Saturday, January 31

Pete Rose Heartfelt Contrition Award of the Day

Aaron Boone, on violating his contract and blowing out his knee: "I've beaten myself up a lot over it. But at the same time I'm fine."

Friday, January 30

Sold! Frank McCourt (no, the other Frank McCourt--"Angela's Ashes" didn't do THAT well) buys the Dodgers for $430 million, or $230 million less than John Henry shelled out for the Sox. That says something about the state of LA fandom.

Nice to have Murdoch out of the ownership game.

Thursday, January 29

Where have you gone, Mike Pagliarulo...

(apologies to Messrs. Simon and Garfunkel)
It’s hard to argue with SF’s analysis of the would-be Pudge contract (note: it could go to an even-more-ludicrous 5 years, $50 million). You have to assume that the calculus here is aimed beyond on-field performance. The Tigers are not likely to capture lightning in a bottle with the addition of Pudge, as the Marlins did last year. That said, they do have a brand new and largely empty stadium that needs filling, and bringing him in is a signal to fans (in the cheap seats and the corporate suites) and business partners that there is some kind of commitment to winning on the part of the franchise. The alternative is a prolonged and potentially unrecoverable slide from public favor and financial stability (see the Brewers). But as you note, aging catchers are not necessarily the most sound strategic investment.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have acquired the rights to journeymen infielder Tyler Houston, which puts the current crop of 3rd base wannabes at: Cairo, Wilson, Almonte, Houston, and Henson (plus—thanks, for the offer, but no thanks—Gary Sheffield). ESPN’s Rob Neyer speculates that a trade might be in the offing for Adrian Beltre. We’ll be happy w/ a solid fielder who can move a runner now and then.
If accurate, reports that Pudge Rodriguez is closing in on a $40M deal with the Tigers show one or more of several things:

1) The Tigers owners are morons, overbidding against noone (see Hicks, Tom)
2) Scott Boras is a mad genius, able to extract blood from a rock.
3) Accusations of collusion may be overrated

The Tigers are clearly counting that Pudge is the guy who can bring Maroth, Cornejo, et. al into prime time. But, if he ends up advising them from the DL (reasonable expectation), and they can't insure the contract (which, for an aging catcher has got to be difficult to do) then this goes down as one ridiculous signing, another example of very poor risk management.

Baseball owners may be thugs, but NHL ownership requires a special kind of thug!

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis for one week and the team has been fined $100,000 following an incident between Leonsis and a fan.

Jason Hammer told The Washington Post that Leonsis placed his hands on his neck and tossed him down to the ground after the Capitals' home loss to Philadelphia.

Leonsis, a vice chairman of America Online, later apologized to Hammer, a 20-year-old Caps season-ticket holder who had taunted the owner.

Another famous scribe apparently tuning in to the missives at YFSF! They have no shame...

Sports of The Times: Yankees Should Think Big About A-Rod

Tuesday, January 27

While a certain ESPN columnist was noting MLB's progress on globalization over the weekend, this article was published under the sports news radar in the international section of the NYT:

"Low-Wage Costa Ricans Make Baseballs for Millionaires"

As Tim Rogers reports, Rawlings, baseball's official baseball concessionaire, produces its balls at a plant in Costa Rica where workers are paid roughly $2750 per year, or 30 cents for each ball manufactured (retail price: $14.99). Temperatures in the plant can reach 95 degrees, and repetitive stress injuries are, according to a local physician, common (Rawlings denies this). Rawlings pays no taxes and imports materials for the manufacturing process duty free. The article noted the average salary of the (unionized) MLB player is over $2 million. Rawlings revenues from baseballs are over $30 million.

Low as they may be, Rawlings wages are (barely) above Costa Rican minimum wage, and its factory is the only significant employer in a town that is otherwise in catastrophically bad shape. So the workers are, not surprisingly, grateful for their work and happy with the jobs.

Read the article in full at: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/international/americas/25COST.html?ex=1076065723&ei=1&en=c2e0186c83ff2d66

You forgot the last part:

Pete Rose: look on face when Bud rightfully denies him reinstatement again: priceless.
And I thought authors were supposed to autograph books as a courtesy....

Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars, retail: $24.95
Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars, autographed: $79.95
Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars, personalized autograph: $99.95

Monday, January 26

A comment? Let's just say YF wishes injury on no one, but the simple reality is that the news that Aaron Boone will not be on the field for the Yankees for the foreseeable future comes as a great relief. A case of addition by subtraction.

It's a shame that Joe Randa, a YF favorite who had been a free agent this winter, is now off the market. He would have fit in nicely. As for moving Derek to third...well, we're happy with him at short and A-Rod out of danger in Texas.

