In the Bronx the Past is Not Enough

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No team has a more glorious past than the Yankees. No team comes close.

But the past can’t compensate for mistakes being made by their present owners, not that the sons of Steinbrenner aren’t trying to turn the clock back and not allow the fans to remember their most recent mistake. This weekend, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte returned to the Bronx to have their names retired. That’s an impressive ceremony in any ball park and nobody does it better than the Yankees do. But after the pomp and circumstance, the Yankees suffered the third injury to their starting pitching staff since the trade deadline, a day when the junior Steinbrenners did nothing to bolster their already troubled starting five. Both Cole Hamels and David Price were available and either could have been had for a bucket of curve balls, at least by the standards of the Yankees, the Donald Trump of sports teams. But the two younger Steinbrenners let both pitchers go to other teams and prayed. Their prayers were not answered. First, it was Michael Pineda, banished to the disabled list with a forearm strain. Last week, Bryan Mitchell was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of former Yankee Eduardo Nunez. Another day, another pitcher on the DL. Yesterday, it was the overstuffed lefty C. C. Sabathia leaving the game with pain in his knee. That knee had been operated on in July 2014 and had been troublesome all season. He’s not on the DL yet but probably will be.

So what’s left, besides the past up there on 161st Street in the Bronx? Luis Severino has pitched splendidly, but he’s still a rookie and all rookies have their ups and downs. Masahiro Tanaka? Every Yankee fan knows he has a time bomb in his elbow. Ivan Nova and Nate Eovaldi? Good pitchers, but hardly Spahn and Sain and two days of rain. And this team won’t score a thousand runs, as the Yankees  did in 1931. The Mets have a more exciting offense than the Yankees, and more pitching. Since neither Andy Pettitte nor Roger Clemens are coming out of retirement, I can’t see where the Yankees will find the pitching to get them through the end of September, much less into a playoff run in October.

Something New in Houston – Winning Baseball

This isn’t the Houston team of 2011-13, which lost 106, 107 and 111 games respectively. This isn’t even last year’s Astros who lost 92 games. This Astros team has a 69-56 record and a 4-game lead over their upstate rivals the Texas Rangers. The Astros are coming off a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, featuring a no-hitter Friday night by Mike Fiers and a walk-off win yesterday in 10 innings.

Like all young teams, this Astros team must do one thing if it plans on playing ball until Halloween. They need to learn to win away from MinuteMaid Park. As of now, they wipe out their foes in their home park, to a 45-21 record. But when they leave town, they carry a 24-35 record. And there’s no time like the present to figure it out, their next six games are away, against teams which also hope to play baseball in October. The Astros play 3 in the Bronx, then after a breather on Thursday they play 3 against the Twins. They can’t hope for a respite until the last day of this month when they return home to face the Mariners. Their  manager will be learning to win along with his players. While coach Rich Dauer was on the 1983 world champion Orioles, and coach Gary Pettis played for the Angels who were an out away from the 1986 World Series, manager A. J. Hinch has no such credentials. While he had great success in the scoring intensive metal bat world of 1990’s college baseball, in the majors he was an occasional player for a succession of bad ball clubs. It should be highly enjoyable for fans to watch baseball’s second-youngest manager try to lead his young troops into the uncharted territory of the playoffs. That’s baseball, as I see it.


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