About @Jason_IIATMS

IIATMS overlord and founder. ESPN contributor. Purveyor of luscious reality.

R.I.P. “Gus” Gotsulias

Friends of the site, as many of you know, Stacey’s dad, Constantine “Gus” Gotsulias, had been fighting some pretty serious illness the last few weeks. Which, understandably, is why you haven’t seen or heard from her much. She’d been too busy by her Mom’s and brother’s sides, trying to nurse Gus back to health. Unfortunately, this weekend (10/3/14), Gus succumbed and passed away. Although, Stacey told me they watched Jeter’s last game together in the hospital and was able to point up at the TV when Jeter doubled in the first inning, before falling asleep before the end of the game.

I’ve been reluctant to write about this out of concern for Stacey’s privacy, but at the calling hours last night, Stacey told me it was OK to post something. It’s worth noting that Stacey and her brother had a tremendous “NY” flower arrangement last night, and her brother James had on display a 1941 style Yanks cap in honor of the year of Gus’ birth. His love of this ballclub clearly impacted the Gotsulias family deeply, which explains how emotionally attached Stacey is with this, and within the way she writes.

Kindly say a prayer (or whatever works for you) for Stacey and her family as they perservere. They showed remarkable strength last evening, although things will undoubtedly get worse before they get better. The funeral is today. Please feel free to use the comments below to convey any messages to her as I am quite certain she will be reading all of them and will appreciate your support. On behalf of her and her family, I thank you.

In lieu of flowers, if you want to make a donation, please send any amount you’re comfortable to the Weill-Cornell burn unit, who took such good care of Gus the last few weeks. Continue reading R.I.P. “Gus” Gotsulias

Game 20 Overflow thread: First against worst

Here’s your overflow thread, you commenting fools!

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The American League East standings look quite good right now, month be damned. Who cares if we’re less than an eighth of the way through the season, right? And, of course, it’s #TANAK day!

New York Yankees Boston Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Grady Sizemore, RF
Derek Jeter, SS Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carlos Beltran, DH David Ortiz, DH
Alfonso Soriano, LF Mike Napoli, 1B
Mark Teixeira, 1B Jonny Gomes, LF
Brian McCann, C A.J. Pierzynski, C
Yangervis Solarte, 3B Xander Bogaerts, SS
Ichiro Suzuki, RF Brock Holt, 3B
Brian Roberts, 2B Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Masahiro Tanaka, SP Jon Lester, SP

Continue reading Game 20 Overflow thread: First against worst

Thoughts on Jeter retiring

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Derek Sanderson Jeter announced on Wednesday that 2014 would be his final year in pinstripes. This was not entirely a surprise given his wreck of a 2013 season and the fact that Father Time halts for no one. Even coming off a season, as a Yanks fan, which disappointed on the field, but provided an incredible chance to say farewell to two of our favorites, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, we shouldn’t have been surprised to learn of Jeter’s decision.

Yet, when confronted with the stark, black-and-white reality of his announcement, I was stunned. Still am.

I’ve been contemplating this posting for quite some time now, actually, trying to figure out how to eulogize his career, even if he’s got one season left. A few thoughts came to mind, so since I so rarely get to sit and craft a baseball-related sentence these days, I’ll give it a shot at summarizing a few of them. I’m quite sure, too, that more thoughts and stories and whatnot will come from myself and the team here over the course of the year and I welcome all of you to add in yours whenever you feel compelled.

My first thought, quite simply, was “I hate getting old.” It’s not that I’m getting old; we all are. It’s just that for those of us over, ahem, 35, Derek Jeter represents our post-adolescent fanhood. I was indoctrinated into Yankees fandom during the Bronx Zoo era, loving Thurman and Reggie, Goose and Gator, Sparky and Billy, Willie and Bucky. But I was a young kid then and while I still immortalize those guys, they were gone or done by the time I hit my adolescence. Like many, my interest in the game waned a bit in my late teens, despite my love for Don Mattingly, as college was more all-consuming (and Orange hoops, baby!). But then I finished college and baseball and I got reacquainted.

Suddenly there was Bernie and Jorge, a skinny Mo and some kid from NJ who moved to a city with a funny name in Michigan who always dreamed of being the shortstop for the New York Yankees. I mean, who DIDN’T want to do that?!? Except Jeter actual did it. And I was hooked. For the last 19 or so years, Derek and I have seen a lot together. I got married. He opted to stay single. I had kids. He opted to stay single. But darned near every day there was a game, #2 led my childhood team out onto the field, representing everything I imagined a ballplayer should look like, should act, should be.

Jeter did everything the right way, or what we were told the right way was, whatever that might be. His ability to keep out of the muck and mire of NYC rap sheets, to say plenty while saying absolutely nothing, to lead by example moreso than through histrionics, and winning almost the whole time was an honor to watch. Rookies (and some veterans) should be forced to study the way this guy has comported himself over the last two decades as the way to survive and thrive. To steal from Sinatra’s line, if Jeter can do it here, any player can do it anywhere else, if they only follow the rules.

Again, so it’s not that Jeter is going to retire, it’s that it officially ends that nebulous and tumultuous time called post-adolescence. Jeter and I are entering that other phase, no not “middle age” dammit, the one before it, whatever it’s called. That point in one’s life when you still think you can do everything your mind tells you to do but the body is a little less than willing. Eh, it happens and when the realization hits, it’s sad. Not sad in that a period of life is over because, hopefully, like me, you have so many reasons to be happy with what’s in front of you and what’s also ahead of you, also knowing what’s behind you was pretty darned neat, too. Just the passage of time and the end of that awesome phase of your life.

The other thought that struck me about the announcement was to try to frame Jeter in my perspectives of what he also represents. I began the natural debates on where he sits on the list of all-time greatest Yankees ever (answer: at the good table up front) and stopped because there will be ample time to dissect those nuances forever. Now’s not that time, for me, at least.

For me and those of you who are of a similar age range, Derek Jeter is my Mickey Mantle. My dad had The Mick. Every Bob Costas and Billy Crystal and former-Mayor Giuliani idolized that guy. Hell, I wore #7 as a kid because Mick was, well THE MICK. It’s not that I tired of hearing about Mantle from my dad, because I never will, but any attempt to bestow those same feelings towards him was me merely co-opting my father’s memories. Thurman Munson was gone too soon, as was Reggie, obviously for different reasons. Catfish and Sparky, Goose and Bucky “bleepin” Dent, Graig and Willie. Loved ’em all but none were in that most precious inner circle of Yankee greatness.

Jeter is MY Mickey Mantle. Thankfully my boys have grown up knowing only #2 at shortstop and they will have to put me in my old age home with me telling and retelling stories about The Dive, The Flip, Mr. November, jump throws and other such mental memorabilia.

Like my father and Mantle, I too know that Jeter is not perfect, albeit for different reasons. I recognize his shortcomings on defense and all that jazz. I understand he never won an MVP or hit 30 home runs. But hot damn, could he ever play. There will be no smarter player to lace ’em up, taking the extra base, being in the right positions, completely prepared to play at all times, totally aware of game situations. I’m not sure how many players will have earned as much respect by their opponents and other fans than Jeter. Willing to bet it’s a short list. For that, I’m sad that Jeter’s leaving, but thrilled that the guy I, we, put our faith into for so many years almost never failed to deliver for us. He made us proud to be fans and honored to have watched him, in good times and bad. He’s one of ours. He’s my Mantle and that won’t change.

I’m honestly not sure if I am prepared to face a baseball world without #2 in it, being announced by the late, great Bob Sheppard. Thankfully, we have all of 2014 to ponder it and enjoy seeing him once again lead the team onto the field.

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Jason is the founder of IIATMS, which can be found on Twitter @IIATMS and on Facebook. Jason can be followed on Twitter @Jason_IIATMS. Continue reading Thoughts on Jeter retiring

ARod’s court date set

arod93013Do you believe in coicidence?

U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan yesterday granted MLB’s request for a hearing in its bid to dismiss Rodriguez’s lawsuit over his suspension. He scheduled court for Feb. 14, the same day the Yankees will be opening their training camp in Tampa, Florida.

We can expect a media circus in Tampa because, well, (a) they are the Yankees, (b) Masahiro Tanaka is in town, (c) they spent a few hundred million on “others” named Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury. Oh, and (d) Derek Jeter is back.

But it’s not looking like Alex Rodriguez will be there because, I am assuming, he wants/needs to be at that hearing. I mean, he can’t storm out of that one, too, can he? Continue reading ARod’s court date set

The IIATMS interview

IIATMSLogoLast week, Stacey and I spoke with fellow writer/blogger/good person Howard Megdal for Capital New York, who was curious to talk about our history and evolution as a blog, from the beginning, to ESPN, to SNY, back to ESPN. My discussion with Howard lasted well over an hour, and I had a blast reliving some of the things that have happened to and at this site since I started it over 6 years ago. Six years in the blogosphere is forever in real life, but it has been an awesome run, a run I have no intention of stopping any time soon. So long as there are hungry, talented, and eager people willing to put their thoughts and opinions out for consumption (a brave feat, trust me), we will be here.

It’s funny, as I sit here now, it’s not about me trying to change careers or anything like that anymore. [I tried that for a split second but it wasn’t going to happen.] I’ve graduated to the parenting side of this, with pleasure. But if I can enable this platform to launch others, so be it. We have had so many excellent contributors to this site over the years, so many people I am proud to call friends, even if we’ve never really met. Not to mention the legions of readers and commenters who I now seemingly know not even by name, but by style…

It is also funny, given the name of this site, that I’ve never once done this for the money. It truly has NOT been about the money. It’s been about creating a community of baseball fans who want to share thoughts and opinions in a smart discussion, free from the other stuff that goes on at other, larger domains. This intimacy we have developed is pretty cool.

Anyways, enjoy the read. And thanks, as usual.

A special thanks to the immensely talented team currently filling these “pages” with top notch work every day. You have all rekindled my interest in this in a way I’m not sure you realize. It’s an honor. And the group emails are the most fun I have in the day (at least until I get to my family at the end of the day).

“I totally want this thing to keep going,” Rosenberg said. “I take immense pride in the quality of work that goes out on a daily basis. … My goal is to be their biggest cheerleader, and get them whatever they need to do the most they can with this little platform.

“If they want to take it, and launch themselves to Fangraphs next, to a major site, great, I’ll be their biggest supporter the whole way. That would be the best compliment I could get, that people graduate from me and go elsewhere.”

Continue reading The IIATMS interview

Quote of the Day, Sox-slamming edition

photoESPN’s SweetSpot overlord Dave Schoenfield has quite a doozy of a mocking quote of the day while hilariously dismantling Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino’s gripes about the return of the Evil Empire:

If we win, it’s because of the smart guys like me. If we lose — at least to the Yankees or the Dodgers — it’s because we can’t spend money like they do.

Yes, that’s Dave pretending to be Lucchino. Thank you, Dave, for calling out yet another stupid troll set of comments from the Sox leadership. The worst part is that most Sox fans (no not all, but the great many) actually believe in their heart of hearts that Lucchino speaketh the truthiest truth there ever was. Except it’s not, so thanks again, Dave, for calling it out.

Sure Larry, you are a poor, small market team who possess only uber-thinkers with limited financial resources. Um hmm.

I’ve got Tampa on the line, something about them ordering a giant STFU sign for when the Sox visit. Continue reading Quote of the Day, Sox-slamming edition

My Hall Of Fame Ballot

2014-hof-ballotThis year, I was invited to vote in the IBWAA Hall Of Fame selection, thanks to IBWAA founder Howard Cole. The results were published on Monday here, where Cole noted:

In its 2014 Hall of Fame election the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) selected Greg Maddux with 98.23% of the vote, Tom Glavine with 88.50% of the vote, Frank Thomas with 84.07%, and Craig Biggio with 78.76%. A 75% threshold is required for election.

That’s a handsome group of electees, but even within this Internet-savvy group, a guy like Maddux remain not a unanimous selection. Why and who did not vote for Maddux can be found here and here, for those curious, but the short answer lies within the Limit Of 10 and these two chose to vote for others on the cusp, rather than the no-brainer. Disagree with their logic if you will, but this is the box that we were put in with the Limit Of 10.

That’s it for the stats that will appear in this post. No reference to WAR, ERA+, HR, RBI, any Game 7 performance, WHIP.

[It’s worth noting that the IBWAA elected Mike Piazza last year, where the BBWAA did not; although the IBWAA have yet to elect Barry Larkin, where the BBWAA already have.]

I encourage you to have a read of the announcement as a select list of voters indicates that this is not just some random group of wannabe writers, rather this vote represents some of the best minds covering the game today. I also strongly recommend that you check out Howard’s thoughts on the IBWAA and this election specifically here. We’re all frustrated by the process and at least Howard is giving some the chance to vent and be heard, even if it’s just to each other.

Before getting into my personal selections, I have spent untold hours considering the Hall of Fame, what it represents, why I/we continue to care and what do we do about these nefarious miscreants who used, or have been accused, or even been near someone who might have used, PEDs. I have debated this with friends, my fellow IIATMS writers, my father, my brother, my sons. Some will agree with me, some won’t. I’ve read as much as I can from all walks of writers, old school grumps who swear by fear as a measure of worthiness and new school guys like Jay Jaffe who have systematically dissected the candidates far better than I would have on my own. I agree with some of each. I like most of Buster Olney’s selections, kinda liked some of Jayson Stark’s but definitely not all of it, but great googlymoogly did Ken Gurnick crap the bed today.

Onto my process, or at least the refinement part which comes after dismissing those you have already decided are not worthy (screw you, Kenny Rogers and especially you, Armando Benitez!).

