Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beer ban in bleachers goes bye-bye

Rejoice, Bleacher Creatures!

Beer was banned in Section 39 at the old Stadium in 2000 to tame the sometimes overly passionate Bleacher Creatures, but with the move to the new ballpark, the taps will be turned on once again, a team official told The Post.
Now we are going to retire all of our old ingenious ways of smuggling beer into the stadium," [a fan] said.

We'd go into a deli, and they'd make us a hero with fresh Arthur Avenue bread, hollow it out and put four beer cans inside. The guy would wrap it up and write 'ham and cheese' on it."

In fact, alcohol never really stopped being sold in the bleachers, ["Sheriff Tom" Brown, a Creature since 1993] said.

This one guy would sell those airline-size liquor bottles out of a bathroom stall, like a drug dealer," he said.
We can look forward to decades more civility, family fun, laughs and smiles in the bleachers. Or not.

What catching a BP homerun feels like


More on Mussina's career

Recently, I started the Moose retrospective by comparing him with contemporary Curt Schilling. Mine was a relatively simple and cursory view of the two pitchers. Now, I want to point you in two related directions, which really highlights how good a derivative thread can be.

First, to Lar at Wezen-ball, who takes a great look at Moose through the years, with his conclusion:

As we all know, Mussina never ended up winning his Cy Young award. His highest finish was in 1999, when he finished second behind Pedro Martinez's line of 23-4, 313 strikeouts, 2.07 ERA (243 ERA+). Despite that, Moose had a great career. For those first 10 years of his career, when he was still with Baltimore, he was clearly regarded as one of the top pitchers in the American League, a notch below Clemens, Pedro, and Johnson, maybe, but still top tier. His strong ERA+ and fantastic won-loss record (as overrated as it can be at times) and his frequent placement in the Cy Young results all help support this.
Then, in response to something that Lar had to say, The Common Man wanted to weigh in, too, and does so quite nicely.
In addition, the relative stability of his homerun rate could be a result of moving from a good homerun park (Oriole Park at Camden Yards) to a more difficult one (Yankee Stadium). Like most pitchers, as he aged Mike Mussina had to survive by pitching more to contact.

And given the state of the Yankees defense, perhaps this was exactly the wrong time for Mussina to have to make this adjustment. In his prime, up the middle in Baltimore, Mussina had Ripkens (plural), Harold Reynolds, Mike Devereaux, Robbie Alomar, Brady Anderson, and Mike Bordick, all players with excellent defensive repuations. Meanwhile, as a Yankee, he's had Soriano, Jeter, Miguel Cairo, an aging Bernie Williams, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera. Defense has not been a hallmark of the Yankees of late, and Mussina's shift in pitching strategy seemed destined to lead to more basehits.
This is the beauty of the blogosphere when it works properly and doesn't get weighed down in snarky comments and insults. One idea gives birth to several more, each growing in layers. (A Moose pearl, if you will!)

Over/Under for 2009

I am totally stuck down a rathole on the BodogLife.com site. Here are the Over/Under lines for Team Wins for 2009. Have fun!


  • Baltimore Orioles 71½
  • Boston Red Sox 94½
  • Chicago White Sox 78½
  • Cleveland Indians 85½
  • Detroit Tigers 81½
  • Kansas City Royals 75½
  • Los Angeles Angels 88½
  • Minnesota Twins 83½
  • New York Yankees 95½
  • Oakland Athletics 82½
  • Seattle Mariners 72½
  • Tampa Bay Rays 88½
  • Texas Rangers 74½
  • Toronto Blue Jays 79½


  • Arizona Diamondbacks 86½
  • Atlanta Braves 84½
  • Chicago Cubs 92½
  • Cincinnati Reds 78½
  • Colorado Rockies 77½
  • Florida Marlins 75½
  • Houston Astros 73½
  • Los Angeles Dodgers 84½
  • Milwaukee Brewers 80½
  • New York Mets 89½
  • Philadelphia Phillies 88½
  • Pittsburgh Pirates 67½
  • San Diego Padres 70½
  • San Francisco Giants 80½
  • St. Louis Cardinals 82½
  • Washington Nationals 71½
Remember, the lines are for betting purposes, not prediction! So which would you place your mortgage on, if you had to? I think the Reds and Giants can hit the over.

Also, for the cynical ones out there, I am not (I repeat NOT) being paid to link to Bodog. I just find this stuff interesting.

Vegas' view of the hot seat

According to BodogLife.com, here are the managers on the hottest of seats and their odds on being first to be fired:

Which of these MLB Managers will be the first to be fired by their respective team?

  • Jim Leyland (DET) 2/1
  • Ron Washington (TEX) 3/1
  • Bud Black (SD) 5/1
  • Joe Girardi (NYY) 5/1
  • Cecil Cooper (HOU) 15/2
  • Clint Hurdle (COL) 13/2
  • Bruce Bochy (SF) 10/1
  • Bob Melvin (ARI) 10/1
  • Bob Geren (OAK) 10/1
  • Jerry Manuel (NYM) 15/1
  • Ozzie Guillen (CWS) 15/1

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lasorda refuses to consider Piazza & PEDs

I hate to come across as simply bashing Lasorda just because he so far past his prime, but man, he is just so off base here.

"I don't believe that at all," said Lasorda, the longtime Dodgers manager. "He worked so hard. I saw him in the weight room working out all the time. Whatever (is in the book) is hearsay. I just don't believe it. He comes from a family that's full of good people.

"I wouldn't comment on it if I didn't feel strongly about it. He has too much to lose. And he's such a nice young man. He goes to church, he's got a nice family. I know him. I know what kind of man he is and I just don't believe it."
So if you're nice, go to church and have a family full of good people, there's NO WAY you could do PEDs? Is that so, Tommy? What say you about Pettitte? Wasn't Chad Curtis the biggest bible-thumper for years? By all accounts, the Giambi brothers are good guys, too. And Italian!

Tommy, this sort of argument is what the stat guys have been facing with regards to the scouts for years: spare me your stories and tales and show me the data. Right now, Pearlman is putting up the data with at least one named player shining the light on Piazza.

Saying that "he worked too hard" to use PEDs is silly and beyond basic as a defense. PEDs don't turn a bad ball player into a HOFer, but they will boost a good player into something more. You still have to hit a round ball squarely. Tommy, my suggestion for you: You can tell everyone you doubt the claims but don't sign on as his defense attorney.

Thanks to The Common Man for the "Grandpa Simpson" idea via the comments.

Hurry back, Dontrelle

Dontrelle Willis has had a rough go of it the last few years. He's gone from the emerging "face of the game" to an afterthought in Detroit. At least the doctors now think they have an explanation, even if it's not the explanation:

Willis cited blood tests that were conducted earlier this month that raised concerns. Research suggests there are no lab tests to diagnose an anxiety disorder, but such tests can be used to look for physical causes for symptoms, ruling out other factors.

Willis said doctors told him that the condition is easily treatable...

Several Major League players have gone on the disabled list with conditions grouped under anxiety disorders. Perhaps the best-known case in recent years is Royals starter Zack Greinke, who abruptly left Spring Training in 2006 and eventually went on the DL with what was diagnosed as social anxiety disorder. He missed most of the season before returning late in the year, but has recovered to become a top young starter in the American League. Pete Harnisch and Jim Eisenreich are also listed among the better-known baseball players who have had anxiety disorders.
I sure hope that he responds well to treatment and we can get back to seeing the real Dontrelle again soon.

Off topic: Tiger's pretty good, eh?

I'm taking a quick detour this morning. Feel free to come along, or not. Your choice.

