Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yankees Insult Girardi

Yep, they gave Girardi a three year deal worth $7.8 mil (a nearly $2 mil jump over what we expected). He'll get $2.5 mil a year, a $300,000 signing bonus and -- here's the insult -- $500,000 in incentives if the Yankees make the World Series. If Girardi signs on the dotted line, I don't ever want to hear incentives are insulting. It's not a big deal what Torre said -- and he later made clear if they had offered him two years, he would have taken the deal, insulting incentives and all (so clearly they weren't that insulting).

But what do you think about incentives? Personally, I do think they're absurd. Jeter makes $22 mil (or whatever) and he needs a BONUS for winning the Gold Glove or batting title or World Series MVP? Girardi needs a BONUS for getting to the World Series when that's his entire purpose? The only place I believe incentives make sense is with young players who are still under contract and can't negotiate yet. My team would do away with incentives completely. I'd pay them what they're worth and EXPECT them to play their heart out and do their best. What say you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World Series Up In Ratings

Someone said no one cares about this World Series. Actually, this World Series jumped 8% in the ratings compared to last year's first four games. Typically, if they'd gone six or seven games, the ratings would have continued to rise. Since Boston was the top draw on the road this yea (beating the Yankees), it's only natural they would be a top draw on TV. In an era of decling ratings, managing to grow even though they swept is a definite positive sign for baseball. Or maybe people just tuned in on the hope they'd hear something about A-Rod....

Monday, October 29, 2007

Joe Girardi Will Be New Yankees Manager

It's a done deal. They just need to settle the details and sign on the dotted line. Good? Bad? Would you rather have Torre back?

A-Rod Agonistes

Will we miss him? Will he miss us? Was it savvy or tacky of him to announce he was leaving the Yankees in the middle of the World Series? Where will he land? If he takes less money to be with Lou in Chicago, will that make this admirable? Discuss.

Boston Sweeps. Aaarghhhh.

Boy, something has to be done about the National League. Boston sweeps but instead of rightly focusing on Boston and their well-deserved second World Series in four seasons and their ending of the curse and veterans like Papelbon and their smarts in signing Daisuke, who may very well do fine next year and costs $10 mil per for a number three starter, which is a bargain in this day and age (instead of the Yankees who spent $50 mil for a guy they HOPED would be the number five starter), instead of talking about terrific rookies like Jacoby Elsbury (who's got the aura of a Jeter for the moment, always there in crucial plays and I wish we had him), instead of all of this we'll spend half the time talking about A-Rod because of his classless move in trying to steal thunder IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DECISIVE WORLD SERIES GAME to promote himself. Selig better fine him and Boras big time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Huzzah! A-Rod Opts Out!

I was just thinking to say that if A-Rod didn't opt out and took a deal from the Yankees that wasn't a blockbuster instead of opting out and going for the bug bucks, I would make a New Year's Resolution to wipe the slate clean, see that as a big step forward for him, and cut the guy some slack. You know, I'd try to see his awkward statements as fun a la Gary Sheffield instead of just annoying. Well, no need to bother.

A-Rod went for the big bucks and he'll get them. If he lands on the right team -- Boston, the Mets (I know, they say they're not interested), LA, the Giants, the Cubs? -- he might also get to play in the post-season. Well, we know Seattle and Texas were glad to see the last of him. (Seattle won, what, 116 games the year after he left?). Will we miss him?

My apologies to those who think we will, but to me this is an excellent sign for the future. A-Rod represents classic George Steinbrenner -- the biggest fattest names with the biggest fattest paychecks (though Steinbrenner usually didn't sign them until they were well past their prime). I won't miss A-Rod and I won't miss Giambi (god, if only that cheater would go) or Sheffield or Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens (headhunter) or the other hired guns of the last eight seasons that have kept us from developing a real team. Dear Diary.... Good luck A-Rod.

You're gonna have a hell of a time picking a jersey for the (Fantasy League) Hall of Fame.

By the way, very bush league of A-Rod to announce this IN THE MIDDLE OF GAME FOUR OF THE WORLD SERIES. Just as lame as I've found him as a player and a person the entire time with the Yankees -- trying to knock the ball out of the first baseman's glove, that HA! moment when running the bases. Small things, but telling. Selig should be furious. Really classless.

Oh my God, I just read the end of the AP story. (I was so excited I couldn't wait to post.) Boras says A-Rod opted out now (at least ten days earlier than he has too) because he didn't know whether Andy, Jorge or Mo were coming back. What a ridiculous lie. That's a reason NOT to opt out until the last minute and see what the other guys are doing, not a reason to be the first to bail. Who does he think he's kidding? Again, it's an ABSURD LIE and typical for him. Classless, lame, weak and utterly without merit.

"He really didn't want to make any decisions until he knew what they were going," Boras told the AP. Uh, except HE DID MAKE A DECISION -- HE OPTED OUT. What an ass.

A-Rod after the Yankees clinched the post-season a few weeks ago:

"This feels like home," Rodriguez said after the champagne celebration. "It's hard to believe that I played for another two organizations. So much has happened to me here, adversity, some success, that I feel like anything but New York feels weird to me now. . . . I love New York."

A statement by Hank Steinbrenner I can support:

"It's clear he didn't want to be a Yankee," Hank Steinbrenner told the Daily News last night. "He doesn't understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.

"I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee."

More info from Hank:

Steinbrenner said last night that both he and his brother, Hal, personally placed phone calls to Rodriguez expressing their desire to keep him in pinstripes, but neither call was returned by the third baseman.

Further, A-Rod specifically skipped winning the Hank Aaron award before the ball game because he didn't want to have to talk to the media. And then he turns around and embraces the media IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD SERIES. So throw in disrespecting the memory of Hank Aaron to his faults.

Per the NYTimes in Denver:

In Denver, as the Red Sox celebrated their fresh World Series title on the field, a few hundred fans stood behind the third-base dugout and gave them some off-season advice. They shouted, “Don’t sign A-Rod.” Earlier, the fans had chanted the R-rated version of “A-Rod stinks.” Mike Lowell, Boston’s third baseman, can become a free agent, too, so the fans also chanted, "Give Lowell the money."

A-Rod Offer May Be Even Weaker Than We Heard

Now the NYTimes says the Yankee extension will be between $130 mil and $140 mil. They say they're giving a raise because A-Rod is at $25 mil this season. Scott Boras says a raise has to start at $32 mil+ because if A-Rod is still here in a year, that's what his contract demands. Boras is right. If I get $10 mil this year and $20 mil the next three years in my contract, do I really think I'm getting a raise if you lock me in at $12 mil? Of course not. Worse, the Yankees reportedly won't be even letting A-Rod brag he's getting the highest single season salary in baseball history. Nope the Yankees think A-Rod in his prime and with MVPs two out of the last three seasons and regular season stats this year among the all-time best is worth LESS than broken down, over the hill Roger Clemens who got $28 mil (prorated) for winning six games and demanding the moon in concessions. This is NOT a "wow" offer. A-Rod will opt out. And I love the Daily News argument that the Mets should jump at A-Rod. Bill Price wildly overexaggerates the impact one player can have on the bottom line (he seems to be quoting directly from the Scott Boras prayer book) but taken with a grain of salt, his argument about how great a fit A-Rod would be is compelling. The Mets already said they weren't interested, but they could always change their mind.

Daily News: Girardi The Man

The NY Daily News insists the next manager of the Yankees will be Joe Girardi. Mike Lupica suggests if George is still in charge it will be Mattingly. And how polite or angry will Mattingly be if he is brought out of retirement to be the heir apparent and then gets passed over? The Daily News breaks down the strengths of all three candidates and points out that Girardi's biggest weakness is communicating with players. That just happened to be Torre's biggest strength. Two points: one, it's laughable when Hank praises what a thorough search the Yankees conducted. Right, calling in Girardi and Mattingly and Pena was really a wide-ranging search. They knew who they were interested in all along. And the Daily News missed the most important attribute of Tony Pena -- fulfilling the token minority interview that Bud Selig insists on, the role that Willie Randolph served for so many teams for so long.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Boston is up 3-0. But come on Rockies, if anyone proved that being down three games in a seven game series doesn't mean you're out, it's Boston. A 4 hour 19 minute came, the longest in World Series history and it ended at 1 a.m. since the first pitch came at 8:36 p.m. Heck, even kids on the west coast must be nodding off by 10 p.m. PST. That is unconscionable if baseball wants to pretend it's meant for the whole family. They KNOW the game will last at LEAST three hours and they still don't bother to get things going till after 8:30? Ridiculous.

Music -- Carrie Underwood gave the classic sort of performance middle America wants. She is cute as a button and delivered the Olympian "national anthem as mountain climbing event" version of the song, scraping through the low notes and belting them out on the high. She got a little shout-y on "rockets red glare" and one or two other times and it's not singing so much as hurdling over the obstacles of the song. But she got the job done. 8 out of 10. And boy is she cute.

Yankee update -- am I the only one who finds it obnoxious that the Yankees keep intruding into the news during the World Series? The worst was hearing Hank mock the Boston Red Sox in an utterly classless attack the day before the Series began. But now they keep making noise. They'll make a decision on Monday about who their next manager is (and that decision will weigh on the shoulders of HANK and HAL, not Cashman or anyone else). And they're ready for an offer to A-Rod reportedly a five year extension at $30 mil per. That would make A-Rod the player with the highest salary in history. But it still seems to short of "wow" to me. It's for eight years instead of ten, the total package is $230 mil which is less money than his last deal worth $250 mil (for more years, but still) and he's "stuck" at $25 mil when others are getting more. It just doesn't feel like a "gotta take it" deal for the greatest player in the history of the game who's about to win his second MVP in three years. My instinct is that A-Rod will opt out. I don't believe for a second that this is the best offer he can get. A-Rod IS a draw and he'll be racking up one record after another over the term of that contract and we've seen how valuable that can be for teams to promote a la Bonds and Ripken and single season record breakers like McGwire. You don't think LA or Chicago or Boston or one or two other teams won't find him irresistible? And let's go with the obvious on our next manager -- mattingly, right?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hank Steinbrenner Is Not Sober and Smart

Bob Raissman of the Daily News chides everyone for jumping all over Hank Steinbrenner when Hank said we all need to be patient with the next manager and not expect a World Series out of the box. Raissman says in effect we're all being hypocritical and jumping all over Hank for bringing reality back to the Yankees and setting reasonable goals. He also suggest people are loving to use Hank as a punching bag. I've got a couple of problems with this. Personally, I've been able to ignore the ugly personality of George Steinbrenner because when he was at full strength the Yankees were winning all the time and as their fortunes have faded, he's faded too into old age. Joe Torre has been the face of the Yankees and THAT'S why they've been so beloved for the past decade.

I would LOVE Hank to be sober and sane and behave like an adult with dignity, with the fire to win but the intelligence to realize that EXPECTING to go to the World Series every year is idiotic. I truly wish Hank meant what he said as a return to reality. Unfortunately, in the past two weeks he's made a series of obnoxious, bullying and petty remarks, each one more vile than the last. And he realizes the Yanks have painted themselves into a corner. Next season's team could be much improved. But the moment they lose a few games, the moment the manager stumbles with the media, the second-guessing will begin and it will be intense. The joy of the media if the Yankees DON'T make the post-season will be rapturous and Hank and Hal and George (NOT Cashman because if Cashman had his way Torre would still be manager) wil be pilloried for firing Joe. Unless they go to the World Series, the season will be an abject failure. Every step of the way, the media and the fans will chastise them for behaving like buffoons and showing disrespect to a manager that got them to the post-season 12 years in a row. Hank wants to lower the bar now -- first by insisting the choice of manager is all on Cashman and second by saying they don't REALLY expect to go to the World Series. Three weeks on the hot seat and he's already trying to shift the blame to others.

Friday, October 26, 2007

World Series Music Update

I have to ignore the fact that Boston is up 2-0, even though last night's close game felt as dominant as Game One's rout. So let's talk national anthems. Game One featured composer John Williams (Raiders, Star Wars, Jaws, etc.) with a new arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner." It was appropriately rousing (Wiliams knows how to stir people up), but there seemed an interesting dissonance in some of the middle brass sections that kept it from being rah-rah hyperbole. The sound and dynamics were a little hard to hear -- it seemed a bit off balance to me, but I assume that was due to the acoustics of the stadium and the horrible reverb that classical musicians never have to deal with. I'd love to hear a recorded version of it to truly hear what Williams was going for. But overall a solid piece. James Taylor, on the other hand, was close to a disaster. I don't know how an artist like him can get stuck in the wrong key, but it sure sounded like an awfully uncomfortable one for him. He was flat and missed a word and at one point his eyes looked unfocused and lost, as if he was wondering how in the heck he got where he was musically. The acoustic guitar arrangement seemed lovely and overall if it weren't for the very shaky vocals, it would have been a nice low-key take on the usually chest-thumping song. Too bad his vocals escaped him, much like the strands of hair in the wind that made him look like a static electricity experiment. Love James Taylor, but that was not good. Williams 7 out of 10; Taylor 3 out of 10.

Choice Of New Manger Will Be Blamed On Cashman

So, according to the NYTimes, Hank Steinbrenner says that the family will almost certainly accept the recommendation of Brian Cashman as to who the next manager will be. Really? Brian Cashman is now in charge of making the decision, not Hank and Hal and George? But if Brian Cashman were REALLY in charge, the manager would be Joe Torre. Don't place the blame (or success) of the choice on Cashman. It rests squarely with the Steinbrenners. THEY re the ones making the choice, whether they pretend to accept the recommendation of Cashman or not. This puppy rests with them and to hell with patience -- they fired Torre for not making it to the World Series so anything less is unacceptable and an abject failure by THEIR OWN STANDARD. Period.

Hank Steinbrenner: Don't Expect A World Series in '08

Huh? Hank Steinbrenner is gonna give me agita. I thought as George faded into the sunset that perhaps the sanity and decency and baseball smarts of Brian Cashman and Joe Torre might in fact come to dominate the Yankees completely. It seemed like it until Swindal disappeared.But clearly Hank is going to carry on the worst of George's noxious traits.

In a breathtaking statement, Hank prudently told everyone: F
ans would need to be patient with the new manager.

“I think the most important thing is whoever we hire, give him a chance because he’s not getting the ’96 Yankees,” he said. “He’s getting an even younger team or for the most part a team in transition. Give him a little while.

“We want to win the World Series every year. We’re not stupid enough to think we can do it. Of course, we’d love to win the World Series next year.”
Wha? Joe Torre was fired for not winning the World Series and now we're told the next manager is NOT expected to win the World Series? Do we expect to win the pennant? Joe Torre was fired for not winning the pennant. Isn't that the LEADT they expect? And the team has been in transition for TWO YEARS. In fact, putting aside the question marks of who else returns, the new manager will have a much STRONGER team than Torre thanks to a rotation bursting with exciting young talent, as opposed to Pavano and six game winner Roger Clemens. You should expect MORE from the 2008 team because the team looks stronger.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

George "For The Most Part Is Retired"

That's the unremarkable revelation from Hank Steinbrenner. But since they've been acting as if acknowledging an elderly man's creeping fragility was somehow rude or impossible to admit, this counts as news. Maybe now everyone can stop saying things like George is still George and he's just as fiery and focused as ever, or the more polite Torre framing of the issue. (Torre's lately said that Steinbrenner was basically the same as the last few times they've been together which admits absolutely zero but implies the passage of time quite politely.)

This New York Times article on Hank Steinbrenner paints him as uninterested in working for the Yankees and certainly uninterested in baseball players (he preferred the horses; they don't talk back) until his father was edging towards retirement and upstarts like Steve Swindal seemed to be poised to take over. I'm realizing just how lucky I've been since moving to NYC in 1991 and becoming a passionate fan. Not only did the team become a dynasty and win and win, but they did it with class, something sorely lacking in the George Steinbrenner era.

Hank is picking up right where his dad left off, swaggering and bullying his way through a conversation as only a guy who never actually competed on the field can. (It's like an armchair warrior -- no one is braver than the guy who has never seen battle.) It's the day before the World Series and instead of showing some class and tipping his hat to the Red Sox, Hank acts as if it were the Yankees who mattered. if it weren't for the Yankees, the Red Sox would be just another team. Red Sox Nation? Ha! he admiringly quotes fellow putz Randy Levine who once denigrated the Red Sox for riding the Yankees coattails. And on and on and on he goes. Doesn't he realize the Red Sox are the ones who made it to the World Series and we're sitting at home? Wht right does he have to take away from the Series and mock a competitor who outplayed them on the eve of baseball's most important event? Pure lack of class and Bud Selig should publicly rap his knuckles. Unacceptable. God help me, I think I'm getting ulcers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Randy Levine Cries Boo-Hoo Over Criticism

Randy Levine continues to insist he doesn't mind criticism while weeping and wailing over the criticism he's faced for his role in dumping Joe Torre -- a man Levine adamantly wanted fired and has never suggested otherwise. Levine's latest tirade is his most bizarre. He tells the NYTimes that his biggest critics all have conflicts of interest they didn't disclose and therefore you should take what they say with a grain of salt. Instead of refuting his bizarre assertions, the Times gives them legitimacy. To wit:

1. Levine says John Kruk of ESPN singled him out but didn't mention the conflict of interest: Kruk shares the same agent as Joe -- Kruk says he didn't even mention Levine by name and just criticized the Yankees as a whole. So which is it? Kruk convincingly makes his case. Did the NYTimes check the video or a transcript? There's no debate here. Either Kruk mentioned Levine or he didn't. If he didn't, why is the Times letting Levine attack him?

2. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated criticized the firing of Torre but didn't mention the fact that he'd written a book with Joe a decade ago. Fair enough. Verducci should have mentioned it, though it was a bestseller and widely known and hardly a little known fact; he can hardly be accused of failing to mention an UNKNOWN link to Torre -- he just failed to remind readers of his close relationship with Torre. It's obviously public record to the nth degree. So it would have been better to mention in an aside but hardly damning. Saying Torre and Verducci had "a financial relationship" (a decade ago, mind you) as if it negates what Verducci says is silly.

3. But Levine's first and most prominent complaint is also the most ridiculous -- he says Mike and the Mad Dog (Chris Russo) attacked him but never revealed the fact that Levine has challenged the desirability of simulcasting their radio show on YES. They signed a three year deal that expires next year and know Levine was unhappy with it. They appear on the Yankee-owned YES network. For the love of God, those are all reasons why they would have a conflict of interest in KEEPING QUIET. They're appearing on the Yankee's YES network and criticizing the Yankees. If they had a conflict of interest, it was to keep their mouths shut about Levine and not antagonize him before their contract renewal talks next season. THEY'RE ON YES. The confict is in the pressure to be lapdogs. Speaking up and criticizing DESPITE the problems it could and will cause them is a sign of journalistic independence, not in Levine's topsy-turvy world a sign that their word doesn't count for much. Two guys he wanted fired criticized him and he thinks that's a conflict? That's a sign of courage. Not bringing their contract dispute into the debate was appropriate since it wasn't germane to the issue. They certainly never imagind their critique would get Levine fired so they knew they were making trouble for themselves. Good for them.

Levine is such a putz he doesn't even know what a conflict of interest amounts to; maybe he needs some ethics training? Get used to the boos Levine: Your four biggest deals have all been disasters as far as the fans are concerned.

1. You trumpeted the signing of Randy Johnson -- a disaster and only a fool couldn't have seen that going in.

2. You trumpeted the A-Rod deal -- disaster by your own personal standard of not going to and winning the World Series. You paid top dollar for a player who's never even BEEN to the World Series. God help us if you pay the moon to keep A-Rod in an attempt to appease fans angry over Joe. (Not all Five O'Clockers agree with me on this.)

3. You wanted Torre out and were glad to see him go and worse you helped arrange an offer so simple-minded that Torre made you look like classless schmucks.

4. You are all over the new Stadium, which was clearly designed with no thought for the fans. Cavernous, petty (by squeezing in regular seats in front of the bleachers), stupid (by putting bullpens in FRONT of the fans and keeping the fans farther away from the field), monstrous with no desire for class or elegance or an intimate exciting atmosphere.... As soon as people get a gander at this thing when it's done, you're going to be booed all over again.

I don't boo players but I won't hesitate to boo you. You've failed for seven seasons to put together a winning team. You gave up more of the YES network than you should have to outside investors, costing the Steinbrenners untold tens of millions if not more. You embody al the bad traits of Steinbrenner and you know nothing about baseball. That would be fine for a suit, but you don't KNOW that you know nothing about baseball and that makes you dangerous. Fire yourself.

Mo: Firing Joe Doesn't Matter To Me

Here's the complete quote from Mariano Rivera on Sirius, as quoted by the New York Times:
The Yankees “always give us the best everything, the best players, the best coaching staff,” Rivera said. “I don’t think it has nothing to do with me, in terms of signing with the Yankees.”
Never mind that the Yankees are removing the safety factor of working with the manager you've known for almost your entire career, never mind the loyalty factor, that's just a dumb thing to say as far as negotiations are concerned. Mo clearly isn't an A-Rod when it comes to savvy comments. A-Rod fought with Torre and had at best reached a truce but made it sound like the Yankees had fired his father when they fired Joe. Mo probably had a lot of respect for Torre but makes it sound like he could care less. He was probably just emphasizing again that this is a business and this would be a business decision. (No one expects him to say "You fired Joe? I'm leaving!!!") But it was tactless of him to say. That's some cold-hearted business thinking there. Still think Mo couldn't possibly wear anything but pinstripes?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Go Colorado! Now I have to watch the World Series just to root against the Red Sox. (Thanks for letting me get that -- and the posts below -- off my chest.)

The Coming Dynasty

If I were Torre, the hardest part about leaving would be knowing that the core for a future dynasty was forming at the Yankees. We've spent the last two seasons rebuilding. With Cano and Cabrera, the three young guns coming in to pitch and one or two key acquisitions, the Yankees could be in GREAT shape for a new dynasty akin to the dynasty of the 90s. Of course, now that Torre has left, it might be harder to keep Posada and Mo and Pettitte and dump A-Rod so that dynasty just on the horizon might never arrive. But you could sense it coming and if I were Torre, that might be the bitterest pill of all.

Jeter To Third?

Everyone knows Jeter's mobility is less than in days past and that no one stays at shortstop forever. The best way to replace A-Rod (if God willing he opts out), would be to slot Jeter at third and bring in that hot minor leaguer (Sanchez?) that everyone is high on. Would Jeter do it? Why not? He knows he'll extend his career by going to third or the outfield. He's been the shortstop for 12 seasons. But getting him to switch, heck ASKING him to switch would be a lot easier with Torre at the helm. Just one more complication from dumping Torre this year. Firing Torre last year would have been a lot better from a team perspective.

Actually, Joe, It Was About The Money

Maybe it was symbolic, but still Torre was in fact unhappy about getting a thirty percent pay cut because he saw it as implying he'd done a bad job. I think if Torre had been offered a two year deal at $5 mil per, with an option for a third year at $8 mil, that he might have been offended as well at the implication he hadn't succeeded by getting to the team to the post-season three years in a row. And he would clearly find that $5 mil more offensive if it included a chance to make an extra $3 mil a year by getting to the World Series. Hey. I think incentives are absurd. Jeter gets $18 mil or whatever a year; does he really need an extra $500,000 for winning a Gold Glove or the batting title or ALCS MVP? As an owner, I would as policy object to ALL incentives. The players make a TON of money. Their incentive for all those goals should be the joy of the game and the NEXT contract. Millions of dollars and pride is incentive enough. But Torre didn't object to incentives in his last contract. Maybe because they were ONLY hundreds of thousands, they seemed like minor additions and not "real" incentives like the $1 mil per playoff level in his new one. But would Torre have accepted a pay cut? Doesn't sound like it. It sounds like he would argue -- reasonably -- that getting the team to the playoffs was success, not failure and that his track record speaks for itself. So yeah, it was about the money. And incentives are only insulting when they're really big.

NY Daily News Levine Puff Piece

The NY Daily News ran a puff piece trying to provide cover for the horribly misunderstood Yankee president Randy Levine, the schmuck who has battled with Torre for years, had the gall to hold a press conference in the locker room that threw fuel onto the fire of a tense rivalry with Boston, proudly gave the moon to A-Rod and has been the driving force behind the white elephant, brewing disaster that is the new Yankee Stadium, the corporate friendly venue that looks like a disaster for the average fan. (Levine also announced the brilliant signing of Randy Johnson for way too much money when that cranky bastard was way past his prime -- a decision that didn't even look smart during Johnson's first press conference, much less his first pitcing appearance.)

The article describes Levine as a "fall guy," as if he's hapless and uninvolved. But Levine as had no love lost for Torre for years, Torre in his press conference painted a target on Levine's back by insisting that he had no opinion of the Yankee president (who's been with the team for eight years) and didn't deal with him, and while the Steinbrenners clearly wanted Torre out, Levine urged them on.

In a further bit of absurdity, the article quotes sports business consultant Marc Ganis as saying George Steinbrenner is absolutely in control and on top of things, even if he may be slowing down a bit. This is patently ridiculous, since everyone knows Steinbrenner is extremely aging, couldn't make it through the ground breaking ceremony for the new Stadium he was so frail, has collapsed in public, can't recognize reporters he's spoken with for decades and came to three games all season. Levine also lies and says the Yankees wanted Torre to come back. Please.

Yankees Plan Big A-Rod Push

It's my worst case scenario. The Yanks feel such blow-back from dumping Joe Torre that they give the moon to A-Rod, The NY Post says the Yankees are planning a BIG package. Since Randy Levine hated Torre and he and Hal and Hank are prone to Steinbrenner's moronic view of how to buy championships -- throw big money around -- they're ripe for the plucking by Scott Boras. But why would ANY player resign with the Yankees before a new manager is named? You'd have to be an idiotic if you're Posada or Mo or Pettitte or A-Rod and commit to the Yankees when you don't know who your boss is going to be. Is there any chance they'd do it? Why?

The New Steinbrenner, Just Like The Old Steinbrenner

As George Steinbrenner fades into retirement, one could take hope that a saner, more decent, less obnoxious, less bullying, less...idiotic era might reign at the Yankees. It seemed like Cashman was reinstituting the tactics that had built a dynasty in the Nineties by holding onto young talent and treated people with respect.

Nope. Joe Torre has clearly been winning the PR war -- and skewered any hopes that the Steinbrenners had of pretending they'd made a good faith effort by minutely describing exctly what happened. In short, they gave him a take it or leave it offer and made clear to Torre that they really didn't want him to return. But Torre made them look like schmucks and even people who thought it was time to move on chided Hank, Hal, George (and the schmuck Randy Levine) for not being man enough to tell him they were going to move on to other options. No matter WHAT they felt, the Steinbrenners should have realized they needed a little damage control and someone should have just eaten crow and said, "Gee, we apologize to Joe and any fans who feel we disrespected Joe Torre. He's been a great manager and showed class to the very end." Period. End of story. Doesn't matter if you don't mean it; just say it and hope to cauterize the wound.

Instead Hal Steinbrenner blasted Torre and said in effect "We made him! Ungrateful bum!" The only problem is that Torre already made his gratitude clear again and again, Torre emphasized how lucky he was to work for the Yankees and said so again and again. Hal is gonna give me agita for years to come.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Are The Red Sox Ready To Become The Yankees?

That ain't my headline; it's the headline in the New York Times, which worries about the dangers of getting a "World Series or Bust" mentality. (As opposed to the joys of being hapless underdogs for almost 90 years and NEVER winning the World Series, because we know what charms that held for Boston fans.) The NYTimes uses scary phrases like "With the Yankees empire in decline...." And they wonder whether the Red Sox can adjust to being "despised" like the Yankees were? Huh? That's actually the most notable element of the Torre era (after the rings, of course). The Yankees WERE despised in the Seventies and Eighties thanks to Steinbrenner's bluster, bullying ways, obnoxious circus-like atmostphere, lack of respect for any and all comers and so on. Even Yankee fans didn't really like the Yankees and could only bitch and moan about what a nightmare Steinbrenner was. Torre added a human, likable face to the franchise (increasing its corporate value mightily in the process) and with solid, well-behaved, even admirable players like Bernie, Jeter, Pettitte and Posada symblizing the Yankees (in an era of out of control athletes, drug and sex scandals and steroid abuse), everyone admitted they COULDN'T hate the Yankees any more. The Yankees weren't despised in the 90s; they were loved. Are the Red Sox ready to win multiple World Series rings? Why the heck wouldn't they be? (And yes, that means you should sing A-Rod, Boston. He's the key to your future. Do it!)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Joe Torre Press Conference

Classy, of course. But with some rather pointed remarks. Bitter? Sure sounds like it. The highlights:

Contract incentives -- Torre thought they were an insult. I've never liked incentives either. As an owner, I'd tell a player, I pay you $10 mil a year and you want an INCENTIVE for batting well, getting MVP, going to the post-season? Please.

Randy Levine -- what's Torre think of him? doesn't know the guy. No opinion. He deals with Brian Cashman. Transltion: Levine is a prick.

allies -- maybe one. later Torre stated the obvious and admitted the only person he felt wanted him back was Brian Cashman.

Contract - in short, Torre didn't believe the Yankees wanted him back. He wouldn't get into the machiavellian argument that they crafted a proposal they knew he would reject so they wouldn't look bad. But his main problem was not the money, but the fact that it was for one year. Sounds like he wanted at least two years with an option for a third. refused to get into details about the "concept" he suggested but they clearly weren't interested in negotiating. I;d love to hear him state flatly that a four year, $5 mil per year contract would have been fine. He hinted that it was reasonable for pay to go down since his performance went "down," but then also suggested anyone who thought 12 straight post-seasons was some sort of failure or let down was spoiled.

Bugs - coaching regrets, he mentioned not being proactive about the plague of locusts that descended on Joba.

George's mental healt -- Torre classily said that George and Hal and Hank were working together and running it like a family. When asked specifically about Steinbrenner's mental state, Torre said Steinbrenner was no different than the last few times they'd had lunch/meetings. Translation: George Steinbrenner is basically old and out of it, with problems focusing and concentrating.

Bitter -- I'm not ready to comment. Ouch! Later, he again said he wasn't prepared to comment on whether his dismissal soured him on the Yankees and whether he'd be able to embrace Old Timer's Day, throwing out a pitch, Moument Park, etc. To a degree, I thought this was the typical "hey, I'm not ready to retire yet." But with his repeated refusal to say something politic, I think it's clear Torre thinks he was treated with disrespect and dumped. And for what? Going to the post-season 12 seasons in a row, and being the ONLY team to return to the post-season from 2006.

Players pressing for manager -- wanted to avoid that, felt one year contract would contribute to that. Okay, but with the Yankees your head is always on the chopping block.

Wants to coach -- You bet. He's ready to start talking right now. ready to coach in 2008. Line up and see what you can offer. he doesn't expect the same money, of course. But will definitely want a 3 or 4 year commitment.

clean out his desk? Nope. "I walked out of there; I'm not going back."

Questions I wanted to hear: did Bernie Williams call and say, "Welcome to the club?" Wanted him to reflect specifically on Derek Jeter, just to make him cry.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Example #874 Why Scott Boras Is An Ass

Per ESPN: Scott Boras, the agent for Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, said players would have interpreted an acceptance by Torre as weakness.

"It is difficult, near impossible, to accept a salary cut," Boras said. "Successful people can afford their principles. They understand if they accept the position, there is a great risk the message to all under him is dissatisfaction."

What a schmuck. That's right. Torre would have been the highest paid manager in baseball this season. Indeed, no other manager in history has EVER been paid $5 mil. Plus Torre would be almost guaranteed to get $6 mil since he's reached the post-season every year and $7 mil if he gets to the second round and $8 mil - the most for any manager in history EVER including himself -- and Boras says that he would have been seen as a weak-ass punk and the players would have dissed him because it was a pay cut. So a manager getting a three year deal after winning the World Series four out of five years should NOT get more than a manager booted out of the post-season three years in a row in the first round? Huh? And money always equals respect, no matter what. There's proof if you need it: A-Rod is gonna opt-out. Otherwise, per Boras, A-Rod's a bitch.

Goodbye Torre

Torre rejects a perfectly reasonable offer from the Yankees -- one year as the highest paid manager in baseball with tons of post-season incentives and an option at $8 mil for 2009 if he made it to the World Series in 2008. What did he want? A five year deal? I don't think it was disrespectful or shabby in any way. I don't blame Torre for leaving but I don't blame the Yankees for letting him go. Maybe he felt he had accomplished too much to be on a one-year deal. Tell it to Andy Pettite. I'm very sorry he didn't take this but I believe the team will do better next year thanks to a much stronger starting rotation. HOWEVER, it's gonna be a lot trickier re=signing Posada and Mo and getting Pettitte to stay without Torre's presence. My worst-case scenario is that Torre goes and A-Rod stays. God help us, but this could turn into a very scary off-season.

Larry Bowa as Bench Coach?

Like everyone else, Joel Sherman of the NY Post thinks the Yankees should bring back Torre for basically two years at $4 mil per. His twist is an incentive-laden package for getting to the World Series and winning it all -- personally, this would seem to appease Steinbrenner more than inspire Torre. Most significantly, Sherman thinks Torre needs a spark plug of a bench coach a la Don Zimmer. Hence, he says bring in Larry Bowa from third base and make Don Mattingly manager of triple A for some actual managing experience or let him be some sort of advisor to Cashman and get experience scouting, etc. Is a passive bench coach too similar in mood to Torre a heretofore unexplored problem? The switch makes sense to me, except I'd make the irascible Joe Girardi the bench coach. he's just as fiery, could use the bench experience next to Torre and he's already managed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Torre Still Waiting -- Big Deal

For a second day, the Yankees failed to make a decision about Joe Torre. Good, they're taking their time and realizing there are a lot of ramifications to dumping Torre. (Whether they keep him or bring in Mattingly or Girardi, the team is going to be greatly improved thanks to a starting rotation that looks a lot more promising than any we've had in years.) But let's get one thing clear: it's not disrespectful or rude or cruel to keep Torre "hanging." They haven't dumped him yet and this is supposed to be unfair? In what universe? Don Zimmer acted as if the Yankees were just toying with him; but clearly they haven't made up their minds yet, or rather they haven't come to a consensus yet. Isn't it about time we did? What's your vote? I say sign Torre to a two year, $8 mil deal and make absolutely clear even if they go to the World Series both years in a row that these are his final seasons and they'll bring in someone new. Give him a victory lap at the old and new Stadium, watch attendance increase as love for the old guy blossoms and just print money. What do you say? Should he go and if so who should replace him? Is there a Five O'Clock Lightning consensus?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bleacher Creatures of Section 39 Agog

Here's the most telling comment from the New York Times coverage of Torre Watch: "George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, is seeking a consensus on whether to replace Torre, whose contract expires at the end of the month, and he does not have it yet."

