Sunday, May 31, 2009

Game 50: You Don't Know Me

Who is Carl Pavano?

I pose this pseudo-existential question because he was on the Yankees for four years and I don't feel like I actually know anything about the guy. I'm aware that he at one time drove a Porsche, dated Alyssa Milano, and at various points injured his ass, elbow, shoulder, neck, back, ribs, collarbone, big toe, inner ear, heel, scalp and gall bladder.

All of his defining moments for the Yankees came in The Post. After a while, even his teammates supposedly despised him. If the Yankees had dated Carl Pavano, they would have vast sums of money on him ($40M) and had sex roughly once every two months (26 starts in 4 years). And only a handful of those times (8 wins) would have been any good. Please see the Sports Hernia's heartfelt adieu for some more poignant thoughts on the matter.

After spending so much time on the DL and becoming a complete pariah to the team, he wasn't even allowed to have a personality. If he seemed happy or outgoing, everyone in the clubhouse probably would have wanted to punch him in the face. He was openly maligned by the media, the fans and became such a punchline that if he did avoid pitching towards the end of his contract, I would almost understand it. Almost.

It's okay though, because now were on to bigger and better things. Carl and the Indians look like they are happy together as they have won five of their last six starts. If you are of the vindictive ilk, perhaps you will take solace in the reality that the Indians are destined to suck this year and even if Pavano has a good season, it won't really "count" for shit. 

Opposing the face of all that went wrong with mid-to-late-2000's Yankees baseball will be Phil Hughes, who has already had his fair share of injury issues as well. Since being summoned from Scranton this year, Hughes has been great at times, decent at times and downright terrible once. Here are his earned run totals in order of appearance: 0... 3... 8... 3... 3... 0. Predict the next number in that secquence there Fibonacci. Even with two short shutouts, Hughes' ERA still sits at 5.16 due to that 8 run blow up against the Orioles and the fact he's averaging just under 5 innings per start.

Our understanding of Phil Hughes is still pretty fuzzy, but the anecdotes that the beat writers dig up always frame him as a pretty cool kid who seems to "get it". We don't know you yet either, Phil, but hopefully that will change over the decade or so.  

I wanna ask, you,
Do, you, ever sit and wonder,
It's so, strange,
That we could be together, for,
So, long, and never know, never care,
What goes on in the other one's head?

Winning Comes First

[No game recap this morning. If you want one, go here, or here, or here.]

You know that magical moving target that sports teams always search for? The secret elixir of success? It's the mystical ingredient that has lead to every single championship in the history of competitive sports. You can't manufacture or force it. It just has to naturally occur within the clubhouse/locker room/sidelines. If organizations could just unlock this one riddle, it would almost guarantee success every season.

Ahh, yes. Chemistry.

Our pal PeteAbe checks in last night/this morning with a report of the Yankees cohesiveness as a unit:
Baseball is a game of individual performance. Being friendly with your teammates doesn’t mean anything when you’re standing at the plate and Jonathan Papelbon is throwing 97 mph on the outside corner.

That said, these Yankees are a good bunch of guys who really do seem to get along.
He details Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher's video game contests, Teixeira and Posada making nice after a nasty collision they had back in 2006, a laser pointer that everyone likes to fuck around with and the two suites that CC rented for everyone to go see the Cavs vs. Magic game (guess I was wrong about it being LeBron's time, btw). 

One point he doesn't bring up, though: Chemistry is easy to come by when you've won 14 of 17 games. Everything looks peachy looking through a victorious lens. That's why every single time a team wins a championship, they look back and talk about what a "great group of guys" they had and explain how the way they got along spurred them to victory. It's always going to look that way in hindsight.

I would say it was a "chicken or egg" situation, but it's obvious which one comes first. Winning breeds chemistry, not vice versa. It's a simple fact of life; when things are going well, it's easier to interact with people, even those you don't really like. Let's see how amusing that laser pointer is after the next time they get swept in a series.