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Dirty Dozen
2008-09-08 22:16
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees looked like they might have something going against Jon Garland early in last night's game. Johnny Damon led off with a single up the middle. Derek Jeter followed with a walk. After Bobby Abreu ground into a fielder's choice, Alex Rodriguez dropped an opposite-field flare in front of Vlad Guerrero to plate Damon. Jason Giambi got ahead of Garland 3-1, but the Angels starter came back to strike him out on a called strike down and in for the second out. Xavier Nady reached on a Baltimore chop to loaded the bases, but Garland got Hideki Matsui to ground out weakly to strand all three runners.

That was all the Yankees would get. After Robinson Cano led off the second with a single, Garland retired 12 men in a row, taking him through the fifth. Meanwhile, the Angels tied the game on a manufactured run in the bottom of the first when Chone Figgins singled, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sac fly. They then took the lead in the third when infield prospect Brandon Wood led off with a solo homer off Carl Pavano.

The Yankees finally got back on base against Garland in the sixth when Bobby Abreu led off with a four-pitch walk, but Alex Rodriguez erased Abreu with a 6-4-3 double play. Jason Giambi tried to reboot the inning with a ground-rule double, but Xavier Nady grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.

Then the roof fell in. Rookie second baseman Sean Rodriguez led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo homer off Pavano. A hit batsman, a single, and a groundout plated another run, ending Pavano's night after 75 pitches. Dan Giese came on, fell behind Vlad Guerrero 3-0, got two strikes on foul balls, then gave up a monster two-run jack that ran the score to 6-1.

Torii Hunter followed that homer with a single then stole second and third around a walk to Juan Rivera. When Mike Napoli grounded to third, Hunter broke for home, but he was out by a good 20 feet. Hunter slowed his momentum as he approached Rodriguez, who tagged him out while standing in front of the batting circle, but Hunter still dipped his shoulder a bit and made solid contact with the Yankee catcher. As he proceeded behind Rodriguez, Hunter slipped on Napoli's bat and bumped into Rodriguez's back. Rodriguez, already a bit miffed that Hunter didn't slow up even more than he did, answered back by elbowing the Angel center fielder out of his way as he walked the ball back toward the pitcher's mound. Hunter took offense to Rodriguez's elbow, ran up and shoved Rodriguez in the back igniting a bases-clearing scrum that saw little action, but got both players ejected.

Moments later back in the dugout, Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland, who had been in the middle of the scrum, passed out and fell off the dugout bench. Eiland immediately regained consciousness and was able to walk back to the trainers room with the help of some of his players, but no one really knew why he had fainted. After Wood singled home two more runs to make it 8-1, Girardi went out to the mound to replace Giese with Edwar Ramirez and could be seen explaining to his players that Eiland just flopped over and that he had no idea why. Fortunately, after being examined by one of the Angels' doctors, Eiland was given a clean bill of health.

Said Girardi after the game, "He's been fighting a cold, and he worked out hard this morning, and I think last time he ate was 1:00, and he took some medicine during the game. He got lightheaded and dizzy and passed out, but he's okay now."

The Rodriguez/Hunter affair also had a happy ending, as the two apologized to one another and hugged it out after the game. Said Hunter of the incident, "The ghetto came out. I hate that."

That just left the Yankees to wallow in what swelled to a 12-1 humiliation at the hands of the Angels, who could clinch the AL West tonight with a win and a Rangers' loss. The Yankees are playing the role of jobber to the hilt.

Comments
2008-09-09 05:32:41
1.   OldYanksFan
Without being snide, there is something seriously wrong with this team, to play so poorly, that has nothing to do with team construction or their physical ability. Is it possible to 'choke' for an entire season? It's as if this team is literally cursed. Each new day surprises me with how bad they look.

If the Dodgers with their division with a .500 record, will people claim Torre lead them to the PS?

I under the reason for divisional play is to rey and achieve more parity, especially over the wealth of the Northeast. But there is no excuse for the poor play of the NL West. La and SF and not exactly small market teams. To allow a team with the 7th best record (out of 16) into the playoffs is a sham.

