At this point, it's obvious starting Pedro Martinez last night was a bad move by Charlie Manuel. Shit, I knew it was a bad move when the announcement was made on Monday night; Pedro is old, has no stuff anymore, and was working on regular rest, which after having eons of rest between his start against the Dodgers in the LCS and his start in Game 2, was going to seem like a regular pitcher throwing on 2 days' rest. But given Charlie's other options: mediocre Joe Blanton, crybaby Cole Hamels, and definitely dead tired Cliff Lee, Pedro seemed like the logical choice. Some may argue J.A. Happ, but after watching his pants-pissing performance in relief, that theory can be put to bed with your kids.
Enter my friend, D-Skar. The kid is a closet baseball genius and he noticed how awful Pedro was last night probably before you and I did. Somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd inning last night he sends me this text:
"The phillies should bring in freddie prinze jr. from summer catch."
After I got done laughing my ass off because, let's be honest, that's damn funny, that one statement got me thinking; were there better options out there for old Uncle Charlie last night than a washed-up, possibly-still-having-a-tummy-ache Pedro Martinez? Of course there were. Here are 4 pitchers that would have been lightyears better than Pedro last night and explanation as to why any of these 4 studs could have had us all glued to our TVs tonight for Game 7 instead of fighting to get a good spot for the parade tomorrow.
1) Ryan Dunne, LHP, Chatham A's
He's younger than Pedro, which means more velocity and sharpness on his pitches. As locked in as the Yankees were on Pedro's fastball (if that's what you want to call it) last night, some more speed and movement from a young arm could have helped to slow down their bats and keep them off-balance, not to mention provide length to save Charlie Manuel from having to go to his bullpen early. And to top it all off, the kid's a lefty! You saw what Cliff Lee did to them in Game 1; what's to say Dunne doesn't go out last night and put on a similar shutdown performance?
2) Chet Steadman, RHP, Chicago Cubs
A veteran pitcher even older than Pedro, but still with plenty of juice left in the right arm. I mean shit, you don't get the nickname "Rocket" for nothing. A straight fireballer of Steadman's caliber could have given the Yankees problems since they had yet to face a starter with consistent mid- to high-90s heat in the postseason. There would also be no worry about jitters as a veteran with Steadman's pedigree would not have been shaken by the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.
3) Mel Clark, RHP, California Angels
A carbon copy of Steadman, Mel Clark is another older pitcher who found the fountain of youth and with it, greater velocity on his fastball. Clark had some questions about the strength of his shoulder due to years of wear and tear, but based on his previous outings seemed healthy enough to give at least 5 to 6 good innings. And by watching this game film, it's clear the guy is a battler and inspires confidence in his teammates, even if he throws like a girl with muscular dystrophy. Any time you've got a guy with angels on his side, you're going to be in good shape. All the clutch hitters in the world can't compete with divine intervention.
4) Eddie Harris, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Maybe the oldest of the bunch, but a battle-tested gamer and devout Christian, Harris could have provided the biting off-speed stuff that Pedro showed in Game 2 with the aid of his various foreign agents. Would it have been illegal? Sure. But when you're faced with elimination you've got to do anything you can to win, and with a track record of never being caught, one has to assume Harris could be crafty and discreet enough to keep his doctoring from being noticed by the Yankees.
I would have been shitting in my pants twice if any of these horses were on the mound in a must-win situation for the Phillies last night, but Charlie stuck with Pedro and the rest is history. The navy and white ticker tape is being shredded, the Canyon is being cleared, and Scott Eyre is eating chocolate-covered Twinkies.
(Thanks to Brian S., friend of the blog, for the photo)
Ahh yes. Nothing completes a World Championship like some good old-fashioned, double-entendre marijuana humor. And the quality of the artwork is surprisingly good. No cheesy "FOX" signs here, folks. This is the big leagues.
* Did I fucking call it or did I fucking call it??!! 6 games, 4-2 series, just as I predicted and just as the stats predicted. Screw being the defending champion, that doesn't mean shit. The better team and better players will usually prevail and that's exactly what happened.
