Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yankees Fighting Through Rough Patch

Beginning misguided rant in 3...2...1...

The New York Yankees and My9 are a match made in hell.

I wish I had the statistics to back this up—and let's face it, a rudimentary once-over of the schedule would probably settle this—but to me, the Yankees always seem to play poorly when their games are broadcast on the redheaded stepchild of free television.

I suppose this makes sense. My9 is the same network that pays its bills on the strength of Living Single reruns. Ernie Anastos is the face of their news team, a solid 15 years since he lost his CBS fastball. Russ Salzberg is the sports anchor. Russ Salzberg people!

That said, the My9 Yankees telecast is identical to a YES telecast, right down to Michael Kay's massive skull and Ken Singleton yelping "Look out!" for every pitch that misses the inside corner.

Perhaps I'm just grasping at straws to rationalize how the Yankees could look so poor in losing their second straight to the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

Wednesday's series-opener was one thing, every team gets jumped sometimes, but Thursday was...different.

Speaking of different, former Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges just came out with a memoir entitled, Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted.

Honestly, This Is What I'm Talkin' About, Arnold probably would've sufficed, but the guy is a recovering crack addict. We'll give him a pass.

In honor of the fallen and now risen teen idol, I present to you Killing Me: From Baseball's Best to Walking Wounded to Wait, the Freaking Blue Jays Are One Game Behind Us?

Chapter 1: The Pitching Has Come Back Down To Earth

We all knew it couldn't last, but with injuries savaging the starting nine, the recent downturns of Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, and now Andy Pettitte make winning games very difficult business.

CC Sabathia was hogtied and robbed of a 'W' by Joba Chamberlain in his last start, so he's the notable exception here. Carsten Charles will have to be even better than he was against Boston as the rest of the rotation undergoes a natural market correction. Besides, the suddenly overtaxed bullpen could use a couple of those Milwaukee Brewer-era complete games from the big fella.

Chapter 2: Mark Teixeira Is Still Not Mark Teixeira

Don't be fooled by a few big games that inflated his run production totals, Teixeira is still not himself, and I guarantee he would admit as much.

Unfortunately, the Yankees need their first baseman to get back to being his consistent robotic self now more than ever.

Teixeira is in the midst of his latest funk, hitless in 12 at-bats before he singled off the top of the right-field wall in his final at-bat on Thursday. Hopefully the hit was a sign of things to come.

Chapter 3: Nick Johnson Brian Cashman has fouled up the entire lineup

Remember all the offseason discussion about whether or not Cashman made the right move replacing Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole with Nick Johnson? Well, it took exactly 1.5 months to settle that debate and put a little black mark on Cash's resume in the process.

Cashman showed no contrition after news of Johnson's jacked wrist was reported, even going as far as saying that Johnson was "a $15 million a year player if he didn't have this history of injuries."

This is the equivalent of Todd Bridges saying he was "the next Will Smith if he didn't have this history of crack and whores."

To be honest, I'm not sure who would be more believable.

Chapter 4: Are The Rays Really This Good?

I'm inclined to say no, that it's more a red-hot Rays team catching the Yankees at the exact wrong time.

But even if the Rays are playing a bit over their head right now, they're putting on a frightening display of their ability. Their starters go deep into games, they have a loaded lineup, they run like hell, and catch everything.

You can even float the theory that Yankees caught a huge break in 2009 as the Rays—essentially the same team as the 2010 version—nursed a post-pennant hangover.

Now they're recharged, hungry—and aware the offseason will bring big roster changes—armed with a serious sense of urgency.

(I think I need to go lie down.)

Chapter 5: Overcoming the Injury Bug

The Yankees are all sorts of beat up. No one feels bad for them, I guarantee you this. But with the Red Sox and Rays in the rearview mirror and a six-game road trip against the Mets and Twins coming up, this isn't going to get any easier.

(Well maybe with the Mets it's a little easier, but still...)

Realistically, .500 ball is a reasonable goal during the stretch, which means you have to hope that immortals like Randy Winn, Juan Miranda, and Marcus "Look Out, Bat!" Thames can come up with a big hit every so often.

(Need to lie down again...)

Meanwhile, I hope we're not witnessing the start of the breakdown of one Georgie Posada. With 1,620 regular-season games played and another 110 in the postseason, worrying when his body will finally quit on him is always a concern.

Hopefully the hairline fracture in the foot is just a 3-4 week-type injury, but even Posada said it's something he's never dealt with before.

I know many of you are kneeling at the Cisco The Kid shrine, but trust me, Posada is the glue that holds the middle of the Yankees lineup together. We need him back, and hopefully it's sooner rather than later.

Chapter 6: Take A Deep Breath

We all know this won't last. The team will become whole again and the wins will flow. The plan is to get back to winning series, and there's really no better place to start than at the graveyard that is Citi Field. If nothing else, we can watch angry Mets fans make David Wright cry.

And Yankees fans thought they had it bad...


PROGRAM NOTE! River & Sunset will host its second live blog of the season for tonight's series-opener against the Mets! Visit to follow along. I guarantee at least one Steve Howe cocaine joke.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter at danhanzus.

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