Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Verducci on the end of The Stadium

I know I seem to be worshipping at the feet of Tom Verducci lately --and that's true-- but with good reason. Verducci catalogues his experiences as a young beat writer covering the Yanks thru the years and how that's changed:

George Streinbrenner would call, and listen to the manager tell stories for an hour or more before a game (no one sits in the manager's office any more), or pull up a chair or sit at a picnic table in the middle of the room to talk with players about restaurants, current events, movies and maybe even some baseball (writers are no longer allowed to sit at all in the clubhouse, even to conduct interviews with a seated Yankees player, even if the player invites you to take a seat, and so the disconnect between player and writer, and by proxy, to you, widens.)

Verducci also does a pretty good job laying out why the Yanks have been so terrible this year:
It will all be gone soon. The Yankees made sure it would go quietly, without the postseason sendoff it deserved, with a plan for 2008 that could not have turned out much worse. They banked on young pitching and a 900-run offense. But the young pitchers were dreadful, hurt or both. The Yankees got 68 starts from pitchers in their 20s, and the combined record of those pitchers in those games was 17-23.

The offense sputtered because 1) Jorge Posada was hurt, 2) Alex Rodriguez was at his worst in big spots (he has driven in seven runs all year in late-and-close situations, less than half of what Robinson Cano had in a bad year), possibly because he stopped using the whole field (his opposite field hits by year since joining the Yankees: 23, 25, 28, 15, 9, and 3) the Yankees had neither the homegrown talent or the front office smarts to find good complementary players to withstand injuries the way Boston and Tampa Bay did. Xavier Nady was a good addition, but otherwise the Yankees' support players were dreadful. They gave 18 percent of their total at-bats to non-players Jose Molina, Wilson Betemit, Ivan Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Chad Moeller, Morgan Ensberg, Shelly Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, Justin Christian, Richie Sexson, Cody Ransom and Chris Stewart. Those players hit .221. The Yankees had a National League offense, if that. The 7-8-9 spots in the Yankee lineup, excluding pitchers, posted a .295 OBP. The Cubs, with pitchers taking most of the plate appearances, had better production from the nine hole (10 homers, 60 RBI) than did the Yankees (8, 38).

I'll have a bunch more to say and discuss before we get to the playoffs about my Stadium experiences. Care to be heard? If you care to share any of those Yankee Stadium experiences (good or bad, I won't discriminate) with me, email them to me and I'll try to post a bunch. Just make sure you take the time to at least quasi-edit them.

Also, I've also got two books to discuss that will get the nostalgia buffs all excited.

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