Saturday, January 31, 2009

A-Rod: It Must Be The Name (#13)

I often admonish writers for trying to compare individual sports to team sports. Please admonish me if I fail to contrive a worthwhile comparison between Alex Rodriguez and Andy Roddick. Here it is.

Like Alex Rodriguez, Andy Roddick has all of the physical tools—including a record 155 MPH serve and a powerful forehand. Also, like Alex, he is a good looking, marketable gentleman as he currently endorses Rolex, Lexus, American Express and Lacoste. He is also known for his sense of humor and hyperactivity, and is often overheard on television trading jokes with the crowd during matches.

The Two A-Rods are perhaps best known for their inability to conquer their respective boogeymen. For the tennis player it is Roger Federer. In his career, Roddick is 2-16 against Federer; including 0-7 in Grand Slam play and 0-3 in Grand Slam Finals. For the baseball player, that monster is the Postseason. His October line is .279/.361/.483, which pales in comparison to his career line of .306/.389/.578, especially in terms of slugging percentage.

Driving their fans to AA, Alex and Andy have not done much on the big stage in about 5 years. Since Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS ( I have now re-erased the memory from my brain), A-Rod has come to the plate in the postseason with 38 runners on base and has stranded every single one of them. This is despite being the highest paid player in Major League Baseball. In this time, Roddick has not won any Grand Slam, despite being one of the highest-paid purse winners in tennis.

Their most famous (or should I say infamous?) mutual shortcoming is their failure to stabilize the greatness that preceded them. Once Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees on the supposed “Valentine’s Day Massacre” in 2004, he was expected to bring a World Series title to Bronx almost every year he was on the team. Since his arrival, the Yankees have not won a single championship. Roddick was supposed to continue the American dominance of tennis associated with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. However, his single Grand Slam title has failed to sustain this dominance.

Roddick and Rodriguez appear to possess many of the same negative attributes. Although they possess some of the best physical tools in their respective sports, their mental psyches have forestalled them from becoming all-time greats. Both have a great drive to win and are tremendously competitive. However, this admirable competitive drive seems to conquer their bodies at key times and their performance suffers.

Both appear to have a pre-programmed, mechanical gameplan and often fail to adjust the situation accordingly. Rodriguez is a guess hitter. Even when he is down in the count he focuses on a location over the plate instead of adjusting to the contact and making simple contact. Often with runners in scoring position he is hellbent on hitting a big HR. Roddick bases his entire game on his lightning quick serve. He relies on it to get points via aces or set up his nice forehand. However, in the event that an opponent is able to play his serve, his decision to camp out on the baseline makes it difficult to return a ball on his backhand side.

Maybe it was unfair for all of these expectations to be levied upon the two A-Rods. However, as St. Luke told us in his Gospel, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Despite being given tremendous talent, all that Alex and Andy have provided are heartache and despair.

To succeed, I would simply recommend that they take a deep breath, relax and let the game come to them instead of trying to be the game themselves.

Number of Day Until Spring Training: Alex Rodriguez (#13)

Special guest appearance courtesy of New Stadium Insider.
  • Professor Purple Lips
  • Double Play-Rod
  • Mr. 162
  • Madonna's Prima Donna
  • The Ace Of April
  • The Gay Of May
  • The Queen Of 13
  • The Big Frosted Tipper
  • Lightning Rod
  • ICR
  • The Turd At Third
  • Stray-Rod
  • Alice Rodriguez
  • And most recently, A-Fraud
[Ed. Note: Joe, Frank & I might have made some of those up]

The man has a lot of demeaning nicknames for a 3 time MVP with the career trajectory and guaranteed contract that put him on pace to break the all-time home runs record, primarily as a shortstop and third baseman.

The best seats I ever had to a Yankee game were about six rows back from the Yanks' batter's box. The game had been rained out the night before and I was still playing online poker for a "living", so I was more than happy to rearrange my so-called schedule and scoop them up. Chien-Ming Wang threw 7 2/3IP of scoreless ball en route to a win over the Tigers (A-Rod went 0-3 and reached on a wild pitch).

In A-Rod's first time up, he grounded into a double play. When he was standing in the on-deck circle before his second at bat in the home half of the fourth, a guy in front of us got up and yelled, "ANDY RODDICK IS THE REAL A-ROD!!!". He was a Yankees fan.

Our 2007 Saturday package granted us the privilege of witnessing both his walk-off grand slam against the Orioles and his 500th career home run. Our seats were in Section 7, giving us the absolute perfect view down the left field line, and while everyone was still leaning to see if it was going to stay fair, we were already going apeshit.

I've been dreading writing this post ever since no one else claimed it a week and a half ago. There's too much to go into. The booing, the messy divorce, the Freudian implications of him dating Madonna, the Jeter friendship saga, and him playing for the Dominican Republic in the WBC despite never having lived there. Of course there were also his 2007 season, the above moments, the 2004 ALDS, and the home run he ripped off of the facing of the left field upper deck (watch).

Even during his blistering 2007 season, whenever he hit a dramatic home run, on his way to first base, he would still look into the dugout for approval.

Every Yankee fan has their own balance of love and hatred for him. I would place mine at about 70/30, respectively. It flipped to about 10/90 when he opted out of his contract during the '07 World Series. Usually what a player does off the field is not that big of a deal. It all comes down to what you do after the manager hands in the line-up card and before Kim Jones does her terrible post game interview.

But God Almighty, this fucker does his best to make you care. He is so polarizing, he polarizes people within themselves.

For better or for worse, the Yankees married A-Rod last offseason with the incentive-injected 10 year, $275M contract they extended to him. If he leaves the Yankees, it will make his divorce with Cynthia look tidy and private.

I would like to end this post by giving A-Rod the type of friendly advice that actual friendship, by nature, would preclude you from ever giving:



You really need to break up with Madonna. Can you not see the writing on the wall? She is GOING TO RUIN YOUR FUCKING LIFE.

The last thing you need is to date someone with an ego that might be even bigger than yours. She's insane. The Kabbalah thing...

Bro, she fucked Dennis Rodman...


The Maritimes [Music] [Non-Sports]

Stumbling upon the above gentleman's music was a total fluke. I found it when was downloading an album by Tash I actually purchased when I was a junior in high school and used to listen to with my boy Calvin driving around after school in Albany. My BitTorrent site has what they call "Similar Artist Maps", which are incredibly useful for finding music similar to other stuff you like.

Here is Eric Clapton's:

Pretty logical, right? It connects him to his side projects like Derek and the Dominoes, Cream and Blind Faith, people he's collaborated with such as B.B. King and Derek Trucks, and also similar guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Now take a look at Tash's:

Tash was a member of The [sic] (should be "Tha") Alkaholiks, and DJ Revolution did some of the tracks on their later albums. The fact that he is linked with Classified is either a small sample size glitch or a very clever joke.

Rico Smith a.k.a Catastrophe (Tash) is a black dude from the West Coast of the U.S. and Classified is a white dude from the East Coast of Canada. They couldn't be further apart geographically or stylistically. But I like them both, so maybe the site is just that good.

The thing that is really awesome about Classified's music is that it's blissfully unselfconscious. He raps about being from Nova Scotia and says "oot" and "aboot" in his rhymes. If for nothing other than the unintentional comedy of a Canadian rapper who actually sounds Canadian, give the song below a listen. He's opened for Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and The Game, so he's got some real skills as well.

He forced his way up through the ranks of the underground rap scene, doing all of his own recording and producing on his own dime before signing a deal with URBNET Records in 2004.

"The Maritimes" is a genuine and aboveboard tribute to his home territory, framed by an underlying track of bagpipes.
I'm from the East Coast of Canada, home of the bag pipe,
Known for the fiddle players, beer and our keg price,
Known for Alexander Keith's and the Donair,
Home of the Mooseheads, but I don't really go there,
We pay a buck for a litre of gas (and)
Smokes cost $10 a pack (damn)
We always mix our tobacco with weed,
It's just the way
, we always done it, shit is natural to me...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Several Individuals I'm Guessing You've Never Heard Of (#14)

To figure out who we are going to do for what number, for this countdown, we use To switch it up a bit, I looked through the 88 players who donned the number 14 for the Yanks over the history of the franchise, and plucked out a few random guys with odd or old-timey sounding names and Baseball-Referenced them. The results are shown below.
  • Rugger Ardizoia -One of only six Italian natives to ever play in the Major leagues, he pitched in exactly one game for two innings on April 30th, 1947. He gave up two runs in a 15-5 loss.

  • Harry Bright - A true journeyman, Bright spent time on 14 different minor league teams in 5 different Major League organizations. He played every infield and outfield position along with catcher. As a Yankee, Harry had the honor of being struck out by Sandy Koufax in the 1963 World Series for a record 15th K in a WS game. Bright hung up his cleats in 1965 and went on to become a minor league manager and scout.

  • Monk Dubiel - Brother Dubiel made his major league debut with the Yankees at age of 26 in 1944. He threw 232 innings at a slightly better than league average ERA and went 13-13, which was easily the best season of his career. Each proceeding year he threw fewer and fewer innings until 1952, when he threw only 2/3 of an inning for the Cubs and was out of the league.

  • Lonny Frey - Linus Reinhard Frey, to be exact. Lonny actually spent 14 seasons in the majors and was a pretty solid offensive force for a second baseman. He was a Yankee for only 24 games at the end of 1947 and 1 game in 1948, during which he had a .410 on-base, but only a .250 slugging percentage.

  • Bump Hadley - Spent five years in Pinstripes (1936-1940), and collected World Series rings in each of his first four. He had a winning recordas a starting pitcher in each season as a Yankee, but never pitched more than 178 innings although he averaged 252 over his four seasons prior to coming to the Bronx. Next time someone complains about innings limits and pitch counts, mention Bump Hadley. They won't have any idea who you're talking about unless they are an 80 year-old die hard baseball fan with an incredible memory, but do it anyway.

  • Hank Johnson - Johnson made the big leagues at age 19 and was both a starter and releiver for the Yanks from 1925-1932. He defected to the Red Sox the following year and made stops in Philadelphia and Cincinatti before his career was cut short by chronic bursitis.

  • George Pipgras - After brief stints in the Majors in 1923 & '24, Pipgras's official rookie campaign came on the legendary 1927 Yankees. The following year he threw 300 1/3 innings and led the AL in wins. He also won Game 2 of the World Series in '28, helping the Yankees sweep the St. Louis Cardinals for their second title in a row. He game up through the Red Sox organization and finished his career with them as well. After his playing career, in additon to being a Major League umpire, he spent time as a scout for the Sawx as well.

  • Butch Wensloff - After throwing 223 1/3 innings to a 2.54 ERA in 1943 Wensloff was employed in a war-plant and served in the Army for three years. When he returned to the Majors again until 1947, he threw 51 regular season innings and tossed two scoreless frames in the World Series.
And last but not least...
  • Cuddles Marshall - Wondering why a grown man would want to be referred to as "Cuddles"? Well, his real name was Clarence Westly Marshall. C-Money tied the record for the best single-season ERA by a relief pitcher in 1948. He threw one inning, gave up three walks, but did not surrender a run. His Yankee career lasted three years, and in 132 1/3 innings, his ERA was 5.17.
Aren't you happy you got through this entire post?


No one?


Fuck... I should have done Lou Pinella.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Moose Skowron (#14)

I was all ready to write up a post on William Joseph "Moose" Skowron, Jr., but then I found this:

Thanks for transcribing everything I was about to write and putting it into YouTube form, Heroes In Pinstripes! (The baseball camp?)

See if you can catch the factual error in the first 30 seconds. First one to point it out in the comments wins a brand new... um... actually... just, wins! Wooohoo!!!!!

Former Yankees #14 Headed To Mets

From MLBTR, the Mets signed Matt DeSalvo to a minor league deal.

A then 26 year-old DeSalvo was thrust into the spotlight after seemingly everyone on the Yankees came down with hamstringitis in 2007. He lacked a truly dominant pitch and was said to "hide the ball well" with his delivery. Other scraptastic descriptors were applied in attempts to explain how a kid who never broke 90 with his fastball was getting guys out at the Major League level, for a little while anyway.

