Monday, October 20, 2008

A word

When the emails inquiring if I was all right, given my recent silence, reached double digits, I figured it was time to first, say thanks.

I'm giving this sucker a break for a bit, to concentrate on a few things interesting, at the moment, only to me. The Yankees September meltdown was easy enough to take; Jeter and the guys have provided thrills enough the past dozen years. I'm fine, thanks for asking.

As for the election--well, at the momnent I prefer to pass. Joe the Teacher has nothing to contribute at this time. If I have anything to contribute, Profesor Kingsfield, I shall raise my hand.

Be good, my friends.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Royals 4, Yankees 3

Rivera. Another tie game.

It is here that I depart for a week; I trust Sun Devil Joe, Robby Boy, Jimmy, O'Nan Imus, GSB and all the rest to hold down the fort.

Let's go, Yankees, indeed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Twins 4, Yankees 2

Game happened right under my radar.

Yankees 9, Twins 6

Saw it via the scoreboard at Minute Maid (and has anyone noticed the Astros lately?).

Not the sort of game the guys have been winning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Twins 4. Yankees 0

I smell a big slide coming. When Ponson gets elevated from "at least he'll eat innings" to "okay, we have to win if he keeps us in it," to "Ponson: Oh, God, we have to win this one 'cause look at who else we have," there is trouble.

This comes at a time when Boston has just lost the greatest Yankee killer since ever, when Tampa's best two players jus when on the DL, when neither Minnesota nor Chicago nor Texas are anything special.

Four games out of the Wild Card. But they'd better start hitting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Angels 4, Yankees 3

Pettitte pitched fine, save one inning, against the Angels' meat grind of an order.

The larger question is: Just what is it with Rivera and ties this year?

As a consolation, I sat down to watch the Olympics: specifically, the Men's 4 X 100 freestyle relay.

Reader Desert Rose had informed me of her all-Olympic boycott, and I was already following suit, but was drawn back by my favorite sports, those involving either a race or a ball--meaning swimming, track and basketball. Thus I was able to see The Greatest Swim Relay Ever--or, as those over 40 will remember, the greatest swim relay since the 1976 Women's 4 X 100 free, when Shirley Babashoff and Co. upset Kornelia Ender's East German 'roid monsters for the only US women's swimming gold in Montreal. In those days, the freestyle relays were (as they are in most swim meets) the final events of the competition. The race result was so stunning--Ender and friends had dominated the distaff side in the pool to that point, winning 11 out of 12 gold, most of them in laughably easy fashion--that the East Germans actually filed a protest, claiming that Babashoff, swimming the anchor, had dove off the podium early. Babashoff, who had swum internationally since her early teens, who had spotted the East German cheating for what it was, who had called them on it, and who had then endured terrible press calling her a poor sport as she collected one silver after another, could finally smile. "Her fingernail touched and my toenail touched," she said with a laugh, gold medal around her shoulders, when asked if she had left early.

I would place last night's race just behind that one. But what a race.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Angels 11, Yankees 4

We may be agt the tipping point, people: Wang and Posada are gone; Matsui probably so; now Joba, maybe. And Pettitte soon to follow.

Don't blame Girardi.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yankees 3, Rangers 0

Moose to the rescue, with his fifteenth win. Lesse, with Joba on the DL, Pettitte due to miss a start, Kennedy up for try number three, Rasner headed toward oblivion, Hughes god-knows-where on the way to recovery and Washburn still in Seattle, the Yankee staff has come down to this:

Ponson and Moose and pray to Zeus.

Yankees 5, Rangers 3

I skipped Tuesday's game--you know, when you just know your guys are going to come out flat and lose it, and you turn to the game every hour or so just for confirmation?

And Sexson's grand slam you know--you know--will only make things closer?

Anyway, nice to salvage one game, the most important of which is Ponson's semi-permanent place in the rotation, especially with Joba on the DL.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Eduardo

Hundering down in Houston, where right now, the hurricane's "clean side" in delivering mostly rain.

A move to the West, however, could be perilous.

Ranger 9, Yankees 5

As has been written:

You have to win a game you tie in the late innings.

Tampa, Boston, New York, Chicago, Minnesota . . . and Texas.

Six teams competing for three spots.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Yankkees 14, Angels 9

Okay, catch our breath first.

Yankees 8, Angels 2

Funny thing about Moose: every bad start he has (and they will happen; Guidry had a few in 1978), everyone wants to know: is Moose through?

Saw only the first five innings before obligations intervened and thought, as I exited at 4-2, Hey, he's got this under control.

And so he did.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Angels 1, Yankees 0

. . . And so, as I was watching the Astros' defeat of th Mets at Minute Maid, the yellow "1" came up on the scoreboard. The Angels, one run in the ninth.

Replaced by a white "1."

Then K-Rod. Ball game.

What is it with Rivera and ties?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Angels 12, Yankees 6

But the big news, of course, is all those trades. And the happiest team in baseball yesterday was the Yankees, ridding themselves once and for all of maybe their No.1 nemesis ever--more than Greenberg, Williams, Feller, Yaz, Palmer, Clemens 1.0, or Pedro.

Manny and his .450-vs.-the-Yankees batting average, Manny with all his home runs to the Mass Turnpike or the left field stands at the Stadium, Manny in the on-deck circle with men on, forcing some overmatched Yankee righty to pitch to Papi . . .

. . . Manny who, in the seventh and eighth, in the yawning gap between a starter and Mo, leaving you with the one hope that maybe he'd hit it at somebody . . .

. . . Many, who, for all his childish antics, for his time spent kicking it inside the Monster, for the ball he once cut off from center field while playing left field, for all the times he seemed to be playing the field on roller skates, always saved his best for the Yankees, even in the field.

Gone. Gone, gone.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yankees 13, Orioles 3; Pudge in pinstripes

Joba stops the bleeding--this may be an ongoing theme--and the Yanks get a Hall-of-Famer to play this year's version of Johnny Mize and Enos Slaughter.

Welcome to Avis Rent-a-Star.

By all accounts, Jorge Posada--who has taken his rightful place with Dickey, Berra, Howard and Munson in the Yankee backstop pantheon--will be behind the plate for the unveiling of the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day, 2009.

For now, though, as Joel Sherman tells us, this deal makes all kinds of sense.

Now: Manny goes to Florida, Washburn comes to the Yankees--and we are staring at a Yankee/Angel showdown in October.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Orioles 7, Yankees 6

"I stood in the courtroom like a fool! And those two bastards smiled at me!"

--Bonasera, The Godfather

Just like I stood behind the first-deck seats at Minute Maid Park, watching that ninth-inning yellow 3 (signifying a half-inning still in progress), the one that brought the Yankees to within one, 7-6.

Watching, watching, watching . . . five, ten minutes.

Then all the inning-by-inning numbers came down, signifying the game was over.

what is the Yankees' problem with the Orioles, anyway?

Paging Washburn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Orioles 13, Yankees 4

Does every double-digit run surrender drive up Jarrod Washburn's price tag?

The one thing the Yankees never run out of is money. Just as they were able to do with the Phillies re Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle in 2005 (though the dollar figures were different), the Yanks are basically offering nothing in return for taking 13 mil off the Mariners' books in the form of Washburn--who, presumably, would slide in as the number four starter behind Moose, Joba, and Pettitte.

The Mariners, of course, asked for a blue-chip prospect, one of the four or five the Yankees refused to spend on Nady and Marte: outfielder Austin Jackson or one of the three prime pitchers poised to follow Joba, Kennedy and Hughes through the chute. After the Yankees laughed at that one, the Mariners when one tier below, someone in Tabata's range.

The Yanks, so far, have said no, and are ready to demand the Mariners to take a flier on one or two longshots.

So, 48 hours before the trade deadline, is where we sit.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yankee Links

Okay, we get it. The Yankees stole Nady and Marte, and Tabata is a bum. We get it. This is no longer the franchise that traded Fred McGriff for Dale Murray, Doug Drabek for a washed-up Rick Rhoden, Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps, Willie McGee for God-knows-who.

We are back to the glory days of Gabe Paul getting us Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa for Bobby Bonds, Willie Randolph for Ken Brett, Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater, Bucky Dent for Oscar Gamble, Graig Nettles for God-knows-who. Or the days of Gene Michaels and Joe Watson trading for Paul O'Neill, Wade Boggs, David Cone, Tino Martinez, John Wetteland, Joe Girardi, and Cecil Fielder--all while having the foresight to hang on to Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

Understand: we get it.

Jay Sherman has made his point. Three times now. So we don't need to hear any more until after the season, right?

When Mike Lupica is on, there are few Sunday morning delights to rival his "Shooting from the Lip" (I would list only George Will's column, Roger Ebert's alternating Great Movies/Movie Answer Man, Howie Carr in the Boston Herald, and Mark Steyn, though lately the Orange County Register has been slipping Steyn (currently on vacation) into cyberspace on Saturday afternoons.)

But when Lupica misses, when he ranges into matters he knows nothing about (college football) or into Bush Derangement territory . . . the result is as if a ten-car pileup had given birth to a large steaming turd.

As evidence, I submit today's column, in which Lupica sets the land-speed record for putting one's head up one's ass.

Start with the headline: "Clearing Clemens is Bush league move by President."

"Clearing," as in a pardon.

Q: So President Bush is pardoning Roger Clemens?

A: No.

So he's considering pardoning Roger Clemens?

No.

So Clemens has asked at least asked for a pardon?

No.

So President Bush might, some time next January, pardon Roger Clemens?

Sure he might.

Says who?

Brian McNamee's lawyer.

Oh. So he's heard President Bush will pardon Clemens?

No.

So he's heard Bush might pardon Clemens?

No.

So what has Bush or any of his people said about Clemens?

Nothing.

So what makes McNamee's lawyer make this allegation?

Marion Jones.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. So Bush is going to pardon Marion Jones?

No.

So he said he might?

No.

He at least said he's considering it? You know, like, "All options are on the table"?

No.

Okay. What evidence is there that Marion Jones is getting a pardon?

She asked for one.

Who can ask for a pardon?

Anyone. You or I could.

So, based upon the fact that Marion Jones asked for a pardon, with no indication that she's getting one; and further, that Roger Clemens didn't ask for a pardon, with no indication that he will even ask for one; and that, like Marion Jones, there's no indication at all that he'd get one if he did ask for one--based upon this, we get a Mike Lupica column speculating that President Bush might pardon Roger Clemens.

