Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Controversies find Yankees very early

Less than one week into their baseball season, the New York Yankees have three wins and two controversies on their hands.

Brian Cashman started an unnecessary argument when he blamed pitcher Pedro Feliciano’s bum shoulder on overuse by the New York Mets. In response, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen took a very nasty and totally unwarranted shot at Feliciano, hurting the pitcher’s feelings and causing him to vow revenge on the Metsies. This should make the Subway Series very interesting if the Yankees bring Feliciano into a game—here’s hoping Feliciano can make Warthen eat his words.

I consider this to be nothing more than a silly war of words, but I again have to fault Cashman for opening his mouth when he shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter that he’s absolutely right. He’s gotten into a very nasty habit of saying exactly what’s on his mind (witness the infamous Derek Jeter smackdown this offseason) and that causes problems when you’re the general manager of the Yankees. Cashman needs to relearn the phrase “no comment.”

I’m more concerned about Rafael Soriano blowing off the media. It’s not just that he blew them off, but his behavior illustrates what some people consider his major flaw: a very bad attitude that might have played a role in his inability to get a closer job with any other Major League Baseball team. Sure, he didn’t do too badly in taking the millions the Steinbrenners threw at him (over Cashman’s objection) to be Mariano Rivera’s set-up guy, but part of that deal is playing under the glare of the New York lights and answering all the questions after screwing up.

In refusing to face the music after the game, Soriano basically allowed the New York media to take shots at him (check out this ultra-critical column by Joel Sherman), which in turn could help turn Yankee fans against him very quickly, especially if he blows more games the way he did yesterday. Not a smart move on Soriano’s part.

It wouldn't be the New York Yankees without controversy, but having back-to-back problems this early in the season is a new low even for them. I hope they won’t cause too much of a distraction, but I’m not optimistic.

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