In his first two starts with the Yanks, Matty D went 13 2/3 IP, gave up 3 runs and picked up a win. League eventually caught up to him and that would be his last win in Pinstripes. This sums up his time with Yankees almost perfectly:

He was granted free agency in December 2007, and signed with the Braves, where he started in AAA in Richmond. He went 2-10 there, with a 4.91ERA, but struck out almost one batter per inning. He saw only two innings of Major League action in 2008 and gave up 7 runs (31.50ERA).

According to his Wikipedia page, he is a "voracious reader". Good luck Matt, you're still only 29 and hopefully you get another shot at the Bigs.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brandon Jacobs To Attend Harvard Law

According to the Daily News, Brandon Jacobs is already making some pretty outrageous demands in order for the Giants to retain his services:

The big, free-agent-to-be running back endorsed that package deal Thursday during a promotional appeararnce [sic] at Super Bowl XLIII hype week. Jacobs promised that his friend, Burress, is a changed man after his recent brush with death, and he insisted that the Giants should give him a second chance.

"Oh, no question," Jacobs said. "If I'm here, I need 17 back on that roster."

You see, Brandon, that might not be the Giants' choice. Not sure if you heard, but your friend Plaxico committed a crime that carries a mandatory three year sentence.

You can't judge him for what happened because nobody really knows what goes on out in the street. A lot of people don't really know anything about what happened or how targeted we are. I'm not going to blame him from protecting himself. The guy is not a criminal. He shot himself. He didn't shoot no one else and I think we should get off his case. And I think anybody in that situation should get off and be able to continue his career.
Unholy Jesus. Do I really have to pick this apart bit by bit? I think I do, because every sentence is astoundingly idiotic.

"You can't judge him for what happened because nobody really knows what goes on out in the street."

Maybe I can't "judge" him, but a fucking Judge can and will "judge" him.

"A lot of people don't really know anything about what happened or how targeted we are."

Maybe if he was so "targeted" he shouldn't have been wearing a shitload of jewelry and going out to a strip club called "HeadQuarters" and a nightclub called "The Latin Quarter" in Midtown-fucking-Manhattan. Or, perhaps he could have used some of that $35M contract he just signed to hire a security detail instead of illegally carrying a gun (and then shooting himself with it). Steve Smith got robbed the week before, didn't have a gun and he was fine.

"The guy is not a criminal. He shot himself."

Actually, yes, he is a criminal because he fucking shot himself in the boro of Manhattan where it is illegal to carry a firearm, much less an unregistered one into a nightclub, you ignoramus.

"He didn't shoot no one else and I think we should get off his case."

I ain't going to ignore no double negative. That said, the Giants aren't the ones getting on his case. That would be the DA. And that would be an actual legal case. Because he is charged with a crime.

"And I think anybody in that situation should get off and be able to continue his career."

Tell it to the motherfucking DA or Mayor Bloomberg, I'm sure they would be thrilled to hear your rationale over an Earl Grey and some crumpets.

And from later on in the article, just for good measure.

"If we had Plax on our team, we go 15-1 and we win the Super Bowl."

Die of typhoid fever you massive fragile fuck. If you weren't constantly fucking injured that might have helped as well.

Probaby Not the Job Steve Donahue Signed Up For

Bronx Banter has an interesting tidbit from the Torre book on Clemens. I suggest you check it out.

The Bronx View (Act Now And It's Yours For $0)

Last night I wrote a post ripping ESPN radio for the terrible commercials on their online stream. It made me wonder why I still listen to it at all...

[Infomercial voice]
  • Do you find yourself wanting to strangle Colin Cowherd?
  • Turned off by Max Kellerman's smarmy assertions?
  • Think Cwhis Wusso's a weetawd?
  • Not too confident in Mike Francesa's sauces?
  • Like the Yankees, but think Michael Kay is a dummy?
We'll then you won't believe what I have in store for you!!1!!1!

[Turns off infomercial voice]

There are good alternatives to ESPN radio (or WFAN) out there, even if they don't stream all day long. The Bronx View podcast gives you about an hour of quality objective Yankee analysis roughly every two weeks during the offseason and once a week or more from April to October. Scott and Ian are two guys who can talk intelligently about all things Yankees without annoying you with the kind of ego it takes to usurp a prime-time sports talk radio slot.

The latest edition includes analysis of what Andy Pettitte means to the rotation, reactions to Joe Torre's new book, projecting the AAA rotation, and a 15 minute segment on Brad Ausmus. (One of those is not true).

The best part?

No commercials!

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Thurman Munson (#15)

Thurman Munson was the embodiment of the core values of a Yankee catcher. He was pugnacious, rugged, could hit and play great defense, had a mean-ass mustache, and hated the Red Sox. Boy, did he hate the Red Sox. I'd like to think that if he was alive today, old Squatty Body would have rather liked the name of this blog.

The above sequence is from a game at Fenway, on August 1st, 1973. Stick Michael was up to bat in the top of the 9th with the score tied, and failed to make contact on a suicide squeeze, unleashing Munson down the third baseline towards Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. Munson led with a left forearm and Pudge went low, sending the two tumbling over home plate. Fisk held onto the ball, Munson was out, and they quickly got to their feet and began exchanging blows.

Perhaps the seeds of Munson's hatred of Boston were planted, like mine, in the time he spent there as a young man. In the summer of 1967, Joe "Skippy" Lewis, manager of the Chatham A's of the Cape Cod Baseball League offered Munson a spot as their starting catcher, along with a side job with the Chatham Parks Department for $75 a week. In 39 games that summer, Munson hit .420 as a catcher, .65 higher than any other other player in the league, regardless of position. He was named MVP of the CCBL and the award for the batting title each year is named in his honor.

It was during his time on the Cape that he was discovered by the Yankees. They selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 1968 Amateur Draft, gave him a $75,000 signing bonus and a $500 a week salary.

Munson made his debut in 1969 but appeared in only 26 games. In 1970, he won Rookie of the Year, netting 96% of the vote after batting .302/.386/.415. While remaining solid behind the plate, Munson had two years in 1971 & '72 where he was above league average, but unspectacular offensively.

Although it was not recognized as such by the MVP voting, 1973 was Munson's finest year behind the plate. He raked 29 doubles, 20 homers and hit .301/.362/.487, good for a 141 OPS+. '73 also began Thurm's three year Gold Glove and six year All-Star appearance streaks. In each of those six years, Munson placed in the MVP voting and played 144 games or more behind the plate.

He was named Yankee captain in 1975, claiming a post that Lou Gehrig vacated with his farewell speech in 1939. In 1976, Munson clocked 17 homers, 27 doubles, drove in 105 runs and was rewarded with the AL MVP, receiving 18 out of a possible 24 first place votes. A testament to his hard-headed, competitive nature, that year he stole 14 bases, but was caught 11 times. In fact, over his career, he was actually caught more than he was successful, stealing only 48 bases in 98 tries.

Munson was behind the plate for Ron Guidry's legendary 1978 season, where he went 25-3 with a 1.74ERA. Guidry later said about Munson, "I went through the whole year never shaking him off one time. He always knew when to say something, and when to shut up."

Munson had three children who lived with his wife in Canton, Ohio, where he grew up. He often grew homesick and decided to take flying lessons to make it easier to commute back and forth to see his family. On August 2nd, 1979, he was practicing take-offs and landings at Akron-Canton Regional Airport, when he met his end.

On the approach to the runway, Munson dropped the flaps, but waited too long before giving the plane more power, which resulted in the Cessna Citation I/SP coming up well short of the intended target. Munson had failed to fasten his shoulder strap, was paralyzed during the initial impact and trapped inside the cockpit when the plane finally came to a rest after rolling and sliding for over 500 feet. His flight instructor, David Hall and his friend Kenny Anderson attempted to free Munson, but the plane caught on fire and they were forced to retreat. His last words were "Get me out of here! Please get me out!" A tragic and powerless cry for help, that in no way reflected the way he lived. He was 32 years old.

When someone dies young, they are enshrined in our minds in their youth. There is a different legacy left than when we watch a person decline with age, grow frail and forget people's names. We see the sad portrayal of modern day Muhammad Ali, but only remember the dynamic vibrance of a prime Jimi Hendrix.

Munson's number was retired immediately after his death and an empty locker with the number 15 was kept in the Yankees Clubhouse through the closing of the Old Stadium. Written by George Steinbrenner, his plaque in Monument Park reads:
Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next ... Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.
Like Don Mattingly, the brevity of Munson's career will keep him out of the Hall of Fame, but that doesn't matter to Yankees fans, who have their own Hall of Fame in left field.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The DSRL Must Die

I hate advertising. I watch everything on TV with my DVR trailing behind so I can fast forward through commercials. If I catch up, I'll pause or mute it. I think I'm allergic to ads. Stick around here long enough and I might even tell you how to pause two channels at once on your DVR and watch two NFL games airing concurrently on different channels.

As you may or may not have noticed, there are no ads on this blog. That is partially because we would literally make no money off them, and partially because online advertising is an exercise in futility. Think of how much time you spend online, and then think about how many things you've purchased via an online advertisement. You've probably bought plenty of stuff on the interwebs, but chances are you knew where you were going, or got there through Google.

Anyway, when I see terrible advertising, it bothers me even more than most people. The online stream of ESPN radio has some epically awful ads, probably because the companies who can afford legitimate ads buy spots on traditional radio. Also ESPN probably sees the internet feed as a potential second revenue stream and isn't about to give that away for free to the companies paying for regular radio spots. I usually take my earphones out when the commercials come on, but sometimes I get focused on what I'm doing, and one of the awful ads sneaks into my brain. If you listen to ESPN radio online, you'll probably recognize some of the following gems:
  • Matthew McConaughey talking about the "Land Of Lean Beef"

  • A spot that asks "Do you know what the difference between all the millionaires out there and YOU is?" [Hmmm... Hundreds of thousands of dollars?] "They decided they WANTED to become millionaires"

  • "Do you were a career correction, or just some direction?" (in reference to working for the New York City department of corrections). [Just a thought, but if an employer has to advertise their openings in this economy, you probably don't want that job.]

  • Mike Golic talking about Dial for Men ("Maintenance For Your Mansuit") and calling "odor causing bacteria" the "most dangerous player on the field". [Just because you are advertising on sports talk radio doesn't mean everything has to be a fucking sports related analogy]

Now, I don't really like doing this all that much, because it is also related to a certain championship winning New York City athlete, but it is my duty as a the proprietor of a semi-obscenely named sports blog. The Double Stuf [sic] Racing League (NSFW: Obnoxious Music) must be prodded to death with a fireplace stoker in the hottest portion of hell.

I have no problem with Mike & Mike. If you like a show that will put you back to sleep in the morning, give you only the mainstream opinion, and tell you absolutely nothing of import, I highly recommend theirs. But hearing Greeny and Golic talk about having a "lick race" makes Two Girls One Cup seem palatable.

See for yourself.

The worst part is that during the commercial, Greeny says he can beat Golic at a sport. Golic then asks if he's talking about chess or tennis, to which Greeny responds, "No, Golic, a REAL sport".

Yes, these two asshats, who make their living talking about actual fucking sports like football, baseball and basketball sold out so badly, that they are calling two people licking the filling off of a sandwich style chocolate cookie "a REAL sport". Nice work, I hope it wa$ worth it.

What's the fucking end game, guys? Is anyone on earth going to buy a package of Oreos and actually have a race to see who can lick the filling off faster? Oreos are kind of gross to begin with, even when you aren't watching adults eat them like they are six year-olds.

This one is on you, Nabisco. Decisions like these are the reasons our economy is in the shitter. Some retard actually came up with this idea, pitched to some pretty high level executives, and didn't get laughed out of the room? I will never understand this world.

Should Jeter Bat Leadoff?

Who should bat leadoff for the New York Yankees, Johnny Damon or Derek Jeter? Damon has occupied that position most of his Yankee career, while Jeter held the post earlier in his.

His relatively low OBP(.363) notwithstanding last year, Jeter has a higher career OBP than Damon. Wouldn’t it be wise to have the first batter with the higher OBP? You could give the extra AB to the player with the higher chance of extending a late inning rally.

Jeter grounded into 24 double plays last year (and 21 in 2007). Damon, a lefty who gets out of the box quicker, grounded into 4 (and has a career high of 13). Thus, more people will be on base for when the “meat” of the order comes up.

I think the best hitter on the team should bat 3rd. The best hitter on the Yankees is A-Rod. This would leave the lineup as Jeter/Damon/A-Rod/Teixeira. By virtue of this right/left/right/switch staggering, the Yankees are better protected from strategic bullpen management by opposing managers than they would if Jeter batted 2nd.

Below are Jeter’s career stats.

Batting leadoff -- .315/.389/.471 in over 2,100 at bats
Batting 2nd -- .316/.386/.459 in over 5,700 at bats

Per ESPN's splits for last three years (06-08):

Damon leading off an inning .290/.370/.442/.812 in 652 AB
Jeter leading off an inning .352/.402/.515/.920 in 344 AB

Based on these aspects, I think Jeter should lead off. To hell with tradition.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Whitey Ford (#16)

Whitey Ford grew up in Astoria, Queens and went on to spend his entire 18 year career in Pinstripes. Ford compiled a career record of 236-106 with a ERA of 2.75. Ford's 236 wins for the Bombers ranks as the most ever and his .690 winning percentage is the highest among all pitchers with at least 300 decisions. Ford was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1974 with his friend and teammate, Mickey Mantle.

The “Chairman of the Board” made his major league debut on July 1, 1950 and went on to win his first nine decisions en route to being named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year. In 1951 and 1952, Whitey left the team to serve in the Army during the Korean War and when he returned in 1953 joined a staff of Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Eddie Lopat.

Ford became the ace of the staff and in 1955 Ford went on to an 18-7 record while pitching 18 complete games with a 2.63 ERA. However, 1956 was an even better year – he was 19-6 with a 2.01 ERA. Whitey pitched well over 200 innings almost every season and never had an ERA over 3.24. He made the All-Star team eight times and was a six-time World Series Champion.

The Yankees won the pennant 11 times over his career and Ford won a record ten World Series games in addition to holding almost every other World Series pitching record. In Ford’s eight World Series losses, the offense provided an average of just 2.25 runs and were shut out twice.

Whitey was a small guy and didn’t throw the hardest but he controlled games with pin-point accuracy and earned his nickname for his ability to stay calm under pressure. Ford was one of many pitchers of his time to doctor baseballs and, according to Wikipedia, doctored a ball in the 1962 All-Star game to strike out Willie Mays. Ford and Mantle had amassed $800 in greens fees which the owner agreed to cancel if Ford could strike out Mays.

The same year Whitey was inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Yankees retired the number 16, and later dedicated a plaque in Monument Park to him which states Ford was “one of the greatest pitchers ever to step on a mound”.

In addition to being one of the greatest Yankees pitchers ever, he was also one of my father’s favorite Yankees (along with Mantle) and my first baseball glove was a Whitey Ford model given to me by my dad.

One of the highlights of the final game at The Stadium was seeing Ford and Larsen scooping up dirt from the mound.

It would be tough to argue the Yankees ever had a starting pitcher as dominant, especially over such a long career. Though different in every aspect, let’s hope our new, larger lefty can approximate his regular season production, and maybe even win a few World Series games, like Whitey did.

Antonio Margarito: Humble Artisan

Would everyone leave Antonio Margarito alone? The guy had to rush from his second job as a craftsman, putting some finishing touches on a bathroom in Santa Monica, just to get to the Staples Center on Saturday night, which is why he looked so flat. He didn't have time to wash off his hands, which explains the "plaster like substance" found in his wraps.

The substance was found before the fight, so he was re-taped under the supervision of a boxing official. Then, coincidentally, the Tijuana Tornado got his ass handed to him by a 37 year old "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Boxing gloves weigh about 12 oz, and I'm guessing a handful of plaster is going to increase that pretty significantly.

The real loser of that fight was Miguel Cotto, who beat Mosely in November 2007, but lost his WBO Welterweight title to Margarito in July.

That was Cotto's first career loss, and it looks a whole lot different after the revelation that Margarito was cheating. You might doubt whether Margarito used the plaster in his 11th round defeat of Cotto, but ask yourself this: Why would you win the Welterweight title and THEN start cheating?

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Dwight Gooden (#16)

When Doc Gooden played for the Yankees, he wore #11 in 1996 & 1997, and #17 when he returned in 2000. Obviously, he would have liked to wear #16, which he adorned while with the Mets, but it had already been retired in honor of Whitey Ford, who Cliff will pay tribute to later today.

Gooden burst on to the scene as a 19 year old in 1984, after destroying the Carolina League and leading the 1983 Lynchburg Mets to a 96-43 record, 10.5 games ahead of their next closest competitor. After jumping all the way from from High A-ball to the Big Show, he won the Rookie of the Year, finished second in the Cy Young voting, became the youngest All-Star in the history of the MLB, and struck out all three hitters he faced in the game.

His '85 season made his rookie campaign look pedestrian. Dr. K tossed 276 2/3 innings and the only time he had an ERA of over 2.00 was after his first start of the season. He won pitching's Triple Crown, leading the league in ERA (1.53), wins (24) and strikeouts (268). He threw 16 complete games, including two back to back CG shutouts in September in both of which, he got a no decision. That year the Mets won 98 games, but missed the playoffs.

When the Mets won the World Series in 1986, Gooden threw 250 regular season innings at a 2.84 ERA, won 17 games and made it back to his third All-Star game in three years as a pro. He didn't get the decision in any of the games he started that postseason, but in the NLCS against Houston, Doc went 10 innings and only gave up one run.

In December of that year, Gooden's legal troubles began, when he was arrested after being involved in a "full scale brawl" that took 20 police officers to contain. In Spring Training in 1987, Gooden tested positive for cocaine, agreed to enter a rehab center, and as a result didn't make his first start until June 5th. That didn't stop him from winning 15 games and finishing 5th in the Cy Young Voting.

Still only 23 years old in 1988, Gooden threw 248 more innings of a 3.19 ERA, picked up 18 wins and made another All-Star team. Unfortunately, his 1988 season might best be remembered by the game tying home run he gave up to Mike Scioscia in a game they eventually lost, leveling the NLCS at 2-2, instead of giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

After missing more than half of the '89 season (but still pitching effectively in his appearances), Gooden had another very solid season in 1990. He struck out 223 in 232 2/3 innings, finished 4th in the Cy Young voting, and even got some acknowledgment in the MVP race. On two terrible Mets teams in 1992 & 1993, Gooden threw over 200 innings to about a 3.50ERA twice, but picked up 10 & 12 wins respectively.

Perhaps it was his problems with substance abuse or the 1172 2/3 innings he threw from the ages of 19-23, but Gooden never regained his dominant form.

After signing with the Yankees in 1996, he threw a no-hitter on May 14th against the Mariners, which was unfortunately the equivalent of sinking a hole-in-one on the way to shooting an 85, and was left off the postseason roster.

He returned to the Yanks in 1997, threw only 108 1/3 innings, but managed to make the postseason roster, where he started Game 4 of the ALDS. Gooden left after 5 2/3 leading 2-1, but Mariano Rivera blew the save in the 8th inning. Despite appearing in 12, Doc never got the decision in a postseason game.

At George Steinbrenner's insistence, Gooden was added to the Yankees in the middle of the 2000 season, but didn't pitch against the Mets in the World Series, thereby summing up the anticlimactic nature of his career. Although he won 91 games by the age of 24, he ended his career with only 194.

Since he retired in 2001, Gooden has had more than his fair share of legal troubles, spending time in jail and rehab for DWI, cocaine use and violating probation. In 2006, he chose to do time as opposed to extending his probation in hopes that being in prison would finally help rid himself of the addictions that dragged down his career.

Gooden's story is simultaneously incredible and terrible. He had an ephemeral, meteoric rise at an impossibly young age. He also had an inescapable and tragic decline far too soon.

We all know people who have tussled with the demons of addiction and substance abuse. Here's to hoping Dr. K can summon "Lord Charles" and strike them out for good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pettitte's New Contract Breakdown

I just thought I would throw down the particulars of Pettitte's new contract for those interested. This information was borrowed (stolen) from Cot's Baseball Contracts which is an awesome site. The whole site is basically a breakdown of pretty much every player's contract from every team, including minor league contracts.

1 year/$5.5M (2009)

  • re-signed by NY Yankees as a free agent 1/26/09
  • $4.5M in performance bonuses: $0.5M each for 150, 160, 170 IP; $0.75M each for 180, 190, 200, 210 IP
  • $2M in roster bonuses: $0.1M for 120 days on active 25-man roster; $0.2M for 130 days; $0.25M each for 140, 150 days; $0.4M each for 160, 170, 180 days

Yankees, Cowboys Team Up

A tidbit from Hal Steinbrenner appearing on WFAN this afternoon at 1:05PM.

In a venture with Goldman Sachs, the two most hated teams in professional sports have joined together to create “Legends Hospitality Management.”

-Legends will run catering, retail merchandising and concessions in the new Yankee Stadium and Dallas Cowboys Stadium

-Will look to run concessions at other stadiums in future

Love them or hate them, notwithstanding their personnel management, the Jones/Steinbrenner families are the best businessmen in sports. This venture should provide both franchises with extra revenue. How do Giants fans feel about this?

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Keith Hernandez (#17)

I'm Keith Hernandez.

Well, not exactly. I'm Matt Laudato; I'm in my second year of law school, and I currently reside in the mecca of National League baseball that is Brooklyn. I live a few blocks from the building wherein Jackie Robinson signed his first Major League Baseball contract.

During my first summer in the BK, I caught the 2 train over to Flatbush for my obligatory pilgrimage to the former location of historic Ebbets Field - once the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and more recently, the inspiration for the Mets' new Citi (Taxpayer?) Field. Not that even the slightest hint of the stadium remains - a tree-obscured plaque on the plot's apartment building pays the only geographic homage - but I felt it my duty as a lifelong Mets fanatic to tip my cap to baseball's storied past.

You see, my fellow Brooklynites inherited the Mets as the trust fund to their collective rooting interest in 1962 when the Mets materialized up in Queens, while the Mets inherited the Brooklynites' beloved Dodgers' blue caps and pinstripes (the NY Giants lending their orange). Not to be cut out of the will, I inherited the Brooklyn Dodger fan base's notorious status as the long-suffered. "Wait till next year" became "You gotta believe," and I was born a tortured Mets fan through no fault of my own.

And now, here I am. Like Brendan, I am to provide the dissent to the majority's showering of Yankee praise; a sort of blogospheric system of checks and balances. Unlike Brendan, however, I don't have the luxury of two recent championship rings to stave my Yankee contempt- though I've honed my self-control considerably since moving so close to enemy territory. I'll do my best.

One thing we Mets and Yankee fans do have in common - especially if you're around my age - is that we both had near Hall of Fame caliber first basemen to emulate whilst we cut our teeth on the diamond in Little League. You guys had Donny Baseball, we had Keith Hernandez.

Though neither of those guys have yet gotten the nod to Cooperstown (they will, they have to), they surely taught us how, or at least inspired us to try and play good, fundamental ball. Hernandez was just unreal in the field: 11 consecutive Gold Gloves and such a strong and accurate throwing arm that even Mookie Wilson would relay to Hernandez on his throws home from center field. An MVP and a batting champ to boot, Hernandez served not only as a key component to the 1986 World Series Championship team, but as a beloved linchpin in franchise history.

And boy, can he talk. Having Keith in the booth is like having your favorite, inappropriate uncle narrate your family gatherings. When Keith's not eating ribs in the booth, enlightening us with Mad Men-esque views of women, discussing where he's going to dinner in a visiting city or explaining how his mustache precluded the need for eye-black, Keith is keeping the Mets players and fans honest.

