Monday, October 18, 2010

Walk The Line

  • The Yankees are playing a dangerous game of chicken:

Losing game 2 to the Rangers has put the Yankees in a very dicey situation.

I doubt a team as veteran-laden and battle-tested as the Yankees are quivering in their spikes at the thought of facing Cliff Lee----he's not Superman and they have a proven, gutty post-season commodity of their own pitching tonight in Andy Pettitte----but it has to be a concern that they're facing Lee and reiterating their intention to start A.J. Burnett in game 4.*

*Am I alone in finding the headline regarding Burnett hilarious?

Yanks to use Burnett on the mound in Game 4

What they're using him for is unspecified and open to any number of possibilities as an alternative to pitching.

Since they've made clear their intention to pitch Burnett, are the Yankees going to feel a quiet pressure to win tonight to avert a make-or-break game 4 with a pitcher who hasn't been reliable for anything other than inconsistency (to be kind) this season? And will that affect their approach? Their sense of desperation?

It's not as if they're facing a big time post-season starter themselves in game 4 as the Rangers are starting Tommy Hunter. Hunter had a good year (13-4, 3.73), but he's a contact pitcher who gives up a lot of home runs and he's only 24. He's going to feel the pressure of pitching at Yankee Stadium in the ALCS.

I'm on the record with repeatedly saying that the Yankees should start C.C. Sabathia in game 4 over Burnett; if it were up to me, the only way Burnett would've gotten the opportunity to pitch is with a 3-0 Yankees lead in the series; aside from that, no way. Add in that Sabathia would be perfectly willing to go on short rest and that, in retrospect, it was fortunate in the rest-sense that he got knocked out of game 1 after 93 pitches and could pitch on short rest without being overly taxed or compromised.

Burnett will be on a short leash tomorrow whether the Yankees win or lose game 3; given his stuff and Jekyll and Hyde performance history, there's a good possibility that he'll show up and pitch a gem; but his atrocious simulated game last week in which he drilled two teammates doesn't bode well; expectations aren't tempered with Burnett----they're non-existent.

In a storyline/ironic sense, it'd fit in perfectly with a tale of redemption if he pitched well and saved the season and in three starts in 2010, he has pitched well against the Rangers.

But this is reality.

The Rangers can hit.

And Burnett hasn't pitched in a live game since October 2nd; and he hasn't been good since September 17th.

All of that adds up to a giant question mark for the Yankees; a quiet pull-aside with Dustin Moseley to stay ready; and the potential of being down 3 games to 1 with the looming presence of the Stone Cold Killer ready to go for the Rangers on full rest in a game 7 if the Yankees manage to get it that far.

Their go-for-broke strategy worked last year, but the more firefights one is in, eventually they're going to get hit and killed.

They're all in now.

  • Objectivity and information:

Positives and negatives are inherent in the way I do that which I do. (Whatever that is.)

On the positive end, I can say and do whatever I want without someone standing over my shoulder and trying to create a splashy headline while it may not be applicable to what I wrote; nor do I have to worry about how the subject is going to react to what I've said and decide not to be cooperative the next time I need to speak with him. (In the case of Oliver Perez, would that necessarily be a bad thing?)

In a negative sense, there are things the reporters who cover their subjects can acquire that I can't because I'm not in contact with people on the inside. I think it's a fertile ground for undue influence when good and/or bad things are said about an individual. I go by the Bob Gibson school of thought on why he refused to interact with opposing players: "I might like them; then I might not want to throw at them."

As cold as I can be; as much pride as I take in turning to stone when appropriate, even I would be affected by liking or disliking someone; of having empathy, if not overt sympathy for their circumstances.

It's better this way.

The whole point of this is a back-and-forth I had with Steve Popper of The Bergen Record last night on Twitter. Like Adam Rubin, Popper disarmed me by coming at me in the most advisable way----with reason and humor. Unlike Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman, neither man has blocked me.

I respect that.

