Much Ado About the Yankees

If we know anything about baseball we know things can change very quickly. We also know the baseball season is very long and what happens in the middle of the season has very little to do with where a team will be at the end.

We are not even at the All-Star Break, the unoffical halfway mark of the season, and I got the feeling critics, fans and media alike will be freaking out about the Yankees getting swept by the Red Sox. How long does someone have to watch baseball to know its a marathon, not a sprint?

If you say that the problems the Yankees exhibited in this past Boston series will show up in the playoffs, then obviously you dont know the Yankees and how they operate. Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and the powers that be will not sit on their hands for the rest of the regular season. If there is a problem, the Yankees management will try their hardest to resolve it. Joba Chamberlain being out for the rest of the season will not destroy the Yankees' playoff chances. They will simply find someone to fill his spot.

My guess is the sports pundits know all this but freak out anyway because, let's face it, freaking out nowadays is more popular. Radio and television talk show hosts as well as reporters need to freak out to garner attention. There's alot of competition out there and the winning sentiment is "he who makes a bigger fuss gets the most attention."

It's just irksome to long time baseball fanatics to listen or read or watch the so-called experts get it wrong again and again. There is no need to freak out this early in the season. Anyway what's so interesting about someone hemming and hawing over something that's clearly no big deal? It's just annoying and insults the baseball viewers' intelligence. People in the media know they are appealing to sports fans who know what's up and yet they create stories where there are none.

Let's take the high road for once and stick to what happens on the field. It would be more helpful if the sports media would point out the mistakes a team makes and how a team can improve. Sounds boring, huh? That's why during games, announcers have the propensity to put you to sleep. That explains why, on the other hand, we get screaming lunatics who claim they can see into a team's future based on past performance and who rant and rave in a desperate attempt to get our attention.

The truth is, a team's past performance has very little to do with how it performs in the future, even if the future is only a few months away. Yankee fans have no need to worry and the media doesn't need to scare us into paying attention to them.

Is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

Andy Pettitte is one of my favorite athletes of all time.

I was truly saddened to hear that he was retiring - saddened by the fact that I will never get a chance to see him pitch again, and saddened by the fact that a 350-pound Hispanic gorilla now has a significant chance at gaining a spot in the Yankees rotation.

A question that I keep hearing is, “Does he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?”

To me, this one really is a no-brainer.

Pettitte does NOT deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, and it really shouldn’t be that much of a discussion. Pettitte had a very nice, long career. He was a good pitcher for a very long time on some great teams.

I don’t have a vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Shocking, I know.

But to me, the two main criteria that a Hall of Famer should meet:

1. A dominant player for an extended period of time (at least six years).

2. At one point or another, was in the discussion for “best player at his position”(although there are exceptions to this one).

Notice that I didn’t include something along the lines of “won a championship”. Here’s why (this might shock and offend some); championships are won by TEAMS. Let that soak in for a minute.

Winning championships is always the ultimate goal in sports. Every team is ultimately evaluated by the amount of championships they win, and that’s the way it should be. But how is it fair to judge a player based on the performance of 24 other guys?

Postseason performance should absolutely be a factor, and Andy Pettitte certainly was a great postseason performer. But I really am sick of hearing “five-time champion” as part of his “Hall of Fame credentials”.

Andy Pettitte is not a heavy weight boxer, he did not go out and knock somebody out in a pay-per-view classic. Was he an integral part of the championship teams? Absolutely.

But the key words there are “part” and “team”. The Hall of Fame inducts players as individuals, and Pettitte should not be rewarded for being on a great team when being evaluated as a candidate.

As far as the criteria I do have listed, does Pettitte meet either of them?

“A dominant player for an extended period of time.” Pettitte had a couple of great seasons, but he finished in the top three of Cy Young voting just once. For the most part, Pettitte’s ERA hovered in the high three to low four range, hardly what I’d call dominant.

“At one point or another, was in the discussion for ‘best player at his position’”. At no point in his career was Pettitte anywhere near this discussion, and if you think otherwise you are sadly mistaken.

