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Pack 'Em Up
2005-10-12 09:39
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Yankees' cockamamie season came to a fitting conclusion the other night in California. In a game that decidedly pitted the Baseball Gods against the Bronx Bombers, the Yanks lost one that they should have won. Give the Angels credit for being opportunistic and taking advantage of the Yankees' mistakes and blame New York for not playing their best ball when it counted most. Alex Rodriguez is getting killed here in New York, and he'll just have to take the hit. He's the teams' marquee player and he had a bad series, so it comes with the territory. It doesn't take away from his great season, but it sure was a lousy way to end it.

Still, as disappointing as losing to the Angels is, I feel curiously peaceful. The Yanks rebounded after a horrid start and played well enough down the stretch to win their divison and make the playoffs again. That is nothing to sneeze at. I've said this before but I think part of what distinguished the 96-01 teams was that they collectively appreciated how hard to was to win a World Series. It was a quality that made their run even more impressive because it wasn't lost on the players how special their accomplishments were. However, I think some Yankee fans began to buy into the sense of entitlement that is peddled by George Steinbrenner and think the Yankees had somehow patented winning baseball. Now, the Yanks are becoming more like the Braves with each passing season--and I don't mean that as a diss (or as literal comparison between how the two organizations are run). Ain't so easy to win it every year. And as the old refrain against Steibrenner goes, you can't arrange for success.

Yet as frustrating as the season was in many regards, it provided more moments to cheer than jeer. Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera had brilliant campaigns and Jeter, Sheffield, Matsui, Giambi and Flash Gordon were excellent. Chacon, Wang, Small and Cano offered some nice surprises. Course there won't be a dull moment moving forward; the Hot Stove League will be as busy as always this year. While much of the roster will return, the word is that Brian Cashman will likely leave. That would be too bad as Cashman is bright and hard-working. There is also a possibility that Joe Torre could be finished, though I don't think that will happen. Either way, there will be plenty for us to gab about through the cold winter months.

This has been the third complete Yankee season I've covered here at Bronx Banter (I started the blog in November of 2002). At the beginning of the year I knew that I was going to have a hard time maintaining the same pace that I did in 2004 because of my work schedule. I felt that bringing a co-writer on would be ideal and I found a great match in Cliff Corcoran. I knew that Cliff would be able to provide a different yet complimentary sensibility and that together we would be able to provide an even more well-rounded and thought-provoking take on the Yankees. I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own this year and want to publicly thank Cliff for the energy, conviction and insight that he brought to Bronx Banter. Our working relationship was as smooth as can be, and I looked forward to reading his stuff on a daily basis. I'm pleased that you readers responded to Cliff's work as I expected you would.

You know, it was very rewarding for me to read through the comments threads over the past two days. Those of you who wished us thanks, let me say, right back attcha. Those words mean a lot. And that's no joke. One person said that they often will get more caught up in a thread than they will in the post Cliff or I put up in the first place. At first my instinct was to take offense, but the truth of the matter is, I feel as if that comment was the ultimate compliment. When I began this site I called it "banter" for a reason: I like to hear conversation and wanted to create a forum where some intelligent back-and-forth could take place. Naturally, there is a lot of nonsense that can take place in the comments section during the course of the year, but there is also a good deal of bright, sensible exchanges as well. That's just the way I've always wanted it. I don't feel like any kind of baseball expert. I'm just an enthusiast who is dedicated to writing about my experiences as a fan following the Yankees. I want to soak up knowledge and ideas and observations as much as the next guy. I try and create a starting point for Yankee thought here and let the reader take it where it may. I'm proud of the Bronx Banter community and hope that you all keep coming back for more. We'll leave the light on for you.

Comments
2005-10-12 11:01:15
1.   jedi
If there was a Cal Ripken Yankee award that was given to a proving fan every year, for perseverance and character, you would get it, hands down. But there is no such award and Cal Ripken didnt play for the Yankees. Nonetheless, you deserve a pat on the back for your work with the blog. Good job!
2005-10-12 11:19:56
2.   randym77
All in all, it was a good season. Especially that last stretch. Amazing, really.

And thank you much for the hospitality. My family are all football nuts who think baseball's boring, and my two closest Yankee fan friends recently changed jobs and moved away, so I've really appreciated this friendly oasis.

2005-10-12 11:37:04
3.   Astoria Chris
Thanks again Alex and Cliff, and the frequent commenters, for making this site a daily must-read for this Yankee fan.
2005-10-12 11:48:21
4.   Antonello
It was fantastic season by the boys o' Banter. Thanks a bundle.
2005-10-12 11:48:26
5.   Max
Hey Alex and Cliff, let me join the thanks parade for providing an oasis of thoughtful commentary and conversation here on Bronx Banter. I had to curtail my immersion in Yankee culture early in the season when I got busy with other matters, and I specifically avoided more toxic sources of heated baseball talk (WEEI, Boston papers, other Yankee forums) all season, but I always made it back here.

I loved this place, most of all, for the flavor of NY you gave this virtual neighborhood. In the midst of all the teeth-gnashing in the final weeks of the season, you'll never know how calming it was to hear your rhythmic take on fall in the city, or laugh at a story about big booty on the subway. Much more edifying than another war of statistics over MVP candidates.

And Cliff's reasoned analysis as the season wound down was always more refreshing (and more essential reading) than any tired morality play penned by the local rags on whether these Yanks would be remembered as heroes or zeroes.

Someone on another forum put together a 15 minute montage of video highlights from the regular season, and it's amazing to see just how many highs and lows and flat out exciting moments there were this season, from the multiple comeback wins from the brink, to real joy and laughter with Bubba's styling walk-off against the O's. You're right that we take too much for granted...I'm personally glad for the season that the team gave us this year, and I feel truly bad that they just couldn't quite make it over the hump.

2005-10-12 11:57:07
6.   joe in boston
First of all, thanks to Cliff and Alex for Bronx Banter. It is the first and best place to check Yankee news and to "sound off". The nights with the game on and laptop cranked up are kind of fun (and funny) to look back upon.

Tough end to the season. Yesterday's posts were mostly very good and I'd just be repeating most of the words.

Sad today, I really had hoped to move on. Not angry (anymore), alittle tired, but mostly sad. There are very few things I "love" anymore as I get older, but the Yanks are near and dear to me. Plus it's another year without a ring, a year to say goodbye to Bernie, and Jeter/Mo are a year older....

Sad

2005-10-12 12:09:59
7.   Kevin
Congrats to all, Cliff and Alex especially -- Bronx Banter was named "Best Yankees Blog" by the web site Deadspin. Check it:

http://www.deadspin.com/sports/blogdome/index.php#blogdoms-best-new-york-yankees-130594

2005-10-12 12:16:11
8.   bp1
Joe in Boston,

You took the words right out of my mouth. How a grown man can feel such sadness over a game where no relatives are involved is beyond me, but I can't help it. I guess that's just part of being a fan.

I fear what is going to happen in the coming weeks. Just like there is no crying in baseball, there should be no shame in losing. They did not lose due to lack of preparation or effort or desire or "heart" or anything else of that ilk. They just lost. That happens in games like baseball. It is bitterly disappointing, but hopefully the players know in their heart of hearts that they gave all they had to give, and that's all anyone can expect.

I tip my cap to the entire team, and wish them peace as they prepare for the coming season.

Alex and Cliff - thanks for everything. I look forward to your insights and analysis during the hot stove season.

BP

2005-10-12 12:22:28
9.   randym77
7 Hey, they called us normal!

And I didn't realize there were tons more Red Sox blogs than Yankees blogs. How odd.

2005-10-12 12:24:59
10.   kylepetterson
Long time Yankee fan, just found this site a couple weeks ago. Not at all a disapointing season, but a heartbreaking one, none the less. I've enjoyed the coverage here and, following the team we do, know that there's gonna be a lot to follow in these few months 'til next season. One thing: We know the base is gonna be here next season, Jeter, A-Rod, Cano, Giambi, etc., but I would really like to see Leiter return to the pen. He really started coming into his own in that role (pardon a few hiccups) right at the end and I think he's a good guy to have on the team. Numbers don't tell everything. According to Yankees.com RJ is our #1 guy.
2005-10-12 12:31:00
11.   marc
I guess it's a testament to Alex, Cliff, and all the great posters here at Bronx Banter that I have this big letdown, not so much that we lost but that the games are over for now and I'm finding I'm missing the back and forth of the game comments here and reading the gameday writeups by Alex and Cliff almost as much as the games themselves.

I also have great anxiety about what Stenbrenner, with his perhaps declining mental faculties, and his cronies might do in the off-season that may be a lot more damaging to the team than helpful. I sort of expect Torre will be around, not because the Boss might not want to fire him and replace him with Pinella or someone, but because Steinbrenner has nightmares that if he lets Torre go he'll come back on another team and haunt the Yankees like the mythical Babe haunting Boston.

2005-10-12 12:43:58
12.   Max
I have to get in one last rebuttal in the comments before I give up my "fix" for the winter, and no, it has nothing to do with A-Rod, George, Joe, or anyone else. It does concern one of the many hits the Yankees are taking, as they are the pinata of the week.

Many writers are referring to the Yankees blowing a decisive advantage in the series, referring to the Angels having to replace two starters at the last minute. I don't think this criticism holds any water.

AFAIC, if you had told me before the series that Lackey would replace Washburn and Santana would have replaced Colon, I would have told you that the Angels got the better end of those changes (even though Santana was hittable). I think we would have beaten Colon easily.

Lots of reasons to dump on the Yanks, but I do think (as much as it hurts to say so) that they got out-scrapped, and it's not just them. Ask the White Sox how they feel to have just lost to a team that made two cross country flights in 2 days and started their worst pitcher on short rest. But since the White Sox aren't the Yankees, they're not getting roasted nearly as much (not yet, anyway).

2005-10-12 13:15:49
13.   Shaun P
Rational banter, starting with the guys at the top, is what makes this place a must-read. And a great read too! I was in upstate NY, sans laptop, for ALDS games 3-5, and watching them wasn't the same without knowing what everyone here thought. Still haven't gone back through the comments, but I will. Time heals all wounds, right?

Congrats again, Alex and Cliff - and thanks. Anyone else going to watch 'Stros-Cards tonight and see how Pettitte does?

2005-10-12 13:27:32
14.   Shaun P
BTW, anyone else cringe after seeing the pic of Matsui in the Times article Alex linked to above? Talk about down . . .
2005-10-12 13:41:14
15.   Fordham Road
Bronx Banter is fantastic ... I read it every morning. This was a good year (a World Series would have made it great). Where was Mike Lupica in 1982 or '83 or '84 - '93? Baseball writers get their kicks from dumping on these Yankees ... Since July, this team fought hard. The last 10 years have been a blast ... I would have loved to see Bernie win one more (maybe he will next year). Torre and crew deserve much credit for a great run ... and it's not over yet (Jeter, A-Rod, Mo, and co. will be back next year). For a kid who came to age during the Tidrow, Goose, Jackson, Munson, Randolph years and who stayed true during the late '80s and early '90s, I appreciate this team and respect what they have accomplished. Go Yanks!

Slainte.

2005-10-12 13:46:26
16.   NYhalofan
First log for me on what I think is the best MLB blog on the net. Guys please don't kill me but I'm a life long Angel fan, with your boys being a close second. We shared some mutual sweat this week and we're the LUCKY ones to end up moving on to take on the cleaner pair of Sox. I'm not trying to kiss any butt, but it's nice to see the Bronx faithful take it on the chin and not moan and bitch like those chowder eating A-holes in that rat-trap they call a ball field. Damon is going to be a Angel or a Yankee next year, please take him!!!
See ya again next year in the ALCS!!!
2005-10-12 13:52:04
17.   jervo
Long time reader, occassional poster: just watned to add to the chorus of "thank yous" for making such a great site. This is a fantastic site, often more entertaining and informative than the NY tabloids, and I am grateful for you guys sticking it out every day. Will there be more in the off season, or are you guys on hiatus?
2005-10-12 14:02:20
18.   Kevin
Any quotes or articles up yet about Torre's planned "press conference" at the Stadium today? Selena Roberts was licking her chops about what he might say about The Boss...

If I know Torre, though, he'll keep his mouth shut, cash his $13MM paycheck, and come back to manage next year, George and all.

2005-10-12 14:02:57
19.   murphy
a voracious "true dat!" to all of the earlier thank yous.

i have been a long time cliff reader and i was skeptical when he said he was giving up the "big red blog" and setting up camp somewhere else in the blospehere; but i was dumb. this place is the greatest. it's the first tab i open when i launch firefox. reading you guys is just like having a stat guy and color guy. speaking of which, can cliff and alex call the games on TV next year? i would get cable for that... : )

2005-10-12 14:12:40
20.   rsfaa
"I'm not trying to kiss any butt, but it's nice to see the Bronx faithful take it on the chin and not moan and bitch like those chowder eating A-holes in that rat-trap they call a ball field."

Are you sure you're not a yankee fan in disguise? Did you read all the comments about what a "tool" frod is, how much everyone here hates the angels and their fans?

Besides, with your comments, you come off as classless, so maybe what I've heard about angel fans is true.

2005-10-12 14:34:45
21.   yankee23
I'm late on this, but thanks Alex & Cliff for a great year of coverage and for providing a place for us to rant a bit ourselves. I'll still be checking in daily for all the hot stove coverage. Thanks guys!

and speaking of hot stove (though it seems a bit early...):

Has anyone read Jon Heyman's "10 ways to fix the Yankees and make them World Series champs again" column over at Newsday? I guess he's shooting to increase payroll by about 20%.

check it out...
http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-spjon1012,0,4662476.column?coll=ny-yankees-print&track=rss

2005-10-12 14:45:46
22.   randym77
Huh? How does trading Sheff for Manny "re-emphasaze character"?
2005-10-12 14:56:21
23.   Matt B
Don't try to figure out Jon Heyman. You'll get a hell of a headache and he still won't make sense. He's one of the worst baseball writers I've ever read. Newsday really should can his ass.
2005-10-12 15:19:23
24.   Shaun P
Mel is leaving:

http://tinyurl.com/add4m

No end-of-year press conference from Torre, at least not today.

2005-10-12 15:39:44
25.   dereks ugly brother
cliff and alex,

long-time reader (the very first article i read was the a preseason profile on bernie williams and derek jeter a couple of years ago...) first time poster...

just want to say thank you for this great site. it really has become part of my daily yankee habit. nothing beats having mlb gameday on on one window and the bronx banter comments on one window... it makes me feel like i'm "watching" the game with 200+ other rabid yankee fans!

more power and here's to an even more exciting '06 campaign!!

i still can't believe that we get this site for free... keep up the great writing! (hope this site doesn't go the way of espn with its "insider" nonsense)

2005-10-12 15:41:16
26.   randym77
Yikes. Sounds like the organization is more dysfunctional than ever...
2005-10-12 15:55:59
27.   Max
re #20 >>Besides, with your comments, you come off as classless, so maybe what I've heard about angel fans is true.<<

A Red Sox fan lecturing an Angel fan on class. Priceless.

nyhalo fan, thanks for the sentiments. Your guys are really tough, and I hated losing to them, but I think they're going to go pretty far.

2005-10-12 15:57:20
28.   NYhalofan
Hey RSFAA,
I didn't think "classless" was defined by saying this is the best blog on the web, the Angels lucked out winning against the Yanks (whom I love, I have homes on both coasts so people are capable of following more than one team) and we share a mutual hatred for Bo-Sox fans.
Send me your address and I'll send you a box of Jolly Ranchers, I'll bet your flavor is sour grape!
2005-10-12 16:00:37
29.   randym77
Welcome, Halofan. Please ignore our resident Red Sox troll. I think of it as a sort of mascott - entertaining, but not to be taken seriously. ;-)
2005-10-12 16:22:58
30.   rsmith51
Thanks, Alex and Cliff! This is the first website I go to in the morning. Look forward to reading more.
2005-10-12 17:04:30
31.   John from Philly
New to the website. Thanks for recommending Joe in Boston. A tough year for our Yanks, but alot of good things happened. Small, Wang, Cano, Chacon, etc.
Look forward to an exciting Hot Stove season and reading more great Yankee Banter.
2005-10-12 17:12:44
32.   Nick from Washington Heights
Adding my voice to the chorus: Thanks, Alex and Cliff.
2005-10-12 17:31:53
33.   BklynBomber
Regarding Mel's departure, one name I have not heard mentioned lately is Jimmy Key. I seem to remember some 'heir apparent' talk about him during Mel's annual "I'm leaving, I'm not leaving" posturing during the past few off seasons. Anyone know if Key is still in the organization?
2005-10-12 18:24:04
34.   sam2175
Bronx Banter has become almost a must-read for me, for the unique take that Alex usually has on games (not only commenting on the games, but also what goes on in the side, and some personal anecdotes), and for the hard work and research that Cliff usually puts into every series analysis. Keep up the goodd work, and I hope the Bronx Banter community will keep growing.

Once again, thanks, Alex and Cliff, not only for providing great insights on the games but also being the most gracious hosts to all kinds of fans.

2005-10-12 18:26:50
35.   vockins
To be fair, I think I am the only moron that insulted KRod and the Angels fans/stadium.

The insight from Cliff, Alex, and the comments is leagues better than any print media or 99% of the websites. Thanks!

2005-10-12 18:32:01
36.   Rob
Alex & Cliff, Thanks for guiding us through another rollercoaster of a season. Enjoy the offseason!
2005-10-12 19:48:52
37.   Shaun P
Bklyn, I have no idea where Jimmy Key is, but if he can coach as well as he could pitch, I'd be very happy with that move.

Earlier in the season, I remember hearing that bullpen coach Neil Allen was next in line. Wasn't he the Yanks' AA or AAA pitching coach before becoming the 'pen coach? Maybe that would make some of the young pitchers we all hope are coming next year feel more comfortable - or more likely to appear!

2005-10-12 20:03:35
38.   randym77
Oh, man. A bad call just let the White Sox win tonight's game. Karma, I say.
2005-10-12 20:08:02
39.   Shaun P
Hmm, seems the Angels are very upset with a call by the home plate umpire that led to the White Sox winning Game 2.

I'm not going to say any more - its really not worth it.

Anyone else know that Piniella is broadcasting the ALCS with Buck and McCarver? I remember the year he did games for MSG/Sportschannel - I thought he was pretty good. Wonder what he'd be like in the YES booth?

2005-10-12 21:01:27
40.   marc
Pretty cool, the umpires came to the interview room to be questioned by the media. The call was his gesture meant strike, not out and then the ball was trapped, not caught by the catcher. The umpires said back in their trailer or whatever they did look at the replay and the ball changed direction a little, consistent with not being a catch. I guess if the Yankees were in the game they would probably have had a tough time with Buhrle throwing 9 tough innings. I'm listening to the Angels radio feed and they're basically yelling and screaming about the umpires. I guess it comes down to whether the umpire signaled the guy out after he supposedly rose his hand and called it a strike. Enough of other team's problems, at least they're playing. I think the real problem is these lazy-ass signals a lot of umpires do today with these subtle little ambiguous gestures and not verbally yelling out the call. It also sounded like the ump may have done a poor job of trying to justify what happened
2005-10-12 21:13:45
41.   BklynBomber
Shaun — Since I'm in baseball detox and not tuning in right now, I wasn't aware Sweet Lou is in the booth. As far as him in the YES booth, based on his recent comments I'm hoping he'd pass on that, and rightfully so.

Just by virtue of the position, he'd be forced to comment on and/or second-guess every move Torre makes. That would seem to be a tightrope Lou has no need or reason to walk right now. Plus, the NY press vultures would be all over every broadcast looking for any morsel that could start a shitstorm, real or imagined.

And God forbid the Yanks drop three straight, they'd be calling for Joe's head and Lou's annointment — not that they wouldn't anyway, but with Lou literally and figuratively hovering over the situation, the scribes would have a field day. The team does not need that, there's enough distractions in The Big Apple as it is...

