Friday, July 31, 2009

LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES

...And not just the steroid issue.

***MATSUZAKA: "I NEVER SAID THAT"***
It spite of the many 'quotes', Matsuzaka now claims he never criticized the Boston coaching staff. Apparently some Japanese reporter doesn't understand Japanese.

***LAST TIME - I'M DISGUSTED***
How many times can you be shocked, disappointed, amazed, etc.? Two more names have surfaced from the infamous "Gang of 104." All these major stars (Canseco claims there is even a Hall of Famer who was a big user) being outed is just disheartening. There are now only TWO players that I trust: Derek Jeter and Junior Griffey. I'd have to find a new sport if they were ever accused.

***ONE GUY WHO IS STANDING UP***
Former Yankee LaTroy Hawkins is in trouble for a comment he made about an umpire (and you all know what sensitive people they are). After some ball/strike disagreements between LaTroy and umpire Mike Everitt, Hawkins said, "I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway." Not a good thing, LaTroy. When asked if he regretted his comment, Hawkins replied, "Why would I? I'm fighting any disciplinary action. He has his opinion and I have mine. He thought I was showing him up (There it is, folks). I've seen A-rod do way worse in the AL." You could have picked a better role model, LaTroy. This is going to get ugly. MLB will not let this go.

***DOWN TO THE WIRE***
As this is written, there are 5 1/2 hours left till the trading deadline. What are the odds of any of the most talked about trades happening (in Picasner's opinion)?
Victor Martinez from Cleveland to Boston - 80%
Jarrod Washburn from Seattle to the Yanks - 50%
Roy Halladay to anywhere - 0%

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post: "The Pirates just traded the statue of Roberto Clemente from in from of their stadium." (I didn't think he was available.)

I could watch Hannah Storm on ESPN all day. ...even if she didn't talk.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

RANDOM THOUGHTS

***MANNY BEING...WELL, YOU KNOW***
He made a nice catch up against the wall last night, and then threw the ball into the bleachers...and missed. He tried to score from second on a single and was thrown out mostly because he ran a great circle route from third to home. Get used to it Dodger fans, there's more to come. Manny's hair is now down to the middle of his back. As usual, Torre is doing a fine job enforcing the team rules.

***SPEAKING OF TORRE***
He's finally figured out how to save his over-worked bullpen: he's using his starters in relief.

***PITTSBURGH PIRATE TRYOUTS IN GENEVA***
The ads they're using to attract players is great: "Here's your chance to play in the majors. Make the Pirates team and get traded to a major league team." Works for me.

***THAT'S WHY HE'S A GENIUS***
Tampa manager, Joe Maddon, thinks the Rays and the Yanks are very evenly matched. "I just wish our offense was more productive," he says. Oh, I get it, Joe. You mean you wish that you'd score more runs then the Yanks. I'll bet that would work.

***HALLADAY UPDATE***
-0-

***YANKS NEED A PITCHER***
Even if Mitre continues to do okay, they need another starter if they're really going to limit Joba to 150 innings. If the plan is to move him to the pen, then he's only got about 3 more starts left. Then what? Maybe they should go hard after Washburn.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BITS AND PIECES

***TRADE RUMORS ABOUND***
Since ESPN started their "Rumor Central" column, historically there has been a lot of rumors in the Winter and Spring, but not very much during the season. To quote Inspector Clouseau. "Not any more." I have never seen this much activity ever. There is more speculation over Doc Halladay than there ever was over Johann Santana. The latest (and Picasner's take):
Halladay to...whoever: Not gonna happen. No one will meet Toronto's price
Jarod Washburn to the Yanks: A distinct possibility, but the price will be high
??? to Boston: We've heard so much about the depth of Boston's pitching, that everyone thinks the Sox will overpay for whomever. Epstein's not stupid; they won't.
Cliff Lee to Philly: This is the most likely trade to actually happen
A trade involving Pittsburgh: No problem. I think even I could get an outfielder from them for my old baseball glove
A trade involving the Dodgers: Boy, would I be surprised. For every trade involving LA, I hear that they won't give up any prime prospects and want you to pick up the salary of the player they trade for. They even tried this on Toronto. Riccardi just laughed.

***$100 MILLION WORTH OF TROUBLE***
The Red Sox are becoming increasingly unhappy with their Japanese star, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Apparently, Daisuke believes the 'American' training methods are hurting him, not helping. He wants to throw pitch after pitch after pitch to strengthen his arm, while the Sox are interested in rest and healing. They are also unhappy with him insisting on pitching in the WBC (the start of his arm problems), coming to camp out of shape, not paying attention to the pitching coach and complaining to the Japanese press. He wants to work out his own training methods. as Terry Francona says, " If we did that and he had more arm problems, I'm sure owner John Henry would look at the $102 million and come to me and say 'What's going on?' If I say 'I don't know, we're letting him do it his own way,' John Henry probably wouldn't like that too much." I know; let's send him to Joe Torre.

***LAST CHANCE***
If you've never heard Vin Sully broadcast a baseball game, or maybe haven't in a few years, find a way to listen to one during the rest of the year. Word is he's going to retire at the end of the year and that's a shame. I don't think there ever WAS anyone better, nor will there ever BE any one better. A great understanding of the game, the perfect voice and he knew when to shut up. Even though I seldom got to hear him, it was somehow comforting to me to know he was out there. He might even deserve his own room in the Hall of Fame.

***NEWS FLASH***
Tony Bernazard of the Mets has been fired. As though that was unexpected. In spite of what Omar Minaya has said, it wasn't reporter Adam Rubin's fault. Omar is next, I believe.

