Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CC Riders

I know not whether it is genetics or simply a reflection of life experience. Either way I know that I shall never be mistaken for a pie-eyed optimist. I was not the kid who stepped in a pile of horse poop on Christmas morning and took that as a sign that I should tear-ass around the house in search of my pony. Nope. Not me. Not ever.

I mention that only because tonight the New York Yankees begin their quest for back-to-back World Series titles. This team for whom I root, which spent most of the season masquerading as the best team in baseball, ended up one game short of being the best team in its own division. Thus, the Bronx Bombers will begin this playoff series as they shall the next round (if they are fortunate enough to survive and advance): on the road as the Wild-Card.

One never knows when discussing the Yankees with other fans just how much the person or persons to whom you are speaking buys the jive that the team sells about the "big picture". As they showed their age and their almost unfathomable lack of starting pitching depth during the month of September, word started to spread in the press that the Yankees were not concentrating on winning their division - as if home field is irrelevant to the men in pinstripes - but rather were simply concentrating on getting healthy and rested for the playoffs.

As the kid who never searched for the pony, you must forgive my skepticism. While I am cautiously optimistic of their chances in the American League playoffs, I find the notion that athletes - competitors - showed up at work every day for a month disinterested in the outcome of the game in which they were being paid to participate. Somebody's pants smell as if they are burning. I just looked down to confirm what I suspected - not mine.

The tale will likely be told during these first two games in Minnesota. Tonight the Yankees will pin their hopes on the left arm of their most talented and most consistent pitcher. While there is no truth to the rumor that if C.C. Sabathia delivers the goods tonight pitching left-handed the Yankees intend to pitch him tomorrow - throwing righthanded - it might not be such a bad idea. At this point of the season C.C. is not only their #1 starter he is #2 and at least half of #3. C.C. did win twenty-one games this year and is on the short list for the AL Cy Young Award. So why worry? Take a gander at the disparity between his numbers pitching at home and pitching in a ballpark that is not located within the Bronx's postal code. Is he awful on the road? Far from it. But he is hittable and beatable - two things that he has not been at home since the Yankees signed him as a free agent before the '09 season.

I wondered last season if the quest for baseball's Holy Grail last October would be the final go-round for the Core Four. It of course was not. The signs are becoming clearer however that the road shall not go on forever for Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Mo. This could very well be the final shot for this quartet to win another championship together. Pettitte got hurt in mid-July and the rest of the rotation fell apart. Now Andy being Andy he is back and will likely get the ball tomorrow night in Game Two.

Opposing him for the Twins will be none other than Carl Pavano, who was A.J. Burnett before there was a Bronx Tale to be told by the tattooed one. Pavano is the pebble in the throat of every Yankees fan who watched them implode in the post-season from 2005 through 2007 and then watched their streak of consecutive playoff appearances end in 2008. He was the highest-paid non-participant on their payroll, making much money but few starts and repeatedly displaying the attitude outwardly that he seemed to be in no particular hurry to make himself healthy enough to play. Although his right arm was not fit enough to toss a baseball every five days during the four years he was a Yankee, it was apparently hearty enough to sign the back of his paycheck every two weeks. Perhaps he had direct deposit?

Tonight it begins again. A season that lasts for six months and one hundred and sixty-two games has now been reduced to a race for eleven. What had been a marathon is now a sprint. I shall - as I did last October and for many Octobers before it - root, root, root for the home team even as tonight they open their pursuit for yet another championship many, many miles from home......

.....in Minnesota where the moon is shining bright and hoping that everything will indeed be alright.

-AK

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