Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mr. September

The curtain on the Yankees season had been closed only a few moments before the members of the chattering classes began issuing scathing reviews of the revue and its various dramatis personae. The main object of their ire is, of course, the incredibly rich newcomer, Alex Rodriguez, who is learning the hard way that becoming incredibly rich in places like Texas and Seattle doesn't really rate with New Yorkers. Rave reviews were issued for their beloved dandy, Derek Jeter, who apparently can satisfy his crowd merely by making sure the Yankees lose by 2 runs instead of 3 in important games. A-Rod, on the other hand, by failing to produce in the 7th and the 9th has earned a spot in whatever sub-pantheon houses the monument to Dave Winfield.

Though these post-mortems are in the wheelhouse of sportstalk radio, like most things in New York, I can only shrug my shoulders at this whole debate. Maybe I'm being too cold and calculating here, so much so that I'm sucking the fun and life out of post-season baseball. But here's my train of thought: If it is true that the outcome of these short post-season series is essentially a crapshoot , especially with two evenly-matched teams, what are we saying about the role of an individual player in determining the outcomes? As I mentioned in number 4 of this post, it takes a while for a player's talent to actually influence the success and failure of a team, and in a short series, a player only gets a relative handful of chances to make a difference. And even the best like Ruth or Mays or Mantle -- hell, even Roy Hobbs or Syd Finch -- can run into a bad stretch of 20 or 25 at bats at a moment's notice. The post-season, it turns out, is more like the drama of Greek mythology, where mortals are subject to the fits and whims of the gods, and to think otherwise, no matter how many ultimately meaningless homers Derek Jeter hits, is true folly.


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