Friday, August 23, 2013

Braun Says He's Sorry...Really?

Milwaukee Brewers suspended outfielder Ryan Braun decided to publicly apologize and "come clean" Thursday afternoon about his performance enhancing drug use. Did he really? Here is an excerpt from Braun's statement.
"Here is what happened.  During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation.  It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately."
Notice that not once did Braun use the words steroids, HGH, or PEDs. A "cream and a lozenge" doesn't cut it. This is atypical behavior of PED users when they get caught. It's not noble to say I was trying to help my team by coming back quicker. (Yes, that includes Andy Pettitte.)

Braun injured more than just the public trust with his defamation of specimen collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. Braun went on a full court press attack of Laurenzi, and sought the aid of teammates and other MLB players to help do so. If the amount of evidence against Alex Rodriguez truly warrants a 200+ game suspension, than Braun should have gotten a full season rather than just 65 games.

If Ryan Dempster can get a slap on the wrist for throwing at A-Rod, than Mr. Laurenzi should be allowed to feed a pitching machine that fires 95-mph fastballs at Braun. It's likely Braun would get hit in the back since I don't think he has the guts to face Mr. Laurenzi.

And if Braun is truly sorry than he should give back his NL MVP Award.

Below is Braun's full statement

"Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended.  I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.  I have disappointed the people closest to me - the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone.

For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. 
It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents, and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am for that. Here is what happened.

During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation.  It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong.  I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality.  I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.

For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done.  I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of-and the punishment for-my actions.

I requested a second meeting with Baseball to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected- my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB.

There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.  I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.

I understand it’s a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players.  When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down.  I will never make the same errors again and  I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don’t repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.

I support baseball’s Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game.  What I did goes against everything I have always valued- achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field.  I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people's trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers' organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity.  I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yankees Loss of Nix Hurts More Than You Think

There have been a number of players over the years described as scrappy, pesky, or a "real gamer". Sometimes those terms have been used so often, such as describing David Eckstein, that it annoyed fans. It really is said to mean said player does more with less. (Which could  kind of sound like a slight to the player.)

Teams like to include those types of players on their rosters. Guys like Phil Garner, who would run through walls to help his team win a game. Jayson Nix is that type of player and when the Yankees lost him for the season with a broken hand Wednesday night they lost some attitude and grit in their clubhouse.

Don't go quoting Nix's OPS to me to belittle him. Nix is the kind of player whose game isn't necessarily reflected in box scores. His best asset is his versatility; he can play second base, shortstop, and third base. He's also played 22 games in the outfield, mostly on an emergency basis.

Nix has good speed and picks the right times to swipe a base. He was successful in 13 of 14 stolen base attempts this season and is 35 of 44 (79.5%) lifetime. Nix has decent power for a utility infielder - .358 lifetime slugging pct. - and has topped double figures in home runs three times in his MLB career.

Unfortunately for Nix his inability to get on base enough keeps him from seeing more action. His best game as a Yankee might have been the next to last game he evey played for them. In Tuesday night's come from behind win against the Toronto Blue Jays, Nix tied the game in the 7th inning with a solo home run and then provided a walk off single in the bottom of the 9th. (He also went 1-2 with two walks and two runs scored in the day portion of Tuesday night's day/night twinbill.

Nix got to the plate just once against Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Wednesday night. Unfortunately it wasn’t a softer knuckleball, but an 80-mph fastball that bore in on Nix, leaving him and his left hand no room to escape. He stayed in the game, but only momentarily before he told first base coach Mick Kelleher that he was in pain. Nix's hand appeared to be already swollen when television cameras zoomed in for a closer look.

Ironically, Nix probably would have been out of a job in the next week with Derek Jeter starting another rehab assignment with Scranton on Thursday evening. If he heals properly Nix would be able to rejoin the Yankees after the MLB rosters expand on September 1. Until then you'll just have to hold your breath every time a ball is hit to Eduardo Nunez or Mark Reynolds on the left side of the infield.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ichiro the Artist Collects 4,000th Career Hit

Earlier Wednesday afternoon Michael Kay wondered aloud on his radio show if anyone cared about Ichiro Suzuki reaching 4,000 career hits. How could we not? It doesn't matter that it occurred in two different countries. It's an incredible achievement.

The achievement occurred earlier this evening at Yankee Stadium in Ichiro's first at-bat of the night. Facing Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Ichiro waved his magic wand and slapped a single past third baseman Brett Lawrie into left field.

As the fans gave him a standing ovation and a plethora of photographers clicked away, Ichiro's teammates came out to congratulate him.No player may have been more excited than Toronto infielder, fellow countryman and Ichiro's teammate in Seattle last year, Munenori Kawasaki. In reaching the milestone, Ichiro joined Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only players to eclipse 4,000 hits.

Ichiro started his professional career with the Orix Blue Wave in 1992 and remained there until he joined the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2001 season. The Mariners dealt the pending free agent to the Yankees at the 2012 deadline and then he re-upped with NY in the off-season.

No matter where Ichiro has played, his game is one of artistry. He runs with the grace of a young Baryshnikov while wielding a bat like a master swordsman. He doesn't get as many hits as he did when he was younger; when he seemingly got hits at will.  How could anyone hit when they moved both feet like Astaire while swinging the bat? No one else has been able to do it.

He has lost a step, but can still out run players nearly half his age. The rifle for an arm isn't quite what it used to be, but he can still run down any ball and make it look easy. (He made a sliding catch in tonight's game.) Instead of stealing bases at will, he picks his spots and is still successful. (He entered Wednesday's game with 18 steals in 21 attempts.)

