Friday, June 30, 2006

Peter Gammons new CD just aired on XM with Charley Steiner & Gordon Edes

Sounded great--Tim Wakefield on lead vocals, Gammons on guitar, Arroyo & DiNardo also in band. The song they played was called "Modern Citizen," written by Warren Zevon. The name of the cd soon to be released is "Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old," couldn't quite hear the name of the record company, sounded like Randa or Rownda. Charley notes reports on Gammons health today are very encouraging.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

That darling Trevor Hoffman is being nursed for his phony little stats by lots of other phonies

Remember how he was really mad last summer--he & his arrogant agent said he should be making more than Mariano Rivera? Nobody wanted him. WHEN DOES HE COME IN WITH MEN ON BASE AS MARIANO IS ASKED TO DO ALL THE TIME? He wasted Cleveland's time for awhile, then got the Padres to hire his brother, Glenn Hoffman & get rid of some other Padres players so they could pay little Trevor extra. And why? To nurse his stats, to get reporters to write stupid articles about how great and historic this idiot is. Because reporters can make up anything they want without consequence. Every voice on ESPN, most voting members of the BBWAA, & numerous baseball figures such as the phony Theo Epstein are also complicit in boosting this twirp. You see, the major #2 benefit of boosting Trevor is KEEPING MARIANO RIVERA FROM GETTING THE RECOGNITION HE DESERVES. For example, in a ridiculous pandering piece about Trevor this month, Orange County Register's Mark Whicker notes
Bruce Bochy, Hoffman's only manager since 1995, knows Hoffman considers his own arm a bank. Each warmup pitch is a withdrawal, and it counts. The eighth inning is someone else's province. Hoffman has only topped 70 innings once since 1998. He also hasn't worked more than one inning in a game since August 29, 2004.
So, Hoffman hasn't worked more than 1 inning in almost 2 years, & even every warmup pitch is a withdrawal from the bank. THIS PHONY, SHAMELESS CAMPAIGN MUST BE STOPPED. THE 'SAVES' STAT DOES NOT MEAN WHAT TREVOR AND HIS LACKIES ARE IMPLYING. BUT, THERE IS NO SUPERVISION AT MLB OR AMONG THE POLITICIANS IN THE BASEBALL AWARDS VOTING. Or is there? Hey, Mark Whicker, we all have access to stats. The greatest closer in the history of baseball? Not your pal from the pitchers' park on the west coast who's being fed and nursed just to get publicity from frauds like you. THE GREATEST CLOSER IN HISTORY IS OF COURSE, MARIANO RIVERA. EITHER LOOK IT UP, OR ASK ANY MANAGERS OF TEAMS WHO'VE PLAYED AGAINST HIM SINCE THE POST SEASON OF 1995. AND YES, THE POST SEASON COUNTS, WHERE RIVERA HAS PITCHED 111 INNINGS. WOULD YOUR PRECIOUS BOY LIKE TO TAKE THAT OUT OF THE BANK FOR HIS TEAM? OBVIOUSLY, NOT.
  • In a world where power is highly centralized, those who say a few words that differ from the big money machine's are often called names, accused of being deranged, etc. Rather than respond to the actual content of the material presented, the elites in charge will simply negate other views by calling them "hate speech," etc. It goes on in all walks of life, espeically on the internet.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

3 Yankee points from today

  1. Mariano Rivera leads all AL late inning relievers with 43 IP.
  2. Chien-Ming Wang adds to his success with 19 more ground-outs today (215 GO ytd)
  3. The MVP title bestowed by the totally corrupt & flawed BBWAA shouldn't be confused with anything fans would agree with. Nor anything that anyone who watched a team every day would agree with.

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Emmylou Harris--chose favorite baseball teams from radio (Braves are her favorite)

bn.com: About that baseball team... EH: The Braves. Because I'm on the road all summer, it had to be the Braves, the White Sox, or the Cubs. They're the only ones that stations broadcast their games consistently. The Braves are closest to Nashville, too. So it became the Braves. And it had to be the National League, because we all know that the designated hitter is not the way God meant baseball to be played. Kerry Dexter (Interviewed this year by Barnes & Noble.com).

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Lou Piniella meets with Arod til 3AM

Arod told Suzyn Waldman after his clutch hit today that he met with Lou Piniella til 3AM this morning. Lou had mentioned to Suzyn he just wanted to talk to Alex, that he'd had him for 7 years & knew a little about him. Alex said Lou's like a father to him, & their talk helped him a lot. There's only 1 person in the Yankee lineup hitting over 300---Derek Jeter.

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Talking Baseball & its writers on the left

Sports in America are a funny thing. Average Americans who love sports are often dismissed by their betters in academia as rednecks and worse; especially the few yahoos who get carried away when their teams win it all. Unless of course, these celebrations take place in inner-city areas where the populace is assumed to be merely venting frustration at cruel Republican repression. Angered by their inability to court the NASCAR dads they so thoroughly disdain, liberals urge us to embrace soccer, a sport whose rabid and often racist supporters make American fans look genteel by comparison. It is comical that they think that should we ever truly take the game seriously --committing our best athletes --the rest of the world would love us more. Forget George Bush creating terrorists, how about the U.S. winning the World Cup?

