Friday, December 31, 2010

8 comments Doesn't Anyone Care About the Feelings of New York?

There is something really important that has gotten lost in the rejection of the Knicks and Yankees by LeBron James and Cliff Lee, and it is not the fact that JemeHill is still talking about LeBron James' decision to go to Miami six months after he made the decision. What's important is what this means for New York as a whole? Why don't these players want to come to New York on the biggest stage possible to get constantly critiqued and criticized by a reactionary media with their unreal expectations and constantly changing and never-ending criticisms?

It can't be possible that a player just doesn't want to play for the Knicks and Yankees, that's not possible at all, but their rejection of the city of New York means something is wrong with the city of New York or the players themselves. Fortunately, JemeHill gets to the bottom of this issue. She can't seem to fathom the idea that all other MLB and NBA cities in the bidding for James and Lee were also spurned. It's all about New York to her. If she could fathom it, she would only care by wondering what the other cities in MLB and the NBA being spurned meant for New York.

The day the New York Knicks officially announced they signed Amare Stoudemire to a $100 million contract, Knicks owner James Dolan characterized playing in New York City this way:

"We have to overpay players to get them come play for a team owned by me. Really, we've tried other options and I am so incompetent I can't seem to make the other options work."

"It takes courage to play where the lights shine the brightest," he said. "It takes leadership and character and competence to step up and say, 'I'll go first.' And it takes great skill to succeed in the No. 1 market."

In all other markets it takes zero skill and zero leadership to play. Pitching in Philadelphia? Piece of cake. Do they even have newspapers there? Probably not. There's no pressure on Cliff Lee to perform in Philadelphia, certainly not.

I'm not assaulting Lee's character or other intangibles, but it's hardly a secret that being a marquee player in New York City is just as challenging as it is rewarding.

It's also hardly a secret that being a marquee player in Philadelphia is also just as challenging as it is rewarding. It is not a secret that playing in Miami and being a marquee player is just as challenging as it is rewarding, especially when you open yourself up to criticism like LeBron James has done. I guess JemeHill thinks Miami is a small farming town located somewhere below the southern-most point of the United States, which to her is Pennsylvania. Yes, New York City is the biggest stage because it is the media capital of the United States, but there are other cities where there is pressure to perform well. Players not going to New York isn't a sign they don't want to face pressure.

It seems as though there is no longer an ironclad rule in sports that if athletes want to prove their mettle, they go to New York.

Morals in this country are eroding rapidly! I blame Obama!

Notice how JemeHill thinks it is a bad thing that athletes don't go to New York "to prove their mettle." She also probably thinks the Yankees should not be able to buy all of their players and there should be a salary cap in baseball. She wants all players to go to New York, but also wants the Yankees to quit getting all the best free agents.

Here's a brief list of free agents who have chosen New York over the last 2 years...just to show that not only is JemeHill dumb for thinking New York is the only place a player can prove their mettle, but she is also wrong. New York still becomes home to a good amount of talented free agents.

C.C. Sabathia
A.J. Burnett
Mark Teixeira
Raymond Felton
Amare Stoudemire
Jason Bay
Antrel Rolle
LaDainian Tomlinson
Jim Leonhard
Keith Bullock

This doesn't include a list of players who re-signed to play in New York and continue the effort to show their mettle on the largest stage. I won't list them but provided they are fairly large. Great players are still choosing New York, but it isn't a bad thing for sports if they weren't.

So what happened to that New York City mystique?

OMG! Panic! Where has the media-built mystique of playing in New York gone to?

"Our Plan B is patience," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

Screw patience. There need to be moves made RIGHT NOW. These needs to be quick, knee-jerk moves the team will regret down the road. Nobody gives a shit about actual progress, but the illusion of progress is all JemeHill wants.

The sports fan in me would have loved to see Lee take on the psychological challenge of leading the Yankees to a World Series,

The sports fan in JemeHill doesn't want to watch Cliff Lee go against the Yankees in the playoffs again for the third straight year? I guess a World Series between the Phillies and Yankees isn't classified as "sports" in her mind.

particularly because it would have meant battling a reloaded Red Sox team,

Notice the tag I have that says, "ESPN thinsk there are only two teams in MLB?" I didn't create that tag for this post. It's an ongoing issue I find with ESPN's coverage of baseball. Any move that does harm to the only and most important rivalry in sports is seen as a bad thing. If it were up to JemeHill all available free agents would have to decide between playing for the Yankees or the Red Sox.

