Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sure, Jim Leyritz would listen if the Yankees called

Leyritz is openly lobbying for a coaching job under Joe Girardi.

As a Braves fan, I am morally obligated to hate Leyritz for that homer in Game 4 in 1996, but there are other reasons to keep him out of the clubhouse if Girardi is so inclined.

The Elias Rankings

Wanna know who's a type A and who's a type B free agent? Your wish is the USA Today's command:

American League
National League

Plan D -- suspended for 25 games

There are a lot of teams who need a centerfielder next season but won't be able to afford what Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, or Aaron Rowand will demand. For many of them, Mike Cameron is plan D.
Now it seems that Plan D is going to miss the first 25 games of the season due testing positive for a banned supplement.

On the bright side, Plan D will likely come even cheaper because of it . . . .

Cashman Doesn't Care About the World Series

OK, maybe he would if the Yankees were in it, but if not, forget it:

Brian Cashman fell asleep Sunday night reading a story to his son, Teddy. His cell phone, in another room, kept ringing, mostly calls from reporters trying to reach the New York Yankees general manager for his reaction to Alex Rodriguez opting out of his contract. Cashman's wife woke him up at about 10:30 and he checked his messages.

I think it's sweet that he's reading young Teddy to sleep -- I read stories to ShysterDaughter on nights when she isn't preoccupied with weightier material -- but I do find it, I dunno, strange that a general manager of a major league baseball team isn't watching the deciding game of the World Series.

Neyer on Girardi

Neyer (on Insider -- just pay for it and quit whining) assessing the potential of Joe Girardi in the Yankee dugout:

Depending on what the Yankees do this winter, next season might be sort of a down year for the organization as they try to sort out their young pitchers. But if the Steinbrothers are patient with Girardi, I believe he'll be the franchise's greatest manager since Casey Stengel.

Clyde King -- you've been officially called out.

Warning: Non-Baseball Item

We're going to have some of these this offseason, so deal with it.

After baseball, I'm a college football fan, and I usually read Pat Forde's weekly "Forde Yard Dash" column at I like it because, while not necessarily in-depth reporting, it does tend to cut a pretty wide swath, covering a lot of teams and stories to which I may not otherwise have paid attention.

One thing about it just bugs me, though, and that's his "Putting out an APB for . . ." item, in which he names a college player from the last 10-20 years and asks readers to email him with any info they have on what he's doing these days. Often the player himself will contact Forde and a week or two later we will read about how he runs a Ford dealership in Montgomery or coaches a high school team in San Berdoo or something.

I experience unspecified dread every time he puts out an ABP for a new player, though, because I am convinced that it will finally be the week where the guy named will be found to have died in an unpublicized boating accident in 1996 or is doing time for child rape or something similarly awful. Maybe Forde pre-screens these to avoid such nastiness, but then why the need for the APB?

Maybe this says more about me than the item. I just thought I'd throw it out there.

Peanuts and Cracker Jack

The latest story about ballparks taking a night and setting aside a section in the press box or club level or something for kids with peanut allergies. The Twins did something like this earlier this year, and I think a couple of other teams have done it too. It's a neat idea.

However -- and please don't take this as criticism of these events or the kids or anything because it certainly is not -- where were all the kids with peanut allergies 20-30 years ago? There were never any special accommodations for kids with such allergies like those described in the story (e.g. separate tables in cafeterias) when I was a kid, nor do I remember any of my school chums going into anaphylactic shock due to the proximity of a Snickers bar. Flash forward to last Wednesday when I had to bring snacks for my daughter's preschool, and I pretty much had to sign a blood oath that I wouldn't so much as think of a peanut for three days on either side.

I don't mean to sound cranky -- my brief Googling of the subject reveals that, yessir, this is a real problem and that kids are dying from peanut allergies -- I just have no idea where it came from.

Rosenthal's Notes

The hardest working man in show business thinks that the Mets are a good, or at least likely fit for A-Rod:

A-Rod would be something of a square peg in a round hole for the Mets, but the team could make this work. Not by trading Reyes, a dumb idea if there ever was one. No, by trying to make the pieces fit . . . Moving Reyes, 24, back to second would be counter-productive; Rodriguez, 32, probably would only be average at short, a position he has not played regularly since 2003. Wright, who turns 25 on Dec. 20, is too athletic to move to first, but possesses the speed and instincts to play left.

I'm not sure why, if moving Reyes to 2B is counterproductive, moving Wright to left isn't. If anything, taking a plus bat at third base and sticking it in left devalues it far more than taking a solid, but not necessarily exceptional bat at short and moving it to second, especially when you have a relative bargain of an option ($7.5M) on Moises Alou in left.

I've said it a couple of times already, but the Mets make the least sense to me out of any horse in the A-Rod derby. Not only do they not have a position for him, but they happen to play in New York, and I am convinced that A-Rod wants the hell out of New York. I think Boras will use the Mets to drive up bids from others, but a deal between them makes no sense for either side.


The Pirates will interview White Sox bench coach Joey Cora for their managerial vacancy, according to major-league sources . . .Cora, 42, graduated from Vanderbilt in 1985 with a degree in economics . . .

I didn't know that about Cora. I love learning that kind of stuff about players. That said, if he has an econ degree from a good school like Vandy, he's smart enough to know that taking the Pirates' job is a big mistake.

Parking Pass Gate

Teams are apparently tipped off in advance of drug tests because the testers call ahead and ask for parking passes and to have a room set up for them in which to conduct tests.

My first impression was "eh, no big deal," because, hey, the guys gotta park. But the article does a good job of comparing and contrasting how the NFL handles this -- their testers get permanent parking passes and a dedicated testing area and can literally just show up with no warning.

There's a hysterical quote in there from some doping expert about how this is "scandalous." I don't agree, and I question whether this loophole has ever actually tipped anyone off. It is a problem of perception, however, and one that seems easily fixable, so why not fix it?

Dusty Gets Moving

The Dusty Baker Unit has been mobilized:

The player personnel decisions are likely to elicit a little more fan angst. And some decisions have to be made quickly. The Reds hold options on Eddie Guardado, Scott Hatteberg, Adam Dunn and Javier Valentin. Brandon Phillips, Matt Belisle and Jorge Cantu are eligible for arbitration.

The calls on those players ultimately go to general manager Wayne Krivsky. But Baker's going to have a say . . ."Most of that is Wayne [Krivsky's] department. But I'm there as an adviser."

Poor Krivsky. He's getting squeezed from the top by the hiring of Castellini and squeezed from the bottom by Dusty. Maybe they'll let him pick what toppings to order on the pizza every other week.

One of the things Baker said upon getting the job was that players had called him about coming to play in Cincinnati.

Reds fans, get ready for the Neifi Perez and Shawon Dunston experience!

One of Baker's first moves as manager will be to assess and try to improve the physical conditioning of the club . . ."It's very important what kind of shape we're in."

That sound you just heard was Adam Dunn dropping a pork chop and calling his agent to yell at him for allowing the Reds to have that team option.

[Chris] Speier also will serve as the bench coach, a position Baker relies on quite a bit. "I rely on him to see things I may overlook during the game: Is this guy guarding the line? Is this guy out of position?" Baker said. "I'll run things by him.

I'm having trouble finding it this morning, but I recall a dustup as Dusty was leaving the Cubs in which people accused him of indifference in the dugout because he was unable to see home plate from his favorite seat on the bench and didn't seem to care all that much. If that's true, Speier may be the single most important bench coach in the game.

OK, I'll admit that nothing in this article is really a cause of concern for Reds fans. It's the offseason, though, and I have to hone my Dusty Baker alarmism now so it is sharp once games resume.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First Day Free Agent Filers

They're listed over at

Because I have nothing to do until Grady Little gets fired later today, it seems like a good time for a random riff-fest:

Arizona: Cirillo, Jeff (3B); Hernandez, Livan (SP); Wickman, Bob (RP)

Jeff Cirillo is still alive? Cool. I always liked him. Hernandez was arguably the weakest link of the D-backs rotation, but he wasn't disastrous, and at $7M for 200+ innings, he was a relative bargain in this market. I'd probably try to sign him because, if for no other reason, you can count on him to take the ball every fifth day without complaint, and there is some value to that. Wickman is a head case. But he's a head case who can still pitch, so someone is going to sign him.

Atlanta: Franco, Julio (1B); Mahay, Ron (RP)

Looks like the end of the line for Julio. Look for a coaching job, mi amigo. Mahay is one of the few guys left who crossed the picket lines in 1995, and for that reason he is barred from getting dough for MLBPA-licensed merch. This led to the best video game pseudonym in history, when High Heat Baseball (2000 version, I believe) called him "Rod Mayday." I always loved that. Oh, and the Braves should re-sign him, because if what people are saying is true, the band is getting back together again, and since the band is getting pretty damn old, they're going to need as much bullpen help as they can get.

Chicago Cubs: Wood, Kerry L. (RP)

If, before I got online and checked this morning, you were to bet me $500 that Kerry Wood had pitched, at least a little bit, in every season since coming off of his 1999 surgery, I would have taken that action. But he has, putting in 24 more or less effective relief innings in 2007, coming in for nearly 20 innings last year, and pitching 66 in 2005. It's amazing to realize that he's still only 30 years-old. I'd like to think that Wood could pull a Tom Gordon and re-invent himself as a lights out reliever.

Cleveland: Nixon, Trot (OF)

I think Cleveland is satisfied with the dawn of the Franklin Gutierrez era.

Colorado: Affeldt, Jeremy (RP); Julio, Jorge (RP)

People in Kansas City were probably surprised that Affeldt put up 137 ERA+ the year after they dumped him, but at least the main guy they got back -- Scott Dohmann -- put up the same ERA+ in 2007. Unfortunately, he did that for the Rays, so that won't make them feel any better. Neither Affeldt nor Julio are irreplaceable, but if I'm Colorado and I have a couple of pitchers who showed some amount of success and mental stability pitching in Coors Field, I probably do what I can to keep them around.

Detroit: Casey, Sean T. (1B); Jones, Todd (RP)

Sean Casey has made over $40M as a power-free first baseman during the greatest hitting era of all time. Being well-liked pays dividends, I suppose. Unfortunately for Casey, the Rentaria pickup means Carlos Guillen will slide over to first, which will require him to utilize that extensive network to find a job. Thanks to Guitar Hero and a freak bullpen injury to Joel Zumaya, Todd Jones' resume now has around 50 more saves than it probably otherwise would have had, so that should help him sucker his way into another year or two worth of closer's paychecks.

Florida: Benitez, Armando (RP)

While some ex-fireballers manage to hang around after they lose their stuff, Benitez isn't the first person that comes to mind when you imagine a crafty old reliever surviving on guile and pluck. He's probably done.

Ausmus, Brad (C); Lamb, Mike (3B); Loretta, Mark D. (INF); Miller, Trever D. (RP); Moehler, Brian (RP); Palmeiro, Orlando (OF)

In 15 major league season, Ausmus has only had two years in which his bat could even be called average, and those both occured when Bill Clinton was in the White House. Since then, he has collected nearly $27 million in salary. What happens with Ausmus is probably a pretty good indicator as to whether the Astros are serious about rebuilding.

Kansas City: LaRue, Jason (C); Sanders, Reggie (OF)

Even though he laid a stinky egg in his one season playing for my Braves, I will always admire Reggie Sanders. He's one of the few guys who has truly earned all of the money he's made because he has never really been on a long term contract and thus is always playing for his next deal. Indeed, this is now the sixth time he has been granted free agency, and no one who has signed him has ever really been burned (he came to Atlanta via trade).

As Rob Neyer pointed out in his excellent Baseball Blunders book, Charlie O. Finely was the only guy -- other than Marvin Miller -- who realized that free agency could actually kill player salaries if every player was made a free agent every year, thus more accurately matching supply with demand. The example of Sanders makes me think that would have worked out just fine for all sides.

Los Angeles Angels:
Colon, Bartolo (SP)

Dave at U.S.S. Mariner believes that Colon is the "hidden gem" of this year's free agent class. He may very well be right.

Milwaukee: Cordero, Francisco (RP); King, Ray (RP); Koskie, Corey L. (3B); Linebrink, Scott (RP); Miller, Damian (C)

Cordero is probably a must-sign. Ray King is whatever the opposite of that is. Corey Koskie is redundant for two reasons: (1) Ryan Braun done went and Pipped him; and (2) there is a little-known law -- I think it was part of the Patriot Act -- that no organization or assembly of any kind can have more than one Corey as a member, and Mr. Hart fills that slot in Milwaukee. And before you ask, A&E is OK because it was grandfathered in.

Minnesota: Hunter, Torii K. (OF); Silva, Carlos (SP)

Hunter is gone. The Twins probably need to hold on to Silva, both because he's a decent pitcher and because he's apparently good buddies with Johan. But he is the kind of guy who is going to get really overpaid in this market, and I question whether Minnesota will try to match the kind of offers he's going to get from the Mets of the world. And besides, Santana may be gone anyway, so why overpay for his posse? Of course if they don't and Santana leaves, then who the hell pitches? Man, I'm glad I'm not running the Twins this winter.

NY Mets: Anderson, Marlon (OF); Castillo, Luis A. (2B); Castro, Ramon Abraham (C); Easley, Damion (INF); Green, Shawn (OF); Lo Duca, Paul (C)

Anderson ended up being pretty handy off the bench, but a lot of other people could be too. In Easley and Castillo the Mets are watching over half of their innings at second base walk away, but neither one seems like the solution, so Omar should keep watching. There's been talk about getting A-Rod and maybe moving Wright over there, but (a) I can't see Wright handling the position; (b) I can see his offense suffering if he were to try; and (c) I don't think A-Rod wants to be in New York anymore, whether it's the Bonx or Queens. Someone is going to end up taking a flyer on Marcus Giles. It may as well be the Mets.

NY Yankees: Mientkiewicz, Doug A. (1B); Posada, Jorge (C); Rivera, Mariano (RP); Rodriguez, Alex (3B); Vizcaino, Luis (RP)


Oakland: DaVanon, Jeff (OF); Stewart, Shannon H. (OF)

Stewart earned his $1 million in Oakland this year -- he did better than Piazza did for eight times that money -- but not much more. Anyone planning on paying him any more than that for 2008 is likely to get ripped off.

Philadelphia: Lieber, Jon (SP); Mesa, Jose (RP); Nunez, Abraham O. (3B); Rowand, Aaron (OF)

Word on the street is that Rowand wants $10M a year. Word on the street is also that the Yankees may go after him to fill the hole in centerfield that will open up when they trade Melky to the Twins to acquire Santana. If those words are to be trusted, I think Rowand will get his $10M a year.

Pittsburgh: Armas Jr., Tony (SP)

He's three years younger than Matt Morris and had an ERA+ one point lower. In crazy-ass Pirates land, that probably makes him worth $11M. The press conference will probably take place on Friday.

St. Louis: Cairo, Miguel J. (INF); Eckstein, David (SS); Percival, Troy (RP); Wells, Kip (SP)

Someone is going to fall for Eckstein's .309 average and his pedigree for scrappiness and offer him too much money. Cardinal fans had better hope it's not St. Louis, because he's not worth any more (and probably somewhat less) than the $4.5M he made last year. Percival's nice little comeback probably earned him a nice big paycheck for 2008, assuming his arm can handle a whole season. Which isn't necessarily a safe assumption.

