Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Auuuugh! I can't stand it!


The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series for the 2nd time in 4 years.

In the words of the immortal Charlie Brown, "AUUUUUUUUGH! I can't stand it! Good grief! My stomach hurts!"

As you can see, I've moved on from shock, past denial, to anger... and to disgust. Next comes bargaining, as in fix the roster, starting with dumping, as King George would say, "the 3rd baseman." Finally, will come determination: Next season will bring Title 27.

There is no "acceptance." As Yogi Berra would have said, if he'd thought of it first, "When you accept losing, you accept losing."

I will not accept losing. If I was willing to accept losing, I'd root for some other team, like, oh, I don't know... the one that spent late September, uh, flushing away a Playoff berth.

I'm reminded of that scene from Fever Pitch, where Jimmy Fallon watched his tape of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Buckner Game, rewinding and rerunning the fatal pitch, and his Sox-fan friends broke in and staged an intervention: "Where'd you get this? Huh? Where's your stash? All right, let's clean him up!"

The morning after, being a Yankee Fan, I went back to a moment not of catastrophe, but of glory. Two, in fact: Bucky Blessed Dent and Aaron Blessed Boone. And I still got to work on time.

To all the Red Sox fans who are either old enough to remember the hard times, or sober enough to not be one of the bozos making spectacles of themselves for the sake of slobbering ESPN and Fox cameramen... Congratulations on a hard-fought victory by the best team in baseball.

To all the others... It's still 26 to 7 (8 if you count 1904), Pedro is still a headhunting punk, Nomar did not have godlike powers, Munson was still better than Fisk, Chambliss' homer actually won a championship unlike Fisk's, Jim Bouton's book is still better than Bill Lee's, Tony C was an overrated nightlife-chaser (making him your Pepitone rather than your Mantle), DiMaggio was a better player than Williams, and Chris von der Ahe invented the sports bar in St. Louis before Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevey opened his in Boston.

And Tessie is still a whore.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

As If I Needed Another Reason Not to Vote For Rudy Giuliani


So, Rudolph William Giuliani, "America's Mayor" and "the world's biggest Yankee fan," is rooting for the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series, because he's an American League fan.

Fans of American League teams don't think that way. Fans of National League teams do. Met fans will root for the NL Pennant winners solely because they're an NL team. These are the same boneheads who say, "New York is a National League town. New York has always been a National League town."

That explains why the Yankees held the New York attendance record from 1920 to 1970, and have held it again since 1998.

Count 'em: Yankees 39 Pennants, Giants 17, Dodgers 13, Mets 4. To put it another way: AL 39, NL 34. And that's with 68 seasons, 1890 through 1957, with two NL teams in New York. World Championships? Yankees 26, Giants 5, Mets 2, Dodgers 1; AL 26, NL 8.

NL wins over AL? The Giants beat the Yankees in 1921 and 1922; the Dodgers beat the Yankees in 1955; the Mets have never beaten the Yankees. AL wins over NL? The Yankees beat the Giants in 1923, '36, '37 and '51; the Dodgers in '41, '47, '49, '52, '53 and '56; and the Mets in 2000. That's AL 11, NL 3. Since the start of Divisional Play in 1969, it's Playoff Berths, it's Yanks 19, Mets 7; Division Titles, Yanks 16, Mets 5; Pennants, Yanks 10, Mets 4; World Championships, Yanks 6, Mets 2; Subway Series, Yanks 1, Mets 0.

Explain to me again why rooting for one specific league matters, especially in New York?

So what's the real reason Rudy's rooting for the Red Sox? I will tell you: It's because he wants to win the New Hampshire Primary. That's the only reason. If Colorado had the nation's first primary election, he'd be decked out in purple and black.

The man was with the Clintons and Governor Mario Cuomo when it was to his advatnage; he switched to Bush and new Governor George Pataki when it was advantageous to do so.

After he loses the nomination, he'll give a Convention speech saying how wonderful a human being the nominee is and what a great President he'll make. Which will be tough for him, since he doesn't think anyone's better. Especially if it's Mitt Romney, who he really ripped -- as, among other things, a "flip-flopper" who changes positions when it becomes politically convenient. Like Rudy himself hasn't done that before.

