"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Left Toin at Albetoikey

Call it a mercy killing. That’s what it felt like. At least it wasn’t traumatic like Game Four. Not for me, anyway. Game Four took years off my life. I woke up the next morning and first thing I see in my mind’s eye is Molina rounding the bases. “The Chubby Man,” as my friend’s kid, Ian calls him. The Chubby Man ripping a pitch he knew was coming. All day long, people came up to me at work, asking if I felt okay.

Last night was different. When Hughes hung that curve ball to Vladi, followed by the inevitable Nellie Cruz homer, it was all over. The Yankees hit the ball hard but nothing went their way—other than their lone run, which they got as a gift from the umpires. Alex Rodriguez hit the ball hard twice with nothing to show for it and struck out looking at a filthy breaking ball to end the game and the Yankee season.

The inning before, Derek Jeter’s final swing of the year was a late, emergency hack against Colby Lewis. Wait—there was something galling about this game—Colby fuggin Lewis?!?!. I don’t remember the last time I saw Jeter strike out looking so ugly in October.

Second-best. That feels about right on merit. Rangers beat the Rays and the Yanks to get to the Serious? That’s impressive. They did a great job and I’ll be hard-pressed to root against them.

The Yankees were really good this year but they didn’t feel great. They were great in spots but were not consistently great. Still, they defended their title admirably and if this season gets lost in the non-title-bin, I think it was agreeable enough. We had a lot of laughs and a lot to admire—CC Sabathia winning 20 for the first time; Robinson Cano answering the bell after the depature of Godzilla Matsui, putting up an MVP caliber year; Swisher with a good season; the development of Phil Hughes, to name few a few. I liked this team, even the screw-ups like A.J. Burnett don’t seem like bad guys. Felt terrible for Javey Vazquez. Loved having the Big Puma around and man, I thought he was really locked-in at the plate against Texas. Didn’t miss Damon or Matsui, liked Granderson.

This season will also be easy to remember because it’s one of the last years for the Core Four, if not the last. Will those guys all make the playoffs again, together? Pettitte could well retire. Posada is in the final year of his contract and it’s likely he’ll be asked to take on a reduced roll and become a mentor to Jesus Montero.

I figure Mariano will come back, though you never know when he’s just going to walk off and leave us forever…forever the worse. He’ll probably go year-by-year at this point. And then there’s Jeter, the big soap opera of the off-season, Mr. Headline. Going to be fascinating how it plays out, if Jeter keeps up his Gehrig-like streak of “Doing the Right Thing.” He’s dangerously close to Ripken territory. How’s he going to play this?

And that’s how the 2010 comes to an end. With some disappointment? Sure. But with juicy questions about what’s going to happen next. Do they re-sign Swisher? Go after Carl Crawford? Cliff Lee? Which one of these?

This is the 8th season I’ve covered here on the Banter and it’s been as much fun as any of them. Thanks so much for falling through and being a part of it, whether you’re part of the comments section or just a regular reader. Really appreciate it, you guys.

Course we’re not going anywhere. The Banter is open 365, living and breathing like the city we represent.

“90% of life is showing up,” said Woody Allen. We’ll keep the treats coming.

Thanks to the Yanks for another winning year. Thanks for Jetes and the crew, and especially to Mariano who is the Precious.

R.I.P. to the Boss and Bob Sheppard.

Word to our man Cliff, and peace to Todd Drew.

Let’s Go Yan-Kees!

[Pictures by Bags, Pathum and me]


1 RIYank   ~  Oct 23, 2010 11:56 am

Thanks, Alex.
No more 500+ comment threads, but I'll still be hanging out.

2 rbj   ~  Oct 23, 2010 12:16 pm

I'm disappointed, but not upset like 2004. Yankees simply did not play well this series and it was evident from the get go. And once Mark went down with his hamstring, I figured it was over at that point.

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 23, 2010 12:37 pm

thanks for another great year Al & Co.!!

I think this post pretty much summed up my feelings about this year. A fun, interesting, solidly good team...just not a great one.

This doesn't feel like '04 or '01 where I came away feeling like someone broke into my house and stole all my toys on Christmas eve, nor does it feel like an '05 or '06 where by the end I was so sick of looking at the team I just wanted them out of my life for the next six months.

I won't mourn the 2010 Yankees for a particularly long time, I think I knew sometime around August that things would end this way one way or the other. It was a fun ride, just not one we'll be reading any books about 30 years from now.

