Monday, July 16, 2007

Week In Review: 96 Hours in Tampa

Week 15: July 12-15, 2007

Record for the Week: 3-1, 24 RS, 19 RA
Overall: 45-44, 7 games behind Cleveland for the Wild Card, 4th in line

The Breakdown:
7/12 -- Yankees 7, Devil Rays 3
Solo homers from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Bobby Abreu in the fourth inning power Andy Pettitte over Jamie Shields. Lesson learned: Bobby Abreu (3 hits, including the homer, 3 RBI) could be the key player of the second half. If he can hit like a star player again, The Yankee lineup can resemble the murderer's row we were expecting at the beginning of the season.

7/13-- Yankees 4, Devil Rays 6
The new, no-strikeout version of Roger Clemens gets smacked up for 5 runs in five innings, walking 4 and striking out 2; late homers by Matsui and Posada are too little, too late. Lesson learned: The Yankees suck against lefthanders, take 15--Scott Kasmir dominated while he was on the mound.

7/14-- Yankees 6, Devil Rays 4
Bobby Abreu returns to the #3 hole in the lineup, and celebrates with a homer and 5 RBI. Wang is sharp in seven innings of work. Lesson learned: While the Yanks were winning, the Rays were benefiting from the services of Carlos Pena(3 RBI, a homer and a double), whom the Yanks had in the minors last season. Pena has more homers (22) than anyone in the Yankee lineup, other than A-Rod. Lesson learned: You can find hitting talent at the first base side of the defensive spectrum, but you have to be dilligent. We'll see if the Yanks' gold-panning with Erubiel Durazo works out any better.

7/15-- Yankees 7, Devil Rays 6
Mike Mussina tried emulating Clemens's pitch-to-contact strategy (11 hits, 2 walks, and no Ks in 6 innings) courting disaster. It took some sweet hitting by Derek Jeter and Andy Phillips for the Yankees to pull out the series win. Lesson learned: Ron Villone entering a close ballgame? Bad idea.

Player of the Week: Bobby Abreu (.375/.375/.875) and Hideki Matsui (.333/.333/.778) share the honors. Each of the cornermen had two homers and two doubles in the way short week. Mariano Rivera gets an honorable mention with three scoreless innings and two saves; shoutout to Luis Vizcaino with three perfect appearances.

Dregs of the Week: Robinson Cano (.167/.214/.167) had four crappy games in Florida. Roger Clemens got beat down by the scrappy, speedy Rays for a dishonorable mention.

Story of the Week: There's a moment in the Princess Bride when our hero, Wesley, is recovering from being dead all day. He received a miracle cure, but he's still completely paralyzed from his ordeal, he and his friends are outnumbered 60-3, and he's only got a matter of minutes to figure out how to stop the marriage of his true love to his hated foe, Prince Humperdinck.

So when one of his companions excitedly notes that he's managed to shake his head all on his own, Wesley snaps back "You think a little head jiggle is supposed to make me happy, hmmm?"

The Yankees have been declared dead. With the Red Sox's hot start, the Indians and the Tigers playing leapfrog with the AL Central lead and the Wild Card, surprising success in Seattle and not-so-surprising success in Minnesota, much of the season has been spent planning the Bombers' funeral. Most area and national baseball writers have been rehearsing some sort of eulogy all year, just in case, y'know, someone asks them to speak.

But it turns out that the only baseball story that would be bigger than the Yankees' funeral, apparently, would be their miraculous resurrection. So it's become the popular dark-horse pick--if you don't mind mixed-metaphor oxymorons--for commentators to say that the Pinstripers might just get back in the race. "They could make some noise. They're still basically a sound team."

In other words, with apologies to Billy Crystal and William Goldman, "They're not dead, they're only mostly dead."

That may be the case. The Yanks could still transform themselves into the team we've been expecting all year. But even if they did, they're running out of time. If there were 100 games left in the season, I'd look at 7 games back of the Wild Card and think its doable. But the Yankees frittered away another 26 games treading water at .500.

So even if we're not going through the Yankees' double-knits for loose change (the only thing you can do with a ballclub if they're all dead), a bit of skepticism is called for. You think one little game over .500 is supposed to make me happy, hmmm?

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