Birds of a feather?

What is it with thirdbasemen playing for the two NY teams (from Buster Olney’s blog)? You could do an old edit/replace with “ARod” and “Wright” and have no difference in the message. (emphasis mine)

So there might be one tangible thing the Mets need to fix: They need to get David Wright… well, right. They need to help him work through his apparent anxiety in high-pressure situations. Big-picture: The Mets didn’t make the playoffs because of their bullpen failures, as Jack Curry writes, but over the weekend, they mustered a total of five runs, and Wright had a whole lot to do with that. He cares so deeply that he puts enormous pressure on himself, and this trait seems to wreck him in big spots. He seems to leap at the ball when he’s trying to hit with the game on the line. They need to address this.

I don’t know how they do it. Maybe they get Wright to start talking to a sports psychologist, someone who might get the kind of help that has aided John Smoltz and Matt Garza and others. Wright is a cornerstone player who will be an MVP candidate in most years of his career, so the notion of trading him is silly. But they have to help him find a way to relax — and if the team’s best player relaxes, this will, in turn, take pressure off the rest of the team.

Sounds familar, Yanks fans, doesn’t it?

Continue reading Birds of a feather?

Where's the juice?

Home runs hit have dropped to the lowest level in 15 years. Miguel Cabrera’s 37 are the lowest for an AL HR Champ since Fred McGriff’s 35 in 1992. Care to hazard a guess why?

Home runs in the major leagues dropped this year to their lowest level since 1993, and Angels center fielder Torii Hunter thinks he might know why.

I think the steroid testing has something to do with it,” he said. “If there were any guys who were taking it, they’re not taking it anymore. I’d say it’s a small percentage, but of course it’s going to have an impact.”

An average of 2.01 home runs per game were hit this year, down from 2.04 in 2007. The average hadn’t dropped that low since 15 years ago, when it stood at 1.78, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The homer high of 2.34 was set in 2000, and the average stood at 2.14 in 2003, the last season before drug testing with penalties began.

Gee, I wonder why (rolls eyes). Kudos to Hunter for being able to hit with his head in the sand about it being “a small percentage”, but nonetheless, the impact is real.

Continue reading Where's the juice?

I made it

Five hundred and twenty-one posts. Nine months. Started with a rant on Schilling and fittingly closed with Moose’s 20th and the Yanks missing the post-season. I made it. I made it through my first full season blogging. Nearly every day.

What started as some ‘experiment’ to see if I could get 10 people (besides my family) to read what I wrote has become something bigger than I could have expected. I’m still learning the trade but I have enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve gotten to interview an agent, an active pitcher and an assistant GM. And I’m not done!

For those of you who have become regulars, thank you. I take a tremendous amount of satisfaction that you guys choose to come here, hang out, write and debate with me. For those who come sporatically, also thank you.

For all of you, please share your criticisms, suggestions, complaints. I want to make this more of a collaboration than simply me riffing on the subject of the day. I’ve tried to get everyone involved, either via reader mail or someone like tadthebad who inspiried the Charity Challenge. Email me your thoughts. I want to hear them all.

In what will surely be a list with many omissions, I’d like to thank Craig from Shysterball for all of his help and advice throughout the year. Also, David & Aziz from Pride of the Yankees blog. Repoz & Co. from Baseball Think Factory. Tim Dierkes of Rob Neyer and Pete Abraham for their attention. Alex Belth, Bugs & Cranks, Tim Marchman, The Sports Hernia, Sliding Into Home, River Ave. Blues. High profile writers Tom Verducci, Buster Olney, Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman, Jayson Stark, Keith Law, Joe Posnanski; none of which I have ever spoken with but I remain grateful for their years of inspiring work. There are many, many more, so please don’t hate me for not naming everyone.

I’ll continue to write, turning towards the playoffs, a bit about football and before we know it, we’ll be warming up the Hot Stove for what should be another wild free agent season. I’m also going to do whatever I can to land more interviews with baseball insiders since the response from the three interviews was so overwhelmingly positive.

Jason Continue reading I made it

Isn't it always, though?

“It was a great feeling to get the hell out of Tampa”
Andrew Brackman, NY Yankees’ 2007 first-round draft pick

Isn’t it always, Andrew?

Sixteen months since throwing his last pitch and then strengthening his surgically repaired right elbow at the team’s Tampa facility, Brackman finally takes aim on scaling the organizational ladder and showing why he commanded a $4.55 million guaranteed major league contract that included a $3.35 million signing bonus.

He’ll be thrown into the fire immediately, too, as Brackman is scheduled to pitch in the circuit’s opening night Saturday…

Fellow Yanks fans can only hope he really develops into everything we hope:
… Brackman has much to prove, and not just to make up for lost time. The Yankees have tweaked his wind-up, incorporating a hands-over-the-head approach, and a changeup is now in Brackman’s arsenal.

It could be an even more menacing approach from a pitcher who is a listed 6-foot-10, 240 pounds and was touching 96 mph in a recent intrasquad game.

That’d be nice. Very nice.

Continue reading Isn't it always, though?

So low and close you can see it and almost smell it

You are so low and close you can see it and almost smell it,” said Glen Millen, who estimates that he has flown into and out of La Guardia 1,800 times since he began flying for American Airlines in 1986.

Call me crazy if you wish, but actually reading about it scares me:

La Guardia is one of the few airports in the country where pilots use land markers instead of instruments to guide their landings, along with Seattle (a shopping mall) and Washington (a river). Shea Stadium, which from the sky looks like a blue circle with a green center, is a primary runway guidepost. For one of the more common landing routes, pilots are instructed to follow the Long Island Expressway until they arrive at the eastern side of the stadium, at which point they bank the plane left around the outfield wall and head straight for Runway 31.

And tell me this wouldn’t leave you freakin’ terrified:

In 1964, the Mets’ first season at Shea, a pilot got an even closer look. He mistook the lights on top of the stadium for the runway and nearly hit it as the team took batting practice before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, according to sportswriters who covered the Mets that season and a player on the field that day.

Who says pilots aren’t any fun or lack a sense of humor:

Until the 1980s, when radios that were used in cockpits to pick up transmitters began to be phased out, some pilots would tune them to the local broadcasts of the Mets games during landing and take-off.

You would dial in and you could hear your plane fly over,” said Sam Mayer, a pilot with American Airlines since 1990. “There were guys who would goose the throttles to make a louder noise so they could hear themselves on the radio.”

And frankly, anytime I can get some good Airplane movie pictures up, well, that’s a good thing. Striker!

Continue reading So low and close you can see it and almost smell it