Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Youz Doin

This is the final post.  After this one, we'll be closing up shop and the 1,645 posts and over 12,650 comments on How Youz Doin Baseball will probably just occupy Internet space for eternity.  It will be a good running record on the state of the Yankees, Red Sox, baseball, and life in general between the years of 2007 and 2011.  It was an interesting time period for both teams, the sports, and two American twenty-somethings growing up, and I don't think it's necessary for us to go over all the stuff that's taken place. 

It also, at least for me and for Pat, gave us a way to stay connected (probably too connected) to the game we've loved since we were kids.  Part of what made college special was the fact that I got an opportunity to argue with someone from the other side of the rivalry who had the same intensity, passion, and knowledge of the game that I had.  Despite the fact that we didn't like each other's teams, Pat and I seemed to agree on quite a bit, including how stupid it was for the Red Sox to trade Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.

The day, at least in my mind, that this blog became virtually unavoidable was the day our senior year when Sanchez threw the no-hitter.  Meanwhile, Ramirez won the Rookie of the Year, Lowell went about a month without an extra-base hit, and Beckett gave up 36 home runs.  That day, and my apologies for entering the Rocky III semi-weird area here, was the day I disappeared for three hours, seeking refuge and a place to vent at Pat's senior apartment.  Over the previous three years, Pat and I had spent countless hours coming up with clever ways to present baseball arguments - many of which are still hovering in the vapor over Dana Dining Hall or Alfond Athletic Center, and some of which were tragically deleted forever once we X'ed out our AOL Instant Messenger windows.  (In fact, in honor of my screen name, Pat's girlfriend tolerated a certain amount of "Tuna Time" every night so we could discuss baseball over A.I.M.) 

I'd say it was sometime in mid-2006 that Pat started planting the idea in my head that we should go in together on a baseball blog.  I was initially hesitant about the idea because I knew that once it started, I wouldn't be able to give a 99% effort on it.  But after three hours of my venting, profanities, and baseball frustration disguised as "insight" and "being right all the time" on Anibal Sanchez Night, Pat started pressing harder for the idea.  Two and a half months later, once the boy wonder signed JD Drew and Julio Lugo (five years ago tonight, in fact!), it was pretty much time to start planning.  So in February 2007, instead of having it all X'ed out at the end of a conversation, we started a blog so that we could eventually look back on how correct, incorrect, and/or entertaining our arguments were.

It wasn't too long until we reached my first goal:  To be able to refer to our own previous writing.  After a while, we developed a following.  We accumulated a small, but loyal and prolific community of followers who contributed to our comments section, including friends from school, friends from home, friends from work, and a couple of people who we either knew vaguely or didn't know at all.  We made it to a point where we reached nearly 15,000 hits a year, and most posts gathered dozens of comments.  With links coming from a couple of Yankee sites, one really popular Boston site, a Kansas City newspaper, and the foremost Tampa Bay Rays blog, our little blog became a lot bigger than we thought it would be. 
Over the years, when most of us graduated from college, got real jobs and lost the time to post during the work day, our lives changed and perhaps the quality of the blog receded a bit (not to mention Pat and I being at each other's throats for a lot of '09 and '10), we kept it going because it was fun to keep that conversation going.  I can speak for both of us by saying that if we didn't have the constant back-and-forth with our little community, we would have been out of the game years ago.

But it was you guys who kept it fun.  It was Bandi, the Gunn, Tim C, Ross Kaplan, and Jason who started as significant contributors and have stayed with us for the entire duration.  Over the years, we had (and occasionally still do have) From the Bronx, John, Mr. H, Rocci, Frankie Firefox, ZWeiss, Mike V, Jvins, Matt, the Big Ticket, Craig, Jack Sox, JFlu, Jon, Beau, Marino, and probably a few others I had forgotten.  You guys came up with some of the clever, insightful, and refreshing opinions that Pat and I were often unable to come up with ourselves.  In many different homes and workplaces throughout the country, I think there were and are people who checked How Youz Doin regularly and got a couple of laughs or some insightful baseball knowledge by following their bookmark to How Youz Doin Baseball. 

I'm proud of the body of work that Pat and I put together.  But I'm equally proud and grateful for the work that went into the 12,000 comments from our readers.  You really made it fun for Pat and me.  It's a lot more gratifying than having one of the countless other blogs across the Web that never got a comment, tossed out a couple of posts, published a normal post on a random Wednesday, and never was logged into again.

