Great Moments in “If the Boss were alive”

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Andrew Sullivan often mentions the fact that when he was a reporter at the New Republic his editor, Michael Kinsley, would say that he wished he had a single key on his computer that he could press before even reading an article that would delete all semicolons and replace them with a period and automatically capitalize the next word. Why? Because, Kinsley thought, semicolons were useless crutches which enabled bloated, aimless prose and served to prevent the writer from actually saying something useful, clear and succinct.

If I ever seriously mess up in life and find myself editing some Yankees columnist, I’d want a key that automatically deletes any variation of “If George Steinbrenner were alive” and replace it with the words “[columnist] is ill today. He will return next week.”

The latest abuser of this shopworn cliche of Yankees analysis: Bill Madden:

If George Steinbrenner were alive, you know there would be some kind of shakeup. Heads would roll somewhere. Changes — if nothing else for the sake of changes — would be in the offing.

That’s the difference between a regular columnist and a Spink Award-winning columnist like Madden. The Spink Award guy has the guts and job security to add the “heads would roll” cliche to the “if the Boss were still alive” cliche. He throws it all out there.

In other news, Steinbrenner is still dead. And even when he was alive, he had spent the last 15 years or so running a Yankees team with managerial and executive stability nearly unrivaled in all of baseball. Why? Because he changed and matured and realized that he couldn’t do things like he did back in 1982 and be successful anymore.

If only New York columnists could do that.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.