Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THE LIST? Are these the real 103?

Shysterball and Jay from FackYouk clued me into a Tim Marchman article that identifies the "alleged" 103 names who tested positive in 2003. Craig downplayed the significance of the names ("there are maybe 2-3 names on it that will raise an eyebrow"); I firmly disagree. I think there are more big names than I expected.

I am not going to post the names until I get a confirmation. But if this list is legit, we got a whopper coming. You can follow those links to get it yourself. It's a fake.

Stay tuned; as soon as there's a confirmation, I will post it. After all, more than 60% of you wanted this list released, so this might be your chance.

UPDATE: The list is bogus, a fake, fraudulent, a sham, spurious, a con, faux, ersatz... Please resume your daily duties with no further chest-beating.

Is Hughes the new Joba? Huh?

You can count me as one of those who loves what he sees with Hughes' emergence in the Yanks bullpen. He can handle two big innings, throws heat, gets the ball to either Bruney or Mo.

Sure, he's a starter toiling in the bullpen right now, but given the depth of their rotation (especially with Wang making some improvements), I think Hughes should remain here at least until Joba hits his inning limits.

Not by coincidence, Hughes' velocity has seen a jump since he moved to the bullpen, even though this wasn't the original plan. Of course Hughes would prefer to stick in the big leagues -- the pay, travel, everything is better; no one grows up dreaming of pitching in Triple-A -- but even though relieving isn't his first choice, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have been impressed by his open mind.

Let's not forget that Hughes isn't far removed from being touted as a top prospect, so we shouldn't be completely stunned that he's finding success. But, looking to cut off another Joba Chamberlain debate at the pass, the Yankees are making sure people know Hughes really is a starter masquerading as a reliever.
Joba should be a starter. For good. I also understand that the Yanks will try to cap his innings around the 150-175 mark. In other words, Joba's pitched almost half his season already, having thrown 75.2 innings thus far this year, making 14 starts. So when Joba gets closer to 150 innings, I could see Hughes and Joba possibly swapping roles, allowing them to remain effective and fresh.

Of course, there are the playoffs, should they make it. I'd like to believe that Joba, assuming all else is the same, is the #3 starter in any playoff rotation. Does it make sense to remove Joba from the starting rotation in September, only to toss him back in it in October? Or just cap his innings on a game-by-game basis, stopping at 6 innings?

How do you handle these two young guns? I don't have the answers. But I keep looking for them.
Do you let them throw as long as they are healthy and effective? Or do you continue to baby the hell out of them, ever fearing the worst? Do you have to develop a way to separate "easy innings" from "high stress" innings. Are "easy innings" innings in which the pitcher gets out in under 12 pitches? Are "high stress" innings those that require greater than 18 pitches? After all, all innings are not created equal.

I've listened to/read Goose Gossage, Jim Kaat and Tommy John recently, discussing how they believe pitchers need to train to go longer in games. The old "you don't train to run a marathon by running 2 miles" analogy. I had been a big believer in the protecting of arms at all costs, but I have come around to more of the old school approach. Over-protecting an arm is fine if you think that arm belongs to a motion that is flawed. But if the pitcher has good fundamentals and approach, I think the pitchers need to learn to extend, reach for that extra inning. Stop looking towards the dugout once he gets close to 100 pitches.

Small guys like Lincecum and Oswalt each tossed 2 hit complete games last night. Lincecum has gone the distance in 3 of his last 4 games. He's conditioned himself to do that. Halladay, too. Lincecum's highest pitch count in any one inning was "just" 13 pitches. He finished the game in under 100 pitches. No walks, 8 K's. Efficiency.

I'd like to see Joba and Hughes eventually get to that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Off Topic: Madoff gets 150 years

You don't come here for this sort of news, but I mention it only because a colleague had a good reaction to hearing of the sentencing:

"They should take away every penny he has and just release him. Let's see how long he survives."
That's both twisted and brilliant. Can't you see the courtroom doors swinging open, Madoff standing next to the bailiff who has a stopwatch handy?

"OK, Bernie... you're free to go. And...GO!"

Back to baseball.

Mets search for character via an OF fence: FAIL

Disclaimer: I have not been to CitiField.

I have, however, spent the weekend watching the games played at CitiField. What they have seemingly tried to do, by creating a stadium with "character" via kooky OF lines, is just stupid. Mets fans, if you know this already, please allow me to be the last seat on the bus since it's not exactly new.

From all I have heard, CitiField is great. Except for the fact that the entire front lobby/theater is dedicated to the Dodgers, not the Mets, of course. I'm supportive of deeper dimentions to suppress offense; Yankee Stadium is playing ridiculous so far.

What's absurd:

  1. The OF lines that have sought to create an artificial "character" to the park. You can click on the blueprint to the right for a larger view of just how silly these lines are. I'm good with a big park, but these angles and nooks are just silly.
  2. The equally wacky, random and varying OF wall heights.
If you click on the aerial shot of CitiField or the NY Times diagram, you will get a pretty good view of these random and varied OF wall heights. This has to be the reason why Instant Replay MUST remain in the game. Just look at this stupidity. Starting at the left field pole, you come out a few feet horizontally, then dip down. After that dip, you have an angling wall height for a seating section-and-a-half, from 12 feet to 15 feet. The wall remains the same height until you approach center field, where it dips down a few feet (to 11') again until it gets to The Apple (16'), where it rises back to the previous height (11'). After The Apple, the wall again dips (8') and seemingly follows the same height as the right field begins to jut out and then recede for no good reason. As you get to that right field depression, the fence rises to (18') make room for the Modells sign. Nice work, Modells, getting some prime real estate. It actually looks like the park's dimentions were modified to fit advertising, not the other way around. As you get to the right corner, the wall angles inward while the height becomes quite low (8').

This makes sense why? Just to be different? To add character? The ballpark didn't have to be cookie-cutter and uniform, but why take it to an extreme like this? They could make it deep and have character without these "additions". Just dumb. Why, too, are the poles and boundary lines in a reddish orange, not yellow?

The rest of the park looks great. I love the dark brickwork. Love the overall look of the stadium, but I just can't get used to these walls and lines in the OF.


Stubborn or stupid? Or both?

Make of this what you will:

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox - The most surprising thing was his lack of conditioning, and that he didn’t feel he had to do any of the shoulder strengthening program all Sox pitchers are on. According to a major league source, Matsuzaka appeared convinced that a Japanese shoulder is different from an American shoulder. Head-scratcher. In the end, he realized it wasn’t true. One thing the Sox have him convinced of now: He will be on the program next offseason. They may send medical or training staff to Japan, or Matsuzaka will have to make periodic trips to the US to get checked out. The Sox see a Sept. 1 return.
Two things jump out at me:
  1. He actually believed that a Japanese shoulder structure is different than an American one.
  2. He's out until 9/1. That's a long time.

Congrats to Mo! How sweep it is!

Huge congrats to Mo on his 500th save. Getting it against the Mets, after getting his first career RBI was especially fun.

It was Rivera's first career RBI Sunday night that really captured his imagination, coming on the same evening that the 39-year-old closer became the second member of baseball's most prestigious club for closers by recording the final four outs of a 4-2 Yankees victory over the Mets at Citi Field.

"The RBI is the best," Rivera said. "It was my first RBI. It was my 500th save."
Of course, this 500th save came to close out the 3 game sweep against the team that we used to know as the Mets. Now, they look like a minor league affiliate wearing big league laundry.

I almost feel bad for my Mets fans friends, who have to slog thru a terribly injury-riddled stretch. This team is just no good. Errors, mistakes, mediocre pitching, little offense. More errors. The best part of it for me was watching it with my older son, who even said at one point: "We make errors like that in my league". He's nine. Yep, your New York Mets.

As for the sweep, it was certainly nice and fun, but I won't get overly giddy about it. Clearly, this team, as currently constituted, is a mess fundamentally. They have trouble catching and throwing, knowing situations, etc. In other words, a team the Yanks SHOULD sweep. Just as they should have swept the Nationals (but lost 2 of 3). The Mets are, to me, like a kid brother, six years younger than you. Annoying, not a serious threat, wanting to be all tough and cool like you (think you) are, something you can brush aside, yet someone you root for when they face a team you really dislike. I don't hate the Mets. I want them to do well, only if the Yanks aren't, if only to keep the morale around the metro area higher. But, when we sweep them, I delight in the suffering of my Mets fans friends. They take it so personally, so emotionally.

It's wholly different than the RedSox. With the Sox, a sweep is golden. Euphoric. And getting swept is reason to not watch/listen to sports talk radio for a few days. The Sox are the team I take seriously, not the Mets. Losing to the Mets is aggrivating, but losing to the Sox hurts.

Good to get the sweep. Makes Monday a bit more palatable.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunset over CitiField

IIATMS: Changes coming


It's been a wonderful year and a half for me. I started this blog with a goal of having ten of you become regular readers, not knowing if I'd be able to achieve this goal. Being neither classically trained as a writer nor sure of what I wanted this blog to be, I just sort of started it right after Christmas 2007. The one thing I knew I didn't want is to be "yet another Yanks blog". I hope I have achieved this.

Since that time, the blog has ebbed and flowed, gaining a group of wonderfully loyal, fun-loving, probing followers. Many of you are staunch anti-Yanks fans. I love this. You guys keep me honest and push me forward.

I've also done pretty much all I can handle with the look and layout here. But I've gotten bored and I have been contemplating a total redesign for quite some time. Rather than doing this by myself (where I am clearly shorthanded), I decided to join an newer, emerging blog network. This change will happen early next week, likely on/by Wednesday, July 1st.

So what's going to change? As I see it:

  • You'll have to change your bookmarks and feeds as I'll have my own independent URL
  • You'll have to get used to a new look. So will I, but I think I like it, even know there are still many boxes to be unpacked.
  • I've been able to import my entire archive, though I will keep this site up and running, just no longer posting to it.
  • You'll likely see a handful of ads on the new site. I hope this isn't too distracting. Please click on them, too! It's about the money, afterall.
Other than that, it's just a way for me to refresh myself so not to get too stale.

So that's the news du jour for me. I'll let you know when the new site goes live. In the meantime, I suggest you play poker.

Thanks again for your loyalty,

Ponson tests positive for suckiness stimulant

He must have been tired after yet another binge eating experience. Suffering from "PPGSD", aka "post-pre-game-spread depression".

Kansas City Royals pitcher Sidney Ponson tested positive for a stimulant during the World Baseball Classic and has been banned from international competition for two years.

Major League Baseball will not suspend Ponson. Under the drug rules, he will be treated as a first-time offender and is subject to a medical review and fine.

Whatever. Long as the Royals are stuck with him. At least he can't hurt them right now:
He is 1-5 with a 7.27 ERA for the Royals, and is currently on the disabled list because of a strained right elbow.

Friday video fun: Foul ball catch

...with a mini-pizza box. Pure luck. And a preview of the next horrible fan-noise-making creation (check out whatever the girl is holding; fans should be eternally prohibited from ever seeing a game live if they use these things).

Friday video fun: Samuri slices ball

Pretty impressive. So are the reactions, the clothes, the hair, the mustache...

Who are the Yanks' reps in the 2009 Futures Game?

The Futures Game participants have been announced. Each team has at least one representative, no more than two. Here are the Yanks' reps:

Manuel Banuelos, LHP, Class A Charleston (World Team)
Many in the Yankees organization are excited about the high-ceiling potential of Banuelos, an 18-year-old product of Durango, Mexico, who has already flashed a low-to-mid 90s fastball and is working on his command.

The Mexican product signed with New York as a non-drafted free agent in March 2008, and he has opened eyes this season with the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League, faring 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA in his first 12 starts at that level, populated by some more experienced hitters.

Banuelos has excelled in June, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.14 ERA through his first four starts of the month. He made his professional debut last season with the Gulf Coast Yankees, going 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 12 appearances (three starts).

Jesus Montero, C, Double-A Trenton (World Team)
The Yankees promoted Montero to the Eastern League in early June, and the slugging backstop has shown signs of adjusting to Double-A pitching, having proven convincingly that he was more than capable at Class A.

The 19-year-old Montero was hitting .356 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 48 games for Tampa of the Florida State League at the time of his promotion and is working on a followup campaign to his standout 2008 campaign, when he hit .326 with 86 runs, 34 doubles, 17 homers and 87 RBIs in 132 games with Class A Charleston.

A non-drafted free agent who signed with the Yankees in October 2006, Montero was selected to the South Atlantic League's midseason All-Star team and postseason All-Star team as the league's top catcher. He went 1-for-2 and caught the final four innings in the All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium last year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Off Topic: RIP, Michael Jackson

First Farrah, now the King of Pop, in the same day. Tragic.

Like Barry Bonds pre-2000, Jackson, in his prime, was an incredible talent who devolved into a walking freak show as he got older. Neither Jackson's or Bonds' obituaries will be able to tell their stories without mentioning the sordid details that knocked them from their heights. Too bad, since the highs were about as good as it gets.

To wit, the opening paragraph from the news article:

Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted “King of Pop” who emerged from childhood superstardom to become the entertainment world’s most influential singer and dancer before his life and career deteriorated in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday. He was 50.
What a shame.

Here's a photo album. It gets pretty grizzly starting around photo 17. Yeesh.

And the focus sharpens on Manny and his doctor

The DEA is involved. Yet another acronym baseball players, MLB and the MLBPA want no part of...

Investigators believe the prescription for human chorionic gonadotropin, known as hCG, was written by Pedro Publio Bosch, 71, a physician who has practiced family medicine in Florida since 1976. His son, Anthony Bosch, 45, is believed to have worked as a contact between his father and Ramirez. It's unclear how far along the DEA is in its inquiry but sources indicated that investigators want to know whether either man ever procured improper or illegal prescriptions for other people. DEA officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Anthony Bosch is well known in Latin American baseball circles, sources say. His relationships with players date at least from the earlier part of the decade, when he was seen attending parties with players and known to procure tickets to big league ballparks, especially in Boston and New York.
Expect fall out. Possibly lots of it.

Anytime you can connect a possibly dirty doctor and "well known in Latin American baseball circles", you have a chance at some major exposure. This just might be the beginnings of the next baseball PED landslide.

You know, if anyone cares anymore.

Off Topic: RIP, Farrah Fawcett

Sad news today, Farrah Fawcett, 1970's and 1980's icon, has passed away from cancer.

And who could ever forget this picture?

Just a short while after we lost Dom Delouise, too. Ugh.

Manny and the Secret Service

No, really. Manny has an ex-Secret Service guy watching him, protecting him from whatever...

Part of the crew sent by the Dodgers to accompany Ramirez to Albuquerque was Ray Maytorena, the club's head of security.

