Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Don't let Yankee-hacks ruin your morning

I was having a nice little morning. Really.

I was able to finish a big story, people in the newsroom were digging the chocolate chip cookies I baked, and it’s been a week since there has been any sign of the woodchuck that wants to burrow under my sun room.

And that’s not even counting the glorious news out of Shea about Tom Glavine’s shoulder, Shawn Green’s arrival, and the Carloses going deep early and often against the Cards on Tuesday night.

Then I started scanning one of my favorite blogs — Mikes's Mets — and he called attention to the handiwork of two vile Yankee-hacks

I expect Bob Klapisch to rip on the Mets. That’s just what he does. He’s a one-trick pony. But this column by Mike McGann posted on NY Baseball Central is completely under my skin, and if I can’t vent about it somewhere I might explode.

You can read it in its original context here.

In a nutshell, McGann says we had no business celebrating the 1986 championship Saturday night.

I must rebut on a point-by-point basis.

"So what was that celebration about, anyway?"

I suppose it was inevitable that the Mets would go nuts over the 20th anniversary of winning the World Series. As you all remember, the Yankees held a nearly week-long celebration of the 1977 World Series title by being kind enough not to win, or even play in, that year’s series — but managed to win ’96, ’98, ’99, 2000 and lost in 2001.

---- First of all, there was nothing kind about 1997. They got spanked by the Indians in the Division Series. And let’s be honest, the 1996 and 1999 championships were against the Braves, so they barely count, and the 1998 series was against the Padres, who were just happy to be there. The only one the Skanks actually earned was the one against the Mets, and that’s because Timo Perez is stupid.

"In other words, if the Yankees celebrated anniversaries of world titles, they’d pretty much be celebrating every year. As old George Steinbrenner and previous Yankee owners figured out long ago, the best way to celebrate greatness is to win even more.

The Mets have just two titles in 44 seasons (which remains better than Houston, which has none) but the Yankees have won four titles since the Mets dominated that 1986 season. So, what, exactly, are the Mets celebrating? Futility?

----Idiot. OK, that's a little harsh. But this gets my goat! The two titles are better than the Astros, but also better than the Angels, Giants, Cubs, White Sox, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Brewers, Indians, Braves, Phillies, Devil Rays, Padres, Ex-Nats and Royals had during that same period. It’s also the same number as the Tigers, Marlins, Blue Jays, Pirates and Twins. In fact, the only teams to win more since 1962 are the Dodgers (four), Athletics (four), Cardinals (three), Reds (three), Orioles (three) and the team with the unlimited budget.

Certainly not history, as they’ve done away with Old Timers Day, Banner Day and any number of formerly annual events that meant a great deal to the fans – and for the worst of reasons: dollars. Sure, that doesn’t make them much different than other teams, but it doesn’t really play well into the whole theme of love and respect of the past.

Maybe it just seems, well, a bit unseemly, to me. Like an elaborate touchdown celebration — doesn’t it always seem classier when the running back just flips the ball to the official and acts like he scores TDs all the time? Worse, this whole celebration smacks of a way to put fannies in the seats against a Rockies’ team that didn’t figure to be much of a draw.

---- Hold on! Is he saying the Yankees are like a classy running back handing the ball to the referee? Has he ever been to Yankee Stadium? Just because you use a fancy font each of the 100 times you mention the 26 championships does not mean you are classy. The Skanks are the most arrogant, in-your-face team in sports. The stinking Nebraska Cornhuskers aspire to be as in-your-face as the Yankees.

And the most incredible part is that they’ll sit there and tell you how classy they are as they get in your face. As I posted once on, look at their stinking spring training site. Legends Field? Real legends don’t go around calling themselves that. You just know. If you have to say "Hi, I’m a legend," then you are not one.

And since I’m on a rant here, which legends, exactly ever set foot in that stadium? Alvaro Espinosa?

"Maybe worse, has been the hype building up to this weekend. If you caught Mets Weakly this past week, you saw SNY interview a bunch of guys about the 1986 Mets who weren’t covering baseball in 1986, offering their personal insight about that team and its personalities.

----So the Mets television network ran features about the Mets championship team the week of the celebration? What was it supposed to run, "Three's Company" reruns?

"Couldn’t they dig up some of the folks who were covering the team back in those days? Hell, I wouldn’t have even picked me, as I was only a backup writer and covered a limited number of games that season — but I can rattle off a half-dozen names of people who were with me in that locker room — and were on the road with that team.

