Monday, September 04, 2006

First Tiggers, Now Twinkies...Who's Next? Ho-Hos?

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor after the sneak attack.

I'd apologize for the delay in posts, but since I do have a life to tend to and I'm not being paid for this....

While there is some debate about whether Yamamoto actually said those words, there is no question that the quote can apply to great athletes in their prime as easily as an Industrial Power like the United States. Better to just let sleeping dogs lie. Piss them off enough, and there'll be hell to pay.

A-Rod's recent tear tells me that he's having his personal chef cook some shit sandwiches for the media to be distributed if the Yankees win a World Series. Get ready to take a bite, Lupica.

It could be a very scary September if he keeps this up. I love how people say that he hits meaningless home runs. Talk to any major league manager and they'll tell you that no homerun is meaningless. If you have a decent offensive team and you're down 5-1 in the seventh, you still think you have a chance. Someone hits a three run jack that makes it 8-1, you're thinking about what clubs you're hitting tonight.

Or let's say you're up 11-1 and your bullpen burps and all of a sudden it's 11-9. Are those homers meaningless now? Particularly when you're facing these deep AL lineups. No lead is safe. What the NL calls piling on, the AL calls Full Coverage.

That's why having Alex right is so important. Because you never know when the tires go flat on the bullpen Volvo and you need someone who can change a spare.

I like a 2-1 win as much as anyone. I enjoy a well-pitched game. But in the AL, where some teams have 8-9 hitters with 15-20 homers and catchers hitting .350, it's not a bad idea to have guys that can drive themselves in.

10 years ago, teams like the Twins, Tigers and Angels would be considered offensive powerhouses. Now they're average to slightly above average hitting teams. It's the reason why as happy as I am that we beat Detroit and Minnesota four out of six this week (should have been five), I didn't get the same feeling of giddyness as I would the White Sox, the Mets or Boston when they were healthy.

Against those teams, I'm flipping a coin on whether we beat them four out of seven. The Tiggers and Twinkies? I like both teams, but I think even with Liriano and Maroth healthy, we find a way to win a short or long series. Seriously. I think for all our flaws, that this lineup when it's right is the best in baseball hands down. And it could get even deeper if you throw Matsui and Sheff in the mix. I think our pitchers will pitch well enough to win.

An angry pissed off A-Rod is exactly what we want going into October. We want him with a chip on his shoulder. Not too big that he doesn't relax, but big enough to want to prove a point.

This year for Alex could be like Reggie's in '77. Rodriguez didn't have it as tough as Reggie did. The manager and the Captain of the team couldn't stand him and neither could most of his teammates. The fans got on him as well. So when Reggie struggled that year he had to come out of it all on his own. Three homers later in October. He's the definition of grace under fire.

A-Rod and Jeter's "professional" relationship aside, A-Rod doesn't have nearly the problems with the team as Reggie did. But he does have a lot to prove in terms of whether he can perform on the Fall Stage. Let's hope this tear is the start of something good for Alex and the Yankees.

Now they're off to KC, who have been playing Giant-killers lately. The top of the rotation is scheduled for the three game set which means that the back is scheduled for Camden Yards this coming weekend. With the way Karstens, Lidle and Rasner pitched this weekend, I'm a little less worried about a let down against the O's. This could mean that we can finally go on a little winning streak. One that would cement the east and enable Torre to rest some guys. It will be interesting to see what happens if Torre sees that the Tiggers are in striking distance for homefield. Does he make that extra push or does he rest guys and stay content with the second seed?

I think it will depend on what Oakland does. If they're close, I think Torre makes the push. If not, then he rests guys and goes into the playoffs as the second seed unless Detroit burps. The way things are set up, the Yankees wouldn't face Oakland in the first round regardless if they're one or two. They're guaranteed to face whooever win the Wildcard (Chicago or Minnesota). So why run the risk of getting guys hurt when you don't have to play them?

Personally, I'd love to see them get the first seed. But I can understand why Joe would exercise caution in this case.


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