Sometimes I think the sports world needs characters like Gene Shalit. Perhaps just a anecdotal distraction from the rising ticket prices, off season doldrums, or whatever. I don't know what I'm talking about. I just know that whatever Gene does, I don't pay any attention to the point or reviews, I'm just fixated on that silly bow tie, the mustache and his outdated hair do.
Okay enough of going off the deep end and back to the topic.
The 2010 New York Yankees, as usual, had an awesome line up and pitching rotation that remained competitive in the MLB, even though some say sports (in this case baseball) is a young man's game.
Not according to the Yankees roster.
In the middle of the Yankees' roster you have a few exceptions.
For example, Derek Jeter the 36-year-old shortstop's accolades include five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, 11 All-Star Selections and former Rookie of the Year...The list goes on.
Jeter's numbers really aren't decreasing yet offensively. He has only hit 20 or more home runs twice, and his totals are hovering in the double digits under that, he is still producing RBI's, and he's still a hit machine compared to the average MLB short stop that is regarded for their defense before bat production.
The only alarming thing is a rising strike-out rate.
I don't know where the writers get their information from, but looking at his stats, his offensive numbers are hovering about the same, it's the defensive side of the numbers that are getting a little scary to think about. His range and zone rating are on the decline, but his WAR is still positive.
How does he do it?
If you want to debunk my numbers, you can see for yourself at FanGraphs. Great site.
What I really find amusing is the St. Louis crowd was down on the Theriot signing because of his defense. Compare the numbers, and defensively I would rather have Theriot. Check their message boards, and you will notice fans all over rooting for the Cardinals would dream of having Jeter.
Ironic isn't it?
The man is an athlete and loves to play the game. He still has a bat, and his leadership of the franchise is worth $50 million big ones.
Was it worth it?
We'll see next season.
Enter Alex Rodriguez: 35 years young, I have to admit the coverage whenever A-Rod was at the plate for the potential milestone 500 home runs was a bit annoying. However I am glad I got to witness it. That's one event that is talked about much like the older crowd talking about Hank Aaron's 600 HR milestone. It's one of those "Where were you" moments.
Anyways, A-Rod somehow, someway was pried away from Seattle and Texas once upon a time. Sometimes as an outsider looking in, you have to shake your head. His awards include 13 All Star selections, 10 Silver Sluggers, three MVP's... Again the list goes on and on and on.
Last year he hit 30 home runs, increased his RBI total by 25, and his strike out totals went down. Defensively, his range has gotten a little off, but his zone rating improved from the previous season (it comes with age).
Again, this is a guy you want in your lineup with a positive WAR.
How do they do it?
I played amateur baseball last year in St. Louis and I am 29 going on 30. Sometimes wishing I hadn't played some of those games.
If I do say so myself, I was a pretty darn good 3B, hardly the caliber of my high school and junior college days, but with practice I was making a comeback. My bat was soft, however.
Anyway, enough about me. Moving on.
Mariano Rivera. 41 years old. Yes you read that correctly. A 41 year old closer. 11-time All Star selection, former World Series MVP, all-time leader in postseason saves, second place in regular season saves.
Last year he posted 33 saves, 1.80 ERA, 45Ks 11BBI's, with 60 innings pitched. He took his team to the 2010 ALCS. At 41 years old. All I have to describe that with, is talent. Sheer love of the game and a God given gift that only a small population can say they have.
Rivera still pitches a low to mid-90's cut fastball as his finisher, and did I mention he was 41? You can bet the farm that he is a sure-fire lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The New York Yankees still boast a lot of youth in guys like Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Phil Hughes and soon-to-be losing his youth C.C. Sabathia at 30.
It sure is amazing watching some of these guys play as long as their bodies can hold up.
How long will that be? Time can only tell. Sooner or later we will usher in a new era at New Yankee Stadium, whether they buy it or farm it.
I have always detested the success of the Yankees' franchises due to their revenue wealth and gigantic fan base. That does not mean, however, that I don't respect it.
I respect their commitment to winning, their ownership's promise to be championship caliber and dedication to the game. They just seem to either draft or sign the pieces that fit the organization, and give the team the best chance to win year in and year out.
In the next five years, it's safe to say that with a few of these examples being over 40 years of age, sooner or later their bodies will have had enough. We will see a new team, and a new degree of success. I just have to admit that I, as well as others, are in awe of the abilities of some of these human beings.
Happy Holidays all, and don't forget Spring Training is right around the corner for the 2011 season.