Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cano K.O.

I guess I should start by telling the Red Sox trolls not to worry. The Yanks are still extremely, massively out of position to win the division. More importantly, the division is a bit irrelevant. Sure, it's nice to have home field advantage for a round or so, but you can go ahead and ask David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez if their rings are any less real because they earned them from the Wild Card spot.

So the game for the Yanks isn't really looking at Boston. It's Seattle, and Detroit, and to an extent Cleveland and L.A. So the big news for the Yanks is that they've won three in a row, while the M's were getting swept by the Angels, and the Tigers were dropping two of three in Kansas City. That the three wins came against the Red Sox is good--it's more of the tough part of the schedule out of the way--but it's not much more meaningful than that.

I mean, even after a sweep the Red Sox lead is five. The Yankees could sweep them again in their next series, in a couple of weeks at Fenway, and it still it wouldn't matter so long as the Sox stay even with the Yanks in all their other matchups.

But still, you have to think that Wednesday's win, and the 5 1/3 no-hit innings he threw at the Sox were big for Roger Clemens. It wasn't so many weeks ago that Sox fans were bragging about how happy they'd be to see the Rocket a broken down old man playing out the end of his career in front was it that Bill Simmons put it? "Twelve thousand fans watching an under-.500 ballclub?"

So that must have felt nice for him. Today's win must have felt nice for the Wormkiller, pitching wonderfully with what looked like a sizeable Taiwanese contingent catching the afternoon action. This time, too, it looked like we were in for a special day, until the whole thing was undone by the Captain, who looked like he rushed a throw to catch the slow-as-molasses Mohel of Swat (as Steven Goldman once dubbed him) Kevin Youkilis.

It was definitely a good day for Robinson Cano, whose two dingers were pretty much the offense against Curt Schilling. After a lackluster first half (and that's putting it kindly) Cano's come on with a vengeance. He's one of the most perplexing pieces of this team--he obviously nonchallants some plays, some game, even. Then, just as you get frustrated with him, he'll put on some bizarre bit of hustle. Or he'll hit the ball like it was slow-pitch softball.


On to the notes:

Schilling, to his credit, really did a good job aside from the blasts he gave up to Cano. Wang was just better, and the Yanks were able to put the game away against the vaunted Red Sox bullpen.

Yes, Youkilis was out in the seventh. YES kept on showing the rule on running outside the baseline to avoid a tag Rule 7.08--but I think they had an old copy of the rule book. (I can't be sure. I was watching the game with the sound off--my wife and I work at home together, and while I will sometimes turn on the TV during the workday, it would be a total breach of etiquette to subject her to Michael Kay.) Rule 7.08, which was re-written during the off-season, specifies that the player can't go more than three feet away from his baseline--that is, the straight line from the path he is running when the play happens to the base he's trying to reach. In the replays, you see Youkilis running on the outfield side of the baseline, then dramatically swerved all the way to the infield grass. If you consider where he started the play, Youkilis wasn't just barely out of the baseline, he was a good 5-6 feet out of his personal baseline.

To answer three other questions--yes, Alex Rodriguez should have gone for the around-the-horn DP, although that's 20/20 hindsight; yes, Youkilis was safe on his first set of evasive maneuvers, avoiding Giambi's tag on Jeter's error; and no, I don't think Joba was throwing at the Basepaths Ninja in the ninth inning. I don't have a psychic link to Chamberlain or anything, but his demeanor didn't seem like he was throwing at someone. He looked puzzled after both of the high/inside pitches--sure maybe he was asking himself "why didn't that hit him in the head?" but it just didn't look like that kind of party.

Speaking of Joba, can anyone tell me if there was theme music for this appearance? I'd read a disturbing story from Peter Abraham that Joba had requested "Indian Outlaw" by Tim McGraw as his entrance music. Based on the snippet of the song I heard on iTunes, I sure hope someone had the wisdom to veto that selection. This is New York baseball, not the Country Music Awards--I don't think that listening to McGraw drawl out a rhyme between "outlaw" and "choctaw" really send the message,"Here comes a complete and total badass to shut your offense down."

Yes, I know Joba's a Native American, and likely a country music fan, to boot. Quite honestly, I think things got out of control when the position players got to pick the music that plays before their at bats. It puts the whole thing backward--the music at the ballpark is for the fans, not the players. Given his choice, do you think that Mariano Rivera would ever have selected "Enter Sandman" as his music. He's made it clear that he didn't know from Metallica before hearing it every day on his run in from the bullpen.

Whoever chose the music for him, made a good choice. I hope someone makes a good choice in entrance music for Joba. I keep thinking that if he wants to honor his heritage with his entrance music, there has to be a song that would actually get a New York crowd excited, that accomplishes that purpose, too. I just couldn't think of any cool pop or rock songs about Native Americans. If you have any ideas in that regard, use the comments section (that's what it's there for!).

1 comment:

Tillerman said...

Just discovered your blog. Great stuff. Added it to my RSS reader.

On the Youklis play, the rule actually says: Any runner is out when he runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.

So you are right in your interpretation of the need to work out how far the runner deviated from his personal baseline. But to be out he has to do that "to avoid the tag". It looked to me that Youklis took one step away from A-Rod to avoid the tag (which may have been three feet) then went on to the infield grass (maybe six feet from his baseline by now) after passing A-Rod and well after the tag attempt had failed. Is the runner still avoiding the tag when he is well past the fielder? I dunno.

Anyway, I assume the umpires know how to interpret the rules better than you or me, and hope they got it right this time.