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60° Good Afternoon

Friday Five: Grab bag

We're cheating today. No actual discussion-generating list. Rather, let's use today to catch up on a number of items.

1. The Yankees. They lost their makeup game in Baltimore, their second straight defeat to the O's, and now it's onto Anaheim, starting a three-game series tonight against the Angels, a team that's actually playing for something.

Derek Jeter said, in the story by Kimberley A. Martin that I linked, "We're fine," and the captain is of course right. The Yankees have so much room for error that they could get swept this weekend in Anaheim and it wouldn't dramatically impact their fate.

If anything, I'm curious to see how they respond to an extremely exhausting week - Tuesday night's rain-delayed fiasco, then the quick turnaround Wednesday afternoon with an extra-inning game in lousy conditions, then the trip to Baltimore and yesterday's extra-inning game, then a flight to Anaheim. Yes, they're highly-paid professionals, but that's going to drain any group.

But yeah, as Jeter said, they are fine.

In a related matter, in that they're both about the Yankees, here are two good pieces by Tom Tango, one about CC Sabathia and the other about Phil Hughes.

2. The Mets. They got swept by the Braves in a Citi Field doubleheader. I hope to spend some time with the Mets next week when they're home, as I haven't seen them live in a few weeks now.

A prevailing issue in the Mets' world has been Bobby Parnell and his ability to close games for the club. As David Lennon writes here, in this linked story, mental toughness is undoubtedly part of the profile you need to close games. Both to stand out there in the ninth inning, knowing that the game is yours to win or lose, and to be able to quickly shake off failure.

It's not as superhuman a power as some make it out to be, but there is such a thing as a pitcher who just can't handle the pressures of closing.

Time will tell whether Parnell is capable, but I don't see how the Mets go into spring training next year without a bevy of closing options. It would make sense for them to wait out the free-agent market - let Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell and the rest of the high-profile gang do their thing - and then pick up a leftover for a million bucks or three. If you scroll down on this MLB Trade Rumors list, you can see the free-agent relievers.

3. The Astros. Thanks to JE for alerting me to this story, in which prospective Astros buyer Jim Crane discusses his frustration in how long it's taking his purchase to be completed. Crane notes that his agreement with current Astros owner Drayton McLane lasts until Nov. 30.

We discussed this matter when I attended the MLB owners' meetings last month, during which sales broker Steve Greenberg (also brokering the Mets' sale) scurried frantically fro meeting to meeting about the Astros. Greenberg should understand the deal as well as anyone. Baseball is being so cautious with Crane because of how badly it got burned with Frank McCourt.

The delay in the sale could impact baseball's desired realignment, which would shift the Astros to the American League. And that could push back the expanded playoffs by a year.

4. Nyjer Morgan. The Brewers' centerfielder again made news with his antics the other night, getting into it with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter

Kudos to Morgan for rebuilding his career this season, becoming a valuable asset with Milwaukee after last year's poor season with Washington both professionally and behaviorally.

But can we stop celebrating this whole "Tony Plush" deal? Stop making Morgan out to be baseball's innocuous version of Andy Kaufman? There are too many questionable actions in his past. If the other Brewers players think that Morgan is hilarious, by all means let's document that. But let's not overlook what has occurred here.

5. The 10th anniversary of 9/11. This is also why I didn't want to do some silly list this week. I didn't want to use the anniversary as a launching point for anything, nor did I want to just ignore it.

Baseball's relationship with this horrible event always has been a little tricky. On one hand, of course we want to remember what happened, honor those who died that day, take care of their surviving family members.

On the other hand, though, teams have to be careful, in this process, not to congratulate themselves for anything they did. Just as it's unseemly when politicians try to use that day as just another bullet point on the resume.

For me, I'm all right with the special days at the ballparks; the Yankees had theirs on Wednesday, and the Mets will run theirs on Sunday night, the actual anniversary. But I could do without the television specials run by the teams' respective networks.

That's just me, though. I can't think of anything more personal than how each of us regard and deal with 9/11.

--Have a great day.






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