As for there being an exception to this rule - if there is a truly dominant player that will always be the best at his position, then the other players at that position obviously won’t be in the discussion for “best at his position” because there simply is no discussion, i.e – Ken Griffey Jr. in the 90’s and Albert Pujols right now.

For the record, saying a player doesn’t deserve to make the Hall of Fame is not a criticism. Andy Pettitte had a great career as a durable and very reliable pitcher. He pitched 200 innings in 10 out of 16 seasons, a truly impressive feat in the age of the glass-armed pitcher.

But when I think Hall of Famer, I think Albert Pujols. I think Randy Johnson. I think Ken Griffey Jr. I think Kaz Matsui.

If someone were to ask you if one of these guys deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, would you even hesitate to say yes?

Another thing I’ve heard and read is “Well, if Bert Blyleven got in, Pettitte should definitely get in!” There are so many things that are wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin, but I have to begin somewhere so here it is.

I hate that players such as Bert Blyleven and Andre Dawson are in the Hall of Fame.

Nothing against them personally, they were both very good players at one point or another. But a player should not be inducted just because he stuck around for long enough to compile big career numbers.

Next, can I just point out how insanely idiotic the philosophy of “Well, we made a mistake with this guy, so let’s reward somebody else for making that mistake and giving him something he clearly doesn’t deserve!” Bert Blyleven has no business being in the Hall of Fame. The voters royally screwed that one up. Andy Pettitte is certainly less unqualified (wow that sounds dumb) than Bert Blyleven. But this simply does not equate to Andy Pettitte being a Hall of Famer.

If Pettitte were to be elected on this premise, I guess you’d simply have to make a “Law of Bert” for the Hall of Fame. “Is he better than Bert? He is? He’s got my vote.”

Just to beat a dead horse even more, and God knows how much fun it is to beat a dead horse, lets relate this to something outside of sports (and if you’ve ever read any of my other dry-humor laced (the type of dry-humor that makes you ask yourself, “is he kidding or does he have some form of aspergers?”) articles, you know I love doing that). And yes, I just used parenthesis inside of a parenthesized statement, piss off.

Let’s say a guy kills his wife. It’s blatantly obvious to everyone that he did it. However, when he gets to court, there is slightly less evidence against him than there was against O.J Simpson when he (allegedly) murdered his wife. Would it be okay to rule this guy innocent?

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How long before this jackass acknowledges that he was kidding about Kaz Matsui?” Well, there ya go.

But more importantly, you’re probably thinking, “Did you really just compare the Hall of Fame induction process to a hypothetical homicide trial?”

Trust me, it made sense when I first thought of it.

A True Gentleman, Yankee and Family Man

It has bee a while since I last posted on the Yankees, actually there is not much to discuss, the passing of GMS 3rd, has left the Yankees, somewhat boring to a degree, at least for me a life long devotee.

The Jeter thing leaves me cold, there have not been any exciting signings, keeping Joba is, at least to me foolish, hell send him to Milwaukee,, then watch him flourish and them win HUGE, which would be GREAT for the game and that wonderful town/city Milwaukee. Signing Soriano is good, he the potential to be the closer of the future,, if he can handle the allure of the Greatest City on the Planet. Brian Cashman is being silly with his now open minded opinions, and Mr. Steinbrenners boy's, are proving to be just that, although one seems more in control and sane than the other..

Putting your eggs in one Cliff Lee basket was a fools pla, especially not truly knowing what Andy was going to do. But True to his Faith, Family and himself, he choose Family. Sad for Yankee fans, but a MAN'S CHOICE..He like Cliff Lee proved it was not about the money or the fame, it was about comfort and happiness, and as a Father of a Most Wonderful Young Man would make the same choice.

Friday Andy will retire from Major League Baseball,,for now, his concentration will be that of being Husband, Father and a man at Peace with his life, career and accomplishments...They are truly amazing if you just take a moment and look.

A purely faith based man with enormous integrity and devotion, Andy leaves a hole yes, but a legacy of Truth, Sincerity, Honesty and Dignity, outstanding craftsmanship and a Hall of Fame Career as both a Player, but most importantly as a Human Being.

