The Yankees Had A Better Winter Than The Red Sox

March 10, 2009

In recent months, I’ve taken a much more even-tempered approach to the decaying state of sports analysis. My blood pressure is very thankful for this adjustment. I smile more. I curse less. People seem to like me more, and I can still uphold Fan Interference’s fundamental goal of pointing out shoddy, lazy, or factually incorrect analysis in an effort to better educate you, the avid sports fan. That hasn’t changed, but the tone has. 

I mention this because this post will be decidedly in the “old style” tone. Jayson Stark’s recent column comparing the Yankees’ and Red Sox’ off-seasons has served as the impetus for this brief regression. The column heavily implies – if not outright asserts – that the Red Sox’ player additions are better than the Yankees’, despite the latter’s prodigious spending. It’s essentially yet another David versus Goliath analogy that, of course, sides with David (even though David is a Goliath too). To be clear, I’m not arguing that the Yankees are better than the Red Sox. I’m arguing that it’s lunacy to suggest that a team improves more by adding the current versions of John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Takashi Saito, and Rocco Baldelli than adding CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and AJ Burnett. I am putting my fan hat back on for this post, because quite honestly, Stark’s piece got my blood boiling again. Articles like this are the reason we started this blog in the first place.

Here we go, Fire Joe Morgan-style:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Baseball Now Called “JeterFenwayBomberCaptainMannyBall”

April 30, 2008

Yesterday I received an e-mail from MLB.com reminding me to vote for this year’s All-Star Game, which, apparently, is being held in New York. The entire content of the message is as follows:

Keep the rivalry alive! Vote for your Yankees and Red Sox players today!
“Keep the rivalry alive! Vote for your Yankees and Red Sox players today!”

I’m pretty sure this e-mail was sent to anyone who foolishly gave their contact info to Major League Baseball. I don’t know whether this message is being used in any other media to advertise the game. But I feel this is an appropriate time to express some thoughts to Major League Baseball, and I am likely speaking for many people:

Please stop shoving the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry down our throats.

I have a pretty deep understanding and respect for the rivalry. It’s apparently the greatest in all of professional sports (unless you ask college football fans or NFL fans or hockey fans or Premiere League fans). And I know both teams have large, loyal fanbases spread throughout the world.

But I think there is something quite patronizing and offensive and cynical in the fact that this e-mail, purportedly promoting general interest in the All-Star Game, is not just asking me, but commanding me, with exclamation points, to vote for MY Yankees and Red Sox.

I haven’t even started thinking about who I would vote for in either league besides Barrold Lamar Pujols. I’m sure my AL ballot will include several Yankees and Red Sox, since both teams have really good position players. Jeter probably won’t get my vote unless he hits about .400 for the next seven weeks. And I’m sure as hell not voting for Varitek, the Steely Hitless Wonder.

The logical conclusion of this would be the NL All-Stars playing the Yankees-Red Sox All-Stars. Can you imagine how patronizing that would be to the National League players? Or to the really good players on the 12 other American League teams?

Here’s an idea: why doesn’t Bud Selig just make the Red Sox a National League team for a day, and then just have the Red Sox be the National League All-Star Team and have them play the Yankees as the American League team? Boston would fit well in the National League; they’re all gritty and teamy and stuff. That way, instead of having no-name players like Victor Martinez and Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez confusing people, FOX could just show a Red Sox-Yankees game with the All-Star logo stamped all over it!

Two weeks ago, FOX Saturday Baseball had two games: Yankees-Red Sox or Rockies-Diamondbacks. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On a map, it literally bisects an imaginary arc between Phoenix and Denver. These are the two closest major cities. Both of these teams were in the playoffs last year and actually played against one another in the NLCS.

Our FOX affiliate broadcast the Yankees-Red Sox game. The only two markets that showed the other game were Phoenix and Denver.

In the short term, I’m sure this was probably the right move for the bottom line. God knows I watched most of the game, and I sat through about 140 minutes of bad NASCAR coverage just to see Jonathan Papelbon anticlimactically strike out A-Rod. But Major League Baseball also could have put some pressure on FOX and used that game to start cultivating a regional rivalry between two good young interesting teams who might be regular contenders for the next several years.

Writers and media journalists (those reporting on entertainment) have voiced increasingly loud complaints about the World Series’ lack of both drama and ratings recently. Admittedly, the World Series’ themselves have been bland compared to the iconic 2001 games and Bonds’ shock and awe in 2002. What about the the rest of the playoffs?

2004: Best LCS Year of All Time? Cards-Astros go seven and the MV3 (Pujols, Rolen, and mostly Edmonds) win pennant for arguably the best team in baseball. Overshadowed by that other thing that happened with the sock and the blood and the 3-0 series deficit and what have you.

2005: The sickest pitching staff in history wins Houston’s first pennant but are nearly derailed by the by the glorious implosion of the best reliever in the league. White Sox break the curse of those guys who did something bad in 1919. Doesn’t count. No Yankees or Red Sox. A few points for some sort of curse being involved.

2006: Cardinals and Mets, Game Seven. The Cow Town versus The Pond Scum. Endy Chavez’s catch. Yadi’s only hit in 2006 (not really). Wainwright and Beltran with the bases loaded. Almost counts (New York team).

2007: The Rockies win 21 of 22 games, come from behind to clinch the Wild Card in a ridiculously entertaining extra-inning tiebreaker game, and win their first pennant. The Red Sox predictably beat them. This one totally counts! Yay Red Sox!

Obviously, it is my opinion that the coverage has less to do with what happened on the field than with the teams that are involved. If Major League Baseball and the various television networks would spend less time pimping this particular season series and spent more time exposing other interesting teams to casual viewers, their wouldn’t be this hand-wringing and complaining when there isn’t a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS (which, chance tells us, is inherently unlikely any year).

So, MLB, I will start thinking about my All-Star Ballot, but if I get one more e-mail like this, I’m voting for all Cardinals and Rays.

PS: How does such voting keep the rivalry alive? Will the rivalry die if this plan doesn’t come to fruition? Do they want Cano and Youkilis to be playing together and suddenly get in a knife-fight in the infield during the game?


I Tried To Curse New Yankee Stadium . . .

April 13, 2008

and all I got was this dirty David Ortiz jersey.


No.

March 14, 2008

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling has never won the Cy Young award.


Matsuzaka’s Fat Will Lower His ERA, And Other Assorted Double-Standards

March 11, 2008

I don’t understand this:

2. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. Matsuzaka surprised the Red Sox by reporting to camp heavier than last year. He explained he enjoyed his best seasons in Japan when he carried more weight. Perhaps Matsuzaka also is better prepared for the grind of the longer major league season, which took its toll on the right-hander over the final two months of last season.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe Matsuzaka’s success really is directly proportional to his weight. I don’t know, although I’d love to see some numbers on this. It just irks me that the Red Sox seemingly get a pass for things like this. Call me a paranoid and delusional Yankees fan; that’s fine and probably true. But I implore you to hear me out on this. If any other high-profile pitcher in baseball did this, there would be questions about his dedication and work ethic. If not, it certainly wouldn’t be passed off as a good thing. It just always seems to be something with the Red Sox. Does anyone remember Josh Beckett (and subsequently, Peter Gammons) blaming a blister flare-up on a defective baseball? Does anyone remember the Red Sox saying Matsuzaka struggled because he couldn’t adapt to his new American mattress? It’s unbelievable.

Anyway, I would like to close with the following reminder. Red Sox don’t under-perform, they have defective baseballs and insurmountable mattress problems. Red Sox don’t get old and decline (despite having the oldest roster in baseball last season), they gain experience. Red Sox aren’t injury risks, they just get nicked up from playing so hard. Yankees, on the other hand, are overpaid mercenaries (despite having more home-grown players than the Red Sox), who are getting old and brittle. If they show up fat, they are spoiled slackers.

That’s it for now. Soon I will post the Second Annual Yankees-Red Sox Comparison, during which I will predict that the Yankees will win the division.

