One game, two viewpoints
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
As is often the case when the Yankees play the Red Sox, last night's opener of a two-game series in Yankee Stadium featured more ups and downs than your run-of-the-mill theme park ride. The Bronx Bombers prevailed, 11-9, in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. Here's how diehard Red Sox fan Scott Cordischi and lifelong Yankees supporter Mike Parente viewed last night's thriller in the Big Apple.
Scott: The Yankees are big spenders
That was as painful a loss as I have seen in a long time! So much so, in fact, that I would rather not spend any time on it if you don’t mind.
What I do know is the Yankees have scoreboard for the moment. They are the defending World Champions. And, after last night, the lead the Sox by 6 1/2 games in the division. What do you expect from a team that continues to grossly outspend every other team in Major League Baseball?
Before Yankee fans everywhere get their panties in a bunch, I understand that they operate within the ridiculously-stupid rules of baseball, which don’t include a salary cap. And I also understand the Red Sox own baseball’s second highest payroll, giving them almost as much of an advantage as the Yankees over the rest of the competition … almost!
According to the Associated Press, New York entered the 2010 season with a payroll of more than $206 million compared to Boston, which was a distant second at $162 million. In case you’re wondering, the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays spend less than half of what Boston does and about a third of what the Yankees do at $71 million.
No matter how much money you spend, your organization still has to have the ability to identify, draft and develop talent. It also must make good decisions when it comes to making trades and acquiring free agents.
Both New York and Boston have done well in these areas, as they should! Unlike the Rays, or baseball’s lowest-spending team, Pittsburgh ($34 million), they have a much bigger margin for error. They can quickly correct expensive mistakes and outbid the competition when it comes to prized free agents. And no team is more capable of that than the Yankees.
There is no doubt that it was their absurd offseason spending following the 2008 season that was directly responsible for them getting world championship No. 27. They spent a total of $423.5 million on C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. Think about that – almost a half-billion dollars on just three players! Not even the financially-secure John Henry and the Boston Red Sox could do that. Boston wanted Teixeira, but could not (or would not) match the bid put forth by the Yankees.
Of course, it was just Boston’s luck that they did outbid New York for one high-priced free agent. The Sox spent $51 million just for the right to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, which cost them another $52 million. Judging by last night’s start and the fact he has gotten progressively worse each year in the majors, this was a swing and a miss for Theo Epstein and the Sox.
Still, I’d like to think that if Epstein had a half-billion dollars to spend this offseason, maybe Boston could turn things around, too. We may never know.
Mike: Papelbon's meltdown takes Girardi off the hook
When it comes to Yankees-Red Sox games, I’ll take wins however I can get ‘em, but, if given the choice, I’d prefer to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at the expense of an obnoxious boob such as Jonathan Papelbon.
Maybe it’s the corny stare-down toward home plate (stolen from Mike Fetters, FYI) or the way he puckers his lips like a 17-year-old girl posing for Facebook. Or Riverdancing in his Hanes. Take your pick. The guy has always been an absolute clown, except now he’s an absolute clown who can’t close games, which makes his oafish behavior even funnier.
Papelbon’s latest meltdown last night saved Joe Girardi from his most indefensible loss of the season and saved my television from being tossed off the balcony. Two-run bombs by Alex Rodriguez (suddenly the most clutch hitter in the universe) and unlikely hero Marcus Thames in the bottom of the ninth turned a 9-7 deficit into an 11-9 victory for the Yankees in the first of two games in the Bronx.
Girardi should count his blessings, because he (mis)managed this game like a complete blockhead. You can’t blame him for Phil Hughes pitching like Phil Collins despite being spotted a five-run lead, but the way Girardi attempted to piece together the final four innings with his bullpen is grounds for dismissal.
First, he tried using Boone Logan, a veteran, junk-ball lefty with terrible control and a straight fastball, against a switch-hitter, Victor Martinez, who is more powerful from his right side. This first mistake resulted in a solo blast into the left-field seats that trimmed Boston’s deficit to 7-6. Then he tried to stretch out Chan Ho Park for a second inning of relief in the eighth despite the fact Park was making his first appearance following a one-month stint on the disabled list. Park served up home runs to Kevin Youkilis and Martinez to give Boston a 9-7 lead. His “effort” couldn’t have been more offensive if he literally dropped his trousers and defecated on the mound.
I have no idea why Joba Chamberlain wasn’t available to pitch the eighth after throwing only 22 pitches in Sunday’s game. Unless Chamberlain is injured, there’s no excuse for such caution on Girardi’s part. Here’s the real kick in the marbles: Girardi had no trouble asking his 40-year-old closer to get four outs Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, yet refused to push his 24-year-old setup man for the second night in a row.
The Yankees are banged-up right now (Alfredo Aceves, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson are all battling injuries) and Hughes did little to help the cause, but that’s no excuse for Girardi’s sheer stupidity Monday night. Thank goodness Papelbon turned out to be the biggest loser when all was said and done, otherwise this would’ve been a deflating loss for the Bombers. Instead, it was a thrilling victory Yankee fans can savor for at least 24 hours – and it couldn’t have happened against a bigger jackass.