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October 10, 2005

October 10th @ The Angels

I cannot help but wonder if things might have been different if the Yankees had the home field in this ALDS. And, I wonder if Joe and Stein are wondering that now too?

5-3. Soooooooo close. Worse than close considering that the Yankees had so many chances in this game. Hey, at least they went down fighting (even the Big Unit) - with the possible exception of A-Rod.

Hey, it's Game 5 of a best-of-five, the 9th inning, and you bring the tying run to the plate with no outs - that's being in it, to me. Of course, then that potential tying run hits into a DP and kills the chance for a comeback - that was clearly possible, as the singles by the next two batters showed. (Was there any doubt that A-Rod would K, or worse, in that 9th inning - based on his ALDS performance this year, to date?)

Again, man, just two lousy runs short. What a tough loss. Basically, the loss tonight was because:

1. After the Yankees catch a break with the Angels Ace, Colon, pulling a David Wells of 2003, they do next to nothing against a 22-year-old rookie with an ERA of 4.65. They allowed this kid to bend but not break for the span of the 2nd inning through the 6th inning. In fact, the Yankees, if they were to win this game (and the series) should have pounded this kid out of the game by the 4th inning - at the worst. This is unacceptable.

2. So much for the Mussina plan. Maybe he should have stayed with the team this week? Actually, the 3rd inning mess didn't bother me that much - the Angels were Wee Willie Keelering Moose to death that inning. What can you do? But, the 2nd inning - that was vintage Princess and the Pea Mussina. He sat for a long time in the top of the 2nd. And, I'm sure he allowed that to throw him off for the bottom of the 2nd. Again, for a game like this, allowing your guard to drop after a long half-inning is unacceptable.

3. The Yankees bats lost this game in the 5th and 7th innings. In the 5th, New York had runners on 1st and 2nd, with no outs and their 4-5-6 hitters coming up! What happened? No runs. Unacceptable - yet again. Further, in the 7th, New York had a runner on 2nd with one out and their clean-up hitter (Sheffield) and 5th batter (Matsui) due up. What happened? Two straight pop-ups and the end of the inning.

4. Defense. Like just about every game this series, the Angels turn hits into outs while the Yankees turn outs into base runners. That Crosby-Sheffield crash reminded me of Blair-Reggie collision back on May 12,1978 (when A.O. went inside the park). Sad part is, even without the crash, I don't think Sheffield makes the grab there.

I noticed something tonight. Anytime that a ball his hit to Giambi, and he has to throw it, I scream out "Oh, no!" as an unconscious reflex (because I know what is going to happen). And, anytime a ball is hit to Erstad on the Angels, I scream "Oh, no!" because he's making a play to get an out. That's the difference in these teams. (And, is it just me, or, does Erstad remind you of Trot Nixon enough to make you want to hate him?)

Anyway, instead of spending Tuesday AM thinking about the match-up of the Yankees with the White Sox, now, I'll spend a portion of the day thinking about why this Yankees team needs to be broken up and rebuilt - because it is obvious that this Yankees team, circa 2002-2005, is not built to win in the post-season.

And, maybe a clue to what the problem is can be found when we're watching El Duque, Pettitte, Contreras and Clemens battle in the World Series?

Then again, maybe the Angels will win it all? I picked them to win last year and was shocked when Boston knocked them out. And, every team, since 2001, who has beaten the Yankees in the post-season has gone on to take the ring.

Actually, the Angels are going to be around for a while. They have at least 20 hotshot prospects in the minors - really, that many. The Yankees better start thinking up ways to beat them, if they want to get back into the World Series.

OK, in the end, think of it this way - it's not a tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake. There are people in the world now dealing with that stuff. How can anyone allow a baseball team to get them down for too long when there are other things out there that could happen - and that are potential life-and-death matters?

This is just a fun pastime. Hang in there. Soon enough, there will more Yankees events to get our minds off the ALDS of 2005 and allow it to become a fun pastime again.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 10, 2005 11:54 PM


Word. It's just baseball. I'm going to sleep tonight in a horrible mood but it will have passed by the time Andy and Roger are World Champs again.

I just hope that the Yankee news this winter DOESN'T include the following:

1) Firing Joe Torre. He's not perfect but he's as close to perfect as they get for us. Sweet Lou IS NOT a better choice here. He sabotaged his own season in Tampa. Why would we want a quitter like that?

2) Letting Matsui walk. He had a crap ALDS and his fielding was uncharacteristically shoddy but he's still .300/25/100 and hits great at Fenway.

3) The typical Steinbrenner reactionary behavior a la 2001, 2002 and 2003. I don't want those dimwits in Tampa look at our putrid offense this ALDS and decide that we're missing offense. The offense failed us, yes, but we need middle relief much much more.

Posted by: MJ at October 11, 2005 12:56 AM

I called him A-Fraud long ago and he is. Trade him for pitching.

Sheffield has one year remaining, then good-bye. Is that okay, Doc?

Mussina has two years remaining with a buyout for 2007. Goodbye not soon enough.

Posted by: Don at October 11, 2005 01:15 AM

A-Rod is ours, come on, he stunk but he was one of many, and we get nowhere without him. At least he did draw walks, Matsui gave us nothing.

But I still can't excuse that fuckin' double-play. I'm telling you K-Rod was ready to choke and we loosened the grip for him.

Posted by: JeremyM at October 11, 2005 01:47 AM

We've lost a few series at home, dunno if HFA would have helped. Especially when our big bats all cold cold at the same time.

Agree about Clemens & Pettitte vs. Contreras & El Duque in the WS.

Posted by: rbj at October 11, 2005 08:12 AM

Maybe, just maybe, with the HFA, the 22-year old rookie gets rattled with the crowd. It's a reach, but, it could have been a help. Then again, if this game was in the Bronx, the reaction to the A-Rod DP in the 9th, from the fans, would have sent Alex looking for a 3rd shrink.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at October 11, 2005 09:20 AM

If last night's game was in the Bronx the riot police would've had to come out after that bullshit call by Joe West.

Posted by: Jen at October 11, 2005 09:44 AM

It was a terrible call. Joe West screwed Cano twice in the span of 4 days. But Joe West did his job to the best of his abilities. The same cannot be said of Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez. If two of them bothered showing up, we would've won this series in 3 games. If just one of them showed up, we would've won last night.

Enough about the Yanks, it's football season. The Giants may suck one like they always do but at least I know they're trying.

Posted by: MJ at October 11, 2005 09:50 AM

(Was there any doubt that A-Rod would K, or worse, in that 9th inning - based on his ALDS performance this year, to date?)
I would rather the K than a GIDP.

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 10:02 AM



Joe West Advances to ALCS

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 10:10 AM

The better team won. The Angels executed. The Yankees did not.

I don't see Houston getting past the Cards. If the Sox keep up their level of play, it could be a great WS with STL-CHI. Somehow I think ANA-STL would fizzle, but who knows?

Matsui doesn't worry me. He's slumping, not choking. A-Rod on the other hand...Jeter came through we really needed him, as did Johnson. Mussina was about as expected. At least Torre had a backup plan. What were we saving Wang for, though? Beer-league softball game?

Posted by: hopbitters at October 11, 2005 10:36 AM

Good points there.

In a game like this, once the starter allows three runs, he should be out. Leaving Moose in to allow 5 is questionable - 'tho, again, I can see the point that they were not hitting him hard.

Houston's going to win the WS. They're the Wildcard. Wildcards always win the Series these days.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at October 11, 2005 11:36 AM

too bad Lou Pinella was not managing last night.

He would have cursed, kicked dirt, cut off that bum ump Joe West's head and spit in his neck.

He might have even got thrown out of the game and woke up the team by doing so.

Instead we got a response equivalent to a boring blob of oatmeal. Time to retire Number 6 to the left field wall.

PS Someone tell Cano that when the season is on the line you don't steal 2nd base at 50% of full speed!