Those would have been some interesting and wild stories, I can tell you that. I’m not a giant Marty Noble fan, as most folks know, but he was there and could have at least talked as an eyewitness about some of the more complicated interpersonal relationships on that team. An even better option would have been Howie Rose, who worked the room as a radio reporter for WHN.

Instead, we got a lot of second-hand stuff, some reasonably well-informed, granted, like the comments of Bryan Hoch, while others were just plain embarrassing and ill-informed. In some of the cases, they would have been better off randomly stopping people on the streets and asking their opinions — which they also did.

It’s too bad, too, because it’s a good tale to tell, if only they could have found someone with first-hand knowledge.

It was a complicated team, on and off the field. Lenny Dykstra really was a jerk, while Wally Backman only appeared to be — off the field, he was a straight shooter but actually, a pretty nice guy.

----- This is reporter shorthand for "Lenny wouldn’t talk to me, but Backman did after I hung around his locker for a week."

But don’t go away thinking it was a lovefest in that room — there were guys who hated each other on that team, and did little to hide it. And some guys were obsessed with hand-held computer golf — blowing off interviews to get a few holes in after games.

----- Sadly, for a lot of reporters, it’s all about them. "These guys wouldn’t talk to us, so therefore they are a bunch of jerks." Why would anyone associated with the Mets give folks like Klapisch or Verducci the time of day?

It was a volatile mix, but one that held together as long as the team won, plus or minus a fistfight or two.

And don’t think for moment, ownership wasn’t aware of it, and worried. The much calmer Kevin McReynolds showed up the next season as part of a "kinder and gentler" Mets movement that took them from World Champs to 108 losses in just seven seasons.

----- Seven seasons is a long time in baseball. Entire rosters often turn over in that time.

"This was a team intensely disliked around the league — one that was involved in four brawls on the field and more off it, sometimes with each other, sometimes, like in Houston, with off-duty cops.

------ Yankees never run into trouble with cops. Except for Billy Martin. Over and over. Heck, Yankees relief pitchers stomp on Red Sox grounds crew members with their spikes, and Yankee-apologist Verducci justifies it by condescendingly calling the grounds crew members "dirt tenders" and saying they had no right to cheer for the team that employed them.

So, in some ways, it’s kind of an insult to make it seem like some magical journey. The ’86 Mets were the GasHouse Gang of ‘80s — much like the Oakland A’s were in the 1970s — and had more in common with a biker gang than St. Francis of Assisi.

------ Maybe I’m wrong, but in the entire celebration was there even one reference to the 1986 team being a bunch of choir boys?

Maybe the most honest moment of the whole evening took place during the game when Darryl Strawberry was on SNY with Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. Cohen guided Strawberry through an honest and revealing interview that shows how much Straw has evolved. He admitted that the guys on the team "were pond scum" and allowed that virtually all of the nasty things that have been written about that team were largely true.

----- Strawberry has evolved? Did that happen in prison or when he was a Yankee. This is a guy who until a couple days before the event was holding out for more cash.

It was another highlight for Cohen who continues to be the single best thing about SNY, a guy who never gives into the sycophant tendencies of the rest of the network’s professional voices.

------ No Yankee fan can dare call another team’s announcers sycophants for as long as Michael Kay draws a paycheck. And that’s not even counting the Francessa types who don’t even work for the team.

Darling and Hernandez have been erratic at times, although generally good. But it can be almost physically painful to listen to any other show on the network, between smarmy kiss-ups, all too frequent factual errors and technical glitches.

------ Compared to the YES Network, the bastion of good taste and fine programming.

The Mets’ decision to sign Preston Wilson tells you two things: first, that his knees really are shot, as has been wildly rumored, and second, there may be some heat to the Shawn Green rumors.

While it make sense from some standpoints, the long-term on the deal is a bit scary. And it remains to be seen whether Green is a New York kind of player. Clearly, his skills have diminished, but he would benefit from playing in a stronger lineup.

It seems like an expensive crap shoot from here.

----- First, the Mets did not sign Preston Wilson, but I'll assume that was a typo.

And no, siging a 41-year-old picher with a bad back and an even worse attitude to a huge contract is an expensive crapshoot. Green is insurance.

Wow, dude threw everything in there except for the Kazmir trade.

This guy just doesn’t get it. That 1986 season was magical for us. The post-season gave us several moments that will be discussed for as long as World Series moments are discussed. Quick, tell me a memorable play from any of those late 1990s Yankees series games. Of course you can’t.

I don’t care if the guys were a rough and tumble group. I want them to play baseball, not come over to my house for a barbecue. Outsized characters are fun to watch.

I’ll never forget that feeling when Jesse jumped and threw his glove, or when Ray Knight jumped on home plate. It made up for the down years in the late 1970s, the donkey mascot — but not quite the trade of Seaver, some wounds never quite heal.

Through dominance in the regular season and a little amazin’ magic in the postseason, we were on top of the baseball world for a year. And twenty years later, it’s still something to celebrate.

And then you have this crap from Klapisch. I’ll offer just a snippet:

But if Glavine needs the kind of surgery that Cone ultimately required, his season is history. And maybe the Mets' postseason hopes head for the ash-heap, too.

It's hard to imagine the Mets surviving Glavine's absence in October, not with Pedro Martinez having turned into a six-inning pitcher (when he's not on the DL). Losing Glavine wouldn't just decimate the rotation, it would puncture the Mets' psychologically, too.

He's classy, trustworthy, as stand-up as Paul Lo Duca is sleazy. The parallel between Glavine and the Yankees-era Cone is so strong, the repeat of history is almost too surreal to believe.

---- One could point out that the Yankees have an entire rotation of six-inning pitchers, except for Carl Pavano, who doesn’t pitch at all.

But Paul LoDuca is sleazy? Are you kidding me. The Yankees have players linked to the steroids scandal -- on-field cheating -- and I don’t ever once recall seeing Klapisch call them sleazy.

LoDuca owns races horses. He bets on them legally. He has some marital issues, but many people do. At least he didn’t swap wives like two Yankees did in the 1970s. That was sleazy.


Anonymous said...

Well done. You should forward your comments on to the authors.

Metstradamus said...

Dave, couldn't have put it better myself. Also on the "handing the ball back to the referee" point, every Yankee commercial for a giveaway night leads with the following:

"The New York Yankees, the greatest team in the history of baseball, have won more world championships in the history of professional sports."

That is equated to "handing the ball back to the referee?" For a f***ing commercial to promote "Yankee Pokemon Night?"

They can all bite me.

I know I can always count on you to help me cure the ills of baseball society. Great job!!!

Metstradamus said...

Did I mention that they could all bite me???

No really, the whole lot of those Yankee apologists. BIIIIIITE MEEEEEEEE!!!!

Mike "Spawn of Satan" McGann said...

A little bit of an anger-management issue, yes?

Thanks for picking up the typo on the Preston Wilson item — it was sloppy.

For the record, I'm not a Yankee fan, but can recite from painful personal memory those fabulous Mets' teams of the late 1970s — after the Seaver trade. Your over reaction is, however, exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.

As for your ripping me, hell, that's're entitled to your perspective (or lack thereof).

I can't speak for Klapisch (who was a fine pitcher in New Jersey's Metropolitan League some years back) — but thanks for reading.

Of course, you might want to get a real blog — who takes sites seriously?

Mets Guy in Michigan said...


I might have gone a little too far with the "idiot" line.

But hey, you struck a nerve!

Just thought it was strange that a Yankee guy went so far to trash us for enjoying our little moment.

And I like my little site!

I knew you'd enjoy getting a rise out of us; I suspect that was the point.


Anonymous said...

You know what makes this funny regarding the Yankees, has any organization retired as many numbers as the Yankees? I believe they've retired 15 numbers. I understand Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio being retired. But Billy Martin, Don Mattingly, Ron Guidry, Roger Maris and Elston Howard!!!? Come on!!!

Mike said...

Dave, those of us who enjoy your writing could care less where you do it.

paul zummo said...

Of course, you might want to get a real blog — who takes sites seriously?

Says the guy who writes for something called New York Baseball Central. Umm yeah.

Moises Alou said...

Isn't mcgann the hack who assisted in perpetrating that "Alou To The Mets" fiasco?

How anyone lends any credence to something an oaf like this says is beyond me. Anyone with a Commodore 64 and a phone line can fancy themselves Peter Gammons, but as witnessed by his presence & comments here, professionalism and acumen don't come so easily.

Anonymous said...

Mean people suck. I love your blog.

mets_grrl said...

coming in late, but you hit the point without knowing you did:

Yankees fans don't know anything about magic. There's no magic in that stadium or on that team. Don't start lecturing me about baseball history and the sacred ground of whatever - I know magic and there was none there. there is no joy on that team.

joining the yankees is like being a session musician instead of starting your own band. it's still music, but there ain't no love and there ain't no magic.