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Friday, September 28, 2012

Not Re-sign Dickey and Wright? R.A.-diculous!

The first game I went to this season was Jose Reyes' return. I hope the last game I went to isn't R.A. Dickey, David Wright and Ike Davis' farewell.

Wright and Dickey are the most popular Mets and Davis might be third. Dickey got his 20th win today and both Wright and Davis hit home runs. It was an exciting day to be at Citi Field - a rare September Mets game in recent years that wasn't meaningless.

But as we head into the offseason, there is a possibility that some or all of these players could be traded over the winter. This is crazy.

Thanks to Dickey's magical season, I was one of a fair number of Met fans who came out to Citi Field today. Even so, we were besieged by scalpers offering tickets at half price as soon as we got off the train. I can only imagine what it was like at the September games that actually were meaningless.

Aside from Johan Santana, unfortunately injured yet again, is there anyone on the Mets that people are coming out to see besides Dickey, Wright or Davis?

With Wright and Dickey heading into the final year of their contracts, the only way they will be traded is if the Mets think they won't be able to re-sign them. And what would that say about the state of the franchise?

I'm not saying Ike Davis should be untouchable, but considering that the team's biggest need is a middle-of-the-order hitter, trading Ike would create a need for another Ike. Davis' overall numbers still have a way to go, but 31 homers, including 19 after the All-Star break, will be impossible to replace.

Big-market teams with fan favorites that are also their most productive players don't get rid of those players - they build around them. Losing Reyes should be an aberration, not the start of a trend.

The last home game used to be Fan Appreciation Day. If the Mets really do appreciate their fans, they will bring back the players they most appreciate.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The really outrageous answer Derek Jeter gave in that Rick Reilly interview


ESPN's Rick Reilly took time away for writing apologias for Lance Armstrong to interview Derek Jeter the other day. (I do think it's amusing that Reilly, the same writer who once wanted to personally have Sammy Sosa drug tested, is all "I'll wear yellow in honor of Lance," but I digress.) And the talk with Jeter became a whole to-do because of what Jeter said about possibly playing elsewhere. But what I found even more interesting was the answer -- or non-answer -- Derek gave to another Yankee-related question.

Anyhow, Reilly's interview with Jeter is done in a format called Hit or Miss, where the athlete interviewed can say "miss" to a question he doesn't want to answer. Jeter gave that answer for a variety of questions, such as what was the weirdest thing a fan ever sent to him. But he also said "miss" to this "tough" question:
Me: Greatest Yankee of all time.
Jeter: Miss.
Really, Jete? This isn't actually a hardquestion, except for those sportswriters who say that Jeter himself is the greatest Yankee of all time, which he is not. The only correct answer to this question is Babe Ruth, by the way (he's also the correct answer to who is the greatest MLB player of all time.)

Even if Reilly was suggesting in his line of questioning that Jeter himself is the greatest Yankee ever, that is not worthy of a "miss" response, either. The answer is the same -- it should be that Babe Ruth, not Jeter, is the best ever.

However, the media brouhaha is not over that response. It's over Jeter saying the following answer to a Reilly question:
Me: Peyton Manning changed teams this season after 14 seasons with one team. Could you see yourself doing that?
Jeter: Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes. It's a business. People forget that.
Aside from the fact that the analogy doesn't quite work -- the Yanks won't get the equivalent of Andrew Luck starting at shortstop if Jeter goes -- I don't think there is anything necessarily controversial in acknowledging that baseball is a business. But what nobody in the media is pointing out is that Jeter and his agent, not the Yankees, had a very different response two years ago during the contentious contract negotiations.

Remember when Jeter balked at the Yankees' initial three-year, $45 million offer, and Brian Cashman encouraged Jeter to "test the market"? And the captain and Casey Close acted so insulted and outraged, pointing out No. 2's value to the franchise and comparing him to Babe Ruth? Close told Mike Lupica back then:
"There's a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."

Then Close said: "They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek's total contribution to their franchise."
Sure, baseball is a business. Then why didn't Jeter and Close acknowledge that two years ago, instead of playing the sentimentality card?

What do you think? Tell us about it!

How I jinxed Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and other stories

Sorry, I've been busy with some real-life, non-sports writing projects, so I haven't had time to squawk lately. You can read me at Business Insider and Huffington Post and see some of the things I've been doing.

Anyhow, during this time, I participated in one of those NFL survivor office pools, where you pick a team each week that you think will win. Squawker Jon is in the league, too, and I told him that he could not pick the same team as me.

Anyhow, in Week 1, I picked the Chicago Bears. So far, so good. In Week 2, I looked to see which team was most likely to win, and the Patriots were 13-point favorites. Squawker Jon wanted to pick the Pats, too, but I told him we couldn't choose the same team. So he chose the Giants, while I held my nose and supported New England.