No, we will stick to baseball. It was famously said by historian Jacques Barzun that "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." This was true for many years and hopefully will be again, but not until we are rid of blights on the game like foul-mouthed White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and his ilk. Most baseball writers, at least those at the major dailies, are just as liberal as their political counterparts. Sports Illustrated gushed over the fact that after the Sox captured the World Series trophy, Guillen took it "back to his native Venezuela in a jet furnished by President Hugo Chavez." Hugo Chavez! Until very recently, these writers were enjoying a love affair with Guillen. His machismo and quotability were the toast of the baseball world. Why? His speech is vulgar and overflows with all the latest obscenities so loved by the intelligentsia; a kind of cuddly Latino Lenny Bruce. An example of his keen stylings so admired by the press, are the kind words he had for former teammate Magglio Ordonez:

He's a piece of (expletive). He's a (expletive), that's what he is. He's another Venezuelan (expletive). (Expletive) him. He has an enemy. Now he has a big one. He knows I can (expletive) him a lot of different ways. He better shut the (expletive) up and play for the Detroit Tigers.
But no matter; this crudity was of course viewed as part of the package liberals assume must accompany Latino immigrants to this country and so must be applauded. That is, until he brought it to bear against the unassailable. Speaking tenderly of Chicago sportswriter Jay Mariotti, with whose column he took exception, Guillen said, "What a piece of (expletive) he is, (expletive) fag." Gone was the air of impermeability that had shielded him from the poison pens of the politically correct, as he was damned with predictable outrage. Even the usually spineless Bud Selig weighed in with the following: "Baseball is a social institution with responsibility to set appropriate tone and example. Conduct or language that reflects otherwise will not be tolerated. The use of slurs embarrasses the individual, the club and the game." So Bud Lite is fine with the gansta rap behavior exhibited daily by many ballplayers and celebrated gleefully by ESPN. He's unconcerned with the soft porn ads of MLB sponsors which are shoved nightly down the throats of our children on TV. And he doesn't seem at all fazed by the reprehensible language that flows like a torrent from the mouths of Guillen and others in full public view: unless it's directed at homosexuals. As Mr. Barzun pointed out long ago, America's culture and baseball are deeply intertwined; the one has always influenced and reflected the other. If the drug-enhanced, egoistic, sex-driven, unsportsmanlike and utterly uncivil manner in which the game now conducts its affairs continues, then woe be to the great game of baseball and our good country. by Lisa Fabrizio in The American Spectator

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D'OH!!! Rob Neyer, your publisher called about those royalties...PROOF THAT JETER RANGES LEFT

Jeter shows range to his left in tonight's game against Atlanta, getting the out. But if you'd rather let someone make money by using Derek Jeter's name to bash him with secret research & you've got money to burn, fine. (Photo from NY Times/Europeon Press)

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Good for Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook deserves a lot of success (which he's experiencing tonight against the Angels)--he's gone through some life-threatening surgeries & has persevered in the thin air of Colorado. On Jan. 27 of this year he was interviewed on XM along with Geoff Jenkins & I wrote about it on this blog.

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3 points from XM today

  1. I thought Kevin Kennedy was going to cry when he said "you heard what Joe Torre said last week," the Yankees problems in making the playoffs will be due to the new closers for the Red Sox and the Blue Jays. So, Torre's words become 100% accurate if they can be used against Torre's own team or can prop up Kevin's favorite, the Red Sox? Of course, he & Dibs bow at the altar of how important the closer is EXCEPT IF THEY'D HAVE TO USE IT TO ACKNOWLEDGE MARIANO RIVERA.
  3. ESPN AND XM show hosts should all be required to label their words as OPINION OR COMMENT. Not fact. Most of these guys don't spend all their time studying the 30 baseball teams--they have other responsibilities. It's impossible for them to know everything about all teams. In addition, everyone has personal biases. Therefore, numerous times each day, disclaimers should be included identifying their words as their "opinion only." (Someone like Jeff Erickson is an exception--he does spend all his time on baseball information, from what I can tell).

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

4 Yankee Points From Tonight

  1. When Jim Kaat speaks, I listen. He said removing Jaret Wright after only 6 innings showed a lack of vision--ignored the particulars of this game while pursuing an inaccurate strategy, ie take Wright out no matter what.
  2. Did the Yankees get rid of all their scouts? Good, because they weren't doing the job anyway. They couldn't hit Horacio Ramirez because they hadn't seen him before, therefore the scouts failed in their job or there aren't any scouts.
  3. If everyone on the planet has known for ages about Farnsworth's speedy but flat pitches, why haven't the Yankees done something about it?
  4. Alex Rodriguez is another example of a physically talented athlete who lacks the required mental abilities for the job he now has. People shouldn't boo their own team, however, they're booing him because they paid too much to see him.

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Marty Brennaman on Bronson Arroyo with Charley Steiner

Marty relates Arroyo's explanation for his success with the Reds, which is, "the teams I played against before were better ball clubs and better line-ups." Brennaman notes the added difficulty for pitchers in the AL against the DH. But, Brennaman thinks Bronson should give himself more credit, & that he's also helped the other pitchers. Marty is also high on Reds' Brandon Phillips as an excellent defensive 2B, possibly even a future SS & also a good guy. Whatever problems he had in Cleveland don't seem to be happening now.

