Last week, Yahoo! Sports writer (and guy I follow on Twitter) Jeff Passan wrote an article on the Yankees offseason pitching acquisitions Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda and the perceived negative odds they faced coming to New York. You see, Passan would like to let us know that, more or less, pitchers generally don't do as well when they come to play for the Yankees.
No other team imports big-talent pitchers with such regularity, with such high hopes, with all of the complications that accompany wearing pinstripes. The failure of outsiders has taken on a mythical status in New York and become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you’re not a Yankee, it’s awfully difficult to come in mid-career and play to their standards.
It's a belief that's going to live on forever. Going back to the days of Ed Whitson (who was the original poster boy for "not being able to handle the spotlight in pinstripes"), fans and sportswriters alike will point the finger to the Yankees free agent and trade failures, just the same as they fall into the trap of "money buys championships". It's an easy target - few teams in sports are as polarizing as the New York Yankees, and pointing out the failures of such a team is bound to sell newspapers, draw website hits, and build off of the natural schadenfreude flowing through any non-Yankee fan.
But is it real?
I haven't been posting much because I got sucked into a giant post that I'll get into later, maybe finished, maybe not. Anyway, the big news last night/this morning is Ryan Braun's successful appeal of his 50-game drug suspension, a first in Major League Baseball. MLB is pissed, understandably so, because Braun's appeal was successful not because he "proved he was innocent", but because protocol hadn't been followed. Now everyone who had convicted Braun is frustrated because Braun "got off on a technicality", and he's still being convicted in the court of public opinion. People are questioning why Braun wouldn't just fight the appeal to prove that the test was wrong; after all, if he's innocent, wouldn't it come out in the end?
Of course not, and if you did that in a similar scenario, you'd be a fool.
I grew up on Long Island, brainwashed early by my mom to be a Yankees fan. As even a little kid, I knew baseball - so much to the point that I can remember my uncle showing me off to friends of his and how I could carry on conversations with them about player movement, team strengths and weaknesses, and overall "bar banter". I can remember an adult asking me what I thought of Reggie Jackson getting traded to the Angels. I corrected him, telling him that Reggie wasn't traded but that he left as a free agent.
Jackson signed with the California Angels in January of 1982. I turned seven the month prior.
Through the 80s, I went though the highs and lows of the Steinbrenner-helmed, Billy Martin-firing machine, always seemingly being one player away
OK - pitchers and catchers have started reporting (at least for the Mariners, who are weird and started a week early), and soon enough it'll be Spring Training in full bloom, with all the stretching and jogging and drills and split-squadding and wacky green jerseys on St. Patrick's Day and all that. Generally, Spring Training isn't that dramatic or interesting - for most teams, almost all of the 25 major league roster slots are full, so it's just a check to make sure that a team's players aren't suddenly 100 pounds heavier, can still play their position, try out a new position, and figure out which guys who are out of options are going to end up taking those last two or three slots on the major league roster, and which ones will end up hitting waivers and potentially end up with another organization. The games aren't all that interesting, with the major players only playing a few innings, pitchers working a specific inning limit or pitch count, so no one's really playing to win or lose, really - it's just a giant scouting exhibition. So why not try something a little different?
Continuing our multi-part series on players who were eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot this year but were left completely off, today we examine three players who all made All-Star teams during their careers, but didn't put together enough of a career to justify their inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot.
I let this drop off due to... well, lack of interest, pressure to do a HoF post for the guys who actually were on the ballot, and stuff like that. Oddly, the ones that I've done before this (for Edgardo Alfonzo, and a two-for-one for Scott Erickson & Rick Helling) keep getting hits - I think mainly because Erickson managed to score Lisa Guerrero and I get Google image search hits from that. But hey - hits are hits.
So on we roll...
When the baseball world learned that Victor Martinez would (likely) miss all of 2012 with a torn ACL, fans and experts alike wondered how the Tigers would replace him. At the same time, those same people were wondering where Prince Fielder (who was still on the market and seeing his big payday options disappearing) would end up. Prince's best options seemed to be the Washington Nationals (willing to spend the money and had the need), the Texas Rangers (less cash, but offered up a team with back-to-back pennants), and the Baltimore Orioles (professional baseball team). When I retweeted Aaron Gleeman's post on HardballTalk about V-Mart's injury, my favorite Tigers mark @phenom1984 responded with this:
It was an interesting thought - something you do in a video game like OOTP and not in real life, because players want guaranteed money and an extended payday - especially Scott Boras clients - so the thought of signing Fielder to a one-year deal was unlikely. Plus, on the flipside of that, paying $40 million for one season of baseball would be - by far - the largest salary for one season of professional baseball in history, a little less than $12 million more than Roger Clemens' "play when you like" contract he signed with the Yankees in 2007.
After the shocking (to me, at least) revelation that my wife wanted to see "Moneyball", I picked it up from Redbox and planned an evening viewing with the Mrs. The movie intrigued the hell out of me - having read the book, I knew that it read pretty much like a economics textbook (albeit an entertaining one, as author Michael Lewis has a way of doing that with very boring topics), but Brad Pitt got behind it, Aaron Sorkin (*swoon*) had a hand in writing it, and damn it - the critics actually liked the thing. Next you'll tell me there's actually a critically-acclaimed movie about pro wrestling.
So my wife didn't make it through the thing (she doesn't stay awake through too many movies in general, and "Moneyball" was over two hours), but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really well done to stay decently close to the book while still make a marketable and accessible film. The characters were likable, and while I wasn't crazy to see Paul DePodesta turned into "composite character" Peter Brand, I understand how doing something like that made the film easier to make more entertaining. In reality, DePodesta isn't nearly as "geeky" or awkward as Brand is, but Jonah Hill's portrayal of Brand loosened up a movie that could have easily gotten too dry. In terms of whether or not a non-baseball fan could enjoy it, I think just as long as you don't hate baseball you can watch without much of an issue.
THAT SAID, my nitpicks (and things you might be wondering about):