Monday, April 30, 2007

The Monster Sleeps

The Yankees have gotten off to bad starts before, horrible even (11-19 in 2005). Something feels different this year, though. Something's off. Something's missing.

Namely, the presence of George Steinbrenner, who has grown increasingly invisible and mute over the past couple years. Say what you want about Steinbrenner's impulsiveness, but he always offered Yankees fans a certain comfort level when the team struggled. When the Yankees lost, you simply knew that George Steinbrenner would not allow it to continue. He would do anything in his power to ensure the sea would change.

In days of better health, Streinbrenner's ominous spectre would loom larger with each passing loss, each bullpen implosion. Each day that eclipsed without a word from The Boss only meant his eventual wrath would be that much more terrifying.

Steinbrenner couldn't be counted on to make sane, rational, or even good decisions. But you always knew he'd do something, anything, to shake things up and change momentum. A firing here, a well-placed tirade to the media there, and things would turn around. It was a culture of fear, a reign of terror, and it often didn't even work. But it helped fans psychologically.

There is little more frustrating in sports than watching a supposedly good team struggle inexplicably. Fans are by their nature powerless. By stepping in, full of bluster, passion and rage, George Steinbrenner served as the fans' surrogate. He was acting on our behalf, because he was essentially the same as us, only richer. He wanted to win so desperately it drove him to the brink of insanity. The ultimate psycho fan.

When Steinbrenner fired a manager, or made a cruel remark about a player in his doghouse, he made all Yankees fans feel empowered. Screaming impotently from the bleachers at Danny Tartabull or Hideki Irabu was no longer a meaningless, spleen-venting waste of time. Someone was listening.

And now, even as a groundswell of whispers builds in the press, as Howard Rubenstein makes a series of statements signifying nothing, the owner's box is empty. The back pages scream and the fans wail, but nothing can be done. There is no guillotine hanging over Joe Torre's head, no end in sight to day after day of lackluster, uninspired play.

Steinbrenner's health has clearly deteriorated to the point where he cannot, or will not, effect change. He won't allow himself to be seen publicly, and there are no videos of him angrily storming past reporters after another brutal loss. A sad day is coming, or perhaps it's already here.

Just Another Day in Paradise

The Yankees really needed to take two out of three this weekend. It's still too soon to panic (said the broken record), especially with the starting rotation getting healthy, but losing five of six to Boston in the early-going is a major blow.

The whole team looks flat and timid right now, and since ARod has finally cooled off, the lineup is not producing nearly enough...especially against the likes of Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez. Johnny Damon is clearly hurt, and not pulling his weight. Unfortunately, Melky Cabrera seems to have regressed wildly and offers no assurances as a back-up. Robinson Cano is off to a sluggish, ever impatient start. Minky is Minky. Not filling the starting first base and backup catcher roles in the off-season is haunting Brian Cashman sooner than expected.

The bullpen continues to bleed runs as if Felix Heredia and Juan Acevedo were still around. Joe Torre's handling of said bullpen continues to be alarming, if not downright dangerous to the health of his pitchers. What can possible run through Scott Proctor's mind as he gets the call to start warming up yet again?

Although the calendar hasn't turned to May yet, the Yankees find themselves 6.5 games behind Boston, with only 12 games remaining against the Red Sox with which to make up ground directly. There's also the small matter that the Red Sox look like the better-constructed roster thus far. That might not be the case in August, but no argument can be made that the Yankees have the better team today.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pedro Redux

In two starts against the Yankees, Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched 13.1 innings and yielded 10 earned runs. His stuff looks terrific, but the Yankees' lineup appears to have his number. Heralded as "The Japanese Pedro" upon signing with Boston, perhaps Douche-K is more like Pedro than anyone imagined: a great pitcher who the Yankees own.

As for the rest of the game last night, I seem to be experiencing some sort of blackout or memory lapse. I can't remember anything except success against Douche-K for a second straight outing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Ten Most Loathsome Red Sox of All Time

In honor of this weekend's clash, and after much research, deliberation and debate, Psycho Fan Inc. presents the 10 most loathsome players ever to disgrace themselves by putting on that ugly, undistinguished red and white uniform:

10. Pedro Martinez
Now that Pedro Martinez has become the clown prince of New York, it's all too easy to forget what a despicable figure he was during his time in Boston. An agitator and a headhunter, Martinez routinely threw at the heads of opposing hitters, taunted rival players and pointed and gestured at the other team's dugout. He also hurled an elderly man with a head injury into the ground with force. The Zimmer incident became a joke, but Martinez never caught the heat he deserved for it. Slippery like a Teflon don, he eluded responsibility for most of the ugly incidents he caused. He was also responsible for thousands of Dominican fans showing up at Yankee Stadium wearing Martinez T-shirts and jerseys (though, unbeknownst to them, some of them were Tino Martinez jerseys), and beating homemade percussion instruments while cheering wildly for the Red Sox. Pedro is also the author of the most obvious and least effective attempt at reverse psychology in history when he called the Yankees his daddy.

9. Jerry Remy
The Massholes love and embrace "The Rem Dawg" as one of their own because of his cutesy common-man approach to broadcasting and unspeakably unpleasant accent. He ranks just below Hawk Harrelson and Bert Blyleven on the "worst analysts in baseball" list. A mediocre second baseman at his best, he nonetheless ranked #100 on Bill James's list of the best second basemen of all time, thanks to the obvious pro-Boston bias of the author. He makes references to something called "Rem Dawg Nation." The hokiest of the hokey, sycophantic and cloying, Remy needs to be put out to pasture.

