Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Even though manager Joe Girardi said the players won't be judged until the baseball games start, the pitchers have made it clear that they are already in full competition mode. There's nothing wrong with a little competition, as long as it doesn't create a difficult situation when one of them loses the fight. I'm not saying that is definitely going to happen, but both players have engaged in immature behavior that could signal problems, whether it's the raucous celebrations by Joba after a strikeout or Hughes yelling at an umpire during his playoff struggles last year.
Joba and Hughes are young players at the start of what the Yankees hope will be long, successful careers in pinstripes. They have both shown flashes of greatness that validate the Yankees' commitment to them. Let's hope this 5th starter fight doesn't represent a step backward for either one of them.
Thanks to jcasabona via Wikipedia for the photo.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Among the insights: sex addicts are egomaniacs, but also adopt a victim mentality that allows them to participate in such behavior; sex addiction can be triggered by traumatic childhood events; kids are becoming increasingly vulnerable to such addictions with pornographic material so readily available on the Internet; the meetings are important not only because they help connect addicts who are dealing with similar struggles, but they serve as a reminder of the pain that their disease inflicts on themselves and their loved ones.
"They say time heals all wounds," Phillips said. "I don't want it to heal all wounds. I need to remember the pain I inflicted."
I found it particularly interesting when Phillips said his addiction had nothing to do with his wife and that he would still be a sex addict even if he wasn't married because it helps explain something that I've wondered about with Tiger Woods: why a guy with a beautiful wife would cheat with so many women.
I'm not going to applaud Phillips for finally getting into rehab because I still have doubts about whether he really did it to take hold of the disease or to minimize the firestorm he created by having an inappropriate sexual relationship with an ESPN co-worker and try to gain his family's forgiveness. But by publicly talking about it, he helps the rest of us understand what people like him and Woods are thinking when they make such self-destructive decisions.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Exhibit A: yesterday's press conference. Aside from stating that he wants to play for the Yankees for his entire career and that he wouldn't address his contract status again until the end of the season, the captain made it clear that he has put last year's World Series title in his rear-view mirror as the team seeks to repeat. As Jeter said, the Yankees haven't won anything in 2010.
Jeter's focus is particularly remarkable considering he is a single athlete in New York. I was talking to my two sisters about John Meyer's repulsive comments about his ex-girlfriends. I made the point that you would never catch Jeter saying anything either positive or negative about any of his current or former girlfriends. My two sisters, neither of whom are baseball fans, nodded in agreement.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
* George Steinbrenner made a rare appearance at the spring training facility named for him. Steinbrenner's family fiercely guards his privacy and I completely agree that people shouldn't speculate about the health of the Boss. I'm just glad to see him whenever he makes an appearance. I sometimes miss the old days with the roaring Boss. No matter what you thought of him personally, he always made things very interesting. Yankees camp has gotten dull with Hal Steinbrenner in charge of the team.
* Per Major League Baseball's new policy, a notice was posted in the Yankee clubhouse telling players that they are not allowed to bring weapons into the facility, a noteworthy policy in the wake of the locker room incident with the Washington Wizards where basketball players tried to resolve a gambling dispute by drawing weapons. Given the Yankees history with performance-enhancing drugs, they need a drug policy reminder more than a weapons notice.
* Jorge Posada recently compared CC Sabathia to former Yankee pitcher and perfect game winner David Wells. Being a big lefty blessed with a durable arm is about the only thing CC and Boomer have in common. CC is a quiet, family guy while Boomer was beloved by Yankee fans, including me, for his beer-guzzling, feisty ways.* Ben Affleck will reportedly direct and possibly star in a movie about the infamous wife swap of Yankees players Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich. Not surprising that a die-hard Boston Red Sox fans would want to dredge up one of the most shameful incidents in Yankees history, but I hope he doesn't sensationalize the story more than it already is.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
After being benched in the playoffs due to his offensive struggles, Boone stepped to the plate in the 11th inning of Game 7 with the score tied at five and slammed one of the most memorable home runs in Yankees history, propelling the Yanks to the World Series.
One of the most enduring memories of that game is Mariano Rivera crouched on the pitcher's mound, overcome with emotion and exhaustion after pitching three scoreless innings. But Boone made that moment possible and for that he will always have the gratitude of Yankees fans. Best wishes, Aaron!
Eric Gagne, once a dominant closer with the Los Angeles Dodgers who had 84 consecutive saves, admitted that he used HGH to recover from a knee injury in 2005. Gagne's admission is not a surprise, considering he was named as a recipient of HGH in Senator George Mitchell's report on PED use in baseball. But the former Cy Young award winner's admission comes when he is trying to revive his baseball career after accepting a minor-league invite from the Dodgers.
Henry Aaron, the rightful home run king, welcomed Mark McGwire's admission of steroid use and said all players who used PEDs should come forward and admit it because they will quickly be forgiven. He pointed to Andy Pettitte's confession of HGH use and the fact that he was embraced by his New York Yankees teammates and by Yankees fans. Aaron and other baseball fans are a lot more forgiving than I am, but he's right about all the players needing to come forward. Baseball can't move on with these near-daily reminders of its shameful past.
Selig consistently argues that baseball has moved past its drug problem, but until Major League Baseball tests for all drugs, including HGH, it will never be able to fully transition to a drug-free era. He said last year baseball is spending millions to develop a HGH test that works. Hopefully, a HGH test effectively used by anti-doping agencies will truly give baseball the fresh start it needs.
Posada and Burnett both insisted that they were looking forward to working together. Burnett did admit there were communication problems during rough starts last year, but said he wants to throw the ball to Posada. Jorge said they have both moved on and that he loves catching AJ.
At a press conference to announce his signing with the Detroit Tigers, Damon tried to put the best spin on his move by saying Detroit was the team he wanted to sign with after it became clear he wouldn't return to the Bronx. But Damon couldn't help taking a few shots at his former team by saying that unlike his last press conference upon switching teams (to the Yankees from the Boston Red Sox), he felt like he actually belonged in Detroit. He also lamented the team's desire for him to take a pay cut after a solid regular season and playoff performance and his active recruitment of other players.
But Damon shares some responsibility here, which I think deep down he knows. He acknowledged yesterday that he and agent Scott Boras told Brian Cashman not to bother offering less than $13 million a year, a serious miscalculation. He tried to pull an Alex Rodriguez-like move by personally calling owner Hal Steinbrenner to try to negotiate a deal, but it was too late.
Damon's ego was bruised by these negotiations and he's lashing out. But really he should just focus on moving on, just like the Yankees did.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Take Rule #1, for example. Get your rest. Mo says eight hours of sleep a night is critical. I couldn't agree more. Anytime I get less than that I feel cranky and tired. I'm always amazed at people who don't need more than four or five hours, wondering how they get through the day without falling over. I much prefer Mo's approach.
Mariano should be a Weight Watchers spokesman. The folks at WW would love Rules #2, 3 and 4, which emphasize eating the right foods, exercising regularly and avoiding the empty calories of alcohol. Is there a better role model for people who want to keep themselves in shape than Mo?
It's high time that Burnett be weaned off this personal catcher routine. I know he had problems with Posada and pitched better when being caught by Jose Molina. I even advocated that Molina catch him during the baseball playoffs last year, given the high stakes. But it's a new year and Molina is no longer a Yankee so it's the perfect time for Jorge and AJ to get to know each other and get a rhythm going.
Posada seems genuinely excited about catching Burnett after feeling the sting of having to sit at the start of his turns in the postseason rotation. But the catcher, known for his fiery personality, is going to have to make a real attempt to understand his pitchers' needs. And that goes beyond Burnett, who wasn't the only pitcher to have a problem with Posada.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
While making it clear that winning the World Series always remains the goal, Steinbrenner flatly answered no when asked if Girardi has to win it all again. He said that Girardi was both his and general manager Brian Cashman's choice and that his manager proved them right last year. Girardi himself seems unconcerned about his contract and why should he be? He won the World Series last year and he's already been fired once as a manager so I'm sure he's not worried about losing his job.
The media right now are more focused on the contracts of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. But I think the lack of a contract for Girardi has the potential to be a bigger distraction. Hopefully the Yankees get off to a good start and this becomes a non-issue.
Media reports describe Vazquez as excited and thrilled to be back with the New York Yankees. He seems ready to redeem himself for the disappearing act in the second half of 2004 and his horrendous playoff performance. And he is getting a lot of support from the Yankees organization, from Brian Cashman who made the trade to get him back to the Bronx, to Joe Girardi who praised him as more than a fourth starter, to Jorge Posada who noted that he was a strong contender for the National League Cy Young award last year.
Is it enough to have the support of your manager, general manager and teammates? Vazquez better hope so because Yankee fans will be all over him at the first sign of faltering. Vazquez has no margin for error given that his worst moment came in a series that allowed the Boston Red Sox to step over the Yanks on their way to their first World Series in 86 years. There will be no honeymoon period so let's hope Vazquez has the stuff and guts to reward the Yankees faith.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The New York Yankees are lucky to have three of those 12 career players: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. But as Tom Verducci pointed out, the Yankees are one of the few teams that could afford to keep such talented players for so long, with their combined contracts totaling $49.1 million.
Despite swirling controversy over the upcoming expiration of their contracts, Verducci predicted that Jeter and Mo would retire as Yankees and enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of that group of 25% of players that go in playing for one team. He also put Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves on that list, which makes sense with the popular Chipper nearing the end of his career, as well as Ichiro Suzuki, who is an icon in Seattle.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Granderson's comfort in making a change in either his position or the lineup will be a major factor in Girardi's decision making. But Granderson seems determined to make the decision as easy as possible for his new manager by being as low maintenance as possible. He repeatedly stated that he would be OK with a move to left field, reminding people that he hasn't always been a center fielder. Granderson also said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup. Classic non-diva attitude, which is important for a new guy on a team that just won the World Series.
But he did reiterate a point he made in his introductory press conference a few months ago, that he is not a home run hitter despite hitting 30 homers last season. Granderson seems to be trying to lower expectations that the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium will automatically translate into an Albert Pujols-like power surge. Don't worry about that, Curtis. Just try to get better hitting those lefties!
Monday, February 15, 2010
The pressure on Cervelli is going to be tremendous this year, especially with superprospect Jesus Montero waiting in the wings. Montero is already getting a lot of ink, with a profile in the Daily News this weekend. But Montero is only 20 years old and probably needs at least another year or two in the minor leagues. This is Cervelli's time to show what he can do in the big leagues.
He is lucky to have a former big-league backstop in Joe Girardi as his manager. Girardi taught Posada a lot of what he knows about catching and can do the same for Cervelli. Plus, Girardi is going to be patient with the youngster and will do his best to deflect any pressure. But ultimately it will be up to Cervelli to show last year was no fluke. I'll be rooting for him.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
In the third paragraph of their official statement, Olympic officials heartlessly blamed Kumaritashvili for failing to correct a late exit from a curve. It's a tasteless stance to take mere hours after the athlete's death. Even if he did make a mistake, it should not have been fatal. Moreover, Kumaritashvili wasn't the only athlete to have trouble with the track and that should have been an indication that there were major problems that should have been dealt with.
I also find it hard to believe that law enforcement officials could have conducted and completed a thorough investigation less than a day after the terrible tragedy. It seems more like an attempt to deflect blame. It is cruel and disrespectful of the pain and suffering being faced by his family, friends and fellow Georgian athletes.
I hope Olympic officials right the wrong and properly acknowledge some responsibility for the tragedy. But I suspect it will be a cold day in hell before they do.
Monahan has been a Yankees staple since the early 1960s, working in their minor league system before serving as head trainer for the big club. He has been involved in the care and treatment of every major injury Yankee players have faced, including the horrific shoulder dislocation suffered by Yankee Captain Derek Jeter at the start of the 2003 season. He is a legend in his profession, gaining entrance into the New York State Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
My only hope is that Monahan takes care of himself and completely recovers well from whatever illness he is suffering from. Get well soon, Gene.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
In a sign that all is forgiven between Frank Thomas, best known as the "Big Hurt", and the Chicago White Sox after a bitter parting, the team announced it would retire his #35 in August. It's a smart, classy move.
"When you become an icon in a city, there's never a sweet way to say goodbye," Thomas said in an interview on MLB Network's Hot Stove show. "There are no hard feelings. We patched things up, we really have."
