"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Saving Face

You are supposed to feel good when your team wins, right? Well, after the display of terrible fielding the Yanks put on during the seventh inning last night, I felt more relieved than anything else when they finally pulled it out in the ninth. I also felt a lot of other things, and none of them were too kind or uplifting. But hey, a win is a win, no matter how ugly. Jason Giambi’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Bombers a 5-4 victory, as they avoided being swept at home by the Mets. Randy Johnson pitched a good game, Alex Rodriguez had four hits (two in “the clutch” for those who care to notice these things), and Mariano Rivera pitched a one-two-three ninth to earn the win. Rivera is now 4-2 on the season, with sixteen saves, and two blown saves. His earned run average is down to 0.94.

The Yanks head down to Baltimore today for a three game series against the slumping Orioles. It will be interesting to see which team continues to slide here. Carl Pavano is in a big spot for New York once again. Let’s see how he responds…

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1 Simone   ~  Jun 27, 2005 5:50 am

1.  Lots of comments about last night's game:

1) Joe Torre got real lucky last night. Had Reese been playing center, he would have very likely caught that ball that Womack dropped in the 7th causing the inning to spiral out of control. I hope Joe appreciates his lucky escape and never puts that defensive alignment on the field again, but I wouldn't bet a dollar on that one.

2) As usual, hitting Womack 2nd was a recipe for disaster as the top of the line up could never get anything going. However, Joe made some solid adjustments in the later innings that lead to the win so he is off the hook.

3) Flaherty as RJ's personal catcher has got to stop. Now Posada has to get another complete game off when the Yankees desperately need his bat.

4) Good outing from RJ, but I'd appreciate it if he doesn't cuss out the manager in such a public form.

5) Sheffield is a fool. He kept swinging at balls, then he hits that weak ass ball and proceeds to get himself thrown out.

6) So that is what Mariano Rivera looks like. I had forgotten. I think his bald spot is bigger since the last time I saw him. The Yankees have the best closer in the league and he rarely gets a chance to pitch.

6) Giambi is the most expensive pinch hitter in MLB, isn't he? I appreciate the heroics, but I'd give anything for Nick Johnson back. Lesson to Yankees: don't sign high price players to block to quality prospects at their position.

Also, because it cannot be said enough Mike Lupica is an ass. He is just bitter that the Yankees weren't swept forcing him to switch out his, "the Mets own this town, Yankees done" column. What a turd.

2 murphy   ~  Jun 27, 2005 6:18 am

2.  seeing as this is the first time i have gotten to the stadium this year (thanks again, cliffbot), and, thus, one of the first games i have actually seen, i would like to come to mr. giambi's defense. is he overpaid for his role? yes. is he "back"? no. is he showing signs of improvement in all the right places? absolutely

1) heroics aside, his two "big" hits have come on fastballs, of which his ability to hit has been in question. looper was consistently bringing heat between 93 and 95 to every batter last night, and while i was too busy jumping up and down to turn around and see what kind of pitch he threw, i am guessing that he was still throwing the same stuff. also, assuming it was another 94ish mph fastball, it's important to note that giambi got around on it and drove it (and i mean DROVE it) to right center.

2) earlier in last night's game he took an outside pitch THE OTHER WAY. grant it, it was a fly-out, but that's hardly the point.

3) defense? well, jeter wasn't that "on" last night in terms of throwing the ball, and jason made no less than two really nice scoops at first.

4) on top of all that, his plate discipline hasn't declined and he stole a friggin base last week, for chrissakes.

5) his bearhugging mattingly at the end of the game just plain tugs at the heart-strings.

so i am done razzin this guy. will he ever be a .300, 40, 140 guy again? no. but if he can keep his OBP above .400 and keep driving the ball, i would be more than happy to have a first baseman that hits .280 with 40 2B and 100 RBI every year. ('specially if he plays first like he has been lately)

(he's overpaid no matter what, so don't bother going there)

3 Paul in Boston   ~  Jun 27, 2005 6:29 am

3.  Giambi saw the change-up come out of Looper's hand, or so he said in the post-game interview. Reminded me that he apparently has spectacular vision, something that perhaps will continue to help him even in his post-steroid form.

The other key hits were A-rod's 2-out single in the 8th driving in Jeter, and his double moving runners to 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the 9th. Very clutch. He's have a monster year, and no one seems to notice since he's on a mediocre team. Thanks for the link to the Heyman piece, it's about time someone gives him some credity.

4 vockins   ~  Jun 27, 2005 7:23 am

4.  I read that the Yankees are 2-36 when trailing after the 8th.

Apparently this stat is maintained only for the Yankees, since I can't seem to find any information on how the rest of MLB is doing when trailing after eight. Besides reading every box score since April, of course.

