• A-Rod’s Meeting With MLB Is On For March 1st

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Via the Times

    Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to meet with officials from Major League Baseball on Sunday. The officials want to know who provided him with performance-enhancing drugs and whether that person had access to major league clubhouses.

    Three people who know about the details of the meeting confirmed that it was still scheduled to take place, despite comments Saturday by Yankees Manager Joe Girardi that Rodriguez wanted to have the meeting postponed. Rodriguez said he expected to play in Sunday’s exhibition game in Sarasota. “I’m on the 9 o’clock bus,” he said.

    Rodriguez will be interviewed by Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s top drug-testing official, and members of baseball’s department of investigations. An official for the players union and at least one of Rodriguez’s lawyers will attend the meeting.

    Along with questioning him about where he received the banned substances, the officials want to know about his relationship with the trainer Ángel Presinal, who has been accused of distributing steroids to major league players.

    Although Presinal has been barred from major league clubhouses, many players continue to train with him, including Rodriguez, who worked with him as recently as 2007.

    There’s a part of me that thinks this whole thing is about Ángel Presinal – and baseball wants to crack this guy. And, for now, A-Rod is a way to try and get more on Presinal.

    Betcha Rodriguez says nada about Ángel Presinal. Why should he – unless baseball cuts Alex a deal or something?

    But, if A-Rod says nothing on Presinal; and, then, somehow baseball and/or the feds get their hands on Presinal…well, Rodriguez better hope that Ángel is more like Greg Anderson and less like Joe Valachi…because, if Presinal has some post-2003 dirt on Alex, then it’s a whole new ballgame on the A-Rod PED scandal.

    And, if it’s proven that Alex was using something in 2007, it would not shock me to see the Yankees try and use that to void out his contract (or, at the least, try and get his salary reduced) – especially if baseball then tries to suspend Rodriguez for using post-2003.

    Joba To Get The Pill For 1st Game In New Stadium?

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Reportedly, Joe Girardi wants his starting rotation this season to line-up in the following order: CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain.

    So, let’s play along with that. And, let’s assume that Sabathia pitches the first game of the 2009 season and that no one skips a turn and there are no games called during the Yankees first 9 games this year. This means:

    CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and A.J. Burnett will pitch the first three games of the Yankees season – in Baltimore.

    Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and CC Sabathia will pitch the fourth, fifth and sixth games of the season – in Kansas City.

    Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte will pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth games of the season – in Tampa Bay.

    And, then Joba Chamberlain will start the first game ever at the new Yankee Stadium.

    Or, will he?

    The Yankees do have an off-day scheduled between their first and second games of this season this year. So, because of that, the Yankees can push Chamberlain’s first start of the season back a day and have the rotation play out as follows:

    CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and A.J. Burnett will pitch the first three games of the Yankees season – in Baltimore.

    Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain will pitch the fourth, fifth and sixth games of the season – in Kansas City.

    Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte will pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth games of the season – in Tampa Bay.

    And, then CC Sabathia will start the first game ever at the new Yankee Stadium.

    But, if you make such a move, you’re changing the Yankees starting rotation from:
    CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain
    CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte
    after the first four games of the season.

    And, I don’t think that Girardi wants the lefties Pettitte and Sabathia pitching in back-to-back games.

    So, barring a game being called within the Yankees first nine games of the season, look for Joba Chamberlain to get the first start ever (for the Yankees) in the new Yankee Stadium.

    Gardenhire’s Hunch: Manny To Yankees

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    Via TwinCities.com

    [Ron] Gardenhire said he’s not bothered by the Yankees’ ability to spend $450 million on free agents, as they did this winter on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. He’s more astonished than jealous.

    “None of us plays with our billfolds,” he said. “It’s just amazing a team can do that. Not one, two, (but) three. Just amazing.”

    And he’s got a hunch, too.

    “I still don’t think they’re done, I really don’t. I think there’s one more guy out there that eventually, someone’s going to say (sign him),” Gardenhire said, without mentioning free-agent outfielder Manny Ramirez by name.

    Well, if you look at who’s out there, Manny is the Walter of the pond now, right? But, I just don’t see the Yankees going there – unless A-Rod gets suspended and Ramirez is willing to take a one-year deal to play in the Bronx. And, what are the odds of that happening?

    Posada’s Shoulder Is Sore

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Via the Times

    Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said the new soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder was nothing to worry about.

    But there was enough concern within the Yankees’ medical staff for Manager Joe Girardi to scratch Posada from the lineup for Saturday’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins at Steinbrenner Field and rest him until further notice.

    “I guess it’s good that it’s now than later,” Posada said. “Take two or three days, just get the strength back.”

    Girardi described Posada’s shoulder as “a little, little, little sore.”

    “Minuscule weakness,” he added. “He wanted to play. We said: ‘You’re not playing. It’s too early in the process.’ He’s on the watch list. We want to get that little irritation out of there.”

    Accounts of the injury differed slightly between the manager and the player. Girardi said Posada woke up Saturday morning with a little soreness. Posada said he hurt it Thursday in the on-deck circle while stretching before his first at-bat in his first exhibition game.

    “I wasn’t thinking,” Posada said. “I grabbed a bat and go back all the way, and I wasn’t supposed to do that. I felt it in the shoulder. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do it. I kept playing, and there was nothing wrong.”

    Posada has thrown on the side without pain and said it did not hurt to swing or hit in games. But he said he came to the ballpark on Saturday and reported the problem to the Yankees’ head trainer, Gene Monahan, who brought in Dr. Christopher Ahmad for further examination.

    “I said, ‘Geno, my shoulder is sore,’ ” Posada said. “He said, ‘Usually sore?’ and I said, ‘Just a little bit more.’ ”

    Posada said he would not have X-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging test. Girardi said Posada was still on schedule to catch for the first time on March 15 here against Minnesota.

    “I could play with it,” Posada said of the soreness. “It doesn’t hurt me to throw and it doesn’t hurt me to hit. Just the shoulder is sore.”

    At this point, I think you can throw out everything being said about this news – both good and bad. If this situation is still an issue two weeks from now, then the Yankees may just have a big problem on their hands. However, for now, it’s wait and see – and check back on March 15th and examine where Posada is at that time.

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 2/28/09

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (0)

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    23 Years Ago Today…Holland, Scurry, Berra & Washington

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    On February 28, 1986, Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth conditionally suspended 11 players – seven of them for a full season – for drug abuse. This all came about as a result of the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985.

    The players who were suspended for a full year were allowed to play under the condition that they donated 10 percent of their base salaries to drug-related community service, submitted to random drug testing, and contributed 100 hours of drug-related community service. Those were:

    Joaquín Andújar, Oakland Athletics
    Dale Berra, New York Yankees
    Enos Cabell, Los Angeles Dodgers
    Keith Hernandez, New York Mets
    Jeffrey Leonard, San Francisco Giants
    Dave Parker, Cincinnati Reds
    Lonnie Smith, Kansas City Royals

    The four players who were suspended for only 60 days were allowed to play if they donated 5 percent of base salaries and contributed 50 hours of drug-related community service. Those were:

    Al Holland, New York Yankees
    Lee Lacy, Baltimore Orioles
    Lary Sorensen, Chicago Cubs
    Claudell Washington, Atlanta Braves

    Now, this is where it gets interesting. Rod Scurry was also a drug abuser and part of those trials in 1985. And, he played for the Yankees in 1985 and 1986. Further, on June 30, 1986, Claudell Washington was traded by the Braves (along with with Paul Zuvella) to the Yankees for Ken Griffey Sr. and Andre Robertson. Related, on July 27, 1986, the Yankees released Dale Berra.

    So, for four weeks during the 1986 season, the Yankees had Al Holland, Rod Scurry, Dale Berra and Claudell Washington on their roster at the same time.

    But, the Yankees had the third best overall record in the A.L. that season. Therefore, many Yankees fans were probably willing to look past the character of some of the members of the team…

    A-Rod, Circa 2002: Drug Use Tarnishes The Purity Of The Game

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (12)

    Via an Alan Schwarz feature on ESPN.com on July 17, 2002:

    “ As a fan, you don’t want to believe it. It’s surreal. My hero was Keith Hernandez. If you had said anything bad about Keith I would call you a liar. It tarnished the purity of the game. ”

    — Alex Rodriguez on drug abuse in baseball during the mid-’80s

    Then again, A-Rod was young, dumb and naïve when he said this, right?

    Kennedy Took Last Year For Granted, Says He Learned From It

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    Via Mark Feinsand

    Ian Kennedy took the mound Friday with one thought in his head: attack the hitters and throw strikes.

    “If everybody is healthy, I’ll probably be (at Triple-A) Scranton,” Kennedy said. “But no matter how many people are signed, my whole goal was to come to spring training, be ready to go and compete for a job.”

    Apparently, Joe Girardi’s repeated advice to go after hitters instead of nibbling around the plate has finally hit home for Kennedy.

    “I learned a lot,” Kennedy said. “When you’re in the middle of it, it’s really frustrating, but you have to grow and learn from it. It was a learning process that I think will make me better as my career goes on.”

    Kennedy acknowledged that he took his spot in the rotation for granted last spring, but he vows not to ever do that again as he starts his road back to the big leagues.

    Maybe those sessions with Tom House have helped Kennedy too? No question, he was rushed last year. Then again, maybe we should take what Kennedy does this spring with a grain of salt? He fooled me last year.

    Therefore, when it comes to Ian Kennedy, the rule on him, now, should be: “Fool me once. Shame on you. Fool me twice. Shame on me.”

    King: A-Rod Loses His Net On Monday

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Via George King

    There are pros and cons connected to [Alex] Rodriguez leaving camp [to play in the World Baseball Classic].

    The positive is that the WBC drug tests are more exhaustive than MLB’s and if he passes that test, he can point to being clean, which Rodriguez insists he has been since 2004.

    One drawback is that Rodriguez has developed a support system inside the Yankees clubhouse that will not be with him during the WBC.

    He also knows what to expect from the media that covers the Yankees. Starting Monday, he will be treated like new meat for another army of reporters. And given Rodriguez’s ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, he could cause himself additional trouble.

    That’s an interesting point about A-Rod becoming open game on Monday. If Alex is smart, he won’t say a word to anyone about anything. But, what are the odds of that happening?

    Those Were The Days…

    Posted by on February 28th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    When a team wins a World Championship in Major League Baseball, the entire unit is irrevocably encased with a lacquer of indefinite regard and affection from their fan base.

    And, when I say “the entire unit,” I mean all the players on that team.

    You could be Ken Clay or Sparky Lyle.
    You could be Gary Thomasson or Reggie Jackson.
    You could be Charlie Hayes or Derek Jeter.
    You could be Graeme Lloyd or David Cone.
    You could be Clay Bellinger or Bernie Williams.
    You could be Ricky Ledee or Paul O’Neill.

    It doesn’t matter.

    When you’re part of a team that wins a ring, you’ll be fondly remembered as being part of that championship collective entity. The residual wake from that pinnacle synergistic event envelops every player on the team – regardless of their role. And, the effect is everlasting.

    I love those Yankees teams who have won World Series rings during my lifetime.

    But, as much as I love those Yankees teams who have won rings, I miss them too. And, I wonder when the next time will come where I will see, and learn to love, another World Championship Yankees team?

    Looking at it now, six rings in the last 47 years doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? That’s just about one every eight years, right? And, it’s been eight years since the last Yankees ring.

    Maybe this season will bring the Yankees another ring – and add to the collection of teams that we, as Yankees fans, will always remember and love? It will be nice not to have to look so far back to find a team that I miss so much…

    Wild Thought: Are We Going Down To Florida Tonight, White?

    Posted by on February 27th, 2009 · Comments (18)

    Today’s wild thought is so wild that I’ve been sitting on it for a few days – debating whether or not it was too wild to even share it. But, what the hey, here it comes…

    Suppose, and it’s a not a leap to make this suggestion, that both the Marlins and the Rays do not get new ballparks in Florida and then have to vacate the state for greener pastures. That would leave the Sunshine State without a big league team.

    If this were to happen, could we ever see a day where the Yankees might consider splitting their home schedule…where they play, say, all their April and May home games in Florida and then start playing their home games in the Bronx once the calendar turns to June?

    Yes, sure, this would require some modifications to George Steinbrenner Field, fitting it for additional seating, etc. But, think about the benefits of such a plan.

    The Yankees players would be able to escape the cooler weather in the Bronx during April and May.

    Opposing teams would probably be happier to play in Florida during April and May rather than the Bronx.

