Friday, December 26, 2014

Squawker media alert: Listen to me on the radio at 3:30 p.m. today

I will be squawking hot stove Yankee baseball with Mike Lindsley's In the Cell With ML on Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 3:30 p.m. today. If you are in the Syracuse area, you can listen to me on 1260 AM on the radio. If not, check out the station's web site and listen to me there. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This $250 ticket contest is causing a Rukkus!

Subway Squawkers is celebrating the new year by teaming up with our buddies over at sports ticket search engine, Rukkus, to get you Yankees and Mets tickets for free. Want to see the Yankees play the Sox? The Mets play the Phillies? How about tickets to the subway series itself? No matter what you're looking for, we'll get you to the game. Click here to learn more! The contest runs until January 2.

"Pitch: Talks on Baseball" is coming to B.B. King's next month

Just wanted to let our readers know about this upcoming hot stove event. Mark your calendars! Looking forward to seeing this.
Pete Abraham, Boston Globe (Moderator)
Matthew Cerrone, Metsblog
Joel Sherman, New York Post
Tyler Kepner, New York Times
Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated
Adam Rubin, ESPN
Sweeny Murti, WFAN
Buster Olney, ESPN
January 14, 2015
Showtime @ 7:30pm
Doors Open @ 6pm

PITCH: Talks On Baseball, a new speaker series about baseball, today announces the full lineup of baseball insiders for its first scheduled US event in NYC on January 14, 2015 at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Launched in Toronto in 2014, PITCH: Talks On Baseball connects diehard baseball fans with sports insiders by hosting informed and entertaining discussions on all aspects of the game.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What the media misses in the latest A-Rod shenanigans

Would you take diet advice from Cousin Yuri?
So there was some actual big Alex Rodriguez coming out this week. The Miami Herald revealed that A-Rod played "Let's Make a Deal" with the feds in January, and that he admitted in a statement to doing performance enhancing drugs.

Newsflash -- in the baseball world, drug dealers may be used to out their addicts, but in the real world, those addicts are used to put the dealers behind bars. Obvious statement, but something a certain I-Team has had a hard time grasping.

The two things that fascinated me about Alex's statement were these things:

1) That A-Rod supposedly passed a PED test by using midstream urine. If this is true, then what does that say about MLB's testing system? This seems like a huge loophole to me. Shouldn't people in the media be looking into this? (Personally, I think the reason A-Rod passed is because Tony Bosch was selling him more snake oil than substance, but I still think MLB ought to have looked into this; Bosch himself has claimed the midstream story in the past.)

2) That A-Rod got diet tips from a fat guy. According to the Herald's story:
According to Rodriguez’s statement to DEA agents, in summer 2010 he had gained some weight and was experiencing some “problems” with injuries to his knee. He wanted to lose five to 10 pounds. 
Sucart, a man of considerable girth, told him he himself had lost some weight with the help of a South Florida “doctor.” Sucart said the man — he didn’t name him — could help Rodriguez get into better shape.
“Sucart told Rodriguez that the doctor was a smart guy and a guru,” the DEA reports said. “Rodriguez stated that Sucart was very aggressive and persistent about Rodriguez meeting the doctor.” 

Okay, I know A-Rod is pretty stupid on the way the world works, but this takes the cake.

Why in the world would a professional athlete known for being a fitness fanatic take diet advice from a fat person? Look at the photo from Cousin Yuri's arrest this summer. Not exactly slim and trim. Heck, I'm not exactly slim and trim myself, but I sure wouldn't take diet advice from somebody with Cousin Yuri's physique. Why would A-Rod? Is he really that dumb?

 * * *

Also love the media's handwringing about Alex Rodriguez's latest brouhaha in the news yesterday, as if having him come back to sully the pinstripes is something that must never happen. The Daily News' Mike Lupica sez that the Yankees need to make him an offer to get him to go away. (Um, Mikey, unless that offer has $61 million in it, A-Rod is gonna go all Dreamgirls "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" with the Yanks.)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today claims that nobody wants A-Rod back and whines:"Yet, as much as want to hide from Rodriguez, we can't stop hearing or talking about the man who betrayed anyone who believed in him." Of course. It's called increased page views, baby. And don't tell me that the media doesn't love talking about this -- it beats writing about the rest of this snoozeworthy Yankees team.

And the New York Times' Juliet Macur has a really dumb piece in which she says, "I feel sorry for the Yankees" because of this Miami Herald story revealing that he fessed up on steroids to the feds:
Poor Yankees. This past season, the franchise with enough World Series rings to bejewel a small army failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. For a team whose fans expect championships on a steady basis, this little drought might as well be 119 years. It’s a solemn time for the Yankees, and they need some peace and quiet to reflect, and to figure out how to win again.
Rodriguez didn’t get that memo. Basically, he has returned playing the cymbals, ready to put on the pinstripes again for a team that needs no part of him or his noise but that now has to deal with a whole new set of drug revelations involving the onetime slugger.
1. Brian Cashman is most likely doing the Snoopy Dance over this story. Why? Because talking about A-Rod means less talk about the poorly constructed team he has run into the ground.

2. Macur doesn't seem to comprehend that this story is based on something Rodriguez did in January, and he had nothing to do with this being leaked. So her dopey cymbals analogy makes zero sense here.

3. Even a severely diminished A-Rod is still better than most of the current Yankees -- his 2013 .771 OPS was a better number than every single Yankee starter last year!

At any rate, I am sure Cashman is glad A-Rod is back clanging those cymbals, distracting everybody in the media who might dare to ask what his actual plan on bringing a championship to the Bronx is. Good grief.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Mark Teixeira going to take A-Rod's place as the designated Yankee scapegoat?

About a month ago, I said to Squawker Jon that I thought Mark Teixeira would be the new target of the Yankees' ire in the future, basically becoming the new Alex Rodriguez when it comes to being the team's designated Yankee scapegoat.  After all, Tex not only has a ridiculous contract, like Alex Rodriguez, and he also is no longer in his prime, and he is injured all of the time now, it seems, but he has also said a number of outrageous -- but mostly ignored -- things.  Mostly ignored, that is, until now.

Here's the thing -- while A-Rod is coming back, of course, there is only so much mileage Brian Cashman and the Yankees can get anymore over blaming him for everything that goes wrong. So I figured that Tex would be the next Yankee target. And some of it might actually be deserved. After all, in this past year, not only is Mark refusing to adjust his game to compete against the shift, but he also announced that he he basically was never going to be the same player that he was in his prime. (Of course, he will still get paid like he did in his prime!)

Anyhow, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews writes what will undoubtedly be the first of many New York media hit pieces on Teixeira. In the article, Matthews speculates on whether Teixeira has lost the hunger to succeed, referencing how boxer Marvin Hagler once said that "it's tough to get out of bed to do roadwork when you've been sleeping in silk pajamas." Matthews writes, "There are some Yankees who wonder if the same syndrome is starting to affect Teixeira."

He goes on to say:
A baseball insider I spoke with this week said Teixeira's "outside interests" -- he is financially involved in real estate holdings, a chain of juice bars, and is working to create what he called a "marriage of baseball and social media" -- had become a point of concern, with some wondering how badly he still wanted to be a baseball player.
Brian Cashman, come on down! You are back to doing what you do best -- leaking anonymous smears on Yankees out of favor!

Look, I think Teixeira has said a lot of dumb things, most of which he has gotten away with until now. That being said, I seem to remember somebody else who started a "marriage of baseball and social media" while still playing -- Derek Jeter, who launched his Players' Tribune site this month (and had to have been working on it at the same time he was still an active player.)

And these days, most players have outside financial interests. Is there any hard evidence that Teixeira's terrible play is due to these interests, or to his YES Network show, which the article also references? No.
I do think that Teixeira has been a disappointment, and he says a lot of dopey things (that he has gotten away with doing until now), but that has nothing to do with whether he owns a few Juice Press stores. And the anonymous leaks are a little unseemly.