8. Kevin Millar
Popularized the phrase "cowboy up." Spoke and acted like an important player, when he was, in fact, a lumbering oaf incapable of fielding any position, and an average hitter at best. Forever classy, admirably loyal, Millar served as a replacement player during the 1994 players' strike. Always ready with a ridiculous quote for frothing Boston media.

7. David Ortiz
Seen as a lovable, huggable giant, Ortiz is as ego-driven as any non-Schilling in baseball. Openly campaigned for the MVP award in September 2006 by attempting to throw Derek Jeter under the bus, when he was, in fact, not qualified to be MVP by virtue of being a DH and also fat. He has also cast some kind of black-magic voodoo spell on Joe Torre, convincing the Yankees' manager not to walk him under any circumstances.

6. Mike Greenwell
Part of the proud Red Sox history of loathsome left fielders patrolling the area in front of the Green Monster, Greenwell rocked one of the ugliest moustaches in baseball history. He has also attempted to use the steroid scandal to make himself look like a better hitter than he really was. In 1997, he signed with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese league, in an area recently devastated by a powerful earthquake. He abandoned the club after a few games, kicking the fans in the teeth on the way out. Now races stockcars or trucks or something, like the redneck he is. Attempted to steal the nickname "Gator" from its rightful owner, Ron Guidry.

5. Ted Williams
A surly, cranky son-of-a-bitch, like Ty Cobb without the racism. It's fitting for the city of Boston to detest its greatest sports hero for years, and for him to detest them right back. Only as he grew old and feeble, then died, did Red Sox fans embrace the greatest hitter who ever lived, more out of guilt than anything else. Williams didn't acknowledge the fans while playing, because his petty little ego didn't like occasional booing. His sensitivity makes ARod look callous by comparison. Boston got the "hero" it deserved, and Williams got the fan base he deserved. Also, the legend of Williams hitting a home run in his last at-bat is a manufactured fallacy. That at-bat occurred with three games left in the season, and Williams was held out for the remaining games, so the homer would be his last official act as a player. Hmm, that kind of self-aggrandizement reminds me of somebody...

4. Manny Ramirez
Portrayals of Manny as a simple, stupid man-child miss the point...dude's a thug. He stands at home plate watching endlessly after hitting home runs. He submarines his team with empirically proven lack of hustle, or worse, lack of playing altogether due to unhappiness and/or fake injuries. Ramirez needlessly escalated tensions in the Zimmer/Pedro game when he menacingly stared at the mound after Roger Clemens threw a fastball high and over the plate. Manny may in fact be simple and stupid, but he's also selfish as fuck.

3. Carl Yastrzemski
Amazingly, a Google search for "Carl Yastrzemski sucks" returns no results. Let's see if we can fix that.

2. Jason Varitek
If Derek Jeter is Captain Intangibles, Jason Varitek is Captain Douchey McDoucherton. He wears a "C" on his jersey, which looks ridiculous and serves to remind everyone what a self-important asshole Varitek is. His cheap shot with a glove to ARod's face, while wearing a mask, remains one of the great cowardly passive-aggressive moments in sports history. He truly represents everything wrong with the current full-of-themselves Sox squad. Sadly for Varitek, #2 is as high as he will ever rise on this list, because #1 is locked up for eternity by...

1. Curt Schilling
Someday, I'll run out of bad things to say about Curt Schilling. Thankfully, that day is a long way off, and he hasn't even started his political career yet. Someone needs to start a campaign to keep Schilling out of the Hall of Fame, because his induction speech would be the single worst moment in history, inducing mass vomiting across the country. Curt Schilling is: self-righteous, overrated, tubby, manipulative, deceitful, hostile, egotistical and dull. He is the most hateable player in the history of the most hateable franchise in sports, beloved by the most hateable fans in the world. It's the perfect storm of loathing.

Tales of a Self-Aggrandizing Motherfucker

Holy fucking shit. I'm linking to Eephus Pitch's fantastic coverage of the absolutely insane blog entry of Proud Warrior of God Curt Schilling because I steadfastly refuse to link to his blog directly. Certain germs don't wipe off easily.

Check out this business:

"People have asked and I have answered, but the mileage the media got from the incident is all of their own making. When I walked into the room for the post game interviews and offered up my first response to the questions about the game I basically said that the night was a revelation for me. That my faith in God that evening showed me things I’d never believed.

As I uttered those words I could see pretty much every person in that room roll their eyes and smirk. That’s not what any of them wanted to hear, truth or not. That was not good copy...

If you haven’t figured it out by now, working in the media is a pretty nice gig. Barring outright plagiarism or committing a crime, you don’t have to be accountable if you don’t want to. You can say what you want when you want and you don’t really have to answer to anyone. You can always tell the bigger culprits by the fact you never see their faces in the clubhouse. Most of them are afraid to show themselves to the subjects they rail on everyday..."

I don't even know where to start. Schilling's enmity to, and paranoia of, the media is inexplicable given how much he needs the press to help him prop up himself and his massive ego. Socko can't stand any negative comments about him in any situation, lest they tarnish his self-created legend. His overreaction to the fake-blood allegations speaks volumes. Most players would have laughed it off, but Schilling acts like Gary Thorne committed blasphemy, and he's using the opportunity to continue his holy war on the free press.

I also love Schilling's meme that reporters need to "show their faces in the clubhouse" after daring to portray players in a less than religious light. Big, tough Curt Schilling wants to fight. He'll show Gary Thorne what's what. Hold me back, Papi, hold me back! I'm gonna kill him! Hold me back! Wait, is that a buffet...

And what part of the night of Game 6 was a revelation for our hero, anyway? Was it the part when he carefully applied red paint to his sock? The part where Joe Torre refused to order his hitters to bunt on the injured pitcher, costing his team the game? God works in mysterious ways.

At any rate, Schilling's crazy rant is helping me get psyched up for this weekend's series. It's too bad he's not pitching, so we can show him who his daddy is again, but the douchefucker gets my blood flowing nonetheless.


All in all, more good than bad from Phil Hughes last night.

The kid definitely has major league stuff and poise, and he should be here to stay. He dominated the Jays' weaker hitters, particularly Adam Lind, but Toronto's three tough righties (Wells, Thomas and Rios) were all over Hughes with great swings and rocket line drives.

Hughes didn't throw as hard as I expected, living in the 91 MPH range and occasionally touching 94-95, which is where I thought he would throw consistently. I have two concerns after his first start: he gave up a lot of fly balls, especially to righties, and he doesn't seem to have that one dominant out pitch that screams "ace," a la a Johan Santana change-up or Felix Hernandez curveball.

That being said, I was impressed that Hughes kept attacking hitters, a refreshing change of pace after watching Igawa and most of the bullpen nibble at corners all year. Home plate umpire Ed Montague squeezed the kid a little, particularly against Vernon Wells, and the Blue Jays also took a smart, patient approach at the plate, taking a lot of pitches. The result was Hughes falling behind a lot and running up a high pitch count. He seemed to tire early, around the 80-pitch mark.

I remain supremely excited for the Phil Hughes era. Given all the hype that some overanxious assholes were pushing on the kid and his debut, he handled himself quite well, and I don't think you can call his performance a letdown.

Listen, on Jesus Christ's first day on Earth, he pretty much just laid around, cried, messed his pants and spit up. So, in that light, Hughes was pretty fucking impressive.

And I know Joe Torre doesn't trust young pitchers, but I don't remember him blatantly sabotaging one before, which is exactly what he did last night by batting Dougie Baseball second. With this pitching staff, the offense needs all the help it can get, and Minky, Miguel Cairo (whose poor fielding also cost Hughes dearly), and the rotting corpse currently serving as backup catcher are dragging the Yankees down at-bat by at-bat.

Batting Minky second in this lineup deserves its own post, but frankly, I'm tired. Joe Torre should know better.

Now, Pettitte vs. Douche-K tonight in the opener of a series the Yankees absolutely must win.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

One hour, fifty-six minutes, fifty-three seconds.

No pressure, kid.

Blood on the Dance Floor

The United States immediately needs to implement the British knighthood system, because no honor currently exists in our country great enough to thank Gary Thorne for the service he performed last night.

During the broadcast of the Orioles-Red Sox game, Thorne casually mentioned that Doug Mirabelli informed him that the "blood" on Curt Schilling's infamous sock was actually paint, as has long been suspected by the righteous among us.

Mirabelli et al. angrily denied the tale after the game, of course, but what else could they do? Schilling would literally eat him if he admitted revealing the truth to a member of the media. Both Mirabelli and Thorne need to be placed under the protection of some kind of whistleblower program.

All jokes aside, it is astounding that the "bloody" sock is actually in the Hall of Fame. The real one. The Baseball Hall of Fame. In Cooperstown. A sock.

Gary Thorne had absolutely no reason to say on air that Mirabelli told him something if it wasn't true, knowing full well that Mirabelli would be asked about it later. Curt Schilling painted his sock red for Game 6 of the ALCS. Period. This bloviating fuck fancies himself a hero, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure you think he's a hero too.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Across the land this morning, people are awakening to find that something feels...different. As they step outside to fetch their morning paper, they notice the air feels cleaner, somehow. Lighter. Easier to breathe.

The life-giving heat from the sun embraces the body, wrapping its warm tendrils of hazy yellow light tenderly around you in a gentle morning hug. There is no bad news in the paper today, or if there is, you don't notice it. The front section is filled with stories of puppy Labradors rescuing children from the lake and inexplicable upturns in the economy. The obituary page is empty.

The welcoming aroma from the Folgers crystals fills the house like a gentle "good morning" from the heavens. A happy tune fills your head, and you whistle it jauntily to yourself on the way to your fulfilling job.

Wives and husbands make sweet, delicate love, some for the first time in years. Barren women feel a strangle tickling in their uteri. Impotent men achieve impressive erections without the help of prescription medication. Parents keep their children home from school for the day, feeding them sugary cereals and dreamily promising them future trips to amusement parks.

In this springtime of our hearts, we lift our heads as one and look to the piercing blue sky, unsure of our direction but clear that it's the right one. In this resurrection of hope, this glorious rebirth of youth, we do not know ourselves any better but we love ourselves completely and without hesitation.

Babies born on this day will always feel special, as if they are destined for some greater realm, though they will never truly understand why. Fetuses with Down Syndrome will be born healthy. Today, leaders of men are born. The cross is in the ballpark.

Meanwhile, in an unholy land to the northeast, thunder clouds gather on the harbor. Lightning crackles but doesn't yet reach ground. A sudden chill assaults a city, and its denizens must dig their winter coats out of storage. The sickly odor of death creeps through the streets, infecting every alleyway with its swift poison. The beer in the Samuel Adams brewery goes stale, all at once and with no warning or explanation.

The dark lords of this unholy land gather in a secret meeting high above the crumbling tunnels and bridges. Cigars are smoked and theories are whispered, but no resolution is reached. They flee helplessly to the west, foolishly trying to outrun a power that knows no earthly bounds. A reckoning is upon this land. Why deny the obvious child?

Seven hours, thirty-six minutes, forty-eight seconds...

I'll Take the Rain

Last night's rainout gives the bullpen an extra day to rest their weary elbows and shoulders. Perhaps it will also give Joe Torre an extra day to reconsider his usage of said bullpen.

The day off also helps break up the momentum of this embarrassing five-game losing streak.

Cashman & co. are smart to allow Phil Hughes to pitch tonight on his normal rest. There's enough pressure on the kid without throwing him into the Yankees/Red Sox gauntlet in his first major league start. And Andy Pettitte's a Red Sox killer, and he'll now pitch Friday night against the evildoers.

All things considered, last night was the best the Yankees have played in a week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Seventeen games into the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees' season, let's take a look at the kids and see if anything's brewing. This isn't meant to be exhaustive coverage of the AAA squad...other blogs already have that covered. Just a quick once-over to see if any reinforcements are on the way. Not a lot of good news coming out of Pennsylvania so far.

  • Duncan has been named International League player of the week! It's finally happening! He's playing up to his potential, and turning it around after a slow start. There's hope for the future at first base! Oh, wait. Wrong Duncan.
  • Andy Phillips is only OPSing .780. Not exactly making a strong case to replace the useful Josh Phelps. His days as a legitimate big league contributor may be over.
  • Alberto Gonzalez, the slick-fielding SS waiting to take his place in the proud lineage of Luis Sojo, Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo as the Yankees' utility man, isn't hitting much either. We're stuck with Cairo all season.
  • Possible prospect Tyler Clippard is struggling, with a 5.14 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 14 innings.
  • Ross Ohlendorf, the top prize in the Randy Johnson trade, is flashing a gaudy 1.80 WHIP.
  • Chris Britton continues to waste away while Mike Myers and Luis Vizcaino blow ballgames.


That Cleveland series sure seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?

Last night's 6-4 loss to the D-rays was a sledgehammer to the gut. The Yankees got exactly what they needed out of Chien-Ming Wang's return, scraped together a few runs off the tough Scott Kazmir...and watched helplessly as the bullpen imploded yet again.

Mike Myers has become ineffective against lefties. He needs to be released. He has a 1.62 WHIP against lefties this year, and his proven again and again that he can't get David Ortiz out...the one reason he was signed in the first place.

Everything is going wrong at this point, and if it weren't for ARod, the Yankees might be 5-14 or worse. It's still too soon to panic, but the Yankees need to get the bullpen straightened out immediately.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

D-Rays 10, Yankees 8

Two thoughts on last night's loss:

1) In my many years as a baseball fan, I have never had the pleasure of watching a hitter as hot as Alex Rodriguez is right now, particularly for this long a stretch. He's putting together one of the best months in baseball history, and the atmosphere is electric every time he gets as far as the on-deck circle...even on the road. He's single-handedly keeping the Yankees afloat, and I can't help but wonder if he's doing at as a farewell-and-fuck-you to New York fans. He's going to give us that one monster year we've all been craving, and then leave for calmer seas in Anaheim or elsewhere. Still, watching ARod hit this April has been among my best experiences as a baseball fan. So long, ARod, and thanks for all the bombs.

2) The body language on nearly every pitcher on the staff is abominable right now, particularly in the bullpen. Sagging shoulders, confused eyes, sad strolls around the mound. Every pitcher seems to be subconsciously pleading with the dugout to be taken out. I don't know if these guys are overworked or simply bad, or more likely some combination of both. Kei Igawa, Luis Vizcaino and Brian Bruney are the worst offenders.

They look like they know they can't get anyone out, and if they throw enough curveballs low and away, someone will come take them out of their misery. Wang tries to get into the sixth tonight.

Each One of Us is a Brain, and an Athlete, and a Basket Case...

Michael Kay mentioned during last night's abomination of a game that Devil Rays center fielder Elijah Dukes attended Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla., which is also the alma matter of Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and Carl Everett.


Good ol' Hillsborough High, "Home of the Big Red," is doing a fantastic job of churning out quality citizens. I just checked out their course catalog, and they offer some innovative classes for their top-level athletes:

  • "No one Ever saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex": The Dinosaur Fallacy
  • Defining Indefinite Suspensions
  • Sewer Water vs. Evian: What Whitey Gets to Shower In
  • Breaking Pyscho Fan's Heart: How to Break Up No-Hitters at Fenway
  • Gays Being Gay is Wrong: Defending Yourself Against Locker-Room Homos
  • Malcolm, Martin & Sheff: The Calmness
  • Making Veiled Suicide Threats Work for You
  • Taking a Telephone to the Head from your Lady (special guest instructor Russell Crowe)

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

The countdown has begun. The Jack Bauer of baseball will make his first major league start 58 hours and 3 minutes from now.

