Spring Training means many things. It means the snow is melting (well, mostly). It means I have a non-political reason to pay attention to what goes in in Arizona and Florida. It means, above all things, hope and hype. We know all about the former and the mythology that goes along with it. Perhaps mythology is a strong word, but every year we hear that Spring Training means everyone has a shot; it’s everyone’s year! We know that’s false, but it’s still fun to put the blinders on every so often and buy into that stuff. What’s dangerous, though, is when we buy too much into the hype.
For that reason, I’m asking that we avoid buying into–and using–hyperbolic language. We’ve heard a lot about two guys in particular: Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero. There is good reason for this, obviously. The former has had a great spring and the latter has all the upside you could want, and the probability to back it up. Still, while listening to the radio and watching the games on TV, I’m not exactly loving what I’m hearing out of the mouths of hosts and announcers.
Despite his vehement denial of this position, people are still wondering if Brian Cashman will let Banuelos break camp with the team. They acknowledge what Cash has said, but then always follow with “Oh, well, we’ll see him at some point this season.” I don’t necessarily disagree with that position. The likelihood of Banuelos reaching the Bronx at some point in 2011 is at least decently high. But if he doesn’t make the Majors in 2011, would that be awful? Consider, friends, that the dude just turned 20. And, he’s never pitched above AA and has limited innings there as it is. There is some great polish on Manny already but there’s growing left to be done ans seasoning left to be had. I have a feeling that many will be disappointed if Banuelos isn’t in the Majors quickly in 2011 and that would be a mistake. There’s definitely stuff to back up the hype surrounding him, but we can’t let that distort our perceptions of prospects and what’s good for them as well as the team.
Last night during the game, Buster Olney relayed that some scouts were going and comparing Jesus Montero to Edgar Martinez. Now, I’m sure that’s just meant in terms of hitting style, but the announcers twisted the statement in such a way that they may’ve been comparing Montero and Martinez in terms of results. Things like this make me cringe. It doesn’t make me cringe for myself or the people reading this. Chances are if you’re reading this page, you’re more than just a casual fan of baseball and the Yankees. It’s for those people that I cringe. This isn’t to insult their intelligence, but if a casual fan hears a bunch of pretty well-respected baseball men on ESPN mention Jesus Montero and Edgar Martinez in the same breath, that fan might get ideas. That fan might be disappointed when Montero comes up and doesn’t have an all-time great batting line. I guess, though, that blame falls on the announcers. They should know better than to say things like that. And if they do slip and say things like that, they need to learn to qualify their statements. Quickly.
There’s nothing wrong with hoping prospects are going to live up to the hype surrounding them. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little gaga over them. There is, though, a problem when that sort of language becomes pervasive and begins to distort the fan’s (or analyst’s) view of the player or of the current baseball reality. If we cannot shake our heads and release ourselves from those thoughts, that’s dangerous. And it needs to be avoided at all costs.
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