When I was a senior in high school, two guys asked me out for New Year’s Eve. Neither was an actual boyfriend (I was only in love with Mickey Mantle). One was quiet and dependable. The other was a lot of fun. But I couldn’t go out with both of them, could I? Brian Cashman’s dilemma is similar. He has to choose between Matsui and Damon, now that both are free agents. Does he decide to go with the quiet, dependable one?
Matsui did win the Series MVP and he’s been nothing if not an RBI machine ever since he joined the Yankees. He’s a lefty who hits for power and average, gets along with everybody and is a complete professional. His drawbacks? He’s strictly a DH, can’t run the bases given his bad knees, and he’s 35 – hardly ready for the assisted living facility but not young in baseball years. Still, can the Yankees really afford to part with Godzilla?
Johnny Damon’s slap-happy lefty swing was made for Yankee Stadium. He’s perfect in the #2 slot, makes contact especially with two strikes, can go yard into Damon’s Deck and is a speedy and smart base runner, as we saw from his pivotal steals of second and third in the World Series. His drawbacks? His weak throwing arm is a liability in left field, his legs need to be rested for maximum effectiveness, and he’s 36 – even though it seems like only yesterday that the Yankees signed him.
I loathed him as a Red Sock, but over the four years he’s been in pinstripes I’ve grown to appreciate his all-out effort, as well as his playfulness. Can the Yankees really say goodbye to the great chemistry he has with his teammates?
My solution would be to try to bring them both back. OK, I know that’s wishful thinking. I’m not in high school anymore.
So I’d pick Matsui, because he’s a better pinch-hitter.
No, wait. I’d pick Damon, because he’s a better all-around player.
Or maybe I’d pick Matsui, because he’s Pedro Martinez’s daddy.
Or maybe I’d pick Damon, because he doesn’t need a translator.
Matsui. Damon. Matsui. Damon. I don’t know! I need to talk to Cashman right away. He’s in Chicago at the GM meetings. I have to reach him before he does something crazy, so off I go.
I guess we’ll have to wait to hear about Matsui and Damon. You can’t say I didn’t try.
There it is: U.S. Cellular Field. It looks benign, doesn’t it? Even beautiful? But don’t be fooled. There are demons lurking in that ballpark, and they’ve sucked all the life out of the Yankees.
They attacked AJ Burnett in the second inning of today’s 14-4 horror show. How else to explain how a guy who’d been pitching brilliantly and become the ace of the staff had a complete and total meltdown in the inning, giving up five singles and a double and walking Nix, the #9 batter, with the bases loaded? No wonder he looked like this when he got back to the dugout.
He was drained of all his blood, and if you zoom in closely you can see the two bite marks on his neck.
Somehow he survived into the fifth inning, but he walked Nix again with the bases loaded for another run to make it 7-2 White Sox. I’m sorry, but that’s just not normal. By the time he was pulled for Bruney, he had taken on a pretty demonic look of his own.
Bruney kept the demons at bay until the seventh, when he, too, fell prey to them and walked Nix. It was hair-raising.
Coke came on for the eighth to face the lefty batters, but he went utterly batty himself.
Creepy? I’ll say. He allowed six runs and – you guessed it – he walked Nix (it was intentional, but still). Why Girardi was using Coke in a blowout made me wonder if Joe himself had been seized by demons.
Actually, I wondered about him right from the get-go. I mean, the lineup was nothing if not bizarre. I understand all the lefty-righty stuff, but Cody Ransom at first? Didn’t the Yankees get Jerry Hairston for his versatility? Or how about sticking Swisher at first and using Hinske in the outfield? Or what about not giving both Damon and Matsui the day off, even though they’re lefties; they’re also two professional hitters who know what to do at the plate. But the most confounding move of all was not using any of these players to pinch-hit for Ransom in the fifth or in the eighth when the Yanks were still down by only four runs and could have made it a ball game? Bad managing or another blood sucker on the loose at U.S. Cellular Field?
Everything about this game seemed tainted, poisoned. Jeter botched a routine grounder and Swisher and Hairston both made bad throws from the outfield, and Jorge couldn’t nail anybody stealing. And then there was the hitting – or lack of it. Whenever the Yanks would get runners on base, they were paralyzed by some unseen force and struck dumb and dumber.
I think the ultimate proof that the Yankees were attacked by demons today was the way they went down 1-2-3 in the ninth to this man.
Wouldn’t you be scared to death too?
But now that the horror is over for today, the question is whether there will be fresh hell tomorrow. The Yanks will send CC to the mound against Mark “Perfecto” Buerhle. Can they gather themselves and salvage the final game in this series? Or will this be another lost weekend, like the one in Anaheim, when everything that can go wrong will?
I hope the team has a closed door meeting before the game – to get everybody on the same page and to keep any further demons from intruding on the good times.