Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the New York Yankees.

  1. Is this the year? It's 50-50 at least the Yankees will finally end up watching the post-season like the rest of us. They're depending on some hitters who are in inexorable decline.

    Jason Giambi might be "like a cat" at first base; unfortunately, the cat is Garfield.
  2. Girardi, destroyer of arms: It's been noted by plenty of people already, but three of manager Joe Girardi's starting pitchers from the 2006 Marlins team developed sore arms. That's who you want deciding when Joba Chamberlain (pictured) and Phil Hughes have had enough.
  3. How good is Joba? It's almost like he flew to New York from spring training in Florida without taking a plane. He'll average better than a strikeout an inning as a 22-year-old in his first full season. Anyone who can do that touches greatness if their team doesn't burn them out inside of five years.
  4. The Babe only tried to eat the outfield wall once: Take it from the blogfather, Will Leitch, who calls visiting Yankee Stadium "the biggest rip-off in all of sports" and describes as it having "the nostalgic architecture of an International House of Pancakes."

    (Our man Pete Toms has a different take on Yankee Stadium.)
  5. Derelict Jeter: All the cucumber slices and mud packs can't hide the wrinkles developing in the 34-year-old shortstop's game. He's still got another couple years before people really notice, but the signs are there -- less power, fewer steals.
  6. Taunt selectively: It works like this with which Yankees get booed. Jeter, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera are untouchables. Three of them have that whole supple arrogance of grace quality going for the, while Posada's just nails; you couldn't catch 120 games a year for 13 years and not be nails.

    The gloves are off when it comes to Giambi ("SHRUNK-en GO-nads! Dunh dunh duh duh dunh!"), Johnny Damon (declining badly and bailed on the Red Sox), Mike Mussina (crybaby suck) and A-Rod.
  7. Still OK to kick Clemens around: By Bill James' count, the Astros and Yankees were 32-36 in Roger Clemens' starts across the past three seasons.
  8. Pinstriped grief porn: There's something icky and discomforting about the Yankees' recent side trip to play a benefit game at Virginia Tech one year after those 33 students were massacred by a sick nut. What kind of group jumps at the chance to attach itself to such a gut-wrenching tragedy? The horror of that day goes way beyond a photo-op for a baseball team.

    It's like what Leitch says in his book about the Yankees' practice of playing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch, "If you wait, the ushers will actually chain your section closed so you cannot leave. Why? Because the Yankees Are More Patriotic Than You Are."

    It's irritating when a shallow patriotism -- any shallow ism -- is forced on people. Of course, it goes without saying that Paul Godfrey is big on playing God Bless America, which is a wretched song next to America The Beautiful, whenever the Yanks are playing at Rogers Centre).
  9. Need-to-know: Rightfielder Bobby Abreu is due for a bounce-back season as long as he's spotted against lefties, let's see how long the Yankees stick with the plan to throw the kid pitchers and the jury is still out on Mussina. The Yankees probably only make the playoffs as the wild card.

    They'll be back in full force over the next five years, though, having sunk a lot of money into some prized prospects, to say nothing of what they'll reap from doing business with China.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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