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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Giants come back against Jaguars

After the first half, I was thinking I would title this post, “Giants lose to Jaguars as they continue their march to .500,” but something amazing happened after the break:  the Giants started playing football.

Giants fans booed their team off the field after the first half, and I don’t blame them – hell, I was booing at the TV!  I was shocked at how the Giants defense let the Jaguars have their way and totally dismayed by the Giants offense’s complete and total inability to convert inside the red zone.  Going into half time with two field goals to their credit and a lack luster defensive effort, the boos were richly deserved.

Well, Giants safety Antrel Rolle doesn’t agree:
“You don’t boo your team, I don’t care what happens.  That’s my take on it. This is your home team, we’re out there pouring our heart out for our team and for our fans, you don’t boo your team. I don’t care what the situation is. We’re 7-4, we’re not 2-10, we’re 7-4. There’s going to be ups and downs during the course of a season, not under any circumstances should you boo your team. That’s just the reality of it.”

Whatever, Rolle.  You guys played like shiz, you get booed.

My boy Justin Tuck knows what I’m talking about:
“If I paid as much as they paid for tickets and you play like we did in the first half I would have booed too.”

Not to mention the $25 for parking.  But somehow, they got their act together, scored some points and played New York Giants style football and only allowed a field goal in the second half.  And if New York Giants fans were thankful for anything last Thanksgiving, it better have been Tom Coughlin and his staff’s amazing ability to win challenges.  That first quarter challenge might have kept the game from getting completely out of hand.  Thankfully, we’ll never know for sure.

Until next week when the Giants attempt to give us another heart attack…

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Bernie Williams In Words and Music at William Paterson University

I used to work in technical theater, so I’ve seen about a zillion lectures, concerts, plays and performances of all shapes and sizes.  Still, I have to say, I was not prepared for Bernie Williams In Words and Music at William Paterson University on Friday, November 12.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a pen, so details are going to be sparse.  I thought referring back to the program might be helpful, but not as much as I would have liked.    First, Mr. Williams played a song with the William Paterson Jazz Orchestra.  Then, he joined Phil Pepe, who peppered Mr. Williams with questions about this and that.  I’m no Bernie Williams scholar, so I was particularly interested to learn that Mr. Williams went to a performing arts high school. Otherwise, the interview was not particularly revealing.  After the interview was over, Mr. Williams rejoined the William Paterson Jazz Orchestra and played several songs – again, what songs were played was not noted in the program and I didn’t bring a pen and paper, so I don’t have that information.

I’m really happy that William Paterson University is really happy with their jazz program, and I enjoyed listening to the students play as well as recognizing the music theory students who wrote the arrangements the jazz band played of Bernie Williams’ songs, but in all honestly, I must say that I didn’t buy a ticket to the event to listen to Dr. WHATSHISNAME sing his own praises, Mr. Williams’ praises, his student’s praises, or practice his stand up comedy.  I would agree that the night was about music as much as it was about anything else, but it was supposed to be about Mr. Williams’ music, not the University’s jazz program.  Now if Mr. Williams wanted to take a time out and speak for ten minutes about the University or if it was necessary to fill time while Bernie was in the men’s room, that’s one thing, but again, I didn’t buy tickets to this event to watch Bernie stand there awkwardly holding his guitar.

The information I had said the event would last from 7 to 9, but they must have meant they had the Shea Performing Arts Center booked until 9, because they wrapped things up closer to 8:45 if not earlier, which I thought was disappointing.  This cut the Q&A terribly short and only allowed maybe six or seven questions from the audience; in my experience, Q&A sessions usually last an hour, or at least an hour is allowed for them.    I think a half hour would have been fine, but it went all too quick, and many people who waited patiently on a very short line didn’t get to ask their question.  The moderator even suggested that they were running behind… how that could be, I couldn’t guess.  The most interesting tidbit to come out of the Q&A was that Bernie has an interest in coaching someday, but he’s not ready yet.  Also, Bernie noted that he was not yet officially retired, which might be holding up the Bernie Williams Day crusade.

I also want to say how disappointed I was with a minority of the crowd.  People were walking out during the Q&A, like they were trying to beat the traffic or something.  It was embarrassing.