Sure.


It is clear that Lupica thinks he has Bush dead to rights on these words, from Bush's State of the Union Address:

"Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message - that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now."


And, don't you see, pardoning Clemens would make Bush a hypocrite.

And you know what? I agree.

But nothing at all has indicated Bush might do so.

Even those who scream "Scooter Libby!" need to calm down. Viewed in the most cynical light (which I reject, but let's go ahead) Bush's commutation (not pardon) of Libby was a giant act of ass-covering.

That's the most cynical reading. And there's not even that this time, since Clemens never played for Bush's Rangers.

Until such time, Lupica is guilty of a McGlaughlin prediction at best. You know, those predictions at the end of "The McGlaughlin Group," where it pays to either predict the same thing over and over and assume the odds are with you (like Lawrence O'Donnell, who predicted Bad Things For The Republicans for six straight years and was wrong every time, right up until the 2006 midterms, after which he proclaimed, "I'm here to gloat!"); or else (as with Lupica) predict something outlandish and at least six months down the line. If you're wrong, nobody remembers. If you're right, you get to say, "I'm here to gloat!"

What Lupica submitted to his editor isn't journalism, it isn't writing, it isn't even thought. It's picking your mother's birthday every day in the lotto, and hoping it pays off.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yankees 10, Red Sox 3

Eight in a row, and a win of the series--especially important, with Lester going for Boston tomorrow.

After the Yankees' bats came untracked, the game came down to a single at-bat.

Two on, one out, 7-3 Yankees. Papi up.

For all the good Yankee work, suddenly Manny, on deck, becomes the potential tying run.

All that is left for Girardi to do is pull the lever marked MARTE.

New kid Marte comes in, strikes out Papi on four pitches.

Just like they drew it up in practice--this time, anyway.

Good while it lasted, and by that I mean: next week, I know as I sit here, I'll be treated to Brewers-Braves while 60% of the country is treated to Yankees-Angels.

Lovely.

Yankee Links

Joba to the rotation: Can we all now admit that Boss Hank was right and we were wrong?

Take it from me, someone who, living in Houston, saw Xavier Nady 17 times a year: the guy can play. Marte I know less about, but it's always cool when one team gets one player with one particular opposing player in mind. In 1983, the Celtics went out and got Dennis Johnson specifically because nobody they had could stop the Sixers' Andrew Toney. What has mostly killed the Yankees the past four years (save that one lovely week back in August, 2005) has been the inability of anyone in the pen save Mo Rivera to get out David Ortiz. Is Marte the answer? You never know with relievers in the Bronx (Jay Witasik, Mike Myers, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Wohlers--conversely, Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson, David Weathers, Mike Stanton).

Mike Vaccaro of the Post sums up Friday night the best:

BOSTON - There was only one way for this beauty of a baseball game to end, of course. The tying run had to be on base. There had to be two outs in the ninth inning, with the MVP of the All-Star Game digging in to face the greatest closer in the history of the sport.

Some nights demand the full regal treatment. Those nights also deserve an appropriate conclusion. And so it was that Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera zipped a 95-mph cutter toward the outside corner, and J.D. Drew stood and stared at it, and home plate umpire Marty Foster lifted his right arm and tied it all up in a bow.

YankeesNew York Yankees 1, Red Sox 0.

"That," Joe Girardi said after he'd breathed his final sigh of relief, "was one whale of a game, wasn't it?"


Joel Sherman, puts the trade bluntly:Pittsburgh received four prospects, but the pirates were the Yankees.

If all goes well, count on Nady starting against Jon Lester Sunday night.

Had enough heat? Today, Pettitte's cutters v. Wakefield's slop, and my local Fox affiliate promises, promises me the game will (gasp) actually be televised in Houston.

See, out here in Friday Night Lights country, where baseball is a nice diversion between spring football and football, it's a rumor to us that there are any baseball teams in existence beyond the Astros, Cubs, Cardinals and Braves. Or so Fox would have us believe.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yankees 1, Red Sox 0

Well, whew.

Joba, taking nine strides forward; the rested bullpen coming through.

But admit it:

You thought the game was lost when Coco Crisp, the out the Yankees badly wanted, scampered past Farnsworth for a fifty-foot, eighth-inning infield hit to make it first and second, one out, with the top of the order, and hence two scooters named Ellsbury and Pedroia, due up.

Well, time to summon Mo. Five-out save? Damn right.

(And yeah, that was ball three to Lowell. Oh well.)

As for the trade: the Yanks have needed some right-hand pop for awhile. And . . . the Yankees' inability to win the World Series in 2004 was due, more than any other factor, to their ability to get out Papi in the late innings. Marte should help.

Blah blah, physicals. Get these guys suited up.

Another county heard from

Robby-Boy, from Phoenix:

I have enjoyed this little streak. I just hope some of this momentum carries into the big weekend series versus Boston.


Fair enough. And then:

Ryan (his elder son, and my godson) and I are preparing for our NY trip. We will be at the Stadium for the Tuesday games against Baltimore and the Thursday game against LAA.


Nice, very nice. I hate you both.

Yankee Links

Lupica on this weekend's showdown.

Catch the photo of Papelbon, um, frightened for himself and his wife during the Sixth Avenue parade last week.

All of sudden it's Page Six news when A-Rod doesn't get laid.

Twenty years ago, I was a grad student in Binghamton, New York. I spent the summer between the two school years of my Master's program working double shifts as a security guard at Binghamton General Hospital, making enough for gas money on the weekends to explore Upstate (Cooperstown, Oneonta) and parts of New England (Massachusetts, Vermont). Accompanying me in my car all the way were the dulcet tones of Hank Greenwald and Tommy Hutton, the Yankee announcers and a pair of pros, nearly the equal of Ernie Harwell or (gasp) St. Scully.

They were both fired after the 1988 season--in, it was rumored, a fit of Steinbrenner pique. Replacing them was John Sterling.

The first month of the 1989 season, Sterling twice said as follows, "It is high . . . it is long . . . it is gone! . . . uh, no it isn't!", thus having violated the cardinal rule of broadcasting, "Never say 'It's out of there' until it's out of there (a cardinal rule voiced, ironically, by ex-Cardinal Tim McCarver), Sterling spent the rest of both broadcasts and then a large portion of the following nights' pre-game shows talking about the "strange winds" at wherever the Yankees happened to be playing. No, it happened. I was listening.

I now get my Yankee broadcasts courtesy of YES's dependable Michael Kay and his rotating, and above-average, stable of analysts: David Cone, Al Leiter, Ken Singleton, John Flaherty. But apparently, according to the Post's Phil Mushnick, Sterling hasn't changed a bit.

Tonite: Joba v. Beckett. Please not to stink, guys.

Hate Mail? (Part 2)

My other corrector, Jimmy, responds to me as follows:

Yes, more that one scientist. According to those hippys at the American Meteorlogical Society ("The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus" http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf) slightly under 10% of scientists writing about the issue in the 1970's predicted global cooling. Climate science has come along way since then, but most scientists, even then, predicted global warming. Now there is firm scientific consensus.

You say you wish "our side" would stop cherry picking anomolies. I wish "your side" would stop misrepresenting scientific consensus. The World Meteorological Organization[ http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0703-05.htm] and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency[http://yosemite.epa.gov/OAR/globalwarming.nsf/webprintview/ActionsIndustryInsurance.html] have linked increasing extreme weather events to global warming. That last link discusses the insurance industry revising its policies to protect themselves against the new weather patterns. Over 90% of scientists and scientific organizations agree about the basic science and its general implications. These scientists are extremely worried.

You misrepresent the IPCC report. In its last report, 2007, it found that "World temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 °C (2.0 and 11.5 °F) during the 21st century (table 3) and that:
Sea levels will probably rise by 18 to 59 cm (7.08 to 23.22 in) [table 3]." It also links global warming to a change in weather patterns.

What scares me?: scientific consensus that we will experience a wide array of apocalyptic events (mass extinctions, agricultural disasters, and increases in the range of disease vectors, to name a few) if we don't do something. Mass human death.

You don't like Hansen, fine. He is not a radical, and I agree that he is not the final word. Pick your poison. What do you think is a rational carbon level, as measured by PPM? How should we reach and sustain that level?


Me: I still don't buy it. In the last century, starting with Woodrow Wilson (who jailed people who vocally opposed World War I in their own homes), we've seen too many menaces requiring massive government intervention now, now, now! in the way we live our private lives. And this stuff has got the whiff of all that. If I'm wrong, the world won't be the poorer by it; I've only one vote, and I'm going to use it on a guy who unfortunately buys into all of this, McCain. But I don't think I'm wrong.

Having said that, Jimmy is serious about all this, and he's done me the courtesy of supplying a few links. So I'll shut up about all this until I read them over the weekend. Right now--unless the Charles River rises and floods the Back Bay--I've the Yankees and Red Sox to worry about. Happy sailing.

Hate mail?

No, I love it. (An old Houston Press joke.)

The saying is, the easiest job in the world should be head coach of the Notre Dame football team, since in what other job do you have ten million people telling you precisely what you're doing wrong?

On the topic of the climate, I am twice blessed with such help. The first, someone called O'Nan Amos (which I must assume is a pseudonym), who we join in full flight (he--or she--is in italics:

There is a difference between renegade theories like global cooling (picked up by the media because it was sexy and scary) and peer-reviewed, scientific consensus based on years of data collection and mathematical modeling.

Right. Like "the population bomb" was sexy and scary. Like "DDT will kill millions" wasn't sexy and scary. (DDT actually did kill millions--by its absence, when millions contracted malaria.) Like "nuclear power equals the China Syndrome" was sexy and scary. Like "Everyone's getting AIDS" was sexy and scary.

Global warming not "sexy and scary"? Have they been handing out Oscars to movies dealing with dehydration in Africa brought about by kids crapping their innards out due to unclean water? Has Leonardo DiCaprio been speaking on the topic? Madonna singing?

Right now "global warming"--with its blame for oil companies and fat suburbanites with their SUVs and roaring air conditioners--is the sexiest (and scariest) issue on the planet, especially for liberals. I mean, a worldwide crisis that just happens to justify massive government intervention in our lives, our cars, what we put in our cars, the shape of our toilets, our light bulbs. The New York Times has already come out for regulations on political speech, gun ownership, and (thanks to Kelso) the limited extent to which our private property is actually ours. Why not every other aspect of our lives?

