By Neil Keefe
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I don’t get why people don’t like interleague play. Well, I sort of get it, but it doesn’t make sense.
Interleague is exciting. It’s intriguing. It’s fun. And it breaks up the monotony of a 162-game season that features the Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles on the Yankees schedule a few too many times. (OK, I will always welcome games against the Orioles). There really is nothing wrong with a little change to the baseball season, but that is the main reason that people don’t like interleague: change. The same people that don’t like interleague play are the people that tell you about how they had to walk to 12 miles to school in four feet of snow. The same people that start their stories with “In my day…” It’s the old timers that don’t like interleague play because they didn’t grow up with it. Like the tweet from Jerry Remy that said, “Some people disagree with my opinion of Red Sox interleague games-to me they’re like exhibition in middle of season.” Not that I should be putting much stock into anything the Rem Dawg says, but it just goes to show where the mindset of older people and older players is at.
But Remy’s problem with interleague play is one of the two most common complaints about the AL and NL facing each other during anything other than the World Series.
1. It’s like an exhibition game
Sorry, Jerry, I still don’t get this one. Since when is a game in the middle of the summer that counts in the standings played between two major league teams an exhibition? Is the World Series an exhibition too?
Sure it’s a little weird and unnecessary having to watch pitchers hit, especially AL pitchers, and there’s nothing “pure” about sacrifice bunts and rallies killed because with the bases loaded and two outs, a guy who hasn’t swung a bat since he was a junior in high school is due up. But until the NL recognizes that the way they conduct business is silly and nonsensical, we are just going to have to live with comedic at-bats and laughter from the dugouts because of these at-bats.
2. Unfair advantages
The only advantages are that NL pitchers are used to hitting and sacrifice bunting and that NL teams are used to playing without a DH, so giving up free outs is common ground for them. (You have to wonder why Joe Girardi wouldn’t want to be in the NL anymore in the first place.)
It’s definitely much harder for AL teams to adjust to playing without a DH and using their pitcher as the No. 9 hitter on the road than it is for NL teams to go to AL parks and insert their best bench option as the DH and give him four at-bats rather than one. Is there any statistical proof of this advantage? Probably, but I don’t have it. It’s just common sense, whether or not Adam the Bull agrees with me or not. At least Sweeny Murti agrees with me, and when Sweeny and I agree, it’s a rare day.
OK, I’m going throw a third one out there too.
3. Subway Series
Next week when the Yankees and Mets meet at Citi Field the same relentless arguments will be brought up about how the Subway Series has run its course and that it’s not the same as it was in 1997. Maybe it isn’t as intriguing as it was when it first started, but it certainly hasn’t run its course. It’s good for baseball and its good for baseball in New York City, which is all that really matters.
I don’t get why people don’t like the Subway Series. OK, I kind of get why Mets fans don’t like it since they have to play the Yankees six times every year and don’t exactly perform well against them. But I love the Subway Series and think all of the AL-NL rivalries (Angels-Dodgers, White Sox-Cubs, Rangers-Astros) are good for the game.
With interleague play coming to an end for the summer, it means it’s the beginning of the summer on the actual calendar and the midway point of the season on the baseball calendar. And for the Yankees, life is good, trailing the Red Sox by one game despite the Red Sox having played .700 ball forever and holding an 8-1 edge over the Yankees. It means that July is just a week away, and it’s time for the Yankees real roster to begin taking shape and that means cutting the dead wood from the team.
Designated for assignment. Three words that begin to frequent the baseball news at this time of the year. Another three-word phrase that has sort of become my go-to on Twitter for underachieving performances is “Ladies and gentlemen.” So with interleague wrapping up and the halfway point of the season approaching, here are three Yankees that should be referred to as “former Yankees” in the near future. Three guys that lead the “Ladies and gentlemen” race.
Number 48, Boone Logan, Number 48
I wasn’t sure if I would have anything new to write about Boone Logan for this piece for today. But then Joe Girardi called on Boone Logan to get out a lefty in the ninth inning on Monday night and he threw one pitch to drill the only batter he would face. So, like Ray Barone says in “Everybody Loves Raymond” during his toast at his brother Robert’s wedding, “sometimes material presents itself.”
