May 30, 2007

Emergency Moratorium On "-Rod" Puns, Effective Immediately

Ah, the New York Post! You almost have to grudgingly admire their total lack of scruples. Unless, I suppose, you're Alex Rodriguez. I really don't believe his private life is any of our business... but, that said, you're a world-famous multimillionaire and you decide it's a good idea to take your mistress out for a night at a strip club? I don't know where to start.

His shenanigans worked out well for the Yankees last night, though, as he shouted something -- "ha" or "mine," depending on who you believe -- that caused the Blue Jays to miss a routine pop up. I posted about it at Yanksfan vs Soxfan.

Here's a slightly more coldblooded instance of playing fast and loose with the rules, via the Cheater's Guide to Baseball blog: while his teammate Ryan Freel was unconscious in the outfield after their nasty collision, replays show Norris Hopper ran to his side and, while the ump and trainers were running out to check on this possible head injury, slipped the ball back into Freel's limp glove, so that the Pirates' runner would be called out. Wow. Now that's chutzpah... but also, kind of borderline depraved indifference. Quick thinking, though, you gotta give him that.

The video of all this, available here, is tough to watch because it's a legitimately scary collision... but, now that we know Freel is fine, I think it's okay to be amused by the Reds' announcers:

Announcer 1: "What an effort by the little guy."
Announcer 2: "Oh my."
Announcer 1: "They're bringing out the truck."
Announcer 2: "Oh my."
Announcer 1: "The last thing you want to lose is that little guy."

I kind of want to move to Cincinnati now.

Bob Shaw and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I went deep into the Yankees' latest... well let's see, I've already used "disaster," "debacle," "tragedy"... say, how about "cataclysm"? Let's go with that. I went deep into the Yankees' latest cataclysm over at the Banter.

As for Los Mets, that was their oddest walkoff yet. As if Endy's winning drag bunt wasn't enough, now they're tying a game on two balks in the twelfth inning? How is that even poss-- ohhhhhh. That's right, Armando Benitez is the Giants' closer this year! Suddenly it all makes sense. As Carlos Delgado, whose second homer of the night won the game, put it in the Times:

"I don’t know the history, but I could tell by the welcome he got... It’s not my problem, it is something he has to deal with, but he is not well liked here."

Indeed. You know, I feel for Giants fans. That team's got such a long, proud history, but they can't be much fun to watch at the moment. As if the Bonds mess wasn't enough, now they have to deal with the vicissitudes of Benitez, too. (The Vicissitudes of Benitez: possible band name?). At least they have Omar Vizquel's jaw-dropping defense to keep them warm at night, I suppose. And little Timmy Lincecum, who was in fact very impressive.

In the video highlights, check out how Reyes is flitting around third base, basically drawing the second balk. Granted, under the right circumstances, you could probably get Benitez to balk just by clearing your throat, but nevertheless -- reason #374 why Jose Reyes is awesome. I almost feel bad bringing it up, because at this point he's being so hyped all over the place, but what are you going to do?

Also, on some level we all know what a balk is -- you know it when you see it -- but it must be the hardest concept in all of baseball to explain. I was recently trying to get it across to a visiting Brit, and I don't think I did a very good job, but then the official rules aren't exactly a succinct beacon of clarity, either.

However, in case you were wondering, the record for balks in a game by one pitcher is five: Bob Shaw, for Milwaukee, in 1963. That same day, the team set an all-time record, with six. I wouldn't mind seeing that one on ESPN Classic.

May 28, 2007

One of These Things Is Not Like The Other

While the Yankees pick through the burned wreckage of their season, looking for anything that might have survived the cataclysm ("look guys, this Chien-Ming Wang is hardly even singed!"), the Mets are just plain rolling, recent losses to the Braves aside. Honestly, everyone could sense the reversals of fortune coming last year -- the Mets' season felt triumphant, despite the painful Game 7 loss, while the Yankees' ended on a dispiriting note that made their strong regular season feel like an afterthought. But I certainly didn't think the divergence would be this extreme.

A surprising number of things that have already gone wrong for the Mets: Delgado and Wright are both only now starting to come out of massive slumps; one of their hottest hitters, Moises Alou, hurt his quad and has missed two weeks; "Stache" Valentin went down early on with a bad knee; El Duque missed a month with yet another ailment you wouldn't expect to find in anyone under 60 (what's next, glaucoma?); promising and Flash-fast minor league call-up Carlos Gomez hurt his hamstring; Shawn Green, in the midst of his most productive season in years, broke a bone in his foot; Damian Easley started in left field yesterday for the first time in his major-league career... and the team is four games up on the Braves -- at 32-17, two games ahead of last year's pace. I mean, Mike Pelfrey was a bust in the big leagues, but the Mets absorbed all his losses with a lot more equanimity than my fantasy team did.

