General

It Won’t Be Unanimous

MLB.com revealed the Hall of Fame ballots for their writers today and we now know that Greg Maddux won’t get 100% of the vote.

Ken Gurnick, using utterly failed logic, has decided not to vote for a single player who participated in the PED era, so he has only voted for Jack Morris. Here’s Gurnick’s reasoning

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.

Let’s set aside the argument of whether or not Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame. Gurnick’s blanket statement that he won’t vote for anyone who played during the period of PED use means he shouldn’t vote for Morris! You can argue that PED use started in 1987 with the long ball explosion and I wouldn’t argue with you. If you want to wait until 1988 and Ben Johnson being stripped of his gold medal for PED use, I wouldn’t argue either. But to think that PED use didn’t start until after Morris retired in 1994 is silly. I’m not saying that Morris used PED’s. I have no idea if he did or didn’t. But if you are not going to vote for anyone from that era you have to be consistent.

And, while I imagine Gurnick will argue that Morris did the bulk of his pitching before the PED era started, he cited “three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five” as reasons to vote for Morris. Morris won 21 games in 1992 and received Cy Young and MVP votes in 1991 and 1992, so Gurnick looks foolish.

We’ve argued this issue before here on YR.com and come up with various suggestions for improving the process. I will be interested to see if Gurnick is the only guy who left Maddux off the ballot, or if some other writers did as well. Maybe, just maybe this will lead to some sort of reform process for the voting system.

 

What Took So Long?

I was shocked today when the BBWAA announced that Roger Angell was the recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and therefore joining the Hall of Fame. I was shocked because I couldn’t believe he wasn’t already in it.

“The Summer Game” has to be one of the best books ever written about baseball. As a kid, I read and re-read it and only put it down when I picked up “Late Innings”. Though the years, Angell has contributed great baseball pieces to the New Yorker and I am always excited when I see that he is contributing to an issue. Consider his most recent contribution after the 2013 World Series it’s a treat to read even if you didn’t like the final result:

O.K., about those beards—I give up. The Red Sox took this World Series in six games, but by something wider in retrospect. The Cardinals, ahead two games to one in the early going, led only once after that—a little 1-0 margin that held up for two innings in Game Four. In actuality, they outhit the Sox, .224 to .211, but did not draw sustenance from this gruel, because of a collective batting debility. The bottom four hitters in their order failed to deliver a single base runner in scoring position over the seven games. Their dugout was tomblike last night after Shane Victorino’s three-run double, high off the wall in the third inning, and no wonder. The eight Boston batters not named Ortiz, by contrast, stayed upbeat throughout—a boys’ club, you felt—despite a similar collective fatuity at the plate. Somebody or other would provide: Gomes with a three-run homer in Game Four; David Ross with a seventh-inning double the next night; that Victorino double yesterday. All this can be blamed on St. Louis pitching, of course, but there was clearly something else in play during these games—a winning conviction beyond the reach of stats. Beards did it.

Big Papi had four walks last night, three of them on free passes from the Cardinal pitchers, and struck out at last in the sixth, dropping his batting average from .733 to .688, still good enough by miles for the Series M.V.P. award. No one has ever been hotter—unless it was St. Louis third baseman David Freese, back in 2011, when he saved the Cards from extinction by the Texas Rangers in Game Six of that World Series with a ninth-inning two-out, two-strike, two-run triple, then won the game with a lead-off homer in the eleventh. Freese was present but not present this time around, striking out seven times—you wanted to look away.

Fox TV provided a nice little Ortiz vignette, with an overheard water-cooler chat between Cards catcher Yadier Molina and home-plate ump Jim Joyce as Big Papi approached the plate once again. “The guy’s unbelievable,” Molina said, through his mask.

“He’s fun to watch,” Joyce agreed.

I also appreciated a Fox shot that reprised Stephen Drew’s fourth-inning home run into the Sox bullpen, where the presiding Boston cop, Steve Horgan, again raised his arms in triumph, exactly as he had famously done in the A.L.C.S. when Ortiz’s homer landed there, with Tiger right-fielder Torii Hunter spinning after it, head over heels. Drew’s shot put the Sox up by 4-0, and there was time for me to muse about Horgan’s duties while on patrol out there: Patting down pigeons? Breaking up a deadly international ring of autograph counterfeiters?

Such are the idle between-time pleasures of baseball, but that season has now flown away, worse luck. The Red Sox have taken their third World Championship in ten years, and the first clinched at Fenway Park since 1918. No trace remains of the Curse of the Bambino and accompanying New England paranoias that filled up our paragraphs and night thoughts for so many years. Winning almost all the time has a lot to be said for it, but not quite winning, barely missing again and again, keeps you whining and breathing, and might even be more fun in the end.

That is great writing and that closing paragraph a thing of beauty. Roger Angell is 93, it’s about time he was enshrined with the greats of the game.

Wallowing In The Mud

Today the New York Times published a front page article on the A-Rod vs. MLB drama. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here is a nice synopsis of it. It is fair to say that both sides come across as absolutely awful.

