Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Message to Joba Chamberlain: Time to grow up

Joba Chamberlain is his own worst enemy. Not only did he never really apologize Tuesday for his recklessness in jumping on a trampoline when recovering from Tommy John surgery, when he explained how he messed up his ankle, he refused to even admit that he really had an open dislocation in the first place. (Brian Cashman had to do damage control later, explaining the exact nature of the injury.)
Talk about denial not being just a river in Egypt. Joba denied he felt much pain. He denied that he would miss much time from this injury; insisting he would be back in 2012. He even denied that this was much of a setback from his recovery from Tommy John surgery, saying:
"It's going to give me more time to rehab," he said. "It's going to allow me to continue my shoulder strengthening and everything that goes along with that. It will put me past that year mark of June. It will be stronger for that and I think that's a positive."
There must be a pony in there somewhere, Joba!

Let's review. A 250+ pound professional ballplayer, who is paid for what his body can do, and who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, thought it was a good idea to jump on a trampoline. Then, he still won't even acknowledge that it was a bad decision, trying to put a positive spin on it. Good grief.

And call me hardhearted, but I'm not buying him pulling the dad card here, when he explained the "biggest thing" he took away from this: 
“This game is very important to me. It allows me to do a lot of things, but my son is my pride and joy. The biggest thing is to don’t be so hard on yourself and realize what you were doing; you were trying to be a great dad."
Yeah, because that's the biggest problem with Joba Chamberlain; that he's just too hard on himself. Now I'm worried he's going to get another injury -- hurting his arm again from patting himself on the back so hard!

And sorry, but I guess I missed  how recklessly risking your career and your future earning powers makes you "a great dad." As my friend Sully Baseball put it, "Do you know what a REALLY good father would do? Not put at risk a career that could not only take care of his kids financially but their grandkids as well."

Joba also said, "I’m never going to look at anything I do with my son as reckless.” Not even when he had to sign a waiver warning him of paralysis, death, and all sorts of injuries that could ensue when going to this trampoline facility. Using Joba's logic, that skateboarder who fell with his kid at a skateboarding park is a candidate for Father of the Year!

He also called the incident "another thing in the book of Joba." Is that book written in crayon?

When asked what he learned from this debacle, Joba said this:
"Never question being a father," Chamberlain said. ""I felt like I let my team down, to be perfectly honest with you, and that's the most frustrating part. But when I looked back and realized what was going on, I will never question being a father."
Oh, great. Thanks in no small part to the Bob Klapisches of the world, who have been pushing this "he was just being a good dad" nonsense, Joba really believes this stuff.

But maybe it's time for Mr. Chamberlain to start questioning things -- starting with his terrible decision-making, and continuing with his lack of conditioning and commitment to the game.
And it's time for Joba to grow up already. Is he really trying to tell us there was nothing that he could have done with his son in Tampa, Florida, one of the great vacation spots in this country, that didn't involve risking his career and health. Really?

Joba  also said:
“It’s still frustrating because I feel that I let [the team] down,’’ he said, “but that’s the biggest thing that I got. It’s just another hill that I’ve had to climb, and we’ll get over it and we’ll get going and be better for it.’’
Except he's the one who put the hill there. Not anybody else. He really is his own worst enemy.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The curious case of Joba Chamberlain and the trampoline

Squawker Jon called me yesterday to tell me the news of Joba Chamberlain suffering an open dislocation on an ankle due to jumping on a trampoline. This was the second Friday in a row with shocking news -- last week, of course, was Andy Pettitte's return. But this week's news, of course, is really awful.

First of all, I hope Chamberlain makes a full recovery -- it sounds like a horrible, gruesome injury, and he reportedly lost a lot of blood. And what a terrible thing for his young son to see. Ankle injuries are serious stuff -- it's taken nearly two years for Kendrys Morales to recover from busting up his ankle. Joba's got a long haul ahead of him, that's for sure.

That being said, I know I will get some grief for this, but I have to wonder what the heck he was thinking here. Any time you engage in a physical activity, it's a risk, especially when you are a professional ballplayer who is paid based on being able to perform physical tasks, which is why the Yanks ban so much off-season physical activities, including pickup basketball, as Aaron Boone learned. (If I ran the Yankees, I would ban players from doing anything more strenuous in their free time than tiddlywinks and Monopoly, but that's me!)

Anyhow, given that Joba is recovering from Tommy John surgery, you would think that he would think, if nothing else, that if he were to stumble on the trampoline, that he could mess up his arm again. In addition, according to Daily News columnist Bill Madden, Joba had been "explicitly told by the Yankee trainers not to engage in any sort of physical activity that would potentially put his arm in harm’s way."

And trampolines are more dangerous than you might think. Did you know that a lot of homeowners' insurance companies will not cover you if you have a trampoline? They are that dangerous. As the Bleeding Yankee Blue blog pointed out, a lot of people -- over one hundred thousand in 2006 -- get hurt jumping on trampolines. And, as I discovered today, a few people have even died from using trampolines.

In addition, I did some research on Tampa play centers that have trampolines. We do not know as of yet which place Chamberlain went to with his son, but I found information on two big trampoline centers in Tampa --AirHeads Trampoline Arena and Boing! Jump Center. And at both places, you have to sign waivers detailing all the risks you potentially face at their facilities. Here is just some of what the two-page AirHeads waiver says:
All participants acknowledge that participation in ATA trampoline games or activities entails known and unanticipated risks that could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to myself, my child, to property or to third parties.  I understand that such risks simply cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of the activity. The risks include, but are not limited to: Slipping and falling, collision with fixed objects or people, injuries that include: sprains, fractures, scrapes, bruises, cuts, dislocations, pinched fingers, and serious injuries to the head, back or neck; the negligence of other participants, myself, or my child; my own or my child’s physical condition; physical contact with others; and failure to warn of an inherent risk.  
The Boing! waiver says, in part, that:

Such risks could result in, but not be limited to, damage and/or injury to myself, to property, and/or to third parties and/or entities, including, but not limited to: loss of property, loss of balance, fatigue, dizziness, paralysis, quadriplegia, death, and/or physical and/or emotional injuries, including, but not limited to, sprains, strains, contusions, abrasions, fractures, scrapes, bumps, bruises, cuts, lacerations, soft tissue damage, dislocations, pinched fingers and/or nerves, and/or serious, crippling and/or disabling injuries to the face, arms, hands, legs, feet, head, back, shoulders, spine, spinal cord, neck, internal body parts and/or any other body parts.

So, if Joba went to either of these places or to another other trampoline facility, chances are extremely likely that he would have had to sign such a waiver. Why didn't it occur to him, when signing a waiver saying about how you could potentially die or become a quadriplegic from jumping on a trampoline, that perhaps it wasn't the greatest idea in the world to do so?

I have heard people defend Chamberlain for going to a play center, suggesting that he was just being a good dad with his son. Yet he could have just let his son jump on the trampoline, or picked a less dangerous activity to do with his son for that day instead. You can think I'm too judgmental if you want, but I can't get past why an injury-ridden ballplayer recovering from surgery would think that jumping on a trampoline would be a wise decision. This isn't like getting injured by riding the Dumbo kiddie ride at Walt Disney World, after all.

So, I hope Joba fully recovers from the ankle dislocation. But I also hope that he starts taking things more seriously. As much as I think the Derek Jeter worship in this town is over the top, I do appreciate that Derek has always taken care of himself and stayed out of situations that could jeopardize his health and his career. It might do Joba some good to think to himself once in a while, "What would Derek Jeter do?"

What do you think about Joba Chamberlain? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Subway Squawkers debate: Is Tim Tebow good or bad for the New York Jets?

Squawker Lisa, one of my teams has embarrassed themselves yet again. Did Woody Johnson feel left out with the Wilpons battling James Dolan to see who's the worst owner in town? Trading for Tim Tebow is a move meant more for publicity than for improving the team. The Jets need help at receiver, safety, linebacker and offensive line more than they need someone who can run the wildcat a few plays a game. A fourth-round pick may not seem like much, but yesterday the Eagles traded a fourth-rounder for former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans. But why fill one of your actual needs when you can trade for a quarterback just days after giving Mark Sanchez an extension and signing Drew Stanton to be backup?

The notion that Tebow can help in the locker room is ludicrous. If a backup quarterback has any clout in the locker room, that says more about the starting QB. Instead, the locker room will be further fractured as factions form around Sanchez and Tebow. Within a year, one of them will no longer be a Jet.

I hope the holdup over the salary clause in the contract kills the deal, but whether or not it does, what does it say about Mike Tannenbaum, who rose to power as a capologist, that he missed it?