In a word, Ichiro's career is legendary.

Dempster's Miniscule Punishment Will Only Serve To Cause Animosity

Boston’s Ryan Dempster threw four straight pitches at Alex Rodriguez Sunday night before he finally hit him with a pitch. Home plate umpire Brian O'Nora incorrectly waited until the aftermath to warn both teams. Joe Girardi flipped out and got tossed from the game.

Yesterday, Major League Baseball mishandled things again. While Girardi was fined as expected, Dempster was given just a five game suspension. With two off days this week, the penalty means nothing to the Red Sox, who will push Dempster’s next start from Saturday to Tuesday.  Dempster, meanwhile, could have shown a set had he admitted what he had done, but instead spouted the usual jibberish.
“I thought about appealing. But at the end of the day, Major League Baseball does a really good job of thinking through punishments before they hand them out,” Dempster said before the Red Sox played the Giants. “I just thought it was in the best interests of us as a team to go ahead and serve my suspension.”1
I believe that Joe Torre, MLB's disciplinarian that handed out the suspension, would have had Dempster sit longer if not for a directive from commissioner Bud Selig or veep Rpb Manfred.

ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted this morning that suspensions for retaliations are usually five games and blatant head hunting will get you a 10 game ban. Dempster's actions should have fallen in between since it was clearly a premeditated act.2

The suspension also lends credence to the defense’s theory that MLB is “out to get” A-Rod and make an example of him. Whether or not it's true, any speculation would have been avoided had MLB merely given Dempster a 7-8 game suspension. I do disagree with people like the NY Post’s Kevin Kernan, however, who felt the ruling meant “open season” on A-Rod.3 Other pitchers would be idiots to put their own teammates in jeopardy; especially since the majority of them have certainly played with a PED player at one time in their career.

The ruling will also add fuel to an already burning fire that could get out of hand when the Yankees and Red Sox meet  in New York for a four game series beginning September 5. The two teams face each other again the following week at Fenway Park (Sept. 13-15). David Ortiz, a likely candidate for retaliation can thank his teammate should he get hit and possibly injured.

Sunday night’s Yankees starter CC Sabathia openly expressed his disappoint to the five game penalty when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

"I thought he at least should miss a start and he's not going to do that, so I don't think it does anything. You don't throw at a guy four times. He violated every code in every way."4

1 - Boston Globe
2 - Buster Olney, Twitter
3 - NY Post
4 - Newsday

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Come Hell or High Contract, Yankees Need to Sign Cano

He's Robbie Cano, don'tcha know...and he wants some big cash this coming off-season. And while he says he wants to stay a Yankee, will the Yankees give him what he wants in the $ and years departments?

The Yankees gave it to Alex Rodriguez...bad example. They came through for CC Sabathia...somewhat bad example. When A-Rod opted out of his contract during the 2007 post-season (he really does need to think things through more and so do his "people"), the Yankees had no competition to give him a new long term deal. Of course, they bid against themselves and doled out even more money than originally intended.

There was no way they were going to let CC get away and he didn't want to go anywhere. If he had, he would have found suitors ready to pony up big money.

The Yankees need to act fast with Cano, because there's a bitter old rival on the west coast that will gladly throw all kinds of big money at him. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been spending money like it's going out of style and they will attempt to again this off-season when Cano becomes a free agent.

As much as I hate long term contracts - in my opinion every day players should get seven years tops and pitchers should get five - the Yankees may just need to give their prized second baseman what he wants. The best, most reliable, youngest good bat in the lineup belongs to Cano. He is the guy the Yankees count on most and will again next year if they re-sign him. You can look at Tuesday afternoon's opener of a day-night double dip for the reason why.

With some bad pitches, some bad luck, and some sloppy play, the Yankees fell behind the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 in the 2nd inning. One frame later though, Cano strode to the plate with two aboard and got the Yankees right back in the game with his 23rd home run of the season and the 200th of his career.

Chris Stewart shocked the world when he hit a 3-run blast of his own in the 6th to put the Yankees up 6-4 and then there was Cano again in the 7th with an RBI for some insurance.  Starter Ivan Nova settled down, the pen was effective and efficient and the Yankees had themselves an 8-4 win.

Cano was 4-4 with 4 RBI in the crucial #3 spot in the batting order. He deservedly gets knocked for not always running hard out of the batter's box, but he's smooth as glass defensively and turns a double play quickly and with remarkable grace. He's hitting over .300 this year with 23 HR and 81 RBI (He added an RBI in the nightcap) with virtually no protection in the lineup. Cano entered Tuesday's play with an .882 OPS and has also stolen seven bases (one shy of his career high) in eight attempts. 

No one else on the team can do all the things Cano can do. With a mediocre free agent market and the minor league system not expected to send help until the latter half of 2014, the Yankees will need to sign on the dotted line of a big contract for Robinson Cano.

Tacopina's Magical Mystery Tour

Don't be fooled by the title; Joseph Tacopina is not the 5th, 6th, or 7th Beatle. He's more akin to P.T. Barnum with a Ph.D. in spin doctoring.

Alex Rodriguez's heavy legal hitter continued his version of a p.r. tour that began with another of A-Rod esquires, Don Cornwell, talking about appeals. There hasn't been a 1-2 punch in a lineup like this since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

The biggest sideshow was when Tacopina stopped by the Today Show Monday morning only to be met by some unexpected news from NBC's Matt Lauer. (You can see a copy of it here.)