Bernie Williams rejoined the jazz band to close out the show with his rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. I found this superior to the version I’ve heard Bernie play by himself; in spite of his superior arranging, I’ve always it repetitive.  But I enjoyed the evening, and I hope to see Bernie Williams at a similar event again sometime soon.

Bernie Williams In Words and Music at William Paterson University

program cover from Bernie Williams In Words and Music at William Paterson University

Jeter Hold-Out Is All About Rose

pete roseI’ve done my best to pay attention to the Derek Jeter contract negotiations, despite my feeling that it will get done one way or another. I’ve had a really hard time wrapping my head around what’s taking so long, but I finally get it: it’s all about Pete Rose.

Imagine you’re Derek Jeter: it’s pretty much a given that you’ll hit your career 3000th hit before the 2011 All Star break (he’s at 2926 right now.). You’re a first ballot hall of famer, you’re a five time World Series champion, a Yankees immortal… what else is left to achieve?

Pete Rose. Rose has achieved the Everest of baseball accomplishments as the all time leader in hits with 4,256. (He’s also the leader in games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053) and outs (10,328), but who’s counting?) Jeter wants that record… he must. It’s all so clear to me now: Jeter probably wants a 6 year, $100 million dollar contract, during which he’ll not only become the first Yankee to reach 3000 hits, but he’ll also become the major league hit leader while A-Rod is becoming the major league home run leader. And if they gave A-Rod such a ridiculous contract, why not Jeter? The argument (form the Jeter camp’s point of view) is sound logic and the A-Rod deal creates precedent for it.

Unfortunately for Jeter, the Yankees don’t see it that way. When they hear that argument, they do the math: Jeter needs to average 200 hits per year over the next six years just to get to Rose territory, so he must stay healthy and play nearly every game of every year (maybe a minimum of 150 games per season), and for a player of Jeter’s age, particularly toward the end of the contract, that doesn’t seem reasonable.  And that’s only 1200 hits – he’s currently 1330 behind!  His woeful 2010 campaign didn’t help any

And after that 6th year, he’d be 42 years old. Can you imagine him playing shortstop at 42? A lot of people are giving him a hard time for his play there in the last few years, and half the baseball world jumped down his throat when he was awarded the Gold Glove for his play in 2010. So if Jeter doesn’t play short stop, where is he going to play? Left field? Third base? I have no idea, but if he moved to either of those positions, I would expect a lot more power than Jeter typically displays during the course of a season.

Jeter had advantages over Rose, like advanced medical science, personal trainers and so on, but I don’t see this happening…  neither Jeter breaking Rose’s record nor getting the big deal he wants.  Breaking Rose’s record is a crap shoot at best.  Jeter is better off just taking the deal that’s on the table now and saving himself a long winter’s headache.  If he’s still playing well after the deal is up, he’ll be  in a good position to negotiate an extension (unlike this year).  If not, he can retire and save himself the embarrassment.

Derek Jeter Contract Negotiating Snooze Fest

derek jeterOn the way home from work, I heard a ton of talk radio discussing the Derek Jeter Contract Negotiating Snooze Fest. 

Mike Francesa was shocked that the Yankees hadn’t gotten a deal done yet with Jeter, and his callers were irate about it.  They want the Yankees to give in to Jeter’s contract demands.  The Yankees offer, if you haven’t heard already, is $15 million/ year for 3 years.

Now to you and me, that sounds like a lot of money, but we might be in the minority.  Last year, I believe Jeter made around $21.5 million, so this would be a pay cut, and nobody likes that.  If that’s the basis for rejecting this offer the Yankees made, I can understand that.  If Jeter’s camp countered with 3 years for $60 million and the Yankees didn’t snap it up, they’re fools.