A retired secret service officer, Maytorena was part of security teams that protected Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Of the task of ensuring Ramirez's safety, Maytorena said, "
It's rather low-key, especially compared to when you go to a G8 Summit."

Maytorena laughed when told that he went from flying on Air Force One to flying on Southwest Airlines, which took Ramirez from Los Angeles to New Mexico on Monday.

Maytorena said he feared Ramirez could be mobbed at Los Angeles International Airport, but that they encountered no problems.

I've had more challenging assignments," Maytorena said, laughing.

Among them was helping Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, move into her dormitory at Stanford in the fall of 1997.
You just can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Now batting...Mo!?!

Don't get hurt. Whew!

KLaw on Bryce Harper

It's buried behind the Insider moat, but here's a snippet of Keith's take on the Baseball Jesus:

Bryce Harper is good at just about everything and bad at just about nothing. He can hit, throw, field and run. And power? He's got it in spades.

Harper's best asset as a hitter is his strength; not muscle or bulk but hand and wrist strength, so that when he makes contact the ball takes off with uncanny power for someone his age. He launches balls in batting practice out to right and right-center and can drive the ball easily to the left-center wall. He's still wiry but has plenty of room to fill out and eventually make his listed weight -- a heavy 205 pounds -- a reality. He loads with his hands well behind his back shoulder, so he nearly bars out his front arm, adding some length to the swing. But he strides into the ball and rotates his hips well with his swing and has good hand-eye coordination, so the result is a lot of contact and the big raw power for which he's become known. He's an above-average runner now and should settle in as at least average even if he fills out completely.
There won't likely be another player in the 2010 draft class who can match Harper's combination of present talent and tremendous upside, especially not among position players in the draft pool. If Harper reaches his ceiling, and stays behind the plate, he could be a Joe Mauer type, hitting for average and power while providing plus defense at a critical and hard-to-fill position.
In other words, Bryce Harper is the greatest thing since Matt Wieters invented sliced bread.

ESPN can't hide their Manny-love

Their writers may pound their chests in abject horror or utter disappointment about Manny Ramirez, but ESPN is almost giddy about getting Manny back. Who said Manny's not good for business? Betchya Bud wishes Manny got voted in as a starter to the All Star Game, eh?

Ah, the allure of ratings. Makes ya wanna toss your moral high ground right in the trash, right ESPN?

Off Topic: NBA prospect "not about the money"

Well Ricky Rubio, let's just wait and see, shall we?

There have been rumblings and suggestions that if things get extremely complicated with Ricky Rubio's Spanish team, DKV Joventut, he might not be able to afford to play in the NBA. Depending on where he's drafted, it's conceivable that his NBA salary will approximate the buyout he owes his original team. In other words, he might play in the NBA without making a penny.

Rubio says that wouldn't bother him. "
I have a dream," he said. "I want to play in the NBA."

The point guard, who presumably could make some money from sponsorships, could not have been clearer that it's not about the money. If his rookie contract nets him zero, he says, "
I don't care."

New details on Yanks streaming games: Pricing!

A new tidbit on the Yanks' streaming of games on your computer:

The deal applies only to Cablevision subscribers who get YES and Cablevision’s Optimum online service. They will be able to get live Yankees telecasts on their computers starting July 8. It will cost $49.95 for the rest of the season or $19.95 for any 30-day period.
If anyone in the NYC area subscribes, please email me and give me the low-down.

Thanks, Marc, for the heads up

IIATMS Poll results: the 102 names remaining

Last week, I posted a poll for all of you to weigh in on the following question:

Should the remaining 102 names from the 2003 'anonymous' test be released?
I hemmed and hawed about this for sometime before voting.

The results:
  • NO! It was supposed to be anonymous and that's how it should stay: 37.8%
  • YES! The names keep getting leaked; let's just get it overwith already: 62.2%

Suffice it to say, most of you want to get this torture over with quickly. Waterboarding is preferred to the slow-drip-on-the-forehead, I guess. We can only wonder if the Union feels the same way and that's one of the reasons why Fehr is stepping down...

MLBAM hears the roar from the MLB.tv crowd

Via reader Keith K.:

"Just wanted to update you on the progress of the MLB.tv archive issue I emailed you about a week or so ago. After a number of emails to Bob Bowman (MLBAM President and CEO) and over 100 posts related to this issue on the MLB.tv support forum, MLB has decided to relent and revamped their policy to allow the archives of out-of-market games to be available immediately following the end of the game. As I understand it, in-market games will continue to fall under the 90 minute delay policy."
Great move by MLB.tv/MLBAM to hear the complaints from their best customers and change the policy! Can't say that we had much to do with it, but it's good to hear that MLBAM is paying attention.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean what you might THINK it means, given the blackout map to the right (click it for a larger version).

If you want to read the 110+ postings on this topic at the MLB.tv forums page(s), please click here. What's most telling is that their forum moderator/support guru kept having to make posts like these:
  • "I cannot provide you any further information as I do not know the specifics of the policy."
  • "I do not have specific information as to exactly why the policy has changed."
  • "If you'd like, you can contact our Customer Service Department"


[If you are from MLB.tv or MLBAM and would care to comment on the change in policy, please email me. I am looking for the "official" change in policy document. Thanks!]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rolling the Dice

Have the Sox come up snake-eyes with Dice-K? Bob Ryan seems to think so:

There's a lot of financial craziness out there in modern professional sport, but we have not yet reached the point where a third or fourth (and in this case, fifth) starter is worth a total investment of $102 million for six years.

There's really not going to be any kind of debate about this, is there?

He’s not what he was supposed to be; this much we know. He was billed as a superpitcher, a guy who threw in the mid-to-high 90s and who augmented this uberheater with as many as five auxiliary pitches, all, as they say, in the “plus’’ category. (We won’t go anywhere near that gyroball nonsense.)

We’ve never seen that guy.

What we’ve seen at his best is a guy who throws in the low 90s and who has decent auxiliary stuff. We have seen that, in common with pitchers in his basic category, he needs to hit spots to be effective. He has got to locate that fastball on the corners. If he can do that, everything else has a chance to work.

In other words, he’s like a hundred other guys.
Pretty honest review, Bob.

The Sox are in a wonderful position to withstand the loss of Dice-K for any period of time. Penny, Smoltz, Masterson, Buchholz, Bowden... not to mention the financial might to absorb dead money on the books. The Sox are more than able to withstand this loss, no matter how long he's out. And given that Dice-K's annual salary (averages $9M for the next 4 years) is not extraordinary, the Sox would likely have no problem finding a suitor should they put him on the market (though he does have a full no-trade clause). First they have to get him healthy.

Before we blame the WBC, Dice-K was already established as a major league nibbler, frustrating everyone. So what happened? Failure to live up to the hype, the unreachable levels predicted for him? Pressure? The cumulative effects of all those pitches in Japan (and in the Koshien Tournament)? Or maybe he's just hurt?
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci pointed out earlier this year there is an eerie pattern of Japanese pitchers losing it during their third year in America. At the time, the Sox rejected this as a reason for Dice-K’s problems, saying he was physically sound and citing the fact he was 26 when they signed him. With the exception of Hideo Nomo, the Japanese pitchers who broke down did so in their early 30s. They insisted Dice-K was physically sound. But now he’s going on the DL, citing shoulder woes? Something doesn’t add up.
Verducci's article, published 4/21/09, looks awfully prescient right now.
Matsuzaka was 26 when he joined the big leagues, the same age as when Hideo Nomo made his jump. The other relevant comparisons are Kaz Ishii (28 when he joined MLB), Hideki Irabu (28) and Masato Yoshii (33).