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Tremendous Steve Stone on with Charley Steiner

Steve mentions all-around ability of Joe Mauer not only as hitter but as catcher working with the Twins' pitchers. Adds that Mauer was actually a 'controversial' draft pick--seems the Twins got it right. Steve is the best guy I've ever heard on radio in knowledge of players & the game in general. He seems less inclined to bias & negativity which others resort to. In reading about him, I learned he was the Cubs broadcaster removed for being too forthright, but fans still love him. We need many more Steve Stones.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dan and Keith on ESPN Radio called Hurricanes owner Karmanos a scumbag & a douchebag---Raissman

Maybe there's something in the stale air of a sportstalk radio studio that makes talkies say things they probably wouldn't blurt out on a checkout line at the supermarket. Certainly not in front of their kids. Or their grandmother. This thought occurred again Tuesday while listening to Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann, on ESPN-1050, hammer Peter Karmanos Jr., who owns the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes. Among other things, Patrick and Olbermann cited what they considered Karmanos' shabby treatment of fans when the team was known as the Hartford Whalers. Karmanos purchased the Whale in 1994 and moved the team to North Carolina three years later. At one point in their critique, Patrick called Karmanos a "scumbag." Shortly after that tasteless reference, Olbermann called Karmanos a "douchebag."

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Fantasyland---why are so many men addicted to baseball on a computer?

'I barely recognized the names on my first fantasy baseball team. My pitching staff was anchored by stalwarts such as Brad Radke and Rick Reed. I muddled my way to a sixth-place finish that year, outmaneuvered by baseball-savvy league-mates. Despite my mediocre performance, the league was a blast. I met some new people and began to follow baseball again. But it was still just a simple hobby that took up little of my time. That began to change a few years ago when I read Michael Lewis' "Moneyball," a book about how the small-market Oakland A's manage to compete with the big boys by using statistical measures to discover undervalued talent. After that, I started reading anything I could find about baseball statistics. I became fascinated with the new ways young general managers such as Theo Epstein, Billy Beane, and Mark Shapiro were using advanced mathematical concepts to find baseball talent. I began naming my fantasy teams--note the plural; I am now in several leagues--"Billy Beane" out of respect. Fantasy baseball gives me and millions of other enthusiasts a chance to try our hand at a job nearly all of us will never hold--general manager. The Internet gives us access to every statistic that major-league players have ever put up.'

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Saturday, June 24, 2006


JP Ricciardi spoke with Mike Francesa on WFAN on Friday afternoon, Francesa saying how well BJ Ryan has been doing. Mike brings up the Red Sox and issue of having Papelbon as closer vs. starter. JP says how crucial it is to have an ace closer, no matter what else you have if you don't have the ace closer you won't win. Francesa says, "So if you had to choose between Curt Schilling or Papelbon, which would you choose?" and JP answers, "Well, I'd have to say Papelbon, because the closer is ultimately more important. IT'S BEEN THE REASON FOR THE YANKEES' SUCCESS ALL THESE YEARS." You'll only hear this acknowledgement of the true AL MVP year in and year out(Mariano Rivera) from AL managers and the best AL hitters--the ones who have a clue, as opposed to a bitter, uninformed, unsupervised politician in a writers' association WHICH MAINLY EXISTS FOR THE DESPERATE AND SOLE PURPOSE OF PERPETUATING ITSELF.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Sweet, but no mention of Marlins' $15 million payroll/$31 million in revenue sharing

Per Zimbalist, Marlins received $31m in revenue sharing last year, but cut payroll to $15.9 m But Lee Jenkins' NY Times story pours the Kool-Aid. No mention that the Yankee fan not only pays the Marlins' salaries, but also the limos et al. of the the rich moguls who own the team. He passes off another myth on the hackneyed idea of trading Dontrelle Willis-- "It's almost assumed when a big-market team needs something, a small-market team will give it up," said Michael Hill, the Marlins' assistant general manager. "That's not the case here. He's not for sale."
  • According to news reports, the opposite is true. NO ONE suggests the adding machines in smaller markets don't work. If anything, you always hear they drive harder bargains than everyone else. How do you think they got all the free millions from revenue sharing, luxury tax & stadium deals? By bilking larger market teams---who also have much higher living expenses, etc., but they never write about that.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rockies' Jack Corrigan with Charley Steiner--suggests MLB will 'humidify' balls for all teams

Jack Corrigan, radio voice of the Rockies, predicts 'moisturizing' of baseballs that now goes on in Colorado will be done in all ballparks. Says MLB determined in 2001 that ball could be up to 1/8" smaller & several ounces lighter, and
  • Ball's surface was tighter, pitchers couldn't grasp seams as well.
  • Last night (6/21) was the 22nd game in which the winning team scored 5 runs or less in Rockies ballpark.
  • The humidor has been in effect since 2003, but Rockies pitchers are better now, & the grass is a little higher in the infield and outfield.