It's like the "face" on Mars. There are cool photographs and one guy who claimed to represent NASA but was actually a discredited former consultant, and all of a sudden people think that aliens must have built a face on Mars. That's not science, and neither is using your own anecdotal evidence to "refute" global warming.

Well, I never believed in the "face" on Mars. (It was never peer-reviewed like, say, the Man in the Moon.) But consider these reports from the mid-seventies, which reflected much more than the work of "one guy":

Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976): "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation."

Science Digest (February 1973): "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age."

Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975): "Meteorologists are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling.

New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975): Global cooling "may mark the return to another ice age."

The New York Times (May 21, 1975): "A major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable. . . . (It is) well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."

What "bill of particulars" are you looking for?

Lots, but to start with: what, precisely, would have to happen in the climate for you to believe that this scare is overstated?

Weather examples like Katrina are not the only evidence.

Granted! My only wish is that your side would stop using every example of hot, warm, wet, cold, and average as proof of your conclusions.

There are rigorous scientific studies--the IPCC reports alone are over 800 pages long.

And the IPCC predicts an increase of one degrees Farenheit by the end of the century, and two inches of ocean rise. Number one, both those conclusions amount to rounding errors, and two, even if they were true, I'd take them both and walk away.

Is your real problem here with scientists and not liberals?

My problem is when either group behaves like the other.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yankee Links

Moose for Bomber MVP?

News's Madden: Posada, done catching in any case, should shut it down and shoot for Opening Day '09

Newsday's Wallace Matthews concurs.

Not really about the Yankees, but go to Deadspin tocheck out this year's USC Song Girls.

I knew a Song Girl when I was at 'SC, and by I "knew" her, I mean, heh heh . . . well, I mean she dated my roommate. Loved foreign films. An education major, she volunteered twice a week at a ghetto school, brought us take-out and, when our kitchen became a Cheops of dirty dishes and flies who feasting on the aromas, took pity on us and volunteered for KP.

And, yes: as the author says, August 30th (at Virginia) can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Like finding a spare twenty in your pocket

Flipping around after Brit Hume and . . .

The Apartment, with Jack Lemmon, Shirley McClaine, and Fred MacMurray.

We all, I think, imagine ourselves as CC Baxter, covering up for the rats around us, then finally taking a stand and rewarded with a Miss Kubilik for our efforts.

"I guess that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise . . . I'd spell it out for you, but I can't spell."

And:

"I love you, Miss Kubilik . . . Did you hear me, Miss Kubilik? I absolutely adore you."

"Shut up and deal."

Yankees 5, Twins 1

Moose goes to 13 wins, and pitching better than he has in five years.

Given that he now has a fastball in the upper-80's, and given the almost magical location and movement of his curve, knuckle-curve, and change, will Moose now become the late 00's version of the late-70s/early 80's Tommy John, whose sinker ate up ground balls in the thick Dodger/Yankee Stadia grass, and who seemed at times to be handing the ball to the catcher?

For all Moose's dominance today (or, one should say, in the shadow of Moose's dominance), the game came down to two batters.

The situation: Bottom fifth, one out. Cano on second, Melky on first. Molina hits a room-service two-hop DP grounder to Twin shortstop Nick Punto. Punto field the ball smartly and throws to second baseman Alexi Casilla--who, about six feet out of DP position--takes the throw in stride, touches second base for the second out, and starts off the field . . . thus allowing Molina, racing up the line as he can (but about as slow as a beer truck in reverse) to be safe at first.

Whoops.

Perkins, the Twins pitcher, visibly explodes at Casilla, angrily holding up one finger, shouting "One out! One out!" A veteran pitcher (a Mussina?) might have worked around such a blunder. Perkins instead, with steam coming out of his ears, gives up a double to left to light-hitting Justin Christian. Cano scores easily; third-base coach Bobby Meachem, looking suddenly like a gambler who'd hit on 16 ten times in a row, sends Molina, legs pumping . . . and . . . safe.

2-0. With Mussina cruising. You could hear it in Kay's and Leiter's voices: probably, the game was over.

Soon, it was over for real.

Now: A day off. Then the Red Sox.

Yankee Links

(Surgery for Posada?

Trade Rumors: Jason Bay? Xavier Nady? Jarrod Washburn? A.J. Burnett? And P.S., Phil Hughes is still untouchable.

Guitar Hero

Is there anything not to like about Joba Chamberlain?

Including that he makes Hank Steinbrenner look smart?

(And thank God for whatever Girardi did to give confidence to his former Cub batterymate, Kardiac Kyle. In the end, finding people to get people out in the seventh and eighth may have been the most important factor in justifying Joba's move to the rotation.)

Hello, Dolly

Courtesy Brendan Loy, aka The Irish Trojan, who doubles as The Weather Nerd, some pictures of Hurricane Dolly, which thankfully (well, for Astro-Girl and me, and for Jimmy and family, a half-hour closer to the gulf from us) will touch down a few hundred miles from here. We're getting the "dirty side" of its most outward edge right outside our window, which would mean a frightful rainstorm for anyone not living in a coastal state. Our satellite is down, our power is flickering.

End result? The teachers will show up today, but not the students.

Funny. I grew up in Phoenix, which provided us with about fifteen days of rain per year: always, always, a three-day torrent in March, the heavy monsoons in late summer, one or two days right after New Year's, and a half-dozen showers spread out over the remaining 350 days. Now, living in Houston, who knows? I've gone to outdoor parties where the rain has fallen in the front yard but not the back. I've jogged down West Alabama bone dry and seen a rainstorm a block away, as if behind a glass shower door. I've gotten soaked right down to my socks while squinting at the sun. I've seen school closures that resulted in everyone going out to the pool and getting a tan.

Chicago--"If you don't like the wseather, just wait five minutes"--has nothing on Houston.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Conservation for thee, not for me

Al Gore exits a climate change speech to a long-idling limo.

When those who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis, I'll believe it's a crisis.

Oh, Gore's latest proof of global war-- oh, sorry, "climate change": both droughts in California and floods in the Midwest.

Warm means warming, cold means warming, wet means warming, dry means warming.

Yankees 8, Twins 2

Five in a row!

Three point five games out of the playoffs.

Abreu, Damon, Jeter, Cano, Giambi--all in the middle of rallies.

Back to the top of the rotation.

Epic bad news for McCain

For McCain, the election has come down to two things: his presumed stature as Commander-in-Chief, and his foresight on the surge.

Really, that's it. He could cut into Obama's presumed advantage on domestic issues by talking about tax cuts here, domestic drilling there, but you don't make up a lead by trading baskets with the other side.

Now, as Byron York reports, in one fell swoop, Obama, abetted by Maliki, delivers a body blow to both McCain's advantages.

No matter what McCain's people write about translations or misunderstandings or what have you, the American press is going to repeat "Maliki agrees with Obama's 16-month pullout" about seventy billion times between now and election day.

GOPers should know: this is bad, bad news for McCain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sheesh

You wanna love A-Rod.

Really, you do.

And then he goes and mispronounces the staff ace, "Wang," to rhyme with "Bang."

I mean, he's only been A-Rod's teammate for three years and stuff.

Yankees 12, Twins 4

This was a game that--barring catastrophe--was over in the second inning, and precisely (again, again) the way the Yankees have to win.

Picture this: Yanks up, one out, 2-2. Then: single, single, single, run-scoring error, RBI single, RBI fielder's choice, RBI single.

Bingo: 6-2, with (thanks to Pettitte's eight innings on Sunday) a fresh--and suddenly effective--bullpen ready to come in at the first sign of trouble.

Speaking of which: whatever Girardi is giving that bullpen, pour me a double. It has been a constant source of amazement that a team with ten more dollars than God has been unable since, oh, 2000 to string together more than two relievers to bridge the chasm between the starters and Rivera.

As for the offense. Matsui is probably gone for the season. Posada is on the DL, not even (at this point) to DH, and who knows if he'll be able to catch when he comes back? Sexson is an emergency stopgap a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement at best. Betiment--no.

Which means? Cano needs to stay hot. Jeter (and maybe we saw the start tonight) needs to get hot in the 2-hole. Giambi needs his one or two home runs per week. Damon needs to stay well.

A-Rod needs to stay, well, A-Rod--and it may not hurt that, for now, the media seems to have moved on.

Molina doesn't have to get three hits every night, but would .230 kill him?

There was an article in today's NY Post (damn my invisible address bar) that compared this team to 1996's scratch-and-claw team. To which one might respond:

1. I wish!
2. With the trade deadline next week, to paraphrase Rick Pitino: Cecil Fielder isn't walking through that door. Neither, I think, is Graeme Lloyd. Or David Weathers.

As for scratching and clawing, we'll see.

Rasner tomorrow.
Then Moose.

Then, Boston, with Pettitte, Joba, Ponson.

Oh, to SunDevil Joe, Robbie-Boy, Jimmy, GSB, Chumley Felix, Golf Pal, Irish Trojan and of course Astro-Girl (among others), thanks for hanging around for my thousandth post.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Yankees 2, A's 1

Another Minute Maid scoreboard-watching experience.

Scoring at home? Moose and Pettitte, almost winter afterthoughts in the rush to make way for Hughes and Kennedy, have combined for 23 wins.

Yankees 4, A's 3

Yet another telecast held hostage by the FOX embargo (making it, by my count, about 270 this season). I followed most of it on ESPN's telecast.

Okay, a strong game by Moose and a close one, with a good-if-not-great pitching performance by Joba. A ninth-inning comeback followed by strong pitching by the lesser elements in the bullpen. And Jose Molina's Sacrifice Thigh (shades of Reggie Jackson, 1978 World Series). So, okay.

The one concern here is Rivera, who has got to start holding ties when Girardi asks him to. He did it for the whole American League, he can do it for the Yankees

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yankees 7, A's 1

And so . . . with Wang out for the season, Matsui probably so, Damon on the mend, Rasner a bust . . .

With all this, we get a clue in this game of who, among others, the Yankees will need to rely on:

Moose, A-Rod, Cano

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1

Aaand the break comes none too quickly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yankees 9, Jays 4

Another victim of the Fox embargo. But a good win.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Yankees 2, Rays 1 (10)

And . . . we have a race.

Significantly:

1. Ponson has pitched as well as Wang could have, just not as many innings per game. But so what?

2. Good to see more dominant work from Mo in a tie.

3. Anyone catch Girardi's 'stache after the game? This "fans vote for the last All Star" ritual has become the best tweak of the entire All Star enterprise.

