Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
King George
2008-07-16 05:32
by Alex Belth

The opening ceremonies were but a distant memory by the time the All Star game merifully ended close to 2:00 a.m. but the sight of George Steinbrenner being carted around the field will be the image I remember most. There was the Boss, with his trademark navy blue blazer and aviator sunglasses, sitting next to his daughter, his son Hal right behind him, bawling like a baby, overcome with emotion. The Fox cameras tastefully kept their distance until Steinbrenner's cart reached the pitcher's mound. There, his daughter handed him a plain manilla envelope. The Boss took out four baseballs and gave one each to Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Goose Gossage and Reggie Jackson. Ford leaned over and kissed George on the cheek, so did Yogi. Paying their respects to The Godfather. Steinbrenner was then quickly ushered off the field, perhaps for the final time.

It's funny how things turn out. For as long as I can remember, Steinbrenner has lorded over his team as The Boss, commanding the back and sometimes even the front pages of the local newspapers, hiring-and-firing managers and general managers at an alarming rate, throwing buckets of money at free agents, harassing his employees, berating his players, building championship teams and then tearing them down. He was boorish, obnoxious, paranoid, driven, obsessed. He was also generous, charitable, and unfailingly patriotic. Steinbrenner was a lot of things, and most of all, he was vital, a force.

In 1989, when I was a senior in high school, I honestly believed that the Yankees would never been a winning organization again until Steinbrenner was gone. I was wrong of course, and the Yankees' run in the nineties was more spectactular and satisfying than the one in the late seventies. Steinbrenner deserves credit for that, even if the team was carefully re-built while he was serving his second suspension from the game, and even if Joe Torre gets most of the ink for the teams' great run.

Again, it's interesting to see how things turn out. Instead of a dramatic departure, Steinbrenner has slowly faded, like the air fizzling out of a birthday ballon that is three weeks old. It is humbling. And his many critics have laid off of him as his health has declined. Mike Lupica, one of his biggest foes, has written nothing but glowing things about Steinbrenner for the past few years. And so even an orge gets a moment of grace.

I enjoyed the pre-game introductions. Thought it was typically crass of Willie Mays to ignore Josh Hamilton when the young center fielder took his place next to the Say Hey Kid. Also, is New York the only place in the world where you can get away with following-up Hank Aaron with Reggie Jackson or what? And yo, you had to love them saving Yogi, the best, for last.

Comments (69)
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2008-07-16 07:15:39
1.   monkeypants
0 Alex,

Your timeline and mine are almost identical, it seems. I thought for sure Big Stein would cash out when he was making all that noise a few years ago about selling the team along with Yesnet. But, at least for now, the family seems intent on hanging on to the team. So as you put it, Steinbrenner's role has slowly faded.

2008-07-16 07:32:13
2.   OldYanksFan
"He was boorish, obnoxious, paranoid, driven, obsessed. He was also generous, charitable, and unfailingly patriotic. Steinbrenner was a lot of things, and most of all, he was vital, a force."

Excellent! The guy was good, bad, ugly (uggla?) and more. However, I wonder if it wasn't the suspension and Stick putting the farm in order, if we would have won. While the FAs/trades may have put us over the top, it was the Jeter/Bernie/Mo/Po/Pettitte that really won it. The Boss wanted to let Bernie go. Also Andy. I believe if the Boss alwaysdid it his way, we never would have won in the '90s.

I actually stopped actively following the Yankees for a while. George put me off that much. Originally, when it looked like he was out of the game PERMANENTLY, I literally danced with joy. I appreciate him now, his desire to win, and know of the many, many fine things that he has done. But initially he represented some very dark days, and we are lucky things have turned out as well as they have.

2008-07-16 07:38:55
3.   Shaun P
2 I too hated that old s.o.b., the Boss, and thought the Yanks wouldn't win until he was gone (but his money stayed). Hating the obnoxious loudmouth fool of my youth was easy.

Then last night, seeing the big old lug made my eyes tear up some. Its impossible for me to feel hatred for that old man now.

I don't know how much time he has left, but I hope they put him in the Hall of Fame before he goes to the big ballpark in the sky. He deserves it, and he deserves to be there to see it.

2008-07-16 07:44:17
4.   monkeypants
2 It is interesting that the team went on runs after each of his suspensions. Total coincidence? Probably not.

That said, I am not convinced that either championship run could have been accomplished without Big Stein. Sure, Stick put the farm system in order and the team focused on guys with high OBP. But without Stein's money and ego, they probably don't reinforce that farm system with the $150+ million payroll. Bernie is not resigned in 1998 (did the Boss want to let him go? I had not heard that--what is the source?). Clemens may not be traded for in 1999. Hell, Musina and Giambi would not have been signed, moves that all but paid off in 2003.

As with many historical developments, multiple factors played decisive roles. Without both Stein AND Stick there would not have been a dynasty in the 1990s, IMHO.

2008-07-16 07:45:49
5.   pistolpete
0 >> In 1989, when I was a senior in high school, I honestly believed that the Yankees would never been a winning organization again until Steinbrenner was gone. >>

Technically, wasn't he?

2008-07-16 08:02:59
6.   Schteeve
I thought the headline this morning would read:

The Good the Bad and the Uggla.

What a ridiculously riveting game.

2008-07-16 08:30:09
7.   The Mick 536
[0,2] Seeing Georgie with the guys he dissed or dismissed-Yogi, Dave Wifield, Goose, Reggie-made my blood curl. He had Winfield tailed, remember. He lied under oath and had the political suck to get the conviction erased, remember. How about Ellie?

I'll never forgive him or warm up to him. There was a time when you had to choose between Billy and Reggie. I always took Reggie. And, for the record, if Lupica is for it, I am against it. Perhaps Peter Golenbock's book will change my mind.

What was truly amazing, though I don't have the time to count, were players on the field who wore pinstripes, like Boggs and Perry, whom we really don't look at as Yankees. And what about Lou Pinella.

My favorite Yankee team was 1961. Whitey and Yogi stood up for them. Came back after 1960 loss. That team had everything. But my best baseball year was 1978. Nothing more satisfying than that run. Gotta give him credit for that.

2008-07-16 08:37:34
8.   Josh Wilker
"Thought it was typically crass of Willie Mays to ignore Josh Hamilton when the young center fielder took his place next to the Say Hey Kid."

I saw that too and was hoping it was a case of an old guy being sort of disoriented. Why would he ignore him? It doesn't make any sense.

2008-07-16 08:56:49
9.   Alex Belth
Why did he ignore him? My guess, judging on what I've heard about Mays personally, is that the Say Hey Kid is a dickhead.
2008-07-16 09:04:20
10.   OldYanksFan
4 You are correct. The Boss's absence was vital to the winning as was his money. My point is the money alone would not have done it. The 'kids' were the key. Cashman gets that.

And yes, Bernie was literally a few hours from signing with the RED SOX. I'm not sure if it was Stick or Cash, but it was only HEAVY intervention by the 'supporting officers' that saved Bernie. I don't have the source, but it is well known if you want to research it. And again, the same thing happened with Andy.

NEVER forgiving is somewhat instinctual, but I question it's value.

In California, one of the Mansion girls, who was found guilty of murder, applied for a medical 'pardon'. She has been in jail for FORTY years. She has cancer. Her right side is paralyzed. Her left leg has been amputated. She has other severe health issues. She was given 3 months to live. Big Arnold said no, her crimes were to heinous. However, I wonder at what point, we must show some compassion, and if holding on to hate is the right way to go.

I have forgiven George. At one point, he was the biggest asshole on earth. But that was a long time ago. We are all human. We all mistakes. We sometimes change. I can't hate the man now for what he did a long, log time ago.


2008-07-16 09:06:01
11.   tommyl
9 Not so sure on that. For awhile when I was a little kid I lived in the same building as Willie did in Riverdale. Now, I was only around 7 at the time but he was always very nice to me when we'd end up sharing an elevator. Of course, he was either never there or never opened the door on Halloween, so to my 7-year old eyes he came off about even.
2008-07-16 09:10:20
12.   Josh Wilker
9 : Couldn't he have just been old-guy distracted? These dudes are getting up there. Maybe he heard something loud and scary off to his right or something.

I've heard he can be a bitter dude at times, too, but I'm hoping the non-handshake was more a case of an old guy being disoriented in all the excitement.

2008-07-16 09:16:24
13.   OldYanksFan
From Fox Sports:
'Cashman rarely rules out any options, so he wouldn't exclude adding Bonds, who has offered to play at the minimum salary but has been shunned by all 30 major league teams this year. Cashman's answer to a question on the field before the All-Star game, however, was intriguing.

"I would say any rampant speculation on us involving a player of that magnitude would be extremely premature," Cashman said. "I would caution everybody to not misunderstand that since I'm not saying no to it, that that means, 'Oh my gosh, that that might be happening down the line.' It's not something we're focused on at this point. We're focused on getting Hideki Matsui back rather than, you know, what we're going to do if he's not back."'

