Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Wither' the Yankees?

The complaining from long-time Yankee fans is hard to stomach (and by "long-time", we mean as long as Mr. Intangibles has been in the big leagues, the equivalent of the "pink hats" in Boston.) The Yankees have won 9 division titles in a row (Quick Quiz: name the last AL East team other than the Yanks to win), but the dream, as they say, is about to die, notwithstanding the results the past two, er three, nights(*). To put it in perspective, the last time the Red Sox won a division title (1995), the lineup included the following immortals (note: because of the strike, the Sox played just 144 games in 1995):

C - Mike MacFarlane (115 G)
2B - Luis Alicea (132 G)
3B - Tim Naehring (126 G)
SS - John Valentin (135 G)
OF - Mike Greenwell (120 G)
OF - Troy O'Leary (112 G)
OF - Lee Tinsley (100 G)

Add 1B Mo Vaughn and DH Jose Canseco to the mix and you could imagine how the Sox could compete in the tabloids, if not on the field...

As for burning through pitchers, it is a Yankee tradition that precedes Joe Torre (who, by the way, preceded Mr. Jeter by one year in New York). In 1989, for instance, the Yankees had a then-23-year-old Al Leiter throw 174 pitches in a single outing; he then struggled through a total of fewer than 10 major league innings in the next three years -- combined. (Leiter, it should noted, is currently a color analyst on the YES Network; perhaps the Bombers felt guilty about blowing out a young arm.)

What does that mean to Roy Oswalt? The Astro's starter has been a workhorse over the past few years, including leading the league in starts twice (2004, 05) and has been in the Top Ten in Innings Pitched 5 of the past 6 years (including 2007, where he is currently third). Let's hope that the modern pitch count era means that Mr. Oswalt won't be the "victim" of a modern-day Billy Martin next year in Houston.

Quick Quiz Answer: Your Baltimore Orioles in 1997

(* - Sox lost, 5-0, as Yanks completed the sweep.)

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