Imagine what they'll be like if they get even a decently healthy Pedro Martinez back? He's already predicting his velocity will be back in the mid-90s, and taking pot shots at Roger Clemens. Damn, I have to admit -- I've missed that crazy kid.

A somewhat less crazy kid will start for the Mets tomorrow in the form of Oliver Perez, who is shaping up to be, with John Maine, one of the biggest steals in baseball over the last two years; Omar Minaya is velvety smooth. Perez will face the Giants' wunderkind Tim Lincecum, and -- ha, look at Tim Lincecum!:

Awwww! Okay, okay, I know he's got a ton of talent, and he's been very impressive in the big leagues so far. He'll be a tough opponent for the Mets. I have no problem at all taking him seriously... and hey, after the game, do you think Bruce Bochy will take him out for ice cream?

Oh, and by the way, lest anyone think I was overly harsh on Yankee fans in my last post, please do join me in offering up a hearty "suck it, Orlando Cabrera". I'm sorry -- was that mean? Hey, it probably is true that Yankee fans are bad losers, but the day New York crowds are uniformly polite and respectful of opposing players is the day I might as well pack it in and move to Nebraska or someplace. Look, it's nothing personal, Orlando. We only insult your mother because we care.

May 27, 2007

The Pride, The Power, The Pinstripes: Still Better Than The Devil Rays! A Little Bit!

Well, I'm not surprised that the Yankees were swept by the Angels. Did I ever mention how I feel about that team? In another season I might have said the Halos are kryptonite to the Yankees' Superman, but at the moment, I'm afraid they're more like Hep C to the Yankees' crack addict.

It's still May, but by now it's pretty safe to say this is just not the Yanks' year. When Mussina pitches badly, the bullpen is lights-out; when he pitches well, they blow the lead. All but two players have endured significant slumps at the plate at some point, and when rookie pitchers exceed expectations, they are injured, in weird and random ways. (Who doesn't think that when Phil Hughes finally gets back -- having now hurt an ankle on top of the hamstring -- something terrible will happen to him? Like a pigeon will fly into his face and partially blind him, or Kyle Farnsworth will slap him encouragingly on the back and break three of his ribs?)

The Yankees are still much better than their current record, and I'll be shocked if they don't end up well over .500. That, however, seems unlikely to earn them a playoff spot this year: at the moment they're twelve and a half games back from the Red Sox (!), and eight behind for the Wild Card. A comeback is still possible, sure. It's also possible that Clive Owen will knock on my door tomorrow night carrying an Al Green CD, a kitten, and a bottle of Glenlivet, but frankly, I'm not loving the odds.

There are plenty of elements of this team that can and should be criticized, and neither Cashman nor Torre are precisely covering themselves in glory here. But every team has an off year eventually, and the Yankees are way past due. They've always made their share of mistakes, but this time they made a few too many; at the same time, their massive stockpile of luck finally ran out. A number of Yankee fans, I've got to say, do not seem to be taking this particularly well. I suppose it was bound to come as a nasty shock, given that the last time the team had a record this bad in late May, I was... good lord, eight years old. That was 1990, for those of you keeping score at home. But as my mother always used to say: butch up, little missy. If the Yanks miss the playoffs this fall, it will be the first time in twelve years. Complaining loudly about this in public is understandable, but a bit unseemly.

More tomorrow on the Mets, who just swept the Marlins and have considerably more to be optimistic about. Even though they're one about one injury away from starting Oliver Perez in the outfield.

May 25, 2007

Baseball Player Name of the Week

... with a bullet: A's outfielder Hiram Bocachica.

Let me just type that one more time: Hiram Bocachica.

One for the road: Hiram Bocachica!

May 24, 2007

Single-Digit Deficit: Time To Start Printing Those Playoff Tickets

Well, that Wednesday game was much more enjoyable than Tuesday's fiasco (as recapped for the Banter). Granted, nine and a half games back is not exactly cause to celebrate wildly in the streets, but it's... well, better than 10 and half games back. Anyway, I almost, but not quite, felt bad for Curt Schilling -- when Doug Mientkiewicz puts one of your fastballs off the upper-deck facing, it's just not your night. The Yankees cruised to a nice, one-sided, enjoyable-except-for-Kyle-Farnsworth 8-3 win. Next up, however, are the Angels... I have a bad feeling about this.