Then again, Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, and he hasn't said a word about the Red Sox. At least John Kerry, clumsy as he was about it (bad first pitch, the "Manny Ortez" thing, etc.), was root, root, rooting for his home team, come what may.

Pete Coors, the Coors beer baron who owns a piece of the Rockies franchise, is a major Republican fundraiser. It might have been more advantageous to Giuliani to announce he was rooting for the Rockies.

He doesn't have to win the New Hampshire Primary to get the nomination, because the whole point of his appeal is that he can supposedly get the States that usually go Democratic. That will help him in the later primaries.

But if he'd sided with Pete Coors and the Rockies, he would have pleased Yankee fans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- that's 56 Electoral Votes the Democrats usually get -- and Pete probably would have raised a ton o' funds for him, which would have helped him in several Western States that the Dems think they have a shot at in 2008, including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and possibly even Montana.

What New Englanders is Reichskanzler Rudy really trying to please now? The taxophobes in New Hampshire? They know his record: It ain't one they would like. So what New Englander... Oh yeah, New Haven, Connecticut native George W. Bush.

Let's not forget: Rudy bashed Hillary Clinton as a "flip-flopper" for being a Chicago area native and a Cubs fan who started wearing a Yankee cap when she ran for the Senate seat in New York. Now, Rudy has flipped... his lid. He has flipped when he wants us to believe he's "decisive" and "sticks to his principles." Unless said principles can be tossed overboard -- that's what we called it, kids, before you started saying "thrown under the bus" -- in order to take another step toward winning the White House.

So what's Hillary saying on the subject? She's calling herself a dispassionate observer, since neither of her teams are in. Smart lady: Staying out of a fight she has no place in. If Bush had done that... But that's a story for another time.

As a Yankee Fan, I've rooted for the Red Sox twice. The first time was in the 1986 World Series, because I hate the Mets that much. And I think we all know how THAT one turned out. The other time was in the 2004 Series, despite their humiliation of the Yankees, because it seemed silly to do that, and then lose the Series.

I like Boston. I like New England. But I will not root for the Red Sox again. Or the Celtics. Or the Patriots as long as that cheating Bill Belichick is their coach. Maybe the Bruins, if they're playing the Rangers (who suck), Islanders or Flyers. Maybe Boston College, if they're playing Notre Dame, Penn State or Miami. Not the Red Sox, unless we end up with another Sox-Mets World Series. Or a Sox-Dodgers World Series. As Joseph Conrad would say, "The horror... the horror... "

Yankee Fan Rudy abandoning New York for the Red Sox... As they used to say in cartoons, when nearly every voice-over guy had a N'Yawk accent... "What a maroon!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Other Team's Fans Chuckle... Why?


With the way Joe Torre has been treated by Yankee management, several Met fan websites are chuckling with glee.

That's their right, but... consider the source. They're Met fans. The Flushing Heathen, as I've been calling them since 1998. What do these guys know about baseball?

The guy who ran the Always Amazin' blog for nj.com, the website for the Star-Ledger of Newark, the Jersey Journal of Jersey City and The Times of Trenton, has actually given up writing it. Maybe he's tired, maybe he's frustrated, maybe he's doing it for his physical and mental health. I applaud him.

(UPDATE: That blog would evolve into Amazin' Avenue, and is still being written today.)

There are others who apparently wish to flaunt their ill mental health. The Kranepool Society -- the equivalent of a Yankee Fan naming his website after... actually, there is no viable equivalent, as the Yanks never had a guy do little more than hang on for 18 years and make Gillette Foamy commercials -- calls the Yankees by their 1903-1912 name, the Highlanders, and posts a picture of Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez... with Derek Jeter's head on Cynthia's body.

Yes, we get the joke: "Gay-Rod" and a bachelor who dates famous actresses and singers only as a front. The joke was stupid in 1998, it was stupid when A-Rod arrived in 2004, and it isn't funny now.

And get your lies straight: Either Alex is fooling around with strippers or he's gay, but he's not both; either Derek is spreading herpes to gorgeous actresses (more on that in a moment) or he's gay, but he's not both. Better to be only a liar than a lying weasel.

