Vazquez pitched four outs…FOUR outs…for the shortest outing of his career..of his CAREER…when the Yanks needed him most. A dismal performance not even worth my keystrokes.
Tuesday, August 31st, 2004
Well, it’s no Yankee Stadium—hell, it’s no Shea Stadium—but Moscow does have its very own ballpark, on a scenic plot on the campus of Moscow State University (the frilly tall building down the leftfield line). The press box is nice, it’s got a bar (this is Russia), a clubhouse shop, and some extremely ratty astroturf (god help anyone who slides). The scoreboard, alas, has never worked. The place was built in 1989, with money from a Japanese businessman.
If you’re in town this weekend, be sure to drop in for the Russian World Series: a round-robin tournament with the teams from Moscow’s A League.
Saturday, August 28th, 2004
We’ll return to a topic touched upon long ago, a comparison of the transfer system in European soccer to that of player mobility in MLB. Right now in the Premiership, there is a transfer battle over Wayne Rooney, probably the single most talented young player in all of English football. Rooney plays for Everton, a reasonably small club in the Premiership, a middling achiever probably akin to a team like the Mariners or better, the Reds – a middle market team that probably, in this day and age, will never taste a title but may compete for their version of a wild card (in England, that’s like a spot in the lesser European tournaments, the UEFA Cup or the Intertoto Cup). Two clubs are bidding on Rooney, and those teams are both northern rivals, Newcastle United and Manchester United. Manchester, it goes without saying, is the big bully of the Premiership, David Beckham’s former club, the EPL Yankees to Arsenal or Chelsea’s Red Sox, to make a simplistic comparison. Newcastle is a top tier club, but without a championship in quite some time, and without the wide-open pursestrings of Manchester. Adding to the complications of the transfer are Tuesday’s deadline for eligibility in European tournament play: any player who fails to be properly transferred by then is ineligible for the year-long tournaments, a huge source of money for the teams, particularly if successful. Money means more power to purchase and therefore to perpetuate strength; in European football this is a reasonably vicious cycle. Teams that fail to stay in the Premiership, for example, often do not return immediately to the top division even though they had the talent to be there for an entire year. In fact, some teams plummet disastrously to the lower divisions within just a few seasons, having lost revenues and their marquee attractiveness to even mid-line players who prefer Premiership exposure to toiling in smaller cities and a first-team spot. Everton looks upon selling Rooney as a business deal – they can use the big bucks they will attain to (possibly) buy more role-players, additional talent to shore up a thin team. Or, cynically, the Ownership could pocket the money, spending little on improving the team while casting off it’s hearthrob, it’s most marketable talent, and one of the best players to come along in years.
So Rooney is up for grabs, and the asking price has gone from $38M, to $44M, and Manchester has now tabled an offer in excesss of that $44M. This is a team-to-team transaction. Any wages are worked out separately with the player, and those can exceed $200K per week for the top talent (salaries are calculated per week in the most football-playing nations).
Here’s the thing: it makes MLB’s system look practically equitable. The fluidity with which players move in our major leagues, though restricted and tipped in favor of those large-market teams, seems almost pure in comparison to the talent-hoarding of some of the top European clubs, like Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester, Bayern Munich, and most famously, Real Madrid. So for just a moment I will lay off the Big Bad Yankees and their greedy ownership. I’ll take a raincheck on bashing the fact that there’s no minimum salary cap, no wage control beyond potentially illegal collusion. For once, though I love the purity of national club football’s relegation system (talk about a meritocracy!), I will admit that it’s infected by the economics of the European transfer system. Rooney’s likely movement to a big club is bad for club soccer, it’s an indication of the almost hyperbolic stratification of the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the big and the small, in European football. And it makes our own flawed system look almost acceptable.
Yeah, it’s hearsay, but we like it anyway. Nothing like a manager seemingly pleading with (is begging too strong a word?) a pitcher to help him out…
Following last night’s 5-3 win over Detroit:
Francona wasted few words in handing Leskanic the ball.
“He said, `Please get this guy out,’ ” Leskanic recalled. “At least that’s what I heard.”
Friday, August 27th, 2004
Owing to JCL’s post regarding A-Rod’s momentary clutchness, I thought I’d see if I could pick a long-distance fight with YF(Moscow). We have a long-standing disagreement about the conceptual nature of the MVP, and I want to dig into this a little bit here. It’s clear that there are at least 4 players on the Yankees who would out-peak one Mr. A-Rod on the clutch-o-meter, those being Mo, Jeter, Sheffield, and Matsui. Though Jeter has had a rough year, he’s still made the bigger plays, hit the bigger hits – just witness his single/steal/steal/winning run scored a couple of nights ago to see what I am talking about. Sheff’s been the man, of all of them, through his shoulder pain. A-Rod has coasted into his top-three AL third basemen spot, but, as YF said earlier this year, is no longer the best at his position, league-wide. And he’s certainly not the most clutch. Is he the best athlete? Maybe. Is he the best hitter, historically? Maybe. Is he the most talented player on the team, purely speaking? In a vacuum, probably. But is he the MVP, just because he may be the most innately gifted player? Not a chance. No Yankee fan would reasonably argue this, to their credit.
Last year we saw the idiocy of rewarding the MVP to the player with the best numbers, and it’s a nice coincidence that that same awarded player is locally exposing that awards’ fraudulence. Yankees fans are watching first-hand that the MVP should go to a player who contributes the most, and not from a purely statistical standpoint. It’s time that YF(Moscow) chimed in and admitted that last year’s award was ridiculous – the MVP is for a player whose team would have no chance at winning without them, no hope at competing for a title. Players on losing, gutter-bound teams can’t and should not win it, regardless of numbers. They are not valuable for anything but merchandising and gate receipts. A-Rod is proving that this year, that nice numbers aren’t necessarily the bellwether of value. By most players’ standards A-Rod is having a hell of a year, if not by his own. His numbers are better than Derek’s, slightly better than Hideki’s when you consider the stolen bases, better than Williams’, Posada’s. The only guy he can’t compare to is Sheffield, but then again Sheffield didn’t have to learn a new position either. But he’s not even in contention for the most valuable player on his own team, not even in the top 4. He has been famously un-clutch, despite reasonably gaudy stats. Sheffield, Matsui, Rivera, and even Jeter, despite a career-low OBP and BA, are linchpins. Had any of them missed significant time, a la Garciaparra or Nixon, the Yankees surely would be looking up in the standings. It’s not so easy to stand out on a team with clearly more valuable players. Last year A-Rod won by virtue of comparison, not by virtue of accomplishment.
After hitting a tie-breaking, line drive down the line in the top of the ninth, A-Rod cathartically threw his bat, realizing that he finally produced a big hit. This action prevented him from going to second, but proved not to be a big deal since Matsui eventually knocked him home. Nevertheless, A-Rod showed his frustration (delight) on the field and is obviously bothered by his anti-clutchness. Another good win however and hopefully Loaiza will show up tonight.
The posting’s been intermittent, and it has less to do with the fact that the Sox are playing so well there’s nothing to complain about than that the summer is fully mature and Lamaze classes have come calling. In any case, this poster is still here, very happy about the current roll (and let’s just say it: the Sox are HOT!), and relishing in the improved defense. Theo deserves major credit for that Nomar trade – it really has shored up a team that was desperately in need of some better glovework, and the Red Sox have picked it up since #5 left on a jetplane.
Make no mistake, we’re still worried about Terry’s ability to manage close ballgames, though his errors may be cloaked by diving stabs at first base (thanks, Doug) and acrobatic grabs in the hole (thanks, Orlando). And the Sox still have zero distance between them and the WC chasers. So nothing’s really different, at least not yet.
Lastly, welcome back, ‘Tek, and play well this weekend.
Tuesday, August 24th, 2004
CLEVELAND — Jason Giambi’s rehab has been slowed to a crawl, as a respiratory infection has limited his workouts in Tampa
There’s got to be more to this story. I fear something is very wrong with Giambi. Here’s hoping they know what it is, and that they can get him better. No disclosure necessary to this poster, but I can’t help but think he’s really sick with something we don’t know about.
MLB.com: If you weren’t a baseball player, what would your dream career be?
[Sean] Casey: My dream career? A WWF wrestler. I’ve always liked wrestling. I don’t think I could do it because I think the pounding they take would be a little bit too much, but if I could guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt or anything, I’d be a pro wrestler.
We can only imagine others’ fantasies:
Alex Rodriguez: Corporate Relocation Coordinator
Terry Francona: Bench Coach (wait, that’s my fantasy for Tito)
George Steinbrenner: Watergate Plumber
Larry Lucchino: Jedi Knight
Kevin Brown: Voice Talent of “Oscar the Grouch”
Doug Mientkiewicz: Spelling Bee Judge
Derek Jeter: Hollywood Husband
Manny Ramirez: Professional Dreamer
Monday, August 23rd, 2004
Sheff delivers again. The final course: a two-out, two-run homerun in the top of the ninth off a tough pitch by Wickman. This guy is humiliating A-Rod in the value department. Even though Quantrill pitched two scoreless innings, he got hit hard again and still looks very hittable. This Yank fan is eagerly awaiting Karsay’s return in two weeks. A very nice win however.
Have any high-profile rants emanated from Tampa this past week? Is the blowhard owner of the Yankees a pragmatist, and fully aware that a 5 game lead with 40 to play is a decent one? Or is George just concocting a truly historic diatribe, waiting for the right moment to slander his manager, shortstop, and pitching staff, all at once?
Where, or better, WHO’S the Boss, George??!!! Let’s hear it! We want to know! Show yourself!
These are the reasonably negative headlines from some of the local tabs in New York, after the Yankees’ lost week. The Sox, pulling within 5 in the loss column, appear primed for a stretch run, with improved defense, more consistent starting pitching, and clutch hitting. The Yanks look staggered, with their bullpen faltering, their offense flailing. But let’s be real, the Sox have a long way to go to get back to the top. 5 games over 40 is not insignificant, if the Yankees play a mere 22-18 the Sox need to play .675 ball the rest of the way just to pull even, and I don’t think there’s any reason for the Yankees or their fans to panic because of this recent run. They ought to be concerned, that’s about it, but it’s nothing we didn’t know already: the Yankees, despite their record, are a severely flawed team.
As for the Boston media, the picture painted seems a bit more rosy though hardly overconfident, with only one blatantly nauseating headline coming a week ago from, who else, Dan Shaughnessy (surprise surprise), acting all confident with a bold prediction of “Plan on Them Being There”, as if he’s been Mr. Optimism all along. Yuck. The Sox are on a roll, but we all ought to reserve our elation until there’s some room at the top of the Wild Card heap, and less space between the faltering Yanks and the barnstormers from Beantown.
Keep it going, Petey.
A pathetic performance by the Yanks against the Twins and Angels that has made the AL East race a new ballgame. The performance made more frustrating by the fact that the Yanks were undone by their so-called strength, their offense. With the Twins and Halos behind them the Yanks have a weak schedule until the end of the season and still control their own destiny with six games against the Sox. The Sox meanwhile have a slightly tougher schedule. The Yanks have no excuse. If they don’t extend their lead against the Sox and finish with the best record in the AL then they don’t deserve to win anything. To the Yanks: in the words of Gordon Gekko, “Get to Work.” I believe they will follow this motto.
Sunday, August 22nd, 2004
We imagine if the world-travelin’ YF logs into the web and checks the standings, he’ll be surprised, if not shocked, to find the Red Sox closing within 5 of the Yankees in the loss column (pending Derek “I hope I have my swing-and-miss sinker going” Lowe’s start later today). The Yankees have hit hard times, losing 6 of 7, the Sox have finally found their bearings, winning 10 of 12 and 4 in a row. It’s a total surprise to this poster, at least. Making up one game a week has been supplanted by make up no games for 5 weeks then make up 5 in one. The Sox were underachieving, we have no reservations about that, but right now the pendulum has swung back, and they seem to be just a bit on the overachieving side. If they can win tonight, keep the streak going into Toronto, the last month could take on ’78 proportions, at least on the surface. The difference is that the loser of any such battle will still have a shot at the playoffs.
And just what is it about trading great shortstops that frees teams up to achieve? The Mariners, the Rangers, and now the Sox have all jumped ahead following valuable shipments out of town. There’s no science to it.
Go to it, Derek, let’s keep it going.