Matthews' article also talks about how Tex's numbers have tanked in recent years, which is fair game. But what he does not mention is how Cashman and the Yankees did not have a backup plan for his absence this year, which made no sense. (Hint: having your catcher play first is not a real backup plan!)

Anyhow, get your popcorn ready. I expect Tex to be a big target next season if he doesn't get it together quickly; he was already facing some boos this year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 BBA awards ballot part 2 -- American League

Here are my Baseball Bloggers Alliance awards picks:

Goose Gossage Award - Reliever of the Year (American League) 
1. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
2. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
3. Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Walter Johnson Award - Pitcher of the Year (American League)
1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays/Detroit Tigers
5. Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins

Stan Musial Award - MVP (American League)
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
5. VIctor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
6. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles
7. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
8. Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
9. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
10. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

2014 BBA awards ballot part 2 - National League

Goose Gossage Award - Reliever of the Year (National League)

1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
3. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

Walter Johnson Award -
Pitcher of the Year (National League)

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
4. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
5. Doug Fister, Washington Nationals

Stan Musial Award - MVP (National League)

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

5. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
7. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Why did the Yankees pass on Andrew Friedman? And why is Hal Steinbrenner like Hermey the Elf?

Yesterday, after hearing about how the Los Angeles Dodgers swooped up and signed Andrew Friedman, after firing GM Ned Colletti, I was naturally peeved. As my friend Sully put it, the Dodgers have back-to-back seasons making the playoffs, and they fire their GM, while the Yankees have back-to-back seasons of not making the playoffs, and give their GM a new contract. Good grief.

I have had my eye on Andrew Friedman for a long time. Here is what I wrote in 2012, in a column slamming Brian Cashman for signing Kevin Youkilis, and correctly predicting that the $12 million signing would be a disaster. I said that:
"With a payroll less than a third of the Yanks, and their best players leaving for free agency, Friedman is able to field a competitive team each year. (And no, it isn't just having had the good draft picks -- look at Kansas City!) In the old days, George Steinbrenner would have poached Friedman from the Rays a long time ago, instead of having a schlub like Cashman as GM for life."
Two years later, KC finally has a good team, but the Yankees are content to settle for three more years with a schlub like Brian Cashman. And yes, I still contend that George would have swooped in and gotten Friedman. (An aside -- if I had a dollar for every Yankee fan who insisted to me over the years that Friedman would never leave Tampa, I would be rich!)

Most of us have seen "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" a time or two -- or ten -- each Christmas season. Hermey the Elf is one of the more memorable characters. He is Rudolph's fellow misfit friend who doesn't want to be an elf -- which sounds like a pretty cool gig to most of us, even if you have to sing that annoying song about how "We are Santa's elves."  Instead, Hermey wants to be a dentist.

Anyhow, I was thinking about Lazy Hal yesterday, and I was struck by the similarities of  the Elf to him -- and it is not just the swoop of bangs! Hal literally has zero interest in running the team, which like being an elf, sounds like a sweet gig to most of us. Instead, he would rather do his amateur weather forecasting.

Mike Lupica, perhaps the only major media guy in New York unafraid to criticize Cashman and Steinbrenner, had an excellent column in the Daily News about the state of the Yankees. He said that:
"Hal Steinbrenner goes through the half-hearted motion of talking like a tough Steinbrenner owner, like he’s learning a new language on Rosetta Stone. But one of the reasons that Brian is coming back is that even if Steinbrenner had wanted to hire a new general manager, he wouldn’t have had a clue about who it should be. All we know for sure is that he’s decided that the general manager he has is indispensable."
That is about the size of it. Hermey -- I mean Hal -- does treat actually attending Yankees like going to the dentist. And the Yankee GM fancies himself an elf. After all, he dresses as one when he does his dopey rappelling each holiday season.

Imagine what Friedman could do with the resources in Yankeeland. Yet, by all accounts, nobody ever even tried to poach him, even though Hal lives in Tampa. Good grief indeed.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shocker: Fox gets into modern world with cool baseball broadcast idea

I have been hoping for years that there would be an alternative to the traditional big-network baseball broadcast. After all, who really wants to listen to Joe Buck mope in a monotone about what is happening on the field? Well, listen up. For tonight's Game 1 of the NLCS, you actually have an alternative. I got this info from Fox Sports:
For Game 1 of the NLCS, FOX Sports is gearing up for a grand experiment: A simulcast on FOX Sports 1 on October 11 at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. FOX will provide the traditional broadcast, featuring Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds, and Tom Verducci in the booth, Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews on the field.
Meanwhile, over on FS1 the crew- Kevin Burkhardt, Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski - will focus on statistics, sabermetrics, and graphics, with plenty of debate and conversation while the action plays out on the field. We’ll utilize a double-box format, with the live game action in one box, and our studio hosts and guests in another, along with a constant flow of graphics.  
This unique experience will be powered by Just a Bit Outside (JABO), a new microsite from
I think this is a great idea. I will be tuning in, just to hear a different voice from the usual boring Fox broadcast.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Brian (Fredo) Cashman gets contract extension, and I have had enough

I was already in a bad mood today. My purse was stolen last week when I was in an Upper West Side Thai restaurant called Land. (Helpful hint -- don't ever eat there!) Anyhow, I have spent the past 10 days dealing with all of the repercussions involved with the crime -- talking to the police and the insurance company, getting the credit card companies to remove the many hundreds of dollars in charges the crook charged, trying to get the money back on my Metrocards returned, getting my locks changed (the criminal had keys to my house!) And I still need to hold down a job as well. It has been very stressful, and I am really worn out by the whole debacle.

Anyhow, I was trying to snap out of it by enjoying a Friday afternoon roaming around Manhattan, when Squawker Jon called me to tell me the big news -- that Brian Cashman just signed a three-year contract extension with the Yankees. Although I was not the least bit surprised by the news, it still really ticked me off. For one thing, it just goes to show that Hal Steinbrenner is a clown. As a Twitter friend put it, Hal wasn't just born on third base. In this scenario, Joba Chamberlain is pitching, and Mike Trout is at the plate.

Meanwhile, Prince Hal still cannot bring himself to get real accountability with this franchise. While Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher lost their jobs, that is window dressing on what really needs to be done. Cashman still holds the purse strings, and still doesn't have a clue on how to compete in MLB in 2014. Meanwhile, smart franchises like the Cardinals and the Giants are forming dynasties of their own, while the Yankees stick with has-beens like Cashman whose best days were during the Clinton administration.

In 2014, the New York Yankees spent over $125 million more on payroll than the New York Mets. For that financial output -- $210 million in payroll, the highest in the American League -- they got exactly five wins more than the Mets. Good grief.

Yet Cashman still continues to get a pass from the media. Wallace Matthews writes for ESPN that this is "a wondrous opportunity for Cashman to do what he has always secretly yearned to do -- create a Yankees team in his own image, with his own vision and his own players, and to finally build his own legacy." Um, Wally, Cashman has been GM since we first found out about Monica Lewinsky and her little blue dress. The team is already in this image, and has been for a long time now. His legacy is already built -- he has just 1 ring in the last 14 years. Kind of like the Atlanta Braves, but with billions more spent in payroll, and three years without playoff appearances at all.

Now is decision time. Do I really want to spend the next three years writing in this blog solely about the Yankees? Spending my spare time rooting for a team that is not really very likeable, run by some extremely unlikeable people? We have been doing this blog since 2006, and I have newer interests in life. I run in a 5K race (or more) pretty much every weekend now, and I have other things going on in my world these days.

I am writing in different places as well, on different topics, and am getting rewarded for it. I recently beat out over 3000 other entries to win an all-expenses-paid opportunity to attend a weeklong magazine writing workshop, which is something to be thankful for. And it is a lot more positive than writing for the umpteenth time the obvious -- that Cashman is a lousy GM.

All of this is to say that I don't really find watching the Yankees much fun anymore. And we are going to have more of the same (actually, I think things will be worse -- the Mets have a brighter future than the Yankees these days!) in the near future. And for the last few years, writing about the Yankees has been a constant string of negativity, as this team just hasn't been much fun.

