Monday, October 08, 2007

Baby, I'm a lost cause

Lovely night in the Bronx, wasn't it? There's not much in sports I enjoy more than a walkoff homer at Fenway - seriously, I've probably watched Manny's Moment on YouTube 24 times - but watching a visiting team celebrate on the Yankee Stadium infield comes closer to my personal baseball nirvana than I should probably admit.

So the Indians join the Sox in the ALCS, while the Yankees are left in shambles. We'll get to the Sox/Indians matchup later this week; the early hunch is Boston in 7, in part because Bud Selig would rather return his toupee to the family of meerkats he stole it from than permit the ratings suicide of a Cleveland vs. Arizona/Colorado World Series. But I need to give this more consideration.

Besides, I want to take a day or two to savor the Yankees' fallout, which should be gruesome and fascinating. Joe Torre, often slipping into the past tense, sure sounded like he was making a farewell speech in tonight's postgame; I wonder if Derek Jeter will call his new manager "Mr. Girardi" next season. Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, two linchpins of the faded dynasty, are free agents, and another, dependable Andy Pettitte, is said to be considering retirement. Placid Bobby Abreu put up nice numbers but never really fit. And then there's A-Rod conundrum. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for having a monster season after last October's failures . . . but is his MVP season tarnished after his mediocre performance this October? Yankees fans must looks at it that way, and I wouldn't be shocked if he decides he doesn't need the Big Apple aggravation and the ridiculousness of playing in an inferior player's shadow, and heads to Chicago, San Francisco or even Boston for a fresh start. He's has until 10 days after the World Series to opt out of his deal. By the time he makes his announcement, the Yankees may already look much different from the team that walked off the field in defeat tonight.

Couple of other remnants from tonight's game:

• This beauty is from last year . . .

. . . but I hope one of the New York tabloids has the wisdom to revisit the theme in the next few days. Jeter (3 for 17, 3 GIDPs) was horrible in the series - his rally-killing double play with two runners on and the momentum shifting in the sixth inning might have been the pivotal play tonight - and there is no justice if A-Rod is made the scapegoat while Jeter, still ringless as the captain, escapes the wrath he deserves.

• Chien-Ming Wang has 38 wins over the past two seasons, but I think he proved beyond a doubt in this series that he's not an ace; he had that Calvin Schiraldi "Mommy, get me out of here" look about him tonight. I'm curious how much of a push the Yankees will make for Johan Santana, a free agent after '08 whose name is already popping up in trade rumors. Would they part with Joba "The Bug Whisperer" Chamberlain? Probably not, but it's clear the Yankees could put together a compelling package if they choose that course.

• I don't care how his apologists attempt to spin it, Roger Clemens was one of the biggest wastes of money in sports history this season. The Yankees were 8-9 in his regular-season starts. In his one postseason start, he busted out his usual exit strategy, limping off with a pre-existing "injury" after putting his team at an early disadvantage. It's a movie we've seen so many times before, and here's hoping this is the last sequel for Clemens, an all-time great except for when it matters the most. Ask me, his final scene couldn't have been more appropriate.

• I'll admit it, I had flashbacks to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when Mike Mussina came on in relief of a wretched starter (Clemens in '03, Wang last night) and kept the Yankees within striking distance. The difference this time was the Yankees aren't the same team, Mussina isn't the same pitcher, and Eric Wedge isn't quite as inept as Grady Little.

• As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Wow, he really hasn't changed a bit.