Strip Club Capital of the World–There are only ten days left in baseball’s 2011 regular season…which, as many Met fans know, is plenty of time to screw up a lead in the standings. This is something Red Sox fans know as well, at least those who remember 1978 and the Boston Massacre (which pretty much cemented this then 10 year old writer’s love of baseball and the Yankees)…and there were whispers of that horrible early September weekend at Fenway this past weekend as those devilish Rays came to town and knocked the staggering Sox’s wild card lead down to two. On September 2nd, that lead was a seemingly robust nine, and the Sawx weren’t even thinking about it…they’d just lost two of three to the Yankees but still had first place in the East on their radar. Since then they’ve gone 3-11, including 1-6 to the Rays, who’ve gone 10-6 in that same span. Yankee fans are cackling to themselves, right?
Not so fast. The Yankees haven’t exactly been setting the baseball world on fire either. Today they return home from a grueling east-coast-west-coast-east-Canada road trip, and apart from Mo getting his 600th and 601st save (my prediction last week got one of those days right!), they haven’t looked exactly inspiring. With eleven games left in the next ten days, and seven of them coming against the Rays, the Yankees are staggering to the finish line on fumes. They and the Sox are like a couple of toddlers struggling to crawl across the lawn, only here come the charging big dogs. The Rays are still listed as +650 long shots to win the AL crown this year (down from over +1000 just a few days ago…why didn’t I jump on that at the time?), but they’re playing the best ball in the land right now, at the perfect time.
How could this be happening? This past off season they lost arguably their most complete player, Carl Crawford, to a division rival in the Sox. They lost their stud closer, Rafael Soriano, to their other division rival, the Yanks (both Crawford and Soriano have been, to put it nicely, underwhelming this year). Their best player, Evan Longoria, was injured throughout the first month of the season. They brought in Manny Ramirez, who promptly went “Manny” on them (before going Manny on his wife). Joe Madden was putting a different line-up out there every night, playing patchwork platoons and hunches and strange shifts. They still had BJ Upton on their team. Their new closer was Yankee cast-off Kyle Farnsworth. Their most productive player was former Sox and Yank Johnny Damon, who turned 73 this year. Their first baseman was slap hitting overgrown baby Casey Kotchman. They tried to make a folk hero out of Sam friggin’ Fuld.
Well, damnit, Joe Madden with his nerdy specs needs to be manager of the year, if not the century, for putting these guys in this position. Even if their city only wishes it could be part of the Redneck Riviera, with more strip clubs than hospitals, high schools, and synagogues, and a crappy dome that rarely fills up, this team is a fun bunch. Who can root for these guys? Well, pretty much everybody outside of Boston and New York right about now. Personally, if the AL Championship is between these guys and the Rangers, kill me now…unless I get down on that +650 (or the +400 that the Rangers are).
Also coming on strong this time of year, Grote2DMax tomorrow.