The replay proposal was well-received? We sure about that?

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Yes, I know I’m beating this to death. Sorry. It’s what I do. You want more A-Rod stories? Didn’t think so.

Anyway, a companion to that “MLB wanting us to accept the challenge system on their word” thing is the “declaration of victory” thing. People talking about yesterday’s replay announcement as if it were overwhelmingly well received. Baseball does this a lot, actually. It says something and then asserts that everyone is on board and points at anyone saying otherwise with the “wow, that guy is crazy” look on their face.  As the guy often being pointed at as crazy, I’ve seen it happen a lot. I realize I look like this much of the time.

But here is what I’m talking about. The headline from USA Today:

source:

The people have spoken! Now here are quotes from two managers from the article. First Bob Melvin, who is portrayed as one of the people approving of the change:

“So, if someone’s watching it and is on top of it and has the use of replay very quickly, that certainly doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me,” says Melvin, who admits he used to be against replay.

See that assumption? “someone watching and on top of it.” Actually, Bob, this proposal does not have someone watching and on top of it. That’s on you. If you decide a play was made improperly it’s your burden to alert everyone. Then someone steps in for a review. That’s yesterday’s proposal.

Then Joe Maddon, who first offers some pithy quotes about technology being great and replay being part of that:

“I just don’t like the idea that the earlier part of the game is considered less important,” he says. “I know we’ve lost games in the first inning. You can lose games in the second inning. I don’t know if that’s something based on research that there are fewer umpire mistakes in the first part of the game than in the latter part of the game.”

But, he’ll take whatever version he can get.

If people want to call this a positive reaction that’s their right. But it seems to be actually negative with respect to the actual proposal.

Everyone wants the calls right. That’s not debatable. So when someone says “we just want the calls right” or even “replay is good,” that is not an endorsement of yesterdays’ announcement. The only specific comments I’ve seen thus far are either skeptical of a challenge system or skeptical of the one specifically proposed.

If there is to be a debate about the merits of this plan, let’s have the debate. Let’s not make sure everyone lines up behind MLB’s proposal and have some premature declaration of victory.

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.