San Diego: Barrett, Michael P. (C); Bradley, Milton (OF)

Both of these guys are going to finish their careers having made far less money than their talent should have earned them because, to put it bluntly, they're assholes. Hey, that gives me an idea! Since no one should pay Sean Casey anything to play first base, he should open up a finishing school for minor leaguers. I bet he could even get Scott Boras and other agents to go in halfsies on the startup costs.

San Francisco: Bonds, Barry (OF); Feliz, Pedro (3B)

One is still probably worth several million a year and one is not, yet the one that isn't is way more likely to get a contract before the one that is.

Toronto: Kennedy, Joe (P); Stairs, Matt (OF)

Like Reggie Sanders, this is Stairs sixth go-around on the free agency carousel. Also like Sanders, Stairs has never burned anyone, although Stairs has typically been a far bigger bargain than even Sanders has been. He just put up a hell of a season for Toronto at a bargain basement price. I love Stairs, so I hope someone pays him stupid money this year.

Washington: Fick, Robert (1B)

Speaking of stupid money, that's what you can all any amount over bus fare out of town that gets paid to Fick in 2008. He makes me pine for Rico Brogna. If there is any justice in this world, he'll be selling insurance or something next summer.

Yesterday at this time I was asking myself I was spending too much time writing about A-Rod. Given that the "gems" of the currently-declared free agents at this point are Matt Stairs, Bartolo Colon, Carlos Silva, and a handful of relief arms, I am not so worried about my priorities today.

Is Baseball Necessary?

The actual games, that is. The NYT's Virginia Heffernan examines.

Quick take: she's not totally right -- the games, you know, do matter -- but there is a lot of truth to what she's saying. I mean let's face it -- how much ShysterBall content is actually related to any one game, and how much of it deals with the stuff that surrounds it?

Why "Sox" and not "Socks"

We can thank Noah Webster, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Spelling Simplification Board.

That's "billion" with a B

MLB's revenues for 2007 are coming in at $6 billion. That's a 50 percent increase since 2004 and double the revenues from the long ago year of 2000.

The game, she is healthy.

Torre and Mattingly to the Dodgers

Not official yet, but several outlets are saying it's a done deal.

You know, I had planned on writing a post about how the off-season may affect the ShysterBall posting schedule, but if the news keeps up at the rate it's been for the past couple of days, I'm going to be busier around here than I was when, you know, actual baseball was happening.

If this does happen, I have to wonder if (a) it makes Los Angeles the front runner for A-Rod -- I think it does -- ; and (b) if Mattingly is going to get one of those Ray-Knight-in-Cincinnati-deals in which he's basically assured of becoming the next Dodgers manager after Torre decides to retire, on the theory that anyone not named Fredo can only handle being stepped over so often.

Irrationality in Flushing

Bob Klapisch is stirring a pot full of A-Rod to the Mets soup.

I don't buy it, mostly because I remain convinced that the Rodriguez's primary goal in all of this is to get out of New York, either because he doesn't like to be in the fishbowl, his wife has demanded a change of scenery, or both.

From the Mets perspective it makes no sense because they are set up just fine, thank you, on the left side of the infield with Wright and Reyes. Sure, there's talk in the article about David Wright taking one for the team and changing positions, but to move him to the right on the defensive spectrum this early in his career (a) devalues him; and (b) sends a signal to Rodriguez right out of the gate that he is a profoundly special person for whom the Mets will move Heaven and Earth. While I still don't believe a team signing him is selling its soul, the Mets jerking their future around like that is getting there.


Wright seemed to feel Rodriguez was a perfect match -- and that was before A-Rod blasted through the greatest regular season of the last 50 years.

Um, no.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Girardi to Manage Yankees

As expected, Girardi is the man in New York.

I think this is the right move. The only thing Mattingly had over him was popularity with casual fans and that doesn't strike me as a valid basis for choosing the next Yankee manager. It's a job where on-the-job training should not be required, and Girardi will not need it, either to handle the New York press or to run the ballclub.

Now, all Girardi has to get used to his writing the letters B-E-T-E-M-I-T into the lineup card at third base every day . . .

The Yankees Will Survive

It's still early in the post opt-out news cycle, but I'd like to take this opportunity to head off any Yankees backers -- or, more likely, Red Sox fans -- who will use the presumed departure of Rodriguez as the basis for predicting gloom and doom for New York:

Mariners' win totals in last three seasons with Rodriguez: 90, 76, 79.

Mariners win totals in the three seasons after he left: 116, 93, 93.

Rangers win totals in the three seasons they had Rodriguez: 73, 72, 71.

Rangers win totals in the four seasons after he left: 89, 79, 80.

Yankees win totals in the three seasons before getting A-Rod: 95, 103, 101

Yankees win totals in the four seasons since they've had him: 101, 95, 97, 94

Obviously there's a lot more that went into these win totals than the mere presence or absence of Rodriguez, but the idea that a team is simply going to crater without his production, or experience an otherworldly boost if he is added, is demonstrably false. If the money devoted to Rodriguez is spread around wisely -- and I think the Yankees are more likely to do that than the Rangers ever were -- there is no reason to think that the Yankees won't be able to stay where they are now or improve without him.

The bottom line is not whether the Yankees can afford whatever A-Rod will ultimately get. They can. But even Bill Gates buys a value meal once in a while, and there's no law that says even the Yankees should spend ridiculous amounts simply because they can, and simply because they have done it an awful lot recently. Even if they never embark on a wholesale rebuilding -- they don't need to -- the future of the Yankees is in their younger players, not their aging, expensive ones.

The Yankees will certainly feel the loss next year, but unless they totally woof their offseason, it will only sting a little bit, and long term, they may be much better off.

Caveat Emptor

Buster Olney on why anyone entering the A-Rod sweepstakes should beware:

The way this played out could not have been more apropos, because A-Rod needs to be bigger than the game; he needs to be more important than the Red Sox or the Rockies or any other team, or any other player. He is one of the greatest players in history at compiling statistics, the greatest ever at compiling wealth, and his next employer will have to buy into that. The World Series can't matter as much as A-Rod . . .

. . . Somebody will buy into A-Rod, of course. He's an extraordinary player. The cost will be hundreds of millions, and the heart and soul, of his next franchise.

Call it a hunch, but I think Olney is annoyed that he had come up with a few hundred words between the hours of 11pm and 5am on a topic he didn't expect to have to write about until next week.

Don't get me wrong. I agree that the timing was terrible -- no one ever accused Boras of having class or tact -- and I agree that any team that signs A-Rod had better understand that this isn't just any old free agent, but to actually come out and say that Rodriguez's next employer is literally selling its soul to sign him seems to me to be way the hell over the top.

Sox Win!

Please, celebrate responsibly Bostonians.

A-Rod Opts Out

It's seemingly official, according to

My quick take: While some have suggested that this is a dumb, or at least very premature move by Rodriguez given that he's likely to get a better offer from the Yankees than anyone else given the Rangers' subsidy on any extension he takes, I think this truly is a situation where money isn't everything. Yes I know that saying such a thing about A-Rod and Boras is to ignore everything we know about them, but I also think that everyone is underestimating just how much crap A-Rod has gone through in the past year or two.

For years he has been told that he is not a "true Yankee" and was booed by his home crowd as recently as this past April. If he was never a Yankee, tabloid reporters never would have been following him in Toronto. His wife never would have been humiliated (and she never would have been called out for her choice of t-shirts). If he's never a Yankee, about 100,000 words aren't written calling his character, fortitude, clutchiness, and manliness into question. In short, A-Rod's life has been pretty damn miserable in New York for the past few years, even if much of that misery was brought on himself.

