Hello from the snow-covered DC suburbs! I’ve been digging my way out from under the approximately 34 inches of snow that fell in my area in less than a week. That, of course, is in addition to the 31 or so inches of snow that has fallen here since the weekend before Christmas.The “official” total amount of snow for DC so far this winter season is about 55 inches, which, according to a local TV station’s web site, is more snow than has fallen in Chicago (45.1″), Detroit (27.5″), Minneapolis (38.1″), Boston (30.1″), and Fargo (46.0″). Hell, yes, I’m ready for the start of baseball season!
FYI, I will now be focusing primarily on the Nationals in this blog,
rather than splitting my attention between the Nats and the Yankees.
Let’s face it, there are plenty of Yankees blogs — probably even more
now than there were when the 2009 season ended, thanks to the Yankees’
latest World Series triumph — so the disappearance of the Yankees
portion of this blog won’t exactly be a major loss to the Yankees
blogosphere. I do, however, reserve the right to throw in an occasional
comment (or rant) about the Yankees from time to time, since they
remain my second favorite team.
With that said…Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Viera, FL next Friday, the 19th. Nationals position players report on the 24th, and the first full-squad workout is on the 26th. Split-squad games will take place on March 4th, and the Nationals’ home opener at Space Coast Stadium will be March 6th against the Mets.
There have been quite a few changes for the Nationals since the 2009 season ended…some goodbyes and hellos for 2010. Goodbye to Austin Kearns, Saul Rivera, Ron Villone, and Dmitri Young, among others. Hello to Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Adam Kennedy, Jason Marquis, and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, among others. Yes, the Nats were in the running for Orlando Hudson, and apparently are very much in the running for Chen Ming Wang. We’ll see how the negotiations for CMW go. In addition to personnel changes, the front office has undergone quite a few changes as well, all designed to change the Washington Nationals from the laughingstock of MLB to actual winners. Time will tell if the changes are successful.
For now…the start of spring training is just a week away…opening day for the Nats is in 53 days…and hope springs eternal!
On November 6th, an article by Jeff Passan was posted at Yahoo Sports, claiming that the Yankees had bought their World Series title, and that baseball fans should just get used to it. I’ve already discussed that claim here in this blog, so there’s no need to go over it again.
On Wednesday, Passan posted and responded to some of the letters he received in response to that article. One of those letters stated, “The Yankees play within the same rules as everyone else, so blame the system and not the Yankees.” Passan’s reply to this statement was both interesting and confusing:
Never mind the salience of the points – that money does matter, and that the Yankees are in a great position because of theirs, and that the fact they do spend it makes them better than, say, the Marlins, who trim payroll and pocket revenue-sharing money.
He’s right about the fact that the Yankees’ money gives them a huge advantage over low revenue teams. But it’s the last part of his response that has me scratching my head in bewilderment. Let me get this straight…is Passan claiming that the Yankees are to blame because the owner of the Marlins (or the Pirates, Royals, etc.) may just be too cheap to put the revenue-sharing money they receive back into their teams? The fact that some owners of the lowest payroll teams “trim payroll and pocket revenue-sharing money” is the Yankees’ fault? Really? It’s the Yankees’ fault that baseball’s system of revenue sharing does not require revenue sharing recipients to put the money back into their teams??
Wow…who knew that the Yankees are to blame for all the cheapskate owners in Major League Baseball! I wonder if Passan also blames the Yankees for the poor economy, the health care crisis, and global warming.
Stop crying, Mr. Passan.
The problem is THE REVENUE SHARING SYSTEM itself, not the Yankees. The problem is that the owners of teams receiving revenue sharing moneys are, in fact, able to pocket that money and are not required to put it back into their teams to improve them.
It’s been quite a month for Derek Jeter and Mark Teixiera. First, they and the rest of their Yankees teammates won the World Series…they’ll be getting some sparkly rings covered with lots of diamonds.
And then Derek and Mark both won Gold Glove awards — Derek’s 4th Gold Glove and Mark’s 3rd Gold Glove.
And then Derek and Mark both won Silver Slugger awards — Derek’s 4th Silver Slugger and Mark’s 3rd Silver Slugger.
Congrats to Derek and Mark, for winning those shiny awards!
Well, the World Series is over, and the New York Yankees are once again the champions. New York celebrated with a parade yesterday and the presentation of the key to the city.
Congratulations to the Yankees…you were the best team in baseball this year, and you truly deserve this.
Anyone who has bothered to read about me, or who has read some of the first few posts in this blog, knows that I became a Yankees fan — actually a baseball fan — because of former Orioles and Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. In the last paragraph of this post, I stated that I knew the Yankees would win because had Mussina retired one year too soon. I was right.
