Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Time, It's Personal

Joe said: Michael, I know you are saying this ARod vendetta is not personal -- but are you sure?

ARod is so incredibly talented that I find it hard to believe anyone would think the Yankees are better off without him from a pure win/loss standpoint. But let's say for a second that you believe you really think ARod is so terrible that he makes the team worse? If the answer is yes, then I ask what that belief could possibly be based on. Because I don't think there is enough evidence that would allow anyone to say with any degree of certainty that the Yanks are better off without him. And if they are worse off -- how much worse could they be? Worse off than if they had a better 1B? Better LF? Etc. etc.

The bottom line is you just wrote a couple of thousand words on how incredibly distasteful the idea of ARod coming back is...seems a bit much unless this is...personal?

Michael replied (without pausing for breath): It's personal NOW in the sense that I held my breath for four years, tried to make the best of it for the sake of the team (just like I do with the cheater Jason Giambi), I had promised myself I would wipe the slate clean and give A-Rod the benefit of the doubt if he didn't opt out and got an extension (hey, we'd be stuck with each other so what choice would I have) but then he was GONE and I was really, really relieved because I WANT THE YANKEES TO WIN and I think we can do a better job without him. I'm thrilled we got rid of Soriano and he's had terrific numbers. I'm thrilled Gary Sheffield (the cheater) is gone and he had a great bat. I want a team I can root for, a team I can like, preferably a team that does NOT have a grotesquely inflated payroll because that takes the fun out of winning and we were working towards that thanks to the departure of Clemens and A-Rod and others. Of course, I believe the team would do better without him.

I've thought the entire direction of the team since 2001 has been disastrous and gone far away from the philosophy that got us a dynasty. Then George got ill, Cashman and Swindal got more control, payroll was actually reduced, our farm system started to improve, we didn't keep throwing away the future on aging veterans, our new philosophy was like the old philosophy...and then Swindal cheated on his wife, george got so ill that Hank and Hal stepped in and they started behaving just like their boorish dad and the nightmarish years of the 70s and 80s when the Yankees rarely won and behaved like complete jerks and made it hard for even fans to like them returned in full force and in about six weeks I've seen the dream of intelligence and long-term planning and graciousness been trashed completely and the big swaggering assholes of Hank and Hal taking over completely and booting Joe out the door gracelessly (even just HOW it was done, not the fact that it was).

For many, many people, the Yankees have been a hateful team throughout the ages. Who could blame them in the Seventies and Eighties? I missed that entire miserable era because George Steinbrenner broke the law and was banned from baseball for about three years and in that tiny, tiny window Gene Michaels and Buck Showalter managed to put together the makings of a dynasty and we reaped the rewards for most of the 90s with a team of decent, hard-working position players who never embarrassed you off the field, played great on the field, were mocked by other managers as not containing a single Hall of Famer among them (ha! who the hell cares?) and won four World Series. America LOVED the Yankees the way they hadn't been loved since the 50s and 60s and you could be proud to be a fan.

George destroyed that legacy in the Seventies and Eighties and failed to win while doing it. Now his sons are taking over and this deal is indicative of their boorish, idiotic, changeable, mercurial, obnoxious behavior and it frightens me because this is the first of many obnoxious manuevers they're going to make. I don't want to have to think about the owners -- I want to think about the players. These schmucks think spending the most money for the biggest names available is how you buy rings. It can work, sometimes, for a season. But most of the time it fails miserably. This deal is the beginning of a pattern.

I am most angry at Hank and Hal for returning to the bad old days. But A-Rod could not have behaved more dishonorably, more pettily, more dishonestly than he did by lying repeatedly and opting out so he could get the most money from somewhere, anywhere even if it was the Yankees and by lying about the reasons and making the entire baseball community angry at his behavior during the World Series and after. He has behaved like a complete and utter boor. I have mocked his awkwardness in interviews but I have never criticized his personal life or personal dealings. He doesn't do drugs. He doesn't use steroids. I don't care about his marriage. He's very talented. (This year, for the first time, I thought the greatest player in baseball history was in fact the MVP for the Yankees. The other three years? Not so much.)

But he has behaved like a complete dick these last three weeks and yes, I am angry that just as he showed himself to be callow, self-serving, two-faced and money hungry (if he really wanted to stay a yankee, he would not have opted out) and walked out the door and I could exhale he's walked back in again. A-Rod's behavior in the last few weeks was like seeing the villain at the end of the film removing his mask and proving he was the complete bastard you always secretly feared he might be. A-Rod could NOT have behaved more prickishly.

Calling him classy and humble is absurd. Let's not forget his diss of that Hank Aaron award -- an award he lied and said he couldn't receive because reporters would ask him all sorts of questions and he didn't want to be a distraction -- right before releasing his opt-out news in the middle of the final game of the World Series. But no, it's not personal. That is, it wasn't personal before and he's been a complete ass now, but if I thought we were better with him I'd still want him. You know all the reason people give for saying he can be a hindrance to the team. I don't need to repeat them. He did NOT "win" us six games. No single player ever does. Not Jeter, not Pettitte, not Mo, not A-Rod. You can't hit the game winning walk off three run blast if other people don't get on base. NO ONE has ever won a single game on their own, not even a pitcher throwing a perfect game because that takes a catcher and players making great plays in the field.

Coming up with the imaginary figure that A-Rod "won" six more games for us that we would have otherwise lost shows a fundamental lack of understanding about team sports and baseball in particular. It's NOT POSSIBLE for one player to be credited with such a claim. In the same way, A-Rod's exceptional regular season did indeed contribute to EVERY win the Yankees did achieve. You win or lose AS A TEAM. Period. And I type fast. No matter how much I've written about A-Rod today, I've written twice as much about High School Musical 2 yesterday.


joe said...

"Coming up with the imaginary figure that A-Rod "won" six more games for us that we would have otherwise lost shows a fundamental lack of understanding about team sports and baseball in particular."

100% disagree. What that means is that the Yankees won six more games with ARod than they would have won with an average third baseman (say..Betemit). And six is an arbitrary number, who knows what it is -- but to say one player doesn't change the win/loss total on the season is what shows a lack of understanding about baseball. Of course its a team game, but some games people contribute, some games they don't. More often than most, ARod does -- and that leads to more team wins.

Anonymous said...

Paragraphs and line spaces = good things.

Michael in New York said...

I still say it's an impossible number to quantify, far more nebulous than "clutch" in hitting or defense so those are reflected in individual at-bats and moments while winning a game includes a huge number of factors.

Sorry about the run-on, anonymous. It was a cut and paste from a comments exchange Joe and I had.

Michael in New York said...

And oh Joe, many people say A-Rod won us six games so I'm not singling out you. But how did they get that number? It's pulled out of a hat. If we had Betemit at third, maybe we would have won TEN fewer games. Or 12. Or five. It's literally impossible to say. I credit him as contributing to every victory because that's all you can do. Anything else is pure conjecture.