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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Reminder: Pitch:Talks on Baseball is tonight!

Reminder: Squawker Jon and I will at the PITCH: TALKS ON BASEBALL event at BB King's in Times Square this evening. There are still tickets available. Also, Ken Rosenthal was recently announced as one of the participants for the event. Anyhow, here are the baseball writers who will be there, and here is how to buy tickets. See you there!

Pete Abraham, Boston Globe (Moderator)
Matthew Cerrone, Metsblog
Joel Sherman, New York Post
Tyler Kepner, New York Times
Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated
Adam Rubin, ESPN
Sweeny Murti, WFAN
Buster Olney, ESPN
Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports
January 14, 2015
Showtime @ 7:30pm
Doors Open @ 6pm

Friday, December 26, 2014

Squawker media alert: Listen to me on the radio at 3:30 p.m. today

I will be squawking hot stove Yankee baseball with Mike Lindsley's In the Cell With ML on Syracuse's The Score 1260 at 3:30 p.m. today. If you are in the Syracuse area, you can listen to me on 1260 AM on the radio. If not, check out the station's web site and listen to me there. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This $250 ticket contest is causing a Rukkus!

Subway Squawkers is celebrating the new year by teaming up with our buddies over at sports ticket search engine, Rukkus, to get you Yankees and Mets tickets for free. Want to see the Yankees play the Sox? The Mets play the Phillies? How about tickets to the subway series itself? No matter what you're looking for, we'll get you to the game. Click here to learn more! The contest runs until January 2.

"Pitch: Talks on Baseball" is coming to B.B. King's next month

Just wanted to let our readers know about this upcoming hot stove event. Mark your calendars! Looking forward to seeing this.
Pete Abraham, Boston Globe (Moderator)
Matthew Cerrone, Metsblog
Joel Sherman, New York Post
Tyler Kepner, New York Times
Jay Jaffe, Sports Illustrated
Adam Rubin, ESPN
Sweeny Murti, WFAN
Buster Olney, ESPN
January 14, 2015
Showtime @ 7:30pm
Doors Open @ 6pm

PITCH: Talks On Baseball, a new speaker series about baseball, today announces the full lineup of baseball insiders for its first scheduled US event in NYC on January 14, 2015 at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. Launched in Toronto in 2014, PITCH: Talks On Baseball connects diehard baseball fans with sports insiders by hosting informed and entertaining discussions on all aspects of the game.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What the media misses in the latest A-Rod shenanigans

Would you take diet advice from Cousin Yuri?
So there was some actual big Alex Rodriguez coming out this week. The Miami Herald revealed that A-Rod played "Let's Make a Deal" with the feds in January, and that he admitted in a statement to doing performance enhancing drugs.

Newsflash -- in the baseball world, drug dealers may be used to out their addicts, but in the real world, those addicts are used to put the dealers behind bars. Obvious statement, but something a certain I-Team has had a hard time grasping.

The two things that fascinated me about Alex's statement were these things:

1) That A-Rod supposedly passed a PED test by using midstream urine. If this is true, then what does that say about MLB's testing system? This seems like a huge loophole to me. Shouldn't people in the media be looking into this? (Personally, I think the reason A-Rod passed is because Tony Bosch was selling him more snake oil than substance, but I still think MLB ought to have looked into this; Bosch himself has claimed the midstream story in the past.)

2) That A-Rod got diet tips from a fat guy. According to the Herald's story:
According to Rodriguez’s statement to DEA agents, in summer 2010 he had gained some weight and was experiencing some “problems” with injuries to his knee. He wanted to lose five to 10 pounds. 
Sucart, a man of considerable girth, told him he himself had lost some weight with the help of a South Florida “doctor.” Sucart said the man — he didn’t name him — could help Rodriguez get into better shape.
“Sucart told Rodriguez that the doctor was a smart guy and a guru,” the DEA reports said. “Rodriguez stated that Sucart was very aggressive and persistent about Rodriguez meeting the doctor.” 

Okay, I know A-Rod is pretty stupid on the way the world works, but this takes the cake.

Why in the world would a professional athlete known for being a fitness fanatic take diet advice from a fat person? Look at the photo from Cousin Yuri's arrest this summer. Not exactly slim and trim. Heck, I'm not exactly slim and trim myself, but I sure wouldn't take diet advice from somebody with Cousin Yuri's physique. Why would A-Rod? Is he really that dumb?

 * * *

Also love the media's handwringing about Alex Rodriguez's latest brouhaha in the news yesterday, as if having him come back to sully the pinstripes is something that must never happen. The Daily News' Mike Lupica sez that the Yankees need to make him an offer to get him to go away. (Um, Mikey, unless that offer has $61 million in it, A-Rod is gonna go all Dreamgirls "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" with the Yanks.)

Bob Nightengale of USA Today claims that nobody wants A-Rod back and whines:"Yet, as much as want to hide from Rodriguez, we can't stop hearing or talking about the man who betrayed anyone who believed in him." Of course. It's called increased page views, baby. And don't tell me that the media doesn't love talking about this -- it beats writing about the rest of this snoozeworthy Yankees team.

And the New York Times' Juliet Macur has a really dumb piece in which she says, "I feel sorry for the Yankees" because of this Miami Herald story revealing that he fessed up on steroids to the feds:
Poor Yankees. This past season, the franchise with enough World Series rings to bejewel a small army failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. For a team whose fans expect championships on a steady basis, this little drought might as well be 119 years. It’s a solemn time for the Yankees, and they need some peace and quiet to reflect, and to figure out how to win again.
Rodriguez didn’t get that memo. Basically, he has returned playing the cymbals, ready to put on the pinstripes again for a team that needs no part of him or his noise but that now has to deal with a whole new set of drug revelations involving the onetime slugger.
1. Brian Cashman is most likely doing the Snoopy Dance over this story. Why? Because talking about A-Rod means less talk about the poorly constructed team he has run into the ground.

2. Macur doesn't seem to comprehend that this story is based on something Rodriguez did in January, and he had nothing to do with this being leaked. So her dopey cymbals analogy makes zero sense here.

3. Even a severely diminished A-Rod is still better than most of the current Yankees -- his 2013 .771 OPS was a better number than every single Yankee starter last year!

At any rate, I am sure Cashman is glad A-Rod is back clanging those cymbals, distracting everybody in the media who might dare to ask what his actual plan on bringing a championship to the Bronx is. Good grief.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Mark Teixeira going to take A-Rod's place as the designated Yankee scapegoat?

About a month ago, I said to Squawker Jon that I thought Mark Teixeira would be the new target of the Yankees' ire in the future, basically becoming the new Alex Rodriguez when it comes to being the team's designated Yankee scapegoat.  After all, Tex not only has a ridiculous contract, like Alex Rodriguez, and he also is no longer in his prime, and he is injured all of the time now, it seems, but he has also said a number of outrageous -- but mostly ignored -- things.  Mostly ignored, that is, until now.

Here's the thing -- while A-Rod is coming back, of course, there is only so much mileage Brian Cashman and the Yankees can get anymore over blaming him for everything that goes wrong. So I figured that Tex would be the next Yankee target. And some of it might actually be deserved. After all, in this past year, not only is Mark refusing to adjust his game to compete against the shift, but he also announced that he he basically was never going to be the same player that he was in his prime. (Of course, he will still get paid like he did in his prime!)

Anyhow, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews writes what will undoubtedly be the first of many New York media hit pieces on Teixeira. In the article, Matthews speculates on whether Teixeira has lost the hunger to succeed, referencing how boxer Marvin Hagler once said that "it's tough to get out of bed to do roadwork when you've been sleeping in silk pajamas." Matthews writes, "There are some Yankees who wonder if the same syndrome is starting to affect Teixeira."

He goes on to say:
A baseball insider I spoke with this week said Teixeira's "outside interests" -- he is financially involved in real estate holdings, a chain of juice bars, and is working to create what he called a "marriage of baseball and social media" -- had become a point of concern, with some wondering how badly he still wanted to be a baseball player.
Brian Cashman, come on down! You are back to doing what you do best -- leaking anonymous smears on Yankees out of favor!

Look, I think Teixeira has said a lot of dumb things, most of which he has gotten away with until now. That being said, I seem to remember somebody else who started a "marriage of baseball and social media" while still playing -- Derek Jeter, who launched his Players' Tribune site this month (and had to have been working on it at the same time he was still an active player.)

And these days, most players have outside financial interests. Is there any hard evidence that Teixeira's terrible play is due to these interests, or to his YES Network show, which the article also references? No.
I do think that Teixeira has been a disappointment, and he says a lot of dopey things (that he has gotten away with doing until now), but that has nothing to do with whether he owns a few Juice Press stores. And the anonymous leaks are a little unseemly.

Matthews' article also talks about how Tex's numbers have tanked in recent years, which is fair game. But what he does not mention is how Cashman and the Yankees did not have a backup plan for his absence this year, which made no sense. (Hint: having your catcher play first is not a real backup plan!)

Anyhow, get your popcorn ready. I expect Tex to be a big target next season if he doesn't get it together quickly; he was already facing some boos this year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 BBA awards ballot part 2 -- American League

Here are my Baseball Bloggers Alliance awards picks:

Goose Gossage Award - Reliever of the Year (American League) 
1. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals
2. Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
3. Dellin Betances, New York Yankees

Walter Johnson Award - Pitcher of the Year (American League)
1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
3. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays/Detroit Tigers
5. Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins

Stan Musial Award - MVP (American League)
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
5. VIctor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
6. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore Orioles
7. Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
8. Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
9. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
10. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

2014 BBA awards ballot part 2 - National League

Goose Gossage Award - Reliever of the Year (National League)

1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds
3. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

Walter Johnson Award -
Pitcher of the Year (National League)

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
3. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
4. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
5. Doug Fister, Washington Nationals

Stan Musial Award - MVP (National League)

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

5. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers

Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals
7. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates

Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Why did the Yankees pass on Andrew Friedman? And why is Hal Steinbrenner like Hermey the Elf?

Yesterday, after hearing about how the Los Angeles Dodgers swooped up and signed Andrew Friedman, after firing GM Ned Colletti, I was naturally peeved. As my friend Sully put it, the Dodgers have back-to-back seasons making the playoffs, and they fire their GM, while the Yankees have back-to-back seasons of not making the playoffs, and give their GM a new contract. Good grief.

I have had my eye on Andrew Friedman for a long time. Here is what I wrote in 2012, in a column slamming Brian Cashman for signing Kevin Youkilis, and correctly predicting that the $12 million signing would be a disaster. I said that:
"With a payroll less than a third of the Yanks, and their best players leaving for free agency, Friedman is able to field a competitive team each year. (And no, it isn't just having had the good draft picks -- look at Kansas City!) In the old days, George Steinbrenner would have poached Friedman from the Rays a long time ago, instead of having a schlub like Cashman as GM for life."
Two years later, KC finally has a good team, but the Yankees are content to settle for three more years with a schlub like Brian Cashman. And yes, I still contend that George would have swooped in and gotten Friedman. (An aside -- if I had a dollar for every Yankee fan who insisted to me over the years that Friedman would never leave Tampa, I would be rich!)

Most of us have seen "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" a time or two -- or ten -- each Christmas season. Hermey the Elf is one of the more memorable characters. He is Rudolph's fellow misfit friend who doesn't want to be an elf -- which sounds like a pretty cool gig to most of us, even if you have to sing that annoying song about how "We are Santa's elves."  Instead, Hermey wants to be a dentist.

Anyhow, I was thinking about Lazy Hal yesterday, and I was struck by the similarities of  the Elf to him -- and it is not just the swoop of bangs! Hal literally has zero interest in running the team, which like being an elf, sounds like a sweet gig to most of us. Instead, he would rather do his amateur weather forecasting.

Mike Lupica, perhaps the only major media guy in New York unafraid to criticize Cashman and Steinbrenner, had an excellent column in the Daily News about the state of the Yankees. He said that:
"Hal Steinbrenner goes through the half-hearted motion of talking like a tough Steinbrenner owner, like he’s learning a new language on Rosetta Stone. But one of the reasons that Brian is coming back is that even if Steinbrenner had wanted to hire a new general manager, he wouldn’t have had a clue about who it should be. All we know for sure is that he’s decided that the general manager he has is indispensable."
That is about the size of it. Hermey -- I mean Hal -- does treat actually attending Yankees like going to the dentist. And the Yankee GM fancies himself an elf. After all, he dresses as one when he does his dopey rappelling each holiday season.

Imagine what Friedman could do with the resources in Yankeeland. Yet, by all accounts, nobody ever even tried to poach him, even though Hal lives in Tampa. Good grief indeed.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shocker: Fox gets into modern world with cool baseball broadcast idea

I have been hoping for years that there would be an alternative to the traditional big-network baseball broadcast. After all, who really wants to listen to Joe Buck mope in a monotone about what is happening on the field? Well, listen up. For tonight's Game 1 of the NLCS, you actually have an alternative. I got this info from Fox Sports:
For Game 1 of the NLCS, FOX Sports is gearing up for a grand experiment: A simulcast on FOX Sports 1 on October 11 at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. FOX will provide the traditional broadcast, featuring Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds, and Tom Verducci in the booth, Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews on the field.
Meanwhile, over on FS1 the crew- Kevin Burkhardt, Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski - will focus on statistics, sabermetrics, and graphics, with plenty of debate and conversation while the action plays out on the field. We’ll utilize a double-box format, with the live game action in one box, and our studio hosts and guests in another, along with a constant flow of graphics.  
This unique experience will be powered by Just a Bit Outside (JABO), a new microsite from FOXSports.comFOXSports.com
I think this is a great idea. I will be tuning in, just to hear a different voice from the usual boring Fox broadcast.