Thursday, July 31, 2008


Manny's a Dodger and I couldn't be happier.

Jason Bay is a fine ballplayer, a great guy to root for. He plays hard, plays the right way. Boston should love this guy. But, as an opponent, I am thrilled. Like Drew, Bay isn't a guy you have to completely fear or gameplan around. Solid guys but not game-changers.

Wonder what's gonna happen to Andruw Jones, Pierre, etc.??? What a logjam in the OF! I bet Manny thinks he'll play DH.

Kurkjian just said that Boston was afraid that Manny wouldn't play the rest of the year, therefore they made this deal happen. Looks like we were headed for "Operation Shutdown, Part II". That woulda been fun.

Sox gave up a lot to dump Manny. Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss and Manny... just to get Jason Bay for a year and a half. Seems pricey, but I know they must be using the old "addition by subtraction" mantra.

Coming soon: Operation Shutdown, part II

So, with the word that the whopper Manny to Miami via Pittsburgh deal is dead, will Manny channel his inner Derek Bell and commence "Operation Shutdown", part II?

It wasn't so long ago (just 2006) when, following a 5 game sweep at home at the hands of the Yanks in mid-August, that Manny essentially shut it down despite pleadings from Papi to keep playing.

How on Earth does Manny return to that team, that dugout, that ownership, that front office? We all know Manny could care less what they think but will he realize that he needs to perform to earn that big multi-year deal that he wants (as he turns 37)?

Then again, if I were Theo and these were indeed the requirements to deal Manny, I'd hold onto him, too:

ESPN's Peter Gammons was told by a source close to the negotiations Florida reportedly asked Boston for a cash outlay beyond the $7 million to cover Ramirez's contract in addition to two prospects. That would essentially add up to the Red Sox trading Ramirez, $9 million and two prospects for Pittsburgh's Jason Bay.
What's wrong with Florida? Why so greedy? They're getting Manny, some prospects and a chance to leap the Mets/Phillies. But $7M wasn't enough? If that's the straw that broke the deal, then shame on them. It's not dissimilar to the Sox falling a few bucks short in trying to acquire ARod (and Manny was included in that proposed deal, too).

Ehhhh, it's been as fun a Trade Deadline season as I can remember, Manny or not. But I sure am looking foward to seeing "Operation Shutdown, Part II".
"At the end of the day you're taking the field with a guy who doesn't want to play with you, doesn't want to be there, doesn't want to ... obviously effort-wise is just not there and that's disheartening and disappointing," Schilling said during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI's Dennis and Callahan program.

Does he think it's time for Manny to go?

"Would I be the only guy in the New England area that said no if I did?" Schilling replied to the question. "I think I'm probably with the consensus. It's very obvious from anything you see or hear he doesn't want to be here. And anytime that there's a piece of the equation you have a problem, and then not trading and leaving him here is a problem because you don't know what you're going to get."

Schilling was asked if he was insulted by Manny's "the Red Sox don't deserve a player like me" comment.

"I was here for the end of both Pedro [Martinez] and Nomar's [Garciaparra] situation and I'm not sure how there's any parallels there," Schilling said. "... I've always felt the organization extended a lot of courtesy Manny's way and I know Terry [Francona] as a manager, like with everybody else he went that extra mile for Manny. It's disappointing to see that not get recognized, but that happens."
"I would absolutely agree that it's affected this team. I don't question it. I've been around when it did before in '06. These are your teammates and it just makes it hard when every question, you're struggling in a 1-for-14 and grinding your [expletive] off at the plate and every question is about something that you have absolutely no control over..."

Faith in Cashman restored. Well, almost

Let's recap the last week-plus in Yankee-dom:

Ya know, if not for the mere presence of Ponson on the roster, my faith in Cashman would be totally restored. You DO realize, we have more influence than we ever thought. We got Farnsy traded, we can get rid of Ponson, too!!!

If you want some fun Detroit reactions/complaining/griping, check here. Especially the comments. They are not happy about the Pudge/Farnsworth trade. Not even a little.

What more can I say, I am pretty pleased with the events post-All Star break. It's going to be a fun stretch run.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Giambi flips off the O's

Thanks to old buddy Carl the Big Fool for the tip that the picture was on Sportscrack. Glad someone tracked it down. I had to post it.

I know it was made in jest but man, you don't see it make the TV that often.

Farewell to Farnsworth

So the (former) object of my disdain is gone.

Ironically, Farnsworth has been pitching damn well lately. Figures.

Just watched the interview with Farnsworth and you can tell there had been tears shed. He clearly wanted to stay and prove himself.

But, this is a trade the Yanks had to make. Getting Pudge is huge, considering the financial tail is short. The only concern that I have is if the Yanks offer him arbitration, will he accept? If he does, then what? If not, we get those draft picks. I love the deal.

But, who will catch for Detroit? Will Farnsworth close?

More later, but I'm on deadline!

Proof needed

Anyone have a screen capture of Giambi jokingly flip off either Millar or Roberts after he blooped a hit late in the game last night? Anyone else see it? Anyone else notice Kay pause, unable to discuss what he just saw?

If you have it, send it to jnr98 @

Manny's doggin' it

From Buster:

By the way: Manny Ramirez's time running to first base on a chopper hit down the third-base line in the seventh inning of John Lackey's no-hitter was 5.25 seconds -- faster than the six seconds it took him to get to first on the back end of a double-play groundout Monday. To put those times in perspective, five seconds is considered glacial by baseball scouts. With his team eight outs away from being no-hit, the guy dogged it running to first.

