It’s not important but it’s a big deal

I’ve been busy with a variety of events the past few days and as such, only caught the last 3 innings of last night’s game and none of the previous two. To be honest, I kind of like missing Yankee-Red Sox games. I watch almost every Yankee game during the year and if I don’t actually watch it, I’m following it on my phone or on the radio. Without question, I enjoy Red Sox games the least, and it has little to do with the Yankees recent ineptitude against Boston.

Sure, the Yankees have caught some bad breaks against the Sox this season, but in 2006 and 2007 it went in the Yanks’ favor – which everyone so quickly forgets. So why don’t I enjoy these intense battles? Well, partly because of what I just mentioned. I talk to Red Sox and Yankee fans alike who say how the Red Sox have “owned” the Yankees since 2004. Really? The Boston Massacre in Fenway in 2006? The crazy Yankee comebacks in 2007? In 2007, the Yanks owned the Sox head-to-head. Unfortunately, thanks to Torre not taking his team off the field as Joba was consumed by midges, the Yanks and Sox never squared off that year in the playoffs.

So what does that tell us? Two things: one, the head-to-head regular season numbers aren’t very important; two, people have very selective memories. When the Yankees beat the Red Sox, no one ever seems to really care – sure, Yankee fans are excited, but it doesn’t seem to impact the greater narrative of the season. But when the Red Sox win, it’s a big deal because it fits with the storyline – that the Red Sox have had the upper hand against the Yankees since 2004.

So why do I hate these games? Because it seems like the Yankees are in a no-win situation. Win, and we can temporarily suppress the insufferable “Red Sox Nation”; lose and it’s like the Yankees just lost the World Series.

There will be, without a doubt, a ton of ridiculous fallout from this series. People will want Girardi fired. Francesca will want Joba in the bullpen – well, he wants that anyways, but still. Vinny from Staten Island will call into the FAN and say the Yankees need to blow the whole thing up.

But of course the irony of all this is that this series really doesn’t matter all that much. Against an elite team on the road, you hope to win one game. The Yanks had two chances at getting that win, but fell short. There are still over 100 games to go. The AL is filled with mediocre teams. Odds are both the Yanks and Sox will be going to the playoffs, assuming they both get to 90 wins (which I think is a safe bet). Really, only a second half surge from the Rays (which is entirely possible) could threaten that.

All that said, I do think Girardi should have managed with a bit more urgency last night, if only to protect the psyche of his players. I know it’s easy to say in hindsight, but last night, once CC came out for the 8th (which I think was 100% the right move), that game should have only been CC’s and Rivera’s to win or lose. Once CC put two men on, Girardi should have went to Rivera. Joe said he would have used Mo for 4 or 5 outs, but not 6, which is pretty poor logic. Either way, he’s warming up twice. I would have rather seen Mo come in for 8th then seen someone else in the 9th. I know that’s heresy practically for a manager, but think about it: the Yanks were clinging to a lead. You have two innings to get through. The 8th there are two men on and no one out. The beginning of the 9th will have nobody on to start obviously. Which is the more perilous situation? Clearly the 8th. I would have used Mo for both, but I’m just saying. Mo looked great his last two times out and yet the Yankees went the entire series, which had two close games, without ever getting their best weapon into the game.

Baseball is a slow game when it comes to evolving strategy, but I think that figuring out the best way to deploy relievers is a revolution waiting to happen. You have to manage the situation. Heart of the order up, game on the line, you need your best pitcher. Bottom of the order, nobody on base, you don’t. Whether those situations are in the 8th or the 9th isn’t that important.

So now the Yankees are on to another series with overblown significance: the Subway Series against the Mets. On paper, the Yanks should be in good shape considering the pitching matchups. But hey, shouldn’t the Yankees have dominated Brad Penny with Sabathia pitching?

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