Against that backdrop, I can very easily see a person a fraction as sensitive as A-Rod is typically made out to be saying "I am the best ballplayer in the world, and no matter what I do here, I am still going to be a target. F*ck them. I don't need them. I don't want them. I'll hit my 50 homers in SoCal or Detroit or someplace, go home each night without anyone tailing me, and wake up each morning without having to read I'm a loser. Scott -- opt out now."

And you know what? I don't blame him.

(cough) Bullsh*t (cough)

Everyone will link this story because it tips Girardi as the front runner for the Yankees' job. I'm linking it because it contains the biggest bunch of horse hockey I've seen in the past couple of weeks. Specifically, in connection with the Yankees' efforts to hold on to Alex Rodriguez:

Hank Steinbrenner said he would try to impress on Rodriguez the value of winning titles and making his legacy as a Yankee. He related a story of talking to Joe DiMaggio, who told him his championships would not have been half as meaningful if he had won them for any other team.

I call bullsh*t mostly because I can't feature Joe DiMaggio giving a young Hank Steinbrenner the time of day in his lifetime, let alone opening up to him about the glory and wonder of being a New York Yankee. This is the same Hank Steinbrenner, we must remember, who was coaching high school soccer and not getting much respect from anyone back when DiMaggio was still kicking. Back then, even mortals like Dave Righetti thought he was a putz. If Hank had approached DiMaggio in those days, Joltin' Joe would have had Morris Engelberg slap a restraining order on him.

More generally speaking, however, I'm going to go out on a very short limb here and say that if Joe DiMaggio had won nine World Series Championships for, I don't know, the Pittsburgh Pirates, there would be nothing so damn special about the Yankees in the first place. Further, I'm going to say that Joe DiMaggio knew it, and because he knew it, he wouldn't feel much of a need to tell one of George Steinbrenner's kids that he owed more to the Yankees than they did to him.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Things ain't what they used to be and probably never was

Jim Carty of the Ann Arbor News has a few astute observations about the good ole days. Though the point of the piece is to debunk the notion of skiing becoming an elitist sport, he throws in a nice baseball observation too:

The example often used is baseball. A writer will say that he took his 4-year-old son to a Tiger game and spent close to $300, then remember how he used to go to Tiger games with his dad for $6 a ticket and hot dogs were 50 cents.

What the writer doesn't tell you is that to reach the neighborhood of $300, he had to buy the most expensive tickets in the stadium, park in the lot closest to the stadium, buy a kids jersey inside the stadium, eat in one of the stadium restaurants, and knock back a kids coke and two $8 beers.

You could, incidentally, get four tickets to a Tiger game, with four cokes and four hot dogs for $40 this year ... just like you can get a Colorado Pass for around $400, or less than the cost of five single-day lift tickets to Vail. If you adjust for inflation, I'd guarantee that four-for-$40 baseball deal is either as cheap, or cheaper, than you would have paid for a similar combination in 1960.

Friday, October 26, 2007

And by the way . . .

Can someone please explain to me how a 2-1 game with 11 hits can last 3 hours and 39 minutes?


Did you know that "Nike is the official underlayer provider for Major League Baseball?"

That's funny, I thought it was Jockey.

Anyway, they're really proud of some new futuristic shirt they've invented:

Nike has outfitted a few key players from Boston's Mike Lowell to Colorado's Matt Holliday with new compression shirts, which are designed to support key muscles used by baseball players. And it's part of Nike's own World Series of sorts with competitor Under Armour, which pioneered the compression garment sector.

The company said the shirt is one of the top achievements in its Nike Pro business.

After getting caught with his legs in cement last night, Holliday had better hope that Nike is working on some compression pants too.

Art Department

Some striking baseball art from Johnny Damon's favorite painter. This may be an older link in that it references his "Cribs" appearance from a couple of years ago and features a picture of unfrozen caveman centerfielder as opposed to Yankee Damon, but the prints are cool all the same.


An awful situation involving alleged abuse of the infant grandson of Ken Griffey, Sr. He's standing behind his son-in-law, but my paternal instincts have me wondering how on earth anyone could put a baby in scalding hot water as an accident.

Thankfully it sounds like the child will be OK, but this is just horrific.


I know the Red Sox had the best pitching in all of baseball this year, but this is ridiculous.

Looks like the fifth straight boring World Series is upon us. Not that I mind all that much.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Return of Voros McCracken

Sabermetric titan Voros McCracken has returned from the wilderness, has a blog, and awaits the formation of a posse.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Voros is the man behind Defense Independent Pitching Statistics (DIPS), which remains one of the biggest development in baseball research since, well, Bill James' beard was all pepper and no salt. While Voros' own blog knocks DIPS as his "My Sharona" moment, he's being unfairly hard on himself. Even if he is a one-hit-wonder in the sabermetric world, DIPS is way more "Whiter Shade of Pale" than that awful Knack song. DIPS is sublime, inspiring, and bears repeated spins.

After DIPS-mania hit, Voros took a job with the Boston Red Sox. His first couple of blog posts hint that he'll someday tell the tale of those years. I for one can't wait to hear any dirt he may have. Maybe he'll turn out to be the Deep Throat that brings the Remy Administration to its knees.

Voros is slightly less famous for impersonating my wife on BBTF five years ago, launching a minor meme that was famous among literally tens of baseball geeks for a handful of months.

Welcome back, Voros. You've been missed.

That's Smart

After opening the 2007 season to multiple schedule-wrecking snow-outs, MLB has just announced that the Cleveland Indians will start their season . . . .at home!

March 31st, to be exact, which is the earliest home opener ever in Cleveland, and the first time they've started their season at home since 2001.

Got Tickets? Yeah, She's Got Tickets

A profile of a 93 year-old woman who has managed to see every World Series for the past 45 years.

Pretty impressive. That's, like, 1125 years worth of Playboys.

Filling Space

The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla looks for reasons behind last night's shellacking, and decides that payroll is a factor:

The very rich are different from you, me and a gritty little baseball team from the Colorado Rockies . . . Game 1 of the World Series, however, was as lopsided as the difference in team payrolls. Boston $143 million, Colorado $54 million . . .

. . . Red Sox ace Josh Beckett is paid $6.6 million because he owns the experience of winning big games on baseball's biggest stage. And Beckett appeared worth every penny as he shut down the Rockies, striking out nine in seven nearly flawless innings of work . . . Rockies hurler Jeff Francis, whose $750,000 salary is the front end of a contract extension that insults his considerable talent, looked like an accidental tourist lost in Fenway Park, needing 103 excruciating pitches to stumble through four innings that left him dazed by six Red Sox crossing the plate.

Look, I realize that there are people out there who are going to jump to payroll disparity as an explanation for everything, but pointing to Beckett over Francis as an example of this is silly. At $6.6 million, Beckett is perhaps baseball's biggest bargain this year.

Kiszla's larger point -- that the Red Sox' experience is a factor -- is a valid one which he develops more or less nicely. Which makes me think that the stuff about payroll is a lazy add-on, done in the interest of reaching a minimum word requirement for the print edition.

This is just another example of why blogging > print when it comes to sports analysis. There are only so many things to say about a 13-1 Game 1 massacre. Say it in the space required and move on.

San Diego Fires

It seems that David Justice's house has been destroyed by the wildfires and Carson Palmer's is threatened.

ShysterBrother lives in San Diego. When called for comment late last night, he said "Wow. I didn't know David Justice lives here. Cool." He then hung up, because he was next in line at the In-N-Out Burger drive thru.

Clearly, all of San Diego county is in shock.

Swap Meet

A Denver man is willing to trade 25 years worth of Playboy magazines for Rockies World Series tickets.

Of course, after last night's debacle, he can probably get them for six Carter-era Hustlers and a couple of Barely Legals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Yankees Raid the IBL

The Yankees have announced two signings from the Israeli Baseball League: a 23 year-old Australian outfielder named Jason Rees, who hit .362 with 17 homers and 52 RBIs in the short IBL season, and a 28 year-old Dominican catcher named Eliado Rodriguez, who hit .461.

Um, that's great and everything, but given that former big leaguer Ken Holtzman -- who managed one of the IBL teams this year before resigning in disgust -- is on record as saying that the even the best players in the IBL's inaugural season weren't good enough to make semi-pro teams in the U.S., I wouldn't exactly be penciling in Rees and Rodriguez as the heir apparents to Damon and Posada.

I love the smell of synergy in the morning

A-Rod has been named the inaugural recipient of the 2007 "Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year, presented by Pepsi," whatever that is. Anyone who bet on that before the season started can collect their winnings at the window to on the left.

I suppose Rodriguez is worthy of this honor. He really did carry the Yankees and did come through quite often in close and late situations, and that's what being "clutch" is all about, right?

That said, shouldn't we be a bit dubious about all of this given than Rodriguez is a paid shill for Pepsi Cola? This is like Jay Leno being named the "Doritos Late Night Host of the Year" or John Madden being given the "Ace Hardware's Most Valuable Color Man" award.

But good for Alex Rodriguez, who now finds himself slightly more marketable, and Pepsi, who now finds one of its spokesmen to be slightly more valuable as a marketing tool.

It's almost as if someone planned this in advance.

Pete Rose: Moral Compass

Seems that residents in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk are fed up with young drunks stumbling down the street, pissing on the sidewalk, and getting busy in the bushes. So angry, in fact, that they took their beefs to city council in order to get the city to do something about all of the depraved lawlessness. Heard to testify? The always-credible Charlie Hustle:

Disgraced baseball legend Pete Rose even testified, claiming to be a Manayunk resident, and also claiming he saw public sex: "This neighborhood is in serious jeopardy right now... I would go further and draw your attention to the witnessed fact that there is also public fornication going on in our front yards."

When reached for comment later, Rose confessed that he had never seen any public fornication. He simply said he did because talking about public sex was the only way he could "recapture the high [he] got from winning batting titles and World Series. If [he] couldn't get the high from playing baseball, then [he] needed a substitute to keep from feeling depressed."

Sources say that Rose remains banned from the laundry room of his Manayunk co-op, though he is confident that he will soon be reinstated and allowed to do his delicates again.

Mike Schmidt could not be reached for comment, but Joe Morgan issued a written statement of support.

Inside the Mind of an Ump

No one usually cares what umpires think, but here's a pretty enlightening interview with Ted Barrett, who will be working second base in Game 1 tonight. I found this particularly interesting:

Q. Commissioner Bud Selig has told general managers he'd like their input on the use of instant replay. Where do you stand on the issue?

A. The knee-jerk reaction would be to say no way, we don't want that. My personal feeling is I'm for it on things like home runs or fan interference. The way stadiums are being built, it's awfully hard to tell when someone reaches over the wall ... would it have been caught? They have to work out the logistics of it. Can they do it quickly, before the pitcher gets cold?

Like many, I had assumed that umps would be dead set against replay on job-protection grounds, but that's obviously not the case. Pride has to play into it too, and having read Barrett's comments, it's obvious that umps don't want to look foolish out there. And in all of the talk about replay, I'm kind of surprised that it was an ump who was the first one (that I've seen anyway) talk about the effect waiting around might have on a pitcher's arm.

Other fun stuff: Barrett thinks that Matt Holliday probably was out at home in the San Diego-Colorado play-in game (though he doesn't throw Tim McClelland under the bus over it), he has a pretty good theory on why an ump is never going to be able to get away with being a Tim Donaghy, and he has some interesting things to say about notable games he worked (Cone's perfect game, Maddux's 300th win, Jeter's miracle play on Jeremy Giambi).

Check it out.

Great Moments in Self-Motivation

On Monday, Kevin Youkilis wrote the following in his blog on

If you ask me what the key to this series was, it was just sticking together. There's a lot of people that are negative, and there's a lot of people that doubt us, and they want to get on the bandwagon and say we can't do it. You know what? We proved everyone wrong. We did it in 2004 and we did it again now. Maybe one of these days, people will start having a little more faith in us.

Huh? Did anyone get the license plate of the anti-Red Sox bandwagon, because I sure as heck haven't seen it. Who, exactly, did the Red Sox prove wrong this year? They were favored to win the division and go to the World Series by just about anyone who has an opinion about such things. Even when they were down 3-1 to the Indians, most people said that if the Tribe couldn't beat Beckett in game 5, they would be in serious trouble heading back to Fenway.

No one doubted Boston. There was no one to prove wrong. Everyone, to the extent they cared, had faith in the Red Sox. They are, and have been, since breaking training in late March, the dictionary definition of the favorite.

I am not and never have been an athlete, so I have no idea how they think, but based on Youk's comments here, and based on the sorry excuse for what passes for bulletin board material these days, I have to conclude that motivation is harder to come by than it used to be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Tony Pena Talking Points

Murray Chass writes about the search for the next Yankees manager. After dealing with Girardi and Mattingly, he talks about Tony Pena's prospects:

Tony Peña, scheduled for an interview tomorrow, is the third serious candidate. He probably lags behind Mattingly and Girardi because, although he has been the Yankees’ first-base coach the past two seasons, he never played for the team. Other candidates may be added, but it’s not likely that anyone will eclipse any of the first three.

So what if he "never played for the team?" Neither did Torre. Or Buck Showalter. Or Casey Stengel. Such a justification seems like a stretch to find a difference between Pena and the two seemingly favored candidates --Mattingly and Girardi -- that avoids anyone having to come out and say that Pena is a token minority interview that they're not seriously considering for whatever reason.

Which is not to suggest that the Yankees are racists or anything. Such an assumption is silly. It is very likely, however, that they are more concerned with how the next hire plays in the press and with the public than the actual chops of their next manager, and for that reason feel the need to hire one of the sexier candidates.

"How it plays with the press," if that is one of the considerations here, could be a legitimate concern I suppose, but it does seem like a somewhat petty one that could lend itself to a bad hire in the interests of good short term public relations. Mattingly may make everyone feel good, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that, strategically speaking, he would get his lunch handed to him by Francona, Scioscia, and Leyland on a daily basis.

And what makes the brass think that the public would embrace Girardi or Mattingly more than Pena? After all, unlike Girardi, Pena has at least coached this team, and unlike Mattingly, he has managed before, and those are certainly considerations that the press and the fan base in a sophisticated baseball market can appreciate, right?

At the end of the day it's entirely possible that Pena is wrong for the job for several reasons, and it's undeniably true that the Yankees should be able to hire whoever they want for any reason they want to.

That said, if I were a NY reporter I would make the Yankees go on record and say why Pena is a worse candidate for the job than Mattingly, who has no experience, or Girardi, who has less experience than Pena, rather than parrot what sounds like an erroneous talking point from the Yankees' brass about "playing experience" being so damn important.

Conflicts Check

George Mitchell feels the need to deny that he leaked Paul Byrd's name in connection with the HGH allegations in an effort to aid the Red Sox. Given that the criticism on this point is mostly coming from some disgruntled Indians fans it seems odd that Mitchell felt the need to offer the denial, but there it is.

For those of you who forgot this is why the good Senator is vulnerable to such slings and arrows:

Mitchell, a former senator, is a director of the Red Sox. Mitchell does not own a portion of the team, although as a director he has future equity rights if the team is sold.

