Friday, October 30, 2009

Yankees path to No. 27 won't be easy

As someone who has followed the Yankees since the M&M Boys and the great home run chase of 1961 (yes, I am ancient), I’m obviously pulling for the Bronx Bombers to win World Series No. 27. But, despite the angst it might cause, I’m also hoping this Series goes the full seven because I believe that would be good for baseball, which could use a little good news for a change.
I’d love to see class acts such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada win another ring in what may be their final shot at this. But, unlike many Yankee fans who believe World Series titles are a birthright, I have the utmost respect for the Phillies. They are a talented and scrappy bunch. I enjoy the way they play. It would be no shame to lose to them.
The Phillies showed their grit in the eighth and ninth innings of last night’s loss to the Yankees when they fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch against Rivera. They made the greatest closer in baseball history work extremely hard for his save, and that could pay dividends when the teams play three games in three nights in Philly. Rivera was forced to throw 39 pitches to seal up the 3-1 victory, making it unlikely he will be available for all three games in the City of Brotherly Love. That means Joe Girardi might have to call upon someone else to close the deal, and that’s not an inviting prospect, given the bruised psyches of Joba Chamberlain and Philip Hughes. The best scenario for the Yankees would be more long outings by their starters.
If I were Girardi, I would have allowed A.J. Burnett to pitch the 8th inning last night, and saved the 9th for Rivera. For a former catcher, Girardi sometimes baffles me the way he misuses pitchers. I think he totally screwed up Joba this season, and I’m afraid he might wind up doing the same with some of the other talented young arms on the team.
Of course, criticism can also be directed at Girardi’s counterpart. What was Charlie Manuel doing leaving Pedro Martinez in for another inning? He should have been grateful to get what he got from the wily veteran and allowed his bullpen to handle the rest.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the rest of this plays out. Will Cliff Lee, who pitched brilliantly in Game One, be as sharp pitching on just three days rest for the first time in his career? Will A-Rod, who has looked horrible so far, with six strikeouts in two games, snap out of this funk? And will this series, heaven forbid, be decided by another bone-head call by the umpires? Stay tuned.


I feel for Michael Miller and my other friends who are Mets fans because this is the worst possible Series matchup for them. Think about it: they have to deal with their hated crosstown rivals and their hated divisional rivals playing for the championship.


PERSONAL MATTERS: Congratulations to my good friend, Pat Grover, who will be feted as a community champion today at the Greater Rochester Awards luncheon. I’ve been privileged to work with Pat through my affiliation with the Rochester Press-Radio Club, and I can tell you that she is an incredibly giving person who has done a magnificent behind-the-scenes job to help make our charitable organization and our community a better place. Well done, my friend . . . Belated congrats to another friend, Rich Funke, who was roasted at the Saints and Sinners banquet Monday night. Most of you know him as a sports and newscaster, but Rich also is one of this city’s great humanitarians. He has emceed our Day of Champions dinners for more than two decades and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the club through the charity golf tournament he holds in memory of his late son, Rich Funke Jr. He’s also got a great sense of humor, and more than held his own at the banquet, which featured witty and occasionally profane roasters such as Brother Wease and Don Alhart . . . Happy birthday wishes to my brother, Russ, who turns – egads – 64 on Halloween. Our family is full of holiday birthdays. I was born on Easter Sunday, my other brother, Wayne, was born on Flag Day, and my son, Chris, was born on Earth Day . . . And, finally, belated Happy birthday wishes to Dr. Carl Devore, a good friend who along with his wife and fellow physician, Cindy, has been incredibly generous to me and Beth.

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