Friday, January 30, 2009

How to get yourself invited to a SuperBowl party every year

Create one of these badboys and you will always have an invite to some great SuperBowl party. If you need further inspiration to check out this masterpiece, the recipie starts like this:

To kick off the construction of this pork medley you’ll need to create a 5×5 bacon weave.
Seriously? A bacon weave? This could only end VERY WELL (if you exclude the trip to your cardiologist).
You’ll reach pork Nirvana is no time flat!
Of course, you don't have to make this only for the Super Bowl, but too many and you get fast-tracked for a dirt nap.

'Tek signs

The RSN turns its lonely eyes to you, Cap'n 'Tek, thereby creating a hole in their lineup for at least 2009. At least his intangibles mirror those of Jeter. Two aging warhorses, full of fury, signifying only declining productivity.


Update on Yanks pitching prospects

Chad Jennings has a good update on the upper level Yankees pitching prospects, including one on my boy Eric Hacker. Guys profiled include: Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, Ian Kennedy, Phil Coke, Alfredo Aceves and even Kei Igawa. Because I got to interview him here, Hacker's review is below:

Eric Hacker
Right hander
25 years old
Where he's been: Hacker is older than you might expect because he too has been hampered by injuries which cost him all of 2004 and 2006. When he's pitched, though, Hacker has a 2.70 ERA in the minors and he was outstanding last season in Tampa and Trenton.
Where he's going: I've been thinking he'll open back in Trenton, but Hacker is on the 40-man and he'll turn 26 before opening day, so a push to Triple-A has merit, especially if he gets in some games in big league camp and opens some eyes on the major league coaching staff.
Ticket to New York: Consistency. Health is too obvious and goes without saying. Hacker doesn't have massive strikeout numbers, but he also doesn't walk many guys and he gets a lot of outs on the ground. If he's steady in Triple-A, he should earn a shot. That consistency, obviously, requires that he not go back on the disabled list.
I'll be down in FLA right after P&C report. Eric, if you're reading this, I'll give you a call/email when I am down there. How's about a tour of the ballpark/facilities?

What's in a name, anyways

Not quite the Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco hubbub from this past NFL season, but it seems that Russell Martin of the Dodgers is changing the name on the back of his jersey.

As the lettering on the back of his jersey will attest this spring, it's "J. Martin" this year, and that's not the only change Russell Martin would like to announce.

The "J" is Martin's way of paying tribute to his mother, as it represents her maiden name -- Jeanson. Martin's legal name is Russell Nathan Jeanson Coltrane Martin.
Now, THAT is some name. Any name that can stuff "Coltrane" in as the third middle name is a prodigious name by any definition. I wonder what his monogrammed towels look like.

Down in the same article, Martin give credit to Manny for reminding him and others to have fun while playing this game. Good advice, methinks:
"I think we all learned from him, realizing that you don't always have to be stone-faced to be successful," said Martin.

"This guy is smiling and having a good time, laughing it up, and he's hitting homer after homer and driving guys in and really supporting the team and carrying the team to the postseason. It made me realize that you're supposed to have fun in this game. If you have fun, then you enjoy it, and it's going to be a better experience."

Quota reached: No Sheets, no Manny, no mas

Evidently the Yanks have hit their limit. No, not with regards to their payroll ceiling. Not with the amount of tax breaks they can get. Not with the number of luxury boxes sold.

Free agents, baby.

Try to follow, it's rather confusing and esoteric, but interesting nonetheless:

Under the rules, "if there are from 39 to 62 [Type A and B] players [during a given offseason], no team can sign more than three."
According to an unofficial list compiled by the Sports City Sports News Service, this year there were 63 Type A and Type B free agents -- 29 Type As and 34 of the Type B variety. A Type A player is one who's ranked among the top 20 percent of his group -- pitcher or position player. A Type B player is among the top 40 percent. The Elias Sports Bureau does the annual independent rankings.

"If there are more than 62 such players, the club quota shall be increased accordingly," the Basic Agreement also says.

If there were more than 62 this year, we should have agreed on an increased quota," [Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of labor relations] said. "We did not. I think if [the Yankees] were contemplating signing another Type A player, they would've read the agreement and asked us what we wanted to do. They would've said they wanted to sign a fourth player and we would've had to do something with the union."
Teams own Type A's do not count against this quota, however.

As far as the remaining Type A free agents and what their availability means:
"It's always been our position that if [a player] goes past the Draft, the compensation goes away," Manfred said, adding that it has never happened.

Remaining Type A free agents: Bobby Abreu, Orlando Cabrera, Juan Cruz, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Mike Mussina (retired), Oliver Perez, Ben Sheets and Jason Varitek.
If Cabrera and Cruz and Varitek (if he declines the Sox offer today) wait until June, they can join any team without that team having to offer a first round pick as compensation. We can all agree that it's preposterous that a middle reliever like Juan Cruz should never be saddled with a Type A designation. I can't see any team giving up their first round pick for a middle reliever, no matter how good he is.

UPDATE (11:50am, 1/30/09): This is making me dizzy. Now it seems the Yanks haven't come close to the quota.
10:44am: Brian Cashman told Peter Abraham the Yankees could sign up to eight Type A free agents if they wanted to.

10:05am: One reader asks a question I can't answer: if the quota is three Type A/Bs, how were the Giants able to sign Jeremy Affeldt (B), Bob Howry (A), Randy Johnson (B), Edgar Renteria (A), and Juan Uribe (B)? Does it only apply to Type A/Bs who were offered arbitration? Is the quota three of each type?

7:45am: Just wanted to add the info from a January 6th Nick Cafardo article, where he stated that this year's quota is nine Type A or B free agents. Everyone I'd spoken previously to believed the Yankees have not approached any quota. I know the CBA allows for more Type A/Bs to be signed if you lose them, and the Yankees lost Bobby Abreu and Mike Mussina. We attempted to tackle this in October and came away confused.

Still, Bloom talked to MLB's executive VP of labor relations Rob Manfred for his article and it seems highly unlikely that Manfred would be wrong. - Tim Dierkes

Boomer bashing

While driving home last night, I flipped to ESPN Extra (1050 ESPN local feed via XM #141) during a commercial break from MLB on XM. I hadn't flipped to that channel in weeks, if not longer. I just happened to since I recently modified my presets. When I did, I heard Michael Kay breathlessly tell me to stay tuned, that if I hadn't yet heard Boomer Wells' interview from earlier, it'd be worth staying for. I was hooked. I love me some Boomer Wells interviews. And when they rolled that interview, it was awesome. Boomer unchecked, rambling, honest. (You can check here, at the 1050ESPN site for the audio/podcast). If you can't check out the audio, just check in to The Daily News for their take on the interview.

You'll hear a lot about the "I'd probably just knock him out" comment, but you have to realize that he was laughing and a sense of context is really needed. His tone was one of mocking Torre and his decision to do this book (or the Dead Torre Scrolls as I call them). From the article:

Torre has been criticized for publicly calling out players in his book, something he said he'd never do when he was still managing in pinstripes. But Wells called that notion "BS" to begin with.

