Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Larry Brooks Does Not Watch Baseball

Intangibles Still in Torre's Corner

by: Larry Brooks, somehow printed in the New York Post

August 16, 2006 -- JOE TORRE was talking about the Red Sox, whom the Yankees will play five times in four days at Fenway beginning Friday, but he just as well could have been talking about his own team.

Interesting. Continue, Larry.

"Good teams find a way to get things done," Torre said last night when asked if he still considered Boston to be as serious a threat as ever, injuries to people like Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon and Tim Wakefield notwithstanding. "That's the intangible [that's tangible]."

Cliché quote? Check. Mention of intangibles? Check. I think we're in for an “old school” column, folks.

[MORE]It's the intangible that somehow kept the Yankees afloat in 2005 when their pitching staff fell to pieces and the season as well appeared about to shatter in the aftermath of miserable performances last June in Kansas City, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

And all this time I thought it was common knowledge that it was the fluky brilliance of Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon combined with the return of -- and serviceable performances by -- Jaret Wright and Chien-Ming Wang that kept them afloat in 2005. But I'll be darned, it was an intangible all along. But which intangible was it? Grittiness? Grinding it out? Regardless, I'm thankful for the correction of my logic. Where would I be without Larry Brooks to correct the flaws in my thinking?

It's the intangible that provided the stitches of the fabric this year that allowed the Yankees to prosper after corner outfielders Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield went down in May.

Once again, I was misled on this issue. But I'm still confused, Larry. Are the performances of Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams intangible? Are Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano, and Jorge Posada intangible? What about Wang and Mussina? I thought those were the “stitches of the fabric,” the guys who carried the team. According to Brooks, either I'm wrong or all of these players and their numbers are intangible. I wonder if Larry owns a dictionary.

Players come and players go. Heroes and goats exchange roles. Johnny Damon turns in a cowboy hat for Pinstripes. But still, for the ninth year running, and with the latest, greatest version of baseball armageddon just a couple of days away, there are the Yankees in first place and there are the Red Sox in second.

Do I need to point out that the first two lines are retardedly poetic? And did anyone else know that they wore cowboy hats in Boston? This jumble could be reduced to the following sentence: “Despite the constant swapping of players, the Yankees are in first and the Red Sox are in second for the ninth year running.” See how much tighter and to the point that is? Oh, damn, forgot about Larry's word count. And here you have the M.O. of sports columnists: why waste time with insight when I can string together meaningless words and sentences? Bravo.

And there are the Yankees in first place by three games after rallying to defeat the Orioles 6-3 in the first of three in the Bronx, while the Red Sox were losing their second straight at Fenway to the Tigers.

From the last paragraph: “...there are the Yankees in first place...”
From this paragraph: “...there are the Yankees in first place...” My copy editor would have lambasted me for this. Apparently Larry's doesn't hold him to as high a standard.

The Yankees are 24-11 since July 4 and 9-5 since Brian Cashman worked the trade deadline to give them a lineup that, including Bobby Abreu and Craig Wilson, is so long and deep that Torre can't quite figure out how to get Bernie Williams the at-bats he's earned. They've picked up seven games on Boston since July 4, four games since the deadline.

I have issue with the Bernie Williams statement. If Bernie so deserves these at-bats, then why did Cashman deem it necessary to go get Abreu and his $25 million contract? If you answered: “because there's no way Bernie would keep up this level of play through the rest of the season,” you win the knowledge that you are smarter than Larry Brooks. Though, I guess that's not much of an achievement.

"We can't worry about Boston yet," said Damon, who jacked a two-run blow in the seventh to get the Yanks even. "We have business to take care of with Baltimore."

The Yankees were somewhat fortunate last night to get away with a game that was hardly spotless. Perhaps it was a manifestation of intangibles, perhaps a manifestation of talent.

Alex singled with the bases loaded. That's tangible. Damon homered to tie it. That's tangible, too. Cano doubled to put them ahead. Like the first two, that is tangible. I think the latter would be the correct answer, Larry, because of one minute fact: scoring runs is a tangible event. The ball that's thrown, that's tangible. So is the ball hitting the bat. And then the ball landing where the fielders aren't, that's as tangible as it gets.

Abreu, who tripled two batters after Damon's homer and scored the winning run on Robbie Cano's two-out double, continued to look as comfortable in right field as Joe Lieberman at a Democratic Party-sponsored anti-war rally, misplaying a fourth-inning fly into a double. But respect for his arm kept the Orioles from trying to score what would have been a fourth run in the sixth when Miguel Tejada hit a one-out bases-loaded pop into shallow right.

Shtick alert! Not only was that not funny, but it was preceded by way too many qualifiers. How about, “Bobby Abreu continued to look uncomfortable in right field?” Or is that not artistic enough? I think it conveys the point just fine, and it makes you sound less like less of a dolt.

Alex Rodriguez, who did knock in a run in the sixth with a bases-loaded single, fanned with runners on first and third in the seventh after an intentional walk to Jason Giambi. And he continued to experience the yips at third, botching another easy one that might have been an inning-ending, run-saving double play in the sixth.

Larry does not watch baseball games. Because if he did, he would know that Alex didn't fan with runners on first and third. Rather, he popped one straight up. Happens to the best of us. How this made it to press is fucking mind boggling. His opinions are asinine, but they'll continue to seep through the pages of the Post daily because the idiot editors allow it. However, fact-checkers and copy editors can prevent patently false statements. Way to drop the ball, guys.

Still, when the game was there to be had, Damon helped grab it; Damon, who is two years removed from capturing the title that has eluded the Yankees since 2000, and who has brought every intangible with him from Boston to the Bronx.

Ah, the misused semicolon. See, a semicolon separates two complete yet related thoughts. For example: “He went to the store; he bought milk while he was there.” Yet, there sits a fragment on the right side of said semicolon. I'll cut him some slight slack and note that when speaking, this could be an acceptable form. But in print, it's just wrong.

Further nitpicking: Damon didn't capture the title, his team did. And I'm not concerned with the immeasurables he brought with him, I'm concerned about the baseball skills. But Larry doesn't like baseball, as we've recently discovered.

Note: I cut out some stupid quotes here because athletes rarely have anything interesting to say. This instance was no different.

There are games to be won tonight and tomorrow. Every game the Yankees win against the rest of the schedule reduces the urgency to devour the Red Sox, when the teams throw their intangibles and their talent against each other in an August Armageddon.

Remember before when I asked if Larry Brooks owns a dictionary? Obviously he doesn't. Because if he did, he would realize that the statement, “throw their intangibles” is, well, wrong by definition. But that doesn't matter to sportswriters today. Can't find anything interesting to say? Talk about intangibles. That way, you can spout off complete drivel and justify it by saying, “well, they're intangibles, so they can't be measured.”

And if he thinks that every Yankees win “reduces the urgency to devour the Red Sox,” then he's batshit insane. Forget the fucking rivalry, because it's manufactured by the fans. The Yankees want to beat the Red Sox because they're gunning for a division title, and the Red Sox are their closest threat. If they're up by 4 ½ games going into the series, they'll play it with the same tenacity as they would if they were up by 1 ½. Because if they didn't, they'd get shelled and lose the division. But that doesn't compute with Larry Brooks, avid baseball non-fan.

I've been running this Fire Joe Morgan-esque posts a lot recently, but I think they're justified. For this column, Larry Brooks was paid to say nothing. Seriously, what is the message? I'm not even being snarky here; I'm genuinely curious as to what I'm supposed to gain by reading this (see, proper semicolon usage).