Tag Archive | "New York Yankees"

Steinbrenner and Miller not in the Hall of Fame?  LOL

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Steinbrenner and Miller not in the Hall of Fame? LOL

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

George Steinbrenner and Marvin Miller didn’t make it into the baseball Hall of Fame?

OK, that’s fine.  If you don’t want two of the most influential people in the history of the sport recognized for their contributions, so be it.

Steinbrenner, personal flaws notwithstanding (and, like a lot of extraordinarily wealthy people, he wasn’t the nicest guy in the room), gave every owner in baseball (and, frankly, in sports) the blueprint on how to do it.

Easy summary — Make the fans pay for it.  If you reward them with a product they can be proud of, they’ll pay for it and gladly do so.

George Steinbrenner was the guy who figured it all out.  It’s about television and revenue and re-investing in the franchise.  Sure, his market could support a larger investment in that payroll based on the income they generated, but what would have made Steinbrenner more of a heel — bringing in $400 million in revenue and only spending $80 million of it on his product or bringing in $400 million in revenue and putting half of that back into the playing roster to produce an organization his fan base would continue to support?

These days, the Steinbrenner plan has been adopted — successfully in most cases — by the Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals and Orioles.  Well, actually, we haven’t figured out the third part of the equation here in Baltimore.  We have the TV network and the revenue, but we don’t reinvest those funds in the product.  Someday, we’ll get it right.

George Steinbrenner belongs in the Hall of Fame just as much as Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa.

So does Marvin Miller, honestly.

In fact, Miller belongs in one minute ahead of Steinbrenner.

Whether or not you and I like the fact that barely mediocre players can scoop up $2 million a year for hitting .250, the fact remains that Miller’s intestinal fortitude on behalf of the players forever changed the landscape of the blueprint Steinbrenner developed.

Miller was the guy who said — “You’re not going to take advantage of the employees.”

Did he strong-arm the owners and the sport?  Sure.

Was he, in part, responsible for a segment of the fan base becoming forever turned-off by a sport that paid people entirely more money than the effort required to perform their duties should have allowed?  No doubt.

But, Marvin Miller wasn’t employed by the fans and his daily goal wasn’t to appease them.

Marvin Miller worked for the players and his job was to fight the owners on behalf of them.

He did that at such a remarkable rate of success he forever changed the landscape of compensation for anyone who plays baseball for a living.

Personally, there are a lot of things about the Marvin Miller era that I still believe are ruinous to the sport and the competitive nature of 30 different “units” trying to compete with one another and do it on a somewhat level playing field.

But, Marvin Miller didn’t work for me.

He worked for the players.

And, as we know with every sport, the game is always about the players.

The fans matter.  The owners matter.  The front office folks matter.

Without players, there’s no game.

Marvin Miller knew that better than anyone.

So did Steinbrenner.

 

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Yankees want to win, they sign good players…Orioles want to win and…and…and…never mind.

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Yankees want to win, they sign good players…Orioles want to win and…and…and…never mind.

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

I called the Jacoby Ellsbury to New York move back in September.

That one was as easy as predicting the Orioles won’t sign any REAL free agents in the winter.

The Yankees not only added a quality player, but they’re now going to face the Red Sox 19 times a year with Ellsbury on THEIR team instead of the other way around.

Ellsbury’s injury history makes it easy for people jealous of the Yankees to snicker and point their finger at New York’s front office while saying, “You dummies…that guy is always hurt!”

He wasn’t hurt last October when Boston was winning the World Series.

I completely understand that people in Baltimore are conditioned to criticize all free agent signings of the Yankees and Red Sox.  Go back and look at the way the orange apologists in town laughed and scoffed at Boston last winter when they inked Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino to contracts.

How’d that work out for the guys in Boston?

Back in 2009 when the Yankees landed Sabathia, Teixeira and Burnett, lots of folks in Baltimore LOL’d at New York for forking over $400 million for those three guys.  They won the World Series that year.  Sabathia has been phenomenal in New York, Teixeira was very good until his injury last year and Burnett was outstanding the year New York won the title but has since moved on.

They signed those three players because they wanted to win.

And win they did.

We pick on everything those franchises do because we want their signings to fail — but as the Red Sox showed last year, when you sign good players they rarely fail.  That’s why they’re good baseball players.  Some of the signings don’t work out.  See my comments above about A.J. Burnett in New York.  But, if one girl in your high school economics class says, “No thanks, I’d rather feed my goldfish” when you ask her to the prom, do you not ask anyone else?

I also understand the need to review a player’s health while evaluating his worth, but please don’t be one of those goofs who says “I wouldn’t take Ellsbury on my team, he’s injury prone.”

No, he isn’t.

Nolan Reimold — now there’s a guy living in the definition of “injury prone”.

He doesn’t play.  Because he’s always hurt.

And, when you don’t play, you have ZERO value to the team.

Ellsbury — and some of his injuries have been more about his style-of-play than anything else — is a helluva baseball player who clearly got paid a king’s ransom in New York because he’s the proverbial “table setter” for the rest of the lineup.

