Thursday, September 25, 2014

Once More Unto the Breach for Jeter

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
-- William Shakespeare, opening lines, Henry V

Tonight, weather permitting, the New York Yankees shall play Derek Jeter's last home game.

It would be a terrible pity if the game gets rained out (as it still, at this writing, might), and last night's debacle was his last.

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I'm 2 games behind in my blogging. On Tuesday night, the Yankees fell behind the Baltimore Orioles 4-0, and looked pathetic. Brandon McCarthy didn't have it, and the bats gave him little backup.

The Yankees clawed back, thanks in part to Brian McCann. He got 2 hits, including his 23rd home run of the season, to raise his batting average to... .235. Still pathetic, for the money the Yankees are paying him.

The Yankees could get no closer than 5-4. WP: Ubaldo Jimenez (6-9). SV: Zach Britton (36). LP: McCarthy (10-15).

*

Then, yesterday afternoon -- I don't know why it was an afternoon game when it wasn't a weekend day or a getaway day -- the Yankees were even worse. They gave Shane Greene a 3-0 lead after 3 innings, but, in the 4th, he completely imploded, allowing 6 runs.

Homers by Stephen Drew (his 7th, raising his average to .165), Chase Headley (his 13th, rasing his average to .242) and Mark Teixeira (his 22nd, raising his average to .219) were not enough. Orioles 9, Yankees 5. WP: Bud Norris (15-8). SV: Darren O'Day (4). LP: Greene (5-4).

With the loss, the Yankees were eliminated from postseason eligibility with 4 games to go. This is only the 3rd time since the Strike year of 1994 that the Yankees haven't made the Playoffs, and the first time since 1992-93 that we haven't made it in back-to-back full seasons.

*

The Orioles have clinched the American League Eastern Division, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the AL West, the Washington Nationals the National League East, and the Los Angeles Dodgers the NL West, by virtue of beating their arch-rivals, the San Francisco Giants, last night.

The St. Louis Cardinals are likely to win the NL Central, while the AL Central remains up for grabs between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. The Tigers have clinched at least a Wild Card berth. The Royals are likely to win at least the other Wild Card, making the Playoffs for the 1st time since 1985 -- 29 years. This would leave the Toronto Blue Jays, who haven't made it since winning the 1993 World Series, as the only current Major League Baseball team that has not made the Playoffs in the 21st Century. The Oakland Athletics are likely to win the other AL Wild Card, while the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians still have remote chances. The Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates have clinched the NL Wild Cards.

The Yankees? 51 postseason berths (not counting 1994, when they were in 1st place when the Strike ended the season), 48 1st-place finishes, 40 Pennants, and 27 World Championships.

The teams that are likely to play in this year's postseason? The Cardinals have won 11 titles, the A's 9 (if you count the 5 they won in Philadelphia), the Giants 7 (if you count the 5 they won in New York), the Dodgers 6 (if you count the 1 they won in Brooklyn), the Pirates 5, the Tigers 4, the Orioles 3, the Angels and Royals 1 each, the Nationals none (not even as the Montreal Expos).

If you only count what they've won in their current cities, between them, those 10 teams have won 36 World Series -- the Yankees have won 75 percent of that total all by themselves.

None of which helps the Yankees this season.

And so, the only pressure on the Yankees tonight -- presuming the game is played, and, at the moment, is still scheduled -- is to get a win in Derek Jeter's last home game.

Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to start for the Yankees, Kevin Gausman for the Orioles.

Come on you Pinstripes. The only thing left to do it for is the Captain.

Because, after tonight, the next time we see Derek Jeter in a Yankee home uniform, it will be on Old-Timers' Day.

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