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Being Yanks' leader in smiles and laughs not cutting it for Swish

Big League Stew

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All season, Yankees fans crowed on about Nick Swisher(notes), his great attitude and the overall sense of joie de vivre he brought to a traditionally stiff team.

And all season, knowing White Sox fans just nodded, smiled and said: "Just wait. His performance at the plate is going to end up driving you crazy and all that clubhouse joke won't be so cute."

Well, it took a little bit longer than expected, but the levels of angst in The Bronx are finally approaching the levels that caused Chicago to ship Swisher away for almost nothing last offseason.

The tipping point came in Thursday's ALCS Game 5. With the bases loaded and the Yankees trailing by a run, Swisher quickly went 0-2, fought his way back to a full count, but could then only turn a fastball he was expecting into a measly popup off creaky Angels closer Brian Fuentes(notes).

The out ended the game and an 0-for-5 night for Swisher, a game that also included contributing the first and third outs to New York's six-run rally in the seventh. He has started all eight postseason games for the Yankees, but only has a line of .103/.212/.138 with one double and one RBI to show for it.

Swisher predictably took his place alongside Joe Girardi in Friday morning's whipping post with Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger suggesting it's time for someone else to start:

"Everything has his limits, and now the manager should play somebody else — anybody else — to try a different look. Put in Brett Gardner(notes). He might not be an upgrade, but could he possibly be worse? ... It is just not happening for Swisher."

Thing is, there was a time when it was happening for Swisher in New York. His performance in April surpassed any of the big free agent signings and kept the offense together as Alex Rodriguez(notes) battled back from an injury. Heck, he even pitched when asked.

But those halcyon days now seem like ancient history for Swisher. I don't think I'm on board with a benching (Rob Neyer isn't, and as Politi's colleague Marc Carig points out, Brett Gardner and Jerry Hairston are not better options). It's much too late in the game to be changing course on a guy who stood in right field 130 times this season.

But Swisher somehow has to find a way to start producing and stymy the reversal of popular opinion that White Sox fans knew was coming. Over the long run, the Yankees lineup looks like it can withstand an empty spot at the bottom.

But when you pull in on two or three games, the consequences are clearly much different.

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