So as the Red Sox look for some creative way to make a Ramirez deal, they must consider these questions: Will Ramirez simply lay down in the last two months of his contract, now that he knows he's not coming back to the Red Sox? And will he be a daily problem that will distract from the larger concern of winning ballgames?

If the answers to these questions are yes, they should dump him.
More serious allegations about Manny tanking. I wonder what the heck Manny is thinking (doesn't everyone?) as surely other prospective teams see this and have gotta be concerned. He's going to be 37. Do you see him getting better? Faster? More team-focused?

Me either.

He's becoming Roger Dorn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gammons gets it!

Gammons declares it's "all about the money" with Manny!!! If Gammons has turned on Manny, the rest of the RSN probably has, too.

Manny being Manny means Manny wanting money. He doesn't want to wait for the Red Sox to exercise the right he gave them for the first $168M, the right to decide at the end of the season whether to pick up his option for 2009 at $20M. The Red Sox fulfilled their end of the contract; now he doesn't want to fulfill his obligation, the same way he watched his teammates fade in 2006.

He knows that this winter -- when he's 36, turning 37 next May -- he has a better chance of scoring the four-year, $100M deal he has told teammates he can get than he will after the 2010 season, when he'll be 38 turning 39. He doesn't want to have to sweat for two years at a measly $20M, and everyone knows that he couldn't care less how he gets that $100M, even if it means sitting out and leaving "family" fighting it out without him.

Expect that Manny's still hitting like, well, Manny.

Dear Sidney

Dear Sidney,

I had a good night's sleep after my mini-rant last night, a rant that was a day late and many, many days overdue. Most of the times that I complain about a player, it's solely about their on-the-field performance. But with you, Sir Sidney, it's both on-the-field and off. You've proved to many teams that you are not only an established mediocraty but also an exceptional headache to teammates.

I think it's quite a testament to baseball's need for a breathing body and rubber arm that you remain employed by a MLB club, no less than one with October aspirations. For some reason, GM's keep hiring you, despite the facts. I'll pass on the
drinking issues, bar brawls and punching a judge on the beach. I'll even pass on the being a crappy teammate stuff, for now.

In closing, I hope Cashman wakes up from a post-Nady/Marte haze and realizes that you, Fat Sid, are really a bad starter for a team that needs more than that. I hope you find employment somewhere, preferably in Nepal, though perhaps you can be commissioned to China to help suck up some of that smog. Or just leave quietly.

Jason @ IIATMS

So let's take a peek at the basics for Ponson:
2008 (combined stats, Texas & NYY):

Seriously, what makes this clown EMPLOYABLE THIS YEAR? My affection for Cashman is being tested. I know we need some innings eaters but surely we could let some of the kids from AAA or heck, even AA, give it a shot. Could they fare much worse? Ponson is effectively turning every lefty he faces into TED FREAKIN' WILLIAMS!!! He's allowing lefties to bat .337! What makes him worthy of starting every 5th day for a playoff contending team? I could post a mediocre record if you were gonna give me 8.53 runs per game!!!!

Just in case you either forgot about Fat Sid's career stats and you start barking "small sample size", I present the following:
  • 1998 (Balt): 8-9, 5.27 ERA, 1.474 WHIP, .293 BAA
  • 1999 (Balt): 12-12, 5.27 ERA, 1.462 WHIP, .282 BAA
  • 2000 (Balt): 9-13, 4.82 ERA, 1.378 WHIP, .258 BAA
  • 2001 (Balt): 5-10, 4.95 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, .289 BAA
  • 2002 (Balt): 7-9, 4.09 ERA, 1.335 WHIP, .258 BAA
  • 2003 (Balt, partial): 14-6, 3.77 ERA, 1.284 WHIP, .258 BAA
  • 2003 (SF, partial): 3-6, 3.71 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, .255 BAA
  • 2004 (Balt): 11-15, 5.30 ERA, 1.549 WHIP, .305 BAA
  • 2005 (Balt): 7-11, 6.21 ERA, 1.726 WHIP, .331 BAA
  • 2006 (StL): 4-4, 5.24 ERA, 1.617 WHIP, .308 BAA
  • 2006 (NYY): 5-3, 10.47 ERA, 2.020 WHIP, .351 BAA
  • 2007 (Min): 2-5, 6.93 ERA, 1.885 WHIP, .335 BAA
  • 2008 (Tex): 4-1, 3.88 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, .307 BAA
  • 2008 (NYY): 2-1, 6.08 ERA, 1.875 WHIP, .352 BAA
  • CAREER: 88-103, 4.92 ERA, 1.473 WHIP, .287 BAA
I'm stunned that he keeps getting chances to pitch. What stat on this array of data makes a GM say to himself "I think Ponson can help"? He had one year, ONE, where he had a sub-4 ERA and SEVEN years with an ERA over 5, excluding 2008.

Someone please tell me how this guy keeps getting chance after chance. Please! I'm begging.

Monday, July 28, 2008

For the record: I hate Sir Sidney Ponson

As you know, I have had a hate-thing going for Kyle Farnsworth for quite a while. However, I am removing the hate from Kyle and reassigning all of it, and then some, to Sir Sidney.

