Saturday, October 5, 2019

One down, 10 to go

It is said that, on the hangover morning of Jan. 2, the secret poobahs of Pasadena gather to plan next year's Rose Bowl Parade. Wait, maybe I'm thinking of the Orange Bowl Parade? It's definitely not the Canyon of Heroes Parade, because in this millennium, nobody expects a New York team to win. 

We will not drop our guard. 

Nope. No way. If you're looking for delirious fan cooing, google Billie Eillish. Yeah, we won last night. One down, ten to go. The 10-4 score is a lie; I could show you 50 moments where one tweak from the juju gods could have turned the game on its elbow. Overall, the Twins looked ragged... maybe too ragged. They might have put their clunker game behind them.  

Some observations...

1. Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez, stashed at the butt of the order, looked dazed and confused. Neither got a hit. Together, they struck out five times, and stranded eight. Didi drew a walk in the eighth, a quality at-bat that hopefully will lead to something. Still, it's worth pondering a lineup with Austin Romine catching and Gleyber Torres at SS. That would let Luke Voit or Edwin Encarnacion play 1B, make Giancarlo Stanton a DH, and put Hammerin' Cameron Maybin - who looked electric last night, stealing two bases - in left. I'm not calling for an overhaul, not yet. But Romine is our best kept secret, and Didi is still turning gopher balls into pop-ups. 

2. Aaron Boone nearly micro-managed a defeat. At times, you wondered if he realized it was a nine-inning game. He yanked Ottavino after one batter, and left a gaping vacancy in the eighth, apparently expecting El Chapo to throw a two-inning save. That's dangerous. Had the game not become a blow-out, our mighty bullpen would have been reduced to stems and seeds, (Cessas and Lyons.) Is J.A. Happ our eighth inning man? This is trouble.

3. I've always believed that, on any given day, the biggest, baddest and best player on the field dictates the game. For many years, that was the case with David Ortiz, whose presence was always on our minds. (When a Redsock got a hit in the eighth, we shuddered to think it meant Big Pappy coming to the plate in the ninth.) Last night, the biggest, baddest and best player on the field - by far - was Aaron Judge. He made two great catches - nearly stole a homer - and scared the Twins pitchers shitless. If I were a Minnesota fan, I'd hide behind the couch every time Judge emerges from the dugout. And if we play Houston, he will still be The One. 

4. It was a strange pleasure to hear Bob Costas call last night's game, a reminder of what eloquence sounds like, especially compared to the talking pigeon shows of modern network announcing. But I doubt we'll hear him often. Late in the game, Costas reflected sadly on the endless progression of walks, strikeouts and home runs, which made an agonizing four hours feel like four days. He's right. This winter, I don't know what the game's fathers plan to do - actually, I shudder to imagine it - but baseball faces an existential crisis of tedium. Watching all those HR records stacked upon each other - they're like the escalating climate stats on global warming. At some point, everything melts down. Baseball cannot afford to become more HR-K-BB crazy. 

5. The announcers rightfully stressed the importance of winning game one. But after 2004, no Yank fan will ever sleep on a lead without expecting the worst. If the Twins win tonight, they go home with the advantage. We have nothing to celebrate. You want a good view for the Canyon of Heroes Parade? Go there now. Good seats still available.

13 comments:

13bit said...

We won in spite of ourselves. If we were to take this series, far from guaranteed, it’s the gods fattening us up so that Tampa Bay or Houston can barbecue us on a spit.

ranger_lp said...

Only reason Happless was used is because Boone was "aggressive" using the bullpen by inserting Ottavino and Kahnle earlier than usual...

Mike McCann said...

Despite the walks, a bad game by Stanton. He can't play LF if that's how, having missed most of the year, he reacts to a tricky fly ball. I realize that #27 DH-ing costs us either Encarnacion or Urshela, but run prevention is MORE important in the post-season than the first 162.

13bit said...

Nice avatar, Ranger

Anonymous said...


Excellent analysis, Duque. Seriously spot on. And, yes, play Romine and move Gleybar to short.

I know Didi has been magic against the Twins in the past but, I don't know, give him one more?

The Happ experiment (which scared the Crapp out of me when it first commenced) turned out to be a good thing. It let Boone be aggressive and better one batter too soon than too late.

For example, I was listening to the TB/Houston game on the TB radio station and there was a situation where they continued to go with the pitcher and the announcers were surprised. The guy gets the batter out and I thought... "Remove him now. You got lucky"

This with out any real knowledge of their team. Just knowing when a guy was done. They didn't Altuve hits the HR and the game was effectively over.

I mention this in support of Happ coming in. He's been pretty good for the last month. If can be another multi inning guy to pair with Greene... That's a good thing.

Doug K.

JM said...

I heard that game too, Doug. I rooted for Glastnost, but they left him in too long and boom.

Didi probably won't be re-signed if he keeps this up. Sanchez will be with us forever and Romine should star somewhere else. Maybin should play left. I'm worried. Hitters who can't hit, a left fielder who can't field OR hit, starters who can't get out of the fourth...we might get past Minny like this, but not Houston, much less the Bums formerly of Brooklyn.

I hate to say it, but we need one or two strategic injuries. Something that lets us unclog the lineup and put the best team in the field. Eddie, Judge, Gleyber, DJ, Gardy, Cam, Lettuce (my wife's nickname for Romine because romaine...), Gio would be ideal. Without injuries, we'll just play the money and not the best.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Did anyone actually ever see a blue grass group at CBGB's The few times I went there, no. I'm talking the late 70's to early 80's.

ranger_lp said...

@Carl...Nope.

HoraceClarke66 said...

NO! No more injuries, JM!!

Peerless Leader, I love that story about the Rose Bowl. They used to say that all the time when I was a kid, and I remember that it haunted me: 'What, they don't get a single day off??' It seemed like a terrible, Sisyphian labor, to be doomed to constant work on a stupid California parade.

But I have to disagree with you (slightly) about two things:

—Regarding the managing: isn't this what we're always talking about? Getting the best man in to stop the rally NOW? I was as shocked as anyone to see Happ come in. But really, we had opened up a nice lead by then, and would soon do more. That's always a good possibility with a team such as the Twins, that we'll score more runs, more further ahead.

The real problem was Sapling, who has the backbone of an eclair, failing to get through five innings. Granted, the fielding behind him was, for once, quite shabby. But the Twins handed those runs back and then some. The idea that John Smoltz would even THINK to compare him to Andy Pettitte—a man who once beat Smoltz, 1-0, in a critical World Series game—much less say he was five times better, boggles the mind. Smoltz's analysis is as good as his command of grammar.

Thing Two, to follow...

HoraceClarke66 said...

—Speaking of announcers...yes, kudos to Costas for calling out the tedium of the game. If you did not happen to be a deranged Yankees fan, like everyone here, last night's slog must have been unbearable.

BUT...Costas chose to ignore the fact that the interminable between-inning ads contributed mightily to the tedium (beyond the extra 20-30 minutes they added to time alone).

Also, you can't constantly be celebrating—and OVER-celebrating the home runs, and then denounce the turn the game has taken.

Nelson Cruz is a grotesque fraud. He was CAUGHT JUICING, and suspended for it. But all we heard from Bob last night was how he was practically the equivalent of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig!

This is unmitigated bullshit. The "records" Costas insisted on comparing are apples and oranges. "Postseason" home runs are not the same as "World Series" home runs.

Cruz is a lumbering behemoth, who has spent most of his last seven years or so in the big leagues cheating his way to glory. Pump Babe Ruth full of PEDs, let him bat without playing the field, and he would probably be out there still.

Cruz is everything that's wrong with the game today—and I'm not saying that Cruz equivalents, or near-equivalents have not donned the sacred pinstripes, either.

But you can't be celebrating big, one-dimensional, cheating bashers, and then deplore how the game is going. These guys ARE the problem...as are the over-juiced, countless pitchers trotted out to combat them, as are the overhyped, overextended games that, by going four hours, bring in more revenue for Costas' employers.

It's all of a piece.

Anonymous said...

LOVE YOUR TAKE ON NELSON CRUZ HOSS, RIGHT ON.

MOSTLY EVERYONE HASN'T MENTIONED THE CLUTCH AND PROFESSIONAL PRESENCE AND PRODUCTION LAST NIGHT OF EE.

IT WAS GREAT TO SEE HIM COME UP EVEN WHEN HE MADE OUT.

HE, AND LEMAHUIE, JUST MAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR QUEST.

STANTON WAS STILL AWFUL LAST NIGHT. THE 3 WALKS HELPED, BUT HE VIRTUALLY WRECKED THE GAME WHEN HE SWUNG AT 3-0 THE FIRST TIME UP.

I LIKE IT BETTER WHEN HE JUST STANDS THERE AND TAKES THE WALKS.

WISH HE WASN'T HITTING 5TH.

HE KEEPS GETTING UP WITH BOATLOADS OF GUYS ON BASE.

TODAY, OF COURSE IS ANOTHER MUST WIN.

WE CAN'T LOSE, AT HOME WITH A ROOKIE ON THE MOUND, IN A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT.

WE GOT THEM WHERE WE WANT THEM.

WE HAVE TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON.

MUST WIN TODAY.

NO EXCEPTION.

TheWinWarblist said...

Living Colour was the last band I saw at CBGB.

ranger_lp said...

Just a friendly reminder that the Yanks are pitching Tanaka and the Twins are pitching an Uber driver.