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Archive for the ‘Yankees Myths’ Category

This has been a fun week for the LeBron James detractors as “LeBrick” and “LeFraud” tweets filled my timeline with the Heat losing 3 close games all ending on missed 3 point attempts by the “King” in the final seconds. This recent string of poor end game play has further fueled the perception that LeBron James is un-clutch, a choker, isn’t a “closer” (a popular, yet maddening term used by many basketball talking heads) and above all comes up small in the biggest situations. Couple the undeserved clutch reputation, with the ill-conceived off court “Decision” where he infamously took his talents to South Beach, and throw in the blame of playoff failures heaped solely on him and you have…Pre-2009 Alex Rodriguez.

While the impact an NBA superstar can have on a game is much greater then that of any position player in baseball, many of the terms used to describe LeBron were also previously used by people who disliked ARod, including many Yankee haters and even Yankee fans (i.e. the Jeter “zealots” and members of the Cody Ransom fan club). There is no question both James and ARod’s off-field actions (e.g. 2007 World series opt out, PED usage, aforementioned Decision, the silly “What should I do?” commercials) have turned fans to root against them and if you feel that way, that’s fine. I get it…most of us need a heel to root against, especially if our team isn’t playing, that’s part of what makes sports enjoyable. What I do have an issue with is when the dislike of a player completely warps the view of their performance. Think back to ARod:

  • He was given the goat horns for the epic 2004 collapse, but if Mo closes Game 4 or Gordon doesn’t implode in Game 5, ARod probably wins the ALCS MVP
  • As he struggled in the ’05 and ‘06 ALDS (a grand total of 9 games), ARod detractors and many Yankees fans began to dismiss his previous playoff statistics as a Mariner and even his great series versus the Twins in ’04 because he “wasn’t a Yankee” and because the “ALDS doesn’t matter because the Yankees are only about winning the World Series…blah blah blah”
  • In 2007 despite having a historic MVP regular season and carrying the Yankees to the playoffs, his 4 for 17 postseason was the lead story for Yankees failures (instead of the two game C-M Wang meltdown)
  • Even his manager fell prey to the madness dropping him to 8th in the lineup in a playoff game (Could you imagine Spoelstra or even Pat Riley making LeBron come off the bench in a deciding playoff game?)

All the walk-off homeruns, game-winning hits and MVP awards he had during those years were minimized, because “A-Fraud couldn’t get it done when it mattered most.” Never mind that the Yankees starting pitching was the main culprit in those playoff series losses, it was ALL AROD’s FAULT. Heck even players from other teams would chime in and take shots at ARod as did Torre in his book. Thankfully 2009 happened, silencing most of the critics.

LeBron finds himself today, were ARod was 2 years ago. A HOF player, who is hated and disliked by most fans/media, resulting in a skewed analysis of his play. Under this pretense, Regular season MVP awards are trivialized. Stellar post-season performance is conveniently forgotten (Regular season: 27.7ppg-7.1rpg-7.0apg, Postseason: 29.3ppg-8.4rpg-7.3apg). “Clutch” shots and “closing out” games (LeBron has made four game-winning shots in the playoffs and rates well statistically in clutch situations as of 2009) are swept under the rug. The fact that until this season, his supporting cast has been mediocre to poor (see the Cavs this season without him), will also be nothing more then a mere footnote for the LeBrick backers.

The perception won’t change until LeBron wins a ring. Until then he’ll have to hear about how he doesn’t have the clutch gene (Ian O’Connor’d: Yes Jeter was born with this gene and ARod wasn’t) and how he’s afraid to take and make big shots. ARod finally broke through and LeBron will one day as well. On that night I hope LeBron hooks up with ARod once again this time to get wasted on championship champagne. That is one scene I want the A-Fraud/LeFraud supporters to all be witnesses too.

Follow me on Twitter: @eddieperez23

(This blog post was also used as a guest post on http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/)

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Just a couple of weeks ago, Brian Cashman held a conference with the media and delivered the news that Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland, would not be returning next season. In the press conference, Cashman stated that he was not being blamed for what happened this October and the reasons for his departure were going to be kept private.

On June 4th of the this year, Dave Eiland took a leave of absence from the ball club, which stirred up a lot of talking among the media and fans. The organization wouldn’t unveil the reasons for that decision, and it was rumored to be a family issue. During that time, A.J. Burnett was falling apart on the mound and he didn’t have his coach by his side to assist him. He returned in late June, resuming his regular role as pitching coach.

After the season, ESPN came out with a story that claimed there was a rift between Eiland and Girardi, which was the reason for his departure. Dave Eiland’s response:

“That’s absolutely ridiculous and simply not true,” Eiland told the Daily News in an e-mail. “Joe and I have never had a problem nor do we now. He’s a solid baseball man and a great manager, and more importantly one of the best human beings I have ever met.” Eiland declined to discuss any of the details surrounding his departure from the Yankees.

The Yankees pitching staff faltered in the postseason, but was Eiland to blame for that? Did they just want to shake things up a bit? Did the firing have something to do with that leave of absence? Something tells me it does. I was caught by surprise by the firing, because I thought he was highly regarded within organization, especially since he worked with several of the current players while they were in the minor leagues. I’m not sure we’ll ever know the real reason behind this. Now, the team is in need of a pitching coach. Who will it be? Thoughts?

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For those of you who haven’t heard, the Yankees made a late pitching change today – before tonight’s tilt with the Red Sox even begins.

Mr. Philthy is taking his regular turn tonight, while scheduled starter Dustin Moseley is relegated to the bullpen.

Is this a panic move on manager Joe Girardi‘s part? Well, let’s see:

  • Throughout September, Girardi has stressed health over winning. Today, he sounded a new tune: “We need to win games“.
  • The Yankees September record is 10-13. Had they played the entire season this way, the team would sort a record of 67-88.
  • On August 31, the Yankees had a 1 game lead over Tampa Bay. They enter tonight’s game with a 1 1/2 game deficit. On August 31, the Yankees had the best record in MLB. Today, the team has dropped to owning the 4th best record.
  • Entering last weekend, the Yankees seemed as if they could, at the least, coast into the wild card. Entering the final week of the season, they face the very real prospect of getting swept by Boston – and swept out of the playoffs.

I wouldn’t necessarily call it panic – yet (after all, Mt. Steinbrenner Junior hasn’t erupted). But it does mean that somebody switched a light on in Girardi’s head. Being healthy for the playoffs is a wonderful thing. But, you should probably worry about clinching a playoff spot before worrying about how healthy you are in October. After all, failing to make the playoffs means you have all of October to get healthy – and November, December, January…

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You get the sense that Yankee fans feel like George M. Steinbrenner III is completely out of the picture and that the guy has lost his mind. Is it me..or has he been attending a lot more games than he has over the last few years?

All of a sudden he looks like Mr. Talkative. Steinbrenner’s family has been seen in his box on almost every occasion. Reggie Jackson also seems like he visits George a lot. Lou Holtz, Skip Holtz, Reggie Jackson and Senior Vice President of the Yankees Felix Lopez were in his box today and they were talking up a storm with him. From the pictures, it seems like old Georgie boy was cracking a smile. Let’s not forget he showed an outpouring of emotion at the ’08 MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium as he waved to the crowd. Another thing I noticed was that Steinbrenner can still stand on his own two feet. He also plans on being at Yankee Stadium for the home opener, where he will watch his ball club get their World Series rings.

(more…)

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