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Zombies are hip

Zombies are in these days. There are zombies in Jane Austen novels, in movie after movie, and even in romance novels now. Zombies are hip. That’s what I think every time I look back and see the Red Sox are still clinging on without completely fading this season.

This is remarkable given the sheer number of players they’ve had on the DL or lost for the season. With a 73-55 record, they’d be in FIRST PLACE in either of the other two American League divisions as of today! (And be only half a game back in two of the NL’s divisions, as well.) This is not exactly the usual showing of a gritty team barely holding it together.

Maybe it’s that Terry Francona finally picked up the Bigelow Green Tea sponsorship that Joe Torre started in New York. A magic elixir that allows teams to overachieve (and yes, most of Torre’s Yankees squads exceeded predictions, especially in October). More likely it’s that Francona has the even keel of Torre, never panicking or making sudden moves, and just rolling with the punches (and groin injuries, and season-ending collisions, etc…) no matter how rough it gets.

That’s a lesson Joe Girardi finally learned last year, allowing him to be calmer and get out of his team’s way. The Yankee managerial job has aged Girardi quickly–the gray hair and hang-dog jowls suggest that in the not too distant future Girardi will resemble Torre, too. (Catchers are high mileage vehicles to begin with.) More importantly, though, the job has matured him. He was always one of the most mature and intelligent players in the game, but it took a few years of skipper duty to grow into the role.

Since the All-Star break, the Yankees have been the team that is just barely maintaining. Pettitte is still out, A-Rod is also on the shelf, the bullpen continues to experience ups and downs, Swisher is banged up, Posada has a recurring knee thing, et cetera. The rotation currently sports both Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova, while Javier Vazquez (insert one of those stats about most strikeouts since such-and-such year, blah blah blah) has been demoted to the pen with a “dead arm.” Burnett and Hughes have been good/bad/good/bad of late, and only Sabathia and Cano have been rolling consistently all season long.

It’s going to be an interesting final month of the season.

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