* Good omen for the game last night: Joe Buck informed us all last night during the bottom of the 1st that Pedro called his Mommy after Game 2 to tell her he didn't feel well when he was pitching. Ready? All together now...AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well I hope you had a good excuse to give her last night, douche. Maybe she can come make you a grilled cheese sandwich and some Campbell's Chicken and Stars soup while you lay on the couch today and watch all the highlights of your miserable performance.
* Matsui's at-bat in the 2nd last night was the most glaring proof that Pedro had nothing. He tried to force feed Hi-dek fastballs that didn't have any oomph behind them, afraid to go to his off-speed stuff after what Matsui did to the curveball in Game 2. Fortunately for the Yanks, the last pitch of the at-bat had some authentic A.J. Burnett "ride right back over the heart of the plate" bite on it. Matsui owned Philly pitching in this series, almost as much as Chase Utley owned CC.
* More proof of Pedro's knowledge of his own ineffectiveness last night: hitting Teix in the bottom of the 3rd. After what Matsui did to him the previous inning, Pedro wanted no part of a power lefty and drilled Teix to avoid any confrontation. Amazingly enough, we didn't have to listen to Tim McCarver go on and on about how he didn't think it was intentional.
* Did Joe West not realize who was on the mound for the Yankees last night? It was Andy Pettitte for Christ's sake, not Tanyon Sturtze. Give the guy a fucking call!! Andy wasn't super sharp last night, but he also wasn't wild. His pitch count was artificially inflated by at least 2 walks that can be directly attributed to West's strike zone turning into the Bermuda Triangle in the 4th and 5th innings.
* The double play turned on Jimmy Rollins' grounder in the 5th never happens without Cano's arm at 2nd. Rollins is a fast runner and the ball wasn't hit all that hard, but Cano has such a cannon that he almost made the play look easy. At least he's good for something.
* Is there a sexier phrase in baseball than "Chad Durbin takes over for the Phillies in the bottom of the 5th?" When I heard that walking out of the bathroom between innings I almost took my clothes off and lit some candles to set the mood.
* Actually, there is something sexier than that, and that is J.A. Happ coming in to replace Durbin. I know Uncle Charlie didn't have many viable options in that pen but shit, if that's who you're going to bring in when you need to keep the score where it is, you might as well just wave the white flag right there.
* Buck sounded like he wanted to die when Matsui got the double in the 5th to bring in the 2 back-breaking run. Come on, Joe, I know you aren't a Yankees fan but you weren't at your Dad's wake giving his eulogy, you're calling a World Series game. At least try to pretend to show a little fucking enthusiasm.
* Who the fuck did Ryan Howard think he was when he said something to Cano rounding 2nd after his 2-run home in the 6th? Check the stats, assclown, you're team is still in a 4-run hole with 10 outs left and you left Chase Utley high and dry all series with your pathetic swings. Not to mention the fact that you ended up setting a new World Series record with 13 strikeouts after Marte tooled your ass in the 7th. So yeah, fuck off. Maybe go shoot another gay Subway commercial with Jared in the offseason.
* Speaking of Marte, he was the Yankees unsung MVP of the series. He retired every batter he faced and seemed to get better and better with each out. From the beginning of the postseason to the end I went from not even wanting Marte to touch the team luggage to being ecstatic that the Yankees have him for 2 more seasons.
* Another example of the Yankees dedication to playing the game the right way: Jeter and Cano ALWAYS touch second base when they turn 2, and most of the time it's not even debatable as to whether they may have missed it. No "neighborhood play" here, thank you. They'll earn all 27 of their outs.
* Great text from my Dad in the 6th inning: "Gardner's gloves look like he's doing yard work." After reading that, I took a look during Brett's at-bat and you know what? My old man is right! What the fuck is that about? Does Gardner have really small hands or something? He looked like he was wearing a pair of those Mickey Mouse gloves from Disney World last night. I'm a big Gardner fan, but the way he swung the bat last night, he probably could have put those batting gloves to better use helping the grounds crew.
