In all seriousness, we love interleague play. And there are some intriguing matchups this week to catch one’s interest. LAD @ Tex, Bos @ Phil. We’ll focus on the Mets @ Yankees and the enigma of Raul Ibanez.
Mets @ Yankees – Livan Hernandez, set to start today and exuding confidence, is getting younger by the second it seems. He’s defied the laws of body structure and aging to put together a very solid season for the Mets (5-1 3.88 era). However, the Yankees, who have glaring issues and are reeling after losing their 8th straight to the Red Sox, have no excuse to lose this series. They are now 1-10 vs the Red Sox and Phillies this season, quite possibly the only two viable World Series contenders they have faced. Of note though, they are 10-7 vs the Tigers, Rays, Rangers, and Blue Jays collectively. So right now they are a team caught between the top tier and the second tier of the baseball spectrum. A sweep of the oft-injured and struggling Mets won’t really change that. They must win at least 2 games this weekend though or Yankee fans might fall into a seizure of tumultuous screams.
Raul Ibanez – Ibanez is now the archetype of the connection between blogging and journalism. He hit another HR last night, a clutch 3 run shot in extras to help beat the Mets [PhilliesNation], and the realm of blogosphere ethics induced by Ibanez’s suspicious performance this season persists. He is essentially in a lose-lose situation. The better he performs, the more questions are raised. Would he be willing to consciously dwindle his performance to silence the critics? That’s what the invective of steroids have created. Silencing critics by a serviceable performance. Anything greater raises too much suspicion. The whole thing is absurd. We’ve said countless times before, we don’t care who uses steroids, we think every player should use them. The MSM’s preoccupation with steroids in baseball, however, has ruined the hard-work breeds greater performance mentality. If someone drastically improves their performance, the only response would be he/she must be on steroids. So, hypothetically, let’s say Ibanez stats for the rest of the year are mediocre, and he ends up at .285 avg 35 HRs 110 RBI (His current pace being .322 59 162). While that may be a career year, it certainly can be a logical progression of improvement. Ibanez was a nice player for the Mariners who as we know play at Safeco, a pitcher’s haven. His 162 game average from 2004 to 2008 with the Mariners was .291 24 HRs 105 RBI [Baseball-Reference]. Certainly not a 4A hitter, Ibanez is a quality professional hitter. And now he moves to the Phillies who play in a band box. So would a decrease in performance for the sake of perception silence the critics? The Phillies are far and away the best team in the NL East, and a mediocre Ibanez from here on out is more than enough for them to secure a playoff position. There have been examples of players having career years after the age of 36 not named Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens (Hank Aaron, Chili Davis, Andres Galaragga among some others). If Raul Ibanez does cool off, intentionally or through the law of averages, his place in the domain of the steroids era may be merely passing accusations.