"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

It Ain’t Easy

“It’s tough, I don’t care how good you are or how good you’re supposed to be,” [Manager, Joe] Torre said. “Until you can start going out there and winning with regularity, you know, basically your confidence is not where you want it to be, and that’s just the human part of this game.”

“It was the worst loss of the year for me because we beat ourselves,” General Manager Brian Cashman said.

So I got all my chores done and cleared my afternoon to do nothing but lay on the couch and enjoy the ball game. The skies had cleared. After a lousy Saturday, the sun was shinning, and the stadium looked great for “Bat Day.” More than three-and-a-half trying hours later, I tried to come up with the word that best described the game, as well as the 2005 Yankees so far. “Exasperating,” was the best I could do. Even worse, I came seem to shake the sensation that this team hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. After three straight well-pitched games by the Bronx Bombers, Carl Pavano and the bullpen allowed eight runs on sixteen hits, turning a 6-3 fifth inning lead, into an 8-6 loss. Oy veh.

The Yanks scored first. Alex Rodriguez laced a line drive double to start the second inning, and advanced to third on Jorge Posada’s fly out to left field (testing the weak arm of Frankie Catalanotto ). He scored on Godziller Matsui’s fly out. The Jays got the run back in the third, and then Corey Koskie yanked a dinger into the right-center field bleachers. He hooked an outside pitch and the sequence was almost exactly like the home run he hit off Flash Gordon on Saturday.

Gary Sheffield cranked a solo shot to left in the bottom of the inning, and the Jays took the lead again in the fifth. The Yanks lucked out of a big inning, when the Jays attempted a double steal with Catalanotto
on third and Vernon Wells on first. Wells broke for second, and Posada threw down to second. Jeter charged the ball, caught it in front of the bag, and made a perfect, off-balance throw home, to peg Catalanotto.

Ah, a good sign. After Tino Martinez whiffed to start the bottom of the fifth, Womack, Jeter and Bernie all singled to load the bases. Sheffield brought two runs home with a double to left. Rodriguez was walked to re-load the bases and Posada’s sacrifice fly scored Williams. Then, Matsui, who, along with Posada has been slumping terribly, knocked a line drive into the left center field gap. Sheffield scored easily, but Rodriguez was cut down at the plate. All eyes on Luis Sojo once again, though this call was not nearly as questionable as the one with Jeter against the Angels last week.

The Yankees’ big inning ended with a thud. Then, everything fell apart. Pavano walked the bases loaded and his day was done. Paul Quantrill got Alex Rios to fly out to right and the Yanks traded a run for an out. Russ Adams popped out to left, then after getting ahead of Catalanotto 0-2, Quantrill lost him and Frankie C drew a walk loading em up again. Quantrill glared in at the home plate umpire three times in the inning. He barely missed a few pitches, but the replays showed that they were indeed balls. Quantrill had Frank Menechino down 0-2, but left a fastball out over the plate which was promptly slapped into right field scoring two runs and tying the game. Yup, Frank Menechino: dig it, dog.

Mike Stanton took over in the seventh and allowed two runs. The second run scored on a sacrifice fly to shallow center. Bernie Williams’ throw wasn’t even close. Meanwhile, Toronto’s bullpen allowed just two walks–no hits, no runs–to the Yankees over the final four innings, and that, as they say, was that. The late-season magic of 2004 is but a distant memory.

What to do, but cook? I’m already driving my girlfriend nuts with all the yelling and screaming and “negativity.” When the game was over, I took a long shower, determined not to let the game spoil my evening. I’m happy to say that I did just fine. I made one of my favorite dishes, Bucatini all’Amatriciana (this link calls for butter instead of olive oil; why I don’t know, as the dish should be made with oil). Instead of onion, I used ramps, a seaonal garlic-onion hybrid, which has developed a cultish following over the last five or six years. For sweets, I made a simple strawberry rhubarb crisp. Then I hung out with my girl and proceeded to eat my Yankee blues away.

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1 daven1   ~  May 2, 2005 6:09 am

1.  What an awesome meal. Strawberry rhubarb crisp is my favorite springtime recipe.

I hope you have a similar feast ready for tonight as Mike Unmusssina tosses for the Yanks.

