Thursday, September 15, 2005

Grievances, Grievances

At a time when the bottom of the 9th should never be a formality, it felt like just that. Despite the Immortal Mo’s recent history with the D-Rays, it still felt automatic. And my heart has never raced so rapidly for a lock.

Even after the D-Rays cut the lead to a run, even after the Yanks blew yet another bases loaded opportunity, my mind was still telling me that it didn’t matter. Mariano was headed towards the mound, which meant we were three short outs away from taking the second game of this three game series from the D-Rays.

And finally, we’ve won a series with the D-Rays. The closest the Yanks came to this previously was splitting a two game series back in April, which was followed by dropping three of four in each of the next two altercations. But complacency is the Number One killer this time of year.

The Yanks shouldn’t even be thinking about the past two games. Instead, they should still be focusing on a team that they’ve had a dickens of a time figuring out this year. I just have this sinking feeling, though, that they’re going to approach tonight’s game like a Rays game circa 2002. Such a game will drive me over the edge, a la Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

A few more things that will make me flip out in a fast food restaurant:
- Continued impotence with runners in scoring position: MLB.com has this wonderful feature called the O-Zone, which breaks down a team’s performance in various situations with runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, this feature is on the DL at the moment, thus I can’t access specific information. But the Yanks this season have been horrible getting, as John Sterling says, “the one big hit that puts them over the top.” You’re not going to win in the playoffs leaving 14 guys on base, eight with two outs. Then again, Matsui, A-Rod, Jeter and Cano all knocked guys in with two outs. Maybe a slight sign of improvement?
- Scoring in only one or two innings: That’s been one of the killers against Tampa Bay this year. The Yanks plate a few runs, and they sit back the rest of the game and watch as Tampa scores inning after inning. Hell, everyone witnessed that last night as they kept answering the Yanks scores with scores of their own. And they damn nearly came back the last time, too. If the Yanks continue to be – and here’s that word again – complacent scoring four runs in the first, they’re going to find themselves frustrated when there’s no bottom of the ninth.
- Chien-Ming Wang: Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for everything he did for the team in the first half, playing the part of the man amidst a pitching staff of chicks (inconsistent, making excuses, seemingly moody outings). But how frustrating is it to see the guy toss a mere 82 pitches through six and a third, yet allow five runs to score? So now he’s the inconsistent one.
- Torre’s refusal to use Al Leither from the ‘pen: Maybe this one is a bit premature, since he’s only been in the bullpen for nine games, and a few of those he needed off following the 12-0 game vs. Oakland (then again, how much rest do you need after hurling 1.2 innings?). He came out and pitched brilliantly against the Sox on Saturday, and sure, after 6.2 he’s going to need a few days off. So this is more of a preemptive frustration than an actual one. Who knows, maybe Joe will use him a la Sturtze. I just have a feeling he won’t, and since I’m listing my grievances now, I thought I’d throw this one out there.

Notice that I didn’t list Torre’s mismanagement of the bullpen or his seeming inability to read a scouting report. Those are major grievances shared by many fans, as I learned through discussion boards. The reason I don’t see them as a huge problem are as follows:

1) What the #@*% does the average fan know about the guys on the team? Do you spend hours with them daily? Have you talked to them before the game to see how they’re feeling? Do you have a relationship with them that would allow you to read them like a book? Oh hell no. So when Torre puts a guy in a situation that fans think is stupid, it’s just him acting with his gut feeling in the situation. Numbers tell you one story, but talking to one of your guys before the game tells a completely different one.
2) Has anyone noticed who sits next to Torre on the bench? Of course you have. Did anyone listen to the same Joe Girardi in the YES booth last year? Because if anyone did, they’d realize that this guy knows the game of baseball, and if you don’t think he reads every scouting report that comes his way, you’re nuts. It’s just that sometimes the scouting report isn’t everything. For instance, say the report on a guy says he has trouble with breaking pitches on the inside half of the plate. But he knows what the scouts say about him, so he takes a half step back. Well, tossing him an inside breaking pitch won’t do a whole lot of good, now will it? So you toss him some heat over the outer half to keep him honest. And maybe he reaches out and dinks it for a single through the hole on the right side. It happens. The scouting report is an important factor in baseball. So is deception.

One last grievance before I sign off for the day: would it kill the power that be to schedule us a weekday game? None for the rest of the year. Highly disappointing.