A view inside Cuba's baseball prison

This is a doozy of an article by “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis and it’s worth a read. But, print it out and read it as time permits. It’s worth it.

There’s at least half a billion dollars of baseball players in Cuba right now and probably a lot more,” says Joe Kehoskie, an agent who has represented a number of Cuban big-league players.

Continue reading A view inside Cuba's baseball prison

Gimme a break

Newflash: The New Yankee Stadium (TNYS) construction efforts are $400M short.

This infuriates me. Now, I know things cost more in NY than most other places on the planet and let’s just say that construction in and around NYC isn’t exactly the most, um, efficient, from a cost and timing perspective. I won’t get into the whys but let’s just agree that things are more difficult, expensive, time consuming, frustrating to get done/fixed/built around here. It just is. They can add new lanes to highways in San Diego in a week but it takes years to fix an on/off ramp in NYC (I’m looking at you, Willis Avenue Bridge exit off the FDR North and the Throgs Neck Bridge).

What really steams me is the fact that the Yanks are turning to the public to foot the additional cost overruns.


State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester, whose committee investigates publicly funded projects, said that the Yankees now say that if they don’t get another $400 million in public financing the club might not be able to finish the stadium.

Why so mad, you ask? Because the general public will be again asked to foot the bill yet due to the prices of the seats at TNYS, most of the general public won’t be able to afford going to see the team in the stadium they helped fund. Because the Yanks operations are a cash flow machine and I think they should have to foot the bill of their overruns. Because they should be responsible for delivering a stadium on budget or they should have to cover their own mismanagement or mistakes in budgetary forecasting.

Turns out, there is an IRS ruling that prohibits the additional funding of stadiums by the public, past a certain point (if you have any insight into this, please share it with me so I can post it here to remain as accurate as I can be!):


Janel Patterson of the New York City Economic Development Corp. that is working with the Yankees said the project isn’t threatened. But she said the city is working to relieve an Internal Revenue Service regulation that prohibits more public debt to be incurred for the stadium. Brodsky said that IRS change also is being sought to help stadium and arena projects for the Mets and Nets.
……
Brodsky said Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., “told me that the Yankees have said they may not complete the stadium if this issue not resolved.” Brodsky, chairman of the state Assembly’s committee governing public authorities and their borrowing, criticized the closed-door dealing for millions of dollars to benefit the Yankees in the face of public transit and other needs that aren’t being funded fully.

Puh-lease!!!! TNYS won’t be completed due to cash? Yeah right. They’ll make too money NOT to have it done on time.

I’ve been in favor of TNYS for a while now but at some point, the digging into the public coffers for a private entity has gotta stop. Let Hankenstein and his widening kingdom foot the bill. They are the ones who will reap the benefits anyways. Continue reading Gimme a break

Why soccer doesn't work here

Very interesting comparison done by fellow blogger and friend of the site Ron Rollins, discussing how the soccer finals being decided by penalty kicks would look if we took that same approach with MLB.


But this is why, in my semi-humble opinion, that soccer will never catch on with true American sports fans. There’s no walk-off home run allowed, no 3-pointer at the buzzer, no Hail Mary with no time left on the clock. As Americans, we want more from our champions than an skills contest at the end.

Definitely worth a read.

(and that it gives me a chance to post good anti-soccer pics)

Continue reading Why soccer doesn't work here

Re-examining Wang, Part VII

It’s been a while since I took a game-specific look at Chien-Ming Wang‘s performance, but after posting Jason Grey’s analysis yesterday, it was as good a time as any to reprise this thread.

Here’s where it starts: Wang’s first inning scared me. Hit the first batter with the first pitch. The next three batters had well-hit fly balls to the OF. The kind of shots that lead you take a deep {gulp} and wonder how bad a night it’s going to be.

Except that’s not what happened.

Select View Full Post to continue reading.

Continue reading Re-examining Wang, Part VII

Vitamin V

We’ve all heard of alternative medicines and all sorts of things like that. Homeopathics. Acupuncture. Mexican drug runners. Vitamin V? Well, guess again.

Seems that old buddy Clemens and a ton of others have been using Viagra as a performance enhancer, and not for the bedroom.

Clemens stashed the clearly marked, diamond-shaped pills in a GNC vitamin bottle in his locker at Yankee Stadium, according to a source familiar with the clubhouse, perhaps keeping the drug undercover to avoid the inevitable wisecracks about all the girlfriends he needed to please.

Clemens wasn’t alone. The pitcher, who is believed to have scored the drug from a teammate, joined the burgeoning number of athletes who have turned Vitamin V and its over-the-counter substitutes into one of the hottest drugs in locker rooms.

The drug is so widely used for off-label purposes that it has drawn the attention of anti-doping officials and law-enforcement agencies in the United States and beyond.

All my athletes took it,” BALCO founder Victor Conte, whose acolytes included Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, said of an over-the-counter supplement he claimed mimicked the effects of Viagra.

It’s bigger than creatine. It’s the biggest product in nutritional supplements.”

Among the off-label uses for Viagra, which first went on the market in 1998, it:

  • Helps build endurance, especially for athletes who compete at high altitudes
  • Delivers oxygen, nutrients and performance-enhancing drugs to muscles more efficiently
  • Counteracts the impotence that can be a side-effect of testosterone injections

……

Don Catlin, the founder of the independent organization Anti-Doping Research in Southern California, said he has been raising questions about Viagra’s use in sports for years.

