Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘Yankee Stadium’

Interesting 2008 baseball regular season comes to a close

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 28, 2008

As the 2008 baseball season comes to a close for many teams today, there have been some interesting firsts, same storylines, and sad endings.

FIRSTS

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays

1. Tampa Bay Rays makes playoffs for first time in franchise history – Not only that, it was the first time they had a winning record. It was the first time they had over 70 wins, 80 wins, and 90 wins. It was the first time they had the best home record in the majors. It was the first time they finished first in the vaunted AL East over the Red Sox and Yankees. Could it have been due to removing the “Devil” from their name in the offseason? 🙂

2. Francisco Rodriguez shatters saves record – Rodriguez shatters Bobby Thigpen’s single season saves record of 57 from 17 years ago. His 62 saves is the first time a reliever broke 60 saves in one season. Both were 26 years old. However, Rodriguez had 7 blown saves this season (compared to Mariano Rivera’s one). He could have had close to 70 saves had he been more consistent.

Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki

3. Ichiro and A-Rod reach baseball milestones – Ichiro Suzuki became the first player in over a century to have eight consecutive 200-hit seasons. Meanwhile, A-Rod became the first player to record at least 35 homers in a season for 11 straight years. He also tied Babe Ruth with 12 career seasons of having over 35 homers.

4. Instant replay – Near the end of the season, MLB decided to install instant replay for questionable home run calls. It has been used several times since, and has been involved in overturning calls on the field.

SAME STORYLINES

1. Joe Torre makes playoffs for the 13th consecutive year – After leading the Yankees to 12 straight postseason appearances in 12 years as their manager from 1996-2007, Torre was let go and signed with the Dodgers. He led them to the NL West Title in September.

2. Yankees continue winning ways – Although the Yankees did not make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, some of their winning streaks continued. They now have 17 consecutive seasons with over 75+ wins (for strike shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons a winning percentage of .460 was used) and 16 consecutive seasons with a winning record; both major league bests.

3. Red Sox continue winning ways – Although the Red Sox haven’t been as prolific and consistent at making the playoffs due to the dominance of their division rival Yankees, they have put up consistently winning seasons. They are second to the Yankees in consecutive winning seasons with 75+ wins (16) and a winning record (11).

Can this be reused for 2008?

Can this be reused for 2008?

4. Mets continue their late-season futility – Although the Mets have had success the past 9 years, they continually show futility at the most important times of each season. Besides losing the Subway Series to their crosstown rival Yankees in 2000, they also lost in the playoffs in 2006. However, the past two seasons have been most depressing. In 2007, the  Mets had a 7 game NL East division lead with 17 games left to play. They proceeded to lose 12 of their final 17 games to lose the title to the Phillies and miss the playoffs. By some measures, it is considered the second worst collapse in baseball history. The 2008 season is seeing a smaller collapse. Having a 3.5 game lead against the Phillies for the division title again with 17 games to go, the Mets won only 7 of their next 17, while the Phils won 12 of their next 15. The Phillies clinched the division once again. To make matters worse, the Mets lost their final game while the Brewers win their last one  to grab the wild-card and leave the Mets out of the playoffs once again.

5. Small market teams continue losing ways – Besides the Rays, most small market teams continued their non-playoff appearances. The Montreal Expos – Washington Nationals have a major league leading 27 consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance. The Brewers in second with 25 consecutive seasons ended that drought with a win today and a Mets loss to grab the wild card berth. The Royals (23), Pirates (16), Blue Jays (15), Reds (13) and Orioles (11) all continue their futility.

6. Another season, another surprise team or two – This year the Tampa Rays and Brewers have been the surprise teams. 2007 saw the Indians and Diamondbacks. 2006 were the Twins and Athletics. 2005 were the White Sox and Braves. 2004 was the Dodgers. 2003 was the Marlins. And 2002 saw the Expos do relatively well.

ENDINGS

The old and new Yankee Stadiums

The old and new Yankee Stadiums

1. Yankees miss the playoffs for first time in 13 years – Ever since the Yankees became the first AL wild card team to make the playoffs in 1995, they have not missed it until this year. In those 13 years of postseason play, they won 4 World Championships, 6 AL Pennants, 10 AL East titles and 3 Wild Card berths. They had a combined record of 1252 – 832; a MLB best .594 winning percentage. They had 3 no-hitters, of which 2 were perfect games. They had one Rookie of the Year, two Manager of the Year, one Cy Young, one Comeback Player of the Year, and two Most Valuable Player of the Year awards in that time span.

