Where's the outcry?

Wait a second? Did I miss something? We’re on full hypocrisy alert. HYPCON 4, folks.

Joba pumps his fist in a May game after an 8th inning strike out and all hell breaks loose. The media are on his back. Goose Gossage calls it “un-Yankee” or something equally silly. The Indians cry foul, claim he’s showing up the other team and batter, bringing up the old “double standard” whine.

Yet, last night, Papelbon, equally dramatic, exuberant and emotional as Joba, gave a huge fist pump after an 8th inning-ending strike out and another when he ended the game the next inning. What gives? Not so much as a whimper by the press and media. I know, I checked. Where’s the same outcry?

Here’s a Zapruder-quality video of the final out (MLB.com won’t let you embed their videos, but don’t get me started on that dumb rule):

Lest you be confused about my stance: I think all of this emotion, excitement, etc. is GREAT. Why be so robotic and boring? Who wants to see that? Not me. Let Joba and Papelboner do their fist pumps so long as it’s done at the right time for the right reasons and in a way that’s not done to embarass their opponents.

Let’s have some fun.

UPDATE: The good guys at The Sports Hernia had a typically amusing view of this “issue” and I lifted their picture for use here, above, which is from last night’s action. Thanks, fellas!

Continue reading Where's the outcry?

The Delicate Sound of THUD

Shhhh. Listen. Hear that sound last night? That was the delicate sound of thud. The sound of the Yanks hitting (what I hope is) a new rock bottom.

Moose, who had been cruising lately with his new slow, slower, slowest approach, got torched. He walked the first batter —never a good sign— then got to two outs before Jeter threw the 3rd out high to Giambi and the inning ran off the cliff after that.

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Continue reading The Delicate Sound of THUD

Great, more pressure

The NY papers are depicting ARod riding into the Bronx on a white horse, a savior, a returning hero.

Um, sorry. This is not a good move.

The erstwhile ARod, an all-time talent, is not one who seems to react well as the pressure rises. Pressure turns carbon into diamonds but for some reason, in baseball with ARod, it turns a diamond often into dust.

Expecting him to return and go bonkers and save the Yanks is both unrealistic (for the fans to expect) and unfair (for ARod). The last thing we need is for him to struggle to find his groove while the fans ride him incessantly. He’s returning from injury; give the guy a chance to get back to form.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe ARod truly conquered his inner demons last year after admitting in Spring Training that all was not rosy with he and Cap’n Jetes. Maybe he’ll relish the adoration and attention that he’s bound to get and use that constructively to hit like he did last April. The truth is, however, that the Yanks DO need ARod to come back and spark this catatonic offense. Badly. Nothing would make me happier. However, I am dialing my expectations back a notch.

I’m hoping for the upside surprise.

UPDATE 5/23/08: ARod hit 2.5 home runs in his first two games as well as 1.5 doubles. The half of each is the HR that was erroneously called a double. He still doesn’t look comfy running hard, but right how, he’s delivering that upside surprise that I hoped for. I’m excited. Now, if that can only rub off on his teammates bats. They’ve won 2-3 since he returned.

Continue reading Great, more pressure

Kudos to Lester

I don’t bash the Sox just for the sake of bashing. I am also not so blindly pro-Yanks to wish a hearty congrats to Jon Lester, who just finished off a no-hitter tonite. It’s on thing to throw a no-hitter; it’s entirely another thing if the pitcher is still recovering from lymphoma.

On August 27th, 2006 Lester was scratched from his scheduled start against the Oakland Athletics due to a sore back. The following day he was placed on the 15 day disabled list (retroactive to August 24th, 2006), and was sent back to Boston for testing. At the time, Lester’s back problems were thought to be the result of a car crash he was involved in on August 18th, 2006. On August 31st it was reported that Lester had been diagnosed with enlarged lymph nodes and was being tested for a variety of ailments, including forms of cancer [3]. On September 1st, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that Lester had a treatable form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

My wife recently returned to work full time for the American Cancer Society so maybe I’m more attuned and sensitive to cancer and survivors, but this is just great.

My hat’s off to Lester for his courage and perserverence.

Continue reading Kudos to Lester

Re-examining Wang, Part VI

You’ll have to pardon the abbreviated version but work calls.

Wang was at home, facing the also-struggling Mets, a place where Wang has excelled over his career. The result: his worst outing of the year, but also rather Jeckyl & Hyde-ish.

Innings 1-3: Perfect, but no K’s.
Inning 4: Disaster, benefitted by a blown HR call which would have made it look even worse. Molina called it pretty succintly: “He kept the ball up a little bit and couldn’t get it down. He got a couple of pitches up and just got hit. It’s not pretty usual [for Wang] because he’s a sinkerballer. He gave us a chance still, throwing [7 2/3 innings] to give us a chance. We couldn’t score anyway.” Giambi had a half decent game in the field, but his inability to make the throw to Jeter opened the floodgates.
Inning 5: Perfect.
Inning 6: Lead-off HR surrendered, his 2nd of the season. Then three straight outs.
Inning 7: Perfect.
Inning 8: [Note to self: why on Earth is Wang back in this game in the 8th?] Double, Out, IBB, Sac fly. Wang out. IBB scored later, charged to Wang.

Ending line: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 104 PC, L.

