The Back Of The Bubblegum Card Tells Much

Books, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

The Red Sox are going to finish ahead of the Yankees in the standings this year. That doesn’t preclude the Yankees from making the playoffs; doesn’t mean they won’t be dangerous if they make it, but the Red Sox are still better.

Bad starts, ridicule, laughter, panic—inside and outside the organization—aside, the two teams can be judged based on their players and prior performances. Looking at the back of the bubblegum card is not the end-all/be-all of analysis, but once you look at the individual histories of the rosters as currently constituted, the Red Sox are better over the long haul of 162 games.

Russell Martin‘s story is engaging enough, but the attacks on Dodgers GM Ned Colletti for non-tendering Martin (the public “thank yous” from Yankee fans) aren’t simply premature, they’re idiotic. The Dodgers were right to non-tender Martin. He’d been injury-prone; his numbers were declining from his rising superstar heights in 2008; he’d run the bases poorly; and his attitude was in question. It’s possible that health was his main obstacle; that he needed a change-of-scenery; or it might be that the American League hasn’t learned how to pitch to him yet.

Paranoia surrounds Phil Hughes and his overly-discussed and analyzed lost velocity; what makes it worse is that it’s being dissected by people who don’t know anything about anything, let alone pitching.

You can look at the career numbers of Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez and feel safe that they’ll perform at or close to their career levels. But the starting rotation is looking worse and worse; and in comparison to that of the Red Sox—atrocious start and all—it’s far weaker top-to-bottom.

Everyone invested in the Yankees success in any way still holds their collective breaths when A.J. Burnett is pitching; Ivan Nova, Hughes and the fifth starter grouping of FreddyGarciaBartoloColonKevinMillwoodCarlosSilva is frightening to contemplate if they have to rely on that amalgam all season.

Like Martin, Colon has done well; like Martin, it’s probably an anomaly.

It’s endemic of New York and Yankee fandom to take the smallest positive or negative and turn it into a cause célèbres. They had the “best bullpen in the universe”…until Rafael Soriano gacked up a game.

The “bubblegum card” argument does nothing but bolster the Red Sox credentials as the better team.

Do you think Kevin Youkilis will be hitting .148 in May 1st? That Carl Crawford will be at .132? That Clay Buchholz will allow over 2 homers a start? That John Lackey can possibly be as bad as he’s been so far?

Much as the Yankees are shocked by the play of Martin and Colon, the Red Sox are shocked in the opposite direction by the terrible starts en masse from most of their roster.

The difference is that the Red Sox players have a history to rely on and are at an age where expecting them to return to form is a near-guarantee.

Can the Yankees say that?

It won’t continue.

Even if their fan bases and media hordes don’t know this, the clubs themselves do.

The Yankees had better find some starting pitching.




Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on

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2 thoughts on “The Back Of The Bubblegum Card Tells Much

  1. The back of the bubblegum card tells me that Beckett, Lackey and Matsuzaka have all trended into 5+ ERA pitchers in the AL East. Ironically enough, it also tells me that you are an idiot and there’s a reason “we’ve never heard of you”.

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