Monday, June 30, 2008

Murcer Update

Due to work constraints, I'm simply going to give you a link to visit. My apologies for the brevity. I hope you find a moment to visit the link below.

Sliding Into Home: A Yankees Blog: Bobby Murcer Update

As we've said here before, nothing but the best wishes to Bobby and his family. He's a wonderful ambassador for the game. I hope to hear and see him back in the booth soon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

An Interview with Darrell Rasner

Following my interview with agent Matt Sosnick, I asked Matt if it would be OK to interview one of his players. Being in New York and sucker for the low-down from one of the less-heralded players, I checked if the Yanks Darrell Rasner would be amenable. I was able to send Darrell a list of questions and he was kind enough to answer such topics as dealing with adversity, Metallica, his training regimen, Joe Girardi, and providing us with a player's view inside the lockerroom. Oh yeah, and being appreciative for being paid to play this game.

IIATMS: How early did you realize you have the “stuff” to become a major league pitcher?
Darrell Rasner: High school. I realized that it was what I wanted to do for a living, and that I probably had a fighting chance.

IIATMS: Are you a fan of the game, of its history? Casual or intense?
DR: I love the history of the game. I like looking over stats of old hall-of-famers and watching film of all of the greats of the game.

IIATMS: You were waived by the Nationals in 2006. Was there ever a time you doubted your ability to pitch in the majors?
DR: Never. It was definitely a bump in the road, and I really was caught off guard. When the Yankees claimed me, it just reinforced that the best of the best thought that I could help them win. It was a real validation for me.

IIATMS: What was it like stepping on the field as a major leaguer for the first time? At Yankee Stadium?
DR: Neither one was such a jolt that I forgot about my primary goal, which was to get guys out. The first game that I played as a big leaguer made all of the long, lousy bus rides in the minors worth while. Yankee Stadium has such a history that I know how amazing it is to be playing on the same field and for the same team as Ruth and Gehrig.

IIATMS: Best lockerroom pre-/post-game spread?
DR: Tampa and Houston, hands down.

IIATMS: Funniest guy in the lockerroom?
DR: Damon and Giambi are both hysterical.

IIATMS: Best part of the lockerroom?
DR: The clubhouse is made up of a bunch of great guys who know exactly what it takes to win. There is never a moment of panic from anyone, which is part of being a Yankee.

IIATMS: What’s the one thing you wish the fans could witness about being in the lockerroom, once the reporters are gone and the cameras are off?
DR: The guys are all down to earth, and everyone treats each other incredibly well. There are really no ego issues, which is amazing, given the collection of superstars on the team.

IIATMS: Which teammate has surprised you the most (ie: being friendlier, funnier, more serious, etc.)?
DR: A-Rod. He is incredibly kind and friendly, and takes an active interest in his teammates. He’s been awesome to me.

IIATMS: Which of your current teammates would you think is most likely going to be a manager at some point?
DR: Chad Moeller. Brilliant guy, and loves and respects the game.

IIATMS: What are some of the differences between Torre and Girardi?
DR: Torre is a great manager, but I really didn’t know him well. Girardi is really hands on, and he takes the time to really get to know his guys. He asks about our families, knows what our kids are up to, etc. The calm confidence we have as team definitely starts with Joe.

IIATMS: Best part of being a major leaguer?
DR: The best part is getting well paid to do something that I love. I know that this puts me in the minority, and I am really appreciative. Worst part? I really miss the time away from my family.

IIATMS: How would you advise kids and teens to safely strengthen their arms? Do you believe in throwing more or throwing less?
DR: I believe in throwing a lot, more is better for me. The best advice that I could give a kid is to use proper mechanics everytime that you play catch, because that is where stuff tends to get messed up.

IIATMS: What about leg strength?
DR: Leg strength is huge. It’s the first thing to go when physical exhaustion sets in, and then it becomes really hard to get guys out.

IIATMS: How do you manage your emotions on the field?
Managing emotions while on the field? I can only control things until the point that I release a pitch. I try not to get bothered by stuff that happens that is out of my control.

IIATMS: What do your off-day workouts include?
DR: Sprints and distance running, lots of abs, lift 4 out of 5 days.

IIATMS: How did you come to select Sosnick-Cobbe Sports as your representatives?
DR: My dad and I met Matt, and we both believed that he was genuine, honest, and from the heart. I was sure that he would take good care of me and treat me with a lot of loyalty, and he has.

IIATMS: Do you read baseball-related books, websites, blogs, etc. or do you look to get away from the game when you are away from the field?
DR: Not at all. When I’m away from the field, I concentrate on my family.

IIATMS: Bonus question! Artist most prominently featured on your iPod? Newest music on your iPod?
DR: I love Metallica. The newest thing on my iPod is Alter Bridge.

IIATMS would like to thank Darrell for taking the time to answer our questions and again thank agent Matt Sosnick for his generosity with this time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday fun: Video time, baseball style

Somewhere, Magglio is laughing (we hope) but Goose is stewing over today's ballplayers ("I can't stand that - the dancing, the laughing - there's no place for that in the game"):

Let's hear it for Todd Jones!

Down on the farm

For those of you die-hard Yanks fans, I thoroughly recommend you to check in with Chad Jennings' Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees blog. I don't usually weigh in too often on the Yanks prospects since I don't get to, you know, actually SEE them play. Chad does.

Jennings has a ton on some of the likely bullpen help the big club can look towards to rescue the leaky bullpen. To wit:

David Robertson: "Hard not to be impressed by Robertson, who now has 48 strikeouts in 33 innings. Eleven of his 16 walks came last month. I forgot to mention earlier, so I'll mention here that I asked Mark Newman today if the Yankees had any plans to let Robertson go back to throwing the slider he used in college. Newman didn't rule it out, but said Robertson's fastball moves so much that the slider seems redundant. They like having him work with that big curveball, and the curveball has obviously been working."

Mark Melancon: "Mark Newman understands the desire to see Mark Melancon in big league pinstripes, but player development is a game of patience, and Newman is willing to wait. With a 1.57 ERA through 11 Double-A games, Melancon has fans calmoring for a call-up, but Newman is happy to leave the right-hander where he is. “He could stay there all year," Newman said. "Probably will. Not a guarantee, but probably.” [...] The good news, of course, is that Melancon is rolling through the Eastern League, consistently throwing two, three and even four innings at a time."

And then there are the bats to look for either when the rosters expand in September or in Spring Training next year:

Newman on Brett Gardner: “His swing has gotten better, technique-wise. It’s clear to me because I haven’t see him for a few months, and people need to know how good Butch Wynegar is. He’s outstanding at what he does. He’s helped Gardy, and Gardy has worked his butt off, plus he’s very bright and committed to improvement. You take that and put him with Butch, you’re going to see some high caliber results.”

Newman on Austin Jackson: “He’s been good the last month. He‘s hit home runs, he‘s played defense good, he‘s hit for power. He jumped a level and made adjustments. He’s hitting about .285 with about a .360 on-base. He’s hit for power. It validates. Any time they go a significant chunk of the season performing, half a season in this case, you’re more confident in your assessment.

And for those of you wondering who the heck Justin Christian is and why he was called up ahead of Brett Gardner, I humbly blockquote this:

Why Justin Christian instead of Brett Gardner? I can think of several reasons.

1. Christian is right handed. With a slew of left-handed starters scheduled to face the Yankees the next few days, a right-handed bat has very real value.

