Your morning dose of "playing in New York is different" porn

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Joel Sherman discusses the Yankees’ deadline pickups, with specific reference to the Lance Berkman deal. After (correctly) noting that the quality of play in the AL East is much, much better than that in the NL Central, he goes on to note that it’s not just better opponents Berkman will have to get used to:

What players who come to the Yankees – unless they come from Boston or
maybe one or two other places – notice quickly is the intensity of the
games. Every pitch matters when you are a Yankee. It is a lingering
effect of having a team owned by George Steinbrenner, playing in the
largest media market in the world, having the most fans, having the most
enemies, having the largest payroll, by far, and having the most
expectations, by far.

It is a unique cauldron. And players either love and embrace the
intensity or find this is a difficult place to play. It certainly takes
getting used to and Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns have to
recalibrate two-thirds of the way through the year. But as bad as the
Indians are, Wood and Kearns were at least playing in the AL. Berkman
was not only playing in the inferior league, but within the softest
division.

Sherman goes on to say — based on two games in pinstripes — that Berkman looked “slow and inadequate” and wonders if moving to the AL East has anything to do with that.

I get Sherman’s general point about there being more pressure and scrutiny in New York, but I think we’ve long since reached the point where those sentiments have become so cartoonishly overstated to be damn near worthless. I know players pay obeisance to the “everything is different in New York” thing when talking to New York reporters, but I can’t help but think that they roll their eyes at it behind the scenes.

They’re professionals. They put their uniform pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. Yes, it’s harder to face the Rays and Red Sox than the Pirates and Cubs, but unless the player really has confidence issues — which should be the tiniest minority of players given how much confidence it takes to get to the big leagues in the first place — the difference in outside scrutiny cannot be nearly as big as New York reporters and many New Yorkers themselves like to tell themselves it is. It’s a difference of degree, not a totally different world.

And might I add that three days in from this trade I cannot believe just how much Lance Berkman — an MVP-level talent in his prime and a guy who has played in the World Series — is being discounted by Yankees fans and watchers?  He’s 34 and he’s in decline, but he’s still a useful player. If you came from another planet and read nothing but the New York tabloids these past few days you’d assume that the Yankees just traded for some reality show contestant. 

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.