Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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.
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.
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.
After baseball, I'm a college football fan, and I usually read Pat Forde's weekly "Forde Yard Dash" column at ESPN.com. 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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
Houston: 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.
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?
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.
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.
Monday, October 29, 2007
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
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
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.
Thankfully it sounds like the child will be OK, but this is just horrific.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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 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.
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."
Mike Schmidt could not be reached for comment, but Joe Morgan issued a written statement of support.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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 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.
No word if his remarks included the ways in which one goes about un-confusing talent.
Monday, October 22, 2007
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 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.
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
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
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?
My favorite dark horse Corcoran mentions? Davey Johnson.
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
I think I would.
"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 . . .
"Somebday with options actually opts for Orioles."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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?
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.
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."
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.
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
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.
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.