So, was it a bad day for the Yankees yesterday or not?

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I (and a lot of other people) made cracks about yesterday being a bad day for the Yankees, what with Matsui leaving, the Sox getting Lackey and Halladay heading someplace that wasn’t the Bronx. New York Magazine’s Will Leitch is having none of it, however. His take:

(1) The Yankees never had a real chance to get Halladay, so kudos that he didn’t go to Boston and kudos that he left the division;

(2) The Sox signing Lackey and Cameron means that they won’t sign Bay or Holliday; and

(3) The Yankees are now in a position of strength with respect to Damon and maybe someone like Jason Bay.

Maybe. But if what people are saying this morning is true, the Yankees could have had Halladay if they would have offered up Joba or Hughes.  They ended up being the sticking point, not Montero, who most people assumed was off limits. I like Hughes and Chamberlain long term, but if one of them represented the sticking point it was a surmountable sticking point.

I actually think that Damon gained a bit of strength given Matsui leaving town, but probably not so much that it will get him more than two years, and that’s ultimately the whole game for New York with respect to Damon.

Finally, it strikes me that Lackey has gone from overrated to underrated in the space of about 24 hours.  No, he’s not strong when measured against cream of the crop free agent starters, but the competition did just land a guy who would be an ace on most teams he could have joined. Between Leitch here and Edes earlier, I think he’s being sold pretty short all of a sudden.

Ultimately, however, Leitch is right: none of these moves dramatically shifts the balance of power in the cold war that is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. To abuse the analogy, this is much more like the U.S. overthrowing the government of Chile than it is like, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis or something.

Not all that much has changed here. The Red Sox likely have one major move left in them, and that’s acquiring Adrian Beltre or someone like him. The Yankees could still move on Damon and/or Bay and add a second tier starter.  Even if you assume the best for Boston and the worst for New York coming out of all of that, I think the Yankees are still the team to beat.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.