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Chicken Little Anyone?
2005-04-16 20:57
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Coming Sunday to a New York newspaper near you: How the Yankees stink, let us count the ways. Meet the Mets, folks, the boys out in Queens are exciting, and vibrant, while the Yanks are old, flat and dull. Or words to that effect. You know the routine.

Yo, Saturday's game was truly awful. It was the first time all year that I've been truly upset. I mean, it didn't last too long, I didn't let it ruin my evening (it is still April), but when Flash Gordon gave up the three-run dinger to Roberts, man, it felt like getting punched in the gut.

The Indians and White Sox played an entire game in the time it took the Yanks and O's to get through four innings. To be honest, even if the Yanks had pulled it out, the game would have been a chore to sit through. But losing the way that they did was just depressing.

There are a lot of things that don't look good about them right about now.

Kevin Brown makes his season debut tomorrow. Sorry if I'm not feeling overcome with confidence. But hey, we've got to hang with 'em when they are down. Let's hope they can salvage a "w" and move on. No use lookin after spilt milk now, is there?

Comments
2005-04-16 21:26:24
1.   Tom Carroll
Today's game was awful, it really put me in a funk for a while. But I remember how bad they started out last April too. The thing that concerns me the most is not the hitting or the lack of long quality outings for the starters but is the bullpen. So far everyone (and I have to exclude Mariano's troubles) has been so-so to awful. But to insist that this is going to last for an extended period of time is just dumb. Can't wait for the stupid News and Post headlines. What awful papers.
2005-04-17 06:12:13
2.   singledd
Forgive me if I am harsh, but I've been following these guys since 1965 (the start of the Horace Clarke/Gene Michael era), so I feel entitled.

I think the problem is that the Yankees feel 'entitled'. Not Jetes, Posada and Rivera, because they have earned their rings... but these new guys came over here to 'win a World Series'. Likes it's automatic. George spends big bucks, we get big names on paper (who are close to if not done), and we win our rings. That simple.

Well, ARod, just being here doesn't get you a ring. You have to bust ass for it. Ask Jetes. Having grandpa RJ doesn't guarantee a win ever 5 days. We have had much better pitching staffs before, and had to fight for the wins and took some loses (2001-2003).

Well Sheff, if you are an 'overlooked' HOF'er, nows a good time to nail it down.

Mariano, we love you... but everyone gets older. Get a change-up. Mix it up. It is not automatic anymore. Your days of ONE pitch are done.

Its your last year Bernie, unless you are willing to ride the pine for a million/year, just for old time sake. How are you gonna go out? Are you busting your ass?

Mr. Torre... we love you but stop playing favorites. It you have to put Sierra in the lineup, does he have to bat 4th and 5th?
We are gonna have to have some young guys in there sometime (aren't we). Would it be that hard for Phillips to post better numbers then Tino. Can we have a look-see?

And not that I like Flaherty in the line-up, but give Posada a regular day off. Do a Wakefield/Mirabelli with (like) Wright and Flaherty. You burned out the bullpen last year... do you have to kill our catcher too?

Maybe we should stop being so tight with the buck. We can get Soriano back and have Bonds DH. That would bring us to $230 million/yr.
Then we would really have some team chemistry.

Lets face it. We have a BUNCH of overpayed, over-the-hill players who don't know each others first names. This is a team of strangers. We might have the worst D in the league.

Boys... George doesn't buy wins, he buys winning players. But YOU got to be hungry. IT AIN'T AUTOMATIC. It ain't a birthright.
The kids on Cleveland and Detroit and Texas are hungry. They may not be a talented as we are, but they are hungry.

The truth is, while we had a lot of offense last year, considering the bucks and the players, it should have been better. Aside from Posada in 2003, we haven't seen a career year (or close) from anyone in a while.

Jason - BUNT the FUCKIN' ball to 3rd until they don't shift for you. PRACTICE IT!! You could bat .500! Do it for the team! Joe... fine this guy $100,000 every time he pulls the ball. You got 18mil to work with!

Aside from injury, could things be worse?

How is is possible to have so many men on 2nd with NO outs and not score? How is it possible to have men on 3rd with less than 2 outs and not score?

Eat well, go to bed early, study Zen, take a vow of celibacy, do Yoga, meditate, get religion.... I don't care. But do something you guys! Get hungry! You ain't entitled to anything except to be the worst spent money in the history of sports!

And yes.... learn some Japanese. If you're gonna ride Matsui's back all year, at least be able to say thank you in his language.

I live in New England... Sox territory.
You are making my life miserable!!!

And I don't care, George, if RJ wins the CY this year. I just hope he has a better year then Lieber! How much will he make in 2007?... when you could have had Beltran for EIGHT years?

And in the future 'buys', can we give first dibs to pitchers from the American League?

Ineptitude starts at the top and is working it's way down.

I don't expect these guys to always win. But I expect them to play smart, play hard, run hard and be HUNGRY. For $200 million, the fans deserve that!

