Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who's having a worse season -- Javier Vazquez or A.J. Burnett?

Sorry I haven't written lately -- I was in the Carl Pavano Memorial MRI Tube the other day, and I'm still trying to get over it! Anyhow, congrats to the Yankees on clinching a postseason spot. It was funny trying to figure out what those celebratory hats said. I joked that the writing said, "No, we don't know how A.J. Burnett got his black eye, either!"

Anyhow, the era of good feeling after the Yankees clinched a spot in the playoffs was pretty much ruined not long after Javier Vazquez took the mound last night. Hopefully, it will be the last start we will ever see of Javy in pinstripes. Come to think of it, he'd better not be on the postseason at all. I usually like being proven correct, but I take no pleasure in being right on thinking Vazquez would fail in the Bronx again. (I also wrote I'd rather have Carol Burnett than A.J. Burnett as a Yankee, a post that made me look foolish in 2009, but not quite so foolish this year! And Squawker Jon and I were right about A-Rod hitting 30 homers this season.)

The New York Post's Joel Sherman wrote today that Javy "just might be the worst pitcher in Yankee history (thought before A.J. Burnett' s contract is over, well, watch out). Vazquez certainly is the worst ever given a second chance by the organization."

Alas, how quickly Carl Pavano is forgotten! $40 million for four years and nine wins has to be the worst. And I would also argue that A.J. Burnett is having an even worse year than Javy is. Vazquez is 10-10, with a 5.32 ERA. Brutal numbers, to be sure, but he was only supposed to be the #4 starter. Granted, he is making $10.5 million this year, but my expectations for him were so low, that I'm surprised he actually has 10 wins!

On the other hand, the Yankees are paying Burnett $16.5 million a year to...lead the league in hit batsmen? And the funny thing is that Joel Sherman argued just the other day that:
Never have the Yankees let anyone pitch this many innings (180 2/3) and be this wretched....
Burnett has failed to reach five innings 10 times now this season, which is three more than anyone in the majors. We are talking about failing to reach in the minimum requirement to earn a win in nearly one-third of his starts – and the Yankees are, of course, 0-10 in those games, including a 7-5 loss in Toronto last night. If you are looking for places in which they might have secured a few more wins to secure the best record in the AL begin with Burnett.
Instead, Burnett has lost 15 games all by his lonesome. That is the most losses by a Yankee since Melido Perez had 16 in 1992. But those Yankees weren’t very good. Perez actually lost 16 games with a 2.87 ERA. The last time a Yankee lost 15 games on a winning team was when Catfish Hunter went 17-15 for the 1976 AL champs. Hunter threw 298 2/3 innings and 21 complete games. He failed to go five innings just twice all year or one fewer time than he pitched 11 or more innings.

And I'm still wondering about A.J.'s black eye. Is this going to be like Dave Eiland's leave of absence, where we'll probably never hear the story? In Burnett's case, it's even more curious. How could nobody have leaked what happened by now? It's a question for the ages.

Anyhow, I think A.J.'s year is worse than Javy, but your mileage may differ. Tell me what you think.

Rays give away 20,000 tickets while Mets offer empty 'Thank you'

When I first saw the ad on SNY in which the Mets collectively say, "Thank you, fans," I thought it was a promo for Fan Appreciation Day. When I saw the logo from the TV ad on, I clicked on it, wondering what gifts were in store for the few hardy souls still heading out to Citi Field as another disappointing season comes to a close. But the link only led to an opportunity to buy full-price tickets for the remaining games. Not much of a thank-you considering that tickets are available on StubHub for as little as two dollars and field level seats in a section behind the dugout can be had for $40.

Just as Rays management felt the need to do something above and beyond, Mets management should have explored ways to actually get some fannies in the seats for the final game. How about a pregame ceremony featuring some parting gifts for those we hope will soon be departing:

  • For Jerry Manuel: A personalized MRI machine in honor of his eagerness to keep players in the lineup regardless of their physical condition. Jon Niese should have been shut down before the exhausted rookie could collapse down the stretch. Carlos Beltran has played just about every game since his return and now he needs to be shut down with inflammation in the knee, just to name the two most recent victims.
  • For Omar Minaya: Season tickets for the Newark Bears and the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, so Omar can scout for the next Gary Matthews Jr., Mike Jacobs and Frank Catalanotto.
  • For Luis Castillo: A deluxe DVD edition of "Inception," since Castillo must be living in a dream world if he thinks he is going to get a starting job anywhere else in MLB.
As for Oliver Perez, he should get to start the final game. But as he takes the mound, the public address announcer will inform the crowd that as soon as Ollie gives up a run, he will be released on the spot.

Finally, a meaningful game in October, as Perez pitches for his Met career. If he pitches a shutout, he can stick around. Maybe his problems really are all in his head, and he can still pitch like the guy who got that huge contract. Imagine the suspense if Ollie shuts down the Nationals into the late innings. Can he pull it off? Will the MLB network air the ninth inning live?

Oh, who are we kidding - Ollie won't make it through the first inning without giving up a run. Maybe the first batter. And then he'll be gone for good.

Now that's the way to say, "Thank you, fans."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yankees win exciting game, and so do Jets, while Tennessee gets best of Giants

Busy sports day in this Squawker household. First up, I watched my man Vince Young beat the Giants. Yes, I rooted for the Tennessee Titans over the home team. VY is the greatest Texas Longhorn of them all, and my favorite current NFL player, so I chose rooting for his team over Giants. Sorry, Big Blue fans.

There was one point during the game, when the Titans got their last touchdown to make the score 29-10, when Eli Manning had a really pathetic look on his face. It was the Manning Face, as Bill Simmons would say.

After that game, Squawker Jon and I yakked on the phone while we watched the Mets spoil the Phillies chance of clinching at home. We saw when Jimmy Rollins pinch-hit; the ovation for the crowd was so loud, you would have thought Mike Schmidt or something had come back in to play!

Anyhow, on to the Yankees. I'm glad Joe Girardi had Phil Hughes pitch; it was the right thing to do. Enough with this resting everybody for October, when they haven't clinched anything yet. But the first six innings were frustrating, with the Yankees making Dice-K look like unhittable. Fortunately, A-Rod came through in the seventh, hitting his 29th homer of the year, to put the Yankees ahead, 2-1. I like how happy Alex was; his homer felt like it came in a playoff game.

But I am soooooo sick of every time A-Rod comes up big against the Red Sox, some idiot fan acts as if it's the first time it's ever happened. I saw some fan's tweet listed on the YES Network postgame which said something about A-Rod finally getting a clutch hit off the Red Sox. Child, please, as Chad Ochocinco sez. How many times are we going to hear this nonsense? Six of A-Rod's 29 homers this season have come against Boston. He's hit 29 homers against the Sox since becoming a Yankee. They weren't all meaningless stat-padding dingers, you know.

Back to the game. I had a bad feeling that something might happen with Mariano Rivera's second inning. But I certainly wasn't thinking of 2004, like some in the media were. However, I wasn't that worried, even though Mo blew the save, (with a huge assist from Jorge Posada's throwing miscues), because I knew the Yankees had a secret weapon -- Jonathan Papelbon! Is there any Sox fan who had faith he would hold the lead? I haven't met anybody. We were debating on Facebook with Boston fans about who would get the big hit against Paps to win the game. Would it be A-Rod? Or Teixeira?

I also knew the Yanks would get to Papelbon because I called Squawker Jon to tell him to watch A-Rod's at-bat, and he hung up on me!

As it turns out, Papelbon technically didn't get the loss -- Hideki Okajima did. But it was effectively over as soon as Cinco Dopo came into the game. Juan Miranda's walkoff walk made it "Juan in a Million"!

In the meantime, I was flipping back and forth between the Yankees and the Jets games. (Yes, I rooted for the Jets, even thought the Dolphins have Texas Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams on their team. Ricky is no VY, though, not after he quit on his team a few years ago to, um, smoke!)

So I missed seeing if Juan Miranda got a pie in the face. Did it happen?

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Carlos Beltran, R.A. Dickey and thinking positively

You'd never know it from the way many people write about them, but the Mets have had a few bright spots this season. R.A. Dickey is one of the most amazing stories in years on the Mets or any other team. ESPN's Mark Simon even invented a new "metric," STAR (Story Above Replacement), to pay tribute to the Mets' knuckleballer.

