Saturday, September 7, 2013

One Damn Thing After Another

NOTE: Due to a glitch, this was the last post I was able to make until October 15, 2013.

Sometimes, there's a game that makes you think that this is it, the season is lost, there is no more hope.

Sometimes, there's a game that make you think that this is it, we're back in the race, anything is possible, baby!

Thursday night's series opener between the Yankees and the Red Sox was the former.  And then the latter.  And then the former again.

Oh well, "Tomorrow is another day, right?"

As the late great Yankee Fan (well, he wasn't a great Yankee Fan, but he was great and a Yankee Fan) George Carlin would have said, "No, today is another day.  Tomorrow might be another day, but by the time you find out, it won't be tomorrow anymore, it'll be today."

"Baseball is a 19th Century pastoral game," Carlin liked to say.  "Football is a 20th Century technological struggle." Clearly, when he said that for the first time, he wasn't thinking of the Yanks-Sox rivalry.

Well, Mark Twain -- born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and Roger Clemens claims that he's related -- might have enjoyed Carlin's sense of humor, liberal use of profanity (something Twain said "provides a relief denied even to prayer), and innate misanthrophy.  But he would have disagreed with Carlin on baseball being pastoral.  Living his most successful years in Hartford, Connecticut, 101 miles from Fenway Park and 110 miles from Yankee Stadium, he wrote in 1889:

Base ball, which is the very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive, and push, and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing booming nineteenth century!

Twain lived in that century, before there even was a New York Yankees and a Boston Red Sox -- although he did see the New York Giants and the Boston Beaneaters, forerunners of today's San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves -- so he knew.  And he would not have been surprised in the slightest to see the animosity between the teams' fans.  He might even have enjoyed it.

But he certainly wouldn't have agreed that "Tomorrow is another day." He was quoted as saying, "Life is one damned thing after another."

He would have understood the Thursday and Friday games of this Yanks-Sox series.

Although, as a native of Hannibal, Missouri, he might have been more partial to the St. Louis Cardinals.

*

Going into the bottom of the 7th inning on Thursday night, all seemed lost for the Yankees.  They were down 7-2.  Jake Peavy, who won the 2007 National League Cy Young Award with the San Diego Padres, winner of 131 major league games against just 98 losses going into that game, twice an NL leader in both ERA and strikeouts (2005 and '07), and possessor of a career WHIP of 1.174, he was cruising for the Sox to whom the Chicago White Sox had traded him just before the deadline.  Great pickup for The Scum.

To make matters worse, Ivan Nova didn't have it, and only pitched 4 innings.  Preston Claiborne, who's also having a great year, was even worse, pitched to 5 batters and didn't get a single one out.  And Adam Warren allowed the 7th Sox run.  So that's why it looked hopeless going into the bottom of the 7th.

But Ichiro Suzuki led off the inning with a walk.  Vernon Wells, pinch-hitting for catcher Chris Stewart, singled Ichiro over to 3rd.

No one knew it at the time, but the game was lost at that moment.  Not because Wells was in the game, but because Stewart was out -- and because backup catcher Austin Romine would have to come in.  Meanwhile, while Russell Martin, whom Yankee general manager Brian Cashman let go after 2 seasons, is batting just .239 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he does have 13 home runs and 51 RBIs.

Red Sox manager John Farrell replaced Peavy with Matt Thornton.  It didn't work: Brett Gardner singled Ichiro home.

Derek Jeter was up.  Wells stole 3rd base.  One of "the unwritten rules of baseball" is "Never make the first or third out at third base." (If you're an NCIS fan, it's not a Gibbs Rule.  But it should be treated as if it were.) But, with nobody out, Wells stole 3rd base.  He made it, but it was risky.  Especially while still down by 5 runs.  If the Yankees had been down by 1 run, maybe; but this isn't Fenway Park, with that close wall in left field: A single by Jeter would probably have scored Wells from 2nd.  It would certainly have scored Wells from 3rd, and possibly also Gardner from 2nd -- except Garder, the fastest man on the team, didn't even try to steal 2nd.  He probably could have gotten it.

Both decisions -- Wells' to steal 3rd, and Gardner's to not steal 2nd -- ended up not mattering, as Jeter drew a walk.  Now Wells was on 3rd, Gardner on 2nd, and Jeter on 1st.  And there was still nobody out.

The batter was Robinson Cano, whose 3rd inning double scored the 2 runs with which the Yankees came into the inning.  He grounded to 2nd, and Dustin Pedroia threw to Stephen Drew to force Jeter out at 2nd, but Drew couldn't get the ball to 1st baseman Daniel Nava in time to get the double play.  And even if he had, that would have meant 2 outs instead of 1, but Wells would still have scored.  Now there were men on 1st & 3rd, 1 out, and it was 7-4 Sox.

Farrell took out Thornton, and brough t in Junichi Tazawa.  Yankee Fans will remember Tazawa as the man whose major league debut came on August 7, 2009, and consisted of pitching the bottom of the 14th inning and getting the 1st 2 outs in the bottom of the 15th, before Alex Rodriguez took him deep to win a previously scoreless game, 2-0.  After spending all of 2010 and most of 2011 iun the minors, he has settled down to become a mainstay of the Boston bullpen.

But this time, Alfonso Soriano singled to right, scoring Gardner to make it 8-5.  Curtis Granderson doubled to right, scoring Cano to make it 7-6.

Tazawa struck out A-Rod.  Sure, now.

But Lyle Overbay singled to right, and suddenly, after it seemed so hopeless, now we had ourselves an 8-7 Yankee lead!

Somewhere, in that great press box in the sky, Mel Allen was yelling, "How about that!" And Phil Rizzuto was yelling, "I tell ya, Mel, this is unbelievable, these Yankees can get the clutch hits, holy cow!"

All the Yankees had to do was get 6 more outs, without allowing another run, and it would be their biggest win of the season.

David Robertson pitched a perfect 8th.  Mariano Rivera came out for the 9th.  He got David Ortiz, the big fat lying cheating bastard, to hit a line shot to Overbay at 1st base.  One out.  He got Nava to ground to Overbay.  Two out.  Two strikes on Mike Napoli.  One strike to go.  Typical Riveran piece of cake.

Napoli singled to center, and was replaced by pinch-runner Quintin Berry.  So what, one more out.  The batter was Stephen Drew.

Shades of Dave Roberts in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, Berry tried to steal 2nd.  And Romine, behind the plate, tried to throw him out.

And failed.  The ball sailed into center field, and Berry got to 3rd.  And Stephen Drew singled to right, scoring Berry to tie the game.

Okay, if Romine had made a good throw and Berry had still been safe, had only gotten to 2nd, Drew's single might well have still tied the game.  But Romine still fucked the game up more than Mo had.  And even if he hadn't, Mo has earned a few passes.  What has Romine ever earned?

What did that unwritten rule say about making the first or last out at 3rd base? It didn't say anything about making the 2nd out there.  But in the bottom of the 9th, after Cano lined out, Soriano walked, stole 2nd, and then, when a Granderson single could have gotten him home, tried to steal 3rd, just as Wells had.  Unlike Wells, he was easily out.  And Granderson struck out to send the game to extra innings.

It was then that manager Joe Girardi decided he didn't want to win the game.  Because he brought in Joba Chamberlain.  Remember when we loved Joba? Remember when he was unhittable? Remember when he had great control? Remember when he was "only" 250 pounds? Well, those days are gone, probably forever.  On the morning of September 29, the day after the regular season ends, hopefully, so is Joba.  Thanks for helping us win the 2009 World Series, now, here's your hat, what's your hurry?

Joba got Will Middlebrooks to fly out to lead off the top of the 10th.  Then he allowed a single to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Ellsbury, stole 2nd.  Shane Victorino, the "Flyin' Hawaiian" formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008-09 Pennant winners, singled him home.  9-8 Sox.

Joba got Pedroia to fly out, and then Girardi pulled him.  For Boone Logan.  Who was apparently in the game to A, pitch lefty-on-lefty to Ortiz; and B, make my head explode.  Bringing in Boone Logan to pitch to David Ortiz is like putting Woody Allen in a boxing ring to fight Mike Tyson.

Apparently, Joba was unhappy with the strike-zone calls from home plate umpire Rob Drake.  So 1st base umpire Joe West, the crew chief and one of the most hated umpires in the game -- not just for his incompetence but for the general perception that he's an asshole -- threw Joba out of the game.  When he was already out of the game.  I guess he wanted Joba out of the dugout, where he didn't want to hear Joba's whining.  O the irony, since West has been known to have an off-field whine now and then.

Girardi ordered Logan to walk Ortiz intentionally, to set up a force play.  Well, then what the hell was the point of bringing Logan in in the first place? Well, the next batter was Nava.  Lefty hitter as well? Not quite: Switch-hitter.  And Farrell called him back to the dugout and sent up Brandon Snyder, a righthanded hitter.  So Logan's presence in the game is not only no longer necessary, but it's a liability.  But Logan got Snyder to fly to center.

Bottom of the 10th.  Koji Uehara pitching for Boston.  Time for A-Rod to be clutch, right? Right.  Well, you know that, and I know that, but A-Rod didn't know that: He popped up.  Overbay and Ichiro struck out.  The Sox won.

WP: Craig Breslow (5-2).  SV: Uehara (18).  LP: Chamberlain (2-1).

Absolutely crushing defeat for Boston (which they can afford) turned into absolutely crushing defeat for teh Yankees (which we cannot.)

*

"Life is one damned thing after another," Twain said.  Or is it? Edna St. Vincent Millay, who lived in New York in the times of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, contradicted him: "Life isn't just one damn thing after another, it's the same damn thing over and over and over again."

Groundhog Day.  Starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.  Except, in the Friday night game, there was nobody on the field who looked as good as Andie MacDowell, who still looks good enough to appear in L'Oreal cosmetics commercials at age 55.  Because she's worth it.

The 2013 New York Yankees have not been worth it.

When the Saturday game began, I still wanted to kill Romine.  When it ended, I no longer wanted to kill Romine.  I did, however, go back to wanting to kill Logan.

Andy Pettitte pitched 6 innings, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, striking out 8.  He threw 100 pitches.  A manager who had a clue would have left him in to pitch the 7th.

But Joe Girardi doesn't have a fucking clue.  He decided this moment was the one in which to reintroduce Phil Hughes, who is having one of the worst seasons any Yankee pitcher has ever had, as a reliever.

The score was 8-3 in favor of the Yankees.  Soriano had started the scoring with his 30th homer of the season in the 1st inning, of Felix Doubront, and the Yanks coasted from there.  Surely, even the 2013 edition of Phil Hughes can't blow a 5-run lead, can he?

As it turned out, the answer was, "No, not by himself."

Hughes allowed a single by David Ross.  A flyout by Middlebrooks.  A single by Victorino.  A walk to Mike Carp to load the bases.  An infield single by Pedroia.

8-4 Yankees.  Bases loaded with 1 out.  Ortiz coming up.

Girardi: "Duhhhh, gee, I don't know what to do here.  I mean, here's Big Papi coming up.  And I've got Hughes on the mound, I'd better take him out.  But, duhhhh, who do I bring in? Do I bring in a pitcher who has proven he can get lefthanded hitters out? Or do I play the percentages and bring in Logan? Duhhhh, I'm too stupid to figure this out for myself, so I'm going to consult my binder!"

Binder: "Bring in Logan."

Girardi: "Duhhhh, okay."

Am I being too hard on Girardi?

Maybe: Logan struck the big fat lying cheating bastard out.  So now the bases are still loaded, but there are 2 out.

Girardi: "Duhhhh, hey, it worked! It actually worked! Hey, maybe I should leave Logan in.  After all, the next batter is Napoli, and he's righthanded, but, duhhhh, if Logan can get Big Papi out, he can get anybody out.  I'm going to leave Logan in."

Logan: "Skip, are you kidding me? Well, I might as well do the best I can."

Every Red Sox fan in the world: "Yes! We've got the fucking Yankees now! Wicked pissah!"

Logan: "Don't think, Meat, just throw... "

Napoli: "Oh boy! Here comes a nice, juicy meatball! I'm going to hit it to the opposite field for a grand slam home run!"

