Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On the wrong side of the DMZ

I have my flak jacket on.

I've got my asshole spray and my bullshit repellant in hand.

I'm ready to view the Indians-Yankees series from the wrong city.

Let's start by getting a taste of what Yankee fans - the most knowledgable fans in the country, just ask them - have to say about the upcoming Indians-Yankees series.

This guy, quoted by my local paper The Journal News (northern NYC suburbs), has what I would say is the typical take of Yankee fans:

"They aren't going up against the Angels, which is a crazy-match team for them and can exploit a lot of their weaknesses. Going up against the Indians, I think they have a way better chance of advancing to the championship series."

The paper also quoted a fellow in his '80s. Someone a little older, maybe even wiser:

"The Yanks have got this great lineup hitting, but after about the fifth inning, I get worried about the pitching,"

But then he kept talking:

"If they can get by the Red Sox - I'll assume that they're going to win the first shot with Cleveland - I like to think they can go all the way."

And only a Yankee fan would say this:

"I think they're probably going to do OK. I would like to see them win again. They haven't been in the World Series for a little while now."

Not since 2003 you poor, suffering souls!!!

To read the full article click here.

I've got three mostly grown Yankee fans living in my own house and they are not saying much. I warned them - strongly - not to. Not if they want to keep a roof over their head. My younger son is a sports writer for his college paper. He was assigned to assess the AL playoffs. He picked the Yankees in five. I really think that he thinks it will be three. But he's afraid I'll change the locks on him before his next visit home if he writes that. (The bylines on the school Web site are reversed. He did write the AL previews).

Next to the fans, and in some cases even moreso, the toughest people to stomach here are the newspaper columnists. Most have been busy killing off any last cells of dignity that remain on the wretched heap known as the Mets. I'm sure they will get into lacerating the Tribe soon enough.

Steven Goldman of The Sun has the fairest appraisal of the series that I've seen around here so far.

He makes a good point that I don't think I've read before:

"The Yankees have a vulnerability to the Indians' lineup, and that is their lack of a left-handed specialist in the bullpen. After releasing Mike Myers in early August, the Yankees elected to do without this normally overrated part of every modern bullpen. The decision could have a major one: Hafner and Sizemore are left-handed, while Martinez is a switch-hitter who is a better hitter from the left side of the plate. All three are less effective against southpaws. But apart from Andy Pettitte's start, or a redefinition of Ron Villone's role, the Yankees won't be able to take advantage."

Still, he comes to the predictable conclusion:

"The pick here is Yankees in five: an all-time great hitting attack overcoming good, but not great, pitching."

David Waldstein of the Newark Star-Ledger took some time to recall my favorite sports moment since I moved to NYC more than 20 years ago - the 1997 ALDS. (Thank you AGAIN Sandy Alomar!!)

One thing to watch is the Yankee fans' reaction to ARod if he happens to leave a runner or two on base in Game 1. He is under a microscope here for his failures in ALDSs past - at least the ones that saw him wearing pinstripes.

The Yankees come into the series limping more than a little. Centerfielder Melky Cabrera, DH/1B Jason Giambi and leftfielder Hideki Matsui slumped most of September. And the injury bug is biting.

Matsui had fluid drained from his knee and will see action as the DH instead of the outfield, meaning Johnny Damon - also not 100% physically - will be out in left.

As for Matsui, he may lose his DH duties in the first game to local cult hero Shelley Duncan. Joe Torre thinks the righty Duncan might have a better time with CC. Duncan - son of former Tribe catcher Dave Duncan - came up in July and made a splash by hitting three homers in his first 12 at-bats over two days and displaying an endearing I-really-want-to-be-here attitude. He since has shown a big hole in his swing, and if you want to match him up with CC, well that's fine by me.

The Yankee bullpen - the middle of it at least - is a mess, though it's lights-out in the eigth and ninth with Joba Chamberlain and Mariano. But if Clemens or Hughes or Mussina get knocked around early the pen is a major liability. In fact, two September call-ups are likely to make the pen and one guy who was around all year has already been sent packing.

In addition, late-inning reliever Kyle Fransworth heard a "pop" in his hip while pitching over the weekend. He remained in the game but gave up a homer to the next batter before getting through the rest of the inning. The Yankees say he'll be fine. Many Yankee fans are hoping he won't.

In one final sign that things may not be breaking so well for the Yanks, legendary P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard missed a few weeks in September with laryngitis. His return for the playoffs is also up in the air.


moose said...

so here we are the night before the playoffs - the local paper PD compared the teams position for position and yankees outgraded indians at every position except DH, C, and CF and SP. Only surprise is they think the yanks bullpen is better.

tomorrow is a MUST WIN for the tribe - dont care what anyone says
cleveland has been saying we are a better team, they have not faced CC etc..

IF tribe loses it will destroy confidence.

good luck with the yankee fans - even those in your house !!!!

Ron Vallo said...

my wife, who cares nothing about the Yankees-Indians, and equally for each member of her family (I think) has already announced plans to go to a movie tomorrow and has other plans for Sunday. Friday is the only night she hasn't figured out a way out of the crossfier - yet.