Rewind: The Left Arm of God

A week or two ago, I dove into SI.com’s Vault and came up with an unreal essay about Marge Schott. It’s a slow news Monday (so far), so I wanted to lay this one at your feet: The Left Arm Of God. We know about Koufax’s on-the-field exploits and we’ve heard about his elusiveness off the field, but Tom Verducci did such a great job with this story, it bears a rewind.

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Continue reading Rewind: The Left Arm of God

But was it clean?

I’ve questioned Giambi’s resurgence here before. Others have questioned him and other Mitchell Report players, too. But most of the questioning seemed to be coming outside of the MSM, the beat reporters. Was it because such a question would damage their ability to get close to the players, something they need to do to be successful in their jobs?

Maybe, maybe not.

But Wallace Matthews flat-out asks the question: Great, but was it clean?

It was a win to remember, to be sure. But was it a win to be proud of? Was it real? Was it clean?

Those are the questions you’d rather not have to wrestle with, but considering the players involved and their well-publicized history, they refuse to go away.

On the mound, you have Pettitte, admitted HGH user in the Mitchell Report, throwing eight strong innings in weather that would fry a cactus, and at the plate, you have Giambi, who couldn’t hit his listed weight until Memorial Day weekend, blasting a fastball into the rightfield seats against a pitcher with the lowest ERA in major-league baseball, a pitcher who had allowed a measly six home runs all season long.
……
If both of them are to be believed — and there is no evidence at the moment to doubt them — then clearly, Pettitte is capable of throwing eight overpowering innings and Giambi is capable of looking like Mr. Olympia without the help of a chemist.

Or are they?

Pretty aggressive stuff, eh? Continue reading But was it clean?

A's restocking, again

I get that Billy Beane is smarter than the average bear, GM, MIT aerospace engineering grad student, and me. He’s got a knack for selling pitchers at their peak and getting excellent value in return. He has survived the free agent departures of Giambi and Tejada. And he hasn’t missed Koch, Dotel and Foulke (he loves dumping those overvalued clsoers!). He gambled on Chavez though that hasn’t worked so well. He didn’t trade Zito but let him go, too. He picked up Piazza and Frank Thomas on the cheap, maxed out their value and dumped them. He then picked Thomas up again this year on someone else’s dime.

Within the last two weeks, he dealt 40% of his starting rotation (Harden and Blanton) while still in contention. And he dealt all-star Dan Haren before the season.

I get it that he’s getting some good prospects who might be good some day. I get that he’s keeping costs down. I get that he’s smart enough to keep the team in contention, barely, despite all the machinations.

What I don’t get is why. Why, if he had those three pitchers under contract thru at least next season (I think Blanton is only signed thru 2008) did he choose to sell? Why, after making the smart moves that put his team in contention, did he decide that contention this year wasn’t enough? At some point, don’t you have to let the players jell and grow up together as a team? Constantly proving your brilliance is nice but don’t you have to let these guys give it a run?

He traded Mulder, Hudson, Koch, etc., for prospects, some of which actually became quite good (Dan Haren, for example). But rather than let those prospects mature, he dealt them for more prospects. Which only means that as soon as the guys he got for Haren, Harden and Blanton begin to show promise, they will be dealt for other younger guys. It’s just a trend, isn’t it?

I’m a bit baseball’d out right now after the week that was, so maybe my baseball mind is a bit mushy today. I just don’t get this round of maneuvers.

Continue reading A's restocking, again

One more ASG thought: Francona's class

I have neglected a key part of the game. Not intentional, just ran out of bandwidth to put some thoughts together. Thankfully, the loyal tadthebad asked me about it and well, it got me to thinking more about it.

Terry Francona has a boatload of class.

This is the manager of the (hated) RedSox, skippering the AL all-stars in Yankee Stadium, the belly of the beast. He had been boo’d mercilessly during the parade, during introductions, every chance the fans could. [I think he’d be disappointed if he wasn’t boo’d. It’s standard operating procedure. The Yanks players were boo’d when the all-star game was in Fenway. As they should be. It’s part of the fun of being life-long enemies.]

Yet, Francona deftfully diffused the Papelbon situation (as did Papelbon, though the horses had long left the barn). His handling of his Yankee players was nothing short of brilliant and clearly showed that this guy not only grasps history but relishes the big moment as well as anyone.

Rather than make switches in between innings, he pulled ARod and Jeter both mid-inning, to give them a chance to hear the cheers again as they ran off the field. Each player was able to tip their caps in appreciation. That was a GREAT show of respect from a manager who clearly “gets it”, despite his location and the name on the front of his jersey. Pure class move, Tito.

As the 9th inning was about to begin, we assumed we’d here “Enter Sandman” and Mo would stroll thru the bullpen doors. But in came KRod. The group around us was surprised but we were discussing that Mo would probably come in with 2 outs, just in case the AL won it in the bottom of the inning. Otherwise, if the AL scored, Mo would not have gotten in the game. KRod put a man on and had one out. Cue “Enter Sandman”. Oh yeah, if there was a double play, inning over and a chance that Mo would not enter the game. Tito and his staff were clearly thinking this through. So well-executed. Of course, Mo got the double play and although the game didn’t end in the bottom of the 9th or 10th, he was in line for the win in both instances. Had the AL scored in that bases loaded/none out, Mo would have gotten the W and quite possibly the AL MVP. The stars were aligned thanks to Francona’s grasp on history and the present.

Yanks fans and Sox fans will never see eye-to-eye. But I have had an enormous amount of respect for their organization, even if I root for them to lose daily. I know I will have a greater respect for Francona for his class moves during the ASG, too.

Well done, Tito. BOOOOOO!!!!!!

Continue reading One more ASG thought: Francona's class

WARNING: Rumors abound

I think it’s B.S., but who knows: Source: Bonds-Yankees Deal Imminent

The incentive-laden deal, being hammered out between Bonds’ agent Jeff Borris and general manager Brian Cashman, will well exceed the major league $200,000 minimum but has a number of protective clauses to isolate the Yankees’ exposure to the possibility of Bonds missing time due to legal distractions or recurring injury, the source said.

Adding Bonds to the Yanks would be like the USA having a massive bonfire made up of unused grains, gas, cash and coal and broadcasting it to the 3rd World Nations with a picture of Ted Kennedy and The Steinbrenner Trio mooning everyone.

See, we’re big, we’re bad, and we don’t give a crap what you think since you hate us anyways.”

My head hurts.

Now, I spoke (via email) with the esteemed Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com and he hadn’t heard of this source and questioned the dollar amount as that’s not a league minimum (I asked if that could be a pro-rated portion). We’re waiting to see if the MSM picks up on this.

I can hear Murray Chass grinding his teeth right now about those irresponsible bloggers!

UPDATE (3:30pm): With the Yanks signing Richie Sexson, this makes the Bonds rumors a load of hooey. Continue reading WARNING: Rumors abound

Voice of God goes eternal

I can picture it right now. I’m sitting in the stands at Yankee Stadium thirty years from now and I hear this. “Now Batting… Number 22… Derek Jeter Jr… Number 22.”

I’ve discussed Bob Sheppard many, many times here as he’s struggled to return to the mic at the Stadium. His replacement, Jim Hall, has a wonderful voice, strikingly similar to Mr. Sheppard’s, but like any sequel, it’s never as good as the original. Mr. Hall had a rough night on Tuesday, but I think this is an amazing idea.

But due to the state of text-to-speech technology, Sheppard’s voice could be the voice of the starting lineups for the next 50 years, if the Yankees choose to go that route.

Patrick Dexter, director of business development for Cepstral a leader in text-to-speech technology, told CNBC that it would be possible for the company to create a program that would enable the Yankees to have every player – the Yankees and their opponents – be announced by Sheppard’s voice forever.

Doing names and numbers is easier than creating what they call a full domain voice, which is voicing full sentences,” Dexter said. “But if we had some time and money — and the Yankees certainly might have that bankroll — we could do this.”

I think this would be great. Continue reading Voice of God goes eternal

Final All Star Game thoughts

I wrote about the All-Star game mess a week and a half ago. One of the things I’d change if I were given a chance would be to modify the roster rules for the All Star Game.

  • Eliminate mandatory representation by every club. It was one thing when there just twenty-something teams, but with 32, too many inferior players are being named at the expense of more qualified players.

or:

  • Expand the roster sizes to accomodate the expansion in the number of teams. If you do this, you can keep mandatory representation. Open the rosters to 35 and eliminate the handwringing.

It’s pretty simple. Boost the roster sizes to 35 and add three more pitchers. I’d rather do that than eliminate mandatory representation but if baseball is married to a 32 person roster, that rule has to be eliminated.

The only other thing to do to eliminate the All Star mess would be to just keep it an exhibition and give the WSHFA to the team who, you know, actually earned it.
Continue reading Final All Star Game thoughts