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Breakfast with Joe Torre

December 1, 2010 6 comments

Why would I wake up at the asscrack of dawn, drive to school, walk from the parking lot to Journal Square in the pouring rain and take a train to the city for some ordinary Continental breakfast buffet at the Hard Rock in Times Square today?  Joe Torre just happened to be in attendance as part of WFAN 660’s Breakfast with a Champion today.  Tickets sold out in about 12 minutes a few weeks ago, and my friend and I snagged 5 tickets in that timeframe.  As if I needed a real reason to skip class.

Once inside, I got to a table with a not so great view in the back, and went for some French Toast sticks and scrambled eggs.  We had about an hour to do as we pleased at the breakfast buffet before Mike Francesa and Joe Torre would be on stage to tell some stories and reminisce about Torre’s career as a player and a manager.

Francesa talked a lot, because Francesa talks a lot.  But he asked all the right questions for Joe to answer, who seemed to be in a good mood, not like we’ve seen him sipping his Bigelow tea with a grimace in the Yankee dugout a few years back, no matter the score.  He talked about starting out with the St. Louis Cardinals, and switching from catcher to 1st and 3rd base.  Shedding 12 lbs. in 15 days on a water diet in spring training with his brother, Frank and hitting .363 for the batting title and NL MVP honors.  Almost being traded to the Yankees, but staying with the Mets to pursue his managerial career.

Then Joe moved onto his Yankee Years.  Coming back home to New York as “Clueless Joe” and talking about all the young Yankee legends like Jeter, Rivera, Bernie, and Posada, as well as inheriting a great pitching staff and deep bullpen with the likes of Doc Gooden, David Cone, and Jimmy Key.  He even touched on how Mariano Rivera was almost traded because they had Wickman and Wetteland to be the set-up man and closer, respectively.  The video of that chat is at the bottom of this post.

Torre talked about his coaching staff and dealing with players and his thoughts of them (with Bernie Williams as “his favorite”) through the late 90’s dynasty.  He spoke to great lengths about his relationship with George Steinbrenner, whom he said had a great heart and always wanted to win.  The most interesting thing I heard today was how Roger Clemens was in the clubhouse crying and saying “he didn’t mean to do it”after he threw the bat towards Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series.

He then went on to talk about the ugly end of his relationship with the Yankees, and fans got to ask questions.  We moved out of our seats and headed toward the staircase that led to the greenroom, hoping to get an autograph.  Torre only signed a few, as did Francesa, and they quickly exited the stage.  We missed our chance to meet Joe Torre, but there was still redemption.  Here’s the best photo I could take with my iPhone, with Torre and Francesa talking to Gov. Patterson:

Outside on the side of the building, we walked to the Hard Rock loading dock, where we saw a Chevy Suburban with tinted windows parked outside.  A man got out with an umbrella and headed towards the open garage where we were.  Suddenly far inside, a door opened and we saw Torre and his posse exiting.  We grabbed our stuff and took the caps off our pens and sharpies, and asked for an autograph.  Torre was nice enough to stop for us, as he autographed my new pearl, my friend’s Yankee team bat, a copy of “The Yankee Years” and two photos.  Here’s my catch of the day:

I was soaked (with the ball kept dry in one of my gloves, in my coat pocket) from head to toe and did not feel like risking getting sick sitting in wet clothes for another two hours.  And that’s why I’m not in class today, Prof. Demillo.

Here’s my video of Torre talking about the inherited ’96 team and a young, skinny Mariano Rivera almost being traded.

ESPN:NY Article Review of the Jeter Contract Situation

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I only check the ESPN: New York satellite site because its a means of organization, that I can see Yankees, Giants, Jets, Devils, and Nets all on the same site instead of trying to find it on the main ESPN hub page.  I do this mostly for quick score updates of stats, as well as headlines.  I normally don’t read much beyond that, because in all honesty, it’s crap.  But I did come across one article yesterday from Ian O’Connor about a compromise between the Yankees’ camp and the Jeter camp that’s worth reading.  I was quite surprised to read along with and agree with O’Connor’s words, that rarely happens.

