Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hurricane Cliff Strikes the Bronx

For those of you left homeless and/or hopeless by the devastation Hurricane Cliff caused last night, it's probably no consolation that the sun is shining today. No consolation that yes, the Series will go on, at least for a few days more. No consolation that there's still a chance to even up the Series, no consolation that last night might be the last time we see Brian Bruney in 2009.

All you can think about is the horror. The sight of the Yankees never really being in the game, all on account of a pitcher they used to kick around pretty regularly for most of his career. Suddenly, last year he went from fringy finesse lefty to combine harvester of doom (as a professor of mine used to say), and last night he was so locked in that everything--crowd, drizzle, batters, batted balls--was just a nuisance.

As I said on Twitter, it was a lousy feeling. It made me recall the last time I felt so bad about Game 1 of the World Series--back in 1996. Like this time, we were facing an NL team touted for its starting staff. Like last night, there was a player who looked like we wouldn't be able to get him out all series--that year Andruw Jones, this year Chase Utley--hitting a pair of dingers. And, I worry that, like the 1996 World Series, it may get worse before it gets better. AJ Burnett is going for the Yanks tonight, and unless the boys manage to show Pedro Martinez who his daddy is early and often, it'll be a night where I'm chowing down on antacids like they're tic tacs.

Still, the 1996 World Series turned out OK for Yankee fans. Keep the faith, and let's go Yankees.


Aside from Cliff Lee turning into an unstoppable creature from legend, the worst development last night was the continued downward spiral of Phil Hughes, whose postseason has been a completely different creature from his regular season in the pen. Hughes walked both batters he faced and barked at the umpire, even though he didn't come close to the plate with the majority of his offerings. Part of the problem, as Brother Joe notes today at Baseball Prospectus, is that Girardi changed the way he used Hughes, and it's not a fashion that complements Phil's style. Another issue is that Hughes looks like his mechanics are coming apart and his confidence is shot. They say George Steinbrenner was in the house last night, but I can't believe that's so. The George I grew up with would have gone to the clubhouse and fired Dave Eiland immediately after the game, if not earlier.

Not saying it would have been the right thing to do. Just saying that's what would've happened.

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