About Last Night: Yanks Win in 10 Innings
by Paul Semendinger
May 4, 2023
Not that I was able to see the game, because the Yankees were on Amazon Prime TV (or some such thing), but the Yankees defeated the Cleveland Guardians 4-3 in ten innings.
As I have written many times, to me it makes no sense, at all, in any way, especially when there are so many media outlets competing for each fan's attention, to take the game away from an interested audience.
I know there were disappointed fans last night who had planned to watch the Yankees. I also know that they all found other things to do since the Yankees weren't on. The danger for the Yankees is that one of those competitors just might provide a product that's more interesting, fun, or enjoyable than watching a baseball game. I'm sure some fans watched hockey instead. I'm also sure that some fans made the decision to buy a New Jersey Devils jersey rather than a Yankees one. If that happens enough, the Yankees will lose significant revenue. It's a simple formula. If the product is available, people will watch. If you take it away, they'll move on.
But, hey, it's the Yankees' decision to do whatever they wish with their product. Please, though, spare me any lectures about baseball losing fans or revenue or interest among the population. That is the inevitable end result of the decision to take the product away from fans and would-be fans. They will find other ways to spend their time and other ways to spend their money. Baseball will be hurt as a result. The sport is only hurting itself.
WP - Albert Abreu
LP - Trevor Stephan
HR - Jake Bauers (1), Willie Calhoun (2)
Injured Yankees Who Left the Game - Harrison Bader, Oswald Peraza
This was a game the Yankees should have lost. The fact that they won is a good sign. Credit must be given where credit is due.
The Guardians went up 2-0 against Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt pitched well enough, but he couldn't even give the Yankees five full innings. That's a problem.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Willie Calhoun and Jake Bauers both homered. These were both solo shots, and they tied the game at 2-2.
Cleveland scored a run in the ninth on a bloop single that resulted in Harrison Bader colliding with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and having to leave the game. (More on that in a moment.)
The Yankees scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Anthony Rizzo singled. Oswald Peraza ran for him and stole second (turning an ankle in the process). Aaron Hicks went in to run for Peraza who was running for Rizzo. An out later, Willie Calhoun singled home Hicks.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Jose Trevino singled home ghost-runner IKF to win the game.
It was a gutty win.
Player(s) of the Game:
Willie Calhoun - 2 hits, 2 RBI
Jake Bauers - first home run since September 2021
The Yankees bullpen (outside of Clay Holmes) did not allow a run having to cover a ton of innings because the starter (Schmidt) did not give the team distance.
Better to Forget:
The ninth inning injury to Harrison Bader.
Why do teams practice together? Why is there even a thing called Spring Training? What takes place during Spring Training?
In short, teams work out and practice together to establish rhythm and consistency and to understand how to come together as a cohesive unit. When players are absent from those drills or when players are put into positions in which they are unfamiliar, less than optimal results often follow.
Last night, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, an infielder who never played outfield as a big leaguer before this season, was playing left field. Making matters worse, until last night, his only experience as an outfielder was in centerfield. The Yankees, in other words, had an infielder who they were trying as an outfielder playing in a position he had never before played. (Why the Yankees believe that the Major Leagues are the place to continually experiment with players playing out of position is beyond my comprehension. It makes little sense. And IKF is one of a long line of players the Yankees have done this with, especially in recent years - using the big leagues as the training ground. This wasn't a once-in-a-million occurrence. The Yankees' manager had to learn the job as he did it. He had no prior experience either...
IKF was in left field because Harrison Bader, the Yankees "regular" centerfielder was back in his normal position, for only the second game this season after missing much of Spring Training and the first month of the season due to an injury.
Since these two players had never played together as an outfield unit, it shouldn't come as a surprise that, on a bloop hit, they collided. Bader seemed to get spiked in the head and was removed from the game. We're told that he should be fine.
A run scored on that play - a run that gave Cleveland the lead, one they didn't hold, but it could have been the run that won the game for them.
This is what happens when teams place players in unfamiliar positions. Seeing two players who never played together collide isn't simply bad luck. It's a result that could be expected. If we recall, Bader had a near-collision with Aaron Judge in the playoffs last year. Hummmm..... (They also didn't play much together prior to that because Bader had missed all of August and most of September due to injury.)
Harrison Bader seems to be a great defensive outfielder. He also seems to be a player who goes all out. Those are good traits to have. But, when you have a player who goes all out, and he has not established any rhythm or flow with his teammates (one of which was playing a position he had never ever ever ever ever played at the Major League level) things like this are bound to happen. It's not bad luck when it happens. It's bad planning to put players in situations in which they are vastly unfamiliar.
Major League players, by and large, are virtuosos at their crafts. They are the best of the best. They reached the big leagues because they invested tens of thousands of hours, much of their lives, to perfecting a craft. The skills the players exhibit at one position are not always transferable. They're not often transferable. At all. The Yankees seem to believe that many players can be simply moved to spots in which they're unfamiliar. From my perspective, it's a bad strategy. I hope we don't see more of this, but it is likely we will. I also expect to see other injuries as a result. These players are learning new positions on the fly and also trying to adapt to ever-changing teammates.
Also, along the same lines... Harrison Bader seems to be an exciting player. He seems to be the kind of player that fans love. He does all out. He gives it whatever he has. That's great.
But, Bader also has a long and significant history of not being in the lineup. Of note, last night was only his second game of the year. It says something that he couldn't even make it through his second game without getting injured.
Sometimes injuries simply happen. Oswald Peraza turned an ankle last night. Things like that happen. But, when you have a player that gets injured often, one also has to look to the reasons. What is it about Harrison Bader's approach to the game that leads to all the missed time? Might it be his style of play? I'm not ready to state that definitively, but it could be... There is a difference between going all out and playing aggressive, but smart, baseball. I haven't seen enough of Harrison Bader to be able to make a determination on that (and the Yankees didn't broadcast the game to their fans last night so I couldn't see that play live), but it is possible.
Players who tend to get injured a lot tend to be the players who then get injured again and again. There are usually countless reasons for the injuries, but the fact holds true... players who are oft-injured usually get injured again. The Yankees have a roster of players who are oft-inured. It has come as no surprise to me that so many are unavailable to play. This fact seems to have taken the Yankees by surprise. Frankly, I'm surprised they are surprised.
One might wish to look back at the career of Pete Reiser of the Brooklyn Dodgers, of who people said might have been one of the greatest players ever. Unfortunately, Reiser's style of play cost him a great career. As it says on his SABR Bio page:
"Only a handful of people who saw Pete Reiser in his prime were still around in the 21st century. Those who did have two things in common: They remember when the Dodgers belonged to Brooklyn . . . and they cannot watch an athlete streak toward an outfield fence without feeling just a little sick to their stomachs. Pete was a five-feet-ten and a half inch, sinewy-strong 185-pounder who generated more speed, power, and pure energy than seemed physically possible from that modest frame. The only thing that could stop Pete was an unpadded stadium wall."
I hope Harrison Bader takes the time to read about Pete Reiser.
I also hope the Yankees realize that players are not interchangeable and that they shouldn't be experimenting with their positions at the big league level.
The Yankees have a very rare day off today.
On Friday, the begin a series, in Tampa, against the first plays Rays. Jhony Brito will take the mound for the last place Yankees. The Rays are 8 1/2 games above the Yankees.
Seven of the Yankees next ten games are against Tampa Bay. These are their only games against each other until the every end of July. After these games, these two division rivals will only match up in six more games the rest of the season and never in September. The new MLB schedule is yet another poor decision by the "caretakers" of the game. (Spoiler alert - six of the Yankees' last nine games of the 2023 season are against (don't get too excited...) the Arizona Diamondback and the Kansas City Royals. Who thought that was a good idea?)