The Spitter sure knows his baseball, and is not afraid to call out Reyes for doggin' it (which later spurred a confrontation between the two and the infamous "I was just doing my job, you should do yours" line) or defend a slumping Beltran from the fans' ire by pointing out his graceful, crucial defense. Sure, Keith's "When I was playing..." routine gets a bit tiresome every now and then, but at least his mouth diarrhea isn't as severe as Seaver's, and thankfully we have Gary and Ron to balance him out.

Kind of like my role on this blog, except I can't give free mustache rides.

Remember [Non-Sports]

I'm pretty sure yesterday was my first day without writing a post since New Year's. I wish it was because I stopped burning the candle from both ends for a day and finally got some sleep, or that I was away on a business trip.

Nope. Early last Wednesday morning, the world lost a good dude, and yesterday we said our goodbyes. My best friend's brother only had 29 years of this awesome thing we call life. He was one of the few people I know who liked music more than I do. Whether he was messing with Fruity Loops, playing the drums, or DJing I think he was at his happiest getting washed up in the sound waves of a thumping jam.

Besides being Yankee fans, we shared some other hobbies that I'm not going to mention in this space, but let's just say that yesterday morning, one of his best friends twirled one up using nothing but the finest, cut it in half, and while nobody was looking, slipped Dave a little something to camp on with St. Pete at The Pearly Gates.

It always seemed like you were searching for something, man. In a really abstruse and painful way for everyone else, you might have found it.

In the book Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer talks about how, by pushing himself to climb more and more dangerous mountain faces and "peering over the ledge of death", he had hoped to gain some amazing insight into life. DJ Dangerous Dave wasn't climbing actual mountains, but he certainly caught a couple glimpses of what was over that ledge.

You slept late, but were always up for a lively conversation. You had your problems, but who the fuck doesn't? It's just that usually, people get another chance.

Not sure if you liked this song or not, but it would take me all night to find something more appropriate.

"If you ever feel so sad,
And the whole world is driving you mad
Remember, remember, today

And don't feel sorry
'Bout the way it's gone
And don't you worry
'Bout what you've done

R.I.P. David Lawrence Sampson
[May 6, 1979-January 21, 2009]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pettitte To Return To Yankees!

The Yankees announced today that they signed Pettitte to a one-year deal. The AP says Pettitte is guaranteed $5.5MM and could reach $12MM with incentives.

This is great news for Yankees fans. Despite his horrendous August and September, Pettitte is a proven veteran and brings leadership to the staff--especially for Bronx newcomers CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. I stated last week that I would go as high as $10MM. Anything else I would have told the Hendricks Brothers to go fack themselves. $5.5MM guaranteed is not bad for a 4th/5th Starter. The Yankees can say that their opening day payroll was less than last year's. If it ends up higher, that is no fault of their own as Pettitte has met his incentives. I would imagine that the incentives include reaching 200 Innings--which was Pettitte's only real asset last season. Others probably include All Star game appearance, Cy Young and bonuses for each win over 15. Kudos to Cashman and the Pettitte camp for getting it right.

If he signs, Pettitte would join a projected starting rotation featuring CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. I will go to war with that rotation in the AL East.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Scott Brosius (#18)

Scott Brosius was only a Yankee from 1998-2001. However in his four seasons with the team he became a Pinstriped Hero. Every year he was on the team the Yankees won the AL Pennant. Not to mention the 3 World Series titles that came during those years…

Brosius arrived in the Bronx in 1998 from the Oakland Athletics in a trade that sent away one of most maligned Yankees ever, Kenny Rogers. Most Yankees fans were ecstatic to see Rogers sent away so anything that Brosius provided would be Sicilian gravy. In his first season with the club, Brosius provided a very generous helping of that said sauce — batting .300 with 19 HRs and 98 RBI. For his efforts he was named an All Star but most importantly to Yankees fans, he was the MVP of the 1998 World Series. Against the Padres, Scott hit .471, 2 HRs and 6 RBI. Both of these HRs can in Game 3 of the World Series and one of them was off of perennially choking closer Trevor Hoffman to give the Yankees a 3-0 Series lead.

Another memorable World Series moment provided by “Brosius The Ferocious” (obviously a John Sterling creation) occurred in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees down two runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Scott crushed a 1-0 B.H. Kim slider into the left-field seats of the Yankee Stadium to drive home Jorge Posada and tie the game. The previous night, when Brosius had went 0 for 2 against Kim, New York first baseman Tino Martinez launched a two-out, two-run home run to tie the game as well. It marked the first time in World Series history that this had ever occurred.

In four World Series appearances, Brosius had a .314 BA/.333 OBP/.529 SLG with 4 HRs and 13 RBI.

He was a slick fielding third baseman, a master of the bare-handed scoop for balls slicing down the third baseline. In 1999, he won the AL Gold Glove for his glovework at 3rd.

Brosius’ “clutchiferousness” is one of the reasons why current 3B Alex Rodriguez is maligned by Yankees fans. Fans could always count on the trusty but unsexy Brosius to plate a go ahead run or make a game-saving defensive play. Yet the sexy, regular season monster A-Rod cannot seem to buy a big play in October. If you ask me and most other Yankees fans, we would take Scott over A-Rod every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Coincidence or not, the Yankees have never been to a World Series with A-Rod manning the Hot Corner.

Brosius retired after the 2001 World Series and now is the head baseball coach at his alma mater Linfield College in Oregon. In 2005 he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. In 2007, he appeared at his first Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium. Hopefully he will become a mainstay in the future.

Thank you, Scott! We miss you!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Torre Confirms What Everyone Suspected

I can't imagine Joe Torre's new book is going to have too positive of an impact on his legacy as Yankee Manager.
Teammates frequently called Alex Rodriguez "A-Fraud," and the third baseman was obsessed over his rivalry with shortstop Derek Jeter, "The Yankee Years" reveals, according to the New York Daily News and New York Post.
Wait, what? You mean the thinly veiled fraudulence that shines through a TV screen like high beam xenon headlights coming towards you on a two lane road is evident to the people who spent all of spring training, the entire regular season and possibly one series in October with him?

Let's just say that a little nymph that dwells on one of his frosted tips told me where he was on New Year's Eve, he has a limp dick handshake and that despite his Dominican heritage he has the dancing skills of a UNIX programmer named Preston. He was wearing a fucking sweater even though he was celebrating south of the Tropic of Cancer but north of the Equator.

I want to like this guy, I swear. I've never booed him at the Stadium and probably never will. His 2007 was the stuff of legends. Um, .314/.422/.645 as a competent third baseman, 24 SB to only 4 CS, 54 HR, 31 2B and 156 RsBI (h/t FJM). Surreal. He's driven in over 100 runs in every single full season as a major leaguer except one (when he still earned an All-Star berth).

No matter what, we've got him for another 9 years; under no circumstances is he getting traded. He's a consistently incredible force behind the plate, solid in the field, but an unimaginable headcase. He's got a strange mix of cockiness and insecurity found only in Phil Helmuth, Oscar De La Hoya and other such very successful but transparently douchetastic phonies.

Really though... Wow, Joe Torre. I didn't think a tell-all book was in your future. Ironic that you once famously said to Michael Kay, "I don't need you to be Rona Barrett around here" in reference to the long time gossip columnist and now you are spilling your guts like a 13 year old girl. I'm guessing this means that there might still be a single digit number up for grabs in Monument Park?

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Aaron Boone (#19)

Uh, remember this?


Remember when the Yankees were invincible and the Red Sox were just a bunch of gagging choke artists trying to suck three dicks at once?



/regains composure

The night Aaron Boone singlehandedly caused a record 326 heart attacks and 114 suicides the the greater Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I was attending Bentley College, in Waltham. My college tenure (2002-2006) coincided with some of the fiercest skirmishes in the history of the Yankees vs. Red Sox version of the Hundred Years War.

We were sophomores and happened to be living in a dorm populated by almost all seniors because my freshman year roommate won the 2nd pick in the housing lottery. My roommate Kevin and I got together with a few other Yankees fans (Kristen, Katie, Allissa, you out there?) and watched it in our room.

When the Red Sox were winning 4-1 in the top of the seventh, a few Boston loving, lobstah cracking, Storrow Drive driving, Kelly's Roast Beef loving (btw there is no fucking way you "created the orignial roast beef sandwich"), Jim Koch blowing, Boston Stranglin', Reveeah Beach walking (America's first public beach, huh? THEY WERE ALL PUBLIC WHEN THE FUCKING NATIVE AMERICANS LIVED HERE YOU RACIST OPRESSORS), yellow rain slicker wearing, NESN watching, chowdah gulping, Bernie and Phyl's shopping, Tia's on the Waterfront sweating, Tequila Rain dancing, Who's On First patrons who also happened to be motherfucking giant shiteating, fuckfaced fish mongers from fackin' Sawgus, Walpole, Reading, Taunton or some other godforsaken shithole, thought it would be a good idea to bang on everyone's doors and scream unintelligible shit.

Sorry, I lost it again for a second there.

It was before the ubiquity of the DVR and pretty much everyone on campus was watching the game at the exact same time. If you weren't tuned in, you probably still had a pretty good idea of what was going on, just by the collective audible reactions echoing throughout the dorms. It was fucking electric, and I can't imagine a baseball game ever getting to that place again.

The Red Sox have obviously since smartened up and became the Yankees pimp in recent years, so I guess there could technically be an epic playoff rematch, but I highly doubt it's going to come down to an 11th inning, Game 7, walk-off home run by a guy who never slugged .500 over a full season.

When it happened, everyone in the room went from deadly stoic to deliriously ecstatic in one swing of the bat. Being that most of the student body is from New England, we were one of the few rooms going absolutely insane, literally jumping around like a bunch of four year olds on a trampoline for the first time.

Because of that Perfect Storm, the aforementioned Matt Damon idolizing, NKOTB fawning, dock workers ended up eating a giant bag of shit for their premature celebration while the other Wellesley living, Nantucket vacationing, Tea Party having, Charles River trail running, Jordan's Furniture investing, Volvo driving, Phillips Exeter grads cried into the J. Crew sweaters draped over their shoulders and about 200,000 pink Sox hats got put back in the closet until the next October.

Whatever Sox fans, you won in 2004, con-fucking-gradulations, but Johnny Damon's 2nd inning grand slam could never hold a candle to Aaron-Fackin-Boone. Admit it. You were still worried until that last out was recorded. You will always be our collective bitches. Why don't you have a couple of glasses of Jameson and go for a drive?

For fuck's sake, can the season start already? Shovel off the Zeusdamn fields. I'll play!

Did I mention I hate Boston?

[Ed. Note: I could never have come up with all these Boston stereotypes by myself, and thus enlisted pretty much everyone I know that spend some time out there, including my sister, Joe, Kevin, Will and Cliff]

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Dave Righetti (#19)

Dave Righetti a.k.a. “Rags” was a Yankee starter from 1981-1983 and reliever from 1984-1990. He was the first pitcher in MLB history to both pitch a no-hitter and also lead the league in saves in his career. Dennis Eckersley later matched the feat.

In the strike shortened season of 1981, Rags won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and led the Yanks to the World Series where they eventually fell to the Dodgers.

His most memorable moment in Pinstripes was in the Bronx on July 4, 1983 when he gave owner Geoerge Steinbrenner a no hitter against the Boston Red Sox for his birthday. It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and the first by a Yankee left-hander since 1917. Red Sox slugger Wade Boggs was the final out after he struck out on a slider. The game is now a mainstay on the YES Network.

Because of a glut of starting pitchers in the Yankees rotation, in 1984 The Big Ragu was moved to the bullpen where he replaced Hall of Famer Goose Gossage as closer. In his 7 years in the Yankees pen, he averaged 32 saves per season and was named an All-Star in 1986 and 1987. In 1986, his 46 saves set a MLB record for the most saves in a single season. This record is still the AL record for most saves in a single season by a left hander.

Following the 1990 season, Righetti signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. While with the Giants in 1991, he broke Sparky Lyle's major league record for left-handers of 238 career saves; a record that stood until 1994 when John Franco broke it. Dave is now the pitching coach for the Giants. Perhaps someday he will be back in the Bronx in that role.

If not, thank you for the memories and YES content!