They also have a picture of a post-spider-hole Saddam Hussein wearing a Yankee cap. Maybe so, but Bert Walker was one of the original stockholders of the Mets, and he was George W. Bush's great-uncle (as opposed to myself, Ashley and Rachel's great uncle), and Bush was and remains a greater threat to America than Saddam ever was.

The yutz who writes that blog also thinks the Mets are going to sign Mariano Rivera. In the words of the late, great Brooklyn Dodger fan Jackie Gleason, "Lemme have what you're having, I wanna get loaded, too!"

The author of the blog Brooklyn Met Fan writes of Joe Torre "firing George Steinbrenner":

Oh what a joyous day for Met fans and Yankee haters alike!... It’s all so perfect from where we as Met fans stand. Oh what a great moment at the end of this baseball season in NYC!

(UPDATE: That blog is now out of business.)

Perfect? Perfect? No, "perfect" is what ex-Met David Cone did on the mound at Yankee Stadium on July 18, 1999. "Perfect" is 25,000 people at Shea Stadium chanting "Let's Go Yankees!" and "Thank You Joe!" and "Thank You George!" a few minutes after midnight on October 27, 2000. (OK, maybe that wasn't "perfect," but, as MasterCard would say, it was "Priceless.")

He also says "the Yankees have choked for 7 consecutive years." Uh, no. The Yankees choked in 2004, and Jeff Weaver screwed everything up in 2003. In each of the other 5 years, the Yankees were outplayed, perhaps not by a better team, but by a team that was better that week.

And after what's happened to the Mets for 21 straight years, including the chokes of 1988, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007, to say the Yankees have "choked" is, as former Yankee 2nd baseman and broadcaster Jerry Coleman (now the longtime voice of the San Diego Padres) would say, "treading thin water here."

Then there's the guy who writes and edits "Yankees 2000: Promote the Curse." (Which curse would that be, the Curse of Kevin Mitchell, which has bedeviled the Mets for 21 years now?) He says, "The Yankees, as we have known all along, lack even the faintest semblance of class."

Right, I'm gonna let a guy who roots for the team of Pedro Martinez, Paul Lo Duca, Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge (and that's just counting current miscreants) lecture my team about class.

Then he said, "The Yankees Are (Screwed)." Is that a reference to the Yankees' future? I'll take my team's prospects -- whether by "prospects" you mean "young, promising players" or "likelihood of future titles" -- over theirs anyway.

(UPDATE: This was written before I decided it was my blog, and I can use profanity in it if I want to. At that point, I wouldn't use it at all.)

Then he refers to "Jeter's herp," slobbering over the story that Derek Jeter gave a certain actress herpes. (I won't mention her name, because she does not deserve to be mentioned in the same paragraph as the Mets, and, besides, she once starred in a TV show as a character who could paste either me or the doofus who writes that blog.)

(UPDATE: If you must know, the actress in question was Jessica Alba. It appears that she did, at one point, date Jeter. But there is no known evidence that either of them has ever had any sexually transmitted disease.)

He closes by saying, "Hating the Yankees just got great again." Really? And what has it gotten you? It's gotten you 1969, 1986, and up to your neck in agita.

Yikes. Makes you wonder if, loathsome though he was, John Rocker had a point: "I would say the majority of Mets fans aren't even humans. They're more like... Neanderthals."

Yeah, he should've looked in the mirror, having said that during a postgame interview during the 1999 NLCS. But... Choosing the Yankees over the Mets? Apparently, it's not "so easy, a caveman could do it."

I guess Met fans would like to gloss over the fact that the Yankees won the 2000 World Series in 5 games, beating the Mets and celebrating on the field at Shea Stadium.

And I guess they would also like to gloss over the fact that, just last month, their Metropolitans had a 7-game Division lead with 17 games to go, and didn't even make the Playoffs.

That gives them, in 2000, the most embarrassing loss in the postseason history of New York baseball; and, in 2007, the most embarrassing loss in the regular-season history of New York baseball.

More embarrassing than the 1904 Yankees, or Highlanders as the name really was at the time, who had to sweep a doubleheader from the Boston Pilgrims (as the Red Sox were then known) on the last day of the season, and did win the second game, but lost the first when 41-game winner (nope, that's not a misprint) Jack Chesbro let in the winning run with a wild pitch.