Joe called guys out from time to time," Wells said. "He always said you'll never hear anything from him in the media or the papers, and that was BS ... Joe didn't respect a lot of people in my eyes."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clemens, liniment, where?

Yet more from the Dead Torre Scrolls:

The story comes courtesy of Yankee trainer Steve Donahue who told Verducci about what Roger Clemens did as part of his usual routine to get ready for facing the Mets in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. Donahue said Clemens’ usual pregame preparation included taking a whirlpool bath at the hottest temperature possible.
He’d come out looking like a lobster,” Donahue said.
But here's the money quote:
Then Donahue would rub the hottest possible liniment on his testicles.

He’d start snorting like a bull,” the trainer said. “That’s when he was ready to pitch.
And just when I thought I've heard it I wish I had.

For a laugh, the old Revenge of the Nerds "Liquid Hot" scene

It keeps pulling me back in

Just grabbing a great quote from former Yanks (and Rangers, D'Backs) manager Buck Showalter, regarding Torre's book (emphasis mine):

"I'd have to make up my mind that for sure I wasn't going back on the field before I ever wrote one," Showalter said. "I have feelings about it. Obviously I haven't done it. There's a certain privilege to having those jobs that you have to live up to."
Well said. That role is a privilege, an honor. What Torre did is a dishonor to his trusted role and responsibilities.

In case I need to say it again for clarity: I don't care as much about WHAT he said. It could all be true. What bothers me is that he did this as an active manager. And that he did it TO the team that put 4 World Series rings on his hand, turning him from "Clueless Joe" into "Saint Torre".

UPDATE (1/30/09, 11am): In Buster's latest today, he has some good quotes from current front office staff about the Dead Torre Scrolls.
"The big question I'd have for him is: Why?" said a National League general manager. "Why would he put his name to something like that? If [Tom] Verducci writes it in his own book, that's something different. But you have all these people getting [slammed] … and why? For money? Is it to prove a point? Does he have an axe to grind? It doesn't make sense. I'm interested to see what he says."

Said another GM: "
We all have stories like that, about different guys. But why would he want that stuff out there, with his name attached to it? I know this: If I were playing with the Dodgers, I'd be running in the other direction, because you don't know what he's going to write when he puts out, The Dodgers Years."

Whether it was his intention or not, Torre has hurt a lot of former colleagues, some of whom feel he has either been inaccurate or ungracious in his portrayals, depending on the anecdote.

Selling a stake in the Sox

The RedSox' second largest ownership slice is selling. Get your bids ready, fellas.

The New York Times Co said on Wednesday it hired banking firm Goldman Sachs to help it sell its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team.

The 17.75 percent stake is in New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns the Red Sox, their home field of Fenway park and adjacent real estate.

It also owns half of the Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR team and an 80 percent stake in the NESN regional sports cable TV network.

The Times acquired its stake in NESV in February 2002. Sports bankers previously said the company could raise as much as $200 million from a sale of its stake.
It always struck me as odd that the NY Times was a part owner of the RedSox, but that's the way conglomerates go. There are some strange bedpartners out there.

The 17.75% stake (if sold for $200m) would effectively value the NESV at $1.127 billion. That's not the value of the RedSox, but its holding company. I have no idea how the Roush team is valued. When the Yanks were valued at $1.3 billion, I do not think that includes their ownership stake in the YES Network. Network valuations tend to trade at higher multiples. Back in April 2008, when the last Forbes team valuation rankings were published, the Sox were third (behind the Mets and Yanks) at $816m.

Maury at The Biz of Baseball has a bit on this, too. A site worth bookmarking if you're into the business side of all things baseball.

You will say nothing

Looks like the Yanks are finally fed up with the tell-all books. I guess after "Ball Four", "The Bronx Zoo", David Wells' book, the Dead Torre Scrolls was the last straw.

The Yankees are considering including a "non-disparagement clause" in future player and managerial contracts in order to prevent any more tell-all books such as "The Yankee Years," co-written by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci.

Up to now, we have always operated our employer-employee relationships on a basis of trust," the official said. "But we never expected what we got from Joe. We may have to get a little tougher on this issue."

Days until P&C report: 15

Because I am a Munson fan, I'm happy to send you over to FackYouk to check out a nice collection of thoughts, facts and moments about Thurman Munson. Reading this still gives me the chills:

On the approach to the runway, Munson dropped the flaps, but waited too long before giving the plane more power, which resulted in the Cessna Citation I/SP coming up well short of the intended target. Munson had failed to fasten his shoulder strap, was paralyzed during the initial impact and trapped inside the cockpit when the plane finally came to a rest after rolling and sliding for over 500 feet. His flight instructor, David Hall and his friend Kenny Anderson attempted to free Munson, but the plane caught on fire and they were forced to retreat. His last
words were
"Get me out of here! Please get me out!" A sad and powerless cry for help, that in no way reflected the way he lived. He was 32 years old.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More from from the Torre Scrolls

Some new stuff from Tyler Kepner. Seems that Pavano was the joke IN the lockerroom as we have made of him from afar.

The Yankees should have talked to Tim Raines before signing Carl Pavano. Raines, the former Yankee who was coaching with the White Sox when Pavano signed, had played with Pavano in Montreal. During Pavano’s first Yankees season, Raines told Borzello: “He didn’t want to pitch except for the one year he was pitching for a contract. I’m telling you, he’s not going to pitch for you.”
[Comedians Billy] Crystal and Robin Williams then went into a 12-minute comedy bit, poking fun at various players before turning serious. They told the players to be grateful for the opportunity and for their health. “
And there is somebody we should all pray for, because he has not been blessed with the same great health. So before you go out there, when you hit your knees, say a prayer … for Carl Pavano!

The room, the authors write, erupted in laughter.
I'll read the book and probably love it, but the fact remains that should have been shelved until Torre was done.

Lowered Expectations

Buster notes that some of the remaining free agents will have to lower their expectations if they want a contract this year, including former Yankee Bobby Abreu.

As recently as a week ago, the asking price on Bobby Abreu was said to be locked in place, a three-year deal for something in the neighborhood of $16 million a year. But those numbers were based on appraisals made before the motor companies got a bailout, before the Dow Jones Industrial Average shrunk to four digits.

In the past few days, Abreu -- like so many other veteran players -- has come to grips with the reality that the lush multiyear deal simply is not going to be there for him, and the All-Star who hit 20 homers and accumulated an on-base percentage of .371
this past season is said to be willing to take a one-year deal.
Sorta makes Cashman's decision not to offer him arbitration look good, doesn't it? Of course, at that time, Abreu might have declined it anyways. At the time, I thought the decision not to at least offer arbitration (and get the draft pick if he declined) was a mistake as I totally underestimated the way the market for a guy like Abreu would crater. I'm not alone.

Arbitration would have landed him that $16m he wanted. Signing him now might also get him that $16m, but it would take two years to earn it rather than one.

Bonus points for any MAD TV fans out there who appreciate the 2nd picture to the right

Slow going today

Sorry guys, the commute took 2 hours (snow, traffic). So I'm already backed up with stuff at the office and besides, I have said all I feel like saying about Torre and that mess.

