Monday, October 30, 2006

Little known facts from 2006 achievements:

# Games in which late inning relief pitcher pitched more than 1 inning and/or entered the game with at least 1 man on base and contributed more than .1 in the outing (2006 Regular Season):
  • Mariano Rivera: 19 games
  • Trevor Hoffman: 0 games
The "closer" is meant to end the game, to get the most difficult outs.
  • Mariano Rivera: GF(59)/G(63)=94%
  • Trevor Hoffman: GF(50)/G(65)=77%
HR's/IP continue to reflect career averages for the above:
  • Mariano Rivera: 1 HR/25 IP (3 HR over 75 IP)
  • Trevor Hoffman: 1 HR/10.5 IP (6 HR over 63 IP)
You'll see various studies on "saves" or "how hard did the pitcher have to work for the save." But I've seen no studies on how the "save" has been manipulated to create more entertainment value for the fan and more money for the team and player (although it was mentioned by Sandy Alderson). Rather than the actual amount of work and results achieved by the late inning reliever. I'll have more on this subject.
  • P.S. ESPN, Fox, MLB and their financial hangers-on won't tell you any of this. The point is these are both good pitchers, but they are not similar and are used very differently.

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On Mellencamp's Chevy ad, DellaFemina says: "all you get is a lousy Chevy truck”

“The message seems to be, ‘If you don’t buy our truck, we will go bankrupt,’ ” said Al Ries of Ries & Ries, a brand consultancy. “The kind of people who buy trucks are not going to buy them because a company is in trouble. People like to buy from winners.”

Jerry Della Femina, who runs an ad agency in New York, says he believes the spot is something of a new low.

“You see all these moving images and at the end of it, all you get is a lousy Chevy truck,” he said. Mr. Della Femina called the ad “manipulative” and said it suggested that G.M. was “somehow coming up from the depths.”

  • And now we have Mr. Mellencamp, who’s done some rebranding of his own, having dropped the “Cougar” from his name back when his image needed a folksy turn. His political values seem equally elastic. He and his spouse once wrote a jeremiad against the Bush administration that said, in part: “It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas, corporate greed and overall manipulation.”
That was in 2003. Now he’s sitting on the fender of a Chevy truck, strumming a guitar and singing, “Well, I can stand beside ideals I think are right, and I can stand beside the idea to stand and fight.” He can also stand beside a nice shiny truck, if the fee is right.

When it comes to selling bars, trucks or even politicians, you can wave the flag or you can drape one over a coffin. You can’t do both."

From NY Times article by David Carr, 10/30/06 It did seem a little confusing.

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"With the new collective-bargaining agreement in place, calls are being made for Bud Selig to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame."
  • I love the device, "calls are being made..." very passive, usual way for media types to put forth an agenda. Who's making what calls?
  • Selig already has the most powerful media machine in the world, but there are fewer kids playing baseball.
  • What are the motives of the Newsday reporter here, Ken Davidoff, for joining the brigade of sycophants? Has he analyzed the latest labor agreement? Is he looking to be in the writers' wing of the Baseball HOF himself? Returning to his article:
"This space will sign off on that, on one condition: It's time, once and for all, for Selig to take accountability for the steroids era. Selig's accomplishments are too numerous to list here. His batting average on innovations exceeds Ty Cobb's (.367) at the plate. But the record book was forever tainted on his watch, and all it takes is a simple "the buck stops here." Just "this happened on my watch, and therefore it belongs on my record, along with the myriad positives." Come on, Bud. People will think even more highly of you when you say it."
  • Please, Mr. Davidoff. Folks, things are much worse than I thought.
Statements from Ken Davidoff's Newsday column, 10/29/06

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Tim Russert, a Baseball Hall of Fame Director since 2003, also devoted to football

"A devoted football fan, Russert says his goal is to be the John Madden of politics. "He takes a complicated game of football and makes it meaningful and understandable to a casual fan. That's what I try to do with politics and political debate." from the Baltimore Sun, 10/30/06 article by Stephen Kiehl.

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Is MLB.com violating polling place ethics to influence an election?

Usually at polling places, pictures or posters of candidates, ie campaign material, are required to remain 100 yards or so from the voting booths. The idea is the voting venue itself is supposed to be level ground, no candidate should be endorsed over another.
  • For the past few hours, the link to vote for a new TYIB recipient got you to a page that advertised one particular candidate for the award, with a caption meant to sell the player to the voter.
The linked article shows only 1 guy, the MLB/government/entrenched money guys' choice.
  • Interestingly, MLB.com has just now added another way to click through to vote on this award that takes you to the voting page, bypassing the publicity page for the 1 candidate. But, if you click on the MLB article about the award, you'll still get the photo of their favorite candidate.
  • The author of the article is listed as a fantasy baseball writer who also writes for MLB blogs. As customary, the disclaimer at the end of the article says "this story not subject to the approval of MLB or its clubs." So, anyone can write whatever they want in these columns. The writer's background/prejudice should always be a factor in these things, so I looked up where he's from. Boston.
  • Some might say oh what difference does it make, but how do you know that? Real voting venues do not allow 1 candidate to campaign or advertise on the front door. In this case, many voters will have been influenced.
When I visited, the last voting page showed all the candidates, with one photo larger than the others. The caption explained that player had been the winner from last year and the year before. PS. Every award, even a modest one, can mean dollars to a player and a team.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Baseball's backroom politicians don't want you to know...

HOMERUNS AGAINST *3* 800+IP LATE INNING RELIEVERS ************************************************************* MARIANO RIVERA 927.1IP 36HR 1/25.73 IP
TREVOR HOFFMAN 898.1IP 82HR 1/10.95 IP
DENNIS ECKERSLEY 820.1IP 82HR 1/10 IP __________________________________________________________ A significant sample size shows Mariano Rivera has a better chance of keeping the ball in the park by over a 2-1 margin over Hoffman and Eckersley.
  • A late inning reliever can'’t give up homeruns---if a team wants to win the game.
*Source for statistics: Retrosheet.org
  • Mariano Rivera stats: Seasons as reliever: Regular season, 1996 through 2006, Post season, 1995 through 2006.
  • Trevor Hoffman stats: Seasons as reliever: Regular season, 1993 through 2006, Post season, 1996, 1998, 2005, (not including HR given up in the 1998 All Star game.)
  • Dennis Eckersley stats: Seasons as reliever: Regular season, 1987 through 1998, Post season, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998.
  • Information from Retrosheet.org is copyright and free of charge.
P.S. Name calling, spam, etc.--the usual thing done in politics--may result from the kind of information in this post. However, please remember. Responses not emanating from a correctional facility are mostly from persons with financial interests. I'm not a sportswriter, never want to be one, am not writing a book, don't want to work for a team or anyone with any financial interest whatsoever with MLB, ESPN, Fox, Baseball Prospectus, or any media organization. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Mike Lupica--Brian Cashman's in charge, & his guys are Torre, Mattingly, Mussina

In Lupica's column today he tries to make a little joke about lack of Yankee personnel moves in the wake of recent losses:

"But at least the Yankees are addressing their problems in a bold manner:

Since the Tigers, a team that lost to the Cardinals in five games, beat them, the Yankees have fired their P.R. man and bench coach, Lee Mazzilli." Lupica forgets the letting go of 2 longtime scouts with no replacements named. This is a very important area, one that needed attention so a noteworthy personnel change.

  • It wasn't Mazzilli's fault, of course. But with the massive coordination that must go on with all facets of the Yankee business, and in what I've documented as acute neglect in important aspects of the YES Network/Yankee link, the PR/Media guy would be 1 of several changes that might help.
And on the Piniella situation, Lupica says:

"This is Cashman's show now. Why isn't Lou Piniella the Yankee manager right now? Because Cashman didn't want him, that's why. He didn't want Piniella now because he wants his guy, Mattingly, later. Torre didn't save his job by calling Steinbrenner. Derek Jeter didn't do it. Cashman did.

Cashman never saw Willie Randolph as Torre's successor, and that was after Randolph was Torre's bench coach. But the G.M. is clearly sweet on Mattingly. He gets the (hot) seat next to Torre, after three seasons as a batting coach.

But Brian Cashman wanted the manager to stay on another year. Jeter - duh - wanted the only manager he's ever had to stay on another year. We see again how much power Cashman has in the new world order of the Yankees. Randy Levine, team president and stadium-getter, doesn't like it, but can't do anything about it, at least for the time being."

  • Lupica also notes if Cashman has his way, Mike Mussina will be back. There's only 1 good scenario for Mussina, and it would have to be cheap: AS A MIDDLE RELIEVER. ONE OF HIS 3 MOST VALUABLE OUTINGS FOR THE TEAM WAS HIS RELIEF APPEARANCE IN GAME 7 OF THE 2003 ALCS (which ended up going 11 innings, Mariano Rivera going 3 consecutive scoreless innings in a tie game for the Win). The Yankees were behind and doing nothing at all against Pedro (with the exception of Giambi), and Mussina came in with runners on 1st and 3rd & was able to keep anyone from scoring. He actually smiled and looked happy about his outing after the game. He never gives you a lot of innings as a starter anyway, and heck the system can work that way, the Mets showed it can work.
Items from Mike Lupica's NY Daily News column, 10/29/06

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peeks at GM Fountain in CF at Comerica= $1.5 million--GM

This year, Chevrolet's partnership with Fox and Major League Baseball has proved extraordinarily successful because of the success of the Tigers, whose home field of Comerica Park is located mere blocks from GM's world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
  • Fox, either by design or inadvertently, has shown numerous images of various Chevrolet and GM logos in the city. The General Motors Fountain in center field of Comerica has been worth $1.5 million in exposure for the GM brand, Joyce Julius said."The deeper the Tigers go in the postseason, the better it is for us," Caruso said. "It definitely gives us that added opportunity."
The success of the Tigers follows the city's hosting of the Super Bowl last February, as well as the 2004 Ryder Cup, 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and recent championships by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA and Detroit Shock of the WNBA. The result has been tons of added exposure for General Motors, with much of it requiring little additional investment from the company. Washington Times, 10/28/06

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Johnny Bench comments on the pine tar issue

'"Everyone says, 'What was it?' There's no mystery at all. There isn't an umpire who didn't immediately know that was pine tar on Kenny's hand."
  • He played for the Cincinnati Reds for 17 seasons, hit 389 home runs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 as one of the greatest catchers ever.