Sometimes I wonder if good news on the Mets is so hard to come by because there is a fear of admitting that Omar Minaya ever did anything right. Such an admission could help upper management rationalize that Minaya is not doing such a bad job after all, so he deserves to remain as GM.

So I am inventing my own new metric, GMAR (General Manager Above Replacement), and making sure that, even with credit for Dickey, Omar's GMAR is too low for him to keep his job.

But while Omar needs to go, it's important to give him credit where credit is due. New management should build on what the Mets already have, not blow it all up and start over. Which brings us to Carlos Beltran, whose performance this weekend in Philadelphia suggests that it's time to rethink wondering how much salary the Mets would have to eat to get him off the team.

In Sunday's game, Beltran hit two homers, one from each side of the plate, and made a sensational diving catch to help assure that the Phillies would not clinch the division in front of the Mets. But Beltran's most important contribution may have come Saturday, when he slid in hard at second base, trying to take out Chase Utley in retaliation for Utley's hard slide Friday night.

Perhaps it's a sign of the negativity surrounding the Mets that on Sunday's pregame, Kevin Burkhardt compared Beltran to Shawn Estes, who infamously threw behind Roger Clemens rather than hitting him in retaliation for Clemens' broken bat insanity in the 2000 World Series. Burkhardt was not the only person to note that Beltran missed both Utley and shortstop Wilson Valdez, meaning that once again the Mets' response failed to match the original offense.

But unlike Estes, Beltran did all he could to "hit somebody," as Beltran later said he wanted to do. Utley's ability to jump out of the way should not detract from Beltran's effort, especially considering that Beltran went in with two bad knees.

Beltran might be one of the last players most fans would expect to be the one to step up and defend his teammate. Unfortunately, except for the injured Johan Santana, I'm not sure which player I would most expect to step up.

As Met announcers frequently noted, Utley's slide wasn't really dirty, but indicative of how hard the Phillies always play. Why don't the Mets always play that way? Which brings us to Jerry Manuel's MAR (Manager Above Replacement) which has certainly marred the Mets.

The Mets need some new players along with new management, but at least some of the current players are offering reason to hope* that next year will be better.

*(I was thinking about a Hope Above Replacement metric, but I didn't want Squawker Lisa to point out that the acronym would be HAR.)

Shocker! I actually defend Joe Torre (a little) on something!

David Wells took potshots at Joe Torre last week, calling Torre a "coward" for benching him in the 1997 ALDS, and having pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre tell him the news. Only thing is, Wells started Game 3 of that series!

Even I, somebody who has no love lost for Saint Joe of the Bronx, thought this was a bit ridiculous, and unfair to Torre. So I wrote a piece about it for The Faster Times over it.  It's not just that Wells criticized Torre for something that never happened that irked me. It's also that apparently nobody in the media took a look at a stats site to see if Wells' story was true. And even Torre didn't exactly defend himself well over Wells' charges.

Anyhow, please check out my article on it!

Hall of Fame sportswriter misses big part of Red Sox injury story

New York City baseball columnist Bill Madden, winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Taylor Spink this summer, wrote a piece for Sunday's papers about how great a job Terry Francona is doing compared to Joe Girardi. What struck me about the article was this tidbit:
What's interesting, however, and what may have a lot to do with why the Red Sox haven't just gone away, is that [Dustin] Pedroia, [Kevin] Youkilis and all their other walking wounded didn't just go away. Rather than shipping off to Florida, home or wherever to rehab, all the injured Red Sox have remained with the club, making every trip, and in Pedroia's case, hobbling on crutches onto buses from the hotel to the ballpark....

Although no one around the Red Sox will say just how this practice of the disabled players traveling with the team came about, the close-knit clubhouse culture is something that Francona has fostered throughout his tenure in Boston. In years past, there were some notable exceptions in Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez, divas who tended to go their own way, but this particular Red Sox team is to be admired for its grit and especially its resolve to just keep hanging in there. As a unit.
Aside from the fact that I don't know how much good it does for Pedroia's healing process to have him hobbling around on crutches and traveling with the team, Madden either completely ignored, or wasn't aware of, the controversy that brewed in Red Sox Nation this summer over the injured Jacoby Ellsbury not traveling with the team for part of the season. Instead, Ellsbury rehabbed his injury at Arizona's Athletes Performance Institute for five weeks. Even though the Red Sox agreed to him doing that, it didn't prevent at least one of his teammates from calling him out over it.

Remember when Kevin Youkilis complained about Ellsbury to the Boston Globe this July? Looks like Madden didn't.
Kevin Youkilis was asked what he thought about Jacoby Ellsbury rejoining the team tonight after spending five weeks in Arizona.
"I don't know what's going on with Jacoby," he said. "I don't think any of us really know."
Was it strange for Ellsbury to be away from the team that long?
"Don't go down that road," Youkilis said. "One thing I can say is there's a lot of guys here that are hurt and supporting the team. We wish Jacoby was here supporting us, too."
And just last Sunday, a piece called "The Ellsbury Insanity" ran in the Boston Globe's magazine, chastising the media and fans for giving up on the player so soon:
The Ellsbury drama has played out across a disappointing summer for the Sox, who’ve been depleted by a wave of injuries that would have seemed excessive at an assisted living facility. While other injured players drew sympathy, the scorn for “soft” Ellsbury grew louder on talk radio, in the sports pages, and on the blogs that featured Ellsbury’s face photo-shopped onto images of women in dresses. It didn’t help when unnamed members of the Sox organization apparently raised their eyebrows about him behind the scenes, and first baseman Kevin Youkilis publicly bemoaned Ellsbury’s decision to recuperate in an Arizona training center rather than alongside his teammates in the dugout.
Quite a different picture from Madden's warm-and-fuzzy piece about how the Red Sox are all for one and one for all, eh?

What do you think? Tell us about it?

Nightmare day for Yankees, Texas Longhorns

As luck would have it, Saturday's Yankees-Red Sox game happened to be on at the same time as my beloved Texas Longhorns were playing UCLA. Unfortunately for me, both games were debacles -- UT played about as well as they did when I was in college, and the Yankees looked pretty flat against the Sox.

Oh, and there was the always-obnoxious Tim McCarver to listen to on FOX, stumbling on people's names (how long did it take him to get King Felix's name right?) and condescending to viewers. At least Joe Buck wasn't in the booth this time, though. Thank goodness for small favors.

About the only highlight yesterday was that I did my part in helping to jinx Jon Lester's no-hitter -- I wrote about it on Facebook, and just a few batters later, the no-hitter was history! Yay!

It ticks me off, though, that the Yankees could have clinched a playoff spot against the Red Sox this weekend. Instead, they've lost four games in a row at home for the first time all year, and seem to be a real mess.

It reminds me a lot of early fall of 2000, when the Yanks were in a September swoon. I remember being at a particularly bad game that month, when I was moving back to the tri-state area after living in Texas for many years. I hadn't seen the Yankees play at the Stadium since I attended Game 1 of the 1996 World Series (another debacle), and this 2000 game I attended, where Jose Canseco played right field and made several errors, was a 15-4 loss to Cleveland that left fans in a foul mood. Kind of the way Yankee fans have been feeling as of late! Let's hope that 2010 ends up having the same results as 2000 did, with the Yankees triumphing, and Mets fans in despair.

What do you think? Tell us about it! 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dreading another Yankees-Phillies World Series

2009 was supposed to be a one-time thing - an annus horribilis in which the Yankees and Phillies reached the World Series while the Mets, decimated by injuries, won only 70 games. Yet here we are a year later, with the healthier Mets still likely to finish well below .500 while the Phillies and Yankees are back on track for a Fall Classic rematch.

The Phillies have won ten in a row and are 17-3 in September. They are six games better than anyone else in the National League. In a short series, nobody will be able to match their starting pitching. Roy Halladay is tied for first in the NL in wins and strikeouts and is third in ERA. Cole Hamels has a 1.89 ERA and 0.93 WHIP since the All-Star break. Roy Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.96 ERA since joining the Phillies at the end of July.

Despite their own wave of injuries, with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino all missing time, the Phillies are third in the league in runs scored.

So the Phillies have a great shot at getting back to the World Series for the third year in a row. They are about to win the NL East for the fourth year in a row, which will be only one fewer division title than the Mets have won in their history.

