Yanks-Tribe Postmortem

First of all, congratulations to the Cleveland Indians and their fans. Unlike a lot of Yankee fans (and certain co-authors here) I don't enjoy gloating or rubbing my friend's facing in things when their teams don't do well or minimizing them when they do do (hee hee "doodoo!") well. I mean, unless they're playing Boston.

The Indians deserved to win this series from the start and no matter what you may hear when watching SportsCenter, the Yankees didn't lose this series -- the Indians won it.

The Yankees, always overanalyzed, put up twelve hits in the final game, so they weren't asleep. They were just beat. Cleveland came out prepared in each game and jumped right on the Yanks, the only exception being Andy Pettitte's incredible performance in Game 2 that truly should have been more than enough for a win if the Yankees could have done more than a Melky Cabrera home run off of Fausto "Don't Call Me A Closer" Carmona.

I said it all year -- the Yankees were a great offensive team but great offensive teams rarely win it all. You need to have shutdown pitching to win in the playoffs and the Yankees haven't had that for a long, long time. Why is this such a shock? They score a ton of runs because they play the Devil Rays and Orioles 38 times a year. It's got nothing to do with choking in the playoffs or the pressure of New York or any of that crap. It's got to do with how they're put together. It's also got nothing to do with "heart" or any other made-up sheet like that. The Tribe has heart and hustled and played outstanding. But did you see the Yankees dogging it? Did it look like they didn't care? I don't think so. They cared and they played hard and they got beat. End of drama.

The Torre Situation

This is so sad to me. The fact that Joe Torre care so much about his guys and puts together twelve straight playoff runs, averaging somewhere around 95 wins a year over that time, yet has to sit there and answer questions about being "fired." Well, first of all, his contract is up and he's 67 years old. Who's to say he definitely wanted to come back to the Yanks? I think it's possible that this was Steinbrenner wanting to act like he had the final say and was "firing" Torre, because if Torre walked away after this year, Steinbrenner and the Yankees would possibly appear to not have complete control of everything. You and I know they indeed don't have control of everything but we live in reality world -- Steinbrenner and his jackass sons live in YankeeLand.

To put that quote out there about Torre having to win this series or else he wasn't being brought back was just bush league. Bush. League. All you haters who were all over Alex Rodriguez for shouting at the Blue Jays rookie months ago -- pay attention to this behavior by the frickin' owner of the franchise. This is bush league.

Your team is already down 0-2 in a series and they know the expectations in New York and with their much-maligned payroll. So they come home and now hear they have to win or else the manager they all love is going to be gone. Well, yeah, that's a really good way to loosen them up, jackass. Well-played. And I'll tell you this: there's no way Joe wanted them playing for him -- he wants his guys playing for the team. And they almost always do.

Torre is an average field manager but he's a brilliant manager of men and that's what's probably most important in baseball. In football, being a great game-planner is critical. In baseball, it's more about keeping things rolling along smoothly, keeping the highs under control and the lows from being too low. Torre was masterful and, as someone who watches probably 110-130 of their games each season, to see Torre have his postgame press gaggle every single night and practically never seem moody or impatient is just awe-inspiring. I hope I can be a fraction of that patient one day.

I understand that leadership changes have to happen sometimes. And I understand it might be good for the Yanks to have Joe leave and remain the hero that he is to Yankees fans. But I wish he was allowed to do it with all of his dignity and not be painted as having been yet another casualty of the George Steinbrenner iron fist. I've said many times that Yankee fans have no clue how good they've had it and that people who write headlines like this one on ESPN.com just don't get it. Their "Era of Greatness" didn't just come to a halt last night. If championships are what define greatness, I guess it ended in six years ago. If 90+ wins a year and making the playoffs every year count, then it's far from over.

A final thought on Joe Torre -- I've never understood how people can hate the Yankees when a guy like Torre is running the show. And when you confront Yankee-haters about it, many of them agree he's a great guy. And many have even said (to me, at least) that they like him enough that they would have had no problem with him managing their team. He's universally liked and respected and he should be. And this treatment he has endured from Steinbrenner has always irritated me. Yes, yes, Joe is highly paid. Fine. But think of your own job and make your salary your dream salary and then think about being de-pantsed publicly by your irrational boss a few times a year. While you might put up with it, you wouldn't think it was warranted.

As for replacements, I sincerely hope they do not go with Don Mattingly. I think we'd be in for a dark time for the Yankees if they go that route. I think the best possible hire would be Joe Girardi. The only questions will be whether he'll want to put up with the crap that comes from being the Yankee manager and whether he'll be okay with following Torre.

The A-Rod Saga Continues

Well, nobody was booing A-Rod last night and that's a good thing. But he didn't give the haters or the supporters anything solid to stand on. He hit .267 for the series, with a homer and one RBI. Certainly not what should be expected from a guy with a .314/54/156 season, but also not .071 like last year. Let's put it this way: ARod wasn't the problem.

And let's also keep in mind Derek Jeter, "Captain Clutch," grounded into three double plays in the series and seemed to come up small many times. He went 3-for-17 (.176) with one RBI. Where's the outcry? I know, I know, he's come through before so he's immune. And maybe he should be. But let's not just pile on ARod. They all lost, and they all could have come up bigger.

Will ARod stay or go? I've felt most of this season that he will indeed opt out of his contract in a few weeks, regardless of how the Yankees did. I still think that's likely and the only reason I think he might stay in New York is because his Scott Boras-inflated price tag of $30M per season is just ludicrous and there aren't many teams that can even consider paying that.

That said, I think the smart money is on only two suitors for ARod -- the Angels or the Cubbies. I think Chicago is a city that could eat him up, too, but he might hit 70 homers playing in Wrigley and he loves Lou Pinella. The Angels -- well, they showed they need some more offense and Arte Moreno, their owner, isn't afraid to spend money. Plus it's LA, and doesn't ARod just look like a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

I definitely hope he stays because he's the best player any of us will see, regardless of what he did in two postseason series in 2005 and 2006. He's a career .279 hitter in the postseason, even with those two terrible series, with 9 doubles, 7 homers and 17 RBIs in 39 games. Nothing spectacular but also not a complete flop. And without his monster season this year, do people not realize the Yankees would probably have been close to a .500 team? No, the answer is they do not realize it.

So if he leaves, prepare to laugh hard at New York, Yankee-haters. You'll be well within your rights.

Back to Cleveland

As I said earlier, congrats to Cleveland. They deserved this victory and they are a far better team than many of us (including me) realized. They do a lot of things well and they seem to manage around their weaknesses. For example, their closer is a bit of a joke, so they give him multi-run leads to protect. Well-played. I don't know if this will work all the way to the Series, though, so let's keep an eye on that.

The Indians are going to be good for a while now. They've got excellent young talent and have shown some smarts in signing good veterans to help bring it all together, such as Willie Mays Hayes -- err, I mean, Kenny Lofton.

Seriously, though, have fun with Boston, Tribe fans. More analysis on that series coming later this week.

Wait? Wasn't that a long time ago?

Congrats Tim and Cleveland fans!!