October 22, 2007

How Many Yankee Executives Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?

So it's the end of the Joe Torre Era and, essentially, the end of the George Steinbrenner Era... and the new Yankee brain trust just took 10 days to massively botch their first major decision. Not a good sign, people.

I should've jumped into this fray earlier, because by now you're sick of reading about it, but in short: I can understand the desire to bring in a new manager; my only real issue with it, sentimentality aside, is that I'm not sure there's a better candidate than Joe Torre available right now. But like most Yankee fans, I think, I'll hear you out if you want to argue that it's time for a change. The way they went about it, however, could hardly have been more inept -- "they" here referring to a vague oligarchy that includes the two Steinbrenner sons, one son-in-law, Brian Cashman, COO Lonn Trost (great name), and last but not least Randy Levine, who managed the tricky feat of going from virtually unknown among average Yankee fans to universally despised in the span of just 48 hours.

The only bright thing to come out of this mess is that it led to a flock of reporters racing around Tampa in search of the Yankee meetings, and then settling in for a completely fruitless stakeout, which led to a number of amusing articles and an absolutely classic hour-by-hour live blog on NJ.com:

2 p.m.: Meetings and smoke breaks

The meetings continue. Every 40 to 60 minutes, Hank Steinbrenner (the older son and the one more involved in baseball decisions) takes a smoke break on the concrete open-air stairwell outside George Steinbrenner's office on the south end of the fourth floor of Legends Field.

For his last break, at about 1:40 p.m., Hank was accompanied by brother-in-law Felix Lopez.

3 p.m.: Grounds gets attention

As the meeting continue (as far as I can tell) in the Legends Field offices, a grounds crew attends to the half-field just outside the stadium.

The field is used for pickoff drills, pitchers' fielding practice and perhaps bunt work. So there seems no way it will be used until mid-February. But the workers are cutting the grass and watering the dirt as if a game will be played there tonight.

4 p.m.: Meetings may be over

There is some activity here that leads one to believe the meeting is breaking up soon...

Sports writing is a glamorous business, and never let anyone tell you different! Anyway, live updates aside, the situation was a total mess, leaving Torre and the fans ticked off and the Yankee ownership-by-committee looking self-serving, indecisive, two-faced, and scared.

As usual, it's not the underhanded shenanigans that bother me, but their clumsiness in executing same -- I enjoy a good Machiavellian power play as much as anyone, it just pisses me off when people don't take the time to disguise it intelligently. Randy Levine: "We were all stunned and remain stunned that he turned the deal down." Literally, and I am not making this up, my superintendent's 12-year-old grandson immediately knew that this was bullshit. Now granted he's a bright kid, but come on -- if you can't lie any better than that, how the hell did you ever manage to climb the corporate ladder in the first place?

I can already feel the nostalgia coming on, yet I've never been a George Steinbrenner fan -- the yelling and irrational firings, the compulsive trades, the illegal contributions to the Nixon campaign... he put money into the team and he wanted to win as badly as any fan, and I admire that, but didn't like a lot of what came with it. Still, he was his own guy: he did what he wanted, and he didn't give a rat's ass if anyone else liked it, which they usually didn't. I don't want to romanticize him too much, because he's hardly a hero, but at least his particular brand of sinister wasn't bland or sneaky or bureaucratic. These new guys will slowly bleed you dry with a thousand tiny paper cuts; Steinbrenner ripped out your spine with his bare hands and beat you to death with it. In retrospect, I have to respect that.

I'll have more soon on Sox/Rox. And by the way, has anyone heard from the Mets recently? It's awfully quiet over there.... think we should we send someone over to check on them?

October 16, 2007

You Heard It Here First...

...every member of the Colorado Rockies is on steroids. That's right, I'm calling it. Just brace yourself now, so you won't be disappointed when the Mitchell Report comes out.

Colorado semi-won me over in this series, if only because their fanbase seemed so much more committed than Arizona's (if you can't sell out a ballpark during the playoffs, you really don't deserve to win). They've been really fun to watch on the field, though personality-wise, I still don't have a very good grip on the team. Question: is it possible to still qualify as an underdog when you've won 21 of your last 22 games?

And: kudos to the Coors Field fan with the "SNAKES ON A PLANE" sign. Nicely done.

I'll give TBS credit, because their analysis really improved as the playoffs went on -- Ernie Johnson eventually got Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn to loosen up a bit, and they added Ron Darling, who as you probably know if you've been reading this site for any length of time, I love. (SNY's broadcast trio is great in general, but Darling is the glue that holds Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez together, and prevents either of them from getting too schticky).

That said, it's thanks to TBS that in the last month I've gained a roiling hatred for three people of whose existence, until a few weeks ago, I was only vaguely aware: Chip Caray, that guy Frank in the Frank TV ads, and Dane Cook. It's a blessing the Rockies swept (and you know they think so too!).

I'll leave you for the moment with a hilarious Dan Cook quote, apologizing in advance lest you laugh too hard and possibly injure yourself or disturb your coworkers:
I went over to the mall, I had to park nearby in a...in the parking structure. You know when you park you the parking structure you...you go on up and it's like 40 stories and you always to park up on the fuckin' roof. What do they pave that with, what is that, not concrete. Whatever that's paved with you could be driving five miles an hour it sounds like your in a chase scene from Chips like errrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhh! I'm backing up! Errrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhh! What the fuck is that!
Amen, brother.