Sure, he can’t be missing 60 games a year over the next seven seasons or his $153 million dollar deal will be outrageously out-of-balance, but you can’t go into any sort of “mega contract” pre-predicting a player’s health or you wouldn’t sign anyone of value.

This, of course, speaks far more about the Yankees wanting to win than it does anything else.  They had a gaping hole at catcher heading into the winter and quickly solved it in a big way by bringing on Brian McCann.  They wanted an upgrade in centerfield and quickly solved it by adding Ellsbury.

Did they overpay for those two?

Most certainly they did.

Are the Yankees a MUCH better team this morning than they were two weeks ago today?

You bet your pin-striped rear end they are.

And that’s how they roll in New York, where their quest for winning trumps everything.

In Baltimore, where the Orioles have GOBS ANB GOBS of money at their disposal, the quest for winning comes in 3rd or 4th place on the list of “what’s really important to us this off-season?”

By the way, the Red Sox will also be heard from over the next month or so.

Sure, they just won the World Series – something we haven’t done in Charm City for 30 years now – but they’re not going to sit back and dismantle their team while the Yankees get better.

The Orioles don’t compete with the Yankees and Red Sox for players for one reason and one reason only.

Because they choose not to.

 

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A-Rod’s grandstanding act: Great theater, but a PED user is a PED user

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A-Rod’s grandstanding act: Great theater, but a PED user is a PED user

Posted on 21 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

As we’ve seen with our very own President of the United States, once you outright lie — and get caught — the confidence level of those who are in place to judge you and your future endeavors is almost unfairly going to be low.

In the case of Alex Rodriguez, there are about fourteen people in the country who stare into his movie-star eyes and think to themselves, “Wow, they sure have railroaded that guy…”

The rest of America — the smart ones — knows the truth.

We don’t know “the story”, per-se, but we know the truth.  The truth is, whatever A-Rod is saying about his involvement in PED’s over the last three years and his attachment to Anthony Bosch in South Florida is, almost without question, a fib.

Yesterday, in a surprise interview on New York’s WFAN, Rodriguez said, “I’m guilty of nothing.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Nothing.”

Yeah, OK, and “if you like your plan, you can keep you plan…”

Give A-Rod and his team of story-weavers high marks for grandstanding their way out of the courtroom on Wednesday and trying to get folks to shower them with sympathy.

That was Academy Award script stuff.

Director — “OK, now, in this scene, you’re going to get sooooooo mad at the landslide of evidence placed in front of you that you’re going to just storm out of the courtroom.”

Actor — “Should I bang my fist on the table as I get up and gather my briefcase, cell phone and syringe?”

Director — “Yes!  Great idea.  Why don’t you call the guy the prosecution brought along to present the evidence a “Slimy Bastard!” as you walk out.”

Actor — “Yeah, yeah, that’s good.  Should I leave my phone number with his wife as I get to the back of the court?”

Director — “No, that’s probably not necessary.  It won’t fit with the whole scene where you’re so irate and disgusted with everyone and everything that you can’t stay in the courtroom one more second.”

That’s what unfolded on Wednesday in New York, where A-Rod basically gave up the fight to have his 211 game suspension reduced and decided to play his final card.  The one that reads: “The Commissioner hates me and it’s personal now.”

A-Rod is probably right.

I’m sure Bud Selig probably does strongly dislike him.

And why wouldn’t he?

Rodriguez is already an admitted steroid user who once pledged to anyone who would listen that his naughty days were over and that he “loves the game too much to disrespect it by lying to the fans”.

Baseball believed him.  Right up until the Anthony Bosch story broke last spring and there was #13′s name, along with mountains of evidence that connected him to performance enhancing drugs.

Selig and the rest of the folks running the game then said: “OK, that’s it.  This creep is done.”

Does anyone with a brain really think baseball would embarrass and denigrate their own product and business with a national court case/lawsuit of this magnitude if they didn’t have evidence beyond evidence that one of their game’s biggest stars was an ongoing fraud?

What’s in it for baseball to do this to themselves?

Why would they put their product on a national pedestal like this and subject their sport, teams and players to ridicule and, potentially, loss of big business from corporate America — unless they were prepared to battle like hell to get this germ out of their system once and for all?

Bud Selig’s not the coolest guy on the planet.

He’s made his fair share of mistakes as baseball’s Commissioner.

But, he’s not a dummy, either.

Major League Baseball wouldn’t have handed down this historic suspension and put themselves in front of an arbiter unless they knew they were likely going to win.

A-Rod knows he’s going to lose, too.

That’s why he walked out yesterday.

 

 

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ARoid HOF Plaque

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A-Roid is Special

Posted on 18 August 2013 by Tom Federline

Alex Rodriguez is special in his own mind and to the thousands of nieve Yankee fans that still support him. He is so special, he has been allowed to put his inevitable suspension on hold. He is so special, he is still playing baseball and he is still getting paid. He is so special, MLB is not even going to hear his case until November/December of this year, (after post season). Why is that? The 12 other suspended players accepted their defeat, accepted their guilt. You caught us, suspend us without pay (we don’t need all that ridculous cash anyway), and BTW thank you for enforcing this now. That way we can have a vacation and then return for the playoffs. Review all of the above, as it presents more evidence that professional sports “Is Fixed”.

