Saturday, August 26, 2006


I know what I said the other day about resting the bullpen, losing the battle to win the war. I understand the season-marathon-sprint analogies. Seeing the big picture and all that.

But why do these analogies always come into play when we play the damned Angels?

I see what Torre is trying to do. He wants to get Bruney and Dotel some work 1)to give Proctor and company some rest and 2)to get them in meaningful situations to see if they'll be useful in the stretch run.

But a five game lead isn't 15. A point I'm sure Joe is cognizant of with a little over a month left in the season. I appreciate Joe wanting to give his key guys a blow. But giving away all the momentum gained in the sweep in Boston can't be underestimated. The Yankees get swept and Boston win the next two in Seattle, the lead is 3 and a half. Hardly daunting with a month of baseball left on the calendar.

For once, I agree with Kevin Kennedy. Sit Alex tomorrow. He's not helping anyone collecting golden sombreros. And he's the last person you want as a DH, if he is not hitting. At least playing the field, he'll have something else to preoccupy his thoughts. If I were Joe, I'd tell Alex to fake a sickness and stay in his hotel. Get an early flight back to NYC and spend some time with his family. Get himself right for next week's series against the Tiggers and the Twinkies. Two potential playoff previews at home. Give him a couple of days off with the travel day to recoup.

I never thought that I would welcome the possible return of Carl Pavano. He's apparently looked great in his rehab starts and could be back very soon. Lidle showed today why he's a back of the rotation guy. I can't get angry at the guy for today because that's all he's ever been. Some starts when his breaking ball and off-speed stuff is working, he looks like he did against Boston Monday. Other days, it's extra batting practice.

When a batter knows you can't throw the ball by him and your breaking stuff isn't sharp, he's going to sit back and wait for a pitch to hit. You can't do that with Pavano. Even he's on a pitch count and can only give us six innings, I like him better than Lidle or Wright. We'll see if I'm right or if he makes me look like an ass again.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine who also works in media last night. She's someone who's opinion I've always respected so I always enjoy bouncing things off her to see what she's thinking. Last night, it was the preoccupation of the New York Media of all things A-Rod/Jeter and their relationship or lack thereof. The latest instance was Mike Lupica's column last Saturday.

I asked her why is this news? She brought up the preoccupation with the bloggers and sports radio on the subject and while you might not like Lupica, you have acknowledge that he did a good job on such a divisive subject.

Maybe I'm not the target audience for columns like that. Not because they're negative. I can take bad news about my team. I'm not one of these fans who look at their team with rose-colored glasses and is shocked when all of a sudden I find out that my favorite players are (gasp!) all too human. I watch professional sports because the men and women can do something only one percent of one percent of the world can do at their level. It's the same reason I go see a live music show or a museum for an exhibit. To see the best of the best on display.

But while I admire these people for their skill and ability, I don't hold out any chance that I would become friends with these people. If I had the opportunity to meet them, I'd hope that they would polite and civil but nothing more than that. Though in this day and age, asking that out of normal folks much less celebrities seems to be asking a lot.

People think that might be a cynical way of looking at things. Not at all, I've always been more of a glass half-full guy than half-empty. But I put these guys on pedestals like my rose-colored brethren do. I agree with Barkley, your role models should be the folks who are in your every-day life. Not someone you admire on television or in the papers. So when I hear about an athlete like Derrick Brooks and his charitable works, I'm like good for him. Nice work. But nothing more.

However when I hear about someone like Albert Belle, I say "What an asshole". And nothing more. Why? Because being a pro athlete doesn't make one immune to being an asshole...anymore than it makes one more apt to do good works. They're people just like their fans. They're not gods.

But unfortuantely, the media feeds into this black/white, rose-colored attitude that many fans have about sports and their athletes. Anyone with any sense of history (which most fans don't have) know that to the question over whether the Yankees win a title, Jeter and A-Rod's relationship is inconsequential. Gehrig and Ruth were not friends. DiMaggio did not have many friends on the Yankees. Munson and Jackson were cordial at best at the end of Munson's life. In 1977 and 1978, Munson along with Billy Martin threw him under bus every chance they got. The media tried to create the story that Mantle and Maris did not get along(which was not true). But even if it was, it would only be relavant if their discord got in the way of team results on the field.

Ultimately a team's success is based on the talent of the team and their professionalism. Just like any sucessful business, a team can have guys that hate each other. As long as they conduct themselves as profesionals and do their jobs, they'll be sucessful.

But because we choose to view athletics in a cartoonish, naive way, we choose to give relevance to a tree instead of the forest as a whole. If the Yankees win a title this year, will Derek and Alex's relationship still hold relevance? Chances are, if they weren't hanging out before the World Series, they won't be afterward. Will Lupica and company still write Sunday columns on it?

A big part of the problem is the explosion of new media outlets and the need for more and more content. Newspapers have to find a way to keep up with television outlets and the internet. So they have to give the public something only they can write. What complicates things is the fact that the Yankee locker room isn't exactly the most media friendly place in the majors.

Read Roger Kahn's books like October Men or The Boys Of Summer. There was a camraderie and trust between players and the press that seems like fantasy in today's climate.

You can see it these days in smaller markets. I was drinking with buddy of mine who covers a major league club in a small market when the club came to the city a few months ago. He brought one of the starters from the team with him for a night out on the town. They were doing what American males in their twenties do, telling crude jokes and chasing skirts. Nothing out of the ordinary for a night in NYC.

But can you imagine Giambi, Jeter or any of the Yankees breaking bread with their media counterparts? The Yankees keep the media at arms length. They make players available for pre and post-game, but don't think you're getting something to win you a pulitzer.

But can you blame them? Every story is turned into a scandal or melodrama. I keep hearing about how in New York, you don't have one season. But rather 162 seasons. But whose fault is that? Is it the fans or is the media feeding the frenzy?

Would I like to see my team have a more open relationship with the fourth estate. Yes. How that happens? I have no idea. Maybe when Steinbrenner dies, things will lighten up a bit.

Until you see Jeter having to deny that he's gay in the tabloids, that is....


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