The New York Yankees are finally, in the words of Jeremiah Wright, observing their chickens come home to roost. After decades of doling out huge and lengthy contracts to big name stars, the likes of which other teams couldn’t touch for the most part, the Yankees are now discovering the flip side of that coin. They have elderly (in baseball terms of course!) dudes dealing with injury issues. The New Yorker summarizes it beautifully.
I’ve heard it said many times that Andy Pettitte is a swell guy. A good family man they say. And a man of faith to boot! What’s not to like?! That answer in a moment…
Andy retired this week after nearly two decades of hurling. A baseball. The Bronx Bombers appear to be really concerned, as this news comes on the heels of their failure to lure coveted Clifford Lee to New York and their hated rivals stocking up on off-season prizes. It’s really a delight to behold the Yankees’ concern!
While Pettitte’s longevity is impressive, what he did while on the mound caused me and many of my baseball brethren a great deal of pain. His pitching prowess in crucial, close games of October of ’96 and ’99 assured that decade of internet booms would be remembered more for the Evil Empire than my beloved, pitching-rich Braves. And it was his irritatingly clutch performances throughout the 2000s against my other favorite club – the Minnesota Twins – that sealed the deal on three first round defeats at the hand of the evil Yankees.
Andy Pettitte wasn’t nearly the pitcher that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or Johan Santana were (Santana is the only name there I anticipate being arguable). But somehow he become a far greater version of himself when he faced their (and my) teams in the playoffs. Although! I made an interesting discovery just now that bolsters a suspicion I’ve always had — Pettitte benefited in the extreme from the stacked Evil Empire offenses with which he was paired. Case in point – Pettittes’ career postseason ERA: 3.83. His career postseason wins? A major league record 19. Compare that with Greg Maddux’s career postseason ERA of 3.27 and 11 wins. Intriguing! It was an emotionally taxing tendency.
Andy’s bosom-buddy-ship with Roger Clemens (I like to calm him Codger Lemmons), one of the great hosers of baseball history, doesn’t help on the likability front. Granted, Pettitte is now the star witness in the government’s case against Clemens’ for “alleged” (hohoho) artificial enhancement. So there’s that. But how could you enjoy fellow-shipping with the dude who pulled stunts like this for years upon years?! Andy!
I’m grateful Andy will no longer be looming in October, and feel a great swell of hope that with his exit the curse of Twins’ playoff failure against the dreaded Yankees will finally be cloven in twain. Farewell, Andy! You were a cow to us, and I wish you’d left sooner… but, I’m sure that your mother loves you very much. And that’s important.
With baseball’s postseason rapidly approaching, it is time once again to bemoan the greatest evil in America’s greatest game.
Although squads like the Twins & Rays have had fabulous years, they will enter into the crapshoot quest for a World Series at a distinct disadvantage. That disadvantage takes the form of the number 206 million, 333 thousand, 389. That is the payroll of the New York Yankees. It’s more than twice that of the Minnesota Twins, and nearly three times that of the Tampa Bay Rays. New York isn’t just using those money bags on staplers and stationary – it’s giving them a massive advantage on acquiring big name free agent hurlers and sluggers.
This clear inequity gave rise to the observation that this situation is eerily like another. It was a wise Bostonian who first dubbed these Yankees “The Evil Empire”, and he was precisely correct. If you are a Yankee fan, you are essentially cheering for the Soviet Union to win the Cold War.
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! YOU IGNORAMUS!” Well let’s just go ahead and look at what the Soviet Union & the Yankees have / had in common shall we?…
1. A Ruthless Leader Who Would Stop at Nothing
Joseph Stalin demanded every red cent from his downtrodden peasants to support his misguided military adventures. He attempted to make friends with Adolf Hitler. George Steinbrenner exacted every penny possible from his fans with outlandish ticket prices, and used their hard earned cash to acquire morally bankrupt mercenaries like Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi & Alex Rodriguez.
2. Apparently Limitless Resources
In 1991, before Ronald Reagan and George Bush the Elder finally brought the Marxists down – the Red Soviets had corralled 8,649,538 square miles of the world’s land area and held sway over 293,047,571 people. They were lording it over the Kazakhs, the Ukrainians, the Poles…. Meanwhile, the Evil Empire in New York City has boasted MLB’s largest payroll for 17 of the past 25 years. They occupy the nation’s largest media market by far at over 7 million households, an advantage that feeds into their ravenous over-spending. The blasted pin-stripes have even been known to convert weak-hearted denizens of Omaha and Rochester into their fans.
3. Hordes of Really Unhappy People Left in Their Wake
Communism sounds like a swell idea until you’re told that the socialist utopia is achieved by forcing folks to give the government all their stuff so they bequeath it to the people who need it. And often this often turns into the government big whigs just keeping all the stuff anyway. Add to that situation the fact that the Soviets often invaded other lands wholesale… and had a tendency to kill their own people. There’s a lot of displeasure that ensues.
The Yankees claim that they’re America’s team, and that their success somehow unifies us all into a great circle of Kumbaya chanting joy. But what about the 1996 (and 1999) Braves, huh? What about the the 2009 (and 2003… AND 2004) Twins? AND THEIR FANS? There is no joy in Mudville tonight, my friends.
4. A Sworn Enemy the Rest of the World Cheers for
As point 3 explains, when there’s an Evil Empire out there trouncing on people’s rights and happiness – they become significantly unpopular. This was the case for the Soviet Union in much of the world during it’s reign of terror. And just as evil has good, the Red Empire had the United States and Western Europe. America and the Brits pushed back at the Soviets across the globe. Back in those days, the USA could win popularity polls pretty much everywhere. Except in France. Some things never change.
In perfect symmetry, the Yankees’ vile reign has at its opposite pole a sworn enemy. The Boston Red Sox, having many a time felt the particular sting of New York’s success, rose up in the last decade. They turned the tables on the barons of the Bronx and captured two world series in the 2000s. A glimmer of hope to those who yearn to breathe the free air of a baseball world devoid of the relentless tentacles of its Evil Empire.
5. Celebrity Adherents
Hollywood’s dalliance with the political left is the stuff of legend. There are no quicker brutes to lampoon capitalism, the Right, and all that is good and worthy in our society and history than actors and their kind. This phenomenon is responsible for the shock you feel every time you hear that an actress or director is actually a Republican. The trend continues on the baseball field. The Yankees garner more celebrity lemmings than any other ball club. If Rudy Giuliani can be excused – than surely Jay Z, LeBron, and Christina Aguilera cannot. The Evil Empires collide once more.
So before you make your cheering choice this October, remember, your country needs you. The Western World needs you. Stand against the Evil Empire.
And the horrors continue for the Minnesota Twins in Yankee Stadium!
After another series loss to the lovable A-Rod and friends, TWG reaches for the positives. Here’s 5 reasons why the Twins will beat the Yankees again… eventually. Minka Kelly, Barack Obama, good versus evil, Joe Nathan’s elbow, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad all make appearances…
GooseRadio’s David Gregory, the Emperor of Fargo, joins me to talk MLB baseball in 2010.
Target Field’s awesome-ness is praised. Gregory speaks of The Minnesota Twins signing of Joe Mauer and it’s necessity. He also takes a gander at Mauer’s future production, Francisco Liriano’s promise possibly being fulfilled, and what one piece the Twins might need to carry them to a World Series.
General thoughts on the MLB 2010 season are explored. David says this year is just like the Oklahoma Land Grab, with a bit more parity between teams. He doesn’t miss the opportunity to knock on the New York Yankees, however, and points out the different outlook teams like the Twins have to have to compete with the Evil Empire.
The Atlanta Braves are touched on. Jason Heyward is really something, and kind of a pleasantly unusual story for baseball. Does Atlanta have what it takes to give the Phillies a run for their money in Bobby Cox’s last season?
And lastly, can anyone get past the Yankees for the World Championship?
Well, you can take those Minnesota Twins” “Off-season in review” pieces and add one massive asterisk (what would modern baseball be without one, really?). One of the biggest weapons the team had is now, in all likelihood, out for the year. Joe Nathan, the super door slamming closer the team has relied on at the end of games for six years was diagnosed this morning with a tear in a ligament in his pitching elbow. While the team is saying he”s going to try two weeks of cautious strength training around the injured area and then attempt to throw, the smart guys around the team say to expect the worse.
While the news itself was surprising – as the buzz around the pain he was suffering last week that led to his elbow scan didn”t sound all that serious – I was even more surprised at how I took the news. Shock and grief should have coursed through my very baseball soul in loyalty to this man and in realization of what we”ll be missing this year. After all, in the past 3 years 47, 39, and 37 games respectively. Since becoming the Twins” stopper in “04, he”s never sported an earned run average over 3.00. In fact, he”s had 4 seasons with an ERA under 2.00! That is just uncanny. When you look at how razor thin the Twins” entry into playoff baseball has been these past few trips, Nathan”s brilliance should be appreciated all the more for the role it played getting the team there.
But instead – my honest first thought on hearing the news was an emotion-less “Hmmmmm…”. Granted it was early in the morning (for me) and I”ve recently had some form of flu plauge that”s reduced me to attempting to converse with my carpet and wall hangings. But still. WHY?! Why didn”t I weep or yell or something epic? I will be honest. It”s because of the playoffs. It”s because of Nathan”s meltdowns in October against the Yankees this past year and in the mid-2000s when Jo-hizzle Santana still strode to the Metrodome mound. It was because of the hope that was dashed while pumping gasoline into my car and on a brisk October evening as I listened to John Gordon detail Nathan blowing a decisive lead against New York several years ago. It was the crushing feeling in my emotion-producing-region while watching Joe surrender a lead to those disgusting pin-stripe clad miscreants once again this year.
This realization leads to some self-loathing on my part because it comes ever so close to some unfair mentalities I despise. “He”s not a gamer!” and “He”s not clutch!” are the declarations of which I speak, and they”re usually found after a formerly favorite player makes one mistake on a highly publicized stage – like the playoffs. I”ve always found this buffoonish because it often ignores a huge body of work, like a 162 game schedule full of success, in favor of dwelling on a single moment of human frailty. It”s the ultimate manifestation of the “What have you done for me lately” belief system. Yet here I am. I know I shouldn”t feel this senseless way about poor Joe, but by golly I do.
Part of what works against Joe in this scenario is the fact that, as a closer, his moment for success or failure is so short. Win or lose, he”ll probably only face 3 to 5 batters in the entire game. The whole affair can be over in a hop, skip, and a jump (sometimes off a bridge). As an Atlanta Braves fan growing up (don”t stop reading now, you can do this!), I joyfully took in season”s of starting pitching brilliance from Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz only to be disappointed year after year with playoff defeats. I was 10 in 1995 when they won their world series, so I didn”t get to treasure it as actively as I might have liked. Each year they fell, I was able to ward off suggestions that they weren”t clutch – that they somehow weren”t big game pitchers – by pointing to the sensible train of thought from the paragraphs above. How could you malign some of the all time greats for what happened in a handful of games. Also, the individual pitchers often performed very well over the course of the whole game the team lost. Usually, they”d lose in trademark Atlanta style – 1 to 0 or 2 to 1. It was an emotional time. Joe Nathan didn”t really have that luxury though. When he gave up runs in those playoff games, the game was simply over and the appearance was deemed a failure. For stoppers like Joe, it”s a moment of glee or an instance of misery.
We all wish Joe well if he does have to undergo the dreaded Tommy John surgery. Let”s hope that the year we”ll likely spend without his dominance doesn”t serve to remind fans like me just how good we had it and how silly we were not to weep like babies when we heard of his lugubrious ligament.
Photo Credit – graphics8.nytimes.com
2009 has been quite a year. Influenza terror, beauty pageant queens becoming national icons, and the day the world stood still while we thought a tiny and curiously named boy was flying hundreds of feet over Colorado in a balloon. In order to really ponder all the political, cultural, and sporting headlines from the year, David Gregory, and Goose Nissley join me to examine the highlights of the year that was.
Well, how can we not start this off by discussing our new Comrade, excuse me, Commander-In-Chief, Barack H. Obama? For me, the best part of his presidency so far is that it’s produced this SNL skit…
Goose Nissley – President Obama was definitely the big story this year (however slightly his lead is over balloon boy). How often does a guy buy General Motors, provide an entire nation with health care, win the Nobel Peace Prize, and appear on a promo for George Lopez Tonight… ALL IN ONE YEAR?!
