June 2007

Bronx bust?

That is the $200 million question as the Yankees invade Fenway this weekend. Are the Yankees done? Or will they come in this weekend and show signs of life and get back into this thing.

It’s almost unfathomable that the Yankees would need to sweep the Red Sox just to get this thing down to 10 1/2 games. The Yankees have had bad luck, bad karma, bad pitching and biggest surprise of all — subpar hitting. And now Jason Giambi is gone for who knows how long, A-Rod is taking a beating again in every possible way and Phillip Hughes, the young savior, won’t pitch again for months.

The Red Sox? Everything is going right. Pedroia, the No. 9 hitter, has a .308 average. Then there is Youkilis, who suddenly looks like a right-handed Wade Boggs, circa 1985.

I wonder how Red Sox fans felt at this point in 1978? Just because I was curious, I asked my friend Jack Marshall, a die-hard who I have been corresponding with for the last eight years.

question! I remember thinking that the Sox clearly had the better team (they
should have won in ’77), but that the Yankees had the better manager
(Martin, later Lemon). I remember feeling that the Sox bullpen and
starting pitcher depth was suspect. I didn’t decide the Yankees were
cooked until quite a bit later, after the melt-down in Fenway with
Jackson and Martin having the screaming match in the dugout. I remember
thinking, maybe a little later, that it was absurd that Zimmer never
used his bench, and played the regulars day after day, never using
Brohamer or Duffy or giving Fisk a rest. I never trusted
Most of all, I remember feeling a sinking feeling when Zimmer made the
Sox trade Carbo, the best part-time player and in my mind a team hero
after the ’75  series. A classic "why louse up a good thing?" The team was never quite right after that, even
though they lengthened the lead.

"This team has much better depth than those Sox, especially the way
Francona uses the bench. The Rooster and Remy were better than the
current keystone. I’d take Lowell over Butch at third, and though I
loved Boomer, he lost it in ’78….Youk is better. Fisk was a better
catcher and hitter than Tek, and Lynn was twice the player Coco is.
Rice in ’78 was better than Manny, though not by too much. Ortiz is way
ahead of the ’78 Yaz at DH. Evans hadn’t emerged as an offensive force
in ’78…I’d rather have Drew.

"The teams are close on the field, though I’d give the edge to the 78
Sox offensively and defensively. But the 2007 Sox are far better on the
mound…and the 2007 Yankees just aren’t anywhere as talented as the
’78 team…they are old, and as you know, I believe only injuries to
the Sox and lucky breaks (Aaron Small!!!) kept them from finishing
behind Boston in both ’05 and ’06. And Zimmer isn’t managing, and the front office isn’t going to sit
tight while the Yankees buy late season talent.
This won’t be 1978."

Jack’s words have to be a little comforting for those who wonder if they’re in the Twilight Zone. If there is any life in the Yankees, they’ll at a bare minimum, win this series.

Should be fun.