Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Notes & A-Rod

Haven’t had a chance to update the sidebar this weekend or yesterday, so that will be done today. Sorry for the double standings; had to run out and didn’t have a chance to proof the site on Thursday.

After a few days of quietude, I make my triumphant return to The Sporting Brews. Despite my various weekend activities, I still managed to catch most of the three games against the Twins, and most of me was pretty pissed off. Saturday was especially damning. I was watching the game with a few buddies, but had to leve after the fifth, angry at the cold bats and the 4-2 score. Now, our other friends aren’t exactly baseball aficionados, but we figured we could wrest the TV from them for the rest of the game. What we didn’t count on was Al’s parents dumping his 5-year-old cousin off on us while they went out. Yes, they entrusted a 5-year-old to eight 24-year-old drunks.

Thankfully, our buddy Sam is an uber-nerd and carries around one of those PDA phones with the Internet. It wasn’t long after 9:00 that I heard someone instructing Sam.

Andy: Yeah, ESPN.com. Now click on MLB, and now on Scoreboard.
Sam: Yankees…lose. Ooh, the Twins scored two in the bottom of the ninth.

[MORE]Of course, we didn’t know the gritty details behind the affair, so it was easy to blame the charade on the Great One. And that, my friends, is the disadvantage of looking up scores on the Internet.

Sunday was another must-win, and for two reasons. First off, you never want to go out and get swept following a sweep of your own. Second, it was Easter Sunday, meaning my Mets-loving extended family was over to watch Carlos Delgado park one in the bottom of the eighth to seal the deal. We just needed a Yankees win following that. Thankfully, Wang and Giambi got the memo.

I’ve been studying this Win Expectancy measure over the past two weeks, and have come up with some early conclusions, which I’ll get to later today. It’s quite interesting how everything works, and it’s simple enough a concept that I can list the numbers and explain them without my readers scratching their heads (or balls). But I’d like to take a second to address an article I saw in the mainstream.

I actually found this article in a hard copy of the Star Ledger, and read most of it. Here’s the quote that I’m mulling over:

High standards are the Yankees way. But manager Joe Torre isn't sure he wants a perfectionist as a cleanup hitter.

"Alex is very tough on himself because he doesn't think he should do anything wrong, ever," Torre said. "I don't think we can live our lives that way."

Yet Rodriguez does.

You have to be kidding me. As much as I try to defend A-Rod at every turn against his flurry of haters, this is just a false statement. A-Rod does not have that mentality. Paul O’Neill had that mentality, and there is an obvious difference between the two. O’Neill wouldn’t accept a soft grounder in a tight situation. If he hit one of those, the water cooler would hit the 15-day DL. A-Rod knows nothing of this passion; after a futile grounder or a strikeout, all he can do is pucker his blue lips and look at the big screen. I’m not saying that he needs to vent his frustrations on an inanimate object. But, I’m also saying that he does nothing that would indicate a perfectionist mindset.

He does work hard, possibly harder than anyone else on the Yankees. But that doesn’t mean he’s the most passionate about perfection. Paul O’Neill got upset with himself 66 percent of his at-bats. A-Rod makes outs at about that rate, and when he hits a slump, he watches video and takes extra swings. Those are all great things, but they don’t necessarily translate into a transcendent passion.

If A-Rod was a perfectionist, if he wasn’t satisfied with striking out or hitting dinky grounders in key situations, a vein in his head would have burst by now. As we’ll discuss later, he’s been most responsible for the Yankees losses and least helpful in their wins thus far. O’Neill would have been stringing up the noose at this point. But A-Rod continues to be A-Rod, always working hard, but always me-first.

Talk to me about his perfectionist attitude when he shatters a bat over his knee.