Today's kids can look upon Andy with joy, pride and a STRONG VALUE, to them as a role model, athlete and Human Being. His love of God and Family is not for sale, for show, or anything commercial. It is just that Truth and Integrity, discipline, accomplishment, loyalty, love and the essence of the word TEAM MATE.

His legendary arm will surely be missed, his smile and humility as well, but Andy leaves the game ON TOP with a resume that one can only dream of:)

#46 will hang in Monument Park for future generations to see, and talk about, but for those of us who had the privilege of "seeing him in person", well that is in itself a lasting ongoing gift.

I/We will miss Andy and all he has brought, given and dedicated himself too. We have been blessed by his sharing himself with us to cheer for, occasionally boo, but always hoping and praying that he would again, pull us out of the woods.

Andy, stay home,just be Dad and a Husband, but first: thank you for the joy, the pleasure and the gifts that you have bestowed on the name New York Yankees, your fans and especially our Children.

You will miss the guys, as they will miss you, you will miss the moments, the Championships, even the heartaches. But now you have the greatest gift of ALL, that of Family with a love that is a never ending series of Championships, and yes some heartaches, along with that never ending wonderment and joy that goes with being pure honest and sincere.....A FAMILY:).

May God bless you, stand by and with you and your family ALWAYS, and Thank you for the sacrifices you made for us, the gifts of Championships, Lessons in Integrity and Truth. Now it is your Family's turn to have you there always as did we and for them and yourself to have what you gave to use so freely and lovingly. I will miss you, but a joyful at your decision for you, you wife but especially your children... Be at Peace, Stay safe, but stay in touch:)

Soriano Securing Bridge to Mariano By: Lauren Pogulis

The Yankees officially introduced Rafael Soriano to pinstripes on Wednesday in hopes of providing their bullpen a much-needed boost. The Yanks have been the odd-man out this offseason, losing a couple key free agents to other teams, most notably Cliff Lee to the Phillies, and Carl Crawford to the Red Sox. By signing Soriano, the Yankees have likely secured a lights-out combination of Soriano in the 8th inning, and Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning.

Soriano signed a three year contract worth $35 million; however, he does have an opt-out clause after the 2011 and 2012 season, which gives him the opportunity to test the free agent market again if he is unhappy in New York. He will earn $10 million for the 2011 season, with an additional $1.5 million if he opts out; $11 million in the second year, with an opt-out payment of $1.5 million; and $14 million for the 2013 season.

Soriano has been great throughout his career, and had a stellar year in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays as their closer. He converted 45 out of 48 save opportunities, good for a 94% success rate. He also posted a 1.73 ERA, while striking out 57 batters in 62 1/3 innings last year. It seems evident that he will be a terrific addition to the Yankee bullpen.

Many reporters and fans wondered if the Yankees would be able to acquire Soriano because of the fact that he would not be a closer with the Yankees. However, Soriano answered these questions in his press conference, by saying, through a translator, “I know people will find this strange, but I'm very happy to be close to one of the greatest closers in Mariano Rivera. Hopefully in the future I will, after being a setup man, be the closer, too.” He brings up a valid point, in that he could be Rivera’s successor as closer of the New York Yankees. Mariano signed a two year contract earlier this offseason, whereas Soriano, if he decides to not opt-out of his contract, signed a three year deal with the Yanks, leaving Soriano as the likely potential recipient of the closer role when Rivera’s contract expires after the 2012 season.

This particular signing by the Yankees is probably their best one thus far this winter. The Red Sox have an extremely formidable lineup and starting rotation, and by the Yankees signing Soriano, it seems as though opponents will be facing a 6-7 inning game with Soriano and Rivera closing out games.

The Yankees, although they didn’t make their usual splash in the free agent pool, look to be putting together an impressive team anyway. Look for the Yanks to continue putting the pieces together, as they are extremely optimistic about the upcoming season.

Follow me on twitter @Laurpogulis

Yankees Mix blog featured writers Keith Cousin, Joel DiTata, Richard Gonyeau
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