October 25, 2007

Goudey Trade-away #50: Torre and Bellhorn for Abreu and Duke

This trade comes in from Rob in Santee, California.

Giving: Bobby Abreu, #16 (red back); Zach Duke, #100
Getting: Mark Bellhorn, 2005 Topps Post-Season Highlights; Joe Torre 2007 Topps

As a lifelong Red Sox fan, it brings me a little sadness that the two best things about this trade have to do with the cards of the Yankees. First off, I've been on the record as liking this Goudey set for a while now, and this card of Bobby Abreu is just another feather in its cap.

My friend has labeled the Jim Rice card a forgotten Warhol portrait. In the same vein, the hint of stadium, the Rothko-esque blocks of red – the fact that this card is of Abreu is irrelevant. The real star of the card – and for the most part, this set – is the background image.

The other card that really makes this trade is the Joe Torre. Rob writes: "The second card I hate– not because it's Joe Torre, but that woman behind him! A real lazy hand over your heart!" Yes, she's sort of lackadaisical, but isn't that the new Yankee Mystique? (and why hasn't some opportunistic, enterprising sweatshop come out with Yankee Mystique Bodyspray yet?) Think about it: The Yankees have been coasting for almost ten years now.

They're making great money in merchandising, they've put together a team of All-Stars who fill seats, plus they make going to a game a beat-you-over-the-head, All-American patriotic experience (where else do they sing 'God Bless America' during the seventh-inning stretch at every home game?). So who cares if their lineup is anchored by a guy whose post-season psyche is so far ruined that the best thing for his team to do would be to leave him off the post-season roster or trade him to a team that has no chance of making the playoffs? (And yes, I'm talking about A-Rod. Really, the smartest thing for him to do is sign with a team like the Giants: world class city, passionate, knowledgeable fans, tiny daily sports section in the major paper, and a team that's really not very good.) The traditional Yankee Mystique of continuous winning isn't an undisputed fact or a fog that clouds the minds of the opposition like a South Bronx Brigadoon anymore: it's a brand.

So back to this card of Joe Torre. He's one of the best managers ever, no question. But 2007 for the Yankees was like the last year of The Gilmore Girls: coasting on past laurels, with bad writing and a sloppy ending unworthy of it's former glory. It's almost as if Torre knows he's at the helm of a ship about to run out of gas at sea.

Oh sure, you're probably thinking, it's easy for me to say all this the day after my beloved Red Sox laid a beating on the Rockies, but just look at him on this card: He's tired. He's been there. He's done that. He knows that the road to the World Series no longer runs through New York (and may not for a while).

So here's to being the one man in that New York dugout that Red Sox fans really feared, to twelve years of giving me baseball-related ulcers, and to hoping that if Torre does come back to manage, he goes to the National League.

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