled them pretty well during the season.
And hopefully, the Yankees still learn a lesson from this. They won't, of course, looking at this more as a triumph over adversity than a partial triumph over largely self-created adversity. "Successful failure" is a good term to describe the 2005 season.
But that's a rant for the offseason. Today, Secretariat lost. --posted at 8:39 AM by Larry Mahnken / |