Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yankees-Rays

After some chin music, an attempted spiking, a bench-clearing brawl, and multiple ejections, Joe Girardi was asked about his feelings about it all:

“I’m upset that my catcher’s having surgery today,” he said.

The broken right wrist of Francisco Cervelli, the minor leaguer bowled over by Elliot Johnson last Saturday, is still on Girardi’s mind.
No matter who had the greater claim to righteousness after last week's play at the plate, Girardi needs to grow the hell up and let this one go. On a team of respected, playoff-tested veterans, Girardi should not allow the fate of a minor league catcher become the team's primary motivator nor should he be allowing idiot man-child Shelly Duncan to set his team's moral tone.

At best it's bush league, at worst it's John McGraw-level idiocy, and either way it's not what we've come to expect from the Yankees over the years.

15 comments:

Justin Zeth said...

Do you think Shelley would have taken out the second baseman if Elijah Dukes had still been on the Rays? I don't.

dubbschism said...

Word on the streets is Rocco Baldelli just sent Duncan a cell phone pic message of a torn hammy saying, "You are dead, dog."

Grant said...

This whole feud gives me more joy than anything else in baseball is likely to this year (I root for the Orioles). I want to see Girardi fail, and badly, and this seems like a good start.

If you block the plate you'd better be ready to deal with the consequences.

Brian said...

Was this quote given before Girardi saw the replay? He said once he did, if he saw a replay that showed what Shelley Duncan did was dirty, he would have a meeting with him. He had a meeting with him this morning. Which Duncan said he didn't want to comment on. Doesn't really sound like he's condoning it.

Osmodious said...

The media can't have it both ways (though they continually try)...one of the CONSTANT criticisms of Torre over the past decade was his ambivalence towards abuse of his players by other teams. Jeter and Giambi got thrown at, especially by the Rays, CONSTANTLY, and Torre wouldn't really say a whole lot about it.

Everyone's said a lot about the whole 'blocking the plate' thing and how 'that's how the game is played', a position I generally agree with...but lost is that it wasn't just a Spring Training game, it was the NINTH INNING of a Spring game when the Rays were up by 4 runs. Not exactly a 'must do what is necessary' situation, you know?

As a Yankee fan, all I can say is: At least this Joe seems to have a little fire in his belly...

Benjamminwithyou said...

Grow the hell up? He's defending his players and doesn't want to see them get hurt in the 9th inning of a meaningless spring training game. Perhaps you could benefit from some objectivity?

Ernesto said...

If you are at camp with the big club and trying to make an impression with the coaching staff, you need to play your ass off and make sure you do everything in your power to get their attention. If this means you have to take out a catcher who is blocking the plate instead of giving up the out, you do it. You don't want to be seen as the guy who will not hustle. Think about it - David Eckstein is valued for his "grit" and "hustle" despite the fact that he's an average player at best. So if I need to hustle to get on the roster, I'm gonna do it.

Brian said...

@benjammin ~ I don't think you know what that word means [objectivity] because your implication is that shyster is a Red Sox fan. Or a Rays fan. Or at least a non-Yankee fan. I've never heard him mention being any of those. Hence, objectivity.

Keep trying though Wile E. Eventually you'll come up with something good.

Shyster said...

More to the point, given that this is a blog, I have taken it as my mission to be subjective (i.e. having an opinion) most of the time. It's my opinion that Girardi -- while having the right to be a but upset last week (though I agree it was a hard, but clean play)-- needs to have let it go five days later. When asked about Duncan's BS play yesterday, however, he was still stewing. As the manager, he needs to set the tone, and the proper tone for a winning team with a tradition like the Yankees is the high road. That kid's wrist isn't going to heal any faster no matter how much Joe G complains.

As for my biases, I'm a Braves fan. The only Yankee I've ever hated was Jim Leyritz, and that abated in November 1996 (to resurface back in December when he killed that chick, but that's neither here nor there).

Mike said...

