The Opening Pitch: 37-year-old Andy Pettitte on short rest.
That tenuous proposition is all that is standing between the Yankees and the panicky, would-be oblivion of a Game 7 against the Phillies.
Blame Joe Girardi (pictured). All he had to do was concede Game 5 by replacing short-rested A.J. Burnett with a scrub. Given that Cliff Lee was pitching, punting wasn't a stretch. And given Burnett pitching on short rest, his crappy performance wasn't unforeseeable either.
Then, Girardi could be starting Burnett on full rest tonight. And Pettitte on full rest in Game 7, in the event Burnett couldn't get the job done and the Yankees lost Game 6 (given his performance in Game 2, I would have bet on Burnett).
Girardi's job is to win 4 games in 7, not 4 games in 5. Would you call that decision to give up on Game 5 to be "tanking?" I would call it "strategy," putting your team in its best position to win the series. And, right now, that alternative strategy is looking pretty good.
If the Yankees win tonight, no one remembers Game 5 anyway — all they remember is the Yankees winning their 27th championship, A-Rod winning his first.
If the Yankees lose — and it is a result of Pettitte's poor pitching — the decision not to concede Game 5 and focus on winning Game 6 will be the Second-Guess of the Decade.
Now, instead of being entirely prepared for this series to go all the way, the Yankees do NOT want to see this Series go to a 7th game. Thanks to Girardi's short-sighted strategy, all bets are off.
Chase Utley for World Series MVP, Cont'd: Dan Levy picks up the campaign I launched yesterday morning.
NFL Breakthrough of the Year: Miles Austin? Anytime you can go from undrafted to Pro Bowl candidate (not to mention Fantasy WR Steal of the Year), you're doing something right.
NFC Player of the Week? Brett Favre, obviously.
NFL Must-Read: Mike Tunison's Designed Rush, helping to clarify the concept of "parity."
NBA Talking Points
— Dirk: 29 pts ... in 4th quarter?!?!
— Thunder show growth with near-miss vs. LAL
— Rivalry: Cavs dispatch not-yet Wiz
— NBA's biggest surprise: Unbeaten Suns?
— Maybe Magic better off without VC?
— B. Jennings Watch: Team-high 25
Transfermania: Darrell Scott, arguably the top recruit of the Hawkins Era at Colorado, is bolting. The presumption is he will end up at UCLA, but you never know. It's adding insult to injury for the Buffs program.
Game of the Week Prep: Ohio State at Penn State. This would have been a lot bigger had Ohio State not stumbled at Purdue and Penn State not choked at home to Iowa. Still: OSU can win the Big Ten, starting with a win at PSU.
CBB Preseason: LeMoyne! Li'l LeMoyne stunned Syracuse in the Orange's first exhibition. Is a Division II school beating its Top 25 neighbor in early November as big as a 16-seed D-1 school beating a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament in mid-March? Not quite, but it's a jaw-dropping result.
CBB Countdown: No. 7 Purdue. Maybe it should be "No. 7 LeMoyne."
Politics: Dave Bing was re-elected mayor of Detroit. Now, if only he could do something about the Lions ... or Michigan football. (Hey, at least the Pistons beat the Magic last night.)
The Last Word: "We've let everyone down, including ourselves, and we know that and we're just apologetic."
— Dan Snyder. I don't doubt that the losses bother him even more than they bother the die-hard fans. For him to acknowledge the team's poor play is big — it would be even bigger if he would call off the goons at FedEx Field and let the fans express their own frustration.
Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.
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