A matter of perspective

Perhaps that neck is feeling better
From the 'Everyone's a Pitching Coach' Department

Over the last few days — and with the introduction of the weirdly absurd Joe Torre blog — a lot of baseball commentators have been focused on the state of the Yankees. That this team — a team that went into 2008 clearly in transition — is something of a disappointment is not a point worth arguing. They’re 10 games out of first and five out of the Wild Card. Clearly things could be better.

But the comparisons to Joe Torre’s Dodgers and, to a lesser extent, the Mets are irrationally misguided. And it is, as always, a matter of perspective. Right now the Yankees are 67-59 in third place. For the Yankees, perennially expected to win the AL East, eight games over .500 and behind two teams in the East is hardly a bragging point. But the Mets and Dodgers aren’t any better.

Over in the pathetically mediocre NL West, the Dodgers are 64-62, two games behind the Diamondbacks. Yet, everything is coming up roses in the City of Angels. Got that? The Dodgers are 2.5 games worse than the Yankees. In the AL, they’d be behind the Blue Jays in the hunt for a playoff spot. Yet, somehow, because they’re in second place, Joe Torre gets the credit. Talk about a double standard.

Meanwhile, as Murray Chass stupidly pointed out, the Mets haven’t been hamstrung by injuries and poor play this year. Well, Mr. Chass, perhaps that’s because the four other teams in the Mets’ division are simply much worse than the Amazin’s. The Mets are 70-57, a whopping 2.5 games better than the Yankees. Again, if they were in the AL East, the Mets would be 7.5 games out of first and three games out of the Wild Card. As it stands now, if they suffer another late-season collapse, they will finish behind the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Wild Card hunt.

But this figuring all this out seems to take too much effort for sportswriters. They’d rather write the accolades of other teams while burying the Yankees without bothering to look at it in perspective. Now, I’m not about to start excusing the Yankees by saying that they’d be running away with the NL West. But to call Joe Torre any sort of LA savior without looking at the Diamondbacks’ inability to put away the inferior Dodgers and to proclaim the Mets that much better than the Yanks without examining the other teams in the division is simply shortsighted baseball analysis. But should we ever really expect anything else from the likes of Murray Chass and Tim Brown? I guess not.

Perhaps that neck is feeling better
From the 'Everyone's a Pitching Coach' Department
  • Jon W.

    Good stuff, Ben. The bottom line is that sports writers have no imagination, and will always look for the same old tired storylines. Joe Torre goes to L.A. and the Dodgers are now a playoff contender. Blah, blah, blah. We should stop expecting any better from these people and just get used to the fact that most of them don’t know any more about sports than the average fan, and in many cases, less. A lot of them are lazy, and don’t want to be bothered doing actual work. I know it’s so tempting to get all riled up over these things, but we’d probably all be better off ignoring these tools.

    • jsbrendog

      the dodgers have always been a playoff contender in a division where going 500 at 81-81 gets you in the playoffs. put the yankees in the nl even with their pitcher having to hit and it would be abloodbath, same as with tampa bay, boston, the white sox, twins, and angels and prob even the rangers.

      • steve (different one)

        i’d even say a team like the Orioles could be competitive in the NL.

  • Ivan

    Great Post.

    Right now, lets face it’s open season on the Yankees period once they got on this rut. All of sudden people just saying BS towards the yanks because hey it’s the Yanks.

    Like With Sherman’s article which he’s boosting the Met yung players like crazy and killing the yanks young players and pitching and etc.

    You got fucking Wallace with a dumb ass article saying the yanks should apologize to Torre because of the yanks struggles.

    Watching SNY (yes I know, not a shock) they were like ooh the Mets are clearly better and oohh the Mets are the better team and the yanks look this and that.

    Take alot of these crap with a grain of salt. People just don’t want to view the overall perspective and just wanna knock the yanks when there down and one of the ways of doing that is boosting up things with inrational thinking to Torre and the Dodgers and Mets and Sox.

    • Gary

      Watching and listening to Howie Rose and Keith Hernandez is cruel and unusual punishment. The only thing worser (LOL) is being tied to a chair and being coerced into listening to Gary Matthews announcing for the Philadelphia Phillies. Now that could drive me to ladies golf real fast.

  • radnom

    I’ve always hated it when the Yankees had a better record than the Mets, but the NY press was ragging on the Yankees because they were not in first place but the Mets were (last year especially). Not to mention the disparity in talent the two teams face in their schedule. So misleading. And I don’t think its a lack of effort either, but rather intentional to generate interest/readers.

  • Glen L

    and lest we forget that the majority of the games the mets and dodgers play (ESPECIALLY the dodgers) are against inferior competition compared with AL teams (ESPECIALLY the AL east teams)

    also, and regardless of the forthcoming i’ll always love torre, he’s really bungled the outfield situation for LAD this year by consistently playing Pierre and consistently batting him leadoff

    • RobertGKramer

      That first point is exactly my thought. The NL West could be won by a team at 0.500 and the East is not much better, even though I like the Phillies.

  • TurnTwo

    http://mikesciosciastragicillness.com/2008/08/17/this-quote-makes-my-brain-want-to-eat-itself/

    saw this posted on a dodgers fan blog, about Torre’s decision making skills.

    made me laugh.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

      My Mariano:

      Torre said he nearly did it last night with left-handed Manny Parra on the mound before deciding against it. “I tried to reason who was going to give me the better at-bat – Berroa or Loney,…”

      • Ivan

        Are you serious? Are you Serious?

      • r.w.g.

        No way he really wrote that. There’s just no way.

        • Count Zero

          I believe it — just replace “Berroa” with “Cairo” and it all makes sense… ;-)

  • Ivan

    Another thing, it’s funny how everybody hype up the vaunted Mets pitching. Yet
    if you look at the #’s closely, Santana and Perez have been more lucky then good and Moose and Pettitte have pitch better than those two. Add to the fact that John Maine is really a league avg pitcher.

    Again I don’t expect it but come on man. You journalist are professionals and need to do ya Analyst right and research. The smarter you are, less you are being pay attention too and get credit.

  • radnom

    Speaking of Joe Torres blog, take a look at this tidbit from it…it is so “old guy get on the internet for the first time” I couldn’t help but laugh

    “I mean, WTF(udge), right? Then there are “web smileys” like ;-) and :-( which frankly make me a bit >:-P (I just made that one up). But live and learn.

    Until then, I’ll just say BFN, because I have to GBTW, but I’ll BCNU soon. But JFTR, I don’t think I’m going to be using a lot of this Web slang. IMHO, plain old English works just fine. TYVM and TTYL.
    AA”

  • E-ROC

    LOL, great post.

  • http://2009 Haggs

    I’ve never read Mr. Brown’s work, but it seems you’re being a tad unfair to him.

    Torre’s name appears in the story exactly zero times.

    And Brown says:

    “Encumbered by age and injury, yet granted the most vulnerable division in the game and therefore certifiable postseason contention, the Dodgers in the last three weeks had Greg Maddux and Manny Ramirez fall into their laps and found Casey Blake in time to drag some offense from that corner of the infield.”

  • Ed

    The internet has killed newspapers. A lot of people – especially younger people – go to Yahoo Sports/ESPN/etc & a few of their favorite blogs to get their sports info. Why pay to get the news in the morning when you can get it for free right away?

    So, the newspapers have resorted to controversy to get readers. Saying “good job” when the Yankees make a smart move doesn’t catch attention. OMG WTF THE YANKEES ARE STUPID! does.

    Honesstly, if something is written in a newspaper nowadays, it’s almost certainly a stupid comment made to draw attention. And it’s working, as you posted the links and a lot of us clicked them.

    • Ivan

      Especially in this day and age, Newspapers or the media have shown to have little crediblity and not only in sports but other aspects as well especially with politics.

