This season has slipped into the danger zone rather quickly, hasn't it?
It was only a week ago Saturday that I was throwing back beer and wings in a Santa Monica sports bar, ripping on my old college buddy for the ineptitude of his Boston Red Sox. The Yanks had wiped the Saux out in a nationally-televised game and were riding an eight-game winning streak like a toasty Pacific wave. I wrote in this space that day that Yankees fans could take heed in the reality that they were rooting for a true World Series contender.
So what's happened since then? Hmmm ... let's see. Sidney Ponson got bombed in the Sunday night finale at Fenway and then the Yanks came home and lost two of three to the Orioles before barely splitting a series against the Angels. They flew to Texas to begin a difficult 10-game road trip where, in a stroke of fortuity, the temperature was 107 degrees. Five innings into the opener that would become a brutal walk-off loss, the young face of your franchise, Joba Chamberlain, suffered a mysterious shoulder injury.
In summation, this is what the Yankees lost in the last 10 days:
- Seven out of 10 games
- 3.5 games in the AL East standings
- 2.5 games in the AL Wild Card standings
- Their 22-year-old phenom right-hander
Goat horns are firmly affixed on two men who have taken on the headgear far too often this season. First off is Andy Pettitte, who let his team down in a game they really needed. Pettitte won Pitcher of the Month honors for his performance last August, but his first August '08 start was plain awful. Five runs on six hits in five-plus innings, he put the Yanks in a hole they couldn't dig out of. "Extremely disappointed" he said after his performance, and that made two of us. Pettitte was exactly the guy I wanted on the mound coming off Monday's heartbreaker and with Joba-insanity enveloping the team. And yet, the left-hander didn't show up. I just can't figure him out this year.
The other four-legged fiend was Alex Rodriguez, who continues to gloriously underwhelm despite the fact that he's the greatest player to ever put on a uniform (at least according to Steiner Sports Collectibles). Two more double plays for A-Rod on Tuesday, including an infuriating 5-4-3 turn to end the game. I know it's unfair to ask any player to hit a home run on the spot, but hey A-Rod, can you please for once put the team on your back and hit a freaking two-run homer off Eddie "I was serviceable in 2002" Guardado there? Am I asking too much from "Alexander The Great" to come through there in what could have been a turning point in the season? I'm completely disgusted by the sight of him lately. I don't think I've ever felt that way about a player before.
As for Joba, we continue to play the waiting game. The results of his New York examination were not released to the public and he was sent to meet with the all-knowing Dr. James Andrews for another opinion. It's very easy to assume -- and yes, a lot has been assumed -- that a trip to Andrews means we're dealing with a substantial injury. But isn't it also possible that the Yanks are just doing their due diligence here? That's what I'm hoping right now, that they want two experts giving the same opinion about a minor injury. Dear God, please let that be it.
But no matter what the injury is, the Yankees season may likely live or die based on the final eight games of this road trip, and Joba won't be able to help regardless of the medical findings. That said, it's a terrifying to think that Sidney Ponson is the scheduled starter in the most important game of the season, but that's exactly the case tonight. Facing a team that he got himself kicked off of for reportedly being a Grade A douchebag, you know the Rangers want to destroy him. It's hard to imagine the hefty righty will be up to the task.
With that in mind, wouldn't this be a good night for that high-profile Yankees offense to do some heavy lifting? The Rangers are starting some dude named Tommy Hunter, who will be making his second Major League start. I mean, this is a grown man who I like to picture actually went to the Rangers media relations people to tell them he'd like to go by the name of Tommy. We should kill this ham-and-egger. Call me crazy, but this is what I want tonight: Ten runs. Fifteen if need be. Fuck it, score 20. Whatever it takes. Damon, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod, Giambi, Nady, Cano ... you're all on call here.
This is serious gut check time. Do your job. You're in the danger zone with Kenny Loggins right now. Make like Maverick and fly yourself out.