DRIVES with DAVE Podcast #35: Hey MLB, Wake Up!!

Listen, I love baseball as much as the next guy or gal, but that doesn’t mean Major League Baseball is perfect and should never ever change.

Baseball has, and needs to continue to change with the times.

However, MLB continues to make all of the WRONG CHANGES!!

Today, I break down the DUMBEST rule change in the history of sports…

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Who Ya Gonna Call?? No, not Johnny Damon. Call the Ghostbusters.

Something big is happening in New York.  It’s not what you’d expect, and personally I’m terrified.  New York used to be the example of greatness.  We used to be the place that all others tried to model themselves after, but now we are the example of mediocrity.  Don’t believe me?  Okay, I’ll prove it.  The Islanders are one of the worst hockey teams in the world, the Jets are well the Jets (enough said), the Knicks are having a nice year, but they’re not winning any titles, and the Yankees are not the Yankees of the ’90’s anymore.  As sad as this is to say (I love the Yankees), the Yankees are not that good.  When Johnny Damon is the answer to your prayers, you know you’re in trouble.  For those of you who don’t know, Curtis Granderson broke his arm yesterday, causing mass hysteria here in New York.  Some of the media outlets here are suggesting that the Yankees sign free agent Johnny Damon to help fill the void.  A thought like that makes me wonder what really goes through peoples minds.  Do people enjoy living in the past?  Do they really think that veteran’s will bring intangibles to the team that the youngsters can’t?  Who in their right mind would think that the Yankees resigning Johnny Damon would be a good idea?  Everyone wants to talk about how old the Knicks are, but those same people obviously haven’t taken the time to look at the Yankees roster.  Let me run down the list of some of their ancient artifacts.  The Yankees have a 37 year old A-Rod who is probably not going to play this year or ever again, a 38 year old Derek Jeter who is recovering from a broken ankle, a 38 year old Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, a 39 year old Ichiro, a 40 year old Andy Pettite, and a 43 year old Mariano Rivera coming off major surgery.  Mark Teixeira (32) and Kevin Youkilis (33) are no spring chickens either.  With all the talk surrounding Robinson Cano’s contract negotiations (which are a year away), and Granderson going down, the Yankees season is already in disarray and it hasn’t even started.  Man, I’m really glad Steinbrenner made all of those off-season acquisitions this year.  Oh, yeah that’s right, they didn’t make any moves whatsoever.  Good idea Hal.  Quick side note: I’ve always said that the death of George Steinbrenner was the worst thing to ever happen to this franchise.  Clearly not everything runs in the family, because his kids have no clue how to run the most successful sports franchise in the world.  Anyway, with an aging roster and below average pitching staff, you’d think that the Yankees would have made a flurry of big moves to bring in some young talent during the off-season.  Instead, they let Russell Martin walk leaving the Yankees with literally no catcher.  They let Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez walk as well.  They also decided not to negotiate with Rafael Soriano due to the devil’s (I mean Scott Boras’) demands.  Hey Hal, do you know why the Yankees won 4 World Series in 5 years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s?  I didn’t think so.  It’s because you had a transition from a great closer (John Wetteland) to another GREAT closer (Mariano Rivera).  As much as I love Big Mo this is clearly going to be his last season, and great closers don’t exactly grow on trees.  But hey, I guess little Steinbrenner wants us to be excited about the signing of Travis Hafner.  Newsflash, the long ball doesn’t win Championships by itself (Exhibit A: last season)!!  Without any substantial additions to the Yankees roster as it is presently constructed, they will finish in 3rd place in the American League East and MISS the playoffs.  They need a pleasant surprise from someone already on the roster, a big trade, or they need find some talent from their Farm system to compete this year.  Otherwise, I think they are in big trouble.  Nobody loves the Yankees more than me, I am just calling it like I see it.

As for the Granderson situation, I have a solution that they should have been trying for about two years now.  Move Eduardo Nunez to the outfield.  Nunez has blazing speed but has not proven to be a consistent enough fielder at shortstop.  He makes far too many errors from one of the most important positions on the field.  If you keep Brett Gardner and Nunez in the order at the same time you will put speed on the base paths and be able to play small ball (a recipe for success that I’ve been begging for for years now).  And hey, if it doesn’t work you can always slide Nunez right back into his utility role.  It’s not like he’s ever had a set position and you would somehow be disrupting his rhythm by moving him to the outfield.

With Spring Training upon us, we are entering the best time of the year.  March Madness is on it’s way as is beautiful Spring weather.  Undoubtedly, the best part of the year is the start of Baseball season.  Stay tuned for my full preview of the Major League Baseball season including division winners, playoff and world series predictions, and player projections.

Why can’t we all be a little more like Derek Jeter?

There are plenty of players throughout the years that have “slipped up” in front of the media. These comments and one liners are usually spoken out of true emotion. The latest blunder was made by New York Yankees newest acquisition Kevin Youkilis. It is still tough for me personally, as a lifetime Yankees fan, to imagine Youkilis in Yankee Pinstripes. Well, unfortunately that imagination will become a reality this April. Upon his arrival to spring training, Youkilis made it very clear where his heart still lies. Youkilis said, “I’ll always be a Red Sock.” My initial reaction was woahhh buddy what are you saying, but when I took the time to think about it, I realized that no one ever confused Youkilis with a rocket scientist. Listen Kevin(I’m not calling you Yoouuukkk), in reality you might feel that way in your heart, but you’ve been in the league long enough to know how this works. You need to talk to writers, reporters, and fans as if you are a politician. You need to answer questions without really saying anything. Reporters and fans alike love guys who are honest and speak the truth. It’s like giving them free ammunition for an empty gun. However, it usually ends poorly when a player says what’s really on his mind. Now, I know it’s a catch twenty-two when it comes to talking to the media, but Kevin needs to be smarter.

Every athlete in the world, not just baseball players, should take lessons from Derek Jeter. Think about it, have you ever heard Derek Jeter say something out of bounds? Has Mr. November ever been in hot water over a controversial comment? The answer is an emphatic NO. The other day, I heard a fan call-in to a radio show and suggest that Derek Jeter would have said the same exact thing if he signed with the Boston Red Sox. The host of the show quickly interjected and needless to say that was the end of that phone call. People like that anger me so much that I actually had to pull over to the side of the road while I was driving. Derek Jeter will NEVER wear any other uniform besides a Yankees uniform. For argument’s sake though, let’s just say that he got traded to or signed with the Red Sox. That doesn’t mean he is all of a sudden going to start talking out of his rear end. Everyone knows Derek Jeter is a Yankee for life, that goes without saying. But if somehow he found himself wearing the enemy’s colors, he wouldn’t be so brainless as to say that in his heart he’ll always bleed Yankees blue and white. He’s too smart. He’s too savvy. We should all take lessons from Derek. Another thing I love about Derek Jeter is his loyalty to his team. It is rare to see a ball player stay with the same team throughout their entire career. I think baseball needs more of that. Baseball needs more of the Barry Larkin’s, the Craig Biggio’s, and the Cal Ripken Jr’s. Free agency and the growth of players’ salaries has caused players to chase money rather than stay loyal to the team that drafted them. It’s really a shame that baseball is strictly a business, but it makes you appreciate the Derek Jeter’s and Mariano Rivera’s of the world even more. Now, in Youkilis’ situation he was traded and then signed with a team that had a need for him. It’s not like he chose to leave Boston to sign with the Yankees(only Johnny Damon was smart enough to do that). Youkilis is still not off the hook for putting his foot in his mouth, but at least we know he’s not a traitor. From a strictly baseball perspective Youkilis fills a need for the Yankees. With Alex Rodriguez caught up in whatever it is he’s caught up in and his injury, Youkilis should serve the Yankees well at 3rd base. His offensive production has slipped since the end of the 2010 season, but we all saw what a change of scenery did for him last season. I think he’ll give it his all out there on the diamond, but I’m still not calling him Yoouuukkk.