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September 22, 2005

September 22nd vs. The Orioles

As this game was coming to a close this evening, all I could think about was how much things have changed this season.

When the year started, I would watch the games thinking that the Yankees would win, and they didn't. After a while, I started watching games hoping that they would win, and sometimes they would - but, sometimes they would lose too.

But, now, I watch the Yankees play and I expect them to win, and, they do - just about every time - regardless if they sputter with the bats in the early innings, or give up runs in the middle of the game, or have pitchers allow runners to reach late in the game. It doesn't seem to matter. They just win. It's incredible.

Lately, it's like watching a movie where you know the hero is going to get the girl, save the day, and be shining at the film's close - it's just that you don't know what's going to happen in between the start and the expected end. And, that's the point to watching the movie - just to see the currents of the story. But, no matter what you see in that "in between" time, it's pure and clear to you all along that the good guy wins at the end - and he does.

How sweet would it be if the Yankees kept this up for 10 more games and into the post-season? It would be like "having just thirty dollars to your name and then winning the Lotto" sweet.

And, in a way, what makes it that sweet is how they are doing it now (in this time of winning).

Of course, if the Yankees manage to win it all this year, people are going to point to their payroll. But, it's not that "payroll" which is entirely responsible for what's happening now - as some large chucks of that (like Brown amd Pavano) have not been contributing to this effort. It's been the Smalls, Wangs, and Chacóns, etc., who have been a bigger part of this turnaround. And, in the grand scheme of things, they're in the "take a penny, leave a penny" dish in terms of the total payroll picture.

To the game today, it was nice to see Mussina shine - although I thought he was going to kill Lawton in the 6th when that ball dropped for a cheap hit. (How has Lawton survived all these years in the bigs being such a butcher with the glove?) And, Posada has been smokin' the last three weeks with the bat. Also, it's good for the scouts to see Sheffield drive the ball (like he did tonight). On the downside, Leiter could have done better - and may have hurt his chance to make a post-season roster.

In the end, while it's obvious that every win is important now, this one was nice for me - because it gives the Yankees a full game lead. As I stated earlier today, it's very important to have a 2-game lead heading into the final weekend of the season. And, before you can have a 2-game lead, you need a one-game lead.

Now, all the Yankees need to do is win one more game than the Red Sox over the next week and they will have that two-game lead heading into that important series in Fenway.

The Yankees magic number is now 10. Any combination of Boston losses and Yankees wins that equal 10 means the Yankees will win the A.L. East. And, there are 10 games to go.

It's hard to believe that on the morning of July 2nd of this year that the Yankees were in 4th place in the A.L. East, with a record of 39-39, six games behind the first place Red Sox. Less than 12 weeks later, here are the Yankees - with a magic number just outside single digits. It's some story, huh? And, as a Yankees fan, it's an even better feeling.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at September 22, 2005 10:28 PM

Comments

I believe we can win 10 games, but I would be happy 9-1. A strategic loss might be good to keep the boys inspired. Although, they look pretty inspired to me!

On a previous post when you asked about whether we liked your blog or not I posted a lengthy positive response. Later it wasn't there. Was it removed?

Scott

Posted by: Scott Coulter at September 22, 2005 11:23 PM

Scott - IIRC, you made that post in the entry of "Sheff Not Returning To Right" and not the one "The State of WasWatching.com" - and, yes, it's there. I only delete SPAM and very, very, very, extremely rude posts. Otherwise, there's no need to take them out.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at September 22, 2005 11:37 PM

"And, in the grand scheme of things, they're in the "take a penny, leave a penny" dish in terms of the total payroll picture."

Wow, what a great line. Fitting for a great win. So how long can we keep this up with absolutely no middle relief? It's unbelievable. They're all gas cans--maybe they can help with the expected fuel shortage? Hopefully Baltimore will be embarassed enough by the sweep and beat the crap out of Boston.

On a relate dnote, has anyone seen this upcoming DVD set: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0009PLM6M/qid=1127447166/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-9280316-5112737?v=glance&s=dvd

I love watching those WS videos, so it'll be nice to upgrade, and the bonus games and features look pretty sweet too. I'd really love to have the Paul O'Neill walk from the 2000 WS game 1 vs. Benitez on DVD, hopefully that finds it's way on the set.

