SI: Jeter Sportsman of the Year

[Image: Gregory Heisler, SI]

Sports Illustrated made it official this morning, naming Derek Jeter its Sportsman of the Year.  Tremendous for Jeter, who passed Lou Gehrig to become the all-time hits leader for the Yankees.  Never one to get in trouble off the field, Jeter also had a tremendous season, batting .334/.406, with 18 homers, 66 homers, 30 stolen bases, his 4th Gold Glove (committing a career-low 8 errors), 4th Silver Slugger award, a third-place tally for the AL MVP, and his 5th World Series ring in which he batted .407 in the World Series.  There were plenty of worthy candidates, but Jeter was a sound choice, the first Yankee to ever receive the award.  Congratulations, Captain.  Well deserved.


Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 10:38 am  Comments (5)  

On Tiger, Briefly

I really won’t spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the Tiger Woods incident over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I will, however, do a couple things.  The first is that, as usual, Sam Borden at LoHud has a piece well worth reading that succinctly summarizes the issues of celebrity, publicity, and privacy. I think another thing is worth considering, while gone for the last few days and unaware of it being discussed someplace, is this: does anyone realistically think that, were he not Tiger Woods–rich, famous, living in an exclusive gated community–he would have been able to dodge police questioning for several days?  If he were an average person of color, or perhaps even an everyday person of any color, that Woods would not have been questioned at length by the police as soon as possible after the accident?

What transpired, and what background there might or might not be to this story, truly is something private and between Woods and his wife.  I have been pretty consistent about this, including others such as Sarah Palin and her daughter’s pregnancy last Fall.  I’m not a scandal-sheet guy.  However, worth considering is the degree to which wealth and privilege stemming from worldwide celebrity has afforded Woods a buffer zone that most other people simply would not have had should they have been involved in an early-morning one-car accident and been described as unconscious lying at the side of a quiet street.

That, and not what led to the accident, is what strikes me as most fishy.

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 10:20 am  Comments (1)  

Happy Birthday, Mariano

The greatest of all time turned 40 today.  The guy has been a gift from day one with the Yankees.  Five rings later, he has never been more valuable to the Yankees.

The greatest there has ever been, and ever will be.

Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm  Comments (1)  

Bob Sheppard Retiring

To the surprise of few but dismay of all Yankees fans, Bob Sheppard, the “Voice of God,” is retiring as the Yankees public address announcer.  Ill with a bronchial infection in mid-2007, Sheppard had been away since but had not officially retired, even planning to return in 2008.  However, after various physical setbacks and a slow recover, that unfortunately did not materialize.  The 99-year-old announcing great said recently,

“I have no plans of coming back.  Time has passed me by, I think. I had a good run for it. I enjoyed doing what I did. I don’t think, at my age, I’m going to suddenly regain the stamina that is really needed if you do the job and do it well.”

As Yankees fans know well, Derek Jeter has had an audio clip of Sheppard announcing his name for at-bats ever since 2006, after Sheppard missed the home opener having injured his hip.  His first game as a Yankee announcer was for their home opener to start the 1951 season, a 5-0 win over the Red Sox that sported no less than eight future Hall of Fame players.  The lineup is below:

Red Sox:
CF: Dom DiMaggio
RF: Billy Goodman
LF: Ted Williams*
3B: Vern Stephens
1B: Walt Dropo
2B: Bobby Doerr*
SS: Lou Boudreau*
C: Buddy Rosar
P: Billy Wright

LF: Jackie Jensen
SS: Phil Rizzuto*
RF: Mickey Mantle*
CF: Joe DiMaggio*
C: Yogi Berra*
1B: Johnny Mize*
3B: Billy Johnson
2B: Jerry Coleman
P: Vic Rashi

* = Hall of Fame member

His final lineup on September 17, 2007?  Against Baltimore, an 8-5 win, it’s below:

  • 2B: Brian Roberts
  • CF: Tike Redman
  • RF: Nick Markakis
  • SS: Miguel Tejada
  • 1B: Kevin Millar
  • DH: Aubrey Huff
  • 3B: Melvin Mora
  • C: Ramon Hernandez
  • LF: Jay Payton


  • CF: Johnny Damon
  • SS: Derek Jeter
  • RF: Bobby Abreu
  • SS: Alex Rodriguez
  • LF: Hideki Matsui
  • C: Jorge Posada
  • DH: Jason Giambi
  • 2B: Robinson Cano
  • 1B: Doug Mientkiewicz

Phil Hughes got the win, his fourth of the year, with 5 2/3 good innings.  Matsui homered in the third off loser Cabrera.  Nuke LaFarnsworth entered and allowed a run when it was 8-3, then Mariano allowed a double to Huff to cut it to 8-5 before whiffing Mora, the tying run.  I’ll leave it to you to determine how many Hall of Famers were in those starting lineups (though surely considerably fewer than Sheppard’s in 1951, no question).

You’ll be missed more than you know, Mr. Sheppard.

[Edit: Mike has a terrific audio link of Bob Sheppard reading the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup that April day in 1951 at The Baseline. Listening to Sheppard announce five consecutive Hall of Famers, especially The Scooter, Mantle, The Yankee Clipper, and Yogi is pretty amazing.]

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 7:02 pm  Comments (3)  

NY Daily News: Boston Aggressively Pursuing Halliday; Happy Thanksgiving

In today’s New York Daily News, Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden report that Boston is apparently “putting on a full-court press” in order to obtain Jays pitcher Roy Halliday.  Citing an unnamed source who said Boston would “love to get it wrapped up before the winter meetings,” Feinsand and Madden speculate that any deal for Halliday would likely require Clay Buchholz and pitching/shortstop prospect Casey Kelly in exchange.  Should the Yanks get involved, Joba or Hughes, with Austin Jackson and/or Jesus Montero, would likely be involved.

This report surprises me little, really.  Other than adding some defined desired time to acquire Halliday, this differs little from what we at The Heartland and plenty of others have discussed.  Boston clearly need and wants to bolster its pitching, and I think they will push hard for Halliday regardless of the price and despite overtures to small-market economics from apologists such as Gammons.  People know how I feel about acquiring Halliday–it would be great, but not at the cost of most or all the Yankees’ top prospects, especially given the cost, need to sign Halliday to a long-term deal, his age, and the possible alternative of Lackey.  Sam Borden at LoHud has a good post which represents a fair approximation of where I stand–for a couple top prospects especially without Montero and one of Joba/Hughes?  I can accept that.  But for me, both Joba and Hughes, or the involvement of Montero, is a non-starter.  It’s just too much to ask, and would create considerable holes both in The Bronx and in the farm system.  Getting it done is less the issue than the cost with me.

[Edit: Good follow-up from Chad Jennings, who has done so much to make me miss Pete Abraham less and less.  No offense to The Mighty Abe, but Jennings and Borden more than adequately fill in for the hard work that Abraham did, and seem a little less cantankerous.]

As with other hot stove developments, we will have to wait and see.

The family and I are heading out tonight to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.  From The Heartland, I wish all you good readers and yours a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.  Eat, drink, be merry, and be safe.  As Yankees fans, we have had a lot for which to be thankful.  Be mindful, however, of those in life who are in need in these trying economic times, and try to give whatever you can to comfort and assist others.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 11:53 am  Comments (6)  

Mid-Week Hot Stove

Peter Gammons blogs today that the Yankees plan to enter 2010 with both Joba and Hughes preparing to start. “They can always go from starting to the bullpen, but it’s tough going the other way,” says Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.  Gammons also states that Cashman feels that David Robertson and Damaso Marte can set up Mariano for the seventh and eighth innings.

Like so much else at this point of the hot stove, we’ll see.

Why?  For starters, prepping Joba and Hughes to start is exactly what the Yankees should do.  Cashman is right in saying that stretching them out is easier earlier rather than later, and both have shown that they can be outstanding setup men.  Saying this also likely plays a role in any conversations and negotiations the Yankees might have with potential acquisitions and, according to Gammons, the Yankees have not ruled out a run at John Lackey or Ben Sheets despite a professed desire to pare down payroll.  That is, preparing Hughes and Joba to start has the benefit of having them ready to do so, but also to use as a bargaining chip against free agents to indicate that the Yankees have and may be ready to proceed with other, younger–and cheaper–alternatives.  I am not necessarily advocating for or against that, just assessing its possible utility for Cashman and the organization.