As we all know, the Yankees need Jeter and Jeter needs the Yankees.  Neither are worth as much separate as they are together.  Now for the Yankees, being without Derek Jeter is like getting a small order of french fries when you wanted a medium order; for Jeter, it’s like not getting fries at all.  (Yeah, I had french fries and a side salad from Wendy’s for dinner.  The new fries at Wendy’s are pretty much the same.)   If Jeter goes somewhere else, he’s not going to get paid as much as the Yankees will pay him (even with the pay cut), and those Mr. 3000 shirts that are going to start showing up on the stands in June aren’t going to move the way they would if Jeter was still a Yankee.  Everybody knows this, and I’m sure Jeter and Yankees want that sweet t-shirt money.

It’s hard for me to weigh in on this; we know the Yankees have offered 3 years/ $45 million, and Jeter’s agent said that was a baffling offer.  I don’t understand why; Jeter will be 39 at the end of the deal and $15 million a year is more than fair from where I’m sitting – the guy hit .270 last year, goes to his left worse than Sara Palin (that’s not my joke, but it’s a good one) and there is no guarantee he’s going to rebound.  I shudder to think how many errors he’d have if Mark Teixeira wasn’t the first baseman.  Does Jeter want 4 years at $60?  I think not; if so, I believe the deal would be done already. Does he want something obscene, like 5 years/$100 million?  At what salary (if any) does the Yankees total payroll institute increased luxury tax penalties?

In my view, $15 million dollars is an elite price to get paid to play short stop for the Yankees and be captain of the team.  Hell, $10 million is probably fair.  I like Derek Jeter, and I want him on the team next year, but I need to hear from him or his people before I can get on his side.  Right now, the Yankees have $45 million on the table for him; I don’t see why he doesn’t take it.  If he countered and they refused, he should out them, the way they outed him when Brian Cashman said he should go test the market to see if a better deal is out there for him.  He probably shouldn’t do that, though – he’ll probably get offered two years, $15 million, if that much.

Bottom line, this is a yawn fest.  I know people are angry about this, but I just don’t care.  Derek Jeter and the Yankees go together like peas and carrots, this is true, but he’s not a key piece to winning a World Series anymore. 

I still want him on the team, but not forever.

Giants lose to Eagles, faith in penal system shaken

The Giants played another week of sloppy football against an opponent that gave them several chances to win, but they couldn’t get it done. The Eli Manning fumble was especially pathetic. Can somebody teach a brotha to slide?

I wish I had it in me to stick to sports today, but I can’t. I just can’t believe Michael Vick is still in the NFL. I understand Michael Vick has served his time in jail and is now free to move on with is life. That’s fine, but does the NFL really need to employ convicted felons? I almost feel like the Eagles are trying to buy me off with the wind and solar power they’re installing at Lincoln Financial Field.

Lets take a look at the Michael Vick wrap sheet and other misadventures:

  • In 2004, two guys driving a van registered to Vick were arrested for distributing marijuana.
  • Later in 2004, a security screener had his watch stolen by two of Vicks employees.
  • This 2005 civil lawsuit is my favorite: a woman said she contracted genital herpes from Vick, who new he had the disease and didn’t inform her. Apparently, he was getting treated for the disease under the alias “Ron Mexico.” Many fans bought custom jerseys from NFL.com with Vick’s number 7 and the name “MEXICO” on the back. The NFL has since banned customizing jerseys with the name Mexico. You just can’t make that kinda shiz up!
  • Then there was that time Vick gave fans the finger. Both of them.
  • In 2007, Vick surrendered a water bottle to security officials at an airport… it had a secret compartment in it, that’s why they were so interested in it. Security said they didn’t find anything illegal, and Vick said it was for hiding jewelry, but lets be real here… who would hide jewelry inside a water bottle? Let’s go with… nobody. I’m not saying he had some nefarious purpose with this bottle, but come one… that’s for smuggling recreational drugs from one place to another; probably only enough for one or two people, but never the less. If you wanted to hide jewelry for a plane ride, you’d place the item in a travel jewelry box and pack the jewelry box in a carry on bag. Or you could wear it. Is Vick a jewelry salesman? He travels with so much jewelry that he can’t wear it all at the same time?
  • Oh right, the dog fighting… convicted of a felony for dog fighting, traveling across state lines (that’s why it was a federal crime and he went to Leavenworth), and he electrocuted, hung, drowned and beat dogs to death, or ordered it. And while he was on bale, he failed a drug test.
  • Last January, he was accused of using steroids while he was with the Falcons. He denied it, and it seems to have gone away for a while

You’ll have to forgive me; I’m used to blogging about baseball, where the concerns are all about who cheated; most of the players seem to be good guys. In 2007, 21% of NFL players had arrest records. So stay classy, NFL. Stay classy.

