Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Half Full

I checked the score once at work, 5-3, quickly looked away. Waiting, pacing for 9:00 to roll around. I thought about checking again at 10 to nine but decided that the Baseball Gods might not be too happy with that move. So I waited until 9:10 and walked with purpose (i.e. I wasn’t speed walking, but I was moving as fast as humanly possible without looking like I’m hurrying somewhere) and turned my car on, hearing a commercial on 880.

Good, I thought to myself, I’ll catch a score in a second. And then my mind drifted to sugar plumbs and Leiter, thinking that maybe he worked a few scoreless innings and maybe we cut the lead. First thing I heard was Suzyn Waldman announcing the score as 8-7, but Sterling pissed on the fire a bit and said it was the top of the fifth.

Okay, this could be worse. F-Rod pitched a perfect, 10-pitch inning last night, so maybe he could quell the Orioles rebellion for an inning or two. Plus, Proctor (.191 against righties, hence my man-crush on him) can help out, and soon enough we’ll be to Sturtze, Gordon and Rivera.

As the game progressed, the sad fact that I was living in a fantasy world became apparent. I was a dunderhead to think Leiter could hold a lead. I want to cut him a break and mention that in his last two appearances, he’s gotten a 1-2-3 in this first full inning, but I’m too pissed at him at this point.

But no worry, here comes my boy Proctor to slam the door. Except Javy Lopez beat him to the punch. And after he loads the bases, here comes F-Rod, Mr. Ten Pitch. “He’ll get a double play and we’ll be out of this one,” I quipped to Dad. See, fantasy land. I just hadn’t pieced it together yet. It was much clearer to me after the wild pitch and two walks.

It’s just sickening that two key plays were a wild pitch and a passed ball. I didn’t witness Leiter’s impression of Rick Vaughn, but I’m sure it ended up somewhere near Cleveland. Jorge’s passed ball, however, was reminiscent of me in high school. I can remember a time or two when my mind drifted to normal high school thoughts while I was behind the plate (Mary wore a HOT skirt today), and just plain missing a pitch. But I was in high school and wasn’t raking in $11 million this season. My mind was allowed to drift; his is not.

All things considered, Wayne Franklin didn’t do a bad job at all, though we could have done without the bases loaded walk. Best performance by a Yankees reliever tonight, hands down. But that’s like saying the original Scream was the best of that series; decent, not impressive, surrounded by putrid company.

So the glass is half full, so at least Boston and Cleveland didn’t gain any ground. Sure, they missed an opportunity to capitalize, but it could have been worse. In fact, I felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders when Michael Kay announced that the Blue Jays had finalized their 7-5 win at Fenway. Of course, I was Game Casting it, but it was still in the bottom of the 8th when Kay said the game was over, and the Sons of Sam message board was moving slower than David Ortiz around the bases.

The most emphatic question mark to emerge from last night’s debacle is that of Mike Mussina and his start in the season finale on Sunday. He made us all uneasy by not only getting hammered, but by getting the hook way too early, thus not getting much work in. That was the whole point of bringing him back last Thursday, so he could fit three starts in before the end of the season. But with his abbreviated start last night, he really didn’t get much time to work the rust off.

This leaves a few potential scenarios heading into the weekend that may have Joe even more perplexed than last night, if that’s humanly possible. If the situation works out where the Yanks and Sox are tied going into the series and they split the first two, do you really want Mussina starting the rubber game? Sure, it’s Schilling for Boston, and he showed what his balls are made of last night.

But what are the other options? Jaret Wright? If he’s not pitching scared because of the barrage of flying objects that have struck him, he’ll be pitching crappy, as is his norm.

So in a moment of clairvoyance, I have figured out what the Yanks need to do: win the first two at Boston. That should solve any problems surrounding Sunday and will allow Torre to start Moose without having a barf bucket next to him on the bench.

As always, tonight is a must-win, and I like our odds. Chacon v. Cabrera. In 12.2 innings against the Yanks this season, Cabrerea has allowed 12 hits and walked 8, for a tidy WHIP of 1.67. We didn’t face him during the series last week, but he had questionable starts right before and right after. Though, laying into him shouldn’t be an issue; we laid into the O’s hurlers last night, but we just couldn’t get anything out of our boys.

But this is Chacon, the steal of the season. Sure, he’s had bad outings this year, but I have faith that he’s really found himself and is ready to contribute.

But that’s going to hinge on my exit from fantasyland being permanent.