Anyone have any leads?

5 Ryan   ~  Jun 27, 2005 7:32 am

5.  So was anyone else surprised that Sierra promptly struck out after being called on to pinch hit?

6 Schteeve   ~  Jun 27, 2005 8:02 am

6.  When Jeter was up with Sierra on deck in the 8th I kept muttering under my breath, "It has to be you Jeter, it has to be you." So umm, no, I wasn't surprised that Sierra did nothing. Although credit Beltran with being a centerfielder. I've heard stories about real life bona fide CF's but I rarely get to see one. TONY WOMACK??

$200 million and you have the 300 year old Bernie and Tony Womack as your CF options?? Mind boggling.

Giambi is coming back. Is he coming back to his MVP level? No but that's unrealistic to expect under perfect conditions, it's 4 years later...but he's had a pretty good June, .878 OPS, and he sits more than I'd like. As far as I'm concerend I'll root for him for the rest of the season and judge his performance at the end of the year.

Sheffield may be a fool, he's also a great hitter, and I've seen dozens of guys slam their helmet on calls like that and not get tossed. Buckner had a quick trigger, and I can understand why Gary was irate.

The defense is unbelivably bad. I used to be one of those, "if you score enough runs, who cares about defense?" people, but this team has made me see the light. They are miserable, it's really completely inexcusable.

7 uburoisc   ~  Jun 27, 2005 8:35 am

7.  Did anyone else hear the ESPN guys mocking the decision to put Woemack in CF? They were listing all the great Yankee CF power hitters (DiMaggio, Mantle) and then sarcasticly listed Woemack. It was about the first thing I heard when I turned on the game. Since the entire baseball universe (even the Sox and the O's) seems to be saying the same thing, do you think Joe will finally hear it? Still mystified that he is in CF and batting at the top of the order.

8 Murray   ~  Jun 27, 2005 8:42 am

8.  Torre has a deep stubborn streak. I think that he's playing Womack as much as he does because he's being told not to play the guy by so many other sources.

9 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Jun 27, 2005 8:56 am

9.  Murray, if that's true, then I'm joing JohnnyC's crusade to have the beloved skipper thrown to the curb.

Anyone else notice that there's this strange confidence in Cashman's public comments about the team's problems? I heard him on Mike and the Angry Puppy and it seemed to me that (solely based on his tone) he didn't feel personally responsible for the team's issues. Like this off-season was Tampa's doing, and now he had the reigns back in his hands. Maybe, I'm just indulging in wishful thinking.

10 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 27, 2005 8:58 am

10.  Stubborn? No, clueless. This has been going on for 5 seasons now. Why do we continue to come up with excuses for him? First, he's being sabotaged by the Tampa/George axis, then, it's the players not "playing smart," then, it's the "lack of desire" in the new group of players, then, it's George's fault again for not being the old George and firing everyone... Could it be Joe's just outlived his usefullness to this team? For once, he's being asked to actually manage a roster, with all the problems other managers have: injuries, lack of depth, inconsistent performances, mistakes by the front office, lack of chemistry, and lack of motivation. And he's failed. Plain and simple. The team needs a manager who's more inventive, a better tactician, and more inspirational than he's capable of being. And if the Yankees follow the fan base's wishes and go younger, staying away from expensive, aging, over-the-hill free agents, he'll need to be a teacher as well. Frankly, he and Mel have shown no ability to cultivate young talent in their ten years here. Even Steven Goldman, generally an admirer of Torre, admits that Joe's inability to develop a single reliable reliever outside of Rivera in a decade is...puzzling to say the least.

11 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Jun 27, 2005 9:07 am

11.  JohnnyC, I feel as if Sturtze has been a pretty effective reliever developed by Joe and Mel. From now on I declare Tanyon the exception to the rule. But, basically, you're right. Joe's done a bad job this year. However, don't you think the major problem with this team is how poorly constructed its roster is? The bench is about .5 deep. The staff is filled with 1-year wonders or aging stars. Torre has undoubtedly contributed to this by refusing to take chances with people like Colter Beane, but the blame has to go more to the FO.

12 rbj   ~  Jun 27, 2005 9:19 am

12.  I believe Reese is a LFer. What's worse, having a weak-armed, bad legged Bernie in CF; a poor hitting but some speed Womack in CF; or a freakin' 27 y.o. rookie (not a good sign) playing his first game in the bigs out of position in CF? Columbus' roster now shows a grand total of 3 outfielders.
I can't accept all the criticism on Torre (some, yes). The Yankees have won the division 8 of the last 9 years, with 4 WS victories. Womack was signed as a starter, so Joe's 1) giving him a chance to show he can perform or not and 2) playing the guys he's been dealt. It's only 6.5 games, lets hope Cashman can get a decent CF without giving up anymore prospects (Wang.)

