Monday, February 28, 2011
Apparently, Beltran was the one who approached Terry Collins about making the switch. So Beltran comes off well for initiating the move, while the new manager deserves credit for a smooth transition.
Compare this situation to last summer, when Beltran returned to the lineup. Jerry Manuel not only put Beltran back in center field, but batted him cleanup. Manuel's moves coincided with the Mets, eight games over .500 at the All-Star break, collapsing right after that. Beltran hit .204 in July and .227 in August with two homers - not exactly cleanup material. And he was clearly not his old self in center field.
At this point, it doesn't matter if Manuel or Beltran or both deserve blame for the poor decisions of last summer. In 2011, both Beltran and Collins deserve credit for helping this Met team make a fresh start and create some positive feelings around the team for a change.
Happy Birthday, Squawker Lisa!
Saturday, February 26, 2011
However, the press release announcing single-game sales includes the August 5 promotion but leaves out any mention of Reyes:
The Mets also announced more than 60 promotional days for the 2011 schedule. Highlights include Mr. Met bobblehead day on April 8, Ike Davis bobblehead day on July 19 and Fiesta Latina night on August 5.
Was Reyes left out of the press release intentionally? Who knows, but I'll be curious to see if his name remains in the promotions list.
The first spring telecast did suggest that Reyes remains an important part of the team's marketing, since he was the first player shown in the opening graphics.
As for the other promotions, at least Mr. Met and Ike Davis are unlikely to be traded.
We've heard a lot of spin all winter about how the Mets' financial situation won't affect the product on the field. But now that's even harder to believe. Not when all the money coming off the payroll after this year will now have to go to paying off debt.
Any big-market team with a Jose Reyes would have re-signed him by now. But the chances of that happened just sank even lower.
I would still like to believe that Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo will be judged on their ability to contribute, not on their contracts. But how will it look if a team that had to borrow $25 million sheds two players making a total of $18 million? It shouldn't matter, but then again, if it really didn't matter, this dead weight would already be off the team.
Last year brought a burst of hope when the Mets signed Jason Bay. But the good feeling, at least among those of us that thought it was a good move at the time, didn't last very long, with the unexpected news that Carlos Beltran was undergoing knee surgery.
Then when spring training started, Reyes returned, only to go down with a thyroid issue.
Met fans might still be better off than Cardinals fans this spring. Adam Wainwright is irreplaceable, and losing him could ultimately lead to losing Albert Pujols. But not by much. The Mets have lowered expectations so much that we are expected to be satisfied with a team that manages to finish over .500.
Actually, finishing over .500 might be fine if it were a steppingstone to competing in 2012 with a roster revamped with all the money coming off the payroll. But what are the chances of that now?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
It's an infamous story -- I once wrote an article for the Daily News looking back on the incident -- but is it really worthy of a movie? Especially when the people involved in the story - most notably Kekich, who changed his name, don't want a film to be made about it? And especially when it's going to be made by Yankee-haters? I think not.
And you can forget about Affleck being fair and balanced here. This is what he told MTV.com last fall about the movie:
"I've come to have a little more respect for the Yankees. There are some of those guys, I have to say, that look like good guys," Affleck admitted, but quickly added, "But as an institution? Disdain. Contempt... We couldn't talk about... and Jeter has another great year! Nope. Guys f---ing each others' wives -- that's those Yankees."Oh, please. I find it hard to believe that somebody who has worked in Hollywood for two decades would be so shocked over this story. Besides, is what the Petersons and Kekiches did any more odious than Affleck foisting "Gigli" upon the world? Not to mention his work in "Jersey Girl," "Surviving Christmas," and "Daredevil." Oh, and the Aflac duck would have done a acting job in "Pearl Harbor" than Affleck did!
Aside from the fact that Damon and Affleck are not bloody likely to get cooperation from the team (and I don't see the franchise allowing them to portray the players as Yankees -- expect them to be called The Generals or something else,) I don't quite get who the audience is going to be for the movie. What Bombers fan is going to see a movie mocking the team, and made by Red Sox fans? And, for that matter, how many Boston fans are going to watch a film about Yankee pitchers? It's the problem Selena Roberts ran into with her book -- A-Rod fans wouldn't want to read it, but neither would A-Rod haters want to spend the time hearing about him for hundreds of pages.
Besides, as one of my Facebook friends notes, didn't Hollywood already delve into the wife-swapping fad with "The Ice Storm"?
The snarky side of me sez that if Affleck wants to make a movie about unsavory aspects in baseball history, maybe he can start with bringing to the big screen Howard Bryant's Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, which reportedly talks about Sox owner Tom Yawkey's profane reaction to Jackie Robinson getting a tryout with the club.
But on a more positive note, why not make a biopic on Red Sox star Ted Williams' life? He hit homers, flew fighter jets, and had an undeniable charisma. It's unfortunate that some remember him more for being frozen than for his great life. How many sports figures have gotten movies, but Williams hasn't? If Affleck and Damon made a film about Teddy Ballgame, even I would go to see it!
What do you think? Tell us about it!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
By the way, I checked today's Chicago Sun-Times to see if Bill Zwecker, the Chicago Sun-Times gossip guy who reported that some anonymous insider claimed A-Rod "really went ballistic" after being seen on camera at the Super Bowl, would have a followup to the story. After all, Rodriguez isn't exactly known for a poker face (or for being a convincing actor), and he seemed pretty pleased recounting the story yesterday, directly contradicting Zwecker's claims. "I thought it was humorous," A-Rod said. "Who would be upset about getting fed popcorn?"
Anyhow, I didn't expect much from Zwecker as a followup, given that the columnist didn't even try to ask for A-Rod's side of the story in the first place. And there was nothing at all today on the Sun-Times' site about what Rodriguez said, although the sports department did have an article about Hank Steinbrenner's mansion-building comments.
Funny thing is, though, that Zwecker, whose source claimed A-Rod "really went ballistic" over being shown on TV, also used the word "ballistic" again in a column today about Miley Cyrus' supposed reaction to her father's disparaging interview in GQ, writing that Billy Ray's criticism of her show "Hannah Montana" is what "really made her go ballistic, according to sources close to the young superstar."
This got me curious as to how often Zwecker, or one of his anonymous sources, uses the word "ballistic" to describe a celeb's behavior. So I did a Nexis search of his Chicago Sun-Times columns, and found that word in Zwecker's column several dozen times. Now, it's one thing if a writer uses the same favorite words over and over, the way I use "good grief," "sheesh," and "puh-lease." But I do find it interesting that Zwecker's anonymous sources also use the word "ballistic" to describe anger. Here are some examples:
* An anonymous source told Zwecker that Cybill Shepherd had "gone ballistic" over her son's arrest -- January 14, 2010
* An anonymous source told Zwecker that Gerald Butler "went ballistic" over being linked romantically to Lindsay Lohan -- November 5, 2009
* An anonymous source told Zwecker that David Letterman "went ballistic" when a Letterman staffer moved in with the man who later reportedly blackmailed him -- October 8, 2009
* An anonymous source told Zwecker that LeAnn Rimes' new boyfriend Eddie Cibrian's wife Brandi Glanville went "completely ballistic" over the reported affair -- July 23, 2009
* And an anonymous source told Zwecker that Ryan O'Neal "went ballistic" when his son Redmond was arrested -- April 7, 2009
All quotes taken from a Nexis search of Zwecker's Chicago Sun-Times' columns.
What do you think? Tell us about it!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Here's the full Hank quote:
"I think, maybe, they celebrated too much last year," Steinbrenner said Monday. "Some of the players, too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that."
I think Yammering Hank can forget an invite to St. Jeterburg's housewarming party!
Now, do I think the building of Jeter's new home was a distraction for him? Absolutely not -- it's not like he was at the property with a hardhat hammering nails or something.
However, I do think that the 2010 Yankees were a little complacent, especially evidenced by Joe Giradi lah-de-dahing the last few months into a Wild Card, when they should have won the division. You keep the pedal off the metal for too long, sometimes it's hard to get the engine going again.
And I do think Jeter should have asked for help from Kevin Long months before. Instead, he spent literally half the season in the hitting doldrums before finally approaching the hitting coach in mid-September. Was that complacency or pride? Maybe a little of both. But I have been predicting a big 2011 for Jeter, with the Angry Jeter taking over.
That wasn't all Hank said today -- he compared revenue sharing and luxury tax money to socialism and communism!
"We've got to do a little something about that, and I know Bud wants to correct it in some way," Steinbrenner said. "Obviously, we're very much allies with the Red Sox and the Mets, the Dodgers, the Cubs, whoever in that area."
"At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor," Steinbrenner said. "Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."
The funniest part of this wasn't him getting all Milton Friedman here. No, the thing that made me chortle was comparing the Yanks as being the same boat as the Mets! Heh.