2 Simone   ~  May 2, 2005 6:14 am

2.  Maybe the Yankees can build their confidence and improve their play against the D'Rays.

3 Beth   ~  May 2, 2005 7:04 am

3.  I thought your girl was as into the Yankees as you are! Well...maybe that's kind of tough to do, eh?

4 Murray   ~  May 2, 2005 7:15 am

4.  Maybe that's what ails the Yankees: not enough strawberry rhubarb crisp.

5 JohnnyC   ~  May 2, 2005 7:37 am

5.  Just as every pet owner knows there are different kinds of chow to feed a dog as he/she progresses through the "cycles" of life, so we must acknowledge that there are different types of managers for teams as they progresses through the cycles of life. Joe Torre doesn't have the skill set to manage this particular Yankee team nor any of the last 4 editions. In fact, his natural habits of "kindly caretaker" and "George pacifier" are a real detriment to the team as it is currently constructed...mostly because he, more than George, Cashman, the Tampa Mafia, Mike Lupica, or, even, Michael Kay, provided the faulty blueprint for this amalgamation of aging veterans with limited baseball intelligence. The man who eschews a multi-purpose bench has, surprise, no bench. The man who refuses to utilize every arm in a 12 man staff has, surprise, a bullpen with bodies but no depth. And, most ironically, the man who lives on the "Culture of Trust" keeps discovering he has no one on his team he can trust. No Superman, Batman and Robin do-gooders to save him from his own addled, now demented decisions. The man who took a lot of credit for the miraculous and courageous work of Mo, David Cone, El Duque, Brosius, Pettitte, Jeter, O'Neill, et al., expects this to happen, not every season, but in every game. How else do you get away with allowing your starter (Pavano) to load the bases with no outs the inning right after you take the lead before calling on the bullpen. And, then, to be so lacking in imagination and knowledge as to select Quantrill to come in out of a palette of 6 relievers, not counting Mo? How is that even allowed to happen without an uproar from the media? It's the kind of move Willie Randolph would be roasted over and we all know it.

6 kcboomer   ~  May 2, 2005 7:44 am

6.  Would it be a war crime to put some boiled shrimp in that recipe??

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 2, 2005 7:46 am

7.  In addition to Pavano struggling with his command (just 58 percent strikes) and the bullpen allowing five runs to score (even if Meat put three of 'em on base), the thing I found most disturbing about yesterday's game was the fact that the Blue Jays figured out that they could pitch around Alex Rodriguez.

Torre dropped the struggling Matsui in the order with the lefty Lilly on the mound, resulting in a lineup that looked like this in the middle:


The result was that Rodriguez drew three walks (one intential and at least one more an "unintential intentional" walk) and Posada--who has the lowest average and OBP of the nine players on the team with more than 30 at-bats--went 0 for 4 in his place.

Rodriguez, Jeter and Sheffield remain the only hitters in the lineup that opposing pitchers really need to worry about (at least until Groundzilla gives us our MVPatsui back) and with Torre's standard line-up:


each can be pitched around. Note that with Rodriguez hitting behind Sheffield yesterday, Sheff went 2 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs.

Of course, the Yanks did manage to score six runs yesterday. They lost because Pavano couldn't get deep enough into the game and the bullpen couldn't hold a three run lead. Still, the inconsistancy of the line-up could prove to be a major problem.

8 markp   ~  May 2, 2005 8:17 am

8.  JohnnyC
I think your use of demented, sad to say, is the most apt description of Torre. I think he's a functional victim of dementia. While he was never good with offensive strategies, he used to be pretty good at using the BP. But over the past 3-4 years he's been doing things that are truly strange (the Benitez example I used in another thread for instance).
I still think this team has too much talent for even him to completely screw up, but that may be because I'm pretty sure Clueless Joe and his equally clueless friends (Sojo and Stottlemyre to name two) aren't going anywhere in the forseeable future.

