1:05 PM Eastern
There are some things that impress me, and there are some things that don’t impress me. And I apologize in advance to the Chicken Littles out there who believe a 1-2 start on the road, at Yankee Stadium, means that the sky is falling, but holding arguably the best line-up in the game to eight runs over three games impresses me.
The Blue Jays were victimized in both their losses. In the opener by that 314.8 foot homer by Melky Cabrera, by the two miscues on defense in the 7th and by an incredible leaping grab by Jason Giambi, who is no one’s Gold Glover. This time, the Downs error cost them, along with the broken bat flare/bloop (floop?) single by Abreu and a three-and-a-half-batter blip by Dustin McGowan in an otherwise dominating outing.
It’s nice to see that the Yankees were the ones who needed to catch some breaks to win the series, and there’s no shame in dropping two of three in the final opening series ever at The House That Ruth Built. If the Jays can win their series at home against the Yanks and Red Sox and get the job done against some of the lesser teams, they can lose every series in New York and Boston and still be fine.
I should mention, since I keep forgetting to, that I saw George Steinbrenner in the elevator lobby on the press level at Yankee Stadium while on my way out after The Rainout Show on Monday. He was standing, but had his left arm on someone’s shoulder and someone else holding his right side, and was dressed in his traditional blue blazer/turtleneck ensemble. He was wearing sunglasses, so I couldn’t see his eyes, but while we waited a VERY long time for the elevator, he said to his entourage, “Where the hell is the elevator?” in a very Steinbrenneresque tone. I have heard that he has his good days and his bad days, I’m glad that on what was supposed to be his ballpark’s last Opening Day, it was a good day. Amazing that he’s become a sympathetic figure, but I definitely feel for the guy. No one deserves to go through what he’s going through.
Anyway, back to tonight’s game. I’m puzzled by those who thought that Jason Giambi should have been intentionally walked in the 6th inning after McGowan struck out Alex Rodriguez. With Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui coming up, why would you load the bases with one out? If you’re going to put somebody on to set up a double play, make it A-Rod – but A-Rod struck out, so the hindsighters saw no need to walk him.
The move to make after the strikeout was to go to Scott Downs, with three lefties coming up and Brian Tallet having thrown two innings the night before. But Downs is the set-up man, so the 6th inning is too early to bring him in, according to the book that pretty much every manager in the majors follows. Of course, had Tallet not been used for two innings on Wednesday, maybe he’s the guy there. Still not sure why he had to come back out for the 8th that night with League, Frasor and Wolfe available. If there was a concern about Wolfe’s ability to get lefties out, well, he came on in a tie game tonight to face two out of three lefties, and stayed in for one more the next inning – why not use him when you’re up by three in the 8th if you’re going to use him when you’re tied in the 7th? Or use League or Frasor, for that matter, to keep your bullets in order.
It was nice to see Frank Thomas show some emotion after being rung up in the 4th, but stupid of him to get himself thrown out. He jumped out of the way of a pitch that was probably inside, but certainly not far enough inside to make him bail, and not far enough inside to be confident taking with two strikes, especially since that same pitch had been called a strike a couple of pitches earlier, though Frank didn’t like it then either. Of course, that same pitch had been called a ball a couple of times in the at-bat as well. The lesson is, and Thomas knows this, I’m sure – when you’re not sure what the umpire is thinking, don’t take a close pitch with two strikes.
Still, no matter how upset you are at a call, it’s still an incredibly selfish act for a player to allow himself to get angry enough to get thrown out of a game. I understand the passion, heat of battle, etc., etc., but please. A 39 year-old man should be able to control his temper enough, especially realizing that he’s going to have at least two more at-bats in what’s likely to be a close game.
Some quick notes about the series overall:
-The Jays outscored the Yankees 9-8 and outhit the Yankees 24-21, each team had 6 walks.
-With runners in scoring position, the Jays were 6-for-32 (.188)
-With runners in scoring position, the Yankees were 1-for-17 (.059)
-The Jays were 4-for-6 stealing bases, the Yankees were 0-for-2
The sky isn’t falling. And if it is, we won’t know about it for the next six games because the roof will be closed. The home opener will feature Shaun Marcum against the jet-lagged Red Sox and knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, we’re on the air at 7:00 PM Eastern with the first pitch scheduled for about 7:15.
Roberto Alomar’s name will be raised to the Level of Excellence before the game, a fitting tribute to the man who was probably the best all-around player the Jays have ever had, and who will no doubt be the first Hall of Fame inductee to go in as a Blue Jay. Still, I can’t think of Alomar without thinking of his petulant display the day the Jays traded David Cone in 1995 and the John Hirschbeck incident. All the things you do add up to who you are, and it’s not unfair to consider Alomar’s behaviour off the field in combination with his excellence on it.
Finally, and I hope this isn’t a pattern developing, there were a couple of callers I had to pull the plug on tonight on JaysTalk (yes, Stoeten, it’s one word – my show, I make the syntactic rules). The reason I hung up on them, the timing of which may have seemed strange, was because each of them were either so impressed with themselves or so baked or some combination of the two, that they couldn’t make it through their first or second sentence before being overcome by a fit of giggles. Not laughter, not snickering, honest-to-goodness, six year-old girl-type giggles. (I can say that, because I have a six year-old girl.) I thought I’d explain their disappearance, and I really hope it doesn’t happen again. Please – as funny as you might think it is, you’re really only embarrassing yourself.
Comments are encouraged, as always!