It's going to be a fun baseball week in New York. The Jerry Manuel Deathwatch is officially underway, the annual "Has Mariano lost it" question is being asked after Sunday's grand slam and the Yankees are playing four games against the Red Sox and Rays before heading to Citi Field to kick off interleague play.
We've already shared our thoughts on the Manuel situation, so we'll jump to Mariano and deal with it quickly. Is he done? It seems quite unlikely that a pitcher who had not given up a run yet this season would suddenly lose their mojo on a Sunday in May. When that pitcher is Mariano Rivera, the needle moves even further into the unlikely column. These things happen and until they start happening on a basis more regular than once every few months it isn't worth worrying about.
Now, on to the fun stuff. If you're a Yankee fan, you can't ask much more than a week with no days off and games against the Sox, Rays and Mets. The order of the games is particularly fitting because it mimics the order of a feast designed for maximum enjoyment.
Although they've long served as the steak and lobster dinners on the Yankees schedule, the Red Sox are currently playing the role of appetizer on the Bronx menu. It's a rich foie gras or caviar starter, to be sure, but a starter nonetheless. Games against teams five-and-a-half games behind you in the standings aren't enough to fill the belly. They merely wet the whistle, especially if they feature strong starts from Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia while sending Boston into a frenzy of finger-pointing and hair-wringing about the fate of the Red Sox.
The main course this time around is the two game set against the Rays. If the standings hold until Wednesday, the Yankees will have a chance to pull even with the Rays and, were they to accomplish that, they'll have five wins in six games against the team that's posted the best record in baseball to this point. Being in first place on May 20th is fairly meaningless in the big picture, but a nice reminder that the haggard look the Yankees have sported at points in the last couple of weeks isn't truly representative of the talent on hand in the Bronx.
No good meal ends without dessert and this one isn't any different. The Mets have been such a streaky bunch this season that it is impossible to predict what the next four games will bring, but they might well be coming home to an enraged fanbase drooling for Manuel's blood. Providing the final blow might be the baseball equivalent of picking on the new kid with glasses and a lisp, but there would be more than a few Yankee fans who would enjoy seeing the team drop the hammer on Manuel's tenure in Queens.
That only holds if Manuel makes it that far, of course. If he doesn't, the same thrill applies to battering the new guy around the yard in his first week on the job. Either way, it looks like a pretty sweet way to cap off a week full of savory satisfaction.