March 8, 2004
2-3 Months and 17 Years
It is mid-term week here at the University of Minnesota, so my entries for the next several days may be less verbose and Gleeman-Length than usual. Many of you probably see that as a positive thing, so it'll be a nice change of pace.
With that said, let's hop right in...
This is no doubt a big blow to the Yankees. Losing a player the caliber of Gary Sheffield would hurt any team, and with Bernie Williams out for a little while after his emergency appendectomy, they are suddenly a little short-handed in the outfield. With that said, they're going to be just fine.
Williams' injury is nothing serious and he should be back shortly after the start of the season, at which point the Yankees, minus Sheffield, can still trot the following out:
LF Bernie Williams
CF Kenny Lofton
RF Hideki Matsui
1B Travis Lee
DH Jason Giambi
I don't know for sure that Bernie would play left field and not, say, right field, but you get the point.
New York signed Travis Lee and Kenny Lofton this off-season and went into spring training with a ton of depth among outfielders and first basemen. Luckily for them, the two players who have gone down with injuries are both outfielders, meaning they can simply plug in their depth and keep on chugging along toward 100 wins.
As long as Sheffield is back for October, the Yankees will be just fine. That's the beauty of a Mo Vaughn-sized payroll. They have the ability to not only pay Sheffield $13 million a year, they can also pay Lee and Lofton about $5.5 million to be role players and insurance policies.
Incidentally, with this Sheffield injury, I noticed Yankee fans trying to act like fans of other teams when a big injury hits them. For instance, if a star player for a "normal" team goes down with a significant injury, fans start in with all that "the sky is falling" stuff. It's just what fans do.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could lose Sheffield for the entire season and I'd still bet your life savings on them making the playoffs without much trouble. And even if they were struggling to make the playoffs, don't you think they'd just go out and trade for a great replacement for Sheffield?
It's nice of Yankee fans to play along anyway. They need something to worry about too, I guess.
UPDATE: According to ESPN.com, Sheffield:
a) has a torn ligament
b) is not having surgery
c) is planning to "play through it."
This is very interesting, because it sounds (to my admittedly untrained ear) like something that could hamper his performance all season. My statement about the Yankees easily making the playoffs without him still stands, so I think he might be better off actually having the surgery, but who knows...
After 17 years at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Dan Barreiro resigned from his job as a sports columnist.
As a lifelong Minnesota resident, I've had the pleasure of reading Barreiro's work many, many times. Truth be told, I enjoy him much more on his daily radio show than I do in print, but I still enjoyed his columns quite a bit. I found him to be smart, funny, unafraid to state his opinion, and an excellent writer.
I've spent plenty of time criticizing sports writers from various media outlets on this blog, but I think it's also necessary to praise someone who does consistently good work like Barreiro did for so many years.
As he explains in his farewell column, Barreiro was often criticized because of his sarcastic humor and willingness to be negative. Those are, of course, the very things I value in a writer and the very things that made me enjoy Barreiro's work.
In the 19 months or so that I've written this blog, I've come to realize that criticism is simply part of the process. If you state an opinion, you are going to be criticized for it. That's just how it works. If Barreiro's "negativity" played a part in his resignation, that's a real shame. We need more good sports writers these days, and we just lost one.
I don't have much more to say on the subject, but in case Dan happens to stumble across this blog someday, I want to thank him for providing me with enjoyable columns to read and wish him luck with whatever he chooses to do in the future. I'll be listening to the radio show and looking for his byline somewhere in print.
Of course, as soon as I heard Barreiro was quitting his column and leaving the Star-Tribune, I contacted someone I know at the paper and said something like, "If you're looking for a bright, young, up-and-coming writer to replace Barreiro, I work cheap." Sadly, I haven't heard back. I am interested to see who they do replace him with.
The boys over at Athletics Nation are trying to start up a little campaign to make Major League Baseball's Opening Day a national holiday.
Personally, it sounds like a good idea and I'm certainly all for anything that gives me another day off from school. I'm sure a few of you wouldn't mind an excused absence from work so you could go watch the first ballgame of the year either.
So head over to Athletics Nation and check out National Pastime Day, The Movement.
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