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Yankee Panky # 59: The Goose, The Win Streak, and Sunday Night Baseball
2008-07-28 07:11
by Will Weiss
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

A bunch of random thoughts as the Yankees begin another week with some ground to make up, There’s not much to add to Goose Gossage’s Hall of Fame entry. The stories SI Writer Emeritus William Nack tells on ESPN.com say everything.

__________________________

• I try my best to be cognizant of the back-page treatment of the two New York baseball teams during the season, imagining how I would set the news agenda if I was heading any of the local editorial units. I found it odd this week that while the Yankees were racking up victories and gaining ground on the Rays and Sox, the Mets dominated the headlines. The Yankees’ win streak did not go unnoticed, but by normal standards, it flew under the radar and was fairly ho-hum. Certainly, the beat writers and columnists covered the necessary details, including the notes and quotes on the six-player deal with the Pirates (Cliff Corcoran’s analysis in this space was spot-on), but from a broader headline-grabbing standpoint, this week was all about the Mets. In my opinion, that helped the Yankees.

Speaking of under the radar, this sentence from Kat O’Brien’s Sunday Notebook nearly slipped my eyes:

“Kei Igawa was outrighted from the 40-man roster after clearing waivers Friday.”

After Carl Pavano, is it safe to say that Kei Igawa is the most fiscally irresponsible signing in Yankees’ history?


• After seeing the highlight – or lowlight – of Melky Cabrera booting the Denard Span single due to waving to the Bleacher Creatures during Roll Call last Tuedsay, I’m surprised the media at large didn’t overreact. Newsday’s Anthony Rieber made some interesting comparisons coming off the incident.

• SARCASM ALERT: I’m glad neither ESPN nor the locals beat the Pine Tar Game’s 25th Anniversary to submission.

______________________

Sunday night marked the second of the automatic Yankees-Red Sox ESPN national games. Joe Morgan was not in the booth, due to his presence in Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. That meant good things for the broadcast. That’s off the field. On the field, the pitching matchup meant bad things for the Yankees. With Sidney Ponson on the mound to preserve an eight-game win streak versus Jon Lester, the game was a throwaway, at least on paper. The 9-2 spanking verified Cliff Corcoran’s prognostication.

 

Stuff I liked about Sunday’s telecast, and I don’t mean Joe Morgan’s absence:

• Steve Phillips and Orel Hershiser. Both parties provided solid analysis, and the addition of an extra body prevented Jon Miller from lapsing into schtick.

Even better, Phillips and Hershiser proved to be prophetic on many occasions when describing critical game situations. Most notably, Phillips highlighted the effect of the missed double play in the first inning and aptly said that Ponson was playing with fire by continuing to pitch David Ortiz inside. Another gem from Phillips: taking Jose Molina to task for being too far in front of the plate when accepting Xavier Nady’s attempt to nail Kevin Youkilis at the plate in the bottom of the sixth on Manny Ramirez’s single. The only thing he missed was that Jorge Posada has the same preference of the sweep tag over blocking the plate.

Hershiser was equally good. When comparing the failures of Ponson and the successes of Jon Lester, noted Ponson’s inability to locate his fastball as the primary reason for his downfall, and described Lester’s ability to change the hitter’s eye level as a sign of his maturity as a major league pitcher.

The duo’s tag-team analysis of the botched double play in the first inning was excellent. Both rightly criticized Derek Jeter for hanging back on the ball, and called Robinson Cano out for appearing too nonchalant on the pivot. Phillips went one further, saying that with Jeter playing at double-play depth, he was close enough to second base – he was shaded toward the middle – to have fielded Youkilis’s ground ball and handled the DP himself.

• Bobby Meacham’s base-coaching skills did not lose Sunday’s game for the Yankees, but they helped thwart a charge in the top of the fifth inning. Thankfully Mr. Phillips read my mind when he questioned the decision to hold Johnny Damon at third on the short fly ball by Xavier Nady. Jacoby Ellsbury has about as good an arm as Damon, and with Damon’s speed, despite the leg strain, he could have scored. In addition, trailing by five runs, why not take a chance of having the third out occur at home plate? I don’t care how hot Robinson Canó is right now, keeping the bases loaded for him with two outs is almost a guaranteed rally killer (Canó’s Bases Loaded splits were .143/.188/.214 entering Sunday night’s action. The only Yankee regular with worse numbers in such situations is Jason Giambi’s mustache).

• Peter Gammons complimenting Joe Girardi’s managerial job to date. In one of his in-game missives, Gammons recalled a recent conversation he had with Girardi where the skipper compared the initial trials to those he faced while replacing Mike Stanley in 1996. Nuggets like enable me to forgive the fact that when I worked at ESPN.com and was on the editorial distribution list, I noticed the drafts of his columns were rife with spelling errors, many to players’ names. (Maybe it was my naiveté at the time, but I thought writers knew how to write and spell, or at least took care to proof their work a bit. That revelation made me view Gammons and all other scribes differently.)