This on the matter from Yankees.com:


Aaron Boone may miss the entire 2004 season after suffering a knee injury -- possibly a torn ACL --playing basketball last week. "I can confirm that the Yankees have been notified by his representatives that third baseman Aaron Boone suffered an injury to his left knee while playing basketball," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

"We are currently evaluating the extent of the injury and expect to solicit multiple opinions before providing a complete diagnosis."
Or, could this be the opening the Evil Empire needs to slot in Jeets to third, acquire A-Rod, hence stealing all the off-season thunder? Or am I just a mad, baked-beans-on-the-brain conspiracy theorist?

Drew Henson in the house!!!

ESPN.com - MLB - Yanks' hole at 3rd: Boone's possible ACL tear
Good points. My point, or rather, my belief, is that if Rose's status is reconsidered, then so should Jackson's, Weaver's, etc. I don't believe that Rose's status ought to be changed, just as I don't believe that Jackson's should either. But, if Rose gets reconsidered, so should the others. I just want a little consistency.
The sad reality that players like Joe Jackson--or in the 19th century, Joe Devlin--were not given the opportunity to make pennance and return to the game does not, imho, mean that no opportunity for redemption should be offered to modern players. The world and the game have changed. If there is some injustice in the case of Jackson, aren't we just compounding the problem by holding new players to the same standard? Also, let's face the fact that many old-time ballplayers were gamblers. Cap Anson certainly was. Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb were also known to bet on the game, but their infractions were brushed under baseball's collective carpet. The historical record does not provide any clear precedent here.

Sunday, January 25

Interesting post, YF. It's going to take me some time to digest and formulate my disagreements (ha ha), but at first glance I think we are on the same page on many items here. I have to sink into Stark's column, but I have a few questions and thoughts (and forgive me if these are answered in that column, I will get to reading it soon), in no particular order:

1. In re: attendance. Are the calculations made as a percentage based on capacity, or on pure number attendance? There's a big difference between the two, and I would love to know what MLB's trends are in both categories before assessing the grade.

2. Regarding "on-field play": I am not sure how to qualify this. Certainly there seem to be more great players now - internationalism has done wonderful things for the game. But for every Ichiro there's a Sammy who has a cloud of illigitemacy floating above his head. The testing for steroids is a joke, and when about 60 players test positive with no effect (MLB's policy is an embarrassing joke) the cloud gets bigger. Also, for every Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez there are four or five Mike Maroths, the pitching talent in baseball is super-thin, expansion has forced premature call-ups (and by extension, horrible injuries) for too many players not ready for prime time, and the lack of oversight of the umpires along with lesser pitchers has made too many games tedious, sometimes unbearable. Plus, there is still a DH. So, my grade, like yours, is not quite as generous as Stark's.

3. Owner unanimity: Not sure why this would even be a gradeable category. No commissioner will ever get a "unanimous" set of Owner opinions, nor should one ever want one. Owner differences are good for the game, not bad, they help distill large market/small market issues, they even help expose some owners as hypocrites or gentlemen, depending on the situation. Frankly, the only time I want owner unanimity is when they are agreeing on a labor package to avoid the suspension of the game, not to lock players out. On this front, I can't offer an assessment, I think it's a fruitless task to aim for any kind of consensus by the owners on almost any issue.

4. Where do you stand on all those others who have violated baseball's cardinal rule, the only one posted on every clubhouse door, who can't offer penance, who died before MLB was enough of an entertainment industry to be able to offer them hypothetical high-profile socially redemptive front-office or PR positions in order to cleanse them of their sins? Where do they fit in? Rose should remain forever banned, his storied efforts and all those dirty uniforms in the HOF are surely enough to carry him into the game's long history and our collective memory for ages. But enshrinement into the Hall? No, not ever.

More later, but I have to get back to the kitchen - got a braise going that needs some attention.
L'affaire Rose:

It's always nice to see a baseball book at the top of the bestseller charts--we are a fan base that reads!--but it's hard to evince any real enthusiasm when the author is Pete Rose, and the work in question is such a shameless amalgam of opportunistically deluded self-pity.

Like SF, I stand firmly in the camp that calls for Rose's continued ban from the game. Rose committed baseball's ultimate sin and he committed it knowing the consequences (even if he did not expect that he was subject to them). His accomplishments are duly recorded in baseball's record books and in the historical exhibits at the Hall of Fame. Enshrinement is not warranted.

I do, however, differ with SF in this: if Rose were to truly come clean, enter and stay in an additiction program, and somehow give back to the game for a prolonged probationary period, then I would think some form of return should be allowed (Hall of Fame election; coaching; etc). America is a land of redemption. To help him in this recovery, MLB might offer him some kind of salaried position that would allow him to clear his debts and live comfortably in exchange for public service. Any managerial position, however, should remain permanently off the table. Of course, this is all predicated on behavior from Rose for which he seems constitutionally unprepared.

Stark on Selig:

In an effort to come to grips with Bud Selig's legacy, Jayson Stark has used his latest ESPN column for a "report card" style review of the commissioner's performance since his rise to that position more than a decade ago. The review is essentially mixed; in the end Selig receives more positive grades than negative ones, but the tilt is nonetheless critical. Still, YF has serious qualms about both the method of analysis and the result at which Stark has arrived.

The scorecard system recalls that tabloid trope of assigning a grade to every position on a team at the beginning of a season, and then averaging them all out for the team's "overall grade." The problem is, teams don't really add up that way, the best example being the 1998 Yankees--they had few "A" positions but were, collectively, great. More to the point, Stark has decided to award Selig credit for all those achievements that have taken place under his reign. As he writes, "If you're the guy in charge when big stuff goes down, it goes on your permanent record. You get the cheers. You get the boos." That’s fine to a point, but a far more useful method is to examine the commissioner’s specific role in events—did he contribute positively or negatively, did they happen because of or in spite of his actions, would there have been a different outcome with different leadership?

Stark’s grading is as follows:
-On field play: plus
-Schedule: plus
-Attendance & ballparks: plus
-Globablization: plus
-Labor: minus
-Style & image: minus
-Owner unanimity: plus
-"Milwaukee": minus

Overall, that’s five pluses against just three minuses. To my mind these categories seem arbitrary (they certainly should not have equal weight) and I have serious reservations about his conclusions. Let’s look at them more closely:

-On field play. Selig gets his "plus" here as a credit for implementing the wild-card playoff system. I’m a big fan of this system (even if it could use some minor adjustments), so I’m inclined to agree on that score. But Stark does not mention the fact that several teams have become perennial doormats (including Selig’s Bewers!), there is a continued steroid problem (or at least the perception thereof), and umpiring is inconsistent (and the League’s efforts to install the dubious Questec system have been heavy-handed and poorly received). Some (SF) believe the overall level of play is poor. (I disagree on that score).

-Schedule. The unbalanced schedule and interleague play are both positives for me, though there may be a bit too much of both at this point. In any event, this category hardly deserves equal weight with labor relations when considering the commissioner’s job performance. Nevertheless, Selig does deserve a good deal of credit here.

-Attendance & Ballparks. This is where Stark, IMHO, is most misguided in his analysis. Selig here gets credit for baseball’s attendance boom in the 1990s and early 2000s. But average attendance has never reached the peaks it had back in the early 1990s before the strike (more on this later) ended that season and Selig cancelled the World Series. And that’s even with all of those new stadiums, Cal’s streak, and the consecutive McGwire/Sosa/Bonds HR derbies. The cost of attending baseball games is ridiculously high. And while several fine new ballparks have been constructed, the economics of these parks have been unduly placed on the public. And now we’re seeing that a new stadium doesn’t even guarantee a decent team or decent attendance. That Selig’s own family is under investigation for the Miller Park fiasco is instructive on this point. Finally, at a time when baseball should be solidifying itself as America’s number one game, it seems to be losing ground to other sports and leagues, the tawdry NFL in particular.

-Globalization. Yes, baseball has expanded its overseas presence in Selig’s tenure, and there are more nationalities in the game than ever before. Minority hiring is improving (though there's a lot of work to be done). This is all positive, and Selig deserves credit. But let’s not turn a blind eye to the dark side here: exploitation of Latin players, especially through the very dubious baseball "academies" set up to recruit Latin youth. And what of the ever shrinking numbers of African-Americans playing the game? MLB needs to reconnect with America’s inner cities.

-Labor. Labor negotiations are the heart of the commissioner’s responsibilities, and on this count Selig’s tenure has been a failure. A World Series was cancelled, and despite the 2002 agreement staving off another work stoppage, the animosity between players and owners is as strong as ever, with new accusations of collusion in the air.

-Style & Image. This is really a question of integrity. The commissioner is theoretically an honest broker between players and owners, and an objective steward for the game. The public has never been able to look at Selig, an owner, as an honest broker. He will forever be associated with work stoppages and accrimony between owners and players. As an aside, his handling of L’affaire Rose has been anything but nimble.

-Owner Unanimity. Another category where I simply disagree with Stark. The owners are as divided as they have ever been. If Selig has managed to cajole certain concessions/agreement from the group, there remains a massive unbridged gulf between the large and small market owners.

-Milwaukee. Obviously, the conflicts of interest in owning and serving as commissioner are enormous. And, as Stark notes, Selig’s small-market disposition has been anything but positive for the game at large.

So, clearly, my version of Selig's card is quite different than Stark's.∞

Friday, January 23

Read this (from today's Times) and ask the following questions:

1. How stupid is Pete Rose?
2. Why should MLB spend more than two nanoseconds considering this guy for reinstatement?

Nowhere in the story does it say that Rose is speaking about the possible negatives associated with gambling, about how it has adversely affected his life. His visit to Foxwoods is a money grab, simply put. He has to be all-time stupid (is there a Hall of Fame for that?) to not see how this would negatively impact his reinstatement bid. As far as I am concerned, that's just fine - keep on keepin' on, Pete, and stay the hell away from Cooperstown.

Rose said that when he went to the James Toney-Evander Holyfield fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas last October, it was the only time he had been to a casino when he was not paid for speaking or signing autographs. "As a retired player who does corporate appearances and memorabilia shows, who pays the best in this country? Casinos," Rose said on Jan. 9. "I don't care if it's Foxwoods, Tunica, Biloxi, Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Every time I go there, I'm getting a check."

MacDonald would not reveal how much Rose was being paid for the meet-and-greet event, citing Foxwoods's policy of protecting the privacy of entertainers and athletes with whom it has agreements. MacDonald said the casino purchased several hundred copies of Rose's book and that the selected gamblers would receive a signed book and the chance to mingle with Rose.

"Pete should be good," MacDonald said. "He's an entertaining speaker and I think people will enjoy him."

Thursday, January 22

George W. Bush: Statesman, Sportsman, Gourmet

Which of the following did Dubya tell a patron of the Mexican Teepee restaurant yesterday, where he was dining with D-Back owner Jerry Colangelo and Angel owner Arte Moreno:

A: "It's time for labor and management to come together."
B: "We really need to rethink that antitrust exemption."
C: "Economic exploitation of the public must end."
D: "Go buy some nachos."

We think you can guess the answer.

Meanwhile, 42 million over 4 years for Halladay. Please excuse YF while I go out and work on my splitter...

Tuesday, January 20

Not much blogging from this end - too much invested in the glorious Super Bowl run-up from the Pats. Go team!

Saturday, January 17

It's been a long, long time since the Brewers were a real Major League team.


Friday, January 16

Hey, I think if we pitch in a couple of hundred bucks each, we can test our prognostication/management skills on real major league team!

ESPN.com - MLB - Sale Brewing: Selig's family to begin selling team

Thursday, January 15

Yes, I am now back from the Raj. I see that in my absence Clemens has unretired, Dubya's heading for Mars, Stephon is a Knick, and Britney has been married AND divorced. So much to digest.

As for bats and balls, India is mad mad mad for cricket. On a weekend afternoon in Bombay, there's not a street in the city that is not colonized by young bowlers and batsmen. The Maidans (the city's central parks) are so crammed with both children and adults playing the sport that you can barely see the ground. I imagine New York was something like this in the 1920s and 30s, with kids playing stickball on street corners. Of the 20 or so television stations, 3 basically run the sport 24/7. The international "test" match with Australia last week (a draw) was the talk of the nation. We have A-Rod and Pedro, they've got Tendulkar and Kumble. Wicked googlies indeed.
Welcome back, YF. No need for you to give back any Humvee, however.

Monday, January 12

Welcome back, Roger.

And give back the Humvee, you asshole.

Saturday, January 3

Required reading, a truly great piece of baseball journalism.

Boston.com / Sports / Baseball / Red Sox / How the A-Rod negotiations ended with Red Sox shut out
Buzz floating that Pete Rose admits he bet on baseball in his new autobiography. My two cents: so what? Rose deserves his banishment, and an admission of his past sins should have no bearing on his standing. If Selig uses such a mea culpa as a means to commute Rose's sentence, then shame on him. Since when does such an admission undo past sins? And how about all those players unable to "admit" their failings (i.e. Joe Jackson) via a mass-marketed autobiography? Rose should remained banned, hopefully for all time, admission or not. If Selig and MLB can't set and then enforce their own standards and, in this case, constructively send a message to all players about gambling on the game, then who will?

Thursday, January 1

As YF trots around India two weeks from even peeking at the blog, I couldn't help but post the following re: Wells bolting from his verbal promise to the Yankees for the warm climes of San Diego:

"It looks like he's going to do to us what he did to Arizona," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said of Wells yesterday. "What comes around, goes around, I guess."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the ethics of either one Mr. Wells or his employer, eh? Does the Brian Cashman deathwatch start now?

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