Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cashman agrees to 3 year deal

It's official!

Cashman is staying on as general manager of the Yankees, agreeing Tuesday to a three-year contract that runs through 2011.

"I've got a job to finish here," Cashman said in a statement. "That's the bottom line."

Yeah, I was wrong last week, sort of (check the *), and I am happy he's staying. I will make the leap that Hal's more in charge with the day-to-day operation than Hank. That's a good thing, methinks.

Last week's disclaimer: * Here's my out: If Hal has a bigger role within the organization that it outwardly appears, Cashman will stay. In fact, if Cashman stays, I will assume this to be true. That's the only way I can see it happening.

Programming note: 9/30

Sorry guys, I am out of commission today. I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reader mailbag: Mets choke

This is why I really enjoy the emails and give-and-take with you guys. There are some great talents out there looking to have some fun. From Mark, a Yanks fan, who was eager to postpone work to put this together for me:

Birds of a feather?

What is it with thirdbasemen playing for the two NY teams (from Buster Olney's blog)? You could do an old edit/replace with "ARod" and "Wright" and have no difference in the message. (emphasis mine)

So there might be one tangible thing the Mets need to fix: They need to get David Wright … well, right. They need to help him work through his apparent anxiety in high-pressure situations. Big-picture: The Mets didn't make the playoffs because of their bullpen failures, as Jack Curry writes, but over the weekend, they mustered a total of five runs, and Wright had a whole lot to do with that. He cares so deeply that he puts enormous pressure on himself, and this trait seems to wreck him in big spots. He seems to leap at the ball when he's trying to hit with the game on the line. They need to address this.

I don't know how they do it. Maybe they get Wright to start talking to a sports psychologist, someone who might get the kind of help that has aided John Smoltz and Matt Garza and others. Wright is a cornerstone player who will be an MVP candidate in most years of his career, so the notion of trading him is silly. But they have to help him find a way to
relax -- and if the team's best player relaxes, this will, in turn, take pressure off the rest of the team.
Sounds familar, Yanks fans, doesn't it?

Where's the juice?

Home runs hit have dropped to the lowest level in 15 years. Miguel Cabrera's 37 are the lowest for an AL HR Champ since Fred McGriff's 35 in 1992. Care to hazard a guess why?

Home runs in the major leagues dropped this year to their lowest level since 1993, and Angels center fielder Torii Hunter thinks he might know why.

I think the steroid testing has something to do with it," he said. "If there were any guys who were taking it, they're not taking it anymore. I'd say it's a small percentage, but of course it's going to have an impact."

An average of 2.01 home runs per game were hit this year, down from 2.04 in 2007. The average hadn't dropped that low since 15 years ago, when it stood at 1.78, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The homer high of 2.34 was set in 2000, and the average stood at 2.14 in 2003, the last season before drug testing with penalties began.
Gee, I wonder why (rolls eyes). Kudos to Hunter for being able to hit with his head in the sand about it being "a small percentage", but nonetheless, the impact is real.

I made it

Five hundred and twenty-one posts. Nine months. Started with a rant on Schilling and fittingly closed with Moose's 20th and the Yanks missing the post-season. I made it. I made it through my first full season blogging. Nearly every day.

What started as some 'experiment' to see if I could get 10 people (besides my family) to read what I wrote has become something bigger than I could have expected. I'm still learning the trade but I have enjoyed it immensely.

I've gotten to interview an agent, an active pitcher and an assistant GM. And I'm not done!

For those of you who have become regulars, thank you. I take a tremendous amount of satisfaction that you guys choose to come here, hang out, write and debate with me. For those who come sporatically, also thank you.

For all of you, please share your criticisms, suggestions, complaints. I want to make this more of a collaboration than simply me riffing on the subject of the day. I've tried to get everyone involved, either via reader mail or someone like tadthebad who inspiried the Charity Challenge. Email me your thoughts. I want to hear them all.

In what will surely be a list with many omissions, I'd like to thank Craig from Shysterball for all of his help and advice throughout the year. Also, David & Aziz from Pride of the Yankees blog. Repoz & Co. from Baseball Think Factory. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com. Rob Neyer and Pete Abraham for their attention. Alex Belth, Bugs & Cranks, Tim Marchman, The Sports Hernia, Sliding Into Home, River Ave. Blues. High profile writers Tom Verducci, Buster Olney, Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, Jayson Stark, Keith Law, Joe Posnanski; none of which I have ever spoken with but I remain grateful for their years of inspiring work. There are many, many more, so please don't hate me for not naming everyone.

I'll continue to write, turning towards the playoffs, a bit about football and before we know it, we'll be warming up the Hot Stove for what should be another wild free agent season. I'm also going to do whatever I can to land more interviews with baseball insiders since the response from the three interviews was so overwhelmingly positive.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congrats Moose!

If this is his final game, what a way to go out. Oldest player to ever record their first 20 win season, age 39. Congrats, Moose.

What's next? Another year or Cooperstown? Let the debates begin!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Burnett says its not about the money

We'll see soon enough, won't we!

"It's about comfort, about being in a situation you're familiar with," Burnett said. "It's really not about the money."
I can't wait to see if he signs this extension (2 years, $30 million on top of the 2/$24m left).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Isn't it always, though?

"It was a great feeling to get the hell out of Tampa"
Andrew Brackman, NY Yankees' 2007 first-round draft pick

Isn't it always, Andrew?
Sixteen months since throwing his last pitch and then strengthening his surgically repaired right elbow at the team's Tampa facility, Brackman finally takes aim on scaling the organizational ladder and showing why he commanded a $4.55 million guaranteed major league contract that included a $3.35 million signing bonus.

He'll be thrown into the fire immediately, too, as Brackman is scheduled to pitch in the circuit's opening night Saturday...
Fellow Yanks fans can only hope he really develops into everything we hope:
... Brackman has much to prove, and not just to make up for lost time. The Yankees have tweaked his wind-up, incorporating a hands-over-the-head approach, and a changeup is now in Brackman's arsenal.

It could be an even more menacing approach from a pitcher who is a listed 6-foot-10, 240 pounds and was touching 96 mph in a recent intrasquad game.
That'd be nice. Very nice.

So low and close you can see it and almost smell it

You are so low and close you can see it and almost smell it,” said Glen Millen, who estimates that he has flown into and out of La Guardia 1,800 times since he began flying for American Airlines in 1986.

Call me crazy if you wish, but actually reading about it scares me:

La Guardia is one of the few airports in the country where pilots use land markers instead of instruments to guide their landings, along with Seattle (a shopping mall) and Washington (a river). Shea Stadium, which from the sky looks like a blue circle with a green center, is a primary runway guidepost. For one of the more common landing routes, pilots are instructed to follow the Long Island Expressway until they arrive at the eastern side of the stadium, at which point they bank the plane left around the outfield wall and head straight for Runway 31.

And tell me this wouldn't leave you freakin' terrified:
In 1964, the Mets’ first season at Shea, a pilot got an even closer look. He mistook the lights on top of the stadium for the runway and nearly hit it as the team took batting practice before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, according to sportswriters who covered the Mets that season and a player on the field that day.

Who says pilots aren't any fun or lack a sense of humor:
Until the 1980s, when radios that were used in cockpits to pick up transmitters began to be phased out, some pilots would tune them to the local broadcasts of the Mets’ games during landing and take-off.

You would dial in and you could hear your plane fly over,” said Sam Mayer, a pilot with American Airlines since 1990. “There were guys who would goose the throttles to make a louder noise so they could hear themselves on the radio.”

And frankly, anytime I can get some good Airplane movie pictures up, well, that's a good thing. Striker!

