Saturday, May 9, 2009

The CCure For What Ails You

(Photo: AP via ESPN)

After retiring Melvin Mora on for the third consecutive strikeout out of the ninth inning, CC Sabathia let out a raw, guttural shout. It signified a release of pent up frustration that had been building around the Yankees for the past 5 games. It had been a full week since they had notched a victory and fans and players alike had been angry and annoyed, wondering when the Yanks would catch a break. 

It didn't take long. Four batters into the top of the first inning, on the very first pitch he saw, everyone's favorite offseason punching bag and water cooler topic, Alex Rodriguez, reminded us why there was so much talk about him in the first place. He blasted a three run homer off Jeremy Guthrie into the left field seats and gave the Yanks more runs than they would need.

Although his start wasn't as dramatically framed as A-Rod's return, Sabathia's complete game shutout allowed even more reason for optimism. He needed only 112 pitches to mow down the Orioles, striking out 8 and allowing only one walk and four hits.   

It might be just an knee jerk reaction to one really good game, but the literal and figurative dark clouds of the poor weather and the losing streak seem to have lifted for the Yanks. A-Rod created a singular moment that might be considered the turning point in the season if the Yanks can go on a run. Sabathia pitched brilliantly to preserve those runs, or else it wouldn't have been nearly as significant. Or worse, imagine if A-Rod had gone 0-5 with 4Ks and CC got tagged for 6ER (again)...

I think part of the reason that the older class of fans and writers dislike the new wave of statistical analysis is that it tends to dull the edges of the ups and downs of a season. You can dismiss bad play as bad luck or chalk unusually good results up to a small sample size (coughMelkycough). Viewing player's performances though this lens eliminates a lot of the premature overreactions, like the stuff you see on the back page of the tabloids. Stats give a wider perspective and as a result, if you lean on them for your analysis, you won't ride the rollercoaster of what happens in every game to the same extent. 

That said, these last two nights have tested the rational fan in me. Coming off the loss on Thursday, I felt pretty uncertain about the team's prospects. After last night, I feel pretty damn good. One game really shouldn't make that much of a difference.

We try to read into the storylines as they manifest themselves in every plate appearance, thinking that there are hidden answers as to what is to come. It's human nature. We aren't satisfied to just watch what is happening; there is an incessant need to find some sort of context. That's what makes it captivating. It's not that often you find the patience to sit and savor the moment. 

Today is one of those Saturdays when you don't mind waiting 'til 7:00PM for the game to start. 

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