Nomo, Ishii, Irabu and Yoshii all had initial success. But the third and fourth seasons became treacherous. Nomo was much worse in his third year and released by the Dodgers in his fourth year. Ishii was done after his fourth year. Irabu made only five more starts after his fourth year. Yoshii was released after his third year.

In every case, the third year was a pothole. Their ERAs soared and, in all but one case, their strikeout rate dropped. Nomo did recover to post two good seasons with the Dodgers later in his career, but otherwise he was mostly ordinary after the initial burst.

The biggest concern for such a track record is the difference in how pitchers are used in Japan and in the majors. Matsuzaka pitched every sixth or seventh day in Japan in a shorter season, but his individual pitch counts wouldn't be allowed in America. He threw, for instance, 250 pitches in a high school game, 189 pitches on Opening Day 2003, 160 pitches in his second start of 2005 and 145 pitches in his penultimate start before signing with Boston. Perhaps most ominously, Matsuzaka threw 588 innings as a pro in Japan as a teenager.

Manny, briefly

I've said plenty about Manny over the last several weeks. I enjoyed my 15 minutes with VoteForManny (PS: still time to vote!). Immensely. That it's remained a discussion within baseball means that perhaps MLB will look to change a rule or two. That's a success for me.

What I do have a problem with is something brought up the other day: That Manny could start a minor league stint in advance of his suspension being over. This is just plain wrong. Fifty games should be fifty games. Then he's allowed to participate in team-sanctioned events, either in the minors or majors. Not before his sentence expires. You don't get to sit in front of a parole board and get out early for good behavior, claiming you are rehabilitated.

So why should Ramirez be given the privilege of getting to play in minor league games before he has served his full suspension? There are no special privileges for minor-league players, guys who are playing for $25,000 or so a year, not $25 million, like Ramirez. When minor-league players face 50-game suspensions they have to serve their suspensions. Nobody finds a way to get them 10 games of competition before they return to the active roster.
It isn't like Ramirez was injured. He was suspended for his own actions. So he should have to pay the full price. It's sad that he has even been allowed to work out at Dodger Stadium, although he can't be visible during the time the media is allowed in the clubhouse.
So Mr. Selig, please consider adding this to the list of loopholes that I firmly believe should be closed. Guys who are suspended for PEDs should not:
  1. Be eligible for an All-Star game for 12 months from the end of the suspension
  2. Be eligible for any after-season (MVP, Cy Young, etc.) awards for 12 months from the end of the suspension
  3. Be eligible to appear in any game, facility, event, function sanctioned by his major league team and the team's minor league affiliates until the conclusion of his suspension.

    And if it's not too much trouble:

  4. Get rid of "This One Counts" for the All-Star game permanently. Keep the fan vote and mandatory representation. Let regular season record decide the home field advantage with the tiebreaker being interleague record (or some other tiebreaker).

Sosnick's preparing a binder

Looks like FOTB, agent Matt Sosnick, is starting to build a Boras-like binder (with the requisite pre-hype run-up) for his client, Josh Johnson of the Marlins:

''The way that I think Josh needs to be valued is somewhere between Burnett's contract and Sabathia's contract, and probably closer to Sabathia's,'' Sosnick said Saturday. "Josh is that guy in two years.''

Johnson has emerged as one of the majors' elite pitchers, and he is putting up the kinds of numbers that make the big spenders drool.
As a fan of Sosnick's, I hope that he's right. It'd be great to see.

Of course, Johnson doesn't appear to love the limelight, so it remains to be seen if he'll take less than "big market prices" to remain a bit in the shadows in a smaller market somewhere.
For what it's worth, Johnson said Saturday that he likes pitching for the Marlins. ''In South Florida, you don't get noticed as much, and that's fine with me,'' Johnson said. "That's kind of how I am. I like to stay under the radar.''

Monday, June 22, 2009

Following up on ARod and his "fatigue"

I don't care if this was a party scheduled 14 years ago, or 14 days ago. I don't care what the cause was, or which A-listers were present. This is why:

Alex Rodriguez's two days of rest was instigated by the front office, as was reported first here. But it shouldn't necessarily be taken as a slap at manager Joe Girardi. A-Rod just couldn't bring himself to admit he was wearing down whenever Girardi checked with him. So Yankees higher-ups Brian Cashman and Randy Levine engaged A-Rod and Yankees medical staff on a conference call (Girardi wasn't available at that moment), and Rodriguez finally admitted he was tiring to the point where he wasn't himself. Rodriguez's refusal to give Girardi the straight dope isn't a reflection on Girardi but the natural course for players who don't like to sit. So the decision was made on the conference call.
ARod was benched for fatigue. Not being "mentally tired"; fatigued. Skip the damn party, Alex.

I might be in the minority on this one, and I'm OK with that. If your (or my) management has a conference call to discuss your (or my) physical well-being and they recommend a few days off to rest, you (or I) should rest. Rest doesn't happen at 2:30am. I don't care what his "work" hours are.

This is not ARod bashing; I'd do the same thing for any player, any team. If you're hurt, you rehab. If you're sick, you do what you can to get well. If you're fatigued, you rest. It's that simple. Trying to justify it as anything else is silly.

Fehr stepping down

Breaking news:

Don Fehr is stepping down as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, a position he's held since the mid-1980s, a source tells ESPN.

Fehr will be replaced by general counsel Michael Weiner, pending board approval, the source said.

The announcement is expected to be made later on Monday afternoon.

This is a huge move by Fehr.

What will you most remember him for? The labor issues? The stonewalling of PED testing? Something else?

I'll have more to come on this later (work's in the way right now, sorry).

UPDATE: Shysterball was able to put fingers to keyboard on this topic:
Love him or hate him -- and as the reaction starts to come out about this, be assured that it will run about 10% love, 90% hate -- you can't say the guy didn't generally do a good job. In terms of working conditions and pay, baseball players are amazingly better off now than they were when he took over in 1985, and it was largely through Fehr's leadership that the union was able to fend off ownership tactics which bordered on criminal at times, and which could have meant the end of the union if not successfully combatted. Here I'm talking about Collusions I, II and III and the 1994 lockout. If you want an example of how these episodes could have gone without better leadership, you need look no further than the NFL, whose union has repeatedly rolled over for ownership, and the umpires, who were absolutely destroyed by Selig and his friends.

The big exception here is PEDs, where Fehr's instincts to fight tooth-and-nail against ownership ultimately did the union's membership a disservice in my view. Yes, many were responsible for that mess, but it strikes me that it took Fehr too long to recognize that, unlike the often boring minutiae of the usual collective bargaining fodder, there were (a) competing interests within union membership on this issue; and (b) a strong public interest in its resolution. Fehr misread both of those things, and because of it, the players remain stuck in something of a P.R. nightmare and will for some time. I think that angle will be overplayed in the Fehr commentary that will follow in the coming days, but it's not something that can be ignored either.
Shall we nominate Craig to the soon-to-be-vacant General Counsel role?

Cubs fans love "gritty" players, too

The Cubs fans are showing some Brosius-like love towards the departed Mark DeRosa. Rick Morrissey's tongue-in-cheek account is a fun read:

On days of exceptional mourning and sadness over DeRosa's absence, the Cubs could simply draw a chalk outline of him near third base. DeRo, as we all know, should be there filling in for the injured Aramis Ramirez.

But let's try to be celebratory: What a career DeRosa had with the Cubs!

Sure, if you want to get all technical about it, he was with the team for only two seasons. But what a sublime two seasons! He averaged about 16 home runs and 80 runs batted in while hitting .289. He played six positions in each season and had a total of 22 "unfortunate events" -- a designation many of us prefer over the word "errors" when it comes to DeRosa.

And, as we all know, the Cubs won the World Series both years.
As Morrissey rightly notes, if Soto, Soriano and Lee had performed to expectation and had Milton Bradley been anything but a huge, whopping, oxygen-sucking bust, it would be the issue it's become.

Can you NOT do that right now?

Just a quick open note to ARod:

Dearest Alex:

It's been quite a 2009 for you, hasn't it? You admitted using PED's back in your Texas days. You had a tell-all some book come out as well, though it clearly flopped due to a lack of interest (or facts). You returned to your team only to hit a dramatic home run in your first at-bat. Since then, your presence in the lineup has been a boon for Mark Teixeira but your struggles have only gotten worse.

I'm OK with you not being your typical "ARod self" on the field; heck, you are still recovering from hip surgery. I have enjoyed the fact that you have been here so far and there has been no news about you. You got back to playing and that's great. Just as you promised.

You've been struggling the last few weeks and recently ended an 0-16 slide. It happens. Your manager gave you two days off so you could rest up from fatigue. This is totally reasonable as you have played every game since your return. Here's my problem, Alex: If you are given a few days off to rest, please rest. Partying like a rock star with actresses in South Beach*, while fun (just a guess), only serves to highlight your narcissistic ways. Focus on the team and only the team. Please. There's an off-season to party your tail off.

This team needs you to be a reasonable facsimile of your previous self if it's going to contend for the post-season. When your manager gives you a few days off, rest up. Your team will thank you. So will Yanks fans.

Best wishes,

* Here's the lowdown on ARod's night out:
It's not surprising that A-Rod is feeling a bit sluggish -- the wilting all-star was caught partying in South Beach with [Kate] Hudson, his main squeeze, in the wee hours yesterday morning.

The third baseman was seen leaving an exclusive party with the actress at around 2:30 a.m.

An update can be found here: Following up on ARod and his "fatigue"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Thanks, Pop, for all the good stuff over the years. You know. The games, lessons, laughs. And all that other stuff, too: from The Eagles, to Old Timer's Day games, to the "Engineers", to Caddyshack, to sledding, to the Stones, to History of The World Part I, to Springsteen, to the Jeep ride home from the Bronx in the rain, to The Hunt For Red October, to CSN (you can still have Y to yourself).

Hope you get to enjoy Father's Day and Grandfather's Day with Marc and the kids. We'll be toasting you from this coast.

To Marc: Keep doin' what you're doin'. Wish I could see it more often.

To Matt: Happy 1st Father's Day. You've learned well and it's fun to watch.

And to my father-in-law, who's done nothing but made me feel like a member of the family since Day 1: thank you. You are a wonderful role model and a great friend.

For the rest of ya: Make sure you call or visit your Dad if you can.

Reader mail: A Father's Day tribute

This one came, unsolicited, from joeorange31.

It's 1988 (summer). I am 18 years old. Dad is 45. It's Friday afternoon, and the girlfriend will be coming to visit shortly for dinner tonight. Dad has some steak on the grill...grilling them slowly in the front yard.

I run into the garage and grab the whiffle ball and bat and run out to the front yard.

"Dad? Can you pitch a few to me before Tracey gets here?" Begrudgingly he obliges. It may not be HIS favorite activity, but it sure is mine. Little do I know.

The first ten pitches were uneventful; three weak grounders, two popups, three balls, two HBP.

Then...it happened.

swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss

Girlfriend arrives: We stop momentarily for cordial greeting. I offer for her to go inside, I'll be inside in a couple of minutes....just one more hit.

swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss

I've now struck out four times in a row...and starting to choke even more, and sweat. I am swinging at stuff I couldn't hit with a tennis racket. My father is silently giggling.

swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss

I've now struck out five consecutive times on fifteen consecutive pitches...ALL that I've
swung and missed at. Oh the horror. When's this gonna end?

swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss

My girlfriend comes outside after the sixth consecutive strikeout..."What's taking you so long?"

I snap back: "I SAID I'LL BE IN IN A MINUTE!!!!"

swing, miss
swing, miss
swing, miss

I've now struck out for the seventh consecutive time.

Dad: "Joey, aren't you ashamed? ... Can't we be done, now?"
Me: "Just throw the ball!"

The very next pitch, I swung with all I had....BAM! I'd love to say that Neil Armstrong caught it....but alas, this was almost as good: If my father hadn't ducked, it'd have hit him square in the forehead. It DID part his hair.

The sweat stops and I offer the following: "Okay...Now we can be done."

Him: "No...YOU hit the ball, now YOU go get it."

Somewhere...up there....my father is retelling this story to HIS father and the two of them are having a good laugh at my expense. Meanwhile, down here...you all can have the laugh at my expense. I do remember it fondly as my father was an unrelenting ball buster and this was no exception.

Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's who let your kid(s) have the final word.

To my Father: I miss you, Dad. Today and every day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday video fun: Whiffleball skills

It's Friday and that means afternoon video fun! And today, it notes the end of my week as I am leaving the office early.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Yanks fan relations gets one right

Sure was nice to see this sort of thing done yesterday at Yankee Stadium, following a 5+ hour rain delay:

The New York Yankees announced that they are rewarding all fans with tickets for today's game vs. the Washington Nationals for their patience and support with a free ticket offer. Please note that the Yankees will only accept tickets with valid barcodes for the June 18, 2009, game.

Fans may redeem their valid June 18, 2009, ticket -- regardless of whether it was used to attend the game or not -- for a free Bleachers, Grandstand or Terrace ticket at Yankee Stadium to a non-Premium game this season or a non-Premium game in the 2010 season.
I also heard that they invited all fans in the upper levels to come and sit in the lower level --nooo, not in the moat-- but lower level, since there were only about 10,000 fans at gametime.

That's getting it right.

I'd like to see the team randomly pulling families from the upper to the lower when there are seats available during every game. Might be tough logistically (to say the least), but it'd be a huge PR win, something the Yanks haven't had a lot of this season so far.

In unrelated news, the fine USGA folks at Bethpage State Park gave the middle finger to fans yesterday.
The rain that washed out play at Bethpage Black on Thursday left more than a few people scrambling for Plan B, including the 42,500 fans who had tickets for the day’s action.

Late Thursday, United States Golf Association officials decided to stick with their policy of not refunding or exchanging tickets that were designated for days when rain washed out play. On the event’s
Web site, a small notice was posted saying, “Thursday tickets will not be refunded or exchanged.
Because rain halted the event so early Thursday, and because more rain is expected, association officials met to consider whether to allow people with Thursday tickets to attend another day of the tournament, not unlike what baseball teams do when some games are rained out.
And because there is more rain scheduled, it seems that plus the stupid no-refund policy is having a negative impact on ticket resales for Sunday:
According to FanSnap.com, a Web site that monitors nearly five dozen ticket resellers, the average price of a ticket being offered for sale to Sunday’s play, which for now is the final round, had fallen by 40 percent.

