"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Yankee Panky: It Didn't Take Long …

… for the new Yankees to make an impact, both on the field and in the media.

Case #1: Russell Martin has proven, at least through one week, to be the kind of stopgap pickup the Yankees needed in order to transition Jorge Posada to the Designated Hitter role, and allow Jesus Montero to develop further in the minor leagues. He’s shown a deftness at handling the pitching staff — in particular AJ Burnett — and is hitting well enough to give opponents pause when reaching the 8th or 9th spot in the batting order.

[And on a side note (Emma Span will appreciate this), am I the only one relieved that the Yankees don't put their players' last names on their jerseys? The Dodgers, like the Red Sox, do not embroider last names their home whites but do so for their road greys, and the "J Martin" on Russell Martin's #55 always confused me until I reviewed his profile page on Baseball Reference. He did it starting in the 2009 World Baseball Classic to honor his mother's maiden name, Jeanson, and then carried that through to the Dodgers. Here, no last name on the jersey, no confusion.]

Case #2: Rafael Soriano. There were reported warnings over the winter about Soriano’s volatile personality, but take that with a grain of salt, since the Yankees have employed award winners in that category like Raul Mondesi, Jeff Weaver and Kevin Brown, to name a few. After Soriano’s first blown hold — I’m waiting for that stat to become a boxscore staple — he pulled a Boomer Wells and left the ballpark Monday without talking to the media. He apologized the next day, but that kind of behavior, in New York especially, is like throwing live bait into a shark tank. Fans allowed Wells to get away with it because at least there was a track record of success with the Yankees: a perfect game, World Series titles, etc. Soriano had one strong setup outing for Mariano Rivera to that point.

Perhaps he got squeezed a bit on the calling of balls and strikes. Some umps will do that. Own up to the fact that you didn’t make the pitches, be accountable and man up. Talking to the media is part of a professional athlete’s job, same as going down to the clubhouse to speak to players and coaches after the game is part of a reporter’s job. Soriano placed more of a focus on himself and extended the news cycle for really, two more days, due to Wednesday’s rainout. Until he proves otherwise, questions abound whether he’ll ditch the media again after another implosion in the future.

It’s right for reporters and columnists to draw that conclusion. Soriano brought it on himself.

IN OTHER NEWS…

* Congratulations to friend of the Banter Larry Koestler, whose insightful post at YankeeAnalysts on Phil Hughes’ cutter landed him a guest spot on ESPN.com’s SweetSpot podcast, with Eric Karabell and Keith Law.

Let’s see what happens with that pitch against the winless Red Sox.

* Mark Teixeira is a 3-run homer machine.

* Strange-but-true stat: AJ Burnett is 7-0 in April since becoming a Yankee. Not that that means much, considering he was winless in both June and August last year. Just an interesting nugget. Thursday’s win put him over .500 (25-24) as a Yankee.

* The rainout pushed Freddy Garcia’s season debut to Friday, April 15.

* In case you missed it, Derek Jeter passed Rogers Hornsby on the all-time hit list and is now 69 hits from 3,000.

12 comments

1 monkeypants   ~  Apr 8, 2011 9:09 am

[0] He’s shown a deftness at handling the pitching staff — in particular AJ Burnett...

Hmmmm. The starters not named "CC" have ERA's of 4.09, 4.50 and 11.25. Yes, 4.09 so far for AJ is better than last year's disaster (but remember how Burnett began last season?), but unless Martin is to be credited for CC's nice start to the season, it's a stretch to make any claim one way or another about his "deftness" and "handling" the staff.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Apr 8, 2011 9:33 am

In case you missed it, Derek Jeter passed Rogers Hornsby on the all-time hit list and is now 69 hits from 3,000.

...and in honor of that, I offer this musical tribute that is not related in any way to this achievement except by name and the opportunity to slap you with a weak, yet obvious pun.

3 The Hawk   ~  Apr 8, 2011 9:37 am

[1] It's good to remember that the starters not named CC are question marks at best. And going by ERA early in the season when successful outings tend to be shorter is a mistake. The ERA of 4.5 looks mediocre but it's indicative of one game which was a quality start of 6 innings, 3 earned runs. I haven't heard of anyone being anything but pleased with Nova's performance in that game.

Credit can reasonably be given to Martin for guiding the young man to a successful first game, and for Burnett's lack of implosion thus far.

Starting pitching has been good overall, aside from Hughes's terrible game.

I like the looks of Martin so far but I'm sure if he doesn't produce, I won't like the looks of him, hahaha.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 8, 2011 10:09 am

[1] I'd look at it a bit differently, the Yanks have had 6 games, they've had good or acceptable starts (for me) in 5 out of 6.

The only game where the starter disappointed me was the hughes game.

5 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 8, 2011 10:20 am

[And on a side note (Emma Span will appreciate this), am I the only one relieved that the Yankees don't put their players' last names on their jerseys? The Dodgers, like the Red Sox, do not embroider last names their home whites but do so for their road greys,
=========================================

Aren't you glad your name isn't Jarrod Saltalamacchia? (yes, at 20 letters, the LONGEST first and last name in ML history) ....

