Saturday, June 02, 2007

All Fired Up

Behold, the Yankees may have some life after all. After slumbering through a five-game losing streak, and watching the division lead swell to 14 ½ games, the Yankees have rallied for two straight wins, and showed the charisma and fight in the process that was missing all season.

The Bombers responded to consecutive offensive blackouts in Toronto by skipping batting practice and putting five runs on the board in the first. However, the signature moment came in the ninth inning when A-Rod broke one of those unwritten baseball rules, by distracting the Toronto third baseman as he ran by forcing Howie Clark to drop the ball. Tempers flared, A-Rod and exchanged words with the Jays infield, and then Giambi engaged in an animated discussion with the catcher during the next at bat.

While A-Rod’s play is clearly bush league, assuming the varying accounts of the incident are correct, the aftermath is what the Yanks needed. Controversy that sparks the team, not an injury, or a speech from the absentee owner, but an on-field spark unites the team.

Torre is doing his part. Forget the team meeting last week. The usually reserved Torre blindly defends his players through thick and thin, but this time he threw A-Rod under the bus, admitting his actions belonged more in a schoolyard than a major league ball field. A small statement showing Torre is not going to fade into the night.

Last night, with the Yankees well in front, the umpires ran Torre after he argued the blown safe call on Bobby Abreu’s stolen base attempt twice. When has Torre ever argued a call twice? I am convinced someone spiked his green tea with caffeine, or perhaps amphetamines. Torre showed an animated side rarely displayed in his mostly benign 11-year tenure. Does a manager ejection always spark a team? No, but Torre’s display this week shows if the Yanks go down, they will go down swinging, led by Torre.

Fast-forward to the ninth inning, and intentional or not, kudos to Scott Proctor for finally putting a Red Sox hitter on the ground. I do not condone head-hunting, and it certainly appears Proctor saw a bullseye on Youklis’ helmet, but how long have New York fans and media called for a Yankee pitcher to throw inside against Boston.

The Yankees have failed to capitalize on momentum swings the last few times they strung wins together. These wins were different. They showed heart and emotion. You could feel Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez type intensity for a change. The key is bringing it to the park everyday, and displaying it on the field without requiring an ejection or brush back pitch to incite emotions.

Emotional outbursts aside, remembering how to hit also helps. Boston throws the best they, and the league, has to offer the next two days, in Schilling and Beckett. Where the Yanks stand Monday, heading to Chicago for Clemens’ debut, after two more big tilts with Boston, will be telling.

…Jason Giambi heads to the 15-day DL, and the rumblings around baseball make the DL stay sound much longer term. The foot injury has hampered Giambi much of the season, slowing him down on the bases, if that was possible given his pathetic natural foot speed, hurting his numbers at the plate, and all but eliminating him from the field. With the steroid investigation looming, and Giambi mired in a month-long slump, the Yanks are better of without him. As I previously mentioned, Giambi is useless against good pitching, and brings nothing to the table, except as a threat. Clearing the albatross from the lineup, and the distraction from the clubhouse, should help the Yanks. If Melky Cabrera, who indirectly becomes an everyday player, can recapture his 2006 form, and Torre continues his trend of putting runners in motion more often, the Yankees stand to improve offensively and defensively, resembling the teams from the late 90’s more than with Giambi


Post a Comment

<< Home