Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Game's Easy, Joe

Richie Ashburn, whose career as a player juuuust good enough to make the Hall of Fame and a beloved, storytelling, birthday/anniversary-wishing, restaurant-plugging broadcaster made him the Phil Rizzuto of Philadelphia, used to tell his Phillies broadcast partner Harry Kalas, "The game's easy, Harry, when you get good pitching, you get good fielding, and you score a few."

And when you don't get 'em, the game's hard.

Richie -- like Yankee Legend Edward Charles Ford, called Whitey because of his hair -- would have hated yesterday's Yankee game. Manager Joe Girardi made it a lot harder than it had to be.

Having lost 3 straight, and 6 of their last 7, including the lugubrious 6-0 defeat by the Kansas City Royals the night before, the Yankees sent Phil Hughes to the mound. When he's gotten run support, he's been fine; when he hasn't gotten it, well, the game hasn't been easy, Harry.

Last night, Hughes didn't get much run support. Robinson Cano hit his 5th home run of the year in the 4th. In the 5th, Mark Teixeira led off with a much-needed (for him and for the team) single to right, and got to 2nd on a fielding error. Russell Martin, perhaps in even more dire need of a hit, was hit by a pitch. Dewayne Wise loaded the bases with a bunt single, and Derek Jeter singled Teix home. Curtis Granderson then got Martin home on a groundout.

Those three runs would be all the Yankees got, but it didn't matter, because, last night, it was enough support for Phil Hughes. He pitched six strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.

Then Girardi made it harder than it had to be. When I was a kid, the idea of using six pitchers to limit a team to two runs would have been considered ludicrous.

Girardi used Cory Wade for the first two outs of the 7th, Boone Logan for the last out of the 7th, Cody Eppley for the first out of the 8th, Clay Rapada for the last two outs of the 8th, and Rafael Soriano for the 9th.

Unless these guys have clauses in their contracts giving them bonuses for "holds" instead of saves, what the hell was Girardi doing?

Anyway, this nutty setup worked. Yankees 3, Royals 2. WP: Hughes (4-5). SV: Soriano (3). LP: Luke Hochevar (3-5).

Tonight, the Yankees conclude the series with the Royals. Hopefully, Girardi will remember not to make the game any harder than it is. Because, when you do it right, the game's easy, Joe.

Andy Pettitte continues his comeback, and the Royals are starting Will Smith.

No, not the actor who played the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, an alien-hunter in 4 movies (Independence Day and the Men In Black franchise) and Muhammad Ali, and now wants to play President Obama. That Will Smith might have been just fine for fans of the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs.

No, this Will Smith is much more compatible with the Republican-voting, birth-certificate-demanding, "God Hates Fags," "What's the Matter With Kansas?" types who used to come to Kauffman Stadium when it was still Royals Stadium, and cheer George Brett and Paul Splittorff (white); give the lightest of assent to Hal McRae, Frank White and Al Cowens (black); and hate the Yankees for their mixed-race lineup first and their big money second.

He's a soon-to-be 23-year-old righthander from Georgia... and he's making his major league debut. Which means the Yankees have never seen him before. Uh-oh... The Yankees might just have a better chance in a movie not only starring, but scripted by, the other Will Smith (a Philadelphia native and a Phillies fan).

Interesting side note: His son, Willard Christopher Smith III, a.k.a. Trey Smith, was a wide receiver at Oaks Christian School in the Los Angeles suburbs. His quarterback was Nick Montana, son of Joe. Nick's backup was Trevor Gretzky, brother of Paulina.

Trey Smith now plays at the University of Northern Arizona, a Division I-AA school (or whatever that classification is called now). Nick Montana has already started one game at quarterback for the University of Washington, which has produced some pretty good quarterbacks over the years, most notably Warren Moon. He will probably be their regular starter at some point. Trevor Gretzky's best sport isn't hockey or football, it's baseball: He plays at San Diego State, and has already been drafted by the Chicago Cubs.

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