High up in a tower in the Bronx, on a video link with the team's executive offices in Tampa, the top brass of the New York Yankees sat down early this week to map out their strategy for climbing back into the American League East race against the rival Boston Red Sox and the upstart Tampa Bay Rays (look, Mom, no Devil anymore!).
Step 1 in the strategy: let Boston Red Sox outfielder and perennial late-season disappointment J.D. Drew win the MVP award at this year's All-Star Game, which conveniently enough, was being held in Yankee Stadium. Mission accomplished as of Wednesday morning, 2:00 AM.
Step 2 is a little more complicated. It involves jumping out of the gate and winning at least 11 out of their next 12 games, including consecutive 3-game sweeps against Boston (in Fenway Park) and Baltimore (in Yankee Stadium).
After that is a 12-game stretch against teams from the American League West division, out of which they are conservatively planning to get 8 wins.
Once all that's done, they can start looking toward the returns of outfielders Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, and promising young pitcher Phil Hughes, whose 0-4 record and 9.00 ERA put quite a strain on the term "promising."
Not that that will matter once the Yankee bats start getting hot, which is slated to happen starting in mid-August. After that they can reasonably expect to win 2 out of every 3 games the rest of the way, which should be enough to put them 6-8 games ahead of Boston for the AL East crown, and give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the World Series.
Now, after forming such an ambitious plan, some of the clearer-thinking executives probably looked up and down the current lineup and gulped in sudden terror, or quaked with total pants-shitting fear. As of last Sunday's 4-1 loss in Toronto, the Yankees' lineup featured four players hitting below .250 for the season, and a fifth player (Jason Giambi) hitting just a shade above (.253)*. Of the 12 batters currently on the Yankees 25-man roster, a whopping SEVEN are currently hitting under .250, with an eighth (Giambi) hitting just a shade above (still .253, duh). And being the fantastically talented and intelligent executives that they are (this is the New York Yankees after all), they probably sat down for a serious discussion about offense as soon as they got their pants cleaned from the fear shit.
And lo and behold, a mere two days after the All-Star game, a paltry 36 hours after J.D. Drew accepted his award and then was interviewed by Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Jeanne Zelasko, the Yankee execs solved the problem, and delivered unto their championship-starved fans the final piece in the 2008 Yankee puzzle...
Mr. Richie Sexson.
Bring on championship #27, guys.
I'm going to go stake out my spot in the Canyon of Heroes tomorrow, just as soon as the Fruit Plant closes its doors for the day. I know the ticker-tape parade isn't until late October, but come on. They signed Richie Sexson! World Series victory is as sure a thing as death, or taxes, or Walter Mondale winning the '84 presidential election.
Yankee fans, looks like it's time to get to work on those craft projects and home repairs you've been putting off. Fix that gutter! Build that model Corvette! Become a colorful fashion critic and start your own blog!
You're welcome for the suggestions.
*For those of you who are not fans of baseball, hitting below .250 is considered "not good," because half the job of a professional baseball player is to get hits, and a sub-.250 average means they're not even managing to do that job 25% of the time. Think about how long you would keep your job if you only managed to succeed at it 25% of the time. Then think about the fact that if you manage to succeed 30% of the time for your entire career, you will go to the Hall of Fame. Makes you want to shoot yourself, doesn't it?