Posted by: JeremyM at September 22, 2005 11:48 PM

Steve --

First time poster, but just wanted to say how much I appreciate/enjoy your blog. It's refreshing to read a Yankee blog that is fresh, original and informative. That being said, I think we take 2 of 3 from the Jays, 3 of 4 from the O's, and sweep....yes, sweep, the Sox. Go Yanks.

Posted by: Mikey I at September 22, 2005 11:49 PM

Sorry to screw up the margins so badly there!

Posted by: JeremyM at September 22, 2005 11:52 PM

Let me just get this out of the way - I'm one of those rare breed of Yanks/Pats fans...okay...

"A strategic loss might be good to keep the boys inspired."

Back when the Pats were on that amazing winning streak I thought that a loss before the playoffs might actually be a good thing just because of the odds. Turns out the didn't lose in the regular season and then went on to win the next 9 (I think) in a row after that.

So hopefully the odds don't catch up with the Yankees and they just keep putting up W's.

Posted by: JJay at September 23, 2005 08:44 AM

Leiter will make the postseason roster. It's either him, Franklin or Embree.

Posted by: Raf at September 23, 2005 09:22 AM

JeremyM - thanks for that link. I may do an entry on that set soon.

Mikey I - few things make my day better than hearing good things from a first time/long timer! Thanks.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at September 23, 2005 09:42 AM

SL, you've captured how tumultuous this season has been, and that we have to fight the tendency to think the Yankees have done anything...they have not. They have only come back from being left for dead twice this year to have a better than average probability of winning the division.

But: Then you think back to 11-20 in May, swept by KC in June, et al and can't help but be excited.

Posted by: Jason O. at September 23, 2005 09:50 AM

I'm excited, and amazed, and doing my best not to get my hopes up too high -- after all, aren't we less than a year from one of the greatest disappointments in Yankee fan-dom history? (I actually still count 1995 Seattle and 2001 Arizona as more painful, for various reasons, but last year was still pretty bad.)

All this winning seems so fragile, I don't want to do anything to ruin it. How's that for magical thinking?

Posted by: Paul in Boston at September 23, 2005 10:51 AM

Re- Paul in Boston:

Funny you brought that up about the three disappointments (95, 01 and 04)...I was just thinking about them, and I agree- I rank the 2004 as the "least painful" of the three.

The Mattingly Factor in 95 and the 9/11 factor in 2001 were worse than the curse being lifted in 2004.....which admittedly is a bit odd.

Good to see that Posada reversed his trend of stinking up the joint in September.

Moose was keeping the ball down, and the Orioles looked more like golfers than ballplayers.

GO TRIBE! Gotta love the Sox losing ground to the division and the WC and not being able to do a damn thing about it!!

a nice scenario tonight- Yanks and Sox both lose (we are due for a loss- better now than later),and the Tribe win..

Posted by: Philly Phil at September 23, 2005 11:10 AM

I know what you're feeling, Steve, I feel it too. I was speechless when the 'pen made a game of it again last night, but I never felt the Yanks wouldn't win.

Anyone else taken a look at Prospectus's post season odds report this morning?

Yanks - Division Champs: 61.64535
Red Sox- Division Champs: 38.35465

I like those odds!

Posted by: Shaun P. at September 23, 2005 11:42 AM

Steve, that feeling you're talking about is the feeling I always got with the '98-00 Yankees. I tell my wife (who I hadn't yet met when the Yankees never lost) that you could be watching the game, and they could be down 6 runs in the 7th, and you KNEW they were going to win that game. And they did, pretty much every time, and certainly every time that it counted. It was the most amazing thing I've ever really seen in sports, and for the last 2 weeks the '05 version of the team has re-captured its glory. Here's hoping it lasts until November.

Posted by: DFLNJ at September 23, 2005 12:57 PM

They really have come together as a team and have that confidence that you need to win. It's a good sign.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at September 23, 2005 01:53 PM

I don't know about comparing this team to the '98-00 teams. Sure, we have looked great recently and I'm as excited/hopeful as anyone. But in the words of Alan Greenspan, let us not succumb to irrational exuberance. Some of the reason we have looked so good is because we are playing bad teams. The Yanks are simply beating the teams they should beat, which they didn't do early this year and which the Sox are not doing now. So I'm hopeful and expectant, yes, but trying to keep things in perspective. (Remember a lot of people on this blog were ready to absolutley kill this team after the TB debacle).

Posted by: Josh at September 23, 2005 02:18 PM

Without question - and I was leading the charge.

But, this team, in the last three weeks or so, looks like a different team now, no?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at September 23, 2005 03:05 PM