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Friday, August 04, 2006

Does Jim Baumbach carry water for the supposedly recessed Tampa faction?

On October 29, 2004, Jim Baumbach of Newsday, said Joe Torre would like Coach Mel to return, while the Tampa execs feel it might be time to ask Mel to step down. It'll be an interesting situation to monitor. (reported by nj.com)
  • Deja vu all over again? Now Baumbach surfaces in Newsday today with a long, meandering piece about someone taking credit for Chien-Ming Wang. That being, Billy Connors.
I thought everyone agreed the Connors & Co. interference from Tampa wasn't helping the team & it would be stopped.
  • But Baumbach has a personal agenda, wants to make some news. So he starts by saying how much the Yankees paid for Wang, & that Wang went with the Yanks because they offered more money. Baumbach must be desperate for more assignments from MLB or ESPN. So, he gets you to hate the Yankees in the first sentence.
  • Then, he proceeds in his article to pander to Billy Connors. Why?
And Jim is a hallowed writer, a guardian of our morals---the president of the BBWAA said that's what they do, guard our morals. Baumbach has put Connors in the limelight before referenced in the October 2004 Newsday article. At that time, the idea was to undermine the entire team effort, including of course Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre.

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7 Comments:

  • Funny comments. I laughed out loud at what you perceived to be my Tampa bias. But you should know this:

    -- John Cox, the scout who found Wang, told me Billy Connors taught Wang the sinker. I called Connors and he confirmed the story.

    -- I asked Brian Cashman about the negotiations to sign Wang. And he said exactly what I wrote, "we offered him the most money."

    Feel free to email me at jim.baumbach@newsday.com.

    Good day.

    By Anonymous Jim Baumbach, at 9:26 PM  

  • Thanks for your comment, Mr. Baumbach. I was quite surprised to hear from you, as I don't get too many comments.
    I appreciate your background work on the credit for Wang's pitch. What you say sounds very believable. Shortly after your article, of course, another article came out with Wang giving credit to someone else. Maybe Sal Fasano helped, maybe a dozen people helped. Billy Connors may be a great guy, but there's been enough written and reported about the problems he created in the management of the Yankee pitching
    staff over the past couple of years
    that anyone would hope to have heard the last of his input in that area. Why would such a column appear at all, especially of such great length, and at this moment in time? Yankee fans such as myself who know the background had nightmares seeing Connors emerging again and being showcased in your article. He symbolizes disharmony and conflict which no one wants the NY management to have to undergo again. It's unfortunate that Brian Cashman chose those words about signing Wang. Having them reported, however, allows others to hate and envy the Yankee organization, to focus on hating them rather than addressing their own problems, poor management, etc. It's never asked,
    what exactly has been done with the $100 million in revenue sharing and luxury tax the Yankee fan has given to other teams this year? Many Yankee fans can't afford to take their families to a game. I don't find it helpful to anyone to repeat the idea of Yankees having more money. There are owners with a great deal more money than Mr. Steinbrenner, but they choose to keep it for themselves. Anyway, thanks for your response. However, the topic is more sad than funny to me.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 1:39 AM  

  • Regarding your post, I understand your feelings about Billy Connors. It has been well documented about what kind of influence he has had in the organization, all of which is definitely true.

    Now I realize Wang credited Neil Allen and Sal Fasano. But remember this. Neil Allen is 100 percent Billy's guy in the organization. In my conversation with Billy, he also credited Allen.

    Now you questioned why that story would all of a sudden appear? Well, that day I decided I wanted to do the story about how Wang became a Yankee. And the first person I spoke with, the scout who signed him, told me about how Wang didn't throw a sinker back then. I found that incredibly interesting given how big that pitch is for him these days. Thus, I wanted to find out who taught him the pitch.

    And say what you want about Billy Connors' political agendas within the organization. I can't argue you there. But he does know pitching.

    By Anonymous Jim Baumbach, at 3:55 PM  

  • One other thing, you refer to my story as if it was centered on Billy Connors. If I remember correctly, I spent one paragraph about him, with a quote. That's it. It wasn't "such great length" as you wrote.

    By Anonymous Jim Baumbach, at 3:57 PM  

  • Thanks again for your comments, Jim. I understand your points. I have to see if I can find the original article, tho' I'll stand by that it was quite long--can't verify the # inches/paragraphs going directly to Billy. I'm sure you've seen other online sources on this subject like Steve Lombardi's waswatching.com--just saying he got the same idea (and a week or so later saw the NYT article about Neil Allen.)Steve had a piece of your article posted & I pasted it here). Following that is a bit from nj.com in Oct. 2005 referencing the Billy Connors/Neil Allen connection as you do, but by then their moment in the sun seems to have dimmed: (That's not the point of your remarks to me, just a point of interest. Office politics often prevent anything good from getting done).

    August 4, 2006, waswatching.com
    Connors To Thank For Worm Killer?

    From Newsday -

    "That Chien-Ming Wang has become a rock atop the Yankees' rotation is not surprising to team officials. That's what they paid about $2 million for in May 2000.

    But the way he's doing it - with a nasty sinker - could not have been predicted by any team official then.

    When the Yankees beat out the Braves and Rockies to sign him as an international free agent by offering Wang the most money, the sinker wasn't a part of his repertoire.

    They liked that his fastball was in the 90s and that he threw strikes and had great mound presence. But it wasn't until he was here for a full season that organizational pitching guru Billy Connors decided to teach him the sinker grip, saying yesterday during a telephone interview, "It was a natural because of the way he held the ball inside the stitches."

