Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Walk On...


I guess the Yankees’ charter plane had some sort of mechanical trouble and they didn’t get into New York until 3:00pm yesterday. Yeeeeeikes, imagine being trapped on that plane – there are times when many millions of dollars a year may not be enough.

The knives are out, and the sharpest ones seemed to be aimed at ARod. He’s not the only one, though, I’ve heard just about everybody hacked up. The only ones who were spared attention were Small, Chacon, and Giambi, and the only Yankees I’ve heard spoken of positively was Jeter. I don’t think that would be much consolation to Jeter at this point.

The focus on ARod as the problem is utter bullshit, though. I’m not going to lie, when ARod grounded into that double play in the top of the 9th in Game 5, eliminating Jeter, I realized very suddenly that it was over, and I was furious with Rodriguez (“THE WORST POSSIBLE THING YOU COULD HAVE DONE IN THAT SITUATION!”). Having gotten some perspective, it wouldn’t have come down to that if they had been playing to their potential throughout the series. I seem to recall through a haze of bitterness that Chone Figgins and Vlad Guerrero were pretty well shut down by the Yankees throughout the series, and yet (ouch) the Angels (ouch) still won. Baseball’s a team sport, and it’s impossible for one guy to lose a five game series all by himself.

Steinbrenner released a thank you to the fans that was the most menacing show of gratitude I’ve ever heard. “WE WILL DO BETTER.” [Brian Cashman drops to the floor gasping, eyes bulging, trying to remove the unseen hand that chokes him.]

I’m still smarting – baseball isn’t fun to watch yet. I’m working my way into watching the ALCS but the first game was peppered with bad Yankees performance, and that sucked to watch the first time. I had to turn it off. I was able to watch several innings of tonight’s game – it’s weird though. I’m not that familiar with either team, and it’s like wandering into a stranger’s party.

It’s interesting when people scream about the payroll and the salaries. I was thinking about how much money I’ve actually spent on the Yankees this year, and I came up with the startling figure of …$15. I bought a subscription to Gameday Audio. For that piddly sum I got a season of baseball that was frustrating, exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately entertaining. I suppose if I had season box tickets, I might feel differently, but that not being the case…I could have spent ten times that amount, and still feel like I got way more than my money’s worth.

I know that that isn’t good enough for the Yankees, and I love that about them – none of this “We’re used to losing” rationalization crap. I’m sad that they didn’t ride the coaster deeper into the postseason, but as October moves on and I begin to think about putting away my t-shirts and washing my battered Yankees rally hat…

Is it April yet?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Too stunned to even cry...

I should be in bed, I have to work tomorrow, but I can’t sleep. I watched the very last bitter out, and now I’m thinking about a certain plane probably in the air from LAX to JFK, and imagining how deathly quiet it must be on that plane.

I got my hopes up after Sunday’s game – that was an awesome game. Tonight’s game certainly wasn’t. I can’t go through all the stupid details, or I will start crying, and what’s the point? It didn’t happen, and almost everyone on the team shares some responsibility for that at some point during the series.

I can’t believe that it’s over, it’s like a car slamming into a wall – one minute it's flying along and then the next minute…it's not.

Monday, October 10, 2005

California or bust!

And they go to L.A.! I flipped on ESPN Radio this morning, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have no idea what show I was listening to. All I heard was the show’s host going on about how the Yankees can’t stand each other, they’re mercenaries, they don’t care if they win or lose, they just want the season to be over and to collect their checks. Then I turned it off…

Frankly, I have no idea if the Yankees like each other or not. I’m sure there are plenty of conflicts – how could there not be? Forty guys living out of each other’s luggage for 8 months every year? Please. Honestly, I don’t care if they are the best of friends, as long as they get the job done. Ok, no that’s not completely true. I love watching Jeter, Posada, Tino, and Bernie goofing on each other, that is pretty funny. But simply because that level of camaraderie may not be readily apparent team-wide doesn’t mean they can’t get it done – you don’t have to be friends with someone to work effectively as a team. God, for proof of that, all you have to do is look at the Bronx Zoo era Yankees – those guys HATED each other, and they had Billy Martin busily fanning the flames, but they got it done.

And as for them just wanting the season to be over, that’s bullshit. If that was what they wanted, they could have very easily lost last night, and they didn’t. Why grind out a win and have to fly all the way to L.A. for one game if all you want to do is end your season?

Another point this host made was that the White Sox are a better team, and that they want it more. There may be an argument there – the White Sox are playing amazing ball and are totally fixed on the World Series – they seem prepared to mow right through any team that’s in their way. If the Yanks pull through tonight and somehow make it to the ALCS, the White Sox will be more than ready for them.

