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So this was the master plan all along, huh, Joe? The nebullous parameters of the Joba Rules, the sometimes shady secrecy of it all, the constant crap shoot of his efficacy in each start...I hope you realize--and I think you probably do--how much polarizing discord Joba has engendered among Yankee Universe. The mere mention of the bullpen vs starter madness was the equivalent of dropping a Mento into a Diet Coke.

And here are are. Joba Chamberlain (9-6, 4.72) takes his last regular season start (and possibly his last start of 2009?) when the Yankees try to sweep the Royals and extend their W streak to 8. He'll be facing Robinson Tejeda (4-2, 3.41) and, like A.J. Burnett, needs a repeat performance of greatness. I'm gonna recall the same philosophical tenet that I did in July: "We are what we repeatedly do."

Joba's first career start was against the Royals, on June 8, 2008.There's a certain poetic symmetry to this start. According to Girardi, Joba wasn't "read the riot act" (per se...), but he alluded to a stern talking to with a basic "get your head out of your ass" theme. I think Girardi finally figured out what the most effective Joba Rules really are: discipline. Maybe scare tactics, too.

Let's go, Yankees. And DON'T. GET. HURT.

(PS The Yanks won last night on a walkoff shot off Kyle Farnsworth's leg. Bears repeating. In these final 4 games of the season, I'm now half expecting them to see how far they can push the envelope in terms of unlikely wins. I love this team.)

Well, I saw the first hour of this game...the last thing I saw before switching to the Yank/Sux game was Tynes missing a 3 centimeter field goal. Then my sister came over with fried chicken and it was AL East clinching time.

Show goes from 10:30-11:30, I'll be on sometime around 11ish.

Running diary of first half of the game over at the Voice...

For the last few days, all I've been hearing about is how afraid we should all be. How very afraid. Our pitching is billed, as usual, as questionable. The Red Sox are billed, as usual, as the indestructible wild card.

Talk is cheap. This year's Yankees aren't cutting corners to sneak wins in. They're where they are not because of any one player, but because they adapt their game based on the challenges they face. Our team demonstrated that tonight when they left Boston reeling with an unrelenting attack that barely gave their division rivals a chance to come up for air.

It took me about 4 innings to realize what was going on with the pitching performances. Joba Chamberlain and his unprecedented unpredictability were zipping through innings with such economic deftness that I was starting to think he either had a date waiting for him, or just really needed to use the bathroom. Conversely, Jon Lester was uncharacteristically awkward, uncomfortable, and stilted. I think it's pretty obvious what happened here...

Other game notes:

  • Michael Kay waited a whole 3 innings before he broke out the "perfect game" jinx. My Red Sox buddy noted this and texted me: "I almost feel bad for Yankee fans. Girardi should just pull him now."

  • Though I wasn't listening to the 880 broadcast, I can only imagine the rampant application of "You know, you just can't figure baseball" observations from Sterling, once Lester was literally knocked out of the game from a screaming liner off the bat of Melky Cabrera, into the knee cap of RSN's noble ace. But it was the reaction of posters on the game thread at PinstripeAlley that really struck me: immediate, unqualified concern for Lester spilled out in droves. Indeed, we truly have the best fans in baseball.

  • Pitching lines for the night:

    Joba--6 IP, 5H, 3R, 5K, 1BB

    Lester--2.1 IP, 8H, 5R, 3K, 3BB

    If I hadn't seen the game and read that in the next day's paper, I'd honestly think the writer accidentally flipped the names.

    Bullpen lines for the night:

    Yanks--2.3 IP, 3H, 2R, 3K, 2BB

    Sox--5.2 IP, 6H, 4R, 5K, 6BB

    You gotta give our pen credit; they've been the subject of an unfaltering dismissal of their legitimacy for what seems like forever. And like ARod's non-clutch reputation, this preconceived notion becomes less and less substantiated with every game.

  • Jonathan Albaladejo (still can't spell that right in one try) gave the Sox their only respite of the night, giving up 2 runs in about 45 seconds of work. Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, Phil Hughes, and Phil Coke were all remarkably effective out of the pen. I guess old habits die hard. Even with Joba going 6, everyone under the kitchen sink was brought in to fill in the remaining innings. I'm not complaining--I think Girardi handled it perfectly. (Did I just actually say that?)

  • Boston's bullpen is like a freaking clown car at a circus. I really thought I had seen all of em during the 15-inning marathon last month. But tonight, some guy named Hunter Jones relieves Lester, then Michael Bowden after that. My sister texts me, "Who ARE these pitchers? Did they Jorge Bogey? That sounds like a name dad would make up. Like 'Yeah Frank Staboonch is coming in next.'" (Jorge Bogey=Michael Bowden)

  • Stat of the night: Yankee batters saw 213 PITCHES. This is one of my proudest moments of the season. Lester threw 78 pitches in less than 3 innings. Joba threw 86 in 6 innings. Unbelievable.

  • 2nd best stat of the night: 7 STOLEN BASES. In 7 tries, off Jason Varitek. The most SBs in a game since they stole 8 in 1996. (At what point is "stolen base" no longer an automatic cue to cut to Dave Roberts reels?) They never stopped running, and the Sox were constantly left scrambling on defense.

  • The Sox offense was spotty, at best. Their only highlights were a solo shot from Victor Martinez (to "break up" Joba's perfecto, just like Kay wanted) and a 2-run bomb from David Ortiz (who's the king of meaningless homeruns now, RSN?)

  • No element of their game was underplayed. The pitching was tremendous, the running game was extraordinary, defense tight as always, and offense was overwhelming. 14 hits, only 1 of which was a long ball (the record-breaking 127th ding of the year was off the bat of Alex Rodriguez, who went 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs). The Yankees manufactured runs all. game. It was like they never stopped to look at the score, just put their heads down, hit, got on base, and kept going. The Sox never knew what hit em.

