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Saturday, March 22, 2008


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I'm convinced. If we do bad I will blame the bad performers (and curt shilling) and not Japan.

Mostly I blame Curt Shilling for every loss this year.

Fully Agree Pat

Great analysis Paul. The Yankees in 2004 were truly not that great of a team - despite winning 101 games. By the end of the season, they were an absolute disaster pitching-wise. Vazquez had turned into a pumpkin, Brown fell apart, Mussina had a horrible year, Quantrill and Gordon were Torre-fied (each reached career-highs (with Gordon as a reliever) that year), I think the only bright spots on the pitching staff were El Duque and Rivera. Just an awful rotation and bullpen. Given that, it's almost, almost more surprising that the Yankees won 3 (and almost 4) straight in the ALCS to a vastly, vastly superior Boston team. Not trying to make excuses, because what kind of excuse is it to say and prove that your own team wasn't good, but the 'choke' was really more of a correction of luck that the Yankees were riding all season. They shouldn't have even made the playoffs.

An amazing post. Thanks for the great read, Paul.

Phenomenal stuff, though I will admit I'm not sure quite what to make of it. Certainly, it seems the Japan trip is not a season killer, and that's reassuring. Having traveled a bit myself, I remain sympathetic to players uncomfortable about such a long journey. It can really mess with your internal system. On the other hand, that's part of the job.

Andrew: I think "vastly, vastly" is overstating it. Those 101 wins, along with the division, and the series result, suggest the teams were indeed quite closely matched.That said, I don't buy the "choke" argument either; certainly, losing John Olerud in the middle of the series was an oft-overlooked blow.

this mornings game against the yomiuri giants had an odd start to it. dustin was HBP, youk singles him to third, and then he gets caught stealing home after ortiz strikes out. not likely a blown hit and run with no one out and a full count to ortiz.

wakefield hits a batter, walks a guy, and then gives up a single. 1-0 giants.

in the third, cash doubles, dustin walks, then youk and ortiz K looking followed by a swinging K by manny.

the sox might wanna find out what the posting fee is on tetsuya utsumi. the left hander struck out 5 straight sox, 2 through 6 in the lineup.

drew with an opposite field grand slam. 4-2 sox in the sixth.

Great stuff, Paul.

I have some thoughts on why the Sox might struggle this year, but the Japan trip isn't one of them. More on that later.

Jet lag can be a killer, especially flying to Japan from the east coast -- I speak from many years of experience. Still, it hits different people different ways, and the Sox players have looked in reasonably good shape yesterday & today. They're young (relatively) and professional athletes, so more resilient than the average person. Also, I assume their plane was outfitted with at least biz-class level seating, which makes a huge difference, and I'm sure the trainers had them stay well hydrated on the flight and away from caffeine and alcohol. Youkilis told me on Friday night he felt fine, and that would've been the time people would typically be crashing if the jet lag was bad.
As a Yanks fan here in Tokyo, I've always thought Mussina's gripes about the trip were overdone (whether by him or by the press I don't know). Certainly, it could've messed some players up for as long as a week to 10 days, but no more than that.
So, short version: no serious Japan effect, no excuses for 2004 Yankees (I'm with Andrew, they just ran out of gas) or 2008 Red Sox.
I'll be at both games against the A's, and will add a comment if either team looks particularly jet-lagged.

I think this so-called "Japan effect" has been way overdone by certain players.

It's not like these guys are flying over on coach class tickets where they have to sit in cramped seating next to screaming kids or a sweaty fat guy.

MLB players get first class accomodations all the way. Just play ball. No excuses are needed.

I just have to forward this mangled translation of The Oki-Doki song, as posted at the Herald's Bradford Files by one "noGabbitsinHamrinPlanet":

Hot dreams, entrusted into your hands
Go, Okajima
With fighting spirit, filled with your pitching
'Til our victory comes
We trust you, Okajima



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