What do you think? Tell us about it!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I'm of two minds about Joba. On the one hand, I think the Yankees did him a tremendous disservice with moving him from the bullpen to the starting rotation and back. And I think it was ridiculous for Brian Cashman to characterize anybody who disagreed with the Yankees' strategy as "stupid."
However, there's also some real questions, I think, about Chamberlain's work ethic. And showing up to spring training packing on a few extra pounds doesn't help. If you're working in a cubicle farm, it doesn't matter how much you weigh. But if you're a professional athlete struggling to keep his job, you might want to take a cue from your veteran teammates and show up in shape. Or at least pitch well enough so that your weight isn't an issue.
When I slammed the Yankees last month for the way they handled Joba, I got a lot of responses from Yankee fans who were angry at Chamberlain for his work ethic, for him not being in shape, etc. and who felt that he was the only one to blame for his predicament.
On the other hand, it seems like the Yanks have let him get away with that for a long time; it's interesting that only now Cashman mentions using the minor league options with Joba when he flat-out last year said they wouldn't do it.
Wally Matthews made a point I have wondered about myself when he wrote:
Fans ask me all the time if the Yankees know something about Joba Chamberlain that the rest of us don't, some unflattering bit of information that makes them continue to treat him as if he is fragile, or unstable, or in some way unreliable.
Clearly, they know the Joba Chamberlain who chose to reveal himself on Wednesday: the 25-year-old who already knows so much about pitching he no longer needs to bother with the little things anymore.
Like getting in shape.
I don't expect to hear the inside story, if there is one, anytime soon, though. Heck, I'm still waiting to hear how A.J. Burnett got that black eye!
What do you think? Tell us about it!
Nobody cared much at the time when the Mets cut ties with Valdez, Schneider and Figueroa after the 2009 season. Who knew if these players would even make an MLB roster in 2010. Yet all three ended up contributing to the Phillies' fourth straight division title.
Valdez, filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins, started 50 games at shortstop. Schneider took over the backup catcher role, starting 38 games behind Carlos Ruiz. Both Valdez and Schneider did well enough that the Phillies are bringing them back this season.
After putting up a 4.09 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 70 innings in 2009 for the Mets, Figueroa improved to a 3.46 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 26 innings with the Phillies before they released him and he was picked up by the Astros.
It's not as if any of these fringe players have had a turnaround along the lines of an R.A. Dickey. (Though Figueroa, who had a 3.22 ERA in ten starts after joining Houston, would likely be in the competition for a back-of-the-rotation spot were he back with the Mets.) And it's not as if these players put the Phillies over the top in the division race.
But even though the rivalry between the Mets and Phillies has been very one-sided recently, some Phillies players and fans continue to obsess over the Mets. It wouldn't surprise me if the Philies get extra pleasure in showing the Mets that players like Valdez and Schneider can be valuable parts of a playoff team.
After the 2009 season, the Mets signed a Phillies castoff, Chris Coste. One would think that this fringe player would be happy for someone to give him a chance. But Coste was so caught up in the Mets-Phillies rivalry that he may have jeopardized his chances to make the Mets the following spring. Here are excerpts from an interview with Comacast SportsNet Philly after he signed with the Mets:
"It was the Mets," Coste told CSN. "It's the last team I ever saw myself playing for. I knew I was going to accept it, but had to think about it for a few days."
"I will always be a Phillie," Coste told CSN this evening.
If Albert Pujols somehow ended up on the Mets, he could wear a Cardinals cap for all I'd care. But if this is how Coste feels, it's just as well he didn't make it out of spring training with the Mets.
Coste, now 38, has not played in the majors since the Mets cut him. (He was then picked up by the Nationals' organization and released last June.)
As long as the Mets can't compete with the Phillies when it comes to the frontline players, it won't matter where the backups want to play. But as of now, it's just another place where the Phillies are sticking it to the Mets.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Kay is a notoriously picky eater. In 2007, Mark Feinsand was the first writer to talk about Kay's weird eating:
As I enjoyed a bowl of clam chowder, Michael mentioned that he had never had soup in his entire life (he thinks the slurping sound associated with it is grotesque). I found this amazing. He then told me he had never had any fish or seafood of any type, either.So how the heck did Kay not say "see ya" to the interlocking crab legs in a seafood bar? Or not gripe about the branzino? What's the story here?
As the conversation went on, he informed me of several other things he has NEVER tasted in his life: bananas, condiments of any type (though he lost a bet on his radio show and had to eat a packet of ketchup, which made him sick), jelly, any cheese not on a pizza, veal, coffee, etc.
Ginger Adams Otis, who co-wrote the wedding article, wrote a piece last fall talking about Kay's wacky food habits, yet she didn't delve into them in the nuptials piece. Applegate told the Post last year that her fiance only really liked three foods: chicken parm, bacon, and steak. He's so devoted to chicken parm that he insisted on eating it when the two traveled to Italy for a 10-day trip last year.
"It was like being on a great chicken-parm search through Tuscany and Rome," Applegate said. "We couldn't find it on any menus. Apparently, it's an American thing. He actually lost weight. Who goes on vacation to Italy and comes home with their pants loose?"That article said that the news anchor had "given up trying to change her meat-loving man -- and has even agreed to serve sliders and mozzarella sticks at the cocktail reception for their winter wedding."
So, did he get his slider bar? Or a special groom's table with his three favorite foods, the way Southerners have a groom's cake at weddings? This is what I want to know about!
The Post did have details about who attended the wedding; there were a reported 350 guests, including both Mr. G and Joe G(irardi), Darryl Strawberry and Danny Aiello (Kay's uncle), and a whole bunch of other Yankee broadcasters. (But what about John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman?) And Rudy Giuliani performed the ceremony.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted from the reception that Lonn Trost danced to "Play That Funky Music." Heaven help us!
I've met Michael Kay twice, and he is a very nice guy and one of the friendliest celebs I've ever met. I wish him and Jodi all the best, even if his food habits are a little, well, wacky!
What do you think? Tell us about it!
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa offers three things the Mets can learn from how the Texas Rangers succeeded despite their financial difficulties.
1. Don't be afraid to trade a franchise player, if the timing is right and the market is strong.
2. Don't skimp on the draft.
3. Find value where others don't see it.
All three of his suggestions are valid, particularly the second one. It's a disgrace, as Costa points out, that the big-market Mets are next-to-last in spending on draft picks over the last five years.
But there are a couple of problems with Costa's explanation of his first suggestion:
The first major step in the Rangers' rebuilding process was trading Mark Teixeira to the Braves in 2007. Now, two of the four prospects the Rangers acquired in that deal, shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitcher Neftali Feliz, are vital (and inexpensive) components of their present and future.
The equivalent for the Mets would be trading David Wright. We're not suggesting they should do that, but if they find themselves out of contention in July, they would have to ask themselves: Are we another year away from competing for a championship? And if not, would trading Mr. Wright now make us more likely to compete for a championship in 2013 and beyond?
The Rangers' haul for Teixeira was one of the great acquisitions of prospects in recent history. How many times does a team land not one, but two impact players in such a deal? I can only think of one recent example off the top of my head - Montreal's trade of prospects Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon. And that trade had the mitigating circumstances of Montreal facing contraction, compelling Montreal GM Omar Minaya to mortgage the future to try to win immediately.
Even if the Mets manage to land one prospect that quickly pans out in a trade for Wright, it won't be long before that player needs some big money as well. After the 2008 season, the Rockies traded franchise player Matt Holliday for a package including prospect Carlos Gonzalez. Just two years later, Gonzalez finished third in the MVP balloting and recently signed a seven-year, $80 million deal.
Trading someone like Wright is only worth it if the Mets plow the savings into helping the team. The goal should be to land players like Gonzalez, and then pay to keep them around.
The contracts for Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are a waste of money. Carlos Beltran is likely to be quite overpaid this season. The jury is out on Jason Bay.
But just because the Mets have made some bad choices and have had some bad luck with many of their big-money contracts (I still think the Beltran deal was worth it, since he lived up to it when he was healthy), doesn't mean that all big-money deals are automatically bad. If the Mets are going to be a big-market team, they must have a big-money payroll.The financial uncertainties surrounding the Mets should mean that the Mets may face temporary spending difficulties. It can't mean that big payrolls are suddenly bad, as Sandy Alderson appeared to imply recently. Alderson was supposedly brought in to spend money more efficiently, not to spend less of it.
The Mets also need to think about their history and how few homegrown stars have played most of their careers with the team. Maybe a franchise player shouldn't be untouchable, but those "face of the franchise" players can still get fans out to the ballpark when the team is out of contention.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, A-Rod was not happy about Fox cameras catching them at that moment. Bill Zwecker claims that "Alex Rodriguez wanted to slug a few folks after he spotted himself and his girlfriend Cameron Diaz being shown to the 111 million people watching the game." His story quoted an anonymous source saying:
“He really went ballistic — thinking the cameraman was out to get them in a paparazzi-like shot. … That’s so crazy,” said my source. “Anyone who knows anything about producing a live sports event — especially something as huge as the Super Bowl — would know that those celebrity shots are purely random.A few points:
“A-Rod, of all people, should know that.”
