"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Yeah, You Get Props Over Here

Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well

One of my favorite parts of following baseball is reading about baseball. I love the high-end analysis as well as the “hulluva-good-story” tabloid kind of writing. I find that I can learn things from both of them. It doesn’t always bother me to read lousy writing. Mainly, I like the regularity of it all. And the Internet keeps a baseball junkie more regular than your daily dose of Flax seed oil. In New York, we’re spoiled. There aren’t too many days in the year when the Yankees don’t make the any of the local or national papers.

And when a deal like this goes down, it’s like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. Sure, there is a lot of pedestrian writing out there, but there is also a lot of remarkable writing too. I think Tyler Kepner has done an admirable and thorough job for the Times. And witness Jay Jaffe’s expert break-down of the Rodriguez-Soriano trade. Jay kicks off the props parade by citing a prescient comment made by Joe Sheehan on BP Radio last a few weeks back. Sheehan said:

The willingness the Yankees have to assume contracts is such a huge advantage over just about every other team in baseball that any hole that develops, they can probably fill. It actually doesn’t matter. If George Steinbrenner decides he wants to go out and assume a contract, he can fill a hole, even if Jeter goes down, Soriano, Posada, the Lofton/Williams platoon in centerfield. I honestly think that we may be seeing a perpetual success machine… I now realize money simply isn’t going to be an object. With so many teams willing to give up contracts regardless of the talent they get back, the Yankees are in a great position.

Jaffe touches on each point of the trade with insight and wit. I especially like his tribute to ‘Lil Sori:

Though occasionally the most frustrating, Soriano was the most exciting, electric Yankee to watch over the past two years, and he may well go on to hit 500 home runs and steal 500 bases in the major leagues. Bless him if he does, because he’s a fantastic talent, and a good, likeable kid to boot. He deserves to go someplace where he’ll be appreciated for what he is rather than scrutinized and scorned for what he isn’t.

You know, I’ve been so punch-drunk by the thought of A Rod coming to town that I haven’t thought much about Soriano at all. I was focused on what we were getting, not who he were losing. But I’m sure it will hit me. I do like Soriano. I felt badly when Yankee fans turned on him so quickly last fall. He did have a brilliant Yankee career, and I hope he continues to get better. He’s more than a fighting chance hitting in Texas.

Jaffe placed ESPN’s coverage of the deal in the “Under More Irony” department:

The deal happened so quickly that the cottage industry of pundits who placed their round-the-clock reportage at the center of the affair were nowhere to be found this time around. Can a blockbuster deal happen without Peter Gammons telling us about it ten times a day? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

As a reader pointed out in the comments section of the previous article, Gammons was active reporting the story for ESPN Television over the weekend. (I didn’t see any of it.) But ESPN didn’t lead the industry with the scoop on this one. George King was the first one to it in The Post I believe, and John Heyman at Newsday took it from there. I was home this afternoon and caught several reports from Gammons on ESPN News, and it got me to thinking that for better or for worse, that’s what Gammons is now. He’s a TV personality, ESPN’s Baseball Top Correspondent. And he’s excellent at it. I find him comforting, and easy to watch. He’s aged just fine over the years.

The criticism directed at Gammons print work is legitimate, but to me, his sins are forgivable. I don’t need Gammons to be a great writer to enjoy him. So long as he’s going to be great on TV, it doesn’t really matter how sketchy his writing is. There are enough other good writers to concentrate on without it being too big a deal anyhow.

But here is Gammons’ latest piece for ESPN. It’s good stuff. While you are at The Sports Leader, check out Rob Neyer’s take too.

Gammons spoke on TV talking about how hard this must be to take for Mets fans. I haven’t talked to any of my Met fans friends yet except my cousin Gabe, and this is the kind of a deal that he just hates, so he’s probably not representative of the average Mets fan. Joel Sherman thinks it exposes the Mets has second-rate hacks. But not all Mets fans are sulking. Just ask my friend Steve Keane.

Can’t wait what Tim Marchman and Steven Goldman have to say. Goldman was dreaming about A Rod from jump this off-season. Speaking of which, Goldman has joined Baseball Prospectus and will write a weekly column “You Could Look it Up.” The first one is on the house. And so is an excellent Baseball Prospectus Roundtable on the A Rod Deal (The good people at BP are running a Spring Training Special). You could link it up.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver