Friday, June 20, 2008

Who here is a Yankee fan?

I'll take some liberties with this...

People Michael Likes: Jeter, Mo, Posada, Melky, Cano, Joba, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Matsui
People Michael Does Not Like: A-Rod, Giambi, Abreu, Pettitte*, Farnsworth
Not Sure About: Damon, Mussina

Common thread: If you were fortunate enough to be drafted by the Yankees, or perhaps sign with them as a penniless teenager from a Latin American country, then you are a Real Yankee and Michael will root for you.

If on the other hand you had the audacity to play for another MLB team, and at some point -- whether it was your choice or that of your former team, you despicably found yourself sullying the vaunted pinstripes, then Michael will rue the day you became a baseball player and root for the day when you are replaced by a Clipper.

So I guess the question is -- what makes Bobby Abreu a "hired gun" and not Hideki Matsui? Really, what makes ANY player on the team that has passed their arbitration years NOT a hired gun? Think Jeter would have re-signed with the team for $50mm if the Mets offered $100mm? No way, nor would anyone expect him to. But they are all hired guns if you think about it.

My point is this...we root for the uniform, which means we root for the players wearing them. Now that is obviously not unconditional. You've made it a point not to support players connected to the steroid scandal, and while I don't agree, I totally understand it. What I don't understand is not supporting players that give it their all on and off the field. That's all I ask. If they are really good at what they do, I'll like them even more. If they are the best player of all time (A-Rod), I'll get ticked off when people fail to appreciate their contributions.

Now of course its more fun if a player comes up through the farm system -- but they don't all pan out the way you want. And if a team like the Yankees wants to compete for championships every year, they need to supplement that internal talent base from time to time with smart trades and strategic free-agent acquisitions.

Look at Boston. How many World Series would they have won without David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Johnny Damon, Josh Beckett, Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts (cringe), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, etc. etc. etc.? Answer: None. And you know what? Without exception, Boston fans grew to appreciate those players for their contributions to the success of the team -- regardless of how they made it to Boston.

Even the Yankees of old...David Cone, Jimmy Key, David Wells, Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Joe Girardi, Chuck Knoblauch -- not one of them came up through the farm system, but no one refers to them as "hired guns."

So if someone is adament that they want to root for a team made up entirely of home-grown players, none of which are tainted by the steroid scandal, then I propose they shift their allegience to the Staten Island Yankees.

If said person decides they need to root for a Major League team, then I would suggest they become a fan of the Marlins, a fun team that mostly builds from within. Just don't root for that "hired gun" Hanley Ramirez since he wasn't actually drafted by the Fish.

In summation -- I'm a Yankee fan, which means I'm a fan of Yankees. So unless they are total a-holes on and off the field, as long as someone CHOOSES to put those pinstripes on and gives it their all, the least they deserve is our support.


dasnootz said...

Root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back... unless you're talking about cycling.

Michael in New York said...

Ouch. But that's exactly what I do -- I cheer for the Yankees, loudly. The biggest statement I do about Giambi and others grossly implicated in cheating is not clap during the roll call at the beginning of the game. Other than that, I clap every time they come to the plate and for every good play they make. More to come.

Michael in New York said...

People Michael Likes On Current Team: Jeter (of course!), Mo, Posada, Melky, Cano, Joba, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Matsui, Pettitte, Damon, Mussina, Girardi

People Michael Does Not Like: A-Rod, the low down dirty chat Giambi

People Michael is Not a Fan of But Appreciates: Abreu

Wow, out of a 25 man roster, I'm not a hue fan of Jason Giambi, who knowingly and aggressively cheated for YEARS and brought disgrace to the game and hasn't paid a single price for it and A-Rod, a player Ive consistently clapped for and defended and spent several years trying to like and been pleased with whe he gets better and felt bad for when he so clearly felt awkward and uncomfortable.

By the way, the on-field player Michael would pick as the MVP right now for this season? A-Rod.

Gosh, what an insane idiot not to be a huge fan of 2 people out of 25. More to come.

Michael in New York said...

Yep, I'm a little upset my team KNOWINGLY paid a massive contract for a player like Giambi KNOWING he was cheating and using steroids. (He demanded they remove the steroids clause from his contract so they couldn't fire him for using them -- gee, think that was a tell-tale sign). That makes me some sort of insane puritan. You can understand my stance on massive cheating but you don't agree? Great. Let's play poker this weekend. I'll bring the cards. No complaining now when I clean you out.

Michael in New York said...

