There’s no debate here. Congratulations to the Yankees on another AL East crown. Onward and upward.
Thursday, September 30th, 2004
Little do people know, but in setting up this website YF and SF went through tense negotiations in determining the ground rules of the blog. Attorneys from both sides spent hours in boardrooms setting up the structure of the discussion, with both sides claiming victory upon seeing the final code. Some small pieces of the negotiation have come to light in the form of a previously confidential memorandum, and we’re happy to present it for the world to see and judge.
To: Hoity, Toity, and Snobbish, LLP, Attorneys-at-Law for YF
From: High, Mighty, and Curt, Attorneys-at-Law for SF
There are several still-outstanding issues that we must resolve prior to going live with the planned blog. They are as follows:
YF requiring SF sign off each post with the handle “Bridesmaid” is unacceptable.
YF requiring SF to “cease and desist comparing the Yankees to the GOP” is unacceptable.
YF requiring the site to contain a weblink to “The Unofficial Jessica Alba Fan Page” is unacceptable.
YF requiring a 48″ tall podium behind which he can stand while posting, to shield a height difference from SF, is unacceptable.
YF requiring SF to “admit to rooting for a team with a history of abject failure, from which he will never emotionally recover”, is open to negotiation.
We await your response.
High, Mighty, and Curt, LLP.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2004
Things sure can turn around quickly. At about 4:30 this afternoon, things couldn’t have looked more bleak. Here were the Yankees, their putative ace getting slapped around by the Twinkies, down 3-0, with the Sox only 2.5 back and Pedro standing by to pitch.
But now look where we are, just five hours later. Moose turned it around, the Yanks managed to come back in game one and then take the nightcap, the Sox lost, and the Bomber’s magic number dropped down to 1.
Running on the treadmill, sound muted on the television tuned to the YES Network, I spy an ad for the show “Centerstage”, hosted by Michael Kaye. Apparently Kaye gets to interview luminaries from around sport, people like Cal Ripken, Chris Evert (both are shown in flashes during the commercial). But who gets the spotlight in the commercial, who sits on “centerstage”, as it were? None other than Michael Kaye! Interviewing himself!! Must be a really interesting conversation, I can only imagine how it goes…
Kaye: “So, Mike, what did you do last night?”
Kaye: “Well, er, Mike, I , uh, we sat around and talked to, uh, Jim, and Ken, and, occasionally you, er, me.”
Kaye: “Who’s more interesting to talk to?”
Kaye: “Well, who’s sitting in the chair across from you right now, smart guy?”
Anyhow, I don’t know if the dialogue on the commercial was self-effacing (it may have been), and Kaye is actually about as tolerable as they get in this town, but it just seemed so appropriate, a Yankee announcer engaging in such silly solipsism.
“This game is developing like a divisional playoff game” or something to that effect sayeth Kaat, as he talks about the Minnesota bullpen. Except that Ron Gardenhire yanked Johan Santana, in the middle of a 3-hit shutout, after 5 innings to rest him for next week. The Twins bullpen is imploding having to pitch 4 innings, something they would never have been called on to do in a playoff game with Santana on a roll. Why can’t Kaat think straight? How can he be so smart but make so many asinine comments?
I am trying my hardest to listen to him with open ears, after the praise heaped upon him by my co-blogger, but Kaat just can’t get through any kind of stretch without saying something off-the-planet stupid.
(Edit: Now before I get picked on for picking on “Kitty”, I put up with the post/pre-game show at the gym as it was all that was on. I listened (or, rather, read the captioning) closely, thinking maybe Kaat and Kaye would address their earlier comments about the pattern of the game. But Kaat twice more set upon the above-referenced train of thought in his own odd way, and even had the gall to use today’s game as indication of “the difference between the two teams”, showcasing the striking ability of the Yankees to come from behind in contrast to the lesser Minnesota bullpen. Again, this is pure nonsense. Yes, the Yankees have been good at coming back this season, but today’s circumstances played right into such a scenario – Ron Gardenhire voluntarily hamstrung his own team’s ability to win a game this afternoon. Why he did this can be debated as right or wrong, but that’s not in this post’s purview. Had Santana pitched through the 8th, as it appeared he might easily do under any other circumstances, the game would likely have been lost by the Bombers. Today’s game didn’t really indicate any difference between the teams, other than that the Twins started a superior pitcher, and that a team that pulls a Cy Young winner with 4 innings to go and a 2 run lead may not have winning at the top of their list.)
Tuesday, September 28th, 2004
Yes, the rumors are true. Nelson de la Rosa, a 36-year-old dwarf from the Dominican Republic, has been adopted by Pedro Martinez as the Red Sox’s “good luck charm.” Says Pedro: “The guys are falling in love with him.” We don’t know exactly where to go with this—talk about a straight line—but we can report that there has been no word from the Bronx on negotiations between Steinbrenner and Verne “Mini Me” Troyer.
Monday, September 27th, 2004
Sunday, September 26th, 2004
Up. Down. Up. Down. The Sox come back in the bottom of the ninth for a huge win, then are blown out in two straight. The Yanks knock off Pedro in a stirring reprise of last year’s LCS, and then are dumped hard twice in a row. Who’s got momentum? It changes hourly.
It’s a bit ironic that, as SF has noted, these two teams have been jockeying not so much for the division crown over the last month, but to set themselves up for the postseason. And now that it’s barely two weeks away, both have more questions than ever about their pitching rotations. Mussina and El Duque go 1 and 2 for the Yanks, but from there, what? Schilling looks brilliant for the Sox, but now Pedro seems vulnerable, and it’s downhill after him. Or maybe it’s not? Who knows.
Has there ever been more uncertainty entering the postseason? It’s been an odd conclusion to an interesting year. This much we do know: both Torre and Terry will be looking for any and all signs as these last days wind down.
It’s been done to death, but I’d love to hear YF’s take on the YES analysis of the beanball exchanges in today’s games. I won’t bore anyone with a summary, but they were all over the place, highly inconsistent in their comments, and of course came out praising the Yankees. It’s too bad the MLB radio broadcast is delayed, or I’d just turn the sound down on these yes men and listen to Joe C. and Trupe.
As for my take, Lofton’s a punk, Mientkiewicz was standing on the bag (big deal, though), Astacio’s so bad he didn’t even have enough control to hit Lofton, and Halsey could have and should have thrown at someone’s hip, not their head.
(EDIT: Fred Hickman and the Yes Woman, Suzyn Waldman, offer a redeeming post-mortem, speaking honestly and openly about both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Waldman especially excels, wondering aloud how Esteban Loaiza and Joe Torre can possibly think that Loaiza “showed something” today. And if one thought Pedro Martinez seemed resigned after Friday’s games, it’s worth watching Waldman’s post-game interview with Kevin Brown, who looked as if the clubhouse attendant took away Brown’s access to the shaving kits, fearing self-abuse. He looked a beaten man, someone who lost his daddy.)
The Sox push by tonight, but let’s face it: the story this weekend remains Pedro’s profane homage to his “daddies” from the Bronx. What happens if these teams face each other in the playoffs? Have Pedro’s teammates seen weakness in their stalwart? Does Schilling move automatically into the #1 slot? The daddies themselves will undoubtedly be buoyed by the comments—they know they’ve got the man who was their nemesis spooked. And if that was some roundabout way of buttering up a team with which he would like to sign next year…we can only assume it backfired.
Saturday, September 25th, 2004
Today is Yom Kippur, Terry, and I suggest you bust it over to Beth Zion this morning for some major league atonement. Your job is not to make Yogi “Deja Vu All Over Again” Berra look prophetic. I mean, you know what happened last year, right? Right?! If you don’t want to be mowing lawns with Grady next summer, you’re going to be fasting until sundown tonight. Shalom.
A defense of Jim Kaat-as-announcer hardly seems like something that would be necessary at this point, but SF’s constant harping, culminated by this evening’s diatribe, unfortunately demands a response.
