Steven Goldman goes back, back, back to provide historical perspective on today's events in "You Could Look It Up."
Steven Goldman: Good afternoon, friends, relatives, casual observers, innocent bystanders, interested parties, and former intimates who now exchange only strained looks when they pass on the street. Steven Goldman, BP writer/editor/medical experiment here to conduct you through another afternoon on the way to tonight's ballgames. It's traditional at this point to say what drink is at your side and what music you have playing. Fact is, I have no drink just now, something I might regret, and I haven't put on the music yet. I do know that I'm suddenly in the mood to hear Harry Nilsson's "Spaceman," and that will naturally lead to the Beatles at some point. Let's get to baseball plus the usual little bit of everything else. Getting along with the girlfriend/wife lately? How about the cat? How about Dusty Baker? Are you getting along with him? At BP, we want to know!
Ryan (Milwaukee): Who loses out on the most playing time due to Jay Bruce finally getting the callup?
Steven Goldman: Let's start easy and then warm up. Wouldn't Corey Patterson seem like the obvious choice, given that he's largely without redeeming value? Am I missing something here?
Richie (Washington): I thought you spear carriers always started your chats a touch early, while it was only "The Triumvirate" who ambled on in when it suited them.
Steven Goldman: Marc Antony does whatever he wants no matter what we tell him to do, Octavian likewise, and frankly we're all getting a bit sick of his peevish attitude. I, Lepidus, just go along to get along. Also, lunch ran a few minutes long. Well, off to Gaul. By the way... I don't carry spears. I carry books, like Baseball Prospectus Presents the 1980s.
Ray (CT): Steve, has the Yankee Brass lost their minds with this Jaba thing?? With Jaba in the eighth, Yankee games become 7 inning affairs like we had in the late 90ís with Stanton, Nelson and Mo. Now they have weakened the bullpen by moving the guys from the 5th and 6th innings to a more pressured area. That is not to say that when Jaba does start he will not have problems such as over exposure.
Steven Goldman: Are you sure you want to ask that question to me? One of the Triumvirate might be coming alone any time... (Looks around) Let me just rest these spears up against the wall for a second. Okay: First, it's Joba. Second, moving Joba is the first smart thing the Yankees have done all season. It's so obvious I'm kind of losing patience for talking about it. YOU CAN'T WORRY ABOUT PROTECTING LEADS YOU DON'T HAVE! Since the guy(s) he's presumably replacing have ERAs of roughly 9.00, he will give the Yankees a much better chance of winning on the days he pitches. Blowing a game in the first is just as bad, if not worse, than blowing it in the seventh, eighth, or ninth, you know. And that stuff is overblown anyway. If you look at the win expectancy tables here on this very site, you'll see that very few leads change hands late in ballgames. That's true of teams that have Joba-type supermen in the bullpen and those that don't. Getting 60 innings of him when you could get 160 and someday 200 would be a total misapplication of resources ESPECIALLY for the Yankees of 2008.
josher464 (NYC): Hey Steven,
The wife's doing OK, but the cats are PO'd. Dusty and I are not on speaking terms.
In any case, you seem to have quite a bit of vitriol for Connie Mack (your most recent YCLIU, for example). I'm curious, what did you think of the Macht book, which tended to a kinder, gentler portrayal of the old Ath-a-letic?
Steven Goldman: I love Connie Mack in some ways. He was a unique figure in baseball. Clark Griffith did what Mack did for awhile, but not for nearly as long. I also think that he killed American League baseball in Philadelphia through a combination of short-sightedness and senility. He never embraced the farm system and he was part of the racist cabal that held to a perverse "principal" at the expense of winning or even making money. Welcome to the Darwinism of Bad Ideas. That the Phillies would outlast him in Philadelphia should have been impossible, and if you quizzed anyone on that topic up through 1949 ("Survey: Say Philadelphia has only one team in ten years. Which team will it be?") I would guess you would get A's as your answer nine times out of ten. That said, I admire his weirdly Victorian bearing, so unusual for the more rough and tumble style of his times, the fact that he was generally humane to his players, also unusual, and his ability to scout up two great teams pretty much on his own... I just think he was inherently dishonest about what he was up to after the 1930s. I haven't read the Macht book. Maybe it will convince me otherwise.
kimi (portsmouth): Follow up to the Joba question, do you see Edwar Ramirez taking over as the go-to guy in the 8th? He's a freak of nature who misses more bats than anyone, as far as i can tell.
