Posts Tagged ‘Jim Leyritz’

The Captain and the Art of Mythmaking

The Captain

 

“The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived, and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” —JFK

 

As Derek Jeter is poised to make history this weekend, his career is in a very unusual place. On the one hand, he is standing on the cusp of history, poised to become the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits. On the other hand, he is following up 2010, the worst season of his career, with an even worse year. The Yankees played their best stretch of baseball with him on the DL, leading some to wonder if the team is better off without him. And he remains under contract through at least 2013.

So why release a biography of Jeter now, at such an uncertain crossroads in his career? Writing a biography of Jeter that culminates in the 2009 season—squeezing his dreadful ’10 and his contentious contract negotiations this off-season into the epilogue—is like writing a biography of Julius Caesar that ends on March 14th.

Ian O’Connor’s new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter, is bound to be incomplete. So why did he write it? It seems clear that the primary motive O’Connor had for writing this book was not to bring new light to Jeter’s career, but to enhance the myths already surrounding it. The Captain is, above all else, an exercise in mythmaking. Continue reading

What Makes a Great Playoff Series?

Leyrtiz

This is a question that has been on my mind since Tim undertook his massive investigation of the 1999 NLCS last week.

The seven-game playoff series (we’re not even going to talk about the atrocious five-game divisional format) is really one of the best things about sports when it unfolds right. It takes the highs and lows of a great game and stretches them over a week and a half. Rooting for a team involved a great series, as Tim can attest, essentially consumes your life for those days. You’re either riding a high from a great win, resentful and angry at the world after a bad loss, or anxiously awaiting an upcoming match-up. The best series have the dramatic arc of a great novel.

I’ve been thinking about this question because I’ve been wondering if the 2009 ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was a Great Series. Superficially, it looks like one: two extra-inning, walk-off games, questionable managerial decisions, close contests in five out of six games. If not for inexplicable errors by Howie Kendrick and Scott Kazmir in Game 6, four of the six games would have been decided by one run. Continue reading

Symposium: Joba to the ‘Pen

John, John, John. I’ll start with a concession: Yes, starting pitchers are more important than relief pitchers. We’re not breaking any new ground here with that vague and general idea. But that’s not at the heart of the Joba Debate. Instead, the first critical question here is: Is a good starting pitcher more important than a great relief pitcher?

Because Joba Chamberlain isn’t the same pitcher across those two roles. With the help of Baseball Reference (really a great tool; maybe you should use it sometime), we learn the following:

Continue reading

Symposium: Joba Should Stay in the Rotation

In his last game (against the Indians), Joba Chamberlain pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning on the way to a Rivera save and a Yankees win. Oh yeah, he also pitched the first seven innings, giving up only four hits and two runs. That was probably more important.

This shouldn’t even be a debate. Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that a starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher. In fact, anyone who knows anything about ANYTHING knows that, if someone is good at something, you want him to do that thing MORE. Continue reading