* Zwecker's prose is more than a little overwrought here. A-Rod "wanted to slug a few folks"? Really? I don't doubt that he was ticked off over being caught on camera in that awkward shot. But that doesn't translate into physical violence. I know the Sun-Times is a tabloid, but still. Does anybody really think A-Rod would punch somebody over this? Come on now.
* The writer fails to mention that none other than broadcaster Joe Buck himself commented at the time the clip was shown that Rodriguez wouldn't be happy with the image, implying that anybody would be embarrassed at being caught at that particular moment.
* The columnist's source is very disingenuous in saying that "A-Rod, of all people, should know that” regarding the way live events are filmed. A-Rod, of all people, should know that the media loves to make him look stupid. Is it possible that the camera just happened to catch Rodriguez at that moment? Of course. But it's just as plausible that the camera was filming him for a while the way the paparazzi do, waiting for the "perfect" shot to make him look ridiculous. Why is that "crazy," to use the source's words? This is Fox, not PBS, after all.
* It was unclear when Fox ran its clip as to whether it was live or on tape. Granted, as my brother noted to me, it doesn't take long for Alex to do something dopey. But call me a little skeptical over the idea that the camera just happened to catch him at that moment only. Fox uses a ton of things on tape during "live" broadcasts, as we've seen when they'll be interviewing a manager "live" on the field, only to see him get thrown out of the game at the very same time he's shown in an interview (I think that happened with Ozzie Guillen a few years ago.)
* At the same time, Rodriguez has to know that when you go to a high-profile event like the Super Bowl, with a movie star on your arm, chances are that you're going to be on camera. If you don't want to get caught looking awkward with Cameron Diaz feeding you popcorn, then don't let her feed you popcorn.
* At any rate, the fact that this story has become such a big deal shows how everything involving A-Rod gets blown out of proportion. This isn't exactly Charlie Sheen on a wild night out, or Lindsay Lohan at the jewelry store. A-Rod did absolutely nothing illegal or immoral. As I noted Monday, he's sitting at the Super Bowl, with a movie star on his arm. That "should have been a real coup for Alex," I wrote, but instead it's turned into a punch line. Which invariably happens when A-Rod is involved!
Squawker reader Symphony decried the attention to this incident, saying:
Sorry, but I continue to believe what one focuses on, criticizes, has a problem with, etc. says just as much about them as the object of their feelings.What do you think? Tell us about it!
The focus on this moment has been silly.
Monday, February 7, 2011
One of the things I find oddly endearing about Alex Rodriguez is his terminal awkwardness. Even when he's doing something that should be totally cool, he still manages to look goofy. It kind of humanizes him, in a weird way. And no matter what he does, somebody will always, always, bring up Derek Jeter and say that Jeter would never do whatever A-Rod did.
Like when A-Rod was sitting in a luxury box at the Super Bowl last night with Cameron Diaz feeding him popcorn. That should have been a real coup for Alex, but it ended up causing snickers and snarky remarks. For one thing, she fed him the popcorn the way I had to feed my late cat C.C. a pill when she was sick. And A-Rod looked about as pleased as C.C. did, which is to say, not at all.
And what was up with Alex's very awkward hand placement? Not a good look, dude.
Anyhow, I wrote about it on Facebook last night, and it didn't take long before somebody to note that Derek Jeter would never put himself in a position like that. You mean having a movie star cater to his every whim? I dunno about that. But the awkwardness, I grant you, would not be there. But at the same time, people are not fascinated by Jeter the same way they are Alex. The captain doesn't sell the newspapers that A-Rod does.
However, the other kind of tabloids -- the supermarket gossip ones -- aren't interested in either Jeter or A-Rod. In the Rodriguez-Diaz partnership, she is the one the scandal sheets focus on, not Alex. I was thumbing through Life & Style a few weeks back, and they ran that pic of the two of them vacationing in Mexico, with Cameron paddleboarding, while A-Rod was relaxing. And they cut the top half of him out of the photo. Harsh!
Anyhow, here's the video from the Super Bowl. It also cracks me up that Joe Buck mentions John Madden before noting that George and Laura Bush were at the game.