Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Boogie Down Book Club: The Yankee Years - Chapters 3-11

I'm doing my best to finish The Yankee Years. I've read through chapter 11 which for those keeping score at home is 340 pages deep into the 482-page book. I don't know how many of you watch Yankees On Deck on the YES Network. They did a little feature last year (or maybe 2 years ago) about A-Rod and his children's book, Out of the Ballpark. During the spot, Alex mentioned he likes to read, but often reads multiple books at a time, so it takes him longer to get through a book than most people. That's pretty much what I'm doing right now as I've also been reading John Feinstein's Living on the Black, which for those that don't know, is a book about Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine and their respective 2007 seasons. So in case anyone was wondering why it's taken me so long to get through The Yankee Years, that's why.

Chapter 3 was an extremely interesting chapter, perhaps one of my favorite in the book. It pretty much focused on steroids in baseball and Verducci did a good job writing about it. It was also interesting to read about the rise of the Red Sox and the fall of the Yankees. Basically, the Red Sox were well ahead of the curve when it came to figuring out what was needed to win, and the Yankees were, well, late to the party. Verducci credits the Sox with being on the forefront of building a roster full of guys with high OBPs as oppsoed to high batting averages, believing that having more runners on base would lead to more runs scored. I can't argue with Verducci. The Sox were definitely on the ball and only now are the Yankees catching up in my opinion.

There are quite a few interesting stories mixed in along the way. Perhaps the funnies, and at the same time most disturbing, comes on page 132, and it comes courtesy of Yankee trainer Steve Donahue. The story has to do with Roger Clemens and his pre-game ritual of having Donahue run the hottest possible liniment of the Rocket's testicles. Ha ha ha and ewww gross. I don't care who you are or how much I'm getting paid, the last thing I'm doing is rubbing something on another man's junk. I'm not sure why Rocket couldn't do that himself. Maybe he couldn't be bothered with washing his hands afterwards. But come on man, seriously? To quote Donahue, "He'd start snorting like a bull." I'll admit. I had had some mental imagery of Clemens getting his nuts rubbed down and then snorting. Thanks Tom Verducci. Thanks a lot.

Another interesting story came at the start of chapter 9 when Verducci wrote about the story told him about how Joe Torre chose who to put on the 2004 all-star ballot. I guess a team can pick one guy from each position and have their name added to the ballot. The Yankees at the time had both Bernie Williams and Kenny Lofton. The Yankees ended up going with Bernie after Torre pulled his name out of a hat. Lofton came off as a big sour-puss. That made me chuckle.

The chapter that was about A-Rod wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It didn't really drop any major developments on me. I didn't really learn anything knew. Anybody else feel the same way.

From what I've read so far I must say I really enjoy the book. I like reading about Yankees' seasons past and a lot of the behind the scenes type of stuff. I find reading about that to be enjoyable. Verducci has done a good job so far. And I'm not sure if any of you have caught this, but in this post I've referred a lot to Verducci and his efforts, and haven't really mentioned Joe Torre. That was intentional. I'm know not sure whose nuts Joe Torre had to rub down with hot liniment to get his name attached to this book, but most of it has very little to do with him. It's reads a lot like Verducci went to Torre with questions, Torre answered them, and Verducci incorporated that into the book. Joe's name belongs more in the "Acknowledgements" section than anywhere else. He's just a contributor. The author at Feenwager.com pretty much feels the same way. To quote him from his post, "Plus, if you read the book it’s pretty obvious he had almost nothing to do with actually writing it. Tom Verducci wrote a book about the Yankees and Joe Torre acts as the “brand”. " Well said.

I'm not sure when I'll get to pick up the book again. As I mentioned before, I don't like starting a chapter and not being able to finish it and this book has some pretty decent sized chapters. It's been hard to find the time. With the 1st spring training game starting tomorrow, I anticipate having less time than I do now, but I'll manage.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,



Joe said...

I am not trying to sound arrogant. And I will start by saying that the Yankees are very good this season, as talented as any team in baseball. But the Red Sox are still well ahead in certain areas it seems. Focusing on player development is one thing, although the Yankees aren't poor by any means in the talent they have/will have produced lately (Joba, Hughes, Jackson). But I still firmly believe that the Red Sox understand this area more so than the Yankees.

And the other problem the Yankees have is paying players way too much as they decline. I thought that they might be getting over this, but Tex and Burnett will probably not be worth even close to the money the last few years of their contracts. The same thing goes for Jeter now, AROD later. It looks great now, but there will be a time when these players are no longer wanted, yet have to be paid the money they agreed upon. It will be interesting to see what they do with Jeter when his contract runs out, that is for sure.

And the understanding of draft picks. I believe its been a while since Theo parted with a pick. The Yankees made all of their signings this season, so they won't end up losing so many first round picks. That is if they had made the signings in separate years rather than all in one year as they did. Draft picks individually may not seem like much, but the more they have, the greater the chance that they will turn out to be stars.

With all that said, the Yankees addressed their issues for the time being, but if they want to maximize what the future holds, then they need to focus on in-house options more, saving money, and increasing talent (simply put).


Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the shout-out!

I agree, the Roger "snorting like a bull-nut rubbing" story was the most entertaining part of the book for me, as well.

All I know is that every time I see Stevie Donahue waddle out onto the field, all I'm going to think is, "Isn't that the guy that rubbed goo on Rocket's nards?"

I hope he got a nice Christmas card from the Clemens Family out of it.

J-Boogie said...

Joe- I agree with you but at least they're getting better. As for paying them too much when they decline and the Red Sox keeping their picks, I get that, but the Sox would be in the same position had they landed Teixeira. I know the Sox don't like to give out long-term deals, which works, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. I think by having some of these guys locked up for a while, they won't have to worry about bringing in newbies each year. The rotation is set for years, as are the corners. It should allow them to build from within and shed payroll in the coming years. Hopefully, they're smart about it.