Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Stepping up and choking?

The Yanks lost Sunday's game at Toronto because Torre AGAIN went by the book: playing switch hitting sometime outfielder Ruben Sierra over lefty Bubba Crosby or lefty Matt Lawton against lefty Ted Lilly (against whom lefties hit better than righties). Sierra cost the Yanks 3-4 runs in the first two innings with bad defense and hasn't hit a lick since coming off the DL; Bubba has been decent and can play the field. Considering how little the Yanks can afford to give up extra outs, they need to play some defenders and rely on Jeter, Arod, Sheff, Cano, Gawzilla, Giambi, et al. to do what they're paid to do.

But big kudos to Chien-Ming Wang for 8 IP, 7 H (all singles), 2 ER and nine assists, mostly on easy bouncers to the box in the midst of a pennant race in a foreign land as a rookie. Wang yesterday started only his third game since returning from the DL and was extremely good. He's tossing up 95 mph sinkers! That's some serious stuff. If he can stay healthy, and get serious rest for his arm in the offseason, hopefully he'll be a contributor for quite a while (as long as the morons in Tampa don't trade him).

In other areas: the NL race is so dull by contrast to the AL. Each team is decidedly mediocre, none can sustain a run, and none is particularly interesting: the Astros are dull outside of Clemens' greatness; the Phils are an AL team with a pitcher batting 9th; the Marlins are young and semi-fun but bipolar. And as bad as these teams are, they're all 3-5 games better than the horrid NL West champs to be!

I'm hoping the Whitesax honk. First, I cannot stand paper tigers (although I do sympathize often with underdogs). I dunno why that is, but it has been the case ever since I heard all the chatter about Temple hoops in 1988 -- a team that simply stank except for Mark Macon. I've said since they're early start that the White Sax are paper tigers: no hitting, ok defense, no bullpen, overachieving pitching (other than Buerhle and Garcia). They were the 2001 Mariners of this year -- and the M's crashed and burned in the 2001 playoffs.

Second, I cannot stand Reinsdorf because I still blame his recalcitrance for the '94 strike (then he signed Albert Belle for a ridiculous amount of money after griping about payrolls).

Third, I think Ozzie Guillen's shtick is obnoxious. He's just a step shy of Larry Bowa on the nut-o-meter. The players will backlash against this in a year or two.

Fourth, I prefer the Indians to the White Sax just because I like how they've played, rebuilt, traded, and operated. My buddy Luskerdu would be out of his head with glee if the Indians made the postseason. Indians' fans are the third-longest suffering fans in baseball after Cubs and WhiteSax fans, and their ownership has actually tried to win (or built toward it) for more than a decade and a half -- something the Cubs and Whitesax have not.

So I'll root for the Indians as long as the Yanks make the postseason. But if push comes to shove, my pinstripes always show.

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