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2010 Redux

The holidays are a great time to reflect on the year gone by. The solitude that accompanies shoveling out your driveway and cursing the plow and Mother Nature allows for ample time to put the pieces in place for some of those reflections.

With that in mind, 2010 brought those of us in the Yankee Universe some joy, but mostly heartache. Here’s a quick recap of some of the stories, headlines, and cyberlines that made the year.

STORY OF THE YEAR

I had a tough time narrowing this one down. Thus, I broke it down into three sections, for the three stories that encapsulated the Yankee year.

1) George Steinbrenner’s death: Mr. Steinbrenner’s health had been in question almost from the moment he collapsed at Otto Graham’s funeral in 2003. His death nine days after turning 80 was a huge loss for the organization, and a huge loss for baseball. It cast a pall over the rest of the season, but strangely, not in the way that Mickey Mantle’s death in 1995 or Joe DiMaggio’s death in ’99 did.

The coverage centered around the typical elements: his purchase of the team from CBS and the return on investment, the seven championships won during his ownership tenure, the managerial changes, the bombast, the Dave Winfield investigation, his suspension, his return, and lastly, how sons Hank and Hal — mainly Hal, now — will fill the void.

Had Bob Sheppard not died two days before Mr. Steinbrenner, I wonder if this wouldn’t have been a bigger story.

2) Whiff Lee: The Yankees almost had Cliff Lee twice in the 2010 calendar year. On July 9, the Yankees and Mariners had a deal in place that would have had Lee switching dugouts at Safeco Field, but it fell through due to the Mariners’ rejection of a couple of Yankee prospects included in the deal. In the offseason, the consensus, especially after Lee’s playoff domination, was that the Yankees and Rangers would get into a bidding war for Lee’s services, but that the Yankees’ dollars would prevail over the Rangers’ proximity and Texas’s lack of a state income tax. That was, until all hell broke loose and and he signed a 5-year, $120 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on Dec. 15. All I can hear is Lee, in the voice of Mr. Garrison from South Park, launching into “Merry F—ing Christmas” as an ode to Yankees and Rangers fans far and wide. Context is a little different than what Mr. Garrison was going for, but the tone is similar.

Jayson Stark had a tremendous column on how the deal went down. This column ignited the conspiracy theorist in me. Why didn’t the New York media pick up on this and start throwing around theories that Lee, his agent Darek Braunecker, and the Phillies had concocted this evil, sinister plan a year ago, much like LeBron James and Chris Bosh discussed joining the Miami Heat as far back as the 2008 Beijing Olympics? The answer to that last question is that it would have been poor journalism. However, for a provocative column, that would have gotten a few readers riled up.

The lesson, apparently, not everyone wants to play in New York. But the Yankees re-signed Sergio Mitre and picked up Pedro Feliciano, who should be good for about 95 appearances next season. And Alfredo Aceves is due back, so they’re all set.

Gulp.

Adding insult to injury: the Red Sox are now fully staffed, and stacked. They’ve traded for Adrian Gonzalez, signed Carl Crawford, and fortified their bullpen with Bobby Jenks’s man-boobs and Dan Wheeler, leaving the Yankees reeling like Rocky Balboa in the first fight with Clubber Lang. Not good times for Mr. Brian Cashman. Not good times at all.

3) Derek Jeter’s Contract Drama: The non-story that was a story because people get paid to write about this stuff, and we’re the suckers that buy the papers, listen to the talk shows and read the blogs, tweets, etc. The Jeter Contract story makes this list because it fits the criterion of a story of the year. It dragged out the whole damn year.

Honorable Mention: Colin Cowherd’s FUBAR reasoning behind AJ Burnett’s struggles.

THE SIGN OF THE YEAR THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS NEAR

Sometimes you can take stock in radio interviews, sometimes you can’t. Three weeks ago, I was driving to the mall on a Saturday, and I happened upon Jody Mac interviewing Wally Matthews on 1050 ESPN New York. Matthews was recounting a conversation he had with Brian Cashman in the wake of the Cliff Lee debacle. Matthews said, “One of the last things I said to him was, ‘Please tell me you’re not considering Carl Pavano.’” To which Cashman replied, “I’m not ruling anything out.”

Imagine this: Sabathia, Hughes, Burnett, Pavano, Chamberlain.

