“Pressure makes diamonds”…

The title quote by General George S. Patton could be applied to the 2009 New York Yankees…




The pressure for Joe Girardi to succeed will be very intense this year given the Yankees’ significant offseason additions.  As Johnny Damon put it in a recent interview with Peter Kerasotis of Florida Today: 


We better win this year,” he said, “or else a few of us will need to find new jobs.”


I think that Girardi will rise to the challenge, and will show continued growth and development as a manager as he enters his second year at the Yankee helm.  Tony Pena will play an invaluable role in helping Girardi define himself, and this might be the year that Joe can begin to break out of Joe Torre’s shadow.  In his first year, Girardi was consistently compared with Torre in his inferior ability to handle the media and bring a “sense of calm” to the clubhouse.  But as Girardi improves in those areas, his superior ability as a statistician and strategist will become more transparent.  When it’s game time, there aren’t many managers who are better prepared than Girardi.


The Yankees recent trend of slow starts is a concern, and of course Mark Teixeira has a similar history so that won’t help.  Nevertheless, the key to the season is patience, and the Yankees’ dominant pitching staff will begin to exert its promise as the season progresses. 


As the quotes continue to circulate about Joe Torre’s new book, The Yankee Years, and how George Steinbrenner was a tyrant, I can’t help but think how much different Hal Steinbrenner is from his father.  By all appearances, he shares his father’s passion for winning and is concerned about the Steinbrenner family’s Yankee legacy, but he seems more patient and methodical in his approach.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of a long season with the high expectations and the inevitable bumps in the road.


For what it’s worth, Damon is okay with Torre’s book.  He mentioned that when he wrote his book, the only negatives were about himself and not others.  Although supportive of Torre, he did discuss the sanctity of the clubhouse in his interview with Peter Kerasotis:


“What happens in the clubhouse should always stay in the clubhouse, unless it’s funny or goofy. You know, harmless stuff.”


Unlike David Wells and others, Damon always has a way of putting things in the proper perspective.  I felt that way even when he played with the Red Sox. 


I am a little disappointed that Larry King didn’t ask any tough questions of Joe Torre on Friday night, but then again, it was Larry King so it was a given that the questions would be “Nerf” balls.  While I wasn’t totally convinced by Torre’s explanations, I still believe that the book must be read before any final judgments are made. 


It should be a season to remember as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays slug it out for AL East superiority, and hopefully a trip to the World Series for the victor…




I am curious to see if something happens with Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher this week.  Later in the week, it will have been ten days since pitcher Chase Wright was designated for assignment.  Wright is too talented to pass through waivers, so I could easily see him being part of a trade involving Nady or Swisher as the Yanks attempt to recoup some prospects.  Granted, they could just deal Wright in a stand-alone trade, but I think the greater value is a package deal.   With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report in less than two weeks, I really believe that something will happen sooner rather than later.  I still have mixed feelings about trading Nady and/or Swisher, but it appears that it will most likely happen so hopefully the “return” will be worth it in the long run.


I am very anxious to see what Mark Melancon and Phil Coke can do in training camp this year…


I maintain my belief that the Steelers will be victorious later today.  If I am wrong, so be it.  I am not going to lose any sleep if the Cardinals successfully end their 61-year drought.  I grew up about 60 miles away from Kurt Warner, so it is good to see a fellow Iowan enjoy success.  Bill Bidwell has taken so many hits over the years, and he remains a villain in St. Louis, but his influence is a key reason for why the Cardinals are in Tampa today.  Over the years, the team always talked about building a team based on character.  It’s refreshing that the Super Bowl doesn’t have the likes of Terrell Owens, Adam “Pac Man” Jones, or Jeremy Shockey.  I know that Anquan Boldin made some comments this year, as has Edgerrin James, but neither is what I would consider a “bad” guy.  I am looking forward to seeing if this year’s commercials show new originality and innovation.  Last year was a disappointment…


I liked the quote in a SNL skit where the woman said that she thought the Super Bowl was a battle of Budweiser bottles (hopefully, the game itself will remain the most interesting part of the event).


I am impressed with this year’s selections for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  All of the selections were tremendous choices:  Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Rod Woodson, Randall McDaniel, Bullet Bob Hayes, and Ralph Wilson.  It will be a very memorable day in Canton, Ohio this summer.



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