Thursday, July 31, 2008

How Farnsworth Got His Worth Back

Like any self-respecting New Yorker, I don’t totally know how to operate a car. Sure, I can. Legally. But that doesn’t mean I can actually. They’re busy at the DMV. A lot of stuff falls through the cracks, and I am sure that a license or two gets awarded on occasion that has not been truly earned. All that being said, while I’ve had my license for a relatively short time given my age, I have managed to iron out at least a few of the kinks on the road. For the most part, I know what I’m doing well enough to get from point A to point B intact. There remains, however, one aspect of driving that still confounds me. (Well, one leaving aside the obvious, which is going in reverse—an insane thing to be expected to do in a motorized vehicle.) Lane changing. A part of me gets the need for multiple lanes on major thoroughfares to facilitate the movement of many cars going long distances. But another part of me wonders what kind of deranged lunatic set up a system whereby motorized death traps going sixty to eighty miles per hour would have to weave in and out of each other in order to travel efficiently or avoid accidentally getting off at the wrong exit on the freeway. (I hate exit only lanes. Since we got rid of Jeff Weaver, they are the new bane of my existence.)

I know that I am pretty much alone in this sentiment, but I actually believe that lane changing is something that is nearly impossible to do alone. Do fighter pilots both navigate and fly their planes? Uh, no. So how can I be expected to assess that it’s safe to maneuver my vehicle to the next lane over without hitting something without someone else there to give me the OK? Sure, there are the mirrors. But what about the blind spot? Sure, I can look over my shoulder, but it seems almost Evel Knievel crazy to me to take my eyes off of what’s going on in front of me so that I can see what’s going on behind me. Starting to get what I am saying? Two man job. And believe me, if anyone is riding in my passenger seat, they are required to pull their weight by becoming an active participant in the lane changing experience.

I have spent the past week out of the City and, therefore, in a car. I have been driving my parents’ car, which has enabled me not only to reacquaint myself with Billy Joel but also to discover the joy and wonder of driving with a GPS. (For the record, “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” = best song ever. Other than “Kokomo” and “Low” by Flo Rida, obviously.) I’ve got news for you all. Not only does the GPS system make driving more convenient, but it happens to make driving not scary. For someone who lives in mortal fear of every lane change, the GPS(ours is called Brigitte – hard G) allows me the freedom to relax, comfortable in the knowledge that she’ll let me know if I need to change lanes—in advance, lots of times. There are those of you who complain that she warns you of the upcoming turn, perhaps, TOO many times. I, on the other hand, like that she’s so thorough, that she tells you early and keeps on telling you until she knows you’ve successfully executed the necessary turn. Having time to prepare for the lane change, knowing it can never take you by surprise, robs the lane change of its power. Brigitte has imbued me with a new confidence. She’s made me a better driver. And if I ever have a car of my own, I’m willing to pay any price to make sure she’s included in the package. Even if it means I won’t be trading in my Chevy for a Cadillac-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack. Brigitte is, without a doubt, worth every penny they charge for her.

While we’re assessing worth, I think it’s safe to say that the pitcher once dubbed Farnsworthless by one of the members of my Yankees crew is not so worthless anymore. In fact, he’s so the opposite that he managed the near impossible feat of landing us 14-time All-Star Pudge Rodriguez in a trade with Detroit—all by himself.

The last time I was in the Bronx, I saw someone wearing a shirt that said, “Anyone but Farnsworth.” It’s a shirt that pretty much sums up the feelings that most of us shared about Farnswoth during his first couple of seasons with us. You only really wanted to see him when you were down by so much that there was no conceivable way to win and, since you couldn’t forfeit, you figured you might as well tire him out rather than one of the real pitchers. What a difference a year makes. His ERA is down 3.65 from last year’s 4.80, and he has become a reliable go-to guy in the 8th. It’s hard to say to what we owe this improvement, but it is not impossible that Girardi, who used to play with Farnsworth, had something to do with it. Girardi promised us from the beginning that he knew how to get something out of Farnsworth, and that he did.

