"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: May 2005

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The Royals

Baseball is a fickle game. On any given day, the worst team in the major leagues can beat the best team. On any given day the worst hitter in the game can go 4 for 4 and the best 0 for 5, while the best pitcher can take the mound without his stuff and get rocked as the worst finds an unfamiliar feel and pitches a complete game shutout. A large part of this is that baseball, more than any other sport, is a game dependent to a large degree on luck. It’s the line-drive right at a fielder versus the weak grounder that finds a hole, the hanging curve that’s taken for a high strike versus the one with a sharp break and great placement that gets deposited in the seats.

These are all reasons that the two tremendous losses the Yankees suffered at the hands of the Red Sox this weekend (total score, 24-3) don’t really bother me all that much. It was clear that Pavano and Mussina simply didn’t have it and that Clement and Wells (who found that famous curve after the first inning on Sunday) did. In and of itself, that doesn’t really reveal any essential flaws in this Yankee team other than the fact that they were simply off their game two days in a row. Consider the following:

Tuesday through Thursday the Tigers are swept by the Yankees. Friday through Sunday the Orioles are swept by the Tigers. Saturday and Sunday the Red Sox humiliate the Yankees. Monday night, the Red Sox get crushed by the Orioles (8-1).

There’s no logic to that. As of this afternoon, the Orioles are the best of those four teams (.620 winning percentage), the Tigers the worst (.479) and the Red Sox and Yankees are tied, four games behind the O’s in second place in the AL East with .540 winning percentages. One or two, or even three-game sample sizes are simply not enough to determine the relative quality of two or more teams. Heck, take the seven days since Tuesday:

Orioles 5-2
Yankees 4-2
Tigers 3-3
Red Sox 2-5

Then there are these guys:

Royals 0-6

Yeah, they’re that bad. But given the nature of the game, even the Royals, who are indeed the worst team in baseball (.260 winning percentage, even worse than the Colorado Springs Sky So . . . er, Rockies at .286), win a game every now and then (once every four days or so, to be precise). Having been without an official manager since Tony Peña resigned exactly three weeks ago today, the Royals have just hired Buddy Bell, who will manage his first game for Kansas City tonight. With a new skipper in the dugout and their best pitcher on the mound, the exciting young phenom Zach Greinke, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Royals stop that six-game losing streak tonight despite being clearly overmatched by the invading Yankees. That’s just how this game works.

That said, the Yankees should feast on the Royals over the next three days, which would be a nice way to kick off the year’s longest road trip (12 games in four cities).

More on the Royals themselves below the fold.

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The Summer of Second Chances

Book Excerpt

Chapter Two from “Forging Genius”

By Steven Goldman

(First of Two Parts)

“Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U. S. Steel.” The line is variously attributed. It might have been said by the comedian Joe E. Lewis, whose son was the general manager of the hapless Pittsburgh Pirates; the great sports columnist Red Smith; Spinoza; or Maimonedes. Whatever its provenance, it perfectly encapsulated the preferred image of the New York Yankees. New York City’s American League ball club liked to portray itself as a horsehide IBM, an organization run with the clockwork precision that generated almost constant success. While the on-field victories that fueled this image were generated by players no less earthy or hard bitten than any of their contemporaries, the Yankees, seen through the lens of that era’s sports pages, appeared to succeed through high character, superior morals, management, and discipline, all held together by the esprit de corps of an elite military unit. Though the team had ridden to incredible riches on the back of Babe Ruth’s boisterous and often-boorish exploits, the organization saw Ruth as an excess to be tolerated. It was hoped that the fans, though they loved the Babe, would prefer to identify with the quiet efficiency of Lou Gehrig, “a self-effacing star who never gave a manager a day’s trouble.”

The Yankee formula meant victories and businesslike comportment. Deviation from the formula was not long tolerated. Hence the almost palpable sense that something had gone wrong when on October 13, 1948, the New York Yankees announced that Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel had been hired to manage the team for the next two seasons, replacing the popular incumbent, Bucky Harris. Stengel, a fifty-eight-year-old veteran of nine lackluster managerial campaigns, was widely perceived to be a clown, “A second division manager who was entirely satisfied to have a losing ball club so long as Stengel and his wit were appreciated.” The general attitude among the newspapermen who covered the team, which they then transmitted to the public, was disbelief.

There was no reason for their skepticism, and the writers knew it. At mid-century, many of the New York sportswriters had been covering baseball since the days of Cobb and Wagner. Stengel had been associated with New York baseball almost as long, having played, coached, or managed in the city for all or parts of fourteen seasons from 1912 to 1917, 1921 to 1923, and 1932 to 1936. The same writers whose mouths were agape at Stengel’s hiring had spoken with him, drunk with him, and ridden the rails with him on the long trips to baseball’s distant outposts in St. Louis and Chicago (until 1958, baseball thought the American frontier ended at the Mississippi river and that “The Lewis and Clark Expedition” referred to an evening in 1921 when Duffy Lewis and Clark Griffith stayed out all night trying to find the best speakeasy in the District of Columbia). Their coverage of him had always reflected their apprehension of his intelligence and the bonhomie of their relationship.

Stengel’s unexpected association with the Yankees changed everything. The sportswriters of 1948, as with the political journalists of today, had only a sideline in reporting the events of the day. Their primary job was to produce storylines, in the soap opera sense of the word. With over a dozen area daily newspapers, game stories were a commodity product. What sold papers were heroes and goats, complex events and personalities reduced to morality plays, fairy tales without the sophistication.

New York City had three baseball teams in those days, and each had long had an established character, unchanging, like the cardboard leading men in the boys’ adventure serials of the time; unflinching square-jawed hero in episode one, unflinching square-jawed hero in chapter twenty-five. The Dodgers were bumbling and yet lovable. The Giants were hard-bitten and driven, as exemplified by a managerial line of descent from John McGraw to Bill Terry to Leo Durocher, the momentary interruption of which by the administration of the milquetoast Mel Ott inspired Durocher to quip, “Nice guys finish last.”

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While I Was Sleepin…

Sorry I wasn’t around yesterday to recap the Sunday night game. Call it a rare day of rest for Cliff and me. But other than Gary Winfield’s line drive dinger in the first, there wasn’t much to get excited about for Yankee fans, as a three-headed Red Sox monster (Edgar-Cookie-Manny) helped sink Mike Mussina. Boomer Wells, sporting some silly-looking facial hair, had a rocky first inning and then settled down and pitched a fine game. Rodrigo Lopez did much better against Boston last night, as the Sox, Yanks trail the Orioles by four games in the AL East (the Jays are four-and-a-half behind). The Bombers start the first of four series on the road in Kansas City tonight.

Ooof

Man, talk about a good game to miss. I was out and about all afternoon and didn’t catch a moment of the memorable–for some anyway17-1 beating the Sox gave the Yanks at the stadium.

Looked long and uuuuugly. Sox fans still worried about Edgar Renteria?

Passing the Test

When the Yankees won ten in a row against the lowly A’s and Mariners (who currently have the second and third worst records in the AL) there were many observers, myself included, who felt that the true test of this Yankee team would be what they did next, particularly against the rival Mets and Red Sox. Well, since returning from the west coast, the Yankees have won six of seven including two of three from the Mets and their last five straight. The most recent of those victories came last night at the expense not only of the rival Sox, but against a pitcher who always seems to have their number, knuckleballer and would-be 2003 ALCS MVP Tim Wakefield, who was 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA in last six regular-season starts against the Yankees.

Opposing Wakefield on the mound was Randy Johnson, who has yet to turn in the sort of dominating performance the Yankees expected they’d get routinely when they traded twenty percent of their starting rotation and their Catcher of the Future for him in January. Last night was no different. Despite dialing his fastball up to 95-96 miles per hour for the first time all season, Johnson struggled with his control and threw far to many hittable pitches. Fortunately, he was able to get out of the almost constant trouble he got himself in.

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The Red Sox

The Yankees and Red Sox kick off a three-game weekend series in the Bronx tonight. The Yankees are tied with the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the Orioles and 1/2 game ahead of the Red Sox. The two teams are tied in the loss column (the Yankees have one extra win). Both teams are within a win of their Pythagorean expectations, but the Yankees are a fraction of a win under and the Red Sox are a fraction of a win over, meaning the Yankees should be expected to increase their lead on the Sox given the performance of the two teams thus far this season. In their first six games against each other in April the Yankees and Red Sox each won their home series to split the six games right down the middle at three wins a piece.

The Yankees are currently five games over .500, their high-water mark for the season. The Red Sox were eight games over .500 back on May 11, having won 8 of their last 9 and 10 of their last 12 at that point. Since then they’ve gone 4-8 against the A’s, Mariners, Braves and Blue Jays, losing their series with the A’s and M’s and getting swept by the Blue Jays.

On the season, both the Yankees and Red Sox are having a mighty hard time against their intra division opponents:

Opponent New York Boston
NY/Bos 3-3 3-3
Orioles 1-5 2-2
Blue Jays 3-2 2-6
Devil Rays 2-4 4-2
Total 9-14 11-13

Here’s the roster the Red Sox bring into the Bronx tonight:

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Taking Stock and Second Place

After pounding the Tigers into submission on Tuesday, the Yankees won a tidy 4-2 ballgame on Wednesday behind Chien-Ming Wang and then finished off the sweep with a nifty 4-3 comeback win behind Kevin Brown last night. Brown allowed just three runs on ten hits in seven full while striking out four and walking none (70 percent strikes) to earn his fourth-straight win. The big hit in the game was a two-run bomb by Alex Rodriguez in the fifth that brought the Yankees back from a 3-2 deficit.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays finished off a sweep of their own . . . of the Red Sox. As a result the Yankees and Blue Jays remain tied in the AL East, but for second place, a half game ahead of the now fourth-place Red Sox, who come to the Bronx to night for a three game series.

The Yankees are now 15-2 over their last seventeen games and with a little more than a week having passed since the season passed the quarter mark, now seems as good a time as any to take a player-by-player look at how things are shaping up in Yankeeland. We’ll start today with the offense.

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House Money

I don’t have much to say in anticipation of tonight’s game. The Yanks are playing with house money having already taken the series from the Tigers and moved within 1/2 game of the Red Sox. The worst-case scenario (barring an injury) would have the Yankees enter the three game weekend series with Boston 1 1/2 games behind their rivals. Obviously a sweep would be nice, but with Kevin Brown facing Jeremy Bonderman, no one should lose any sleep if the Yanks drop one tonight to the Tiger’s young ace. That said, I’ll have one hand on my broom tonight.

Bonderman v Brown

Each time Kevin Brown takes the mound, I imagine that it’s going to be a long, stupid night for the Yankees. But to his credit, Brown has performed reasonably well of late. (Not that I’m changing my tune or nuthin.) Let’s see what he’s got in store for us tonight. Anyhow, I’m curious to see J. Bonderman pitch.

Go Yanks.

Nice Grab

Chien-Ming Wang pitched another solid game last night, greatly helped by two double plays, as the Bombers beat the Tigers, 4-2. Wang doesn’t mince around. He works quickly, and puts the ball in play. He left the game with runners on first and third and one out, up by three, in the seventh inning. Mike Stanton relieved him and promptly gave up a single. Runners on first and second and in comes Taynon Sturtze.

