We know the old cliche–heck, when it comes to sports and sports writing, sometimes everything feels like a cliche–“He pitched just well enough to win,” or “He pitched good enough to lose.” Last night, Johan Santana, vexed by bad luck on a bad team, pitched just good enough to lose. Again. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia, a good pitcher on a good team, pitched poorly, but well enough to keep his team in the game.
Mike Mussina used to say that the best pitchers win half their starts. Mussina did that almost precisely over 18 seasons, winning 270 of his 536 career starts. Mussina understood the finicky role luck plays in wins and losses. But he also knew that, over time, a pitcher’s luck tends to even out. He deserved 270 victories, and that is what he got.
When the smoke cleared–presumably from all the fireworks that explode after a White Sox hits a home run–the Yanks survived a wild night of offense, 12-9. A good thing, as the Rays edged-out the Red Sox. Once again, the Yanks and Rays are tied for first place.
by Bruce Markusen |
August 28, 2010 9:33 am |
Of the three players the Yankees acquired just before the July 31st trading deadline, Austin Kearns was the least heralded. He hasn’t had the career of Lance “Big Puma” Berkman, nor the fame of Kerry Wood. He has never been an All-Star, and probably never will. So it is with some degree of astonishment that Kearns has paid just as much in dividends as the rejuvenated Wood and has had substantially more impact than the injured Berkman.
In 16 games with the Yankees, Kearns has reached base 38 per cent of the time, slugged close to .500, and played flawlessly in the outfield corners. He has become a Pat Tabler force with the bases loaded, showing a knack for coming up with timely hits in the late innings. In other words, he has been exactly the kind of player the Yankees needed in attempting to bolster their outfield depth.
In some ways, Kearns reminds me of Lou Piniella, just retired as manager of the Cubs. More specifically, it’s the way that Joe Girardi has used Kearns that is reminiscent of the role that Piniella once filled in the late 1970s. Like “Sweet Lou,” Kearns plays left field one day, right field the next, and DH’s against the odd left-hander.
That’s not to say that Kearns and Piniella are the same type of players; they’re not. Kearns is a much better defensive outfielder with a stronger arm and more power; Piniella was a better contact hitter who batted for a higher average. But they are similar in that they are the kinds of outfielders who could play every day for a bad team, but should play no more than four to five times a week for a playoff contender.
Not too much, not too little. Girardi has been using Kearns just right.
Atrocious. That’s how Michael Kay described AJ Burnett’s performance tonight in Chicago. Nine runs in 3.1 innings. Maybe it was all a bad dream, huh, Meat?
Nope, it actually happened. Seen it with my own eyes. And if Burnett wasn’t bad enough, the rest of the team played like Chico’s Bail Bonds. Francisco Cervelli’s little star has not only crashed to earth, it’s been dismantled to the point where it doesn’t matter how cute he is, his performance, behind the plate and at bat, is lacking. That Yankees were listless for long stretches of the game, scratching out just six hits.
Here’s a shot from Joe Girardi’s post-game team meeting with the team.
Bull Durham and The Bad News Bears. Makes for a great double feature but a lousy model for, you know, winning a real game.
“This is one of those games where you hope the whole team gets it out of its system because they just want to turn the page quickly,” said Ken Singleton. The long view. Right, what he said.
The White Sox whipped the Yanks, 9-4. The Red Sox also beat the Rays, so the Yanks remain tied with Tampa for first place. Boston is just four-and-a-half back.
The Yanks are the defending World Champs and share the best-record in baseball with the Rays. But after CC Sabathia–who pitches on Saturday night–their starting rotation is suspect. The Red Sox are lurking. Could the Yankees–or the Rays, for that matter–spit the bit down the stretch? Could the Red Sox, improbably, make the playoffs?
Stranger things have happened. I’m not panicked but I haven’t been impressed with the Yankees of late and I’m far from comfortable.
I used to like the idea of Ozzie Guillen more than I actually liked Ozzie Guillen himself, but upon further consideration, I’ve changed my mind–I really like Ozzie Guillen. Doesn’t matter that I don’t like everything that comes out of his mouth. I like that he calls ’em like he sees them. Ozzie is a bona fide character in the land of the canned-quote. He’s a reporter’s dream and a fan’s best friend, cause he never stops talking and always adds fuel to the fire. Most of the time, he just cracks me up. I’ve really enjoyed the bits I’ve seen of the MLB Reality Show about the White Sox.
Yanks are in Chicago for the weekend which means Ozzie is wearing bad-guy black for us. At least it won’t be dull.
