Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yankeetorial: Girardi and Showalter sealed their teams' fates long ago by deciding to live or die with the home run

One of the strangest elements of the last week has been the revelation that Baltimore is a homer-happy team that wins by the bash instead of the bunt. I thought we were the only team that did this, and thus were the only team to be doomed in October, when quality pitching rules.

Watching the O's clobber the unfortunately high-socked David Robertson Friday was like watching the U.S. bomb Libya last year. Boom boom boom. They scored with homers, and not by moving base to base (as Tampa did last Sunday.)

I guess this reflects what AL East baseball has become: A HR-or-K paradise, where small ball gets farmed out to Triple A. And it's sad, because I think it represents the end of the AL East as baseball's best division.

For most of 15 years, we stood head and shoulders above the rest - so much better that it was valid to say a star in the NL Central simply couldn't cut it in Toronto or Baltimore. Now, with the exception of pitchers who are prone to HRs, I don't think there is a difference. And it certainly has shrunken with the collapse of the Redsocks (and potential collapse of the Yankees.)

Most of all, it's lame when the only way you can score is home runs. Yeah, it's a hoot when you hit five in a night. But it's hell to watch your team silenced by mediocre pitchers - we're talking the Kevin Millwood variety - on a day when they simply pitch to the corners. And it hurts to keep leaving runners on base, simply because nobody can move them.

I wish we could get back to fundamentals, but Girardi never pushed them this year. Even now, he jokes about the "Bronx Bunters." I think he made a mistake by not demanding more plate discipline, by not pursuing small ball - and by letting Granderson and Teixeira off the hook, when they started slow. Kevin Long never got a chance to help this team. Now, it's too late. We win by the HR, and we lose by it.

If we make the playoffs - nothing is guaranteed - New Yorkers know what happens to homer-happy teams. You can win if your starters dominate - but that's about it. And we don't have those kinds of starters.

Maybe Baltimore does, but I'm not sure sure. Too bad about the O's and the HRs. They're going to face a tough ride, if they get there.

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