Kitty and Kenny would suit me fine all year long ;-)

2005-10-12 23:04:10
42.   Cliff Corcoran
Marc, although Buck, McCarver and Lou (who is so quiet you forget he's there with Tweedledee and Tweedledum) failed to pick up on it, the replay did show that the ball appeared to skip ever so slightly into Paul's glove. It's almost undetectable, but FOX enlarged the frame and you could see it bounce up into the pocket of Josh Paul's mitt, though, again, the broadcaster's failed to pick up on it and all other replays were at regular size when it was next to impossible to see.

The point here is that none of the umpires could have seen that, least of all the home plate ump Doug Eddings, who was viewing the play from behind. He could only assume that since Paul's glove touched the ground the ball must have hit the dirt (though Pierzynski claimed to hear the ball bounce, so perhaps that's what Eddings responded to).

More significantly, while Eddings' first jesture was indeed for a strike (arm extended out to his right, hand flat), once Paul stood up with the ball in his mitt, Eddings pumped his fist, suggesting an out call. I would like to hear an explanation of that fist pump, as, were it not for that, one would be tempted to blame Paul for not tagging Pierzynski. It would have taken very little effort for him to have patted A.J. on the back with the ball and it would have made the whole mess about what the call was moot. But given Eddings fist pump, one assumes that Paul thought that Pierzynski had been called out, which is Mike Scioscia's interpretation of events. All in all it's an unfortunate ending to an exciting game, though go figure that Kelvim Escobar, as well as he's pitched since returning from surger in September, couldn't get Joe Crede of all people to make some kind of out in that situation.

2005-10-13 00:21:03
43.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
Gotta give Scioscia credit. He was in the interview room seconds after the game ended fielding questions, and he kept saying, look, we didn't lose the game b/c of the ump we lost b/c we didn't get it done on the field. Class.

As for Crede, this is just my impression, from having watched a lot of the Sox this season, and isn't backed by any stats, but the guy seems to get a lot of big extra-base hit in the late innings, often to win games. Aside from Konerko and Iguchi, he'd be the last guy I wanted to pitch to with a runner in scoring position late in a tight game.

2005-10-13 02:44:56
44.   jesrp
It's crazy how I became a Yankee fan since I'm from continents away where people are generally apathetic about baseball. Weird, but I am. It's actually possible to be not from New York, or USA at all, & actually root heartily for the Yankees.

And like you guys, I was sad & disappointed (still am). Some of the posters here are right when they said it's really unexplainable how one can feel sad for people you're not even related to, & obviously whom doesn't even know you exist, but despite of, with losses like this, we still feel miserable like we actually played on the field. The woes of sports fans, I guess.

But believe me when I say it's actually sadder that nobody here in my part of the world, gets me for being a tad too emotional about the Yankees early exit.

That's why this blog is a blessing for me.

However, lest I be stereotyped as a "jumping on the bandwagon" kind of fan & be lambasted by all the insightful, rational & baseball experts posting here (whose posts I avidly read by the way), I haven't braved this section of this wonderful blog til now.

And I did now, only to express my deep appreciation for this site, which I completely have been dependent on & has become my first stop for anything Yankees.

I cannot let the season end without saying my big THANK YOU to Alex & Cliff for all their great work. You guys are the best. It's real fun knowing great Yankee fans like you.

Inspite of the bitter ending, it definitely was one heck of a ride that was quite predictable, yet, was still exciting until the last at-bat.

Hope we have an interesting offseason. And of course, looking forward to hopefully, a great season next year.

2005-10-13 05:14:30
45.   Toxteth OGrady
Another from far away whose first port of call every morning is BB on BT to check out what really happened last night who wants to thank everyone here for the top class site.
2005-10-13 05:27:15
46.   Iain
One of the "chowder eating A-holes" would like to say that he enjoys reading BB. It's a great place to stop by and see what's going on with the Yankees. Keep up the good work, guys.
2005-10-13 05:53:58
47.   KJC
Ditto from another chowder-eating a-hole Sox fan (though I'm not really big on chowder). I've been coming to BB since the beginning (thanks to Edw. Cossette) and always enjoy the writing & discussions. Thanks again Alex & Cliff!
2005-10-14 01:18:00
48.   David
Thanks Alex and Cliff. This has been a great site.

And, thanks to all the commendters for their interesting observations.

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