Thomas will undoubtedly enter the Baseball Hall of Fame with a White Sox cap when he becomes eligible for the first time in 2014. "I would love to be part of that elite class, God willing," Thomas said. "I think my resume speaks for itself."He's absolutely right. He's a sure-fire, first-ballot inductee and we don't have very many of those anymore. It's going to be a great summer in 2014 with him and Tom Glavine heading the class.
Thanks to BCS National Championship via Wikipedia for the photo.
Friday, February 12, 2010
My heart goes out to the athletes from the Republic of Georgia. After all the chaos caused by the brutal conflict with Russia in 2008, these athletes likely represented a new hope for the country. For that to end even before the Winter Games officially start is just cruel. His family and friends must be in terrible pain right now, especially since he, like all the Olympic athletes, worked so hard to get to Vancouver.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Georgian athletes and Kumaritashvili's family.
Thanks to SFC Richard Guzman, USAREC via Wikipedia for the photo.
Thomas was one of the most dangerous sluggers in baseball. The numbers are impressive: .301 batting average, 521 home runs, 2,468 hits and 1,704 ribbies. He won back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player awards and was selected for the All-Star team five times.
Thomas was often a controversial figure, never hesitating to speak his mind, even if that meant criticizing his bosses. He won his only World Series title with the Chicago White Sox in 2005, but had a bitter parting with them before signing with the Oakland Athletics. But that honesty came in handy as Thomas was one of the few players openly advocating for drug testing during the steroid era while other clean colleagues simply looked the other way.
Thanks to Ken N via Wikipedia for the photo.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
First Randy Johnson, now Tom Glavine. Baseball lost another great lefty pitcher to retirement when Glavine announced he would hang up his spikes after a long and successful career.
Glavine posted a 305-203 career record with a 3.54 and 2,607 strikeouts. He won the National League Cy Young award twice and was named to the All-Star team 10 times. He won 20 games five times, a remarkable feat in this baseball era.
Having passed the magic 300-win mark, Glavine's Hall of Fame credentials are certain. He and Johnson will make a helluva inductee class. He will go in with an Atlanta Braves cap as he won his only World Series championship with the team, but he did win that 300th game during his roller coaster tenure with the New York Mets.
I'm glad to hear Glavine isn't planning to walk away from baseball, taking a front-office job with the Braves. He was one of the smartest pitchers in baseball and a genuinely good guy. I hope he takes the opportunity to share his gift with the young pitchers who will follow in his footsteps.
Thanks to Jimmyack205 via Wikipedia for the photo.
Of course, they won't get any help sensationalizing the story from Jeter. When that press conference does occur, here's what he is likely to say publicly: that focusing on winning another title is more important than his contract, that he has no problem waiting until the offseason, that the non-negotiations won't be a distraction. I wonder if deep down Jeter is at all annoyed by the Yankees insistence on waiting if for no other reason than he has to answer questions about it. But given how fiercely he guards his privacy, we won't know for sure whether Jeter is bothered by the refusal to negotiate.
Jeter is not the only one who will have to answer these questions. Mariano Rivera will be asked about his contract situation when pitchers and catchers report next week. I imagine he and Jeter will say the same thing: that they are fine with waiting.
In terms of expiring contracts, the real issue is manager Joe Girardi. If the Yanks get off to a bad start, Girardi will be bombarded daily with questions about his job security. Unfair to say the least, given that he just managed a World Series winning team, but that's the way things go in New York.
The New York Yankees can play a role in addressing obesity by offering healthier snacks and foods at Yankee Stadium. Getting exercise at the stadium is not a problem if you take the hike up the ramps to the top levels where the lower-priced seats are located. But burgers, hot dogs and beer are still the norm and kids can get their fill of cotton candy and ice cream at the stadium. What I'd like to see is more of an emphasis on healthy foods and snacks: grilled chicken salads, fruit cups, low-fat popcorn, yogurts.
This is a very personal issue to me as I struggled with my weight for many years. Before I joined Weight Watchers four years ago, I weighed nearly 200 pounds. But WW taught me how to eat right and exercise regularly. Within eight months, I lost 55 pounds and have kept it off ever since.
Thanks to Joyce N. Boghosian, White House photographer, via Wikipedia for the photo.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
ARod obviously was at fault in starting the rift, saying things that he never should have said about anyone, especially a friend, to a national magazine writer. But Jeter played a role in dragging out the animosity. I'm not saying Jeter should just forgive and forget, but you have to find a way to get along with your co-workers, even the ones you don't like.
In an interview with Harold Reynolds on MLB Network last week, Jeter said he was extremely happy that ARod got the proverbial monkey off his back with his monster playoff run. "The better Alex plays, the better our team is," he said. "He's a vital part of our team. He had one of those postseasons to remember."
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I was surprised Derek Jeter was only #33 on the list. Jeter is the most visible player for the New York Yankees, the most recognized baseball team in the world. But athletes in individual sports such as golf took most of the top spots while the National Football League and National Basketball Association outranked Major League Baseball at the team sports level. Albert Pujols is the top ranked player for baseball in the #4 slot.
Jeter may be only #33 on the list, but his likeability is second to none in Yankee land. Perhaps he gets hurt by the backlash against the Yankees free-spending ways.
But as the magazine notes, Captain Clutch had a fantastic season that ended with his fifth championship. He probably moves up the list next year.
Thanks to KOknockout920 via en.Wikipedia for the photo.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Hitting 500 home runs is not the achievement that it used to be, given the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. And ARod's numbers are tainted because of his acknowledged steroid use for several years of his career with the Texas Rangers.
ARod is likely to break Barry Bond's home run record (762) in a New York Yankees uniform. But it's a moment I won't be celebrating. Unlike Derek Jeter topping Lou Gehrig for the all-time Yankees hits record, I will take no pleasure watching ARod break that home run record. That home run will always remind me of the damage ARod and other players have done to the game of baseball.
Friday, February 5, 2010
There are two major baseball decisions he will need to make. The first and most important is deciding who will be the fifth starter for the New York Yankees. The competition is mostly between Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, with Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in the mix. This won't be Girardi's decision alone as Brian Cashman & Co. will weigh in. But Girardi is going to be closest to the action so he may cast the deciding vote.
The Yankees manager will also have to settle who plays center field and who plays left. Given Girardi is a pitching and defense guy, my money is on Brett Gardner in center with Curtis Granderson in left.
Girardi made some good moves in spring training last year that helped the Yankees win, namely flipping Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon in the lineup. Can Girardi find that Midas touch again? We'll know soon.
How do you calculate Jeter's value in terms of dollars and cents? That's a tough one. Jeter's in the final year of a 10-year, $189 million contract. Looking strictly at stats, some observers would conclude that he's not worth that kind of money. But let's look at those stats: .317 career batting average, 2,747 hits, 1,574 runs, 224 home runs and 1,068 ribbies. He was the 1996 Rookie of the Year, a 10-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner. And, of course, the only number that really counts: 5, as in five world championships.
But Jeter's value has never been about just stats. It's no coincidence that the Yankees started winning titles again when Jeter took over at shortstop. He and Mariano Rivera were the heart and soul of the most recent Yankees dynasty. And they have a strong chance of starting a new one, surrounded by good, young players such as Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. But it always starts with Jeter's leadership. Take that out of the Yankees and there's no way they do as well.
Maybe I'm naive, but I don't believe Jeter would ever leave the Yankees nor do I believe the team would ever allow him to leave. The brass can strong arm other players as much as they want, but try to pull the same with Jeter and Mo and they risk a mass rebellion. I think Jeter will be reasonable in his contract demands. I don't know what his request would be, but I would guess a four or five-year deal at about $20-$22 million per year. That's a lot of money, but given his value to the Yanks, it's a steal.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Steinbrenner thinks the offseason moves made by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman (trading for Curtis Granderson and Javy Vazquez) have improved the team. I would quibble with that notion on the Vazquez end, but he may be right. The Yankees did fulfill Cashman's stated desire to get younger and more flexible. They managed to revamp their roster in a cost-effective way, a goal of Hank's brother Hal after years of what he sees as out-of-control spending by the real Boss: George Steinbrenner.
Yet, I think Jr. Boss & Co. are underestimating the impact of losing both Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, good guys with clutch bats. The brass is counting on Granderson and Nick Johnson to fill that void both in the lineup and the clubhouse. We'll see if they have the goods to do it.