Rainy Days And Sundays Always Get Me Down

Could Be A New Low, But There’s So Much Competition

 

Anyone who knows a little about baseball and who watches ESPN’s Sunday Night telecasts knows that MIller and Morgan, once more or less competent, have descended far into self-parody.  Since I’m addicted to baseball I watch all these Sunday Night games.  When the Yankees aren’t involved I don’t pay Bozo and Balloon Head (Morgan and MIller, respectively) much mind.  But when they do Yankee games I’m compelled to listen.

And woe is me.

Morgan, who admits that he doesn’t watch a whole lot of baseball aside from the games he broadcasts, was in mid-season form Sunday night.  Miller, who has trouble reciting facts and stats, and for some reason over-pronounces all words and names Spanish, wasn’t far behind.

These guys have been at it for 19 years now and they’ve mailing it in for a solid decade.  Sunday night we were treated to:

1.  Miller criticizing how Wang handled the run-down when Reyes was caught off of second on a come-backer.  He was humiliated in fine fashion when the replay showed Jeter calling for the throw, invalidating Miller’s assertion that Wang threw the ball too soon.  This was Morgan’s high point, which should tell you something.

2.  Morgan went into a longish “inside baseball” explanation about Wang’s sinker and hitters hitting the top half of the ball vs. hitting the bottom half of the ball.  Essentially, Morgan delivered the absolutely novel insight that sinkerball pitchers get hit when their pitches are up!  As I was recovering from the shock of the new, I started to laugh, since one of the “bad pitches” they were replaying as Morgan was talking was Moises Alou’s check-swing single.  It was such a bad pitch it totally fooled him?

3.  The should-have-been home run.  Bozo and Balloon Head did a pretty good job on this, at first.  Although, as a caller to WFAN pointed out, what exactly is the “foul side” of the pole, John?  Any ball that hits the pole is by definition fair.  But yes, ok, that bottom part shouldn’t be black, and maybe there should be instant replay for these kinds of calls, but Miller and Morgan flogging the dead horse beyond all reason served mostly to amplify how un-knowledgable and boring these two clowns have become.

4.  Small thing, but as they cut to commercial as the Yankees are changing pitchers, is it too much to ask for Miller to mention who is coming in?  To ask for a vaguely professional broadcast from the “worldwide leader in sports?”

5.  Morgan went way off the deep end late in the game when he started talking about shortstops, particularly Jeter and Reyes.  He started off with talking about how shortstops have to have “rhythm” and good footwork, and thus, all shortstops are good dancers.  I zoned out for a minute and Morgan was still going on . . . by the time he finished he had a football metaphor going:  Jeter was like a fullback and Reyes was like a tailback.  I kid you not. 

Honestly, if this had been a sitcom, Al Sharpton would boycott the network for portraying the black charactrer as such a buffoon.

6.  Is “adios senor pelota” the dumbest home run call in the history of broadcasting?  I vote yes.

I just checked the schedule for the other Mets’ series . . . we are not the Sunday Night game.  Yay!

Greed, Incompetence, And Impatience

Was That Really Necessary?

   Did the Yankees need to wait as long as they did to call Friday night’s game?  This game should’ve been called around 3 PM so that fans wouldn’t make the trek to the Stadium.

   I understand that sports is a business and that the Yankees need to squeeze every conceivable nickel from the paying public so that they can afford all the underachieving multimillionaires they want to sign, but was it truly necessary to extract that (outrageously priced) parking from those who went to the Stadium in hopes that the game would actually be played?  They really needed to sell a few thousand more hot dogs and hot chocolates?

   Stupid, inconsiderate, and mindlessly, needlessly, greedy.  The Opening Day shame is still too fresh for them to have pulled this stunt Friday night.

   Then, instead of doing the sensible thing, scheduling a day/night doubleheader for Saturday, when the weather forecast actually indicated that both games might get played, or even for Sunday, when it looked a bit dicier, but still possible, no make-up date is accounced.  Apparently the eventual plan will be for another one of those “historic” dual-borough day-night doubleheaders, with one game at Yankee Stadium and one game at Shea. 

    There is nothing historic about it, of course.  An accident of weather.  But wouldn’t it have been a novel idea to reschedule the game sooner rather than later so that you avoid the chance of doubleheaders and extra games piling up at very bad times late in the season?

    Suppose there is a rainout during the Shea part of the Subway series?  We are already carrying a game around against Detroit that hasn’t been scheduled yet . . . one of those is enough.

    Bad to the fans.  Bad for the team’s play and results.  Meet your 2008 New York Yankees.