2. Christian has been red hot. Yes, so has Gardner, but it's not as if the Yankees called up some bum. Christian was hitting .412 this month with a .448 on-base percentage, .588 slugging nine stolen bases and only three strikeouts. Christian earned this call-up.

3. Gardner is getting noticeably better in Triple-A. It's not often that you can physically see a player improving. Progress is usually slow and steady and you only notice it in retrospect. With Gardner, it's happening right before our eyes. Why slow this kind of progress?
- Four stolen bases in eight attempts in April, 25 steals in 29 attempts ever since. It seems like he can take a bag whenever he wants.
- He said last week that he wanted to cut down on the strikeouts, and promptly struck out only twice in four days, all while walking seven times.
- I don't know how many pitches Gardner sees each game, but last night it was 25 in five at-bats. It's gotten to the point that we in the press box have set an over/under on the number of pitches he'll see in a game and tried to guess. Last night the over/under was set at 30 and almost got there.
- The power numbers, obviously, are much better this year than in the past.

4. Christian is 28 years old. He's spent almost exactly a year in Triple-A with consistent production. It's time to see what he can do.
Great job by SWB Yanks Blog. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sexism, stupidity and the Mets


(as reported by Justin Rodriguez from the Times Herald-Record)

Earlier today, one of my colleagues, staff writer Mira Wassef, a hard-working and conscientious reporter, went to Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill to interview Davis. Brooklyn, the Mets’ Class A New York-Penn League affiliate, is in town to play the Renegades.

According to Mira, and I totally believe her, once she walked into the Brooklyn clubhouse, several players began whistling at her and making cat calls. She was unnerved to say the very least. You think the Mets look bad on the field? Well, check out this group of chumps. The performance by the Cyclones was pathetic. A disgrace.

Then came Davis, the Mets’ first round pick (18th overall) in the draft earlier this month out of Arizona State. Mira asked for Davis and, sitting in the clubhouse, he raised his hand. Mira asked if Davis had a few minutes to talk for an interview.

His reply?

I’m not playing tonight, sweetheart. We don’t have anything to talk about.”

Sweetheart? Apparently, Davis, who signed for $1.5 million yesterday, thinks he’s still on campus or something. He’s not.

M-E-T-S, Let's go Me-...blech...

Take this job and shove it

Hard to believe a player actually did this, but this happened last night:

Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely by the team Wednesday for insubordination after reportedly grabbing general manager Ed Wade by the neck and throwing him to the ground.

Now, Chacon's recounting of the story seems to indicate that Wade was overly aggressive, but he's the GM, the boss and he has a right to expect a player listen to his requests.

What I found so pathetic was Chacon's attempt at regret:

"Maybe it shouldn't have happened," Chacon said. "But when you do those things and you're yelling at somebody and you're cussing you better know what type of person you're dealing with. If there's any regret, I just wish they had just let me alone. I wish they had left me alone."
That's like saying you're only sorry you got caught. Chacon, consider yourself banished. Any GM who picks him up clearly has no sense of fraternity.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Endangered Species: The Complete Game

Not that I think this is the way to get to a desired outcome, but it's an interesting approach:

The Brewers will try something new at one affiliate to find the middle ground. Beginning this week at Class A Brevard County, relievers will start games before turning it over to the "starters" in the third or the fourth.

By starting the starter later in games, the Brewers hope their young players develop a "nine-inning mindset" by the time they reach the Majors.

The idea of using relievers in the early innings has been pushed for some time by Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, and was also endorsed several years ago when the Brewers gathered their organizational pitching coaches and medical people for a symposium.
Back to the Brewers and Ben Sheets, who had his third CG on Monday.

Sheets has thrown 16 complete games in his career and said he steps onto the mound every time out expecting to pitch all nine innings. He knows not every pitch[er] has the same outlook.

"I'm not saying anything new, everybody knows the reason -- you're not brought up that way," Sheets said. "In the Minors, pitch count is such a big thing. For the complete game, you have to trust enough to get your pitch count up somewhere around 115, 120.

"I think some people leave some of their better innings on the bench. Some guys are in really good grooves through seven, and get taken out when they could probably get through two more fairly easily. It no fault of anybody's; it's just baseball
It's just baseball? No, it's just baseball's fault.

I've been lobbying for longer than I have had a blog that pitch counts have become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you don't train your arm to throw more than 100 pitches per outing, you won't be able to in a game. This pitch count concept is so institutionalized that it's filtered down to second grade leagues. I can see it for the kids whose arms are not yet developed, but by the time a player is in the minor league system, they should be conditioning themselves for 125-140 pitches per outing. Marathon runners don't run five miles per day to train. Do pitchers need to throw more to build endurance or have the salaries caused them to be overprotected?

I don't know the throwing routines for pitchers, major or minor leaguers. But if you look at the Japanese pitchers, they are more accustomed to throwing more. Dice-K's legendary Koshein tournament as high schooler is excessive, but it goes to the point that the Japanese emphasize throwing more than less.

In the quarterfinal of that year's Summer Koshien, Matsuzaka threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a win over powerhouse PL Gakuen. (The previous day he had thrown a 148-pitch complete game shutout.) The next day though trailing 6-0 in the top of the eighth inning, the team miraculously won the game by scoring 7 runs in the last two innings (four in the eighth and three in the ninth). In that game he started in left field, but came in as a reliever in the ninth inning to record the win in 15 pitches. In the final, he threw a no-hitter, the second ever in a final. This performance garnered him the attention of many scouts.

The Japanese mantra of "Throw until you die" is on one end of the spectrum. I think where we are now is on the other end. There is clearly a happy medium that we've deviated from. Back in the mid-90's, when Hideo Nomo was still a curiousity, the NY Times had this to say:
Nomo left the Kintetsu Buffaloes after fighting openly with the team manager over demands that he pitch and practice more. He thus defied the hallowed tradition that Japanese baseball players must serve as uncomplaining samurais. That assumption dates from the early days, when the training regimen of the best team in the country was nicknamed "bloody urine," because the players practiced so hard they urinated blood.
The phenemenon of a complete game is a dying breed. The first years EVER that the leader in complete games threw less than 10 in a season was 1991 Glavine (NL) and 1994 Randy Johnson (AL). The last time a pitcher threw more than 10 complete games in one season was in 1999 Randy Johnson (NL) and 1998 Scott Erickson (AL). Last year, Brandon Webb led the NL with a whopping 4 complete games and Roy Halladay led the AL with 7.

Way back in 1986, the amazing Fernando Valenzuela twirled 20 complete games. A year before that, Bert Blyleven tossed 24. Twenty-plus years later, we have to look long and hard to see more than a handful per pitcher. And just for fun, in the Year of the Pitcher (1968), Juan Marichal had 30 (NL) and Denny McLain had (28). Ponder those numbers for a second. THIRTY complete games in one season. Now, players would drool to get 30 in a career. Then again, maybe they wouldn't be drooling; they'd be calling their agents to gripe about overuse.

It's just baseball's fault. Situational lefties, long relievers, 7th inning set-up guys, 8th inning-set up guys, one-inning closers. Specialization or a role created out of necessity?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coming soon: Another interview

COMING SOON: An interview with a current Yankees pitcher!

Stay tuned, folks!

Fun video of the day

Yes, it's clearly a fake, but it's fun and well, I like it. So there.

