Friday, August 28, 2015

Let's be honest here: If A-Rod and Tex don't turn it around, we are done

They are too old and battered to depend on.

Neither has done much in the last two years.

They are the reason why we led AL East until a week ago.

Lately, they have sucked.

Listen: We can whine about pitching, or Gardy, or Ellsbury, or Stephen Drew, or even Dustin Ackley. Be my guest. None of that matters. Nobody is coming up from Scranton. Nobody is coming over in a trade. Nobody is going to suddenly anchor the batting order. Nobody else is going to play first base.

It's really quite simple.

Either A-Rod and Tex start hitting... or it's over.

Ten years after Katrina, Yankees remain a battered, aging shell

Hard to believe, but it's been 10 years since Joe Torre's bullpen levy crumbled, flooding the famous "Bridge to Mariano" and drowning Yankee hopes at the hands of the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they called themselves - that insufferable Rally Monkey team. Ever since - despite a quick, store-bought glimmer in 2009 - the franchise has never rebuilt itself. For reasons of leadership, money, bureaucracy and hubris, the team continues to flounder. Heck of a job, Hally.

Ten years ago, here was the Yankee lineup. (Warning: The numbers are graphic and may be disturbing to younger fans.)

This, my friends, was a batting order. Considering what Yankee fans now experience, this lineup is painful to remember. The lowest average on the 2005 team - .241 - belongs to Tino Martinez, who hit 17 HR in limited duty.

Today, our highest BA is Brett Gardner's .273. And our three-hole hitter - the aging, dilapidated A-Rod - is down to .255. With the exception of 1B and C - both players now have CF plaques - every position on the 2005 team hits better than today's offering. Yeesh.

And if you're wondering about the bench, the 2005 team had Reuben Sierra to pinch hit. We have - what - Chris Jones?

But wait, 90 percent of baseball is pitching, pitching, pitching, right? So how did the team look before Katrina?

Again, 2005 looks pretty nice, compared to today's troops. The Big Unit was in his first incarnation, Mussina was going relatively strong, Chien-Ming Wang was rising, and of course, Aaron Small, Tanyon Sturtze and Shawn Chacon were Cashman's scrap heap jewels. (This year, Cashman has not picked anyone of note off the recycling pile. He may have been thinking of practical jokes for his Sports Illustrated profile, which - by the way - nominates him for the Hall of Fame.)

Ten years ago, Joe Torre soaked the bullpen in gasoline and lit the Scott Proctor match. He never did find anyone who could pitch the seventh and eighth. With the Bridge flooded - "six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline" - everything went underwater. We actually lost to a team with Scott Spiezio playing 1B.

So here's one advantage in 2015: The bullpen. It hasn't yet fully collapsed, like the batting order seems to have done. If so, the Yankees can still outdo their 2005 counterparts, but they better patch up the holes fast. The 2005 team won the division. Right now, we're looking at a one-game wild card. There's a lot of water yet to spill over the dam.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

It's gotten so bad that even Robby Cano would be leading the Yankees in hitting

Cano is batting .277 with 14 HRs. (In the last month, he's hitting .333, though the games don't matter.)

Our leading hitter - (with enough ABs to qualify) - is Brett Gardner. He's batting .273.

Iceberg dead ahead: The Yankees visit two last place teams going nowhere. What could possibly go wrong?

It's been a while since I watched a game in Atlanta, but I can't wait! What a joy it will be to see Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, sitting behind the dugout, leading the "Tomahawk Chop!" Do the Braves still have that big guy with the facial mole? Dale Somethingorother? That thing was huge. Didn't he have it surgically removed, and then never hit again? Scary, eh? Oh well, Atlanta! Pride of Dixie! Zolio Almonte! Manny Banuelos! Wait... don't they have Nick Swisher? With our luck, he'll be wearing a fake mole.