Huh? Steinbrenner wants a CONSENSUS before acting? Any lingering doubts as to whether we've entered a new era are over. The Steinbrenner who uglified the Yankees in the Seventies and Eighties and who made money but turned this glorious team into blustering bullies never needed a CONSENSUS to do anything. I'll give you a consensus, he would have shouted, a consensus of ONE. The only opinion that mattered was his own and his opinion usually meant trading away future talent so he could overpay for aging, over the hill veterans who never delivered. I wish the ailing owner well, but he never did a single thing to build up this team as a franchise, as winners. That only happened when he was legally forced to stay far away from baseball for several years and Gene Michaels and Buck Showalter reasserted baseball smarts, long-term planning and decency into the lineup. If Steinbrenner wants consensus, the likelihood of Torre staying for two more years to welcome the new Stadium has just increased exponentially. Consensus is easiest to get by leaving things the way they are.

Torre's Value To The Yankees -- Not Just Winning

NYTimes columnist Harvey Araton adds Torre's burnishing of the Yankee image to the reasons why the team may keep him a final two years.
Beginning with Torre, they have over the last dozen years achieved the wildly improbable, somehow drawing a genial face on a bully franchise that for years was best known for belligerence, bombast and buying.

How much has that delicate balancing act been worth to the Steinbrenner family fortune? How exactly would striking Torre’s pride and paternalism from the picture as the Yankees close down one stadium next season and open another in 2009 enhance the business?
This is an adjunct to my comment on the posting below about how crazy it would be to consider trading Melky and Cano. Setting aside on-field victories, I think the Yankees have benefitted hugely in the last 12 years from having a core group of players who began their careers with the Yankees and grown up with them. Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and (mostly) Andy Pettitte - we've watched them grow and mature alongside Torre all these years. I think a LOT of baseball teams would be wise to see how loyalty to a core group of players can inspire loyalties in fans. I would much rather go down swinging with guys I've followed all their careers hen go a little farther with hired guns who come and go every few years. I think that core and Torre's calm, positive image, have been a big reason the Yankees have doubled their attendance in the last decade. I want to watch Melky and Cano and Joba and Hughes for the next ten years, too.

Important update in the Torre - Steinbrenner relationship

Impromptu meeting is very awkward

Monday, October 15, 2007

I know he's the enemy, but this is just ridiculous

"Going into Monday's game, Ortiz had reached base 18 out of 23 times in the postseason and equaled an all-time record by getting on base 10 consecutive times between Game 3 of the division series and Game 2 of the ALCS."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2007/news/story?id=3065339

And this is while he's dealing with a debilitating knee injury!!!

Trade Melky Or Cano?

Please tell me no one would be that stupid.
Trading for a player of [Marlin third baseman Miguel] Cabrera's caliber, though, would probably require the Yankees to change that stance and to consider moving young position players like second baseman Robinson CanĂ³ and center fielder Melky Cabrera.

That seems unlikely, but the idea of using Melky Cabrera as a trading chip is intriguing because of the choices among free-agent center fielders: Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand are all right-handed hitters who play outstanding defense.

Do Managers Matter?

Filip Bondy says no:
Managing isn't that complicated. This is baseball. American League baseball. A coach tells you when the pitch count reaches 90. The data sheet tells you how a certain batter has done against a certain pitcher. You inform the first baseman why you're benching him, before you tell the media.

This is no big deal. It's hilarious to read all the concerns out there now about Mattingly's alleged inexperience. The guy played with the Yankees for 14 years. He's coached with them for four years. He's smart. He's steady. You really think he doesn't know when to flash a steal sign, or when to hold a team meeting?

Torre would do just fine, too, if he comes back. His ultimate success will depend on the team's overall makeup, on the young starters' progress.
What say you?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Joba to the rotation

Buried within this article about Torre is the the news that the Yanks are moving Joba to the rotation next year:

"The only thing that's been decided, that we all agree on, is that (Joba) Chamberlain and (Phil) Hughes start out spring training as starters. Our pitching has got to be better next year, the starting rotation." -Hank Steinbrenner

http://lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071013/SPORTS01/710130390/1034/SPORTS

So we're starting off with a rotation of Wang, Hughes, and Joba. That leaves two spots for Pettitte, Moose, Kennedy, and Igawa. We also have one more top pitching prospect that could force his way into the equation by midyear (Alan Horne).

Ideally, Pettitte comes back for one more year, Igawa is moved to the bullpen, and Moose is put out to pasture so that Kennedy can grab the 5 slot.

Hopefully this means Humberto Sanchez will be moved to the bullpen to setup for Mo (I'm not even considering the possibility that he's pitching elsewhere, for the sake of my sanity).

Then we have plenty of organizational depth should any of the starters get hurt (Clippard, Karstens, Wright, Rasner, DeSalvo, etc.).

So considering the Yanks scored more runs this year than any season since the 40's, and they really don't need to do much to bolster the pitching staff, ideally they will focus their offseason efforts on not losing too much offense (i.e. A-Rod, Abreu, and Posada).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Section 39 Bleacher Creatures Angry That The Yankees Lied To Posada and Mo

Everyone else insisted Torre was out the door and Tony La Russa had the U-Haul backing up to Yankee Stadium to deliver his stuff. Only Five O'Clock Lightning argued Torre was actually in a strong position with Mo and Posada and Pettitte ready to walk. Now they've all spoken up for him, the papers are arguing about who could do better as manager and saner heads point out that the Yankees lost because of starting pitching: because Wang had a 19 era and Clemens left in the third and Wang left in the second. No one can manage their way out of bad starting pitching.

And Mo reminds us that the Yankees lied. When the Yankees went against all tradition and bitch-slapped A-Rod by telling the press he needed to negotiate in the middle of the season and not opt-out or they were dumping him, we booed. Why belittle a player having a season like A-Rod and put his back against the wall? A-Rod refused to negotiate and said it was against Yankee tradition and they would talk after the season was over. He behaved with class. When the Yankees got heat -- what about Mo and Posada, everyone asked; are you gonna negotiate with them in the middle of the season against all tradition? Oh yes, said the Yankees, of course we will. We're ready to make a deal with both of them. They lied. They made no attempt to resign either of them, no sincere attempt. And now Mo says watching the Yankees treat Bernie like a chump, seeing them dangle Torre and refusing to re-sign Mo after his elbow problems in 2006, he knows it's a business and will treat it like one. Can't picture Mo in anything other than pinstripes? Think again. And if the Yankees dump Torre, it will make it a LOT harder to re-sign Mo. And Posada. And Pettitte.

How Many More Sports Writers Are Gonna Claim No One Criticizes Jeter And Then Criticize Jeter?

The last two days have been filled with Jeter stories -- full page breakdowns of his every at-bat and miserable failure this post-season, stories saying he let Torre down and didn't come through for the manager, stories insisting no one dares to say a word against him and now today a story dubbing him the Teflon Captain by Mike Lupica. They could at least admit everyone is talking about this rather than pretending they're brave and alone in questioning Jeter.

As so often is the case, real fans are smarter and more realistic about baseball than the blowhards on TV, radio and in the papers. The experts get so angry because fans think so highly of Jeter. His numbers are a joke compared to A-Rod's, his range is falling dramatically, his team hasn't won a World Series in seven (!) years, his numbers this post-season sucked, he hit into numerous double plays and yet fans refuse to badmouth Jeter and gang up on anyone who does. Why? Because the fans are smarter and know you don't measure any player by their performance on any single at-bat, any single game or any single series. You judge them based on their performance day in and day out.

Jeter had a terrible post-season. In context, he got three runs and A-Rod got four. Damon and Cano had five hits. Abreu got four. Cabrera also had three. Posada and Matsui and Duncan had two. Giambia had one. So everyone sucked. A-Rod went 0-5 with runners on base. Jeter got a two-out rbi. They each had one rbi to their credit. No one is happy with anyone's performance.

But fans look for heart. Do players run out every hit? Do they always play hard from game one? Do they play through injuries? Do they make stupid mental errors? (Jeter had one error but friendly scoring didn't charge it against him.) And over the long haul, do they deliver? Jeter has enjoyed almost unparalled success in the post-season, performing exceptionally well in almost every series in the post-season every year for the past 12 years. This is probably his second or third poor series in 20+ post-season series. That's an exceptional record. So if fans got disgusted with Jeter for one poor four game series, they'd be morons. A-Rod's post-season performance for the Yankees is dreadful as everyone knows. This series, a weak one by almost anyone's standard, is practically his post-season highlight for us. (He had one other good series for us in the past four years that actually was good.) But the fans didn't boo him. With the season he had, A-Rod might very well have come alive in the next round.

