Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Cliff Lee

The Yankees were big winners in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes last night.

I know what you're thinking: "What are you talking about, Mike? The Yankees didn't get Lee! The Texas Rangers did! The 1st-place team in the American League West! Face it, this could be a problem for the Yankees in the Playoffs!"

Well, for starters (if you'll pardon the pun), Lee was supposed to pitch for the Seattle Mariners last night, against the Yankees. He didn't, and, thanks to 2 Mark Teixeira homers, the Yanks won, 6-1, to extend their winning streak to 7 straight, and move 3 games ahead of the Strays and 5 ahead of the BlowSox.

The Strangers do lead the West by 4 1/2 games -- 6 in the loss column -- over the Whatever They're Calling Themselves This Season Angels of Anaheim, with the Oakland Athletics and the Mariners much further back. It looks like the Rangers, who haven't reached the postseason in 11 years, and have won a grand total of one postseason game in the 50-year history of the franchise (they were the "new" Washington Senators from 1961 to 1971 and have been in the Dallas area since 1972), are going for broke this season.

They might make it... though whether "it" is a Pennant or, well, broke is yet to be determined. After all, part of the deal was that baseball's "luxury tax" is going to fund part of Lee's salary.

You see, the Texas Rangers are broke, an after-effect of the fact that they were once owned by George W. Bush. Anytime a George Bush runs an economy, the result is disaster, and it takes a while to clean it up. Maybe the Rangers should hire Bill Clinton as their new managing general partner. After all, the Rangers are the closest team to his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, and it only took him one year to fix an economy screwed up by a George Bush... then again, that was the father, not the son.

The Yankees are also winners in this because they did not have to give up any prospects, including catcher Jesus Montero, the projected star replacement for Jorge Posada.

The Yankees are also winners in this because they ensured that the Red Sox and the Rays didn't get Lee, preventing either of them from making a run at the AL East title a whole lot easier.

It's also a public-relations boost for the Yankees because the crosstown Mets didn't get him, and the Mutts, currently 4 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, need another starter a lot more than the Yankees do.

However, the Mess can breathe a sight of relief that the Braves didn't get him, that the Philadelphia Phillies (who had him for last season's stretch run including the 2 games they won against the Yankees in the World Series), 5 1/2 games behind didn't get him back, and that the other NL Pennant contenders didn't get him: The Cincinnati Reds lead the Central by 2 games over the St. Louis Cardinals, and every team in the West except the Arizona Diamondbacks is within 5 games of first. So while the Mets are losers on this front (as they are on every front), so are the teams they're battling.

Cliff Lee on the Rangers is only a problem for the Yankees if they end up facing each other in the postseason... and the Yankees are 9-1 in postseason play against the Strangers, and beat a team with Lee as their ace in last year's World Series, so Yankee Fans shouldn't worry. True, the Yankees lost the '07 ALDS to Lee's Indians, but that was when the Indians, not the Yankees, had CC Sabathia... and Lee wasn't much of a factor that year anyway.

So the Yankees -- who've been getting terrific pitching from all 5 starters lately -- don't need no Cliff Lee. What they need is one more good reliever, because Chan Ho Park was trusted with a 5-run lead last night, and while he got the first 2 outs, he did put guys on 2nd and 3rd afterward, and was one pitch away from loading the bases... before getting out of it. I still don't trust him.

UPDATE: The Rangers did win the AL West, while the Yankees got the Wild Card. Lee pitched a 2-hit shutout in Game 3 of the ALCS, and the Yankees lost in 6 games. Lee was one reason the Yankees lost. The main reason was that Joe Girardi trusted Boone Logan to pitch to Josh Hamilton. So unless Lee was going to come in to pitch to Hamilton at those moments, having him still wouldn't have helped much.

*

Hours until the World Cup Final: 24. Hup Holland Hup!

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 600th career home run: 8 (an estimate I've moved back up, considering his current hot streak).

Days until the New York Football Challenge at Red Bull Arena: 13. 2 weeks.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 27, starting Friday night, August 6, at Yankee Stadium II. 4 weeks.

Days until the new English Premier League season starts: 35. 5 weeks.

Days until the first football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium (still unnamed): 39.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 56. 8 weeks.

Days until the first regular-season Giants game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 64. 9 weeks.

Days until the first regular-season Jets game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 65.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 75. Under 11 weeks.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 91, on Friday, October 8, at home at the Prudential Center in Newark, against the Dallas Stars. 3 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 107, on Sunday, October 24, at Madison Square Garden against The Scum. Then the Rags come to the Prudential on Friday, November 5. The first game of the season against the Islanders is on Friday, November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, at the Nassau Coliseum, followed the next day by the first game of the season against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers, at The Rock.

Days until Rutgers and Army play the first college football game at the new Meadowlands Stadium: 98.

Days until the next North London Derby: 134, on Saturday, November 20, at New Highbury. The English Premier League schedule has been released as well.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 139.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 314 (estimated).

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 490.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 645 (estimated).

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 733.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 831 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 1,094 (estimated).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 1,303.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,757 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,781 (estimated).

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