Saturday, July 21, 2007


To this point, I haven't totally bought into the Yankees’ Reclamation Project, circa 2007. That’s a good thing, because it would’ve made last night’s debacle at Yankee Stadium that much more disheartening and intolerable.

Any inroads the team had made in the first week of games after the All-Star break has been undone by two listless performances in the past 48 hours against two sub-.500 baseball teams.

Looking at the loss column only, the Yankees now trail in the division race and the Wild Card race by the exact same margin: 7.

Since the break, they have picked up two games on the sleepy Red Sox, who looked plenty alive last night, and have remained status quo in their pursuit of the Indians and Mariners. All three teams have 39 losses.

The Yankees are a respectable 6-3 since the All-Star game, and it’s not good enough, especially considering the last two games.

When I charted out the Path to Ninety-Five Wins two weeks ago, I had New York taking 3-out-of-4 in Tampa (check) and splitting the four-gamer with Toronto this week at the Stadium. Of course, they did more than that, taking the series 3-1 and playing their best and luckiest ball of the year from Monday-Wednesday.

It would’ve been easy to walk away from Thursday’s game, with a series win added to their proverbial belt and with the always-beatable Devil Rays coming into town, if the loss hadn’t been one more caboose on the one-run-loss train this team has been riding all season. A routine 6-3 hiccup would’ve sufficed.

Instead the Yankees went from primed to win (2 runs in the 1st and Wang looking automatic for the first 6 innings) to lifeless in about 2 hours. It was a terrible job by the Yanks’ ace not to close the door on a Jays team that had played a dreadful series, and an equally poor job by the offense, which, in the past two weeks, had been scoring runs at a clip to make you forget about the team’s 1st half slumbers.

However, when looking at the omnipresent Big Picture, the Yankees, according to my initial scribblings on the back of an envelope, actually had a game to play with coming into the Tampa series (remember, my target for August 1st is 56-50, still very much within reach).

Yet at the same time, after Thursday’s letdown, I didn’t think a 2-2 split here would be worth its salt. I thought/felt they needed to take 3-of-4, despite the day-night double-header today and despite the names of the two starters slated for today’s action: Igawa & DeSalvo.

Now a 2-2 split is the only sensible goal to ask for.

As far as my target for the upcoming road trip (at K.C. for four and at Baltimore for four): 6-2.

They already have one win in the bank, the to-be-completed game in Baltimore that was suspended on June 28th with the Yankees leading in the 8th. That means, realistically, they have to take 3 of 4 in Kansas City (a must) and 2 out of 3 in Baltimore (not asking for the moon there).

As much as my focus is on the Yankees’ numbers, there is also the matter of keeping Cleveland and Seattle within hailing distance. I refuse to even address the division “race” at this point, despite Boston’s slide into the realm of mediocrity since June 1st.

The Indians and M’s have both started weekend road series, in Texas and Toronto respectively, with wins. And in the case of Cleveland, that’s two wins in Arlington; the Mariners were off on Thursday. A split of their remaining games is all you can ask for in the case of both teams.

That means the Yankees have to go 2-1 to not slide back any further.

Rooting for the Yankees now, at this point in the season, is a combination of waiting for the other shoe to fall, which could come today in the form of a double-header sweep by Tampa, and waiting for them to rise from the ashes and make one of the more memorable playoff pushes in the team’s history. After last night’s cold dose of reality, I’m not holding my breath.

Before I sign out, I’d like to make more than a passing reference to the start of NFL training camps this week. I know one of my regular readers, Torse, is ready to go as he has already picked up the pace of his Jets-related emails this week. And then there is Chris, who dabbles in baseball, and is the biggest Eagles fan I know, who made it clear to me this week that opening week can’t come soon enough.

I have to admit too, that the football season looks as enticing as ever right now. Here in the Northeast, we’ve been blessed with two days of cool, crisp temperatures with low humidity. It’s only added to the anticipation.

So much to write about after taking a couple of weeks off . . . I didn’t even mention the fact that I made another addition to my list of ballparks attended. For the first time in 10 years. I wanted to write about Richard Thompson’s outstanding set in Boston three weeks ago, and haven’t gotten around to doing that. Then there’s the matter of the new batch of Robert Pollard releases . . . like his discography, the batch of material to push to me write never ceases. It’s just a matter of reacting to it fast enough.

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