Welcome to Minyanville Michael!
Note: There's more to life than trading and more to trading than life. With this initial installment (in an occasional series), Minyan Michael Santoli offers an honest assessment of his baseball roots. Michael and I discussed some of these frustrations while sitting on the third base line of game seven of the ALCS vs. the Red Sox. I am psyched that he has eloquently elaborated on the topic.
Before the press critique, my pre-season guiding principles:
- The Yankees have become less likable and more mercenary than ever, a 25-man representation of Steinbrenner's deepening King Lear mortality crisis, maudlin self-aggrandizement, militaristic delusions and outsized sense of entitlement.
- The contracts to Sheffield, Brown and even Lofton amount to golden parachutes, raising their retirement pay grades with huge multi-year, late-career payouts for what should be one-year rentals, at best. I predict either Sheffield or Lofton will not end the year on the roster.
- The lack of a left-handed starter isn't all that alarming, though it probably means Delgado, Ortiz and Palmiero will continue to kill us.
- Upgrade in the infield? Career offense of the A-Rod/Enrique Wilson 3B/2B combo, based on a blended 162-game average: .280 Avg., 25 HR, 83 RBI, .469 Slg. The combined Alfonso Soriano/Aaron Boone career mean: .267 Avg., 24 HR, 87 RBI, .475 Slg. (P.S., Soriano/Robin Ventura is almost identical to Soriano/Boone.)
- It used to be possible to answer the anti-big money screeds against the Yankees by offering to take our four most underpaid players against those of any other team. Then Bernie, Jeter, Rivera and Posada got their big deals. There's no sophistry available to explain away the payroll advantages any more.
- There's also no way to feel truly deserving of further success as a Yankee rooter. I and others came by Yankee fandom honestly, early in life, in the '70s when winning was earned. Sure, we endured the high-payroll dry spell through the '80s and early '90s, but the last eight years have more than made up for it. The bandwagon is overflowing, the team is over-loved. Most painfully, the obnoxious triumphalism of too many Yankee fans is an embarrassment. Met fans are pitiful and hangdog and fatalistic, but they didn't awake on third base believing they hit a triple.
- The premise of this journal is that these contrasting mindsets have penetrated the newspaper coverage of the teams. Most of the observations on the coverage will come from the Times. The tabloids are by nature the id of New York fans, reflecting and exaggerating their biases and presumptions. The Times, ostensibly, tries to operate on a higher, less emotional, less vernacular plane. This can be observed in small measure by the paper's maddening refusal to use the word "win" as a noun, resulting in the stilted overuse of "victory" in game stories, as if Grantland Rice were still pounding the keys.
- Let's begin with Monday's paper.
- Sunday, both the Yankees and Mets won to pull to .500 on the season. Both teams got a decisive home run from a previously anonymous rookie. Both teams had team ERAs above 5.00 for the season. The Mets had split their first six games against teams expected to contend, Atlanta and Montreal. The Yankees were 4-4 against the once-and-future doormats from Tampa Bay and the talented but choke-prone team from Chicago's South Side.
- The Yankees game story oozed sentiment about how the new player/mascot Bubba Crosby stroked a home run, made a couple catches in center and even remembered to acknowledge the charmless first-inning ritual chanting of player names by the bleacher hooligans. We got his humble biography. We were treated again to the Torre-as-Yoda fluff saying the manager put Crosby in the lineup on a hunch.
- It all brings to mind the gushing, forced hero-creation of 2002, when one Marcus Thames, Yankee rookie, took Randy Johnson deep in his first career at-bat. The papers all but nicknamed him Roy Hobbs. Thames today has 2 home runs in 86 career at-bats and is now the property of the Detroit Tigers.
- It was nine paragraphs before we learned that purported ace Mike Mussina had another weak effort and scraped by for his 200th career win.
- Shifting to the Mets, a reader had to dig into the 11th paragraph to read of Eric Valent, the kid who won the game with a home run, his first hit. It was duly noted that he'd sailed a throw over the catcher's head and that the pitch he hit out was a pony-league-caliber 66 MPH curve. A bit later it's fleetingly mentioned that Tom Glavine shut down the Expos for seven innings, giving up one run. The thrust of the story was about the run of injuries to hit this obviously hell-cursed team. Ex.: "The Mets have split their first six games of their season, but the injury report might be more important than the standings."
- The writer, Lee Jenkins, would have to wait at least a couple days for substantiation of that assertion, as the injury-sapped Mets throttled the Braves the next day in the home opener 10-6, after going up 10-0.
- Just ain't fair, seems to me.
More to come...
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