The Yankees have had some ups and downs lately and there are no guarantees in the postseason, but is anyone really prepared at this point to predict Minnesota, Texas or Tampa Bay in the World Series?

And this year, the previous round could also be very unpleasant for Met fans if the NLCS matchup features the Phillies against old Mets nemesis Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves.

At least the Mets won't be completely forgotten during the postseason. On October 7, the second day of the playoffs, Francisco Rodriguez is due back in court.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bob Klapisch rewrites history of the Yankee dynasty

Today's Bob Klapisch piece for the Bergen Record about the Yankees in the Joe Torre era might be the biggest piece of Yankee revisionist history I've read all year, with him claiming that Torre never had the talent Joe Girardi had to work with, and that the Bombers were already aging and fading by 1999, just when Derek Jeter was entering his prime, Jorge Posada was coming into his own, and Roger Clemens had joined the team. Huh?

Here are some of Klapisch's claims, with my responses below:
"Torre never had the luxury of managing a roster that had CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett."
What the??? A.J. Burnett is 23-22 as a Yankee, with a 4.52 ERA. Is he really somebody to envy? I don't think so.

And while Clemens' numbers were surely chemically-enhanced, he was arguably was just a big a force as CC Sabathia in his time with the Yankees. And let me pull a Kanye West and say that A-Rod is one of the greatest players of all time. Torre had him for four seasons, but treated him like something stuck under his shoe. Not to mention that Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter in their prime were as valuable as Teixeira is.
"[Torre] didn’t stick around long enough to have Steinbrenner out of his face."
Not true. Torre went seven straight years of not meeting his job requirement of winning the World Series, and still didn't get fired. Torre's own book admits that Steinbrenner wasn't mentally the same in the last few years. Besides, does anybody think The Boss of old would have not cleaned house after 2004?
"And Torre wasn’t able to collect the dividend on Alex Rodriguez’s breakthrough October after five years of postseason misery."
Hmmmm. Maybe Joe Girardi's lighter touch with A-Rod might have contributed to Alex relaxing at the plate. Just saying.
"Those perks have been awarded to Girardi, who gets credit for his sterile, efficient manner."
What's this "awarded" nonsense? Girardi won the World Series in only his third year of managing, yet Klapisch wants to minimize that, calling his manner "sterile." Please.
"But Girardi would’ve been challenged to extend the Yankees’ renaissance after 1998, when the previous generation’s core started to age out."
Is Klapisch out of his flipping mind? I mean, really. At least Wally Matthews' babbling can be funny -- his line about A-Rod pulling a Madame Bovary death scene in the batter's box is one of the funniest things I've read all year. Klapisch's ravings are just sad.

Let's review. In 1999, the Yankees, who had won 114 games the year before, traded for Roger Clemens, who had just won two Cy Youngs in a row for the Blue Jays. And the team won 98 games.While El Duque was probably already old in 1999, he also won 17 games that season. Derek Jeter had an MVP-caliber year (and his best season ever), Jorge Posada was a budding young star, and Bernie Williams had a .971 OPS.

The only starter you can arguably say was starting to fade in 1999 was Paul O'Neill, who never hit above .300 after 1998. But even then, his numbers were still respectable until the end of his career.

Klapisch should know better; the year where some of the Yankees seemed really old all of a sudden was 2001, not 1999, when they won 98 games. (And yes, even I will give Torre the credit for getting the Yankees within one inning of winning the World Series in 2001-- they totally overachieved that year. And with them winning in 2000 despite the team only winning 87 games in the regular season. Believe it or not, I was a big Torre fan until 2003, when he pitched Jeff Weaver in Game 5 of the World Series. It took that event -- and the 2004 ALCS -- to turn me against Joe for good.)

Here's another Klapisch gem:
"That’s what the haters seem to forget – that Torre coaxed two more world championships out of a team that slowly was being caught by the Red Sox. Maybe that’s why Torre cried like a baby after Aaron Boone’s HR in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series. Maybe he knew the dynasty was over."
I guess I'm one of those "haters," but I think I know my baseball history a little better than Klapisch does. Because I seem to remember the Yankees beating the Red Sox four games to one in the 1999 ALCS. And the Sox not making the playoffs at all for the following three years. Boston didn't really catch up with the Yankees until after then, when John Henry et al bought the team, Theo Epstein took over as general manager, and the team got a huge player makeover. To suggest that Torre "coaxed two more world championships out of a team that slowly was being caught by the Red Sox" is sheer nonsense.
"There’s been too much revisionist spin of Torre’s career in the Bronx, particularly after 2003. Too old, too out of touch, too laid back, too disinterested – name it, and the blemishes suddenly littered his Hall of Fame résumé. Torre doesn’t have to apologize for any of the Yankees’ non-championship years, although if he had a second chance, he might’ve decided to wait until retirement to publish his memoirs. Instead, “The Yankee Years” damaged Torre’s legacy in some Yankee circles, even though it was co-authored with Sports Illustrated’s highly respected Tom Verducci.
The only "revisionist spin" being written here is by Klapisch himself. Torre had the biggest payroll, with the top stars, each year, and couldn't even make it to the World Series after 2003. That is just as much a part of the resume as the four rings. Just because it took a while for the starry-eyed media to finally acknowledge that isn't revisionism; it's acknowledging reality.

Also love how Klapisch blames Verducci for the book. Do you think there was a single line in that book that wasn't approved by Torre himself? Come on now.

For good measure, Klapisch also blames Brian Cashman for overreacting to how he was portrayed in the book:
"Torre used the book to criticize Cashman’s growing reliance on statistics, for the way he handled the end of Bernie Williams’ career and for becoming the most powerful figure in the Yankees’day-to-day operations by 2005.
Cashman stood in the way of Torre’s previous direct connection to The Boss, planting the seeds of the manager’s resentment. Torre was correct in noting how the Yankees changed the way they did business by the middle of the decade, but Cashman nevertheless was “shocked” at the way his onetime buddy flogged him in print."
Funny how Klapisch implicitly agrees with Torre's criticism of Cashman relying on statistics, when it was the Red Sox's use of statistics that helped to give them an edge. There are things Cash has done that I don't like, either, like signing Nick Johnson and bringing back Javier Vazquez this year, but it's obvious that the GM and not the manager should be "the most powerful figure in the Yankees’day-to-day operations." Especially when the manager thought looking at a stat sheet was beneath him.

Klapisch also writes that Torre "was, and still is, a model of calm and composure, the very qualities that helped him act as traffic cop when the clubhouse was so fractured and cliquish after 2003." This is just laughable. The "clubhouse was so fractured and cliquish after 2003" because Torre took sides with "his guys" over A-Rod and other newer players, instead of running the clubhouse as a team. If Torre had been the same manager that he was in the '90s, then perhaps the clubhouse would have been as united as it was back then.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Will Joe Torre be the Mets' next Casey Stengel?

Casey Stengel spent years as an unsuccessful manager before winning numerous titles with the Yankees. After turning 70, Casey managed the Mets. Is Joe Torre headed down the same path? I hope not.

The first thing the Mets need is a strong, competent general manager. The new GM must be the one to pick the manager. The best candidates will probably not even want the job if what could be their most important decision is made for them. Especially if it is yet another example of the Mets overpaying a high-priced free agent that is past his prime.

The Mets need a dynamic manager who can energize the team and the fan base. Torre has admitted to having trouble relating to the Dodgers' younger players. His personality seems to energize the media more than anyone else. The Mets already have a manager whose best attribute is dealing with the media.

By the way, the Mets do currently have a manager, and whatever one thinks of Jerry Manuel, it was wrong for Torre to speculate about the Met job while it is occupied. Gary Carter was heavily criticized for doing the same thing a few years ago. Good for Manuel to show some irritation.

Torre has had some success with the Dodgers, winning 84 games his first season and 95 last year. But Willie Randolph had similar numbers in his first two seasons managing the Mets - winning 83 in year one and 97 in year two. Torre made the playoffs and won in the first round before losing in the NLCS in both 2008 and 2009, while Randolph did so in one year.

This season, Torre's Dodgers are currently four games under .500. The Mets are two games under. The Dodgers have off-the-field issues to contend with, but then again, so do the Mets.