Monday, July 27, 2009

IT WAS A BUSY WEEKEND

***KEVIN MILLWOOD INJURED***
He was pulled from a game after 2 innings with a strained right gluteus. I always thought he was a pain in the ass. (You knew that was coming)
***TONY BERNAZARD IN TROUBLE***
More stories have surfaced regarding his short fuse and blazing temper. Bernazard denies all of it, of course, and will fight anyone who disagrees.
***A CHANGE FOR TONY PENA, JR?***
The son of Yankee bench coach, Tony Pena, Sr, a shortstop in the Royals organization, is attempting to become a pitcher. Last year, he hit .169 and was worse this year, hitting only .098. He mopped up in the ninth inning earlier for the Royals, and manager Trey Hillman was impressed. "I liked what I saw," he said. I suspect what he liked the most was that he could keep Jr. 60 feet away from the plate.
***CUBS IN FIRST PLACE***
Outfielder Milton Bradley's reaction: "Will I get more cheers now?" What a team player.
***RICKEY HENDERSON IN THE HALL OF FAME***
In his acceptance speech, Rickey said, "I never took the game for granted. I always respected the game." He certainly was one of the most exciting players in baseball and deserves to be in the hall. As far as "respecting the game," why was he traded so many times? Twice while he was in his prime.
***PIRATES SETTING UP FOR MORE TRADES***
I don't get this. Who is left to trade? Two concession attendants and a ticket taker?
***BAD CONTRACTS***
Surprise! Alex Rodriguez isn't a part of this comment.
**31 yr-old Barry Zito, with a 129 career wins, has $76 million more coming over 4 years
**30 yr-old Vernon wells will earn $88.5 million over 5 years, in spite of a career .258 average
**33 yr-old Alphonso Soriano gets $90 million over the next 5 years for his career .253 average
***PANIC IN BEANTOWN?***
With their rotation full of question marks and their lineup scaring no one, the Sox are looking for some blockbuster trades. Roy Halladay, Adrian Gonzales and Victor Martinez to name a few. The question is, how are are they going to get anywhere when they reportedly are refusing to give up ANY young talent? Theo Epstein is supposedly burning the midnight oil trying to come up with some kind of magic act. If Boston is to have a chance (and Tampa, for that matter), they better make a move now while the Yanks play a tough 9 games on the road.
***YES NETWORK GUILTY OF POOR SCHEDULING***
They normally do a great job, so why did they broadcast a baseball game at the same time as their sit-com, "THE LEITER & O'NEIL SHOW" hosted by Michael Kay? I have a dollar that says neither one of them could tell you the score of yesterday's game. The whole weekend was like listening to Charley McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. O'Neil even claimed at one point, to have played on the 1961 Yanks. His wife must be so proud. Leiter didn't even take the time to tease Michael Kay. At least we found out who likes cotton candy and who doesn't.

Friday, July 24, 2009

AROUND THE HORN - JULY

***BUEHRLE'S PERFECTO***
Congrats to Mark Buehrle for his perfect game. This very rare occurrence requires not only a little luck, but that your teammates ALSO be perfect. That can be a lot of pressure. I also listened to a couple of sportscasters claim that DeWayne Wise's catch was "...the greatest catch ever," considering the circumstance. It was a terrific catch, but the "greatest" tag is sure up for debate.

***...AND THE BEAT GOES ON***
Seven in a row! Success breeds confidence. Picasner keeps telling The Bimb, baseball is very cyclical: a losing streak is bound to happen, you just try to keep them to a minimum. When the Yanks traded for Hinske, did they have to pay extra for the Superman T-shirt. It is said that a change of scenery can often help players, but this guy's in dreamland. Keep it up, Eric.

***THIS IS BECOMING A JOKE***
Rumor has it that Met's Vice President for Player Development (remember that title), Tony Bernazard, went to Binghamton to "straighten out" the players on the Mets farm team and during his 'pep talk', ended up ripping off his shirt and challanging some players to a fight. What kind of development are you trying for, Tony? Either he has some strange motivational techniques or he's wearing his hat too tight. GM Omar Minaya, really downplayed the incident, which may be an indication that his influence is dropping like a stone. If your team is winning, incidents like this get passed off as passion. If your're losing, well, words like "disruption" and "panic" begin to appear.

Minaya also said he's not worried, and the team will not be having a 'fire sale', that the Mets are in the hunt for the wild card spot with "...only a couple of teams" ahead of them. Actually Omar, that's seven teams ahead of you.

***MANNY BEING MANNY***
Say what you will (and I do), this guy can hit. A pinch-hit grand slam homer, broken fingernail and all (sorry, couldn't resist).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

THE YANKS ARE IN FIRST

***IT'S BEEN A WHILE***
I thought it very encouraging that after winning two games with the long ball, the Yanks scored in the 2nd without the benefit of a hit. A good streak for the Bronx Bombers, I hope it continues.
Listened to Kenny rave about the Orioles outfielders arms, but the first two throws were so far off line, that it looked like they were throwing to the wrong base. Markakis finally threw Jeter out at home to retain a little respect. The Yanks did the right thing: keep running till they prove they can get within 10 feet of what they're aiming at.
It didn't look good for Mitre for a while. 1st pitch, double, 2nd pitch, groundout, 3rd pitch, single. At first, I thought, "It's Igawa in disguise." But it wasn't. Mitre was a very pleasant surprise.