13 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 27, 2005 9:41 am

13.  I was thinking about Giambi this weekend. Dig this little comparison.

Giambi has played in 58 games: 176 at bats, 21 runs scored, 45 hits, 6 doubles, 5 home runs, 22 RBI, .396 OBP (33 walks, 50 Ks), .375 SLG, and .256 AVG.

Here's Player B in 56 games: 183 at bats, 25 runs scored, 40 hits, 7 doubles, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, .367 ABP (42 walks, 54 Ks), .372 SLG, .219 AVG.

Player B is Jim Thome. While the Philly fans haven't completely turned on him, several told me on Saturday that their patience was running thin with him. But it is interesting how Thome hasn't taken the kind of beating that Giambi has.

14 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 27, 2005 9:53 am

14.  Obviously, there are reasons for that, but I'm just saying...

15 jonm   ~  Jun 27, 2005 10:11 am

15.  I may be a pie-eyed optimist, but Giambi has an .878 OPS in June. If he adds about .030 more in slugging percentage, he's a good hitter. I've also noticed that he has hit to LF a number of times over the last week.

16 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Jun 27, 2005 10:22 am

16.  Giambi's turn-around has been pretty significant. It's about the only good news you can take away from these last two weeks. He seems to driving the ball with confidence, turning on pitches. kind of reminding me of Giambi of 2002.

17 Simone   ~  Jun 27, 2005 10:54 am

17.  Alex, I can't believe you went there. Comparing the reactions of Philly fans to Jim Thome's current struggles after 2 years of outstanding play as a Phillie to Jason Giambi's disasterous stint as a Yankee? Please, Giambi is lucky that he doesn't play for the Phillies. The criticism and recent booing that he is getting from Yankee fans is child's play compared to what the Philly fans would have done to him if he had given them these past 2.5 years. Hell, they turned on Chris Webber after 5 games. Giambi would be less than dogmeat if he played in Philly. He should thank his lucky stars everday that he wakes up that he is a Yankee.

18 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 27, 2005 11:14 am

18.  Oh yeah, no doubt. I was more making the comparison that they are both heavy set first basemen who are struggling...heck, I could have probably thrown Helton in there too.

Hey, Giambi did have one great year for the Yankees. And he got booed a lot in that one too.

On a positive Philly note, I've heard that Mo Cheeks is going to hire Andrew Toney as one of his assistants. Toney was a great two-guard for four or five years in the early eighties. I remember he used to chew up the Celtics.

Maybe A.I. and C. Webb will be able to learn to play together after all.

19 Simone   ~  Jun 27, 2005 11:49 am

19.  I think that Toney is a good hire. I'm a huge A.I. fan, but he has got to stop dribbling so much and pass the ball more if he is going to get that team pass the 1st round. Hopefully, under Toney and Mo Cheeks' guidance, A.I.'s game will improve. I also think Iguodala can develop into a stud with some work on his shooting.

I'm still optimistic the trade for Webber will work out, but if Webber's knee doesn't improve significantly and he doesn't stop whining about playing with A.I. to the media through "friends," it will get real ugly, real fast. Philly fans may bitch about A.I., but they don't want to hear Webber doing it, especially when he keeps missing easy shots.

20 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 27, 2005 12:27 pm

20.  Good luck in getting Iverson to stop dribbling so much. I'm afraid it's just the way the game has evolved. No matter how talented, guys just have an awful lot of dribble in them. Stephon Marbury can be criticized for the same bad habit, and so can 80% of the guards in the league.

To his credit, Iverson, unlike Steph, has moved his team past the first round of the playoffs on numerous occasions now. Maybe his game will improve with the new coaches, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more demanding guard coach than Larry Brown.

The one thing that has really set Iverson apart is his durability. With that small frame, it's a real wonder that he hasn't fallen apart yet. I don't know that his shooting is ever going to improve really. The guy is a gunner. He's a natural scorer not a shooter and I don't know if you can make one into the other, especially this late in their career.

I would worry a lot about Webber's knees. He's damaged goods. A big name and a big talent. If he can stay healthy, he'll be helpful. But my hunch is that things will not go well for him there. One big key is getting O'Brien out of there. In my opinion, the offense should run through Webber. He's such a gifted passer. That may create some friction between Iverson and Webber, but like you said, the new coach is a good one. I think that if they had a winning system, Iverson would be willing to let his touches go, if it served the team.

Funny, but if I could be any basketball player in history it would be Aaron McKie. Just a hard-working guy who is pretty good at a variety of things.

So, you are a Sixers fan. What other pro sport teams do you root for?

