Friday, May 8, 2009

Game 29: Guess Who's Back

It's the return of the Wild Style fashionist,
Smashin hits, make it hard to adapt to this,
Put pizazz and jazz in this, and cash in this,
Mastered this, flash this and make 'em clap to this...

I control the crowd, you know I hold it down,
When it drop you know it's jiggy when you hear the sound,
From town to town, until it's world reknowned,
And I rock New York City all year around.
Easiest. Song. Choice. Ever. Were it not written over 12 years ago, you might think that (the God) Rakim penned that song and the intro to the video explicitly for A-Rod's return to the Yankees. 

It wasn't too long ago that scribes were hypothesizing that the break from A-Rod might be a welcomed one for the Bombers. Remember this article?
And yet this is no cause for the mass hysteria that greeted Y2K. The team could lose its most feared and productive hitter, and yet the sky isn’t falling on Tampa, the Bronx, or on any other corner of the Yankees’ vast universe.

Why? Because an extended A-Rod absence would swing open a door of delicious opportunity, that’s why.

The Yankees could go back to being the Yankees. They could go back to being the team that won four championships in five years with reliable pitching and a harmonious band of position players that didn’t need a slugger whose favorite teammates are Me, Myself and I.

[Blah, blah, blah... Scott Brosius... those teams just found a way to win... ]


This isn’t the NBA. You can’t build a World Series winner around a Michael Jordan or a Kobe Bryant. A-Rod and Barry Bonds, the two greatest — if chemically enhanced — position players of their time, have combined to win as many World Series rings as the Cubs have won since 1908.
How did that theory work out for you, Ian O'Connor? 

The dynasty Yankees did have stars. Are you familiar with one Derek Sanderson Jeter? You don't think Roger Clemens loved him some Roger Clemens? Those Yankees got great offensive production from the three most difficult defensive positions, catcher, shortstop and centerfield. That had about a trillion times more to do with it than their lack of a star slugger.

Barry Bonds didn't win a World Series, but the one he appeared in went to 7 games and he batted .471/.700/1.294 with four home runs in it. Mickey Mantle won 7 World Series and so did Babe Ruth. Hank Aaron and Willie Mays won one a piece. Albert Puljos won one in 2006 and the Sox with Manny and Papi may or may not have chalked up a couple as well. Reggie Jackson was half the player and twice the clubhouse cancer of A-Rod and he's got 5 rings. 

Teams that don't have stud sluggers win despite that fact, not because of it.

I don't know what to expect from A-Rod when he returns to the team. There have been mixed results coming off these types of procedures, and extended Spring Training isn't going to give us a very good idea of how productive he can be. But like Big Willie Style showed this morning, there is no possible way he could be worse than the guys who filled his spot for the last 28 games. 

In a way, tonight represents a fresh start. As commenter mmb1980 noted on the post I put up late last night, as was the case just over a month ago on Day 1 of the season, CC Sabathia will oppose Jeremy Guthrie at Camden Yards. Granted, the Yanks have spotted Boston 5.5, and Toronto 6 games in the standings since that point, but with only 17% of the season in the books, those leads are quite surmountable. They Yanks just have to start heading in the right direction soon.

Welcome Back

A small news item concerning the New York Baseball Yankees... A-Rod comes back today.

For all of the haters, including Yankee fans that don't like him, if you think this isn't a good thing or he isn't going to make a HUGE difference over the season, you are kidding yourself... and I suggest you get a lawyer because you got robbed of an education.

For those of you that are engulfed and overwhelmed in A-Rod's off the field bullshit, and think it's going to tear the clubhouse apart, I suggest you go get yourself a copy of Cosmopolitan Magazine, make yourself a Sex on the Beach, and fuck the fuck off. This is baseball and no one cares.

A small statistical analysis for those of you who care:

Leave My Blues At Home

Let's start with the positive:
  • Johnny Damon went 4-5 and chipped in 4 very timely RBIs
  • Derek Jeter picked up two hits and a walk in 5 PAs
  • Melky Cabrera continued to impress at the plate, reaching base on two walks and a single and swiping a bag.
  • David Robertson appeared in the game and didn't give up a run, which is more than any of the other pitchers can say. 
That's it. Everything else about that game was excruciating. Maybe we're just getting impatient, or maybe it's just getting a little late in the season to say "it's still early". 

Right out of the gate, the Yanks found themselves in a hole. Pettitte jumped ahead of lead off man Jason Bartlett 0-2, but Bartlett then turned a 1-2 pitch into an opposite field HR into the Yankees' bullpen. Yes, that would be the same Jason Bartlett that had one home run all of last year. Two batters later, Pettitte killer Carlos Pena hit an absolute blast which landed about halfway up the bleachers in right center. 

It was a terrible way to start a game that felt as important as any so far this year. Let this sink in: the Yankees haven't been ahead in a game in the fifth inning on Saturday. 41 innings without a lead. As a fan, when your confidence has been shattered by a losing streak, the worst feeling is to get behind early. It can't be much different for the players. 

The Rays added two more runs in the third inning courtesy of an Evan Longoria round-tripper that left over the manual scoreboard in right. Maybe it's just because the pitching has been shitty thus far, but tonight especially, it seemed like the balls were flying around the New Stadium. 

The Bombers scored three in the fourth, two from a Johnny Damon double, and one more in the fifth on a homer from Hideki Matsui, knotting the game at four apiece. Pettitte promptly relinquished the lead in the top of the sixth, allowing yet another homer, this time to Ben Zobrist. He had only given up one HR coming into this game and it was the first time in his career he had given up four home runs in a single outing. He went six innings, allowed 9 hits and was fairly lucky to only surrender 5 runs.

Throughout the night, just when it seemed like the Yankees had grabbed the momentum, the Rays would snatch it right back. 

Jose Veras gave up a run in the seventh, which set up Johnny Damon for another huge hit in the bottom of the eighth. Jeter poked a two out single to center and Damon cracked a two run homer to tie the game once again. The Stadium erupted, and for one of the few times in the night, there was hope.

Of course those aspirations were quickly dashed when Mariano Rivera gave up the first pair of back to back home runs he has ever allowed in his career to Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. It was a night of "firsts" for Yankee pitchers and not in a good way. The YES cameras panned the crowd, capturing reactions of disbelief and shock. Rivera was sporting the same lost look.  

This was a tortuous loss at a very inopportune time. It was a brutal dicktease when I think we all could have used a little action. 

Now the Yankees will take to the road for six more divisional games in Baltimore and Toronto. A win last night would have taken a tremendous amount of pressure off of today's game in Camden Yards. CC Sabathia is going to be on the hill while A-Rod and Teixeria will be booed vociferously... three guys who haven't had the best track record of responding to pressure.

After going 2-5 on the homestand, perhaps some away games will cure what ails the Yanks. Perhaps they can leave their blues at home.   

You don't work, the man don't pay ya,
There ain't no saint to come and save ya, oh, puttin' your toll down,
Well if you ride, you pay the fare, with Satan on your back,
And he don't care where you come from or where you goin',
And before I get myself all down, I jump up and kick the door down,
And walk down on the street, and leave my blues at home.

All behind.