One of the new Yankees who gives me "the Fear," Carl Pavano, made a good impression in his maiden pinstriped voyage against the Rosy-Hosed Bostons of, well...Boston.
OK, so much for the attempt at 19th Century baseball writing. Pavano looked good facing a Red Sox lineup that gave the Yanks fits last season. Carl got touched up by David Ortiz, but he got through 6 1/3 innings, surrendering only 2 runs and whiffing 7. His splitter was a much more impressive pitch than I expected.
On the down side, the Red Sox's "we own Rivera!" thing keeps going, as Jason Varitek--who at bat alternately looks like the girlfriend brought in to round out a softball team, or like an in-his-prime Mickey Mantle--hit a ninth inning bomb that tied the game at three. Luckily, Rivera escaped the inning, and Derek Jeter did some of that Captain Clutch thing, hitting a lead off, walk-off shot against Red Sox closer Keith Foulke.
Other negatives from the game--another Yankee who gives me "the Fear" is Bernie Williams. In the 4th inning, with a good shot to crack the game open--one out, bases loaded--Bernie tapped into a really weak 3-2-3 double play against John Halama. The bottom of the Yankee lineup--Giambi/Williams/Martinez/Womack--inspires a lack of confidence not seen in the Bronx since 1995 (remember Dion James batting 6th? Admit it, you wanted to forget).
Still the good news outweighs the negatives. Carl Pavano...I haven't wanted to be wrong about someone so badly since my first girlfriend, back in high school. The performance analyst in me thinks this is just a blip in this guy's career, that any moment he's going to wake up and be just a league-average innings-muncher. The fan in me, though, wants to believe that this is a guy that suddenly figured out how to be Greg Maddux, or Jamie Moyer.
That's the cool thing about getting a brand-new season. You get to dream for a little while. Enjoy it while it lasts.