Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Pie Chronicles: Cano Edition









Okay. Some items, a la bullet point.

*As you can probably tell from the fireworks above, Robinson Cano got the game-winning single yesterday to give the Yanks a 2-1 series win over the Jays. A pretty important W, I think, because a) it proves there is no lingering let-down from the Boston sweep and b) Boston all the sudden looks really good and c) we now go on a brutal 10-game road trip that starts in the west coast and ends in Fenway, during which we have one day off that will be used for traveling across the country on a plane.

*The west coast sucks. And what I mean by that is, playing baseball on the west coast sucks if you're a team from the east coast. The west coast itself, independent of athletic and traveling concerns, is pretty awesome. By all accounts, anyway; I've still never been. The Yankees have been, though, and by some ridiculous scheduling anomaly they have to go twice more in the final month of the season. Boston, meanwhile, is finished traveling west. The disparity there is good for maybe two games, maybe more. It's not the best situation.

*In the upcoming 10-game swing, I'm hoping for 5-5. If the Yanks surprise and win more, great, but these trips are just brutal. And playing Boston immediately following seven games on the coast and a long trip home is a punch to the vitals. Here's what I'm envisioning: 2-2 against Seattle, 1-2 against Oakland, 2-1 against Boston. And we come home tired, but happy.

*The PGA Tour starts today. This is basically make-or-break time for Tiger. He's winning tournaments galore, but he's admitted in the past that a year without a major title is something of a disappointment. Fortunately, he's peaking at the right time, having won two tournaments in a row coming into this week. I put him as the odds-on favorite, but in golf that only means so much. Still, something to keep an eye on over the weekend.

*Two days ago, Kevin Youkilis had an altercation with Detroit pitcher Rick Porcello after the latter plunked him in the shoulder. You can watch the video here:

Youkilis v. Porcello.

My analysis:

1) Kudos to Youkilis for not hesitating. He makes his choice instantaneously and acts. Indecisive charges are a universal disgrace.

2) Throwing the helmet at Porcello can be seen in a number of ways. The gut reaction is: "that's kind of a bitch move." This feeling is supported by the effeminate, arms-restricted, lips-pursed style in which Youk tosses it by the bill. However, it's also important to remember that Porcello just threw a baseball at him really, really hard, an infinitely more dangerous act. Tit for tat? Perhaps, but the last consideration is that the helmet maneuver comes in the very instant before the scuffle, so it's designed to give an advantage in the fight. So it's still kind of a bitch move. It'd be like throwing sand in someone's eyes and then punching them in the groin while they groped.

3) Immediately after the pitch hits Youkilis, Porcello looks to the sky in a frustrated manner, which is either really good acting or a genuine expression of vexation at his mistake. I'm leaning toward the second conclusion; I don't think he beaned Youk on purpose. Still, considering the recent history between the teams, I can see where this would be hard for the Red Sox first baseman to process in the angry, painful moment following the pitch.

4) When Porcello looks down and sees the onset of the bull-rush, he throws his hands up in a "whoa! whoa! hold up!" gesture, and takes two slide steps backward and off the mound. He wants absolutely no part of what's about to happen. You can't see his facial expression, but it's easy to imagine. If you pause the video at the 4-second mark, there's Porcello with his arms extended, still holding out some hope that he's not about to be destroyed by a furious, mustachioed, muscle-bound man, who now has his head down and his arms chugging in full-sprint mode, looking for all the world like someone who knows exactly what violence he's about to visit on the transgressing pitcher, while in the background the catcher starts way too late in pursuit and the somewhat rotund umpire is in mid-jog, his face a canvas of surprise and fat-man's fatigue, far too slow to affect this outcome in any way. Meanwhile, a woman in the front row claps both hands over her mouth in shock. It is by far the most comic moment of the fracas.

5) Once Youkilis reaches the pitcher's mound, he has the total advantage. He has both force and momentum, while Porcello backs away frantically at a speed that is not nearly sufficient to escape his attacker. This is where Youk makes his crucial mistake: throwing the helmet. In order to remove the head-piece, aim, and release, he must sacrifice a fraction of his greatest strength: velocity. There's a hitch in his gait, and by the time the feckless throw hits Porcello, his speed advantage is somewhat nullified.

6) But not totally. He's still moving at a greater rate than Porcello. All he has to do is continue his chase, lower his head, and lunge into the pitcher, preferably at the waist or below. In this scenario, it's likely he'll drive the Detroit Tiger into the grass, at which point the rest of the team will mob them and end the fight. He will have made his point, and be declared the winner. Instead, Youkilis makes his second huge error: instead of plowing ahead, he leaps at Porcello. Going for his upper body is a mistake, because any human is stronger there and less likely to lose his balance.

7) And miraculously, Porcello times a backward jump to coincide almost perfectly with Youk's attempted bear hug. It negates the driving power of the aggressor's tactic, and will prove to be the fight's decisive moment.

8) Because when Youk lands from his mini-leap, it is imperative for him that Porcello fall under his weight. When this fails to materialize, he is like dead weight hanging from the pitcher's body. Picture yourself jumping three feet up on a branch-less tree, but with your legs hanging limply behind (to simulate Porcello's backward movement, preventing Youk from wrapping him up), and how you'd slowly slip down the trunk.

9) From here, it's a short journey to Porcello's coup de grace, when he's able to twist, brace his left leg, and use it as a tripping mechanism while throwing Youkilis to the ground. His posture on the take-down allows him to roll on top of the fallen slugger, and he maintains this position as the swarming hordes overrun them. The fight is history.

10) Victory: Porcello.

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