Pitchers and catchers are due to report in just weeks, not months, so before we know it, the New York Yankees 2015 season will be upon us. And it’ll feature these guys, who are… uhm… I dunno. Let’s dig in. Read the rest of this entry
Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for what is effectively a year; 162 games and the 2014 playoffs. Both myself and anyone even remotely interested has written about this ad nauseum, so I’ll just assume you’re up to date on the drama and info (or rather, the lack of info) and are sick of the topic from that standpoint. But, no matter how tired we are of this situation, it still matters. Here are two reasons why A-Rod’s suspension is important to Yankee fans:
At some point, all of the noise surrounding the latest Alex Rodriguez scandal became more interesting to me than the actual scandal. This may be due to the fact that I haven’t seen any of MLB’s evidence yet and they don’t have a failed drug test, but whatever. The point is, the colors of the debate are more interesting than the debate itself – and just as ridiculous as A-Rod himself.
To be clear, we know A-Rod did steroids – he finally admitted as much in 2009. Not that he had any choice but to come clean, but we did hear it from his mouth. He did it. We know it. And I’m sure he has been using Human Growth Hormone, testosterone and who the hell knows what else all this time around. You get that? I think it’s all true. I’m not a gambling man, but I’d bet money on it. And yeah, we know A-Rod was not been honest about it. He lied in interviews that were specifically about this topic. So we know who A-Rod is. That much is clear.
But the debate surrounding this circus is populated by false white knights who sit on their proverbial high horses and cast A-Rod as not just the leper, but as the embodiment of evil. They’ve made him the face of all that is wrong with baseball, and even though A-Rod has done it to himself time and time again, he doesn’t deserve what is being dumped on him. That being:
The narrative: A-Rod is ruining baseball because he’s a cheater and is the worst person ever.
This sure did move the Ryan Braun story to the back burner, huh?
Nobody has been more disingenuous than this mutt. Maybe it’s his mammoth insecurity complex. Maybe it’s his enormous capacity for self-delusion. Maybe it’s daddy issues for a man who was raised by a single mother.
Extreme, no? Since 2009, there must have been at least 100 articles like this. At least. You might think this is an extreme example, but it’s not. I think it’s clear, A-Rod is a pathological liar and a cheater (in a game that’s ripe with cheaters – that is, if you consider using PEDs cheating, and I think it’s a far cry from the 1951 New York Giants stealing signs with a telescope). And, I feel I would be remiss to not bring up an old saying: "If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying." A-Rod did not make that up.
The case that PEDs ruins the records
I’ve always disagreed with this idea because every era of baseball is so different. For example:
- The ballparks used to be much larger – Babe Ruth hit homers of 450 to 500 feet with regularity – new parks max out right around 400 feet. It’s a big difference.
- The pitcher’s mound used to be six inches higher – surely that has fundamentally changed the delivery angle of the baseball? Yet I never hear ANYONE talk about this. Also, several pitchs, like the spitter and the shiner, have been outlawed.
- There haven’t always been night games and intercontinental travel. Every time the Blue Jays go to and get home from a road trip, they have to go through customs.
- Babe Ruth didn’t have a person trainer, he had hot dogs. Let’s not forget modern medical science, dieticians, money and other advantages the modern player has over the past player.
- What about amphetamines, aka "greenies?" MLB didn’t outlaw these until just a few years ago. I recall Johnny Damon lamenting something to the effect of, "You’re going to see a lot of boring games come August." Players were using greenies at least as far back as the fifties. David Wells mentioned in his book that there were always two pots of coffee in the club house: a regular pot of coffee and another one that had greenies in it.
My point is that Babe Ruth is the best player of all time. He could hit and pitch. End of discussion.
No, my point is that comparing guys who played in different eras is an inherently flawed comparison because the variables change over time. So records be damned – and where were all of you folks in nineties?
Let’s talk about the cast in this circus for second.
People who are complaining about A-Rod:
Players are tweeting they want longer penalties for PED use. Hey guys, call the head of your union – don’t just throw things up on twitter – you can actually effect change here!
The Commissioner’s Office has finally started doing something about PEDs over the last few years, but Bed Selig doesn’t exactly have moral authority on this issue. Again, the nineties.
As mentioned above, the press is having a field day with this story, ignoring their own culpability in the issue. THE NINETIES! Mark McGuire has Andro in his locker – there was like one article!
People who could have done something about PEDs twenty years ago
Obviously, the players and the MLB Players Association knew what was going on. These guys were blowing up like balloons. And Bud Selig has eyes, like the rest of us, and the press – but no, everyone just went along with it and had a good time reporting on the home run race as everyone lined their pockets with cash and baseball made a post strike comeback in a big, big way.
People who got rich off baseball.
See above. If you ever wonder why nobody said anything about PEDs in baseball until Congress embarrassed them publicly (Because then President Bush is a big baseball fan – did he trade Sammy Sosa because of steroid use? We’ll never know – Bush isn’t talking and Sosa forgot how to speak English. [That's the best defense ever, by the way.])
NOTE: none of the players who were suspended on Monday failed a drug test. MLB’s drug testing program apparently has some holes in it – better testing would cost more money, and as previously discussed, these guys favor money above all else.
The fallacy of competitive balance
This brings us to the falicy of competitive balance. If none of these guys failed drug tests, then we don’t really know who is and is not clean. Therefore, how can we assume there is true competitive balance if the drug testing program doesn’t work? It makes this whole thing a big waste of time. And I’m still trying to figure out why David Ortiz, who failed a drug test and had a crazy bout of Roid Rage just a few weeks ago, never got suspended – the point being that I’m sure there are lots of guys who didn’t get caught and are currently playing in MLB.
Sure, A-Rod is a cheater and I’m sure he’s just as guilty as he was last time, but let’s not pretend he’s the only one to blame in this situation. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
*The title for this post sounds like a weird sports/fantasy/adventure 80s movie, doesn’t it?
I know, I know, I keep harping on Phil Hughes, but can you blame me? Look at his game log – look! He’s only effective against anemic offenses and just about anybody with a bat and a pulse crushes him. The dude has a 5 ERA for a reason and his WHIP is abysmal. And speaking of WHIP, take a look at Joba Chamberlain’s game log. It is FUGLY. Both Hughes and Chamberlain will be free agents after the season is over, but they’re still around right now, stinking up the joint… Is there any way to turn them into a positive?
The answer is probably a resounding ‘no.’ Does any contender need pitching this badly? (Or, maybe the question is, "Does any contender want pitchers this bad?") But, if the Yankees could somehow find another team that has a surplus of bats, then maybe they could find someone who is either going to be a Free Agent or has some money left on their contract the Yankees could eat. 1st and 3rd base seems like a logical place to start as Mark Teixeira’s season ending surgery seems to be only a matter of time and Lyle Overbay is… well, Lyle Overbay. A-Rod could easily be ineffective, suspended or just never even make it back – who knows. And there’s probably too much of a log game in the corner outfield spots what with Ichiro and Vernon Wells, who we’re stuck with until at least the 2014 All Star break.
Why anyone would agree to take Hughes and Chamberlain for anything is beyond me, but I can’t help but try to think positively. Maybe Hughes could flourish in a bigger ballpark – maybe Chamberlain just needs a change of scenery. Who knows… if there’s anyone who has pitching problems the way the 2004 thru 2008 Yankees did, maybe Hughes and Chamberlain could fill a hole. I wouldn’t count on it, but the Yankees need to add a bat – and I think some addition by subtraction via an exit for Hughes from the rotation would be another positive step.
As you know by now, not a single player was elected into the Hall of Fame this year. You may be wondering why, what with a star-studded list of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro no one earned honors, but ESPN’s Wallace Matthews has come down from on high to explain it to us.
First, we must understand just what it means to have a Hall of Fame vote and what it means to be inducted to a club that is so exclusive its chosen not to enshrine Roger Maris, who has held the American League single season home run record for forty years.