  • Simon

    id still say that the yanks can make the playoffs if they can gain at least 1 or 2 more games on boston and chicago/minnesota before the end of this month. even if they dont, they’ll have a good amount of games in september to get back in it. keep in mind that the yanks have 6 games against the red sox before the season’s end to sort things out. and if tampa falls apart and the yankees surge, then our 6 games against tampa could be crucial as well.

  • RobertGKramer

    Thank God the RSox also have six with the Rays, but, even bigger is the ten they have with the Jays. RSox vs. Jays is like Yanks vs. Angels!!!

  • Yankees 4ever

    Excellent posts and comments, could not have said it better myself. If the Yanks owe an apology to Torre for 2008, then I think that Torre should apologize to the Yankees for 2002, 2003, 2004 (ESPECIALLY 2004), 2005, 2006 and definitely 2007.

    But you will never see the papers print that because Joe was a media darling and he had a rapport with the media that Girardi has to develop. Whether or not they are in the playoffs this year, I think that you will see a sort of retooling for next year that is going to blow the doors off anyone. I HOPE :-))

    • JohnnyC

      I will never understand Torre’s non-reaction to 2004. He really didn’t seem too bothered by it. Maybe he put up a great facade but come on, for a Yankees manager, any Yankees manager, that collapse against the Red Sox would have torn their hearts out. Even Billy Martin would have searched his soul for answers. Torre just left for his Hawaiian vacation a little earlier.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    >> The Mets are 70-57, a whopping 2.5 games better than the Yankees. Again, if they were in the AL East, the Mets would be 7.5 games out of first and three games out of the Wild Card. >>

    And more likely than not, they’d actually be a lot *further* out than that — having to play the Sox, Rays and Angels as many times as we have, that is…

  • Old Ranger

    If we lose 5 of the next 10 games…it’s over guys, we need to go 7 of 10 or better. The chance of the other teams coming back to us is…Nill.
    There is good and bad in us being out of it by Sept 2nd. Bad; we miss the play-offs. The good; we get to call up a few prospects and let them play…see what we have or don’t. In some ways I would prefer us to be out of it (my heart is older then I am) and I must say, I’m the worst person in the world at excepting a loss. There you have it, I will continue to be realistically optimistic. 27/09?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      I think you mean 27/08?

  • Heather

    I thought there was no crying in baseball.

    Wow – such bitter Yankee fans. Can’t handle anyone saying – God forbid – the lowly Mets are a better team this year than the Yankees. Don’t worry, you all still have your “26 WS titles” ….

    Face it, the Mets have a better team than the Yankees this year. You can’t speculate and say “If the Mets played in this division they would be …” You just can’t. The Mets did well this year in interleague play as well … 4-2 against the Yanks and they also beat the Angels, so that argument doesnt hold well.

    Give their young guys some props – they are plugging call ups into 3 positions every night and they have no closer and are still getting it done.

    Don’t worry, there’s always next year. Stop hating on Torre now that he’s gone too. Maybe blame Cashmen & L’il Steinbrenner instead.

    • Ivan

      Really?

    • bill

      There is NO WAY the Mets are better than the Yankees. Look at the division thje Mets play in, and look at the division the Yankees play in. The Yankees would have a MUCH better record than the Mets if they switched divisions. Do you honestly think the Mets would be in first place over the Rays and Red Sox? Anyone that says that doesnt know much about baseball. Just cuz the Mets won three more games than the Yankees because they play in a JV league doesnt make the Mets better.

    • Ivan

      Think about this also, the Toronto Bluejays are just as good as the Phils and Marlins in that division.

      • bill

        Exactly. Why do the Met fans act like they run this shit. They havent won since 86. They should worry about theyre own JV team instead of bashing the Yanks and calling their team something that its not.

  • Ivan

    http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=448231

    Here’s another yankee bashing article and inrational boosting of Torre.

  • bill

    I hate when Met fans say the Mets own New York just cuz they won like three more games than the Yankees because they get to play the Pirates and the Nationals all the time. There’s no pushovers in the AL East, while at 26 games back the Nationals are more of a AAA team than big league squad.

    • Ivan

      Put it this way if the Nationals were in the AL they would lose over 120 Games.

      • bill

        That might be giving them a compliment. I was watching some of the Mets-Nationals series and Lastings Milledge is their cleanup hitter

  • marc

    great stuff ben! I was thinking the same wally matthews started this joke what an idiot.

  • RobertGKramer

    The MLB teams are only the tip of the iceberg. Given the health of the minor league systems, the Mets should have a harder time being/remaining competitive.

  • dkidd

    joe torre was a great manager because he had the ability to get a bunch of athletes living in a media fishbowl to relax. he was a “social genius”, and if his bullpen management was bad, it was because he played to win every day, even if it meant shredding some arms in the process. most fans (myself included) foreground the x’s and o’s of managing because that’s what we SEE. leadership and personality management are harder to quantify.

    sportswriters create narratives in order to sell papers. let’s remember how good joe torre was at managing a 162 game grind. managers don’t lose first-round playoff series, players do

    • bill

      Yeah, the role of a manager is a little overrated I think. Even though I love Torre ands he’s a HOFer, would the Yanks be any better with Torre, in this division? Probably not. It would be hard to make a case for that.

    • JohnnyC

      That’s convenient for Torre since his team lost in the first round 3 years in a row…against 3 different teams.

  • truth

    IF ONE MORE YANKEE FAN USES INJURIES AS AN EXCUSE FOR THIS YEAR PHIL HUGHES ARM WILL FALL OFF IN SPRING TRAINING NEXT YEAR SO STOP!

    EVERY TEAM HAS INJURIES – DEAL WITH IT

    A HUGE AMOUNT OF YANKS FANS THOUGHT TORRE WAS THE PROBLEM LAST YEAR – OVERUSE BULLPEN WAS THE MANTRA REMEMBER? OH AND GUYS PULLED HAMMIES BECUASE THEY WERE NOT WORKED OUT IN SPRING TRAINING HARD ENOUGH?…HMMM WORKED OUT HARDED IN SPRING TRAINING THIS YEAR (AND YES EVERYONE HEARD IT ABOUT A MILLION TIMES)
    BUT BLAMING GIRADI FOR THIS YEAR IS DUMB

    YOUR FRONT OFFICE OVERRATES YOUR PROSPECTS – NOW LETS SAY HOW EVERYONE HAS THIS GUY AND THIS – BLAH

    YOUR FRONT OFFICE SIGNS RECLAMATION PROJECTS FOR BULLPEN THAT NEVER WORK (SEE FARNSWORTH, KYLE AND HAWKINS,LATROY)

    • bill

      Read the posts, we’re not using injuries as an excuse. Even with our injuries, we’re still a better team than you. Your division is a joke.

      • JohnnyC

        And last time I looked, Latroy Hawkins was pitching lights out for the Astros. The last time Farnsworth pitched to an ERA below 4 was with the Braves. Oh, gosh, the Astros and the Braves are in the National League. Well, that answers that question.

        • bill

          And look, in Beckett’s first year in the AL East he got bombed after dominating the NL East since 2001. And Santana had an ERA in the mid 3’s last year but a move to the NL East convieniently lowered it under 3.

          • JohnnyC

            And let’s not hear any Mets fans whine about Al Reyes being their closer instead of Wagner. Suck it up! Right?

  • JohnnyC

    Going back to the championship years, I always had this queasy feeling when some Mets fans and Red Sox fans would fervently express their admiration for Joe Torre (yeah, Wally Matthews, I’m talking about you) all the while they couldn’t stand the Yankees. This felt so wrong. Regardless of whether Torre was God’s gift to civility and the American Way, the fact that he was the manager of 4 world championship Yankees teams in 5 years should have made these fans vomit at the very mention of his name. And now these guys are using Torre as a weapon to bash the team they’ve always despised? It is to laugh.