Monday, September 27, 2004

Untitled Thoughts

Both Mike Lupica and Jack Curry invoked the imagery in their columns today. I'll just third the motion -- on behalf of walls everywhere, the Green Monster got revenge on Kevin Brown.

Brown was awful. Everything waist-high, every pitch straight and flat. I thought I might be having a Bill Gullickson flashback. Crazy Eyez gets one more start, but based on yesterday, I can't see a thing Brown could do in his next appearance to warrant a roster spot, much less a turn in the postseason rotation.

Ugh. Just bringing up Bill Gullickson gave me a Rich Dotson flashback. This pitching staff is bringing back my late 80's/early 90's Yankee PTSD.


Five weeks from election day, and we're still stuck on what the candidates did or didn't do during the Viet Nam war. Maybe we could speed things up a little bit, get through the 80s by Halloween.

Maybe the reason we're stuck in the 70's is because nobody thinks anything important has happened in the last four years. All I'm saying is that right now, John Kerry's pretty well set up to win a presidential election -- the one back in 1976, narrowly edging out Gerald Ford. Shame that was almost 30 years ago.


Michael Kay announces like a guy trying to pick a fight. Here's one from Saturday night's game, after the Yankees tied the game up, before the bullpen coughed things up (paraphrased): "This place is quiet. It shows you the difference between the fans here and the ones in the Bronx. Red Sox fans will cheer after something happens. Yankee fans will cheer before it happens, to try to get something going."

People complain that the Yankees announcers are all homers. But there are all sorts of homers. Phil Rizzuto was a homer, but of the best kind. He'd been in the Yankee organization his whole adult life, so being objective never occurred to him. Hearing the Scooter announce a ballgame was like watching a game with a chatty, benign, absent-minded Yankee fan. It sounded like amateur hour sometimes, but it was genuine.

Another kind of homer is Suzyn Waldman. Suzyn's a Red Sox fan by upbringing, but after more than a decade of covering the Yankees clubhouse, she's bonded with the players. Reason she isn't objective is because she doesn't have enough emotional distance from her subjects. Same thing happened to her when she covered the Knicks.

Other reporters tell you what the Yankees did or said, Suzyn talks about how they're feeling. When a Yankee acts stupidly, she gets mad at him; when one suffers a disappointment, she'll tear up with sympathy.

I know lots of people don't like Waldman, but in a city where dozens of people cover the same ball team in the same way, I appreciate her unique point of view.

A new species of homers, however, isn't biased in favor of the Yankees because of history or empathy. They do it because it's a smart career move. These fellows have realized that sucking up to Yankee fans -- and to Big Stein, who does listen to their broadcasts -- means they don't just get to keep one of the most lucrative local broadcasting deals in the business, but also opens up opportunities for endorsements and talk show gigs. Their own little world of pseudo-celebrity.

I'm not going to name any names, but there are some guys that just take the homer thing way too far. I don't need to be constantly reminded that Yankee fans are the best fans in all of sport, or that the Yankees are the most storied franchise in baseball history. I don't need to hear someone constantly put down the Yankees' opponents and their fans, in the most biased way possible. I don't need to hear "Theee-huh-huh Yankees win!" when the Yanks put a game away, in order to feel good about myself.

If there's one extraordinary quality Yankee fans do have, it's the ability to spot a fake.

I need to believe my broadcasters, trust that the things they're telling me are true. It's hard to see eye-to-eye with someone that's kissing your ass.


The whole suckup thing is a matter of taste, though. Maybe there's people that are into that sort of thing. What's objectively upsetting is when the broadcasters can't deliver some basic baseball analysis.

Saturday night, bottom of the 8th inning. Quantrill's given up the lead with a single, a walk, and a run-scoring double to Manny Ramirez. Men on second and third, one out, it's obvious Quantrill isn't going to face David Ortiz. Instead of bringing the new pitcher in, Torre has Quantrill intentionally walk the bases loaded, for CJ (Suck So Bad I Ain't Got A Cool Nickname) Nitkowski to face Doug Spelling Error.

During the intentional walk, someone in the booth mentions (need I say, paraphrases again), "Now, some people would have the new pitcher issue this walk..."

That thought never gets finished, because Kay instantly jumps in "That's a horrible idea, you're bringing in a new guy, you want him to throw strikes. Here he's throwing balls, and not even throwing at full strength..."

I kept waiting for whoever started this colloquy to challenge Kay, but it never happened. Not after Francona pinch hit Varitek for Mientkiewicz, not after 'Tek scorched a ground rule double off of Nitkowski.

You see, the reason "some people" bring in the new pitcher to issue the intentional walk is because the pitcher must face at least one batter when brought into the game. When using a hapless lefty like Nitkowski, you need to control who the guy is going to face. If he walks Ortiz, he doesn't have to pitch to Varitek -- a guy that hits 200 points of OPS higher against lefties than righties.

Now, maybe Kay had something when claiming that it's not fair for a new pitcher to have to throw four wide ones. But seriously -- no one saw that pinch hitter coming? It was only a one run game at that point. By the time Nitkowski was done, the bases were loaded and the Yankees were down by three.


Want a comforting thought? Right now, Tanyon Sturtze is the third-best reliever on the team. Yes, that Tanyon Sturtze. It's not like he's on a particularly hot streak -- his ERA is over 5.00 in the month of September. He's just better than the alternatives.

Why didn't we bring up Colter Bean again? On that same note, why did Andy Phillips have to wait for Sunday to get his first major league at bat? Sure made the best of it, though.


From an old favorite, the Score Bard's Random Diamond Notes Generator:

Anaheim may move Brendan Donnelly as soon as the right offer comes in, but GM Bill Stoneman is not going to move Bobby Jenks unless he can get a good prospect for catcher, and that's as unlikely as seeing seven caribous wandering into a Bakersfield, California karaoke bar and singing Immature by Bjork, because you know they really prefer to sing rap, just like Athletics phenom Rich Harden.

No comments: