You know how after almost any team loses in any sport, someone says in a really annoying voice, "Well, they just didn't want
it enough!" Bill Simmons is doing that, but taking it to a whole new level
. He's now implying that by overrating a team, the media can trick them into not wanting it enough. Seriously.
Read what he wrote below, and think about how when taken as a whole, everything seems to flow together and make sense.What happens when a team doesn't have anything to prove?
Look at the Yankees. Everyone handed the World Series to them before the playoffs started, to the point it became a no-win situation, no different from any of the Team USA basketball collapses the past few years. The Yankees were a peculiar mix of All-Stars, washed-up veterans and nobodies who weren't as collectively good as we thought, a team with some fundamental flaws (defense, chemistry and pitching), a team that easily could be taken down by some live bats and a couple of good arms. As soon as they started struggling, they self-imploded and that was that. Everyone was shocked.
But was it really that shocking?
Sounds pretty good. But wait until I take it line by line and nitpick it to death. This will be enjoyable to at least one person. Probably KT.What happens when a team doesn't have anything to prove?
The Yankees hadn't won a World Series in five years and they're expected to win every year by a crazy boss. They had a lot to prove. Not to mention that the bulk of the team is made up of non-True-Yankee losers whom everyone wants to crucify. Don't you think it would've helped Gary Sheffield or Jason Giambi out reputation-wise to win a championship in New York? How about, um, Alex Rodriguez? I'm pretty sure he had something to prove.Look at the Yankees. Everyone handed the World Series to them before the playoffs started,Everyone
. Actually, if you follow that link, you'll find that six out of nineteen ESPN experts picked the Yankees to win the Series. Seven picked the Twins. Humorously, only one picked a team that is not already eliminated.to the point it became a no-win situation,
I think if the Yankees had won the World Series, that would have counted as a "win." They lost, so it was "not a win." I'm being over-literal, but come on. It would have been awesome for those guys to win and prove they were "championship material" guys who don't "choke" and instead "do all the little things" or "whatever it takes" to "get the job done." Being the favorite, which they very marginally were, I think, despite how the ESPN folks voted, does not make your situation a "no-win" one.no different from any of the Team USA basketball collapses the past few years.
A lot of people were picking Argentina and Spain last time. ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan would not shut up about it.The Yankees were a peculiar mix of All-Stars, washed-up veterans and nobodies
I think a lot of teams are a mix of All-Stars, washed-up veterans and nobodies -- not sure it's that peculiar. I guess the implication here is that they needed more hungry kids to hungrify them. Also, gritty veterans instead of washed-up veterans. And firebrands.a team with some fundamental flaws (defense, chemistry and pitching),
I'm going to print these words in sizes of relative importance:defense chemistry pitching
That totally wasn't worth it. Let's move on.a team that easily could be taken down by some live bats and a couple of good arms.
Again, this is almost every team in baseball history with the possible exception of the '27 Yankees. "Live bats and a couple of good arms" are what make teams good. This is like saying "You know what the 2006 Yankees' kryptonite was? A good fucking team
, that's what."As soon as they started struggling, they self-imploded and that was that.
Uh huh. They self-imploded. They wanted to lose. They quit. Very plausible.Everyone was shocked.
I was surprised. I thought the Yankees were slightly better. And I still think that if they played the Tigers 100 times, the Yankees would win like 52 of them. Not that interesting.But was it really that shocking?
No, but not because of your elaborate media-jinxed-them theory. It's because in a five-game series, anything can fucking happen
. I can't stress this enough. The Royals swept the Tigers. Is it because the Tigers had nothing to prove or because the media thought they had the best lineup of all time? No. It was because the Tigers had three shitty days in a row. In baseball, that happens.This particular Yankee team didn't even seem to like one another
DON'T CARE DON'T CARE DON'T CAREBy Game 4, they clearly didn't want to be there anymore. You could see them checking out as the game went on.
What I saw was Jeremy Bonderman with filthy stuff and Jaret Wright with Jaret Wright stuff.They had no fight in them.
Hindpsycho. This is baseball. The only semblance of "fight" I can think of is maybe taking more pitches than usual? Or what? I don't know, you tell me. Again, Bonderman was throwing darts. How do you fight that?Did the gushing stream of "greatest lineup ever!" angles soften them in the end?
No, goddammit, it didn't soften them. Is anyone buying this?Sure seemed like it -- they didn't seem to be like a team that was battling for anything.
Anger subsiding ... indignance waning ... resistance weakening. Jesus. Define battling. This is baseball. Fouling off pitches? Catching and throwing the ball with an angry, serious expression on your face? I bet they were trying to do those things.As soon as the Tigers pulled a Buster Douglas in Game 2 and punched them in the chops, they were never the same.
You've silenced my arguments with that metaphor. Point, Simmons.Torre panicked and started switching his lineup around.
This is a tangible fact (well, the switching part is, not the panicking part). I don't believe it was a very big factor at all.The bats went silent. Guys started screwing up. A-Rod peed on himself against Zumaya. The Tigers smelled the kill and finished them off. And that was that.
Here is my alternative explanation. It doesn't have as much to do with guys' feelings and the media and Hideki Matsui thinking he has nothing to prove.
Game One: the Yankees throw a good pitcher. They win.
Game Two: the Yankees throw a good pitcher but they lose a close one.
Game Three: the Yankees throw Randy Johnson, a pitcher with a 5.00 ERA. Also, Kenny Rogers is genuinely good for a game. They lose.
Game Four: the Yankees throw Jaret Wright, a bad pitcher. They lose.
And that was that.
Labels: bill simmons, yankees