Saturday, May 9, 2009

Game 30: Down In The Hole

As good as last night's game was, the Yankees are still one game below .500 and 4.5 games out of first place in the divison. 

"Way Down In The Hole" is also the theme song for The Wire (set in Baltimore).
When you walk through the garden,
You gotta watch your back,
Well I beg your pardon,
Walk the straight and narrow track,
If you walk with Jesus,
He's gonna save your soul,
You gotta keep the devil,
Way down in the hole.
Trying to get the Yankees out of the hole tonight will be Phil Hughes. He's had a bit of a battle with good and evil in his first two starts. In Detroit, he shut down the Tigers through six innings, struck out 6 and didn't allow a run. However, at home against the Red Sox, it took him 94 pitches to get through four innings and he got tagged with seven hits, four walks and four runs.

You'd like to see him take it a little deeper in to the games, but even if tonight's effort comes out somewhere between those two, the Yanks should be alright. The bullpen is well rested.

Being A-Rod > Being Jeremy Guthrie

I'm usually all over crowd-related Yankees screengrabbery, however I must turn to two good friends of the blog for this one: The Sports Hernia and New Stadium Insider

Exhibit A: A supremely hot blonde wearing a tight pinstriped tank top skips down the steps right behind the dugout to get a glance at A-Rod after his home run. She then has an obvious eyegasm upon first sight. 

Exhibit B: Jeremy Guthrie has a woman in the stands creepily miminc every portion of his pre-game warm-up routine.

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. 

"And On The FIRST Pitch..."

Given that it's not 1920, I'm guessing most people weren't huddled up by their radio on a lovely Friday night, listening to the Yankees game. Well fortunately for you, I have secured a (very low quality) version of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman's call of A-Rod's home run and put it behind a screenshot slideshow to preserve it in internet eternity (interity?):

Sterling: You know one thing, Suzyn? And I've seen this in tennis...

Ah yes, the classic tennis story. I've heard it a million times: Player's former coach reveals that their nickname was ____-Fraud, only to have everyone forget about those revelations when they are caught with a positive result on a steroid test, blah blah blah, everyone hates the guy, turns out he's got a torn hip labrum... then he kisses a mirror for a magazine shoot, someone writes a tell-all book about him and takes so many pot shots that people eventually start to feel bad for him... and here we are. 

My personal favorite part is where Suzyn says: 
"Well, I don't know who's in this park, but this entire park standing, orange t-shirts, blue t-shirts, they are giving this guy a standing ovation. (Crowd Boos)"
"This entire park?" Does she really expect us to believe this? So, even the people with the Styrofoam needles? If you are any Orioles fan, why would you applaud this? "Woohoo, our division rival just got their best player back and he smashed a three run homer off of us! I don't care if he took steroids... Good for him!!! But that Mark Teixeira asshole? BOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" Are you trying to tell me the Selena Roberts backlash polarized everyone that badly?

Anyway, could you have drawn it up any better? A-Rod took the pressure off him and the Yankees with one swing of the bat. CC turned in a gem and all of a sudden, the outlook isn't so bleak