Like a lot of former major leaguers, he wasn't surprised to see pine tar on a pitcher's hand.

"Guys do things like that, trying to get an edge," Bench said. "When I played, there was a rag with pine tar that hitters used in the on-deck circle. Between innings, the batboy would bring it into the dugout and the pitcher would go over and rub it. Just trying to grip the ball better. They have to do something now, especially when it's cold.

  • The seams are lower than they used to be."

It's a violation of rule 8:02 (a)(4), which stipulates a pitcher "may not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." Rule 8:02 (a)(2-6) calls for an immediate ejection when a pitcher is caught.

  • But the rule is routinely broken, Bench said, which is probably why St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't press to have Rogers ejected after the Detroit Tigers' pitcher was caught with a smudge in the first inning of Game 2. The umpires just asked him to wash it off.

"There's a real good chance some of his guys probably do it," Bench said of La Russa. "Anytime you see real good curveball pitchers like the Cardinals have, chances are they probably have a little bit" of pine tar.

Not that Bench would have complained about the ejection of Rogers, whom he says he knows and likes.

"He claimed it was dirt, which isn't a foreign substance. But come on," Bench said. "He was just so blatant about it. Why didn't he just set off a flare calling attention to it? It was that obvious. I mean, I know he is getting old, but it's like he put it on and just forgot to wipe it off. I'm going to kid Kenny about that."

Bench acknowledged that he would be more upset if Rogers' offense ranked higher on his personal list of baseball subversions.

"It's not cheating. Very few guys really cheat," Bench said. "Cheating is putting Vaseline on the ball. That makes it go absolutely crazy. That's unhittable. That's not a level playing field. Cheating is putting cork in your bat. Cheating is stealing signs from second base. That's not acceptable. And of course, using steroids is cheating."

The latter is a sore subject for Bench, as it is for many former players who dislike seeing their records challenged by players suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs.' From John Eisenberg's column in the Baltimore Sun, 10/28/06

  • (Interesting about the seams on the baseball being lower. If you want to identify "eras," do we now add points to today's pitchers for using a ball that's harder to grip?)sm

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Cool Stove with Delgado

Carlos Delgado is seeking concessions from the Mets for his not demanding a trade as he was dealt from Florida in the middle of a multi-year contract.
  • Under the new labor agreement, he would lose this privilege, as would all other players in similar situations.
Reported by Phil Rogers in today's Chicago Tribune

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Jim Leyritz: Arod must go

Jim Leyritz interviewed on XM by Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez, asked by Patrick if he thinks Arod will ever get acceptance in New York. Leyritz replies approximately:
  • I don't think it's going to work out for Alex in New York. You can say it's similar to the Kenny Rogers experience--Rogers just didn't do well in New York, and things worked out fine for him elsewhere. So, Alex shouldn't stay here just to stay here. The situation you saw at the end of the season with Joe Torre and the situation with Jeter, I don't think it can ever work out for Alex. Hitting a lot of homeruns won't matter in the regular season. It will only matter if he does it in the post season, but even then I don't think it would work out. His post season batting average as a non-Yankee is 320, but much lower as a Yankee. I think it's best for all concerned if they go their separate ways.
I heard a replay of the interview being run in a continuous loop on the XM mlb channels after the end of the World Series. I assume the original interview took place either Friday, October 27 or sometime within the week.
  • (Jim Leyritz has a regular shift on MLB radio but is better known to Yankee fans for his super-clutch game-winning homeruns in the post season.)

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Ken Davidoff spoke to other GM's: "The Yankees will almost certainly exercise that option in order to receive a return on Sheffield. And two opposing general managers, speaking on condition of anonymity, believe that is the right move. "His history is his history," the first general manager said of Sheffield. "I don't see him walking away from $13 million." Another general manager said his club is "aware of the issues" surrounding Sheffield, but he expects clubs to be interested nonetheless.
  • Assuming they exercise the option, the Yankees will trade Sheffield out of the American League East, and they won't consider the Mets, either, as a landing point. Potential suitors for Sheffield include the Cubs, Houston, the Dodgers, Philadelphia and San Francisco in the National League and the White Sox, Detroit, Seattle and Texas in the American League.
The team has to decide on Sheffield's option by Nov. 5 or five days after the conclusion of the World Series, whichever comes first." from Ken Davidoff's Newsday article, 10/27/06

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Friday, October 27, 2006


Wednesday's press conference in St. Louis featured Bud Selig, Hank Aaron, Ryan Howard and Derek Jeter on the dais. The floor was open for questions:
  • "The first came from Ronald Blum, an Associated Press reporter. He wanted to know if Jeter had influenced George Steinbrenner'’s decision to retain Manager Joe Torre. Jeter demurred, the question-and-answer session abruptly ended, and Selig was furious.

