Monday, June 15, 2009

Wasting Time On An Off Night

Tonight is the first of three Mondays that the Yankees will have off in a row. It's probably a welcome relief for the players and beat writers, who have only had two days off (not including rain outs) since April 23rd. For most fans, the void of not having a game to watch on a weeknight is not as highly anticipated. One of the things that's great about baseball is that's it's there almost every night. When you come to the realization that you might have to find something else to do or watch on a weeknight, it can be a bit of a letdown.

The NBA Finals just wrapped up, the Stanley Cup finals are over and baseball finally has the summer all to itself. And on the first night that is the case, there are a whopping two MLB baseball games to chose from and one from the College World Series.
  • Brewers vs. Indians - 7:05 - ESPN - Carl Pavano starts for the Cleveland against David Bush. This is a tough sell for Yankees fans, or anyone who isn't a fan of these two teams for that matter. It's not a natural rivalry and although the Brewers are in first place in the NL Central, it's hard to get excited for this one.

  • Angels vs. Giants - 10:05 -, MLB Extra Innings or a couple of stations in California that I'm not going to bother to look up because if you get this broadcast you already know what they are - John Lackey vs. Barry Zito. Another not-so-appealing match-up for East Coasters but might be worth your while if Zito gets shelled in the first few innings.

  • Arkansas vs. LSU - 7:00 - ESPN2 - Tune in to probably see some player(s) who will make the major leagues one day who you will never remember.
Perhaps you would like to avoid sports all together for one night? How about:
  • No Reservations : Peru, Hong Kong - 7:00, 8:00 - Travel Channel - A show about traveling by the seat of your pants and eating great food. Yes, I am a fan of Anthony Bourdain.

  • If shitty reality TV shows are your thing, Uproxx's Warming Glow has some recommendations for you.

  • Real Time With Bill Maher - 8:00 - HBO - A re-run from Friday night, but it's a solid episode. First guest is Larry King and the panel consists of Chris Matthews, a former homeland security advisor and the head of the NAACP.

  • Joe Buck Live - 9:00 - HBO - Just in case you didn't hate this show just because Joe Buck is hosting it, Brett-fucking-Favre is his first guest.

  • Weeds - 10:00 - Showtime - It's an entertaining show that's a little bit over the top at times, but still a lot of fun to watch. It's amazingly already in it's 5th season and feels like it still has some plotlines to explore.

  • Nurse Jackie - 10:30 - Showtime - Piggybacking off of an established show is a pretty good way to develop a viewership. Snagging Edie Falco from the Sopranos doesn't hurt either.
Or, if you happen to be kicking around the Upper West Side of Manhattan this evening, stop by the Amsterdam Ale House for an event that The Bruery is hosting. That's where I'll be wasting time.

Slade Heathcott's "Character Issues"

I wrote a post last Wednesday, talking about the Yankees first round draft pick, Slade Heathcott. Naturally, there was a lot of hype about the five tool high school outfielder out of Texarkana, Texas, and I wanted to spotlight him a little bit on the site here for those who hadn't really followed the draft. One of the things that emerged from many of the scouting reports were whispers of "off-the-field problems" and "character issues".

Specifically, he was declared academically ineligible for a short time, some said that he was cocky, and various sources claimed "his father is in prison on drug charges while his mother reportedly has drug issues" or things to that affect.

Yesterday, we received an anonymous comment on the post I wrote from someone claiming to be Slade's mother, Kimberly. I recognize that this is not the most infallible source, but the post had been up for four days with little activity beyond the first day and there were details within the comment that I personally don't think it would be likely for a random person to fabricate. Giving the timing and the content, I would tend to assume it was her. That's my opinion, you can judge for yourself:
Yes, this is Slade's mother Kimberly and I am not sure where all this mess about me being out of his life and drugs is coming from , but I assure you I am in regular contact with my son and attend his games. I moved to another town recently due to getting remarried. I also have a 16 yr old and he does live with me. Slade stayed in TK to finish high school. I am a very devoted and loving mother whom has given her whole life to her kids. I don't touch drugs or cigarettes and never have, I appal them. His father has had problems in the PAST due to a car accident. He is not in prison and is clean. However, I do appreciate you very much taking the time to write about my son. We are very proud parents of both our boys. They are great, great kids as anyone will tell you! Thank you...
Take it for what it's worth. I tried to verify what Slade's mother's name was, and see if I could verify any of the information in the comment, but basic Google searches and reaching out to other Yankee bloggers who had written about Slade came up empty.

During my research, I came across an interview with Slade by Lane Meyer from No Maas which was conducted before the Yankees actually drafted him. It's pretty lengthy, but a really interesting read if you are looking to find out more about Heathcott. He says "yes, sir" and "no, sir" constantly and comes across as anything but cocky.

Lane Meyer: Scouting reports said there were “character issues” that may be a problem with you. What would you want to tell the fans that ask about that?

Slade Heathcott: I checked into that myself because I was kind of curious why that came up. I haven’t lived with my parents for two years due to various issues between them - things that happened that I have no control over. Historically, society has a tendency to see kids having troubles when they don’t have parental guidance in their life, that if they have parent issues it tends to carry over onto them. Well that’s not the case with me. It doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t change me, I don’t get into trouble, and I’m not going to get into trouble. But the parents issue is why that popped up, and that makes sense to me, but I’m not like everybody else or the stereotype that people want to associate with my situation - It doesn’t affect me in anything I do.

Lane Meyer: Great to hear. You said you haven’t been living with your parents - whom have you been staying with?

Slade Heathcott: I had been staying with my friend’s family and I finally moved in with my Grandpa. He had gotten sick about a year ago and was seeing a bunch of doctors, so I ended up moving in with a friend’s family, and they were wonderful about it. Finally everything got straightened out with his health and I moved back in with him about four months ago.
Slade's comments would seem to be in accordance with comment we received, that he hasn't lived with his parents, but doesn't say anything about that "being out of his life" as was originally intimated. Not that your relationship with your parents is a perfect indicator of what kind of person you are, but it sounds like he's got a fairly stable living situation, which is an important part of growing up.

As someone who was part of spreading the initial rumors about his supposed parents drug usage, I wanted to do my part to set the record straight. I haven't been able to determine where this notion actually originated, but it seems to be an off-the-record source. It's possible, I suppose that a team with the intentions of drafting him could have propagated some false rumors to knock down his value. This type of thing is face more common in the NFL draft, but I wouldn't put it past an MLB club to try and pull such a stunt. Since the internet can sometimes be like one big game of telephone, all it takes is on salacious tidbit for it to spread like wildfire and teams should be aware of this by now.

So there it is. If anyone close to the situation has anything to add to this post, please find my email on the left side of the site, as opposed to leaving an anonymous comment. Thanks.

That's An Odd Way Of Not Caring

This morning Craig from Shysterball/Circling The Bases brought forward a quote a quote K-Rod gave last year, which would seem to contradict the his motives for confronting Brain Bruney in the outfield during BP on Sunday:
"The only thing I have to worry about is getting the job done, and I don't have to worry about anyone else."

However, Rodriguez acknowledged he's heard grumbling over his career.

"All the time. I don't care. Why would I care about that? I only care about my job," he said. "I'm not changing it. I don't care what people say. That's my way. People can say I'm arrogant, a (jerk), anything they want to say. But me, I'm going to live my world. I don't care what people think or say."
The type of person who celebrates wildly after converting three outs before giving up three runs isn't likely to be the type who brushes off comments from opposing players about doing so. In fact, earlier in that article, he drops a hint as to why criticism from someone like Bruney might have pissed him off:
I don't hear any complaints from veteran hitters, superstars... I'm going to hear from a bench player?
Yes, that's exactly who you are going to hear it from. A guy like Bruney who would probably kill to be good enough to be paid tens of millions of dollars per year and be heralded as one of the best closers in the game. He is the perfect example of someone who is going to resent K-Rod for his displays. Hence, he is going to resent the fact that K-Rod goes off after converting a save, something Bruney would never do.

Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, can expose K-Rod for the attention slut that he is by simply walking off the mound after converting a save. He would never be on either side of a frivolous "story" like this. If anything, the little tiff between these two should make you appreciate Rivera and the way he conducts himself even more.

Jim Baumbach Needs To Work On His Columns

That is the title of a column written by Newsday's Jim Baumbach. With Bruney poised to return from the DL shortly, perhaps you would interpret that to mean that he literally needs to work on his pitching motion, which he probably does. It does not.

Bruney needs to work on his delivery
Jim Baumbach
10:13 PM EDT, June 14, 2009

The funniest part about that quote, of course, is that Brian Bruney started this war with Francisco Rodriguez by doing the exact opposite.

What quote, Jim? It's the first sentence of the article and I'm already lost. Do you mean the headline? Because that's neither a "quote", nor "funny". What would be the "exact opposite" of working on one's delivery? Was Bruney was practicing his receiving?

So while Bruney respects the Mets closer for going shoulder to shoulder with him in the outfield during batting practice and yelling at him, perhaps the real question here is this:

Does Brian Bruney respect Brian Bruney?

What is/are the other question(s) you are alluding to which necessitate you to refer to your question as the "real" one? My question is actually this: Why did you insist on typing out Brian Bruney the second time instead of just saying "himself"?

Whether you agree with Bruney that K-Rod's celebrations are "embarrassing" and a "tired act," as Bruney told reporters after his rehab appearance in Trenton on Saturday, is not the point. The fact remains, Bruney's verbal attack was completely unprovoked and downright unnecessary.

I agree with this in principle, but I never heard such faux media outrage when other players were attacking Joba's fistpumping. Joba was destroying the integrity of the game with his unsportsmanlike showmanship, but any commentary on K-Rod's histrionics are "downright unnecessary"?

Hey, I'm all for a war of words through the media, because let's face it, on this topic, I'm 100 percent biased. If a Yankee wants to rip another Met, or vice versa, I have my recorder ready.

We know, Jim. You are ready to mail in a half-assed column on a "war of words" in a tenth of a second, because it keeps you from having to write about anything insightful. And I'm more than willing to do a line by line critique of it because it's easier than coming up with original material, so we are on the same side.

But you always must look at the person who's doing the criticizing, and take that into consideration, as well. If Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley or, heck, John Franco, even, said those same words, then wow!

Way to undermine the importance of your entire article.

But Bruney? Try staying off the disabled list for 62 straight days before you start questioning the on-field behavior of the guy who set the major-league single-season record with 62 saves.

If you didn't rely entirely on a trite numeric device, you would have a point here. Bruney avoided the DL for well over 62 straight days in 2007. That's not really saying much, aside from the fact that Baumbach's original 62 days/62 saves set up was lazy and stupid.

At least he realized he made a mistake, admitted as much after Sunday's game and also didn't escalate matters when K-Rod went after him during batting practice.

For those keeping score at home, this is the 8th paragraph of the column and none have been over two sentences long.

Should Rodriguez have simply responded, "Who's Brian Bruney?" and leave it at that? You can make that case, sure. But I don't have a problem with him going on the offensive.

Let me see if I understand you correctly, Jim. Brian Bruney's verbal attack (which you didn't disagree with) was unnecessary, but K-Rod excaserbating the situation by actually confronting him in the outfield over it and having to be physically restrained by a teammate, that you agree with? Gotcha.

From the video, Rodriguez clearly let Bruney have it - verbally, not physically - before being ushered away by teammate Mike Pelfrey.

And Bruney, to his credit, stood there and accepted it, rather than open his mouth and say something else stupid. "He had some things he had to say," Bruney said, "and I'll leave it at that."

Please watch the video again, Jim. Bruney did not just stand there an accept it. Words were exchanged from both sides.

Hours later, both players said their tiff was over, and rightfully so.

This is over when Jim Baumbach says it's over.

As Mets infielder Alex Cora correctly pointed out, it's not like either pitcher will get a chance to drill the other with a pitch.

"They're two relievers," Cora said. "What are they going to do?"

Yell at each other in the outfield during BP?

After the first installment of Subway Series games, we've learned a few things about these teams. Luis Castillo should use two hands on pop-ups. The Yankees can't hit unknowns but do just fine against Cy Young Award winners. And Bruney really should start thinking before he talks.

We've learned a few things by reading this column. Any complaints about K-Rod's spastic victory celebrations are "downright unnecessary". Jim Baumbach looks forward to writing about trival bullshit.

And he loves one sentence paragraphs.

Remember, this is a guy who Saturday admitted he was lying when he told his bosses earlier this year his elbow felt good.

That doesn't indicate that he wasn't thinking before he spoke.

Admirable? Please.

Group these two one-words sentences into another paragraph? Please.

Days later, he was back on the DL and the Yankees were without their eighth-inning pitcher.

AHHHHHH! Maybe that was why he didn't want to tell them him elbow hurt in the first place, you dick. If he had told them eariler, they would have lost their eighth inning pitcher even sooner.

As K-Rod went looking for Bruney Sunday, he was asking teammates: "Is that him? Is that him?" Their one-sided chat lasted no more than a few seconds, and Bruney came away impressed.

"I heard he's a good dude," Bruney said. "I'm sure he is. It wasn't anything personal."

Okay, what? He "came away impressed" from K-Rod verbally assaulting him in the outfield?

Nothing personal? Ha! The question posed to Bruney was about the crazy end to Friday night's game, and he responded by offering this gem: "Couldn't have happened to a better guy on the mound, either. He's got a tired act."

Hmmm, I think you might have wanted to introduce the quote that sparked this entire feud a little earlier in the story, no?

Sunday, Bruney saw the Hunterdon County Democrat reporter who asked that question, and sarcastically thanked him for creating the stir.

Later, he turned his ire to the reporters surrounding him.

"I think it is ridiculous," Bruney said, "that this is a big story."

Joke's on us, I guess, for lending any credibility to his words.

Yes. Yes it is Jim. But thank you for acknowledging as much at the very end of your 600 word column which ran after the entire scenario had already played out.

Big Papi Is En Fuego

No, I'm not talking about the fact that his average has reached a stratospheric .204 and has an OPS 30 points lower than David Eckstein.

The magic of Google Adsense brought me this gem.

AAAAAAAH! Papi, your beard is on fire!

But before you put that out, tell me more about what is in that snazzy-looking bottle...
Baseball star and fan favorite, David Ortiz launches Big Papi En Fuego, a new lifestyle hot sauce, which is never off season! Ortiz, a lifelong hot sauce enthusiast, was inspired to create the perfect hot sauce that was both spicy and flavorful. Big Papi En Fuego is made from a secret recipe, and while we can't give it away, the sauce does include fresh, natural ingredients such as habanera peppers and fresh lime. Big Papi En Fuego makes a great addition to marinades, cooking and cocktails. It is not just a hot sauce, but a way of life!
No... it's just a hot sauce. A hot sauce that could nevah compayah to Youk's fackin' hot sauce. Early reviews indicate it's not nearly as spicy as it used to be. Perhaps you could could use it to enhance some of Ortiz's Big Papi Salsa.
Papi's culinary empire also includes a red wine, but he's clearly got a ways to go before he attains Youk's status in the food industry.

Given his performance this year, all these red and hot items don't really fit his image from a marketing perspective. Perhaps he might want to partner with Ben and Jerry's for an ice cream. They could call it "Papi's Plunge" and have it feature sour grapes, humble pie and a sense of nostalgia. It would taste worse than vanilla but cost ten times more.