Tacopina has said all along he could not discuss specifics of the case due to the Joint Drug Agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' union. But MLB Vice-President Rob Manfred sent a letter to the Today show stating MLB was willing to drop their part of the confidentiality agreement in order to allow Tacopina to discuss A-Rod's involvement with Tony Bosch, Victor Conte, and Anthony Galea.

Tacopina was not amused and characterized MLB's move as a "publicity stunt". I guess it takes a publicity stunt to know a publicity stunt. He told the following to the New York Daily News:
"I will make Manfred a deal if he, in writing, waives the confidentiality clause, and agrees that it would not be a breach of the confidentiality clause, if he allows us to discuss exactly what he wants us to discuss, including the testing result, including the specifics of the tests, the results, we would be happy to discuss it. It would be my pleasure to discuss it. I would love to discuss it. But the minute I discuss it, I'm in violation of the confidentiality clause of the JDA," Tacopina said.1
Manfred responded to the NYDN:
"While we believe that your public comments are already in breach of the confidentiality provisions of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (the "Program"), we will agree to waive those provisions as they apply to both Rodriguez and the Office of Commissioner of Baseball with respect to Rodriguez's entire history under the Program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the Program, and all information and evidence relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch, Anthony Galea and Victor Conte. Specifically, both Rodriguez and the Office of the Commissioner will be permitted to publicly disclose information and documents relating to: 
"1. their results; 2. All drug tests that were conducted on Rodriguez under the Program and All prior violations of the Program committed by Rodriguez; 3. All documents, records, communications, text messages, and instant messages relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch; 4. All documents relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Galea and Victor Conte; and 5. All documents relating to the issue of whether Rodriguez obstructed the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."
In the meantime, Tacopina continues to hammer away at the Yankees and their medical staff, claiming they let A-Rod play last post-season with a badly injured hip. It's part of Tacopina's attack against the Yankees and MLB that they are attempting to get A-Rod out of baseball and void his contract.
“This MRI was taken on Oct. 11, 2012, after Game 4 of the Baltimore series [and] before the Detroit series. What it indicated, what it showed, is that Alex Rodriguez had a hole in his left hip, a torn labrum. He went on to play in the Detroit series, obviously didn’t play well, was benched, (sic) was made a scapegoat. Nobody told Alex Rodriguez that he had a hole in his left hip -- nobody. It wasn’t until after the season was done that he went to his own doctor,” Tacopina said. 
“I don’t understand the motivation behind that,” Tacopina said. “But the New York Yankees’ doctor, Dr. [Christopher] Ahmad, did this MRI. The report is here. The visual images are in your possession. Brian Cashman can’t say it didn’t happen until the offseason. Obviously, the general manager of this team must have known when this MRI was taken.”

“If he had a hole in his hip he shouldn’t have been walking, much less playing baseball. And believe me, we know that Joe Girardi didn’t know that. But either Ahmad, Randy Levine or Brian Cashman knew about that MRI result ... and the one person it wasn’t shared with, and I don’t understand for the life of me how they didn’t share that with Alex Rodriguez.”2

Tacopina's ultimate goal is get A-Rod's suspension down to zero. In the meantime we all have to endure the headache.

1 - New York Daily News

2 -

Meanwell Isn't Well Meaning Towards Cashman

Whenever there are sticky situations with people involving money and/or notoriety, you can always count on some hanger-ons trying to get a piece of the action and/or their 15 minutes of fame. Like that cousin you never heard of until you won the lottery. (No, I am NOT speaking from experience.)

Kato Kaelin, Howard K. Stern, Joe the Plumber and others are just some of those people who were able to soak up the limelight for a while.

The New York Post's Rebecca Rosenberg and Jeane MacIntosh report that Brian Cashman's alleged ex-mistress Louise Meanwell can be added to that list. Meanwell...the name just makes you shake your head and laugh...obviously has an axe to grind and she's going to try to grind it into Cashman's back.

Meanwell, who also goes by the name Neathway, was charged with extortion for the $6k she collected after she threatened to divulge her relationship with the then married Cashman, and for trying to get an additional $15K. She's also been charged with harassment, stalking, theft, and perjury. Kind of like hitting for the cycle, no?

So you may be asking yourself, "Does this have anything to do with Alex Rodriguez?"

Bingo. Meanwell claims that Cashman knew about PED use on the Yankees, but he had a “win at any cost attitude” and was “ambivalent’’ to drug use “so long as nothing came back to the Yankee organization.

Cashman isn't the only one Meanwell is pissed at though. Add Joseph Tacopina to that list. Yes, one of the bevy of A-Rod’s lawyers.  Meanwell has been represented by Stephen Turano, one of Tacopina's partners and claims there is a conflict of interest in the firm. She's angry that Tacopina did not seek her permission (say what?) before taking on A-Rod as a client.

Her current lawyer (why does she have as many as A-Rod?), Peter Gleason, blasted Tacopina and his partners for how the situation was handled.
“You don’t drop a blue-collar client, who has paid a considerable amount of money, for a marquis client coming down the pipe unless you get informed consent,” Gleason said. Tacopina's response was that Meanwell hired Turano's separate New Jersey based firm not Tacopina's New York based office.1
When does Bravo pick this up as a reality show?

1 -

Monday, August 19, 2013

All Braun and No Brain

"My name is Ryan Braun and I am a liar."

