Friday, October 23, 2009

Conspiracy in Anaheim: Did Girardi act alone?

In the hours since the Yankees allowed a golden opportunity to secure the American League pennant slip away, fans, media and unnecessarily loud Korean War veterans at Dunkin Donuts are attempting to assign blame for the 7-6 loss to the Angels.

Some are saying that Joe Girardi acted alone in this assassination of the Yankees' World Series hopes on Thursday, the opinion being that the second-year manager made a series of dubious decisions that doomed New York.

The Stankiewicz Commission has been assembled to prove that, while Girardi is a jackass made several errors in judgment, he was not the sole individual responsible for the Yankees' Game Five downfall.

The Commission seeks to prove that a greater conspiracy was at play on that tragic evening in Anaheim.

Consider the evidence:

Girardi, Joe

Code Name: The Overwhelmed Skipper

The accused has endured a rocky postseason, appearing to be spooked by the moment in several key situations. Thursday's actions furthered this assumption.

Girardi failed to remove starting pitcher A.J. Burnett from the game after a 22-minute top half of the seventh inning, a half inning in which a Yankees rally had bailed out the erratic and unreliable right-hander. After Jeff Mathis–perhaps better known as the greatest player who ever lived–singled sharply to begin the inning, Girardi left Burnett in the game to face, and eventually walk, No. 9 hitter Cesar Izturis.

Girardi finally relieved Burnett, though oddly made the decision to bring in the untrustworthy Damaso Marte in favor of the far more reliable left-hander Phil Coke.

He completed his head-scratching night by lifting Alex Rodriguez, a 12-time All-Star on a historic run of postseason dominance, for pinch-runner Freddy Guzman in the ninth. This led to open speculation within the Commission if Girardi was addicted to crack.

The Stankiewicz Commission recommends that Girardi burns his trusted matchup binder along with the hand-written love letters he never sent to Suzyn Waldman.

Burnett, A.J.

Code Name: Alice Josephine Burnett

New York Yankees organization signed Burnett to five-year, $82 million deal to be key cog in rotation. The accused responded by allowing first five batters to reach in first inning on Wednesday, burying his team in a 4-0 hole before an out was recorded.

The poor effort led to this Commission to post the following note on Twitter: "Burnett is emotionally checked-out of Game 5 of the ALCS. That bodes well for the rest of his massive contract."

The Commission was not happy.

Burnett (predictably) settled down after the first inning, following the blueprint of several similarly-egregious starts during regular season. When the pressure was back on Burnett in the seventh, his knees quaked and body quivered like a 13-year-old girl at a Hanson concert in 1997.

The Stankiewicz Commission recommends Burnett stop watching 300 before starts and start watching film of opposing batters' hitting tendencies in first inning.

Hughes, Phil

Code name: Golden-Boy-turned-Turd-In-Punch-Bowl-turned-Golden-Boy-turned-Turd-In-Punch-Bowl

The accused failed again in a big spot on Thursday, continuing his free-fall in October. His 1-2 fastball to Vladimir Guerrero was terribly located, and his subsequent meatball to Kendry Morales was lucky not to end up in the seats.

Once thought to be the best middle-reliever in the American League, Hughes can no longer be an assumed part of Girardi's eighth-inning plan. His stuff appears to be there, but his confidence perhaps not.

The Stankiewicz Commission recommends Hughes grows back his Chester Molester 'stache.

Swisher, Nick

Code name: The Fallen Frat Boy

The Commission is not sure what's more troubling here: The fact that Nick Swagger hasn't updated his Twitter in nearly a week or that he couldn't make good contact on a Brian Fuentes fastball that was actually–and the Commission turned the volume up real loud–begging to be pummelled roughly 458 feet.

Swisher's ninth-inning at-bat played out like a Greek tragedy. Judging by the first two swings, the accused appeared to be doomed, but then hopes were raised that Swisher would somehow get out-horribled by Fuentes.

Swisher is in an brutal slump, now just 3-for-29 with one RBI in the postseason. That's .103. The Commission feels that those that say the sample size is too small to make a change in right field need to wake up. This is the playoffs, any sample size will appear small when measured against the context of a 162-game regular season.

The Stankiewicz Commission suggests long phone conversation with Creed frontman Scott Stapp about the nature of life and why the best strip clubs all seem to be in Tampa.

Dan Hanzus can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus .

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