Whatdya guys say we pick this back up in Tampa, say around the second week of February? I'll be interested to hear Lee's first impressions of throwing to Montero.

4 Evil Empire   ~  Oct 23, 2010 1:03 pm

Good Epitaph on the season, Al. I watched the game lying on my floor in pain and uber soreness after having played in a baseball game @ Rickwood Field yesterday (I went 2 for 3 on offense but pulled a couple "Giambis" in the field).

I kept saying to myself, "I'm going to hop on the Banter when things get interesting," but that never really happened. 4 Bananas cured my leg cramps, but nothing was going to cure the Yanks problems this season. I finally turned off the TV and listened to John and Suzyn finish out the season; there's something about watching another team celebrate and hearing their fans yell "Yankees Suck" that pisses me off, and I wasn't interested in seeing that.

I don't think the Yanks need to make wholesale changes, but I'd suggest the following:

1. Make signing Cliff Lee a priority. They should literally blow him away with an offer.

2. Bring back the Core Four -- Jeter, Posada and Andy all need to return.

3. If Montero can hit during the spring, he should make the team as a DH

4. Send AJ Burnett to a team in the NL. Eat whatever salary has to be eaten

5. Bring back Swish

6. Bye Bye to Nick Johnson, Lance Berkman, Marcus Thames, and Austin Kearns

7. Let Chamberlain, Brackman and Betances compete from the #5 slot in the rotation.

2. Fire Kevin Long and get another hitting coach. We scored a combined 6 runs in our four losses during the ALCS. I think it's the hitting coach'es job to look at film and come up with a strategy for an approach to hitting; and the Yankees hitters just looked lost to me.

5 Evil Empire   ~  Oct 23, 2010 1:05 pm

[4] sorry I got out of order as I was typing that....the second #2 should be #8. I am really tired of hearing about Kevin Long. For every success he had (Curtis Granderson) there are other guys who look completely lost to me.

6 joejoejoe   ~  Oct 23, 2010 1:17 pm

Good not great about sums up this year's model.

Thanks to Alex and the gang and all the Banter commenters for a fine season. Subtracting concern about A.J. Burnett's BABIP from my woes is liberation, not defeat. Here's to 500+ comments on Sunday gravy. Here's to an offseason full of life that takes it's hacks like Cano and takes it's lumps with the grace of Mariano.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 23, 2010 1:37 pm

yep. Excellent season recap, Alex. I agree with all of it. No magic this year. The team played very well at times, and sometimes looked like the best team, but it never really took off and soared. Always seemed to be ankle deep in oatmeal. I'm not saying they played like fat cats, even though they actually had a Fat Puma, or Big Elvis, or whatever. I think the season-long marathon with Tampa finally caught up to them in the ALCS. The players looked gassed, and Girardi's touch turned to rust. It happens, even to the best teams.

Cano's year was really special. No reason to think he can't put up similar numbers the next couple years. Swish did a great job. Granderson, Gardner. I liked the whole outfield this year actually.

On the down side of things: Tex and the left side of the infield underperformed. They weren't terrible, but they didn't carry the team for long stretches. The pitching was inconsistent aside from CC, and even he was inconsistent down the stretch. Po and Cervelli had a tough year behind the plate.

Yeah, the champs looked pretty flawed in the end. I'm not saying they're toast, and can't make a championship run next year - but I think It really takes magic, for lack of a better word, some kind of special energy for a team to win it all - and the 2010 Yankees never seemed to sustain that. But nobody should expect a team to have that magic every year. Even once a decade seems like a fair share.

This was a fun season. All seasons of baseball are fun -and the Banter's still the best place to talk Yankee baseball.

8 The Hawk   ~  Oct 23, 2010 1:49 pm

Kevin Long is good. Granderson, Swisher and even Jeter all seemed to benefit from his insight. If anything I'd replace Eiland. Find some Burnett Whisperer

9 joejoejoe   ~  Oct 23, 2010 2:11 pm

Maybe swap A.J. Burnett for Carlos Zambrano? New York is a little more tolerant of hotheads than the lesser of Chicago's two teams and if you squint there is a lot to like about this deal for the Yanks. Zambrano is younger, slightly better peak numbers.

10 Evil Empire   ~  Oct 23, 2010 2:12 pm

[8] we scored 6 runs in 4 losses....6 runs, chief.....

