Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Birthdays: Fun; Yankees' Hitting Slump: Unacceptable

First, Happy Birthday to Ashley and Rachel. One year ago today, you arrived, and turned me from just another goofy Yankee Fan into Uncle Mike. You have made our lives brighter, and we cannot thank you enough.

The weird thing is, the day they were born, the Yankees won, 5-1, beating... the Twins. The Minnesota Twins. Am I going to have to explain that to the girls someday? Will the fact that they are twins -- albeit, like the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul, not identical -- cause them to abandon their home team for the Minnesota team? I hope not, but it's better than rooting for the Mets. Or the Red Sox. Or the Dodgers.

In the 1st Yankee game of the girls' lifetime, the winning pitcher was Roger Clemens (oy), the losing pitcher was Boof Bonser (what a name), Bobby Abreu went 3-for-4 with a homer for the Yankees. The lineup was as follows:

DH 18 Johnny Damon
CF 28 Melky Cabrera
SS 2 Derek Jeter
3B 13 Alex Rodriguez
C 20 Jorge Posada
LF 55 Hideki Matsui
RF 53 Bobby Abreu
1B 12 Andy Phillips
2B 24 Robinson Cano

P 22 Roger Clemens

The attendance at Yankee Stadium was 53,036. And the time of the game, a manageable 2 hours and 52 minutes.


On a slightly related story, I decided to look up the first game the Yankees played in my lifetime. It was April 7, 1970, the home opener at Yankee Stadium, and it was against the Boston Red Sox. The lineup:

2B 20 Horace Clarke
C 15 Thurman Munson (eventual Rookie of the Year)
LF 6 Roy White
1B 23 John Ellis
3B 10 Danny Cater
CF 1 Bobby Murcer
RF 13 Curt Blefary
SS 17 Gene Michael
P 30 Mel Stottlemyre (no DH in those days)

Of those 9 players, 6 would have their uniform numbers retired -- but only Munson's 15 for the player involved.

This team went on to win 93 games, but they finished 15 games out, since the Baltimore Orioles ran away with the AL East, so they were 15 games out.

Still, how did a team with John Ellis batting 4th and Danny Cater 5th win 93? And why was Murcer, a genuine All-Star who ended up with 252 career home runs, batting 6th? What was manager Ralph Houk thinking?

Assuming Clarke, Ellis, Cater, Blefary and Michael were the best you could get at those positions, the lineup should have been as follows: Clarke, White, Munson, Murcer, Blefary, Ellis, Cater, Michael, and the pitcher -- although Mel wasn't a bad hitter as pitchers go, finishing the year with 2 homers and 7 RBIs in 85 at-bats, working out to 13 homers and 45 RBI in 550 at-bats.

The Sox had current or former All-Stars like Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Reggie Smith, George Scott and Rico Petrocelli. And... the Sox won, 4-3. The winning pitcher was Gary Peters, who'd once been Rookie of the Year with the Chicago White Sox, and Bill (Spaceman) Lee got the save. Mel was the losing pitcher.

Attendance for this Yankee Stadium Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox was... 21,379. I guess it wasn't considered a rivalry yet. Either that, or about 40,000 people (Yankee Stadium then seated about 65,000) didn't think the Yankees, in this 1st game played after the Mets had won their 1st World Series, were worth skipping work for.


Back to the present. This is unacceptable. There's a reason the old-time Yankees were given names like Murderer's Row and the Bronx Bombers: They hit hard, and they didn't let up. These guys aren't hitting. If Mariano Rivera had been handed a 6-2 lead, and the final had been 6-3, we would now be saying, "Big deal."

Scoring just 3 runs in 2 games against the Texas Strangers is unacceptable.

Melky Cabrera is batting .241, and Joe Girardi should have had him bunt with the leadoff man on 1st and down by a run in the 9th. Instead, he had Melky swing away, and he did, right into a double play. (Which I don't think I'll be calling a "twin killing" for the foreseeable future.)

Melky needs 1 of 2 things: A tutorial in hitting... or a trade to the Mets, where he would definitely be 1 of the top 3 outfielders.


Someone pointed out to me that all the guys who were mentioned as being in the Johan Santana trade that the Yanks ended up not making have been disappointing: Melky, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. This is true.

But let's not forget the most disappointing person who was mentioned in that trade.

Johan Santana. The Mets didn't shell out all that dough for 7-7, did they? And the Mets have lost his last 5 starts. If I were a Met fan, that would be truly unacceptable.

But I'm not a Met fan. That would be absolutely unacceptable.

No comments: