Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-09-15 13:07
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

As Emily and I continued to unpack this weekend, we had the Yankee games on in the background. On Friday night, she turns to me and says, "You know what? I get really sad when the game gets into the 6th, 7th, 8th innings because it means that the game is almost over." You can only imagine how excited she was when the Yanks and D-Rays played a day-night double header on Saturday. She was miffed that there wasn't another double header on Sunday.

Have I picked the right woman or what?

The Yanks won three of four from Tampa Bay and increased their lead over the Red Sox to 5 1/2 games. (The Red Sox lost two of three to Chicago in Boston.) Their magic number for clincing the division stands at nine games with thirteen left to play. It would take a Gene Mauch-like collapse for the Yanks to miss the post season at this point. It's hard to see Joe Torre going out like that.

It was a wet and humid weekend in New York, and until yesterday's 5-2 loss, the Bombers had reeled off eight consecutive wins. Jason Giambi is starting to swing the bat well again, and Bernie Williams enjoyed his 35th birthday in style.

Jose Contreras was nasty yesterday and struck out a career-high eight batters. (He then showed off his playa threads as part of an annual rookie hazing after the game.) I don't have a great feel for him yet. It might not be fair to compare him to El Duque, but I keep thinking about the Yankees' erstwhile Cubano as I watch Contreras.

Contreras has much better "stuff" than El Duque, but he doesn't seem to have the same competitive poise. When he gets ahead of batters, and is "on", Contreras looks impressive. His forkball---a splitter that sinks in a floating motion not unlike a knuckle ball---is especially effective. But when he falls behind, he unravels quickly.

It's also hard to tell much about Contreras' personality on the mound. He looks like a sleepy hulk. If El Duque was an international man of mystery--the Yankees version of Yul Brenner, Contreras comes across much more like a gentle giant, our very own Herman Munster (actually, that's not a great call, but it's the best I can come up so far...OK, he looks more like a combination of Delroy Lindo and Shrek). Hernandez was a red ass, and he was difficult to deal with when he wasn't completely healthy, but he also possessed an inimitable style on the mound that Yankee fans won't soon forget.

It is hard not to be curious about Contreras, especially considering that he's gonig to be around for a minute. With Antonio Osuna taking a beating again yesterday, it is likely that the big man will serve as a reliever during the playoffs. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.

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