And of course anyone watching the Yankees knows Jeter has been injured and slowed by his knee for two months now. Jeter doesn't make excuses. But any reasonable observer takes into account his injury, appreciates the fact that he stayed on the field in the second half and played his heart out, leading the team as the captain even when his body was at 80% and more balls got by him than should have. We can see him running slower and slower to first but also know he's running as hard as possible and never complains, never makes excuses, never gives up. The other players take their cue from him and when they don't (Soriano, Sheffield), they're gone. And so we love him. We know in the long-term he comes through in the post-season and that only an idiot would bitch about poor play in one four game series. We know he's been gutting it out despite a serious injury and that heart kept the team battling during a second half when the Yankees dug themselves out of a hole. [Uh, climbed out of a hole? Pete pointed out this mixed metaphor, which I will pretend I intended as an homage to Yogi Berra] Fail to give your all, make dumb mental errors, take it easy, coast on past performances, treat others with disrespect, bitch and moan, take steroids, cheat, behave like a chump on the field and make the Yankees look low-rent and we'll turn on you. Play with class and deliver -- and deliver doesn't mean rings every year, it means performing to your best all season long -- and we'll respect you.

And that's why we love Derek Jeter. Can't wait to see him get healthy in the off-season and have a tremendous year in 2008.

The Knock Against Torre This Post-Season

Okay, little pieces of info are dribbling out about the post-season. I'd say the two biggest knocks against Torre's performance this post-season are playing Wang on three days rest and bringing in Joba in the seventh on Sunday when we had a five run lead. Those are the two big instances I think everyone agrees Torre blew it, right? Wrong. I strongly supported bringing in Wang on three days rest, even though he'd only done it once in his entire career.

But Torre DIDN'T. Torre was overruled by everyone else in the brain trust, according to the papers the last two days. Torre wanted to start Mussina. Now Mussina did poorly in relief and he might have done poorly starting, but what other option did Torre have if not using Wang? I personally would have started Hughes instead of Clemens, but since Hughes came in middle relief on Sunday, he couldn't start Monday. Kennedy had back spasms and wasn't on the roster. So Torre had no one to turn to except Mussina. You can argue all you want about what might of happened, but Torre did NOT want to start Wang and that was a total bust.

Then there was the decision to bring in Joba in the seventh on Sunday when Hughes was doing so great in middle relief. Why not keep Hughes in, he was looking great? I complained just as bitterly as everyone else. Per the NYTimes, the owner's box went ballistic when this happened. Guess what? The Joba rules played a factor. Joba had warmed up earlier in the night when it was a one-run game and Torre thought he would need the reliever. One of the Joba rules still in effect in the post-season said that if Joba tossed, he HAD to come into the game. But still, why in the seventh when Hughes looked great? Hughes did look great but no one on the Yankee roster -- not even Mo -- has been as lights out as Joba in the second half. Me, I've been pushing and arguing that Joba should stay in the bullpen a la Mo in 95 and 96 and the Yankees can end the game with Joba and Mo combining the way Mo and Wetteland did in those two years. Sunday night was a must-win game. If we lose we go home. Torre brought in his best pitcher for the 7th and 8th inning, despite a 5 run lead and it paid off. Joba gave up one meaningless run, handed the ball to Mo and we won the game. if Joba pitched poorly or we lost the game or it wasn't a do or die situation, you could argue Torre did poorly. But he HAD to bring in Joba and why bring in your best pitcher for only one inning when you can bring him in for two? Five runs is nothing these days in baseball, even in the post-season.

I would argue Torre should have started Hughes instead of Clemens and that Torre should have rested Jeter and used Bettemit on Monday and can you imagine the abuse he would have received if he'd done that? But the two biggest knocks against Torre's post-season decisions -- Wang and Joba -- were partially taken out of his hands thanks to Joba rules and being overruled. He was right both times.

Top Prospects This Off-Season -- Steal Mike Lowell?

Joe sent a great link to the top prospects this off season and mentioned Mike Lowell of the Red Sox for first base. I see him as a potential third baseman, though he clearly had a career high at the plate and a career low in errors in the field. Anyone know his mental makeup and what kind of guy he is? Problems? Injured two years ago, I assume based on his numbers? Good team player? Seems to struggle in the post-season and sucks against lefties.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Matsui

Funny 2003 story about Hideki Matsui on the cusp of making his MLB transition, including his "much vaunted porn collection" (10th, 13th paragraphs).

Torre For One More Year?

Why bring in Tony La Russa for two or three years? If you're just going to tread water before committing to Don Mattingly or Joe Girardi, why not stick with Torre? Here's my thinking. The Yankees have too many key players that could walk if they dump Torre -- or at least demand the moon. Between Mo and Posada and Pettitte, Torre is too important in keeping them. Plus we've got one more year at the Stadium. Why not give Torre a one year deal ? They can say, we want Torre to close out the era at this Stadium. Having him walk into the sunset along with the Stadium makes good sense, fires up the players to win one for the Gipper, gives a huge incentive to those key players to stick around and provides a marketing bonanza for the team. If we actually win the World Series, he can leave on top or they can always change their mind and say, "More Torre!" It would be classy AND good for business.

A-Rod Is Gone

Scott Boras has made clear that A-Rod is going to opt out. The Yankees have made clear that if A-Rod does opt-out, they're not going to pursue him. I believe them both. I've seen A-Rod at his best (this season) and worst (last season) and I'll be glad to see him go and use that $30 million a season in a lot more productive ways. We'll never replace those numbers and we don't need to. And as Cashman and the brothers take control, they've been smart about spending big money on the draft (where it amounts to pennies, really) and holding on to prospects. That's the way to build a great team. Swallowing A-Rod at $30 mil a year for ten years is not. That figure doesn't include the high maintainence costs. (Buying A-Rod is like buying a really expensive, luxurious apartment with a mortgage you can just barely afford -- and then realizing you also have to pay a maintainence fee which is almost as much as the rent on your LAST apartment. Suddenly you've got a nice home and a doorman but you feel trapped. God help you if the fridge breaks down.) Since Abreu is the only outfielder that can be dropped (Matsui and Damon are locked in), he's going to go as well. Plus, no more Roger Clemens at $18 mil. That's $64 million to play with right there and really the only one that has to be replaced is third base. Think we can find a decent third baseman...and some pitching...and a young catcher...for $64 mil, which is the payroll for a number of teams? We can lower our payroll and get stronger next year. Now if only there were a way to dump Giambi and his damnable $21 million.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Joe Torre Holds A Lot Of Cards

I'm not saying Joe Torre will be back. I'm not even saying our beloved manager should be back. I'm just saying that Joe Torre is in a much stronger position than it appears right now and probably a lot stronger than last season.

1. George Steinbrenner is increasingly frail and mentally unsound -- He came to exactly three games this season (assuming he was there last night). He frequently is unable to recognize reporters he's known for decades. A reporter making a sleazy uninvited visit to Steinbrenner's home found him disorientied and confused. Exactly how much power does Steinbrenner weild anymore? Not much, I'd say. And Brian Cashman strongly supports Torre and Steinbrenners sons taking the reins fully for the first time in 2008 might well prefer the stability of keeping Torre.

2. Torre made clear he wants to keep coaching -- The Yankees might want to dump Torre, but do they really want to see him coaching somewhere else. Imagining someone as your competitor is a great way to suddenly appreciate the person you have on your staff.

3. A-Rod, Rivera, Posada and Pettitte -- all these players can walk away from the Yankees and anyone who thinks Rivera and Posada in particular couldn't possibly wear anything but pinstripes? Take a look at Johnny Damon in the outfield. All of them are linked to Torre in one way or another. If the Yankees dump Torre, they might cause a domino effect of players leaveing en masse. Their loyalty may very well be to Torre. Why stay in New York is the Yankees dump their manager? Posada wants a four year deal. If Torre stays, he might hold Posada's hand and reassure him. Without Torre, Posada loses that comfort zone. Rivera said very bluntly yesterday that the Yankees could have resigned him before the season. It's a business and I'm going to treat it like one, is what Rivera said. (Praise Jesus!) Andy Pettitte has made very clear Torre's departure would weigh heavily on him when deciding whether to reup. And then there's A-Rod. He's worth his own post. But when he finally develops a decent relationship and comfort level with Torre after four seasons, if the manager is fired that wil definitely be one more reason for A-Rod to opt out and check the waters. So Torre is fired, Pettitte walks, Posada gets a four year deal elsewhere that the Yankees won't match, Rivera decides it doesn't look like fun in New York anymore (and the Yankees foolishly decide they've already got Joba so why bother) and A-Rod says, huh, exactly what team am I remaining loyal too? If the Yankees keep Torre, they keep Pettitte (a huge part of stability and their only proven post-season winner among the lineup of Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Joba and Mussina -- that looks a lot iffier without Pettitte). They keep Posada with a three year deal. They keep Mo.