No one who watched that game can say that this meant nothing. I've been seeing them play all season, and this showing even took me by surprise. They chased one of the best pitchers in the league, they asphyxiated one of the best line-ups in the league. They exploited the Sox's weaknesses, and maybe tomorrow, people will be less quick to lionize Boston, and more inclined to recognize how strikingly stalwart the 2009 Yankees really are.

(PS I'd just like to point out that Varitek very much resembles that troll-like extra in "The Office" who plays Ryan's friend in the NYC "club scene." Just putting that out there.)

A more in-depth look at the weekend at the Voice...

Things Joba Chamberlain (8-6, 4.73) can do to establish a certain degree of comfort regarding his utility in the postseason:

1.) Nothing

Items #2 and #3 on the list also happen to be "nothing."

For the sake of chipping away at the magic number, I'd love to see him turn the Sox on their heads and magically mystify them with his slider that has seen more play than a viral video. Acually, I think there are very few people in the free world who Joba hasn't pitched his slider to.

There's an equal amount of people who have been able to tee off on Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33).

Tonight, the Yankees host the Red Sox for their last regular season meeting. The Yanks maintain a 5.5 game lead on the Sox, but more significantly, their magic number of 5 means that a sweep clinches the AL East division. (And most significantly of all, they clinch in front of Boston. Small, but palpable vindication.)

The Yanks tend to work overtime for Joba in terms of run support, and I'm looking for a big game from Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira. The question of the hour: what's more intimidating and what's a tougher nut to crack? Jon Lester's paralyzing curve ball...or the Yankees' merciless line-up? My money's on the latter.

Let's go, New York. Throw a vat of hydrochloric acid on their psyche.

Apparently Sox fans are totally cas about this weekend. What, like it's a big deal or something?

I think we need to set some ground rules then....

(So as I mentioned last week, Wed Thurs and Fri will have 2 different previews, 2 different recaps. Yeah, I know the level of sense is hovering around zero. But that's how I'm doing it.)

Recap at the Voice...

Recap from PinstripeAlley here and below:

* * *

The Scranton Triple A New York Yankees beat the Angels today, taking 2 of 3 in Anaheim for the first time since 2004. They can beat anyone, and have. Once again, Girardi demonstrated a method to his madness. With Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon, and Jorge Posada notably absent from the starting lineup, the task of detaching the leech-like monkey on their backs fell on the shoulders of the B-listers.

Well, the B-listers and more importantly, AJ Burnett, who's been the subject of rampant chatter regarding his reliability come postseason. If I had to read one more iteration of "mounting concerns over starter Burnett who was acquired in the offseason for $82,500,000 and who's 1-5 with a 6.14 since the start of August," my head was going to fall off and/or explode.

I guess AJ felt the same because in his last 2 starts, he basically looked around, scowled, and hissed, "Take notes, %^&holes."

Tonight, the enigma that is AJ blanked 11 batters in less than 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. In the time it took me to leave work, hop on the subway, and walk back to my apartment, the Yankees had already gone through 3 relievers, and were on #4. They didn't waste much time weening Ian Kennedy back into his pitching duties. And by weening, I mean the equivalent of blindfolding him, stripping him down to his boxers, walking him into the middle of a campus quad, and then taking off with his clothes. Welcome back, kid.

The Yanks staked AJ to a 3-0 lead with a 2-out 2-run RBI double from Robinson Cano, and a run-scoring single immediately after off the bat of Melky Cabrera. It would be all they scored and all they'd need to. Scott Kazmir, who historically has been poison to NY's offense, was manhandled with thick pitch counts. If you can't hit 'em, sit on 'em. And it worked. The typically strikeout hurler threw 112 pitches over 6 innings, let up 3 runs, and only blanked 4--the Yanks beat the Angels at their own game.

Anaheim didn't score until the 5th, when Bobby Abreu grounded out to 2nd to score Mike Napoli. Their only other run came in the bottom of the 6th after AJ had struck out Kendry Morales and Howie Kendrick. Gary Matthews drove in Juan Rivera, who reached home from first.

Then the reliever parade marched in shortly thereafter--an uneventful string of outings until Ian Kennedy, looking about as relaxed as a 90-year driver, loaded the bases with 2 walks and a HBP. No hits though, and he escaped unscathed. His surgeon, however, may have some words for Girardi about what constitutes "easing into things."

After Mariano Rivera put a man on and struck out 2 in the bottom 9th, I started to get the nasty deja vu sensation that AJ must have also been choking on. How bad would Mo have felt if he wasted AJ's second consecutive solid outing? It was only 5 days ago, and the "he's human" line is like a subway card that can't be reused right away.

But they pulled it off. Again. Stuck it out, weathered the comeback, and made it out of the game alive. The magic number's down to 4, but the more valuable output of the game is perhaps what this did for the Yankees' confidence. They can beat the Angels in Anaheim. It may not be easy, but it can be done.

So I suspect Roosevelt was referring to the west coast when she said, "I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."

Time to usher the Red Sox into the Bronx... and then usher them out with their Wild Card door prize.

Yankees make the playoffs! I think haters are right, we ARE spoiled. But after last year, I take nothing for granted anymore, and it makes the playoffs seem that much more exciting.

Lesson learned.

Here's the recap of the Yankees first 2009 win in Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

I don't know if it's possible for me to want the Yankees to come home more than I do right now. Seriously. I just want to sleep again so, so badly. I also want the Yanks to win again, just as badly.

So we're watching the game last night and one of my buddies says, "Hey, do any of you remember the last time we actually enjoyed watching a Giants game?"

Seemed like a weird question since Lawrence Tynes had just kicked the winning field goal with no time on the clock, and everyone was in a pretty good mood.

"No seriously. The Giants make us suffer every time we watch them play."

Ahhh, ok I see what he's saying now.

It's like something I wrote about watching Sox-Yanks games:

Yank-Sux games used to be fun for me. They aren't anymore. And honestly, whether it's a win or loss is immaterial. Because the road to either outcome is just paved with overwhelming anxiety and an impending sense of doom.

It's kinda like how I feel about New Year's Eve. I know I'm SUPPOSED to be fired up about it, but for my money, I'd just as soon take that temporary poison Juliet takes that would put me in a coma until it was all over.