If Torre wants to manage next year, he should find a veteran team that is close to winning and just needs a new leader to put them over the top. The Mets, unfortunately, are not close to winning. They need a new manager who will be around for few years to help build a winning team. They don't need Torre.

My thoughts on the George Steinbrenner monument and tribute

I thought the Yankees did Monday's George Steinbrenner ceremony right Monday night. Things got a little dusty in this Squawker household, to use a Bill Simmonsism. Here are a few thoughts on the evening:

* I've decided that if there is anybody I want to meet in the Steinbrenner family, it's Hank. He seems to be the child with most of his father's personality.

* I don't ever remember seeing Joan Steinbrenner before -- she's definitely been out of the public eye forever. The funny thing was, though, when I saw some addled-looking man escorting her, I wondered to myself at first, "Gee, that guy's in bad shape." Then I realized that the befuddled-looking person was Bud Selig!

* Don Mattingly looks so young! Younger than when he was a coach with the Yankees. He still needs to bring the mustache back, though. It was nice to see him. Mattingly was truly a class act in the way he left the Yankees, which is why no fence-mending was needed on his part.

* Good to see David Wells at the event. He was one of Steinbrenner's faves. But, unless I missed it, where was Paul (The Warrior) O'Neill?

* Smartest thing the Yankees did -- and I am sure it was deliberate -- was to not introduce any of the VIPs. While fans cheered for Mattingly and Joe Torre, them being there didn't overshadow the ceremony itself. On the other hand, the media is all about Torre today in the stories. Well, that, and one other thing...

* ...That monument is, um, monumental! I'm wondering if Yankee players in the batters' box will be able to see The Boss' image looking at them, the way the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleberg gazed upon the characters in "The Great Gatsby."

* I'm also glad the Yankees won. There wouldn't have been anything sort of Grandish if they were to lose on the night of the Steinbrenner tribute!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Squawker reader mail, and what Joe Torre and Cher have in common when it comes to memorials

I got a lot of grief in the Subway Squawkers comments section for saying that Joe Torre ought to stay away from tonight's George Steinbrenner monument dedication at Yankee Stadium. I appreciate the feedback, but I'm not changing my opinion.

Uncle Mike chastises me, saying, "Lisa, this has to stop. While it's true that, without George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre would be a ballplayer just short of the Hall of Fame and a manager just short of greatness (he did, after all, manage the Braves to a Division title well before that became common), without Torre, Steinbrenner would have lived the last 32 years of his life without winning another World Series."

Oh, come on. The nucleus of the late '90s dynasty was created by Gene Michael and Buck Showalter. Yes, Torre came in, and led that team to four rings to five years, and he deserves a ton of credit for doing so. But to suggest that the Yankees would never have won a World Series without Torre is a bit much.

And no, Torre was not "a manager just short of greatness" until the Yankees. Here are his winning percentages with the teams he managed prior to the Bronx: Mets: .405, Atlanta Braves: .529, St. Louis Cardinals: .498. He made it to the playoffs ONCE in 14 years prior to the Yanks. That's mediocrity, at best.

Mike says "tonight's ceremony is a way for Yankee Fans to say "Thank you" -- to both men." No, tonight was supposed to be about honoring George Steinbrenner, until the Torre PR machine tipped off Bill Madden and made sure everybody knew he'd be there. (It sure wasn't the Yankees who told the papers -- John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman said the team told them not to reveal the guest list.)

Reader RockN'RollStreetRat wrote: "Tomorrow's ceremony should be about Steinbrenner's baseball legacy with the Yankees, not about any personal squabbles anyone had with Geroge, or that George had with anyone. And when it comes to Torre, he's one of he most important figures in the Boss's Yankee legacy, and one of the team's best ever managers."

I get that point that he and Uncle Mike are making, but here's the thing with that argument. I remember what happened with Sonny Bono's funeral. Sonny's widow Mary asked Bono's ex-wife Cher to give the eulogy. But thanks to Cher's star power and emotional speech, the funeral became all about Cher, and little about Sonny.

Yes, Cher was a huge part of Sonny's legacy, but to hear her weep after she had trashed her ex-husband's reputation for the previous two decades was a bit much. And by the end of her speech, you would have thought she were the widow, and not Mary Bono! Although I think Cher's grief was sincere, I just wish she had shown such appreciation for Sonny Bono when he was still alive to hear it.

Tonight is supposed to be about George Steinbrenner getting his place at Monument Park, not about Torre getting face time shedding crocodile tears. Reader JonMouk71 wondered, "the more cynical might say he is cultivating the media to pressure Wilpon to meet his high price to manage the Mets." Count me in that cynical category.

Anyhow, I'll watch the event tonight, but don't expect me to clap at my TV screen about seeing Joe Torre take over what should be George Steinbrenner's tribute.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joe Torre ought to stay far away from George Steinbrenner ceremony

Just heard that Joe Torre and Don Mattingly reportedly will be attending Monday's Yankee Stadium ceremony to honor George Steinbrenner with a monument in Monument Park. Donnie Baseball will be a welcome face at the ballpark. Joe Torre, not so much, at least for me.

I'm not about to let bygones be bygones and welcome Torre back to the ballpark with open arms.  Not when he has never apologized for the way he bit the hand that fed him for twelve years. Not as long as the vile "Yankee Years" book remains in print, where he trashed The Boss when he was unable to defend himself. And certainly not after Torre and his wife Ali compared Steinbrenner, the man of honor tomorrow night, to Torre's own abusive father, the monster who threw Torre's mother down the stairs when he found out she was pregnant with Joe Jr.

What a phony Torre is to even have the nerve to show up in the first place. He's going to "honor" Steinbrenner's memory with his presence, right? Spare me the sanctimony. Just by showing up, Loe will make the evening all about him. If Torre were as classy as his PR machine claims, he would stay away, and not make a mockery of the night.

I remember how Joe and Ali Torre "honored" Steinbrenner back in November, after the Yankees won the World Series. They had an interview with T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times, where, as I noted in a Faster Times piece, they described Steinbrenner this way:
“George was such a domineering figure in Joe’s life and his father was like that,” says Ali Torre.

Joe Torre backed that comment up, saying about his experience as Yankee manager, “That was a big part of it with George too. I don’t know how many times I told George, ‘The only thing I wanted to do was make you feel proud of what I’ve done.'"

Columnist Simers didn’t raise his eyebrows at these accusations. Instead he agreed, writing, “The abused going full circle, five times as likely to become the abuser, the experts say, or become abused again. Or go to work for Steinbrenner.”
Torre's wife used that analogy again in another part of the interview:
Ali Torre told her husband and Simers, “The parallel was very similar to what you had with your father. Some of the people in the Yankee organization were bullying you and not treating you with respect all along. You kept trying to survive until you got worn down.”
Comparing domestic violence to the travails of the highest-paid manager in baseball history? Oh please.

It's funny. Torre constantly accused Alex Rodriguez of hogging the spotlight, and making everything all about him. Guess it takes one to know one.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A-Rod's A-Bomb, and A.J.'s black eye

Friday night was a very frustrating game for eight innings, with the Yankee bats continuing their disappearing act. But I had a very good feeling in the ninth, especially after Jorge Posada's epic at-bat. So when Alex Rodriguez came up with two men on and two outs, I called Squawker Jon and called him to put on the game. He must have had a good -- or in his case, bad! -- feeling about what would happen, as he refused to do so. A little while later, with the possibility of an Orioles' win just one strike away, A-Rod hit his 25th homer of the year, and the Yankees went ahead, 4-3.

I was very excited about the win, watching the A-Rod homer clip several times. Then in the postgame, after a Facebook friend alerted me to A.J. Burnett's eye, I looked at the TV screen and did a double-take when I saw him! Of course, when I called Squawker Jon and told him to switch on the YES Network to see the black eye, he was all too pleased to do so.

It's always something. Finally, A.J. Burnett pitches well, and now his eye is all messed up. My first reaction to what happened to him was that he did it to himself in a fit of anger, instead of slamming his hands against a clubhouse cabinet!

I had a black eye myself once, and no, it wasn't from a fight. I went to see a Circle Jerks punk concert when I was in college. Some slam-dancing guy's whirling foot somehow went askew and hit me in the eye. It hurt, but not terribly, and I didn't know I had gotten a black eye until I woke up the next morning (it takes a while for the bruises to develop.)