Who says chemistry is overrated?

Just witness the love that created a wonderful year of memories for the Mariners and their fans:

Things got so bad in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse during this discouraging season that one player reportedly threatened to "knock out" outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, the team's highest profile player.

A "clubhouse insider" quoted in Thursday's edition of The Seattle Times said, "
I just can't believe the number of guys who really dislike him. It got to a point early on when I thought they were going to get together and go after him."

The story went on to say that coaches and then-manager John McLaren, who was fired June 19, intervened when one player was overheard talking about wanting to "knock him out." A meeting was called to clear the air.
Paging Dr. Frasier Crane!

Disclaimer needed

Let me set this straight: The whiny ramblings of Hank Steinbrenner do not, in any way, represent the thoughts and feelings of all Yankee fans. In fact, most Yanks fans I know and have spoken to about Hank find him to be a pathetic caricature of his father.

"The biggest problem is the divisional setup in major league baseball. I didn't like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now," Steinbrenner wrote. "Baseball went to a multidivision setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement. But it isn't fair. You see it this season, with plenty of people in the media pointing out that Joe Torre and the Dodgers are going to the playoffs while we're not.

"This is by no means a knock on Torre - let me make that clear-but look at the division they're in. If L.A. were in the AL East, it wouldn't be in the playoff discussion. The AL East is never weak."

Wait, what was Hank doing in the '70's, besides probably partying with his Dad's allowance? He wasn't part of the team in any material way. So shut up, please. Seriously, shut up, stop making this inane proclaimations and directives and let your baseball people work on fixing the team without your interference.

Also, normally I discount anything by Jim Caple as the whining counterpoint to anything Hank/George says/does, but he and the other guys had some good fun poking Hank. And honestly, Hank deserves it.

You won't have Pavano to kick around any more

(sorry for the late start today; the deluge in NY made the commute painfully slow)

Mercifully, typically, quietly...the Pavano Era ended last night. Just a quiet thud. The game had little meaning for the Yanks other than trying to keep Roy Halladay from winning his 20th of the season and his 5th against the Yanks.
Pavano faced seven batters in a three-run fourth inning before Wells chased him with a two-run single to left. Joe Inglett had the other Toronto RBI against Pavano, who -- in all likelihood -- completed his Yankees career allowing eight hits over 3 2/3 innings.
So that's it. The American Idle Era is over. Nine wins, eight losses over four years and a hair under $40M.

And here's my early prediction: Pavano wins 17 next year for a team in the NL West and many Yanks fans will cry out "where was this the last four years?!?!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lego Yankee Stadium

Loyal reader Osmodious was kind enough to send this my way:

Lego artist Sean Kenney ... and a Manhattan grade schooler spent three years building a 60" x 66" x 14" replica (1:150 scale) using 45,700 bricks. As you can see, the result of their efforts so far is impressive.

I'm not sure if the picture to the right is actually part of the Stadium, but it was in the comments section and it's funny as hell.

Yanks pining for Burnett

After last night's 11K effort by AJ Burnett (1 ER, 8 IP), the Yanks are clearly eyeing him in a big way. And not just the front office:

Yankees players want Burnett with them next year so much that when he was struck on the leg by a Robinson Cano smash in the third, a player in the dugout turned to trainer Gene Monahan and said, "Go check him out."
He might be the Yanks first choice once Sabathia decides that he doesn't need the extra $45M. Just in case you were curious to hear GAKIII's thoughts on the (possibly) available pitchers:
Sabathia is going to demand Johan Santana money (six years; $137.5 million), Burnett is leaving $24 million on the table for two years when he opts out and hopes to make $15 million a year. Sheets' medical history makes him the third on the list, but he has dynamite stuff and will get paid well. Right-hander Derek Lowe is the best of the second-tier free agents and the former Red Sox is AL East-tested.

Will he or won't he?

We spend so much time trying to read between the lines of executive-speak (or athlete-speak). Sometimes it's obvious, othertimes less so. So I spent some time trying to decipher Cashman's comments about whether he will return or not.

Cashman knows the Steinbrenner family wants him back. He has not yet made up his mind, but said he would decide well before Oct. 31, the date his contract expires. In 2005, Cashman waited until the final few days to decide.

That’s not going to happen again,” Cashman said in a telephone interview. “That wouldn’t be fair to the Yankees.
We’ve had no negotiations,” Cashman said. “We’ll talk internally here, and obviously there will be a resolution to that probably sooner than later. That’s really the extent I can say at this point.”
Call me crazy, but I think there's going to be a quick "no thanks" and Cashman will walk*. I hope it doesn't happen as I still think Cashman's the right guy for the job (though we need some better scouts to help with player evaluation and more effort on development!). That advisory group that Hank alluded to must make Cashman's skin crawl.

But I think Cashman's leaving*. I hope I'm wrong.

* Here's my out: If Hal has a bigger role within the organization that it outwardly appears, Cashman will stay. In fact, if Cashman stays, I will assume this to be true. That's the only way I can see it happening.

ARod: Will he finish his career in NY?

After what's been a disappointing and frustrating season for ARod, on and off the field, could there actually be a scenario where ARod finishes his 10 year contract? If you like and believe Ian O'Connor, then there absolutely is a chance he is in Los Angeles within a few years. (Remember, O'Connor predicted ARod-to-the-Yanks long before it happened)

Alex Rodriguez will be a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by the start of the 2011 season.

OK, maybe not the Angels, and maybe not 2011. But the point is, he won't be a Yankee for the duration of his 10-year, $275 million contract, not even close.

A-Rod has nine years to go on a deal that could clear $300 million if he breaks the career home-run record, a milestone he'll need about five healthy seasons to own. At the time the Steinbrenners forgave Rodriguez for his embarrassing cop-out of an opt-out in the middle of the World Series, they were quite interested in finally getting the Babe's old record back in pinstripes.

But the Yankees missed the playoffs this year for the first time since 1993, and Sunday night sure sounded like the beginning of A-Rod's end in the Bronx. During Yankee Stadium's closing ceremony, a moment for players past and present to be celebrated like never before, Rodriguez was the one Yank to draw some boos from the crowd.

No, it wasn't a full-throttle boo; the cheers slightly beat out the jeers. Only on this night, a night reserved for those who contributed to the 26 World Series titles, Rodriguez was cast as an outsider. If A-Rod has more talent in his non-throwing pinky finger than Scott Brosius has in his entire body, Brosius — a three-time champion — was still the third baseman showered with unmitigated love.
Pretty interesting stuff. That's a higher profile writer going out on a limb and that's not all that common. I totally dig it.
Although, I can't see how it happens. Will the Angels be able to digest his contract? How much freight would the Yanks have to pay? Will the Yanks even want to send him to another AL team?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The cupboard's bare

Taking a quick break during lunch and I came across this, by Buster Olney, who had a great seat watching the change in the Yanks philosophy this decade:

From the fall of 2001 through 2005, the Yankees sacrificed nine high draft picks to sign free agents Jason Giambi, Steve Karsay, Rondell White, Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth and Johnny Damon. In addition, the Yankees' consistent high finishes in the standings -- propped up by the free-agent signings -- naturally hurt their draft position.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of value, in the big picture, to have a down year now and then," said a rival GM, "because that's the only way you're going to have a real shot at the elite talent in the draft. You can't say that out loud to your fans, but that's the truth. You might have someone fall through the cracks to you every once in awhile, but the best draft talent is, generally speaking, going to be at the top of the draft."

The Yankees have changed their draft philosophy in recent seasons, selecting the best player on their board, rather than trying to address a specific position, like catcher. They still lack depth among their position-player prospects, but they have done well in landing highly regarded pitching talent, like
Joba Chamberlain.
I wonder if the next CBA will address the losing of draft picks for signing others free agents.

(Would love to do more today folks, but I gotta jump back into this rip-roaring session.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Programming note: Tues/Wed

I will be out of touch for two days as I have a work-related event to attend. I will do my best to get something up either during a break or at night. Feel free to send me any articles or anything noteworthy.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Final game thoughts

Was thinking about how I feel/felt about the game last night. Conflicted is the word I kept coming back to. The only analogy I could think of was that this year was like my senior year in college. Bear with me, here.

Senior year of college. Probably the best year of my (quasi-)adult life. Fun, great memories, surrounded by friends, little responsibility. That's how this year has felt, despite the poor result on the field. It's been a fun year celebrating the Stadium's past. I got to enjoy the All Star game from the Stadium with my brother. I got to take in a game with my brother-in-law and father-in-law. I got to take my wife and boys on an up-close-and-personal tour of the Stadium that they (and I) will always remember.

The last month of the season was not unlike the last two weeks of college: finals. Not fun. Stressful. Reality slowing creeping in that the run is over. The finals are done, the partying is all but over (last night).

Today, reality is here. I woke with it smacking me in the face, much like it did that final day of college. Today's the day I packed up and hit the road. I stuffed my Jeep with everything worth taking and a bunch of stuff not worthy at all, but I wanted my momentos. I knew I'd be back to visit but it'd never be the same. I'd be older and I wouldn't know the students like when I was one. I'd just be some alumni, trying to relive the past once more. Today is that "first day of the rest of your life", like it or not.

I've hung onto some those momentos, but the best ones remain in my memory, reliving with my friends who are forever cast in those memories.

The Yanks season is all but over, less the last few games yet to conclude in other ballparks. Next year, they/we begin anew in a sparkling new cathedral, just as I had to eventually go get that first job. TNYS is magnificent and will be wonderful to go to. Will it lack the sense of history? Maybe, possibly, probably. Time marches on.

I loved college and I've been back a few times in the years that have passed and it was never quite the same. But my life has progressed, too, and I'm thankful for that. Progress. TNYS represents that progress. I've gotten past the closing of the Stadium as an emotional event. TNYS will create its own legacy, mystique and aura, history, moments.

I'm not tearful; all things come to some conclusion. It was a great show last night, not unlike that last party before packing your car to head home when the college career ended.

We'll have those memories, those moments, that history. That won't change. We'll just have a nicer place to make some new ones, and I am good with that.

Book Review: "Remembering Yankee Stadium"

I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Harvey Frommer's wonderful book "Remembering Yankee Stadium - An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). I have been saving this post for today, right before the final series at Yankee Stadium this weekend.

A few things: I receive no compensation for this review nor do I receive any compensation for you clicking on a link if you want to check it out.

First of all, this is not a book solely for Yankee fans. Yes, it will obviously appeal to those of you who root for the team, but really, it's a wonderful written and photographed history of the game. And you can't get through the history of baseball without spending a disproportionate amount of time in Yankee Stadium.

Rather than provide a "traditional review", I'll walk you through this masterpiece.


The opening picture is Larson with the perfect game scoreboard behind him. Turn the page and it's Maris. Then Gehrig at his speech, wiping his eyes.

With a forward by the Voice of God, Bob Sheppard, the book gets off to a nice pace.
"Where else could I have viewed the transformation of Yankee fans from the jacket-and-tie cognoscenti of the 1950's to today's bleacher creatures?"
The book is organized by decade, starting with the Twenties. The Yanks won their first World Series in 1923, the year the Stadium was opened. The history of building of the Stadium is captivating. When the Yanks decided that they'd move from the Polo Grounds to a new stadium to be built in the Bronx, John McGraw, then manager of the Giants quipped:
"They are going up to Goatville. And before long they will be lost sight of. A New York team should be based on Manhattan Island."
What I enjoyed was seeing the pictures not only of the construction, but also how truly farm-like the surrounding areas were. It's hard to imagine the Bronx as a barren farmland but that's what it was 80+ years ago. The other pictures that I found worthy of a good long stare were the ones of the fans in the stands. Every man had a hat on. A derby, a bowler, something. Every man also wore a suit and tie. And not one Boston Sucks shirt in the bunch. Go figure.

There's a picture of Babe Ruth on page 37 that I haven't seen before. We've seen every swat shot, the goofy ones, the ones with kids. This one is different. He's holding the bat in the dugout, hat loosely on his head, focused look on his face as he prepares. Besides the look, one we haven't seen in many pictures, the thing that strikes me is the size of his hands. Ruth has become a comical figure as time passed, but looking at this picture, you can see why this man was so talented.

Speaking of historical figures, there's a picture of Gehrig, on the follow-thru of what seems to be a pop-up in batting practice. I never realized he kept his bottom pinkie off the knob of the bat. And it's also interesting to see how baggy the flannels were back then. Manny has nothing on the pants back then (except they wore them short with real stirrups!)

The Thirties begin with a picture of DiMaggio hardening/readying his bat with what looks like a dinosaur leg bone. Can you imagine the players of today using a bone to harden their bats? Can you imagine a bat lasting more than one game today? On page 51, we see the development of the apartments and subway behind the Stadium. Stan's wasn't yet open for business. More men in hats. A picture of Ruth pitching in 1933 (in an attempt to draw fans during the Great Depression) clearly shows the right-centerfield wall situated 429 feet away! On the centerfield wall, in big all capital letters: BETTING IS PROHIBITED.

We see the famous picture of Gehrig, head bowed, hands clasped as Ruth, in a white suit, addressed the crowd on Lou Gehrig appreciation day on July 4, 1939. Read the entire speech that Gehrig delived and I challenge you to get through it without goosebumps or a welling of emotion. Not possible.

The Forties begin with an overturned Rizzuto completing a double play in 1941. That year, baseball got to experience DiMaggio's 56 game hit streak and there is a wonderfully innocent picture of Joe sitting behind a chalkboard with "44 equals record" on it. Can you envision a team marking an accomplishment in such a basic yet striking way today? The chalkboard would be sponsored and Fox would have it glowing with explosion sounds in the background.

If you've never seen the picture of Ted Williams kneeling between Dom and Joe DiMaggio, with his arms around both of the brothers on Opening Day 1941, this is reason enough to get this book.

One of the best things about this book, aside from the wonderful pictures, are the accounts and stories from various people interviewed, from fans to celebrities to the players themselves. They lend a perspective that adds an element to the storytelling.

The Fifties picked up the way the 40's ended, with a World Series title. And this continued through 1953, a run of five straight WS titles. Pete Sheehey, the longtime clubhouse manager, is shown loading gear and uniforms into trunks for away games. Something I didn't know: Fans exited the Stadium via the field, leaving thru the walkway in right-centerfield, en masse. Can you picture that today? The clumps of grass that would be torn up nightly! Yet, the throng of fans, hats on, naturally, packing the field to exit. Go figure.

One of the accounts recalled the distances from home plate, going from right to left: 296, 344, 407, 461 (center). Wrap your brain around those distances and can you imagine the home run totals if the players back then played in the smallparks of today? A righthanded hitter like DiMaggio would have 100 more home runs if he played today!

Jackie Robinson stealing home. The #42 just sort of calls you, in an eerie don't you forget kinda way. Then there's the play that sealed Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series:
A second-inning Jackie Robinson line drive off the glove of Andy Carey at third was picked up by Gil McDougal. Out at first.
There is a four photo sequence of this play. Seems that this play doesn't get enough recollection when the Larsen game is told.