I hate him. I'm dedicating a whole tag just dedicated to my disdain for him. Perhaps a Yahoo! Club is next. Hell, it worked for Farnsworthless.
If I hadn't been so damn busy at work the last few days, I'd have written more, but he's the textbook reason why W-L records are no indication of how good or shitty (sorry for the profanity) a pitcher is. Ponson fits squarely in the latter category.

I'll try to get some more on this craptastic pitcher soon. Please bear with me as my work schedule has gotten bonkers (earnings season!).

However, let it be said here, for the record: I hate Ponson and I will not rest until he's oozing his primordial stink on some other club who is fooled by his W-L record.

Note: Farnsworthless just served up a 2 run HR as I typed this. Luckily it didn't mean much.

Rewind: He's The Golden Goose

In honor of Goose Gossage's (belated) election to the HOF, here's an oldie but goodie from's Vault, dated 9/29/80:

Every time Relief Pitcher Rich (Goose) Gossage steps out of the Yankees' pinstriped bullpen car, the New York fans greet him with a fence-rattling ovation. Cranked up by the noise of the crowd and the pressure of the situation, Gossage goes right to work, winning through intimidation. At 6'3", 217 pounds, he takes a slump-shouldered Incredible Hulk stance on the mound and scowls at the hitter. Then he uncorks a 95-100-mph fastball that baffles the batters, even though they're fully expecting it.
The bullpen car?!?!? Remember that? No "Enter Sandman" and a jog in from the bullpen. A ride in a car. Too bad that idea died.

"even though they're fully expecting it"... sounds awfully like Mo and his cut fastball. They know it's coming yet he'll be in the HOF next to Goose because people can't hit it.

And testimony to his durability and ability to pitch more than 1 inning per outing:
Gossage seems indefatigable when he pitches, throwing up one blazer after another, but even he has his limits. He woke up so tired on Sept. 13 after working six times in eight days that he couldn't lift his right arm. But he's fine now; witness his performances last week when he threw 2 innings of one-hit ball to preserve a 5-4 win against Toronto and completed the last two innings of both Luis Tiant 's 2-1 and Ron Guidry 's 3-0 triumphs over Boston. Explaining why he hadn't ordered a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of the Tiant game, Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer said, "I ain't bunting off a guy throwing at 100 mph."
Congrats, Goose.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yanks steal Nady, Marte

Highway robbery. Period. I can't believe no other team could top this offer.

Keith Law had this to say about the deal:

Whether or not it was the best deal available -- one front-office exec told me tonight that he felt that the return was "a joke" -- at least it's a completed deal and a sign that the Pirates are serious about rebuilding. For the Yankees, they give up two players unlikely to ever pitch for them, a good right-handed reliever in a year when they have a few of those, and a problem child with a big upside, which isn't much to give up when you're playing for right now.

The BBTN Crew weighed in:
(video deleted, sorry)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Minor league brawl

This is just insane. The fallout: The guy who threw the ball (at the dugout and wound up hitting a fan who needed to be taken to the hospital) will face felony assault charges.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And then there were three

I can hear the Establishment groaning right now, though I'd LOVE to see it happen.

Tribune Co. is inviting at least three potential buyers who each submitted bids for the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field near or above $1 billion to participate in a second round of proposals, according to a person involved in the process.
Included in the second round are Internet billionaire and
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; the Ricketts family, which founded the online brokerage that is now TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; and a group led by Sports Acquisition Holding Corp. that includes former baseball home run king Henry Aaron and former Republican Congressman Jack Kemp. The last group is believed to be teaming with another bidder who submitted an offer in the initial round.

The backstory of the Pine Tar Game

Sorry I've been so bogged down today but I couldn't let the day pass without posting this, from ESPN's Tim Kurkjian:

During the confusion, Brett said, "[teammate] Gaylord Perry wrestled the bat away from McClelland and started running toward the dugout. He handed it off to [teammate] Steve Renko, who said, 'What the hell am I doing with this?' He handed it off to someone else, who was running with it through the dugout, then up the runway to the clubhouse. Security people were running after him. They yelled into their radios, 'Don't let that bat out of your sight!' The policeman who guarded the visiting clubhouse wouldn't open the door for the guy who was carrying the bat. The umpires confiscated the bat, and, by courier, sent it to [American League president] Lee MacPhail's office [in New York]."
"About two weeks later, I got the bat back when we were in Detroit," Brett said. "I took the pine tar down to the limit, 18 inches. And I drew a red line on my bat [so never to put the pine tar above it]. I used it for two games. Gaylord came up and said, 'Why are you using that bat? That's a historic bat. If you break it, it won't be worth anything.' So I put it in the bat bag, and now it's in the Hall of Fame.

"Originally, I sold it to a collector [Barry Halper] for $25,000. But a week later, or six months later, I didn't think that was the right thing to do. So I bought it back for $25,000. And I gave Barry the bat that I used when I hit three home runs in one game off [Yankees pitcher] Catfish Hunter in the playoffs."

Now the bat is in Cooperstown, on display, for everyone to see.

I had no idea of the story of the bat, after the incident.


