Yankees Suck postsTuesday March 04, 2014
Yankees Suck Reason #38: Keeping Vic Power in the Minors
Vic Power had his best years with the Athletics in 1955, when he hit .319 and slugged .505, with 34 doubles, 10 triples and 19 homers.
John Rosengren, who has written two previous books on baseball, has now published a third: “The Fight of Their Lives: How Juan Marichal and John Roseboro Turned Baseball's Ugliest Brawl into a Story of Forgiveness and Redemption.” It's worth checking out. (Disclosure: Rosengren's a friend.)
Most baseball fans know about the incident. In the midst of a tight pennant race in August 1965, Juan Marichal, a future Hall of Fame pitcher, who was at the plate, took a baseball bat to the head of catcher John Roseboro. Rosengren's book is the story behind those 10 seconds of infamy.
The most interesting aspect of the book, though, may be the sections on the history of dark-skinned Latinos integrating the Majors after Jackie. It includes yet another stellar moment in Yankees history:
Vic Power (né Victor Pellot Pove), a dark-skinned infielder from Puerto Rico, had married a light-skinned Hispanic woman, but when he drove her around Kansas City—where he played for the Athletics in 1955—police regularly stopped him to question him about the white woman in the passenger seat. Another time, after Power bought a Coke at a gas station in Florida, the attendant boarded the team bus and demanded that Power return the bottle. Power complied with some choice words. A patrol car soon pulled over the bus, and the officer arrested Power for profanity. Power’s teammates posted bail of $500 but warned him not to go back for the trial. “What kind of country is this?” Power asked.
America’s team gave him his answer. Power batted .330 and drove in 109 runs for the New York Yankees’ AAA team in 1952, but the parent club did not promote him. The next year, Power won the American Association batting title with his .349 average but still didn’t get called up. Knowing that Power’s stylish play and his relationship with a white woman (whom he would soon marry) might ruffle the team’s staid fan base, Yankees general manager George Weiss said Power wasn’t the “right kind” of black man to integrate the Yankees. The team’s traveling secretary Bill McCorry was more blunt: “No nigger will have a berth on any train I’m running.” Yankee president Dan Topping tried to justify the team’s decision by labeling Power a “poor fielder.”
Once Power finally did get a crack at the big leagues after the Yankees traded him to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1954, the infielder went on to win seven Gold Gloves ...
For the record, the Yankees were the unlucky 13th of the original 16 teams to integrate (in 1955 with Elston Howard), behind only the Phillies ('57), Tigers ('58) and Red Sox ('59), and despite the other New York teams being the first (Dodgers in '47) and fourth (Giants in '49) to move the country, the culture, and the world forward.
Derek Jeter's Hits Parade: Where Will He Wind Up in the Record Book?
When it comes to WAR, Jeter's better on offense than defense.
So my arch-nemesis Derek Jeter is hanging up his spikes at the end of the 2014 season. I get the feeling I'll miss him. I get the feeling I'll feel about him the way I feel about former Yankee Paul O'Neill, whom I despised until he retired, then admitted he was one tough out. I still remember that 10-pitch walk O'Neill drew in the bottom of the 9th of Game 1 of the 2000 World Series when the Mets were up by a run. A lot of ones at that point: Game 1, one out, one run ahead for the Mets. But O'Neill kept fouling off pitches from Armando Benitez. He finally walked and eventually scored to tie the game on Chuck Knoblauch's sac fly. Derek Jeter, Mr. Clutch, followed with a strikeout to send the game into extras. The Yankees won in 12 and never looked back. And it all started with O'Neill.
I'm sure I'll feel this way about Jeter. Someday. Maybe.
Joe Posnanski had a good recent post on being overrated and underrated and how it applies to Derek Jeter. He suggests that while Jeter may have been overrated in getting press, and coverage, and girls, and being one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, all of this may have led to him being underrated in terms of, say, MVP honors, where he has none. An argument can be made.
An argument can also be made on where Jeter will wind up on the all-time leaderboard. That's what's most intrigued me since the retirement announcement.
Jeter is currently 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,316, and disaster would have to befall him if he didn't make ninth (Paul Molitor, 3,319). And if he went out with a bang and reached 200 hits again, as he did two years ago, he could wind up as high as fifth (Tris Speaker: 3514). But that's as high as he'll go. Stan the Man is currently fourth with 3,630. That's now unreachable.
Jeter is currently 15th in career at-bats with 10,614. Another 400 vaults him past Brooks Robinson, Paul Molitor, Craig Biggio, Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Stan Musial, and Dave Winfield, and all the way into seventh place (currently: Robin Yount with 11,008).
Runs scored? Currently 13th with 1,876. He needs another 74 to get into ninth place.
And that's about it in terms of top-10 possibilities. Jeter is 84th in batting average (.312), 161st in OBP (.381), 430th in slugging (.446). He's 38th in doubles (525), 190th in homeruns (256), 127th in RBIs (1,261), 112th in stolen bases (348). Hit by pitch? That's a bit higher: 17th with 164. One behind Kid Elberfeld. Maybe he should go out that way: in a blaze of glory.
And the negative stats? He's 18th in career strikeouts (1753); another 70 puts him at 13th. He's 19th in grounded into double plays (272), and had 24 in 2012. If he did something slmilar he could wind up in 12th place (Ted Simmons, 287).
His 94.1 Offensive WAR (Baseball Reference version) ranks 22nd all time, but his Defensive WAR (-9.2) isn't even in the top 1,000. Is it near the bottom? Both could go down, too. They went down last year. FWIW.
I guess the big question is whether Jeter can add to his postseason numbers. Because the extended playoffs began when Jeter began, and because he generally led off for a resurgent Yankees, he is the all-time postseason leader in games, at-bats, hits, runs, total bases and strikeouts. One hopes that's it. One hopes he's seen his last postseason game. The ankle one.
His impending retirement also means this: In 2015, we'll have new active leaders in most batting categories: games, at-bats, etc. If he's still playing, it'll be A-Rod. If he's not, it'll be Ichrio. Both are currently Yankees. Trivia: Who is the active leader in games, at-bats and hits who is not currently a Yankee? Would you believe him?
Yankees Suck at English, Too
My friend Tim posted this on Facebook, via George Takei, and with a shout out to me to draw the connection between the right-wing (and unintentionally ironic) political rant and the Yankees sticker on the SUV. He probably meant this. Or maybe this. But really it could be any of these.
Anyway, it made me smile.
During the holidays, someone complained that there were too many political rants and “Yankees Suck” posts on this site. There probably are. But we do what's in our nature, and I guess this is in my nature. Either way, it makes the above the perfect image for January 1, 2014. I offer it with a smile and a hands-up hapless gesture. Meet the new year.
Joey Poz on the Rime of the Ancient Yankees
On his blog, in a post called “Yankees Hot Tub Time Machine,” Joe Posnanski pointed out how long in the tooth (a long-in-the-tooth phrase if there ever was one) the 2014 New York Yankees are.
Currently, Brian McCann is 29, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are each 30, Mark Teixeira is 33, Brian Roberts 36, Alex Rodriguez 38, Derek Jeter 39, and Ichiro is 40.
More, for each of them, their best year was a while back, mostly between 2005 and 2007. Then Poz writes this
Oh, if only the Yankees had a Hot Tub Time Machine — or the phone booth from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — they could put together one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Heck, let’s say it, if they could have all nine of those players, in their prime, that would be the greatest team ever. You have (by performance) three SURE Hall of Famers (A-Rod, Jeter, Ichiro), a possible Hall of Famer (Beltran) and four All-Star superstars.
Instead, Tex is old and played just 15 games last year, Jeter is old and played in 17 games, A-Rod is old and with a pending suspension that would last more than a year, Ichiro is old and has not even managed a .300 average since 2010, Roberts is old and is hitting .231/.289/.344 the last three seasons. Soriano and Beltran are old too, though they still had something left last year. Even McCann and Ellsbury, who are like One Direction compared to this gang of Rolling Stones, will be 30 on Opening Day.
Michael Schur and I argue about the Yankees all the time. I believe this team is about to become an all-time fiasco … something that has been building for a few years now with these gigantic and back-loaded contracts that, sooner or later, come due. I look at this creaky team — and the fact the Yankees had to pay a huge luxury tax just to put it together — and see doom.
That last graf warmed my heart on this cold, cold Seattle day.
The Best Tweet on the Robinson Cano Signing
As a Yankee fan, the Cano mega-deal offends me. Grow your own talent Seattle! Don’t buy aging free-agent superstars! Sheesh.— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterType) December 6, 2013
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard