Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Winning Means Being Quiet?

This post is kind of personal. It shows a thin skin on my part and I am probably an idiot for writing. But writing has always been my outlet. I spent much of my adult life being the adult in the room...the steady rock that guides through the storm. Sports is where I can show my full passion whether it is ecstasy or being crushed. And I write about that because I have never pretended that I was a journalist. I write from a fan's perspective. Just look at the name of this place, for Pete's sake. Lately, I have been criticized on Twitter because I have expressed frustration with the Yankees. Apparently, the common thread is that right now, as a fan of that team, I should be basking in only good vibes because my team is going to win and not ever complain. Bull-ticky.

Most of these posts are by friends I have had on Twitter for years. I can accept those. They have earned the right to tell me what they think. Others have come from fans on terrible teams. I understand where they are coming from. But their teams have not always been terrible and might not be terrible forever.

You get it worse when you are are a Yankee fan and I get that too--or a Patriot fan for that matter. In both cases, my fandom began before their successes. Well, to correct that statement, I became a Yankee fan as a boy in the mid-1960s. I missed the glory years and started loving the Horace Clarke, Roger Repoz, Tom Tresh Yankees. I have been a fan of the Patriots since the Steve Grogan days. So I am not just a coattail guy.

I have been watching the Yankees for over fifty years. They and the Beatles are stitched into my life just as much as losing my dad young and living an--at times--stressful teen years. I think I have a right to express things about what I am watching after fifty years. Am I wrong? I am not dumb when it comes to baseball. I am not an analytical maven, but I understand them just enough to see and enjoy their benefit. So I would like to think that after all these years, my criticism is fair. I can admit to being wrong unlike the other William who writes about the Yankees always from the perspective that Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are terrible and should have their impaled heads hanging on the Yankee Stadium gates.. I would say that I am negative maybe half the time. The other William is 100%. That's not me.

How different am I than fans of the Red Sox this year? The Red Sox have won it all four times since 2004 and had a magical season for the ages last year. Despite that success, when this year's Red Sox team became a clunker, the team and leadership were lambasted by their own fan base. Am I worse than that?

I've always tried to be magnanimous. When the Red Sox won, I congratulated the Red Sox fans and told them to enjoy it. I meant it. I have meant it when congratulating other successful teams and their fan bases. A team cannot win it every year. Not any more anyway. I know how good these fans of other teams feel. I have been there at every level. Of course I want them to bask in the glow of success. Who understands being a fan and begrudges that!?

There is a window for these team opportunities. The Astros might lose Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander might actually age some day. They have a window. The Red Sox had a window and took advantage of it. Now the Red Sox have questions going forward. That is how it works. The Yankees have not won it all after 2009. They have not even won the division most of the time. The team has a unique window. And in New York and for its fans, it is all or nothing on those windows!

So if I see things that can trip the team up and cause them not to take advantage of this window, I'm going to say so. Yeah, they are going to win over 100 games. But having home field through the post season is still up for grabs. The Yankees need that if perhaps they face the Astros for the ALCS. One extra home game could make a difference there or in the World Series. Shouldn't that be more important than resting players that have had plenty of rest on the DL or with natural days off? Shouldn't that be more important than resting a bullpen and letting three games get away from them in Detroit and Toronto? I think the home field advantage is more important than ANYTHING!

The Yankees lost the first game in Detroit as Aaron Judge and DJ LeMaheu sat. Perhaps the game would have been 13-12 instead of 12-11 if both those players had played. Perhaps they would have won if Nestor Cortez Jr had not become this year's version of Hector Noesi. The pitching lineup that day was just awful.

And, yes, I am going to spout off about the Yankees' medical and training staff when so many of these injuries have been muscular. Yes, the Yankees have thrived despite the injuries, but at no time this year has the team had all of its best players on the field at the same time. Employment is based on success. When I managed my customer service team, I had fifteen measurable stats. They were posted every week. Everyone knew where they stood. Lack of success meant stepping aside for someone who succeeded. The Yankees' medical staff and trainers have failed. They need to step aside. That is how I see it and I will say it out loud or on Twitter.

I will complain when umpires fail doing their jobs. I am not a conspiracy theorist and looking for evil plots around every corner for the Yankees as a team. I am talking about calling the strike zone. The "Framing" stat is so bogus because it shows the catcher fooling an umpire after a bad call. We should be feting these catchers or fighting the poor umpiring? I think the latter. To have SO many of these frame possibilities to create a statistic is pathetic.

I will continue to call out Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge for looking at strikes down the middle of the plate and then swinging and striking out on pitches that are not strikes. They can do better. They should be more aggressive. When they are, they are both terrific. The announcers always say that Gardner can ambush a pitcher at times. At times? How about all those other times when Strike One and usually Strike Two are right down the pipe? Hey, that is what I see. I'm not allowed to express it when the Yankees win 100 games? I guess not.

The resting thing is what I get hit the hardest about when questioning the Yankees' sanity. Has rest helped the team this year when it comes to injuries? Uh no. I can see trying to limit a position player to 150 games. Personally, I do not see any statistic that guarantees that doing such a thing works. But if a guy has missed 70 games due to injuries, does he need regular rest? How absurd.

To me, what makes the Patriots the most successful is that they do not lessen the value of any game. They are all important. I have watched far too many games this season when the best team the Yankees could field were not on the field and the feeling seemed to be, "Maybe we can somehow win this while giving guys some rest." Yes, tell us that when the Yankees' season ends in the seventh game in Houston's ballpark. Oh right, the odds of a series going the full seven games are a long shot. I forgot.

Maybe some thought has gone into this. I can admit that I like a series against the Twins a lot better than a series against the Oakland Athletics. The A's can actually beat the Astros and then the Yankees would have to face them anyway (if they beat the Twins, which is a crapshoot too).

Frankly, I am petrified about the post season. This team has been smoke and mirrors all season. Aaron Boone should get Manager Of The Year. He really should. I think the Yankees will have a better team next season. But I want desperately for them to win this season because of that window thing. And, of course, because I am a big fan. So yeah, if you think I should be happy-go-lucky due to the team's success, oh well. That's not going to happen.