Sunday, April 3, 2016

Go to our new site!

We are now at Subwaysquawkers.com, and our blogspot site is no more. Please go to SubwaySquawkers.com and see us!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

No, the Expos never really tried to trade Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez for Derek Jeter. Why this story is bogus.

Part of my day job involves fact-checking information. Plus, I also have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to stories that seem too good to be true. So when I saw a recent claim about a longtime trade offer involving Derek Jeter, I immediately called shenanigans on it. And sure enough, my initial thought that it was BS turned out to be correct.

 Here's the scoop. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently wrote this:
As the story goes: When Jeffrey Loria owned the Expos, he was obsessed with Derek Jeter. So he ordered his general manager, Jim Beattie, to try to make a deal with the Yankees and to give up whatever he had to. Beattie offered Yankees GM Brian Cashman Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Martinez. Stunned, Cashman told Beattie, “I can’t trade Derek Jeter."
This is sheer nonsense, and here's why:

1. Pedro Martinez was traded from Montreal Expos to the Boston Red Sox on November 18, 1997.

2. Brian Cashman didn't become Yankees' GM until 1998.

3. Jeffrey Loria didn't buy the Expos until 1999.

So how in the world could this trade offer have been made, when Pedro was already in Boston during this timeframe? And when Martinez was an Expo, Loria did not own the team, and Cashman was not a GM?

I wonder where, exactly, Cafardo heard this story. Did Cashman feed him this nonsense, knowing that the reporter wouldn't fact-check it? Or did somebody else do so?

At any rate, it literally took me two minutes to Google the dates on this information, and prove definitively that this story could have never happened. Not that complicated, folks. You'd think a reporter -- or his editor -- would do the same. Good grief.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Here's the world's smallest violin, Randy Levine, playing just for you!

The world's smallest violin. Playing just for Randy Levine!
Leave it to New York Yankees president Randy Levine to make the team's point on revenue sharing so poorly, that you have no sympathy for what could be a potentially be a valid point of view. Why this clown, who, to steal a line from "The Hunger Games," is about as charming as a dead slug, is the "face" of the Yankees front office is beyond me.

Let me explain the latest brouhaha. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports talked with Levine about the Yankees' revenue-sharing agreement. In this conversation, Levine slammed the crosstown New York Mets:

"What is very burdensome to us -- and is unfair -- is the amount of money we have to pay in revenue sharing compared, for example, to teams in our market that pay 10 times less than us,” Yankees president Randy Levine told FOX Sports. "Hopefully that is something that will get looked at in the next labor agreement."
According to Levine, the Yanks paid $90 million in revenue sharing for last year. The figure is based on each team's net local revenue, and the Mets' figure is supposed to go up next year, commensurate with their increase in attendance. The Yanks also paid $26 million in luxury tax.

Rosenthal notes that:
Levine’s comment on revenue sharing followed his response to a question about the Yankees’ home attendance, which has declined every year since 2010 with the exception of ‘14.
Oh, snap!
"The Yankee business is strong -- very, very strong," Levine said. "But we’re the Yankees. We can always do better. We always look to do better. Our attendance projections are up. All of our other revenue -- sponsorship, food and beverage – everything else is up. We expect to have a great team this year. I think it’s going to be a good year."
Very strong? I dunno about that. Whatever happened to the idea that any year without a World Series title was a failure for the Yankees? It's now been seven years since the Yankees won a title -- their only title since 2000. Heck, it's seven years since they even got to a World Series. Meanwhile, the crosstown Mets, the team Levine is griping about above, won a pennant last year, despite spending over $100 million less on payroll.

And the "we can always do better" line would have been a heck of a lot more appropriate 15 years ago, as opposed to now. Eight years in a row, the Yanks have spent over $200 million a year in payroll. In one of those years -- 2009 -- they won a World Series. In three of those years, they didn't make the playoffs at all. In the other four years, they had ignomious defeats in the postseason, like getting beaten by the Astros in last year's Wild Card game, and getting swept by the Tigers in the 2012 ALCS. Not only is that a terrible ROI (return on investment) for the money, but it means that there is a LOT of room for improvement.

At any rate, you can't brag about how much money you're bringing in, and then complain about how much you're paying on revenue sharing. That does not compute. Also, on what planet are their attendance projects up? Is there, you know, actual hard evidence showing that?

Here's the thing, though. Theoretically, there is a valid point here. As Rosenthal notes, "Another concern of high-revenue teams is that the money acts as a disincentive for low-revenue clubs to increase their own revenue -- in effect, becoming a permanent subsidy." But Randy Levine is the last person in the world who should be bringing up that point. Why he continues to be the voice of the Yankee brass is beyond me.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Shocker! We ended up with $200 in Mets tickets for free! (And we can print them at home if we want to!)

Remember how Squawker Jon and I waited in the cold for two hours on Presidents' Day to get free Mets tickets? And how I almost froze my tuchis off, the day after running a 10-mile race in single-degree weather and getting hypothermia? Anyhow, you may remember that the Mets ended up giving us a better deal on free tickets than we expected. And today was the first day we could redeem our free ticket vouchers.

We had a choice of field-level box seats in the outfield area for most Monday to Thursday Mets games from April through June. So Jon and I chose two games: Tuesday, May 17, Mets vs. Nationals (Daniel Murphy's first game back at Citi Field!) and Thursday, June 30, Mets vs. Cubs (only time Cubs come to town this year.) The Nationals tix are in Section 130 and retail for $37 each. The Cubs tix are in Section 131 and retail for $63 each. So, yes, we ended up with $200 in tickets for waiting in the cold that day. Not too shabby!

Anyhow, there is something else I noticed about the Mets' ticket policies. You can either print the tickets at home, or add them to Apple Wallet so you can show them on your mobile phone! Imagine that! Also, we don't have to worry that we'll get kicked out of our field-level seats, or that somebody will wonder if we really belong there. Amazing.

Funny that the Mets don't seem to be worried about that massive ticket fraud problem that the Yankees are so concerned about. Or, maybe it's that there is no problem at all in the first place! Gee, ya think?


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Playing Pepper: Nine Mets bloggers preview the 2016 season

How will the Mets do this year? Who will be the breakout player? I was one of the participants in Playing Pepper, an annual survey of bloggers from each team from Daniel Shoptaw of Cardinals blog C70 at the Bat. Other questions involved evaluating the offseason and which team we enjoyed beating the most.

I went with 93 wins and first place in the NL East. Most, but not all, of the other  bloggers also predicted another division title.

See all of our predictions and observations at Playing Pepper: New York Mets.

Ruben Tejada: From postseason inspiration to victim of Mets' cheapness

We'll always have Ruben Tejada walking onto the field on a broken leg with his Mets-themed cane to help inspire the Mets to the World Series. But we won't have infield depth with Asdrubal Cabrera on the DL and David Wright not having played in a game yet because the Mets apparently think that shedding Tejada's $3M salary is more important, now that the Mets have placed Tejada on waivers. If he is not claimed, the Mets are expected to release Tejada 15 days before the start of the season to get out of paying him all but 30 days worth of his salary (about half a million).
(Update: Tejada went unclaimed and was just released.)

While Wilmer Flores can fill in for Cabrera, the backup for Wright could be none other than Eric Campbell, who started 39 games for the Mets at third last year. For the year, Campbell hit .197 and helped the Mets to the worst hitting attack in the league in the first half of the season. He also made eight errors at third.
 
I had hoped that the days of the Eric Campbells and John Mayberry Jrs. were over. That the Mets would no longer have such a pathetic bench that last season's deadline trades for backups Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson were hailed as game-changers because they were actually major league-caliber.

Maybe Matt Reynolds or someone else from the farm system is ready to step up. Maybe Wright is going to be fine and Cabrera will not be out long. But even if the Mets genuinely feel they do not need Tejada, they need to get some value out of him. The Cardinals apparently do not want to take on that contract. But did the Mets offer to pay some or all of Tejada's salary? I assume not.

Dumping players with some value for nothing is bad business. The Mets did not need Jon Niese and wanted to shed his salary, but they were able to turn Niese into Neil Walker.

But when Dillon Gee fell out of favor, he ended up getting released. Now Gee could make the Kansas City bullpen, which last year was only the best in baseball.

Tejada may not seem that valuable now, but Justin Turner seemed like no great loss when the Mets parted ways with him, and wouldn't it be nice to have him shoring up the infield right about now, or at least to have gotten something back for him.

Now the Cardinals can pick Tejada up on the cheap if they are so inclined to help fill the void left by Jhonny Peralta's injury.  I just hope St. Louis does not end up edging the Mets out of the postseason by a couple of games as a result.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Shocker! Yankees new ticket policy causes a disaster for Stadium soccer game

I was looking at SportsSpyder.com, one of my go-to sites (if you want to see the latest articles on whatever team you follow, go there!) to see the latest on the Yankees. And I just saw this article from Deadspin, about the repercussions of the Yankees' new ticket policy.

