Apr
27

Laying last night’s blame on a familiar figure

By

Watching the ninth inning unfold from the cozy confines of Section 420B last night was a surreal experience. Still smarting from Rafael Soriano‘s sub-par pitching, we watched Derek Jeter eke out a base hit, and the stadium turned alive. When Curtis Granderson, the team’s leading home run hitter, bunted, we all groaned, and after walks and pitching changes, Brent Lillibridge single-handedly saved the game for the White Sox twice.

After Lillibridge’s lucky diving catch of what I first assumed to be a game-winning double off the bat of Robinson Cano, I sat in my seat in stunned silence. For a regular season game in April, I was annoyed. No, I was mad. I was mad at Soriano for blowing yet another game in April for the Yanks. I was mad at Lillibridge, a guy who barely looks like he needs to shave, for making two great catches, and I was mad at the Yanks’ offense, suddenly quiet, for putting up no fight against Gavin Floyd and the White Sox.

As we all tend to do so in a one-run game lost on a dime, I wanted to blame someone. Rafael Soriano, of course, seemed like the natural scapegoat. Entrusted as the high-leverage Bridge to Mariano, Soriano needed to get three outs. The first one was a strike out, and it all unraveled from there. He hit Carlos Quentin, and then he gave up the world’s most obvious “here it comes” home run to Paul Konerko. Goat, I thought.

But it wasn’t just the home run that caused the Yanks to lose. After the ninth inning, Soriano still seemed to be the perfect scapegoat. Had he not hit Carlos Quentin, the White Sox would likely not have used Brent Lillibridge as a pinch runner, and Lillibridge, a middle infielder by trade, would not have been in a position to make those catches. With the fallacy of the predetermined outcome firmly in mind, I don’t think Quentin makes the catch one both of those bullets that should have won the game. Again, Soriano’s fault with a side of Lillibridge to blame. (But who can really blame someone for making those catches? Once the emotion settles, just tip your cap.)

So who was this Lillibridge punk that ruined what should have been a perfect inning capped with a Yankee comeback? He’s a 27-year-old middle infielder with a career 51 OPS+ in 317 plate appearances spanning part of four seasons. Tonight was his eighth appearance in right field, and after emerged as one of the Braves’ top prospects in 2008, he has yet to fulfill his potential. How he came to be on the White Sox will bring some mixture of joy and dread to Yankee fans’ hearts.

On December 4, 2008, Lillibridge, one season removed from being named Atlanta’s sixth best minor leaguer and a potential future lead-off hitter, found himself bound for Chicago in a multi-player deal. The youngster, along with Tyler Flowers and two minor leaguers went north in exchange for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez. The rest, as we know, is history. The Braves traded Logan and Vazquez to the Yanks a year later in exchange for Michael Dunn, Melky Cabrera and Arodys Vizcaino, and Vazquez flamed out in New York.

Essentially, had Chicago not traded Vazquez to the Braves, Lillibridge wouldn’t have been on the White Sox. He wouldn’t have been in right field in the ninth inning, and he wouldn’t have robbed the Yanks of a pie-filled victory. It was simple: It was, as it always is, Javier Vazquez’s fault. While walking out of the stadium, I realized I could blame Javier Vazquez, and the loss seemed easier to take. I might have gone home an unhappy fan, but in the great game of finger-pointing, I was a satisfied camper. It was, is and always will be Javy’s fault.

Categories : Whimsy
  • Klemy

    It all makes sense now! Great article. lol

    • Mister Delaware

      x2. Most rational irrationality I’ve read in a long time. Perfectly done, Ben.

  • gc

    I’m so glad I gave up the whole “living and dying with every pitch thing” back in ’96.

  • theyankeewarrior

    “I’ve been struggling right now”.

    Really?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      At least he spoke with reporters this time.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Both teams played hard, my man.

  • Pat D

    Great story. Compelling…and rich.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Stupid panda jerk.