A Hall of Fame vote is a large responsibility, and induction an honor that should be reserved for only the best and brightest the game has to offer.
Wallace makes it sound like he’s negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, doesn’t he? And to actually be inducted – it’s as if you’re a living God. Got it.
So now we can begin to fathom why the aforementioned group is unworthy. But he doesn’t stop the name dropping there.
…I will not be voting for Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez or Andy Pettitte.
Awesome. A-Rod and Pettitte are both still active, and comparing Pettitte’s transgressions to A-Rod’s is kinda… you know… dumb. Surely Wallace doesn’t equate acquiring bulk to recovering from injury, right? But I think he does. Exactly why what Pettitte did is not OK but the fat and bone marrow stem cell treatment used on Bartolo Colon is OK… is baffling. Anyway, I’m sure Wallace will take us through his reasons, and I’m sure they’ll all be good ones.
My reasons for this are several, and not at all personal.
That sounds like the right thing to say, but don’t worry, he’ll contradict this later.
And no matter how I try to justify it, none of those gentlemen can get past rule No. 5, which reads as follows: “Voting shall be based on the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
I guess Wallace is referring to the “integrity, sportsmanship and character” part of the rule, and this particular point makes me wish Wallace was here now so I could ask him if he’d vote for Mickey Mantle, a notorious adulterer, fall down drunk and enemy of water coolers all across baseball. I just imagine he’d stammer, “That’s… uh… different,” but we’ll never know.
Steroid or HGH use is cheating, plain and simple. And by definition, cheaters lack integrity, sportsmanship and character. Strike one, strike two, strike three. There is compelling evidence that all five of those players were cheaters for a good portion of their careers and that their numbers were artificially inflated by it.
By compelling evidence, I presume he’s referring to failed drug tests and the two times Roger Clemens was convicted in court by a jury of his peers… oh wait, that’s not how it happened… Look, I think anyone with eyes could see that Barry Bonds blew up like a balloon, but I’m not sure if Hair Club for Men styled before and after pictures count as compelling evidence in the world of multimillion dollar athletes that can easily employ an entire staff of trainers, not to mention a personal chief, a nutritionist, and who the hell knows what else. (Probably someone who buys steroids for them… again, not saying these guys didn’t do steroids and HGH, because we all believe they did, but I’m not sure there is a ton of compelling evidence lying around.)
And the fact that McGwire and Sosa needed chemical help to topple, after 37 years, the 61-home run barrier only reminds you how great Maris was that season.
But, again, Maris is not in the hall of fame and those guys are. What’s Matthews’ point, exactly?
I’ve heard all the justifications and all the apologies: Everyone was doing it. It wasn’t against the rules. They were all Hall of Fame players anyway. Steroids don’t help you hit a baseball or throw strikes. And if you’re going to punish juicers, what about guys who used greenies or scuffed the ball or threw a spitter?
Greenies, huh? What’s that, something you spray on your lawn to improve the quality of the grass? Calling them ‘greenies’ kinda takes the emphasis off the fact that everyone was taking speed up until a few years ago. I certainly remember Johnny Damon saying that we were all in for some boring games come August when everyone was exhausted from the rigorous schedule and didn’t have any amphetamines to take. Anyway, I guess “greenies” don’t count as performance enhancing, but I certainly don’t want to play a friendly pickup game against someone who is currently feeling the need – the need for speed, that is.
Then he brought up the scuffed ball and the spitter, which shifts the argument beyond logic, because now he’s talking about the countless way the game has changed over time. Let’s list a few, shall we?
- Babe Ruth didn’t have to play in night games
- Or against anyone who wasn’t white
- Or face specialized relievers or closers (Mike Myers vs Babe Ruth would have been hilarious)
- Or fly from Tampa to Seattle – after you get off the plane, you feel great, ready to play baseball! Or, what I actually mean is you feel like you’re about to DIE.
- The stadiums are only getting smaller – bad for pitchers, good for hitters
- The mound is six inches lower than it used to be
- The DH could have added several years to Ruth’s career
I think the point is that the game is different, and it seems like it’s always changing in some way – exactly why Wallace thought to make this point, I can’t say, but there it is. But, the most damning thing in that statement is that he said they were all Hall of Famers anyway – so if that’s true, then why not vote for them?!?
This, to me, makes their decision to juice up sadder and all the more incriminating. Yeah, they probably would have been. But now, they never will be.
Unless one of them gets in next year. It’s not like all of these guys got no votes. The rule is that you’re removed from the ballot if you get less than 5% of the vote. Since Wallace specifically mentioned Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa and Palmerio in his piece, let’s see how they did in the voting.
Roger Clemens – 214 votes (37.6%)
Barry Bonds – 206 votes (36.2%)
Mark McGwire – 96 votes (16.9%)
Sammy Sosa – 71 votes (12.5%)
Rafael Palmeiro – 50 votes (8.8%)
Yep, that’s what I thought – all eligible for the ballot next year.
Oh, look! He (sort of) answers my Mantle question!
What about other cheaters?: This one is problematic. I have an easy out on Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry and whoever was greenied to the gills in a previous generation. I wasn’t around to vote for them and can’t right previous wrongs. And there is something different about cheating with steroids, because it is the only form of cheating I know of that requires other players to jeopardize their own health to keep up.
Wait, “greenied to the gills in a previous generation” – didn’t that ban just happen a few years ago? But I see what Wallace is saying about not being able to right others wrongs, yet this brings to mind a very important word: precedence. There is already a precedent for voting in cheaters because there are clearly cheaters already in the Hall of Fame. And what the hell does jeopardizing their health have to do with anything? I can’t imagine that it was a good idea for Randy Johnson to pitch with no cartilage in his knees, which was the case when he pitched his perfect game. Should Johnson not be elected because he jeopardized his health? I just don’t see where he’s going with that point.
In an extra effort to make sure I think he’s a total buffoon, Wallace voted for Mike Piazza.
And I have, of course, heard all the rumors, and even have some suspicions myself.
So he’d voted for Piazza anyway because he’s never failed a drug test and wasn’t on the Mitchell Report list. Wow. Just… wow. Does anyone remember Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens failing a drug test? I certainly don’t. (Again, I believe they both did it, but I’m just trying – and failing – to follow the logic.) Anyway, he says if someone comes forward and says they saw Piazza smoking a cigarette in the boys bathroom his freshmen year of high school, he’ll change his vote.
You can argue that I should have voted for Jack Morris (I have in the past but wasn’t feeling it this year) or Tim Raines or Edgar Martinez, and if your argument is persuasive enough, I might listen.
So he’s voted for Morris before but didn’t this year because he “wasn’t feeling it this year?” What happened to Walter’s reasons not being personal? That’s worse than his reasons for not voting in Clemens and Bonds. And he might listen to a persuasive argument? OK, fine. How about this: You are a complete and total hack of a writer. Everything you post on ESPN’s website is only to justify your position and generate traffic to the website so you can keep your job.
Alex Rodriguez continues to invoke ire from the western world. His latest infraction: attempting to pick up chicks via ball boy communication while he was benched during the ALCS.
Just to recap for anyone who needs a refresher, behavior for baseball players during games goes as follows:
Remember, 2 MVPs and 1 World Series title count for NOTHING when you’re benched for lack of production! (Don Mattingly is beloved by Yankee fans because… he gave us something to watch while the rest of the team stunk? I guess…) This should CLEARLY be the focus of the press as the Yankees face elimination in the ALCS.
Just to be clear: not saying A-Rod’s focus should be on chicks, but the best player on the team (Robinson Cano) hasn’t had a hit since Game 2 of the ALDS. Seems like a bigger story.