The least believable item in Gammons’s piece to me was professing confidence in Robertson and Marte as setup men.  They can surely play a role with the Yankees next year, and should.  Robertson had a terrific K/IP ratio (63 K/43 2/3 IP).  Marte was outstanding in the World Series, compiling 5 K (Utley and Howard twice each, and Werth once) in just 2 2/3 IP.  Yet while Marte was solid down the stretch, allowing just 6 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs earned in his last 14 appearances after returning from a shoulder injury that saw him struggle badly early on, and Robertson was good last year (2-1, 3.30 ERA), do we envision them as good enough to set up for Mariano?  Should the Yankees sign Lackey, Sheets, or acquire someone else for the rotation, thus bumping Joba and/or Hughes into setup work, clearly Joba or Hughes move to the front of the pack to set up for Mariano.  Ergo, what does that say about Robertson and Marte?  Not that they’re poor options, although I still have some lingering questions about Marte despite his World Series heroics ala Graeme Lloyd in 1996, but rather there might be better ones available.

Buster Olney blogs that the Yankees are considering adding bullpen help.  In particular, he mentions Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, Jose Valverde and Brandon Lyon as possible acquisitions.  Soriano, from the Braves, is intriguing for despite a 1-6 record, his 2.97 ERA is pretty good, and he fans a ton–102 in 75 2/3 IP last year.  He is also turning 30 this December.  Gonzales, who will be 32 next May and is also of the Braves, fanned 90 in 74 1/3, though he walked even more than Soriano’s 27 by issuing 33 passes, too many to me.  Yet that both Soriano and Gonzales allow so few hits (56 for Soriano last season, 53 for Gonzales) makes them especially tempting, for their WHIP is low as a result despite the walks–Soriano 1.057, Gonzales a bit higher at 1.197.  The question becomes, how much to pay them?  Soriano made $6,350,000 last year (after making $2.4 million in 2008), and would need to be every bit as good to justify both a high salary (probably $7+ million per over 2-3 years) and the loss of the Yankees’ first round pick.  Same with Gonzales, who may come cheaper ($3.45 million last year but would still cost that pick.  Valverde has been very good (4-2, 2.33 ERA, 56 K/54 IP last year for Houston), but again, for how much after he made $8 million last season?  Does Lyon (6-5, 2.86 ERA, 57 K/78 2/3 IP, $4.25 million in ’09) work for people?  Gonzales, Soriano, and Valverde are Type A free agents, which means the Yankees would surrender their top pick for acquiring any of them.  Lyon is a Type B free agent, which means Detroit would receive a supplemental pick after the first round, but the Yankees would not lose their top pick.

In part I cannot help but wonder where these players would fit in should the Yankees actually be serious about paring down payroll, or at least spending it very judiciously.  Several might be good investments, but are not priorities especially vis-a-vis left field and starting pitching.

This post is meant to hopefully prompt debate rather than act as stenography for professional stenographers during a slow stretch of hot stove.  Accordingly, what say you?  To acquire or not to acquire any of these relievers?  If so, whom?  Might the free agent status affect the Yankees’ decision-making especially when they have begun to stock youth and talent in the farm system?  Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Published in: on November 24, 2009 at 1:07 pm  Comments (6)  

Mauer AL MVP; Teixeira Second, Jeter Third

To the surprise of few, Twins catcher Joe Mauer was the overwhelming winner of the AL MVP, taking 27 of the 28 first-place votes.  Mark Teixeira finished second in the voting, and Derek Jeter third.  Miguel Cabrera mysteriously received the other first-place vote, finishing fourth in the balloting.

Hard to argue with this, for Mauer won his third batting title with an outstanding .365 average, led the AL with a fabulous .444 OBP, won his second Gold Glove, hit 28 homers, drove in 96, and had 191 hits in 138 games.  Great player, great year–the right decision.  Teixeira and Jeter received the kind of recognition of their own outstanding years that they deserved–second and third, respectively, on a team that was more talent-laden and etter overall than the solid Twins.

Congratulations, Joe Mauer.  You certainly earned that.  Hats off.

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm  Comments (1)  

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

As you may have noticed, there has been precious little to report but rumors regarding the advent of the hot stove “season.”  I for one intend to be more patient than in years past regarding my speculation on such matters.  To a considerable degree, there is only so much that one can read into negotiations and behind-the-scenes discussions without appearing to be a sports version of a Kremlinologist, attempting to decipher the tea leaves of corporate sports management and labor relations that, for the most part, exists outside our collective purview.

Also, as regular readers here also know well, I am usually loathe to simply regurgitate what other beat writers pass along without trying to offer some original insights and analysis.  That is of course all the more difficult to do when there is literally nothing but speculation to report.  But the last thing I have ever wanted this blog to be is a tertiary source to merely digitally footnote what others have written.  Additionally, while it is difficult to say whether or not the Yankees under Cashman have an m.o., last off-season’s moves illustrated the relative futility of investing too heavily in speculation, for hile C.C. seemed likely to me to don the pinstripes, the Yankees swooped in to land Teixeira late when many thought he was going to Boston, and outbid the Braves for A.J.  What the Yankees will do regarding Halliday, and left field/DH, has already been discussed to a good degree, and it is still early in the process.  Much of the hot stove, by definition, is a holding pattern for us.

Nick Cafardo has stirred the blogosphere’s pot somewhat with his post that speculates if Joba or Hughes, plus others, will be enough to land Halliday.  It might well be, but who knows, especially since this segment of Cafardo’s article has no attributed source, even anonymous, on which to rely.  Would I make that deal?  Depending on the others involved, perhaps.  Montero is absolutely off limits, yet Jackson plus Joba/Hughes seems to be the minimum for whom the Jays would ask.  Personally, of the two whom I’d rather not see traded, it is probably Joba, for he has shown a greater ability to pitch effectively out of the bullpen and in the rotation.  Yet it is worth remembering that Hughes had an injury-plagued 2008, and while he struggled in the team’s run to the World Series championship, Hughes was nothing short of outstanding as a setup man to Mariano. While Halliday is great and in no way would I complain if the Yankees acquired him–unless they gave away the farm system and both Joba and Hughes–I cannot help but urge patience with Joba and Hughes.  Tell me the last time the Yanks have had two prized pitchers come up through the system at the same time like this.

Mariano and Pettite?

Exactly.  The kids also helped the Yanks win a World Series, ahem.

In the meantime, worth examining if you have not done so already is some typically excellent minor league reporting by Chad Jennings on several additions to the Yankees’ 40-man roster, in this case Yankees pitching prospect Hector Noesi, about whom I knew nothing before Jennings, via Frankie Piliere, posted the following at LoHud.  Noesi turns 23 this off-season.  It’s worth a read.

Noesi is a very interesting guy, I guess probably the definition of a late bloomer as a prospect. I saw him with SI (Staten Island) in ‘08 and he had the fastball but not much in the way of a secondary pitch. This year when I saw him in Charleston then later on in Tampa he had come a long way. Sits around 91-93, touches 94 and heard reports of 95. But pretty steady around 92-93. Plus command of the fastball, can go east and west very well. The difference now is he’s mixing the curveball with good 12-6 action (72-76 mph). About an average pitch now, flashed plus now and then. Mixes a changeup but saw him make a lot of mistakes on it. 82-86 mph. Really a show pitch right now. If he can get it over enough he’s got a #3 type profile. He was just really surprising this year. Really became a pitcher, throws a lot of quality strikes and the fastball has a lot of life.

I don’t think he’s a guy that converts to the pen either. I saw him go deep into some games, change his patterns and actually even pick up velocity at higher pitch counts. His curveball had a tendency to tighten up later on too. Clean delivery, everything is pretty nice and easy.

I’ve thought he was maybe the most overlooked good prospect in the system by the end of the year. He’s not that far off I don’t think. Pitches and carries himself like an experienced guy.

It is important not to get too jazzed up about prospects, since so much can and cannot happen between their work in the minors and anything in the majors, if at all.  But Noesi sounds intriguing and, if he can hone his off-speed stuff, it sounds as though he might start in Trenton in 2010–3-0, 3.92 ERA, 40 K/41 1/3, just 3 HR and 4 BB in Tampa last season.  Again, we’ll see.

Plus, and with all due respect to the now-departed Pete Abraham.  Jennings deserves considerable credit for how seamlessly he has made the transition to not just a new paper, but onto a new blog that, thanks to Abraham’s tireless work, without question has its own distinct blog culture.  His knowledge of the minor leagues from his sterling work at SWB has without question abetted that and far surpasses that of Abraham, who himself did more than many beat writers to at least nod to the minors.  Jennings, however, is three steps above Abraham in his detailed knowledge of the Yankees prospects, and has the connections with others to incorporate details of some of the lesser known players, as the quote above attests.  It is also worth noting that Jennings has done more than fill in for Abraham, but has to a degree changed the material and also tenor of the blog at LoHud.  I truly wondered if the paper would continue to devote the kind of time and work necessary into it that Abraham did to make it such a rich resource for fans.  They have, but with Jennings in ways that complement what Abraham did.  In some ways, Jennings was the right guy for that job, not just because he had his own terrific blog but also because his strengths–knowledge of the minors–help to round out what Abraham and now Borden and he do with the majors.  Yet he also seems more laid back than The Mighty Abe, and I for one hope that it is a byproduct of his personality rather than adjusting to a new place that accounts for this welcome change.  Well done, Chad.

Unrelatedly, I conked out somewhat and unexpectedly early tonight, then got up in the middle of the night with the TV still on, announcing on SportsCenter the belated outcome of the MLS championship game.  So good to see that Real Salt Lake, a team with a losing record during the regular season, won the title on penalty kicks.  Yawn. It isn’t as though I dislike soccer per se, although I find the sport dominated by a disproportionate amount of whiners and injury fakers, and just plain too low-scoring.  Nor is it that I cannot appreciate the subtleties of the sport, for I love a well-placed cross for a goal or good scoring chance, and I enjoy good defense as much as the next bloke.  I also fully respect how much running they do, especially the midfielders with last night’s announcers declaring that David Beckham ran approximately 3 1/2 miles in the first half alone.  That is impressive.  Plus, I watch my kids play soccer and appreciate every minute of it.  But I must admit that there is not enough scoring for my tastes.  Watching a game for a couple hours yet seeing but two goals is not my glass of beer.  If soccer (or football as regular reader Nick rightly refers to it) averaged 4-6 goals per game, great.  Otherwise, it just will not grab me.  I hate to sound superficial on the subject, but scoring does matter to me, and quite frankly to many sports fans.  It clearly delineates and quantifies success but, more than that, even a good number of scoring chances–sorely lacking from last night’s lackluster championship game–would help matters considerably.  If I were to propose a somewhat radical, Skip Bayless-like change to the sport, it would be to allow double the substitutions to six per game.  That might allow some fresh bodies and spring into games, while also increasing the number of scoring chances.

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 4:28 am  Comments (5)  

Saturday Night Musings

Regular reader Mike has a good post at The Baseline on whether or not to acquire Roy Halliday.  I have my concerns about doing it this year, especially given what the cost may be.  I am in no way willing to restock the Jays’ team and farm system with prized players such as Joba, Hughes, Montero, and Jackson.  I am even more unwilling to do so since ESPN is reporting that Halliday does not want to re-sign with the Jays after his contract expires in 2010.  This is a significant development, and may well facilitate a team’s landing Halliday for a considerably reduced price sometime before or during 2010, for the Jays might well want to get a couple players now instead of draft picks later.  One cannot help but wonder if Halliday is spreading word about not wanting to return to Toronto in order to facilitate a trade sooner rather than later.  Regardless, it also renders most teams an even more temporary landing spot for Halliday, for surely if they do not acquire him beforehand, the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, and Angels will be major players in the free agent sweepstakes for him after 2010.  If the Yankees really want Halliday, they might as well bide their time for 2010, should a deal that will not deplete the Yanks of their talented youngsters not transpire.