The Sixties opens with fans clamoring for a ball in the stands. Much fewer hats and almost no suits. Times, they are a'changin'. We're reminded that Maris joined the Yanks in 1960, just another player. On page 118, there's Maris and Mantle, the M&M Boys, facing each other, bats held as if they were about to take a swing at each other. The opposite page has the buttons "I'm for Mantle" and "I'm for Maris" with "60 in '61" below each of their pictures. I can't imagine there being many who sported the Maris button. I guess it'd be as if it were Jeter on one side and Abreu on the other (or even ARod). Maris never stood a chance.

One other Maris thought (by me): What if a heretofore modest hitting player suddenly hit a record number of home runs in a season. Can you hear the doubt that we'd cast upon this guy?

Mickey Mantle Day, 1965. Mick and Bobby Kennedy. Both youthful, good looking. And neither was able to fulfill their utmost potential. What a shame.

What a way to usher in the 70's than with the famous picture of Billy Martin kicking dirt on an ump? Perfect.

Bat day, 1972, with kids given real bats. I have one from 1977, with Thurman Munson's name on it. Still have it. Not for sale.

There are two pictures of fans taking "momentos" from the last game at Yankee Stadium before the renovation. Guys lifting seats, people fisting clumps of turf. Not so much this season and certainly not on Sunday (the police will be out in force, count on it!). One account of that last game:
"By the sixth inning of that last game, all you heard was hammers. When the game finally ended, people jumped out of the stands trying to get anything that was not nailed down. They even took the stuff that was: second base, sod, signs, advertising paraphernalia, chairs. Using tools my father had brought along, my friend Jerry and I took the chairs we had been sitting on. But we saw people carrying off rows of seats."
Can you just see that?!?!

We are then shown the evolution of Yankee Stadium in the Seventies. This is the reason why I am not as anti-TNYS as most others are. The Stadium from the 20's thru the early 70's is not the same as it is now. Sure it sits on the same footprint but that's about it.

The first shot of a very young Steinbrenner, circa 1976, with the newly renovated field/stadium in the background. Talk about a reign of success/terror. Say what you will but he turned a $10 million purchase in 1973 into a multi-billion dollar empire today.

Then there's Chambliss' mad dash after the pennant winning HR in 1976, getting mobbed by the fans before he can even reach third base. My folks were there for that game, but I can't seem them trying to get to Chambliss. And then there's Reggie. And Billy. And Reggie AND Billy. The decade ends, sadly, with Munson. The picture of Munson on the screen with Nettles paying his respects is chilling.

In the Eighties, Righetti's no-hitter. We're then reminded how time spins by seeing a picture from the 1980 Old Timer's Day featuring Mantle, Martin, Maris, Joe D and Yogi. Only Yogi remains around today.

Goose and the Gator. What hair/mustache rules? A young Donnie Baseball, trim and fit. "George Must Go" sign held by two young fans. Remember how awful the teams were in the 80's? Just terrible with George trying to play some sort of fantasy baseball that never, ever worked. Take note, Hank.

Ah, the Nineties. Starting with Boomer Wells' perfecto. Then Jim Abbott's unforgettable no-hitter in 1993, his hand-less arm held aloft. Jeffrey Maier and Tony Tarrasco. The 1996 World Series Champs. A two page, eight picture spread of Jeter in his various jump/throws. What a great time to be a fan in NY. Four titles in five years. A team anyone, even the haters, could enjoy watching and that anyone could point to and say "see, that's how a team plays the game the right way".

The 21st Century. Clemens/Piazza in the Subway Series. Sepetember 11, 2001. The immortal Yanks/D'backs World Series. Michael Kay's call:
"Swung on and drilled to right field, going back Sanders, on the track, at the wall. SEE YA! SEE YA! SEE YA! A home run for Derek Jeter! He is Mr. November! Oh, what a home run by Derek Jeter!"
Then there's Pedro walking off the hill in 2003 to the hate, scorn, jubilation of the fans. Turnabout is fair play, with 2004, the bloody sock, ARod's slap, Damon's beard.

Finally a look ahead to TNYS, being built.


This book was a great stroll down memory lane. The accounts captured make bring some of the most famous events even closer. For fans of baseball's rich history, this would make a wonderful addition to any collection. For Yankee fans, it's a must.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Pavano Plaque

The "pros" at ESPN recollected their memories and the Peter Pascarelli memory was just priceless:

I've covered hundreds of games at Yankee Stadium and have witnessed some of the oft-described penultimate events -- the night after Thurman Munson died, Game 3 of the 2001 World Series when the whole world was watching, Aaron Boone, the Bloody Sock, etc. -- and felt the press level rock from the roar of the crowd. But the stadium is about more than just the games; it's the people and the players and the rituals and the everyday moments of a special place. (For example, how can anyone forget seeing Don Zimmer do his version of the then-popular Macarena while in the dugout hours before a game?) One such episode has stuck in the memory.

When you enter the press gate, you walk down two flights of stairs to the basement. Directly ahead is the press dining room, which leads to the adjacent press working room. Yankees players arriving early often cut through the two rooms to the corridor beyond that leads to the clubhouse. On one day, I walked down the stairs with a prominent Yankees veteran (he shall remain nameless) who, before entering the dining room, patted his hand on what looked like a decades-old electrical box. I asked what that was about and the player replied, "
That's headed to Monument Park; that's the [Carl] Pavano plaque." I took a second look at the box and noticed the electrical tape crisscrossed on the surface, with the words "not active" written on the tape. I looked up to see the Yankees players laughing uproariously.

Friday, September 19, 2008

F*cking Eskimos!

This is lifted from Deadspin, who's capturing many "only at Yankee Stadium" moments from their readers. This one was priceless:

Oh, Canada!. I'm at the stadium, sitting along the third base line for a Blue Jays/Yankees game. This is the early Nineties, when Toronto ruled the AL East and the Yankees roster was stocked with guys like Hensley Meulens and Kevin Maas. Anyway, it's a big crowd and four Wall Street looking guys sit down in front of us, all of them in suits and one of them wearing a Blue Jays cap. Turns out they were all from Toronto, and one of them yells something innocuous at Joe Carter trots into the dugout right before the game. Immediately, this big guy in a Mattingly gamer and a shaved head stands up, points at them and says, "I don't want a hear another fucking peep out of you for the rest of the night." The Canadians all laugh and dismiss the guy as just another New York lunatic. Two minutes later, Bob Sheppard asks us to rise for the singing of the Canadian national anthem. The Canadian guy in the Blue Jays hat starts singing along, and right at the phrase "our home and native land" gets hit in the face with a full beer and then knocked the fuck out by Mattingly Gamer, who punctuates the assault by shouting, "Fucking Eskimos! You were warned!"

Friday fun: George Brett's poop problems

Never order crab legs if you are dining with and hanging out with George Brett. You know, just because.

EDIT: Gotta say, in looking at the number of people who searched for some combo of "George Brett" and "poop" and arrived here is staggering. Hope you didn't search from work. And don't crap yourself laughing, either.

UPDATE (9/25/08): Seems that Time Warner is investigating the release of the video:

The video was some footage shot of Brett several years ago during a spring training when Tony Pena was the Royals’ manager. Brett was shown joking around with some players George Brettwhile talking graphically about how overeating can cause, shall we say, a certain undesirable bodily function.

Friday fun: Let's go Mets (fans)

Here's what happens when it's becomes more fun to watch the fans than the game:

Thanks to SportsHernia.com for the video

More Verducci

With a very real fear of Yankee Stadium-is-closing overload, I will simply point out another Verducci special. This time, telling the Stadium's story in first-person format, as if he were the Stadium, sharing stories and secrets.