More embarrassing than the 1908 New York Giants, who arguably had a Pennant stolen from them, and had to replay a regular-season game as, for all intents and purposes, a playoff, but had it at home, and had Christy Mathewson on the mound... and lost.

More embarrassing than the 1912 Giants, who went into extra innings in the deciding game of the World Series, and made 2 errors to blow a 1-run lead and lose.

More embarrassing than the 1926 Yankees, who had Babe Ruth as the tying run on 1st with 2 outs in Game 7 of the World Series and Lou Gehrig at the plate... and lost because Ruth, not a man who looked like a base stealer, tried to steal second, and was thrown out.

More embarrassing than the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers, who were 1 strike away from tying up the World Series at 2 apiece... and lost when their closer Hugh Casey threw what is believed to be a spitball, and catcher Mickey Owen couldn't handle it, allowing Tommy Henrich to reach 1st, Joe DiMaggio to single, and Charlie Keller to double them home, with the Yanks winning the Series the next day.

More embarrassing than the 1950 Dodgers, who were in extra innings of a game whose win would force a Playoff at home, and gave up a home run to Dick Sisler.

More embarrassing than the 1951 Dodgers, who had a 13 1/2-game lead on the Giants on August 11, blew it, and were still 2 outs away from winning the Pennant with a 3-run lead... and lost on a home run by Bobby Thomson.

More embarrassing than the 1956 Dodgers, who went into Game 7 of the last of the classic Subway Series at home, and lost when the Yankees beat them 9-0.

More embarrassing than the 1963 Yankees, who won 104 games, then got swept in the World Series.

More embarrassing than the 1973 Mets, who had a 3-games-to-2 lead in the World Series, and lost.

More embarrassing than the 1976 Yankees, who were physically and emotionally exhausted after winning a thrilling American League Championship Series, and were swept in the World Series.

More embarrassing than the 1981 Yankees, who had a 2-games-to-0 lead in the World Series, and lost 4 straight.

More embarrassing than the 1988 Mets, who had a 3-games-to-2 lead in the National League Championship Series, and lost to a Dodger team that had Orel Hershiser, Kirk Gibson, Mike Scioscia and 22 guys named John Shelby.

More embarrassing than the 1995 Yankees, who had a 2-games-to-0 lead in the American League Division Series, and lost 3 straight.

More embarrassing than the 1998 Mets, who had to win just 1 of their last 5 regular season games to make the Playoffs... and lost them all.

More embarrassing than the 1999 Mets, who lost a Pennant on a bases-loaded walk, a method of losing a title or series that no other team has ever used.

More embarrassing than the 2001 Yankees, who were 2 outs away from winning the World Series, and lost.

More embarrassing than the 2004 Yankees... as bad as that was, it was in the Playoffs, something the 2007 Mets cannot say... and the Mets only had to win 1 more game against either the 2007 Washington Nationals or the 2007 Florida Marlins, not exactly the 2003-07 Boston Red Sox.

Why, it's even more embarrassing than the 2006 Mets, who were tied going into the 9th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series... and let Yadier Molina, the 3rd-best Molina brother, hit a Pennant-winning home run, and then, with the tying and Pennant-winning runs on base, Carlos Beltran just stood there with his bat on his shoulder and took a called 3rd strike.

Whether the Mets' 2007 collapse is worse than those of, say, the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, or the 1978 Red Sox, or the 1987 Toronto Blue Jays, or the 1995 California Angels, or even those of the 1969 Chicago Cubs, the 1973 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1986 Red Sox, from which the Mets benefited, is debatable.

What is not debatable is that the Mets ended the 2007 season worse than the Yankees have ended any season. And that the Mets still had the chance to "own New York" in 2000, and blew it.

It's not even the very simple math of "26 > 2" anymore. It's "1 > 0." Not "1969 > any Yankee title" or "1986 > 1998," not that either of those was ever true.

So, go ahead, post your cheap laughs. It's your right as an American.

But it is your responsibility as a New York baseball fan to remember: You root for The Other Team. And until your team beats the Yankees in a World Series, they will always be The Other Team.

And until then, you have nothing to say.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Joe Torre Is Out, and Good For Him


Well, it's done. Joe Torre has turned down a one-year contract that would have him make less money in salary, but pay him more if he gets the Yankees into the World Series.

Good for him. He can leave, and in a way that makes it look like it was his decision. He walks away with his head held high, and with the moral high ground. (Not a hard thing to do when you're dealing with one of the two murderers of Yankee Stadium, the other being Massachusetts Mike Bloomberg.)

And to have this happen on the 30th Anniversary of the day Mr. Reginald Martinez Jackson became Mr. October? Doesn't anybody in the Tampa Regime think?

So let the Joe Girardi Era begin. Or the Larry Bowa Era. Or the Tony Pena Era. I can live with any of those.

If the 2nd Mattingly Era begins, the next Yankee World Series might not be until Mattingly dies, because the Cult will never let Hank Steinbrenner fire Saint Donald Arthur of Evansville. We could be stuck with Donnie Regular Season Baseball until 2040 or so. By that point, Hank will want a new ballpark built on that empty space across from "Yankee Stadium" -- you know, where the real Yankee Stadium used to be.

Anyway, maybe George or Hank (whoever's really making the decisions) can close Yankee Stadium with one more special ceremony: Retiring the Number 6 of Joe Torre, the Number 21 of Paul O'Neill and the Number 51 of Bernie Williams, and give them their Monument Park plaques, so they'll at least have it done in Yankee Stadium, not in George Steinbrenner Memorial Stadium across the street.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Waiting... For What? For Whom?


My big concern about the Torre-decision delay is this: They may be waiting until they have his successor lined up before dropping the ax. This would indicate someone from the outside, like Tony LaRussa (oy vey) or Bobby Valentine (even worse) -- rather than someone in-house like Joe Girardi, Don Mattingly, Tony Pena, Larry Bowa, or the manager of one of the farm-system teams.

If they stay in-house, at least it would be a tribute to Torre to have someone he knows and respects from working with him. He might respect LaRussa and Valentine, or whoever it is if it's somebody we're not considering (certainly Torre himself wasn't first on anyone's list in 1995), but to get someone that different would be a slap in the face with brass knuckles.

Then again, as has been stated before, maybe they are just waiting to see if the Indians can finish the job against the Red Sox. That would soften the blow considerably, and possibly lead Steinbrenner (but which one?) to make the decision to keep Torre.

Right now, I'm still ambivalent. I love Joe, but...

And I'm sure a lot of Yankee fans are having that same thought.

*

I know one way to settle this. Imagine it's June 2008. The Yankees and Red Sox begin a 3-game series at Fenway. (I haven't seen next year's schedule, but there's been just such a series in every June since I can remember.) The teams are within the margin of error; that is, one team is in first now, the other could be in first with a sweep.

And a Sox starter hits a Yankee batter. (Does it really matter who is in either place? The Sox staff is full of punks, and they don't care who they hit.) It's obvious that it was on purpose.

What do you want the Yankee manager to do? I want him to get out to the umpires' crew chief and tell him that I'm not going to put up with this crap. Either you warn every Sox pitcher and manager Terry Francona to knock it the hell off, or the game is a forfeit to the Yankees. And if the crew chief refuses to threaten the Sox with the forfeit, pull the Yankees off the field. If the crew chief then forfeits to the Red Sox, appeal to the Commissioner.

Even if you fail, your point is made, and the Red Sox look like the bums they are, for all the world to see.

Can you imagine Don Mattingly doing that? Not if you're sober, you can't.

Can you imagine Joe Girardi doing that? I can.

My personal feelings about Don's unmistakable record of the Yankees never having won a Pennant with him in uniform (1982-95, 2004-07) aside, he is not the manager the Yankees need. Forget Donnie Baseball; give me someone who will stand up for his players.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame the Bugs


Go ahead, make your jokes about how much the Yankees' loss to the Indians is "bugging" me. But I am now old enough and mature enough of a Yankee fan to not blame the bugs.

Well, maybe I'm not enough of a Cub fan to blame the natural, or the supernatural.

At any rate, I cease my grumbling over another bad Yankee postseason loss to present to you...

