Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Will Citi Field Hurt Curtis Granderson’s Fantasy Numbers?

The following is a guest column from FanDuel.com:

The New York Mets have already made a decent amount of moves this offseason, with the biggest one being the signing of Curtis Granderson. The outfielder will be moving across the city to play, but the move could hurt his fantasy baseball 2014 numbers.

After another disastrous season, the New York Mets have been fairly aggressive on the open market. They locked up Granderson with a four-year, $60 million deal so that they could have some stability in the outfield. However, his splits these last few years show that he is a much different hitter when he is outside of Yankee Stadium.

Every left-handed hitter salivates when they see that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. When Granderson arrived in the Bronx, he made a conscious effort to pull the ball more to take advantage. His home run totals went up, but his average went down. Some of those home runs will be outs in Citi Field though, which would hurt his power and average numbers.

Another thing working against Granderson is that he will be switching leagues. This is not as big of a deal as it was in the past thanks to interleague play, but it is still something that could make a little bit of a difference. The American League East has better pitching than the National League East, but these are mostly different arms he will be seeing.

As he ages, Granderson is definitely going to notice the 15-25 foot difference in right field between Yankee and Citi. The 33-year old will also be running less and racking up extra base hits as well. Expect his fantasy baseball 2014 value to take a hit, especially if he doesn’t make any changes to his approach at the plate.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

When the light at the end of the tunnel is Bartolo Colon

How is it that the Mets' free-agent signings indicate they are spending again? The payroll currently projects to $83 million, which would be lower than last season. And the Mets' next offseason goals appear to be dumping Ike Davis and perhaps Daniel Murphy because they are arbitration-eligible.

The Mets need bullpen depth, especially with Bobby Parnell still recovering from herniated disk surgery, but they let LaTroy Hawkins go because they didn't want to pay a 41-year-old $2.5 million. And yet they are willing to give Bartolo Colon, who turns 41 in May, $20 million.

The signings of Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Colon would be a lot more exciting if the Mets were actually adding pieces, but they still appear to be treading water. If trading Davis and/or Murphy can improve the club, great, but Davis has much more upside than Lucas Duda and Murphy is a career .290 hitter. The Mets hit .237 as a team in 2013 and new additions Granderson and Young both hit below that last season.  Even if they both manage to hit homers in Citi Field, it will be nice to have someone on base.

On the plus side, the signing of Colon shows that the Mets are not simply writing off 2014, but are willing to make a short-term investment to strengthen the rotation in Matt Harvey's absence. Signing Granderson does offer hope that the team will have hitting for the next two or there years, and if they are lucky, four years.

Young is a gamble. Billy Beane's front office is as smart as any in MLB, and they elected to let both Young and Colon go.

When Granderson joined the Mets, he said that people tell him that true New Yorkers are Met fans. I'm not even sure what a "true New Yorker" is. I'm a native, and I've always been a Met fan, but one could argue that the hordes of people who come to New York because that is where they want to be are equally true New Yorkers as those of us who never left.

What is less debatable is that a true New York team is willing to spend money, since New York is the biggest of the big markets. As New York fans, including Met fans, know all too well, spending money does not always translate into victories or even good teams.  But Met fans also know that the last time the team ramped up its spending, they won 97 games and made it to Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006.

If the remainder of the offseason does not result in an increased payroll, let's hope it at least does not consist mostly of salary dumps.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bill Madden shows the hypocrisy of MLB when it comes to steroids and the Hall of Fame

New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden is really down on steroids. After all, he called A-Rod the "Whitey Bulger of baseball" and has said when it comes to his MLB Hall of Fame vote that "I will never vote for any player known to have used steroids."

Yet it seems like his outrage on PEDs is very selective. After all, he recently exhorted the Mets -- twice -- to sign known PED users, cynically writing that "there is one other added advantage in signing Biogenesis clients" Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta" -- "Both of them have demonstrated they know how to beat a drug test."

And this Sunday, Madden wrote that the Mets ought to sign 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, another Biogenesis client who tested positive for PEDs in 2012. Oh, and Madden thinks they ought to give the obese pitcher a two-year deal! Yet Madden never noted that 1) Colon is a known PED user, 2) Given how well Colon has pitched at his age and weight, he is very likely still using, 3) If he were to get suspended again for PEDs, he would face a 150-game suspension, which could cripple the Mets, and 4) Even if he weren't suspended, the only way somebody over 40 is going to be pitching the way he had is if he's using steroids. Not to mention that there was none of Madden's usual outrage over PED use. Guess he saves that for A-Rod and Barry Bonds.

Then Monday, after managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, and Bobby Cox were all elected by MLB's Veterans' Committee to the Hall of Fame, Madden praised their "integrity and character" and claimed that Marvin Miller was not elected to the hall in this election because of his opposition to PED testing. Madden writes:

You want to know why Miller, who missed by only one vote in the last Expansion Era election three years ago, didn’t come close this time? You probably need to look no further than his repeated statements prior to his death in November 2012, decrying the players union’s agreeing to drug testing.

Almost to a man, the Hall of Fame players have condemned the alleged steroids cheats — Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens et al, who have obliterated their records or passed many of them on the all-time lists — and Miller’s adamant stance against taking measures to clean up the game has diminished him despite all his accomplishments on their behalf.
Let's review. Madden doesn't even note that Torre, LaRussa and Cox were the top three managers of the Steroid Era, all of whom immensely benefited from PED users on their team. Lest we forget that Roger Clemens will not be elected to the Hall of Fame anytime soon because of PED use, but Joe Torre, who he played under for two of Torre's four rings, gets elected unanimously. (Torre also had nine of his 2000 WS Champion Yankees named in the Mitchell Report.)

Not to mention that Tony LaRussa was manager of the Oakland A's when Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire helped get the whole steroid era going in the first place, or that LaRussa was McGwire's manager in 1998 when he beat Roger Maris' home run record. And that Bobby Cox managed, among others, David Justice and John Rocker, PED users.

I think its a real disconnect with baseball -- and with Madden. Why are PED users kept out of the Hall of Fame when the managers who benefited from their PED use elected unanimously on the first try? Why does Madden claim (wrongly, I believe) that Miller was excluded due to his stance on this issue and not even note that the managers he praises benefited from players' steroid usage?

I contend that the only way to get PEDs out of sports is for teams and managers to suffer the consequences, not just the individual players. Yet we're supposed to believe that three of the smartest managers in the game had no idea what their players were doing. Child, please.

Why Robinson Cano did the right thing in going to Seattle (and the Yankees have no plan and no clue)

Earth to Yankee fans: our fanbase never has the right to complain about a player going for the money, least of all Robinson Cano, who actually was paid below market value as a Yankee (he never made more than $15 million a year). As if all the free agents over the years who got big salaries in the Bronx only did it for a chance to play in pinstripes, and money wasn't a consideration.

One blogger even wrote a list of the many reasons that Cano wasn't a "true Yankee," and listed No. 1 as him going for the money! (Oh, and please, stop with the crazy notion that Carlos Beltran took a pay cut to be a Yankee -- he got a three-year deal worth $45 million, after the Yanks initially insisted he wouldn't get more than two years, which means we will have him stumbling around the outfield when he is almost 40. That's the "financial flexibility" not signing Cano got the Yankees -- the ability to give Beltran a third year!)

Newsflash: this "love of the game" and "love of the pinstripes" stuff is a fantasy. And don't give the Core Four argument, as one deluded Yankee fan did with me this weekend. (She blocked me on Facebook when I pointed out that contrary to her assertion that the Core Four never left the team for more money, Andy Pettitte actually did just that!) And the other three members of the Core Four all were the highest-paid at the time at their positions. Besides, last time I checked, Derek Jeter got a new $12 million deal for 2014 after having all of 12 hits in 2013, when his contract option only entitled him to make $9.5 million. Does that make him not a "true Yankee"?

Unlike the sizeable contingent of ungrateful Yankee fans out there, who are now acting like Robinson Cano is some bum who wasn't even as good as Chuck Knoblauch (yes, I actually heard a Yankee fan say that the other day!) I realize what a talent Cano is, and I will miss him very much. But it is best for him that he went to Seattle, especially with the way some Yankee fans are falling over themselves to make him baseball's greatest monster now.

Let's face it -- if Cano had stayed in pinstripes, he would have become the designated Yankee scapegoat once this team tanks -- as it inevitably will. Especially given that A-Rod may not be playing next year. Cano, despite being homegrown, will never be as beloved as Jeter.

As for his skills, is Cano Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout? No. But who is? Cano is a top-five player, though.

Helpful hint to Brian Cashman: If you had really wanted to sign Cano, you would have 1) not offered him only  10 to 15% more than you did Jacoby Ellsbury, who had exactly one elite season, and 2) not told the media last month about how Cano "loves the money." (And you don't, Bri?)

But Cano is supposed to leave $65 million on the table for the love of the pinstripes. Why? So the very fans decrying him now could boo him next year when the team stinks?

We never hear Cashman challenge the Ichiros or the Beltrans of the world that if they really want to be Yankees, they can forgot about those extra contract years. No, only Cano is supposed to do that.

Look, I actually would think that not signing Cano would make perfect sense, if the Yankees 1) had new, competent leadership at the helm, and had  gotten rid of Brian Cashman, Randy Levine, Damon Oppenheimer, and Mark Newman, 2) were willing to be mediocre to bad for the next few years while they replenished their farm system and rebuilt the team slowly, and 3) stopped signing old and injury-ridden players.

But instead, we have the worst of all worlds. Not including A-Rod's salary, which could be off the books in 2014, the Yanks are already very close to that $189 million Hal mandate. And they are still missing at least one starter, a second baseman, and maybe a third baseman.

Plus, in burning the furniture by signing Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran (I am fine with the McCann deal, although they probably did overpay), the Yanks are losing draft picks for the future.

And , you know, other teams fill holes by bringing up guys from the minors. The Yankees don't really have any major-league players to bring up. And things are likely to get even worse, the way they are going.

Of course, you could say that the Yankees are going to ignore that $189 million cap and just spend, spend, spend. Well, if that is the case, then why not sign Cano as well? Why have all these machinations to get rid of A-Rod?  

Run, Robinson, run! You made the right move leaving the Bronx. Good luck in Seattle!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury is the baseball equivalent of a payday loan

Squawker Jon called me last night to tell me that the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and he was positively gleeful when he told me that Ellsbury's contract was even more than Carl Crawford's -- $153 million over seven years!

He was the only one happy in the Subway Squawkers partnership about the signing. I, on the other hand, was more than annoyed that Brian Cashman made yet another of his dopey deals. And it is a quintessential Cashman deal, isn't it? Too many years, and too much money, for a good but injury-ridden player who was a Boston Red Sox and a Scott Boras client. Good grief. Maybe Cashman hopes to be the new "elf" in Boston fan site Surviving Grady's Ellsbury and Elf feature! (And Ellsbury is being called Obi-Wan Jacoby by Boston Dirt Dogs!)

You know, I just want to bang my head against the wall every time Brian (Fredo) Cashman and the idiot Yankee ownership decides to make a big splash like this. The thing is, none of them have ever learned a thing from past mistakes. It never occurs to any of them that the thing to do to ensure future success would be to 1) rebuild and grow their own new core of young stars, and 2) raid the Red Sox or the Cardinals or the Rays for their front office experts -- those teams seem to know what they are doing when it comes to picking young players. Instead, everybody in Yankeeland gets to keep their jobs, while deciding to mortgage the future -- again -- on a player who has arguably already peaked.

Not to mention that much of Ellsbury's value is due to his speed -- there is a reason he is a top pick in fantasy baseball. How fast do you think Jacoby will be at 35, 36, and 37, when he's still making $22 million a year? Did the Yankees not learn from A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, etc. as to what is is like when a player is on the down side of thirty, but still making big coin? Stupid question -- they NEVER learn.

At least Teixeira and A-Rod, though, had some very healthy productive years before getting old (and Tex is still only 33; he just seems really old!) Ellsbury, on the other hand, has a history of injury -- in his last four seasons, he played in 18, 158, 74, and 134 games. Yes, even in his contract year, he still missed close to 30 games due to injury. What do you think he's going to be like in three years?

I said in the headline that the Ellsbury situation is the baseball equivalent of a payday loan. Let me explain. Much like a person with a lot of credit card debt, the Yankees have a lot of money on the books in which they are paying for past purchases. But instead of taking the steps to clear out that debt, and not make any more ridiculous expenses, they are the MLB equivalent of somebody who finances a 2010 Dodge Charger with a payday loan (with interest rates through the roof) when they already have 50K in credit card debt. And when that car inevitably breaks down, they will still need to pay for it. All because they thought they would look "cool" tooling around in it.

Listen, Yankee fans -- there is a reason much of Red Sox Nation is chortling over this deal. It's not a good one!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Brian "Shut the bleep up, A-Rod" Cashman gives lecture on civility. Yes, really.

So Brian Cashman is doing his annual "look at me" winter tour (for one thing, the guy who broke his leg skydiving will will be rappelling down a 22-story building this weekend again with Bobby Valentine). Even more odd than that, Bri recently gave a lecture as part of a "Civility in America" series, according to the New York Daily News. He spoke on "Civility in Baseball." Yes, really.

You would think that somebody whose most memorable utterance this year was telling Alex Rodriguez to "shut the (bleep) up" would be the last person to lecture anybody on civility. Not to mention all the times Cashman has threatened reporters who dare to write the truth about him, like when Cashman read Wally Matthews the riot act for writing that Cashman opposed the Alfonso Soriano trade, after Soriano was a smashing success in pinstripes.

It would be like Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, head of the federal agency responsible for the Obamacare website debacle, lecturing us on how to run a successful website. If that is too esoteric an analogy for you, it would be like Chris Brown lecturing on how to control your temper!

Yet, for some reason, Cashman -- hardly the person who comes to mind when thinking about civility in America, baseball, or in any context -- spoke on the subject. And guess what, kids, he gave steroid use as an example of lack of civility in sport, according to the New York Post, which begs the question as to why he himself has signed or traded for so many known or suspected steroid users. (And don't forget him reportedly screaming at a TV screen to tell Jason Giambi to get back on the juice!)

In the lecture, Cashman also talked about bullying and hazing in baseball, saying in reference to the Richie Incognito debacle in Miami: "It all goes on, unfortunately, in our world. Every aspect they're experiencing, we've experienced. I can't sit there and represent that that's not occurring in our sport." Cashman also talked about how Orlando Hernandez did not want to dress up as part of the rookie hazing. From the Daily News:
"He's coming from Cuba and a whole different culture and life experience that no one could even comprehend. The rookies all get dressed up. It's a rookie-hazing situation and it's kind of an indoctrination, whether it's right or wrong. I went back (to talk to Hernandez) and said, 'This is what they do. Even though you're older, you're still a rookie. It's just kind of a welcome to the team. They dress them up in funny outfits, different themes each year.'
Cashman said that El Duque responded, "'I was a clown for (Fidel) Castro for 31 years; I'm not going to be a clown for anyone else, ever again.' He was very upset. So it happens." The News wrote that "Cashman said he did not recall whether Hernandez dressed up or not." And the rookie hazing tradition still goes on today.
First of all, I find it hard to believe that Cashman could not recall whether El Duque participated in this. Isn't that kind of the point of the story -- that way back in 1998, a proud Yankee did not want to do the rookie hazing?

Second, Cashman has been GM of the Yankees since that year. And he learned in his very first season how the rookie hazing could not sit well with some people. Yet the tradition  still continues today. Wow, he's a really slow learner. Perfect speaker to talk on civility, eh? Not a single example of how he has lifted a finger to make baseball a better place. Good grief.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Yankee ticket deals available for holiday season

The New York Yankees are the premier franchise in all of professional sports having won an unprecedented 27 World Series Championships throughout their storied history. As such they have rarely offered discounted ticket specials. However for 2014 season they have decided to reward their loyal fan base by offering some fantastic deals for the upcoming season. Beginning at 12 pm EST on Black Friday (November 29) and lasting until December 24th, the Yankees, in conjunction with MasterCard, will offer three different promotions for fans to purchase tickets.

MasterCard Preferred Pricing
  • $15 off select seats when purchasing tickets with your MasterCard. 
  • Available for every home game through June.
  • New for the 2014 season! 
MasterCard Holiday Buy 2, Get 2
  • Save 50% on select seats (Terrace Level, Grandstand Level or Bleachers) for the following games:
  • Must be purchased with a MasterCard between 12 pm EST on Black Friday (11/29) through Cyber Monday (12/2). 
  • Entering the promo code “MCB2G2” at check out. 
Offer available for these games:
  • 4/8 vs Baltimore Orioles 
  • 4/9 vs Baltimore Orioles 
  • 4/15 vs Chicago Cubs
  • 4/16 vs Chicago Cubs
  • 4/29 vs Seattle Mariners
  • 4/30 vs Seattle Mariners
  • 5/1 vs Seattle Mariners
MasterCard $5 1/2 Priced Games
  • Tickets available in select areas of the Stadium in the Terrace Level, Grandstand Level or Bleachers
  • Tickets must be purchased with a MasterCard.
  • Tickets can be purchased on the day of the game.
Offer available for these games: 
  • 4/9 vs Baltimore Orioles
  • 4/29 vs Seattle Mariners
  • 4/30 vs Seattle Mariners
  • 5/1 vs Seattle Mariners
  • 6/3 vs Oakland Athletics
  • 6/17 vs Toronto Blue Jays

To take advantage of these great deals on 2014 New York Yankees tickets, click here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A-Rod provides great radio/TV watching on WFAN's Mike Francesa

I was home sick from work yesterday when I heard about Alex Rodriguez storming out of the MLB hearing on his case, throwing a hissy fit over Bud Selig not having to testify. I then heard about his appearance on Mike's On, Mike Francesa's WFAN sports radio show with the dated theme song. (Mike, it's 2013, not 1986!)

Anyhow, I ended up getting to watch the replay on the YES Network of A-Rod's appearance. (Here's a link to watch the video of it, and here's a link to text with the highlights.) It was pretty compelling radio listening and TV watching, even though I think A-Rod is not telling the truth in a lot of it. (For one thing, I don't believe that he just used Tony Bosch to get weight loss supplements and nutrition!) But here is what I agree with him on:

A-Rod said: "[Selig] hates my guts ... 100 percent this is personal. I think this is about his legacy and it's about my legacy. He's trying to destroy me....He's retiring in 2014 and to put me on his big mantle on the way out, that's a hell of a trophy."

My thoughts: True! And Bud Selig *should* be compelled to testify. Bud is the one who made this personal, getting a second investigative team after Rodriguez, and paying $$$ to get the Biogenesis records. And he was the one who has been badmouthing A-Rod for months. It was, of course, also Selig who decided to give A-Rod a suspension 161 games bigger than anybody else. If they have all their ducks in a row, then why not have Selig talk?

A-Rod said: "If I had one more year at $12 million, would someone throw 211 games at me? Or would someone be this severe at me? I don't think so." 

I agree! And I can't help but be a little cynical on this issue, when I see the Bill Maddens of the world suggest that the Mets sign Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz, saying things like "there is one other added advantage in signing Cruz or Peralta. Both of them have demonstrated they know how to beat a drug test." Not to mention Cruz and Peralta (and Marlon Byrd, another PED user) getting such big interest in the free agent market. If steroids are bad, then why aren't teams shunning all of them?

A-Rod also said he was "angry" at the Yankees -- would have loved to have heard more about that, specifically about what Randy Levine said to him in emails about taking PEDs.

Anyhow, if you haven't checked out the interview, please do so. It's great theater!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 BBA awards ballot - American League

The following are Squawker Lisa's AL picks:
Connie Mack Award - Top Manager: John Farrell, Boston Red Sox

Willie Mays Award - Top Rookie: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

Goose Gossage Award - Top Reliever: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Walter Johnson Award - Top Pitcher: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

Stan Musial Award - Top Player: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Monday, October 21, 2013

2013 BBA awards ballot - National League

Before getting to my awards picks, congratulations to our Red Sox fan readers on Boston winning the pennant! (All Squawker Lisa has to say about it is to ask me why I don't have a playoff beard.) And congratulations to Carlos Beltran, so underrated as a Met, finally getting to the World Series. But  though I'm pulling for the Red Sox, I'd just as soon see someone else besides Shane Victorino be the hero.

2013 Baseball Bloggers Awards Ballot - National League

Connie Mack Award - Top Manager: Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh Pirates

Willie Mays Award - Top Rookie: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins

Goose Gossage Award - Top Reliever: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Walter Johnson Award - Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Stan Musial Award - Top Player: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's up with Hal Steinbrenner's magical mystery tour?

So I see that Hal Steinbrenner made the media rounds yesterday, telling reporters and sports yakkers gems like "I think Brian [Cashman] did a great job" as general manager. (What high standards, eh? If Cashman did a great job this year, then I would hate to think what Hal considers a bad job?) I wonder what took Hal so long to finally speak out about the season. After all, it ended 10 days ago. (And it ended pretty much exactly like I predicted in March -- I said the team would not finish higher than third place, or win more than 86 games, and that is virtually what happened.)

 After all, Mariano Rivera tributes aside, this season was a debacle. And Hal, while giving lip service to the team's goals about a championship, sounded pretty blase about the whole thing. He seems to think that if you clap your hands and believe in fairies, that is enough. He told Joel Sherman this about the quotes about his father posted around Yankeeland:
“My favorite is Churchill who said: A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity and an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty,” Hal said, leaning forward for the kind of emphasis that would make his old man proud. “My job is to be an optimist.”
Hal, here are a few other Winston Churchill quotes you ought to pay attention to:

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

"It's time for Brian Cashman, Randy Levine, and Lonn Trost to go." (Okay, Churchill didn't really say that, but I bet he would have if he were still alive!)

Anyhow, the whole reason, it seems to me, for Steinbrenner's magical mystery tour yesterday is to put pressure on Joe Girardi to re-up as manager ASAP. I think Joe has less than a 50-50 chance of returning, though -- that's what I said on Facebook on the final game of the year.

The Yanks want him to re-sign without hearing what other teams have to say, though -- they have refused to give him permission to talk to other teams. I have to agree with Wally Matthews of ESPN in wondering what the Yanks are afraid of here. Matthews writes:
If it's fair for them to ask Girardi to make up his mind before the end of the month, then it is fair to grant him permission to talk to whoever else might be interested in him. That is what constitutes a good-faith negotiation. And you would think that the New York Yankees, who drink from the richest font of sports revenue in the world, would have nothing to fear from going up against smaller-market clubs like the Cubs and Nationals. 
Run, Joe, run! Away from this team. The Yanks are going nowhere next year.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

If Brian Cashman is really taking full responsibility for the Yankees, then why does he still have a job?

So New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman had a press conference Tuesday in which he claimed to take full responsibility for the Yankees' failure to make the postseason this year. Of course, to my knowledge, none of the lapdogs in the New York media bothered to ask him this followup question -- why aren't you quitting or being fired if it is your responsibility?!

Look at this, from the presser:
Q. "Who do you put the ultimate responsibility on for the team not being good enough?"
A. "Me."
Q. "Nobody else?"
A. "It’s my responsibility."
Q. "Were you given all the resources necessary in the winter to build a winner?"
A. "Yes."
Well, in the words of Michael Kay, shouldn't Cash be saying "See ya!" and jumping out of an airplane and out of his job or something? He failed at his job despite being given $230 million, and he ought to be fired, or at least show some dignity (ha!) and quit.

But of course that isn't going to happen. Cashman has to pay over $1 million next year in alimony to his ex-wife, so he's not going to walk away. And the Yankees aren't going to fire him, either. After all, they still owe him $3 million for the 2014 season.

(An aside: is there any organization more penny wise and pound foolish than the Yankees? They did the same thing when it came to keeping Joe Torre for another season, choosing to keep him long past his sell-by date because otherwise they'd have to pay him $8 million. They never consider the money they lose and do not make by essentially giving up on the season to save a few bucks.)

The thing is, there is no logical argument for keeping Cashman in. I predicted in March that the Yankees would not win more than 86 games, and would not finish higher than third place, and I was right on both counts. With the poor way this team was constructed, that record was not a surprise to anybody who paid attention. Not to mention that woeful farm system. Cashman demanded complete control of that in 2005. What does he have to show for it? The Yanks had 56 players on the field in 2013, and there was not one future star -- or even just future everyday player -- in any of the prospects. The problems with this team rest at Cashman's feet.

Yet Hal Steinbrenner is apparently so afraid of being seen like his dear old dad, that he won't ever actually hold anybody accountable. So Cashman is coming back, as are Randy Levine, Lonn Trost, and all of the other dunderheads in Yankeeland.

Almost nobody even argues anymore that Cashman is a great GM -- all they can say is that his replacement could be worse. Well, that's the excuse for staying in a bad relationship -- your boyfriend or girlfriend may treat you badly, but your next boyfriend or girlfriend could be worse. People who talk that way have a failure of imagination and a fear of change. It never occurs to them that the replacement could be better!

And who couldn't be better than Brian Cashman? He has a stated mandate to win the World Series of that year. In 12 of the last 13 seasons, he has failed at that goal, and this year, his team didn't even make the playoffs, despite having its highest payroll in history.

But the no-talent clown still gets to keep his job, and tell lies like this, like what he said yesterday when asked about A-Rod's PED appeal hearing (emphasis added):
“I operate on the assumption that I have him until they tell me otherwise. I’m not really in a position to talk about the Alex stuff. We’re not a party to it. I know from the media reports it was supposed to start yesterday and for a while there, until I looked on Twitter and saw certain things about people coming and going I wasn’t even sure if it had started or not. Because that’s how out of the loop I am on it. There’s not much to say on it. At this stage I’m not a participant in any way.”
Really, Bri? You're really claiming this nonsense? If you really didn't know, then you ought to lose your job just for that -- being an ignoramus!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yankees won't make postseason, mess up Bobblehead night, couldn't manage a two-car funeral

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the thing that irritates me most about the Yankees these days is the breathtaking lack of accountability. Hal Steinbrenner is content to keep incompetent knuckleheads like Brian Cashman, Randy Levine and Lonn Trost in high positions, and never fires anybody. Mediocrity and failure is never punished.

So now the $230 million New York Yankees are officially out of the postseason race, but I will be surprised if anybody loses their job over it. Heck, forget about playing baseball for a second -- this team cannot even correctly manage a promotional giveaway, something Single A minor league teams can do with ease. And yet they all think they're so wonderful and competent and smart. Good grief, as Charlie Brown (last night's bobblehead) would say.

The Mariano Rivera bobblehead giveaway was nothing short of a disaster. And what does Jason Zillo, the Yankees' PR maven, say in response? He appears to be infected with that "Ain't I great" attitude so endemic in Yankeeland. He tells this to the New York Post:
“It’s a testament to so many people in the organization that we accomplished what we did,” said Yankees’ media relations director Jason Zillo, “given the hand that we were dealt.”
What hand were you dealt, Jason? Your team left no wiggle room for anything to go wrong with the delivery. That is a "you" problem, not a "we" problem. To top it all off, you all couldn't even figure out how to properly distribute the bobbleheads when they did arrive. Instead of handing them out after the game, you had one bottlenecked spot, where people waited as long as seven innings to get their bobblehead.

To top it all off, the rich people in the Legends seats didn't even have to wait on line -- Yankee staffers personally brought them their bobbleheads, something Zillo professed not to know about.

But this screwup is the Yankee way, the way the organization was surprised that A-Rod needed surgery, and that a 39-year-old shortstop might not be 100% on Opening Day.

Wally Matthews of ESPN New York wrote a great column on the issue -- he tried to interview Levine and Trost, but wouldn't you know it, they didn't want to talk.

Anyhow, the Yanks are a mess, but as long as the money keeps on rolling in, don't expect Hal to make any changes. In fact, I'll bet the big shots in this organization will throw themselves a big ol' party after the season, is over to celebrate a job well done. Accountability is for suckers.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

How I (legally) got to sit in $300+ field-level seats behind home plate for Yanks-Red Sox for the price of a $37 ticket

The Yankees, along with one of their sponsors, have figured out a rather ingenious method to get some of those empty field-level seats filled. And Thursday night, I was one of the beneficiaries! (I will write about the game itself later on today, but here's how I got to see this exciting, but ultimately infuriating, game up close!)

Here's the scoop. A few weeks ago, I bought a ticket to last night's game for Section 418,  between home plate and first base, but very high up -- it cost me a little over $37 when you figure in service charges. Anyhow, I got to my seat about a half-hour before the game, and I saw a very curious announcement. The Yankees ran an ad on their scoreboard which said that if you had an AT&T phone, and went to Section 331, you could exchange your current seats for field-level seats. I do (it's a "dumb phone," as I lost my iPhone on the subway, and am waiting to get a new iPhone later this month, but my dumb phone is all AT&T! Needless to say, I left my seat as fast as I could and moseyed on down to Section 331 to see what was what. 

I expected a torrent of people, but there were only a few folks ahead of me. So I asked the AT&;T folks, "What's the catch" about these tickets? Turns out there really wasn't a catch -- just had to show them my phone and give them my mobile number. 

When I got the field-level tix, I figured  that I would be sitting in those left-field or right-field field level seats that are near the bleachers, but cost much more money. Imagine my surprise when I realized that my seat for Section 120B was right behind home plate, about 10 rows behind the moat! And yes, those seats retail for around $311 plus service fees! I was so excited, I felt like that dad in the Booking.com ads, 

Now, unlike the moat seats, no free food was included. But they did have waiter/waitress service to bring food to your seat, which was cool. What wasn't cool was that the food was as lousy as ever, but I digress.

Anyhow, this is arguably the most fan-friendly idea the Yankees have *ever* been a part of in my lifetime, and I am more than a little surprised that more people didn't take AT&T up on their generous offer. I have never gotten such a great view at a Yankee game ever, and the fact that I got it for the price of nosebleed seats makes it all the sweeter. Oh, and the field-level seats are cushiony and comfortable, too! Sweet!

I have no idea how long this promotion has been going on, but it's a great idea. It fills up prominent seats with passionate fans, and gives them a great experience. Talk about a win-win!

With the great seats I had, it's too bad, of course, that the game has such a lousy outcome, and the Yanks didn't win-win! I will squawk on that tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I didn't lose hope after a five-run deficit, but I did lose hope (and scream "Noooo!) after I saw that Joba Chamberlain was coming into the game!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's about time: Yankees are really ready to rumble

Are the New York Yankees really in it to win it? Finally, this team is acting like a playoff one – and so is Joe Girardi, who is finally making the moves you need to make if you want to see this team make it into October.

