I spent almost the entire day yesterday travelling from Vermont back down to the Bronx via Amtrak. The less said about the trip home the better. The same could be said for the Yankees unsightly performance this weekend against the Devil Rays. I got home last night and called a friend who was livid with the Yankees. Not only that but he simply does not believe they have any heart, any business being considered a post-season threat. "They have no killer instinct, they think they can just show up and be good enough. After beating the Sox they get ripped twice by mediocre pitchers on the Devil Rays? What is that?" I didn't have an answer. "Joe Torre," he continued, "has to be the worst manager in the game when it comes to pitching moves." He proceeded to describe yesterday's events, when Pettitte stayed in the game too long (why didn't Joba Chamberlain start the seventh?), and by the time Torre made a move it was "four batters too late." This reminded me of the comparison Met players used to make between Yogi Berra and Gil Hodges. In the third inning, the thinking went, Hodges was thinking about what to do in the sixth inning. In the sixth inning, Yogi was thinking about what he should have done in the third.
My friend believes that since 2001, Joe Torre's teams have been seriously lacking, and a lot of it can be traced back to the skipper. "Just look at their combined playoff record after they were tied or had a lead in the playoffs." I said, "Yeah, but look at the Mariners. They've lost nine straight. And look at the Tigers." He wasn't having it. Whether the Yankees make the playoffs or not, he doesn't think they'll make it out of the first round. So I bet him a dinner that when the Yankees make the playoffs they'll win the first round.
Call it a sucker's bet or blind faith, but what the heck?
Cliff is away on vacation, so there won't be a Mariners Preview as per usual. I'm not even going to try and replicate what Cliff does so well. What I do know is that Seattle has lost nine in a row but they also have their ace, Felix Hernandez, going today. That isn't a good sign for the Yanks, who'll counter with Rocket Clemens. Something's got to give. Will we see the same uninspired effort that we saw this past weekend, or something closer to what we saw last week against the Red Sox? If the Yankees have any killer instinct in them, they'll win two of three here, even sweep. But if they lose this series--and I don't think anyone would be surprised either way--the book will still be open on this team. Are they pretenders or contenders?
That is the $64,000 question.
It is absolutely gorgeous in New York today, cool and overcast.