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame the Lake Erie Midges for the Yankees Losing the 2007 American League Division Series

5. Fausto Carmona. The Indians' Game 2 starter had to pitch through the same swarm that Joba Chamberlain did, and was fine.

4. Chien-Ming Wang. He had nothing in either Game 1 or Game 4. He won 19 games for the 2nd year in a row, but the Sinker of Doom sank the Yankees this time.

3. Joe Torre. He should have started Andy Pettitte in Game 1 instead of Game 2, Phil Hughes in Game 2 instead of Pettitte, Wang in Game 3 instead of Roger Clemens, and Mike Mussina instead of Wang in Game 4.

And he should have told crew chief Bruce Froemming -- not just the longest-serving umpire ever, but possibly the worst -- that, because of the bugs, the field was unplayable and the game should be stopped until the bugs left, and that if Froemming wouldn't stop the game, he'd take the Yankees off the field, and, if forfeited, protest to the Commissioner. You know, the kind of thing Billy Martin would have done.

If this was his last series as Yankee manager -- and I'm still not ready to say that it should be -- he did not go out on anything resembling a high note. At least he went out better than, say, Roger Clemens. Or Tom Glavine.


2. The Yankee Bats. They got next to nothing in Game 1 and Game 2, and came up a day late and a dollar short in Game 4. Really, all they needed to do was get one more run in Game 2, and they would've been tied a game apiece going into Game 3. And then they would've been up 2 games to 1 going into Game 4. And then maybe the momentum would've been on their side, and then maybe we would be having Pettitte starting Game 1 at Fenway Park on Friday night.

1. The Indians Were Better. They led the American League Central for most of the season. They finished tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in baseball. And they led in all 4 games.

Sure, the Yankees won all 6 regular-season games between them. But the first 3, at Yankee Stadium, were very early on, before we realized what each team could do. And the last 3, at Jacobs Field, came when the Indians' best hitter, Travis Hafner, was on the disabled list. Hafner was a major factor in the series.

Throw in CC Sabathia surviving a shaky start in Game 1, Carmona pitching lights-out in Game 2, Paul Byrd pitching the game of his life in the biggest game of his career in Game 4, and the Cleveland bullpen not allowing a single run until late in Game 4, and you come to an inescapable conclusion:

The Yankees didn't get bugged, and they didn't choke. They got beat.

After all, if the Mets had made the Playoffs and lost the same way, few would think it was so bad. In fact, quite a few Met fans would have given a tooth or two to have their season end the way the Yankees' did, instead of they way their own did.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And So Another Season Ends


And so it ends. Not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a reasonable effort that fell a little short.

Joe Torre has earned the right to say goodbye on his own terms. But we, the fans, have earned the right to ask him to say goodbye. Time for Joe Girardi to come in.

Not Don Mattingly. The Curse of Donnie Baseball lives. I will explain this in full in another entry.

Derek Jeter did not play to expectations. He has come through so many times. But he hasn't exactly been a good Captain. Maybe the position should be retired. It was retired for 36 years after Lou Gehrig was forced to retire. It was retired for only three years after Thurman Munson was killed. It didn't do Mattingly any good: Captain Don led the team nowhere.

Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera must be brought back; Posada, at least until we can be sure his replacement is available; Rivera, at least until we can be sure that Joba Chamberlain is his replacement -- I'd rather have him as setup man next year and closer from 2009 or '10 onward than in the rotation, which is probably, surprisingly, more secure for the future than the bullpen for once.

(UPDATE: Yeah, in retrospect, that sounds ridiculous. But at the time, it was a defensible idea -- indeed, it seemed like a great one.)

This leaves the big question, the Clash question: Should Alex Rodriguez stay or should he go? The answer is obvious, if a bit weaselly and a mixing of sports metaphors: Put the ball in his court. Tell him, and tell Scott Boras, that if he wants to come back with the same contract, we'll take him; but if he wants more, goodbye, and don't let the door hit you in the Curt Schilling on the way out.

We need his production, but if we can get his production from two much cheaper guys, then that's what we'll do. In fact, how Alex handles this could go a long way toward deciding whether he is worthy of staying with the Yankees. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because, this year, he acted as though winning mattered more than money, and he gave his all. Does another shot at a World Championship mean more than fattening the fattest contract in the history of North American sports?