Look, Yankee fans, I know A-Rod is, for a certain portion of you, the guy you love to hate, but the Alex Rodriguez bashing is getting old. I know this is the playoffs and the stakes are high, but jeez. Let’s take a look at the Yankees 2012 post season numbers so far:
Sure, Ibanez was the big hero last night with two homers, but he only has 5 at bats in this series, so he’s not a regular. As for the every day players, Jeter, Teixeira and Martin are hitting, but the rest of the starting position players? Not so much. If A-Rod didn’t have one more at bat than Granderson, their stats would be identical. Granderson hit 41 homers this season, and he’s basically turned into an all or nothing guy, and so far, nothing is what has shown up from him… and I haven’t heard one person say shit about that. Not on the radio, not on the web and not via text. Everyone just maintains that A-Rod sucks, which isn’t wrong right now, but he’s not the only lifeless bat on this team. If Cano hadn’t picked up that last minute RBI double in Game 1, he’d be about where A-Rod is in terms of production, and those were just tack on runs… so why doesn’t anyone complain about Cano? He’s supposed to be one of the great hitters in the game right now, and he’s not doing much of anything in this series. And frankly, A-Rod is a broken down old man, but Cano and Granderson are supposed to be in their primes. What gives? Where’s the complaints?
I guess the problem is that these other guys are “True Yankees” and A-Rod is just some hired gun… except when he carried the offense on his back to a World Series title in 2009. But then, that doesn’t count because A-Rod did steroids, right? Something like that. Jeter is 6-13 in this series, so who cares if he’s made 2 errors in 3 games and grounded out to 3rd with the bases loaded in a pivotal spot in game 2? Nobody, that’s who.
I know, I’m just wasting my time trying to convince A-Rod haters that he’s not the reason they lost game 2 and not the reason they offense has been lifeless this series, but I had to try. I figure A-Rod deserves and advocate because… you know… 2 MVPs with the Yankees. One World Series title that he had a lot to do with .
After watching the Yankees for five months, I’m not sure I believe they have what it takes to win a World Series, so even if they don’t make the playoffs, they’re probably just putting us out of our misery early rather than later. Here are just a few players I’m looking at that would need to drastically improve for the Yankees to make the playoffs and potentially win a world series title.
Sabathis has been on the DL twice this year – both were precautionary moves, but he just hasn’t looked especially dominate this season, and I think the Yankees need him to be to go all the way.
Cano has a lot of talent, but I feel he has regressed this year and I just don’t think he’s every going to become a true super star. It doesn’t have much to do with anything, but I sure wish he’d run out those ground balls to first like Derek Jeter does… I don’t buy into the theory that “Cano is a loafer” that many have proposed, but… yeah. It’d be nice if he’d dive for the ball every once and while.
It wasn’t his fault he got hit with the ball, but then, he’ wasn’t exactly killing it before he got hurt. The Yankees need A-Rod to be A-Rod, and before the hand injury, he was a shell of his former self, and I’m not sure that is enough.
Pettitte hasn’t gotten back into a game situation yet, so I don’t think the Yankees can count on him – Hideki Kuroda has been AMAZING in Pettitte’s absence, but it sure would be nice to see Pettitte come back and be who he was pre injry. What a boost that would be!
Let’s face it – everyone who is not Rafael Soriano, David Robertson or Boone Logan is just not reliable. As scary as it sounds, I hope Ivan Nova comes back so the Yankees can put David Phelps back in the pen.
Too. Many. Homers. I don’t look forward to this guy starting a playoff game – I prefer he’d be in the bullpen and the Yankees go with a three man rotation… or, if the stars align: Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte and Freddy Garcia.
He’s supposed to play again later this week, but like A-Rod, he wasn’t exactly killing the ball pre injury, so I don’t know if the Yankees can expect anything from this guy at this point.
It’s too late now for the Yankees to go get someone – this team is what it is. If everyone can get healthy and perform like they’re capably of, the Yankees should be in good shape, but at this point, I don’t have much faith in that happening.
Sometimes, players don’t perform to expectations – other times, they just suck in general. Either way, they’ll find a home (whether temporary or permanent) on the Fickle Fan’s Yankee Player Shit List.
LIST DATE: OCTOBER 7, 2011
PLAYER: Alex Rodriguez
TRANSGRESSION: An easy target – his sleepy bat and two of the most painful strike outs (one with the bases loaded, one to end the game) will probably keep him on the list all winter.
PLAYER: C.C. Sabathia
TRANSGRESSION: He gave up a run in an elimination game and his 6.23 post season ERA – an easy addition to the list.
PLAYER: Ivan Nova
TRANSGRESSION: Back to back dingers in an elimination game will get you on the list.
PLAYER: Mark Teixeira
TRANSGRESSION: His batting average is an eyesore! But hats off to the RBI walk.
PLAYER: Nick Swisher
TRANSGRESSION: His batting average is an eyesore and that strikeout with the bases loaded haunts my dreams!
Submit your suggestions for the Fickle Fan’s Yankee Player Shit List in the comments below.
Here’s some numbers for ya from last night’s ALDS game 5 between the Yankees and the Tigers:
Team LOB: 11
RBI: Cano (9), Teixeira (1)
2-out RBI: Cano; Teixeira
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Posada; Cano; Gardner 2; Swisher 2
Team RISP: 2-for-9
Pretty abysmal, right? I wonder why they couldn’t get the big hit last night – they certainly ran into some good pitching, that’s part of it, but maybe not the whole story. I really thought someone was going to come up with a single the second time the bases were loaded, but we all know now that Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher bot struck out – not to be confused with Russell Martin and Brett Gardner grounding out the first time the bases were juiced. Maybe I can find the answer if I drift through the local papers…
OK, this was a mistake. When I am going to learn to stop reading NYPost.com?
The richest team in baseball history, the most talented in the game, and you could almost hear the players’ knees knocking over the din of the crowd. Does that come from the manager? Girardi was forced to his bullpen early when Ivan Nova’s forearm started to bark, but it was his choice to use Phil Hughes for only four outs, his choice to use CC Sabathia, his choice to use seven pitchers.
Those relievers, save for Sabathia, were perfect. And you could argue Girardi was merely matching the urgency of the situation.
But you could also argue that anxiety and stress flow from the top down.
Here are the batting averages for the ALDS for the following players:
Obviously, batting average isn’t the best measure of offensive production (especially across such a small sample size), but since Mike Vaccaro went with batting average elsewhere in his article, I might as well, too. Obviously, the dominance of Justin Verlander and some of the other Tigers starters has a lot to say about this, but really, Mr. Vaccaro? You think these guys didn’t get the big hit last night because Joe Girardi was too anxious and his players fed off that same anxiety? Talk about having no respect for the guy throwing the ball… I’m not trying to let the Yankees’ bats off the hook, but that’s a pretty far leap from these guys just not getting it done to some psycho-semantic stress response that induced knee knocking tension. “Does that come from the manager?” Really? I have no idea where Mr. Vaccaro got that from. I guess that in the search for answers, some grasp at straws… or just make shit up.
I checked some other papers, but to no avail: Mike Lupica just complained that the Yankees are the most expensive team in baseball and have only won one ring over the last 10 years. This seems like a silly argument because most teams don’t even make the playoffs every year, which the Yankees have save one – never mind win the World Series. If 1-10 over the last decade isn’t enough for Mr. Lupica, how many World Series victories would be? Two? Three? Four? Five? Does he expect them to win the whole damn thing every single year because they have the highest payroll? Surely he knows that’s not how it works… Anyway, the NY Times just offered reporting as that’s what they’re best at.
What else can I say? It was a close game, the Yankees lost, and it was probably closer than it should have been considering the Yankees fashioned 7 innings out of their bullpen. Once Ivan Nova left the game, visions of the 2003 World Series and David Wells‘ balky back began to drift across my mind – not to mention the fact that teams hardly ever win games when their starter doesn’t give them at least 5 innings. I’m forced to go back to my musings from Spring Training – at that point, I thought the Yankees didn’t have the pitching to win a World Series, but when it came down to this game 5, they just couldn’t muster the offense.
In the end, I don’t feel to bad about this loss – the Yankees just couldn’t get the big hit and for whatever reason, I’m OK with that. At least they didn’t get shelled – that would have really bothered me.