I've been pretty hard on Mark Teixeira this year.
This can happen when a star slugger of your favorite team also happens to be the No. 1 pick in your big-money fantasy baseball league. It's kind of like doubling down in black jack—payoff is double the pleasure, but losing hurts twice as bad as winning feels good.
And there were times this season when Teixeira hurt me. Badly. You can make the argument he had the worst season of his life. Nearly all his numbers took a steep drop from 2009, including a batting average that plummeted 30 points below his career mark.
Yes, he hit 33 homers and drove in his customary 100 runs, but let's face it, the Great Hambino kid from The Sandlot could probably cross the century mark hitting around this talent.
Teixeira was obviously pressing at various points in the season, meaning his struggles appeared more mental than anything else. But amidst a September tailspin that he, like other Yankees, endured, news came of injuries to Teixeira's hand and foot.
The timing seemed curious. Now he says he's hurt?
I was incredulous to say the least. But on my way back from JFK last night, the sultry and alluring voice of Suzyn Waldman reported that Tex's pain was substantial enough to warrant a cortisone shot.
For those unaware, a cortisone shot is basically a needle so big it looks like a prop from a Carrot Top set being jammed into the part of your body where you're feeling the most pain.
Obviously, this isn't a pleasant experience, and it was proof that Teixeira's injury talk wasn't PR spin.
I wrote yesterday that the Yankees needed to get something out of their first baseman to win this ALDS. Then he went out and did the heavy lifting, ripping a double that kick-started New York's four-run rally off Francisco Liriano in the sixth, then hitting a towering two-run shot to bail CC Sabathia out in the seventh.
It was a majestic shot by Teixeira, a ball I initially believed he got too far out in front of to keep fair. In the funniest moment of the night, Joe Girardi, with a TBS camera right in his grill, implored Teixeira's ball to say on the right side of the foul pole. "Stay fair, ball! Stay fair, ball! Stay fair, ball!"
(Random aside: Is it just me, or is Girardi getting more braces every week? I think I saw some '90s-style rubber band in there last night.)
All in all, it was a great win for the Yanks. Robinson Cano (MVP), Jorge Posada (can't catch, can still hit), and Curtis Granderson (terror to LHP), all stepped up in the sixth, setting the stage for Teixeira's coming-out party.
Boone "No, I wasn't slaughtered in the Alamo" Logan, David Robertson, and Kerry Wood—note, no Joba—got the ball to Mariano Rivera with two outs in the eighth, and the G.O.A.T. took it from there.
Just like old times.
- "I know it's the postseason, but Girardi just looks absolutely tortured by all of this, as he has down the stretch. Looks like no fun for him." That was the tweet last night by ESPN columnist Buster Olney. I couldn't agree more. My girlfriend was shocked by how gaunt the manager appeared, saying the biggest key for the Yankees in the series was too make sure their manager didn't starve to death. Seriously though, something seems up with the guy. I really wouldn't be surprised if this is his last month with the team. Just a gut feeling.
- Here's the thing about Posada as catcher: Yes, he's a complete liability defensively at this point, but what's the alternative? Francisco Cervelli, who made the second most errors by a catcher in the AL despite playing in only half the games? The Yanks were right to give the Frisco Kid his shot, but they could use Jose Molina right about now. The lesson as always: Whenever you have a player whose nickname is the Big Panda, you keep him around as long as humanly possible.
- Funniest moment of last night: At about 2 a.m., I'm laying in bed trying to kick some serious jet lag when WFAN plays Sterling's call of Teixeira's home run. As you know, Sterling has specific home run calls for each Yankee, and in some cases, like with Teixeira, he has two. So, the ball clears the fence, and Sterling belts out No. 1 — "A TEIX message!" setting up No. 2, which should be "You're on the MARK ... Teixeira!" But Sterling, in his over-excited state, accidentally led with "MARK! ..." then let it just hang there for a few awkward beats before Waldman jumped in to save him. It was awesome.
- I predict that there's no way David Wells makes it through TBS' postseason coverage without getting fired.The network hired the gout-y ex-Yank to work in studio during the ALDS, presumably to be the unpredictable, filter-free guy the way Charles Barkley is on their NBA telecast. There's one key difference here, though: Barkley is inherently likable, while Wells just sits there looking like he want to beat the sh*t out of Dennis Eckersley for nine hours. Needless to say, I don't see this ending well.