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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Remember last year when Jeter was being coy about what keepsake he was going to take from Yankee Stadium? Harvey Araton has the goods:
Derek Jeter came clean Wednesday night. He pilfered the Joe DiMaggio sign, as I suspected.
Look, I know he's the Cap'n and all of that, but why does he get the sign? If it was a fixture of the stadium, doesn't it belong to the city? If it belongs to the team, hasn't he done to the Yankees what Ruben Rivera did to him? Either way, isn't that sign pretty valuable and, you know, not his?
One hopes that either an invoice or a large charitable donation with Jeter's name on it comes to pass pretty soon.
A good reminder that when the Ricketts start talking about renovating Wrigley Field, there is probably one or two right ways to do it and a thousand wrong ways:
When Sam Zell floated a plan for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to buy Wrigley Field in a transaction separate from the Cubs, the talk was that the grandstand would basically be stripped down to the girders, with new seating and luxury boxes installed. That ambitious plan carried a price tag of $650 million and would force the Cubs to play at least one season at U.S. Cellular Field . . .
There are obvious things to avoid in any renovation -- see what they did to Soldier Field as an example -- but there are probably a million different ways to screw things up. So while Cubs fans should welcome the Ricketts family and be encouraged about their professed love for Wrigley Field, any and all plans should be scrutinized and feet held to the fire in order to ensure that, in the process of upgrading the old place, the wonderful things about Wrigley remain wonderful.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
I've had about as much fun with the Joe Torre book as anyone, but this is profoundly stupid:
The Yankees are considering including a "non-disparagement clause" in future player and managerial contracts in order to prevent any more tell-all books such as "The Yankee Years," co-written by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci.
There's a big difference between confidentiality regarding trade secrets and proprietary information on the one hand and a simple "don't say bad things about us after you're gone" requirement on the other. The former is necessary to keep a going concern going. The latter is simple P.R. control and the stifling of free expression. Which, because the Yankees aren't the government is legal of course, but which is a dumb move all the same.
Why? Because The very existence of non-disparagement clauses -- assuming they're public, as any involving the Yankees now would be -- would do more to harm the team than help it. It sends a signal to the public that the team has more embarrassing secrets to hide than whatever it is Torre is going on about, and will lead to more uninformed, lurid speculation among the fans and the press than already exists. Torre's book may not be popular with the Yankees' brass right now, but in many ways it constitutes a necessary blood-letting. If he and the 1995-present Yankees were gagged for life, all manner of gossip and innuendo would go unchecked. Instead of that blood-letting you'd get death by a thousand anonymous cuts.
Even worse is that the existence of non-disparagement clauses often serve to magnify, rather than minimize the damage some bad press can cause. Let's say five years from now Jorge Posada is speaking at a luncheon and makes some intemperate remark about Derek Jeter's personal hygiene. As it stands today, there would probably be a brief blurb about it in the New York tabloids, and then it would go away and join all of the other fun junk in Yankees' history. If Posada was subject to a non-disparagement clause, however, the Yankees would have to sue for damages. This would serve to magnify the issue of Derek Jeter's hygiene by a factor of about a billion, because now the matter would have to be litigated. It would also place the team in the unenviable position of going after a guy who is a minor hero in the minds of Yankees fans. And if you say "no, the Yankees would never sue Posada," than what's the bloody point of having a non-disparagement clause anyway?
Also, let us not discount the chilling effect such a clause would have on potential future Yankees. Sure, at some point player X is going to sign with New York if there is enough money on the table, but what of players Y and Z? Maybe Y and Z fancy a future in broadcasting. How would FOX or ESPN feel about hiring Y or Z if they knew beforehand that they'd never be able to share stories about their Yankees days lest they be sued for disparaging the ballclub? If I were them I'd pass on Y and Z and hire the ex-Met instead.
Finally, let us remember that if the Yankees had non-disparagement clauses in the 60s, we never would have had Ball Four, so that's reason enough to be against the idea.
If I were Brian Cashman, the Steinbrenners, Alex Rodriguez or Johnny Damon, I'd be pretty steamed at Joe Torre this week. I'd have the sense to realize, however, that the best way to fight bad press is to either ignore it or to fight it with good press as opposed to litigating the matter or stifling the speech of my future teammates and coworkers.
The best revenge is living well, New York. Let Torre have his week of publicity, and then go out and win 100 games and the World Series without him. Then, in a couple of years, write a book speculating why Joe Torre couldn't win a World Series for the final seven years at the helm.
If the case against Barry Bonds was as good as everyone says it is, why are the feds scorching the Earth in order to try and get the testimony of someone they've know ain't talking for years?
FBI and IRS agents raided the home of Greg Anderson’s mother-in-law Wednesday in what Anderson’s attorney said was a tactic to ratchet up the pressure on his client to testify for the government in the upcoming Barry Bonds perjury trial. Mark Geragos, Anderson’s attorney, said 20 IRS and FBI agents raided the Redwood City, Calif., home of Madeleine Gestas, the mother of Greg Anderson’s wife . . .
Bonds did steroids. I think he probably also lied about it. That doesn't change the fact that the way in which the feds have handled this case represents a serious misallocation of scarce prosecutorial resources at best, an abuse of prosecutorial power at worst.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler has a rip-roarer of a column today about the imminent collision between the Hall of Fame and steroids:
I heard a local radio talker say he's sure Kent was never a juicer because Kent isn't that kind of guy. This radio talker is being grossly underutilized. With such psychic intuition and character judgment, he should be chief justice of the United States.
Yes, Ostler is clearly trying to stir the pot, but the implication that Steve Garvey and Maury wills are Hall of Fame worthy notwithstanding, it's some pretty good stirring. Indeed, he's is the first big paper columnist I can recall make the very obvious point that the BBWAA are and will continue to very obviously pass steroid judgment in a willy-nilly fashion, holding rumors of PED use against some, ignoring hard evidence against others, and when uncertain, using a "I just liked the cut of his jib" approach.
(thanks to Neate Sager for the heads up)
You think I read this stuff because it constitutes excellent writing and analysis. The truth is that I'm writing a scathing tell-all book called "ShysterBall: The Hardball Times Years" and I need to know everything about Studeman, Treder, Brattain and the others before I throw them under the bus.
So, you think anyone would want to read this thing?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The latest Torre stuff: Johnny Damon's lack of heart in 2007 brought players to tears or something:
Interesting stuff on Pages 394 and 395 about Johnny Damon's physical and emotional struggles early in the 2007 season, when a leg injury sapped him of his enthusiasm and he began to annoy old-guard Yankees.
The tears seem a bit much. Tell me: when you're complaining about someone behind their back and trying to get them fired, aren't you more angry than tearful? Wait, you don't plot against your co-workers like that? Well pardon me, your majesty.
Anyway, here is a list of the people who are probably happy with the Joe Torre book: Joe Torre, Tom Verducci, The Doubleday Publishing Group, column writers, bloggers, talk radio hosts and Joe Girardi, who will no longer have to compete with the fiction that Torre inspired some preternatural calm and good chemistry in the Yankee clubhouse which he cannot replicate.
And here is a list of the people who are probably not very happy with the Joe Torre book: Every Yankee player who joined the team after 2000, the Yankee front office and, in all likelihood, every player on the current Los Angeles Dodgers roster who can now expect to be thrown under the bus by their boss when the sequel implied by the title of this book is inevitably written.
I'm going to read this book. I'll probably like a lot of it because it appears to cover a lot of stuff we've never heard before. I still can't fathom, however, why Joe Torre wrote this book, at least while he's still in the game.
The offseason does crazy things to people. Hope springs eternal and that's great and all, but there's a fine line between hope and delusion. Example: last summer the Mets probably couldn't have paid anyone to take Aaron Heilman off their hands, yet this winter, not one, but two teams have traded for him.
This isn't just a Heilman thing. It happens a lot. Some Joe Palooka is almost run out of town on a rail in August, and the next winter some GM thinks, "ya know, if I can get a Palooka and somehow sign a couple of live arms, we might just be able to do something." Of course no one has ever explained to me what a "live arm" is. Regression to the mean notwithstanding, I don't know why such thinking prevails every year.
Whatever the case, thinking that someone looks better through the hazy shade of winter is close enough to a similar phenomenon that I'm going to dub it "snow goggling."
Unfortunately, he won't be playing first base:
Will Clark, who remains one of the club's most popular players since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958, is expected to be named to the Giants' front-office staff on Wednesday.
As the article notes, the Giants are really good about keeping their history in the fold, as the team employs Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and others in various capacities. I'm not sure to what extent other teams do this -- I know the Tigers do -- but whether these guys are doing actual front office work like Nolan Ryan or if they're simply making public appearances like McCovey, keeping these connections strong can only be a good thing.
As for Clark, while I know he has some baggage, I've always loved the guy. Great swing. Just carried himself like I always thought a Ballplayer should. I had a serious flirtation with Giants fandom in the late 80s, and he had an awful lot to do with it. Well, him and Jeffrey Leonard. Forgive me: I'm not that big on team chemistry.
With all apologies to my THT colleagues, Razzball -- a most excellent fantasy site, by the way -- has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that FanGraphs is the most powerful stat site on the planet. Why? Because they have apparently brought Cory Lidle back from the dead and have a 2009 Marcel projection up for him.
Worst part: He'd probably constitute an improvement over the fifth starter/swingman a half-dozen teams will be trotting out this season.