Imagine this: You make $1.2 million. You get to travel and hang out with the New York Yankees. You even get a uniform number and are on the official roster. Every few days you actually get to pitch in a game and it doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail. You get to be a major leaguer, are paid like one and get to just live the dream.
That’s not an imaginary scenario, though. That’s the life Boone Logan is ACTUALLY living. It’s almost like he won a “Play for the Yankees” sweepstakes and is just cashing in on it. With no set role on the team and no confidence from the manager or pitching coach, it’s almost as if every day that Boone Logan remains on the roster is another day the Yankees forgot he’s on the roster and forgot to cut him.
It brings a tear to my eye with Boone Logan starts warming up in the bullpen and people tweet at me and then ask me if I’m OK when he comes into games. It makes me feel like we are actually making a difference in the fight against Boone Logan. (I don’t know why I always use his first and last name when referring to him, but I feel like it’s necessary.)
At some point Brian Cashman is just going to have to realize that the Boone Logan Project (reality show idea?) is just not going to work out, and it’s going to be a glorious day when he finally pulls the plug on Boone Logan’s employment. But at what point will the Yankees realize that having a lefty in the bullpen just to have one isn’t such a great idea if that lefty can’t get any lefties out?
Number 17, Francisco Cervelli, Number 17
I don’t hate Francisco Cervelli like I hate Boone Logan. (Yes, hate is a strong word, but when you’re a left-handed specialist that can’t get out lefties, hate is the only word.) Cervelli just isn’t good at baseball, which is sort of an important quality to have if you want to play for the Yankees. Or maybe it isn’t.
When I think of Cervelli I think of the scene in “Mighty Ducks” where Coach Gordon Bombay finds Fulton Reed in an alleyway ripping slap shots with empty soda cans into a trashcan. The following conversation transpires…
Bombay: Why don’t you play for us?
Reed: I can’t.
Bombay: What do you mean?
Reed: I mean, I can’t.
Bombay: You afraid?
Reed: No, I mean I can’t, you moron. I don’t know how to skate.
Bombay: Whoa! Is that all that’s stoppin’ ya?
So it got me thinking about a possible similar conversation that happened between Brian Cashman and Francisco Cervelli that led to Cervelli being a Yankee…
Cashman: Why don’t you play for us?
Cervelli: I can’t.
Cashman: What do you mean?
Cervelli: I mean I can’t.
Cashman: You afraid?
Cervelli: No, I mean I can’t, you moron. I can’t hit for power. I can’t hit for average. I’m not fast. I can’t field my position. I can’t make throws to second base. I can’t sacrifice bunt.
Cashman: Whoa! Is that all that’s stoppin’ ya?
Boone Logan might live the dream, but Francisco Cervelli is actually the luckiest man on the planet. Talk about no expectations, no standards and no need to do anything even mediocre at the big league level. Sure, he hit that grand slam against the Rangers in May, but I’m not sure a home run every other year is good enough to justify a roster spot.
Number 18, Andruw Jones, Number 18
Let’s forget for a minute that Andruw Jones hit a textbook double play last night, ran a few steps down the first base line then stopped running (most likely assuming he was out). Let’s forget that the play was semi-broken up at second and that when the YES camera panned to show first base, I fully expected to see Jones at least five steps past first base. Instead Jones wasn’t even in the picture and I nearly snarfed the lemonade I was drinking.
Maybe Jones really did roll his ankle like he claims. (And if you believe that, the Yankees have a great left-handed specialist other teams might be interested in.) But if he was hurt enough to not run to first base, he was OK to go to left field two minutes later and play the outfield? Oh, OK. (Yes, Jones did have a RBI single in the first inning that I didn’t forget about.)
Jones’ job on the team was supposed to be to play left field against the left-handed pitchers to prevent Brett Gardner from facing lefties. But a funny thing happened on the way to Joe Girardi’s master plan: Brett Gardner learned how to hit against lefties. And since Gardner can hit lefties and so can Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher is a switch-hitter and Jorge Posada will threaten to quit the team if he is taken out of the lineup, there’s no need for Jones on the team. But since Girardi sat the Yankees’ hottest hitter (Gardner) for Jones on Monday, maybe Joe isn’t ready to give up on the guy that most fans gave up on a long time ago. (I wonder if Girardi’s decision to sit the team’s hottest hitter and current leadoff man for a struggling right-handed bat will be part of his updated “Yankeeography”?)
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