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Tag: New York Daily News

Yankee Panky: The Tao of Pooh-vano

There was so much hype about Carl Pavano facing the Yankees. The tabloids ate it up, and Suzyn Waldman, as far back as the Texas series, said, “If there’s any justice, C.C. Sabathia will pitch against Carl Pavano in Cleveland.”

Sabathia and Pavano both pitched, but not against each other. Sabathia faced his No. 2 two years ago, Fausto Carmona, on Saturday, while Pavano squared off against Phil Hughes, which may have been a more intriguing matchup considering Pavano’s history with the Yankees and his five victories in May, and Hughes’ stellar outing in Texas and continued effort to stay in the rotation.

As I was listening to the game on the radio (another Sunday spent driving), I got to thinking about the myriad options the local editors and writers had for the game. Would Pavano be the lead? Would I make Phil Hughes’ mediocre start coupled by Chien-Ming Wang’s three scoreless innings of relief the lead, playing up the intrigue of Wang’s possible return to the rotation? Poor umpiring was a theme of the day. Where would that fit in? Are all these topics combined into one or do you do take one story as your base and go with the others as supplemental pieces?

I probably would have made Pavano the focus of the game story and made Hughes/Wang a featured supplement, tying in the early note that Andy Pettitte expects to be ready to start on Wednesday. How would you have presented Sunday’s game? Thinking of the broadest audience possible, how would you have set up your Yankees section as an editor? How would you have attacked the game if you were on-site? It’s two different thought processes. I’m curious to get your thoughts.

An examination of the eight local papers covering the Yankees revealed the following:

NY TIMES: Jack Curry had Pavano leading but alluded to the Hughes/Wang situation, melding everything into a tidy recap with analysis and historical context. Typical goods from Mr. Curry.

NEWSDAY: Three individual stories from Erik Boland, who’s now off the Jets beat and has replaced Kat O’Brien: Hughes/Wang leading, a Pavano piece tied with notes, and a short piece on Gardner’s failure to steal.

NY POST: As of this writing, only George King’s recap had been posted. Interesting to see that he focused on the bullpen, specifically Coke and David Robertson. (Had I been reporting, that would have been the angle I took with the game recap.)

NY DAILY NEWS: Mark Feinsand tied everything together, but it looked and read strangely like an AP wire story.

JOURNAL NEWS: No full game recap posted, but Pete Abe gives more in about 200 words on a blog than most other scribes do in 800.

STAR LEDGER: Marc Carig copied off Erik Boland’s paper in that he had individual stories on Gardner and Wang/Hughes, But he had a couple of other tidbits: 1) His recap was short and had additional bulletpointed notes. I thought this was an interesting format. It reminded me of an anchor calling highlights and then reading key notes off the scoreboard graphic. 2) He had a full feature on Phil Coke and his blaming the umpire’s call on the 3-2 pitch to Trevor Crowe. Check out the last paragraph. Looks like he copied off Pete Abe’s paper, too.

BERGEN RECORD: Only one story on the game from Pete Caldera, but boy does he know how to write a lead paragraph.

HARTFORD COURANT: Associated Press recap. Not much to say except this paper is an example of what’s happening in the industry. Dom Amore’s words are missed.

And this just in … on the “Inside Pitch” segment of the midnight ET edition of Baseball Tonight, Karl Ravech and Peter Gammons said the Yankees were the best team in baseball. This revelation comes hours after the ESPN ticker read “Pavano dominates Yankees” in the first half of its description of the game. I’m not sure what to make of this. I know Ravech, my fellow Ithaca College alum, is as good as it gets, but when Gammons agrees, I get concerned.

I’d say the best team is the team with the best record, and the team that’s playing most consistently on a daily basis. That team is being managed by Joe Torre.

Yankee Panky: Hodgepodge

An open letter to A-Rod’s handlers …

To whom it may concern:

In light of recent events where Alex Rodriguez has spoken to the media, in both controlled and extemporaneous settings, it is my belief that you should consider a gag order for your client/relative. (New York Times columnist Harvey Araton agrees.) Certainly, you’ve read the analysis of his press conference performance in this space and elsewhere, and are aware of the dent your client/relative’s credibility has taken. This past week, his comments about Jose Reyes would have been fine if he hadn’t added these 13 words: “I wish he was leading off on our team, playing on our team.” In fact, it spurred the Daily News to run a Top 10 list of dumbest A-Rod quotes last Wednesday.

