What can be said about the 2005 season for the Yanks? If nothing else, it was a wild ride, one that left you screaming at the TV set one night and cheering for yet another multi-homer game for Giambi the very next day.
In most of these prolific Joe Torre years, Yankee fans have had the luxury of their team being all but a sure thing as far as the post season goes; it was almost as if the ‘real’ season didn’t begin till October. The 2005 season, however, demanded that we stay tuned, leaving us clutching at our seats every time Kevin Brown was due to pitch and counting down the days till the juice withdrawals were over for poor Giambi.
The ride known as season 2005 began way back the off-season, when several interesting transactions took place – and several transactions that should have been made did not (does Beltran ring a bell?). The biggest, of course, was that involving The Unit. Personally, I was skeptical from the start. I’m not denying the fact that Randy Johnson is a legend, a true athlete, an all-star, definitely a hall of famer, yada yada yada. That’s all fine and good, and I respect his talent immensely. The problem I saw with this trade is that we traded two of our young up-and-coming pitchers
, Halsey and Vasquez, for an old man with no cartilage left in his knees!
Every year the Yankees do this, and every year they suffer the consequences! Starting pitching is the backbone of a team, and if you’re trading away the young, healthy vertebrae in exchange for brittle, decrepit vertebrae, the backbone will not be hearty enough to support the team. Not to mention the error of thinking that a National League pitcher will put up the same numbers in the AL…but that’s another article.
The other major controversy before the season even began was BALCO
. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a sports fan that would deny that some players use steroids; we’re not stupid. I don’t condone it, but never am I shocked to learn that a player was juicing. So why, then, was everyone so surprised at Giambi’s admission to using performance enhancing drugs?! It was as if he had killed Mickey Mantle and snorted his blood for nutrients!
If anything, he should have been praised for his honesty and the humility with which he handled the situation. Certain other sluggers (starts with a “B”, ends with an “Onds”
) should take note.
The season started on shaky ground. We still had Kevin “I don’t know what a smile is” Brown in the rotation and newcomer Tony Womack on second, and don’t forget that Tino Martinez was playing first almost daily in the beginning. Mariano had trouble the first couple games, Bernie’s age was starting to show, and, sorry to remind you, but Giambi was far from the monster he was in years past. He was swinging as if Soriano had been his batting coach (Soriano’s hitting class 101: swing at anything that is mobile
). As a whole, they were playing as if they were still nursing the broken hearts dished out to them by Boston 6 months prior…
Then spring turned into summer and it was like a new dawn for the Yanks. Giambi came back with a vengeance and fell back into his standard beautiful OBP
. Tony Womack rode the bench. Kevin Brown “mysteriously” fell ill (I’m pretty sure Mel shot him and hid the body
). A wonderful gift from the heavens named Robinson Cano was called up, and with Jeter and ARod we suddenly had some truly solid infield defense for the first time in years. The only thing keeping us down at this point was a little function called Starting Pitching. It was disaster and inconsistency up and down the bullpen, from the Unit to Stanton to Sturtze. The only hope was to get ahead so that Flash and Mo could seal the deal
in the eighth and ninth innings. I’m sure you all loved flipping to a D-Backs game and seeing Javi pitch a solid seven innings while Torre has to pull Johnson in the third!
It seemed like Torre’s prayers were answered when we acquired Shawn Chacon from the Rockies and found Small, a seemingly talented pitcher, right on our own farm! These boys were the salvation of my fingernails throughout the late summer and into the fall. Yankee fans could breathe easy when they were on the mound. And, best of all, we could be excited that they were YOUNG and may remain healthy for more than one season!
Of course, we all know how the end of this story goes. Every shred of cohesiveness this team had dissolved as soon as the regular season was over.
ARod couldn’t hit a ball to save his life, and it looked like we had brought in the kickball team from the local elementary school to play defense.
Every dugout shot was of Torre looking like he wanted to murder someone…even more so than usual. And who could blame him? They committed a record number of errors on the field and left god knows how many runners stranded.
When it comes down to it, the Angles just played harder. I hate to watch my team give up, and that’s what it felt like while watching those five games.
Even though the 2005 season has (prematurely!) ended for the Bombers, the speculation and criticism of both the team and its management has only just begun. With Bernie’s and Matsui’s contracts being up and the recent resignation of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, there will be plenty to hypothesize about in the off-season months. Stay tuned….