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"C" is for Closers
2005-10-24 05:41
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Watching Bobby Jenks and Brad Lidge both get smacked around last night simply made me appreciate what we Yankee fans have in Mariano Rivera even more than I already do. Sure, Mo's got two famous blown saves to his credit ('97 and '01), but hey, you wouldn't be human as a reliever if you didn't have a few big losses in there, right? And in Rivera's case those two blips hardly overwhelm his great success.

I first-guessed Chicago's choice of bringing Jenks in the game in the first place. With a rested bullpen, it just didn't seem necessary. Just as they broke for commercial, Fox introduced Jenks like they were making the next rock star closer: cool name, throws gas. But Jenks' location was awful and he allowed two runs to score tying the game at six. The night before he sent Jeff Bagwell down swining at hard stuff up in the zone. Last night, with the count 2-2, he throws a fastball down, and Bagwell was able to reach out and poke a single to center. Jenks made virtually the same pitch, low and away to Jose Vizcaino, who slapped the game-tying single into left (that hit must have brought back some fond memories for Yankee fans, as it was the same kind of single that won Game 1 of the Subway Serious back in 2000). King Kong one night, mediocre in two-thirds of an inning the next night.

Then Lidge served up a belt-high heater to Scott Podsednick of all people, who lined a home run to win the game for Chicago. Lidge is tremendous but has now blown two consecutive games. Pujols, you can understandable, but Podsednick is tough to swallow.

Oh and speaking of closing, Brian Cashman has exactly one week remaining on his contract as the GM of the Yankees. According to the New York Post, Cashman could announce his plans later this afternoon.

Comments
2005-10-24 08:11:34
1.   JVarghese81
Scott Podsednick!?! Good God, when he came up, that was the last thing I thought that he would do...0 HRs all season and then bang, it's gone. It actually kind of reminded me of the Bubba walk-off against the Orioles this year though obviously Mr. Podsednick was hitting against a FAR better pitcher and in a far more tense situation.
2005-10-24 08:49:26
2.   Oscar Azocar
You're right about Vizcaino, Alex. When he came out of the dugout, I thought "this guy has won a world series game before for the Yanks." Then he did it again (or tied the game this time around), same exact kind of hit.
2005-10-24 09:10:53
3.   Alex Belth
I'm sure a lot of Yankee fans were thinking that scrappy dude might do exactly what he did.

I wasn't overjoyed for Podsednick either. Would have rather had Iguchi hit that one. I've been down on Podsednick since I read the following characterization of him following the White Sox loss to the Angels in the ALCS in Howard Bryant's Boston Herald blog:

"It appears that the White Sox are starting to feel the pressure of the moment. After losing last night, a fair number of White Sox players, after being the Cinderella darlings who dethroned the champion Red Sox, suddenly weren't in the mood to talk. Scott Podsednik, yes, Scott Podsednik, big-leagued it by refusing interviews following an ALCS game. Podsednik doesn't get it. These aren't just games. This is one of baseball's showcases, where everyone has to act nice and represent the product. Podsednik refusing to talk on a Friday night against the Royals is one thing. Acting like a chump on the big stage is quite another."

2005-10-24 09:49:14
4.   Dan M
I had the game on the radio, and when Vizcaino came up, Morgan and Miller described a conversation they had with him before the game, in which he confidently told them that he could hit Jenks. That he likes hitting against guys who just throw gas. Then he delivered, and Miller exclaimed, "And Vizcaino lives up to his boast!"

Btw, where I generally like Jon Miller on TV, he is such a natural on radio. It's delightful. Morgan, on the other hand, is even worse on the radio.

2005-10-24 09:55:05
5.   Astoria Chris
I had the same thought about Vizcaino - he's done this before in the World Serious. Forgot that it was game 1 against the Mets, but it was nice to see him smack that ball into left nonetheless. I never noticed before that he looks a bit like El Duque - is Jose Cuban too? (not that they all look alike... )

On another note, it must have been mentioned before on this site, but should we read anything into the fact that Clemens, Petite, Contreras and Duque are in the WS this year while the Yanks are playing golf?

FInally, I also thought that it was lack of experience that kept Willie out of a manager's job for years and years, but Girardi's quick rise from first year bench coach to courted managerial candidate makes me think it's hard for a non-white man to be taken seriously in most of baseball's executive suites. That is fucked up.

2005-10-24 10:38:33
6.   Shaun P
I didn't see the game, but when I heard the highlights, and saw that Vizcaino was part of the almost-comeback - I smiled. Happy memories of the Game 1 in the 00 Serious, which I watched with a Mets fan and a bunch of Saux fans. I took crap from them all night, and said nothing until Jose did his thing. Very satisfying, on many levels.

On Girardi and Randolph, I guess having a degree in engineering from Northwestern (Girardi) - and being a catcher - helps a lot on the old C.V. But you'd think having played on some great teams and under some terrific managers (Billy Martin, Sweet Lou, Tony LaRussa, LaSorda to name a few) would have been a big plus on Randolph's resume - plus the 12 years of coaching under Showalter and Torre! Always hard to say, but I sure do wonder a lot why it took Randolph so long. Its a tough issue, and I'll leave voicing those issues to folks much smarter and wiser than I am.

2005-10-24 11:01:10
7.   Ben
It seems that when Randolph was fresh to coaching, 12 or so years ago, the old boy network for managers was more in place. After not getting that quick opportunity, it didn't surprise me to see that he was not getting hired year after year. It's like a guy that gets stuck in middle management, after a few years, even none old-boy folks will start to wonder why he's been a 3rd base coach for so long. The foundation is bigotry, the rest is shallow analysis.

All that aside, If you were to ask me who I would rather have follow Torre, it would be Girardi. I surmise that he uses good sabermetric analysis from reports on his style, plus the way he protected Cone after their perfect game, pulling him to safety from the on-rushing teamates says a lot about his instinct to protect his guys. I think he'll make a fine manager, and I think Willie will do better if he can get out of New York. Not that he's done poorly, but it seems a tough town to premier in.

2005-10-24 11:14:11
8.   JohnnyC
All good points, Ben. While I also think Girardi has lots of upside as a manager, one wonders what happened to his sabermetric analysis this season, working under Torre? Considering his good relationship with Torre, you wonder why Girardi's influence was not much more visible than it was (which is to say it was practically invisible).
2005-10-24 11:22:18
9.   Dimelo
Jose Vizcaino is Dominican.

I hope the Astros win tomorrow and get back in this thing. I don't want to see the White Sox as World Series champs. Everyday I dislike them more -and-more. The praise being bestowed upon Ozzie Guillen is quite annoying already. I love how Garner handles his business. Everyday having to hear about another Ozzie quote or another one of his stupid antics is getting to his head and he's starting to believe his own (self-created) hype. AJ Pierzynski is the Curt Schilling of catchers, I can't stand Carl Everett and would hate to see his dumb ass with a ring, Jenks is an overweight Felix Rodriguez - throws straight and hard. Buehrle is overrated, as is Garland. Garland is this year's Esteban Loiaza. I'm glad Jenks blew that save yesterday, at the same time I was very, very happy for Jose. I beg the baseball Gods to keep the city of Chicago suffering and not reward them with a championship. For once, I wish the umpires would stop handing the White Sox all these calls. Oswalt goes tomorrow……I'll be rooting for you.

2005-10-24 11:33:21
10.   BxSparksNYC
My sentiments exactly JohnnyC. For all the talk that Girardi will/would be a great manager and a stat/saber junky, where was that besides Joe all year? I for one thought having Joe next to Joe was going to be of huge benefit. Can't say I outwardly saw it. He actually looked like he didn't want to step on Torre's toe so to speak. That said, who knows what kind of influence the next bench coach (Bowa, Mazz, etc) will have with Torre. Seems he only listed to Zimm...
2005-10-24 12:02:10
11.   Simone
After Jenks and Lidge blew their saves, my appreciation for Mariano Rivera went even more off the charts. Everytime the media tries to put someone new in his league, they turn out to be frauds.

Scott Podsednik?! Pathetic. How does Lidge live this one down? And in the World Series no less. At least, the other save he blew giving up the home run was to Pujols.

