Yankee Manager Girardi Makes Lemonade
While the World Series title serves as the ultimate vindication for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, I’m still amused by all of the flack he caught in the media for starting A.J. Burnett on short rest in Game 4. What, exactly, were his options? Those who pointed to a three games to one lead as a big enough cushion for Girardi to turn to Chad Gaudin and save A.J. Burnett acted as if starting the $16 million dollar man on three days rest was tantamount to abuse. And what of the ridiculous idea that you can afford to give a game away rather than try to wrap up the title? Burnett’s miserable performance had everything to do with the Phillies getting a second look at him and nothing to do with fatigue. To crticize Girardi for a bad decision is ridiculous. Especially when you realize that he worked his way through three series with just four pitchers on whom he could rely. For $200 million, you’d think he’d have a few more.
Hideki Matsui Wins Series MVP
Have to admit to being slightly amused by Hideki Matsui’s selection as MVP. Not that he was unworthy; just unexpected. While analysts on all fronts spent most of Monday and Tuesday discussing viable candidates for the award, Matsui’s name was never mentioned. Some pointed to Mariano Rivera in the event he saved the clincher, Johnny Damon for his eight hits and whether Chase Utley’s record setting performance would be enough if the Phillies lost. Instead, Matsui stole the show. I guess, that’s why they play the games.
Alex Rodriguez: A True Yankee Yet?
This was after Alex Rodriguez had given the Yankees a first inning lead over the previously unhittable Cliff Lee in Monday’s Game Four. Cheap Seater Frank Marsala wondered how Rodriguez was now regarded by Yankee fans. “Is ARod a true Yankee yet? I’ve always hated that phrase, it’s really stupid.” Stupid, yes, Frank, but the perception, nonetheless. Despite winning two MVP awards in his first four years, Rodriguez has never been embraced by Bombers’ faithful; allegedly due to his continuous failure in the post season. As if all Yankees rise to the occasion in the playoffs. More accurately, fans have kept ARod at arm’s length due to his icy relationship with their poster boy, Derek Jeter. Older fans will remember a similar situation in the seventies when Reggie Jackson was signed. Long before he was crowned Mr. October, Jackson was vilified not only for his feud with beloved manager Billy Martin but for his rant against Thurman Munson, team captain, in which Reggie referred to himself as the “straw that stirs the drink.” Not until that now famous three homer night in the ’77 World Series did Reggie become a fan favorite. So much so, actually, that after returning to Yankee Stadium years later and homering as a member of the Angels, fans serenaded owner George Steinbrenner with an obscene chant for even allowing their hero to sign with California. By then, I guess, Jackson was viewed as a true Yankee.
So, what’s been ARod’s crime? Yes, he did take a swipe at Jeter in a magazine piece a few years ago when he signed with Texas but that was long before he donned pinstripes. It’s not the steroid issue, either, as he had the gorilla on his back for a long time prior to that revelation. Rather, it’s that the fans have followed Jeter’s lead. He has never publicly warmed to the idea of Rodriguez as a teammate so neither have those who worship him. It’s interesting to note that when former Yankee Jeremy Giambi was mired in a year long slump and hearing about it from the stands on a nightly basis, Jeter stepped in and asked that the first baseman be cut a break. However, he has chosen not to whenever ARod has been the target of their wrath. Whatever the reason, lingering anger, resentment or simple dislike, Jeter left ARod to fend for himself when things were bad for the shortstop turned third baseman. Thus, until these playoffs started, Rodriguez has been regarded as an outsider.
Which brings me to this question. If post season success is the barometer for being deemed a “true Yankee”, do we include Luis Sojo but not Don Mattingly? Hmmm. You’re right, Frank. That phrase is really stupid.
Hey ARod. Whattaya Really Think?
There’s no arguing that, given his history, ARod needs to avoid controversy at all costs. But, whenever I hear him give an interview, I’m reminded of the scene in Bull Durham where Crash pulls Nuke aside to work on his cliches.
New York Sports Update
For those of you who’ve had your head under a World Series rock for the last two weeks, let me bring you up to date on the rest of the New York sports scene. The Knicks opened this season the way they finished the last, watching opponents breeze to the basket while shooting the ball as if it was too big for the basket. They’re 1-4 or, as Donnie Walsh would rather you think, five games closer to next summer’s free agent class. The Giants have lost three straight as they’ve suddenly forgotten how to defend the pass and the Jets have lost four of five because, well, they’re the Jets. The Rangers, currently second in the Atlantic division, remain the Garden’s only hope for post season action next spring. And, somewhere in the Dominican Republic, Jose Reyes is still limping. So, enjoy the parade tomorrow. It might be awhile before you see another one.