I've got my "angry pants" on today so if things improve, I'll try to get something up here. Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Calling out Torre

I'll restate what I said on Sunday about the Torre/Verducci book:

However true it might all be, couldn't/shouldn't this have been saved until Torre was out of the game? It reeks of bitterness. Torre has fashioned a sterling reputation in and out of baseball as a wonderful manager of people. I wonder if that will change, at least IN the game, if his lockerroom recognizes that he's probably taking notes for his next edition?
I'm not questioning whether the players really derisively called ARod "A-Fraud" or if it was all in jest. I really don't care. The "Single White Female" quip is brilliant.

What troubles me most is how Torre has always (at least since he took the Yanks helm; I can't speak to his pre-Yanks days very well, admittedly) tried to remain above the fray, the dogs, the sensationalism that followed the team. He was the shield between management and the players, between the press and the players. By putting this book out, now, while an active manager, flies in the face of everything he seemingly stood for. I think it was a major mistake to do this now.

During a quick few minutes to throw down lunch, I read Buster's take about this situation and what was wonderful to read was Torre's own comments brandishing David Wells after Wells' book blew up and pulled back the curtains on the lockerroom. From Buster:
It's Joe Torre's book. His name is on it. He got paid for it. He had a chance to read every word, every sentence, every paragraph. He had to approve every passage.
But he has gone beyond his own code of conduct with his book. In spring 2003, David Wells and a ghostwriter published a book, "
Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball," and Torre was furious, angry that Wells had aired some of the Yankees' dirty laundry in the pages. Wells tried to distance himself from some of the words in the book, saying they belonged to the writer, but the Yankees' manager would not accept that. After a meeting with the pitcher, Torre said this to reporters:
"We talked to him about a lot of things today. I just sensed he was bothered by it. Not by what we said, but by how it came out. How much of it is actually what he said and how much isn't exactly what he said, I don't know.

"But there's no question: It has his name on it, and he has to be accountable for it."
That's perfect. Torre must be accountable for every word. And any backlash.
Now it is Torre's responsibility to be fully accountable for the words in the book that has his name on it, and he must stand behind those words.

If he hides behind Verducci and the suggestion that the ugly anecdotes aren't his, the explanation will have echoes of "
I didn't knowingly take steroids." If he embraces the words as his own, he also should acknowledge he has been, at the very least, extraordinarily hypocritical.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who knew: BRUT, For Men

Someone must be an editor as a day job or just wayyyy too much time on their hands:

These are things that let me know the photo was taken in The Bronx. But the most common background item--the one that makes you recognize Yankee Stadium instantly, is the Brut sign. Above the bleachers, all around the outfield, between the electronic message boards, are ads. Each section of frieze has a corresponding panel below it. The Brut sign took up two panels in left field. It was a picture of a cologne bottle, and in big, black, bold, capital letters, the word Brut.

There was something about that sign--the way it snuck in to the posed pictures so often. It couldn't be missed. The other signs were sometimes visible, but a big, short word was most likely to be recognized. Unless you've got a very distinct logo, nobody's gonna recognize your ad way in the blurry background; BRUT had the power to bust through.
Click thru for the pictures. Worth the visit.

Nothing ever ends well

Every now and then, I'll just point you to a really well-written article or commentary or whatnot. This is one of those. If you have an opinion about Torre and his coming book, it's worth a read. The entire thing is worth reading (it's brief) so I am not quoting the entire posting.

My favorite line, since I use it often:

Root for the laundry, that’s the best you can do. Just root for the laundry.

Pettitte to re-sign, finally?

According to Buster, it's imminent:

The New York Yankees and Andy Pettitte are close on a deal that will bring the veteran left-hander back for a year, Major League Baseball sources told Buster Olney on Monday.

The deal, sources told Olney, could be done as soon as Monday afternoon. It would pay Pettitte nearly $6 million, with incentives that could make it worth as much as $12 million.
I have NO idea what Sheets' MRI's look like and even if I had a peek at them, I couldn't read them. I have to trust that the Yanks' brass doesn't like what they showed. I know it'd be blasphemy to even utter this, but if Pettitte and Sheets were equal in terms of health risk, I'd rather have Sheets on a one year deal (with a team option for the 2nd).

Nonetheless, I am happy that Andy's coming back. It's only a shame that we had to run through so many walls, shed the tears and whatnot. Woulda, coulda, shoulda been done earlier.

Your 2009 Yanks rotation: Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Pettitte, Joba/Hughes.

UPDATE: It's final. He's back.

Book excerpt: Torre's distrust of Randy Levine

Well, it appears that my disdain and distrust of Yanks President Randy Levine was shared by Joe Torre (in third person):

On How the Yankees Do Business
If Torre’s relationship with some of the higher-ups in the Yankee organization was sometimes strained, the book suggests that it was most difficult with Randy Levine, the Yankees president. The book paints a stark picture of a genuine, trusting Torre clashing with the savvy, calculating Levine, who was at one time a trusted adviser of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Torre was particularly disturbed, it seems, by Levine’s willingness to find a way to avoid honoring the contracts of players struggling with issues off the field. As the book puts it, “
The Yankees’ reaction to a player in crisis often included exploring the possibility of getting out from under the responsibility of having to pay the player.”
Good ol' Randy. Endearing himself to the lower ranks for decades.

Staggering picture of the day

In case you missed it, as most have, Jose Canseco "fought" Danny Bonaduce over the weekend. Canseco's about 6'4" and from the looks of this picture, Bonaduce must be a foot or two shorter. The fight was a draw. No, really. (No drug testing for either "boxer")

And what the hell did Canseco do to his body? Spend every last cent on a full body tattoo? That explains why he's doing celebrity boxing, I guess.

Good lord man. He looks like Ralph Feinnes' character in Red Dragon:

Sheets an option?

If the "cost" to the Yanks is merely a 4th round pick plus salary/bonus to land Ben Sheets, I continue to say that's a worthwhile risk.

While the Rangers have met twice with Sheets, the Yankees are one of a few teams considering the talented righthander. Sheets has provided a second medical report for teams to review but it isn't known how it differs from the first. His market has been slow despite a career full of accomplishments.
If Sheets would take a "prove it" contract (say $5m guaranteed this year plus incentives with a $12m team option for 2010), that'd be a great thing for the Yanks. It's not dissimilar to the Smoltz/Penny contracts the Sox just signed. Or, as I have referred to them, "Lieber contracts". The Yanks are already eyeballs deep in risk; Sheets' risk would add little more at little financial burden.

If you told me that Sheets and Joba would combine for 300 good innings behind CC, Burnett and Wang, with Hughes and others filling in the rest, I'd be pretty excited.

I remain disappointed in Pettitte. I'm not riding him out of town on a rail, but I am disappointed in his stance. The only thing teams "owe" its players is the number on the contract. The other stuff (respect, etc.) must be earned from both sides. Pettitte was hugged by the organization last year, right after the Mitchell Report was released. And despite his claims, he did have a mediocre year and a lousy 2nd half. For him to say last year that he was only interested in signing with the Yanks and it wouldn't be about the money and to now have him holding out due to money is just disappointing.

