October 26, 2003

White Rat In Red Socks? Newsday's Jon Heyman: "Because the best move of the year was 72-year-old Jack McKeon replacing Jeff Torborg, Whitey Herzog is having thoughts about attempting a return to managing. 'He would be outstanding. I know he wants to do it,' said a person close to Herzog, who will be 72 next month." I would love Herzog in Boston!

In an email to the Boston media, John Henry rejected the idea that Gump would be let go because of his Game 7 debacle. "It is absolutely ridiculous to assert that we would make any managerial, coaching or player decision based on one game -- no matter how important that game is or was. Give us a little more credit than that. Maybe a fan can do that, but a serious enterprise cannot and does not."

Gammons: "There is a lot of Alfonso Soriano trade talk around the Yankees. What has bothered them most is that he's become enveloped in a fog so thick that when Willie Randolph tries to position him from the dugout, he hears nothing. So, the staff has to have Jason Giambi or Nick Johnson get his attention from first base and direct him to the right place."

Joe Sheehan: "You can trace the Yankees' position in this series to the decision to have David Dellucci bunt in the 11th inning of Game Four. ... That bunt is the dividing line in this series. The Yankees had a 2-1 lead in games, a situation in which they could expect to score one run and had a shot at two, and the Cyborg Reliever ready to get three outs. After the Dellucci bunt, they had two lousy hitters trying to get a run home against a guy who eats righties. Then they had Jeff Weaver in the game. Then they were tied in the series. ... After the Dellucci bunt, the Yankees went completely into the tank offensively: 17-for-71 with five walks, one of them intentional. They scored just four more runs, three after falling behind 6-1 in Game Five. For a team that oozes postseason experience and veteran leadership, those two traits didn't do them a lot of good when it came to the most important games of the year. Isn't it fair to ask what good those qualities are, given the amateurish way in which the Yankees approached their at-bats in the last two games?

"This isn't hyperbole: the core of the Yankee offensive problems was a disintegration of their plate discipline. ... Before the game, I expected that the Yankees would treat Josh Beckett the way they'd treated Pedro Martinez over the years: make him work, get him tired ... Beckett opened the game with a 12-pitch inning in which the Yankees let just four balls go by. It got worse. The Yankees went down on seven pitches in the fourth, 10 pitches in the fifth, and nine pitches in the sixth. Beckett did his part by throwing strikes and keeping his mechanics in tune, but if you'd told me going into last night that Beckett would throw 26 pitches over any three consecutive innings, I would never have believed it. It was basically the dream scenario for McKeon and the Marlins, and it was a big reason why the decision to start Beckett worked."

Buster Olney: "New York faces an uncertain future with many changes imminent: volatile owner George Steinbrenner is bound to make extensive alterations to a franchise that is just starting to list, because of advancing age and increasingly impulsive personnel decisions."

After the ALCS, Derek Jeter said that eventually the ghosts of Yankee Stadium come out and help the home team. Not Saturday. As Rough Carrigan put it: "Grady's managing the ghosts now. He forgot to send 'em in in the 8th." ... If you listen to most Yankee fans and New York's media sycophants, Jeter delivers the goods approximately 101% of the time. Not last night. With the tying run on second in the bottom of the 5th, Jeter struck out to end the inning. A couple of minutes later, he bobbled Jeff Conine's grounder to start the 6th; Conine scored Florida's second run. In the bottom of the 8th, with Soriano on first and no one out, Beckett put the brakes on Mr. Clutch. Jeter (representing the tying run) flied out harmlessly to center, unable to even advance the runner.

During the middle innings, Yankees radio man John Sterling noted Andy Pettitte's great pitching performances this month. New York lost the first game of the ALDS, ALCS and the World Series and Pettitte won Game 2 every time. That's very impressive, and a huge reason why the Yankees advanced as far as they did, but Sterling cherry-picked his data. What about the fact that Pettitte was unable to put away the Red Sox (5 IP, 4 R, 8 H) in Game 6 of the ALCS (Pettitte also could not seal the deal in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona)?

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