2. Two stadiums come to a close – Both the Yankees and Mets will be playing in new stadiums to start the 2009 season. Although most people are happy Shea Stadium is being torn down, the demise of Yankee Stadium and its rich history is more symbolic.

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How responsible are you for your ancestors’ or predecessors’ actions?

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 12, 2008

This question has been raised in some form or another regarding individuals, corporations and governments/countries in recent years.

The Corporation

Allianz SE

Allianz SE

In an article today, some people have been criticizing the football  Jets and Giants for considering selling naming rights to their new stadium to Allianz SE, a German financial services provider with ties to the Nazi party back in the 1930s.

From Wikipedia’s entry on Allianz’s links with the Nazis and Third Reich:

Gerald Feldman’s book Allianz and the German Insurance Business is a look at the links between the Nazi party and big business in 1930s Germany concentrating on Allianz’s relationship. According to Holocaust historians and legal experts, such as Professors Michael Bazyler and Gerald Feldman from the United States, Allianz insured the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as other death camps.

Previous Board member Kurt Schmitt was a German economic leader and the Reich Economy Minister from June 1933 until January 1935.

Eduard Hilgard, a general director of Allianz AG and head of the Reich Association for Private Insurance during the entire National Socialist regime.

Allianz’s leadership, represented by directors Kurt Schmitt and Eduard Hilgard, led a policy of drawing nearer to the Nazis, even before they seized power. Already in October 1930, ties were forged with Hermann Göring. These contacts were realized through company dinners and by providing private financial loans. Heinrich BrĂĽning and Franz von Papen tried without success to get Schmitt a ministerial office.

There are several ethical questions to consider regarding this situation. Are there any current ties to the Nazi party now in Allianz? How much has Allianz admitted its Nazi past? And if they have, how apologetic are they?

The question I am interested in in this post is the first one. If there are no current ties to their past actions, how much should they be vilified or discriminated against? How much is the current corporation and governing board responsible for its predecessors past actions? Now obviously you can go into a case by case basis and closely investigate how much of the corporate culture of the past still exist today or if the current company is essentially a new company with the same name and industry as its former. But from a simple ethical perspective, should a company be currently punished for its historical actions many years ago?

The Individual

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

As we have witnessed, this ethical question is not limited to corporations. Many individuals have been affected by links to controversial ancestors. Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, had associations with Adolf Hitler. Hitler was known to have said, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration.” Ford was also awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal awarded by Nazi Germany to foreigners. Even the company itself has had to fend of allegations of Nazi collaboration. However, this has never had much of an impact on Ford’s descendants and even the company. History has judged him more for his inventiveness and pacifism (He was strongly against both world wars) than Hitler’s admiration of him. This is apparent today as his Ford Motor Company continues to be one of the major automobile corporations in America and his great-grandson William Clay Ford, Jr. (executive chairman) continues a long line of Ford descendants as major players in the company.

On the flip side is the question of whether descendants take too much honor in the greatness of their ancestors. For example, as the Yankees play their last season in the old Yankee Stadium, or “The House that Ruth Built”, many of the families of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle are clamoring for more celebrations to honor their great ancestral baseball players. It makes sense since they are the bearers of the Ruth and Mantle names, but they themselves have not done anything for baseball on the field. Even the descendants of Thomas Jefferson feel some sort of pride and responsibility in upholding the sanctity of the Jefferson name.

The Country

Finally, we must broach this ethical question in regards to countries and governments as well. One of the main examples has been the question of whether the United States should pay reparations for the heinous culture of slavery before the Civil War. This example actually analyzes both the responsibility of the country and the individual. One, should a government be responsible for actions it caused over one hundred to three hundred years ago, considering no one in the government was alive during that time? Second, if they are, should the descendants of slaves get the awards their ancestors should be entitled to, considering none of the descendants are or were slaves? These are very interesting questions to consider and will probably never be resolved. One possible sticking point has been who is considered a descendant of a slave, since the Census did not keep track of slaves and slave owners.

My Opinion

This leads back to the original motivation of this article, Germany and its Nazi past. I stayed in Munich, Germany for 3 months last summer and it was definitely hard to fathom that it was the center of Nazi culture. Germany is a much different place now. It almost has a non-feeling atmosphere, where everyone still feels guilty of its past, where everyone is afraid to show any form of nationalism. The past 60 to 70 years have been very difficult for most Germans to comprehend. I definitely believe that although Allianz had connections to the Nazi party many years ago, no one in that company does now. Germany has become one of our steadfast allies, and although there is some negative symbolism in naming one of our football stadiums after such a company, I think we also have to have some sense of closure and acceptance at the new realities.

