Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WEEKEND HANGOVER

Whew. One series down against the Yankees, and so far so good. The Yankees showed what they are: an extremely talented offensive team (especially 1 through 7) with a gigantic hole at first base, an old starting rotation that is constantly on the verge of breakdown (Pettite still has two trips to the DL scheduled before the season is over), and a bullpen that is already over-taxed by the end of April. For all the goodwill generated by A-Rod this April (wait, was he not the MVP in 2005? How many teams would enthusiastically take his down year last season? How about ALL of them!), the fact that his super-human April has carried them to a .500 record shows only how frustrating the Yankees are this season.

For the Red Sox, they took the best shot the Yankees had in them and still got the sweep. The Yankees should have won Friday night. No doubt about it. Hands-down a total choke job. Forget the Mariano Rivera is done talk. It is still early, he will work out his mechanical concerns and be over-worked by August. That said, the Sox stole that game. Regular Joe Torre managed the game (in APRIL!) like it was the playoffs (that is why I call him Regular Joe, because he is all about winning the regular season AL East title. Burn the bullpen and gas the starters, Regular Joe is safe as long as they finish first). Compare that to Terry Francona who handed the ball to Hideki Okajima Saturday night and was rewarded for his confidence in him.

Sunday night was the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home run show. The fact that no one at ESPN could get the facts until after a commercial break to idiot Joe Morgan (FireJoeMorgan.com: where is the Sunday night smackdown? Come on Ken Tremendous, we want the ridicule!) or the tremendously talented Jon Miller that the Dodgers did it last September is very poor work by the usually consistently good job done by ESPN baseball programming. A funny story about back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers: when I was 12 and on the Middleboro Little League All-Star Team (that would be about 1986), we were at a tournament and we pulled that off. The poor weak-hitting second baseman that came up after the four homers and grounded-out? Yup, yours truly. So Wily Mo, I know the pain of ruining a streak like that. I feel your pain, Big Guy.

The surprise for me this weekend was the bat speed shown by Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. Maybe these greybeards only needed the weather to jump above bone-rattling cold to get in gear. Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp looked dynamic: let me get on record right now and say those two guys belong at 1-2 in the order. Put Youkilis after Lowell at 7 and push Varitek down to 8. Also, Dustin Pedroia looked good Sunday night getting his hacks in. THAT was the Dusty-boy who climbed quickly up the minors.

All told, it is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too early to get too excited about the weekend sweep. But if the Sox continue to build on it this week and next weekend, they can stake out a little breathing room going into May that will keep the negative energies away from them for a while.

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