Let’s make this much clear: we don’t agree with every Kitty-ism. His misrepresentation of “Moneyball” tactics is a constant frustration. And there’s no doubt he has some curious ideas, especially when it comes to pitching. But these ideas are based in his own experience, and it’s worth remembering just how extraordinary that experience has been. How many lefties have more wins than Kitty? Five. Ever. He’s got 16 Gold Gloves, is the all-time record holder for sacrifices by a pitcher, and put in over 300 innings in two different seasons during a 25 year career that deserves a lot more HOF attention than it has received. Does this history color the way he understands the game? Absolutely. But an informed listener should know his record, and know what and what not to take with a grain of salt. The rewards are worth it, for there’s no more genial 9-inning companion than Jim Kaat.
Friday, September 24th, 2004
And now Yankees fans can see the incompetence of Terry Francona, highlighted by his glaring inability to remove pitchers at the right moment, his inability to risk manage with any kind of panache. He’s terrible. Absolutely no reason, with a rested bullpen, to bring Pedro out in the 8th, none at all. Grady redux. He’s the worst kind of manager, a saboteur hidden behind a winning record.
(EDIT: Wow. I posted this after Matsui’s home run, and just assumed that Francona would come rescue Pedro, let him walk with the tie still in hand. But he’s in full Grady channel mode, and it’s pathetic.)
I don’t know how else to say it, but Jim Kaat should just shut the f*ck up about how “Pedro is a better pitcher now than when he had all the firepower”. Pedro Martinez was always a crafty, intelligent pitcher who had the ability to blow guys away but oftentimes got guys out with majorly clever pitching patterns and not gas. But he is simply NOT better now than he was in his most dominant season. He’s the SAME EXACT PITCHER WITH LESS “STUFF”, hence his higher ERA, lower strikeout total, higher home run total, lesser win total. If his numbers were close to what they have been, Kaat would have a reasonable case, but they simply aren’t, and he’s flat-out wrong. I have seen a lot of Pedro, far more than Kaat, I presume, and he’s misguided. Worse, his argument is the kind of knee-jerk idiocy that smart-ass broadcasters (like Kaat and McCarver) throw out there to make us think they have an inner knowledge that us fans don’t, that they know something special. It’s insulting.
So, ENOUGH already with this cop-out of an analysis. If he says it again I am going to hunt him down and tape his mouth shut, once and for all. And then I am going after Stirling.
My guess is this weekend, barring a sweep by either team, is going to be over-covered, over-emphasized, over-everythinged. Last night’s loss by the Red Sox should adjust, in my opinion, the Red Sox’ attitude towards the rest of the season. Even with an improbable sweep they will still be behind the Bombers, with a week to go.
To wit: an unlikely sweep by the Sox would do one thing: put the division up for grabs (and we already know how valuable that is – not very). A sweep by the Yankees would have far greater implications: it could, conceivably, put the Red Sox’ playoff hopes on thin ice (this is my own worst-case scenario, obviously). Either team wins two of three, which I think is a reasonable expectation, and the following happens: the division is decided, the Red Sox’ playoff chances are solidified. This weekend, barring injury or some other world-shaking event, may have almost no impact on the future post-season accomplishments of either team. Both the Red Sox and the Yankees are past the point of intimidation – I think it’s fair to say that neither team is scared of the other.
So this is what should happen over the weekend (though if one team takes the first two games, my post is rendered somewhat moot): on Sunday both teams should begin setting themselves up for the post-season, by arranging rotations, by keeping certain players rested, by watching their bullpens and not overusing any single player. They should be gettting the 24th man on the roster playing time, they should be fine-tuning. They should be watching the AL West and the Twins, getting ready for their more important post-season opponent. This series is not that big a deal (barring the aforementioned sweep, of course), and I await an hyperbolic press corps, covering this series like it’s the “War in the Fens”. It’s not. Either team takes 2 of 3 and the world is the same as it is now, the series is rendered meaningless.