Wednesday, September 14, 2005

One Game At A Time

I can’t help my giddiness after last night. Hell, I couldn’t help my giddiness during the game last night. True, I was at work, but after I caught the update on ESPN.com and saw that it was 10-2, I started texting every Yanks fan in my cell phone with the message, “Thank God.”

Thank God for last night, indeed. But tonight is another adventure in and of itself. Need I refer everyone back to April 18th? 19-8? And April 19th? 6-2, in favor of the bad guys.

Well, it’s a similar situation, and we’re facing the same bad guys. And if you don’t think Sweet Lou is firing this team up for a rally tonight, you might be in for a surprise come 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Sure, it’s common knowledge at this point that Lou wants out of Tampa Bay, and the best way to a quick exit in baseball is to lose games. But hear me out on this one.

There are going to be a plethora of open managerial jobs this off-season. Oakland is purportedly ditching Ken Macha, and the Dodgers might be done with Jim Tracy – both good moves in my opinion. The Pirates job remains open, though Jim Leyland would surely have the gig if he so wished, and it seems like he might. Allan Trammell is on the outs in Detroit, Dusty Baker has been rumored for the bulk of the season to be done in Chicago, the O’s need a new guy, and Jack McKeon leaving Florida could come at any minute (though not likely after this year).

This leaves Lou with his pick of the litter, since it’s basically a foregone conclusion that he will, by being fired or simply resigning, be managing elsewhere next year. But assuming that Billy Beane wants nothing to do with him (which is probably pretty accurate), what job there looks even remotely attractive? Maybe Detroit, but they’re stuck in one of the most talent-heavy divisions in baseball. The O’s? Eh, same dilemma, though I’m sure Lou would love to coach a team in the AL East.

Of course, the job in New York would be infinitely more appealing than any of the aforementioned positions. True, it’s not necessarily up for grabs, but I’m sure even in his old age, George has a good firing left in him should the situation call for it. And if the Yanks hit a slide that keeps them out of the playoffs after being this close at this point in the season, I just can’t see Torre here next year.

And where would George look first? Mattingly isn’t ready yet, at least I don’t think so. Mazzilli is an option, but from what I’ve read, he didn’t create the greatest reputation for himself in Baltimore and may be relegated to a lesser coaching role next year (hopefully third base for us so Sojo doesn’t make us suffer any longer).

It would only make sense for George to pursue the guy who said on multiple occasions that he’d never work for him again. Of course, we know these are hollow words, since he said those words following the ’87 season and was immediately hired as the General Manager for ’88.

What’s in it for Lou, you ask? He’s not exactly a young buck anymore, having proclaimed that he has forgotten more baseball that Curt Schilling knows (and I’m inclined to believe him). And in his managerial journeys, he still hasn’t hit the jackpot. Does he think he’s going to strike it rich in Detroit or Los Angeles? Yeah, maybe in five years with some impeccable GMing.

Aside: I shouldn’t say that about LA. I like what DePodesta has done with the team and I despise Jim Tracy, so I guess filling the managerial role with a guy like Lou could do them a world of good. Well, in addition to avoiding injuries and pitching up a few quality pitchers. So that’s a possible hole in the argument, but considering the way they’re playing this year, I don’t think a managerial move will immediately push them over the brim.

In New York, however, he’d inherit quite a few superstars, a formidable pitching staff, and a nearly unlimited budget. He’d be in the spotlight, and in all likelihood will be in contention year in and year out. What more could an aging manager ask for? Hell, Zim turned down managerial jobs just to be the bench coach in New York.

This has everything to do with the series. As much as Lou just doesn’t care about this Devil Rays team (or at least that’s how it seems), he’s going to care about beating the Yankees if for nothing else than the fact that it will put him in a better position to take the team over. If theYanks don’t make the playoffs, the Yanks have an opening. Lou can play the role of spoiler with the Rays and slide onto that bench next year if he keeps his team fired up.

Thankfully for Torre, he’s not going to take the D-Rays lying down. If Lou is motivated because of the possible opening in New York, Joe is motivated because he wants to avoid that vacancy. There’s no way he’s going to let the Yankees become complacent following this blowout like they did on April 19th. They only have a few more games they can lose this season, and wasting one of them on the last place team in the division is not exactly the safest route.

On a parting note, I’d like to detour to the subject of the batting order, which has varied more in the past week than it has all season. I guess Joe’s really feeling the pressure now, and shaking up the lineup to keep the team from getting stale. But, come playoff time, I’d like to see the following 1 through 9:

1. Jeter
2. Matsui
3. A-Rod
4. Giambi
5. Sheffield
6. Bernie
7. Sierra/whoever is DHing
8. Posada/Flaherty
9. Cano

Cano has been much better in the nine slot with the top of the order in back of him to help insure he sees strikes. Lawton will surely be stuck in there, especially with Sheff DHing for the time being, even though he hasn’t exactly been a success thus far.

Hopefully tonight will be another filled with happy text messages.