It's O.K. You need not feel sorry for me. I have lived a full life. I was born in 1923, the same year as Maria Callas, Charlton Heston, Roy Lichtenstein and Norman Mailer. All are gone now. They did well in the time with which they were graced to strut about the stage. I'd like to think I have done likewise.

Besides, I really haven't been myself since 1973, when they cut me clean open and for two years rearranged most of my vital organs (even the one that nimble-fingered Eddie Layton used to play), removed some of them and put me back together in such a way that I looked nothing like I did before.

Remember 1993

Continuing a theme of riding in the way-back machine, this is a very good account of the 1993 ballclub and how they challenged the Blue Jays for the playoffs. This was the last time the Yanks missed the playoffs until this year.

It was a time when the Yankees and their fans did not consider a playoff appearance a divine right, a time when there were actually empty seats at Yankee Stadium and a time when Mariano Rivera was starting games in the minor leagues. It was 1993, the last time the Yankees did not make the postseason.
The 1993 team, which would have won the wild card if it had existed at that time, was praised. The 2008 Yankees, who have spent two days in first all season, will be panned.

I remember that team. I remember saying "wouldn't it be great if the first time they owned first was the last day of the season?" But it was the springboard to a legendary run of greatness. Will 2008 be a step back before another run or the springboard back to an era like the 1980's?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bedard to meet Barbaro

Eric Bedard, the once-studly starting pitcher who the Mariners gave 1/2 their farm for, is due to undergo labrum surgery next week. And you can bet that things will never be the same for Bedard.

In 2004, Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus studied labrum tears in major league pitchers and found that 36 had been diagnosed in the previous five years. Of those 36, only one had recovered to pitch at his previous level.

If pitchers with torn labrums were horses," Carroll said, "they'd be destroyed."
Now, anyone want to guess not if, but when, Bedard will be non-tendered?

Reviewing Cashman

Ken Davidoff from Newsday has a blog in addition to his normal byline. He does his best to assign "blame" or "ownership" to all of the Yankees transactions since 1998. He has three categories and how they related to Cashman's influence in each transaction.

I've got to spend some time thinking more about some of these but here's his take:
I've been struggling how to categorize these, and I've decided to put them
in three categories: 1) "Cashman All The Way" (ideas that he conceived and
executed); 2) "His Player, Not His Price" (for times when ownership paid a
higher fee than Cashman desired on a player that Cashman liked); and 3) "He Might as Well Have Been at the Atlantis with his Family," for transactions that were essentially performed with him as an outside observer.

Cashman All The Way: Bobby Abreu, Alfredo Aceves, Armando Benitez, Wilson Betemit, Kevin Brown, Brian Bruney, Shawn Chacon, Tony Clark, Roger Clemens (both times) Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Glenallen Hill, Kei Igawa, David Justice, Al Leiter, Cory Lidle, Hideki Matsui (re-signing in November 2005), Damaso Marte, Tino Martinez (his return), Jose Molina, Mike Mussina (re-signing in November 2006), Xavier Nady, Denny Neagle, Carl Pavano, Andy Pettitte (his return), Sidney Ponson (both times), Darrell Rasner, Mariano Rivera (re-signing in November 2007), Alex Rodriguez (the 2004 trade), Ivan Rodriguez, Javier Vazquez, Robin Ventura, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams (re-signing in December 2005), Jeff Weaver

His Player, Not His Price: Jason Giambi, Sterling Hitchcock (re-signing in December 2001), Steve Karsay, Jorge Posada (re-signing in November 2007), Rondell White, Bernie Williams (re-signing in November 1998)

He Might As Well Have Been at the Atlantis With His Family: Aaron Boone, Jose Contreras, Dwight Gooden (return in 2000), Chris Hammond, Orlando Hernandez, Randy Johnson, Travis Lee, Jim Leyritz (re-signing in November 1999), Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Kenny Lofton, Raul Mondesi, Alex Rodriguez (re-signing in November 2007), Gary Sheffield, Ruben Sierra (return in June 2003), Darryl Strawberry (his re-signing in November 1998), David Wells (return in December 2001), Jaret Wright.
Davidoff is an insider so I'm going to guess that he's got a pretty good feel to each of these. He's also hosting a chat today at 2:30pm if you care to debate/discuss. Click here.

Neyer on the Yanks, perpetual putridity

I've said many, many times that while I am not happy the Yanks are missing the playoffs, it's not the end of the world. I've often said that the Sox missed the playoffs in 2006 only to rebound in 2007 and win it all. Could it happen to the Yanks in '09? Maybe.

And although it's easy to say that you can't win with young pitching, I believe the Twins and the Rays might like to argue with you. It's obviously true that the Yankees' young pitchers let them down this year, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll let them down next year.

I do want to mention the comparison between the 2006 Red Sox and 2008 Yankees. My first thought was that they weren't comparable at all. I'd thought that the Red Sox were simply unlucky in 2006, that they had all the pieces in place.
That's mind-blowing, don't you think? After winning 95 games in 2005, the well-heeled, brilliantly run
Boston Red Sox were outscored in 2006. Hey, it happens. The next year they won the World Series.

No question, the Yankees have a lot of work to do this winter. But I hardly think we've seen the last of them.
The main point in the text above, to me, is that just because guys like Hughes and Kennedy struggled this year doesn't automatically mean they will next year. Could they? Of course, but a miserable 2008 doesn't poison the well in perpetuity. Perpetual putridity?

PS: I still think they should deal Igawa with any other parts to get a more reliable/established arm. He'd have value in the NL, particularly in a big park that can mask his fly-ball tendencies.

Schilling's ramblings

The Mouth That Never Closes is at it again, mostly bashing Manny. I find Schilling impossible to tolerate, but some of this stuff is interesting, if only for the insider view that we don't normally get.

"The guy got to dress in a locker away from the team for seven years," said Schilling, talking via telephone with Glenn Ordway and former Sox players Lou Merloni and Brian Daubach. "And then [when] he's on this crusade to get out of here, all of a sudden he's in the locker room every day, voicing his displeasure without even having to play the game that night."
"The thing about it for me, is, I haven't thrown a freakin' pitch all year, I've been the biggest waste of space, I've been robbing payroll for the entire season, no one feels worse about not contributing than me . . . I'm the last person in the world who should be telling you who's right and who's wrong in this. But I was a teammate, a member of this family, and I saw it, and it's no different than what Lou [Merloni] and Brian [Daubach] saw. And to me, it was always those guys, the guys who played a crucial role on teams that weren't the marquee players, are the ones that were disrespected the most, because if any of those players ever acted or did or said anything. [Speaking to Merloni:] Lou, you're in Seattle, and if you refused to get on a team plane, you know what they'd do? They'd give you an Air France ticket home."
[EDIT: The following quote was from Merloni, not Schilling]
"When all this stuff was going down with Manny, I remember walking in the clubhouse talking to a couple of guys, and I got one response that just threw me for a loop, and I said, 'Guys, how bad is it?' I knew it was bad, and I just said, 'How bad is it?' And all I heard, what they told me, was, 'Carl Everett.' And I lived that nightmare. . . and when I heard that, I said, 'OK, I know exactly what's going on, I can't believe it got that bad.' "

But I forgot, all Yanks fans suck because Jets fans were happy/relieved when Brady got hurt.