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Jaret Wright continues to let you see the bullpen, NY Times

"Jaret Wright did not plan to watch the last four innings of Wednesday night's game on a couch in the Yankees' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. He would've preferred to stay in the game for seven innings, something he has not done all season. Four relievers followed Wright, each tossing a hitless, scoreless inning to complete a shutout relay. The Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-0, to capture a series victory and a split of their six-game trip. Ron Villone, Scott Proctor, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera throttled the Phillies, who had three singles against Wright. They advanced no runners past second base and struck out 11 times. Wright opened the fifth by throwing seven balls in a row, a stretch that included a visit from pitching coach Ron Guidry. Among the relievers, Wright singled out left-hander Villone, who has quietly had an outstanding season. Villone has a 1.80 earned run average but is not often used in close games. This time, he retired all three left-handers he faced in the sixth.

To Torre, Proctor always seems to be ready. He is tied for the A.L. lead in appearances, with 36, and allowed only a hit batter in his scoreless seventh." by Tyler Kepner, the NY Times

  • Torre continues to stick up for Wright which is great but what choice does he have?
  • P.S., Thanks again to the Nats for rolling over & playing dead for the Red Sox.

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The Nats were on such a high from killing the Yankees, they rolled over for the Red Sox

After the Nats' performance in the last 3 games, I feel differently about them--they used to be one of the 2nd group of teams I root for (and subsidize without credit or permission). I found Steve Lombardi's words described it quite well.
  • "In closing tonight, I would like to personally "thank" the Washington Nationals for rolling over to the Red Sox (for three straight) like a patient at the proctologist after playing the Yankees like it was the 7th game of the World Series for three days in a row. Everybody wants to beat the Yankees but nobody ever shows up against the Red Sox." Steve from his site waswatching.com.

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A day in the life of Melky, from sticks & stones

He began playing baseball at age 3 holding a stick & a rock, begging anyone who walked by to throw the rock so he could hit it. His car is still in Columbus, Ohio, so he gets rides from his friend Robinson Cano. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock & roll.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

MEMO to the Central Thought Police & other MLB & espn thought types---Please be advised, "MO SAVES YANKS."

Closes out Howard and Phillies

Mariano Rivera (l.) and Alex Rodriguez celebrate the Yankees' victory.
PHILADELPHIA - All Joe Torre wanted was a little peace on a night full of insanity.

Pitchers had been on a revolving door to the mound ever since Mike Mussina came out after five innings, and now that the Yankees finally had grabbed the lead, Torre wasn't taking any more chances.

It was the eighth inning? So what. Mariano Rivera trotted in from the bullpen and closed out a manic 9-7 victory over the Phillies last night in fitting fashion - he retired Ryan Howard, who'd already blasted two homers and a triple, on a weak ground ball to second for the final out of the game.

"Get him out," Rivera said when asked how he approached the ninth-inning showdown. "That's it. Just get him out. I ain't going to run. I want to face the guy, the best."

Howard certainly was that last night, driving in all of his team's runs. But he couldn't beat the Yanks on his own as eight Bombers recorded RBI to help the Yanks snap a three-game losing streak.

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(NY Times, 6/21/06): "There was every reason for the pitcher to fear the hitter. The hitter, Ryan Howard, had two home runs, which had traveled a total of 882 feet, and a triple. He had driven in all seven runs for the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • But the man on the mound was no ordinary pitcher. It was Mariano Rivera, who was winning World Series rings when Howard was still in high school. Rivera fears no one.

"Get him out," Rivera said. "That's it. Get him out. You have to win the game. I ain't going to run."

Working his second inning of a game the Yankees badly needed, Rivera took some quick advice from the pitching coach, Ron Guidry, who told him not to give Howard anything good to hit. Rivera buried a cutter on Howard,

  • who swung and tapped meekly to second to end the game.

The Yankees, who did not have a lead until the eighth inning, escaped with a 9-7 victory, with contributions from many corners....

  • The victory snapped a three-game losing streak.

"We needed a win any way we could get it," Derek Jeter said. "We played well, we battled back — we beat Howard. That's all you can do."

If history is a guide, the Yankees probably won the game when the bullpen door opened before the start of the eighth inning. Out came Arthur Rhodes, a pitcher the Yankees have thrashed for years.

  • Howard's two-run triple off Mike Myers in the seventh inning had just broken a 5-5 tie....

Rivera had not pitched since a loss Saturday, and Manager

  • Joe Torre bypassed Kyle Farnsworth, who threw 33 pitches Monday.

After using four others in relief of Mike Mussina, Torre chose to go with Rivera.

"It's not something I liked doing, but I thought the game was important, and we have an off-day Thursday," Torre said. "I took my chances."

  • "He wasn't supposed to swing," Jeter said, laughing. "I guess he wasn't going down like that."...

There was more important work ahead, and when David Dellucci flared* a two-out pinch-hit single to left with one on in the ninth, Howard came up as the potential winning run.

For Howard, it was certainly tougher than facing Mussina." From NY Times article by Tyler Kepner, "Howard Has 7 RBI, but Yankees Rally to Win," 6/21/06

It's nice to see Mariano getting some credit at the beginning of this story. The MLB/ESPN definers avoid giving Rivera the credit he deserves. Who's going to correct them? No one.
  • Even the YES network named a player from the other team as 'player of the game.'
*P.S. I also noted this: John Sterling wondered again why
  • Yankee outfielders stand so far out when Mo is pitching as he watched
  • 2 soft fly balls fall in for singles in the 9th inning.
I've heard John Sterling make this reference numerous times over the years. Sterling has seen every pitch Mariano Rivera has thrown--which means in both regular and post season. No one else I know of has done so although Suzyn Waldman comes close. So he speaks with authority on this subject.

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The guy who lives upstairs

I've never met the guy who lives in the apartment above mine, but I know he's a Yankee fan. I found this out in 2001 after game 7 of the world series. Mariano had thrown the ball into center field unintentionally, & I was too upset to watch any more. I turned off the tv and radio, and sat in the dark knowing the tragedy that would probably follow. After a few minutes in the dark silence, I heard a chair scraping the floor in the apartment above me. I said I bet this person was watching the game, and got up from his chair at its horrible conclusion. I turned on the radio, & found out it was so. Tonight, in 2006, Mariano was again carrying the burden for 2 innings.
  • John Sterling wondered again why Yankee outfielders stand so far out when Mo is pitching as he watched 2 soft fly balls fall in for singles in the 9th inning. With the way things have been going for the Yankees, plus again putting such a big burden on Mo, I said forget it, I can't watch this. (And I sure as heck wasn't going to watch Mariano taking an at bat--that should never happen).
  • So, Ryan Howard, THE WINNING RUN, comes to the plate against Rivera, already with 2 HR's & a 3B on the night. I turn off the tv and radio. About 15 seconds later, I hear the chair scrape across the wood floor in the apartment above me. I thought, oh God, Howard hit a 3 run home run on the first pitch.
  • But, I was wrong. The greatest late inning reliever in the history of baseball had gotten the 'player of the game' to hit an infield grounder....on the first pitch. (P.S. I'll note a special assist from Arthur Rhodes).
I got the nerve to watch Mo's at bat on the YES repeat, & it was classic. Michael Kay said it was MO'S FIRST REGULAR SEASON AT BAT IN HIS CAREER (he's had 3 post season at bats). It was quite funny, showing everyone laughing in the dugout, trying to find a helmet for Mo. Unfortunately, Mo didn't just stand there & take 3 pitches--he took big swings at a couple of them. When he finally struck out, his fans cheered his effort, and he smiled.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chase Utley--Power of Example...Lee Jenkins, NY Times

Compared with most major league contracts, filled with escalator clauses and incentive packages, Chase Utley's deal in the off-season was pretty basic. He did not need an agent to negotiate the terms. He did not need a lawyer to dissect the language. He needed only a clear conscience and a ballpoint pen.

The contract is 182 words, but it boils down to one sentence: "I pledge that I am not using any illegal or unethical performance-enhancing drugs."

Utley read and signed the document, without any haggling or soul-searching. "For me, it was no problem," he said last week in Philadelphia.. "It was no big deal."

Utley, the Phillies' lanky second baseman, was not trying to make a grand statement. He was just trying to go work out. Every off-season, when Utley enrolls at Athletes' Performance, a training center with branches in Southern California and Arizona, he has to sign the contract. Anyone who enrolls must do the same.

Considering how many baseball players have said that they do not take steroids — and how many have then been suspended for doing steroids — the pledge can seem hollow. After all, Athletes' Performance does not give drug tests and revokes a player's membership only if he is later exposed as an offender.

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Frank Robinson returns to Fenway Park--Dan Shaughnessy

Sweating, ever-stoic, now 70 years old, Frank Robinson took a tour around Fenway Park at 2 o’clock Monday afternoon.

He first came here in 1961 as a member of the National League All-Star team, and in 1966 — his Triple Crown/MVP season with the Orioles — he hit the first of his 49 homers on Opening Day at Fenway. Now manager of the Washington Nationals, and something of an American baseball monument, Robinson said he couldn’t remember the last time he was here.

Watching games on television in recent years, he noticed some of Fenway’s changes and had heard about all the money the new owners poured into the park, so he walked around to see for himself five hours before his team played the Red Sox Monday night.

"What’d they spend all the money on?" he said sarcastically as he clacked down the damp, dank tunnel that connects the visitors’ clubhouse with the dugout. It’s a creaky runway with standing water and chipped paint — something you’d see in a tenement building on "NYPD Blue." "I guess they spent all that money on the home team clubhouse. This looks the same as it looked 40 years ago."

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Why haven't ticket prices achieved parity?

Since baseball has achieved parity, why haven't ticket prices throughout baseball achieved parity? Why should a Yankee fan pay 5 times as much to see a team that has no better chance of winning than any other team? Where are the bloviators looking for equality now?

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With Rivera Resting, 9th Becomes Wang's to Lose--NY Times

  • NY Times, T. Kepner, 6/29/06
"In the left-field bullpen at R.F.K. Stadium late Sunday afternoon, the greatest closer in Yankees history began to stretch. It was the ninth inning, and the Yankees had a one-run lead. Mariano Rivera wanted the call.

Before the game, he had told the pitching coach, Ron Guidry, that he would be available. Scott Proctor warmed up, and so did Mike Myers. Not Rivera.