Have to disagree with Mr. ShysterBall this time around, although perhaps not for the obvious reasons. I think Girardi WANTS to create some tension between these two teams. The Yankees of the past few years have been a little too passive at times, especially against some of the lesser teams like Tampa (although I think they'll be very competitive this year). Girardi knows this and has been running a tougher camp than his predecessor, pushing his team harder physically and mentally. It's why he was selected over someone like Mattingly, who has a personality more similar to Torre. While I believe Girardi really was unhappy about Tampa bowling over his catcherin Spring Training, I think the better explanation is he's decided to use the incident to push his own team. Suddenly, now, a Tampa-Yankee game is more interesting and the Yankees are not going to take the games for granted. Just my two cents.

Shyster said...

They were 10-8 against the Rays last year, which is the same as their record against Boston and Toronto, two teams for which there was obvious motivation (Boston for obvious reasons, Toronto because of "I've got it" gate).

But you may have a point. My only question is why, if you're trying to instill intensity, do you call out the Rays for an event which, say what you want about it, is the baseball definition of intensity (plowing over the catcher). Wouldn't it be more logical to laud the Rays for their intensity and challenge his team to be like them rather than complain about it for close to a week?

Either way, this is a very veteran-laden team, with team leaders (and a manager) with literally scores of world series rings between them. I question whether there's anyone on that team besides the young three who either need or would respond to that kind of motivation, and given that the young three are pitchers, it's probably misguided in their case as well.

I realize I'm not going to make many converts with this line of reasoning.

Benjamminwithyou said...

Well no because Girardi is coming at it from a point that he doesn't want to see his players get hurt in the 9th inning of a meaningless game. By making such a big stink about it and retaliating he is making it clear that there will be consequences if the Yanks think the play was excessive. To be honest I really don't have much of a problem with the play, but you have to realize that if you're going to barrel over a catcher in that situation there is probably going to be some payback.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

That's weird, I'm not sure why my comment deleted. I'll try again:

Benjammin - I'm not sure what you mean by "in that situation". People keep saying it's only spring training, but for the young guys playing in these games, they're fighting for their jobs. The game itself doesn't count for you or me as fans, or even some of the starters with guaranteed jobs. But you can be sure it counts for a lot of those guys on that field who haven't secured a spot yet. That's why I find it strange that a guy like Girardi would trivialize it like that when he was the type of player who was fighting for his job in Spring Training every year.

But like Shyster, I don't see that I'll be convincing anyone here today.

Mike said...

Benj, I think that's right. The Yankees under Torre did not retalitate that often. It was how Torre managed, and it worked for the type of teams he had for a number of years. The past few seasons the Yankees seemed to lack a bit of fire compared to Torre's earlier teams. I'm not talking about guys like Jeter or A-Rod, who always play hard, but that's not the case for all the players. Even youngsters like Cano and Cabrera seemed to lose focus at points. The team was also out of shape at times, especially at the start of last year. Girardi is not going to let either of those to happen.

Craig, going 10-8 against Boston if fine. These two teams, when healthy, have pretty much played to a draw over the past five seasons. 10-8 against Toronto, another good team, is also not bad. 10-8 against Tampa Bay? Not that good. After the Yankees went 8-11 againt Tampa Bay in 2005, they seemed to play the Rays with greater intensity in '06. In '07, they seemed to slip again, with the Rays playing the Yankees tough. If the Rays had any bullpen they would have had a winning record against the Yankees. Girardi saw that, so I think he's looking for ways to fire up all his troops and to play more as a team and not let down against any team, especially Tampa, which will be even tougher in '08. One way to do that is to create an enemy. Tampa Bay is now the enemy when the two teams play. You're right, the Yankees are veterans, and it's clear they can use a kick in the butt. Abreu, Damon, Giambi are all veterans, and they all were in poor shape last year, at least at the start. Girardi reached out to all three of them in the offseason to ensure they showed up in shape.

Also, even if Girardi understood that the the collision at home plate was most likely caused by two kids trying to show their stuff, there is no way he'd say that. His catcher has a broken wrist on a play that some players view as questionable. And let's say that Girardi did tell his players at the start of ST to avoid contact, as he claims he did. He has no choice but to criticize Maddon and the Rays. To do anything less would cause him to lose the respect of his players. As a new manager, he's going to let that happen.

I don't want to read too much into the incidents between these two teams, but I do have a feeling this is more about Maddon and Girardi setting the right frame of mind for their teams in 2008. It's going to be a battle.