11 thelarmis   ~  Oct 23, 2010 2:29 pm

alex - thanks for everything here at the Banter! i've been following you the whole time, since back in the all-baseball days. the banter is my online family and a very important part of my daily life. thanks to everyone here! : )

12 thelarmis   ~  Oct 23, 2010 2:31 pm

swish has one more year on his contract, right? and i believe it elevates to expensive territory, like $11mil, or something like that. i'm a big swish fan, so i'm all about it. i've always like granderson, so i'm psyched he'll be back the next 2 years. gritner did a lot better than i think anyone really expected.

i don't think we're getting crawford, which is okay. i doubt we're getting werth either, but he'd prolly be really good, though expensivo...

13 monkeypants   ~  Oct 23, 2010 2:45 pm

10) my suspicion is that teams generally score few runs in losses. I'm not sure retaining or firing Long based on his hitters work infour losses is the fairest way to evaluate his coachin, as opposed to how the team hit in the PS ( second most runs per game) or the entire season (led league in R/G by pretty wide margin) or the last two seasons (most runs scored in the bigs), etc.

But that's just my take.

14 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:14 pm

I have one thing on my mind: Andy.

I don't care about the loss or the season (I neither expected nor thought we deserved to win) but the thought that we'll never see Andy pitch again makes me sick to my stomach, almost like someone has died. Which is how I felt when he left us the first time.

All I can say is, I don't care what else does or does not happen this off-season only Andy, please, one more year. Give us (me?) one more season to come to terms with your departure.

I just can't imagine not seeing him out there again.

15 ms october   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:17 pm

agreed, very good summary of the season alex.

i am disappointed but not angry.
i am not sure i am ready for the circus that this winter could be.

16 BronxToCT   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:25 pm

Alex: Many, many thanks to you and all the regulars for another terrific year of Bronx Banter. I don't put my 2 cents in very often, but I'm here every day, especially days like today when the season is over and I can't get bring myself to read anything. This site just keeps getting better and better as it evolves and becomes ever more eclectic, like the City itself: art, food, music, movies, and of course all things Yankee. I'm very grateful.

17 Evil Empire   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:38 pm

[13] "my suspicion is that teams generally score few runs in losses."

Well, I'm glad you didn't preface that opinion with anything that could be read as arrogance laced with smugness.

Of course we always score less in losses, but my point is that if we had better approaches at the plate, maybe they're not all losses. Maybe we get a big hit in game 4 and Girardi doesn't throw his gas can on the fire.

18 RIYank   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:40 pm

[17] Yeah, I dunno. It did look that way during the games. But, four games, and not even randomly picked but selected for small runnage out of the nine postseason games they played, that's not a very good sample. In my mind, K-Long has a lot of capital, he gets a lot of slack.

19 Just Fair   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:44 pm

I told myself i would detox myself from the banter today. Couldn't do it. Cheers, all. The stress and agony has been lifted. It's time to turn the page. I hope when the Giants are playing the Rangers, there's a minor earthquake and Texas drifts calmly and slowly into the Gulf of Mexico.

20 monkeypants   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:48 pm

[17] And my point is that, even if one grants that (a) poor approach [rather than merely poor execution by the players] led to PS losses, and (b) the poor approach should be ascribe solely [or even largely] to the hitting coach...

...it is highly questionable to fire the hitting coach for this alone (i.e., base one's overall evaluation of him on four playoff losses), rather than taking his entire corpus into account. In fact, I think that firing the hitting coach because the team was shutdown in four losses in the PS, of which one of losses came at the hands of the allegedly unhittable Cliff Lee, is kind of silly.

But then again, I don't make those decisions. Maybe the Yankees brass will lay blame at the feet of Long.

21 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 23, 2010 3:58 pm

[10] Whoop-de-fucking-do.

Kevin Long isn't some body-snatching alien.

He can't jump into Mark Teixeira's body and MAKE him NOT swing at lousy breaking stuff in the dirt, even *if* he told him over and over "they'll get ahead with breaking pitches for strikes AND THEN try to get you to chase crap in the dirt".

Neither is he a Level 20 Cleric with healing super-powers who can miraculously return Teixeira and Swisher and Gardner to health.

He's paid to notice bad mechanics and correct them when the player approaches him for solutions (e.g. Arod, Cano, Swisher, Jeter, Granderson, Berkman) and develop an approach for the hitters to follow when going into a series, along with the ADVANCE SCOUTS and other elements of the organization.

