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Jeter Is No Ripken, K-Rod &Boras, Warthen Platitudes, CC’s Show, Liriano



By Mike Silva ~ July 11th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

With all the hoopla over the weekend regarding Derek Jeter‘s 3,000th hit, it brought to mind another shortstop who achieved a milestone: Cal Ripken. Now, I am not suggesting Jeter did a bad job over the weekend, but I compared his event versus Ripken’s and it was night and day.

Perhaps this is an unfair comparison because baseball was still very much in the post-strike healing stage when Ripken broke Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive games streak with his 2,131st consecutive appearance. If the McGwire/Sosa homerun chase brought baseball back, Ripken’s record was the methadone that began the process. Remember, it was just a few months earlier fans ran out on the field in protest and threw money at the players during opening week. Ripken was just as classy as Jeter, but did it with the “everyman” persona. Jeter seems to channel Joe DiMaggio in every way on and off the field. Jeter is an unapproachable and surly movie star; Ripken is your gym teacher. Cal did a victory lap that night and reached out to all the fans in Camden Yards. You felt that it was their record, not just Ripken’s. During his Hall of Fame speech many years later, Ripken compared his record to the plight of every American:

I know some fans have looked at The Streak as a special accomplishment, and while I appreciate that, I always looked at it as just showing up for work every day. As I look out on this audience, I see thousands of people who do the same, teachers, police officers, mothers, fathers, business people and many others. You all may not receive the accolades that I have throughout my career, so I’d like to take the time out to salute all of you for showing up, working hard and making the world a better place. Thank you all.

There seemed to be a real connection between Ripken and the fans that night. With Jeter, it was about the fans celebrating him. It was also about the moment, not the commercial aspect. I know baseball is so different today than that September night 16 years ago. Everything is more commercialized, but the aftermath of Ripken’s accomplishment was about the game. So much of Jeter was about the ball. The Yankees are a mega-brand so perhaps that was inevitable. Its unfortunate the event may be more remembered for a mult-billion dollar conglomerate taking advantage of a 23 year old kid who didn’t know any better.

One other thing. Even if Cal Ripken was coming off an injury and didn’t want to play in the All Star Game, he would show up.

There are thousands of players that would want the chance to have the honor that Derek Jeter just passed up. I know he is stressed and tired from the pursuit of greatness. But again, millions of Americans face stress and burn out on a far greater level every day. Cal Ripken got that. I don’t think Derek Jeter does.

Derek Jeter is a lot of things, but he is no Cal Ripken.

***

Great job by Adam the Bull of WFAN for taking the Yankees to task for how they handled Christian Lopez, the kid who caught Jeter’s 3,000th hit. Bull took the team to task, and admonished a few of the callers that tried to spew the Yankees/Jeter kool-aid. One caller was “surprised” that Jeter charged for autographs and said she wasn’t aware that he did something like that. Are we this naïve? Is the Jeter PR machine that good?

I have yet to see anyone in the print media take the Yankees to task for this (If I missed one please let me know). You probably won’t either. Why? Because the “Iron Curtain” of the Yankees might be in play here. Just two weeks ago, a New York Magazine writer who, ironically, was writing a piece that included Jeter was denied access by PR chief Jason Zillo because the article discussed the decline of athletes with age, and painted Jeter’s play on the field in less than the best light. Take a read at this excerpt from the piece:

The prospect of this article did not sit well with the Yankees, or at least elements of its hierarchy. Jason Zillo, the team’s media director, would not grant me access to the Yankees’ clubhouse before games to do interviews. I have been a baseball beat writer, have written two baseball books and have routinely been granted clubhouse credentials for a quarter-century, as just about anyone connected to a reputable publication or broadcast outlet usually is. “We’re not interested in helping you, so why should I let you in?” Zillo said, before further explaining that he views his role as a “gatekeeper” against stories the Yankees would rather not see in print.

The author, Michael Sokolove, wound up getting access to Jeter in Baltimore a few weeks later. I wouldn’t have even wasted time on stressing the quote part. A piece like that could run without the glib musings of The Captain.

Why do I bring that up? Imagine if you write for the Daily News, NY Post, Newsday, or NY Times? Imagine if you take the Yankees to task for exploited a naive kid out of college who caught the 3,000th ball? Would you be denied access by the Yankees PR czar? I don’t think he would have the guts to pull a credential from a writer of a major newspaper. I do think he would make sure your job is as difficult as possible going forward.