Still think Ryan Braun should only have a 65 game suspension? You might change your mind shortly. While everyone is coming down on Alex Rodriguez, there's more and more proof that Braun is a complete dirtbag.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has reported that Braun told several MLB stars that the man (Dino Laurenzi Jr.) who collected his urine was an anti-Semite (Braun is Jewish if you don’t know) and a Chicago Cubs fan  in attempt to ruin the man's reputation. (The latter assertion is laughable.) 1

Among those contacted by Braun, as first reported by, was LA Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, whom Braun had cheated out of the NL MVP Award, Cincy Reds first baseman Joey Votto, and Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The players took Braun's word as gospel.

A source close to Laurenzi said that the anti-Semitic allegation is untrue, but could not clarify what team Laurenzi was a fan of, as if that even mattered.

Kemp has already spoken about the issue and told media members that he felt "betrayed" and was “disappointed."

Passan also reported that Braun was in the process of calling the players up to apologize. It is not known if Braun has spoken to Laurenzi, but what good would it do anyway? Laurenzi should sue Braun for everything he's worth, but even that won't help restore Mr. Laurenzi's reputation.

1 - Yahoo Sports

Yankees Prevail As Dempster Takes His Game Into The Dumpster

The New York Yankees - Boston Red Sox game last night could have been simply played like a normal baseball game between the longtime rivals. The fans would have booed Alex Rodriguez unmercifully, which isn't any different than any other time A-Rod played in Boston, and a winner would emerge after the usual four hour contest.

Except that Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster decided to make the moment and the game his own personal statement against A-Rod. In the end, the Yankees got payback at Dempster's actions and won the game, but home plate umpire Brian O'Nora handled things poorly and Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected as a result.

The best result of the night for the Yankees was the final score - Yankees 9 Red Sox 6. It was the third straight series win for the Pinstripes, who have won 7 of 10 since they were swept in a three game series with the Chicago White Sox.

The 2nd inning set the tone for the night when A-Rod stepped to the plate for the first time. Dempster, a onetime player rep who helped decide how PED suspensions and appeals would be handled, threw his first pitch behind A-Rod legs. The next two pitches missed their target - A-Rod, not the plate - and were inside and tight. Finally, Dempster's 3-0 delivery hit A-Rod in the back below his armpit.

That's when O'Nora made a mess of the entire situation. Instead of tossing Dempster for the obvious intent of the entire at-bat, he warned both benches. Girardi shot out of the dugout faster than he's run since he legged out that famous triple in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series.

Every vein in Girardi’s neck and head looked ready to burst as he screamed at O'Nora for his actions, or more precisely, inaction. O'Nora ejected him, but not before Girardi called Dempster another word for a cat.

A-Rod stood quietly alongside first base coach Mick Kelleher as both benches emptied, but no altercations took place. Girardi was still furious after the game ended. He told the YES Network:

"Ryan Dempster has hit six guys in his last 320 innings. He throws the first pitch behind him, intentional. He threw the next one inside, he didn't hit him...intentional. At some point Brian O'Nora has to give him a warning and he should have thrown him out of the game. It's the bottom line.

Everyone knows it was intentional and I don't know understand why he's left in the game, and then to give us a warning...You know Brian and I have a long history together. Back in 'A' ball, Double-A, and I respect him, but that was wrong.

You know the one thing you can't do is start changing the system, because maybe you don't like it. Ryan Dempster has been a player rep and he's been very involved in the union, and he knows this is what they decided to do. So you can't change it and take your potshots, and you'd have to have your head in the sand with the comments coming from the other side not to know that something might be happen.

So, I thought it was handled very poorly and I was upset about yesterday, because calls went against us that changed the complexion of the game. Then you have's just flat wrong."

The complete interview:

Jerry Seinfeld once said the best revenge was "living well." In baseball, it's hitting a home run and knocking the pitcher out of the game. Down 6-3 in the 6th, A-Rod crushed a Dempster delivery into the centerfield stands. As he rounded first, A-Rod loudly clapped his hands and pointed both arms skyward when he reached home plate.

The blast fired up his teammates, who then took control of the game. Eduardo Nunez and Lyle Overbay reached on one-out singles and Dempster was pulled after he walked light hitting Chris Stewart to load the bases. Drake Britton came on and Brett Gardner introduced himself by ripping a ball to the deepest part of right-center field. Pinch-runner Jayson Nix, Overbay, and Stewart all crossed home plate as Gardner raced to third with a triple that gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead.

Mark Reynolds and Stewart added tack on RBI singles and Mariano Rivera got out of a two-out, two-on jam in the 9th when he got Jarrod Saltalamacchia to line out to left.

A-Rod was obviously upset after the game when YES asked him, "Joe said that should have been handled differently. The first pitch behind you should have been a warning and when you got hit he should have been tossed. Do you feel the same way?"

"Yeah I agree. That was..whether you like me or hate me, what's wrong is wrong and that was unprofessional and silly. And kind of a silly way to get someone on your team hurt as well.

YES: "Considering how many players have spoken out about you playing during your suspension, are you concerned about this at all moving forward?"

"I'm not at all. You know we um, that today brought us together. Joe's reaction was amazing. Every one of my teammates said "hit a bomb and walk it off. They were pissed as I was. That's just not right."

There was a light moment when a reporter asked if Dempster should be suspended. A-Rod and the media laughed when he responded, "You're the asking the wrong guy about a suspension. I got an attorney I can recommend."

The complete interview:

And so it will continue to go.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TJ Quinn: A-Rod Paid For Bosch Attorney's T.J. Quinn continued his fine investigative reporting tonight with a story he broke a short time ago. According to Quinn, Alex Rodriguez paid for Biogenesis head Tony Bosch's attorney and later wired $50K that the attorney would not accept.

