Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 16, 2007
BASEBALL: Yankeez Rool
Posted by Dr. Manhattan
Notwithstanding their three-game losing streak culminating (hopefully) in tonight's beat-down by Detroit, I remain confident that the Yankees will win the wild card. I never really lost hope this season, in large part because - as David Pinto pointed out - even at their nadir, the Yankees were never playing as badly as their record indicated. Their blistering streak in July and August was a combination of reversion to the mean and a long stretch against the AL's dregs.
1) I don't believe there is anything wrong with Mariano that a few days off won't cure. Historically, he often has a streak in July or August where he blows a number of games in quick succession, before reverting to normal. (Yankee fans will have a hard time forgetting this one, for example.) I believe it's a software bug.
2) Check out this Hardball Time piece comparing the mechanics of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. I have no capability to judge pitchers' mechanics, but this is a nice argument to be having.
3) For all Met fans or Yankee-hater readers of this blog: Regardless of your pinstripe aversion, make sure to watch Chamberlain's appearances as often as you can. The excitement over each next great fireballer is something that transcends team-specific loyalties. I speak from experience: notwithstanding his role in knocking the Yankees out of the playoffs last year, if you don't like watching Joel Zumaya pitch, you just don't like baseball. Chamberlain may be in the same category.
(Permit me to channel Bill Simmons for a moment: shouldn't the title of baseball's hardest thrower should be a recognized championship, like the heavyweight champion in boxing? Prior to his tendon injury, Zumaya was the unquestioned champion. Shouldn't this be tracked regularly?)
4) I have no patience whatsoever for the constant (thankfully, less so in the last couple of months) "is-he-or-isn't-he" speculation as to A-Rod and his contract. This is a matter for a much longer post, but the way A-Rod has been treated over the last several years by the media is nothing short of shameful.
If the Yankees don't make the playoffs, the season could follow one of two historical tracks. One would be 1979 - an off-year in the midst of a championship-level run. The other would be 1965 - the permanent collapse of a dynasty. There is nothing that could make the Yankees more likely to follow the 1965 pattern than allowing A-Rod to leave after the season. (The Yankees' resurgent farm system has not yet produced any position-player prospects likely to help in the next few years.) I believe the Yankee front office is smart enough to realize that and to calculate the value of the Rangers' money offsetting A-Rod's over the next three years. Absent an early Yankees playoff exit and a media lynch mob, I expect an extension to occur with relatively little fanfare.