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Martin Yanks MVP, Best Mgr Job in NYY History, Dickey’s Twittergate, Golden Age of Philadelphia Sports



By Mike Silva ~ August 24th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Yesterday, I talked about Curtis Granderson being my favorite for the AL MVP. But if you read Jeff Bradley’s column in the Star Ledger it might be Russell Martin that is one of the most valuable Yankees.

The Yankees starting rotation is one of the biggest surprises in baseball. Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are performing as if they are in their pre-injury prime. Ivan Nova is a candidate for Rookie of the Year. Workhorse CC Sabathia is having one of his best seasons to date. Even the bullpen has seen outstanding performances from no-names like Cory Wade and Luis Ayala, to David Robertson, who is having a breakout season. If you read what an American League scout had to say, then Martin may be the reason behind much of their success.

 “Huge impact on the pitching staff,” said the scout, who requested anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak about another organization’s player. “He makes all the starters use all their stuff. He has those guys believing they can throw any pitch in any count. He’s got a great setup behind the plate, so the umpires get a good view. He blocks balls in the dirt and encourages, no, demands guys throw their off-speed stuff down so hitters chase.”

Catching is so much more than throwing runners out (which Martin has done well, nailing 32 of 100 would be base stealers). There is the responsibility of calling the game, blocking pitches in the dirt, and managing the pitcher through the game. Freddy Garcia praised Martin for his ability to keep the ball in front of him. Garcia isn’t afraid to bounce a couple of balls in the dirt with runners on base. The same American League scout pointed out how Martin critically assesses his pitcher in-game and will deviate from the scouting report, if necessary.

All this makes whatever offense you get from him gravy. Joe Girardi, a defensive catcher during his playing days, is a believer in defense behind the plate. That, and the fact the staff loves throwing to him, makes me believe this is Martin’s job for the long haul. Martin actually sounds a lot like Girardi when he played, just with more power.

Martin’s success also means we will not see top prospect Jesus Montero behind the plate in the Bronx anytime soon.

***

All the debate about how Joe Girardi handled the media during Saturday’s A.J. Burnett crisis got me to thinking about what could be the best managerial job in Yankees history. What I mean is what skipper was able to do more with less. Not an easy task since the Yankees historically have the talent stacked in their favor. That’s why I think the best overall managerial job in team history was Joe Torre in 1996.

Miller HugginsJoe McCarthyCasey Stengel, and Ralph Houk all benefitted from possessing some of the best players in the league during their tenure. Billy Martin did more to sabotage the ’77 Yankees than lead them to victory. Bob Lemon did lead the ’78 comeback, but that’s a team that started to play to their talent level. Buck Showalter was short-circuited just when things were about to be good. The best managerial job in team history might be Joe Torre and the 1996 World Series team. Torre’s ’96 team won three rounds of playoffs against teams that were statistically better than them on paper. They beat an Atlanta pitching staff that arguably was the best in the last 25 years.

Torre- just like Huggins, McCarthy, Stengel, and Houk- would benefit from immense talent later in his tenure. His best managerial job, in my opinion, was that first title in 1996. That team might be the weakest World Champion in team history. They are one of the few Yankees teams where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

***

ESPN NY Mets beat reporter Adam Rubin had this to say during his afternoon chat:

Michael C. (Westport, CT)

As the Mets were getting pasted 10-0 in the fifth inning last night, the camera showed Jose Reyes in the dugout smiling and laughing, without a care in the world. And it certainly wasn’t the first time. What’s your opinion of this? Is this the kind of mindset and childish lack of intensity the Mets should pay over $100 million for going forward?

Adam Rubin

Well, that’s Jose Reyes‘s personality. That doesn’t mean he accepts losing. He’s just an always-upbeat person. Heck, one player was tweeting repeatedly after a 10-0 loss. I thought that was beyond acceptable. Look, players don’t need to mope in their hotel rooms after losses, but they need to have a pulse for what the fan base is thinking and tailor the public presentation of their behavior accordingly. If they’re smart, at least.

Rubin is referring to R.A. Dickey, who has made Twitter part of his pre and postgame routine. Rubin is arguably the best Mets writer on the beat. I respect his opinion, and normally agree with him on most points. This one I have to disagree.

