Wednesday, October 12, 2005

After the Hangover

Okay, now I’ve had time to recover. Yesterday’s words were penned immediately following the game, and they ran thick with emotion. Everyone was a little emotional following the game, and especially during this morning’s hangover (not the alcohol-induced type, but the devastating loss type). This kind of banter has become common over the last five years: the “this is what we need to do for next season” post-mortem.

Sure, I’ve done my homework and I know who will be on the market this winter, both via trade and free agency. And after assessing the needs of the Yankees and of the other 29 teams, I have come up with an idear or two about what the Yankees could do to improve this off-season. But I’ll hold those thoughts back for now, since 1) it’s a bit too soon to be speaking of these things and B) news about these players materializes daily, and thus my opinions will fluctuate.

While it won’t be something I can write about daily, I think this off-season will provide an adequately entertaining story. I will, however, share one quick tidbit from my notes for the off-season: Juan Pierre will not be included, and I will call for the head of the GM that pursues him.

(Seriously, folks, the guy hit .276 this year with a .328 OBP, and he’s being touted as a great leadoff hitter? Sure, he’s got some speed. But speed doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not on base to utilize it. And speed is about all he has in the outfield as well, compensating for the late jumps he gets when the ball comes off the bat.)

So what to write about today? I’m not a close, personal friend of any of the players, so I can’t speak for their moods on the day following the ALDS. I don’t work in the front office, so I can’t tell you how Steinbrenner is actually reacting to an early exit for the fifth straight year. And really, I have no real affiliation with the Yankees, so I’ve got nothing “meaty” to talk about.

But I do have my obsessive, lunatic fandom. And maybe I didn’t suit up for 162 games over six months, but I sat on the edge of my chair for the bulk of those games, my mood dictated by how the team was doing. And it got so bad in May that I couldn’t even fully enjoy graduating college, because the Yanks were playing sub-.500 baseball.

Even though bad Yankee baseball puts me down in the dumps, it’s better than having no Yankee baseball at all. Now I have to endure four teams that I don’t particularly care for battling for the prize. Put on a spot, I’d like to see the ‘Stros win another one for Pettitte. They also have two players I truly admire in Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Add to that two young pitching studs, Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge, and even having Fat Roger on their team isn’t enough to make me root against them.

Put on the same spot, there’s no team I’m cursing harder than those blasted Angels of Anaheim. And the fact that they just squeaked out Game One of the ALCS against the ChiSox just makes me want to wretch. Please, the world does not need to see the Rally Monkey again. Ever, for that matter.

So tomorrow is another Yankee-less day. Hey, this has happened over the course of the past six months…it’s called the All-Star break. So what happens after my body wakes up to a fourth day of Yankee-less baseball? Will I go into sudden withdrawal, a la Reefer Madness?

Sure, I’ll have the LCS and the World Series to go, and I’m never one to turn down some good baseball. And shortly after the Series is over, the NBA will resume, giving me my nightly sports fix. Lucky, lucky, college basketball will be right on the NBA’s heels, and we’re back to a sport I can watch nightly and be passionate about.

(This isn’t to knock the NBA. I love watching the NBA, but I’ll watch a college game over it any day of the week. This stance isn’t unique; most sports fans I know take college over the NBA. Maybe it’s because they have more at stake, and don’t have $50 million egos to flaunt. Maybe it’s because I love team sports, and the NBA turns into five individuals too easily. Or maybe it’s because I’m not that far removed from college.)

And there will always be the NFL on Sundays, a day where I can kick back, hang with my buddies, drink beer and play Madden all day. There will never be a replacement for football, but I can’t enjoy it on the same level as baseball and basketball. It’s not a nightly event. Sure, storylines run deep, and at sites like Pro Football Talk, you can keep up with the soap opera of the off-field shenanigans.

None of them, however, will ever take the place of Yankees baseball. I’ll never be in a bad mood following a Rutgers basketball loss (though, I have to say I was pretty sullen after losing to Syracuse last year after being up by 21 at the half and having Shields’s – or was it Douby? – three pointer rim out at the buzzer), and the Jets have me so accustomed to football mediocrity that I can’t discern a win from a loss come Monday morning.

So as my body grows used to six months without any meaningful Yankees games, my mind will stay with the game. I’ll continue to write about the Yankees here, though I’m sure that my subject matter will expand to include basketball and some more football.

Tomorrow I’ll throw some NL banter your way, which will inevitably involve slipping into a diatribe on the DH rule. Friday we’ll chat some football, and then I guess I’ll wing it from there.

The 2006 Yankees…Champions in the Making.