 

George Had It Right!

“On the fourth game of that ’84 season, Meacham committed a two-out error that allowed the go-ahead run to score in a 7-6 Texas Rangers victory over the Yankees. After the game, an infuriated Steinbrenner ordered Meacham demoted to the minors, which wound up being Double-A Nashville because Andre Robertson, the Yankees’ first-string shortstop in ’83, was re-habbing at Columbus from injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Three years later, Meacham again came into Steinbrenner’s crosshairs when, in a spring training game against the Braves, he committed two errors on a pock-filled infield in West Palm Beach.. It didn’t matter that the Yankees had committed six errors as a team that day, Steinbrenner called GM Woody Woodward and ordered him to “get rid of Meacham.” 

The above is from a Daily News article wacing nostalgic about Meacham having returned to the Yankees as third base coach.  Meacham played for parts of six seasons with the Yankees, and, as noted above, was a favorite whipping boy of George’s back in the manic days.

Funny thing is, I thought Meacham was done losing games for us twenty years ago.  Sadly, I was wrong.

Yesterday, top 3, we lead 2-0 already on Jeter’s 2-run homer.  Something about Met pitching, no matter who it is, sets Jeter’s bat on fire. 

Damon singles.  Abreu doubles.  I am loving this game now.  I was worried that we wouldn’t do anything with Santana and here we are, knocking the ball around.  Yee-hah!

And then it happens.  Bobby Meacham, yes, that Bobby Meacham, sends Damon home with no outs and Damon is thrown out at the plate.  Abreu apparently was so stunned he forgets to take third on the throw.  So instead of second and thrid, no outs, and maybe the sky’s the limit today, it’s man on second, one out, and Santana breathing an audible sigh of relief.

I said to my friend at that exact moment, “this game just turned.”  Didn’t take a fortune teller to know that, of course.  The next inning the Mets combined an excuse-me, a broken bat, a 12-hopper, a nubber and two walks to take a 3-2 lead and that, effectively, was that.  Santana settled right down and the so-called “patient” team that we are allowed him to get six outs on twelve pitches!  (More on that in the next segment.)  Fonzie coughed up three runs, and we hit a couple of solo homers for cosmetic value that might’ve made Satana feel bad, but didn’t do anything meaningful to the score.

As for Meacham, I don’t want to hear it.  With no outs and a big inning a possibility, the runner has to be able to score standing up.  Second and thrid, no outs — we could score two runs and make it a 4-0 game by making two of the right kind of outs, for goodness sake.

People say that thrid base coahces only get noticed when they screw up. 

True.  And the point is . . . what?  The number of important decisions third-base coaches have to make are limited . . . as a result, they need to be right pretty much all the time.

So Meacham parties like it’s 1988, and we lose another game we really shouldn’t lose.  And it’s got nothing to do with the silly overhyped “Subway Series”;  we just need to stop losing stupidly, the way we did Saturday.

 

Has Mike Francesa Actually Watched Any Yankees Games This Season?

For some reason I subjected myself to a few minutes of Mike and the Mad Dog the other day.  Mike’s knees must’ve been bothering him becasue he was even more condescending and dismissive of callers than usual.

A caller suggested that perhaps the Yankees’ problems on offense lately were because they weren’t being patient enough at the plate.  Francesa was all over that, jumping the guy in his finest “I’m Mike Francesa and you’re not” style.

The Yankees are one of the most patient teams.  Abreu and Giambi are patient to a fault.  Bla.  And bla.  And freaking blaaaaaaa . . .

Does this guy watch Yankee games any more?  The patient Yankees, in terms of team concept, are on hiatus.  Jeter, once a fairly patient hitter, is hacking at everything that’s not a pitchout.  Matsui seems to have caught the bug, too.  Melky and Cano, forget it.  Molina, it doesn’t matter becasue he hasn’t had a hit in a month, it feels like, regardless of the count.

And it’s not just a feeling.  As of today the Yankees are 23rd out of 30 teams in drawing walks.  Compare that to 4th in 2007, 3rd in 2006, 3rd in 2005, 2nd in 2004, 1st in 2003, 3rd in 2002. 15th in 2001, and 10th in 2000.

Who on the Yankees is seeing a lot of pitches?

Abreu, yes, at 4.24 pitches per plate appearance is #9 in all of MLB among those with at least 100 plate appearances.

Then . . .

Damon, #41.

Giambi, #78.  (Giambi is “patient to a fault,” let’s not forget.  The 77 guys more patient than Jason are really at fault, apparently.)

