Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tough Pill To Swallow...

The Yankees are 27 outs away from calling this season a failure. While a miraculous turnaround is conceivably possible (as the Red Sox showed us just six years ago), it's safe to say there will be no comeback for the Yanks. The looks on their faces last night said it all. This team doesn't believe in themselves. Over the last three games, they've had no answer for the Rangers. Without a miracle 5-run comeback in Game 1, this series would already be over, and in dominating fashion. The Rangers have stalled every Yankee rally, and answered every Yankee punch with a harder punch-back of their own. From the perspective of a true fan, it's been nothing short of disappointing. I'm not angry, I'm not sad, I'm truly disappointed. This isn't the same Yankees team I came to grow and love. The team that always came through for their home crowd - no matter the odds. Apparently they buried that Yankee magic with the old stadium. I know they won a World Series last year, but with the money they spend to get the talent they have, they should win every year.

What disappoints me the most is the lack of "want" the Yanks have demonstrated. They don't seem like they want to win. The Rangers want to win. That's evident. But when TBS shows the Yankee dugout, it's a wash of sulking faces, wallowing in their own depression. No one is cheering the others on. No one is trying to pick anybody up. The ones that can't get a hit are consumed by that, and the ones that can get hits are consumed by the fact that no one else is coming through for them. Last year the Yanks were known for their resilience. I didn't see it as much this year, but they were still resilient. After all those comeback wins, the classic interview statement was that "With these guys, [they] never feel like [they're] out of a game." Yet every time they fall behind Texas, the "I'm-not-sure-we-can-overcome-this" faces come right back out. Texas has showed the resilience. They've had the answer to every Yankee rally.

We need to see that Yankee resilience right now. If they don't show it right off the bat in Game 5, there won't be a chance to show it until next April.

Whatever comes out of this season, one belief of mine will never change. The belief that Joe Girardi should be fired. Whether we lose Game 5, take it to Game 7, win the ALCS or, against all odds, win the World Series, my stance on this matter will not change.

Girardi is single-handedly doing whatever he can take make this road easier for Texas. And the fact of the matter is, he's been doing it since Day 1. The naysayers will say he helped lead us to a World Series championship last year, but the truth is, I could have led us to a World Series championship last year. Our line-up is a fantasy team. Our pitching rotation - the same. Oh, and we have Mariano Rivera in the bullpen.

For some reason, and I'll never know why, Girardi needs to over-manage. Maybe he wants to feel like he's contributing to the game, since he didn't as a player once Posada came to town - I really don't know. But it's a devastatingly huge issue. From the seventh inning on, a Yankee lead is never safe. And it's all because of Girardi's need to mix-and-match lefty-lefty and righty-righty match-ups. It drives me crazy.

Andy Pettitte, aside from one bad pitch, threw an absolute gem in Game 3. Exactly what we needed from him. Then we turned to Kerry Wood in the eighth (which made sense), who promptly retired the side. Wood was "dealing" on the mound. After the Yanks came up empty-handed in the bottom half of the inning, I braced for the foolish decision my friends and I knew Girardi would make. Josh Hamilton was due up, and he's a lefty. Kerry Wood is a righty. No matter the circumstance, something compels, I mean really compels Girardi to make pitching changes in these situations. Even though Hamilton was the only lefty due up in the next six batters, with Guerrero, Cruz, Kinsler (all righties) looming behind him, Girardi took the ball out of a dealing Wood and put it into the inexperienced hands of lefty Boone Logan. Now it's not like Boone Logan is a specialist by any means. Lefties around the league don't fear the guy. And it's not like Hamilton can't hit lefties. He batted .359 this year, he can hit anybody. But even with all these things considered, or I guess probably not considered in Girardi's case, the Yankee manager still went to Boone Logan, knowing full well this was the only batter he would face regardless of the outcome (Think about how quickly this strategy could exhaust your bullpen - but that's a story for another time).

So what happened? The inexperienced and probably petrified Logan, threw three straight balls to Hamilton, before eventually surrendering a double. After that, Girardi came back out of the dugout, took the ball from Logan and brought in Robertson. More inexperience!! Robertson surrendered hit after hit. Then came in Mitre. Six runs later, the Yanks are down 8-0 instead of 2-0, entering their last at-bats. Why would you ever take out Wood, who was dominating, so you could have Logan and Robertson pitch instead? It was such a disservice to Pettitte, who pitched such a great game, keeping the Yanks in it until the very end. All his work was meaningless, because of terrible coaching decisions that took away any chance the Yankees had to come back in the end. But at least Girardi got to learn from his mistakes right?


Flash forward to Game 4. When Burnett seems to be done - as evidenced by his near wild pitch on an intentional walk - Girardi leaves him in the game. What do you know? Burnett misses his first pitch location by two feet, and the result is a three-run, series-crippling home run. Burnett could have been a hero. Girardi might have even been a hero for starting him. But another ill-advised managerial move and the Yankees find themselves in trouble again. But it gets worse. Who did Girardi turn to when the game was 5-3 and still very winnable in Game 4? Chamberlain, Robertson, Logan and Mitre. The same guys that gave the Yanks no chance to win the game the night before, surrendering six runs in their short work, redeemed themselves by surrendering five runs in their short outing the next night. Really? The same guys that screwed up last night and didn't show a wink of ability to get the Rangers out, didn't get them out again? Shocking. By taking any hope of victory out of the Yankees hands, the bullpen and Girardi single-handedly psyched their own team out of that game. That's the point where we started to see those sulking faces. If it was close, you would have seen that chatter and players trying to pick each other up. Instead, it was silence in the dugouts, silence at the bat, and there was no chance to create that spark that would ignite the fire behind the Yankee bats for the rest of the series.

I forgot to mention. In Girardi's defense, Robertson was "dealing" last night on the mound. Two quick outs to start the seventh in dominate fashion. But then, Girardi ruined the only thing he did right with his bullpen this series. Why? Josh Hamilton was up. And that compelling feeling overcame him. He HAD to put a lefty in to face him. After all, no righty could ever get a lefty out (Side Note: A-Rod (a righty) is 0-12 against lefties this postseason. Girardi must think that's an actual miracle - as it goes against everything he believes in). So in came Boone Logan, the man Hamilton doubled off of the night before. The result? A towering home run for Hamilton. Good thing you went lefty-lefty again Joe. 2-2.

At least he probably learned his lesson again though right?

A compelling feeling tells me, no.

Images taken from

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