Fuck it. atsui is DONE for the year. Who knows if and when JD will be 100%. Po, Giambi and JD will needs to play their positions the majority of the time if we hope to win. We coulf actually use 75% of a pure DH.

If he will help, GET BONDS. Let everyone scream. Let them hate us more. Bonds is an asshole. He is one of hundreds of players who did PEDS. He is not a nice man. But he is/was still a great, great ballplayer.

If we can beat the Sox, it's worth it. Maybe he can teach Melky and Cano about those very weird concepts of plate dicipline and pitch selection. Hell.... maybe it will take some heat off ARod.

He said he will play for minimum salary... so he's sorta like a kid (right???)

We can still go after other guys. He's all but free.

He has not killed anyone yet (that we know of). Get Bonds!

2008-07-16 09:19:03
14.   Raf
12 I'd place my money on him being bitter.
2008-07-16 09:31:47
15.   monkeypants
10 We are mostly in agreement!

I know that Bernie was very close to signing with Boston, but I was never under the impression that the Boss was forcing him out. Indeed, it was the Boss's OK to the bloated contract that kept Bernie in town. I suspect that Big Stein was very much behind Bernie's return.

As for Pettitte, maybe Steinbrenner is to "blame" for driving him out of town. Then again, I said it then and I'll keep saying it: it was the correct baseball move at the time. So, either Steinbrenner was astute, or he got good advice from his baseball people.

On the other hand, it is pretty clear that the Boss exiled Scott Kamienecki...but is that a bad thing?

2008-07-16 09:32:41
16.   Jen
8 Maybe he's bitter because of the way Bonds is vilified for something he hasn't been tested positive for, but a guy like Hamilton, who admitted to being a crackhead, is getting so much positive press.
2008-07-16 09:32:49
17.   monkeypants
13 "But he is/was still a great, great ballplayer."

He was. Maybe he still is.

2008-07-16 09:36:22
18.   monkeypants
16 That's a silly moral equivalent, in baseball terms. But if that's what Mays feels, as you speculate, I guess he has the right to his (your) opinion.
2008-07-16 09:39:41
19.   Chyll Will
13 As much as I dislike subterfuge with the fans, I don't think Cash is under any obligation to tip his hand to anyone. Could be they ARE thinking about it, but don't want to stir up anyone else lest they start a bidding war or inspire preemptive strikes. Let them say anything they want, because we ourselves can't make the decision one way or the other.
2008-07-16 09:47:30
20.   Raf
19 "Bubba Crosby will be our centerfielder in 2006."

I'll wait to see what Cashman does, instead of what he says.

2008-07-16 09:51:41
21.   monkeypants
19 Good point.

13 It is interesting: you have been one of the most vocal defenders of Molina, citing his defensive value as going significant way to compensating for his awful bat. But now you are arguing that Po (et al) needs to play his regular position in order for the team to win. Have you changed you stance on this?

If Girardi is set on using Molina behind the plate, then signing Bonds means that Po or Giambi will be relegated to the bench. Assuming that Bonds-who-has-not-played-in-a-year-plus is still as potent as ever, that is an upgrade. But is the marginal upgrade (Bonds over Posada/Giambi) for at most 65 games going to make any difference.

Now, if Posada will start the majority of games at catcher, then Bonds slots in very nicely at DH. Of course, he has not played in over year. How long will he need to get in shape? Even his agent admits that it won't take long--ie, he will need some time. One week? Two weeks? Then we are down to 55 games or so. His bat could make a difference, but maybe not.

Mind you, I am not arguing against the idea.

2008-07-16 09:51:45
22.   Chyll Will
20 Ha! Second...
2008-07-16 10:04:28
23.   bp1
21 Bonds is exactly the sort of free agent signing that is no-risk all upside. No players lost to trade. No big salary or long term contract. If he stinks or is too much of a distraction, you cut him. The upside is tremendous.

Sign him, Cash. Today. Show us we're in this to win.

2008-07-16 10:11:53
24.   FreddySez
Hey, Alex. I had a lot of the same thoughts watching the Boss last night.

Like you, I grew up on Bill Gallo and "bleep you" and "how could you trade Buhner?!?" As a teenager I railed against him. Fantasized about how great it would be if he were forced out. Yet there I was last night getting almost misty at the sight of this stricken old lion getting a moment in the glow.