After losing out on Lee, Greinke, and Brandon Webb, who knows what will happen in the next few months? The last time Cashman said he was prepared to go into the season with what we have, it was the 2004 offseason, and he was referring to Bubba Crosby as the Yankees’ center fielder. Less than a week later, he signed Johnny Damon. The only thing that will appease fans at this point is pulling off some kind of miracle trade with Seattle that will bring Felix Hernandez to the Bronx.

BEST YANKEE BOOK THAT’S NOT REALLY A YANKEE BOOK

It actually came out in 2008, and I don’t know how I didn’t hear about this until I received it as a Christmas gift from my mom. “Babe Ruth: Remembering the Bambino in Stories, Photos & Memorabilia” by Julia Ruth Stevens, his daughter, is a fantastic coffee-table book. I’ve already spent a couple of hours just looking at the pictures and some of the pull-out replica pieces of memorabilia, including tickets from the 1922 World Series.

As much as I love the iPad, books like these make a sound argument for Traditional Media.

GAME OF THE YEAR

September 14, 2010, Yankees 8, Rays 7 (11 innings).

I know I’ll get some groans over this one. (What, no Game 1 of the ALCS?) But this game had everything: lead changes, clutch hitting, clutch defense, and a surprise ending. Jorge Posada’s home run that led off the 11th inning hit the restaurant in center field at the Trop. It left his bat like it was shot of a Howitzer. If it didn’t hit the restaurant it would have traveled another 50-75 feet easy, as writers on the scene confirmed the ball had barely begun its descent when it made contact with the plexiglass.

In the bottom half, Carl Crawford led off with a single and failed to tag to second on a deep fly ball to center by Evan Longoria, a shot that even Mariano Rivera thought was gone when it left the bat. Crawford subsequently stole second and tried to tag on a shallow fly ball to right field by Matt Joyce. Why Crawford was trying to advance to third is still unknown, but Greg Golson, flat-footed, gunned him down at third to end the game. Just a fantastic play. For me, it was the most exciting game of the year.

And yes, we were contractually obligated to throw a game-related Award into the mix.

BEST SPORTSWRITER SPAT

Emma Span did a great job of hitting the Bill Simmons-Charles Pierce spat in her recent column detailing the rampant sexism in Simmons’ “Book of Basketball“. Thus, the Murray Chass-Tom Verducci brouhaha is this year’s selection.

For background, Chass was upset that Marvin Miller didn’t receive the requisite number of votes for Hall of Fame induction. While I agree that this is an injustice and does a disservice to the Hall of Fame, in no way would I use this blog as a forum to take potshots at gentlemen I respect, scribes and broadcasters with whom I used to share press box space. Yet our friend Mr. Chass has done that repeatedly, adding to his curmudgeon persona.

Chass singled out Verducci — erroneously, as it turned out — as one of the voters who denied Miller, firing stinging commentary of Verducci’s coverage of baseball labor when he covered the subject as part of his duties at Newsday and the Long Island Daily. Granted, at that time, Verducci was in his mid-20s and Chass was still a veteran of covering New York Baseball going back to the Highlanders and the Brooklyn Robins. But still, even now, more than 20 years later, it’s poor form to so publicly deride another New York writer.

Verducci fired back:

Former players association executive director Marvin Miller issued an apology to me on Tuesday for telling a blogger that he “was told” that I was one of the five members of the Hall of Fame Expansion Era committee who did not vote for Miller in closed balloting on Monday. The published hearsay from Miller was wrong. I did vote for Miller.

The ultimate irony: Chass, famously anti-blog, attributed as a “blogger”. A tremendous Eff You cyberpunch.

MAINSTREAMER OF THE YEAR

Mark Feinsand, NY Daily News.

Consistent, accurate, and just flat-out good. Completed his ninth year on the beat, his fourth with the NYDN. Topped it off by being named President of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Like me, he’s also a long-suffering Islanders fan.

BLOG POST OF THE YEAR

Jon De Rosa’s November 14, 2015. Nothing else to say about this but pure creative genius.

BLOG POST OF THE YEAR – NON-BRONX BANTER EDITION

It’s also the non-Murray Chass edition. This was a little bit tougher, because the blogosphere stretches into the mainstream now.