The New York City Football Club (NYCFC), who plays at Yankee Stadium, decided to change their ticket policy two days ago, before today's season opener, to ban print-at-home tickets. This, after they had told fans previously that this would be a Yankee-only policy. My guess is that Lonn Trost and Randy Levine pressured them to do so and they had to listen, given that the Yankees are part-owners of the team.

And guess what? Hilarity did not ensue! Instead, a disaster ensued. It was a hot mess.


Roberts is a writer for Yahoo! Finance. He said in another tweet that it took him 49 minutes to get into the ballpark after getting on the security line. He and others also said that the game had started, with much of the crowd still outside. Yikes!

I went to an NYCFC game last summer and had a great time. But if I were on a line like that, and missed some of the game, it wouldn't exactly make me want to come back.

I wonder if this is a harbinger of things to come when the Yankees' season starts. One thing they have not thought out is what it's going to be like when many tens of thousands of people all try to use the Internet on their phones at the same time to pull up their tickets. Last week, I was at Staten Island's St. Patrick's Day Parade, and my phone's Internet was extremely slow. And this was only with a few thousand people, if that. Imagine what it will be like with many more folks.

Things are not going to end well for the Yankees, if this becomes the scene at every game! Good grief.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Yes, MLB is different than in Goose Gossage's day. That doesn't make it bad.

I turned 49 a few weeks ago, but I still feel pretty young. Aside from being in the best shape of my life, thanks to adopting a fitness regimen I have stuck to, I think a lot of that has to do with my attitude. IMHO, nothing ages you faster than being closed to new ideas, and to viewing any change as a bad thing. If you want to look old, keep up a "get off my lawn" attitude and rip millenials because they see the world differently than you do. Before you know it, you'll look and sound like you've got one foot in the grave.

My friend Phil Watson, who is my age, shares a similar attitude to mine. He writes on basketball for Fansided, and had this to say when it came to basketball players of our generation ripping the current game.  
I’m almost 50 years old (it’s true, my birth certificate has the yellowing to prove it), but I can’t subscribe to the “it was better back in my day” chants that so many former players and so many media members are throwing around right now. About 20 years ago, I made a discovery that has shaped much of my life as I transitioned from mere adulthood into this dreaded ground people refer to as “middle age.” That discovery? For most people, there is one simple rule: All change is always bad, always. 
Is the NBA game different now than it was 20 years ago? Unquestionably. Is it worse?
Not that I’ve noticed.
It’s just, well, different.
I couldn't help but think of that astute asssessment when I saw two things in the news yesterday, from a current superstar and a crotchety Hall of Famer, that illustrated that very well.

ESPN the Magazine has an interview with Bryce Harper, in which the National League Most Valuable Player  

“Baseball’s tired,” he says. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun. 
“Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean — sorry.”
He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he’s all in. 
“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
I, of course, completely agree with Harper. Especially with his affection for Cam Newton and Steph Curry. And it makes me wonder if Harper becoming a Yankee is the fait accompli that so many seem to think it is. After all, the Yankees are a franchise that, with the exception of A-Rod, isn't really known for styling and profiling. Is he going to sacrifice the ability to have facial hair, cool hairstyles, and a flamboyant personality to be a Yankee, when these days he can get the big bucks from other teams? I dunno.

I'm personally tired of the whole "act like you've been there before" stiff upper lip attitude. As I've written before, what's wrong with having some fun during what is supposed to be a game? Human emotion is what separates playing baseball on a video game, as opposed to watching real-life games.

Now, Squawker Jon pointed out to me that none other than Jonathan Papelbon shows emotion. But I say he's a jerk, so that's not what I'm talking about. (And Papelbon and Harper, of course, don't have the same worldview, given Harper also thinking that throwing to hit other players is "tired." That's what they fought about last fall!)

Ironically, yesterday former Yankee and MLB Hall of Famer Goose Gossage unleashed one of his tirades about these kids today. He complained to ESPN New York about the current state of the game:
"[Jose] Bautista is a f---ing disgrace to the game," Gossage told ESPN. "He's embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing."
Why is Bautista or Cespedes representing all Latin players? Does Harper (or Gossage) represent all white players? Those are really unfortunate comments by Gossage. But even if you take out the racial issue, it's silly to complain about this stuff. Yes, the game today is different from Gossage's day. And I agree with Harper that MLB could use even more loosening up. Different eras, different styles.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

John Sterling is closing in on his 5000th Yankee broadcast. Are you excited?

