April 30, 2007

Statement From "The Boss"

The baseball world has been waiting for George Steinbrenner to release a statement regarding his team's dismal performance. Below, is the much anticipated press release from "The Boss."

"The season is still very young, but up to now the results are clearly not acceptable to me or to Yankee fans. However, Brian Cashman our general manager, Joe Torre our manager and our players all believe that they will turn this around quickly. I believe in them. I am here to support them in any way to help them accomplish this turnaround. It is time to put excuses and talk away. It is time to see if people are ready to step up and accept their responsibilities. It is time for all of them to show me and the fans what they are made of. Let's get going. Let's go out and win and bring a world championship back to New York. That's what I want."

The operative word in the paragraph above is "quickly." The definition of that word is most likely the same for Steinbrenner and fans alike. "Quickly" means "this week." We all know how close Joe Torre came to being fired last October after the Yankee's stunning, early ejection from the post-season by the under-dog Tigers.

Yes, George Steinbrenner is older, believed to be ill, and not the same "Boss" who fired managers like it was a hobby before hiring Joe Torre. Yet, an old lion still knows how to bite, and muscle memory will afford him the strength to take of Torre's head and that of his coaching staff. It was Steinbrenner who taught his buddy Donald Trump to say "You're fired." though he hasn't utterd those words to one of his managers for a long time, it's still very easy to say, and a viable option. What else is Steinbrenner supposed to do in this situation? Take away Torre's dental insurance?

Torre's been on "double secret probation" of the kind issued by Dean Vernon Wormer from "Animal House" since last October. The statement above reflects Steinbrenner's last warning to his manager. Fans and reasonable baseball people all know that this (the Yankee's losing streak) really isn't Torre's fault, that he can't hit for the slumping Abreu, Damon, and Cano. He can't pitch any better that the rookies who've been making up his rotation for the last several weeks. It's not his fault that there isn't a lead big enough for the pitching staff to hold protect.. But, Torre is in charge of the players who are foundering in a sea of incompetence and injuries.

Desperate times require drastic measures, and firing Torre wouldn't be that drastic at all. Why? Because there is no end in sight, that’s why. Fans deserve to feel that help is on the way. Or, they need to feel that someone has to be held accountable. There’s plenty of emotion out there in Yankee land, and if fans are unhappy, they aren't as eager to charge into the stadium and fill seats, buy jerseys, eat food, etc. Though it is too early for fans to run away from the Bronx, screaming, and with their hands over their heads, they will do so soon if the team is still in last place behind the Devil rays come the middle of May. If you're a Yankees fan who pays attention to such details, that’s a statistic which better change, and change quickly.

Back In Business

Like any blogger working alone, Mr. Grudge had to take an extended hiatus due to matters involving family and employment. But, I am back, ready to tackle baseball and its many intriguing issues while it's still early in the season.

As a new blogger, this writer was uncertain how to cover the new baseball season. Right off the bat (no pun intended) I felt it was unnecessary to provide a complete analysis of each game as though I was there. Mr. Grudge is indeed and avid baseball fan, but there's no way I can watch or go to every single game. What is a better idea, and more practical is to provide opinion and analysis of the problems (or lack thereof) facing the team in question. In that way, a break of a few days offers the opportunity for a situation to develop, and knee-jerk reactions to situations such as a three game losing streak (or a seven game losing streak, Yankee fans) will be properly analyzed.

It's good to be back. There's plenty to write about, and it looks like it's going to be a very interesting season.

April 9, 2007

Yankees: Pavano, A-Rod & Pettitte

We thought things weren't going good for the Yankees when Carl Pavano was the opening day starter; and, he pitched okay until the defense made three errors behind him and then he tired early. Given the fact that he hasn't pitched in a year and a half we can forgive him. His heart is in the right place and he's displayed the guts necessary to make a comeback. Fans and critics can't keep goading him for not wanting to play when he is in fact going to the mound and giving it his all. Pavano's start against the Twins on Monday justifies this line of thinking. He's a pitcher again, and he's earned the right to be judged on current performances and not by the injuries of the past year and a half.