Marcus Thames blooped a humpback fly ball to short center field. Bernie Williams came in but there was no way he was going to catch up to it. Robinson Cano got a good jump and arrived under the ball first. But he didn’t notice Derek Jeter, in full-on John Stallworth post-pattern, Super Bowl XIV mode. Jeter, with his back to the plate, stretched out his glove, made the catch, and fell on top of Cano. For his part, Cano looked like a free safety that spotted an errant pass. He drifted over to the ball thinking he was going to make an easy interception. But Jeter was John Stallworth, and he forcefully snatched the ball from him, at the last minute. (Bernie looked on like any good referee would.) Just as impressive as the catch, was how quickly Jeter got to his feet and returned the ball to the infield. Jeter’s spikes caught Cano, but the young second baseman appeared more startled than hurt. Add it to Jeter’s highlight reel.

Sturtze got the last out of the inning, Flash Gordon–pitching much better of late–struck out two in the eighth, and Mariano Rivera threw twenty-three pitches (walking one) in a scoreless ninth. Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada drove in the Bombers’ four runs, and it was enough for another series victory. The Yanks go for the sweep tonight against the Tigers’ best pitcher. Kevin Brown will pitch for the home team. Which is a good thing considering that the Red Sox are up next.

The End of the Line…or Not

My brother called me during the game last night and wondered if the Yankees would consider keeping Bernie Williams next year; buying out his option, then signing him to a small-time, one-year deal. After talking about it for a few minutes, the idea of Bernie in the DH/PH, Rock Raines/Chili Davis role would be appealing. He’d be a nice replacement for Sierra, that’s for sure. Whatta ya say? I know it’s still early, but do you think that Bernie and/or the Yankees would be interested in such a scenerio?

It hasn’t warmed up yet. Let’s hope that Bernie has another three-week hot stretch left in him. I know that I am appreciating every thing he does this season–especially the positive contributions–because it could be the last we see of him.

Road Warriors

Having literally beaten the Tigers about the head and neck in the first game of their current series, the Yankees must now face two of the best road pitchers in baseball, Mike Maroth (2.03 ERA seventh in the AL among pitchers with three or more road starts, 0.84 WHIP) and Jeremy Bonderman (1.50 ERA fifth in the majors, 0.58 WHIP, 20:1 K/BB) with the task of beating one of them to claim their sixth-straight series victory and avoid entering this weekend’s Red Sox series on two-game losing streak.

Speaking of the Sox, they fell to the Blue Jays last night on a walk-off home run by Reed Johnson (his second dinger of the game) off Alan Embree, allowing the Yankees (still tied with the Jays, of course) to creep within 1.5 games. Thus a series win against Detroit would also put the Yankees in position to pass the Scarlet Hosers with a weekend sweep regardless of what the Sox do between now and then.

And that’s the trick: winning series. In the new Pinstriped Bible, Steven Goldman lays out a game plan that just might work:

The current price of the wild card . . . [is] equivalent to 94 wins, so expecting the Yankees to get there would be equivalent to saying we believe that the team is capable of going 71-47 the rest of the way, a .602 pace. Forty-seven of those games will come against the Red Sox (13), Orioles (12), Angels (7), Twins (6), White Sox (6), and Cardinals (3). Say the Yankees win one more than the lose against those clubs. They would then need to win two-thirds of their remaining games to maintain that .602 pace.

In other words, split with the good teams (the Yanks are 3-3 against the Sox thus far this season, though the O’s and Angels have had their way with them), and win series against the rest. [Incidentally, Goldman's book on Casey Stengel is finally available for purchase. Also recommended reading: his review of Star Wars: Episode III in today's Pinstriped Blog]

Defending the home turf tonight is Chien-Ming Wang, who hasn’t pitched since last Monday when he set down eighteen-straight Mariners while picking up his second straight win. Wang was bumped from his scheduled start on Sunday against Pedro Martinez and the Mets in favor of Carl Pavano, who turned in a fine performance of his own after early-inning struggles.