I also want to take a quick minute to thank my family for being among the silent followers of the blog, who took some of the stuff from How Youz Doin Baseball and started conversations about it at the dinner table.  I'm also very grateful to my fiancee, who had to share me with Pat and the blog from our three-month anniversary all the way to the present.  Somehow, me talking trash over the internet until 11:30 PM instead of coming to bed wasn't a dump-able offense, and that's pretty nice to know.  She didn't even get mad about last month's Coco Crisp post other than saying that her ex-boyfriend wouldn't have minded.  Same goes to Pat's girlfriend and Boston native Allie, who's been tolerant of what has undoubtedly been several thousand hours of Tuna Time.

Lastly, I want to thank Pat for three things.  First, thanks for getting me into the blog thing in the first place.  How Youz Doin, strangely enough, helped me professionally on a few occasions, as I got to talk about my baseball blog during a chamber of commerce event about two years ago.  Second, thanks for your tireless efforts in being just as big a part of this blog as I was despite not having enough passion for writing to use spell check (your words, not mine).  Your opinions brought balance to the blog and invaluable opinions that, at least in my eyes, shaped the way a lot of us view the game.  I think most of us in the comments section think your input had more impact on our relationship with baseball more than Bill James's input did.  Lastly, thanks for staying with it as long as you did.  I know that you probably could have called it quits two years ago, but you stayed aboard anyway and maintained our challenging schedule.  This is not ignored and will not be forgotten.

If Pat and I live until we're roughly 88 years old, our time writing for How Youz Doin Baseball, but moreso receiving immeasurable entertainment, insight, and a sense of purpose from this blog, will have been a central part of about 1/18 of our lives.  One eighteenth, of course, would be the equivalent of one half-inning of a baseball game.  And as we all know, one half-inning can make all the difference in the world.  Thanks to Pat and thanks to you all for being part of it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thanks For A Great 5 Seasons

This is my last post. DV has one more tomorrow, and that's it for new content on this website. Before that happens I wanted to say a few words to wrap things up on my end.

I first met DV in September of 2003. Oddly enough - as we would go on to author a website together for 5 years - it was in a Freshman Composition/Writing Requirement class in college. I remember talking a little bit about the 2003 ALCS, but on a very general level given that we didn't know each other that well yet (there was no trash talking that I can recall, nothing like what it would be like if a series like that occurred now). DV was authoring a different website at the time, and I remember him giving me the link and me checking it out.

The first acute conversation I remember having with DV about baseball was the day the Yankees traded for Javier Vazquez (the first time). We had class that day (it was actually our last day of class, I think), and I remember I was somewhat reserved about the signing (remember this was back when the Yankees were going to the World Series every year, and getting a lion's share of the bigtime free agents and trade candidates). DV, on the other hand, was flipping out. Capital letters. I remember him pointing out that Vazquez's 241 strikeouts were 3rd to only Kerry Wood and Mark Prior in the game that year, and that he was not happy that the Yankees closed this deal after besting the Red Sox in the ALCS. Little did I know this was the first of many DV flip outs I would witness, and that it was extremely tame in comparison to what he is capable of.

From that point forward DV and I talked baseball a lot for the next 3 years. At the athletic center crossing paths to and from basketball/track practice, around campus (anytime I picked up a package at the mailroom when DV was working was always a great time to get him riled up about whatever Red Sox related issue he was ticked off about at the time), and lots, and lots, and lots of AIM conversations.

Like any sports fanatic in college, I was having similar conversations with other people. Bandi, The Gunn, Kaplan, The Big Ticket, TimC, and on and on. In large part this site was just a continuation of those conversations, just with the ability to include everyone in them at once. And that was, without question, the best part of this project for me. This site never became widely popular, and I'm not sure we ever intended for it to be. It was a place to continue to talk Yankees/Red Sox, baseball, and sports with our buddies after college just like we did in college, with a few others joining and adding to the conversation along the way.

For that DV and I have to thank our readers. All of them, and especially the group that came to read and comment pretty much every day. A few people have made comments during DV's (excellent) Greatest Hits series about realizing how often they commented. And that's absolutely correct. There is no way DV and I would have written posts for this long if we weren't debating those posts in the comments section. I mean, a lot of the time we didn't even talk about the content of the posts. We just talked about whatever somebody felt like talking about.

And that's what made this site worthwhile to maintain for five baseball seasons. Sports is an outlet for me, a hobby, a fun diversion from the things in life that are actually serious. The Yankees are my favorite team, and baseball is my favorite outlet/hobby/diversion, and this was a place to talk about the Yankees and baseball with some really knowledgeable baseball fans.