2005-04-17 06:49:37
3.   Alex Belth
I hear your frustration, but I don't necessarily think that there is a sense of entitlement amongst the players. I don't know any better than anyone else what goes on behind the scenes, but I don't think that Rodriguez or Bernie or Sheffield are struggling due to a lack of effort. From what I can tell, Rodriguez and Johnson et al. are guys with tremendous work ethics.

What exactly is it about Sheffield's performance last year left you wanting? Other than the fact that he--and the rest of the team--went into a collective slump in the last four games of the playoffs, I'd say he played like a future Hall of Famer.

And why is Rivera's days of being a one-pitch pitcher done? Because he hasn't looked sharp yet. I mean, you are right, he is 35. We can't expect him to be like he was from 96-01, but he's still damn good. Talk to the rest of the teams in baseball and see if they don't have issues with their closers. Ask them if they wouldn't like Rivera and his one-pitch style. This is not to say that he couldn't benefit from adding another pitch, but I think it's rash to panic so quickly.

It's too easy to look at younger players on other teams and say there are hungry but the Yankees aren't. How do we know if they are hungry or not? I mean, you are not looking at a roster of players that is going to be aggresive on the basebaths like the Angels have been over the last couple of years. Who is going to do that? Tino Martinez? Bernie, Giambi? It's just not going to happen.

Let's face it, the Yankees are an old team. They get what they paid for. I empathize with your comments about Giambi, but they didn't sign Giambi to bunt singles to third base, they signed him to hit home runs and drive runs in. Yeah, it would be nice to see him take the opposition by surprise, but I don't think 4 or 5 bunt singles by Jason Giambi is going to be the difference for this team. If you think Giambi could really hit .500 by bunting the ball to third, I think you are misguided.

If anything, I think there are a lot of Yankee fans who have co-opted a sense of entitlement. But I don't know that it effects the team. And that sense of entitlement stems from the owner. I think it is a stretch to say that George buys winning players. Like who? Steve Kemp and Davey Collins? Like Steve Karsay? He buys talent but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are always winning players.

So far, the starting pitching, the relief pitching and the offense has not been crisp. But I don't see any lack of hustle. I really don't believe that this is a team of fat cats who don't care about winning. False shows of hustle--ala Pete Rose--is not what is going to result in wins. It might make some fans feel better about them when they lose, but this is not a scrappy, hit-and-run small ball team. It's a powerhouse club. That's what George has purchased, and that's what he's got. They are old, and they have some glaring weakness' right now. But they are a better team than they've shown so far. You've been a fan long enough to know that we've just got to be patient.

Again, I don't blame you for being upset, but I think it's rash to label this team as one without any hustle or heart.

2005-04-17 09:05:47
4.   Simone
I was following the game on the radio and it sounded awful so good thing I wasn't watching. I thought even though they struggled Moose and the offense did enough to win the game. The huge bullpen failures did take me by surprise.

I'm with Alex. It is the fans who are feeling that sense of entitlement. I don't think the players feel entitled or aren't trying hard. If anything, they are trying too hard and not having fun.

In the end, this team has too much talent to flop. They'll right the ship and get back on track. So let Lupica and the Mets fans have their moment in the sun.

2005-04-17 09:15:40
5.   markp
I like it. It shows who the frontrunners are among NYY fans (I'm not saying that the above poster is. I'm saying that there certainly are plenty of them elsewhere.)
I think having Gordon pitch in his 6th of the first 11 games while Karsay gets into 2-both lost causes-and Torre using Sanchez and Flaherty ahead of Phillips shows what the real problem is: We have a porsche being driven by somebody who isn't capable of shifting or steering properly.
We kept 7 BP guys only to have Torre use the same three (& Stanton as a rather underwhelming LOOGY) in every game that was still in doubt.
We have Jason Giambi-a legitimate 1100 OPS possibility-being removed from games in the 7th inning almost every game.
And Andy Phillips-did anyone really think Torre was going to use him?
2005-04-17 09:20:04
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Also, singledd, note that Torre plans to use Flaherty as Brown's personal catcher. Rivera has been using a two-seam fastball in addition to his cutter for a couple of years now. And that of the "hungry" teams you mention Cleveland and Detroit have the same record as the Yanks and Texas is just 1/2 game better.
2005-04-17 09:54:26
7.   domvjr
If you thought it was bad watching on tv, you should have been there. I told my wife while the game was going on, that it was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Especially Lopez, everytime Womack got on, he slowed to a crawl, stepping off the mound,etc., and Mussina wasn't much better. One thing about going to Camden Yards, its like Yankee stadium south. I would hazard a guess that it was 50/50 on fan support. The inner harbor, was packed with Yankee fans.
When Gordon was pitching to Roberts, I had a bad feeling. Roberts has been killing them, and he didn't surprise me when he hit that 3 run dinger. I know its early, but I wish they could get all facets of their game going. Timely hitting, defense and pitching, they are really frustrating right now.
How much time do we give them, before we start worrying?
2005-04-17 11:13:03
8.   rbj
I agree Alex, I think we fans are too critical. Still, I don't see a real passion being exhibited by the team (it may be there, but on tv it doesn't come through). I'd been thinking that maybe the team needs to get into a fight with another team or something just to fire them up.
2005-04-17 11:16:34
9.   seamus
ok, i've been a lot more patient with Brown than most but he is getting killed. i can't take it anymore. I'm on the Wang bandwagon...
2005-04-17 11:18:27
10.   rilkefan
They should have kept Phillips on the roster and put him on the mound instead of Brown.

Just joking. Mostly.

2005-04-17 12:39:48
11.   seamus
i'm glad brown got his act together but too late. he needs to have some complete outings. he owes it to us darnit
2005-04-17 14:17:14
12.   redshift
Perhaps the most disheartening part of that game is the Yankee hitters' inability to perform with RISP. I don't think many people were surprised to see Brown get rocked in the first 2 innings, but he did seem to settle down nicely after that. I don't understand why Torre pulled him after only 85 pitches, given the fact that he pitching relatively well.

I think that what Torre needs to do is call a team meeting and give them a bit of a pep talk. With two games against TB and then two against the Jays(I'll be at the first one), it would seem like a good time for them to get their act together.

The pressure is on.

2005-04-17 14:49:57
13.   JeremyM
The Boss has spoken:

"Enough is enough. I am bitterly disappointed as I'm sure all Yankee fans are by the lack of performance by our team," Steinbrenner said in a statement issued immediately after the game.

"It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk. They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around."

If Torre plays this right this could unite the team, in an "us against the Boss" type deal, and then King George the Motivator can take the credit for the turnaround, as he is want to do.

2005-04-17 16:07:11
14.   seamus
Torre had a closed door meeting with the team and ripped into them. I think it is appropriate.
2005-04-17 17:11:45
15.   Marcus
redshift, I agree with you about their performance with RISP. I mean how many times can they load the bases without getting a hit?

I just don't feel confident watching this team right now. The starting pitchers are worrying me; the strike out rates besides Johnson are way down. The bullpen is given away leads like kittens. There are bright spots: the team OBP is up at .339, which is pretty good, but they are just not translating that into runs.

I hope Torre's motivational speech works, and I think this is the first I've ever welcomed a Steinbrenner press release scolding. But let's keep in mind that last year around this time the Yankees started out at 8-11 or so, so let's start worrying when they get swept by the D-Rays.

2005-04-17 17:40:34
16.   Simone
The RISP performance is simply atrocious and downright unbearable. A-Rod is the worst of the lot. If there is a man on base, you can be sure he isn't getting a hit. He is real good at padding those stats with home runs and hits when no one is on base. ICR is the perfect nickname for him.

Brown is sickening. He is a waste of space in the starting rotation. The Yankees might as well promote Wang and let him get some major league experience at this rate.

With the Boss on the rampage and Joe pissed off, the D'Rays visit is very timely.

2005-04-17 18:19:54
17.   JeremyM
Brown probably deserves (maybe not the right word) a couple more starts, it sounds like he did settle down and was in the mid-90s, from what I hear. The Os can mash. That said, I would like to see what Wang can offer.

I'm liking A-Rod less and less. This might be too obscure for people to remember, but back in the 2000 ALCS, Clemens threw a pitch inside and waist level, and A-Rod got testy. So Clemens went right back to the next spot (these may have even been called strikes, but I can't remember for sure), and A-Rod started jawing at Clemens. With the next pitch, Clemens struck him out on the outside part of the plate, and made A-Rod look foolish. These pitches weren't even close to hitting him, yet he was jawing and glaring like Clemens had no right to throw inside at all, and then he struck out. I've always been leery of his mental fortitude since then. I'm just not sold on the guy as a Yankee. According to Jon Lieber, who is an acquitance with a guy I work with, A-Rod never said a word to him all season last year, not even a "good game" after a good start. Maybe a small thing, but this guy isn't a team player. And apparently, Jeter and A-Rod hate each other's guts, which probably isn't a big secret really, and isn't really relevant I guess.

2005-04-17 18:55:05
18.   Marcus
Here's an interesting column that summarizes the A-Rod-Clemens at bat you mentioned JeremyM:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/vecsey/vecs15ww.shtml

I especially love how the writer calls Jeter A-Rod's "best friend". Oh how things have changed. I think it was the following off season when A-Rod had that infamous Esquire magazine interview where he showed skepticism towards Jeter's game.

2005-04-17 20:36:47
19.   JeremyM
That was a good read, although I still don't think the pitches were even close to hitting him. And I love this quote:

"I'm a little pissed off. It's mind-boggling to me that a guy with such good control, who's working the plate side-to-side, never misses up and away. He only misses up and in," Rodriguez said.

I don't think Clemens missed up-and-in--was A-Rod beaned? Clemens put those pitches exactly where he wanted them, and he took the bait and K'ed weakly.

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