THE FINAL REPORT 2006
Who would guess that a pitcher who has had NO luck, ever, against the Yankees, ever - zip, zero, zilch - would choose October 6 to pitch the best game of his life, a magnificent, exhilarating, breathtaking game, and knock out the best lineup in baseball. Unconscious. Congratulations, Kenny Rogers. That was nothing short of spectacular. Bonderman was good, but just afterglow. This victory is yours, Kenny. Congratulations, Detroit -- You won it fair and square. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Let's face it, when it comes down to it -- it's what they always say: Good pitching knocks out good hitting. Period. End of story.
Wow. I still have the wind knocked outta me. We lose to Detroit???? The A's sweep the Twins? Impossible! But true. Btw: congrats to all of my Bay Area pals.
I'm just glad I got to see Game 1 -- with the euphoria of a win and an expected championship.
It's gonna take a few days for it all to percolate -- and I reserve the right to tweak this third annual report for the next few days -- but here's my immediate take:
Congrats to Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, and the Yankees for a spectacular 2006 season. Yes, well-deserved congratulations.
Let us not forget, as the post-season grass burn stings, that this is a team that had two of its three outfielders out from May until September. That only got Bobby Abreu at the trade deadline. That lost Robinson Cano for six weeks -- and he STILL came in 3rd in the batting championship. That took the division early! That's not defeat, my friends. And a ton of the credit goes to Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams -- and Miguel Cairo and yes, Bubba Crosby -- who all stepped into HUGE shoes and did a magnificent job. I doubt we would have taken the division without Melky. He's the unsung hero of 2006.
And how can we complain about a season that included:
* The Boston Massacre! What a glorious sweep. And at Fenway!
* In the defensive play of the season, on June 6, Melky robs Manny of a possibly game-winning home-run with a perfectly timed leap, right in front of Damon, who becomes Melky's cheerleader. We win a tight 2-1 game.
* Knocking out Zito and the A's on a rain-drenched opening day in Oakland, 15-2.
* A delicious, warm 9-7 opening day at the Stadium, with a sweep of the Royals to get things started at home.
* The 17-6 blowout against Toronto on 4/29
* The 5-run 11th inning to beat the Tigers on 5/30.
* The 16-7 rout of the Mets on July 2.
*(We won't talk about the July 4 game in Cleveland, other than it lit a fire under the boys for the rest of the season, and we came back on July 5 with an 11-3 rout, during which Melky hit a grand slam.)
* The 9-run first inning on 9/12 that lead to a 12-4 hammering of Tampa Bay.
* The Orioles' Daniel Cabrera's spectacular pitching that almost was a no-hitter but for Robinson Cano's 9th inning shot to left field in the 9th. It felt like a win. But it also foreshadowed our post-season blank-out.
*Smothering the Twins in the September series. A huge confidence-builder against the surging Los Pirhannas.
162 games. 97 wins. 65 losses. Winning the division early, 10 games above second place TORONTO! 11 games above That Team Up North.
That's not a bad season.
So what's next?
* Maybe it is time for A-Rod to go somewhere where he can shine in the spotlight. He just doesn't seem to be able to make it in New York -- like other talented folks who just can't cut it in the Big Apple. I genuinely feel sorry for him -- but it might be like that employee who just simply doesn't fit in an organization. He might thrive elsewhere. He just doesn't understand Jeter's world. Compare him to Bobby Abreu - that will tell you all you need to know. Bobby didn't WANT to be a star, he just wanted to play on a team. And he was magic!
* Cashman, please get us D-Train, Zito and some more youngsters for the mound. If we've learned one thing from Melky and Cano -- and from Joe Girardi and from the As and the Tigers -- (and yes, from Papelbon) it's that we need to keep the kids in the game. A-Rod should be good trade bait.
* Please keep Joe Torre. He's not the problem here. The problem is pitching. But in my heart of hearts, I have a feeling that Torre's gone. That Sheryl Crowe song is going thru my head. I admire Joe so much, I have learned so much from him. I try to emulate him -- but can't come close -- as a manager.
But maybe it IS time for sweet Lou..... Maybe we do need some fire in the clubhouse for a while. And if they keep A-Rod, there's good history between Lou and A-Rod. After all, it's not JUST pitching -- you also have to hit those balls. It was not lost on anybody that Posada and Jeet were the only two with any magic in the bats in the last few days.
* Here's a thought: Do you think our troubles could be a rain-out curse? Think about it! 2004/2005/2006... but we'll explore that later. :)
Yankees, for a wonderful year. Thanks for Damon -- how quickly we grew to love him -- and La Leche -- and for Jeet and Bobby and Georgie and Miggie and the kids from Columbus -- and for excellent, excellent trades. It was a good season, don't forget that, against ALL odds. You did good Joe. You did good Cash.
And even more thanks to those who joined us for the memorable 2006 Opening Daze Sudafed/Motrin Tour of frigid Oakland, opening night at Anaheim, opening day at The Stadium and the third annual DomeFest. (Special nod o' the cap to Matt Levine, Gary Mirkin and Kevin Vermeulen.) Next year: San Francisco Giants!!!!!
Finally, very special thanks to Charlie Plohn and Kevin Dart; to the ALM addicts (you know who you are); to the Halo gang (Ernie Pruckner, Stephanie Peck Hall, Joe Scott, and "Mark McGwire," Ashby Jones, and Mary Klepper); to Lisa Rasmussen and Los Pirhannas; to Jersey Girl and Jon Bream; da the Boston Clan (Silvia Coulter, Al Nye, Neil Aresty, et al); Camden crowd (Yvonne Dornic et al), to the Lakeville troops (Jim and Barb Charlton et al) and to Ron Stevens and the Kunkel family, John MacKenzie and the other fabulous folks I met at various stadiums; to my brother Bill and our CEO Bill, and my boss Aric, and my staff -- to all the rest of you who put up with my enthusiasm all year.
It was a good season.
Now, Willie, go kick butt!! Bring that trophy to NY.
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