DISCLAIMER: Yankee Panky will be on vacation for the next two weeks, as the author will be sightseeing in Italy. Maybe a comparison to how the Italian media cover soccer to how our fine professionals cover baseball would be a good column. You can provide your thoughts below.
* * * * *
Nothing injects excitement, drama and absurdity into the New York media like a Yankees-Red Sox series in April. Last weekend's series in Boston seemed to have snuck up on people — except we ever-observant schedule-hawking fans — whereas in years past the buildup was suffocating.
To me, the tipoff for this was the "Curse" story at the construction site of the New Yankee Stadium, where a worker who happened to be a Red Sox fan buried a David Ortiz jersey in the cement. It's light-hearted and it's funny. Yankees COO has said they'll investigate the worker and potentially prosecute. On what charge? Vandalism? Does that apply?
With all the opportunities to go "Daily Show" or "The Soup" on this particular topic, I was surprised and disappointed that no Jimmy Hoffa jokes were printed anywhere, not even on Deadspin. Maybe it's me, but I thought that was an easy one. Everyone swung and missed.
To the series coverage … There were the obvious angles of Joe Girardi's first Yanks-Sox series as a manager, and the comparisons of the rivalry now to when he was embroiled in it as a player. Thankfully, the papers sounded the "Dead Horse Alert" on those stories early. The most striking articles were the commentaries on Girardi's decision-making and overall demeanor with the media. It was presented as his first major test: How would he react to the intense scrutiny and second-guessing from the Fourth Estate? Newsday's Ken Davidoff had an innovative take, intertwining Girardi's Sunday pre-game powwow, in which he chronicled his media colleague's interrogation of the Yankee manager, with a pining for the past. Davidoff opined that this arena was where Torre shined. Davidoff noted that Torre would have deflected the questions with humor, whereas Girardi visibly became agitated answering the same questions. An interesting read, to be sure. No Maas took a more pointed approach, superimposing a puffy white cloud in Torre's likeness over Girardi's right shoulder.
More than any series in recent memory, I noticed a heavy amount of overlap in the coverage. Mainstreamers on the print and TV side, and the non card-carrying observers in cyberspace peppered us with different takes on the same stories. It demonstrates how difficult it is to provide information that you can't get anywhere else. The key is presentation.
• Is Joel Sherman angry? Are his comparisons correct in that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are the second coming of Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard? Or Sam Militello? I disagree with his opinion, but his statistical analysis of pitches-to-outs is eye-opening.
• Kim Jones' quick-burst postgame interviews rarely unearth any information, but in the event they do, it restores faith that the right questions can elicit genuine answers. Following a 4-for-5 effort which included his 521st career home run, Kim Jones asked Alex Rodriguez about any specific adjustments he made during a pre-game batting session with hitting coach Kevin Long. A-Rod openly mentioned shortening his stroke and swinging with less effort; that he was getting ahead of himself and swinging too hard in Boston. It was refreshing to hear something other than "stay back," "stay inside the ball," or "let the pitch dictate the swing."
• I wonder if the Yankees-Red Sox game was earlier and had a more exciting finish — the Yankees coming back to win, perhaps — if that story would have trumped Tiger Woods' second-place finish at The Masters.