Ball Girl Makes Incredible Catch - Watch more free videos

We don't need no stinkin' draft

Yet another benefit of Latin American ballplayers being exempt from the Rule IV Draft: It's open bidding season! No worries about some team drafting the guy you want ahead of you. No pesky "slotting" recommendations. Just straight cash, homie.

Multiple international scouts have told Baseball America in the past week that Inoa will shatter all bonus records for the international signing period by signing a contract worth at least $4 million, with numbers in the $4.2 to $4.5 million range being floated.

"He's a once-in-a-decade type pitcher," said one international scout.

Scouts say the Yankees have also been heavily pursuing Inoa, who hails from Puerto Plata, but with one week until Inoa can officially sign, the Athletics appear to be the favorite for his services. Athletics general manager Billy Beane and other top talent evaluators from the organization had been in the Dominican Republic to watch Inoa earlier in the year, and Beane was reportedly back in the Dominican again in recent weeks.
How the Yanks could get out-bid by a relatively measley $1 million (give or take) is beyond me. This is the one area that the Yanks should absolutely exert their financial muscle. The cost of not winning the "auction" far outweighs the incremental costs. The way the Yanks write off bad decisions, what's another $4-5 million if the kid absolutely flops? And if he develops like the scouts dream he can, you've got control of him for years and will save multiples of that signing fee.

Inoa's fastball sits in the low-90s and has touched 94, which he complements with a curveball that generates generally positive reviews from scouts and a changeup. Aside from his present velocity, what stands out about Inoa is his size—at 6-foot-7, 205 pounds he projects to throw even harder—and his athleticism, which enables to repeat his fluid delivery.

Why not ante up and make a run at this kid?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Interview with Matt Sosnick

An interview with Matt Sosnick

I was recently privileged to spend some time with professional baseball agent Matt Sosnick of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports. Matt Sosnick was the subject of ESPN analyst/writer Jerry Crasnick’s bookLicense to Deal: A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent” (published in 2005). Sosnick’s current roster of MLB players include Dontrelle Willis, Josh Willingham, Darrell Rasner, Freddy Sanchez and the hottest rookie on the planet, Jay Bruce. Sosnick’s name was in the news recently as he was Josh Hamilton’s agent until a few weeks back, a story which I covered here. Matt was kind enough to chat with me about the business of being an agent, the Hamilton situation, Mark Cuban, collusion, integrity and how his mom found my blog.

IIATMS: How did you decide to become an agent?
Matt Sosnick: I used to be a CEO of a hi-tech company, but I hated it. I was trying to decide if I should become an agent or if I should go back and get my Ph.D. in Psychology. Ultimately, I decided I was too lazy to go back to school so I became and agent.

IIATMS: Are you an attorney?
MS: No, I am not an attorney. I have them working at the Firm, though.

IIATMS: What do you think are the most important personal traits in being a successful agent?
MS: Charisma. Charisma, not deception. Agents try to spin things to their strengths. We’re not the only good agents out there, but we try to get closer to our clients than others. The “bottom line” is the only thing that matters at the larger firms and that drives other agents to do things that we would not want anyone from our Firm doing.

IIATMS: Besides the agents, how do you staff your firm? Do you have a stable of guys running stats and data?
MS: We’re a pretty small group. We’ve got former players, some of which were once clients, plus the expected support staff. We don’t have interns or a stable of guys crunching numbers. We’ve got one guy who coordinates all the Firm’s activities, a jack-of-all-trades.

IIATMS: How does a kid who loves baseball break into this side of the business, other than going to law school? What advice would you give the kids entering college? For those leaving college?
MS: It’s nearly impossible to just break into. The best way is to intern for a team as soon as you can. Keep following up, being persistent. Then go to law school.

It’s like wanting to be President. The odds on that are 1 million to one [for those who actually want to be President]. But if you wrangle an internship with a senator, you’ve reduced those odds significantly. Same goes for getting into baseball. So many people want in.

IIATMS: What’s your vision for your Firm? Remaining smaller, closer-knit? Or becoming larger like some of your peers?
MS: We’d like to remain about the same size, but deepening the number of clients.

IIATMS: Do you envision expanding into other sports?
MS: No. We don’t want to become a CAA (Creative Artists Agency); a factory.

IIATMS: What’s the standard fee for an agent?
MS: Standard fee is 5%.

IIATMS: What impact, if any, did Jerry Crasnick’s book “License to Deal: A Season on the Run with a Maverick Baseball Agent” have on you, your firm?
MS: It helped with notoriety. Otherwise, it was largely neutral. Other agents have used it against us. One agent photocopied selected quotes from the book and sent them to every player in the Cape Cod League to make the Firm look bad.

Ironically, there was an agent in the book that I helped land a client, even though I had never met him before. Turns out he was the agent to Josh Hamilton left me for. It’s a rough business.

IIATMS: Which organizations are the best to work with? Why? What makes some organizations more difficult to work with?
MS: The difference in any organization is their levels of professionalism.

In terms of the best from ownership, to the GM, assistant GM, scouting director, etc., the best ones for us to deal with have been, in no particular order are: Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and the Cubs.

IIATMS: Speaking of the Cubs, does Mark Cuban stand a chance at buying the Cubs or will it land in the hands of a Friend of Bud?
MS: I’d be very surprised if Cuban ends up owning the Cubs, but that’s just speculation on my part, nothing more.

IIATMS: There’s been a recent trend of locking up rookies with longer term contracts to buy out their arbitration years. How do you advise your players?
MS: It’s completely a risk/reward discussion. Anything can happen to a player and we do encourage players to gain a sense of financial security who are concerned about that. And those that succeed will have a chance at a big contract again anyways. We just had Freddy Sanchez and Dontrelle (Willis) sign longer term deals so the money will be there again later if they perform. And if they don’t, they still have the benefit of the guaranteed money. Same goes for the younger guys.

Regarding Jay Bruce, we’re open to a discussion. But he’ll still have a chance at a big money contract down the road if he continues to progress, no matter if he signs a deal now or not.

IIATMS: What’s an arbitration hearing look and feel like?
MS: It’s an uncomfortable thing. No one likes going, which is why these things tend to be settled prior to a hearing. Teams don’t want to offend their players and players don’t like hearing the bad things that a team might say. But it’s looked at as a big negative if the player does not show.

Again, it’s all about perception. Boras was 0-11 in arbitration hearings but was selling himself on his skill in that environment.

IIATMS: What sort of things do you and the guys at your firm read? Asked differently, do you guys dive down into bowels of the internet/blogosphere for ideas, insight, opinion?
MS: Well, my mom actually found your blog, not me. She’s got a Google Alert set up.

We don’t really read that much; we just don’t have the time.

IIATMS: What rules would you like to see changed (with regards to labor, such as the Draft)?
MS: The Draft actually works to our strengths. Your agent is a big determining factor where you are actually drafted. Teams trust us to get the deal done. We have less signability issues and have had guys drafted ahead of their predicted spots as a result.

IIATMS: What rules would you like to see changed (on the field)?
MS: I’d like to see Instant Replay for home run calls. It’s more important to get it right. The umpires have such a difficult job and they do a great job at it, but with some of the configurations of the ballparks – such as a line determining a boundary – it’s just very difficult to make every call.

I’d like to see the manager be allowed to request a replay, though.

IIATMS: What’s draft day like for you? How does your firm cover all the draftees?
MS: We’ve got all of our employees together. It’s set up like a war room, with all the names on magnets. It’s an exciting day.

A few years ago, the draft was “it” for us since we didn’t have many guys in the majors yet. It’s how we built our business.

