Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Circle Your Calendar

When we first started this site you didn't have to look very far to find something, anything, that had shared relevance for the Yankees and Red Sox. The did, quite literally, compete for everything, and pretty much did so alone. The emergence of Tampa Bay in 2008 changed that. That has it's pluses and minuses. It's nice to have a break from the constant Yankees/Red Sox tension. It's not so nice to have so much competition in the division for playoff spots.

Either way, it's still nice when we do come across something of shared relevance for the Yankees and Red Sox. That is what we have in the four game set coming up between the two teams at Yankee Stadium August 6-9. Not just because of the games either, but we'll get to the other stuff in a second, because the games are big. In three of the last four years ('06, '07, and '09) the Yankees have swept big August series against the Red Sox. They can ill afford to have that happen this year given their current position in the standings. Likewise, the Yankees have 10 games left with Boston, and they can't afford a letdown. Not only is it an ample opportunity for Boston to gain direct ground on them in the standings, but its an even better opportunity for Tampa Bay to move up if the Yankees get caught up with the Red Sox. 10 seems like a lot of games now, but 6 doesn't seem nearly as big in relation to any of these issues, and that's what it will be when this series finishes, which is why it is so big.

It's also big because we'll have a better idea of where both teams stand moving forward. The trade deadline will just have passed, so the teams they run out there for this series will likely be the teams they run with for the rest of the season, save injury considerations. Both teams have some deliberating to do between now and then, as both teams have needs. The Yankees are a pretty good team, but in a tough division have room to improve. If they make the playoffs, they have plenty of room to become more complete in terms of winning short series. Considering they should be thinking towards the playoffs whether they make it or not given their current record, they may make a move.

The Red Sox are on pace to win over 92 games, and as of right now that may not be good enough to make the playoffs. They are one big acquisition away from leap frogging both the Yankees and Rays, however, as that's how close these three teams are in terms of talent. That said, with their injuries considered, they need to decide if they want to go for it and give up prospects to make that move. Whether they do or don't impacts not only them, but the other two top teams in this division.

We'll have a much clearer picture regarding all of this when this series ends August 9. A few big weeks between now and then for both teams on the schedule. And then a really big series that weekend.

8 comments:

the gm said...

Completely out of scope, but I cannot believe the continued unprofessionalism by Bob Davidson. This is the same umpire who called a balk because his flight was leaving Baltimore during a 2005 game, the same umpire who threw John Lackey out of his first game after an injury, and the same umpire who instigated controversy in the papers with Ted Lilly and went after Carl Crawford earlier this year.

The fact that he's one of the worst-rated umpires in baseball is one thing: crew chief/1999 history-changer Tim Tschida wouldn't have it any other way. But this is one of the guys that we--and especially Pat--has been talking about. The umpires who think they are bigger than the game, the umpires who think fans show up to see them. Guys exactly like Bob Davidson, going out of their way to instigate players, are a big problem in this sport right now.

In the tenth inning tonight, Coco Crisp struck out swinging, said something on his way back to the dugout, and as he continued to walk away, Davidson said something.

It must have been something really bad. Because Crisp flipped the F out in a way we haven't seen since the James Shields incident in June 2008. He got in Davidson's face in such a way that he had to be restrained. Very much like Carl Crawford (also against the Red Sox) back two months ago. There is no doubt Davidson crossed a line just as he did with Crawford. And, as usual, there will be no discipline against the guy.

He also tossed John Farrell after a series of controversial calls, further delaying the game. The way I see it, if both teams are furious with you, and Remy had previously made jokes about you, you're doing something wrong. The guy is bad at his job, has an overeager propensity for the hook, and has a documented history of inciting a riot (I use that term in honor of Steinbrenner). What a friggin joke.

I am pretty mad that the team lost a game with playoff intensity for much of it. But I am more mad at Davidson. You're an umpire. Nobody's paying to see you call the game. So stop trying to take it over.

Anonymous said...

PF

The only problem I could see for the Yankees on the horizon is starting pitching issues. Lately, Burnett, Hughes, and Pettitte have all either struggled to produce or been injured, or both. Other than that, the Yankees just keep rolling along, and have enough of a lead on Boston that I doubt Boston will overtake them. Ultimately, the Yankees will likely win the division and the Sox and Rays will battle for the wild card. Also, I agree about 92 wins--it's not going to be enough.

DV

I don't really understand why professional sports leagues allow certain officials/referees/umpires to have such a hard time handling players. Sure, there are a lot of athletes that are a pain in the ass, and clearly most of them are in the NBA (would you want to officiate a game played by Rasheed Wallace or Allen Iverson?). But, still, the job is a lucrative one, certainly much more so than for the average American. Why not get rid of guys like Bob Davidson? If all the players not only dislike him, but think he's incompetent, why not grab some young guy from Triple-A? Would he be any worse? At the very least, you'd think that one of the job requirements for an umpire should be a personality screening--if a person can't relate to people/adequately communicate/handle criticism/respond to criticism appropriately, then how can they do the job day in and day out?