With so many corporate interests in media today it’s becoming harder for writers to touch subjects that have meat and potatoes unless it sits well with the gulag. We are in unprecedented times of corporate sensitivity when it comes to real debate and discussion. Big conglomerates, and the Yankees are one of them, haven’t handled the transparency that comes in an age of information. Where just ten years ago they could control the message (i.e. lie and fool us), today they have to address head on the issues that makes its way around Facebook, Twitter, and the electronic media.

Jason Zillo may be drunk on power, but he is doing nothing different than what the PR head of another corporate conglomerate would do. They lie, and when things don’t go their way, they take their ball and go home because they have money and power and can do that.

Paul Lebowitz talks more about this in detail at his blog.

***

Mets beat reporter for The Record, Steve Popper, appeared on my show last night. When we discussed K-Rod selecting Scott Boras as his agent, Popper believed this was a positive development for the Mets. Remember, Boras doesn’t get paid unless he is able to secure a contract extension for Rodriguez. If the $17.5 million dollar options vests, his prior agent (Paul Kinzer) is entitled to the commission on it.

Does anyone really think Boras is going to wait until 2013 to start getting paid on Rodriguez? I suspect that Boras is going to help facilitate a deal to a contender so he could be their setup man because he doesn’t want the option to vest. In turn, Rodriguez becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team this winter. Don’t be surprised if he looks to secure a contract similar to what Rafael Soriano received from the Yankees (3 years/$35 million) this past offseason.

To listen to Popper download the replay and fast forward to the 32 minute mark.

***

Bill Madden throws platitudes at Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen in yesterday’s Daily News. You all know that I am not a fan of Warthen since I prefer a more forward thinking pitching coach in the mold of Rick Peterson. I also think a majority of the success of the Mets pitching staff has nothing to do with Warthen. Dickey is self made, Capuano is using Peterson’s throwing program, Dillon Gee is pitching as he did in Triple-A, and Mike Pelfrey has severely regressed. Maybe you could credit him with the development of Jonathan Niese, but the young lefty was overused at the end of last season and his performance suffered. His innings jump last year could come back to haunt the team later this year. Thankfully, it hasn’t to date, or caused any harm to Niese’s health.

Take this quote from Madden which sums up why I think Warthen is nothing special at what he does:

In contrast to Duncan’s (St. Louis Pitching Coach Dave Duncan) cerebral philosophy of developing a game plan for his pitchers, Warthen’s approach is more man-to-man, getting to know his guys as individuals and challenging them to pitch to their abilities.

So basically there is no logic or data behind Warthen’s approach, just empty platitudes and bromides that mean nothing. Think of it as a sugar rush for pitchers. It tastes good and fills you up in the moment, but adds no long term nutritional value when you take the mound.

I was told that Warthen’s words of wisdom to a struggling pitcher earlier this year were “you gotta start getting people out.” Right Dan, because all this time I wanted hitters to tee off on me.

Let’s not forget that under Warthen there also has been huge miscommunication between dugout and bullpen. We saw that on display in Detroit two weeks ago. I hate to say, but that wasn’t the first or last time that happened this season. Inexcusable; how a pitcher can come in cold to a ballgame because the dugout was misinformed about whether he was ready. That’s Warthen’s responsibility. When they hurt their arm and are out of baseball is Dan going to make up the loss in pay? I didn’t think so.

Are the Mets pitchers better off in the long term with someone like Dan Warthen? I think the answer is an obvious no.

As for comparing his style to Dave Duncan in St. Louis; Warthen is Alex Cora, while Duncan is Albert Pujols.

The next Warthen reclamation project will be his first. Duncan has done it many times. So has Rick Peterson.

If Sandy Alderson is smart he calls up Peterson and hires him back at the end of the season. Make up for the foolish firing by Omar Minaya.

***

Back in 2008, Milwaukee rode CC Sabathia hard after he was acquired from Cleveland. They knew they needed to win just about every game he threw in order to make the playoffs. Sabathia was great yesterday, becoming the first Yankees hurler to win a 1-0 game at The Stadium since Tommy John. It did bring to light how important Sabathia’s starts are going to be when it comes to the postseason.

If the Yankees don’t acquire a legitimate #2 starter – and it seems unlikely they will- Sabathia games in the postseason almost become “must wins.” Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia, and even Bartolo Colon are far from a sure thing when they take the mound. Lose Game 1 with Sabathia on the mound and the series against any team takes on a different look.

Fortunately, for the Yankees, it appears that Sabathia is on his way to having his best season as a member of the team. To date, I think it’s been one of his most consistent.

