Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pinstripers Oaklanding

Opening Day opened and closed, leaving the Bombers one win richer in Oakland. The Yanks victory was of the blowout variety, with the Yanks slapping Barry Zito like a redheaded stepchild in the second inning, to the tune of seven runs, including a grand slam by A-Rod. The Unit managed to keep the affair from becoming suspenseful by allowing only five hits over his seven innings of work, and the only run on a solo jack by the Big Hurt. In all, it was good for a 15-2 win over the top team in Baseball Prospectus's preseason Hit List.

I feel bashful writing about this, since last night's game was covered up the wazoo. Over at BP, they ran a roundtable on last night's game, as well as the afternoon matchup between the Mets and Los Nationales. Home sick (yeah, still) I watched both games but didn't get my chat on with the BP boys (tough to do witty banter when you're slipping in and out of consciousness).

Also, Bill Simmons did a diary of Red Sox-Rangers tilt Monday afternoon, followed with a diary of Yanks/A's that night. Now, what is it that makes Red Sox fans do this? Sure, it's a chance to call Yankees players infantile names (and, if you're Simmons, to get paid for it), but how many Yankees bloggers (not big, influential columnists now, just bloggers) go out of their way to watch and document a Red Sox game, which has no bearing on their team?

It's like an ex-girlfriend who is very conspicuously dating someone new, yet obsessively knows every detail of your private life she can get her hands on. I thought you'd be over this by now. You've got your rings, now get your own identity to go with them.

I'm not going to go into the "there is no rivalry" riff, since that died in 2004 (maybe even 2003). When the teams are playing each other, I'll happily admit that it does mean more than your typical tilt against the Royals or Devil Rays. But given that the Yanks are stuck playing about 12% of their schedule against the Red Sox, I really don't care to see the Beantowners in their 143 other regular season games. I don't need to "check on the rivalry" during the few weeks of the season that don't feature a Yanks/Red Sox series.

Complaints aside, Simmons' piece is pretty funny.

A few notes on tonight's game:

Mike Myers is a one-trick pony (hey guys, it's coming belt-high or lower, and off a corner!). Still, it's a pretty neat trick.

Jeez, I'd forgotten how much Street's fastball moves. I pity the ump that has to figure out if that thing darted through the strike zone.

Man, they play shallow on Cano. On a fly to not-so-deep center field, Kotsay had to do some bigtime backpedalling to make the catch.

WHYWHYWHY is Scott Proctor in a tie game? Scott Walkamatic Proctor! Walks the first batter, of course! WHY!

I mean, yesterday the Yanks were up by fourteen runs. That was Scott Proctor Time! Not the tie game, when the next opposition run wins the game!

It'd kill Farnsworth to come out for one more inning? What about Sturtze? Why on Earth is Jaret Wright on the roster?

Sac bunt, intentional walk (why bother?), and a long double later, it's over. Four batters, twelve pitches, three strikes. The Proctor will see you now.

Bad, bad, stupid loss. Mussina gave the Yanks more than expected tonight. The Yanks got enough guys on base against Rich Harden and the A's bullpen (fifteen baserunners). Men in scoring position in each of the last three innings. They just couldn't convert. This game goes into the file of anyone who hates Alex Rodriguez--two hits and a run scored, but five men left on base, strikeouts with runners in scoring position in the first and seventh innings, getting caught off first base in the third inning. An ugly performance.

As much as I like Alex, as great a player as he is, people pitch to him. It's not like Ortiz, or Bonds, or Manny Ramirez, or Albert Pujols, where in big spots, you can see the pitcher saying "Where the heck am I going to pitch this guy?" and suddenly every pitcher becomes a nibbler, trying to stay away from the guy's power. Heck, Frank Thomas--a guy the A's picked up on liquidation sale--gets that type of respect from Mussina in the sixth.

I haven't seen anyone do that for Rodriguez as a Yankee. Pitchers seem to sweat Sheffield's at bats more than Alex's. Back-to-back reigning MVP, and there's still room for improvement.

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