Saturday, October 23, 2010
NYY ~ Mystic & Aura Have Left the Building
The Champions will not defend their title.
Girardi and his binder made many questionable moves not just in this series, but in the month in September; managing more with an eye on the play-offs and setting things up, getting role players some time and sacrificing an inning here and a game there, for the sake of forward thinking. I'm not going to say winning the division would have changed anything. What I'm pointing out was the sense of "settling" for a Wild Card, when everyone, Yankee fans and Haters alike, are accustomed to a radically different mentality when driving the Bronx Bus. Times are a changin'. There was no impending outburst or rant from the Boss for thinking anything differently than what a Champion should be thinking. This time the Yankees seemed content driving in the middle lane down the stretch.
The Yankees seemed to have no pressing need to win the division title. They seemed quite satisfied winning the Wild Card with the thinking all they have to do is make the playoffs and then it's a whole new ball game as if to imply there would be a switch Joe Girardi could flick-on once the post-season commenced.
Then, once in the playoffs, there was a willingness by the Yankees, in the face of elimination, to compromise their chances of winning game 4 by dredging through the ongoing swamp of extraneous factors mucking the relationship between AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada. The fact they seemingly escaped that dilemma up until an intentional walk and a blast, had more to do with Girardi's binder than Jorge playing or AJ's grapefruit belt-high pitch. The fact AJ almost uncorked a wild pitch on an intentional walk just made it look ugly.
It's unfair however to come crumbling down on Joe Girardi though. His binder is co-authored. Joe Girardi is Brian Cashman's guy because of Brian's belief (not reliance) in new Sabermatrician(ism) (?) and Girardi's willingness to implement it. Cashman by the way, is a "horse" of another Garage. He needs a separate post all to himself.
The problems the Bombers faced this series ran deeper than questionable moves by Girardi or faulty starting pitching. The fact the Yankees suffered from a shocking lack of situational hitting and clutch at-bats should surprise no one. Some how this line-up has been, for some years now, susceptible to getting bogged-down in 2-1 games or shut-outs,and in 1,2 or 3 hit affairs. When you populate a line-up with sluggers and cheap out on the little slap and scrap hitters, this is what happens. What works against one GasHouse Gorilla, can be used on all GasHouse Gorillas.
For this series, Mark Teixeira (before his injury) and Alex Rodriguez were dreadful as the three and four hitters. Derek Jeter was either "0-for" or struggling to achieve 2 for 5. Without going through the whole line-up, Robinson Cano was the only Yankee slugger living up to the Bronx Bomber moniker. The Millionaires Club was stifled in a manner reminiscent of the Florida Marlins locking down Yankee bats in 2003. Last night's one run/three hit effort is a testament.
What also lends itself to the oddity which was the Yankees' 2010 season down the stretch and into the playoffs was the lack of electricity at Yankee Stadium. The crowds had their moments but they were few and sporadic at best. The frenzy of Playoff Baseball in Yankee Stadium was strangely absent this October.
Not only was the Stadium quiet, if not muted, it emptied in droves further highlighting the sporadic fans sitting in the Billionaire's Club seating. Never once did the place stay packed in the hopes the Ghosts would help the Yankees to a comeback win. That undying faith couldn't get a ticket to the game this year. The obvious gaps of empty seats as viewed on TV still plays out as an embarrassment for the Yankees. Sadly, so many of the zaniest and passionate fans; the ones who'd jump up and down, screaming their enthusiasm have been priced out and as a result there are less of those types in the park.
If the Yankees still had games to play this October this would all be constructive criticism. But because they lost, this is more of an indictment.
And now all the talk of AGE and how it plays a part on this Yankee roster creeps back into the conversation with regard to all their veterans (and contract status'...Jeter). Why? Because they lost. That's the way it goes.
I have been speaking to the Yankees increasing age and demise for a couple of years now within my circles (of course). Last year was a total monkey wrench into my spokes in that line of thinking. Championships can do that. But who anticipated the Yankees spending half a billion dollars on three players (CC, AJ, and TEX) over the course of a month and a half. They effectively paid to stave off the aging process and it's affects in the short term, but the problem obviously still persists.
The Laws of Baseball are universal like the Laws of the Universe. As it pertains here, you can't win them all. The Yankees' large expenditures allow them to sustain competitiveness on a yearly basis. That however does not guarantee them Championships. In that respect, all remains well in the Universe.
However, in Club Evil Empire things have taken a turn for the strange. Something has been lost. Perhaps Mystic and Aura, 9 years later aren't the vibrant, glittering glamour gals they were back in 2001. Their hips just can't take the rigors of pole dancing anymore. They're more the soccer-mom types now.
Age withers us all.