"Keep Javy's performance in perspective: Javier Vazquez looked dominant against the Orioles on Tuesday -- but it's the Orioles" is the headline of Ian O'Connor's ESPN New York's piece on Vazquez. There are lots of times I think O'Connor does a good job in both keeping things in perspective, and writing about the Yankees with passion. Can't say I'm very crazy about this piece, though.
O'Connor takes pains to denigrate Javy's seven inning, four-hit, one-run performance because it was against the lowly O's:
Javy came. Javy saw.
Javy conquered a sorry excuse for a baseball team.
That's the fly ball in the ointment, the annoying burst of rain on this latest Yankees parade.
The Orioles are so dreadful, so painful on the eyes, it was impossible to pronounce Vazquez cured of whatever ills had prevented him from pitching the way he's paid $11.5 million to pitch.
Well, given that Vazquez hasn't pitched well at home at all this year as a starter, and hasn't pitched very well - period - as a Yankee until a few weeks ago, I think it's huge progress. This isn't a AA start, after all. The Orioles might be a lousy team, but you know what? A win is a win. And if Vazquez had lost again at home against the Orioles, things would be a heck of a lot worse for him right now.
What gets me about O'Connor's approach here, repeatedly denigrating and minimizing this victory, is that he never does the flip side. What about the fact that it took a throwing error by Miguel Tejada for the Yankees to take the lead? Going into last night's game, O's pitcher Brian Matusz had a 2-5 record, with a 5.78 ERA. Yet he only allowed one earned run against the vaunted Yankee lineup. Maybe we should denigrate the Bombers' offense for doing so little. Sheesh.
O'Connor continues with the negative tone:
This isn't meant to curb anyone's enthusiasm as a nod to the famous face in the Stadium crowd, Larry David. This is only meant to add perspective to a 24/7 sports culture often starving for it.
"When he's on," Curtis Granderson said of Vazquez, "he can be one of the best pitchers in the game."
Yeah, and if Ollie Perez ever had the chance to be "on" against the Orioles, he'd be Sandy Koufax, too.
Ouch! Why so harsh, dude! Some "perspective"!
As I've written over and over, I was against Brian Cashman trading for Javy in the first place. That being said, I hate the fans booing Vazquez. And I have to give the pitcher credit for hanging in there, and for improving a lot over the past month. Javy's pitching is better, his body language is better, and his confidence is better. Do I still worry about his pitching? Or course. But the more he can have outings last night, the more he can get the fans off his back, and the more he can have some breathing space.
Yet O'Connor keeps on downplaying the win, suggesting it's only the Orioles, saying "Baltimore didn't have the stomach for a fight." But if Vazquez had faced Baltimore earlier in the year, he probably would have been destroyed by them then. This time around, he was dominant. It's not just the opposition - it's him.
O'Connor ends his piece with this straw man notion: "...the angle that anyone can be cured of anything in the presence of these Orioles? That one's for the Birds."
Who said anything about Vazquez being "cured"? All that's being said by the Yankees, most other sportswriters, and many fans, is that Vazquez has improved his game since the disastrous first month of the year. And that him winning his first home start this year was a big step. Does that mean he's out of the water yet? No, but least he can see the shoreline.
What do you think? Tell us about it!