A-roid, could you just do us all a favor and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – (Tom Petty). You make me sick. If you never show your face again in Baltimore or at Camden Yards – our city and our experience at the stadium is better for it. Just go away. Don’t even stop by and pick up Brady for one last butt PED injection. You have tarnished the game of baseball. In this Steroid Era (1990-Present), you and the other 70% fellow needle sticking butt buddies, have managed to place doubt whenever excellence is being achieved, i.e. currently the Orioles own Chris Davis.

Chris Davis has offered is two cents on any allegations directed at him by addressing talk about chasing the single season Home Run record. Not verbatum – but here’s the jist – “The only record I’m concerned about is Roger Maris’ 61. The others don’t count.” Those are my sentiments and more than likely the sentiments of all true baseball fans. Hopefully Davis is not pulling a Rafeal Palmeiro. Hopefully he is legit. Hopefully Albert Pujols is legit. Hopefully Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are legit. What are your thoughts? Here’s mine – thanks to Bud Selig, the players union and MLB – they are all guilty. And if they have not tested positive, they are the ones with the good agents, they are the ones paying off the right people at the testing labs. I don’t know what happened with A-roid and his 28 million a year. Maybe Biogenesis got to greedy with A-roids’ name on the list and the buy-off price got to high. That’s why the other 12 had to surrender.

It’s just not right. It’s all fixed, plus one. Meaning – it’s “all fixed” with performance enhancing drugs simply adding salt into baseballs wound. A-Roid is special and pretty and rich. Kinda makes you a little envious of A-roid. It makes me so envious – it makes me gag. Which I almost did, last Sunday. I can tell you one thing, I’m glad I did not have a heavy object in my hand or I would have been out buying a new television this past week.

Last Sunday afternoon – I turned on the PGA golf tournament. Within minutes my stomach started to rumble and become mildly upset. For ten miuntes all I heard were the “commentators” continuously swoon over Tiger Woods and Phil Mikelson. Whose rounds by the way, were long completed and they were on their way home. The golf “groupies” couldn’t accept the fact that competitive golf could still be played without Tigger ” Mr.4-iron” and Phil “how do you like my fake smile?” I digress. Bottom line – golf is off, what else is on? I turned the station to find Detroit vs. the Yankees. Oh joy, Justin Verlander (another potential juicer) vs. A-roid. I was asking for pain at this point.

Here comes A-Roid and his first at bat…. Home Run. RUKM? My stomach has now begun to rumble. There were some boos in the crowd………. prior to his at-bat. All of which, turned to cheers and a standin ovation after the homerun. RUKM? Just wasn’t right, man. More reasons not to respect Yankee fans. At this point I buckled over, while shouting a few choice “unmentionalbles” at the television. And for those who know me – it was quite “juicy”. At this point, I was hoping that was the worst of it. Oh no, MLB and Fox Sports wasn’t convinced I was sick enough. Next they put up a stat – “A-Roid is 1 RBI away from tying Stan Musial.” That was it – dry heaving and piercing pains in the back of my head almost did me in. A-roid and Stan Musial in the same sentence. You just gagged like I did, didn’t you? Just how wrong is that? My take – the Steroid Era boys get their own record book and Wall of Shame.

Enough already. Let’s get positive. Orioles – whoops – that’s a tough one. They are not hitting in the clutch and how about this newsflash? Jimmy JJ Johnson – no more 9th inning! Bench him for 50 games and no pay. Guess what happens? He gets a vacation, he gets to ponder the use of “juicy juice” and he’s back for playoffs. Orioles in the PLAYOFFS? Not at this pace. Not with thier current attitude. They have experienced their second low-point of the season. And no extended high point to off-set the lows. It’s not all Jimmy JJ’s fault. They all are guilty, including Buck-Buck. Where is your “closer by committee”, Buck-Buck? What’s with the all the LOB in scoring position, Buck-Buck? O’s are not going to the Promised Land with current state of affairs.

Summary – no more juicy juice talk please. O’s have an outside shot at making a run. Let’s have fun. Just go away A-ROID and take your other suspected/questionable PED teammate buddies with you: Teixeira, Sabathia, Jeter (oh yeah throw him in there too), Granderson, etc. etc. Yankees go home. Let’s just make it O’s, Red Sux and some team that plays inside in Florida. Fan in need of Orange Kool-aid.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Orioles Relievers In Need of Relief

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Orioles Relievers In Need of Relief

Posted on 21 May 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

There are lots of theories about what’s been wrong with Jim Johnson over the last week or so. The analysis (or over-analysis) of baseball can lead us down a lot of different roads, seeking an explanation for why the bottom has dropped out so dramatically on the Orioles’ closer. Sometimes that analysis might lead us to overlook the easiest of answers, but sometimes the easiest answers are the right ones.

The inability of the Orioles starting rotation to simply eat innings has been an issue all season. Now it seems that issue could be taking its toll on the bullpen.