Alex, making the All Star game over Derek Jeter probably went to Podsednik's head. Podsednik is the new "face" MLB.

Frankly, I'm tired of the White Sox already and they haven't won anything yet. They are just like all the other one time winners since the Yankees' dynasty. The media hypes the managers up as geniuses and the players as studs only for them stink up the joint the next year.

2005-10-24 12:49:08
12.   rilkefan
I can't hold the 2001 blown save against Mo - Brosius screwed a DP, as I recall, and the hits were bloopy. I guess Mo did throw a cutter to 1st, but I thought he made the pitches he wanted.
2005-10-24 14:12:33
13.   Alex Belth
Simone, I hear you but think about it (or rationalize it) this way: the White Sox winning makes them champs for a year. Big deal for them. Not in the scope of everyone else. Sort of like the Red Sox last year. (Although to be fair, Boston was a superior team to this year's White Sox.)
2005-10-24 14:37:50
14.   Knuckles
"For a 24-year-old, Jenks has a busy history. In his younger days, it featured drinking, lots of drinking, as he has admitted and as was chronicled in an article in ESPN the Magazine two and a half years ago. The history includes his failure to qualify academically to play baseball in three of four years in high school and his failure to graduate from high school. More recently, it includes elbow injuries that curtailed the past two seasons."

Man, I knew the Angels of California de La Playa Vista y Long Beach gave up on Jenks b/c of his drinking, but how dumb do you have to be to not qualify academically to play sports in high school?

I'm still pulling for the Chisox though, mainly b/c they're an AL team, and also because El Duque is one of my favorite players ever.

2005-10-24 22:33:42
15.   marc
New NYT article on Cashman staying and other changes

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/25/sports/baseball/25yanks.html

2005-10-24 23:02:03
16.   susan mullen
Mariano Rivera is the greatest late inning
relief pitcher in baseball history. Not just
my opinion---the media darling, Trevor Hoffman,
told that to Buster Olney, published in 2004.
I get sick to death about people bringing up
the one pitch in 1997, which was only the ALDS
anyway. The Marlins were going to win. And in
2001, the Yankees could not get a hit. Mo didn't do anything bad--he overthrew an ordin-
ary relay to 2nd base which went into center
field. I turned that game off then. He is nor-
mally excellent defensively. He carried that
entire team on his back that series--it was
just an imbalance of nature that finally
gave way. I spend a lot of time pondering why
the lowlifes in the media are vehemently
against giving Mo his due. It is to the point
that they'd rather drink a gallon of Drano.
This Trevor Hoffman's agent sounds like a
Borus knock off. My theory is that he & others may have wanted people to keep Mo's
image low in part to help Hoffman get more
money. Well, so far, Hoffman has no job. Also, Eckersley is still around all the time,
& I'm sure he doesn't want Mo getting credit.
None of them do. It is up to us to expose
this duplicity. By the way, isn't Lee Mazzilli white?
2005-10-25 00:47:31
17.   nick
I have to agree with Susan here: Mo's postseason numbers greatly exceed his (excellent) regular-season numbers; the same can't be said for, eg, Jeter, who I think most would agree is the Yankee most credited with clutch achievements by the media. But think about the nature of closing--you're supposed to mostly succeed; it's the failures that stand out.......re Alex's comment, not sure I agree: am I supposed to dislike Podsednik because the media tell me he dosen't get it? I'm of two minds here: on the one hand, it's nice to see a white player getting dissed for not talking to the media; on the other hand, who gives a damn about the media and the tedious build-em-up/bring-em-down? Ballplayers are mostly pretty dull talkers; nor should one expect them to be otherwise. Watching them play ball, however, can be pretty damn interesting....
2005-10-25 00:48:25
18.   nick
for "the tedious [etc]" read "their"....
2005-10-25 06:46:50
19.   22Ryan
"Sure, Mo's got two famous blown saves to his credit ('97 and '01)"

Was that written before the 2004 ALCS?

2005-10-25 07:25:59
20.   Alex Belth
Yo 22Ryan, see how powerful denial is? Yo dog, I totally spaced out the two blown saves in last year's ALCS, although I don't really put the blame for Game 5 on Mo. But you are correct there. My bad.

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