2008-09-09 05:33:22
2.   rbj
I only watched the top half of the first inning. Jeez, only one run out of that? Looks like deja vu all over again.
2008-09-09 05:35:13
3.   OldYanksFan
Wow... morning typos and proof-reading.
WIN their division.... I underSTAND... TRY and achieve... ARE not exactly.
2008-09-09 05:53:14
4.   Knuckles
I was a little sports'ed out from the Giants game Thursday, M's series, and a weekend of football, so I turned the game off after 2 innings. So I was disappointed to read about the "fight", more disappointed to hear about the 12-1 loss, and angry about Girardi finding some solace in the supposed feistiness.

Is that honestly what this season has sunk to, looking on the bright side of a slap fight? Pathetic.

This team seems to just go through the motions more than half the time of late. I hope to hell I'm just imagining things, because if they come out of the gate slowly next year with an attitude like this, it's gonna be a long-ass inaugural season for the new ballpark.

2008-09-09 06:33:58
5.   Shaun P
Sweet - another loss! Yanks now have the 18th worst record in MLB. They still need help, but the 15th worst record certainly seems attainable. Hopefully the Dodgers and the D'back both go on big winning streaks - that will make it a lot easier.
2008-09-09 06:58:46
6.   The Hawk
1 Of course they're cursed. How was the Curse of the Bambino "reversed"? By a certain "best player ever" narrowly missing becoming a Red Sox and instead going to the Yanks. When did this happen, you ask? Why 2004 of course, the year of the most embarrassing and horrible moment in Yankees history, as they choke choke choked the ALCS away. And ... it's been a shit sandwich ever since.

Yes it's true: If curses exist, A-Rod is one.

2008-09-09 07:09:02
7.   Chyll Will
I dunno, has Girardi always been a guy that makes excuses like banks make change, or is it something that the present organizational environment does to people? I swear I almost wish he'd say SOMETHING sarcastic or aggressive, at least that would be entertaining. But that would likely disrupt the business model, so...

As much as I'd like Moose to win his 20th, I'd also accept another reason for him to decide not to come back on his own; the way it seems right now, Moose would end up being the ace of the staff next year, Wang or no Wang.

Anyone wanna play that game where we guess which moment in the season was the key moment when the season went down the tubes? I say there were at least four to consider:

- Wang's injury and subsequent shutdown
- Jeter getting plunked in the wrist during a relative hot streak
- A-Rod was spotted with Madonna (and subsequently lost his wife and mojo, ironic that kaballah was perhaps involved?)
- Any one of Girardi's wtf-inducing decisions that backfired that even reporters questioned and he responded defensively about.

NOT excuses, mind you, just key moments when you probably saw this coming. Anyone game?

2008-09-09 07:11:31
8.   JohnnyC
6 Actually, I think RLYW has it right: it's the Curse of Clay Bellinger. Check it out. We haven't won a championship since we cut him. Shame, because he still had a couple of more seasons of all-around suckitude to offer. He was the kind of team-player who every team needs to not ever play, just sit in the dugout, like a rabbit's foot. I'm sure Torre and Zimmer rubbed his head for good luck before every playoff game. They tried rubbing Cairo's head for good luck. All they got was razor burn.
2008-09-09 07:21:48
9.   ms october
2 that's as far as i made it too as well - too bad that was so misleading (or maybe not, strikeout and weak ground ball with risp is par for the course)

7 i agree with you on jeter being hit and wang getting hurt as far as two of the biggest longterm factors.

i guess for me the major turning point when i thought it was inevitable for the season to go south was joba's injury in texas.
another moment that looking back on was a crucial crap point might be the sunday night loss to boston at the end of july - they went on to lose 2/3 to bal and have mostly played poorly since then.
and the wtf giradi moment has to be the min game when he sat damon and giambi in the midst of a rough road trip.

2008-09-09 07:22:43
10.   Eirias
5 Is there a particular draftee we are hoping for at 15? Or is that simply a measure of how badly we suck?
2008-09-09 07:26:11
11.   Chyll Will
6 ,8 If you believe in that, I would make a case for Zim putting a curse on the team; they haven't appeared in a WS since he left (even when they could have; 2004 had to have brought a serious measure of satisfaction for him).

Steinbrenner, fully back in the saddle and looking for the annual scapegoat, focused on him throughout the 2003 season and Zim quit in frustration afterwards. If it were me, I'd have a few curses on the way out, too.

