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Going Up Against Bull Durham….

Posted By Joseph Gallo On May 20 2009 @ 5:54 pm In New York Yankees | No Comments

Whether you find this stupid or not, I was hesitant to write this blog entry now, since the last time I posted anything was at the start of the Yankees current 7 game win streak.  Sure I may be a little too superstitious, but as Crash Davis said in Bull Durham “don't mess with a winning streak”. Unfortunately for me, once the winning streak eventually ends, my payoff isn't as enticing as Nuke Laloosh's.

Maybe more than any other game in the current Yankee run, the odds are stacked up against them tonight.  First you have to figure that they'll eventually lose a game just by chance.  Especially considering how lucky they were to win some of those games against Minnesota over the weekend.  But luck is an important factor to winning in baseball, especially over just 7 games.  The one variable that can neutralize luck though is the strength of a team's starting pitcher.  And looking at the pitchers scheduled for tonight, I'd say the pendulum of momentum swings towards Baltimore.  This is not meant to be a put down of Phil Hughes in any way.  He's been okay since taking over Wang's spot in the rotation nearly a month ago.  As you would expect from any young pitcher (please remember that although it feels like he's been around forever, Hughes is still just 22 years old), Phil's had his great games (Detroit), his so-so games (Minnesota) and his Irabu-esque games (Baltimore).  Basically what I am saying is at this point, he's still a bit of a wildcard.  Factor in also that he's opposing Baltimore's best pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (although he's also supporting an era over 5) and I wouldn't be shocked if the winning streak ended at 7.  But anything is possible; maybe they do win tonight and all my negativity about streaks ending just makes me sound like a pre-2004 Sox fan whose waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But….if they do lose, you can blame me.

So much to cover since I last posted, so let's do this in a bulletin board format:

- I have all the respect in the world for Cito Gaston and his Toronto Blue Jays, but I just don't see them withstanding the charge of NY, Boston and Tampa throughout the season.   Aside from the Halladay start, the Yankees didn't have too hard of a time taking 2 of 3 in Toronto.  And the Jays will need to win 2 in a row in Boston this week to win that series against another AL East foe. 

- The Yankee bullpen may not be very good right now, but compared to what the Twins ran out there this week they make the Yankee group look like the Nasty Boys version 2. 

- It's nice to see Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner fight one another for playing time.  It seems like almost every game one of them contributes a key moment to a win.  While on the subject of Gardner, I really didn't have a huge problem with his dash for home against Minnesota on Sunday.  Should he have tried to score from third on a grounder to the pitcher when there was just 1 out and Robinson Cano coming to the plate?  Of course not, however it took arguably the play of the year from Joe Mauer to tag him out at the plate.  If he had made it the media would be singing Gardner's praise.  Plus isn't everyone always talking about how boring the Yankees are, as they appear to sit back and wait for the big 3 run homerun?  Gardner's speed does bring something different to the table from time to time.  Unfortunately for him he hurt his shoulder on the play, and is currently day-to-day. 

- Arod does look like the 2001 version of Mark McGwire right now (Mac batted .187 but did hit 29 homeruns) but that is only true if you just go by the guys' batting average.  McGwire's OBP in 2001 was a paltry .315, currently Arod's OBP is .383, which means he's not just going up to the plate hacking.  Once he gets more comfortable some extra singles and doubles will fall in to raise the average, but in the meantime I'll happily take the 400+ ft homeruns and walks.  Also keep in mind this is basically his spring training and….the small sample size. 

- On the subject of Arod, I guess he won't be sending any more Christmas Cards to Cal Ripken and Boomer Wells.  First Cal made waves by stating that he wants to talk with Alex and get an explanation on why he choose to use steroids.  Then during his trip to Yankee stadium to celebrate the anniversary of his perfect game from 1998, David Wells ripped on all steroid users, declaring that if he were commish he would institute a lifetime ban for the first offense.  First let me address Cal's quote.  This may upset some, but I've never liked Cal.  I respect what he did for baseball, but he's always come off as a giant douche to me.  It doesn't help that I've heard some unflattering stories from people who have met the guy.  So excuse me when I say I don't give a rat's @ss what Cal thinks he deserves to hear.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but WFAN's Mike Francesa made a great point the other day, which was, perhaps we should ask Cal about his close friend Brady Anderson and numerous other Oriole teammates who have been linked to steroids.  Why no investigation into their lives Cal?  

