Friday, July 19, 2013

Onto the "Second Half"

It's going to take moments like this to get the Yankees - and Mariano Rivera - into October.
It's true that the All-Star break in baseball is the mythical midway point, because everyone has played over 81 games at this point.

Thus we've started the "second half."

For the New York Yankees, there's a question of talent.  CC Sabathia, who's supposed to pitch like an ace, hasn't.  Hiroki Kuroda has pitched very well.  Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, and Andy Pettitte have all been meh.

The bullpen has great, led by the remarkable Rivera.

But it's the offense.  Oh, the offense.

Does this team lack heart?  No, I don't think it's that.  Like I said, it's a question of talent.  There are nice players on this team, but they've struggled to find consistency.  There isn't that feeling of 1995 or 1996 on this team - one that simply finds a way to win.  Oh they've won, but I just don't get that sense about them.

Help is one the way - maybe.  Curtis Granderson will, hopefully, return.  Derek Jeter?  Hard to tell, but there's hope.

And there's that problem known as Alex Rodriguez.  If he shows up and hits, things will be much better in The Bronx.  It will be even better if he keeps his mouth shut.

Lastly there is the question of what GM Brian Cashman will do to improve the club, if anything.  Trading Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are possible.  All a question of who needs what?

The results have been pretty good, all things considered.  Nobody will give Joe Girardi the Manager of the Year Award, and I understand that, but he has done a great job with this team.

But there needs to be a hunger.  There needs to be a fire.  Those going to Yankee Stadium theses days lack that.  I'm sorry, but they just do.

You want hunger?  You want...frickin insanity?  Yeah, watch Donnie Baseball from the 1995 ALDS, brilliantly called by Gary Thorne.

That leads me to this post I saw this morning by Sean Hartnett on CBS New York.  He does a lengthy bit on Mattingly's career and the "hair" episode of 1991 before getting to the headline: Mattingly's candidacy for the Hall of Fame.

I've said it before.  I'll say it again.  It's not happening, as much as we (I) would like it.  It will take a terrific managerial career to get him in, as it will ultimately do for Joe Torre.

Of course, as I've also said, compare Mattingly to Kirby Puckett and, if you look only at the numbers, you will see they are almost identical.  But what hurts Donnie Baseball (so named by Puckett), is that Puckett was a gregarious center fielder playing in Minnesota on two world championship teams (1987 and 1991), who hit a famous shot to win Game 6 of the '91 World Series (the "We'll see you tomorrow night!" home run).

Mattingly was a first baseman, and like it or not, that gives Puckett an edge, despite Mattingly's brilliance at first.  Mattingly didn't win a ring (thanks, Bud Selig and other for stripping that opportunity in 1994).  Mattingly, who was arguably the most dominant player in the sport in the mid to late 80's, declined so badly that it was almost tough to watch in the early 90's.  The power was gone.

He's an iconic Yankee, no doubt about it.  He is beloved - even as the manger of the (somewhat) hated Dodgers (I haven't forgotten the late 70's and early 80's).

Puckett was absolutely helped by his wonderful public personality and the way he carried himself.  That doesn't necessarily hurt Mattingly at all, who was (is) liked all around baseball.  We all remember the popcorn incident (with Al Trautwig and Frick-winner Tony Kubek laughing along).

But, as I know we've said around here, it's just not enough to get him to Cooperstown.

At least not yet.

No comments: