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May 30, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

The King is dead. Long Live the King.

I gotta rant against a guy that most of you have never, nor will ever, meet. Although I'm sure you all know someone like him.

I am no longer the most myopic Yankees fan. That title now belongs to Rob Moses, my friend and coworker (although, since he's not a Primate, I guess I'm still tops in Bernal's book...). See, Rob today declared that not only did Jeter not almost lose us that game Wednesday (rather than Rivera, who could of pitched better, but then he could have gotten better defense), but that the Yankees have one of the, if not THE, best defenses up the middle in all of baseball. Posada, Jeter, Soriano, and Bernie. He said that. His proof? He watches them. I pointed out that they make a lot of nice looking plays because they're positioned poorly, or get a bad jump, which taints his observations. He says that they recover from that poor positioning and poor jump by being great defensive players! As if positioning and reflexes don't count! I guess it's all cosmetic with Rob. I pointed out that they don't convert BIP into outs, which is what defense is all about. He said the game's played on the field, not on paper, and that if the stats say that Jeter is a lousy shortstop, the stats must be garbage. He then pulled out this one--Derek Jeter is a "winner". He won those last two games by calling the rest of the team out. I think Bruce Chen, Matt White and Derek Lowe had a bit more to do with that...

Rob then went on to say that I'm really a Yankee Hater, because I have the audacity to see that Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano have major flaws in their game. I guess to be a Yankee fan, I have to delude myself into thinking Jeter and Soriano are even better than they really are. They're great, and they're really good guys, too (Chrissy met Soriano at the Yankees hotel last year--get your mind out of the gutter--and said he was really really nice. Although I think it helped that she's a babe. Sorry Alf, her heart belongs to D.J.), and if they play at this level for several more years, they'll get their numbers retired and plaques in Cooperstown, but they have major flaws in their game. Accept it.

One more thing about Rob. He said he was at the longest game in baseball history between the Rochester Red Wings (local team) and Pawtucket Red Sox. I do not doubt that. He insisted that it was at Silver Stadium. He would bet anything that it was. I bet him a dollar. Pay up, Rob.

OK, sorry, for bashing you Rob, but you are being a bit myopic. The Yankees batting average against on balls in play this season is .322, compared the the MLB average of .290*. Face it Rob, their defense SUCKS. Their fantastic starting pitching masks it--and actually people think their pitching is not as good as it is because of their defense. But it really does suck. I'm not trying to prove that I know more than you--there are lots of people reading this very blog who know a lot more about the game than me--I'm just trying to make you understand. Just because the people who played the game say something is so doesn't make it so. And if it's Joe Morgan, it more often than not makes it NOT so.

Yes, Rob, the game is played on the field, not on paper, but the numbers on the paper are a representation of what happens on the field. What happens on the field is really irrelevant unless it affects what happens on the scoreboard, and what sabermetric statistical analysis attempts to do is measure the run value of what happens on the field (as well as some other things, like prediction).

Okay, I could go on like this all night, but it's late, and I need to wake up for work early. That's all for tonight. Contreras makes his first MLB start tonight, and I think he'll do fine. But I think they should leave Weaver in the rotation, he hasn't been bad, just unlucky.

* It's 1:30am, so those might be a little off...