The Giants made us crazy for 4 hours. Again. I sort of felt bad for everyone at the new Jerry Stadium in Dallas. I know how they feel. Opening Day, when my sisters and Byron were at the Yankee game in the first game at GNH, every Yankee fan was so, so excited about the new digs. And everyone who WASN’T a Yankee fan was enthusiastically rooting for the Indians. Which baffled me:

WHY would you go out of your way to ruin something like that for baseball history? Say what you will about the Yanks, but there's no denying that their franchise has played a big role in history, including their stadium. And even though I'm still long from warming up to the new digs, I can respect the impact of the day the Yanks moved away from The House That Ruth Built. I'm not saying it should be a national holiday. But even haters had to acknowledge the significance of the last game played there last year. (Most didn't, but enough did.)

What do you get from taking that from us? It's more than wishing for a loss, it's just--for lack of a better word--mean. And as my mom says, "Our first responsibility is to be a good person."

So I empathize with Dallas fans in that respect. They made history with the attendance in that place. And 105,121 of them.

But that’s where the sympathy ends. You watch a game like that and it’s hard to forget why the Gmen and Boys aren’t thick as thieves.

So here’s what I got:

  • Considering the Giants are egregiously “sans receiver,” they did pretty good. Actually, I was stunned by how little they ran the ball. And suitably impressed with Manning/Manningham. Total passing yards: 330. Total rushing: 97. Fantastic work, O-line. And brilliant, Coughlin.

  • This aggressive pushing down the field worked around Dallas’ rush defense, which limited Jacobs to 58 yards and Bradshaw to 37.

  • Romo threw 2 INTs. Wow. That’s awkward. 13 of 29 for 127 yards. Sweet Christ. By the way, the Giants D-line had 2 injured secondaries missing. And that’s what Romo came up with.

  • I really didn’t think Tynes was gonna make that 2nd kick. Sweet move by Wade Phillips. I see where your head’s at. Unfortunately for you, I’m pretty sure Coughlin has effectively instilled the fear of God into Tynes. And he’s not too bad at this late pressure kicks. I’m trying to figure out at what point Phillips thought the field goal WASN’T good, because when you watch the replays of the sideline reaction, his initial expression is triumph and then wild defeat.

  • Speaking of catching things on camera, Jerry might want to be a more mindful of his spotlight in the public eye. I mean, I don’t even like eating in front of people, but Jerry Jones apparently doesn’t entertain this level of self-consciousness, as demonstrated in the 5 second shot of him digging in his nostrils for what I can only assume is a complete pass. He came up empty, and looked pretty foolish. Just like the rest of his team. In the words of Josh, “The world’s first billion dollar booger!”

  • 30 points is a lot for the all-powerful D-line. How many people took the under on that game? I know the Boys’ O was slated to be dominant, but I really thought our game would be won on defense. I still am trying to wrap my head around the fact that Eli was hitting Manningham and Smith like his throws were on rails. If the win against the Skins fostered our assurance in their D, then this one did the same for our QB and WR’s synchronicity.

Great game. Next week they’re in TB then KC, then back at home for Oakland. But let it be known that the Gmen are the team to beat in the NFC East now.

Yankees beat the Mariners a day after Ichiro “Cinco-Uno” Suzuki killed us with his long ball walk off. And as I expected, they teed off on Doug “I have a couple ideas about why I’m not married” Fister, tagging him for 6 runs in 9 hits over 4 innings.

Basically Fister is good for one thing and that is my amusement. I think the kid’s really gonna have to consider pulling a Joba and inventing pitches to put in his arsenal because a muted pair of pitches isn’t gonna scare anyone. I don’t think his “sinking fastball” would scare my cat.

What DID scare me, my cat, and probably every Yankee fan watching the game, was the terrifying, heart-stopping, color-draining-from-your-face blow that went down in the 5th. The Yanks are cruising along 6-0, in the wake of Tex’s 3-run ding in the 4th. Then Franklin Gutierrez made time stop by lining drilling a bullet right back into CC.

It all happened in a nanosecond, and I’m not kidding when I say the season flashed before me. You spend enough time as a fan, and you see your share of teams disintegrating at the hands of one player’s ill fate.

Jeter, ARod, Girardi, and the trainer were at their ace’s side almost instantly, and you could see Fatso casually shrugging it off and nodding like a bobble head doll with many rubbery neck rolls, that he’s fine, no big. Whatev.

Next pitch: 96 mph fastball.

He let up one run that inning, when Gutierrez scored on an Arod error. And that was the last time a Mariner would cross homeplate that night.

Then: 2 more scoreless innings, retires last 7 batters he faces, finishes with 8Ks.

He predicted a “big bruise” which is about on par with the “Princess and the Pea” getting bruised with pea 10 mattresses below her.

God bless ya, you big animal. I think you’ve finally made me a believer in the “fat is beautiful” school of thought.

(I'm sorry, but CC Sabathia's "build," per se, will get old for me around the same time that beirut, "that's what she said," and this video do. He's really less of a major league pitcher and more of a cartoon. And as such, really should be getting some kind of sound effects when he's taking the mound.)

The Yanks defense was just as stunning as their starter’s. They look good. They know what they’re doing, and they’re not giving anything up. Cano made a play in the bottom of the 7th to grab a sizzling grounder up the middle. Excellent fielding position to even enable him to make the backhanded snag, and even more outstanding zipped toss across his body to first. The next play, Jeter did the exact same thing on the opposite side of the field.

Yeah, no range on that SS. Overrated big time. If only he could be more like Dustin Pedroia.

Tex proves once against that he’s the greatest 1B since sliced bread.

So, so close to hitting for the cycle for the 2nd time in his career. But he’s so good that when he needed a double, all he could come up with was a long ball. And the Yankees are so awesome that when he came back to the dugout after going yard for the 2nd time in the game, they were all yelling, “OVERACHIEVER!!” which is endearing and adorable on many levels. Could this be the “I guess the Yankees are human after all” moment? I think I wanna save it.