AJ the Mysterious is on the hill tonight for the Bombers against ol’ Freddy Garcia. Fresh from the Lo-Hud Oven, here’s the line-up (Cliff does the rest):
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena 3B
The Rays and Sox also play this weekend–who do you root for? Here’s hoping the Yanks take two-out-of-three.
Feels like the playoffs are starting now and will continue–even through a couple of series against the Blue Jays and especially Buck’s “New and Improved!” Orioles–until they officially begin in October.
Friday, Joe Girardi will trek out to the bullpen to watch Pettitte test his groin with a 20-25 pitch throwing session, one that could play a huge role in the Yankees’ stretch drive.
“I think we’re all curious to see how he’s going to do,” Girardi said. “I think there’s anxiety on Andy’s part and on everybody’s part. I think it will be a good indicator. Every time that he’s tried to really push off, he’s felt a little tug. If he’s able to really push off (Friday), that would tell me that he’s healed.”
The alternative is the worst-case scenario for the Yankees. If things go well for Pettitte, it would put him on course for a mid-September return, giving him about three weeks to get himself ready for the postseason. If Pettitte still can’t push off the mound at full strength Friday, even the eternally optimistic Girardi admits it would be grim news.
“That would be a pretty big setback,” Girardi said.
The Yanks without Pettitte will be Big CC and praying for a whole lot of the Score Truck.
In his first public appearance since the death of his father, George, on July 13, Steinbrenner, 53, said that the direction of the professional franchise would not change with his father gone: winning comes first, always, as it had when George was the principal owner. He also made a not-so-daring prediction that the Yankees would make the playoffs, but he declined to discuss the future of Manager Joe Girardi, whose contract expires after the season.
“It’s always going to be the same,” Steinbrenner said in a brief meeting with reporters. “We play to win. We do what we have to do to win. We don’t make a lot of money because of revenue sharing, and we don’t shy away from paying salaries.”
The Yankees would do well to take another look at Albaladejo as another middle inning option down the stretch; contrary to what Kevin suggests, he might still find a home on the postseason roster. Even as more of a one-inning proposition than a multi-inning guy, he’d be more valuable than Chad “Second Coming” Gaudin given that he doesn’t have such infernal platoon splits; righties are hitting a microscopic . 105/.179/.124 against him this year, with two measly doubles the only extra base hits in 105 at-bats. Meanwhile, lefties are hitting a still manageable .226/.280/.348. Given that the Yankees now have Javier Vazquez in the bullpen and Ivan Nova in the rotation — a situation that could eventually reverse — they have less need for a craptacular long man than another middle-inning arm.
Furthermore, it’s not as though they can count on Alfredo Aceves to fulfill that role once he returns from his rehab assignment. After allowing just one hit and one run in five innings in his first three rehab appearances, Aceves has been cuffed for nine hits and four runs in 3.2 innings over his last two appearances — against Double-A hitters, mind you. Five of the six hits he allowed on Wednesday night were doubles, not a good sign. At the very least, he’s a ways off from helping the big club.
Conan’s not the only one to use Shandling as a sounding board. For the past five years especially, the 60-year-old comic, who counts both George Carlin and Johnny Carson as mentors, has devoted himself to mentoring others. A generation of people at the top creative rungs of Hollywood credit Shandling with shaping both their material and their careers.
“There are so many people who lean on him to be their sage in these matters of what’s dramatic—not just what’s funny, but what’s effective, and what’s real, and why what’s funny is what’s real,” says Robert Downey Jr., who compares Shandling to “a Jewish E.T. He’s kind of vulnerable while at the same time very probing. And he’s got serious opinions.”
Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau dubs him “the Godfather.” Baron Cohen sought Shandling’s advice on both Borat and Brüno. Silverman says Shandling has taught her how to embrace the silences during her stand-up act. And Apatow still counts the night Shandling hired him to write jokes for the 1991 Grammy Awards show as “the biggest break of my career.” Apatow later wrote for The Larry Sanders Show, and their collaboration continues: Shandling often attends table reads of Apatow’s films and gives notes on the scripts. (Apatow says Shandling had a “monumental” effect on The 40-Year-Old Virgin.) “There’s nobody better in the world than Garry at telling me what’s working and what’s not,” Apatow says. “I’m just very lucky that I’ve had his input.”
Agee has two great long pieces in this collection–“Undirectable Director,” on John Huston, and another one, written for Life, on the golden age of silent comedy. But what I really love, are the brief reviews Agee did for The Nation and Time. Doesn’t matter that I haven’t seen most of the movies or even if I agree with his take. Agee is just a pleasure to read.