Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-10-23 18:55
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Rob Neyer's latest addresses several issues from last night's game, almost all of them thought-provoking and relevant. Here is a sampling:

Not Excusable: Joe Torre's willingness to let a World Series game end with his best relief pitcher having never left the bullpen.

Every year, some nitwit manager does this, and every year it makes me crazy. Yes, we all know that Torre was holding Mariano Rivera until the Yankees got a lead. Except the Yankees never got a lead. And they never got a lead, in part, because Torre was holding Rivera until the Yankees got a lead.

Derek Jeter is often regarded as the Yankees new "Mr. October," their most "clutch" performer. But Neyer notes that Bernie Williams is practically his equal in this regard, and that the true Captain Clutch is Mariano Rivera.

Is there an ability to pitch better in clutch situations? If anybody's checked, I haven't seen the findings. What I do know is that while both Jeter and Williams have played well in the postseason, they've done little more than they're supposed to do. Rivera, meanwhile, has put himself in the Hall of Fame.

And finally:

C'mon, admit it ... You thought, just like I did, that once the Yankees tied the game in the ninth, why of course they would eventually win. And when they loaded the bases with only one out in the 11th, then of course they would not only take the lead, but blow the game wide open.

But they didn't do either of those things. Yes, the Yankees are better than the Marlins, but they're not that much better. In the end, it's just one game between two teams not so far apart. And anybody can win a game like that.

What struck me, though, was that if the Yankees had pushed across a couple of runs in the 11th, we'd have heard about their resiliency and perhaps even their awesome mystique, which not only allows them to shine but also intimidates their opponents. But instead the Marlins won, which means that for at least 20 hours we'll hear instead about their resiliency, and their youthful ignorance of that dreaded Yankee mystique.

And of course, none of it means anything. It's just something to say, in lieu of anything interesting.

Even-handed analysts like Neyer and Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus actually study baseball in an empirical fashion, while also appreciating the stories, drama and emotions that the game has to offer. They simply don't let a good story obscure the facts. Not only that, but they also have terrific bullshit detectors, and don't suffer fools lightly. Since the mainstream media coverage of baseball tends to get thick and deep, writers like Neyer and Sheehan are never at a loss for something interesting to write about. That they usually do it with clarity and precision--not to mention humor--makes their contributions essential and lasting.

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