Friday, May 29, 2009

Torre: Manny shouldn't be '09 All-Star

Says Torre:

Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he doesn't think suspended outfielder Manny Ramirez should be an All-Star this year, even though fans have him fourth in voting at the position.

"
No, I don't, and if you ask Manny, he'd give you the same answer," said Torre. "I understand a lot of it is a popularity contest and you want to give the manager the best players, but to me, the significance of the All-Star Game is to reward players who had a good first half."
I agree; Manny hasn't done enough on the field. However, because of the stupid "this one counts" rule, Manny could (by some) still be considered a Top 3 NL OF. To channel my inner Herm Edwards: "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" because this game counts...for some lame reason.

The reason for this whole "Vote for Manny" thing is that the rules of the game are in conflict with each other. The fan vote (and while not relevant here, the mandatory representation rule) is made for an exhibition, but instead, the game counts. This is dumb. Profoundly so. If you want the game to count, fine, pick the Top 32 players via some other voting mechanism (fans/players/managers each having a 1/3 vote, perhaps?). But if the fans will continue to pick the starters, then it will remain, as it always has, a popularity contest. Smaller market guys or guys having an incredible first half will always be overlooked by the bigger market guys or established stars. And I haven't even yet touched the fact that a player suspended for PEDs is protected by the CBA and allowed to appear in the ASG. Talk about rules in conflict.

Notice, too, that Torre said that Manny shouldn't be an All Star, not due to his suspension, but the lack of production, implied as a result of the suspension.
"Manny's popularity is why he's gotten votes. Realistically, he didn't have, except for reputation, a right to be an All-Star. It probably isn't the right thing for him this year, from the baseball aspect, I've got to think."
"From the baseball aspect". Not "because he tested positive and was suspended for PEDs" folks. Then again, teams under Torre's stewardship don't exactly have a sparkling record, PED-wise, do they? So the PED suspension has no bearing on Torre's opinion. NONE. So why should WE let it bother us, too? WHY? Not saying it's right to conveniently ignore that little fact, but the eventual HOF manager Torre doesn't care much about it either.

If you want to keep Manny off the team because you want other guys, more 2009 deserving guys, selected, that's great. Go for it. No complaining from me. But if you have a fundamental issue, as I do, with the rules surrounding the "midsummer classic", then raise your voices. And I am doing that with the Vote For Manny site. If Manny is not among the Top 3 NL OF, then we're just perpetuating these farcical rules, pushing off the changes that sorely need to be fixed.

I'll mention this because I've heard it asked: "what does this tell the kids?" or "what about the kids?". Use this as a parenting opportunity. That what I have done. Tell them some people cheat to win. Tell them that life ain't fair sometimes. Doesn't make it right. I also tell my two boys that professional athletes are not people to idolize. It's MY job to instill what I see as good values in my children. Watching Manny (or ARod, or any other PED user) take the field doesn't give anyone license to justify cheating any more than seeing someone shoot a gun on TV makes that OK. Teach your kids right from wrong. Don't leave it to athletes or an All Star Game.

Lastly, no matter the voting results, I still believe that there's NO WAY Manny takes the field in St. Louis.

Clearly, some get it

Clearly, there are some who truly "get it". The response and number of links and discussion my "Vote For Manny" idea has spawned has been humbling. Here are some:

There are many more and I am thankful to all who have enjoyed riding this wave with me.

The next PED storm cloud gathers on the horizon

Earlier this week, before the Manny-stuff, I posted about the latest PED bust. I know, we are all sick of these sorts of things: the shady characters, the allegations, the dirt, the sleaze. This one is no different, sadly.

Thomas told detectives from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after the raid that he was the largest steroid dealer in central Florida and had provided steroids to members of the Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals. He declined to discuss those statements during the interview Thursday at the Polk County jail, but he promised to share details of steroids and sports once he is released.

"
Get me out of here and you’ll get a huge story," Thomas said.
[...]
Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League opened investigations into the allegations Wednesday, while law enforcement officials made pains to say that they were not in a position to release names of any specific athletes that Thomas may or may not have identified. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said authorities would have a better idea about Thomas’ clientele after they examine his home computer and review mountains of documents seized from the house.
[...]
"
There were steroids in the closets and steroids all over the house,” [Polk County Sheriff Grady] Judd said. “We asked him to educate us and he pointed to some brown pills and said ‘That’s Oxymetholone, from Iran. This is the stuff cops are afraid of. It makes you so strong and crazy you want to flip a car.'"
Can't wait. Moving on...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

IIATMS on the Tony Bruno Show

Big audio file here (available for 7 days). The show can also be heard on XM 143 and Sirius 122 via Westwood One Radio. The fun starts around 1:30.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A bit more on "Vote For Manny"

If you think my "Vote For Manny" is actually about wanting Manny to be selected as a starter in the All Star Game, please read on.

If you think my "Vote For Manny" is actually about wanting to embrace the pro-steroids stance, please read on.

If you think my "Vote For Manny" is actually about preventing the most worthy of players, such as Raul Ibanez, from getting selected to the All Star Game, please read on.

If you understood that the "Vote For Manny" is one part satire, one part sarcasm, one part fun, one part grandiose hopes the rules of the game will somehow change to make sense.... feel free to read on even though you already get it.


So what is "Vote For Manny" and why did I create it?

The issues surrounding Manny, the All Star Game, PEDs represents the "perfect storm" for MLB. Now, I am not a Bud Selig basher, but there are things he's done that I am critical of, just as I am complimentary of other things he's credited with. Having Manny, by far the highest profile player to test positive under the current testing rules, coming off his 50 game suspension a week prior to the ASG is unquestionably brutal timing for MLB. Currently, the rules state that a player cannot be part of the ASG if he's suspended and Manny won't be mid-suspension. I am sure they wish Manny isn't among the three highest OF vote-getters in the NL. Maybe that will be the case, maybe not.

The rules are out of whack and sometimes we need to make a travesty of something to enact change. Sometimes you need to do something radical to rally for change.

I do not want to see Manny in the All Star Game. Are we clear on this? I started the "Vote For Manny" site to illustrate the joke that the voting, the "this time it counts"/World Series home field advantage rule, the mandatory representation, the still-soft PED rules...has become. I want to see the best players selected, not the most popular. Ibanez is worthy and will have a spot on the team no matter what; his manager is managing the NL team. Not to worry, Phillies fans.

Here's how I'd change the All Star Game:

  • Make the game an exhibition, like it used to be. Let the fans vote however they wish. If a contingent of fans wish to stuff the ballot boxes for one player, so be it. Each team will have a representative, no matter if they deserve the spot. (So those of you crying that Manny being elected a starter will take a precious spot, cry about the "mandatory representation" rule first.) We can play 9 innings, no extras. If it's a tie, so be it. Each manager will try to get every player in the game. At the end of 9 innings, shake hands and get ready for the 2nd half. No chest-thumping. It's an exhibition.
  • Or make the game count for something (even the stupid WS HFA). But, if you are going to make it count, then first cease the mandatory representation and have the best 32 guys play. Then have a three pronged election for the starters (fans get 1/3, players get 1/3 and managers get 1/3). It's not perfect but it'd be better than what we have.
  • My point is this: You cannot have a game that counts with a selection process that is fit for an exhibition. It's dumb.
  • Also, a new rule: any player dinged for PEDs cannot play in an ASG within the next 12 months of the beginning of their suspension. That covers players who get caught in the 2nd half of a season so they can't be selected in the following ASG.
Let's also dispatch with the "what if Manny IS selected as a top 3 OF?" stuff, shall we? Manny has always come up with a phantom knee injury or some reason to NOT go to the ASG. Why will he start now? Answer, he won't. If Manny is indeed selected as a starter, I am quite certain his agent, Scott Boras, will carefully craft a statement which will politely thank the fans who voted, but Manny needs to focus on helping the Dodgers get to where they want to go in the 2nd half. There is no way Manny steps on the field in St.Louis. None. That means he does not take up any other deserving players' roster spots. Pierre, Ibanez....whoever.