Hideki's the man who broke out of the tie with his blast in the 4th. Said shot hasn't landed yet.

As a team, they were HAND OVER FIST more patient at the plate tonight, seeing 164 pitches compared the 104 they saw last night. Mercifully, Jose Molina was out of the lineup in favor of Francisco Cervelli who’s really, really good.

But more than his sharp bat, I like the kid’s instincts behind the plate. He’s extremely quick and he is fantastic at selling pitches. He’s not moving in on Posada any time soon, but I really like having the Ital in our system. And it was nice having someone behind the plate tonight who didn’t think calling 2 straight fastballs in a row in the 9th with 2 outs, was a good idea.

Relief efforts were up to snuff. Bruney was all excited about his new #99 jersey, which looks ridiculous on him. Jonathan Abadlasjdoaks [sic] got the save, and the Yanks try to win the series tomorrow.

Their AL lead stays at 6, their magic number stays at 10. But the number to clinch a playoff spot in 2. So technically the Yanks could get it tomorrow, but that’s really immaterial, since the goal is not to just get in, it’s to get in with the best positioning possible. And for the Yankees, more so than ever, that means locking up Home Field Advantage.

Sunday afternoon game, neatly situated right before Gmen take on the Boys. I have a feeling Sunday is going to be no more relaxing than Saturday. In a good way.

Hand over Fist(er) tonight, Yanks...

(Game preview at the Voice.) ((sorry, their website's been under maintenance all day and links keep breaking))

What are the prerequisites for getting “he’s human after all” exemptions? Because there are a lot of stars and legends out there…but only certain people get this said about them with some degree of frequency. I think everybody should only get one.

Like, from birth. You don’t assume anyone (or anything) is human until he/she/it does something that warrants the “ahh, turns out he IS human” eureka moment. But you can’t waste it. I mean, save it for something that removes all shadow of doubt whether or not they’re human. And once you experience this watershed moment, that’s it. You’re done with the mock shock over his human status.

Mo doesn’t blow many saves. Almost never. But it happens. Unless you started watching baseball 2 months ago, you already know Mo’s indeed a homosapien. The only people who are pronounced human more than Mariano Rivera are Obama and Tiger Woods. Google “he’s human” and see how decidedly mortal Woods is. Of course, there are other people like Lance Armstrong and Breckin Meyer who have taken it upon themselves to preemptively assert it. Some might call this the woman doth protest too much.

(I don’t know why, but the Armstrong headline cracked me up. It sounds like he confessed to some dastardly crime or something.)

That said, the whole lot of human Yankees try to beat the Mariners again, and once again we’re looking at a 10:10 start time. How hard would be it to get the games moved up to 1:00 over there? I mean, wouldn’t that make more sense than pushing their times 3 hours ahead. If you can wake up at 10am to watch Sunday Football, 1pm should be no problem.

Tonight they got (17-7, 3.42) trying to be the first AL-er with 18 wins and join Adam Wainwright as the only arms in the league with that many. In his last start, he got the W, but recorded only 1 K, which I maintain he did out of spite, punishing me for forgetting to start him in fantasy earlier in the week (where he naturally put 10Ks in the book). We’re even now, Round Boy. I’ve already set my roster for today and you got the nod. Deal.

He goes up against Doug Fister (2-2, 3.53 ERA), who effectively demonstrates my rampant immaturity every time he starts since I can’t hear this without giggling. I learned today that he was originally drafted out of high school by the Yankees, but went to college instead. He’s thinking, Dammit there goes my chance to not have my name splayed across my backside. Everyone else is thinking, Dammit there goes our chance to have him start next to Wang in the rotation.

Sabathia’s won the last 7 decisions, and the Yanks have won the last 9 starts of his. After his 1K game, he said, “I was just trying to do whatever I could to get outs and get the team back in the dugout." The evidence is really mounting for my theory that he makes quick work of a whole chicken between innings. Especially since he seems to constantly be wiping his hands on his stomach as if to clear off the grease. Whatever works, CC.

His BP outing start at Safeco ended as a 11-1 romp over the M’s. It’s interesting, the guy needs the least amount of run support and gets the most. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Yanks return to August form, where every game was like watching a magical volcanic eruption of runs. I could see it happening tonight. Fister has been pitching well, but really for no discernible reason. From where I’m sitting, he keeps the ball up too much and when he tried to keep it low, he lost control. (This is also taken from a limited sample size of games, I’ve seen him pitch in. But there's really just not a whole lot of pitches in his arsenal.)

Like Whitey Ford says, “It takes 110 pitches to win a game. 1 pitch to lose it.”

The Yankees need to be more patient at the plate tonight than they were last night, particularly with Fister’s susceptibility to lost control. Thank God Jorge’s back soon. Because you know Mo didn’t lose that game last night. The catcher who called that pitch did.

Their AL lead is 6, their magic number 10. Andy’s ready to pitch again. (In the first of the Anaheim series. Out of the frying pan…) And because the Yankees have some kind of weird Pitcher Complexity fetish, Ian Kennedy may or may not be thrown in the rotation.

Yes, I think now is the perfect time to have a guy fresh off the DL to come back and start pitching for us. And by that, I mean I’m pretty sure I think this makes about as much sense as adding Jaime Lee Curtis to the bullpen. Until David Robertson’s back, of course.

Ok, here's what I got. 3 days a week, I'm writing 2 previews and 2 recaps for the game (1 each for PinstripeAlley and 1 each for Village Voice.) And they're different. Because I don't want to be lazy and just post the same thing everywhere.

So I'll link out to the VV one.
And print/link to the PA one here.

Can I make it any more confusing. The reasoning is because I write for PA Wed/Thurs/Fri and will be writing for Voice every day. And my options were either publish the same thing everywhere, which I don't any editor would be happy about nor am I crazy about OR write different ones 3 days a week.

I guess what I lose in sleep I'll make up for in being realllly intimate with the game nuances. I don't know if that's really tantamount to rest, actually. Whatever, I like baseball a lot.

Here's the Village Voice recap.

Pinstripe Alley here and below.

* * *

"^%$ Ichiro."

That was the text I woke up to this morning.

And then I remembered what happened last night.

I hate Ichiro.

I don't know what's worse, when we spend the hours/days leading up to a game completely preoccupied with our pitcher, and then he confirms our fears...or when he surprises us all and then we stomach punched by the least likely source.

It's splitting hairs and either way, it's a nightmare.


The Yankees had their first game of their road trip last night and went up against one of the best pitchers in the league, pitting him up against one of our most troubled. The angle-du-jour was "What's up with AJ? No, seriously. WHAT IS GOING ON?" And everyone's making their own theories. Jose Mollina likes to stick with "tired." Others go with "sucks in the playoffs." Both are a little too easy and convenient.

AJ was neither of these things last night, letting up 7 hits, eating 7 innings, and striking out 6 with pitches that elegantely grazed every corner of the plate. I was impressed. I don't expect that kind of graceful control from him. It's like the difference between Jigsaw and Patrick Bateman. Both are deranged lunatics. But one a little more insidiously sinister and one a little more aggressively psychotic.

The Yankee bats weren't exactly on fire, per se. But they weren't asleep either. They hit better than any other team would have done against King Felix Hernandez, and that should have been enough for the win. While I'm not gonna throw a parade for runs scored on 2 sac flies from Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, I'm also not disappointed in it, if 2 runs is still more than 1 run.

It is, however, disappointing THE PITS to watch the greatest closer of all time strike out the first 2 batters in the 9th (after a 1-2-3 from Phil Hughes in the 8th) and then put a runner on in the form of Mark Sweeney. Then throw the exact same fastball to Cinco-Uno (apparently Ichiro's too cool to have last name on jersey like everyone else), who promptly goes yard for the walk off. I guess no one gave the Mariners the memo that the Yankees have the market cornered on walk offs.

I'm starting to feeling Boston-like animosity towards Cinco-Uno. At baseline, I hate the fact Japanese players won't learn English, and I especially hate how Cinco-Uno doesn't sit on any pitches. It's annoying. I think I'd think this even if he was on my own team.

Johnny Damon hit two doubles and a single in first 3 ABs, because he's really good at knocking around historically filthy pitchers. The rest of the team--not bad, but not great. 1-for-4's for most. Not Molina though, because he's in some kind of bet with himself to see how long he can go without making any significant remote contribution to the team. One more game. One more game.

Brian Bruney wears #99 now. Because his number was the problem. Not his penchant for hemorrhaging baserunners. His number. I hate players who bypass the "being good' aspect of their job descriptions and beeline directly to irreverant and quirky.

Today's another day. I don't want to sound like the boy who cried "must-win," but the next handful of games for us are very close to "must-win-at-the-risk-of-whipping-fans-up-into-frenzy" situations. Let's go, Yanks. Round Boy (17-7, 3.42) goes up against Doug Fister (2-2, 3.53). (Ok, HE has a legitimate case for putting his first name on jersey.)

So close last night. Now just Michael Kay is up and put a bow on it tonight.

A look at the first game on their west coast road trip... 10:05 against Seattle.

And then some additional thoughts...

Jorge Posada had the right idea when he did his best impression of [insert maddening Hills character]. He got some vacation and down time, and all it cost him was general disdain and public disappointment. Looking down the barrel of a week out west, I'd say that's a small price to pay.

The Yanks officially pull the trump card on any complaining we may do about our jobs, since they decidely have a worse work schedule for the rest of the season than any strung out investment banker. They kick it off by going 3000 miles to face Felix Hernandez (15-5, 2.52)...whose ERA in September starts is so disgusting. I don't even want to type it.

I actually have the same nauseous reflex when I think about spelling out our own starter's auspicious numbers of late. A.J. Burnett (11-9, 4.33) is 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA since August 1. You know somewhere Mitre's thinking, "Well, even I could do that."

But I'm not worried about AJ. He'll shut them down tonight, because he has to shut them down tonight. That's all there is to it.* Because every game til the end of the season is going to be meaningful...even when it's technically not.

Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira eat pitches of Felix for breakfast. (Damon: 5-9; Tex: .333, 3 dings). So I wouldn't mind this as a backup plan. Just in case AJ doesn't actually do what he has to. God, I can't believe AJ Burnett precipitated Seattle as a 61% favorite...over the best team in baseball. Ouch. It's like swinging at a 3-0 pitch from Randy Johnson in his prime.

So finally my egregious lack of basic sensibility has become a marketable skill. I'm now the Yankee blogger for The Village Voice.

Previews, recaps, and whatever the technical term is for "off-topic tangents with only a mild relevance to the topic at hand," will live on their "Running Scared" blog.

This, of course, is contingent on not terrifying their readership.

But I'll still be posting here every day, after every game, probably with the link to the Voice so I'm not double posting. My inaugural post is here.

I didn't think it was possible for me to have even more of a vested interest in the Yanks sticking around til the end. But there it is. Half of me feels the light-headed delirium you get when on either the first NFL Sunday of the Year or the first week of dating someone. The other half of me feels like I'm in a scene from Saw.

Here are 2 links before tonight's preview goes up:

1. Photoshop is like crack for people whose days are intermittenly populated with brief downtime. Basically I get like a kid who just got a Game Genie for his Nintendo and spent the next straight week delighting in secret warp zones et al.

The only downside of my primitive PS creation was that every time a coworker came into my office, I'm pretty sure they thought I was patching my head onto Jessica Simpson's body.

2. I love this commercial
, because the girl 8 seconds in makes me laugh.

After an hour of the game, I started wondering if it was possible I had accidentally cued up last night's GameDay. Yanks stake pitcher to 2-0 lead. Lose it when Blue Jays tie it up shortly thereafter. Really lose it when Jays take lead. I don't think I could have stomached a second loss, and I would have probably gone into a catatonic state if Yankee Stadium was hosting Batting Practice for our Canadian Neighbors, Part II.