Nope. We should have no problems with Atlanta. Three game sweep, baby, three game sweep. Everybody knows this. Bring the brooms. It's inconceivable that we would lose to Atlanta, right? They don't have Chipper Jones anymore. Bad team. Right?

Yeah, sure... let's just keep telling ourselves that, any month now, the Bronx Blow-Ups will snap out of this incredible free-fall. Because right now, the Yankees could lose to that 1970s radio station team that had John Sterling batting third. If the GOP presidential contenders fielded a team, the Yankees could lose - and I'd bat Carly Fiorina third. We scored four runs - 4 - against the Astros - one was from a pitcher who walked the bases loaded, one came in the 9th inning of a 15-0 blowout, and the others were a close-your-eyes-and-swing 2-run blast by Didi Gregorius. Four runs. We had a worse week than Curtis Montague Hitler-Schilling. We could lose to a team of lice.

Oh... but then, come next week, the Fates have a special place for us to visit- our own little dung heap in hell. Boston. Yes, we play the most disappointing team in baseball, a club with nothing to play for - and nothing to lose - other than the pleasure of killing the Yankees' shot at the Bud Selig one-game wild card playoff.

Insert fart here.

Ever since Toronto came to town - seems like a hundred years ago, eh? - it's as if the mighty Yankees jersey was yanked off to reveal two dwarfs, standing piggyback. We spent four months adoring what could turn out to be the biggest collapsing Yankee team since 2004. This with - AND I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP - a Sports Illustrated puff piece this week that actually wonders aloud whether Brian Cashman could someday be enshrined in Cooperstown. Hey, anything can happen, I guess. All he needs is a fake mole.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Don't call it a slump. Don't call it a collapse. Don't even blame China. It's just an overdue market correction

What goes up, must come down.

Take Chris Young, for example.

He is a career .233 hitter. Last year, Young hit .222 between the Mets and Yankees. (He hit .205 until the Mets waived him.) This year, Chris was on fire in April - batting .309 - and then got hot in June. This month, he's hitting .100. His average is now .247... and dropping - presumably to his career expectations.

Listen: This is not a Chris Young slump. This is a Chris Young market correction.

And he's still got a ways to go.

So does Chase Headley. He's is a career .266 hitter - though like Young, his best seasons happened long ago. For the year, Headley's hitting .277 - that's eleven points over his lifetime numbers.

He's still got a ways to fall.

Brett Gardner? Same deal. He made the AL All Star Team. He was unstoppable in the first half. In the month of August, Brett's hitting .203.

A-Rod? The NY media pushed him for the All Star Team. That was when he was hitting .280. Now, he's at .255. If you check his average in recent years, you'd know not to expect much more. This month, he's hitting .145.

Teixeira? He may be Comeback Player of the Year - in part because last year, he hit .216. But in the month of August, he's hitting .179.

At the start of the 2015 season, the Yankees looked like a mediocre team, close to .500. For a while, they soared high in the standings. Now, we're seeing the correction.

Could it be that we popped the champagne too early?

Having taken their victory lap, the self-congratulatory Yankees have a month left to toast this ongoing disastrous season

In case you missed it, Sports Illustrated this week gives Brian Cashman a 2,000-word foot massage, barely a paragraph shy of a romp at the Airport Ramada. The upshot: Cashman is now a Yankee god, an icon comparable to Ruth and Gehrig, his bald head is bulletproof, and the 2015 Yankees stand as testimonial to his competence... this, as they plummet headlong into The Abyss.

Yes, The Abyss. The one Fred Nietzche feared, but with baseball. And it's so simple, so clean, so obvious: We are the team everybody said we would be, once August arrived. At a certain point of the season, a 40-year-old plays like a 40-year-old. Don't act surprised.

OK, we are still four up in the one game Wild Card, but a month ago Cashman's army was running away with the AL East. That ship sure sailed in a hurry. And last night they were stomped into a bloody gruel, undressed and embarrassed by an organization that has defined suckwad for a decade, but now trends upward through the sheer brilliance of all that incompetence. That's Houston's secret to success - and it may yet be Cashman's: Just come in last enough times, and the draft picks and luxury tax/salary cap will raise the boat. It's called improvement, NFL-style.