Of the roughly 400 Sunday tickets for sale online Thursday, the average price had fallen to $128.15. Prices have fallen steadily since early April, when the average price hit a high of $220.
Click here to see the NY Times slideshow from the Open. Picture #7 is pretty telling how bad the conditions were for all. Screw the fans, though.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jay at FackYouk for forwarding this update:
The U.S. Golf Association was obviously concerned that ticket-holders Thursday believed they had been left high and dry, and announced this morning that anyone with a Thursday ticket will be allowed to watch whatever golf will be played on Monday.

There is a strong possibility that regulation play will not be finished as scheduled on Sunday because of the delays caused by Thursday's suspension and the likelihood of rain again on Saturday. So the Thursday ticket holders could get to see the finish of the Open. If there is a playoff Monday, they also would be allowed to use Thursday tickets to attend that.

Papelbon: If not in Boston, then NY?

Heard yesterday on MLB on XM:

Jody McDonald: “If you couldn’t work out a contract with the Red Sox before free agency comes up and you eventually become a free agent (after the 2011 season), is the Bronx ever a possibility?”

Jonathan Papelbon: “Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean, I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’t come to terms with you they’re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else.’ And I think it’s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’ll can’t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’ Not only in the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career.’ Because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted and play on a team where I’m wanted and that’s all I can really say about that, you know?”
Sounds like a "I'll play for whoever pays me the money I want", but who knows... I still can't see Papelbon joining the Yanks. Then again...

Thanks to the good guys at XM for getting me that quote. Sorry, no audio, however.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nats embarrass the Yanks

I know it's one of the reasons why I love the game: because any team can beat the other on any given night. But for the Nationals to come into the Bronx with just 16 wins this season and take two of three is just embarrassing. Credit the Nats pitching. They came in threw strikes, got ahead and silenced the Yanks bats. Rough.

I only hope Gardner's doing OK. His head hit that plexiglass pretty darn hard.

Moving onto Florida.

When does this rain stop? Seriously?

Lunchtime viewing: 1972 All Star Game

Things I am seeing while watching the 1972 All Star Game (in Atlanta) on the MLB Network during lunch, in no particular order:

  • Stirrups, lots and lots of stirrups
  • Incredible Astros unis (not the rainbow ones, though)
  • Bullpen carts
  • Hank Aaron hitting a HR off Gaylord Perry
  • An OF fence that looked shakier than one of those flimsy pressure fences you can install at home to keep pets out of a room
  • Expos
  • Cookie Rojas
  • A rookie Carlton Fisk wearing a Brewers helmet
  • Joe Torre's lambchops
  • Tug McGraw
  • Chicago WhiteSox' uniforms with red
  • Jim Palmer's leg kick
  • Jars of Andro and sacks of greenies (kidding)
  • Gawdawful SD mustard unis
  • Joe Morgan's arm flap before knocking in the winning run in extra innings

Here's the lineups, in case you are wondering.

And ya know what? The players played hard. And the game was only an exhibition.

Oh my, the 1978 game is about to begin....

Canseco to sue MLB: It's about the money

The slow, sad downward spiral of Jose Canseco continues:

"A lot of these players have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mark McGwire and so forth. They're losing salaries, because obviously when you're inducted into the Hall of Fame, you get asked to do certain, you know, appearances and shows and so forth, which incorporates income. So there is a major income loss.

"Not even that, baseball blackballs you from their family, meaning you can't have a future proper reference from them, a job, no managerial jobs, no coaching jobs, nothing. They completely sever you."
Canseco "intends to enlist Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro to join in the suit". Yeah, good luck with that. Those guys have made their money and (likely) not pissed away as recklessly as you have, Jose. Palmiero has chosen to fade into the ether. Sosa's in the forefront due to recent events, but will likely fade as well, enjoying his stature in his homeland (and his megamillions). [Canseco earned $45m over his career; Palmiero $89m; Sosa $124m]

Time to look in the mirror, Jose. You did this. You brought this upon yourself. You chose to write the book. You knew what it would mean to you. Just because you're broke and forced to "fight" 7' Japanese dudes to make rent doesn't mean MLB owes you one more red cent than you already have taken from them. Nobody owes you $%^&, Jose.

Want some money from baseball? Go crusade against PEDs. Go do something good for the game instead of constantly trying to tear it down.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Buster wags the finger at his MSM brethren

This was a surprising passage to read from Buster. I'm thrilled he wrote this. Really. It's about time someone from the MSM is saying this, particularly the parentheticals:

Morris did nothing to erode the credibility of Ibanez. He only posed questions that are reasonable, because we've all seen aged star after aged star insist that they were innocent, only to be proven that they are liars. Like Charlie Brown, fans like Morris have had the proverbial football yanked out from in front of them time after time.

Only now, instead of Bonds and Sosa and Palmeiro and McGwire, it is Ibanez who is propping up some big numbers in front of them -- and is anybody surprised when there is skepticism?

(As a note: Some of the mainstream media outrage to the Jrod column was fascinating, because some of the same writers who have said they will never vote for a player they suspect of using steroids are saying it's wrong for others to blog about their own suspicions of players' steroid use. Think about the laughable inconsistency there.)

Ibanez insists he's clean, and we have no reason to doubt his word. Assuming he is clean, the circumstances are wildly unfair to him. But those elements were not put in place by Morris, who just happens to be part of a generation that does its communicating via e-mail and Twitter and blogs -- rather than through word of mouth, as a lot of writers did in the late '90s and the earlier part of this decade, as they stood alongside batting cages and speculated on who did steroids and who didn't.

My own standard as a journalist is that I won't speculate, in print, on who does steroids and who doesn't, at least without proof. I don't think any news organization should.

But if Morris and others do so, after being lied to time after time after time, you really can't blame them.

Bravo, Buster.

Lunchtime video fun: Things you can't do

Please, I beg you: Try this at home. But do it near a big glass window and have the video running.

More beer for your money

I just love that someone did this analysis to answer this question: Should I get a Plastic Beer Bottle or the Souvenir Cup? I'll give you the conclusion here, but there's a also "volume analysis" (see picture to the right).

Based on the assumption of a average of 20 ounces in the Souvenir cup (taking head and spillage into account) and the fact you keep the cup, the Yankees Souvenir Cup is the better buy for your money as it costs $1.00 extra and provides a possible 4 - 8 extra ounces of beer.

From a convenience point of view the plastic beer bottle is the better buy. You do not need to leave your seat or run a risk of spilling any beer in transit. You do not need to carry a cup around when you are done or take gamble as to the actual amount of beer you are paying for.

There's also a wonderful list of "Things You'll Need", which includes:
  1. Ticket to Yankee Stadium
  2. 21 + Years Alive
  3. Money
  4. Want For Beer

I think I can satisfy all of the above, minus the ticket. Anyone got tickets?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Say it ain't so, Sosa (subtitle: Not Sosa-prised)

Yet another one bites the dust.

Sammy Sosa, who joined with Mark McGwire in 1998 in a celebrated pursuit of baseball’s single-season home run record, is among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year.

The disclosure that Sosa tested positive makes him the latest baseball star of the last two decades to be linked to performance enhancers, a group that now includes McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro.

Sosa, who is sixth on Major League Baseball’s career home run list and last played in 2007, had long been suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, but until now had never been publicly linked to a positive test.
What more can we say? Surprised? Of course not.

And now we're going to have to continue to bleed out the balance of the 104, 103 102 names not currently known. Which is equal parts dumb, sad and painful. I'm still torn on this. Should the 102 left in anonymity be kept there until someone outs them, or should MLB and the MLBPA agree to release the list and just get it over with? There's a poll to the upper left; please vote.

