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Well, things did not exactly go to plan tonight. Let’s talk about it before I get sick.
 
There is no other way to say it, Wells let his team down tonight.  Obviously, his back wasn’t hurting him last night when he boasted that he was all about his "no conditioning" when talking about how Clemens was about "conditioning"  So, what happened?  I pray that he wasn’t out having a good time last night, I imagine we will hear if he was soon.  I can almost guarantee that all chances of the Yankees picking up that six million dollar option just went out the window.
 
Ok, I know Wells is hurt at the end of the first inning, but why did Torre pinch hit for him?  Let’s review, Top of the second, two outs, runner on first, Wells up.  Ok, you never want to give up an out, but I would have sent Wells up to hit in that situation.  Why?  Two reasons.  
 
1- The odds are strongly against Delluci doing much and by putting Wells up there, you save him for later.
 
2- You let Wells sit there and take three strikes, come out to the mound and need an injury replacement.  That way Contreras gets to warm up for as long as he needs.  Contreras was asked to make a tough transition from short to long relief, I think he would have benefited from some more warm up time.
 
Come to think of it, wouldn’t this have been the game to use Weaver?  Not to dwell on last night, but wan’t he the long reliever and wasn’t that what they needed tonight?
 
Nice to see the Yankees know how to execute a run down play.
 
According to my "unofficial" boxscore, the Yankees left nine runners on base tonight.
 
The end of game rally was nice to see.  It is the one positive they can carry over to Saturday night.
 
As I write this ESPN News is showing lowlights of the Knicks-Jazz game, where the Knicks shot 25% and scored 60 points TOTAL.  Let’s review, Knicks suck, Rangers suck, Giants suck, the Yankees have to come through for me!!
 
Well, the last two World Series went seven with the Home Team coming back from a 3-2 hole.  The Yankees will need to take that Home Field advantage to heart and I hope Destiny and Aura decide to show up as well.  
 

Day Off Doodles

Well, it is the first day off for the World Series, but your hard working staff here at yankeesredsox.com is still at it, keeping you on top of things. On the Red Sox side of the ledger, you will notice a photo Andy took today of his shoes. He’s been out there for four days and swears he will break David Blaine’s record by Thanksgiving. Don’t worry folks, we won’t let him jump, he is too valuable to the page and a fun guy to hang out with.

Wanted to mention that I posted the wrong Yankee rotation for the World Series. Sometime after the initial story, Torre decided to go with Pettite in Game 2, not Mussina. Now Mussina goes in Game 3 against Beckett. This is the one Marlin starter who really scares you. He is 23 and not afraid of anything. His start in Game 5 of the NLCS turned it all around. Mussina has yet to win in the postseason, but hopefully his relief effort in Game 7 will get him back on track. Either way, both teams will now have their pitchers rested and should be able to get back to business.

In case you missed it, Dave Anderson wrote an interesting piece on the Yankees in todays New York Times. He correctly pointed out how the Yankees disavow their heritage of 39 American League Pennants by making no mention of their teams that lost the World Series. I guess the thing is, when you have won 26 and lost 12, you don’t need to highlight your near misses. Look at the NY Rangers, they have banners for all their playoff teams. When you look at the banners, it kind of cheapens the Stanley Cup banners. Now, I will admit, making the NHL playoffs is not as big a deal as making the MLB playoffs, but I think that the parallel is appropriate. 38 (now 39) pennants would be a bit of an overload in the Stadium.

By the way, I have email now, peter@yankeesredsox.com. Please feel free to write and hopefully we will get enough mail in the future to do a column about it.

The Empire Strikes Back

Well, that was a gutty performance by Pettite tonight. Not only did he almost pitch a complete game shut out, but he pitched the equivalent of a worry free game for the Yankees. I hope tonight was not his final start in pinstripes. They should resign him immediately. Come to think of it, Wells and Pettite would be a good place to start the Yankees’ 2004 planning.

Back to 2003, Pettite was brillant. the hitting was good and the 3-0 1st inning lead allowed everyone to relax. A couple of notes from tonight’s game:

Rivera was safe at third base. Either way, he should be playing RF every game in 2004

Juan Pierre’s speed is a big topic for the guys at FOX. Personally, I haven’t seen a worse arm in Center Field in awhile. Bernie is always condemmed for his lack of arm strength, but Pierre is pathetic. Bill James once said that guys who can’t run, but can throw, play RF. Guys who can run and throw play CF and guys who can run, but can’t throw play LF. Well, under that criteria, Pierre belongs in LF. Problem is, the Marlins are trying to get by with a 20 year old in the OF where he isn’t comfortable. When Giambi can go from first to third on a hard hit to Center, you know there is a defensive problem.

Again, please resign Pettite.

Boone makes the average play look harder than it is and the hard play look easier.

Matsui isn’t flashy, but he gets it done.