I don't believe that a guy of George Mitchell's stature is going to go leaking this kind of stuff in order to help the team from which he draws a salary and whose sale could one day make him a boatload of money. It just seems far-fetched, not to mention risky. Mitchell presumably has some sensitive grand jury information in his possession now, so if he is discovered to be a leaker, he could face some heat from law enforcement, and the guy is just too smart and sensible to do that.

That said, just because you're not actually exploiting a conflict of interest doesn't mean that the conflict isn't a problem. Mitchell is a lawyer by trade, and lawyers know that merely saying you don't have a conflict -- indeed, even demonstrating that you don't have an actual conflict -- isn't always enough. There is such a thing as the appearance of impropriety, and such a thing is bad because it shakes the confidence of those who have placed their trust in you, even if you aren't doing anything wrong.

It's obviously too damn late in the game to do anything about it now, but given Mitchell's relationship with the Red Sox, he never should have been chosen as the dog to lead this hunt.

Helen Waddell Wyatt Would Have Run Through Skinner's Stop Sign

A fun profile of former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Helen Waddell Wyatt, of Rockford, Illinois. She's 77 now. And if anyone wonders how women's baseball compared to the Major League game of that era, we have at least one metric to compare the two, and that's grouchiness:

Helen Waddell Wyatt is a former baseball player, but she’s not a baseball fan. “Most of them are such babies anymore. They get a hangnail and they’re out for three weeks,” Waddell Wyatt says with a feisty smile. She was taught differently . . .

. . . Watching a game of professional baseball doesn’t usually interest Waddell Wyatt, who is a big Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. Baseball players’ habits today, such as catching a fly ball with one hand instead of two, irritates her too much. “With two hands up, your other hand is already right there to bring the ball down so you’re ready to throw,” she said. “You go up there with one hand, you’re just wasting time. That’s what we were taught.”

I'm certain that if you called Bob Feller for a comment today he'd offer much the same criticism.

But that's just me cherry picking for easy yuks. The rest of the profile is fun and interesting. All in all, Mrs. Wyatt sounds like a nice old lady who, based on attitude alone, would represent a substantial improvement at second base for half the teams in baseball today.

Maury Wills on Leadership

No, that's not a joke. Someone at a place called the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota actually asked the man who has been referred to as perhaps "the very worst manager ever" to talk to young people about leadership.

No word if his remarks included the ways in which one goes about un-confusing talent.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Too Soon!

USA Today doesn't wait for the body to get cold before talking about the 2008 Indians.


Last week the Rockies were bragging about how cool their online World Series ticket sales were going to be.

Today they're holding press conferences explaining why they're completely effed up.

My guess: Ticket brokers will end up with 90% of them, just like they always do.

Chipotle, do I have a proposition for you . . .

Taco Bell is offering a free taco to everyone in America if one of the players steals a base in the World Series. Seems generous until you realize that this year's Series is a contest of slugging teams playing in the most run-happy environment in baseball. Still, seeing as only one stolen base is required to make the deal go down, I suppose we're all going to get a chance to get a free taco.

If you're like me, however, you much prefer the ultra-fresh, ultra-big burritos from Chipotle. Chipotle, as you may or may not know, is based in Denver, home of the Rockies. If I'm running that company, I think I'd try and usurp Taco Bell's promotion and offer a free burrito for a Rockies win. Yes, someone would have to work out the details given that those suckers are like six bucks each, but that's what MBAs are for.

The only worry: ticking off Red Sox Nation, which I'm pretty sure has its own military by now and may view this as an act of aggression.

The Red Sox Effect

MSNBC's Mike Memoli notes that the presidential candidates shouldn't bother campaigning in New Hampshire until the World Series is over, noting that when Republican candidate Mike Huckabee filed for the primary last week -- and event which usually gets a lot of press in New Hampshire -- the Red Sox victory in Game 5 knocked him clear off the page:

The moral of the story? New Hampshire is deep in Red Sox nation, and another week of wall-to-wall baseball coverage means one less week of prominent political reporting. Boston NBC affiliate WHDH has said it’s holding off on serious primary reporting until the Red Sox run ends. That’s likely the case with the rest of Boston television, which is watched by many in the southern part of the state. And it probably means higher ad rates, too.

Hmmm . . . fewer political ads and less political coverage. I'll tell ya, I was kind of rooting for Cleveland, but now that I read that, I am very happy the Sox won.

Piazza Done?

If you can bring yourself to scroll through the profile of the awful Dane Cook, the second item in Murray Chass' column from yesterday involves Mike Piazza, seemingly talking himself into being all finished as a baseball player.

Eulogies for an amazing career will come if and when it's official, but for now, allow me to say that .308/.377/.545, 427 home runs and 1335 RBI at catcher obviously make him a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


And so the Joe Posnanski Chief Wahoo Curse has come to pass.

Of course, Tribe fans shouldn't let phony scapegoats like phony curses get in the way of real ones like Joel Skinner and Rafael Betancourt.

Congratulations to Boston.

Bullet Dodged

Larry Bowa takes a job with Seattle, leaving one less possible awful choice for Hank and Hal as they search for a new Yankees manager.

The Joe Posnanski Wahoo Curse

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I normally don't go in for curses, hoodoo, or similar nonsense, but watching the ALCS for the past two games has finally convinced me that not everything that happens on a baseball diamond can be explained in rational terms. Yes, I am finally ready to give up hard-headed logic and reasoning and allow my skeptical mind to embrace the obvious explanation for the Red Sox resurgence:

Joe Posnanski has cursed the Cleveland Indians.

From Joe's 10/17/07 takedown of Chief Wahoo:

. . . it’s definitely time to bury Wahoo. This would be a good year to make it happen. The Indians are a game away from the World Series. There is some real joy happening. There is some real excitement. The Indians have a real chance to end the longest citywide sports drought in American sports. There are a lot of good feelings in the Cleveland air. It would be a good time to bury a logo that should never have been born to begin with.

Joe should have known better! He should have known that the disgustingly racist Chief Wahoo draws his staying power from the darkest sanctum of Hell. That place where the most vile and sordid wishes of men are ushered into being while their purest dreams are twisted into an unrecognizable mutant-echo of reality, borne into this world to taunt and torment their authors.

Joe should have known that Chief Wahoo and his unholy minions from below would hear his plea for Cleveland to use its impending ALCS victory and presumptive world championship as the pedestal from which to cast that offensive red-faced visage into oblivion, and would stop at nothing to prevent it from occurring. And that is exactly what has come to pass. When Joe wrote those words on Wednesday, the Indians were invincible. Two games later and one wonders how they ever held off Detroit.

It all seems so obvious now. How fitting that Fausto -- a variation of Faust, he of the unholy bargain with the Old Man himself -- was on the hill last night. After seeing his improvement from 2006, does anyone doubt he had supernatural help? I sure don't, and last night's performance has me convinced that the Devil called in his chit, ordering Carmona to serve up a fat one to J.D. Drew in the first inning. Similarly, Curt Schilling's fine outing was no doubt repayment from the Prince of Darkness for the fine work Schilling has done promoting evil.

Yes, there is a game seven tonight and I suppose it's possible that the Indians will pull it out (update: or not). But I'm doubtful, as I suspect most are. People will chalk up their defeat to choking or tired arms or the veteran savvy of a Red Sox team that has had experience facing long odds, but Occam's Razor suggests the real answer:

A Cleveland expatriate sportswriter living in Kansas City, Missouri had the audacity to taunt Beelzebub, and now he, along with every other Indians fan, is being punished for it.

Like this story? There are hundreds more at ShysterBall!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's OK when the NFL does it

Deadspin takes note of the latest example of the MLB-NFL steroids double standard.

Dusty Doesn't Shake Things Up

Despite the new blood in the manager's chair, the Reds are bringing back most of the coaching staff next year.