I went with this one, from our good friends at the Pinstriped Bible. I chose this because Cliff nails some important points on Jesus Montero that can give us hope going into 2011, and because I’m now kicking myself that we didn’t give Frankie Piliere — whose work is referenced in the column &151; a shot to write for us at YES when he e-mailed me numerous times regarding a Farm System column.

For Cliff, yes, you get an award from your friends. This is us saying Thanks. And for Frankie, glad to see you’re rocking it at FanHouse.

Got beef? Did I miss anything? Hit ‘em up in Comments.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Games We Play  Sports Media  Will Weiss

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10 comments

1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 28, 2010 9:52 am

Will, great recap of 2010.

My game of the year was the comeback at Dodger Stadium - though that's largely due to a case of good timing.

Bought a tv earlier that day, i figured out how to get it on the wall and hooked it up and everything, and turned it on for the first time for the top of the 9th.

Saw the big comeback, two innings from Mo, and the season MVP hitting an extra inning bomb to win it.

(And also, sincere thanks for mentioning my story in your post, but I think that also has a lot to do with a good case of timing in being a recent entry.)

2 Will Weiss   ~  Dec 28, 2010 10:01 am

[1] Jon, thanks. I gave serious consideration to the Sunday Nighter at Dodger Stadium. But in looking at the Game of the Year, I have to look at the full game in its context, and the narrative for the whole thing. Like the Memorial Day game in 2000 with Clemens and Pedro (the Trot Nixon home run game, Pedro Ks 17), the July 1, 2004 game against the Red Sox. I thought in terms of a game, the Rays game was better overall, as opposed to two good innings by the Yankees. Taking nothing away from the comeback, they were lucky to win. That same reasoning disqualified Game 1 against the Rangers.

And your piece, please. It was awesome. Timing did have something to do with it, but it's very rare that I read anything anymore that makes such a profound impression. Yours did that, on a lot of levels.

3 Jon Weisman   ~  Dec 28, 2010 10:39 am

The Sunday night Yankee-Dodger game was the Dodgers' game of the year in the opposite sense.

Forgive a random question: How good a left fielder was Yogi Berra defensively?

4 Will Weiss   ~  Dec 28, 2010 10:57 am

[3] Interesting question, Jon. Having never seen him play left field other than the old films of the 1960 World Series, it's tough to judge. Putting a catcher out there, though, seems counterintuitive in an area where you need at least average speed.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 28, 2010 11:02 am

[1] It was a great post regardless of the timing!

[3] It's funny...in the past, I've researched that topic and it's hard to come up with anything conclusive. The only anectodal evidence I had found is that in game 3 of the 1960 WS, Stengel benched Berra in favor of Cerv because he was anticipating a "difficult sun field". Perhaps that was Casey's way of saying he was a little worried about Berra's defense? Houk played him out there for most of 1961, so if it was a concern, the Major didn't let it keep Yogi's bat out of the lineup.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Dec 28, 2010 11:10 am

good stuff, Will.

I'd say the Best Yankees Story of the Year was Robbie Cano. He had arguably one of the best seasons ever by a Yankees second baseman. I was a throw right/bat left 2nd baseman who grew up idolizing & studying Willie Randolph. Willie never carried the team with his bat the way Robbie did in 2010. For those of us who never gave up on Cano, his season was extremely gratifying - and there's every reason to believe there''s more where that came from.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 28, 2010 11:24 am

[6] Agree with you 100%. The (re)emergence of Cano as a bonafide star capable of carrying the torch was the most enjoyable thing about the 2010 season. I've always been a big Cano supporter, so it was, as you stated, extremely gratifying, especially when juxtaposed against the play of Matt Kemp, who was often linked to Cano in trade rumors.

8 Professor Longnose   ~  Dec 28, 2010 11:58 am

Your game of the year made it to No. 12 on MLB TV's 2010 Fantastic FInishes show. I think it was the highest Yankee game in their countdown.

9 Will Weiss   ~  Dec 28, 2010 12:03 pm

[6] Great call. Cano definitely was the team MVP, and had they won the division in decisive fashion, probably would have gotten more serious looks along with Josh Hamilton. If anything, he validated Cashman's decision all those years ago to keep him.

[8] Thanks Professor. That makes me feel better.

10 Diane Firstman   ~  Dec 28, 2010 12:30 pm

[6]

Cano had the best year for a Yankee 2B since ... Willie Randolph (1980). At least in terms of Wins Above Replacement

http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/nY4K9

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