21 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Jun 27, 2005 1:10 pm

21.  Hey, Alex, what says you about the Kurt Thomas-Quentin Richardson trade? I think I'm in the minority but I always thought that the talk of Kurt being underrated was a lot of rubbish. To me he was of those guys who the only thing that people said about him was that he was underrated. This happened for 5 years. He ended up being overrated. I thought that he wasn't much of an inside presence, not a great passer, and a solid shooter (the only above-average part of his game). He was a solid bench player who thrived on mediocre teams.

22 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 27, 2005 2:05 pm

22.  I think Thomas is a solid professional. He's tough but not great. But I hate Q Richardson's game, especially for the Knicks. They already have one no-defense chucker in J. Crawford. And as much as I love Steph, he doesn't hardly play a lick of D either.

It's bad news when K. Thomas is your best trading chip. But I think this trade is lousy. It's all good for Phoniex though.

23 singledd   ~  Jun 27, 2005 2:45 pm

23.  On Giambi: According to Gammons, the league average for 1B: yr=2005 slg=.440 ba=.264
While Giambi isn't there in slugging, his OPS probably is around league average. Yes, we want/need more then average from Giambi, but considering his personal troubles, average does NOT mean throw him (and his 80 mil) away. If he plays (close to) everyday, I believe his numbers will go up with his confidence.
Right now: .256 / .396 / .375 / .771
I predict: .266 / .390 / .430 / .820

On Torre: I admit I like the guy but am confused at many of his moves: Read that Woe-is-me-mack. Torre is not dumb or lazy. Cashman took Bernie out because of his D, Torre has been slowly working him back in. But his D sucks, and sorry to say he is a liability in CF. Would like to TRY Bernie in LF and see if it makes a small difference.
Why hasn't somebody shot Womack yet? God knows. Why does Torre bat him 2nd (although sometimes 9th)? Is it possible that with Womack at 9th, the back end of the order is too weak (Martinez, Cano, Womack), and that (hopefully) sandwiching him between Jetes and Sheff might make him more productive? It hasn't worked, but MAYBE thats the logic. Me, I want Womack deported, but maybe Joe is not dumb, and trying to get the most out of the shallowest lineup in MLB.

I still want to see Bernie in LF, Tino at first and Giambi DH. The liability that is Bernie on D is offset by having Tino at first (instead of Giambi) and having Giambi DH.

And when Womack IS in the OF, put him on the warning track, because he can come in on balls (with his speed), but he certainly can't judge balls over his head (not his fault, he's not an outfielder).

24 Simone   ~  Jun 27, 2005 3:34 pm

24.  "So, you are a Sixers fan. What other pro sport teams do you root for?"

I'm not a Sixers fan just an A.I. fan. I just don't like basketball enough to commit to a team. I can rarely make myself watch more than the 4th quarter so generally I just follow specific players whose game I enjoy like Shaq, Amare, Duncan, Artest, and Wade (who reminds me of a bigger Iverson).

Other than the Yankees, I root for ... the Cowboys which is repellent to most my friends. Hopefully, I am still allowed to post here. LOL! As a Cowboy fan, I know all about sports dynasties crashing. Just hope the Yankees rebound faster than the Cowboys. On a positive note, as the bandwagon empties out, the fans who remain tend to form a real solid bond to get through the dark years. A sense of humor is also useful to survive the ineptitude.

25 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 28, 2005 5:39 am

25.  Simone, I hear you. Actually, I used to root for Dallas when I was a kid, let's say from 1979-1988, or whenever it was that they canned Landry. The decline years indeed. I liked them and the Jets, and stopped rooting for the Pokes when they let Landry go. But Tony Hill was one of my favorite players as a kid, and the 1981 playoff game against the 49ners remains one of the single most painful sporting memories of my life (it was only months after the Yanks blew the World Serious to the Dodgers, and half-a-year after my folks separated).

But I stayed loyal to Dallas when I rooted for them. And took much abuse for it. In 1985 when the Bears were rolling through everyone, they beat up on the Cowbowys 44-0 in Dallas around the middle of the season. It was the symbolic end of the Dallas run. I remember going to school the next day--I was a grubby freshman sports nyerd at the time--wearing my Cowboy sweat pants, wrist bands and my Tony D #33 shirt. And I got heckled by girls who didn't even know anything about football. But I was determined to be a "true fan." Shows you how smart I was.

Anyway, I root for the Knicks, but I've become less and less of a hoops fan over the last four or five years. I tend to root for players as well. Actually, I'm really pleased that the Spurs won the championship. Tim Duncan has always reminded me a little bit of Bernie Williams--he's got that introverted thing going, but he's still passionate and dedicated to winning all the same. I don't think he's a flake like Bernie, but it's the quiet demeanor that is somewhat similar.

Yeah, Wade is a really good player, huh?

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