For once, nothing amiss, just a win

yanksalcs_1_250.jpgCONGRATULATIONS, YANKEES!
There were no insects this time, no Paul Quantrill making his 90th or so appearance of the season. A terrified Esteban Loaiza did not make an appearance in extra innings. Tom Gordon did not pitch with his arm hanging by a thread. Tanyon Sturtze was not called upon in a big spot. Alex Rodriguez did not hit .133 for the series and get demoted to eighth in the batting order. The starting ace, whoever it was, did not fold in the key game. Jaret Wright did not start, and Kyle Farnsworth could not be found in the bullpen. Randy Johnson did not pitch like a 42-year-old. An injured Gary Sheffield was not called upon in desperation. In short, aside from some compulsive pinch-running and pitching changes by the anxious manager, there were no Hail Mary passes, no fourth stringers dressed up as stars. There was, shockingly for the Yankees, NO WEIRDNESS. They played their games, played them well, and for the first time since 2003, they will return to the World Series. The 2009 Yankees have one of the deepest rosters in the history of the club and they played like it. Finally. Congratulations and good luck to the entire organization.

SOME NOTES ON GAME SIX

1. Even though he didn’t hit, Nick Swisher played his best defensive baseball in this series, culminating in his doubling Vladimir Guerrero off of first in the second inning. He also looked more relaxed at the plate in this game.

2. Jorge Posada was having a decent offensive series (.267/.450/.533, a home run and five walks) before Game 6, in which he had several chances to break the game open and failed miserably, going 0-for-5, hitting into two double plays and stranding 10 runners. Had the Yankees somehow lost the game, you would have had to point the finger his way.

3. Joe  Girardi was fully in the grips of Coffee Joe mania when he went to Mariano Rivera for a two-inning save. Asking your closer to pitch two innings is normally a great idea — it’s always better to cut out the (pardon the expression) middle-man — and that’s the way it was done until Bruce Sutter and then Dennis Eckersley cemented the idea that closers could only be used one inning at a time. The truth was that THEY could be used one inning at a time, but not everyone was subject to the same limitation. The difficultly with asking Rivera to do it in Game 6 is: (a) He’s about four weeks from turning 40; and (b) He had been asked to get six outs just once all year, and that was during a tie on May 16; so (c) As a result, Rivera threw over 30 pitches (31 and 32) just twice all season, and between 20 and 30 pitches just 11 times. This meant that (d) when Rivera ended his difficult eighth inning having already thrown 21 pitches, he had already exceeded his pitch count for all but a handful of his appearances. By the time it was all over, Rivera had thrown 34 pitches, his high for the season, and that was after sitting through the long bottom of the eighth. It worked, but it was risky, and it did nothing to reestablish Phil Hughes, who is going to be needed.

4. I wonder if Dave Robertson is going to get dropped from the World Series roster on the basis of injury. Girardi said he pulled him from Game 3 because his velocity was down (though he had pitched well) and never went back to him again. It wouldn’t serve the Yankees to announce that Robertson was injured as long as the round continued given that they couldn’t do anything about it, and the idea that their bullpen was short a man could somehow impart a psychological or tactical advantage to the Angels. Perhaps we will see the triumphant return of Brian Bruney, though part of me thinks that with the Phillies’ left-leaning batting order, the Yankees would be better off pulling Mike Dunn out of the Arizona Fall League, thereby giving themselves a third bullpen southpaw. I’m half-kidding about that, but only half.

5. It’s amazing how badly one can mess themselves up by thinking about purely physical things. Normally, your hypothalamus controls your breathing. Start trying to control it with your conscious mind — you’ll be gasping for air directly. Similarly, pick up a baseball and simply throw it as you’ve known how to do all your life and you make the play. Think about it, aim it, and you’re going to toss it into short right field. Yes, I’m talking about Scott Kazmir, who could probably make a 40-foot throw to first base blindfolded. Under most conditions, you and I could (I would probably need an empty stadium and advance notice that all errors would be forgiven). Make things just a little tense and even a professional ballplayer can fumble away a key play. The Angels, normally a very together club, did it repeatedly in this series.

6. Why was Gary Matthews, Jr. allowed to make the last out of this series? Why was he allowed to make any outs this series? Why did Mike Scioscia keep pinch-hitting him for Mike Napoli and Howie Kendrick, who are both far better hitters than Matthews? I’ve been hard on Girardi, but Scioscia, normally a fine manager, had his own Coffee Mike problems during 30 Days of ALCS.

7. At least there were no umpiring controversies in the last game.

8. What is with the faux-stitch-style league championship caps? They’re terrible. From spring training, your team plays nearly 200 games to get to the World Series and then you’re forced to put something on your head that looks like it was cut from the backside of your overweight older brother’s hand-me-down jeans. I guess someone thinks the kids really like stitching this year.

9. I don’t know what’s going to happen when Andy Pettitte becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame. I imagine not much, just “thanks” and “no thanks.” Before the voters dismiss him, they ought to give him some outsized credit for his going 16-9 in 38 postseason starts.  

10. Was their ever a time in history when players actually drank the champagne they were given upon winning? That must have been the original intention, and then somewhere in the TV era somebody started spraying champagne, and everyone watching thought that was pretty novel, and soon everyone was doing it. Now the original thing would be to have a decorous toast. If players know to bring goggles to the party, the celebration is no longer spontaneous.

NEXT UP

We begin the Yankees-Phillies head to head comparisons.

14 Comments

Steven- Consistently enjoy your articles- Now we need you to employ a lobbying effort for the WS roster- Please, please, please no Freddie Guzman- Depending on pitching matchups, let’s get both Hinske and Shelly Duncan (or at least Ramiro Pena) on the roster- Do we really need three catchers (even w/o the dh for up to 3 games)? thanks, SRB

Way to go steve, You slipped right by how Posada stunk up his playing in this series. I just love the way you slipped in “”IF””””IF”” the Yanks had lost you might have had to look at Posada miserable offense. Two DP’s and 0 for 5. Now if Molina had the same offense game as Posada you would be the 1st person screaming for his head. You know Goldman you sound like like the FOX network play by play. You should be netural but your reporting raises it’s ugly side. The Yanks have won the series even with Giardia’s idiot moves. Keep Swisher in as he was a great 3 or 4 for mid-30 at bats. Some people says ther is no one on the bench that can make up for his 20 + HR’s, duh, how many did the “”Idiot” have? Where was Henski or Gardner? Oh yea, Henski was replaced by Guzman. Gag, gag. I just loved it when after the game Swisher had the gaul to get interviewed and say it was great. He contribuuted “zip. naught, zero”. He should have been hiding in the shower instead of being interviewed. Oh well despite it all the Yanks won. Thanks goodness.

This is a blog. It’s supposed to include Mr. Goldman’s opinions, it doesn’t have to be neutral.

Like Mr. Goldman, I like Swisher, but he didn’t do well, and if he is to start in the World Series, he had better pick it up. What more do you want?

No Tom Gordon throwing up!

Not everybody hits in the playoffs. It happens. Nick Swisher is a very talented player who had a horrendous 6 games. Why is this such a shock? Imagine if the Yanks had traded Jeter after his first bad postseason performance? FOX broadcasters would have you believe Jeter has never had a bad postseason, but this is not even remotely true. Jeter has had some postseason performances every bit as bad as Nick Swisher’s.
Not every player on the team is going to hit at the same time. That’s just the way baseball goes. If all the Yankess hit up to their potential they would score 12 runs a game.

Good post, Steve. But I have to take issue with #3. I thought it was absolutely the right move to bring in Rivera for six outs. Yeah, he’s old, but he’s…Mariano Rivera. This is a pennant lock-down situation, he’s the greatest closer of all-time – and still pitching greatly, there is no reason to think he’s tired or ineffective, and c’mon, who can’t go two innings? Besides, the 8th was the danger inning (top of the order), so you need him there. Yeah, he gave up a run, but that was of the “cheap/lucky” variety. Phil Hughes has gotten lit up this postseason, so if we damage his psyche by passing on him in favor of The Great One, well, sorry, Phil, get over it.

To the commenter who calls himself (or herself) “hateslibs” – presumably you’re a Fox News watching, Limbaugh listening right winger? Let me just ask you – is there anything that doesn’t set you people off into bizarre little rages? Really, man, I see people who call themselves the sort of inanity you call yourself all the time, and it’s always the same badly-written, spelling-deficient, fact-challenged frothing at the mouth. Steve’s reporting “raises its ugly side”? Where? I’ve been reading Steve’s columns for years, and I can tell you I’ve never seen “ugly” in any of it. And I live in Boston, so I know ugly writing from sportswriters. I read Steve because he’s not like the clowns who write for the local papers.
Your diatribe against Posada ignores everything Steve wrote. Those damn inconvenient facts that right wingers tend to despise, I guess. So tell us where Steve was wrong. And his comments about Swisher were dead on correct. Or do you think that Swisher’s doubling up of Guerrero, and his defense in general, constutute zip? The column simply presented more of those facts that apparently drive people who “hate libs” nuts (and I do mean nuts).
I have to laugh – the Yankees are in the Series for the first time since 2003, and all you can do is spew hate and bitterness, from your first word to your signature.

Good point about PHing Matthews Jr. for Napoli. That one’s a head scratcher. Napoli hit 20 HRs this season, which is more than Matthews (who hit 4 this year) has ever hit in any single season. Odd move by Scioscia.

you make some good observations, this is pretty interesting. check in with my blog sometime and share your thoughts.

http://mike23nyy.mlblogs.com/

I have this theory about Swisher that he has these short lapses then rebounds big. So if I’m right, he will be hot with the bat in the World Series. Moreover, contrary to an earlier writer, when he slumps, it truly bothers “Swish” which is why he eventually comes out of them. I once saw him make a horrid fielding error, only to come up to bat and hit one out of the park. I had to feel he felt he owed it to the fans to “right” the earlier mistake. Not every ball player is wired that way. Swisher is.

Hey yanksfaninboston. I watch Fox News. I am a conservative. I don’t froth at the mouth, but what right do you have bringing POLITICS into a SPORTS conversation?? Oh I could do it too….telling you that the liberal loons in charge of this country are not only going to bankrupt us for the next 50 years, but are going to bring us to the brink of communism!! Redistributing wealth?? Government run health care?? Ostricizing news agencies that don’t agree with your agenda??

Leave politics for a different time my little liberal friend from Boston. Stick to the topic at hand idiot!!!

PS…Sorry about that froth at the end….I hope I didn’t get any on you.

mbrandes@rochester.rr.com, Thank you for your blog on keeping politics out of this blog. This so-called “yanksfaninboston” has to be a fake. All he wants to do it spit out his liberal hate. Now to the real topic:: GO YANKS. Number 27is in sight.

Last time i checked, I’m 100% sure that Rivera pitched 2 and 1/3 of an inning against Minnesota in the first round. I don’t see how the clinching a trip to World Series should be Hughes’ time to rehabilitate his confidence; What he if he pitched the way he had been pitching? Girardi would have been taken apart by the media if he had blown this game by letting Hughes pitch the eighth inning. I like Hughes and i hope the Yanks give him a chance early on the World Series to prove himself, since having him pitching well would shorten the game for the Yanks.

Hey, brandes, when some clown uses a name such as “hateslibs”, he’s already brought politics into the discussion, and he’s fair game. He’s also frothing at the mouth, if you look at his name and the fact-challenged, inarticulate nonsense that he wrote. And if you want to talk bankruptcy, your boy Reagan took office with a total debt of $1 trillion. He left with $3 trillion. GWB started with $5.7 trillion and left with a bit under $11 trillion. The last 28 years have seen the greatest redistibution of wealth in history – upward. Now, you’ll be declining Medicare one day, I presume. And as for your buddy “hateslibs”, only someone that delusionally right wing could project his own psychoses on the rest of us. So, “hatelsibs”, tell me how I’m a fake, OK, genius?

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