Joba's 2009 workload, predicted

After a weekend of book sneak-peeks that made me equally disappointed and disgusted, I'm chomping at the bit for some real baseball "stuff". Anything really that discusses the on-field product for this coming season.

So when I noticed this article about Joba's predicted 2009 innings, I couldn't help but consider it a beacon that Spring Training is indeed less than three weeks away. I can't wait. This comes from leader Tim Dierkes' article on RotoAuthority:

I asked eleven of my favorite baseball writers to predict Chamberlain's 2009 regular season Major League innings total. Here are the results:
If Joba pitches 143 innings as a starter (which isn't mentioned above), that roughly translates to 24 six-inning starts, or 29 starts of 5 innings. From LAST year's Verducci Year-After-Effect article, Joba's limit was 149 innings. I think I'd be pleased with 150 quality innings from Joba and fill in the balance with kids from the farm (Aceves, etc.). If Joba makes it to the 100, 125 inning marks unscathed and feeling strong, I'd let him expand his target. He's got the body to do so.

I continue to maintain that Joba's got the most value for the Yanks as a starter, at least until Mo retires. Then, if Joba's still struggling to maintain a 200 inning workload at that point, he could be transitioned into Mo's replacement (unless there's some kid --Melancon?-- who identifies himself as the heir apparent).

Dishing dirt "below" Torre

It's a shame that former Yanks skipper and current Dodgers manager Joe Torre is coming out with a book that seeks to dish dirt; it's just so "below" what I'd expect from the always-classy Torre. Nonetheless, it's disappointing to read some of these quotes attributed to his book, from the Daily News article:

In "The Yankee Years," due to be released on Feb. 3, Torre describes general manager Brian Cashman as a less than supportive ally who betrayed him on several fronts, and says that his star player, Alex Rodriguez, was often referred to by his teammates as "A-Fraud" and was obsessed with his perceived rival, shortstop Derek Jeter.
However true it might all be, couldn't/shouldn't this have been saved until Torre was out of the game? It reeks of bitterness. Torre has fashioned a sterling reputation in and out of baseball as a wonderful manager of people. I wonder if that will change, at least IN the game, if his lockerroom recognizes that he's probably taking notes for his next edition?

UPDATE (8pm, 1/25/09): So it seems that the first-person attribution of these quotes to Torre were a bit off-base, according to Verducci, the co-author. The bold/navy is my emphasis. Two New York newspapers are reporting that Joe Torre rips Alex Rodriguez and George Steinbrenner in the book, and that Brian Cashman was not as supportive of Torre returning as Yankees manager after the 2007 season as was previously believed. What can you tell us about these reports?

Verducci: I think it's important to understand context here. The book is not a first-person book by Joe Torre, it's a third-person narrative based on 12 years of knowing the Yankees and it's about the changes in the game in that period. Seems to me the New York Post assigned this third-person book entirely to Joe Torre and that's not the case. In fact, if people saw that Post story they probably noticed there are no quotes from Joe Torre in it. Joe Torre does not rip anybody in the book. The book really needs to be read in context.

Anybody who knows Joe, especially during his time in New York, knows he's a very honest man and he is very honest in the pages of this book. People also know Joe Torre doesn't go around ripping people and he doesn't do that in the pages of this book. There is a lot of information in this book over a tremendous period of baseball history. It's been reported out by me as well as informed by Torre's own insights into that period.

(1/26/09, 8:08am)
: From what appears to be an actual book review (as opposed to a Daily News/Post-like breathless misappropriation of the quotes) from the NY Times:
The Yankee Years” does a nimble, if at times cursory, job of reanimating the long highlight reel of the Torre era: from the team’s ecstatic triumph in the 1996 World Series to Cone’s nerve-racking perfect game in 1999; from the Yankees’ two mind-blowing comebacks against Arizona with two outs in the ninth in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series to Aaron Boone’s amazing 11th-inning, seventh-game, pennant-winning homer against Boston in the 2003 American League Championship Series.

The book does not hide Torre’s bitterness over his departure in 2007 (he was offered a one-year contract that involved a pay cut in his base salary) and
[the book] takes a few swipes at the general manager, Brian Cashman, and some players — most notably, Alex Rodriguez. But the volume is most interesting in its thoughtful analysis of why the Yankees’ fortunes began to spiral downward after 2001, analysis that has been made before by baseball reporters and fans, but never with such insight and detail by a former Yankees insider.
Most painful, however true, is this comment:
While the Yankees were going through an identity crisis, the dynamics of baseball had begun to change, with other teams embracing new cost-effective business practices based on statistical analysis. No one excelled more at this new number crunching and player development than the Yankees’ archenemies, the Boston Red Sox, who in 2004 would deal the once-mighty Evil Empire a crushing blow, coming back to win the American League championship after the Bombers were ahead by three games to none and a mere three outs away from the World Series. It was a devastating loss that only accelerated the Yankees’ dysfunction, the authors observe, resulting in more organizational backbiting and a team made up of “a slapdash collection of parts that didn’t fit or work.
I've never shied away from giving the Sox credit and I won't disagree with those statements above. Still hurts like hell.

If the publisher is looking for additional reviews, send me the book and I'll get one up here asap.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Radomski contraction helps Clemens (sort of, maybe?)

Evidently, this contradiction could be helpful to Clemens and possibly troubling to Sen. Mitchell:

During questioning behind closed doors in a Capitol building office, McNamee said that as part of his job as Clemens’s trainer, he had injected him with steroids and human growth hormone. McNamee gave the deposition under oath. He was asked several times if he had ever informed Kirk Radomski, a steroids dealer, that he was injecting Clemens with drugs. In each instance, McNamee answered no, he had not.

That assertion has been contradicted by a passage in “
Bases Loaded,” a new book by Radomski, in which Radomski says that McNamee indeed told him that he was injecting Clemens. That contradiction and others have raised concerns that Radomski has hurt his credibility as a government witness in the perjury investigation against Clemens, and that he might have damaged McNamee’s credibility as well.
In a perjury case a prosecutor’s worst nightmare is for a witness to make public statements that contradicts another witness, especially the key witness in the case,” said Mathew Rosengart, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in New York and a former federal prosecutor. “Perjury cases are almost always a he-said, she-said dispute, and there usually isn’t a smoking gun, so corroboration of witnesses is essential. The questions about Radomski are a good thing for Clemens’s defense.”
For a lawyer's perspective, check in on ShysterBall. He's got it covered.

If Don Fehr were alive today....

Now, THIS is an awesome quote (emphasis mine):

"If Donald Fehr were alive today maybe there would be some real investigating into what's going on," said one frustrated agent facetiously. "Go all the way back to the 1990 lockout when the owners agreed that there would be no multi-year contracts to players over 35? Is it any coincidence that there have been no over-35 players (Raul Ibanez with the Phillies being the lone exception) getting multi-year offers?"

