Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Lightning 11.8.2009

  • McCarver's stereotypes:

It goes without saying that the game has passed Tim McCarver by so completely that he not only shouldn't be the number one analyst any longer, but he'd be better served as something of a "broadcaster emeritus " providing occasional commentary as a guest in studio. His shtick and oft-repeated riffs----"speed slows down the game", etc----have grown so tiresome that no one's listening anymore other than to tear into his screw-ups.

Years ago, McCarver was the best. He was opinionated; he was smart; and he was fearless. Refusing to let player/team allegiance affect his analysis to any great degree, he was a great listen and an interesting character. The problem is that his time as the go-to guy ended in the late 90s. He's become a running joke, maintained as the top analyst because no one seems willing to put him out to pasture and replace him with new and better blood.

The generic, "homer" style broadcaster was predominant when McCarver rose to prominence in the 80s with the Mets, but it was the John Madden, McCarver-type----men who'd been intimately involved in their respective games and were able to explain the action without being condescending or dull----that changed things. His candor got him into trouble with players, fans and eventually his bosses, but McCarver did his thing, saying what he believed. The issue now is whether his beliefs are applicable; if he's become too comfortable and arrogant to do even the tiniest amount of research to avoid this evolution into an antiquated fool.

His cliches have become exhausted; his knowledge spotty; and the wear on his act is too evident to ignore. It's fine to make mistakes on minute subjects that only the most die-hard fans of a team would know, but when the errors are combined with lame stereotypes that he says again and again with enough of a time-frame between them that he should've been corrected, you have to wonder if hubris and age have entered the equation until his mere presence is untenable for broadcasting credibility.

What would you think if McCarver said something to the tune of: "The only way I see Jason Marquis leaving the Rockies is if he has the chance to go to Boston to play with Kevin Youkilis because they're both Jews;"? Or: "The Angels would be a good spot for Jermaine Dye; they have enough black guys to make him comfortable;"?

Sound ridiculous?

Of course.

But such was the essence of the stereotypical comments he made about Hideki Matsui not wanting to the leave the Yankees unless he received the opportunity to play with the Mariners to be a teammate of Ichiro Suzuki.

First of all, the sheer absurdity of a professional athlete making a business decision on where to play based on being near another player is ridiculous on the surface. Has McCarver forgotten his playing days to that degree? Are Ichiro and Mastui Brokeback buddies in which they're willing to sacrifice anything and everything to be near each other? And why? What would the motivation be for Matsui to leave the world champions to go to a rebuilding club like the Mariners whose playoff chances are limited at best?

Then we get to the well-known fact that Hideki Matsui and Ichiro are not friends. There are conflicting stories of their relationship that run the gamut from the two hating each other, to having a frosty relationship, to being cordial but distant. Because they're both Japanese is a stupid reason to think that they'd want to play together; then add in the well-documented tension between them and it's nonsense.

If you look at the two players, it's obvious why they don't get along and are better off being on separate coasts. Matsui is a team guy; popular and respected in the clubhouse for his on and off-field persona and playing style. Ichiro is a diva; he plays for his numbers and is the epitome of the, "I got my three hits, what else can I do?" type of player who equates his stats with helping the team. Contrary to burgeoning belief, many times numbers are the last thing necessary to accurately boil the game down to success or failure. I don't care how many hits Ichiro gets in a season; how many Gold Gloves he wins; at crunch time, I'd rather have Matsui 100% of the time.

Did anyone correct McCarver after he came up with this garbage early in the series? And if they did, why did he say it again late in the series?

In case the people at Fox are still missing this reality, do the unjustified McCarver-ego and ever-increasing lapses have to continue unabated until he becomes more of a laughingstock than he is now? How much longer are they planning to move forward with him based on what he was rather than what he is?

It's time to pull the plug on Tim McCarver once and for all. Not only has the game passed him by, but reality and society has too. It's enough.

  • What is there to be ashamed of?

Bill Madden writes of the Yankees World Series win in his latest column and mentions Brian Cashman's apparent shame at the team spending all they can in order to win:

Believe it, Cashman is embarrassed as anyone over the Yankees' bloated payroll and equally sensitive to the recurring charges that he merely bought a world championship. Just read between the lines of what he said amid the on-field euphoria after Wednesday night's Game 6 clincher: "I'm glad we were able to finish what we started. It's not like you can make something instantly. It takes a process. You had major free-agent additions that cost a lot of money. You had some trades sprinkled in that helped in a big way. Then you had a lot of homegrown guys, old and new, that led us here. That involves a lot of people, player development people that finish off what the scouts bring."

This all comes back to my question of why Cashman has to be embarrassed unless his main goal is to garner credit for himself. I've said it over again: what difference does it make to Brian Cashman if he uses the Yankees resources to pay for what they need and win because of money? It's not his money; it's not going to be his money if he saves it; what does he care?

If Cashman came out and said, "Look, we spent on pitching----both starters and relievers----in the early part of this decade; we traded for Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown; we signed Jason Giambi; and we betrayed what it was that built the dynasty of the late 90s and it didn't work. In an effort to keep on winning and winning, we ignored the farm system in favor of the biggest names when it was Gene Michael who rebuilt the decimated farm system with the likes of Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. We developed them and gave them a chance to play. The star-studded teams failed; the cohesive unit of personalities and moderate stars that fit into the puzzle was what made those teams. I'm not going down the spend-spend-spend road again. It's not about money or credit; it's about winning."

Instead we get a man almost ashen because he flung money at all the club's holes in the winter of 2008-2009 and won another World Series. This to me is just as bad as the reluctance to spend money to be credited as a Billy Beane/Theo Epstein-style genius. Would Cashman be able to build a team similarly to the way the Marlins do? I doubt it, but he doesn't have to. Why save the money? What's the difference to him?

One of the major problems with the stat zombie movement is that it's got nothing to do with being better than the other guy; it's got to do with being able to crow and strut about how they achieved their ends----the "I want credit" brigade is added to the fallacy of Moneyball. It's so totally misplaced that it's a parody of itself.

To try and build a team scrimping and saving when the money's available and waiting to be spent is just as much of a groundless, blind and self-serving objective as flinging the money is to begin with. What's there to be ashamed of aside from wanting to be seen as a "genius"? Cashman wants credit and recognition that the sheer nature of his job will preclude him from receiving. Can he accept it and move on please? It's not going to happen. He's the GM of the Yankees. Use the tools----including money----that come along with it and stop whining.

  • Viewer Mail 11.8.2009:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes:

I have a question. Do the GM meetings really start next week? I thought they were in Dec, but maybe I'm thinking of the "Winter Meetings." What's the difference, btw?

I Yahoo'd "MLB GM meetings" and nothing of value popped up. I'll assume they are having the GM meetings so soon after the World Series in anticipation of the full-blown winter meetings next month. It may seem like it's a quick turnaround especially since the World Series just ended, but if you think about it, the teams that missed the playoffs have been off for over a month now; and the dispatched playoff teams for a couple of weeks.

The GM meetings are more or less a get-together to start laying the foundation for major moves at the winter meetings. They'll let other teams know who's available (especially players who may be non-tendered to see if they can get something for them before pulling the trigger on letting them go for nothing) and try to start exchanging names and get the pieces in place for deals. Naturally, like sex on the first date, deals just happen before anyone can get over the rush of negotiation. A couple of things might happen at the GM meetings.

The winter meetings have become a full-blown cluster fuck. The media is all over the place and, in some cases, pressuring the weaker-minded GMs into doing something for the sake of doing it rather than what's good for their clubs. Making a deal for any reason other than the deal itself is generally a mistake, and you can expect certain baseball people to do some remarkably stupid things in the coming weeks.

Like the sunrise and sunset, if you've seen an event happen every day without fail, you come to expect it. That's where I am with the brainlock prevalent in a chunk of the people who are allowed to run major league baseball teams. I have faith. It's not necessarily good to have that faith, but it is what it is and I stand by it.

I'm a pragmatist.


She-Fan said...

So I shouldn't expect to hear about Roy Halladay going to Boston at the GM meetings next week but it's possible. I'll prepare myself accordingly.

Jeff said...

*Cue the sarcasm* Those GM meetings sound like a real blast! The NHL is holding their GM meetings next week I believe, during the season. Why not try that, MLB?

Best line: "Are Ichiro and Mastui Brokeback buddies in which they're willing to sacrifice anything and everything to be near each other?"

Let's hope not. But if they are, who wouldn't pay to see that!?!

Finally, on Tim McCarver... what you said needed to be said. I agree. Baseball for Brain Surgeons, McCarver's book, rests prominently on my coffee table. It's a fascinating book I recommend to any baseball nut; but you're right, that knowledge has morphed into blind blabberings in recent years. I wish you would've mentioned the worst part of McCarver's situation: that he is stationed alongside Joe Buck. I cannot stand listening to Joe Buck anymore -- way worse than McCarver in my opinion. FOX Sports is run much like FOX News wherein any old piece of shit with an opinion will do.