4. Abreu: waking up?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Yankees 5, Rays 0

Eight shutout innings from Pettitte; two terrific catches by Melky in center, then a home run in the eighth to basically put the game out of reach.

A fantastic play by Derek Jeter in the seventh. Two out, runners on first and third, hard shot between short and third. Jeter sprints into left field, leaps in the air, throws the ball to Cano at second while falling in the general direction of the left-field foul pole. Nice.

Not a great game, just a perfect one.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Yankees 5, Bosox 4 (10)

Oh, what a lovely game.

Movies on Holiday

Oh. My. God.

I saw Casablanca straight through.

Then Witness for the Prosecution.

Some of those movies that rouse you to your feet.

Life is good.

Update: SunDevil Joe wonders: why not The Apartment?

Yeah, I saw that, too.

What a way to spend a Sunday.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Yankees 2, Red Sox 1

Nice to have one of the great games of the year and force me to miss it.

Thank you, Fox. I think I'll now go out and vote for Obama, you jerks.

Understand: in Houston, a Cub-Cardinal game is the equivalent of the Iran-Iraq War: it's a shame they (the Astros' two arch-enemies) can't both lose. But in a network mindset in which Phoenix is a suburb of Los Angeles (SunDevil Joe, Robby-Boy: how many 10-7 Ram shoveathons, courtesy of those brutal Chuck Knox teams, did we stand witness to all during the 1970s?), Houston is a City of Central Division Interest. Never mind the whole city went bananas this season for the visiting Yankees and Red Sox, and turned Space City into a crazed baseball town for the first time since the 2005 World Series. No: apparently Houston is a suburb of Chicago, and God forbid we miss even one Cubs' game, ever.

As for the Yankees:

So we have Mike Mussina, pitching his ass off and joining Chipper Jones in this season's late-career Hall-of-Fame push. (For what it's worth, I think they'll both make it. Last year, I would have said: not so much.) Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray, Nolan Ryan, Dennis Eckersley, Robin Yount, Craig Biggio . . . now Chipper and Moose. Come on down, you late bloomers!

Red Sox 6, Yankees 4

And the best part about this game was that I was celebrating the fourth with my in-laws in Spring, playing Wii with my niece and nephew.

I'm getting pretty good at golf.

Today, of course, they're on FOX, but at the same time as the notoriously underexposed Cobs. Guess which game I'm getting in Houston?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Red Sox 7, Yankees 0

The good news is, I got to see a movie I love, Almost Famous.

Yankees 18, Rangers 7

Out of nowhere, Giambi is/should be an All-Star.

And A-Rod is at that point, where--last night, in the eighth--I turned to Astro-Girl and said, "Watch, it's going out." And so it did, with A-Rod's bat meeting the ball low and away and sending it to right, Jeter style.

So the bats--maybe--wake up. Though it's important to remember Earl Weaver's maxim: "You take momentum, I'll take Jim Palmer."

And here come the Red Sox.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rangers 3, Yankees 2

Didn't have to see third-in-a-row; I was at Minute Maid. Good.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rangers 2, Yankees 1

Moose goes on. But how about some runs?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mets 3, Yankees 1

Back in the day, Pirate Oliver Perez would start three games a year against the Astros, beating them every time and leading to the question, Who the hell can hit that slop?

Well, in the intervening years he's found a fastball. And the mystery continues.

God bless the 'Stros for taking two of three from the Yankees.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yankees 3, Mets 2

All of a sudden . . . a battle of staff aces?

Last November, did anyone think Pettitte would have that status with the Yanks? Or Santana with the Mets?

All of a sudden, Pettitte is channeling 1998.

And they'll need him.

What was nearly an afterthought in the off-season ("Oh, cool, Lefty's coming back") is now a necessity: Holy crap, Pettitte better keep it up.

So: Pettitte, Moose, Joba are your core starters. And: is Ponson this season's Sean Chacon/Cory Lidle? Can you do it again and again, big boy? You're here to eat 100 innings between now and Harvest Moon, keep us in games, eke out a half-dozen more wins.

Can't wait for tomorrow.

And? And? Rasner?

Yanks, Mets split

Advantage, Yanks, with off-the-heap Sidney Ponson throwing six shutout innings.

But sheesh, a wasted start from Moose, 15 runs surrendered to Team Turmoil, and now . . . again . . . today, a game surrendered to the Fox cartel.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Obama's latest reversal (not that you'd notice)

I remember President-elect Bill Clinton appearing via videotape to celebrate Arsenio Hall's thousandth broadcast. This was either late 1992 or early 1993, and Clinton (who had appeared a year ealier to play his sax) made a passing reference to poring over "those big, heavy, depressing budget books." I instantly thought one thing: Well, goodbye middle-class tax cut. With those six words, Clinton had laid the groundwork for going back on one of his most oft-repeated campaign promises. A month later, when he delivered his budget address, and specifically ruled out a tax cut for anyone (though with his usual soupcon of self-pity), I think I was the least suprised person in America.

What surprised me was this: Clinton paid no political price for what he did. The New York Times, which hates tax cuts as much as it hates Rush Limbaugh, praised him for making the "tough decisions." And the republic went on.

So now we come to Obama. On Wright, on public financing, on Iraq, on meeting with dictators, on NAFTA, on gun ownership, on town hall debates, on the death penalty for rapists, there is not even the pretense of an evolution or maturing different "facts on the ground" or whatever you want to call it. Obama simply says today the opposite of what he said yesterday, and counts on a willful press to cover for him. A few months ago, on his website, he, in no uncertain terms, came out in support of the D.C. gun ban. Last week, he came out in support of the Supremem Court decision overturning the gun ban, and had the previous comment scrubbed. Bam. Done. Over.

Charles Krauthammer has more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yankees 10, Pirates 0

More like it. A Minute Mid scoreboard watch.

Joba: the real thing.

Pirates 12, Yankees 5

"Don't you boys how much I hate losin' to the Pirates!?"

--Wilford Brimley, as Pops, in The Natural

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yankees 4, Reds 1

Oh, did Girardi want to win this one. Michael Kay saiud as much: "Lose today, and the San Diego series (or Houston, take your pick) is negated."

So Rivera come in in the eighth, after Farnworth's hand injury.

Strong again from Pettitte.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reds 6, Yankees 0

One of those games. But Giese may end up helping

On a cheerier note, I received a message from Greater Phoenix informing me that my youngest brother, Robby-Boy, has ascended to the rank of Captain in the Phoenix Fire Department. Good for him. I feel sorry for the fires.

Reds 4, Yankees 2

All good things . . .

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yanks sweep Pods!

It's like I can't keep up!

Seven in a row.

Joba . . . for real.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yankees 8, Padres 0

And, oh yeah, the Yankees. Two home runs apiece by Giambi and A-Rod. Pettitte strong.

Five in a row.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Celtics Win!!!!

Seriously, the greatest thing about this final round has been, at long last, the recognition of Paul Pierce as belonging to the front rank of all-time NBA players.

Paul Pierce is a great player.

A Hall-of-Fame player.

Like Brooks Robinson in the '70 World Series, Bobby Orr in the '72 Stanley Cup, Johnny Bench in the '76 World Series, and Tom Brady in the '04 Super Bowl, Paul Pierce's efforts in these finals have served to illuminate the greatness of a player whose true greatness might have otherwise fallen just slightly below the radar.

And--not that it matters, basketball-wise--not one single player, not even Larry Bird, ever went to school so much on Celtic lore, nor ever was so familiar on the Celtic-Laker rivalry, which was basically the narrative of the league during its breakout years (1959-1969), and then its explosion years (1979-1987). Pierce had about nine thousand opportunities to leave the Celtics for more money and a better chance to win, and continued to repeat his mantra: "No. I want to help build a new winning tradition in Boston. That's what I want to do."

And so, he has. With this one championship, he has.

When, after defeating Detroit, Pierce (born, yes, in Inglewood, in the shadow of the Fabulous Forum) exploded in a chant of "Beat LA! Beat LA!", his teammates responded slowly, as if learning a new song. He knew, they would quickly learn. Me, I thought I was hearing a verse from my youth, when I still looked at the girls in their summer dresses.

God bless Paul Pierce, God bless Red, and damnit, God bless America.

TWTWTW, Part 1

(That Was The Weekend That Was, part 1)

I sometimes wonder if my life resembles others': nothing happening for a long while, then everything happening at once. Two of the very few things I do, outside of home, work, and sports, are judge the Houston Chronicle spelling bee and attend the English Composition CCCC Conference out of town, usually in some city I'm dying to explore: chicago one year, New York another, (hopefully) San Francisco in 2009. What is truly exasperating is how the spelling bee and the first day of the conference usually fall on precisely the same day in March, during a four-month span in which nothing else much happens. So I always miss the first day of the conference, a Wednesday. Then on Thursday, Astro-Girl and I catch an 8 am flight out of town and race off to the conference. Then we come home from the conference and watch re-runs of Will and Grace until the baseball season starts three weeks later.

So it was this past weekend, during which I was confronted with two, three, maybe four events overlaying one another: the State GOP Convention, the Celtics-Lakers NBA finals, the US Open on TV, and (oh yeah) the New York Yankees in town to play the Astros.

Thursday morning: GOP convention opens, stretched across two enormous auditoriums (auditoria?) in the ground floor of the George R. Brown Convention center downtown. Maybe it's me; I've always found the GRB, supposedly the chief selling point for conentioneering, a rather gloomy place, certainly gloomier than its analogue in Phoenix, the Civic Center. Already the mood of the conventioneers might be desribed as . . . muted. The lights are down, to aid trhe television cameras. The usual functionaries parade out, the usual songs are sung. People come to their feet out of a sense of obligation.

There is a brief spasm of excitement for Paul Bettencourt, a gifted speaker and the one Harris County official everyone knows by name.

Who is Paul Bettencourt? The Harris County Clerk. It is a quirk of Texas law that, upon paying for your car registration renewal or property tax, you make the check out to the county clerk personally. That's right: your check reads, "Pay to the order of . . . Paul Bettencourt." Until two months ago, I had never seen him in person, never known much about him but his name, certainly not expected the large Yogi Bear of a man who bounded onstage at our Senate District meeting and brought the crowd to its feet. The same happens this time: glasses shining in the lights, sweaty hair plastered to his scalp, the man explodes onto stage. His rhetoric is as corny as Bird's Eye ("the Dems had a choice: Obama or Chelsea's Mama!"), but his enthusiasm is infectious. He simply refuses a desultory audience to affect him.

