(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Kryptonite for Pinstripes

It's called age, and that's what I've blogged about before for the New York Yankees. Case in point is gifted starter Kevin Brown, whose 39 year-old body is showing signs that it's ready for baseball's glue factory. Read here to see what I mean -- Brown will miss his first start this season. Jaret Wright, not scheduled to make his first start until April 15 (he's currently the Yanks' fifth starter), might move into Brown's start. And, if Brown's balky back doesn't mend, then journeyman Tanyon Sturtze, once cast off by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, could move up and be the #5 starter, with Wright moving to the #4 slot.

I heard on Colin Cowherd's radio show the other day that the over-and-under in Las Vegas for wins for the Yankees is 102 1/2. That's a lot of wins; I'd be the under (in the same vein I'd bet the field in The Masters and give you not only Tiger, but also Phil, Ernie and Vijay). There's probably not much sense in arguing that the two best teams in baseball are the Yankees and the Red Sox, but boy is Father Time creeping up on the Yankees. Most definitely, they're built to win now. Some prognosticators are going to far as to say that this is the most talented squad the Bronx Bombers have fielded since they began making their run in the mid-1990's. Expectations are high.

A crash, of course, would be all the more spectacular if this Titanic of baseball lineups were to hit its iceberg -- a raft of injuries -- by mid-season. Sure, this team could gallop away with the AL East and render its late-season series with the Red Sox at Fenway meaningless, but this team also could stagger into the playoffs with the team's trainer as its MVP candidate. Much could go right with this Yankee squad, but much can go wrong too.

Foreseeably wrong, because of the age of the team. Players do break down as they get older. It gets tougher to recover from the minor aches and pains that one suffers from a physical job on a day-to-day basis. I'm not arguing remote probabilities here; I'm saying that it's likely that outside of A-Rod and Jeter, a few of the main seven hitters could miss significant periods of time. Ditto for the pitching staff.

Kevin Brown's maladies could present a rarity for the Yankees. After all, he's Kevin Brown, and he's more brittle than other pitchers.

Or they could be the tip of a a series of hurts that could make this a most disappointing season for the New York Yankees.


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