The other, larger, more complicated issue this "Vote For Manny" site highlights is the lack of a deterrent the 50 game suspension actually is. Manny lost some $7m during his suspension, but he's made well north of $200 million over his career. So what has he lost? A shot at the HOF? A bit of pride? Some fans? Do you really think he cares? Really? When Manny is done playing and living on his own island, will he really care? Would YOU? Here's my question: If you were promised $200 million once you were done serving a 1 year jail sentence, would you serve the time? Would you risk the shame and embarrassment for generational wealth? So what's the deterrent to players using PEDs? Entrance into a museum? Or the chance at untold lifetime wealth?

And what about the "Steroid Era"? Given the popularity, the voting results, the resiliency of the game, is anyone really upset anymore? I mean, besides some of the chest-thumping writers and HOF voters? Manny is a cult hero in LA and was one in Boston. ARod's back to bashing HRs in the Bronx and cheered nightly. The game is littered with those implicated with the PED label and each player is cheered when he does something good for their team, booed when they don't. Isn't it crystal clear that the fans are completely sick of hearing, reading, seeing stuff about PEDs in the game? We root for the laundry. I'm no ARod fan, but when the player wearing #13 hits a game winning HR for my team, I am happy.

Speaking of ARod, after some thought, I will not create a similar site for ARod for one simple reason: He did not test positive for PEDs in 2008-09. He admitted to prior usage, whether we choose to believe his story or not. He has not tested positive this season. That's a big difference.


The perfect storm is on the horizon: Manny being elected a starter in the ASG. A vote for Manny is merely a statement to MLB that the rules need to be changed. It's not a vote for Manny, the player. Sure, the LA fans might actually want to see Manny, but that only highlights the point earlier; fans root for the laundry.

I hope this clarifies the reasons for my "Vote For Manny" concept. If you still don't get it or disagree, that's OK with me. I welcome the discussion. I enjoy the debate. Just please keep it civil.


UPDATE: One additional thought which I neglected to mention: If you are an NL fan of a contending team, would you want Manny ON your team to help possibly secure HFA? Forget the PEDs, if you can. If you close your eyes and imagine the top 3 NL OF, is Manny really NOT one of those three? Manny in LF (Braun?), Beltran in CF, Ibanez in RF. Pretty solid.

Vote For Manny


In a fit of insanity, I created a new site called "Vote for Manny". Why would I possibly try to help Manny get elected as a starter to the 2009 All Star Game?

Simple.

I think it'd be wonderful to watch MLB (Selig & Co.) uncomfortably try to figure out a new policy on the fly to keep him out of the game. Rather than proactively inact a rule similar to the NFL's "Shawne Merriman rule", the league is simply hoping that good ole Manny doesn't get voted as a starter. They can then strongarm manager Charlie Manuel into not selecting Manny. (Even if Torre is his bench coach!)

Except one thing: We're here to make sure Manny makes the Top 3.

Guess what? He's already at #4 with over 1.2 million votes.

So what can you do?

Click here to
VOTE FOR MANNY.

Vote early and often, kids.


-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-


My quick thoughts on the stupidity surrounding the All Star game:

If I were Commish for a day, I'd do the following about the All Star Game (note the OR between the 2nd and 3rd points):

  • Eliminate the World Series home field advantage gimmick. PERIOD. Let the overall records decide who EARNED the home field advantage.
  • Eliminate mandatory representation by every club. It was one thing when there just twenty-something teams, but with 30, too many inferior players are being named at the expense of more qualified players.
    OR:
  • Expand the roster sizes to accomodate the expansion in the number of teams. If you do this, you can keep mandatory representation. Open the rosters to 35 and eliminate the handwringing.

My sights/thoughts from the last ASG (@ Yankee Stadium):

New PED bust in FLA; Nats mentioned

A major drug bust took place in Central Florida and the main source, Richard Thomas, implicated the Washington Nationals as having players amongst his clients. (emphasis mine)

What investigators aren't sure of is whether Richard Thomas, 35, is telling the truth when he said he is the biggest steroid provider in Central Florida and that he sold mostly to professional athletes, including those on the Washington Capitals hockey team and Washington Nationals baseball team.
[...]
The sheriff said when Thomas was asked whether he had sold steroids to professional athletes, he replied, "
You name the sport, and I've sold steroids to athletes who play it."
More to come as I learn more.

For additional details/commentary, please check here or here. Thanks to Anthony Roberts for the tip.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The wussing of the pitcher

Scenario: The starting pitcher is cruising in total control, 101 pitches thru 8 innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 6. But because this pitcher is "just" 23 years old, the manager gives him the hook despite a 11-0 lead.

Believe me, I am all for watching the pitch count and innings count for the younger pitchers, but when any pitcher is on cruise control, and the innings/pitches are not high leverage, high stress sort of pitches, it's gotta be OK for the kid to go for the CGSO. What's another 15 or so pitches when he's just throwing fastballs, pitching to contact to get the last 3 outs?

And the best part: Hughes was PISSED to get the hook:

Phil Hughes wanted no part of the handshake that would end his afternoon, not three outs shy of a shutout. But by that time, there also wasn't a whole lot left to prove.
[...]
"
He didn't want to shake my hand -- he wanted to go back out," Girardi said. "I said, 'You know what, you're going to have plenty of time to get complete games.' I understood he was disappointed, because he wants a complete game. But we're looking at him long-term, not just this start."

Attaboy. Just wish Girardi let him go back out there. If he struggled, yank him. But give him the chance.

Reliving the blame in Texas

While many are trying practice revisionist history, Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News tries to remember that ARod wasn't the only thing going wrong in Texas earlier this decade:

You don't have to like him, but was it really A-Rod's fault that the Rangers never won when he was their shortstop?

Was it his fault that Hicks once tried to make like George Steinbrenner, then had second thoughts?

Was it his fault that Rangers pitching always stunk?
[...]
Was it his fault that the Rangers traded him to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias, and that Jon Daniels traded Soriano to the Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and Armando Galarraga, only to watch Wilkerson strike out at a world-record pace while Galarraga escaped to Detroit?

Was it A-Rod's fault that the Rangers took so long to get their priorities straight?
Meh, it probably was his fault anyways.

Red hats for all...BAD IDEA

I understand the proceeds from anyone gullible or lame enough to want a red Yankees hat will go to charity, but could any team look more out of place than the Yanks wearing a bright red cap?

DUMB. AND UGLY.


I was OK with the stars and stripes in the interlocking NY last year because it was on a blue hat. This year, every team wore the same bright red cap with stars and strips on their logo.

It looks like a hip-hop video reject. What self-respecting fan would buy this abomination? Just make a donation instead of buying this thing.


Off Topic: 'Cuse does it again! (updated with video)




UPDATED WITH VIDEO

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday video fun: Disturbing sound effects

I am quite sure the kids are completely OK in this video, but the sound effects sure do create the illusion that they took a beating:

Remember, Father's Day is just around the corner!


via SI.com

Some HR data to ponder

Courtesy of Jayson Stark's latest column:

Those home runs might be flying. But we're hearing that the Yankees don't plan to make any firm judgments on the home run propensity of the new Yankee Stadium until after the summer breezes kick in and the old stadium is dismantled.

The club has been told by its engineers that when the old park is out of the way, the wind currents off the East River should hit the new stadium differently and actually reduce home runs.

In the meantime, we've studied the home run data over at
hittrackeronline.com. And even though the new stadium has proved to be 55 percent easier to hit a home run in than the average park, data shows the wind effect might be less dramatic than popularly believed. For instance:

Of the 70 outside-the-park home runs hit at the new park through Wednesday, only three were estimated to have carried an additional 10 feet or more because of wind. And all three were hit on the same day (April 18).

Only 12 homers were estimated to have carried an extra 5 feet or more because of the wind (four of those 12 were just hit Tuesday and Wednesday, by the way) -- but seven actually had their distance knocked down by 5 feet or more because they were hit into the wind.

And of those 70 home runs, 27 would have been home runs in all 30 parks in baseball, 43 would have been homers in at least 25 of the 30 parks and all but 18 would have been home runs in at least 20 of the 30 parks. Just two were judged to have been homers only in Yankee Stadium.

Friday fun: Stanley Cup errors, including "ass man"

This post's header should boost my Google search results...


I've discussed this before, my greatest sports fandom moment isn't baseball-related. It's the 1994 Rangers championship. That being said, there are some awesome things about hockey that I love, even though I don't watch much of it anymore.

Like spelling errors on the Stanley Cup. I've heard/seen many of these, either in stories or in person, but this one was new to me:
One cup quirk isn't actually a mistake, but a victim of an unfortunate change in popular lexicon. Frank Selke was an assistant manager for the Maple Leafs when they won the cup in 1945. His title is abbreviated as "ass man." Says Philip Pritchard of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, "We don't tell a lot of people about the ass man," he says. "Players love the story, though."
Who isn't, Frank Selke? Who isn't? And what does the title of "ass train" mean, too?

Wait, the coach of the 1945 MapleLeafs was named "Happy Day"?

The rebellion of the rich

More fun/shame at the expense of the soldiers minding the moat (emphasis mine):

The combination of food and security collided inside the Stadium Wednesday night. This had nothing to do with high-profile broadcasters or players' wives. This was a rebellion of the rich. In that expensive area downstairs - the one with the empty seats - there are seemingly more waiters and waitresses, serving free food, than there are patrons.

On Wednesday, it got so crazy that the fan-elite started tossing ice cream sandwiches over the moat to peasants sitting in the $400 "cheap" seats. This did not sit well with Toastie security forces, who began scolding their most prized customers. The lecture from security prompted a guy in the rich seats to say:
"I paid for this food, I can do with it what I want!"

Yeah, let them eat ice cream (sandwiches).
Wish I saw this live.

Peavy: scared or smart?

By now, everyone's aware of Peavy's decision to stay in the comfy expanses of the wonderful land of San Diego. [I case you are new here, I've spent umpteen hours discussing Peavy and why a trade is not only inevitable, but necessary for the franchise.] There are a few reasonable reasons for this decision that I can consider:

  1. He loves SD too much to leave / His family does not want to leave
  2. He really likes to bat 3-6 times a week
  3. He knows how great a pitcher's park Petco really is
  4. He knows how much of a hitter's park US Cellular Field is, especially for FB pitchers
  5. He's flat out scared about pitching in the AL on a full time basis
Let's scratch the surface on these points, shall we?
  1. He loves SD too much to leave / His family does not want to leave

    Honestly, I couldn't agree with this idea more. Having family out in SD, I can completely and utterly understand a desire to stay out West. The climate is flat-out fantastic, unless you hate 73 degrees and sun every day. Spare me your "oh, I'll miss the seasons" or "isn't that boring?" crap. NO! Perfect weather is NOT boring. You know what sucks: Snow, cold rain in the Fall, sleet, black ice, days straight of rain. You know what doesn't suck? San Diego weather. Because of the weather, kids are outside more and so are adults, biking, playing ball and simply enjoying life. Why? Because they are not shuttered in due to the */+$%$^&* weather!!! Is this clear?

  2. He really likes to bat 3-6 times a week

    I call BS. It's a convenient excuse. You know who else likes to bat? Sabathia and he let it go because the price was right. Holding up a trade from a cellar dwelling team because you want to swing the bat is stupid. Take extra BP, OK?


  3. He knows how great a pitcher's park Petco really is

    I think this is absolutely true. If you need some proof, look here. In 2008, it was the best pitcher's park. THE BEST PITCHERS PARK IN THE MAJORS. Guess what? It was the best pitcher's park in 2007, too! It was the 2nd best in 2006. The BEST in 2005. Third best in 2004. Get the point? It's big and plays big. It supresses HR's and helps fly ball pitchers. Ya know what else? Peavy is a FB pitcher!


  4. He knows how much of a hitter's park US Cellular Field is, especially for FB pitchers

    The converse of Petco is US Cellular. US Cellular's rank over the last few years (the higher the number, the more of hitter's park it is):
    2008: #4
    2007: #9
    2006: #9
    2005: #9
    2004: #3


  5. He's flat out scared about pitching in the AL on a full time basis

    I can kid about Peavy really being scared because that's how it all looks. He looks wimpy as hell for not taking on the challenge, choosing to languish in last place while posting great personal stats. Here's the thing: He's already landed the rich multi-year contract and would likely have his agent demand his big option year be picked up in advance. So what's to worry about? Well, maybe he figures if he pitches a dozen years in sunny SD, raking up delicious stats, he can skate into the HOF....but if he turns into a human BP pitcher, serving up HR's like mad, he won't have a chance.

    I don't really think he's scared because every account of Jake and his personality is one of a bulldog, not a shrinking violet. But he looks scared.
Aaron Gleeman had a nice discussion about Peavy's home/away splits over at Circling The Bases:
Going from Petco Park in the National League to U.S. Cellular Field in the American League is just about the biggest change in environment that a fly-ball pitcher like Peavy could experience, and there's plenty of reason to wonder whether he'd be a dominant, Cy Young-caliber starter for the White Sox.
[...]
Like most fly-ball pitchers Peavy is prone to serving up homers, but Petco Park has essentially erased half of his long balls. Knowing that his home ballpark turns so many fly balls into outs rather than homers has also allowed Peavy to pitch more aggressively, totaling 21 percent more strikeouts and 22 percent fewer walks at Petco Park. Add it all up and his ERA has been 2.71 at Petco Park and 3.71 everywhere else.

Now, most pitchers fare better at home, so the full-run difference isn't quite as dramatic as it appears, but the point remains. Peavy has been a much different, far more effective pitcher at Petco Park. And not only would a trade to the White Sox take him away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park, it would put him at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field in a league that features the designated hitter and arguably superior overall competition.

This is spot-on.

Now, if the "real truth" (which we will never know) is that his wife and family don't want to leave and/or have something against Chicago (despite his willingness to be traded to the Cubs during the off-season), I will understand it. And if you listen to Peavy's comments, that's precisely what he's saying:
San Diego is the best place for us, right this second,” Peavy said before tonight’s game against San Francisco.
Can't blame him, actually.

