Peter Hyatt - A Tale of Two Sluggers from Phil Mushnick


Phil Mushnick did a terrific job summarizing the difference between two sluggers, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Yoenis Cespdes of the New York Mets. 

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I've added to his article with bold italic type.  Click on Phil's name to link to the NY Post article directly.  

Aaron Judge: when rare is well done

Aaron Judge: when rare is well done
How to explain Aaron Judge?
How is it that we’re wild about him although he’s an honor student recently graduated from the “old school” — even if he was born after they knocked it down?
Or is that, in addition to hitting home runs, why we’re wild about him?
Having been compromised by TV and marketing plans that sell bad-is-cool, immodest bat-flipping sluggers, mean-mugging stare-down artists and end-zone twerk-dancers, perhaps we’ve become frightened to publicly admit that we’d much prefer young stars to be more Aaron Judge, less Odell Beckham Jr.

Other than HRs, what’s worth enjoying about Judge? Try these: We love the way he plays the game, respects the game, treats the game. We love the way he plays hard, runs hard, catches with both hands. We love his polite, warm engagement of fans.

We love his unapologetic humility and dignity, the kind sacrificed years ago to what ESPN and Nike determined, to our sustaining detriment, to be the bad-dude standard for attention and adulation. Judge betrays that lie.

Yes? No?

Where are those media who bash and ridicule “purists” and “traditionalists” for living life in the past lane — grumpy old men stewing in their obsolete juices — on Judge? Why haven’t they condemned Judge for playing humble, old-fangled, winning baseball? How has Judge been able to return us to a place he has never been?

Or is it that the new-age hip — aka, panderers — love what they see from Judge, too? Might they be closeted traditionalists who for years were afraid to risk the wrath of fools?

Where is ESPN’s smack-mouthed Dan Le Batard, who trashed those who prefer baseball to be played “the right way” — run hard to first, no all-about-me displays — as code for playing the game “the white way”? Where is his attack on Judge?

Friday in Seattle, after Judge hit a home run that threatened to ripple Puget Sound, YES’s David Cone noticed what we noticed: Judge allowed himself the briefest glance toward the ball before running — yes, running — toward first. Cone loves the way Judge plays the game.
But in the same telecast, Cone said ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, as he was shown in the Mariners’ dugout, eventually will “punch his ticket” to Cooperstown.
Sure, why not? A guy who has spent his career minimizing his teams’ chances to win by not bothering to do the least he could do — run to first base — is today Grade A Hall of Fame material. Oops, there goes my grumpy old traditionalist side. Gotta learn to control that.

Here, Mr. Mushnick sounds very much like the exasperated Keith Hernandez. 

Mex is simply unable to accept the new arrogance of lack of effort in baseball today.  

Ron Darling is at his best when Keith is in the booth; otherwise, Darling sometimes sounds like he is auditioning  for ESPN. 

Also, Friday, came the revelation that Yoenis Cespedes, a one-trick pony despite the pony’s recidivist ailments and indifference to performing — he was “rested,” Sunday, until flying out as a ninth-inning, “high-leverage” pinch hitter — said he’d like to one day return to play for the A’s, the first of three teams to which he became expendable as a player who hits home runs but otherwise doesn’t give a rat’s retina.

I've never seen a baseball player show moments of less effort than Yoenis Cespedes. Offensive and Defensive, he hustles only when he so chooses just as he chose his own ego driven leg press workout in the off season.  

When these moments are placed in context of his tremendous talent and $110 million dollar contract, the outrage only increases. 

In a day game against the Cardinals, he even caused a delay in the game as he was, inning after inning, the last player to reach his position and the last player to reach the dugout.  At one point, he stopped to chat with some Cardinals, and then restarted his entitlement shuffle.  I thought that the ump was going to warn Collins.  

Collins is hamstrung by management.  He cannot submit his line up card until he hears from "El Hombre."  At age 68, Collins' statements show he is growing weary of the onerous task of lying and covering for the brooding narcissist.  

Keith Hernandez praises Cespedes' base running and he is correct; this guy moves well and cuts the corners perfectly.  Of late, Keith has upped the level of complaint adding, "when he decides to go for it..." or something along these lines. 

We have the best baseball announcers.  Keith's "grumpiness" is perfect for what ails us. 

He is a baseball fan at heart that cannot bear the disrespect of the game by loafers.  

But as dating website ads promise, there’s someone for everyone. Cespedes, who’d already proven to the Mets — as he had to the A’s, Tigers and Red Sox — that he’s often not in the mood to play baseball— he’s accomplished at turning doubles into singles — re-signed for $110 million over four years.

And Friday he pledged allegiance to the A’s.

Perhaps Cespedes has forgotten that he played for four teams in five years.  

Actually, losing $110 million is not the only issue. 

When Cespedes, before he re-signed with the Mets, was found to have played golf while on the disabled list, GM Sandy Alderson excused him while conceding that made for “a bad optic.” That’s how traditionalists say, “It looks bad,” likely because it is bad.
This bad optic? Given the Mets are paying a part-time, indolent outfielder $110 million, Mets ownership has again been suckered (see: Madoff, Bernie) out of a fortune.

On the other hand, what at first seemed an act that invited cynical suspicion — as if Aaron Judge is Eddie Haskell in pinstripes — remains stuck in genuine.

The 2017 Mets have had to deal with Cespedes' influence upon other players, including the already self indulging Matt Harvey.  By making his own rules, "El Hombre" has some apt pupils, including Noah Syndergaard .

"Cespeditis", the disease of conceit, spreads.  

In 2015, he broke an unwritten rule when he threw a rookie under the bus, blaming young Michael Conforto for his own misplayed ball. 

Cespedes comes and goes as he pleases and when the Mets' GM finally had enough, he went public with a statement in an attempt to get some value out of his investment:  going as far as telling the public that "no substantial injury" could be found with Cespedes' leg, "not even swelling."

When the Mets wanted x number of A games from Cespedes, Cespedes refused.  

When the Mets wanted x number of at bats, Cespedes refused. 

When he did come back, the home run ball shut the Mets up nicely.  

Now that he is approaching 100 at bats without a home run, his running of his mouth, much more than his lack of hustle, has not only irked management, but it has further divided the club house. 

Even buddy Jose Reyes had to distance himself from Cespedes.  Cespedes' main supporter is Astrubel Cabrera, of whom the same mouthy insult came when he demanded a trade because his employer did not share their minor league player development plans with him. 

Who does Cabrera think he is?


Mushnick concludes:  

So it now seems OK — not as politically incorrect or as pop-culturally risky as it first seemed — to admit that we like the way Aaron Judge plays, treats and respects baseball. We can admire him without even fractional compromise of the dormant and/or antiquated senses of right-from-wrong and good from bad.
As good and bad optics go, Aaron Judge is still not an optical illusion.

The Yankees have their Aaron Judge; a good kid, a good team mate and a good example for boys growing up. 

The Mets have Michael Conforto, with a major difference being that the Yankees are willing to develop young talent, while the lame duck combination of Alderson/Collins conspires to play aging contracts over talent. 

Had it not been for injury, the Mets lone All Star might be batting .400...

in AAA.

Terry Collins was "surprised" at Conforto's success.

No one else was, either in the fan base, nor in Major League baseball.

He was voted onto the All Star team...

by his peers.

None of them appeared surprised. 

The 2018 Mets could be a better, overall, team, without Yoenis Cespedes. 

See if Oakland is willing to take him back. 

It is not likely, even if we eat a good portion of his salary.  Oakland As were not enamored with him, as he seems to think, nor do current players respect a man who stabs his own manager in the back.  

Benedict Arnold did not receive the acclaim and respect he thought he would by the British.  

Cespedes should not expect much difference.

This contract is going to get more and more weighted as time progresses.  

Those who believed he was a year older than claimed may have a silent "I told you so" in a new form come 2019 when some say,

"We warned Alderson, but he was under pressure from the New York Media.  We warned him about the need for a psych eval.  We told him what Boston said. ..."

I'd like to see what an outfield of 

Conforto in Left

Bruce in Right and 

the possibility of Brandon Nimmo and/or Juan Legares in Centerfield, in 2018 might produce.  


Thomas Brennan said...

Kevin Long has apparently convinced him that he needs to train normally in the future. Cespedes has said he now agrees and plans to not do Barwis-type training any longer. barwis should be fired as soon as possible - his baseball experiment has failed.

He has the raw power and speed to still be really good - but to do that, you have to 1) play 150 + games a year and 2) be healthy to not feel inhibited from overdoing things for fear of getting reinjured. As such, hopefully his hustle will increase.

I have a very strong feeling Cespedes will still be here, and healthier, next year. Maybe we'll see that Hall of Fame caliber season next year. I sure hope so.

If he stays healthy, he could still end up with 25 homers, 75 RBIs, and .300 this year. We shall see how it goes.

I'd rather see if he can drive the bus (and stir the drink) and not end up getting thrown under the bus by his own fault.

Hobie said...

Speaking of a one-trick pony. How about reprinting a Cespedes bashing article with your own sucker punches inserted in italics? Is there some Pulitzer category for chop-blocking an engaged player?

Now, I love Aaron Judge and wished he were a Met (sharing the outfield with Mikes Conforto & Trout would be very nice) and how he overcame his upper-middle-class suburban CA childhood and baseball scholarship to play the game as deemed appropriate IS inspiring. Too bad those immigrant refugees don't treat the game that got them here the same way, right?

Robb said...

phil mushnick is the biggest hack in New york.

Reading his columns is like listening to old men complain that their soup is too hot before they make a racist comment about how someone is stealing from them.

He constantly sides with james dolan, which might be the most insulting thing you can do to a sports fan.

Gary Seagren said...

This really started the day players started making more money than not only their managers but the entire FO the baseball world got shifted off it's axis and has created the "all for me" egomaniacal player. Quite frankly the inmates have been running the asylum for quite some time so none of this should be surprising as now playing the game the right way is the exception. I'm also a football Giants fan and it was so refreshing to hear OBJ quoted today saying he wanted to be the highest paid player (not of course the best player but the highest paid) so I guess the old "there's no I in team" doesn't apply to him and his team mates must be thrilled with is dedication to being the best player he can be. Sorry for ranting here but players acting like total jerks is really getting old and I'm seriously looking forward to a David Wright siting.

Mack's Mets © 2012