  • jorge brosada

    hahaha, damn you javy…

  • Monteroisdinero

    Guy pulled a Golson on us out there. I am still annoyed that Grandy didn’t catch the low liner in his glove and Jeter couldn’t catch up to a major league popup by the dugout off the bat of Adam Dunn. Didn’t hurt us but should have been caught.

    On a positive note, Joe G. correctly pinch ran Nunez for Tex in the 9th which he didn’t do a few weeks ago when Tex scored from 3rd on a sac fly that should have been a Nunez pinchrun as well.

    • Neil

      How about Cano not catching a perfect throw to 2nd to get an out on the SB.

      • Monteroisdinero

        This is not as hard to take since he made 2 other great plays on scoops and tags but yes, you are right.

      • Mike HC

        Yup, both of those plays. The Sox made the plays when it counted and the Yanks didn’t.

    • JohnnyC

      You’re aware of the fact that they had the shift on for Dunn with Chavez on the right side of the 2nd base bag? Jeter had to run from the shortstop position to get to it. You might as well blame Cano for not catching the pop up behind Soriano on Monday. He was closer to that than Jeter was to the ball last night.

      • Monteroisdinero

        I am aware and he still should have caught it. He is the Captain! He is a Gold Glover! He is…..

        sadly past his prime

        • http://yesnetwork.com Jim

          Monteroisdinero; Did you happen to notice the man playing third in the ninth who couldn’t throw Jeter out. Yes, Mr Vazquez is a part timer, but, three years ago at 38 he was still a starter. He made some major plays that year and at 39 also for some contending teams. I can’t believe a .270 season turns everyone against the Captain and that he’s not given any slack. As for his stance, I’d rather see him take after our previous Captain with the pick up and drop of his front leg. Donnie said that if he had, he might’ve lasted longer. (Worked for the Warrior too!) PS: I just wished Girardi let Granderson try to make some magic against another lefty.

      • David, Jr.

        You are aware that he will hit about .265 with almost no power, and show range at shortstop comparable to what Joba Chamberlain or Jorge Posada would show?

        • fire levine

          Joba Chamberlain is actually surprisingly agile.

  • Billy Mumphrey

    Soriano is completely to blame for the loss. He didn’t do his job and hasn’t done it all season. 2 of our losses are directly attribuatable to him, 3 to Hughes, 1 to Rivera so don’t be so quick to blame the everyday lineup.

    • Jon

      WOOSHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://procrastinationperfected.tumblr.com/ BigDavey88

      I think Ben proved pretty clearly that this is all Javy’s fault.

      DUH.

    • pat

      I’m pretty sure Ben was placing the blame solely on Javy Vazquez. And rightfully so at that.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Other things Javier Vazquez is also personally to blame for:

        -the global financial crisis of 2008-2010
        -JonBenet Ramsey’s death
        -New Coke
        -CopRock
        -Jim Joyce blowing the call of Armando Galarraga’s perfect game
        -Planet of the Apes starring Mark Wahlberg and Michael Clarke Duncan
        -the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
        -the Spanish Inquisition
        -hangnails
        -Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
        -the way your boss acts like a total dick to you sometimes
        -Mary Carey
        -sickle-cell anemia
        -stagflation
        -that one time I forgot where I left my Bell Biv Devoe concert tickets and went all the way downtown thinking they were in my jacket pocket, but they were in my other jacket pocket the whole time, and we had to double all the way back and by the time we finally got inside, they had already played Poison and Do Me! and refused to play them again
        -FourLoko being banned
        -FourLoko not being banned
        -the gods’ anger with us, as manifested by the moon eating the sun

        • thumper

          add Justin Bieber and Ke$ha to that list, and he’s the reason we haven’t cured cancer yet

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Well, obviously, it’s not an exhaustive list. We only have so much room on the internets, you know.

            • Monteroisdinero

              Is that what it’s called in Amurrica?