And for those who don't know, Halper had the largest memoribilia collection anywhere, after the Hall Of Fame. We had a family friend who was friends with Halper. Supposedly, he had one of those mechanical moving racks in his basement that they have at the dry cleaners for all the jerseys and uniforms he had accumulated. After Halper passed away, I think it was noted that he had a jersey or uniform from nearly ever HOFer.
Halper amassed some 80,000 items, including uniforms of many Hall of Famers, an original ticket from the first World Series in 1903 and the jersey Lou Gehrig wore in his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939. Halper also owned oddities such as the false teeth worn by Ty Cobb, baseball's all-time leading hitter.

Also in Halper's collection were uniforms worn by Cobb, Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Mantle, during his rookie season of 1951. Halper also had the contract finalizing the sale of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the Yankees, and a Honus Wagner baseball card.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not-so-OLD Timers Day

In case you haven't yet heard, this is The Final Season for Yankee Stadium. Everything's being done to make sure you haven't forgotten this fact, as well as the storied history of the most beloved hated franchise in baseball history. Kinda depressing seeing some of these names, most of which don't seem, idunno, OLD enough to be playing yet. Crap, I hate realizing that I am older than my mind tells me.

The New York Yankees announced today that 15 first-time Old-Timers will attend the 62nd annual Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 2.

Among the newcomers are seven members of the 1996 World Championship club, including Yankees Special Assistant to the General Manager Tino Martinez, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Graeme Lloyd, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson and Tim Raines. Baseball's all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson will also make his first Old-Timers' Day appearance at Yankee Stadium, along with current pitching coach Dave Eiland, former manager Buck Showalter and former coach Jeff Torborg. The first-timers are rounded out by Don Baylor, Tony Fernandez, Wayne Tolleson and current YES Network broadcaster Al Leiter.
I sure hope they have Rickey Henderson mic'd up as there's few things as funny as Rickey talking Rickey.

I also thought Mendoza and Nelson were still playing. Personally, I am giddy that they actually found Wayne Tolleson, the last guy to wear #2 before Cap'n Jetes. Wayne Tolleson was reportedly surprised that anyone remembered him, too.

Of course, poor Buck will be there. He was set to guide the Dynasty but was removed after the 1995 season. Buck should get a huge ovation.

Any doubt Leiter will want to pitch the whole game, racking up 86 pitches thru 3 innings?

Personal Old Timers Day story:
Back in 1986, my Dad attended Mantle & Ford's Yankee Fantasy Camp. He befriended a number of the former players, from Hank Bauer to Moose Skowron and many others. We had a family friend who had great tix behind the plate, right where the net ends. He always gave us the Old Timers Day tickets. So at one game in the mid-90's, we're there early, watching the Old Timers and whatnot. Hank Bauer walks by and my Dad calls him over. We moved to the front row (again, this was early, before the games) to chat with Hank. Hank proceeded to tell jokes and take out his denture plate for laughs. My Dad told me to take a look at his ring. Hank holds out his hand and takes the ring off***, handing it to me. It's a World Series ring. But not just any, as Hank told me. It was one of the twelve made for the players who were part of each of the five straight Yankees World Series titles from 1949-1953. Let's just say that it was pretty damn cool. At which point, Hank's ass explodes with gas, loud as could be, and he just started laughing and said "woooboy, what was THAT?" I gave him the ring back with tears in my eyes, part laughter, part nausea.

***UPDATE: My brother reminded me that it was his offering Hank a turkey sandwich in return for trying on the ring that got Hank to take off the ring. He's right. I simply forgot about that. If you knew Hank and you know my brother, you realize how apropos that exchange actually was. Did I tell you my brother is in sales?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Extra side of corny, please

Carl "American Idle" Pavano is back on the New York Yankees ' radar. Pavano, who has appeared in 19 games in four Yankee seasons and cost them $40 million, is close to going on a minor-league rehab assignment. . . .

Phil Hughes , out with a fractured rib, is "
Very close to throwing batting practice" according to Cashman.
Isn't that all Hughes was throwing BEFORE he got hurt? Isn't Pavano equally as close to going back on the DL, too?

Who do you think we'll see first in the Bronx, you know, actually playing?

Posada's shoulder and the Yanks' fate

No, it doesn't sound too good, does it?

Jorge Posada, the proud Yankees catcher whose throwing has been obviously impaired by a labrum injury, said he is considering season-ending shoulder surgery. Posada will have a magnetic resonance imaging test on Tuesday to assess the extent of the damage to a shoulder problem that will not go away.
The Yanks have had a miserable year of injuries. Posada, Matsui, Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Damon, ARod. Jeter has been off most of the season. Melky has regressed and Cano is only just starting to heat up. Abreu has been up and down. Posada's fill-in, Jose Molina, has been great with the glove/arm but terrible with the bat.

I believed, as I think they did, that enough of their holes could be filled from within the organization. And if we've learned anything about the Yankees over the years, it's that we shouldn't consider them dead until we've got an actual corpse.

All that said, this latest news strikes me as a dramatic point in the narrative. It looks like the Yankees won't get anything this season from Kennedy or Hughes.
Chien-Ming Wang, their presumed ace entering the season, probably won't pitch
again until September. Can they really get into the playoffs with
Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner in the rotation? Can they really get into the playoffs with Jose Molina playing almost every day, and eating up outs like Ray Oyler?

Well, probably not … but you know, I still don't see that corpse. Believe it or not, the Yankees have some upside. They're third in the American League in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging, but somehow just seventh in runs scored (and not far from 10th). Last year, their starting second baseman and shortstop batted .306 and .322; this year they're batting .258 and .282.

Losing Posada is a blow, no question. If the Yankees do extend their postseason run to 14 years, they're going to have to catch some breaks over the next couple of months. But write them off now, considering the talent in their lineup? Show me the body, and we can talk.

I'm not ready to count this team out, but I also am not optimistic about them playing into October once again. I've said this many, many times: So long as the team keeps moving forward with the development of their farm system to buttress their ability to sign strategic free agents, I am happy. I'm not happy tossing young talent after established mediocraty.

Distractions anyone?

Self-inflicted distractions. Ugh.

Just guessing here, but in signing with The William Morris Agency to boost his foreign endorsement capabilities, he's helping finance his divorce, partially as a result of Madonna. Nice work, ARod.

The Zen of Miggy

"When you score runs and drive in runs, you win games"
---Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 7/21/08

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rewind: The Left Arm of God

A week or two ago, I dove into's Vault and came up with an unreal essay about Marge Schott. It's a slow news Monday (so far), so I wanted to lay this one at your feet: The Left Arm Of God. We know about Koufax's on-the-field exploits and we've heard about his elusiveness off the field, but Tom Verducci did such a great job with this story, it bears a rewind.

Since then only his address has changed—and many times, at that. DiMaggio, baseball's other legendary protector of privacy, was practically Rodmanesque compared with Koufax. DiMaggio was regal, having acquired even the stiff-handed wave of royalty. We watched the graying of DiMaggio as he played TV pitchman and public icon. Koufax is a living James Dean , the aura of his youth frozen in time; he has grayed without our even knowing it. He is a sphinx, except that he doesn't want anyone to try to solve his riddle.
Koufax is 63, in terrific shape and, thanks to shoulder surgery a few years back, probably still able to get hitters out. (In his 50s Koufax was pitching in a fantasy camp when a camper scoffed after one of his pitches, "Is that all you've got?" Koufax's lips tightened and his eyes narrowed—just about all the emotion he would ever show on the mound—and he unleashed a heater that flew damn near 90 mph.)
I am standing in a tunnel under the stands behind home plate at
Dodger Stadium on a clear summer night in 1998. Koufax is about 75 feet in front of me, seated on a folding chair on the infield while the Dodgers honor Sutton with the retirement of his number before a game against the Braves. When the program ends, Sutton and all his guests—former Dodgers Ron Cey and Steve Garvey among them—march past me toward an elevator that will take them to a stadium suite. All except Koufax. He is gone. Vanished. I find out later that as soon as the ceremony was over, he arose from his chair, walked briskly into the Dodgers dugout and kept right on going into the team parking lot and off into the night. That's Sandy," said one team official. "We call him the Ghost."

I am searching for an apparition. I never saw Koufax pitch, never felt the spell he held over
America. I had just turned six when Koufax walked into the Sansui room of the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Nov. 18, 1966, to announce his retirement from baseball. To have missed his brilliance heightens the fascination. For me he is black-and-white newsreel footage shot from high behind home plate, and an inexhaustible supply of statistics that border on the absurd. A favorite: Every time he took the mound, Koufax was twice as likely to throw a shutout as he was to hit a batter.

Koufax was 30 years old when he quit. Women at the press conference cried. Reporters applauded him, then lined up for his autograph. The world, including his teammates, was shocked. In the last 26 days of his career, including a loss in the 1966 World Series, Koufax started seven times, threw five complete-game wins and had a 1.07 ERA. He clinched the pennant for
Los Angeles for the second straight year with a complete game on two days rest.

Everyone knew he was pitching with traumatic arthritis in his left elbow, but how bad could it be when he pitched like that?

It was this bad: Koufax couldn't straighten his left arm—it was curved like a parenthesis. He had to have a tailor shorten the left sleeve on all his coats. Use of his left arm was severely limited when he wasn't pitching. On bad days he'd have to bend his neck to get his face closer to his left hand so that he could shave. And on the worst days he had to shave with his right hand. He still held his fork in his left hand, but sometimes he had to bend closer to the plate to get the food into his mouth.

His elbow was shot full of cortisone several times a season. His stomach was always queasy from the cocktail of anti-inflammatories he swallowed before and after games, which he once said made him "half-high on the mound." He soaked his elbow in an ice bath for 30 minutes after each game, his arm encased in an inner tube to protect against frostbite. And even then his arm would swell an inch. He couldn't go on like this, not when his doctors could not rule out the possibility that he was risking permanent damage to his arm.
Koufax was so good, he once taped a postgame radio show with
Vin Scully before the game.
Koufax was God's template for a pitcher: a prizefighter's back muscles for strength, long arms for leverage and long fingers for extra spin on his fastball and curveball. The baseball was as low as the top of his left ankle when he reached back to throw in that last calm moment of his delivery—like a freight train cresting a hill—just before he flung the weight and force of his body toward the plate.

His overhand curveball was vicious because his long fingers allowed him to spin the ball faster than anybody else. Most pitchers use their thumb to generate spin, pushing with it from the bottom of the ball and up the back side. Koufax could place his thumb on the top of the ball, as a guide—similar to the way a basketball player shooting a jumper uses his off-hand on the side of the ball—because his long fingers did all the work, pulling down on the baseball with a wicked snap. On the days he wasn't pitching Koufax liked to hold a ball with his fastball and curveball grips because he believed it would strengthen the muscles and tendons in his left hand by just the tiniest bit.
I could go on, but it's a great, long, impressive essay worth reading if you have the time.

