Monday, October 19, 2009

Staring at a Corkboard

Where for some reason I've applied two tacks and a small metal coil to simulate a smiling face. This is your depressing Monday morning work image of the week. And here's your depressing representative clip-artish feline pictorial emoticon:

Not depressing: the Yankees got their pie on yet again Saturday night, with a 4-3 13th inning win over LA. That makes it highly, highly difficult for the Angels to come out winners in this one, and if this afternoon's 4pm game goes well, we can officially start talking pennant.

As you've probably detected, my mind is a bit scattered at the moment. I'm in the midst of the drudgery of grad school applications, and the sheer horrible responsibility of it all has produced an effect where my chief desire is to huddle beneath my desk, lean my head against the maternal computer tower, and hum snippets of children's songs. So bear with me while I try to deliver some content here...

First, some football. The Giants laid supine yesterday for the vaunted Saints offense, conceding 48 points the easy way. It's been a long time since I've seen such a shabby defensive effort from the G-Men; the movement of Brees' offense can best be described as an effortless 'swoop,' rather than a traditional drive. The offense was not stellar, but then again they didn't ever time to establish anything before facing a significant deficit. This one is squarely on the defense. Between the miserable pass coverage and the utter absence of a pass rush, even a perfect offense could hardly have done more than keep pace. Still, it'd be nice to see one Giants game (I refuse to count the Raiders victory) where the O came out clicking on all cylinders. It always seems like Eli and company build up to full speed gradually. That's fine against weak competition, but against the likes of New Orleans you need to go 0-60 in a heartbeat or you'll be choking on dust all game. Hopeless stuff from the boys in blue yesterday. The schedule does not get easier, either, so Coughlin would do well to shake off the complacency from a deceiving 5-0 start.

But it's hard to be too depressed about the loss, and the Yanks ensure that excitement is the chief emotion of the day. Andy throws in today's game (watch me prove that I'm a "true" Yankee fan: I'm so pissed off that we're not playing in prime time), and looks to continue what has been an unbelievable string of starts since the playoffs began. CC and AJ have wholly justified the big bucks, and their emergence this year has flipped a switch on the time machine, turning the emphasis back to pitching.

It's been said a million times, and the truth never seems to diminish: it's tough to hit in October. Not only is the caliber of pitching very high, since teams need that element to reach the playoffs; there's also a lot of pressure, and it's friggin' cold. Pressure can sometimes work against a pitcher, but the best guys know how to use it to their advantage. Cold will always hurt the batter, delaying reaction time by what can be a crucial margin. Unless you get lucky and face a pitcher on an off day, it will be hard to score runs. All year, there have been mutterings that this Yankee offense might be one of the best of all time. And here are our run totals (through 9 innings) in five playoff games: 7, 3, 4, 4, 2. The league average for runs scored per game this year was 4.6. We've had exactly one game where that total was exceeded, and it was against a Minnesota club coming off a marathon game and late-night travel the day before.

When you think about guys who have really come through with great (or even adequate) offensive performances, it can be reduced to three: Jeter, Matsui, Posada, A-Rod. The first three have been money in the clutch forever, and A-Rod's emergence continues to be spectacular. Aside from those guys, no regular starters are batting .250. Damon, Swisher, Melky, and Cano have been miserable. Aside from a big home run, Teixeira (an MVP candidate) has been worse: 3 for 20, .136, 1 RBI.

There are a variety of reasons why this might be happening with each individual, but the overriding fact remains that October baseball doesn't bring out the best in hitters. Pitching wins titles. If you look back at the Yankee championship teams of the late 90s, it was the same thing. Here are run totals from the 1996 win against Atlanta, for example: 1,0,5,8,1,3. And in the 5-game win against the Mets in 2000: 4,6,2,3,4. Even the 1998 championship team, one of the most dominant in history, didn't put up huge run totals. In the ALCS against Cleveland, they averaged just over 4 per game.

So, point made, no big deal, we already knew it. But it goes to show how incredibly important the CC and AJ acquisitions have become, and how thrilling it is that both are coming through with aplomb in the postseason. Because the offense isn't going to light things on fire; that's not what most playoff offenses do. It's up to the arms, and tonight Dandy Andy needs to keep it rolling.

Quick diversion: you may or may not have come across this bit of news, but Ronan Tynan, the smug Irish Tenor who sings a 17 minute version of "God Bless America" during the 7th-inning stretch at Yankee playoff games, has been fired for Anti-Semitic remarks. He wants another chance and has apologized, and etc., but career-wise, insulting the Jewish population isn't the best move in New York City.

So I was hoping maybe some of my readers could help me out...where could Ronan possibly find employment? It has to be an American city with a baseball team, but I'm struggling to imagine a good fit. Keep in mind, he's pompous, Irish, arrogant, and racist...come on brain! Ugh! Why can't I think of a city that would willingly accept an obnoxious Fenian bigot with a chip on his shoulder???

If you guys come up with anything, definitely let me know!

As a last bit of fun, here's a video I found on Deadspin. It seems a Brazilian soccer team, needing a win in their last regular season game, bought off the opponents. What transpired is a 9-goal run where the pretense of defense is truly hysterical. Honestly, watch the defenders (professional athletes all) throughout this clip and try not to laugh. Note especially the diminishing celebrations after each goal.

Oh, and let's not forget:


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