        • Tank the Frank

          Holy shit this is funny. I say that because I laughed so hard, a simple LOL wouldn’t suffice. LMFAO still isn’t enough.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Javier Vazquez was the second gunman on the grassy knoll.

          • Mike HC

            My favorites were “the way your boss acts like a total dick to you sometimes” and, “-FourLoko being banned
            -FourLoko not being banned”

            • Tank the Frank

              hangnail

        • JerseyDutch

          I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition to be on that list.

        • jsbrendog

          coprock. niocely done

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9qR8sgd-Nc

            It’s so much worse than I could possibly give it credit for.

            • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

              I actually don’t think that is something for which blame need be assigned. (wait did I say that out loud?)

  • rek4gehrig

    great article. I had dreams, no nightmares, about Lillibridge last night :-(

  • http://procrastinationperfected.tumblr.com/ BigDavey88

    I hahahahahaha’d at the end. Nice dosage of whimsy after a loss. Definitely easier to stomach than the “Why does Soriano suck?” article I was expecting.

  • Peepee Hands

    That’s why I love RAB!!!

  • JohnnyC

    Of course, laying the blame on Javy still leads the finger of blame to the man who engineered his return to the Bronx…Cashman. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      /Mocha Joe’d

  • Chris

    After the game I was pissed that Lillebridge came in to pinch run and then was luckily out there to save the game in the 9th, but then it occurred to me that he would probably have been brought in anyway as a defensive replacement even if he didn’t have to pinch run for Quentin.

  • jsbrendog

    awesome

  • Monteroisdinero

    So if Grandy somehow walks in the 9th, what does Girardi do with Tex? Bunt?

    • JohnnyC

      Tex grounds into a DP, of course. Silly question.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Tex grounds into a triple play. ARod is tagged out from the on-deck circle.

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      If Jeter, Grandy and Tex get on then Girardi has A-Rod try and squeeze.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    You left out an important detail, Ben:

    Brent Lilliputian was drafted by the Pirates. The Pirates traded him to the Braves for Adam LaRoche. Also moving to Atlanta in that deal was Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s inability to nail down the closer’s role for the Braves prompted them to go with a closer-by-committee that provided the means and opportunity for a man named Rafael Soriano to establish himself as an “elite” reliever worthy of a fat 3 year/35M deal to be the Bridge to Mowhere.

    Basically, Javier Vazquez (through his unwitting sleeper-cell Manchurian Candidate assistant Brent Lillibridge) is also responsible for SorianoGate.

    • MannyGeee

      TSJC, you just blew my mind a little bit there…

  • Mike HC

    Classic. Hysterical.

    I think you just invented a new game. Six degrees of Javy Vazquez, where you link any Yankee failure back to Javy in the least amount of moves possible.

  • http://unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com Uncle Mike

    Blame Vazquez all you want, and if you can find a way to blame Kevin Brown or Kyle Farnsworth I’ll back you up on that, too. But this loss was Joe Girardi’s fault. If he’d left Nova, or even Robertson, pitch longer, the game would have been won. Soriano didn’t have it, but that’s not the point: Nova and Robertson did have it and either one should have been allowed to continue.

  • http://unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com Uncle Mike

    Jeff Weaver. If you can blame Weaver, I’d back you up on that one, too! I still hate him!

  • MannyGeee

    Well, you are all obviously forgetting that Javy was traded to the White Sox (thrice removed and seasons apart) via Cashman trading him to Arizona.

    This lands in Cashman’s lap…

    #drinkingthaKoolAid

  • David

    Watching Vasquez pitch last year caused me to pull out some of my hair, causing my to lose out on a promotion opportunity, yada yada Angelina Jolie refused to have sex with me and the formula for the cure for cancer was lost forever. Damn you Javy!

  • Mike c

    If it actually was javy that blew the game, the writers on RAB wouldn’t be critical of the guy, big difference. We would all just collectively pity him and continue to root, because blowing games were never his fault here. In fact we would petition to ban booing at Yankee stadium instead, because those fans don’t know any better and therefore don’t support the team