Welcome to my Christmas Song. I want to thank you for the year.
- Elton John
If you replace “song” with “blog,” then we’re really cooking. I was going to start things off with "so it’s cool to look real bummy, be a dumb dummy, and disrespect your mummy"…by Slick Rick, but it was truly was apropos of nothing. The Magic Man, aka Fordo, spun Hey Young World at my Christmas Party the other night, and I forgot just what a crazy b*stard Slick Rick was, as those lyrics articulate pretty well, I think.
So anyway, I don’t even where to start. Talk about being wildly out of practice. This is what happens when you sit around goofing off for two months. I told you guys I’m the laziest guy in America. The missus is at her friend Irene’s house tonight, the annual Kris Kringle get-together for her crew. Acc and I got a semi-earful last Saturday night at my Christmas party from Irene’s husband Igor (yup – now you know somebody named Igor) and Brooklyn’s own Mike Dantone about not getting an invitation to Wifflemania this year. Since I’m still stinging from that walk-off bomb that Slim Richie hit off me, I wasn’t really ready to discuss it. But I think Acc ironed everything out. So anyway, Since the Knicks game just ended, and I just got the call from Big Joe (father-in-law), who was at the game with my brother-in-law and is just as amazed as I am that the Knicks have a winning streak that doesn’t rhyme with boo (two), I have some time to kill. Which brings us to the Christmas edition of the BPS. Good to be back.
So let’s get to first things first. The post-script on the 2006 season. Well, I think baseball fans who don’t root for the Yankees learned an extremely valuable lesson this past October. Certainly Mets fans learned it most painfully. And that is this – the best team doesn’t always win. It’s so simple, and yet it is so easy to forget, or more likely, ignore. It somehow seems noble and politically correct to people that they insist that the team that won is the best team, but that doesn’t make it the least bit correct. Nobody, but nobody, saw the St. Louis Cardinals coming. It just goes to show you – the way the playoffs are structured these days, it’s not which team is the best, it’s which team strings together the right games. As the World Series began, the airwaves and newspapers were loaded with pundits talking about it should have been obvious to everyone that the Tigers would win the pennant, because of reasons a,b,c, etc. Then they got thumped by the – yes, St. Louis Cardinals. Anyone want to take a crack at why it should have obvious to anyone that the Cardinals would end up World Champs?
Here’s the truth. The Tigers strung together a few great games at exactly the right time. Only it wasn’t enough. The idea that the Tigers pitching was so dominating that the Yankees never had a chance is pure folly. The idea that the Tigers pitchers really knew how to “bear down when it counted the most” is also pure folly. The Tigers desperately needed to win games the last weekend of the season to avoid missing the playoffs entirely, and they couldn’t do it. They barely made it Bonderman blew a six run lead in those last few games, and that marvelous cheater Kenny Rogers couldn’t hang on for the save. Fast forward a week and a half and those two guys went out and pitched the games of their lives. Kenny Rogers and his good friends – pine and tar – were able to turn in a career performance. Were the 13 seasons of futility against the Yankees that preceded that performance designed by Kenny on purpose just to make that moment more dramatic? No. He just s*cked for 13 years. But this one time he happened to be on point. And as for Mr. Bonderman, well, that one was even more remarkable. Last seen at the end of the season desperately trying (and failing) to buy a win to keep his team in the playoffs, he simply went out against the Yankees and threw a total of seven balls out of the strike zone in the first five innings. Seven. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of that before. It is as amazing as it sounds. And do you know what happens to your team when the other pitcher is only throwing seven balls in five innings? You lose. Pretty much every time. So the Tigers got those two games and just needed one other game. And that’s what the five game series will do to you. And then none of those guys could hang on to their magic against the Cardinals, who vanquished a very weak National League, particularly the poor Mets, who ended up having to start my mom and my sister in the playoffs because of all the injuries. So all the Cards needed to do was hang on against the Mets and then get hot for a few games in the World Series. And do you know what? That’s just what they did. So what does it all mean? Well, just this. It happens, boys. In this day and age the best team doesn’t always win. The Yankees had the best record in baseball over 162 games, and as I’ve always said, that’s the only real measure of who had the best team. Not that it matters. If the Tigers had won the series there would be a million Detroit area- voices rising up in protest to that, but the fact that the Cardinals won, with their barely-over-.500 record, makes it a pretty easy one for everybody to admit. Not to take anything away from the Cards. That’s the system these days, and they pulled it off.
So what does it mean for the Yanks? The same thing it always means. Don’t panic. Don’t try to grasp and clutch for reasons why they lost – their starting pitching wasn’t strong enough, their bats weren’t “clutch,” etc. Please. Sometimes, most of the time, in fact, you won’t win the World Series. It happens. You can put any all-star team you want out there, it will never ever guarantee a win. That’s why you play. You can only put the best team possible out there and hope for the best.
So what’s next? Mr. Pettitte, aka Mikey Rumble’s older brother, is back. Better than a lot of the other alternatives, I think. Not sure what to make of the new Japanese guy. Time will tell. Wang, Moose, Pettitte, Randall, new guy. Okay. I’m in. I don’t love a lot of the other trade talk I’ve heard lately. I’m never a big believer in getting relievers, as you guys know. Relievers are relievers for a reason. They are very up and down. One season they look great, the next season they are throwing batting practice. They are never worth decent everyday players, in my opinion. Unless they are a proven, long-term closer. And even then…
So that’s it for that. I’ll leave the hot stove stuff to everybody else. As I’ve said, for a guy who is obsessed with this stuff from April to October, I am surprisingly apathetic in the off-season. I’m more of a pick-up-the-paper-in-the-last-week-of-March-and-see-what-I’ve-got-to-work-with type of guy. This time of year I’m just sitting around watching whatever the missus has on. It gets weird sometimes. I’m not going to lie to you.
So that’s it, boys. Merry Christmas everybody. Grossman, Happy Hanukkah.