In the minutes preceding the Yankees' miraculous, positively 2001-esque, one-run rally in the ninth inning last night against the Phillies, my friends and I attempted to glean any positive developments from a disheartening evening.
The conversation went something like this:
Dan: Um, CC battled through without his best stuff.
Howie: Yeah, definitely.
Howie: Marte did his job.
Dan: Oh yeah.
(Extended pause of sorrow)
Dan: That Jeter can still hit.
Bob: Handsome, too.
(Half a beat)
Dan, Howie, Bob: Oh yeah, definitely.
How bad was last night? Stationed at the Upper West Side bar, Blondies, I was interviewed by a NY Post reporter for your standard "fan reaction" piece . The bastard didn't even use my quote! What kind of Yankees blogger can't even get his Yankees perspective printed in the freaking Post ???
Nobody had a good night on Wednesday.
The negatives are far easier to come up with than the positives. Cliff Lee, whose nonchalant pop-up grab and "Look-how-cool-I-am" behind-the-back fielding skills make him genuinely unlikable, pitched a remarkable game. I watched nearly every Yankee inning this season and never saw them look as bad as Lee made them look last night.
And we can potentially see him two more times in the next week! Awesome.
Phil Hughes, meanwhile, has entered Section 8 territory on us, the latest chapter in a career with more weird twists and turns than a Passions marathon on Oxygen. He walked both men he faced to lead off the eighth, setting in motion the Phillies rally that buried any hopes of a comeback.
What do you do with Hughes at this point? The logical move would be to bury him in the back of the bullpen, but are you really going to try to win this series without the guy who was so instrumental to getting you to the playoffs in the first place?
It's truly a disappointing career development for a guy who had truly seemed to make The Leap.
I'm cautiously optimistic looking ahead to tonight. The Phillies offer up Pedro Martinez, who the Yankees always found a way to beat, even in his scary-good days. Do I expect Pedro to roll over tonight? No way. But if this Yankees team is as good as we think they are, they should be able to get Pedro out of the game by the sixth and put up some runs as they do it.
Oh, and one more thing, Pedro. You did beat up that old fat bald guy in 2003. It happened. Denial is not the route here. Just accept it and move on.
And then there's the issue of one Allan James Burnett. This is the exact moment the Yankees have tried to avoid all month, putting the right-hander in a high-pressure spot with a lot on the line. It seems kind of ridiculous to think that, seeing as New York paid Burnett $82.5 million to basically be a secondary ace for the team.
But it didn't work out that way during the regular season, and it hasn't worked out in the playoffs either. Burnett isn't going to earn his money this year, but he can at least salvage some respect with a strong showing tonight.
And this is the exact moment where I fully realize we're putting the season in the hands of A.J. Burnett. Excuse me while I go find a fire alarm to pull at Yankee Stadium.