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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Vin Scully tells a story about Torii Hunter’s dad and a crack pipe (Video)

You could give the same background information about a player to 10 different broadcasters, and Scully would just be able to make it sound so much better than the others. And even when he’s telling a story about crack pipes, he still makes it sound great.

During the Los Angeles Dodgers-Detroit Tigers game on Tuesday, Scully was talking about Torii Hunter and told a story about Hunter’s father being a crack addict. The story went that Hunter’s father wore his son’s jacket and left a crack pipe in the pocket, and the pipe fell out of the pocket in a classroom after Torii wore the jacket to school. But the way Scully tells it … man, he is just so good.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2014 at 05:19 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Monday, April 07, 2014

Steinberg: Braves announcers on Bryce Harper

Announcers think Harper is kicky!

If my math is correct, the Braves and Nats have played three times this season. And in all three of the Atlanta broadcasts on Fox Sports South, the Braves announcers managed to take cracks at Bryce Harper.

I didn’t watch the entire Atlanta broadcasts — just segments, after fans highlighted individual cracks. I can’t promise this is a comprehensive cataloging.

...First, Caray and Joe Simpson discussed Harper’s offseason during an early-game at-bat, while showing a photo of him with his UFC belt.

“In the offseason Bryce Harper made it a point to let the world know about his offseason conditioning program,” Caray said. “He really hit the weight room in preparation for this 2014 season. Maybe he was looking more like an NFL linebacker.”

“I don’t know why young guys think that more muscles mean more power,” Simpson said. “That’s almost a clown move, bro. Long line of guys who think that muscles equal more power, and not necessarily so. You can make a phone call to Jeff Francoeur and see how that affected him. Jeff thought that beefing up to about 230 would help him hit more homers, and it did not. In fact it had an opposite effect….[Harper’s] such a gifted baseball player, can do so many things well. Any team would love to have him on their ballclub. You just would hate to see him somehow affect what comes naturally to him and how strong he already was before he worked out, or did whatever he did this winter.”

Later, Harper struck out again.

“How concerned are you about Harper now? Ten strikeouts in his first 21 at-bats. I know it’s early, but….” Caray began.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Simpson laughed.

“Let me rephrase that: How concerned do you think the Nats are?” Caray asked.

“I would think that they’d want to revisit that workout program,” Simpson said.

Repoz Posted: April 07, 2014 at 06:06 PM | 70 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, media, nats

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Francesa delivers screeching anti-paternity-leave rant

Francesspool: Asleep at the mic…asleep at the wheel.

Mike Francesa isn’t a big fan of paternity leave.

The WFAN radio host blasted Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the team’s first two games to be with his wife, Victoria, in Florida for the birth of their son, Noah, who was born Monday.

MLB rules allow a player to take three days away from the team on paternity leave, but Francesa believes they should never take the time.

“You’re a major-league baseball player. You can hire a nurse,’’ he said on his Wednesday show. “Whaddya gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?”

Murphy will be back with the Mets for Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals at Citi Field, but Francesa was under the impression he was going to be gone for 10 days.

“First of all, the first two days, your wife is in the hospital anyway, you’re there with her,’’ he said. “And the baby’s in the hospital. So you’re not taking the baby home usually till the third day. You think the third day that Daniel Murphy’s going to be in charge of nursing that baby the third day? … That’s my point. He’s not there to take care of the other kids, he’s not there to nurse the baby.”

Repoz Posted: April 03, 2014 at 05:15 PM | 454 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Friday, March 28, 2014

Craig Calcaterra: On journalists with access to the clubhouse vs. journalists who don’t.

A positive, constructive meeting in which Puig came away saying all the right things about wanting to be a better player and a good teammate and a manager saying that it’s all good and that everyone is heading in the right direction. No teammates, on the record or off, are saying they have continuing problems with Puig. It’s a sourced and reported story of a team nipping a problem in the bud.

But this all happened on Tuesday. Before Bill Plaschke wrote a column in which Puig was a cancer and all of the same things about Puig being receptive and Mattingly saying there are no issues between the team and Puig were spun as things that were negative and not to be believed. Likewise, my Twitter correspondents — the ones who told me that I must listen to and believe the people who live in and report from that clubhouse rather than think I know better — were essentially dismissive of it too. No, Puig’s a jerk, they say. He’s bad news for that team.

Why is it that all of us have to believe what the reporters and people on the team have to say and the reporters themselves do not? And why do those folks get to assert their superior authority — I’ve been there, I know, you haven’t, you don’t! — and totally dismiss the actual statements of the principals involved? It’s almost as if it’s someone besides me “telling people how it is” without any basis for doing so.

