Really, the only satisfying part of this game was that Schill got roughed up.
There is no joy in Mudville, save that things did not get worse.
I mean, look at this team. Jeter, A-Rod, Posada are producing--really, playing their hearts out. Damon is at least trying. Matsui, who the hell knows. Menk is Menk: batting ninth and catching the damn thing when its hit or thrown to him, pretty much what came with his luggage.
Who the crap did we expect with Menk, the second coming of Chris Chambliss?
Cano, Abreu, Giambi: Good Lord, don't get me started.
I almost don't want to blame the bullpen--Torre has run them out so many times it hardly seems fair. Really, gang, we are down to two reliable starters: Wang and Pettitte and then forget it.
Well, and then the kids. I love DeSalvo. Anyone who thinks he's gonna win seven straight, circa Ron Guidry, '77? Hands?
As for the others.
I almost want to enroll in journalism school so I could get a job on the Kansas City Star, work my way up to baseball beat writer and into the Baseball Writers Association, all for the sole purpose of voting against Mike Mussina for the Hall of Fame when his name comes up in eight or so years.
I don't care if Mensa Mussina wins 300 games. I don't care that he provided my family one of the great thrills of our lives, Labor Day Weekend, 2001, on Sunday Night Baseball, retiring 26 red Sox in a row before Carl Everett singled to center to break up the perfect game--nine days, exactly, before the world went to hell.
What I'll remember is what happened six weeks later, when Mussina started Game One of the World Series against the Diamond Backs and was gone within two innings.
The sporting press rushed to his defense. The eight-day lay-off. The new ballpark. And I heard the same thing when he bombed in Japan, when he bombed after a rainout, when he bombed because the manager wanted to juggle the line-up.
ENOUGH. Ron Guidry thought enough of the pennant race in 1978 that, in late September, he voluntarily chopped a day off between starts, in part because the Yankee staff was in such tatters after so many injuries and late-season cliffhangers, and in part because Guidry could read a calendar, and knew that a three-day rest between starts would leave him perfectly suited to start a play-off game with the Red Sox . . . on, mind you, three days rest.
The play-off with Boston came to pass. And, on three days' rest (and with a little help from his buddy, the tortured Bucky Dent), Guidry pitched 7 2/3 innings for two runs and the win, in the greatest game ever played.
Mind you: this was no Lamarr Hoyt, one-shot deal. The following year, Guidry would go 18-8, this in part due to a 12-1 second half and an ERA championship, a good enough string to warrant a second Cy Young, except that 1) the Yankees finished in fourth place that year, and 2) Guidry had voluntarily sent himself to the bullpen in April, after closer Goose Gossage broke his thumb in a shower-room scuffle with back-up catcher Cliff Johnson. Guidry's sacrifice surely cost him a second twenty-win season.
(A digression here. I find myself writing about teams that, unlike the late 90's Yankees, never reached their full potential. The 1979 Yankees had solid starting pitching (supplemented by free agents Tommy John and Louis Tiant), a core infield of Chambliss, Randolph, Dent and Nettles; and, if anything, too many front-line outfielders: Reggie, Mickey, Roy White, Sweet Lou, and a bunch of kids. During the regular season, the outfielders were interchangeable. In the infield, Jim Spencer could fill in for Chambliss; Brian Doyle and Chicken Stanley could play shortstop or second. Nettles--who for my money belongs in the Hall, if Santo does--would be hard to replace, but the only truly indispensible Yankees were Guidry, Goose, and catcher Thurman Munson. Cliff Johnson's scuffle with Gossage had sealed his fate. Reggie Jackson, he of the pithy quote, said, "If you f*** with the G-Men (ie Guidry and Gossage) the big guy with the boats (ie the Boss) will seal your fate." Johnson was traded to Toronto. The Boss would have wished Siberia, but was told there was no club there recognized by the American League. And then Munson died in a plane crash.)
Look, I've seen interviews. I've seen players. I know the oh-crap-we're-facing-Guidry face. Guidry had his down years in his '77-'85 prime--1982 was a lost year, 1984 wasn't good for anyone--but he pitched enough in the others to be the bull who ended losing streaks, the stopper with the exploding slider.
They feared Gator.
Which is why Gator belongs in the Hall a thousand times before Mussina.