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Postseason Sparkle

There's a long, long way to go, but yesterday the postseason started off with a bang for Yankee fans. The Yanks took the opener of their division series against the Detroit Tigers, 8-4. MVP candidate Derek Jeter was terrific, going 5 for 5, with a solo homer, and some sparkling defensive plays as well. Whatever path these Yankees take this October, I still marvel at the record-setting production of this great Yankee ballplayer.

Go Jeter. Go Yanks.

Comments

Jeter is simply amazing. Good write-up here.

One down, ten to go. But it's a long way to Tipperary. ;-)

My sympathies, Chris.

I understand how it feels to have your heart broken by the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit played the better game and its time for the Yankees to start losing. Michigan teams are winning all across the board. They've dominated in football, (pro and college) baseball, and all the other sports. because they are the GREATEST.

I think it's fair to say, that not many tears are being shed in Boston over the fate of the NY Yankees.

...and now I know how a team from St. Louis can break MY heart too. :-(

My tears will shed for Boston!

Overpaid bums!

With the prospect of a Subway Series derailed because the Yankee season came to a crashing end, the New York Mets begin their quest for the NL pennant tonight.

But for Yankee fans, there is no better time than now to contemplate the importance of "Cleaning House."

I largely agree with Bill Madden's take on this (see his article, "Cleaning House Has Nice Ring to It"). The Yankees have become a lumbering (and very expensive) group (not quite a "team"). I've said it before, and I'll say it again: They are not going to recapture the World Series (or advance much beyond the first or second round) if they pursue the policy of signing All-Stars, who may be great individual players but who don't constitute a team. This is the policy that kept them from winning a World Series from 1979 through 1995 (a period during which they made it to the Fall Classic only once, when they fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 1981... led by another anemic All-Star, Dave Winfield, who went 1 for 22, and who was dubbed by The Boss as "Mr. May," in contrast to Reggie "Mr. October" Jackson).

In terms of the recent past, the most successful Yankee teams were those peppered with seasoned veterans acquired from the free agent market and young players who had earned their pinstripes through the Yankee farm system. Today, the most consistent players are those such as Jeter, Posada, or even Bernie Williams, who came up through that farm system and who are among the last vestiges of the cohesive Yankee dynasty that dominated baseball in the late 1990s. And the current crop of young players with the most heart (e.g., Melky Cabrera) also happen to be farm system products. These guys kept the team afloat during a year plagued with physical setbacks (to players like Matsui and Sheffield) and psychological ones (for high-maintenance players like A-Rod).

Speaking of A-Rod: Yes, he's a great player. But, for me, he has yet to prove himself in the clutch. I should state, however, that I'm sick and tired of hearing how it's all Jeter's fault that A-Rod hasn't performed up to his potential, that the Yankee Captain should have extended an olive branch to his old buddy and stood up for him when the Stadium crowd was booing A-Rod for his poor showings at the plate or on the field (see, for example, John Harper's essay in the New York Daily News).

Whatever the failings of the Jeter-Rodriguez relationship, I often think back to the frosty relationship between Captain Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson. Munson didn't have to embrace Jackson to inspire the latter to performance heights. Both of these players did great in the regular season and in the postseason. And their Yankee team, from the late 1970s, was combative, combustive, and crazy. But it also had chemistry, and it won back-to-back World Series in 1977 and 1978.

I don't think the problem here is the Manager, Joe Torre. I think managers can exert a powerful influence... as long as they have the tools to finish the job. Casey Stengel managed the Yankees to some of their finest seasons in the 1950s. He didn't have as much success with the Mets of the early 1960s. From my perspective, Joe Torre is a class act, and a stabilizing force in a volatile market (with a volatile boss), and he deserves to work out his contract, which ends at the conclusion of next season.

Speaking of having the "tools" to finish the job, let us remember that among those tools is PITCHING. The most successful Yankee teams didn't rely just on great hitting; Bronx Bombers though they may have been, they sported some of the finest pitchers the game has ever seen. It's pitching, pitching, pitching. Not just for the regular season, but especially for the postseason and its 3 out of 5 and 4 out of 7 short series.

The Yankees need to acquire younger pitchers and, more importantly, more homegrown young pitchers to carry them through ... not the patchwork quilt of older, and more brittle, pitchers they've relied on recently. And they need a long-term strategy to shore-up their bullpen; relief pitcher Mariano Rivera is not going to be around forever.

The Yankees have had a great history, but they do not have a birthright to the postseason. Like every other team, they have to earn it. As a Yankee fan, I sincerely hope they start correcting course immediately.

Well, that's my take. It's Detroit v. Oakland, St. Louis v. the New York Mets, and I'm still watching baseball.

Chris, your analysis is spot-on. But I thought baseball season ended last week. ;-)

I had to go online at work to do some research and I just read the terrible news and just had to check here to see if you are ok! I hope the Yankee pitcher was spared in the horrible accident this afternoon in Manhattan, but it doesn't look too good.

My REAL sympathies now.

I just saw that Mayor Bloomberg annouced Cory Lidle died in the crash.

I am so sorry. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones today.

Thanks for your sweet words, Peri.

In truth, this scared the daylights out of a lot of us. When the first reports came on the news, interrupting "One Life to Live" here in the Sciabarra household, it was pretty scary. We actually know people who live in that building! And needless to say, a lot of neighbors were immediately thinking that NYC was under attack again (it didn't help that some fighter jets were scrambled).

It was a terrible tragedy, indeed; New Yorkers hardly had a chance to really get to know Cory Lidle, the Yankee pitcher who was killed in the crash. Fortunately, except for Lidle and his flight instructor, nobody else was injured or killed.

My sympathies to the families of the deceased.

My sympathies to all Yankee fans and New Yorkers. This has been a hard week.

Great website! Bookmarked! I am impressed at your work!

Thanks for the compliments!

And, yes, Chris, it was a hard week when you posted that note. I'm now looking forward to some real changes in the offseason, and maybe, a little good news around MVP time.

Take good care,
Chris