Packed up the family and headed west on the 401 to visit Grandma this weekend. There is no basement here so I am posting from above ground for the first time.
"....it is important to revel in the mundane rather than the spectacular." This quote is from John Henry and he is referencing Thomas Boswell. Thomas Boswell is the type of baseball writer that I don't read. Too romantic about the game. If I get my bong out I can watch Field of Dreams ( which I've read is really about male menopause but I digress ) but I've never watched The Natural or read Boys of Summer and such. Having said that, I do identify completely with this quote from Mr. Henry ( I assume he is paraphrasing Mr. Boswell ). Casual baseball fans ( not unlike in other sports ) are most interested in the sport come playoff time, particularly the World Series. I am most interested in the regular season, the seemingly mundane. The real pleasure in being a baseball fan is the day to day grind of it. Watching how rosters, batting orders, rotations and bullpens are managed, tweaked, rebuilt over the course of the season. I also like that it unfolds very, very slowly. This isn't the NFL ( which I enjoy ) where we wait a week and it's an EVENT, baseball is for the laconic.
In more practical, real terms, the regular season is the measuring stick of who the best teams are, particulary in this era of the Wild Card. The postseason doesn't reveal who the best team is. For starters, the 5 game format of the Division Championship series is a joke. 162 games accurately measures how good the teams are. How deep is your pitching? In the NL, how deep is your bench? How deep is your system when the inevitable injuries occur? None of this matters in the postseason, it's not the same game. The Cardinals are World Series champs, good for them, but you cannot convince me that a team that wins 83 games during the regular season is the best that season. The luckiest, but not the best.
How Noooo Yawk is this? The Gambino crime family is getting a piece of the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. "Mayor Bloomberg says his office called to complain to the Yankee organization about the team's decision to use a construction firm accused of having ties to the mafia. Bloomberg said the construction firm, Interstate Industrial, "clearly is not a firm the city would contract with." Interstate Industrial has been hired by the Yankees, and its main construction firm Turner Construction Corp., to lay the foundation for the new Yankee Stadium. But Interstate's owners, Frank and Peter DiTommaso, were indicted on perjury charges back in July. Officials accuse the brothers of lying to a Bronx grand jury about $165,000 in illegal payments given to Rudy Giuliani's former police and correction commissioner Bernard Kerik. Court and city documents show the City's Department of Investigation, New Jersey state investigators and the FBI have also linked the DiTommasos, and their firm, to members of the Gambino crime family. Part of that evidence is from mafia turncoats who testified in open court during cases like the trial of Peter Gotti." You can find the entire report on bizofbaseball.com. Episdoe 1 of the last season of The Sopranos airs tonight. As big a geek as I am, I'll pass up baseball to watch The Sopranos.
Rob Neyer of ESPN has been arguing for some time that Derek Jeter is overrated in the field. As I've said before, Neyer and the rest of the SABR community have stats and metrics and regression analyses up ( or is it out? ) the ying yang supporting their argument. Criticisms of Jeter's play in the field are gathering momentum. Neyer points out that SI's Jon Heyman and the NY Post's Joel Sherman are also criticizing Jeter's defense. Neyer also tells us that Jeter has been vaguely criticized on Yankee's TV broadcasts in two different games already this young season. The first time by color guy Joe Girardi for his limited range to his left ( the stat geek's argument ). The second time, according to Neyer, Jeter screwed up 2 different plays in one game. In both instances, according to Neyer, the Yankees broadcast team of Michael Kay and Ken Singleton twisted themselves into knots trying NOT to point out Jeter's miscues ( both involved not covering 2nd base, one on a bunt play, the other on a SB ). Evidently Singleton did make the point, without naming Jeter, that he did screw up both plays.
Neyer then goes on to muse about the role of the broadcaster, booster or analyst? He is critical of the Yankees broadcasters for their lack of candor. I find him surprisingly naive. He knows what the Yankees expect from YES ( they friggin own it ) and if they don't get it heads will roll. Of course the broadcasters are cheerleaders. There are recent examples of TV broadcasters being disciplined or dismissed because they pissed off the teams they work for. The most high profile spat involved Steve Stone and the Cubs. Stone was fired for being too critical of Dusty Baker. I watch some Cubs on WGN and they get exactly what they want from Stone's successor Bob Brenly, unrelenting optimism for the Cubbies. Remember when the BravesTV guys got kicked off the team flights a few years ago for pointing out how the Braves catchers were bending the rules in order to expand the strike zone for their pitchers?
A little while back I wrote about an article @ www.hardballtimes.com concerning the growth in the number of teams in MLB with "ties" to an RSN. Now Sports Business Journal is reporting that MLB is "proving to be a windfall for RSN's this season, with many of the larger markets reporting ad sales increases in the high single digits." Evidently there are a couple of factors driving this, fewer games on ESPN and more parity in MLB. I think RSN revenue will be an increasingly volatile issue in MLB between large & small market teams. How is this revenue being treated? There have already been accusations that teams are selling their programming to their RSN's at below market value to avoid additional revenue sharing burdens. See this recent comment from John Henry, "MLB is determined to limit our baseball revenues. They are determined to take more and more. Incredibly they now seem determined to invade local media markets." When he references "local media markets" I think he means NESN, the Red Sox owned RSN. How the owners share revenue, more specifically quantify revenue, is the new battleground in MLB. The battle in the Industry is no longer between the owners and players. When the current CBA expires in 2011 MLB will have had 16 years of labor peace. ( That's what more than quadrupling your revenues since 92 will do). The new battle is between the owners, how the pie is divied up.
The Lynx clubhouse is going to be overflowing with veteran pitching very soon, a good problem to have. The Lynx opened the season with an already veteran laden staff and more vets are on the way. The Phillies are scrambling for bullpen help and as a result have picked up Rosario from the Jays & just signed veteran RH ( and former Lynx ) Rick Bauer. Also, ESPN is reporting that the Phillies are interested in signing RH Dustin Hermanson to a minor league deal. As well, Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber are both expected to rejoin the Phillies rotation soon which will result in a few demotions.