Steven Goldman: I think he's still living down last year's rather disastrous audition, but the good thing for him is that Joe Torre isn't here anymore and Joe Girardi wasn't here then, so the impression hasn't been allowed to calcify. It's still obvious that they're not in a hurry to trust him with high-leverage situations, but eventually they're going to run out of other choices now that Joba is out of the pen. That said, they should be auditioning more relievers in general, a point I made in today's Pinstriped Blog entry over at YES. Given that they lose every game Ross Ohlendorf appears in anyway, they might as well give someone else a chance to pitch trash time and see if they can do well and move up to greater responsibilities. They have those guys down on the farm.
Mike K (Athens, GA): Will there ever be another Veeck-type owner?
Steven Goldman: Not if baseball can help it. They weren't that thrilled with Bill the first time (actually three times) around and did what they could to keep him out. Not that baseball really needs the wacky promotions. Frankly, they need fewer wacky promotions. Veeck's value wasn't in that, but that he actually cared about giving the fans a solid experience for his buck and was a good baseball man as well, who knew something about running a team, making good deals, etc. Maybe that owner is in the game now too, but I'm not sure who it is. I don't mean that as an insult to the entire class of owners, I just really don't know who it is who is sitting there saying, "Are we maximizing profits at the expense of the ballpark experience? Come on, Bob, can't we hold the line on hot dog prices for another year?" Maybe you could nominate someone...
Ed (NJ): Look into your crystal ball... Does Jeter ever move off of SS, or do we get to watch him make a mockery of the position defensively in his final years? (I'm thinking if he plays SS until he retires his last year or two may go down as the worst-ever defensive SS seasons.)
Steven Goldman: By the time the Yankees finally think about moving him, his bat will no longer support the move. His contract is up after 2010. He'll be going into his age-37 season. There will be no arguable reason to bring him back... Will the Yankees make the right choice, or will they give in to sentiment?
Mike K (Athens, GA): Least favorite Beatles song?
Steven Goldman: "Mr. Moonlight." Really, really bad cover of a really bad song. If you listen to the "BBC Sessions," they had many better covers in their repertoire... No clue why they opted for that one. Least favorite original Beatles song... Hmmm. "Blue Jay Way?"
tommybones (new york): They will give in to sentiment without a doubt.
Steven Goldman: Yeah, I know.
Bret (Moscow, ID): Hi Kevin,
Where would Tim Melville rank among high school hurlers in the 2007 draft. Is he a Jarrod Parker or more of a Tim Alderson? Also, do you think he might be falling victim to scouts seeing him too much and thus starting to nitpick?
Steven Goldman: I really am a spear-carrier, aren't I? I have no identity at all. I live in the Big Goldstein's shadow like some kind of insignificant fungus. It's an honor just to dwell in his wake, I admit, but why doesn't anyone love ME? Doesn't the 80s book count for anything? No?
Rockee (Schodack, NY): I feel Yankees will improve to about an 88 win season but not a championship year. Would you agree. Also one "Off the Wall" question. Do you think Mickey Mantle
would-could hit the warehouse in Camden Yards. Thanks>>>
Steven Goldman: Agreed, and I wrote as much the other day. My touchstone was the 1984 season where they had a first half which was (approximating from memory)35-47 and then a second half which was the best record in baseball at 55-25. I have an idea that something like that will happen, maybe spurred by Jobba and some other change we can't anticipate. The only problem with the 1984 Hypothesis is that the Yankees were able to bring in Don Mattingly and Mike Pagliarulo that year, pushing Ken Griffey to left field over Steve Kemp and sending Toby Harrah to the bench. That kind of thing isn't going to happen this year.
Mike K (Athens, GA): Why does everyone like Iron Man so much? Great opening 15 minutes then the rest was just silly and mostly without worth.
Steven Goldman: I haven't seen it yet, and I should. I did catch the Indiana Jones picture, which I didn't HATE, but it wasn't actually good. It was just a bunch or random scenes with nothing connecting them. There was no plot, no sense of danger, nothing at stake. I know no one ever sets out to make a bad movie, or at least no one serious, and I have my doubts of George Lucas's ability to structure a story -- not doubts, firm beliefs -- but where was Spielberg? Was everyone in the room afraid to say that the emperor had no clothes? I mean, these guys know a great deal about story structure. Why couldn't they see they didn't have any?
Arnold Layne (Cambridge): Am I "mis-remembering" or do I recall that a Yankee manager (Martin?) sent up Mike Pagliarulo to bat right-handed in Detroit against a tough lefty...and he struck out swinging.
Steven Goldman: He did, and it was a bad idea in that it was done in a high-leverage situation, but most tellings of the story make it sound as if Martin tried this completely at random, as if, say, Terry Francona walked up to Josh Beckett this morning and said, "In today's game you're going to throw knuckleballs, left-handed." Martin had seen Pagliarulo switch-hitting in batting practice and thought he looked good enough to try it in a game. Thus it was in some senses a planned experiment, or planned to the extent that Martin was capable of planning... Thinking about that, if Martin was Joba's manager, they wouldn't have had the Joba Rules. They would have needed the Joba Shackles, with Martin bound and held at gunpoint to keep him from breaking them. Similarly, he would have gone from the bullpen to 150 pitches overnight, not been built up over a month.
Rob (Bloomington, IL): What were the 80's like? I spent most of that period learning nursery rhymes and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,so I don't remember much else.
Steven Goldman: The music was pretty good, and there were a lot of good movies. "Raging Bull." "Star Trek II." I used to think it was bad politically, but after the last eight years I've learned to appreciate the Reagan administration--everything is relative, and I had set the replacement level too high. As for baseball, it was the most varied, unpredictable era in the history of the game. Every offensive style was in use, from Whitey's deadball era game to the power lumber of the Red Sox. Almost every team was in it at some point - none of this small/big bifurcation. The Yankees didn't win a championship during the decade, but the Royals did. As Christina Kahrl said recently, it was a time when anyone could win and anything could happen. What we would like to do is bring it to life for you. Sound good?
jamin67038 (Wichita, KS): I agree totally on the Indiana Jones opinion, but I thought the worst part was suffering through Kate Blanchett's ridiculous Russiin accent. Was it as bad as I am remembering?
Steven Goldman: I thought she was doing a parody of Cyd Charisse in "Silk Stockings," kind of Ninotchka as a bondage queen. I was amused by the idea of it, but it didn't keep you in the movie. She was totally unbelievable... Love that scene in "Silk Stockings" when Cyd is dancing around trying on lingerie. But why wouldn't you?
Arnold Layne (Cambridge): I see that Mickey Mantle played in seven games as a SS over a few seasons earlier in his career. Is there a story behind that?
Steven Goldman: He was a shortstop in the minors but, as often happens with young players, the Yankees decided he wasn't going to evolve as a fielder (he made about a million errors) so they decided to use his incredible speed and stick him in the outfield. Casey Stengel liked to pinch-hit for his shortstops a lot, so sometimes early on they would live with Mantle at short for an inning or two as part of that move - you got to keep the outfield bat you used as a PH in the lineup instead of plugging in another infield bat.
jlarsen (DRays Bay): "Silk Stalkings"???? Wasn't that the show that proceeded Monday Night Raw?
Steven Goldman: Nah... It's the musical version of the Greta Garbo-starring/Ernst Lubitsch-directed comedy "Ninotchka," with some fine tunes by Cole Porter. Fred Astaire is a little past it in this - he was getting up there in years, and IIRC it was his last musical - but he still has some great numbers with Charisse, his favorite dancing partner. Also, Pete Lorre sings. Check out both films, please.
G-MOTA (Bumpus, MA): Has history been kind to Mike Pagliarulo? Was he as valuable a player as we thought during the mid-1980s?
Steven Goldman: He was not great, but he wasn't bad. He was a good fielder, had a nice Yankee Stadium power stroke, and was a hard-nosed player. He needed to be platooned, but the Yankees could never find anyone to partner with him. They ran through everyone this side of Luis Aguayo, including Luis Aguayo. Unfortunately, his peak period went by in a hurry because injuries set in. I enjoyed him, and New Yorkers never seemed to hold his New England accent against him.
don (michigan): wow, all yankees all the time around here. let's move on.
Steven Goldman: I'm kind of known for this Yankees stuff, but I don't want to be typecast. What do you want to talk about?
I should add that my last chat was all Reds questions, or at least it seemed that way. They were in a moment of crisis then, the Yankees are in a moment of crisis now, so that's where the interest is gravitating, regardless of my status as BPer/YESman.
Brady (Bradenton): Testing instant replay in the Arizona Fall League seems to be of little practical use -- truly debatable home run or fair/foul calls happen only rarely in the regular season, so how many will actually come up in the short-season AFL? Also, is MLB planning to install multiple cameras at AFL games to simulate what a "call reviewer" would have in a regular season game? Why not select a certain number of AAA parks and test it for a half-season or more?
Steven Goldman: Maybe that will be the next step, but I expect that the AFL gives them the ability to situate things in one locality, one that happens to be a high-offense environment. I think that you're missing a bit of the point though, in that it's not really how debatable the calls, it's just trying it out and getting some basic protocols down to see if its practicable to do.
jlarsen (DRays Bay): Care to entertain why Josh Hamilton's "story" is a feel-good story? Seriously, we shouldn't flaunt a former full-fledged drug addict.
