A-Rod’s False Fall

As the Yankee blame train accelarates cliffward, I can’t help but think of a key passage from Pat Jordan’s memoir, A False Spring. Jordan, a bonus baby for the Braves, had been a top prospect but lost grip of his career in a death-spiral of self-doubt and anxiety. At camp, in a fog of his own failure, he is summoned to pitch BP. Joe Torre, the future star of the organization and already exhibiting a cool professionalism, is his catcher. Jordan mails in his performance. Torre confronts him and the two come to blows. Jordan, thinking about the incident, can’t blame Torre. He had not lived up to his own personal responsiblity. That was in 1962.

More than 40 years later, it seems Joe Torre still has little patience for those who can’t put their mental games in order. It would appear that his protege, Derek Jeter, shares that trait. Take the field. Play hard. Get the job done. Keep your mouth shut.

The Braves dumped Pat Jordan. Where do the Yankees go from here?

43 comments… add one
  • for god’s sake once and for all trade may-rod. undoubtedly a great player, undoubtedly blessed with talent, but he’s NEVER going to get it done in ny.
    if they can get ervin santana and 2 top prospects for him, why not make the trade? the dynasty teams of the late 90s didn’t blow anybody away with offense, they were built on pitching, defense and situational hitting.
    if he’s back next year, it’s another season of “can a-rod succeed in ny” stories in the tabloids, on espn, and on these blogs. it’s what’s best for everybody at this point: may-rod can continue his career somewhere where there’s less of a spotlight on his every move, and the yanks ditch an un-needed distraction.

    YFinBeantown October 9, 2006, 4:13 pm
  • i refuse to believe that he really wants to return to NY in april. yup, he’ll tell us how much playing in the big city means to him. and i realize that he’d have not performing in NY haunting him from that day on, but how could it be worse than the treatment he’s been getting for a year now?
    i would be praying for an out.
    i wouldn’t want to play for the people who go hoarse every day just to make sure i hear them curse me out.
    …as i hit 35 HR & drive in more than 120 runs…
    i’d be happy to flip ’em the bird and be on my way.
    and if the yankees get a fair offer, i hope they consider it.
    …for the sake of everyone involved.

    Yankee Fan In Boston October 9, 2006, 4:30 pm
  • Rodriguez says he blames only himself for his failure in the postseason, and thinks Torre has been “incredible” with him. Article.

    attackgerbil October 9, 2006, 5:50 pm
  • Just once I want a player to say “it was all Steinbrenner’s fault – he’s the Owner and it’s time for him to stop passing the buck down”, and see if the big coward in Tampa calls the bluff.
    Fight the power!!!

    SF October 9, 2006, 6:10 pm
  • I think players are pretty happy about the salaries he pays.
    As for stupid public blame comments, Cory Lidle almost certainly earned himself a one-way ticket out of town.

    YF October 9, 2006, 6:33 pm
  • SF: I think Don Zimmer came closest when he got the hell out of NY, sick of the Boss. I wish he had bumrushed Steinbrenner instead of Pedro. The original gerbil was really something. Interesting coincidence that his first job after saying he wouldn’t be back with the Yankees was with Lou.
    YF: Sheff too.

    attackgerbil October 9, 2006, 6:47 pm
  • I missed Lidle’s comments? What’d he say?

    Paul SF October 9, 2006, 6:48 pm
  • Lidle said something about the team “not being prepared to play.” Then, apparently, he tried to deny the quote on WFAN, nevermind that he had been taped.
    Not sure what Sheff said.

    YF October 9, 2006, 7:03 pm
  • lidle essentially said that the tigers were ready, while the yankees were not. he said that the yankees waltzed into the playoffs not being ready for the challenge.
    sheff, too. alkthough he credited jim leyland for getting the tigers fired up while saying, “we didn’t have that.”
    these aren’t direct quotes, but that is the general idea.

    Yankee Fan In Boston October 9, 2006, 7:03 pm
  • lidle:
    “We got taken by surprise. We got matched up with a team that was a little bit more ready to play than we were,” Lidle said yesterday. “We were all pretty surprised how not ready we were for that series.
    “I don’t think we took the Tigers for granted, I just think they were up for it a little more than we were. They were fighting tooth and nail down to the last game of the season. We clinched pretty early. Maybe we were in cruise control a little bit too much.”