Thanks to Mike for sending along a link to a Peter Gammons piece in which he lauds Theo Epstein’s patience, prospect development, and purportedly small-market approach to planning Boston’s future.  At least on Gammons’s behalf, he does a good job detailing Boston’s prospects and their possible place in the future of the organization.  Yet I cannot help but take exception to Gammons’s portrayal of Boston’s situation, in particular as I will discuss below his ending the piece by yet again portraying Boston as somehow stuck between the rock of competing both on the field and financially with the Yankees, and the hard place of the limitations that come with adopting a small-market approach such as Florida’s.  The problem is that this is a disingenuous portrayal of Boston’s planning to this point.  For the last six years, here are Boston’s payrolls:

  • 2009: $121,745,999
  • 2008: $133,390,035
  • 2007: $143,026,214
  • 2006: $120,099,824
  • 2005: $123,505,125
  • 2004: $127,298,500

From 2004 to 2007, Boston had the second-highest payroll to the Yankees.  In 2008, it was fourth, just behind the Mets and Tigers, and they were again fourth in 2009 behind the Mets and Cubs.  More insulting and spurious was Gammons’s teary-eyed end of the article, in which he summed up Boston’s increasing focus on developing prospects instead of acquiring free agents:

That’s life in a world in which you’re trying to emulate the Marlins while competing with the Yankees and holding ticket prices.

This is an affront on two particular levels.  The first is the insinuation that Boston is somehow trying to emulate Florida.  While Boston’s payroll has diminished since 2007, they are hardly Florida regarding payroll.  See for yourselves:

  • 2009: $ 36,834,000
  • 2008: $ 21,811,500
  • 2007: $ 30,507,000
  • 2006: $ 14,998,500
  • 2005: $ 60,408,834
  • 2004: $ 42,143,042

Florida’s payroll since 2006 does not equal Boston’s payroll in 2009 alone.  So Boston is more heavily considering promoting prospects than before.  That hardly means that the team is not one of the very biggest financial players in the sport.  Unlike Florida, which routinely deals or lets walk its free agents, Boston kept Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek at considerable sums since 2007.

Equally specious is Gammons’s assertion that Boston is “holding ticket prices.”  Really? Did the Red Sox not just announce an increase in ticket prices for many sections for the 2010 season, five days before Gammons’s PR work on their behalf?  Allow me to quote The Boston Herald from November 16 at length:

Seats in about half of the park including lower bleacher seats, infield grandstands and right field box seats are up $2, while loge, field box and Green Monster seats have jumped by $5.

Red Sox brass tried to put the best spin on the news, noting that next year 63 percent of the tickets at Fenway Park will be $52 or less, and the lowest ticket price – for upper bleacher seats – remains at $12.

In a prepared statement, Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino said the team implemented a “modest” average increase of 3.8 percent, representing “the second lowest average percentage price increase over the past 15 seasons with the exception of last season when we implemented a price freeze across the board for all categories.”

Despite pitching some of the highest ticket prices in all of baseball, 36,000-seat Fenway has been filled to capacity for years. The franchise’s record sellout streak stood at 550 games at the end of last season, stretching back to May 15, 2003.

According to Team Marketing Report, the Sox had the second-highest average ticket price – $50.24, behind the Yankees’ $72.97 – in 2009.

The Red Sox said the priciest “non-premium” seat at Fenway next year will be a single-game ticket for the Green Monster section, for $165.

So let me get this straight.  Boston is “holding ticket prices” while simultaneously raising ticket prices for about “half of the park” during a major recession–the worst since the early 1980s–while also charging an arm and a leg for seats atop a thirty-seven foot wall over 300 feet away from home plate?  I’d hate to see what would result if they actually decided to soak “Red Sox Nation…”  Gammons is clearly shilling for Boston’s front office, rationalizing not only their holding down salaries but also comically characterizing it as a small-market approach to competing with the Yankees, and lying about “holding ticket prices.” This is made all the worse when one takes into account the estimated costs of purchasing not just tickets but also snacks, merchandise, and other related costs at and around Fenway which, by 2007 estimates, far surpassed those in Yankee Stadium according to The Boston Globe:

According to Team Marketing Report’s 2007 Fan Cost Index, which includes two average adult tickets, two average children’s tickets, four small sodas, two small beers, four hot dogs, two programs, parking, and two adult caps, the Red Sox far surpassed the runner-up Yankees, $313.83 to $222.53.

No wonder why the small-market meme maintains such strong purchase among baseball and sports fans, when apparatchicks such as Gammons can conveniently ignore evidence against his small-market mantras right in his own back yard on payroll, free agents, and the impact of the Red Sox’s big-market economics on their loyal but financially soaked fan base which, by the way, equals New York’s massive but divided (with the Mets) market.  In most of the northeast, Boston has a captive and nearly exclusive audience as its fan base totaling in the millions, and many more fans nationwide who support the team and sport financially.  Gammons has truly leaped into an Orwellian abyss.  Pity, especially for such an accomplished writer who is otherwise informed when his biases do not cloud his judgment and warp his prose.

[Edit: One other thing about Gammons’s piece stuck out to me–his referring to the acquisitions of Brad Penny and John Smoltz as “low-risk, high-reward” pick-ups.  Was this actually so?  I realize the way in which Gammons uses the term but, given the poor results that some of us, such as Mike and I, predicted, one must reconsider and invert that term in the case of Boston.  Given that Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA, and Smoltz 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA, and that both were coming off injury-plagued seasons, Boston’s acquiring and needing to rely upon those two, again part of the plan, as Matsuzaka and Wakefield got injured was in fact harmful to their chances.  Combined with some deep offensive swoons, pitching also let Boston down in no small part because the back end of the rotation–especially with Penny and Smoltz–was woeful and weak.  In contrast, New York–which by the way ended the tenures of both Penny (the starter in New York’s crushing 20-11 win August 21) and Smoltz (pounded mercilessly in the Yankees’ first win in 2009 against Boston, the 13-6 bludgeoning August 6) with blowout victories–was able to prevent extended losing streaks not only because of a formidable front three of C.C., A.J., and Pettite, but also because Joba and Gaudin were at least decent, and the offense kept them in games when Meat Tray pitched.

In sum, I think Gammons unsurprisingly gives Boston another pass for last year’s risky, low-reward pick-ups.  In no small part, it is because Gammons touted the signing in January with such enthusiasm.  Smoltz “is born to pitch in Fenway,” Gammons gushed after Boston signed him.  “He is going to end up a very important guy” late in the season, he added–only not in the way Gammons and Boston envisioned.  Gammons himself said what Boston considered when they signed Penny and Smoltz–that they would be “the fourth and fifth starters come the end of the season.”  Yes they did, and it backfired badly as Boston lost a highly competitive division by eight games to their biggest rival, to a large degree because Penny and Smoltz were low-reward, high-risk acquisitions after their injuries.]

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm  Comments (2)  

Heartland Podcast?

I have been tinkering with this idea for some time, and would like your feedback on this.  I have been mulling whether or not to do an Internet radio show for a while.  Frank the Sage and I have mulled doing it together, and a few of you have seconded already urged me to do it.  This does not seem to be too difficult to do, although it is something I need to learn about more.  I am also mulling various options about the hosting outlet, such as blogtalk and also

I would be keenly interested in hearing from you on a few fronts regarding this.  In particular:

1.) Should the focus of the show be Yankees baseball, or should it also have a wider sports appeal?

2.) How long should the show be?  1 hour? 2 hours? 30 minutes?

3.) Where should this be?  blogtalkradio?  Another outlet?

4.) Should there be a particular “hook” to it, in addition to the theme about which I asked above?

5.) Who among you would be willing to add their expertise and interest as guests?

6.) Are there other guests whom you would want to hear on it?

Let me know what you think about this idea generally, and on the specific issues I listed and any others.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm  Comments (10)