Soriano has taken pitches the last two nights and been called out on borderline strikes. That is irony.

Tim McCarver made a big deal of Pudge throwing out Posada tonight. Last night he lamented about how slow Posada is on the bases. So, why is it a big deal to throw him out at 2b?

More tomorrow…..

Quite a Hangover

Well, I was very wrong on most things and last night’s game was suprisingly well played considering what the two teams had gone through. A couple of note and points and a response to the opposite side of this website

Boone sure went from hero to goat quickly. Bad play cutting off that throw allowing the 3rd Marlin run to score and what a terrible attempt at a sac bunt in the 9th. I can’t remember a worse attempt.

The Yankees continue to struggle in clutch hitting situations. This does not bode well for the future.

D Train really made me look dumb.

Wells pitched a hell of a game. I know he causes a lot of trouble and he is one back injury away from calling it quits, but when the game is on the line, he steps up. Those were seven big innings last night. In fact, that loss went about as well as it could for the Yankees, they used only three pitchers and gave Rivera the night off.

Nice to see Billy Crystal turn to Robin Williams and tell him to get off his cellphone so he can watch the game. While we are at it, couldn’t we ban cellphones from the ballpark. Is there anything dummer than watching people behind home plate on their cellphones waving to whoever they are talking to? Get a life.

Interesting point by Andy about the anti-Boston sentiment that was in Yankee Stadium last night. It doesn’t suprise me considering the depth of hatred on both sides of this rivalry and the past few games. The difference, in my mind, is that the Anti-Boston sentiment will fade quickly in Yankee Stadium while the anti-Yankee sentiment will only grow this Winter in Boston. Look out when these two teams play each other in 2004 at Fenway.

As for Mr. Giambi, I think he was rooting for the team that had his son on their playoff roster. Not that I blame the Red Sox for leaving Jeremy off, but something tells me a loyal Father might.

Pettite needs to step up and pitch tonight. Yankees really don’t want to be down 0-2 with Beckett going for the Marlins in Game 3.

Hammong for Almonte

Well the Yankees pulled the trigger on Hammond and brought him back, but at the expense of Almonte. This is suprising to me since I don’t expect Torre to use Weaver in any situation. I suppose in an 11-2 blowout, Weaver might pitch, but I wouldn’t expect him in any other situation that that. I wonder if this move is more about next year (Yankees thinking about next year) and the damage being left off the World Series roster might do to Weaver. Hmmmm…..

Should be a good series. I expect it will take six games at least to determine a champion. Tonight could be a high scoring affair with the state of the pitching. I can’t wait.

Patchwork Pitching

Well, Torre has announced his rotation. Let’s take a look at the six different pitchers he had to choose from and the last time they pitched.

Clemens- Pitched Thursday, normally wouldn’t pitch again until Tuesday
Mussina- Started Monday, pitched three innings on Thursday. Normally would start again Saturday
Pettite- Pitched Wednesday. Normally would pitch again Monday
Wells- Pitched Tuesday. Normally would pitch again Sunday
Contreras- Pitched in relief Wednesday. Could probably start Saturday
Weaver- Just Kidding

Now, Torre has taken this and gone with the following:

Game 1- Wells. Going on three days rest with an inning of relief thrown in on Thursday
Game 2- Mussina. I think he would have started Game 1 (his normal turn in the rotation) if he hadn’t pitched three innings on Thursday
Game 3- Pettite. Will have his full rest
Game 4- Clemens. Will have his full rest

From this, we can say that Clemens probably only has one start left in his career. Barring a rain out, a potential Game 7 would only give him three days rest. Torre could have set him up for Games 3+7, but chose to go with Pettite, an interesting move.

Any way you look at it, Games 1+2 will be a struggle. You cannot expect Wells or Mussina to be able to give you a lot of innings. You would have to figure Torre is looking for about 5 innings from Wells and then a couple from Contreras and maybe 1 from Rivera. Mussina could be a little stronger, but not much. Because of this, Torre needs to make two critical decisions

1- Does he trust Jeff Weaver enough to use him in the World Series? If he doesn’t he needs to get Hammond back on the playoff roster ASAP

2- Does he really think he will use Almonte in the World Series? If not, he should strongly consider adding an 11th pitcher.

I suspect that because of the games played under NL rules, Torre will try to stick with ten pitchers to give himself an extra bat off the bench. If he does, the answer to question #1 becomes vital as Torre basically played the ALCS as if he had only nine pitchers. The Yankees will not have the luxury of giving Weaver a token roster spot.