Though, "...right this second" is, to me, is a euphamism for "until some other NL team steps up to the plate, I am looking at you Cubbies".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yanks hoppin'

Which comes first, the winning or the loose clubhouse? Does one breed the other? Does it matter?

In yet the latest example of the new pie-in-the-face conviviality that has taken hold with the Yankees this season, Joe Girardi's lads Wednesday night held a Kangaroo Court session. It was their first since 1995 when Wade Boggs was the presiding judge and Buck Showalter was the manager.
[...]
However, Damon says, what can not be underscored is that, for the first time in his four years as a Yankee, this is a fun team to be a part of. Eight-game winning streaks - which the Yankees' became with Wednesday night's 11-4 rout of the Baltimore Orioles - can make a guy feel that way. Whether it translates into the championship that has eluded the Yankees since 2000 is another matter.

Togetherness was what Girardi made a point of in spring training when he arranged that surprise "Day at the Pool Parlor." Say this for Girardi, he recognized what guys like Damon are only now willing to talk openly about: The Yankee clubhouse was a joyless place in the latter years of the Joe Torre regime. Part of it was the personnel - how could anyone find any fun being around Kevin Brown? - but a big part of it was the generation gap that existed between Torre and his players.
I've long said I thought the Yanks were "too corporate". I've been looking at other successful clubs of recent vintage (namely the RedSox) and seeing players who seem to genuinely have fun with each other playing this great game and wonder why the Yanks couldn't do that. I don't blame it solely on Torre, but maybe there's something to the impact of Torre and his more stoic nature. Regardless of the reason, I am really enjoying watching a team get close and have fun. Winning does cure ills, but in a long season like this, I do believe it's important to have that comraderie.

Bill Maddon, the author of the above-linked story, gets it (emphasis mine):
"The rules here are much more family oriented now," said Damon,"and that's why you have free agents wanting to come to New York instead of a low-key place."

Funny, I thought it was the money. But there is no question that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, for all the moolah it took to get them to come here, have had a major influence in changing both the personality of the team and the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Same with Nick Swisher, who was grateful to escape Ozzie Guillen's dog house in Chicago and get traded to the Yankees. In spring training, Sabathia took it upon himself to bring several of his new teammates over to Orlando to take in Magic basketball games, and Burnett has instituted the whipped-cream, pie-in-the-face treatment for the heroes of walk-off wins. Swisher, meanwhile, appointed himself the DJ from the moment he came into the clubhouse and, with Girardi's encouragement, the longstanding Yankee music ban was lifted.
Who knows if this change in team personality will actually result in one additional win or not, but it's good to see the team change from boring, hired guns to a group of guys pulling for one another.

I've gotta believe that this sorta thing will be great for ARod, as the guys will have no problem taking him down a peg or two.
"I took an absolute beating," Alex Rodriguez said, before leaving the clubhouse with his young daughter in his arms. "I think I just barely survived."
I am probably definitely making this to be more than it really is, more than it deserves, but I'm guessing if you ask any Yanks fan over the last decade-plus, they will all* tell you it's good to see the team roll forward and try to develop their own legacy instead of trying to shoehorn themselves into the "dynasty Yanks" from 1996-2000.

* Unless you are a crusty curmudgeon like Mike Franscesa or Murray Chass!


Other recent posts relating to the Yanks' "corporate" atmosphere:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Remember Foulke? He hates Newark

Can't say that I blame him though I am digging his honesty:

"I'm not hoping to lead the Atlantic League in saves," he says. "I hope the phone rings today and it's the Diamondbacks and I can pack my stuff and get out of here."

Foulke lives in the Phoenix area but says he would play pretty much anywhere.

"Any big league city is better than being here," he says. "I'd even play for the Yankees. I still think I have something to offer."
[...]
Big league scouts sitting behind home plate give him mixed reviews.

"Minor league hitters can't touch him," says one. "It's only a matter of time before he gets a call, but not as a closer."

But another was less optimistic.

"He's succeeding with fringe stuff," said that scout. "An 84-mile-per-hour fastball. Any mistake he makes will be hammered up there."
If Percival can retire and come back... Izzy's trying a comeback (from injury)... why not Foulke?

Slump or done?

When you're 25, it's a slump. When you're 33, 34, 35... you might be done. Papi, Magglio, Abreu, this might relate to you:

"I know people talk about the steroid issue (throughout baseball), but this thing happens to the best of them," former hitting coach Merv Rettenmund says. "One year, a guy is the best hitter in the game. The next, he has trouble hitting the ball out in batting practice."

George Foster, whose production plummeted from 52 homers to 13 in a five-year span, is one of many illustrious sluggers whose careers deteriorated in their early 30s. Cecil Fielder hit 95 homers from 1990 to 1991 but had 13 at 33. Jim Rice hit 39 homers at 30 and never more than 15 after reaching 34.
This is a fascinating topic and one, to me, needs to be explored deeper and further. I wish the author, the esteemed Bob Nightingale from USA Today took it further (but hey, it is USA Today, an economy of words).

If time permits, I'll try to get some data on sluggers' performance during their mid-30's.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Muchnick has no love for Sterling (and neither do I)

The NY Post's sports media-hound Phil Mushnick has no love for the Yanks catch-phrase-happy radio play-by-play guy John Sterling:

DON'T misinterpret this; it isn't a rip, it's a plea, a plea for change. Enough is enough. For those who care about baseball, a preventable, 20-year problem has become a crisis.

John Sterling, the radio Voice of the Yankees and a man who has always cherished the sound of his own voice while placing strained self-promotion over good-faith play-by-play, has created and cemented a dilemma: Every game played by the Yankees is a doubleheader -- the game that's played and the game Sterling calls.
Mushnick goes on to discuss how Sterling calls the game differently than the actual game action, how he misses plays and gets over-eager to use his own calls at the wrong times. Hard to argue, and I won't.

But my real beef with Sterling is how he's become so absurdly embarrassing to listen to, particulary with his insipid home run calls. He made a name with his "It is high, it is far, it is goooone". OK, I get it. He needed a call to call his own. Great. Then he had to add the "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee Yankees win!" Painful. Except he was just getting warmed up. Because these calls brought him a measure of infamy, he had to slowly take it a few steps further by adding player-specific home run calls and these are the bane of my existance.

  • Melky Cabrera: "The Melkman delivers!", "It's the Melky Way!", "The Melkman always knocks twice!"
  • Robinson CanĂ³: "Robbie Cano! Don't you know?", "Cano can do!", and "A Ribbie for Robbie!"
  • Johnny Damon: "Positively Damonic!" and "Johnny on the Spot!" and "It's A Johnny's Rocket!"
  • Derek Jeter: "El Capitan!", "a Jeterian swing...", "a Jeter jolt", and "Oh captain my captain"
  • Hideki Matsui: "A thrilla from Godzilla, "An Upper-Decki by Hideki!"
  • Xavier Nady: "X marks the spot!"
  • Jorge Posada: "Jorgie juiced one!" and "Jorgie jacks one!"
  • Alex Rodriguez: "An A-Bomb from A-Rod!" and "Alexander the Great conquers again!"
  • Nick Swisher: "Jolly 'Ol St. Nick!"'and '"Nick at Night"
  • Mark Teixeira: "A Tex Message!" and "You're on the Mark, Teixeira!"
  • Jose Molina: "Jose, can you see that!"
Oh. My. Lord.

Are we, the listeners, that basic and stupid that he thinks we might find these somehow funny or amusing? Holy crap, make it stop!!!! It's absolutely unlistenable. Add in Suzyn Waldman's whiney drivel* and I can be thankful that XM has the feed from whoever the Yanks are playing. I'd much rather listen to the opposing broadcasters and get their take on the Yanks than listen to those two chuckleheads.

* As I noted in the comments, choosing who you dislike more, Waldman or Sterling, is similar to choosing which you like better: the sound of the recorder or the sound of the kazoo. Both will make your ears bleed and your head hurt like hell.

It's time for a change and Muchnick's spot on.

_____________

Bonus Sterling-isms, just to make your eyes/ears bleed:
  • Bobby Abreu: "El Comedulce!" and "Bobby Abreu as sweet as candy..."
  • Wilson Betemit: "You can bet on Betemit!" and "For the Betemit of the Yankees, Wilson hits it out"
  • Jason Giambi: "The Giambino!" and "It's a bash from the 'stache"
  • Tino Martinez: "The Bam-Tino!"
  • Don Mattingly: "Mattingly, smashingly!"
  • Gary Sheffield: "The Master Sheff!" and "A Sheff Special!"
  • Shane Spencer: "Shane Spencer! The Home Run Dispenser!"
  • Robin Ventura: "And Robin becomes Batman!"
  • Bernie Williams: "Bernie goes boom!" and "Bern baby Bern!"
  • Scott Brosius: "Brosius the Ferocious!!"

Thanks to TheSportsHernia for the tip

Now appearing on "The Steroid Times"

Strange but true: I've been graciously asked to be a contributing writer to a new site called "The Steroid Times", started by noted PED authority Anthony Roberts. Anthony has been a reader and 'advisor' here at IIATMS for some time and he asked me to contribute to his new site. We'll see what it becomes.

Won't be any real hard work for me as I will simply repackage my baseball/PED-related postings over yonder, but the site is hoping to become a new voice for all things going on in the PED/fitness world, not just baseball. The contributors include doctors, chemists, trainers, etc. All people way more credentialed than I, but Anthony wanted to dumb it down a bit, I guess.

SteroidTimes.com is a collaborative effort amongst journalists, steroid experts, authors, sports writers, nutritional experts, doctors, lawyers, and intellectual rogues, taking part in the ongoing battle between uninformed ignorance & prejudice versus the truth, which ultimately must prevail.

What a mess

By now, you've read/heard/seen about the Mets debacle last night. Just ugly. What I really enjoyed, in a schadenfreude sorta way, is Neyer's take on where the Mets are right now:

You know what's worse, though? When Tim Redding is your fifth starter. Because you know what that means, don't you? It means that Livan Hernandez is your fourth starter. I happened to be at the ballpark in San Francisco last Friday night, and I just sat there in the first inning, dumbfounded, as Hernandez gave up hit after hit after hit. I can't say that I exactly felt sorry for Hernandez -- after all, nobody forced him to take the Mets' money this spring -- but I couldn't quite help myself.

More, though, I felt sorry for Mets fans who have to put up with a pitcher like Livan Hernandez every five days (particularly if he really is the club's fourth starter, and really will pitch every five days). Frankly, there's simply no excuse for a team with a new ballpark and a $150 million payroll to trot Hernandez out there regularly, and wind up with Jeremy Reed at first base in a close game, and Angel Pagan in left field at the same moment, and ... Well, you get the idea. I can't feel sorry for the Mets, and I can't feel too sorry for their fans. Not with that payroll. As a guy who just likes to watch good baseball, though, I find this odd collection of
talent just a little bit offensive.

Just to remind you, don't forget who was the suckiest pitcher of the 00's. At least a panic hasn't totally enveloped the Mets. Said me, then:
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.

Refreshingly honest

Phil Coke was pretty shaky in the ninth last night. So much so that I had to get up three times to look away and distract myself. At least he was refreshingly honest about his first 9th inning experience:

"It's totally, totally different than I imagined it would be," the 26-year-old lefty reliever said of trying to lock down the final outs. "It's not the sixth, seventh or eighth - those are way easier."
[...]
"Mariano's really, really good at it and I'm not very good at it,"
Coke said. "But at least I got through it and didn't blow it, and I'm quite happy with that. I'm not out there trying to be Mariano Rivera."
[...]
Coke threw 30 pitches - "I feel like I just threw 500, I'm so beat," he said - walked a pair, uncorked a wild pitch and gave up an RBI groundout that made it a one-run game. He walked Carlos Gomez to put the tying run aboard with two out, after which Girardi paid a visit to the mound to tell him "that I'm the guy he wants in that situation, so let's go," Coke said. "I told him, 'Yes sir.'" Eight pitches later, he coaxed pinch-hitter Mike Redmond into a bouncer to second base to end it.
I slept pretty well after that last out was recorded.

The Yanks have won 6 straight (including a 4 game sweep of the talented Twins), 8 of 10 since ARod returned. Teix is mashing to to tune of batting .342 (13-for-38) with five home runs and 13 RBI in the past 10 games.

The Yanks have six more games this week at home, three vs. Baltimore and then three against the World Champs Phillies over the weekend. Would be nice to see this hot streak run a bit longer as Toronto faces Boston and they can beat each other up a bit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here's one I don't get

Wasn't this kid pretty highly regarded not that long ago? Wasn't he included in several trade rumors, too? Suddenly, he's DFA'd (along with Eric Hacker) and, like Hacker, a member of the Pirates?

The Pirates have claimed right-handed reliever Steven Jackson off waivers from the New York Yankees.

Jackson, 27, had a 1.88 ERA and one save in seven appearances for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being designated for assignment May 8. Last season, Jackson had a 4.18 ERA in 49 appearances split between Class AA and AAA. That included a 0.87 ERA in 19 appearances after the All-Star break, all in Class AAA.
Wonder what he did to get that DFA considering he had a 1.88 ERA at the time? Anyone have any insight? With the Yanks bullpen struggling, how could they let a guy who was seemingly performing well in AAA just hit the trash heap? Someone help me, please. Though, if I had to guess, it's an issue of the 40 man roster (Kevin Cash called up; Tomko's call up got Hacker punted).

Also: Do I have to withhold my "are the Pirates now a Yankees minor league affiliate?" joke? What? Too late? Sorry.

Vin Scully: Voice of the Yanks?

No really, it was thisclose to happening. Say Scully himself:

"When the Yankees let Mel Allen go in 1964, I got a phone call from the man who they had brought in to run their broadcasting operation, Craig Smith," Vin began. "He had been in charge of the World Series broadcasts forever, so I'd known him about ten years by then. And he asked me if I'd like to come home to New York and become the lead announcer. He offered a very handsome salary, and a long contract.

"Well, I was amazed, as you can imagine. I'd found a wonderful home here in Los Angeles, but remember, this was only seven years after the Dodgers left Brooklyn. I was still a New Yorker through and through. Plus, here was a chance to work again with Red Barber. And recall, too, that this was just before the Yankee dynasty collapsed. As much as Mr. O'Malley had done here and in Brooklyn, the Yankees were still the marquee name in sports. If it had been 1958 or 1959, when I still missed New York so, I would've said yes before he hung up the phone."

"So, I thought long and hard about that one. But I had a young family, and I think we had all just truly adjusted to living here - takes just about seven years, I think - and in the end I turned it down."
Now THAT is one "alternate reality" scenario to make your head spin.