Yep, it's easy to see how dumping Torre could have a disastrous effect on negotiations with all those players. Maybe Torre isn't in such a weak spot as it seems. But do the Yankees realize that?

Section 39 Bleacher Creatures Vent Over Season

Vincent wrote:

AS MUCH AS I ENJOY HANGING OUT WITH YOU GUYS AT "YANKEE" GAMES,
I must tell you that I'm so disappointed in their failure to advance past Cleveland,
that I "will not" be able to spend as much time going to the 2008 games as I did this, and past seasons.

I attend "Yankee" games expecting them to at least compete for a pennant. If I
continue supporting this level of failure, I'll eventually betray myself, and each of
the principles that are my foundation. I don't want to be a Cubs like fan, or a
Clipper like fan, or a Red Sox fan (pre 2004), sitting there beside Neil, behind
Larry, hoping, longing, for success.

I enjoy sitting in the bleachers with each of you, and the other characters that
inhabit Section 39, like Mr. Matsui, the guy who walks across to bow to him,
Wild Ass Jessie, the "Let's Go" guy, Whelan the Cop, The Two Tony's, the
cowbell guy, Security Chief Terrance, the "big guy" and his daughter, Nannette's
friends, Mike's friends, Colin's friends, Neil's friends, and so on and so on, which
makes typing this note so very hard. However, I look forward to the planned
events that I'm invited to, hosted by some of you, that take place at venues
other than "Yankee Stadium."

I APPRECIATE THE FELLOWSHIP!
I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND!

I WAS THE ONE WHO PUT ALL THAT STUFF IN
NANNETTE'S POCKETS, NOT LARRY OR COLIN


VINCENT "a really "pissed" off Yankee fan"


Colin wrote:

We're all depressed right now and deal with it in our own way. But
we're all true Yankees fans and even with as much as it hurts right
now we'll be out there next year cheering our brains out expecting to
win the World Series. Its what we do. We're Yankees fans. It's why I'll
probably get fired for missing most of the day tomorrow (I mean
today).

And as painful as it is we MUST cheer for the Indians with everything
we got to keep those devils in Boston from winning.

-COLIN


Neil wrote:

VINCENT!!! How dare you bail the day after a loss such as this. true, this is the end of an era as we bid farewell to Joe Torre etal. However, the future looks extremely bright for the Yankees. With Hughes, Joba, Kennedy and a healthy Humberto Sanchez the Yankee pitching staff could be conceivably dominant over the next 5-10 years. Yankee fans by and large are not front runners. We stick with our team through thick and thin. We are not the faux Bulls, Lakers, Steelers and Cowboys fans of the 80's and 90's. We are real fans. Although I am deeply dissapointed by this loss I am encouraged by the fact that the neccassary changes will be made and that the Yankees will return to glory in 2008 and beyond. So, Vincent, as much as I love you like a brother, I am going to differ you with you here. You are purely venting your frustrations and I understand totally. I know as well as you do that you will be back next year, in section 39 Row HH in Seat 4 ( Seat 3 is mine, son!!!) hoping and praying that we will find a way to beat the Red Sox. Now go pull yourself together and get ready for some NETS basketball, this could be the year!!! Remember I said that. Have a great winter everyone, it's been a blast eating chicken wings and gummy worms with you. Oh and as for the poor suckers who sit in front of me (row GG) remember Jo Jo will be 4 next year, bigger, stronger and with a much harder kick and I'll be bringing him to more games!!! LOL stay in touch!


Neil


Colin wrote:

I wrote an email along these lines last night at approximately 2:30
when I finally got back to my parents house, and the damn program
locked up and I was too depressed to start over.... So Neil, well
said!

Vincent, suck it up... we're all in pain right now...

Neil keep seating in seat 3 so Jo Jo won't be beating me up during
Sunday games and Vincent won't be squirting mustard on me...

See ya'll in 5 months and 22 days...

-COLIN


Michael wrote:

Well said, everyone. George Steinbrenner says any season the Yankees don't win the World Series is a failure. That is ridiculous -- no team has ever won the pennant every season and always competed for and won the World Series. If they did, the game would be boring. The dynasty of the mid 90s was exciting and special because that rarely happens. That's why it was a dynasty that will go down akin to the Yankees of the 20s and 50s as one of the great teams of all time.

My personal standard is that with the money the Yankees spend, it's reasonable for Steinbrenner to expect the Yankees to make the post-season. Then all I hope for is a well-played series. This too is pretty ridiculous. Going to the post-season 12 or so years in a row is a huge accomplishment, not something you can demand. A fan supports their team in good times and bad. That's not a betrayal of principles -- that's a demonstration of principles.

As Neil said, this was a rebuilding year and we STILL got to the post-season. We're seeing the changing of the guard with new and exciting young players like Melky (who Cashman idiotically had riding the bench when the season began) and Cano coming into their own, position players like Andy Phillps and Doug M. coming through when given a chance and of course so much promising young pitching from Hughes, Kennedy, Joba, Ohlendorf and the rest. And then of course veterans like Derek and Posada and Pettitte and Wang and Mo, as well as Matsui and Damon and the hired guns Abreu and A-Rod. We've got a great core to build on next year and a lot to be excited about -- especially since Steinbrenner's philosophy of torching the future to try and win today is dead and gone.

Besides, Vince, you're gonna make Nannette angry and you wouldn't like her when she's angry.

Michael

Larry wrote:

Hey Vin Man,

Man do you sound pissed off!! Don’t blame you. It was pretty disgracefull they way the yanks could not get passed the Indians after beating them 6 times in the regular season. I agree, this is not the October team we all grown to know and love. But a new era is coming so suck it up and get with it. You can’t tell me you won’t show next year because knowing you you won’t be able to stay away. We are die hard Yankee fans who are there rain or shine cheering the team on. What we need is some more younger hungrier guys and better pitching. So have a good winter and I will see in Section 39 seating behind me (unless of course I see you at a planned event that we are invited to during the off season) so don’t be a psudo fan and jump on the bandwagon only when the team is doing well.


Larry

Michael wrote:

Vincent, does it mean anything that the Yankees are the ONLY team to return to the post-season from last year? So if you were rooting for any other team in baseball, you wouldn't even have gone this far two years in a row?

Michael

Vincent wrote:

IT MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
YOU'RE NOW LOOKING FOR SMALL, NOMINAL ACHIEVEMENTS!

The Yankees should be playing this Friday against "The Red Sox!"
Win or Lose, That's the World Series!
Arizona, Colorado, and Cleveland are playing, and we're not going back to "YS"
until April, unless we do a drive by. "You've got to be kidding me!"

VINCENT.

Michael wrote:


You have to acknowledge that your expectations are not just unreasonable but historically absurd. The Yankees are the most successful franchise of any sport in the world. In history. And that success is not in the distant past. It's very current. What team can you root for if you demand that they ALWAYS get to the finals? What basketball or football or socceer or cricket or baseball or hockey or NASCAR or any other sport you want to name? Who has that record? No one. It's never happened. Ever. The Yankees offer more success year in and year out than any other team in any other sport. Besides, baseball isn't just about the World Series. It's all the characters in the stands you described in your first email. It's watching young players grow and develop like Leche and Cano. It's following superstars like Derek Jeter day in and day out and knowing he always gives 100% even when his body can't, even when his team fails. The Yankees went 18 years between World Series -- from 1978 to 1996. My God, what did you do then? No team, heck no musician, no writer, no film director, no stage actor -- no one in any field of any sort can ALWAYS deliver ultimate success every time out. If they did, it would be meaningless. Who do you admire in any field? There's no chance they ALWAYS achieve 100%. Don't be a Steinbrenner. (Ouch, that's too cruel.) Expect the best but don't abandon your team, especially when they succeed so much more than any other team in any other sport that fans who don't love the Yankees can only shake their heads in astonishment at our angst. They laugh when we talk about it being so long since our last World Series victory. And rightly so. It hasn't been long, not by a long shot. Not by any standard -- even our own. Go Yankees.

Michael

Vince writes:

YOUR REBUTTAL WAS QUITE FLUID, BUT LACKED SEVERAL POINTS!
POINT # 1. The "Yankees" beat Cleveland six (6) games this season. Three (3) times when they were really sucking, early in April! It's not too much to ask for three (3) more wins, even if they were needed in the "post season."

POINT # 2. If you were describing a scenario where the league's talent and competition was so intense, with teams at full strength, fighting it out til game 162, your argument would also be valid! Check it; LA? DEADED (SWEPT IN THE POST)! DETROIT? DEADED! SEATTLE? DEADED!
POINT # 3. From the end of May til the end of September, the "Yankees" overcame a 14.5 game deficit. That's what the "Yankee" aura, the "Yankee" mystic is all about!

THESE POINTS ARE WHY "I" / "YANKEE" FANS EXPECTED A LITTLE MORE!