2008-09-09 07:30:09
12.   williamnyy23
7 I said it at the time, so I am going with (1) Wang's injury. I know that the offense has been the problem, but right around the injury, everything seemed to be falling into place. You had Joba, Wang and Mussina doing well and the bats seemed to be picking up. Then, Wang goes down and you are staring at Ponson and Rasner every 5th day. I can't help but think some of the players took the field with the same feelings of trepidation that we had as fans. All of a sudden, hitters start to press, then fall into slumps and before you know it everything snowballs.

The Yankees coaching staff, including Girardi, was completely let off the hook for Wang's injury (including by most people here). I, however, think it was an easily avoidable circumstance. If not Meacham on his own, then Girardi should have reminded all his coaches before every NL series that the pitchers were not to do anything more than run the bases station-to-station. Instead, Wang was waved home to a potential play at the plate and pulled up lame in the process.

It's not exactly throwing Josh Johnson after a rain delay, but I think Girardi deserves some of the blame for Wang's injury. Unlike Hank, I don't think the manager has done the best he can do. He has been as much a contributor to this season's demise as most players.

The scary thing for me is that Girardi is now management's guy. They have way too much of a stake in his success. If Girardi fails, so do they. As long as Torre stays in LA, it will be hard for the Steinbrothers to divorce themselves from Girardi. Personally, I have seen enough to seriously consider dismissing Girardi after this season. Not only has he been a very poor in-game manager, but now it appears as if the guys he has believed in so much have quit.

2008-09-09 07:31:05
13.   Chyll Will
10 If we badly sucked, I'd be almost excited about the draft pick we'd get next season (even if I'd be nervous about what Cash & Co. would do with it), but I fear long-term mediocrity more than one or two really bad seasons.
2008-09-09 07:31:32
14.   williamnyy23
10 The 15th pick is protected...so the Yankees wouldn't lose it if they sign a Type-A free agent.
2008-09-09 07:39:06
15.   Schteeve
We're seriously talking about curses?
2008-09-09 07:44:09
16.   JohnnyC
13 Do you blame Cashman for not signing Gerrit Cole? The pick itself was universally lauded. It was Mr. Cole who misled the Yankees about his son's signability. Even Scott Boras was taken by surprise. Damon Oppenheimer didn't know about Cole's decision until he was on the plane to California.
2008-09-09 07:44:32
17.   Schteeve
Also, regarding Girardi,

1) you have to give him another season. Yes, the Yankees are no juggernaut, but this 4th place finish has fluke written all over it, and yes he made some pretty weird decisions like sitting Giambi against any lefthander for like 2 months even though at the time G was raking against lhp. But overall, I think Joe managed the bullpen pretty well, and he had to manage around month long (or longer) injuries to A-Rod, Matsui, Joba, Wang, and Posada. Nothing Joe girardi is gonna do is going to make up for the lost production from those dudes, especially Posada's.

That for me was the moment the season went to hell, when Posada got hurt, and what, wasn't that opening day?

The most concerning thing I saw Girardi do all year, was the weird platoon he constructed with G and Sexson. Should never have been allowed to happen.

Finally, I thouhgt at the time, that the Marte acquisition was unnecessary, and in hindsight it looks even worse. I can't belive I'd rather have Farnsworth and no Pudge or Marte, but that's where I sit right now.

Good god, what an awful season.

2008-09-09 07:45:40
18.   Schteeve
than, not or.
2008-09-09 07:46:54
19.   Chyll Will
15 What's your take on 7 , Burning Man? >;)
2008-09-09 07:49:28
20.   monkeypants
12 Wang's injury has been serious, presumably, although given the Ponson's record (around .500, no?) I'm not so sure it had the negative impact we all expected.

In any case, how do you figure that Wang's injury meant Ponson AND Rasner every five days? Or did you mean Ponson or Rasner every five days?

Indeed, Rasner had already been in the starting rotation for weeks before Wang's injury in mid-June, so the problems indeed ran deep.

2008-09-09 07:51:40
21.   Just fair
The Yanks have not won the World Series in each year that I have been married. So obviously the ol' lady and I are at the root of the problem. : )
2008-09-09 07:52:06
22.   monkeypants
9 I dunno...maybe in spring training when Jorge had "dead arm" and Girardi assured us that he only needed to rest for a "couple of days."
2008-09-09 07:53:35
23.   cocorn
"i agree with you on jeter being hit and wang getting hurt as far as two of the biggest longterm factors."