October 11, 2007

By Golly!

Well, I'm back from my extremely brief Newsday hiatus -- thanks, Yankees! FIRE EVERYONE* -- and I need some help. Am I supposed to root for the Diamondbacks or the Rockies now?

I'm still holding a grudge against Arizona from '01, but there's not really anyone left now from that team, except the resentful ghost of The Big Unit. And I like Orlando Hudson, but he's injured. At the same time, the Rockies creep me out a bit with their super-Christianity (though I have to say, they've done a good job of keeping it publicly low-key this season). Todd Helton, after they won the Division Series, was interviewed on the field and actually said: "By golly, we did it." By golly!

Meanwhile, Arizona fans may not have actually sold out their playoff game, but they have mastered the art of throwing so much dangerous trash onto the field to protest an interference call that play has to be delayed. I'm not going to get on my high horse here, because New York fans have certainly been known to toss the odd object onto the diamond... I was at Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS at Yankee Stadium, and they ended up calling out the riot police for that one; Shea fans famously came close to taking out Pete Rose with a hurled whiskey bottle in '73. And it's a minor miracle that John Rocker ever made it out of that bullpen alive.

Anyway, there are dozens of choices for the Mets and Yanks to make over the next few weeks, so there'll be a lot to talk about. I once again feel compelled to say that while I realize Bobby Valentine as the next Yankees manager would be a disaster... god, what a gift it would be for bloggers. On a personal level I'd like to see Joe Torre back; intellectually I think it may be time for a change for the sake of change; professionally, I've got my fingers crossed for the current manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines. I've become fairly obsessed with his blog and more determined than ever to procure a Bobby V brand Worldwide Ballers jersey.

Coming up tomorrow (or maybe Saturday): my incomplete list of the Best Joe Torre-isms.

*Kidding. Mostly.

October 02, 2007

When October Goes

Hey everybody -- just want to let you know that I've got a blog up at Newsday.com today, Spanning the Playoffs (I know, I know). I'll be writing there about the Yankees, for however long they're in this thing; so please stop by, laugh at my hair in that photo, and comment if you feel moved to do so.

In the meantime, I'll try to keep writing here about the Mets and other baseball news once in a while. (And I've got an article in this week's New York Press about their last stand).

Everything but Yankees-Indians gets underway tonight. On... TBS. This should be interesting.

October 01, 2007

Things Fall Apart

Sorry for the delay in getting around to Sunday's cataclysm at Shea. I was writing about it for tomorrow's New York Press, and I needed to sort out my thoughts for that first. When the game ended I was actually at a loss for words -- longtime readers will know this is not common -- and while that didn't last long, it's still hard to make sense of the whole mess: there were 20 different quite practical reasons for it, and yet on some level it really defied logical explanation. Yes, it was the pitching, first and foremost, and there was a lack of hustle at times, and a number of key hitters underperformed... all of that is true. But, man: the baseball gods were angry.

I also think this bumps the Mets fanbase up from sort of middle-of-the-road suffering to seriously put-upon. Seeing all those heartbroken kids at Shea was just wrenching... I mean, the Yankees sucked when I was growing up, but they never did anything like that to me.

It's amazing (har!) that one terrible game could totally wipe out all the good things Tom Glavine did for the Mets in his time in New York, but that's what just happened. I have to assume he'll be back pitching next year -- because how do you leave a 20-year Hall of Fame career like that? But not with the Mets, he won't be. I hate to say it, but he really hurt himself with his calm, composed postgame comments; what he said was fair, but if the fans were ever going to even think about forgiving him they needed to see some real emotion there. Meanwhile, ESPN has a rumor (Insider only) suggesting Glavine might sign with the Nationals next season, which, god, would just be depressing on every conceivable level.

I have to say, while Mets fans have the right to be just as freaked out, crazed and irrational as they need to be right now, the maelstrom of blame is getting out of hand. There are many very legitimate complaints to be made about Minaya, Randolph, Reyes, Glavine, El Duque's bunion et al, but does anyone really believe that the Mets collapsed because Reyes was out on the town too late with Luis Castillo? Come on now.

Meanwhile Scott Schoeneweis of all people has been accused of ordering steroids three years ago -- altogether now Mets fans: "why did he stop?!" -- though he denies it; and Billy Wagner complained to New York Magazine about Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson's bullpen management, though he has since apologized and claims that his remarks out of context. Good times. (By the way, that NY Mag article is generally well-written and I don't mean to nit-pick -- okay, fine, yes I do -- but how do you refer to Ian Kennedy as "fireballing"?).

Omar Minaya was on Mike and the Mad Dog this afternoon-- they were pretty hard on him, but fair for the most part. Minaya didn't say anything especially shocking (except that, it sounds like, he really was considering firing Randolph for a little while there); he was careful to be politic, but he also owned up to some of the team's problems. MetsBlog has a good recap of what was said. Anyway, it was an extremely interesting and emotional interview; then Bud Selig came on the show and I... he talked a lot about... it was... zzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzz...

Yes, leave it to the Commish to valiantly step in and soothe the pain of agonized Mets fans by lulling them into a gentle, healing sleep. Anyway, two words for the Mets front office this winter: Johan Santana. Give the Twins whatever the hell they want, and do it with a smile.