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Friday, May 06, 2005

The Saddest Words for the New York Yankees

Last night the Yankees lost to the Devil Rays, 6-2, and, in the process, fell into a tie for last place in the AL East with an 11-18 record. The start pitcher was Chien-Min Wang, who was added to the starting rotation to replace injured Jaret Wright. Following Wang were oft-used journeymen Buddy Groom and Tanyon Sturtze, who are more at the Horace Clarke end of the Yankee continuum of excellence than, say, the Yogi Berra end.

Only about five years ago you would have a triumvirate of Mussina, Nelson and Rivera, and that type of pitching combination scared opposing hitters. The triumvirate of Wang, Groom and Sturtze does summon Pavlovian instincts in opposing teams' hitters, those of the salivating nature. It isn't a case of man biting dog any more this season; the Yankees' hurlers just aren't that good.

Accordingly, some verse:

Yankee fans
so happy with their history
have new fears
now that their team is losing in spurts.

For the saddest words they can hear
from the public address announcer's voice,
are the fateful gong-like sounds
of "now entering the game" are Wang and Groom and Sturtze.

They hearken back
to the days when over the American League they used to lord.
When pitchers were guys named Raschi and Shawkey,
and, of course, the Chairman of the Board (Whitey Ford).

Today their hurlers are an old, injured bunch,
whose best days took place five years earlier
when their fastballs were gas, the curves downright nasty
and the inside heat much surlier.

Back then everything was happy,
There were parades in the Canyon of Heroes
Because during those days,
the pitching staff was chalking up zeroes.

But now the weather is gloomier
And watching every pitch downright hurts
every time the diehard Yankee fan hears
the names Wang and Groom and Sturtze.

Buddy, can you spare a . . .
few feet on your fastball?
Your team's mound staff is pitching like in belongs in the ER
And most certainly not in the Hall.

They were supposed to strike fear in the hearts of hitters everywhere,
Johnson, Mussina, Pavano and Brown,
But those batsmen now salivate nightly;
it's the Yankees' fans turn to frown.

Because the tides have swept change into the Bronx air,
Causing many a Yankee fan to blast out these fateful blurts,
"What in the world were they thinking,
when they gave us Wang and Groom and Sturtze?"

29 games down, Yankee fans, now 133 to go. And no one has told the Orioles and Blue Jays, not to mention the Devil Rays, that they're supposed to roll over and fall by the wayside this year.

Somehow, methinks that fireworks may come to the front office of the best franchise in baseball history much earlier than Independence Day, and the fear, of course, that in a rash act to shake things up, Joe Torre will be set free well before then.

That would be a mistake.

As it is to rely on Wang, Groom and Sturtze.


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