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Second Season (Dis Mus Be De Place)
2005-10-03 04:57
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Derek Jeter drove Curt Schilling's first offering off the green monster in the first inning yesterday. But Manny Ramirez expertly fielded the ball and threw Jeter out at second base. It was a sign that it wouldn't be the Yankees' day. Jeter bruised his right knee sliding into the bag and was removed from the game in the fourth inning. The Bombers actually had three hits in the first but weren't able to score. Schilling wasn't dazzling but he was effective enough, especially after this teammates started beating Jaret Wright and company around but good. By the middle innings the win didn't much matter to the Home Nine after the results of the White Sox win over the Indians were posted. Toward the end of the game, there were scrubinies on the field for both sides as the Sox pounded the Yanks, 10-1 in the regular season finale.

The teams finished with identical records of 95-67. The Red Sox will travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox in the ALDS, while the Yankees are on their way to Califorina to tackle the Angels, a team who has given them fits over last several years. We'll spend plenty of time looking at how the two teams match-up over the next day-and-a-half, but before we move on, I'd like to take a moment to give thanks to this Yankee team for reaching the playoffs once again.

Sure, with the kind of dough they spend you'd expect nothing less. Yet the most infuriating aspect of Yankee culture these days is the sense of entitlement that surrounds the team--from the owner down to many of the fans. What's lost in being seduced by this atmosphere of high (win-or-else) expectations, is often a genuine appreciation of just how hard it is to make the playoffs year-after-year. Joe Torre was not choked up and crying for nothing on Saturday evening. However, considering how disastrous their off-season was--some contend that it was the worst in the team's storied history--and how poorly they played to begin the season, it is some accomplishment that they are still playing in October. Virtual no-names like Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano, Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon played vital roles. So did veterans did Jason Giambi and Randy Johnson and Flash Gordon. Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and Derek Jeter all had the kind of All-Star seasons we've come to expect from them. And Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez were simply brilliant.

When Rivera was hurt in 2002 I began to count the days. Who knew how much longer he'd last? How long can a stopper remain elite? Well, his last three seasons are three of the best he's ever had in his career. After a rough first couple of games against the Red Sox, where everybody and his uncle had a theory about what was wrong with him and what he needed to do to rebound, Rivera was dominant for the rest of the summer. Rodriguez was rock-steady at third base, putting up perhaps the most impressive season at that position that anyone has seen since the days of the great Mike Schmidt and George Brett. His defense wasn't great early in the year, but by the end of the season, he proved himself to be a Gold Glove caliber fielder. Offensively, he was outstanding, and amazingly even--look at the splits, month-by-month the guy was $ in the bank.

Yes indeed, there were many frustrating moments this year, but there is also a lot to be thankful for as well. The Yanks have made their fans proud. We are blessed to root for such a successful organization. Let's hope they keep playing well and who knows what could happen?

Comments
2005-10-03 06:19:52
1.   Murray
I am so impressed that these guys, whom I was willing to kick to the side of the road in late May, won 95 games. Last year they finished 10 games ahead of their Pythagorean projection, and I would have expected a substantial backward slide. And yet, they pulled out the big 95 win total, a truly impressive total for a team that seemed to struggle (not scuffle, a term misused by jock broadcasters that mainstream sportswriters now misuse, too) all season.

Go New York, go!

2005-10-03 06:26:45
2.   Simone
What was the Yankees' Pythagorean projection for 2005? I recall Joe Sheehan predicting 87 wins.

Congrats to the Yankees! I gave them up for roadkill a while back. Turns out they were just stunned, not dead. I don't know how far they go in the playoffs, but I'm just thrilled that they have given themselves a chance to win the World Series.

2005-10-03 06:36:03
3.   Yanks in NH
You've got to love having them go into the playoffs as hot as they are - I mean they essentially have been playing with the win or die playoff mentality for the last month. Very, very different from past seasons which, I believe, should bode well for our chances in the postseason. I have to admit, though, I'm more than a little anxious about which Mussina will show up tomorrow evening! It's a strange season when you're looking forward to Chacon pitching but concerned about Mussina - go figure - but of course, looking forward to the Big Unit is more on the conventional side!
2005-10-03 06:39:34
4.   Alex Belth
Interestingly--and someone provide me with the numbers to back this up--I believe that the Angels have been playing as well as the Yankees have over the past 3 weeks.
2005-10-03 06:45:33
5.   rbj
Excellent post Alex. Very well said. I think that sometimes we forget that the other teams are filled with major league players who are trying to win too.
Dr. Mussina or Mr. Moose, which one shows up tomorrow?
2005-10-03 06:50:27
6.   mikeplugh
Alex....I totally agree about the unfortunate sense of entitlement that goes along with a $200 million payroll. The fact is, spending that kind of money guarantees you a chance to be in the playoffs every year, and guarantees you the chance to rebound from injury more easily than those teams who don't spend.

What it doesn't guarantee you is a championship. It simply doesn't. The Mets have a giant payroll every year and when was their last title? 1986. The A's keep the payroll low and they are in the pennant race every year. There's more to baseball than money, despite the obvious advantages.

Just making the playoffs this year made the season for me. There were plenty of times when I thought it was over. There were plenty of times when I began to think about what we needed to do to rebuild.

I will be crushed if the Sox go further than us. I will be crushed if they actually beat us again, and I will be crushed if they win back to back WS. Aside from those doomsday scenarios, I am satisfied with our results.

Thanks Yankees.

2005-10-03 06:59:06
7.   vockins
The Angels are the last team I wanted the Yankees to face in the ALDS. They have been hot (11 out of their last 13? I think) against the A's, the DRays (who haven't been giving fits to the Yanks exclusively), and Texas.

Colon has been horrible against the Yanks this year, but Mussina hasn't been much better. Moose's numbers are excellent with > five days rest, though.

Who knows.

2005-10-03 07:01:46
8.   Yanks in NH
So, who knows what the pitching rotation is for the playoffs and who is being taken/not taken on the postseason roster?

Is it Mussina, Chacon, Johnson, Wang and Small in the pen for long relief?

Which bums did we bring in the pen (the 'bum' terminology of course does not apply to Mo and Flash)?

2005-10-03 07:06:59
9.   Yanks in NH
Though I would love nothing more than another WS title, just going further than the Sox is all I need to make this year a good year. Beating the Sox in the ALCS would be even sweeter and if that occurs, a WS win would probably be anti-climatic - but I'd take it!
2005-10-03 07:07:47
10.   KJC
"But Manny Ramirez expertly fielded the ball"

Now there's something you don't read very often...

2005-10-03 07:08:23
11.   watziznehm2
Great write up Alex, nice point about the sense of entitlement. Getting into the playoffs this year is no mean achievement considering all that they have had to deal with. That being said, lets go Yanks, now we got to win it all.
;-)
2005-10-03 07:21:59
12.   debris
Simone,

Sheehan projected the 87 wins based on his read that the Woemack, Wright, and Pavano signings were disasters. Nobody on the face of the earth could have projected the production of Small, Wang, and Cano.

Small, I understand, will be starring in an upcoming production of Damn Red Sox, a slightly revised update of Damn Yankees.

2005-10-03 07:45:58
13.   Alex Belth
KJC,
Hey, I've got to give the guy credit where he deserves it. There is a reason he has such a high assist total--runners think (not incorrectly) that he's a total dope out there, and he's mastered how to play the Green Monster. I'm curious as to how many of his assists have come at Fenway. Anyone know how to find that out?

On the other hand, I edited a rant about his hot-dog pimp strut after hitting that dinger against Proctor. Guy deserves a fastball in the ribs after a stunt like that. I know it's par for the course, and at least this time his team was winning. The thing of it is, I don't think Ramirez notices the difference, which is why he's so disappointing as a player. He's such a great hitter, and he's a genuine flake, but his lack of respect for the game is upsetting. Watching him showboat on Saturday after hitting a truly incredible home run yet with his team trailing by four was an embarrassment.

Still, for all the talk for how wonderful Ortiz has been this year--and he has been all that--Manny is virtually neck-and-neck with him as an offensive player, clutch hits and all.

2005-10-03 07:57:40
14.   debris
Alex,

Manny gets rid of the ball extremely quickly and flings, yes, flings the ball with uncanny accuracy.

And on another subject, Francoma has decided, correctly, that Arroyo is more suited than Clement to middle relief. I think, however, that, given his mostly good post-season experience, the fact that he's pitched quite well of late, and the fact that he's not as emotional as Clement, that Francoma is making a mistake here. I'd rather trust Wells, Schilling, and Wakefield to get the ball to the seventh than I would Clement to go up against Contreras twice. If this goes five games, Francoma could be sorry.

2005-10-03 08:05:55
15.   Max
Alex, the Angels won 14 of their final 16 games. Nine of the games were at home, seven on the road. The most impressive wins of that run were the 3 of 4 they won at Oakland. Eight of the wins were against Texas or Detroit, 11 of the 14 wins were at home. Evrim Santana got 4 of the Halos wins as a starter.

Prior to this stretch, they were considerably more erratic: swept by Seattle and Tampa Bay, lost 2 of 3 at Fenway, but did sweep the White Sox (who were in the middle of their tailspin).

The Yankees completed their 20 games in 20 days season-ending stretch by going 15-5. Three of the losses went to Jaret Wright, the other two to Leiter (though Mussina was the starter that tanked) and Wang. The Yanks won 6 of the 7 games at home, and 9 of the 13 games on the road. Johnson, Small and Chacon each had 3 wins in this stretch.

The Yankees were also 6-1 in one-run games (though that's an extremely deceptive stat, as we all know, since what were one-sided games often got turned into something much less than that by middle relief).

2005-10-03 08:39:01
16.   Yanks in NH
Yeah, that one run game stat is very deceptive! How many with the Yanks scoring 4 or less?
2005-10-03 09:05:11
17.   Yanks in NH
Very quiet today - where is everyone? Everybody must be growing back their fingernails getting ready for the postseason. Just a feeling I have, but I think our starters are going to be brilliant and the offense very productive throughout the postseason!

Call me an optimist, except when it comes to the middle relief - just keep them out of the game and we should be fine!

2005-10-03 09:32:50
18.   bp1
Yanks in NH,

I like your feelings. I'm a little nervous about Wang, but for some reason I think Small and Chacon will be steady, if not spectacular. I'll take my chance with steady. Just don't give me a Game #7 Kevin Brown meltdown this year, ok? I think the heart of our lineup is poised to explode.

And - oh - Alex. Re: Manny. The frustration mounts. He makes my blood boil. Baseball tradition almost dictates that he get dealt a 95mph lesson in humility, respect, and civility. He, and some of his teammates, represent the worst in sports. Boundless talent, but lack of respect for themselves, the game, the fans, and especially their opponents. I applaud Joe Torre for taking the high road and not ordering a plunking, but deep inside it would feel so good. Where's Clemens when you need him?

BP

2005-10-03 09:39:34
19.   Max
Post all-star break road records, for those concerned about the Yankees playing on the road:

Chicago White Sox 25-15

New York Yankees 25-18

Los Angeles Angels 20-18

Boston Red Sox 16-16

The White Sox post-ASB road wins include seven(!) against Cleveland in Jacobs Field.

2005-10-03 09:42:11
20.   Oliver
Alex,

Why is it so bad that Manny is a showboat? Doesn't it make the game more entertaining? I don't get it why basketball and especially football players are expected to talk trash, taunt the opposing bench or team, do a little dance... and everybody loves it, but if a baseball player deviates from bland composure we say he ought to be punished. Don't get me wrong - I'm not looking for Sheff doing the funky chicken after hitting a bomb, but I have no problem with a little hot dog.

2005-10-03 09:44:17
21.   Marcus
I think the way the playoff match-ups have shaken out, the Yankees have at least two chances at redeeming themselves in light of recent history. First, it's their chance to wipe the cocky Angels off the books and pay them back (albeit a few years delayed) for the 2002 ALDS drubbing, and all those more recent over celebrations by the Molina brothers and K-Rod.

Then there is the more obvious pay back due to the Red Sox in the ALCS. If it works out that both the Yankees and Red Sox meet up in the ALCS once again, it will be pretty ridiculous and I'm sure most of the country will be sick of seeing and hearing about the two teams, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

This is clearly wishful thinking, but it would be very nice if the Yankees beat both the Angels and Red Sox on their way to the World Series. I'm not exactly confident it will work out that way, but here's hoping it does!

2005-10-03 09:55:57
22.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
(1) Who said it's ok for football and basketball players to talk trash etc? It reflects poorly on both sports -- which are far inferior to baseball anyway -- that they do.

(2) The ex-Cub factor looks real bad for the Yanks. We've got three -- Gordon, Bellhorn, and Lawton (unless we leave the latter 2 off the post-season roster)

The Angels, by my quick look, had no one that jumps out as having worn the uniform of the Northsiders.

Not good for us at all.

2005-10-03 09:57:41
23.   Max
YanksinNH, mistake on my part regarding Yanks' record in one run games in their final 20 game stretch.

Yankees were actually 7-1 in one-run games, and 4 of the wins were low scoring affairs. Three were against Baltimore (3-2, 2-1, 2-1), one against Toronto (1-0). The other 3 were hold-your-nose "don't let the other team catch up" type deals (6-5, 11-10, 7-6).

2005-10-03 10:05:57
24.   Bob B
Go figure. The Yanks are established as the favorites in the AL to go to the World Series at 8-5. RedSox and Angels are 3-1 and the Whitesox with the best record are 9-2.
2005-10-03 10:16:33
25.   Bob B
Yanks in NH
"Very quiet today - where is everyone?"
For me the end to the season was so strange............I didn't even realize the Yanks had won the division and that they wouldn't play on Monday if they were tied with Boston until Saturday evening. After a season where most of the discussions were very negative (the early season failures, Giambi almost being sent to the Minors, the pitching injuries, Womacks woes, the pitching breakdowns, Bernie's age catching up with him, the lack of Middle relief, Posada's lack of contribution. More pitching injuries).......I think winning the division and making the playoffs came as a shock. We'll wake up shortly.

Bob

2005-10-03 10:17:06
26.   Murray
Lines are set to attract bettors. They may not reflect genuine opinions about who will actually win a given series.
2005-10-03 10:19:34
27.   Kevin
I wish the Yankees would shut their yaps about Showalter.

""There's a code of honor when so much is on the line," Rodriguez told the New York Daily News. "You hope people do the right thing. But you can't control what people do.""

Just seems kind of classless.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2179632

2005-10-03 10:25:45
28.   KJC
As a Sox fan, while I appreciate his bat, I find Manny's home run showboating annoying. (And, for that matter, any over the top crap like that in any sport...football and basketball being the worst offenders.) I don't think he means any harm by it: I don't believe it's intentional disrespect, I think he just likes to watch the ball go far -- but that doesn't make it any easier for me to watch. His dogging it on the basepaths and sometimes sloppy defense doesn't make me feel better, either.

That said, I don't think it's fair to classify the entire team as "the worst in sports." Yeah, Manny's a flake, Curt's a loudmouth, Millar's a goof. Yes, NY hates the Sox in general. I may be biased, but most of the Sox (Wakefield, Mueller, Timlin, Renteria, Olerud...) aren't exactly thugs.

2005-10-03 10:34:41
29.   Zack
Kevin, I agreee. Classless isn't what comes to mind, but maybe hypocritical. Since when have the Yanks cared a hoot for anoyone but themselves, which is fine by me. Not that they won, but they didn't do Cleveland any favors by running Wright out there (or Sierra for that matter, but Torre seems to think he's good). Besdies the fact that had they won it wouldn't have mattered. Buck can do what he wants, had the Yanks won one more game, its a non-issue...

And KJC, I don't really mind a bunch of the Sox. I don't mind Manny, other than his goofiness, which has gottena bit out of hand. Schilling, Veritek, and Nixon bother me, they seem phony (I know, you will respond that Varitek and Nixon are the two most genuine, but I'm not buying that dirt dog crap, if hes sucha dirt dog, why is he wearing that c proudly?)...Wake seems like a good guy, Reteria, Arroyo, Olerud, damn, even Millar don't really bug me.

I do find it funny on a team that prides itself on its "dirt dogness" that a guy like Manny is allowed to get away with what he does...And if they trade him to the Mets, fine by me, see how many pitches Ortiz gets

2005-10-03 10:35:39
30.   Alex Belth
I realize that showboating is part of the game. That's what they watch on Sportscenter. Does it make it more entertaining for me? Not really. I like some style, believe me. Loved Butch Johnson and Bill White Shoes when I was growning up.

But I also feel as if there are limits to how far a guy should go, and that's my own prejudice. First of all, if you hit a game-winning homer or have some big hit late in a close game, then I don't see why you can't hot dog it some. But when you style and prance while your team is getting cooked? Dude, you are playing yourself out like a chump. And that goes for hoops or football or anything else. I mean are you impressed with guy who does a dance in the endzone when his team is down by three touchdowns? Personally, it makes me sick.

When Manny does his schtick and his team is losing it makes him look like an amatuer. And what is disappointing about that is that Manny is one of the great hitters of his time. It reflects poorly on him, his team, and the game.

And my other feeling is that if you've got the balls to slather on the mustard like that you've got to be man enough to take one in the side the next time up no questions asked. But we already know that Ramirez is a sheepish when it comes to that--see Clemens, playoffs, ball three feet from his head, and Ramirez, semi-charging the mound, bat in hand, with all sorts of intentions to riff, but absolutely none to throw bolos.

I'm not impressed.

2005-10-03 10:45:32
31.   Nick from Washington Heights
Sox guys I think seem like decent humans
Mueller
Olerud
Renteria
Ortiz
Kapler
Wakefield
Clement

Could go either way
Damon
Manny (showboat but he's from the Heights!)