It's pretty amazing that at this point people are still pointing to injuries as an excuse. Every team has injuries. The yankees have been much healthier than the red sox over the past 2 months and have still sucked.

Since every team has injuries, exactly what does it take for the blind to simply admit the yankees weren't very good this year? Underperformance, old players, no center fielder...

If the yankees were in 2nd, 4 games out of first, injuries might be part of the problem. 4th place isn't because of injuries. 4th place is a bad baseball team, and that's what the yankees were this year.

2008-09-09 07:54:18
24.   monkeypants
Somewhat more seriously, if I had to pinpoint a moment when the season went down the tubes, it had to be after the winning streak after the All Star Game. Even then there was hope that the team had a shot at overcoming all of the injuries, and the trade deadline deals looked very, very promising at the time.
2008-09-09 07:55:33
25.   Chyll Will
16 Not at all, and I speculated at the time that not signing Cole had more to do with what was going through Cole's mind rather than what Cash wouldda-couldda-shouldda. If the kid wanted to go to college (and his father allegedly advised this), how do you blame the GM?

I'm more concerned about the recent emphasis on acquiring high-ceiling, but injured pitchers who may not contribute if at all for years. I think I understand the logic, but it's a bigger gamble than most believe.

That said, is it due to our draft position or to the emphasis on pitching that we don't have quality position players coming soon (Austin Jackson being maybe a year away is our closest option.)

2008-09-09 07:56:35
26.   Chyll Will
19 Never mind, Schteeve, ya beat me to the punch >;)
2008-09-09 07:56:45
27.   williamnyy23
20 I am taking more of a psychology angle. Before Wang went down, you had Rasner in the rotation, but any team can leave with a shaky 5th starter, especially when you have the reliability of Moose, Joba, Wang and even Andy. When Wang went down, however, now the team was looking at two very shaky starters (I am trying to be kind). That can't help but dampen a team's outlook. Not only can I see why the offense would press behind those two (we have to score a lot of runs today), but I can also see why they'd carry that into the other games (we'd better win with Moose, Joba or Andy on the mound).

I just think that Wang's injury changed the feeling about this team. It's almost as if the thought that the Yankees wouldn't come back first crept into the players' minds. I know that's about when I seriously started to consider an October without Yankee baseball.

2008-09-09 07:59:16
28.   williamnyy23
25 I think it's more a matter of draft position. Late in the first round all of the stud position players have been taken, but one or two top arms seems to fall sue to injury or signability concerns.
2008-09-09 08:00:43
29.   Bama Yankee
7 I'll go with Wang's injury as the turning point. Even though the early struggles of Hughes and Kennedy was the groundbreaking ceremony for the hole that the team has found themselves in, the Wang injury was the first time I think they realized they were in over their head.
2008-09-09 08:01:34
30.   JohnnyC
25 Draft position. Also, the most valuable trade assets are pitching prospects and catching prospects. Unlike Oakland or Tampa Bay for example we don't have 6-10 years to rebuild our team completely through the draft and international free agents. The draft strategy since 2005 has been to develop pitchers to: fill out the rotation, build a cost-effective and renewable bullpen, and package the surplus for position player needs. You can debate whether they've been successful but that was the idea.
2008-09-09 08:13:17
31.   JohnnyC
This is really water under the bridge but if the Yankees had only drafted moderately well in the period 1996 - 2004, we wouldn't be tearing our hair out right now. The abject failure of the organization to produce more than the handful of major league players they did was what doomed the Yankees to this glacial and inevitable decline from 2001 on.
2008-09-09 08:15:11
32.   rbj
21 Please get divorced then.
2008-09-09 08:17:43
33.   Chyll Will
32 We can blame the Yanks for the rising divorce rate in the U.S. >;) or do what we normally do and blame A-Rod...
2008-09-09 08:20:04
34.   williamnyy23
31 Knowing what we know now, I'd still sign up for the Yankees "glacial decline" over any other teams performance since 2001.
2008-09-09 08:23:32
35.   Shaun P
14 And they can't lose. I think, but I am not sure, that they also do not lose a second round or any subsequent picks either.

With the 15th pick (will be 16th in number due to the Nats getting pick 9A for not signing Aaron Crow) and the 29A pick (the 31st pick again thanks to the Nats).

