Tony Sherry just called me. It’s Saturday night and the Mrs. is at her friend Geraldine’s house with her whole crew having some sort of cooking party. I was watching college football for most of the day (I’m not a big college football fan) so I just walked down to Starbucks on third ave for a Chai (I still don’t apologize for that). I was just trying to get out of the house, really. I also stopped at the bank machine to get Big Joe the rest of the cake I owe him for our Monday Night Football box. The Christmas decorations are already up on the streets in bay ridge. A bit early for some, but not for me. I’m a big Christmas guy. Anyway, I told Tony I was putting a post on the BPS for the first time in forever. “Really?” he says, “Put this down – I’m so bombed I can’t see my own vinegar – and that’s a quote!” What does it mean? Who knows. You learn not to ask with him. Like the other day when he called me at work. He was trying to enlist me for lunch, already having Mikey Rumble on board. I wasn’t there, but he starts his voicemail telling me he’d been chanting “four more years” all day. I didn’t get it. But again, the trick with Tony Sherry is to try not to overanalyze anything he says. The kid is just out of his crown enough to create entire sentences with non-sensical words in no particular order. But then it dawned on me. His favorite Yankee, The Ferocious Lion, had just been signed to a four year deal. This time, the kid was making sense.
I’m not much of a hot stove guy. Never was. It can be interesting sometimes, but I’d just as soon pick up the paper a week before the season starts and see what I have to root for. But there are a couple of pertinent things going on regarding the players, coaches, and front office, so I confess I have been casting a glance out of the corner of my eye.
I thought it was important to get the Lion back on board. So that’s done. I was a bit up in the air on this whole Brian Giles pursuit. The idea of sticking a 34 year-old guy in center field makes me a bit nervous. I have looked at his numbers, though, and I have to admit I am a bit surprised. I was under the impression that he was another guy past his prime who would hit 35 bombs, hit .265 and strike out way too many times. Probably because he’s been languishing on some terrible Pirate and Padre teams the last eight seasons, and the only time he would have crossed my radar screen would be the occasional bomb that made Baseball Tonight. The truth is he hasn’t hit more than 35 HRs but three times in his entire career. He has a .300 career average, and he was fourth in the major leagues in on base percentage last year at .423. He walked 119 times in ‘05, and the kicker – he had only 64 Ks. I’m sold. Sign him up. I have a feeling he’s going to be so psyched to be on a contending team that he’ll be a bulldog in the Paul O’Neill mold. High hopes, I know, but a guy can dream, no?
The re-signing of Cashman was conspicuously easy. There are rumors flying all over the papers here in town that The Boss isn’t the same guy he used to be, not as focused let’s say. You really didn’t hear a peep out of him during the post-season, or the post-post-season. Either way, it sounds like Cashman has re-focused the balance of power back to NY from Tamp-a, and has brought prominent Yankee guys like Stick Michael back into the inner circle. I can’t help but think that’s a good thing. Maz is back as the bench coach, no surprise, and Torre has surrounded himself with guys with managerial experience. Bowa, Pena, and Kerrigan, specifically. The one curious move was Gator as pitching coach. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lousian-a Lightning. Ralphie Boy still wears his jersey for all the big games. But the guy has zero experience as pitching coach. So I’ll scratch my head on that one, but hopefully between Gator and Kerrigan, they’ll whip a staff into place.
