Where's the "desperation to win"?

I’m slowly slogging through the Verducci/Torre book for three reasons:

  1. I’m a slow reader
  2. I try to watch the games at night and that takes me away from reading
  3. I’m finding the book depressing

One of the early chapters is called “a desperation to win” and in reading that last weekend, I was struck by the obviousness of it all, now, a decade later. It’s precisely what I don’t sense with the post-2000 teams. Verducci, in his SI.com interview with FOTB Alex Belth:

I think the teams that won generated that same kind of pressure internally, what the book calls “a desperation to win.” It was internal for most of the players, and even for Steinbrenner, who I regard in the book as one of the franchise’s most dynamic assets. It’s very different when that pressure comes externally, especially now when you’re talking about so many current Yankees who have no experience at winning in New York. They’re reading the road map for the first time, and it’s hard to figure out — unlike anywhere else — especially when you hear the constant drumbeat of frustration coming from fans and even the media that cover the team. The Yankees are the only one of 30 teams that write down as a failure any season that ends without a world championship. Individual stats don’t matter with the Yankees. Putting up a “good season” means less with the Yankees than any other franchise. There are only two seasons for the Yankees: world championship ones and everything else.

I watched Mo blow the save Friday night and as painful as it was, I said “it happens”. The Sox have seen this guy so many times, they have gotten used to his cutter and his skill. Just like we can solve Papelbon at times, so too can the Sox solve Mo. It happens. It hurts like hell but it happens. Of course, having bases loaded and coming away with nothing an inning earlier didn’t help. And watching Teix chase the high heat of Papelbon with a man on first and third the next inning sure did stink.

Here’s what bugged me: Saturday’s game. I didn’t watch much of this until the very end as I was out enjoying the nice weather and my sons’ games. It was only when we got to our friends’ house for a BBQ later that I watched the Yanks blow and re-blow the game. I thought I was noticing that desperation to win with the comebacks, but the pitching was just terrible. I’m glad I missed Burnett getting torched. Remember those fancy stats vs. Boston that I was so happy about:

Versus BOS:

  • 8 games
  • ERA: 2.56
  • 56.1 IP, avg 7+ IP/start
  • 53 K’s, nearly 1 K/IP
  • WHIP of 1.179 (including IBB)

Watching Ellsbury just totally pants the Yanks made this lack of “desperation to win” so evident. Or maybe it’s just that the Sox have that desperation and I’m jealous because I know what it’s like to have it and how utterly wonderful it is, as a fan, to root for a team with that dynamic.

For the Yankees, it was symbolic of a weekend in which they were beaten in the cruelest of ways, three losses that leave you wondering if they are as tough as the Red Sox anymore. Is it possible that years of first-round playoff exits and then an empty October in 2008 have stolen whatever grit remained from the Joe Torre glory years?

The Yanks have played 18 games to a .500 record. It’s not a statistically significant number yet, but it sure gives us a pretty good view of what this team might be…. good, but not special. One of the things I remember from my early stats classes is that you need a sample size of about 30 before you can made conclusions from the data. We’ll be there right about when ARod returns.

I’m not ready to heave Girardi over the edge either just yet, but if this team continues to wander in a fog, I might lose patience sooner than later. Continue reading Where's the "desperation to win"?

Recap: Yankees Swept By Red Sox

Black Narcissus movie full I am going to ditch my typical recap format because I do not have the heart for it right now. The lone bright spot last night was Mark Melancon, who pitched two shutout innings of varying quality, with one going 1-2-3 and the other having him load the bases and then get three straight outs. Everyone else pretty much stunk. Three runs allowed by Pettitte with two outs in the 5th, including a steal of home? Are you kidding me? No runs off the uninspiring trio of Hunter Jones, Michael Bowden, and Takashi Saito, all of Continue reading Recap: Yankees Swept By Red Sox

Mark Melancon making his debut right now

1st batter: Broke Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat on a 95 mph fastball. 2nd batter: Dustin Pedroia flies out on the first pitch, 95 mph. 3rd batter:  Gets David Ortiz to pop up on a 96 mph fastball, after getting strike 1 looking on a 95 mph heater. A very impressive debut for Melancon, and he couldn’t have thrown more than 5-6 pitches, so hopefully he’ll get another inning.

The Current Roster And Upcoming Changes

With all of the changes to the Yankees roster over the last few days, I thought it would be constructive to lay out the roster as it currently stands and highlight some possible upcoming changes. Lineup C: Jorge Posada 1B: Mark Teixeira 2B: Robinson Cano SS: Derek Jeter 3B: Angel Berroa LF: Johnny Damon CF: Brett Gardner RF: Nick Swisher DH: Hideki Matsui Bench UIF: Ramiro Pena CF: Melky Cabrera C: Jose Molina Rotation The Christmas Toy divx Joba Chamberlain CC Sabathia AJ Burnett Andy Pettitte Bullpen Mark Melancon Dave Robertson Damaso Marte Jose Veras Phil Coke Jon Albaladejo Edwar Continue reading The Current Roster And Upcoming Changes

Levine's got a firm grasp of perspective

Imagine this: Randy Levine, my favorite Yanks front office official, lashing out about the empty seats at Yankee Stadium. Shocking, I know.

A day after the Major League Soccer commissioner raised the subject, New York Yankees president Randy Levine blasted back.

“Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke,” Levine said Friday. “We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.

“Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league,” he said.

Way to go, Randy. Why not call his wife fat and his kids ugly and dumb? Have you no sense of perspective?

Told of Levine’s comments, Garber explained his remark.

When I mentioned the New York Yankees yesterday, my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses — even the most successful sports entities — are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn,” Garber said through a league spokesman.

The Yankees are one of the world’s strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing,” he said.

Continue reading Levine's got a firm grasp of perspective

Minors Recap, 4/24

Scranton defeats Rochester, 6-2 Alfredo Aceves put together his best outing of the season, giving up 4 hits and a walk in 6 2/3 shutout innings, and striking out 6.  However, his ERA on the season is 5.74, a result of his early struggles. Anthony Claggett walked 1 in 1 1/3 shutout innings. Shelley Duncan was 2 for 5. Juan Miranda was 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. Austin Jackson was 1 for 4 with a triple, and is hitting .405 on the season so far. Eric Duncan was 1 for 4. Trenton defeats New Britain, 6-3 Continue reading Minors Recap, 4/24

4/24: Yankees at Red Sox

RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0,5.06) LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 5.50) First incarnation of the greatest rivalry in baseball (or all sports?).  Both teams just starting to hit their strides at 9-6 apiece Both young aces also have yet to catch their rhythm.  Both Joba and Lester with ERAs in the fives. Watch Joba’s velocity.  It’s still a little down from where he was last year as a starter.  Eiland has worked with him to “smooth out” his delivery.  Has this robbed him of his power? Can Joba get deep in the game.  He’s wasted a lot of pitches early on. Molina Continue reading 4/24: Yankees at Red Sox