Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bigger Than A Half Game (Or: #@%&! You, Embree)

That’s the only way to describe the Baltimore Orioles last night. Rumor has it that they’ve been down on themselves for quite some time now, and as the Sterling/Walden tandem reported yesterday, they’re “counting the hours” until the end of the season.

Imagine that team cooped up for an hour and a half. A fight would break out, except everyone is too apathetic to pick one. The only thing this team looks to accomplish by the end of the year is insuring the departure of interim manager Sam Perlozzo. Not that this is his totally his fault, but his inability to hold this team together speaks to his ability to manage egos.

Sure, there were a duo of hustling, even spectacular defensive plays by David Newhan and Eric Byrnes, but those are two guys with plenty to prove. Newhan is a career backup sitting on a .201 average, and Byrnes is hitting in the interstate since leaving Oakland in mid-July.

But the story isn’t about the Orioles, it’s about the Yankees and their flat out sprint for the AL East Title, in which they got the first step out of the box. Sure, Boston didn’t lose, but now they’re playing two tomorrow. Then again, that doesn’t have the normal effect of dinging up the rotation, since Ole Rubber Arm can go on three days rest Saturday, juggling him with previously scheduled starter Mr. Big Mouth. But if there’s a strike in Boston’s column, it’s that they’ll wake up tomorrow ½ game behind the Yanks.

(Just as an aside, I’m actually typing this as I’m watching the waning minutes of the game. And yes, I’m about to bitch about Alan Embree, who can’t even manage a scoreless inning against an Orioles team that surely want to go home and squirt out some knuckle children at this point. Yeah, normally they’d go out for an 8-ball and some hookers, but tonight’s loss was much too depressing for even that.)

I was actually a bit nervous with the whole rain delay thing, since the notoriously fra-gee-lay Randy Johnson was the scheduled starter. I was on edge, expecting a barrage of doubles followed by a post-game interview riddles with excuses about the weather and not being able to keep warm. But Randall surprised me with his tenacity, plowing through the pathetic O’s for six innings before being yanked for a breather before his finale on Saturday.

Hopefully the O’s keep up this sloppy play for the next three days (and there’s no indication that they’ll pick it up) and we can continue to run up the score and keep Mo and Gordon in their seats. Nothing could be more beneficial than Mo and Flash going one inning each before Boston. Wishful thinking, yes, but it isn’t completely unfeasible.

Actually, I take that back. Nothing could be more beneficial than Toronto managing a split with Boston this week. Going into Boston up two would be monumental, though this also falls under the category of wishful thinking.

Realistically, we have to figure on being deadlocked heading into the weekend, winner of two takes all. It’s like a prelim round to the ALDS. A three game series, with the winner advancing to the ALDS for a five game series.

And, as I feared, I’ve run out of material following a blowout. Eh, it happens. So for the rest of this space, I’m going to turn the story over to The Boston Dirt Dogs for a very interesting piece on Schilling:

"When he comes into the game, people cheer him like he's the Pope? You think they'd let Pedro get away with this? Why does he get a free pass?"
- Anonymous Red Sox player on Curt Schilling

The guy over there overwhelmingly believe it is Keith Foulke, and why not? He holds the smoking gun. He’s being scrutinized for a poor season following his World Series heroics while Schilling is still Mr. Popular despite a similarly disappointing season. Foulke wants out of Boston after this season, so why not make a gripe like that to the press?

But how great would it be if Manny was the one who made that statement? Manny has always been – I don’t want to say ‘loose cannon’ since that’s too common a description of him, but it’s dead on, so I’m going to bite the bullet and use it. He expressed desire to leave town before the trading deadline, and what better way to force Boston’s hand than criticizing Schilling during a pennant race? Plus, the quote refers to Pedro, one of Manny’s buddies. There always a possibility of seeing them both in orange and blue next year.

I somehow doubt this will really shake up the Red Sox clubhouse. From reading the article in the Herald (linked to on Dirt Dogs), it seems the comments were made a week ago, and the newsworthy portion of the article is Schilling’s reaction. They’ve been down this road before; they know how to act like men. But, like all my fellow Yankees fans, I’ll be intently watching for them to break down this week.

And I’m nearly considering buying the MLB.TV Down the Stretch package for $10 just to watch the day game today.