While getting on Jeff Weaver---or Joe Torre for letting Jeff Weaver pitch--may be in the front of every frustrated Yankee fan's mind today, the poor play of Aaron Boone and Alfonso Soriano can't be far behind. In his latest column--which features a nice tribute to Orlando Cepeda--Bruce Markusen defends Boone (not to mention Grady Little). The column was written prior to last night's game, so his thoughts are dated, but Markusen's work is always worth checking out.
David Pinto isn't so forgiving of Boone's careless approach to hitting. However, watching Boone fail miserably in extra innings last night has given Pinto a better appreciation of Godzilla Matsui's talents:
Boone was just the opposite [of Godzilla] at the plate in the 11th. The Yankees had the bases loaded, 1 out and the Marlins brought the infield in. Matsui (and most great hitters) in this situation would wait for a pitch that he could handle. The pitcher can't afford to throw balls in this situation, since a walk gives the opposition the lead. Unless the first pitch is the phattest you've ever seen, you should take it. Give the pitcher a chance to put himself in the hole so you can force him into the strikezone. Boone swung at the first pitch and missed. Now Boone's in the hole. He swings at the 2nd pitch and fouls it off. Now he's really in the hole, and has to swing defensively.
And, I might remind, that these were full-force spin-me-around grand-slam swings. He wasn't just trying to meet the ball, he was trying to kill it. The infield was in! If he just meets the ball the likelihood is that the Yankees are going to score.
In the end, Boone saw seven pitches and swung at six of them, missing the last one. He did not adjust to the initial situation. He did not adjust during the AB. He did everything wrong. I was waiting for Willie Randolph to run down from the third base coaching box and yell at him to choke up on the bat. Matsui or Jeter or Posada or (choose your favorite Yankee other than Soriano) would have approached that situation differently. I can't say that the outcome would have been different, but I can the chance of a better outcome would have been a lot higher. I hope Aaron's been properly scolded about that event.
I have to agree with Pinto. I think Boone's at bat was far more upsetting than the dinger Weaver allowed. Today, Aaron Boone and Alfonso Soriano's names are mud. But there is always tonight...