I think one of the reasons the fans don’t mind Dickey on Twitter after a loss is because he is accessible. None of his tweets were dismissive of the game. In many, he gave fans a pep talk after a tough game. Players that don’t write their own tweets, or only show up for self aggrandizing promotion (see Lebron James)is where I would have the problem. The fans usually do too. Dickey is behaving no differently than anyone would after a day of work.

I actually have more of an issue with Reyes clowning around in the dugout while getting pounded. The most egregious thing that happened during this losing streak was Justin Turner (also on Twitter) chatting it up at second base with the runner in the ninth inning during Saturday’s Brewers come-from-behind win. That kind of fraternizing is far worse than responding to a fans tweet during the postgame. It’s no different than listening to music, watching TV, or calling your family right after the last out. It’s just that Twitter discussions are public, while the others are private.

Dickey is one of the leaders and biggest competitors on the club. If his postgame tweeting was an issue I suspect he would be aware of it, or Terry Collins would put a stop to it.

Want to really get fired up? Stop the public fraternizing on the field. I wrote about this earlier in the year, and it continues to bother me.

***

Are we in the Golden Age of Philadelphia sports led by the Phillies? The Phils are well on their way to 100+ wins. If they win it all it would be their second World Series title in 4 years. Imagine a scenario where they beat the Yankees in October?

Long gone is the rivalry with the Mets that we saw in 2007-2008. The Phils have treated the Mets this series like a D-League opponent in Sunday softball. Are New Yorkers headed for the nightmare of Philadelphia enjoying 4-sport success?

Imagine a scenario where the Phils beat the Yankee this year, the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and the Flyers win the Stanley Cup. If there were going to be an NBA season I would say the Sixers beat the Knicks in the playoffs, but it appears the NBA is going to be gone for a while.

It’s not farfetched. The Eagles have gone on an historic free agent spending spree since the lockout ended. They have to be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. The Flyers are one of the top teams in the NHL. The Sixers aren’t an elite NBA team, but Doug Collins have them pointed in the right direction. They are, at least, just as good as the Knicks.

This could turn into a nightmare as the city with an inferiority complex to New York can become the most enviable sports town in the country the next 5 years. A city that historically has gone to sporting events to watch the opposition lose, versus rooting for their team to win, has turned itself around. It might be the biggest comeback since Rocky III.

Everyone talks about the energy at Citizens Bank Park on a nightly basis. I wouldn’t call it arrogance- at least not yet- but hope, positivity, and confidence the home team is going to win. You could feel the positive energy just watching the game on television. The fans really enjoy a night at the ballpark. Something that Mets fans haven’t allowed themselves to do since the 2006 playoffs.

The Mets have a long way to go to obtain the mojo we see nightly in Philadelphia. The last time they had it for an extended period of time was the eighties under Davey Johnson. These days, Mets fans resemble the old negative Phillies sports fans. That attitude didn’t work for the Phils, and it won’t work here in New York

I do fear the true nature of the Philadelphia sports fan will rear its head with too much success. It will be like allowing a bunch of drunken sailors into the penthouse. In the end, they are who they are. Hopefully, they won’t become charactertures of themselves like Boston fans. That would be beyond obnoxious.

Philadelphia a winner? The world truly is coming to an end.

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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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2 Responses to Martin Yanks MVP, Best Mgr Job in NYY History, Dickey’s Twittergate, Golden Age of Philadelphia Sports

  1. Chuck Johnson

    I can see Torre’s ’96 being a great managerial job, considering how bad things were under Showalter.

    He was/is so monumentally incompetent as a manager.

    In many ways, he’s very similar to Girardi.

  2. Joseph DelGrippo

    “Are we in the Golden Age of Philadelphia sports led by the Phillies?”

    No, that already happened when in 1980, the Phillies won the World Series, and the Sixers, Eagles and Flyers all made their league finals before losing the titles.

    That time period was the best in Philadelphia history and today’s teams are not even close to replicating those days.

    While in New York, only the Yankees and both hockey teams (Islanders won the Cup) were good teams that year.

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