Misadventures in tarp effectiveness

You almost feel bad for the Nots' ground crew as they struggle.... and struggle... and struggle to get the tarp on the field during a rain storm vs. the Phillies.

Then fans come out of the stands to help. In NY, you get to go to jail for that.

via Deadspin

1992 Expansion Draft Revisited via WezenBall

Lar at Wezen-Ball was good enough to send this my way. This was his Baseball Prospectus "Baseball Prospectus Idol" submission. Bummer for Lar that he's not a finalist, but I sure did enjoy his stab at glory:

It's now been over 15 years since this draft took place and, with the benefit of hindsight, we can easily say what moves would and wouldn’t have worked out. What is difficult, though, is saying exactly how that draft should have gone. Considering the rules of the draft (only one player drafted per existing club per round, the initial 15 protected players, etc.) and the secret nature of "protected player" lists, there's a little more to it than saying "Man, the Marlins should've drafted Pedro in '93!" or "The Rockies should've taken Manny!"

What is the internet good for, though, if we can't take the time to figure this out ourselves? So I did just that. Using the expansion draft rules as explained on Wikipedia, a list of active rosters from 1992 and 1993 from Retrosheet, and a "leaked" list of the protected players published in the November 13, 1992, issue of USA Today, I set about running the "perfect" draft. Instead of each team always choosing the best player available at the given draft spot, the teams would choose the player who would best fit in on that particular club. It was also important to consider the limitations of the draft when making these choices so that both teams could get the best possible lineup available. Finally, I only did the first round of the draft, since it was hard enough making those 26 picks in the first place. I also allowed each team to sign a couple of free agents, though I limited signings to players who I judged might be willing to move to an expansion city. Maybe it's arbitrary, but it seemed necessary since there was no way that Greg Maddux or Barry Bonds or Kirby Puckett would ever have landed in Colorado or Florida. A list of available free agents was compiled using Retrosheet's transactions database.
Say what you will, but Lar is nothing if not thorough. Great stuff if you're into digging into the nostalgia!

The demolition continues

Some good pix via a new blog dedicated to the destruction of Yankee Stadium. Like waves crashing on the beach:

World Series games to start earlier

Finally!

Major League Baseball and Fox will announce today a real TV throwback: World Series action starting before 8 p.m. ET.

That hasn't happened, in a regularly scheduled weeknight Series game, in at least 34 years.

The long-overdue idea will start this fall on Fox as its weeknight World Series games — as well as its American League Championship Series games — will have first pitches at 7:57. Last year, on average, World Series games' first pitches came at 8:28. In recent years, some have come as late as 8:38.

Boomer wants selective justice

Friends, I want this great game to be played on a flat ground, just as most of you do. I don't want it to be a battle of the chemists. We've made some strides in the past few years, many coming at the expense of those outted (Bonds, Palmiero, McGwire, Sosa, ARod, Clemens, Manny, etc.). The one thing that I continue to ponder is just how pervasive the use of all kinds of PEDs were over the last two decades. Let's face it: the majority of players were doing something that's now banned (HGH, steroids, greenies, etc.). Remember, too, that the use of greenies goes waaay back, back to the grainy black-and-whites. Cheating isn't new.

This is not an assigning blame rant; I've done that plenty of times.

But what irks me are those who are calling for the stats of those outted (or presumed guilty) to be summarily stricken from the record books. This, of course, absolves those who haven't yet been outted. It also diminshes the performance of the hitters hitting against juiced up pitchers. It wasn't only the hitters juicing.

That brings us to Boomer Wells, one of my favorite players, who has the Wite-Out ready to go:

Wells also suggested that Rodriguez, who admitted that he used steroids during a three-year period while playing for the Rangers, should have his numbers scrutinized. Rodriguez hit three homers off Wells in 18 at-bats during that time period and the former hurler doesn't think those stats should count toward Rodriguez's bid for the Hall of Fame.

"Well, he claimed he was on the juice, so, no they shouldn't," Wells said.
Boomer, so we should just take his 3 HR off his ledger? What about revising your ERA? Should we do that, too? After all, it's a double book entry system; if you take something off one side, something has to come off the other side as well. What if removing one of those HR's would have resulted in a change in the result of the game? And what if that resulted in a win that got a team into the playoffs whereas otherwise they didn't make it? Talk about a slippery slope...

Of course, those who remain guilty in the shadows can sleep comfortably.

Now, Wells' primary thrust was to ban players from the HOF and to impose a zero-tolerance policy and I am choosing to focus on the stats side of it.
The hefty lefty said MLB should give harsher bans than the 50-game suspensions currently handed out to players who test positive for banned substances. He also said that players who have admitted to juicing should not be elected to the Hall of Fame.

"
No 50-game suspension - ban them right away," Wells said. "That would stop (steroid use) in a heartbeat. Especially with the money they are giving out today. It would be incredible if they did that, you wouldn't have to worry about steroids or HGH."
So long as there's a reasonable appeals process, I can't say I disagree. What I'd hate to see are players getting heaved from the majors when they take something over the counter from GNC that contains substances not on the ingredients label. I would be in favor of a "one and done" policy.

Last part of this article which really made me chuckle is the tweaking of Clemens by Wells. Remember, these two were traded for one another, with Wells going to Toronto tearfully, as Clemens arrived in NY in 1999.
"I started calling [Clemens] Eli, because for years, he called me Eli, you know 'Whatever comes out of Boomer's mouth, he-lies.' Well I got payback," Wells said with a big smile. "It was great. Debbie and him on the first tee, (country singer) Toby (Keith) and I and a buddy of his were finishing up and I said, 'Toby, watch this.' I yelled 'Eli,' and Roger didn't like it very much, but he came over and said hello."
Can't you see Clemens, setting up to drive the golfball amidst a large gallery, the crowd hushes and suddenly, there's Boomer Wells yelling "Hey Eli!" and having Clemens snort fire. Not too dissimilar to the Judge Smails putting scene with Rodney Dangerfield's Al Czervik, right? With Debbie Clemens giggle at the expense of her husband just like Lacey Underall is in that picture to the right?

I could watch this play a hundred times

UPDATE: The video was removed from YouTube. My apologies. If I (or you) can find another one, please let me know. Here's a link to the video at MLB.com. They won't let users share/embed it, though. Dumb move, MLBAM. Why not let your best customers share your product?

Sure Gardner was out, but what an amazing play. If you didn't see it, here's the video (sorry, the audio is not aligned with the video):

I can't get over how gorgeous this was, from the aggressiveness of Gardner to the presence and awareness of Mauer, the luck of the pitcher behind-the-backing the ball to Mauer, not to mention the awesome physicality of Mauer's play and the near swim move by Gardner.

Pitcher gets an assist(-ed living suite)

Hearing about this was a first for me:

When pitcher Josh Faiola walks out of the dugout on opening day with the Lake Erie Crushers, he'll already have a large group of fans in the stands -- his new roommates at the Belvedere of Westlake assisted living facility.
[...]
Eighty-four-year-old Meda Dennis, who has been living in the center for four years, said Faiola's arrival is the most exciting thing to happen since a good Elvis impersonator showed up.
[...]
"
Anything's better than the Indians right now," Dennis joked. "We'll definitely be cheering for him, though, and if he happens to have a bad game, he'll have a lot of shoulders to cry on. But I don't think he'll need them."
Ouch, the Indians are getting ragged on by 84 year old assisted living residents. Guessing Faiola will have some knitted quilts to share with the guys, too. And a hat or three.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hacker traded to Pirates

As I said when he was first DFA'd: "We wish you nothing but the best of luck as you land with a new organization. Hopefully it will be soon and with one that can better utilize you."

