We may be away from our trusty keyboard as Game 1 begins this evening—we’ll be watching, fear not—and so we’re going to put this up now so you, Dear Readers, can commence commentating with Boomer’s first pitch (if not before.) In other words, consider this your open thread for all tonight’s action. Go Yanks.
Friday, September 30th, 2005
After his hits last night, the talk is everywhere, even the NY papers: David Ortiz for MVP. It’s an emotional response, but with it all the logic, everything we’ve learned from sabermetics, all of our rational thinking about how baseball works is going right out the window. And it’s frustrating. Papi belivers have become baseball’s flat-earth fanatics. Its supporters of creationism. Its global warming doubters. Those would find it acceptable to put a political hack at the head of FEMA. (Okay, maybe we’re pushing it.)
But the facts speak clearly when analyzed rationally. A-Rod has better numbers. He has better numbers THIS WEEK. He has higher VORP scores. He PLAYS DEFENSE. (Gold Glove caliber over the last couple of months).
OPS Last 7 Days:
Ortiz: .753 (that’s worse than Jeter)
Papi is a lovable, wonderful, clutch player. A-Rod is more valuable. End of story.
Mr. Carroll is an object of national fascination in part because of his apparently pathological criminality, and in part because he represents a kind of Briton known as a chav. Chavs, whether rich or poor, tend to favor gaudy jewelry and expensive-but-tacky clothes with big logos and to behave in a way that others find coarse or obnoxious.
Unsure of what team’s hat this man wears? Don’t be. It’s an easy guess. Click through for a picture of the Chavino’s oh-so appropriate headwear. It’s funny how the uniform travels so consistently amongst louts, and the man’s resemblance to a certain scandal-plagued slugger is scary.
Thursday, September 29th, 2005
So it’s all gonna come down to the last three. We knew it would. And, frankly, we have a suspicion that Cleveland’s gonna collapse against the ChiSox, and we’re gonna see the Sox and Yanks again in the ALCS. Or maybe not. Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Anything can happen. Anaheim, with attention diverted, is heating up the West Coast. So what do we know? Wang goes tomorrow against Boomer. The Yanks have a one game lead but the next three are in Beantown. Hold onto your hats.
Suffice it to say that YF spent a good half hour yesterday bearing his soul and ideas on the blogosphere and baseball with a producer with NPR, only to find today that his slot on said (okay, unsaid) NPR program had been filled by others. Jilted. Feh. The good news is Unsaid Show don’t play in this Big Apple, and showtime and gametime tonight awkwardly coincided. So frankly we weren’t too crazy about the whole meta-aspect of talking on radio about a subject that we should have been covering elsewhere. Which is a long way around of stating, this is your open thread for all of tonight’s actionin Baltimore, Boston, and Other Parts around this Great Nation—Go Yanks!
2 days. 2880 minutes. It’s the time left before I get back to the United States. Much will happen in those 48 hours, even though only approximately 16% of them will be contested by our Yanks and Sox. It could be the time left in the Sox’ season and the time left until the Yankees clinch the division, or the time until the Yankees stare at elimination with just Sunday’s game to play. It’s approximately the time left in my 37th year, easily the best I have ever had (the Sox as champs and the arrival of Soxbaby Isaac, in ascending order of wonderfulness). Here’s hoping it’s just the first 48 hours of an additional 480 or so for the Sox, and 2/3 of all that those dastardly Yankees have left.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2005
Well that sucked. For everyone. See-saw games that turned ugly. For the Yanks, very, very ugly.And the results can’t inspire confidence for this coming weekend series. For anyone. In Baltimore, Moose got bombed. In Boston, Schilling was tagged. The two would-be Sunday starters. Don’t even get us started about the Yankee middle-relief. Why do we get the feeling this season is going to come down to the last at-bat. And that looks like it will be with Boston up in Feway. Let’s just hope Ortiz isn’t at the plate.
It would be easy to say the Yankees “showed urgency” last night with their annihilation of the O’s, and perhaps they did, though it would also be reasonable to point out that they left a whole bunch of runners stranded in scoring position in the first couple of innings. So maybe “urgency” is a matter of perspective, or maybe it’s just an old commentator’s cliche with no meaning whatever. You be the judge. We do note that, again, A-Rod had a big day, and not only with the game out of reach, and not with the dinger (so those bitching about his swinging for the fences pipe down.) The guy’s the MVP.
But let’s move on from “urgency” to a metric that does matter: runs. Or more preciesely run differential. It’s a truism of sabermetrics that the team that scores the most runs is the best offensive team, and the team that allows the fewest the best defensive. Subtract column B from column A and you have a reasonable means for judging a team’s overall performance. And for most, if not all of this season—I have checked intermittently, but not carefully—the Sox, bolstered by their huge offensive numbers, have been way ahead of the Yanks. But over the past week the Yanks caught up, and last night they actually went ahead:
Yanks: 855-748 = 107
Sox: 876-774 = 102
The bad news:
Cleveland: 774-627 = 147
Oak: 749-638 = 111
LoAA: 728-622 = 106
ChiSox: 717-632 = 85
While traveling through Europe, it’s easy to forget that there’s a baseball season ending over in the US. Even when you get on an internet connection and the tightness of the race is given away in New York Times headlines like "Rainout Forces Red Sox to Alter Pitching Order". The sheer obliviousness to the drama that envelopes all of us in the northeast corridor is both refreshing (eine anderes hefe dunkel, bitte!) and maddening (where the hell are the scores?! don’t these people understand?!!! IT’S THE SOX AND YANKS!!!!!) In Berlin, their marathon was run on Sunday; it’s apparently the world’s 3rd largest, and it may sound like blasphemy to many who read the site here but running through the 5 boroughs or up Heartbreak Hill must not have anything on the psychological journey one takes running through the Brandenburg Gate to the finish line, having traversed 26 miles of a time-scarred landscape, across recent history exposed. For Berliners, baseball couldn’t matter less. Even on the Schillingstrasse.
In Milan, it’s Fashion Week. Along the Via della Spiga and in the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle, skinny-legged models walk with appointment books in hand, and gift bags courtesy of Valentino and Cavalli sit behind the hotel concierge desks awaiting the slender hands of someone named "Maja" or "Natasha", neither of whom give a crap about guys named "Mariano" or "Bronson". Unaware of the tension brewing a mere ocean and change away, this city is more concerned about the goings on in the San Siro and the new collection from Miuccia, as opposed to the doppler radar readings in Worcester County.
For me, it’s refreshing, and though I may come under some fire for saying this, especially at this site, it’s good to be away, good to be out of our self-assigned center-of-the-universe. Perspective is important. Stress is low. The mozzarella di bufala is outstanding, best I’ve ever had. The Yankees won. The risotto con funghi was perfectly toothsome. The Sox were rained out. Europe doesn’t care. Alles ist gut. Tutto e bene. That flight back can’t come soon enough.
Monday, September 26th, 2005
Bad weather up and down the East Coast has put both the Yankees (starting their final stretch of 7 road games in Baltimore) and Boston (at home vs. Toronto) on what we hope is temporary hold for the evening. If and when things get going, the Big Unit will go for the Yanks, and Schilling for the Sox, two pitchers who may well meet with the season on the line next week.
We hope things get started soon; when they do, consider this your open thread for all the night’s action.
The most revealing moment in Ed Bradley’s 60 Minutes profile of Derek Jeter last night (transcript) came toward its end, and the subject was the wall Jeter puts up between himself and the media. Bradley, like just about everyone else who has ever interviewed the Captain, was not going to get past the protective facade Jeter has constructed for himself. From the transcript:
Jeter admits he’s been wary of people since he was a kid. “I wish I trusted people more,” he says. “But when I meet someone, the first thing is, ‘What does this person want?’ And I put up a defense mechanism. But I’ve always been that way.
Not surprisingly, the CBS producers have removed the next exchange from the transcript, which went essentially like this:
Bradley: “Am I gonna get through?”
Jeter: (laughing): “No one has in 31 years, and it’s not gonna start now.”
We can’t help but respect Jeter’s desire for privacy, and the shots 60 Minutes provides of him getting mobbed in a midtown Starbucks and walking down the street near his home besieged by autograph seekers show, in part, why he’s guarded. The profile also suggested, though not very deeply, that the cause might be the fact that he is the product of biracial parents, and that as a younger man he was subject to sadly typical racial slurs.
Bradley gets some interesting material, though not much fresh, from Jeter’s parents (his father’s competitiveness, the good-behavior contract he signed as a boy, a certain signal he may have with his mom to indicate he’s going for a dinger—we suppose that’s bs, but anything for mom is okay in our book) yet never probes with any real deepth. (Okay, it’s tv.) There’s no sign of Jeter’s sister, and a half-assed stab at the “nightlife” (non)issue. Mr. Torre provides some pap. No teammates are interviewed, nor any of the Yankee beat writers.
It’s gonna take more effort than that to crack the Jeter facade.
Sunday, September 25th, 2005
We don’t know if Bernie’s Yankee run is over, or if he’ll return to the stadium this year to do anything more than pack up his locker—we certainly hope he’ll be on the field again. Whatever the case, it’s been a great run. We’re by no means the first to note how the Yankees’ fortunes have matched up with his career trajectory over the last decade and a half: a slow start followed by glory and then a “decline” marked by excellence. Four titles, six pennants, a batting crown, a quartet of Gold Gloves, five trips to the All-Star Game. Not bad for a man who was never considered a “natural” but always a good citizen. If and when he’s gone, he will be missed. And he’ll always be our favorite centerfielder-jazz guitarist.