Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Where Is the Leadership? Thoughts on Last Night's Game

I really had a feeling on impending doom with last night's game, despite Curtis Granderson hitting yet another home run to help the Yankees. Despite a 5-1 lead, the game felt like the ALCS last year, where you just knew the other team would rally to win. (Incidentally, Granderson was the only Yankee to really sparkle last postseason. Kind of like now.)

And, like last year's ALCS, Joe Girardi left A.J. Burnett in a little too long in the sixth. Note to Joe: When A.J. has given up a homer, two wild pitches, and two singles, as he did in that inning, it's just a matter of time before he gives up the lead, too. Is there anybody, other than Girardi himself, who was surprised by the B.J. Upton home run?

And that was just one of the issues facing the Yankees Monday. First of all, Buster Olney reported, that the Yankees were unhappy with Derek Jeter giving such an impassioned defense of Jorge Posada, and saying that Posada didn't need to apologize to anybody. I can't say I blame them on that, given that, as I noted yesterday, Jeter had a very different reaction to Jason Giambi "needing a day." It took a conference call to put everybody "on the same page," the phrase Jeter uttered about 50 times in pre-game interviews.

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes that "Jeter didn't stick around Saturday to offer his captain's take on the situation, explained a day later that he didn't realize there was a controversy brewing."

Really? That was his excuse, that he didn't know that there was a situation involving his best friend and teammate? Who's the Yankee captain again -- Derek Jeter or Mr. Magoo? I hadn't heard this Jeter excuse before, but it's a doozy. What did he think all the hundreds of reporters gathered around Posada's locker were there for -- to find out who Jorge thought would win "Celebrity Apprentice"?

But let's pretend that we have no concept of the real world, and pretend Jeter really didn't know about the Jorge brouhaha. Saturday's defeat meant that the Yankees had lost four in a row at home, and two games in a row against the Boston Red Sox. Isn't it, um, part of the captain's job to stick around and talk to the media about it?  And isn't it also part of the captain's job to know what the heck is going on in his own clubhouse?

And guess what? The captain wasn't around to talk about last night's loss, either! Wally Matthews writes that most of the Yankees "with the exception of Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Rafael Soriano, who was headed back to New York for an examination by Dr. Chris Ahmad after his bullpen session was cut short by recurring elbow stiffness -- had fled the premises before the clubhouse was opened to reporters." Russell Martin also spoke to the press, according to MLB.com. But no Jeter.

As great a player as Jeter has been for his career, you cannot say he is a great captain, without putting on some Yankee-colored glasses. He's no Jason Varitek (as much as it pains me to say something nice about the Red Sox captain.)  And yeah, before anybody brings it up, I noticed that A-Rod was gone last night as well. But Jeter is the one who is supposed to be the team leader, supposed to be the team spokesman, supposed to have something to say when his team has lost six in a row. Why wasn't he there?

And obviously, there was the whole to-do regarding revelations on Jorge Posada wanting off the Yankees, which makes Jeter's insistence that Posada just needed a day look even more ludicrous. I will write my thoughts on the Posada kerfuffle later this morning.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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