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Posts Tagged ‘Derek Jeter’

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT Ross MacCallum

In MEDIA SOUND BITES Leonard Shapiro on July 13, 2011 at 4:09 pm

When Bud Selig and the big boys at MLB feel compelled to remind you that 79 of 84 players chosen to be All-Stars had actually shown up for the Mid-Summer Classic in Arizona, you know there had to be some raw nerves exposed by the decision of some well known Yankees to miss the event.

Two of the five who skipped the trip to Phoenix (Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez) had both just undergone surgery and were on the D.L.  No problems there.

As for the other three (all Yankees), there were some questions about their absences from one of the sport’s biggest showcases. The bulk of the media ire seemed to be focused on Derek Jeter more than either Mariano Rivera or C.C. Sabathia even though Jeter had said right after he came off the disabled list that he wanted to rest his sore calf and would likely not make the All-Star trip.

Of course, that was before Jeter had his historic moment over the weekend; going 5 for 5 and homering for his 3,000th career hit. It was then that everybody not named Derek Jeter decided that Derek Jeter should appear in Phoenix to continue the “love fest” that erupted after the Yankee captain reached his “Cooperstown first ballot-clinching” milestone.

And, frankly this where Selig and Co. failed in the PR department. Big time! Instead of “backing up” Jeter’s decision not to put in an appearance in the toasty southwest, Bud really should have appealed to Derek to get on the plane and “let the fans and media love him.”

I know Jeter said he was mentally and physically exhausted from his quest for 3,000 hits. I believe him. Wearing pinstripes and living in New York City can do that to a guy. But, seriously folks, all Jeter needed to do was take part in one news conference, take some B.P., doff his cap to the crowd when they introduced him in the pre-game ceremony, take a couple of cuts in one at-bat, play half an inning at short, and spend the rest of the evening in dugout with his teammates. This is what people who get paid the big bucks and wear the captain’s “C” have to do. It comes with the territory.

This kind of stuff is really what separates baseball from the other major sports. It’s more personal and more intimate than football. I know after 16 years in the ‘bigs,’ the All-Star Game probably isn’t all that special anymore. I know the season lasts for over 6 months and you play virtually every day, but one more inning and a night or two of schmoozing isn’t going to kill a guy. Jeter should have been asked to watch the Gatorade commercial in which he appears. What’s the catch phrase? Prime, Perform, Recover! I’m sure the Gatorade folks meant to emphasize the “perform” part.

Baseball is still the national pastime, but it needs to work harder than it did in the 20th century. The All-Star Game has a lot of competition and isn’t the automatic TV ratings winner that it once was. Baseball is also still facing off with the remnants of its steroids era. The Roger Clemens perjury trial is underway, and MLB needs to counter with positive headlines in the face of the negative ones whenever possible. This is what Derek Jeter needed to be reminded of. This is where Bud Selig typically fails in his role as Baseball’s supreme leader. And, you have to admit, Selig has been a particularly weak leader when it comes to decisions revolving around the All-Star game (please see: 2002 Tie Game).

Selig needs to take care that the baseball All-Star Game doesn’t become irrelevant like the NFL Pro Bowl. The NFL has pretty much conceded that no player from the four top four teams will ever play in the Pro Bowl now that it has moved to the week prior to the Super Bowl. (Heck, those guys didn’t show up when it was the week after the Super Bowl and in HAWAII.) Sixteen major leaguers bailed out of the All-Star game for one reason or another, and Boston’s Josh Beckett couldn’t play when he tweaked his knee warming up. People aren’t paying to see middle relievers and second tier talent. They actually want STARS to play in the All-Star game. Seems logical even if it is only for two or three innings. (And, don’t get me started on the “if you pitched Sunday, you can’t even pitch an inning on Tuesday” rule. Why do we treat these guys like they’re fragile pieces of glass?)

Okay, back on point now.

This is where a Jeter and his sore calf, Rivera and his sore triceps, and Sabathia and his bruised ego have to suck it up, and at the very least, put in a token appearance.

