Tagged: Tom Verducci
Day 4 of “Operation Jeter Countdown”
Today was sort of interesting with regard to Operation Jeter Countdown. First, I read in the Post that Casey Close and his client were hanging out in Miami to ponder their response to the Yankees’ offer and that Jeter looked like he didn’t have a care in the world.
Later, I read Tom Verducci’s piece on SI.com and thought it was the best summary yet of how the Yankees should be viewing these negotiations. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Even if you did see it, I still have to highlight the points that jumped out at me.
What do you do about a 36-year-old beloved franchise icon with fading defensive skills but enormous brand value? Why, of course, you give him a 15 percent raise to make sure the team benefits from his legacy. That’s exactly what the Baltimore Orioles did for Cal Ripken Jr. on Opening Day 1997, a sort of global view of the player that stands in stark contrast to how the Yankees are valuing Derek Jeter at the same age.
The key to his opening paragraph? CAL RIPKEN JR.
Verducci continues to make the comparison.
When rewarded, Ripken still was a year away from free agency and entering the final year of a five-year contract for $32.5 million, once the richest total deal in baseball history that included post-career compensation ($2 million for four years) and special hotel, parking, security and merchandise arrangements.
Did you catch that? The Orioles gave Ripken post-career compensation. And that wasn’t all.
The Orioles adhered to the same perspective in 1997 — not even letting the face of their franchise get to free agency. They gave Ripken a raise from $6.5 million per year to $7.55 million per year in what was a two-year extension with an option. Not only was the option picked up at $6.3 million, the Orioles also brought him back at age 40 and with a bad back and coming off a .256 season again without a pay cut, giving him another $6.3 million.
The point is, Derek Jeter, like Cal Ripken, isn’t your average ballplayer (or even your average superstar ballplayer) and shouldn’t be measured by his stats alone.
Putting a number on iconic value — especially when introducing a pay cut — is at the heart of the Yankees’ negotiating troubles with Jeter. To compare Jeter in a one-year statistical vacuum to shortstops such as Marco Scutaro is foolish. Jeter is the most marketable player in baseball, has the sport’s highest Q rating, a measurement of not just popularity but also appeal to fans, has accumulated 16 years of tremendous goodwill for the Yankees and is their modern link in the chain of Yankee Hall of Fame everyday players who never wore another uniform, from Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle.
Does everyone remember the ad campaign for Blackglama furs? I know, mink coats aren’t politically correct anymore. But the campaign featured legendary women in their minks – from Judy Garland to Janet Jackson.
Where am I going with this? If Derek Jeter were a woman, he’d be in one of those ads. He’s a legend, and legends don’t come along every day. Tonight’s Jeter video doesn’t have Jeter in it. Its star is Cal Ripken, since he inspired Verducci’s spot-on article.
Doesn’t Ripken remind you of Jeter? No flash. All substance. A legend, in other words.
Good News/Bad News Sunday
The Good News was the return of Andy. If I could have hugged him, I would have.
He not only pitched well but went six innings. Now there are no more “What’ll we do without Pettitte” thoughts setting off panic in my brain. The Bad News was the Yankees’ inability to score with men on base – not with a man on third and nobody out, not with bases loaded, not with an opposing pitcher who had a tendency to walk batters. What happened to the sac fly? Is it not in this team’s arsenal? If I sound grumpy it’s because I was seriously frustrated by this game.
Then more Bad News: a blown save by Mo. Cue the people who will start saying, “He’s not the same. He’s done. He should retire.” Please. I don’t want to hear it. As a matter of fact, I’m mad at Mike Mussina right now. Yeah, Mussina. I finally caved in and bought the paperback of Joe Torre/Tom Verducci’s “The Yankee Years” for my flight home from the east coast. I was reading it last night when I came upon Moose’s quotes after the ’04 loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Here’s what he had to say about Mo:
“We were up 3-0 and Mo came in again with the lead and lost it. He lost it again. As great as he is, and it’s amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation again since I got here, he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before. He blew the World Series in ’01. He lost the Boston series….I know you look at everything he’s done and it’s been awesome, I’ll admit that. But it hasn’t been the same.”
Excuse me? Mo has accomplished nothing? He lost the Boston series – like all by himself? I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about Mike Mussina again. Even if he had those thoughts, how could he make them public and trash his teammate – the same teammate who’s been picking up starting pitchers for years? I don’t get it.
Sorry for the digression. Anyhow, the Yankees lost today, but the Good News is they won the series and, with loses by Tampa and Minny, don’t give up ground.
Speaking of Joe Torre, I read that he and Mattingly are coming to the Stadium Monday night for the unveiling of Steinbrenner’s monument in Monument Park. I know Donnie will get a huge ovation and I hope Torre will too. He deserves it. I’m having trouble with what he says in his book about his players, but there’s no getting around the championship years and his relationships with the Core Four. It’s Good News that the big chill appears to be over between him and the organization.
And finally, I went to see “The Town” today, the new movie directed by and starring Red Sox super-fan Ben Affleck. (Yes, there’s stuff at Fenway.) I absolutely loved it. This is a heist film that goes beyond the car chases and shoot ’em ups. It’s great entertainment and I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer.
Apparently, MLB wasn’t wild about letting Affleck shoot his scenes at Fenway, given the R-rated material. But here’s what the New York Times said on the subject:
For the finale, the production spent 11 days in and around Fenway Park, but only after Major League Baseball was cajoled into putting aside its usual reluctance to cooperate with a film that is rated R, this time for violence, language, sexuality and drug use.
Good for MLB and Good News for movie lovers. Go see this one.
It’s War! My Book Vs. Joe Torre’s!
As fate would have it, my book comes out on the very same day as Torre’s: February 3rd. His may be grabbing all the headlines. His may convey the gravitas befitting a Hall of Fame manager. His may have a #24 ranking on his Pre-Order page on Amazon (mine is #100,368). But hear this, people. In the words of Dylan Thomas, “I will not go gentle into the good night!”
Instead, I will draw bold distinctions between Torre’s book and mine, and we’ll just see who wins the Battle of the Books.
#1) Joe Torre’s book was written by Tom Verducci. My book was written by me.
Wouldn’t you rather read a book by an author who didn’t need to hire someone to tell her story?
#2) Torre’s book says Brian Cashman was mean to him. My book says Jean Afterman, Cashman’s assistant GM, was mean to me.
O.K., that one goes to Torre, because Cashman is higher up on the corporate ladder than Afterman. But the Yankees’ media relations director, Jason Zillo, was also mean to me, so that gives me the advantage in terms of being dissed. Do I hold a grudge against Zillo the way Torre is apparently holding a grudge against Cashman? No. In fact, in an effort to reach across the divide, I sent Zillo an advance copy of my book and thanked him for playing the villain of the story. I took the high road, in other words, unlike the former Yankees manager.
#3) Torre’s book reveals that A-Rod asked a clubhouse attendant to do personal favors for him. My book reveals that I asked a clubhouse attendant to do personal favors for me.
Well, he wasn’t a clubhouse attendant; he was an usher. Still, he did bring me a piece of paper so I could write down my phone number for the Yankee who wanted to ask me out when I was in high school. My anecdote is a first-hand account, while Torre’s is from the point of view of a mere bystander. No contest.
#4) Torre’s book claims that the players called A-Rod “A-Fraud.” My book refrains from name calling except when I was confronted by hostile Red Sox fans.
There was no reason for a man of Torre’s upstanding reputation to drop an A-Bomb on A-Rod. It makes him look small, petty. The only person I really, truly disparage in my book is me.
#5) Torre’s book is about A-Rod’s “single white woman’s obsession” with Jeter. My book is about a “married white woman’s obsession” with the Yankees.
What does Joe’s remark even mean? That single white women are jealous and catty and somehow crazier than other women? Does he not have a clue that women make up 50% of baseball fans? My book isn’t the literary read of the century, but it doesn’t offend the hand that feeds it.
#6) Torre’s book is an inside story by an insider. My book is an inside story by an outsider.
What I’m trying to say is that Torre sat in the dugout day after day. I sat in the nosebleed section 95% of the time, which gave me a much broader perspective on the game. What does a manager know, anyway? It’s the fans that drive the engine. Derek Jeter said so in his speech at the Yankee Stadium finale.
#7) Torre’s book is deadly serious. My book has jokes.
In these bleak economic times, don’t we need to laugh? Even my husband thinks my book is funny, and most of the jokes are at his expense.
#8) Torre’s book will be promoted on publication day with an appearance on “Letterman.” My book will be promoted on publication day with an appearance at my dentist for a possible root canal.
If nothing else, people should choose my book over Torre’s for the sympathy vote alone.
#9) Torre’s book retails for $26.95 on Amazon. My book goes for $24.95 – a $2 savings!
See #6 about the bleak economic times. Enough said.
#10) Torre’s book is already being touted as a nationwide bestseller. My book was hailed as a bestseller months ago by Jimmy Curran of Baseball, The Yankees and Life.
Since Jimmy knows what he’s talking about, I think I’m in good shape.