MLB has clearly decided to pursue victory at all costs. It is absolutely revolting to read the depths they have sunk to in their pursuit of Alex.

But that doesn’t excuse Alex’s behavior. Put aside the tampering, the cheating and think about the $100,000 anonymous donation to a Hispanic charity with the proviso that they publicly support Alex’s side.

Whatever happens when the final judgement is handed down, there will be no winners. Both sides have sunk to depths that make rooting for either of them impossible. All we can hope for now is a quick end to this mess.

What Do I Root For?

As a Yankee fan I am not sure what to root for in the next 24 hours.

As a selfish fan, it is easy. You want A-Rod to return to the lineup right now. Yes, he is 38 and has two bad hips, but it is very hard to imagine a scenario where he is worse than the guys the Yankees have run out there so far in 2013. The harsh truth is, the 2013 Yankees need Alex. But the 2014 Yankees might not, especially if they could be rid of his salary. So, A-Rod returning for 2013 and then being suspended for 2014 would be the best thing for the “root for the laundry” crowd.

But, I can’t do that. I can’t sit there and enjoy watching Alex play right now. I don’t know exactly what he did, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t good. He asked us in 2009 to judge him by what happened from that day forward. It certainly seems like he has failed miserably by that standard.

Things is life are hardly ever black or white and I think PED use falls under that category. If you grew up dirt poor and suddenly found a way to make enough money for you, your children and your children’s children to never have to worry about finances again, would you take it even if it was breaking the rules? I don’t know my own answer to that and that is why I can understand why some of these players did what they did.

But Alex was clearly not in that category when all of this happened. He had already made loads of money, so why did he cheat? Columnists have plenty of opinions from insecurities to just being a bad guy, but we will never know unless Alex tells us.

And that is ultimately what I would like to see come out of this. When all of the legal wrangling is finished I hope there is a moment where Alex tells us what really happened. He has said he will and I hope he does, but I think it is unlikely.

The sad truth of this whole mess is that there are no winners here. MLB can crow all it wants about cleaning up the game, but the majority of Biogenisis clients DIDN’T fail a PED test. As with most things in life, a seemingly trivial dispute led to this whole situation. Without that, none of this becomes public and all of these guys are still considered clean. And I think we all know that there are other clinics out there right now feeding their clients illegal PED’s. One day some of them may come to light, but chances are plenty will not.

So what do we do as fans? Do we applaud knowing that some of what we are watching is chemically enhanced? Do we turn off the tube in anger at the artificial nature of it all? Is there some middle ground? I don’t know the answer, but I know the upcoming announcement will do nothing to answer those questions. I guess the best scenario is that this all ends tomorrow and we move on-waiting for the next scandal to emerge.

It Begins-UPDATED 7:20 PM

MLB has just announced that Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of the season! According to Jon Heyman, Braun has agreed to the suspension.

The fact that MLB suspended Braun for 65 games and that Braun is not appealing it is very bad news for A-Rod. Clearly, MLB had some very strong evidence on Braun to be able to suspend him for more than the 50 game standard for first offenders and to do it with him agreeing. It has been widely reported that MLB was cutting deals with players to accept a lesser punishment in return for not appealing suspensions and this confirms that.

So, why is Braun the only suspension announced? Could it be that everyone else is fighting MLB or is it just the process? And if agreeing to the punishment of 65 games is the “reward” for cooperation, what will the penalty be for players who fight MLB?

Stay tuned

UPDATE Here’s a link to MLB’s statement and Braun’s statement. Interesting that MLB “commends” Braun for taking responsibility for his actions. That is clearly a message to other players. Braun’s statement is the standard junk most players say in this situation. I wonder if he will apologize to the sample collector he absolutely trashed in the media last year?

UPDATE- 6:01PM Heyman reported earlier today that A-Rod was facing a major suspension. The Daily News speculated today that Alex was trying to get declared medically ineligible to return to baseball, thereby making himself still eligible to collect his contract even if he was suspended. That suddenly seems a lot more plausible.

UPDATE- 6:08PM As ESPN pointed out, this greatly boosts the credibility of Anthony Bosch. That is not good for A-Rod or any other player linked to Biogenisis.

UPDATE- 6:17PM Buster Olney just said on SportsCenter that by agreeing to the suspension, Braun has given MLB a huge boost. They can now use that as support for any suspension that gets argued in front of an arbitrator. Basically, it makes their arguments much more credible.

UPDATE- 6:20PM TJ Quinn of ESPN tweets that MLB is going after A-Rod for interfering with the investigation as well. He says “they will go after him harder”

UPDATE- 6:55PM  More from Quinn. “Source also tells OTL evidence provided about A-Rod is “far beyond” what Bosch gave them re Braun.” Verducci also said a similar thing on MLB Network about the evidence against A-Rod in comparison to Braun.

UPDATE- 7:15PM Bob Costas had an interesting idea on MLB Network. In the next CBA, the players and owners should put a policy in place that getting caught using PED’s, besides being suspended, makes a player forever ineligible for the All-Star Game, Hall of Fame and any individual awards.

UPDATE- 7:20PM This is not a good day for baseball fans, so how about some humor? Logan Morrison just told reporters, “You know we’re clean. We haven’t scored a run in 37 innings.”  That’s a good line.

Prayers For Boston

I lived right in Boston for 10 years and some of my fondest memories are of Patriots’ Day. It is simply a great sports day and while I certainly didn’t root on the Red Sox, I always tried to get to the marathon course to cheer on the runners. For a number of years I worked right in Copley Square, so I would walk right across to Boylston and up a few blocks to see the runners finishing. Today that very place is the scene of terrible carnage and tragedy.

In the days ahead we will find out just how many people have died and been injured as a result of this craven attack. Whatever the final tally, it is too many and it feels futile to offer my meager  condolences and prayers to those who have lost so much. But, I also remember that in the aftermath of 9/11 how much it meant to me when people expressed their support for New York so I hope that in some small way this helps.

Boston, we are with you. Our thoughts, our prayers, our hopes and our condolences go out to you tonight.

The Crystal Ball

A quick break from vacation to get my picks in before the season starts in a few hours. As always, follow these at your own risk.

AL EAST

1- Tampa

2- Toronto

3- Yankees

4- Red Sox

5- Baltimore

To me Tampa is a great team people seem to forget about. Their pitching is great and I think Myers will provided them with the big stick they need when they call him up at the end of April. I love Toronto’s offseason, but not enough to put them on top. I get the bandwagon that thinks the Yankees finish in last, but I don’t see it. Sure they are old and injured, but they can pitch and that should keep them out of the basement. Plus, lets not forget how truly bad Boston was last year, why should we expect them to climb over New York? I say the Yankees finish third with 85 wins and miss the playoffs. The surprise is probably the Baltimore pick, but I think their luck in one-run games runs out and they certainly won’t surprise anyone this year.

AL CENTRAL

1- Detroit

2- Chicago

3- Kansas City

4- Minnesota

5- Cleveland

Detroit is the class of this division.

AL WEST

1- Angels

2- Oakland

3- Texas

4- Seattle

5- Houston

I think the Angels run away with it, but Oakland and Texas are the wild cards. That is in part do to how epically bad Houston will be. I would guess 110 losses for them.

NL EAST

1- Washington

2- Atlanta

3- Philadelphia

4- Florida

5- Mets

Hard to see anyone catching the Nats this year, but Atlanta will give them a run.

NL CENTRAL

1- Cincinnati

2- Pittsburgh

3- St. Louis

4- Milwaukee

5- Chicago

Now that Houston is gone, this might be the most competitive division in baseball. I think the Reds hold off a surprising Pirates club.

NL WEST

1- Giants

2- Dodgers

3- Arizona

4- Colorado

5- San Diego

The Dodgers may be the fashionable pick, but I will take the winners of two of the last three titles.

AL PLAYOFFS

Texas over Oakland in the wild card

Detroit over Tampa
Angles over Texas

Angels over Detroit

NL Playoffs

Atlanta over LA in the wild card

Nats over Atlanta
Cincinnati over San Fran
Nats over Cincinnati

WORLD SERIES

Nats over Angels- at least something works in D.C.

Finally a toast to the two greatest words in the English language- PLAY BALL. I can’t wait to hear them tomorrow afternoon.

World Brawl Classic?

Did you catch the brawl in the Mexico-Canada game yesterday? It was quite a scrum with lots of punches and tackles, but amazingly no suspensions. I understand why MLB doesn’t want to suspend players from this event, but it sets a very tricky precedent the next time the benches clear in a real baseball game.

The bigger problem is why the benches cleared. They cleared because a Canadian player laid down a bunt in the 9th inning of a game his team was winning 9-3. Why did he do that? Because the tiebreaker in the WBC is run differential. Canada had been creamed by Italy the day before (they actually got mercy ruled) so it was reasonable for them to want to score as many runs as possible. It was also reasonable for Mexico to get a bit upset watching a guy drop a bunt down in that situation. The question is, what does MLB do about it?

Changing the format of the WBC would be a start. Since the games are played in March, why can’t they have some sort of tiebreaker for a playoff spot? Or, get creative and add a home run derby for the spot or something like that. Whatever they do, hopefully MLB thinks of something to avoid this situation the next time the WBC is held.

A Little Site Business

Hey Readers, we just wanted to make you aware of some new and updated features here at YankeesRedsox.com

First and foremost, our RSS feed has changed. It is now feed://yankeesredsox.com/feed/ so please update your web readers.

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Finally, we have added various ways for you to share content you like at the bottom of each post. You can Tweet, Facebook, email, Google+, Pinterest any post you wish right from the page. If any of those things are your bag of tea, please feel free to use them.

As always, thanks for your support and feel free to make any suggestions to us in the comments about features you would like to see.

Peter and Andy

Moving On Up

In the interest of making this website look a bit more, you know, real, Peter and I have decided to fork over some dough and will be making an upgrade to the site. Nothing fancy I assure you, but a better format to be sure.

With this, the site might go down for 1-2 days. Please bear with us and be sure to check back soon. We appreciate all who read and comment and hope this will make everything easier to use.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all.