Bobby Abreu -- been pefectly professional. I objected to our bringing him on because we ad plenty of outfielder options and I didn't think he was necessary. He also had a terrible repuation for fielding ad off-field demeanor. Not my idea of a good team fit. But as with every signing, I kept an open mind and have been pleasantly surprised. He's done MUCH better as a fielder than most expected, he plays hard, he's a great bat and he's been no distraction off the field that we know of. Never gonna be a player that warms my heart, but he's been a contributor and done well and a general positive. Still to my mind a hired gun but hasn't kept us from winning the way say a player like Giambi throws off our entire philosophy and takes the team in the wrong direction (power ball, etc.). I was wrong about Abreu and he's been good. Still won't mind seeing him go, chopping off $18 mil from the payroll and bringing in a hungry kid. Sue me.

Michael in New York said...

Other players who were "hired guns" I grew to love: Tino Martinez, Johnny Damon (who I always wanted and defend more than most people who think he's broken down and useless -- great clubhouse leader), Hideki matsui (hardly a genius pick-up by the Yankees but an excellent player and exactly the type I like -- proving even when we pay top dollar for a player who is a supestar that I can embrace them readily and happily), David Wells, Mike Mussina (huge contract and he's delivered again and again), gary Sheffield (a classic hired gun and a huge distraction but a hell of a bat and damn entertaining in his interviews -- the sort of kook you can't help enjoying) and man more I'm sure I'm not remembering at the moment.

Michael in New York said...

Hired guns I had deep suspicions about from the start: Roger Clemens (he's a dick), Randy Johnson (who more than any other player we mentioned I really never gave a chance -- I've given A-Rod dozens of do-overs. Johnson? None. He's a dick like Clemens, way over the hill when we got him and behaved like a prick from day one), A-Rod.

Michael in New York said...

To sum up: two people out of the current 25 man roster don't thrill me. One of them I readily point to s the MVP on field so far this season. I can list countless players who were NOT part of the Yankee farm system that I see as "real" Yankees and love wholeheartedly. Giambi is a huge cheat and huge detriment to the team in fielding, his approach to the game and his ethics. A-Rod is A-Rod. One player, ONE player is not my cup of tea and you act like I'm some sort of fussy twit who raises an eyebrow at any player we didn't draft out of high school. Please. Not true. Not remotely true.

Michael in New York said...

Root for the name on the front of the jersey -- not the back. That's what I do. But you guys make it sound like having a philosophy about how the game should be played and liking the players who embrace tat philosophy is somehow ridiculous. No team has ever been built around all home-grown talent. And yep, you can really buy a championship. How much fun have the Marlins been for Florida fans? I think teams can draw more crowds and have more success on and off the field by keeping core players throughout their careers? how is that a crime? It's just good business and good for the team. Maybe you like bseball being played like it's fantasy baseball with players jumping teams every contract. I don't enjoy it. Big deal.

Michael in New York said...

My country right or wrong? Nope, never will I accept that. If you love your country, you show it by challenging it to live up to what you believe in, not by blindly accepting al its faults and never expecting more. Same with my team -- I love 'em and so I want them to be as good as I know they can be.

Michael in New York said...

One big final addition -

People Michael Doesn't Like: The Steinbrenner Family. When they've been in charge and making decisions, the Yankees have almost never succeeded and when they did (the late Seventies, etc) it was brief and unsatisfying and chaotic. It's their idiotic philosophy (hire the biggest fattest name available at the highest price, preferably when that name has already peaked and will immediately collapse in talent) that is ruining pleasure. The new Stadium is going to suck. They're right sometimes (how can you not be) but George and Hank are basically fools who have had and will have no sustained success because they don't know how to build a winning team. They only know how to make noise and spend lots of money. George is the genius who wanted to dump Pettitte year after year. George is the genius who dumped Buck Showalter despite tons of success, hired Joe Torre and then immediately offered to dump him to bring Buck back. (Buck decined.) Hank is just getting started.

joe said...

This is what we needed to put some life back into this blog!

Clearly some of my comments are being taken more personally than I intended, but that is my fault for not conveying them properly.

1. Yes, you do cheer for the Yankees -- no denying that. I was referring more to you openly pining for certain players to leave the team.

2. Giambi is a player with limited ability, but he gets on base better than anyone -- and that's the first ingredient in winning any kind of baseball -- whether its small ball or long ball. Of course I wish he could bunt, run, catch, or throw -- but he gets on base so much better than other players that he's still a valuable player in the lineup. So as long as he's doing that and hitting the occasional long ball, that's all the Yanks need. But his limitations do not somehow magically transfer over to other people. I.e. Giambi not being able to lay down a bunt does not mean that Melky or Cano are going to eschew that skill and try to hit 50 homers.

3. On the steroid thing I was just saying that I can forgive the players for what they did, but I can certainly understand that you can't (until a full and honest apology is issued). Not sure where the controversy is there. But that issue is just as much the fault of owners, GM's, and other players -- so its hard to single anyone out.

4. No one is suggesting a fantasy baseball approach -- just that a BALANCED approach is best when it comes to building for short and long term success. Balanced meaning farm system + free agents + trades.

5. Liking players that embrace your philosophy is fine. Recognizing that there are other philosiphies that work is even better.

And so it all comes full circle -- we have different views on how to build a team based on what we think wins. I think starting pitching and high on base percentage hitters with power in the middle of the lineup is the way to go. Others may feel differently, and the beauty of baseball is that there is no right answer.

Michael in New York said...

Hired guns definition -- someone who is professional and cashes their check and will move on and do the same somewhere else.

Everyone is a hired gun -- you become a Yankee by embracing the best of the team and contributing and playing the game right. That's why the tons of players you named are NOT considered hired guns. They earned the moniker of Yankees, not simply by winning a World Series but by becoming a part of the team. They're players that if they were joining he Hall of Fame you would immediately consider Yankees. It's not some player's fault if they've played on eight teams but it's hard not to think of them as a hired gun if they have. Matsui and Damon are hired guns but I think of them as not hired guns. (Damon has had too much playing time elsewhere for me to automatically onsider him a Yankee -- if he were in the Hall of Fame, would he automatically go in as a Yankee? Not sure. Not a criticism, just a fact.) Brosius, O'Neil, Knoblauch, David Cone, etc -- all Yankees and all people I embraced so you undermine your own argument that I have some sort of insane standard and refuse to consider anyone not from the farm system a "real" Yankee. I do it again and again.

Michael in New York said...

I've never said I will only root for a team built on hime-grown talent -- I've just said that's a smarter, cheaper way to build a team, not to mention fan loyalty to players they watch their entire careers. How's the Steinbrenner way working for you?

By the way, assuming he stays (and he will), by the end of his career, A-Rod will go into the Hall Of fame as a Yankee. And rightly so.

Michael in New York said...

A-Rod -- bunch of dicks boo him aggressively and repeatedly. Me? Not once. Now they cheer him but I don't pretend he's near and dear to me and somehow I'm the unforgiving prick?

Michael in New York said...

Sniff. You mean you don't hate me?

Michael in New York said...

Starting pitching and high on-base percentage players and power in the middle -- uh, that's what every single team in baseball tries to build. That's not a philosphy -- that's a description of the game.


Have I or anyone ever suggested anything other than that?

joe said...

I didn't say you have an insane standard when applying the hired gun moniker, just that perhaps its inconsistent. But you, me, Pete, and Britt could all define hired gun in our own way and come up with different answers.

I never said I embraced the Steinbrenner way. I'm a fan of the Cashman way, which I define as: build through the farm system, supplement with free agents, and make smart trades when circumstances dictate.

Just because you don't boo A-Rod doesn't absolve you of guilt when on your own website you criticize him for seemingly innocuous offenses. You don't have to like him -- I just think you're too hard on him by analyzing his mood, facial expressions, demeanor, verbage, sentence structure, etc. (I jest - a little).

By arguing that Joba should be a setup man instead of a starting pitcher or saying that Giambi has a negative influence on the lineup, then yes, you are suggesting that starting pitching/high OBP/power are not the three tenets of a successful foundation.

Can someone wake Pete up?

priv8pete said...

Can't we all just ger along?

Anyway, I've been completely out of the office for three weeks doing this art inventory, but I vote for rooting for all the Yankees except when it's funny to boo them. Baseball is part of the entertainment industry, no?

Michael in New York said...

Boo you, Pete! Art? Instead of baseball?

Joe, I was criticizing MYSELF when I described my own reaction to A-Rod's grin after a nice play. I was mocking ME, not A-Rod, explicitly showing how unreasonable people can be over players they develop a distaste for.

Arguing Joba could be more valuable is strategy, not an abrogation of the argument that teams win on pitching. You need pitching for nine innings, so you need starters and relievers and closers. Who fits in best where? Strategy. Good pitching any inning? Priceless.

joe said...

1 point for mocking yourself, 700 for using the word abrogation in a post. You win.