Friday, April 16, 2010
Leave Javy Alone
Booing Javier Vazquez is stupid. He didn't lose that 2004 ALCS Game 7. Kevin Brown did. Granted, Vazquez played the hand he was dealt that night very badly, but, like Jose Contreras in Game 5 of the previous year's World Series when David Wells spit the bit over his bad back, he wasn't expecting to, for all intents and purposes, start.
Pitchers' minds work in strange ways, and, like Contreras the October before, Vazquez wasn't properly prepared to pitch a huge game. Contreras, at the least, knew that, however important the game was, it wasn't a backs-to-the-wall, win-or-go-home game. Vazquez had that pressure on him, unexpectedly, and he didn't handle it. Fine, criticize him.
But that loss was only slightly more his fault than mine -- and I wasn't in the ballpark, or even in the State of New York that miserable night of October 20, 2004.
Besides... how can it be anyone's fault that the Yankees lost, except for the people who supplied David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez (and perhaps others as yet unproven) with steroids?
Now, having pitched 2 games so far this season, 1 of them at Yankee Stadium Mark II, and having pitched poorly in both of them, a few Yankee fans (notice I do not capitalize the F in "fans" this time) are booing him.
Let me refresh your memories of certain players who have gotten off to rough starts as Yankees: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Chris Chambliss, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Roger Clemens (the 1st time around, anyway), Mark Teixeira. And they all ended up doing pretty well.
Granted, there are some who didn't end up doing well, at least not in Pinstripes: Bobby Bonds, Dave Collins, Steve Kemp, Steve Trout, Ken Phelps, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens (the second time around).
But there are enough of these slow-starters-made-good to suggest that Vazquez, who got off to a very good start his first time around here only to be remembered solely for the last game he pitched that season, to give him the benefit of the doubt for his second time around.
And, for crying out loud, we're 6-3. It's not like Javy is bringing the whole team down. He had 2 bad outings. So the hell what? It's not like they came in September when the race is down to us and some other team for the Wild Card.
In spite of his bad start, the team is off to a very good start, taking 2 out of 3 from the Red Sox in Boston, the Rays in St. Petersburg, and the Angels at home. That's 6 out of 9 from the 3 best teams in the American League, and probably 3 out of the 5 best teams in all of baseball (in each case, aside from the Yankees).
A fan has the right to boo whoever he (or she) wants, for whatever reason. But with rights come responsibilities and, often, consequences. In this case, the responsibility is to recognize that Vazquez is not, as yet, a major problem; and the consequence is being called a moron. Anybody who has booed Vazquez thus far is a moron. Even if you were a genius in the other games.
I mean, we're talking about Javier Vazquez here. Not Kyle Farnsworth or Carl Pavano. He hasn't earned the booing yet. If he does, I'll get in line to boo him. But, as with every fan, I reserve the right to decide for myself when he's earned it -- and I think most real Yankee Fans will agree with me that, for the moment, he hasn't done nearly enough harm to earn that.
After all, I may be a sick, twisted, demented Yankee Fan, but I am not a moron.