The Axis of Evil?

Tell me you’re shocked when you see this picture:

I’m not. Except it’s not really what you think. It’s not a regularly scheduled meeting of the Domineering Owners Club. The Old Rich White Guy Ownership Association? The Loose Skin Gray Hair Society? Aviators and Dr. 90210? Turtlenecks and Neck-tucks?

These guys are uniting to form a new stadium hospitality company. In short, they want to make your stadium experiences better.
The New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, Goldman Sachs and CIC Partners today announced that they have founded Legends Hospitality Management, LLC), a new company that will offer a broad range of sports business services. Legends’ initial focus will be on operating catering, concessions, retail merchandising and other facility management enterprises for major sports and entertainment facilities.

Pete Abe provides his usual spot-on analysis and wit:
What this means: Teams have traditionally provided concessions via an independent company such as Aramark or Centerplate. Those companies pay for the rights to operate in the stadiums.

The Yankees and Cowboys borrowed $100 million from Goldman Sachs and will form their own company to handle food, team stores, etc. at their new stadiums. Much of this will be to enhance the atmosphere in the suites. The company hopes to branch out to other teams, arenas and colleges.

By cutting out the middleman, the teams theoretically should make more money. This seems like a smart move by the Steinbrenners. Hal Steinbrenner spoke about a year ago about such ventures and Hank Steinbrenner, you may recall, once predicted the Yankees could work with the Red Sox. This is the kind of thing they were talking about.

In time, I suspect you’ll see teams share a cable network or a radio network. The Yankees and Cowboys reach across a lot boundaries and demographics.

Meanwhile, George Steinbrenner is apparently going for a Weekend At Bernie’s look as he meets Jerry Jones.

Let it be thusly noted, it’s once again about the money. And, for all the anti-Yankee fans out there, this is just another way the Yanks are flexing their financial might. First it was the YES Network, then there was the agreement with Man U. And now they are getting into hospitality. So when your favorite team cries poverty, ask them why they haven’t branched out vertically or horizontally.

Hate them all you want, but you have to be impressed with the behind the scenes management team who probably got this done. There are probably some really bright strategy guys as well as creative bankers (what credit crisis? Need $100 million, sure!) who made sure this got done.

Of course, it was just yesterday when I noted the Jerry Jones “I’m not like him” comment with the great retort, even though the original comment by Jones wasn’t made yesterday. Good times, my friends.

Any chance Marion Barber can play 1B?

Continue reading The Axis of Evil?

Peavy not diggin' NY

OK, Peavy doesn’t love NY. He’d rather bat. Yawn. Just tell me when he agrees to waive his NTC, otherwise, I will assume that NY is still a player in this chessmatch.

“Jake strongly prefers the National League, and it would take major enticement to get him to agree to go to any American League club,” [agent Barry] Axelrod e-mailed. “He has obviously had a lot of success in the NL and feels very comfortable there. Also, he is a pretty good hitter, and he views that as an advantage.”

Since when have the Yanks been reluctant to add a major enticement? I’ll believe the Yanks are out of this drama only when the news crosses the wire that Peavy has been dealt somewhere out. You just can’t count out the richest guy in the room flashing his wallet when he wants something.

What would Peavy want? Another year guaranteed? CHECK. Special suites on the road? CHECK. Flying home on off-days? CHECK. Pinch hit during blow-outs when you’re not pitching? Sure, why not!

Maybe I am crazy, but it seems that those who fear the NYC have something to hide. If you have the skills, there’s no bigger stage on which to perform. If he was a singer playing to nice quiet, mid-sized crowds in Balboa Park and was offered to come play Carnegie Hall, only someone who doubts their abilities would balk at such a chance. Perhaps that’s just me, but if you’re among the best, why not take the chance to steer yourself to a team that you know will be at least competitive, if not better, for the next decade? Perhaps that means going to the Red Sox not the Yanks, but why the fear of the AL? And don’t hide behind the “I am a good hitter. I want to bat” crap. I don’t buy it for a second.

Sorry for the NYC-bias.

UPDATE (10/21/08, 9:41am): Update courtesy of Buster:

There may be other considerations, as well, Axelrod said, without elaborating. But Peavy certainly would have the leverage to extract more guaranteed money from his next team. Players in a similar situation as he is in have asked that a contractual option be exercised in return for waiving a no-trade clause, and Peavy has a $22 million option for 2013, with a $4 million buyout; he could just ask for more money in the buyout.

Another factor for Peavy to consider, Axelrod said, is what other types of moves the Padres make in the weeks ahead — what moves are made to improve the team, or if there are more cutbacks. No matter what he ultimately decides that he wants, Peavy will hold the hammer that could break apart the trade talks.

Yet again, I assert that if the only thing separating Peavy from the AL is monetary concessions, that’s not a hurdle that can’t be cleared. If more money is all Peavy is looking for –in the way of guarantees, additional years, etc.– then the Yanks will meet his demands. Continue reading Peavy not diggin' NY

Ouchie

Even I have gotta admit, this is pretty good:

I am so grounded in the thinking that higher payrolls don’t win Super Bowls. I’ve never experienced success throwing money at players. I never see myself [being a Steinbrenner].”– Dallas owner Jerry Jones, at the NFL Meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., last March.

Welcome to the Yankees.”– Dallas Morning News Cowboys beat writer Calvin Watkins, to fledgling Cowboy beat writer Brian Davis, last Tuesday in the middle of the Pacman/Roy Williams mayhem.

Hard to argue, eh Jerry? Continue reading Ouchie

The Brass Balls Award goes to…

Joe Maddon! For bringing in highly touted, greener-than-a-Prius-from-New-Hampshire, little-used David Price in the most pressure filled moment of the organization’s brief (and brutal) history!

Rays manager Joe Maddon then called for Chad Bradford to pitch to Kevin Youkilis, who drew a walk to load the bases. David Price became the fifth and final Rays pitcher of the inning, when the 23-year-old rookie left-hander was brought in to pitch to J.D. Drew. He struck Drew out looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the threat.

In the ninth, Price issued a walk to Jason Bay, then struck out Mark Kotsay and Jason Varitek, before getting Lowrie to ground into the forceout to end the game.

“I felt really good about David tonight,” Maddon said. “David, when you talk about him prior to the game, this young man is composed beyond his years, he really is, and I think you’ve all had a chance to understand that if you’ve even had one conversation with him.

“So it was just important to get through that murderer’s row that they have there, and then eventually turn it over to him. That was my thought. And again, it was just about throwing strikes, and he’s been a strike-thrower his whole life.”

There are gutsy calls, hunches and calculated risks. Then there is Joe Maddon turning to David Price, with the bases loaded, against the defending champs, in the 8th inning, with the bases loaded. And Price K’s Drew, then the first two outs of the ninth (after a walk) before getting the grounder to second to end it. Reminds me of when K-Rod burst onto the scene for the Angels out of nowhere back in 2002.

Awesome!

More on The Move That Iced The Pennant:

Tampa Bay’s worst to first saga was the feel-good story of this season, and it probably was fitting that Price – the least experienced of the young Rays – was on the mound at the most critical point of the ALCS.

Minimal experience, but I was not hesitant,” manager Joe Maddon said.
……
I wanted the ball,” Price said. “I think everybody down there in the ‘pen wanted the ball tonight.”

And no, David, I will bet not everyone wanted the ball. I’d bet a bunch of guys had that sphynchter-tightening feeling and were content watching you go out and nail it down.

May as well sign him to a multi-year deal now!

Continue reading The Brass Balls Award goes to…

Cashing in bonds; Bonds cashing in

While the rest of the economy is squirrelling away cash in their mattresses, cashing in bonds and their 401k’s early and generally not spending much on anything not essential, good old Barry Bonds and his collusionary claims might result in a massive payday.

Barry Bonds could seek $100 million or more if an arbitrator finds baseball owners colluded to end his career, according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, which allows for triple damages from lost earnings.
……
[Willie] Mays, Bonds’ godfather, recently told HBO’s Bob Costas he believed Bonds could play as many as three more years. The $100 million figure, while seemingly ludicrous, could be sought by arguing that Bonds might have earned more than $30 million in three years, and tripling the damages.

I don’t think Bonds was methodically colluded against. I actually think that the owners and GMs all came to similar conclusions on their own. A stretch given Mgmt’s historical stupidity and impulsiveness, but given his looming lawsuit, the excess attention and PR, the requirements of mgmt to blindly support Bonds, and his not-to-lovable presence in the lockerroom, I think it’s a pretty obvious conclusion. Groupthink*, perhaps, but not collusion. I think the Mgmt was simply afraid to go near Bonds.

* Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas.

(thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com for the tip)

Continue reading Cashing in bonds; Bonds cashing in

Leverage, behold thy name is NTC

So my favorite non-free agent –Jake Peavy– has laid out his five NL landing places. Nice choices, if I say so myself. Of course, by limiting himself to just the NL and only these five, he’s using all the leverage afforded to him via his NTC. Which is well with his contractual right.

