Friday

Baseball Notes: Don't Hate the Yanks, Interleague Play & DFTU


Hello again everybody...

Merry Friday to you all. The weekend is almost here, and the weather in Minnesota is glorious. Almost glorious enough to make me forget that Friday a couple of weeks ago where it was 40 degrees and raining sideways... almost...

But today is a day free of negativity! Today I'm going to make a case as to why people shouldn't hate the Yankees. Then I'm going to share my begrudging respect for interleague play. And finally, it's everybody's favorite segment, the DFTU!

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Somebody cue "Right Now" from Van Halen and let's hit the field...

With the first place bids by the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays this week, I've been inspired to stand up and say, "It's time to stop hating the Yankees people"!

What does one have to do with the other? Well one of the reasons I hear most often for why people hate the Yankees is, "they buy all the good players in the league and overpay them to a point where my small market team can't compete".

It's my opinion that this argument has been a fallacy from the get-go, but if you need any further proof, then please consult the AL East standings:

1st Place: Tampa Bay Rays, 24-17, payroll: $43,820,598

5th Place: New York Yankees, 20-22, payroll: $209,081,579

Now, I'll admit that this is just a snapshot during a long season. And it's entirely possible that those two teams will reverse their relative positions by the end of the year. But I do believe that it helps to demonstrate that simply paying exorbitant sums for ultra-talented players does not guarantee success.

If you need further evidence, consider the fact that the Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2003 despite increasing their payroll each year since then. For that matter, look at the rest of the top 10 payrolls in the league and the last time they won the World Series:

2. Detroit Tigers, 1984
3. NY Mets, 1986
4. Boston Red Sox, 2007
5. Chicago White Sox, 2005
6. L.A. Angels, 2002
7. Chicago Cubs, 1908
8. L.A. Dodgers, 1988
9. Seattle Mariners, Never
10. Atlanta Braves, 1995

Six of the top 10 payrolls haven't won a World series in the last 12 years. And in the mean time, you've had teams like the Florida Marlins, the Arizona Diamondback and the St. Louis Cardinals - all teams with middling payrolls at the time - who've won championships.

I'm not trying to be naive. Obviously to be competitive over a long period of time, you have to sustain a payroll in the middle to upper-half of the league. But I think it's fairly clear that simply spending money doesn't get you a Championship, ergo, hating the Yankees because of their high payroll is pretty much pointless.

So if you insist on hating the Yankees, do so because you think their owner's a jack-ass. Or because of the Hollywood vibe that follows the team. Or because they're on ESPN every other night while your club makes maybe 2 appearances a year.

The other option is to change your perspective. Realize that nobody buys a Championship. Realize that every time the Yankees come to town, your club nears a sell-out and makes a bunch of money. Realize that every time the Yankees play your club, you have a better chance of making national TV. Realize that this club has won 26 Worlds Championships and maybe, just maybe you can find it in your heart to give them just a little bit of the respect they've earned.

You know, or not...

Next up, with the beginning of Interleague Play this weekend, I wanted to discuss it a little bit.

First off, I'll cop to the fact that I'm a baseball traditionalist at heart. That doesn't mean that I don't recognize that some change is good. Rather, I'd suggest that change should come very slowly and only when a clear need is demonstrated. And it's in that latter criterion that I was misguided in my initial opposition to Interleague Play.

Coming off the disastrous strike in 1994, the only non-war year where there was no World Series, attendance was lagging at ballparks across the nation. So the folks that run baseball decided that bringing in teams that fans weren't used to seeing could be a way to spur attendance.

So on June 12, 1997, the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants in Arlington, Texas marking the first time in the modern era that a team from the National League played a team from the American league outside of the All-Star game.

And lo and behold, the fans came... and they came in droves.

Since it's inception, Interleague games have drawn an average of 33,034 fans per game which is 11.9 percent higher than the average of 29,517 fans per game in Intraleague contests over the same period of time.

And lest anyone think that interest has waned, in 2007 Interleague Play drew a record total 8,795,939 fans, an average of 34,905 per game. That's 7.9 percent higher than the average of 32,529 fans per Intraleague game.

So there can be no question that fans love Interleague play. And with the potential for so many interesting storylines - meetings of regional rivals, meetings of former World Series opponents, etc. - it's clear to me now that Interleague play is a good idea.

There's always room for more tweaks of course. There's no doubt that to wedge in these games, the schedule does get a little dicey for some teams. This is certainly something that can be looked at and improved for the future. Plus, if baseball really wants fans to get to see and experience teams that play in the opposing League, then why not make the switch complete. When an AL team hosts an NL team, have the pitchers hit. When an NL team hosts an AL team, use the DH. That would certainly expose AL fans to how the game ought to be played. And give NL fans a reason to appreciate their normal form of the game for the rest of the year!

So if you're still not a fan of Interleague play after all that, I've got one last argument for you. You'd better get used to it, because it isn't going to stop any time soon! So try to focus on the positives. Twins fans, enjoy getting to see Coors Field. Arizona fans, enjoy the matchup I picked pre-season for the World Series. Brewers fans, please cheer your team on to kicking 10 different types of dog crap out of the Red Sox (whom I hate) please! Please?!

Finally, it's everybody's favorite segment: Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Twins: And the rollercoaster ride that is the Twins '08 season rolls on! The Twins are now 20-20 and tied with the White Sox for 2nd place in the AL Central, 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians.

You want the Twins season in microcosm? Just look at this week. They started on a high note taking 3 out of 4 from the World Champion Boston Red Sox (whom I hate). And then promptly got swept in a 3-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays. Go figure.

In the words of a local sports reporter, "The Twins are what they are". They're going to beat some teams they shouldn't and lose to some teams that they shouldn't. It's a function of having a piecemeal pitching staff and a disorganized line-up.

Maybe they'll find a hot-streak or two along the line and threaten for a playoff spot. But I think it's most likely that what we see is what we're gonna get. Some highs, some lows, and ultimately somewhere around a .500 record.

The Twins travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Rockies this weekend. And then they return home to face the Texas Rangers for 4 games. Hopefully to avenge their dreadful performance in Arlington earlier this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Thank God for the Colorado Rockies, or as I like to call them "Baseball's Designated Slump-Busters". The D'backs are now 26-15, still the best record in all of baseball. They're in 1st place in the NL West, 4.5 games ahead of the L.A. Dodgers.

As I told a friend of mine last night, it's almost unfair how good Brandon Webb is. Webb finished off the sweep of the Rockies last night with yet another solid, if not spectacular outing. Brandon's now won all 9 of his starts so far this year. And not only is 9-0 superlative, but look at the rest of his numbers: 2.56 ERA, 49 K, 17 BB. That's nearly a 3-1 K/BB ratio. That's just not fair to opposing hitters. And I love it!

Also kudos to Stephen Drew who had a big night last night going 4-5 with 3 of his 4 hits being for extra bases! It's great to have guys like Connor Jackson and Justin Upton carrying the team, but to be successful over the long haul of an MLB season, you need some role players to step up and have nights like that.

Arizona hosts the Tigers for 3 over the weekend before heading out east to face the Marlins and the Braves.

That's all for today folks. Thanks as always for reading. Check back on Monday for more Baseball talk and then Tuesday for my Preakness recap!

2 comments:

  1. Why hate the Yankees? Because it's part of one's responsibilities as an American. It's up there with voting and being obnoxious in foreign countries. And hating the Cowboys. Check the Constitution - it's right there in Article 8, Section 3, just after the section titled "All American Beer Made From Large Breweries Must Suck."

    Try Google-ing the phrase "damn yankees." 906,000 hits can't be wrong.

    And one more thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damn_Yankees

    So there.

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  2. I admire your passion, even if it's mildly misdirected :)

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