So he sat back down to watch Chien-Ming Wang try to complete a masterpiece in the broiling heat. As usual, Wang had induced ground balls at will, and he was one inning from a complete-game victory on a day the Yankees needed just that.

Rivera sat as Wang got a ground out. He sat as a pinch-hitter, Marlon Anderson, rolled a single to right. He sat as Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate determined to swing at the first pitch. Then his heart sank.

Zimmerman blasted that first pitch, a high sinker, through the thick air, over Rivera's head and off the concrete wall behind the Yankees' bullpen. It lifted the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 victory, their first to end with a home run since they moved from Montreal before last season.

Wang had pitched nobly and lost. But Rivera, who never pitched, blamed himself.

"It was my fault," he said. "I have to be there. Not him. I have to be there."

Guidry and Manager Joe Torre disagreed. They had used Rivera in the eighth inning in each of the past two games. Wang's pitch count was low enough. There is a long season ahead, and Rivera cannot pitch every day.

"Deep down inside, you know what kind of guy he is, and you know he would have pitched if we needed him," Guidry said. "But, you know, it's early. It's not panic time."

Wang accomplished plenty in defeat. He got 17 outs on grounders and allowed just six hits and two walks. After short outings by Jaret Wright and Shawn Chacon— who will be separated the next time through the rotation, Wang kept the bullpen fresh for the next series, in Philadelphia's cozy Citizens Bank Park.

But it was little consolation in the immediate aftermath. As Zimmerman bounced with his teammates at the plate, Wang tossed his glove to the floor of the dugout. Torre and Guidry consoled him, telling him they appreciated his effort.

"The only pitch he made bad all day was the one he got beat on," Guidry said. "That's the only one. And it's hard to walk off like that knowing you'd pitched your butt off and you got the loss."

Wang threw 96 pitches through eight innings; two starts ago, he threw 109 in seven. He did not seem bothered by the 89-degree heat, and the first two batters of the ninth put the ball on the ground.

Then came Zimmerman, who scored Washington's other run after a leadoff single in the fifth. In Zimmerman's previous at-bat, Wang jammed him on a high, inside pitch. This time, Zimmerman said, he guessed Wang would try the same pitch.

Wang said he was only trying to throw a sinker. But as soon as it left Wang's hand, catcher Jorge Posada said he knew it would be high.

"I was just hoping he didn't swing at it," Posada said.

If Zimmerman took it, Posada said, the pitch would have been a ball. But Zimmerman was ready.

"I was looking first pitch," he said. "A lot of this series, I took the first pitch. But the way he was going, if he was going to make a mistake, he'd make it early. I figured, why not look for a ball up and try to do some damage with it?"

So Zimmerman connected, spoiling the Yankees' chance for a victory on a day when they barely hit.

They struggled to solve the rookie left-hander Michael O'Connor, collecting just four hits and a run in seven innings. It was the latest example of the Yankees' chronic problem with pitchers they had never faced.

"They tend to give us some trouble," said Johnny Damon, who broke his bat twice and went 0 for 4 against O'Connor. "It seems like we would rather face Cy Young Award winners."

Gary Majewski took over in the eighth and gave up the lead. Alex Rodriguez, who homered Saturday, drilled a double to the gap in left center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Rodriguez clapped his hands three times at second as he watched Melky Cabrera slide in at home.

Rodriguez may have bottomed out Friday, when he struck out three times and pushed his June slump to 7 for 45. In morning sessions with the hitting coach, Don Mattingly, Rodriguez has tried to keep his weight back and refine his leg kick. In the past two days, he is 4 for 7 with two walks.

"It's a work in progress," Rodriguez said. "I don't think I'm quite back to where I want to be or where I need to be, but I'm definitely getting better."

His double stood to win the game, and the Yankees believed it should have. It was a shame, Posada said, for Wang to lose.

But that was the risk Torre took in giving Rivera a rest. It was June, not October. It was Washington, not Boston. It was Wang, not Rivera."We were in position to win a ballgame without Mo," Torre said. "We just didn't get away with it.""by Tyler Kepner, NY Times, 6/19/06

  • The Yankees continue having trouble against pitchers they haven't seen before. Which wouldn't be that big a deal, except there's been much discussed in the past few years about their scouting.
  • Get ready for Dibs and others to say how easy Joe Torre makes life for Rivera (Just the opposite-the Yankees have to win, can't afford to have a guy who just wants to win an individual award like the "regular season total save stat.") Rivera has been OVERUSED as usual--when I looked a few days ago he had the most IP's of the top 20 AL late inning relievers. He'd started in the 8th inning in both of the past 2 days, the 2nd day a day game after a night game. How many years did Dibs pitch a full season followed by 3 levels of post season competition? Did Dibs ever pitch after November 1st? Never, but Mariano Rivera has, with all the pressure in the world and next to no run support.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fox asking its TV guys to help pitch new MLB deal

"Speaking of the TV deal, Fox has enlisted some of its baseball voices to help seal a deal. A few of these broadcasters have been seen schmoozing with influential owners, hoping to convince them that MLB should continue its relationship with Fox. Of course, this puts these Fox announcers in a sticky situation. How exactly can they be critical of a team owned by a guy who they are lobbying? A variety of soothsayers believes MLB may have a new TV deal within the next couple of weeks. The way things have played out so far, don't hold your breath. That said, there is absolutely no doubt a faction at Fox is pushing hard to retain MLB rights, even if it means sharing the postseason with another network." by Bob Raismann, NY Daily News

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Raissman: This may be Jim Kaat's last season on YES

This could be Jim Kaat's last season in the Yankees' broadcast booth.

