Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Game 58: Five to One

Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive
You get yours baby,
I'll get mine
Gonna make it baby if we try

The old get older
and the young get stronger
May take a week and it may take longer
They got the guns but
We got the numbers.
Gonna win, yeah we're taking over

The Yankees are 0 and 5 against the Red Sox in 2009. Boston swept a three game set at Fenway April 24-26, then took a brief two game set at the Stadium on May 4th and 5th. The Yankees followed that series with two losses to Tampa. Since then however, they've been on a tear, going 21 and 8 in that stretch and winning 8 of 9 series. They enter the game tonight with a one game lead over the Sox. They look to get their first win of 2009 against the Sox tonight and make it One and Five against them for the sesason.

A.J. Burnett opposes Josh Beckett tonight in a rematch of the April 25th game. This should be a pitchers' duel, even if their last match-up turned into a slugfest. And David Ortiz will see if his new eye drops solve his problems.

"Five to One" appeared on The Doors' 1968 album Waiting for the Sun. 1968 was one of the most socially and politcally volatile years in the history of the U.S. Though Jim Morrison said that there was no political motivation to his lyrics, one theory suggested that the lyrics were a reference to how the younger generation outnumbered the older "establishment" and that the social and political landscape would soon change.

Perhaps the state of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is similar these days. The teams are essentially dead even head-to-head since the start of 2005. The Yankees hold a 40-39 edge in games but have been outscored 451-442 in that time. However, after nearly a century of having their hearts crushed annually, it feels as if the pendulum has swung the way of the Red Sox since coming back from an 0-3 deficit in the 2004 ALCS. Since then they've won two World Series while the Yankees haven't made it out of the ALDS.

But over the past month, the 2009 Yankees have shown many of the same characteristics of the teams that had great success against the Sox prior to game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. It's too early to tell if the momentum is swinging back the Yankees' way. It may take this week's series to find out; it may take longer. But a win tonight would be a good first step towards restoring order to the universe.

Maahhk Passes Yoouuk

There's really no point in gloating about All-Star balloting since who is leading really depends more on the size of a team's fan base or the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns than who the most deserving candidate is. FOTB Jason did an excellent job of laying out exactly why the voting for the ASG is a joke, just this morning. However, if we are going to maintain this niche of Kevin Youkilis hatred we have going here, we are sort of obligated to point this out:
Mark Teixeira shook off a slow start in pinstripes to begin playing like an All-Star, and the fans have taken notice. A blistering May propelled him past rival Kevin Youkilis in the most recent updates for the July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium, but it's still a very tight race. Teixeira's lead over Youkilis stands at just over 1,000 votes.
After spending the beginning of his career in Texas and splitting time between the AL & NL last year, it will be only the second time in his career Teix has been voted in. I guess it's not that surprising when you consider that Teix is a consistently slow starter and first base tends to house a lot of powerhouse offensive players.

Youk's contract runs through 2012 with an club option for 2013 while Teix is signed through 2016. These guys are going to be in duking it out for that 1B spot on the AL All-Star team for a long time to come.

Fack Youk Exclusive: Phil Mickelson Still Left Handed

This morning, my friend Mike and I had a tee time for 10:12 on Bethpage Red. The forecast looked pretty bleak, but not willing to blow off the time and risk a no-show fee if the course wasn't closed, we worked our way out the Long Island Expressway through pretty thick traffic. We walked into the shop and were told that due to all the rain, the course was shut down for the day. It kind of sucked, but typically when you get rained out of a round of golf, you don't get to walk around the course where the U.S. Open is going to be played in less than two weeks.

It was still raining pretty hard, but Mike and I headed over towards the first tee on the Black Course. An archipelago of umbrellas were lined up along the tee box, and given how poor the weather was, we assumed there had to be something worth seeing.
On the tee was Phil Mickelson, his caddy Bones and short game guru Dave Pelz. Phil hit three tee balls, two of them perfect blasts down the center of the fairway, looked at Bones and said "Okay, that's enough. Let's go inside". The balls were just left sitting in the fairway. Phil wasn't going to be playing golf today either (at least for a little while).

That there is the 18th green of the Black course. If it looks like it's completely covered in a sheet of water, well, that's because it was.

I have plans to go out a practice day next week (Tuesday or Wednesday) and possibly a day of the tournament. If either of those happen I'll get back to you with some pictures and a definitive answer as to whether Vijay Singh is as much of a douchebag as everyone says.

On the Red Sox, SS stands for "Spouse Slugger"

Tonight the Yankees return to Fenway looking for the first victory of 2009 against the Sox. And apparently, the Yankees won't be the only team in the park with a defensively limited shortstop.

With Jed Lowrie recovering from wrist surgery, and Nick Green playing like Nick Green, Julio Lugo has been the Sox' starting SS most of the last month. And the Boston Herald's Sam McAdam has seen enough. Which in turn prompted Deadspin to link to the article under the headline Sean McAdam Is Not A Fan Of Julio Lugo's Defense, which is interesting, because Julio Lugo is not a fan of his wife's self-defense.

Derek Jeter may also have limited range, but at least he can hit something other than a woman.

Rumors abound about the Sox making a move for a SS. Given their affinity for employing men with a history of domestic violence at the position, they may want to consider dealing for the Royals' Alberto Callaspo.

A Lesson in Overmanagement

Jay and I were both fairly busy last night, hence the lack of our usual in depth recap. I hit the road just as the first pitch was thrown and was driving for 2 hours of the 2 hour and 34 minute game. I tried to listen on the radio, but I just couldn't stomach a second straight day of Sterling and Waldman. I made it as far as the Teixeira home run, and was left with no choice but to bail out after Sterling launched into his absurd and self-serving "It's a Teix message. Oh you're on the mark, Teixeira!" call. Besides, I had some catching up to do with Jam_On on XM after it had been replaced by DMB radio for all of last week.

I did turn the game back on in the seventh, just in time to hear Hughes retire the side in order and in impressive fashion and then arrived at my New Jersey destination just in time to see that the Yankees Overmanager decided to remove him for eighth. Let's do a quick recap bullet point style:

  • The HRs continue to fly out of the park: Teix, Swish, Damon and Jeter for the Yanks, Kapler for the Rays, running the total to 105 through 29 games. By contrast, last year there were 160 in 81 Yankee Stadium games. Yes it's still early, but it's getting later by the day. This trend has yet to show any signs of slowing down.

  • Pettitte turned in what is becoming a characteristic performance for him. As Girardi like to say, he bent but didn't break. We don't know if his back has anything to do with it; there was a trainer's visit to the mound in the third. It could be though, that this is what we're going to see from Andy Pettitte at this point in his career - which isn't the worst thing in the world. He still eats up innings and generally gives them a chance to win. It isn't pretty, but he seems to do enough to get by. That's not the worst thing in the world from a back-end starter.

  • Hughes was impressive: a perfect inning on 11 pitches, 7 of them strikes. Facing the top of the order, he induced two groundball outs then blew away Mrs. Tony Parker on a 94 MPH fastball.

  • Inexplicably, Hughes did not return for the eighth. I'm furious about this. He's a soon-to-be 23 year-old starter who needs innings. As I've stated previously, I'm not opposed to him being in the pen, but he needs to be used. Otherwise he's going to lose arm strength and be at risk for yet another injury when they actually choose to use him again. I'd rather have him start in Scranton if he's just going to rot in the pen. It's June 9th; Hughes has thrown exactly 11 pitches this month.
  • I understand that the dangerous Carlos Pena was leading off the eighth in a one run game. I understand that Joe Girardi has a man crush on Phil Coke. I think Coke is a pretty decent pitcher. But I would have left Hughes in.

  • The only possible explanation I can think of is that they wanted to save Hughes in case they needed to piggy-back him on Wang Wednesday. But if you keep saving your bullets, eventually you're left with a loaded gun and a bunch of bullet holes in your chest. If the level of confidence in Wang is that low, it's only further evidence as to how badly his return was botched. And, I think Girardi has show that in the event a starter exits early, Aceves is his pitcher of choice.

  • Perhaps more curious than Hughes not getting the ball in the 8th was Mo getting the ball in the 9th for the third straight day. Now I didn't have a problem with Mo coming in Saturday, until it was revealed that he was sick. He had a very efficient ninth on Sunday (1-2-3, 10 pitches, 8 strikes) and was nearly as efficient yesterday: 1-2-3, 11 pitches, 7 strikes. I guess that puts to rest the rumors of his demise. Again. However, he's now thrown 42 pitches over three straight days and will likely not be available for tonight's opener in Boston. Great job Joe.

Aren't You Glad The Yankees Are In The AL?

The Yankees pitchers have started taking BP:
Wang was in the batting cage yesterday, as was accomplished hitter CC Sabathia (.261 average in 88 at-bats with three home runs and 13 RBIs). Sabathia is looking forward to taking his hacks for real.

Joe Girardi? He's not looking forward to any part of it. "It's always fun to watch them take BP," the manager said. "This big thing is to make sure nobody gets hurt in BP and obviously during the games. That's a concern of ours."
It's pretty sad that the discussion immeadetly turns to the possibility of getting injured. They aren't squatting behind the plate for 9 innings.

I enjoy watching pitchers hit. Particularly when they are terrible at it and on another team. It's like watching penguin hobble akwardly on land; they just aren't made to do it and it makes you appreciate all the other creatures who were. It will be worth sitting through two or three at bats a game for three series against the Marlins, Braves and Mets we get to watch big ol' CC hustle into second for just one double.

Strasburg... "What's The Risk?"

Occassionally, I have to park my car on the streets of Manhattan, which can take a while. Once in a while I turn on sports talk radio if I'm tired of scrolling through my iPod and usually end up regretting the decision almost instantly. Yesterday, I got back to the city around noon and turned on 1050AM just in time to hear Colin Cowherd say the dumbest fucking thing you will ever hear uttered about the MLB draft.

He spends a while defending Boras' $50M request (which even Scott Boras knows is ridiculous like the first numbers he threw around when A-Rod opted out), saying that like "John Elway and LeBron James", Steven Strasburg is a "once-in-a-decade type talent" and he can throw 103MPH (which obviously isn't true). The 'Herd then goes on to explain that the Nationals have nothing to lose since the Yankees drafted Brien Taylor in the 90's and still went on to become the team of the decade.

The grand finale occurs when Cowherd compares paying three times more than any other prospect ever for Strasburg is somehow less risky than taking a QB #1 in the NFL draft. Take a look at past #1 draft picks in the MLB. Now take a look at football's and tell me where there is more risk.

Listen for yourself. It's incomprehensibly stupid. Can we have Max Kellerman back, please?PLEASE?