Sing it with me: One hundred and four dirty ballplayers on the wall, one hundred and four dirty players. Take one down, write a book about it...one hundred and three dirty ballplayers on the wall...


If you wear eyeblack like this...

...you might be a pompous a$$hole. Or worse.

I'm all for this kid doing whatever it takes to get to the majors as soon as he's able. I'm not going to chastise his parents for having him skip his last 2 years of high school if someone wants to pay him major loot. It's no different than having an exceptionally gifted student; let'em be Doogie Howser. What's so marvelous about high school anyways?

The Prom is overrated anyways. Unless you like fake tans (I love me some Oompa Loompas), renting someone else's clothes, overpaying for a limo....

But wearing your eyeblack like you're some badass WWE wrestler tells me you just might be a giant d-bag. I reserve the right to change my mind if proven wrong.

Moving on...

Satire, I think

Sara K., a FOTB, has a great posting at her place. I think it's satire. Not sure. Here's part of it:

In a statement read by his agent, Scott Boras, Rodriguez said, "I am shocked at Palin's assumption that her daughter would be an unwilling participant in sexual activity with me. I am far better looking than Levi Johnston. Besides, she doesn't have the musculature that I normally crave when I am on the road. Levi is as cute as Jetes, though. Not as cute as me, but cute like that guy on American Idol." When reminded by a reporter in a post-game press conference that the daughter who actually attended the game was Palin's 14-year-old Willow, the Dominican-born former love interest of Madonna replied, "Age is nothing but a number. Hey, we're all dumb and stupid when we're young. Right, Yuri?"
Happy to contribute any time, Sara!

Juuuuust a bit outside

"Harry Doyle", aka Bob Uecker, was in Cleveland to toss out the first pitch in the game between the Brewers and the Indians. As a way to honor the 20th anniversary of "Major League", Uecker threw out the opening ball and Rick Vaughn bobbleheads were given out.

Yes, Monday night's schedule says "Interleague," but the game will also be about "Major League" -- a flick still near and dear to the hearts of Tribe fans, 20 years after its initial release.
But in true Hollywood fashion, the Tribe's home games in the movie weren't, of course, shot in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. That honor went to Milwauke County Stadium, which makes the Brewers tie-in for Monday's promotion all the more appropriate.
At least a real baseball stadium was used. The actors playing Tribe players certainly weren't real ballplayers. (And please spare us the obvious punchline that the real Indians players of the 1980s might have been better off pursuing acting careers.)

But the makers of the movie wanted a cast capable of playing ball on camera and making it look realistic. Charlie Sheen (Rick Vaughn), Tom Berenger (Jake Taylor), Corbin Bernsen (Roger Dorn), Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Cerrano) and Wesley Snipes (Willie Mays Hayes) all held their own.

I had heard Charlie was a good player in high school and Berenger could play pretty well, and he hit well, but he couldn't throw," Ward said. "Corbin was a very good player, and Dennis was a really good player who actually hit a few real home runs while we were filming. The one person who really wasn't a player was Wesley, but he was such an amazing athlete that he learned to play baseball in about three weeks."

When it came to finding an actor to handle the role of the Tribe's acerbic broadcaster, Harry Doyle, Ward had a natural fit in Bob Uecker, the longtime Brewers play-by-play man who also had a starring role in the TV sitcom hit "Mr. Belvedere."
Feel free to relive all the quotes here. Or just enjoy some here:
    • Jake Taylor: [to Rexman] Hell of a situation we got here. Two on, two out, your team down a run and you've got the chance to be the hero on national television... if you don't blow it. Saw your wife last night. Great little dancer. That guy she was with? I'm sure he's a close personal friend, but tell me, what was he doing with her panties on his head?
      [Rexman pops the ball straight up]
      Jake Taylor: Uh-oh, Rexie, I don't think this one's got the distance.

    • Harry Doyle: That's all we got, one goddamn hit?
      Assistant: You can't say goddamn on the air.
      Harry Doyle: Don't worry, nobody is listening anyway.

    • Harry Doyle: Heywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor.

    • Eddie Harris: Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill.

    • Willie Mays Hayes: What the hell league you been playing in?
      Rick Vaughn: California Penal...
      Willie Mays Hayes: Never heard of it. How'd you end up playing there?
      Rick Vaughn: Stole a car
Yeah, I could go on all day. {And yes, the name of my long-running fantasy baseball team is the "California Penal League" with that picture as my logo}


Monday, June 15, 2009

Bloggers becoming MSM

Not exactly a "blogger gets a major MSM gig, quits his job" story, but I thought this was at least worth a mention. Wrong sport and not quite a "blogger", but huge congrats to Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com:

I think the next interesting football-related journalistic battle line might be how many clicks NBCSports.com can take away from the field by acquiring profootballtalk.com. Today, NBC will announce it has reached a deal with PFT that will allow the site to exclusively license its content to NBCSports.com. Mike Florio, the dogged founder and writer for the site, is giving up his day job (lawyering) to devote more time to PFT, so NBC could be getting even more valuable content than PFT has been publishing. The move is effective July 1. PFT's best month had 1.7 million unique visitors to the site; that's going to skyrocket now.
1.7 million visitors in a month? Wow. I've heard/read that it takes roughly 1M hits/month to generate enough ad revenue to quit your day job.

Guessing I will be here for some time.

IIATMS Interview: "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live"

Over the last nearly 18 months, I've been lucky enough to conduct interviews with some insiders within the game. From an agent (Matt Sosnick), players (Darryl Rasner, Eric Hacker), a former manager/player (Mike Hargrove), a professional writer (Jeff Pearlman), to a current assistant GM (Paul DePodesta). My goal is to bring you interesting perspectives from those in and around the game, people who you might not hear from every day. As always, I hope to continue to be so lucky to do more of these types of interviews.

My latest interview is with Robert Tuchman, founder and president of New York-based TSE Sports & Entertainment, a global leader in sports and entertainment promotion. He's also the Executive VP of the corporate division. In addition to being the leader of an organization responsible for corporate sponsorships and outings, Robert somehow found the time to write the book "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live". Click here for the website.

I choose Robert not merely because he wrote a book about the best sporting events to see live, but also because of his story about making it in the sports and entertainment industry.

About Robert Tuchman:

When Robert Tuchman graduated from college, Tuchman was quickly forced to abandon his dream of becoming a sports reporter. Applications to sports programs across the country were ignored and eventually he accepted a position as an investment advisor at Lehman Brothers in New York, followed by a stint Paine Webber.

Still wanting to break into the sports industry, he joined Sports Profiles after reading about them in Entrepreneur, working out of his apartment selling sports magazine advertisements. Quickly realizing that everyone to whom he sold ads wanted the perks (tickets to games or luxury trips to events) more then the ads, he decided to start a business that catered to this niche called Tuchman Sports Enterprises (TSE).

Within two years of working out of that tiny one-bedroom Upper East Side apartment, with one phone and a fax machine, his company was named to the annual Inc. 500 list of America's fastest growing privately held companies and as one of the top 100 promotion agencies by Promo Magazine.

He started TSE with no money and no investors and ended up selling it for millions of dollars to Premiere Global Sports. Last year PGS earned over $70 million dollars in sales. Robert Tuchman now serves as President of that division, still guiding his company in its new form.