Pitching coach Dick Pole, hitting coach Brook Jacoby, first base coach Billy Hatcher, third base coach Mark Berry and bullpen catcher Mike Stefanski will come back. Bullpen coach Tom Hume will not be offered a contract . . .

Whenever I see something like this I wonder what on Earth a bullpen coach could have done or not done that would cause him to be fired separate and apart from the rest of the coaching staff. Did he not answer the bullpen phone on the first ring often enough? Did Hume and Baker fight over a bar tab at the 1982 All Star Game?

And the next Yankee manager is . . .

Cliff Corcoran over at Baseball Toaster has the best analysis of potential Torre replacements you're likely to read today. Why is it the best? Instead of the usual Girardi-Mattingly talk, he goes through seventeen -- yes, seventeen -- potential candidates.

My favorite dark horse Corcoran mentions? Davey Johnson.

Managing the Yankees: It Always Ends Badly

So many people will be weighing in on the minutiae of Joe Torre's departure over the next few days and I'm more or less content to leave it to them, mostly because I have nothing new to add. I'd probably have tried hard to keep him around, but I understand why the Yankees didn't feel the same way. All involved here are big boys, and any talk about wounded pride, a lack of respect, or any of that emotional stuff is a bit silly.

It will be interesting to see, however, how many columnists and commentators go sentimental and shed Torre tears over what they feel to be the allegedly classless or insulting nature of how it all went down. Interesting in that it will represent a total failure of memory on the part of whoever it is who voices such a sentiment because, let's face it, no New York Yankee manager ever leaves on good terms.

Torre wasn't asked back? Well, at least he wasn't forced out like Buck Showalter was. Before those two the Stump Merrill-Bucky Dent-Dallas Green-Lou Piniella-Billy Martin-Yogi Berra-Clyde King-Gene Michael-Bob Lemon-Dick Howser-Bill Virdon carousel was pure struggle, strife, drama, sturm und drang. Ralph Houk was unceremoniously -- but understandably -- forced out by Big George seven years after Johnny Keane was forced out by Houk who had previously fired Yogi, with none of those transitions fairly called amicable.

The last time a Yankee manager was, more or less, allowed to leave on his own terms was Ralph Houk after his first go-around between 1961 and 1963. And, given the shabby treatment Casey Stengel had been given at the end of 1960, even Houk's decent treatment (a promotion to GM) was an aberration. Indeed, only one Yankee manager has ever truly left with dignity, and that was Miller Huggins in 1929, who was extended the courtesy of being allowed to die in office.

So, I offer a warning: spare the sentiment. It is the destiny of Yankee skippers -- most skippers of other teams too, actually -- to be unceremoniously dumped, even if the last 12 years of relative stability has caused some of us to forget that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brian Sabean Forced to Dig His Own Grave

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News says that, before getting his contract extension back in July, Brian Sabean was told that he had to bring some new blood into the organization to help the Giants, you know, actually develop a position player sometime this century.

Kawakami's column is good reading both in terms of the candidates Sabean may be considering for his number 2 (more on them in a minute) but also in terms of its description of the no-win situation the marching orders to hire a second in command have placed him. Basically, if Sabean finds someone who is able to turn around the Giants woeful player development program, he has given ownership someone with whom to replace Sabean himself. If he picks someone who can't get it done, it will constitute his final failure and he'll be canned anyway.

But I can ignore Sabean's sorry situation, mostly because he's more or less put himself in that unenviable situation. I'm more curious about the specific candidates he mentions: Roy Clark is his favorite, but he also mentions Mike Rizzo of the Nationals, Logan White or Kim Ng of the Dodgers, and Bill Geivett of the Rockies.

Question: Why would any of those people -- number 2s, or at least 2.5s in solid organizations with lots of young talent -- want to make what is essentially a lateral move into the sinking ship that is the San Francisco Giants? Sure, Clark may feel a bit stepped over due to Wren's ascendancy into the Braves' front office, but I kind of doubt it. That aside, if you are any of those people, why wouldn't you hold out for a bonafide GM's job instead of jumping to go clean up Sabean's mess? Even if you want to be in San Francisco, wouldn't you rather wait a year or two and take Sabean's job outright?

I think I would.

Manny Being Healthy

I can't help but think that Manny Ramirez has the lowest blood pressure and longest life-expectancy of any Major League ballplayer:

"We all play hard and if things don’t come like they’re supposed to come, we’ll come next year. Why should we panic? We’ve got a great team, if it doesn’t happen, we’ll come next year and do it again. If it doesn’t happen, so who cares? There’s always next season. It’s not like we’re in a war."

While these comments have probably led to the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on Boston sports radio, he's right. It's a game. People got mad at him for jumping around happily the other night for that homer? Cut him some slack. He's like a little leaguer. He's enjoying what he's doing. He knows it isn't life or death. He's honestly, earnestly, wonderfully Manny. And I suppose Manny will get a pass for it as a result of the MbM rule.

Imagine what would happen, however, if J.D. Drew said something like this . . .

Bad Teams Make For Good Writing

While it has to be painful for baseball writers to be assigned to watch a terrible team every day, it is much easier to comment on putridity than it is to find interesting things to say about success. Example: Peter Schmuck's take on the Orioles hiring of Rick Kranitz to be their new pitching coach. Headline:

"Somebday with options actually opts for Orioles."


Stevie Ray and the Mick

Dept. of Stuff I Never Knew: Stevie Ray Vaughn's famous Lenny Stratocaster was autographed by Mickey Mantle:

Throughout the remainder of his career, the Lenny guitar traveled with Vaughan almost everywhere he went, and it was later autographed by baseball great Mickey Mantle during a chance meeting in Houston. On April 10, 1985, Vaughan had just performed the National Anthem at the season's opening game for the Houston Astros where Mantle was also in attendance as a guest of honor. Without a baseball or bat nearby, Stevie offered up his beloved guitar to be touched with the magic of the American sporting legend.

For what it's worth, April 10, 1985 was the Astros' second game of the season, not opening day [praise be to Retrosheet]. That day Jerry Reuss and the Dodgers beat Joe Neikro 5-4 on the strength of solo homers in the 7th from Kenny Landreaux and Pedro Guerrero.

Reliable sources report, however, that by the time Landreaux came to the plate, Stevie and the Mick had already retired to Kay's Lounge over on Bissonnet Street in order to drink some Lone Stars and discuss the challenges of peaking at 30.

This is News? is running a story about the contributions of Latinos to the Colorado Rockies' success:

They could not have done so without strong contributions from their Latino players. Where would the Rockies be without starters Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales and closer Manny Corpas? How can you replace the contributions from catcher Yorvit Torrealba and center fielder Willy Taveras in the NLCS?

You can't. It's that simple.

In the series-clincher, it was Morales, Venezuelan starter, who kept his team in the game and Diamondbacks baserunners on the bench . . . Jimenez, from the Dominican Republic, was even better. In Game 3 of the NLCS, he gave up one run on five hits in five innings against the Diamondbacks . . . Torrealba's three-run home run in Game 3 made him an instant hero at Coors Field. The emotional Venezuelan's homer off his good friend, Diamondbacks starter Livan Hernandez, will go down as one of the most celebrated in franchise history.

Not to take away anything from the accomplishments of Morales, Jimenez, and Torrealba, but is it truly news these days for Latino players to be key contributors to winning baseball teams? It certainly wasn't a decade ago. What was the last team that won the World Series without major contributions from Latin players? Near as I can tell it was the 1995 Braves, and that's only if you discount Javy Lopez's contribution as something less than major and pretend that Rafael Belliard didn't exist. Before that you probably have to go to the 1991 Twins.

I guess dog-bites-man stories like these are the kinds of things you have to deal with when you have pointless off-days smack dab in the middle of the playoffs and nothing particularly new to write about.

As someone who depends on interesting baseball stories in order to ply his craft I can't begin to tell you how terrifying is the prospect of Cleveland clinching tomorrow night, leaving baseball writers five baseball-free days to fill. Come Monday we may be reading about how short dudes tend to play second base and crappy ex-catchers tend to become decent managers.

Professor Baseball

A profile of Bernie Walter, a Maryland high school baseball coaching legend who serves as the "educational consultant" to This Week in Baseball. His job: to watch each produced episode to ensure that it's segments are appropriately "educationally oriented."

TWIB? Educationally oriented? Yep:

This was the 30th season of This Week in Baseball, which began as a weekly highlights show but has evolved into something different. Jeff Scott, senior
writer for MLB (Major League Baseball) Productions, who has written the show since 1989, said TWIB is considered an educational show for Fox, and Walter helps ensure it stays that way."That was one of the provisions of the contract, that we maintain an educational theme to it," Scott said. "It's not a kid's show, necessarily, but with baseball you can make almost anything educational, and that's what we try to do."

That's nice and everything, but I am going to go on record as saying that I like my TWIB to be heavy on the Mel Allen "how about thats," and I like my baseball education to come from Johnny Bench and the Baseball Bunch. Putting them together in one show is madness. Madness, I tell you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Spokane Bus Tragedy

A former minor leaguer named Gus Hallbourg died yesterday at the age of 87. Not remarkable in and of itself. Former minor leaguers probably die every other day. What is notable is that he was a member of the 1946 Spokane Indians and survived what still stands as the worst transit accident in the history of professional baseball.

It happened on June 24th, when the Indians' bus was on its way to a road series in Bremerton. The road was wet, an oncoming car crossed the line, the driver swerved, and the bus ran off the road and down an embankment where it crashed and burned. Eight men died instantly. Another would die later. Six others, including Hallbourg, were injured. The Indians, relying on players loaned from other teams, managed to finish the season and placed seventh in the league.

I'd never heard a thing about the 1946 Spokane Indians before reading Hallbourg's obit on the wire last night. A lawyer-turned-writer (aren't they the worst?) named Beth Bollinger has written a novel about it.

Bollinger apparently signed books at the SABR convention in St. Louis over the summer. Anyone talk to her? Anyone read the book? Worth my time?

The Rox in Big Sky Country

A few years ago I spent a couple of weeks litigating some awful little case involving the sale of radio stations in Great Falls, Montana. I lost the case -- deservedly so, because it was an awful case -- but that wasn't my biggest disappointment of the trip. The worst thing about it was that I have never felt more divorced from baseball than I did for that week and half.

Sure, there's a Pioneer League team there, but it's a short season league and they were nowhere to be found that April. My hotel room had ESPN, but between the two-hour time lag and the post-court meetings, dinners, drinks, and recrimination settings, I was always getting back long after whatever televised game had been decided. The newspaper had no box scores. My Internet collection was wonky. No one in the hotel bar was all that interested in talking about ballgames. In short, I was in Hell.

So I suppose I am somewhat happy to read that Montanans are going crazy for the Rockies:

With the Colorado Rockies heading to the World Series the fall classic comes closer to the Big Sky State than ever before. Moments after last night's win, sporting good stores say fans were already buying Rockies gear. And Consultants with Cook Travel say their phones have been ringing off the hook . . . David Bronson, Assistant Manager of Universal Athletics says that Rockies logo wear is a top sales item. "You know people just pretty excited you know. I think people want to root for the Rockies cause like I said they're so close. Everybody's getting excited; they're coming in buying hats, jerseys, T-shirts. It's just a baseball feeling in the town I guess."

Like everyone else, I am getting a little carried away by the Rox fever, but I know it will pass after the World Series is over. Here's hoping it holds up in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and other Rocky Mountain locales. Because a baseball-free zone is a depressing place to be.

Pennsylvania Apparently Has Solved All Of Its Problems

How else to explain the legislature's resolution asking MLB to retire Roberto Clemente's number?

Clemente's Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Pirates began in 1955 and ended when he died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, while trying to deliver relief supplies following an earthquake in Nicaragua.

"Roberto Clemente was more than a great baseball player," said state Rep. Angel Cruz,
D-Philadelphia, who sponsored the resolution as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. "He was a humanitarian who gave so much of himself for those in need."

Major League Baseball has remained mum on the subject of retiring Clemente's number as an homage to his being the first Latin American elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and his humanitarianism.

I would hope that they remain mum much longer. The retiring of Jackie Robinson's number should stand as a unique honor for a unique contribution to the game. Clemente was an amazing player. He was obviously a selfless and committed humanitarian. It doesn't belittle his accomplishments, however, to acknowledge that many other players in baseball history have matched that description as well, even if they didn't die immediately after achieving a milestone of baseball greatness and while serving humanity.

Honor him. Celebrate him. Name as many things as you possibly can after him. But don't retire his number. To do so would both devalue the honor bestowed on Jackie Robinson and, because of its derivative nature, would belittle Clemente's accomplishments as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Great Moments in Tortured Metaphors

It's finance day here at ShysterBall. First it was hedge funds, and now it's municipal bonds:

Joe Torre is going to return to skipper the New York Yankees in 2008. The municipal bond market tells me so . . . [Bond analysis] often comes down to a couple of key numbers, perhaps a sentence or two located somewhere in the wilderness of a bond offering document, or official statement, as they call it. Regarding Joe Torre and the Yankees, there are three numbers that demand attention. They are 12; 4,271,083; and 942,555,000. This last number is in dollars.

The author of the article, Joe Mysak of, seems to think that the 12 seasons the Yanks have made the playoffs during Torre's tenure combined with the 4,271,083 fans they drew this year and the $942,555,000 in bonds the New York Industrial Development Agency sold to help build a new Yankee Stadium all but make it a lock for the Yankees to keep Torre on. Torre is critical to the success of the enterprise, Mysak is arguing, so they can't possibly dump him.

Look, I like Torre, but if anyone thinks that the business prospects of the New York Yankees are solely or even mostly attributable to him, they're crazy. He has been a excellent steward of the talent provided to him and has done a pretty good job of insulating the team from the inherent insantiy of the New York press, but given where the Yankees are today in both business and competitive terms, I am fairly certain that you could install the reanimated corpse of Johnny Keane in their dugout, still draw 4 million fans, and still make the playoffs.

Mattingly Not Ready

At least that's what he's telling the Steinbrenner boys. It seems to me that the only reason that conversation happens is because one of them asked Mattingly if he wanted the job, so going forward, anyone who speculates whether Torre is staying or going is behind the news. He's gone, and the team has moved on to trying to figure out who is going to replace him.

Could I be wrong? Maybe based on this passage from a different article on the subject:

Mattingly's stance could mean the return of Torre for a 13th season, since the former Yankees first baseman was the presumptive favorite to get the job.

"Could" being the operative word. And Joe Girardi "could" cease to exist tomorrow, but I doubt it, making the notion that Torre will stay on as a fallback position decidedly unlikely.

Update: Now Mattingly's agent is saying Donny never said he wasn't ready. Hurm. This story seems like post-hoc agent-spin. Mattingly, by most accounts, is a pretty normal, loyal, well-adjusted and, given those traits, probably humble fellow. He indicates that he's not comfortable replacing Torre, and probably makes some noises about not being "ready" so as to try and preserve the possibility later. I mean, he may not want to stab Joe in the back by jumping at his job, but at the same time he doesn't want to tell the bosses that he's never going to be open to it.

Agent reads about this, sees his cut of Yankee manager millions going out the door, and tries to talk it back from the ledge.