So I wonder: Is the change in him? In circumstance? Or in me? If I'd lived the 1980s as a 40-year-old, would I have felt the same way? What if I were 17 now?

Someone once said that Rudy Giuliani was the perfect mayor for New York because, to paraphrase, "it takes a prick to run this town." Has the same thing applied to the Yankees -- and the Boss -- all along? If so, was I just slow to see it?

2008-07-16 10:27:26
25.   Simone
The "never forgive" is a bit much. George was a bastard in his early years as the Yankees' owner, but he never killed anyone. He had enough humanity to ask the people that he wronged like Yogi for forgiveness. Even Winfield made his peace with George. I don't think that you do much for your soul or karma holding a grudge against a sick old man who never harmed you personally.

Re: Bonds, the Yankees have to do what they have do because the season is running out.

2008-07-16 10:27:52
26.   monkeypants
23 Would he cost a draft pick or two? Or is that only if a FA is signed before a certain date?
2008-07-16 10:32:09
27.   monkeypants
23 All signings come with some risk, however small. Signing Bonds means that some other player(s) will lose playing time, one player will have to be DFAd. Until JD gets back, if Bonds plays, then you have to deal with Posada's defense or lose Posada's bat. Those are both risks.

I agree that the upside seems to vastly outweigh the very, very, very minor risks. Still, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

2008-07-16 10:32:13
28.   Shaun P
20 22 Third!

First thing that ran through my mind was the Crosby line.

13 The "play for the minimum" thing might be a total PR move, because Poz has confirmed, from Dayton Moore, that Bonds's agent never contacted the Royals about Bonds. So that means he has not been offered to all 30 teams.

2008-07-16 10:35:23
29.   Shaun P
26 Nope, seeing as the '08 draft is over. All Bonds costs is cash and a roster spot.

Last year, Bonds was OK in the field, according to most of the advanced defensive metrics. He couldn't play out there every day, but the bat is well-worth the cost.

Besides, Brett Gardner could become known as "Barry Bonds' legs". Whether he would want that for a nickname is another matter altogether.

2008-07-16 10:36:21
30.   monkeypants
28 Yeah, there is no way Bonds plays for the minimum. The moment a team expresses interest, his agent will know that there is demand, and they will present a more realistic salary. Any team that wants him bad enough to contact him now wants him bad enough to pay a little, and they know that.
2008-07-16 10:39:59
31.   monkeypants
29 OK, thanks. I wasn't sure how the draft pick thing worked.

There is no way, no how Bonds is playing in the field. Not because he can't, but because if he signs with an AL team he will be type cast as a DH. Look how talk of a Yankees-Bonds romance has now only heated up since the DH Matsui is gone for good.

2008-07-16 10:43:20
32.   Schteeve
either they make a move in the next week of they are done for the season. this team isn't winning with Gardner, Cabrera, Cano, Jeter, and to a lesser extent Posada and Abreu.

At the moment, Giambi and A-Rod are the only offensive players I feel good about. Giambi is a fragile proposition as we all know. A-Rod, no matter how good he is can't carry the offense for the next 2.5 months. Either Cano and Posada get white hot soon, and for a long while, or the month of October is going to be pretty weirdly uneventful for us.

2008-07-16 10:48:42
33.   Shaun P
31 True, but I can see games where Posada DHs and Bonds plays LF - say when a groundballer (ie Pettitte) is on the mound.

Or on the road, in parks with an easy LF. Not that I could name such a park off the top of my head.

2008-07-16 10:56:26
34.   monkeypants
33 Again, if you or I ran the club, that's the way it would work. I'm just being realistic. Remember, this is the same team that has burned a roster spot on Chad Moeller for over a month now for no apparent reason.

32 You only feel good about guys who hit .900+ OPS? Tough crowd. I will point out that Jeter's OPS the last month is a very career-average-like .849.

2008-07-16 11:12:15
35.   Shaun P
34 Good point, monkeypants.

OK then, if the Yanks signed Bonds, who would go - Chad Moeller, or Billy Traber?

My money is on Traber.

The funny thing is, up until a month ago, I was very pleased with how well Girardi used every guy on the roster, and every guy in the bullpen. The last month or so, not so much.

2008-07-16 11:31:45
36.   Raf
24 The Buhner trade made sense at the time; he a rookie who struck out too much (too many holes in his swing) that fell out of favor with the manager. Traded in '88, when the Yanks had Washington, Henderson, & Winfield in the outfield and Clark @ DH. So he wasn't going to see much in way of playing time. At the time it was believed that the Yanks were too "right handed" and needed a lefty power bat. Unfortunately, Phelps wasn't the answer.