As what was strongly stated in The Corporation, this whole discussion lends credence to the fact that corporation indeed can be perceived as superhumans.

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The Disappointing 2008 Yankees Season – Stick a Fork in it, the Yankees are Done

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 10, 2008

Wow, I haven’t really followed the Yankees in over a month. Probably the longest time I haven’t spent an hour on them on any day in like forever. This has been the most disappointing season since the early 1990s, when they were the laughingstock of the league. Here’s why:

1. Too many injuries – All the talk last year about Joe Girardi working his young pitchers in Florida too hard and doing too many exercises during practices seems to have the same ill effect on the Yankees. All three of the promising young pitchers have lost serious time due to injuries. Their underrated ace, Chien-Ming Wang was done relatively early in the season. For someone who gave the Yankees 19 wins each of the past two seasons, it was a big blow when he was lost for the season at 8-2. Imagine if the Yankees had 7 or 8 more wins right now. They would be right where Boston is, and fighting for first place, let alone, the wild card.

Don’t forget losing Jorge Posada for the season. And missed times for Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Brian Bruney. Hard to build any sense of hope or team when key people keep going down.

Effect on Season: A

Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy (Courtesy of NY Post)

Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy (Courtesy of NY Post)

2. Where are the young pitchers?? – Philip Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain all lost significant time to injury. Aren’t injuries a problem for the old players and not the young ones? The first two had a combined 0-8 record with 8.17 and 9.00 ERAs (no need to differentiate the two). Both of their WHIPs hovered around 2.00! Hughes came back but was sent to the minor leagues. He will be playing in the Arizona Fall League. Remember when people were afraid that he would pitch too many innings this year? Now they have to give him extra innings. Kennedy came back and pitched great in the minors, was brought back up to the majors and did horrible. Now he’s stuck in the minors for good. That doesn’t bode well for him in the future, as he can’t seem to make the next step to the majors.

Effect on Season: A-

Robinson Cano (left) and Melky Cabrera

Robinson Cano (left) and Melky Cabrera

3. What happened to the young hitters?? – The next wave of young Yankee farmhands to take over for the last wave of Yankee stars (Jeter, Rivera, Bernie, Posada, Pettitte) have hit some major bumps. As mentioned, Wang and the three young ‘uns were ineffective or injured this year. But, the two young ones that didn’t get injured have dramatically underperformed. Robinson Cano, who was rewarded with a major contract in the offseason, has been completely skittish and lost at the plate this year.  He is a notoriously slow starter, but his second half has been just as pathetic. He is batting 39 points lower than his career average (.263 to .302). He is projected to have 67 runs and 68 RBIs, which compared to last year, 93 runs and 97 RBIs, puts him on the same footing as the typical second baseman, and definitely not top tier. His OBP is now below .300! According to some veterans, Cano is feeling the pressure of the new contract. This pressure will only grow until he plays well.

The other player, Melky Cabrera, is not so much a surprise, but a disappointment nonetheless. Cabrera has been slowly regressing since the summer of 2006. It is apparent that his nice first half of the season in 2006 was the anomaly, and not last year. Without much pressure on him the past two years to perform, his true self shows someone without any batting instincts. His above average fielding is not enough for an important position like centerfield. He has since been demoted to the minors, and who knows when we’ll see him again.

Oh yah, remember Shelley Duncan? The little cult hero was gone after a month into the season. I never found him that impressive to begin with. To me, a cult hero is Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer.

Effect on Season: A-

Kyle Farnsworth (left) traded for Pudge Rodriguez

Kyle Farnsworth (left) traded for Pudge Rodriguez

4. Midseason trades don’t pay off – Ever since the Yankees traded for David Justice that one year, Yankee fans have looked to the midseason trades for that extra boost to reach the playoffs. A couple of seasons have yielded nice trades, such as Bobby Abreu and Ruben Sierra. This year’s trades have not panned out, not the fault of the Yankees. Getting rid of Kyle Farnsworth, a target of the boo-birds was worth the risk in return for perennial All-Star Ivan Rodriguez. Even though Rodriguez was on the downside of his career, he was a much better choice than Chad Moeller or Jose Molina. At the time of the trade, the Yankee bullpen was one of the best in the league. However, since then the bullpen has regressed dramatically. Both Veras and Ramirez have been ineffective. And Pudge is a lousy .218 with three RBIs in 27 games.