Admission: I didn't do a NCAA bracket this year. I won a bracket pool last year and I just never did one this year. A combo of factors but bottom line, I didn't get one filled out. There I said it. This allowed me to continue with a long-standing thought of mine: Once Syracuse's hoops season ends, it's the first signal that baseball season is around the corner. So once 'Cuse got blown out on Friday night, I had very little interest or investment in the rest of the games this weekend. As a result, I got to watch golf on Sunday.

I love playing golf but haven't been able to play much (kids and all) over the last few years. I, like many others, don't watch golf regularly, but will make it must-see TV when Tiger's playing. If it's Sunday and he's in contention, definitely. Yesterday afternoon, I managed to catch the back nine in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And I wasn't remotely disappointed. My sons even joined me for parts of it (we play Tiger Woods on the Wii, so they have an understanding of the game and I got a kick out of my 5 year old asking if "was that a flop shot or a wedge?"). I had to remind them that Tiger is doing this agains other pros, the best in the world, and making it look almost easy.

You know, by now, how it ended and the best part was seeing it live with my soon-to-be 9 year-old and my wife. I KNEW Tiger would do it, just as if we were watching a movie and we knew the ending, but we were watching a slightly different script. His mental strength around the green is just absurd and fun to watch. I hope everyone got to see it, or at least the highlights somewhere.

It was just incredible.

Randy Levine: Profiled

I know I have been pretty darn critical of Randy Levine. I firmly believe he puts the "evil" in Evil Empire. He's a bully, an ex-politician, smart, stubborn, unyielding and often flat out rude. For any of you reading here for any length of time know that I think his NYC government connections were the driving force behind not just the building of the New Yankees Stadium, but also most, if not all, of the sketchy/oft-criticized financing schemes that were required to get this thing built.

In recent years, as George Steinbrenner has faded from view as the principal owner, Levine has emerged as the strongest voice of the Yankees, baseball’s wealthiest team. He is their executive-as-prosecutor, a tough, short-tempered and smart protector of the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees brand.
He’ll smile, shake your hand and cut your heart out if you’re not repared,” [former union president, Norman I. Seabrook] said. “Don’t mistake that smile for anything but a knife.”
Richard Sandomir, the writer of this article, does a good job of balancing the pros versus cons of Levine and his persona; how it works, how if fails. But make no mistake about it: if there's something heavy that needs to be lifted, it's Levine to do it.

As a side note, I noticed two hits from the NY Times on my StatCounter before this article was published, researching Levine (Here's one, and the other). I have no idea if that was Sandomir or just a fact-checker, but I thought it was cool that they are scouring the web for info and found their way here.

Thanks to Pete Toms, Canadian baseball information minister, for the heads up.

WBC poll results

Wanted to post the final the voting results on the WBC poll:

Q: How do you feel about the WBC?

44 votes cast

  1. Don't feel strongly either way 16 (36%)
  2. Love it as it is 10 (22%)
  3. Love it as it is, start it in November 10 (22%)
  4. Hate it and want it to stop 4 (9%)
  5. Love it, do it mid-season 4 (9%)
  6. Love it but don't want my team's stars to play 3 (6%)
Thanks for voting

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I spy with my little eye: Jeter's heir apparent

For the longest time, I've been wondering who eventually takes Jeter's spot at SS, whenever the opening appears. I've read a bunch about various glovemen over the last few years, but none could hold a bat. But now, there appears to be a front runner:

Fact is, Pena has always demonstrated world class defense since being signed by the Yankees out of Mexico in 2005, but his improvement with the bat is what's elevated him to legitimate major league prospect status.

"When I first saw him three years ago, you could knock the bat out of his hands," said one veteran scout whose primary assignment is in the minor leagues. "But he was a magician with the glove and that made him someone to keep an eye on.

Now that he's gained a little weight, put on a little muscle, he's no longer an 'out'. He can handle the bat. I always felt his glove would get him to the big leagues, but now I can see him as an everyday shortstop
"Best looking young shortstop I've seen in a couple of years," said one National League scout.
Well, we seem to have our answer. The only question left to answer is: when?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday video fun: Rovell attacks the Fifth Third Burger

You may have heard about Fifth Third Burger, a $20 monstrosity named after the bank that sponsors the West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball team.

It's 5/3 lbs (1.66) of beef with lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, chili and Fritos on an eight-inch sesame seed bun.

The team says it feeds one to four people and sells for $20, and if a person finishes the Fifth Third Burger in one sitting, the team will offer up a Fifth Third Burger T-shirt.
Fifth Third Burger Nutritional Value
  • Calories 4889; 244% Daily Value
  • Total Fat 299g; 460%
  • Sat. Fat 199g; 597%
  • Cholesterol 744mg; 248%
  • Sodium 10,887mg; 454%
  • Total Carbs 354g; 118%
  • Protein 198g; 105%
So Darren Rovell decided that writing about it wasn't nearly enough. The ballpark sent him all of the ingredients and he constructed it on camera and tried to attack it live on TV with Jim Cramer trying to talk next to him. Here's the video:

Calling out Jeter and those calling Jeter out

The writer, Allen Barra, takes the tone that he's breaking ground about Jeter's declining skills, and while that fact (Jeter's decline) is true, he's clearly not blazing a trail. He's merely stepping in other's footprints and calling them his own. I've been critical of Jeter when appropriate, but not wholly stomping on his throat just because it seems like the popular thing to do.

Despite this, Barra is mostly right here:

Though the New York press and Yankee fandom don’t seem to realize it, Jeter has been on a sharp decline over the last couple of seasons, and 2009 is going to determine a lot about how the next generations of fans remember him. Thirty-four—he’ll be 35 in June—isn’t old for a bottle of wine or even a first baseman, but it’s like dog years for a shortstop, and right now Jeter is acting like an old dog refusing to learn new tricks.
Barra's walking a very fine line in assuming that every Yanks fan is the blindest of homers, at best, ignorant to reality at worst. Then he commits some major crimes that any "true" fan would never let slide:
This will be Jeter’s 14th season (not counting 1995, when he only played 15 games), and judging from the blogs and radio call-in shows, Yankee fans are assuming that he is a walking Hall of Famer, but I don’t necessarily think that’s true. If he pulled a Thurmon Munson, I think he’d get in. His credentials are pretty good.
Sorry, you cannot even suggest, in jest, that anyone "pulls a Thurman". This is about as low as you can go, the hackiest of hacks. What sort of person would even consider this an option in a published piece? Second, you simply cannot spell Thurman's name wrong. Inexcusable. How an editor can let either slide by? Maybe if Barra "pulls a Thurman", he can win a Pulitzer.

And saying that Jeter's credentials are merely "pretty good" is just an example of a writer trying to rearrange the facts to suit his angle. Jeter will be at 3k hits by the time he's done, or darn close if he doesn't feel like hanging around to reach that lofty total. And, by all accounts, he's done it the right way (on all fronts, though we obviously are going on faith that he's been clean). He's won 4 World Series rings. I know I am more biased than most of you not in the metro NY area, but I think Jeter's a lock, even without 3k hits.
Unfortunately, for sportswriters outside New York, Jeter may need a bit more. Most baseball analysts I know agree that Jeter should or could have won MVP awards in 1998, 1999 and 2006. That he didn’t probably reflects the rest of the country’s resentment that New York players receive so much national attention (or at any rate, are said to). But he didn’t win, and that may ultimately be used as an argument against him when it comes time for the HOF vote.
So most analysts think Jeter was MVP-worthy in three years but you're blaming it on an anti-NY bias? And that argument is based simply on a "probably", which shows just how flimsy it is. Some basic stats on Jeter's career:

A quick look at Jeter's peers during his era:

  • Nomar Garciaparra: remember when he, you know, played? Sox fans do: 2003.
  • Miguel Tejada: Sen. Mitchell would like to have a word with you
  • ARod: well, you know
  • Michael Young: Similar in their offensive/defensive skills, but didn't play SS long enough
  • Cal Ripken: not really a peer, but similar in size and style (and stubbornness)
  • Jose Reyes: different player entirely
  • Hanley Ramirez: more power, but also defensively challenged
Look, I know Jeter's skills are declining. I haven't been shy about this. Where he will play once his contract expires after 2010 is beyond me. But what I do know is that Jeter will glide into the HOF on the first ballot, barring any unforeseen admission.

