Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Yankee Panky #48: Mellow Drama
2008-04-15 09:33
by Will Weiss

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.

2008-04-15 09:45:19
1.   Mattpat11
Baseball Tonight did Hoffa jokes.
2008-04-15 10:06:10
2.   Will Weiss
2 Thanks for the notice. I didn't see BBTN that night. Leave to ESPN.
2008-04-15 10:54:29
3.   Sliced Bread
Shortening his stroke... heh.. that's what SHE said.

Did Kim blush when A-Rod revealed he's "swinging with less effort?" or is she, unlike me, above 6th grade humor?

2008-04-15 11:10:46
4.   williamnyy23
Hoffa jokes are more dead than the man himself! Let's let them both rest in peace.
2008-04-15 11:21:02
5.   ny2ca2dc
Nice that Sherman published an article slamming Kennedy/Hughes on the same day Kennedy goes out and pitches a real nice game. What a nut.

I think the starting pitching has been about what you can expect - widely variable, but pretty solid in aggregate, the bullpen has been quite nice, but the offense is stuck in the mud. That last issue will correct itself, and I don't think the pitchers are over their heads. What's really killing me is that Sherman thinks the Yanks are getting killed - they're at .500 with their foundation ability (hitting) in a slump and some key injuries. I'd call that just fine.

2008-04-15 11:25:45
6.   williamnyy23
The Sherman article is typical sportswriter ignornace. Granted, their job is more to fill space than make sense, but you'd think they want to try?

For starters, if Kennedy and Hughes are DeSalvo and Clippard, does that mean we should expect the Yankees to win 94 games like they did last season? Also, the Yankees team ERA is a solid 4.21. They are not "killed" because of their unreliable youung pitching. The reason they are only 7-7 is because of their unreliable veteran offense.

2008-04-15 11:29:03
7.   rbj
Regarding the media coverage; there are 19 games (at least) each season between the Yankees & Red Sox. Given that both teams have been fairly competitive throughout the decade, there has been an exhaustive media over saturation. There really isn't much more to say about the two teams. I'd like to see less coverage and not hyping each game as the second coming of The Thrilla in Manilla or The Rumble in the Jungle.
2008-04-15 11:31:11
8.   ChrisS
Ah yes, throw a 22 year old under the bus because he's trying to get used to pitching to the absolute very best hitters in professional baseball. These guys don't get fooled on AA/AAA stuff. It takes time to adjust.

And Ian threw a gem last night - especially since you can almost take out 2 of his "earned" runs.

2008-04-15 15:08:46
9.   Schteeve
Any writer, who thinks they can reach any conclusions about Hughes and Kennedy at this point in the season, is nuts.

First of all, the first game the Yankees play in which the game time temp was above 63 degrees was last night. I promise you that will effect all the outcomes in the game.

Second, Kennedy has made TWO starts this season, Hughes THREE. It's way way way to early to either crown them or bury them.

I understand why writers feel the need to reach conclusions this early in the season, but I wish they would resist the tempation.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.