• OK, we give up. It’s time for the Yankees to throw in the towel on Jeff Weaver.
Nobody quite has the answer as to why Weaver, a hard-throwing righty with above-average major league "stuff", has struggled so mightily since coming to the Bronx from the Detroit Tigers in a midseason trade last year. If you do, you could probably latch on to the Yankees’ braintrust this minute.
That being said, we’re finally ready to deem Weaver’s tenure in pinstripes a failed experiment.
Weaver’s latest crash-and-burn came Monday in Chicago, when Joe Torre brought in the righthander to pitch in the 10th inning of a tie game against the White Sox. Weaver walked the first batter he faced, Frank Thomas, and then served up a three-run homer to power-hitting Carlos Lee.
Yankees lose. Thuuuuu Yankees lose.
Of course, New York’s 6-3 loss to the White Sox had little bearing on their postseason standing – the Bombers sealed the deal on the AL East the next day, defeating the Pale Hose and celebrating on the Windy City’s south side – but it may have spoken volumes about Weaver’s future in pinstripes. He hasn’t been able to prove himself as a starter, and by flunking this audition out of the bullpen, he just may have pitched himself off of the Yankees’ postseason roster.
Torre is only likely to bring 10 pitchers with him to the Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, a club that has lost each of their last 13 meetings with New York, and carrying a highly volatile pitcher with a 6.03 regular season ERA isn’t among his top priorities.
• What’s your ideal World Series matchup? We asked Hall-of-Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, and the answer may surprise you.
Even though Smith’s long-time club, the St. Louis Cardinals, were still on the fringe of the NL Central race (3-1/2 games out) entering action Wednesday, "The Wizard of Oz" said he was taking his rooting interests elsewhere, pulling for Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants to advance to the Fall Classic against the Yankees.
"(That would be) the ultimate situation for everybody involved," Smith said.
• I’m sorry, I have to ask: what’s the fascination with seeing Mike Piazza at first base by the end of this season? Piazza’s entire future of his baseball career lies ahead 90 feet down the line at first base, that much is clear, and a Mets club in pennant contention probably would have made the switch already.
But the simple truth is that Piazza loves catching — even though his throwing may not be as sharp as we’d all like — and that he has a fetish for Carlton Fisk’s career record of home runs by a catcher.
I’ve written this before, but it doesn’t hurt anybody (except maybe backup catcher Vance Wilson) to have Piazza behind the plate for the rest of this year and for him to get a fresh start with the tutelage of a Keith Hernandez-type all spring long in 2004. Please, let’s give it a rest.
• The stupidity of Major League Baseball’s unbalanced schedule is nowhere clearer than in the pre-game press notes that the Pittsburgh Pirates distributed on Tuesday, which pointed out that Sept. 23 marked Pittsburgh’s first game in New York since April 4, 2002.
In that time span, every other NL team has been to New York at least twice, in addition to five AL teams, all 30 NHL teams and all 29 NBA teams. For good measure, the Bucs note that a pair of U.S. Open tennis tournaments have also been held across the street in those 536 days since they’ve been to Shea.
• Farewell to a true legend, Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy, who called his final game on Thursday after 42 years behind the microphone for the team.
Murphy has been there to see it all, from Casey Stengel and Marv Throneberry in 1962, to the Miracle Mets of ‘69, to Tug McGraw’s "You Gotta Believe" team, to the 1986 juggernaut, all the way up through Mike Piazza’s arrival at Shea Stadium and into this lean year to forget.
But whether the Mets were world-beaters or doormats, Murphy has always been there, with his velvet voice providing the perfect backdrop to summer. It’s going to be hard to imagine Mets baseball without him. Congratulations and a job well done, Murph: we’ll miss you.
E-Mail Bryan Hoch at firstname.lastname@example.org.