    The pitch didn't pay immediate dividends. Wang kept getting blisters on his fingers in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, prompting him to abandon the pitch periodically. He experienced mediocre results then, but he and the Yankees are enjoying the payoff now." (end of newsday entry)
    ---------------------------------
    from nj.com 10/05

    Pride of the Yankees
    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Offseason coaching carousel continues............
    Well, count Bullpen Coach Neil Allen and OF/1B coach Roy White as those departing the Yankee coaching staff. Ed Price correctly notes that Allen's departure adds to mounting evidence that the Yankee powershift is moving away from Tampa and back to the Bronx. Allen was a favorite of Boss George adviser and Tampa mainstay Billy Connors. Newsday agrees, saying that Connors has quickly fallen out of favor with the Boss. (end)

    Jim, the site also included links.
    Anyhow, I'm sure you knew all that,
    too. So, I was especially surprised
    when your article came out on 8/04,
    which I'm going to try to find.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 8:08 PM  

  • August 4, 2006 Friday
    ALL EDITIONS

    SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. A73

    LENGTH: 955 words

    HEADLINE: YANKEES INSIDER;
    Sinker puts Wang's career on the rise

    BYLINE: JIM BAUMBACH

    BODY:


    That Chien-Ming Wang has become a rock atop the Yankees' rotation is not surprising to team officials. That's what they paid about $2 million for in May 2000.

    But the way he's doing it - with a nasty sinker - could not have been predicted by any team official then.

    When the Yankees beat out the Braves and Rockies to sign him as an international free agent by offering Wang the most money, the sinker wasn't a part of his repertoire.

    They liked that his fastball was in the 90s and that he threw strikes and had great mound presence. But it wasn't until he was here for a full season that organizational pitching guru Billy Connors decided to teach him the sinker grip, saying yesterday during a telephone interview, "It was a natural because of the way he held the ball inside the stitches."

    The pitch didn't pay immediate dividends. Wang kept getting blisters on his fingers in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, prompting him to abandon the pitch periodically. He experienced mediocre results then, but he and the Yankees are enjoying the payoff now.

    Wang, who now has calluses on his fingers that allow him to throw his heavy sinker almost nonstop, has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings. He's relied on a pitch that typically reaches the mid-90s for an amazing rate of groundouts - 36 of the 54 outs during his scoreless streak have come via the ground ball.

    Wang (13-4, 3.58 ERA) leads the American League with 26 ground-ball double plays, and his 3.32 groundout-to-flyout ratio is .31 better than the next- best pitcher, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook. Since June 3, Wang is 8-2 with a save and a 2.41 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance.

    "Maybe 95 percent of the pitchers who come over the Pacific Rim, they all throw four-seam pitches," said John Cox, the Yankees' coordinator of Pacific Rim scouting. "Very seldom do you see any pitcher with sinking movement on their fastballs.

    "The pitching coaches and managers there are so adamant about throwing strikes, they are worried that if you have movement on your ball, you may not be able to control it."

    Not that control was a problem with Wang, even at the age of 19. Cox saw him pitch during a tournament in Taiwan and said, "He was a strike- thrower from the start."

    Wang was impressive the first time Cox saw him, but not necessarily top-dollar-worthy. But Cox saw something that intrigued him enough for him to stick around while several other scouts left for another tournament in Japan, a decision that paid great dividends.

    The next time Wang pitched, Cox said, two errors put runners on second and third with one out in a tight game.

    "It was maybe the first jam he was in, and all of a sudden that 89 fastball becomes 93, just like that, out of nowhere," Cox said. "His facial expression changed a bit and you could see determination, the focus. You could just feel it, that he had to get the job done."

    Wang got two straight strikeouts, and Cox was on the phone with senior vice president of player personnel Gordon Blakeley that night. A few days later, Blakeley was on a plane overseas ready to close the deal.

    But after Wang joined the Yankees' farm system, his rise was not smooth. He suffered a torn labrum that required surgery in his first spring training. He came back strong in 2002 but never had success until he was at Triple-A Columbus at the end of 2004.

    That was when the Yankees were quick to trade their prospects for major-league help, and GM Brian Cashman said yesterday, "There was a period where he could have been" traded. But he said few teams ever expressed interest. "I'm thankful for that," Cashman said.

    Wang had another scare last year but impressed team officials by returning in early September from a July shoulder injury that threatened to end his season. Now Wang, 26, is perhaps the Yankees' best pitcher, not to mention a full-fledged superstar in his homeland.

    The Taiwanese government, in an attempt to build national pride, produced a commercial featuring Wang in the back seat of a New York City cab.

    After Wang tells the driver he is from Taiwan, the driver asks, "Where is Taiwan? You want to show me where Taiwan is?"

    After a few clips of Wang starring on the mound - recording strikeouts, not ground balls - he says, "I will show you."

    Fortunately for the Yankees, they already knew.

    By Anonymous Jim Baumbach, at 3:35 PM  

  • Jim, many thanks for providing your entire article. You've said you thought to contact Connors as part of the interesting story of Wang. Aside from seeing Connors' name surface again, I probably was surprised to see Connors referred to as "organizational pitching guru," without a qualifier such as "former" or "one-time," etc. Anyhow, thanks for your time in providing all the details about the post I wrote about you (which much to my surprise you read).

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 11:58 PM  

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