--the Gunn

PF said...

Some very interesting points here. Tying two of them together, dv says we pay to see the players and gunn says that some players are difficult to deal with just like some umpires, both of which are very true. However with those players, they are the most elite talents at their sport in the world. That's what we have here with all four major professional sports in this country. Does that make it ok that they are tough to deal with? No, but it explains why we deal with less than desirable on field personalities and actions from them - to see them display their unique talents.

My question is the same as gunn's - why do we put up with this from umpires and refs? You can't apply the same logic to them as the players. They aren't unique talents to the point where nobody else can do what they do, as is the case with the players. If we wanted to, I'm pretty sure anyone on here that knows the game could devote a few years to umpiring school and become at least a decent ump. Or ref if they went to reffing school for one of the other sports. Why do I think that? Because that's what these guys all do. They don't have any special umping/reffing talent, they decide they want to do it and learn how to do so. Just like most other professions. So if they are like most other professions (and unlike unique professions like pro athletes) why do we allow them to perform their job at a level that would be completely unacceptable at other jobs?

I don't want to group all refs/umps in with this, because clearly some are very good at what they do. There are also some that have a total skillset that makes them really good at this job, moreso than just anybody would be. But like some said, there are some that just are not. And I do not understand why we continue to accept and allow this when we would be losing nothing from the game by replacing them with someone who is better at the job.

PF said...

*but like *gunn* said, there are some that are just not.

the gm at work said...

The short answer on the umpire/referee situation:

Union labor.

Perhaps the most antiquated, inefficient institution in the American economy.

the gm at work said...

Pat just texted me, and this text reminded me that I was so mad last night that I forgot the most important part. After Coco was tossed and was being restrained by his manager, Davidson was laughing at him. How unprofessional is that? He most likely said something to set Coco off, and then was pretty much like "come at me bro." If he acts inappropriately, due to the fact that all the umpires (hello Tschida) stand up for each other, there's no accountability. Coco can't retaliate because that would just lead to a suspension.

It was exactly the same as the Maddon/Crawford situation two months ago. This guy is just looking for a reason. It's almost like an American League pitcher throwing at people: He's not going to personally get punished for it unless the batter charges the mound. Then the batter just gets fined and suspended. So why not act like a complete dickhead?

the gm at work said...

The fact that he incited BOTH teams is especially telling as well.

TimC said...

What I STILL don't get is how hockey referees rarely get any flak from the players (from my limited point of view, at least). At the very least, it seems to be at a much lower level than the abuse hurled at umpires and referees in football, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc., etc. Even during my days in high school volleyball, I can recall some instances where there was some player/referee friction.

PF, the point you made about the upcoming trade deadline was a terrific comment. The Yankees, at six games up for a playoff spot, can at least think about making moves to shore up the team with a short series in mind. The Red Sox, having to now fight tooth and nail to get into the postseason, will need to make a move aimed at qualifying.

It reminds me of the last time I played fantasy basketball, back in tenth grade. My team had made the semi-finals and, with just a three-day weekend to go, held a small but decisive lead given the games the players on my team and my opponent's had to play and the way in which our stats had accumulated to that point. With elimination inevitable, my opponent gutted half his roster to pick up guys that had multiple games during the weekend in exchange for guys who sat or who might only play once. The moves worked, enabling him to come from behind to knock me out and advance to the title game. The punchline is that he got crushed in the championship thanks to having released some of his top players in order to pick up those guys that he needed to stay alive.

Now, that story might better illustrate why you don't trade for Gagne's (as in, you don't hurt yourself in the future in exchange for some quick gratification) as opposed to how the last two months of this season might play out. But, unlike what Theo, Billy Beane, and those who think reading Moneyball and following baseball are the same thing, the post-season is NOT a crapshoot. It simply requires a completely different type of roster than regular season baseball. Seeing as how there are no drafts, trades, or free agent periods in early October, the team that builds for the regular season might not be ready for the playoffs (and, the team that builds for the playoffs might not MAKE the playoffs!). The Yankees, at the very least, have the luxury of thinking a couple of months ahead as the deadline approaches. The Sox, who could probably use another bullpen guy or a bench bat in the playoffs, might have to make a different kind of move just to keep playing.

P.S.- I actually shouldn't lump Beane in as his resources limit him from constructing for the playoffs. Still, I saw the words "crapshoot" and "playoffs" appear in the same sentence thanks to his comments.