Friday, August 29, 2008

Yankees Show Some Fight, But Is It Too Late?

  • Yankees 3-Red Sox 2; "A little fight in you. I like that."
The Yankees and their defiant veterans in Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi showed some
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fight (see the above quote from the Joker in The Dark Knight), but they may have just given themselves a stay of execution and, trust me when I say this because I speak from experience, it's going to be more painful for Yankee fans if this thing is prolonged any further than it has to be.
As I said the other day, I don't believe the Yankees are dead as other hypocritical voices have suggested, but it's got to be put into context what they're going to have to do to get back to even having a chance at making the playoffs as the games dwindle. They have three games with the Blue Jays, a team which (if taking on the personality of their GM, J.P. Ricciardi) would like nothing better than to drag the Yankees down into the muck of mediocrity in which they wallow; in two of those three games, they're facing A.J. Burnett, singing for his soon-to-be-free agent supper; and Roy Halladay, a relentless competitor going for a second Cy Young Award.
After that they play the Rays for the start of six games against the upstart youngsters over the final month. They'll play the White Sox, fighting for a playoff spot of their own and also in front of the Yankees in the Wild Card race; the fading Orioles; the Blue Jays again and the Red Sox for the final three games of the season which are, at this point, unlikely to mean anything to either team. Unless the Yankees take those six games with the Rays and put them in their place, they're not going to be able to even come close to the Wild Card and one way or the other, as long as their using the likes of Darrell Rasner and Carl Pavano as
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starters, they can pretty much forget about the division.
Being three games behind the Twins and five behind the White Sox doesn't help matters either. The Red Sox and Rays will be playing each other six times over the next month, but that advantage for the Yankees will be non-existent because it's unlikely to cause any change in the separation between the two teams and the only way it would possibly help the Yankees would be if they won at least 22 of their remaining games and if any two of the four teams ahead of them collapsed completely, which is highly unlikely.
While it's admirable that the Yankees haven't looked at their current circumstances; that because Hank Steinbrenner has given them a free pass to look toward 2009; and the weak starting pitching that they've been forced to use three out of every five days as reasons to give up, their predicament is dire and no amount of comeback wins----even satisfying ones against the Red Sox----are going to change that reality.
  • Cubs 6-Phillies 4:
With the way the Phillies bullpen gacked up the game last night against the Cubs, it's becoming clear that manager Charlie Manuel's overuse of his relievers, most of whom are
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going to have to pitch in around 80 games apiece if the Phillies are going to make the playoffs, is going to come back to haunt him. With a month to go in the season, Chad Durbin looks exhausted; J.C. Romero looks hurt; and the other pitchers are scuffling as well. This battle with the Mets is going to come down to which bullpen is able to stagger to the finish line because neither team is in the greatest shape right now.
On the bright side for the Phillies, they lost to a team that looks eerily similar to the 1986 Mets. The Cubs are never out of any game because they never stop coming; never give up; and never quit grinding. This comes
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directly from their manager, Lou Piniella. Mark DeRosa has quietly thrust himself into the conversation for National League MVP and they've gotten significant contributions from veterans picked up off the scrapheap in Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson; youngsters like Jeff Samardzija; and players in different roles than before in Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster.
Their bullpen is still going to be a question going into the playoffs, but they've delivered so far and Piniella has a habit of dragging his teams further than any logical reasoning would expect them to go. One of the main reasons that Piniella never won a championship with some high-powered Mariners teams was because they kept running into the Yankees dynasty and getting knocked out of the playoffs; with no similar team in the National League, they're well on their way to the World Series if they keep playing like this.
  • Nationals 11-Dodgers 2; what's wrong with the Dodgers?
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti deserves blame for some of his expensive decisions that haven't
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worked----specifically Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt (remember him?); but the other veteran acquisitions he's made over the past month for Casey Blake, Manny Ramirez and Greg Maddux cannot be questioned. In Joe Torre, they have a manager with a Hall of Fame resume and proven track record of getting his teams into the playoffs no matter what; they have a large corps of young players whose legs should still be as fresh as they were in May; and they have other proven veterans like Jeff Kent and Derek Lowe who come through in the clutch; so what's wrong with this team?
I don't have an answer. The team looks lost; like they can't get out of their own way and are looking toward someone to pick them up on his shoulders and carry them over the last month. Even with all their injuries, the Dodgers should be better than 65-69 and if they intend to make the playoffs, they certainly can't be getting swept by the Washington
