Sunday, April 11, 2010

You Can Shove Your Pitch Count

The Devil Rays, south of Georgia, they were looking for a game to steal. They got it on Friday night, beating the Yankees 9-3. They paid dearly for it yesterday afternoon.

I was on the Subway yesterday afternoon, when I saw a couple wearing... Met scarves? Like soccer fans wear? A little later, I was at the Time Warner Center, buying back another piece of the floodlost library at their Borders, when I saw another couple wearing them. Turned out the Mets were giving away 2 things at the game: The scarves, and, well, the game.

Coming out of the Time Warner Center -- for the unaware, it's a minor-league "Twin Towers" at Columbus Circle, where 59th Street, 8th Avenue and Broadway meet, containing CNN's studios, high-end shops, and, thank God, a Borders bookstore -- those Met scarves made me flip open my phone and check the Yankee score, and ESPN said that CC Sabathia had one of those games where you don't allow any hits going, after 7 innings. And, oh yeah, that the Yankees were winning, 10-0.

The Time Warner Center is just 3 blocks from Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Central Park South. I got over there in time to see CC get the first 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, 4 outs to go.

Then came a hit, from Kelly Shoppach, and it was over. The Rays fans gave CC a standing ovation, and then most of them left, leaving their stupid dome over to Yankee Fans.

I stood up, and said, "Okay, who said the word 'no-hitter' out loud?" You don't say that word while one is in progress. A guy stood up and said, "I did. I'm a Met fan. Sorry."

I said, "You're a Met fan, yes, you are sorry."

A guy behind me said, "I'm a Met fan. You're outnumbered."

Met fans outnumber Yankee Fans? In Mickey Mantle's Restaurant? In 2010? Ha! Yankee Fans weren't even outnumbered in Tropicana Field yesterday!

I got out all right. Met fans talk big, but they're pussies. By New York standards, anyway.


But on to a more important matter: Before Shoppach had even gotten to first base, Joe Girardi had come out of the dugout to pull CC. Apparently, Shoppach was going to be CC's last batter, no matter what, because he'd had CC on a pitch count of 110 to 115 pitches. The hit was pitch Number 111.

I see: Girardi thinks CC is Pedro Martinez and can't pitch with any effectiveness after Pitch 100.

Joe, you won 3 World Series for us as a player. Your triple won Game 6 of the 1996 World Series. You caught David Cone's perfect game. You restored the universe to order by managing the team to the 2009 World Championship. Joe, I love you. But...

Joe, you can take your pitch count, and you can shove it up your ass.

I don't give a damn HOW many pitches a guy has thrown: If he's pitching effectively, you leave him in!

Never mind "being a man" on the mound: Ever hear of giving your bullpen a break? The fact that Dave Robertson pitched fine for the last inning and a third, and Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberalin and the rest were rested, is beside the point: You wouldn't take out a pitcher who hadn't allowed a hit through 5, why would you take out a pitcher who hadn't allowed a hit through 8?

Three times -- once in the minors, and twice in the majors -- Preston Gomez pulled his pitcher after 8 no-hit innings, and all 3 times, his team ended up losing the game. To be fair, this was A, in the National League, where pitchers have to bat (this was before the American League had the DH, either); and B, on one of the major-league occasions, the team was already losing due to walks and errors. But taking out guys who were pitching no-hitters and losing is the only thing we remember Preston Gomez for these days.

Joe, one of these days, the pitch count is going to come back to bite you. There may come a day when CC is pitching fine through 6, but has already hit 110 pitches. And you'll bring in... well, Scott (I think the plate is around here somewhere) Proctor, Kyle (Not a) Farnsworth, Randy Choate (Randy Choke), Silly Ted Lilly (who sucked in Pinstripes, I don't care how many games he's won elsewhere) and Jeff (Bad Dream) Weaver are all gone. But it's the 7th, and it's too soon to bring in Mariano Rivera (frankly, the 8th is too soon to bring Mo in, as Joe Torre found out on November 4, 2001), and suppose you bring in Robertson, or Joba, or Damaso Marte, and on this day this as-yet-hypothetical reliever doesn't have it. And suppose it's a Red Sox game. Or a Playoff game. Or, dear God, both.

Waite Hoyt. Herb Pennock. Red Ruffing. Lefty Gomez. Whitey Ford. Catfish Hunter. All Yankee starters in the Hall of Fame. Ruffing, Gomez, Ford, Allie Reynolds, Ron Guidry. All starters in the Yankees' Monument Park. They didn't need no stinkin' pitch count.

I wonder, Joe: In that perfect game, Coney through just 88 pitches; if he'd through 108 through 8, would you have told Torre to take him out for Mo? There's been a few combined no-hitters, but there's never been a combined perfect game. I wonder...

Pitch counts are for nervous nellies. And if you're a nervous nellie, you have no place as the manager or the head coach of a New York major league sports team.

To hell with pitch counts.


Hours until the last Nets game at the Meadowlands: 30, tomorrow night at 7:30, against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Days until the Yankees' 2010 home opener: 2, this Tuesday afternoon at 1:00, against the Anaheim Angels, or whatever they're calling themselves this season.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 3, Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 (8:00 PM their time) at The Lane. Shred the bastards.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 26, starting Friday night, May 7, at Fenway. Less than 4 weeks.

Days until the 2010 World Cup begins: 60. Just 2 months. With the U.S.-England game the next day, June 12. I really, really hope we beat Rooney, Terry, Lampard, Cashley, Defoe, Lennon and the rest of those cunts. (A minor advantage to being an American who's also a fan of English-player-deprived, save for Theo Walcott, Arsenal.)

Days until the World Cup Final: 91. Just 3 months.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 146.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 152. Days until they play it well: Hopefully, the same.

Days until the new Meadowlands Stadium (still unnamed) opens for football: 154.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: At least 180 -- in other words, the start of next season, about 6 months from now.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 228.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 415 (adjusted estimate).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 580.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 728 (estimated).

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 848.

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