One of A-Rod's former attorneys described the latter transfer as "a mistake", but it is reportedly part of Major League Baseball's pile of evidence about A-Rod. Here is an excerpt of Quinn's story:
A spokesperson for Bosch attorney Susy Ribero-Ayala said in a statement to "Outside the Lines" on Sunday that Rodriguez, currently appealing a 211-game suspension from MLB, paid her a $25,000 retainer to defend Bosch in February. Bosch was the founder of the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., at the center of the league's ongoing drug scandal. "A retainer was paid (via wire transfer) by a representative of Alex Rodriquez (sic). Ms. Ribero-Ayala accepted this payment on behalf of Anthony Bosch as payment for his legal representation," the statement says.
"In April 2013, Ms. Ribero-Ayala received an unsolicited and unwarranted wire transfer from A-Rod Corp. The funds were immediately returned. Mr. Rodriquez (sic) does not have any involvement in Mr. Bosch's legal representation." According to documents seen by "Outside the Lines," the amount of the second transfer was for nearly $50,000, minus transfer fees.
The documents also show that Ribero-Ayala and Jared Lopez, a partner with Roy Black's law firm in Miami, exchanged emails discussing the wire transfer. Black's firm was representing Rodriguez at the time. 
According to the document, Ribero-Ayala said she had received the money and was unaware of any reason for it. Lopez responded that the money had been sent in error, and he asked that it be returned. It was.Black's firm no longer represents Rodriguez, and Lopez could not be reached Sunday night. The documents and the statement from Ribero-Ayala's office appear to contradict earlier reports that Bosch sought to "shake down" Rodriguez for money before agreeing to cooperate with MLB's investigation in June. 
Instead, several sources familiar with the case said, investigators have said they believe Rodriguez paid for Bosch's attorney and sent the second payment in order to prevent him from providing evidence or testimony against Rodriguez.1
The outcome of this soap opera has a long way to go and got emotionally charged Sunday night when Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster hit A-Rod with a pitch after throwing behind his legs and two other pitches inside and tight. Joe Girardi was ejected for arguing after home plate umpire Brian O'Nora ignored the obvious intent of the pitches and warned both benches. A-Rod got a measure of revenge later in the game when he hit a solo home run off of Dempster.

1 -

In This Corner Wearing the 3 Piece Suit, Joseph Tacopina

The heavyweight championship of Major League Baseball is getting more contentious by the minute. Alex Rodriguez's number one defense attorney started throwing hay-makers on Saturday when he accused the Yankees of forcing his client to play last season while hurt.

Tacopina went as far as to say that Yankees team vice president Randy Levine told A-Rod's hip surgeon Bryan Kelly, “I don’t want ever want to see him on the field again." He also stated that the Yankees and Major League Baseball have conspired to rid the game of A-Rod and the $86MM that remains on his contract. 1

Needless to say the Yankees fired back with Levine, an attorney himself, telling the Star Ledger's Andy McCullough that the charges were "completely fictitious, false, and specious" and that Tacopina's approach was "out of touch and reckless".

As for the accusation that the Yankees and MLB were in cahoots, Levine categorized it as a "completely stupid allegation".  He and the Yankees, with A-Rod's permission, are willing to show the third baseman's medical records and transcripts of phone calls with Dr. Kelly to the public to "show who is telling the truth." He also told McCullough that it was time for A-Rod to "put or shut up."

Levine also fired a shot across the bow when he said the only records the Yankees don't have are when A-Rod was treated by Toronto based physician Dr. Anthony Galea, who plead guilty two years ago to sending unapproved drugs to the US.

When queried after yesterday's game in Boston, A-Rod sidestepped the controversy and left it up to his attorneys. His manager, Joe Girardi, was clearly upset by the insinuation that he would put an unhealthy player on the field.   “I don’t ever want to ruin anyone’s career. That would break my heart.”

There will be a lot of heartache and headaches before this whole thing is over with.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mussina Makes One Hall of Fame

It took Mike Mussina until his final season to reach 20 wins in a single year, but the right-hander piled up 270 wins in an 18 year borderline Hall of Fame career spent with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. It's not borderline for the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame though.

The man called Moose was inducted Saturday evening for the team that was his minor league home in 1991. (Plus a couple of games in 1990.) The then-24-year old went 10-4, 2.87 in 19 starts and earned an August call up to the Baltimore Orioles.

This past Wednesday marked the 22nd anniversary of Mussina's first Major League win, an eight inning, 10 strikeout affair against the Texas Rangers. (Mussina's debut was a loss to Chicago despite 7.2 innings of one run, four-hit ball.) He finished the year 4-5, with the same 2.87 ERA.

Mussina's career was one of perseverance. He was drafted in the 11th round by the O's out of Montoursville High School in PA. Three years later the O's took him again, this time as the 20th overall pick out of Stanford University. He threw nine games between Double-A Hagerstown and Triple-A Rochester in his introduction to professional baseball. A year later he excelled for the Red Wings and never looked back.

Congratulations Moose!

Expanded Instant Replay Coming As Umps Continue to Blow....Calls

Expanded instant replay is coming to a baseball field near you in 2014. It's just unfortunate that it won't be here any sooner than that. Like tomorrow.

Major League umpires are getting worse by the minute, by the game, by the climate... Calls continue to be grossly missed and are impacting the outcome of games.

The Yankees were the victims twice on Saturday in their 6-1 loss to Boston. I'm not saying that the outcome would have been different, and the bad calls are happening to every team. (A blown tag up call that went against. the Angels helped the Yankees rout the Halos a few days ago.)

Alfonso Soriano was called out when he attempted to steal second base when he was clearly safe. Dustin Pedroia made a nice swipe tag, but umpire Fieldin Culbreth called him out despite being right on top of the play.

A more egregious call came with the Red Sox batting in the 4th inning. Already up 1-0 on a Lyle Overbay throwing error, the Red Sox had runners on first and second and pulled off a double steal. With switch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting from the left side, the Red Sox tried to take advantage of Alex Rodriguez playing off the bag at third.

Catcher Chris Stewart hit A-Rod in stride with his throw and the embattled third baseman brought the tag down on Mike Carp for a clear out. The only problem was third base umpire Bill Welke committed a double mistake. He was out of position and made the call on the run. Actually there were three mistakes; he called Carp safe.

If things played out as they did, Salty struck out, the inning would have been over and the score would have still been 1-0. Instead, Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury singled in runs for a 3-0 lead against Hiroki Kuroda.

As far as the expanded replay goes. Each manager will have one challenge in the first six innings and two more in the final three innings and any extra frames. The manager will not be allowed to argue a call that they plan to challenge. Like the NHL, there will be a command center with officials reviewing the play. MLB expects the process to take a one minute and 15 seconds, which is, at the very least, laughable.1

Managers will retain any challenge that is successful. Not all calls can be challenged - hit by pitch being one of them.

Finally, perhaps the people of Twitter are right; it's time for robot umpires. They couldn't be worse than Jerry Meals.

(Might want to let catchers throw the ball back to pitchers too  - )

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Soriano Smash, Reynolds Foils Bosox

The Yankees front office overruled GM Brian Cashman when Alfonso Soriano could be had from the Chicago Cubs for a young pitcher at this year's trade deadline. For a time it was a decent trade with Soriano providing much needed help against left-handed pitchers. For the last four games it has been an incredible trade.

The 37-year old has made like the Incredible Hulk and smashed baseballs and pitcher's egos at an alarming rate. The Boston Red Sox and starter Felix Doubront became the latest victims in the Yankees 10-3 win Friday night.

After he hit four home runs and drove in 13 runs in back to back games against the Los Angels, Banner Soriano had four hits and a one ribbie in the finale against the Halos. The Hulk was back for the opener of a three game series in Fenway Park. Soriano gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single and then broke open a 3-0 game with a 3-run home run in the 3rd inning.

It gave the left fielder 18 RBI in his last four games over which he has gone 13-18 (.722) Fellow Yankees Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Tony Lazzeri, and Jim Bottomley and Sammy Sosa are the only other players that have driven in 18 runs in four games. The hot streak has given Soriano a 1.021 OPS in 19 games since his acquisition.

Soriano wasn't the only right-handed hitter to do damage last night. Mark Reynolds, who hadn't hit a home run in his last 68 at-bats before his release by Cleveland, found the top of the Green Monster in his first at-bat as a Yankee. It turned a 1-0 game into a 3-0 game and the rout was on. Reynolds, who also drove in a run with a single in the 9th, became the 22nd different Yankee to a hit home run this year. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it tied the franchise record set by the 1965 and 2000 Yankees teams.

Andy Pettitte earned his 8th win with his best game in months. It would have been even better if Joe Girardi hadn't left him in the game too long. He allowed three unearned runs - Eduardo Nunez with yet another error on his resume - in 6.1 innings pitched. Pettitte scattered six hits, walked one, and struck out five.

Doubront had dominated the Yankees the prior two times he faced them this season, but was charged with six earned runs in just four innings of work.

Alex Rodriguez was booed as expected with an accompaniment of "You do steroids" chant. Needless to say it was hypocritical coming from fans that saw their team win two World Series with failed drug test veterans Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. A-Rod hit the ball sharply all night and reached base safely with two hits and a walk.

To make room on the roster for Reynolds, the Yankees demoted Preston Claiborne from the 25-man roster and designated Luis Cruz for assignment from the 40-man roster.

Mariano Rivera was prepared to enter the game in the 9th until the Yankees scored three times in the final frame. He had to get up in the pen again though when the Red Sox loaded the bases against Joba Chamberlain with two outs in the bottom of the 9th. David Huff made it unnecessary when he got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to Robinson Cano to end the game.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lackey Needs to Shut His Butt Ugly Face About A-Rod

If you know me at all or have read anything I've written on this blog, other sites, Facebook or Twitter, you know that I am no fan of Alex Rodriguez. I've felt that way for a number of pre-steroid years. Some players are just not likeable and A-Rod, to me, is one of those people. That being said, Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey needs to shut his butt ugly face.

Lackey, who is scheduled to face the A-Rod and the Yankees Saturday afternoon, told media members “I’ve got a problem with it (A-Rod playing). You bet I do. How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right. . It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him. “Sure, we talk about it,” he said. “But talking to the media about it is a little bit different. People have strong feelings." 
“He took me deep the first time I faced him as a rookie, and he admitted to doing stuff back then. There are a lot of things I want back from him.”1
Yes, I am sure A-Rod came right out and admitted to the opposition that he was using performance enhancing drugs.  Unless Lackey can say with 100% surety that he has never played with a PED user in his 11 year career with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox, he needs to keep his thoughts to himself. (He might want to note that David Ortiz, his teammate since 2011 failed a drug test in 2003, but it's been swept under the carpet because of Ortiz's popularity with fellow players, fans, and the media.)

As much as it might annoy people, A-Rod also has the right to play while he appeals his suspension. It's all part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that the players signed off on.

Also, how does Lackey know that it's "pretty evident he's been doing stuff?" There were no rumors early in the decade about A-Rod using PEDs. For that matter how do we know Lackey hasn't cheated. His career looked over, he had major surgery, and all of a sudden he looks like a stud again. Is it because of a Bartolo Colon cocktail or good health and hard work?

I personally don't think Lackey cheated his way back, but as a player who has been part of the steroid era, he should simply keep his mouth shut.

1 - Boston Globe

Phillies Fire Manuel, Hire Ryno

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows that the game of baseball is all about “what have you done for me lately?”. A World Series champion in 2008 and National League pennant winner in 2009, Manuel reportedly has been fired. The Phillies have a called a 2:30 pm EDT press conference. Reports have third base coach Ryne Sandberg as Manuel's replacement.

Manuel was the skipper for the Cleveland Indians from 2000 through the first 86 games of 2002. He led the Tribe to a division crown in 2001, but was fired a year later when the team was eight games under .500.
After a two year hiatus, Manuel took over the Phillies for the 2005 season. After two straight NL East runner-up finishes, Manuel led the Fightin' Phils to five straight division crowns. The 2008 squad won the first World Series for the first time since the 1980 team defeated Kansas City. The team lost the 2009 series to the Yankees in six games.

The Phillies won 102 games in 2011, but age, injuries, and bad contracts caught up with them. They finished in third place last year with a .500 record and are currently 53-67 and in fourth place in the NL East. The team's performance had led to speculation that the 69-year old Manuel would be let go at the end of the season.

Sandberg coached in the Chicago Cubs organization from 2007-2010, but was passed over for the manager's job when Lou Piniella retired toward the end of the 2010 season. He left the organization to join the Phillies, who had selected Sandberg in the 20th round of the 1978 MLB amateur draft. After one year he was dealt with veteran Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus. It was there he built a Hall of Fame career (inducted in 2005) before looking to become a Major League manager.

The 53-year old Sandberg managed the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs for two years before joining the big club as third base coach.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. could be the next to go after some questionable free agent signings and contract extensions the last few years.

60 Minutes: A-Rat Leaked Biogenesis Documents, Implicated Others

"I'll get you for this"
"Na Na Na"
60 Minutes, the long time CBS television news magazine, reported that Alex Rodriguez's closest cohorts obtained unredacted documents from the Biogenesis of America clinic and leaked the A-Rod-less contents to Yahoo Sports prior to the New York Times exposé earlier this year. The documents took aim at teammate Francisco Cervelli, the Brewers Ryan Braun, and others.

David Cornwell, the most vocal member of A-Rod's ever growing legal team, slammed the report.
“The allegations are untrue and are another attempt to harm Alex — this time by driving a wedge between Alex and other players in the game,” A-Rod’s lawyer, David Cornwell, said in a statement to “60 Minutes.” “While Alex focuses on baseball and repeatedly states that he is going to respect the appeal process, the drumbeat of false allegations continues.”1
The no round limit heavyweight fight continues.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

It's a Wrap - Yankees Sign Reynolds

The ball is ticketed for the catcher's mitt or the left field fence.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman the Yankees have signed the all or nothing Mark Reynolds to share first base with Lyle Overbay, fill in some for Alex Rodriguez at third base (Reynolds is an awful third baseman), do some DH'ing, hit some home runs and strike out a lot.1

Reynolds burst on to the scene in 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks when he hit 28 home runs and struck out 204 times. He topped both the totals the following season when he banged out 44 home runs and struck out a ridiculous 223 times.

More of the same followed after he was dealt to Baltimore prior to the 2011 season. Reynold's OPS made up for his strikeout totals during the 2007-2012 stretch, but he went downhill this season with the Cleveland Indians.

A .215/.307/.373 slash line meant Reynolds was not going to finish out the one year free agent contract he signed with the Tribe this past off-season. He was even worse since the beginning of June, posting a paltry .484 OPS. The Yankees hope that he can help against left-handers, since the right-handed hitter had a .745 OPS against them.

Yes, this is the move of a desperate Brian Cashman, just as most of the Yankees moves have been this year.

No corresponding 25- or 40-man roster move has been made yet though it's likely that either Luis Cruiz (sprained right knee), Travis Hafner (strained right rotator cuff), or Zoilo Almonte (sprained left ankle) could be moved from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.

A bigger question is where does Reynolds fit on the 25-man roster. Jayson Nix is a hard nosed, scrappy player, but his .591 OPS makes him expendable. Otherwise the Yankees would have to reduce their pitching staff from 13 to 12, probably at the expense of Preston Claiborne or David Huff, who was just recalled earlier on Thursday.

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Betances Demoted in a Huff

Dellin Betances struggled as a starting pitcher in the Yankees organization so it was decided he would become a reliever. The improvement was drastic and it earned a promotion to the big club. Unfortunately, a four run 9th inning against the Angels Tuesday night earned him a trip back to Scranton Thursday.

The Yankees recalled left-hander David Huff, a waiver acquisition from the Cleveland Indians in May. Huff had one poor inning with the Bombers - a run, hit, and two walks - before he was sent to the RailRiders. Since his demotion, Huff has started in 12 of his 13 appearances for the International League franchise. He had a 1-6 record despite a decent 3.84 ERA. He also struck out 8.5 batters per 9 innings, but gave up more than a hit an inning.

To make room on the 40 man roster, David Phelps was moved from the 15- to 60-day disabled list. Phelps was in the midst of rehabbing a sore forearm. He's had a setback and it's possible he may not pitch again this season. He's not eligible to be activated until the first week of September.