I'm not sure exactly why DV and I decided to start this site. I remember him interning at a radio station, talking about how cool it would be to have a talk show, and that morphing into the idea of maybe having a website. I remember grabbing lunch together at the dining hall one time to discuss logistics, DV coming up with the name How Youz Doin Baseball (based on the fact that I was always using sayings like that at the time), DV wrote our first post, and away we went. Whatever the exact reasoning was, I'm glad we did it. I had a lot of fun with this, my baseball knowledge increased greatly as a result, and my overall Yankees/baseball following experience was enhanced. This was primarily because of the people that came to read and comment.

Of course, I owe a big thanks to DV as well. His energy, abilities as a writer, baseball knowledge, and passion for the Red Sox were a huge part of starting this site and maintaining it for as long as we did. He put a lot of time and effort into this, and anyone who enjoyed this site can tip there hat to him for making it happen. So thanks, DV.

The best part about all of this is that, since we all pretty much know each other, the sports conversation is not stopping. We're just not using this as the forum anymore. Thank you to everyone who read and contributed to this site for the last five years. I appreciate it, and I know DV does as well. This was a worthwhile project and a lot of fun for the last five baseball seasons. Most importantly, I look forward to discussing the 2012 season with everyone. Go Yankees.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanks, JD Drew

A big part of why How Youz Doin Baseball exists in the first place is because the Boston Red Sox had the nerve to give a seemingly-interminable five-year, $70 million contract to a player who had never exceeded 100 RBIs and had played a brand of flat, underachieving, uninspired, lazy baseball that alienated fan bases in each and every city in which he had ever played.  Billed as the next Mickey Mantle because of the occasional flashes of his God-given talent, Drew held out for a year after being drafted because the Philadelphia Phillies wouldn't offer him triple the previous all-time record for a draftee signing bonus.  Maybe he'll make it into the Hall of Fame after all as a labor pioneer.

Sure enough, JD came to Boston amid some controversy and delivered in a way only he could.  He did in Boston exactly what he did in every other city he played.  He showed up about once a week, usually on Friday nights, drew a lot of walks when he needed to get hits instead, underachived his way out of the heart of the order and into the seven spot, and eventually underachived himself out of a starting position.  However, statheads loved him because he drew a lot of walks and took a lot of pitches.  Drew also sat out a tremendous quantity of games with minor injuries.

He showed a flash of brilliance in the 2007 ALCS after doing virtually nothing throughout the 2007 season, played well and put the team on his back for a month in June 2008, came short of sucking in 2009, and pretty much went into early retirement in July 2010.  He was a complete disappointment, not only in his Red Sox career, but in his career in general.

However, I do not think JD Drew is a bad guy.  I think he's a capitalist.  In the words of one of my co-workers, he treated baseball not as a passion, not as a privilege, but as a 9-to-5 job.  JD treated his job the way most Americans (maybe Europeans would be a better way to put it) treated their jobs.  Except he got to play a game that most people would love to player, and he got to make up to $14 million a year to play that game and give the bare minimum.  Most Americans also negotiate pretty hard to maximize their salary at every juncture of their career.  JD Drew is most certainly greedy, but so are most people.

I also think that along with this greed and clear (I'm not going to use "perceived" because even ultra-player's manager Francona crushed this guy for not trying/caring) apathy toward his job, he's a good human being.  He seems to have done a lot for his hometown in Georgia, and he seems to care deeply about his family and his church.  He doesn't strike me as a guy who beats the crap out of his wife, threatens to kill his pool boy with a machete, smokes crack in Tampa with his cousin, does steroids (doesn't care about baseball enough to do that), drops tens of thousands of dollars at strip clubs, leaks information about his co-workers to the media in a smear campaign, or does other immortal or misanthropic things that many of our favorite baseball figures do.  He's probably not the most friendly guy outside of his own inner circles, but who is?  A crappy player, a crappy employee, but not a crappy guy.

In the grand scheme of things, there are plenty of players, including Coco Crisp (who irresponsibly racked up a DUI in 2011) who probably deserved a lot more crap than what JD Drew got in this space for the last five baseball seasons.  I'm not apologizing for this in any way, because the scope of this blog was to analyze people's performance in their baseball jobs, something that this guy sucked at compared to what he was capable of. 