***IT SEEMS PICASNER'S NOT ALONE***
John Kruk says that a certain team had better find a way to cut down on the use of the bullpen, if they expect to HAVE a bullpen come September. He wasn't even talking about the Yanks. No, it's that Torquemada of the bullpen, Joe Torre. The Dodgers have 4 relievers with 40+ appearances totaling 195 innings. The Yanks, in the meantime, have only 2 relievers with 40 appearances and no one else over 25. I must admit, Girardi has been better lately.

***GARDENHIRE HAS SOME INTERESTING IDEAS***
The Twins manager would like to see managers given a red flag to toss when they would like to have a play reviewed, just like pro football. Just 1 flag. If you're right, you get it back, if you're wrong, you lose it for the rest of the game. This started when Ron was asked about a bad call at the plate, when a Twin was called out (he was obviously safe) to end the game and sent the Twins to a 13-12 defeat. Actually Ron, you did have a 12-2 lead at one time. Maybe you should have thrown a red flag at your bullpen.

***IF YOU DON'T LIKE THAT, TRY THIS***
Ron also came up with the idea of red and yellow cards for Umpires to use on managers, like soccer. Good idea, but I'm sure the Umps would abuse it. I think you would see two yellow cards come out at the line up exchange before the game, eliminating the spirit of the program.

***MANNY BEING MANNY***
Manny got hit in the left arm by a pitch last night and was taken to the hospital. Nobody is sure if he broke his arm ...or a nail.

Okay, okay. I'm think I'm through with the female fertility drug thing.

Why I Love the Rex Sox Starting Lineup

Ortiz .224

Bay .254

Drew .236

Varitek .230

Lowrie .107



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Say No More

7/21/2009


American League

East


NY Yankees 56 37 .607

Boston 55 38 .591

Tampa Bay 20 42 .553

Toronto 46 48 .489

Baltimore 41 52 .441


Vod

Mantle or Musial

Picasner, one comment and one question re: Mantle vs. Musial

Comment: It is generally considered appropriate to use office holders' titles when referring to them by name, e.g. President Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates, The Purveyor of Pontification Picasner.

Question: Is Mantle sober?

MANTLE VS. MUSIAL

Stan The Man has been in the news lately because the Cardinals didn't make as big a fuss over him at the All-Star game as Boston did for Ted Williams. I read that it was because Obama decided to steal some of the limelight and Musial's time was diminished. That's too bad. I always considered Musial the 2nd best (after Ted Williams) PURE hitter that I ever saw (That sets 1954 as the starting point).
Ted Marchman has started a debate as to whether Mantle or Musial was the better player. Of course, you had to know that Bill James, numbers man (and Boston Red Sox employee) was behind this. Through some elaborate and confusing numbers manipulation, James has come up with the W.A.R.P. - Wins Above Replacement Player. Using every stat imaginable, he claims to be able to determine how many more wins a player would provide over an "average" player. I'm not sure I understand how he determined what an "average" player could do, but that's his system.
Career-wise, Musial outscored Mantle 128-120. He does admit that Musial played 4 more years and had 3000 more at-bats, but he also says Musial missed a prime year to military service.

I leave it to you: you're on a playground choosing up sides. You pick first and Mantle and Musial are standing there. Who do you pick?

I thought so.

...THE YANKS ARE COMIN'...

***FOUR IN A ROW***
Nothing like a winning streak and a tie for first place, but... three straight 2-1 games and only 4 hits yesterday. Great pitching but if the Yanks expect to go anywhere, it's their bats that will take them there.

***SUPERSTITIONS AND RITUALS***
Baseball players have always had their little performances to celebrate their accomplishments but it's really gotten a tad extreme. The high (and low) fives started it, then there was the forearm "bash". Now we have the ridiculously long and complicated 'handshakes' that have to be different for each player. I wonder how much time they take to come up with these and then practice them and, of course, remember them. The Yanks now have walk-off celebrations which include the "Helmet Toss," followed by the "Helmet Catch," the "Group Bounce," and the "Whipped Cream Towel In The Face." It's catching on; the Padres have already picked it up, but they probably won't have too much need for it. At least the enthusiasm is there.

***PEDRO IS ALMOST READY***
Martinez, who is on the 15-day DL, says he's getting closer. Says Pedro, "I threw in the Dominican and now I'm ready to throw here. A simulated game, a side session, a rehab start and then the Majors." Right, Pedro, followed by a workout , a warm-up, one inning pitched and then 15 more days on the DL. We can hardly wait.

***THE BEST DEAL FOR HALLADAY***
Much as I hate to admit it, Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox has the best idea. "Take our roster and pick ANY five guys. If we don't win the World Series, we get them back." Interesting concept.

***THE COST OF SANTANA***
You reap what you sow: the Mets gave away the farm for Johann Santana and now with everyone hurt, the cupboard is bare. I think Omar Minaya has lost his genius tag. And no Willy Randolph to blame it on.

***I DIDN'T KNOW THIS***
Baseball players are taxed in the individual states in which they play. No wonder states LOVE to have the Yanks there: for example, Alex Rodriguez had to pay nearly $42,000 in state income taxes to Minnesota for the three days he played there. Wait till freshman Senator Al Franken learns that little tidbit.

***THIS DOESN'T BODE WELL***
Tonight's starter for the Yanks is Sergio Mitre, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and a positive drug test suspension. He has a career 10-23, 5.36 ERA record. Hope that bullpen is rested (no problem, according to Vod).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

SORRY

Even though it doesn't look like it, Picasner has a life outside of baseball, albeit a little one. 5 family parties in 4 different towns in 3 days. Leaving Vod in charge for three days resulted in a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, a modest three game win streak and two games closer to first place.

Are you guys sure you want me back?

Hail to the Chief

Thank you, Roy Halladay, today and everyday you shut down the Dark Side of the Farce.

Thank you Tom Watson for the most memorable British Open I have ever seen.

Thank you, Tiger Woods, for not making the cut and taking your on-course club throwing tantrums and foul mouth elsewhere. It was a more civil tournament without you.

Thank you Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Chip Pickering, Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham and all the boys at the Prayer House for creating a monument to Republican Hypocrisy. Hey, John, how about spotting us $96 Gs to forget your name?

Thank you Jason Bay for going in the tank with a current .255 BA. I wish you .240.

Than you Theo Epstein for counting on a post-juicing David Ortiz and a forever-young Jason Varitek, for believing that J D Drew was the answer to any problem, and failing to acquire a shortstop over the past several years. Makes for a pennant race.

Hey, Picasner, get busy.

Vod




What?

Melky is hitting almost 50 points higher than Nick Swisher but Swishers OBP is 14 points higher.


Robinson Cano has one of the lowest AVG and OBP differentials in the majors, a meger 23 points.


In 4 at bats on Sunday, lead off batter Derek Jeter saw a total of 8 pitches, including one strikeout. Why to grind out those at bats, Jeet. Of course he did get two hits to raise his AVG to .325.


Johnny Damon may be the most hilarious, starting left fielder the Yankees have ever had. His fielding is the funniest stand-up - or fall down - comedy in the majors.


David Ortiz struck out 3 times with RISP today. I'm pleased. I'm also confused. Ortiz has 1 triple this season. How could that happen?


Joe Girardi, that burner of bullpens (according to He Who Must Not Be Named), does not have a single reliever on staff in the top 20 relievers in innings pitched. Damned devious to burn up his pen by limiting their innings pitched!


Meet me in Cognito

Vod

Friday, July 17, 2009

A LITTLE ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

***5 MINOR LEAGUERS SUSPENDED***
Yes, for testing positive for drugs. I wonder if Selig will allow them to "rehab" in the majors.

***LEFTCOASTSPORTSBABE.COM***
"Bud Selig recently said the Pittsburgh Pirates are “on the right track.” The Pirates are well on their way of their 17th consecutive losing season. It may be the right track, but it’s the wrong direction."

"When Padres’ fans were asking if the team should fire their hitting coach, the responses were equally divided. Half the fans said “Yes,” the others responded “We HAVE a hitting coach?”"

"From Jay Leno: "Manny Ramirez is being suspended for 50 games for taking a banned substance believed to be a woman's fertility drug. While some people are calling it a suspension, Manny's calling it maternity leave."

***WELL, OH YEAH?***
LA Sparks women's basketball coach, Mike Cooper, on the return of Candace Parker after giving birth in May. "Let's see Michael Jordan do that. The worst thing he had to do was play while fighting a cold. He's not half the woman Candace is." Hope not.

***YOU DO HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THE GAME, HOWEVER***
Dealing with the 2nd most important activity at a baseball game: The beer! In Boston, a 12oz beer will cost you $7.25, while in Pittsburgh, a 21oz beer costs $4.75. Which means you can get blitzed twice as fast for half the cost in Pittsburgh. And you need to.

***CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEWEST YANKEE FAN***
Little Sawyer Stockslader (can't wait to see that on the back of a uniform) will be christened this weekend.

The 2nd half of the season starts for the Yanks tonight against Detroit. Looking forward to some more Michael Kay-isms, too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU'VE SEEN IT ALL...

In spite of all logic, the Phillies have signed Pedro Martinez to a contract. It's hard to believe that they really think he is the piece of the puzzle that puts the Phillies over the top. Scouts have been saying right along that his fastball is in the 85-87 MPH range, but Pedro claims he's up to 93. Maybe he's right. Maybe he pushed himself as far as he could to get the Phillies to sign him and it worked. The Phils signed him...and immediately put him on the 15-day Dl with a shoulder strain! Absolutely true story.
Who is their General Manager, Groucho Marx?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HALFWAY SURPRISES

As Buster Olney says, "Follow baseball long enough, and you will come to know this hard truth: You know nothing."

#1 The Met's season may be done, but not because of any swoon. You can't lose Reyes, Beltram, Delgado and half your rotation and expect to be in the race.

#2 What happened to Cleveland? Picasner's pick to win the AL Central has a W/L record that's the worst in the majors, if you don't count Washington. (The baseball team, not the government, although that may fit, also)

#3 How can a team (The Yanks) look so good in one series and so inept in another?

#4 The Angels lose two big boppers and keep on winning. Smoke? Mirrors? A great manager?

#5 The Dodgers have the best record in baseball. A weak division can only be part of the answer.

#6 Manny is taking female hormones and yet his hair style still leaves a lot to be desired.

#7 The word out of Seattle is that Ichiro's teammates like him again.

#8 Who would you rather have: Swisher (.237 ave, 14 HRs, 47 RBIs and .360 OBP) or Abreu (.311 ave, 6 HRs, 58 RBIs, and .407 OBP)? Both making $5 million this year, and play Right Field like they're afraid of grass. Actually, this probably isn't a surprise. Nice work, Cashman.

#9 We heard all winter that Jeter has lost a step, can't hit or hit for power, and his fielding range is even worse. Well, he's the Al starting shortstop in the All-Star exhibition with a shot at being this year's AL MVP. See how far a great personality will take you?