And if it is, the best thing to do is pay attention and realize what has made him so good for so many years.

Kaat's inclination to play it straight, and be definitive, is often in sharp contrast to other sounds coming out of the YES booth.

Like Wednesday night, when Jorge Posada began running his mouth after being plunked on the elbow by Jason Johnson in the sixth inning.

Without hesitating, Kaat said: "Jorge overreacted there. I can't imagine any reason why Johnson would want to hit him in a two-run game, a man on first and nobody out." NY Daily News
  • Kaat did a pre-game piece the other day & said how embarrassing it was to have to deliver his report in the midst of what was going on behind him. I'm not sure what he meant, but perhaps the batting practice show has gone awry or something. Anyway, he was quite angry.

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Link between death of Cardinals on KMOX & birth of booing at their new stadium

Does Cardinals' Switch to Smaller Station Signal Eclipse of Free Radio Broadcasts? By LARRY BOROWSKY (Viva El Birdos) Special to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL June 19, 2006 In April, in just the third game the St. Louis Cardinals played in their brand-new ballpark, they heard a strange sound drifting down from the stands. Booing. Aimed at the home team. St. Louis fans rarely boo the opposition, much less their own Cardinals. When the team got swept by the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series, nary a catcall was heard at Busch Stadium. Instead, the crowd stayed after Game 4 to cheer the vanquished Cardinals and honor the celebrating Red Sox. So why did these famously loyal fans turn on the Cardinals during their new park's opening week? "It seems like a greed element has taken over," says lifelong Cardinal fan Tom Murrell. "There's a different mood. The owners have made some decisions that it seems they wouldn't have made in the past." The Cardinals' new ballpark (the third to bear the Busch Stadium name) has brought spikes in the price of tickets, concessions, and parking -- unfortunate, but not terribly surprising. But Mr. Murrell says he's more upset about a different change of address: The Cardinals have moved down the radio dial from 50,000-watt KMOX, their flagship station since 1954, to 5,000-watt KTRS, whose signal sometimes barely reaches his home in Shiloh, Ill. -- all of 15 miles from Busch. "It's terribly irritating to lose that signal when we're so close," says Mr. Murrell, who says he's followed the Cardinals on radio since the early 1960s. "We're just right across the river." Few stations have ever been more closely identified with a team than KMOX was with the Cardinals. For more than half a century, "the mighty MOX" beamed Cardinal baseball throughout the Midwest, the Great Plains, and the Bible Belt, creating deep and long-lasting loyalties. Before the major leagues expanded into Texas, Colorado, Georgia and California, the Cardinals were the "home" team in those states -- and it was KMOX that made them so. But after losing money on a five-year deal that expired in 2005, KMOX offered a lower guarantee in renewal negotiations. KTRS, seeking to boost ratings in a market dominated by KMOX, wowed the Cardinals by offering the team a 50% ownership stake in the station. And so the Cardinals became the third team this decade to dump a longtime flagship station: The Detroit Tigers left flagship WJR three years ago, while the Philadelphia Phillies departed WPHT in 2001. Last month the Boston Red Sox sold their local radio rights for the next decade for an estimated $13 million a year, the largest such package ever sold. Under the terms of that deal, next season the majority of Red Sox games will move from hallowed WEEI to WKRO. All four organizations left clear-channel monoliths for lower-wattage stations, bringing in more revenue, but sacrificing reach. Why? "The flagship [radio] station is not as important to distribution as it was 20 to 30 years ago," says Cardinals president Mark Lamping. "If the only way our fans could follow the team was radio, we'd still be on KMOX. Knowing that there are alternative avenues of distribution was a very important consideration." Those alternatives include MLB.com's Gameday Audio, which is streamed over the Internet, and XM Radio, a satellite service that has carried all major-league games since 2005. The Cardinals encouraged fans who couldn't pull in KTRS's signal to migrate to one of those platforms, even offering free portable XM receivers (which retail for about $150) to fans who signed up for a six-month XM subscription. But there's a key difference between those technologies and traditional radio: You have to pay to hear the games. And that has some Cardinals fans wondering if the seemingly sacred bond between free radio and baseball -- bound up with the mythology of summer nights and transistor radios smuggled under the covers -- is fraying in favor of a pay-to-listen model. "I don't know anyone who has bought one of those subscriptions," says Mr. Murrell. "It isn't worth the monthly fee just to listen to Cardinal games. Besides, why should I pay for something that by all rights I should reasonably expect to get free?" That's the general feeling among fans who grew up spinning the dial on a transistor radio, pulling in crackly, far-away broadcasts from all over the country. But more and more people are willing to pay for play-by-play. When XM Radio inked its deal with major-league baseball in November 2004, it had 2.5 million subscribers; by Opening Day 2005 it had 3.7 million. XM now has nearly 6 million customers, and a survey commissioned by XM found that 23% of new subscribers signed up primarily to hear baseball. MLB.com, meanwhile, sold 800,000 radio and TV packages in 2004 alone. The new media, and the growing number of local TV broadcasts, are fragmenting baseball's audience. "Every local contract has now been greatly diluted," says David Pearlman, a former CBS Radio official who's the president of Lexington, Mass., media-consulting group Pearlman Advisors. That trend is driving away megastations like KMOX and drawing in "niche" stations like KTRS; if it continues, could it eventually drive baseball off the free airwaves entirely? "It is probably inevitable that baseball radio broadcasts will go to a 100% subscription model," says Larry Rosin, president of Somerville, N.J.-based Edison Media Research. "It might take five years, 10 years, 20 years -- but nothing can stop it. It will happen because there's too much money in it not to do it." From fans' point of view, that would be a familiar story: As recently as the early 1990s, "free" TV stations carried more than 80% of local broadcasts. Today, that share has dwindled to 23%; subscription-based cable services carry the rest. Seven major-league teams -- the Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers -- won't have any local broadcasts on free TV this season. Mr. Rosin, for one, believes radio could follow a similar trajectory. "Look at MLB Radio," he says. "It's already incredibly successful, even though the listeners are tied to their computers. Imagine how successful it's going to be when you can stream that audio to a mobile device that's a combination cellphone, satellite radio, iPod, and GPS tracker." To be sure, there are reasons to expect local radio will endure where free TV hasn't. The most basic is that local broadcast revenues are exempt from baseball's revenue-sharing system, while income from XM Radio and MLB Radio is split evenly among the 30 teams. That leaves the powerful large-market clubs heavily invested in the status quo: A subscription-based, equally shared model would undermine the advantage enjoyed by teams such as the New York Yankees, Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves, whose local radio rights are worth as much as $10 million more than those of poor cousins such as the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers. "In the era of revenue sharing, local broadcast rights are one of the last bastions of autonomy," Mr. Pearlman says. "This area goes straight to the bottom line. That has tremendous appeal for the large-market clubs." But nothing is forever in baseball economics; the Cardinals' Mr. Lamping, for one, won't rule out the possibility of an all-subscription radio future. "I think a lot of franchises would do that if they knew they could pursue that strategy without losing their audience and alienating their fans," he says. "It would probably have to happen in a large-enough market where you had such a huge fan base that you could lose a third of them and still fill your ballpark every night." Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media, thinks it's more likely that the new media will eventually achieve a rough balance with the old: "We will have millions of subscribers, and we will have our place, but the over-the-air broadcasts will always reach the majority of listeners." But if those over-the-air broadcasts are no longer on stations with the reach of KMOX, fans who live far enough from transmitters may be increasingly forced to pay for what they once got for free. That doesn't mean the end for the romance of baseball on the radio: Laptops and satellite-radio receivers can bring the sounds of baseball to the porch on a summer night as effectively as an old transistor set -- maybe even without the static. But as baseball's old radio signal grows fainter, a lot of fans may be left behind. "A lot of people out here," says Mr. Murrell, "feel like they're not in sync with the Cardinals anymore." Larry Borowsky writes about the Cardinals daily at Viva El Birdos, a blog on the SB Nation network. He lives in Denver and listens to Cardinal radio broadcasts over the Internet.

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When will Yankee fans care?

A large portion of the Yankee fan's hard earned dollar goes right into the pocket of other teams' owners, not to mention politicians, etc. But, the Yankee fan doesn't seem to mind being robbed & ridiculed. And they plan taking even more from you, meaning you'll continue to have an inadequate team on the field. Each day the lies & bias against Yankee players will continue on this station and the monopolistic espn. Who's getting the luxuries from the luxury tax? Everyone but the Yankee fan. Selig has been in charge since 1992--that's a long time--and he views the Yankee team & its fans as his personal bank account. Try to say 1 word about it & he & the rest will slap you back in your place with a few words. And you all shrink back like a scolded child & say NOTHING.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Does Arod ever listen to Don Mattingly?

AROD'S BATTING STANCE during an at-bat in Friday's game against the Nats. Seeing this picture & reading the following make me wonder: "Rodriguez is shifting forward in the batter's box, Mattingly said, instead of keeping his weight back. It's a common problem for slumping hitters. "He's not able to ride his back leg at all," Mattingly said. "We've got to get that back to where he can stay on that back leg and carry that weight. He's got to be gliding, not falling." (Reported by Tyler Kepner in the NY Times). I remember a year or 2 ago when Jim Kaat let it be known that Arod had his own personal preparation routine, which didn't necessarily include working with Don Mattingly or anyone else in particular. Arod was furious with Kaat when he heard this. However, shortly thereafter, the YES network took the trouble to put shots of Mattingly observing Arod in batting practice. I believe a memo also was issued from the team's owner saying that Mattingly should be coaching Arod's hitting. Arod bores me, but if he started listening to Don Mattingly he might become interesting. (photo by Reuters) Update--Looks like Arod heard the magic words & got results.

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