But they came through. They showed grit. (Real grit, not the "grit" that Yahoo purported Brady showed in Monday Night Football.) They worked around their pitching flaws and muted bats, and although at least one of their fans was admittedly starting to panic they kept their stranglehold on our faith. It would appear my susceptibility to hyperventilating is inversely proportional to the number of days left in the season.

Anatomy of an averted nervous breakdown Game notes:


  • Derek Jeter, the subject of legions of idiots' contention he has no range, has spent the season disappointing critics, by demonstrating perhaps the biggest wingspan I've seen from him in years. Tonight, he let a ball go through his legs.

  • The Yankees are now 4-0 in games where Chad Gaudin starts. I don't understand this at all. From where I'm sitting, it looks like he's just trying to make things as difficult as possible in the "Who's our real #5 starter?" million dollar question game. Trying to pick between him and Sergio Mitre is like trying to pick between Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan. The Jays scored 3 runs on 7 hits, before he was pulled in the 7th in favor of Brian Bruney. Talk about outta the frying pan and into the fire.

  • How many more outings before Bruney is determined to be a liability? How do you justify someone being an asset when he comes in and promptly sticks runners on 1st and 2nd in record time? Phil Coke got stuck with his mess, and Adam Lind's sac fly scored Marco Scutaro, which would be the last time the Jays crossed home for the night.

  • Brian Tallet left in the 2nd after Robinson Cano lined one into his foot. I'm sure the Yanks were thrilled with him afterwards when they could barely scrape up a couple of hits off the Jays' relievers. "Dammit, Cano. You know how we feel about being caught off gaurd with new hurlers. What were you thinking?"

  • I can't decide whether I find the Yanks' penchant for late-inning heroics exhilirating or disconcerting. After being held to only 4 hits in the first 7 innings, their bats came alive in the 8th. The last part of that sentence has probably been uttered about 78 times this year so far. Alex Rodriguez hit a 1-out single to center which was immensely clutch. Because it meant Matsui's homer in the next at-bat tied the game instead of just chip at the lead.

  • As soon as the Yanks come back at home, I never expect them to lose. They feasted on the adrenaline produced from Matsui's ding, and carried it straight into the 9th inning, when visions of pie danced in my head. Brett Gardner has wasted approximately zero time reminding Yankee fans exactly how important he is to this club. He led off the 9th with a single, immediately darted to second, and then waited for rookie #2 to settle into his own Dare to Be Great moment.

  • A well-managed game on Girardi's end.

  • Francisco Cervelli. So many things about this situation brought to mind "Hoosiers." First, his spot in the game was a function of Jorge Posada's idiotic annoying suspension. Maybe Posada pulled a Norman Dale and asked to be tossed so Shooter/Cerveilli could have a chance to show the world what he could do? Then when he steps to the plate with 1 out and the tying run on, how do you not think about Ollie hitting those Rick Barry shots to win the game?

  • It's easy after a game like this to forget about the problems that manifested themselves in the innings prior to the dramatics. Maybe I'm a bit high strung on account of only have a 6.5 game lead instead of 100 like I want it. The quilt of pitchers they patched together ultimately got the job done, sort of. Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes looked great, not surprisingly, but is there any way we can be a little more economical with the number of pitchers used? I worry about their arms like management worries about Joba's.

But they got the job done. And managed to do so without tempers flaring. It doesn't get any easier from here on. Heading to the west coast on Friday, the Yankees are on the brink of their biggest challenge of the year, which is to maintain their momentum and confidence while also remaining rested and focused.

As Churchill advises, "Never, ever, ever give up."

And as Adam Sandler tells us, "Stay strong, stay focused, stay clean."

Speaking of rest, get it in tomorrow, since the demons of schedule-making are terrorizing us with another week of 10pm start times. Here's to the Yanks making a killing out there.

(PS Sorry about the delay on this! Another CBS880/GameDay night at the office. Still no success in convincing my job that baseball fans should get Fall Leave just like mothers get time off for babies.)

I feel like I’m supposed to be fired up about the brawl last night, but it’s the complete opposite. All the Yankees did was put their health at risk and incense a team that now has something to play for. And that might have been my first departure from immaturity in the last decade.

The AL East-leading Yankees meet the AL Thorns in Everyone’s Side Blue Jays, for the 18th time for their final match-up of the season. During the melee last night, which is a gracious term for it really, equipment was thrown everywhere, CC Sabathia was spotted rubbing his head (the only part of his body not protected in flubber), and Shelley Duncan mauled Rod Barajas. Your basic stuff for a Tuesday night game.

Tonight Chad Gaudin (1-0, 3.42) goes up against Brian Tallet (7-9, 5.26). Gaudin’s starts (3-0) work out pretty well for the Yanks (often surprisingly), so let’s hope he gets it done tonight. Tallet’s got some tricky junk, including a cutter I have no interest in seeing and an assaulting change-up. HOWEVER, I think the Yanks are pissed enough that they’ll put some wood on the ball, and tag him for circa 6 runs. Where I got this number from, I’m not sure.

The Yankees just have to win 6 games to clinch the Wild Card, but as Sterling noted the other night, ‘I don’t think any Yankee fan is going to be particularly happy if we finish the remaining games at 6-11." This Yankee fan in particular will not be happy if we don’t go on at least a 4-game streak at some point before season’s end. This is no time for messing around in playground scuffles.

Keep your head in the game, NY.

Settle down, Yankees.


Although I'm not really one to talk, having been on a decided high strung edge for the last week and a half. Working til midnight did zero to mollify this.

Getting text updates from my friends about the circus of a game exacerbated it.

Having been quarantined in a conference room for the last 6 hours discussing the finer points of venous thromboembolism in hip replacement surgery (no dice on trying to shoehorn ARod into the campaign), I'm catching the DVRed version.

I know the final score. I know the cliff notes version of the game. But it's the proverbial car crash I can't divert my eyes from. (Is this a true theory? I feel like the whole "having to watch, like a car crash" simile is on par with "like learning to ride a bike" in the not-all-that-accurate silo.)