In any event: until someone wants to actually report and explain what they assert is so obvious — Yasiel Puig is a big a-hole who is hated by his teammates and that dynamic has harmed the Dodgers — I’m going to choose to believe what Don Mattingly and the Dodgers say about the situation. And here’s what they’re saying about the situation:

“It was good for everybody. Donnie just wanted to squash this, and it did,” one veteran, who asked not to be named, told ESPN.com.

Puig said he understood his teammates “wanted to help me get better” and encouraged them to approach him directly anytime they had something to say to him.

“Puig’s a good kid. He just didn’t come up through the system like we all did,” a veteran teammate said.

Afterward, Mattingly addressed the media and said of Puig, “We’re good. I’ve got no issues with Yasiel.”

I assume this will be dismissed by the Plaschkes and Joneses of the world as mere PR, spin, etc. Which, sure, happens a lot. But if it is, tell us why it is. Report something which gives us a reason to believe that everyone here is lying and that, in reality, Puig is still a malignant force who is going to bring the Dodgers down. Don’t merely assert it and expect us to believe you.

Tripon Posted: March 28, 2014 at 12:42 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, media

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Neil Best: A trip to Mike FrancesaLand

I don’t like Sabermetrics. I like Inge…a lot.

It still was early on another day he would spend entertaining, informing and frequently maddening metropolitan-area sports fans, a job he has been at for a quarter-century during which he has become an iconic New York lightning rod.

Francesa is fine with that.

“The one good thing is nobody has ignored me,” he said. “You don’t have to have them love you. You don’t have to have them hate you. You just have to have them want to listen to you no matter what.

“I have people say to me, ‘I never miss you. You drive me crazy.’ I say, ‘You know what? That’s music to my ears.’ “

...An entire cabinet is filled with books on the former president. “I know more about John F. Kennedy than I do about the New York Yankees,” Francesa said.

...Such self-deprecating humor is not his specialty. He admitted that it would have served him in September 2012 when he famously appeared to doze off on the air.

“When it exploded, it exploded with such ferocity that I wasn’t sure how to react,” he said. “It was like trying to catch a tiger by the tail. That thing got bigger than anything I’ve ever dealt with before.”

The previous fall, Francesa opened himself up to ridicule with a convoluted explanation for seeming not to be familiar with Tigers relief pitcher Al Alburquerque during the ALDS against the Yankees.

Francesa acknowledged he did not handle the situation well, mostly because he was frustrated with himself.

“I make so few [mistakes] compared to other people and I’m on so much longer and cover so much more stuff than people, but I know I’m going to be and should be held to a higher standard,” he said.

“I’m supposed to be the standard. I understand that. I have the biggest show, get paid the most money . . . If I do something like that, I’m mad at myself and say to myself: You know what, I didn’t work hard enough.”

Repoz Posted: March 16, 2014 at 07:57 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: media, yankees

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hardball Times: Learning the Language of the Clubhouse

What I’d been looking for was some insight into the ideal ground-ball rate for a hitter. The Royals were hitting the most ground balls in the league, and I thought it might be affecting their power. Since I knew Eric Hosmer was the one behind me laughing at me, I thought I’d be the adult. I asked Butler about ground balls, but I motioned at Hosmer (I see you there): “I was asking Eric about this, but are ground balls and fly balls something you think about when you get up to the plate?”

“I think about putting the barrel on the ball.”

The peanut gallery exploded. “He gets paid to put the barrel on the ball, you guys get paid to think about fly balls and ground balls,” offers Hosmer clearly on the tape. Which wouldn’t be so bad, he’s right. But as I finished up the interview — Butler was great, he admitted that he looked for the low ball, since the pitcher was trying to throw it there anyway, something I found very interesting in terms of game theory — there was a hum behind me that threatened to take away my concentration.

I didn’t know who exactly was talking, but the tone of the stream and the intent was clear: “we get paid to put barrels on balls man, what the f— is this guy talking about, walk rates, ground-ball rates, barrels dude, barrels, what’s up with this hair, must be because he’s Greek, yeah or blind, these are some stupid questions, man, I’ve never heard anything like this, dude needs to shut up, bothering us about ground-ball rates man, barrels, dude, barrels, nut sacks more like.” The interview with Butler had been getting better, but there was one last emphatic statement from the trio behind me before they exited: “This guy’s the f—ing worst.”


Levin: Why Rick Reilly couldn’t survive in the era of Bill Simmons and Nate Silver.

Rick Reilly checked out years ago. Now, he’s finally leaving. Reilly had it first on Twitter: The columnist will write his last story for ESPN.com on June 30 and will then transition to crafting soft-focus features for various Bristol TV properties. As Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch points out, the mothballing of Reilly’s word processor will allow ESPN.com to reshape its home page, giving Nate Silver and the new FiveThirtyEight.com a prime promotional slot alongside Bill Simmons and Grantland. As Silver rises, Reilly disappears—there can be no better symbol of the triumph of modern journalism over the worst habits of the old-school press.

