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Friday, January 02, 2009
We continue our slow holiday schedule (sorry, the kids ain't lettin' me sit at the computer all day) with a note from the hot stove league. Seems that Manny and the Giants may be up to something. Via BTF:
The San Francisco Giants are pursuing free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez and have offered him a four-year deal, a well-connected source told CBS 5.
Probable translation of that last quote: Boras has created this stuff from whole cloth in an effort to pressure the Dodgers. If so, I'd like to see Sabean come out in a press conference and say that this is utter bunk, and that he believes it is Scott Boras trying to play Ned Colletti or whoever else and that he won't be a part of it.
All that said, I hope it is true and that a deal happens. I'd kind of like to see Manny on the Giants if for no other reason that I like baseball better when the Giants are interesting for some reason.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:54am
Saturday, January 03, 2009
I sometimes pick up comments from threads that are a couple of days old and give them their own post so more people can see them. I don't have a name for this little featurette, however. "Comment of the Day" is kind of bland and often not accurate given that the comment may have happened yesterday or the day before. If anyone has any good ideas, fire away.
Anyway, here's a notable comment from reader Bob Rittner re: the first day or two of the MLB Network (note: I don't get it where I live, so I'm taking his assessment at face value). After commenting on Costas, Bob writes:
Unfortunately, the rest of what I have seen on the new network has been less satisfactory appealing again to the lowest common denominator rather than using its platform to raise the level of discussion. The “in the moments” pieces are typical fluff, more hagiography than history and with no real effort at analysis.
Clearly the network if entitled to a lot more time before judgment can be passed. Still, the point about "blazers and blonds" is worth thinking about. Obviously the MLB Network wants to run programming that the masses will like. I do hope, however, that they find a little room for something a bit different and maybe more challenging.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:15am
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I sometimes write reviews of sports books for the New York Post. Today is one of those times. It's for a book about the Super Bowl called The Billion Dollar Game. Though the word limit and the editorial requirement that I include a lot of quotes keeps me from, you know, really talking about the book that much, know that I liked it a lot. If you're at all interested in behind the scenes Super Bowl stuff, it's well worth a look.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:39am
Monday, January 05, 2009
The holidays dipped me in scotch, shook me around in a bowl of Chex mix, sprinkled me liberally over a bunch of college football games, and have now spit me out into 2009 with no direction, no mooring, and no frame of reference. It's Monday, I guess, but because of the vicissitudes of this godforsaken economy, I find myself without a day job, so it may as well be May 16, 1979. Though part of me -- the part that doesn't think much about eating and making ends meet -- hopes this state of affairs will go on forever, a handful of purpose-driven phone calls, lunches, and emails gives me a strong reason to believe that it is temporary.
The upshot of all of this is a career hiccup large enough to cause me to feel anxiety and smell freedom, but not large enough to allow that anxiety to mellow into reason and reflection and that smell of freedom to mature to an actual taste. The worst of both worlds, really. On the bright side, I'm not shaving this morning no matter what you say. And I'm taking extra time to read this stuff:
Things may be slightly weird around here until my employment situation works itself out, as I'm going to be Mr. Mom for a while. On the one hand, watching and playing with my kids takes less time than legal work does, so you may think that I'll be increasing posting frequency. On the other hand, hanging out with my kids is far more enjoyable than the legal work, so there's reason to believe that my productivity may suffer as well. Ultimately, however, I think it's going to be a wash in terms of volume and insight while the schedule itself changes a tad. With the luxury of the post-lunch office lull no longer at my disposal, I may post more in the evenings. Then again, maybe not.
All I can say for certain is that if I'm not immediately on top of the story about Joe Shlabotnik signing a multi-year deal with the Mudville Nine the minute it happens, well, that's just how the world is going to work for a bit. The kids have to get dropped off at preschool and they have to eat their lunch, and I'm the one doing the dropping and spreading the peanut butter. Probably doesn't matter, though, because from what I understand, all of you young hipsters are reading the feeds these days as opposed to constantly hitting "refresh" while waiting for me to update, thus rendering the time of a given post meaningless.
This will conclude the meta-content of today's broadcast.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:26am
There was talk last summer that the baseball facility built for the Olympics would help spur development of baseball in China, maybe even one day helping to make the land of billions a real source of talent for the bigs. Now it seems like the only development it will spur is that of an Orange Julius, a Gap, and an Auntie Annie's pretzel joint:
Hopes that Beijing's Olympic baseball venue would be preserved for the future development of the sport in China have been dashed as the stadium's developer revealed it would be dismantled and replaced by a shopping mall.
Hey, can't blame them. According to the article, the place has generated no income. Given the state of the global economy, I don't think there would be much opposition to them bulldozing Wrigley Field, the Hall of Fame, and Mickey Mantle's restaurant right now if they promised some jobs out of the deal.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 7:00am
MLB.com has a profile on Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera's eventual Hall of Fame chances. Straight forward enough, but this stuck out:
"Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Famer, in my opinion," Commissioner Bud Selig once said. "So is Mariano Rivera. Look, Yogi Berra once said, 'If you ain't got relief pitching, you ain't got nothing.' So where in my mind do you think Trevor Hoffman figures? Relief pitchers are critical."