#10 Is Toronto really going to trade Halladay? There's a lot against it: Blue Jays want 3 grade-A prospects plus a couple more, they won't let anyone talk to Halladay until AFTER the trade is finalized, Halladay has a no-trade clause and they WON'T trade within their division, which eliminates the two clubs best able to meet their demands. Plus, there is talk that they might want to include Vernon Wells in the deal. I can't see this going down.

#11 Picasner and Vod have not come to blows. And we won't. But we will share a couple of beers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Innocence Lost

One of theses days we’ll all welcome Picasner back from the 19th century when men were men and pitchers pitched 40 complete games in a season. In the meantime, we’re all stuck in 2009 while Picasner plays interminable reruns of “Back to the Future” and moans nostalgically for the good old days that never were. (Ouch! Only teasing because I know you can take it and, more likely, ignore it.)

I can tell you from years of experience, the only time Picasner has ever accused me of “arbitrary” negativity was when I failed to remind him to bring enough beer to a party or if I had an opinion that differed from one of his formed in, and unmodified since, 1954.

Picasner sets up the straw man “…I suppose if EVERYONE does it…” and then erroneously blames one instance of a strategy not producing a win. The problem was not that Papelbon failed but rather that the Red Soxs did not score in the bottom of the 9th. I find the opinions of Joe Torre, Terry Francona, Joe Madden and other successful major league managers more compelling logically and in their ability to achieve intended outcomes than Picasner’s harkening to discarded strategies of yesteryear. There’s less than a six pack of Yankees still playing with World Series rings from the late, great teams, and all of those teams had great relievers, you know who they are, specifically for the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, and a long reliever – a couple three innings – when necessary. When you manage in New York, Boston, LA, and many other cities, you manage to win, today, everyday. If you don’t, you’re gone. Right, Willy?

Picasner asks, “In this day and age, when 'elite' closers are coddled and protected, why use him in that situation?” I do hope that Picasner someday has the opportunity to ask Mariano Rivera how he feels about being coddled and the answer is, it gives you the best chance of winning today. Final Answer.

Picasner continues, “Of course this is a business. That doesn't make it right to prostitute a whole special event in pursuit of the dollar. It happens in a lot of cases, like the World Series schedule.” I might remind our idealistic friend that even Newt Gingrich, that scion of Republican roll-your-own, f__k-your-buddy apologists, has written that “Where business prevails, ethics always suffer.” Owners run their organizations to maximize profit. If that means playing a game at 12:10 am on Nov. 1st, so be it. Tilt at all the windmills you like. Your righteous indignation (Is there any other kind?) is duly noted and series games will start 22 minutes earlier this year. Feel better?

“…advocating the sport…”? Since day one when a player asked for more money, “Baseball is a game, and money should never sully our sport.”, replied the owners. When players complained they were no more than indentured servants bound by the reserve clause, “Play for me or no one else, because it’s a business and we need to be protected.”, said the owners. That was the dark side, Picasner.

It’s religion. Major league baseball is, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, a business. And in the case of the Yankees, the team is one of several production companies that supplies entertainment to YES for commercial distribution. Amen.

“I believe the original intent was…”, if you complete that phrase with anything other than …to make money, you’re 1) na├»ve 2) dreaming 3) wrong 4) all of the above. Owners throughout baseball history have been among the most nefarious monopolists in our history. George Will and his ilk love to revel in the appointment of Judge Kenisaw Mountain Landis as Commissioner was a selfless act on the part of the owners that “saved the national pastime.” Landis’ major contributions were institutionalizing the servitude of players and pushing players of color out of major league baseball and keeping them out, a tradition upheld until Jackie Robinson was “allowed” to play. Ah, for the good old days.

Picasner and I share a common background. Our formative ideas of “baseball” developed in the 1950’s when we were kids unable and with no need to separate our sport, sandlot baseball, from the business of major league baseball. When we were 12 in 1956 growing up in Oswego, New York, what did we know about the reserve clause, racism in baseball or in any other aspect of American culture? Little or nothing. Did we know Mickey Mantle as a mortally damaged alcoholic or an idol to admire? What we knew is that if you played on a team that had a sponsor who provided hats and shirts, that was fat city.

Romanticizing the past prevents us from honestly assessing current events, and no generation may be guiltier of that self-delusion than we early boomers.

Spend some time talking to middle teens playing ball on summer traveling teams. They’ll tell you how they started their “careers” in Little League, played in Babe Ruth, got recruited to play on traveling teams with budgets for equipment, buses, hotels, and meals, recruited by college coaches with promises of partial or full rides. These kids know intimately that baseball is a business. You don’t need to look farther than your local Little League to find players that are protected and coddled.

Please, no more nostalgic laments about the game losing its innocence and that we shouldn’t …”passively sit by like we don't notice.” The game of baseball, the sport, lost its innocence with the passing of sandlot ball. Major league baseball was born out of desire for money and power. It never had any innocence to lose.

So…watch the Home Run Derby tonight and enjoy it. Watch the game Tuesday, or not. If you do, you’re likely to see pitchers who paint corners, fielders with great range and shot gun arms, or, in the case of Derek Jeter, a player who is so much more than the sum of his parts, and hitters that can center pitches that astonish mortal men. And following the game, just like the owners, the players will slide into their limos and fly private jets to mansions all over a country in the throes of the greatest economic upheaval since the Great Depression.

How sweet it is.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Was That Rumble?

The ground shook, the windows rattled, and the dog ducked for cover. Was it an unearthly clap of thunder? A volcano erupting in upstate New York? No, it was Picasner’s head exploding as Teixeira struck out and A-Roid grounded into a double play to extinguish a bases loaded, no-out threat in the 7th inning, with the Steinbrenners trailing by 2 in, where else, Anaheim.

After clawing their way into a 1st place tie with Boston the Yankees, predictably, dropped 3 straight to the Angels in California. And they did it with such vigor, getting hammered into oblivion in the first two games. Aroid pegging throws up the 1st base line, Derek Jeter doing his Luis Castillo imitation, Joba being Joba (not getting out of the 4th) and Pettite being Joba (not getting out of the 5th), and Robertson, egad, being Robertson, and Mariano getting another three day vacation.

I do hope Steinbrenner Corp. fans everywhere are comforted by “Zingy’s” (please shoot David Cone, please) post-game comments that, all in all, the Yankees should feel pretty good about their first half. Kenny, the eternal corporate pitchman, must be making a move to fill the Billy Mays vacuum. Flash, the Master of Monotone (please, drop acid in his vitamin water, please), actually brought a bit of reason to the conversation droning that it’s not a good thing to have a starting rotation in shambles. Still, none of the Steinbrenner Corp. Newspeakers has had the bollicks to bring attention to what is arguably the worst outfield in the AL East. And Eric Hinske is not the solution to any problem.

Well, let’s all take a breath for Picasner’s favorite summer non-event, the All Star game, and wish our leader a speedy cranial recovery

No fans anywhere deserve a break from watching their heroes more than the current Steinbrenner loyalists.

Friday, July 10, 2009

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?

I mentioned a couple of days ago that some players opt out of the All-Star game with, as I termed it, "injuries." If the following players excused themselves with the injuries listed, would you believe them?

Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs: Broke his toe jumping over the dugout fence to celebrate a win.
Kyle Farnsworth, KC Royals: Cut his hand trying to break up a fight between 2 of his dogs.
Freddie Sanchez, Pirates: Hurt his back getting out of a cab.
Rickie Romero, Toronto Blue Jays: strained his oblique when he sneezed.
Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati Reds: knocked himself out walking into a glass door.
Conditioning coaches everywhere had to cringe at this one---
Scott Eyre, Philadelphia Phillies: Strained a calf muscle running to the mound from the bullpen.

***WONDER WHY WE NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE***
A quote from Ryan Church after the Mets traded him: "They're gonna have to change all the signs. I know everything and I'm telling everybody." At least he's not bitter.

***OH, COME ON***
Supposedly, Pedro Martinez has his fastball up to 93 MPH. ...Can a radar gun be on steroids?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

AROUND THE HORN WITH CHAD

No rants, just highlights.

***DYKSTRA FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY***
A year ago, there was a story about Lenny Dykstra's post-baseball career. He was picking stocks and advising clients about the market. He was so good at it, that it warranted a TV spot. Everyone was shocked because, while he was playing, he called himself 'Dirt' because he couldn't remember how to spell Lenny. Now he was successful beyond belief, making so much money in the stock market, even he was shocked. He now owes between $10 and $50 million with assets of $50,000. It doesn't take a market genius to know those numbers don't add up.

***MANNY BEING...WELL, YOU KNOW***
Manny didn't like a strike call in the 5th inning, so he tossed his bat, flung his helmet and flipped his elbow guard. Unfortunately, the guard landed close enough to Umpire Hirshbeck to warrant the thumb. Didn't matter, however, since Manny said he he was through for the day anyway. To which Joe Torre responded, "Yeah, we only wanted him to...what?" As Boston writer, Bob Ryan, so aptly put it, "Just wait, Los Angeles. He'll quit on you. He always does."

***YA GOTTA LOVE SCOTT BORAS***
Boras is very upset with the Detroit Tigers over their treatment of his client, Magglio Ordonez. He was recently benched because of lack of production and manager Jim Leyland also announced that Magglio would be platooned with rookie Clete Thomas. "Totally unacceptable," was the way he put it. Now why is that? Could it be that Boras had incentives built into his contract based on plate appearances? Well, yes. It doesn't matter that Ordonez is hurting his team as long as Boras gets his 10% of the most money he can. This inmate not only wants to run the asylum, he wants to own it, too.

***LEFTCOASTSPORTSBABE***
"Manny Ramirez was ejected in the fifth inning of his fourth game back from his female fertility drug suspension. The Dodgers outfielder apologized afterwards, but explained that it was “that time of the month.”
"Oscar Mayer, the founder of the company that bears his name, died at the age of 95. He had attributed his long life to never eating any of his own products."

Michael Kay is on vacation till next week, so there will be no silly questions for a while. Kenny Singleton is trying, but it just isn't the same.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

IF EVERYONE JUMPED OFF A CLIFF...

Picasner is very disappointed. Usually Vod's negativity is intelligent and well thought out, and not just arbitrary.

***BULLPEN BURNOUT***
I suppose if EVERYONE does it, it must be right. Francona used Papelbon the other night in a tie game, burned him up and lost anyway, which was my point. In this day and age, when 'elite' closers are coddled and protected, why use him in that situation. Notice how Girardi used Aceves Sunday? Let him throw right through to the ninth. Is he learning? I guess I'm old school, Gossage-to-the-rescue-no matter-what-it-takes kind of guy.

***STRIKEOUTS***
Yes, a watered-down core of players is another 'part of the prob...er, business' (how's that?).

***WELL, IF MONEY IS INVOLVED...***
Of course this is a business. That doesn't make it right to prostitute a whole special event in pursuit of the dollar. It happens in a lot of cases, like the World Series schedule. Does that mean we should passively sit by like we don't notice. The Vod I remember from college, spoke out against all injustices. What happened to that guy that we all loved so much? As far as my use of the plural, apparently Jessie Fleischmann is alive and well and living in Central Square. Sorry.