Others have pointed this out before, but it keeps surprising me -- if you look at Andy Pettitte's postseason numbers, they're okay, but not spectacular. In fact, they're worse than his regular season stats, and yet like a lot of fans, it seems, I always remember him as coming through in the big games. He did come through, of course, plenty of times; but we've conveniently forgotten all those other occasions, which include some real stinkers. Amazingly, though, Pettitte's pitched the equivalent of basically an entire season -- 212 innings -- in his postseason career. That's in thirty-four games, thirty for the Yankees. It's been quite a run.

The Mets, meanwhile, are still having trouble with the Braves, who've taken two of three in all three series this year; every Mets win has come behind Oliver Perez, and if you called that one before the season started... well, then you're insane. But correct. His balletic leap of triumph over the foul line is getting higher by the week, and I love it, except can't you imagine him landing on an ankle wrong one of these days and spraining it? I don't want to be within five miles of Willie Randolph when that happens.

Last night's loss was particularly frustrating, as one-run games usually are; it was also Smoltz's 200th career win. Insert grudging respect here. The good news is that El Duque, Mr. Eephus himself, is heading back to the Mets rotation.

Finally, can I just say, though I realize I'm late on this, that the Lastings "L Millz" (heh) Milledge rap controversy must be the dumbest non-scandal of the year? Has nobody heard any hip hop in the last 20 years? "Milledge can be heard using a racist term for blacks and language derogatory to women." Hello? That's right smack in the rap mainstream this decade -- which you can argue is unfortunate in and of itself, but it's hardly a reason for a promising player's stock to go down. The Mets, as his image-conscious employer, do have the right to tell him to knock it off; it just strikes me as a complete non-issue. With the recent spate of actual domestic violence charges in baseball, rhyming about hos is starting to seem kind of charming and quaint.

While none of L Millz's transgressions over the last two years have been particularly bad, taken together they do suggest that he is, perhaps, not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I guess that's troubling. But note that "intelligence" is never listed as one of baseball's coveted "five tools."

May 21, 2007

Good To Know He Likes Bull Durham, Though

You know it's been a bad week for the Yankees when the New York Times commends them for having "regained some self-respect" -- excellent! -- by avoiding a sweep. Still, things are looking up for the Yanks, kinda, a bit, after last night's win. Tyler Clippard, an awkward, thin, all-angles kind of pitcher, had an excellent major league debut, giving up one run on three hits in six innings. Whether he's really good, or whether the Mets were simply unfamiliar with him and his odd, distracting delivery, I don't know, nor do I care just now, because they actually won. Yes, a whole game! Much rejoicing. Clippard even had a double.

Also, via WasWatching, someone needs to explain to the guy how to make his MySpace page private. I started writing a paragraph about his profile, but felt too much like a mean little voyeur -- buy some curtains, kid!

Meanwhile, John Maine is coming back down to Earth a bit, which I guess was inevitable. I do genuinely believe he's a very legit starter, and will have a strong season overall, but 5-0 with a sub-2 ERA was a bit extreme. The Mets will now face the Braves, and they're in pretty good shape -- two and half games up in the standings -- but since they got a bit beaten up by Atlanta earlier in the season, I suppose still have a little something to prove.

As for the Yanks, they need a sweep against the Red Sox now. I'd be shocked if they got one, so I'm going to pretend that instead, they just need to take two of three. Even if they did sweep, they would still be 7 1/2 games out of first, and one win shy of .500. However. As Mike Francesa just put it on the fan, lecturing the Mad Dog and using my kind of metaphor: "How do you not learn through the years -- you have sat here for 18 going on 19 years... How do you not learn, that in the baseball season, you do not cash the chips in May? You do not cash the chips in July. You can't even take them to the window in August." He went on a while longer, but I got distracted by how much I miss Vegas. Mmmmm, blackjack...

May 19, 2007

Say, Omar, Wanna Trade Endy Chavez for Bobby Abreu? No, seriously. No -- SERIOUSLY.

Look, I know it's frowned on, but there's no point in lying about it: I really like the Mets. They were fun to cover last fall and this spring, they're fun to watch, and they're due. In general, I'm very much rooting for them. That said -- I grew up a Yankee fan, I'll die a Yankee fan (probably sometime next month at this rate), and the Yanks need wins a whole hell of a lot more than the Mets do right now, so my loyalties were not particularly divided tonight. Which is why it's good that I watched this game at a bar, with supportive friends and an easy supply of beer. Because... oy.

