Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Post-Its

Yesterday was the WTDB's second anniversary. I (cad that I am) celebrated by not posting anything.

The problem is, I've been trying to put 2005 into perspective, and it just wasn't working for me. I just couldn't decide on a perspective. The Yanks? There isn't a larger theme to their 2005, really, just a combination of the themes we've run into in the past--team getting older; my, isn't that expensive; another year that most fans would envy, but not us. There's nothing really to say here. A personal perspective? I have much to be thankful for in 2005--nuptials to La Chiquita foremost among them--but that's a snoozefest, even for an audience as small and hard-core as mine. A blogger's perspective? Double the snooze, and raise the nausea of above. I put out the suggestions box a couple weeks back on how to improve this space; anyone with ideas feel free to leave a comment back there. I know that I have to turn out more content (the 159 entries I posted in 2005 won't do, even supplemented with 37 pieces at BP) and regularize the writing schedule. But that's just navel-gazing.

As pointed out by Jeff Angus, the year-end/beginning article is somewhat lazy and frequently passe. So aside from the little bits above, I'm not doing it. On to some good old-fashioned notes.

One of the 20 or so posts that I started writing last year, but did not finish, was about the World Baseball Classic. Basically, it was born out of a defense of Alex Rodriguez's decision to play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC, a decision that Rodriguez was catching some heat for.

Alex killed that piece by deciding to duck out of the WBC completely last month, now, he's put the tournament back on my radar by supposedly agreeing to participate as part of team USA.

The decision itself isn't that interesting--rosters aren't set on these games, so there's not much fun to be had handicapping the squads, yet. However, Rodriguez has set another PR (public relations, not Puerto Rico) low mark, because by declaring he was playing for the Dominican squad, then saying he was undecided, then saying again that he was playing for the Dominican Republic, then saying he was out, and now saying he's in and playing for ol' USA, he seems like a waffling, weak-willed, unpatriotic (I just couldn't continue the alliteration, there) Hamlet-wannabe.

It was a tough decision to screw up, but A-Rod managed to do so. I'd initially admired Alex's decision to play for team D.R. because 1) as a fellow Dominican-American, I can relate to what he was thinking, and 2) it was one of the few times in his career that Rodriguez was set to do something that wasn't the "easy" thing to do. It was a gutsy call, one likely to be both unpopular with many fans and unprofitable (financially, at least). It looked like a principled position, even if you didn't agree with A-Rod's principles.

Unless you're one of the people who has volunteered to put yourself in harm's way to protect this country, it's pretty easy to drape yourself in the flag and declare yourself a patriot. It's much harder to explain that it's not disloyal to the U.S. to honor your heritage by playing for another country in a baseball tournament. It's not like Rodriguez is a necessary cog to put team USA over the top in this competition: at third base team USA still had David Wright, Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus, Morgan Ensberg and possibly Eric Chavez to choose from; at shorstop, Derek Jeter, Michael Young, and Jimmy Rollins.

But even if A-Rod wants to wrap himself in the flag now, it's an empty gesture--everyone will remember that playing for the Dominican Republic was his first choice, and now it looks like he's only playing for the U.S. because Bud Selig ordered him to, or because he wants to appease the crowd. In other words, he's left himself in a position where he can't possibly please anyone.

I know I've said this before, but I keep on trying to figure out what player in baseball history has been as good as Alex Rodriguez, while not being in any way graceful. Bonds is a horror with the media, but he's got panache in his game. Ripken's game was just as unadorned as Rodriguez's but he was nowhere near as good, and he had that Iron Man strong silent type thing going for him. Do we have to go back to Rogers Hornsby? Does anyone who was familiar with Hank Aaron as a player want to weigh in on this?


The Mets have acquired Brett Boone
. I suppose that's because golf course workers in New York don't receive enough abuse, or perhaps because when you have Kaz Matsui on the roster, anyone looks good.


Speaking of Mets, while Brother Joe was in NYC for the holidays, we had a chance to discuss the Pinstripers a bit. The one player he was surprised the Yanks weren't pursuing? Mike Piazza. If you think about it a bit, Piazza fits: the Yanks could use a righthanded bopper/DH/insurance against something happening to Jorge Posada. Plus it has all the earmarks of a George Steinbrenner move, tweaking the Mets fans while making the club stronger.

The question is, is Piazza ready for a part-time role? Is he priced out of the Yanks' budget (don't laugh)? I say that if Piazza is still unsigned in a couple of weeks, we might hear rumblings.


Ryan said...

I'd rather the Yankees go after Durazo.

DJ said...

Good call, Ryan.

I've always liked Durazo, but he and the Yanks aren't a terrific fit. Although Erubiel does have a good bat, he wasn't a good alternative in the field prior to elbow surgery, and it's unlikely that surgery will improve his defense or make him less frail. Since Durazo's a lefty hitter, he won't improve the club's vulnerability to lefty pitching.

Since Durazo only helps the club in one dimension (albeit important one) of the game, I guess I'd still rather have a righthanded masher with some defensive value. As this team gets older, you're going to need some flexibility with that DH slot.

Ryan said...

All valid points. Since the Pirates have now made Craig Wilson redundant with the signing of Burnitz, I would be happy to see the Yanks make a play for him and he seems to fit all of your criteria.