Even though the game WILL NOT BE ON FREAKING TV for people outside the New York area. In case I've never said this before, Bud Selig, fuck you.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Sports Guy is an Imbecile

Really, Billy, so you have to love Yankee fans, huh? Well, I think you have to love Red Sox fans. Especially ones who actually get paid to analyze sports for a living. Ones who vastly overrate three mid-April games against a team missing 3/5 of its starting rotation and its star catcher. Ones who jump to conclusions every single season when the Yankees struggle early.

It's easy to talk shit in April when your team is up by four games. It's easy because in September, when you're fighting it out with Cleveland for the Wild Card, nobody remembers your ignorant, bandwagon-jumping column from five months earlier. Nobody holds you accountable, so you say whatever you want without regard for fact, history or common sense.

The Yankees have won the division every season since 1998, and haven't finished below Boston since 1995. Maybe this is the year the streak ends. But it's way too fucking early to know that now. On July 4, 2006, the Yankees were four games behind the first-place Red Sox. On May 18, 2005, they were six games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles (!). Yawn. It's not panic time yet.

Red Sox fans have amazingly short memories, but perhaps that's a function of having too many painful memories.

Deifying Dice-K

Some comments from the Jon Miller-Joe Morgan-Peter Gammons coverage of Douche-K during last night's game.

-Matsuzaka has "captured the imagination of New England sports fans."
-His teammates are amazed that he can "dial it up and throw a lot harder when he needs to. That's the sign of a good pitcher."
-He's an amazing athlete. With "very, very light feet." An outstanding fielder.
-He actually likes to take ground balls at shortstop sometimes!
-Joe Morgan didn't think Matsuzaka was trying to hit either ARod or Jeter, despite raving about his command.

Somehow, during all of this slobbering and rushing to judgment, very little mention was made of Douche-K's massively mediocre performance: 7 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 7 K, 1 HR.

And for this he was given a standing ovation by the notoriously tough and demanding Fenway crowd. What would they do if he actually pitched a good game? Offer up their eldest daughters in sacrifice to his mighty Japanese cock?

On a related note, there could be no better turn of events for Yankees fans than Julian "Does That Make Me Crazy? Probably" Tavarez taking Douche-K under his wing for tutelage in the ways of American baseball.

Random Thoughts During Sunday's Boston-NY Game

  • Willy Mo Pena, gym jock: It doesn't count as courageous or a great play if you catch the ball on the run, take five more steps, and then crash into the wall of your own volition. Rather, it makes you look like an idiot thirsty for cheap applause.
  • Favorite Boston snapshot of the night: two typically ugly Masshole-ettes in the stands, holding up a sign reading, "We're hot cause we're [Red Sox logo]/You ain't cause you not [slashed-out Yankees logo]." If that isn't a cold slap in the face for anyone considering moving to southeastern Massachusetts, I don't know what is.
  • Were Joe Torre and Ron Guidry's asses glued to the bench during Chase Wright's third inning meltdown? A kid with one game experience over AA gives up monstrous back-to-back home runs, and no one, including "catcher" Wil Nieves, considers that it might be a good idea to calm the guy down until after the third straight bomb?
  • The bullpen is being destroyed. Scott Proctor should not have pitched in 12 games already, after being severely overworked last year. Injury-prone Andy Pettitte should not be pitching middle relief innings in April. It's a vicious circle: Joe Torre doesn't trust most of his pitchers enough, so he overuses the ones he likes. They eventually break down, so he's forced to use the ones he doesn't trust anyway. The Yankees don't have any real innings-eating horses on the staff. Their best hope to pitch into late innings is Chien-Ming Wang, and he's basically a 100-pitch guy. The bullpen is going to be an issue all year.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mo's Still Got It

Every time Mariano Rivera struggles, every time he looks less than perfect two or more games in a row, the hyenas in the media come out, breathlessly regaling us with stories that Rivera is finally losing it.

Here we go again.

Rivera's not getting any younger, and eventually it will happen. He will lose whatever it is that has made him the best closer of all time. We all lose our fastball someday. Maybe this is the year. But there's no possible way to tell after two shaky outings in a season in which Rivera has had exactly two save opportunities.

The sports media is always in a pathetic rush to judgment, inspired by deadlines and the need to have something, anything, to say. But let's call a moratorium on the Rivera-is-done stories until there's at least a shred of evidence to back up this theory that has been wrong so many times before.

As for today's game, no real surprise. The lineup did well against Blistery, and gave Karstens a shot. But Karstens is just not that good.

Boston 7, Yankees 6

How many times does Joe Torre have to be burned by pinch-running for Jason Giambi relatively early in a game before he gets it through his thick skull that it's not prudent strategy? The extra speed that a Miguel Cairo or Kevin Thompson offers on the basepaths in the seventh inning is not worth the potential disaster that unfolded last night, when Thompson came to bat (and looked completely overmatched) in the ninth, trailing 7-6, with two outs and the tying run on base.

If Giambi has been up in that situation, the faint flicker of hope would have permeated the dark recesses of Fenway. With Thompson, the game was over before it was actually over.

Meanwhile, Torre's annual spring training proclamation that he would not use Mariano Rivera before the ninth inning anymore fell by the wayside even quicker than usual this year. Faced with his first game against Boston, Torre's lack of trust in the middle relief betrayed him, and he collapsed hard into old habits. Rivera's choke job rendered the decision meaningless, but it's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses (and Rivera eventually lands on the DL with elbow or shoulder soreness).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let's Do This!

The Yankees head into Fenway with some momentum, despite throwing a couple farmhands out there against Socko, Blistery and Douche-K. Winning one out of three would be just fine, but if Andy Pettitte can nail down a win tonight, and if Jeff Karstens can keep the team in the game tomorrow, you have to wonder if last August's remarkable five-game sweep will start to get into the heads of some Red Sox players.

Regardless, it's the first game of 19 this year between the two biggest rivals in American sports, and I couldn't be more excited.

In the past, when I've written about Boston, I've tried to show a modicum of respect for their passionate fans, deep-rooted sports traditions and unique ballpark. But frankly, I'm sick of showing any semblance of objectivity about that godforsaken city, its hideous sports teams, its offensive local media, and the millions of Massholes that populate its dirty, traffic-ridden streets.

So, Yankees, beat the Red Sox tonight.

Beat them for Don Zimmer.
Beat them to show them we're still their Daddy, 2004 be damned.
Beat them to show Trot Nixon that ARod is a true Yankee now.
Beat them to shut the Sports Guy the fuck up. And his idiot wife.
Beat them to send Seth Mnookin running for his list of excuses.
Beat them to send the message that in the Bronx, we don't throw pizza, because our pizza is actually edible.
Beat them so badly that Curt Schilling retires, runs for office, and discovers nobody on the planet likes him or respects his views on anything.
Beat them to send Tim Wakefield crying to his buddy Brian from Average Joe.
Beat them so David Ortiz remembers that his future looks a lot like Mo Vaughn's.
Beat them for Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia.
Beat them so that Manny being Manny stops being charming, and starts being a drag on team morale. Again.
Beat them to show all the newborn Yankees fans across the land, who weren't there for Bucky or Boone, that this is their motherfucking birthright.

I guess what I'm trying to say here, albeit in a roundabout, long-winded way, is this: fuck Boston.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

So Confused...Head Spinning...

Here is what amazes me the most about today's 8-6 victory over Cleveland: not that Alex Rodriguez came through in the clutch for a game-winning home run, but that I actually expected it to happen.

ARod has been so hot, and carried this team so well in 2007, that the feeling of cold dread that normally overcomes me when he comes to bat in a big spot was completely absent. Instead of wondering how bad the boos would be this time, I actually felt confident.

Nobody can say that these aren't big games, either. Even though it's only April, more than half the lineup has struggled, and the pitching staff has been beset by injuries. If not for ARod, this early stretch could have been disastrous. Instead of keeping their heads above water (and above .500), the Yankees might have dug themselves a hole too deep.

Two Stupid Things

Stupid thing #1: Bobby Abreu attempting to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the 3rd inning of a 2-1 game with Derek Jeter on second base and nobody out. I don't even need to explain why this is a stupid play. I don't think Torre called for the bunt from his #3 hitter, or I would be on a flight to New York right now to try to fire him personally. Abreu bunted out of some misguided sense of what being a "team player" means. Bobby, babe, let me straighten this out for you. A great hitter willingly making an out in the early innings of a regular season game = not being a team player. That same great hitter playing the percentages and trying to get a hit or walk to drive in a run or extend the inning = being a team player.

Stupid thing #2: John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman just had this exchange:

JS: Every game is a battle.
SW: Every game IS a battle.

Waldman's inflection was such that she really wanted to emphasize for the listeners what a brilliant, game-changing point her partner had just made.

Yeah, that 9-2 game last night was really an intense, hard-fought rumble. And the 10-3 game the night before was like Actium recreated before our eyes.

P.S. Can Suzyn Waldman pleeeeease stop calling Robinson Cano "Robbie"? It sounds too informal, like something Hawk Harrelson would say.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh, so That's who Chase Wright is

At this early point in the season, last night's was a big win for the Yankees. They slugged their way to a victory in a game they were not necessarily supposed to win, given the pitching matchup. Each game the Yankees win while the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th starters are on the mound gives the team an edge going forward and helps mitigate the impact of the slew of injuries this season.

Now, the Yankees need to win at least one of the next two games, both to finally win a series and to remain at .500 before the Red Sox get to town with their big guns going this weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Who the F&*$ is...Chase Wright?

24-year-old Chase Wright takes the mound at Yankee Stadium tonight for his first major league start, against Pronk, Sizemore and the tough Indians lineup. The lefty wasn't even in the mix for a potential starting spot in spring training, when the likes of Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner were jockeying for position, so who the hell is he?

The Yankees drafted Wright out of high school in 2001 with a third-round pick, and the 6'2" Texan has worked his way up through the franchise's low-level minor leagues since. He pitched for the Class A Tampa Yankees last year, going 12-3 with a 1.89 ERA. Wright struck out 100 in 119 innings, with a 1.16 WHIP. His career minor league ERA is 3.85 in six seasons.