And I am not the only one who feels this way. My childhood friend Kelly wrote me this tonight:
Lisa, I am in the exact same space. Since 2001 I have subscribed to MLBTV (being I live in CA now). Prior to the 2013 season, upper management made little to no significant changes to the team and, granted injuries, sunk the team to the depths of nothingness. With minimal improvement to the 2014 year's team, I see virtually no commitment to making a championship caliber team. For the 2014 season I did not subscribe to MLBTV and I dare say, next year I won't either. I have loved this team since I was a little girl - from in the womb even. I can't believe where we are right now. It sucks to be pissed at your own team.
Yup. That is exactly how I feel. What is there to look forward to next year, other than maybe Betances? (Even I am not excited over A-Rod at 40!)

But I am not going to shut down the blog. That would mean Brian Cashman will have won.

However, I just can't see why I should expend the psychic energy involved with writing regularly about this dysfunctional situation. Writing 100 columns about why Cashman must go is not exactly my idea of fun.

So this blog will be a work in progress. Stay tuned.

2014 BBA awards ballot part 1 - American League

Squawker Jon and I are members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and we get the opportunity to vote on the group's end-of-season awards. Today, I am casting my ballot for the top rookie and top manager in the American League.

Willie Mays Award - Top Rookie (American League)
1. Jose Abreu -- Chicago White Sox (a player Brian Cashman should have gone after)
2. Masahiro Tanaka -- New York Yankees (may have been No. 1 if he hadn't gotten hurt)
3. Dellin Betances -- New York Yankees (one of the few things to look forward to in Yankeeland)

2014 Connie Mack Award - Top Manager (American League)
1. Buck Showalter -- Baltimore Orioles (Was always great at strategy; now is a great motivator of people. Was able to change with the times and relate to younger generation. Orioles are now team to beat in AL East. Yikes!
2. Ned Yost -- Kansas City Royals (Not a perfect manager, but got Royals to first postseason since I was in high school!)
3. Lloyd McClendon -- Seattle Mariners (Thanks to McClendon and Robinson Cano, the Mariners are relevant for the first time in over a decade.)

2014 BBA awards ballot part 1 - National League

For Rookie of the Year, I am pleased to vote for one of the Mets' few bright spots this season, Jacob deGrom. Terry Collins won't be showing up on my managers' list, however, but there's always next year if the Mets make their long-awaited leap to contention with the return of Matt Harvey.

Willie Mays Award - Top Rookie (National League)

1. Jacob deGrom - New York Mets
2. Billy Hamilton - Cincinnati Reds
3. Ken Giles - Philadelphia Phillies

2014 Connie Mack Award - Top Manager (National League)

1. Mike Matheny - St. Louis Cardinals
2. Bruce Bochy - San Francisco Giants
3. Clint Hurdle - Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, October 3, 2014

Shocker: Derek Jeter decides to become a St. Petersburg Squawker!

Of all the things Derek Jeter could do after retirement, he is going to be a blogger? Hey, that's my territory! And guess what? After less than two days in the biz, he is already doing damage control. Good grief.

Anyhow, I read with great interest Jeter's announcement Wednesday that he was starting his own blog, or as he calls it, a "platform," called the Players' Tribune, where athletes could get to speak their minds with "no filter." He also gave sportswriters a big ol' middle finger after they kissed his tuchis for the last two decades, basically saying that he avoided saying anything of interest for 20 years to avoid being misquoted or having his quotes taken out of context. Now he says, "I do think fans deserve more than 'no comments' or 'I don’t knows,'" he said. "Those simple answers ave always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted."

He also announced to the world that he is "not a robot." Who knew?

So Derek has started his own blog platform to, as he puts it, for athletes to have the tools they need to share what they really think and feel," so that they can "connect directly with our fans, with no filter."

Obviously, I have more than a few opinions on this endeavor:

First of all, this is not a new idea. In fact, didn't Curt Schilling do this, like, a decade ago with his 38 Pitches blog, way before social media? And don't athletes already have Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and their own web pages these days to communicate with fans? Heck, Richard Sherman even has his own weekly column with!

Second, there actually will be a filter -- the "editors" and "producers" Jeter acknowledges will be involved with the product, making decisions on everything from proofreading to choice of article topics. There will also be PR professionals involved, no doubt, to protect these players' brand and make sure they don't say anything interesting. Not to mention smoothing out those rough edges. It will be the verbal equivalent of Kim Kardashian's and Beyonce's "candid" Instagram shots that are actually Photoshopped to death.

Do you know what happens to athletes with no filter who "share what they really think and feel"? They usually get in trouble with the public. Heck, even with editors involved, athletes can get in trouble. Remember how David Wells got fined for daring to write in his autobiography that he was still half-drunk before his perfect game? Remember how Charles Barkley claimed he was misquoted -- in his own autobiography?

Heck, Jeter is already having to do damage control with sportswriters after his initial manifesto, telling Jimmy Fallon that the site "is not trying to eliminate sportswriters," and that "sportswriters are what make sports great and fun to watch." Heh.

I also would like to know exactly when/where Jeter thinks that reporters misquoted him. Because he literally received 99% positive coverage over the past 20 years. Also, thanks to televised post-game press conferences, players already have the ability to communicate to the fans directly. Yet Jeter still didn't say anything interesting in that spot.

Also, if Jeter is going to speak out now, he had better answer more interesting questions than he did in his snoozeworthy #AskJeter Twitter live chat. Maybe if I were 12 years old, I might want to know #2's favorite flavor of ice cream or whether he preferred chicken to beef. But I think people are more interested in things like how he really felt about A-Rod, a question I and many others asked him online in the chat, yet were ignored.

Something else Jeter is not acknowledging when it comes to being allegedly unfiltered is this: celebrities who talk about real issues stir up controversy and can suffer a financial hit. After Oprah Winfrey campaigned for Barack Obama for president, she lost a good chunk of her audience who never came back to her show. Rosie O'Donnell lost millions of fans and her reputation as the "Queen of Nice" when she got involved with political hectoring.

As Michael Jordan allegedly put it at one point when asked to wade into politics: Republicans buy sneakers, too. Are Jeter and other athletes going to risk potentially damaging their endorsement contracts, or their product sales, by truly saying what they really think? I doubt it. Heck, they are not even going to have a comments section on their articles!

In fact, Jeter also told Fallon while other athletes "like to share with the people, everything about them. I, personally, have not done that, and I personally will not do that." He insisted, "this is not about me, this is about an avenue for the players.” So even with his own blog, Jeter still isn't going to say anything interesting. Move over, Richard Neer. We have a new Sir Sominex!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hal Steinbrenner finally speaks, and shows that he couldn't manage a one-car funeral

So Hal (Rip Van Winkle) Steinbrenner has finally woken from his summer slumber and spoken to the media for the first time in two months. He talked to Michael Kay on the Yankee broadcaster's ESPN New York radio show yesterday, a day after I wondered where the heck Hal was. But I think Hal would have made a much better impression by doing the interview in person, given that Kay's show is simulcast on Hal's TV network. Heck, even A-Rod figured that out his fireside chats with Mike Francsesa came across much better when he was in the studio!

Here are some of the noteworthy subjects that Hal the Dilettante touched on during his phone call:

His apology to Yankee fans

He said "I apologize" when asked to explain this year's disastrous season, saying "We did not do the job this year. We know what you expect of us and we expect the same thing of ourselves." No, Hal, you don't expect anything of anybody, except not to be bothered with making any actual decisions. That's the problem! You said in August that Yankee hitters needed to "step it up," yet when the hitters didn't, nothing happened. Heck, even teams like the Mets fire hitting coaches now and then. Yet you have kept Kevin Long on since 2007!

On him bringing Brian Cashman back and his firing philosophy

He said Cashman "does a good job" (yeah, Hal, that Kevin Youkilis deal was awesome! So was trading for Stephen Drew!) and that they would be negotiating a new contract with Cashman. Hal told Kay the following:
"I don't think it is a news flash that I am different than George in a lot of ways," Steinbrenner said. "He was better in many things than me, but I do tend to be a little less rash when it comes to firing people. I want to make sure that what went wrong was for a reason. It was wrong because of that one individual or two individuals or whatever, I will get through that process before anything like that as opposed to any kind of knee jerk reactions."
Let's review. Hal has been in charge of the team for seven years now. George Steinbrenner has been dead for four years already. Brian Cashman got a three-year contract after the 2008 season, and then after the 2011 season. You might have been able to justify the 2011 deal, given the 2009 World Series win. But how in the world is it "rash" to think that another GM could have done a better job with the team, or to think about going in a new direction in the future? Cashman's day has come and gone, and everybody knows it except for Hal.

During this last Cashman contract, the Yankees were absolutely humiliated by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, and then didn't make the playoffs the next two seasons, even with the extra wild card spot. Cashman also did some embarrassing shenanigans in his personal life. In those three years, Cash also outspent everybody in the league bat least $50 million each year, made a slew of personnel mistakes, and got outwitted over and over. The farm system is a mess, and the team has a dismal future. But Hal still thinks it is "knee jerk" to consider finding a new GM? Good grief.

I think Hal is one of the laziest people ever. If he weren't born on third base and thought he hit a triple, he would be hanging out in his mom's basement, or living off some girlfriend's money, instead of doing something for himself. He would literally rather accept failure, year after year, than get off his duff and fire Cashman. After all, hiring and firing is sooooo hard!

George Steinbrenner spent his entire life trying to impress his father, Henry, which is part of the reason why he bought the Yankees and turned a down-at-its-heels franchise into a new dynasty, ultimately resulting in the team becoming in a multi-billion-dollar team. Hal Steinbrenner has spent his entire life not trying to be his father, avoiding responsibility and putting up with not just mediocrity but flat-out incompetence, year after year, and avoiding firing anybody for fear that somebody might compare him to The Boss. And the so-called tough New York media gives him a pass.

He said Beltran and McCann and Teixeira would be better next year

Hal sounded like Brian Cashman's ventriloquist's dummy in insisting that Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira would all be better next year. As I wrote yesterday, maybe McCann might, but expecting injury-prone, old players to improve without PEDs is absolutely delusional. 

Why he didn't attend Derek Jeter's final home game

Hal rationalized why he wasn't at Derek Jeter's home farewell, saying that "The 'Thank You Day' was the 7th [of September], and that day"was my family, that was the organization saying thank you to Jeter, which is exactly what I told him for everything that he has done for the organization." He said that "The last day really, in my opinion, was for the players." Too bad Kay did not ask Hal this followup question: So why was your sister Jenny front and center at that game, and you weren't?

Hal also told Michael that he was in Tampa that day, and said "I'm not going to get into why I couldn't be there, but I couldn't. I watched every bit of it." Note: I still think Hal was watching #TGIT instead of attending Derek Jeter's final home game!

He also said "It is perfectly understandable for people to be upset" about him not attending Jeter's home farewell, although he claimed to have been in Boston for the final weekend. How does the person running a billion-dollar business not realize that his job description entails being in Yankee Stadium when his team's No. 1 marketing choice of the year reaches his apex?

Here's what I would like to know. What could Hal have possibly had going on that day that was more important than being at Yankee Stadium that day? As my readers know, I think this Jeter farewell tour was a monstrosity, but even I get that Jeter's last home game was kind of a big deal.

He said the same blather about having a championship-caliber team

It shows the pathetic state of the New York media in that, a fan/fun Yankee site, had a better analysis of how Hal keeps on with the same nonsense about having a "championship-caliber team" than the press did. (Check it out here.)

Here is what Hal told Kay:
“I don’t think you can teach us old dogs new tricks – we expect to win every year. Our fans do, too. I am disappointed by all of this. We will be back next year with a championship-caliber team.”
Um, Hal, your old dog Brian Cashman just pooped on your interlocking NY rug, and it's time for you to clean it up. And if you won't do it, then, please, sell the team already and go back to spending all of your time being a dilettante, flying planes and doing weather reports. If you can't seem to care enough about the Yankees to clean up this mess, then why should the fans care about the team?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why weren't Steinbrenner sons at Derek Jeter's final farewell? Were they watching #TGIT? And where is Hal's statement about this disaster of a team?

Look -- I have criticized the Derek Jeter farewell tour repeatedly in this column. I found the hype and the kitsch over the top, and I thought it had become a flat-out money grab. But even I found Thursday's farewell game extremely touching, and, yes, I am not ashamed to admit cried at the end. Who wouldn't, after seeing Jeter's walkoff single in that game?

What moved me the most was seeing Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, and the rest on the field, waiting for Jeter. When Michael Kay said that Jeter hadn't yet noticed that they were there, I just lost it, crying and crying. It was a really wonderful night that everyone enjoyed. Except, apparently, for two people. Unlike their sister Jenny, who was seen on camera, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner reportedly couldn't be bothered to attend the game. Nor were they at Jeter's final game at Fenway Park.

Give me a break. What in the world could possibly be more important to them than being at Thursday's game -- catching Shonda Rimes' #TGIT on ABC? Why didn't they show up? Are Hal and Hank ticked off that recently Jeter pointed out the obvious to New York magazine -- that they are not their fathers' sons when it comes to being around the team?

Hal has mostly maintained a monk's silence for most of the season, briefly emerging in August to say that the Yankees needed to "step it up." Spoiler alert: they didn't. So here we are, with the Bombers having their second season in a row without a playoff appearance. Over $210 million was spent for nothing. Yet Hal hasn't said a word. And why isn't the media wondering where Hal is, and why he literally has nothing to say after this disaster of a year?

Then there is the Brian Cashman issue. How can this clown get a contract extension, when two of the three teams since his previous contract didn't make the playoffs, and the one that did had an epic collapse in the postseason? And the thing is, Cashman still doesn't understand what he did wrong. He recently told John Harper that "I honestly believe if you repeated this season 100 times, you would not get this result," a statement Harper does not challenge. Hmmm, I think if this season were repeated 100 times, you could even get worse results. For example, Jeter, to my surprise, stayed healthy all year. Jacoby Ellsbury stayed mostly healthy -- he very well could have been injured and missed significant time. And the injuries that did happen most likely still would have happened.

Image courtesy of
Cashman also said that "you’ll see the real Carlos Beltran next year" and that "Tex should be much better. His doctor says the first year after wrist surgery is difficult, and the next year is better." He also thought McCann would be better next year. I think that is possible with McCann, but the idea that Beltran and Teixeira, two injury-ridden, aging players, will be better one year older is delusional. To paraphrase Nomaas, what is Cashman smoking?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My thoughts on the never-ending Derek Jeter farewell tour

Courtesy of
I have been griping about the monstrosity of this eternal Derek Jeter farewell tour for months. I lost patience with it at the All-Star Game, with Adam Wainwright's "pipe shot" to Jeter, the obsequious Nike commercial, and the incessant talk about the Yankee captain keeping the broadcasters from discussing anybody or anything else. But this tour has only become even more obnoxious and self-serving and crass since.

For somebody who is beloved in no small part precisely because he was supposed to be about team, and not himself, this whole spectacle has been a massive, and yes, hypocritical ego trip on an unprecedented level. From the patch honoring himself on all of the Yankees' hats and jerseys for the past three weeks, to the Jeter flags circling Yankee Stadium, to the special Jeter bases, to the self-aggrandizing and obnoxious King of NY cleats, to the shameless Steiner Sports event where fans paid three and four figures to watch Jeter answer fawning "interview" questions from Brandon Steiner, to the tribute commercials, to the "My Way" theme song, to the incessant media coverage, it is all too much. 

At the same time, almost nobody in the media -- with the noted exceptions of Ken Davidoff, Chris Carlin, and Keith Olbermann -- has had anything critical to say about how this tour is the exact opposite of what Jeter is supposed to be about. I don't agree with all of their arguments -- Carlin shouldn't have used the word "fraud" and some of Olbermann's arguments, like the idea Jeter must miss the Boston series to be a real Yankee, were weak. But I think we need to have dissenting views from the herd, and talk about them, without others complaining about them being "haters" -- the most overused and misused term out there these days. Literally 99.9% of the articles out there this year on Jeter are positive, despite the crassness of this tour. And yet some Jeter fans lose their minds over any opinion that does not conform to their ideal, wanting to silence those opinions. Sheesh.

The Yankees were eliminated from the postseason yesterday, which should be a much bigger deal than it is. After all, this is the second year in a row the Bombers didn't make the postseason, despite the biggest payroll in the league. The Yankees have become the new Atlanta Braves, with one title in 14 seasons, except the Braves actually won their division each year (and did it in a third of the payroll of these Yankees.) Oh, and Atlanta actually fired their GM when they didn't make the playoffs this year. Meanwhile, in Yankeeland, the incompetent Brian Cashman may get yet another contract. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned accountability in the Bronx? 

I think it is clear that the Steinbrenners are more interested in this shameless money grab that the "season2watch" has become than in winning. After all, this tour has been putting fannies in the seats, and cash in the coffers. Who cares about the games when you can buy a Derek Jeter sock for the low, low price of $409.99? And that is one sock -- not a pair! Or you can buy the dirt Jeter walked on, or the rake that touched the dirt that Jeter walked on, as if these items are religious relics from a saint. I imagine Brandon Steiner -- who was celebrating in Jeter's private suite at Yankee Stadium with Derek's dad -- will try to sell the air from over today's game, or the rain. And fans will be all too happy to open their wallets.

* * *

The biggest irony to me is that Jeter's actual tangibles -- Jayson Stark highlighted some of the eyepopping numbers in Derek's career -- get lost in all this blather and hype over the intangibles. Sorry, folks, but Jeter isn't the best person to ever play the game, But he was a very good player who was consistently very good for a very long time. He never had an MVP season, but he had a consistent level of success which is reflected in the 3400+ hits and 200 postseason hits and over 1000 multi-hit games and 2743 games played,  He is a first-ballot HOFer and a top five Yankee. If you want to talk off-the-field stuff, his Turn 2 Foundation has given $19 million in grants to help young people. Isn't that enough? Why do we have to have all the rest of this nonsense?

Friday, September 19, 2014

'Ultimate team player' Derek Jeter chooses 'My Way' as theme song

Even I have to admit that the new Derek Jeter ad for Gatorade is very well done, and it is understandable why it has struck such a chord. After July’s fawning Nike ad, I wondered why Jeter didn't do a commercial thanking the fans, instead of having everyone kiss his tuchis and show him respect. (I refuse to spell that word with a 2!) The latest Jeter commercial actually does just that, and in a vacuum, it would make a great sendoff.

But we've been through a season of stories about how Jeter is not merely a first-ballot Hall of Famer with five rings, but is the face of baseball, the ultimate team player, and the truest Yankee of them all. So I have to ask, how did Jeter, who came up with the ad’s concept, decide that the song that sums up his career is “My Way”?

How do lyrics like "To think I did all that/And may I say, not in a shy way/Oh no, oh no, not me/I did it my way" and "For what is a man, what has he got/If not himself, then he has not/To say the things he truly feels/And not the words of one who kneels" work for somebody who is supposed to be all about team?

Here's what Paul Anka, who wrote "My Way" for Frank Sinatra in 1968, told the Daily Telegraph about what inspired the song's lyrics. Sinatra was making noises at that time about retiring:
"At one o'clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, 'If Frank were writing this, what would he say?' And I started, metaphorically, 'And now the end is near.' I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was 'my this' and 'my that'. We were in the 'me generation' and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: 'I ate it up and spit it out.' But that's the way he talked."
Anka also said in My Way, his autobiography, that he wrote the song with Sinatra's notorious ego in mind:
"I'd never before written something so chauvinistic, narcissistic, in-your-face and grandiose, everything in that song was Sinatra."
Jeter's love for the song tells us more about him than people are realizing. "I did it my way," Sinatra brags, not "We did it our way," or "I did it the team way."  After all, Jeter didn't get to stay at shortstop (and bat second in the lineup!) at age 40 without doing it his way.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Keep hope alive: Will Brian Cashman be given his walking papers at the end of the year?

I guess $2.7 billion doesn't go as far as it used to. That is how much New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has spent in Yankee payroll since 2001 to get exactly one World Series title in 14 years. But even though Cashman has literally outstpent every other team in the majors over that time frame, the Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants have more World Series titles than the Yanks do over those years.

I would call the Bombers the new Atlanta Braves -- they only had 1 title over 14 seasons as well -- but the Braves never spent anywhere near what the Yanks did. Plus they actually made the playoffs each of those years, while the Bombers are about to miss the playoffs for the second season in a row. Not to mention that the Yankees got to keep all of their core, but the Braves lost Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to free agency. So for the Yankees to have only 1 ring in those years, with the player and payroll advantages, is really bad.

The exact date Brian Cashman jumped the shark

Anyhow, all of this is to say that it seems more than a little odd to me that Hal Steinbrenner may actually bring Cashman back for another contract. At what point does accountability matter with the franchise again? And just because Cash may have done a good job in his earlier years does not mean he is doing a good job now.

For me, I can pinpoint the exact date where Cashman jumped the shark. I was stuck all day in Newark Airport on December 22, 2009, trying to get a flight to Austin, Texas so I could go home for the holidays, when I heard the news that Melky Cabrera had been traded for Javier (Home Run Javy) Vazquez. Losing Melky was bad enough, but the fact he was being traded for a pitcher who was nothing short of a disaster in his first time in pinstripes (remember Vazquez giving up the grand slam to Johnny Damon in the 2004 ALCS?) was crazy. Not to mention that in that very same week, Cashman decided to bring back Nick (The Sick) Johnson, too.

It was almost like Cashman felt liberated after the 2009 World Championship, and decided he could do whatever he wanted to, with no feel of repercussions. And he would redo moves that didn't work the first time to somehow show how smart those moves were in the first place. Instead, Vasquez and Johnson Part Deux were even more awful than the first time. Javy's ERA was over 5, and Johnson made all of 98 plate appearances before getting injured again. Vasquez made $11.5 million that year, and Johnson $5.5 million. On any other team, a GM might get in trouble for spending such money with so little in return, but on the Yankees, Cashman got a pass, the way he did just last year for spending $12 million on Kevin Youkilis for 118 plate appearances.

Mark Newman leaving isn't enough

Sure, Mark Newman, head of the team's minor league operations, is "retiring" (although he is now saying that his retirement was planned back in February.) But at what point does Cashman get held responsible for this disaster of a team?

Last week, there was a story leaked that the Yankees had already decided to bring Cashman back. While nobody has confirmed anything on the record, I wondered if 1) Hal Steinbrenner had leaked that as a trial balloon, to see how fans and the media would reaction, or 2) Cashman himself had leaked this story even though it hadn't been agreed to by ownership, simply to make getting rid of him more difficult.

I have heard the argument that Cashman shouldn't be fired, because ownership backed up all of his dopey moves. Well, using that logic, no GM could ever lose their job ever.

If Cashman does get a new contract (and undoubtedly a raise, to boot) for doing a terrible job (in his last three seasons, the team only had one postseason appearance, one that ended in the worst Yankee collapse since the 2004 team), the team won't win anything. Cashman is incapable of introspection, of trying a new approach, and of the competence needed to rebuild this team. If you want to see more of the same -- next year's Carlos Beltrans and Stephen Drews of the world -- that is what you will get with Brian Cashman. What you won't get is any hope that this team will ever improve.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Citi Field becoming another Grant's Tomb

I went to my first Met game in weeks last night, and the place was so empty that even the Shake Shack line was manageable. It brought me back to the bad old days of the late '70s after the Tom Seaver trade, when Shea Stadium was referred to as "Grant's Tomb" in honor of notorious chairman of the board M. Donald Grant. Once again, the Mets have done their best to destroy fan interest in a once-thriving franchise.

In 1979, the Mets finished last in the league in attendance with 788,905, an average of 9,261 per game. Back then, they gave actual attendance, rather than tickets sold. Last night, 21,260 tickets were sold, but I guess a lot of those fans had something better to do last night, because they were not at the ballpark.

I remember when the Mets used to have a scoreboard quiz in the ninth inning asking the fans to guess the attendance. These days, they could bring a couple of fans out to second base and have them manually count everyone in the stands.

I was on the shorter line at Shake Shack when the starting lineups were announced. You can generally tell when the Mets are being announced because of all the cheers, but not last night. 

But the lack of interest in the game also meant that our tickets in section 409 behind home plate cost just $6 each. You have a much better chance of being featured on the big video screen if you are into that sort of thing. And I had no trouble getting a seat on the subway back home. They were even still running expresses back to Manhattan. Perhaps the MTA did not realize that the U.S. Open was over.

As for the game, I hope one day to be able to boast about the fact that I saw Rafael Montero's first win. (I also saw Mike Pelfrey's first win in 2006, but nobody is asking for a framed copy of that ticket.)

It was somehow appropriate that Montero had a no-hitter with two outs in the fifth, but had already thrown so many pitches that you knew he would never get to finish one.  Kind of like the Mets trying to tease us that they are still technically alive for the playoffs, which has no chance of happening, either.

After 1979, Met fans finally had renewed hope when new ownership took over. Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon arrived to save the day. Yes, it was a long time ago.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My semi-snarky thoughts on the Derek Jeter Day celebration

I was out and about on Sunday, so I missed seeing the Derek Jeter Day festivities live. But since some of my (not so) adoring fans want to know my opinion of the event, I watched the whole ceremony online (click here to see it for yourself.) Here are my thoughts:

* Unlike other people, I am actually fine with doing the Derek Jeter Day during the season. (Hey, Yankee catcher Jake Gibbs got a day when the season was still going on, too, and most Yankee fans don't even remember who he was!) I was also fine with the nice tribute video.

* I am not so fine with the special patches, and the balls, and the bases and the flags. Don't get me started on the flags -- they are ridiculous, especially having them ring the stadium. But Jeter and the Yankees and Steiner Sports will make a mint on these items, especially when the Captain signs them. And thanks to the event happening with three weeks in the season, they will make even more money. Oy.

* While that stuff is tacky, the Yankees were the opposite of tacky in the Jeter gifts. It ticked me off last year when the Yanks gave Mariano Rivera a rocking chair made of bats. After all, Ron Gardenhire of the Twins had already had such a chair made, with the broken bats of Minnesota hitters!  On the other hand, the Jeter gifts -- the massage therapy machine, the Waterford crystal, the Tuscany trip, the All-Star patches, the $222,222.22 check for his foundation seemed thoughtful and tasteful.

* Another difference from Mo's day? No Brandon Steiner on the field. Also, the guest list was very good -- every single guest meant something. Was more surprised at Dave Winfield being there than Cal Ripken Jr. and Michael Jordan, the so-called surprise guests. But Michael Kay, stop with the Michael Jordan of Baseball stuff. Jordan was the greatest NBA player of all time. Unless Jeter changes his name to Babe Ruth, he is not the greatest MLB player of all time.

*  The crowd didn't seem that excited by it, but for me, one of the most moving parts of the ceremony was seeing the Jeter's Leaders on the field (and keep in mind, those were only some of the young men and women helped by Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation.)  Anybody can set up a foundation, but to have it actually help people, year after year, is something to be admired and cherished. And Jeter set it up when he was just 22.

* Yankee public address announcer Paul Olden finally gets to utter Jeter's name. That's a first, isn't it?

* Jeter's speech was excellent, and hit all the right notes in just three minutes or so. Teachers in public speaking ought to use that as an example for their students.

* That "2" wreath was terrible, though. Looked like a funeral wreath!

* I didn't get to see the tribute videos that ran between innings, but I heard that Robinson Cano was booed. Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner ought to have been the ones booed -- for not keeping Cano!

* Anyhow, I thought the day was mostly fine. The game, not so much!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Joe Girardi makes it clear: Managing Derek Jeter's retirement tour is more important than trying to make the playoffs

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi actually used to be unafraid to make the right decision for the good of the team, even if it ruffled some feathers. Remember, he batted the struggling Jorge Posada ninth against the Boston Red Sox, causing the catcher to have his sitdown snit and refuse to play. Of course, Girardi also pulled and benched Alex Rodriguez in the 2012 playoffs multiple times, to the point where he even chose playing the struggling Eric Chavez (!) over A-Rod.

But when it comes to Derek Jeter, it is clear that despite Girardi saying back in April that "I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour,” that is exactly what he is doing right now. Why else would he keep Jeter in the No. 2 spot, even though the captain had, as the New York Post's Joel Sherman notes, "the AL’s worst OPS in August at .487" for hitters with more than 100 plate appearances? (Jeter hit all of .207 in August, with a measly .226 on-base percentage.) Why would Girardi be so defensive with the media yesterday for them daring to question his lineup choices?

Girardi defends himself

As ESPN New York reported, Girardi accused the media of picking on Jeter and singling him out, and then complained, "So I move him? Who am I going to put there? That's my question." He also argued that Jeter should be batting second, saying, according the Daily News, that "I consider us kind of to be in playoff mode right now, because we obviously need to win games,” because "throughout his career, [Jeter's] been clutch in the playoffs." Note: Paul O'Neill was clutch in the playoffs, too. Is he going to start in right field now?

Sure, Jeter is not the only problem with this team, but Girardi getting so defensive and insistent that the Captain should stay in his No. 2 spot, even though his numbers over the past month have been horrible, is troubling. Most players with stats like that wouldn't even be starting, let alone getting the second-most at-bats of anybody on the team.

I go back and forth on this issue. A few weeks ago, I was asked by Syracuse radio show host Mike Lindsley whether Jeter should be moved down, and I didn't think it would make a difference. But since then, Martin Prado has been the hottest hitter on the team, and Jeter has struggled even more. So it would have made sense to put Prado (who batted seventh last night) further up in the lineup, and Jeter further down. But because Girardi is indeed managing Jeter's retirement tour now, not for a playoff run, the captain stays where he is. (I know Prado may be injured after last night's game, but he still should have been higher in the lineup.)

Look, I don't think the Yankees are making the playoffs anyway. But the fact is that the team isn't hitting, and moving the players around the lineup couldn't hurt. Girardi complains that the media is singling Jeter out, but the manager is, as Newsday's David Lennon points out, singling Jeter out himself by refusing to even consider moving him.

Yankee beat writer defends Girardi

Sportswriter Brendan Kuty of the Newark Star-Ledger defended Girardi's lineup choices, writing:

"Dropping Jeter would be a bigger distraction than not dropping him has been to date. Because what if his replacement isn't much better? Or, worse, what if it at all damages the relationship between Jeter and the Yankees?"

Kuty also writes that the Yankees should worry more about protecting "Jeter's pristine legacy" than "any false playoff hopes."

Hmmm. I thought the Captain was the ultimate team-first guy. So why wouldn't he want what is best for the team? Why would doing what is best for the team damage things? Come to think of it, why wouldn't Jeter himself suggest that it was time to move him down the lineup, and take the heat off his manager for doing so?

On that crazy retirement patch

Speaking of that selfless, team-first player, how about the fact that a team that doesn't even put names on the back of the uniforms is putting Jeter's name on patches on their hats and jerseys for the last month of the season? (Who needs tradition when you can make even more money?) And how creepy is it going to be when Jeter himself wears patches honoring himself? Even more creepy than Jeter starring in a commercial with everybody kissing his tuchis, or wearing shoes calling himself the King of New York. (Cue the Jeter defenders writing in to say sexist things. But guess what? That doesn't make the Jeter patch and the Jeter cleats and the Jeter Re2pect commercial  any less self-aggrandizing or obnoxious. And guess what else? Jeter agreed to all of this nonsense.)