I'll have a post next week on the longest names in Yankee history.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 8, 2011 11:03 am

Re the Soriano kerfluffel: it may be the Yankees policy that players have to talk to the press after a game, but correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's a rule, or any contractual obligation to do so.

The way I see it, and I think most fans would agree - Soriano's job is to pitch, and to get out of innings as quickly as possible. Why should he have to talk to the press after he has a rough night? He didn't even take a phone call from his mother after the game, but he's supposed to talk to reporters? Nonsens
Sports writers are a bunch of whiners when it comes to this subject. If a politician makes a mistake does he have to answer questions about it that same night? if a movie tanks on it's opening weekend, are the stars, the director, and writer pressed to explain themselves immediately?

Nowhere except in the sports media do people expect and demand immediate answers.
When public figures screw up, they're usually held accountable, and most of them come around to talking about it eventually. Why are athletes expected to explain themselves on a reporter's or producer's deadline. It's nonsense.

Did the world stop spinning because we had to wait for Soriano to explain why he had a crappy game? The sports media needs to get over itself, and wait for answers like the rest of us. Enough whining about athletes who don't give you quotes before deadline

7 rbj   ~  Apr 8, 2011 11:09 am

I'm going to give Soriano a pass on this kerfluffle. Call it on the job training and move on. Besides, we've got a weekend series in Fenway, it'd be nice to make Boston start 0-9.

8 The Hawk   ~  Apr 8, 2011 12:11 pm

Yeah I think if no-one in the press complained, fans really wouldn't have noticed. I wouldn't have, anyway

9 Will Weiss   ~  Apr 8, 2011 12:23 pm

[6] In theory, I agree with your assessment. Please don't mistake my observation for whining. ... You said it yourself: there's no rule or obligation. I get that, but there IS an unwritten rule that it's part of the job. Not knowing your line of work, if someone, or something, that you were reliant upon that directly affected your project for that particular day suddenly went to pot, would you be upset? That's the point. It's a matter of professionalism. Nothing else.

10 51cq24   ~  Apr 8, 2011 12:47 pm

i guess i haven't been on here in a while, but why did wordpress just make me re-register my name?

[9] but you did say "Talking to the media is part of a professional athlete’s job, same as going down to the clubhouse to speak to players and coaches after the game is part of a reporter’s job." these are clearly not equivalent: one is actually part of the job description; one is not. i understand that we like to say that if you want to be in the spotlight and make all the money that entails, you have to accept media scrutiny and all that. and there's a certain amount of sense to that, especially when we're talking about someone in a leadership position that requires transparency. but on the flip side, do we want to make that acceptance a prerequisite for all public figures, such that only a certain type of person can fill those rolls? as far as i'm concerned, that's an unnecessary and unwise requirement that has very little to do with how competent a person is at his job.

sure, maybe it sucks for a reporter if a player doesn't talk to the media after a game. but come on, big deal. first of all, it's not like the player is talking to some reporters but not others, so you're all in the same boat. second, do you really need the player's own reaction to his performance to write about it? i guess it comes down to the fact that i don't give a shit what the players think or do outside of the game, and i realize that some people do, but i don't really understand why.

11 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 8, 2011 3:55 pm

9) sorry, Will, I wasn't suggesting you were whining. My rant was aimed more at the sports media in general. I'd rather not say what I specifically do, but i've been required to meet hourly, and daily deadlines for over 20 years. I empathize with the sports media,s pressure to produce timely reports, but I think it holds it's subjects to an unreasonable standard. If a subject doesnt want to talk, I think sports writers and producers should respect that, and give them their space - not make a federal case about it.
Other factions of the media seem to be more reasonable than daily sports beat folk when it comes to subjects who refuse to cooperate with them on their terms. Other factions of the media don't seem to make as big a deal about it. Do you agree?

12 Will Weiss   ~  Apr 9, 2011 3:08 pm

[9] Sorry to have gotten defensive. [11] And I do agree that some factions of the media don't seem to make as big a stink when their interview subjects are uncooperative or go rogue. Daily beat stuff is tough, though. Police beat, sports, politics. You'll find similarities there. In this case, there was news and the newsmaker split. That's bad form.

The point, and this is for [10[ too, similar to what Bruce Markusen said in the later post, is that we're all supposed to be held accountable. Postgame is definitely more of a pool reporting situation, I grant you that, but to have everyone else pick up the pieces for you makes you a crap teammate. When you enter into certain lines of work, you accept certain responsibilities. For example, many companies require their employees to sign a waiver denoting that any and all work produced by that employee belongs to the company. Professional athletes made a choice to enter that line of work and to deal with all the trappings of what it entails, including dealing with the media. No, sticking around for postgame interviews is not a job requirement, it's just the right thing to do. I equate it to not signing your scorecard in a golf tournament after you've played a bad round. Man up, sign it, and improve.

I would have preferred to not go to the clubhouse after games to get quotes during my reporting days, but the job requires it to add context, regardless of the trite stuff that is said, and regardless of whether or not you care what is said.

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