The agent never mentioned the ominous c-word, but the inference was clear. But if there is in fact another more subtle form of collusion going on among the clubs, somebody obviously forgot to tell the Yankees.
What about the R-word, or even the even more ghastly D-word? Columnist Bill Maddon summarizes the market perfectly:
Rather, it would seem to be a confluence of factors that has caused this ice jam in the free agent market - the economy, the downside of many players left on the market and a disconnect between the agents and the new-market value of their clients. You could add to that the gloomy long-term economic picture former treasury secretary Paul Volcker painted for the owners at their meeting in New York last November. Between that and Bud Selig's even more dire follow-up speech, the owners were left pale-faced.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Days 'til Posada reports

Via Fack Youk, mostly because I'm a fan of charitable efforts:

Posada's attempts to right the universe aren't confined to the clubhouse. His son, Jorge Jr. who is 10 years old, suffers from a rare disease called craniosynostosis which inhibits brain growth in infants. His foundation "provides support to families whose child is affected by Craniosynostosis, a congenital or birth defect that causes an abnormally shaped skull." You can donate here.
The guys at Fack Youk are doing their countdown to Spring Training by recognizing a Yanks player who wore the number representing the # of days until ST.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Commish For A Day #11: Realignment II, By Value

When I said it was the Commish For A Day #10 was the last of the week, that was before Neate Sager sent me this. Neate is a member of our Canadian infantry division as well as the keeper of the Out of Left Field blog. Neate fully admits that he probably has become a bit unhinged by cheering for also-ran teams -- the Blue Jays, the Toronto Raptors, the Minnesota Vikings -- which probably influenced the post. He did want it to be known that between Red Sox fans and Yankees fans who make up half the crowd at Rogers Centre when their teams are in town to play the Jays, Yankees fans are far more pleasant.

Since it is about the money, it’s mildly amazing we made it this far without this suggestion – realignment based on what each franchise is worth.

This is fully acknowledged as the bleatin’ of a beaten Blue Jays fan trying to rationalize his younger self’s shortsighted team-picking (they were really good in the ’80s, plus I’m Canadian). It seems to be a consensus here that baseball
is in need of realignment, but the scenario floated here the other day kept the Jays in the AL East with two-thirds of Mt. YankRaysSox . No disrespect, but that won’t do.

One problem with the three-division format and unbalanced schedule is that it gives some of the franchises, considering their financial clout, a softer road toward contention.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals (ninth in the most recent Forbes MLB Valuation) got in the playoffs with 83 wins. The L.A. Dodgers (fourth) got in with 84 last season. The Seattle Mariners were able to contend in the AL West for most of 2007, even though they weren’t a very good team (as 2008 proved).

Meantime, the Jays go along, squeezing out 86, 83 and 86 wins in a tough division. Put them in a National League that uses a DH and they’d win the pennant every so often, but that’s lost on people. Up here, the media and people who were only baseball fans from 1992-94 always reduce it to, “Did they make the playoffs? No? Losers!” There’s no getting the point across that this isn’t hockey, which has twice as many playoff berths as baseball.

Orioles fans must feel the same way, to say nothing for fans in Kansas City and Pittsburgh (they exist, I’ve seen it on TV). Expanding the playoffs to 12-16 teams is a non-starter. One hundred sixty-two games is more than enough time to figure out who’s worth a damn. The wild card should also stay in, since it does correct for the vagaries in strength-of-schedule.

A balanced schedule (quoth the great Jays blog
The Tao of Stieb: “Our kingdom for a balanced schedule”) and a salary cap (and even then, would the Jays’ small-town cheap owner, Rogers Communications, spend to the cap?) have already been suggested. On top of that, let’s realign based on what each team is worth, using the 2008 Forbes MLB valuations. While we’re at it, we’re going back to two divisions in each league, with two wild-cards. Before someone pulls a Costas and points out a third-place team might win the World Series, keep in mind it happened already (see the ’06 Cardinals). Here’s what it would look like:
– Yankees (1), Red Sox (3), Angels (6), Mariners (11), White Sox (14), Indians (15), Rangers (16)

West – Tigers (17), Orioles (18), Blue Jays (22), Twins (25), A’s (26), Royals (27), Rays (29)

– Mets (2), Dodgers (4), Cubs (5), Braves (7), Giants (8), Cardinals (9), Phillies (10), Astros (12)

West – Nationals (13), Padres (19), Diamondbacks (20), Rockies (21), Reds (23), Brewers (24), Pirates (28), Marlins (30)
This would, at long last, acknowledge that whole history of baseball is a history of money. Having potentially three playoff teams coming out of one division gives some consideration to the big sharks; the smaller sharks aren’t so hamstrung by geographical considerations.

If there’s time, revenue sharing would be tweaked so that the Marlins and Royals, et al., would be forced to sink or swim.

During the last major recession, the financial gap between the haves and the have-less was exacerbated. This is by no means perfect, but there was only a day to pull it off. Baseball has been in a growth period, but at the end of the day, fans want to cheer for a winner, and this gives everyone a fairer shot. At the very least, it’s a nice fantasy for this summer when the Jays are padding upstream in the AL East – again.

What happens when some team boost salaries, like Detroit did the last few years? Would there be realignment every 5 years? How would the schedule work? So you'd take one rich guy and one poor guy from every league, plus two WC's...wouldn't that still favor the rich guys, almost disproportionately to where it is now? Gotta wrap my head around this one...

And that concludes the Commish For A Day series, at least for now. Thanks to all of you who contributed, either writing or commenting. I hope you found it as interesting as I have.

For previous CFAD entries:
  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster
  7. Commish For A Day #7: No DH!
  8. Commish For A Day #8: Realignment
  9. Commish For A Day #9: Balanced Schedule, InterLeague
  10. Commish For A Day #10: Stadium financing, WBC

Commish For A Day #10: Stadium financing, WBC

The last Commish For A Day proposal for the week comes from Lar at Wezen-ball. I had to ask Lar about the name of his blog since it was not something that I have ever heard of. His answer should give you some idea about his off-beat personality: ""wezen" is the name of a star in the constellation "Canis Major" (The Great Dog). I always liked the way it sounded, and I thought the humor involved with it was pretty funny, though admittedly quite esoteric and quite geeky (it's the star at the point where the dog's hind leg and tail meet - so it's the dog's butt)." Ladies and gentlemen, we have the first baseball blog named after the butthole of a canine constellation.

If I were CFAD, I'd focus on a couple of things that the owners probably wouldn't like. First, I'd disallow public financing of stadiums. I'd also like to require that stadiums must have retractable roofs, but that might be unfair after taking away all public money. As much as I agree that building a major league stadium in a given city creates a pact between the city and the team, I don't think that public financing works. I think it's been proven too many times now that the team owner has too much power in these negotiations, and the city and the public end up with a bad deal. Making it prohibited or, at the very least, creating some strict regulations for it should help balance things out.

Second, I'd work with the organizers of the World Baseball Classic and the owners to make sure the event had as much support as possible. I don't think it'd be fair to make participation mandatory, but there should be as few hurdles as possible. Working out the early season schedule, giving the national teams access to venues, and encouring participation among the players could all do a lot to support the event. It's good for the sport and the players to grow baseball visibility around the world.

There's probably a lot more that could be done (work with the schedule to allow for a more timely World Series, change postseason start times to give the children of today a chance to see the game, increase teams' involvement with the community and youth baseball), but those are the two that I would focus on right away.
I was wondering if anyone would address the public financing issues or the WBC. I've been critical of the Yanks public financing snafus here, in the name of Randy Levine.

For previous CFAD entries:
  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster
  7. Commish For A Day #7: No DH!
  8. Commish For A Day #8: Realignment
  9. Commish For A Day #9: Balanced Schedule, InterLeague

Commish For A Day #9: Balanced Schedule, InterLeague

This Commish For A Day entry comes from Brad, who was good enough to go hog-wild on the balanced schedule idea while eliminating Inter-League play. I thought this made a nice follow-up from the realignment idea earlier this morning. Brad, following his balanced schedule/Interleague reasoning, riffs on a number of the ideas I originally posed. Despite the length of this posting, I included it all.

My one move would be to eliminate interleague play. Here are the repercussions of its elimination.
  1. The most pervasive benefit is that it allows the leagues to return to a balanced schedule (or a nearly balanced one).
  2. A balanced schedule removes the advantages some teams may get as they pursue the wild card. Did the Brewers have an easier path to the Wild Card than the Mets since their interleague games were different? I don't know, but without interleague play and with virtually identical schedules I don't even have to think about it.
  3. Relatedly, the balanced schedule eliminates the random penalties and benefits brought on by fluctuations in division strength. As things stand now, why should the Orioles face a tougher path to the Wild Card than, say, the Athletics?
  4. The balanced schedule allows teams in a league to benefit from the attendance boost seen when big market teams visit. I'm sure cities like Pittsburgh and Miami would benefit from seeing more of the Dodgers. In 2008 the three best road attendances (based on average) were held by the Red Sox, Cubs, and Mets. Why should the crowds they draw most benefit the teams within their divisions? The Red Sox, for instance, don't need the bounty of 8-10 visits from the Yankees to fill Fenway, but I'm sure the Tigers would like more than the one scheduled visit the Yankees have in 2009, a late April, 3-games series beginning on a Monday.
  5. A balanced schedule eliminates instances like last year when the Red Sox and Rays went 7 games in the ALCS. By the end of that series, they've played 14.5% of their games against each other. Put another way, after playing the regular season, the ALDS and the ALCS, those teams had done the equivalent of playing 1 out of every 7 games against each other. That's a bit much and only really benefits the fans and teams in those two markets. If you think such an occurrence is uncommon, think again. There have been 12 seasons played since interleague play began. That means there have been 24 League Championship Series. Eight of those 24 (aka, one-third) have ended up like this whereby division rivals are meeting to determine the pennant.
  6. The thrill of the World Series is enhanced. I don't want to know how Ryan Howard has fared in the past against Scott Kazmir in interleague play. I want to know how he's going to respond seeing Kazmir for the first time with Utley in scoring position now that these teams have made the Series.
  7. Player marketability. If players get more exposure across the nation, this increases their marketability, and marketable players increase fan interest. Fan interest leads to all sorts of revenue: MLB Network ratings, RSN ratings, ESPN ratings, online subscriptions, ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc. MLB and its teams don't need help selling more Red Sox hats, the Sox run the team well enough to keep those sales brisk. But there should be more people in random places buying an Indians hat because they've seen enough of Grady Sizemore to follow him closely. It almost seems as if MLB is followiig the 80/20 rule for merchandising since I imagine a large amount of their shared merchandising revenues probably comes from the top 20% of marketable teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets and Angels).
  8. Rivalries: Interleague play is supposed to facilitate this, but it's really not necessary. A few years ago the Yankees and Mariners had a great rivalry. Obviously, geography was not a detriment. The Red Sox and Angels have a good rivalry going on now. Rivalries are rarely created, but they are often the culmination of unplanned events. A balanced schedule provides more opportunities for rivalries to develop organically since all intraleague teams see each other more often.
  9. A balanced schedule eliminates those quirky 2-game series that frequently occur since the schedule has to accommodate unusual travel needs. These 2-game series benefit no one.
  10. A balanced schedule should eliminate the NHL- and NBA-style home-and-home series. I don't want to see Kazmir face Beckett on a Monday in Tampa, then see the same matchup again on Saturday in Boston. A matchup like that loses its luster when it happens twice in 6 days.
As for the other suggested moves, allow me some time to explain why I think they are less worthy of being changed compared to the above-mentioned tact.
  • Elimination of the DH: I don't like the DH because I prefer the strategies that come with pitchers batting, but it allows for some additional stars which help fan interest. Plus, it's not like I've ever heard of a fan losing interest in baseball because of the DH.
  • Expansion of the DH: Yes, the DH adds stars, but not that many. Ask most people to name 5 great DHs in history and they'll probably have trouble getting beyond Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas. Yes, the DH adds stars, but not that many, and I think the 30+ years of having one league with a DH shows the number of stars is minimal. Plus, we know the MLBPA likes it for how it raises some salaries. Add more DHs and salaries go up, and this likely gets passed on to fans.
  • Eliminate the Wild Card: The traditionalist in me doesn't like the Wild Card, but I can't dispute what it does for fan interest as more teams are in the running for that last playoff spot. Plus, it changes the whole dynamic of the trade deadline by forcing teams to make a decision. Since most teams aren't willing to signal to their fans that they are giving up on the season on July 31, the prospect of deadline moves helps fan interest.
  • Change the Arbitration Process: How does this help the average fan? Perhaps there would be some salary restraint which could be passed on to fans in lower costs, but prices of things often go up, occasionally hold steady, and rarely go down. It doesn't seem likely that teams would save $5 million in annual arbitration costs that would noticeably trickle down to fans. Plus, teams and players have already come up with a change to the process whereby many players are taking financial security in exchange for teams gaining some cost control. See Cole Hamels' deal as just a recent example.
  • Eliminate Type A/B Free Agent Draft Pick Compensation: Again, this doesn't tangibly benefit the average fan. What, exactly, would this do for Brewers fans (or the team) in light of CC Sabathia's departure? Even from another angle, how many teams are really not signing Jason Varitek because of the loss of a draft pick involved with signing him? Maybe a few or a handful. While the classification of Types A and B free agents would seem to need refining, there is an overall risk/reward system in place that works well. Teams have to balance the risk of offering arbitration to their own free agents, and signing teams need to balance the more measurable short-term gains against the hard-to-quantify value of a lost high-round draft pick. Players may get some short-term financial security by accepting arbitration, but they risk it by declining arbitration and trusting the open market to be more fruitful.
  • Increase the Number of Teams in the Postseason: Based on the NFL, NBA, and NHL, fans would probably like this, but there are shortcomings. For one, it's a scheduling problem. The regular season would likely need to be shortened, and that takes accessible games away from fans and money away from every team. Also, scheduling postseason games would be difficult if there are more to be played. TV networks don't want early start times, so the value of rights would be less robust if early game times are required. If earlier start times are used (i.e.., afternoon), ratings go down and so do the value of sponsorships. Yes, it's some new money, but the overall benefit doesn't seem to significantly help all teams beyond the rights fees that are secured (and perhaps I'm underestimating the value of those fees).

    Also, let's assume the playoffs were expanded to include two wild card teams per league, those being the two teams with the top records of non-division winners. Here are the second wild card teams that would have been added since the Wild Card began in 1995:
    2008: Mets & Yankees
    2007: Padres & Tigers or Mariners
    2006: Phillies & White Sox
    2005: Phillies & Indians
    2004: Giants & Athletics
    2003: Astros & Mariners
    2002: Dodgers & Mariners or Red Sox
    2001: Giants & Twins
    2000: Dodgers & Indians
    1999: Reds & Athletics
    1998: Giants & Blue Jays
    1997: Mets or Dodgers & Angels
    1996: Rockies & Red Sox, White Sox or Mariners
    1995: Astros & Angels

    Other than the Blue Jays, all of these teams have already seen the playoffs between 1995-2008. The Pirates, Royals, Orioles, Brewers, Rangers, or Expos/Nationals would still have been the curdle of the inept crop. Yes, adding another team would increase fan interest as the end of the regular season approaches, but the 14-season data indicates the playoff appearance benefit for teams would be as cyclical as the quality of individual franchise management. Add in all the other scheduling issues added playoff teams cause (along with the as-yet unmentioned likelihood of more off time between games which can decrease the quality of play), and this doesn't seem like a good move.

    All in all, while while I'm loathe to accept it, adding playoff teams does have great potential benefit. There is additional TV money to be had, and it does increase fan interest as teams could remain in contention longer and another team would make the playoffs. It all seems to contradict the regular season, though. Why have 162 games to determine the playoff-worthy teams if so many are going to make the playoffs? Add two more playoff teams and then one-third of the teams will qualify each year. That seems a bit much for my tastes and it leads to some scheduling issues. While I don't like the overall idea, and there are some quirks to work through, it's hard to deny the strengths of adding more playoff teams. Knowing my luck, this will be the next big move Selig makes.
  • Trading of Draft Picks: I'm all for it, but it doesn't lead to many things which boost the value of the sport. I don't think Pirates fans would feel any better knowing the team traded Nady & Marte and part of the return was an extra draft pick. Plus, this is not a simple rule change as long as draft pick compensation remains for the loss of free agents.
  • Change the Amateur Draft: I'm all for it, but I'm not sure how it leads to many things which boost the value of the sport. Well-managed teams will find and pay (within reason) for quality players whether they're from Montana, Moscow, Martinique or Malaysia. Fans are generally unconcerned with a player's origins. They just want to believe the player can help.
  • Eliminate the All Star Game Winner Determining WS Home Field Advantage: I'm all for this, but let's face it: This move has been a poor idea that hasn't yielded the desired benefit (fan interest in the All Star Game), but the negative impact of this format hasn't caused much harm to anything other than our traditionalist sentimentalities. If anything, they need to increase the size of rosters for All Star teams just to ensure there isn't something like another Brad Lidge/Scott Kazmir incident as there was this past year.
  • All Playoff Start Times on Weekdays at 7:30 pm EST: I like the idea of earlier start times, but why automatically penalize teams and fans in the Mountain or Pacific time zone? On top of that, you're adding in other factors with this move, like the fact that an NLDS game at Coors Field will have odd game-time shadows. While local start times could be improved, I do think the sport and the networks have done a better job lately of scheduling games to accommodate the markets where games will see the highest viewership.. Plus, if all games start at a set time, that means all Division Series games will be played one at a time. There's no way the league (or networks) would allow multiple games to have the same start time, thus this move would mean only one Division Series game per day if all games must start at 7:30 EST.
  • Salary Cap/Floor: I'm totally against this, and I could go on for hours, so I'll try to be brief. In US sports leagues, caps and floors have taken understanding of the game away from fans. Sure, I may understand that Donovan McNabb presents salary cap issues for the Eagles next year, but how? Why? What could they have done differently? If I'm a Royals fan and the team says the 2009 budget is $65 million, I can at least easily understand how much money they have committed, how much they have available, and have a framework of understanding and judging their moves. Fans shouldn't have to simply accept player moves as a consequence of "salary cap reasons," nor should they have to deal with NBA-style trades where teams do 5-for-2 swaps but the team receiving 5 players automatically releases 2 of them.

    Another point: Baseball's guaranteed contracts, which would likely disappear under a cap system, make things intelligible for fans. Teixeira looks like a great move for NY, but will they regret it in the later years since the contract can't be voided and they're on the hook for all of the money? Perhaps a better example would be Todd Helton of the Rockies. Fans love him, he was once an elite player, and everyone now seems to wish he weren't a financial burden. But at least it all makes sense. If we had NFL style cap rules, the Rockies would release him in mid-January (about a month before Spring Training, just like how NFL teams release players in early June), and fans would have no way of understanding how the Helton contract impacted the franchise even after the player was released.

    I think it's good for fans that all of these commitments are clearly understandable, not like those 39-year old NFL safeties signing 5-year contracts to spread out the salary cap impact even though it's unlikely the player will reach year 3 of the deal, let alone the near-certainty he won't play all the years.
  • Finally, how the heck are revenues going to be determined?
    There are too many franchise-owned [Regional Sports Networks] which could adjust their rights fees for their own benefit. Right now, MLB is concerned that a team like the Yankees undervalues its YES rights fees. What can the league do if the Yankees start overvaluing those rights fees?. On top of that, why should the Pirates have to raise their payroll because the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field may strongly inflating league-wide revenues? Combined, I've seen estimates that those new stadiums could mean a total of around $1-1.2 billion. Can all other teams withstand the accompanying salary structure these NY-based revenues might cause?

    I don't know, but if I'm a Diamondbacks fan I don't want to hear anyone explain my rising ticket prices have gone up because the team had to raise payroll in accordance with league rules.
  • Require Retractible Roofs on New Stadiums/Stadiums are All Team-Funded: These moves are potentially beneficial way down the road. But not now. Look at the NL. The Cubs and Dodgers have the oldest stadiums. Unless new Cubs ownership replaces Wrigley, it's going to be here a while. The Dodgers are investing heavily in Dodger Stadium, so it's not like they're close to replacing it. The next oldest NL stadium is Coors Field. Other than the Marlins in the NL, no one in the league is searching for a new stadium. In the AL, only the Athletics and Rays are making a new stadium push. Basically, the drive for new stadiums has passed and only a few teams remain to get something built. Two teams are in Florida and one is in northern California, and both areas are generally unreceptive to substantial taxpayer investment. So, even if they get some public funds, it likely won't be too much. All in all, I'm against the idea of retractable roof stadiums. It's a game that I'd rather enjoy outdoors (whether I go to a game or watch on TV). But the bottom line is that if either of these ideas had any value, they should have been implemented around 1990.
  • Next Commissioner After Selig: Lots of choices, but the strengths of an individual today may not be the best match when it's time to replace Selig, so it doesn't seem wise to pick his successor now.

    Other moves I considered but disregarded (I'll spare you the reasons):
  • Changing the Saturday Game of the Week format.
  • Fixing the territorial rights issues which hamper online broadcasts.
  • Changing the playoff format (namely to minimize the number of off days, but also to get rid of silly rules preventing the wild card team from facing the division winner in the first round).