In the burning afterglow of ruins of the Steroid Era, don't you think it enhances the consistent performance of a guy like Jeter?

What keeps bad organizations bad?

Doing things like this:

The gift that keeps on giving: Jimbo's inexplicable handshake agreement with Dmitri Young forces Stan's hand; Da MeatShake to be added to Nats' 40-man roster before Opening Day. Via Nationals Journal:

The Nationals intend to add Dmitri Young to the 40-man roster before Opening Day because of a handshake agreement that was made this winter between Young and then-General Manager Jim Bowden.

Good for the Nats for honoring the "agreement", as bizarre and inexplicable as it may be.

See, I don't think it's "good for the Nats" to be honoring something that will be detrimental to the team. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but if I were brought in to replace Bowden and I heard of this "agreement" and Young clearly isn't ready/worth adding to the 40 man roster, I'd call him into the office and explain my view of reality to him. That would be that while we all love him as a person, he did not earn a spot on this team right now and the goal of this team is to win games, not make friends. My role as GM would be to put the best team on the field and if Young wasn't among those, so be it. It's a brutal side to the game but the game is a meritocracy and if Young hasn't earned a spot, he can bring it up with Bowden.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sheppard out for Opening Day

Sadly, the Voice of God won't be up to attending and calling the first game. It would incredible if he felt able to do it, but he's in his late 90's and it's just too difficult for him:

So the opener is out of the question? "He would love to be there; he would love it,'' [his wife] said. "But at the moment the stamina isn't there.''

Sheppard, who is in his late 90s and has been the Yankees' public address announcer since 1951, missed the entire 2008 season recovering from a bronchial infection.
Mary Sheppard said warmer mid-season weather might help ease her husband's return."
He's been through a lot,'' she said. "But there is no one particular problem. His weight is fine. And his voice is still excellent.''
I wish him well!

Some smart people lurking here

I'll admit it, I love StatCounter. For those unaware, it simply keeps track of the number of visitors (new and old) on a website. It records city, state, ISP, country, IP addresses. Mostly, it's just noise but I wanted to see who's been visiting here and it turns out, we have some smart people at some prestigious universities blowing off their schoolwork to hang here for a few. Some of the colleges who have been here in the last day:

  • Gettysburg College
  • Yale University
  • American University
  • Marquette University
  • Stanford University
  • University Of Notre Dame
  • State University Of New York At Buffalo
  • Ithaca College
  • George Mason University (hooray Cinderella!)
  • Brandeis University
  • Rutgers University
  • The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
  • University of Kentucky

Now get back to your studies!

Most unique team preview ever

Travis at Boy Of Summer spent a month putting together his Phillies preview. So why mention it here, on a Yanks-centric blog? Well, he took that month to write the whole thing in iambic pentameter. Seriously. Do the guy a favor and have a read; it's the least you could do!

He begins:

The Phillies won themselves a World Series,
Beat the Tampa Bay Rays with rel'tive ease!
A championship! And long-awaited!
City of Brotherly Love, elated!
But now they face a new season: Oh-Nine,
Their foes take aim, they'll have no easy time
Repeating as Darlings of October...
Will their season end before it's over?

Jeter being asked to move

Sorry, not what you might be thinking, but very interesting nonetheless:

The Yankees' lineup will have a new look this season.

Derek Jeter will be the leadoff hitter and Johnny Damon will bat second, a top of the lineup switch the Yankees will use for the rest of spring training.

Manager Joe Girardi said the reason for the switch is because the team likes how Damon has looked batting second in spring training games. As long as the Yankees like what they see over the final week of spring training games, the team will bring this lineup into the regular season.

The new look at the top of the batting order also is an indication that the Yankees will use Brett Gardner as their everyday centerfielder. Gardner figures to be the ninth hitter, and if Damon was batting leadoff opponents would likely bring a lefthanded specialist to face both hitters. Putting Jeter first splits the two lefthanded hitters.
I'm okay with it if it makes our team better," Damon said.
I think I like this move, though honestly, I am so accumstomed to seeing Damon up first followed by Jeter that it will take some getting used to. And I love Damon's quote. Clearly this is a guy who gets what the team concept is. I'm also excited with the idea of Gardner being in CF. We've lacked that major speed element for so long, it will be fun to see a guy like that in the lineup, even at the end of it.

Can we look at this as a harbinger of what might come in a year or two? I doubt it, but it sure is interesting.

CC gets the nod, twice

Big honors to the big man:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed on Thursday that Sabathia will not only start Opening Day on April 6 at Baltimore, but he is lined up to pitch the April 16 home opener at the new $1.5 billion facility.

I'm excited to be able to take the ball the first game of the season and to open up the Stadium," Sabathia said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Of course, if he gets lit up in Baltimore, he can prepare for the inevitable sh*tstorm that will await his home opener.

/end snark

This is why the Yanks went out and got him; he wants the ball in the big moments. We (Yanks fans) all need want him to succeed. I will now commence holding my breath.

Neyer: Keep Gardner

Gotta totally agree with Neyer here:

One, it's never made any sense for the Yankees to keep both Cabrera and Gardner on the 25-man roster. Gardner offers defense along with maybe the ability to reach base, while Cabrera offers little defense and just maybe the ability to hit for some power, someday. Gardner bats left-handed, while Cabrera's a switch-hitter who has (to this point) fared particularly poorly against left-handed pitchers.

Two, if you're going to get rid of one of them, Cabrera's probably the guy. At least Gardner's demonstrated that he can do
something (run and field) and might do something else (reach base). At this point, it's not clear that Cabrera can do anything. And I say that, having written -- just two or three years ago -- that by now Melky would be one of the 10 best center fielders in the majors (not one of my more brilliant predictions).

In other news, I remain open to being paid more

Headline: Yanks remain open to trading Melky

Yeah, and I remain open to being paid more, being 6'2" with 8% body fat, being able to throw 95 mph with my left hand and being able to hit a curveball 450'.

Caffiene, old school PED

Was pointed to a NY Times article today about the effects of caffiene and performance:

Caffeine, it turns out, actually works. And it is legal, one of the few performance enhancers that is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

So even as sports stars from baseball players to cyclists to sprinters are pilloried for using performance enhancing drugs, one of the best studied performance enhancers is fine for them or anyone else to use. And it is right there in a cup of coffee or a can of soda.
Starting as long ago as 1978, researchers have been publishing caffeine studies. And in study after study, they
concluded that caffeine actually does improve performance. In fact, some experts, like Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University in Canada, are just incredulous that anyone could even ask if caffeine has a performance effect.

There is so much data on this that it’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s just unequivocal that caffeine improves performance. It’s been shown in well-respected labs in multiple places around the world.”
Maybe that helps explain the "greenie"/coffee cocktails that were a staple in most lockerrooms for decades. "Leaded" vs. "Unleaded" as they were often referred to.

Remembering Richman

Yesterday I noted the passing of two figures from the Yanks' past, one of which was Arthur Richman. Most of you may not have any knowledge about Richman and his role within the Yanks organization for decades. Thankfully, we have Jack Curry to put Richman's stature and impact within its proper perspective:

The reason I know Harlond Clift was an All-Star is because Richman mentioned how he hung out with Clift while traveling with the St. Louis Browns as a child. The only time I met Stan Musial was when I was having dinner with Richman and he stopped at our table and hugged Richman. I secured a home phone number for Willie Mays because Richman gave it to me. The only president I met was George H.W. Bush. I saw Bush and a Secret Service agent walking through a hotel in Palm
Springs, Calif. When I mentioned that I knew Arthur, the 41st president stopped and talked for 10 minutes.

Richman, who was Jewish, was so well connected that he secured Jim Thome a papal blessing from Pope John Paul II as a wedding gift. As a Catholic, I told Richman how impressed I was with what he had done for Thome. So he asked me if I wanted a papal blessing, too.
It was noted yesterday that it was Richman who pushed hard for Torre as manager way back in 1996. Richman was also Joe DiMaggio's public handler, making sure that Joe's image, during and after his life, was well-taken care of.

Wallace Matthews has a nice tribute as well, discussing how incredible a relationship builder Richman was:
A typical exchange in his office would go something like this: "Arthur, it's George Bush on the phone."

"Which one?"

Of course, he knew them both.
And Don Larsen, who took his advice to stop drinking at midnight the night before he was to pitch Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Larsen threw a perfect game the next day, and a year later he asked Arthur to be his best man.

Joe DiMaggio, who trusted him enough to take him along to Westwood Memorial Cemetery for one of his late-night visits to Marilyn Monroe's grave.

The wall of his office at Yankee Stadium was covered in pictures. Arthur with the Pope, with
Ty Cobb, and with a kid who sold hot dogs.

"He was an incredible character, one of those people who if you made him up, nobody would believe such a person could exist," former Yankees PR man Rick Cerrone said. "He literally knew everybody, and everybody knew him."
He's another one of those guys who I never met but it sure would have been great to know. At least we can learn a little bit about him with some of these tributes.

Oh yeah, well Mom loves ME more

Still a silly sibling rivalry, the battle for the heart of New Yorkers:

Among the New Yorkers who expressed interest in big-league baseball, more than half - 56% - pledged alliance to the Bronx Bombers and only a third said they root for the Mets, a Quinnipiac poll found.

In a theoretical Subway Series, the Yanks are fan favorites, 55% to 42%, holding an edge in every borough but Queens, where the Amazin's play.
Let me ask: is ANYONE surprised?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Two deaths in the Yanks family

Sad day for the Yanks:

Johnny Blanchard, a Yankee from 1955-65, passed away today. He was 76.

Blanchard played in five World Series, helping the Yankees win two of them. He was an outfielder and catcher.

The Yankees also lost Arthur Richman, the team’s senior advisor of media relations. A colorful character who was around baseball nearly all his life, Richman was primarily a sports columnist who had close relationships with players like Joe DiMaggio and Don Larsen.

Richman also became close to George Steinbrenner and it was at his suggestion that the Yankees hired Joe Torre as manager.

Legislating the fun out of the experience

There are some great things about seeing a game in person: the fans, the noise, the greeness of the field, the eternal hope of catching a foul ball or home run ball, trying to move to a better seat, the hang time with your friends (or family), etc. The list is a long one.

Except the Yanks are trying to legislate the fun right out of the in-person experience. And frankly, all of this is really draining the excitement out of this new Stadium for me. The prices have been rightfully ripped. The seat selection process was butchered. All of this has sapped my enthusiasm. So when I read this, I am officially at my wits end with what the Yanks are doing to us, the fans (emphasis mine):

Field Level Food Court

The food court located near Section 126 on the Field Level offers guests a taste of New York with a variety of concessions, including Boar's Head deli sandwiches, Famous Famiglia pizza and Asian cuisine. Please note that only Field Level and Legends ticket holders have access to the Field Level.

We have mentioned before that one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to baseball games is roaming around the stadium and checking out all of the nooks and crannies of the ballpark. Never before have we been to a ballpark that does not let fans explore the concessions on an entire level of the Stadium. We have been to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Safeco Field in Seattle in the past few years and NONE of those stadiums have this policy.

To prevent us from using the facilities or making purchases on an entire level is really creating social stratification in the new Yankee Stadium that we are not comfortable with. This also means that the middle-class family coming to Yankee Stadium to see their heroes suit up in the pinstripes
will not be able to watch batting practice from the Field Level or try to procure autographs from their favorite players.

Batting Practice

Guests are welcome to watch batting practice from their seat location. Yankee Stadium gates will open at 10 a.m. for regular-season day games and 4 p.m. for regular-season night games. For Saturday Fox games during the regular season, gates will open at 1 p.m.

All of this is completely out of line with most other sporting venues where fans are encouraged to congregate close to the action during the pregame. We can only hope that the Yankees enforce the new A-Z guide as well as they did the old one, meaning hardly at all.
So if I bring my kids to the see batting practice, we have to stay in our seats, which will not be on the lower level, they can't move forward to try to land a ball or autograph? Thanks, Yanks, for very little positive fan experience.

Naturally, I blame Randy Levine.

Thanks to Jay at Fack Youk for first pointing this out. I wasn't going to riff on it but it was chafing the creases of my brain during lunch.

It's about the money, memorabilia edition

If it's there, it's for sale!

Seats, foul poles, dugouts, urinals and numerous other items from the old Yankee Stadium will be sold to fans as part of a $10 million deal between the Yankees and New York City, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
Seats from Shea Stadium, the Mets' ballpark that was demolished this offseason, sold for $869 a pair, leading to speculation that seats from the old Yankee Stadium may sell for a considerably higher figure.

The seats are where the money is, but in this economy, it's tough to put a value on sports collectibles," Mike Heffner of auction house Lelands.com told the Post.
I wouldn't mind having a pair of seats, but not sure if I want a urinal. Can't see that getting past the wife's veto. Then again, I don't have much room for a foul pole, either.

Another look at the Yanks farm system

Not a ranking, but a good preview of some of the higher-potential, upper-eschelon players the Yanks can look forward to seeing in pinstripes soon trading away for other teams over-priced players.

A sample:

Mark Melancon has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and he flew threw the minor league system while playing at three levels in 2008, including his final stop at Triple-A. At the senior level, Melancon allowed just 11 hits in 20 innings pitched. He also walked just four with 22 strikeouts. In total, the right-hander allowed 69 hits in 95 innings. Impressively, his strikeout rate rose during each promotion and topped out at 9.90 K/9 in Triple-A. Melancon, 23, is in a perfect position to help out in New York in 2009.

Arguably the Yankees’ best prospect, outfielder Austin Jackson is still raw in many facets of his game, but his tools and potential are undeniable. Only 22, he had a solid season in Double-A last year with a line of .285/.354/.419 with nine homers and 19 stolen bases in 520 at-bats. He also posted rates of 9.7 BB% and 21.7 K%. He didn’t run a lot last year and he also does not have a ton of home run power in his bat. That said, he is a solid all-around player who does a little bit of everything and plays above-average defense. Jackson could very be patrolling center field for the Yankees before the end of 2009.

Jesus Montero has the potential to be a monster offensive player in the big leagues. He’s only 19 and will be playing at High-A ball in 2009. Last season in A-ball, Montero hit .326/.376/.491 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI in 525 at-bats. He walked just 6.6% of the time and posted a strikeout rate of 15.8 K%, which is excellent for a young power hitter. Montero’s defense behind the plate has improved, but it’s still below average and there are not many people who think he’ll remain a catcher for longer. He could be in New York in 2010, especially if it’s at 1B, DH or LF.
Of course, A-Jax hit a grand slam against the Sox yesterday and promptly got returned to the minors.

Joel Sherman thinks you might be clinically insane

From The Post's own Joel Sherman, via his blog (as opposed to his column):

This is my rule: I try not to read the comments in the blog daily for several reasons, but mainly because I have several friends who do blogs and get lost in the nastiness and criticism of the postings of readers. I try to pick one day a week, usually Sunday, to try and read as many of the comments as possible finding that doing it with some distance and all at once tends to help me process the comments and separate the clinically insane from those making valid points. Really, sit back and read these comments some time and tell me what has happened to civil debate and just general decency. Anonymity plus anger is really some brew.
Awwww, he doesn't dig the criticism. That's the very nature of a blog, the gives and takes. Even if it gets nasty. Oftentimes, it gets nasty on a high-profile blog when the author has such disdain for the very readers who make his job possible. We, the readers, don't want to be ignored; we want to be heard.

My free advice: Joel, stop acting all high and mighty and jump into the pool with your readers. You might find that engaging them on a 1:1 basis goes a long way. Heck, you might even ENJOY it. Don't let your platform be a barrier. Some of us/them, while likely clinically insane, might have some good points to make, even if they are contrary to yours.


Of course, this gives me a reason to run the picture on the top-right, which has been gathering dust and lint in my back pocket for more than a year!

Baseball's coming soon!

Just ask Sal Fasano, who's already in mid-season form:

More breathless anticipation of Strasburg

The Strasburg Watch is fully manned and there are plenty of seats on the bandwagon. Just check the gushing comments from a NL scout:

The scary thing is he could develop a little more velocity in the next couple of years,” said a scout from a National League team. “He absolutely could be recognized as the fastest pitcher ever, at least since pitches have been clocked."
However, this article is not just a massive ego-stroke for Strasburg's brag book; there's a pretty good story about how he came into college unheralded and soft and turned himself into what he's quickly becomming.
Strasburg wasn’t always in such fast company. He’d been at San Diego State all of a week in 2006 and he was doubled over in the corner of the dugout, heaving and vomiting after a routine conditioning workout.

Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Famer and the Aztecs’ coach, shook his head. The sorry spectacle confirmed everything he feared about the freshman pitcher. Filter had convinced Gwynn to give a scholarship to Strasburg, a local kid nobody else wanted.

One thought kept coming back to Gwynn: How can somebody who throws so hard be so soft?

Sure, Strasburg could throw 91 mph, but he was a good 30 pounds overweight. He couldn’t run a few laps without getting sick. He didn’t know how to bench press. The school’s conditioning coach nicknamed him “Slothburg” and told him he ought to quit on the spot.

In addition, there's some comparison to other hard-throwing guys and the fates that befell them.
If Strasburg knows anything about Zumaya, Wohlers or Anderson, he doesn’t let on. If he realizes that none of them accomplished much more than a record reading on a radar gun, he doesn’t say. Zumaya is out again with another injury in a never-ending string. Wohlers lost his control and flamed out quickly. Anderson, the first pick in the 1997 draft, lost his velocity and career to a bum shoulder.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Schilling vs. Mussina

A random thought occured to me driving to work this AM: besides the big sluggers and PED-tainted players (Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Piazza, etc.) who will be either on the HOF ballot for the first time or remaining on the ballot, two well-respected pitchers will also make their debuts: Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. Their candidacy will be well debated from here on out.

Disclaimer: While I dabble in and thoroughly support advanced statistical analysis, I won't pretend I speak the language fluently. For the sake of this discussion, I won't delve into the HOF worthiness of Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris, or any other well-discussed pitchers. All data referenced herein comes from the incredible Baseball-Reference.com.

What I thought about was how the voters will look at these two accomplished pitchers.
  • How will they tell them apart?
  • Will Schilling's stellar post-season efforts outweigh Moose's longer and more consistent years and greater win totals?
  • Will each of their lack of milestone win totals preclude both of them, given there are pitchers with greater win totals still having to buy a ticket to enter the HOF?
  • Were they truly great or just very, very good?
  • Will their 'seemingly' PED-free career in a the "Steroids Era" help them or will they be caught up under the blanket of "presumed guilt until proven innocent"?
Let's compare these two horses side by side and see what the numbers begin to tell us. Remember, this is just the beginning of a discussion/debate, not the end. Just ammo in the war. {Sorry for the small data; that's the way it presents for some reason. Click on each to see a larger view!}

Some definitions about the HOF Monitoring stats:
Black Ink: Average HOFer ≈ 40
  • Pitching Statistics
    Four Points for wins, earned run average or strikeouts
    Three Points for innings pitched, win-loss percentage or saves
    Two Points for complete games, lowest walks per 9 innings or lowest hits per 9 innings
    One Point for appearances, starts or shutouts
Gray Ink: Average HOFer ≈ 185
  • Essentially the same as the Black-Ink above, but it counts appearances in the top ten of the league. For each appearance the values are below. As with the Black Ink, this method penalizes more recent players as they have 14-16 teams per league, while the older players had just 8. To get a point you must be in the top 10 in the league in that category.
  • Pitching Statistics
    Four Points for wins, earned run average or strikeouts
    Three Points for innings pitched, win-loss percentage or saves
    Two Points for complete games, lowest walks per 9 innings or lowest hits per 9 innings
    One Point for appearances, starts or shutouts
HOF Standards: Average HOFer ≈ 50
  • Pitching Statistics
    One point for each 10 wins over 100, limit 25.
    One point for each 20 games over .500, limit 10.
    For each of the following a minimum of 500 innings is required before these points are added.
    One point for each .013 of winning percentage above .500, limit 15.
    One point for each .20 of ERA below 4.00, limit 10.
    One point for each 200 strikeouts over 1000, limit 10.
    One point for each .30 of BB/9IP below 4.00, limit 10.
    One point for each .30 of H/9IP below 10.00, limit 10.
    One point for each 1000 innings above 1000, limit 5.
    One point for each 100 complete games above 200, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly
    One point for each 30 shutouts, limit 5. Changed from James's slightly
HOF Monitor: Likely HOFer > 100
  • Pitching Rules
    15 points for each season of 30 or more wins, 10 for 25 wins, 8 for 23 wins, 6 for 20 wins, 4 for 18 wins, and 2 for 15 wins.
    6 points for 300 strikeouts, 3 points for 250 SO, or 2 points for 200 or more strikeouts.
    2 points for each season with 14 or more wins and a .700 winning percentage.
    4 points for a sub-2.00 ERA, 1 point if under 3.00.
    7 points for 40 or more saves, 4 points for 30 or more, and 1 point for 20 or more.
    8 points for each MVP award, 5 for a Cy Young award, 3 for each AllStar Game, and 1 point for a Rookie of the Year award.
    1 point for a gold glove.
    1 point for each no-hitter. This is not currently included.
    2 points for leading the league in ERA, 1 for leading in games, wins, innings, W-L%, SO, SV or SHO. Half point for leading in CG.
    35 points for 300 or more wins, 25 for 275, 20 for 250, 15 for 225, 10 for 200, 8 for 174 and 5 for 150 wins.
    8 points for a career W-L% over .625, 5 points for over .600, 3 points for over .575, and 1 point for over .525, min. 190 decisions.
    10 points for a career ERA under 3.00, min 190 decisions.
    20 points for 300 career saves and 10 points for 200 career saves.
    30 points for 1000 career games, 20 for 850 games and 10 for 700 games.
    20 points for more than 4,000 strikeouts, and 10 for 3,000 SO.
    2 points for each WS start, 1 point for each relief appearance, and 2 for a win.
    1 point for each LCS or LDS win.

Excerpt: The Rocket That Fell To Earth

Jeff Pearlman posted on Yahoo! an exerpt from his book that was released today. There's a lot to read there, but here's a snippet:

Before long, Roger came to lack this perspective, too. Although [older brother]Randy was no longer living at home, having graduated from high school in 1971 and accepted a basketball scholarship to Division III Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana, his influence on his brother remained profound. As he advanced from elementary school to junior high to high school, Roger turned increasingly combative. Though he was still a chunky kid through his early teens, on the courts and fields Roger carried himself like a scowling, trash-talking 20-game winner.

He even promised those around him that one day he would start the All-Star Game, win the final game of the World Series and wind up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In football, he was a stout defensive and offensive lineman. In basketball, he was a physical power forward and center. And in baseball, he was a gap-hitting third baseman and a soft-tossing control artist.

Yes, Roger Clemens was a soft-tossing control artist. Though Roger was usually one of the better pitchers in the various leagues in which he participated, intimidation was not his game.
For my interview with Pearlman on this subject, please click here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pearlman on MLB on XM right now

Jeff Pearlman is on MLB on XM radio right now talking about his book. Listening now...

  • I know someone from XM visited my site earlier today (thank you, StatCounter) and their first question was almost verbatim my first question! Sneaky, XM, sneaky, but I am onto you.
  • Second question was essentially my "what surprised you the most" question.
  • Fourth was the "famed workouts" question.
  • Fifth was about Piazza and his PED usage and why Pearlman decided to "go down that road". Joel Sherman is clearly enjoying the dulcet tones of his own voice, implying that Piazza wouldn't have gotten as many HOF votes as we might have otherwise thought due to the quiet whispers that surround him.

Yankee Stadium debuts new dining options

Let's face it: Dining at the "old" Yankee Stadium pretty much sucked. A dog and a beer, fine. After that, all bets off. Any semblance of a sandwich/burger/chicken-esque product was simply gawd-awful. For me, there was a deli just up 161st past River (past the Chase Bank and pizza joint) that made some incredible sandwiches. I'd grab a huge hot chicken teriyaki sub for about $5-$6 and head in with some real eats and be thrilled. They even had clear plastic bags to help you get thru security easier.

Now, with the Yanks new self-owned Legends Hospitality business, we're going to see quite a few changes in TNYS (in addition to their old stand-bys):

Stadium Debuts:

  • Boar's Head made-to-order deli sandwich stand, including soups and salads
  • Brother Jimmy's BBQ
  • Dunkin' Donuts Coffee
  • Highlanders traditional ballpark food with a New York flair, including hot dogs with sauerkraut and "pushcart" onions
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Lobel's of New York
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Otis Spunkmeyer
  • Pepsi Cola Products, including Lipton Iced Tea, Tropicana Lemonade and Gatorade
  • Tommy Bahama's Bar serving mixed drinks
  • Turkey Hill Ice Cream
New Cuisine:

  • Garlic Fries stand, a staple of West Coast ballparks
  • Latin Corner, serving hot-pressed Cuban sandwiches, nachos and burritos
  • Noodle Bowls stand with other Asian-inspired items
  • Soy Kitchen sushi and salads
  • Triple Play Grill, offering beef and chicken sliders, and Lobel's steak sandwiches
Healthy Alternatives and Specialty Items:
  • Melissa's, a traditional farmers market, carrying fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Various Glatt Kosher options
Child-Friendly Options
  • The Big Apple stand, offering candy, caramel and chocolate-dipped apples
  • Dale and Thomas popcorn stand
  • Kids Cart with school-lunch favorites and smaller-portion items, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, small hot dogs and Kozy Shack Pudding
Personally speaking, I am thrilled that Bro Jimmy's will be there. Their "burnt ends" sandwich is awesome. Of course, it will probably cost $15 so I'll be back getting my gigantic chicken teriyaki hero outside anyways. I'll try to bribe some kid for their Kozy Shack Pudding too, because I sure do love me some pudding.

One other thing made me chuckle and the bold here is directly from the press release:
The Yankees continue to offer exceptional value on food and merchandise. They are offering a $3 hot dog, a $3 soft drink and a $6 beer. Traditional Stadium fare, such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, sausages and Cracker Jack, remain the same price as last season. New sizes of soda, many including a souvenir cup, are offered at a variety of prices. In addition, a Family Value Line of merchandise has been created with low-priced items, including pennants, Yankees T-shirts, key chains, and more.
Isn't "exceptional value" a bit much here?

As soon as I get to a game, I will be happy to fill out a first report. And if any of you get there before me, report in, please!

This might get my fan card revoked

This might get my Yanks fan card revoked: I agree with Jim Caple. There, I said it. (Two WBC posts in one day? Deal with it, please.)

Errors certainly are part of the game. These things happen. But the question is why was Jeter playing shortstop ahead of Jimmy Rollins in the first place?

Yes, I know. Jeter is a true Yankee, a future Hall of Famer, one of the game's most respected players and a proven winner who won a World Series as recently as the dawn of the century. And if your goal is to not hurt anyone's feelings, then you start him at short. But if your real goal is to reach the championship -- and isn't that supposed to be the point of playing in the WBC? -- then your starting shortstop is Rollins, the much superior fielder. You start Rollins at short and have Jeter DH, not the other way around.

I mean, that's what you do if you really care about winning.
It's not like the Yanks have a player of Rollins' caliber waiting to get some PT; they don't. But in this instance, with a superior defensive player in Rollins waiting to grab his glove, there's no reason that Jeter should be on the field at this point in the game/series. Jeter should have been DH-ing the whole game, or if you wanted to try something, put Jeter at 1B instead of DeRosa.

I loathe Caple as a "typical Yanks basher" who will write anything so long as it's anti-Yanks. Sure, ESPN has a huge audience who likes that sorta thing, but I find it lazy and hackneyed. But in this case, he's spot on.

Ken Rosenthal notes today that there are two prospects emerging in the Yanks farm system that could eventually take over when Jeter abdicates his spot, no matter how ugly that's gonna be.
Just as the emergence of shortstop Elvis Andrus persuaded the Rangers to move Michael Young to third base, the rapid development of two young shortstops eventually might compel the Yankees to approach Derek Jeter about a change.

The issue could not be more sensitive — Jeter, who turns 35 on June 26, wants to continue playing short, and he will be a free agent at the end of the 2010 season.

Scouts, however, have been buzzing all spring about Ramiro Pena, 23, and Eduardo Nunez, 21, both of whom have received increased exposure with Jeter participating in the World Baseball Classic.

"They're two of the better young kids I've seen ... two legitimate core players for the future," one scout says. "They're not that far from being major-league ready — they have some tools and they know how to play."

Will they hit?

"Their offense will not keep them from playing — they have at least survivor skills with the bat," the scout says. "I enjoy watching them. They're exciting players. They bring a lot of energy."
"Survivor skills"? Nice backhanded compliment!

NYY: 5 things to look forward to

Thanks to Josh at Jorge Says No!, here are his top 5 things the Yanks can look forward to in 2009. You'll have to click thru to read his rationale.

  1. Joba in the rotation...finally
  2. What next for A-Rod?
  3. Brett Gardner
  4. A healthy Jorge Posada
  5. CC

I really have no idea what to expect with ARod this season. Not a freakin' clue. He could struggle with his hip and his incredible distractions all year. He could come back focused on the game and being a better teammate and have a typically huge year. Neither would surprise me. Silence, on the other hand, would.

And I am totally excited to see CC take the hill. And if Gardner can put a hammerlock on the CF gig, can he at least approximate what Ellsbury is in Boston? 10 HR power, 40 SB, solid BA/OBP, solid D. I think it's possible.

ShysterBall/FackYouk: Can you charge for content?

ShysterBall and FackYouk have a good discussion going today about the 'charging for content' dynamic as traditional print media continues to slide into the abyss. Craig's main point:

I fear that charging for content would lead to me getting a solid income stream of, like, $500 a month with everyone else abandoning me for freer content. And really, that would be the worst of both worlds: not enough money to live on, not enough eyes to feel like I'm contributing to the greater baseball conversation out there.
Worth looking at each link above. Then feel free to paypal me some cash.

WBC thought

I've been largely silent on the WBC for a number of reasons, including the lack of best US-born players competing. The USA squad lost to reigning champ Japan last night in the Semi's and at least on MLB on XM, there seems to be a bit of discussion on "how to fix the WBC". My 'deep thought' of the day is: "Why does the WBC need fixing"? Does it need to be fixed only because the US didn't win? What's the problem with the Japan (or Korean) team winning? Is it because their style is different than ours but seems to work well in a short format series?

Much is made about the timing and maybe the Latin American players have been playing Winter Ball and therefore more game ready and the teams from the Far East have been playing for a while already. Would moving the WBC to November help? I don't know but the constant "we have to fix the WBC" stuff simply smells of "it needs to be fixed because we're not winning".

Honestly, if the WBC simply dried up and went away, I'd be OK with that as much as I'd be OK with it continuing in its current incarnation. It's just an exhibition and while it'd be great if the US won it, I won't lose a wink of sleep over it. I was giddy watching the US come back against Puerto Rico last week but I didn't shed a tear losing to Japan.

The views on the WBC are mixed. I'll run a poll to the upper lefthand side of the site to gauge your thoughts. Vote early and often.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Movin' on to the Sweet 16


ARod dabbles with the oldest profession

Why not? Everyone with an ARod connection is coming out of the woodwork to heap the slop on this guy.

[Kristen] Davis told a friend the then-married Rodriguez asked her, "What are you doing tonight?"

The shapely madam didn't know who A-Rod was but found him "hot as hell," she told the friend. "
I said, 'I'm having dinner with my boyfriend. But if you're looking for someone to hang out with, here's a number.' I gave him my agency's card."

That night, Davis told a friend, Rodriguez booked a two-hour "date" with one of her girls, who met him at the Four Seasons on Rittenhouse Square.

He gave his real name," Davis told the friend. "The next day we found out who Alex Rodriguez was. The girl we sent freaked out. Her father (works for) another Major League Baseball team."
Here's the thing: Much like PED use, I don't put this sorta thing (cheating at every opportunity) past any professional athlete, not just baseball players. I just wish we didn't have to hear about it. Of course, I am being totally hypocritical by linking to it. I know I promised I'd ease up on the guy, but his stupidity is transcending, captivating, ethereal.

That said, there are two things that really made me laugh in that clipped text above:
  1. That ARod would give his OWN name. Is that due to vanity or stupidity?
  2. That his 'date' has a father working for a MLB club. {How hard to I have to pray that her last name is 'Lucchino'?}

Then there's this tidbit, which I find highly suspectible. No one, not even ARod is THIS dumb, right? RIGHT?!?
A source said A-Rod confided the pressures he felt as a player.

"He told her that he'd used steroids," the source claimed. "He said a lot of players did. He just wanted to be a good ballplayer."

Stubhub sellers: What is this thing you say, a Recession?

After reading Biz of Baseball's commentary about the highest priced Yanks tix at $2,625 and how over the top expensive they are compared to other MLB tickets, I sauntered over to Stubhub.com to see what some good Opening Day tickets would cost by comparison. Let's just say it this way: Stubhub sellers either have never heard of this thing called "a Recession" or are in the same denial that Yanks officials appear to be...

Maybe I am totally wrong. There are some fabulously weathly people in this world and many of them either live in this area or travel here frequently. While their fortunes might have been whacked by the market's downturn, half of a billion dollar fortune is still pretty darn wealthy.

Famous people, like actors and actresses, and not-as-famous-but-still-filthy-rich folks like AIG's bonus babies. THE place to been seen on April 16, 2009. I can see all of the Fox "plants" on TV now...

Wall Street titans still making ten digits a year.

Maybe someone will make me look foolish for questioning these prices and end up paying full asking price for these babies, but I'm betting we'll see some re-pricing as we get closer to Opening Day.

Did I mention I am looking for tickets? Anyone have a few cheapies that they can't use? Anyone with media connections? I am happy to write a 10k word story about my experience at the New Yankee Stadium, complete with pictures and other goodies if you can land me tickets.

If you got 'em, I want 'em.

Then again, it could just be The Greater Fool Theory in full effect!!!!
...the assumption that they will be able to sell it later to "a bigger fool"; in other words, buying something not because you believe that it is worth the price, but rather because you believe that you will be able to sell it to someone else for an even better price.

The "Manny Clause" is challenged

Remember that "Manny Clause" I discussed the other day? Well, it appears the lawyers for the MLBPA are now on the case:

The MLB Players' Association has filed a grievance on behalf of players who have a provision in their contracts under which they agree to make a donation through his club to a charitable organization, MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza told ESPN's Karl Ravech.
[Dodgers owner Frank] McCourt sounded surprised by the union's litigation.

"I have not seen the grievance, but I find it odd that in these challenging times, that we encounter a complaint against the idea of players giving back to the communities that support them," he said in a statement. "We believe there are qualities that represent the Dodger way. The player's contributions to the team, appreciation of the fans, and impact on such a supportive community all combine to help our organization live up to our core values. We seek players who embrace these values. The Ramirez provision is a blank line to be filled in with whatever number a player chooses."

Then again, it's not always about the money

Here's wishing Corey Koskie a long and symptom free life away from the game as he calls it quits due to continued post-concussion problems.

He took himself out of Thursday's spring training game against Seattle in the third inning. Koskie batted twice in the game and fielded a pair of grounders. But he said he began feeling ill after diving for another grounder.
Koskie said he made his decision to end the comeback bid after talking with the Cubs' medical and training staffs and with his own doctors. In the end, he said the risks didn't make the potential rewards worth trying a comeback.

"I wanted to get back out there," he said. "I wanted to play. It might have been a little too soon. I might not have been prepared. I kind of decided, I said, 'You know what? Really, is it worth it? Is it worth the risk to go out there and play a couple more years versus having the rest of my life, living a normal life?' That's one of the biggest questions with a concussion because you try to minimize your symptoms, and you always feel you can do it.

"I know I can go out there and do it. But there is a little more head risk. Is it from my neck? Is it from my head? Is it really worth the risk to go out there and find out?"
I discussed this topic back in February 2008 and it's a shame that these problems still persist for Corey. While I commend him for giving it another shot, it's much better to see him making a decision that will hopefully help him his whole life rather than put everything at risk for maybe another year or two in the game. I am sure he will have a role in the game down the road should he choose, be it in broadcasting, coaching, managing or opening some "training acadamy". I wish him well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Strasburg Watch

Looks like uber-prospect Steven Strasburg keeps humming along:

  • Yesterday: vs. BYU at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
  • His line: 7 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 15 strikeouts.
  • Result: No decision in 4-2 loss (left with 2-0 lead)
  • For the season: 4-0 record, 1.57 ERA, 34 1/3 innings, 21 hits, 7 runs, 6 earned runs, 7 walks, 74 strikeouts

This guy cannot be for real! More than 2 K's per IP? That's just silly, cartoon stuff.

Thanks to our own Ed Werder-like "Strasburg Correspondent", Dan in San Diego, for the tip.

UPDATE: Guess who Strasburg's agent is and guest what he's already floating out there (emphasis mine):

ESPN.com's Peter Gammons heard from some club officials that top amateur pitcher Stephen Strasburg and his agent, Scott Boras, could demand $50MM over six years if he's selected first overall by the Nationals in the June draft. If the Nationals pick Strasburg and seem unwilling to pay him as much as he wants, Boras could threaten to send the prospect to pitch in Japan for a year. If the Nats are scared off, the Mariners and Padres are next in line for Strasburg.
Seriously? This will create havoc and such an uproar, trying to get a college kid FREE AGENT dollars....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lackey: It's GONNA be about the money

Oh yeah, this is gonna be fun.