Well, rather be negative, let's look at the bright sides of last night...

1. Ivan Nova has finally overcome the inconsistency that plaques pitchers returning from TJ surgery. He has found his niche. He's consistently bad.

2. The Bobbsie Twins continue to glow at 2B. Stephen Drew went 0 for 2. It's practically Seussian! Stephen Drew went oh-for-two! Two strikeouts, too. Boo-hoo-hoo, that Stephen Drew! And for another week, every time he comes to bat, The Master will note that he's within a base hit of .200!

Also, Brendan Ryan - who pitched - went oh-for-three with an error. A ball went through his legs despite the fact that he went down to one knee. That's hard to do, like Stephen Drew! If it happened to Rob Refsnyder at Scranton, he'd be drummed out of the game. How dare he think the Yankees were going to turn over 2B to him!

3. Tex returned with a noticable limp. In other words, pick a percentage, and that's what level he'll be playing at for the next month. Is he 70 percent healed? Fifty? Thirty?

4. Last night, the Yankees were taken over their knees and spanked. Not only were we humiliated on the scoreboard, but their centerfielder took to mocking us while rounding the bases in his HR trot. Teams can react to this in different ways. I suspect we'll come out today with piss and vinegar. But The Abyss doesn't care about piss and vinegar. The Abyss just waits. And was it really Jorge and Andy who got their plaques this weekend? Or was it Cashman? Haven't we already taken our turn down the Canyon of Heroes?

Shades Of Sparky Lyle

It's not the shoes. It's the 'stache.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On a night when we're down by nine in the fifth, it's nice to know Curt Schilling just shot himself in the foot

Considering that his tanked video-game company cost Rhode Island taxpayers about $50 million - this, after he spent years railing about government deficits while a Bush family toad-licker - I never understood how Curt "Ketsup" Schilling landed a talking-head gig at ESPN. It had to be Bristol's commitment to serving as the anti-Yankee sports network. Nothing else explained it.

Oh well. Nevertheless, it pleasures me greatly tonight to report that the leviathan of loquaciousness has just tweeted himself out of a golden nest egg, because Curt the Blurt couldn't resist the urge to compare the entire Islamic religion to 1939 Nazi Germany. Yep, nothing satisfies a frat jock intellectual like a good old Adolf Hitler metaphor, and I guess Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn't doing it. (Hey, you ever see how Brett Gardner brazenly takes the lead, then aggressively tries to steal second base? He's like Hitler with Poland!) 

Tonight, somewhere in your cell phone, right-wing Trumpster divers are going ballistic about ESPN wilting under the Nazi scourge of political correctness. If our TV sports commentators lose the freedom to compare people to Hitler - well, this country is on a slippery slope, straight to the Munich beer halls.

Curt lost his gig because even Redsock-loving ESPN couldn't take his constant crapola. Considering Curt's post-baseball resume, I have suggestion for his replacement this week at the Little League World Series. How about Jared from Subway?

Thank you, Ollie Perez: A gift-wrapped victory, courtesy of a former Met, belies the Yankee reality: Help is not on the way

This is some ridiculous cyber-stat called
Runs Created per Game. Basically, this is
the number of runs you'd get if you had
nine hitters like each of these guys.
In the end last night, you were just glad to not be an Astros fan. That would be a soul-crusher. You escape jams all night, then have the 26th man on a 25-man roster walk the bases loaded with nobody out. Yowzer. A kidney stone defeat. We of the Yankiverse know them well. Last night, that bed of nails was theirs. Houston, you have a problem.

Ah, but who's kidding here. So do we. The standings show us tied with Toronto in the AL East. What a crock. Spiritually, we are behind them by three games - yes, the ones they took in NYC, back when we had the Division won, but couldn't hold our water. We did take the series in Toronto - that epic battle between Tulo and Miller still echoes - but we lost the final game, and nothing was decisive. We still have to beat them, nobody else is, and our team has been bat-dead since it mopped the floors with Texas and Anaheim. When was that? Last month? Last year?

We have finally deciphered the binary code messages from outer space: Help is not on the way. For months we thought Rob Refsnyder would learn 2B and free us from Stephen "O for 2" Drew. Aint a-gonna happen. Drew will just keep lashing hot grounders into the over-shift, and his RH platoon, Brendan Ryan will be no better. It's comical these days when Drew - .199 - comes up, because John Sterling bursts with anticipation; "One hit, ONE HIT, and he will get above that .200 mark!" The Master cries. "ONE HIT." You'd think Drew was chasing Barry Bonds. One hit.

Nope. Help is not on the way. It's increasingly clear that Greg Bird needs more seasoning. He's a year away. If Tex next season goes down, Bird steps in. But not this year. Last night, with McCann on third and nobody out, Bird couldn't put the bat on the ball. Last night, they figured him out.

Help isn't on the way. Slade Heathcott keeps hurting himself. Dustin Ackley is a phantom who doesn't really exist. The entire bullpen of Scranton is mere mop-up fodder in meaningless games. But we're not Houston. At least we weren't last night.

Monday, August 24, 2015

After three months in first, the Yankees are now leading in the Wild Card

We took over first place on May 26, beating KC.
And we held it until Cleveland came to town. 
Now, we're leading in a race to play a one-game Wild Card.
We have to watch out for the Rangers and Twins.
Excuse me, if it all seems pointless.

Dear Mr. Sabathia, If you return this year, it must be as a power lefty out of the bullpen

Dear Madam or Sir,

Last night, I had this bizarre dream...

It's early October, the Bud Selig Memorial One Game Maximization of Profits Wild Card... and the Yankees are playing the Angels - in California, of course. It's the bottom of the seventh. We lead by one, but the Winged Wonders have loaded the bases for Trout and Pujols. Across the Yankiverse, hope has turned to liberal dosages of black strap rum. Girardi makes the call to the bullpen - brought to us by AAMCO Car Care. But instead of Warren or Wilson or Shreve or even a barking shouldered Betances - instead of the lugnuts who have been breaking down with regularity from the lack of quality AAMCO car care... marching in from the bullpen is a hulking, relatively fresh-armed future Hall of Famer... yes, the great C.C. Sabathia - entering the national spotlight for his last great run at a World Series.  

Sir... permission requested to speak freely? Thank you.

Umm... welll... how do I put this?

Sir, THE SHIP HAS SAILED. This year, as a starter, you sucked. You pitched more like the other CC - Chris Capuano - than your self. For all your dugout leadership, the Yankees are dead on the days you pitch, and if you think a few weeks of rest will change that... well... THE SHIP HAS SAILED.

Today, some are saying you'll never throw another MLB pitch. We hope that's not true. But Fate can be a tricky mufo. You can still help the Yankees - just not as a starter, where the knee simply cannot hold up for 100 pitches. If you pitch out of the bullpen, you could be the difference in the final three innings, where Betances and Miller are barely holding it together.

I don't know the psychological and physiological changes required for a veteran starter to become a reliever. Clearly, some pitchers cannot do it. I believe you can.

Last night, you struck out Trout and got Pujols on a pop-up. Make my dreams come true. Because this team is fading fast. We're fighting for the one-game Wild Card, and we're going to need CC Sabathia to win it. But not as the starter.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jays, Astonishingly, Remain Mortal

At the horrible risk of juju repercussions and also of earning a reputation as a Positive Polyanna, I present the past month of Toronto game results.

They lost to Seattle (!) and Philly (!!!!!), before beating KC three out of four around the trade deadline.

That is where they were hypotized into believing they were more than a .500 team that had suddenly added players capable of making them a .515 team.

They swept the Twins (I suppose they still have something to play for, however remote). They swept us. They swept the As, a punching bag of the West. Then they lost two out of three to us, before splitting a pair with those mighty Phillies again.

And yes, they've plucked the Angels pinfeathers the last two days. Not a remarkable achievement.

My conclusion:  their real hot streak happened about three weeks ago, when they took 3 of 4 from KC, arguably the best team in the league. Then four straight from Minnie, a respectable team, more or less. Then three from us, in the famous three games where the Jays started Cy Young, the Big Train and Bob Gibson against us, which is why we scored a total of 1 (one) run. (cough)

Three against Oakland? Whoop. Lost 2 outta 3 to us at home. Split another two with the frightening giants of Philadelphia. And most recently, whumpfing the holy water out of the Angels -- like the Twins, a monument to mediocrity.

I am not afraid of these guys. They are running on Tony Robbins-Deepak Chopra-Laura Schlessinger fumes that, like the glue that creates them, will dissipate in the autumn winds. THEY ARE NOT THAT GOOD. They struggled to be mediocre before making the "big trades," and the additions do not make them this much better. They. Just. Don't.

It takes a while for a new convert to realize that the tent minister who cured their lumbago is actually wanted for sex crimes with underage boys at every whistle stop, but it eventually happens, and the lumbago comes back if it hasn't come back even sooner.

The Jays right now are like an entertaining soft shoe guy on America's Got Talent. He might make the semi-finals, but unless the Sullivan show, the Welk show, the Hollywood Palace and the Keith circuit suddenly all rise from the grave at once to provide venues where he can make a living, he doesn't have a great shot at getting even moderately well-compensated for his beloved skill.

The best thing we can do is wait this out, try to do better than a split with teams like Cleveland, and kick the Jays' tailfeathers the next seven times we meet up with them. And while we're abusing birds, we should also do the same to the Orioles the six remaining times we play them, just to teach them a lesson. In fact, we should do it with rookies and scrubs the last three games of the season, just to remind them of their place in the AL East hierarchy.

May the juju gods not punish us for such bold statements and level-headed assessments, but I think we have a great chance at cooking the Angry Birds and with maraschino cherries in their mouths, to boot.

Yo Andy!

Toronto will never lose again, ever, and be hailed as the greatest team that ever was, ever.

Toronto crushed the Angels yesterday. If not for the two games we took from them last weekend, they would be 15-1 in August, and be running away with the AL East.

We should not have won those games. We angered them. They are too good. Wait, did I said "good?" They are too great. That's what they are. They are the greatest team in the greatest city in the greatest country on the greatest planet, give or take.

Some of you may be thinking Toronto cannot continue at this incredible pace. You people are fools. You might have thought something would give during Toronto's West Coast swing. Not a chance. In their two games in Anaheim, they've scored 24 runs, given up five. They are Shula's Miami Dolphins. They are the Harlem Globetrotters, and everybody else is the Washington Generals. Give up. Surrender, Dorothy. Hope Week is over. There is no hope.

That incredible lineup of future Hall of Famers - Jose Batista (900 career homers, HOF 2025), Edwin Encarnacion (790 career homers, HOF 2030) and Justin Smoak (10,000 runs, HOF 2039) - will forever be remembered as the feared "Canadian Bakin'!" The Crash Test Dummies will write a song about them. Jim Carrey and Ellen Page will star in a Canadian remake of "Fever Pitch."

It's over. We should just quit. In fact, I should just qu-

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hiphip, Jorge!

Moral of Hope Week: We are trapped for all of eternity with Stephen Drew

Months ago, it became tiring, me, whining about Stephen Drew. It's gotta be tiring for you, now, preparing to read yet another post of me, whining about Stephen Drew. Listen: This is like a bad Mickey Rourke movie, where we all died and went to Hell without knowing it, and we are condemned to forever watch and whine about Stephen Drew. That would explain things. It would also mean Stephen Drew is actually a demon banshee spawn-slave of Satan, and we are trapped for the next billion eons, watching him hit his monthly two home runs and reclaim second-base, sentencing us to eternity with Stephen Drew.

How's that for the climax of Hope Week! Pleasant enough? Yes, we are shackled by the wrists into an eternal, nightmare, dungeon torture chamber conundrum of Stephen Drew - at times supplemented by his twin necromancer, Brendan Ryan. Forever and ever. Drew without end. Amen.

Think I'm overstating this? Let's go to the videotape. Eighth inning, last night. We're down 4-1. We knock out their starter. The reliever gives up two singles. We get a huge break when their second baseman flubs a grounder. We score two runs, put the tying run at third, have the bases loaded, two outs. And here he comes, Satan's hunchbacked, mule-whipping, vampire boatman from the underworld, Frankenstein's nephew, Stephen Drew.

Fly ball. Inning over. Game over. And, one of these days, season over. Mark my words: It will end with Stephen Drew at the plate and Rob Refsnyder sitting at home, watching on TV, like the rest of us.

Essay question: Try to imagine the Yankees going a month with a rookie who hits below .200? They have now gone a full calendar year with Drew. This isn't a small sample size. This isn't a slump. The new reality is that Drew cannot adjust to the defensive overshift, and he is a permanent liability. This isn't someone hitting below the Mendoza Line. Drew cannot see the Mendoza Line.

Last night, we watched Drew's alter ego, Brendan Ryan, flub an easy ground ball, leading to a Cleveland run. Ryan, of course, was supposed to be the great fielder who couldn't hit. We've now watched Ryan for a year, and he's not a bad middle infielder, but he is no Omar Visquel, no gold glove, not even close. They are our Bobbsie Twins, and we are stuck with them because - here's the latest news from Hell - the team apparently thought Rob Refsnyder acted "arrogant and entitled."

Why didn't they just say "uppity?"

Apparently, Refsnyder thought he was coming to NY to play 2B. Did he cut in front of somebody at the buffet table? Because the Yankees announced that he was going to stay and then, less than a week later, threw him back to Scranton, so we could immerse ourselves into the Bobbsie Twins.

When I think of Refsnyder's "arrogant and entitled" attitude, whatever that is, I think of Ian Kennedy. Remember how the Yankees - and their courtier beat writers - were down on Kennedy? He didn't realize that rookies are supposed to bow and scrape, so his ticket was punched to Arizona, in favor of keeping the Yankees' future aces - Hughes and Chamberlain. Kennedy nearly won the Cy Young in the desert, but the apologists said it didn't count - he would never have succeeded in the AL East, because that's what apologists say, rather than apologize. (See AJ Burnett.)

Wait a minute. How long have I been here, whining about Stephen Drew? It seems like minutes, but I just looked at the calendar and - ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IT'S ACTUALLY AUGUST OF 2015? I've been writing this post for 13 months! It was July of 2014 when I started. Dear God, I'm trapped. Satan has my soul. As Kirk would say, KHANNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back To The 2 Stroke Dance of Failure

Seriously, how many games are we going to win from this point forward, 2-1 or 2-0?  We could be playing the University of South Florida and lose a lot of games to them when we only scratch out 2 runs.

If it wasn't for Bird's one game heroics, we lose the last game against the Twins 3-0 instead of chalking up a 4-3 win.  Note to reader;  he gave us our 2 run shot for the game.  Only he did it twice, which was a miracle.  That won't happen again.

You can see a pattern early with this team, where you just know know they aren't going to score more than 2 runs.

Here is how it goes;  Jacoby gets on and Brett takes a perfect pitch fastball for strike one.  Then he fouls off a tough pitch, and prepares himself to strike out.  Jacoby stays at first.  A-Rod is, at least, a bit unpredictable.  But when the Yankees are in their 2 run mode, he either strikes out or hits into a DP.   If Jacoby tries to steal, the batter fouls off the pitch. No matter what the specifics, Jacoby starts and ends at first base. In the tightest of games ( including a 0-0 start ) the Yankees don't do anything to get that initial runner into scoring position.

All through the line-up you see it.  Drew will not bunt a runner over in a tight game, he won't even try. He usually has 75% of the left side of the infield undefended, but he is going to swing for the seats and hit into a double play.  Similarly, McCann or Beltran will hit a screamer, but right to their second baseman, playing in mid right field, for a routine out.

A once hot Didi is now 3-17 and not hitting in the clutch.  Last night's game was within a base hit of a win.  But, no, we can't push across more than 2 runs.  The new kid drew a walk.  Fine and
 dandy ( better than striking out ), but that is not what we need from him.  We need RBIs.

We have more 1,2,3 innings than any team in baseball, when on offense.  Sometimes, our pitcher, who just threw 22 to scrape out of the top half of the inning, can't even get his warm-up jacket on before he is back on the mound.  It as though our players have no sense of baseball, or how the game must be played.  Lot's of swinging at first pitches for quick outs.

It reaches a point where if our starter gives up one run, we barely have a shot.  If he gives up 2, the best we can hope for is a tie, which we will lose in extra innings.

If you see this syndrome early, do something else.  Why stay for the inevitable disappointment, frustration and torture?

It's scary when Mushnick is right

He was right about the bastards tearing down old Yankee Stadium. And he's right about them rescheduling games. "Apex of greed?" Hm-mm. It's just scary, when he's right.

Inconsistency, thy name is Nova

Joe Girardi, last night, in 9th, protesting balls and strikes.
Today's talking points of the Yankiverse go like this: Everyone should expect Ivan Nova to be inconsistent, because that's what happens to all pitchers on their way back from the John... the Tommy John, that is. 

But Nova, as a Yankee, has been a pillar of consistency: That is, he is consistently inconsistent. One day, he carves the plate. Next day, he cuts the cheese. And it always seems to balance on the fulcrum point of one single pitch - one pinprick in time - that determines Nova's auto-erratica.

Last night, it's the 4th: Two outs, nobody on. We're down 2-0, but at least Nova seems to be cruising. ning out. So what does he do? He walks Abe Almonte - the seventh hitter, a former Yankee farm hand, who is batting .250, without power - he walks him on five pitches, not even close. Then Nova serves up a single to center to great Giovanni Urshela - batting eighth and hitting a crisp .230. And then, of course, he gives up a single to Jose Ramirez, number nine, who is six batting average points above Stephen Drew (.194 for Curse of Drew watchers everywhere.) All with two outs. For some pitchers, you would say this was a glitch in the Matrix. Not with Nova. It was the way of Ivan Nova. It was Classic Ivan Nova. It should be the Wikipedia entry for Ivan Nova. By the end of the fourth, it was 3-0, Cleveland, and we were in a hole too deep to escape.

So what do we do? Here's an idea: Next time Nova walks a leadoff man, or a .220 bottom feeder, Girardi should climb out of the dugout and go into his Al Pacino "In Justice For All" act, screaming like last night in the nineth. Joe should disrupt the game for 30 minutes, tearing bases from their morings and digging up home plate, if possible. Security guards - if not NYPD or DHS - should be called to drag him off the field. It should be a Girardi rain delay. Maybe then, after a half-hour of watching and throwing warm ups, Nova can bear down and get the critical out.

Of course, our other option is Chris Capuano, who is akin to the mercy rule in girls softball. Capuano threw two innings last night and didn't give up a run. That's his seasonal highlight.

This Cleveland series was supposed to be a breather. The Indians staggered into town after getting pummeled from all known races - including the Bud Selig Memorial Away Field One Day Wild Card. Suddenly, we take the night off and lose for nine straight innings? Or is that we're still rolling the dice with Ivan Nova? And this time, we lost. Because I'll be damned if I want to see the guy in the post-season.