October 26th, 2006 → 10:27 am @ Seth Mnookin
The Times‘s Tyler Kepner has an update on the love affair between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. (How could a headline like “Jeter Unable to Make it Easier for Rodriguez” not be good news for the Yankees?)
During the year I spent with the Red Sox, my opinion of Jeter improved greatly; I went from thinking he was among the most overpaid and overrated players in baseball history to appreciating his — and yes, I know this is going to sound shockingly close to the “Captain Intangibles” crap that Yankees fans so often get mocked for — approach to the game and his leadership. He goes out of his way to take young players under his range-less wing; he’s much more likely to give you a good at-bat than are most players; and he’s among the better winners in the game (compared to, say, Kevin Millar). But if A-Rod is going to be with the Yankees next year, Jeter — who told some Sox players, sotto voce, that he didn’t disagree with their criticisms during the ’05 pre-season — should find a way not to telegraph the fact that he hates his partner of the left side of the infield. To wit:
“Jeter said he expected Rodriguez to be back, but did not have any ideas on how he could make life easier for his teammate. Jeter, the Yankeesâ€šÃ„Ã´ captain, has been criticized for his seemingly lukewarm support of Rodriguez.
‘What would you like me to do?’ Jeter said. ‘Youâ€šÃ„Ã´re there and you support him. Everybody supports all your teammates at all times. I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t really know if thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s anything else I can do. Maybe Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m not that smart; maybe you can help me out.'”
Jeter is smart — at least compared to most baseball players — and he knows he could do a lot more than say, “yeah, whatever, that guy’s not bad.”
That aspect of Kepner’s piece is sort of amusing — it’s (almost) always fun to watch 30-something multi-, multi-millionaires act like petulant little bitches. What bugs me is the piece’s lede:
“ST. LOUIS, Oct. 25 â€šÃ„Ã® Derek Jeter has been traveling in Europe, and he said Wednesday that he had not seen any of this yearâ€šÃ„Ã´s World Series. This is the time of year when Jeter, the Yankeesâ€šÃ„Ã´ shortstop, would rather be playing than watching.”
As opposed to whom? Pretty much every single major leaguer in the world would rather be playing in October; even Manny knows that. The endless articles celebrating Jeter’s desire to play in the World Series are ridiculous. Yes, we know Jeter likes the Series; that’s about as far from unique as is possible. And yes, we know he, along with the rest of the Yankees, he thinks of the Series as more of a right and less of a privilege; that’s the unique part. If you want to point something out, focus on that.
October 6th, 2006 → 10:51 am @ Seth Mnookin
I’m about to take off for Brattleboro, Vermont, where I’ll be reading as part of their annual literary festival. As a result, I won’t have any trenchant comments on:
* The Yankees loss to the Tigers.
* The continuation of A-Rod’s playoff disappearing act. Yesterday, A-Rod struck out with the bases loaded in the first. Since Game 4 of the ’04 ALCS, he’s 4-35 with 0 RBIs in October.
* The Dodgers loss to the Mets. Grady Little started the rookie Hong-Chih Kuo (who-o?) (sorry – – couldn’t resist) instead of Greg Maddux. Seriously. (Let’s hope nobody takes Keith Law’s and Bill Simmons’s columns and reads them to Grady.)
* Nomar’s injury.
More, and more of those year-end wrap-ups, over the weekend…
October 6th, 2006 → 10:36 am @ Seth Mnookin
1. The dual guitar solo on Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames.” (The whole clip is only about a minute long. I was tipped off to this by Kelefa Sanneh’s Times piece from earlier this week. As K. says: “A one-minute video of Mr. Li and Mr. Totman trading impossibly fast solos â€šÃ„Ã® from a song called â€šÃ„ÃºThrough the Fire and Flamesâ€šÃ„Ã¹ â€šÃ„Ã® has been viewed nearly half a million times. (The fretwork is astonishing, but whatâ€šÃ„Ã´s even better is watching Mr. Totman swig a beer while Mr. Li plays.)” It’s truly mind-blowing…and actually better than Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Tangentiallly, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Kelefa is the best music writer in the country. I can’t think of a bad piece he’s written, and at least twice a week he comes out with something that examines some aspect of the music world in a whole new way.
2. Rock ‘n roll tour riders have been the subject of much fascination and awe ever since Van Halen demanded that their dressing rooms have bowls of M&M’s…with all the brown ones taken out.
Without further ado, I present to you the Iggy and the Stooges rider, dug up by the Smoking Gun. It is the best tour rider ever.
Some selected examples:
* “By the way, if there are any Reality TV executives reading this — hardly likely, I know, but — here is my idea for a Reality TV show. It’s called ‘Dead Dog Island’, where a group of contestants/dog lovers is asked what is their favourite breed of dog, then whatever they reply…they are then presented with a dead dog of that particular breed, which they have to cook in a number of different ways…”
* Sandwiches: “Hopefully not one of those sandwiches from Subway with beef and alfalfa sprouts sticking out like a Florida retiree’s bikini bottoms. Yuk.”
* Backstage entertainment: “Someebody dressed as Bob Hope Doing fantastic Bob Hope impersonations and telling all those hilarious Bob Hope jokes about golf and Hollywood and Bing Crosby.”
* For the Stooges dressing room: “6 cans of red bull or similar. Something with testicles in it. Or testicles lite.”
Read all 18 pages. It’s worth it.
September 20th, 2006 → 9:47 am @ Seth Mnookin
I recognize the irony in my asking why there are people in the world who’ve been burned by their dumb-ass comments before and still make egregiously misguided statements to the press.
Like A-Rod. It’s been five-plus years since he permanently alienated Derek Jeter with his “he’s never had to lead” comments to Esquire. In the current SI, Tom Verducci has a bunch of juicy quotes in his magnificent, 5,000-word piece on Rodriguez’s struggles with the Yankees, titled “The A-Rod Agonistes.”
A quick read reveals this as perhaps the most incendiary quote: â€šÃ„ÃºMussina doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t get hammered at all. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s making a boatload of money. Giambiâ€šÃ„Ã´s making ($20.4 million), which is fine and dandy, but it seems those guys get a pass. When people write (bad things) about me, I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t know if itâ€šÃ„Ã´s (because) Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m good-looking, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team.â€šÃ„Ã¹ (That quote is eerily reminiscent of the manner in which Kevin Millar anonymously slammed Curt Schilling last year; I recount the whole incident in the book. Suffice to say there are plenty of corners of the Sox’s clubhouse that don’t miss Mr. Cowboy Up.) A-Rod also says, “I can’t help that I’m a bright person. I know that’s not a great quote to give, but I can’t pretend to play dumb and stupid.” Which begs the question: if you’re so smart, why are you giving quotes you know will cause problems?
Sure, Jason Giambi’s quotes in the piece are more revealing — Giambi tells the extent to which the team was frustrated with A-Rod and describes his asking Torre to toughen up on the Yankees’ maligned third baseman — but Giambi is one of the more popular members on the team. Alex is not.
(The NY sports media is, predictably, all over this. I can’t imagine the story will disappear in the next few days.
The Times: “As Yankees March On, a Reminder of Rodriguez’s Summertime Swoon”
The Post: “Spoiled Rotton”
The Daily News: “Giambi Told Torre to Get Tough on Alex“)
August 29th, 2006 → 8:36 am @ Seth Mnookin
You’re right: It is weak to rely on A-Rod to make me feel better about Papi.
But that doesn’t mean I’m letting A-Rod off the hook. After all, I have a history of pointing out delightful NYC headlines. Anyway, I’ll break this into two separate posts. Enjoy…
“But how do you ignore that the overflow caravan of futile support now includes John Wooden? How do you ignore that in the two weeks since A-Rod told us he had been hurt, refused to specify the injuries, but promised he was now healthy and ready to play his best, that he has instead possibly played his worst in the worst season of a great career?”
— Joel Sherman, New York Post, “You Simply Cannot Ignore Alex”
“There figures to be plenty of boos waiting for Alex Rodriguez at the Stadium tonight. That is what happens to players who struggle the way A-Rod has, going 2-for-20 with 14 strikeouts during the Yankees’ six games against Seattle and Anaheim last week.”
— Sam Borden, New York’s Daily News, “Jax Sees A-Rod Upside”
“That seems to be the eternal quest for Rodriguez, to show, somehow, what his gaudy career numbers really mean. This season, he is batting .279 with 26 homers and 93 runs batted in, yet a closer look shows mediocrity.”
— Tyler Kepner, The New York Times, “A Whiff of Futility, and Rodriguez Can’t Rest Easily
August 26th, 2006 → 11:56 pm @ Seth Mnookin
“He’s never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. He hits second â€šÃ„Ã¬ that’s totally different than third or fourth in a lineup.”
— Alex Rodriguez, Esquire, April 2001
It really is, isn’t it?
New York Yankees starting lineup, August 26, 2006
1. Damon, CF
2. Rodriguez, 3B
3. Jeter, SS
4. Abreu, RF
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Williams, DH
8. Cabrera, LF
9. Fasano, C
August 26th, 2006 → 11:48 pm @ Seth Mnookin
With A-Rod’s three strikeouts on Saturday — to go along with his four on Friday — he now has 13 Ks in his last 23 at bats.