Saturday, November 19, 2005

Some Weekly Perspective

I got involved in an interesting debate this week with Imperial Vixen K-Bisch over some of Matsui's negotiating tactics. It pissed her off that Godzilla was letting the Imperial brass know that his first choice was to stay in the Bronx, but if push came to shove, he'd have no problem going elsewhere in the states.

I could see why she was upset. As a fan of the team, the thought of Matsui leaving annoyed me as well. But from a business standpoint, I could totally see why he played it this way.

It's important during negotiations to show an employer that you're loyal to the cause and that you want to stay with your company. But not so loyal that you're willing to allow them to lowball you into a figure that's insulting. And definitely not so loyal that you wouldn't be willing to leave if they're not willing to pay you what you know you're worth.

Sometimes, the threat of leaving is the only way to let an employer know that you're serious about your demands. Maybe negotiating through the media is a bit unseemly at times. But the squeaky wheel gets greased. He was asked the question by the media and he answered it. He didn't say "I want this amount or I'm walking." He was very cool and understated in how he handled it. Classy as he's always been.

Whether it be Joe D, Babe Ruth or Don Mattingly, the Yankees have always shown that the only thing that they respect in contract negotiations is power. The players who make it clear that they want their demands met or they'll walk...generally get what they want. The ones who allow the Yankees to lowball them (Gehrig) or ignore them all together (Pettite), either get the short end of the stick or leave all together like Andy did. Or you get a situation like Bernie Williams' in 1998. Where the Yankees have to sign him just to save face after the debacle of courting world-class asshole Albert Belle. When they realized that Belle had no intention of coming here and only used the Yankees to drive up the price for Baltimore, Cashman had to scramble and save face by preventing Bernie from signing with Boston.

In the end, Matsui and the Yanks came to an agreement and all's right in the Empire. But I wonder if Hideki and Arn Tellem didn't give Cashman and company some hard deadlines to meet, if everything would ended up as rosy as it turned out. I think he would have signed simply because the Yankees simply couldn't afford another shitstorm like the one that came after Pettite left and Clemens came out of retirement to sign with Houston. But I thought that it was pretty smart of him to nudge the process along a little bit.

This is a business. The teams never forget that with the way they buy, sell and release players like cattle. It's good to know that some players understand that and play that game as well as they play baseball.

I like Brian Giles as a player. I'm actually wearing a Giles Padres T-Shirt that I bought last year when I visted Petco Park. Offensively, he would be lethal in the two spot in our lineup. Any lineup where you're potentially batting Jorge Posada ninth would be downright scary.

But I'm not sold on the idea of him playing centerfield.

If I had my way, if he's the only option out there, I would put Matsui in centerfield and Giles in left. Odd as it sounds, Matsui seems to play a better centerfield than left at times. Neither of them would remind us Bernie in his prime or Andruw Jones, but I think that Godzilla would be serviceable in center and Giles would be fine in left.

Noone is going help the Yankees with their centerfield problems unless they're willing to give up one of their young players or prospects. I like Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand. But I'm not giving up any of my young players for either of them. Unless I could get someone who could potentially become another Bernie, Andruw or Beltran. As good as these guys are defensively, they are righthanded .270-.280 hitter with 20 plus homer power. Nice players, but hardly all-world. I think Cano can be a star of the first order in the future and Wang can be consistent 15-20 game winner in the majors. And I'm not willing to mortgage off the future off either by trading away Duncan or any of our other top prospects. I'm tired of seeing guys like Jake Westbrook or Zach Day pitch for other teams when we have to pay for free agent busts like Pavano and Wright.

Besides, out top priority for the off-season should be shoring up the bullpen. If you have good pitching, you'll win as long as your defense is serviceable. Sheff in Right, Matsui in Center and Giles in left gives us that.

Take a look at these stats and tell me if the AL MVP race was the travesty of justice that Infidel Nation is this making this out to be:



162 605 124 194 29 1 48 130 21 .321 .421 .610



159 601 119 180 40 1 47 148 1 .300 .397 .604

Everyone is talking about how Ortiz turned into Superman in the late innings this year and how Alex was just ordinary. Very true. David Ortiz was and is and an incredible performer in the clutch. But Alex was no sloutch either. Alex won quite a few games this year with his bat and his glove this year. People want to talk about how the Red Sox wouldn't have been in contention if Ortiz didn't have the year he had. With the pitching problems and injuries the Yankees had, you're going to tell that they would have won the division without A-Rod? Anyone who says that is either a delusional Yankee-hater who doesn't watch many Yankee games, a pathological liar or someone on John Henry's payroll.

And riddle me this: if you win a game in the fifth inning with a RBI double to win a 2-1 pitching duel in July or with a two-run homer in September to win 10-9, doesn't it still count as one win? Isn't each win important to the standings? Didn't we learn this year that every game counts with our putrid 8-11 performance against the D-Rays? And the Red Sox equally disgusting showing against the Blue Jays this year? If you win 20-11 and 19-8 like the Yanks did against Tampa last year, what difference does it make if you lose the next day like the Yanks did to Tampa? If you beat the Yankees 17-1 like the Red Sox did at Fenway in July, what difference does it make if you lose the next two games and the series?

One win is just that. One win. That's the great thing about baseball, you get your ass kicked on Monday. You have a chance to redeem yourself on Tuesday.

Drama is fine and Ortiz has a great feel for it. He's an incredible performer. But Alex is the better player. Theatrics are all well and good, but give me good old fashioned fundamental baseball. And day in day out, Alex helps your team win in more ways than David does. And that to me defines the Most Valuable Player.

I said earlier that the award should have been split, to be fair. Screw fair. Alex won the award fair and square. He deserves the award and I'm glad he won. Case closed.

You'd think that the Yankees hiring an entirely new coaching staff, A-Rod winning the MVP, playing KGB from Rounders and DJ winning another Gold Glove (when he's supposed to be the worst defensive shortstop in the league) would get me inspired to write something good for the Empire. Wrong.

What gets me off my duff to write something? Stupid Met fans and their hatred for all things in Navy Blue pinstripes.

The latest idiot to get on my shitlist is the blogger who calls himself "The Metmaster." Here's what he wrote in his inaugural post.

Have you noticed that we are different from the other baseball fans in our town? We are people who enjoy the simple things in life. We are good natured. We realize the fragility of life, and understand what life is all about, that you don't get to win all the time, that there is a whole lot more disappointment in life then there are victories, and when the victories come we savor and appreciate them. We have character. We're the kind of people you want to share a foxhole with. We cover each other's back. We're the working stiffs who built this country. We're Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. We're blue collar, or the sons and daughters of blue collars, and damn proud of it. We stand by our team and each other, regardless of the foibles and weaknesses. We are the true representatives of the greatest city in the world. We're the guys who raced up into the Twin Towers, and then would not leave until every friend was found. It was our team that honored the fallen with our baseball caps that season, it was our team that helped coordinate the relief with our stadium, it's our team that hosts a winter party every year for the families of 9/11. We don't have 26 World Chapionships to show off. We're not the most successful franchise in the history of sport, as the insufferables from uptown constantly bludgeon people with. We have something a whole lot more worthwhile. We have dignity and class. We're Americans.

That soliloquy was nice. But what the hell does that have to do with rooting for a baseball team??? Hating the Yankees is one thing. But what the hell does that have to do with rooting for your baseball team? Why do some fans who root for teams that don't win feel the need every now and then, to act as if it's a noble act to root for a team and not change allegiances because they stink? You'd think they were going off to war and dying for their country or something....

I've been a NY Giants fan since 1980 when I started watching football regularly. They were the New York team that I was first introduced to and I decided to root for them. Simple as that. In those 25 years, I've seen some great football. I've also seen some very pretty bad football. The point is, as a fan I don't deserve the Red Badge of Courage because I didn't jump ship and become a Cowboys fan.

And last I checked, there were quite a few Yankee fans who died in the Twin Towers during 9/11 and have served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. So the inference, that Mets fans are somehow more patriotic than Yankees fans is so stupid that it's insulting to stupid people everywhere.

This angst stems from one thing from one thing only; Our team is better than theirs and because of it more people are going to Yankee games than Mets games. In the 80's, this was their town. And yes, they drew over 3 million fans long before we did. But they're pissed that not only have we won more titles in 10 years than they've won 40...they're pissed that not even their own fans take their team seriously. How do you explain all the empty seats at Shea in July and August when the team was in contention? How do you explain the Yankees being only the third team in history to draw over four million fans? Something the Mets have never done and never will do?

So your problem isn't us. It's your fanbase. And maybe if you worried more about your team than the team across town, you wouldn't have to write soliloquys to justify your pitiful existence.

Here's another little diddy that he wrote to a recent post that I wrote...

Oh, the pomposity!
Why must Yankee fans be so arrogant? Don't you all know by now of the Yankees contributions to mankind? They invented baseball. Hell, they invented grass. Listen to John Sterling. (Lord, what a thought!) Everything is perfect in Yankeeland. "Susan is this just the perfect setting for a ball game"? "Susan, can they get any more people into this 'Cathedral of Baeeball'"? "Susan, I walked through Monument Park, as I often do to collect my thoughts, and it struck me how wonderful it is to be a blowhard" Blah, blah, blah.
Everything is perfect in that slice of heaven on River Avenue. The grass is greener, the beer is colder, the hot dogs are hotter, the dirt is dirtier. Don't you know it was the Yankees who saved the game? Don't you know it was the "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" that galvanized a nation? Don't you know it was the Yankees who kicked Hitler's ass?
Yankee fans are self-absorbed, self-important, arrogant elitists. They are the French of baseball.
If they have a history of such great fans, then why did the Mets draw 3-million long before the Yankees did? All those championships and they could not put three million fannies in "The Cathedral of Baseball? It wasn't until Steinbrenner threatened to move them to Jersey that people started showing up. Yeah Shea is a toilet, but the House That Ruth Built is no bargain either when it comes to fan comforts. Oh, I forgot. The "ghosts" are supposed to keep you in a perpetual state of awe that you forget about the crowded men's rooms, impassable concourses, obnoxious ushers, and lousy food. But both teams will soon be in new digs. I guarantee that when both are built the writers will critique them. The new Yankeeland will be all about "shock and awe". They are so infatuated by their past that the result will be a sterile monolith. The new place in Flushing will be described as "fun", a word that has never been associated with the Yankees. Isn't fun what it's all supposed to be about? The impossible pressure to win everything all the time has made Yankee fans into joyless jerks. I've been to games where the Yankees are beating some hapless souls like the Royals or Devil Rays by a couple of runs and all you hear are the complaints of the faithful that the Yankees should be winning by 6 runs. It's not enough to beat you. Yankee fans find it necessary to beat, batter, bludgeon and embarrass. Classless. They are like Donald Trump; constantly telling you that they have more than you have. Our day will come again. Soon. A day that terrifies Yankee fans.

"I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out."

The last paragraph was from Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities". Nice to know Mets fans own library cards.

I agree that there a lot of loud, obnoxious Yankees fans out there. Some of them are incredibly ignorant of the baseball world around them. But just because we worry more about our team than what's happening across town doesn't mean we care less about the game than other fans. It means that we were prefer to tend to our house and problems before we worry about everyone else's.

I'm sure you've all heard of the woman who tends to all of the kids in the neighborhood except her own. What happened? Her kids ends up either dead or in prison while the rest of the neighborhood's kids turn out fine.

The point? Worry about your own house instead of butting into what's going into mine.

Yeah, we're damn proud of past. Instead of trying to compete with it, create your own future and legacy.

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was once asked if Shaq could become the next Wilt or Russell. Kareem replied why can't he become the first Shaq? Stop worrying about trying to compare to us and start your own thing. That small town mentality is the reason why the Mets are considered second class in the first place.

I'll say one thing about the French. They know who they are and they don't apologize for it. They look after their own interests first and foremost and be damned to anyone who doesn't like it. Maybe the Mets brass and their fans can learn some lessons from DeGaulle, Chirac and Napoleon...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Whoop De Dam Do....Alex Wins The MVP....

From The Yankee Website...

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez may not yet have any World Series rings to show for his remarkable career, but the Yankees' third baseman picked up his second American League Most Valuable Player Award on Monday.

Rodriguez beat out David Ortiz, Boston's larger-than-life designated hitter, who finished a close second in the voting. Rodriguez earned 16 first-place votes and 331 points, while Ortiz received 11 first-place votes and 307 points.

"David Ortiz is a great player, and I have a great privilege not only to compete against David, but against a great organization like the Red Sox," Rodriguez said. "I'd certainly trade his World Series championship for this MVP trophy."

Los Angeles' Vladimir Guerrero received the other first-place vote, finishing third. Boston's Manny Ramirez and Cleveland's Travis Hafner rounded out the top five.

Rodriguez got 11 second-place votes and one third, while Ortiz was listed second on 17 ballots.

I wish that I could say that I was surprised that A-Rod won...but I'm not. Listening to what many of these columnists were saying over the last few weeks of the season, it was pretty clear to me that if the Yankees won the division, that the award would go to Alex. As good as David Ortiz was this year, he would have to have had a .330, 50 HR, 160 plus RBI along with a division title to overcome the writers prejudice toward the DH position. And that's saying something considering the national prejudice toward all things New York Yankee and the fact that Alex isn't exactly the most popular figure in the game.

And despite the expected whining from New England's Infidel Nation, this wasn't highway robbery or some travesty of justice. Their offensive stats were very close...with Alex having the advantage in homers, batting average, hits and OPS and Ortiz the nod in RBIs and average with RISP. Yes, Ortiz (along with Manny) was the only thing that kept the Sox in the race until the very last weekend of season. But A-Rod was a huge part of the Yankees overcoming the many problems they had early last summer. Maybe he didn't have the same flair for the dramatic as Papi did. But he carried the Yankees to victory on many an ocassion last summer. Including that huge series at Fenway after the all-star break where Alex and Sheff helped the Yanks take three of four from the infidels and briefly put the Yanks in first place. So his numbers were hardly empty Sosa-esque stats.

And all of this talk from the talking heads and bloggers that this would be as bad as Mo Vaughn beating out Albert Belle in 1995...please. Belle beat Vaughn in almost every statistical category and led a team that won 100 games in 144 games. Not even close.

But did he deserve the award? That's in the eye of the beholder. This might sound wishy-washy, but I think the fairest thing would have been to split the award like they did in 1979 with Pops Stargell and Keith Hernandez in the National League. Both guys were equally deserving of the award. And yes it's a little dishonest to make such a big deal about defense when so many below-average defensive players have won the award. But never has a DH had a year like David did, so it was never an issue before. The closest was Edgar Martinez in 1995 and Belle had the better stats overall. Vaughn should have finished third, not first. But most DHs are older players who can still hit, but can't play the field everyday. Not 30 year olds hitting their prime like Ortiz. And definitely not 30 year olds hitting their prime..who hit in front of one of the great hitters of the last 25 years.

Don't underestimate the Manny factor in all of this. As good as Ortiz was last season, all these comparison to Barry Bonds are just a little premature. Let's see him put up those numbers without Manny or someone like him hitting behind him. Because that's what he's probably going to have to do in 2006. A-Rod has put up big numbers for the last 10 years. Papi's done it for three. Put the Bonds talk on the shelf for a little while please.

People talk about the hype machine in New York. Well Boston does a pretty good job as well. Papi has turned into the Dominican Babe Ruth in three years. "The greatest clutch hitter in Boston history." Wow. One great postseason and you're compared to the man that saved baseball.

I almost wished that Alex didn't win the award. As much as I like to see our guys succeed, it's gotta be bittersweet for him to win the award after his awful postseason. You heard it in his voice on his conference call today to the press. He knows that he'll always be judged by how he plays in October. No number of MVPs can match a World Series title. Or failure. It's not quite as bad as David Robinson winning the NBA MVP in 1995 and then getting destroyed by Hakeem Olajuwon in the conference finals. But it's close.

So congrats Alex on the award. But next year, you have to earn it on the field. Not the ballot box.