Next, Governor Rick Perry. And here things get interesting.

As everyone in Texas knows, the Texas Governor's Mansion was torched, almost certainly by an arsonist, the Sunday before Rick Perry was due to appear here. That's right: the man lost his house (or residence, anyway) some hundred hours before his appearance on the podium. As if to emphasize the circumstances, a quirky little film about the Perry family (one boy, one girl) starts and ends with a shot of the mansion in its former, pristine state.

Mrs. Perry introduces the Governor. Again, muted applause. The plain truth is that there is a segment of GOPers who dislike the Governor, perhaps even loathe him, not least because of the business tax he pushed through the legislature as a means of funding schools. If one were to spend a lifetime searching for--by GOP lights--the most horrifying conjunction of two English words, one could hardly do better than combine the word "business" with the word "tax."

Beyond his positions, there has always been the image of Perry as a place-holder, as his Lieutenant Governor's beneficiary of W's ascension to the White House, as a tool of Bush, Rove and DeLay who has kept his job thanks to the Dems' incompetence in recruiting a worthwhile foe. (By contrast, John Cornyn, who entered the US Senate to catcalls of "Bush Machine," has distinguished himself, especially in matters of energy. About which, more anon.)

Perry does what he does with what he has . . . and then, ten minutes in, starts winning the crowd over. The plain fact is that there are several positions the GOP holds that are widely popular (not that voters, this time 'round, may be swayed--another story). Among these are voter picture ID, gay marriage, increased border security; Perry hits all of these hard, and well. He also goes on at length about Texas's 10 billion-dollar surplus, at a time when California and New York (the two biggest Texas bugabooes, after Massachusetss) are deep in the red.

Then, the finish: Perry's call for party unity, at a time when Perry finds himself the potential target of party disunity. (In the following days, volunteers will materialize on the skyway between the GRB and the Hilton Hotel and hand out stickers: Kay Bailey Hutchison for Governor.)

And, now, the Really Weird Moment.

Perry says something about one instrument playing a tune. Behind him on the podium, a uniformed buglist appears, and begins playing "Yellow Rose of Texas." Seven thousand people stand, anticipating . But no: no song, not yet. Perry resumes talking: one instrument, one tune. Trumpet player appears, plays the first few bars of "The Eyes of Texas." Half the crowd stands up. Perry continues talking; the two thousand people sit again, finally on the same page: "Oh, now I see where this is headed." And sure enough: a dozen-piece band appears to play "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

The effect, to say the least, is underwhelming. For such a build-up, Perry needed to trot out a hundred-piece band that would march up the aisles to thunderous applause. I once saw a high school production of The Music Man whose climax played to bigger effect in front of six hundred people. Instead I found myself with seven thousand Republican fanatics cheering the titular leader of the state party out of politeness.

Is it too much of a stretch to link this moment with the current McCain-Obama tussle? When I was seven years old I wore a NIXON NOW button to school on election day. In the intervening thirty six years, the full extent of my political activity has been conducted in the interior of a voting booth--that wonderful, wonderful place. I was pulled back into political activism--first my district caucus, then as a district delegate, then finally a state delegate--for one reason: because we are at war with an enemy who wishes to destroy us, and I can't find sufficient seriousness from the other side.

Want to save the polar bears? Easy: let's everyone stop shooting at them. Gas too high? Drill here, drill now, pay less (and yes, given a substantial, public American commitment to more drilling and refining, prices would come down. That's why they're called oil futures.) The only thing that matters to me is the vigorous pursuit of those who would do us harm, and the reduction of our enemy's assets to basketball courts. Right now, only side seems to have the requisite commitment--or rather, as they say on NPR, This, I believe.

Mornings like Thursday, however, fill me with a kind of gloom. Sometimes I wonder: does any of the above mean anything, even to me? Days I watch McCain speak, I feel like throwing my show at the TV and shouting, "No, no, you're saying it wrong"? However right McCain be right on the issues (I have my opinions, others have theirs), rhetorically, he's playing Salieri to Obama's Mozart. This will be a problem.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yankees 13, Astros 0

Ah, what a grand game. And a sweep.

But for now, to bed.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yanks 8, Astros 4

But first, last night's game.

Robby-Boy writes:

What a great game. I told Ryan (his son, my nephew) you were at the game. I was so excited, and told me not to worry to Joba didn't get the win, he said he "pitched awesome" and will get his win soon!

Farnsworth in the 9th! Wow!


Yes, wow indeed. My second-day duties at the Texas Republican Convention kept Astro-Girl and I from making our seats until the second inning. Our Friday seats were in the mezzanine, which in Minute Maid, as in a few other parks, exists as a kind of isolated cheering section, almost a treehouse, separated from the rest of the stands except by a series of stairways and risers. The mezzanine has its own snack bar, rest rooms, and beer court. Its seats slope down at a dangerous-looking angle and--alone among the seats at Minute Maid--have no armrests.

What is most disturbing thing about the mezzanine is how its spectators cannot see balls hit below them, into the bleachers.

(Is baseball the only sport besides golf where a ticket doesn't guarantee a view of the entire event? Just thinking.)

Anywat, the score was 1-1 interminably through six innings, at which point Derek Jeter took a fastrball outisde and drove it to right field--and beneath my field of view. In such situations, when a 'Stros rival is well-represented (in most years, the Cards, Cubs, and Braves), one looks to who is cheering to make sense of the play.

So: the ball disappeared beneath the stands. I looked. Thousands below me, those in blue pinstripes and grey away jerseys marked JETER, RODRIGUEZ, and DIMAGGIO, jumped in the air. Enough for me. Home run.

So: 2-1, bottom ninth. In the context of Tiger Woods's latest exploits at Torrey Pines, I shouted to those around me "Watch, just watch!"

The Mo Rivera jog (more a glide) from the bullpen, ninth inning, one-run Yankee lead, must rank among the greatest anticipatory moments in sports, right up there with Woods taking his Sunday practice swings at Augusta and 45 doing lay-up drills in a clinching game.

So . . . ninth inning. I stand. I raise my hands to greet . . .

Oh. Kardiac Kyle.

The last time Kyle Farnsworth pitched at Minute Maid was the 2005 ALDS playoffs, during which he blew a five-run Brave lead: a Berkman grand slam followed by, the following inning, a Brad Ausmus homer that seemed to climb a ladder to the exact spot on the Minute Maid facade. The Astros tied the game, won in 18 innings (a story all its own) and made the first World Series in its history. And all because Kardiac Kyle, in the words of Jim Rome, burned Minute Maid to the ground.

So here he was. And worked through the ninth inning.

More tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yankees 2, Astros 1

And so I stagger home from my 13-hour day . . .

Yankees 4, A's 1

A full day of conventioneering, during which I missed Matsui's slammy and Pettitte's return from his should-have-been-a-debacle had it not been for the Yankees' three separate comebacks last Saturday.

And speaking of comebacks . . .

Anyone catch the Celtics-Lakers?

I did, at the end of the day, in a cigar bar on Kirby Drive, and spent the second half high-fiving the Chowderhead sitting behind me until my palms nearly bled.

At one point we were admonished by the bartender: "Hey, calm down guys, this ain't no f------ wing house!"

I had thought about going home at halftime, but I stayed to watch it all, and now I feel wicked smaht.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inquiring Minds

SunDevilJoe asks:

So, how do you choose Politcs over Baseball/Yanks-Astros as well as the US Open?

Ah, don't have to.

Tomorrow: Caucusing all day, til nine pm, with a time-out run to the hospitality room for a look at the ongoing US Open action, followed by Astros-Brewers at seven, supplemented by Lakers-Celtics. Home for Yankees-A's on YES at nine.

Friday: Astro-Girl drives me downtown in the morning. Conventioning all day, with a quick dash up the street at 2:30 with a meeting with the supervisor of my current moonlighting assignment, then back to the convention at 3. Quick look at the US Open. Back to the convention, right up until 6 pm . . . when Astro-Girl will screech to a halt in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, armed with a change of clothes. Off comes the button-down, on go the pinstripes. We drive the three blocks to Minute Maid--for Yankees-Astros at seven. Then home for US Open highlights.

Saturday: Last day of the convention, a half-day. Easy: convention in the morning, US Open in the afternoon, Yankees-Astros at night.

Sunday: I sleep in. Yankees-Astros at one. Home for the back nine of the US Open. Then, Celtics-Lakers.

See? Easy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yankees 3, A's 1

So off we go to one of the more eventful weeks of my life:

*I'm teaching three classes each day, plus two more on the weekend, which I've cancelled because . . .

*The Texas Republican State Convention is this weekend, and, as a delegate, I'm obliged to show up at Houston's George R. Brown Convention this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I put myself in this place at the urging of Astro-Girl, who urged me to speak my mind at the Senate District Convention. Twelve of us stood for two spots. Each of us was allowed two minutes to speak our piece; I spoke, was elected, and now I have to balance my responsibilities to helping defeat Barack Obama with . . .

*Would you believe it? The Astros-Yankees series, the first ever and last--in Houston, at least--for the next six years. Everyone--everyone--who knows anything about Texas baseball (and it's not an insignificant body of knowledge) knows about the 1965 opening of the Astrodome, when the Yankees were recruited to provide exhibition opposition, and Mickey Mantle hit the first Dome home run in a 1-0 Yankee victory. Thirty-five years later, in 2000, when as-was Enron Field (eventually Minute Maid Park) opened, George Steinbrenner had enough sense of history (and let's say it, enough class) to agree to send the back-to-back World Series Champion Yankees back again, on a roundabout way home from Spring Training. This opening was less climactic, as forgettable Yankee Rickey Ledee hit the first Enron home run, and the Astros won 6-4 in a sloppy, subs-filled game.

Since then, the most memorable Astros-Yankees game has been the six-pitcher no-hitter the Astros threw against the Yankees at the Stadium in 2003; a game that caused me no end of grief at work. Maybe you can get used be called "Loser Boy." It did not help with my office mates that the Yankees won the next day, and in thrilling fashion; nor did it matter that the Yankees won the pennant in thrilling fashion (can anyone say "Aaron Boone"?) while the Astros lost their division on the second-to-last day of the season. I can't let my guys lose to the Astros, not now. Really, not ever.

Yankees, Royals split

A mixed bag: twice in three days, a tie-breaking ninth inning home run off Mariano Rivera.