Stuff I didn’t like about Sunday’s telecast:
• Errors of negligence that fostered the theory that ESPN harbors a dislike for the Yankees bordering on hatred. Specifically, in the bottom of the first inning, when David Ortiz singled and Kevin Youkilis advanced to third, there was a bang-bang play. Bob Abreu (or “A-Brew,” as my father likes to call him), made a perfect one-hop throw to Alex Rodriguez that beat the runner. Replays from all angles showed that A-Rod slapped the tag on Youkilis’s left knee a split second before he touched the bag. Nothing was mentioned about the botched call. At least they didn’t feed the theory further by calling to attention Jeter’s “neighborhood” tag on Mike Lowell at second base. A good no-call for Yankee fans.

• During the Top of the 8th inning, when describing the graphic on Dick Williams’ career highlights (he was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee), Miller pointed out the misspelling of Jim Lonborg’s name (it was posted as “Longborg”) on the 1967 Red Sox portion. Of course, Miller promptly messed up two minutes later and no one called him out on it. Miller, when mentioning the death of Russ Gibson, said he played on “that 1968 Red Sox” team, when he meant to say “1967,” continuing with the theme of the previous graphic. Publicly embarrass the production team one moment, don’t get help in the next. Such is the tightrope the play-by-play man walks.

Until next week … when we’ll have more from the trade deadline, and maybe, just maybe, someone will notice that the looming stretch of 16 of 19 road games could make or break the Yankees’ second-half run.

Comments
2008-07-28 07:30:16
1.   Rob Middletown CT
"After Carl Pavano, is it safe to say that Kei Igawa is the most fiscally irresponsible signing in Yankees' history?"

Maybe. Jaret Wright should probably be in the discussion. Kyle Farnsworth. Steve Karsay.

As for the botched DP... Jeter did hang back some, but I find it difficult to fault Cano's turn. To my eyes he did it as fast as he could. I didn't see "nonchalance," I saw Robbie Cano. Smooth. For this he is ripped. Meh.

2008-07-28 07:41:30
2.   Shaun P
1 Wright definitely claims the #2 spot behind Pavano. Their track records screamed "INJURY!". Igawa's track record was good. At the time, even the most pessimistic evaluators saw Igawa as at least a #5 starter in the bigs, many saw him as a #4. $4M/year for that, when there were no internal (i.e., cheaper) options? Heck yeah.

Signing Igawa was a mistake, but I have a hard time saying it was fiscally irresponsible.

Oh, and I know the Yanks didn't sign him, but Kevin Brown ought to be in the discussion too. Ugh.

2008-07-28 07:41:36
3.   cubfan1024
Amen to the Joe Morgan comments, he is horrible. I do like Steve Phillips, reminds me of listening to Steve Stone who is one of the best in the biz
2008-07-28 07:42:30
4.   tommyl
Will, lets not forget the ESPN "defensive lineup" graphic had Carl Pavano as our starting pitcher last night. My eyes almost popped out of my head.

My main complaint with the broadcast last night was that frequently they weren't calling the game at all. At times all three would go off one some topic like Manny Ramirez and completely ignore anything going on in the game. I noticed a sac fly, a few great plays, a strikeout etc. that were not called. Analysis is great, but the announcers should pay attention to the game, at one point Miller called strike two on Nady as he was walking back to the dugout. That's irresponsible and not very professional.

2008-07-28 07:49:28
5.   vockins
1 Accounting for inflation of salaries, I think Pascual Perez is the lead standard for financially irresponsible Yankees signings.
2008-07-28 07:56:20
6.   RIYank
What about Kevin Brown???
2008-07-28 07:56:48
7.   ms october
4 i agree, there was a lot of air time that was devoted to blather rather than discussing the game. perhaps if the red sox hadn't jumped out to such a big lead so early they would have paid mre attention to the game.
it also seemed like they went to gammons constantly - maybe i was just more aware of it becuase i have so soured on him the past couple of years.

another one of the media related things that really annoys me is how many people keep saying that joba hit youkilis - this was said by the guy who was wasting time with kruk while they were waiting for the game to start and i saw it on espn news on saturday as well - i get that they want to play this up and that is a different conversation, but at least be accurate - the same thing happened after the game last year that resulted in joba's suspension - at least twice i heard an announcer say joba hit youkilis.

2008-07-28 08:01:49
8.   Chyll Will
4 To me, it's more than just the apparent bias that turns me off from even watching E$%# these days, it's the little things. From last night's thread, seems like there were a lot of little things, NY Daily Rues-kind of things...
2008-07-28 08:09:56
9.   Chyll Will
6 Capt. Brownout? Now that was a ship dat b' sinkin'...