As Jeter met later with a small group of reporters, Selig walked by, shook his head and scolded Blum for his question. Yet Selig should not have been surprised. The Yankees are the team that knows no off-season. In some ways, their absence from the World Series only heightens the drama of their story line."

From Tyler Kepner's column, NY Times, 10/28/06

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Padres looking for fresh face open to using computer data

Although Kevin Towers wouldn't reveal any names on Friday, it's believed a leading candidate is Angels pitching coach Bud Black, who was a teammate of Tony Gwynn's at San Diego State and lives in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe just north of San Diego. Black also interviewed for the job Bochy got with the Giants. The 49-year-old Black appears to fit the qualities the Padres are looking for in a manager. He's also a candidate for the Oakland Athletics' job.
  • Towers said he has a list of seven to eight candidates, none of whom are former big league managers. That would exclude Padres coaches Tony Muser and Glenn Hoffman.
"As of right now, they're all fresh faces," Towers said.

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Low ratings? Report: Fox not promoting the World Series as it could

By not promoting the World Series as much as it has in the past,...Fox has not fully leveraged any of its other television properties (Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Net, etc.) to promote the World Series. The Foxies have promoted their upcoming BCS coverage more than their postseason baseball package.

So maybe, just maybe, in January, when the Foxies air these college bowl games, they will use them to promote baseball. (When it's too late).

  • (And on the wisdom of Fox renewing it's deal with MLB:)
When Mr. Selig talks about how "popular" the game is, he may not be taking the TV ratings into account because he's feeling giddy about MLB's bank account. Here's why. In July, three months before baseball's postseason began and before baseball's TV deal expired,
  • Selig & Co. cashed in on a new seven-year TV contract with Fox worth about $2.1 billion. Now, Selig can look forward to counting the new-deal dough even if the 2006 World Series hits an all-time low.

Considering baseball's 2006 postseason ratings on Fox are down across the board, perhaps the Foxies should have waited until after the World Series to complete a deal, when they might have had a chance to purchase MLB's TV package at a cheaper price.

  • As stated here before, it is totally confounding how MLB could seduce any network into agreeing to a contract extension before the current deal expired. The only league this makes sense for is the NFL, for which the possibility always exists that a nonincumbent network will try to bid on a TV package.
From Bob Raissman's NY Daily News column, 10/27/06

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Trying to be optimistic

Verlander, a certain Rookie of the Year (I guess the vote is rigged if he knows the results before they've been tabulated) after a 17-9 season, has been leaking oil in October.
  • He hasn't pitched past the sixth inning in any of his three starts,
  • with his runs allowed increasing from 3 against the Yankees
  • to 4 against Oakland
  • and 7 against the Cardinals.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune notes the above, trying to be optimistic.

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Change in new CBA every fan can relate to---players' trade demands

  • This is a change every baseball fan can relate to:
"A player traded in the middle of multiyear contracts, effective with new such contracts, can no longer demand a trade if he's traded in the middle of that contract." This is mentioned by Ken Davidoff in his Newsday column today. Gone will be hours of speculation on situations like Carlos Delgado's. He's currently able to demand a trade but under the new agreement with new contracts, wouldn't be able to do so.
  • Another recent example is Javier Vazquez, who asked for and received a trade from the Diamondbacks to the White Sox.

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New York beats USA again in World Series ratings, Game 4

TV ratings from Nielsen for World Series game 4 (Tigers @ Cardinals):
  • National: 11.5
  • New York metro: 11.8
Ratings have decreased from prior years, but this shows again New York has more baseball fans. Just announced on WFAN with Mike and Chris. (They didn't mention NY beating USA, just gave the numbers. I made the interpretation, not Mike and Chris).

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With a $70 million luxury tax surplus, $12 million going to players for "grievances"

Some grievances reported to be collusion charges from 2002, which the MLB suit says were mentioned without saying they were formally acknowledged (at this time).
  • The Yankee fan contributed $34 million this year in luxury tax, so now they know 1 of the ways in which their hard-earned dollars went flying out the door.
From today's NY Daily News, Bill Madden:
  • MLB executive VP of Labor Relations Rob Manfred last night made a clarification regarding Wednesday's exclusive Daily News report that an element of the new Basic Agreement between the owners and players contained a payoff to the union for collusion practices by the owners in the 2002 free agent period. It was reported by The News that some $12 million was paid out to the union from the $70 million luxury-tax surplus to settle 50 grievances. In fact, said Manfred, it was 45 grievances, and while none of them pertained to the collusion charges raised by several player agents with the union, Manfred acknowledged those charges. "Essentially," he said, "we gave them a payment to settle all the grievances and waive the others (collusion) that were never formally filed. I don't know how many there were, but they can divvy up the money as they see fit."

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Mariano Rivera wants Arod to stay--NY Post

Article in today's NY Post.

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Kevin Long named new hitting coach for Yankees

Promoted from team's minor league coaching staff.

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NJ Nets seek services of Mo

All-Star closer, all-time postseason ERA leader... all-world motivational speaker?

Mariano Rivera made a pitch of a different sort yesterday. At the Nets' request, the Yankees star stopped by Jersey's morning shootaround to speak to the team.

  • "In our humble opinion, we think he's the greatest relief pitcher in history, but yet he's such a humble human being," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said before last night's 109-107 preseason victory over the Celtics. "All he talked about was team. He had some great, great nuggets and a message for our guys. It was great that he was willing to share his time."

Rivera didn't speak to reporters, but he talked to the Nets about commitment and staying on top. Although the Nets have a ways to go to match the Bombers' 26 championships, they've won four of the last five Atlantic Division titles and have become a fixture in the playoffs.

"We talk about being able to achieve great things, but you like to talk to people in other venues - whether it be sports, business or society - who've achieved great things, yet have such a humble demeanor about them," Frank said.

  • "When someone like Mariano Rivera comes in and all he talks about is team, and he's the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the game, that says a lot about his character."

Report by Darren Everson, NY Daily News, 10/25/06

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3 likely candidates to replace Mattingly---Raines, Davis, Chambliss

"Among the likely candidates to replace Mattingly as hitting coach include former Yankees Tim Raines, Chili Davis and Chris Chambliss. The Yankees fired Chambliss as their hitting coach after the 2000 season, but that decision came from their Tampa faction. Cashman, who runs the team's baseball operations wing these days, has always been a supporter of Chambliss, who recently was fired as Reds hitting coach. Raines, recently fired as White Sox bench coach, has always been well regarded by the Yankees and is a favorite of Derek Jeter. Davis has not worked full-time in baseball since he retired as a player after the 1999 season but has maintained a positive relationship with the Yankees." from Newsday article by Jim Baumbach & Ken Davidoff 10/27/06

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Diary of Joel Zumaya's night, 10/27/06, NY Times

"With the score tied, 4-4, Yadier Molina led off the inning with a walk against Joel Zumaya. A soft grounder by Aaron Miles forced Molina at second, and Miles advanced on a wild pitch as Juan Encarnacion struck out. That brought Eckstein to the plate with two outs.

  • Zumaya was struggling with the strike zone of the plate umpire, Mike Winters.

  • "I wasn'’t adjusting to the strike zone, so I had to adjust somehow and throw it right down the middle,"” Zumaya said. "“You can'’t go out there and throw a tantrum. You've got to adjust quick. If you don'’t, things are going to turn out like they did tonight."

On a 3-1 pitch from Zumaya, Eckstein drove a liner to the gap in left center. Monroe was playing shallow against Eckstein, who had only two home runs this season. With a runner at second, it was probably the smart move, because it gave Monroe a better chance to make a strong throw on a play at the plate.

"As he watched his ball carry and the angle Monroe took for it, Eckstein said, he thought of his old Angels teammate, Darin Erstad, who once made a spectacular catch at Yankee Stadium on the same kind of hit. Monroe dove, but his glove could only graze the ball and Miles raced in with the go-ahead run.

  • In each of the first three games, a Tigers pitcher had made an error. No pitching staff had ever committed four errors in one World Series, but the Tigers made dubious history when Rodney lobbed his throw over the head of Placido Polanco, who was covering the first-base bag.

    Rodney said he threw lightly because he was so close to Polanco. "“I don'’t try to throw too hard, because it came close to him," he said."

from Tyler Kepner's article, NY Times, 10/27/06
  • (I heard a pundit Thursday say the outfield wouldn't be slippery in St. Louis even with all the rain, because he was sure it had such great drainage. He might want to revisit that opinion. sm)

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Jeff Suppan's locker is described by the N.Y. Times, 10/27/06

"Suppan, who visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2005, has a locker in the corner of the clubhouse that displays a small statue of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus near a small chain of beads and a tiny crucifix that hang from a hook.

After the game, he refused to discuss his decision to speak out in the commercial.

"“I'’m going to reserve comment,"” Suppan said. "I'’m just going to talk about the game."”

Suppan said there were "“a lot of distractions out there."” He was not specific, but he seemed to be discussing baseball distractions.

"“I wasn'’t fully in command of all my pitches," Suppan said. "“I was trying to change speeds, keep them off balance, and stay in there as long as I could."”

  • Suppan'’s appearance in a charged political campaign was unusual for an athlete playing for the championship of his sport, but it was done with his consent.

    A spokesman for the group that produced the ad said Suppan had taped his statement himself recently and told members of the group to come to his home two days ago to pick it up and insert it into the ad. The time to broadcast the ad was purchased specifically for the Series game in which Suppan would pitch.

    Also appearing in the ad were quarterback Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals."