Then, yesterday. Another getaway game I missed.

It is fitting that the Yankees come to town this week to play the Astros; both teams are around .500 and both need to stop running in place.

Saturday's game, though memorable, should have been lost by the Yankees three different times, at deficits of 5-1, 10-6, and 11-10, when Mo surrendered the first of his two dingers.

So the question remains: what to do?

Oh, and happy birthday to Robby-Boy, fire fighter and photojournaolist extraodinaire, as well as my baby brother. Love you, kiddo.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Yankees 12, Royals 11

So, let's keep count:

It is huge to come back from a four-run deficit; these Yankees did it twice in one game.

In fact, count up the number of times a lead in this game was erased, reversed, or won back.

Seven times.

That's a month.

Of course, I missed the whole freaking thing--maybe the most entertaining game of the season, between any two teams--thanks to the FOX embargo.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yankees 12, Royals 11

Did I even get the score right? By my count, the lead was either erased, reversed, or won back eight different times.

Well, yeah, Fox took the game right out of my ambit. So I missed the best game of the year.

Royals 2, Yankees 1

Another wasted gem from Ranser.

Face it: we knew the game was over when Melky popped up with one out and Cano on third. It was that kind of game.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1; Yankees 9, Blue Jays 8

About the first game: has Moose discovered the fountain of . . . something? Perhaps the fountain of the Hall of Fame. 300 wins and he's in; he's pushing 260 as we speak. Anyone doubt he goes to 270 at least this year, then--at a mimimum--gets 10 wins a year through 2011?

Run support be damned. You're a major-league pitcher. They give you the ball. You win or you lose. Moose, at this point, has nine of the Yankee 30 wins to this point.

Make no mistake: he's still got it. The as-usual wretched home plate umpiring of the worst umpire on earth, C.V. Buckner, cost Moose an extra 20 pitches.


About the second game: well, damn. Sounded like the best game of the year, Giambi with the walk-off.

I was teaching.

Well, great.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Blue Jays 9, Yankees 3

It took all of two innings to demonstrate the obvious: this is one wicked roll of the dice.

Since Labor Day of last year, the most consistent portion of the Yankees--really, the only consistent portion of the Yankees--has been Joba and Mo at the back of the bullpen. Wang has come close at times; the rest of the rotation has been up and down. MVP A-Rod suffered another miserable October and was hurt for much of this year. Cano and Giambi were catatonic for this season's first six weeks. Damon was hurt, then Posada. Jeter has been mostly excellent, but week in, week out, what has kept the Yankees afloat has been their ability to take a lead after 21 outs and make it stand up.

So: mostly because Hughes has been hurt and ineffective, and because Kennedy has had tweo really good starts all year, Cashman and Girardi basically have decided to break up a pair to go for a straight. Which is something you do in spring training, not while you're trying to hang on to the outer edges of contention in June.

We have already seen the short-term effect of Joba's move out of the pen: one loss, at least, on Monday (thank you, Kardiac Kyle). Now this.

Well, let's reserve judgment, anyhow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Yankees 7, Twins 6 (12)

Missed Friday's game--found out about by fishing Saturday's sports section out of a wastebasket in the Isle of Capri poker room.

Got home in time for extra innings.

Isd Ohlendorf for real?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yankees 4, Orioles 2

Well, I was out all last night, and so missed the game.

My recovery from that 24-hour Alien-in-John-Hurt's-stomach-thing has gone well . . . straight into my birthday, which was today.

The first sign was a phone call from one of my brothers: "I saw the Indy 500, and it reminded me your birthday was coming up. So happy birthday."

Then, on my cell phone duet, Mom and Dad from Scottsdale, singing happy birthday to me. Sweet. I played in on speaker to Astro-Girl.

And: from Astro-Girl:

1) Dinner out last night (steak you could cut with a fork); dinner in tonight (take-out sushi, to which of course SunDevil Joe always responds, "Well, you know, the only real sushi is in Tokyo." Yeah, yeah. Gotcha.)

2) Some Mad Money for my birthday trek to the poker tables of Lake Charles with my brother-in-law (he, Alpha Male Complete, always plays No Limit with Teddy KGB; I, an English teacher, play 3-6-12 with the other tourists, and such is the difference between our games that once my table lost complete interest in a heads-up match, and instead concentrated on game at my BOL's table, during which the mound of red chips formed a pile approximating the dimensions of a pitcher's mound).


3) The gift to end all gifts: Box and Club-Level seats to the New York Yankees-Houston Astros series in June. The Yankees have played twice before in Houston, both times in an exhibition appearance, both times celebrating the opening of a new ballpark: the Astrodome in 1965 (it is drilled into Houston schoolchildren that Mickey Mantle hit the first Astrodome home run, in a 1-0 game), and the (ahem) as-was Enron Field in 2000 (not so dramatic: Yankee Ricky Ledee hit the first home run, and the Astros won 6-4, in a sloppy game. I was there.). However, this is the first Astros-Yankees game in Houston that will count. With the Astros giving the Cubs and Cards chase in the NL Central, and Yankees . . . oh, just never mind . . . these games may count a lot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"National Primary Vote"

Brendan Loy over at Irish Trojan posts an interesting Hillary missive.

for those who wonder what the next tactic is, you should--as Brendan suggests--pay attention to this phrase:

"National Primary Vote."

In other words, if you discount all the caucus states (including Iowa) and if you include Florida (where no one was supposed to campaign) and if you include Michigan (where only Hillary was on the ballot, and therefore won like thirty billion to nothing). . . do all these things and--presto!--Hillary has a majority!

Two thoughts:

1. If this is an endgame, then--really and truly--Obama is getting off easy. Many Dems just don't know how easy. Bill Clinton was found playing Baron and the Milkmaid with the help in the Oval Office, and such was the brilliance and savagery of the counter-attack, that before the year was out, two GOP Speakers were out of a job. (Yes, yes, GOP over-reaching, blah blah blah, but any of the other 41 Presidents would have resigned on the spot.)

2. Ever since Barack Hussein Obama-drug dealing-roll the dice-like a pillow all fell flat, it's been clear that one of two things have occurred. Either the Clintons have decided that nothing's going to stick, or else their saving their endgame for right before Denver (W's drunk driving, anyone?).

right now--in part because he's a Democrat, in part because she wants on the ticket, in part because there may actually be nothing there--I think the second is true.

"Lay off my wife"

No. Sorry, no.

Not that what I think matters, but:

There really needs to be a bill of particulars regarding who or what is liable for criticism in a presidential campaign.

Rule number one is the same rule as poker:

You can't lose what you don't push to the middle.

Conversely, what you do push to the middle is fair game.

I probably enjoyed The West Wing more than I should have, perhaps because part of the reason I enjoyed it was as a liberal fantasy of a more perfect Bill Clinton: a man possessed of all the requisite political and rhetorical brilliance, but without the horror show of a marriage, without the scandals, and without the shamelessness (the last part, something the Obamites have come to experience).

What counted for a scandal in The West Wing--wht occupied parts of two seasons, for God's sake--was the hero's ability to function as President while keeping quiet his multiple sclerosis, and his MD wife's efforts to medicate him. What President Bartlett made clear throughout his presidency--in other words, throughout the series--that his three daughters were off-limits. They didn't campaign, they didn't publicly speak, they were private citizens, they were off-limits. ("We don't even put them on our White House Christmas cards!" Bartlett raged at one point.)

My thought at the time: Okay, fair enough.

Things were (and until now have been) a little grayer with the real-life Bartlett daughter, Chelsea Clinton. As a teenager, and moreso as a double for the tambourine player on The Partridge Family, she was trotted out and referred to chiefly as a witness to her parents' enduring love. Lately (and not coincidentally), having come out of her ugly stage a hot little number, she's been a central figure in her mother's campaign, at one point sent to have breakfast with a (presumably) horny 21 year-old superdelegate. When David Schuster referred to Chelsea as "pimped out," his language may have been too harsh, but he was onto something.

The inference that Chelsea (who, by the way, is one year older than the age at which Bill's hero Jack Kennedy was elected to Congress) is beyond criticism is ludicrous. So it is with Michelle. You campaign, you take your chances like everyone else.

Jonah Goldberg states it best: "I, for one, want to hear more from her, and she seems perfectly willing to oblige. But if I don’t like what she has to say, I reserve the right to say so, whether her husband finds it acceptable or not."

A small point, leading to a larger one. Throughout the summer, the GOP will be lectured by The New York Times,
CNN and Chris Matthews about what is off-limits: not only Obama's spouse, middle name and past connections, but also his statements, voting record, positions, gaffes, running mate, plus every else plus its opposite: everything, in other words, besides George Bush's record in Iraq, health care, foreclosures and the price of gas.

What McCain unloads on Obama will not be half of what Hillary's crowd came up with. If Haley Barbour (who, if not McCain's running mate, will be roughly analogous to Billy Shaheen) ever called Obama a drug dealer, the race would be over. But eventually, one Republican after another will be driven to ask, "Are we allowed to campaign too?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Orioles 10, Yankees 9 (11)

The good news is, I'm feeling better.

The bad news is, right after the Yankees wasted three shutout innings from Kyle/Mo, and then took the lead on a clutch two-out hit from Matsui (after a tough A-Rod double play) there was Human Torch Hawkins, right there, ready to do his best.

So let me get this straight. A-Rod is coming off injury, Posada too. Cano and Giambi are rounding into form, Matsui is playing the ball of his life, Melky cruises along, Jeter is Jeter, and Abreu is Abreu. The hitting will be there.

Meanwhile: Wang will win 17-20; Pettitte and Moose will get theirs, Rasner is this season's discovery, Kennedy will be up and down, and for God's sake, won't Phil Hughes do something?

And, oh yeah, Mo Rivera, with his 0.40 ERA, is pretty much your AL Cy Young Award-winner at the quarter pole.

And, at the very tipping point of the season, Girardi and the brass want to go off and experiment with Joba, who would have made a fool of those Orioles tonight.

Orioles 8, Yankees 1

I was under the weather all day yesterday, and this didn't help.

Don't blame Rasner--how do you win without runs?

This is one of those closer-than-the-score-indicated games--a pitcher's duel until the seventh--at which point LaTroy Hawkins unloaded his tank of kerosene all over Camden Yards, and was quickly followed by his friends: Sparky, Human Torch and Fire Marshall Bill.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yankees 6, Mariners 5

Oh my, what a marvelous game.