Now, with the labrum tear in his hip — naturally, people will jump to conclusions that it’s steroid-related, despite reports to the contrary — there are greater questions to ponder. Why do the partial surgery as opposed to getting the whole thing done? Is this short-term solution best for the long term? What led to that decision? Is Alex in consistent pain? Does the hip hurt after extended periods of rest? Sleep? How about walking up and down stairs? While cortisone shots would help, would they have an adverse effect on the healing process? Inquiring fans want to know, provided he can tell us something without inadvertently offending someone and then issue an apology through a publicist. Maybe the Yankees don’t want him to speak and potentially say anything incriminating. Judging from the commentary of how the organization has handled his hip injury over the last 10 months, you have to wonder if Brian Cashman and the rest of the brass are not fully committed to nine more years of Alex Rodriguez in a Yankee uniform.

We know Alex is going to be a target. He’s the highest paid and arguably most talented player in professional baseball. In general, Yankee fans are concerned about his health, mainly because it’s impossible to replace the production he can provide in the lineup. He’s still the most important piece to their offense. We want to see Alex recover, get back on the field and help the Yankees win their first World Series since the turn of the century. What we don’t want to see is him speaking to the media, fumbling his words and giving us more reasons to liken him to Manny Ramirez with a different type of insanity. Some fans are already at that point.

Maybe Bernie Williams is right; time away from the team, and the game, will be good for him.

We hope so.

Will Weiss


• Harvey Araton espouses on the First Amendment, A-Rod, and Selena Roberts in a column published last Monday. For anyone entering Journalism School or interested in reporting and mass communication/media theory, this is a must-read. [Props to Diane Firstman for the recommendation.]

• With A-Rod out, the shift in Yankee coverage is shifting toward C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. This makes sense, since both will be under even more pressure to perform, now that the team will be without Rodriguez for an extended period of time.

• Though he’s not affiliated with the YES Network anymore on a full-time basis, Jim Kaat shared his thoughts on the PED issue with Kevin Kernan of the Post, and proved once again why he’s one of the classiest individuals you’ll ever meet.

• Maybe this is being nitpicky, but did anyone else notice that the flag patch on the right sleeve of the United States’ World Baseball Classic team’s uniforms had the stars on the wrong side? (It was in the upper right corner, instead of upper left.) Neither Dave O’Brien nor Rick Sutcliffe noticed it on the ESPN broadcast. And nothing I read as far as game coverage noticed the gaffe.

NEXT WEEK: What should the key stories be as we count down to Opening Day, and how would you like to see them covered? Send your submissions here.

Until then …

Yankee Panky: Slow Goings, Until Now

If you’re hungry for action on the Hot Stove, mid-January is a time that will leave you starving. There’s plenty of analysis of the Yankees’ 40-man roster and prospects in the trades. Locally, the stories have revolved around the Yankees’ pursuit or non-pursuit of Manny Ramirez and Ben Sheets, the arbitration roundup, the list of players representing their respective countries in the World Baseball Classic in March, the team’s move to the new Stadium, and the politics of how the Stadium’s construction was financed.

With all this in mind, the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting has become more prevalent.

Speaking of pitchers, are the Yankees going back to the well with Andy Pettitte? That appears to be the case, according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record.

If Pettitte truly wants to be in a Yankee uniform when the new stadium opens in April, he’ll swallow his pride and assume some accountability for the salary-based standoff. If he reads the reports of who the Yankees have vying for the fifth starter spot, he’ll see that he’s a better option than the unproven – or mediocre, depending on your perspective – law firm of Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, Coke & Johnson. If the reports are true that the Yankees still prefer him over that quintet, then Pettitte has even more incentive to re-engage in discussions, and compromise with Brian Cashman.

This situation is different than 2003, when the Yankees’ concern about Pettitte’s arm led them to shy away from negotiating with him. Pettitte then signed with the Astros and made the Yankees look good when a forearm injury limited him to just 15 starts in ‘04.

The Pettitte saga has been a recurring topic in this space all winter also, and judging from the comments, I’d estimate it’s about 70-30 against Pettitte returning. From a baseball sense, though, if he and the Yankees agreed to a one-year deal in the $11-$12 million range as opposed to the $10-$10.5MM number, would you be opposed? I wouldn’t, especially if it meant 12-15 wins from the No. 5 spot. The possibility of his ascension to the fourth spot can’t be discounted, either; Joba Chamberlain could go down with an injury or be moved to the bullpen at some point.

For the next three weeks, this is the story to watch.

As for off-field news, per the New York Post and the Daily News, the next eight days leading up to the Feb. 3 release of Tom Verducci’s book “The Yankee Years,” with Joe Torre, are sure to be laced with all the venom, vitriol and public betrayal worthy of an Aaron Spelling drama. The revelation that Alex Rodriguez was fragile, narcissistic, had a “Single White Female”-level obsession with Derek Jeter, and had a clubhouse attendant run errands for him is not news. Torre crying foul on the character of GM Brian Cashman, who was long considered to be Torre’s greatest supporter in the wake of Hurricane Steinbrenner, is a surprise.

In the book, Torre states that Cashman’s public advocacy during the contract negotiations that followed the 2007 season was a façade. As The News’s Bill Madden reported:

According to a source familiar with the book, Torre does not step out of character. He simply recites the facts as he saw them and does not unfairly disparage the Yankees.

On SportsCenter Sunday morning, Buster Olney corroborated Madden’s assessment and confirmed that it is public record that the one-year offer the Yankees made was due to Cashman’s influence. A clip of Torre’s farewell press conference from Oct. 19, 2007, was run to illustrate the point that Torre and Cashman worked together to hammer out a deal. Olney also noted that in Torre’s first book, “Chasing the Dream: My Lifelong Journey to the World Series,” published in 1998, the ex-manager expressed dismay at the way the Steinbrenners viewed him. Right or wrong, Torre’s sensitivity to Steinbrenner criticism was the backdrop for much of his Yankee tenure.

Torre did have protection, though, and not only in the way of Cashman. I’ve thought that ever since Steve Swindal’s DUI arrest and fall from grace from the Steinbrenner family in February of ‘07, that Torre’s departure was imminent. I was in Tampa five years ago when Torre negotiated a three-year extension. At the ensuing press conference, Torre said that a meeting with Swindal helped get it done. I came away from that presser with the impression that amid the internal battle for power, as long as Swindal and Cashman were there, then Torre was “safe.” When Swindal literally and figuratively drove himself away, an “every man for himself” scenario developed.

I’ve had conversations on this topic with a few Bronx Banter colleagues, and I’m of the opinion that if Cashman did in fact betray Torre, it was to save his own job. Following the ’07 playoff debacle, it was clear that when it came to Torre and Cashman and their places with the organization in 2008, one or both of them would be gone. Cashman pulled a classic SYA move.

Torre pulled a classic move also: blasting his former employer in order to spike book sales. Does he have a right to be bitter? Perhaps. Was Chris Russo correct in his assessment of Torre, that the Yankee money kept him in New York for 12 years? Maybe. We may never know.

To that point,  judging from the excerpts I’ve read of the Verducci book, and from the strong comments in Alex Belth’s earlier post in this space, all parties involved have their own version of the truth. I believe the truth lies somewhere between Torre, Cashman, Verducci and select members of the Yankees’ front office. Torre will say his peace on “Late Show with David Letterman” on the book’s release date. Cashman will likely comment this week. For his role as the messenger, Verducci will have to answer for himself at some point, maybe on one of his stints on MLB Network.

We as fans, as usual, will be left to draw conclusions and take sides.


PROGRAM NOTE: Yankee Panky is on baby watch. I’m in the Red Zone, as my wife is due with our first child any day now. My next post will take place when I settle in at home following the birth.

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