Well, it was exactly as it was in 1999 in the fiction world of Kevin Costner. In the movie For Love Of Game Costner plays Billy Chapel, an aging pitcher for the Detroit Tigers heading for the mound for may be his last time ever. The team owner has sold the organization to a corporation and they have plans to trade Billy. His arm continues to fail him more every time he steps up to thrown. And to top it all off, Billy must deal with his tempestuous relationship with Jane, a woman he met by a broken down car on the side of the road five years ago and has yet to fully commit to. With all these thoughts swirling inside Billy's head, he unknowingly begins pitching a perfect game. Unable to keep his mind clear, Billy thinks back on his life during the game and considers the mistakes he has made and the people he has met.
Saturday afternoon in Comerica Park in Detroit it was not an aging star working on a perfect game but the 24 year old Jeremy Bonderman doing the deed. Well he took it into the fifth inning before Robbie Cano broke it up. Bonderman was sublime for 8 1-3 in leading Detroit to an 8-3 victory in Game 4 eliminating the Yankees in the first round once again.
Two years ago this Tiger team lost 119 games. Last weekend the were swept by the last place Kansas City Royals. This weekend they beat the team with the best record in baseball and knocked them out of the post season. What a difference a week makes.
Just how did the Yankees get to the post season? During their drive to first there were numerous come from behind late inning victories. Just too many to count. In a short series, especially a short one of five games you can't win that way. Especially with our bullpen. Chein Ming Wang was tired and was winning with his head. Moose was hurt as well as the Unit. Jaret Wright couldn't get us past the fifth inning and Cory Lidle was iffy at best.
We were playing much better team ball when Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield were hurt. Melky Cabrera and Bobby Abreu broght new life to this team, "team" being the highlighted word there. The team actually looked like they enjoyed winning for the first time since Paul O'Neill retired.
The relief corps were shot. Scott Proctor and Ron Villone were burnt out. Villone not even being used in the post season. Kyle Farnsworth was damged goods. His back locked up every other time out. The only bright spot was Brian Bruney who proved he could pitch the big games if he wasn't overworked. Mariano Rivera was well rested and back but his future is uncertain. We didn't get much chance to use him anyway. We have to start grooming a replacement in the minors.
To wrap it up the hitters weren't hitting causing the starters to pitch like they have to pitch a shutout to win. What leads they did get were handed right back by the inconsistancy of Mariano's bridgemen.
What about next season? We have all winter to discuss that.