With Giambi and Cano coming around, with A-Rod back, the Yankee lineup may finally be acquiring some fearsomeness.

This game had every indication of falling into the arrgh! category. You know: the sort of game you would give anything to replay, just because your guys are so much better, just because your guys kept hitting lasers straight at the other guys and the other guys hit bloopers that somehow fell in.

It was nice to see Arthur Rhodes, though, such a presence in huge Yankee victories down through the years.

What helped today was Matsui in the eighth: busting it out of the box for an infield hit, busting it to second on the throw at the plate on Cano's fly, busting it home on Molina's double--Matsui with the winning run, twice in four days. (Not to be the turd in the punchbowl, but as good as Molina has served as Georgie's fill-in, he could have moved his wide load a little faster out of the box, given that Ichiro was fast after his ball in center.)

While watching the game today, I was struck by the notion that Wang seems to miss Posada more than any other Yankee pitcher does. For all his vaunted chemistry with Spanish pitchers (anyone remember his run-in with El Duque: "Throw a fastball, you f****** pussy!"?), Posada seems to have a special relationship with Wang: Wang's arm motion, his pitch selection. Posada and Wang seem to talk more between innings than any other battery. Posada--who really does deserve co-captain status with Jeter--has, at least on the field, treated Wang as a younger brother since Wang's arrival.

There will be no real Yankee season without Posada. He, Jeter, A-Rod, Rivera comprise the franchise.

Okay, that's tomorrow's problem.

But for today: please, what a marvelous game.

Sunday in the Bronx. Cloudless day. Believe me: Heaven. I've been there before. I wish I had been there today. What a marvelous, marvelous, marvelous game.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yankees 2, Orioles 1

Biggest win of the year?

Yes.

Most necessary win of the year?

Yes.

Good Lord, the way the Yankees converged around Cano, it was like somebody had just won Game Seven.

Easy, boys.

And yet.

Tonight, we saw Robinson Mendoza come up with maybe his third important hit of the season. We saw Ian Kennedy pitch the game of his short career (don't tell me about the Birds, who chased Moose in the first two days ago). We saw, Lord Sakes, Kardiac Kyle go 1-2-3 in the eighth, in place of Joba Who Will Start Soon.

Rivera, okay.

This, tonight, is the team the Yankees need. They must understand the risk here, breaking up the one thing that has worked all season, the starter-Kyle-Joba-Mo baton that has preserved whatever lead the Yanks could hold through six innings.

Starter has to go six, minimum. Kyle has to throw strikes. Mo has to be Mo.

And. And, they gotta hit the ball.

And. Yeah, Girardi, nice dramatics.

Best win of the season.

Yankees 8, Orioles 0

Saw this one via the scoreboard at Minute Maid (and by the way, Blue, have you been noticing the Astros lately? If Roy Oswalt were anything like his dominating self, they'd be five games in front already).

Came home to find out the A-Rod seems fine, the Darrell Rasner might be this year's Aaron Small; and that Joba is set to move from the pen to the rotation.

It's hard to imagine the Yankees playing as poorly as they have for the last two weeks. Moose, who fopr awhile looked like circa '97, didn't get out of the first on Tuesday, against Baltimore. Pettitte struggles to put together two good starts in a row. Even Wang (who Joe Morgan awarded the Cy Young Award to last night, before he went out and got banged around by the Mets) is up and down. Phil Hughes is hurt and wasn't terribly effective before that. Ian Kennedy tries.

And the rotation, of course, has been only the second-worst thing about the Yanks in May. A projected rotation of, say, Wang, Moose, Pettitte, Joba and (for now) Rasner is a pretty decent one, but there are times when a team simply must go out and win 12-10. This Yankee team has shown no indication it is capable of that.

Still, good to get A-Rod back.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mets 6, Yankees 4

To amend: when you hit three home runs off Johan Santana, you have to win.

Last place II, Electrice Bogaloo

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yankees 2, Rays 1

I say it here . . .

If the Yanks get a solid start (2 runs or less through six, 3 runs or less through 7) from Wang, Moose, or Pettitte, or if they have a lead after six and give the ball to Farnsworth, or if they lead late and give it to Joba and/or Mo, they simply have to win.


It comes out there.

Understand: Moose pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings before being lifted (though he was charged with the Rays' lone run), and Joba pitched a scoreless eighth and Mo shook off the previous night with a 1-2-3 ninth. In other words, the pitching was about as good as you could hope for, especially in that little basketball arena they call a baseball field.

The result? A one-run victory. Thanks to contributions by, of all people, Ronbinson Mendoza, er, Cano, and Morgan Ensberg.

Cano did have a sweet none-out over-the-shoulder catch in the ninth, which pretty much sealed the game. Most times, the only way to beat Rivera is to get the lead-off man on, send in a pinch-runner if you need to, then move him around the bases (see Roberts, Dave).

Yeah, yeah, the '98 Yankees won a lot of games by one run. Tell it to the Marines: those Yanks won plenty of games by ten runs as well, and that ain't happening any time soon, not with these guys.

Two other things.

When one of the announcers remarked that the Yankees would not return to Tampa until September, I caught myself feeling relieved. The days of going 14-5 against the Rays are on hold.

But really, outside of White Sox telecasts, has there been a more brutal listening experience than the last three nights? Some yahoo with a cowbell found himself near a microphone, next to a guy with an air horn, next to a kid who yelled, "EAAAAASY OUT!!" every time a Yankee came to bat.

Three nights in a row, without fail:

Yankee batter announced.

Cowbell.

Air horn.

"EAAAAAASY OUT!!"

A brief flurry of play.

Next Yankee batter announced.

Cowbell.

Air horn.

"EAAAAAASY OUT!!"

The good news is, they get to go to Shea now.

To face, tomorrow night, Johan Santana.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No margin for error, cont.

Reader Blue writes:

No margin for error. So now all you Yankee fans know what it's like to be "gulp!" average. It hurts doesn't it?

It's not so fun to pretend you have players that only a payroll of only $60 million can buy, is it?


Let us understand what this status means. Absent A-Rod and Posada for now, absent any meaningful contribution from either Hughes or Kennedy (I honestly, out of the blocks, would have settled for one of two), absent any meaningful production out of Cano or Giambi, the Yanks simply cannot lose a game llike last night's: a solid start (1 run, 7 innings) from Wang, timely hitting late from Matsui, and an appearance from Fanrsworth, Joba and Mo. For the nest three weeks or so, there will be too many 7-1 and 9-3 games, too many 5-0 deficits by the third inning. Too many times the Yankees are simply outslugged, outpitched, outran, outcaught, outfielded.

If the Yanks get a solid start (2 runs or less through six, 3 runs or less through 7) from Wang, Moose, or Pettitte, or if they have a lead after six and give the ball to Farnsworth, or if they lead late and give it to Joba and/or Mo, they simply have to win.

One key: In the space of two weeks, the catching situation has gone from Well-at-least-we-have-Molina to Molina-at-.205-is-killing-us. When the bats are cranking, Molina, in for Georgie, is content to move runners over in the eighth hole, call his game and throw base stealers out. Now? When he came to bat last night, Kenny Singleton noted his 0-for-11 and pronounced him "due."

Uh, no. David Ortiz at .205 is "due." Albert Pujols at .205 is "due." Jose Molina at .205 is . . . Jose Molina, another dead spot in an order that recedes, some nights, to Jeter, Abreu, Matsui and six other guys leaving the tying run at third yet again.

The one saving grace is the so-far mediocrity of the American League. As of last night, with about a fourth of the season played, 11 of the league's 14 teams were jamed between 18 and 24 wins. Unless the Red Sox or maybe the Angels slam it in gear (and don't bet against either) 95 wins appears to be the ceiling.

Say, 92 for the Wild Card.

74-50 from here on in.

As Rocco Lampone said to Michael Coreleone: Difficult. Not impossible.

Or rather, turn it around.

Not impossible. But (in the team's current composition) difficult.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rays 2, Yankees 1 (11)

I actually saw this coming.

No, really: Norm Chad, an entertaining enough talker and writer for about half as long as he thinks he is (he's like a guy going through a divorce who just had three beers, whose bitterness and bile spur him on to a few hilarious riffs, after which the laughter encourages him waaaay too much, so he talks for 15 minutes longer than he should)--but someone who, when writing about, you know, sports, knows crap-all.

Put it this way: Tony Kornheiser is the thinking man's Norm Chad.

There, I said it.

So Chad's column today advanced this idea: Mariano Rivera could finish the year with a 0.00 ERA!

So, of course, when Rivera came in in the 10th, I knew the Yanks were toast.

Never mind Giambi "guarding the lines" (translation: moving to the left of the precise location the ball was hit), Rivera was done.

The Yanks have to win games like this. Absent A-Rod and Posada, the team's margin of error is just too narrow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rays 7, Yankees 1

Sigh. And Kennedy on the way back.

SOMEONE call a halt to this.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Now, where was I?

Personal note: this was my first year wholly back in the classroom, after a dozen years as head of some department, call it English or Arts & Humanities or what have you. Hence, I was, for the first time since 1995, taken wholly by surprise by the storm surge of papers, finals and end-of-semester paperwork that hit me--always, always worse in spring than in fall.

My sister-in-law's son is two-and-a-half. I stacked everything I would need to read and mark up, as a prelude to addding up and assigning a grade, and had my nephew stand next to the stack. The pile reached the top portion of his kneecap.

What happens in these times is that baseball games race past you like picket fences on Route 95--you find out, Wait, an afternoon game? Who knew? You hear Moose has won his fourth game in a row--another step closer to an improbable Hall of Fame plaque, and you missed the whole thing.

Then, step out on a Friday night--bang, a loss.

Then, Saturday, another Fox plot to rob you of your viewing pleasure. A Yankee-Tiger game taken off YES, and put on Fox, but not your Fox affiliate, since Fox has determined that everyone who lives between Philadelphia and Denver must be a Cubs fan. A hundred-and-twenty Cubs games go out on basic cable every year, yet Fox grabs the Cubs, then grabs the Yankees, and freezes seventy percent of the country out of the Yankee game.

The current Fox arrangement is almost as bad as CBS's brief, unfortunate foray into baseball starting in 1990, during which the network bought baseball in order to bury it, save for the All-Star Game, the post-season, and a mere nine Saturday games, which qualified as a sop to real baseball fans (like my father, my brothers, and myself) who had fallen in love with baseball mainly through NBC's annual 25 Saturday Games of the Week.