Once again, the Yankees just couldn't get anything going. And while Oliver Perez has been legitimately dominant in many of his starts this year and deserves full credit, nevertheless: Damon, Jeter, Rodriguez, Posada, Matsui... three runs should not be a fantastic candy-colored dream for that lineup. Yeah, I know, they'll snap out of it, but by then it may very well be too late. And poor Andy Pettitte, who could have stayed home in Texas if he wanted to lose a whole bunch of 3-2 games; he is where run support goes to die.

Then again, how do you give up the game-winning home run to Endy Chavez? And I say this as someone who, as is well-documented on this site and in the pages of the Village Voice, loves Endy Chavez, so I mean that in no way as an insult. I'm just saying, this is a guy who started that at-bat planning to bunt. Asked in spring training what he was hoping to work on this year, he said, smiling wryly, "Offense. Always, my offense." I can't believe the Mets have the audacity to list his height as six feet; if that guy is six feet tall, then I'm 5'9". (Hint: I am not 5'9"). And I'm not at all convinced he's 165 pounds, either. He's all muscle -- it's not like you could take him in an arm-wrestling match or anything -- but he's not exactly the first image that springs to mind when you think "power threat". I mean, that's part of his appeal. You'd need about three of him to make up the width of one of Carlos Delgado's thighs. Jason Giambi, back in the day, could have injected him for breakfast.

Ah well. The Yankees are now in a massive 10 game hole (yay, round numbers! So easy to remember!). If they had to lose, I suppose I'm glad it was Chavez who beat them. But now they're staring at a potential sweep, with Tom Glavine and John Maine facing rookies Darrell Rasner and Tyler Clippard over the next two days.

Hey, you never know -- even the Devil Rays win sometimes. And the Yankees are a whole half game ahead of them in the standings! So, see... that's... good... [sob]...

May 14, 2007

J.J. Putz Rides A Pale Horse

I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and –-

--No, no, wait, sorry. That's about Armageddon. I was looking for information on the Yanks-Mariners series, but you can see how I might have gotten the two confused.

Okay, so it's not quite the end of days yet. The Yankees are better than this (surely out of A-Rod, Matsui, Giambi, Cano, and Abreu, at least one or two of them will start hitting well again, right?), and they have three-quarters of the season left to play, and a comeback is plenty possible. But their margin for error is getting slimmer every day.

Out in Queens today, the Mets trounced the Brewers, winning the series, and the most enjoyable part of it was their outfield: Carlos Beltran, Endy Chavez, and the newly-called up 21-year-old speedster Carlos Gomez. Defensively, this may actually be the best outfield I've ever seen: they caught everything. It was a thing of beauty. Oliver Perez pitched very well, but he would definitely have given up more than one hit in the first eight innings if Moises Alou and Shawn Green had been in left and right. Also, Jose Reyes finally caved to the peer pressure -- turns out he was just waiting to finish filming a Reggaeton video -- and shaved his head. He actually looks pretty good, and now Aaron Sele is the lone holdout (Poor Mike Pelfrey lost his hair just days before getting sent back to AAA). I can't believe they somehow got 24 of 25 adult men to do this, and am simultaneously very impressed and a little alarmed.

Meanwhile, the much-hyped Brewers looked legitimately very good this weekend -- though maybe not quite as amazing as their record would indicate -- and it's nice to see such a long-suffering franchise turning things around. See, get Bud Selig away from a team, and watch it thrive!

But man... if the Yanks don't snap out of their funk this week, the upcoming Subway Series is going to be pretty damn lopsided, to say nothing of the Red Sox games that immediately follow. No time for love, Doctor Jones.

May 09, 2007

Hey, the Yankees are at .500!


[UPDATE, 5/10: Never mind!]

Jose Reyes and the 24 Baldoons

You know, Mets fans and reporters, and even players, keep saying the team "isn't clicking." Listen, your team is 21-12, tied for first, with one of the lowest team ERAs in the National League. Having watched the Yankees closely throughout April, let me tell you: the team is clicking. Yeah, yeah, I know, Delgado's not hitting, Franco is injured, whatever. Until you've watched Chase Wright's consecutive home runs ,and Kei Igawa, and Phil Hughes' hamstring, and Jeff Karsten's freakishly broken leg, and Doug Mientkiewicz in the same lineup as Miguel Cairo and Wil Nieves... you don't know from "not clicking".