I repeated my reservations regarding Sandy Alderson as Mets GM (stated in my posting here); Popper said he's heard from numerous sources regarding Alderson's leadership and all are positive; he also asked me if I'd spoken to anyone concerning the perception he got from my posting that Alderson participated in "backstabbing".

That's what I need to address.

I didn't speak to anyone regarding these allegations----implied or real. I did gather my conclusions from newspapers, websites and from extrapolation/interpretation on the decisions that were made and from recorded statements and actions by the participants.

There's a difference between overt sedition and working within the parameters set by the boss to work effectively within the structure by looking out for self-interest. By the end of Alderson's tenure with the Padres, as the world was crashing around them, the structure was fragmented. Backstabbing and fomenting discord to maintain command over all sides are different things.

And it's one of my questions about Alderson's leadership.

The Mets absolutely, positively need someone to step in and run the show without the hint of players going over the manager's and even the general manager's head to complain to ownership. This was one of the problems with the hierarchy prior to Omar Minaya's arrival----there was this idea that John Franco, Al Leiter and Tom Glavine were using their pipeline to Jeff Wilpon to get undesirables like Scott Kazmir out of town.

Accurate or not, fair or not, that was the prevailing belief.

Even as the Mets turned things around and won, this continued with Tony Bernazard openly undermining manager Willie Randolph and nurturing a cozy relationship with Wilpon and Minaya that made them too blind to see how terribly Bernazard was viewed around baseball.

Whoever is named GM, this cannot happen; and it won't under Alderson. If he's able to answer the questions adequately as to what happened in San Diego and intends to behave as the solid leader his supporters suggest, he has my support.

Whether that will be the case remains to be seen.

For another take on Alderson, Mike Silva wrote the following on his site, NYBD----link.

I'm beginning research on a career dissection----similar to that of Alderson----for my choice as Mets GM, Josh Byrnes; it should be up in the coming days.

  • Viewer Mail 10.18.2010:

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE the Mets and Mike Francesa:

Wilpon the Younger; does he feel his grip on this team slipping though his fingers or will he be out to re-affirm his position as Lil' Jeff, COO of Mets R Us? We shall see.
Francesa's Time Machine is a Pink Cadillac, remember(1986)? I ain't gonna blow up your page > Think politics, dictators; absolutism... business; monopolies, WWE, etc etc, ~ Point is the vices of Consolidation of Power. Mike, at least with Mad Dog was supplied with stimulus to respond to. Mike solo, is one, consolidated, old, stale, singular minded, unchecked, unbalanced, unchallenged, constant stream of dead thought.
Kay makes my ears bleed.

As much as Jeff is lambasted, I still hold to the premise that it's his team; he owns it and has a right to have a say. He can't allow personalities and friendships influence him to interfere with baseball operations, but to say that he has no business even around the team? I wouldn't accept that for something that I owned either.

I do remember the Pink Cadillac thing----that's when the Yankees were likable.

No one who remembers the Mike and the Mad Dog Show----like them personally or not----will dispute the fact that they were a thousand times better together than they'll ever be apart. It's a shame that they ended the successful partnership.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the David Wells/Kid Rock interview:

I agree about David Wells' interview with Kid Rock! Can't they figure out some other way to fill the time? What a waste. My burning question about the NLCS and Brian Wilson is a different one than yours: Is his beard real? He looks like one of the Smith Brothers on the box of cough drops.

The interview was bottom line ridiculous.

I couldn't find a good picture of Wilson with his beard, but after looking at the Smith Brothers cough drops, I think you're right!!! And I burst out laughing when I read that.

I was a guest with Sal at SportsFan Buzz on Friday talking about the LCS and managerial machinations. Click here for Sal's site or here to listen directly.

The Dark Side is most seductive...

1 comment:

She-Fan said...

That ESPN headline about Burnett is very funny! I think the result of tonight's game will determine who starts Game 4. I still think it'll be AJ, but we'll see.