Yankees' Michael Fishman confirms audit was somehow even dumber than expected

Is there anyone smart anywhere doing anything?
Nov 7, 2023; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media
Nov 7, 2023; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman speaks to the media / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the Yankees' disappointing 2023 season wound down, Hal Steinbrenner announced that he'd be taking the unprecedented step of hiring an outside firm to evaluate his team's analytics practices. They would leave no stone unturned in diagnosing the problems of their current operation, even if it took a few painful dismissals to reach the truth.

Then, when the outside firm showed up, the Yankees closed their books, locked them, threw away the key and buried them at the bottom of the ocean. I, for one, am excited about all the fruitful conversation this exciting union is sure to bring moving forward!

Assistant GM Michael Fishman appeared in front of the media at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday and delivered a bout of word salad that can't possibly have been prepared. After going cross-eyed and spitting out, "Synergy," "Interactivity," and "Collaboration" in several different orders, Fishman revealed that the team's partnership with Zelus Analytics involved zero participation from the Yankees' side. Instead, New York's braintrust agreed to read Zelus' work and ... learn from it? Discard it immediately?

Regardless, this is even more of a sham than when we realized the Yankees weren't being properly audited, but had instead simply chosen to invite some experienced people in the door to share how they'd achieved their goals. Turns out, the door was closed and the Zelus people just left a packet of papers outside.

Yankees Assistant GM Michael Fishman: Zelus Analytics didn't do a real audit and our books were closed

It's like executives always say. All good conversations about change happen exclusively between the same, stale people every single day for 20 years. The chain must remain unbroken. No new friends.

As we feared back in early November when the team's partnership with Zelus was announced, this could certainly just be one of those situations where two clients are mashed together and asked to make nice, for the sake of public appearances. Like when your aunt's friend's son wants to get into sports media, so you grab a Sweetgreen with them and tell them the hours aren't that bad, really (while you try to get a pine nut's skin out from between your teeth). Zelus is affiliated with AC Milan, the Italian soccer team that Hal Steinbrenner owns a stake in, via its cofounder. And does that really make this an "outside" operation, in any capacity?

Leave it to Fishman to lessen our understanding of things significantly simply by opening his mouth. He revealed, on Monday, that changes are "in discussion," but have yet to be implemented. They have, however, been planned for. No word yet on whether they've also been "tossed around," "circled back to," or "looped in regarding."

Wow. Every time he speaks, it's like Jimi Hendrix reading me calculus.

Fishman and his cohorts appear to be in the clear, whether they glean anything from Zelus' backlog of gibberish or not. It would behoove the Yankees to take a real look at the type of information a successful analytics firm feeds its athletes (Zelus has Dodgers ties), but why would they do anything that might behoove them, especially if there are no consequences for keeping the status quo chugging along?

Everyone, from Fishman to Cashman to Steinbrenner, knows that if any outside group aimed at removing inefficiencies ever took a look at the Yankees with a red pen, they'd find endless names to rearrange. Luckily, for those in danger, it'll take five or six more moribund seasons before anyone even considers it. But hey, Zelus, thanks for the packet! The fire was getting a little low anyway.