I'm watching the Yankee replay now, and doing a little CSI/Forensics Style analysis. You can see some redness by his right eye in early innings, but nothing as awful as he looked in the postgame. So my guess is that something happened to him sometime Friday afternoon.

Burnett said the injury, which he wouldn't explain, was not baseball-related, but does that mean he didn't hurt himself on the field, or that he didn't get  into a fight with a teammate? I do think it's curious that he wouldn't explain how he got it, especially since in his previous start, he had bruises by his ear. It's just another enigmatic moment in the baffling career of A.J. Burnett.

* * *

Squawker Jon did point out to me the very real possibility that A-Rod could still get his usual 30+ homers this year, something that didn't seem  like it would happen just a few months ago. He has 25 homers now, so he's five away from 30 with 15 games to go. I think it's very possible that  he could get his 30 homers yet again.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Snooki and the Mets

When Squawker Lisa told me that one of the most recognizable women on TV had recorded a video about the Mets, I hoped that it was Christina Hendricks, but the way things are going for the Mets, I'm not surprised to find out that it was Snooki:

It's not the first time this year that the Mets have been associated with "Jersey Shore." At the start of the season, David Wright recorded a video with The Situation. The video begins with Wright being asked the following:

Hey, David, last year was tough, but the team looks good this year so far, and you look fantastic. what did you do differently to get in shape?

While Wright's homers/RBI have jumped from 10/72 in 2009 to 23/92 this year, his average has fallen from .307 to .287, his strikeouts have stayed high and his .851 OPS is not much better than 2009's .837. So maybe swinging a bat at The Situation's abs is not the best workout regimen after all.

As for Snooki, it turns out that her video was recorded over three years ago. It includes references to Billy Wagner and the Mets having "two Carloses." Apparently, even Snooki isn't about to record a tribute to the current group. But there's always next year - maybe we'll hear Snooki sing about how Dillon puts the Gee in GTL.

What if sports "journalist" Ines Sainz had been a blogger?

There's been a whole to-do this week in the media over whether the New York Jets treated TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz appropriately -- and whether she acted appropriately in the locker room. I wrote on it the other day, saying that her outfits were more appropriate for a nightclub than the sidelines.

Since then, Sainz has been on pretty much every TV show this week except for "Hoarders" and "Meet the Browns," wearing more -- or is that less? -- of her form-fitting outfits and stating her case. (But Sainz did take down the bikini shot of herself on her Twitter page!)

While some writers have criticized her, a lot of reporters -- both male and female -- have defended Sainz as just another sports journalist doing her job. And the Association of Women in Sports Media complained to the Jets and the NFL on behalf of Sainz.

But I have to wonder how these defenders would have treated Sainz is she had been a sports blogger, especially since most journalists aren't exactly leading the way in demanding that bloggers get media credentials from professional teams. Let's review some of Sainz's career "highlights" covering the NFL:

* She held a biceps measuring contest (see image above) during last year's Super Bowl Week to determine which player had the strongest arm. Hard-hitting journalism at its finest!

* She allowed two Indianapolis Colts to carry her around like Cleopatra or something during this year's Super Bowl Week. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Ashley Fox witnessed the incident. She wrote about it this week:

"Google 'Ines Sainz' and you'll also find a photograph of her sitting on the shoulders of two Indianapolis Colts players during Super Bowl media day. I remember seeing her there. There was a swarm of people around her, and they were all laughing and joking about this woman who was causing such a stir. For a real sports reporter, that's unconscionable. Word travels fast."

If Sainz were an NFL blogger, and not a TV reporter, it's not very likely she would have gotten media credentials in the first place. But even if she had, Sainz would have undoubtedly had her press pass revoked the moment she first acted up and made a spectacle of herself. In fact, we'd probably be treated to lectures from some of the very sportswriters defending Sainz, saying about how sports bloggers need to learn something about professionalism and decorum. Just saying.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Joe Torre, Tim McCarver, and Rob Neyer show double standard when it comes to Derek Jeter

I've been saying for years that Joe Torre is a phony, and here's more proof. Torre took time out from his Brett Favre-esque act about whether or not he will be back with the Dodgers next year to comment about Derek Jeter's deking the umpire in Wednesday night's game. Here's what he said:
"Hell, yeah, (Jeter) did the right thing. It's not like running a red light. Stuff you can do out on the field, whether you can get away with it, it's not being immoral. We allow people to steal second base. Anything you can get away with is fine. To me, that's aboveboard. It's not like he's loading his bat."
Funny that the manager who refused to call for a bunt against Curt Schilling in the 2004 ALCS would say such a thing. It's also amusing how hypocritical J-Fraud is on the Jeter issue, given what he said after Alex Rodriguez did the Ha Play:
Even Joe Torre says Alex Rodriguez was out of line....

"He may have been excited about the fact that we were leading the ballgame," Torre said Friday before his team's series opener at Boston. "It was probably inappropriate to do it at the time he did it, but you can't change it, unfortunately."....

"[The Blue Jays] were angry," Torre said. "Oh, there's no question. I can't say I blame them, but what are you going to do about it? What's happened has happened."....

Torre said he spoke with Rodriguez after the game.

"It's probably something he shouldn't have done," Torre said. "I don't sense he's going to do it again."
FOX broadcaster Tim McCarver, who last made the news when he compared the Yankee front office to Nazis and Communists for supposedly airbrushing Torre out of Yankee Stadium, also supported Jeter's fake injury move:
"I can't believe anyone would say that's cheating. Once again, it points out Jeter's wherewithal. What upset some people perhaps is that he was so demonstrative … but to think that quickly is remarkable."

Left unsaid was what McCarver's buddy Bob Gibson, the pitcher McCarver constantly uses as the arbiter of what is correct in baseball, would do if a hitter tried that act on him. Gee, I wonder why.

Of course, when A-Rod did quick thinking of his own against Dallas Braden, McCarver was not amused, and cited Gibson in that scenario  when asked about Braden demanding Rodriguez get off his mound:
“Absolutely — I love that,” McCarver said. “That’s his space. You don’t see any starting pitchers in the batter’s box, do you? You don’t see pitchers go in the batter’s box, dig in, anything like that. So why should hitters be allowed on the mound?”....
“[Pete Rose] tried that once with Gibson in the mid-60s and Gibson threw at him the next time up. Pete spat at him. And the next one was a lot closer. Pete didn’t spit the second time.”
And's Rob Neyer thrice called Chicago White Sox A.J. Pierzynski a cheater for feigning injury to get on base, and suggested that he be suspended from baseball. But when Jeter did the very same thing as A.J., Neyer's opinion was much more muted, and he would not call Jeter a cheater. Read my Faster Times piece on Neyer to see his differing positions in the similar situations.

Since I didn't have any problem with A-Rod's Ha Play, Slap Play, or him walking on Dallas Braden's mound, I didn't have any problem with what Jeter did. But my brother disagrees. He thinks that the reigning SI Sportsman of the Year should be held to a tougher standard:
Jeter is considered so highly that some fans believe that Yankee Stadium should be renamed in his honor. When you are at that level, claiming that a pitcher hit you is a more serious offense than it is for a scrub. What if the pitcher was suspended for throwing at a player that some (Colin Cowherd to name one ESPN personality) consider greater than Babe Ruth?
Anyhow, what do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Other Guy: Imagine if A-Rod had "acted" the way Derek Jeter did last night?

Maybe I was wrong about Derek Jeter being a bad actor. After all, his master thespian performance at Wednesday's game, where he pretended to be badly hit by the ball, not only got him first base, but it got Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon thrown out of the game for protesting.

I was out at dinner in Manhattan last night, so I missed seeing the play live. When I was heading home, I talked to Squawker Jon, who saw the play on TV and said that either Jeter was really hurt -- or really faking it! Jon thought Jeter was doing the latter.

Since then, I watched the clip (go here if you haven't seen it.) Let me tell you something --  it just goes to show what I have been saying  for years whenever Alex Rodriguez was caught in an on-field controversy, whether it be the slap play, the Ha play, or the "get off my mound" debacle. And that is that if Derek Jeter had done any of the so-called "bush league" things A-Rod had gotten lambasted for, writers and fans would be praising his gamesmanship, quick thinking, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

Just take a look at what happened in the Yankees-Rays game. Jeter, who has been slumping for the last three months, took the opportunity to get on base, even though he didn't deserve to be there in that situation. When Chad Qualls' pitch hit Jeter's bat, and made a cracking noise, the captain writhed around like he got hit by it, and then literally doubled over in pain. Because of the whole dog-and-pony show Jeter put on, home plate umpire Lance Barksdale awarded Jeter first, which proved crucial when Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer to briefly put the Yankees ahead. Ultimately, thanks to Phil Hughes serving up another homer to Dan Johnson, Tampa Bay won the game.

Jeter readily admitted in the postgame that the ball hit the bat, and not him:
Jeter, smiling slyly during his postgame exchange with the media, made no apologies for capitalizing on the opportunity.

"Well, (Barksdale) told me to go to first," he said. "I'm not going to tell him I'm not going to first. I mean, my job is to try to get on base."

Asked if he was responding to the vibration from the ball hitting the end of his bat or acting when he shook his arm, Jeter said, "Vibration. And acting. Both."

Let's review. Jeter, the manmany fans consider to have the most integrity of any player in baseball, pretended to be hit by the pitch, and he wasn't. His getting awarded first base could have been the deciding factor in the game. Then he smiled in the postgame as he not only admitted faking the whole thing, but essentially blamed the ump for falling for his act. And to top it all off, media admiringly praised his act. One example -- Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger wrote that Jeter "pulled off a performance worthy of adding another item to his trophy case: an Oscar," and said the struggling shortstop "applied a Shakespearian interpretation."

If you changed Derek Jeter's name to Alex Rodriguez in this scenario, do you think there would be one bit of positive press thrown A-Rod's way? Do you think anybody would be praising Alex's gamesmanship, great acting, quick thinking, and willingness to win? Of course not.

Look, it's not that I'm against what Jeter did last night. Good for him. He's been struggling, and the Yankees have been slumping. He wanted to get on base by any means necessary. You know, kind of like the way a struggling A-Rod tried to get on first to get something going for his team in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

But it just goes to show  that Jeter, the person treated as a living saint by many Yankee fans, can be just as guilty of committing a so-called "bush league" play as A-Rod. Of course, when the captain does it, it's great baseball, but when A-Rod does it, it's a crime against humanity. As Billy Wagner would say, shocker!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So much for looking forward to football season

Impotent offense? Dubious coaching moves? Season-ending injuries? And here I thought watching the Jets opener would be a welcome change from the Mets.

The last time the Jets were coming off of a trip to the AFC title game, Vinny Testaverde went down for the year early in the first game. Yesterday, it was Kris Jenkins' turn. At least Johan Santana is definitely coming back, though it's unknown how good he will be. Jenkins' career could be over.

So far, Antonio Cromartie remind me of Jason Bay - big-name acquisition, small-time production.

Kyle Wilson makes me think of Jenrry Mejia - highly touted rookie not ready for a leading role.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Jerry Manuel both sound good on TV. But when it comes to strategy... How do you not have Mark Sanchez at least try to throw against the Ravens' depleted secondary?

Though I'm a diehard Jet fan, even before last night I agreed that the Jets talk way too much for a team that has not been to the Super Bowl in over four decades. But now Squawker Lisa tells me that the Jets' bluster has some of our Boston readers actually hating the Jets more than the Yankees.

Well, at least one of my teams is beating the Yankees at something.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On the Yanks' losing streak, and the Jets' loss

I'm Officially Concerned about the state of the Yankees after tonight. This is the first time they've lost four in a row all year, and their third walkoff loss in four games. And, as Squawker Jon helpfully noted, the Yanks would have lost seven in a row if it weren't for Nick Swisher! If Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin are the answer, I don't want to know the question. Tonight was actually a night I longed to see Joba pitch! And it would be nice to see the Yanks score a run or two. So much for CC getting No. 20 tonight.

Anyhow, I was flipping back and forth, using my picture-in-picture, between the Yankees and the Jets. As I've noted here before, I don't really have a diehard NFL team the way I root for the Yanks and the Texas Longhorns. I root for Vince Young to do well with the Tennessee Titans, I supported the Giants in the Super Bowl against the Patriots (and even predicted their victory!), I cheer for Ochocinco and T.O., and I think Rex Ryan is a hoot. He has single-handedly gotten me to watch Jets games. But no, I don't have any lifelong team loyalty; only player interest!

Squawker Jon, on the other hand, is a real Jets fan. I'm surprised he hasn't blamed me for tonight's Jets loss! Maybe it's because he at least has a Mets walkoff win -- thanks to Chan Ho Park -- to be happy about.

Jon and I were talking about how the Jets have leapfrogged from being a nonentity, to becoming the team everybody loves to hate, without actually winning anything. At least the late '90s Yankees had a little bit of a honeymoon period before they became despised!

My Red Sox/Patriots fan friend Joe had this to say to me tonight about the Jets and the Yanks:

My hatred of Rex & the Jets has actually surpassed my hatred of the Yankees. The Yankees at least win and don't brag. The Jets lose and talk smack...hilarious. I'm still sticking with my 3rd place in the AFC East prediction for Vociferous Rex and the Sanchize...
Interesting points! I wonder how many New England fans agree. What I like about Rex is what gets on so many people's nerves!

Speaking of which, there was actually a time when I didn't despise Tom Brady. It was around Super Bowl XXXVI, and I (shudder) rooted for the Patriots against the Rams. Goes to show you my judgment -- or lack thereof!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Joel Sherman has Mets' marketing critique backwards

The Post's Joel Sherman lays out the Mets' likely offseason strategy to sell 2011 tickets as follows:

1) Hire a new general manager and manager...

2) Systematically leak how great Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are doing physically over the winter...

3) Oversell the one positive from the 2010 season: the rookie class/breakout components...

Sherman's piece mostly focuses on a critique of the third item, arguing that popular new players such as Ike Davis should not be untouchable for marketing purposes if trading them will help the team. But if the Mets really want to avoid alienating their fans for a change, they should change their thinking regarding item #2 - and stop encouraging unrealistic expectations when it comes to injuries.

In January, Met fans were surprised and disappointed to learn that Carlos Beltran was undergoing knee surgery. Even worse, he might not be ready for the start of the season. Throughout the preseason and the first part of the regular season, reports kept changing as to when Beltran would return - late April, mid-May, maybe even the All-Star break.

As time went on, the story evolved to when Beltran would be able to resume "baseball activities." Media and fans became frustrated with Beltran's lack of progress. Those fans who believe that Beltran is less likely to play through injuries had new ammunition.

When Beltran finally returned after the All-Star break, manager Jerry Manuel raised expectations by putting Beltran back in centerfield and batting him cleanup despite the fact that Beltran was clearly not ready for either.

The Mets were 48-40 when Beltran returned to the lineup. Since then, they have gone 22-33. The Mets' collapse is far from all Beltran's fault. But it would have been better for both the team and Beltran if the Mets had said from the start that he probably wouldn't be back before the All-Star break, and once he returned, he was not going to be 100%.

Met fans have been burned so many times waiting for players to return from injury that the biggest marketing mistake the Mets can make is to try to burn them again by touting a quick return of Johan Santana.

Already we are hearing conflicting reports about when Santana will start "throwing" and when he will start "pitching" and when he will finally return. The truth is that nobody knows, and the main thing that nobody knows is how effective Santana will be when he returns.

The Mets' position should be that they hope to have Santana back by the All-Star break. From what has been reported, that is probably optimistic, especially having Santana back at full strength. But such a position tells fans and media right up front that the Mets are planning to play a significant portion of 2011 without Santana.

Rather than raise the fans expectations only to disappoint them yet again, the Mets will be obliged to come up with a plan B - competing without their ace.

No one is more of a competitor on the Mets than Santana, but if the Mets start fudging his return date, they run the risk of making Santana look like yet another Met who can't quite make it back on the field.

Of course, the new GM will have to do a better job than Omar Minaya of coming up with a plan B. Minaya's initial replacement for Beltran in the outfield rotation was Gary Matthews Jr. When Daniel Murphy, then the starting first baseman, got hurt in spring training, Minaya and Jerry Manuel's initial plan B was Mike Jacobs.

As for trading the young players, I agree with Sherman that nobody should be untouchable. But it's one thing for the Mets to realize that Davis is no Jason Heyward - there's still no point in trading him unless the other team still buys into the hype. Otherwise, you end up with a deal along the lines of once-hyped Lastings Milledge for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider.

Says Sherman about Davis:

What do you think will be his best year, something like .275 with 30 homers? That is good. But it probably never makes him one of the 10 best first basemen in the game.

Yes, but .275 and 30 homers would make him the cleanup hitter on the Mets. And most of the players that Sherman suggests as stopgap alternatives for Davis have no shot at 30 homers. Lyle Overbay has hit more than 20 homers just once - and his career high is 22. Adam LaRoche hit more than 30 homers once, back in 2006. And both Overbay and LaRoche have generally played in ballparks far more homer-friendly than Citi Field.

Hubie Brooks was once a popular young player, but it made sense to trade him when the Mets had a chance to get Gary Carter before the 1985 season. But unless the Mets get an offer they really can't refuse, I would hold on to the young players. Better to oversell the young players than the seriously injured veterans.

Kanye West, the Jets, and Ines Sainz, the sports "reporter"

I'm still too peeved to write about the Yankees' Arlington meltdown this weekend (I'll write on it later, when I'm less irate!), so I'll stick with some other topics I found of interest this weekend.

I watched a bunch of the MTV Music Awards; partly to see Eminem perform "Not Afraid" and partly to see how Taylor Swift and Kanye West would act. Taylor wrote and sang some whiny song that put me half-asleep halfway through. And she was onstage, barefoot! Would you want to be barefoot on the same stage where Snooki and The Situation were? Not me!

I think while Kanye was rude last year, bum-rushing the stage during Swift's moment, he was also right that Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video was one of the greatest videos of all time. One year later, "Single Ladies" is still being parodied, while who remembers Swift's video except her hardcore fans.

Anyhow, in the show's finale, Kanye did a brand-new, very catchy song called "Runaway," where he offers toasts to the d-bags, a-holes, and other assorted miscreants of the world (himself included, of course!) And the worlds were all spelled out in the song -- no bleeps for the chorus, even though I don't even want to spell them out in the blog. Come to think of it, Squawker Jon, Kanye's toast could be the new Mets theme song!

Anyhow, whenever you leave the audience singing the chorus of a song that nobody's heard before, you've won. So that match goes to Kanye West.

* * *

I recently started watching "Hard Knocks," so I''m digging the New York Jets these days. (Rex Ryan is a new hero of mine!) Then I heard about the latest controversy regarding the team. Ines Sainz, a Mexican TV sports reporter, complained that the Jets were giving her a little too much attention on the sidelines, and in the locker room, at this weekend's practice.

Sainz is a woman who bills herself as "the hottest sports reporter in Mexico." Her Twitter page looks more like one for a bikini model than a sports reporter. And she showed up at Jets practice in skin-tight jeans and a low-cut top -- an outfit more appropriate for a nightclub than the sidelines. Now she is shocked, shocked that the Jets apparently made catcalls at her. Gee, who'da thunk it?

She also seemed shocked to find out that, yes, players are naked in the locker room, tweeting:
“I die of embarrassment! I am in the locker room of the Jets waiting for Mark Sanchez while trying not to look to anywhere!”
What, were the players supposed to have covered up on her account? C'mon now.

Yes, the Jets should have acted professionally around her, and their reported behavior was inappropriate, and should be dealt with. But this is also a two-way street. Perhaps if Sainz dressed more appropriately for her job (here's another one of her outfits, while she touches a player), and seemed interested in acting more like a real reporter than a model, the players would have taken her more seriously.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Brett Favre and Roger Clemens: Are they the same person?

I was watching last night's New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings game, and the media's Brett Favre worship drove me to write this on Facebook (click here to friend me): "Is there anybody more insufferable, more self-aggrandizing in the NFL than Brett Favre? That is all."

I got a lot of positive responses to that status update, and I also got people "liking" this subsequent comment on Favre: "He's like Roger Clemens with a Mississippi drawl, instead of a Texas accent."

Anyhow, I expanded my rant into this article for The Faster Times, "Do Brett Favre and Roger Clemens Share the Same Brain?" Check it out. And while you're there, also check out my article about the three Mets who skipped out on going to Walter Reed.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Are you going to the Jay-Z and Eminem show at Yankee Stadium?

The new Yankee Stadium will host its first concerts ever on Monday and Tuesday, when hip-hop artists Jay-Z and Eminem perform in their "home and home" stadium shows. The dynamic duo did two nights in Detroit's Comerica Park last week, and the concerts got great reviews.

And I really, really want to see one of the Yankee Stadium shows, but any tickets I've seen out there have been out of my price range. (I'm hoping to get lucky on StubHub at the last minute and drag Squawker Jon; I could just imagine how much he'd love the show! Or maybe somebody will have an extra ticket for me or something. You never know!)

I'm a longtime fan of Eminem, thanks to my nephew introducing me to his music, but I only got into Jay-Z last year, thanks to the Yankees, with an assist from Oprah! When Alex Rodriguez started using a Jay-Z song as his at-bat theme song, I started paying attention to his music. Then Jay-Z gave the Yankees a new theme song of their own with "Empire State of Mind." And when I saw him on Oprah, and read her interview with him in O magazine, I was really impressed with him as a person. So I've caught up on his music since then.

I wonder if there are a lot of Yankee fans of a certain age, like myself, whose main exposure to what the kids are listening to these days are at-bat theme songs! But I used to be much more aware of what was happening in music -- especially hip-hop. I was there in person in the 80s when RUN-DMC first broke through and rocked the house at the Garden with LL Cool J and Whodini. I also saw N.W.A. and Eazy-E perform live during the "Straight Outta Compton" era. Nowadays, I can't even remember the last show I saw (I think it was Springsteen, but I can't be sure!)

Anyhow, the two Jay-Z/Eminem shows at Yankee Stadium sound like they are going to be epic, between Jay-Z and Eminem performing on the same stage, and all the guest stars (the Detroit shows had Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Drake, and Young Jeezy, among other names.) It's this year's version of The Police at Shea, when it comes to impact. I was at that concert in 1983, and I hope I get to go to one of the Jay-Z/Eminem shows this year!

What do you think? Tell  us about it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is Oliver Perez trying to get himself released?

Last year, the big story with the Mets was how many of them ended up in the hospital. Now the big story is which Mets failed to go to the Walter Reed Hospital to visit with injured vets. Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo at least offered explanations as to why they didn't go.

"I don't know who is creating this issue," Beltran said. "I had my own things to do, and I couldn't make it."

Beltran explained that he had a meeting involving his own charity and that he had previously visited a veterans hospital with Fred Wilpon.

Whether or not you accept Beltran's explanation probably depends on what one thinks of him in the first place. If you take him at his word, his heart is in the right place, but he didn't realize how his actions would look to management, fans and the media.

Or maybe he doesn't care. Beltran has reason to be fed up with Mets management after how they initially dealt with his injuries. And he has probably lost many of the fans for good. In the final year of Beltran's contract, expect him to be highly motivated to do well so that he can get a big new contract somewhere else.

Luis Castillo said that he missed the trip to Walter Reed because he was "squeamish." Now he knows how Met fans feel when they see his name in the lineup. If that is the real reason Castillo didn't go, then he certainly is clueless, but not necessarily someone who is not a team guy.

But if Castillo is fed up with the Mets, then he is even more clueless. Castillo probably wouldn't be on a big league roster were it not for his contract. If he has become a malcontent who thinks he should be starting, that is even more reason to get rid of him as soon as possible.

And then there's Oliver Perez. The days of Good Ollie and Bad Ollie are long gone - now there's only Bad Ollie, who didn't even try to come up with an excuse:

"I don't answer," Perez said, "anything about outside the stadium."

It's as if Perez' agent, Scott Boras, has been telling him what to say and do so that the Mets cut him loose. Knowing Boras, he thinks he can somehow parlay Perez' freedom into even more undeserved money.

Ultimately, this story comes down to the same old story for the Mets - they need to eat the contracts of Perez and Castillo. Beltran is more complicated, since he actually has a chance of regaining at least some of his skills.

But the first objective of the offseason must be to make sure that we don't have endure any more such stories about Perez and Castillo, because they will finally be gone.

Check out Squawker Lisa's take on the Mets' visit to Walter Reed in The Faster Times.