    Yankee Fan In Boston October 9, 2006, 7:09 pm
  • sheffield on the lineup changes in games 3 & 4:
    “I think that affected the morale and psyche of the entire team, not just A-Rod,” Sheffield said. “”I’m not making any excuses, but everyone was wondering what was going on. It made it a real weird day. You would like to be treated with a little respect, I don’t care who you play for.
    “We were worrying about all of that stuff, and we still had a game to play. If I’m on the other side, and all of a sudden they’re putting Rodriguez eighth and putting me or Jason on the bench, you wonder what’s going on. Those guys [the Tigers] were asking me about it. I think it boosted their morale. It gave them confidence they didn’t have.
    “[Tigers manager] Jim Leyland took advantage of that. He can make you believe anything. He can put a fire under your belt like you never had before in your life.
    “Not to make excuses, but we didn’t have that.”

    Yankee Fan In Boston October 9, 2006, 7:14 pm
  • Sheff’s quotes are at USA Today
    He says he can’t believe they would think about firing Torre, thinking they would be more concerned with moving himself or ARod, but later on he discusses “respect” and that moving ARod to eighth, sitting guys, messed with their heads. I don’t want to paraphrase more than that. His words don’t throw Torre all the way under the bus; it’s vintage Sheff speaking his mind.

    attackgerbil October 9, 2006, 7:15 pm
  • Vintage Sheffield:
    “Who knew a slider and a fastball looked so much alike? It was weird how he never threw one fastball that started and stayed on the outside of the plate but everytime he threw the slider that started on the outside of the plate it seemed to drop about 3 feet away from the plate and then I swung at it evry time. Man, if I had only known why I was playing instead of Jason Giambi I might have been able to rectify that situation.”

    walein October 9, 2006, 8:18 pm
  • I like Sheffield. He has given us pretty much everything we paid for. I don’t think he realizes that George Steinbrenner’s “word” doesn’t mean much unless you win.

    walein October 9, 2006, 8:20 pm
  • I love the way Sheff seems to not give a shit about what anyone thinks about what he says, he just says it. He has no filter. It doesn’t mean I agree with him, or that he won’t say something to contradict himself later. He’s a force of nature and he’s probably a baseball writer’s wet dream in how he just lets things fly. He also can be just plain funny.
    Here’s an older collection of Sheff quotes.

    attackgerbil October 9, 2006, 8:37 pm
  • …there’s an argument for keeping arod…his production will be difficult to replace…his errors were up, but he’s only one year removed from a gg and mvp…is one tough year enough to ban him from ny?…the unknown is whether he can screw his head on straight enough to recapture his former success, especially in the playoffs [when he was not in ny]…the reality is that they will probably have to trade him in order to muster up the kind of pitching quality they need…
    sf: steinbrenner is to blame?…for what?….overspending?…for caring too much about putting a winner on the field?…does he get credit therefore for the championships in the late 70’s and late 90’s?…if so, his record is still better than any other owner of his era…no, this is a collective flop…there may be something to what cory lidle is saying…maybe the yanks started to believe that they were the greatest lineup of all-time…or maybe they just ran into a team with the right combination of talent, youth, moxie, and timing…….and there’s nothing fatally wrong with a team that finished first [by double digits] again…or there is, and the yanks should retool to win the post-season, and be content with getting into the party as a wild card and not the div. winner…check the success of the wild cards in recent years…

    dc October 9, 2006, 9:18 pm
  • DC – you seem to be the only Yankee fan I know, even ones I don’t know (on this site for example) that seem to be ok with the fact that this team spent so much, had so much talent in the lineup, had so much leadership in the coaching staff, and had by your accounts the best manager and owner and still got bumped from the playoffs in four games. You seem to be okay with the fact that the Yankees won the division and nothing else. Is this the case, or is this just you way of shouldering the real truth of the matter: it’s an embarrassment to be associated with this organization this year.
    The Yankees spit the bit, and yes the Sox finished third, but I’m willing to wage a bet on which is going to draw more speculation and critisism over the off-season – except with you.
    You seem to think that the moves Steinbrenner has made over the past few years are good ones, and he deserves no blame or critisism of his own? I mean, unless your counting the regular season, Steinbrenner isn’t really fielding a winning team, is he? Who cares about what happens before the post-season? It’s all about what happens there, in October. Hasn’t that been the mantra of the Yankee fan for years? Mr. October, Mr.November – both are examples of what Yankee fans truly lay their hopes on: the postseason.
    To revert to a position that allows for praise on simply winning the division is in complete contrast to what we’ve been force-fed our entire lives.
    When you do what the Yankees do, and trust me, at times I praise the moves of the organization, it’s a flop of major proportions to do what they’ve done this year.
    No matter what, you’re right – the Yankees should retool. I heard on baseball tonight today that the Yankees should just get Zito and Schmidt. Both of them. Imagine that. This site, on paper, would become pointless. It’s really just too bad that you have to build a team, not buy one – otherwise out respective teams would be unbeatable.

    Brad October 9, 2006, 10:35 pm
  • ps – go Broncos.

    Brad October 9, 2006, 10:36 pm
  • otherwise out respective teams…
    otherwise, both our respective teams…
    Monday night football typing error.

    Brad October 9, 2006, 10:42 pm
  • Brad, I think you’re misconstruing DC”s words. He’s right. There’s nothing fatally wrong with winning the division by a lot of games. Actually, this in many ways was one my favorite Yankees teams of the last 5 years. I thought they provided a lot of highlights. The post-season loss was quite disappointing. No denying that, but I’m thankful they were still in it when late August came around. There’s truly no comparison with the 2006 Sox season. Brad, you might want to hold onto some stereotyped view of all Yanks fans as being arrogant and self-entitled and unreasonable but there are people like DC who are able to put things in perspective and actually root for the Yanks at the same time. And, I’m going to shoot from the gut and say that in general it was probably more enjoyable rooting for the Yanks this year than it was rooting for the Sox.

    Nick-YF October 9, 2006, 10:48 pm
  • …thanks for defending me nick…brad’s not only misconstruing my words, he’s torturing and manipulating them, along with simply misquoting me…inexcusable….
    …brad, i was willing to let the whole 1st is better than 3rd argument go as being ultimately pointless…do yourself a favor, and drop it…
    …you also need to drop the yanks outspending everyone stuff…i’ve debunked that as “sox spin” [part of the excuse machine]…you can’t have it both ways…the yanks spending hasn’t won them anything, so why do you care how much they piss away?…since the sox fo and ownership is more talented, they should figure out a low cost way to outsmart those high-roller foolish spending new yorkers…
    …i never said anything that would make it “seem” that i was “ok” with the yanks finish…in fact, if you’ll go back and review, i said it was a major disappointment…
    …i never said the yankees [i.e. steinbrenner] made all the right moves, especially in the past few years…i’ve criticized the pavano, vasquez, brown, contreras, et al acquisitions…i merely ask for some perspective on the whole body of work when assessing yankee decision making and success…
    …i have said that i thought that the yankees are victims of their own success somewhat…fans have become so accustomed to winning frequently [an average of 1 every 4 years since the turn of the last century, and at least 1 every decade since the 20’s, except the 80’s, and so far this decade] that we want to win every year…as nick so aptly put, that’s not arrogance, that’s pride in the history of our team…and, winning feels good…but don’t even try to convince us that the regular season doesn’t matter to yankee fans…you don’t think i enjoyed watching jeter compete for the mvp and along with cano compete for a batting title?…how about the way cano improved in his second year?…and melky?…i loved watching him get a chance to play…and wang, and bernie [in what was supposed to be a diminished role]…and i don’t mean to rub it in, but i really enjoyed the 5 game sweep in august…no, i’m not saying that’s as good as a ws win, and it doesn’t wash away the disappointment for being out of the playoffs now, but at the time it was a great feeling…i still love my team and i won’t get on them when they’re down…

    dc October 9, 2006, 11:59 pm
  • Well, DC – as long as you’re happy with it, I can’t really say much more.

    Brad October 10, 2006, 9:16 am
  • I didn’t see anyone bring it up, but I did see a lot of people talking about trading A-rod.
    Keep in mind, A-rod has a no-trade clause, so it’s not that easy.

    LocklandSF October 10, 2006, 9:31 am
  • I do think the lineup needs to be tinkered with. The core of Jeter, Giambi, Matsui, Sheff and A-Rod has now gone cold in three consecutive postseasons and clearly that can’t continue. Yes, the pitching ultimately cost us the Detroit series, but it’s not like we lost the games 9-7.
    My solution would be to let Sheff go, make Matsui DH and draft in Melky – for starters.
    And, please, for God’s sake don’t trade A-Rod.

    Sam October 10, 2006, 9:57 am
  • Also, I think that the effect the Weds rainout shouldn’t be ignored. The Tigers were reeling, they’re bullpen tired and their confidence low. Maybe that extra day really helped them get back on an even keel.

    Sam October 10, 2006, 10:00 am
  • Sam – the yanks haven’t won in the postseason since 2000, and have been done in by better pitching every time (2001 schilling/unit, 2002 young angels staff, 2003 beckett et al, 2004 angels again, 2005 bonderman/verlander/zumaya).
    are you really willing to put all of your eggs in the philip hughes basket? if not, don’t you think that trading a-rod for a young stud pitcher and a couple prospects makes the most sense for the success of this franchise?
    if you can get ervin santana from anaheim, brandon mccarthy from chicago, do it.

    YFinBeantown October 10, 2006, 10:54 am
  • btw, great article by murray chass today in the times:

    YFinBeantown October 10, 2006, 10:59 am
  • YF in B – I don’t think Ervin Santana is a young stud. Sorry. His stats are comparable to Kelvim Escobar, for goodness sake.
    I think the Japanese kid comes over for sure. You also have the potential of Pavano to be the No 4 starter, and maybe slip Hughes into the 5 spot mid-season. That works for me.
    Mark my words: A-Rod will make the Yanks look very bad if he’s traded. He’ll be a roaring success in LA or Chicago or wherever.
    PS – speaking of trading your best hitters, did anyone see Peter Gammons’ latest column? He quotes Manny as saying that he wants to be traded to an NL team. Manny for Carlos Delgado anyone?

    Sam October 10, 2006, 11:22 am
  • …well brad, as long as you’re happy with finishing 2nd every year, oops, i mean third this year, and winning once every 86 years, i can’t really say much more…

    dc October 10, 2006, 11:27 am
  • I’m not –

    Brad October 10, 2006, 11:35 am
  • ….the yanks may have to trade arod in order to attract decent enough pitching…their problem is that it is a no-win situation…if they don’t trade him and he has another “off” year [sounds funny considering his overall stats], they will be vilified in the press, and give sf’s cause to celebrate…if they do trade him, and he comes off the “bad” year with even marginally better stats, including a game-winning hit or 2 against the yanks, they’ll be vilified for dumping the player that many folks think may be the greatest of all time…such is the price for living on the yankee island surrounded by yankee hating sharks starving for a win of their own…

    dc October 10, 2006, 11:35 am
  • brad, brad, now you’re in denial…you’ve been trying to convince me for days that you were less disappointed about the sox finish than i should be about the yanks finish, suggesting that i shouldn’t be entitled to some enjoyment from the good things that happened prior to the playoffs…

    dc October 10, 2006, 11:39 am
  • DC – you sum up the A-Rod problem perfectly, which is why we shouldn’t listen to the idiots out there. Fact is that overall, he had a better year with the bat than any Yankee bar Cap’n Derek (and maybe Johnny D) – and that was in what was for him a slumping year. Why trade that? Because people say we should?
    And again, if someone was dangling King Felix or Liriano or even Brandon Webb in exchange for A-Rod, I’d say think about it. But they’re not and they won’t. You get proper value for him, so just forget about it.

    Sam October 10, 2006, 11:56 am
  • …right on sam…while i’ve said we would probably need to trade him to scare up some pitching, we should keep him flaws and all…i don’t like the thoughts of him being on another team, re-energized, poised to come back to haunt us…and, as you say, we will never get the proper value for him because he’s perceived to be damaged goods, something that our trading partners will surely use against us…

    dc October 10, 2006, 1:32 pm
  • DC:
    nice “trap” you set there for Brad. But you’re not getting something that I understand as reasonable: the idea that having one’s expectations built up to a huge level and a correspondingly high-profile failure might be more emotionally difficult to deal with than avoiding that disappointment altogether. I don’t agree with Brad, but your “gotcha!” moment is totally BS. Brad’s position is that, knowing what transpired with the Yankees (and hindsight is easy, of course), that he would rather have been spared the “disaster” (if you can call it that) that was their effort against the Tigers. Again, I don’t find myself agreeing with him, but I don’t think he’s saying anything preposterous.
    Here’s something else: if finishing third allows a front office to witness the failings of the team more clearly, and this witnessing allows them to adapt and make smarter moves for the future, then that third place finish might actually be useful. Sometimes teams that come within a whisker of winning feel like they are almost complete, when in fact they are severely lacking. There can be a deception in success. There can also be overreaction in failure.
    I am not saying that this is the case (yet) with either of our teams; there have been no moves made yet to show whether or not such responses are in the cards. I only put this out there to show why I think Brad’s position isn’t that unreasonable, even as I wish the Sox had made the playoffs and the Yanks hadn’t.

    SF October 10, 2006, 2:06 pm
  • sam – thanks for calling me an “idiot”, way to keep the debate above board.
    what’s worse? not getting equal value to what may-rod’s value would be if he weren’t playing in ny, or to continue to see him struggle with the burden placed on him, continue to fail in the biggest spots possible, and see the yanks continue to exit the playoffs because of the lack of young arms?
    if he struggles again next year, and his numbers drop even more, and the yanks make the playoffs and are ousted again as may-rod goes 1-13 (and there’s no reason to think that’s not the scenario given the current makeup of this team), what then? then do you trade him? and get $0.25 on the dollar instead of $0.75?

    YFinBeantown October 10, 2006, 4:03 pm
  • YFinB – apologies, the idiot jibe was not aimed at you. I was thinking more of the Lupicas and Mike & Mikes of the world. No offence meant.
    But my point stands: I don’t think the young arms we get in return will be sufficient. Also, I really think that he can turn things around. It’s almost unheard of for such a large discrepancy between regular and postseason stats to exist, and I think a correction will come eventually. Thirdly, who do you play at third? Please let’s not forget that (M)A(Y)-Rod is still a key contributor to this team in the regular season, and you have to win those games before even getting to the playoffs.

    Sam October 10, 2006, 4:15 pm
  • hopefully you could play Wood or Kendrick or Figgins at third.

    Seth October 10, 2006, 4:55 pm
  • Figgins can kiss it. He’s a utility player. I don’t think Bill Stoneman would part with Wood or Kendrick AND Santana (and still I’m not sure that’d be enough).

    Sam October 10, 2006, 5:07 pm
  • sf, uh….ok, if you’re ok with it…
    …but, what you’re not getting is that i DO get it…so, you are…wrong…again…brad’s premise is only reasonable if you don’t root for the sox or yanks…take tampa bay for example…finishing higher than last is a reason for tb fans to celebrate…finishing less than first is unacceptable for the sox and yanks…unless you no longer want to compete with us…i believe it was you sox fans who said yf’s should feel humilated about the post season, but not entitled to have found some pleasure from the regular season…i merely pointed out that all yf’s are not the same, and some of us actually appreciate the entire season and how it plays out…it still blows my mind that you can actually try to claim that finishing 3rd is better than finishing 1st…unless, that is, you didn’t expect your team to finish first…is that the point i’m missing?…from the perspective of the playoffs, both of us failed…i’ve said that…but in every contest i’ve ever been in, 1st was better than 3rd…i suggested to brad that he drop it as a pointless and silly argument, but some reason, some of you won’t…somehow it makes you sf’s feel better about the sox collosal in-season collapse to try to convince everyone that [all] yf’s only care about the post season…duh, we all care about the post season, but to claim that we didn’t find some enjoyment with what went on during the season, including the yanks clubbing of the sox in historic fashion, and your crash and burn in august, is intellectually dishonest, something some sox fans are guilty of frequently on this site…maybe 86 years of losing takes away your perspective and numbs you to what’s good about the entire baseball season…

    dc October 10, 2006, 8:40 pm
  • by the way i didn’t set a trap for brad…he stepped in his own s—

    dc October 10, 2006, 8:41 pm
  • lest we get carried away, DC. I didn’t step in anything: I’m just tired of an argument that goes nowhere. You contradict yourself, as I sometimes do, and there’s no sense in keeping this low-blow bout going.

    Brad October 11, 2006, 8:27 am
  • …brad, now you’re starting to make me feel bad [really]…i don’t think i’ve contradicted myself anywhere…and i’ve said before that it was pointless to continue to rehash the discussion about 1st/3rd…then i see sf’s post begging for me to respond…so, i had to set the record straight…again…the only followup point that i was trying to make was to refute the erroneous notion that ALL yf’s shouldn’t find any enjoyment in the game of baseball as a whole…that we are [ALL] so self-centered and narrow-minded that only the ws matters…if you want to talk about a low blow and unfair, that’s a good one…some of us are actual baseball fans, we’re not cloned from george steinbrenner, and we actually have minds of our own…you insult us when you won’t allow us to point that out to you…i shouldn’t give away this secret, i suppose, but what really gets under my skin is when you guys try to tell me how i should think and feel about my team…i make every effort not to get personal and name-call…in fact i apologized once for calling an anon poster a “moron” which turned out to be you [the anon that is]…blatant personal attacks are out of bounds, but if i suggest that someone is being stubborn, condradicting themselves, or misquoting/misrepresenting myself or another poster, then you can expect me to clean that up and set the record straight…how’s this for a deal: you and i will try to restrain ourselves from participating in any more 1/3 debates, even if one of our colleagues fires a shot in our direction…fair enough?…

    dc October 11, 2006, 10:19 am

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