CANOE Network SLAM!Sports

 
SLAM! Sports SLAM! Baseball
  Mon, September 6, 2004


BASEBALL NEWS
BLUE JAYS
COLUMNISTS
COMMENT
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
STANDINGS
STATISTICS
PLAYERS
INJURIES
TRANSACTIONS




NFL CANADA




Yanks pay for poor play
Rotation turned the East into a contest
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

THE LATEST VISA commercial shows New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner sporting a cast. From signing too many pay cheques?

We thought he had signed enough, after all he has a team payroll of $180 million US.

Yet, here we are in the best month of all, the month that pennants are decided, and the closest division race is in the American League East. What happened to the Chicago Cubs battling the Houston Astros, or the Oakland A's and the Anaheim Angels going toe-to-toe?

$180 MILLION

The Yankees own a 2 1/2 game lead over the Boston Red Sox.

On Aug. 16, the Yanks led the Sox by 10 1/2 games.

Is it true that $180 million doesn't go as far nowadays as it used to?

Is there any way that the Sox could catch the Yanks and win the division?

Is there any way that the Angels could win the wild-card and bump the Yankees from post-season play?

Well, the answers are probably no and no to the last two.

Yet, think of the previous time that the Yanks headed towards October with their starting pitching so unsettled. Maybe 1960?

That October, starters Art Ditmar, Bob Turley, Whitey Ford and Ralph Terry were beaten in Game 7 when Bill Mazeroski homered off Terry, pitching in relief, to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

Yankees righty Kevin Brown threw a punch -- with his left hand -- at a cement wall at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Guess what? The wall won. Not even a dent or a paint chip.

Brown broke a bone in his hand and could be lost for the remainder of the season.

Javier Vazquez, freed from the twilight of Olympic Stadium has not been re-named Broadway Javier as yet. Being the starter and loser in a 22-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians won't help. Jon Lieber is 10-8, while Mike Mussina is 9-9.

It's not like when manager Joe Torre had Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens or David Wells as members of his rotation. Their best starter is Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez, who is 6-0.

Do they really want to turn to Esteban Loaiza (8.46 earned run average) with a one-game lead at Fenway Park?

Where did the season turn? Well, a good guess is July 24 at Fenway Park. Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in the top of the third. On purpose? A-Rod thought so. He started yelling at Arroyo.

Sox catcher Jason Varitek yelled back, stepped in between and then gave him a slap. Bill Mueller hit a walk-off homer against Mariano Rivera and the chase was on ... the Yankees were the hunted.

Since that July 24 dust-up, or Cowboying Up as the Sox say, Boston is 29-10. The Yankees are 22-18, including a stretch where they dropped nine of 16 games and a streak where they received three wins from their rotation in 17 starts.

Could this be 1978 in reverse?

Not only is the rotation a concern, but Torre has overused his bullpen as Tom Gordon (66 games), Port Hope's Paul Quantrill (75) and Rivera (64) rank 1-2-3 in appearances.

While the Yanks failed to obtain lefty Randy Johnson, they improved by getting John Olerud to play first, while the Sox improved more adding first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

HEAD TO HEAD

Six head-to-head games (Sept. 17-19 in the Bronx, Sept. 24-26 at Fenway) remain between the Yankees and Red Sox, who get along as well as the Republicans and the Democrats.

Their fans have more hatred for each other, without the political spin.

Our guess? The Yanks don't make the World Series and the Sox add another sad chapter to their heart-breaking history.

New York's ineffective rotation has helped turn the AL East race into a contest, Bob Elliott says

---

THE AMAZING RACE

The New York Yankees held a 10 1/2 game lead over the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 16. The gap has closed since then, setting up an exciting finish. The rivals face each other six more times this month (Sept. 17-19; Sept. 24-26).

W L PCT. GB L10

New York 84 52 .618 -- 6-4

Boston 81 54 .600 2 1/2 9-1