 

It’s not as if last year the O’s did a much better job of covering innings with their starters, but what they were able to do was better hide their issues with a steady stream of arms passing through the revolving door between the big club and its minor league affiliates.

 

This year with fewer players having options remaining, the Orioles have to be more creative with their roster shuffling or risk losing players with promise to the waiver wire when sending them back and forth between the minors and the big club.

 

Last year the Orioles found themselves on the bad side of the run differential equation too. As a result many cast the team as lucky, and deemed their success unsustainable. While they indeed may have been lucky, it was that luck that in large part made them sustainable.

 

This year’s Orioles have a fantastic offense, and are sitting on the right side of the run differential, but they haven’t been able to come up with blowout wins. The blowout losses that fed last season’s run differential debate are gone as well, which hasn’t provided the team with the “luxury” of rolling out the B-bullpen and living to fight another day. As a result, the 3 arms in the bullpen that the O’s seem to trust are being used at an alarming, and likely unsustainable, rate.

 

Jim Johnson

 

Last year Johnson pitched in 71 games in the regular season. That’s 43.8% of the team’s 162.He pitched in 63 wins (67.7%) and only 8 losses (11.5%).

So far this season, Johnson has pitched in half of the team’s 44 games. He’s been in 73.9% of Orioles wins, and also in 23.8% of their losses.

He’s on pace to pitch an incredible 81 games.

 

Darren O’Day

 

In 2012 O’Day pitched in 69 games. That’s 42.5% of the Orioles total. He threw in 48 wins (51.6%) and 21 losses (30.4%).

So far in 2013, he’s thrown in 21 games or 47.7% of the teams total. . He’s been used in 15 wins (65.2%) and 6 losses (28.5%).

O’Day is on pace to pitch in 77 games.

 

Brian Matusz (relief only)

 

Matusz became a member of the Orioles bullpen on 8/24/12, and appeared in 18 games. That’s 47.3% of the 38 games he was available for. He threw in 14 wins (56.5%) and 4 losses (30.4%).

So far in 2013 Matusz has thrown in 21 games or 47.7%. He’s been in for 13 wins (56.5%) and 8 losses (38%).

Matusz is also on a 77 game pace.

 

The absence of Luis Ayala, the ineffectiveness of Pedro Strop, the inconsistency of Troy Patton and Tommy Hunter, and the inexperience of TJ McFarland has left Matusz, O’Day and Johnson to pick up most of the bullpen load when the Orioles are winning. The inability of the starters to pitch deep into games has left more innings to be picked up. And the lack of blowouts, for or against the Orioles, have led those 3 to be used in many more losses than they were last season too.

 

*Of last year’s 1483 innings pitched by the Orioles, 545.1 were covered by the bullpen. That’s 36.6%.

Of this year’s 385 innings pitched by the Orioles, the pen has covered 142.1. That’s 36.9%, or not much of a difference.

If there is a difference it’s that 60 of the Orioles bullpen innings last season were in extra frames. That’s 11%. This year 6 of the pen’s innings have been in extras. That’s just 4%.

In innings 1-9, the bullpen covered 34% in 2012 and is covering 37% of those innings in 2013.

 

All of this makes Buck Showalter’s decision to pull Freddy Garcia after just 66 pitches on Monday that much more curious as it led to 5 relievers and 76 pitches to cover innings 7-10.

 

For all of the talk of which Orioles the Orioles could least afford to lose, Matusz, Johnson and O’Day should probably be on the list ahead of Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis or anyone else. More concerning it seems only a matter of time before one or more of these guys’ workloads cost them their health,

 

Last but not least, while no one is Mariano Rivera, it’s kind of interesting that baseball’s greatest closer has only pitched in 70 or more games 3 times in his career. In 2001 Rivera pitched 71 times and famously blew the World Series against the Diamondbacks. In 2004 her pitched in 74 games and then blew 3 post-season saves. And in 2005 he pitched 71 times and had 2 appearances in an unremarkable post season.

 

If the great Mariano was made mortal in seasons with 70 or more appearances, how much of Jim Johnson’s post-season struggles could we attribute to overuse? What might happen on his way to 81 appearances this season?

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Drew’s Morning Dish – Thurs., April 4

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Drew’s Morning Dish – Thurs., April 4

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Drew Forrester

Oh, I think it’s setting up to be a nice, looooooooooong summer in the Bronx.

I realize, after 14 years of watching our own brand of dreadful, smelly baseball, that we probably should be the last people on earth to make fun of someone else’s baseball misfortunes.

We wouldn’t want to do anything to aggravate the baseball gods, right?

Well, eff the baseball gods, that’s what I say.

They couldn’t possibly do anything worse to us here in Baltimore than they did to us from 1998 through 2011.

So, please join me this morning in LOL’ing (out loud, even) at the Yankees.

They’re 0-2, looking like they might be 8-20 in the not too distant future.

Here’s what I think has a good chance of happening — they get off to a horrible start in New York.  By the end of May, they’re 17-30 and going nowhere fast.  Someone in the division, maybe the Orioles, gets off to a nice 29-19 start.  The Yankees open up the copy of USA Today that gets slipped under their door at the Seattle Wyndham on June 7 and see themselves at the bottom of the A.L. East, some 13.5 games behind the first place team.

