You could say the Yankees’ fabled Core Five dynasty wouldn’t have happened if Gene Michael—the Yankee general manager who was inadvertently allowed to build it, and who died of a heart attack 7 September at 79—hadn’t had something in common with Phil Rizzuto, other than being Yankee shortstops a couple of generations apart.
SVEUM SONG—I’m not sure who didn’t see this coming, but Dale Sveum—the man with no managerial experience at any professional level (not counting his quick interimship and postseason trip with the Brewers) whom the Cubs chose over Ryne Sandberg two years ago—has been executed. Sveum was going to be judged on development more than performance, but some of the key Cub developments didn’t exactly go as intended, like Starlin Castro staying prone to defensive lapses while his hitting has dipped significantly enough, or Jeff Samardzija pitching like an All-Star one moment and a 1962 Met the next.
The game meant nothing to the Yankees otherwise. They staggered out of the postseason picture one day earlier. These mostly old and mostly battered Yankees had nothing but will to get them far enough that they held onto postseason hopes by a frayed thread at best. Behind 4-0 to the Rays Thursday night in Yankee Stadium, a deficit that would hold up, there was only one reason for manager Joe Girardi to bring in his closer at all, never mind in the top of the eight.
By now it’s a waste of space to suggest Bob Costas should be baseball’s next commissioner, simply because he doesn’t want the job, and never really has, no matter who’s thought how highly of his mind and love for the game. Unfortunately, the Man Who Wouldn’t Be Commissioner doesn’t help his own anti-cause by saying things that cause people to think he ought to be dragged into the job by any means necessary when Bud Selig decides at last that it’s time to retire.
As the latest contretemps involving Alex Rodriguez continues winding (or unwinding, as the case may well be) toward somewhere, Hal Steinbrenner, perhaps inadvertently, allowed to slip a hint that maybe, just maybe, the Yankees are learning in in-house cultural terms to deal with baseball’s, and any sport’s, least repealable law.
The Empire Emeritus and its managing general partner may pledge to cooperate with baseball government’s probe into Boschgate (“But other than that, there’s not much to say”), and they may be pondering ways to divest themselves of Rodriguez’s presence and its baggage, actual or alleged. But they may also be learning the hard way the lesson Steinbrenner’s larger-than-life father didn’t always seem have known.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
What a difference Monday makes. To Jim Johnson and to the Baltimore Orioles.
On Sunday night, Johnson got slapped around like a parakeet when he came in to try holding a two-all tie. On Monday, he and his fellow bullpen bulls stood fast enough, after rookie Wei-Yin Chen out-pitched and out-smarted out-of-retirement, wizened Andy Pettitte, before getting tired in the top of the seventh.
And the Orioles had it even with the Empire Emeritus, a 3-2 win played about as tightly as a baseball game can be played under any conditions, never mind postseason conditions that include only slightly veiled weather threats.