Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Looking for Scapegoats in New York

Newsday's Wallace Matthews lays into the Yankees for their treatment of Joe Torre last year and notes just how lucky Torre is to be out of New York:

Today, Torre's Dodgers sit atop the NL West in a first-place tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And in the Bronx, Joe Girardi -- New Joe -- struggles to find a way to keep his $209-million roster alive in August, let alone October. In one sense, it is clear the Yankees owe Torre an apology, because clearly, he wasn't the problem with this team last year any more than Girardi is the problem with it this year. In another sense, it is Torre who owes a hearty thank you to the Yankees, for showing him the way to the door just before the roof fell in on the rest of them.
Probably worth mentioning that (a) the Yankees, for all of their problems, still have a better record than the Dodgers, playing in a tougher division in a tougher league; and (b) I can't think of a single thing that Joe Torre would have done better in New York than Girardi has while I can think of many things worse.

Why is it so hard for some New York writers to simply accept that age, injuries, and a busted bet on a couple of young starters are the reason for the Yankees' troubles this season? There is no villain here. It's the ups and downs of baseball, finally coming to the Bronx as they do all other teams. I suppose that's less sexy of a story, but it's at least an accurate one.


Christopher D. Heer said...

Also, the fact that Tampa is significantly better this year plays a part, I expect.

Columnists in newspapers have no incentive to report the mundane-but-accurate, and every incentive to report the sexy-but-inaccurate. It's axiomatic.

Ken Dynamo said...

hah, wallace matthews, he's one of those sports writers who is all about the 'as long as people are responding to my column, positively or negatively, im doing something right'. he is awful, to the point of self parody.

he basically exists so that new yorkers who get the daily news can flip thru the sports section, read the headline and two sentences of his article and then say out loud 'can you believe these friggin guys?' and then say 'the yankees suck' to the guy next to him.

he's even worse on the mets. i really thing he enjoys it when new york teams do poorly.

The Common Man said...

Christopher's absolutely right. How many papers would the headline "Let's all calm down and not panic" sell?

I think that, if you were able to talk to the press privately, most of them would admit to understanding the success cycle and the Yankees' place on it. And that they would genuinely trade an off season this year (and maybe next year) for another run they had in the late 90s a year or so down the road.

Actually, this brings up an interesting question for me. As bloggers such as yourself, Shyster, take up a greater and greater share of the traditional media outlets, aren't they somewhat encouraged to become more outrageous in an effort to attract more readers and hold on to their jobs (as more the unemployed reporter pool grows ever larger)? Is this, in part, a result of your success?

Craig Calcaterra said...

TCM -- I think all competition, whether it be from bloggers or talk radio or Around The Horn, or whatever affect these guys. and now that I think about it, I believe the latter two to be a way bigger deal. Writers talk about "bloggers" all the time as a shorthand for competition, but the fact is many millions more eyes and ears are drawn by the shout fests on cable and radio. I don't know about Matthews personally, but I can totally feature writers trying to come off as in-your-face as a means of auditioning for Around the Horn.

Pete Toms said...

You're preachin to the choir here too Craig, both in general and the Yanks in particular.

A staple of sports talk, amongst friends, on the radio, on the web, on TV....and this has been a constant in the 40 years or so that I've been a fan of something....is that "our" team would be better if management / coach was smart enough to do whatever. In other words, if they were as astute as us. It's very populist and teams manipulate it by hiring and firing coaches / managers to persuade their customers that it will be different next year because of it....your last paragraph is bang on, sometimes it's simply "...age, injuries, and a busted bet on a couple of young starters..."

As for the Yanks, I thought Neyer was bang on recently about the Yanks. The new stadium is gonna be a huge cash cow and they can, will and should spend whatever it takes to be an elite team.

However...will/is/has the continually diminishing number of quality FAs negate some of the Yanks ability to buy superior players?

Finally, anybody notice that the Yanks are near the bottom of bonus $$$ doled out in the most recent Rule IV? I know they didn't sign their 1st rounder, but still.....who's doing is this? I can't see it being Cashman, what GM does not want to be a big spender in the draft?

James K. said...

Wallace Matthews is a brutal sportswriter. He often devotes entire columns to personal attacks against anyone in the sports world. My favorite was an old one where he ripped on Tim Wakefield essentially cause Matthews didn't like him or the knuckleball in general.

Newsday has some great sportswriters (see Ken Davidoff, David Lennon, Shaun Powell) but Matthews is unbearable.

Matt said...

Not signing your 1st rounder must have a huge impact on the money spent--greater than 30%. I would say there's nothing more to look at there. I don't know the numbers, but what happens if you add $3 million to it? Do they jump up to the top of the list?

And yes, the quality of the free agents, thanks to the increased intelligence of GMs around the league who have signed their young stars through those first few years of free agency (when they are really valuable), will make it very hard for the Yankees to catch up to the Red Sox anytime soon. The Yankees' system is good, but whereas Bucholz, Lester, Masterson et al have hit the league running, only Joba got out of the blocks at all.