My thoughts manic reactions to an aggressively beleaguering evening:

  • I only like brawls if we're winning. Period. With 2 exceptions:
1.) I'd be ok with a brawl when losing if and only if we were losing by a verrrry marginal degree AND the deficit is on account of a completely, no-question, blown call that was related to some extent to an asinine move from the opponent. Like if the Yanks were down by 2 because the umps ruled the go ahead run safe at the plate when he was clearly out, and then the runner proceeded to talk shit to our catcher.

2.) If they're directed at idiot chicks who are opposing fans.*

  • Tonight did not fall into either of these categories, and so I'm not really thrilled about what went down in the Bronx. If nothing else, it just incenses your opponents who you still have to play 2 more times. Remember when the Mets had like a 92 game division lead a few Septembers ago? Only to squaunder it away and end up in a must-win situation against the Marlins for their final regular season game?

  • The night prior to this notorious Mets collapse, saw its share of bench clearers (and to this day, no one has any idea what the hell started them), and I have to wonder if the Mets would have won that fateful final game if they were playing a less fired up team. The Marlins hadn't had anything to play for, really. Until the Mets gave them motivation to come out swinging. Something to think about, Yankees, before you come roaring out of the gates and into a brawl.

  • So here's how it went down: Carlson throws behind Posada's head. Bad move. The Yanks get particularly raucous when it comes to Jorge. Posada made a worse move though and brushed Carlson when he was crossing home on Gardner's hit. Personally, I probably would have done something to the same effect. If not a brush, then something equally obnoxious. But I have the luxury (sort of) of having the maturity of Nelson Muntz. POSADA SHOULD KNOW BETTER. Sweet Christ.

  • Benches cleared after Carlson took a fruitless swing at Posada, who couldn't run a 40 minute-mile if he trained all year, but for some reason has cat-like reflexes and agility when engaged in combat. "I tell ya, Suzyn. Ya just can't figure baseball!"

  • Not surprisingly Rod Barajas and Shelley Duncan get into a notably rough scuffle. I do not envy Barajas. I saw Shelley Duncan out once a few years ago, and wanted to see what a bona fide #17 elbow bump felt like. You'd think he'd ease up on a chick who weighs a buck and change, but I could have been Giambi for the amount of power he put into his end of the elbow bump, which quite literally carried me halfway across the room. This., of course, is one of the many reason Shelley is unassailably awesome.

  • Halladay carved us up, again. Mitre didn't stand a chance. 50% of the hits he let up were HRs. This wouldn't be too terrible if he had only let up 2 hits. But half of 8= career high for Mitre. Congratulations on this milestone!

  • 4 runs on 15 hits. I actually feel sick to my stomach. (Expression #3 of the night I'm going to call into question. Why is it "to your stomach"? Can you feel sick to your ankles? Isn't that like saying "irregardless"? I hate everything tonight, I think.)

  • 5-16 with RISP. And only 4 runs? HOW IS THIS MATHEMATICALLY POSSIBLE?

  • And, of course, no bad night would be complete without a cup of Joba News Salt being poured in the proverbial open wound: Girardi said RHP Joba Chamberlain will be "a full-fledged starter" by the end of the season. Sigh. The hits keep coming.

  • If we're looking for silver linings, I guess this means Girardi will probably have to become familiar with the actual definition of "starter," thereby engendering the realization that putting someone in for 14 pitches in the first inning of the game may mean he technically "started" the game, but doesn't necessarily categorize said pitcher AS A STARTER.

  • I think the only way this Tuesday could have been worse was if I spilled coffee on myself in the morning. Just as bags of sour/gummy candy 100% eclipse and void any of the day's pitfalls, spilling coffee on myself is an irreparable evil that ruins the day no matter what.

I wonder if the Yanks say the same thing about Halladay.

So they need a BIG win tomorrow. And the next day. In fact, I need them to have at least a 4 game streak to bring my blood pressure back to a healthy range. I'll settle down if you do, Yanks. Deal.

*Once at a Sox-Yanks game, my sister starts slinging hilarious insults at the brontosauruses sitting 6 rows down from us. "Lauren. We can't talk shit. We're losing by about 3400 runs." "If we're gonna lose, we may as well have fun doing it." Fair point. That night also lives in infamy as the night an approximately 800-lb Sux fan chick took a swing at my sister. Apparently she didn't like being told to check her obesity at Stan's next time. Women are so sensitive.

Ok, I was willing to let sleeping dogs lie last night, mostly because I myself wanted to sleep. But then I go on yahoo this morning to set my fantasy roster, and I see this mumbo jumbo polluting my computer screen. "Underdogs"? Can someone please explain this to me?

And "relying on grit"? Unless "grit" is synonymous with bonehead running decisions under the 2 minute mark, then I'm thinking Yahoo is playing it kinda fast and loose with this term. Ditto for Brady being "clutch."

And here we go. Welcome to the NFL Season. And by "NFL Season," I mean, of course, "unwarranted lionizing of a slightly above average looking team."

1.) Text from Kevin: "He wanted to be a superhero. I hope they cut him before he reached the sideline."

2.) Jon Gruden: "What a mistake by McKelvin!"

3.) If the Bills had lost by 20, they would have left Foxboro with more dignity.

4.) The Bills had the game locked up. LOCKED. UP. They were less than 2 minutes away from embarrassing the Pats AT HOME in Week 1, in a game no one thought they stood a chance in. Wasn't there 1 person on the Bills sideline that had the "Ok, ok, ok, let's quit while we're ahead" or "OMG, I'm afraid to do anything else and mess this up" mentality? Not one? Why do subpar teams always do this? I would think that the natural inclination would be naive happiness that you held your own and hence a conservative desire to just cash in your chips and not go all in?

5.) Here are some other instances of this that come to mind:

i.) May 20, 2006
ii.) November 19, 1978
iii.) March 23, 2006
iv.) January 2, 1984
v.) December 3, 2007

Anyways. Whatever. I wouldn't be too fired up over this one, Boston. You beat the Bills. At home. "That's like being the coolest guy at Shenanigans!"