Of course, Jeter and Steiner Sports and the Yankees will make a mint selling these special hats and jerseys, particularly the game-used ones.  ESPN's Darren Rovell reported yesterday that Jeter game-used jerseys currently go for $25,000 (!) each. Undoubtedly the ones with the special patch will go for even more. But at what cost?

It's funny how so much of what purportedly made Jeter special -- his humility, his team-first attitude, his supposed desire not to draw attention to himself -- have been completely obliterated over the last few years, culminating in this debacle of a retirement tour. "At what point is the Jeter worship enough?" I asked last month "When does it end?" I guess it never ends, not until the team becomes the New York Jeters, who play at Jeter Stadium. Good grief indeed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do the New York Yankees now have a home-field disadvantage?

Something struck me last night when watching the Yankees-Astros game -- how quiet the ballpark was (other than the booing of David Robertson, of course!) The crowd wasn't very loud, even when the Yankees were scoring runs. And after Robertson blew the save, and after the crowd was done booing, you could have heard a pin drop for the rest of the game, it was so quiet. It was if everybody knew in their hearts that this offense wouldn't be able to make up that three-run deficit, so there was no point in vocalizing anything, let alone cheers to rouse the team in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It wasn't that long ago that playing at home was considered a big advantage for the Bronx Bombers. Yet this year, the Yankees' won-loss record is actually below .500 at home!

Here are the Yankee Stadium III wins/losses breakdowns and winning percentages since 2009, when the Stadium opened:

Overall Record: 103-59, .636
Home Record:  57-24, .704
Away Record:     46-35, .568

Overall Record:   95-67, .568
Home Record:  52-29, .642
Away Record:     43-38, .531

Overall Record:    97-65, .599
Home Record:   52-29, .642
Away Record:      45-36, .556

Overall Record:   95-67, .586
Home Record:   51-30, .630
Away Record:     44-37, .543

Overall Record:   85-77, .525
Home Record:  46-35, .568
Away Record:     39-42, .481

Overall Record:   63-60, .512
Home Record:  29-30, .492
Away Record:     34-30, .531 

Look at those numbers. Even when the Yankees only won 85 games last year, their winning percentage at home was still significantly better than their away record. This year, not so much.

If the Yankees are going to have any smidgen of a chance to make the playoffs (and I don't think they will -- they have the toughest schedule of any MLB team going into the last quarter of the year, and they don't have good hitters), they need to win at home. They have 21 games left in their own ballpark, as opposed to 17 away games. 

Michael Kay criticized the fans for booing Robertson last night, and in turn, he got criticized by Yankee fans for doing so. But I agree with Kay on this (and was on his radio show a few months ago when I called in on this very subject of fans booing their own players; my point was just because you can do something like booing, doesn't mean you should!) Not only have I been consistent against Yankee fans doing this, but David Robertson has been terrific all year, and last night was a rare misstep. If you really expected him to be this good, raise your hand, because I sure didn't. And what does he get in return for being great? Some Yankee fans turning on him like that.

Look, I get the frustration in Yankeeland. I am just as frustrated as anyone. But I think that the boos and the lack of support and the other stupid things some Yankee fans have done this year (the worst: the way Robinson Cano was tricked and then booed) may have a little something to do with the Yankees having an even worse record at home than they do in away games this year.

I also think it's odd that a fan base who puts so much stock in jinxes and superstitions and ghosts would tempt the baseball gods that way. (Not to mention my strong suspicion that the house mikes were turned at full blast to amplify the already loud anti-Cano boos even further on the broadcast!)

There is no home field advantage anymore at Yankee Stadium this year; it is more like a home field disadvantage. It is generally commonly accepted conventional wisdom that the new Yankee Stadium is just not as loud as the old ballpark. But there just doesn't seem to be much of a good vibe anymore in the ballpark, something that was evident even in the new Stadium. And other than the good vibes in the house when players like Derek Jeter are going to be feted on their special days, I don't know what is going to change that in the near future.

This is not a good team, but I don't think the booing is helping.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Could Brian (Supergenius) Cashman be on his way out? Please, Hal (Rip Van Winkle) Steinbrenner, make it happen!

Believe it or not, I actually have a smidgen of hope this week for the Yankees. Not for this season, of course. I have never had any expectations that the Yankees would actually go anywhere in 2014, other than to the bottom of the AL East. But that Hal (Rip Van Winkle) Steinbrenner may actually have stirred from the slumber he has been in over the past five seasons and is finally realizing that the Yanks need new leadership in the GM spot. 

When Hal was in Baltimore the other day to select a new MLB Commissioner, he was asked about the state of the Yankees. Steinbrenner said that the hitters need to "step it up" and that A-Rod would be back in 2015. These tidbits were the focus of the initial stories on what he said. Buried in these articles was the most important thing of all -- that Hal did not say that Brian Cashman would definitely be re-signed to a new contract. Instead, he said:
"We’re so busy right now, trying to figure out who’s going to be playing in any given game, much less that,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ll be talking about that soon enough. But you know me. We’ve got enough things to worry about during the season. That’s where our focus needs to be.
“Let me get to October — hopefully the end of October, beginning of November — and we’ll go from there.” 
Funny thing was that the New York media initially did their best to pooh-pooh that assertion: for example, New York Post columnst Ken Davidoff insisted that Steinbrenner's "comments Wednesday felt less like a non-endorsement and more like a sense he had too many other current items on his plate."

And John Harper of the New York Daily News said on "Daily News Live" that "I don't think Cashman is in any danger" because "I don't think the Steinbrenners really have the stomach for a big GM search."

Keep in mind, though, that the NYC media is in the tank for Cashman. Any other GM, for any other team (or sport) would be on the hot seat now. But Teflon Cashman, who puts Teflon Torre to shame, gets a pass from the press. The fact that none of them have the guts to even question whether he should return is pretty telling. To my knowledge, until Hal's comments, there hasn't even been a single story written in the New York papers about whether it is time to consider a new Yankee GM, at the same time New York Mets' GM Sandy Alderson's status has been questioned multiple times.

Is Rip Van Winkle finally stirring?

But at a certain point, doesn't Steinbrenner have to be looking at getting a new GM to deal with MLB right now, and in the future? Not keeping on a has-been like Cashman who is still acting like it's 2003, when the financial realities of baseball gave the Yankees such an overwhelming advantage? Most teams have their own regional networks now, with all the extra money that entails. And they are signing their good players to long-term contracts early. So that means that free agency, which used to be like shopping at Neiman-Marcus, is now often more like rummaging through Goodwill for old things.

Unlike the NYC media, I would have to be like Dory from "Finding Nemo," with the inability to remember anything that happened longer than five minutes ago, to think Cashman is doing a good job. And so would Hal. Two weeks ago, the press was falling all over themselves to praise Cash's smooth trade moves. Now, it is nothing but crickets when reality has set in. The Yankees have lost five in a row and are such an inept opponent that the Tampa Bay Rays aren't even doing standard pre-game practice for this weekend's series.

Cashman's smooth moves are pathetic

Oh, and here are the current Yankee slash lines for those great hitters Cashman traded for:

Stephen Drew: .170/.204/.259 (even worse than his numbers as a Red Sox!)
Chase Headley: .250/.345/.368 (slightly better than at San Diego, but pathetic for a power position)
Martin Prado: .163.217/.256 (and the Yanks now owe him $10M a year for the next two seasons)

Robinson Cano: Miss him yet?

Still think Cashman is doing a good job, folks? Let's look at what Robinson Cano is doing with the Seattle Mariners. His slash line is .330/.398/.476. His Mariners just overtook the Detroit Tigers for the second AL Wild Card spot. His team is going somewhere this year. But hey, the Yankees won't have to pay him eight years from now. Of course, they seemed to have forgotten that before Year 8, they might have actually had a great player.

