Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day of celebration

Like many Red Sox fans, I spent all of yesterday partying. Before someone calls me pathetic, it was also my birthday, so that was kind of an excuse. But what better present could I get than the Yankees being eliminated from the playoffs?

We got to watch a $200 million choke job. Every year it's more expensive. And every year, it's the same result.

Dan, as you all knew he would, chimes in this morning. Not much here, folks. Well, okay, there's this:
But today we come to celebrate the colossal flop of the 2006 Pinstripes.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Dan spend much of the last 6 weeks saying how stupid the Red Sox were and how they should be more like the Yankees, who were probably going to go all the way? Hmmm. Now it turns out their net advantage was exactly 4 extra games, for a nice sum of $80 million. We sucked, too, and we did it for less!
Red Sox fans are still licking their wounds from the five-game disgrace at Fenway Park in August, but if you love to hate the Yankees, it doesn't get any better than what went down the last three days in New York and Detroit.
Anybody here still bemoaning that series? Honestly, I got over it weeks ago. Maybe I'm the only one.
Brian Cashman has to trade him now (assuming A-Rod waives his no-trade, and why wouldn't he?).
I keep seeing this, and I don't buy it. Torre batted him 8th, sure, but there's news that Torre may be fired. Why does Cashman have to trade him? Until November, he's the reigning AL MVP. And with Texas picking up no small portion of his salary, he's not exactly a huge hit to the Yankee checkbook, no more so than any of the other overpaid geezers they have on that team.

As a side note, I think the expression on Brian Cashman's face as he watched from the box seats yesterday is now my new favorite expression, narrowly edging out the "deer in the headlights" look Peyton Manning gets during playoff games.
The numbers are numbing. Six straight years of playoff failure. A $200 million payroll going home after only one round. It should make some of you smile to realize that since the end of the 2000 season, George Steinbrenner has spent $1.2 billion in player salaries (plus luxury taxes) and he's 0 for 6 in championships. The Yankees were 3-1 favorites to beat the Tigers in the first round, then got swept three straight after winning the first game.
I printed this because it makes me laugh. It's all right there in front of you. The Yankees, ladies and gentlemen. $1.2 billion and 0 for 6. Keep doing what you're doing, George!


Anonymous said...

But... but... isn't Captain Intangibles, whom we all want our children to be like, going to lead the Yankees to the promised land?

Chad Finn's blog said it very well:

"It's hard to pin any of this on Teflon Jeter, who at least looks like he sincerely gives a damn and always plays his ass off 'til the last drop . . . but at some point, doesn't all the talk about the "businesslike" clubhouse and the 25 players, 25 private planes mentality reflect a negative light on the Yankees' captain? Rather than unifying this team, in tough times he always seems to go out of his way to make the point that this is a "different group" than the 4-time champs, almost as if he's disingenuously distancing himself from the mess."

Koot said...

They haven't one a title since he was named captain.

Anonymous said...

Not about the CHB, but was anyone else disturbed by this quote from Edes' appreciation of Buck O'Neil?:


John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil was the grandson of slaves. "Do you know why his name was O'Neil?" Steinberg said. "That was the name of the slave owner who owned his grandparents. They took his name because he never separated families, parents from their children. They took his name as a sign of gratitude and respect."


Steinberg said it, and Edes quoted him as if the line did not in its way condone the actions of a "benevolent" slaveowner. Steinberg, of course, probably got it from O'Neil in the first place, but just because Buck O'Neil did not know bitterness doesn't mean nobody else should.

I, for one, am bitter that the Veterans Committee could be so petty as to deny O'Neil Hall of Fame membership when they had the chance. Who was the chairman of that committee? Whoever it was ought to have looked at the vote, decided it was absurd, and simply "miscounted" the result.

Every name on the long list of those selected this time around was virtually meaningless to anyone but the most ardent of observers (and probably even many of them), and I can't connect the exclusion of O'Neil with the presence of any kind of conscience whatsoever.

Even if O'Neil wasn't bitter at his having been overlooked, can you imagine how sweet it would've been just to see his reaction had he been included? Now that he's gone, of course, and unable to appreciate it himself, it's a foregone conclusion that he'll be inducted on the committee's very next vote.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to check out:

Story in the Denver Post on media access to pro athletes. Three guesses who is quoted whining about his job.

dbvader said...

anon 2:43

The problem with Buck O'Neil as a Hall of Famer is that he wasn't a Hall of Fame Player. He certainly was a Hall of Fame Personality for baseball. He was my introduction to the Negro Leagues when he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. No matter what you think of the quality of the Negro Leagues, he does not come close to being an elite player. There should be a place for Buck O'Neil in the Hall of Fame, but it should not be as a player (regardless of any Veteran Committee abominations).
The problem is there is no place for a person like Buck O'Neil.

The Chief said...

Calling the Yankees "a colossal flop" is one of the most ridiculous statements The CHB has eve rmade -- and that's saying something.

They won 97 games, best in the majors. They won their division by 10 games. They scored 930 runs, 65 more than any other team.

All the playoff loss proves -- again -- is that in a short series anything can happen.

That, plus guys like Shaughnessy simply don't know baseball.

dbvader said...

The problem with the Globe coverage, especially Shank's, was they lead with the Yankees. Shouldn't some notice be given to the Tigers, who beat this supposed juggernaut? What bullshit, allowing the soap opera storyline to beat out the game and series storyline.

jenny said...

Anything CAN happen, but there are ways to maximize your advantages, and the Yankees haven't figured that out yet. Good pitching beats good hitting, no matter how much that hitting costs. Shaky pitching and putrid defense bite the Yankees in the butt every year, and yet they just keep adding more hitting as if they think they can bludgeon all those other holes into invisibility. What's worse, all that hitting comes in the form of a bunch of old, overpaid lackadaisicals who look about as inspired as narcoleptics at a tax law convention. I'm not a big believer in chemistry, but in the postseason I think it can have an effect.

The only advantage the Yankees have maximized is the advantage of spending ridiculous amounts of money, and they don't have a whole lot to show for it. Continued regular season success starts meaning less when it never goes beyond that. The Atlanta Braves are a case in point.

fadedredsoxhat said...

Now why couldn't CHB write that?

The Chief said...

Joe Sheehan summed the situation far more eloquently (and precisely) than I ever could:

There is all kinds of craziness being put forth in the wake of the Yankees ouster from the playoffs. The way in which this team went from The Greatest Lineup Ever to a problem to be solved in the span of 54 hours is as much a story about the media as about baseball. I fail to see how 1-3 should mean more than 97-65, especially when it’s quite clear that the Yankees faced off against two good pitchers having terrific days in their last two losses. As ever, the disproportionate emphasis on the postseason as a measure of success is driving the kind of pseudo-analysis, and perhaps decisionmaking, that does little to advance a discussion or build successful baseball teams.

If we’re going to do a post-mortem, though, I think it’s instructive to consider more than just what happened in Detroit, as ugly as that was. If Changes Must Be Made, there should at least be an attempt to find out what went wrong, why the season ended so much earlier than was hoped. There are certainly on-field reasons—playing injured, rusty players at new positions, and mid-rotation starters who aren’t very good, and a right side of the infield with absolutely no range—but I want to, for a second, consider something else.

What concerns me isn’t that the Yankees lost. What concerns me is that they and their manager set themselves up for a free ride going into the playoffs. After a season of laying all failures at the feet of Alex Rodriguez, and going so far as to inspire and participate in a Sports Illustrated story that furthered that storyline, the Yankees absolved themselves of responsibility. They, complicit with the media, washed their hands and let Rodriguez carry the water for their performance.

At just about any point along the way, one of the two most visible Yankees—Joe Torre or Derek Jeter—could have come forward and said what should be obvious: Alex Rodriguez is a great, great player, and in the worst season of his career he’s a star. Defining his season by his lowest points is doing him a disservice, and the constant focus on his play an insult to the other members of the team. Whatever Rodriguez’s performance issues, such as they were, his overall contributions were valuable. Beyond that, he’s one of the game’s model citizens, barely a controversy to his name in a time when so many others have been tainted.

That statement, completely true, would have done more to alleviate the pressure on Rodriguez than anything else. They didn’t do so, instead allowing petty nonsense like his desire to please people (heaven forfend) and his performance is varied subsets (in Boston, in the playoffs, against a small handful of pitchers, in 20 at-bats in July) to substitute for real information. They didn’t defend their teammate, and by allowing, even stoking, the situation, they absolved themselves and every other Yankee of blame for their fortunes. If they lost, it would be Rodriguez’s fault, no matter how the rest of them played.

Torre’s handling of the Rodriguez situation is perhaps the blackest mark on his record. Going so far as to bat him eighth in a playoff game, a move guaranteed to make him a point of discussion, would have been the nadir if he hadn’t already reached that in the pages of SI. Torre made his bones in New York by keeping controversy out of the clubhouse; he made a boner by turning his clubhouse into a circus this year.

As far as Jeter goes, any claims to a captaincy or leadership skills are and will remain in doubt. His refusal to provide a full-throated defense of the player whose willingness to take his Gold Gloves to third base allowed the illusion of Jeter’s defensive prowess to grow to a point where he could get his own hardware is as much to blame as Torre’s sudden open-mouth policy. He could have stopped this with 50 well-chosen words. He didn’t, and it’s fair to wonder why.

Alex Rodriguez “sucked,” to use his words, against the Tigers. He’s a part of the Yankees’ failure to advance. He’s not the biggest one, on or off the field, and I can only hope people recognize that, and take a good, long look at what happened in the last four months, before writing their next article or making their next trade.