The other trade brought back Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. I personally thought they gave up too much. Nady had a torrid start with the Yankees, but has since slowed down. He has batted .280, with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 41 games. However, Marte has been a complete bust. There’s something with mid-relievers that come to the Yankees. They always do horrible. Marte was a respectable 3.47 with the Pirates, but has since been a horrible 6.75 with the Yankees.

Effect on Season: B

Derek Jeter (left) and Alex Rodriguez (Courtesy of NY Times and Getty)

Derek Jeter (left) and Alex Rodriguez (Courtesy of NY Times and Getty)

5. Underperforming offense – As easy as it is to blame it on injuries and what not, the veterans on this team seem to be playing with no enthusiasm, fun or results. This will only be the second time in Jeter’s career that he will have an OBP less than .370, and an OPS less than .790. He is also on track to have his first non-100 run season (except his injured 2003 season). It’s hard to say A-Rod is underperforming, considering he still has respectable stats, but compared to last year and his new contract, it’s fair for the fans to expect more. His situational hitting is horrendous and his label of worst clutch hitter continues. Of his 33 homers, 22 are solo. With the bases loaded, he is batting .231 with no homers. During close and late games, he is batting .266 with only two homers. Overall, with runners in scoring position, he is batting .264 with six homers. Without the supporting cast of Matsui, Cano, Cabrera, and Posada, the left side of the infield has been unable to carry the team. As a positive, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu all are playing respectable. Even Matsui and his limited playing time. However, Abreu’s OBP of .371 is still far below his trademark .400.

The Yankees offense was expected to be their cornerstone again. Instead they find themselves 7th out of the 14 teams in the AL, with 695 runs (as of 9/9/08). Their usually strong OPS is now a middling sixth. Additionally, they are 8th in doubles, 5th in homers, and 8th in walks.

Effect on Season: B+

Tom "Flash" Gordon

Former Yankee - Tom "Flash" Gordon

7. Off-season signings don’t pay off – The key mid-impact players the Yankees signed in the offseason? Both are gone. Morgan Ensberg and LaTroy Hawkins. I felt Hawkins got a bad rap before the season even started because he wore Paul O’Neill’s 21. I found that absurd. How can you hate him for wearing an unretired number? However, Hawkins is simply another in a long-line of middle relievers to have amazing seasons to only be horrendous upon coming to the Yankees. Think Farnsworth (2.19, 4.36), Marte (3.47, 6.75), Hawkins (3.42, 5.71), Luis Vizcaino  (3.58, 4.30), Paul Quantrill (1.75, 4.72), Felix Rodriguez (3.29, 5.01), Felix Heredia (3.00, 6.28), Gabe White (4.05, 8.27), with the ERAs of their previous season/part-season with their former team, and their ERAs with the Yankees in their first full season or part season. Wow! Those are some telling stats. The reason I think Hawkins was affected by the O’Neill absurdity? He has not given up a run in 13 innings for the Astros since leaving the Yankees. Given up only 5 hits and struck out 19! It definitely takes a certain mentality to pitch in high-pressure situations for the Yankees. The last import to help the Yanks in mid-relief? Tom Gordon. The search continues…

It’s also interesting that the only major imports by the Yanks in the offseason were Hawkins and Ensberg, both of whom have been released. I actually thought their re-signings of A-Rod, Rivera and Posada were neutral to risky to downright stupid, respectively. After the whole fiasco with A-Rod opting out, everyone thought the Yankees would get some concessions from him, but almost none at all. They still gave him a $270million dollar 10 year contract with an additional $30 million in possible bonuses. Wasn’t this what he was going to get anyways? A-Rod apparently has issues with clutch situations. It is also becoming clear he doesn’t have the persona to carry the Yanks to a championship. As good as Rivera is, giving him a multi-year contract at his age was risky. However, he has proven to be dominant this year. Giving Posada an expensive four-year contract without much competition from other teams was extreme loyalty bordering on stupidity. Catchers just don’t last that long. Predictably, Posada was lost for the season. Who knows how much catching he has left in him.

Effect on Season: B

Johan Santana of the Mets

Johan Santana of the Mets

6. No Johan Santana – As much as the new signings didn’t help the Yankees, the major non-signing or trade was also significant. By not trading for Santana with the Twins, the Yankees lost the dominant ace they needed this year. He would have kept the Yankees in the playoff race with the rash of injuries they have had. However, I still think the Yankees made the right move. Everyone knew that Santana would be good this year, but to give up so many prospects and over $100 million dollars for 1 or 2 dominant years, to me is not good business. Unless Santana plays well for most of his contract, I believe the Yankees made the right move long-term. It still does not stop the fact that he would have tremendously helped the Yanks this year.

