Thursday, April 06, 2006

Athletics 9, Yanks 4

Is it too soon to compare the early goings in 2006 to those in 2005? We may only be one series into the campaign, so the sample sizes aren’t exactly convincing, but it still seems like nothing has changed. In fact, my most uttered phrase over the last two days: “Same Old Shit.”

The 2005 Yankees didn’t hit a low of 11-19 because they were a bad team. They hit that mark because their bullpen was questionable at best, they hit in spurts, they lost winnable games in the late innings, and played shaky defense. So this is different from this year how?

That we march into Anaheim tomorrow for a three-game set isn’t helping my confidence either. Those guys have been Yankee killers for quite some time now and could certainly send the Yanks tumbling down the ladder. Thankfully, they have a day off to regroup – but they had off-days early in the 2005 season as well.

[MORE]I’m not predicting another elderly couple start for the Yanks; I’m just saying that the factors leading to the 11-19 start are present in this incarnation of the team. Hell, those factors were present in the team throughout the 2005 season; they just overcame those obstacles as the season progressed. No one’s saying they can’t kick the problems in the teeth and start rolling from here.

The ONLY reason last night didn’t push me over the deep end: Jete’s error. You can say what you will about his mediocre defense, but he makes that play 49 times out of 50. Sure, the biggest innings came after that one, but I’m sure the play had an effect on the young Wang’s psyche. I’m not making excuses for the kid; those are the breaks and everyone knows it. Hopefully he can shake it off, buck up, and head back out next Tuesday for the home opener (against Joe Mays, who was anally raped by the Tigers yesterday).

Robbie Cano had me in a tizzy last night as well. He made such a spectacular baserunning maneuver in the third inning that I had to run to grab my notebook and write it down. Leading off the frame, Robbie smacked one up the middle and off the tip of Marco Scutaro’s glove (a bit of irony here, maybe? I mean, Cano DID knock Crosby out of the series). Mark Ellis was also in pursuit of the ball as it scooted into shallow center field, meaning no one was covering second base. I’d credit Tony Pena with seeing this and telling Cano to get on his horse, but Robbie was going hard all the way, flipping into overdrive as he rounded first. That’s something he never would have done last year.

But then we all know what happened in the eighth. It looked like Robbie just lost focus for a second, which was a perpetual problem in his rookie campaign. Larry Bowa should have been all over him after the game last night, and hopefully that further sparks Cano. He’s already made some snazzy plays at second during the first series, giving us all hope that he’s improved his defense as well as his baserunning.

Shame on the guys scheduling for MLB, who are obviously Yankee haters. Not only were we stuck with three straight 10:05 games to start the season, we’re saddled with two more in Anaheim before finally playing in daylight on Sunday (and that’s only because there can only be one night game on Sunday, the ESPN game). That one’s a rematch of ALDS Game One, Mussina v. Colon. Before those two square off, we have Chacon v. Kelvim Escobar on Friday (Escobar scares the bejeezus out of me), and Randy duels with Ervin Santana on Saturday. Two of three would please me greatly.