Posted by: 3dsteve at October 11, 2005 11:46 AM

I don't see how anyone could really want Lou Piniella managing the Yanks. He's a loudmouth who isn't above showing up his players. That might be OK in Tampa where there are no stars to irritate but the last thing the Yankee clubhouse needs is an ego as big as the ones on the field. Torre is a calming presence, not an irritating one. And based on how Sweet Lou sabotaged himself this year just to get fired/prove a point, he cannot be trusted ever again with a serious ballclub. You don't think the fans/media/ownership group won't egg him on for quotes/reactions that may cause him to blow a gasket? We don't need a volatile guy in there, we need a politician like Joe.

Posted by: MJ at October 11, 2005 12:05 PM

First off, Steve, thanks for providing everyone with this forum...in my opinion you have the best Yankees blog in existence, incisive, impassioned, and, of course, nicely laconic. I'm with you, Steve(and, gulp, Chris Russo). Not having home field by basically throwing it away on the last Sunday of the season proved to be very, very costly. I'm sick of discussing Torre's "managing" and I'm 99% sure George will not fire him (money issues above anything)but his belief that a) home field is over-rated and b) Mike Mussina's experience trumps keeping hot starters on regular rest (could have thrown Chacon, Wang, Johnson and Moose on 4+ days rest in sequence)magnified the travel difficulties and minimized the number of innings the best pitchers on the team could contribute to this series. As much as the Yankees' clutch failures and flawed defense, this sealed our fate. Ignoring the fallacy of the predetermined outcome, you're right, Steve, it would have been quite different for Santana had that been Yankee Stadium last night. Whatever. I'm ready for the off-season. I predict Cashman will return and the Yankees will rely on more internal solutions than free agents or big-name trades. Just have a feeling.

Posted by: JohnnyC at October 11, 2005 01:14 PM

BTW, this is all the fault of Damon Oppenheimer. At least that's what Bill Madden is reporting. Seems they found a voodoo doll with ARod's likeness under his bed, filled with needles. Big, long, sharp ones. :)

Posted by: JohnnyC at October 11, 2005 01:19 PM

LOL Johnny!

Posted by: Steve Lombardi at October 11, 2005 01:41 PM

Alex Rodriguez is 6-43 the last nine post season games.

As Earl Weaver famously said: If you're going to hit into a DP have the good sense to strikeout.

The Yankees had 26 BB's and still couldn't win.

Posted by: Don at October 11, 2005 02:30 PM

He might have even got thrown out of the game and woke up the team by doing so.

Sorry, if it takes something like that to "wake a team" up instead of the position they're in, then they need to find a different line of work.

It was a terrible game last night. A failure on the hitting, fielding and baserunning side.

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 02:35 PM

I don't know why but I keep coming back to this quote by Bernie: "It's very hard to always expect to do the things we're supposed to do as a team," Williams said.

What is this? I realize that the only reason we have these expectations is in large part due to Bernie, but come on. I'm sick of guys whining about the expectations and how tough it is. These are the Yankees. You play to win here. Right or wrong, that's how it is. I think the team will be a lot better on and off the field without Bernie, he fit in well with the previous dynasty, but I don't think he's ever did well assuming any kind of leadership role, from what I can tell. Wasn't it on this blog earlier that said someone really didn't like Bernie, Rivera or somebody? Don't get me wrong, he's been a class act and I love the guy, but there comes a time to end everything.

Posted by: JeremyM at October 11, 2005 02:44 PM

I'm ready for the off-season. I predict Cashman will return and the Yankees will rely on more internal solutions than free agents or big-name trades. Just have a feeling.
2 more rounds, I'm not ready yet (:

I don't know of many internal solutions to the bullpen & CF. The free agent crop's kinda thin, and the Yanks don't have much to trade. If they do, it'll be something like a slop swap.

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 02:45 PM

I'm sick of guys whining about the expectations and how tough it is.

I haven't seen anyone whining. It's a statement of fact. It is very hard to win it all, it's very hard to repeat. WRT the Yanks, the bar is set so high that it's impossible to maintain that level.

