Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Good Riddance (Finally)

I’m a simple man, with simple tastes. Working class background. No extravagant vacations or fancy cars. Meat and potatoes. Coke, not Pepsi. Among my unadorned joys is watching the New York Yankees lose. I enjoy seeing the Yankees lose so much that the city of Cleveland (aka The Mistake By the Lake) has even redeemed itself in my eyes until the Browns play the Steelers again.

With apologies to the Low Brass Correspondent (a dear friend and Yankee fan, proving the two aren’t mutually exclusive), what makes it so much fun to see the Yankees lose is the attitude of Yankee management and fans that it is their divine right to win every year. In their eyes, no one has ever beaten the Yankees. The managers makes a bad decision. A player, or players, stink, or choke. Bad umpiring.

Yankee owner George Steinbrenner sank to a new low this week. Forget about the threat to fire Joe Torre if the Yanks didn’t win. Big Stein has made this threat every year since 2001, so no one but the media got too worked up.

The new low came when the SOB (Senile Old Bastard) said Game Two should have been stopped when his rookie pitcher, Joba Chamberlain, was distracted by swarms of small, flying insects. Blaming umpire crew chief Bruce Froemming, a thirty-seven-year veteran, Big Stein promised Froemming would umpire no more Yankee games.

Huh? Last I heard, teams didn’t get to pick their umpires, and Froemming worked Games Three and Four. This is just the Yankees being the Yankees, blaming everyone and anyone for their own inability to parley a $216 million annual payroll into anything better than a wild card spot and an early playoff exit. Maybe Steinbrenner should ask who authorized paying 45-year-old Roger Clemens $18 million to pitch half a season (and not very well, at that.) Or who signed the checks for Jason Giambi, a $120 million platoon player. Or trade for Alex “The Invisible Man” Rodriguez. Sure, A-Rod hit a home run last night. Down four runs, with no one on base. He hasn’t had a playoff hit that mattered since Saddam Hussein was in charge.

Speaking of early playoff exits, the Yankees’ demise is one of few early exits this year. Last night’s game lasted four hours, three minutes. The average for all Division Series games was 3:24. Contrast this to Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, possibly the greatest baseball game ever played. Pittsburgh beat the Yankees 10-9, in a game with pitching changes and base runners galore, capped by Bill Mazeroski’s home run to lead off the ninth inning, two hours and thirty-six minutes after the game began. (Today is the forty-seventh anniversary of the glorious event, the first memory to which I can attach specifics.) The only games shorter than that so far this year are Josh Beckett’s four-hit shutout of the Angels (2:27) and the Diamondbacks’ 3–1 dispatching of the Cubs in Game One, a game in which ten hits were crushed by both teams combined.

Fox tampered with the post-season schedule to keep Games Six and Seven of the Series from falling on a Saturday and Sunday, where they draw low ratings. Maybe Fox should exercise its considerable clout within the Commissioner’s office to do something about the length of the games. Schedules are tweaked to allegedly accommodate the Eastern and Pacific time zones, but the games go on so long only the Central and Mountain folks can actually see the whole game. People in the Pacific aren’t home from work when the game begins, and those on the east coast are asleep when it ends.

This proves baseball is the single greatest creation of the mind of man. Otherwise, the skills of those in charge for the past 131 years would have run it out of business.

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