Suddenly, like that scene from Caddyshack when Rodney Dangerfield takes one off the elbow after an errant tee shot hits the ball washer, C.C. Sabathia says, “Oh, my arm…”

That’s code word for:  ”Aww, what the hell.  We’re 13.5 games out.  This team stinks.  Half the club is either on crutches or Tylenol with codeine.  I’ll just pack it in now and save myself for 2014.”

And then, the great collapse begins.

This just might be the year where the Yankees resemble the Beatles and finally turn into pumpkins despite all of that so-called talent they have.

You know what they say about dreamers, right?

They dream big.

—————————————————————–

So, Auburn was paying some of their football players and fudging grades to make sure their stars remained eligible?

And all along I thought Cam Newton and his Dad were on the up and up.

Damn…

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What do you a call a team of overpaid players who aren’t playing up to their capabilities and are on the verge of not making the post-season?

I mean, besides calling them “the Flyers”, what do you call that team?

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Brendon Ayanbadejo was a useful football player, but one, like most of the Ravens who have moved on this spring, that will easily be replaced.

No offense to him, but being a really good “special teams player” is like being a really good custodian.  Some people are born to paint the walls, some people are born to scrub them.

In sports, there are piano players and piano movers.

Ayanbadejo:  good player, REALLY good man — but a piano mover.  Anyone with a good back and big arms can move a piano.

Anyone who runs fast and doesn’t mind contact can play special teams.

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Martin Erat might turn out to be a good pick-up for the Caps.  Yes, he’s 31.  His career calendar has probably just flipped over to October.  I see the stats: he only has four goals this season.  But he knows how to create offense and scoring chances.  I’ve watched the Caps enough over the last two months to say this with confidence:  They need better players at virtually every position.  They’re not all that good offensively.  And he plays offense.  And, in case you haven’t noticed, the Capitals aren’t very good on defense, either.  So, why not just try and outscore the other team?

I don’t know all the nooks and crannies about this Forsberg character they gave up, but I do know this much:  He has as many goals in the NHL as you, me and Teddy from Hangover II.

Oh, “but Drew, he’s a #1 draft pick…”  Yeah, so was Jeff Schultz of the Caps.

Prospects are just that.  Like Jay-Z says, “You know why they call a project a project? –  ’cuz it’s a project.”

They call prospects, prospects, because — well, you get it.  They’re great when they’re playing “overseas” or they score gobs of goals in the minors…then they show up in the NHL and all the sudden their skills go bye-bye and they can’t do jack-squat.

Erat’s been a pretty decent player for a while now.  Unlike the Forsberg kid, the “prospect”, Erat has done it in the NHL.

They could have done worse at the deadline…that’s all I’m saying.

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Poor Gio Gonzalez.

You’ve heard of him, of course.  He’s an outstanding pitcher of the Washington Nationals.

He was – inappropriately, of course – connected with the “Biogenesis” story over the off-season where a bunch of major leaguers were somehow (somehow) linked to performance enhancing drugs.

Gio was outraged that his name was linked.

In case you missed it, he hit a home run yesterday.

I can think of better ways to get the whispers to subside, GG.

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Friendly wager of the day:  The Astros get no-hit before Memorial Day.

Watch and see…

 

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Bring Out Your Dead

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Bring Out Your Dead

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Inspired by the scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where the body cart is being pushed through the city during the plague as the mortician cries “Bring Out Your Dead”. As one man ambitiously tries to deliver a not quite dead elderly man to the cart hilarity ensues. Here’s a look at who’s being (or has been) written off for dead in the sports world, and what the final prognosis might be.

“I’m Not Dead Yet” – Despite reports to the contrary these guys are not dead yet, but may have one foot in the proverbial grave and another on a banana peel.

 

Cam Newton – Superman has become the Super-Sulker but he’s not dead yet, not by a long shot. Still there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Newton’s post-loss body language has been unbearable. We can all appreciate that the kid wants to win, but he’ll have to do some growing up before he can become a leader of men. Cam took everyone (including himself) to task in the wake of the Panthers most recent defeat, but mostly seemed to point fingers at his offensive coordinator. Newton is looking for a game plan that authors blowouts but will sooner or later have to learn that life in the NFL doesn’t work that way. In 3 of his 5 losses this season, Cam has had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game in the final 5 minutes. If he intends to be the star he’s being cast as, he’ll need to get comfortable in those situations. It’d also help if Newton stopped shaking off teammates’ efforts to celebrate TDs with him while clearing out space to do his ridiculous Superman dance.

 

 

Cam Cameron – Sticking with Cams, reports of the demise of Cam Cameron might be a byproduct of Ravens fans wishes more than anything else. In the wake of the Ravens most recent disappointment against the Houston Texans however, another long and introspective look at this offense might be long overdue. Cameron was “under fire” by owner Steve Bisciotti last season and managed to survive. There’s no reason to believe the Ravens will make a change before seasons end, but in the event that it doesn’t end in the Super Bowl, this season could very likely be Cameron’s last.

 

Maurice Jones-Drew – Remember MJD calling out Jay Cutler a couple of seasons ago for surrendering during the playoffs due to an MCL injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and didn’t require surgery. Last week in a game the Jaguars lost in overtime to a less than spectacular Oakland Raiders squad, MJD watched from the sidelines while nursing a foot injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and that apparently won’t require surgery. This on the heels of his extended and controversial holdout from training camp while trying to earn a new contract or force a trade won’t buy Jones-Drew much empathy as he watches from the sidelines for the next couple of weeks at least.

 

Lance Armstrong – Maybe the Lance Armstrong fiasco will give us a long overdue chance to examine ourselves. He lorded over a sport that was rampant with doping and drug use, and while he adamantly proclaimed being above it throughout his once storied and undeniably dominant career. Now having given up the fight and having been stripped of all of his career accolades Armstrong also finds that those who rode his coattails to success and fortune aren’t set to stand by him in the hard times. It’s still impossible to ignore all of the good that Armstrong has done in his career, and it seems only a matter of time before he’ll inevitably bounce back in the court of public opinion…but it doesn’t look like it’ll be terribly easy, or any time soon for that matter.

 

Dirk Nowitzki – Just as the world was ready to close the book on the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki he surprised everyone and cemented that legacy by winning an NBA championship. He backed it up however by showing up for a lockout shortened NBA season the following year out of shape, and now looks ready to miss at least the first few weeks of this season as he recovers from ankle surgery. It may now be safe to close the book on Nowitzki’s NBA legacy. It appears he got that title just in the nick of time.

 

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Pay-Rod, Payroll & a Yankees Bailout

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Pay-Rod, Payroll & a Yankees Bailout

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

When assessing the 20 questions that the Orioles must answer as they formulate their own plan for 2013 and beyond, one of the questions I posed was whether the top end of the AL East was leveling a bit or coming back to the pack. It seems a question worth asking, as the Red Sox, fresh off the heels of their 2011 season ending meltdown followed it up with an even more disappointing season in 2012. As a result of their misfortunes the Sox were willing and able to dump over $100 million worth of future payroll commitments on the suddenly viable Dodgers. In freeing themselves of those contracts, Boston was also forced to part company with a debatable (or arguable) amount of elite talent. It seemingly stands to reason that the Red Sox would be willing and able to put that now freed up money back to use, if and when the situation calls for it; but considering the numbers of prospects that the Sox dealt to bring some of that highly priced talent into the fold in the first place, it might be quite a while before they’re able to put back together a nucleus that a few big splash signings might successfully compliment.

The case of the Yankees was more curious still, because of the lingering and long-term commitments that they already have assigned to aging stars moving forward. The Yankees, having paid better than 90% of all luxury tax payments in the history of MLB’s luxury tax era, have stated a commitment (or at the very least a concerted desire) to get themselves below the echelon of having to pay luxury taxes in the years to come. It seemed like a difficult position to believe, considering the decisions they’ll have to make on stars whose contracts are expiring in the next year or so, including Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. Despite Cano’s struggles this postseason, he remains one of the most prolific hitters in all of MLB and arguably the Yankees best offensive talent. Getting themselves below the luxury cap would seemingly suggest a need to allow Cano and others to walk by 2014.

 

Before we begin however, to celebrate the Yankees’ struggles and what appears to be their unceremonious demise, before we can revel in the meltdown of Alex Rodriguez in these playoffs and the 5 years and $114 million plus commitment that the Yankees still have to him we’re already seemingly getting the signal that Rodriguez career in the Bronx might be coming to an end. Of course Rodriguez’ full no trade protection will be a factor in whether or not he’s traded this off-season, but speculation is already rampant that A-Rod may be set to follow the likes of LeBron James and take his talents to South Beach.

 

On the surface this would seem to be more Yankees folly worthy of celebration from fans elsewhere, but in reality it may be a glimpse into exactly what the Yankees mean when they talk about slashing salary.

 

The Yankees after all are baseball’s undisputed revenue kings. In stating their desire to avoid baseball’s luxury tax many of us may have been guilty of misreading their intentions. The Yankees’ desire to cut payroll seems less an effort to save themselves inordinate expenditures in an attempt to buy another decade or so worth of contention and more of an effort to avoid paying into a system that rewards the teams unable (or more aptly unwilling) to spend freely and an effort to stop padding the pockets of owners who never put their luxury tax earnings to work in actually trying to improve their clubs.

 

When the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka after posting a record posting fee of over $51 million then coupling it with a $52 million contract, many looked at it as $103 million plus in expenditures (and they were right). But not all $103 million expenditures are created equally. The $51 million that Boston paid to post for Matsuzaka was money spent but not salary, Therefore only about half of the $103 million spent to land the gyro-baller was considered payroll and therefore subject to the luxury tax computations. Likewise if the Yankees ship A-Rod to the Marlins this off-season and even if they absorb as much as $100 million of his future earnings to do it, they’ll still have unburdened themselves from about $30 million per year of salary and as a result will have moved much closer to their stated goal of establishing a payroll below the luxury tax echelon, even if they take on Heath Bell and 2 years worth of his contract at $9 million or so per.

 

The long and short of it being that the Yankees will have the opportunity to shed “payroll” obligations and avoid luxury tax while still spending like the Yankees always have and perhaps more. One or two more of those types of trades (albeit on much more modest contracts) and the Yankees have the money at their disposal to re-up Cano and Granderson if they choose along with Raphael Soriano and could still make a splash in free agency while also accomplishing their goal of avoiding the luxury tax by 2014.

 

The other questions that both the Yankees and Red Sox will have to answer for themselves is which free agent players will be worth the price of poker in the coming free agent classes, and whether it’s still prudent to offer big money to aging free agents in the post steroid era of MLB. Figuring out the answers to those questions will be the biggest determining factor in whether the Yankees and Red Sox will be able to exert their financial dominance over the pack moving forward. But in the event that they choose to try, the means to do so are there, as are the financial means of both clubs despite rampant speculation to the contrary.

 

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

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McLouth appreciative of opportunity and fans in ALDS run

Posted on 18 October 2012 by Ryan Chell

Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth would have never imagined having people telling him “Thank You” at the end of the 2012 season after manager Buck Showalter and GM Dan Duquette gave the 30-year old cast-off another opportunity at the big leagues.

But it turns out, McLouth happened to be one of the reasons why the Baltimore Orioles were able to end their stretch of 15 consecutive losing seasons and a lack of baseball being played in October, and he saw that appreciation come his way in masses.

McLouth, who was signed by the Orioles to a minor league deal on June 5th and eventually found his way to the big league club on August 3rd, jumped right in to the Baltimore lineup and played at a high level and provided a spark for manager Buck Showalter in the stretch run of the regular season.

In 55 games in the regular season, McLouth hit .268 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs. He had a .342 OBP and his slugging percentage reached .435.

Those were numbers that McLouth had not really seen consistently since 2008 when he made the All-Star team as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That presence was even more important after right fielder and leadoff man Nick Markakis broke his wrist in early September from a CC Sabathia pitch, and McLouth-who had already been written off by his two previous teams in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, was called upon by Showalter to stabilize the offense.

McLouth not only proved the doubters wrong, but was the Orioles hottest bat in their ALDS set with the New York Yankees and admitted to Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday the weekend after their playoff run ended-that he had a lot of fun along the way.

“That’s what you play for,” McLouth said. ”It was as fun of time as you can have playing baseball.   I know a lot of people-probably everybody-didn’t expect this team to be where we were coming down there in September.  That may have made it even more fun.  But once we got there, we expected to be there.  It was exciting; it was a lot of fun.”

McLouth had two RBIs in the Orioles 5-1 Wild Card win over the Texas Rangers, and in the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he went hit .318 with one home run and 3 RBIs from the leadoff spot.

It was just a continued sense of added confidence for McLouth to be playing at that high of a level again on that big of a stage.

“I knew that I still had some good baseball left in me, and I still do.  It was so nice to have that opportunity, and to be able to take advantage of it.”

McLouth said that the whole process was made much easier when his manager, Buck Showalter, trusted in his skills as gave him the green light to go out and make plays on his own.

“Buck let me do my thing on the bases, in the outfield, at the plate, it was great. After struggling for a couple years it was really, really difficult, but it was like a breath of fresh air.  I couldn’t have had a better time.”

Unfortunately, McLouth-who had playoff experience with the Braves in 2010 NLDS-had no control over the rest of his teammates’ bats going cold against the Yankees, and the season sadly came to an end.

But as McLouth can attest to-the game of baseball can be a roller coaster ride sometimes.

“In that series at Camden Yards in September, we swung the bats pretty well, facing a lot of the same pitchers,” McLouth said. “Unfortunately, that’s how baseball works sometimes. That also goes to show you how hard baseball is…they got a couple more hits than we did.”

McLouth said losing last Friday night stinks and that bad taste in his mouth still lingers, but ultimately he knows both he and his teammates will be able to look at it from a much broader perspective.

“I don’t think it has still hasn’t hit yet, but I think it will. I don’t care if you’re expected to be there or not, it stinks losing,” McLouth told Clark. “I’m sure once the sting wears off a little bit here, we will be able to be happy about what we accomplished this year.”

And ultimately, McLouth said he’s going to use days like Friday and Saturday to better motivate himself toward doing more in 2013 next season for the Baltimore Orioles should he be given that opportunity.

It’s something he hasn’t felt in quite some time.

“Usually the last day of the season, if you’re not going to the playoffs, it’s one of the best days of the year,” McLouth admitted. You know you have some time off coming ahead of you- some time to rest.”

“But after losing on Friday, it was an awful feeling, it was empty, and it was terrible. I think all of us wanted to keep going, and that’s going to drive me personally in the offseason going into next season.”

But that’s a situation that is again out of McLouth’s control.

The 30-year old McLouth had signed a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract to play this season for the Orioles, and with the healthy returns of outfielders Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, you have to wonder if there is a spot and at-bats for McLouth on this roster.