There hasn't been a team repeat as champs since the 1998-2000 Yanks. Before that, the 1992-1993 Blue Jays. Look how quickly the Sox were bounced. The D-Backs and the Marlins didn't even make the playoffs the year after they won.

With the expanded playoffs, it's a crapshoot. Even more so, when your team plays like crap

"Leadership" in this context is overrated. Who needs to be led on this team? Who needs an example set? The Yanks aren't winning because the pitching/hitting/defense fails at a crucial time. It's not because they don't have a "Paul O'Neill" or they don't "show any heart" (did people forget that a week to go in the season, they were for all intents and purposes, dead?).

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 02:56 PM

When I saw all of those guys sitting on the bench, hands in coats, staring straight ahead, down by only 2 with at bats left in the game, that to me shows a lot about something being missing from the team. Yes, repeating is tough, no doubt. The way I read that quote is whining from Bernie. I guess it's hard to say since it's not in context at all.

Posted by: JeremyM at October 11, 2005 03:28 PM

I think they should just give center to Bubba and let it fill in at a later date- there just isn't enough out there to bother with. We carried Brosius at 3rd for 4 years, when he only played one year at the level needed for a third-baseman with the bat. No reason we can't do it in center. I think our starting rotation will be OK, we need to focus on the bullpen obviously.

Posted by: JeremyM at October 11, 2005 03:31 PM

I want Chacon in the rotation. But we have RJ, Moose, Wright and Pavano under contract. So where would that leave Wang? I'd also like Small to be in the 'pen and I'd love to have Ryan on the team.

Posted by: JJay at October 11, 2005 04:39 PM

Wright or Pavano should be sent to Pine Meadows. I don't think they'll be any good here. Especially Pavano, supposedly he told people he should've signed with the Tigers. Small deserves a shot, although I don't think he can do it again--can he?

Posted by: JeremyM at October 11, 2005 04:56 PM

JJay, I wouldn't be surprised if they try to unload Pavano or Wright.

Posted by: Jen at October 11, 2005 04:59 PM

Or, uh, what Jeremy said.

Posted by: Jen at October 11, 2005 05:02 PM

I want Chacon in the rotation. But we have RJ, Moose, Wright and Pavano under contract. So where would that leave Wang? I'd also like Small to be in the 'pen and I'd love to have Ryan on the team.

RJ, Moose, Wang, Chacon, Small/Wright/Pavano.

Assuming one of the three goes to the pen (Small, for argument's sake), that leaves Wright/Pavano.

There's a good chance NY may unload one of the two. (I'd say Wright's contract's easier to move) If not, it's only a matter of time before Moose, RJ, Wright or Pavano goes down with an injury.

Posted by: Raf at October 11, 2005 05:43 PM

while I don't think it's the perfect solution, I'd buy Bubba in CF for a dollar. It's all about pitching anyway...and a decent offensive gameplan. Strangely enough, Torre alluded to this himself when he commented that the pitches that Yankees hitters swung through trying to "drive" the ball, the Angels' batters made contact with, forcing the action. With a deep pitching staff, excellent defense and an opportunistic offense are the keys to winning in a short series. If I were the Yankees' front office, pitching solutions would be my priority...either via trade, free agency, or the farm system. Pitching is king. Great pitching can make you forgive failures in the clutch.

Posted by: JohnnyC at October 11, 2005 11:02 PM

Bubba doesn't hit enough to be a full-time CF. He's your 4th OF.

If I'm the Yankee GM, I'm looking to

1. Get out from either Pavano's or Wright's contract
2. Find a CF'er
3. Rebuild the bullpen
4. Strengthen the bench
5. Find rotation filler (You already have 5 starters & a swingman)

The infield is set, ARod-Jeter-Cano-Giambi aren't going anywhere. The outfield a little less so, with only Sheffield under contract for next year (I do expect Matsui to be resigned). You already have 7 starters, or pitchers capable of starting. I'm sure someone will be signed, as well as there'll be someone who'll show up in spring training.

I'm pretty sure the team that lost Monday will pretty much be the team that reports to Spring Training in February.

Posted by: Raf at October 12, 2005 08:24 AM