Anyway, the Mets all shaved their heads in solidarity before Tuesday's game, for no particular reason except, apparently, general unity and amusement. Awesome. David Wright started it Monday night, and everyone else followed the next day, with Carlos Beltran in charge of the clippers. Even some of the coaches and trainers joined in. The only holdouts were Tom Glavine and Aaron Heilman, who submitted after the game (a seven-inning, one run gem good for Glavine's 294th win); Aaron Sele, who has a family portrait scheduled today; and Jose Reyes, who is too fast to be caught and whose style probably took a long, long time to cultivate. I'm sort of torn here between berating Reyes for not just joining his teammates, and respecting his self-confidence and stubbornness in holding out, because you know that must've been a whole boatload of peer pressure to withstand. I think I'm going with respect.

Incidentally, this look turns out to really suit Moises Alou. Not everyone was so lucky.

May 07, 2007

Did You Know...

...that Doug Mientkiewicz is an anagram of CEDE GIZMO KIWI NUT?


(Hat tip to Batgirl for the link to Wordsmith, which will suck hours of your life away.)

Is That A Rocket In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

We're just happy to see you, Roger.

One of the things I had sort of forgotten over the last few years is that Roger Clemens, bless his heart, when he talks at length about anything other than the mechanics of pitching, makes no fucking sense whatsoever. I present this verbatim quote from his eighth inning interview with Al Leiter and Michael Kay in the YES booth today:

“I was very upset in 2003, not upset that, that – you know, I had so many flashbacks when that first happened, and then I took a deep breath and knew that I had a chance to be in the bullpen throughout the remainder of that, that series. And then yeah, when it ended I thought that was it, I thought I had thrown my last pitch and I felt good about it, you know that was my mother’s wishes, and so we’ve come to grips with a lot of that. I’ve been playing at home, I didn’t know the circumstances that would happen with Andy going back to Houston, and uh, I just feel very blessed, my body’s been holding up, what can I say? I’m taking care of myself, and I’ve done the work, I’ve always enjoyed working, and again, working with young guys, so hopefully that’ll be the case here. I’m gonna get my body ready for a situation like this on this field, here, and uh, that’s just going to take a little more time."
In case you're wondering, the question was: “What keeps you coming back?”

It's okay, Andy Pettitte speaks fluent Roger and can translate in the clubhouse. And Clemens is smarter than he sounds: not only did he sign for a prorated $28 mil (making him, I believe, the highest payed player in the game), and swing an unprecedented-for-the-Yankees deal in which he will not always travel with the team -- he also managed to drop the name of his sponsor, Continental Airlines, at least three times during various interviews.

That may sound cynical, but make no mistake, I was thrilled to see Clemens' surprise announcement during the seventh-inning stretch today. When you're one of the three or four best pitchers in history, you can play by your own rules. Of course Clemens isn't going to pitch at that level, at age 45, in the AL East, but I don't doubt he's still a damn sight better than Kei Igawa, Darryl Rasner, and Jeff Karstens combined, and the Yanks need him. Major props to Cashman and the Yankee brass for keeping this so quiet, surprising almost everyone, and creating a truly memorable moment at the Stadium. Buster Olney explains how it all fell into place.

The crowd went nuts, and it was a nice change, after the last few weeks, to see the Yankees grinning and laughing in the dugout. Jorge Posada, next to Pettitte on the bench, practically melted with relief... not that getting acquainted with Kei Igawa's pitching style hasn't been a real thrill for him, I'm sure.

This move could backfire, I suppose. One of these years, he isn't going to be able to do this anymore; 45 is up there for pro athletes, no matter what kind of shape you're in. Or maybe, though I hate to bring it up today, it'll come out that he took steroids. There's no hard evidence, but the rumors have swirled for a while, and anyone with that kind of late-career surge has to make you wonder. Clemens also has that "my actual skull has expanded over the years" sort of look to him, plus roid rage (and little else) could explain the Mike Piazza-thrown bat debacle. But you know what? I'm going to ignore that for the moment, and hope there's no fire underneath all the smoke. Or that he never gets caught. Whichever.

-You know how much they need Roger Clemens right now? The win today (oh yeah, there was a game!) was the Yankees' first shutout of the season. Good grief.

-My question is, what did Steinbrenner say to Clemens that made him come back? Best guess: that he's in failing health and this might be his last shot at a Championship? Okay, maybe it was just "I will fill your Olympic-sized swimming pool with cash." But I prefer the more dramatic scenario.

