Record for the Week: 4-2 (28 RA, 36 RS)
Overall: 85-56 (1st Place, 10 games ahead of Boston)
Player of the Week: Randy Johnson. Seven one-hit innings are a feat, even if they came against Kansas City. On the pitching side of the ledger, Chien Ming Wang was 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings last week. On the hitters' side of the ledger, Jorge Posada hit .421/.450/.947 for the week, with a team-leading 3 homers and 9 RBI. Robinson Cano .435/.480/.696 and Derek Jeter .407/.393/.630 also had an outstanding time against the Royals and Orioles, each with three doubles and one homer.
Dregs of the Week: Cory Lidle needed some extra ice cream this week, giving up six runs in less than two innings. Ron Villone continues to be ineffective, surrendering three runs over a single inning's work this week; and Kyle Farnsworth allowed two homers in just two innings last week. Bobby Abreu was in a bit of a rut last week, .167/.304/.222; in limited playing time Jason Giambi was feeling the effects of a bad wrist (.091/.286/.182) and Bernie Williams (.143/.200/.143) had a week to forget.
Story of the Week: Mariano Rivera took the week off, and the Yankees--playing non-contenders and not worried about their division lead--survived. The thing now is to make sure the Sandman and his teammates are ready for October. With not much grist for a cohesive essay, we'll just read off some headlines, and quick thoughts Old WTDB-style:
You Stay Classy, David Ortiz!
Ortiz Raps HR, MVP Voting (Boston Globe--Gordon Edes)
Now, I've always treated Big Papi with the utmost respect. Ever since he left Minnesota, he's had a reputation as a clubhouse leader and a good guy. Despite the fact that he kills my team, I like him. That's why, when I read this article, I figure that he made a mistake--probably one fueled by a reporter working hard to get the most salacious angle possible. Not a mistake believing that he's a legit MVP candidate, despite the Red Sox dramatic fall from grace, not even a mistake thinking that he's a better MVP candidate than Derek Jeter. Anyone with 50 homers and 127 RBI is an MVP candidate. I have Jeter a bit ahead of Ortiz, and (as I revealed in Today's GotW) Joe Mauer ahead of them both. But that doesn't matter. Ortiz shouldn't feel ashamed of wanting the award or thinking that he's worthy.
No, the problem is that, in trying to put down Jeter, Ortiz took a giant, steaming dump on his teammates. "Let him try to do it in this lineup"? That's gall--the Boston lineup has put the second-most baserunners in the AL on base in front of Big Papi. (Who comes up with the most runners on? A-Rod, of course.) He sees strikes in clutch situations because he has perhaps the best all-around hitter in the league, Manny Ramirez, batting behind him. The next time Ortiz wants to talk to reporters about his high RBI totals, he should show some appreciation for all the other players on his team who make that possible.
Jeter, who was adept at handling New York's muckraking press while Ortiz was still in the Florida State League, had the perfect response to this bunk: "I don't have to do it in his lineup. I'm not thinking about the MVP right now. We're thinking about winning a division. We've still got something to play for." No mention of the fact that the division Jeets is thinking about winning is Ortiz's division. No bragging about his stats. No "count the rings." Just a curt "let me get back to work."
UPDATE: Reportedly, Ortiz has straightened things out with Jeter. It's not Jeter he should be worrying about, it's his teammates. While he can say that his comments about the MVP and Jeter were taken out of context--some of those quotes did seem a little strange--I doubt there's any context in which "Let him try to do it in this lineup" is complementary to his fellow Red Sox, who not only toil to make him look good in the lineup, but who also have to take the field to help the team win.
You Want Me On That Green Monster! You Need Me On That Green Monster!
You Don't Know Jack (New York Magazine--Logan Hill)
You can cast a Yankee fan as a Boston mobster, but you can't make him wear a Red Sox lid. I thought Jack Nicholson was pretty damn cool before this mini-profile, now I think he should found his own political party. I'm also pretty excited to see The Departed, since it's Scorcese, and since some scenes for the movie were shot on my block.
Not knowing how serious a fan Nicholson was--and having just recently seen One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest for the first time in 20 or so years--I wonder if the scene where McMurphy makes up the play-by-play of Game 2 of the 1963 World Series was scripted, or if Jack's inner Yankee fan took over, and he ad-libbed the story of the Yanks whuppin' Koufax.
Anyone out there know?
But Do They Have Cannolis?
Rizzuto Fights On In Latest Battle (NY Post--Kevin Kernan)
Hat tip to Repoz over at BTF, pointing out this article about the Scooter, who's dealing with some serious health problems, but who still seems to be the life of the party, even in a rehab center. Rizzuto is my favorite Yankee announcer, ever, and possibly my favorite TV announcer, period. Simply the best. He didn't have the best voice, he wasn't the most knowledgeable or the most organized. He wasn't smooth. He was--and I presume, still is--an unapologetic homer.
But all these traits, which would lead a person to think that Scooter was an unprofessional dolt, actually stood to his favor. What Rizzuto brought to the table--and so many other announcers don't--is a sense of joy about the game. Year after year, through thousands of games he called, Rizzuto always made you feel like he was happy to be at the ballpark, and that you should be happy to be watching the ballgame. His job wasn't to educate, or to preach, or to analyze. His job was to entertain, and to remind you that baseball is fun. What a concept.
So here's wishing a speedy recovery to ol' number 10. Old Timer's day isn't the same without you, and don't even get me started about the broadcast booth...
Bye Bye, Kitty
Kaat's Meow (NY Daily News--Bob Raissman)
Apparently, Friday is Jim Kaat's last turn behind the mike for the YES Network. As I said in an email when I first noticed this story, I think Kaat's the best thing about the Yankees' broadcasts, a nice combination of broadcasting skills, with the independence to say critical things about the organization or the players, on occasion, and to butt heads with some of his more pompous booth-mates. Al Leiter shows the potential to replace Kitty's insight--and the ability to occasionally pop Michael Kay's bubble, when Kay gets too full of himself--but Leiter's announcing skills aren't yet to the point where he can consistently stand toe-to-toe with someone like Kay, or like Murcer can sometimes be. Kaat will definitely be missed.
By the way, am I the only one that finds Raissman's attitudes about youth sports (see the bottom of the article, in his "Dweeb of the Week" section) too stupid to be believed? An idiot goes berzerk in a youth football game, and we should supposedly ban Little League, or adult participation in Little League (no coaches, parents, or spectators, we suppose), or something like that. That's logical...