The Day After

I just figured out why this win meant so much to me. I can’t really take credit for it, I needed to read the NY Daily News story on Don Zimmer to get it. For those of you who didn’t see it, Zimmer said last night that he is quitting after the Series because he is sick of Steinbrenner’s treatment of him. I admit, at first I was somewhat upset with Zimmer. Why did he have to pick this moment to pick another fight with George? But, then as I thought about it, I realized how right he was. Put simply, this season hasn’t been fun. Every media outlet talks about how the Yankees should win. The Diamondbacks and Angels won World Championships and it was almost as if a mistake had happened. Certainly, George Steinbrenner felt that way. He berated and beat on everyone over the mistakes the Yankees had made. Expectations became so high, that winning anything but the World Series seemed trivial. I remember watching the Red Sox when they clinched their Wild Card berth and being jealous at the pure joy of that moment. We had just won the division, but it didn’t seem to be a big deal. Same thing with the Twins, yeah we won, we beat up on the underdogs.

Well, last night was different. I honestly didn’t think we would win. I thought Clemens would be too emotional to pitch well and I expected Pedro to be Pedro. But then something happened. I still don’t know if Mystique and Aura are topless dancers like Curt Schilling said, or if they really exist, but I swear I felt some magic in the air last night. I know I saw it on the TV. And, suddenly, I was six years old again watching Greg Nettles make play after play at third base, basking in the pure joy of childhood. I probably have watched Boone’s HR twenty times today and I think I might watch it one hundred more. That moment brought the joy back. Thanks, Aaron.

Wow

Well, Aaron Boone hit the biggest Yankee HR since Chris Chambliss back in 1976. This is a high I am not sure I will come down from anytime soon. But, we have 4 more wins to get. So, let’s look at some things we need to consider as we approach World Series Game 1 on Saturday Night.

1- Clemens 3IP, Mussina 3IP, Wells 1IP, Rivera 3IP, who is going to start game 1?? Pettite could do it on 3 days rest, but who else is available?

2- Giambi rose to the challenge. 2hr in game 7, you have to say he came to play.

3- Brian Cashman has to be sleeping well tonight. Boone just made that deadline trade payoff tenfold.

4- Rivera is soooooooo awesome

5- Grady and Torre suffered from the same lack of faith in the bullpen. If Grady felt good about his pen, no way Pedro starts the 8th.

6- I still don’t like Clemens,

Well, best thing the Yankees can do right now is pray for rain. Otherwise, I think Contreras starts game 1…….

Shuffling the Deck

Well, Game 7 is almost here and I am sure it will be quite a game. I predict one of the two starters to get shelled, the other team to come back and then a tight, one run game, the rest of the way. Anyway, nice to see Torre making a big move pregame. According to early reports, he has dropped Giambi to 7th in the lineup. So, tonight’s lineup looks like this:

Soriano-R
Johnson-L
Jeter-R
Williams-S
Matsui-L
Posada-S
Giambi-L
Wilson-S
Garcia-L

While I don’t like the addition of Wilson, I think his Pedro #’s are over rated, Johnson #2 and Jeter #3 are great moves. Johnson is an on base machine and will allow Soriano to run more. Also, Torre has now completely divided the lineup between lefties and righties, making late inning bullpen matchups even harder. Even when Boone gets in, he will still have a righty between two lefties. Torre’s willingness to do this shows that he understands the stakes of this game. Put simply, this could be the last game he manages the Yankees. As stupid as it seems, I think Steinbrenner will clean house if “his champions” don’t win this one.

The Nightmare

I can see it so clearly now.

Flash to John Henry sleeping in his bed, tossing and turning, could it be? Could it happen? Did I really pay 800 Million Dollars for this? What is troubling him? Why is he so distraught? Could it be that the team he abandoned through some MLB chicanery is going to the World Series? Was all this debt and angst unecessary? Could I have stayed in South Florida and gotten to the World Series??

Flash to a bedroom in Brookline. Theo Epstein is tucked into bed in his pj’s. “Bill said it would work. Bill said it was ok. You don’t need a closer.” He keeps tossing and turning, over and over, yet he can’t rest, a vision still haunts him. There he is, a name that cannot be mentioned aloud, known only as UU. He used to work for Theo, but was deemed a foolish waste of money. Six million for this guy? Not a chance, we can get his forty saves somewhere else! As Theo sweats, he sees it, Top of the Ninth, Game 7, Red Sox lead. Grady has brought Lowe in to finish it. Lowe is somewhat tired from starting Games 2 and 6 of the Series and closing game 4. Unfortunately, the tank is empty, he blows the save. Now, here he comes, out onto the Fenway stage. Game 7, a one run lead, UU struts in. Strikes 1,2 and 3, Nomar waves futily. Manny stands in, almost from the on deck circle, he flails helplessly as well. Finally, Ortiz, a pop up, as Castillo squeezes it, UU does his John Travolta split. Hearts are broken throughout New England…..

Well, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow night, but I know one thing, these fish are biting. Beating Wood and Prior back to back at Wrigley? Wow. I bet neither the Yankees or Red Sox are eager to play these guys….

Finally, my sympathy to anyone affected by the awful tragedy in Staten Island today.