The Jets have traded for a quarterback who had dramatic success in getting his team to the playoffs and won a game there, but is generally considered to be subpar. They already have a quarterback who got his team to the playoffs twice and won four games there, but is generally considered to be subpar.

After the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008, the Jets responded by trading for Brett Favre. By the end of the year, their coach was fired and Favre was gone. After the Giants won their most recent Super Bowl, the publicity-hungry Jets have traded for Tebow. Let's see who's still standing in the Jets' circus at the end of the year.

* * *

Squawker Lisa responds to Squawker Jon's tirade:  First of all, before I unleash a tirade of my own, I would like to say that I was the one to point out to Jon yesterday that the Jets were interested in Tebow. Not only did he pooh-pooh it, he nay-sayed that it could be true. Then, when we were on the phone today, he heard the news that Tebow would be a Jet, and told me. I screamed into the phone, I was so excited. Jon just screamed. I think he looked like this picture.

So Jon, while I am practicing my Tebowing moves to get ready for the fall, I must take issue with you comparing Tim Tebow to Brett Favre, especially since Favre's tenure with the Jets is most remembered by him sending out a photo of his junk to female Jets staffers. Blech. I don't think we have to worry about Tebow doing such a thing.

Second, as a great man recently wrote, "The team with the guts to trade for Tebow and start him at QB will get a steal. He's a force of competitive nature. #FreeTebow" Okay, it wasn't really a great man, it was Skip Bayless, but we both think Tebow is awesome!

Third, could the Jets locker room be any worse? Let me remind you of how one of your team captains, Santonio Holmes, quit on his team last year, and how your team's own players were questioning the quarterback. And you're worried Tebow could make things worse? That's like somebody on "Hoarders" with a houseful of adult diapers stinking up the joint griping about a stray gum wrapper lying around!

Holmes was called a "cancer" in the clubhouse. Tebow is like sunshine and lollipops and unicorns and double rainbows.  How could you not like him? Are you against fluffy kittens, too?

Sure, this move probably has more than a little to do with publicity, and what is wrong with that? It's a Steinbrenner-esque move. It reminds me a little of George Steinbrenner bringing in Goose Gossage after Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young Award except that neither player isn't really that good. Work with me here, okay?

And let me remind you, since John Elway seems to have forgotten, that if it weren't for Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos would not have made the playoffs last season, and Peyton Manning would be going to the 49ers. Tebow does have some kind of magic to him!

How long before the call starts for people to call for Tebow to be the starting quarterback -- I say it will take as long as Sanchez's first game! Come to think of it, do you want to chip in on buying a pro-Tebow billboard?

Finally, as my man Vince Young had to say today, this could be good for the Sanchize. “I know it’s tough for him with a guy like Tim Tebow coming to be a part of your team and taking a bit of your fame as a leader,” said Young. “But at the same time, it’s a good thing as well. He can help out the running game. He can push you to play even better for your team.” You see? It will all work out!

* * *

Squawker Jon's rebuttal to Lisa: 

Tebow was a feel-good story for a few weeks when he kept winning in dramatic fashion. Remember when Aaron Small kept winning for the Yankees in 2005? Another feel-good story enhanced by the player's deeply religious beliefs. There was talk of making a movie about Small. But the magic wore off the following season.

Sure, Tebow has a longer record of winning, with two national championships in college. But quarterbacks winning college championships don't necessarily turn into pro successes. You should know this as a Vince Young fan.

(By the way, I was surprised to see you quoting VY for leadership advice. What other words of wisdom did he have - "if Tebow takes over as quarterback and they won't let you back in the game, just throw your equipment in the stands"?)

In fact, the Jets already have a backup quarterback who won a national title, Greg McElroy of Alabama. And the year McElroy won, 2009, the quarterback he beat in the SEC championship game was none other than Tim Tebow.

As for clubhouse chemistry, Holmes was disgruntled when Sanchez couldn't get him the ball. Imagine how he'll feel when Tebow is aiming the ball in his general direction.  

And how can you say I'm against unicorns? As someone patiently waiting for the Mets and Jets to produce championship teams, it's clear I believe in mythical creatures.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Now Met Fans Need to Be Willfully Blind

And here I thought the worst day of the offseason would be Jose Reyes signing with the Marlins. Instead, the Wilpons and Saul Katz reached a $162 million settlement with Madoff trustee Irving Picard in which Mets ownership will not have to make any payments for three years, by which time the $162 million could be much less or completely gone, depending on the results of Picard's clawback suits.

This is the worst day for a Picard since Captain Jean-Luc was taken by the Borg.

Much like Bobby Bonilla's contract, the days of reckoning for the Wilpons and Katz get pushed back a few years, enough time for the Wilpons and Katz to figure out what to do about the team's hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Attendance and TV ratings are likely to continue to fall as the team sinks into last place. And payroll will fall even more, since the team won't have enough revenue. Even though it will be ownership's fault for not putting forth a good product, the fans will be blamed for not providing the revenue anyway.

In today's settlement, the trustee dropped the charge that the Wilpons and Katz were "willfully blind" to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Willful blindness is a legal term that refers to the acts of a person who intentionally fails to be informed about matters that would make the person liable.

Met fans are now being asked to be willfully blind to the team's lack of hope. We are supposed to ignore the facts and believe that the current team is competitive. That the organization will have the resources to build a winner.

In fact, we are supposed to believe that the resources have always been there, since the Wilpons have consistently denied that the Madoff scandal had any effect on the team's finances. From ESPN: Katz said outside the courthouse that the Mets were on secure financial footing. "Always was," he said.

A team that just cut its payroll by an MLB record $50 million was, and continues to be, on secure financial footing.

Mets 2012: The Magic Is Back - as long as you're willfully blind.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why I have very mixed emotions about Andy Pettitte coming back

Of all the dramatic things! Oh my goodness gracious! Andy Pettitte is coming back!

Even though Andy Pettitte is one of my all-time favorite Yankee players, I have to say I'm not so sure that him coming back in 2012 is such a great idea. For one thing, he's going to be 40 years old this summer. I know Pettitte says he's mentally ready, determined, will work as hard as physically possible, blah blah blah, but Father Time stops for nobody, not even Andy Pettitte. Not to mention how much injury time Pettitte missed over the past few years, and could miss again.

In addition, other than Jamie Moyer and Mariano Rivera, how many pitchers are successful into their forties? And the reason we remember them is because they are so rare.

Lots of Yankee fans were excited when Roger Clemens came back, but he ran out of gas in about three months. So did Pedro Martinez with his go-round with the Philadelphia Phillies. Could that happen with Andy?

At any rate, I'm kind of astonished that Brian Cashman would offer Pettitte in December $10-12 million for one year, according to various news reports. Paying a pitcher heading close to 40 that kind of money, when he hasn't pitched in a year, is a bit wacky. The current $2.5 million contract is much more sensible, though.

I also really liked the way Mike Mussina and Paul O'Neill retired, and I thought Pettitte would stick to that -- go through your last year, play well, and leave people wanting more. It will make me very sad if Pettitte embarrasses himself on the field this year.

Look, I'm not trying to be a hater here. I hope I am wrong. But I'm not sure if pulling a Brett Favre here was the best of ideas for Pettitte. If he ends up having a great year, I will be happy to eat my words. But right now, I'd hate to see him tamper with his great Yankee legacy by having a sub-par season.

What do you think about Andy Pettitte coming back? Tell us about it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Understatement of the Day: "Obviously This Will Impact Our Left-Handed Relief"

Sandy Alderson is referring to Tim Byrdak, who undergoes knee surgery Tuesday and could be out until late May. Considering Byrdak is the Mets' only lefty reliever, his injury does a lot more than "impact" left-handed relief - it eliminates it for the Mets.

You see, the Mets have no quality lefthanded reliever to replace Byrdak. They are reduced to looking at the likes of C.J. Nitkowski and Chuck James. Nitkowski last pitched in MLB in 2005. He's spent much of the time since in Japan. James has pitched 10 innings in the majors since 2008.

It's always possible that the Mets will end up with a heartwarming comeback story along the lines of R.A. Dickey or Jason Isringhausen. But these stories work best when an enterprising GM is willing to explore all avenues to improve his team.

They don't work nearly as well when they are the ONLY avenues for improving the team.

I think letting Jose Reyes go was a big mistake, but at least a case could be made that he is a big injury risk, even if the real reason had more to do with not having the money.

But where is the case with having no depth anywhere on the team? Of being unable to replace Byrdak, who is making $900,000? 