We can now see that that move was made not only to get Pavano in against the Mets, but to get Mike Mussina (who started in front of Wang yesterday on five day’s rest) in against the Red Sox this weekend. That’s certainly understandable considering how keyed in Moose has been of late and the fact that he generally does well against the Sox, but it carries the risk of the long rest resulting in a poor performance from Wang tonight that could aversely affect his standing in the rotation, which could lead to future skipped starts, snowballing into his being demoted if/when Jaret Wright ever comes back. Here’s hoping that Wang performs up the standard he’s set for himself tonight (6+IP, 3 or fewer runs), or, failing that, that Torre and Stottlemyre recognize the effect of the long rest give him a mulligan. Lastly, Wang’s strikeout total to beat tonight is four. Tiger vs. the Tigers. As Alex says . . .

Beat Down

The Yankees spanked the Tigers 12-3 on an unseasonably cold, and rainy night in the Bronx. (The weather was so bad that the Yankees gave the fans tickets to another game, later in the season.) Alex Rodriguez drilled a solo home run to right field. In the fourth, he smacked a two-run dinger in the same general direction to put the home team ahead 3-0. That made him 4-4 lifetime (all four hits being homers) against Wilfredo Ledezma. Rodriguez leads the league in home runs (16), runs scored (40) and RBI (46). He’s second in the AL in slugging (.642), and tied for fourth in on-base percentage (.413). He’d make Ron Washington happy if he brought his bat out to the field with him to help him with those tricky hops (he botched another easy play last night, though he wasn’t charged win an error).

Mike Mussina was sharp, hitting his spots and changing speeds nicely. The immediate question was whether they were going to be able to get the game in. The Yanks scored ten runs in the fourth and fifth inning, the rain contiued to fall all night, and nine innings were played. Jorge Posada added two dingers of his own, and Gary Sheffield and Robinson Cano went deep too (It was the first of Cano’s Major League career).

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The Tigers

Detroit Tigers

2004 Record: 72-90 (.444)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 79-83 (.488)

Manager: Alan Trammell
General Manager: Dave Dombrowski

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Comerica Park (96/97)

Who’s replacing whom?

Magglio Ordoñez replaces Alex Sanchez
Nook Logan fills in when Ordoñez is on the DL
Ramon Martinez replaces Eric Munson and loses some playing time to Brandon Inge
Vance Wilson replaces spare parts
Wilfredo Ledezma inherits Gary Knotts’ starts
Troy Percival replaces Esteban Yan
Kyle Farnsworth replaces Al Levine
Franklyn German inherits Steve Coyler’s innings
Matt Ginter replaces Danny Patterson
Chris Spurling and Doug Creek replace Craig Dingman and other spare parts

Current Roster:

1B – Carlos Peña
2B – Omar Infante
SS – Carlos Guillen
3B – Brandon Inge
C – Ivan Rodriguez
RF – Craig Monroe
CF – Nook Logan
LF – Rondell White
DH – Dmitri Young

Bench:

R – Marcus Thames (OF)
R – Ramon Martinez (IF)
L – Jason Smith (IF)
R – Vance Wilson (C)

Rotation:

R- Jeremy Bonderman
L – Nate Robertson
R – Jason Johnson
L – Wilfredo Ledezma
L – Mike Maroth

Bullpen:

R – Ugueth Urbina
R – Kyle Farnsworth
L – Jamie Walker
R – Franklyn German
R – Matt Ginter
R – Chris Spurling
L – Doug Creek

DL:

R – Magglio Ordoñez (OF)
L – Bobby Higginson (OF)
R – Troy Percival
R – Gary Knotts
R – Fernando Rodney
R – Colby Lewis (60-day)
L – Fernando Viña (IF) (60-day)

Typical Line-up

S – Nook Logan (CF)
R – Brandon Inge (3B)
R – Ivan Rodriguez (C)
S – Carlos Guillen (SS)
R – Rondell White (LF)
S – Dmitri Young (DH)
R – Craig Monroe (RF)
L – Carlos Peña (1B)
R – Omar Infante (2B)

Hovering around .500 (they’re two wins in the red, but 15 runs in the black), the Tigers continue to improve after the remarkable turnaround they made last year in the wake of their historically bad 2003 season. Last year, the team was revived by the infusion of an actual offense, lead by Ivan Rodriguez and the out-of-nowhere MVP-level performance of Carlos Guillen along with a career-saving season from Brandon Inge and a collection of solid, above-average seasons from Dmitri Young, Rondell White, Carlos Peña and Craig Monroe.

This year, the story is the pitching. Second worst in the league last year with a 5.21 ERA, the Tiger staff has posted an outstanding 3.66 ERA thus far in 2005, good for seventh best in the majors and fourth best in the AL (behind the Chisox, Twins and Angels). And before you accuse them of being a product of their pitching-friendly home park, they hold up with a 3.78 ERA on the road, still in the top ten in the bigs and sixth in the AL.

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Can’t Anybody Here Play this Game?

There is no secret to the Yankees approach to Pedro Martinez–or any dominant pitcher, for that matter. You hang in there, keep the game close, hope to chase him by the late innings, and win the game against the bullpen. The Yankees have spoiled many good performances by Martinez over the past five, six years. True to form, the Yanks did it again yesterday, ruining a fine outing by Pedro, and beating the Mets, 5-3.

Alex Rodriguez is doing everything to live up to his new moniker. In the bottom of the second inning, with men on second and third, Martinez cued a soft ground ball to Rodriguez. It looked like a sure out, but the ball knocked off the side of Rodriguez’s glove, a run scored and everybody was safe. Another run came home on an RBI single, as Rodriguez’s muff led to two unearned runs. (Somewhere, Cliff Corcoran was slapping his forehead in disgust.) Cliff Floyd added a solo bomb off of Pavano the next inning and the Mets looked to be in good shape behind an effective Pedro, who was resuced from his only real jam in the first by a terrific diving catch which sent David Wright into the stands.

Several key faces were missing in action yesterday, as Carlos Beltran, Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield all sat due to injury. Dig this: The Yankees 7-8-9 hitters were John Flaherty, Rey Sanchez and the pitcher. Womack, Williams and Matsui were the starting outfield. Yipe. This was far from an imposing line-up and Martinez took advantage. Rodriguez got one of his runs back with an RBI single (he finished the day 2-4 with a walk), and then got an opportunity for redemption in the top of the eighth. Errors by Wright and Reyes put runners on first and second wtih one out (Womack was the lead runner, and Derek Jeter, pinch-running, was behind him). On the first pitch, Womack and Jeter took off and easily pulled-off a double steal.

Here it was, but Rodriguez fouled out. Groan. Matsui followed though, and took a fastball that was low-and-away beautifully to left field for a two-run single. The man is tough in a big spot, right? The game was tied. Bernie Williams was next and he stroked a double into right, scoring Matsui. That was all the Yankees would need. They tacked on a run in the ninth, as Stanton-Gordon and Rivera set the Mets down without any drama to end it. Pavano pitched a solid game and the Yankees out-lasted the Mets to win the series. Or, if you want to be crass about it, the Mets just out-sucked the Yankees. Neither team play particularly well over the weekend, and if the Friday and Sunday games were close, possessing a degree of tension, they were not pretty.

But hey, but looks are overrated. Just ask Rodriguez.

Tale of Two Pitchers

Previewing the subway series on Friday I wrote “Kris Benson seems to be rounding into shape after being disabled with a strained pectoral muscle early in the year.” No doubt, Benson held the Yankees scoreless through six innings yesterday, allowing just three hits (Matsui, erased by an E-Rod double play, Posada double, E-Rod single) and not a runner past first in his first four innings of work.

However, he did walk two (walking Cano intentionally to pitch to Randy Johnson with two out and Posada on second doesn’t count) and hit Derek Jeter in the elbow. According to the radio broadcast (I only caught parts of this game live, and less than that on television), Jeter was in a great deal of pain, and left the game after being forced out at second. X-rays were negative and both he and Gary Sheffield, who was a late scratch in favor of Bernie Williams due to a sore left hand that he actually in jured two weeks ago on a check swing, are day-to-day. Both could start today’s rubber game against Pedro Martinez.