33 Fenway; they've been hiding Manny out there for years in LF.

35 Moeller, Traber, Hawkins, Christian... So many choices!

2008-07-16 11:34:00
37.   3rd gen yankee fan
23 "If he stinks or is too much of a distraction, you cut him."

Practically, sure. But sitting a player who stinks (Melky?) doesn't always happen when it should, and it's sure not going to happen with the spectacle (especially in NY! on the Yankees!) named Barry Bonds.

2008-07-16 11:37:05
38.   Raf
Of course, Buhner could've come in handy in 89...
2008-07-16 11:48:40
39.   monkeypants
35 I think that Moeller is on this team at least until Posada throws out a runner, and even then he is probably going to stick until the end of the season.

So, that leaves either a pitcher (probably Traber) or, if the Yankees are actually willing to use Bonds in the field, one of the Gardner/Christian twins. IF, and that is a big IF, they were to sign Bonds with any to occasional OF starts, then actually I think it would be Gardner who would get cut, because Christian is RH.

Ultimately, though, I don't that the Yankees will sign Bonds. I expect them to make a minor move or two for a mediocre starter or, more likely, some sort of RH bat who can, in theory, play a couple of positions--a Craig Wilson type of signing.

2008-07-16 12:19:07
40.   williamnyy23
Sign Bonds!!

I was at the game last night and have to admit that it exceeded my expectations, which were lofty to begin with. The pre-game ceremony was excellently done and I'd have to say the entire days ranks right up there with my favorite moments attending a game at the stadium, which includes Leyritz HR in the ALDS, Gooden's no-hitter, the WS clincher against the Braves, etc.

I also taped the game and watched and was surprised that the crowd reaction did not really come through on TV. Some of the ovations were really thunderous, but they seemed so muted on over the FOX microphones.

My favorite moment was when George appeared. It didn't make it on the air, but at one point Dave Winfield kind of inched toward George, but then backed away, almost as if he still wasn't sure what the Boss thought of him. After the Yankee HoF'ers (of which Big Dave is one as well) departed, however, Winfield and Steinbrenner did embrace. That was a pretty emotional moment for me. Love him or hate him, and many people have probably felt both, Steinbrenner is as much a part of Yankee history as any figure.

Finally, the crowd really gave it to Papelbon, but there was no vulgarity whatsoever. To hear McCarver play this up as if Papelbon was a victim is ridiculous. Also, Papelbon not only disrespected Mariano, but the other closers in the game as well. You could make the case that Krod and Nathan, not to mention Mariano, are also better at what they do than Papelbon. I think it is very presumptuous of Papelbon to assume he will be accepting the mantle, when that time comes.

2008-07-16 12:31:27
41.   williamnyy23
One more observation: from watching in the stands and then later on tape, it certainly looked to me as if players were giving an all out effort and really wanted to win this game. Milton Bradley, of all people, really busted it on a grounder; Miguel Tejada was throwing his body all over the field and emoted as if this was the World Series; Carlos Quentin attempted a take out slide against Martin, who was blocking the plate all game; Volquez reacted angrily when he allowed the Drew HR; and the bench really jumped around when Sizemore scored the tying run.

Those are just examples, but I felt like I was watching a real game last night. I am not sure why so many people remain so cynical about this game. From the historic ceremonies right through the game, the ASG seems to me to be a perfect display of why baseball is the greatest sport

2008-07-16 12:36:24
42.   monkeypants
41 I'm cynical about the game because of the way it is marketed and presented. By and the large the players probably always try hard to win (well, except for John Kruk batting wrong handed). There is no need to tie the game to the post season. There is no need for Bud and Buck and McCarver to constantly remind us that "it counts." There is no need to take away from the game by concocting other MTV-like events, such as the Home Run Derby (however fun it may have been this year). And they don't need increasingly convoluted methods for selecting players.

Just let the game stand on its own.

2008-07-16 13:02:41
43.   williamnyy23

Why isn't there a need to make it "count"? I heard countless players talk about that carrot as a real motivating factor. For me as a fan, it is a significant deal (if the Yankees are in the WS, I want the 4 games). I think tying homefield to the ASG was an excellent idea, and certainly no worse than alternating years.

What's MTV about the Home Run Derby? Home run contests date well before MTV. I love the Derby and the event seems to be very popular. What exactly is the drawback to holding it before the game?

Finally, what is so convulted about the methods for selecting players? It seems very straight forward to me. The fans, players and manager all have a say. Is it a perfect system? No. Is it convulted? I don't think so.

The only problem I have with the game is the way it is managed. Pitchers should throw more innings and the starters should remain in the game longer.

2008-07-16 13:14:06
44.   Raf
43 Who's to say that the game didn't count before? I believe when the NL was on their streak in the 70's & 80's, they looked at it with pride. If the game wasn't a big deal, how do you explain Rose vs Fosse in 1970, or Dock Ellis campaigning to start in '71?

If you're going to make it count, then wouldn't it make sense to manage the game like it counts? Somewhat defeats the purpose, when you're playing by little league rules, that is, getting everyone in to play.

What do players from Seattle, KC, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC care if their league gets homefield advantage in the Series?

2008-07-16 13:16:01
45.   Chyll Will
40 I agree with you, William. The experience had to be so much different (better) in person as opposed to watching it on as lousy a telecast as FOX. To my non baseball-fan friends who openly question why anyone would be interested in this sport, I usually suggest they attend a game at the stadium just once, which usually either changes their minds if they go, or shuts them up for a while. Had I had the privilege of attending, I probably would have found the events memorable, particularly Winfield and Steinbrenner's interaction.

Winnie was my favorite player when I started playing ball, and I was hurt when the Yanks traded him; hated Steinbrenner more than anything when he was thrown out of baseball trying to dig up dirt on my favorite player, distrustful of him when he was allowed to return and started seeping into the works again, didn't even trust him to his last days directly involved with the team.

Still, I think of Bill Cosby and what he said about his Mom: "That's not the same woman I grew up with -- you're looking at an old person who's trying to get into heaven now!"

I'm closer to Alex on my feelings about Steinbrenner, but maybe a tad less forgiving; not to say I don't forgive, I just haven't forgotten. The dynamic is likely based on when you came into the relationship as discussed before. There's a lot of things to take into consideration, particularly those things that were never reported in the papers, but were found out about anyway. Ultimately, I probably feel the way Winnie does, but I would just shake the man's hand and say "Thanks for everything."

It's all different when you're actually there, I guess.

2008-07-16 13:21:22
46.   JL25and3
The players are proud enough to play as if it matters, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an exhibition game. If Tejada was really throwing his body out there, then he's doing his teammates a disservice. Risking injury in an All-Star Game is, frankly, just stupid. And having a player actually get injured is a completely senseless waste.
2008-07-16 13:21:37
47.   williamnyy23
44 I think it always counted, but have no problem with raising the stakes. Whether it was real or not, fans began to perceive that a full effort was no longer being given, and I think the home-field winkle has changed that attitude somewhat.

While I agree that managers should not be so interested in having every player participate, I have no problem with the selection criteria. I think every team does deserve an All Star, and don't see why having a few pretty good, not great players should detracts from the quality of the game.

2008-07-16 13:25:40
48.   williamnyy23
46 I guess I don't get the "it's only an exhibition" game angle. We are talking about sports after all. Aren't sports just exhibitions for which deranged fans like us develop a perverse fashion? Also, was this ASG an more of an exhibition than the next Mariners/Indians or Astros/Nationals series? And, was Wang's injury in interleague any less senseless than a potential ASG injury?
2008-07-16 13:26:50
49.   monkeypants
43 In order:

1. I heard countless players say that it doesn't matter whether it counts, plus countless old timers claim that they busted their asses to win in the old days. There is simply no empirical evidence that making it "count" makes the players try harder.

And in any case, It is an EXHIBITION GAME. It is truly unfathomable that a major sport would tie its championship game to an EXHIBITION GAME.

BTW, Murray Chass had a god article (!!!) which, among other things, demonstrates that the whole "it counts" scheme--which was cooked up mostly by FOX to boost ratings, hasn't affected ratings at all.

2. It is MTV because it reduces the game to short attention span snippet of action. Perhaps ESPNification would have been a more appropriate term.

I have no doubt that it is popular. Indeed, HRs are popular and have been for a long time. I see nothing inherenetly wrong with holding the HR derby before the game, but it seems as though the HR Derby gets as much or more press than the game itself. Thus, an exhibition of individual skill--taking batting practice from a hand-picked personal pitcher--eclipses the team game, which in turn compels FOX and MLB to come up with goofy schemes to make the ASG more popular and relevant, whether it is the Al Century Mastercard Team, or the "it counts" or whatever.

3. Well let's see--the fans can vote for the position players, but not the pitchers. Or wait, do they vote for pitchers now? But the players get a special vote, and the manager--chosen because he coached the WS team last year--picks the pitchers. except for the extra special final ballot. Oh, and the online voting. And the fact that individuals can "stuff" the ballot box. Wait, let's not forget that there has to be one representative from each team--which seems to operate at cross purposes to the "it counts" ethos.

The whole thing started to really turn my stomach when teams began to "support" their players for the ASG. I'm not sure it's in the spirit of things for the Yankees to run loud adds encouraging the fans to vote for all the Yankees players. Isn't the idea to pick the most deserving players (except the marginally deserving players from bad teams who have to be there), cuz you know, it counts and all?

2008-07-16 13:30:17
50.   Chyll Will
Ambivalent about HR-Derby and home-field advantage, though. the recent tie-ins to make the game seem more important were, as was earlier pointed out, an overreaction to an anomaly. If these things are borne in a need to compete with other sports, (for me anyway) it's the wrong direction to go in because you're alienating a (likely) large section of the fan base that grew up supporting the product. Are you saying they don't matter because they'll die soon anyway? Not cool. Seems to me the rules of adverti$ing have twisted another popular idea into something exclusively for the young and impre$$ionable.

But that's why I'm ambivelent, because half the people here probably like it regardless. Who am I to say anything one way or the other?

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-07-16 13:33:24
51.   williamnyy23
49 Wait a second...technically, because something is riding on it, it really isn't an exhibition game. As I pointed out in 48 , a lot of regular season games can be looked at as "exhibition" games. I know I saw a lot more effort last night than I expect to see the next time the Royals and Mariners tangle. I don't think you can make your point by declaring that it is an "exhibition game" because that definition is open to debate. Counting in the regular season standings isn't the end all to determine whether a game is worthwhile.

I don't know...I watched the Derby and it doesn't seem to be a short attention span event to me. Most of the night is guys standing around waiting. If anything, you could complain that the event is too long and drawn out. Again, HR derby have been popular on TV long before ESPN. Back in the 1950s, a TV show called HR Derby featured head-to-head matchups between star players like Mays and Mantle. Also, back in the good old days, teams would hold their own HR Derbys before games. The concept has been around for a while. I don't see it as a recent dumbing down.

As for the voting, again, I understand it clearly, so I can't accept it as being convuluted. Also, I have no problem with the game involving a lot of fan interaction, including ballot campaigns and stuffing the ballot box. I think fan interest and interaction in the game is a good thing.

2008-07-16 13:34:40
52.   monkeypants
48 It depends on your point of view. I think Wang's injury was less senseless by definition because it happened in a real game that counts in the real standings. I think that every "meaningless" series during the regular season is more real than any exhibition game--it counts in the standings, the statistics count to players' season and career totals, etc.

But your argument that all sports are just exhibitions is intriguing. If it is going to count, however, then I think you have to ditch your argument at 47 . If this is about raising the stakes and winning and competition, then NO ONE deserves to see their player from their team out there. But, if this is just a feel good showcase of the games talent for the fans, then have a player from every team, no matter how bad. But then don't "raise the stakes." In my mind, these two concepts simply do not jibe.

Plus, doesn't bug you on some level that buying into the "it counts" scheme is exactly what FOX wants you to do? Resist the borg!

2008-07-16 13:34:56
53.   williamnyy23
50 I could see your point if MLB had changed from a tried and true system. Do you really think there are fans who are alienated because they think alternating WS home-field is that much better than tying it to the ASG?
2008-07-16 13:37:05
54.   Chyll Will
49 1-2: Good points. 3: DAHHH, F@#% ITT!!! (I agree with the stomach-turn point, it does leave a nasty aftertaste...) >;)
2008-07-16 13:38:16
55.   williamnyy23
52 I don't think "counting" requires that every team shouldn't be represented. Each team has the same "handicap", so it's a game featuring equal rules for both sides. I don't think the two concepts contradict at all.

Sometimes, I think the resistance to the idea is a resistance to the Fox slogan "this time, it counts". It's almost an anti-establishment reaction. Personally, I just want to watch Game 1 at Yankee Stadium.

2008-07-16 13:39:31
56.   williamnyy23
49 One last point...the Chass article fails to acknowledge that keeping share is very significant in this increasingly competitive marketplace. I think his analysis was very weak.
2008-07-16 13:39:55
57.   Chyll Will
53 I think if there are fans alienated by it, they are so because of the advertising blitz that accompanied it that excluded them; i.e. older fans who don't have a two-second attention span.
2008-07-16 13:41:24
58.   monkeypants
51 I think you're distorting the meaning of exhibition in the context of professional sports.

Bythe way, I'm not sure how popular HR Derbies were in teh old days. The show that ran in the 1950s really only ran for one season, 1959. The host died, the show was cancelled, and the concept basically disappeared at the MLB level until the 1980s. It remained a relatively minor sideshow until interest picked up in the 1990s--with the first ESPN delayed telecast in 1993 and the first live telecast starting in 1998.

Hmmmm...interest increased right around the same time as the offensive explosion in the 1990s, commonly tied to....

2008-07-16 13:45:09
59.   Chyll Will
58 Beans! I knew they weren't that good for you...
2008-07-16 13:55:52
60.   Bama Yankee
To me, an exibition game is something like Old Timer's Day or the Celebrity Softball Game. I stayed up until the bitter end to watch my league win the game just like I have always done since I was a kid. I agree with William that it seemed like the players took the game very seriously (even Tejada and Bradley played with Jeterian intensity). Was it because the game "counts" now? I don't know but I doubt it, I think maybe it was a case of pride taking over for a few guys who maybe had always dreamed of playing in Yankee Stadium. Or it could have been that they just wanted to see their league win like I did. Whatever the reason, that "exhibition" game was more exciting to me than a regular season game between two teams playing out the string.

I don't know, maybe it's just me, but if they are keeping score at something I'm playing in then I want to win. That is why I have never had a problem with the Pete Rose/Ray Fosse thing. Don't get me wrong, I hate it that Ray got hurt, but Pete was playing to win the game (just as he always did...especially if he had a little money on it ;-). If I had my choice I would want a team full of guys who hated losing (even it was just an "exhibition" game).

2008-07-16 13:58:21
61.   Raf
47 Whether it was real or not, fans began to perceive that a full effort was no longer being given

If fans don't see blood on the field, they think that maximum effort isn't being given.

Me, I just enjoyed the game for what it was, a semi-competetive exhibition, seeing players that I normally hadn't seen (which I suppose wasn't a big deal growing up in NYC where I had access to AL & NL baseball). The ASG "not counting" didn't take anything away from the performances of Pedro, Doc, or Fernando. Didn't take anything away from the awesomeness of Reggie's HR off the transformer. Didn't take away from Jeter goofing on Nomar.

2008-07-16 14:12:43
62.   OldYanksFan
21 I was NEVER advocation Molina catching OVER Posada. My response to Molina being in the lineup when Po was out was 2 fold. One, people complainted what a hugh 'black hole' Molina's bat was and how much worse were were with Po out of the lineup. Because of his D and throwing, overall, it was more of a 'light grey downgrade'. And two, like I have been, we are all seduced by offense, and the more I read AND witness our ouwn flawed defense, I think in general, we do not take a players D enough into consideration when evaluating his overall contribution to the club.
2008-07-16 15:09:03
63.   Schteeve
42 Dude, I usually agree with you on everything but to say the HR Derby is an MTV like event...I mean really? Haven't they had home run hitting contests long before MTV even existed? Did Flava Flav jump out and yell "Yeah Boyeeeeeeeeeee!!" everytime Hamilton went deep?

Jeez, and I get accused of being a tough crowd.

2008-07-16 15:10:05
64.   Schteeve
62 We're in third place this season, because we don't score enough damn runs.
2008-07-16 15:14:35
65.   monkeypants
63 See 49 and 58 .
2008-07-16 15:16:33
66.   monkeypants
64 Yep. Their runs allowed (a combination of pitching and defense) has been better so far this year than last season. The team's runs scored have been way, way down.
2008-07-16 15:22:35
67.   Schteeve
66 Yeah and to take it one nerdy step further, over at RLYW SG projected the Yankees as a 96 win team which would be good enough to win the division (at the moment the Sox are on pace to win 95.)

That projection had them scoring 938 runs, and allowing 783.

The season is 58.6% over. So the yankees should have scored about 549 runs and allowed about 458.

In reality, they've only allowed 412, 10% fewer than projected. Unfortunately, they've only scored 436, 21% fewer than expected.

So. This.Team.Don't.Need.Pitching.

2008-07-16 15:24:07
68.   Schteeve
2008-07-16 16:00:43
69.   Simone
The Yankees have got to find some offense from somewhere and fast.

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