Lackey has made it clear from the day he arrived in camp that he is keenly aware of where the market for premium starting pitchers has gone, having studied intently the signings of CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million), A.J. Burnett (five years, $82.5 million) and Derek Lowe (four years, $60 million) over the winter.

Lackey considers himself a cut above Burnett -- and the numbers support that belief -- so it generally is believed he's seeking at least what Burnett drew from the Yankees.

Not that long ago I professed my love for and admiration of John Lackey. Some team is going to go hog wild for Lackey and give him a whopper of a contract. And it seems that it will be totally about the money, as it always is.

Projecting the Yanks' 2009 staff

SNY compiled three major sources who project all sorts of stuff like this and here are the Yanks' 2009 projections, including this preamble (you'll have to hit the link for the details):

Again, don't let the stats blind or bias you. Everyone who is serious about projecting players knows it's an inexact science. In their best years, the various systems struggle to project even 1/5 of the players to within 10-percent accuracy.
CC Sabathia: Shandler: 218 innings, 201 strikeouts, 3.02 ERA; James: 240/205/3.48; ZiPS: 223/204/3.07.

Andy Pettitte: Shandler: 194/149/3.99; James: 192/147/3.90; ZiPS: 195/138/4.43.

A.J. Burnett: Shandler: 183/186/3.89; James 224/218/3.62; ZiPS 179/170/3.97.

Chien-Ming Wang: Shandler: 189/101/3.92; James 200/92/3.70; ZiPS 149.3/71/3.92.

Joba Chamberlain: Shandler 199/236/3.12; James: Not projected; ZiPS: 131.3/129/3.77.

Ian Kennedy: Shandler: 123/103/4.11; James: Not projected; ZiPS: 128/94/4.57.

Phil Hughes: Shandler: 149/127/4.59;, James: 125/122/3.35; ZiPS: 59/42/4.27.

Mariano Rivera: Shandler: 73/67/2.73; James: 70/66/2.07; ZiPS: 67/65/2.28.

Damaso Marte: Shandler: 58/64/3.72; James 56/60/3.40; ZiPS: 53/62/3.58.

Edwar Ramirez: Shandler: 58/68/3.57; James: 53/74/3.38; ZiPS: 56/66/3.86.

(h/t to WasWatching.com)

The "Manny clause"

Believe it or not, it's NOT what you might THINK it is:

Players signing with the team will be required to donate a portion of their salary to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, team owner Frank McCourt said Thursday.

"Every future Dodger will be asked to fill in a blank line,'' he said in remarks to Town Hall Los Angeles. "They're making a lot of money, these players. We won't tell them how much to contribute, that wouldn't be right.''

Ramirez agreed to make a $1 million donation when he accepted a $45 million, two-year deal earlier this month to return to the NL West champions. He can void the second season of the deal and again become a free agent.

"He reacted extremely positively to a Manny clause,'' McCourt said. "He really liked it.''
Good stuff. I am obviously in favor of an organization taking a position with regards to both local and national charities. So long as the players are NOT being forced, but only "encouraged", even with a slightly twisted arm to do so. Better to twist an arm and get a donation than get nothing at all.

UPDATED: This is being nicely debated at ShysterBall's house, with most people against a team "forcing" players to make a donation. I understand and respect that, but teams are as much of a local trust/institution as they are a private enterprise and I don't think it's bad that ownership expects its employees to make a donation that will (hopefully) benefit localities. It's not like being forced/"encouraged" by your company to make a donation. I think the public nature of a professional ball club changes the dynamic.

Almost time for roll call

The very first night game I took my older son to came with something I was looking forward to, almost (but not quite) more than being there with him and his first night game: Section 39 bleacher seats. I'd been there once before, but it was ages ago, probably before the concept of Roll Call was put into effect. Naturally, I was excited, but also nervous to bring an impressionable 5 year old to the most raucous, bombastic, crazy area of the park. Was I nuts? Yeah, a bit, but it was awesome. My son somehow didn't pick up most of the profanity as he was too young to realize what he was hearing, unlike now, 4 years later.

Today, there's a fun introduction to "Bald Vinny", the Master of Ceremonies for the Bleacher Creatures that's certainly worth a read. Says Vinny (emphasis mine):

I have way too many favorite memories of the old place to list them. But I will say that I always loved just walking up the ramp and seeing the field. As you know, the area outside is all gray and brown and dark looking, then you walk in and the field is like a shining diamond. It always felt like a jewel to me. I’m sure the new place will be nice, but it’s just not the same. Some of my most memorable games were the Aaron Boone game, the 2001 World Series, Paulie’s last game in the Bronx, and David Well’s perfecto.
Right on, Vinny. I've always had that same view and the chill it delivered every time.

Interesting tidbit about their move to their new section, given all of the negative press about the seating process:
JB: The section numbers have changed in the new ballpark, so the bleacher creatures will no longer be known as “section 39.” Where can fans find the creatures in the new ballpark?

Vinny: Our group is moving to Section 203. It’s in the same place as 39, just has a new number. The Yanks actually did the right thing and helped our group with the transition, so most of us were able to stay together. One of the most important things about the bleachers was that there are no backs to the seats. That makes moving around a lot easier, and adds to the social aspect of our group. It encourages you to interact more with other fans than you would in the grandstands, and most of our group has been sitting near the same people for years. For our “core group” of creatures, the people we sit near have become an extension of our families and we are all happy we get to stay together.
Vinny added a nice comment/story via email that's also worth repeating:
If you could, please let your readers know that the guys in the bleachers really appreciate the support we get from Yankee fans all over the country. Every day I meet people who tell me they had the best time hanging with us, and that they would never sit anywhere else but the bleachers. That makes me feel awesome knowing that our little bit of lunacy helps create everlasting memories for baseball fans. You have no idea how humbling it is to meet a 45 year old guy from California who took his only vacation of the year to come sit with you and your crew at a game. It’s really amazing to me how it’s taken off, and we truly appreciate the support.

I left the Stadium with my son that night knowing that the negative press about the Creatures was overblown, that these people (men and women alike) were not the drunken louts that give some Yanks fans their bad name, but rather the most die-hard, knowledgable fans in the park. [I've found that the worst fans are the random guys who go to only a few games a season and choose to make it an excuse to booze it up, not the regulars who are there every game, every night.] They're loud, obnoxious, rough on the other team, rough on the other SECTIONS of the Stadium, but they are also the most fun. They put the fan in fanatic. It might not be the section you want to sit in with young kids every night, but if you are looking for the quintessential Yankee Stadium experience, go sit in the bleachers and be prepared to yell, scream, stand, and laugh the whole night.

Congrats to RAB, WasWatching, BronxBanter

Big, hearty congrats to the fine guys at River Ave. Blues for earning a big presence on the new YES website.

The new-look yesnetwork.com will feature three video highlights per game, up from two in the prior accord with MLBAM; a new design that resembles MLB.com and the Yankees.com team site; an extensive series of text and video blogs from both network personnel and outside sources such as the River Ave. Blues blog; and greatly expanded social-networking capabilities.
RAB has been a leader in fan blogs and this is a nice leap forward for them. The guys there have been very good to me, linking here on occasion, twice this week alone.

If you get a chance, drop by and wish them well.

In addition to RAB on YESnetwork.com, it seems that some of my other favorite blogs are gaining additional prominence on other sports networks site, including WasWatching and Alex Belth's Bronx Banter:
SNY, seeking to take on a more universally New York tone than some of its local competitors, also last fall added a second prominent Yankees-related blog, Bronx Banter, to its emerging blog network. The blog joins Yankees-themed WasWatching.com on the site.
Memo to all: I'm ready to join ya!

I know some blogs out there are ultra-competitive and like to cut down the others. Me, I am just happy that the dialogue and discourse continues to flourish and I am happy to see these blogs grow and succeed. Great work, all.

thanks to Pete Toms for the heads up