But was it clean?

I've questioned Giambi's resurgence here before. Others have questioned him and other Mitchell Report players, too. But most of the questioning seemed to be coming outside of the MSM, the beat reporters. Was it because such a question would damage their ability to get close to the players, something they need to do to be successful in their jobs?

Maybe, maybe not.

But Wallace Matthews flat-out asks the question: Great, but was it clean?

It was a win to remember, to be sure. But was it a win to be proud of? Was it real? Was it clean?

Those are the questions you'd rather not have to wrestle with, but considering the players involved and their well-publicized history, they refuse to go away.

On the mound, you have Pettitte, admitted HGH user in the Mitchell Report, throwing eight strong innings in weather that would fry a cactus, and at the plate, you have Giambi, who couldn't hit his listed weight until Memorial Day weekend, blasting a fastball into the rightfield seats against a pitcher with the lowest ERA in major-league baseball, a pitcher who had allowed a measly six home runs all season long.
If both of them are to be believed -- and there is no evidence at the moment to doubt them -- then clearly, Pettitte is capable of throwing eight overpowering innings and Giambi is capable of looking like Mr. Olympia without the help of a chemist.

Or are they?

Pretty aggressive stuff, eh?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A's restocking, again

I get that Billy Beane is smarter than the average bear, GM, MIT aerospace engineering grad student, and me. He's got a knack for selling pitchers at their peak and getting excellent value in return. He has survived the free agent departures of Giambi and Tejada. And he hasn't missed Koch, Dotel and Foulke (he loves dumping those overvalued clsoers!). He gambled on Chavez though that hasn't worked so well. He didn't trade Zito but let him go, too. He picked up Piazza and Frank Thomas on the cheap, maxed out their value and dumped them. He then picked Thomas up again this year on someone else's dime.

Within the last two weeks, he dealt 40% of his starting rotation (Harden and Blanton) while still in contention. And he dealt all-star Dan Haren before the season.

I get it that he's getting some good prospects who might be good some day. I get that he's keeping costs down. I get that he's smart enough to keep the team in contention, barely, despite all the machinations.

What I don't get is why. Why, if he had those three pitchers under contract thru at least next season (I think Blanton is only signed thru 2008) did he choose to sell? Why, after making the smart moves that put his team in contention, did he decide that contention this year wasn't enough? At some point, don't you have to let the players jell and grow up together as a team? Constantly proving your brilliance is nice but don't you have to let these guys give it a run?

He traded Mulder, Hudson, Koch, etc., for prospects, some of which actually became quite good (Dan Haren, for example). But rather than let those prospects mature, he dealt them for more prospects. Which only means that as soon as the guys he got for Haren, Harden and Blanton begin to show promise, they will be dealt for other younger guys. It's just a trend, isn't it?

I'm a bit baseball'd out right now after the week that was, so maybe my baseball mind is a bit mushy today. I just don't get this round of maneuvers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One more ASG thought: Francona's class

I have neglected a key part of the game. Not intentional, just ran out of bandwidth to put some thoughts together. Thankfully, the loyal tadthebad asked me about it and well, it got me to thinking more about it.

Terry Francona has a boatload of class.

This is the manager of the (hated) RedSox, skippering the AL all-stars in Yankee Stadium, the belly of the beast. He had been boo'd mercilessly during the parade, during introductions, every chance the fans could. [I think he'd be disappointed if he wasn't boo'd. It's standard operating procedure. The Yanks players were boo'd when the all-star game was in Fenway. As they should be. It's part of the fun of being life-long enemies.]

Yet, Francona deftfully diffused the Papelbon situation (as did Papelbon, though the horses had long left the barn). His handling of his Yankee players was nothing short of brilliant and clearly showed that this guy not only grasps history but relishes the big moment as well as anyone.

Rather than make switches in between innings, he pulled ARod and Jeter both mid-inning, to give them a chance to hear the cheers again as they ran off the field. Each player was able to tip their caps in appreciation. That was a GREAT show of respect from a manager who clearly "gets it", despite his location and the name on the front of his jersey. Pure class move, Tito.

As the 9th inning was about to begin, we assumed we'd here "Enter Sandman" and Mo would stroll thru the bullpen doors. But in came KRod. The group around us was surprised but we were discussing that Mo would probably come in with 2 outs, just in case the AL won it in the bottom of the inning. Otherwise, if the AL scored, Mo would not have gotten in the game. KRod put a man on and had one out. Cue "Enter Sandman". Oh yeah, if there was a double play, inning over and a chance that Mo would not enter the game. Tito and his staff were clearly thinking this through. So well-executed. Of course, Mo got the double play and although the game didn't end in the bottom of the 9th or 10th, he was in line for the win in both instances. Had the AL scored in that bases loaded/none out, Mo would have gotten the W and quite possibly the AL MVP. The stars were aligned thanks to Francona's grasp on history and the present.

Yanks fans and Sox fans will never see eye-to-eye. But I have had an enormous amount of respect for their organization, even if I root for them to lose daily. I know I will have a greater respect for Francona for his class moves during the ASG, too.

Well done, Tito. BOOOOOO!!!!!!