(Even though it does feel like that's the choice right now anyway)

I hope JemeHill knows the Yankees are still going to play a reloaded Red Sox team. These two teams will play quite a few games against each other this year. It is so irritating as a fan of sports to hear a sportswriter dismayed that Cliff Lee didn't do anything to further enhance the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry. It's not like Cliff Lee went to North Dakota to play baseball. He went to Philadelphia, which by all accounts appears to be a rather large city, not to mention a team that has made the World Series two of the last three years...but it is not New York so JemeHill is contractually obligated by ESPN to hate the move.

I would also argue very few things have done positive things for the NBA lately than LeBron playing for the Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. It gave many NBA fans an enemy to cheer against and has led to high ratings for Heat games against their rivals. Of course JemeHill doesn't care about what is good for the NBA, she cares that New York was rejected by LeBron. That's all that matters to her for some reason. Even those who live in New York and are Knicks fans may not understand her point of view.

but the realist in me understands that the psyche of today's professional athlete is centered on minimizing the possibility of failure.

Yes, because in a rotation with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, there will be no focus on the performance of Cliff Lee in the mining town of Philadelphia, where there isn't a newspaper reporter in sight.

Certainly no athlete of any generation liked to fail, but athletes have so much exposure now that failure comes with a harsher stigma that smart athletes want to avoid.

Which is why LeBron James teamed up with Wade and Bosh to create an even larger stigma and focus on himself than if he had chosen any other team in free agency...including New York. If anything, James opened himself up to MORE criticism by choosing the Heat over the Knicks. If JemeHill thinks James is avoiding exposure to failure in Miami she isn't paying attention at all.

A star doesn't just fail a city today. He fails the world. He doesn't just fail at Yankee Stadium and in the New York tabloids. He fails on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Failures have become as memorable and lasting as successes.

I don't know if JemeHill is stupid or what, but Cliff Lee has joined a rotation that is being called "the best ever" and LeBron James was predicted to win 70+ games in Miami this year. How is this avoiding failure or staying away from unreal expectations?

Not every athlete is equipped or wants to be a savior.

Does avoiding that pressure make someone such as Lee a less dynamic player?

Because being the 2nd best pitcher on the Phillies is so much different from being the 2nd best pitcher on the Yankees. Lee is hiding from the world by signing with the Phillies and essentially guaranteeing the Phillies will be predicted to be in the World Series by 75% of baseball experts. A team being predicted to go to the World Series contains no pressure for Lee, I am sure.

It is idiocy, in fact it is journalistic malpractice, to say LeBron James and Cliff Lee avoided pressure in choosing the Heat and Phillies respectively. It's very, very, very not true.

Kevin Garnett spent 12 seasons in Minnesota trying to build the Timberwolves into a championship team, and ultimately, he became a Celtic because he grew sick of trying to learn from losing.

Garnett, who won an NBA title with the Celtics in his first season with the team, admitted after James chose Miami that he wished he had left Minnesota sooner.

This is something JemeHill constantly does. She either creates a false argument to prove as incorrect or she completely misses the point of something intentionally/unintentionally in order to prove her point.

Kevin Garnett didn't leave Minnesota because the spotlight wasn't enough, he left because the team was terrible. Cliff Lee and LeBron James didn't go from great teams to bad teams, so there is no lesson to be learned from his situation. It wasn't an issue of being out of the spotlight for Garnett, it was the issue of being on a team going nowhere.

"Loyalty is something that hurts you at times, because you can't get youth back," Garnett said. "I can honestly say that if I could go back and do my situation over, knowing what I know now with this organization, I'd have done it a little sooner."

What the hell does loyalty have to do with this discussion? Neither Lee or James re-signed with the teams they were on the season before. Try to convince a Cleveland Cavs fan that LeBron James was too loyal. I'd like to see that.

What Lee is required to do in Philly is magnitudes easier than what he'd have been expected to do in New York, where he and CC Sabathia would have anchored the staff and, win or lose, had every pitch scrutinized and second-guessed on TV, on radio, in print, online and at the corner bodega.

I bet there will be no second-guessing in that really want JemeHill believes? Has she ever paid attention to the Philadelphia media? This is just idiocy.

Shouldering the fate and fortune of an entire franchise and city has become an overrated experience for extraordinary talents like Lee, LeBron and even Alex Rodriguez, who ironically came to New York in 2004 for the same reason Lee and LeBron avoided New York.

I don't know if this is ironic or not. We may need a check on the definition of "irony."

I don't knock either Lee or LeBron for their choices, and they certainly aren't the only star athletes to say no to New York. After the 1992 season, Greg Maddux did the same thing, choosing the Atlanta Braves over pinstripes.

True. Maddux managed to avoid the spotlight by being considered one of the greatest pitchers of all-time and playing in three World Series in Atlanta. Boy, if he could do that decision over he would go to New York where the challenge of winning a title was greater and he would have become more of a household name. Whatever happened to Greg Maddux after he left the Cubs in 1992?

The real issue isn't who is saying no to New York but who is saying yes.

Yes, the city of New York should be concerned about this. With widespread and readily available media coverage of an elite player now an almost certainty no matter where he plays, how will sportswriters like JemeHill convince players the only place to get noticed is New York?

Lately, the only athlete who has been begging to come to New York is Carmelo Anthony. And before Anthony's back-channel pleas, the biggest free agent the Knicks had landed in some time was Stoudemire.

To JemeHill this isn't an indication of what players think about the Knicks or James Dolan, but an indication players don't want to carry a franchise on their back. Let's just ignore how dysfunctional the Knicks have been so JemeHill can prove a point.

Stoudemire and Anthony are terrific players. Stoudemire is having a marvelous season and has so far proved to be a good investment, returning the Knicks to basketball relevance. But both are also questionable leaders.

As seen by Anthony leading Syracuse to a National Championship as a freshman. That is questionable leadership at its best.

Is New York City still a desirable destination for bona fide, complete superstars such as Sabathia? Or is it now the preferred locale for wannabe, flawed or over-the-hill superstars such as Eli Manning and LaDainian Tomlinson?

Eli Manning was directly out of college when he went to New York. He also did not choose to play for the Giants, he just didn't want to play for the Chargers. That's just a minor detail of course when talking about the Giants as a "desirable destination" for Manning...the fact he wasn't anything but a rookie when he was traded to the Giants and he didn't exactly choose them more than he didn't want to choose San Diego.

Or even worse, is it for those who have no problem accepting failure?

Ooooooooooo...what a deep thought! Here's a deeper thought, maybe there are more attractive cities that also have a large media presence for players to choose when they are a free agent? Nah, that would never happen.


rich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rich said...

it's hardly a secret that being a marquee player in New York City is just as challenging as it is rewarding.

It's also not a secret that New Yorkers spit on his wife. We may throw batteries at players in Philadelphia, but we make sure to not throw them at players we'd like to play on the Phillies.

Here's a brief list of free agents who have chosen New York over the last 2 years.

I think it might have something to do with the whole "championship" thing players ramble about. Other than the Yankees are any of the NY teams serious contenders for a title? The Giants aren't, the Jets don't look like it; the Rangers are okay, the Islanders are laughably bad as are the Mets, while the Knicks... well we know all about the Knicks.

So what happened to that New York City mystique?

It went away when teams outside of NY started being really good and the teams inside of NY really, really sucked.

"Our Plan B is patience," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters

What he meant to say: "Our plan B is to tell everyone to shut the fuck up. Remember that World Series we won two seasons ago? Remember that ALCS appearance we just had? We're a really good team regardless."

What Lee is required to do in Philly is magnitudes easier than what he'd have been expected to do in New York

I'd say this is absolutely 100% wrong. In the AL, the Yankees are (arguably) the best team, but there are a bunch of other really good teams that are just as good as the Yankees. With Lee, is there a team in the NL even in the same planet as the Phillies? With the Yankees, you lose, it sucks, you go out and get 15 FAs and you try again the next year.

For the Phillies, anything less than a WS appearance this year would be a complete and utter failure. Especially, and I wouldn't expect Hill to have thought her point through, the Phillies traded away their future to win the next few years. They decimated their farm system and have an aging core that maybe has 3 good years left. Lee took a massive risk in going to the Phillies, if he doesn't win a WS in the next few years, chances are he doesn't get one at all.

Alex Rodriguez, who ironically came to New York in 2004 for the same reason Lee and LeBron avoided New York.

Didn't Arod agree to give back money to go to the Red Sox before the Player's Union threw a hissy fit? As in, wasn't Arod's first choice Boston? So LeBron avoided NY because his first choice actually had the money to pay him? Interesting point, Ms. Hill, interesting point.

Or even worse, is it for those who have no problem accepting failure?

::looks at Eli Manning:: Ya, because guys who can accept failure ::loads gun:: are clearly better ::cocks gun:: than players who avoid playing for another team ::aims gun at Manning::.

I love how in journalists minds there's no way anyone could not want to play/live in NY. There are people who swear by NY and there are people, myself included, who have lived there and left without feeling any real need to go back. You don't hear nearly this much complaining when a player passes up the Steelers, Packers, Celtics, Lakers, Canadiens, etc. It's mind numbing how there's no reason a player would want to play in Philly or Chicago or Miami instead of NY.

On another note: Happy New Year

your favourite sun said...

It seems as though there is no longer an ironclad rule in sports that if athletes want to prove their mettle, they go to New York.

When was there an "ironclad rule"? Did Stan Musial play in New York to prove himself? Did Michael Jordan?

Alex Rodriguez, who ironically came to New York in 2004 for the same reason Lee and LeBron avoided New York.

Actually, he went to New York for the same reason Garnett went to Boston--a better place to compete for titles. They were both technically traded, too, so she's comparing apples and oranges. And even then she's getting it wrong because Lee and LeBron also based their decisions at least in part on title-winning capabilities.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I don't dislike New York but the idea you have to win a championship there to be in the big time and challenge yourself the most is stupid.

There are higher expectations for the Phillies this upcoming year. I would say they are even higher than the Yankees, at least from neutral baseball fans. The Yankees have to to contend with the Red Sox and (possibly) the Rays in the AL East. The Phillies have a slightly easier road in the NL East. I agree, I think there is more pressure based on how the Phillies have built up their team.

Also, Cashman needs to tell everyone to shut up. It is not panic time. The Yankees are going to be very, very good this year.

The deal to Boston was nixed b/c of the money A-Rod was giving up. He didn't want to go to NY at first.

I think a player should go where he wants to in free agency and if he thinks NY is the place then go there. Maybe there is some more pressure from all the media, but other than that there is going to be pressure on guys like James and Lee no matter where they go.

Happy New Year to you too.

Sun, need we make a list of players who proved their mettle and didn't play in New York? Just in basketball the list would be long. It's a great point on your part and shows that JemeHill is wrong about this.

James and Lee did base their decisions on winning championships, so I guess they didn't see NY as the place. This is obviously a point against them for some reason. It doesn't lessen the pressure either. Someone should ask LeBron James if he feels less pressure in Miami than he thinks he would have in NY.

Dylan said...

Being from New York, I think the only difference between New York fans and other fans is that New Yorkers are unrealistic. The Yankee's success has clouded our judgment for other teams, and that's why people perceive that it's harder to win in New York. Obviously this is not true, but I think this it where it stems from.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, I figured you would chime in at some point. I would probably trade some of the unrealism for how strongly it appears New Yorkers feel for their teams. That's probably another discussion for another day.

It's believed NY is the greatest city in the world and so with that belief comes the idea a player can't earn his mettle until he has succeeded there. I think that's where a lot of it stems from.

I think what you say is right and you would know better than I do, but because they are unrealistic they think it takes a better person to succeed there. The media spotlight is harsher, but I am not sure if a player doesn't play in NY he has avoided any pressure.

Martin said...

This also shows that Hill has the memory of someone who never lived in a non-free agent era in sports. To continue the Stan Musial was he, or when did any great baseball player who wasn't already on a NY based team, supposed to test their mettle in NYC? In the olden days (before the mid 70's pretty much) players lived and died on the teams they first signed with, unless they got traded. There was no demanding trades either.

So to ask again....when was the iron clad rule in effect? Who thought it up? And why is Jemele Hill such a god awful writer?

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, great point about Musial. Players either got traded or played for the same team their entire career.

This idea was created by ESPN, overall perception and other writers over the last 20 years and no one knows why JemeHill is so terrible.