With the Yang-Mills existence problem seemingly solved…we now move on to the Heyman existence problem. Or something.
And sometimes there isn’t much you can do. I wrote what I did about Hawk Harrelson and The Will To Win because at some point, you have to come to the conclusion that someone isn’t worth talking to anymore. Hawk’s problem wasn’t that he was wrong, it was that he was stuck in a frame of mind that starts from conclusions and will, when it cares to, circle back around to find some evidence to support it. And that, in insisting on perfection from sabermetrics but not from his worldview, Hawk was simply not engaging with the questions in an intellectually honest way.
But I get the sense that people are viewing Heyman in much the same light. And I think this is dangerous, for several reasons. One, I think he’s being honest in his questions. I admit this is the weakest point of my argument (because I can’t really know his intent), but it’s also the least relevant, and it’s also the weakest part of the opposing case (because anyone else can’t really know his intent). Two, I think his question is useful to consider even if it’s not meant in a sense of honest inquiry, and that we do ourselves a disservice if we ignore useful questions just because of where they came from.
And I think we have to beware of the idea of sabermetric tribalism, that there’s an “us” and a “them” and that we are right and they are wrong. “We” are going to end up being wrong some of the time, and “they” are going to end up being right some of the time (and sometimes all of us will be wrong). Treating the search for truth as a set of rooting interests diminishes it; if you want to cheer for something to win, cheer for a baseball team, not a way of studying baseball. At the same time, we shouldn’t shy away from internal disputes in order to avoid handing ammunition to outsiders. Yes, someone who isn’t looking at sabermetrics as a scientific process can misinterpret and misrepresent internal dissent. But avoiding treating sabermetrics as a scientific process as a result is not a defense but a surrender.
...This low-rent knockoff Fire Joe Morgan nonsense has to stop. It is well past time for us to stop letting the default mode of communication between baseball researchers and baseball reporters be the one established by sitcom writers. Science involves competing hypotheses, attempts to duplicate each other’s work, and debates that gel into consensus because the weight of evidence eventually becomes too great to ignore. But that kind of healthy debate is increasingly missing from our field.
So the enemy isn’t them. The enemy is us. We are the ones establishing what sabermetrics will be for this generation and the next, and we seem to be increasingly doing it by abandoning our principles in pursuit of popularity. Each day, new questions are piling up about our purported ability to measure fielding, and we show less and less of an interest in answering them. And in the process, we’re committing some of the same sins we’re so quick to point out in others.
“I think it’s a cheap shot and uncalled for to say something like that without having some sort of evidence to back it up,” Bautista said Friday in the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park. “Comments and articles like that is what sometimes makes us wonder what’s the true intention of somebody that’s in the media. It blows my mind that somebody would just go out there and do something like that, and write an article where you’re kind of insinuating, borderline accusing somebody of doing something and you don’t have any evidence to back it up.”
...Still, that’s no guarantee the game is clean.
“You can talk and question, but you can’t write an article that millions of people read insinuating the fact that he might be doing it, that’s not OK,” Bautista said. “If that would affect some player’s value or leverage against some sort of endorsement deal negotiation or contract negotiation, where does the line cross where it becomes damaging? That person might be liable for it.
“I’m not saying (Ortiz) should go out there and sue this guy, but some people in the media need to be more careful when they choose their words. Or if they’re going to say something, then back it up with some sort of evidence.”
...“This person is not only insulting David Ortiz, but is also undermining MLB’s credibility to have a strict steroid policy and a performance-enhancing drug system in place,” Bautista said. “You’re making a comment like that, he’s probably doing something illegal, so you’re saying our testing system doesn’t work and it sucks?
“And other players in their 40s shouldn’t be playing baseball, either? I can throw a number of names of Major League Baseball players that were successful in their 40s, what does that mean? There are guys in their teens playing, how do you explain that? Baseball is not only a game about physical ability, there’s no way in your teens you’re a mature hitter, that at the MLB level you can make the adjustments consistently that are necessary to play 162 games and enjoy sustainable success. But guys do it. Are you going to question that, too?
“To me, he’s just trying to ruffle the feathers and get a kick out of it. That’s what I think.”
So it wasn’t the 7.96 ERA over his last three seasons that made Mitch Williams retire. It was the fun factor! #tommyrot
This team I did pick to win the AL West because I thought the additions of Josh Hamilton and Jason Vargas would help them because they are both low-key players who would fit in to the Angels clubhouse — which I have since found out from a player who has since left was not a very cohesive clubhouse. And it shows on the field.
Harold Reynolds pointed out one specific play that demonstrated this point perfectly. Albert Pujols was coming in for a pop-up and it bounced out of his glove. The catcher, Chris Iannetta, was there to catch it. There was no excitement on their faces, no laughing, nothing. This game is supposed to be fun. The minute you play the game just for the paycheck, it’s time to go home.
I can speak from personal experience on this. I always said that when the game felt like a job, I would retire. Because your ability won’t shine through. I retired at 32 because I wasn’t having fun anymore.
Mitch Williams appeared on 94.1 WIP this morning and ripped into Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, saying the Phillies need a new man for the job.
He said Roy Halladay‘s problems were a simple mechanical fix that Dubee simply could not find. He mentioned an encounter he had with Dubee in Spring Training, when Dubee yelled at him for trying to talk to his pitchers, although he claimed that did not make his criticism this morning personal. Williams, the former Phillies closer who currently is an analyst for MLB Network, also said he showed Kyle Kendrick his current change up grip, which has brought him great success. Kendrick denied that. It’s been well known Kendrick gives credit to former pitcher Justin Lehr, who learned the grip from Tim Hudson.
“He didn’t like the fact that I spoke with his pitchers at all about anything,” Williams told Angelo Cataldi. “It may be time for a new voice.”
Halladay answered back before tonight’s game at Citizens Bank Park.
“Coming from the mechanical wonder,” Halladay said. “Yeah, I strong disagree. To come from a guy who’s not around, who’s not involved. He’s not involved in the conversations … honestly has no idea what’s going on. He really doesn’t. He has no idea what’s going on in the clubhouse, on the field between coaches and players. To make comments like that, it’s completely out of line. It really is….
...“I’ve heard him criticize a lot of guys for mechanics,” Halladay said. “For a guy who’s never been a pitching coach, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t go and look at any player in the Major Leagues and say, well, he should do it this way. I just don’t understand where that comes from. I really don’t. Former players, there were guys that had certain success doing it certain ways. There’s no one way to do things. To think that you know the one way to do it is a little bit arrogant. … What matters is your success and how guys get it done. It’s not mechanical. It’s a matter of confidence. There’s a lot of things that go into it. I really just feel he’s wrong on this one. I’m sure he’s not a bad guy. I’m sure he’s trying to do the best he can at his job, but I really feel like he was kind of off the mark on this one.”
I don’t know if Jay Bruce regrets the tweet he sent out after the game Tuesday night. Reds media relations director Rob Butcher declined to ask Bruce if he’d speak to me, from St. Louis early Wednesday. I’m guessing Bruce isn’t happy with himself. He’s not a confrontational guy. He’s very pleasant, almost all the time. It was out of character for him to tweet this:
I appreciate all the tweets, good and bad, actually. You guys are what drive the game. I’m obviously not hitting as well as I’d like to, yet. I actually feel sorry for the people on here who feel that it’s necessary to try and put me down on twitter. It really just explains further who you are, and there are obviously things in your life that you’re unhappy about and you take it out on me via twitter..I suggest you look into talking with a life coach or something to help you get over whatever you have going on in your life. There is obviously a lack of something going on, and I hope you guys get it straightened out, because you all sound like idiots Everyone have a good night. Haha
It doesn’t matter that Bruce’s generalization isn’t entirely off point. It shouldn’t be irrelevant that his retort is warranted. It is, though. It is irrelevant. The so-called “social media’’ are made for jocks, who don’t want to deal with media heathens. They can say what they want, and to whom. It’s an a la carte presentation of who they’d like their fans to believe they are.
Social media are also a bomb waiting to go off. One detonated in St. Louis Tuesday, right in Jay Bruce’s fingertips.
...They’re perfect for people who want to release their Inner Snark, with absolutely no consequences. Not every Twit is a guy in mom’s basement, with a laptop, an opinion and a bag of Cheetos. It just seems that way. At least a website such as Deadspin, which prides itself on snark and distance, uses bylines.
If you are Jay Bruce, you shouldn’t be reading tweets, not when you spent April hitting just one home run and had a league-leading 40 strikeouts. It’s a little like a 5-year-old playing with matches.
The thought goes like this: When a network pays huge money for a sports team’s TV rights, it hikes its carriage fee for cable providers. The best regional sports networks (RSNs) cost upward of $3 a month for cable and satellite providers to provide to each household. With monthly TV bills already exorbitant and more options to provide entertainment, from Netflix to Hulu and beyond, consumers could rebel against the single-payment system and choose what they view a la carte. One executive who has negotiated TV deals worries that the sport will find itself embroiled in litigation and needing an entirely new method of distribution to cater to the on-demand generation.
“It’s not just local. It’s national,” the executive said. “The amount of rights being paid are getting passed to consumers. I’m worried there is going to be a bubble. It seems like there’s a lot of money going out. We don’t want to be dependent on the bulk of our revenue coming through local rights-fee deals.”
...Because as long as the current model works – and we’re too early into the post-rights-fee explosion to judge whether it can succeed across smaller platforms as it has for the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox – it will be copied, plagiarized and Ctrl-C’d across the landscape. Already the …
1. Philadelphia Phillies are whetting their appetite over what could be when their deal with Comcast expires at the end of 2015. It’s easy to see why.
Comcast is a Philadelphia-based company. It does not want to lose the rights of the team that from 2009-11 ranked among the three highest local baseball broadcasts. Problem is, Fox Sports, which has scooped up local rights to about half of baseball, wants to further its grip on the sport in anticipation of Fox Sports 1, the all-day sports channel expected to launch in August.
“And they want Philadelphia,” one source with knowledge of Fox’s plans said. “They got the Yankees [by buying a share of the YES Network], which helps. They’re not going to have the Red Sox. They’re not going to have the Mets. They want another East Coast team.”
Here we sit on April 25th and there are three aces who have yet to record a win for their teams: Matt Cain for the Giants, Cole Hamels for the Phillies and 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price.
If I could have made a wager on this happening, can you imagine the odds I could have gotten? At least a million to one. But here we are, all three pitchers without a win.
Not only are all three without a win, but their teams have lost all 15 combined games the trio has started. Hamels is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA, Cain is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA and Price is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA. They only have seven decisions between them, but the fact remains that their teams have not won a single game that their Opening Day starters have pitched. Consider that Stephen Strasburg is 1-4, and you have four teams that were supposed to at least compete — and in the Nats’ case, be the class of the NL.
If you look closely at their starts, they have been all that bad. Other than Strasburg, who has an ERA in the low 3s, the other three have elevated ERAs, but they have all pitched well enough to win some games. Those four pitchers’ teams being 1-19 in their starts is hard to fathom.
...As bad as it has gone for all four of these guys, I will still take the bet that they will all end up over .500 and all reach double digits in wins by the end of the year. So please, guys. Get back to being yourselves. I don’t want to look stupid!
As an autism awareness advocate and parent of a child on the spectrum, Garfinkel’s comments struck a nerve. Being a caregiver to one with autism is hard enough. Having an exec make the comment, and having the season-ticket holders laugh was rubbing salt in the wound. “Rain Man,” of course, was an autistic savant. April is International Autism Awareness month. And the day before the brawl was Autism Awareness day at PETCO Park. It added up, and the seething turned into a boil.
As I have done on occasion when I’m going to write a scathing column, I reach out to the VP of Media Relations at MLB. “Be prepared, I’m going to rip this guy a new one,” was the message. I called Garfinkel out on Twitter, demanded an apology for all of us in the autism community, and in a sign I had completely lost all professionalism and objectivity, called him an “asshat”.
I had seen Garfinkel’s comments as just another exec that was out of touch. I immediately erred on the side of someone that was in a position of power and would use that to avoid accountability.
I was wrong.
For the rest of the day, I got message after message from Garfinkel apologizing. As we went back and forth he talked of his kids and how our story had hit him, not as an exec that made a gaffe in front of the press, but as a father.
That’s the bold claim advanced last week by Michael Brendan Dougherty, who just took a step away from political writing to found a baseball newsletter (news-email?) called “The Slurve” [http://www.theslurve.com/], and who gives a great interview about the decision here. His case that baseball is peaking acknowledges the sport’s various difficulties (the Hall of Fame’s steroid problems, the pace of games, the Florida Marlins), but then follows with this:
But overall the sport has never been better. The league has achieved a wonderful balance of parity and dynastic success, feeding just enough hope to smaller-market teams and just enough resentment of larger, perennially competitive ones. Most of the league’s ballparks have been updated in the last 20 years, and on the whole they are better than the stadiums that preceded them, less claustrophobic, better staffed, safer, and, yes, more expensive.
And for all the faults of the league office, the sport has effected a revolution in how we find the sport. Online watching allows fans to see every out-of-market game on their computers or on television. The league has opened up the data about itself available to the nerds. You now can quantify the movement of every pitch thrown.
Advanced statistical analysis has given us greater depth of insight into the players and the franchises themselves. But at the same time we don’t have to be intimidated by the spreadsheets.
Some self-designated “old school” writers like Murray Chass complain that the new stat freaks think the game is simply a clash of abstracted probabilities. But the geek view of the game has not penetrated the experience of the ballpark or even the way the game is portrayed on television. During a televised game, we’re not told a player’s VORP—his Value Over Replacement Player—which would add nothing to the narrative drama of a televised game. But we’re still informed of his batting average, giving us a sense of what is about to happen. The fan’s experience of baseball has not become an embodied math problem. It is still a game of leather, ash bats, cleats. It remains an athletic endeavor. We just understand it better.
On Former ESPN Broadcast Partner Joe Morgan: “I can’t presume to speak for Joe, but I think he definitely feels statistical analysis has its place. He works with Walt Jocketty now; he’s a consultant with the Reds. Walt picks his brain and Joe tells him what he thinks, based on his experience. Walt has his number-crunchers as well.
“Making up a roster based on numbers, or a decision based simply on the numbers, is where Joe disagrees. I remember talking about that with him around the time Moneyball came out. We were in Oakland and the A’s had picked up Ray Durham for the stretch run. It was a winner-take-all game in the Division Series, in the Coliseum.
“I would always kind of prod Joe. I always want the guy to run, or least would say that on the air. Instead of asking Joe a question, I’d say, ‘If I’m the manager, I’m sending him.’ Then Joe could say whether he thought it was a good idea or not. In this case, Durham was on base early in the game.
“Joe made the point that this game was different. You can take statistics over the full course of the season — the benefits and downside of attempting to steal — but with an ace pitcher on the mound it was bound to be a tight game. For the A’s to plant the seed that their guys with speed were going to run, and you better be mindful of it, could be important. It could serve as an added distraction to the pitcher.
“I think a lot of people misunderstand that the numbers themselves — those formulas — are generally based on the season being 162 games. To take one game in October, and manage it based on those numbers, is where Joe would have a disagreement.
...Joe’s era wasn’t about statistics. It was about what kind of heart you had. There are no statistics for that. That’s where Joe started out, and he was told by scouts, to his face — this is when he was in school — ‘You have no future in this game. You need to go into another line of work.’ Joe took that challenge. It inspired the competitor in him.
“Joe understands there are moments in games where you want certain guys on the mound, or at the plate. There are other guys you’re probably better off having up there in any other situation. That’s the whole package with Joe. Many of the people who criticize him could learn a lot from Joe. It would make them even better analysts.”
Robinson Cano today fired his agent, Scott Boras, and signed up to become the first client of Roc Nation Sports, the Jay-Z-branded arm of Creative Artists Agency. Does this mean much? It’s not as though Memphis Bleek’ll be handling Cano’s negotiations for a new contract—he’ll be represented instead by Brodie Van Wagenen, who has brokered extensions for Ryans Braun, Zimmerman, and Howard. If anything, the move appears to be good news for the Yankees.
Your cable bill—$80 or $90, or whatever it is—is best understood as two prices. The programming (i.e. the channels you watch) and the distribution (i.e. the infrastructure and profits for the cable companies). Every time you pay a cable bill, the channels collect a small fee. It’s called an “affiliate fee.” The most in-demand channels tend to negotiate the highest fees. And those tend to be sports channels. Take a look.
By my rough calculation, if you pay $90 a month for cable, you are paying about $76 a year (about 7 percent of the total cost of cable TV) just for the NFL.
Pete Gaines, a friend of the site, said something stupid on Twitter to Chipper Jones over the weekend, and then spent most of the day day getting blasted—at Chipper’s Bieber-style behest—by both Jones and his followers. It was ugly and dumb and went on for hours, and we asked him to write about it.
Perhaps I was miffed that Jones’ mere presence happened across my Twitter timeline. I’ve heard stories over the years of Jones’ hypocrisy—that he put on a convincing aw-shucks good-ol’-Christian-boy act for the media and (some) fans, but was what students of the type call a “raging #########” the rest of the time. I’ve heard stories of bullying, hypocrisy and all the other things that might be expected of a grown-ass multimillionaire man-child who calls himself “Chipper.” Anyway, I was a dick to Chipper Jones on Twitter. That was uncool of me.
But I guess what I’m saying, after Chipper Jones went on an hours-long invective jag against me—my literacy and my jealousy, my height, my (lack of) hair, my weight, the appearance of my fiancée (a professional sportswriter, no less) and my sexuality—is this: Chipper Jones himself has done more, personally and recently, to confirm these second- and third-hand stories about him than I would ever have thought possible.
Jones has a right to respond to insults, of course. I would not begrudge the man for not taking the idle, knee-jerk insults of some Twitter smartass—me in this case, but doubtless many other smartasses in many other instances—lying down. But I might also suggest that a man in a relative position of power who trades on his Christian faith as a businessman, might refrain from calling anyone—me or you or anyone—an “ignorant, balding, overweight dumbass.” That would seem, relative to the alternative, the “Christian” thing to do, which is after all your descriptor, pal, not mine.
By those standards, Jones might also have reconsidered the suggestion that my fiancée—a former Division I wrestling team manager who writes about mixed martial arts for a living, and who found herself involved only because she appears in my AVI—“outweigh(s)” me and my beer gut; she doesn’t, although of course that doesn’t matter, really. Further congratulating his hundreds of thousands of hero-worshipping followers for busting on my personal appearance and that of my fiancée—rather than my words—also seems a decidedly un-Christian look for Tim Tebow’s business partner. When Jones congratulated his followers for going after my fiancée and me, was he particularly proud of the “your gay” insult that kept recurring? Anyway, these are rhetorical questions, and don’t really matter much; a Tweetdeck filter for “fat, bald” solved this on my end, anyway.
There’s a movement in sports and across the country to reduce or eliminate bullying. I would suggest the leaders of this movement not contact Chipper Jones to be their spokesman.
David Roth Sings Selections from The Great American Gongbook.
Since he announced earlier this week that he’d be retiring from broadcasting after this year’s World Series, the discussion about Tim McCarver—which was always and already defined by a heavy payload of “ugh, this guy”—split in two. The more generous argument holds that McCarver—a player for 21 years, and a broadcaster for an astonishing 29 postseasons—was once a more generous and less grandiose broadcaster than he is in his prickly, mannered endgame. This argument holds that McCarver was someone who understood and loved the game deeply, and expressed that right up until the moment when he stopped understanding or loving it. Depending on the observer, this could be five or ten or 15 years before McCarver realized that it was time to retire.
At which point this first argument kind of collapses into the second, which is that McCarver was always a vain and pedantic character, unforgivably given to high-fiving himself for his own crummy puns and puddle-deep insights and crustoid prejudices, and never quite interested in what people other than himself—or his notional and unloved audience, rapt as rubes before a traveling magician, albeit the sort of crummy magician whose prestige trick is predicting which pitch would be thrown when—might have taken from a given game.
The first way of seeing McCarver involves viewing him as a brilliant baseball mind who allowed the game to pass him by, more or less on purpose and more or less to prove some cranky and ill-defined point about… well, whatever it was about, you kids should get off his lawn. The second way of seeing McCarver is that he’s just something of a vain jerk, full stop. It says something about McCarver that both of those arguments feel correct enough, to an extent. But neither one of them says quite enough about Tim McCarver, who spent 50 years in baseball without ever quite becoming anything greater or more endearing than himself. It’s funny how much of that last sentence—more or less a condemnation, if read from front to back—looks like praise.
...McCarver played 21 years in the Majors, and was teammates with both Stan Musial and Mike Schmidt; he was the personal catcher for Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. In 1966, McCarver led the National League in triples; he’ll almost certainly be the last catcher to do that. As a member of a St. Louis world championship team the next year, McCarver put up an OPS+ of 136, which was better than Lou Brock, Roger Maris or Curt Flood managed that year, and better in fact than everyone else in the lineup except Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda.
It’s a shame, in a way, that McCarver would almost certainly sniff at that latter achievement. He’s as entitled as anyone else to be skeptical or confused by a stat like OPS+—I like the stat and find it telling, but I’m not sure I could calculate it myself if given a supercomputer, some strong coffee and, say, seven years. If McCarver is not quite as flamboyantly, aggressively retrograde as Joe Morgan—his peer during their playing days, and perhaps the only baseball color commentator who evokes a similar revulsion—it often seems as if it’s only because he isn’t quite interested enough. Morgan, who was an advocate of uncontroversial ideas like the value of on-base percentage during his playing days, descended into grouchy self-parody at the end of his ESPN tenure; by the end, he was essentially arguing that bunts, RBI and World Series rings be the only statistics used. McCarver had no real time for stats, but more to the point he didn’t have much interest in them—he knew what he knew and he knew how to express it, and seemed serenely certain, with that certainty only increasing by the year, that this was more than enough.
Didn’t Bob Gamere mention WHIP one time and get into all sorts of trouble?
Orel Hershiser, an analyst on “Sunday Night Baseball,” contended that “it’s easier to bring the stat to the broadcast if it’s a formula that everybody understands.”
“All of us on this call listening to my voice right now, nobody can tell me the formula for WAR,” Hershiser said. “We know what it stands for, wins above replacement, but how do you come up with a number? I think people know what an RBI is, know what a home run is, know what a walk is. Those are easy to explain. People have a huge reference point.”
By that standard, no one in a National Football League telecast should bring up quarterback rating, because no one can give you the formula for it, either. Yet NFL broadcasts routinely reference quarterback rating.
“It’s baseball and it’s an eyes test,” Hershiser said. “(Giants manager) Bruce Bochy and (Giants general manager) Brian Sabean won two out of the last three World Series. I don’t know if you can name me the WAR of any guy on their whole club. Buster Posey probably has the best one, Matt Cain, maybe Pablo Sandoval. I know those three guys are probably the core of their team.”
...Shulman said in a conference call with reporters earlier this week that he sees the value of “the new-age analytics,” as he called them, but he’s not going to hand over his call to them in part because he does not think many viewers are into those numbers.
“I think the vast majority of our audience, I bet for everybody on a Monday morning who said, ‘Do you know what Mike Trout’s WAR (wins above replacement) is?’ I bet there are 10 people who say, ‘Did you see he hit his 30th home run?’ or stole his 49th base or whatever.
“If you go back 15 years nobody was even talking about on-base percentage, that came in and then, of course, OPS came in. OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) I think is fairly common now. So things are moving. They’re just not maybe moving that the sabermetricians would like.”
There’s no way to put this delicately – it was a bad day at the Sporting News.
Sources tell me that the Sporting News fired around 12 writers/editors today, and here’s a partial list of those who were let go:
* Lisa Olson, one of the last remaining members of the AOL Fanhouse “merger”* from 2011
* Clifton Brown, formerly of the NY Times, whose most recent column and mugshot are on the front page of the Sporting News right now
* Stan McNeal, their baseball columnist whose prediction column went up today
* Matt Crossman, who wrote one of the stronger Honey Badger columns of 2012
I’m not sure of the officially tally, but I imagine a body count will trickle out by the weekend. A source mentioned the Sporting News could be looking to wipe Fanhouse off the site (it’s 9:45 pm and I don’t see Fanhouse anywhere), which would come just two years after the two clumsily became partners.
All that stuff stinks. But I could better tolerate such erosion if it didn’t coincide with the continuing loss of my heroes and personal icons. Time has taken Mickey, Cronkite, Carson, DeBusschere, Orbison and the great Bob Sheppard; Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and the Great One, Mr. Gleason; Ray Charles, Johnny Maestro and Vada Pinson. And Lou Grant, Andy Sipowicz and Big Dan Ingrahm have retired. There isn’t enough Willis Reed and Elgin Baylor to suit me. And now McCarver says he’s got one more season in him before he yanks his earpiece for the last time.
In my 5 1/2 decades of obsessive baseball monitoring, I’ve reached these conclusions about the guys in the booth—Vin Scully is the most entertaining/knowledgeable color or play-by-play man, and Tim McCarver is No. 2, not far behind. These are not unpopular views.
...But now in the same year Mariano Rivera is preparing to wrap it up, Timmy is too. And how many more times can we count on Scully saying “One more year”? The game will be diminished by the absence of any one of the three. Three of them leaving at one time is likely to cause a baseball sinkhole.
I’ve never heard enough Scully, though these days, the network folks routinely provide priceless snippets of his genius. McCarver’s years working Mets and Yankees games were treasures I was pleased to experience. He was funny, knowledgeable, objective, insightful and passionate, traits that he has brought to his network telecasts and his own syndicated show. Timmy has taken his share of measured swings at the strategies implemented by the men in the dugout. But that’s how he sees his job. And so often he is proven prescient. Whoever called him an accomplished first guesser had it right.
...If his final public words come in the last game of the next World Series, may they come in the 14th inning of the seventh game after a much-analyzed play has decided the eventual outcome. I always want as much as I can get from him.
In its report, Forbes, which has been tracking the league’s finances since 1998, revealed that the money that all teams made from the $450 million sale of the Montreal Expos in 2006 was invested in hedge funds are now worth more than $1 billion.
“The value of a team used to be about a team itself,” Forbes executive editor Michael Ozanian said in a phone interview with ESPN.com. “Then it shifted to the stadium value and then to the television deals and now it’s more about what’s not on the field at all.”
Each team also owns an equal share in MLB Advanced Media, which among other things, has generated massive revenue from its gameday video and audio app MLB At Bat, which has been the highest grossing sports app in the Apple store on the iPhone and iPad for four consecutive years. MLB Advanced Media generates more than $600 million in revenue and Forbes conservatively values the subsidiary at $6 billion.
Combine those investments with the $12.4 billion in national television revenue the clubs will receive thanks to new deals with Fox, Turner and ESPN, that run through the 2021 season, and it’s easy to see why it’s a great time to be a Major League Baseball owner.
The New York Yankees are the most valuable team for the 16th straight year. Forbes tabs the team’s value at $2.3 billion, surpassing the Dallas Cowboys($2.1 billion) for the title of the most valuable franchise in North America. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the No. 2 spot at $1.5 billion.
Ozanian said that the $2.1 billion price that Guggenheim Partners paid for the team looks to be too steep since he believes at least $1 billion of the team’s new television deal, which has been announced by not yet submitted to Major League Baseball, will go towards revenue sharing.
In the past few years, I’ve bought eighty-one leather jackets. Dozens of boots and leather gloves. I’ve purchased pants that cost $5,000. I own a $22,000 coat. This winter I took a tour of Milan’s Fashion Week (all expenses paid by Gucci, in appreciation of my many, many purchases), where I spent tens of thousands more and began to seriously grapple, once and for all, with a compulsion that could cost me more than just my life savings. My name is Buzz Bissinger. I am 58 years old, the best-selling author of ‘Friday Night Lights,’ father of three, husband. And I am a shopaholic.
I put those concerns to Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Sheriff Joe is a noisy supporter of SB 1070 and stricter deportation policies. It is a strange fate of the times that Sheriff Joe has jurisdiction over the Cactus League territory.
“Nobody’s going to go around stopping them at a restaurant, asking for their ID,” Arpaio says.
He pauses and adds, “Unless there’s some other reason to do that.”
Sheriff Joe is a Red Sox fan. Since he was raised outside Boston, he sees his continuous fandom as one more sign of his political consistency. When I reach Sheriff Joe one afternoon, he has just gotten off the DL — he fell on a sidewalk and broke his shoulder in two places. “I know how the ballplayers feel now,” he says.
“Bring those ballplayers to me,” he barks. “I’ll give ‘em a pair of pink underwear.” This is more welcoming than it sounds. For though Arpaio puts pink underwear on county inmates, he also uses it as a gift for visiting celebrities. Sarah Palin got a pair when she toured Arizona last year.
Really, Sheriff Joe wants any Latino ballplayer who fears he might be racially profiled to stop by. “I wish they’d come to my office and come out and meet the sheriff,” he says. “I’ll tell ‘em all the facts about this … We don’t stop people because they look like they’re from somewhere else. I’m an equal-opportunity guy. My guys arrest everybody.”
...To a police officer, Barajas could arouse the same “reasonable suspicion” as Elian Herrera. Barajas’s parents are Mexican immigrants; his skin is olive-colored. But he was born in Ontario, California. He’s as American as Mike Trout. I ask Barajas if he is ever worried about being asked for his papers.
“I don’t know if I should carry my birth certificate or passport. I never thought about it,” he says. “I’m sure it could happen.”
Then Barajas’s eyes narrow. “I think of myself as an American citizen. There’s no reason whatsoever for me to have to carry that around.”
Must rifle through 45 boxes for The Herd’s “Here Comes the Fool”.
“Robinson Cano plays a lot harder in those [WBC] games than he does for the Yankees,” Colin Cowherd said on his ESPN Radio show Wednesday.
I like Cowherd’s show a lot. I’m a guest on it sometimes, but I think Cowherd has it completely wrong on Cano.
Colin was making a larger point about how the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico cared more about the WBC than the United States. I agree with Colin on that one. Winning that tournament means more to those islands than it does to the United States.
But did Cano play harder for this country than he does for the Yankees? I didn’t see it. I don’t see it.
I think Cano plays hard most of the time. With a larger amount of games for his country, there would be times where the same lapses we see on occasion in the Bronx would pop up. Cano has great pride in his country, but also in his pinstripes.
Manny Acta, the second manager in Nationals history from 2007 to 2009, will join ESPN as an in-studio baseball analyst in English and Spanish. Acta will debut Sunday night on Baseball Tonight, the cable network’s baseball show. He will be a frequent voice on baseball across several of the network’s English and Spanish language shows and programming — but he still hopes one day to return to the dugout as a manager.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to step back from the game for a little while and take this challenge,” he said in a telephone interview with The Post. “It’s allowing me the opportunity to stay in the game and look at it from a different angle. It comes at a perfect time for me. My daughter is a senior in high school and I get to spend this last year with her. It was a good time.”
Alex Cora, a veteran infielder who last played in the majors with the Nationals in 2011, also joins ESPN and ESPN Deportes as a baseball analyst. Both will make their debut Sunday night at 7 p.m. on Baseball Tonight previewing the World Baseball Classic game between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Just when you thought ESPN was the only network out there trotting out an endless array of debate shows, this trailer for a new MLB Network show popped up during the World Baseball Classic… and I’ve lost all faith in humanity.
Head to head, it’s “MLB Now” starring Brian Kenny vs. Honking Harold Reynolds. [trying the embed]