Looks like that wish is coming true.

The Pirates have acquired minor league starter Eric Hacker from the New York Yankees, a source disclosed this afternoon. The rest of the trade details are not yet known.
The Pirates have had some good luck in working with Yanks' cast-offs. Let's hope that continues with Eric.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Additional details surface on Manny's positive test

The LA Times has new information surrounding Manny's positive drug test, information which appears to draw a clearer and darker line from the player to steroids:

No trace of the medicine HCG was found in Manny Ramirez's system at the time of his drug test, three sources with specific knowledge of the results have told The Times. It was a prescription for that drug, which is a non-steroid but banned by Major League Baseball, that led to the outfielder's 50-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy.

One of the sources with knowledge of the test results confirmed that the outfielder's sample was flagged for having an unusually elevated synthetic testosterone level, more than four times that of the average male. Sources also said that MLB's decision to move to suspend Ramirez would have happened only if the report showed a banned substance. Anti-doping experts said the absence of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), coupled with the league's action, indicated that the Dodgers' outfielder used steroids.
So while the early reports had Manny testing positive for HCG, as discussed at length here and here again, it appears that Manny only had a prescription for the drug, but it wasn't in his system. What got him pegged was a 4:1 ratio of testosterone (determined to be of the synthetic variety) to epitestosterone. Layman's translation: men should have a 1:1 ratio, naturally.
First, scientists have testified in other doping cases that DHEA does not raise an average person's T-E ratio (1:1) to more than 4:1, where Ramirez's was, the source said. Second, MLB could produce the player's urine sample showing how much manufactured DHEA was in his system. Finally, the WADA lab conducts a Carbon Isotope Ratio (CIR) test on DHEA that identifies the level of the substance and whether it was naturally occurring or manufactured.

"
We can show the difference, with DHEA [and] testosterone . . . the CIR tells us if it's natural or doping," [Professor Christiane] Ayotte said, again speaking generally about her lab's procedures. "There's no miracle in nature."
Got that? The Man(ny) is guilty of using steroids.

Just imagine if the Yanks 2008-09 free agent signing profile was different and the Yanks wound up with Manny AND ARod on the same team at the same time?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

According to his teammates, his coaches, and the media, Manny Ramirez has appeared visibly confused and anxious since receiving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, and has repeatedly asked those around him if he is in some sort of really big trouble right now.

"
Uh-oh, things are not going so good for me I don't think," Ramirez was overheard saying to Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley. "Chad? Did I do something bad? If I did bad, I did not mean to do it."
Thanks to BigFool Carl for The Onion tip

Yankee Stadium falling down, falling down

And the demolition has begun, at least the removal of the seats, that is:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dr. Evil and Mini-me relent, sort of

Dr. Evil and Mini-me (Randy Levine and Lonn Trost to the rest of the world) have seemingly heard the cries from the masses about the insipid rules about moving closer to the field during batting practice. No, there won't be a bridge over troubled waters the moat, but in the bleachers and in the corners of the park, you'll be able to get closer.

Fans will be now permitted to watch batting practice and infield workouts during the first hour gates are open -- for example, between 4-5 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. game -- from Sections 103-110 (right-field corner), 129-136 (left-field corner) and all of the Bleachers, provided the seat is vacant.

All seats between Sections 111-129, including areas near the dugouts, will remain off-limits unless fans hold a ticket for those sections.

The changes were made public one day after Yankees COO Lonn Trost defended the original policies of the new Stadium, telling reporters, "
If you purchase a suite, do you want somebody in your suite? You purchase a home, do you want somebody in your home?''

Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman for the Yankees, told The New York Times that the club had received complaints and looked at the policy at the old Yankee Stadium.

"
We liberalized the policy even more," she told the newspaper. "This is part of living in a new home and making adjustments. It's only been a month."
Baby steps, friends, baby steps. The best part of this is that they seem to be hearing and reading us.

The death of newspapers doesn't mean the death of great writers

About two months ago, I briefly discussed the pending doom of many newspapers. Since then, we've seen many papers go by the way of the do-do. In that posting of mine, I wondered:

"What does that mean for the media business? Where do the writers go? To the Web, obviously, but can ALL of them afford to rely on an ad-based revenue model?"
We're still too early on to determine if there's going to be a total migration to an online-only model, either each writer independently or as part of an "online newspaper" that never hits a printing press.

To that end, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily news and a HOF writer who has covered the Reds for 37 years, shared some pretty depressing tales about his fellow scribes:
Hall of Fame writer Tracy Ringolsby and Jack Etkin, two of the best beat writers in the country, were without jobs when the Rocky Mountain News in Denver published its last edition this year.

Another good friend, Jack Magruder, was covering the Arizona Diamondbacks for the East Valley Tribune — until the EVT decided to no longer print a newspaper and Jack was swept out the door. Saw him today and he is hanging in there by doing freelance work.

And how heartless was this? A backup beat writer and a columnist with the Baltimore Sun were in the press box at Camden Yards. They received phone calls. In the press box as they worked. Their services were no longer needed and please leave your laptop computers before you walk out the door. Don’t forget the power units, too.

More sad news today, which is what prompted this. Tom Krasovic has covered the San Diego Padres for at least 10 years, maybe longer, for the San Diego Union-Tribune... He was part of 150 jobs eliminated by the Union-Tribune this week and has a job only until July 31.
I can't imagine being in a position like McCoy, suffering from "Survivor's Remorse", knowing that he could not only lose his job, but also have no chance of landing another...ever. Many of us have been let go at some point, either because of our performance or just a victim of circumstances beyond our control. While this sucked, I don't think any of us ever took a look in the mirror and said: "I don't think I will ever land another job in this industry ever again because the industry is dying." That's pretty bleak.

Will Krasovic, Ringolsby, Etkin and Magruder (and hundreds more, no doubt) be able to carry their readership to the Web in a way that be able to support their families? I hope so because I don't believe that the death of print newspapers has to mean that great sportswriting has to die. There are many great writers who exist on the Web only right now and I suspect there is room for the pros, should they want to embrace this change.

The challenge will be covering each team (or "their" team) without travelling with the team. It puts them at a disadvantage that bloggers like me have to operate: relying on the broadcasts from your living room (or the basement of your mom's house) and reading the wire recaps for those games we can't see. Then there's the issue of a lack of face-to-face access with the players. But great writers can write and hopefully will figure out how to best re-carve their niche and re-capture their previous readership. How many of the most seasoned writers will be ready, willing and able to embrace the new media tools that are out there, such as Twitter? Will they be interested in starting a two-way dialogue with their readers, rather than the traditional one-way dialogue done with newspapers?

The beauty, for me, of the blogosphere, is the ability to interact with those good enough to take the time to read your thoughts. Comments from you guys are the payback. Whether your agree, disagree, love, hate...whatever... it's great to get that dialogue going. It's like having a chat at the bar. Can a 37 year veteran at a newspaper adapt to this new medium and style? The quality of their writing isn't the question; it's the ability to interact with us, the readers, that makes me wonder.

My view of the NY media makes me wonder if the 'pros' will be able to adeptly handle this. Many of them are so antagonistic, so affronted by any criticism. That's great for driving pageviews and I know that's the goal.

