A good look in back at the Abreu trade

This is one of those things that I wish I had the time for (as well as other things, I guess), but The Hardball Times took a look back at the trade/fleecing that delivered Abreu to the Yanks back in mid-06.

The Phillies had been shopping Abreu for some months, and according to reports, they were initially after a front-line starter in return. The eventual deal saw the Yankees snap up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for four minor league prospects. The Phils got the 2005 number one draft pick C.J Henry, hurler Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios.

It was a bit startling to see Lidle’s name there. I forgot he was part of the deal that brought Abreu over. That his airplane crashed into the building next to my old building when I lived in NYC for 8 years will not be forgotten, however.

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Continue reading A good look in back at the Abreu trade

Friday fun: How bats are made

A slow news morning in baseball (I don’t care much that the Sox are tired from flying, sorry) plus I’m a bit under the weather… therefore you get some early Friday fun, video style. Here’s a “How’s It Made” about baseball bats.

Get your lathe, protective glasses, the leg from your grandmother’s dining room table and have a blast.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyfKApEQwrM&hl=en] Continue reading Friday fun: How bats are made

Great moments in spring training pranks

We always see some great pranks being pulled on rookies, from dressing up like the Wizard of Oz characters or TeleTubbies to being traded to Japan. But it’s not often we hear of one being pulled on a strength coach. Frankly, this is awesome.

Chicago Cubs strength coach Tim Buss felt weak in the knees on Tuesday when players told him to take a look at his car.

According to multiple media reports out of Chicago, his 1995 Nissan Sentra was almost unrecognizable after someone or something destroyed it. The windows were smashed, the doors tied closed, the trunk peeled up and the roof punctured.

When he saw a couple of baseball bats and balls placed around the car “

“I figured [Jon] Lieber, [Kerry] Wood immediately, [Ryan] Dempster ” he said, according to The Chicago Tribune. “Then I realized it was every pitcher we have.”

Players allowed Buss to fume for a while. The coach was trying to figure out how to tell his wife about her car.

It’s a shame,” Lieber said, according to the newspaper. “What kind of person would do something like that? It really just shocks me. I’m sure she’ll understand.”

Dempster finally told Buss to take a look at something else in the parking lot.

When he walked out, several players handed him the keys to a brand new Nissan Xterra SUV.

Almost moved to tears, Buss said, according to the Tribune, “They’re great guys.”

Good for the players to do something great for a coach. Continue reading Great moments in spring training pranks

Here's why PED remains a concern

Outsiders, like me, continually wonder why the “clean” players won’t stand up to the “dirty” players. Why can’t they scream from the mountaintops? It’d be awfully pollyanna-ish to just leave it at that. I know the teams want to win and all players are needed to get a team to the title. However, by keeping quiet, the clean players are just making it easier for the dirty players to remain dirty.

Why? Because there’s a “code” amongst theives and ballplayers that says you don’t rat out your own. I get it, sorta. There are ways to alert officials that there’s something illegal going on without actually ratting out a peer. And it takes a pretty darn strong person to rat out a teammate. But don’t these players have to be pretty darn strong, mentally AND physically, just to get to the Bigs?

There’s a story out today about the exile of Larry Bigbie that’s worth reading.

Bigbie broke the code. In baseball, the honor of the clubhouse, of keeping secrets no matter how deep, dark and dirty, is sacrosanct, and when the former Sen. George Mitchell released his report on the rampant performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, there was Bigbie, not only admitting using them but naming names of teammates who did, too.

That’s not how it went,” Bigbie says. “That’s not how it went at all. But right there, I was done. My name – done.”
In news reports, Bigbie was placed alongside Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski as Mitchell’s informants. He stewed. He had talked, yeah, but says he brought up neither Roberts’ nor Cust’s name and only confirmed information with which Mitchell’s investigators confronted him.

They had everything,” he says. “They knew. It wasn’t like I had to sit there and spit names to them.

Then there’s this comment by the author which I think is pretty good (emphasis mine):

No one close to Bigbie knew that he had used steroids first, then human growth hormone, not even his girlfriend, who at the time was pregnant. Bigbie started to rationalize: He had a family and life beyond baseball, and he refused to give it up for a misguided omert”.

Continue reading Here's why PED remains a concern

Stop the Madness? Nah!

There are few days in the year where a sporting event dominates everything else. SuperBowl, Opening Day, some Olympic events… it’s a short list no matter what. But what those don’t have that March Madness has is day-to-night games on Thursday and Friday this week as the opening round gets played.

For hoops junkies and casual fans alike, it’s a day to familiarize yourself with the refresh button (or the F5 button if you’re into shortcuts) or find a TV to tune into. [Personally, I recommend Slingbox if you have the chance]

Ever wonder what the actual “costs” are to having so many millions of people tune out those two days? How about $1.7B, that’s billion with a capital B.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago estimated this whole March Madness obsession at the workplace would cost more than $1.7 billion in lost productivity during this year’s tournament, but those numbers have the ring of exaggeration to them. True, close to 60 million Americans identify themselves as college basketball fans, but of course not all of their teams make the three-week tournament – nor do all of them work.


For the first time, CBSSports.com is offering every game via Web video without making users register for the privilege. In past years, CBSSports.com has streamed fewer games and, between 2003-2005, charged visitors for access to March Madness On Demand. In 2007, 1.4 million people registered to watch the games online at the site, but with the registration tossed aside, the numbers will soar.

