Friday, July 11, 2014

Damned Yankees?

Masahiro Tanaka's elbow has come acropper.  Carlos Beltran brakes his own nose while in the batting cage.  Someone dig the late, not-so-great Oscar Azocar's old uniform and glove out of storage.  It is beginning to look a lot like 1990 'round here.  In the words of the great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra, "It gets late early" at and around the big ballpark in the Bronx.  Suddenly, it has gotten very, very late. 

I have a great deal of admiration for Joe Girardi.  I enjoyed the way in which he played the game when he was the catcher on the 1998 World Series-winning team (among my favorite baseball highlights is Girardi hauling ass for all he is worth to third base legging out the triple he launched off of Greg Maddux in the Series-clinching Game Six) and I applaud the way he goes about his business as Yankees manager.  Right about now though I cannot help but wonder how much time he spends every day thinking back over his decision to sign a new contract after the 2013 season - as opposed to perhaps returning to broadcasting or even taking over as the manager of the Chicago Cubs. 

Girardi is a smart man - a Northwestern University graduate in fact.  It is inconceivable to me that Joey G. ever contemplated a scenario under which David Phelps would be his #1 starter.  Laugh not, if Tanaka's elbow brings a premature end to his rookie season in the American League, Phelps damn well better pitch like the ace of the staff.  By default that role will be his to fill.

In this, Derek Jeter's final season in the Bronx the Yankees have been extraordinarily ordinary.  The Hall of Fame football coach (and Jersey guy) Bill Parcells was known - among other things - for his spot on observation that, "You are what your record says you are."  And slightly more than halfway through the season, the Yankees are a .500 team.  Considering that they have scaled those less-than-dizzying heights being carried principally on Tanaka's back the prospect of navigating the season's final seventy or so games without him is something decidedly less than reassuring from where I sit.  

Imagine just how frightening the view will be from the dugout.  And do not think for a minute that Joe Girardi has not thought precisely the same thing.  

He is a smart man after all.



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