Tuesday, February 03, 2009

9 Days to Pitchers And Catchers -- The Yankee Years Edition

In today's Newsday, Wallace Matthews repeats the old tired comment that Derek Jeter, as Yankee captain and ultimate insider, should have A-Rod's back a little more as A-Rod gets showered with even more bad press.

Joe Torre, for those of you who have either been following football, or have real lives, has written a tell-all book about the Yankees. The master of "what you see here, stays here" is having a long senior moment. In his book, if the press clippings are to be believed, Torre discloses a lot of things that we already know.

However, by adding his voice to the choir, he is sort of like the father who says, "Yes. You're right. My son is the most ugly, most stupid, most slow child in the class. I am such a hero for even getting him dressed in the morning."

But the idea that Jeter might betray Torre and stand up for A-Rod? Please.

Here is a what-if question I never see or hear asked, let alone answered, in the hundreds and thousands of e-mails, and blogs, and websites, and magazines and conversations on tv, radio, the ballpark, everywhere.

Some questions apparently, are even uglier than the ugliest kid in class.

What if Joe Torre and the Yankees, having paid more money than God to acquire the greatest shortstop in the post-World War II era, and maybe in the history of baseball, had let that greatest shortstop actually play shortstop? Do you think the results might have been different if A-Rod played short, and Jeter moved? Think the Yankees might have won at least one more game that mattered?

A fun follow-up question for those of you too old to care about A-Rod --

What if the better outfielder, Mickey Mantle, was playing center that day in 1951, and the lesser outfielder, Joe DiMaggio was playing left? What if the Yankees had simply waited to 1952 to bring Mantle up? What sort of baseball card would Mickey Mantle have?