Aside from the Yankees’ great play as of late (they should have won all six games in this homestand so far if it weren’t for that bullpen implosion) a few other things give me hope:

Phil Hughes is knocked out of the starting rotation

Fortunately, the Phil Hughes Experience is coming to an end, which is good news for Yankee fans who actually want to see their team win and not be knocked out of the game by the second or third inning. Hughes is leading the league in one thing this season – the most games where he was knocked out before the end of the fifth inning!

It was shocking to me that Girardi had him start the game against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, given that pretty much every game is a must-win these days. Why put your team out of it by putting Hughes as the starting pitcher? Fortunately, the rain cooperated, and kept Hughes from finishing his start, which gave the Yankees the chance to put up that epic eight-run inning, the inning White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson said was the worst he had ever announced.

Anyhow, David  (I nearly wrote Aubrey) Huff is starting against Boston this weekend, which at least gives the Yanks as good a chance as any to win. Hooray!

Mariano Rivera pitching in the eighth

I was also pleased last night to see that Mo was brought into the game in the eighth inning when David Robertson couldn’t get out of a jam. With so few games left, every single one is a must-win, and I am glad Girardi took action instead of watching the lead totally disappear. Besides, it’s not like the Yanks have to keep Rivera fresh for next year – this is it.

Joba Chamberlain being banished to Never-Never Land

I try to find good in every Yankee, but it is very hard with Joba these days. IMHO, he should have been DFAed after his trampoline disaster. You know what you need to know about Chamberlain as a person? Pretty much every single team and opposing player to face the Yankees this year has said or done something to honor Mariano Rivera, from all the gifts he had received, to the reaction of the players on both teams at the All-Star Game. Even Squawker Jon was on his feet when Mo came into a Yankee game we attended earlier this year as a sign of respect. 

Yet Joba gets into a squabble with Rivera in front of reporters, telling him not to shush him when he was being a loudmouth. It takes a special kind of jerk to be against Rivera, but that’s our Joba!

Anyhow, after Sunday’s debacle, when Joe Girardi actually thought it was a good idea to pitch him in a close game, I never want to see Chamberlain in a game for the Yankees again. Enough already. At the very least, it appears now that Girardi will not ever put him in an important situation again. Nor  should he.
* *  *  *

I will be at the game tonight, to see the first of the four Yankees-Red Sox games in the Bronx this weekend -- will watch the other three games on TV. This is the first time in a while that the games have any real buzz – partly due to the standings, and partly due to Ryan Dempster. Incidentally, if the Yanks win the World Series this year, should they cut Dempster a playoff share?

I am wondering if David Ortiz will gets plunked tonight. It will be interesting to see what happens!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Was Brian Cashman for the Alfonso Soriano trade before he was against it?

What is Brian Cashman up to these days? Monitoring the New York media and reading columnists "the riot act" for not casting him in the most positive light is apparently a huge priority for him these days. (If only he monitored players for the MLB draft with such precision!)

Here's what I am talking about: I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I saw a Wallace Matthews Yankees' blog entry on ESPN New York. In a blog entry today entitled "First Pitch: Sori, Hal," Matthews wrote the following in the original version of the piece, noting how Cashman opposed trading for Alfonso Soriano:
This is what a lot of New York Yankees fans should be saying today: Sorry, Hal Steinbrenner, for criticizing the decision to bring Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees at the trade deadline. 
While we're at it, GM Brian Cashman might want to offer his apologies as well, after saying publicly that he was against the deal. 
Because now, a little more than a month into his second go-round with the Yankees, Soriano doesn't just look like a bargain, he looks like a steal. 
This evening, here's what the article looks like:
This is what a lot of New York Yankees fans should be saying today: Sorry, Hal Steinbrenner, for criticizing the decision to bring Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees at the trade deadline. 
Because now, a little more than a month into his second go-round with the Yankees, Soriano doesn't just look like a bargain, he looks like a steal. 
Notice that the middle paragraph is missing, and the fact that Cashman opposed the trade is gone from the column!

Instead of just putting the missing paragraph down the ol' memory hole, Matthews does explain the situation on Twitter:

So I wrote the following on Twitter to Matthews: I linked to "Cashman anti-trade & overruled — again," Joel Sherman's July 27 New York Post column on Cashman, which I wrote about at the time, and said this:
In Sherman's original article, he wrote the following (emphasis added):
Alfonso became the second straight Soriano that Brian Cashman advised Yankees ownership not to acquire — and was overruled on nevertheless.
Just as with the signing of free agent Rafael Soriano, the general manager believed Yankees assets could be spent better than on Alfonso Soriano, two executives not affiliated with the Yankees told The Post.
Cashman would not directly confirm what he advised Hal Steinbrenner, but told The Post: “I would say we are in a desperate time. Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm [Corey Black]. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. Did ownership want him? Absolutely, yes. Does he make us better? Absolutely, yes. This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.
That reads like Cashman is publicly taking a stand that he was against the trade. But I never understood why Cashman would be against the trade in the first place -- Soriano was old, made a lot of money, and looked washed-up -- three things that Cashman usually loves to get in his players! I wrote at the time that I thought that Cash made a big stink about being against acquiring Soriano to get the media on his side again, having them write sympathetic articles about how a big bad Steinbrenner is meddling again. The irony is, of course, that if Cashman hadn't made such a stink, he wouldn't have to do all this revisionist history, because we never would have known this was an issue.

Matthews disagreed with me on the meaning of what Cashman said, and we went back and forth on it on Twitter -- you can see the conversation here. While I didn't agree with Matthews, I was impressed that he took the time to talk with me, and that he was cordial, too!

Incidentally, I don't know how many Yankee fans opposed trading for Soriano -- I was against it, because I thought they ought to rebuild, not commit any more payroll to 2014,  but I was in the minority. And I am happy to admit that I was wrong!

At any rate, I have to agree with what my friend Steve of WasWatching.com says when it comes to Cashman: "The Thin-Skinned GM Strikes Again"!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Matt Harvey and overcoming the loss of a star

Matt Harvey's injury would be a terrible blow to the Mets under any circumstances. But contending teams have enough depth to overcome, or at least mitigate, the damage. The Mets will finally be a contender again when an awful day like this one does not have people writing off the next season.

In February 2011, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright was found to need Tommy John surgery. The previous year, Wainwright had won 20 games with a 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 213 strikeouts. He finished second in Cy Young voting after finishing third the previous year.

Losing Wainwright appeared to derail the Cardinals' hopes for 2011, particularly since it happened too late for the Cardinals to do much about it before the season started.

That season, the Cardinals won the World Series.

Wainwright returned in 2012, and in 2013 made the All-Star team (and got booed by Met fans).

Last season, the Giants won the World Series despite two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum pitching so poorly that he was dropped from the rotation.

This season, the Dodgers won a historic 42 of 50 games, mostly without injured star outfielder Matt Kemp.

Even with Harvey, the Mets as currently constructed had a ways to go before contending in 2014. But they can still use 2014 to continue building the type of team that one day could actually overcome the loss of a Matt Harvey.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A look at Bill Madden's many wrong-headed A-Rod pronouncements

Funny how Alex Rodriguez, the player Bill Madden repeatedly insisted "will never play another game for the Yankees," is arguably the biggest reason that the Yankees have won 11 of their last 14 games and are now just 3 1/2 games out of a wild card spot, and 6 games out of the division lead. So where is Bill Madden's mea culpa?

It isn't happening, of course. The next time Madden admits he was wrong on A-Rod will be the first time. Instead, in today's Daily News column, Madden dances around the fact that A-Rod's return had much to do with the Yankees' resurgence, giving him as little credit as possible for it. (Full disclosure, I used to work at the Daily News, but I would feel the same way about Madden no matter what!)

Madden has made repeated wrong-headed pronouncements about Rodriguez, not to mention saying bizarre and outrageous things about A-Rod, like calling him "the Whitey Bulger of baseball." (Not to mention him telling WFAN's Boomer and Carton that there was "no vendetta on [Bud] Selig’s part" against A-Rod) And Madden has never acknowledged that his pontifications were wrong, not even when the FAN's Mike Francesa, in one of the greatest radio moments of this year, called him on it. (I've made lots of wrong pronouncements, too, but I will willingly cop to them!)