7 History, history, history, history, history. If they said it any more, I thought Carl Sagan would magically appear out of nowhere.

2008-07-28 08:10:24
10.   Shaun P
8 The 24-hour Favre obsession, across all their platforms, has me going straight to Neyer and Law's blogs and nothing else at the 4-letter.

6 See 2 ! Does this mean you owe me a root beer? ;)

2008-07-28 08:16:46
11.   Chyll Will
10 (Nah, they've got to be consecutive, but nice try...>;)
2008-07-28 08:21:38
12.   Raf
Yanks didn't sign Kevin Brown to that contract, the Dodgers did. He was acquired in a salary dump trade for Jeff Weaver. His back appeared to be fine, having come off a year where he tossed over 200 innings, and a ERA+ of 169.

No one saw the pitching staff imploding in 2004. Actually, Brown was having a decent year in 2004 when he went bonkers and took on a clubhouse wall.

2008-07-28 08:30:08
13.   Chyll Will
12 The team had (has?) a habit of taking on pitchers who had a stellar season right beforehand (cough-cough-Sir Carl-cough). Brown was as much of a Hitchcockian bomb under the table as RJ and perhaps One-Finger McDowell, but you can't argue with the previous record...
2008-07-28 08:30:22
14.   OldYanksFan
from WasWatching/Bill Madden:
"Among the Yankee alumni on hand: Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Pat Kelly, Gene Michael, Jim Beattie, Roy White and Mickey Rivers. White, who has been fired three times as a Yankee coach, said he will not be coming to Old-Timers' Day Saturday, even though it is an easy commute from his home in Toms River, N.J. "I've just had enough," he said of his Yankee disses."

This is VERY upsetting to me. While he gets very little attention, Roy White was as much a true Yankee as a player can be. Brought up from our farm, he played 15 seasons, his entire career in Pinstrips. 10 years he played 130 games of better, 4 of those years playing 156, 159, 162 and 162 games.

He was an outstanding defensive OFer, although with a below average arm. He was a smart player who posted a career 121 OPS+, averaged about 12 HRs/yr (pretty good in those days), stole 233 bases and posted a career .360 OBP.

More importantly, he was as steady and dependable as a player can be. You really can't call him a great ballplayer, but he was a great Yankee.

I know you'll agree with me Hoss. The Yankees must make amends to Roy and find a place in the organization for him. This man has earned the right to be treated with respect by the Yankees.

(And it's nuts that Meacham is our 3rd base coach and not Roy).

2008-07-28 08:43:34
15.   Matt B
That Bill Nack piece was great.
2008-07-28 08:43:39
16.   Chyll Will
I honestly don't know what Joe G and Meacham's history is, but I'm beginning to believe that's one that should be relegated to the ages and off-field. As for ol' Roy, he'll have to get in a very long line when it comes to alienated fan favorites from the Yankees.
2008-07-28 08:50:17
17.   Southern Yankee
Hershiser incorrectly gave O'Malley credit for signing Jackie Robinson thereby breaking the color barrier ! Branch Rickey was dissed here with no one offering a correction.
2008-07-28 08:50:21
18.   JL25and3
14 Hey, I'm from that generation, too.

I agree completely. Roy White was an easy player to underrate. He did everything well (except throw), but didn't have that one big number anywhere. He took a lot of walks at a time when that wasn't so highly valued, and his best years were in a low-offense era (.267/.350/.414 = 136 ERA+). And there was nothing at all colorful about him, nothing that would ever attract attention.

All he did was put in a lot of years playing very good baseball for the Yankees, without ever causing the slightest problem. You'd think they wouldn't want to alienate a guy like that.

2008-07-28 08:55:38
19.   williamnyy23
14 18 What exactly was done to alienate him? If it is being fired as a coach, well, that's the reality of the business. Has something else happened about which I am unaware?
2008-07-28 09:39:46
20.   horace-clarke-era
OYF (and Old JL) ... of course I agree. Roy was a solid ballplayer, a quiet, do-your-job person. He was lucky enough to last just long enough to have started on the very bad CBS Yankees but make it to the good teams in 1976-78 (the Zoo years) though he was a bit player by then, really. Was on base when Bucky hit the Shot Heard Round the Bosox Nation.

But JL's right ... there's a lot of alienated old-timers out there.

I defended Meacham a few days ago, noting that two aggressive calls, one with Molina (!!) worked and we tend to overlook those, but I have NO idea why Damon wasn't sent home against Ellsbury's arm last night.

2008-07-28 13:07:20
21.   Will Weiss
Good points all. I was sticking straight to the game analysis. They went to Gammons constantly because it was Hall of Fame weekend and he's in the Hall of Fame. It was an easy excuse to have the extra voice as frequently as possible. That the game was a blowout gave them even more reason.

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