Ichiro: "Uh-oh, here it comes.  Well, no sweat, I can catch this.  I got it.  I got it.  Uh-oh, no, I don't got it.  It's going over my head and into the seats.  (Whatever is the Japanese version of, "Damn!")"

John Sterling: "Haddaya like that! The Red Sox have come all the way back to tie it, at 8 to 8.  You know, Suzyn, you just can't predict baseball."

Suzyn Waldman: "Yes, you can, John.  It was Boone Logan pitching to a righthanded power hitter." (Okay, John & Suzyn didn't really say that.  As for the others, I can neither confirm nor deny.)

Me: "I don't believe it! How could that stupid Girardi leave that worthless fucking Logan in? To face a righthanded hitter! With power! The one time he doesn't consult that damn binder of his, and this happens? Fucking hell! I want that stupid Girardi fired! If George was still alive, and the way he was, he'd fire Girardi on the spot! He wouldn't even leave the game with a job, much less the Stadium! Come on, Hank and Hal, fire him now! And get rid of that fucking Logan, too!"

Girardi: "Duhhhh, what happened?"

Logan: "Eh, so what.  Long as I'm lefthanded and Joe's the manager, I still got a job."

For the record, this season, Logan is slated to make $3,150,000.  Let me spell that out: Three million, one hundred fifty thousand dollars.  Or about $3.1 million more than he's worth.

Logan then allowed a single to Nava.  Girardi finally saw enough.  He pulled Logan for Claiborne, who got Drew to fly out to end the inning.

The Yankees went 1-2-3 in the 7th, including an inning-ending strikeout of one Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Claiborne had nothing in the 8th, allowing a 2-run homer to Victorino.  Girardi pulled him for Joba.

That's right: Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain.  The Three Stooges of the Yankee pitching staff, all within 1 inning.  As an Arsenal fan, I had flashbacks of Manuel Almunia, Denilson (Pereira Neves) and Abou Diaby.  (If you're an Arsenal fan, and you think Diaby is great when he's healthy, then you're stupid enough to be a Tottenham fan.  Diaby sucks.  Maybe he was good before the injuries, but he's been crap since.  Hence, the analogy to Joba.)

Joba threw enough gasoline on the fire to make it 12-8 Boston at the end of the inning.  The Yankees got Eduardo Nunez to 2nd and Stewart to 1st with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, but Gardner struck out.  The bottom of the 9th was a Jeter groundout, a Soriano strikeout, and a Cano strikeout.

WP: Brandon Workman (5-2).  LP: Claiborne (0-2), but the real fault lies with Logan.  Logan's Litany of Losing: Game Number 34.

*

Just as I started by quoting comedy legends Mark Twain and George Carlin, now I quote comedy legend Bill Cosby: "You should never challenge 'worse.' Don't ever say, 'Things can't get any worse!' 'Worse' is rough!"

In this series, the Yankees have scored 8, 8 and 9 runs.  And have lost 3 straight.

David Huff, who took Hughes' place in the rotation, got shelled today, allowing 9 runs, and didn't even get out of the 4th inning.  Jim Miller and Brett Marshall, also rookie callups, weren't a lot better.  Although Ichiro, Gardner, Nunez and Mark Reynolds hit doubles, and Gardner and Reynolds each had 2 RBIs, the Yankees were losing 12-3 going into the bottom of the 6th.

And then, they mounted another comeback.  They scored 4 runs in the 6th, and 2 more in the 8th.  It was 12-9! But Napoli hit another homer, and that was it: Sox 13, Yanks 9.

WP: John Lackey (9-12).  No save necessary.  LP: Huff (2-1).

Oh yeah: Jeter had to leave the game, having reaggravated the ankle injury he sustained last October.  Who knows when he'll be back.  Tomorrow? Next week? Next season? Oy...

*

So, going into tomorrow's series finale with The Scum, the Yankees are 11 games behind in the Division, 10 in the loss column -- as if that's worth caring about anymore.  In the Wild Card race, the Yankees trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 3 games for the 2nd AL Wild Card -- 4 in the loss column.  The elimination number is 9 for the Division, 19 for the Wild Card.

"Life is one damn thing after another." Or "Life is the same damn thing over and over."

Does it matter which it really is?

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