And I haven't even gotten into the fact that Madden repeatedly insisted that A-Rod undergoing serious surgery, and going through grueling rehab, was simply a ploy to be declared physically unable to perform, and to collect insurance money. Remember this Madden gem, from July 11?:
It is now a frantic footrace with the MLB drug posse for Alex Rodriguez, who will never play another game for the Yankees but is desperately trying to make sure he doesn’t lose a penny of the $100 million owed him on the last 4½ years of his contract.
In plain view, A-Rod is going through the motions, playing in rehab games for the Class-A Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League, all in the name of making his way back to the Bronx by the end of the month. It is just an elaborate charade.
Madden also wrote this, on June 26:
Alex Rodriguez has 114 million reasons for telling the world that he has the green light to play baseball games again.
According to sources close to the ongoing drama surrounding the star-crossed Yankee third baseman, Rodriguez and his advisers are so concerned that Major League Baseball’s drug posse is quickly closing in on him that they have racheted up the timetable for him to return to game action.
Once he’s back playing in rehab games, the sources say, he could then claim he is physically unable to perform because of the serious hip injury he is recovering from, “retire” from the game, and still collect the full amount of his salary — $114 million over the next five years.
How is that "evil plan," as the Daily News once called it on the back page (on the very same day Aaron Hernandez was arrested as a result of an investigation into a murder -- a real evil plan!) working, Bill? Not only has Rodriguez looked great at the plate, but he made some nifty plays in the field and even stole a base yesterday! What insurer in his right mind would pay out a dime to him now?

The kicker is that Madden, without ever conceding that any of his hateful screeds were wrong, wrote this just the other day about Rodriguez. Madden says that this winter, A-Rod was "told by the first doctor who operated on his right hip that if he wants to be able to play with his kids when he’s 50 years old, he should really get the second right hip surgery done as well. Operating on both hips, however, would assure that he would never play baseball again." 

Hmmmm. If Rodriguez were simply looking for a way to simply collect the $114 million owed to him, wouldn't he have simply gotten both surgeries done then and called it a day? 

But I guess being a Hall of Fame baseball columnist means never having to write that you were wrong. Madden just keeps on going and going with his usual nonsense -- kind of like the Energizer Bunny of MLB columnists! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shocker: David Ortiz sez he 'didn't like' Ryan Dempster plunking A-Rod!

I saw this article earlier this morning and nearly spit out my coffee -- Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz has said some very shocking (and I mean shocking in a good way!) about Alex Rodriguez! In an interview with USA Today Sports, not only did Ortiz criticize teammate Ryan Dempster's strategy of throwing at A-Rod, and defend Rodriguez, but Ortiz also suggested that the reason MLB was going so hard after A-Rod was because of that huge contract. Here are the relevant quotes, and my comments:

Regarding Dempster plunking A-Rod:
"I didn't like it. I don't think it was the right thing to do,'' Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports. "But we don't all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It's not that I didn't think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone's on their own."
Isn't it when you cross the white lines you are supposed to be with your team, not on your own?

But anyway, here's what else Ortiz says:
"But we've got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.''
My Red Sox fan friend Sully Baseball was apoplectic about Dempster, saying exactly what Ortiz said about waking up the Yankees. And Squawker Jon, still on his summer Squawker sabbatical, points out that even if CC's velocity went up, he still gave up four runs to the Sox after this!

That being said, if the Yankees make the playoffs (and Tuesday night, after the walkoff win, was literally the first time all season I thought they had a chance to do so!), we will look back on this night as the turning point of the season. Actually, there are several turning points, and it is no coincidence that the Yankees' current 10 of 13 streak started on Friday, August 9, the first game A-Rod played at Yankee Stadium this year.

And how much must it kill Randy Levine and Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner to know that A-Rod, the guy whose career they tried to destroy, is the No. 1 reason this team actually has a chance to make the post-season. (Sully also pointed out that Brian Cashman made a stink about Alfonso Soriano, one of the other main reasons the Yanks are contending!) Not to mention how much ratings and ticket sales are up --Tiqiq told me that in the last homestand, ticket prices have been "up 16% up to $94 on average."

Anyhow, that wasn't all that Ortiz said. The following words are just as interesting as him criticizing the plunking strategy. USA Today Sports writes that "Ortiz said it's not clear-cut which party to side with in the A-Rod-MLB dispute because not all the facts have been revealed, such as baseball's evidence that Rodriguez used PEDs and tried to obstruct the Biogenesis investigation. Plus, Rodriguez has not failed a drug test under the current Joint Drug Agreement."
"I thought handing down a 200-plus-game suspension had something to do with his contract,'' Ortiz said.
"And thinking in general terms, what's good for me, what's good for other players, what's good for your kids if they decide to become ballplayers, you can't let any team break a contract, because then the next time a player gets a DUI, or is charged with domestic violence or with any other thing, then the team may try to get out of a contract. They would have (precedent).''
Of course, MLB denied in the article that A-Rod's contract had anything to do with them going after him (yea, right!) but Ortiz, in his solipsism, is right. I still cannot stand him but I have to give him credit for understanding what is really going on here.

I just want to know what Ortiz thought of Alex's "homage" to him at home plate at Fenway Park after Alex's homer the other night!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Did A-Rod's lawyer prove his case on that MRI? Read on!

One of the underreported stories regarding Alex Rodriguez these days is that his tough-talking attorney may have indeed backed up at least one of his incendiary charges. Joseph Tacopina showed evidence to reporters Monday that could confirm what he claimed about the Yankees knowing in October 2012 that an MRI showed that A-Rod had damage on his left hip. This is what Tacopina told the New York Times on Saturday:
 During the 2012 playoffs, Tacopina said, the Yankees hid from Rodriguez that a magnetic resonance imaging test had revealed that he had a torn labrum — essentially a hole in his hip — and continued to play him, even though he was struggling mightily.
“They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer,” Tacopina said.
Yesterday, Tacopina fulfilled Randy Levine's challenge to "put up or shut up" on this issue by revealing an MRI report from October 11, 2012, which showed that A-Rod did indeed have a tear in the labrum of his left hip. If you may remember, October 10 was the night Alex was pinch-hit for with Raul Ibanez in the ALDS. After the game, Rodriguez, who had previously said he was fine, admitted to Joe Girardi that he felt something in his right hip. He underwent an MRI the next day, after which the Yanks insisted that everything was fine with him. But it wasn't.

Here's what the radiologist's report said, according to a report Tacopina shared with ESPN, Joel Sherman and other members of the media (emphasis added below):
"Stable postoperative appearance of the right hip with no evidence of labral re-tear, stable degenerative change, and only minimal gluteus medius insertional tendinosis. Partial evaluation of left hip revealing superior labral tear with small parabal cyst."
The record backs up what Tacopina said about the MRI revealing damage to the left hip. And LoHud.com says this about the report:
The Yankees have previously acknowledged the MRI taking place, but they’ve said it focused only on the right hip, which is the only hip Rodriguez mentioned having any sort of problem.

“The MRI that was taken was for his right hip,” Cashman said. “Does the left hip show up in the MRI? I couldn’t tell you if it does or it doesn’t. The right hip was the complaint (on the night of) the pinch hitting, and that’s what they evaluated was how his hip was and his complaint on that right hip. He was cleared from that, and that was it; cleared to continue to play.”
A-Rod did not discover that his left hip's labrum was torn until Dr. Mark Philippon examined him in the offseason. He reportedly only heard about the previous results on that hip from the MRI when Philippon got notes from his medical file revealing that. And now he is reportedly considering filing a grievance with MLB, and is considering a malpractice suit against Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankee team doctor.