The last time the Yanks had 2 1st round picks (not including the supplemental round) was 1978, when they had 3 picks (Rex Hudler, Matt Winters, and some guy named Brian Ryder; Bye-Bye Balboni was the 2nd round pick). (Ignore what MLB.com says, Joba, Marquez, Poterson, Sardinha, and Skaggs were all supplemental picks.)

I won't dream that Abreu, Marte, and I-Rod all are Type A free agents that sign with teams who pick after the Yanks.

No guarantee on 1st round picks ever becoming anything, but the fastest way to inject some hitting talent into the upper levels, since no one seems inclined to trade it, is to draft it. The more early picks, the better.

2008-09-09 08:59:39
36.   Schteeve
If we're going to accept for a moment that the team psychology is partly to blame for their crap results, I would say that IPK and Hughes struggling out of the gate could have seriously shattered the team's confidence.

You had a bunch of old vets that were told, you aren't going to get Santana, because that was the way of the Old Yankees, this is a new era. We are going with youth and it's gonna be HOT.

Then the kids suck beyond belief and the vets look around and go...'we're f**ed.' Then everyone get's hurt, and they look around and go 'we're really f**ed!'

A-Rod would have had to outdo his 2007 season and be the clutchiest clutch mother clutcher ever to swing a bat, in order to carry the team, and he couldn't do it.

The team never appeared confident to me this season. Maybe that's egg - chicken, but there was not for a moment any swagger. They never looked like a contender to me.

I will now go back to being coldly rational and beholden to EQA and the belief that there is no such thing as confidence, or chemistry.

2008-09-09 09:38:21
37.   Chyll Will
35 I was thinking along similar lines, and I came up with these interesting notes:

The last time the Yanks Rule 4 drafted a player in the 1st round who had any impact in the MLB (outside of IPK, which is still in question) was Eric Milton (20th overall, 1996).

Before him, Jeter was the last player to have a major impact (6th overall, 1992).

Right before him, Brien Taylor was the last Yankee Rule 4 draft pick to be chosen #1 overall (and we all know what happened with him)

The last certifiable HOF player chosen by the Yanks before Jeter in Rule 4 was some guy named John Albert Elway (2nd rnd, 52nd overall 1981; albeit HOF in a different league). Btw, 318/.432/.464 with an OPS of .896 in 42 games/151 ABs and 8 OF assists for Oneonta in 1982.

The only strong impact players the Yankees have chosen over the years in the first round of the Rule 4 draft are:

Derek Jeter
Thurman Munson
Ron Bloomberg (debatable)

Yanks Rule 4 1st round picks Honorable Mention

Scott McGregor (14th, 1972)
Pat Tabler (16th 1976)
*Rex Hudler (18th, 1978)
John Elway (see above)
Carl Everett (10th, 1990)

Not including recent Rule 4s Hughes and IPK; they are works in progress. If anyone cares to, they can do a Rule 5 draft comparison >;)

*notable because he was chosen before Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb (Toronto), Mike Marshall and Steve Sax (Los Angeles), Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mike Boddicker (Baltimore), Kirk Gibson (Detroit), Kent Hrbek (Minnesota), Ryne Sandberg (Cubs) and Hubie Brooks (New York Mets).

2008-09-09 09:48:59
38.   Chyll Will
37 Oops, strike Lloyd Moseby (2nd overall), Hubie Brooks (3rd) and Kirk Gibson (12th), add Steve Bedrosian (3rd Round) >;)
2008-09-09 10:41:11
39.   The Hawk
As far as when the season went south, I think all the moments mentioned were nails in the coffin. However, the writing was on the wall when Hughes and Kennedy got off to such awful, awful, awful starts. When 2/3 of your starting rotation is that bad, then disappears, you're screwed.

But the team did get its legs under it again ... then Wang went down. Huge. As someone else said, it's the psychological aspect more than anything else. In that regard, Jeter's un-Jeter-like play following the wrist injury also added to the problem.

And yes the final nail in the coffin was Chamberlain going down. Here we had a bright light after all the mishaps, and the team had picked up the pace after the All-Star break. Once Joba was gone, they never really recovered.

2008-09-09 14:04:24
40.   ny2ca2dc
7 First game of the year, when Po got hurt. OKOK you're asking when the season really ended, so the answer to that has got to be the fractured Wang. But losing Po in the first week was the harbinger.

No Po injury, no Wang injury, the Yanks are right there in it, even with the sundry other misdeeds.

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