Melky, #89.  Actually more patient than I thought.  That horrendous first-pitch swing against Wagner yesterday is still bugging me, I guess.

Matsui, #118.

Cano, #183.

Jeter, #231.    Out of 251.

The truth is, and it’s apparent to anyone who watches the Yankees regularly, that they are not a patient bunch right now.  The poor caller who suggested to Francesa that that might be part of the problem wsa trying to make a valid point — they aren’t that patient, and it’s hurting them, becasue they aren’t getting into other teams’ bullpens are quickly, and the middle bullpen is where most teams are weakest. 

If Francesa actually took the time to find out instead of relying on what he thinks he “knows,” a reasonable discussion might’ve ensued.  And gosh, have a flunky look up some quick numbers (like I just did in about 30 seconds) and talk about how when A-Rod and Posada come back, they’ll see more pitches, how, based on previous years, you’d expect them to move up in getting more walks, etc.  You know, actual reasonable discourse on an interesting topic.

But it’s probably just as well.  I might’ve fainted from the shock.

“Hard” Choices That Aren’t

1.  Just Plain Icky.

Kei Igawa blew up last night, and, aside from not walking people, looked exactly the way he looked last year:  bad.  Three-plus innings, eleven hits, six runs.  The defense didn’t help, but this L is Icky’s.

The hard choice that really isn’t:  No more Igawa.  Try Kennedy, White, Giese, Chase Wright, etc.  Stop feeding us BS about how Igawa is “keeping the ball down.”  It was a bad deal. They happen.  Making a bad deal is one thing, but making a bad deal worse is another.

 

2.  Wasn’t He Torre’s Guy?

Wilson Benemit helped grease the skids for Igawa last night.  Why exactly is Doublemint continuing to eat up a valuable roster spot (the value of which is increased by our insane insistence on carrying THIRTEEN pitchers)?  We already have no bench — Doublemint’s inability to hit right-handed makes his “switch-hitting” laughable and his defense, while not as bad overall as last night, isn’t wonderful.  [Another Girardi head-scratcher:  Starting Benemit against a LH pitcher last night.  Girardi said he did it because Benemit had been “hot.”  I must’ve missed the hot streak.] 

The hard choice that really isn’t:  DFA Benemit and bring up Gonzalez.  Assuming that Gonzalez doesn’t continue to hit (a reasonable bet, admittedly) he at least gives us reliable defense at second, short, and third.   We have plenty of first basemen, so no worries there.

 

3.  Better than Andy Phillips?  Ummmmmm . . .

Shelley Duncan is showing that he should only be used sparingly or situationally.  He’s helpless against any decent RH pitching.   Gets rapidly exposed playing every day and should never hit cleanup unless the oppposing pitcher is a lefty throwing underhand.  Even so, he’d be an upgrade to our non-existnet bench.

The hard choice that really isn’t:  Play Giambi every day at first base.  When he’s hitting he’s fine vs lefties (and he’s starting to hit) and we can live with his defensive limitations most times.  And even when he’s not hitting he gets his walks.

 

4.  Unlucky Thriteen.

Thriteen pitchers?  I personally thought that twelve was ridiculous starting the season, but given the inability of Kennedy and Hughes to give much length, I have to grudgingly concede that we needed seven guys in the pen.

We don’t need eight.

Right now it’s:  Mariano.  Joba.  Farnsworth.  Hawkins.  Veras.  Britton (just replaced Albaladejo, who is now DL’ed).  Ramirez.  Ohlendorf. 

Even with some starters not going deep into games, when are they all going to pitch and get enough work to stay sharp?  Thankfully, Girardi has shown he’s not going to latch onto a guy and grind him into the ground a la Torre (btw, Scott Proctor has already appeared in half of the Dodgers’ games so far), but at some point we need to have a bench!  Remember when he had a pinch-runner type guy for use in the late innings?  A left-handed power bat who might go deep and win a game?  Me neither.

The hard choice that really isn’t:  Stick with twleve pitchers and bring up Brett Gardner or similar Bubba Crosby type to pinch run and play late-inning defense.

The Icky Shuffle; The Small, Sad, World of Mike and Chris

Money Talks, Icky Starts.

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the Yankees again, Kei “Icky” Igawa is starting tonight in Detroit. 

Icky hasn’t been nearly as icky as he was last season with New York . . . in Scranotn he’s 3-3, 3.86. 

Steven White is 3-1, 2.86.  Giese is 2-1, 1.38.  White is on the 40-man roster, Giese isn’t.  So there’s an argument against Giese — you’d have to monkey with the 40-man.

