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Ok. They went up against Josh Johnson. It's not exactly the easiest guy in the league to hit off of. I can forgive the bats. Sort of. I don't really think there's ever any real excuse to get shut down when you're boasting the type of lineup the Yankees put on the field every day. PARTICULARLY when it's been a bit of a pattern for them in the last week:

Since Tuesday, 6/16

5-3 (W)
2-3 (L)
0-3 (L)
5-1 (W)
1-2 (L)

13 runs in 5 games. In the game before Tuesday, they scored 15 runs off the best pitcher in the game. It's completely staggering, baffling, disconcerting, and alarming.

But again, I'll try to look past the offense because it wasn't like they were getting shut down by the winless pitcher du jour. It was Josh Johnson. The fantasy beast.

This game can be boiled down to 1 play. And there's zero question about that. Even the culprit himself proactively absorbed all the guilt.

Johnny Damon. Dropped a routine fly ball. That let the game-winning run score from 1B.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, this is the 2nd time in 2 weeks that Damon allowed a can of corn to pop out of his glove like he was trying to catch a skybounce ball with a tennis racket.

The last time the exact same thing happened, he sat out the next game, after discovering he had "caffeine-related eye problems."

Clearly his inability to field the most basic of hits and jeopardizing his team's overall performance wasn't a compelling enough reason to lay off the Starbucks.

I know what that feels like, I know exactly how caffeine affects your eyesight. I obviously am not playing with the same kind of stakes as a professional baller, but I can attest to the drastic difference in performance this optical hitch had on my playing. I noticed it at the batting cages, when I was having trouble making contact with enormous neon yellow dimpled softballs coming in at like 3 mph. It wasn't just a matter of blurry vision. It was affecting depth perception, clarity, and location even. It appears 5 inches or so off its actual location. And it's unbelievably frustrating.

After laying off the caffeine and treating it with eyedrops, the difference was otherworldly. It was as if the omnipresent waxpaper coating everything I saw, was replaced with hi-def, clarifying, magnifying saran wrap. I couldn't believe that I had actually been walking around like that, but after a while of having the eye affliction, I had just gotten used to it and accepted it.

If Damon only knew how much better it could be...

But instead, the amazing pitching performance from AJ was completely wasted. 8 strikeouts in 6 innings. Nasty, nasty curve. And his slider is working out pretty well, too.

Or maybe we should focus on the fact that for the lion's share of the game, AJ was the only Yankee who actually knocked a hit off Johnson, in the 3rd inning. The next hit wouldn't come til the 7th.

I keep coming back to the fact that Johnson is a wizard, and as such, I'm not going to come down too hard on the Yankees' offense. Regardless of the quiet bats yesterday, and barring the inexcusable error from Damon, there is one pervasive issue disintegrating the Yankees' strength: JOE GIRARDI.

This morning I was talking to my buddy about this, and he said it more perfectly than I have ever heard:

"Joe Girardi is just in way over his head with this team."

That's it. Right there. It's the equivalent of asking me to be the Executive Vice President of Creative Operations. I have experience, I'm a good writer, I have some ideas. But that's way beyond anything I would be prepared to do. It's too tall an order at this point. The Yankees lineup is built for a championship. There are verrrry few holes in their system.

But this doesn't mean the team can run itself.

There's a big hole in the bullpen, so why is our best reliever in the starting rotation?

We're getting killed---KILLLED---on double plays. So why aren't we capitalizing on the rampant youthful speed punctuating our lineup?

We have an egregious inability to hit pitchers we have no experience against, so why isn't the video scouting working overtime to do preemptive research?

If I were Girardi, I'd consider turning this team over to a baseball clinic. Because the longest the club persists in this laissez faire, passive approach to attacking opponents, they're going to be wildly inconsistent. The face of the game changes with every pitcher, every team. You can't expect the Yankees to default to their inherent talents to answer these challenges.

Call Dom Scala. I'd feel infinitely more comfortable if the team was in the hands of someone who actually coaches, rather than a manager who acts like he's playing in a fantasy league with a limited number of roster moves.

In other news:

  • Terrifying. Is it me, or does the photoshopped Papel-in-Pinstripes resemble Joba?


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