Which brings me to C.C. Sabathia. I know he probably wasn’t happy to initially get left off the A.L. All-Star squad despite his gaudy record. What was Ron Washington thinking? But, Sabathia bailed out of going to Phoenix based on his pitching a complete game Sunday which made him ineligible to play Tuesday, and on the notion that he had already scheduled a family vacation in the Bahamas during the break. Say what? VACATION???

The Angels’ Jordan Walden had a vacation planned until he got the call to replace Rivera. He managed to cancel his plans. How come C.C. couldn’t do the same?  And, I know that he couldn’t play because he pitched Sunday, but what if that game had been rained out? What then, C.C.?

The baseball season (including spring training) runs from the middle of February through October! Vacation time is somewhere between November 1 and January 31. It’s been this way for over a century. Today’s ballplayers are lucky to be paid well enough, so they can take a winter vacation and don’t have to find an off-season job to make ends meet like many guys had to do as recently as 40 years ago.

Enough of my rant – now some thoughts on the All-Star Game itself:

Bruce Bochy may have given future managers a blueprint on how to attack the game in the “must-win for homefield advantage in the World Series” era. He treated innings like mini-games. Cliff Lee gets in a bind in the 4th – send in Tyler Clippard to get out of the jam. Jair Jurrjens gets in a bind in the 7th – send in Craig Kimbrel. Then simply close out the game in the usual fashion – set up men in the 8th – closers in the 9th. Done deal.

So much for playing by the book. Both homeruns were hit by left-handed hitters off of left-handed pitchers.

What are the odds of a pitcher getting the “W” without technically getting anybody out? Tyler Clippard of the Nationals gave up a base hit to the one batter he faced. Luckily, Hunter Pence saved his bacon with a strong throw home to erase a run and end the inning. The N.L. takes the lead for good in the bottom half of that inning, and Clippard goes home with an All-Star victory in his back pocket.

Sticking with the relief pitchers. Just how far is Jordan Walden allowed to leap off the pitching rubber before releasing the ball? It seems unfair to close that much distance between the mound and home plate.

Will the Padres’ Heath Bell be sent a bill from the D-Backs groundskeeping crew? That was way more than just a little divot that he ripped up with that slide to the mound in the 8th inning.

Did baseball purists even notice the first-ever use of a Designated Hitter in an N.L. park? Although, I’m not a fan of the D.H., I think it’s a good idea to use it in the All-Star Game.

Was it me or did Joe Buck’s voice actually seem to get stronger as the night went on? Buck’s vocal cords have been under a serious viral attack since he did the Super Bowl for Fox Sports. Joe told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s taking singing lessons to strengthen his voice. He might not be 100% until the World Series rolls around.

And, speaking of Fox… actually, D.C.’s local FOX 5. Why did they keep airing the same news promo over and over all night? Honestly, would it have killed them to record a second or a third version? Or did they not have enough interesting news to bother?

At least, the game was decent.

Ross, the creator of Throwback Baseball 1.0, also blogs about sports memorabilia at: www.aberdeentradingco.com

SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan

In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on May 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Home mortgage foreclosures are at an all-time high. Ditto for credit card defaults. The national unemployment rate of 9.6% isn’t so bad considering it was almost 20% in Nevada and 15% in northeast Ohio. In California and Connecticut, state workers were required to take unpaid furloughs. Parishoners at one Northern Virginia church number five a day, asking for financial aid in this recession.

What about the auto worker in Michigan who is “riffed” at 55? Where does he take his riveting skills at that age? People have seen their investment portfolios dwindle to the point they don’t open the envelopes anymore. Others have flat-out lost their jobs. Some get so frustrated with the job market, they take something they’re far-less qualified for. Or settle for something part-time, So much for a college degree. Or an advanced degree. Or years of experience.

Hello Major League Baseball. Are you listening?

Still, game patrons are expected to wait in line to park a car for $30. Or $50 in New York. Or belly up to pay $90 for a mezzanine-level seat. Or $8 for a hot dog, $5 for Cracker Jack or $9 for a warm beer. Or $100 for a team-replica jersey.

The national pasttime? Puh-lese. Try taking your family of five to the ball park. That figures to a mini-vacation, financially. Do clubs forget that most games are televised for free?

Know why it’s so expensive? Look at the salaries paid to players without the credentials of a Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Ernie Banks. Guys you’ve never heard of draw $5-6-7M a year. Guaranteed! So much for incentive. Just where’s the motivation to perform when that check is direct-deposited at the bank, win or lose, home run or strikeout.

Consider these contract busts that the “ordinary Joe” is paying for.

Jayson Werth of the Nationals is hitting .231 after 38 games. This, after signing a 7-year deal for $126M. The Nats are barely ahead of the Mets, who reside in the cellar of the NL East.

Carl Crawford of the Red Sox is hitting .208 with 1 HR and 10 RBI in 154 at bats. Plus, he’s fanned 28 times in 38 games. All this after signing a 7-year deal for $142M. Boston is 17-20 and in third place in the AL East.

Jason Bay of the Mets is hitting .216 with 2 HR and 6 RBI in 74 at bats. He’s in the second of a 4-year, $64M contract. Last season, he amassed 6 HR and 47 RBI while hitting .259, before having his season end prematurely due to a concussion. A year before he signed, Bay clubbed 36 HR and drove in 119 runs for Boston. Can someone say “Green Monster?”

John Lackey, signed by Boston last year to a 5-year, $82.5M, is a blazing 2-5 with an 8.01 ERA. That projects to 8 wins for $16-plus million this year, or $2M per victory on the Lackey front.

Derek Jeter, hit .270 last year, his worst performance since his rookie year. Months later, he wanted a 5-year, $105M contract. So much for Yankee pride. The Yankees balked and settled for 3 years at $51M. So far, Jeter’s hitting .260 with a whopping five extra-base hits in 150 at bats. That figures to 20 extra base hits for the season.

The Red Sox will battle the Yanks for a wild card spot but the Mets and Nationals are going nowhere except the golf course come October.

So why would Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo fork over so much money for one player who probably won’t get the Nats out of last place?

Don’t ask fans – they won’t know whether they continue to attend games or not.

SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan

In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on February 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Wake Up and Smell the Horsehide: Miguel Cabrerra’s problems with alcohol continue. On Feb. 16, the Detroit Tigers’ slugger was arrested and charged with DUI in Florida. Disturbing was what he said to the arresting officer: “Do you know who I am?” before taking a swig of whiskey right in front of him! Annoying was the comment of teammate Carlos Guillen who said, “It’s tough for him, for us Venezuelans.”

Earning millions is tough? They should be thankful they’re blessed athletically and that America allows them to earn millions playing a game they love. Venezuela offers no such opportunity last I checked.

Success Should be Measured in Titles: Albert Pujols reportedly wants an 8-year deal worth $240M or $30M per season. The first baseman has Hall of Fame numbers over his first 10 years but only one World Series title in two trips to the Fall Classic. Statistics matter to an agent negotiating a contract but shouldn’t the St. Louis Cardinals look at championships? Albert is far down the list when looking at other superstars’ accomplishments over their first 10 years: Bill Russell-8, John Havlichek-8, Joe DiMaggio-5, Mickey Mantle-5, Derek Jeter-4, Wayne Gretzky-4, Kobe Bryant-3, Stan Musial-3, Michael Jordan-3, Sandy Koufax-3, Reggie Jackson-3, Walt Frazier-2 and Bobby Orr-2.

Numbers Don’t Add Up: Josh Hamilton of the Texas  Rangers — American League Championship Series MVP who led his team to the World Series — signed a 2-year, $24M pact with Texas. No typo  — he’ll be paid $12M a year for two seasons. Meanwhile — the crestfallen Derek Jeter  recovers from his protracted contract negotiation — one where the charmed New York Yankee captain settled for $15M for three years.  Jeter sought $23M a year for 5 years. Last year was one of Jeter’s worst — 10 HR, 67 RBI and a . 270 BA — 44 points below his career average.  In the clutch, he was 1 for 22 with the bases loaded and struck out 106 times – the most in five seasons. By contrast, Hamiliton hit 32 HR, drove in 100 runs and hit .359 – 89 points better than Jeter last year.

The Balance of Politics: Six years ago, Brad Brownell, coach at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, made a lateral move to Wright State in Ohio. Seems he had a falling out with his athletic director. Whatever the issue, it had nothing to do with wins and losses. See, Brownell took the Seahawks to a pair of NCAA Tournament berths. At Wright State, he continued to win, leading the Raiders to 20-win seasons four times and once taking the team to the NCAA Tournament — the first time for that school in 14 years. Back east, people were watching. When Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell left for DePaul in 2010, Brownell was snapped up in Tigerland. Today, his Clemson team is 18-6 and fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, trailing only Duke, North Carolina and Florida State. If he continues to win, he won’t be leaving for another mid-major job. It’ll more likely be at Indiana University for the Evansville native.

Behind the Rooney Rule: Established in 2003, Art Rooney’s measure to aid minority coaches — mostly African-American — has worked. Before the measure, there were 2 black NFL head coaches. Today, there are 7.

Comments from Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin soothe, to a point. “I think it’s gave me an opportunity to present myself maybe in some situations that I wouldn’t have had,” he said in 2007 upon being hired by the Rooney family, owners of the club. Added former Raiders’ Head Coach Art Shell at the time, “Mike wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity without this rule. He never would have sat down with Dan Rooney.”

True but what about the racial disparity among assistants?

Currently, there are 29 NFL coaches — mostly assistants — who have blood relatives (past and present) in the NFL or the NCAA. Another is related to the manager of a Major League Baseball club.

Of that 29, just ONE is black – Skip Peete of the Dallas Cowboys . His brother, Rodney quarterbacked in the league for 16 years. One in 29 figures to .032%. And of those 29 assistants, there are more than a few “quality control” positions — posts  seemingly created for the sons of current coaches.

Keeping up with the Jones’s: Why does the media keep feeding the Arlington-Stadium-sized ego of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? A month ago, Scott Pelley of CBS News interviewed a teared-up Jones on “60 Minutes.” A camera close-up caught Jones crying while  saying, “This is agony” in reference to his team’s dismal 2010 season. Then there had was the homespun “sit-in” with Jones and former players Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Darryl Johnston.  Last I looked, the Cowboys weren’t playing in the big game. Finally we learn 400 people with Super Bowl tickets were not allowed inside the stadium because their seats weren’t installed. Yup,  Jones planned the extra seating but his maintenance crew never got the memo. Reason was, Jones sought a new attendance record for the sport’s biggest game. “For greed’s sake,” was how the New York Times called it. Remember those crowd shots outside FOX kept showing but never commented on? I thought they were fans in Green Bay, getting ready to celebrate in the streets when actually they were the patrons with tickets outside the stadium in Dallas.  See – Jones has FOX in his pocket just like 60 Minutes!

Christina UGH-guilera: If we can make performers blink like androids, why can’t we set up a Teleprompter for those singing the national anthem? What should be honorable again turned into a botch job from an entertainer far-more concerned about her hair, make-up and manicure than memorizing the lines for maybe her most notable live performance.

Highest of Insults: Gilbert Arenas recently returned to Washington as a member of the Orlando Magic. The headline on the Washington Post web site read, “Fallen Hero Returns.” Just who compiles these pitiful phrases? Any sensible person  realizes “Fallen Hero” refers to a man or woman fatally wounded in battle defending his or her country. This phrase should be used only for when remains of a true fallen hero are flown home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. And remember, Arenas had a felony gun charge for when he brought and allegedly drew a pistol on a teammate in the Verizon Center. Some hero!

Creative SENSEless: Super Bowl advertisements are costly so you’d think the marketing staffs in charge would be, well, creative. Instead, we witnessed one mindless ad after another  — each filled with sexual innuendo. Just “out with it” stuff that lacked ingenuity, charm or humor. In one, a young man sends an e-valentine to his girlfriend, saying, “What a great rack you have.”  In a talking car commercial, a male car says to a female car,  “I think you’d like my ride.”  Another ad featured a man telling his girl over and over, “I want to sleep with you.” I’m 55 and was turned off by the empty themes. What must an 10-year-old girl have thought? Or a 75-year-old woman? Class and decorum obviously had no place here.

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