From NY Times article by Joe LaPointe, 10/27/06
  • I'm against media members being allowed in athletes' dressing rooms. There's no reason for it. I don't appreciate the NY Times' angle anyway, but in this case I'm relaying it. If they can pick and choose inferences from a player's personal effects and beliefs, I need to know how they're doing it. In this case, of course, Mr. Suppan knows that anything in his locker is open for public scrutiny. sm

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Crediting the San Jose Mercury News for the story, the Baseball Tonight guys just made this announcement. Dusty Baker, part of the group tonight, says he's very high on Bochy and sure he'll do a great job. John Kruk says it looks like the Padres really wanted Bochy out of there. He'd been there many years, is well-liked, and will no doubt do a great job for the Giants.

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Most championship teams are now bringing in their best closer in the 8th inning--the Mariano Effect

Kevin Kennedy was forced to note Tony LaRussa brought in his closer Adam Wainwright in the 8th inning tonight. This exemplifies the reality that Mariano Rivera has changed the concept of the "1-inning closer" over the past several years. Kennedy didn't mention Mariano and would rather drink a gallon of Drano before doing so, but that's the reality.
  • Media propagandists wishing to further their career at ESPN, etc., have continued over the past few years to try and keep the notion of all closers as 1 inning performers, and on very rare occasions where they mention Rivera, it's faintly. And they never include his dramatic multi-inning post season performances. At best, they'll say he had "opportunities." (Even though this is easily refutable, most people won't take the time to do so. They also do it for a personal allegiance they have).
  • There are many meaningful games into which most teams who want to win are now calling in their closer for more than 1 inning. If it's not a big deal, why is it that at least 1 team never does this no matter how dire the situation, meaning you need an entire other human being to get through the game? Teams who've changed to the Mariano method include the Blue Jays, the Red Sox, the Angels, the Mets, & the Cardinals. There are others as well, but these are the most obvious.

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Graduated in 2000 from Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga...was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Georgia in 2000, when he was also an All-State selection in football...as a football player, was named All-State as a place kicker and All-Region as a wide receiver in 1999...was a first-round selection
Read More » From his MLB bio page
Fantasy Comparison:
Randy Johnson 1919
Johan Santana 1906
Eric Gagne 1896.5
Mariano Rivera 1777

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Reported by Jim Baumbach and Ken Davidoff of Newsday, via sources 'with knowledge.' It has not yet been confirmed by Brian Cashman who's been meeting with scouts for the past 2 days. There have been other reports that Mazzilli might not be returning.

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Body of missing Devil Rays' minor league pitcher found

The body of Erik Walker has unfortunately been found following a canoeing accident in Virginia. His companion reached shore safely.

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Sheffield's option has not yet been picked up---Newsday

Contrary to a report in USA Today, Jim Baumbach of Newsday states the Yankees haven't yet taken that step. Their intention is to do so but they haven't reached a final decision (as of 12:04PM ET today).

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Did Stan Musial refuse to throw a first pitch to Joe Garagiola?

Reporting on ceremonial first pitches today, Joel Sherman says:
  • "The only reason Stan Musial has not been involved on the field is that he is 86 years old and the weather has been horrible."
But, Mike and Chris earlier today (on WFAN) made reference to Stan Musial's refusal to throw a first pitch to Joe Garagiola. Mike said they could've gotten Musial out onto the field even if he were in poor health if he'd wanted to throw a first pitch. They said nothing further on the subject, so I've spent awhile trying to find out more about this with no luck so far. I don't know if they were referring to a ceremonial appearance this year or an earlier year. Was Musial approached to do it this year and offered no one other than Garagiola to catch? Sherman's NY Post article today about first pitches in St. Louis only says:
  • "Major League Baseball has to approve those who throw first pitches." and
  • "Bruce Sutter was expected to throw out the first pitch last night, before World Series Game 4 was called due to rain, joining other St. Louis luminaries from the past who have thrown out first pitches this postseason - Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Whitey Herzog, Red Schoendienst, Mike Shannon and even Ozzie Smith, who has been openly feuding with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa for years. The only reason Stan Musial has not been involved on the field is that he is 86 years old and the weather has been horrible."
YES! Update: It's true, according to the NY Daily News, Musial has a long-standing grudge with Garagiola over a business deal. Musial will throw with someone else catching. (Items from Joel Sherman's NY Post column, 10/26/06)

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Jeff Suppan Delivers Pitch on Political Issue--NY Times

Suppan is one of several athletes who appear in a political advertisement to be broadcast regionally on the Fox network when Game 4 which was rained out Wednesday, is played. The ad urges Missouri voters to oppose embryonic stem-cell research and vote against Amendment 2 to the State Constitution, which will be on the ballot in the election Nov. 7.

In a video copy of the ad, produced and distributed by an anti-amendment group called Missourians Against Human Cloning and posted on the Internet, Suppan'’s face appears in the first 10 seconds. He is not wearing a baseball cap.

“"Amendment 2 claims it bans human cloning, but in the 2,000 words you don'’t read, it makes cloning a constitutional right," Suppan says in the ad. "Don't be deceived."

Other athletes who appear in the ad are Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals, who formerly played with the St. Louis Rams, and Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals. James Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in the film "“The Passion of the Christ,"” also appears.


Tony La Russa, the Cardinals manager, was asked Wednesday his opinion of Suppan's involvement and his policy about players involving themselves in such causes.

"“Our organization encourages guys to get involved in something beyond just baseball,"” La Russa said. "“I just like the fact that guys make a commitment."”

  • La Russa has involved himself in social causes, including the protection of animals.

From Joe LaPointe article, NY Times 10/26/06

(The NY Times considers "the protection of animals" a "social cause." I should think it's a matter of life and death, much more than a social cause. How quaint of the Times. sm)

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Media guys desperate to help their darling Arod---NY Times pounces on Jeter

  • Tyler Kepner, an evident sycophant & one of the army of media angels ever on Arod's shoulder, is practically on the verge of tears trying to pound something out of Jeter on the subject of his Roddiness:
"Jeter was asked about it Wednesday. Jeter said he expected Rodriguez to be back, but he did not have any ideas on how he could make life easier for his teammate. Jeter, the Yankees captain, has been criticized for his seemingly lukewarm support of Rodriguez. (By whom, Tyler? Your creation. sm)
  • "What would you like me to do?" Jeter said. "“You're there and you support him. Everybody supports all your teammates at all times. I don't really know if there's anything else I can do. Maybe I'm not that smart; maybe you can help me out."

Jeter said he had spoken to Rodriguez since the season ended. "Briefly," he added,— and he said he saw no reason that Torre and Rodriguez would have to clear the air. Torre batted Rodriguez eighth in the Yankees final playoff game; Rodriguez had not hit that low in more than 10 years.

  • "Clear what air?" Jeter said. "I don't have anything to do with that. From what I've heard, I haven't heard there's any air that needed to be cleared. I'm not speaking on his behalf or Mr. T's behalf, but that's not something I'’ve heard."

Jeter also disputed the notion that there was tension in the Yankees’ clubhouse, saying that members of the news media were not around enough to make that judgment. As for the pressure on Torre, who enters the last year of his contract, Jeter said it would be a nonissue.

"In New York, it doesn't make a difference if you have a contract or not," Jeter said. "There are expectations every season. I don't think because it's the last year of his deal, the focus is going to be any more on that. It's always on us to win."

This year, of course, the Yankees did not win enough. But Jeter's standout season brought him here anyway, sharing a stage with the National League winner, Ryan Howard of the Phillies, and with Aaron. " From Tyler Kepner's NY Times article, 10/26/06

  • Again, Arod's problem is he hired Scott Boras who made a bad deal for him. It has collapsed as bad deals do. Why should this bad deal get special dispensation? If you think he's just a column of stats, well, we all know how to manipulate stats so thanks anyhow. How about this: the media guys are the ones making the situation worse than it is. Not that I'd expect any of you to be honest about that.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jeff Brantley, ESPN analyst & former Reds pitcher, 1st choice to join Reds radio booth

from Call of the Game.

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ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Howard of the Phillies and Derek Jeter of the Yankees were honored with the Hank Aaron Award presented by CENTURY 21 in a ceremony before Wednesday's Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium, the result of fan voting at MLB.com and a unique tribute to all-around offensive performance.
  • (Now, the guy who wrote this article, "Mark Newman, enterprise editor of MLB.com," WROTE IT WITHOUT APPROVAL OF MLB OR ITS CLUBS (as it says at the end of the article. BUT NEWMAN IS SPITTING MAD THAT JETER WON.)
Howard led the Majors with 58 home runs and 149 RBIs, far exceeding Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's Phillies record of 48 longballs in a single season. It was a stunning power display in only Howard's first full season...
  • Fans broke tradition with their vote of Jeter. In his best individual season since 1999, the Yankees' captain batted .343 in falling just short of the American League batting title won by Minnesota's Joe Mauer, stole a career-high 34 bases, hit 14 homers, drove in 97 runs and provided an important offensive consistency to a team that wound up with its ninth consecutive American League East title.
(Newman is so mad, he can't even support his thesis. What tradition, Mr. Newman? I read the whole article, and you failed to address this. A little passive-aggressive?) sm (On the voting procedures):
  • There were two phases of fan balloting at MLB.com toward the end of the regular season. In the first phase, fans voted on a ballot that included one representative from each of the 30 clubs, as chosen by Major League Baseball. The fans' vote decided which six players in each league would move on to the final vote. Fans then were asked to choose one player per league from among those six.

    Since 1999, the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Ruth's all-time home run record, Major League Baseball has recognized the best offensive performer from each league with this award.

  • (I'M DESPERATELY TRYING TO GET NEWMAN'S POINT...WHAT DOES HE MEAN BY 'BEST OFFENSIVE'? DOES HE MEAN 'MOST HOMERUNS? IF SO, WHY NOT SAY SO DIRECTLY?sm) Past recipients besides Jones and Ortiz include Barry Bonds (three times), Alex Rodriguez (three times), Manny Ramirez (twice), Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa and Carlos Delgado.