Reilly probably should have quit in 2009, when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. If not then, he should have quit that other time in 2009 when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. If not then, he should have quit in 2011 when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old SI pieces. And if not then, he should have quit this February when Deadspin caught him copying riffs from one of his old ESPN pieces. In that last one, a regurgitated brain dump on boring golf celebrations, Reilly copied and pasted such stale-the-first-time zingers as “I’d go absolutely electro-shock, three-alarm, bat-guano nuts!” and “I’d pick up the flagstick and fire it like a Tommy gun at the crowd.” In his defense, Reilly did change “If this were football, the guy would be doing the electric chicken right in front of the other team’s bench” to the timelier “If this was the NFL, he’d be twerking in front of the other team’s bench!”

...Reilly’s problem isn’t that he’s so often wrong or that saying something “was the biggest L.A. surprise since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child” isn’t nearly as funny as he thinks it is. It’s that his column reads as if it’s been airlifted to the Web from the Los Angeles Times, circa 1984—that it feels constricted and pat in an age when online writing tends to the discursive and enthusiastic. The one big thing that Reilly’s missing is precisely what’s made Nate Silver and Bill Simmons so successful: passion for his subject.

Whatever you think of Simmons, you can’t doubt his love of sports or sportswriting. Silver’s pieces are full of a different kind of ardor, the obsessive zeal of someone on a quest to right the wrongs of mainstream punditry. Reilly’s columns, by contrast, read like stifled yawns. The columnist has his interests (Elway, Tiger), but he can’t replicate the Sports Guy’s day-to-day investment in who’s going to win the NBA title.

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: March 13, 2014 at 04:14 PM | 62 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Friday, March 07, 2014

Finn: Fox’s decision to hire Harold Reynolds is uninspired

Sometimes you feel so uninspired
Sometimes you feel like you’ve been hired

But this is about Reynolds, who has served as an affable if rarely insightful studio analyst at MLB Network since its launch in 2009. To be blunt: Fox Sports made a less-than-inspired choice to replace McCarver, and it’s disappointing given the prominence of the position.

Reynolds willfully disregards the statistical advances in baseball to traffic in hagiography, myth-making, and archaic thinking. He’ll argue without a second thought that the win, a misleading stat, is the greatest measure of a pitcher’s value. He’ll attribute intangibles to a player when his actual value doesn’t equal the media’s gritty-gutty-scrappy perception of him. He will not criticize management, and he’ll over-praise certain players so much that you may start recalling McCarver’s particular adorations as restrained and subtle.

Fox Sports, which prides itself on being the fun and innovative foil to ESPN, missed a golden chance to be the latter here, though at least Reynolds suggested he has an open mind during a conference call Monday.

“I broadcast every day in this current realm where sabermetrics can’t be denied or ignored, and so it’s a compelling conversation whether you’re on one side or the other,’’ he said. “There’s a place in the conversation for it in baseball, no doubt.

“If there’s a window open to do it, I think we’re well-versed enough to discuss it. I got my training from Brian Kenny [his sabermetric-bent foil on MLB] last year. Every day he threw a different metric at me that I had to go back and study.

“The main thing is, if you ignore it, you’re not current, and we’re current with all these guys in the booth.”

Repoz Posted: March 07, 2014 at 07:02 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics

Thursday, March 06, 2014

OtM: Don Orsillo takes batting practice, is predictably awkward

As Howard Cosell once said when a camera shot showed Chuck Tanner picking his nose…“Not a pretty sight.”

Don Orsillo is a wonderful announcer. For my proverbial money, he’s one of the best in the baseball, and I’m continually shocked he hasn’t moved on from NESN and the Red Sox to a more high-profile, permanent national gig. It’s good that he hasn’t, though, because now we have this Vine of Orsillo taking batting practice down at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers…

...He looks like he’s dressed for golf, not the batting cages—I’m suddenly glad polo shirts are not part of any team’s uniform—but hey, he’s got a wooden bat, made contact on multiple offerings, and even sent a few of them into play. Plus, he’s got the frustrated grunt necessary to be a big-league slugger down to a science already.

Repoz Posted: March 06, 2014 at 02:25 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: media, red sox

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Leitch: Reynolds and Verducci bring new voices to FOX MLB broadcasts

The Reynolds Effect…a dimensionless quantity? We shall see.

Reynolds and Verducci seem chosen specifically to erase all lingering McCarverism. First off, each of them are 20 years younger than McCarver; Reynolds is 53, Verducci 47. They at least carry the aura of youth—they’re youthish—which will come in handy in making people forget McCarver. They’re also both very likable guys who are new enough in the business that they’ve shown they’re willing to adjust and change depending on what’s asked of them. McCarver (and Packer) couldn’t have changed if you’d given them a brain transplant; they were resolutely themselves, no matter what circumstances were in front of them. Reynolds and Verducci are a couple of guys who can take direction.

Neither is on the forefront of anything. Reynolds is rather far behind the times when it comes to advanced baseball analysis and the resources that front offices in the game value; Watching him “debate” Brian Kenny about pitcher wins last year was embarrassing to anyone who has even passing familiarity with how baseball analytics have evolved in the last 30 years.

And Verducci, for a professional sportswriter, is strangely behind the times when it comes to advanced analysis, not just clinging to his resoundingly disproven Verducci Effect, but even lamenting the Joey Votto-ization of baseball. (You sense sometimes that Verducci is trying to show players and network TV types that, don’t worry, he’s not one of those writers.)

But then again: Expecting a booth of Kenny, Keith Law and Joe Sheehan, as much as I might enjoy that, was never realistic. (And would almost certainly make every one of my baseball-loving uncles’ heads explode.) One shouldn’t underestimate the likability thing, particularly when it comes to Reynolds. Whatever your thoughts about Reynolds as an analyst—and his breakdown of why the infield fly rule call in the 2012 wild-card game was actually the correct one is pretty much perfect baseball television —it is basically impossible not to like Harold Reynolds. Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug. Even when I don’t agree with what he’s saying, even when I don’t understand what he’s saying, I find myself helpless: You can’t get mad at Harold Reynolds.

Repoz Posted: March 01, 2014 at 02:57 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics

Friday, February 28, 2014

Fox, FS1 bring out-of-market streaming, new timeslots to MLB in 2014

A table of scheduled games and chart of teams by appearance is included in the article.

While Fox will still provide 12 regional split broadcasts in 2014, Fox Sports 1 will air a majority of the baseball. FS1 will air at least a game (and, in 10 weeks, a doubleheader) every Saturday of the season, plus a couple of midweek features. Fox will join for eight weeks of primetime coverage from May until July and then jump back in for the September pennant chase.

FS1 will also necessitate the return of Fox’s baseball studio coverage to Los Angeles, after a three-year stint in Secaucus, NJ with the MLB Network gang. It appears that Fox Sports Live anchor Ryan Field will host the new pregame show (which will air 30 minutes prior to FS1 going on the air), though Fox would not comment on the matter. One would think Fox Sports Live breakout star Gabe Kapler and recent hire Frank Thomas might play a role.

Greg Franklin Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:37 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: fox, fs1, media, mlb network, online, television

WaPo: Why we’re actually mad at ruthless ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant Arthur Chu

Paging Snapper…

Chu’s strategy wasn’t part of some long-brewing master plan, but simply the result of some Googling. He did some searching once he found out he would appear on the show and was inspired by what discovered about Chuck Forrest, a 1985 contestant whose similar Daily Double hunting even earned a phrase to describe his method of play, the “Forrest Bounce.”

“There’s no logical reason to do what people normally do, which is to take one category at a time from the top down,” Chu told the Web site Mental Floss. “Your only point of control in the game is your ability, if you get the right answer to a question, to select the next question — and you give that power up if you make yourself predictable.”

In 1985, of course, angry viewers didn’t have the option to take to social media to complain about an un­or­tho­dox contestant who disrupted a beloved and orderly daily routine. Chu’s secret weapon may be the fact that he can look past the show’s iconography and decades of sentimental baggage and see it for what it is: a game. And the purpose of playing a game is to try to win, generally through some combination of skill and strategy, regardless of whatever arbitrary etiquette is attached to it.

In that way, what Chu is doing isn’t so different than the principles of “Moneyball.” In the book/film of that name, as in real-life, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane took a much-romanticized process (picking players in major league baseball’s annual draft) and turned it into something stark and evidence-based (focusing on statistics and formulas instead of the traditional and more subjective scouting). In fact, when you zoom way out, Chu’s strategy seems to fit into a larger cultural pattern: Now that everything can be measured, quantified and reduced to statistical probabilities, there’s no space for romance or instinct anymore. A scientific formula predicts hit songs; Big Data determines who directs our favorite shows. And all of these approaches have been adopted because they work: As Chu earned another victory on Thursday night, he became the show’s third-highest earner ever. (He has said he will donate some of his winnings to fibromyalgia research; his wife suffers from the condition.)

Chu, like Beane and Netflix and Warner Music Group, isn’t breaking any actual rules here. He’s just being ruthlessly, idol-killingly pragmatic, in a space where we don’t want pragmatism — we want pure genius!  We want Ken Jennings!

Jennings, who set a “Jeopardy” record with 74 consecutive victories while winning $2.5 million in 2004, thinks Chu is “playing the game right.”

“In sports, players and fans love it when teams shake up the game with new techniques: the basketball jump shot in the 1950s, the split-finger fastball in the 1980s, four-down football today,” he wrote over at Slate. “Why should Jeopardy be any different?”

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:58 AM | 131 comment(s)
  Beats: media, moneyball, sabermetrics

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chris Wheeler: ‘I did the last nine games knowing I was a lame duck’

We’ve all had Wheels to take ourselves away…

Phillies team president David Montgomery found Wheeler before the game.

“[He] told me on Sept. 21 that I wasn’t going to be back to do the games,” Wheeler said. “I did the last nine games knowing I was a lame duck. And that was a little difficult . . . Leaving the booth that Sunday, I caught myself looking around as I walked to the bus.”

...Wheeler is back in Clearwater this spring, going about his business as if nothing has changed. Although he won’t appear on Comcast’s broadcasts, he will continue to be around the team in a still-to-be-determined role.

He will be a team ambassador, of sorts.

“One of the things they want me to do is go around the ballpark and play the role of Chris Wheeler,” he said. “Whatever the hell that is. Just show up at stuff. Anybody who has something in the organization that they may want me to do, like play golf with a sponsor, go into a suite, maybe talk at one of the sponsor’s dinners, offseason speaking engagements.”

...“It was a little overwhelming to be honest with you,” Wheeler said. “It took me a long time to sit down, answer all the calls, get back to everybody, answer all my emails, answer all my texts. [A Phillies media relations official] told me it was going to happen and I thought, ‘Come on, who gives a crap that I’m going to be gone?’ He said, ‘It’s going to be a bigger story than you think.’ And I swear to God I did not envision it turning into what it turned in to. The attention was unbelievable. It was very nice, very flattering and if my legacy can be to have been a decent human being and a professional, I’m good with that. Somebody who just loved the game.”

Repoz Posted: February 25, 2014 at 05:57 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: media, phillies

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Margalus: Steve Stone: White Sox broadcasts will feature more sabermetrics

NEHRU: Numbers Eventually Hawk Renders Useless

Steve Stone, by way of the Boers and Bernstein Show on 670 The Score, dropped a doozy on everybody by announcing that he and Hawk Harrelson will be taking White Sox broadcasts into forbidden territory.

It starts at 28:30, but this is the key exchange:

  Stone: I just want to mention one thing that you’ll be really interested in. I have actually been studying up, and will continue to, because we’re going to kind of introduce—we might not call it this because this is, y’know, the evil empire—but we’re going to introduce some sabermetrics into the broadcast this year.

  Bernstein: /exaggerated gasp

  Stone: We’re going to actually explain to our viewers a bit about how it’s used as a tool, and try to explain that it’s not *the* tool, but it’s *a* tool, and used correctly.

Specificially, Stone cites wins above replacement, batting average on balls in play, defensive metrics like runs saved. You can hear Bernstein’s smirk while Stone is laying out the groundwork, and he finally says, “I’m looking forward to it because it likely means Hawk is going to leave.”

Coming just a season after Harrelson engaged in a personal war with the field, the schadenfreude potential here is off the charts. I’d be surprised if it actually delivers, though.

Repoz Posted: February 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Megdal: Sirius/XM, with late bid, throws Mets broadcast into flux

Stopped listening to Howeird long before he went to Siri…oh, fafa flunky.

A late, improved bid from Sirius/XM managed to keep announcer Casey Stern in the fold, foiling efforts by the Mets and WOR-AM to hire Stern as the team’s pre- and post-game host for Mets baseball broadcasts, multiple sources have confirmed to Capital.

The protracted negotiations, and the station’s failure to put together a backup plan, has thrown the broadcast into chaos with just 11 days remaining until the first WOR radio broadcast of the Mets on February 28.

Sirius/XM, meanwhile, gets to announce on Tuesday that they are keeping Stern, who hosts both their midday show on MLB Network Radio and a weekend show on NFL Radio. The satellite radio giant, known throughout the industry for waiting as long as possible to properly pay its talent, managed to bid just in time to ensure their five-year relationship with Stern would continue.

WOR and the Mets had seen Stern as the guy for quite some time. An initial attempt to get him prior to the Super Bowl failed, but it was believed that an improved bid in recent weeks could be enough to get Stern on board.

Repoz Posted: February 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: media, mets

Monday, February 17, 2014

David Samson sits down with MLB.com to address the state of the franchise

Goes into a blank-faced Gale Sonderungaarded moment to channel Brattain…

MLB.com: Obviously, you rebranded in ‘12, and it didn’t go the way you wanted. You restructured in ‘13, and endured a long season. How are you rebranding, and what do you need to do to reconnect with the fan base?

Samson: I think what our fans are looking for is stability, and what they’re looking for is better performance. The good news is we have a great ballpark, and that 10-year struggle is over with. The people who come to our ballpark really do love coming here. We want to show them a better product that wins more games. That’s what we’re definitely trying to do, and we feel we’re on the upswing.