Again, another low-K outing where Wang wasn’t able to put away the hitter. Nearly two HR’s surrendered, though Wang benefitted from the blown call on Delgado’s shot.

I’m not worried or concerned about Wang. It happens. But, his control of those “out” pitches seems to be gone from earlier this season. If he reverts merely to his 2007 form, so be it.

But…. this Yankee offense is so asleep right now. Jeter batting 3rd? Molina and Giambi below Mendoza. Cano not much better. Yes, a lot of it can be attributed to ARod and Posada’s injuries, but how ’bout a little personal pride, fellas? At least look like you care. I’m not always one to harken back to the 90’s teams but where’s a bit of the Paulie fire? Someone throw a freakin’ bat, get ejected, bust a water cooler. Anything. Damon, who was off to a nice start this year, looks lethargic and he’s the spark plug. Giambi is still waving at pitches. Abreu remains catatonic. Cano looks like he can’t wait to swing at every pitch so he can sit down earlier.

I hope they wake up soon. Otherwise Hank’s going to do something rash. Continue reading Re-examining Wang, Part VI

Prelude to Wang's outing

Caught this earlier today as part of the previews to Wang’s outing later tonite:

He’s becoming like Brandon Webb,” said Al Leiter, who pitched for both the Mets and Yankees and is now an analyst for the Bombers’ YES Network. “He’s always had the great sinker like Webb does. But Webb learned a couple of years ago that he needed a second out pitch for those times when he didn’t have the good sinker. And he developed a good changeup as well as a pretty good slider. So now he has more than one weapon, and look at how good he’s become.

I see the same thing with Wang. He’s still going to throw that great sinker 85 percent of the time. But now he has improved his slider to the point where it’s become a legitimate second out pitch. Plus, he’s throwing some good changeups to left-handed hitters. And he will at times throw a four-seam pitch up and in to left-handed hitters, and that pitch has got him some easy fly-ball outs.”

Good to hear that from a guy who knew a thing or two about pitching. Helps me justify what I have been seeing thus far.

I’ll try to get a review of the game done tonite or early tomorrow (got a busy day on tap on Monday). Continue reading Prelude to Wang's outing

My eyes! My eyes!!!

Sometimes we read/see things that we never ever want to see. A grandparent in an advanced state of undress. “Surprise Test Today” on the blackboard. That really old guy at the gym who likes to walk around naked waaay too much. A player on your childhood favorite team wearing a gold lamb, tiger-stripe thong. That same player sharing the thong with teammates.

Then I fell upon this and I’m now scarred. And scared.
The deepest, darkest secret harbored by the New York Yankees first baseman is that whenever he is in a prolonged hitting funk, he wears a gold lamb, tiger-stripe thong under his uniform. “I only put it on when I’m desperate to get out of a big slump,” he confides.

Over Giambi’s checkered career in the Bronx, he has left the “golden thong” in the lockers of slumping teammates Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Robin Ventura, and Robinson Cano. “All of them wore it and got hits,” he reports. “The thong works every time.

Great googly moogly. I wish I never ever read that as I now have images in my head I never ever wished to have. I’ve heard of slump-busting but nothing like this.

That’s what I get for reading this stuff on a rainy, nasty Friday night and the Yanks are mired in last place.

Continue reading My eyes! My eyes!!!

Said better…

Jayson Stark has a wonderful piece on the path Clemens chose, the scorched Earth approach, and how is could have been different for him had he chose the “Pettitte Path” instead. It’s worthy of a print-and-read, so here’s the link.

Reason why Jayson’s so good at what he does: he says things better than most, in a way we can all understand. Like this:

We’ll never know now, though. Will we? Let’s say again here that, because this is America, we’re willing to give this man some benefit of the doubt, that maybe he couldn’t do that because he is innocent of the original crime he was accused of.

But if he is innocent, and that’s why he took the course he did, then we’ve arrived at the ultimate irony:

The price he has paid for claiming he is innocent has been more painful and powerful than the price he undoubtedly would have paid for admitting guilt.

So well said.

Continue reading Said better…

Hank Being Hank

I’m honestly not sure what to make of Hank Steinbrenner. Does he take himself seriously? Should we?

So far, he’s made some outrageous proclamations this season and has backed down or off completely soon after making them. He makes threats that are simply idle in nature. He talks to seemingly hear himself quoted.

If you didn’t remember, Cashman’s in the final year of his contract. And now, Hank’s talking like he’s going to have the National Guard scrambled to handle the Yanks and their malaise.

Steinbrenner might have made a cryptic reference to Cashman’s future when he said, “If it’s not turned around this year, then it will be turned around next year, by force if we have to.”

By FORCE? Please, I hope there is someone —maybe it’s his brother Hal— who has the ability to speak rationally with Hank and get him to focus on the longer term health of this organization rather than the immediate future.

The Yanks might very well miss the post season this year, the first time since the early 90’s. And you know what, it’s not the end of the world. It might feel that way and it will certainly hurt. But, and I’ve said this many, many times before: If we honestly believe the long term health and direction of the team is strongly positive, then don’t do anything to jeopardize that, and that includes dumping the architect.

Remember, an executive was quoted earlier this year, saying:

“Hey, I applaud Cashman for wanting to do it this way,” one executive said. “I think those young guys will make it pay off in the long run, but I think they’ll take a step back this year. There’s always a price to pay for showing patience.”


Continue reading Hank Being Hank