  • Howard was the choice from among six National League finalists that included Pujols of the Cardinals, David Wright of the Mets, Alfonso Soriano of the Nationals, Nomar Garciaparra of the Dodgers and Lance Berkman of the Astros.
  • The other AL finalists were Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels, Travis Hafner of the Indians, Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Justin Morneau of the Twins. Jeter's 14 homers obviously were a drop in the bucket when compared to those of the other five sluggers, but that's not what fans focused on here. This was also about baserunning, a key figure in an increased number of Yankee hit-and-run attempts, hitting the ball the other way through an open hole at second base.
from MLB.com

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The overnight Neilson Ratings on Tuesday night's World Series Game 3 :
  • New York metro rating: 11+
  • National rating: 10+
This was announced earlier today on WFAN with Mike and Chris. The point is:
  • Even though the ratings have been disappointing overall, New York has more baseball fans.

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Joe Girardi prefers not to uproot his family---NY Times

""“Do you know how badly I want to manage?"” he said. "“I want to manage so badly. But I don'’t want to move my family a third time in three years."

As Girardi sat in the corner of a coffee shop here, he spoke carefully and, at times, emotionally.

  • At first, Girardi was praised for his work. But after his argument with Loria, Girardi was portrayed as a control freak. Three weeks after the argument, The Sun-Sentinel of South Florida, quoting anonymous sources, reported that in spring training Girardi wanted to move Miguel Cabrera from third base to first, shift Dan Uggla from second base to left field, use outfielder Josh Willingham at catcher and send the starters Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco to the minor leagues.
(Isn't Josh Johnson the one Girardi supposedly overused because he was so good? Where is the sportswriter/owner's tool to explain that one?)sm

While Girardi refused to discuss what had been internal evaluations, he seemed to express doubt that he made those recommendations by saying: "I don'’t want to get into "He said, he said."’ That doesn'’t do anyone any good."”

  • It would be unlikely that Girardi, the Yankees bench coach in 2005, would accept a coaching position with the Yankees. As much as Girardi reveres Manager Joe Torre, he would probably view coaching as a step backward. "I believe I'll manage again,"” Girardi said.

For now, communications may be Girardi's full-time job. Steve Mandel, Girardi's agent, said there could be broadcasting positions available for Girardi, who has worked for Fox and the YES Network and could return to one or both outlets.

  • After Girardi agreed to a three-year, $2.1 million contract with the Marlins, he was told they wanted to trade Carlos Delgado and Mike Lowell and lower their payroll to $45 million from $56 million. But they also made more jarring reductions.

Florida shed Delgado and Lowell in addition to Josh Beckett, Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre, Paul Lo Duca and Guillermo Mota. Several other players signed elsewhere. Girardi, who had turned down a better offer from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was left with a $15 million team filled with youngsters. "“I believe the landscape changed from what it was originally going to be and I was misled a bit," he said. "“But I'’m O.K. with that."”"

From the article by Jack Curry, NY Times, 10/25/06

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan to appear in response to Michael J. Fox political ad

This is the video.

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Playoff Tickets Harder to Come By

Buying tickets in St. Louis (photo from USA Today)

To get a ticket to a World Series game nowadays, the average fan must do one of three things: own all or part of a season ticket (or have a good friend who does), get lucky on the Internet or pay the premium price from a broker.

  • Tickets are particularly tight in St. Louis for the three games in new Busch Stadium this week, an example of the changing environment with smaller stadiums, increased demand and more season ticketholders to accommodate. The Cardinals held an online lottery for 2,000 tickets for each of the three Series games, and 350,000 people registered for it. (Fans could register once per e-mail address.)

The Detroit Tigers made 10,000 tickets for each game available for sale on their website and by phone last week, and they sold out in 30 minutes.

Joe Strohm, Cardinals vice president for ticket sales, provided a breakdown of where the tickets for the 46,500 seats at Busch Stadium went:

•35,000 to season ticketholders. The Cardinals have a season-ticket base of 27,000 this year, plus a long-standing bonus plan entitling season ticketholders prior to 1985 to buy extra playoff tickets. The season-ticket base (which includes partial plans that are added up to full-season equivalents) increased from about 21,000 in the old park.

•8,000 to Major League Baseball for its 30 clubs, licensees, sponsors, broadcast right holders, home and visiting players, umpires and the media.

•2,000 to the public at large in the online lottery. "It's the most fair way of doing it, because everybody has an opportunity," Strohm says.

1,500 for internal use, such as sponsors and "group leaders" who organize group sales of 300 or more tickets during the season.

Vaccaro estimates about 20% of fans at the Series games in Detroit bought their tickets in the secondary market.

  • Tickets from brokers ranged from about $380 to $3,500 for Saturday's Game 1, he says. In St. Louis, they're going for $345 to $5,000, depending on location, he says.

Some season ticketholders sell their playoff tickets to pay for the next year's season plan, he says. from USA Today article, 10/23/06

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