But I am saying that if for any reason this player or one of his friends, family members, or well-wishers, happened to stumble across the unwavering torrent of venom coming from nyycolbysox.blogspot.com, thanks a lot for understanding the passions of a baseball fan who cared a lot more about winning than this player did.  Thanks, JD, for being the inspiration of way too many posts here, and thanks for being there to inspire me to come up with creative ways to bash you.  But first and foremost, and I can say this for the majority of his baseball career in which he drew the ire of fans across the country, thanks, JD Drew, for being a good sport about it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pass the Kool-Aid

About 27 hours ago, I was lukewarm at best regarding the Bobby Valentine manager decision.  Now, I'm chugging the Kool-Aid.  Not because I am too thrilled about the continued undermining of Cherington, champion of "subjective" analysis.  Not because I'm too thrilled about the blatant disrespect for Gene Lamont.  But because of the following turns of events:

1.  ESPN Boston started reporting that various Red Sox are unhappy about the decision to hire Valentine.
2.  I read an article about Valentine being critical of the way that Beckett takes 40 seconds between pitches.
3.  I re-read the "Terry Francona, Fat Little Girlfriend" post.
4.  I started reading about how competitive Valentine is.  It sounded more like Steinbrenner and not at all like a "marathon" runner.
5.  I started to imagine what Valentine's reaction would be to incidents like 46 getting caught stealing third base on September 17th, Beckett getting fat, Lackey whining about the rain, Youkilis whining about competitive disadvantages against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gonzalez complaining about bus rides and Sunday Night Baseball, Crawford crying about being benched against Price, Ortiz crying about the number of power hitters in the lineup, Ortiz crying about the DH rule, Ortiz crying about official scorer decisions, Ortiz crying about who's the starting pitcher, Ortiz crying about his failed steroid tests, Ortiz crying about his contract, Wakefield crying about how the fans "deserve" to see him walk six guys and fail to make it out of the third inning, Drew asking out of a game after Clay Buchholz had already come in as a pinch runner, and all the other abominations that marked September, June, April, 2009, and pretty much the majority of the JD Drew era in Boston.

There would be blood.  There would be accountability.  There would be benchings.  There would be change.  And this line is for Pat:  The change would consist of more than mile markers every 0.2 miles on Interstate 95.

6.  I read the Bob Ryan article saying that JD Drew wouldn't last "sixteen seconds" under Valentine.  Think about this:  Francona mentioned to the media back in 2009 that "we already put a pitcher into run. That's all we got to do, put somebody out in [expletive] right.  Francona!  Who covered for absolutely everybody!  Before even being asked a single question, I could imagine what kind of incentive-laden tirade would start.
7.  Valentine himself in his press conference referred to his prior criticism, saying he welcomed the reason of why it's a good thing to wait 20 seconds between throwing pitches.  In his welcome speech he called out Josh Beckett!

I'm salivating right now.  Nothing would make me happier than an uncomfortable 46, Ortiz, Beckett, Gonzalez, and the rest of those entitled stiffs.  Them being miserable after being in the country club for so long is sweet revenge for them making me miserable being a Red Sox fan the last three years. 

Especially 46.  Let's make this guy squirm.  He doesn't want to be benched because it might hurt his fantasy stats.  So the days of getting caught stealing third to run up his fantasy stats should be over. 

As Pat says, he ripped the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball repeatedly (if you didn't know, the Sox were on Sunday Night Baseball a lot this year.  God's will).  The Red Sox, after being told that they're great and how easy it's gonna be their entire lives, apparently don't like criticism.  Now, instead of being told that it's not a sprint but a marathon, might actually get yelled at! 

One more thing about the "marathon" concept.  If the Red Sox had a closer next year, will his third 8th-inning appearance be in September?  Nope!  Valentine is known to be a pretty competitive guy who wants to win every game.  There will be no more babying of closers in the name of October.  There will be no more comments about "oh well, we lost, if we win tomorrow we'll be in first again, yay!"  There will be no more waiting for a pitcher to pitch the team out of the game (Wait for Seven, my dad calls it) before he's pulled.  This is because Bobby Valentine seems like the kind of person who doesn't want to limp into October, but instead the kind of person who wants to win 117 games and take his place on "Immortality Peak" like this team should have according to NESN.com's Eric Ortiz.

I stand by my previous comment about how it's just as easy to ignore a fiery, yelling manager as it is to ignore a coddling, cribbage-playing manager.  But this much is true:  The Red Sox had their chance to have a fat little girlfriend as a manager.  They blew it.  And, as Theo Epstein once said...

I like justice.