Saturday, October 6, 2007

A-Rod and Other Bugs

Game 2 of the Yankees-Indians Division Series: That was a disgrace. The Indians aren't playing in that 85,000-seat airplane hangar right on Lake Erie anymore. They are in the heart of a major city, a mile inland. There is no excuse at all for what happened, no excuse at all.

A loss due to bugs? This is the sort of thing that happens to Boston, to Chicago, to Philly. In fact, things like this could be expected to happen in Cleveland, but to Cleveland.

When the Yankees lose in a big situation, there's rarely a bizarre element to it. This was bizarre. This was "curse material." (So what's the curse? A-Rod? Giambi? Matsui? Mussina? Mattingly, whose presence in uniform has always meant no Pennant?)

The umpires should have stopped the game for "unplayable conditions" as if it was raining, or (as has happened in Cleveland) there was snow, or fog. Surely, Billy Martin would have lodged an official protest. As would George Steinbrenner, a Cleveland native, who would have expected this, if he were still alive. Can we really be sure that he is?

But then, what do you expect? The crew chief is Bruce Froemming, the longest, uh, serving, and in my book worst, umpire who has ever lived. This guy deserves to be left alone in a room for 15 minutes with Milton Bradley. He is that bad of an ump. He screws up and lies so much, I half-expect Our Fearless Leader to appoint him U.S. Attorney General.

Andy Pettitte justified our faith in him. He was in trouble in every inning, and got out of every inning. I only heard that sixth on the radio, and I'm convinced I could hear John Sterling squirming. That inning should be replayed at every pitching clinic from big-league spring training down to Little League, to show every pitcher, and aspiring pitcher, on the planet that speed is one of the least important factors for a pitcher, that far more important are control and poise. We are right to worry about Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in situations like this, because they haven't been tested. Andy is the test.

But I don't blame Joba. He was pitching under conditions that, as far as I know, no pitcher in the history of postseason play in Major League Baseball has ever had to face, and that goes back to the 1884 matchup of the National League Champion Providence Grays and the American Association Champion New York Metropolitans. (Like their much-later successors, known as the Mets for short. The Grays won, behind workhorse Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn.)

Joba lost his control inside that swarm, but he didn't lose his poise or his courage. And he took it like a man from the press. He's 22. He's more mature than a lot of ballplayers in their 30s prove to be. Whoever's managing this team next year, please, do not make him into a starter. He can be Mariano Rivera's successor.

(UPDATE: That paragraph looks pretty bad now. Joba was turned into a starter, an idea that failed, and he now seems like one of the least mature players in recent Yankee history.)

Speaking of Mo, he was fine against that good Tribe lineup on the road, knowing he didn't have a lead to work with. Contrast that with Trevor Hoffman, the all-time leader in saves, whose season-close was hideous. I don't care who retires first, or with more saves: Trevor doesn't get elected to the Hall of Fame before Mariano does.

Matsui: He's hurt. Keep him on the bench as a pinch-hitter, if that. Right now, Giambi is healthier and hitting better.

This should be the lineup for Game 3:

LF Damon
SS Jeter
RF Abreu
3B A-Rod
C Posada
2B Cano
DH Giambi
CF Cabrera
1B Mientkiewicz

Everybody needs to start hitting, not just Matsui.


And now, I come to the subject of A-Rod. All that talk, including my own, all year long, that we'd have faith in him in the postseason. And it is all falling to ashes again. If he got that hit in Game 2 with the winning run on second base, instead of striking out, we win 2-1, and the bugs become a footnote, and the poor hitting thus far is reduced to a minor concern. 

But no, he has to be the Morning Glory again, folding up before it gets dark.

Alex, this is it: If we lose this series, it is your (expletive deleted) fault! Forget every other flaw, it is A-Rod's fault if we lose!

(UPDATE: This was written before I decided, It's my blog, I can use profanity in it if I want.)

Win or lose in Game 3, this may just be the last time we see Roger Clemens pitch. No, no, really, we all may have to mean it this time. Unless we make a comeback, which is definitely possible. After all, Sabathia was shaky, and even if we do face Carmona again in this series (it could only be in Game 5), how can he pitch that well again, in a backs-to-the-wall game?

(UPDATE: This was before the Yankees signed CC Sabathia. We didn't like him then. We do now.)

Of course, one of these last 3 games could be the last time we see Alex Rodriguez in Pinstripes. If so, good riddance, and everything he did for the Yankees is just stats, nothing more. And that would then be what we should see of A-Rod in The Bronx: Nothing more.

Yes, I'm turning on him. I wouldn't, if he had turned on that 3-2 pitch from Carmona. It really is all about the postseason with this team.

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