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Yankee Panky # 43: Feature Presentations
2008-02-25 10:28
by Will Weiss
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

It’s that time of the year where baseball starts to lead the back pages because there’s nothing else worth noting in New York, thanks to the area’s winter sports teams hovering between anonymity (Devils), mediocrity (Rangers and Islanders), or suckdom (Knicks and Nets). So with snow on the ground, it’s the media’s function to get fans even more excited about the baseball season, which is now five weeks away.

The two weeks before the Grapefruit League schedule starts can be a hit or miss in terms of feature writing. At times, it appears as if writers are trying to create stories that aren’t really there. Sometimes, there’s value in the features.

Of all the papers, the Post, in my opinion, had the best combination of team or roster related stories and human interest features. The two primary guys, George King and Joel Sherman, arguably do the most digging and find the most creative angles for their stories. The Times does a good job of this also. The big reason: they throw in minor league stories and look beyond the obvious. For example, Sherman’s story on Mark Melancon, who the Yankees drafted in 2006 along with Joba Chamberlain, gives us one of those “who to watch for” pieces at the perfect time of year. Great, we’ll file the name Mark Melancon. Keeping with the Chamberlain theme, Joe Lapointe’s feature on Joba’s role in enlivening the clubhouse is the ever-popular clubhouse chemistry feature, yet cleverly, he never mentions the two words consecutively in the piece. Lapointe’s story on how Joe Girardi plans to rotate Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon is one that will be monitored for the entire year.

When games start, you’ll see the gamut of stories about players in the system and any potential surprises that arise, such as Bubba Crosby and Enrique Wilson in 2004.

What I’ve found interesting to date is that Chien-Ming Wang is already being touted as the Opening Day starter. A done deal before we even reach March. Joe Torre was always coy about this announcement, even if he knew how he was going to line up his arms. He typically would not divulge this information until the second or third week in March, and only then would he arrange the starters toward the season opener.

The other game that’s fun to play: read as many of the papers as you can and see who has stories different than their competitors. There’s a lot of that to go around in the Spring, because there's just so much to cover, and only so much space to devote to full-length features.

OH THAT A-ROD

For every article praising Alex Rodriguez's talent, there are another three that give the impression that the press is out to tear him down. Rodriguez exaggerated last week about how many drug tests he was administered during the 2007 season, which hurts his credibility. Today, the big news, at least in the Post (I consider this story interesting, but not lead-worthy), is the note that A-Rod’s mental toughness could slip without Larry Bowa and Mike Borzello in the clubhouse to kick his butt. Is he that co-dependent? Is that a story that could have waited until mid-April or May, if he got off to a slow start and the writers then clamored for reasons why? What do you think?

AND ABOUT THOSE DRUG TESTS …

Kudos to Derek Jeter for taking a stand on HGH testing and saying that blood tests, despite it having to be collectively bargained, is the best and preferred way for the league to operate its drug testing platform. Jeter’s position differs from many of his teammates, according to Mark Feinsand of the Daily News. It’ll be interesting to see how the philosophical differences play out as this story progresses, because as we all know, it’s not going away.


Until next week …

Comments
2008-02-25 11:36:52
1.   Raf
For all that I heard in '06 about Rodriguez's "mental toughness" (or lack thereof), no one pointed out that he did better at home than on the road. Or if they did, I didn't see it.

As for the drug testing, it doesn't bother me one way or the other, but I'd like to point out that AFAIK the game hasn't been "clean" since the '60. We need more people to read Bouton's "Ball Four" before they start gnashing teeth & rendering garments...

2008-02-25 12:07:45
2.   Chyll Will
1 What program do you use to render these garments? >;)
2008-02-25 12:08:14
3.   markp
I'd like to give an 'amen!' to that second paragraph.
2008-02-25 12:20:07
4.   Chyll Will
Seriously, good job, Will. I'm happy to see the article about Melancon, in which they also mentioned Dellin Betances. I know that Betances was a really big deal when he pitched high school, and I met a few people on the street who wished out loud that the Yankees would get him before anyone else did (like Cleveland did with Manny). Naturally, there was some yays when he did get drafted by the Yanks. We might not see him for a couple of years, but he's one I'd like to keep my eye on.

Here's an article about him before the draft:
http://tinyurl.com/24c678

2008-02-25 12:34:10
5.   Chyll Will
NY Daily Rues back page: Jeter ducks around batting cage net either doffing or fitting on his helmet, headline:

"THERE SHOULD BE BLOOD"

Nice. Why can't they think like that more often?

2008-02-25 12:50:28
6.   JL25and3
5 Favorite tabloid sports headline (I think it was the News), after the Mets traded away their Hawaiian Yalie righthander:

"SOMEONE ELSE'S DARLING NOW"

2008-02-25 13:03:05
7.   mehmattski
There were also dueling articles on LaTroy Hawkins today:

Kepner: http://tinyurl.com/25swt7
Fiensand: http://tinyurl.com/yt5y6t

Hawkins has committed himself to the goal of only issuing 20 walks in all of 2008. Now that would be a refreshing change for the Yankees bullpen.

