Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fallout From The Baby Boss And Other Stories

  • Hank Steinbrenner's perceived towel-toss and the fallout:
There's been a strong reaction to the perception that Hank Steinbrenner is, at the very least, giving his players an excuse for not making the playoffs. I said yesterday that I don't
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think it was an attempt by the Hank to give his players an alibi as much it was to give himself an alibi. Even as his father becomes less lucid and aware of the state of his team, there will always be the spectre of the demanding George M. Steinbrenner III hovering, barking, challenging and belittling his sons to win, win, win. If they don't, there has to be an reason even if it's absurd and nonsensical. They need it for themselves more than anyone else.
Mike Francesa went into it in depth during Mike and the Mad Dog implying that Hank was telling the players that it was okay if they didn't make the playoffs this year----Thoughts On Hank. I don't see it the way Francesa does in that I don't believe the players pay much attention to Hank one way or the other. If it were a predominately young corps of players, then maybe they'd think it was acceptable to let up a bit because if the owner isn't going to be angry about the team not making the playoffs, then what's the big deal if they fall short? But the Yankees have guys like Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera who have never, ever missed the playoffs in their entire big league careers; and Andy Pettitte who only missed the playoffs
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once, and that was with the Astros; there are veterans like Mike Mussina who wouldn't see it as acceptable if one of his last chances to win a World Series was ruined by such an attitude as well.
The idea that the owner making such statements compromises the chance for a comeback by planting the seed into the heads of the players is hard to reconcile because there are very few owners who are so open with their feelings as Hank is. How many owners are even visible enough to say something like this? There are owners who people know like Fred Wilpon, Tom Hicks, Jerry Reinsdorf and Frank McCourt, but none make the type of off-the-wall proclamations that Hank does and he hasn't yet followed through on his threats; he says things, is assuaged and they sort of disappear without frantic reaction from Brian Cashman and his staff.
While it may not have been the smartest thing in the world for Hank to say these things, it isn't going to be a deciding factor for the Yankees making or not making the playoffs; no one pays him much attention anyway because he doesn't know what he's talking about and his bloviating is just a way to let off steam and quiet that voice that must be entrenched in his ear
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asking why the team is faltering.
  • Brewers 7-Padres 1:
C.C. Sabathia wins his seventh game for the Brewers without a loss. Cha-ching!
  • Rockies 6-Diamondbacks 5; Dodgers 7-Phillies 6:
The Diamondbacks have done everything they could possibly do to wake the team from the slumber that has dropped them from a high of 21-9 after 30 games, and 40-50 since. They were having trouble in the bullpen, they acquired Jon Rauch for far less than one would think required to get such an established and
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versatile reliever; they needed power bats and, while whiffing on Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira, acquired the respected Tony Clark and a pure slugger in Adam Dunn; and they're still stumbling along. Other than unfairly firing manager Bob Melvin to try and wake the team up, I can't think of anything else for them to do, but with the way they're playing and the way they're going for it this year, they might have to consider the drastic action to try and save the season.
The Dodgers on the other hand have been allowed to hang around and the Joe Torre late-season magic is beginning to work. The additions of Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez have helped of course, as will the return from injury of the likes of Brad Penny
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and possibly Takashi Saito, but the Dodgers have a better feel than the Diamondbacks do at the moment and part of that is due to the resume and cachet carried by their manager. The Diamondbacks have let the Dodgers stay within striking distance and more when they could have buried them; with each passing day the Dodgers get healthy, improve and gain momentum and the Diamondbacks continue rotating on the treadmill like a hamster.
One note about the Phillies: as I mentioned the other day, there's a bad vibe about them that's hard to pinpoint, but they, like the Diamondbacks, have made a series of deals that have gutted the farm system and they're not working; the Mets have pretty much stood pat and are getting feel-good stories from the likes of Fernando Tatis. It's always a bad idea not to bury a team when the opportunity is presented and I'm getting the idea that Brad Lidge is in worse shape than is being let on.
  • Cardinals 6-Marlins 4; desperation yields a closer?
Just when it looked as if Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was coming close to calling Rick Ankiel in from center field to try and close games in a return to the mound (that's a joke), desperation and the repeated failures of his veterans has led him to using 22-year-old Chris Perez in the role and he's getting job done. Perez is a little wild, but he strikes out a batter an inning and a save is a save is a save; after watching Ryan Franklin, Jason Isringhausen, et al blow game-after-game, at least they've got someone doing to job for the moment.

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