Alfonso Soriano's Beat Down of the Angels

Yankees fans who watched Alfonso Soriano embark on a promising career his first time around with the team hoped to see some of the same excitement when the 37-yr old return at this year's trade deadline. Soriano obliged on Tuesday and Wednesday when he knocked in a ridiculous 13 RBI in two games vs. the Los Angeles Angels.

In Tuesday night's 14-7 Yankees win, Soriano hit a 2-run home run in the 5th inning, added an RBI single, and then iced the cake with a 3-run blast in the 7th. The six RBI were a career high for the native of the Dominican Republic. That career high lasted all  of one day.

Wednesday's 9-3 shellacking of Jered Weaver and the Angels saw Soriano reach a new height. It began with a grand slam in the bottom of the first after Weaver had retired the first two batters he faced. But the first hit of Robinson Cano's 4-4 night, a double by Alex Rodriguez and a walk to Curtis Granderson walk set the stage for the left fielder.

He added a 2-run double an inning later and led off the 5th inning with a solo home run. He was a combined 6-9 with four home runs, a double, and even a walk in the last two games of the four games series. (Concludes with a 1:05 PM EDT start on Thursday.) The hot streak pumped up Soriano's Yankees' OPS to .858 and his slugging to .606 since his return on August 2.

The grand salami was the fifth of Soriano's career and landed in Monument Park. It was his first bases loaded whack with the Yankees since he hit a pair in the 2003 season. The 13 RBI in two consecutive games are the second highest total in franchise history. Hall of Fame second baseman Tony Lazzeri had 15 RBI with an American League record 11 in one game.

Ivan Nova appreciated some run support for a change on a night he didn't have his best stuff. He still managed to go 7.1 innings and lowered his ERA to 2.99 to go along with a 6-4 record. He's allowed 11 earned runs over 52.1 innings in his last seven starts (1.90 ERA) and is, in effect, the Yankees number two starter right now.

A-Rod finished the night 1-4 and is 8-31 with a slash line of .258/.343/.419. He's hit one home run, driven in four runs, and scored three, and has been pretty solid defensively. The mixed response from the crowd has been no different so far and will be nothing compared to what A-Rod will experience this weekend in Boston.

Derek Jeter took part in some drills on Wednesday and will fly down to Tampa today (Thursday) to continue his rehab from a calf injury. He's eligibile, but won't be activated for the Red Sox series.

How Not to Intentionally Walk a Batter

The Eastern League saw a rarity occur Tuesday night in a 7-inning make up game between the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) and the New Britain Rock Cats (Twins).  With the game tied at five apiece, the Rock Cats put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs.

With a base open, Fisher Cats manager Gary Allenson decided to intentionally walk Reynaldo Rodriguez to set up a force at any base.  One little problem with that scenario - pitcher Alan Farina threw a ball that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could not have caught if he were catching. The walk off wild pitch. (toh to Big League Stew)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

MLB's Poor Umpiring Helps Yankees Blast Halos

The cry for instant replay is going to reach a crescendo sooner rather than later. With a 162 game regular season schedule we've witnessed many mistakes by the men in blue year in and year out. It's affected the biggest stage as well during the post-season.

While it may not cost a team a post-season series, it could help decide who reaches the post-season. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels are two teams battling to stay above water, so when a call possibly costs them a game, you bet plenty of people stand up and take notice.

Last week in Chicago, home plate umpire Alan Porter erroneously called Brett Gardner out at the plate when he was clearly safe. The "erased" run helped cost the Yankees the game. Tuesday night's contest with the Angels saw the wrong call go in the Yankees favor. Chris Nelson, who spent a few weeks in a Yankees uniform this season, was on third base for Los Angeles with one out in the 6th inning and the Yankees clinging to a 4-3 lead.

Tommy Field lifted a fly ball to left that enabled Nelson to race home ahead of Alfonso Soriano's throw to tie the game at 4-4. Or did it? Catcher Austin Romine threw the ball to Jayson Nix at third and home plate umpire David Rackley called Nelson out. Needless to say Angels manager Mike Scioscia went ballistic. Replays showed that Nelson did not leave third base early - his foot was still on the base when the ball landed in Soriano's glove.

It was Rackley's responsibility to watch Nelson since the third base umpire, Brian Gorman, had to make sure the ball was caught. So standing 90 feet away Rackley determined that Nelson left before the ball was caught which allowed the Yankees to record a double play rather than make an appeal.

Instead of a tie game and lead off hitter J.B. Shuck coming to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs, the inning was over with the Yankees still in the lead. It enabled CC Sabathia to stay in the ball game and pick up his 10th win of the season. The Yankees also had their biggest offensive explosion in what seemed like a decade and held on for a 14-7 win.

Alfonso Soriano had his first big game back in pinstripes with a pair of home runs and a career high six RBI. Alex Rodriguez ripped a 2-run double to the base of the wall in left, Vernon Wells homered for the first time since May, and Eduard Nunez had four ribbies.

It was an odd game to say the least. Sabathia only allowed three hits, but walked six hitters. He also struck out seven so there was plenty of "no contact baseball" when he was in there. The double digit win total made Sabathia just the fifth pitcher since 1900 to win 10 or more games in their first 13 seasons. The others are Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Eddie Plank, and Carl Hubbell.1

The game was held up by rain for 26 minutes with two outs in the top of the 8th inning. When play resumed Dellin Betances struck out rookie Grant Green with a 97-mph fastball to end the inning. Unfortunately, Betances didn't have the same good fortune in the 9th inning when he was tagged for four runs after he struck out Chris Iannetta to start the frame. Joba Chamberlain came on to record the final two outs - a seven run lead may be the only time Joba is trusted now.

1 - Elias Sports Bureau