Neither of those injuries are as troubling as the inconsistent performances of Randy Johnson thus far this season. Johnson did strike out some men this time, five in 6 2/3 innings, but he also gave up hits. Lots of them. Three singles in the first (no runs thanks to a fielder’s choice and a caught stealing). Three in the second (one run). Three in the third (including an RBI double by David Wright). That’s nine hits in this first three innings. Johnson settled some after that allowing just one more hit (erased by a double play) in his next three innings. But then lost his grip in the seventh.

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Winning Ugly

Wait a second, Kevin Brown and Victor Zambrano faced off in a game that included five errors and thirteen walks and it was just 3-2 going into the ninth inning?

Yup. Both starters belied their shoddy reputations, despite exhibiting the same tendencies that typically get them in much bigger trouble. Zambrano walked six, but allowed just three runs, two earned. Kevin Brown, meanwhile, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first (single and two walks) by striking out Doug Mientkiewicz on three nasty pitches low in the zone. He then survived a lead-off single in the second and a lead-off walk in the third and a one-out walk in the fifth. The only run he allowed all evening came in the fourth and it was unearned.

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Lights, Camera…

The pitching match-up tonight has all the makings of one hellacious game. We’ll see if Brown has anything at all against the boys from Queens. (Once again, I’m not holding my breath.) As it turns out I was interviewed for a puff-piece that will appear on the Channel 11 News tonight after the game. Perhaps I’ll have a dopey sound bite or two. The angle is Met fans v. Yankee fans: Who is winning the war on the web? Jeez, I didn’t know we were fighting. But hey, anything to keep the Subway Serious fresh, right?

Go Yanks.

The Mets (a.k.a. You Snooze You Lose)

I have to disagree with Alex. While I’m not exactly “geeked” for this weekend’s series against the Mets, I do think this is one of the most compelling subway series match-ups in the now nine year history of interleague play.

One reason is the similarity in the two team’s records. With the Yankees’ loss on Wednesday and the Mets’ simultaneous sweep of the Reds, the Mets are a mere 1.5 games better than the Yanks. That not only reveals the two teams to be very evenly matched, but also marks only the second time in what will now be the fifteen series played between the two teams that the Mets have entered an interleague series with the Yankees with a better record than the Bombers. The previous occasion was in July of 2000, when the Mets were 47-35 to the Yankees’ 42-37 entering the second intracity series of the year. That turned out to be a memorable one, both for the unusual home/away double header that saw the two teams play in both stadiums on a single day, and for Roger Clemens’ now infamous beaning of Mike Piazza. The Yankees won 3 of 4 games in that series and, despite finishing the season with a worse record than the Mets for what remains the only time since 1991, would eventually defeat them in five games in that year’s World Series.

To me, this year is even more compelling than that 2000 match-up, because for the first time the Yankees are not the obvious favorites.

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Subway Snooze

It looks like it’s going to be a soggy couple of days in New York, and yo, like Flava Flav once said, I ain’t got nothing for ya, man. I don’t know what to say about the Subway Serious other than I hope the Yanks win two-of-three and that the games are exciting. Otherwise, I’m numb to the canned hype at this point. I just can’t get geeked about this match up, dude. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But the Mets just are not the Red Sox.

In other news, Joel Sherman reports that the Yankees are interested in keeping GM Brian Cashman:

[Yankees general partner, Steve] Swindall revealed to The Post that he opened extension talks with Cashman during spring training, and that Cashman “acknowledged he wants to come back.” Cashman verified the exchange and that his “preference is to return.” Both men said negotiations have been tabled because Cashman wants to focus right now on remedying the team’s deficiencies.

Meanwhile, over at the Times, Tyler Kepner has a nice puff piece on Joe Girardi, the Yankees’ bench coach.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver