Feeling Un-

I was due for a break, honestly. Blogging for a few weeks straight, sometimes several times and items per day, has been a bit of work especially during a thoroughly dismal stretch the Yankees have had. When I had the chance to take a few days off and get away, especially with the off day tonight and two lackluster games against the Royals, let’s just say that I didn’t feel an overwhelming urgency to write a new post. Even with a new one, the prevailing concern I have had is that I will end up regurgitating the same details of more recent woes that I and others have repeatedly done this season. The team simply hasn’t warranted one before Sunday’s blowout win, leaving me unimpressed, recently uninspired and, admittedly, somewhat unenthusiastic.

In no small part the Olympics generally and the exploits of Michael Phelps, the rest of the American and world swimmers, and Bolt especially have easily overshadowed the same old nonsense from the 2008 Yankees. Bolt was not smart for lowering his arms and in all likelihood slowing himself down, perhaps up to one-tenth of a second. As a fan who loves that level of superior achievement, I’d rather have seen him tear it up to the finish to present something at 9.6 or lower and present all other sprinters something daunting to match for a couple years. Then again, considering how fast he was going, he must have felt as if he were flying. I would have loved to see him keep going and run a full 200 at that speed. In celebration as it turned out, he nearly did. Phelps was ridiculously amazing, doing something, dominating, and swimming in legendary individual and relay races that we may never see again in our lifetimes.

Not to be overlooked, the USA basketball team is no slouch right now either. I can’t ignore the hoops, about which I know more than baseball and which is really my first sports love–no disrespect to our Yankees and “The Game.” They’re playing with a focus and purpose that made pool play look easy when it was anything but. It was certainly the tougher draw, and the US won their five games by an average of 32.2 PPG, trouncing Greece by 23 and annihilating Spain by 37. The US is easily the team to beat, and big-time kudos not just to a group of players gelling quickly but especially to Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the US coaching staff–Mike D’Antoni, Jim Boeheim, and Nate McMillan. Not to be overlooked, this is a young US men’s team and, though with some experience, without some international experience. Only one player, Kidd (35), is over 30. Kobe is 29 (though playing professionally since a teenager) and all else except Prince and Redd (28 each) are 26 and younger. I love that. They’re aggressive, athletic, very quick, skilled and well-rounded, and hungry. I can’t say enough about how well Kobe is playing and how his well-rounded skills set emerges when playing not only with other excellent players but also other finishers, other unselfish players, other quick, smart, aggressive defenders. Kobe has been great, LeBron and Dwayne Wade have been stellar, Bosh is excellent and underrated, Deron Williams impresses me a ton and I got to see a lot of him from college into the pros. When Carmelo hits from 3, forget it. But Australia will not be a pushover by any means. They’ll want to play a half-court game, may sacrifice some offensive rebounding aggressiveness to slow the game down and, with Bogut back, they’ll have a versatile big man who can take the ball to the basket, can pass over overplaying American defenders and, if the US can’t cut off penetration and/or gets Howard and/or Bosh in foul trouble, they may get outsized. LeBron can defend forwards on the perimeter better than on the blocks because he’s a big 2 (shooting guard) or a pretty big 3 (small forward), but may struggle if he has to give up a few inches. The US must continue to shoot well. I say double-team Bogut without slacking off the good shooters, prevent point guard penetration, and play with an anger for struggling with Australia in exhibition play.

Amidst all this, I did not forget certain recent Yankee accomplishments. Great to see Jeter 12 for his last 19 with 4 runs and 2 RBIs–no XBH–with 2 stolen bases. I’ll be very excited to see Jeter get his 2,500th hit. By the way, for all his struggles this year, Jeter leads the team with 138 hits. Great to see A-Rod within 2 homers of Mike Schmidt, who is at 12th on the all-time home run list. Good to see the kid Gardner deliver the game-winning hit Saturday. Good to see Cano with three straight two-hit games. Good to see Nady contributing so well in pinstripes. Good to see Mussina git his 16th win of the year, and I’m rooting hard for him to reach 20 this year. It would be his first time ever and he certainly deserves it, for this year and his career.

That said and in the grand scheme of things, my feeling on the whole was what would covering another ninth-inning failure Friday have contributed to the knowledge and discourse of the team? From me, little other than recounting prior, similar horrors and perhaps generating some inventive if untoward invectives describing the Yankees’ play. Saturday’s win was necessary and Sunday’s showed some long-awaited, long-overdue firepower but what more than a deserving nod at this point do these events merit?

