Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not sure whether to laugh or cry

By now, due to my late start, you've heard everything about the new ARod allegations. It's ugly, no matter if it's true or not. Some of the lowlights:

  • Alex Rodriguez may have bulked up with steroids as early as high school - and was suspected of juicing while playing for the Yankees
  • ...fellow Bombers nicknamed the third baseman "B---h T--s" in 2005.
  • unnamed major-leaguer is quoted as saying Rodriguez and steroid-tainted pitcher Kevin Brown were seen together with human growth hormone - HGH - in 2004
  • ...Rodriguez's long relationship with Angel Presinal, a Dominican trainer banned from clubhouses after a steroid incident in 2001
  • Jose Canseco, an ex-teammate and friend of Rodriguez who accused him of steroid abuse even before last year, believes A-Rod was on 'roids in pinstripes.

    I absolutely think Alex is using HGH," he said. "Probably a combination of growth and steroids."

    Canseco said he believes Rodriguez's steroid use goes back to his teens, when he was a high school standout in Miami.

    Was he on steroids in high school?" he said. "I think probably so. I worked out with him when he was 18. He could lift almost as much as I could."
  • Rodriguez put on 25 pounds of muscle between his sophomore and junior years, and word was that his connection was a dog kennel owner.
  • The 255-page book also chronicles A-Rod's off-the-field escapades: his poker habit; his divorce from his wife, Cynthia; the relationship with Madonna, and dalliances with out-of-town floozies.
  • He was even hated at Hooters, where he tipped the minimum 15%

OK, the nickname is absolutely hilarious, in a mocking way of a teammate. From A-Fraud to B*tch T*ts... incredible that he continued to act the same way. Way to miss the hints!

Just think: Another 8+ years of ARod fun.

Hank shoulda let him walk when he had the chance.

If you want a really solid view of this, particularly regarding Selena Roberts, click here for Shysterball's take.

A lost morning

A visit to the dentist has thrown my morning into the blender. I'll be back later....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Comment of the day

One of the best parts of doing this is getting to hear/read others thoughts and opinions, even as they may vary from mine. Sometimes you guys are glib, othertimes angry and serious. Then, there are moments of beautiful clarity, like this amazing comment from loyal reader ditmars1929:

Stupid, f*cking, greedy bastards.

I have a degree in business. I can sum up what I learned thusly:

Consumer Behavior: Understand who your target audience is, what their expectations are, and expand upon that to understand your core consumer.

Marketing: Don't piss off your target audience. If it weren't for them, you would not be in business. It's not all about you, it's a two-way street.

Finance/Accounting: Always make a profit, but make a wise profit. Don't over-reach and screw yourself long term or alienate said target audience that is your bread and butter just to line your own fat wallet.

Management: Make sure you don't hire idiots who don't understand the above to run your business. Hello, Randy Levine.

But even better advice comes from my sister, Marian, who is a real estate agent, which is this: "
If the house isn't f*cked up to begin with, then don't move for a perceived upgrade."
That was awesome.

The Ivory Tower heard our calls!

Lo and behold, those perched in the Yanks Ivory Tower has heard our cries... well, not MY cries since I'm not spending half of too much anyways, but they have at least offered the olive branch to the rich folk and those too embarrassed to use their already paid-for tickets:

This from Hal Steinbrenner via the Yankees:

A few weeks ago I indicated that in light of the economy we would review the pricing of a small number of our premium locations at Yankee Stadium; specifically, our Suite Seats. I mentioned a small number of locations because in excess of 3.4 million seats, including 37,000 full season equivalents as well as approximately 85% of all our premium locations have already been sold. Yet, there are a few hundred Suite Seats in our premium locations that have not been sold on a full season basis. As a result, and for many of our fans who have already purchased full season Suite Seats in such premium locations, the Yankees are announcing today a program that adjusts certain prices and benefits affecting such Suite Seats.”

There's a lot of info at the link above, but what seems most evident is that in lieu of refunds, they are offering additional seats. The main exception being those who bought the infamous ridiculously priced $2500 seats and those right behind them in the $1000 seats.

From a business perspective, this is an interesting (and smart) approach. The team doesn't have to give back much money and it almost ensures that more and more seats will be filled. The Stadium will look more crowded, concessions and parking will perk up, and there should be a limited negative cash flow impact due to the limited refunds being offered.

For the ticketholders, I'm not sure how they should feel. I'm guessing that the extra seat for a family purchase might not be something they want or need, but the discount would be better felt/appreciated in their wallet. Some, however, who use these tickets for business entertainment purposes, might embrace the idea of an extra ticket to lavish upon customers/clients.

The refund option for the priciest seats might be a nice "face saving" choice for the corporates and Wall Streeters.

No matter what, it's wonderful that the team heard the cries and actually did something. I am guessing they had to have Randy Levine chained to a boiler with a bandana around his mouth until this hit the press. I could see him treating his office much like Paulie O'Neill used to treat a water cooler after a pop-up to first base.

MLB Notebook: The Life and Times of a Baseball Blogger

A good FOTB Zach Sanders of MLB Notebook had a good idea: Interview a bunch of bloggers to give you an idea what it's like and what's required to be an active blogger. Zach was kind enough to ask me my thoughts on a few topics, so I will put my quotes below, but I'd strongly recommend a visit to his site for the whole read.

on Breaking News
"I wouldn't call it pressure, but I think being timely is important. Otherwise, you get lost in the crush. Not to mention, if you have a good quick summary before others, there's some measure of making your claim first that appeals to me," says Jason Rosenberg of It Is About The Money, Stupid, a blog devoted to all things baseball. "I don't want to post something that someone might read and think that I merely repackaged someone else's opinion."

on Attracting Readers
"I'm not a self-promoter by nature, so I have to try to fight against that nature. I started by being active in the comments of blogs that I frequented, testing my arguments, logic, etc," said Rosenberg. "I also tried to befriend bloggers, gaining a level of dialogue "off site". Whenever I create something that I know is better than a regular, derivative posting, I will send it to fellow bloggers for their review. If they like it, they can link to it, but I don't ever like to ask someone to link to something I write."
There are some very interesting takes from some talented bloggers and I was honored to be included.

Thanks, Zach!

Phil Hughes, lookin' sharp

I don't do daily game recaps; you can get them everywhere else. Not to mention, I don't get to watch every inning of every game.

But, I did watch much of the game last night and wow did Phil Hughes look sharp. I'll try to temper my enthusiasm as I'd be beyond excited to see one of our own emerge again. It was a long time between Pettitte to Wang and Joba and the expectations have hounded Hughes for years. It's hard to remember that Hughes is just 23 years old.

Phil Hughes wasn’t just good tonight, he was great. Six scoreless innings, two hits, two walks, six strikeouts. He threw 59 of 99 pitches for strikes and never cracked in a scoreless duel with Edwin Jackson.

If you were watching closely, Hughes had to fight to get command of his curveball. It was all over the place in the first few innings, even when he threw it for strikes. When he struck out Placido Polanco in the first inning, it was on a curve that wasn’t where he wanted it.
I saw that curve and Polanco's knees buckled. I thought that pitch was perfect, but what do I know?

Here's to hoping Hughes develops into everything we want him to be. Of course, that will only mean that the cries to "move Joba back to the pen" will get louder.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So, you're not exactly feelin' it, eh?

Pete Abe, our LoHud of the Rings beat writer, has some pretty honest opinions about this Yanks team:

But bringing back a 33-year-old former steroids user with a bad hip isn’t going to solve the problem of the Yankees looking like a company softball team at times. When you see Jacoby Ellsbury steal home or Curtis Granderson lay down a perfect bunt to start a rally, it’s a reminder of how old and slow the Yankees can look.

This team has good pitching and over time, that pitching will produce. Even the bullpen. But already we’re seeing sore knees (Hideki Matsui), sore shoulders (Johnny Damon) and Jorge Posada running down to first base like he’s pulling U-Haul trailer behind him. Derek Jeter let a groundball up the middle score a run today. By now you’re used to that.