***

Is Francisco Liriano becoming the most realistic/best upside option for the Yankees to upgrade their rotation? With King Felix and Jared Weaver appearing to not be options, why not take a chance on the Minnesota lefty? He is not an ace, but might be the perfect #2 in the Yankees rotation.

Steve from The Yankee Analyst talked about this with me last night during the first half hour of the show (fast forward to the 10 minute mark to hear Steve). I said that I would trade Jesus Montero and Andrew Brackman for Liriano. Steve disagreed with the package, but was amenable to something along the lines of Austin Romine and Dellin Betances.

If you are the Yankees it’s about winning now. The kids are never going to see the light of day in the Bronx. This was made perfectly clear with the actions of the organization the last few weeks.

With Liriano’s struggles you probably don’t even have to give up as much as what we suggested. We were talking more about the drop dead final type of offer.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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7 Responses to Jeter Is No Ripken, K-Rod &Boras, Warthen Platitudes, CC’s Show, Liriano

  1. rahsaan venable

    I think this article is a little unfair to Jeter. It kind of paints him out to be selfish and Ripken to be a saint. But you must not forget, it has been reported that Cal at times would ride in a private limo while the rest of his team would be on the team bus. Or that on road trips, he would elect to stay in separate hotels. He admitted himself as late as 1995 that he didn’t know much about Lou Gehrig the man even though he was chasing his streak. He was known in the inner Oriole circle as sometimes being moody, and not the great teammate as alot of people viewed him as. Cal Ripken was a great player, but far from a Saint. Who is?

  2. Lo

    This is almost as on point as when you thought Jeter not being comparable to Munson (a racist asshole, who divided clubhouses in ways that aren’t even possible in this day and age) or Gehrig (someone who refused to utter a single world to another star teammate for years, no matter how bridges were attempted to be repaired just for a civil co-existance) as captains was somehow an insult to Jeter.

    If you want to argue Jeter is no Ripken on the field, guess what? There’s a very strong statistical case to make. Make it. It would valid and fair.

    This, however, again exposes you as not knowing very much about who Ripken actually was and how you’ve totally bought the MSM-meme about him like you claim to hate when people do with Jeter.

  3. Mike Silva

    @Lo and @rahsaan venable

    I never said Ripken was perfect, it was about how he handled the moment. Every star is high maintenance and has their issues. You CAN’T become great without a narcissistic undertone. Its how you translate that into the public persona and doing the right thing when its all said and done.

    Ripken to me is a far more approachable individual than Jeter.

    Also, I don’t know if you can compare statistically. I think Jeter actually has been better and more consistent.

  4. rahsaan venable

    You have to factor in the age in which both achievements were accomplished and also the feats themselves. Ripken broke a thought of unbreakable record…..Jeter became the 28th player to do do what he did on Saturday. So Ripken’s achievement is more significant. Also, Ripken’s record came off of the heels of a strike where baseball was looking to re-connect with the fans. That was where the tradition of throwing balls into the crowds after the 3rd out began. Not to say Ripken’s handling of the moment was forced, but it could have been nudged a bit trying to spread more goodwill to the fans. This day and age…its alot different. With memorabilia dealers all over the place and corporate sponsors trying to make a buck anyway they can, it should have been expected that baseball, the Yankees, Steiner Sports or anyone connected with this milestone would do what it took capitalize on #3000. But I doubt it was Jeter who orchestrated the hoopla. More so the people around him. He didn’t pull a Clemens and have 3000 hits sewn into his glove. He just wants to play baseball. Now if things were reversed and Jeter got #3000 in ’95 and Ripken caught and passed Gehrig last Saturday, would the handling of things be different?? I think we both know the answer to that….

  5. marcsu

    Your ripken versus jeter take is so stupid I had to comment….you are comparing apples and oranges. don’t be bitter just b/c your job takes to you citi field.

  6. John

    “This is almost as on point as when you thought Jeter not being comparable to Munson (a racist asshole, who divided clubhouses in ways that aren’t even possible in this day and age)”

    Lo,

    What are you baseing that statemnet on? How Reggie (It’s all about me) Jackson was treated by Thurman and the rest of the team after Jackson dissed Thurman in a magazine article? Get you facts straight. Thurman was no racist. Talk to Willie Randolph or MIckey Rivers or Elliot Maddox or any of the other black players who were his teammates and they will tell you. Did you know that one of Thurman;s best buddies was Bobby Bonds? Last time I looked, he was black.

  7. Stu B

    “don’t be bitter just b/c your job takes to you citi field.”

    Why would anyone be bitter because his/her job takes him/her to Citi Field or any other ballpark?

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