But as for Icky vs. White, this is the point where you get all the “scout talk,” i.e., all the “inside baseball” reasons why Igawa should be getting this start in Detroit over the other guys.  Us dumb fans can’t possibly understand all the complicated reasons why.  And Icky’s recent form in Scranton has been hardly inspiring.  This, from yankees.com:

“Igawa, who has never faced the Tigers, got off to a decent start for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre this season. He was 2-2 with 2.49 ERA in his first four starts, and walked only four batters in 21 2/3 innings.

But the lefty tailed off in his last three starts, going 1-1 and yielding 11 earned runs on 17 hits and eight walks over 18 innings.”

There are good reasons Icky is getting this start.  46 million of them.

 

Hey Guys — Pump This!

 

Apparently, Joba Chamberlain’s fist pump celebration after striking out Dave Dellucci the other night has consumed two Mike and the Mad Dog shows on WFAN.   In the little I heard, it was calls from the usual assortment of irrational Yankee fans, “balanced out” by the long-standing cast of Met fans and Yankee-haters.  Opinion was split along predictable lines.  Mike and Chris of course were all over Joba for two days.

I happened to be listening at just the right time, however.  Joe Girardi was on today for his normal weekly appaearnace, and Joba was topic No. 1.

Girardi summed it up quickly, and neatly, saying, basically:  Joba is showing his emotion.  He is not trying to show anyone else up, even though I can understand why Dellucci might think that.  But Dellucci does not know Joba the way I or his teammates do, and being around this kid every day, I know he’s just expressing his joy, not trying to show up another player.

Mike and Chris meekly moved on, after a weak attempt by Francesa to keep the topic alive.

It was one of the most satisfying moments in what has become in recent months an unlistenable program.  That these two morons consumed two days  on Joba’s fist-pump (and actually had enough phone calls on the topic to keep it alive that long) is very sad indeed.

Bad Moves and Bad Words

Feeling Rather Alone.

 

Last night’s loss I put right on Girardi.   I listened to a little talk radio today and I heard nothing about what I felt was the massive mistake Girardi made.

From the first pitch, it was clear that Joba didn’t have it last night — messing around with curve balls, a ridiculous 3-2 slider to Sizemore, unable to get with Molina on pitch selection, bad body language . . . the whole package.

When Delucci came up, I said two things to iris before Joba threw a pitch to him:

1.  Dellucci gets a hit here  . . . I don’t even have to watch.

2.  I hated when Torre used Mariano for all those 4- and 5-out saves, but if there ever was a time for it, this was it..

It was one of those times I wish I’d been wrong.

I can’t have been the only one who saw how off his game Joba was last night.  Girardi, the Man-Genius of baseball, didn’t see it?

Last night was a game that Torre never loses.  I guess they all even out in the long run, but so far Girardi isn’t as smart as everyone was hyping him to be.

 

Spin Doctors Concert In The Booth.

 

After the crushing Dellucci home ruin last night, Michael Kay and David Cone were in a mad rush to spin things Joba’s way.

“Not a bad pitch Delluci hit.”

“That was 96, up and in.  Great hitting by Dellucci”

Guys, please.  Trying to make it sound like the ball was at Delucci’s chin and he somehow hit it out.  It was somewhat up, but not really in at all . . . a major league hitter, looking fastball, handles that pitch, often.  Not to mention that Joba got away with a cookie to Garko just before Dellucci’s “great hitting.”  And even though he masqueraded as a major league hitter during his time with the Yankees, Dellucci has shown in the rest of his MLB stops that he can be a decent hitter, potentially dangerous in Yankee Stadium.

It was embarrassing, honestly.  But embarrassing is a specialty of YES broadcasts.

 

Wrong Again.

 

Gonzalez was sent to AAA and Ensberg was kept with the Yankees.  Poor decision . . . I am hoping that it was a technicality/options kind of thing, but the YES folks talking about what a tough call it was for Girardi lead me to believe otherwise.

It should not have been a tough call.  Gonzalez plays great defense and actually hit when he was with the big club, something Automatic Outberg hasn’t managed yet.

Rain Check . . . Please?

Not Enough Rain, Not Soon Enough.

I was at last night’s dreary 8-4 loss to Detroit.  I don’t know if it’s the effects of all that time on the road with no daytime gateway games, or the injuries, or what, but this team is lifeless, and, like last year’s team (and 2006’s, now that I think of it), usually can’t take a punch.

It couldn’t have started out better.  Kennedy goes through the first on less than 15 pitches, three fly outs to center.  Bottom 1, we’re up 3-0:  Walk, single, and a blast by Abreu that left the park in a flash.  The crowd of 50,998 (reality check:  50,998 tickets sold;  actual crowd I’m guessing was in the upper 30s) was going nuts.

 Around the second inning it starts to drizzle . . . Kennedy looks all right, still.  Robertson’s settled down.  I’m thinking maybe we get through the top of the 5th with this lead, the sky opens up, and I can high-tail it back to Connecticut at a decent hour.

 But no.

 Top 3.  Pop out.  Double.  Wild Pitch.  Ground out.  3-1.  I’m thinking OK, this isn’t so bad . . . Kennedy wasn’t going to pitch a shutout, after all.  Of course the “double” was a single misplayed by Damon, but still, it’s OK.  Two outs, none on.  We got this.

Double.

Walk.

Double.  Tie game.  It’s not OK anymore.

Triple.  4-3 Tigers.  On a ball that Abreu really should catch.  But of course, what’s the ball doing 380 feet from home plate?  Plenty of blame to go around.

Ground out.  Inning over.  30-something pitches later.  The Tigers are pumped, we’re dead, it’s dirzzling harder, and the whole tenor of the game has changed.

We go 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, showing our usual bulldog tenacity.

But it’s OK, still.  One-run game.  Kennedy settles in the fourth, getting the Tigers in order.  One run game.  We got this.

Top 5.  Kennedy pitches himself into trouble after getting the first two outs.  Albaladejo comes in and strikes out Cabrera. 

Still 4-3.  We got this.  I think.

Bottom 5, we tie it on a single by cleanup hitter (?) Shelley Duncan.  The inning ends on a great play on a ball hit up the middle by Melky.  No replay was shown in the park, but I could’ve sworn Duncan was safe at second . . . Girardi never came out to argue so I guess it was a good call.

Still.  We tied it!  The crowd’s back in it!  We got this!

Top 6.  Albaladejo back out there. 

Single.  Double.  Second and thrid no outs.  Only poor baserunning by Guillen keeps it a tie game.   Both hits were scalded.  I’m not so sure we still got this.

Fly to shallow left.  No advance.  OK.

Triple.  Hit harder than the frist two hits.  6-4.

We no longer got this. 

Bottom 6 we load the bases, two pitching changes later.  Abreu up and works the count to 3-1.  He hits it fairly hard but it’s right at Granderson.  That was our last sniff at it.

Top 7, Girardi makes another one of his head-scratching moves, and brings Albaladejo out there to start the 7th!  It was still a 2-run game at that point — did he pull a Torre and nap through the last inning where Albaladejo game up three rockets? 

Flyout.  Single.  Home run.  8-4.  Now Girardi pulls Albaladejo and brings in Chris Britton.  Apparently Britton isn’t good enough to pitch in a 6-4 game but in a 8-4 game he’s just fine to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings.  As if it mattered anyway.  We weren’t scoring four runs, or two, or even one.

[At least Britton finally got into a game.  Why the organzation has continually passed this guy over in favor of ineffective guys, time after time since he came here, is beyond me.  I’m not saying the Britton isn’t going to have his bad outings, but he’s pitched well in AAA consistently and everyone else, under Torre last year, and under Girardi this year, keeps getting called up before him.  Maybe he gets a reasonable shot now with the big club.]

The crowd of “50,998” started to thin after Abreu’s line-out to end the 6th.  The Cabrera homer to make it 8-4 got the MTA on the phone to start the extra 4 trains going, and after an uneventful bottom of the seventh I doubt more than 15,000 remained.

Bottom 8, Cano singles leading off and gets to second on a bobble.  (Note to Michael Kay:  Cano is now “1 for his last 1.”)  Maybe?  Maybe we could come up with late-inning magic?  Just this once? 

Ummm . . . no.  Ground out, ground out, ground out.  A look around the stadium shows perhaps 6-8,000, tops.  I see a broom fall from the upper deck.  Then another one.

Bottom 9.  It’s me and 228 Tigers fans left.  Leadoff walk.

Hey . . . RALLY TIME!

WE GOT THIS!

Force play.  Ground out.  Line out.

The cold drizzle, which had relented for a couple of innings, starts up again.

It gets late early. 

Start spreadin’ the news.

 

 

 

Just Moved In

New Digs.

I was doing this blog over on blogger . . . I hadn’t realized that MLB blogs are now free.  Hopefully there will be more readership over here.

A real post soon . . .

 

–Lenora