Yankees elimination is one to relish

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Yankees elimination is one to relish

People will tell you they are a classy organization. Media talking heads will say that all they do is win. Their fans will tell you that youre just jealous of all the championships. All those things may in fact be true, but watching the Yankees crash and burn in spectacular fashion is still oh so glorious.

Last nights season ending pinstripe defeat was sweeter than most. After they were granted a rainy stay of execution, the 2012 version of the Evil Empire was swiftly and emphatically swept from the playoffs by a surging Detroit Tigers team. After dealing the Bombers an 8-1 drubbing in the clinching game, the Tigers were showered with champagne and the Detroit ground crew kept the tarp ready in case of any Waldman related precipitation.

Ok before I go any further, lets get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the Red Sox season ended sometime right after the press conference that named Bobby Valentine as manager. Yes, the 2012 Red Sox were the baseball equivalent of that 50 foot dead whale floating around Boston Harbor. Long dead and bloated, they floated aimlessly though the season slowly decomposing. Yes, next year will probably end up being the bridge year that fans didnt want to stomach in 2010. And yes, as Comcast SportsNet's Mike Giardis report from an anonymous Red Sox illustrates, even after the in season removal of a quarter billion of bad attitudes, there is still some clubhouse cleaning that needs to be done. To put it simply, the 2012 Red Sox were historically bad.

This years Yankees, on the other hand, soldiered though a successful if unspectacular run to the American League East title while surviving a late season push by the resurgent Orioles as well as numerous injuries, not the least of which was a season-ender to all-time great closer Mariano Rivera.

Unfortunately for the Yankees and their fans, thats pretty much where the highlights end. Yes the Yankees did win a thrilling five game divisional series with Baltimore, but if the Os had someone to close games other than Byung-Hyun Johnson, New York would have been done in 4 games and the plans for Raul Ibanez to be canonized as the patron saint of pinch hitting would never have made it to the Vatican.

The Pope wont have to worry about commissioning any stain glass windows commemorating the Yankees performance in the ALCS. Last rights are now overdue as the Detroit Tigers demolished a Yankee team in offensive shambles. Batting ineptitude that harkened back to the late 80s versions of the Bombers was the story of this series, which suited Curtis Granderson fine as hes been perfecting his Steve Balboni impression all season. Even the Williamsport-like confines of New Yankee Stadium proved insufficient to artificially animate this slumping Yankee lineup. But they did prove intimate enough to allow Alex Rodrigez to grab some digits as he alternated between riding pine and lowering the Yankees carbon footprint as a right-handed wind farm.

It got even worse for the pinstripes as the almost immortal Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, was felled by a freak ankle fracture. Till this point in his career Jeter has been the baseball version of Dorian Grey, seemingly ageless. But a routine grounder combined with an already weakened ankle, and Jeter having less range than Michael Cera painted the portrait of the Captain's mortality. (And before I get added to Dan Shaughnessys anonymous axis of internet evil, like Rivera, I hope Jeter recovers fully and returns. I have nothing but respect for both players and hope they end their careers on their own terms, which will include a standing ovation in their last appearance at Fenway.)

Its only fitting that after the heart and soul of the Yankees was carried off the field that the rest of the team collapsed like a house of cards, but not before adding delicious insult to unfortunate injury.

As a result of trailing a series three games to none, the Yankees and their fans were forced, once again, to revisit the darkest moment in franchise history. Every time a team trails a seven game series three games to none, in any sport, the footage of the 2004 Red Sox come from behind series victory gets rolled out. Its the gift that keeps on giving for Sox fans. Now Yankee fans were not only subjected to reliving the worst choke in sports history, but forced to read from Yankees scribe Jeff Bradley of the New Jersy Star-Ledger about how the Yankees themselves should watch Four Days in October and embrace the mantra of Kevin Millar Dont Let us win tonight.

The Yankees must have just fast forwarded to the end of that documentary because their game four performance was a carbon copy of game seven of the 2004 ALCS. The ace Hessian of the Yankees staff falters under pressure and the Bombers are ushered out of the post season in blowout fueled by a barrage of home runs.

This is truly a Yankee defeat to relish, not only for its magnitude, but because the outlook for New York next season is uncharacteristically grim. CSNNEs Sean McAdams Yankee post mortem might as well have been written on the walls of a Mayan temple. If half of the quatrains in McAdam's piece hold true, the Yankees wont have to worry about embarrassing playoff attendance for some time.

Personally, the thought of not being able to witness the Yankees squander hundreds of millions of dollars in cataclysmic post season fashion, is a bit depressing, but as we know, all good things must come to an end. Right Suzyn?

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.