* Bottom 7th- Joe Buck informs us that Scott Eyre was "bouncing around" the locker room before the game because somebody gave him a chocolate-covered Twinkie to eat. Really, Scott? Your team is trying to keep their season alive and you're excited about a chocolate-covered Twinkie? Hope you enjoyed them after the game in your clean, dry locker room, you fat bastard. Me? I'll take champagne over Twinkies any day.
If that doesn't show the difference between the Yankees and other organizations then I don't know what does. Spare me the bullshit stories about teams with "loose locker rooms," and "a good bunch of guys," and all that crap. At the end of the day it's about being a professional and winning and nobody does that better than the Yankees.
* Another great call by Joe going to Mo for 5 outs and not even giving the Phils a chance to put runners on against the likes of Hughes. The Phillies made him work, forcing him to throw 42 pitches for those 5 outs, but in the end Mo was Mo and got the job done. He's almost more of a sure thing than death and taxes at this point in his career.
* After the game Mo said he might play for 5 more years? Yes, please. Even more amazing than that was his admission to the BBTN crew that he had been dealing with a rib injury that was so bad, he didn't know if he would have been able to throw another game. I don't think anybody knows how long he's had that injury, but in the next few weeks you expect that to come out and it just puts Mo on a whole new level of awesomeness. Peter Gammons couldn't have said it any better when he called Mo the MVP and Cy Young of the last 15 years.
* Speaking of Gammons, despite that one great line of praise, his attempts to dredge up the past and hand out back-handed compliments to the Yankees last night was borderline disgraceful. A guy like Rivera leaves his teammates to come out and talk to you and your co-workers on live TV and all you can mention is the Game 7 loss in 2001, saying things like "with the 3 broken bats, sometimes the breaks just don't go your way?" Then in analyzing Pettitte's performance, your whole argument is based around him not having good stuff, no location, no this, no that, blah, blah, blah. Guess what, dick? Pedro didn’t have shit last night either and the Yankees pounded him. Andy got the outs he needed to get, the Phillies didn't. End of story.
What a piece of garbage. Get off your high horse, take the Red Sox panties off, and give the Yankees some fucking credit. If I was Mo, I would have slapped Gammons and tried to give him another brain aneurysm. The Yankees were classy in victory again last night; it's too bad the Worldwide Leader couldn't be classy in defeat.
* Seeing Joe running around hugging everybody and their mother on the field during the celebration was nice. After maintaining a cool, calm, focused demeanor all series and all season, Joe let it all out last night, laughing, smiling, thanking the fans, and carrying on like he was back in '96 or '98 again. You could practically see the memories of those past glories coming out of him as he went from player to player, embracing them and pounding them on the back. For those couple moments, he wasn’t their manager, but one of the boys again and it was cool to see.
* I personally would have picked Mo for the MVP just because he's the biggest difference maker for either team when you stack them up head-to-head, but I can't argue with Hideki getting it after that performance. To sit on the bench for almost 3 whole games and then get back into the lineup would mess with most guys' timing, but he was just as locked in last night as he was in the beginning of the series. Did he earn himself a new contract next year? I think so. I'd like to see the team get younger, but Matsui showed all year that he can still get it done and the Yanks would be hard pressed to match his production with any new player they pick up. It may only be a 1-year deal for $5-8 mil, but I would take one more year of Hideki if he's swinging like that.
* People (and by people I mean ESPN), can say whatever they want, but the fact is the best team won the series. From the middle of summer on, the Yankees established themselves as the best team in baseball and they continued to do the things that brought them their regular season success through the playoffs. Sure the offense as a whole wasn't as dominant, and the bullpen cracked some leaks, but they got the hits they needed to get and outs they needed to get when they needed to get them, and that's the sign of a great team. Most of this crew will be back next year, another year older, yes, but that's what everybody said about this year's core and look how it worked out for them.