Steven Goldman: Because he didn't have to come back. He could have just remained an addict and squandered all his abilities on his disease. Anyone who gets their life under control is alright with me. Would you have him wear a scarlet A for Addict on his chest for the rest of his life? Redemption, I think, is something that we should always "flaunt." Look at the healing power of baseball. And just to give you a sense of HOW unusual it is, since I've been thinking about the 1980s, a lot of ballplayers from that period who had drug problems ended up dead - Rod Scurry, Alan Wiggins, Eric Show, Steve Howe - Hamilton's story had a pretty big alternative ending, and it wasn't pretty.
don (michigan): oh, blue jay way is crap, but tolerable - compare with wildly unlistenable drivel: yellow submarine, wild honey pie or good night.
Steven Goldman: "Yellow Submarine" was intended to be a kids' song, and I find it legitimately fun at any age, from Ringo's vocals to John Lennon's shouted nautical instructions, to the big sing-along. "Wild Honey Pie" lasts what, 30 seconds? It's just some filler on a double-album, not really worthy of taking offense at. John Lennon said of "Good Night," that "Perhaps it was over-lush," which is an understatement. It's like mainlining pure sugar. That said, it's not bad for what it's supposed to be, which is another kids' song. I've heard good covers of it (Matthew Sweet comes to mind). Also consider its placement on the White Album - it's supposed to be reassuring after the disturbing aural collage of "Revolution 9," and I would argue that taken in context, it is.
Jimmy Carter (The 80's): I know...let's talk about how Ronald Reagan destroyed my alternative energy incentives in his allegiance to the oil companies!
Steven Goldman: Again, 'cause I've been studying: did you know that the alternative energy stuff started under Nixon and Ford because of the first (1973) oil crisis? CAFE standards? 55 mph speed limit? Shocking, I know. Carter started the Department of Energy and all that, but things went off the rails for his administration in so many ways (self-inflicted and not) that he didn't really get to follow through the way he should have, and by Reagan the pressure abated and we all lost focus on it.
Fred Astaire (Finian's Rainbow): Don't forget me!
Steven Goldman: You know, I did. Francis Ford Coppola movie too, and George Lucas was an assistant. I love the score of Finian's Rainbow (E.Y. Harburgh was a great, great lyricist) but by the time they got around to making it the political/racial angle of the film was kind of awkward and they never did get a handle on it. Fred was very good in it, though except for one neat number when you realize he's the most graceful senior citizen ever, he doesn't do much moving around. His role is more of a cameo than the central part of it, and like I said the picture just doesn't work in some ways, so that's why I blanked on it... The awesome Encores series in NYC is going to do a revival of "Finian's" this year, and I aim to be there.
dianagramr (NYC): Hi Steven .... let's move the discussion back to Jeter for a moment. Do you see ANY way ANYONE in the organization pulls him aside in the near future and says "your days as a shortstop are over"?
If so, what position could he possibly play and still make his bat worthwhile?
Side question/comment: before last night, I would have voted A-Rod for a Gold Glove this year ... man has he improved.
Steven Goldman: I don't see it. I admire the man who has the guts to do it, but you know they're going to have to have the whole College of Cardinals in to approve the decision. In any case, someone has to be pushing him. There has to be an alternative, and right now that guy isn't in the organization, or if he his (um, Carmen Angelini?) he hasn't identified himself as the heir... Anyway, I don't see his bat carrying another position now. Maybe second base, but I don't know if the could hack it defensively, and the Yankees are set there, assuming Robinson Cano wakes up from his nightmare.
Beatlefan (Oakland, CA): Agree or disagree: If the White Album were cut down to a single album, it would be the greatest record ever recorded. And what stays and what goes?
Steven Goldman: The music-industry blogger Paul Bonanos and I used to have these discussions for fun back in high school, not just about the White Album, but other doubles as well. "Sandanistas" by the Clash anyone? ...I suspect that if we went through the White Album track by track right now we might try the patience of the non record-heads in the audience.
GBSimons (Loganville, GA): Any idea on the release date of BP Presents the 1980s? Will John Hughes direct? Will there be a killer soundtrack? A Molly Ringwold cameo?
Steven Goldman: Spring, 2009. Speaking of which...
Swingingbunts (NY): Jeter will have around 2800 hits in 2010. There's no way they're letting him walk away.
Steven Goldman: Understood, but what do you do with him if he's hitting and fielding the way he is now and the team isn't winning?
G-MOTA (Bumpus, MA): OK, re the 80s book: how much do you talk about the coke? Are there places it was bad that we didn't know about?
Steven Goldman: There's a chapter devoted to it (by Nate Silver), but a lot of other stuff as well, which I'll get to in a second.