***IT'S AN EXHIBITION GAME***
I believe the original intent was to see a 'Babe Ruth' hit against a 'Carl Hubbell'. Best against the best, not 'here are some good players we have.' I wouldn't care if they used wiffle balls and bats if the game was meaningless. But, it isn't. You know Jeter and Mo won't pass, but others do, citing "injuries" and what have you.

I'm surprised to see Vod justifying these inequities with business reasons as opposed to advocating the sport. Welcome to the dark side.

By the way, don't worry about 3rd base umpire, Marty Foster's blown call. Crew chief John Hirshbeck says he's buying him lunch today. ...Oh yeah, he's going to talk to him about it, too. That'll teach him.

Leftcoastsportsbabe.com has gotten far more political than sports-minded lately, and not funny. I'll be watching.

Picasner is Such a Romantic!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve checked up on what mischief Picasner has been up to, and, of course, our pontificating seer of seers, oracle of opinionated outrages, and the rector of rumor has not disappointed.

I always expect a Burn Up the Bullpen Rag, but two days in a row? Yo, P, please tell us who is your manager of choice in running a bullpen correctly? You’re pissed at Torre - best record in baseball and, yea, we know it’s the NL West, pissed at Girardi – 3rd best record in baseball - because he uses his closer in the top of the 9th if tied at home (just like every other manager in major league baseball), matches up with hitters in the late innings when possible (just like every other major league manager when they can) and Terry Francona – 2nd best record baseball - must drive you nuts the way he parades in relievers more often than Mo spits out luggies.

What is it with strikeouts, you ask? The obvious answer, and one that those trusted with the well being of the game would rather no one notice, is the huge dilution of talent in the bloated major leagues. Nick Swisher commands $5.4 million to play a mediocre right field, hit .240, and lead his team in strikeouts. Does he play because of 14 dingers or because even the well-heeled Steinbrenner Corp. doesn’t have a better option?

Welcome to the midpoint of the season. Great to see the Yankees and Red Soxs moving in opposite directions. It will be an interesting week with the Sox playing losers at home and the Yankees, on the road, playing teams with winning records, including their nemesis the Angels.

Derek Jeter is called out at 3rd because, according to the umpire, the ball beat him to the bag. No tag necessary! What’s really unusual about this play is that the 3rd base umpire was stupid enough to tell the truth about what we already know; umpires use shortcuts to avoid making tough calls and umpires are stupid.

Just saw P’s annual The All Star Game is a Farce post. Dear Picasner, so what, who cares, and get over it. Major league baseball is a business. It is all about the Benjamins. If the owners could make more money with a coin flip, they would. They were able to make more money ignoring drugs in the game, so they did.

Please, stop making comments that begin “Part of the problem…”. It’s not a problem, it’s just business. And it was business “back then”. But “back then” the owners controlled players with the reserve clause, a not particularly sophisticated form of indentured servitude. Ah, for the good old days that never were.

By the way, “tie games” is plural. That means more than one. Hasn’t happened. And if there is another, so what, etc.

What do you think the “original intent” of the All Star game was? It was an exhibition game, i.e. a marketing event designed to show off the product, played to make money. I would think that a devoted acolyte of the Steinbrenner Corp. would understand that and that focus has changed not at all. Picasner says he is not watching the game. So what, etc. When Derek Jeter or Mo decide to ignore it, then we’ll know it’s time to pass.

Monday, July 06, 2009

AS I SAID BEFORE...

...and Keith Law so eloquently explains:

Check out this column. He even proves my point on choosing all-stars---

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/columns/story?columnist=law_keith&id=4307862

THE ALL-STAR JOKE...ER...GAME

***THE GAME***
This used to be an interesting interlude during the season, showcasing the best players in the game for that year (for the most part). Now, however, they have completely changed this into a circus with very little focus on the original intent of the game. Part of the problem is the increase in the number of players from which to choose. In 1960, with 16 teams, there was a pool of 400 players to supply two 25-man teams, which means you had a 1 in 8 chance of being picked. The choices weren't all that hard: Mantle, Mays, Musial, Koufax, etc. Now you pick 66 players from a pool of 750, AND every team has to be represented. Back then, they tried to win the game, too. The starting pitcher went 3 innings. If the 2nd pitcher was hot, he went 3 innings, too. When the game was over, there might be 8 or 9 guys on the bench that didn't get in. So be it.
Now managers try to play everyone, pitchers seldom go more than one inning, and you end up with tie ball games. There is no rhythm to the game and the final score has no relation to the quality of the players. On top of which, this farce of a game determines the home-field advantage for the World Series, the ultimate championship of professional baseball. It's just an exhibition game. Maybe they should just flip a coin instead of playing the game.

***THE CHOICES***
No matter who picks them, there will be arguments over those choices. Fans pick famous names regardless of the kind of year they're having. One year, Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot box and picked 8 Cincinnati Reds to start the game. Ford Frick, in his one burst of intelligence, exercised his "good-of-the-game" clause, deleted three of them and reassigned three other players. Geeky analysts would pick based on some mathematical basis which will irritate everyone else.

What's the difference? Have your home run derby, play your crazy game and take a 4-day break from the pennant chases. Picasner hasn't watched the game in ten years and won't again this year. Maybe there'll be a cup-stacking tournament on TV.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

JUST A FEW THOUGHTS

***WANG HURT AGAIN***
A strained shoulder, bursitis, something is wrong. It appears that he going to miss some time. Of course, there's no chance that Hughes will be put back into the rotation because, "...he's not stretched out enough." How could he be with Girardi showing everyone how smart he is by making moves every inning. As Picasner has said in the past, why not use Hughes for two, three or even four innings? Why does he burn up his bullpen by using everybody for just one inning? Now, we're all paying the price.

***GIRARDI WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR?***
Yesterday, he was quoted as saying, "Yeah, Posada had a great game, but he got pretty banged up. I kept asking him how many fingers I was holding up, and most of the time, he was close enough."

***THREE MORE HOME RUNS***
I don't think Doc Halladay is too pleased with the new Yankee Stadium. He shouldn't blame the loss on that, though. He got hit pretty hard. Certainly not typical of him.

***A BUNT ON A 3-0 COUNT***
What was Cano thinking? Was he thinking at all? The 5-spot in the lineup is supposed to be the RBI spot. If you have your #5 guy bunting, I believe it's time to re-think the assignment.

***NEVER THOUGHT I'D BE SEEING THIS***
The Yanks make the Pirates pay half of Hinske remaining salary before they'll take him. Somebody's paying the Yanks? What's next, senior citizens discounts?

***NO, MICHAEL. NO! NO! NO!***
Michael Kay has begun calling Phil Coke & Phil Hughes, "The Philthy's" Please don't let this catch on.

***TORRE MANAGER OF THE YEAR?***
It's common for sportswriters to come out with the favorites in various categories, based on 1st half performances and Joe Torre seems to be the consensus pick for Manager-of-the Year. I'll bet not one of his bullpen crew voted for him. The biggest factor is the fact that the Dodgers have the best record is baseball. They have a good team, but they do feast on the weakest division in baseball, the NL West, and I think their bullpen is going to implode by September.

***TURMOIL IN THE MET'S CLUBHOUSE?***
There are rumors that the same back-stabbing that resulted in the firing of Willie Randolph, is happening now to Jerry Manuel. Bill Madden, of the NY Daily News, claims that the culprit is Assistant GM, Tony Bernazand. He says the the Wilpons, Met owners, seem to listen to Bernazand and not Omar Minaya, the GM. Well, Jerry, you were there went Willie got undermined, so you shouldn't be surprised.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

STRIKE THREE

***LET'S TALK ABOUT STRIKEOUTS***
It used to be a bad thing: Mickey Mantle's strikeouts were famous. Joe DiMaggio almost never did. He never struck out as many as 40 times in a season. Ted Williams once said if he could have 4 strikes an at-bat, he would never strike out and might hit .500. Well, maybe. Joe Torre says that Lou Brock once sat out the last game of the season just because he had 99 strikeouts and didn't want to end up with 100.

Today, it seems much different. Chris Davis had 100 strikeouts by June 20th. Adam Dunn once struck out 195 times in a season. He also had 108 walks that year in 681 plate appearances, which that he never touched the ball 45% of the time.

Why is that? Most analysts feel it's because of two things. The preponderance of effective relief pitchers, which means a batter can face three different pitchers in a game and wouldn't be able to zero in on any one guy. Secondly, the prevailing feeling is that pretty much everyone can reach the fences these days and managers will accept the strikeout to get the big dinger.

***MONEYBALL, THE MOVIE IS SHUT DOWN***
The movie version of the Billy Beane GM technique looks dead even though Brad Pitt was slated to star in it. Moneyball tells how Beane was able to build winning teams using statistical standards (such as on-base percentage) ignored by other General Managers. Why? Apparently the studio head, the producer and the director couldn't decide if it should be a documentary, a drama or a comedy. A comedy? Billy Beane may be laughing, but he's the only one.

***HE BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME***
Picasner has long been an advocate of limiting membership in the Hall only to the real stars, and not any 'sentimental' favorites (see Bill Mazeroski). However, one name has come up that I believe truly belongs there. The nominee: Ted Giannoulas, also known as The San Diego Chicken. He's been entertaining fans for almost 40 years, in the majors, the minors and a number of other sports. He's certainly deserving.
On a personal note, I met him once, out of 'uniform' (him, not me) and I found him to be polite and unassuming, just a nice guy. He was also quite small.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A FEW QUICKIES

***THE JOE TORRE CLONE***Micro-managing Joe Girardi looks like he's starting to blow out his bullpen. Okay, I can see bringing in Phil Coke to set down the two lefties and then bringing in Hughes to pitch the 7th, but why Bruney? Hughes has length. He should have pitched the 8th and, yes, even the 9th. No, Girardi has to burn up Bruney AND Rivera needlessly. What did Joe say his reason was? "Bruney is my 8th inning guy." Oh, thanks for that in-depth, professional answer, Joe. And, of course, Mariano gets to pad his statistics in the 9th. I better not hear that Pettitte has to "go long, because the bullpen needs a rest," tonight.

***GUESS THEY'RE HUMAN AFTER ALL***
The Sox blew a 10-1 lead to the Orioles with Papelbon giving up a key hit in the 8th. No sympathy here. With Lowell now on the DL, the Sox are looking for help. Nick Johnson would be a great fit, but the Nationals are in a position to ask for the moon and they certainly are.

***THE METS ARE FALLING FAST***
No one is going to go out of their way to help them cheaply. I don't think they should sell out their future for this year. Ride it out and if you're not out of it completely, make a run for the title when you get some guys back.

BTW, there is no truth to the rumor that the Mets new bullpen car is an ambulance. (But it should be)

***SOMEBODY HAS GOT TO BE WRONG***
Paul O'Neil says Ichiro is very popular in the Mariners clubhouse. A couple of the ESPN writers say he's like the Black Plague. Who's right?