Injuries are inevitable. Especially with the Mets of the last few years. Even when Omar Minaya had big payrolls, the Mets still managed to have less depth than they should have.

David Wright's injury is also problematic, but it's hard for any team to have a ready replacement for someone like Wright. The main thing the Mets can do is try to get him healthy.

But having no solid potential replacements for Byrdak should have been avoidable. Instead, it's probably just the first time this year we will find out just how deep the payroll problems go.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Squawker Media Alert:: Lisa on radio at 1 p.m. today

Lisa will be squawking baseball with Mike Lindsley of Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 1 p.m. today. If you are in the Syracuse area, you can listen to her on 1260 AM on the radio. If not, check out the station's web site and listen to her there. Thanks!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Farewell to Jason Varitek: the catcher who fights like a girl

So new Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is trying to ingratiate himself with Red Sox Nation by, among other things, praising retiring catcher Jason Varitek saying the Red Sox captain was "able to beat up Alex" Rodriguez. (Bobby V also said that Derek Jeter never actually practiced the flip play, and he nearly hurt himself the next day having to do a 180 and take that back!)

Anyhow, I have never understood why Red Sox fans praise that "fight" as being some great moment for their team, nor do I think that Tek "beat up" anybody. Because, frankly, Jason Varitek fought like a girl in the brouhaha. First of all, you cannot be considered a tough guy when you keep your catcher's mask during a fight. Some warrior. Second, he kept his catcher's mitt on, too. Third, he grabbed at A-Rod's face like a girl would in a hair-pulling snit fit or something. Fourth, he grabbed at Alex's crotch, too. Again, that's fighting like a girl, too.

The whole "fight" was stupid -- and orchestrated. If you may remember, Rodriguez helped the Yanks beat the Red Sox the night before, so Bronson (aka "Brandon," as A-Rod always called him) Arroyo plunked A-Rod to start something, one of the many, many times Yankees got plunked over the years by Boston pitchers. (And how long did it take for David Ortiz to get his? A decade? But I digress.)

Here is what one Red Sox blogger said the other day praising Varitek in the week that, as he puts it, "the warrior is hanging up his armor" (you mean the catcher's mask he hid in?) Emphasis added by me:
Arroyo buzzed him squarely in the back on his second trip to the plate. Rodriguez didn't like it and started jawing (that's polite for cursing out Arroyo) as he slowly walked to first base.

Sox catcher Jason Varitek decidedly didn't like what he heard, stood between Arroyo and ARod, asked ARod to repeat himself, ARod obliged and it was on. Rodriguez's head jolted back as Tek mashed his face with his catcher's mitt and then, frankly, raunched him by getting his right arm under ARod's crotch and clasped his left hand behind the ARod's buttocks and lifted. It hurts just to write about it.
Oooh, what a fighter! Puh-lease.

Look, other than the fight, I really don't dislike Varitek -- he stood up and participated in the "It Gets Better" project, and he seems like a decent enough guy, although his leadership during the fried chicken and beer brouhaha last year left something to be desired. For years, he hasn't even cracked  my least favorite Red Sox list. But please, stop telling me what a great fighter Varitek was against A-Rod. I've seen tougher fights in the girls' bathroom in high school.

What do you say? Does Jason Varitek fight like a girl?

Have no fear, Mets ticket sales are here

Underdog, who speaks in rhyme
Tells us that it’s presale time
Now that Mets will wear the “U”
I knew what I had to do
Get my tickets just to say
Jose Jose Jose Jose.
I won’t believe that it is real
Until I see Jose in teal.
At least we still have David Wright
Until the trade deadline’s in sight.

Tuesday night, April 24, Mets vs. Marlins. We’d better be on time in case Jose gets a hit in the top of the first, then takes himself out of the game.

Lisa and I also got tickets for two of the Subway Series games at Citi Field.

Now we’re waiting for the scheduling of Underdog Bobblehead Night.

Underdog, the Mets Generation

Underdog – David Wright
Simon Bar Sinister – Fred Wilpon
Cad Lackey – Jeff Wilpon
Riff Raff – Saul Katz
Sandy the Safecracker – Sandy Alderson
General Brainley – Paul DePodesta
Needles the Tailor – Charlie Samuels
Nails the Carpenter – Lenny Dykstra
General Baldedash – Bud Selig
Sweet Polly Purebred – Mr. Met

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