October 12, 2005

Taking Joy in Yankee Failure

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Ballgame over. ALDS over. Angels win. The-eh-eh-eh-eh Angels win. Oh, John Sterling. You are an idiot.

The Angels Game 5 triumph over the Evil Empire on Monday night means that I, and all other righteous individuals (Yankee haters), can now rest easy for the next six months. For the first time in a while, loathing the Yankees is actually becoming a rewarding activity. Instead of being miserable every season, I am starting to get used to marking my calendar for that extra special holiday that comes around once a year sometime in October: Yankee Elimination Day. I mean, no offense to Thanksgiving, but this is my idea of a celebration. If we had classes yesterday, I have no doubt that the Cornell administration would have given everyone the day off to rejoice.

The best part about the whole day is that Yankee fans do not know how to respond to losing. It is amazing the excuses that come out of these peoples’ mouths – the umpires blew the game, A-Rod isn’t a real Yankee, Cashman should have kept Contreras, etc.

Bottom line – the Yankees choked. There is absolutely no excuse for losing to a vastly inferior Angels club after being ahead one game to none and taking an early 2-0 lead in Game 2. They had the Angels on the ropes – they just could not put them away.

The Yanks should have won this series in four games. But, despite playing like dogs, they were given yet another golden opportunity on Monday night to finish Anaheim off. Instead of going up against Cy Young favorite Bartolo Colon- who other than one bad inning, shut down New York in Game 1 – the Yankees got to face 22-year old Ervin Santana.

Don’t get me wrong – I think Santana is a good, young pitcher. But in the playoffs, the Yankees eat inexperienced guys like him for lunch. And it looked as if New York was going to do just that, after the first four batters Santana faced reached base in the second inning. The guy was obviously feeling the postseason pressure – and nobody was warming up in the Angels’ bullpen.

I thought the game was over. It was not as if he was getting rocked – he just wasn’t throwing strikes. He walked the first three hitters, followed by a run-scoring single by Bubba Crosby of all people. However, the Yankees only came away with two runs because Cano was caught stealing in between the first two free passes – essentially running the Yanks out of a big inning.

Given Santana’s propensity for wildness, I cannot understand Torre’s reasoning for sending Cano in that situation. Williams was at the plate with a 3-1 count, and Santana could not find the strike zone. The Yankees should have let the rookie beat himself – but instead, gave him a way out of the jam.

Santana went on to pitch 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball for the Angels on Monday night. But, he should not have even gotten out of the second inning. If Game 5 was played at Yankee Stadium, he most definitely wouldn’t have. But, because of the Yankees’ loss at Fenway on the last day of the season, New York had to battle the Angels in Anaheim – which likely was the difference in the series.

However, even after Cano was thrown out, the Yankees had first and third with only one out and the top of the order coming up. However, Jeter flied to right and A-Rod, as usual, struck out.

Most of the talk yesterday revolved around how A-Rod choked on the big stage once again. Rodriguez was awful. He finished the series with a .133 batting average, zero RBI, and went 0-for-7 with men on base – this all coming from a guy, who led the team in all three Triple Crown categories during the regular season. The biggest out Rodriguez recorded was the double play ball in the ninth inning on Monday that all but squashed a Yankees comeback effort.

However, while a lot of the blame has to fall on the 252 million dollar man, many of the Yankees hitters had a terrible series. Given the state of the Yankees pitching staff, the offense needed to overpower the Angels – however, the combination of Rodriguez, Sheffield, and Matsui went 12-for-56 in the series, with only 3 RBIs and zero homeruns. The Angels – who only had one player hit over 18 dingers in the regular season – out-homered the Yankees in the ALDS, 4-2.

Steinbrenner has to be absolutely furious with his team’s failure for the fifth straight year in a row. What the Yankees need to do is rebuild their farm system under the direction of Gene Michael. However, the angrier the Boss gets, the more impatient he gets – as his input with the team is running it into the ground. The club he wants to assemble has the ability to sell four million tickets, but it does not have the necessary pieces to win a World Series.

Bryan Pepper is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. Raising the Apple will appear every other Wednesday this semester.

Archived article by Bryan Pepper