Friday, May 2, 2008

Accepting Mediocrity

Is it time to panic yet? No, I am not talking about whether Barack is losing his grip on the nomination or whether we are faced with the ever growing possibility of 4 more years under Republican dictatorship, I mean Republican rule. I am concerned about something much more critical than the fate of our country and of the world. I am worried about something that has not been seen for well over a decade. I think the Yankees may miss the playoffs.

I know that it is only May 2. I understand that things are never as dark as they may seem at a given moment (just look back at my post on the tumbling stock market, which has now risen a 1000 points since I wrote of my distress over the fate of my investments). I am aware that the Yankees were 21 wins and 29 losses at the 50 game mark last year and still managed to make the playoffs. But I don't even know half of the team that is now masquerading in the pinstripes, and those I do know, for the most part, have been anything but stellar.

Last night, for example, the starting pitcher was Ian Kennedy.He is a young pitcher who is supposed to have promise. Since when are those the people that are regulars in the Yankee starting rotation? Between Kennedy and Phil Hughes, a touted 21 year old, they take up 40% of all the starts and have combined for a grand total of 0 wins. They have seemingly gotten almost no one out and have rarely lasted more than 4 innings. They have left the mound time and again in a confused and beleaguered state. They have put inordinate pressure on the bulllpen and on the other 3 starters.

The bullpen has been, apart from Joba and the incomparable Mariano, remarkably mediocre. The middle relievers are nothing if not overused and underwhelming. Each night the team seems to throw out a succession of has beens, never was, or might possibly be some day in the future, to try to bridge the gap to get to the spectacular tandem for the 8th and 9th innings. Most nights, it doesn't work.

The remaining 3 starters are Wang, Pettite and Mussina. Wang has been a rock, and remains unbeaten. If anything were to happen to him the season would go down the toilet in a heartbeat. Pettite and Mussina are each approaching the end of very long and successful careers. Mussina, especially, seems to be pitching on fumes and always appears to be hanging on by a thread.

The struggles of the hitters is not much better. Whenever there are runners in scoring position, it seems the batter is unable to make solid contact with the easiest of pitches. Runners are left on base with staggering regularity.

Where has Robinson Cano disappeared? For a hitter who has been compared to Rod Carew, he looks more like Rodney Dangerfield at the plate. He don't get no respect because he don't deserve it.

A-Rod is on the disabled list. Posada is on the disabled list. Hughes is on the disabled list. Last night, Chad Moeller was catching, Morris Ensberg was at third base, and Shelley Duncan was at first base.. Murderer's Row this is not.

Jason Giambi looks like a human being again, and appears to have taken most of the steroid mass off his body. That is wonderful, but he is hitting well under .200. I wonder if he couldn't juice up just until he is hitting about .300, especially with the team struggling.

So we are left with a $200,000,000 payroll and a team in disarray. It appears too old and too young at the same time. It has no apparent core, and it certainly fails to intimidate opponents as it did in years past. It is a group without an identity at the moment and it appears like it is headed in a downward spiral.

But I know that one good homestand, or one spectacular series by a star, or the emergence of a new hero from among the apparent drek being paraded out on a nightly basis, and all this worrying may be misplaced. I have grown too used to success since 1995 to go gently into the night with this team. There must be a light at the end of this tunnel. For now, however, it appears to be pitch (and catch) dark.


Anonymous said...

Say it ain't so Robert. This piece sounds like it was written by a Mets fan!
As Yankee fans, we're not used to having to deal with growing pains. But, take heart, things will get better. Maybe they'll make the play-offs this year, maybe they won't. Either way, the Yankees will definitely be better positioned for next season.

Robert said...

who ever heard of the Yankees being better positioned for NEXT season?


Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. Just think about how much fun you and I would be having, being at games like this, with our "take 'em out", "He's so clutch" banter!

Robert said...

It's only funny when we are winning.


Unknown said...

Baseball teams all follow the same general strategy--the General Manager puts together a team that has incomparable pitching and unstoppable hitting. But playing against a mirror image of oneself can have interesting effects. Baseball's appeal is thus is the human element that dispels this 'know-how'. Played every day, its leisurely pace contradicts the idea of dominance unless careful management of players is utilized.

Robert said...

Bruce's comment is very intellectual ( and thus should have no place in these discussions, as it is way above all our heads).

I am happy that this post seems to have sparked some further communication. As for my ability to predict, the Yankees have just completed a 3 game annihilation of Seattle. I am thus officially NOT a source to be taken seriously.