Can't stand
Schilling
Schilling
Varitek (lays on the whole working class hustling shit a bit too thick for my tastes. Plus, he started a fight while he was wearing protective gear. That's weak)
Timlin-awful politics
Arroyo-the music. Nuff said.
Mirabelli-not a nice guy. Trust me.

2005-10-03 10:46:47
32.   Oliver
Alex, I see your distinction between a gamer winner and a showboat when your team is still losing. It doesn't bother me much, but I see it.

But I just disagree that if a player showboats a little, it justifies physical retaliation. It may well be true considering the way the athletes feel about it, but I think there is a clear line that could and should be enforced between mere taunts and hotdogging, and potentially causing an injury. One should not justify the other.

Manny was completely off-base about that Clemens pitch, of course. He was obviously rattled and expecting something that wasn't there.

2005-10-03 11:50:42
33.   Astoria Chris
Johnny Damon seems to be a good guy from whatever interviews I've seen. Sure, he throws like a girl, but he's a great leadoff hitter and a good center fielder. Anyone think there's a chance he'll be replacing Bernie next year? Also, I agree, it was a bit of an anticlimax to have the Yanks clinch on Saturday (I didn't even realize it was possible until the game was over) then get whipped on Sunday. Oh well, I'll take it since they've gone post - let's see how much gas they have in the tank after the blistering finish (Sunday excluded!)
2005-10-03 11:57:40
34.   rsfaa
"(I know, you will respond that Varitek and Nixon are the two most genuine, but I'm not buying that dirt dog crap, if hes sucha dirt dog, why is he wearing that c proudly?)"

Wow, just can't win. Manny watches the ball for 5 seconds after watching it...showboat. Varitek shows no emotion and runs around the bases after a homerun or back to the dugout after a strikeout and he's phony.

Let's face it. Asking a yankee fan to give opinions on a redsox player is a joke. And asking a redsox fan about a yankee player is equally a joke.

2005-10-03 12:01:02
35.   KJC
"Varitek, and Nixon bother me, they seem phony"

I think that's a perception issue: what Sox fans love about Jason & Trot, NY fans hate. (OK, I hate the big "C" on Tek's jersey, too...) It works both ways: Jeter's confident & carefree smile that Yankee fans see is nothing but a smug I-know-I'm-on-camera smirk to Sox fans.

2005-10-03 12:12:25
36.   Alvaro Espinoza
Re: Manny

In a nutshell, I agree w/ Alex. There's nothing 'little' about Manny's showboating - it's chronic. For whatever reason, the rules are different for Manny. They say: "Well, he's just flaky, that's all." I have no doubt that he's an incredibly flaky individual. If he wore a big red nose and some white mak-up you wouldn't be able to tell the difference btwn the Red Sox starting LF'er and a clown from Ringling Bros.

So what? I would STILL dust him. Showing up the opposition is an unwritten no-no. Has been for 100 years. You don't get a pass b/c you're quirky. The Yanks have been letting the opposition get away with it (not just Manny) for a few years now and it gets under my skin.

2005-10-03 12:31:35
37.   Alvaro Espinoza
rsfaa and KJC,

I think you both present excellent points. Though I have to admit to being irritated by Nixon for the following reasons. The first two are his own doing:

1- opened up his mouth about A-rod just before the season. Should have kept his mouth shut. Nothing good could come of it and he put his teammates in an awkward spot.

2- The hat and helmet gimmick.

And a 3rd reason that's the doing of RS Nation:

3- For a guy who sits against lefties and is perenially injured, they sure make him out to be a perennial All-Star.

Generally speaking, I don't have a big problem w/ the '05 Sox team. With very few exceptions, they strike me as ok guys.

2005-10-03 13:01:03
38.   bp1
Re: "worst in sports".

I didn't condem the entire team. I said:

"He, and some of his teammates, represent the worst in sports."

the "he" being Manny. I would put Schilling in that category, too, and maybe Nixon and Millar. Guys who, whether by words or actions, demonstrate disrespect for either the game, their team, their fans, or their oponents. All the winter bad mouthing from Schilling and friends hasn't been forgotten.

Sorry.

BP

2005-10-03 16:26:38
39.   Patrick
Always happy to be mentioned. Thanks Alex.
2005-10-04 05:10:40
40.   Murray
Ortiz? The David Ortiz who questions nearly every called strike? The David Ortiz who has never been fairly called out on the bases? The David Ortiz who shamelessly champions his own cause for MVP? Ortiz is the whiner-in-chief, and he's the one who eggs Ramirez and the rest of them on in the sort of SportsCenter-driven mugging that some of us find so unappealing.

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