He's doesn't deserve "the credit" when the Yankees pummel some opponent and neither does he deserve "the blame" when they *get* pummeled, because that really isn't what his job entails.

22 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:00 pm

Maybe the Yankees brass will lay blame at the feet of Long.

Kevin Long's job is safer than Girardi's (if KL wants to return) and we already know what's going to happen with Girardi.

23 monkeypants   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:04 pm

[22] Yep. I agree with you.

Though it would be cool if the Yankees *could* add a Level 20 Cleric to the coaching staff! ; )

24 Evil Empire   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:12 pm

[20] it's a fair point, and debating the merits of whether Long shares any blame or not is a fair debate.

But you don't have to try to make someone else feel stupid in making your point.

25 The Hawk   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:17 pm

[10] Kevin Long is not responsible for the other team's pitcher, nor is he responsible for the hitters' bad AB's. The way I see it, if you have tangible positive results from a ****ing hitting coach, you are in bonus territory already. And the Yankees have that. Pinning the offense's woes in this series on Kevin Long is incredibly perverse, imho.

26 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:27 pm

[23] Zombies ... you never know when it's gonna be zombies.

27 The Mick536   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:28 pm

Banter be a regular part of my life. Will continue following the Yanks, food, and art with you.

As for the season, I look at it differently, being outside the Bronxway. Thought the off-season trades were stupid. Vasquez and Nick. Give me a break. How about Randy Wynn? I didn't miss him. Did Austin Kearns hit for the Yankees? I cannot remember.

Very disappointed in the failure of the people brought up from the farm. Who would you keep? Don't think Cervelli is an everyday. Nunez. Golson. I dunno.

AJ remains a jerk with a weak arm, one more able to throw pies than strikes. He was benched for the last part of the season. All I heard was how well he did for a couple of innings. It cannot be that he is just a head case.

Swish plays hard, but I never felt he caught all the balls he could have and struck out at bad times. He struck out so often that it is hard to understand how he batted .288.

Andy missed too much of the season. If he comes back and they get Cliff Lee, doesn't that mean the Yankees have three lefties? I don't see it. Is Oswalt still available?

CC got to twenty with the help of the weak. He doesn't get people out anymore the way he used to.

Jorge, of the squint, cannot throw anyone out and doesn't catch all that he should. He doesn't get around on fastballs and is a liability on the bases. You got to be able to run and run smart.

Jeter slept through part of the season in the most serious slump of his career. He doesn't make pitchers work, anymore. He doesn't hit the ball hard.

Joba, what did he do? I just remember the home runs.

Tex makes how much for playing the field? Lots of quiet home runs, a stat we used to follow A-Rod with. No good being a switch hitter if you don't hit from one side and the other side you only pull. How come no mention of him by you or the banterers? I ain't giving him no pass. He didn't bat .260. Hell, Granderson didn't bat .250, if I am not mistaken.

A-Rod, I just don't know. I don't credit players of his status for hitting the ball hard, if it don't fall in. How many games did he miss? Too many, I'd say. He won't play 125 next year. He probably will have some kind of surgery, don't you think? Could it be that both he and Tiger stopped drinking or shooting the supplements that made them a little angry and thereby more competitive? I think so. Wait til the Doc goes to trial.

Granderson wasn't around for most of the season. He had injuries, an inability to hit lefties, and I don't know. Just didn't see him as a take charge sort of center fielder.

But I gotta say that I love Robinson Cano.

I don't blame the coaches for my team's failure to hit in the games that matter. I blame the players.

I also will never root for a team that has George Bush on its bench. Its hard enough to root for the Yankees with the people behind them, both the pols and the owners.

28 The Mick536   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:35 pm

Gardner, I forgot Gardner. I love guys who play hard everyday, but if he not be able to carry the team even for a couple of weeks, he should be playing for Kansas City. Stick with this outfield. I don't think so. Not sure Jason Werth can play left. Granderson is stuck in center. Swisher won't make it if he cannot play everyday.

What a mess.

29 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:38 pm

[21] To flesh this out a little further, in a non-snarky way, it's not Kevin Long's responsibility to develop the Yankees hitter's approach to an opponent's pitching in a post-season series.

It's part of his responsbilities, but it's not his responsibility.

The Yankees have had advance scouts scouting every Rangers' game for at least the last month and I guarantee that before this series, a large group of Yankees staff and executives and those very advance scouts got together and together went over scouting reports and impressions and together worked out a game plan for approaching the upcoming series.

Was the approach they came up with the right one? Did the Rangers execute their gameplan better than the Yankees did theirs? Was it a matter of the Yankees hitters were just off and the series ended before the hitters could make the necessary adjustments to counteract the opposition's pitching? Or was it just that sometimes, an Angel pees down the barrel of your gun and nothing you do is going to matter ...

30 The Hawk   ~  Oct 23, 2010 4:53 pm

[27] Say what you will about Burnett, but he does not have a weak arm.

31 Iyasu   ~  Oct 23, 2010 8:54 pm

Thank you Alex, for the great write-up. Fortune smiled at Colby Lewis but I don't recall more than a few pitches the Bronxmen should have squared. My disappointment in not being able to witness Game 7 is assuaged by the proof of the Carp org's talent development. That team, named after marine life locally considered to be auspicious, was bolstered this season by Kenta Maeda, who lead the Central League in CG, W, hitters faced, IP, punch outs, ERA and WHIP. Another cool thing about the team based in Hiroshima is that koi, the word for "carp" in Japanese, has a homonym that means romantic love.

32 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 23, 2010 10:48 pm

Thanks to you AB, and the whole Banter crew, for keeping the lights on for the rest of us, making us laugh, cry, laugh again, and best of all, think. It was a fun season, and I think our boys will be back just fine next year.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what happens in the Serious, and (I hope) rooting for the kids out in SF. And the ex-Yanks they seem to collect on the coaching staff. Raise your hand if you ever thought a team employing Bam Bam Meulens, Roberto Kelly, and Rags would be thisclose to playing in the Serious - I sure didn't.

33 The Hawk   ~  Oct 23, 2010 11:34 pm

I hope it's not in poor taste to post here but I don't know where else to go. Yankees are king but ultimately - it's baseball!

So - Giants vs Phillies down to the wire and it's very exciting. Two men on, two outs. Brian Wilson's Beard on the mound and Ryan Howard at the plate!

34 The Hawk   ~  Oct 23, 2010 11:40 pm

Strike three called! Awesome. I am posting into the abyss. Wilson was scary, but got it done, by god.

35 joe   ~  Oct 23, 2010 11:46 pm

I don't know much about either team but the Giants definitely seem more likable esp. with Brian Wilson's beard.

Does he enter to "California Girls?"

36 Diane Firstman   ~  Oct 24, 2010 12:01 am

I'm going to be IN San Fran starting Wednesday, for a week's vacation (planned long ago) ... of course I can't come close to even SNIFFING a ticket ... sigh.

37 The Hawk   ~  Oct 24, 2010 12:13 am

Hey I'm stoked the World Series is piquing my interest without my team in it. Go San Fran! Hopefully the pitching holds up!

38 cult of basebaal   ~  Oct 24, 2010 12:46 am

[36] You ain't kidding, those are some insane prices on StubHub.

Though, frankly, StubHub is usually waaaay overpriced this far in advance of a big event.

39 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Oct 24, 2010 12:59 am

Thanks for a great season with the Banter. My first year here and in solidarity we witnessed a strange, off-beat year with the Yankees. To go this far was almost remarkable, and if the Sox didn't lose like 7 regular players would probably be going to the WS. I hope Jeter and the Yankees settle on a reasonable agreement. Mo had said he only would sign for one year, I hope Jeter will settle on two.

Let's go Giants! The Freak, Buster Posey, Kung Fu Panda and the rest, they are a fun team to watch and haven't won the WS since '54...that's long enough.

Last nights Yankee Game was numbing, but with a sigh we move on. We'll get 'em next year.

40 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Oct 24, 2010 1:03 am

[36] I have good luck getting tickets from real people (not ticket brokers) on Craigslist. Good luck! The city and stadium are beautiful.

41 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 24, 2010 1:19 am

Texas - San Fran world series..unexpected and exciting. Lincecum vs Hamilton alone is going to be great.

42 edoubletrouble   ~  Oct 24, 2010 1:59 am

YOU DA MAN Al Belt - Thanks for being the site that never sleeps. You representin', true and direct - without you, I'd have no home page.

43 Iyasu   ~  Oct 24, 2010 2:47 am

[42] Hear, hear. Well put and TRUE dat. i'm feeling fine. Tiz a priv being a punchling in the A-Belt.

44 monkeypants   ~  Oct 24, 2010 8:08 am

Was really hoping for giants-yankees. I'm in the minority, but i think i'm pulling for texas.

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