So if you are curious about getting started in the sports & entertainment industry, which baseball game is the best event to see live, whether Wrigley is a better experience than Fenway, and dog owners who buy books, please read on and enjoy:

Background questions
  • It's About The Money, Stupid: Tell us how you got started in the corporate events business?

    Robert Tuchman: I always wanted to work in sports. I left Lehman Brothers after six months on the job after graduating school to follow my passion. Funny enough at the time this move was considered renegade and Lehman was the safe route. Well we all know what happened there!

  • IIATMS: How did you handle the fears and risks of starting your own business?

    RT: I tried to use the energy from those emotions to feed my desire to continue going even when things got very tough. I also realized that I had to get over those fears if I wanted to go after my dreams.

  • IIATMS: What’s the best lesson you can share?

    RT: Persistence is extremely important when starting a business. It’s a marathon so try and take a step forward each day. When you get knocked down, pick yourself off the mat and start again.

  • IIATMS: What advice could you offer for anyone interested in getting into your line of work?

    RT: Try and get in the door anywhere you can in the industry. Even if that means starting as an intern. We have hired many interns over the years. You will also get to see what is going on from the inside and determine where you want to be.

  • IIATMS: What sort of background would someone ideally like/need to have in order to be successful at your company?

    RT: Anyone who brings good energy and a can-do attitude is 95% there.

  • IIATMS: What’s the greatest misconception about your job?

    RT: That I get to hang out at the Super Bowl and the Final Four and have a blast. It's more work then fun, but I do get to have at least a little fun, so I can't really complain.

  • IIATMS: How many days a year are you on the road? More or less than prior years?

    RT: About the same. I would say a week out of the month is on the road.

  • IIATMS: Has the economy had a major impact on companies’ desires to use frontline sporting events as major schmoozing/relationship-building opportunities?

    RT: Certainly. We were hit pretty hard for a few months, but the business is starting to come back, which is nice to see.

Book-related questions

  • IIATMS: Have you personally attended every one of the events listed in “The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live”? How long did it take for you to see them all?

    RT: I wish. I am only at about 38. The most I have heard was Lesley Visser and her husband Dick Stockton with around 50. Also Harvey Schiller had close to 50.

  • IIATMS: If you haven't been to them all, how did you get to your final ranking?

    RT: A lot of research and speaking with people who have been to the events. Really just talking with those who have been or worked the events.

  • IIATMS: It’s difficult not to be a spoiler, but the Masters are your #1 event to see live in our lifetime. What if I am not into golf, watching golf, being around golfing fans wearing visors, etc.?

    RT: Funny thing is I am not a big golfer myself. This one is strictly about the venue and its beauty. Its really a magical place.

    [IIATMS edit: If anyone from Augusta National happens to wander on by, I'd love to come to the Masters. I just need tickets and access and I'll write up the whole thing. I'm serious. Hootie, email me!]

  • IIATMS: Number 9 on your list is Redsox/Yanks, at Yankee Stadium. As a Yankee fan, I understand this, but why “at Yankee Stadium”? Why not “at Fenway”? Would this change now given there’s a new Yankee Stadium? [As a parallel, the same goes for #30 Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs at Toronto , but not “at Montreal"]

    RT: Yankee fans [IIATMS edit: Don't blame me, Sox fans.]

  • IIATMS: Number 14 is any Cubs game at Wrigley. Is that really better than the Final Four or The Daytona 500? I haven’t been to all three of these, but it seems the drama of the other two would outweigh “any game” at Wrigley.

    RT: Without a doubt there is more energy and excitement at those events but a game at Wrigley sends you back in time. It's an incredible experience.

  • IIATMS: Speaking of both Fenway and Wrigley, is seeing a game at Wrigley (#14 overall) that much better than seeing a game at Fenway (#55)? Even as a Yankee fan, I love the Fenway experience. And if you have seats on the Monster (which I have had before), that’s about as good an experience as you can get.

    RT: Fenway is special. I actually worked there as a security guard one summer so I have been around the park many times. I have not had a chance to sit on the Monster, that seems like an awesome experience.

    The Wrigley experience though is more of a time machine event. You really feel like your back at the turn of the century watching baseball. It's as pure to the roots of the sport that I have gotten at the major league level.

  • IIATMS: Getting back to golf, the US Open sits at #64 on your list. I would have expected it to be higher, given that there tends to be a rowdiness factor that you don’t get at the British Open.

    RT: That is true but the British Open, especially when it is played on some of the older European courses is pretty cool. Plus, I had the Masters as number one so I had to give the Europeans something.

  • IIATMS: Could #1 overall be “Any golf event with Tiger in the Top 5 on Sunday”?

    RT: Funny enough, with out a doubt. Tiger has elevated golf and interest in the sport, especially at the Masters, more then anyone. In fact, without Tiger, I don’t think I would have selected the Masters number one.

  • IIATMS: Westminster Dog Show? At #93? Ahead of Men’s Lacrosse Championship (#95), the College Baseball World Series (#96)? Really?

    RT: It's amazing how many people love dogs, and they like to buy books.
About attending any of these events
  • IIATMS: What are the best tricks to landing tickets to any of these events if you a) aren’t flush with money, b) not getting tickets from your employer, c) not well connected?

    RT: Box office day of is always a possibility. Tickets get held back sometimes or released late so you never know. Companies like gotickets.com are good to buy market value tickets.

  • IIATMS: What’s the best event to attend if you are: a) looking for rowdiness, b) not looking for rowdiness, c) looking for a unique experience, d) looking to impress a client/partner?

    a) Hong Kong Sevens
    b) Little League World Series
    c) Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest
    d) Super Bowl

  • IIATMS: What are the most accessible events in the US ? Meaning: ease of getting there, ease of getting a ticket, etc.? (Perhaps by region of the US : NorthEast, SouthEast, West, South)

    NorthEast: Head of the Charles Regatta
    SouthEast: Bayou Classic
    West: UCLA/USC @ Pauley Pavilion
    Midwest: Little 500
Bonus Question:
  • IIATMS: Are you hiring? How can someone break into the business with your Company?

    RT: Not right now with the downturn, but we will be I am sure pretty soon. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door.

Please visit Amazon if you are interested in buy the book. It's not merely a ranking; it's also a great travel guide for each of the events. {Disclaimer: I do not make any commission off any sales of the book}

Each Ranked Event contains the following sub-sections: Where, When, Significance, Who attends, History, Notable Athletes/MVPs, Records, Things to know before you go, How to get there, Tickets, Accomodations, On-Site hospitality, Travel packages, Dining.

Thanks again to Robert Tuchman for his time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

With the #1 pick in the 2010 draft, the Nationals select...

...Bryce Harper, Phenom, College of Southern Nevada (after earning his GED at age 16).

Harper, a 16-year-old who just completed his sophomore year, has registered at the College of Southern Nevada, where he plans to attend classes in August and play for the Coyotes next season.
Bryce Harper and his mother, Sheri, recently went to CSN and signed enrollment forms and his letter of intent to play baseball. Harper is aiming to earn his GED test credentials in the fall.
So not only will Boras have a "once in a generation" pitching talent with Strasburg this year, he could have Harper next year. And he'll have his gun in the back of the Nats (in all likelihood) yet again this time next year. At 16, I was just hoping to get a car. He's contemplating a multimillion dollar draft bonus. Of course, I wasn't a 6-foot-3-inch catcher who hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs along with 36 stolen bases.

A review of Harper can be found here: Behold! The Baseball Jesus!