We're at the point in time where the media's day-to-day coverage includes unnecessary game stories, the occasional feature, the building up of a player who's succeeding, thereby setting up the inevitable fall, and of course, injury updates. On YES, every game will be treated as if it's Game 7. On radio, John Sterling will tell stories and occasionally mention what's going on in front of him as it pertains to the broadcast. Standard-issue stuff that tells us the season has started. And judging from posts on this site and others, ESPN's Red Sox love/anti-Yankee tilt is in midseason form.
I wanted nothing to do with that this week. The Mets dominated the back pages while the Yankees' performance save for A-Rod's game-winning grand slam on Saturday relegated them to "other team" status.
I was struck by a different story. Three friends, my wife and my mother sent me an article about a New Jersey math professor named Bruce Bukiet, who developed a formula projecting winners and losers in the major leagues, based on teams' starting lineups. Not surprisingly, the computer spit out a 110-win season and a 10th consecutive AL East title for the Yankees. The formula is essentially a means to help gamblers, and the article says as much. It even points to Bukiet's "detailed projections" on a corresponding gambling site.
I enjoyed this paragraph near the top of the piece:
"So far, Bukiet is on track. The Yankees won their season opener against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Monday."
(My editorial reflex would have eliminated that graph, considering that the next section details the formula. Plus, basing a 110-win season on a comeback win over the Devil Rays is as convincing as projecting Daisuke Matsuzaka will win the AL Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award and Triple Crown because he stifled the Royals in his Major League debut. Oh, wait...)
Sentences like that occur in many places, and as a reader and a fan, it's a bit off-putting. When I read lines like that, I begin questioning the writer's credibility. How do you, as fans and readers, react to that? Does it bother you? Do you let it go? How about if you hear announcers trip over themselves or say something off-base on the air? What do you do then?
As for the Yankees, two stories emerged: the first was Alex Rodriguez's 6 HR, 16 RBI explosion in the first seven games. The other was the starting rotation's inability to go deep into games. Already, Luis Vizcaino and Scott Proctor are on pace for appearance numbers in the Mike Marshall range. (I'd include Kyle Farnsworth in the discussion, but since he can't pitch on back-to-back days, he should be in the 60-70 range.)
I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing the coverage. But the two developments have made me curious how long it will take before the following commentaries fair or unfair -- are written:
1) A-Rod has won over the New York fans. (This is a complete lie although the fans have supported him and he's responded.)
2) He's living up to MVP expectations. Through seven games, he is the clear-cut MVP.
3) The cynical point of view: A-Rod's success is derived from his desire to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and become a free agent. A story could come out noting that A-Rod said that he will not exercise the opt-out clause, refer to the WFAN interview where he said he wants to finish his career as a Yankee, but a "source close to A-Rod" says otherwise. Going through the annals of players in walk years or in similar stages of their contracts putting up career numbers, the idea doesn't seem impossible.
What I'm most curious about with A-Rod is his quotes and how they will shape his entire being this season. If he says he's all about winning, will he say the right things when the team loses and he goes 3-for-5 with two home runs and 4 RBIs? Will he say he's just happy the team won when he goes 0-for-4 with two Ks, leaves three runners in scoring position and commits an error in the field? Or will he come off as being selfish, as he has in the past?
1) Now that Mike Mussina has joined Chien-Ming Wang and Hideki Matsui in the "We bought Rickey Henderson's hamstrings on eBay" club, how long before the Roger Clemens talk becomes superheated? From a baseball perspective, the dearth of reliable starters almost makes acquiring Clemens a necessity for the Yankees. But pundits claiming he'll be a Yankee for certain are wrong. Clemens has said he won't make a decision until May. The Yankees may not be able to afford waiting that long to act. Clemens is monitoring the Yankees and the Red Sox closely I don't know this to be fact, but covering him and knowing his competitiveness and mercenary nature, it's a strong educated guess and he may look at the Yankees' situation and say, "I might not be enough to get these guys over the top. The Red Sox are a sure thing, and they'll let me be here on my terms."
Calling up Phil Hughes may be the better option, but he only went five innings in his first start at Scranton, and the Yankees are insistent upon bringing him along slowly. Hughes is the "Yellow Ledbetter" to Clemens' "Jeremy" in this conundrum.
2) If Kei Igawa's ERA rises to 15.00 or higher after Friday's start, you can almost guarantee the word "bust" appearing in the blogosphere and numerous mainstream outlets, and some venomous chatter coming from the Sons of Sam Horn and other assorted Red Sox boards. Maybe even from Curt Schilling. He's not above stoking the fire and hyping the first Yanks-Sox series a few weeks early.
Keep an eye out for these stories if I'm right, I promise not to write an "I told you so" column.