"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Really, it’s not as bad as it looks…

I see you out there on the ledge.  You watched Thursday night’s game with the Rays right up to the bitter end, then unfolded your life insurance policy, placed it neatly on the kitchen table, and calmly opened the window and took a seat next to the pigeons.  Or maybe I’m wrong; maybe I’m the only one on that ledge.

I put the TV on about five minutes after Andy Pettitte’s first pitch, and the screen came to life just in time to show me Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist returning to the Tampa dugout, celebrating Zobrist’s home run and the Rays’ early 3-0 lead.  Pettitte followed that with a walk to Evan Longoria, but bounced back by getting a double-play ball and a strikeout to end the frame.  He made it through the second and third without event, but then gave up another home run to B.J. Upton in the fourth.  He clearly wasn’t sharp.

The Yankee hitters did their best to keep up through the early innings, but even when the score was close it was only a mirage.  Juan Miranda cut the lead to 3-2 with a second-deck two-run blast in the second inning, but the next couple runs were gift-wrapped, one unearned and the other undeserved.  In the third, Derek Jeter followed a Randy Winn single by dropping a sacrifice bunt that rolled untouched between the mound and third base.  Brett Gardner followed that with another bunt (natch), but this one produced a run when James Shields fired it over Peña’s head and down the right field line.  With none out, runners on second and third, and Teixeira, A-Rod, and Canó on the way, it really did look like the game was about to change.  As it turned out, Shields could’ve pulled a Satchel Paige and called his fielders in.  He snagged a tapper back to the mound from Teixeira, struck out A-Rod on a change-up that bounced in front of the plate, and fanned Canó on three pitches.  Move along.

If you were following the game on-line, you probably raised your eyebrows in the fourth inning when you read something like, “J Miranda tripled to deep center.”  The truth of the matter was that Miranda lifted a gentle fly ball that center fielder Upton never saw.  Upton immediately stood with both arms outstretched, asking for help that could never get there in time, as Miranda sprinted around second and slid into third.  Two batters later Randy Winn cashed in Upton’s gift with a sacrifice fly, tying the game at four apiece.

The tie score didn’t last long as a couple Tampa hits and a walk led to two more runs in the fifth, and Carlos Peña finally sent Pettitte to the showers when he led off the sixth with a home run.  If you’re looking for a silver lining in all this, it comes to you in the person of David Robertson, who relieved Pettitte and retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh, striking out four of them.  The bad news, though, is that Chan Ho Park followed Robertson and allowed an eighth Tampa run, making the Yankees’ nightly ninth inning comeback attempt just a bit more difficult.  They could only manage two runs, settling for an 8-6 loss.

So the Rays leave town, surely pleased with themselves, and the Yanks are left with questions.  But it’s not as bad as it looks.  The Mets are up next, and they could be just what the doctor ordered.

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1 ms october   ~  May 21, 2010 6:43 am

good perspective hank.

read through the end of the comments, i won't name names, but there are a few people on the ledge with ya on that ledge :}

getting a few mediocre to poor starts in this stretch has not helped, but i don't expect it to continue. if robertson has righted himself or at least taken a big step forward that will help a ton.
jeter's last at bat showed some good signs. i think miranda will be okay enough at dh. just need frankie b to keep up the magic and hopefully curtis g returns soon randy winn is not up every third batter anymore.

2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  May 21, 2010 6:45 am

[0] Agreed! :)

On tv, Yomiuri Giants at Rakuten Golden Eagels, live at Kleenex Stadium, Sendai, Japan! #7 Chouno lays down a beautiful bunt to lead off the 6th of a scoreless game, then steals second. The inevitable sacrifice bunt is sure to come on the first pitch..but the pitch is up at the batters head! He somehow magically makes contact while squared to bunt, and gets Chouno to 3rd..next batter then promptly singles to score the run...typical Japanese "small ball" baseball. Exciting to watch but the incessant sacrifice bunting really is old-school, at times I feel like I'm watching Wee Willie Keeler choking up against C.Montgomery Burns' "gyroball"...

3 Shaun P.   ~  May 21, 2010 8:22 am

[1] Bet I could guess who those folks on the ledge on without looking . . . ;)

[0] "The Mets are up next, and they could be just what the doctor ordered."