FWIW, Hawkins' walk numbers as a reliever:
2000: 87.7 IP, 32 BB
2001: 51.3 IP, 39 BB
2002: 80.3 IP, 15 BB
2003: 77.3 IP, 15 BB
2004: 82.0 IP, 14 BB
2005: 56.3 IP, 24 BB
2006: 60.3 IP, 15 BB
2007: 55.3 IP, 16 BB

2008-02-25 13:16:34
8.   JL25and3
From the second Lapointe article you cite: When asked whether he would consider a trade, Matsui said: "It's hard to speculate. Somebody would have to speak to me directly. Then I would feel out the situation and make the decision of what is really possible."

That's a surprise. I would have expected Matsui at least to say that he wasn't interested in being traded.

2008-02-25 15:08:28
9.   Chyll Will
Clemens' lawyer: "aw, $#!+"...
http://tinyurl.com/2cfh7z
2008-02-25 16:53:51
10.   OldYanksFan
"The Tampa Bay Rays have recently done what the St. Louis Cardinals did a while back: have internal discussions about the prospect of pursuing Barry Bonds."

While Baltimore has a terrible team, it seems as if the rest of the division is pretty strong. I think the Rays can certainly be a .500 team. With Bonds on board, the will certainly give us a good fight when we play them.

2008-02-25 17:28:37
11.   Chyll Will
10 They may get some runs, but hopefully we won't be the only team in the league that can't smush their bullpen.
2008-02-25 17:53:26
12.   joejoejoe
I think Girardi is a fine manager but he's a terrible quote. His daily statements are 90% polite nothingness and 10% breaking the obvious. Matsui's NOT playing first base? What a shock.
2008-02-25 17:59:59
13.   Chyll Will
As long as he gets this team to play and win, he can do a Gregorian chant all day for all I care >;)
2008-02-25 18:44:13
14.   Bama Yankee
13 Since we're talking about the Yankees, wouldn't that be a Graigorian chant? ;-)
2008-02-25 19:39:37
15.   Chyll Will
14 Impressive, i have nothing to add to that >;)
2008-02-26 04:11:09
16.   ny2ca2dc
Hey wow, our boy Alex made the Times. Check out TyKep's article on Phil Hughes's blog & dig:

As a homegrown Yankee with talent, Hughes was bound to be popular. But his blog has forged an uncommon connection. A young medium has further endeared a young player to the fans.

"I think his blog is a success because it makes Hughes more than a number or a grouping of statistics, it makes him not only human, but approachable," Alex Belth, who has run the blog Bronx Banter since 2002, wrote in an e-mail message. "It makes him seem not so very different from his readers, no small deal in an era when fans feel the distance between themselves and the players more than ever."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/sports/baseball/26yanks.html

2008-02-26 05:48:22
17.   horace-clarke-era
9 From the cited piece:

Any referral from the committee is primarily a symbolic gesture. The Justice Department can decide on its own to investigate a Congressional perjury case, and indeed, several federal agents were present during the hearing Feb. 13.

...

A referral by Congress is like an extra push to the Justice Department, said Todd D. Peterson, a law professor at the George Washington University School of Law who worked in the department's Office of Legal Counsel during the 1980s and 1990s.

"It simply puts informal public pressure on the Department of Justice to take a look at it and respond in some way to Congress's action," he said.

In addition, a referral also sends a message about "Congress's own view as to which testimony seems not plausible to them," Peterson said.

____

This came up earlier. Congress cannot force OR stop a JD investigation. It can add to pressure and (last paragraph) offer a hint as to what the committee felt. Given the hugely partisan process involved, it would seem a lot better if they left it alone or simply asked Justice to look into it without targeting Roger only.

But note they did specifically ask Justice to look into Tejada by name for perjury. I stand by my view: rightly or wrongly, part of Clemens' trouble here is Tejada/Bonds and the optics of a white guy getting a phone call from an ex-President. While duck-hunting yet. And maybe the optics (pun alert) of an 11 year old's photo of him at Canseco's. That party should never have mattered, but Rusty Hardin (malpractice suit coming?) made it a BIG one.

2008-02-26 06:00:16
18.   RIYank
14 {clap clap clap clap!}

I'm pretty happy with Joe G. so far. Boring is good.

2008-02-26 07:02:56
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
14 Har har, Bama.

:)

2008-02-26 07:04:42
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
18 Yes it is, RI.

We'll see what you have to say when he sacrifices in the first or second, though.

:)

2008-02-26 08:57:43
21.   horace-clarke-era
20 Wait! You mean ... you mean he might have DJ BUNT early?

Say it ain't so, Graig!

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