One of the most pleasing things about having a blog is the ability to use Google and Nexis to remind MSM of all the things they’ve been wrong about. Hifalutin types like to call this “holding the mainstream media accountable.” After all, making predictions is a big part of journalism (though we’re not really sure what it’s supposed to add to the conversation) and an even bigger part of sports journalism (where at least it does no harm). But where’s the fun in predicting things without snarky bloggers to rub your mistakes in your face? One of the bigger gaffes this season has to be the many voices that declared the Yankees dead in the water before June. Now, of course, the Yankees have shaved 10.5 games off their previous deficit and are within an easy four-game striking distance of the first-place Boston Red Sox.
ARE THE YANKEES DEAD?
This is another dangerous question, considering the Yankees are “only” 7½ out in the wild-card race.
One thing we know, however, is this: They’re not catching the Red Sox. No team in history ever has been 14½ games out before June and come back to finish first. And only the Miracle Braves were that far back at any point and wound up playing in October.
And today in ESPN’s Page 2, Jeff Pearlman formally retracts his column of May 18 stating that Joe Torre should be fired. In that column, Pearlman wrote, ironically now, that calling for the men’s soccer coach at his college to be fired was “remains my greatest journalistic regret.” Yet forging brazenly ahead, Pearlman continued:
I bring this up because today, for only the second time as a writer, I am recommending a person be fired.
This time, however, I am right.
The New York Yankees need to rid themselves of Joe Torre. Now.
“[The Yankees] are a flat tire, with nary a jack for miles. Here is a team in dire need of pizzazz, of intensity, of spirit, of soul.
Oddly, Pearlman called Torre’s first championship in New York “one of the great managerial achievements in Yankees history,” but then attributed most of Torre’s success in those years to his talented coaching staff and the front office, which supplied him with “mature, self-motivated men in their early-to-mid 30s who didn’t need to be pumped up by their manager before a big game. ” That hardly sounds like a managerial achievement to me—in fact, it sounds like Pearlman’s argument was basically, “Joe Torre was a good manager because he doesn’t manage.” He should have retracted this column whether or not the Yankees started closing in on the division title.
But why pick on ESPN? They were hardly the only scribes to write off New York. Over at SI.com, John Donovan wrote of the Yankees on July 24:
Their string of nine straight American League East titles is toast. The 12 straight postseason appearances? Well, I can’t be completely sure, but I think I smell that burning, too. It’s almost unfathomable to think that the Red Sox, who own a 10-game cushion on both the Yankees and Blue Jays, can choke away the division lead. The Sox simply have too much pitching, both starting and in relief, to blow it. And the Yankees’ possibilities for landing the wild card look nearly as bad. They’re down 8 1/2 games in that race and have a ton of good teams to pass — Cleveland, Seattle, Minnesota and Oakland, not to mention current division leaders Detroit and the Angels. It’s just too much to ask, even for a team that’s second in the league in scoring (5.4 runs a game).
And of course, there were some blowhards in the Boston area making the same claims. “This race is already over,” wrote Bill Reynolds in the Providence Journal of the AL East pennant. “Finis. Kaput. Done. Over…Write it down.” In the Lowell Sun, Teddy Panos advised, “After Labor Day, the Sox will be exactly where they are now—comfortably ahead of the Yankees and setting up the rotation for the playoffs.”
Then, of course, there was all the moaning by the New York papers—scathing disdain on the back page of the Post and restrained despair within the New York Times. Most recently, for instance, Cashman was castigated for letting the Sox get Eric Gagne. But that’s a subject for another day.
I, of course, never made such foolish predictions because I, of course, am a Red Sox fan. I believe in my team–with a capital B, in certain instances–but I never, ever trust them.