About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

Will Chavez’s death bring baseball “sweatshops” back to Venezuela?


In case you don’t pay even a cursory amount of attention to world news: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died of cancer last week. The controversial (yes, I hate that euphemism too) leader was best known as the most visible figure in the South American socialist movement, largely due to his fondness for loudly and prominently criticizing the United States government in the harshest of terms. His death and political divisions in the country are likely to create quite a bit of turmoil in Venezuela as various factions strive to seize control in the vacuum of power, and Major League Baseball sits among those who will watch with intense interest in the future direction of the nation that boasts more major league players than anyone other than the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

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Rivera’s legacy about much more than games saved

Mariano Rivera
Though yesterday’s reports that Mariano Rivera will be announcing his intention to retire after this season tomorrow were hardly surprising, they aren’t exactly welcome by any means. Much like last year, when Rivera seemed poised to announce it would be his final season before that torn ACL knocked him out of action for the final five months of the season and apparently caused him to reconsider, the realization that we’ll all soon be living in a world that does not include number 42 closing games for the Yankees is jarring, and should inspire a sense of loss in baseball fans everywhere.

The first baseball season I can consciously remember being aware of was the 1995 season, but given that I didn’t have ESPN at the time I didn’t get a chance to pay much attention to things going on outside of Cincinnati and whatever was being covered on the local news there. That was remedied the following season, so for all intents and purposes, my entire lifetime as a fan of MLB has involved Mariano Rivera. I suppose I’m not telling you anything most of you don’t know, but it’s a rather sobering thing to have players you’ve literally “known” for as long as you can remember calling it quits, especially when they’ve been as consistent, reliable, and downright great as Rivera.

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Michael Weiner’s head still firmly buried in the sand


It’s been a rough 15 months or so for the Major League Baseball Players Association. After hastily and enthusiastically agreeing to a new collective bargaining with the league amidst an unprecedented lack of rancor and with very little push back against Commissioner Selig’s top priorities, the players and union officials were quickly confronted with the realization that, no, the days of baseballs’ owners constantly trying to get one over on the players were not over, and that the unions desire to take a business partner like approach with the league was not going to be reciprocated.

The rude awakening really began with the overturning of Ryan Braun’s PED related suspension last winter. Despite the fact that MLBPA has been as agreeable as any sports union out there to drug testing, pushing well into the realm of vigorously supporting efforts to catch players taking banned substances, the league reacted to long time and well respected arbitrator Shyam Das’ decision not with respectful acceptance of the decision and the union’s pro-testing position, but by blasting the decision, making laughable threats to appeal the ruling in federal court, and taking the downright remarkable step of firing the jointly employed arbitrator for having the nerve to rule against their position in a high profile case.

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The last chapter of The Joba Saga?

joba frustrated

Has there ever been a more bizarrely polarizing player than Joba Chamberlain? Don’t get me wrong, there have certainly been more polarizing athletes than Joba, but in general you can understand why these players produce the strong reactions in people that they do. To break it down, there are two main categories of really polarizing athletes. Your first group, best embodied by such luminaries as Barry Bonds and Ray Lewis, are the all-time great caliber players who are absolutely beloved by their own fan base, but pretty roundly disliked by everyone else. The second group consists of obscenely talented, almost always extremely young, players who seem to absolutely dominate their competition without even breaking a sweat, causing some people to admire them and other to buck the crowd and despise them. Lebron James and Alex Rodriguez are the two examples of this group that immediately come to mind.

But by and large, there’s one nearly unfailing thread that binds all of these players together as a group: they’re really good! Like, somewhere in the range from perennial All-Stars to “in the conversation for best [whatever] ever” good. And then you have Joba. A good player, sure, and yes, for one brief period of time he was downright spectacular, but as of right now he’ll be lucky to get even a token Hall of Fame vote, let alone inspire a debate over where he ranks amongst the all-time great pitchers. And yet, I think it’s safe to say that no one on the Yankees at the moment produces the sort of mixed (and passionate) feeling among Yankee fans that Joba does, and really has done since he hit the scene back in 2007.

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How dire is the 2013 outlook?

As the weather warms up and the Alex Rodriguez scandal fades a bit with real baseball games being played, expect this to be the new top problem for the Yankees:

You have to go all the way back to 1992 for a spring training of lower expectations than this one for both the Yankees and the Mets, where in both cases, our locals have a better chance of finishing last than finishing first this season.


When last seen, the Yankees were being booed out of the Stadium amid a blizzard of strikeouts en route to being swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS last October, while the Mets, after playing above .500 baseball up until July 20, limped home with a 12-18 September, in front of a lot of empty seats, finishing fourth, 74-88.

Unfortunately, the offseason bore little fruit for either team in its hopes for a better ending in 2013. In the Yankees’ case there is sufficient evidence that they’ve regressed while GM Brian Cashman has sat back and watched one prospective improvement player after another go elsewhere, the latest being switch-hitting shortstop Jed Lowrie, who had 16 homers and 42 RBI with the Astros last year, and went to the Oakland A’s for defensively challenged first baseman Chris Carter and a couple of so-so prospects.

How will they contend without Jed Lowrie’s 90 games indeed?

You certainly shouldn’t be surprised by this, if only because I’ve been telling you for years that a significant portion of the fanbase needs this sort of pessimism is to create a sense of drama to following the Yankees, and that’s where the mainstream press finds their audience these days. So there’s going to be plenty of the papers over the next couple of weeks, and the key is to keep it in proper perspective and know when to shrug it off. I mean, more likely to be last than first? They’re closer talent wise to Boston than to Toronto? C’mon.

Most of all, keep in mind that despite all of their success, it’s not like the Yankees haven’t been down this road before. The 2007 and 2008 teams both had issues that were obvious from Spring Training on, and contra Madden, I don’t think this year is nearly as precarious as 2011 looked when camp opened. That, of course, was the year that Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia were competing for a job in the Yankees starting rotation (and both were eventually starting in April), while the Red Sox were being talked about as one of the greatest teams of all time. No disrespect to Toronto. This current roster at least looks better than that year’s team did, and the Yankees still won more games than any other American League team.

Which is not to say that everything is roses and there’s no chance of the season taking a horribly awful turn for the Bombers, just that it’s far too early to fret about that, and this team isn’t nearly so bad that you should assume that’s going to happen. Or find yourself pining for Jed Lowrie. Continue reading How dire is the 2013 outlook?

Hal speaks on A-Rod, Cano

Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner just spent some time talking to reporters in Tampa, and with plenty to talk about with less than five days until camp officially opened, he dropped a handful of interesting tidbits. Here’s a rundown:

  • The Yankees are concerned about the latest allegations of PED usage by Alex Rodriguez, but the situation is ot of their hands. MLB is investigating the matter and the league, not the Yankees, will be responsible fo handing out any punishment Alex might be in line for.
  • The Yankees have talked about an extension with Robinson Cano “recently,” and Hal would like to see Robbie as a career Yankee.
  • The Yankees are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Hal thinks there’s still time to find one. Ya know, no one has ever stipulated that the Yankees are looking for a good one…
  • And finally, Hal still doesn’t understand why people call him cheap, referencing the one year pacts the Yankees gave Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte as his counter-examples. ” Sometimes I scratch my head,” he said. Maybe this gig just isn’t for you, Hal.

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Dave for the Cave

On Wednesday night, Stacey and I hosted David Greenwald as our guest on On the Money. Dave is vying for a spot in MLB’s fan cave, and is the only Yankees fan from New York left in the running, which is about all it takes to get the coveted IIATMS endorsement in the contest. So if you’ve got a minute, consider giving Dave a vote, and enjoy this video he made as an application.

Continue reading Dave for the Cave

On the Money 2/7/2012

A steroids free show for you tonight! Eschewing talk of doping and media reports for the evening, Stacey and I discuss the Mariners giving Felix Hernandez the largest contract ever for a pitcher, and then we wrap up our tour of the A.L. East competition by breaking down the division’s prohibitive favorites north of the border with Ruhee Dewji of Double Switching. Enjoy!

Listen to internet radio with IIATMS Radio on Blog Talk Radio

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Wait, why shouldn’t the media cooperate with MLB?

As the Biogenesis scandal moves into its next phase, the obvious question is what repercussions, if any, the players associated with Tony Bosch will face. MLB would like to investigate the matter, but most of the records are in the possession of the Miami New Times, and they aren’t sure they want to hand them over to MLB:

Here’s the truth: We haven’t yet decided what do with the records from Tony Bosch’s clinic. We’ve shared many of them already, posting them online last week after carefully redacting names of people we didn’t think were well enough confirmed or sufficiently newsworthy.

The question of whether to release the records is thorny, and there are few precedents. They were given to us by a source who requested anonymity. We will not divulge that person’s name. We take this responsibility very seriously.

Moreover, reporters are not law enforcement. Nor do we discipline anybody for anything. Our job is to transparently lay out the facts and let the public — and responsible parties — decide whether action is needed.

Of course, we do want justice. And as a parent of three kids who play sports, I want badly to discourage use of these drugs that endanger peoples’ health.

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