Shane (Miami): Steven, Always enjoy historical analysis with comparables for yester-year and today. Historically, do you have a good 2B comparison for Dan Uggla? This guy kinda came out of nowhere and has quietly established himself as a top producing 2B, what are your thoughts?
Steven Goldman: It doesn't really encompass his current hot streak, but the historic comp I always have in mind for Uggla is Woody Held. Good power for a middle infielder, struck out a lot for his day, got a late start because no one believed in him (no one happens to equal the Yankees, sorry), not a great glove. Held never dialed it up to .330 with a .600 slugging percentage, but his era didn't lend itself to that and I'm not so sure that Uggla is going to stay up there anyway.
josher464 (NYC): Steven,
Actually, just the thought of a BP 80s book gives me the goosebumps. Can you give us any specifics?
Steven Goldman: Imagine a book that combines the best of all our book projects, the long-form chapters of Mind Game or Baseball Between the Numbers with the player by player and team commentary of the annual. That's what the BP 80s book will look like. We're going to do comments on all the key players of the decade, reminding you of why they were good (or bad) if you were there and telling you about what you missed if you didn't, aided by translated stats and special PECOTA comparables. We'll do this for every team. We'll also cover the big issues of the decade, both on and off the field. All in all, we aim to animate one of baseball's best eras, with our trademark insight, analysis, and humor... And hopefully this book will be the first of many similar excursions to the past.
doog7642 (Blaine, MN):
Just for fun...
The White Album:
Back in the USSR
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness is a Warm Gun
I'm So Tired
Don't Pass Me By
Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something To Hide
Long, Long, Long
White Album -- the Outtakes:
Wild Honey Pie
Martha My Dear
Why Don't We Do It in the Road
Cry Baby Cry
Steven Goldman: Yeah, I buy that. There's a pretty good cover of "Rocky Raccoon" by Richie Havens, probably better than the original. "Why Don't We Do It In the Road" is funny, just Paul in the studio by himself, playing every instrument, and I find it funny in its false-macho way, but it's not essential. "Sexy Sadie" would have been better with Lennon's original lyrics, which I can't reprint on a family web site. I like the atmospherics of "Cry Baby Cry," though Lennon disavowed the song for some reason. Still, good sorting, Doog.
ChuckR (Addison, Il): Sandanista was a triple, wasn't it?
Steven Goldman: Yeah. Someone fell down in the outfield.
Stephanie (DC): So long as we're discussing shortstops, do you have any thoughts on Marc Lancaster's idea for the Rays to activate Aybar, send Zobrist to the minors, and use Evan Longoria as the backup shortstop?
Steven Goldman: Without commenting specifically on Longoria's ability to do the job, I think teams worry way too much about contingencies that, in the worst case scenario, can only cost you a single game. Early in this chat someone asked why Mickey Mantle had the odd game at short. The reason was sometimes the Yankees decided to risk his messing up a play to get an extra outfield bat into the lineup during the late innings. Some managers waste a roster spot on a third catcher because dinosaurs might eat the first two, or they won't use the second catcher as a PH because the first one might have a stroke. Well, what if he does? You end up losing that day because the emergency catcher allows 42 passed balls. But that's a one-time thing. You can call up your third catcher from Triple-A before tomorrow's game. In the meantime, maybe that extra lefty pinch-hitter you're carrying in the place of the third catcher wins you a few games. I've made this same argument about the Yankees and A-Rod being Jeter's substitute. As long as they have a reserve third baseman, they don't need a reserve shortstop.
Orly (Orlando): I hope the 80s book has room for pictures/discussion of uniforms -- you can't capture the decade without the polyester pullovers and multi-colored road get-ups. Also, it would be nice for the young'ns to know what stirrups looked like.
Steven Goldman: Is that important to everyone, or just to Orly here? How important to you, as a potential buyer, are illustrations? I'd love to see a lot of responses to this, either here or at email@example.com.
Ameer (Bloomington, IN): Response to jlarsen on his Hamilton comments just now - you're obviously my age since you remember "Silk Stalkings" as the show before Monday Night Raw, so I'm surprised you would make that statement about the Hamilton story not being a feel-good one. Have you known anyone with a serious addiction? If you are my age like I suspect, I find it hard to believe that you haven't. I've experienced the other outcome for guys like that, which is basically a high school reunion at a funeral home - trust me, Hamilton's story is feel-good for as long as he keeps it together.
Steven Goldman: I don't think I need to add anything.
James Watt (Loose Screw, ID): Sheesh, I was seen as a horrifying monster back in the day, and I would have been, too, if it wasn't for those damned kids in Congress. And Anne Gorsuch, for being even more obvious in her monster costume.
