For fear of becoming a homer (d’oh!)By
Ozzy Osbourne, in his final offering with Black Sabbath, sang words that ring so true for the Yankees season:
“Don’t you ever, don’t ever say die.”
It’s easy to give up on the team, to say “the season is over.” But what is accomplished by this? Is it that we’re showing how rational and logical we are? Are we trying to be super-pessimistic, so that if things do turn around we’ll be glad to say “I was wrong”? Or is it the ever-present fear of being viewed as a homer?
Baseball is a funny game, though.
The bats are all cold now, which is always unfortunate. You’ll see a few guys hitting well in the “Last 7 Days” bit at the end, but when the majority of the team is hitting below .260, you’re going to have trouble scoring runs. OBP is great — the most valuable single offensive statistic in baseball — because it means more men on base. But sooner or later, you’re going to need to drive those runs in, and only on rare occasions will a walk do the trick. The guys gotta start hitting; it’s that simple.
But what if the bats all get hot at once? Yeah, Jeter and Posada already lead the league in hitting. What if they go on a two-week tear where they hit .500? What if — God Forbid — Giambi finds his stroke and starts planting homers and gappers? What if Cano stops swinging at pitches at his eyes? What if Bobby finally finds the groove he was in last August?
I’ll tell ya: the bats all getting hot at once is just as likely as the bats all getting cold at once. So if the Yanks can string together two weeks of hot-hot hitting and can mix some down days (three or four runs) in with some solid pitching performances, they can still go on a tear. The Oakland A’s won an AL-record 20 straight games in 2002. Our team is better than that. So who’s to say we can’t rattle off 22 straight? Probable? No. Possible? Certainly.
This happened in 2005, remember? Yeah, people point out that we were 27-23 on May 29, 2005, and that we’re 21-28 this year. Well, on June 7 of that year, we were 28-30, seven games behind the surging Orioles. So it’s not like we were rolling at this point in the season that year, either.
(By the way. On May 29, 2005, the White Sox were 33-17, whereas the Red Sox are 35-15. Chicago ended at 99-63. We ended that season at 95-67. Four games. And we were running around with bottles that year, trying to catch lightning. We should — and yes, anything can happen — but should have a more established and solid pitching staff in the second half.)
In 2005, things weren’t working out at second base. So the Yanks dipped into the minors for Robinson Cano. He had been passed over by the Diamondbacks twice: once at the trade deadline in 2004, once over the winter, both in trade proposals for Randy Johnson. Yeah, he tore up AAA in April, but to think he could sustain that would be silly given the small sample size. But he came up and made a difference.
In 2007, first base isn’t working out. While there seems to be no solution in AAA, why not give Eric Duncan a shot? I know, I know. He’s hitting just .234, and has a .683 OPS. But in his last 10 games, he’s walked eight times to just two strikeouts. For some guys, it just clicks. Maybe we can catch that lightning again with Duncan. Or hell, even give a shot to Shelley Duncan, who is just hammering the ball. We’ve already infused some youth into the rotation — and may have found a useful starter in Clippard. Now it’s time to try the same thing with the offense.
It ain’t over. And so what if it is? Are you going to just stop watching? If you do, we don’t want you back when the Yanks start winning again.
Last 7 Days