And about last night’s game? Two words – Jorge Posada. He and Shawn Chacon were the game last night. I definitely don’t think Jorgie got the memo that he’s a mercenary and that he just wants his season to be over. My favorite play was that rocket he threw over the mound to Jeter to nail Vlad Guerrero. Happiness is…

It wasn’t the “gorgeous, elegant win” I was looking for, but hell, a grinder will do, thank you very much. Let’s hope Mussina is rested and ready to throw the nastiest, ugliest stuff anyone can imagine.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Waiting

And my blues persist. It’s times like this I wish I were into football – at least then I would have something else to occupy my mind. No such luck here though, it’s baseball and that’s it.

I can’t seem to get myself excited about the game tonight for some reason – again, is it the weather? Apparently, and without knowing it, I moved from Pennsylvania to India during monsoon season. It’s cold and dreary, and the accompanying “blahs” are especially stubborn. A gorgeous, elegant Yankee win tonight would lift my spirits considerably, and another Yankee win – of any kind! – tomorrow would make me ecstatic.

I’m worried, though. There are no guarantees here, and even if the Yanks make it through, the White Sox are rested and ready. To be honest, it’s not exactly like Chicago looked tired sweeping the Red Sox, you know? If the Yankees should make it, they’ll have to get on a plane late Monday night to fly to Chicago to play Tuesday night. I hope they rested up yesterday – took long naps, watched a lot of movies. I can’t tell you how bummed I’m going to be if the Yankees season ends tonight. I can’t even wrap my head around that concept. It doesn’t seem real.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ptttttttthhhhhhbbbbb......


It is absolutely pouring out, and it has been absolutely pouring out since about 11:00 last night (before that it had been raining but not like this). In watching the Weather Channel the same huge green and yellow blotch is sitting over New York, so there isn’t any baseball on tonight.

It may be all this rain, but I’m feeling a little bummed.

Is it because the Boston Red Sox were so completely shut down by the White Sox? My God, that was just an out-and-out thumping. I was all ready to gloat – oh, I was so ready to gloat – but it was so…sad. Pathetic might be the better word. As a Yankee fan, how many times have I seen the Sox going goofy in their dugout and wanted to throw something? You’d think I’d enjoy the moment. But seeing Manny Ramirez looking subdued, and Kevin Millar depressed, and …. is Varitek CRYING?! I couldn’t help but thinking if it can happen to them, it can happen to the Yankees too. Signs in Chicago like “It’s our turn!” and “Winning is our business and business is good” seem to be foretelling even greater things than the ALDS for the White Sox.

A little boy in Fenway sporting a Red Sox hat and jersey sobbed into his father’s stomach while his father rubbed his back, while his father’s face said it all. He’d forgotten to tell the little guy about those other, non-Idiot Red Sox teams, all those teams that didn’t make it to the World Series. It will be interesting how the Red Sox Nation will readjust to the traditional, comfortable role of Non World Series Champions. I’m curious to see how they find a way to blame the Yankees for it all.

Oh, yeah. The Yankees. Watching the Red Sox go fetal in their dugout reminded me that a similar fate may be in store for the Pinstriped Wonders if they don’t start playing better immediately. No errors, no bad decisions, no wasted at-bats, no runners left in scoring position – would that be too much to ask of a $208 million team? Game One in LA was great. Mussina pitched well, the boys played well in the field, and they were hitting (or getting hit, but who cares, a base is a base.)

But then it was like a mini review of everything that has gone wrong this season, minus injuries. In Game Two, Wang pitched well, but there were ridiculous errors – really, reeeeeally big oh-my-God-what-the-hell-was-THAT caliber errors, and they lost. What the hell happens to Alex Rodriguez when the postseason starts? He seems to be astonishing himself with his own mistakes and wasted opportunities – he looks at his hands like they belong to someone else and that they’re not working the way he expects them to. Even Jeter’s been quiet so far with the rally-making, and this is his time of year.

Game Three? Scathing, blistering criticism for Randy Johnson. So great that he pitched so well against the Seattle Mariners and such. Admittedly the Red Sox games were important and excellent. But last night was inexcusable. It totally disgusts me that Aaron Small got credited for the loss on the mess of a game he inherited.

One of the ESPN announcers commented, as Randy Johnson got booed off the mound, “Is there any Yankee fan in the stands tonight who could have seen this coming?” Uh….YES?! The real question is, by show of hands, how many Yankee fans would have felt more confident had Aaron Small been given the ball to start?

I was a little surprised that they played such an important game in the rain. I found myself wincing every time anyone would go hard after the ball, imagining the torn tendons and ligaments looming in the immediate future. I’m not saying that the ultimate outcome would have been any different, but I’m guessing it would have been a better ball game on a dry field.

So I’m glad that they opted to postpone tonight’s game until tomorrow – the Yankees have two very hard wins to come by before they can even think about facing the all-cylinders-firing White Sox, and they’ll never get the chance playing the lousy ball they’ve been playing for the last two games.

Monday, October 03, 2005

AL EAST BAAAAYBEEEE


My God, they did it. They did it! I have pictures of champagne-soaked Yankees floating across my desktop! They took the AL East! Whoo is that making the Red Sox guy in my building grumpy…he acted like I set fire to all of his Boston stuff or something. He -- like almost everyone except Derek Jeter, apparently—did not realize that the AL East was on the line on Saturday. He was not happy that it came down to who had the better head-to-head record. (I think that’s actually a really good idea – it makes the whole season important, not just how hard you play in August and September) Derek Jeter had figured out on Friday night what was at stake, and was trying to tell his teammates what could happen – they didn’t want to hear it until after they won the game. God is he all that AND smart enough to master all the playoff scenarios? Maybe he should run for president when he’s done being a Yankee.

And speaking of those smart Yankees, look who taught themselves to hit the knuckleball! They said something on Fox about how the Yankees had a closed batting practice with a retired knuckleballer, but I didn’t hear anything about it after that. Whatever, I couldn’t believe how many hits they were getting.

Oh, and the Big Unit can scowl and grumble all he wants as long as he pitches that well and keeps it quiet enough that the umpire doesn’t hear him.

I thought it was cool when Gary Sheffield came out and put his arm around Joe Torre while Torre regained his composure to talk to the cameras. Sheffield doesn’t seem like the kind of person to make empty gestures and it was a really touching thing to come over when he did.

On to the postseason Bombers!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

It's October? Already?

Crap. The Yankees need to win one game to stay in it, and I thought that they had a pretty good shot to win last night’s game. Crap.

I went out this morning to get the paper and the Red Sox Nation had already attacked my door with Red Sox logos, MVPapi signs, and a note saying “Hasta la vista Yankees! It’s over!” Halloween came a little early here. I would have preferred a crushed pumpkin and a couple of rotten eggs.

Overly confident folk, these Red Sox fans. I still have no idea which way this weekend is going to go. The Sox would have to sweep the Yankees to take the AL East on Sunday, and while it’s certainly possible, even the most die-hard Sox fan would have to admit that a sweep of the Yankees is unlikely. With Wakefield being so tough, and Mussina pitching injured, anything is possible, but the Yankees aren’t going to just lay down and die.

I watched the game on ESPN, and the shots of ARod hugging David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez before the game had to chap the collective asses of the Red Sox Nation. In uniform, no less, which is going to raise the ire of some old-timers, I’m sure. “Never fraternize with an opposing player in uniform.” Pfft, whatever. Major league baseball players are such a small, elite group of people, and they lead such a weird demanding life, that already there are very few people who understand what it’s like to be a Manny Ramirez or an Alex Rodriguez. Then factor in the reality of so many players changing teams so often, it seems a little ridiculous to worry about the uniform rule. Freakin’ ARod. Guy’s been playing Gold Glove caliber defense for months – and most of last night’s game, frankly--then lets a ball squeak through his legs like a Little Leaguer. Tell me that Fenway doesn’t get to them a little bit.

And Posada! Whoo, he had to be happy to see that game end, he was just having a bad night. Bad at-bats, a passed ball, and arguing with the umpire to the point where I was really shocked that he was able to stay in the game (and apparently, so was Torre, because Flaherty was suiting up.) That’s the only time I see Posada get really pissed off is when he’s screwed something up and he knows it, and now today instead of getting a chance to redeem himself, he gets to sit on the bench watching Flaherty do his job. I would imagine telling him that he’s cute when he’s mad wouldn’t help the situation any, either.

Cleveland lost last night, which helps. Reporters were talking to Ozzie Guillen about a month ago and asked him who had the better team, the Indians or the Yankees. Without hesitation, he answered “The Indians.” He owes the Yankees and Red Sox nothing, and his team has clinched AL Central – it had to be tempting to just coast this weekend, but the White Sox hung in there and beat it out. In 13 innings for God’s sake – I’m guessing that they won’t be so eager to push it to extra innings today.

OMG, how bout the rookies having to dress up like cheerleaders, and then having the footage released to ESPN??! Just when you thought you were a big shot Yankee…nice legs, guys.

Getting close to game time…we’ll see how it goes today. Hope springing eternal, and all.

Go Yankees!