As far as Boomer Wells, he's always been outspoken so I can't fault him for giving his honest opinion when asked about steroids.  But I think that his strong stance here goes towards his desire to wanting to become MLB's version of Charles Barkley (both fat and bald, and don't particularly appear to be all that bright).  Also I'd be shocked if Boomer never took any amphetamines during his playing career to help deal with one of his massive hangovers.  While they aren't viewed by many to be as extreme as roids, amphetamines or “greenies” as they are commonly known are still a form of cheating. 

- Holy Tuledo Batman, what has gotten into Mark Teixeira.  Since the start of the winning streak Tex is hitting .444/.500/.1000 with 4 homeruns.  The announcers during the games love pointing to the return of Arod, meaning Tex is getting better pitches to hit.  Perhaps that's it, but since I'm not a big fan of lineup protection equaling better pitches, I lean more to the Laws of Averages, which shows that in May, Tex begins to hit. 

- On the other end of the hot spectrum there is Nick Swisher.  He's been ice cold for about 3 weeks now, and while I'd love to see him get a day off to clear his head, there is currently no one available to give him a blow.  This is where the absence of Xavier Nady really hurts.  Despite his struggles over the past week though, Swisher still has an OBP of .364, which is pretty good.  So although he's not hitting, he's at least keeping his outs to a minimum.  

-  Since his melt down vs. Tampa two weeks ago, Mo has looked like the Mo we've all come to know and love.  Perhaps the screams that he's now just a mere mortal were a bit too knee-jerk. 

- On the subject of closers, how scary was it to see Phil Coke try to save the game vs. Minnesota on Monday?!?  The guy looked terrified on the mound, and if Mike Redmond hadn't swung at ball 4, I wouldn't have been shocked if Coke blew that game.  To me Coke's a nice pitcher who can give you an inning or two with a strikeout here and there, but his slider isn't very good and I'm not looking forward to seeing his face of terror any time soon if called upon in the 9th inning. 

- What can you say about Andy Pettitte, it doesn't look very pretty anymore, but he somehow gets the job done.  The development of Phil Hughes this year is extremely important, because I have major concerns on whether Andy will be able to sneak by AL East hitters come late August. 

- Then there is CC Sabathia, who has been absolutely dominant as of late.  In his last 3 starts: 3-0, 24 IP, 12 hits allowed, 6 walks, 20 strikeouts and a .146 batting average against.  This is part of the reason the Yankee
s passed on Johan Santana last year. 

- I never thought I'd say this, but Brian Bruney may be the most valuable player on this team (okay I am exaggerating, but still they really need him).  Without him the late innings are a bit of a toss up.  If he can pitch the 8th like he did last night, the Yankees will continue to win a lot of close games. 

- Not a lot I can say about the back-to-back-to-back walkoff victories that hasn't already been said.  They were fun to watch and it was nice to see Alex get one of those big hits.  Although I love Paul O'Neill and David Cone, they need to loosen up over the pie in the face antics.  I've already expressed my hatred for the term 'The Yankee Way”, so hearing someone use that term (ahem Michael Kay) to put down the pie shenanigans annoys me.  What people seem to forget is these guys are making millions of dollars to play a kids game.  So its okay if they have fun and act like kids every once in awhile.  Besides AJ's pie tosses have been better than his pitching as of late.  Also I love how they give a WWE Championship Belt to the Player of Game after each win.  It was awesome seeing Damon wearing it over his shoulder in his postgame interview on Sunday.  Woooooo!

- Page 6 says Arod's dating Kate Hudson.  Good for him, she's definitely an upgrade over Madonna.  He better keep an eye out for Owen Wilson though. 

- This doesn't have anything to do with the Yankees, but since I'm not a fan of Steve Phillips, I hate the word intangibles and Joe Posnanski is one of my favorite writers, I figured I'd post it here [1].   For anyone that saw ESPN's Sunday Night telecast of San Francisco vs. the NY Mets, they'll be familiar with what Poz is talking about.  Speaking of the Mets….boy have they been decimated by injuries.  Gary Sheffield hitting cleanup?  What year is this?  For the sake of quality baseball, I hope Reyes is healthy when the Mets meet the Yankees in a month.   Be sure to check out Mark Reichman's Met's blog here at sportstalkbuzz for any updates concerning the Met's roster. 

Okay that's it for today.  I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things I wanted to talk about, but I'll get to them eventually.  Questions or comments can be sent to josephgallo@sportstalkbuzz.com.

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