It was a strange thing cheering for the Patriots to win, and you know what happened next -- New England lost, I'm out of the pool, and Squawker Jon had the last laugh. Or maybe I had the last laugh. After all, I jinxed the Patriots -- my jinxing powers know no bounds!

* * *

As for the Yanks, I was pretty unimpressed with their performance against the Boston Red Sox last week. Even thought they won two out of three, the games were too close for comfort. Fortunately, the Yanks have turned it around, and appear to be making the playoffs, barring some last-minute collapse. Tampa Bay spitting the bit certainly helped, too.

Anyhow, I hope to be squawking more as the regular season draws to a close, as long as my schedule cooperates!

In other news, I'm pretty saddened by the Vince Young story. Lots of bad decision-making all around.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yankees-Mets: Who Has the Best Place to Grab a Brew and Watch the Game?



This is a guest column from Becky W. about places to go watch Yankees and Mets games in the NYC area. 

The rivalry between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets has been one of the fiercest in baseball since interleague play began in 1997. Many people enjoy watching a game with fans of their team. Both teams have their own bars and restaurants that their fans can visit to be in the presence of other fans during the game. Here is a list of some of the more prominent hangouts for Yankees and Mets fans:

METS

The Pine Restaurant

Located at 37-10 114th St. in Queens, it is attached to the Holiday Inn. Many of the Met players have been known to eat here before and after games. It specializes in Italian food that is served in large portions. Entrees are on the inexpensive side, priced at $10-$30. Beers are between $4.00-$5.50.

Foley's

Located at 18 W 33rd St in Midtown, this Irish bar has a museum quality baseball display, including 1,800 autographed balls and 300 bobbleheads. They also have a plethora of ticket stubs and jerseys on display.

Roosevelt Sports Bar

Located at 133-45 Roosevelt Ave. in Flushing, it is just a ten minute walk from Citi Field. A generous buyback policy of roughly every third drink being free makes Roosevelt Sports Bar a place where you get some bang for your buck. The bar is equipped with a large number of plasma TVs.

YANKEES

Stan's Sports Bar

Located at 836 River Avenue in the Bronx, Stan's is just a short walk from Yankee Stadium. The walls are covered with Yankee memorabilia, spanning the many decades of the team's existence. In fact, the owners had so much leftover memorabilia they use self storage in New York to keep it safe from marauders and pests.

If you can't get tickets to a game and you still want a real Yankee experience, this is the place to go.

Black Bear Bar & Grill

Located at 205 Washington St. in Hoboken, it has two floors, containing 50 flat screen TVs. Happy hour starts before games, when appetizers and drinks are half price. However, it would be wise to get there early. Lines usually stretch outside the bar just prior to the start of a game.

Teddy's Bar & Grill

Located at 96 Berry St. in Brooklyn, this cozy joint has a nice collection of memorabilia, as well as $1 beers during Happy Hour. This place has been known to serve free beers for every home run the Yankees hit.

Taking in a baseball game in a packed sports bar or restaurant can be a fun experience. It doesn't matter if you root for the Yankees or the Mets, there are many fun places to choose from to enjoy a cold beer with fans and watch the game.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Joel Sherman and Joe Girardi brouhaha: Why I am on Girardi's side

I was as peeved as anybody about the way the Yankee game ended Saturday night -- clearly Mark Teixeira was safe, although the umpire didn't see it that way. However, CC Sabathia also needs to be the CC of old; your ace can't be giving up five runs in a start.

Anyhow, I just wanted to weigh in on the hissy fit Joel Sherman had in the post-game presser. He asked Girardi if CC was hurt, acknowledging that this question may have been asked before. Girardi snapped back about it being the third time he was asked that question. Sherman sassed that it was "part of the game."

Then Girardi sez, "I know, but I was asked three times," to which Sherman says that it's "still part of the game." To which Girardi says,"I’m not lying. One time is sufficient." Then Sherman goes about how Girardi "gets the big money" as Yankee manager, and such questioning is all part of the game. (Really? Reporters needing to ask the same questions multiple times is part of the game? And having to put up with an  insufferable clown is part of the game, too? Who knew?)

You can listen to the exchange here, starting at about 3:30 into it. Reportedly, the two continued the conversation in Girardi's office, and supposedly nearly came to blows, with security needing to intervene.

Here's the thing -- I pretty much agree with Sherman's take on the Yankees in the Sunday papers here and here. But I also think that Sherman was completely out of line with the Yankee manager. You didn't hear the answer to the first two times Girardi answered the question? Tough. Listen to your tape recorder, ask one of your colleagues, or watch the YES clip later. What gives you the right to monopolize the press conference and make it about yourself, because Girardi had the nerve to point out that he had already answered the question?

Besides, I've heard Sherman do this over and over, either asking the interview subject a question that has been asked multiple times, or asking the person three or four variations on the same question. It's grandstanding, based on his position as a sports columnist. A rookie writer who asked Girardi to answer a question he had already answered would be lambasted by his colleagues for not paying attention. But since Sherman is a baseball columnist for the New York Post, he gets away with it.

As for this "part of the game" stuff, Sherman makes a lot of money, too. Does that give him the right to make the presser all about him? How does Sherman acting like Veruca Salt in "Willy Wonka" help the readers -- you know, the people he is ostensibly writing his columns for?  What did they learn from that exchange? It seemed like Sherman was picking a fight and claiming the high ground, simply so that people could say how unhinged Girardi is over losing, a la Bobby Valentine losing his mind in Boston.

Perhaps Girardi should have gritted his teeth and not said anything snappy in response. But I don't think it would have made any difference. Sherman was like a dog with a bone, and he wasn't going to let go, no matter what. That's part of Sherman's game!


What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Grrrrr -- Yankees lose in agonizing fashion to the Orioles

Obviously, last night's Yankees/Orioles game was the biggest game the Baltimore franchise has had in about 15 years or so. It was also one of the most miserable losses for the Yanks in a long time, too. What a debacle.

I've been to Camden Yards a number of times over the years, and the ballpark has had the well-deserved reputation of the name Yankee Stadium South. Not last night, with Cal Ripken and his statue in the house, and a sellout crowd of Orioles fans wearing orange.

I have heard some Yankee fans make fun of the Baltimore fanbase as being frontrunners. Well, until this season, Peter Angelos hasn't given Orioles fans much to cheer about over the past 15 years. And at least the Baltimore fans are showing up now, unlike the Tampa Bay fans who, if they exist, don't show up at all, no matter is what is going on with their team.

At any rate, no Yankee fan ought to mock fans for being frontrunners and bandwagoners. Newsflash -- if the Yankees went two years, let alone 15 years, without sniffing the playoffs, Yankee Stadium would be a ghost town.


I'm not going to second-guess Joe Girardi as much as other people are, other than to say that Mark Reynolds should never see a good pitch to hit from a Yankee pitcher ever again. At any rate, after the Yankees scored five runs in the eighth inning, making a stirring comeback to tie the game, I really thought that they were going to win. Alas, thanks to a
pitching performance by David Robertson, the Orioles came back and won the game, which has to be a huge psychological boost to the team.

Anyhow, watching the Yanks right now is a smaller-stakes but longer version of the 2004 collapse. What bad baseball we are seeing! What a nightmare.

What do you think? Tell us about it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

On the Yankees, Joba, and A-Rod

A few thoughts on the state of the Yankees before today's game at the House of Horrors, East Coast Edition -- aka Tropicana Field.

Yes, yesterday wasn't Joe Girardi's finest hour -- obviously, he pulled Phil Hughes too late, even though everybody and their grandmother knew that Mark Reynolds was going to go deep against him. And why he pulled Chris Dickerson -- the Yanks' star of the game -- I don't understand.

But can we talk about Joba Chamberlain for a second? I'm sick of hearing all the excuses for him. Maybe it's not that the Yankees brought him back too soon, use him in the wrong spots, or any of the other excuses. Maybe he's just not very good. And he never will be again.

If his name were John Chamberlain, Joba wouldn't have a career at this point. It's been a lifetime in baseball years since he was a difference-maker. Yet people seem still expect that he's going to turn it around and show the promise he did in 2007. Perhaps it's time to give up on that pipe dream. Whether he's a starter or reliever, he is never going to live up to that, and he's not even serviceable now as a middle reliever. I will not be surprised if the Yanks give up on him after this season.

Joba's ERA is over 10 now. He's looked terrible in pretty much every single game he is in. It's painful to watch him any more. If the Yanks bring him back next year, it will be more of the same.

* * *

Speaking of rushing people back, I see that A-Rod is returning today. If the Yanks weren't clinging on to a two-game lead, do you think he'd back today? Doubtful. Anyhow, he's obviously not in his prime, but I do think it's interesting that the Yanks have been only playing .500 ball without him. (And you know if the Yanks had gone on a run without him, it would be said that it was because he wasn't in the lineup, so I'm going to point out that the Yanks lost their AL East without having him around!)

So yeah, I am officially worried about the Yanks' lead, especially with the new wild card system this year. But I have to look on the bright side -- the Yankees aren't even close to the dysfunction, chaos, and bad baseball that the Boston Red Sox are playing!

What do you think? Tell us about it!