WARNING: Rumors abound

I think it's B.S., but who knows: Source: Bonds-Yankees Deal Imminent

The incentive-laden deal, being hammered out between Bonds' agent Jeff Borris and general manager Brian Cashman, will well exceed the major league $200,000 minimum but has a number of protective clauses to isolate the Yankees' exposure to the possibility of Bonds missing time due to legal distractions or recurring injury, the source said.
Adding Bonds to the Yanks would be like the USA having a massive bonfire made up of unused grains, gas, cash and coal and broadcasting it to the 3rd World Nations with a picture of Ted Kennedy and The Steinbrenner Trio mooning everyone.

"See, we're big, we're bad, and we don't give a crap what you think since you hate us anyways."

My head hurts.

Now, I spoke (via email) with the esteemed Tim Dierkes of and he hadn't heard of this source and questioned the dollar amount as that's not a league minimum (I asked if that could be a pro-rated portion). We're waiting to see if the MSM picks up on this.

I can hear Murray Chass grinding his teeth right now about those irresponsible bloggers!

UPDATE (3:30pm): With the Yanks signing Richie Sexson, this makes the Bonds rumors a load of hooey.

Voice of God goes eternal

I can picture it right now. I’m sitting in the stands at Yankee Stadium thirty years from now and I hear this. “Now Batting…Number 22…Derek Jeter Jr….Number 22.”

I've discussed Bob Sheppard many, many times here as he's struggled to return to the mic at the Stadium. His replacement, Jim Hall, has a wonderful voice, strikingly similar to Mr. Sheppard's, but like any sequel, it's never as good as the original. Mr. Hall had a rough night on Tuesday, but I think this is an amazing idea.

But due to the state of text-to-speech technology, Sheppard’s voice could be the voice of the starting lineups for the next 50 years, if the Yankees choose to go that route.

Patrick Dexter, director of business development for Cepstral a leader in text-to-speech technology, told CNBC that it would be possible for the company to create a program that would enable the Yankees to have every player – the Yankees and their opponents – be announced by Sheppard’s voice forever.

Doing names and numbers is easier than creating what they call a full domain voice, which is voicing full sentences,” Dexter said. “But if we had some time and money – and the Yankees certainly might have that bankroll -- we could do this.”

I think this would be great.

Final All Star Game thoughts

I wrote about the All-Star game mess a week and a half ago. One of the things I'd change if I were given a chance would be to modify the roster rules for the All Star Game.

  • 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.


  • 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.

It's pretty simple. Boost the roster sizes to 35 and add three more pitchers. I'd rather do that than eliminate mandatory representation but if baseball is married to a 32 person roster, that rule has to be eliminated.

The only other thing to do to eliminate the All Star mess would be to just keep it an exhibition and give the WSHFA to the team who, you know, actually earned it.

Sights of the Game, part 2

For the entire library, click here

First, the pre-game event that I was able to attend. In order: Jim Bouton (former player and author of "Ball Four"), Gaylord Perry, Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams, Fergie Jenkins.

And then there was the scene outside of the Stadium (Pig-man, black cat from outer space dude and the Mariah wanna-be's):

And for those of you who haven't been to Yankee Stadium, here's a bit of the rest of the surrounding area:

For the entire library, click here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sights of the Game, part 1

Here are just a few samples of some of the many pix I took at the All Star Game Tuesday night. For the entire library, you can click here.

Oh, what a night!

It was more than the night, it was an incredible day. I'm working on the pictures to post later today so you'll have to hang on a little bit for the proof.

