Find two movie titles that share a common word – preferably the first word of one title and the last word of the other. Then create a new plot that combines both movies. Like: “Members of the Rebel Alliance escape an ice-covered planet in a time-traveling Delorian.” Have your friends guess the mashed up title.
Since you are beginners, that was an easy one (“Empire Strikes Back to Future,” with “Back” being the shared word). How about: Two hopeless alcoholics visit their boss for a four-day bender with his corpse? Or: A cocky, unhappy weatherman is forced to participate in the same NASCAR race day after day? Or: A secretary poses as a Wall Street executive and winds up being unfairly placed in an insane asylum? Or: Pouting teenage vampires take a road trip and get in touch with their feminine sides?
It’s a horrible, horrible game that I can’t stop playing. I hope it infects your mind in a similar fashion – I don’t want to be the only one. And I hope it distracts you from the way the Yankees are playing right now. They have lost 12 of 18 games and their grip on the best record in baseball and the home field advantage in any round of the postseason. They are hot, stale garbage. Since this game was such a mess, I want to take a quick peek back at what got them to this point.
The first cries that the Yankees stopped trying came too early for me. During that string of close losses at Texas and Tampa, I thought the bullpen was legitimately spent. Few of Girardi’s moves worked out in those games, but I thought he was taking a lot of heat for a dearth of sac flies and hits with runners in scoring position. But then came the “rain delay.”
On Wednesday, with a chance to take the most recent Tampa series, lock in at least a 2.5 game lead, and bring a four-game sweep into the equation, a wicked rain halted play with the Yankees trailing by a measly run after three innings. But the wind blew so hard that night that all of Girardi’s Major League pitchers were swept away. When the rain cleared, he gave Royce Ring his season debut, for some reason. He backed him up with Dustin Moseley, or as he’s known in my apartment, Bantha fodder. Moseley let up a run for Ring, and then one of his own. But the Yankees scored two themselves and were still squarely in the game.
Given the gift of a close contest after using the roster dregs, Girardi still refused to engage the game. Because the nasty weather cancelled Kyle Farnsworth’s flight to LaGuardia, Girardi had to turn to Chad Gaudin to put the game away. For Tampa. He let up two homers, but Girardi was scared to death it might get closer, so he left him in to let up another run. When Albaladejo let up the seventh run, Girardi finally breathed easily – there was no chance of extra innings. There was no chance someone might slip on the wet grass and get hurt. And there was no reason to use a good relief pitcher. He succeeded in putting all the eggs in CC’s basket. Then CC ate the friggin’ eggs.
Even if you have all the confidence in the world in CC Sabathia (and I still do), why not empty the bullpen on the night before he pitches? Go for it on Wednesday; let CC go seven or eight on Thursday. Worst case scenario, you lose Wednesday (while trying) and CC gets bombed on Thursday and you use the bad relievers to back him up. And lose two. Maybe that was going to happen anyway. Maybe the Rays are just better than the Yankees. But when Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin all appear in a super-tight playoff-type game with huge implications in the race for the AL East title and home field advantage in the playoffs, I call bullshit.
Why did Wednesday’s game not matter? It seems to me that playing in Yankee Stadium in October (anytime, really) is a huge advantage and the surest way to get to the World Series.
I have a theory that Girardi has a fear of the infinite. He is scared to death a game might go 13, 14, or even 1,000 innings. His moves always scream to me, “Please, let this be over now. If we win great, but I really don’t want to find out what number comes after 12.” When the game threatens to go beyond nine, he pinch runs for his best hitters for no apparent reason. He consumes pitchers like French Fries. When those games with the Angels in the 2009 ALCS went late, I started to feel like the Yankees were playing against the Angels and Girardi at the same time.
I wrote all this when the Yankees were getting battered 10-1. But then they hit a bunch of really long home runs, made it respectable and even brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th, before ultimately losing 10-8. The Rays won and are now likely in first place in the AL East to stay. This became inevitable after splitting the series with Tampa, but I’m sure we were all hoping that the Yanks could hang on for few more games. I am not going to pay any attention to that screaming harpy on my shoulder who’s trying to remind me that the Red Sox are still alive and that things could get very uncomfortable very fast if they were to sweep this series. If the Yankees have not clinched this thing by the time they go to Boston to end the season, I’ll apologize to her and take her out for a drink or something.
I root for the Yankees to have the best record in baseball every year. I root for them to win the East. But if they win the World Series as a Wild Card, that will be wonderful and undiminished in any way in my eyes. So for the fact they hit well tonight and that this was only Andy’s second start back, let’s just give them a pass and hope the hitting stays strong from this point forward. Even if they don’t have home field advantage, if they hit, and CC and Andy show up like last year, and Mo is perfect again, they’ll win in any park. It takes hot pitching and timely hitting in October and just because they’re losing now doesn’t mean it will continue in the Postseason.
Answers to mash-up: The Lost Weekend at Bernie’s; Groundhog Days of Thunder; Working Girl Interrupted; The Lost Boys on the Side.