Sunday, June 28, 2015

On the hot mess that is Masahiro Tanaka, and why pitchers can't throw at A-Rod anymore

Ladies and gentlemen: the Tanaka face!

Have you ever been in one of those tumultuous relationships in which your boyfriend or girlfriend is a hot mess? You know, where you have real passion for the other person, and you think you click with them when you go out together, but they constantly let you down? Yet just when you are ready to give up on the relationship, your boyfriend or girlfriend comes sniffing around again, doing something immensely appealing and keeping you hanging on some more, until they let you down again and the cycle continues?

That's kind of what Masahiro Tanaka is like.

Ever since he tore his elbow, he has simply awful starts, then shows flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately, he is in the "awful starts" part of his repertoire now.

In his previous start, Tanaka had tanked in every way — allowing 10 hits, seven runs and three home runs over five innings in a 12-4 loss to the Tigers. The three home runs allowed, one to Victor Martinez and two to J.D. Martinez, marked a career high. Tanaka also tied a career high in runs (7) and earned runs (5) and he has never allowed more hits in a start.

Yesterday, Tanaka was staked to a 6-0 lead, and promptly gave it back over six innings. He gave up six runs, seven hits, and only had three strikeouts. He tied the 3-homer record that he established in his last start, and gave up more earned runs (6) than he ever has before. And when he melted down in the sixth, most notably when Jose Altuve hit a homer off him to tie the game, we got to see the Tanaka Face for the first time!

As Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post puts it:
Of course, the thousand-pound rhinoceros (or, in Alex Rodriguez’s preferred parlance, the pink elephant) in the room is, and will for the foreseeable future be, whatever hidden rat traps lurk within Tanaka’s elbow.

But what if it is not his elbow?

The whole situation reminds me of a joke about the Grateful Dead: A hippie runs out of drugs before a Dead show. After he listens to the concert sober, he says, "Wow, this music really stinks." (Of course, I love the Dead, and listen to them sober, but I still think this is a funny joke!)

What if it is just that Tanaka really stinks, and it is not his elbow causing this? But if it is his elbow, when is he going to get Tommy John surgery?

The Yankees did come back and win the game yesterday, 9-6. But if they are going to make the postseason, they need Tanaka to be a good boyfriend an ace again!

* * *

I missed watching the first half of the game live, although I did later on see the clip (see below) of Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer throwing inside to Alex Rodriguez after Houston hometown hero Chris Young's homer, the pitcher promptly getting ejected for doing so, and then Oberholtzer appearing to blame his glove for the bad pitching, hurling the glove in the dugout. The Houston starter was sent to the minors after the game.

The Yankee broadcasters called Oberholtzer "bush league," said the pitch was not the mark of a true competitor and said he should "take it like a man."

A few things I noticed about this:

Remember how Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster threw four times in a row at A-Rod and the umps let him get away with it? Those times are over. Thought it was telling about Rodriguez' current reputation in the game that one inside pitch to him is enough to get the pitcher ejected.

It's clear that CC Sabathia is A-Rod's BFF. When A-Rod hit #3000, one of the players he hugged was CC. Then Sabathia spent big coin on "Ace of Spades" champagne for a postgame toast.  Now the pitcher was the first out of the dugout, ready to rumble after Alex got hit. Big change from the early days of A-Rod on the team! I wish I had CC in my posse! Heck, I wish I had a posse!

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