McLouth said he will focus on coming back strong in 2013, and hopes that it’s back in Orange and Black because Charm City really grew on him.

“I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Baltimore- everything about it,” McLouth said with a little emotion. “The people in that organization are awesome, I love my teammates. I like living in there in Baltimore-living down in the Harbor area. I really enjoyed playing here and I would enjoy to be back.”

McLouth said that seeing Oriole Park in Camden Yards filled to the brink in August, September, and October was one of the most exciting things he’s experienced in his lifetime, and he said the fans deserved what they did more than ever.

“I played in Baltimore I think twice as a visiting player, once with Pittsburgh, once with Atlanta, I think in ’08 and ’09. It was obviously a beautiful stadium but didn’t have much of excitement, which is normal for a team that hasn’t won in a long time. To see the way that stadium coming down the stretch in September, but especially those two playoff games was incredible.”

“As the playoffs were more of a real possibility and a likely possibility, you could feel that building every series and even every game really. I am so happy the fans got to experience that, to get a taste of that.”

And as much as McLouth has said thank you to Peter Angelos, Dan Duquette, and Buck Showalter over the last several months for giving him another shot at being a big league ball player, the last several weeks he has received as many words of appreciation from the thousands of Orioles fans who paid to see him rebound.

“When we got back on Friday night after we lost, I think there was 500-600 fans in that parking lot waiting for us. I think the most common thing I heard, even walking around Baltimore, was ‘Thank You,’ thank you for bringing baseball back to Baltimore and giving us some excitement.”

“Those first two playoff games, it was like they let out 15 years of frustration. You could just feel it, it was insane; it was the atmosphere and those are two games I’ll never forget.”

WNST thanks Nate McLouth for joining us! To hear the entire interview, check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net!

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Have you been nervous watching these Orioles games?  I haven’t…

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Have you been nervous watching these Orioles games? I haven’t…

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

I’ve found a way to handle the stress and nail-biting nature of this Orioles-Yankees series.

I have to admit I started doing this about midway through Game 1 on Sunday night.  I wasn’t able to attend the game due to a previous golf-tournament-obligation, so when I got home from Philadelphia shortly after 7pm, I settled in and watched the rain delay for a while until the game started.  I wasn’t at all certain how I’d deal with this shocking playoff appearance by the Orioles.  Would I be nervous?  (I was)  Would I be like a 20-year old again, hopping around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose when the Birds did something big?  (Probably)

Sometime around the 4th inning of Game 1, I figured it out.

I started treating the at-bats, innings, ups, downs and the results just like Buck Showalter treats them.

In other words, now I just watch the events that transpire on the field and try to disconnect myself from all it as much as possible.

My expression never changes during the game, just like Buck.  I didn’t even get mad on Thursday night when the popcorn burned in the microwave in the 3rd inning.  I thought to myself, “What would Buck do here?”  So I just shrugged my shoulders, threw the burned popcorn away, and tossed in another bag.

On the field, I don’t let stuff get to me now.  When Lew Ford got picked off of first base, I didn’t flip out.  I just ate more popcorn, just like Buck would do.

I can’t do anything about any of the stuff going on between the lines.  No sense in getting pissed off when Mark Reynolds swings at another ball in the dirt or Adam Jones reaches across the plate and slashes at a pitch a Little Leaguer wouldn’t touch.

I’ve just been watching.

That’s it.

Hell, during Game 4 on Thursday night, I flipped over to the VP debate and watched those two nitwits ramble on about nothing for five minutes or so.  The only good news about the VP debate? Neither of them are running for President.  Those two guys make the two running for the top office look like Rhodes Scholars.

And do you know what happened in the five minutes of Game 4 that I missed?  Nothing.  It was still 1-1.  It’s like Earl Weaver going back to the dugout to sneak a smoke in the 1970′s.  The game’s still there when you get back.

I took out the trash during the 7th inning and stopped to chat with a neighbor for a minute or two.  I imagine if the trash needed to be taken out at Yankee Stadium (you can insert your own A-Rod joke here), Buck wouldn’t hesitate to say, “I’ll do it” and then he’d skip out for a minute or two and leave the team to manage itself.

When the Yankees had base runners all over the place, I wasn’t nervous.  I was just like Buck.  I watched it all and said to myself, “I’ll accept whatever happens here.”  And nothing ever happened.

I haven’t thrown anything at the TV once during this series.  When Raul Ibanez hit that HR in the 12th inning on Wednesday night, he wasn’t even at home plate when the room was dark and my head was on the pillow.

Nothing has bothered me at all in this series, just like nothing has bothered Buck. I love the winning, don’t get me wrong.  It sure as hell would be cool for Baltimore to come alive next week with a couple of home games in the – wait for it – AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES vs. the Tigers.  I’m reveling in this October theater like everyone else in town.

But if the Orioles don’t win tonight, I’ll get up tomorrow morning and go play golf at Mountain Branch and life will go on.

Just like it will for Buck Showalter.

And that’s what I’ve learned from Buck this week that’s made it a lot easier for me to watch these games.

Whatever happens, happens.

It’s fun to watch it that way.

And a lot easier on the nerves.

 

 

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