True Yankee Watch: 2012 ALCS edition

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Sorry, but I can’t get enough of members of the Yankees commentariat trying to outdo one another to draw the broadest, most dramatic conclusions from the results of three games.  It’s great fun.

The latest is Ian O’Connor of ESPN New York who uses the Yankees’ ALCS meltdown to help us identify who are and who are not True Yankees. Which is an exercise that I didn’t think anyone was still doing, but whatever:

Rodriguez spent the night in a gray hooded sweat jacket, chewing sunflower seeds in the dugout, and he could be finished as a Yankee. The dynastic holdovers — Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte — all suffered serious leg injuries in their advanced age, and the team’s best in-his-prime player, Cano, is a room-temperature star lacking that unbreakable Jeter/Rivera/Pettitte drive.

Even with two wild cards there to cushion the fall, this could be the beginning of the end of the Yankees as we knew them. CC Sabathia, one of the few Yanks cut from the dynasty makers’ mold, surely will put up a fight Wednesday night, but what’s the point?

Notes:

  • I have a totally non-ironic love for O’Connor’s use of the phrase “room temperature” here to describe Cano. I assume he means it as a synonym for death (i.e. he has assumed room temperature) and as a fan of pulp detective fiction and film noir, that just pushes all of my buttons;
  • Say what you want about the greatness of Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera, but calling anything about those three “unbreakable” this year is counterfactual; and
  • Anyone know why Sabathia is “cut from the dynasty makers’ mold?”  It can’t be because he’s part of a dynasty, can it, because he’s still got just the one ring. It’s almost as if being cut from that mold means “not stinking at the particular moment at which I am writing this column.”

Oh well. Only a few more hours to read this kind of stuff until the next game. If they lose, there will be even graver post-mortems. If they win there will no doubt be some more True Yankees to discuss.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.