NOTE: I don't sit out there for 60 / 70 plus games hoping for the future. Fans filled with that type of hope go to Staten Island, not the Bronx. I expect the team's "GM" and scouts, and hierarchy, and powers that be, Steinbrenner(s), Cashman, Tina the Bleacher Matriarch, Ken Sunshine, the Swindell guy, or whoever is taking care of that future stuff, to take care of that future stuff, to keep me / us there, coming back on the regular! That's what a great organization is all about. Being concerned about now and the future, all at the same time! Covering every base, all at the same time!
You want me to bring "rosary beads" and a "rabbit's foot" to the game, instead of "gummy worms"
and "imported lite beer!"
The "Yankee" aura is built upon success!
It's built on wins! 26 and 39!
LOSING SUCKS!
YANKEE FANS EXPECT! OTHER TEAM'S FANS HOPE!

I could even deal with losing to "The Sox" (NOT) for the pennant in six (6) or seven (7), than getting stamped by Cleveland in four (4). At least on paper, you should get a damn good show / great theatre! THINK BACK! AARON BOONE!

VINCENT


Michael writes:

Vincent makes a great point. This post-season WAS disappointing. I often say I expect to go to the post-season (which is a crazily high standard no other team in history can match) and once there I expect a great series. I can't complain about losing to a team (even a sweep) if they are exciting, well-played games. The Yankees did NOT deliver an exciting, well-played series against the Indians. Not even close. The starting pitching was terrible and the bats were dead. Even my beloved Derek Jeter had a terrible series. And so yes, this post-season was a bitter disappointment. I expect better. We all expect better. Not a constant stream of ALDS victories and a World Series every other year. But exciting, well-played games. We got ONE exciting well-played game on Sunday (and not just because we won). All the other games were badly played and frustrating. That's a great reason to be angry and expect better. And it might be a good reason for retiring Torre if you think the players are too complacent. But it is not a reason for swearing off the team for good and for staying away. Like I tell people about politics, if you don't vote you can't complain about the President. And if you don't go to the games and support the team, you can't bitch about how they perform. And don't the players who do always deliver their heart and soul -- like Jeter -- deserve your support? Didn't Don Mattingly deserve all the love in the world when he kept the lights on in the Eighties and Nineties during the horrible years when Steinbrenner was in complete control and trashing our beloved franchise, when we went 18 years between World Series victories and yet Mattingly played his heart out and reminded us of what the Yankees once were and could be again? Keep the faith.

Michael

Monday, October 8, 2007

Time For Torre To Go...After We Win The World Series

Torre is too wedded to the guys that got him glory in the 90s. Is there anyone who thought Clemens would go five solid innings? Nope. As I predicted, he was out in the third, broken down, old and in the way. What good is experience if your body is in shambles? Jorge Posada looked into the eyes of Clemens and saw there was nothing left. I got the same impression and I was about fifty yards away in the right field bleachers. Unfortunately, what should have happened next didn't -- they should have taken Clemens out back and put him down, like a noble racehorse that had broken its legs. Phil Hughes should have started this game (and frankly if Kennedy were fit, he should start in place of Mussina). If Torre tries to start Clemens in the next round instead of putting him in the bullpen, he will turn misguided loyalty into stupidity. There is no way Clemens can start in the next round after sucking in mid-September and early October. The same goes for trying to squeeze in both Giambi and Matsui. If you wanted to DH Matsui, you should have sat Giambi, especially the way Doug M. has been batting. Finally, why didn't Phil Hughes come back out for another inning? Bringing in Joba when Hughes looked good was a mistake. Hughes should at least have started the inning. Joba and Mo came through but they'll be far less effective on Monday.

Speaking of Monday, let the kids play and the old men watch. Let's win one.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Section 39 Bleacher Creatures Say "Go Yankees!"

We've got 'em right where we want 'em -- lulled into a false sense of security and headed into Yankee Stadium. All we have to do is win tonight's game. One game. We can do it. We love playing from behind apparently. We play today we win today. Any other cliches you'd like to offer before tonight's game?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I Can Hear Jesse Now...

"Jorge Posada is a piece of s#$t!!!!"

People talked about the gnats (rightly), Joba's "disintegration" (wrongly), and A-Rod's inability to get a hit (stupidly -- NO ONE was hitting and at least his last at-bat was solid). But I watched the entire postgame coverage on YES and maybe I missed it but I didn't see one replay of Jorge's disastrous, game-changing plays during Joba's outing when he failed to block a wild pitch, letting Sizemore -- great porn name, by the way -- score the tying run on a ball that didn't get very far away from Posada at all.

Grady of course became the tying run that sent us into extra innings. If we get that out, the entire game changes. Did I watch a different game than the broadcasters? They didn't show it or his other travails behind the plate on replay. They didn't discuss it at all. Meanwhile, I'm certain fellow Section 39 Bleacher Creature Jesse was cursing Jorge with bodily harm. And rightly so.

Okay, so we need to win Sunday. Can Clemens go "deep," by which I mean five innings in his case? And if we do win, surely the Indians will use Sabathia on short rest to win game four and try to end it with their ace rather than risking a terrible pitcher and heading back to Cleveland? If we would use Wong (and we probably will in Game Four) why wouldn't they use Sabathia? Does he have some history of pitching terribly on short rest?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pick Your Poison

So, who do you want to face? Boston or the Angels? Josh Beckett sure looked dominating tonight -- the Yankees can only hope one of our starters goes six or maybe seven quality innings A nine innning shut out is a pipe dream, especially since Hughes won't be a starter. As for Clemens, I only hope he gets through the first. So the Angels or the devils in Boston? Pick your poison.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Post-Season Schedule Here

Most games start in the afternoon or early evening for most teams, except for some west coast games, which start at 7 p.m. or so, PST. The Yankees schedule:

Game One at Cleveland 10/4: 6:30 p.m.
Game Two at Cleeland 10/5: 5:00 p.m.
Game Three at New York 10/7: 6:30 p.m.
Game Four at New York 10/8: 6:00 p.m.
Game Five at Cleveland 10/10: 5:00 p.m.

We have the most consistently sane schedule. Imagine, little kids (and adults) can actually watch the post-season games without falling asleep at work or school the next day. Were they actually thinking of the fans when devising this or is it just a matter of squeezing in all these games on the same days? The latter, I fear. We'll know the truth once the World Series schedule comes out and I'll be as shocked as anyone if those 8:27 p.m. start times get lowered to a more sane 7:05 start time. But don't hold your breath. There's money to be made, even if it means little kids get ignored and adults are bleary eyed with exhaustion.

Oh and my post-season ticket policy is that my guests must pay for their tickets. I gotta find $1600 to pay for NEXT season's tickets come January so that money is one way to start.

Fire Willie Randolph?

Get serious. Step back for a moment and see what Randolph has done in the past two seasons. He took a losing team and got them above .500 last season and a few outs away from the post-season this year. He did it despite the Wilpons' refusal to show him any respect. Randolph was brought in on the cheap and they acted as if they should be canonized for doing so, they refused to let Randolph name his coaches (which I consider the baseline for respect and the ability for a manager to do his job with confidence -- Randolph got to name one coach and that guy was quickly fired), and the front office brass kept coming into the clubhouse and lending players their ears, whittling away at Randolph's standing with the team to the point where he had to complain about it. (They ignored him.) All this after years of being treated like the token black interview so teams that had no intention of hiring him could claim they spoke with minority candidates. So sure, you could argue Randolph should have refused to sign on without getting to name his coaches (most coaches would resign rather than accept that situation), but after years of being treated with disrespect and seeing his chance to manage slipping away, Randolph clearly felt the need to accept any position, however humiliating. And he succeeded. Steady, major improvement the first two years. Let's see what he does next year. But if this collpase means even less power and control for Randolph (when he should be given more commensurate with a major league manager), they'll just fire him next year and blame him for what can mostly be ascribed to bad deals and weak pitching, even though they forced him to manage with one hand tied behind his back. As the beloved Joe Torre says, it starts with pitching and Randolph didn't have it. Or respect.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Talent Is Overrated

Amen to that -- stat happy fans who stare at box scores and play fantasy baseball and tell me that Jeter isn't clutch and that there's no such thing as clutch anyway (batting average with runners in scoring position in the 7th or later inning when down by two, sure. But "clutch?" Please.) and scoff at my suggestion that losing Andy Phillips was a blow in more ways than one and scoff even more at my belief that a great team is not simply a collection of all-stars and that in fact a team of all-stars might be ideally suited NOT to succeed in the post-season, well here's Phillies general manager Tom Gillick per the NYTimes.
Gillick said that for many years he felt that talent was everything. But he said after watching Philadelphia overcome injuries and other adversity this season and overtake the Mets, he had concluded that talent was overrated.

Talent is important, he said, but what is more important is mental toughness, character, passion and the desire to win.

“These are things that cannot be measured,” he said.
Again, amen to that.