It's official. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman will be back in the Yankees' broadcast booth this year and the next, something that was talked about a few weeks ago. WFAN recently announced the news with some hyperbolic comments that made my eyes roll so much, they're still at the back of my head! Let me go through what the statiion said, and give my own hyperbolic comments!
“Yankees baseball on the radio provides a soundtrack for the summer, and it would be unimaginable to listen to the Bronx Bombers without these two iconic broadcasters,” said CBS Radio New York senior VP and market manager Marc Rayfield. 
Unimaginable? Really? I can imagine it. I can imagine listening to broadcasters that -- shocker -- help me understand what's going on in the game, instead of devolving into schtick and cliches and incorrect calls. Because while the Yankees' TV broadcasters are no great shakes (and I've never been a fan of Paul O'Neill the broadcaster, as opposed to Paul O'Neill the player, even before he endorsed Donald Trump) at least I can, you know, follow the game from the visuals. When it's a radio broadcast, I'm at the mercy of John and Suzyn. And that's not a fun place to be!

Heaven forbid we have professional broadcasters like the Mets' Howie Rose and Josh Lewin (no relation to Squawker Jon!) who actually paint the picture of what's happening in the game. Not to mention the way every facet of the broadcast has a sponsor. I'm still waiting for "John takes a bathroom break, sponsored by Charmin" or "Suzyn's lipstick is brought to you by Revlon."

And 2016 is also an anniversary year of sorts. Rayfield sez:
“This is a special year, particularly as John closes in on his 5000th consecutive broadcast, an ironman feat almost as remarkable as Cal Ripken, Jr and Lou Gehrig’s legendary streaks.” 
Is there anyone who considers themselves the luckiest man on the face of the Earth for getting to listen to 5,000 broadcasts with John Sterling? Just wondering.

And Mark Chernoff, CBS Radio VP of sports programming and WFAN program director, makes his own hyperbolic comparisons:
“We’re thrilled Yankees fans will continue to hear this legendary broadcast team that has been together for more than a decade. John and Suzyn are as much a part of Yankee tradition as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra.” 
Good lord. What a ridiculous comparison. Sterling and Waldman are more like the Cotton-Eyed Joe or YMCA of Yankee tradition: things that were entertaining once, but are well past their prime. Yet they keep on going and going and going, like the Energizer Bunny.

You know, I wonder if WFAN, which paid a gazillion dollars to get the rights to the Yankees' broadcast, and dumped the Mets, ever wonder if they made the right decision when it comes to teams. They sure didn't make the right decision when it comes to broadcasters.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Subway Series, spring style

The Mets were in World Series form in their first 2016 meeting with the Yankees today.  Unfortunately, by that I mean they blew the lead in the ninth inning, which they did yesterday as well. It's only spring training, and closer Jeurys Familia was not involved, but it would have been nice to beat the Yankees instead of settling for a 4-4 tie.

The Mets led, 4-2, going into the ninth, but Antonio Bastardo gave up solo homers to Kyle Higashioka and Sebastian Valle. I was hoping John Sterling would be caught off guard and have to struggle to come up with a home run call for Higashioka, but he probably just said something like "Kyle hit it a mile." (Sorry, Squawker Lisa, Valle's name is pronounced "vye-yay," so he couldn't say, "He hit that one to the Valle of the dolls!)

The Mets went with most of the starters (everyone but David Wright and Michael Conforto), while the Yankees sat most of their starters and top prospects. Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley did play, but the cleanup hitter was Dustin Ackley.  The thin lineup did manage five hits off Jacob deGrom in three innings.

Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes each had two hits for the Mets, who did not score off starter Ivan Nova, who went three innings, but then put up four runs (two earned) off James Kaprielian.

One bright note for the Yankees was that none of their current players endorsed Donald Trump (as far as I know).

The game saw an appearance by Cesar Puello, who was considered one of the Mets' top prospects a few years ago. But Puello was suspended 50 games as a result of the Biogenesis scandal and his prospects faded after that. The Mets released him last year.  And now he's back - as a Yankee.

This marks the second time a onetime top Mets prospect ended up with the Yankees and a Biogenesis suspension. The Yankees acquired Fernando Martinez in 2013, just before his suspension. 

Bastardo was also suspended as a result of Biogenesis.

But Biogenesis seems like a long time ago, and now the Yankees are giving A-Rod his own Bat Day.

*

During the offseason, Mets executive Paul DePodesta left the NL champs for, of all places, the Cleveland Browns. Today was the first day of NFL free agency, and Cleveland's decisions left many scratching their heads. The Browns allowed several top players to leave, but somehow held on to Johnny Manziel. As ESPN notes:

So a team assembles the most unorthodox front office in recent NFL memory, and you're surprised/hysterical/dubious when it doesn't make conventional moves at the outset of free agency?

Have fun in the NFL, Paul!

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