On the heels of the discovery that Jorge is going to need season-ending surgery on his throwing arm, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Cash did us proud with this one. He not only found a way to fill the Posada void, but he did it with a 13-time Gold Glove winning, possible future Hall of Fame catcher, who—let’s face it—is adorable. And all we had to give them was the pitcher formerly known as Farnsworthless. Sounds like a pretty good swap to me.

Last year, Farnsworth sucked so much that people who were supposed to be cheering for him made t-shirts about it. This year, he’s actually been a critical part of our relief staff, giving us a much needed dependable setup man. The irony of it all is that it makes more sense to trade him now than it did then because we are actually able to get something decent out of the exchange. Call me sentimental, but I think there’s something a little sad about the reality that, right when a player like Farnsworth is performing at his best, it’s the optimal time to get rid of him.

I am one of the rare few Yankees fans you’ll talk to who always kind of liked Farnsworth. Despite the yelling, the punching, the sucking, I always felt somehow compelled to cheer for him. (Chalk it up to my bad boy complex. I’m also a pretty big fan of Milton Bradley’s, was always rooting for Strawberry and still have not gotten over the loss of Paul O’Neill, who’s not your typical baseball bad boy, but no one can deny that the man knew how to throw a tantrum.) I derived a certain amount of pleasure from the fact that Farnsworth was finally pulling it together, and so I can’t help but feel a little bad about the fate that he’s met as a result. No matter what you think about the guy, you’d have to be made of stone to not have felt the least bit stirred by his tearful response to the discovery of the trade. This is not to say we erred in our decision making because we might have hurt someone’s feelings. However, I do think it’s important to remember that, while we trade our players like commodities, there is a human element.

There are of course certain players who don’t deserve to be thought of as human because they suck so much, and one of them is Manny. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who those guys are because they often have no-trade clauses in their contracts and could never be treated as a commodity without their consent anyway. Looks like Manny might be headed to Miami to be Manny there. Good for us. Sucks for the Mets. Just want to let you know, Manny, that wherever you may wander, I’m always going to think you’re an idiot.

The Angels got Teixeira. As though they weren’t already good enough. Four game series starting tonight. Let’s hope our boys are girding their loins.

Oh, and I think it should go without saying that Pudge doesn’t get to be chastised for his nickname because—I mean, really—who chooses that?


Edmond said...

First off, I like the fact that there's hope for me to get rid of my fear of the automobile. GPS sounds great. I love people telling me what to do in a soothing voice.

Next, I beg to differ in the most terrifying aspect to driving is changing lanes. To me, it's changing lanes being the passenger. No control. Terrifying stuff.

And lastly, Farnsworth. I'd like to say that I don't give a shit, or that I might even be happy, but Farnsworth, because of his looks was my fiance's favorite player. Thanks a lot, Cashman! I now am going to be watching substantially less baseball on TV. Pudge is hideous. He's like the baseball version of Luis Guzman. Not like that's a bad thing, but ya know what I'm sayin'.

koala said...

Gotta agree with Edmond, except I'd like to raise his opening bid.....the most horrifying thing on the road is to be a motorcycle passenger during said lane changes. It's just plain awful.

And as far as Teixeira to the Angels goes...with their rotation being what it is this year and Krod looming...if they aren't World Series and therefor World Champion bound, I'm a monkey's uncle.

Melanie Greenberg said...

i hate to have to disagree with you both on this one, but i do. in all other aspects of my life, i would prefer to be in control. but i know what kind of driver i am, and i assure you that anyone is better equipped to execute a lane change than am i. not to mention the fact that, if something should happen, at least it's not on me.

my sympathies, edmond, for your decreased viewing time. i do see where your fiancee is coming from, though. farnsworth was a very handsome yankee. for whatever it's worth, this indicates that your fiancee is not without good taste.

i agree, koala, that the angels are going to be the biggest challenge for everyone this postseason. but i also think that there are certain factors that you can never account for in advance. so i'd be careful before you get TOO bold with predictions or you may find yourself to be a monkey's uncle after all.