I struggled with some pitchers, namely Mike Mussina, Jack Morris and Curt Schilling. All three have worthy claims to the Hall, but my biggest burden was the Limit of 10, which is a shame. That said, those three did not make my ballot. I think Moose and Schilling certainly deserve election and will likely be on my ballot going forward. And I am quite sure the Veteran’s Committee will elect Morris before either Moose or Schilling are elected; battle lines have been drawn, folks.

I struggled mightily with Edgar Martinez. No doubting his amazing skill as a batter and I’m not going to avoid him because he was a DH. He’s just on the outside and depending what the ballot looks like next year, would certainly get my vote. Writers spoke about the fear (oooh, scary word) that Jim Rice created; I can’t imagine that fear any greater than when Edgar came to the plate. I’d take Edgar over Rice. Just hope you get in before David Ortiz hits the ballot.

Fred McGriff, impressive career, just not high enough given the talent and limitations I have to wade through. I promise to give him a deeper dive going forward.

Jeff Kent, Alan Trammell: Next year, guys. Ran out of room.

Larry Walker: You, sir, could hit and field. I hope you stay on the ballot so we can put you to the microscope because I’m willing to discount home/away factors. Like Pete Rose (banned!) once said about his philosophy on hitting: “See the ball, hit the ball.” I won’t penalize Walker just as I wouldn’t penalize Babe Ruth from benefitting from the short porch.

PED stuff alert… (holds breath)… I don’t like this stuff any more than you, from a purist point of view and with great fear of sounding too old or pontificating, it’s hard as a father of young boys to teach that cheating is bad when it gets rewarded. That said, I did not discriminate the PED crowd from those who were seemingly “clean” because I/you/we/they will never really know the full, complete truth, so that’s my decision. Not to mention, we have no real starting point of the “Steroid Era”, but we do know that some were using steroids in the ’60’s and ’70’s (at least, thanks to Tom House’s honesty) and we also know greenies were widely used for decades, reportedly by guys like Hank Aaron. The conclusions you draw are yours and yours alone.

Sammy Sosa, an tremendous talent and ohmygod fun to watch in the late 1990’s, did not make my ballot. To me, too one-dimensional. One hell of a dimension, but in this crowded ballot, he’s not getting one of my precious slots. Sorry, Sammy. Peace, tap, kiss.

Rafael Palmeiro was a tough call for me but ultimately did not make my ballot. My reason, and I will admit that I will be reconsidering this one down the road: He got caught and suspended. Everyone else here did not get caught and suspended or penalized. Maybe due to luck or timing or both, but this was the deciding factor. This will be revisited by me next year and beyond, especially once guys like Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez hit the ballot. Shoot, this ain’t easy. But on a ballot this packed, something had to make the seesaw tip.

Onto my selections, in alphabetical order:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Tom Glavine
  6. Barry Larkin (eligible for IBWAA purposes)
  7. Greg Maddux
  8. Mark McGwire
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Frank Thomas

Effectively, Larkin occupies what would have been my Mike Piazza vote (due to the differences with regard to BBWAA vs. IBWAA). I’m not going to run through my rationale on all ten of these gentlemen because so many others more capable than I have summarized their candidacies. I will make mention of McGwire, as he was my 10th place guy here. Like Sosa in his one-dimensionality, but even bigger and better. Did he use PEDs? Of course, he’s admitted as much but he gets the slight nod over Raffy.

So there you have it, my HOF ballot. Get at me in the comments.

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Post-script: Given that we are back at ESPN’s SSN, Jim Edmonds is eligible in 2015. Here’s what I wrote about him on the Network back in 2011. Continue reading My Hall Of Fame Ballot

Back to the future: IIATMS style

Greetings once again, friends. Welcome to 2014, officially, as everyone should be back from time off or a vacation or other method of decompression from the holiday stressors. We here at IIATMS/TYA are proud to be back, ready to roll on yet another year of baseball. We just concluded our best month ever (you guys rule!) and our best year ever (no really, you guys rule!) and are very excited to announce yet another change for this site:

Effective immediately, IIATMS is now, once again, the Yankees blog on ESPN’s SweetSpot Network!

IIATMSTYAbacktoESPN3

[exhales]

Way back in the Fall of 2009, when IIATMS was pretty much just me (Tamar had just joined me), I was invited to join ESPN’s SSN when Rob Neyer founded the mini-network, just in time to ride that wave to title #27. We were there, adding writers (Brien, William, Larry, etc.), through the end of 2011, when we jumped to SNY.  We merged with TYA in early 2013, increasing our depth of talent and our coverage of all things Yankees baseball. Our relationship with SNY concluded once we flipped the calendar to 2014, and we are thrilled to again be part of the ESPN mothership, this time captained by David Schoenfield.

[A quick moment of thanks to the SNY team (Fred Harner, Matt Cerrone, etc.) for being wonderful partners for us.]

Essentially nothing here will change, because everyone thinks change is scary. You will see some ESPN logo/branding appear where SNY’s logo once was. However, content-wise, there will be no changes. The same balanced blend of analytics, research, news and notes, off-beat features and random dives into history that you continue to expect from us.

We are honored that you choose to come here, read, react and comment. Thanks in advance for your continued readership and here’s to a fantastic 2014, complete with #28 waiting for us in October!

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Handy reference links:

Continue reading Back to the future: IIATMS style

Reposting: The National Baseball Hall of Fame And Museum

Twas the day before Christmas and the baseball world was sleeping, waiting for ARod’s ruling and word of his cheating. So rather than waiting with little to do, here’s a old re-post of something I once wrote for you. (OK, so I’m no poet… shoot me!)

This originally appeared on ESPN back in April, 2011. Reposted today, as reminded by Tim Keown’s posting this morning.

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This past weekend, I visited baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. This was not my first time there, but it was my first trip with my two sons, now ages 11 and 8. I was curious to see the Hall in a different way, through the eyes of my children.

I left thinking about the official name of the building — the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I left realizing that the official name of the building — the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum — has a very big word in the middle of it that most people seem to ignore: “and.” Mostly I write about the building from a distance, and when I do, I focus on the first part of the building’s name, about who should be admitted into the Hall and who should not. But when I am inside the building, it’s the museum part that takes over. I enjoy the plaques, but for me the real interest lies in reliving the moments that first drew me to the game and those that have kept me in its clutches since.
On the other hand, I paused at the museum’s display of the hate mail directed at Jackie Robinson and was left slackjawed. The violence expressed in these letters is a part of our history, a tragic part, but a part that needs to be remembered. These were not proud moments for America or for baseball. However, we need to see and remember the good and the bad.

It’s wonderful that the Hall of Fame documents the history of baseball, even the worst parts. This is the part of the mission of the Hall that we don’t talk much about. We talk about how Pete Rose should or should not be in the Hall of Fame, but Rose already is represented — in the museum. So is Manny Ramirez. So is Barry Bonds. Their memorabilia feature prominently in exhibits in the museum, even if their plaques aren’t (and won’t) be hanging in the Gallery. I was able to point my boys to Rose’s jersey in an exhibit and explain to them who he was, what he did on the field and the things he did off the field which keep him otherwise outside this institution.

As I walked through the Hall, I thought about whether this is the best way to remember players who had Hall of Fame-quality careers but whose involvement with performance-enhancing drugs will likely prevent them from being inducted into the Hall. I won’t argue here whether this ban is right or wrong; I simply assume that the ban will continue for quite some time. So long as the ban is in place, players like Bonds and Ramirez are represented by the bats they used, the balls they hit, and the helmets they wore. If you want to see Manny’s 2004 tarred-up helmet, it’s there on display but it doesn’t tell Manny’s whole story.

I think if we’re going to ban the better part of a generation of baseball players from admission to the Hall of Fame, then the Hall should dedicate permanent exhibit space to an explanation of the ban. If it’s cheating we mean to condemn, then let’s have the Hall devote exhibit space to condemn the cheaters — of all the cheaters, not just the guys who took drugs, but the guys who bet on baseball and threw baseball games, even the guys who scuffed up the baseball when no one was looking. If we mean to condemn the misuse of prescription and recreational drugs, then let’s devote exhibit space to this, too.
It might be that we don’t agree on the reasons for the ban, or whether there should be a ban at all. We’ve said for years that it would take time to develop the perspective necessary to understand the so-called steroids era. Well, we’ve had time. Let’s present all views and let the museum-goers reach their own conclusions.

If we’re going to ban the better part of a baseball generation from the Hall, it’s going to leave a gaping hole in the Hall’s gallery of baseball greats. Perhaps the big names from the Steriod Era will never be elected to the Hall. That doesn’t mean their stories and stats and memories should be struck from the baseball consciousness — we still need to tell their stories. You don’t leave a hole in an historic site without an explanation. An exhibit explaining steroids would at least give me a place to take my sons and tell them the story of how baseball was played when I was a young adult. That’s a good story, an interesting one, full of ups and downs, with its share of villains and fallen heroes. It’s a story worth telling.

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PS: If you want to see some of the pictures from the Hall, here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Continue reading Reposting: The National Baseball Hall of Fame And Museum