"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Yankee Panky #33: Home and Away

The Thanksgiving holiday — figure it lasts from the Wednesday before the holiday through the Monday after the actual feast — marks a boom time for shoppers and retailers. The same can be said for the Hot Stove season. Sometimes, major deals are made on or near the holiday, like Curt Schilling and the Red Sox four years ago. Other teams use the day as point to measure where they are, what they’ve done to relieve themselves of the season past and assess what needs to be done to shape the coming season’s roster.

The Yankees are in great shape for 2008. And by most accounts, the coverage has leaned toward that conclusion. A-Rod is returning, and the two major free-agent questions have been answered, with Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera signed through 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Viewing the proceedings from afar in Charlotte, N.C., for the past week, I was struck by the complete lack of interest in baseball outside the bounds of the New York metro area. It’s 24/7 football and basketball, college and pro, and 6-12 page sections on local high school playoffs as their fall seasons come to an end. Major League Baseball is covered, but it’s a compilation of AP stories piled into maybe 500 words, with a lead with bare-bones information. No nuts, no bolts, no meat, no potatoes. Not even gravy. 

I understand that as an editor, local stories always national. You have to cater to your audience. In the South, football is a year-round sport much like baseball is for us here in New York. Chris Russo got it right when he said New York is a baseball town. It’s nothing for a baseball story to knock football, hoops or hockey off the back pages, even in the offseason. I can’t describe the relief I felt when perusing the New York papers to see story headers like "JOBA NOT A LOCK TO START."

In other words, we should be thankful that one way or another, it’s always baseball season. Next stop for the Yankees: Christmas shopping at the Winter Meetings.

Wrapping up 2007 and looking ahead to ’08, who were the biggest turkeys and why? Below are my picks. Agree or challenge in your comments.

1) Scott Boras: That pre-World Series-ending opt-out didn’t work out so well for the self-proclaimed "superagent." After Kenny Rogers, let’s see how many more dominoes fall.

2) Alex Rodriguez: For going along with the Dossier Master and then pulling the old boomerang move. I’m still undecided whether the situation kills the Yankees’ credibility, makes A-Rod look like a buffoon or both. The bottom line is that from a revenue perspective, they both need each other.

3) Steve Swindal: Not a good year for The Artist Formerly Known As Joe Torre’s Bigest Backer Within The Organization. DUI, divorce, and banishment from the franchise has left the two Hs to carry on.

4) Hank Steinbrenner and Randy Levine (tie): For the public relations mess that ensued from the Joe Torre "negotiation," and spurning Don Mattingly. This will be the first year since 2002 that Don Mattingly is not around for Old Timer’s Day. Not that that’s important, but clearly, there will be a void.

Next week … A different take on the Winter Meetings

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