Alex – Plus, he got the approval evangelicals via Rick Warren, Donald Miller and the always um, relevant, Relevant Magazine, all while letting the rest of the world know that we’re not a Christian nation. Win!
David Gregory – Obama ruled 2008, but 2009 is the year of Carrie Prejean. Who else can claim to have represented an entire voter base, committed actions to alienate it, and subsequently kept its support simply because of her heaving platforms? She is the epitome of the media world we live in: one sentence can make you, one sex tape can break you (or as I like to call this, the reverse Paris Hilton).
Goose – SAY IT AIN’T SO CARRIE! You really wanted to cheer for her / date her, especially since she was being lampooned by that unpleasant Hilton dude. There is no joy in Mudville tonight.
Well you know what else was interesting… Swi… Iii mean H1N1 flu. For months, everyone was told that we were all going to do die. Then, suddenly, absolutely nothing happened…
Alex- I actually had it twice and died twice.
David – Yeah, the Swine Flu was so media driven and ultimately unsuccessful, I thought the United States was going to elect it.
Alex – Seriously though, Kathleen Sebelius is the one who really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching us all how to sneeze correctly. I used to think my farts were sneezes, boy was I confused.
Alex – Helmet Hair?
David – I’m sorry Alex, maybe you were unaware of a certain controversy in your home state. Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached at the beginning of 2009 under the allegation that he sold former Senator Barack Obama’s congressional seat.
Goose – AND YET… he still garnered a book deal! Everyone wrote books this year! Helmet Hair, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Carrie Prejean, Andre Agassi…
Does anyone even read books anymore?
Alex – Nope, they’re too busy giving their snarky commentary on pseudo-political, pseudo-legitimate blogs.
I actually did read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper this year and now I feel bad about watching television no matter what I’m watching, even if it’s Christian television, like Joel Osteen or Desperate Housewives.
Goose – And who says Conservatives are narrow minded…
Then again, that sort of anything goes, Laissez-faire attitude is what caused our current economical woes, thanks a lot Dubya.
David – And now we get to the heart of the matter: Dubya redux. Politically, socially and economically, 2009 was the year of people blaming the previous administration for everything that followed it. Why can’t Obama get anything done? He’s cleaning up the Bush mess. Why can’t Wall Street right itself? Too much free-market legislation in the previous two decades. Why can’t Hillary Clinton look like an attractive woman? Aging that occurred DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.
And so on.
Goose – Hohohoho… Aging that occurred during… that was good stuff…
Hmmm. President Obama might want to look more northeast to seek the true source of the year’s ills. The Evil Empire is on the march once again. The New York Yankees purchased another World Series in 2009. Bleh.
David – Umm… Tiger Woods has been in the news lately. He didn’t win a major championship this year. Which makes sense: it’s tough to beat the field when you’re playing it! (Jay Leno-like head bobble)...
Goose – If I was married to Elin Nordegren I wouldn’t have gone on the prowl that way.
I do think it’s time for us to declare our favorite happenings of the year…
For me it’s a tie between the Minnesota Twins win in Game 163 of the MLB season & Al Gore reading aloud his climate change poem on Harry Smith’s CBS program.
Alex – The Blink-182 reunion and subsequent reunion tour. A lot of old bands got back together this year; nostalgia was the new black. It’s probably because people really miss the days of Dubya.
David – From a sports perspective, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team winning the national championship made me jump up and down unlike the Baptist that I am. From a cultural perspective, anything R Kelly does is the highlight of my American life.
A Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! May your holidays be filled with a general sense of well being.
TWG Podcast Volume 36
What’s the lesson that Carrie Prejean’s recent exploits can teach us in the Christian right? And what do Carrie & Alex Rodriguez have in common?
Should Ashton Kutcher’s tweets be treated as a source of political wisdom?
Where do Palin, the Huck, and T-Paw stand as we look toward 2012?
Are the Yankees bad for baseball?
All these questions are answered by ‘The Angry Journalist’ David Gregory as he joins Goose on the 36th weekly edition of the TWG Podcast.
Senator Obama and Senator McCain head to Rick Warren’s church for a forum on faith next month.
People are sometimes jerks – a South Dakotan attacks my friend and I am anatagonized.
The New York Yankees make me angry, and We Don’t Need Wires to Send TV Signals Around Our Houses Now… what is this new devilry?