So: I've caught up. And Rasner and Moose have won a combined six in a row.

Finals, man. You have no idea.

Some ideas about the Yankees. Tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Yanks avoid sweep

Was out watching the Astros last night; as bad as that game became, I was able to look down to the 6-3 final score.

Does this ever happen--you're driving around and you found out on the radio that your team has an afternoon game? Hate it when that happens.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Indians 3, Yankees 0

Can't complain about a shutout, unless there are major baserunning blunders.

You're not the only team with talent.

Just salvage a win tomorrow, guys.

Re: Clinton v. Obama

Jimmy writes:

It's been over for a couple of months. His lead has been too much for her to overcome. Have you had a chance to watch Chuck Todd talk about the math at all? I used to think that guy was an idiot. At any rate, you were right, and I was wrong, way back when you said Clinton would get dirty. She did. It's nice to see Obama brush it off.

The Astros are becoming fun to watch. Berkman gets five hits.


Me: I thought it was over, too, way back on February 22nd. Still, the metaphor of campaign-as-boxing-match has never been so apt, with Obama in the role of Jimmy Braddock/Billy Conn/Ray Leonard, losing rounds but staying upright, and Hillary as Max Baer/Joe Louis/Marvin Hagler, trying to land the one haymaker that would lay Obama out flat. Presumptive nominees have imploded before (Gary Hart, George Romney), and I would not have been stunned if Obama joined their ranks. It could have happened; it just didn't.

As for the Astros: Jimmy is the second contributor to compliment the boys in a week. Lord knows if they'll win anything (the Cardinals' resurgence took everyone off guard) but with the BLT (Berkman, Lee, Tejada) in the enter of the line-up, they'll sure be entertaining.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Indians 5, Yankees 3

The only person feeling worse than Joba Chamberlain tonight:

Hillary Clinton.

This was not only a bad loss, it was the sort of game you hate to lose, with the hitters getting Pettitte off the hook for a bad pitch (and goodbye what's-his-name, the beneficiary of the two worst pitches Lefty has thrown all season); with Matsui ripping the cover off the ball; with Cano at least contributing with his glove; with Jason Giambi, for sweet mercy's sake, even lending a hand, busting down the line faster than he had in his life (though slower than your nephew in a Little League game) to break up a double play and allow the first Yankee run.

Throw in a serviceable catching from Molina (with a from-the-knees throw-out that I don't know Posada could pull off) and a sudden renaissance of Kardiac Kyle as a seventh-inning set-up man (one bloop, not much else), and the game seemed a boat race, with Joba and Mo set to go in the eighth and ninth.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us comfort ourselves. The question is not whether a late-innings stopper will get slapped around. Of course he will. (Well, except for Mo in '96, setting up Wetteland: Mo, cheated out of not only the Cy Young, but the MVP. Another story.) Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young as the Yankee closer in '77, and he lost five games. Goose Gossage came in as closer the following year, lost on Opening Day, lost 10 games by the All-Star break, lost the All-Star Game itself, lost one game in Toronto and simply curled up in a ball in front of his locker and cried. And? And then, came home with a 2.01 ERA, and in the bottom of the ninth of The Greatest Game Ever Played, said to himself, "Well, the worst thing that can happen is I'll be hiking in the Rockies tomorrow," then popped up Yaz to win the pennant.

And don't forget the Sainted Mo, the Hammer of God. Elevated to closer in '97, Rivera blew three saves out of the chute, game up that homer to Sandy Alomar in the playoffs . . . then didn't blow another post-season save until . . . no, we're not going to revisit Arizona today.

Anyway. Joba. Walk, bunt, walk. Two on, one out. Up comes (speaking of Diamondbacks) David Delucci, a lefty aiming for the porch. I thought, "Umm, he can turn on an inside fastball. Joba, you may want to . . ."

Joba threw an inside fastball. I pointed at the TV screen. Delucci's homer landed precisely where I pointed.

Ah well. The kid will be all right.

As to Hillary.

The Democratic primaries have, since, February 22nd, been Sunday at the Master's for me.

The week of the Wisconsin primary, I received an invitation to Barack Obama's February 22nd rally at the Toyota Center in Houston. I declined, and lived to regret it, as the evening stood as Obama's best evening for two-and-a-half months--in short, until tonight.

Politics is like sports for me: with no horse in the race, I root for the event. Unless the Yankees or Astros or involved (or at least affected, as in a pennant race), I root for extra innings. In the Master's, unless Mikelsson is in the hunt, I root, if anything, for the course. The more humiliation the better.

I've spent ten weeks rooting for the course with the Dems. But I think it's over.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yankees 8, Mariners 2

Still, time for Plan B.

Phil Hughes is out, for at least a month, and Ian Kennedy is off to Scanton.

Remains to be seen if Brian Cashman has another Aaron Small in his quiver.

And the Daily News is reduced to reporting that even Robby Cano hit a homer yesterday.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Yankees 6, Mariners 1

I forgot Abreu.

And, I guess, Moose.

Mike Mussina, proud owner of 254 career wins--and about as many IQ points--will, in all likelihood, get to the Hall of Fame before his ex-teammate Rocket.

Chances are, Moose will retire with:

*Zero Cy Youngs
*Zero 20-win seasons
*Zero World Championships
*Zero No-hitters . . .

Though this last one is painful, folks. Moose has twice come within one out of a no-no, the last instance on Labor Day Sunday, 2001. This was the final game of a three-game Fenway series the in which Yankees had entered with a 6 1/2 game lead over Boston and had won the first two games, and so now led by 8 1/2 games--in other words, the regular season was over. The Labor Day Sunday night game, hyped for a week by ESPN, was basically a non-event . . .

Except that Moose, brought in to essentially replace David Cone, was painting the corners; and David Cone, brought in by the Sox to compete with Moose, was scarcely worse. The game was 0-0 through the better part of the games, with Moose not allowing a runner, and with Cone, though allowing his modicum of runners, not allowing a run.

(Intermission. Was there ever a pitcher who had less concern for the long-term effects of his actions than David Cone? I mean, the Hall of Fame is filled with pitchers who begged out in the late innings, or sat out wiht any kind of arm twinge: Jim Palmer, Steve Carlton, Don Sutton. There is a whole would-be wing of the Hall for pitchers who pitched through all kinds of pain and hated to be pulled: Luis Tiant, Mike Flanagan, Mike Boddicker, Vida Blue, Bret Saberhagen. Cone is their patron saint. I have always thought that Cone's first infant words had to be, "Skip, I can get this guy.")

Anyway, Moose retired 26 Red Sox in a row. Then Carl Everett--the anti-Moose in every way imaginable--gets a base hit. This was Mussina's career in a nutshell: admirable, praiseworthy, and just coming short of any definable benchmark. We may remember that 2001 was the year the Yankees came within two outs of winning the world series against the Diamondbacks . . . another story, sure.

Anyway, if Moose has another 12 or so wins in that right arm of his, the Yanks may yet make this close.

Yankees 5, Mariners 1

It is clear at this point that the Yanks' fortunes depend upon Wang starting every fifth day, Joba and Mo at the back end of the bullpen, and whatever production can be mustered by Matsui, Jeter, Damon and Melky.

It is the team's great good fortune that no one seems capable of running away with either the division or the Wild Card. A good half-dozen teams seem capable of clustering in the 88- to 95-win coterie.

The task, then, is to hang on like hell until A-Rod, then Georgie, are well.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bengals Sweep

Time for Wang to act like a stopper and stop.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Detroit, Detroit (2 games)

Start spreadin' the news.

Began to write about Wright.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yankees 5, Indians 2

One reason baseball is the greatest game is the number of times you walk away saying, "Well, I never saw that before."

Sixth inning, 2-0 Tribe, bases loaded, nobody out. A-Rod at the plate. Bingo, a big inning. And so it was.

A-Rod: hit by pitch. Run forced in. 2-1, Cleveland.

Giambi to the plate. Slow bouncer to first, One unassisted, run scores, Jeter advances from second to third, A-Rod from first to second. 2-2.

Matsui to the plate. Slow bouncer to first, One unassisted, Jeter scores, A-Rod to third. 3-2, Yankees.

Morgan Ensberg to the plate. A swinging, thirty-foot six-hopper dies in the infield grass. Ensberg, infield hit. A-Rod scores. 4-2 Yankees.

Four batters, four runs--and all without a batted ball traveling more than 95 feet.

Never saw that before.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yankees 1, Indians 0

Superb work by Melky, Wang, Joba, and Mo.

It says a lot that for a .500 team, Wang (5-0) and Mo (.000 ERA) will both contest for the Pitcher of the Month.

But what's up with Georgie? The Yanks can be worse than the Patriots when it comes to injuries. Fifteen days, sixty, what?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Indians 6, Yankees 4

A one-pitch game. Pettitte, three run homer, thanks for coming.

Friday, April 25, 2008

White Sox 7, Yankees 6

A weird game right to the end, what with the rain-outs. In certain respects a disappointmnet, but the Yanks leave Comiskey (shut up) with two wins in their ball bag.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yankees 6, White Sox 4

Lord, is there anything better than beating the White Sox?

I mean, anything?

Single malt scotch? A bloody red T-bone? Splitting four eights and having the dealer bust? The killing of Fanucci sequence in The Godfather, Part II?

Somehow, even beating the Red Sox doesn't even match the thrill of the last two days, in that a victory over the Red Sox is always met with the realization that there remains six or ten or fifteen Red Sox games to go, some with Manny up in the seventh or eighth with a one-run lead to protect. The Red Sox you respect as a worthy adversary. The White Sox . . .

Well, doesn't it all come down to the White Sox announcers, to Whoever and the Hawk, to Whitey's's Pick to Click, to "Put it on the boooooard . . . Yeeees!" Compared to the White Sox announcers, Brent Musburger calling LSU-Florida is a model of restraint.

As to the game. How good to see Moose get a win. I'll lay in front of the doors if I must, but if Moose gets to 280 wins it'll mean the Hall Of Fame.

And Rivera. It is time, soon, that Mo will need appreciation not just as the greatest closer of all time, not even as the greatest pitcher of all time, but as pretty damn near the greatest baseball player of all time. Take away two pitches--Sandy Alomar's homer, and the bunt he threw in the direction of the Superstition Mountains--and the conversation would be over.

But really: How great is it to beat the White Sox?