MLB.com: Regarding your homegrown players, when you’ve identified your core, how important is the next step—to do what the Braves just did and sign some of those guys to long-term deals?

Samson: It’s interesting if you look at teams and who their core is. Let’s talk about the Yankees, they had a core of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. They were only that team for a very long time. But if you look around at other teams, it’s getting more and more rare to have players spend careers on the same team. That’s just how the world of baseball is right now. So the tough part is choosing, which players you want that to be and then being right. What you don’t want to happen, if you are the Marlins or about 28 other teams, if you choose wrong, that can stop your team from winning for a sustained period of time. The key is to figure out which players you think will be the best over a long period of time. I’m happy to say we have a lot of choices right now.

What our baseball people do is they look, and they scout, including at the Major League level. They make decisions, then they come to us and say, ‘Listen, this is who we can build around. This is someone who could be a forever great player, and he will help your team win.’

MLB.com: What do you think is a realistic, sustainable payroll?

Samson: It’s hard to know what a realistic, sustainable payroll is because we have to see what revenues are. That’s what it’s based on. We’re certainly looking forward to more TV revenue. We want to win. We want to be able to have the players who can help us win. We want to be able to afford a mistake, which happens in baseball, in terms of signing a player who may not be helping you win. That’s not where we are right now, but it’s where we’re trying to get to.

Repoz Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: business, marlins, media

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MGL: HOW JETER CAN TURN A VERY GOOD WRITER INTO A HACK *

Hazardous duty in Sochi, indeed! As MGL turns Joe Posnanski into Hack Hackworth!

* And why I am getting tired of writers and analysts picking and choosing one or more of a bushel of statistics to make their (often weak) point.

...Speaking of strawmen, before I lambaste Mr. Posnanski, which is the crux of this post, let me start by giving him some major props for pointing out that this article, by the “esteemed” and “venerable” writer Allen Barra, is tripe. That is Pos’ word – not mine. Indeed, the article is garbage, and Barra, at least when writing about anything remotely related to sabermetrics, is a hack. Unfortunately, Posnanski’s article is not much further behind in tripeness.

...Whether you want to include base running on “offense” doesn’t matter. Look at the career batting runs. 369 runs to 124. Seriously, what was Posnanski drinking (aha, that’s it – Russian vodka! – he is in Sochi in case you didn’t klnow) when he wrote an entire article mostly about how similar Trammell and Jeter were, offensively, throughout their careers. And remember, these are linear weights batting runs, which are presented as “runs above or below average” compared to a league-average player. In other words, they are neutralized with respect to the run-scoring environment of the league. Again, with respect to PED use during Jeter’s era, we can make an argument that the gap between them is even larger than that.

So, Posnanski tries to make the argument that, “They are not so far apart offensively as some people might think (yeah, the people who look at their stats on Fangraphs!),” by presenting some “neutralized” OPS stats. (And again, he is claiming that a 37-point difference is “close,” which is eminently debatable.)

Before he even finishes, I can make the exact opposite claim – that they are worlds apart offensively, by presenting their career (similar length careers, by the way, although Jeter did play in 300 more games), league and park adjusted batting runs. They are 245 runs, or 24 wins, apart!

...Yes, it is true that Trammell has not gotten his fair due from the HOF voters, for whatever reasons. But, comparing him to Jeter doesn’t help make his case, in my opinion. Jeter is not going into the HOF because he has X number of career WAR. He is going in because he was clearly a very good or great player, and because of the other dozen or more things he has going for him that the voters (and the fans) include, consciously or not, in terms of their consideration. Even if it could be proven that Jeter and Trammell had the exact same context-neutral statistical value over the course of their careers, Jeter could still be reasonably considered a slam dunk HOF’er and Trammell not worthy of induction (I am not saying that he isn’t worthy). It is still the Hall of Fame (which means many different things to many different people) and not the Hall of WAR or the Hall of Your Context-Neutral Statistical Value.

For the record, I love Posnanski’s work in general, but no one is perfect. I wonder if he knows how bad this article is? I am just curious.

Repoz Posted: February 16, 2014 at 12:05 AM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics, site news

Monday, February 03, 2014

Michael Kay opens show on YES with shot at Mike Francesa by throwing Diet Coke in trash can

Aspartame says goodbye forever…

Michael Kay kicked off his gig as Francesa’s replacement on the Yankees’ station Monday with a silent dis to the man who anchored the afternoon programming on the network for a dozen years.

As YES’ cameras focused in on Kay and sidekick Don LaGreca, a bottle of Diet Coke was in clear sight. Unlike Francesa’s shows, the label was still on the bottle.

While Kay began his monologue, he picked up the bottle of soda and deposited it into a trash bin that was raised by LaGreca for the YES lenses to capture. The pair made no mention of it in the opening moments of the show.

Kay was immediately ripped by viewers on Twitter, and when it was brought up to Francesa — who is currently without a simulcast home after his relationship with YES came to an end on Sunday — he dismissed the ESPN-98.7 duo.

...Off the air, Francesa was even more harsh, telling Newsday that Kay and LaGreca’s stunt was a “classless, loser move from two guys I have been burying in the ratings for over a decade.”

If this is what counts as a shot across the bow, Francesa would surely consider the weapon “a peashootah.”

Repoz Posted: February 03, 2014 at 09:24 PM | 128 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Sunday, February 02, 2014

They print ‘Wild Thing’ legend – but Williams loaded the bases with hits in ’89 Cubs opener

Mitch Williams: “I never considered myself in a jam.” (That’s Entertainment!)

“When you have the nickname ‘Wild Thing,’ everybody thinks that,” said Williams, a glib storyteller in his recent gig as guest speaker at the Pitch and Hit Club’s 68th annual banquet. He gets paid to do what he does, and not just at baseball events. Williams is a baseball analyst for MLB Network and Fox Sports.

“I did walk the bases loaded and struck out the side – it just didn’t happen on that day,” he said.

...“I don’t try to dig into numbers,” he said. “I’m not a sabermetric guy. I talk about what I see. I know the game of baseball. I know how it works. I know the ins and outs of it. I’m trying to tell people at home things that aren’t obvious.

“I’m still close to the players. It’s poor journalism (if you don’t talk to players). The broadcasters I really despised were former players who would point mistakes out as if they never made it, and forget how hard the game is to play. I never wanted to be one of those guys. There’s certain times when you can question their thought process, but you don’t rip a guy for what he did.

“The pitch to Joe Carter was supposed to be a fastball up and away. I jerked it down and in. That’s a mistake. My thought process was right, my execution was wrong.”

Repoz Posted: February 02, 2014 at 09:42 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: history, media

Friday, January 31, 2014

Rob Neyer joining Fox Sports

Congrats to Rob.

Multiple sources have informed AA that Neyer is heading to Fox Sports, following in the footsteps of other prominent web-based hires like Jimmy Traina (SI) and Erik Malinowski (Buzzfeed).

Additionally, according to a source familiar with the situation, Neyer will be contributing to a variety of platforms - mostly on the internet but also television appearances on Fox Sports 1.

Greg Franklin Posted: January 31, 2014 at 01:51 PM | 80 comment(s)
  Beats: community, fox sports, internet, media, rob neyer, television

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Justin Lin To Produce Adaptation Of Sundance Doc ‘Battered Bastards Of Baseball’

Shopping for…

Yeah, we saw this coming…. earlier this week we posted our review of the Sundance documentary, “Battered Bastards Of Baseball,” and within, our own Katie Walsh declared, “you will start fantasy casting the near-inevitable Hollywood remake of this story.” And indeed some studio execs are already doing just that.

Justin Lin has acquired the rights to Chapman and Maclain Way’s documentary, with the project already starting a war between Columbia Pictures, Fox Searchlight and DreamWorks for the option. What has them all excited? Well, it’s a rough and tumble baseball tale about Bing Russell (father of Kurt Russell) and how he founded the independent Portland Mavericks team, and with savvy recruiting of fading big league players and an emphasis on fun, turned the sport into a mega-hit in a state were it wasn’t thought it could be successful. He essentially beat Major League Baseball at their own game, and while the ride was good, it didn’t last for long. Filmmaker Todd Field (“In The Bedroom”) was a batboy for the team, and in fact, he is in negotiations to write and direct the Hollywood adaptation for Lin.

Basically, this story is dripping with colorful players, a wild, fight-the-system story, and a love of the game. It’s easy to see why execs are excited. In case anyone needs help in casting, Katie Walsh suggested: “Bradley Cooper as manager Frank Peters, Ben Affleck plus a couple of pounds and several dozen loud shirts as Bing, Aaron Eckhart as disgraced former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton, John Cho, Michael Peña, Michael B. Jordan as the hot shot players.”

Repoz Posted: January 25, 2014 at 04:09 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Fox to acquire majority control of N.Y. Yankees’ YES Network

Wonder if Michael Kay will balk at his show’s name change to CenterStaged.

21st Century Fox said Friday that it was taking a majority stake in the New York Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, known as the YES Network, a little more than a year after Fox first invested in the popular regional sports channel.

Fox said it would increase its stake to 80%, up from the 49% interest it bought in December 2012.

Fox declined to say how much it was paying for its increased interest. It paid $584 million for the 49% stake in 2012.

At that time, the entertainment company headed by Rupert Murdoch also paid $250 million to help cover some programming costs. That put Fox’s initial investment in the channel at $834 million, according to regulatory documents.

Fox had long planned to own a majority stake in the channel, but it increased its holdings more rapidly than initially envisioned. The value of sports channels has accelerated in recent years.

...“Our investment in the YES Network underscores our commitment to growing our global sports portfolio with offerings that are exceptional and unique,” James Murdoch, Fox deputy chief operating officer, said in a statement. He is also a board member of the Yankee Global Enterprises.

Repoz Posted: January 25, 2014 at 08:17 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: media, yankees

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jay Mariotti: Bill Simmons and the Death of Sports Media

Thick and zesty…It’s in there.

A fanboy should not be a sports columnist, a TV analyst and a website editor. A fanboy should remain a fanboy, root vacuously for his teams and leave the serious work to the trained journalists. Several years ago, ESPN turned a fanboy named Bill Simmons into a blogging cartoon character — the Sports Guy, he was called — who was cast as a role model for legions of other fanboys unqualified for professional sports media and used by the network to generate traffic for then-fledgling ESPN.com.

This was when the Internet was swallowing the world and newspapers were starting to die, a perfect segue to a sportswriting fad. Problem was, Simmons spawned a lot of other fanboys who could become sportswriters simply by signing onto Word Press and launching blogs. Around this time, web entrepreneurs with no conscience about accountability and ethics launched their own grubby sites, then hired fanboys for pennies while ordering them to accrue as many clicks as possible by whatever means possible, even if it meant stalking famous athletes and media people and publishing blatant lies, blind items, dick and vagina photos, whatever attracted the eyeballs of various stoners and losers.

All of which brings us to Simmons today. Having ruined the sports media industry in too many ways to count, he now finds himself in an unforgivable legal predicament that could end his hollow reign atop a media empire that should know better. It was Simmons, as editor-in-chief of ESPN’s Grantland spinoff site, who approved the publication of a piece last week called “Dr. V’s Magical Putter.” The story was intended to determine the legitimacy of a unique piece of golf equipment. It ended with the transgender community crying foul over the insensitive work of the story’s author, Caleb Hannan, who discovered in the course of his reporting that the putter’s inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, was a transgender person.

...In my world, Simmons doesn’t write well, doesn’t do TV well and really doesn’t do much of anything but schmooze the right people. At ESPN, any guy off the street — myself included, I suppose — could do a few shows and become a star, based simply on the network’s massive clout and reach. But at some point, there has to be a redeeming value to a personality. And don’t tell me about page views, unique visitors and Twitter followers — the biggest ongoing scam in the web media is how people buy and fabricate numbers, in some cases by the hundreds of thousands. Ignore numbers.

Bill Simmons, BS for short, is the product of a network so big that it can make media sensations out of hubcaps. Now that he has become a liability to that network, expect him any day back in the Garden with his Celtics jersey. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy.

Repoz Posted: January 22, 2014 at 07:49 AM | 423 comment(s)
  Beats: media

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Frank Thomas calls out Sammy Sosa, Skip Bayless in interview

Chicago, Now & Then!

jm

Newly elected Hall of Famer Frank Thomas joined Jim Rome for an interview that will air in this month’s Jim Rome on Showtime beginning Wednesday night. In it, Thomas touched on multiple aspects of steroids use in baseball, including both his own doubts about the integrity of some of his colleagues and his distaste for media members questioning whether he used.

“I knew it was shady when Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs,” Thomas said.”Sammy Sosa was my teammate for three years coming up. So watching his career and watching him grow, for three years he was capable of only 20-25, 27 home runs at the most… there’s no way Sammy doubled me up. With Mark McGwire, you really had to take a look at it because Mark McGwire had 48 home runs as a rookie.”

...Later in the interview with Rome, Thomas added that he sometimes faces the same suspicion that plagues players of his era.

“I hate to bring up names,” Thomas said, “but Skip Bayless even said the other week, ‘How did I walk through the door without any suspicion?’ And I would like to have a conversation with him because I walked the walk and talked the talk from Day 1.”

Repoz Posted: January 15, 2014 at 03:41 PM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: hof, media

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Sporting News supports Dan Le Batard

Will they turn their ballots over to Deadspink?

[Dan] Le Batard is right. Reform is needed. At minimum, a redefinition of what the Hall of Fame should represent to baseball fans.

The fact his vote was turned over to Deadspin misses the point.

The best thing the BBWAA and the Hall can do is announce a plan to turn the vote over to the public or something similar on its own next year.

Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martínez, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and Piazza. Give Deadspin’s readers credit, feels like they got it mostly right.

The District Attorney Posted: January 09, 2014 at 08:12 PM | 53 comment(s)
  Beats: bbwaa, dan le batard, deadspin, hall of fame, media, sporting news

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