Friday, October 18, 2019

It's deja-vu all over again.

I was going to write that last night’s performance was the worst one I’d ever seen from a Yankees team in October. Then I realized that I’d seen it all before.

Remember 2006? That was the year the Yanks had the lineup Jim Leyland described as “Murderers’ Row plus Cano.” The team scored 930 runs that season, and went into the ALDS a heavy favorite against Leyland’s sagging Tigers.

But after an impressive, overpowering win in the series opener, Mike Mussina painstakingly, agonizingly gave away a 3-1 lead in Game Two, at the Stadium. (A young pitcher named Justin Verlander got the start in that one for Detroit.)

After that, they were down to starting a very old Randy Johnson (17-11, 5.00), and Jaret Wright (11-7, 4.49). Guys like Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone, and a pitched-out Scott Procter were in the bullpen.

Things quickly went from bad to worse. In Detroit, they were shutout by Kenny Rogers (!), and then all the wheels came off in Game 4, as they made two errors and could score only two runs off Jeremy Bonderman.

A-Rod hit .071 on the series, and was dropped to 8th in the order by the last game. Sheffield hit .083, Cano, .133. 

Sound familiar?

It’s pretty much the same thing every year, with the shining exception of 2009. And even that season, the Yanks ended up having to pitch Andy Pettitte on short rest.

Nearly every year since Brian Cashman let 700 wins walk off the team with Pettitte, Clemens, and Wells after the 2003 season—and got nothing in return—the Yanks have gone into the playoffs with a team full of muscle-bound sluggers but short on starting pitching, and usually thin in the bullpen and on the bench as well.

Throw in poor fundamentals, some atrocious fielding and inexplicable managerial decisions, and voila! You have the recipe for one dreary slog after another through the postseason.

2004: superior Red Sox pitching eventually shuts down the Yanks’ bats, there’s no one to replace Olerud when he gets hurt, and NYY tries to win Game 7 with Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez.

2005, a crucial error by A-Rod, another awful start by Randy Johnson, and, go no, Aaron Small comes out small. 2007, Joba is eaten alive by midges as his manager looks on, and the Yanks hit a rousing .228 on the Series. 

2010, shut down by Cliff Lee, the big starter the Yanks couldn’t get (hey, they would’ve had to give up Jesus Montero!), and 2011-2012, Verlander again, and Keuchel in 2015, and the Astros in 2017, and Stanton flailing last year…

I would write that this happens again and again and again. But that’s not really accurate. Eleven times out of their last 12 postseasons, your New York Yankees have been eliminated in almost exactly the same manner.

It’s more like: again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

And, oh yeah, once it worked.

If you had an old car that wouldn’t start 11 days out of 12, you’d junk it. If you had a truck stop lighter that wouldn’t light 11 times out of 12, you’d throw it away.

And if your team loses in the exact same way 11 times out of 12…well, you tune in again next year.


Anonymous said...

Yankees were 10 in pitching WAR at 18.1 with 0 from Sevy who averaged 5.5 WAR over the last 2 years. Add in a full year from him and they are at 23.6 and in 5th place

HoraceClarke66 said...

And with German they would've been better, too.

But would either, at their best, have beaten Verlander and Cole at their best? Or Scherzer and Strasberg at their best? I very much doubt it.

Extraordinary teams such as the 1990s Yankees were able to beat better starters on the Braves—but that was a team lacking a great lineup or a lights-out bullpen. The Astros have both.

Really, Houston almost certainly ranks in the Top 50 ballteams ever, maybe the Top 25.

But it's not just teams this good that oust the Yanks in the postseason. And our boys didn't just get beat, they got humiliated and then came apart like a paper sailboat.

That's a reflection on management, higher management, and the intestinal fortitude of certain individuals.

Anonymous said...

An off season fantasy...


SFX: Door knock.

Stanton enters the office.

Brian: Giancarlo! Come in.

Stanton: I'm here to talk to you about my opt out. Don't worry I'm not going to use it. so you'll get that extra money from the Marlins.

Brian: Great! Great...

Stanton: I like it here. I had the best seat to watch the ACLS.

Brian: Yeahhh. We were kind of hoping you'd play a couple of games.

Stanton: Me too! But you know... injury.

Brian: Of course of course. Can't expect you to play hurt. Totally understandable.

Brian pauses to scratch himself with an odd looking back scratcher.

Stanton: What's that?

Brian: It's a back scratcher made from CC's arm. It finally fell off trying to win game four... But you were saying about injury.

Stanton: I'll be 100% by next year. May the latest.

Brian: Yeah. Yeah. Listen John, here's the thing. We're going to have to trade you and we need your permission.

Stanton: I don't want to go.

Brian: The fan base hates you John. I've seen it before. The merciless booing. The nails and tacks in the driveway. I just don't want to put you through it.

Stanton: I'm $32 Million next year. Who will take me.

Brian: Let us worry about that. We'll probably pay half.

Stanton: So you're going to end up paying $180 Million for me to play one full season and a couple of games?

Brian: And yet they call us cheap. Anyway glad we're seeing eye to eye. We'll let you know if we find someone stup... wiling to do a deal. Maybe the Mets.

Stanton: The Mets would be good. I wouldn't have to move.

Brian: Plus they never make the post season so you won't have to go through the anguish of not playing in it. Thanks for stopping by.

Stanton leaves. Brian hits the intercom.

Brian: Send in Gary Sanchez please...

Doug K.

Austria's Only Baseball Fan said...

Skip Ol' Blue Eyes'"New York, New York." Here's a tune for tonight's attendees as they stagger out of the stadium:

When the music's over
Turn out the light.

The music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end.

Cancel my subscription to the
Send my credentials to the
House of Detention
I got some friends inside.

The face in the mirror won't stop,
The girl in the window won't drop,
A feast of friends--
"Alive!" she cried,
Waiting for me

Before I sink
Into the big sleep,
I want to hear
the scream
of the butterfly.

Come back, baby
Back into my arm.
We're getting tired of waiting around,
Waiting around
with our heads to the ground.

I hear a very gentle sound.

What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered
and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives
in the side of the dawn
and tied her with fences
and dragged her down.

I hear a very gentle sound,

With your ear down to the ground--
We want the world and we want it

Persian night!
See the light!
Save us!
Save us!

So when the music's over,
Turn out the lights.

The music is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
Music is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end

13bit said...

Great piece, Hoss - and I'm sure you would not be surprised to find that reading it gave me INSTANT PTSD. I block out names like "Ron Villone" or "Javy Vaszquez" in my daily life. It's only here, in my sacred safe space, free from the harms of the world, where I occasionally encounter bad thoughts and traumatic memories that I have fought so hard to tamp down. Okay, they are calling me back to the face of the mine. In my last act of reverse juju for the season, I am looking at Nats hats on Amazon...

Doug K and AOB - thanks for your posts!!!

Anonymous said...

Awful tough to slug your way to a championship. Only happens maybe once in fifteen to twenty tries. We basically won with offense in 2009, but it hasn't happened since. In 1996-2000, we had much more well-rounded teams, and during that dynasty, notice that we didn't have any "muscle bound sluggers" in the lineup, other than an occasional Cecil Fielder or Jose Canseco as a DH or part time bench player. Houston's got a slugging lineup too, but they are way different. Their best hitters, like Correa, Altuve, Springer, Guriel, are pure hitters, not just home run hitters. They actually get a single when they need it, unlike our muscle bound sluggers. Our best hitter is D.J.LeM, but he'd have a tough time cracking Houston's lineup. Enough said.

The Hammer of God

HoraceClarke66 said...

BRILLIANT, Doug K.! From your lips to God's ears.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Hammer, I actually thought we had the better pitching the 2009 World Series.

After Cliff Lee, the Phils's pitching was the crafty but aged Pedro, in his last year, and then Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05), and Cole Hamels 10-11 (4.32). Their bullpen was awful. Their closer was Brad Lidge (0-8, 31 saves, 7.20), Ryan Madson, and Chad Durbin, and of course there was swingman J.A. Happ, who Nick Swisher, maybe the worst postseason hitter of all time, nailed for a home run (Hmmm).

In fact, they outslugged us, 11 HRs to 6. But we got two wins from Pettitte, two solid starts from Pettitte, and Burnett pitched the game of his life to beat Pedro. Our pen was pretty raggedy—Joba gave up a big run, and Hughes was awful, gee what a surprise—but Robertson was terrific, so was The Great One, of course, and we kept bringing in Damaso Marte to get Ryan Howard, which he did every time.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yes, those 1990s teams were magnificent.

It's possible to picture them losing to the Astros. It's not possible to picture them coming apart at the seams, like our guys did last night.

ranger_lp said...

I just read the third article about how the ball is different in the playoffs. It's obvious to this blog hangeroutter that the fix is in and the Yanks are as Howard Cosell once put it, "a victim of a rob."

Anonymous said...

@HoraceClarke66, yeah, you might be right. We might have had the better pitching on paper in 2009. Still, they had Yankee killer Cliff Lee. I do remember that A-Rod hit a big home run or two, in fact, he had one of the greatest post-seasons ever that year (maybe law of averages catching up) and Hideki Matsui hit some big homers, Johnny Damon played great as well. And a big assist from Pedro ("the Yankees are my daddy") helped us win. I thought Pedro was the LVP of the series (least valuable player)! Our pitching was pretty good, but for some reason, I feel that our hitters that postseason earned that championship. Maybe because of the way our hitters were able to handle Pedro.

The Hammer of God

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