Thursday, November 5, 2009

San Diego and the Bronx

Some of the best scouts in baseball have worked for the Padres. One of them, Damon Oppenheimer, now has more World Series rings than he does fingers on one hand --- one for the thumb coming on Wednesday when the Yankees thumped the Phillies.

Number five was especially cool for Oppenheimer, New York's vice-president of scouting since 2004, because players he drafted such as Joba Chamberlain , Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and David Robertson assisted the pinstriped run to World Series title No. 27.

"Seeing so many of our kids come up and contribute to this team -- that would be the most gratifying thing," Oppenheimer said today.

Maybe you hate the Yankees because their payroll is more than $200 million. Maybe you'd rather they not win another title in this century. Can't say that I blame you.

I refer to the Yankees as the Death Star -- cold and ruthless.

The rival Red Sox are The Matrix, equally ruthless and nearly as laden with resources.

I told the Smartest Man in Baseball last month that America should thank the Angels for sparing us a Yankees-Red Sox American League Championship Series and all of the East Coast ego and hype that comes with it. He laughed from his CEO's office at Yawkey Way, then protested the comparison. "The Yankees spend $40 million, $50 million more than we do on ballplayers," he said, and he's right, but that's warm beer to the rest of the baseball world.

Full disclosure: I enjoyed reporting on and watching Yankees teams that won the World Series in 1996, 1998 1999 and 2000. Rivera, Posada, Jeter, Pettitte are winners, hardly a blinding insight but not just a cliche. They're also as likeable as their public personas. And they all were signed and groomed by the Yankees, a tribute to the team's scouting and player development.

Which brings me back to Oppenheimer. Hired by Tom Romanesko and Randy Smith to scout for the Padres in 1988, he worked as an area scout and cross-checker until 1993, then joined the Yankees to scout amateur players in the Midwest.

In time, he earned the trust of not only GM Brian Cashman but The Boss.

He said he's elated for manager Joe Girardi, who ably replaced manager Joe Torre.

If you think of the Yankees as robber barons, fine. Oppenheimer disagrees.

"It really has become a true family atmosphere here," he said. "That's what really made it gratifying this year. You felt like you were such a big part of it. It's a good place to be."

One more quote: "You get used to winning. Winning's a good thing. That's why you do it, isn't it? That's why I do it."

New York's World Series title also will send a diamond ring to former Padres scout Jay Darnell, hired by the Yankees as a pro scout after the 2006 season. Oppenheimer and Darnell can compare their rings with the two won this decade by The Matrix. Boston's ranks include no fewer than six former Padres scouts or talent evaluators.


  1. I thought I was the smartest man in baseball? congrats to cheaters arod and pettit. wonder how i would have felt if the pads had won in 98, then found out half the team were cheaters. but thats the modern sports world we live in

  2. Despite rooting for the Phillies, I was happy that Jeter and Rivera had a good postseason.
    Also, I agree that the Yankees payroll talk does tend ignore all the talent they have produced.
    As for your "East Coast Ego" comment; I don't think it makes sense. The World Series was between Philadelphia and New York.
    I usually enjoy your writing, but provincial nonsense such as that only makes you look like a petty sore loser. Your concern should be the failures of the Padres and the ownership. Inferiority complexes and stereotypes don't teach me anything.

  3. @Matthew Housekeeper
    "I usually enjoy your writing, but provincial nonsense such as that only makes you look like a petty sore loser.

    Sore loser? TK's a beat writer not a fan!

    I would first posit that the comment about "East Coast Ego" was used to elicit a bold response from the SMIB.....because those types of responses tend to make for an interesting read.

    Secondly, I would call attention to the following quote which I saw from several Yankee fan friends after they had clinched the WS:
    "Finally! The championship is back where it belongs!"

    If that isn't the definition of "East Coast Ego", then what is ?

  4. Mr Avenger,
    The name of your blog was formerly I HATE THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.
    I went back and looked at your posts from April and May.
    Your credibility on the subject of provincialism seems rather thin.

  5. @Housekeeper

    No shit guy. I don't need to go back and read your comments from my posts in April and May because I rarely forget delusion. You never fail to miss the big picture and always fail to acknowledge the inherent nature of sports coverage:

    --It will always be biased because West Coast games don't finish by the time East Coast papers go to print.
    --Fans will also be biased because they have long gone to sleep before these games finish.

    You are kookoo for Coco Puffs if you actually believe the shit that you type and you prove how clueless you are every time you try to discredit me by QUOTING ME AS A SOURCE. My blog currently has a picture of Southpark's Eric Cartman licking tears from Bill Belichick's face for Pete's sake....a good amount of it is in jest and satirical by nature. The fact that I have to spell that out for you shows how myopic some people are.

    So before you try and come back with your clever little reply, try and answer the original question:

    ----"Finally! The championship is back where it belongs!"

    If that isn't the definition of "East Coast Ego", then what is ?------

    I expect you to comment because you're a last word type of guy, however I won't hold my breath waiting for you to answer the question.