And your boy Brady? Looks about as frightening as shampoo.

The Angels always beat us and are so scary and no one wants to play them because that will be our undoing. At the risk of sounding like I'm going to default to Dennis Green here and emphatically iterate that if you wanna crown them now, then crown their ass. But that's why we took the damn field.

Everything's attainable.

Even a win against the neutralizing Halos.

Before I get into the game, I just want to plug "Monk," one of the best shows on tv, and one of the only things I actually watch outside of Family Guy and Baseball Tonight. I think I feel some kindred spirit feelings towards the main character since he's socially awkward and OCD.

But in the most recent episode, he loses his first case ever to this lawyer (Harrison Powell) who just destroys him on the stand. And so Monk is scared to ever take a case again for fear of going up against this guy. But then at the end, the scary lawyer and him have the following exchange:

Harrison Powell: Do you really want to go up against me again, Former
Detective Monk?
Adrian: Yes I do. I'll see you on the ball field.
Harrison Powell: The ball field?
Adrian: I've seen your curveball. I can hit it now.
Harrison Powell: Oh, I'm really looking forward to this.
Adrian: No, you're not.

I'm not gonna say the Yankees "have the Angels' number" or anything a little over the top like that. But Girardi tonight probably showed the most incisive and aggressive managing he's shown all year. By simply beating the Halos at their own game. If that's what it takes to beat em, then giddy up, Guzman and Gardner.

Let's go.

  • The AP kills me: "Mark Teixeira hit a two-run triple on a play that caused Angels center fielder Torii Hunter to lose a shoe." That's their lead. It sounds like something I would say, actually. In fact, I'm kinda disappointed they didn't hyperlink to this. Because that's what I would have done.

  • That Vlad is one scary MFer. I don't care how good the Yankees are or how good any pitcher is...that is without a doubt the last guy I wanna see at the plate. I'm not kidding. More so than Pujols, Manny, Ortiz (of yore), etc. EVEN MAUER. I think I only say this because I'm not just terrified of Vlad as a hitter. I think I'm actually just plain terrified of him in general.

  • Swisher goes yard to tie up the game after the aforementioned dragon's solo in the 2nd gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead. 6 dings in 14 games for Swish. Not bad, not bad. Good thing he remembered how to take pitchers deep at home.

  • Yankee fans really got to stop relying on Mo, he's past his prime. Yeah, remember that? I do. I also remember him having 40 saves in 2005. AND IN 2009. You're so f'n rad, Mo. 998 career K's for him. One more and my favorite all time Yankee will be swimming in 9's. I like it.

  • Yankees magic number is 12, with 17 left to play. Doesn't it feel like it should be lower than 12? We're 7.5 up on Boston, which is good, but I need at least 2 of 3 from Toronto before I fully cleanse the O's weekend debacle off my palate.

  • The Yanks also have a 6 game lead on the Angels for best AL record. I don't think I've ever assigned this much importance and consequence to home field advantage ever. In any season, any year, any sport. I am salivating for this.

  • Joba didn't look so bad today. 4 hits in 4 innings. 1 run. 2 Ks. Aces followed him to do about the same. 2.2 innings. 2 hits. 1 run. 2 Ks. So are the 2 of them like now considered the equivalent of our 5th starter? Or 4th starter? I don't even know anymore what happens after Andy. I'll go on record saying that I'm ok with Joba starting if Aces is attached to him after 3 innings. And they split the work evenly. If I HAVE to see our set-up man emeritus in the ill-advised starter role, then I want Aces backing him.

  • Teixeira was the player of the game, going 3-for-4, one HR shy of the cycle. (Who was the last Yankee to get the cycle again...? How come Melky's name isn't gratuitously dropped ad nauseum ad infinitum in the same way that Tony Fernandez's was?)

  • Why was Tex so mad about the interference? He got a triple. His first since 2007. And it scored 2 runs, yeah? I really think he's got more than a little Paul O'Neil in him.

  • While I'm the subject of light criticism of announcers, could I request that we stop comparing any good steal to Dave Roberts? For obvious reasons. And because, well, is that the only big steal guy you can come up with??

  • The Angels' aren't very good defensively. Why am I just noticing this? They're ok, I guess. But nothing to be scared of.

  • Welcome back, Gardner! And welcome, Guzman! The two of them are like freaking video game characters. Like Sonic the Hedgehogs or something. It's great. I sometimes underestimate base-running prowess, but tonight demonstrates how key it is to have kids like that on the base paths that can not only wheel around with lightning speed, but also keep their heads in the game and and jump at chances to take extra bases.

  • When Napoli's throw to third sailed into the outfield (completely Figgins' fault, btw), Gardner didn't waste a nanosecond before making his way home. One more second can mean the difference between a run and an out.

  • Torii Hunter, who I adore right after Carl Crawford in my non-Yankees crush league, consistently has the greatest, most incisive and glowing, astute things to say about my boys: "This year, I think it's something different about those guys," he said. "It's a fire, some kind of fire, I see in those guys. It's totally different." I love it. Or when he said about the fans at Yankee Stadium:
"I love Yankee Stadium. The atmosphere and energy there is great. And the fans
know the game. When they get on you it can be pretty personal, but it's always
about your baseball game. When someone screams, 'You just can't hit that
slider,' that's someone who knows what they're talking about."

There are fans who yell, "you just can't hit that slider"? Interesting.

The Yankees have now won five of their last six home games vs. the Angels. A week from today, we're in Anaheim.

This is it. The home stretch. Tomorrow Mitre goes against Halladay. Hm.

  • 2 games against Toronto.
  • Weekend in Seattle.
  • Start next week in Anaheim.
  • Back to NY for Boston.
  • Close the regular season home games with KC.
  • Finish the regular season at TB in the first week of October.

I'm really nervous. Not dread nervous. But after typing that, I got the feeling you get seconds before you go on stage for a play. Excited, jittery, nervous, but at the same time, aware that if you just play like you have been, you could very well blow everyone away.

"I felt that I was walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”
-Winston Churchill

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