They've been lucky because the Diamondbacks made big trades and acquisitions of their
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own and can't seem to get out of their own way either, so the division is there for the taking. Ordinarily, one would look at the management of both clubs and say that the Dodgers have an advantage with the calm, steady and proven successful leadership of Torre; but now that they've lost seven in a row (including those three to the Nationals), I'm not so sure and what makes it worse is that there's not one specific thing to point to as to why they've played like this other than that they're just playing badly and as if they're in a stupor. Torre's getting the big bucks and his reputation is on the line; he'd better figure it out and quick.
  • A different perspective on Barack Obama's acceptance speech:
I doubt that anyone who's been paying attention to Senator Barack Obama over the past year and a half could be surprised that he hit such a tape measure home run with his speech
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accepting the Democratic nomination, but to get a different perspective and to see if he was given his due, I turned to Fox News to see what they'd say about the speech and if they were going to give Obama the deserved credit, and they did----for about a minute----until Brit Hume clumsily interjected Obama's full name into his analysis.
Referring to Obama as "Barack Hussein Obama" wasn't an accident; it was done with the implication to those watching Fox News, some of whom may be teetering on voting for Obama, that they shouldn't vote for him because his name sounds somehow "un-American"; that he has the middle name of a great "enemy" of the United States; that the unsaid rhetorical question is: "Are you really considering voting for a guy whose middle name is Hussein to be president of the United States?"
Will this work on some people? Probably. But I would also think that those who see
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through this poorly executed charade would be offended at the lack of dexterity with which it was done. Some people like a little sweet talk when someone else is trying to screw them even if they're willing to get screwed; with the way Fox News handled this, it's almost more offensive than the original intent that they think so little of their viewers----conservative and not----that they didn't even try to mask their implications more smoothly.
Like it or not, there has to be a grudging respect given to someone who is so immersed in their scams and lies that they begin to believe their own crud. For a snake-oil salesman like Kevin Trudeau, who's gone from convicted credit card thief and doctor impersonator; to a TV salesman of junk that doesn't work; to
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portraying himself as a leading "consumer advocate" and health adviser is a window into Trudeau's sociopathic nature; but it's also somewhat admirable that he's such a predator that he realized he might get busted and prevented from one venture (selling coral calcium as a cure all; advocating Scientology to cure drug dependancy; hawking the Atkins diet; selling a videotape for a "business" of your very own) and utilized his right to free speech to start writing books about nutrition, medications and getting out of debt. You have to tip your hat to him because he knows the system; works the system; and has a large number of people believing and buying into what he's selling.
It's a similar situation with a "spiritual medium" like John Edward (not the disgraced former Vice Presidential nominee, the guy who "talks" to the dead). His argument would be (if he
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ever admitted what it is he actually does) that he's using his skills at reading people's emotions and desire for closure with departed loved ones to make them feel better about their loss and get on with their lives. His scam is so well-constructed that people believe him despite the absurdity because he, like Trudeau, never leaves character. (Here's a flash: he ain't talkin' to the dead!!!) With Fox News, there's not even an attempt to make things look "fair and balanced"; the truth is right there for those that want to see it.
This is eerily similar to the ruse put on the world that the Russian prime minister is Vladimir Putin and the president in Dmitry Medvedev and that Medvedev is in charge. When the Georgia crisis started, no one even bothered to put forth the idea that anyone other than Putin was calling the shots; that there was a "president" in running Russia as the conflict escalated; that it's unsaid but understood that Putin's still in command and Medvedev takes his orders directly from his subordinate. They tried to undo the open and insulting revelation of the ruse after a few days by thrusting Medvedev into the spotlight, but the damage was already done.
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It's one thing when the true nature of the backroom operators is known to everyone but unsaid with some plausible deniability still remaining, but the openness of the partisanship is so clumsy, so lacking in deftness and so offensive that it's not even worthy or grudging respect; it's like they're saying that you the target viewers of Fox News are so stupid that it's not worth it to even bother trying to plant the seed of doubt anywhere other than in the middle of your forehead with a sledgehammer. If such a maladroit and contemptible attempt is worth any attention at all, it's because it deserves ridicule and scorn. Barack Hussein Obama indeed.

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