Steven Goldman: Hey, I'm not forgiving everything, but I'm also not going to judge the whole team by its worst player... That might make a kind of fun YCLIU for me... A team composed of the worst players on great teams. You know, the Joe Dugan All-Stars. Would that team contend? I doubt it, even without knowing just who is on it.
Earl Weaver (Retirement): Emergency Catcher? I laugh! You can have Lenn Sakata catch, and have Tippy Martinez pick off 3 baserunners!
Steven Goldman: As Casey Stengel once said, "They say you can't do it, but sometimes it doesn't always work."
kgoldstein (DeKalb -- Corn Country): Wait a second, you want to CUT Sandanista? Are you kidding me?
Steven Goldman: I just know I'm keeping the version of "Career Opportunities" with the kid singing it.
Hokieball (DC): Wouldn't using ARod to back up Jeter just cause the opposite problem? How do you put Cap'n Jeets back out there when the pitchers performed so much better in his abscence?
Steven Goldman: 'Cause a few years have passed by for A-Rod now, and I think it likely that he's not what he used to be at the position either. This seemed particularly obvious last year when he was heavier and a little more sluggish and had trouble at third. My main point is that you can endure almost anything for a few innings or a single game... Similar idea: Davy Johnson starting Howard Johnson or Kevin Mitchell(!) at shortstop when Sid Fernandez was pitching. Sid was such an extreme flyball pitcher that there were going to be less than five grounders all day (and sometimes none). Who cared who the infielders were?
Shaun P. (Medway, MA): Illustrations in general, I can live without.
But illustrations of hideous 80s uniforms, with someone waxing poetic for the return of the Padres' puke brown and yellow, or that orange nightmare the Astros wore? Sign me up!
BTW - Frank Crosetti has got to be the starting SS for the Joe Dugan All-Stars, right?
Steven Goldman: Nah, Crosetti was actually decent at times. He had a good fielding reputation and took a lot of walks. If you want a shortstop, how about Rafael Santana, '86 Mets?
rogerlamarque (brooklyn): I know we've beat them to death, but since i can't legally acquire Beatles songs on a track basis, tell me which albums i should pony up and buy. Put them in order, 1-5.
Steven Goldman: 1. Revolver
3. Rubber Soul
4. Sgt. Pepper's
5. T: Abbey Road or Hard Day's Night
Mike K (Athens): So then, who was the Dugan of the '98 Yanks?
Steven Goldman: 1. Joe Girardi. Runner-up: Chad Curtis. And Curtis wasn't that bad. It was a GOOD team.
TGisriel (Baltimore): From what I've seen so far, I think the Orioles are fortunate that Joe Girardi truned them down for the manager's job, and that they stuck with Trembley. What do you think of Girardi in New York?
Steven Goldman: Very, very nervous. Otherwise, I'm withholding judgment.
Precarious Jim (Cologne, Germany): At what point do the Yankees punt the 2008 season and try to trade veterans for prospects and - given that scenario - who are your favorite trade candidates?
Steven Goldman: Hello, Cologne. It's a difficult question, and I say that knowing I've advocated for trades. If Giambi keeps hitting, the Yankees might actually get something for him - a no-brainer given that they're not going to pick up his option. Damon might have some value to someone soft in the outfield. With Brett Gardner playing well, you might rethink trading Melky Cabrera. None of these players are going to bring back Matt LaPorta unless someone has been drinking, but maybe you get something in the way of position players.
I like Melky, but I just don't understand his streakiness.
George W. (Alexandria, VA): I love false nostalgia for a fake time in baseball...everything about Baseball in the 80's was an attempt to make it like other sports...multi-purpose stadiums all around, awful "modern" jerseys (Astros, White Sox, etc.) Emphasis on the speed game to make it "faster" . . . bad times. Baseball was trying to be something it wasn't. Look at the attendance...Baseball in the 80's stunk.
Steven Goldman: You mean after the owners got together and decided to collude on salaries, they also colluded on offensive styles as well? You've completely misread history. Few teams emphasized speed to the exclusion of all else, principally the Cardinals, and that was only because that's how Whitey Herzog figured he could make his park work for him. Others had select players who could run and run really well, like Rickey Henderson or Eric Davis, but could also get on base and hit the ball out of the park. In many ways it was a more dynamic game, with all of those styles coming together to make a really varied offense. I would argue it was the apotheosis of all the eras that came before it, the truce between the lively ball and previous era of "inside baseball" and thus the epitome of baseball, a sampling of everything that made the game great... No defending the cookie cutter parks, but those were mostly the offspring of the 1970s and proved to be really transient.
Tim (DC): Yankee history question: how come Babe Ruth was only team captain for 5 days, May 20-25th 1922?? Then Everett Scott was named Captain for a few years.
Steven Goldman: The Babe had a really tough year, was suspended multiple times for a variety of infractions, and one of the punishments was that he was stripped of the captaincy - itself an effort to make the guy calm down and get control of himself. It clearly wasn't working. If I'm remembering the incident in question correctly (there were several), he came ran in from the outfield to argue a play at second base he wasn't even part of, ended up cursing off the umpire, then went into the stands when fans began heckling him.
strupp (Madison): Steven, Serious question: how does the team of baseball experts plan to differentiate this book from Bill James already very, very good Baseball Abstract?
Steven Goldman: Let's see... I have the second edition of the Historical Abstract right next to me. Bill devotes nine pages to the 1980s, plus assorted player comments on guys who happened to fall into his top 100 at each position, among them such insightful comments as the one on Don Mattingly ("100% ballplayer, 0% bull----.") and Jeff Bagwell ("Pass."). We will devote over 600 pages to the 1980s and its players, ALL the key players, not just the stars, and there ain't gonna be no "Pass."
Said with all respect to James and his book, both of which I admire. Our book wouldn't exist without his, and you're right to guess it will have something of the flavor of it, but we're going to surpass it in our subject area.
Jeremy (New Hampshire): Joe Boley, 1931 A's - .228/.282/.295 in 225AB (good for a 48 OPS+) on a team that went 107-45. His defense wasn't so hot either.
Steven Goldman: And here I thought we were done with the "Mock Connie Mack" portion of the program.
doog7642 (Blaine, MN): While "Let it Be" is not a top 5 album, "Let it Be...Naked" would make my top 5. Perhaps is the Beatlephile in me remembering remarks about how Spector screwed that album up, but it really was refreshing to hear the scaled-down tracks. Rocking out to "Dig a Pony" or "I've Got a Feeling" is a good time.
Steven Goldman: "Let it Be... Naked" is very good. The remastering and de-Spectorization are wonderful. Even "The Long and Winding Road" is pretty good without the fat ladies singing over it.
mattymatty (Philly, PA): A while back I asked Joe Sheehan who he'd choose between Melky Cabrera and Jacoby Ellsbury. He said Cabrera. Who would you take?
Steven Goldman: I think "awhile back" I would have given the same answer Joe did, because Melky is younger and Ellsbury seemed to have been playing over his head in the majors. All the growth potential seemed to be with the Yankees guy. It's very easy to believe that, too, when Cabrera gets going on one of his hot streaks, as he did this April. After a miserable May, I'm beginning to wonder if Cabrera will ever be consistent at his best, or it will always be this mediocre summation of his good and bad days. Also, Ellsbury has been a lot more patient than I expected he would be.
Larry Anderson (Not Boston): Jeff Bagwell...80's???
Steven Goldman: You're missing the point. We won't be "pass"-ing on anybody, not Bagwell specifically. That said, Bagwell was drafted in 1989, and Kevin Goldstein will be writing about prospects, drafting, and player development throughout the decade, so my guess is that he shows up in one of his sections, even if he won't be among the player comments.
rogerlamarque (Brooklyn): Rich Gedman was my favorite baseball player as a kid. Since I was a wee lad during his career, how do you remember him? His post '86 batting lines are too depressing for me to look at.
Steven Goldman: As part of a really awesome lineup, from Wade Boggs leading off (no stolen bases "to speed things up" in Boston) to Dwight Evans at #2, all the way down to Marty Barrett, who wasn't an impact player but could at least slap .290-worth of singles. I also remember the injuries, principally a bad thumb, pretty much finishing Gedman at 25, a tough break for both him and the franchise.
Tim (DC): Steve, seems there is alot of public perception issues with Jose Tabata. He has not hit for alot of power yet...he has battles with immaturity. All that being said...he does not turn 20 until Aug, and is in AA. Wonder if his reality will never meet the public's expectations.
Steven Goldman: I don't know what the expectation is. We know he can hit .300 at A-ball even when hurt. Now we have to see what else comes with that, if anything. AS IS he's still not anything. What's exciting is his projectability. It would be way premature to give up on him -- given his age he might not come around for another five years.
Chris (Harrisonburg, VA): Talking about hitters from the 80's, is Darrell Evans one of the most underrated baseball players ever?
Steven Goldman: An easy "yes."
TGisriel (Baltimore): Who would you rather have, Adam Jones or Jacoby Ellsbury?
Steven Goldman: Jones on youth and power--IE that superior growth potential I talked about before. If Ellsbury proves to peak as a Johnny Damon type with better on-base, defense, and baserunning abilities, there won't be a lot of difference...
Richie (Washington): The "cookie cutter parks" saved us taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Make me dictator and for the good of the country's pocketbook I decree that no other kind will be built on the public dime.
Steven Goldman: You don't need a dictatorship, just an informed and engaged electorate to punish bad decision-making.
...Have you stopped laughing yet?
Just a couple more, and then it's time for me to begin tomorrow's column for the New York Sun. It's an 8-to-8 workday for me today, not counting watching the ballgame until midnight.
Jesse (Los Angeles): I also disagree with your list of Beatles Albums.
1. Abbey Road
2. Sgt. Peppers
3. Rubber Soul
5. A Hard Day's Night
Steven Goldman: "Abbey Road" lacks the spirit of cohesion and good feeling that informs the other albums on your list. Now... Did I bring that to the album knowing what I know about the Beatles, or is it really there? I can't tell you. I think it's really there - less close harmony singing, fewer upbeat songs, John Lennon basically incapable of completing a composition, and George Harrison out-writing both Lennon and McCartney by a huge distance. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's not a Beatles album like the others.
john (LA): Beatles #1, Dylan#2 who do you have at 3,4 and 5?
Steven Goldman: You'd probably start getting into my more esoteric choices after that, though I know I have the Who and the Velvet Underground in there somewhere. I don't really think about things in heirarchies of like, though it's fun to play with lists.
kgoldstein (DeKalb -- Corn Country!): So what's the worst place imaginable to have lunch?
Steven Goldman: Applebee's. It's across the street and I was running late for this chat. First time in a couple of years I've been in there despite the "convenience" of having them nearby.
strupp (Madison): Isn't an 80s book only gonna bring back MORE nostalgia for the "beloved" 1982 Brewers? Can we please tell the people of Milwaukee that this isn't necessarily a GOOD thing, since it leads to things like Ned Yost as manager, Ted Simmons and/or Robin Yount as manager(s) in waiting, and the pleading for Paul Molitor to do anything with the club. /end vent.
Steven Goldman: I'm going to refer your question to resident Brewers aficionado Jay Jaffe, who will be handling Milwaukee duties on the book. Your question reminds me of the Washington Senators, where Clark Griffith tended to re-employ any player who used to work for him.
JB (New Jersey): Ack ... strongly suggest replacing Help! with A Hard Day's Night, or at least cut Help! and add Magical Mystery Tour as #5 (the U.S. full length album verion of course).
Steven Goldman: Can't cut Help!, sorry. As good as the songs on Magical Mystery Tour are, (I think "I Am the Walrus" would get my vote for national anthem), are we really going to promote the album with "Your Mother Should Know" on it over the one that has "Ticket to Ride?"
Glenn (NJ): Wouldn't Kenny Lofton be a better solution to the Met's LF woes in Alou's absence than what they've come up with so far?
Steven Goldman: Wrong park for that player. Still, I guess something is better than nothing. I'd like to see Evans given a little bit of a chance before they turn to yet another 2000-year-old ballpayer.
Alex (NYC): How good would Wang be with a league average infield behind him?
Steven Goldman: I think he'd still have the same periodic problems due to his tendency to start elevating his sinker in the odd inning.
Glenn (NJ): I see no point in the Mets firing Willie if they're just going to hire another "paint by numbers" manager. Any chance Davey Johnson ever manages again? He could probably still get away with employing unconventional (smart) strategies because the Mets fanbase/media would cut him more slack than most cities since he's won here before, no?
Steven Goldman: I see no point in the Mets firing Willie because John McGraw himself couldn't fix what ails the Mets. Wait until the offseason, then evaluate.
rjmoore (Boston): What are the chances that your '80s book won't physically resemble one of those old HTML reference books? Seriously, can you spring for a real cover instead of this yellow pages looking nonsense?
Steven Goldman: I... Wait: what?
Scott (Ann Arbor, MI): Sorry, I'm late in here and just catching up. Are you claiming to actually have listened to all three records of "Sandinista"?
If so, you'd be the only person to ever make it the whole way through.
Steven Goldman: I have, over several sittings. Apparently Kevin has done it more than once.
Tim (DC): Great chat Steve! Afternoon flew!
Steven Goldman: Thanks, Tim. It did for me too. And on that note...
Steven Goldman: Everyone, thank you so much for so many great questions. I can't recall the last time I had such a high volume of queries come over the transom, and about such a wide variety of topics. It always fascinates me how each of these chats takes on their own flavor. Some are as esoteric as this one, some are more buttoned-down discussions of baseball, but I enjoy all of them, and the best part is that unexpected quality that comes from our mutual shaping of the topic matter. As always, thank you so much for choosing to spend your afternoon with Baseball Prospectus and myself. I look forward to the next time. -- Spear-carrier Steve "Goldstein" Goldman out.