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August 10, 2005

Wildcard Dreams

Let us pretend that the Yankees can win the AL Wildcard this year. And, let us pretend that Boston wins the AL East, Chicago wins the AL Central, and either Los Angeles or Oakland wins the AL West.

With the current win-paces of Boston, Chicago and the AL West leaders, this would mean that, in the 2005 ALDS, the Yankees would play the White Sox and Boston would play the winner of the west.

Think about that, for a moment.

The Yankees just showed us that the White Sox are an offensively challenged team who has won a lot this year because of the depth of their starting pitching (and having teams like the Royals and Indians to beat up on). In a 5-game series like the LDS, having a starting rotation five deep is not a huge advantage - because a team with just three starters can match their best to yours, thanks to the off-days and the length of the series.

And, as an east coast team, would you rather fly to Chicago for a series, or have to do the East-West-East coast flight-thing and battle a good team as well?

Winning the AL Wildcard this year would not be so bad. And, as 2002, 2003, and 2004 have shown us, a wildcard team can win the World Series.

Ah, to dream.........

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 10, 2005 07:39 PM


except for the fact that Boston has played the contender from the West the past two post-seasons and gotten through it, I totally agree.

Posted by: brad at August 10, 2005 08:24 PM

Those were the Lowe and Pedro Sox 'tho.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at August 10, 2005 08:59 PM

Actually, Pedro lost both of his starts, and Lowe was the benefactor of a ton of run support, so I can't get on board there.
FWIW. Schilling is better than Pedro in the big start, and Clement is just as good as Lowe, but that can be misleading since playing for Chicago, he's never seen a big start.

Posted by: brad-SF at August 10, 2005 11:25 PM

Steve, I was thinking the same thing. We just need to cross our fingers and hope that the best-team-in-baseball Yankees shows up for the final 50 games.

Our pitching--top to bottom--is better than Boston's. I mean, have you seen the horror show that is Boston's bullpen? And Matt Clement is going to beat us in a big spot? Matt Clement of the National League East is going to come into the Stadium in mid-October and shut us down? Come on.

Notwithstanding our recent performance, we all know our offense is substantially better than Chicago's or Anaheim's or Oakland's. And our pitching is competitive with theirs. Finally, in the back of our bullpen is a cosmic x-factor; a first ballot hall-of-famer who is in a class with Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

It is all there. Even with RJ banged up and all the injuries. The starters we have now are enough. The team that we dreamed on when they crushed Boston 9-2 on opening night is in there someplace. I just hope we get to see it--and real soon.

Posted by: Joel at August 10, 2005 11:27 PM

Correction--Matt Clement is of the NL Central. Although I will probably always view the Cubs as creatures of the NL East.

Posted by: Joel at August 10, 2005 11:33 PM

Is that optimism I sense Joel? Shame on you. You should know better than to have hope when there are cold, hard facts (that some BoSox fan will surely point out any minute now) telling us that we should just pack it in and call it a season :-)

Posted by: Jen at August 11, 2005 12:05 AM

I'm still thinking this team can make the WC. But it is now on Joe Torre to stop his hissy-fits over certain players as well as to start managing smart, not being a coy wise guy.

Joe is having a very bad year as manager, very bad.

Does Girardi even have a clue as bench coach, or is he also in Joe's doghouse?

Posted by: Don at August 11, 2005 12:46 AM

Nope. I totally agree with Joel on this one Jen. I'm sure Small, Chacon and Leiter will be able to maintain this current out of body experience they are going through. Moose always comes up big when it counts, and Leiter can always be counted on in the big spot. I've never said that Boston's rotation was better or the bullpen was far and away the better of the two. Actually, I think more along the lines of "who's going to be worse on any certain day". I will say that Clement, Wells and Arroyo (not to mentino Schilling, who will be back soon) have all beaten NY in big spots. While Leiter was above himself last time, I'm not counting on that again. However, all is for nill if the games mean nothing to Boston. NY should worry about trying to get by Texas and beyond, because if they don't win those games, what will it matter?
Also, FWIW Wells and Clement have shut down the NY offense this season (aside from OD with Wells), so I'm not sure where the high level of optimism comes from Joel when talking about getting to these guys. Jose "batting practice" Contreras came into the park and shut the Yanks down - anyone can.

Posted by: brad at August 11, 2005 12:53 AM

clement lasted 3 innings against the yankees last month and got roughed up real bad........

Posted by: hah at August 11, 2005 08:01 AM

lol. True enough, hah. For some reason, I forgot about that. Probably like when Pavaon started the 17-run game, the bad things always slip out minds.

Posted by: brad at August 11, 2005 08:49 AM

our minds , I meant to say.

Posted by: brad at August 11, 2005 08:50 AM

oh not me lol, im quite aware of how much pavano sucked that game, im sure if the tides were different and the red sox had gotten their way and signed pavano and the yankees were stuck with clement then we would be witnessing pavano shutting down teams and on his way to 20 wins and clement out with a rotator cuff injury.

Posted by: hah at August 11, 2005 09:27 AM

The Yankees are going to win the division.

Posted by: Jason O. at August 11, 2005 09:30 AM

Brad, When a team is going poorly, everything is bad. Aaron Rowand becomes Willie Mays. Freddie Garcia looks like Roger Clemens. And even Jose Contreras (who Larry Lucchino drooled over) pitches well against you.

But when the Yanks are playing well, the likes of Clement, Wells and Arroyo are good for about 5 runs over 4 2/3. And we have all seen that before.

The Red Sox are on a great roll right now. They have been able to overcome very mediocre pitching by hammering out what seems like 10 runs a night. They could win it all again. So could about eight other teams for that matter.

But baseball is a game of streaks. Of the five elite AL teams, no one team is that much better than any other. As Josh pointed out the other day, there are no '76 Reds in this group.

As a Red Sox fan Brad, you should know better than most that if Yanks get on a roll, they are more than capable of pounding the crap out of every team in the league. During their 16-2 run after the 11-19 start, you could hear a collective "Holy Shit!" from Boston to Anaheim.

Yankee fans are just hoping that something clicks in and we get on that roll.

Posted by: Joel at August 11, 2005 09:39 AM

Yankee stats over last 7 days:

Pitching: 2.86 ERA

Offense: .253 BA, .335 OBP.

For all the the talk abt. our awful, horrible pitching, this current lackluster stretch actually has more to do with slumping bats. If we hit our normal .275 this past week, we probably lose just the RJ game. Let's hope we break out big starting tonight.

Posted by: Josh at August 11, 2005 10:44 AM

Two things keep the Yankees from gaining in either race: lack of range in the outfield and Torre's wacky impersonation of Tony LaRussa in his use of his bullpen (except LaRussa at least uses his entire bullpen not just his "guys"). Oh, and add Posada's inability to learn how to block home plate (stop acting like a matador!). Offense goes into slumps, speed and defense do not. Yankess have neither.

Posted by: JohnnyC at August 11, 2005 10:54 AM

This team won 101 games last year with even less speed and the same defense. There is nothing wrong with this team (for the final 50 games) that can't be cured by some timely hitting and continued decent pitching.

Posted by: Joel at August 11, 2005 11:03 AM