When Cashman addressed the media on Sunday, he never specifically mentioned the MRI issue, but he had this to say, among other things, regarding Tacopina's medical claims, and the state of A-Rod's hips last October:
“The medical records are factual,” Cashman said. “If they have a dispute with the medical records, you know, we are very comfortable with the business we’ve gone about. No one has hid anything from the guy. The stuff that was alleged yesterday is just false.”....
“He meets with Joe [Girardi] separately and says, ‘Listen, don’t give up on me, put me back in there.’ He’s fighting to stay in,” Cashman said. “Fighting to stay in. But I see Alex’s comments saying ‘I never should have been out there,’ which contradicts his own comments. I see his attorney talking about we’re running him out there like an invalid? I guess he’s also lumping Alex in that, because, again, I don’t get it; he was fighting to play."
The Yankees also issued the following statement yesterday:
“We relied upon Dr. Christopher Ahmad and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital for medical diagnosis, opinions and treatment,” the statement read. “The Yankees neither had any complaints from Alex Rodriguez pertaining to his left hip during the 2012 regular season and the Yankees postseason, nor did the Yankees receive any diagnosis pertaining to his left hip during that same period of time. Given the various allegations that have been made by Alex Rodriguez and his counsel, if you have any medical questions they should be directed to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Dr. Christopher Ahmad.”
* * *

Now, I am not a doctor, nor a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. However, I do know this from personal experience that many times, medical tests like MRIs and sonograms find out things that were not what the tests were originally for. I believe the term for that is incidental findings.

Such a situation happened with me once -- a few years ago, I had an MRI for one medical complaint, and it was discovered I had a tumor elsewhere, in a different body part where I had felt no pain. Fortunately the tumor was benign, and was easily removed with laproscopic surgery. If I hadn't gotten that MRI, though, I may not have known about the tumor right away, and it could have caused real problems for me. Gee, I'm glad my doctor didn't ignore the issue, figuring that since I didn't complain about that body part, it wasn't worth investigating!

The reason I bring this up is to point out the Yankees' rather head-scratching point of view on this is. Just because A-Rod didn't complain about his left hip, and wanted to keep playing, does not mean that a tear and cyst on his left labrum should have been ignored. So why was it? Why did they not put A-Rod on the DL, instead of insisting that he was healthy?

Why, after the MRI caught this issue in a partial evaluation, was Rodriguez not given another MRI with a full evaluation in the left hip? Why did the Yankees insist then that A-Rod was fine, when his MRI showed that he wasn't? Who dropped the ball here, exactly?

Why did a Yankee official say to Wallace Matthews last month,  "He blames Dr. Ahmad for missing his hip injury? He missed his own hip injury?" Why did Cashman say on Sunday that the medical records were "factual," and Tacopina's complaints were "false," and the very next day, when A-Rod's lawyer reveals that the MRI showed October 11 that there was a torn labrum in the left hip, that Cashman say that he "couldn’t tell you" if the labrum "does or it doesn’t" show up in the MRI? Why didn't Cashman look at his own team's MRI report?

Why does Cashman continue to fixate on the fact that A-Rod complained about the right hip, not the left? And why is the team claiming not to know about a medical report that their own team doctor commissioned and would have reviewed? Is this situation why Rodriguez wanted a second opinion on his quad strain diagnosis?

Somebody in the New York media ought to do some more digging on this issue to find out the full story, instead of simply buying the Yankees' spin. But that would involve real reporting, and not simply writing up leaks from the Yankee brass, so I doubt it will happen!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts on the best Yankee game of the year, A-Rod playing the heel, and how I actually agree with Wally Matthews (!)

I didn't get a chance to squawk this morning -- I had real-life stuff to take care of -- so this afternoon, I was trying to think of a fresh angle on the Yankees-Red Sox and Yankees-A-Rod feuds for when I did get to write.

My thoughts on last night's game

Obviously I was disgusted at Ryan Dempster for him hitting Rodriguez and was happy to see A-Rod get his revenge, complete with him pulling a classic heel move by imitating David Ortiz's double finger point at home plate after Alex's home run. (Thanks to my Facebook friend Alan for pointing that out!) And how about Joe Girardi flipping out with the umpire? The postgame was over the top, too, with Girardi comparing Dempster to "My Cousin Vinny" and A-Rod saying that he was the last one to talk about suspensions, but he could recommend. And of course it was the best Yankee game of the year, by far.

But anyhow, when I was on my ferry ride home, I was thinking about the big feud between A-Rod vs. MLB and the Yankees, and I came up with what I was going to write about. One of my brothers and I were talking about the whole to-do, including MLB's silly "Today Show" stunt, and I brought up what Curt Schilling said last night in the broadcast, about how ballplayers may think twice before choosing to sign with New York after the way this was going down. Keep in mind that Schilling hates A-Rod, and would have no reason to say anything in his defense. But what Schilling said is exactly what I have said before -- there could be real repercussions if the Bronx Zoo is seen to be open again for business. (Incidentally, Schilling said on Colin Cowherd today that he said that he felt bad that A-Rod got hit by Dempster, and worse for Rodriguez that the Yanks didn't retaliate by hitting a Red Sox! Very interesting!)

What the Yanks have to lose

Anyhow, I also said to my brother that hat I thought that A-Rod had nothing to lose by going after the Yankees and MLB here, since his name was already mud. Not to mention that they are kind of proving his point that they are out to get him, what with all their negative talk and shenanigans.

On the other hand, the team -- and MLB -- have a lot to lose by getting in the mud with Rodriguez. If there case is so strong, why all the leaks? Why don't they just say "no comment" and let the process play out?

So I was formulating my squawk in my head, but when I got home, I saw that ESPN's Wally Matthews, of all people, beat me to the punch and said virtually everything I was thinking and more in this column!

He goes through all the ways that MLB and the Yanks could be damaged with this, calls it a "witch hunt," and asks things like "What if A-Rod's medical records do show that he was suffering from a hip injury during the playoffs last year?" (Incidentally, we already know Cashman is playing fast and loose on that story. He claims now that Rodriguez never said that he was hurt during the playoffs. Then why did the team do an MRI on him then, Bri?)

Anyhow, Matthews writes:
Is it really worth it to baseball to expose its dark side in order to make an example out of Alex Rodriguez? Is it really worth it to the Yankees, a franchise worth more than $2 billion, to try to get out of paying him $86 million.
We know that lawyers bluster all the time. It is what they do for a living. But what if Rodriguez's side does have even a fraction of the evidence it claims to have against MLB and the Yankees?
You took the words right out of my mouth, Wally. And that's unsanitary!

Anyhow, I would like to see the media actually, you know, investigate A-Rod's lawyers claims, and see if they are true. Imagine that!

Squawker Jon, who apparently is on a summer squawking sabbatical, pointed that Tacopina deliberately said that George Steinbrenner would be "horrified" with what was going on as part of his long game, to get media people to write about how Steinbrenner indeed did similar shenanigans, and put that in people's minds. Hmmmm!

Anyhow, I don't know what the Yanks and MLB are thinking here. If their case is so persuasive against Rodriguez, then why don't they just take the high road and let this play out?

Granted, all of A-Rod's charges don't disprove the charges that he took PEDs. But if his people are able to prove shenanigans in acquiring that evidence, or other Yankee mayhem, who knows what will happen?

I did see that Cashman was whining about how all this is a distraction keeping him from doing the rest of his job. Oh, please. You make $3 million a year, dude -- learn to multitask!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Why A-Rod's angry lawyer may actually have a point about the Yankee brass

It's an A-bomb for A-Rod -- and his attorney! Joseph Tacopina, one of Alex Rodriguez's attorneys, started a new war with the Yankees -- or maybe just continued the current war -- when he unleashed some pretty strong accusations against the team, and against Major League Baseball. Here's a link to the New York Times article with the accusations. And here's what I think of each main charge.

