Tuesday, August 22, 2006

And behold, a pale horse. And he who sat on it...

I was reading Bob Ryan’s fantastic column this morning, shortly after nearly spitting my coffee out all over the computer screen. The reason, I nearly spit my coffee all over the computer screen was because one of my favorite writers, Sean McAdam, of the Providence Journal, had the audacity to take to task one of the three Red Sox players who played against the Yankees with any shred of dignity this weekend. It has become sacrilegious in Boston to say anything negative about David Ortiz (for good reason) and Curt Schilling has become a media darling, what with his regular radio appearances, and message board postings. So it isn’t hard to surmise whom McAdam was griping about in this morning’s column: Manny Ramirez (he of the .850 OBP this weekend.) Now I have made no bones about my stance on Manny: I am an apologist and a fan, through and through. I love the way he hits, I love the way he plays the game (yes, believe it or not, I find it refreshing that there are people out there who still approach the game as just that, a game…because I certainly cannot) and I love the way he deals with the media: he doesn’t. So perhaps it is predictable for me to defend Manny against McAdam’s vitriol.

It isn't so much that McAdam is clearly looking for a scapegoat upon which to vent his anger—going back to his proverbial whipping boy—that has me up in arms, as the fact that McAdam and his Boston Media buddies are incapable of seeing the Forest for the trees. Indeed, it is not only McAdam but also Masserotti, the EEI talking heads, even Jackie MacMullan, who seem to have latched onto the story of Manny’s frustration over a blown call, which may or may not have lead to Manny asking for a day off (following a double-header, one game of which was the longest 9-inning affair in history.)

Let’s take a look at this embarrassing weekend: filled with two games of abominable starting pitching; four games of self-combusting relief-pitching; five games of untimely whiffing that made me mourn for the days of the ever-clutch Edgar Rent-a-Wreck; five games of absolutely putrid plate approach (did Coco Crisp take one pitch?!); five games of bone-headed managerial decisions that were not only inexplicable but often in direct contrast to everything logical; five games filled with wasted talent and salary, underachieving bums all of them, with the exception of three players. And yet, the Boston Media, in their frustration, was simply incapable of pointing the smoking gun back at the guilty party (a Front Office, whom for better of for worse chose not to make any moves to improve the team, and was exposed by a team whose Front Office did what it takes to win now.) Now I happen to believe, given the little information I have, that the Front Office was correct to hold their chips. I see Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, and Manny Del Carmen as vital members of a potentially dominating staff in 2 years. But it just isn’t good copy—and quite frankly is complete “homerism”—for the Boston media to write this past series off as “losing the battle to win the war.” Indeed, as Ryan suggests, we fans, and the media as well, need to sever heads. Without bloodshed, apparently, there is no catharsis. And, how pathetic it is that the easiest lamb to bleed is the one that won’t make a whisper in response—the one from whom the media is unable to get a single line of decent copy—unless of course they make something out of nothing.

Ryan’s prescient lines on the ensuing blood-bath were dead-on accurate, but the final lines aren’t the part of Ryan’s article that moved me to respond, or even to think any differently than I had of what was ultimately a disgraceful, but not unpredictable series outcome. Rather, what moved me (damn near to tears) was my nonchalant reaction—even, acceptance—of one simple line. On the second page of the article, Ryan posts the following: “ In its present form, the Yankees are a thoroughly likeable and rootable team.” And the troubling, terrifying thing is…aren’t they? I mean, when one strips away the shocking price-tag, the overrated Manager, the whiny Third Basemen, the ‘Roid addicts, and the obnoxious (yet unfortunately nearly identical to its Boston Counterpart) fanbase, isn’t there lots about this team that the average baseball fan can appreciate? Consider:

-For as much talk about the barren Yankees farm system as there has been the past few years they keep pulling home-grown rabbits out of the hat with guys like Cano, Wang, Melky, and even the occasional Andy Phillips.

-Their pro-talent evaluation the past two years has been superior to most in the league. I’m not kidding. Perhaps it’s dumb luck but how big have the following names been—all of whom the average Joe scoffed at when signed: Aaron Small, Mike Meyers, Scott Proctor, Ron Villone, Shawn Chacon (who turned into Craig Wilson), and now Corey Lidle…oh, and that Abreu guy can handle the stick alright, too.

-Derek Jeter may be overrated according to every Sabermetrician in New England, but according to this Red Sox fan who watches lots of Yankees games there are only two A.L. hitters I wouldn’t want to see my team face with the game on the line, my best pitcher on the mound: Papi and Jeter.

-All of the guys on the team, and their fans, hate A-Rod too.

-I was at the game on Saturday and I saw a total contrast in the way these two teams carried themselves: one like a bunch of stuck-up selfish ballplayers, all wearing the same uniform, and all ready to throw one another under the bus in their press-conference, a bunch of uptight ballplayers afraid to lose; the other team I saw was loose, growing goofy facial hair, cheering each other on whether they were lifelong members or the new guys who just kept raking and fitting right in, a real team who played with one another and knew they had eachother backs (well except for that guy on Third) and could grind out pitchers, make plays and hits for one another, knew if they played together they could win.

I have seen three teams like that before in my lifetime: ‘93 Phillies, ’04 Red Sox, ’05 White Sox. Two of those three were World Series Champs. Two were teams I really loved to watch (and only one had the word Sox in their name.) One of those teams was the best team I ever saw, and Johnny Damon was hitting lead-off and playing Center Field. The point? This is going to be a great Autumn for Yankees fans. For Red Sox fans? Well, you can be man enough to watch the Yanks do their best imitation of the Rich Man’s “Why Not Us?” Red Sox, or you can find something else to occupy your time. As for me, I have this model airplane hobby I’ve been thinking of taking up.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger jake said...

I don't think you can overstate the importance of The Idiot. I saw an interview with Torre where he said Damon has completely changed the complexion of the clubhouse, loosening everyone up and allowing them to have fun.

In signing Damon, the Yankees not only took one of Boston's best players away, they also gained the one thing they haven't had in recent years-chemistry.

You're right, if you look at this year's Yankees team they're actually filled with character guys-Jeter, Damon, Abreu, Williams- and young, hungry guys -Cano, Phillips, Wang, Cabrera.

With Sheffield hurt all year, Johnson and The Biggest Piece of Shit in Baseball having sub-par years, these yankees differ significantly from the yankees of the past 10 years.

I can't believe I just wrote all that.

Fuck the Yankees! (you know, just for old time sake)

At 11:21 AM, Blogger g.m.s. said...


well put. i saw that interview as well. damon may be a traitor, and he may throw like a drunken 7 year old girl, but i am man enough to admit that he raked all over the Fenway yard over the weekend, and has been one of--if not THE BIGGEST--component to the Yankees great year. Alas, F The Yanks Indeed...


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