A-Rod has gotten off to a terrific start this season. Apparently exercising his demons during spring training, Alex has accumulated six home runs and fifteen RBIs in seven games. In terms of production, this surpasses even A-Rod. As quoted in Newsday (Tuesday, April 10, 2007) "No Yankee had ever hit five home runs in the team's first six games, as Rodriguez has, according to the Elias Sports Bureau."
Someone I know who is a Yankee fan cynically sneered at A-Rod's early and impressive numbers by saying "He's just taking advantage of weak pitchers." If that's the case, what's Doug Mientkiewicz’ excuse? How about the very talented fan favorite Melky Cabrera? They've both started this season in hitting slumps. Are they facing stronger pitchers than Alex Rodriguez? Even when A-Rod does something right, he's still criticized. Yankee fans, listen and listen hard: It's time to give Alex Rodriguez a break. He's going to strike out, leave men on base, and hit into double plays. If you want to trade him, think again. Who are you going to get for him? Scott Brosius is retired and anyone else who fills in at third is going to be lacking the skills that A-Rod possesses. If you want to make an argument that he's been less than productive for the Yankees in the post season, my answer is simple. This is no longer 2006, and he's still a member of the Yankees. If he goes one for eleven n in October, then you can gripe all you want; unless, of course, the Yankees actually win the World Series.

Andy Pettitte was back to being the Andy of yesteryear last night at the Metrodome. We can erase his last start and look forward to him being a leader on this pitching staff, even helping Carl Pavano who is often seen talking with Andy as they are now locker-mates. If you're a Yankee fan, you like the fact that Pavano is looking to Andy Pettitte for guidance. That’s the mature, responsible and smart thing to do.

After going 2-5 in the first week of the season, every Yankee fan was ready to panic here in Panic-ville. With that said, reasonable baseball fans with a sense of history and how baseball seasons often play out realize that the actual time to sweat is somewhere around June if the Yankees aren't performing well. The games in April are mere baby steps. This team will right itself not only because the pitching staff has ability, but because they have to. Here's to Carl Pavano as he grabs the ball tonight and helps make this team competitive. Remember one other thing; Chin Ming Wang will be back soon. And, if that isn’t enough to make you sleep better at night, Roger Clemens is likely to charge back into the Bronx in his Hummer sometime in June.

Back To Baseball

Mr. Grudge is back from his short Easter vacation. So much has happened in the past week in baseball that it's tough to know where to begin. Following my instincts, I'll focus in the excruciating start the Yankees have had for the first week of this season. Ouch. Welcome back readers, and let this season prove to be the big one for the Yankees. As I said early over the winter, this is my new mantra for the Yankees: "Twenty seven in '07." Let's hope I'm right.

April 2, 2007

Opening Day Jitters

Nothing much to say on opening day except....gulp! This is a nervous time for me. I have the same feeling I get when I sit in the waiting room of the dentist's office. I know everything will be okay, and it may hurt a little, but I still have to go through with the visit.

That's the same way I view the Yankee's regular season. It's a perfunctory exercise to get to the post season where they either achieve victory, or get knocked out early. Whether I'm at the dentist's office, or at home watching a ball game, one thing remains consistent. I still need some sort of sedative to get through a game.

There's so much emotional stock invested in rooting for my team that even a loss to Tampa Bay or a team like Royals gives me a headache. My theory during those "mini-crisis" moments when the Yankees drop one to a below .500 team is that if they can't handle the Kansas City Royals (or Tampa Bay) how can they take on the Red Sox?

At the time of this writing, it is 10:42 a.m. in New York and the Yankee's home opener begins at 1:05 PM with Carl Pavano taking the mound. Carl is probably on his knees in front of a toilet, up-chucking every meal he's eaten for the past month while praying to the God of Baseball that he doesn't screw up. I'm at my desk at work waiting to take an early lunch so I can listen to some of the game on the radio. I'm grateful that I am at work and not at home so that after my one hour respite from my job (while grinding my teeth and listening to the game) I can take peeks at the Yankee's progress on MLB.com on my desktop computer. I'm taking the "wake me up when it's over approach to this season.

Okay, I'm going overboard. I intend to watch as many games as I can, cheer when they win, get a bit down when they lose, and chew my finger nails bloody in the post season. Yes, they'll get there. But for now, it's a long wait in the waiting room.