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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.

Up or Down

Well, that game went about as badly as I had expected. Unfortunately, for those of us on the Yankee side of this webpage, the Red Sox rebounded nicely tonight. So, now we have Pedro pitching against us in Game 7. What hope do we have? Well, before we decide that the year is over, let’s take a look at some things we should feel good about

1- The Yankees scored six runs. That would have been enough to win every other playoff game they have been in this year.

2- Johnson and Soriano looked pretty good tonight, that could be key tomorrow.

3- Rivera wasn’t used for a pitch, so he is ready for six outs tomorrow night.

I will be very interested to see what Pedro does tomorrow. I imagine he will face the most hostile crowd of his career. God help him if he hits anybody, I hope MLB and the NYPD will be out in force to prevent any incidents. Clemens could be taking the mound for the final time in his career. This could work for him, or make him too pumped up to pitch well, I am not sure.

Some other notes….

While I am dissapointed with the loss, I am very happy for Nomar. Of all the Red Sox players, he is the one I respect the most, the guy is a ballplayer. For him to have cost his team the game with that error would have been terrible. The depth of Red Sox fans’ hatred towards all things NY is pathetic and I am sure they would have turned that venom on Nomar and run their best player since Ted Williams out of town.

Still don’t understand how the Red Sox could let Jeter and Soriano take 2nd and 3rd uncontested with one out in the 6th. The Yankees failed to score, but 9 times out of 10 I think that strategy would backfire.

McCarver did some good analysis tonight, have to give him props after bashing him. Especially good was his point about Ortiz’s ball that hit the bag. Joe Buck had brought up some sort of reverse curse causing that play to occur, but as Tim correctly pointed out, the ball hitting the bag helped and didn’t hurt the Yankees. No way Johnson would have gotten close to that ball and Ortiz would have had a double.

Giambi looks terrible. He hit an awful pitch for a HR, but he seems to be pressing so much that he doesn’t have any strike zone discipline. You used to be able to count on him not swinging at anything outside of the strikezone, no longer.

Brian Cashman looks terrible too. Yankee GM may be the worst job in the world.

That’s all for now, Game 7 tomorrow night, I expect this one to be decided by the bullpens.

Ugh

I suppose that fans of the teams chronicled on this page should be happy that the Cubs are going to a seventh game against the Marlins, but I am not. Despite the “advantage” the Cubs loss brings, I just can’t root for the Marlins. This is a team that had the stars align for a championship and then sold off all the parts of the team. In contrast, the Cubs are trying to end 95 years of futility. You have to be in their corner. Yankee fans should find that easier to do, now that Kerry Wood won’t start a potential Game 1.
So, now we know tomorrow’s game is going to be another 4:18pm affair. I still think that is a joke, but so be it. I wonder if Grady is considering starting Wakefield or Pedro. Wouldn’t the ultimate expression of “Cowboying Up” be asking for the ball tomorrow?

Grumpy Young Men

Ok, deep breaths out there, Yankee Fans. Today was a good step, a big step, but not a final step. Before you go out and buy your World Series tickets, let’s look at a couple of facts/myths

1- The Red Sox won three straight elimination games in their last series
2- While John Burkett may not be Cy Young, I seem to remember a complete game victory he pitched against the Yankees in the 1996 playoffs.
3- Last time Andy Pettite had a chance to clinch a series, he pitched one of the worst games in post season history (Game 6 2001 WS)
4- While Game 6 is obviously a must win for the Sox, if they do win, wouldn’t they have momentum going into game 7?
5- No matter who wins this ALCS, they will most likely run into a Wood/Prior combo for at least 4 and maybe 5 of the World Series games. (Remind anyone of Johnson/Schilling?)

Ok, enough of the negative, some notes and observations from tonight’s game….
Fox Sucks. Glad they got us to Manny’s Home Run after he had rounded first (with the length of Manny’s Home Run trot, we should assume we missed at least two minutes of the game) but now the start time of tomorrow’s game is up in the air. Are you kidding me?? Fox decided to milk as much revenue as they could last week by simulcasting Game 2 of the NLCS and Game 1 of the ALCS, thus putting both of them in Prime Time. Now, they want two separate TV audiences. While Boston to NY is not an arduous trip, shouldn’t the Yankees and Red Sox get some accommodation for losing their travel day to rain? Now, they may have to play a game less than 21 hours after the end of their last game and with a trip in the middle to boot.

Joe Torre bringing in Mariano Rivera for the 8th and 9th inning drives me nuts. First, what does it say to everyone in the bullpen when you won’t bring them in for the 8th inning with a 3 run lead? Second, Rivera doesn’t always pitch as well in inning 2 as he did in inning 1. Third, Rivera threw 28 pitches, what if they need him tomorrow for a closer game?? I know that Torre was proved right tonight, but I still think a Contreras/White combo would have been the way to start the 8th tonight.
Also, why is Garcia in Right Field in the 8th inning? We know that Juan Rivera is the best OF on the roster and Mo had been brought in to close the game, so why didn’t Torre go with a defensive sub? I don’t think Rivera would have caught Walker’s Triple, but it may have only been a Double with him out there.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but why did Grady leave Lowe in for the 8th inning? The only conclusion I can draw is that he has less confidence in his bullpen than Torre does in his (excluding Mo)
Soriano’s flip from his glove to get a crucial out shows why he shouldn’t be moved from 2b. Sure, he makes bad errors, but he is improving (if you don’t believe me, look at a tape of the 2001 Yankees) and his offense at Second makes him one of the most valuable players in the game. Yes, he may not walk enough, but his combo of speed and power makes him dangerous in every at bat. He may never win a gold glove, but he should stay at second. Put him in Right Field and you reduce his value. That’s it for tonight, see you tomorrow!