Roger Clemens: Hell of a way to go out, but it wasn't as much of a bust as what currently stands as Tom Glavine's last game. Can't say his return was a waste, but can't say his return next year would be necessary, either, even if he is still capable of winning 10-15 games as a starter. Goodbye, Rocket.

(UPDATE: Glavine did pitch again, although not for the Mets. Clemens, at least in "organized baseball," did not.)

So who do I support the rest of the way? Despite the way they handled my team, I'd have to say the Indians. I cannot root for the Red Sox. I tried that in the 1986 World Series, and it didn't work. And I'd rather the Indians, who haven't won since 1948, win the Series rather than the Diamondbacks, who didn't even exist until 1998 and won too soon, take the Series. I could live with the Rockies finishing their amazing run with a crown, but not the D-backs or the Fenway Punks. So GO TRIBE. They've earned my respect.

There will be further post-mortems.

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.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Alex, It Is Time


(UPDATE: This was written before A-Rod's 2013-14 suspension, and was based on statistics and other information that was available at the time.)

He will win his third American League Most Valuable Player award next month. He will likely finish his career with over 3,000 hits. And he is the likeliest candidate to surpass Hank Aaron as the all-time leader in home runs -- and surpass Barry Bonds' illegitimate total as well.

And yet... Alex Rodriguez will have the rest of his career measured by the 29 days from October 4 to November 1, 2007. Maybe by fewer days than that.

If the Yankees do not win the World Series, it won't matter how well he did in the postseason, he'll still be blamed for the losses of '04, '05 and '06, if not for '07. And if he doesn't do well this time, but the Yankees win it all anyway, then he's Alex Rodriguez of the World Champion New York Yankees and that's what matters.

He has performed this season like he knew it was time to put up or shut up. All he has to do now is put up for another 29 days. Shouldn't be a problem, right?

Right?

If he doesn't, then it will be almost as humiliating as what happened in aptly-named Flushing.
Almost.

Hopefully, Chien-Ming Wang will have the Sinker of Doom will be working tonight, and the Yankees will straighten out C.C. Sabathia's lopsided cap. We're 6-0 against the Indians this year, including 3-0 at Jacobs Field. I would certainly accept a split, especially if Game 1 were the win. Yanks in 4.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Willie Randolph for the Mets Blowing a Playoff Berth


Back in the late 1970s, Garrett Morris played former New York Mets star Chico Escuela on Saturday Night Live. Chico wrote a book titled Bad Stuff 'Bout the Mets. Clearly, it was a parody of the kind of tell-all sports book pioneered by former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton's Ball Four.

If Chico had been real, and is still alive in 2007, he could write at least one more sequel.

It was not much sooner than the end of the final game that several Met fans went on various message boards saying that the Mets' newly-completed collapse, blowing a seven-game lead with 17 to play, perhaps not the worst but maybe the most humiliating choke-job in regular-season baseball history, was all the fault of manager Willie Randolph.

Willie grew up in Brooklyn as a Met fan, played second base for the Yankees from 1976 to 1988, and closed his career with the Mets in 1992. He then became the Yankees' assistant general manager, and served as a Yankee coach until 2004. In three seasons managing the Mets, he has managed them to a respectable third-place finish, to within one run of a Pennant, and to within one game of a Division title. That may not look bad. But with the talent that Met fans think their team has, they should have gone further.

Unless, of course, the Mets just aren't that good, right?

No, of course not. The Mets are a great team. The best team in baseball. The best team in New York. And New York is a National League town. New York has always been a National League town. Jose Reyes is a better shortstop than Derek Jeter, just as Rey Ordonez was. David Wright is a better third baseman than Alex Rodriguez. Paul Lo Duca is a better catcher than Jorge Posada, just as Mike Piazza was. And Pedro Martinez is still a great pitcher, unlike Roger Clemens.

It can't be the fault of the players. So it's got to be all the fault of "Witless Willie."

When am I going to learn not to expect rational thought from the Flushing Heathen? After all, if these people were capable of ratoinal thought, they'd know: 26 > 2; since 1969, 6 > 1; since 1986, 4 > 0; and, most of all, they had their chance to "take over New York" in the 2000 World Series, and the Yankees ended the discussion.

