Suspect the Yankees of cheating? You’re a “psychotic”. Give your best pitcher the ball as much as possible? You’re an “abuser”. It seems as though the New York Yankees general manager has labels suited to any and all situations this weekend, and isn’t afraid to dish out the criticism.
Brian Cashman has been in the news lately, not for his team’s on-field accomplishments but for unseemly issues currently facing the sport’s most famous franchise.
First, there were accusations of cheating stemming from a photo taken and posted on Twitter by Kieth Olbermann. The image depicted a Yankees baseball operations coaching assistant named Brett Weber sitting in the stands behind home plate. Weber was wearing headset and relaying hand signals to individuals on the field; in the photo he’s clearly holding up 4 fingers.
Cashman was quick to proffer an explanation: a jumbo-tron malfunction necessitated some old-school communication.
“The scoreboard went down. He was relaying after the fact with his fingers to some hitters who wanted it what the velocity was, pitches to the opposing teams’ hitter, to the guy on deck. There’s nothing to hide. We’ve got nothing to hide.”
Cashman said that Weber wears a headset to communicate with the scoreboard operator during games.
Major League Baseball reacted to the photo by contacting team officials, who agreed to stop Weber’s role as “communicator”. Cashman was adamant that he expects no punishment to be handed down.
And he didn’t stop there.
“It’s probably more work talking about than it’s worth. The psychotics that obsessed about it all day yesterday, I think we all did ‘em a favor by keeping them off the street and preventing them from hurting others.”
The Yanks were caught on camera doing what looks a lot like gaining an unfair advantage. Did Cashman really expect this to go away without any kind of public reaction? If so, it makes me wonder exactly who is suffering a psychosis. Whether or not New York was actually cheating– which I’m sure will be a matter of some debate for the foreseeable future– this is exactly the type of thing that fans are sensitive to. With competitive balance and the Yankees’ perceived advantage already in the forefront of people’s minds, it’s ludicrous to think that Olbermann’s tweet wouldn’t arouse suspicion.
It would have been enough to deny allegations and let the matter drop. There was no reason for Cashman to insult those who are willing to consider the possibility of ulterior motives.
It’s not like the franchise has ever done anything to warrant such a reaction…right? …Right?
Anyway, on to the next. Cashman also raised the ire of Mets fans by accusing his cross-town rivals of “abusing” reliever Pedro Feliciano.
“He was abused. It’s a thin [free agent] market when you’re looking for lefties, and [Feliciano is] one of the better ones out there. But you don’t typically go after a guy who’s been used like that…The use pattern was abusive.”
It’s true that the lefty made a franchise record 266 appearances over a 3-year span with the Mets. But the Yankees were well aware of that reality when they signed Feliciano to a multi-year contract worth at least $8 million. With a guaranteed 2 years and club option for the third, the “abused” Feliciano is currently being well-paid for hanging out on the D.L. He has an ongoing rotator cuff problem, and it’s worth noting that the pitcher himself does not blame his ailment on the Mets.
No one pressured the Bombers into inking Feliciano, and Cashman’s comments sound an awful lot like whining to me.
Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen responded to the complaints with a forthright evaluation.
“[The Yankees] didn’t know that when they signed him? … He volunteered for the baseball every day. He was asked whether he was able to pitch. He said ‘yes’ every day — every day — and wanted to pitch more than we even pitched him. I feel badly that [Cashman] feels that way. That was part of the reason we decided to not re-sign [Feliciano] — because we knew we had used him 270-some times in the last three years.”
What angers me about Cashman’s comments is how very, very uneccessary they are. Nothing can be gained from casting aspersions on the Mets. This feels like a powerful guy on a powerful club taking shots just because he can, and that sort of gratuitous jab is, at best, tacky.
There are few things worse than listening to perennial contenders gripe about how hard their lives are. As Mets fans sit waiting for their team (one of baseball’s unluckiest in recent years) to get back to posting winning seasons, they endure plenty of critiques that are a legitimate part of the game. But having to listen to such inane chatter is cruel and unusual.
So what’s the deal? Is Cashman bored? With the off-season done, does he not know what to do with himself? Is he trying to get fired, perhaps wanting to go out with a bang? Or are these just random “insert-foot-in-mouth” moments?
Time will probably tell. Meanwhile, he’s giving the Mets some bulletin board material and generally ticking off the non-Yankee fan public. What a way to start the season.