Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Ups and Downs Of A Win

Every time I want to type, “wow, great game last night,” I keep thinking about how events transpired, and it comes out something like, “wow, we won in spite of ourselves last night.”

I guess that makes it a quality win, though. So many things went wrong, and the Yanks were able to overcome them and win in dramatic fashion. And I think that – the dramatic manner in which we won – is the reason to get excited over the win. I was elated, sure, but not like my buddy Andy, who sent this text message following Escalona’s game winning single:

What a win!!! Where (sic) going all the way BABY!

Okay, so he had a few in him. And I have to say, had I been a few Yuenglings deep, I might have been spewing similar messages to various cell phones. When you spend a season losing games like this, coming out on top just feels so good, no matter how rotten it felt during the first eight innings.

Which brings me back to one of my initial points: so many things going wrong. How about our 3-4 punch going 0-8, including A-Rod whiffing with runners on first and second with the score tied in the 8th and Sheff grounding into a double-play with the bases loaded in the 6th. Or Mo giving up two ill-timed hits. Or Sturtze, although not giving up a run of his own, allowing one of Leiter’s guys to cross the plate.

But we still won. Still got some clutch hitting, still displayed the discipline at the plate that we’re famed for. It all came together in the ninth, when we pulled off a comeback win that was a signature of past teams. Yet there’s something not quite right about this team.

It seems that the Yanks have found an apt rotation, especially with Leiter finding the strike zone lately. But what about Aaron Small? How is he still being ignored after stepping into a huge spot and delivering throughout August?

Sure, with the return of Jaret Wright someone had to be sent to the ‘pen. And, the way things were going, the options were Small and Leiter, one of whom was throwing strikes at the time. As much as I loved Small starting games, having Leiter in the ‘pen would have been disastrous.

So if he’s in the bullpen, why aren’t we using him? He hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday, when he came on in relief of Leiter. True, he didn’t have the best of games, but that’s no reason to not pitch the guy. Hey, I’d rather have him in facing a lefty than Embree at this point, at the very least.

I’ve been talking a lot about the second season in this space, and the more the Yanks win in August, the more tense the second season becomes. This is amplified by Boston’s comparable hot streak, making the six games in September all the juicer.

In fact, they may be a season in and of themselves. Two teams whose rivalry has transcended the game, six games down the home stretch, with division and playoff implications. They may be the six most intense days of a Red Sox or Yankees fan’s season.

As they should be. That’s the whole point of having them play each other down the stretch. In fact, I’d rather knock out one of the series in April and stick it in August, so there’s kind of a prelude to the madness that is September.

September baseball, only eight days away.