It’s been a couple weeks, Yankee fans, since I’ve sparred with you, and if you saw Rob Neyer’s Wednesday Wangdoodles this morning, you’ll probably guess why. My own blog life is a little in flux, as I have begun partnering with Bill, formerly of The Daily Something, to create a new blog, The Platoon Advantage, that will be part of Rob’s Sweetspot Network. Our first posts are up, the first being an introduction to the new venture. Then Bill thinks the Pirates are in good hands, in particular because they fleeced Brian Cashman. Finally, I make my Anti-Mustache All Star team of players who should not be allowed to ever grow facial hair again.
But being Yankee fans, you don’t care about my comfort and success; you only want to know how this affects you and your beloved Yankees. After all, Manhattan is an island, and nothing exists south of, say, Trenton or west of Albany. So here’s the deal: Jason has graciously offered to let me continue having writing privileges here, and I am inclined to take him up on his offer because I love messing with you guys so much. After all, you guys (despite all the riff raff) tend to be the most passionate and informed fan base in the league (see how I’m pandering to you now? I’m a tease that way), and I love the comments I get here. Plus, it may help to provide an occasional outside perspective, just to keep you all grounded in reality. So I’ll continue posting here, but less often than my previous weekly articles. I’ll pop up when there’s something newsworthy (I mean really newsworthy, not Jeter passing Hal Chase in triples or something) or when I decide to have a very public disagreement with one of the other excellent contributors to this site.
Joe Girardi has unofficially put Joba Chamberlain on notice, apparently, giving 8th inning duties to Nate David Robertson and Boone Logan last night in place of Joba the Hut. Girardi said after the game, “I’m not saying that I’m handing it over to Joba every time we go into the eighth. I’m going to look at things. I mean, that’s my job.” So Girardi is talking about playing matchups more often, which is not a bad strategy in isolation. And given the run of rough outings that Joba’s been going through for the past week, it’s probably a good idea to give him a night in Time Out to think about what he’s done, particularly since he’s given up four walks and two homers in his last six innings (across five appearances).
The trouble is, it’s not apparent that Joba’s been doing anything different from what he’s done in the past. See below.
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It’s no secret that The Common Man’s Twins have been struggling for the last month and a half. In that time, though, Twins fans have come to rely on one man, who has been a bulwark against the team’s potential collapse. He has pitched deep into games, and put many zeros up on the scoreboard. Once every five games, he has given the team an aura of toughness and a swagger that comes from confidence, not arrogance. And on a team with superstars like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, he has quietly become a team leader.
I am talking, of course, about Carl Pavano.
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AJ Burnett’s career has always been a little Jeckyll and Hyde-y, but this is ridiculous. As Yankee fans know, June has been an unkind month for the big righthander. After his first 11 starts, Burnett sat at 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA, and seemed poised to have perhaps the best season of his career. Since the start of the month, however, AJ has completely unraveled. In five June starts, Burnett has gone 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA and has averaged fewer than 5 innings per start. What happened? Where did Burnett go? And, most importantly, is he coming back?
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As Jason pointed out this morning, the Yankees sit alone in first place in the AL East today, with the best record in the American League. Surely, this is good news for Yankee fans (and for Will, who brazenly suggested that the Yankees rivaled the ’98 club before the season started). And while I’d like to be happy for my friends in Yankeeland (of whom, admittedly, I have none), I thought it worthwhile to check out just how good this news is for the Bombers. After all, for the season to be considered successful by the fans, media, and the team itself, the Yankees have to make the postseason.
So I looked back at teams that led their divisions on June 21, going back to the strike years of ‘94-’95, wondering how many of them held onto their leads and how many ultimately made it to the promised land of baseball’s postseason tournament. Here’s what the data tell us:
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The following is reposted from my own site, but I thought it would be useful to this crowd as well:
If you follow The Common Man on teh Twitterz, you may have noticed that he and The Uncommon Wife joined good friends Bill of The Daily Something and his lovely and delightful (and highly pregnant) better half at Target Field for the Saturday tilt between the Twins and Braves. It was a stressful game, won when Brooks Conrad executed a perfect squeeze bunt down the third base line that Jose Mijares (and his Rich Garces-esque frame) had no chance to field.
The Twins squandered extra chances to score in their belief that, because they were playing a National League team, they needed to play NL style ball. With Denard “The Nard-Dog” Span on first with no outs in both the 6th and 8th innings, Trevor Plouffe (a less manly name has yet to be applied to any member of the male species), was asked to sacrifice him over. In the 6th, Joe Mauer followed with a double that would have allowed Span to score anyway; then, following an intentional walk to Morneau, the Twins ran themselves out of the inning with a strike-out/throw-out double play, in which the catcher was caught as the lead runner trying to steal 3B. Ugh. Two innings later, Gardy was outmaneuvered again when, after Plouffe’s bunt, Joe Mauer was intentionally walked, Morneau flew out to RF, Cuddyer walked, and Kubel struck out. That’s three outs the Twins gave away with runners on base in a game that ended up being decided by a run. Ugh.
Anyway, this post is not about the game itself, but about the experience of being at the game with a woman (The Uncommon Wife) who doesn’t really care about baseball that much. Call it: your guide to the ballpark with an unenthusiastic partner. Here are some easy dos and don’ts:
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Following Commissioner Selig’s announcement this morning regarding the lack of a groundswell of support within baseball for expanding instant replay, I decided to do a little bit of digging to see if he’s right. Here are some prominent voices who are on the record about the possibility of expanding the instant replay review process:
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Earlier this season, umpire Joe West was highly critical of the Yankees and Red Sox and the length of the games they play. West told The Bergen Record, “They’re the two clubs that don’t try to pick up the pace. They’re two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It’s pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play….This is embarrassing, a disgrace to all baseball.”
As I detailed yesterday at The Daily Something, Joe West has been a combative umpire for years, bordering on unprofessional. Yesterday, he added to his history of quick hooks and aggressive behavior by antagonizing Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen (though, admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot to antagonize Ozzie Guillen). West has been disciplined and warned about his behavior in the past, but seems to be ramping up his involvement in games recently. As late as 2008, he had been rated as the fourth worst umpire in Major League Baseball. In the wake of his Yankees/Red Sox comments, Tim Kurkjian wrote, “From the beginning, I’ve thought West was one of the worst umpires in baseball. His strike zone is the unholy combination of small and unpredictable, and his attitude is big and unpredictable.”
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A quick note before we get started, I am putting together a series of posts, objectively reviewing each team’s nickname. Jason has kindly allowed me to cross-post my most recent addition, your New York Yankees. Many thanks to him.
Thank God the Twins finally beat the Yankees yesterday, snapping their nine game losing streak to The Bombers, and salvaging The Common Man’s weekend. Before yesterday, The Common Man was starting to think irrational thoughts about the Yankees being in the Twins’ heads and was starting to buy the notion of the Yankee mystique. Now, he feels much better about the world and the Twins’ place in it.
In honor of his return to rationality, The Common Man thought this would be an opportune time to objectively review the Yankees’ nickname. After all, TCM isn’t mad or upset anymore and feels like he can give it a fair appraisal. So what do we know?
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