It's so good that if this was Europe, people would probably sing that at games, and it would be spectacular. The reference: it's adapted from the '60s tune "Time of the Season" by The Zombies. Picture an entire stadium singing it to serenade Hughes when he walked to the mound from the bullpen at the beginning of the game; it would be the greatest moment in professional sports history.
Last night, Hughes struck out 8 over 7 scoreless innings, and earned his league-leading 5th win. He's also the current American League ERA king. Basically, the question mark after his name has become an exclamation point, and he's achieved early season 'stud' status. He might ride this wave ride right into the All-Star game, and it's his first season as a full-time starter. To quote another '60s song, "happiness is a warm gun."
That last sentence only kind of makes sense. But it feels right. Just like this next sentence. There's a flower for every occasion, son, but only two men have touched the moon.
Before we get on to other business, a thank you to Nick for covering my ass yesterday with a Duke offseason report. Meeting the girlfriend's parents went well, her graduation went well (though it was bittersweet; her high school career just flew), and the parents-meeting-the-parents spectacle ended with minimal hard feelings, I think. But all was happy in blog land due to Nick's good work. My weakness as a fan is that I don't expend much energy following a team when they're not playing games, and it's nice to have someone fill that commitment gap.
Two quick Yankee things:
1)The three-game nightmare stretch (AJ in Fenway, Sergio Mitre pitching, Vazquez pitching) ended as expected with three straight losses. But Javy surprised everyone a bit in the first half of yesterday's doubleheader, going 7 full innings and giving up just 2 runs. It's by far his best outing of the season. Unfortunately, his average fastball was still just 89mph, topping out at 91, so until I see this result replicated two to three times, I'm going to assume he got a little lucky. Or that his new strategy is pitching to contact (only 2 walks). Mysteriously, he managed 7 swinging strikeouts. I'm not sure how that happens without a good fastball, but I guess I'll take it.
2)Apparently Yanks announcer Michael Kay is reading this blog (#5). In his latest radio show, he said the following:
"No one wants to hear it, but with Granderson and Johnson on the DL, the Yankees have a mediocre National League lineup... Strong at the top and very weak at the bottom. The only way to balance that is to make Cervelli the 5 game a week starting catcher and make Posada the full-time DH. I know that will not be popular in Jorge Posadas world, but Girardi isn't paid to make popular decisions. Let's see what he does. Its a simple solution for the short term until the DL is cleared."
Thanks to Justin for the quote. And let me be the first to admit that this solution is glaringly obvious and didn't require deep thinking to conceive. The big problem is that Jorge has a lot of pride, and a lot of influence as a 16-year vet. He won't like it one bit. But for God's sake: Cervelling is batting .750 with runners in scoring position (9-12)! He's hitting .408 overall! He's about 50 times better as a defensive catcher! Don't bench him for Randy Winn or Marcus Thames, please. You can only defer so much as a manager, and it's worth a little Posada pouting to keep this offense from devolving into total crap.
On to other sports:
*The Boston Friggin' Celtics won Game 5 on Tuesday. That's pretty crazy. I didn't get to see the game, but how is this happening to Lebron and Cleveland? Bill Simmons provides some clue in his excellent retro-diary on ESPN. He's hinting that it might be "the end of pro basketball" in Cleveland, and he takes Lebron to task for disappearing in one of the biggest playoff games of his life. Soemthing about Lebron has always rubbed me the wrong way; he's a little too entitled, or something. And this seems to cement that arrogance, that inability to come down from the Nike pedestal and grind it out when things get tough.
But the Celtics are made for the grind. As much as I hate Garnett, he deserves a lot of credit for stepping up. So does Pierce, for emerging in Game 5 after earlier struggles. Ray Allen was specifically created to be a clutch shooter, and Rajon Rondo is one of the more exciting dudes in the NBA. That's a team of warriors. My friend Brian claimed they had a shot to beat Cleveland before this series started, and I scoffed. But there they are, with a chance to clinch at home in game 6. And the best regular season team is handicapped by a shitty coach and a vague elbow affliction that Lebron is subtly trying to use as an excuse for a series of stink bombs.
*The Philadelphia Flyers have come back from a 3-0 deficit to force game 7 against the Bruins. I'm not known around the streets and cafes as a dude of hockey, but on Friday night, Philly has a chance for something historic. In the history of American professional sports, a team has overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series just three times.
It's never happened in the NBA. The Nuggets are the only team to even force a game 7, against the Jazz in '94, but they lost. This makes sense, since basketball is less prone to streaky elements like a great goalie or strong pitching, and luck plays a smaller part than any other sport. If a team goes up 3-0, it's a pretty safe bet that they're way better and won't lose.
In the NHL, the Maple Leafs pulled it off in 1942, and the Islanders followed suit in 1975. It happened once in baseball, too, but I can't remember when. Anyway, it'll be worth keeping one eye on the hockey come Friday.
*Hey Sid Crosby, we haven't forgotten the Olympics, you smirking goon! Haha! Vive Le Habs! (Hmmm, praising a Canadian team for beating a US team and thereby avenging Team USA's loss to Canada...I hate irony. Quick, a picture!)