- Faith-based failure:
Far be it from me to question any and all declarations, especially those stated with a finality and expertise that can only be granted on the select few who have the interpretive gifts to analyze and verbal skill to express them, but could it be that Michael Kay, was wr-wr-wr-wrong when he unequivocally declared the ALCS "over" after game 1?
If this is true, what are we to do?
What will we believe in?
Who will we turn to as the conduit for our collective baseball faiths if someone such as Michael Kay was inaccurate?
I use the "wr-wr-wr-wrong" reference in memory of Arthur Fonzarelli----Fonzie from Happy Days----the coolest of the cool of the 1970s; now, our totem for coolness----Michael Kay----is teetering from his lofty perch.
And it's all the Yankees fault.
The longer this ALCS goes, the more the foundation of everything we held true prior to last night comes crumbling down; the more the Yankees appear increasingly vulnerable to a younger and possibly stronger and faster team, the shattering of our deities grows irreparable.
What will we do?
The series was over after game 1.
Kay said so.
Didn't the Rangers see the YES post-game show?
Are they so disrespectful, immersed in the headiness of youth; seemingly not knowing any better; led by the ruthless, efficient and brutal Stone Cold Killer, Cliff Lee that they don't realize that they're supposed to bow to the edicts of their betters?
Of course I'm kidding. Sort of.
Anyone who takes anything Kay says seriously should be taken to a re-education camp immediately to teach them the true nature of the Force.
Does Kay realize this? Is he in denial and seeking a way to blame Joe Torre?
I have nothing against the Yankees personally, but admittedly, it is a pleasurable experience to see the stupefied looks on the faces of Kay and Mike Francesa when they're beaten----and contrary to self-justifying semantics, it wouldn't be the Yankees losing; it would be the Rangers winning.
What they lack in baseball knowledge, they're apparently lacking in memory as well. Do they recall 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007? Each year the Yankees were favored to dispatch "lesser" teams; each time they found a new and creative way to lose. But it's happening again this year. The pomposity in the apologists/open rooters for the home team is coming home to roost.That alone is reason to root for the Rangers.
The Yankees are in trouble here.
A lot of trouble.
They've been outplayed; outhustled; outpitched; outmanned; and outgunned.
Because the Rangers didn't fold at the hands of the relentlessness of the Yankees patience and power after that devastating loss in game 1, it was important for the Yankees to maintain control by either putting an exclamation point on their comeback win in game 1 by winning game 2; or by beating the Killer in game 3.
They did neither.
Now, panic is setting in with the fan base as A.J. Burnett takes the mound for an all-important game 4 that, make no mistake, the Yankees must win. Contrary to ESPN's cryptic headline of the Yankees "using Burnett on the mound" without specifying what they'd be using him for, he's going to pitch. I think.
Which Burnett will show up?
While not as much of a predictable disaster as an Oliver Perez would be, Burnett was awful for most of this season. On the bright side for the Yankees, he's pitched very well against the Rangers this year and was mostly reliable in the playoffs last year. I think he's going to pitch well, but he's not getting any rope whatsoever; the Yankees can't risk the Rangers putting up a 4-spot in the first inning to take the crowd out of the game and bolster the Rangers soaring confidence.
Dustin Moseley will be ready to go almost immediately because he'll be told to stay ready. The Yankees can't mess around here.
I said before the series when I picked the Yankees in six that they'd better get it over with in six; if it goes to seven, they're going to lose; and unless they win tonight the best case scenario of a seventh game is what they'll be banking on. It's the "Mike Scott/Orel Hershiser-syndromes" that afflicted the 1986/1988 Mets. They avoided Scott in '86 and won; they were singlehandedly slaughtered by Hershiser in '88.
If the Yankees and their fans had reason to hate Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik before because of his shady dealings in pulling out a supposedly agreed upon deal to send Lee to the Yankees only to trade him to the Rangers, their rancor has a concrete basis now; it's not just that they don't have Lee; it's that Lee is on the team that may be on the verge of eliminating them.
Hovering on the horizon like dark, ominous storm clouds foreshadowing doom, the looming presence of the Killer haunts over the Yankees.
This is what confronts them.
And they know it.
- Managerization Part III:
Two more managerial spots have been filled (and they were never literally open). Let's have a look at how this affects things.
Tony La Russa re-signs with the Cardinals for one year:
There was a chance----albeit slight----that La Russa would leave. The Cardinals were well-equipped to win this year and didn't; it's going to take some digging to find out why.
With two aces in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, plus young Jaime Garcia in the starting rotation; with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday in the lineup; and La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, there's no excuse for the mediocrity they exhibited over the last five months of the season after an 18-8 start.
It makes sense for La Russa to stay. Pujols's and Carpenter's contracts are up after next year and if they're going to make one final run with this veteran core, they have to do it in 2011; the best chance they have to win is with La Russa and Duncan despite any disagreements the field staff has with the front office.
Cubs hire Mike Quade:
Quade impressed everyone with his discipline and leadership after taking over for Lou Piniella when Piniella resigned. It wasn't simply that Carlos Zambrano pitched like the "good" Zambrano over the last month; nor was it the 24-13 record Quade accrued as manager. It was his punishment of young shortstop Starlin Castro for his inexplicable baserunning gaffe against the Mets on September 5th that set the tone for him as manager.
Castro forgot how many outs there were in the seventh inning of a blowout loss to the Mets and got doubled off of first base. For this, Quade benched Castro for two games. In certain venues, such a decision wouldn't have happened because of factors varying from front office interference to fan complaints that they want to see the young prospect play.
That one decision set the tone for Quade and the Cubs that such glaring mishaps would not be tolerated and that, as much as anything, got him the full-time job.
What this decision does is remove the option of leaving the Yankees from manager Joe Girardi. It's hard to imagine Girardi leaving anyway, but he openly toyed with the idea of returning to his hometown and the club with whom he broke into the big leagues.
My feeling is that it was a negotiating ploy with the Yankees that probably wouldn't have worked. The Yankees want to keep Girardi, but they're not going to break the bank to do it; nor are they going to alter their power structure to give Girardi more say-so. Had negotiations hit a snag, the Yankees would've wished Girardi luck and moved in another direction. Whether Girardi----a highly intelligent man----realizes this or was blinded by his success as Yankees manager is unknown.
In order to be threatened, an entity must be threatenable; the Yankees were not threatenable in this case.
The Cubs hammer----which wasn't much of a hammer at all----is out of the toolbox. Girardi's not leaving.