Among Tacopina's claims are the following:

"that baseball’s commissioner is determined to brand Rodriguez as the 'poster boy' for doping."
My thoughts: TRUE! This is a no-brainer. Nobody else involved in the Biogenesis scandal got any of the incessant leaks from MLB. Nobody else came even close to the 211-game punishment. And there has never been an explanation as to why Bartolo Colon, who had already tested positive, and who was also named in the Biogenesis scandal, did not get the scrutiny that A-Rod did, even though the fact that he is having arguably his best year at the age of 40 ought to have brought on more investigation. Instead, we're apparently supposed to think Colon only did PEDs that one lone time. Spare me.

 During the 2012 playoffs, Tacopina said, the Yankees hid from Rodriguez that a magnetic resonance imaging test had revealed that he had a torn labrum — essentially a hole in his hip — and continued to play him, even though he was struggling mightily.
“They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer,” Tacopina said.
My thoughts: MAY BE TRUE! Here's why I cannot dismiss this charge -- my own eyes. I said all along during last year's postseason that I thought A-Rod looked injured. And I couldn't understand why Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman were so publicly adamant that he was not injured, when it clearly seemed like he was. It seemed to me very petty and mean-spirited to not offer him that fig leaf of the possibility that he was hurt, instead of just stinking for no reason. And the Yanks seemed more motivated by destroying what was left of A-Rod's reputation last year than in actually winning in the playoffs.

Rodriguez learned the extent of his injuries in the off-season, and the Yankees sent him to Dr. Bryan T. Kelly, a prominent surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Tacopina said Kelly later told Rodriguez that before the operation, Levine told Kelly, “I don’t ever want to see him on the field again.”
“It sent chills down Alex’s spine,” Tacopina said.
My thoughts: MAY BE TRUE! Randy Levine isn't exactly known as a nice guy. He was hired to be a jerk, and he continues to be a jerk. Nothing would surprise me when it comes to him. And why he still has a job is beyond me -- he screwed up bigtime on the StubHub stuff. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't find a way to blame StubHub for A-Rod!
Tacopina said he had copies of “very damaging” e-mails between Levine and Rodriguez. Those e-mails, along with recordings and affidavits gathered by Rodriguez’s advisers, will help Rodriguez in his suspension appeal hearing, Tacopina said.
Levine, however, said his e-mail communication with Rodriguez, over a period of years, would show that he was one of Rodriguez’s biggest supporters, encouraging him to get healthy and to play better.
My thoughts: TRUE. The only way I can see Levine writing the way he claims he did is if he wrote "You little bleep, you better bleeping get healthy and play better, you worthless bleep bleep bleep." I can buy Joe Girardi doing the warm and fuzzy thing. Randy Levine, no bleeping way!

Beyond Bosch, Tacopina accused baseball investigators, some of them former police officers, of serious misconduct. For example, he said, investigators were captured on video flashing what looked like police badges to gain access to a gated community where they wanted to speak with a witness. He said investigators also threatened to turn witnesses’ names over to the news media or call in law enforcement if they did not cooperate.
My thoughts: THIS WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME. MLB has been intent on drumming A-Rod out of baseball, and they made legal threats to Bosch to get him to cooperate. No shenanigans they may have done would surprise me.

Tacopina said he believed that baseball officials were “working in conjunction” with the Yankees to void Rodriguez’s lucrative contract.
“You don’t need to look much further from the top to figure out where this all comes from,” Tacopina said, referring to Selig, the commissioner.
My thoughts: TRUE. And MLB and the Yankees' damage control on this has been laughable. Levine told ESPN that the Yanks were kept "in the dark" about the pending disciplinary action for A-Rod. Puh-lease. Who believes that, especially given that A-Rod just happened to get cleared to play on the day the suspension was going down.

Sorry, folks, but for the past year or so, we have heard leak after leak from Yankeeland about how they want to get out from under A-Rod's contract, and in the last few months, we heard how MLB wants to ban A-Rod for life, and how they've been trying to punish him for years on various shenanigans, but have been unsuccessful. Now we're supposed to believe that this isn't really true, and that they weren't working in cahoots? I'm not buying it. A-Rod may have been a cheating jerk, and MLB and the Yankee brass are not exactly saints here. Maybe they should have thought first, before providing all those damaging leaks, whether true or untrue, to the Bill Maddens of the world.

Tacopina said: “The legacy of George Steinbrenner would be horrified. This is the New York Yankees. This isn’t some thug-culture club.”

FALSE! This would be right up The Boss' alley, especially given what he did with Dave Winfield by hiring Howie Spira. This was the most ridiculous part of Tacopina's claims!

Friday, August 9, 2013

If Yankee fans are going to boo A-Rod tonight, then they ought to also boo...

There has been a whole to-do this week about whether Yankee fans should boo Alex Rodriguez at home, and whether the Bleacher Creatures should include him in Roll Call. After getting some grief from fellow Yankee fans, Bald Vinny Milano, spokesman for the Bleacher Creatures, had some sensible comments for CBSLocal.com on the whole thing, saying that they were "definitely not going to skip him":
Not for nothing, I feel like the guy needs a little bit of love,” Milano said. “It feels like nobody’s in his corner. For that brief minute we can show him that, yes, we’re in your corner, we’ve got your back. If you’re fighting for the Yankees and you’re trying to help us win, God damn it I’m gonna yell for you.”
The best part of the interview was this:
There’s no question that fans are hurt, disappointed, angry — you name it. One person even told CBS 2 that A-Rod “cheated me” and “broke my heart.”
“The weeping of ‘You broke my heart,’ that’s silly,” Milano said. “I don’t see anybody weeping over Francisco Cervelli.
That leads me to the point of this article (thanks for bearing with me!) It's how the booing of A-Rod for doing PEDs is more than a little hypocritical for Yankee fans to do so. And most of it has to do with people who didn't like A-Rod in the first place for various reasons, most having nothing to do with steroids or other PEDs or anything else. It's like the sentiment I've heard recently about how A-Rod's a cheating bum, and the Yanks ought to replace him with Detroit's Jhonny Peralta at third base next year. Never mind that Peralta was also suspended in the Biogenesis scandal!

Because if Yankee fans' sense of outrage were consistent, they would boo Andy Pettitte. Yet 9.9 times out of 10, whenever I mention this to a Yankee fan, I get back the lie "He only did it one time to heal from an injury!" Was there *ever* talk of booing Andy Pettitte in 2008 or since? Of course not.

And what about Cervelli? And what about supergenius GM Brian Cashman acquiring former Met Fernando Martinez this year *after* he was named to Biogenesis? And what about the many players suspected of juicing that Cash has signed in recent years?

Most notably, what about the 2000 Yankees? Nine of them were in the Mitchell Report. Is anybody suggesting that we no longer count 2000 as part of the 27 World Series titles? And are we not going to count 2009 anymore, either, because A-Rod was the No. 1 reason for No. 27? How about 1996, 1998, and 1999? Steroid users were on those teams, too.

Maybe to be on the safe side, we Yankee fans should start saying that our team only has 22 titles, because all the rest are tainted in some way. You think that will fly?

* * *

I thought about going to A-Rod's return, but I will *not* be at Friday's game. Here's why -- I'm afraid I will end up sitting next to some jerk booing A-Rod, I will say something, we'll end up in an argument, I will have a lousy time, and I'll be ticked off all the way home. Not to mention having to pay money for the privilege! Nah, I will watch the game for free on TV instead. Going there in person is not worth the hassle.

Frankly, given how poorly this team has played as of late, A-Rod's return is going to be the only thing that increases ticket sales or ratings!

And finally somebody in the New York media says what I have been saying for ages -- that the A-Rod saga distracts people from all the other issues with this team. Of course, it's Wally Matthews with ESPN New York, and he *still* won't give Brian Cashman any of the blame. Shocker.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

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