Catlin said he even wrote a letter several years ago to then-WADA chairman Dick Pound, notifying him that Viagra might be a doping agent.

The e-mail got bounced back by Pound’s offensive-content filter, which thought it was spam.

Let the jokes begin, now.

Continue reading Vitamin V

A scout's look at Wang

I had been doing a review of Wang’s starts though as he’s struggled, there’s been less to be really interested in. Biased, you betchya! Well, that’s half the story. The other half is that I don’t have the trained eye of a scout to tell you if he’s “flying open” or where else he could be messing with his mechanics.

That said, here is part of ESPN’s Jason Grey’s dissection of Wang (insider access required for full article, sorry):

With a sinkerballer such as Wang, the first thing we want to do is take a look at his groundball numbers and his average on balls in play to see if there is anything out of the ordinary. His groundball-to-flyball ratio is 2.37, which is lower than the past two seasons, but still a very healthy number. His average on balls in play is .284, a number that is also not out of line in any way. He hasn’t always been helped by his bullpen this season, which inflates his ERA slightly, but that doesn’t explain how the baserunners got on in the first place.

When he was running well, Wang was walking fewer than three batters per nine innings. In his past four outings, that number has risen to almost five and a half, with his strikeout rate dropping from close to six per nine innings down to almost four. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first seven starts was 32-to-13. In his past six, it has been 17-to-20.
……
So why has his strikeout-to-walk ratio gone awry lately?

To answer that question, I went back to the video of a number of Wang’s starts this season, both when he was running well and his recent outings.

Nothing has really changed about the actual way he’s been pitching. He still has the same plan on the mound and is still getting his groundballs by the truckload as he usually does. He’s throwing the same pitches, roughly the same amount of times, and his velocity isn’t down.

The raw stuff is still there.

Therefore, the answer is likely that he is struggling with his mechanics. But how? He told the team’s Web site he feels “he may be overthrowing” lately, but he simply has not been repeating his delivery well. There are two issues:

  1. Sometimes his arm is getting out of sync with rest of his body on his fastball, so he can’t hit his spots consistently.
  2. Tipping his secondary stuff with his arm angle.

Well, there ya have it. I promise I will revise my reviews and try to take some of the things that Jason looked at and see how Wang fares.

Continue reading A scout's look at Wang

In this corner, Mr. Met

YA GOTTA BELIEVE!

Sometimes, truth is just so much better than fiction. And you also have to just love those wacky Mets fans. Yanks fans take a lot of heat, but I’ve long believed that Mets fans are worse. And by reading this, I defy you to argue against me:
At a recent game, the drunken fan manhandled the Amazin’s smiling, giant-baseball-headed mascot, police said. He also allegedly knocked down kids and took a swing at a security guard.
……
Christian Hansen of Gowanus, Brooklyn, was seen “harassing Mr. Met and pushing little children out of the way” at Shea Stadium, a law-enforcement source said. When security officials told the soused sports nut to leave, he refused. Then, as security guards escorted out the Mr. Met-basher, Hansen took a wild swing at an employee and spit in his face, law-enforcement sources said.

Let’s go Mets!

H/T to Glenn for the story. Glad he’s a Mets fan. Continue reading In this corner, Mr. Met

Psst! You've got two weeks.

As Shyster noted, this is probably for only the most die-hard steroid news followers (like me)…

Like most things surrounding steroids/PED usage in baseball, nothing will surprise me and no one implicated would surprise me. That said, it came out that it appears that some players who tested positive in 2003 were given advanced notice of when they were to be tested again in 2004.

Selig, Manfred and Fehr offered the committee information about a still-evolving testing program that had begun with anonymous testing of all players in 2003, with no public disclosure of positive tests and no punishments. In 2004, each player was tested once, and players who tested positive were subjected to additional tests. If a player tested positive twice, his name was made public and he was suspended for 15 games.
…….
As a result, players who apparently tested positive in 2003 were not retested in 2004 until the final weeks of the season, and might have been notified beforehand, perhaps skewing the overall test numbers for that year
.

Just please no more Congressional hearings! It’s clear (no pun intended, I swear) that Selig wanted to impose his will with PED testing but the Players Union was staunchly against it. Two questions:
  1. Could others in the Commish’s office, wanting to keep the league’s image prettier than it might have otherwise been, tipped off players they needed to remain “innocent”?
  2. Could this have done without Selig’s knowledge?
Would the answers either of those two questions, if the answers are “yes”, surprise you? Not me.

Continue reading Psst! You've got two weeks.

Friday fun: Video time, hockey style

In honor of Detroit’s Stanley Cup win, I thought I’d give myself goosebumps again with this one:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5Vfig0u2-s&hl=en]

This the most emotional win, as a fan, as I have ever been part of. Wasn’t there in person, but to be in NYC at the time was just surreal. The 2nd Avenue party outside Dorrian’s was awesome. Cars stopped, horns blowing. Apartment windows open, people yelling. Everyone dancing and jumping around, high fiving….

Good times, I tell ya. Continue reading Friday fun: Video time, hockey style