-Neither Cashman not Clemens’ agent wanted to discuss the money at the press conference today, I suppose to keep that from becoming the focus -- and Clemens claimed he didn’t even know the details of the deal. Uh huh.

-Random factoid: according to Jose Conseco's book -- in which he suggests the pitcher showed signs of steroid use, but admits he has no firsthand knowledge of it -- Roger Clemens is "one of the very few baseball players I know who never cheated on his wife. I was amazed by him, to be honest... He was one of the rarities, the anomalies, in baseball. I can hardly think of anyone else who never cheated on his wife."

-Clemens said over and over today that he's looking forward to working with the team's young pitchers. In other words, Phil Hughes just lucked the fuck out and found his Yoda.

May 05, 2007

Old Frenemies

Things were looking up for the Yanks after a three-game sweep in Texas... but a funny thing happened on the way to the winning streak. I still don't really know what to make of Kei Igawa, but I do not eagerly await his starts -- speaking not only as a fan, but aesthetically. Watching him pitch, half the time, is like watching someone tear the wings off a butterfly. That's aces compared to briefly freed relief pitcher Colter Bean, who is, I imagine, not long for the majors after a performance that can charitably be called gruesome. Nothing like walking two batters on 8 straight balls, the second with the bases full, on a day when the bullpen desperately needs a rest (or, as the Yankees call it, "Friday"), to endear yourself to the Yankee Stadium crowd. Bryan Hoch at

"You can't expect to survive when you can't get people out," said Torre, who described his feelings on the bench as "helpless."

Good times all around, then. Eleven runs just don't go as far as they used to. Fortunately, Jeff Weaver starts tomorrow for the Mariners, which means scoring 15 or 16 is a distinct possibility. I was totally right, by the way; that was not Jeff Weaver we saw pitching in the NLCS for the Cardinals. It looked like him, it talked like him, I know, but it wasn't. I'm just glad that whatever being or force it was that controlled him last October, when it was done, returned him unharmed.

I did, however, take considerable solace in the Mets' win tonight over another familiar ulcer-inducer from the recent past, Randy "the mullet is coming back in nicely, thanks" Johnson. The only negative was that Endy Chavez (who I am totally writing in on the All-Star ballot, by the way) sprained his ankle trying to make another crazy catch, and stayed in the game, limping and wincing, which can't have made it any better and was no fun to watch.

Randy Johnson gave up five runs and nine hits in seven innings, a stat line that should be familiar to anyone who watched him pitch for the Yankees over the last two years: not awful, but not getting it done against a good pitcher either -- and John Maine continues to pitch vastly better than a throw-in from the Kris Benson trade has any right to. He gave up two home runs, to Paul Lo Duca and (this is still making me smile) Julio Franco, who sets a new record for oldest player ever to hit a major league home run every time he knocks one out. He and Randy Johnson have a combined age of 92; when Julio Franco started his pro ball career I hadn't even been born. And I'm not that young.

May 02, 2007

Christ on a Pogo Stick

Well, the Baseball Gods decided to stop fucking around with ominous threats and skirmishes last night, and declared open war on the New York Yankees. Some hapless clubhouse attendant must have messed up the requisite burnt sacrifice of a white ox back in early March. Their revenge is swift and terrible.

In perhaps the most depressing 10-1 win in living memory, the Yankees' offense woke up against several hapless Texas Rangers while Phil Hughes, rookie sensation, had his gorgeous, dominating, self-assured, no-hit performance ended abruptly in the seventh inning by an major hamstring pull. He'll be out six weeks, and that's if you're optimistic -- which at this point would probably require heavy-duty pharmaceuticals.

Did this happen because Hughes was rushed to the majors? I don't know, honestly. It seems possible, but I know too little about anatomy and the medical effects of pitching mechanics to judge. Meanwhile, given the bonanza of pulls and strains and tears (Damon, Matsui, Mussina, Wang, and counting), there's a lot of scrutiny on the Yankees' new strength and conditioning coach, the alliterative Marty Miller. But I say they just need to appease the deities before Don Zimmer, with the help of a vengeful Poseidon, sends the team plane on a perilous, cursed, decades-long journey through strange and dangerous lands.

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of Brian Cashman, skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Shea...

[UPDATE: Willi Carroll of Baseball Prospectus doesn't think rushing Hughes had anything to do with the injury. That's good enough for me.]