Baseball Prospectus forecasts a 5.51 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 2007, applied to the major league level. Needless to say, Wright is not considered a top prospect. He is only getting a shot due to two factors: the team's inexplicable refusal to call up Phil Hughes before he's "ready," and sheer desperation born of injuries.

According to the man himself, he throws a "2-seam fastball in the 87-91 MPH range, sometimes hitting 93-94 MPH, but that's pretty rare. I throw mostly 2-seamers but every once in a while I mix in a 4-seamer. I throw two different curveballs. One is around 70-72 MPH and I throw a harder one around 77-82 MPH...I also throw a changeup around 78-82 MPH."

Wright is off to a hot start at AA Trenton this year (small sample size, blah blah blah), and Pending Pinstripes argues that the Yankees shouldn't call him up because such a move would impede his progress as a pitcher. I don't buy that. The Yankees need innings, they need healthy bodies, and most importantly, they need wins. Such an attitude may be short-sighted, but this isn't Felix Hernandez or Phil Hughes we'd be potentially screwing up. It's Chase Wright. Moreover, I haven't seen any evidence proving that calling pitchers up "too early" causes long-term problems.

Still, I agree that Wright shouldn't be called up. But only because I think Hughes should be the one starting tonight, spring struggles be damned.

Brief Ballpark Review: Fenway Park

Fenway Park is a lovely old stadium that, despite its less-than-stellar modern amenities, seating angles and views, and infrastructure, retains its old-world charm due to its unique crevices and idiosyncrasies.

Everybody inside the ballpark, though, is an enormous fucking asshole. This includes both players and fans.

I guess my point is...fuck Boston.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Time to Panic?

Consider the following:

-The Yankees have begun the season 5-6, and have won only one of their first four series.
-They lost a momentum-crushing game Sunday at Oakland in indescribably painful, surreal fashion.
-3/5 of the starting rotation is on the disabled list. Of the remaining two starters, one is an elbow injury waiting to happen and the other Kei Igawa.
-2/3 of the starting outfield have been down with injuries, and Melky Cabrera looks like the 2005 version of himself, not Melky 2.0 from 2006.
-Derek Jeter has committed six errors in 11 games, causing statheads everywhere to wet themselves with joy.
-Joe Torre is still the manager.
-There is still no backup catcher, and if the strained-muscle plague catches up with Jorge Posada, disaster will ensue.

The injuries are not a surprise in and of themselves, although their sheer volume has to be unexpected. This is the second straight season that the Yankees have been beset with injuries to one key part of the team (outfield last year, starting pitching this year). While Sheffield and Matsui's injuries last year were freak incidents, this year's crop of muscle strains and pulls seems more systemic, perhaps due to the new conditioning coach and program the team must follow.

Here comes the obligatory "it's too early to panic" speech: no, wait, fuck that, that's not how I roll. This team is in trouble early, with Cleveland and the Red Sox coming up this week, and someone named Chase Wright pitching two of those games. The Yankees could find themselves in a fairly deep hole by the time the pitching gets healthy, if that ever happens. And let's not forget that the pitching's not all that great even when carrying a clean bill of health.

Of course, everything could change if Phil Hughes and Roger Clemens are the 1-2 combo in early June. Let's just hope that by then the Yankees aren't looking at a double-digit deficit in the division.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Simple Hope

If the Yankees fall flat on their faces this year, and finish in 3rd place, it should not be taken as evidence that Brian Cashman's new, youth-oriented, build-from-within plan is failing. To the contrary, the team the Yankees field now is the result of too many years of signing older players and trading solid prospects.

Old teams get injured. No matter how much Joe Torre wishes that "this is one of those freak things," the lengthening disabled list is a byproduct of poor design. And the lack of quality replacements for the crippled masses is proof the Yankees have been mismanaging their budget.

The moves Brian Cashman has made since he regained control of the organization were steps in the right direction. The Yankees need to get younger, keep their minor league talent, and learn to leverage their wealth in smarter, more advantageous ways.

Unfortunately, Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth and others are still under contract, and the franchise's broad shoulders are bending under their combined heft.

There's still enough talent on this team to overcome a ton of injuries and bad luck, but if the worst case scenario happens, and the Yankees do miss the playoffs, level heads need to prevail. the new course must be stayed. The price we pay now was writ years and years ago.

It's Time

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Can we all Settle Down About Dice-K? Please?

This is Daisuke Matsuzaka's second major league start. He has faced Kansas City and Seattle, two of the weakest offenses in the American League. Let's at least let this guy take a couple turns around the league before we start sending his karaoke microphone and Hello Kitty doll to Cooperstown for bronzing.

It is not unheard of, one might even call it commonplace, for a rookie or pitcher from across the seas, particularly one with an unusual delivery, to look impressive his first time through the league. Some pitchers, like Hideo Nomo, might even have a good season or two before the league catches up with them.

Yet, tonight, during ESPN2's coverage of Matsuzaka's Fenway Park deubt, producers treated viewers to a montage of Cy Young, Luis Tiant, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez...and Matsuzaka. DURING HIS SECOND START. Can the media please stop slobbering on his Japanese cock until we all figure out if he's actually any good?

Moreoever, to all the Red Sox fans who brought signs with a drawing of dice and the letter K...your genius has blown us all away.

Also not needed...Peter Gammons calling Boston "a great baseball town" for the 94,575th time in his distinguished career. It's also a great racism town and a great traffic town, but let's just agree that it can all go unsaid for a while.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Random Thoughts from Monday's Twins/Yanks Game

Top 1st - Dougie Baseball received a rather lackluster ovation in his first at-bat. Surprising, since on any given night at the Metrodome, Minky jerseys outnumber those of current Twins by at least double.

Bottom 1st - Carl Pavano looks like he would rather be anyplace else in the world. And that's after retiring the side handily.

Top 2nd - Rick Sutcliffe notices that Sid the Kid Ponson is sweating like a white Patrick Ewing, despite being in the second inning of a game being played in controlled temperatures. How is Ponson still in the big leagues? Does every single team in baseball have to sign him, watch him lose five straight games, and then realize for themselves that he's worthless? Don't they have scouts anymore?

Bottom 2nd - Sutcliffe describes Justin Morneau as having "lumberjack strength." Has a black or Latino player ever been described as having lumberjack strength?

Bottom 2nd - Morneau just looks dumb. You can tell. He has that glazed, vacant way about him.

Bottom 3rd - Derek Jeter makes a play to his left! Derek Jeter makes a play to his left!

Top 4th - A small yet audible "Let's Go Knoblauch!" chant can be heard from the Twin City faithful. I'm not sure who this is directed at, or what the purpose is. Given the number of Minky jerseys in the stands, there's a legitimate chance that the chanters think this is 1997. Things move slow up there.

Top 4th - Sutty remarks that Jorge Posada is the real leader of the Yankees. "Derek Jeter might tell him what to say sometimes, but Posada's the one who stands up and says it."

Hmmm....Jetes as Cyrano de Bergerac. I like it. A brief play:

The Yankees are sitting in a big circle for a players-only meeting following a six-game losing streak. MARIANO RIVERA fiddles with his rosary beads. JASON GIAMBI idly gives himself another tattoo. CARL PAVANO quietly wonders what his chest pains mean, and if he should get that new mole on his thigh biopsied.

DEREK JETER glares at JORGE POSADA until he makes eye contact. Jorge stands up. He takes out some note cards and fumbles with them nervously.

Uh...hey everyone. I...uh...have a couple things to say. This..uh...effort've been seeing the last few games is, it's unacceptable. Everybody here can do better, can do more to help this team win.

Derek loudly clears his throat.

Well, almost everyone that is, heh heh.

Jorge wipes the sweat from his brow.

JORGE: conclusion, let's go give it our all out there, like the True Yankees we are. Of course, if there are those among us, let's say certain highly paid third basemen, who are not, and can never be, True Yankees, then we...uh...fully understand that you will never amount to anything. So if you want to quit or ask for a trade, go ahead.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What Happens Now? Where are we Going to?

Yankees 10, Orioles 7. And I'm so, so confused. What am I supposed to feel today? Who am I supposed to hate now? Is there a God? Why did this unholy event happen on the eve of Easter, the holiest of days?

In times like this, I turn to you for guidance. Please, oh Great One, guide me, and tell me where to turn:

Friday, April 6, 2007

It's not a New Season Until...

...Joe Torre makes his first tactical error.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the game tied 6-6, Torre sent Miguel Cairo in the game as a pinch runner for Jason Giambi at second base. There were runners on first and second, and two out, with Jorge Posada at bat.

Once again, this took place in the seventh inning. Not the bottom of the ninth. Torre was gambling that Cairo's (nebulous) speed would prove the difference on a single to the outfield, and that he would have a better chance of scoring the potential winning run than Giambi would.

But how smart a gamble was it?

Of Jorge Posada's 5,094 career plate appearances, 697 have resulted in a single. So Cairo/Giambi would only have the chance to score on a single about 14 percent of the time. Any result other than a single would have rendered the substitution pointless.

Moreover, the difference in speed between the two runners would not come into play on every single. On some singles, even a runner as sluggish as Giambi could score from second. On others, even Cairo would have had to hold at third or been thrown out the plate. Let's be generous and say that on about half the singles Posada could potentially hit, Cairo would score and Giambi wouldn't.

That means Torre was taking one of his most dangerous hitters out of the lineup in favor of one of his most pathetic for a measly 7 percent chance of scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. In a game where Giambi could very easily have had one or more additional critical at-bats.

Sure as he drinks green tea, the move came back to bite Torre. Posada grounded out, the Devil Rays took the lead in the eighth, and Josh Phelps came to bat (against a righty) in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line instead of Giambi.

Last night's was a sloppy game, and there is no guarantee that the Yankees would have won even if Giambi had remained in the lineup, but Torre significantly harmed the team's odds of winning. Which is the exact opposite of what a manager is supposed to do.

UPDATE: In their live game blog, Replacement Level points out that having Melky Cabrera bunt in the eighth inning was similarly retarded.

With Joe Girardi sounding sane and rational in the broadcast booth, Torre's idiot-syncracies are going to be harder to take than ever.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I Know They Won and All, But...

1996. Yankees' home opener. Andy Pettitte glaring out from under the brim of his cap as snow cascaded down in the Bronx, ushering in a new era of championships, toughness and heart.

2007. Yankees' home opener. The coaching staff unzips Carl Pavano from his gimp suit and shoves him in the general direction of the pitching mound. Pavano stares blankly at his surroundings, confused, hesitant, afraid, ushering in a new era of...?