San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy, the Cy Young Award winner currently being dangled in trade talks, initially indicated to the Padres that he would prefer a deal to one of five teams — Atlanta, St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.

Naturally the Padres front office will explore some other options, presumably some in the AL. Otherwise, these five teams have little incentive to hand over the gems of their farm systems. It seems that Atlanta has the best array of high minor league talent to offer the Pads but appears to be reluctant to do so. I’d also guess that if LAD wanted to dangle Kemp, Dewitt and another arm or two, it could get done, but will LA want to do that? Especially if they are already going to make a serious play on CC or Manny. Can they take on $20m for Manny plus Peavy’s deal? The Cubbies dealt some young talent to land Harden; do they have much left to hand to San Diego for Peavy? Does their changing ownership scuttle taking on another fairly sizable contract?

So that leaves San Diego exploring the AL teams 1) who can afford to take on the contract, 2) deliver the bounty that the Padres want in return and 3) who are contenders that would appeal to Peavy. To me, that’s Tampa (they have the talent and should have some loot to spend), NY, Boston, LAA, maybe Detroit. Who am I missing? Could Cleveland be a dark horse? Chicago?

If I were the Yanks, I’d send guys like Moose, Pettitte (yes, they are both free agents, but let’s assume they both want to return and will, at least for the sake of this exercise) on a recruiting trip. Moose, from a small town in PA, and Pettitte, from Houston, can attest to how the Big Bad City can be a friend, not a foe. Of course, they can’t do this unless there’s some window of negotiation or something for fear of tampering. And if the team couldn’t have these guys do the talking, I’d hope Cashman would tell Towers to describe their situations to Peavy to let him know guys from small towns have come to NY and been beloved. Or at least be-liked.

Peavy, 27, has a full no-trade clause, and he has not given San Diego any indication that he would accept a deal to the Yankees or any other American League team. But the Padres are in the process of gauging interest from those clubs, as well — and if they were to identify an offer that they find acceptable, perhaps for a couple of pitchers and a center fielder, officials with other teams sense that San Diego would move quickly to complete a deal.

The Yanks need to go to Towers with an aggressive offer to show they mean business and then hope Peavy isn’t a shrinking violet.

Of course, I said much the same when the Yanks got Javy Vazquez. I told my Dad how great this guy is gonna be, how he was an emerging stud in Montreal and with his big K rates, he’d thrive in NY. Um, not so much. History, schmistory.

Meh, I still want Peavy!

Continue reading Leverage, behold thy name is NTC

TNYS: The grass is down and the video is huge

The sod is being laid and watered, the cranes are still up and there’s a ginormous video scoreboard in dead center field. The center of it is huge, but consider the wrap-around balance of the video display…. crazy big. And the lettering across the left-center field monitor looks nice.

Haters can continue to hate but I’m liking what I am seeing.

Click here for all of the pictures

Video is here:

Continue reading TNYS: The grass is down and the video is huge

Joba to start

Yes, there are risks about his shoulder, but with proper physical therapy and training this off-season, there is no reason why Joba can’t be a starter from 2009 forward. In fact, this is the only logical solution.

The plan as of right now is Chamberlain is going to be a starter,” the Yankees co-chairman said Thursday after five hours of organizational meetings at the team’s spring training complex. “Everybody’s pretty much in agreement with that.”

Including all the piss-ants? Continue reading Joba to start

Shocking but not surprising

As hard as it is for me to watch, you just have to be impressed with the way the Sox clawed back from certain death last night. If this was in a movie, you’d laugh it off as improbable. If this was a soap opera, the scene would have been the doctor removing the tube on the patient, the priest administering last rights and then having the patient sit up and ask what’s all the fuss about.

With the Sox, it’s no longer surprising, but it’s still shocking. I remember back to the early phases of the Yanks run in the mid-90’s; there was always a sense of calm, a feeling that the team not only could come back, but would. The Sox have that same mojo right now. That’s the element of experience that can’t be taught. Sox fans, enjoy this win and enjoy this team. It’s hard not to be impressed, even as a Yanks fan.

I think Maddon has the right mindset, of course, but the Rays better come out guns a’blazing in Game 6 or that momemtum shift will be real and hard to turn back.
“Of course we’re upset, of course, we don’t like losing that game, of course,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “But to dwell on it does no good whatsoever. We’ll lose heart for about a half hour or so, get on that plane, go home and then we’ll come back out for Game 6, and roll it out there again.”

Go Rays! Continue reading Shocking but not surprising