And of course, Mr. Torre has decided to come back, and the Yankees have decided they want him back. All you really had to do was open your eyes to see that was the right move. Let’s take a look at his Yankee career, and by association the legacy of the Yankees of the last ten years. As expected, I have had to suffer through the usual litany of uninformed, knee-jerk jack*sses with an opinion the last few weeks. On the subway platform at Wall St, some dude two rows behind Sean and me at the Jets game, the local and national media, etc. Rambling on about what a joke the Yankees are that their payroll is so much higher than everyone else’s and they can’t win. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Do any of those people watch baseball? Baseball is a game, with an outcome far from pre-determined. Strange bounces, differing dimensions, and the most unpredictable element of all, the human element – the fallible, streaky, moody, injury-prone, emotional human being. Playing, officiating, and coaching. Anyone who watches and understands the game of baseball knows that there is no amount of money that will guarantee you a World Series win (although the 1919 Black Sox may disagree). What will it get you? If you had to take a guess at a ten-year span with a payroll differential similar to the Yankees, what would you guess in terms of outcomes? What did paying a third more than everybody else in payroll get Joe Torre and his Yankees? How’s this – in ten years, it’s gotten them ten playoff appearances, seven ALDS victories, six American League pennants, and four World Championships. And you know what? That’s about right. In fact, I would say that they actually did a bit better than should be expected. And to get caught up in the fact that their championships were front-loaded is probably silly. If Thome’s shot gets out of Jacob’s field in game four in ’98 (I still don’t know how it didn’t) the Yankees go down 3-1 to the Indians and might not win it all. If Charlie Hayes and Jim Leyritz don’t erase a four run deficit and come back to win game four in Hotlanta in ’96, same deal – down 3-1. If Terrance Long doesn’t misplay Knoblauch’s routine fly to center in Oaklan-d circa 2000 game five, the Yanks don’t make it to the subway series. And believe me; I could go through plenty of “one bounce here, one bounce there” scenarios that would have changed things the last five years as well. Point is, you win some, you lose some. Also holds true for the post-season. Torre said it best in the paper the other day – “All you can do is put your best team on the field.”
Don’t kid yourself. We’re not doing anything differently. I realize we have more thumpers, and it appears we’re going for the big-name older stars over good young talent. Allow me to diffuse that myth here and now. Cecil Fielder, Wade Boggs, Glenallen Hill, David Wells, David Cone, Jose Canseco, Denny Neagle, Kenny Rogers, Roger Clemens. Remember any of those guys? All older, big name guys we picked up in the now-beatified nineties. Let me throw a few more names at you – Weaver, Vazquez, Pavano, Karsay, Wright. The Yankees are trying to focus on good young pitching. The problem is you never know how it’s going to work out. And there’s no way to tell. You just have to hope for the best sometimes. Everybody wants to strengthen the bullpen next year. Good luck. Go find me a great reliever, particularly a great middle reliever, who was a big-time major league prospect. Almost nobody, including the Sandman. Typically those guys come out of nowhere. You want to try B.J. Ryan, go ahead. You just never know.
It’s a shame A-Rod became the only MVP in the history of the league to hear a decidedly ho-hum reaction from his home-town fans. I’m still going to root for him. One of these days he’ll get that playoff monkey off his back in a big way. It’ll come for him. I know it will. And the roar will be loud and long.
Last thing. One of our local boys from the Rock, Kevin Jordan, wrote and directed a new movie that’s in theatres now. We grew up with Kevin, and the Sherry brothers are real tight with the family. If anybody remembers a mid-nineties movie with Sinbad and Phil Hartman called “Houseguest,” Kevin played the daughter’s boyfriend. Anyway, the new movie is called Brooklyn Lobster, and it was shot on location in Brookly-n and the Rock. Kevin’s family has owned and operated Jordan’s Lobster Dock in Brooklyn and Jordan’s Lobster Farm on Long Island for years, and the movie, which stars Danny Aiello and Jane Curtin, is the story of his family, basically. It’s gotten good reviews. And BPS’s very own Tony Sherry has a cameo as the short-order cook in the diner. Max Von Essen, son of former NYC fire commissioner Tom Von Essen, also pops up in a cameo. Some may remember Max singing the national anthem at the stadium before a few World Series games. I encourage you to see it. It’s an entertaining movie.
Been a while, boys. This one was a bit choppy, I confess. I’m a bit out of practice. I love to see that you guys are still bouncing by every once in a while to comment. Good stuff. Happy Thanksgiving.