Wednesday, October 12, 2005



This may be something that you suspected all along... because it's been clear that either Satan loves the Yankees, or Jesus hates the Yankees.

If anyone wants to buy me one, I'll take a 2X.

As for the Yankees loss to the Angels, let's look at the superior performance put in by the woefully underpaid Alex Rodriguez, who managed two hits and no runs batted in against the AL West champions. I looked up Rodriguez's postseason experience prior to this series, and it's generally good, but I have to tell you that I remember one particularly noteworthy episode that says it all about the player the Yankees thought would bring them the world. It was the 2000 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Mariners. Roger Clemens still pitched for the Yankees; Rodriguez was playing out his string with Seattle. Rodriguez stepped to the plate for his first AB of the game versus the Rocket, who promptly handed the young star a bowtie. After that high and tight pitch, A-Rod took the collar for the day and the Mariners submitted meekly to Clemens. Ultimately, the Mariners lost the series (though Rodriguez put a 4-for-5 game together in the Mariners final loss).

Alex Rodriguez has yet to perform when the game counted. When the Yankees were struggling against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, the most memorable thing Rodriguez did was to girlie-slap the ball out of the first baseman's glove on a play that cost the Yankees a potential run-scoring rally. Again this year he failed to drive in a run against the Angels. Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, he's 3-for-27, and 3-for-29 since his third-inning home run.

To be fair, Rodriguez is a stunning talent. I wish I had 1% of his talent. But Rodriguez may not be the kind of guy who can perform in New York. He clearly presses when the situation is baseball-critical, unlike his teammate and onetime friend, Derek Jeter, who possesses less talent, but more baseball moxie and seems to have that Reggie Jackson clutch-performance gene.

The other disappointment for the Yankees must be Randy Johnson, who desperately tried to hand Game 3 to the Angels, only to be saved by a short-lived Yankees rally. Johnson has proven in the past to be a big-game performer -- but only when pitching for a small-market team. I expressed concerns about Johnson's ultimate efficacy when he was traded to the Yankees, and while he had a good September, he had no pop in his pitches last Friday in the Bronx. Maybe it was the weather, I don't know; he sure was a different pitcher in Monday's loss, shutting down the Angels in relief. Johnson also is an awesome talent, even in his 40s, but he has never pitched in a town that wasn't prepared to love him unconditionally. He may have won four Cy Young Awards, but New Yorkers didn't see him do that, and his little camera stunt couldn't have helped him much, either.

Ultimately, the main problem with the Yankees remains George Steinbrenner. The 1996-2000 Yankees were a product of the years when Steinbrenner had nothing to do with running the team. The early-to-mid-1990s did not show well in the team's record, but during his suspension Steinbrenner's "baseball people" were free from Steinbrenner's inability to be patient, and were able to put together a team whose players worked as a team. It didn't have an All-Star at each position, a proposition counter to Steinbrenner's visceral approach, which says that he needs one at every position and several on the bench (cf. this year's squad, which included bit players like Tony Womack, Tino Martinez, Al Leiter, Tom Gordon, and Ruben Sierra). A team like this won't be able to do what Ozzie Guillen's or Mike Scioscia's teams can -- hit to the right side, squeeze, take the extra base. (Although I was amused at the disagreement between Tim McCarver and John Kruk about whether it was sound baseball for Mark Bellhorn to stay on second on the high-hop infield hit by Gary Sheffield with two out in the ninth on Monday. Doing play-by-play, McCarver called it "excellent baserunning" to stay, while Kruk's post-game analysis called it a fundamental error for Bellhorn not to have taken third. Kruk believed that, had Bellhorn taken third, Angels first baseman Darin Erstad would have been holding Sheffield's pinch-runner, Tony Womack, to first, which would have let Matsui's ground ball through for a run-scoring single.)

So, does Jesus hate the Yankees? Probably not. Jesus loves everybody, including sinners. It's still a cool t-shirt.


Superfrankenstein said...

I'll tell you who hates the Yankees. Satan hates the Yankees. Since they stopped winning championships, we've had nothing but terrorist attacks, wars, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Satan won't stop celebrating and the world won't be right again until Godzilla gets a ring.

Also, don't worry too much about Steinbrenner. We're running the clock out on him. Tick, tick...

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