Saturday, September 24, 2011

The AL East, Mariano Rivera, the Red Sox, And What's Going on in Yankeeland

I have been very busy with real-life work projects -- so busy that I haven't had the time to squawk in ages. So here are a potpourri of my thoughts on what has been going on in Yankeeland:

* Mariano Rivera making history with his 602nd save: It was a great moment to see the greatest closer make history. What happened afterwards, not so great. Literally seconds after Mo set the record, I got an email from a certain sports memorabilia company congratulating Mo on setting the record, and pushing all sorts of commemorative products, including that valuable Yankee Stadium dirt. And the very first commercial after the game ended was for that company, pushing more product.

Then, I was horrified to see in the postgame presser that Mariano was wearing a cap and shirt featuring a logo of himself on it, commemorating the occasion. Say it ain't so, Mo! It was bad enough to see Jeter have his own logo after getting his 3000th hit, but to see Rivera promoting himself was even more of a spectacle.

Heaven forbid we just enjoy the moment, without having to see it so commercialized. I feel like Charlie Brown complaining about the commercialization of Christmas or something, but good grief. Could the powers that be wait a week or two before exploiting Mo's achievement with $199 "hand-signed" autographed baseballs (um, isn't that what authentic autographed baseballs are supposed to be? Hand-signed?) And don't forget the free "Dirt Crystal Paperweight" included. Oy. There's also a $799 signed jersey available, with a commemorative patch featuring Mo's achievement. This huckersterism and tackiness all seems so incongruous to the quiet, low-key way Rivera has conducted his career. I get that some people want to buy this stuff, but pushing it so strongly, right after the event, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I don't mind it as much when players get caps and shirts for winning the division, like the Yankees did when they got the playoff gear stuff when they won the AL East the other night. It's a team achievement, not a promotion of an individual. But these individual player logos rub me the wrong way. Not to mention the incessant promotion of the autographs and other memorabilia. And please, Chris Parmalee, do not sign any merchandise about how you were involved in getting "MR602," the way David Price embarrassed himself with his "I gave up DJ3K" autographs.

* I am very glad the Yankees won the AL East (it ticked me off the way last year ended, and they staggered into the postseason with only the Wild Card.) And I want to see the Yankees sweep the Red Sox this weekend (and A.J. Burnett has to be thankful for the existence of John Lackey, as he makes A.J. look like the reincarnation of Cy Young.) I've also been greatly enjoying Boston's September swoon. But I am not going to join in with the "I'd rather see the Yankees face this team than that team in the playoffs" crowd. The last time I did that, with the 2006 Detroit Tigers, the Yankees got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by those Tigers. I'm not taking a chance of jinxing things ever again.

And keep in mind that how a team does in September has zero to do with how well they will do in October.  No matter how bad the Sox look now, as long as they can make the postseason, they have just as much chance as anybody to win the World Series. (I feel ill writing that, but unfortunately, it's true!)

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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