Friday, October 30, 2009

Just like the Old Days

Once again, Pedro Martinez was on the mound. If it wasn’t already, the World Series Game 2 was instantly appointment television again.
I hadn’t been able to see Pedro pitch since he left the Sox. So, last night’s game was the first time since Game 3 of the 2004 World Series. It was obviously very different, but at the same time exactly the same. Even after all these years, Pedro still had “it.” The mound was his domain, and nobody should bother to mess with that. The velocity wasn’t there, of course, but everything else was. It was like the 1999 Pedro, with 10 MPH less on all his pitches. The hitters were off-balance. The curveball was still buckling knees. The change-up was still doing things that only Bugs Bunny could do before. The fastball was still faster than his other pitches, allowing him to blow people away at 88 MPH. People always used to say that Pedro could “pitch” even without his 98 MPH heater. Last night proved it. It was great to watch. Of course, even with all that, the Yankees were able to just barely outlast him. Pedro got the quality start. He would have won any number of games with the performance he gave. It just wasn’t quite enough. I look forward to game six…if necessary.
I remember Tony Pena once bunting with two strikes. It was commented at the time that it might have finally signaled the end. If he needed to be treated like a pitcher at the plate, maybe he was too much of a liability. Does this mean we can finally put to rest the ridiculous “Jeter for MVP” campaigns? Men at first and second, with nobody out late in a close game, and he’s bunting three times? Not exactly all that valuable if you ask me. Isn’t he supposed to own the postseason? Is that the ice water in his veins or his calm eyes telling him to give himself up at a crucial time? He just gave up!? Fox couldn’t mention enough times that he made the call himself to bunt. Apparently we’re supposed to think that he’s so selfless that he’s sacrificing his personal stats for the good of the team, without them having to tell him to. Frankly, I’d prefer that decision if it came from the bench. It’s one thing for Girardi to over-manage, and play percentages, and ask Jeter to lay one down. It’s another thing for Jeter himself to decide that he isn’t capable of getting a base hit…or flyball. I couldn’t believe it. Can you imagine Joe Mauer leaving it up to everyone else to drive in the runs? The so-called greatest player on the Yankees, in the house that he apparently built, can’t swing away? Are you freakin’ kidding me? I’m trying to imagine Jason Bay, or Dustin Pedroia, or Mike Lowell coming back to the bench after doing that. I can’t do it. Maybe it’s time for Jeter to selflessly remove himself from the Yankees line-up. Most valuable my foot.
The series starts anew on Saturday. This time, the Phillies have home field advantage.
Hopefully they can protect it.

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