EDIT: In light of today’s Yankees-Rays brawl, I have a new double-standard to add to the preceding list. Rays players Jonny Gomes, Troy Percival, and manager Joe Maddon have all been quoted as saying (paraphrasing) “that’s not the Yankee way. Usually they’re professional and play the game the right way, but that’s not what happened today.”

Under Joe Torre, the Yankees would never, ever throw at an opposing player or seek revenge for prior incidents. Never. Torre was too “classy” for that stuff. It reached the point where – specifically in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry – Red Sox pitchers hit Yankee hitters twice as often as Yankees did Red Sox. I have the specific statistics on this somewhere; if you think I’m full of it, I’ll dig them out. Anyway, for years now the Yankees have maintained a general policy of non-retaliation, even following blatant acts of aggression.

This brings us to our newest double-standard. When other teams retaliate for previous incidents, it is known as “being old-school,” “defending your teammates,” or “showing heart and fire.” When the Yankees do it, it is called “borderline criminal” (Maddon) or “not the Yankee way” (Gomes).

I, for one, am thrilled with this development. I have no idea whether Girardi ordered this, or whether Shelley Duncan did this on his own. Regardless of its origins, I am completely and unabashedly optimistic that the Yankees are done being unwaveringly “classy.”

Is it March 31st yet?


What’s The Difference?

March 6, 2008

This Spring Training, I have repeatedly heard that the Red Sox have the slight edge on the Yankees because the Yankees are relying too much on their young starters. I would find a quote for you, but I have seen this is in too many places and too many times to document it completely. Anyway, I would like to formally present this complex statistical analysis to you, our valued readers:

  • Young Red Sox starters (Lester/Buchholz): 167 IP, 4.25 ERA
  • Young Yankees starters (Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy): 115.7 IP, 3.18 ERA

This comparison is essentially a wash, which is exactly my point. Both teams are not entirely sure what their young starters will do, yet both teams are relying heavily on them. If the implication is that relying on young starters is dangerous because they’re an unknown quantity, then this logic should apply to the Red Sox as well. I suppose an argument could be made that the Yankees are more reliant because three-fifths of their rotation could be comprised of their young starters. But I would counter by saying that, with Curt Schilling out until mid-season, the Red Sox are just as reliant.

If the numerous sportswriters and analysts are looking for advantages the Red Sox have over the Yankees, this is not one of them. The Red Sox have a better bullpen and better defense; those are good answers. Saying the Yankees are in trouble because of their reliance on young starters while ignoring the same issue for the Red Sox is lazy analysis.


Let The Games Begin

February 27, 2008

I mean that literally and figuratively. On the literal side, Vanderbilt baseball has its home opener today, which I will be attending in about an hour. So that’s good. Figuratively, it’s about time that I fulfill my obligation as a Yankees fan and commence some (rational) smack-talk towards those who get carried away about the Red Sox. This post shall be brief, but I would just like to comment on one thing from this article.

“The way [the Yankees] score runs, you know they’re going to be in the race down to the end,” said Kevin Youkilis.

Accurate.

That’s smart media coaching. But who’s kidding whom? A less filtered sentiment came from closer Jonathan Papelbon, who, when asked to assess the Yankees’ chances, said, “Dude, I don’t even know who’s on their roster this year.”

Oh my God. I really, really hope that in October, we’re talking about this quote like we talked about Tom Brady’s “we’re only going to score 14?” quote. Except that quote was somewhat warranted, since the Patriots’ offense was insanely good. Brady was somewhat justified. Papelbon is a moron.

Arguably worse, I think, is Mr. Klapisch’s “who’s kidding whom?” interjection. The implication – at the very minimum – is that the Yankees are clearly an inferior team. I would just like to remind the general public that the Yankees finished 2 games out of first place in the AL East last year. That is including 38 starts from Kei Igawa, Darrell Rasner, Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Jeff Karstens, Carl Pavano, Chase Wright, and Sean Henn.

Also of note, I think, is that Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system has the Yankees going 97-65 this season, and the Red Sox going 91-71. This is the same system that correctly predicted – much to the intense surprise and even anger of many baseball people – that the Chicago White Sox would go 72-90 last year. That’s worth something. Not everything, but something.

Let the games begin.