Perhaps the best writers will turn towards publishing. Maybe we, the fans, will benefit from some great baseball books that aren't about steroids. Surely there has gotta be some great untold stories from the pressbox.

But no matter what, the death of the newspapers doesn't have to mean the death of great writers. It's pure Darwinism: adapt to survive. Or not.


UPDATE (1:30pm, 5/14/09): Via the comments below, former Giants beat writer Jeff Fletcher shared a link to something he wrote back in February on this very subject:
The Giants don’t exactly invite the public in on their internal discussion, and it takes the hard work of professional reporters to seek those answers. It is work that you just can’t do unless you have experience, access and — to be honest — someone paying you to do it.

Even on the easier stuff ... you need someone there to ask the questions.
Jeff is obviously spot on and adds a perspective to this discussion I didn't anticipate being able to share. Thanks for jumping in, Jeff.

Umps in stands

I was laboring on an ellipitical machine last night (a losing battle, again) while watching the middle of the Yanks-Jays game last night. The YES broadcast started focusing in on two fans, seated in the front row, who had decided to dress up as MLB umpires. One even wore a mask. High comedy.

You could hear them making the calls, too. On a strikeout, they'd both stand and make the motion. Annoying to some, funny to me. I'm simple that way.

Screen capture courtesy of the brilliant minds at FackYouk.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Got photoshop skills?

I'm looking for someone to provide some free-lance (well, just "free") photoshopping stuff for the site. If you have the time and ability to be creative with pictures and photoshop, please email me. Any prior examples would be appreciated.

Thanks

UPDATE: Position filled. Thanks!

Best and worst owners in baseball

From SI.com, the best and worst owners in MLB:

Top 5
1. Henry/Werner/Lucchino, Boston Redsox
2. Arturo Moreno, LA Angels
3. William DeWitt, St. Louis Cardinals
4. Steinbrenner Family, NY Yankees
5. Stuart Sternberg, Tampa Bay Rays


Bottom 5
26. Ted Lerner, Washington Nationals
27. Jeffrey Loria, Florida Marlins
28. David Glass, KC Royals
29. Tom Hicks, Texas Rangers
30. Peter Angelos, Baltimore Orioles
I don't have much of a problem with the top 5. Sternberg gets a nice bump because the team he inherited sucked for so many years and all those #1 picks paid off. Good drafting, great development. Moreno, the Boston trio, DeWitt....all well-deserved. I'd have them ranked pretty much the same way. The Steinbrenner family... I guess you have to, whether you like 'em or not. They sure have figured out ways to maximize revenue streams.

There's one name in the bottom 5 that really surprised me. Jeffrey Loria. Sure, he's not the most warm and cuddly guy and he torpedoed the Montreal franchise, but as the owner of the Marlins, he did reign over one WS title, which is vastly superior to most other owners. Including DeWitt, Moreno and Sternberg in the top 5. He also bullied his way into a new stadium on the horizon.

Ted Lerner's legacy is too short to really warrant his ranking, and SI seems to put the bonus skimming scheme that was lead by Jim Bowden squarely around the neck of Lerner. Yes, the team hasn't done much at all since being reborn in DC, but I don't think a tenure that began in only 2006 can be defined so quickly.

Glass is interesting in that he's a notorious tightwad, and while I root for a team that sweats hundred dollar bills, I can't say that fact in and of itself makes him a bad owner. He's a businessman with a Walmart pedigree, so he knows a thing or two about the income statement. His teams have made a boatload of money over the years despite not doing much (read: anything at all) on the field. As fans, we want our owners to be 'one of us', investing as we think we would if we were in their shoes. There's only one team that really does that. Glass operates his business with a firm grasp on margins and it shows. The Royals have been perennial cellar-dwellers for eons: The team has averaged 96 losses during Glass' 16 year tenure. Ninety-six. And they haven't made the playoffs in 24 years.

Aside from hoping that the Sox fall on their collective face, few things in baseball make me happier than watching Peter Angelos fail. An ultra-successful lawyer, Angelos took over in 1993 and proceeded to polish the lustre of the franchise with coarse sandpaper. Says SI.com: "Then Angelos began his notorious meddling, firing popular manager Davey Johnson, burning through another five managers, killing trades proposed by his GMs and stripping down one of baseball's proudest franchises. The O's haven't finished above .500 in 11 seasons since their last playoff appearance."

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And get off my damn lawn, too

Yanks honcho Lonn Trost had a few words to say to the kids (via Pete Abe) who want to get close to the field and watch BP up close and personal, maybe snagging a ball or autograph (emphasis mine):

On the issue of allowing regular fans and kids to watch batting practice from the field level, here is what Trost had to say: “If you purchased a suite, do you want people in your suite. If you purchased a house, do you want people in your house?”

Wow. That’s pretty much all the evidence you need about the caste system at the new Stadium. There is a Stadium for the wealthy and there is a Stadium for everybody else.

You know what is really sad about the whole thing? None of those people even watch BP. The entire area is largely empty before the game.
And get off my damn lawn, too. Punk kids.

Pitching to contact

I've enjoyed listening to Jim Kaat for many years as he used to be a member of the Yanks broadcast team. I appreciate his views on pitching, old school pitching. My father pointed out his latest blog posting (yes, Kaat has a blog, too) as it speaks to what Kaat views as a lost art: Pitching to the Scoreboard (his emphasis included).

Here's the catch (or the pitch!), someone needs to teach pitchers to pitch to the scoreboard and to the count. Early in the game, pitchers tend to be afraid of the bat and hitters making contact. Why? It has always been my strategy to gamble early in the play and early in the game. I wanted to try to knock out every hitter in three or less pitches and/or try to make him get hits on all of them. The great Sandy Koufax, a good friend of mine, said he was the most successful pitcher because he tried to get hitters to hit the ball, not miss the ball. Let's face it; the best hitters get three hits out of 10 at-bats. I remember times when I used to tell the catcher to call just fastball after fastball, and get as many out as possible in the early innings. Then when it came down to the last few innings, I could use my other weapons more effectively. Curveballs, sliders, and everything else I had in my arsenal. That was when it really counted.

Pitchers today should be less cautious early on, and try to throw as many strikes as possible to avoid long counts and keep hitters from seeing and deciphering too many pitches. When it's tied in the seventh, and the pitcher has not been more economical and the pitch count stands at 108, managers are forced to take him out. However, if it's the sixth inning and he's only thrown 75, he's got enough to finish the game.
[...]
Pitching is tougher these days. With smaller stadiums, a smaller strike zone, a tighter wound ball, and lighter, laminated, harder bats, there is little opportunity to keep hitters from diving into the ball without a fight, a warning or an ejection. And hitters are bigger and stronger than ever. Watch some of the World Series highlights on the MLB Network and check out the size difference in the players then and now. But, even with that said, sooner or later you have to throw it over the plate.
Now THAT is a good read.

Kaat began with a fun personal anecdote about this subject:
When I asked Robin [Roberts], "How do you pitch to Willie Mays?" he would answer, "Tell me the inning, the score and the count."
Kaat ends his spiel in a way not often read by players of the previous generation, noting that the players today are better than when he played, but they haven't been trained to pitch properly:
Pitchers are bigger, stronger and, quite frankly, have better technique than we had in days past. They just need to be taught to pay attention to the scoreboard and pitch to the inning, the score, and the count.