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New York Baseball in late September


Fall has come upon us, and the end of the baseball season nears.

The Mets, despite recent improvements -- including a rookie third baseman, David Wright, who has hit and played the field much better than anyone would have dreamed, and the free agent pitcher, Pedro Martinez, who has been dominant all year --have been a disappointment. They're playing well now, taking two of three from the still-contending Phillies, but that does not impress me. Its pretty damned easy to win when there is no pressure on.

The Yankees on the other hand have overachieved in a perverse way. They have the highest payroll in baseball, and have the highest revenue stream in baseball, two facts not entirely unrelated.

The Yankees' pitching has been a big disappointment, including numbskull starting pitcher Kevin Brown, who last year punched a concrete wall with his pitching hand and this year stunk up Yankee Stadium every time he took the mound. Mike " Mouse " Mussina has not impressed. Randy Johnson, fancy free agent in the photo above has had a long career, and has pitched like a guy who has had a long, long career. Free agent Jaret Wright has five wins and four losses.

So the money has not all been well spent.

But in the late season, a mixture of luck and design have come to the aid of the Yankees. Taiwanese rookie pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, pitched well early in the season, got hurt, and is now back and pitching well again.

Shawn Chacon was obtained in a trade, for cheap, and has been wonderful. Great stuff, great control, fearless on the mound, 7 and 3 in his last ten starts.

Finally, Aaron Small, who has a 9 wins and 0 losses. Don't know how the Yankees got him, he pitched for Florida last year.

So, anyway,after 158 games, the Yankees are one game up on the dreaded Boston Red Sox, with only four more to play. The last three are in Boston, so both the Yankees and the Red Sox will control their own destiny at season's end.

Randy Johnson has very recently started to pitch like the nasty, intimidating money pitcher he is supposed to be.

But if the Yankees prevail, give a whole lot of credit to Small, Chacon, and Wang, three once unknown pitchers who have given this team exactly what it has needed this season.

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