Not much at this point. With 38 games to play, the Yankees are 10 back in the East and 5 1/2 behind Boston for the Wild Card. The Yankees have struggled so badly the few couple weeks–8-13 in their last 21 games, 5-9 in their last 14–that Toronto is only two games behind the Yankees in the East and Wild Card. What separates the Yankees from the ultimate barometer of mediocrity in sports, the .500 mark? That eight-game winning streak that the previously and subsequently somnambulant Yankees had immediately after the All-Star break. That’s it. Other than that, the Yankees are a .500 team, no more and no less. During the 8-13 stretch, the Yankees have scored four or fewer runs in 10 of the games (practically half), losing eight of them.

Blowout wins with the 2008 Yankees leave me far from encouraged, though I naturally take them when they occur. Why do they not inspire much in me? Because they’ve not been harbingers of the painfully necessary rally the Yankees need to mount not for a few innings of spasmodic productivity, but for a few weeks of cranking baseball with all facets–pitching, hitting especially in the clutch, and defense–consistently contributing. That’s just not happened much and, to reiterate, blowouts such as the 15-6 win yesterday, while nice, haven’t brought prolonged good tidings for the team. On June 25, the Yankees beat the Pirates 10-0 and, two days later, shut out the Mets 9-0. The Yankees then scored 7 runs the next four games, losing three straight by a total of four runs. After then blowing out Texas 18-7, the Yanks then lost two straight (and were shut out the next day after scoring eighteen) to Boston before rebounding to go 5-5 in all into the break, scoring only 30 runs in those ten and fewer than four runs seven times. After beating Baltimore 13-3 on July 30 the Yankees lost twice to the Angels, shut out once. After scoring 22 runs in two weekend wins against the Angels, the Yankees required ten games to score 42 more, losing seven of them this recent road swing. So forgive me for not being overwhelmed at the prospects of a big offensive resurgence after the Yankees pasted the Royals 15-6. If it happens, great. I’m not counting on it.

The series against Toronto is a make-or-break series as far as I’m concerned. If the Yankees have any positives the last 38 games–and there aren’t many considering the team hasn’t shown up much lately–they have the chance to gain games directly. New York plays Boston and Tampa six times apiece. 27 of the remaining 38 games are against the AL East with the other eleven at the Angels (3), Mariners (3), and Detroit (1, make-up for the May 11 rain out), and home against Chicago for four. Now’s the time for their very best baseball for as long a stretch as they can muster. The East is almost impossible to reach, but the Wild Card is possible, though losing two of three in Minnesota hurt a lot.

I was glad to see Melky sent to SWB. Good, and long overdue. “The three words that best describe you are as follows and I quote, ‘stink, stank, stunk!'”–“How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” I’m done with Melky. So long, Richie Sexson. Low-risk, low-reward, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .250/.371; .277 vs. LHP for the Yankees/.344 for Seattle. Not awful, but not worth keeping around when not playing much or lights out when he did. I don’t mind letting Gardner get another shot by any means. Let him learn to hit major-leaguers and put him in pressure situations. Give him a chance and a little latitude to succeed. He only has 73 at-bats and only 14 hits, but 9 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. He’ll get better and look out if he gets better body torque to acquire gap power, for his speed will create triples. Mike Sommer can tell you that in his sleep. Billy Traber doesn’t impress me at all, but I like the move to use him a bit if only because he can eat a couple innings and, at least as important, sends the message to Marte that 0-2, 11.08 ERA doesn’t cut it, and a talented but struggling newcomer is far from above sitting.

I intend to tune in to the next three games but posts will likely be sporadic until Friday. I had functions for GLG’s school the last two nights, have lots of dissertation and article writing to do, and I’m cleaning out the garage for a weekend sale. I have lots on my plate. The Yankees need, but will be lucky, to take two of three in Toronto with Burnett (15-9, 4.67 ERA) going tomorrow and Halliday (14-9, 2.64 ERA) Thursday.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 11:55 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi. I didn’t get to read your whole post because I have to go to a group now. I’ll read it again and post more about it later. I can’t believe Bolt did that. He could of ran that race in 9.4 if he didn’t put his arms up and start celebrating. Not sure about 9.4 but a lot faster than what he did. Phelps is amazing. He won every way imaginable. Close races and blow outs. That’s a true champion. Be back later.

  2. another great olympic story unfolding is our mens volleyball team– they are playing at the top of their game and so far are the only undefeated team…great stuff

  3. wedbwlcdnjwm xdnw vdxbgh;jaMKSJXDNBV WQXDNQ;La,.x/

  4. After Tuesday night’s loss, the Yanks are 1 game up on fourth place Toronto…and the Doc is waiting on Thursday.

    Cue Jim Mora “Playoffs? You’re talking about Playoffs? Playoffs?”

    The question now is, do they come out of Toronto in third place, or fourth?

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