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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rob Neyer calls Carl Pavano and Brian Cashman "heroes"

If I didn't know better, I would think ESPN's Rob Neyer's article entitled "Yankees and Pavano just too many heroes" was a parody. But unfortunately, it appears to be for real. In the piece, Neyer calls Brian Cashman a hero for trying to re-sign Carl Pavano, and Pavano a hero for still playng baseball. Yes, really.

Neyer writes:
If I were 8 years old and my heroes were baseball executives rather than baseball players, I would have a Brian Cashman Fathead on my bedroom wall. Cashman was heroic in defending Pavano during his time with the Yankees, and he's heroic for considering bringing Pavano aboard once again. Many general managers, and perhaps most of them, would not have done either thing.
Oh, please. Neyer still sounds like he's still eight years old here, given how naive he sounds. Put down your pom-poms, Rob.

There's absolutely nothing "heroic" about a GM who so apparently so wants to prove that Pavano wasn't the worst free agent the Yankees ever signed that he's willing to sign him again. That's not heroism; that's literally the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We saw this last year, when Cashman tried to convince us that bringing back Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson would be good moves. And how did those work out, exactly? Not so well. Don't see anything the least bit heroic in Cashman not learning from his mistakes.

Neyer continues in this ridiculous vein:
There's something heroic about Pavano, too, isn't there? Pavano was a Yankee for four years, and pitched the grand total of 146 innings. You might have excused him for getting discouraged, even giving up. Maybe he did give up once or twice, and maybe he wasn't as tough as he might have been. Those fans and writers and radio hosts and even teammates probably thought so.

But he didn't give up, ultimately. He finally did get healthy, and just finished pitching 420 innings in two years. In a playoff game against the Yankees in 2009, he pitched seven fine innings and struck out nine Yankees. Can't handle the pressure? Really?
Maybe it's just me, but I define heroes as people who risk their physical well-being for the sake of others. Like firemen who run into burning buildings. Or like my late father, who jumped out of airplanes during World War II (but as my father, fellow World War II veteran Bob Feller, and others of their ilk would say when called a hero, their own definition of heroes were the soldiers who didn't come back, not themselves.) Or the civil rights activists who literally risked their lives so that African-Americans could be treated equally in this country. You can also argue that those who sacrifice monetarily, or in some other way, for others, are heroes.

You can also make the case that a ballplayer who risks his own future health for his team is a hero. Like Derek Jeter bloodying his face flying into the stands. Or Curt Schilling playing on a torn-up ankle with tendons held together by sutures. The key word here is "sacrifice."

See where I'm going here? None of these people really have much in common with Carl Pavano. Cashman -- and for that matter, Neyer -- seem to forget that Pavano so abused his time on the disabled list, with the bruised buttocks, and every other ailment known to man, that he literally spent more time on the DL without surgery than any other player before or since. American Idle was like the little boy who cried wolf; when his doctor said he needed Tommy John surgery, Cashman demanded that Carl get a second, a third, and then a fourth opinion on whether the surgery was necessary before letting him go under the knife.

Unless you think essentially stealing nearly $40 million for the Yankees is the very definition of heroism (and if you're a Yankee-hater, maybe you do!), Carl Pavano is not a hero.

Yeah, Pavano pitched well against the Yankees in the 2009 playoffs (not so well in 2010, something Neyer neglects to mention.) And he's been an Iron Man for the last two years with Cleveland and Minnesota. That's all well and good, and shows that he can still pitch. But it doesn't make him a hero, either.

Neyer concludes his piece by opining:

Two years ago, Carl Pavano was supposedly a shining example of one thing. Today, he's a shining example of another. I was actually sort of hoping that he'd pitch for the Yankees again, just because it would have been a fantastic story. With two heroes.
And Neyer is a "shining example" of a writer with a very warped perception of what truly makes a "hero."

What do you think? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

Uncle Mike said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Rob Neyer a Met fan? If he wants to put up a "Fathead" of Brian Cashman, would he also want to do that for Omar Minaya? Or would that be redundant?

If Cashman is that determined to prove his decision was not a mistake, then I think it's a very good thing he's not the President.