Their “young and athletic” guys are Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera. Cano is 13 of 27 on stolen bases in his career and Melky was benched last summer.

Other teams can make things happen at the plate or in the field. The Yankees seem to have no choice but to wait and hope something does. Their roster is so top heavy with aging and expensive players that an injury or two throws everything off.
Yeah, so that's not good, right?

Tuesday lunchtime video fun

It's remarkably captivating and I was unable to turn away. Some people really do have too much time on their hands:

Thanks Hot Clicks.

Admiring the comedic genius of MLB contracts, part III

Got a very brief window due to a delayed meeting this morning, so I flipped open my handy reference for MLB contracts signed this past off-season. I love the ways teams and player representatives get creative for incentives, particularly with oft-injured players.

Today, I present: Mike Hampton, Houston Astros

  • Signed: 12/3/08.
  • Base salary: $2,000,000
  • Plus: $100,000 for 12gs;
  • $100,000 for 14gs;
  • $100,000 for 16gs;
  • $100,000 for 18gs;
  • $100,000 for 20gs;
  • $100,000 for 22gs;
  • $100,000 for 24gs;
  • $100,000 for 26gs;
  • $100,000 for 28gs;
  • $100,000 for 30gs;
  • $100,000 for 100ip;
  • $100,000 for 110ip;
  • $100,000 for 120ip;
  • $100,000 for 130ip;
  • $100,000 for 140ip;
  • $100,000 for 150ip;
  • $100,000 for 160ip;
  • $100,000 for 170ip;
  • $100,000 for 180ip;
  • $100,000 for 190ip.
  • Plus: $250,000 for All Star;
  • $1,000,000 for Cy Young ($250,000-2nd; $100,000-3rd);
  • $250,000 for Comeback Player of the Year;
  • $500,000 for WS/MVP;
  • $250,000 for LCS/MVP;
  • $100,000 for Gold Glove;
  • $100,000 for Silver Slugger
Interesting that Hampton will effectively receive $50k for each start he makes after his first twelve, plus $50k for each 5 innings after the first 100. Of course, to get to 100 IP in 12 games, he has to average 8.1IP/game, which we know ain't happenin'.

For you guys: How many/much of these potential incentives will Hampton earn this year? Place your bets in the comments below. Winner at year's end gets to brag....assuming we can remember that we actually did this.

"Find me a ninja, for one"

I'm not a Twitterer, yet. I don't really have much desire to become one and frankly, if anyone really has an interest in following what I'm doing, I'd suggest going outside and getting some fresh air. There has GOTTA be something better out there than following me... it's not the glamorous life you are all imagining.

That said, Brian Wilson (Giants closer) was Twittering Saturday night around 1am and subsequently blew the save (and I had Cain's win all but in my score, damn him). There's been some fall-out as a result:

He posted some twitterings late Saturday night in which he said (paraphrasing from memory) “Scottsdale is fun but overaggressive males are not,” leaving the impression he was out on the town potentially getting into fights past 1 a.m. The Giants played a day game Sunday and Wilson blew a three-run lead in a 5-4 loss. A reporter blogged about it Sunday night, but didn’t accuse Wilson of anything. Wilson tweeted back, saying he was eating room service hamburgers. Later today, Wilson deleted all of his tweets prior to Sunday morning.
Wilson's response to Baggerly's question about Saturday night and the tweets:
“This Twitter crap, I’ve obviously got to stop because people are taking it too serious. My aspect of that is I write a bunch of stuff that’s not true. It’s made up. Obviously I’m not doing things like going toe-to-toe with a ninja. Find me a ninja, for one.

“Obviously, it’s my fault for making up a bunch of stuff but I know for a fact most of those followers know I’m not being serious. They just like hearing funny stuff. Some people don’t understand, but I’m not an idiot, so obviously, I’ve got to stop.”
"Find me a ninja, for one."

Too bad, since it's clear that athletes Twittering while out late at night can only result in some wonderful unintentional comedy.

A good Q&A with Tyler Kepner

For those in tune with Yanks' beat writers, one of the best ones (who's not just looking to make noise with his own BS) is Tyler Kepner. Fellow blogger Steve Lombardi at was good enough to land some time with Kepner. A good example of the exchange:

Tyler Kepner: I actually think the Yankees’ bullpen won’t be too bad. I like the way Girardi handles the guys, the way he really gives himself a chance to see who can pitch and who can’t. And when injuries arise, like this elbow issue with Bruney, we’ll learn something about Robertson and Melancon. I think they’ll be vital pieces as the year goes. As for disappointments, that’s tough. I suppose you could say that given Sabathia’s salary and the inevitable comparisons to Santana, he’s got a really tough standard to reach. From what we’ve seen so far — a startling lack of fastball command — he might qualify as a disappointment, though it’s very early. My question is, what would be considered successful for a pitcher making $23 million a year? If he wins 15 games and has a 3.50 ERA, is that a disappointment for the money? I guess it would be.

WW: True, $23 million for 15 wins would be an interesting scenario in terms of the fan reaction. If I recall correctly, the Red Sox have a policy that says you should only pay $1 million per expected win from a starter. And, there’s no way that CC is going to win 23 games this season. Since you’ve brought up Girardi, I have to ask: If the Yankees win less than 90 games this season and do not make the post-season, do you think General Joe will he return to manage New York in 2010? Why?

Tyler Kepner: My guess is he’d still come back. The Yankees always take measures to shake things up in a very obvious way each off-season. The way to do that next year will be to bolster the offense with Matsui, Damon and Nady all leaving. If Matt Holliday has a great year in Oakland, chances are they’ll sign him to a monster deal, sign someone else (plus maybe a pitcher) and feel as if they’ve fixed everything. To fire Girardi, someone would have to be really motivated to get rid of him, and I don’t see who that would be. Hal Steinbrenner runs the team, and he’s not rash and impulsive the way George was. My guess is Hal would defer to Cashman, who is signed through 2011, and I doubt Cashman would blame Girardi if the team doesn’t win. That’s not the way Cashman thinks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Totally, waaay off-topic: Of all dumb things to do

Having the FAA and the presidential airlift group conduct an aerial photo mission over Manhattan, complete with an F16 in tow, is about as dumb, thoughtless, irrational, idiotic, and insensitive a thing as I have heard in quite some time. Not alerting the public in advance pushes that stupidity to unprecedented levels.

John Leitner, a floor trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange Building, said about 1,000 people "went into a total panic" and ran out of the building around 10 a.m. after seeing the planes whiz by their building, near the World Trade Center site.
Sen. Charles Schumer blasted the FAA for the lack of warning.

"This was a photo shoot. There was no need for surprise," Schumer said. "There was no need to scare thousands of New Yorkers who still have the vivid memory of 9/11."

Louis Caldera, who heads the White House Military Office, issued a statement apologizing. "I approved a mission over New York," he said. "While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."
Gee, ya think, numbnuts?

Sorry, I'm just hyper-sensitive to stuff like this, having been in NYC on 9/11.

So which is it: throw MORE or LESS?

At this point, I am not sure what's the best way to build long term arm strength for pitchers. Is it throw more, like Tommy John, Leo Mazzone and Nolan Ryan espouse, or is it throw less, as clearly the Yanks' BP coach (and Little League coaches from coast to coast) preach?

Well, score one for the Yanks' BP coach, this time:

Brian Bruney returned to Boston but is on the DL after being diagnosed with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. "I don't feel like it's a serious, serious injury," he said.

Bruney said he plans to revise his routine between games and throw less. He said bullpen coach Mike Harkey has encouraged him to throw less in the past, but he did not listen. Bruney called the injury his own fault.
I'm generally from the school that would preach usage vs. rest, that you can't run a marathon by training in one mile sprints. You need to train your arm and body to handle the stress and strain of throwing and you can only do that by throwing. Not soft-tossing, but throwing from the bump and long tossing in the OF.

At least that's what I think I think.

Where's the "desperation to win"?

I'm slowly slogging through the Verducci/Torre book for three reasons:

  1. I'm a slow reader
  2. I try to watch the games at night and that takes me away from reading
  3. I'm finding the book depressing
One of the early chapters is called "a desperation to win" and in reading that last weekend, I was struck by the obviousness of it all, now, a decade later. It's precisely what I don't sense with the post-2000 teams. Verducci, in his interview with FOTB Alex Belth:

I think the teams that won generated that same kind of pressure internally, what the book calls "a desperation to win." It was internal for most of the players, and even for Steinbrenner, who I regard in the book as one of the franchise's most dynamic assets. It's very different when that pressure comes externally, especially now when you're talking about so many current Yankees who have no experience at winning in New York. They're reading the road map for the first time, and it's hard to figure out -- unlike anywhere else -- especially when you hear the constant drumbeat of frustration coming from fans and even the media that cover the team. The Yankees are the only one of 30 teams that write down as a failure any season that ends without a world championship. Individual stats don't matter with the Yankees. Putting up a "good season" means less with the Yankees than any other franchise. There are only two seasons for the Yankees: world championship ones and everything else.
I watched Mo blow the save Friday night and as painful as it was, I said "it happens". The Sox have seen this guy so many times, they have gotten used to his cutter and his skill. Just like we can solve Papelbon at times, so too can the Sox solve Mo. It happens. It hurts like hell but it happens. Of course, having bases loaded and coming away with nothing an inning earlier didn't help. And watching Teix chase the high heat of Papelbon with a man on first and third the next inning sure did stink.

Here's what bugged me: Saturday's game. I didn't watch much of this until the very end as I was out enjoying the nice weather and my sons' games. It was only when we got to our friends' house for a BBQ later that I watched the Yanks blow and re-blow the game. I thought I was noticing that desperation to win with the comebacks, but the pitching was just terrible. I'm glad I missed Burnett getting torched. Remember those fancy stats vs. Boston that I was so happy about:
Versus BOS:
  • 8 games
  • ERA: 2.56
  • 56.1 IP, avg 7+ IP/start
  • 53 K's, nearly 1 K/IP
  • WHIP of 1.179 (including IBB)
Watching Ellsbury just totally pants the Yanks made this lack of "desperation to win" so evident. Or maybe it's just that the Sox have that desperation and I'm jealous because I know what it's like to have it and how utterly wonderful it is, as a fan, to root for a team with that dynamic.
For the Yankees, it was symbolic of a weekend in which they were beaten in the cruelest of ways, three losses that leave you wondering if they are as tough as the Red Sox anymore. Is it possible that years of first-round playoff exits and then an empty October in 2008 have stolen whatever grit remained from the Joe Torre glory years?
The Yanks have played 18 games to a .500 record. It's not a statistically significant number yet, but it sure gives us a pretty good view of what this team might be.... good, but not special. One of the things I remember from my early stats classes is that you need a sample size of about 30 before you can made conclusions from the data. We'll be there right about when ARod returns.

I'm not ready to heave Girardi over the edge either just yet, but if this team continues to wander in a fog, I might lose patience sooner than later.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Levine's got a firm grasp of perspective

Imagine this: Randy Levine, my favorite Yanks front office official, lashing out about the empty seats at Yankee Stadium. Shocking, I know.

A day after the Major League Soccer commissioner raised the subject, New York Yankees president Randy Levine blasted back.

"Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke," Levine said Friday. "We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.

"Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league," he said.
Way to go, Randy. Why not call his wife fat and his kids ugly and dumb? Have you no sense of perspective?
Told of Levine's comments, Garber explained his remark.

"When I mentioned the New York Yankees yesterday, my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses -- even the most successful sports entities -- are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn," Garber said through a league spokesman.

"The Yankees are one of the world's strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing," he said.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What if: ARod landed with Boston

I love little fantasies like this: What if the ARod trade to the Sox really happened? Well naturally, if it's written by a Boston writer, ARod becomes a hero and beloved, clutch when it counts.

The Yankees, blindsided by the season-ending knee injury third baseman Aaron Boone suffered while playing basketball in his driveway, never recovered. The Red Sox, their offense scoring over 1,000 runs, won the division going away, then ran the table in the postseason, winning their first World Series in 86 years. A-Rod was named MVP. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, appalled that his team had missed out on both Schilling and A-Rod, fired GM Brian Cashman, who could have had Schilling but didn't want to trade Nick Johnson.
It came as a shock this spring when Selena Roberts reported that A-Rod had used steroids while in Texas, but after the press conference in which A-Rod tearfully spoke of how sorry he was and vowed that for every home run he would hit, he would make a donation to the Taylor Hooton fund, Red Sox fans gave him a standing ovation on opening day.
Back to reality!

Though, there is a really good T/F "quiz" at the bottom of this article that is pretty cool, such as:
  • Alex Rodriguez was willing to send cash back to Texas owner Tom Hicks to make the deal to the Red Sox happen.

    True. But good luck ever getting anyone to admit it.

What ever happened to: Peter Gammons

I still like Sir Petey, even with his notorious Sox bent. Now, I don't listen to ESPN as much as I used to and I tend to find myself enjoying the MLB Network more than BBTN lately, so maybe he's still as present as ever... but his last article was 3 weeks ago. Three weeks. In otherwords, before the season even started.

What's going on? Did I miss something?

Finally, the cry to ban maple bats is getting louder

I've been ranting about this for some time now, insisting that MLB ban the use of maple bats until they have a reasonable solution. Good to read that there are others in the MSM who are joining the charge:

It’s no mystery why so many bats are splintering on contact: Some 55 percent of players prefer maple bats popularized by Barry Bonds. Maple bats tend to snap when broken. A broken bat made of ash, on the other hand, usually cracks.

The distinction is important. A snapped maple bat can deposit debris that travels as far as 100 feet, in any direction. A cracked ash bat almost always remains in one piece.

Although research at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has proven that maple provides no extra power, old habits – unlike maple bats – are hard to break. So those players who prefer maple will continue to use maple. It’s legal, isn’t it?
The author, John McGrath proposes an interesting alternative to a flat-out ban on maple:
Here’s a better idea: Allow hitters the freedom to swing a maple bat, with handles as thin as they want. But if the bat snaps and any piece of it lands on the field, the hitter is ruled out on batter’s interference.
Creative. Not sure how I feel about it, but I sure like hearing some alternatives.

Other related posts on this bat issue:

Panic envelops the Mets

Of course it's still incredibly early in the season (not yet 10% of the way thru), but it's always fun to see which team panics first. Aside from Boston being in a 2-10 hole, watching the Mets and their ever-pessimistic fans gag first is just damn fun stuff.

A team insider later elaborated that no one, aside from Johan Santana, has immunity. Translation: Perez or Pelfrey, who can be optioned to the minors without passing through waivers, could be ticketed for the minors, while Livan Hernandez's standing as fifth starter could be on shaky ground. Perez would have to consent to a minor-league assignment, like Steve Trachsel did in 2001, since he has more than five years of major-league service time. Maine, who is 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA, is out of minor-league options and needs to stay on the roster, but - like Perez and Pelfrey - could be sent to the pen.
This is the same Mets team who lavished a nice multi-year deal on the same Ollie Perez... the same Ollie Perez who has NEVER, EVER lived up to his hype, expectations and raw talents. Three years, $36m for Perez. Good luck with that, Mets fans. I am sure he'll get his stuff together... in the last 3 months of the 3rd year of the deal.

And Livan? Did ANYONE think that would, you know, actually work out well? Even the most bullish of Mets fans (and by 'bullish' I mean 'not fatalistic') were down on Livan. At least he eat innings, right? Yesterday: 7 runs in 4.1 IP. Eat that. Naturally, everyone with a microphone and a radio show is talking about bringing Pedro back to the Mets. Yee-haw. I can't wait for that one.

Of course, once Pedro signs with someone else, he'll actually be good, but on the Mets, the funk would simply envelop him as it has with everyone else.

At least the Mets can gaze longingly at Johan. He's pretty amazing.

When "very good" isn't good enough

Commish Selig tries to make a fair point about the Yanks (and Mets) seating "issues":

"They're off to a very good attendance start. One team is averaging 44,000 -- the Yankees are at 44 -- and the Metsies are averaging 37,000," he said. "So it would be hard if I went to Pittsburgh or somewhere today and tell them, gee, you know, those two New York clubs are really struggling."
In a vacuum, 44K fans on average is indeed very good. Some teams would KILL for that sorta attendance number. Hell, Fenway doesn't even hold that many (max capacity: 37.4k). Except this is a brand new stadium in New York, capable of holding 52,325 easy-going, mild-mannered fans. Not packing the Stadium more than 84% is flat out embarrassing. A shame. This tribute to excess should be sold out. Given the demand for seats last year, the last season in the Old Stadium, this season appears to be a sharp contrast.

Now, most of those empty, hyper-expensive seats have been paid for. Not all, but most. So the empties will only really impact the Yanks in terms of lost concessions and parking revenues. The unsold seats, on the other hand, will sting a bit more.

I don't think this is a "house of cards" scenario, where a big decline in gate revenues will hurt the team's ability to pay for the on-field talent resulting in a major collapse. After all, this recession/depression will, at some point, be behind us. And then, the big-wigs and movers-and-shakers will back, clamoring to be seen up front. Fox will stuff those seats with "stars" they want to promote who have no business otherwise being there. Politicians will wear the interlocking NY to curry favor. All will be right in the Yanks world.

And Randy Levine will be somewhere in the park, likely in the deep recesses sitting in a huge leather chair with a dozen monitors at his fingertips, rubbing his hands with an evil grin, chortling under his breath "I told you so, you mindless sheep. I told you everyone would be back". Bwaaaaa-haaaa-haaaaa!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dontchya just love stuff like this?

I can't imagine what this kid must have felt like, only to get in the game wearing someone else's jersey!

The strangeness of the day began at 12:45 p.m. ET, when O'Day was at home in Panama City Beach, Fla., and got a call from his agent, who said the Rangers had claimed him on waivers and were calling him up to the big league roster. O'Day had just been designated for assignment by the Mets this week.

Rushing to the nearest airport, O'Day boarded a flight to Memphis and then transferred to a flight heading to Toronto, to join the Rangers.

O'Day got off the plane in Toronto at about the same time the Rangers' game was in the eighth inning -- 9:45 p.m.

"The travel secretary was texting me back and forth," said O'Day. "The original plan was to go to the hotel, but he said, 'Go to the field, we might need you.'"

Sure enough, as the Rangers' bullpen was running out of arms in the extra-inning affair, O'Day's services were needed. The right-handed reliever arrived at the ballpark during the 10th inning of the contest, when he found out the team did not have a jersey made for him.

While on the road, the club's equipment manager usually carries around the jerseys of several players who could possibly get called up, and of course, O'Day was not one of those players. So O'Day was forced to don the jersey of Kason Gabbard -- who is currently with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
O'Day was brought into the game with two runners on base in the 11th inning, and had his first encounter with his manager, Ron Washington, on the Rogers Centre mound.
Millar's confusion didn't last long though, as he drove a pitch from O'Day into the left-center-field gap, giving the Jays a walk-off victory and bringing an end to the pitcher's turbulent day.

Baseball franchise valuations

Trying to sneak this one in...

Forbes latest MLB franchise valuations (click to enlarge):

Cardinals #8 overall, especially in revenue, was a bit of a surprise.

How good/smart do the Marlins and Rays look?

Yanks "value" increased 15%. Guess they don't mind the Stadium's empty seats!

Nats, or really "the Nots", lost 12% in franchise value. The euphoria of getting a franchise sure waned pretty quickly, eh?

The Operating Income column can be misleading, but only the Yanks and Detroit LOST money....and look how much money the Nots and Marlins made!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pete Abe confirms it: People don't want to be seen up front

I discussed this and it got A LOT of traction yesterday, but the rich and the suits are "embarrassed" or just flat out scared to be seen in the best seats in the park.

Meanwhile, I heard an interesting theory from somebody with the Yankees on Tuesday. They claim that many of those empty seats we’re seeing are actually sold, but the ticket-holders are afraid to attend games because they work for troubled businesses and don’t want to be caught living it up on television.

That’s just great. The seats are so extravagant that wealthy people won’t attend because it’ll make them look bad. Maybe the Yankees can provide disguises to these folks. Your bank get bailed out by the feds? Here’s a Joe Girardi mask. Have a good time.
I can only wonder/hope that they "heard" this from ME! After all, I think I was the only one discussing this publicly.

Also, there's a nice shout-out to our friends at FackYouk at the beginning of the same article. Nice work, fellas!

More on the empty seats

It's starting to pile on, the coverage is gaining momentum. Today, the NY Times weighs in:

The empty seats are a fresh sign that the teams might have miscalculated how much fans and corporations were willing to spend, particularly during a deep recession. Whatever the reason, the teams are scrambling to comb over their $295- to $2,625-a-seat bald spots.

I’m sure they’re thinking, ‘It’s just April,’ ” Jon Greenberg, executive editor of the Team Marketing Report, said of the lack of sellouts. “But it’s lost revenue they anticipated getting. This is the worst possible time to debut a stadium.”

The teams are loath to cut prices for fear of alienating existing ticket-holders. Letting fans from other sections move to the premium seats behind home plate and above the dugouts could backfire in the same way.
Big props to our friend Maury for the money quote:
But it doesn’t look good,” said Maury Brown, president of the Business of Sports Network, a research Web site. “It’s the Yankees, not the Nationals. On television, it stands out like a big sore thumb.”
Of course, Randy Levine remains defiant:
Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, said last week that attendance at the second home game was proportionately ahead of last year’s pace. Levine also said that 80 to 85 percent of the Stadium’s 4,000 premium seats had been sold for the full season.

For next season, the Yankees plan to raise premium ticket prices 4 percent.

Angels' PED past

Howard Bryant, the incredibly talented author and frequent writer on ESPN, shreds the Angels:

The 2002 Angels, for example, are the legitimate champions of an illegitimate time, just as Bonds is the legitimate home run champion of a discredited era. Despite Angels manager Mike Scioscia's adamant public stand against drugs, people around the game point privately to that club as one of the premier steroid-fueled teams thanks in part to a bullpen rife with career minor leaguers who suddenly began throwing in the mid-90s after their 30th birthdays.

Glaus was the MVP of that 2002 World Series, which is looking more and more like the definitive Steroid Series. Glaus, Brendan Donnelly and Schoeneweis, all of whom have been implicated, played for the Angels that season. On the Giants, there were Bonds, Benito Santiago, Marvin Benard, David Bell and Rich Aurilia. And that doesn't include the players who were suspect.
Is anyone shocked, though? Didn't think so.

Enough already: Ban the maple!

What on Earth is MLB waiting for, a serious injury? Death? We narrowly escaped it last night when Kerwin Danley got knocked on the noggin with a shattered bat.

With one out in the sixth, Rangers designated hitter Hank Blalock's bat broke on an infield pop. A large piece flew back and hit Danley on the side of the head, knocking him to the ground.

It was a high and inside fastball, a cutter that broke my bat," Blalock said. "I heard something happen behind the plate and I figured the barrel hit somebody. As soon as the out was made I turned around and Kerwin was lying down. I felt bad, it was an accident."
If nothing else, ban the maple until a solution is found.

EDIT/UPDATE: Thanks to reader Dre and further looking on my part, Blalock was indeed using an ash bat. I unfortunately assumed that given the way the bat shattered, it HAD to be maple. Thanks for keeping me honest!

Blalock uses an ash bat, which shatter differently than maple bats and are generally considered to be less risky. Ash bats tend to crack lengthwise while maple bats usually explode into several fragments and travel further.
It still doesn't change my ever-repetitive refrain about banning maple until a solution is found. In case you haven't been paying attention, my thoughts on the maple bat "situation":


In case any of you were listening to MLB on XM around 8am today, yep, that was me on the radio!

Scott Graham and Buck Martinez were chatting about the "Embarrassment of the Rich" posting (how cool is that?) so I decided to call. They took my call and we chatted for a few minutes about the posting.

I'm fighting the early stages of a chest "thing" so I'm not quite sure how I sounded, but it was fun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Off topic: Kentucky Derby

It's a strange thing, but I love the Kentucky Derby. I'm not even sure why. Something about the ridiculous hats, the brevity of the race, the Yankee Stadium-like separation of the rich from the masses. And the fact that few things are more compactly fun than betting on horses, particularly if you bet on the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby's around the corner (May 2nd). I shared an old horse racing story last year, but wanted to retell the story anyways.

Evidently my dad's buddy, Alan, is well-versed in all things equine, from breeding, to tendencies, etc. A real track-rat, or whatever they call it. He knows horses, period. My dad, a numbers wizard, had me meet them in the Meadowlands to watch the horses run one night. It's typically quiet midweek, so as we settled in to watch the races, a strange thing started happening.

Alan starts by calling off the horses and how he sees them finishing. This is not anything new if you've ever been to a track, but he has raised and trained and owned horses, so he's got the skill to do this. It'd be like watching a ballgame with a professional scout, telling/pointing out things you'd never see or notice. My dad is calling off the odds and he starts matching odds with the horses, getting rather exotic with the bets. This is no simple "$5 on the #3 horse to win" sorta thing. This is multiple exactas and trifectas, designed, on the fly, without paper, to create arbitrage situations where, so long as the picks of the horses are right, they cannot lose money. Now, the horses aren't always right but that happens. I'm watching this develop and seeing how they have developed this system over a decade or so and I am speechless. They created as complex a trading system as they have on Wall Street, except it's for horses, not financial instruments.

This goes on, all night, race after race. And they are winning. Big. Expect here's the rub: The never place a bet with the house. They have a 3rd buddy who never goes with them who acts as the house and they settle up at the end of each season, over dinner. The bets are a few bucks each, up to $20 per race, depending on how many and how complex the bets get. If they actually walked to the window and made these bets, they'd have paid for college for all the kids, and then some. But for them, it's not about the money (and this is my dad, mind you. Go figure, right?), but rather the challenge to pick the horse and design the perfect bets. As the years have gone by, they have honed their separate skills into a finely-tuned gambling machine.

My parents moved out West a few years back so this has faded into the ether, but it jumped into my head this afternoon, so there ya go.
Back to our regularly scheduled baseball programming.

There's been an Irabu sighting

This took my breath away:

Nikkan Sports is reporting noted fat toad Hideki Irabu is working out in LA and aiming to resume his career in the US independent leagues some time this season. The article says that he’s played in amateur games and is hitting 90 mph on the gun in his workouts.
Hideki Irabu is the Japanese Sidney Ponson. I hate them both with a special kinda venom!

If only he winds up in Kansas City, my life will be complete.

belated h/t to Ron Rollins, international correspondant extraordinaire

ESPN's East Coast Bias

ESPN has an East Coast Bias. Boo-freak'-hoo. Wanna know why:

Last season, Red Sox-Yankees drew ESPN's three highest game ratings — a Mets-Yankees game was fourth. Vince Doria, ESPN senior vice president, notes the Yankees and Red Sox outrate West Coast teams even in West Coast TV markets: "It's not a question of bias. It's trying to discern what most of our viewers are interested in."
So bash the network, MLB on XM, whatever you listen to.... but know there's a reason for the relentless ECB: RATINGS. And ratings = MONEY. And you know what it's all about, dontchya?

The embarrassment of the rich

We're seeing the first signs of a collossal embarrassment for the NY Yankees. We've discussed this ad nauseum last season and this off-season: the out-pricing of the "average" fan while chasing the ultra-rich/corporate "attendees". I call them attendees as they are generally not fans like you and I, but rather using the game as a lure for future business/favors. Yankee Stadium, for all its $1.5 billion glory, is circling towards a caste system that threatens to treat its most loyal fans the worst. In what other industry would an organization seek to price out its best customers and treat them like second class citizens?

[In prior years, I'd get some tickets free and pay for others. It wasn't cheap, but I was lucky enough to be able to afford to take the family to the game and not crimp my budget. This year, however, will be different. The cost/value ratio for attending a game at Yankee Stadium, for a family of four, is getting silly. I can try to get the cheap seats, but even those are going for $50+++ a seat. Plus parking (unless MetroNorth is running), food, goodies. I'll do it but maybe only once this year and that's a shame. My boys love going to the games and I love taking them.]

But the point today is how patently absurd the Yanks decision to price tickets as if they were scalpers during the playoffs. They clearly saw gap between face prices and scalper prices and said "that's our money". So they devised a strategy that pegged the potential buying audience (ultra-rich and corporations) with their ability to pay scalper prices. Then the world changed, plus they made at least one tactical error:

  1. The economy tanked
  2. Personal wealth linked to the capital markets tanked
  3. Jobs disappeared
  4. Government bailout of Wall Street behemoths
  5. Many, many Wall Street financial institutions merged/disappeared
  6. Many "feeder" industries reliant on Wall Street (like the lawyers) to pay their hourly rates suffered
  7. Tactical error: The Yanks failed to realize that there were thresholds that firms could spend entertaining clients and the tickets (and dinner and car services) would put the firms over the threshold, making the expense non-reimbursable.
A few weeks back, we went to a friends' house for an afternoon. While watching the Masters with my friend (a Wall Streeter), we were discussing this and he made an interesting point. He said to me: "Jason, even if I had those great seats that cost $2500 a ticket, I can't take a client there. It's not worth the risk." I asked him about what risk he was talking about and his answer surprised me as I hadn't thought of that: "If someone recognizes me sitting behind the dugout and it comes out that I used my Firm's resources for those seats, and we've taken TARP money from the government, I don't want that sort of publicity or getting calls from The Post." He's not a famous guy at all, but there's a fear that someone might see him and he'll get "outted" for using Firm money to attend a game. He also told me that he's not alone with this fear.

That's some scary stuff. So how about some "proof", courtesy of a great entry on this blog, written by Paul Katcher, who also took these pictures. (h/t to Shysterball for the link)

Randy Levine, this is on you. This is your legacy, a ballpark for the rich, while utterly dismissing your loyal fan base. Your pomposity, your utter disdain for anyone and anything that doesn't agree with you, your bullheadedness in not doing something about this when it became obvious to everyone that there was going to be a problem.

This is hard for me as it's my childhood team, but I feel no sympathy for the organization. Sure, it fuels the spending to try to put a quality product on the field, but I can't help but chuckling as the spears and arrows are mid-flight towards Levine & Co.

Now, this is not solely a Yankee Stadium problem; attendance is down almost 7% across the board. Baseball, and all sports, will feel the pinch from the economy. But it just feels that other markets are being responsive to the economy whereas the Yanks are summarily thumbing their nose at it. Sure, the Stadium was built essentially before the floor fell out of the economy, but had the team used any modicum of common sense, they would have changed their strategy and been more flexible with their pricing schemes. Some teams are offering kid-friendly programs or discounted ticket nights. Not the Yanks. But we'll have a nice wide concourse, which is nice.

Courtesy of Pete Abraham (the LoHud of the Rings):
There are increasing whispers in Yankeeland that the team realizes they overpriced the good seats and a correction is coming. The issue may be how they compensate those dupes loyal fans who dropped $2,625 a seat already.
We'll see how that manifests itself.

Not to mention, the Stadium's inane "seating gestapo" who will not let the kids down close to the field during batting practice to get autographs unless they have one of those pricey seats. Meanwhile, how many kids are getting to sit in those ultra-premium seats? How many suits are showing up 3 hours early to watch BP anyways? Judging by the pictures above, not many.

Speaking of the "seating gestapo", there's an article out today that tells us that the fan institution known as "Freddy Sez" is being forced to beg for tickets to enter the game. Anyone who as hever been to a Yanks game knows Freddy, the older man who walks the Stadium with his pan and big metal spoon and lets everyone bang it for good luck. He used to be allowed in free as he never sits down, but now, not so much.

On Sunday he stood outside the stadium holding his frying pan and a sign that read, "Freddy Sez, Yankees say 'I can't go in. Must buy ticket!"
Shame on you, Yanks. Of course, now they are calling it a "miscommunication", which, to me means they will let him in only because they got caught. Sorta like apologizing not because they are sorry for their action but sorry that their actions were outted.

The collateral damage from this seating "issue" is that, on a regular game day, the noise created by Yankee fans will be much less than in years past. Sure, during the Sox games, post-season games (I hope), the Stadium will be packed. But on an average midweek game, those cushy seats will be empty and the Stadium will be quiet. This is not good.

Remember, too, how I noted the profile of the upper deck will more closely resemble Shea... this puts the loud loyalists further from the field whereas once the upper deck essentially sat over first and third bases. Said me, last year:

I love how the upper deck in the current stadium is so close to the field. It's not a big bowl like Shea or some other stadiums. The fans are closer and louder. Now, as it seems, the new stadium will be a bigger bowl with the fans further away. Maybe the seats will be nicer or have a better "view", but I'd easily give up the perfect sightlines to be closer to the field, louder for the opposition. We'll have better bathrooms, though.
All of this will be something to watch and pay attention to going forward.

I hope I am wrong about most of this, but I fear I might be right.

UPDATE: From FackYouk, riffing on the same theme today:
I didn't take a picture, because that would be weird, but I found out something about the New Yankee Stadium during our descent into Section 112 that really pissed me off (pun intended... wait for it). There are dividers between the urinals on the Field Level, but not anywhere else in the Stadium.

Is it a huge deal? Of course not, but could there be a better symbol of how much the Yankees have bent over backwards to cater to the wealthiest customers and how they could care less about the core fans? By installing the dividers at the field level, they are acknowledging that it matters, but only providing the "luxury" to those purchasing the most expensive seats. It's an issue of simple human decency, and they can't possibly cost that much to put them in.

Have you ever had a friend who desperately tried to date someone who was out of their league while ignoring a person who was legitimately interested in them? The object of their affection was strikingly attractive, but even if they gave them the time of day, it was just to be nice. The second option wasn't as good-looking, but they had actual feelings for your friend and probably would have done anything to be with them. Guess what, Yankees, the corporate guy, who you want to sit in the insanely expensive seats... he's just not that into you.

Urinal dividers as an analogy for the Stadium's caste system. Bee-you-tee-ful!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh, the form is perfect!

Again, my apologies about the lack of posts today (Monday). I'm in the midst of a very busy stretch, but when I can get to some writing, I'll be here. Expect more Tuesday morning.

In the meanwhile, my little one's first t-ball game was this past Sunday. Notice the perfectly executed hook slide (of course, there was no throw to the plate, but I still like it):

PS: Big props to my wife for nailing that picture.

Monday forecast: cloudy with chance of very busy

Sorry folks but I'm in lockdown workwise, especially with being out on Friday.

I'll try to get in here later.

Thanks for understanding.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sorry folks, park's closed

Just a reminder... I am not going to be posting today as I am thankfully in FLA for a long non-work related weekend.

Back on Monday... enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mets might exist in NY, not sure

It's almost as tough as a "Where's Waldo" book, but try to find the mention of the Mets on the back cover of The Post. Remember, too, that this was after their first win ever at Citi.

A nice Stadium Opening touch (UPDATED)

I thought this made for a nice touch when TNYS opens tomorrow TODAY (Thursday, 4/16, 1:05pm EST):

If the Yankees had picked anybody else to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at their new stadium Thursday, it just wouldn’t have seemed right. Yogi Berra, 83 years young, will do the honors before the Yankees host Cleveland at 1:05 p.m.
The home plate and pitching rubber to be used Thursday is the same set that closed out the old Yankee Stadium last September. When the game is over, the plate and the rubber will be moved to the Yankees Museum, located in the ballpark. I haven’t seen the museum yet, but I’ve heard there is a breathtaking display of autographed baseballs from every living Yankee the team could find.

In case they missed anybody, the Yankees will have 40 of their alumni on hand for the opener. Here’s the list:

Luis Arroyo, Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Ron Blomberg, Bobby Brown, Horace Clarke, Jerry Coleman, David Cone, Chili Davis, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Dave Eiland, Ed Figueroa, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ken Griffey, Sr., Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Don Larsen, Hector Lopez, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Buck Showalter, Bill “Moose” Skowron, Luis Sojo, Mel Stottlemyre, Ralph Terry, Bob Turley, David Wells, Roy White, Bernie Williams, Dave Winfield.
Do I have to mention that Kelly Clarkson is doing the National Anthem? Well, they seem to have gotten a lot right so far, so I will let this one slide.

I'll be watching from my office and will try to post a screen grab or two, if there's anything noteworthy.

Just wish Bob Sheppard was well enough to be there. At least his (recorded) voice will announce the first Yankee at bat ("Derek Jee-tah, num-bah twooo")


  • The park looks gorgeous; they couldn't have gotten a nicer day, weather-wise
  • Kelly Clarkson was very good, my apologies
  • John Fogerty? He and Ed Figuroa.... nice hair color; sure it's that way naturally
  • Joe Pepitone looks like he'd rather be Gene Simmons
  • I love me some Whitey and Yogi
  • Where were the rest of the guys from the 90's Dynasty? What, Randy Velarde was busy?
  • Bernie... nice touch
  • They didn't show Yogi's pitch live. BOOOO!
  • The 20' less area behind the plate is obvious. Helps hitters.

The unofficial, uncensored guide to the new Yankee Stadium

Now... THIS is an excellent piece of work from Ross at The New Stadium Insider, useful for anyone going to TNYS this season. Subjects include:

  • The Area Around The Stadium
  • Getting Tickets
  • Getting Into The Stadium
  • The Great Hall
  • Yankee Heritage
  • Field Level
  • Security
  • Obstructed Views
  • The Bleachers
  • The Main Level (200's Sections)
  • Grandstand
  • Cellular and Wireless Connectivity
  • Food & Drink
  • Smoking
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Exiting The Stadium
And Ross's summation, which I completely agree with:
This information. all first-hand, should help to make your new Yankee Stadium experience extremely enjoyable. Try not to be like us, and focus on the positive aspects of the new stadium. We are extremely critical of the out of touch executives in the Yankee front office, but perhaps we have been a bit unfair about the new structure itself. While we are certain that some great things about the old stadium will never return, we are also sure that this stadium will be the home to some great memories.

Nady's done, possible implications for 2010?

If the reports are indeed true that Nady needs TJS and will be lost for the year, what are the implications for the Yanks? Some quick thoughts to ponder:

  • If he's on the 60 day DL, does he accrue the time to be a free agent after this year anyways? I don't know the answer but it seems a reasonable question.

  • Do the Yanks offer him arbitration?

  • If yes, will he accept as he'd want a year of good performance (healthy playing) before diving into the FA pool?

    If yes, will Boras instruct him to decline anyways as that's Boras' M.O.?

    If yes, his arb figure will be based upon his $6.55m salary this year, which isn't terrible, unlike Abreu's arb figure last year ($16m). That's pretty managable if the team decided to risk the arb offer.

  • Who do the Yanks bring up to fill out the bench? I can't see them bringing up Austin Jackson to ride the pine. Shelley Duncan, maybe? Another farmhand?
Aaron Gleeman, at his vacation spot at Circling the Bases, had this to say:

However, making Swisher an everyday player significantly weakens New York's bench, which now essentially consists of Melky Cabrera, Ramiro Pena, and Jose Molina. Calling up either Shelley Duncan or Juan Miranda to take Nady's spot on the roster will give them a usable bat off the bench, but with Hideki Matsui stuck at designated hitter for a while Cabrera is in line to get any extra outfield at-bats.

I don't think it materially weakens the bench. Swisher was outperforming Nady anyways. It requires Matsui to play more and actually DO SOMETHING when he's at the plate. The Yanks are a better team when Damon's playing (at least offensively) anyways.

Bottom line, this is not something to panic over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Farnsworthless at it again

This time, he blew a decent outing by Fatass.

Kyle Farnsworth gave up three runs in one-third of an inning out of the pen to take a loss to the Indians on Wednesday.

Two years and $9.25 million. Farnsworth already has two losses and has given up six runs in 3 1/3 innings.


Sidney Ponson yielded two runs over six innings Wednesday in a no-decision against the Indians.

Ponson has a reasonable enough 4.50 ERA after two starts, so his chances of outlasting Horacio Ramirez in the rotation seem pretty good. He's scheduled to face Cleveland again next time out.
Good times in KC!

And keep all sharp objects away from Ron Rollins. I can almost hear him from England, screaming at me and the Royals.

Thinking...bad. Just get ball, throw ball

Seems that Wang is overthinking. Just pitch.

He knew,” [pitching coach Dave] Eiland said. “He was taking a lot of time between pitches. He was holding the ball longer than he normally does with runners on base. So that tells me he was doing a lot of thinking.”

Wang acknowledged he was probably thinking too much on the mound, and he seemed rattled by walking the first batter and hitting the second.

Maybe I go into the game and try to throw hard,” Wang said, adding later, “Every time I try to hit the perfect spot, and every time I’m behind in the count.”
A lot of things were going through his mind, and he wasn’t trusting himself,” Eiland said. “You’ve got to be mentally stronger than that. You’re in the big leagues; you can’t go around feeling sorry for yourself. I’m not saying that’s what he’s doing, but you’ve got to lace it up a little tighter and get after it.”

The time has come: Bring the DH to the NL

Save your slings and arrows for another day, please. Spare me your double shifts. Go lock yourself in a room with your grainy baseball movies. Wax poetic about late-inning strategy with someone else. This is not some blatant "knee-jerk reaction" to recent events, but recent events bubbled this back up to the surface.

The time has come: Bring the DH to the NL.

Someone needs to explain to me the allure of watching NL pitchers try to hit. What's so captivating, so nostalgic, so poetic about watching some guy step in the bucket three times so he can get back to the bench? And if he gets on base somehow, run around in a windbreaker? Why is this so wonderful for our game? Because it makes us look/feel/act smart to discuss double shifts while saddled up at the bar? Because that's what our grandpappy used to talk about?

I tiptoed around this idea last year, particularly when Wang got hurt running the bases and was lost for the year, summarily ending the Yanks season. And what happened last night?

St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter appears headed for the disabled list after straining his left rib cage swinging the bat Tuesday night.

Carpenter was injured grounding out to third base to end the top of the fourth. Carpenter went to the mound to warm up before the bottom of the inning, then called for a trainer.

I felt it just a little bit on that swing, and every warmup pitch got worse and worse until the last one bit pretty good," Carpenter said after the Cardinals' 7-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 10 innings. "So there's nothing I could do about it but come out."
Why? Was this necessary? Really?

Carpenter, fresh off a one-hit effort as he battles back from major arm/shoulder injuries, has NO business swinging a bat. He's paid (very well, I might add) to pitch, not hit. Sure, there are guys like Zambrano and Sabathia and Owings who can hit AND pitch. So let them hit, if the organization wants to risk their arms.

With the premium paid to pitchers, particularly the best pitchers (and Barry Zito), NL ownership should be picketing to have the DH installed in the NL to protect these investments.

The esteemed Nate Silver, czar of forecasting for Baseball Prospectus, had a fun exercise in assessing pitchers' hitting values (2008). He leads off:
In the six years that I’ve generated PECOTA forecasts, I’ve never bothered to run hitting projections for pitchers. In fact, I’ve regarded pitcher hitting as something of a nuisance; I specifically screen out any pitchers so that they won’t be selected as comparable players. This isn’t an aesthetic judgment by any means—watching pitchers try (and fail) to hit is one of my favorite pastimes. But since even the pitchers who make 35 starts a year won’t usually get more than 80 or 90 plate appearances, I've generally figured that it wasn’t quite worth the trouble. ... pitchers and position players are selected to play in the major leagues based on totally different skill sets. (The gap between pitcher and position-player hitting has grown steadily since the dawn of baseball time).
Note that the bad-hitting pitchers don’t hurt you as much as the good ones help you, simply because the bar for getting any kind of offensive contribution from your pitchers is so low. Still, Ben Sheets is a lifetime .079 hitter in the major leagues, and that sure doesn’t look good on the back of a baseball card.
Precisely! Why is this element of the game so important, so fantastic, so ethereal? Why the navel gazing?

And in my research efforts this morning, I came across this article written by Howard Bryant (2007):
Since we live in an age of money, an age of offense and an age of power, it is time for the National League to stop worrying and start loving the designated hitter.

It's the unfortunate, but correct, thing to do; I find myself arguing for a position with which I don't completely agree, yet can't find a better compromise.

According to sources high up in the baseball hierarchy and low on the field among managers and players, there is no discussion about the NL's adopting the designated hitter in the future, meaning baseball will continue its 35-year tradition of playing the same game under two sets of rules, depending whether the game is being played in an AL or NL city.
Even FOTB, Splice's Russ Smith, had this to say last year "The NL Needs the DH":
Sure, the strategy required of an N.L. manager is more intricate than A.L. counterparts with double-switches and more sacrifice bunts, but the two leagues might be more competitive if older free agents (or crummy fielders) could extend their careers as a DH.
The National League needs to get rid of its die-hard advocates who insist that the American League’s innovative genius to inspire the introduction of the designated hitter is but a sham on the game’s integrity. The DH was the first solid attempt by MLB to get rid of any superficial or perfunctory aspects of a game whose otherwise proud and purposeful intent was being undermined. The National League dinosaurs continue to insist that the DH removes a distinct strategy that is integral to the sport’s identity. But all it truly does is remove a little-skilled or no-skilled hitter for a competent one, thus allowing for more competency where it is appreciated by all observers of the game. A pitcher (now-a-days) can’t even bunt properly and stands a good chance of smashing a finger or two.
The time has come to put the DH in the NL.

Rob Neyer, the reason why many of you are here, had this to say:
I don't care if I ever see another pitcher hit -- but I still say the game's just a little more interesting if there's a difference between the leagues. So, no.
I don't see how it's more interesting, honestly. Is it more interesting to see guys flail at pitches? I'd rather watch a skilled hitter work against the opposing pitcher. I think a league with uniform rules is better than a league with half the teams playing by different rules. Especially a rule as major as the DH, particularly when it comes to the World Series.

Feel free to post your hate mail in the comments below.

Bad Ideas: WBC

The WBC was fun and all, but I am quite certain the RedSox organization (and their fans) are none too happy with the effects that it's had on Dice-K:

Not only did the club drop its sixth game in eight tries with a 6-5, 12-inning loss to the A’s, but it also lost starter Daisuke Matsuzaka to “general soreness and fatigue’’ in his shoulder.

The fatigue and poor results – Matsuzaka left his second start of the season after only one inning, in which he allowed five runs on 43 pitches – could result in a visit to the disabled list in order to rest the shoulder. Or, he could see his next start pushed back a few days.

Whatever the course of action, the Sox believe Matsuzaka’s fatigue is tied to his participation in March’s World Baseball Classic. Based on comments Matsuzaka has made since returning from the WBC late last month and after his bullpen session in Anaheim last weekend, club officials believe the righty pushed himself too hard, too early at the WBC.
I can't blame everything on the WBC --that's too easy and too lazy-- but one HAS to be concerned, particularly the Sox.

Though the Sox are 2-6, so I can't be that upset, can I?

Burnett sparkling; Swisher still hot, X not

Two outta three ain't bad, eh?

The free-agent catch gave them that — and more — Tuesday night, flirting with a no-hitter before settling for a 7-2 victory over the AL champions that kept him unbeaten since signing an $82.5 million, five-year deal.

I had good movement on everything. I was putting the ball where I wanted," Burnett said after taking his no-hit bid into the seventh inning. "It definitely could have happened. But it wasn't meant to be."
Swisher, obtained from the Chicago White Sox in an offseason trade, added a solo homer in the fourth before Garza settled down to keep the Rays in the game.
Swisher now has 4 home runs without playing every game. He also has a 0.00 ERA with 1 K. Would it surprise anyone if he parachutted in from a Stealth Bomber flyover tomorrow? The issue for Swisher was going to be about where and when he was going to play. Initially, Girardi envisioned him playing 3 games a week. After the white-hot start, he was definitely earning much more than that (especially with Matsui struggling).

Except now, the situation's changed as the X-man might be hurt:
Xavier Nady had a “sharp pain” in his right elbow in the seventh inning and was taken out of the game.
Nady had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 29, 2001. He was injured tonight in the seventh inning when Carlos Pena singled and he threw the ball back to the infield.

I’m definitely kind of nervous,” Nady said. “But I have to be optimistic. Hopefully it’s scar tissue breaking off. … It was very painful.”
No one wants to see Nady injured, but the Yanks depth (remember all of the "should they trade Nady or Swisher?" stuff? Here's why they probably didn't, aside from not getting anything that they liked!) I am guessing Scott Boras will simply put Nady on his "do not call" list if Nady needs TJS again. Hopefully, it's nothing serious, however, and Nady can be back on the field soon.

I will say this about Swisher: Sure, he needs to keep hitting (or pitching), but his wide-open personality is a welcome addition to this team. Nady is another Abreu-like guy; quiet, solid, professional, boring as hell. Swisher, plus a guy like Sabathia, brings a new dynamic to the clubhouse and I think it's great. Of course, the air will get sucked out of the room once ARod returns.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Programming note: Work happens


I apologize for the reduced number of posts so far this week. It's just shaping up to be that sorta week for me. The next two weeks look be very busy. In addition, I will be taking this Friday off for a long-scheduled "guys weekend", making me compress 5 days of work into 3.75 days.

If anyone has been to/or plans on being at TNYS/Citi openings and has a desire to write a review, please do so and email me.

Otherwise, bear with me and I'll try to get back to my normal publishing schedule as soon as I can.


And that sucked

Sorry, Shysterball, but I'm gonna butcher your daily column header.

Last night's pitching effort by the Yanks flat out sucked, except for Swisher's, naturally. Here is the play by play, detailing the destruction that the Rays wreaked on Wang:

  • 1st C Pena doubled to deep right center, B Upton and C Crawford scored. 2-0
  • 1st P Burrell doubled to deep center, C Pena scored. 3-0
  • 1st G Gross singled to left, P Burrell scored, D Navarro to third, G Gross thrown out at second attempting to advance on play. 4-0
  • 2nd E Longoria walked, J Bartlett scored, B Upton to third, C Crawford to second. 5-0
  • 2nd C Pena homered to right, B Upton, C Crawford and E Longoria scored. 9-0
  • Wang's line: 1.0 IP, 6H, 8ER, 3BB, 1K
It got so bad for the Yankees that first baseman Nick Swisher pitched a scoreless eighth inning, the first New York position player to take the mound since Wade Boggs used his knuckleball in 1997.

Swisher may have been New York's most effective pitcher. After giving up a walk and Tampa Bay's 17th hit, he struck out Gabe Kapler and got Pena and Pat Burrell to fly out.
Wang's ERA after his first two starts: 28.93. Seriously? Wang has as many strike outs in TWO starts as Nick Swisher has in 1 inning?!?!? UGH.

At least the Sox are 2-5.

Remember when (we) were young... shone like the sun? Shine on, you crazy diamond.

RIP Mark "the Bird" Fidrych. Talk about a statline from a bygone era, even though it wasn't that long ago:
The curly-haired right-hander was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1976 when he went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games.
I was just getting into baseball when Fidrych burst upon the scene, and was gone shortly thereafter. And now he's gone too soon.

Not a good week for baseball.

Seems fitting for Fidrych:
Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Monday, April 13, 2009

RIP: Harry Kalas, age 73

Truly a shame. At least he got to enjoy the Phillies' title last year.

Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas has died at age 73.

Team president David Montgomery announced the death Monday a short time after Kalas passed out in the broadcast booth before a game in Washington against the

Montogomery's voice was cracking as he said that "we have lost our voice."

Kalas had been with the
Phillies since 1971 and was known for his distinctive "Outta here!" home run call.

Glaus' admitted PED use

Is he among the infamous 103? Not sure, but Troy Glaus has made an admission:

[Glaus] has never addressed the steroids issue except to confirm meeting with MLB investigators following a 2007 report that he received nandrolene and testosterone between September 2003 and May 2004. MLB found no cause to discipline him; Glaus since has had no comment.
The twist to this story, to me, is that his agent was the one referring Glaus to an anti-aging doctor (emphasis mine).

Quoting the investigator's report, the Times article said Glaus "was willing to take the risk" in order to get back on the field. The investigation centers on California anti-aging doctor Ramon Scruggs, who allegedly wrote prescriptions for steroids and human growth hormone for clients, including athletes, businessmen and policemen. Scruggs wrote the prescription for Glaus without examining him, according to documents cited by the Times.

The report cites Glaus as saying that his agent, Mike Nicotera, referred him to Scruggs.
What I found, um, amusing, were some of the reader's comments. Apparently, Cardinals' fans are a forgiving sort when it's one of their own:

  • "I love Troy as a player, and hopefully this blows over quickly"
  • "He needed these drugs to speed his rehab. He is apparently a very, very slow healer."

Well, not ALL of the fans, that is:

  • "This is so typical of the LaRussa regime. It is steriod heaven wherever he manages. Typical of the Cardinal organization....nothing but cheaters and losers."
  • "I guess I'm just slow on the up-take... I assumed Glaus' steroid use was a requirement before LaRussa would even consider adding him to the team."
  • "Tony LaJuica. Say no more."
The NY Times article referred to within the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article can be found here. According to that article:
Even after Major League Baseball and its players union bowed to pressure and started a testing program in 2003, the All-Star third baseman — Troy Glaus of the Anaheim Angels — and the worn-down pitcher — his teammate Scott Schoeneweis — said they continued using steroids. (Steroids had been banned in baseball since 1991, but there was no way to enforce the ban until 2003.)

Glaus said he was “willing to take the risk” because he needed to play, according to a report written by the federal agent who interviewed him.
Sounds like Pettitte's admission. Also sounds like the admission most likely to garner sympathy.

The details are a bit ugly, though:
It was also through phone calls that Scruggs taught Glaus how to inject himself, according to the investigators’ report.

Starting in November 2003 and for the next three months, Glaus injected himself once every four days with the steroids nandrolone and testosterone, the investigators say he told them.

It worked, and I was getting better,” Glaus is quoted saying.
I wonder if Marvin Miller would ever change his "there's no proof that steroids help" stance. Doubtful.
“Schoeneweis stated that he only used steroids one time during the season, and because he was a player representative, he knew when players got tested,” their report says.

Player reps know the information to tell the rest of the players union, the rest of the body and the league,” Schoeneweis said. “We were knowledgeable ahead of time about what the testing program was going to be because we were negotiating it, O.K.? That’s it.”
As for the Glaus post-script:
Glaus said he stopped using steroids at the end of August 2004. He returned to the lineup for the final 29 games and hit seven home runs, then he hit two more in the Angels’ three-game loss to the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. division series.

That December, he signed the largest contract of his career, a four-year, $45 million deal with the Diamondbacks.
Remember kiddies, it's only bad if you get caught BEFORE you sign a contract that will make you richer than you could have ever imagined. If you get caught after, just admit it was done to get back on the field to help your team and that you are remorseful and regretful.