IIATMS: Losing a client is undoubtedly difficult and I know that losing a big client on the cusp of a big contract is especially painful. How did your peers react? What about your clients?
MS: Let me clarify an error: We have not had Josh Hamilton as a client since his draft day. He was a client of ours only since he was acquired by the Reds. He was introduced to us by a rather sketchy financial advisor. That bad link was a bad omen.

Let me also say, I like Josh Hamilton and I wish him nothing but the best. But once you use the Christian- or God-card, it’s impossible to take that back. In the days prior, Josh and his wife were very complimentary of us. They were very happy with the work we were doing for them. We were supposed to fly out and meet with them a few days later, but the next day, we were notified that we were fired.

IIATMS: Do you have a motto or mantra that guides you? I’m partial to “the essence of loyalty is reciprocity”, which, I think, describes your approach pretty well, too.
MS: Yes. “You have the decision whether karma will work for you or against you”. I place an unfair premium on loyalty. I give those loyal to me ten times that loyalty in return. That’s just how I am. I’m getting married in August and I’ve been friends with all of my groomsmen for at least 20 years.

There’s no coincidence that the clients we like the most are the most loyal. Guys like Josh Willingham, Josh Johnson, Darrell Rasner. These guys have become some of my best friends, not just clients of mine. I’d have it no other way.

That’s what differentiates us. Every year, before the season, we take all of our clients and their families on vacation. We want to build that relationship with not just the player, but those closest to him. We view it more like a fraternity mindset. It’s not for everyone but there is a reason these guys are with us.

Generally, we’ve got a stable of guys who share a similar philosophical mindset: They have limited expectations on what the world owes them and they are thankful for all they have. These are the guys who rarely get into incidents or embarrassing situations.

IIATMS: Do you think owners are united in their stand against guys like Sosa, Bonds, Gibbons and some of the other Mitchell Report guys? Or is it simply a matter of teams trying to get younger/cheaper?
MS: It’s a joke to think that there is a conspiracy. I have no doubt that Barry could be a productive hitter right now. But the risk doesn’t equal the reward. It’s not the on-the-field production for these guys, but the off-the-field distractions, headaches. There’s a lack of continuity as well and no GM will stick his ass out on the line for that risk.

IIATMS: How do you help guys handle disappointment? Dontrelle’s in Single A after struggling mightily this year. He’s been a long time client (with your firm logo tattooed on his throwing arm as a show of loyalty), so I’m curious how you help him.
MS: We’ve simply reminded him that he’s still got the stuff to be a successful major league pitcher. Everyone wants him to work it out. The Tigers are and have been reasonable and well within their rights to demote him. They invested in him and want to help him become a productive member of the club. We all want to see Dontrelle succeed and we’ll do anything we can to help him.

IIATMS: Can an agent drop a client as easily as a client dumping an agent? Why would this be done?
MS: Yes, you can. I think you have to be more established to do so. When I started, I was too insecure to consider doing that. But now we strive to represent a different kind of player. Better quality guys are less at risk.

We would drop a client for things like domestic abuse. We have no stomach for that.

IIATMS: How bitter can rivalries between agents get when competing over players, draft picks, etc.?
MS: Worse than you can ever imagine.

There are a ton of amoral guys out there, dying to make their numbers. With so many millions on the line, some guys would stop at nothing to steal a client or smear your name, guys with no barometer in their morality. Just look at the guy who sent excerpts from the book to every player in the Cape Cod League.

Players who want to be wow’d with hookers and strippers will go somewhere else, to the LA firms. That’s fine by me. We’re looking for a different player to represent.

IIATMS: Bonus question time! You're a huge Dave Matthews Band fan. What’s your favorite DMB album?
MS: The first Dave & Tim Reynolds acoustic album. With the whole band, either the live at Red Rocks or “Listener Supported”. I’m also as big a Counting Crows fan as I am of DMB.

IIATMS: I'd once again like to thank Matt Sosnick for being so generous with his time.

Other Sosnick/Hamilton-related postings:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday fun: Video time, soccer style

OK, it's likely not real but it's funny and it's Friday.

Have a great weekend.

Goose probably hates you, too

Evidently, Goose Gossage seems to hate everything about baseball today. He probably hates me for having the nerve to post my thoughts without being employed by a newspaper. He probably hates you for daring to read it. New fangled interwebs.

I'm not really sure why he's so anti-expression and anti-emotion, considering his emotion is what made him one of the most feared pitchers of the 70's and 80's. But he is and I find it silly.

Gossage believes the dancing antics of Jose Reyes are one reason why the Mets have been in a tailspin since last September.

"There's not enough mustard in the city to cover Reyes," said Gossage, who was at the Stadium to give a pitching clinic to Bronx Little Leaguers and raise money to support inner-city youth baseball leagues in six cities. "He needs to act like a professional.

"I don't want this sport to turn into football where they dance after every play. I can't stand that - the dancing, the laughing - there's no place for that in the game. He's not the first great player to play - I wouldn't even say great because he hasn't won anything yet."

Gossage also ripped Joba Chamberlain last month for his fist-pumping antics, but later spoke to the rookie to make sure his words weren't taken out of context.
Yeah, so stuff that in your Z-Cavaricci's and burn 'em. And get off his damn lawn, too!

Schilling done?

(H/T to the ProJo SoxBlog, emphasis mine)

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, on this morning's edition of the WEEI radio show Dennis and Callahan, said that he will have shoulder surgery on Monday, ending his chances of pitching this season. The 41-year-old right-hander went on to say that "there's a decent chance that I have thrown my last pitch, forever."
There are lots of Yankee blogs chatting about this today. What I have seen a lot of, that I really don't like, is that people seem to be taking a twisted joy in knowing that Schilling is hurt and possibly done for his career. I enjoy watching the Sox lose as much as any Yankee fan, but I don't think I have ever cheered an injury. And I am not going to start now.

I'm a fan of the game, a fan of the team I grew up watching, a fan of the players who have made the most of their incredible skills. Cheering when a player, even on your most bitter rival, suffers a possible career ending injury is just so low, so weak, so cowardly, so... disgusting.

I might think Schilling is a pompous blowhard (as do others). I might not like his approach and tact on certain things. But, he's entitled to his views and opinions as much as I am. He's incredibly generous and charitable. I will not cheer his injury.

Switch hitter vs. switch pitcher

Turns out, the Yanks have a minor leaguer who's a switch pitcher. So what happens when a switch pitcher meets a switch hitter? Pure comedic genius.

(H/T to the good folks at Bugs & Cranks for the video; thanks to my bro for the tip-off)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An interactive gangbang

No, not what you're expecting, you perv! This is a PG site! It's just the hook quote from an article about the bloggers vs. the old guard. From blogger fan extraordinaire Buzz Bissinger:

The younger generation likes the snarky tone,” says Bissinger. “They like the gossip, they like the juice. I don’t think they really appreciate good writing and reporting, and those, to me, are precious arts. . . . It’s all some interactive gangbang.”
At least he's not saying we all live at home in our parent's basement, sitting in our underwear. Or are they?

Retort from ESPN's Bill Simmons:
Those guys had it easy up until the mid ’90s,” argues ESPN’s Simmons, whose online oeuvre has made him arguably America’s best-known sportswriter. “It was an old-boys network, there was no accountability, nobody was calling them out. And their jobs were protected by the union, so it didn’t even matter.
And the notion that sports bloggers don’t want access? That they’d rather sit in their mother’s basement (to use a favorite old-media slight) than actually report on the athletes they’re covering? Simmons swears it’s bogus, at least in his case. “I wanted to be in the clubhouse,” he recalls. “I couldn’t get a job at a newspaper because nobody ever left, and nobody would give some schmuck writing on the Internet a press pass. So what was I supposed to do, give up? I started writing a column about sports from the only perspective that I had — the voice of a fan — and it worked. I’m not going to apologize for it.”

The bottom line,” Simmons concludes, “is that these guys never, ever fucking leave. That’s one reason sportswriting took off on the Internet — because you had a whole generation of frustrated wanna-be sportswriters who couldn’t get a chance to do what they wanted.”

Ya got that right, Bill.

Why I hate Kyle Farnsworth

I was asked why I hate Kyle Farnsworth. I had to step back and and explain it in a different way. He seems like a nice enough guy (except when you charge the mound). He seems like he cares and genuinely wants to win and succeed. So here's how I explained it:

I hate Kyle Farnsworth because he's got so much natural talent and all I want is for him to be as great as his talent. Because of those expectations, it makes me hate his failings that much more. I don't hate LaTroy Hawkins because I don't think he has the natural stuff that Farnsworth does, therefore I hold lower expectations than Farnsworth. Maybe I just need to lower my expectations for him. But that's hard for me to do since I can see how much God-given talent this guy has.

This is why fans boo their stars, I think. We want them to succeed SO badly, when they fail, we're disappointed. We know they are supremely talented and we want that talent to shine.

Major league ballplayers can hit speed when it's just speed. When there's no movement, professional hitters can catch up to 100MPH straightballs. As my Dad yelled to me over the phone the other day: "Just move your middle finger over a half an inch and make the ball move a little!"

Jeter overrated, says MLB players

Interesting that a Sports Illustrated survey of 495 MLB players showed that Derek Jeter was voted most overrated.

In a Sports Illustrated survey of 495 Major League Baseball players in its June 23rd issue, Jeter was voted the most overrated player in the game, grabbing 10 percent of the vote. Teammate Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew were tied for third in the poll, each with a seven percent share.
Ironically, when SI asked MLB players, “Whom would you pick to build a team around?” in a separate survey last week, A-Rod ranked first and Jeter second.

I won't weigh in here. You tell me. Is Jeter overrated? What makes him overrated? Or is he just "rated", neither over- or under-?
Let's hear ya. Make the case.

Don't mess with Jerry Manuel

Note to all Mets personnel: Do NOT mess with Jerry Manuel. He's a bad dude. Gangster, in fact.

Manuel met resistance from a helmet-tossing Jose Reyes on Tuesday night, when the shortstop's left hamstring tightened and he didn't want to leave the game. Reyes eventually headed for the showers, and shortly afterward apologized to Manuel for the well-intentioned insubordination.

"I told him next time he does that I'm going to get my blade out and cut him. I'm a gangster. You go gangster on me, I'm going to have to get you. You do that again, I'm going to cut you right on the field," quipped Manuel, who reinserted Reyes at shortstop and the leadoff spot for last night's series finale against the Angels.
Well, that's certainly a different approach than Willie's Torre-esque stoicism. Most pundits said Manuel's style is too similar to Willie's style and the team was looking for a spark, someone who'd give the team a kick in the rear. Maybe Manuel IS that guy. Or just playing the role...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stupid Yankee decisions du jour

I'll make this quick since I do want to escape the office, but my fellow bloggers alerted me to two lousy decisions the Yanks made today:

Ponson? What, his 10+ ERA last year just makes you drool? So what if he was having a decent year in Texas, prior to getting cut for behavior unbecomming a teammate.... I feel dirty.

And the link from Emma Span's Eephus Pitch is priceless.... The Yanks are putting a @#$%^& Hard Rock Cafe in TNYS. Seriously, a Hard Rock? Just a terrible decision. I'll try not to get all food snobbish on you, but putting a Hard Rock in Yankee Stadium, when you have so many better options, just sucks. If you have to put a chain in, put a Houston's or something else. Shoot, why not just put a Linens 'N Things in the Bleachers and a Christmas Tree Shops in the bullpen and we can call the Stadium "The Great American StripMallPark".


Bud is damn pleased with himself

In an interview, Bud announced that he's quite pleased with himself (emphasis mine):

Q: You have always referred to yourself as a purist. Are you on board with the momentum toward instant replay? How much of a role should it play in your mind?

A: Well, I don't know. The GMs voted 25-5. I guess the only thing I would say if we do it -- and I've made no decisions, because I'll agonize over that -- it will be a most limited way. I know other sports are using IR and I have different thoughts on that. I am a purist, but I'm the same purist that went to interleague play and the wild card. I took a terrible pounding for that; now everybody loves it. Those who were critics forgot they were critics. And there is revenue sharing, so I'm probably the greatest agent of change in baseball history … but I don't want to tamper with the game. I'm sensitive about that. If there's something I'm convinced will help the game, I'll do it, but I haven't quite gotten to that area yet.

Now, I think he happens to be right about that claim, but it was just interesting to hear it come directly from him.

Revenue sharing has changed the economics of the game more than anyone could have predicted. It's rare that a top player actually hits free agency these days, with so many players getting locked up earlier and longer than ever. Teams are buying out free agent years early to get the valued "cost certainty".

The wildcard is a profound success, period.

Interleague remains oft-debated, but the attendance figures don't lie. People dig it. Hank hates it. I'm OK with it, but I could easily live without it.

I still hate the changes (and lack of changes) in the All Star game. If I were Commish for a day, I'd do the following about the All Star Game:

  • Eliminate the World Series home field advantage gimmick. PERIOD.
  • Eliminate mandatory representation by every club. It was one thing when there just twenty-something teams, but with 32, too many inferior players are being named at the expense of more qualified players. OR:
  • Expand the roster sizes to accomodate the expansion in the number of teams. If you do this, you can keep mandatory representation. Open the rosters to 35 and eliminate the handwringing.

The "new" Bud

Seems that Selig has undergone a makeover. No longer the schlubby, haphazard, nutty-professor look. He's now sporting the Corporate Baron 'do/look. Was he on "Queer Eye"? "What Not To Wear"? "Extreme Makeover"? "10 Years Younger"? "Stylish Executive Hairdo's for 2008"?

Seems that he found the miracle of Aquanet or some other grease.



Of course, he still prefers button down collars with his ties, but still...this is progress!

One final Willie thought

Was reading Buster's blog earlier and this just jumped out at me and smacked me in the face (emphasis mine):

It was a Mets' bloodbath in the New York papers today for the team, in the aftermath of the strange press conference of Omar Minaya, in which he said he made the decision to fire Willie Randolph Monday morning -- despite the fact that everything down to the identity of the replacement coaches had been in the papers and on Web sites beginning on Friday. Randolph told Bill Rhoden he has his doubts about whether it was Minaya's call. Randolph also had a very different take on what his conversation with Minaya was on Sunday evening, before he got on the team bus:

"I actually asked him," Randolph said, "I said: 'Omar, do this now. If you're going to do this, do this now. I know you've got a lot of pressure on you, but if I'm not the guy to lead this team, then don't let me get on this plane.' I did say that to him."
How on Earth could Minaya let Willie get on the plane after Willie said that to him? The only rational answer is that the Wilpon's pushed Minaya to do it... but even still, why did Minaya let Willie get on the plane? Why?

This is just mean

Had to post this, taken from The SportsHernia's comments section, which is up to their usual goodness, suggesting that THIS would have been a better way to fire Willie.

Wednesday programming note

Was at Radio City Music Hall last night, attending a speech/Q&A by former President Bill Clinton, so I didn't see a pitch of any game. I'm trying to get caught up on the night I missed.

Whatever your political leanings, it's easy to see why Clinton was so popular. He's an amazing speaker, engaging, and charasmatic. I was completely riveted. I found it amazing what he's been able to do since leaving office. His Foundation has been a champion of health-care related activities around the world that is nothing short of incredible.

Unrelated thought: Thank goodness the Giants won the SuperBowl.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I need your vote

The whole Mets shamockery had me thinking: How much does Johan regret signing the long term deal? (I know the trade would never have happened without him signing but allow me to wonder what if for a moment).

That being said, there's poll to the upper lefthand side of this site and I'm hoping you take 3 seconds to vote.

The question is: Who will win more playoff games over the next 7 years (the life of Johan's contract): Mets or Twins?

This gets the the whole issue of the Mets wafer-thin farm system, the advancing age of their core, the ineptitude of ownership/leadership, etc., relative to the creative thinkers who manage to reinvent the Twins every few years. Can the Mets cash (remember that new stadium!) overcome?

It's NOT all about the Yanks, Hank

Oh lord. How do Yanks fans like me even begin to defend this? We can't. We have to suck it up as if WE PERSONALLY uttered this nonsense. Hank's an embarrassment. From the 1800's? HUH? Try 1972, numbnuts.

Talking like HIS TEAM (the Yanks) is the only one to have their pitchers running, or somehow HIS players are worth more than anyone else's makes him look like an even bigger, pompous jackass than he probably already is.

To anyone daring to read this: We all do not feel this way. We KNOW stuff happens. We hate that Wang got hurt. It sickens me. But we know it's part of the game.

But just know that nearly all the Yanks fans I know look at Hank as a pathetic caricature of his father and don't take his proclamations and utterances seriously. The dialogue of a mad man.

Hank, just shut up. Please. And grow up, please.

I'm officially angry.

Related rants by me:
For the love of all things holy...SHUT UP!
Memo to Hankenstein

It's NOT all about the Yanks, Hank (with better pics)

Classless and clueless

It's going to be widely discussed today so there's no need for me to spend that much time on it, but just to weigh in: The Mets organization proved itself to be both classless and clueless in firing Willie last night (actually, this morning).

I heard a few interesting things on my way into work today on ESPN Radio that I wish I could have recorded and replayed here. I won't quote since I'm going by memory, but here's the gist of what I heard:

  • Steve Phillips: The Mets organization works backwards in coming to executing a decision. They made the decision to fire Willie and then the worked backwards to figure out when to do it. They didn't want to do it on Memorial Day. Not on Father's Day, either. So they let Willie fly across the country and then whacked him AFTER he won, AFTER he spoke to the press, finally the press release was issued at 3:15am. So that was their plan, as pathetic as it was. They actually decided this was the best way to do this. Let that ruminate for a moment. The way this was done has made Willie a martyr, even in the eyes of the fans who wanted Willie ousted.

  • Bill Madden: The way this execution took place was the worst, "undignified, astrocious" in his 30 years of covering NY baseball, and that includes all of the Boss' pathetic, ill-timed firings. His interview was amazing in its insight and brutality. He basically skewered the entire front office. He tossed a grenade on Tony Bernazard, the ass't GM. All of the Latin players seek out Tony, not Willie. Tony would hang out with buddy Manny Acta when the Mets would travel to DC. Madden puked on Jeff Wilpon for being angry that Willie got a better contract than Wilpon wanted him to get. The backbiting that Madden described is terrible and proves there's a systemic problem within the Mets dis-organization. There's a poll on Madden's Daily News site that has the vote of 82% - 18% against the timing of the firing. That 18% thought the timing was right may give you some insight to the craziness that Mets fans are.

  • Jayson Stark: "An abomination". 'Nuff said.

UPDATE: Buster Olney's blog is out and he defines the issue beautifully in his opening paragraph:
The personnel meetings the Mets hold are said by participants to run on for hours, the discussion often turning circular and pointless. And maybe that's when it starts to happen in their organization when they get to the point where the staff members are so beaten down emotionally and intellectually that they don't have the ability to stand up and scream: Are you people crazy? Are you serious? Because this is a really bad idea -- no, no, wait, let's go one step further: It's really just flat-out nuts.

Make no mistake about it; this sort of thing happens in conference rooms and board rooms of companies daily, across the world. But, luckily for us, the Mets do it in clear view of knuckleheads like me.

Anecdote of the day

Loyal reader Osmodious shared a story in the comments section of my recent posting "Hating Boston: Not just for NY'ers anymore". Far be it from me to withhold the rants of a fellow madman, particularly one who is not a Yankee fan, with a great anti-RSN rant:

We went to Baltimore over Memorial Day and saw the Yanks play the Orioles... two rows in front of us was a Red Sox fan (who looked like something out of the D&D Monster Manual, in the 'Gnomes and Dwarves' section) and his troglodyte wife. They were the loudest and most obnoxious people in the entire ballpark...and there were a LOT of Yankee fans there!

Seriously, this asshat ruined the game for scores of people (many of whom actually MOVED to get away from him). Kevin Millar is a hero but Johnny Damon is a traitorous bum...yeah, whatever (these are the same types that boo ARod, forgetting that he was willing to take a pay CUT to play there but their management screwed it up!).

People badmouth Yankee fans, but the fact is that Yankee fans are also BASEBALL fans. Red Sox fans are masochistic retches that are incapable of feeling anything other than the huge chip on their shoulder. I have seen Yankee fans cheer an opposing player for a 'Web Gem'...and I have seen Red Sox fans shout obscenities to Jorge Posada in the batter's box about his son's medical condition. Sick, sick people.

Thanks, Os.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hating Boston: Not just for NY'ers anymore

See, it's not just NY'ers who find Boston fans insufferable, annoying, etc. The good folks in Philly, always a barometer of sanity within their fandom, had some fun things to say about our Sawx brethren:

I see people. I see annoying people. I see annoying people wearing blue hats with a red B on the front.

And they're . . . they're . . . everywhere!

Yes, it is the seemingly annual invasion of the denizens of Red Sox Nation. (Motto: In Us We Irritate.) It is a nation whose currency is based on being cloying, self-important, pompous, overly loud and, regrettably, ever-present, and the economy is great. Axis of Evil? You make your list of nations that belong and I'll make mine.

Wait, there's more contempt, and far be it from me to withold it:

There's nothing cuddly or cute about a team with a $133 million payroll. You can't be an underdog if you spend like the Kennedys. If the Red Sox - who struggled to draw one million fans under the penurious final seasons of Yawkey family ownership - were once a cold-water walk-up on Kenmore Square, they are now a gated compound on the Cape.

Oh, I know. The fans sing songs together and have other adorable rituals, and tend to overlook small things like the fact that Manny Ramirez is one of the most selfish, self-indulgent players in the game. Ah, c'mahn. He's a Sawk.

Well, self-indulgence loves company, so much so that somewhere around 15,000 fans nationwide have sent in their $15 to become official citizens in the nation, complete with membership cards and newsletters and probably a secret lyrics sheet.

Knights of the Roundtable

Only regret is that I wasn't invited, but this roundtable at Biz Of Baseball is worth the read. Of course, I have no reason to have expected an invite in the first place....

Shyster was invited (damn him!) and focused on a big topic of mine: The Draft (rule IV). Clearly, we're of the same mind, even if the system has been bent to benefit my rooting interests more than most...

I fear we are approaching a day of reckoning with respect to the Rule IV draft. It's original purposes -- to put a cap on signing bonuses and provide a means of parity-encouraging talent redistribution -- have largely been thwarted as as teams which pick high in the draft are increasingly unable or unwilling to pay the bonuses demanded by the players and their agents. This phenomenon, in turn, has allowed the richest and best teams to enhance their already-strong farm systems. I'm no wizard when it comes to this stuff, but it seems to me that revenue sharing money has to be tied to talent acquisition and development somehow, or else we're going to see an increasing talent disparity as time goes on.
I think Craig buries within the "unwilling" line the fact that MLB has set "guidelines" for slotting values. But these guidelines are merely recommendations. The ADA's recommendation that I floss twice a day carries the same threat as MLB's/Selig's recommendation. With the Yanks, Sox, Tigers and some others leveraging their resources with no fear of retribution, they are able to draft players who, based upon their talents alone, should be drafted much higher.

The system is indeed broken but don't yell at me for my team ignoring it. Can't say I didn't tell you.


Not much more I can say about Wang's injury and the possible scenarios than "ugh". I've chronicled many of his starts this year and he's established himself as the ace of the Yanks' rotation. Losing him for any extended period of time will certainly hurt the Yanks chances (even further) of catching the Sox/Rays.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's go to the videotape

With all due respect to Warner Wolf's patented call, it seems that MLB is willing to be very NHL-like and make a rules change on-the-fly. Color me stunned.

MLB presented the August date to umpires on Wednesday, for the purpose of using replay on "boundary calls" -- was a fence or wall cleared or was a ball fair or foul? -- for home runs.

The matter still must be bargained between MLB and WUA officials before replay's implementation.

"It's all premature," MLB spokesman Rich Levin told USA Today. "Nothing has been decided yet."

Might it not happen? Yep. Might it happen? Yep, too. Stay tuned.

More Sosnick, Bruce-Almighty style

With a very real fear of me sounding like a Sosnick-Cobbe shill, take a read:

Recent Jay Bruce Blog on

Importance of agents

submitted by JayBruce on February 13, 2008

What's up everyone? Sorry I haven't been writing too often lately but I've been busy with traveling and getting down to Florida. Today, being that spring training is about to start I'm going to write a little about the importance of my agent, Matt Sosnick. Having a reliable agent means everything when it comes to taking the pressure off of yourself and just making life much easier for you during both the season and the offseason. I can call Matt about anything imaginable and he will help me out with it. A few months before the draft back in 2005, I was with the Boras agency. All that I had heard about them was great things, and seeing some of the players they had was an attraction from the start. After a while things weren't working out too well between us, for no other reason than the difference in opinions we had about certain things. The Boras corporation is great for certain people, just not for me. When I switched over to Sosnick Cobbe, I saw the immediate differences I was looking for in an agent. They treat everyone in the company like family, and they are there for anything I need. I feel very strongly about this agency and its presence in the baseball world for many years to come. You guys should check out the website and learn a little more about the agency and the players that are represented.

It's about the wood, stupid

Evidently, the splintering maple bat epidemic is due to inferior wood and wood drying techniques, not the type of wood. In other words, "it's about the wood, stupid".

Every time [Sam, the company’s founder and the father of maple bats] Holman sees a maple bat break into three or more pieces, he said, it could be a sign that the maple was not dry enough before the bat was made. Holman’s company uses a vacuum kiln designed to thoroughly dry maple and help the bats remain durable and not splinter into dangerous pieces.
What about safety for the fans? Looks like Moose has our interest at heart:
Holman said M.L.B. could address the safety concerns for fans by extending the netting from behind the plate to the ends of the dugout. That possibility is expected to be discussed.

We’ve been saying that for 10 years,” Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said. “We’d like the fans to be able to go home with their teeth.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick! To the Matt phone

How do I go about explaining one of the cooler moments that I've experienced recently?

Earlier today, I received an email from someone portraying himself as "Matt Sosnick". [I know Matt Sosnick as the agent for Jay Bruce, Dontrelle Willis and up until last week, Josh Hamilton.] In the email, "Matt Sosnick" asked for my phone number so he could give me a call. Could be spam, could be one of you knuckleheads having a good prank, could be a hoax. Except in the email, there was a copied roster of players, all with hyperlinks back to Sosnick's firm's website. OK, could still be a prank (I'm a suspicious sort). I checked the website and saw that it was just that, a direct copy/paste. Super-sleuth that I am, I dug a bit into the StatCounter and saw a number of IP addresses that were coming from the same place in California. All of these addresses visited my Josh Hamilton posting from last week during the day today, right about when the email arrived. So, I sent along my cell number. And waited. Anxiously.

An hour or so later, I get a call from a California area code and it's none other than Matt Sosnick himself. The subject of Jerry Crasnick's "License To Deal". I'm giddy. I wasn't sure if he was calling to complain or calling me to discuss the situation or what.

Matt was calling to thank me for my posting and support in the face of his abrupt and baseless firing. He doesn't so much care about his public perception, like any good agent, but the rationale and timing about his dismissal clearly bothered him and his partner, Paul Cobbe. The Sosnick-Cobbe firm has a handsome list of MLB players, but is really just a smaller player in the agent business so a loss of a guy like Hamilton (and his pending commissions) hurts not just on a professional level, but a personal one, too. Maybe moreso.

As I mentioned in the posting:

I was taken aback and insulted that he'd switch his agent, one who presumably stuck with him and helped him to get this far, right as he's about to hit the lottery for himself (and his agent!). The other side of me understands, no matter how much I dislike the rationale.
Matt shared with me that Hamilton called him and told him he had a dream that "Jesus told him to switch agents". I'm not making this a religious issue, and I don't have a problem with anyone following their beliefs, but it seems awfully un-Christian-like to dump the people who have supported you through your worst times, your lowest lows. Matt had been in negotiations on Hamilton's behalf, with his obvious permission, right up until Hamilton canned him. Matt has every right to fight for any commission earned, and while I am not a lawyer, it seems that if Matt & Paul carried the negotiations to the point of signing, they should be paid the commission, not whomever Hamilton chose at 11:59.

Again, Matt could not have been nicer. The fact that he took the time to personally call me said a lot to me about him as a person, reinforcing the image crafted by Crasnick in the book. The pain he and Paul (and the rest of his team) must be feeling is still fresh and it hurts. If I could give him an "attaboy, go get 'em" pat on the back, I would have. This is a guy who cares deeply about his players, and treats them as family. While losing Hamilton hurts (see ya, multi-million dollar commission), I hope the reputation of Sosnick-Cobbe Sports grows as a result. They deserve it.

Matt, thanks for taking the time, more time than you probably expected but I appreciated it. I wish you and the rest of your team all the best. And if you are looking to staff up in NY, I know a guy....

UPDATE: Matt was also kind enough to grant permission for an interview at some point soon. If you have any questions you'd like me to ask him, please post them here in comments or email me.

A view inside Cuba's baseball prison

This is a doozy of an article by "Moneyball" author Michael Lewis and it's worth a read. But, print it out and read it as time permits. It's worth it.

There’s at least half a billion dollars of baseball players in Cuba right now and probably a lot more,” says Joe Kehoskie, an agent who has represented a number of Cuban big-league players.

Gimme a break

Newflash: The New Yankee Stadium (TNYS) construction efforts are $400M short.

This infuriates me. Now, I know things cost more in NY than most other places on the planet and let's just say that construction in and around NYC isn't exactly the most, um, efficient, from a cost and timing perspective. I won't get into the whys but let's just agree that things are more difficult, expensive, time consuming, frustrating to get done/fixed/built around here. It just is. They can add new lanes to highways in San Diego in a week but it takes years to fix an on/off ramp in NYC (I'm looking at you, Willis Avenue Bridge exit off the FDR North and the Throgs Neck Bridge).

What really steams me is the fact that the Yanks are turning to the public to foot the additional cost overruns.

State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, whose committee investigates publicly funded projects, said that the Yankees now say that if they don't get another $400 million in public financing the club might not be able to finish the stadium.

Why so mad, you ask? Because the general public will be again asked to foot the bill yet due to the prices of the seats at TNYS, most of the general public won't be able to afford going to see the team in the stadium they helped fund. Because the Yanks operations are a cash flow machine and I think they should have to foot the bill of their overruns. Because they should be responsible for delivering a stadium on budget or they should have to cover their own mismanagement or mistakes in budgetary forecasting.

Turns out, there is an IRS ruling that prohibits the additional funding of stadiums by the public, past a certain point (if you have any insight into this, please share it with me so I can post it here to remain as accurate as I can be!):

Janel Patterson of the New York City Economic Development Corp. that is working with the Yankees said the project isn't threatened. But she said the city is working to relieve an Internal Revenue Service regulation that prohibits more public debt to be incurred for the stadium. Brodsky said that IRS change also is being sought to help stadium and arena projects for the Mets and Nets.
Brodsky said Seth Pinsky, president of the city's Economic Development Corp., "told me that the Yankees have said they may not complete the stadium if this issue not resolved." Brodsky, chairman of the state Assembly's committee governing public authorities and their borrowing, criticized the closed-door dealing for millions of dollars to benefit the Yankees in the face of public transit and other needs that aren't being funded fully.
Puh-lease!!!! TNYS won't be completed due to cash? Yeah right. They'll make too money NOT to have it done on time.

I've been in favor of TNYS for a while now but at some point, the digging into the public coffers for a private entity has gotta stop. Let Hankenstein and his widening kingdom foot the bill. They are the ones who will reap the benefits anyways.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why soccer doesn't work here

Very interesting comparison done by fellow blogger and friend of the site Ron Rollins, discussing how the soccer finals being decided by penalty kicks would look if we took that same approach with MLB.

But this is why, in my semi-humble opinion, that soccer will never catch on with true American sports fans. There's no walk-off home run allowed, no 3-pointer at the buzzer, no Hail Mary with no time left on the clock. As Americans, we want more from our champions than an skills contest at the end.
Definitely worth a read.

(and that it gives me a chance to post good anti-soccer pics)

Re-examining Wang, Part VII

It's been a while since I took a game-specific look at Chien-Ming Wang's performance, but after posting Jason Grey's analysis yesterday, it was as good a time as any to reprise this thread.

Here's where it starts: Wang's first inning scared me. Hit the first batter with the first pitch. The next three batters had well-hit fly balls to the OF. The kind of shots that lead you take a deep {gulp} and wonder how bad a night it's going to be.

Except that's not what happened.

Wang came out in the 2nd and was coolly efficient there on out, throwing just 83 pitches in 7-1/3 innings. I didn't make it that far, but I have no idea why Girardi felt Wang should come out of the game with so few pitches thrown. The bullpen has been taxed lately (Joba stretching out, Pettitte's lousy effort last time out, Farnsworth hurting and generally maddening, etc.) so why go to the whip when the horse seemingly was cruising along?

So after allowing three fly ball outs in the first, Wang reverted back to his "old" self, going 15-2 in GB:FB. Finishing the game with a nifty 3:1 GB:FB ratio is hopefully a nice harbinger of things to come.

The strikeouts were again down at just two, with two walks. He needs to have a better ratio than just 1:1 for K:BB. Wang's historically around 1.5 (up to 1.76 last year) so even if he's not back up to the K/9IP of 6+ like he was earlier, he does need to boost the K's a bit. But, after the last month of very uneven (being kind here) performance, this is just nitpicking and I know that.

Wang's current "indicator" stats stand at:
K/9 IP: 5.10
K:BB: 1.46
#PC/9 IP: 14.9 (more than the 14.2 in 2007)
BAA: .246 (career low, by a lot)
GB:FB: 2.23 (career avg: 2.79, including this year's average)

UPDATE: The smart brothers manning the "Pride of the Yankees" blog over at had this to say about Girardi's (ahem) pulling of Wang {it's impossible to avoid the double entrendes sometimes!}:

In general, we try not to question the manager too much. It's never really worth it, it doesn't accomplish anything, and it just looks like you're trying to be negative. But last night, Chien-Ming Wang was, as we said, efficient and on the mark; he had thrown 83 pitches over 7.1 innings. To us, that's complete game territory. But instead, Joe Girardi risked the game by bringing in Jose Veras to finish off the eighth inning -- he promptly allowed two baserunners while it was still a 2-1 game, and the game almost went spinning out of control. (Just imagine what damage Kyle Farnsworth would have done, had he been available. On second thought: don't imagine that.)

Unless Wang told Joe G. that he was tired -- which is entirely plausible -- there was really no reason to pull Wang. It wasn't overly hot in Oakland (it was 67 degrees, unlike here in NYC where it was 100), and Wang registered the first out of the eighth inning quickly.

Anyway, like we said, there's no use being overly bitter, because the Yanks came away with a win last night. But that move just didn't make much sense.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vitamin V

We've all heard of alternative medicines and all sorts of things like that. Homeopathics. Acupuncture. Mexican drug runners. Vitamin V? Well, guess again.

Seems that old buddy Clemens and a ton of others have been using Viagra as a performance enhancer, and not for the bedroom.

Clemens stashed the clearly marked, diamond-shaped pills in a GNC vitamin bottle in his locker at Yankee Stadium, according to a source familiar with the clubhouse, perhaps keeping the drug undercover to avoid the inevitable wisecracks about all the girlfriends he needed to please.

Clemens wasn't alone. The pitcher, who is believed to have scored the drug from a teammate, joined the burgeoning number of athletes who have turned Vitamin V and its over-the-counter substitutes into one of the hottest drugs in locker rooms.

The drug is so widely used for off-label purposes that it has drawn the attention of anti-doping officials and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and beyond.

"All my athletes took it," BALCO founder Victor Conte, whose acolytes included Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, said of an over-the-counter supplement he claimed mimicked the effects of Viagra.

"It's bigger than creatine. It's the biggest product in nutritional supplements."

Among the off-label uses for Viagra, which first went on the market in 1998, it:

  • Helps build endurance, especially for athletes who compete at high altitudes
  • Delivers oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently
  • Counteracts the impotence that can be a side-effect of testosterone injections

Don Catlin, the founder of the independent organization Anti-Doping Research in Southern California, said he has been raising questions about Viagra's use in sports for years.

Catlin said he even wrote a letter several years ago to then-WADA chairman Dick Pound, notifying him that Viagra might be a doping agent.

The e-mail got bounced back by Pound's offensive-content filter, which thought it was spam.
Let the jokes begin, now.