Category: Musings Page 1 of 26

Deep Thinking

TAMPA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 28: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees fields a ground ball from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays (not pictured) during the second inning during a spring training game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 28, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Pitchers and catchers should be reporting about a month from now. Given where we’re at with the owner-induced lockout, I think we’ve got a snowflake’s chance in Hell–let alone a snowball’s–of that actually happening. But I’ll take an optimistic (perhaps too optimistic) look forward now to a time when the Yankees are playing games. Even with some holes that need to be filled–notably shortstop and first base–the Yankees have the opportunity to be a fairly deep team.

Before we examine that, though, it’s clear that the team does need to sign a full time shortstop. They don’t actually have one on the roster right now, given that they moved Gleyber Torres off the position by the end of the 2021 season. Hopefully, they go big and sign either Carlos Correa or Trevor Story to that position, rather than a stopgap, filler option. I won’t hold my breath on that, though. Regardless, there will be someone playing shortstop for the 2022 Yankees and that means that, including Torres and Urshela, the Yankees will have three players capable of playing short. They should lean on that to load manage and rest players whenever possible.

Torres, as mentioned, is now a second baseman again, meaning the Yankees have at least two legitimate players who can man the position, along with DJ LeMahieu. DJLM can also play a competent first and third, meaning the Yankees can be flexible with their lineups. Whether the Yankees roll with Luke Voit or re-sign Anthony Rizzo or go outside the org for help, LeMahieu can spell that player at first and give him a DH day, which trickles into the outfield depth.

Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks can both actually play center field. Aaron Judge can fake it and play a good right field. Giancarlo Stanton didn’t turn into dust while playing in the OF in 2021. Being able to lean on all those facts should help the Yankees get platoon advantages, rest players, and keep hot bats in the lineup.

The Yankees always preach about wanting flexibility, athleticism, and depth. They more or less have it now. They just need it to be shored up with some acquisitions and then have the confidence to deploy it properly.

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A Brief Meditation on Fandom

On Friday, sports came up during a discussion in the teachers’ lounge at my school. I forget how the conversation arrived to this point, but I recall sharing something I’ve said before about the difference in my habits while watching my favorite teams.

While watching the Yankees, I remarked, I’m relatively calm and chill–despite the curse words that frequent my Twitter account–until the playoffs. But on the other side of the coin, when I watch UConn basketball–men’s or women’s–I have absolutely zero chill. I rock back and forth like Leo Mazzone. I pace around whatever room I’m in, even for regular season games, let alone conference tournaments or the NCAA Tournament itself. For example, the last time the men’s team was in the National Championship game–2014–a game they led wire-to-wire, I spent most of it on the floor between the couch and the TV because I was so nervous.

I suppose caring that much is a luxury, isn’t it? To care so much, to invest so much time and energy into something we ultimately have no control over. Hell, I’ve been writing words online about the Yankees in some ‘official’ capacity since August of 2008 and unofficially on message boards, forums, etc. for years before that, too. I’m under no illusion that doing so has had any effect on the New York Yankees, but I care and it’s fun, and that’s why I keep doing it, even now in a lockout when there is, quite literally, nothing to write about.

On the other hand, knowing that fandom ‘doesn’t matter’ in the universal sense allows us to escape from our escapism when necessary. Over the last few years, I’ve cut back on watching the Giants and the NFL in general for many reasons, but mostly because the Giants have been terrible and it was no fun to get worked up and agitated over their poor performance anymore. Sports, however different they are from movies, TV shows, whatever, are ultimately entertainment products and when something stops entertaining us, we should stop engaging. It took me far too long to realize that with The Walking Dead, but that’s another story. Glad I hopped off that train, even if it was far too late.

With that in mind, I wonder if we should be less rigid about fandom, whether it’s our own or others’. Want to root for two teams? Do it. Want to just keep track of players and not care about team loyalties? Go for it; it’s what most of my students do with football and basketball anyway. Want to root for some team you have no geographical or biographical connection to? Right on. Whatever you want to do, do it. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Early Lockout Thoughts

The inevitable happened and it’s still annoying. Like a dreaded Monday after a good weekend, the owner-imposed lockout of MLB players happened last week and now we’re left with a cold, relatively baseball-less winter. As a quick aside, I’m being generous in calling the 2021 season a good weekend, huh? Regardless of that, it looks like we’re in for the long haul, so let’s have some reminders.

  1. It’s not your money! This applies to free agent signings and it applies to revenues in baseball. That money is not yours and is never going to be yours. Don’t hate on it when players ask for more of it; they have a relatively short window to earn as much as they can and, dammit, they should, just like any of us would. I would rather my money go to the people actually providing the entertainment than the wealthy people who pay their checks.
  2. You wouldn’t do your job for less money than you think you’re worth, right? Right. And neither should nor will MLB players. Baseball is a game, sure, but to the players, it’s also work and this dispute is just like any number of work disputes any one of us could have. They’re going to–just like we would–fight for what they think they deserve. Will they necessarily get it all? Probably not. But they’re right to fight for it and we ought to support them; they’re much more like us–workers–than they are the owner–bosses.
  3. Unionize your workplace! This goes especially for minor league baseball players. I hope we see them unionize real soon.

Now, to a more Yankee specific thought.

A Holiday Wishlist

Before getting into things we may wish for, given the season and what not, let me start off with a message of thanks. Thank you for reading these pieces and our tweets, thank you for listening to the podcast, and thank you for finding space in your busy lives for Views From 314 Feet. We appreciate it and all of you more than you know.

Now onto the wishful thinking.

Most importantly, I wish for a season, an uninterrupted season. As we’re all aware of, the CBA between the league and the MLBPA is about to expire and we’re staring down a lockout. Hopefully it gets resolved quickly and there’s no interruption to Spring Training or games. Am I holding my breath on this one? Not exactly. But I am crossing my fingers.

When it comes to the Yankees, my wish is pretty singular: just make meaningful change. We know the specifics: a shortstop, a first baseman, a centerfielder, a starter. There’s not much need to go down each path again and again, but it’s still a wish (really a goal) worth repeating.

The last few years have been a blend of success and frustration, with not quite enough of the former and way too much of the latter that probably could’ve been avoided. The last few years have also seen the Yankees lean on the same method they have been for…a long time. It’s time to change that.

Change the way the pitching staff is constructed.

Change the emphasis on player skills and attributes.

Change the way depth is achieved.

Change the way decisions are made.

The Yankees are close to giving us what we all want, what we all really wish for: a 28th World Series championship. All things considered, they don’t have to take too many steps to get there. But doing so will require answering some uncomfortable questions about themselves. If the holiday season is a time for reflection on what you have, what you need, and how to get the latter, the Yankees need to take advantage.

The changes they need to made are small and simple, but significant. This holiday season, I’ll be wishing for them to do just that.

A Window to 2022

Goodbye guns 😥

Among the Yankees’ moves to free up 40-man roster space was a dual DFA: Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade. While not officially the end for either player, the move tells us that they’re essentially done as Yankees, a disappointing end for the duo.

While Wade won’t find fans ’round this blog, it’s worth noting that his profile suggested he could be a useful piece for the Yankees’ bench. It just didn’t work out that way. It’s entirely possible he fills this role for another team, and we wish him well on a personal level.

Clint, on the other hand, was one of our personal favorites, but it just didn’t work out for him. Head injuries led to a blown chance at the beginning of this season and that effectively sunk his Yankee career. It’s too bad because his personality and skillset made him seem destined for stardom in New York. Hopefully, Clint gets healthy and tears it up somewhere.

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