And where are all the New York media's articles about Seattle's great play this year, thanks in no small part to Cano? The media narrative in December was that Cano was going to a nowhere team. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity -- he is leading his team on a playoff run! Imagine that! (An aside: I expect over the next few weeks, when Seattle's drive for October finally gets noticed by the NYC media, for Cashman to plant some stories in the press about how he really wanted Cano back, but was overruled by Hal. Remember, you heard it here first!)

Maybe John Harper is right, that Hal doesn't have the stomach for a GM search. If that is true, then the kids need to just sell the team already. Would they rather just see their money wasted, year after year, than to show some intestinal fortitude?

Is Brian Cashman finally going to be given the old heave-ho?

Or maybe Hal is finally fed up. The dirty little secret about the Yankees' decent attendance this year is how many of those tickets are sold at discount sites like Groupon and Living Social, with people paying much less than full price. And that is with this being Derek Jeter's last season, and with having Masahiro Tanaka in the first half. What are things going to be like after Jeter retires and if Tanaka gets Tommy John surgery?

Hal is supposedly a numbers guy. He has to know that the ticket sales and the ratings are going to plummet even more next year. The Yankees' farm system is so bad that Cashman keeps on trading and signing for has-beens as position players, instead of promoting from within. And even signing the likes of Jon Lester will not keep this team afloat, not if the idiot GM stays in charge.

As Dr. Phil always says, if you keep on doing what you've been doing, you're gonna keep on getting what you've been getting. Is Hal Steinbrenner going to finally change things up, stop being afraid that he will be compared to his father if he actually has the nerve to fire someone, and clean house, starting with his idiot GM? I don't know for sure, but I am more hopeful today that it actually could happen than I have been in years.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Squawker Media Alert: Lisa on radio at 4:15 p.m. today

Lisa will be squawking baseball with Mike Lindsley of Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 4:15 p.m. today, Thursday, August 14. 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!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My favorite Paul O'Neill moment is one that never made the highlight reels

Back in the day, I was a big Paul O'Neill fan. And my late father was, too; that was his favorite player of the 90s dynasty years. (My mother thought O'Neill was a big baby for his temper tantrums, though!)

Anyhow, I was very happy to see the O'Neill has finally gotten the honor he deserves, getting a plaque in Monument Park. If I hadn't already made previous plans to participate in the Asbury Park 5K this past Saturday, I definitely would have gone to the O'Neill ceremony.

I wrote in 2012 about how O'Neill and the rest of the Other Core Four have not gotten the attention and recognition they deserve, while writers like Tom Verducci call Jorge Posada a Core Four member, even though he had a relatively small part in those dynasty years. Here is what I wrote back then:
Newsflash: there was another Core Four in Yankeeland in the late 90s. You may have heard of them, although the Tom Verduccis of the world seem to have forgotten about who they were, relegating them to a footnote. Their names were Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, and Tino Martinez. All four of them had much more to do with the Four Rings than Posada ever did.
Incidentally, why no David Cone plaque? Not only was he the Yankees' ace for much of those years, but he also had a perfect game in pinstripes! While I don't think any of these four players, with the possible exception of Williams, deserve their numbers to be retired, they do deserve more recognition for their great moments in pinstripes. And while O'Neill did get that in 2001 from the fans, when they chanted his name in Game 5 of the World Series, I am glad to see that he has been recognized in Monument Park.

My favorite O'Neill moment, though, is not one many people saw. It wasn't in a game, or an interview. In 1996, I flew up from Texas to New York to see Game 1 of the World Series in person. While the game itself was a debacle, I did see something from O'Neill before the game that impressed me to no end. I got to the Stadium many hours ahead of time, in order to get a ticket and check out the scene. So I saw most of the players enter the ballpark from the parking lot, an experience I believe no longer exists at the new ballpark. Anyhow, when I saw O'Neill in street clothes, I was struck by how much he was limping. It looked like even walking from the parking lot to the stadium entrance caused immense pain.

It wasn't a secret that his left hamstring was bothering him then, but seeing him limping in person helped hit home how badly he was hurting them, and made me respect him even more. Especially when we saw him leap in that last play of Game 5 that year to save the game for the Yankees. O'Neill only hit .167 in that series, but he made one of the most famous defensive plays of that era. All on that bad leg.

Anyhow, that is my favorite Paul O'Neill moment. What is yours?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Derek Jeter's cleats are self-aggrandizing and obnoxious

Photo courtesy of
Imagine a professional athlete in a team sport putting his *individual* accomplishments on his cleats for all to read, topped with the shoes he is wearing calling himself "The King of NY." You would think that was pretty tacky, right? Especially when the star in question plays for a team that doesn't even put players' names on the back of the uniforms. But when the athlete in question is Derek Jeter, some Yankee fans contort themselves to defend this self-aggrandizing stunt, even though the cleats go against everything they purport to admire about the Captain -- his team-first attitude, humility, and desire to avoid individual attention.

But as I have learned over the years, if you ever want to get people really angry, especially Yankees fans, just say something, anything critical about Jeter. That is something I experienced on Facebook yesterday after my friend Jeff asked for my opinion about Jeter's new cleats. I missed seeing them this week, but when I saw the New York Post story on them, I was appalled. Aside from him calling himself "The King of NY," which is self-aggrandizing enough (Is this how he is going to outdo Joe DiMaggio when he is introduced during future Old-Timers' Days? Is there a Bob Sheppard audio in the vaults somewhere that will solemnly declare, "Number 2, Derek Jeter, the King of NY"?) there is also the way "MVP" is in big bold letters, with "All-Star" in tiny letters above it. (Jeter, who some of his acolytes like to think is the greatest player of all time, never won an American League MVP.) The five championships are in tiny type, too, with things like the Silver Slugger awards getting much more space on his shoes.

There are also not one but two mentions of those five Gold Gloves Jeter won, even though the last few were hardly deserved. There is also not just "respect" spelled with a 2, but "captain." Good grief. In short, these cleats are a hot mess. 

Put it this way -- Ray Lewis had his own individual accomplishments on the cleats he wore in his last Super Bowl, but he had the words on the bottom of the shoes, not, like Jeter's, on the cleats themselves for everybody else to read. Nor did Lewis call himself "The King of Baltimore" or any such nonsense; instead, the visible part of the shoe had Psalms 91. (Hat tip to Baseball Think Factory for the info on Lewis' cleats.) When Ray Lewis, who regularly wore a fur coat, has more subtle shoes than Derek Jeter, you know Jete's cleats are way too much.

It's funny. I have been hearing for at least the last decade or so about how Jeter was all about humility, the team, and putting the Yankees -- and winning -- first over individual accomplishments. Wasn't that exactly how A-Rod was found wanting? That he was the me-first kind of guy who only cared about individual stuff? Yet here, Jeter does something that is the opposite of his image, and not for the first time, and some Yankee fans, instead of wondering what the heck the captain is thinking, direct their vitriol at folks like me for simply pointing out that Jeter looks like a tool wearing this. 

Jeter is supposed to be a role model for children, but do the parents of America want their kids to promote themselves like that? Really? This sort of braggadocio, which is also why I find the Jeter Nike commercial so obnoxious, seems antithetical to his image. 

And really, at what point is the Jeter worship enough? When does it end? I have said it before and I will say it again. It is not enough to call him a first-ballot HOFer and a top five Yankee, as I do on my friend Sully Baseball's show (yes, I explain how I give Jeter the nod over DiMaggio.) We also have to think that Jeter is the greatest person to ever play the game, the most humble and wonderful. And when we are done with the Manchurian Candidate-esque accolades, we are not allowed to ever notice when he does me-first things that are the opposite of what he is supposed to be about. 

You know, it is one thing for Jeter to stand there and bask in other people saying how wonderful he is. It is more than a little creepy and weird when he himself is doing the praising. Change his name to anybody else's in this scenario, and people would agree. But call out Jeter, and you're just a hater. Good grief.

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