I was thinking exactly the same thing last night. The Yanks are, relatively speaking, in fine shape going into interleague play. I have no worries.

4 williamnyy23   ~  May 21, 2010 8:59 am

I am definitely on the ledge regarding the division, but still look at the Yankees as a WC favorite. With all of the Yankees injuries, which will remain an albatross for at least another 15-20 games, I just don't see how the Yankees can stay within striking distance. If they should fall, 8 or more games back by mid-June, I don't think the Rays will lose enough to allow the Yankees to catch up.

5 Shaun P.   ~  May 21, 2010 9:01 am

[4] Unless, of course, their pitching suffers a two-week bad stretch.

Which, given how well ALL of their starters are pitching, I could see happening.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  May 21, 2010 9:01 am

my main worry is interleague play. Call it Chien Ming Wang Syndrome. Call me an AL wuss, but I hate seeing our pitchers step up to the plate. This weekend Vaz and CC can handle the bat, but what about Hughes? Has anybody ever seen him hit?

7 williamnyy23   ~  May 21, 2010 9:08 am

[5] I am sure the Rays will have a bad two week stretch, but the Yankees could also have a similar stretch when they get healthy.

Right now, the Rays are better than the Yankees with all their injuries. If and when the Yankees get healthy, the question becomes how many games better than the Rays can they be. I don't the answer to that question is something like 10 over half a season..

8 rbj   ~  May 21, 2010 9:20 am

[2] Love the Simpsons' reference. Donnie needs to cut those sideburns.

I'm not on the ledge, but am eyeing it. Tampa isn't a fluke, they are the real deal.

Am thinking of going to the Mudhens tonight, but it's raining & supposed to rain off'n'on all day.

Lastly, a question: Yankees @ Mets this weekend, 1 p.m. game Saturday, but Directv doesn't have it scheduled anywhere but YES. Seriously? No Saturday afternoon game? Not Fox, ESPN(pickachannel), MLBN, EI, or even TBS? What the hell?

9 RagingTartabull   ~  May 21, 2010 9:22 am

[8] Saturday is nationally televised on Fox at 7:05

10 Sliced Bread   ~  May 21, 2010 9:24 am

[6] to clarify: I'm not worried about how our pitchers hit, more that they won't hurt themselves.

11 NYYfan22   ~  May 21, 2010 9:26 am

[7] where'd I leave that number for Tanya Harding's people...

Seriously.. Nothing is fucked here, Dude. I'll resubmit my vote for today's musical mantra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAMjxUKxqlo

12 ms october   ~  May 21, 2010 9:35 am

[6] baseball ref has no plate appearances for him. mk said last night he played 3b some in hs so i am guessing that is the last time he has batted.
surely he won't be as awkward and uncomfortable as cmw clearly was on the basepaths and definitely let's hope he hasn't been in the jorge posada baserunning academy.

13 rbj   ~  May 21, 2010 9:35 am

[9] But surely they could have a 1 p.m. game somewhere. Unless it's a 22 inning game, it won't interfere with the nighttime game. What, now I'm supposed to do chores tomorrow afternoon instead of lazing on the couch?

14 jjmerlock   ~  May 21, 2010 9:37 am

May 21st.

With Posada's injury and Nick a mess and Granderson down, there's reason for pessimism.

You can call the first one somewhat predictable, the second one completely predictable (because, btw, if he magically stayed healthy, I had *full* confidence he was going to straighten himself out - the guy is just too good a natural hitter - also biased, as I wrote the first (and only?) major magazine piece on Nick, that went live the day he got called up), the last one not predictable. And I still believe Granderson will find a comfort level and will eventually be a valuable contributor here. He was missed while he was still playing, and he's missed now, but he'll be what we traded for before it's all said and done.

It's May 21st. Anyone who is conceding anything lacks fortitude and perspective.

And besides, the idea of being "all about the division" is one of the most particularly wacky notions I've read around here - how anyone could say that after the utter disappointment that followed many successful realizations of that goal - is completely baffling to me.

15 bp1   ~  May 21, 2010 9:37 am

Not on the ledge, just kind of in a funk. Most seasons have these low periods, and they just suck. Anyone who expected Andy/CC/AJ/Phil to continue their torrid start was delusional - it was an unsustainable pace - but I believe in the end they will be very good with solid numbers all around.

The Rays will stumble. In spite of what the talking heads will want you to believe, they are not the '98 Yankees. They're good - but they are still young and they will be tested when they go through their own rough spot.

But yeah - this week has pretty much sucked. Ever since the Mo grand salami things haven't felt right.

Time to bust out the karma changing dodads.

16 Sliced Bread   ~  May 21, 2010 9:44 am

[12] thanks, yeah I saw that on bb-ref this am, but missed that bit from Kay. Didn't know he played 3b. Even though that was 6 years ago we know he at least knows how to handle a bat. CMW looked like he didn't know which end to grasp.

17 jjmerlock   ~  May 21, 2010 9:55 am

Oh, people I am currently completely pissed off at: Tex. Head out of ass. Now. Joba: Man up, or wear that dress full time.

I think those are the two main ones, for me.

A Rod letting that first pitch go during that crucial at bat made me want to shake him, but it's hard - don't know how to do strikethrough here - impossible to complain much about him after last season and some good moments this season.

It did remind me of him at his absolute worst from the past, though - I have always said that the negative effect of strikeouts and the negative effect of failing to advance the runner were HIGHLY undervalued by the silly devotees of a - on a relative basis - very, very new science.

I assume the new metrics are starting to capture these things more effectively, in example number 43 or 48 or 56 of "new metrics catching up to shit I already knew, because I have functioning optical nerves."

Amazing that people took so long to realize how pitifully inadequate defensive metrics were and are now starting to value them. Called that one from the first.

To place an appropriate value on a strikeout, though - &^$#@ - as someone who has worked with statistics, how freaking obvious can that be? It's like sociology level painfully obvious. It simply removes a whole series of possible outcomes as part of your calculations. That makes the "duh factor" off the charts.

Watching him let a freaking 87 mph cookie cruise right near the heart of the strike zone was maddening - this is a silly softball analogy, but the relative talent levels make it just about the same thing - with guys at 2nd and 3rd, up at the plate with less than two outs? You better fucking believe that the first pitch that looks like something to drive is getting driven, and that is the ONLY thing I am thinking about.

Still, not mad at him on any overall level, which would be ill-reasoned, just reminded me of past frustrations.

Call it tooptimstic, but I have thought for weeks now that Jeter is nursing an injury and not talking about it, and will play through it and will suddenly look and play better and then we'll be told he had an injury. Yes, the most simple explanation may be that age is a real number, but it would still be the first time that the above isn't the eventual explanation, and the number of times this scenario has repeated has to be in the twenties.

I'm mad at the team for making what should be the best week of my year just a little frustrating, but they're not robots and games can get hard to win in baseball here and there, because, no matter the payroll, it's baseball. So yes, most of them have been sworn at thoroughly, but that's just exercising my right to be irrational and demanding that when I want my new bike for Christmas, give me my fucking bike. Dammit.

18 jjmerlock   ~  May 21, 2010 10:02 am

Oh, and one absolutely last thing.

Why does anyone think Melancon is anything other than pure suck?

What am I missing here? Again, one of those optical nerves things - the first time I saw him pitch, I saw nothing I liked.

And every time he's called up here, he stinks.

This is a prevalent obsession that I just don't get. Lots of people think there's possibility with this kid, and I don't see it.

19 NYYfan22   ~  May 21, 2010 10:15 am

[17] fyi:
<b>hello</b> = hello
<i>goodbye</i> = goodbye
<u>huh?</u> = huh?
<strike>jigga-wha?</strike> = jigga-wha?

20 NYYfan22   ~  May 21, 2010 10:17 am

[19] mkay.. I guess bb doesn't support <u> for underline.

21 The Hawk   ~  May 21, 2010 11:15 am

[17] I've been saying the same thing about Jeter. I think he is a hurt in some minor way.

22 seamus   ~  May 21, 2010 2:01 pm

I can understand being frustrated. But declaring the division race over or doing anything other than recognizing that we still have 3/4 of the season left is silly. No need to panic even if we lose 8 straight.

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