    The Yankees brand in Florida would be strengthened beyond it’s current state – which is presently in pretty good standing.

    Baseball would be happy to have a big league team in Florida – albeit for only two months a year.

    Florida would be happy to have a big league team – again, albeit for just two months.

    The Yankees organization would be able to have two Opening Days – one in Florida during April and one in the Bronx during June – which provides more pomp and circumstance for the team.

    Maybe the Yankees could opt to have different home uniforms for Florida and the Bronx – leading to more merchandising opportunities.

    Maybe the Yankees players would get a tax break playing one-third of their home games in Florida? (I’m not sure on this – it’s just a guess.)

    Lastly, for the Yankees organization, perhaps only having, say, 54 home games in the Bronx (as opposed to 81) would provide even greater demand for those tickets – creating an even bigger potential financial windfall for the team? (Ditto the supply and demand factor on those, say, 27 “home games” to be played in Florida.)

    That last item would be a bummer for the fans…I admit.

    Anywho, that’s today’s wild thought.

    I warned you – it’s a real wild one. But, then again, the Chicago White Sox played some “home games” in Milwaukee during 1968 and 1969. So, it’s not as if something like this was never tried in baseball before…

    What do you think? Could it ever happen? Should it? If it did, how would you feel about it?

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 2/27/09

    Posted by on February 27th, 2009 · Comments (43)

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    Commemorative Patch On Yanks Caps This Year

    Posted by on February 26th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    Have you seen the caps that the Yankees will be wearing this year? Tyler Kepner thinks it’s overkill. Me thinks I agree.

    If the Yankees manage to make it to the post-season this year, between this commemorative patch and the patch that they add to the caps for each round of the post-season, it will look like the players have the intersection of Chuo-dori and Harumi-dori in Ginza on their heads.

    Yanks Ban A-Rod’s Mule From Team

    Posted by on February 26th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    Via the Daily News

    Yankee officials have told Alex Rodriguez that Yuri Sucart, believed to be the cousin who injected Major League Baseball’s biggest star with steroids, is no longer welcome at team facilities or hotels.

    Baseball sources told the Daily News Thursday that the Yankees’ front office issued the ban after Rodriguez was seen jumping into an SUV driven by Sucart after Wednesday’s spring training opener against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.

    Rodriguez did not protest the decision, after he was told that Sucart, who serves as the star’s driver and go-fer, would no longer be given access to clubhouses, training rooms and other team facilities.

    “He acknowledged that it was a problem,” one source said.

    Baseball has changed so much these days. I remember when Charles O. Finley was allowed to take Charlie-O everywhere with him…

    Cashman: Rays Young, Talented, Deep & Emerging

    Posted by on February 26th, 2009 · Comments (25)

    Via Ken Rosenthal

    “I see a [Tampa Bay Rays] team deep in pitching, a team with great defense, a team with young, emerging position players, a team that knows how to win,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says.

    “On paper, they’re better than they were last year. And last year, obviously, they were the best in the league.”

    Finally, there is the question of luck: The Rays last season produced 45 come-from-behind victories and finished 29-18 in one-run games.

    “Everything went right for them,” Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi says. “Not to take anything away from them — they’re a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got good management, good young players. But it was a magical year.”

    Cashman does not necessarily agree.

    “I understand that (argument),” he says. “But at the end of the day, they’re so young, so talented, that even if there was some luck along the way, now it’s a new year.

    “They go into this year knowing they’re good. They don’t have to learn how to win now. That’s a huge hurdle they’ve passed mentally. Now they have to deal with being the hunted instead of the hunter. That’s a different mentality, too.

    “But no one can dispute their talent. No one can dispute their ability. They match up with anybody in the game. That’s a fact.”

    Agreed, the Rays are good. And, the Red Sox are good too.

    Further, the Blue Jays are no push-overs either.

    If the Orioles can somehow manage to be a .500 team this year, it makes things in the A.L. very interesting.

    In a way, the Yankees will almost have to play .650 baseball against all teams not from the A.L. East this season to win 95 games. Can they do it? What do you think?

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 2/26/09

    Posted by on February 26th, 2009 · Comments (28)

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    Driving Miss Doozy

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Via George King

    Just when you think Alex Rodriguez has figured out how to turn around this public relations’ nightmare, he does something ridiculous.

    After Rodriguez won over some of the crowd and said all the right things during an interview session, he climbed into a burgundy SUV. As A-Rod approached the vehicle the passenger side window went down and Yuri Sucart was the man behind the wheel.

    Sucart is the cousin that allegedly purchased and injected Rodriguez with steroids from 2001-’03. And the cousin that reporters have been searching since Rodriguez’s press conference where he explained some of the details of his steroid use.

    You know…part of me thinks, here…”Vincent Chase could never dump Turtle; so, why should we expect A-Rod to ditch Yuri?”

    But, the other part of me agrees with the point here made by George King. It’s been a week since we learned that Yuri Sucart was the name of A-Rod’ PED mule. Why parade the dude around now, at a time when the media is still hot on you and it’s the first exhibition game of the Spring? Whether it’s due to ignorance or apathy, it’s the wrong thing to do.

    On February 18th, A-Rod said: “The only thing I ask of this group today and the American people is to judge me from this day forward.”

    O.K. Alex. You’ve now got one big bad red mark on your Post-PED-Confession/Apology Delaney Card. It’s for a failing grade under “Avoiding Unnecessary Attention.” Let’s see how many more of these you can rack up before Opening Day.

    Reg To A-Rod: Shut Up & Let Your Bat Do The Talking

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (4)

    Via Hal Bodley:

    “Hit the baseball and hit it when it counts,” Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson told Alex Rodriguez at dinner on Tuesday night. “That’s really about all that matters now.”

    Reggie said he spent time with Yankees general partner Hank Steinbrenner on Tuesday.

    “‘You deliver this message,’ [Steinbrenner] said sternly to me. ‘You tell him to hit the damn ball and hit it when it counts,'” Jackson said. “Yes, that’s really the most important thing Alex can do at this stage. All the other conversations, they don’t matter. The more you talk, the more you have an opportunity to make a mistake or say something stupid or something you can go trace.

    “My dad used to say you can control the story as long as you still get a chance to hit. Take the bat away and you start running your mouth, you’re going to get in trouble. Edit your own story with the bat, and as long as Alex does that, he’s got a chance to change things.”

    Jackson says it remains to be seen if Rodriguez will be able to block out the distractions.

    “It goes day to day,” he says. “If things don’t change and this is the only battle he has to fight, he’ll win that. What you worry about is that he’s got an uphill battle with things coming at him. It’s not going to be easy.

    “If the story unravels cleanly, he’ll get through it. He’ll have the support of the team. He’s got to have an outstanding year. What we saw today is his ability to concentrate and the fan reaction wasn’t that bad — way more positive than negative.”

    …You tell him to hit the damn ball and hit it when it counts…

    “…and hit it when it counts”?

    Are Hank and Reggie implying something here?

    Yanks Should Follow Thunder’s Lead

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Via Lakewood BlueClaws News:

    As part of a first-of-its-kind promotion, the Lakewood BlueClaws and Trenton Thunder have announced all children will eat for free at every 2009 home game.

    Both teams have expressed a clear desire to help area families in the current economic climate. This includes directly providing unprecedented value for area residents and positively contributing to local communities in these challenging times. The program covers 141 games between the two clubs.

    “We want to bring some joy back to Jersey,” said Joe Finley, President of both ballclubs. “Our teams are an important part of their respective communities, and this is our way of helping everyone in both areas.”

    Each child, ages 12 and under, will receive a voucher upon entering the ballpark good for a free hot dog, bag of potato chips and a 12 oz. fountain soda. The value of the program to area families is unmatched in Minor League Baseball history.

    “We really couldn’t be happier to do this,” added Thunder General Manager Will Smith. “We recognize the struggles everyone is facing, and we”re thrilled to offer an even greater value to fans in 2009.”

    The BlueClaws have had a successful Kids Eat Free program on Mondays for the last three seasons, presented by ShopRite.

    “Being able to do this for the entire season means a lot,” said BlueClaws General Manager Geoff Brown. “It’s an opportunity for us to reach out to everyone and thank them for their support over the last few years.”

    This is a wonderful idea. Would it kill the Yankees to do something like this at the big league level? What would it cost the Yankees to do this for the 2009 season…maybe $4 million? That’s pocket change for them…and more than worth the great P.R. they would get from such a move.

    February 2009 Survey Question #3

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Please consider taking the following poll:


    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section below.

    Wild Thought: D.J./WBC/D.L./O.C.

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (17)

    Today’s wild thought centers around the World Baseball Classic – as that seems to be the big topic in baseball these days – and, of course, it has a Yankees twist…this being WasWatching.com and all…

    Suppose, and, of course, heaven forbid, Derek Jeter gets injured playing in the WBC – injured bad enough that it would bring cause for him to miss the entire 2009 baseball season. That would be terrible news for the Yankees and their fans.

    If this were to happen, I could see the Yankees quickly going out and signing Orlando Cabrera – who’s still out there looking for a job – to a one-year deal to plug the gap with Jeter out. Such a move, under those conditions, would not seem like a reach.

    How weird would that be – to see Orlando Cabrera playing shortstop for the Yankees on Opening Day – at the new Yankee Stadium? For me, that would be bizarre.

    And, what if the Yankees went on to win a World Series ring, in 2009, with Orlando Cabrera as their starting shortstop? I wonder how that would sit with Yankees fans and/or the legacy of Derek Jeter?

    Yeah, I know, this is pie in the sky stuff. The odds of it happening are probably something that can’t be calculated. Then again, that’s what wild thoughts are all about, right?

    Let’s just hope that Jeter doesn’t get hurt in the WBC…

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 2/25/09

    Posted by on February 25th, 2009 · Comments (31)

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    Torn Over The New Yankee Stadium

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (18)

    There’s been a few features in the news lately about Yankees fans being upset over their ticket options for the new Yankee Stadium. (Yes, I got lucky with my Stadium relo-results. But, being a 81-game package holder for the eight years prior to the new Stadium opening probably had something to do with that.)

    Most recently, Jay Jaffe from Baseball Prospectus rang in on this issue. Here’s a few highlights of what Jaffe had to say:

    Eleven years ago, I banded together with four of my friends and bought a Yankees partial season-ticket package which gave us a pair of tickets to 15 games of our choice. We were instantly rewarded with the opportunity to frequent a once-in-a-generation ballclub, the 1998 Yankees. Expanding our plan to three seats the following year, we were fortunate enough to attend the World Series clincher, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the vast majority of baseball fans never get to experience first-hand.

    With an introduction like that, we were hooked. Our ticket package eventually ballooned to 26 games, the cost per ticket tripled, and friends came and went, but we never had a problem assembling a posse willing to spend their hard-earned cash to fill those seats. We witnessed some amazing baseball, even as Yankee Stadium itself devolved into a less hospitable environment thanks to the increasingly heavy-handed security in the years following 9/11.

    Sadly, the days of our ticket group appear to be at an end, with our worst fears about the transition to the new Yankee Stadium not only realized, but surpassed beyond our wildest diminished expectations. Not only was our 26-game flex plan phased out in favor of a 20-game “inflexibility plan” with the choice of dates restricted to an every-fourth-home-game cycle, but the $60 Tier Box seats we had enjoyed for so long were recessed about 30 feet further from the field of play, and the overall capacity for the ballpark decreased from 56,936 to 52,325. When the time came to order our 2009 seats, those facts—spelled out for us in a forebodingly titled relocation program that conjured up images of Stalin sending peasants to Siberian gulags—coupled with a concern for finances due to the growing family obligations of group members, led us to choose the $25 Grandstand seats between the bases instead of the $65 or $75 Terrace seats which would have provided the closest equivalent to our former experience.

    Instead of being offered our $25 seats, or even anything between the bases, we had been assigned $85 seats in section 107 … right behind the right-field foul pole. Obstructed view, at more than triple the price of what we were prepared to spend. Are you kidding me?

    This is hardly the first ugly little fact about the new Yankee Stadium to come to light; tales of the publicly funded new park’s fuzzy math go way back, and any fan of good conscience reckoning with the inconvenient truths about the ballpark had plenty of reason to be uneasy.

    Still, even if one could block that all out and simply focus on the relationship between one customer’s wallet and his ability to put his butt in a seat at this new park, the bottom line is that this is an outrage, a disgrace, a catastrophe on the level of Joe Torre summoning Jeff Weaver from the bullpen in Game Four, a Bambino-rolling-in-his-grave nightmare over the successor to the House that Ruth Built.

    Now, I don’t really know Jaffe. Yes, some of my friends are his friends. And, yes, I did once exchange some e-mails with him – as far back as 2005. And, to be candid, my only recollection from that contact with Jay was that he came across with a bit of an “ivory tower” attitude. Nonetheless, I find myself being very sympathetic to what Jaffe is writing about here.

    Well, sorta/kinda.

    Here’s the deal: I’m tragically split in terms of my emotions over the new Yankee Stadium.

    On one hand, I cannot wait until the new Yankee Stadium is open for business. I’m sure it’s going to be so nice in there that it’s surreal. I fully expect to walk in there for the first time and immediately go into a rapture state – where I lose control, make happy-time in my own pants, and start hugging everyone that I see, strangers included, as if I just won the lotto and the jackpot was bigger than A-Rod’s contract.

    Yet, on the other hand, I hate…and, yes, I know “hate” is a strong word; but, it’s the right word here…really, I just hate what’s going down with respect to the community conversion that’s happening at the new Yankee Stadium. In a nutshell, the Yankees have taken what was an organized hamlet designed for the convergence of Yankees partisans and turned it into an elitist country club featuring a baseball diamond and a Hard Rock Café.

    As I wrote back on December 18, 2007:

    Thinking about it some more, I’m starting to wonder if Yankee Stadium will become like the Titanic when it set out to sea – with all the rich people staying on top, living the high-life, and all the poor people jammed into the bowels of the ship, crammed in there, huddled, and wondering what it’s like for the affluent folks in the nice parts of the vessel.

    And, the more I think about that, the more I hope that the new Stadium fails, and falls flat on its face, and then the Yankees will have to make amends with their fans and bring the Yankee Stadium experience back to what it should be…

    …but, sadly, the odds of that happening, right now, are just as likely as the Yankees trading CC Sabathia, and cash, to the Cleveland Indians to reacquire pitcher Carl Pavano. Yeah, it’s not gonna happen – ever.

    How about you? What are you thoughts about the new Yankee Stadium and what’s going on there now?

    The Fielding Bible II: Tex Huge Upgrade In Field For Yanks

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    I just had a chance to take a sneak peek at “The Fielding Bible — Volume II” from Acta Sports.

    It looks great.

    As I’ve mentioned in the past, the good folks behind “The Fielding Bible” use a “Plus/Minus System” of analyzing baseball position players fielding prowess (or lack thereof).

    Using a videotape library of every baseball game played in the last three years, data on every play made in baseball was entered into a computer – recording the direction, distance, speed, and type of batted ball. The computer then looks at every type of a certain play – for example, where a soft ground ball was hit in a particular vector of a player’s position purview – and ascertains how many times said ball on a such a play was turned into an out (in terms of a percentage). This then serves as a baseline to determine how many times an individual player is “plus” or “minus” on the same play (versus the average out-made percentage) when presented with the opportunity.

    And, now, with “The Fielding Bible — Volume II,” they’ve taken it a step further. As they explain it:

    Baseball is all about runs. Runs determine the score. Runs are all over the statistics. How many runs did he drive in? What’s his earned run average? In the first volume of The Fielding Bible we developed metrics that help us better understand defense in baseball. We speculated that we would try to translate the new defensive metrics into runs. That’s what we’ve done here in Volume II. We’ve taken all the metrics we had and converted them to runs.

    Using a run expectancy chart, is the charm here. Again, as they explain it:

    The key way that we use this chart is to look at it before and after a play. Let’s say there’s a man on first with one out. The expected runs at that point are .528. The next play is a groundball to the shortstop. He boots it for an error and we now have men on first and second with one out. The expected runs went from .528 to .919. That’s an increase of .391 (.919 minus .528) runs. The play itself, the error, cost the team .391 runs. We don’t have to follow it through and count the rest of the inning. We know what the value of the ending state is and can use it. The term that we are using in this book for this is Defensive Runs (or Defensive Runs Saved or simply Runs Saved). Since the error cost the team runs, it becomes a negative when stated as Defensive Runs. The value of the error is -.391 defensive runs.

    Fun stuff, huh? Well, here’s something even more interesting for Yankees fans.

    Last season, Mark Teixeira led all first baseman in baseball with 17 Runs Saved. And, Jason Giambi was next to last with -13 Runs Saved. And, since the Yankees have replaced “The Big G” with “Tex,” that’s a swing of +30 runs, no? Sweet…

    And, thanks to “The Fielding Bible — Volume II,” we can learn things like this great news for the Yankees. Ah, the power of “D”!

    SNY WheelHouse: Is General Joe More Touchie-Feelie This Year?

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (2)

    The crew, yesterday on SNY’s WheelHouse, discuss the question. Here’s the video:

    If I had to pick one leader that Joe wants to pattern himself after…that would be Tony Dungy – just because I recall Girardi mentioning how much he admired Dungy. How about you? Who does Girardi remind you of…and what type of manager do you think he’ll be this year?

    SNY New York Baseball Today Video

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (0)

    To watch SNY.tv’s New York Baseball Today, which features a rotating panel of experts, click play below:

    WasWatching.com Water Cooler Talk 2/24/09

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (16)

    Feel free to use this post as a place for you to comment on anything Yankees-related (or within reach of tagging the bag of being Yankees-related on a decent slide) today. It could be a casual conversation offering, or, something you saw in the news, or something very detailed that you want to share that’s within the territory of Yankeeland.

    Or, comment on something that someone else has posted here in the comments…

    Have fun. Play nice. And, remember, keep it Yankees-focused.

    Abraham: Behind Scenes With Yanks Scouts

    Posted by on February 24th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Peter Abraham takes a look “Behind the scenes with Yankees’ pro scouts.” It’s a good read worth checking out.

    Right now, I’m on the fence with respect to Billy Eppler. In the past, I’ve heard good things about him. However, in reading the Torre/Verducci book, I’m coming away from it thinking that maybe we should be suspect about Eppler’s skills.

    It was nothing specific that Torre said in the book to make me feel this way. More so, it was a matter of Torre expressing that he engaged and tolerated Eppler but didn’t take his input as something that should be run with as if it was two stone tablets coming down from the mountain. Then again, maybe I’m misinterpreting what was written in the book?

    So, like I said, right now, I’m not sure if Billy Eppler is a great asset for the Yankees or just another one of Brian Cashman’s yes-men. What’s your take on Eppler?

    Watch For September 7, 2009

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2009 · Comments (1)

    From September 7, 1996 through September 15, 1996, the Yankees went 8 straight games where their pitchers had 8+ strikeouts in the contest.

    And, from September 7, 1998 through September 15, 1998, the Yankees went 8 straight games where their pitchers had 8+ strikeouts in the contest.

    Those are the only two times, since 1956, where the Yankees pitchers went 8 straight games with at least 8 K’s in the game.

    Maybe this will be the season where the Yankees match or better that streak?

    By the way, want some more of this?

    From September 2, 1996 through September 15, 1996, the Yankees went 12 straight games where their pitchers had 7+ strikeouts in the contest.

    And, from June 17, 2001 through June 30, 2001, the Yankees went 12 straight games where their pitchers had 7+ strikeouts in the contest.

    Those are the only two times, since 1956, where the Yankees pitchers went 12 straight games with at least 7 K’s in the game.

    Here’s some trivia for you: Mo Rivera pitched in all four of these streaks in 1996, 1998 and 2001. The only other Yankees pitcher to appear in all four streaks? Ramiro Mendoza.

    It’s funny, I don’t recall seeing a lot written about Ramiro Mendoza in the Torre/Verducci book. I wonder why that is? He was a very valuable part of Torre’s Yankees.

    Color Of Yanks Money Today

    Posted by on February 23rd, 2009 · Comments (5)

    The snooker hall is empty…
    ’cause they’re all out playing pool.
    Hustling down the Fulham Road…
    doing deals with Mr.Cool.
    Well, they’re on the waterfront now…instead of being at school…

    Gotta love what General Joe did with the troops today. Great team-building move.

    So, Mo won both Eight-Ball tournaments? I thought for sure that A-Rod would have been the big performer today. After all, October is seven months away…

    Remember the episode of The Flintstones where Pebbles was mimicking Barney Rubble saying “shoot pool”? I can’t but wonder if Jeter said anything today playing pool and Alex went into his SWF routine and started repeating it, ala’ Pebbles?

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