Time to buy a lottery ticket

So I'm late to watching the game last night (back-to-school night for the kids). I turn it on and the first pitch I see is Damon's home run. But this dude catches the ball and I think, hey, he looks familar. Sure enough, Michael Kay notices the same thing. Turns out, this guy caught Giambi's home run THE NIGHT BEFORE. Same seat, consecutive nights, catching a home run. Just incredible. Video below captures it all:

(H/T to NYYStadiumInsider.com for the video; better than some of the others out there)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Giambi's generosity

Again, something we, the fans, rarely hear about but a story worth hearing:

The Yankees were holding their "shares meeting," when the players who have been on the club for the entire season convene and decide how to divvy up the bonus given out by the commissioner's office to the 12 teams that finish in first and second place. Votes are taken on players who spent only a portion of the season with the club, as well as support staff like batting-practice pitchers, strength coaches and massage therapists.

Giambi, then in his second year with the team, quickly took charge of the meeting. Having been upset by his teammates' frugality the prior season, Giambi pleaded to vote full shares for the support staff, some of whom can earn as little as $30,000 for the entire season.

The appeal worked, and it established a precedent. Since 2003 -- the Yankees' disappointing finish will be no bonus this year -- the support staff received full bonuses.
But while illegal, performance-enhancing drugs will probably define Giambi's career most of all, we should make room in his legacy for his leadership in a most important department: Kindness and generosity.

Good for him. Shame that he had to fight for something that seemingly logical.

The genius of Manny

Joe Posnanski has a fun article on Manny. In typical Joe Pos form, though muted more on SI.com, he weaves a great story about Manny and his ability to hit at a level that has other pros shaking their heads.

He has a number of quotes from baseball insiders attesting to the genius that is Manny:
"When it comes to hitting, the guy's mind works on a whole other level," [Allard Baird, a longtime baseball scout and executive (and Boston Red Sox advisor)] says.
"You can't judge Manny like you judge anybody else," says
one former big league manager. "Again and again, he will make you wonder if it's worth it. But then you will watch him hit, and you will remember: 'Yeah, it is.'"
Say what you will about the way he weaseled his way out of Boston, the man is flat out destroying the NL.

Don't even think about it

Don't even THINK about trying to pilfer anything from Yankee Stadium over the last several games hosted at the Stadium.

The Yankees want to get the word out with hopes that it will deter anyone from deciding to try to steal a plate, chair back, toilet bowl seat or anything else.

Wait, I barely want to set FOOT in one of the horrible men's rooms, much less reach down and try to unbolt and carry a toilet seat. I'm sick even contemplating this.

I am sure the new men's rooms in TNYS will be much better. Errr, I hope they are, at least.

Whither Abreu, Giambi

I like Bobby Abreu. He's quiet, professional and is on base nearly 40% of his plate appearances. That said, his defense is abysmal. He can't go back on a ball and heaven forbid he gets near a wall; he acts like the wall is made of poison tipped razor blades. But he's a professional, and also, vastly overpaid. A million dollars per HR is a bad ratio, even if he's not the HR hitter he once was.

Part of me really would like to see Bobby back at some reasonable price ($17m/2 yr) deal but I can't see that happening any longer.

And unless Giambi wants to take a mere $5M over his $5M buyout, he's as good as gone. It's been a strange life with Giambi as a Yankee. Part euphoric, part embarrassing, mostly frustrating. He seems a nice enough guy, fun to be around, but he can't play ANY defense and he sure isn't getting any younger and his bat speed ain't improving. He's one of the guys I really wish I had a chance to meet in person.

With Nady returning in 2009, likely to Abreu's spot in RF, Matsui in LF/DH, Damon LF/CF/DH, plus Melky and some of the other kids on the farm now enjoying their cups of coffee, this team needs to do something. I'd look to flip Matsui to SF (Fred Lewis, please!), Melky and others for pitching.

Bottom line, these will be the last few days for Abreu, Giambi and many others. It's time. And oh by the way, Pettitte's gone, too.

(thanks to nystadiuminsider.com for the picture above)

Mick's Moonshot

Maybe you've heard, this is the last week at Yankee Stadium and some memorable things have taken place there. Put the hating aside for the week and at least acknowledge that the place does house some incredible moments.

On May 22, 1963, in the 11th inning of a game against the Kansas City Athletics, Mantle drilled a fastball off Bill Fischer that hit the copper frieze, commonly known as the facade, at the top of the stadium in right field. A few feet higher and the ball would have left the ballpark completely. It is estimated the ball would have traveled over 700 feet if the facade were not there. No major-leaguer has ever hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium.

Mantle called it the "hardest ball I ever hit." He hit the facade at least two other times in his career. This famous photograph shows the ball's trajectory, how far the facade was from home plate, and how high it was.

700 feet? I can't see that as remotely possible, but I never took physics. So I did some quick sleuthing and found this article about HR distances claimed:
In order to fully understand and appreciate long-distance hitting, a frame of reference should be established. Any drive over 400 feet is noteworthy. A blow of 450 feet shows exceptional power, as the majority of major league players are unable to hit a ball that far. Anything in the 500-foot range is genuinely historic. For perspective, consider the computerized measuring system implemented by IBM in most major league cities in 1982. By 1995, the sponsorship had changed, but the program had been expanded to include every big league ballpark.
It should be noted that those regular references over the years to 500- and 600-foot home runs were born out of scientific ignorance, misinformation, or even deliberate exaggeration. The most common cause for overstatement has been the basic misconception about the flight of a batted ball once it has reached its apex. Seeing great drives land atop distant upper-deck roof, sportswriters observing the occurrence from a press box would resort to their limited skills in mathematics without any regard for the laws of physics. Perhaps the ball had already flown over 400 feet, whereupon it was interrupted in midflight at a height of 70 feet above field level. Awed by such a demonstration of power, the writers would then describe the event for posterity as a 500-and-some-foot home run. With the guidance of our scientific brethren, we know that once a batted ball has reached its highest point and lost most of its velocity, it falls in a rapidly declining trajectory. The aforementioned fictional home run could have been reported at 550 feet in a prominent newspaper, and re-created at that length by historians for years thereafter, when in fact it traveled about 100 feet less. Hyperbole has always been part of the phenomenon of long-distance home runs, and this factor must also be considered.

By his own account [Mantle] hit the longest home run of his career on May 22, 1963 at Yankee Stadium. The ball struck the facade on the right-field roof approximately 370 feet from home plate and 115 feet above field level. Almost everyone in attendance believed that the ball was still rising when it was interrupted in midflight by the roof structure. Based upon that belief, this drive has commonly been estimated at about 620 feet if left unimpeded. However, the reality is that the ball was already on its way down, and those reporting the trajectory were victimized by a common optical illusion.
So there.

Posturing on TNYS

Imagine that, a politician making The New Yankee Stadium an issue as the Yanks prepare to close the old ballpark. Shocking, I know.

Notice, I didn't say that the politician is necessarily wrong, but I just can't stand politicians. All of them.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said the commitment of $550 million to $850 million in taxpayer money was based on an unsubstantiated threat that the Yankees would leave New York. He said in a new report that the team predicted the public investment would generate 1,000 new permanent jobs, but the actual total would be 15.

Brodsky also criticized the deal for not making affordable tickets available to lower income New Yorkers.
Now, Brodsky might be right. Of course, the Yanks mouthpiece refuted those claims:
[Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion] said Brodsky’s statements were inaccurate, noting that 1,000 permanent jobs will be created — not 15 as Brodsky claimed, citing public statements by the city and Yankees.

She also said ticket prices are very affordable, with about 35 percent of tickets priced at $25 or less and half the tickets priced at $45 or less.

It is disappointing that Assemblyman Brodsky, for personal aggrandizement, is attempting to insert himself into the final week at the current Yankee Stadium,” she said.
The Yankees noted, as did [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg, that Brodsky had twice voted in favor of the Yankee Stadium deal in the Legislature.
I can tell you this much: those tickets will be tough to get as the escalating cost for season tickets will push the "regular folks" who had season tickets higher up the bowl to just keep their costs close to constant.

My question is: Are those 1,000 permanent jobs INCREMENTAL to what were already permanent jobs in and around the Stadium? Was Brodsky's count of 15 the incremental amount? Or are those 1,000 merely a recounting of those existing jobs and counted as if the Yanks were considering leaving the area?

Torre, Santo, Kaat and others

The Veterans Committee, which is composed of the 64 living Hall of Famers, has been handed the list of the 10 finalists for consideration for election to the Hall of Fame. The list includes:

  1. Dick Allen
  2. Joe Torre
  3. Maury Wills
  4. Jim Kaat
  5. Luis Tiant
  6. Gil Hodges
  7. Ron Santo
  8. Tony Oliva
  9. Al Oliver
  10. Vada Pinson

You can prepare yourself now for the Santo debate, which is sure to be a hot one. Was Kaat too much of a compiler? What about Torre?

If you had to pick ONLY ONE, who would you elect and why? Their abridged resumes are below:

Allen, a first baseman, batted .292 with 351 home runs and 1,119 RBIs over a 15-season career. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1964 with the Philadelphia Phillies and the American League MVP in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox. The seven-time All-Star was a league leader in extra-base hits and slugging three times each, and home runs and on-base percentage twice apiece.

Torre, a catcher and corner infielder in 18 Major League seasons, was a .297 career hitter with 252 home runs and 1,185 RBIs. He hit over .300 five times and totaled 2,342 hits. He was the NL MVP as a third baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971, when he led the league in batting (.363), hits (230), RBIs (137) and total bases (352). The current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers played in nine All-Star Games and was a Gold Glove winner as a catcher.

Wills, a shortstop, was the NL MVP with the Dodgers in 1962, when he set a record with 104 stolen bases while also banging out 208 hits and scoring 130 runs. The switch-hitter led the NL in steals six times and also led the league in singles four times and triples once. A .281 career hitter with 2,134 hits, he won two Gold Gloves and was named to seven All-Star teams.

Kaat, a left-hander, pitched in 25 seasons over four decades (1959-1983) and compiled a 283-237 record with a 3.45 ERA. The three-time 20-game winner had 2,461 strikeouts in 4,530 1/3 innings and won 16 Gold Glove Awards.

Tiant, a right-hander, was 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and 2,416 strikeouts in 3,486 1/3 innings. He was a 20-game winner four times and led the AL in shutouts three times and ERA twice.

Hodges batted .273 with 370 home runs and 1,274 RBIs in an 18-season career in which he was selected to eight All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves. He played in seven World Series with the Dodgers, earning rings in 1955 and 1959. As a manager, he directed the "Miracle Mets" in their 1969 championship season.

Santo, a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, hit .277 with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBIs in 15 seasons, all but one with the Chicago Cubs (he spent one year with the Chicago White Sox). He led the league in walks four times and on-base percentage twice.

Oliva, who was plagued by knee injuries later in his 15-year career, all with the Minnesota Twins, won three AL batting titles, including each of his first two seasons. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1964 and twice was the runner-up in MVP balloting (1965 and 1970). A .304 career hitter with 220 home runs, he led the AL in hits five times and doubles four times. He played in eight All-Star Games.

Oliver collected 2,743 hits over 18 seasons as a .303 hitter with 219 home runs and 1,326 RBIs. The seven-time All-Star hit over .300 11 times and won the NL batting title in 1982 while with the Montreal Expos. That year, Oliver also led the league in hits (204) and RBIs (109). He was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates' World Series championship team of 1971.

Pinson had four 200-hit seasons in an 18-year career in which he hit .286 with 256 home runs, 1,170 RBIs and 305 stolen bases. A Gold Glove winner in center field, he was a league leader in hits, doubles and triples twice each, and was a four-time All-Star.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Verducci on the end of The Stadium

I know I seem to be worshipping at the feet of Tom Verducci lately --and that's true-- but with good reason. Verducci catalogues his experiences as a young beat writer covering the Yanks thru the years and how that's changed:

George Streinbrenner would call, and listen to the manager tell stories for an hour or more before a game (no one sits in the manager's office any more), or pull up a chair or sit at a picnic table in the middle of the room to talk with players about restaurants, current events, movies and maybe even some baseball (writers are no longer allowed to sit at all in the clubhouse, even to conduct interviews with a seated Yankees player, even if the player invites you to take a seat, and so the disconnect between player and writer, and by proxy, to you, widens.)

Verducci also does a pretty good job laying out why the Yanks have been so terrible this year:
It will all be gone soon. The Yankees made sure it would go quietly, without the postseason sendoff it deserved, with a plan for 2008 that could not have turned out much worse. They banked on young pitching and a 900-run offense. But the young pitchers were dreadful, hurt or both. The Yankees got 68 starts from pitchers in their 20s, and the combined record of those pitchers in those games was 17-23.

The offense sputtered because 1) Jorge Posada was hurt, 2) Alex Rodriguez was at his worst in big spots (he has driven in seven runs all year in late-and-close situations, less than half of what Robinson Cano had in a bad year), possibly because he stopped using the whole field (his opposite field hits by year since joining the Yankees: 23, 25, 28, 15, 9, and 3) the Yankees had neither the homegrown talent or the front office smarts to find good complementary players to withstand injuries the way Boston and Tampa Bay did. Xavier Nady was a good addition, but otherwise the Yankees' support players were dreadful. They gave 18 percent of their total at-bats to non-players Jose Molina, Wilson Betemit, Ivan Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Chad Moeller, Morgan Ensberg, Shelly Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, Justin Christian, Richie Sexson, Cody Ransom and Chris Stewart. Those players hit .221. The Yankees had a National League offense, if that. The 7-8-9 spots in the Yankee lineup, excluding pitchers, posted a .295 OBP. The Cubs, with pitchers taking most of the plate appearances, had better production from the nine hole (10 homers, 60 RBI) than did the Yankees (8, 38).

I'll have a bunch more to say and discuss before we get to the playoffs about my Stadium experiences. Care to be heard? If you care to share any of those Yankee Stadium experiences (good or bad, I won't discriminate) with me, email them to me and I'll try to post a bunch. Just make sure you take the time to at least quasi-edit them.

Also, I've also got two books to discuss that will get the nostalgia buffs all excited.

Jeter vs. Rose

I like Joe Posnanski as much as the next seamhead, particularly his wandering, meandering longer rambles. Here's one of his that debated Rose vs. Jeter, chock full of chunky stats and creamy goodness.

Have at it.

The senseless destruction

Yesterday, I sent Shysterball a link that I had every intention of diving into, but due to work committments, I was unable to address. I thought it worthy of mention and Craig did as well.

So, a day late, I point you to this wonderful rant by Gary Huckaby at Baseball Prospectus.

Tim Lincecum threw 138 pitches against San Diego last night.

Let me make this as clear as I possibly can.

That is utterly, completely, and colossally reckless, stupid, arrogant, and just plain lazy. Send in all the nasty emails calling me a geek who’s never played you like. Feel free to point out that Lincecum’s “just different”,”rubber armed”, or a “freak of nature”. It’s still mind-blowingly stupid, risky behavior.
I could have easily taken the entire rant as it's beautiful in its simplicity, its brevity, its edge.

Now, to dive a little deeper.

Baseball Prospectus has a neat little stat called PAP, or Pitcher's Abuse Points. If you want to dig into the math, feel free, but I'll just go with the data as presented. Care to hazard a guess who ranks el numero uno in PAP this year (thru 9/15/08)?
  1. Tim Lincecum
  2. CC Sabathia
  3. Roy Halladay
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Matt Cain
I went to #5 to include Cain. The two best assets of a asset-devoid team like the Giants are being abused, as defined by BP. Criminal for a team with no chance to do anything this year.

That's one way to look at the Lincecum abuse. The other is to layer in SI.com's Tom Verducci's Year After Effect. Verducci had his list in February of players most likely to suffer from the YAE in 2008 and I did the follow-up mid-season and the results were alarming. As a reminder of the general rule of thumb:
It's like training for a marathon. You need to build stamina incrementally. The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It's a general rule of thumb, and one I've been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it's amazing how often they pay for it.
In 2007, Lincecum's rookie season, he pitched 146.1 innings. So far in 2008, at age 24, he's at 207.2. Simple math shows that he's blitzed the YAE barrier some time ago, like early August. He's +60 innings over his previous career high. Know who else was +60 IP last year over their career high? Ian Kennedy (+61) and Fausto Carmona (+56). Care to wonder how either has fared this season? Short answer: not good. Carmona's made just 20 starts (hello DL) and sits at 8-7 with a 5.16 ERA at age 24, more than two full runs higher than his stellar 3.06 ERA last year (where he placed 4th in CY voting). Kennedy is 0-4 in just 10 starts (injury, ineffectiveness) with an 8.17 ERA, just a smidge higher than his 1.89 ERA in just 3 starts last year.

Lincecum's been heralded as a freak. Verducci penned a really strong article on him not that long ago, talking about his unorthodox training methods and his overbearing incredibly attentive father. Verducci was gushing about his mechanics:
The quickness of Lincecum's small body is what scared off most scouts -- that and what has become something of a trademark, a tilting of his head toward first base in the early phase of his delivery. The scouts equated his body speed with violence. That assessment, however, is akin to watching the Blue Angels air-show team and not seeing the precision because of a fixation with the implicit danger. Lincecum generates outrageous rotational power -- the key element to velocity -- only because his legs, hips and torso work in such harmony.
Where Lincecum truly separates himself from most pitchers is the length of his stride. It is ridiculously long as it relates to his height. And just as his left foot, the landing foot, appears to be nearing the ground at the end of his stride, he lifts it as if stepping over a banana peel -- extending his stride even more. The normal stride length for a pitcher is 77% to 87% of his height. Lincecum's stride is 129%, or roughly 7 1/2 feet.

Yes, I am really concerned for Lincecum. I hope he can buck the trend and continue his ascention to the top pitcher in baseball.
Tim is a treasure, a reliable, workhorse major league starter, but also a testament to that unmeasurable art and mystery that always remain within the discipline of pitching. "My dad would notice itty-bitty things with my mechanics and make it second nature for me," Tim says. "Now I'm making adjustments quicker. It's nice to have him there, but I don't need him there to tell me what's going on. I can make those adjustments pitch to pitch now as opposed to game to game."

Good luck, Tim. I'm rootin' for ya, in spite of your management.

Sabathia's reluctant romance?

No new news that Sabathia is a California guy. That dream house hasn't yet been purchased or ground broken. Everyone and their grandmother knows that the Yanks will be aggressive in courting Sabathia. Hank's said as much.

'Cept John Heyman had this to say about Sabathia and his (pending) reluctant courtship with the Yanks:
The latest scuttlebutt heard on Sunday is that Sabathia does not want to go to the Yankees, who are nonetheless expected to make the biggest bid for the free-agent star.

A person close to Sabathia said a few days ago that the pitcher does indeed prefer to play in California "if all things are equal'' but also insisted that Sabathia has become "more open-minded'' about playing in one of the other 17 states, provinces or districts that have major league baseball. That person said that as recently as two years ago he couldn't have envisioned Sabathia choosing anywhere outside California but now could see it.
Heyman envisions the Angels making a big play on Sabathia, which means that they couldn't sign both Teix, who they love, and Sabathia. They are incredibly well run but they don't pull Yankees-level revenues.

So will Sabathia sign for the highest amount and call all of these writers "misinformed" about his dislike/disinterest in the Yanks? Or will he be true to his heart and signs a lesser deal in an area that makes him most happy?

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A lost day

Sorry guys, had a major busy day today from the get-go, precluding me from spouting my usual drivel. I'll be back at it later tonite (if possible) or tomorrow morning. I promise or your money back.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Posada's influence

One thing I haven't really considered --mostly because I lack the credentials to wander thru the locker room before and after games-- is how the impact of Posada's absence has affected the team.

The Yankees did not expect Posada to duplicate his 2007 season, when he hit .338, but they relied on him for extra-base power and at-bats that wore down opposing pitchers.

They have also missed his presence as a clubhouse enforcer. Girardi is relentlessly upbeat, and the captain, Derek Jeter, is even-tempered and optimistic. Posada, who played only 51 games before season-ending surgery, has a different leadership style.

We’ve missed him tremendously,” Long said. “First of all, Jorge’s one of those no-nonsense guys who will jump in a player’s face, jump in a coach’s face. He’s got that mentality of, ‘You know what, I don’t really care about this or that, this is how we’re going to do it. If I don’t like what I see, I’m going to tell you.We miss that.”

Hank's mad as hell and is not gonna take it any more

Seems that Hank's going to wrest the reigns from whomever seems to be holding them (read: Cashman) and do whatever he damn well feels like this off-season.

“Suffice to say, there’s not going to be any more, on my part, of trying to keep everybody happy. If I want somebody, I’m going to go after him,” Steinbrenner told The Record by phone this afternoon.

Immediately after the season, Steinbrenner plans to review the entire organization. “Just as my dad would have,” he said, adding that George Steinbrenner has equally been dismayed by the Yankees’ fourth-place standing. “It’s been a very disappointing year for both of us."

Now, he's also on record of stating that he and his brother, Hal, want Cashman back. Except this time, he's made it clear that he wants more cooks in the kitchen to help make decisions and evaluate things (read: say yes to whatever Hank wants).

Pete Abraham, beat writer and author of the LoHud Yankees blog, was also all over this:
This should provide comfort to Yankee fans.

I’m going to be reviewing the entire organization,” Hank Steinbrenner told the AP in Tampa today. “We’re going to do everything we can to win next year. We’re not going to wait. Do everything we can that makes sense. We’re going to fix what we have to fix. We’re going to have to look at what has been done wrong over the last five years, which I’ve had one year to try and figure out. Clearly, a lot of mistakes were made.”

In what could be a move that drives Brian Cashman out the door, Steinbrenner is looking at setting up an advisory group to help run the team.

If Brian stays on as GM, that doesn’t mean he won’t be the No. 1 guy,” Steinbrenner said. “But the fact is, the more opinions the better. I think that’s probably the best way. It worked in the 90’s, and it can work again.”
I really like Pete's work, his frankness and his point of view and I am in 100% agreement that Hank's new stance could be the one that shoves the crowbar between Cashman and the only organization he's ever worked for. More opinions don't necessarily work better. More opinions just creates more confusion and discord. If you have a leadership team you trust (Cashman, Oppenheimer, etc.), let them do their job. If you don't trust them, fine, find a team you can trust. But to add more layers of bureaucracy to an already top-heavy organization just makes it more unstable.

This can't possibly end well, can it? Unless, of course, the thoughts that Hank's all bluster and no bite are actually true.