9 Simone   ~  May 2, 2005 8:47 am

9.  Cliff, until Jorge's bat wakes up and MVPatsui returns, I agree that the line up continues to struggle. Regardless, 6 runs should have been more than enough to beat the Blue Jays. Pavano struggled, but he has been so good of late, I find it hard to beat up on him. The bullpen is what it is at this point. I thought they were coming around a few games ago, but they are back to being inconsistent.

10 singledd   ~  May 2, 2005 8:52 am

10.  I don't like Torre's decisions, but somewhere along the line you have to blame the players. When you have a 200mil team, and only 3 guys are hitting, its hard to have a good lineup. And outside of Mo, who has done a really good job in the pen? (not to say that even Mo has been REALLY good).

Maybe a better Manager MAY have squeezed out a win or 2 more... its hard to really say. Whats easy to say it the Team is simply pitiful. I've seen turtles on Qualudes that exude more energy.

I think we have a team with emotional problems. Dr Phil.... where are you?

11 Joe in Jersey   ~  May 2, 2005 8:53 am

11.  Who the f*%! are these guys calling Torre demented? They know for a fact that this is the team Torre wanted? Do they know that he wasn't even invited to Tampa for Steindumber's strategy meetings? markp and JohnnyC say Torre is a demented old glory seeker? Are you freakin' numbnuts on Steindumber's payroll? I believe Torre hasn't done a great job these first 25 games. Then again the Yankees outside of Jeter have been absolutely inconsistent, so much so that you don't know what to expect from them from one day to the next. Name one freakin' player other than Jeter who hasn't had as many terrible games as he had good ones. Didn't think you could. I don't believe there is a manager out there that could have this team in first place right now. They have sucked the big hairy donkey d... all season. Now you can say that Stottlemyre may need to go as pitching coach, and you may also believe that Torre has been more lucky than good in his Yankee career, and his luck may be running out. But to insult these guys who have been nothing but classy and battlers since they have been here, you can go to hell. You ain't no real Yankee fan. So get the F*%! outta here with that B*llsh*t, and go home and get you shine box!

12 Joe in Jersey   ~  May 2, 2005 9:10 am

12.  Please excuse the last line of that post. I don't know if it can be edited out but it should, I lost my temper. It's not my place to tell people what they can or cannot post here. I just think that Yankee fans should be more loyal or at least have more respect. Granted you think he should be gone, say it with a little respect. I also will try to show more restraint and I apologize for any disrespect in the previous post.

13 JohnnyC   ~  May 2, 2005 9:31 am

13.  Joe, my friend, just because you don't agree with my admittedly loose characterization of Torre's hallucinogenic decisions, you don't have to ascribe a particularly nasty form of bestiality to the Yankees roster. Unless, of course, you know something we don't know. And thanks for being as unfailingly classy as your idol, Joe Torre.

14 Simone   ~  May 2, 2005 9:44 am

14.  LOL! Don't feel bad, Joe. You probably spoke for a lot of people who chose to not respond to the posts ragging on Torre because these guys aren't producing.

15 Roger C   ~  May 2, 2005 10:52 am

15.  The thing that bothers me about yesterday's loss was the pitch selection by the relievers.

Stanton got beat by a fastball to a lefty hitter. The Yankee announcers have been playing up how Stanton has re-discovered his curve, and indeed, when he has thrown it to left hand hitters, it looks impressive. If memory serves, he gave up a big hit to either Hinske or Koskie on a fast ball when he had him set up for the curve with two strikes! Who calls these pitches?
Similarly, with Menechino (sic) Quantrill throws a high outside fastball to a right handed batter. Isn't Quantrill's strength the sinker? Especially to an right hand batter? I just don't get it.

And that fly ball to Bernie-- I'm fifty one years old, and I can make that throw on a fly. I'm not panicking, but the more I see of this team, the more I'm reminded of the 1965 Yankees, about whom Mickey Mantle said:
"We all got old at the same time."

16 brockdc   ~  May 2, 2005 12:43 pm

16.  True, the players have NOT performed thus far this season. But my biggest criticism of Torre is that he's failed to adjust to these myriad failures. If you want specfific examples of this, let me know - I'll give you the litany.

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