Here’s the article

Things I agree with:

  • The idea of a compromise, falling in between the Yankees’ initial offer of 3 years for $45 million, and Jeter’s belief that he’s still worth of $100 million.  The middle? 4 for $70m.
  • How Jeter has no leverage coming off his worst season statistically, at age 36, some terrible timing on his part.
  • How Jeter has beat the Yankees in terms of negotiating in the past, whether through arbitration years, or getting more money a few years after George Steinbrenner would not notarize a deal that was already set in place.
  • How Jeter is the reason Cashman normally won’t negotiate during the arbitration years for the youngsters.  I can only imagine the raise that Robinson Cano will get after his current contract is up, or what Phil Hughes’ first big contract since his signing bonus as a senior in high school will be.
  • The way the Steinbrenner brothers run the team financially (like night and day).  Hank awarded A-Rod with the massive contract full of options and monetary achievements, and Hal is pinching pennies on the Yankee captain.

Things I disagree with:

  • Mentioning how Jeter has been on record to compromise already, whether moving off of short in the future, or working on his defense in the offseason after a dinner with GM Brian Cashman.  Workout regimes and future hearsay are two totally separate things, especially when dollars are involved.  Just because someone compromises in one area doesn’t mean they will in another; a stupid assumption.
  • O’Connor getting cute by bringing his story full-circle with the Jordan-Washington Wizards and Toledo Mud Hens metaphor from the intro paragraph.  Just the kind of tackiness that keeps this article from being perfect, but I don’t expect anything less from ESPN: New York.

Hal Steinbrenner said things “could get ugly” and he was right, it has.  Of course, this is the ugly side of baseball, the whole negotiating game that isn’t played on a diamond with 90 ft. basepaths.  There have been numerous reports coming out on a daily basis of the “who said what” rant, and I’ve found myself overloaded and unsure of who to believe.  More numbers have been thrown around in the past few weeks then in an antique automobile auction.

What I do like in terms of the rest of the major leagues, is how Jeter is going to be paid well above market value.  Other premiere shortstops such as Troy Tulowitzki will use Jeter’s previous and current contracts to their advantage, possibly pricing himself out of Colorado, and perhaps ready to take over once the aging Jeter either calls it quits or (voluntarily) moves off the shortstop position.

So, things are getting a little sour.  Cashman says Jeter is free to test the open market and find a better deal.  Hal has stated that “we’re trying to run a business here.”  Jeter’s agent Casey Close may or may not have let his camp’s demands leak, and may or may not have tried to cover it up.  That’s what happens during negotiations in the offseason.

The Captain eluded questions from the media all season long about what would happen this offseason when his current contract expired.  We all understand why.  But let’s not forget what happened to Bernie Williams after the ’98 season.  Things are now both magnified and amplified due to new media and the timing of when we get ours news.  Thanks, Twitter.

AL Cy Young Award Results

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Today, Felix Hernandez won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award, with a final line of 13-12, 2.27 ERA, 194 hits in 249.2 IP, and 232 K’s .  David Price of the Rays came in second, and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia finished in third.

Around campus, twitter, and facebook, I’ve heard (mostly) Yankee fans complaining that CC should have won.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I’ve heard nothing but “Anti-Yankee bias” and the whole “but Felix only won 13 games, and lost 12!”  I pity these fools.  In m opinion, the writers who vote on this matter got it right.  Except for one writer, who gave Sabathia a 5th place vote, that’s just absurd.

In King Felix’s defense, he had arguably the worst offense since the incporporation of the designated hitter in the AL supporting him, and still managed to get 13 wins, thanks to his 2.27 ERA, the lowest for a starter in all of baseball.  He led AL pitchers in WAR (6.0) and innings pitched (249.2), and recorded six complete games.  Heading into advanced stats, Hernandez had a 5.8 WPA, in basic terms, means he was screwed out of nearly 6 wins because of how bad the Seattle Mariners were.

Sabathia had a great year, and his 21 wins were tied for tops in baseball with NL winner Roy Halladay.  But his season was not better than Hernandez’s or Price’s, and the third place finish is deserving.  That’s not to say he wasn’t important to the Yankees, because we all know he was.  But there were two starting pitchers better than he was over the course of the regular season.

Sorry big fella, not this year.

In other Yankee related news:

The Yankees plan to offer Jeter 3 years for $45 million in the next couple of days, are one of 15 teams interested in Arizona’s Justin Upton, and they’ve signed 19 year old Dominican RHP Rafael DePaula, one of those “was suspended for a year because he lied about his age along with 75% of the talent from the Caribbean.”

Categories: Awards, Offseason Tags: , , ,

Hot Stove Info: Meetings, Contracts, Call-Ups, Awards

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

So far into the off-season, the window to negotiate exclusively with their free agent’s period has come and gone, with no deals done for the Yankees.  However, that doesn’t mean that GM Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees front office hasn’t been busy.  To recap so far…

  • Yankee brass has met with Jeter’s agent Casey Close, and it has been noted over the Internet and airwaves that “all parties agree a deal is going to get done.”   This, to me, is not real news.  News would be if the meeting went horribly and Jeter decides to take his talents elsewhere because of a low-ball offer.  (But I am pleased that things went well)
  • Cashman flew to Arkansas to meet with Cliff Lee.  No contract submission yet, but I would bet that the Yankee GM wasn’t selling New York to the lefthander, wearing his ’09 ring to show off to the pitcher that has missed out in the last two World Series matchups.
  • Jorge Posada will primarily be a DH in 2011, with Jesus Montero most likely getting around 100 starts as a rookie.  Who isn’t excited to have both of their bats in the lineup next year?  Side note: Will be interesting to see the battle from Spring Training on for the third catcher spot, with fist-pumping extraordinaire Frankie Cervelli and fellow homegrown backstop Austin Romine.  Let’s see how Jorge adjusts to his new role.  (And I’m not going to link to any Laura Posada twitter reactions, because the account hasn’t been verified yet).
  • The Yankees will also meet with Gil Patterson on Thursday, who was a Yankee coach before becoming a “roving instructor” for the Oakland A’s.  He’s my personal choice to be the new pitching coach for the club.
  • Jeter, Cano, and Teixeira won the Rawlings Gold Glove awards for their positions in the American League.

With the end of the regular season, it’s time to hand out the awards.  The Gold Gloves have already been handed out, and here’s the dates for the remaining awards:

Nov. 15: AL & NL Rookie of the Year

Nov. 16: NL Cy Young

Nov. 17: AL & NL Manager of the Year

Nov. 18: AL Cy Young

Nov. 22: NL MVP

Nov. 23: AL MVP

The Jeter Contract

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

It has its own trending hashtag on Twitter.  It’ll get the backpage of the Post and Daily News in the next upcoming days.  Francesa will spend at least an hour on the topic until pen meets paper.  Might as well join the conversation.

Everyone’s throwing figures around trying to guess the next contract for Derek Jeter.  That it’s with the Yankees has to be a given, so I don’t see wasting any time on trying to envision him wearing #2 in anything but pinstripes.

One tweep of mine, Andrew Katz (@NoYoureATowel) has a contest going for his followers to guess the amount and years of Jeter’s next contract.

Derek’s last contract was 10 yrs/$189 mil.  I can’t see him getting a raise as he approaches 40 and continues to decline in terms of production.  Speaking of production, Jeter’s 2010 numbers: .270/.340/.370.  Not exactly Jeterian, or the kind of numbers to be used as leverage in negotiations.

Speculation has it that he is seeking 6 year deal, which would keep him in the Bronx until he’s 42.  I’d take 4 years, 5 max.

While the 2010 Jeter was frustrating with every groundout or GIDP to a middle infielder, I’m hoping 2011 is truly a fresh start.  Jeter’s been my idol growing up, as I started to really follow the team in 96, when I was 7.  One thing he has always done was address his flaws, so let’s hope he gains some range back at short, and quickens up the wrist, as his bat speed tended to drag through the zone this year, resulting in all of the groundouts, or weak tappers.

So, to get down to the bare bones of it, what’s my prediction on the Jeter contract?  I honestly don’t want to put a figure on it.  It’s not money out of my pocket, as many fans have worried that the team would be overpaying.  So what.  Derek Jeter is the face of the Yankees.  He’s been clean his entire career in an era tainted with sryinges and Supreme Court hearings.

If I’m Brian Cashman or either of the Steinbrenner’s, I hand Derek a blank check, knowing that he will make the right decision for both the franchise and himself.

(Getty Images)

Yanks ink Girardi and his Binder for 3 More Years

October 28, 2010 2 comments

Today the Yankees officially announced that manager Joe Girardi and the team have come to terms on a 3-yr, $9 million deal.  Girardi’s binder still has a prominent place on his desk and in the dugout for 2011 and beyond.

The Associated Press confirms that Girardi can earn $500,000 bonuses based on team performances.

Girardi has been suspect to drawing heat from fans and the media after a few questionable moves this postseason, in which the Yankees lost in six games to the Texas Rangers.

Personally, I agree with bringing Girardi back.  I’m not going to judge the Yankees manager based on the last two weeks, I think you have to survey his three years as the manager, which resulted in two playoff appearances and one World Series ring.  He wasn’t the reason they were ousted against Texas.

Replacing Girardi really seemed like more of a hassle, and I still feel like he’s the right man for the job.  Discounting Joel Sherman’s opinion that Girardi is “deceitful” towards the media, I feel like Girardi has a good wrap with the beat writers, based on post-game interviews followed by reading their articles the next morning.

More importantly, I feel like Girardi is on the same page as Brian Cashman and the front office.  They all share the same view and plans for the young stars, as well as the treatment of the aging veterans.

Now that the position at the top is filled, there are plenty of issues to address with the Yankees roster, starting with contract negotiations with the Captain.  With one order of business finished now that Girardi remains the skipper, the free agent frenzy can commence with everyone making moves on the same page.

I thought I’d share this, as the binder’s a recent follower of mine on Twitter:

Cheap Seats

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night, Berkman made his way over to the same warning track in foul territory that he slipped on earlier in the game. This time, wearing metal spikes, caught the pop-up to end the game after Mariano Rivera came in for three outs to end Game 5 and force a Game 6 Friday night.

I glanced to my left to give high fives all around, yelling out WE’RE GOIN TO TEXAS, BABY!  Rudy Giuliani passed me by, and then Mayor Bloomberg followed suit, exiting into a cavern on the other side of the moat in front of section 121a.

Wait, what?

Somehow, I ended up with a ticket to last night’s game.  It was my first Yankee playoff game.  I had been looking to go Tuesday night for around $100-$125 and sit somewhere without an obstructed view.  Not only was it my first playoff game, it was my first time in one of the Legends Suites at the new stadium, in Section 121a, 20 rows behind home plate.

I got a text from my father around 12:15 yesterday afternoon, asking if I wanted to go.  It was an easy decision to leave early from my 1pm class to get ready and be on my way with my step-brother Will and two of his friends to the Bronx.

Whatever Girardi said to the team after Game 4 worked, because we know that the Yankees beat the Rangers in a very one-sided game with a final score of 7-2.  Swisher, Cano, and Granderson hit solo shots, after Posada chugged a run in after two errant throws and the Yankees never looked back.  Sabathia worked in and out of trouble, allowing 11 hits in 6 innings but only giving up two runs.  He performed like a true ace, as he led his team to victory while their backs were up against the wall.

While every Yankee blog and beat reporter has a full game story posted, I figured this was my chance to share my thoughts on the Legends seats.

First off, they’re not seats, they’re La-Z-Boys with tons of room.

Next, the view is unreal.  It’s one thing to stand behind the plate at a minor league stadium, but in the Bronx, it’s easily the best view in the house.  I’m used to squinting from the bleachers, so this was a nice change of scenery.

As far as the wait staff, we wound up waiting a while.  Agitation set in between innings as we noticed people around us were getting their orders before us, even though they ordered after us.  I didn’t mind because it wasn’t my chicken tenders that were late to our seats, I made way to my lucky stadium dinner, the BBQ chicken sandwich from the Southern BBQ stand in the leftfield corner.  Swisher and Cano hit back to back jacks while I was covered in BBQ sauce, so the trend continues that they score runs while I’m stuffing my face, unable to clap or stand to cheer.

I’ve long said that the Bleacher Creatures are the best fans to be around in the stadium, and I thought that the home plate seats were full of businessman who attended games as if it were the thing to do, not because of their love for the Yankees.  I was wrong.  These fans are into every pitch, and possess real baseball knowledge.  This whole time, I thought they were talking about politics and supply-demand graphs and charts.

Next up is another do or die game, just like Game 5 was.  This time, they’re back in Texas, and St. Phil takes the mound.  As long as the bats show up like they did last night and Phil doesn’t completely blow it, they’ll force a Game 7 and face some guy Lee… but Game 6 comes first, and every player wearing pinstripes knows that.

Here’s my video of Mo coming in for the 9th:

Categories: Game Recap, Playoffs
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