But they blame Randolph, because it couldn't be the fault of the great Met players, right?

So, in the tradition of ESPN Classic, I present to you...

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame Willie Randolph for the New York Mets Blowing a Berth in the 2007 National League Playoffs

Now, I could just take the easy Number 1 answer: The Philadelphia Phillies were better. But I'm not so sure they are. Anyway, here's the Top 5:

5. Paul LoDuca. His hotheadedness got him thrown out of key games, and he publicly upbraided Randolph to the press and on a radio talk-show. Since LoDuca was considered a "team leader," several players followed his lead, and lost confidence in Randolph at the worst possible time.

4. The Left Side of the Infield. Reyes disappeared down the stretch, and proved that his discipline was not the equal of his talent. Wright was supposed to be this year's NL Most Valuable Player, an award that no player has ever won while on the Mets' roster; whereas A-Rod, stats be damned, is not an MVP. Wright came down the stretch playing less like A-Rod and more like A-Bum, just as he choked in the 2006 NLCS.

3. The Starting Rotation. At times, this season, Tom Glavine looked like a 300-game winner. At other times, he looked like a 41-year-old man. (Both of which, he actually is.) Pedro Martinez is "only" 35 going on 36 -- or so we were told, you never know with Caribbean pitchers -- but he is no longer capable of being the unstoppable pitcher he was from 1997 to 2000. (Of course, he really hadn't been that pitcher very often anyway.)

John Maine was not in 2007 what he was in late 2006. Oliver Perez was fine until the very end, falling apart when the Mets needed him most. And the Mets never found a reliable fifth starter.

2. The Bullpen. The closer is Billy Wagner, whose blown saves cost the Phillies Playoff berths in 2004 and 2005, and helped prevent the Houston Astros from winning a postseason series in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001. They have now cost the Mets the 2006 Pennant and the 2007 Division Title.

The top setup man is Aaron Heilman, who in 2006 gave up a Pennant-losing home run to Yadier Molina, the third-best Molina brother. Then there's the clearly washed-up Scott Schoenweis. Pedro Feliciano. Guillermo Mota. This is a bridge from a great rotation to a reliable closer? No, it's a bad connection from a shaky rotation to a shaky closer.

You've just seen Reasons 5 through 2. There's one major reason why Randolph should be exonerated. There's an old saying in baseball: You can't make chicken salad out of chicken, uh, feathers. Somebody assembled the surprisingly weak, not-especially-stout-hearted, undisciplined, clutchless bunch that Willie had to manage. That somebody is Reason Number 1:

1. Omar Minaya. The Mets' general manager is supposed to be a genius at getting the players necessary to win a World Series. His failure to get a reliable bullpen cost the Mets a 2005 Playoff berth, the 2006 Pennant, and now the 2007 Division Title. He went after Pedro, Glavine, Wagner and Schoenweis. He settled for Perez, Maine, Heilman, Feliciano and Mota. Meanwhile, across town, Mariano Rivera remains the best closer in baseball, and the Yankees found a bridge to him -- at least for 2007 -- in Joba Chamberlain.

(Or maybe we could blame The Dreaded SI Cover Jinx.)

In addition, Minaya pursued Carlos Beltran (very good at times, terribly disappointing at others) and Carlos Delgado (once a very good hitter, but now too injury-prone to matter much). And he pursued Pedro Martinez, who has been too injured to contribute much, a 36-year-old pitcher with the reliability of a 42-year-old pitcher.

Minaya has had the money. He has had no excuse. Just as the Mets blew it by getting rid of manager Bobby Valentine before getting rid of general manager Steve Phillips, they should dump Minaya along with Randolph. Better yet, dump him instead of Randolph.

As ESPN's Brian Kenny says on The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Blame... , maybe I changed your mind, maybe I didn't, but I hope I at least made you think about it in a different light.

So a guy goes into a doctor's office. The doctor examines him, and tells him he needs surgery.

"I want a second opinion," the patient says.

"Okay," the doctor says. "The Mets stink."

(NOTE: When I began writing this blog, I intended to avoid using profanity. I have since given that up. Hence, I did not say, "You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit," which is how the line actually goes.)