YANKEES GETTING BESTED once again by Red Sox this afternoon, 6-3. For anyone still so untroubled by factual evidence to need more proof that the Boston curse has indeed been reversed, and that this is again just not the Yankees year, like the 7 or 8 previous seasons, these two games -- last night's lifeless 6-0 loss and this afternoon's almost predictable blowing of an early 3-run advantage -- should suffice to dampen even the most optimistic Yankees fans' spirits.
For example, the Yankees had managed to load the bases against Josh Beckett in the bottom of the 4th, but then up to the plate strode the human groundout, Jose Molina, he of the perpetual 0-3 hitting collar. No surprise that he bounced out meekly to 2nd base end the threat, nor could there have been much surprise that in the next frame, top of the 5th, with journeyman Darrell Rasner (4-6, 4.42 ERA) on the mound, the Sox took their 3-run lead on a HR by Mike Lowell, former property of the Yankees in a long-gone era.
Molina is a sorry excuse for a major leaguer, one of Cashman's typical pickups in recent years. In 150 at-bats, Jose, the worst of the many Molinas in major league baseball, is hitting .230 with as many HRs as I have: zip, zero, nada. There are American League pitchers who I'd rather see come up with men in scoring position. Anyone with a bat in his hand, I'll take my chances over Molina, as close to an automatic out as you will find in modern baseball.
Melke Cabrera is also killing the team lately. He hasn't hit a HR since mid-May, his average is down to .244, and in 290 at-bats, he has just 17 extra-base hits. That punch-and-judy act won't cut it as a centerfielder, a power position. He's killed a ton of rallies hitting into double-plays, and it's time for another direction. I've seen enough of this guy to know he's not the long-term answer.
Speaking of not getting it done, I think I just heard the worst radio call in John Sterling's long, long career of mis-calls and butchered plays as a Yankees play-by-play man. I know worst is saying something, considering the number of wrong home run calls he's blundered over the years, all because of his hurry to go into his whole "It is high, it is far" schtick. This time, it was 3-1 Yanks, and the Red Sox had men on 2nd and 3rd when Kevin Youkilis hit a long drive to left. "Oh, great catch by Johnny Damon!" screamed Sterling. I had time to pump my fist and think, alright, out of the inning, still got the lead.
But then seconds pass and finally Sterling sees that the ball is in fact rolling on the grass, and Youkilis standing on 3rd base, and tells us it's a triple, 2 runs in, tie game. Of course Sterling goes into excuse mode, couldn't see where the glove was, blah blah blah. You would think a guy with his history of getting it wrong would just wait a beat until he was sure what the hell was going on before conveying information to the millions listening on radio. But nooooooooo....
To add injury to insult, Damon is shaken up on the play and is forced from the game. Sterling should be fired after this year, and he can take his companero Suzyn "Oh My Goodness" Waldman with him. Sterling's got a great trademark game-ending call after big Yankees wins, I'll admit that, but it's the 3 hours of absolute ineptitude leading up to it that he should be forced to answer to.
Tampa Bay keeps winning, 20 games over .500, in first place, all with a $43 million payroll. Cashman has roughly 5 times that amount, and yet Yankees fans are subjected year after year to the likes of Molina, LaTroy Hawkins (5.94 ERA), Kyle Farnsworth (39 hits and 15 walks in 37 innings), Kei Igawa (13.50 ERA, 13 hits in 4 innings, millions of wasted dollars), Ross Ohlendorf (50 hits and 19 walks in 40 innings)... Another thing while I'm at it, and no one has ever been any more at it, at least not to my knowledge. Major League Baseball, as it usually does, really blew it this year with interleague play. I have always been a big fan of it, but this year it just came way too early. We had the first 3 Mets-Yanks game way back in May, and then last week the second set, and now that's it for the year. Nothing after the All-Star game except a make-up game with the Pirates. That's just dumb. Nothing to look forward to.
Not only that, but this was easily the worst slate of games the Yankees have been handed, with no real ties or rivalries to speak of. Okay, so the Pittsburgh tie-in with the 1960 World Series was legit, but the Astros, Padres, Reds. There's the 1976 World Series with the Reds, a 4-0 sweep by Cincy, not a happy memory for Yankees fans, and the 1998 W.S. with San Diego, a capper to the Yankees incredible 125-50 season. But those are stretches, and I don't see any connection whatsoever with the Astros, except that Pettitte and Clemens pitched there for a few seasons.
Well, still 6-3 Sox, but Yankees fans just had the best news we could have hoped for: rain. John Sterling gets a chance to shut his mouth for a while, listeners get a break. And Yankees get a chance to line up their pitching rotation to make a run at the Sox and Rays. Look out world, here comes Sidney Ponson. Maybe Cashman still has David Wells' number somewhere.But in all seriousness, this series with the Sox could be the proverbial nail in the coffin for this Yankees team. Yes, it's still technically early, but all that means is things could just as easily get much worse before they get any better at all. I know they're not catching the Red Sox, but what odds would you give they catch Tampa Bay, which sits 3 games ahead of Boston and has all the earmarks of a special team having a special season. In fact, the team the Rays remind me of, and the National League style ball they play, is the 1996 Yankees: a hungry, fast, aggressive, complete club that played with an edge. Can you say anything of the sort about the 2008 version of the New York Yankees? Of course you can't. Case closed. Season over. Yankees, at least this year, do not win.