I watch one pitch -- and it's Nick Swisher's walkoff homer!

I completely forgot that the Yankees were playing in the afternoon yesterday. Then I saw something online about them losing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, and I hurriedly rushed to put on the TV. I saw only one pitch. And it had a great result! Nick Swisher hit a walkoff homer, exactly one year to the day that he hit a walkoff homer to win a game for the Yanks against the Orioles the year before.

Squawker Jon actually grudgingly gave Brian Cashman credit for something today -- picking up Swisher! Jon also made a comparison between Swisher and Jeff Francoeur. Only thing is, Swisher is having another great year as a Yankee, while Francouer is, um, no longer a Met!

Oh, and how about Buck Showalter? Anybody who thinks managers don't matter ought to see what these Orioles are doing. They very nearly swept the Yankees this week, and look like a very different team than the one Jon and I saw in Baltimore this June. Too bad the Mets didn't fire Jerry Manuel, and hire Showalter!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Contest: Win a trip to Fenway Park for Yankees-Red Sox

The site, a site I regularly shop at, sent us an email the other day to let our readers know about about their Ultimate Red Sox Experience contest. To me, the Ultimate Red Sox Experience is watching Jonathan Papelbon blow yet another save -- preferably against the Yankees! But Overstock has something a little different in mind. Here's the deal, from the email they sent me:
The “Ultimate Red Sox Experience” sweepstakes, created in partnership with and the Boston Red Sox, will give three winners all-expense-paid trips for two to see the Red Sox battle the rival New York Yankees at Boston's Fenway Park October 2nd. A grand prize winner will have the opportunity to post balls, strikes and runs on the stadium's iconic “Green Monster” scoreboard for an inning.
You can go to to enter the contest. Of course, it's geared towards Red Sox fans -- many of which are regular readers of Subway Squawkers. But that doesn't mean Yankee fans can't enter. And I want to win this contest! Believe it or not, I have never been to Fenway Park, or even Boston, so this would be a cool trip to win, especially to finally see a Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park! And how fun would it be for this Bombers fan to run the Sox's scoreboard for an inning!

The contest ends September 10, so hurry up and enter. When you go to the site, you can also see "webisodes" showing what happens when the VP of Red Sox Nation -- and the VP of Overstock -- switch jobs. Hilarity ensues!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

John Sterling goes too far with Marcus Thames call

I was busy for most of Labor Day weekend, so I didn't get to see much of what was happening in Yankeeland (although Squawker Jon and I did watch a bunch of the Dallas Braden game when we were eating clam strips at Martell's Tiki Bar!)

But I did hear John Sterling make a horrifying call -- maybe his worst yet -- about Marcus Thames. Sterling exhorted, "Happy Thames are here again" over a Thames hit. Um, no. It's "Happy DAYS Are Here Again." So the play on words here -- using Thames as the word Times -- makes no sense. If Sterling wants to say something about "Good Thames" or something, that would be one thing. But you can't just willy-nilly throw in Thames' name in the "Happy Thames" scenario. It just sounds terrible!

Speaking of terrible, it figures that when I sit down to watch a full game last night, like I did to watch CC Sabathia go for No. 20 against the Baltimore Orioles, that CC would lose his first game at Yankee Stadium in over a year. Bummer.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

So how much will Derek Jeter get in his next contract?

There's a whole to-do in Yankeeland these days over Derek Jeter, between him having a non Jeteresque season, and what he should be paid in his new contract. I saw a lot of fans on Facebook angry over this article, which suggests that Jeter's uninspriring 2010 season (he's hitting almost 50 points lower than his career batting average) could cost him in his next deal. Lots of fans think Jeter should get paid whatever he wants, even if, according to the article, some close to him thinks he wants an A-Rod type contract:
Jeter may be the ultimate team guy, but two former teammates believe that when it comes to getting paid, his pride will demand that he get something approaching A-Rod money, regardless of what he hits this season.
Given that A-Rod makes an average of $27 million a year plus incentives now, and still has seven years left on his own ridiculous contract, does that mean Jeter should get the same? I disagree. A-Rod isn't worth that money now, and neither is Jeter.

I know that talking anything other than "Jeter is the greatest Yankee ever" is like touching the third rail in Yankeeland. But there is no way any other team would pay him anything close to those numbers. So why should the Yankees?

So how much should Jeter get? How about $20 million a year for four years as a starting point? That seems to be a number that reflects his value in Yankeedom, but doesn't tie the team up until he's 43 years old.

What do you think Jeter is worth? Tell us about it!

Will the Yankees make the playoffs? What are the odds!

This article was provided by Phillip Thomson, who is the editor of Thanks to him for writing his analysis of the MLB Playoff Odds. Read on to see where our friend predicts the Yankees will end up.
Current MLB Playoff Odds

As the MLB season winds down, the sports books across the world are starting to heat up. With races so tight in the AL East, NL East and NL Central, anything can happen over the course of the next 30-plus games. And that’s not even bringing the Wild Card race into it, with teams like Boston, San Francisco, Philly and the White Sox all waiting to duke it out for the berth.
Drop your fan feelings for a minute, if at all possible, and let’s take a look at how the odds makers of the world see the race shaping up in the waning months of the season.
Some may feel as if fans keep the sport alive, but that’s only half right. It’s the fans’ money. Money for tickets, money for advertising and, of course, major money spent in the betting world.

Baseball isn’t like casino blackjack game or a brand of poker. People doing the serious betting in baseball stalk the stat sheets and review rosters like religion.

Not to slag off Hold’em or even the best slots online, but everyday gamblers are nowhere near as meticulous as sports betters. To that end, these numbers are gospel and they’re followed like gnats follow a picnic basket.
American League Playoff Odds

As far as simply making the playoffs, the Tampa Bay Rays are in the driver’s seat at 92.02% to make the postseason either by way of division win or Wild Card berth (38.722% to drop off).  Because of the Rays’ ability to recapture the AL East lead from their rival New York Yankees, Tampa Bay is now favored over the Yanks to win the AL Pennant – 53.2% to 43.3%.

The Yankees are the closest to the Rays inside the division, favored at 89.1% to make the playoffs and around 47% to win the division. The Red Sox are still holding out hope but, at five games back of even the Wild Card, their postseason hopes are looking pitiful on paper – hovering at around 17.6%.

The AL Central doesn’t have quite the same heat to it. The Minnesota Twins are 86% to make the playoffs, heavily favored over the Chicago White Sox’s chances at 14.31%.

Over in the AL West, it’s the Texas Rangers’ lead to lose. Texas has a solid 8-game lead over Oakland and is sitting pretty at 96.24% to make the playoffs.

The AL Playoff picture, if the odds hold true, should shape up as such: Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Texas winning their divisions, with the Yankees earning the Wild Card berth.

For the Tampa Bay/New York race in particular, the Rays are currently 1/2 to drop off and win the Wild Card, and the Yankees are sitting at 13/10. Boston is 14:1.

National League Playoff Odds

The Atlanta Braves find that their in-division race with the Phillies is a little closer than anticipated, but for the NL playoff picture in general and not simply the NL East, the Braves are looking impressive at 91.88%. The Phillies aren’t that strong for either the division or the Wild Card, due to the other teams in the NL, and their WC odds are 17.121%, factoring in for the conceivably possible division win. The Phillies do a little better in their Pennant odds, hitting 13/4. Ironic.

The NL Central is another tight race as the season winds down. You have the Cincinnati Reds (88.43% to enter the playoffs) out in front of the St. Louis Cardinals (42.81%), and the Reds with the best odds of winning the NL Pennant at 79.29%.

It doesn’t take an expert at video poker on line to tell you that the Padres have the best chances of entering the playoffs at 95.32 percent, and also an 89% projected chance to pick up the Pennant (7:1 in betting language). The Giants are also in the hunt. They’re down but not out with a 37.49% long-odd to make the postseason.

If the odds makers know what they’re doing, we should be looking at the Braves, Reds and Padres winning their division, with the Cardinals edging out the NL Wild Card.

For the last bit of irony in the betting world: It’s actually the New York Yankees favored above all to go to and win the World Series. At 3-5:1, depending on where you look, odds makers feel as if they’re too sluggish to pull favorite over the Rays for the division title, but simply too skilled to lose in the playoffs. 

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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