My agenda:
  • 6am-ish: wake-up, still groggy from the Bon Jovi concert the night before
  • 12:30pm: leave the office, head to the Bronx
  • 1:20pm: pay my $30 to park at the Stadium
  • 1:30pm: tip the parking guy $10 to get a prime parking spot for a quick getaway
  • 1:45pm: Get on 4 train back to NYC. Train was clean, air-conditioned and nothing like you have read/heard about. My brother was at the parade, getting a few pics.
  • 2:30pm: Meet my brother at his company's hospitality gathering. Tasty beef-on-a-stick. Got to meet Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins, George Foster, Mitch Williams and Jim Bouton. All autographed an all-star game ball, which looks great.
  • 4:30pm: Get on 4 train to head back to the Bronx. Same experience, everyone was friendly, happy to be on the "Iron Horse". A/C was working, which was nice, too.
  • 5:00-6:30pm: Walking around the outside of the Stadium, oogling the new Stadium. The freaks were out, too. As well as many Baby Ruth reps, handing out many Baby Ruth samples. And they were refridgerated, which was a nice touch.
  • 6:30-8:00pm: Got shut out (by about 3 minutes) for a Monument Park tour. Bummer. Took our seats, enjoyed dinner as the shadows settled in over us. Watched BP. Hung out.
  • 8:00pm: Pre-game ceremonies. You saw it better than we did, but it was still chilling. The ARod and Jeter chants were great. The Mariano chants were even more impressive. You could tell that the fans wanted to stick it to Papelbon. [Side note: Shysterball noted that he expected the fans to be more savvy than what the media wants to shove in our face. I think everyone knows that but sometimes, it's just too much fun to pick a villian and beat it to a pulp. Papelbon was the perfect villian for the night, the yang to Mo's yin.]
  • 8:50pm-ish: AL takes the field. Bleachers call roll-call for Jeter and ARod, as is tradition. For those not aware, the Bleachers call roll-call for every position player during the bottom of the first. They will keep chanting until the player turns and waves. A fun little tradition. After roll-call, they called roll for Bobby Murcer. Awesome. Simply awesome. Of course, as soon as that stopped, the "Boston Sucks" chants began. And loud.
  • Every time a Boston player came up, the "Boston Sucks" rained down. Every time Corey Hart came up, they played the intro to "Sunglasses at Night". Lame.
  • Jim Hall, Bob Sheppard's replacement, had a very rough night. Too many mistakes. So many, in fact, that there was a Bob Sheppard chant after another "Correction..."
  • The singing of "God Bless America" should have been done by Ronan Tynan, not whomever was being promoted by some record label. It sounded like an over-done auction tape. Blech.
  • The dragged out the Village People to help the grounds crew do their usual YMCA while grooming the field. Except there was a new Village Person, a soldier? Since when?
  • Papelbon enters. The place erupts. Yes, everyone knew that the hubbub about him thinking he should close over Mo was totally overblown, but no one cared one iota. It's too much fun to boo sometimes. When he let in a run, the "Boston Sucks" chants were deafening.
  • Mo enters. Pandemonium. From our vantage point, it looks like Tito handed him the ball and said "go get 'em" and that's about it. The strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out to end the inning was incredible. The inning ending double play the next inning was also great. We just KNEW the AL would score in the bottom of the 10th to get Mo the win and possible the MVP (sentimental win).
  • Poor Uggla, a horrible inning/game. Hurdle intentionally loaded the bases. Took a minute to see that he was playing for the force at home. A master stroke. We still KNEW the AL would win. We knew it. Everyone knew it. Mo would get the win. Ground ball force out at home. Ditto. Ground ball 6-3 out. Stunned silence. You felt the air, adrenaline, energy leave the stadium.
  • 12:45am-ish: Leave the ballpark. Yes, it lasted another 45 minutes but damn, it's late, I'm keeling over. That $10 spent for primo parking; useless.
Let me just thank my brother for not only flying cross-country to spend a fun-filled 2 days with me, but for landing the tickets. Truly wonderful. He lives 3,000 miles from me and we don't get to see each other or spend enough time with one another as we'd like. But it's times like the last two nights when I'm thankful that we do get to hang out every so often. Just wish it was more often.

Pictures to come, later. I'm buried at work, folks.

UPDATE: First batch of pictures, unedited, can be viewed here. I will post some directly on the site later/tonite, once I can edit and touch them up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hamilton revisited

I've written a bunch about Hamilton (and his former agent Matt Sosnick) recently. In light of Hamilton's otherworldly performance, here are some of those links.

Also, I was at a concert last night and didn't see a swing of the whole thing, so I can't add much to what's already been written. If you want a good POV on the whole thing, check out Shysterball.

Hamilton-related links:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Virtual tour of Yankee Stadium

Quite a nice little virtual tour of Yankee Stadium, minus the smells, of course.

I'll do my best to give my on-hand report and pictures on Wednesday (I'll probably get home too late to post anything after the game Tuesday).

Sad state of ticket costs

Amen, Phil Munchnick, amen. I've griped about this for a while but it's great to see such great coverage by a major outlet.

It's new ballpark gentrification: Throw out or move the moderately wealthy and replace them with the indiscriminate stinking rich and corporate buys. So long, folks, and thanks for all you've done for us all these years, you suckers. Arrive home safely and don't come back.

The staggering price of tickets the Yanks and Mets will charge next year is the kind of story that's not easily ignored, unless you try very hard - or simply don't care because it's not your misfortune.
This is the real cost of the new ballparks in Queens and the Bronx. The regular Joes and Janes won't be able to take a family of four there for under a few hundred dollars, unless they get lucky enough to get them from work or a very wealthy friend. And if you want good seats, fuhgeddaboutit. You gotta know a guy who knows a guy, ya know.

I'll tell ya, I'm not looking to buy tickets for next year. If I get them from a Wall Street friend, great. Otherwise, we'll just watch them on the big flat screen I invested in rather than hand over that cash to Lonn Trost & Co.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Images of FanFest 2008

Here are some pictures from our day at FanFest 2008. My apologies about some of the graininess; the lighting wasn't great so the flash had no impact on any picture taken from any real distance.

Me and the Queen of ESPN/the Blogosphere (PS: she couldn't have been any nicer)

My boys and Erin (they'll thank me later. Also, that's a 2003 National League All Star jersey, #5 Pujols)

A few jerseys from the Hall Of Fame exhibit:

World Series trophy 2008

From the Thurman Munson auction:

My boys at one of the clinics (the guy in the light blue polo is Fred Lynn)

Artist Charles Fazzino's ceremonial bases that will be on the field during the HR Derby Monday night:

And some other shots from the day (2nd picture is Whitey Ford):

: We met reporter Willie Bans from while we were having our own baseball cards made up (my name on the card: Pudge McBadknees, catcher #15) and he was kind enough to include us in his article:
Meanwhile, Jake, 8, and Zach, 5, posed in Yankees jerseys for photos to be placed on their own baseball cards.

"Mine's going on my desk," Jake said.

Their father, Jason, also had a baseball card made for himself, and was also impressed by the amount of memorabilia at FanFest.

"I don't think they're quite as into the historical stuff," Jason said. "But there's something for everybody, really."