For previous CFAD entries:

  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster
  7. Commish For A Day #7: No DH!
  8. Commish For A Day #8: Realignment

Commish For A Day #8: Realignment

I got this Commish For A Day entry a bit late, but not only was it well-written, it was on a subject that I hoped someone would tackle. Reader TJ was good enough to send this manifesto covering the very sensitive subject of realignment. TJ is currently a senior at The College of New Jersey who is life long Yankees fan.

If I was commissioner for a day I would make two new teams. They can be from anywhere but two possibilities that I thought of are Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina. I believe Major League teams could do well in these areas. There would then be 32 teams in the Majors. I would make 16 teams per league with 4 divisions in each league, all with 4 teams. It is one of the worse setups to have a different amount of teams in divisions. For a division to have 4 teams, most to have 5, and another to have 6 is just not fair around the league. This setup would eliminate the wildcard; there would be one winner from each division. Every team then would have a 25% chance to make the playoffs each year.

For a detailed look at what I would do please see the information below:

16 Teams in both leagues divided into two conferences and four divisions per league like listed below:

American League
Conference 1
Division 1

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • New York Yankees
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Toronto Blue Jays
Division 2

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Milwaukee Brewers *

Conference 2
Division 3

  • Kansas City Royals
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tampa Bay Rays
Division 4
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Oakland A's
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Texas Rangers
National League
Conference 1
Division 1
  • New York Mets
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Washington Nationals
Division 2
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Cincinnati Reds
Conference 2
Division 3

  • Houston Astros
  • Florida Marlins
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Colorado Rockies

Division 4

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Arizona DiamondBacks

* I switched the Brewers back to the American League so each league could have one of the new teams.

Division – 14 Games *3 Teams = 42 Games (Two 3 Games Series, Two 4 Game Series (Two Games at Home & Two Games Away Per Series))
Conference – 12 Games * 4 Teams = 48 Games (All 3 Game Series)
League – 6 Games *8 Teams = 48 Games (All 3 Game Series)
Inter-League (Different Division Each Year) – 6 Games * 4 Teams = 24 Games (All 3 Game Series)
Total = 162 Games

The point of the four game series being split up into two games at home and two games on the road is because it will give it more of a playoff atmosphere. Four game series are long and get old; put four straight games, two at each ballpark would make it interesting. There would also be no natural rivalries with this new system.

No more Wild Card. A winner from each division gets into the playoffs. Any ties in the division will go to a one game playoff. Three rounds in the playoffs each 7 game series. Best record during the season decides home field advantage including the World Series (not decided by the All Star Game anymore). If tied for the best record then the tiebreaker would be best head to head record then best interleague play record if necessary.

Well done. There's a lot here to digest but to those out there reading, use the comments to share your thoughts.

I happen to love the Wild Card and might suggest it with the top two teams in each league getting a first round bye (giving some real value to that regular season record). It would stretch the season a bit but if you toss a few extra double-headers in during the season, it could be done.

For previous CFAD entries:

  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster
  7. Commish For A Day #7: No DH!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I learned today

I learned that the arbitration figures, once settled, are not guaranteed contracts. I didn't realize this; I thought all baseball contracts are guaranteed. A team could release a player after arbitration and only responsible for 1/6th of their salary.

A lot has been made about Jason Varitek and some other free agents not accepting arbitration, and it has even been suggested in a few places that Varitek [...] made a mistake by declining arbitration. But that suggestion may not be right.

In Varitek's case an arbitration award could have meant about $11 million, as he made $10.4 million last year. However, going to arbitration and having a fully guaranteed contract are two different things. To that point the Red Sox had declined to guarantee any offers to Varitek (arbitration deals are not fully guaranteed) and were hinting that Varitek's playing time might be diminished, so Varitek ultimately worried that the Sox only offered arbitration to keep the dialogue going and that ultimately they might release him after going to arbitration with him. Had the Red Sox taken him to arbitration, in reality they were only guaranteeing a little more than $1.5 million (a team that releases a player after arbitration but before the season only has to pay one-sixth of the salary). This is a fairly rare occurrence but it has happened in the case of Todd Walker and several other players.

Even so, it's still a mystery to many why Varitek didn't take arbitration. And even Red Sox owner John Henry asked Varitek in their well-publicized meeting a week ago why he didn't take the arbitration offer. The reason is that Varitek didn't believe that accepting arbitration would guarantee him a spot on the team.

Commish For A Day #7: No DH!

The last Commish For A Day comes from International Correspondent and foreign baseball connoisseur Ron Rollins, master of the site Baseball Over Here. This is more of a stream of consciousness...with a distinct left turn into the Land of the Disturbed.

  • Elimnate the DH, as it is an abomination to sports. (abomination = affront to the sensibilities of the human race)
  • There is no sitting out for substitutes at a crucial moment of the game.
  • In the NFL, when the QB is about to get sacked, they don't stop the game and let someone else get tackled to avoid injury.
  • In golf, they don't let the player do hit the tee shot, hit the drives and chips, and then have someone else come putt for him.
  • In the decathalon, an athlete doesn't do 9 events and then get to pick someone to do the 10th because its his weakest.
  • In life, a guy doesn't take a pretty woman to dinner, wine and dine her, get her all hot and bothered, and step aside and let some other guy complete the mission.
  • No, in life, you have to do the entire job. You have to finish what you start, even if she doesn't.

So, no DH, eh Ron?

I'm not so anti-DH. In fact, I could even see an argument to expand it to the NL. Blasphemous, perhaps, but it might be better than having to watch some of these inept pitchers trying not to look like fools, or worse, trying not to get killed. Having lost Chien-Ming Wang for half the season due to an injury sustained while running the bases, I could live without seeing pitchers hit.

For previous CFAD entries:

  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules
  6. Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster

Commish For A Day #6: 40 Man Roster

I'm going to add another Commish For A Day posting (or two!) this afternoon as I'd like to get everything in this week. The response was greater than I expected and I want to give those who took the time the chance to be heard. This post nicely follows the previous CFAD posting about rules changes.

This comes from Howard from Philadelphia, home of the World Champs. Howard's "too old" to cite his age (his words, not mine!), but he's got a real beef with the roster expansion from 25 to 40 once we hit September:

The dumbest rule in baseball has to be that teams can have as many as 40 players active for September games after having only 25 players active for games from April through August.

If I was commissioner for a day, I would still allow teams to call up as many as 15 players from the minors for games in September and October; however, each team would have to submit a roster of 25 players for each game. This way, the minor leaguers can travel with the team and play - especially in games between two teams that are out of playoff contention - without important pennant-deciding games being won and lost using a different set of rules than were used during the first 5 months of the season.

Also, if they enact this rule, we won't have to sit through 4 hour games where Tony LaRussa uses 10 pitchers to get the last 12 outs.

For previous CFAD entries:

  1. Commish For A Day #1: Territorial Rights
  2. Commish For A Day #2: Best-of-7-LDS
  3. Commish For A Day #3: The All Star Game, Neutral Sites
  4. Commish For A Day #4: Instant Replay
  5. Commish For A Day #5: Playing by the rules