Effect on Season: C+

Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays

7. Other teams are better – Credit must be given where credit is due. Tampa is definitely a better team this year. Either they are overachieving or finally reaping its rewards, it is no fluke. We are into mid-September and they continue to be in first place. Coupled with a resurgent Blue Jays, and the Yankees have fallen to fourth place. The Yankees are only 31-29 against their division this year. Last year they were 39-33 and in 2006 they were 46-28! Don’t forget the White Sox and Twins playing well this year. They are surprises as well. The Yankees are only 18-18 against Central teams this year, whereas they were 30-11 last year!

Effect on Season: B

Joe Girardi (right) with his predecessor Joe Torre

Joe Girardi (right) with his predecessor Joe Torre

8. Joe Girardi – Finally, it’s hard not to fault the manager when a team won’t be making the playoffs for the first time in over 14 years. I disagree with Joe Torre and some others that the Yankees never need motivation (such as team meetings and pep talks) because they are veterans and professionals. It was apparent in many games this year that the Yankees played listlessly and without emotion. A manager can make that difference and instill a sense of fight. Girardi doesn’t seem to be making his own identity this year. His moves have been predictable and sometimes too conservative. What happened to the Girardi we heard about or the one with the Marlins? It’s almost as if he’s afraid to manage a lot of veterans and players he’s played with before. Instead he has been a nice little manager, with too optimistic post-game interviews. He has also obviously falsified his knowledge about Yankee injuries during interviews. The reason they chose Girardi over Mattingly was the hands-on motivating approach. I actually feel like the Yankees got more conservative and boring with Girardi.

Effect on Season: B

Old Yankee Stadium (right) with new one in back

Old Yankee Stadium (right) with new one in back

9. Hank Steinbrenner – Ok, I’ll give you a couple bonus ones. Hank talks too much. He doesn’t seem that baseball savvy. Just a bunch of hogwash. I guess if you are rich, you can say what you want and people will listen to you. But from what I read, his brother Hal and sister Jennifer are actually more involved with the Yankees than he is. He just talks a lot.

Effect on Season: D

10. Lackadaisical Last Season at Old Yankee Stadium – I think us Yankee fans expected more in this last season at the old Yankee Stadium. Maybe a final and 27th World Championship to mark Babe Ruth and the 1927 Yankees. Maybe some nice promotions and star days to mark the history of the players that have played there. Instead all we have witnessed is the countdown in the outfield and the MLB sponsored All-Star game. It has been somewhat anti-climactic.

Effect on Season: D-

Looking towards 2009 season in new stadium

Let's go Yankees! (Courtesy of Da Bronx Bombers blog)

Courtesy of the Da Bronx Bombers blog

It’s hard to close the 2008 season and look towards the Yankees prospects in 2009 because the Yankees have made the playoffs every year since 1995. However, if we do dare, the 2009 Yankees now have a lot of question marks. With most of the major-league young players taking major steps back, we won’t know what we will get from them and potential farmhands next year. How will Hughes be? Is Joba going back into the rotation and will he be as dominant? How will Wang be after injury? Will Cano bounce back? It seems like Cabrera and Kennedy will not be in the plans next year. Not too many other impact prospects on the horizon. Is Austin Jackson ready for the majors?

What do you do with Mussina? As great as his season has been, it looks like he will once again miss a 20-game win season, unless he wins his last three starts. Even though he’s 2-1 in his last 3 decisions, he has also had three no-decisions and his ERA has risen from 3.27 to 3.48. What do they do if they don’t get CC Sabathia? Rumors are that he prefers the west coast near his family. With the core veterans getting another year older (Jeter, A-Rod, Damon, Posada, Matsui are all in their mid-thirties), who do they sign in the free agent market? Even the two players who did well this year, Abreu and Giambi are free-agents, but also in their mid-thirties.

The Yankees announced this week that Girardi will be back as manager next year; in essence blaming this season on injuries. However, one can’t help but miss Torre a bit. Seems like something is missing this year without him. Torre was always good at talking to the media and calming things down at disappointing performances. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Girardi.

This off-season will be very interesting. As tens of millions of dollars come off the books (Giambi, Abreu, Pavano, Mussina are free-agents) this offseason and next offseason (Damon and Matsui come off the books), many new faces will be opening with the new stadium.

🙂

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