Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How Has the Tanaka Situation (and Its Coverage) Devolved?

Have you ever seen those "Human Devolution" images? They play off the more common human evolution paradigm, but are meant to poke fun at our diminishing sophistication as a species. Here are a few examples:

Well, I feel like the past few days of Masahiro Tanaka news have followed a similar devolutionary pattern. Let's look at some of the news headlines first. Over the last few days, in order, here are the Tanaka-related headlines on
  • "Tanaka looks ready to reclaim dominance" (April 3)
  • "Tanaka expects pitch speeds to be lower" (April 4)
  • "Tanaka tripped up as Yankees fall in home opener" (April 6)
  • "Yanks don't believe health hampered Tanaka" (April 6)
  • "Yankees confident Tanaka can succeed with guile" (April 7)
That's a pretty crappy turn of events over just a few days. From the righty seeming "ready to reclaim dominance" (presumably putting Tanaka on par with aces like Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale) to the club feeling he can "succeed with guile" (likening him to schlubs like Mark Buehrle and Chris Young), we see a massive shift in the span of a few short days. And all five of the headlines above are objective statements; Tanaka's realistic outlook for this season has unquestionably deteriorated.

In addition to the devolution of Tanaka's actual situation, many of the hot takes surrounding the starter have degenerated even more drastically. In response to those hot takes, Greg Kirkland from Pinstripe Alley did a good job of reminding us that Tanaka's decision to forego Tommy John surgery was based on advice from medical experts. Furthermore, Kirkland pointed out that it's far too easy to get swept up in what he called the "Shoulda got TJ" hysteria. (I know what he means, because I've almost gotten caught up in it.) In particular, John Harper's alarmist column in the Daily News has drawn criticism from Kirkland and others because ... well, just look at this:

Opinion pieces like this bring us ever further from headlines like "Tanaka looks ready to reclaim dominance." Whether you consider just the facts of the last few days or also take into account the reactions of panicked fans and media members, Tanaka Devolution is upon us. And it's depressing to the point that this image seems most appropriate:


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