Call me crazy, but that does not sound like something Yogi Berra would have said. Rather, it sounds like one of those things people like to say that Yogi Berra said. A regular, boring statement Yogi-fied by the use of the word "ain't" and a double negative.
A few searches reveal nothing of that phrase other than Selig's use of it in this article. Your assignment, super sleuths: find me a single example of Berra saying something like that. If we can't find it, I'm going to assume this is an example of Selig hiding behind a phony quote of someone else, unable to make a solitary stand on even the most uncontroversial of issues.
UPDATE: We have at least one other source attributing that to Yogi (see the comments). If that holds up, I'll stand corrected and offer my sincerest apology to Mr. Selig. Still, it's not like there's a law that you have to have Berra backup to say something like Rivera and Hoffman are Hall of Famers.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 7:30am
Here's a story from Saturday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the relationship between the Foley & Lardner law firm and Major League Baseball:
Mary K. Braza, the head of the sports industry team at the Foley & Lardner law firm, has a nice view of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan from her office at the U.S. Bank Center.
Foley does everything for baseball, and I'm assuming it's a pretty good client for Ms. Braza to have. This interested me, though:
Foley was, in fact, a key player in the Mitchell Report, baseball's defining document on the use of performance-enhancing substances. The report, produced by former Sen. George Mitchell and which came out a year ago, was Selig's effort to lay out the problems of baseball and performance-enhancing substances.
That's funny. My copy of the Mitchell Report says "DLA Piper" on the front page, which is George Mitchell's law firm. You'd think that they'd at least get a proper-name shoutout here. You'd also think that, given how political and superficial a document the Mitchell Report truly was, people would be running away from it as opposed to trying to take credit. Unless of course the pitch is "Hire us! We'll whitewash your business' problems so thoroughly that people will forget they ever happened!" You laugh, but there's a lot of money in that line of work.
That aside, this reads like a sales brochure for Foley. Or for any other large firm, really. My experience working for such places tells me, however, that whenever lawyers talk to you about how they'll "think proactively" for you and serve as "facilitators" it really means that they'll continue billing you at a healthy clip when there aren't any deals on the table and there isn't much pending litigation. Personally speaking? I'd rather hire smart salaried people in-house to, in Braza's words, "think about the next thing I have coming down the road" and have my expensive, outside, hourly lawyers on stand-by for bigger problems.
It's always a buyer's market for legal services as long as you at least try to approach it as such. The days where you can just hire the biggest firm in town and delegate all of your thinking to them like Major League Baseball seems to have done with Foley is a thing of the past.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:00am
Someone has taken the trouble to calculate the tax revenue to the State of New York by virtue of the big salaries being handed out to Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett, as well as existing obligations to Jeter and A-Rod:
Here's another way to add revenues to the hard-pressed state treasury: have pro games played in New York by high-priced athletes. To that end, the New York Yankees are likely to help add a few million dollars a year in personal income taxes from the salaries it will be paying to just four of its players.
All told, that's $3 million in tax revenue from those guys. If they all relocated to New York on a permanent basis, it would be $7 million.
Question for New Yorkers: is there sales tax on fast food there? If so, they're going to need to recalculate to account for Sabathia.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 9:30am
I'm a cat person, and as such, I don't like to hear about anyone's cat dying -- not even George Bush's. That said, it's pretty spiffy that he named his cat after Ruben Sierra.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 10:13am
Richard Justice tries to get his mind around Andruw Jones falling off a cliff:
Whatever the reason, Andruw Jones is one of the real strange stories in sports because few players have fallen so far so fast.
Nothing wrong with the Justice piece. I just think that he and others who have written about Jones have dwelled on his weight and alleged lack of desire a bit more than is warranted and have discounted his injuries by the same amount. As others have noted, Jones changed his swing pretty dramatically prior to his power surge of 2005. Jones' dropoff in 2007 had a lot to do with nagging injuries that prevented him from really loading up like he had in 2005 and 2006, and by the end of that season, he looked completely lost and unable to adjust. Yes, the inability to adjust -- even to go back to his pre-2005 swing -- could very well be a sign of loss of focus or desire, but to suggest that Jones' trainwreck of a 2008 was all in his head or because he lost all of his talent or something is to overstate things.
As for his legacy? I think he had a chance to make the Hall of Fame if he had enjoyed a nice slow decline that tracked what you typically see from good players. No, he was never spectacular, but because he started so young, the counting stats following such a decline would have looked good (500 home runs, perhaps). Once you looked at his defense, that package would have made him a Hall of Famer in many people's eyes.
Falling off a cliff like he has? No chance, of course. He's toast, and maybe even off the ballot after year one. As a guy who has always liked Andruw Jones, I find this pretty sad.
UPDATE: Even sadder.
(link via Neate Sager, routed through Pete Toms. No, I don't understand Canadians either).
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:03pm