Pretty lofty numbers for slacking to watch hoops, if you ask me. But what do I know, I have a TV in my office so it’d be on anyways. Continue reading Stop the Madness? Nah!

People to avoid at the ballpark

Great job by Peter Abraham in having some fun in his blog, citing the 10 people to avoid at the ballpark. It’s Yankee-centric but it translates across most of MLB. Here’s some of it:

  1. People who bring their vanity license plates to games and wave them around.
  2. Drunks. Why would you spent so much money on tickets, gas and parking and then crush so many $8.50 beers that you can’t remember half of what happened the next day? It makes no sense. Meanwhile, they’re loud, obnoxious and usually fans of the other team.
  3. Know-it-alls. Nothing worse than sitting next to the guy who knows somebody who knows Cashman’s dry cleaner and he knows for sure the Yankees are getting Albert Pujols.
  4. People who keep getting up. Over nine innings, you should get up once, twice if you’re female. Go to the bathroom, get something to eat then sit back down and don’t get up again until the game is over. Stop making people in your row get up.
  5. People waving signs trying to get on ESPN or Fox. This isn’t a game show. Sit down.
  6. There are two categories of cell-phone users who need savage beatings. First is the guy who has a friend in the crowd eight sections over and calls him so they can wave at each other. Your friend knows what you look like, bozo. Then there are the people who sit in box seats and call their friends watching at home and wave every time the camera catches them in the background. Teams should employ snipers to wound these people.
  7. People who swear at the players. How badly has your life gone that you feel compelled to come to the park and yell obscene words at somebody playing baseball? Trust me, when the player goes back to his huge house and his insanely hot wife that night, you calling him names doesn’t make him feel bad.
  8. People trying to start The Wave. The Wave is a plague on sports. it’s 50,000 people saying, “Look at us, we’re all mindless and we don’t care about the game.” Thankfully Yankee Stadium is largely Waveless.
  9. Trampy girls at batting practice. This always brings a smile. No matter what stadium you’re in, you see scantily clad women in stripper heels posing near the dugout trying to catch the attention of the players. This strategy may work in the minors. But do you really think Jeter is going to look up and say, “Hey, purple halter, Room 812 at the Westin tonight.”
  10. Adult autograph seekers. I think players should be contractually mandated to sign 10 autographs every day for kids. But once you’re 18, give it up. Let the kids through. I’m always disgusted at the get-a-lifers who jockey for position with children.

The comments section has some other good stuff if you have time for a longer read during lunch (like me).

And mine:

  • Adults who wear Yankee jerseys with PLAYERS NAMES ON THE BACK! Any self-respecting ADULT fan will never wear a jersey with a name on the back because the Yanks have never put a name on the back of a jersey. This is excusable for kids, of course. Modell’s and all other chain sporting goods stores should be banned from selling this garbage. Period. Also, wearing any jersey that’s not white/gray/navy should be grounds for ejection/snipershot. If you are wearing a red/camo/yellow/green/etc. Yankee jersey, throw yourself out of a car onto the Deegan.

Continue reading People to avoid at the ballpark

Good for them

Good to hear of a team sticking up for its coaches, no matter the issue. Hell yes, even a Yanks fan applauds at the Sox threatening not to go to Japan unless the coaches are paid, as previously promised.

Manager Terry Francona and his players were extremely irked after learning the team’s coaches were not going to get the $40,000 stipend they assumed they’d be getting for making the trip to Japan (players will also receive a payment). Francona had informed the coaches they’d be getting the stipend.

However, the Sox manager was told by members of the Oakland coaching staff that they were not being paid. Francona had thought it was unusual that one team’s staff would be paid and the other not. So he checked into it and found he and his coaches were getting nothing.

More succinctly summed up by David Ortiz: “It’s really [expletive] up.”

Continue reading Good for them

How a minor demotion could be a major benefit

I’ve been hearing that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have been considering sending 3B phenom Evan Longoria back to the minors for some additional “seasoning”. Considering his spring training stats (.333 AVG, .488 OBP, 1.255 OPS, 3 HR, 5:9 K:BB ratio), he’s proving he’s ready to go right now.

Except that a demotion for a short period of time would be a great business decision for the Rays, as unfair to Longoria as it might seem.

There’s a great example of why it might be worth sending Longoria back to the minors for a month or two, as recent as last year. Take the cases of Alex Gordon (2007 pre-season fave for ROY) and Ryan Braun (the 2007 Spring Training behemoth):

Kansas City’s Alex Gordon and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun were both college players taken in the first five picks of the 2005 draft. (Just as Longoria was in 2006.) Both had strong seasons in Double A in 2006 (just as Longoria did in ’07) and came to spring training last year with their eyes on making the big-league club.

The Royals kept Gordon on opening day, and he promptly sputtered to a 1-for-24 start. By the end of May, he was hitting .185, and he finished the season at .247 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs. The Brewers, on the other hand, sent Braun to Triple A for two months. When he was promoted, he tore up the National League, finishing with a .324 average, 34 homers, 97 RBIs and a rookie of the year award.

And, oh, yeah, Gordon will now be a free agent one year before Braun.

But it’s silly to ignore Tampa Bay’s realities. Having Longoria for an extra month in 2008 is not going to have a major impact on the season, but having him under contract in 2014 could be a godsend.

The subtleties of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are pretty interesting, if you’re into that sort of minutae. Otherwise, it’s just a fat document full of bureaucratic mumbojumbo and mind-numbing rules and regulations.

Continue reading How a minor demotion could be a major benefit