Friday, October 7, 2011

Top 5 Reasons the Yankees Lost the Division Series

Tigers 3, Yankees 2. Detroit advances to meet the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series.

The Yankees go home, having spent over $200 million to win the AL Eastern Division, but to go no further.

Some of you may be thinking, "Explain this bullshit." Okay, I will.

Top 5 Reasons the Yankees Lost the American League Division Series

5. CC Sabathia. A run in the rain-interrupted Game 1 -- didn't make much of a difference. A weak performance in Game 3 -- made all the difference in the world. A run in his brief appearance in Game 5 -- made all the difference in the world.

Like Andy Pettitte in 2001, like David Wells in 2003, like Kevin Brown in 2004, like Randy Johnson in 2005 and 2006, like Chien-Ming Wang in 2007, he picked a hell of a time to have a bad run.

Fortunately, like Pettitte and Wells, but unlike Brown, Johnson and Wang, he has helped the Yankees win a World Series, so I can't be too hard on him. He's still the ace. He's still a horse. This time, the horse ran a bad race.

4. Ted Barrett. Tonight's home plate umpire had a horrible strike zone, giving the Tigers strikes on pitches that were low, and on pitches that were outside, and squeezing the Yankee pitchers.

For the 2nd year in a row, the Yankee season ended with a strikeout of Alex Rodriguez. This time, A-Rod took the bat off his shoulder with 2 strikes. But don't blame him: The first 2 pitches he took were out of the strike zone, and Barrett called them strikes anyway, the bastard. Whether he is a lying bastard or an incompetent one, you may decide for yourself. Either way, he should never umpire in another postseason game.

But it's ridiculous to blame the officiating. Unless you're Arsenal Football Club, who get screwed by referees all the time. And the Yankees are not The Arsenal. So let's move on to a far more culpable culprit.

3. The Bats Went Cold. The Yankees scored 9 runs in the first 7 innings of this series. Taking out the 8th inning of Game 4, in the last 37 innings of this series they scored 11 runs. That's an average of 2.68 runs per game, and you do not win postseason series with that kind of run production.

"Pitching wins championships." The hell it does, when you score only 2 and 2/3 runs per game. Tonight, the Yankees got 10 hits, but only 2 runs -- one on a Robinson Cano homer, the other on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Mark Teixeira. Twice, they left the bases loaded.

In particular, Teix, A-Rod, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Andruw Jones had bad series at the plate. Derek Jeter was okay. The only productive Yankee hitters were Cano, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and, surprisingly, Jorge Posada -- whom we have almost certainly seen in a big-league, or at least in a Yankee, uniform for the last time. (Snif... )

Only tears from me tonight. I'm disappointed, but not heartbroken. Still, how am I going to explain this to the nieces? Ah, they're 4 years old, they'll be fine. I didn't get upset over a Yankee postseason loss until I was almost 11.

Anyway... We can blame A-Rod for striking out to end the 7th (with the bases loaded) and the 9th (with the season on the line). However, we should not blame him for not scoring on that Brett Gardner single in the 4th. He would have been out at the plate. That was a smart play. Jeter couldn't get a hit as a result.

But blaming A-Rod is only a fraction of the story. Sometimes, a player carries a team on his back. Sometimes, one player screws everything up. But, usually, winning is a team effort, and losing is a team effort. This loss was a team effort. The Yankees, as a whole, did not get the job done.

Let us note that A-Rod, Teix and Swish did help us win the 2009 World Series. As did CC. As did A.J. Burnett, one of the few Yankees to really come through in this series. Granderson certainly deserves our thanks. Martin? He had a decent season for us, I can't be mad at him.

So who am I mad at? One Yankee in particular. Yes, he was involved in the 2009 World Series win. But he was a big part of the Yankees not winning both last season and this.

2. Joe Girardi. He panicked. Ivan Nova allowed 2 runs in the first 2 innings, and Girardi took him out. A guy hasn't lost in 4 months, and you take him out after 2 innings? What the hell?

Girardi then used Phil Hughes for 4 outs, and Boone Logan for 2. No, you do NOT use Boone Logan in a win-or-it's-over game. EVER. He got away with it. Then he uses CC Sabathia, the ace, in relief, on just 2 days' rest, and CC doesn't respond well (I can hardly blame him, it was hardly an ideal situation), and he allowed what turned out to be the decisive run. Then Girardi used Rafael Soriano for the 6th and 7th, David Robertson in the 8th and Mariano Rivera in the 9th.

If George Steinbrenner were alive and, as they say in English soccer, in his pomp, Girardi would have his walking papers already. This was dipstick managing. He should have left Nova in to work out of it. He trusted Nova for most of the season, but when he most needed to trust Nova, Nova found out he couldn't trust his manager.

I can't fairly say that Joe Girardi lost this series. I can failry say that Joe Girardi lost the deciding game of this series. If Nova had pitched 7, or even 6 innings, and allowed just 3 runs, I couldn't complain about his performance. But Girardi refused to trust his pitcher. Considering how Girardi managed this series, and last year's ALCS against the Rangers, if I were the owner, I'd fire him.

UPDATE: It has since been revealed that Nova was injured in this game. It explains why he didn't pitch further. That's no excuse for how Girardi handled pitchers otherwise in this game, and this series.

1. The Tigers Are Good. In a situation like this, the natural Reason Number 1 is "The other team was better." Well, I don't think the Tigers are better. I do, however, think they were worthy champions. They got the hits they needed to get the runs they needed. They got the pitching they needed and the defense they needed. The Tigers won 2 out of 3 at Yankee Stadium II. They got the job done, and the Yankees didn't.

And I hope the Tigers continue to get the job done and beat those inbred Bush-and-Perry-voting rednecks and win their 11th AL Pennant.

1 comment:

voodooeconomix said...

The Shock and Awe Yankees.
All year long I've said it. 100 times at least. NY couldn't win a close game and couldn't win from behind. They weren't a tough team. They'd pile on one game and then lose a one run game the next.  A-Rod hit a grand slam in a rout against Baltimore. 15-2 or some ungodly rout in Baltimore's house. He loved to beat em when they were down. The Yankees would get fired up kicking a weaker team all across the park. A baseball version of Shock and Awe. But like Bush's failed War policy the Shock and Awe seemed to inspire a rag tag rebellion that seemed a nuisance at first and a deadly insurgency by the end.  Tight clutch spots made overpaid pretty boys  like A-Rod  look  like he was in front of a firing squad. And an Imperial hubris was the undoing of the mighty Yankees.
Much of this is on Girardi as a leader. He didn't create a can do spirit in tough ball games that gives a team confidence that they can win any game. He'd bring his "losing" bull pen in when they were only down 2 runs in the 6th as if they were out of the game. When he did that in Boston I was doubtful. Now I'm sure this team needed to learn how to win hard fought victories and not just the easy pickings.  Girardi  put the win off til tomorrow as a habit. They chose to win the easy ones. And let the tough fights like against the Sox go. "We'll get em tomorrow" is fine when there's another game. But now there's no tomorrow. Only next year. And Girardi's approach stands exposed in it's weakness. You have to learn to win tough games. You can't hold off til the end to start winning the tough ones. A team needs to experience scrappy victories throughout the season. Billy Martin knew that. He was a troubled man but a great leader in a fire fight. I only hope Girardi reflects this season on his approach and Manages for tougher  victories next year