I’ve been thinking about Mussina through the entire postseason, as well as through much of the latter half of the regular season. Earlier in the season, when the Yankees were 0-8 vs. Boston and lost 2 out of 3 games to the 19-46 Nationals, including their only shutout at Yankee Stadium, I admit that I had a few doubts about how this season might turn out! But then I reminded myself that Moose had retired, which meant that the Yankees would, in fact, pull it out and somehow and win it all. I’m pleased that the Yankees won. I didn’t particularly want the Phillies to beat them, nor did I want the Phillies to win the World Series two years in a row regardless of who their opponent was. I’m happy for the “old guys” — Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — for getting ring #5. I’m happy for Alex Rodriguez, because even though I can’t stand the little fart, he managed to shut out all the distractions and all the crap (self-inflicted, of course), and he just played the game…quite well, in fact. (If he could just learn to simply play ball and keep his mouth shut, he’d be far less insufferable.) And I’m especially happy for Hideki Matsui, who has dealt with his share if injury issues in recent years. His knees may be shot, but his bat was more than enough in Game 6, and his MVP Award is well-deserved. If this turns out to be his final performance for the Yankees, it was one hell of a way to make an exit.
I can’t help but feel some pangs of sadness, disappointment, and even some anger over this win…a year too late…actually, eight years too late. The Yankees should have won #27 eight years ago Wednesday night…that horse was long since been bludgeoned to death on my message board, so I don’t really want go there in depth again. In all honesty, those feelings do temper my happiness about Wednesday night’s win. I can’t help it, I won’t make excuses for it, and I won’t apologize for it…that’s just the way it is.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Mussina remains happy and at peace with his decision to retire. But I also remember his comments on WFAN back in February, when he mentioned his disappointment at never having gotten a World Series ring. This just seems to be his lot, considering how many “almosts” he’s had in his career. I’m sure Mike is happy for his former teammates, but I can’t help wondering if he’s feeling a bit of disappointment that #27 came a year too late for him. I know I’m certainly disappointed. I’m sure that it bothers me far more than it bothers him. But I do wonder what he might have been thinking the other night after the Yankees won Game 6. I was thinking, Just his luck…he got there a year too late and left a year too early…….
What can I say…I’m definitely NOT a typical Yankees fan! LOL
A Yankees fan friend of mine said something the other day about TV commentators that absolutely cracked me up. I’m curious to know if anyone else agrees with her opinion.
My friend was talking about a discussion between John Kruk and Bobby Valentine on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, in which they were making their predictions on who would win the World Series. Kruk said the Phillies would win, while Valentine predicted that the Yankees would win. My friend then stated that ESPN should not allow Kruk to comment on the World Series because “he played for one of the teams in contention.” She said that it is a “conflict of interests.”
Huh? Players who used to play for teams currently involved in the World Series should not be allowed to comment on the series? Seriously? If that’s the case, then ESPN should also not alow Orestes Destrade, Buck Showalter, and Dave Winfield (all former Yankees) to comment on the World Series this year. And MLB Network should not allow former Yankees Al Leiter and Tony Clark, and former Phillies Dan Plesac and Mitch Williams to comment on the World Series either. After all, there might be a “conflict of interests” for those guys too. Oh, and while we’re trying to prevent a so-called conflict of interests, ESPN should prohibit former Yankees beat writer Buster Olney and former Phillies beat writer and Jayson Stark from commenting on this World Series as well. Similarly, MLB Network shouldn’t allow Jon Heyman (former Yankees beat writer), Matt Yallof (who used to work at Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia), and Tom Verducci (co-author of The Yankee Years) to comment on the World Series.
I suppose MLB Network’s Jim Kaat would get a pass and be allowed to comment on this season’s World Series, since he played for both the Yankees and the Phillies. Ditto for Fox’s Tim McCarver. He played for the Phillies and was a Phillies broadcaster, but I’ve been told that he used to be a Yankees broadcaster too. So I guess Fox should continue to allow him to do commentary for the World Series. Or maybe they should both be banned from 2009 World Series commentary, just like the other gentlemen I mentioned above?
What do you think? Should former players be prohibited by national networks (i.e., ESPN, Fox and/or MLB Network) from commenting on the World Series if their former team is currently playing in it? Do you think it’s a conflict of interests if these players offer their thoughts about the World Series? Or…do you think that some fans should stop being paranoid just and let these guys just do their jobs?
And Alex Rodriguez’s hit was definitely a home run. Considering what a crappy job the umpires have been doing in the postseason, I’m surprised that they got this call right.
Anyway…it’s been an entertaining series so far. The story of the series so far, IMO, has been the pitching. The battle of the former Indians in Game 1 was a beauty. CC Sabathia pitched well; Cliff Lee, however, was brilliant. And his behind-the-back catch in the 8th inning was incredible! Game 2 was a bit of a surprise…I definitely didn’t expect A.J. Burnett to outpitch Pedro Martinez. I can’t stand Pedro. He’s an arrogant, obnoxious a-hole. (He’s also a coward who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to grab the head of a man who is more than twice his age and throw him to the ground…but I digress….) I must admit, however, that Pedro’s resurgence has been quite amazing, considering that his right arm seemed like it was going to fall off just a few years ago. The Yankees may have been Pedro’s daddy in 2004, but I didn’t think that would be the case again. And it wasn’t at first…after all, Pedro did shut up the “who’s your daddy” chants early in the game, and he did strike out 8 Yankees. But Burnett pitched a gem. Tonight’s game has been a good one so far, with the Phillies taking the initial lead and then the Yankees going ahead. Jayson Werth just hit his second home run of the night. Exciting stuff!
Many years ago, I read some comments about New York sports fans compared to Philadelphia sports fans in (I believe) Sports Illustrated. I don’t recall the context of the article itself, just the following comparison of New York and Philadelphia sports fans: New York sports fans will boo anything, including funerals. Philadelphia sports fans don’t boo funerals…they cheer them.
This should be quite an interesting series.
Oh, by the way:
I mentioned here that I’m already hearing comments about the Yankees “buying” (or, at least, trying to “buy”) a World Series title. And if you look at it objectively, just from the point of view of total payroll and revenues, then you should be able to understand why some people feel that way. Of course, understanding is not the same thing as agreeing. The reality is that it takes more than just money to win the World Series. Yes, a high payroll team like the Yankees can afford to sign the Sabathias and the Teixeiras. But that doesn’t mean that those expensive players will be the right pieces to the puzzle. Randy Johnson had a much lower postseason ERA when he signed with the Yankees than CC Sabathia did when he came to New York, but so far this postseason, CC has performed far better than the Big Unit did in his postseason starts in pinstripes. An expensive puzzle is just junk if the pieces don’t fit together, but
an inexpensive puzzle can be a work of art when all of the pieces fit
I’ve been thinking about this a bit more, and I’ve done a bit of research. Take a look at the World Series winners since the Yankees last won, and their total payrolls for those years*:
2001 Diamondbacks – 8th highest payroll
2002 Angels – 15th highest payroll
2003 Marlins – 6th lowest payroll (only the Indians, Padres, Brewers, Royals, and Rays had a lower payroll)**
2005 White Sox – 13th highest payroll
2006 Cardinals – 11th highest payroll
2008 Phillies – 12th highest payroll
Look at that list…only one of those teams was in the top ten for highest payrolls in the year that they won the World Series. By contrast, the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox had the 2nd highest payrolls behind the Yankees.
The Yankees have had MLB’s highest payroll every season except one since their mid-90’s “dynasty” began in 1996. The only season they didn’t have the highest payroll was, ironically, in 1998 when they had one of their best seasons ever. (The Baltimore Orioles had MLB’s highest payroll in 1998…and finished 4th in the AL East, 35 games out of first place.)
What does this prove? Money (i.e., one of the top payrolls in MLB) can help a team to sign the players it may need to be successful, but it doesn’t necessarily help to “buy” a World Series title. Winning takes more than money…that’s a fact that the Yankees have certainly proven for the last 8 years. It takes:
- good players (some of whom do make the most money, and some of whom do not)
- team chemistry (some people roll their eyes at that…I think those people are fools)
- and often, a little bit of luck
By the way, it should be noted that the 1997 Florida Marlins — whom many people (including me) have used as an example of a team that “bought” its World Series title — had the 7th highest total payroll in 1997. The Marlins did bring in a lot of players from outside the organization (free agency, trades, whatever) for the sole purpose of winning a World Series, and then gutted the team over the next two seasons because they could no longer afford to keep their best players. But even they did not have the highest payroll in baseball that season…nor were they even ranked in the top 5 as far as total team payrolls were concerned in 1997.
Does having lots of revenue and a high payroll help a team to be successful? It can. Does it guarantee that a team will win this:
Nope. There are no guarantees. Even a commanding lead in a LCS doesn’t guarantee that a team will get to the World Series, much less win it. Just ask the 2004 Yankees.
* Source: USA Today Baseball Salaries Database
** Note: one other source — baseballchronolgy.com — ranked the 2003 Marlins as having the 5th lowest payroll; the Indians were ranked higher.