I love me some New York Giants. They’ve had their problems on the field and their players are far from perfect, but none of them have ever disgusted me the way Vick has. My proudest moment is when (like the Jets) they said they would not have Vick on their team. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. That’s because the Giants know there is a line. They may raise ticket prices and charge $9 for one beer, but even glutenous businessmen will only go so far.

Unless you’re the Eagles. I guess only the sky is the limit.

PS: VICK IS NOT THE ONLY FELON IN THE NFL
For example, Donte Stallworth served 30 days in jail for manslaughter after killing a 59 year old man by hitting him with his car. Stallworth was drunk. He’s back now and has played in the last three games so far this year.

Yankees news – quick addition

The Yankees have hired Larry Rothschild asthe new pitching coach to replace Dave Eiland.  Apparently, they  made him watch hours of AJ Burnett video and then asked him how he’d fix the mess Burnett was in 2010, and they liked his ideas – boom, you’re hired, Larry.  That’s got to make you feel great if you’re AJ Burnett… on the other hand, he’s a $50 million dollar problem if he pitches the way he did in June, August and September in 2011.

The Yankees traded Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks for RHP Scott Allen… pretty sure he’s a minor leaguer, but not positive.  In a move that I assume is subsequent, Jonathan Albaladejo has been released.  I like Albaladejo, but let’s face it, its never going to happen for him.  I will, however, miss yelling, “Albaladejo!  Al ba la de jo!”  when he comes into games… as infrequently as that was.  As for Juan Miranda, I don’t see him as an every day big league first baseman or DH, and the Yankees are set with Mark Teixeira at 1B and probably ARod at DH in years to come.

I still don’t understand why everyone cares how much the Yankees pay Derek Jeter per year.  Does anyone believe that if the Yankees get him for, say, $5 million per year that they’re going to lower ticket prices?  Dream on.

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar at Yankee Stadium

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar at yankee stadium

In 2009, I wandered into the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar at Yankee Stadium for no particular reason; Yankee Stadium 3 was still new to me at this point in May, so I was still in my “explore every crevice, experience every area” quest, which has not yet ended.  I was only able to take two photos before some security looking fellow asked me to stop.  I didn’t ask him why and I wonder if they’ve changed the policy since then.  It’s kind of intimidating from the outside; they have two guys standing there and the door is closed.  You have to be a tough guy to watch the game from the bleachers (for a variety of reasons), but chilling in center field in the air condition probably live baseball at its mildest.  Still, I plan on doing it on some distant disgustingly humid August day.

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar at yankee stadium ceiling giant baseball cards

The giant baseball cards on the ceiling was a nice touch.

 

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar as scene from left field box seats at Yankee Stadium

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar as scene from left field box seats at Yankee Stadium

College Football at Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium College Football

What an odd site: Yankee Stadium ready for some College Football

I don’t have any interest in going to the November 20th game between Army and Notre Dame or the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on December 30th, but it might be fun to watch the game from inside the Mohegan Sports Bar, where it will presumably be nice and warm.  There is defiantly a novelty experience to seeing a non-baseball event at Yankee Stadium, but not at the expense of whatever the ticket prices are AND freeing my ass off.

Giants lose to Cowboys, faith in humanity shaken

We made the customary weekend trip to the grocery store, during which I picked up a Giants flag to replace my Yankees flag, which was now ready for a long winter’s nap. I spoke to my mother on the phone during the jaunt:

"I don’t think anyone expects the Giants to lose this game," I said, referring to the Giants vs Cowboys competition set for 4 pm that afternoon. "After their awful start, the loss of the starting quarterback and a coaching change against the Giants at home, a win is a bit much to ask."

Much to her credit, she didn’t call me back at halftime and asked her why I recommended this game as a safe watch. (My mom doesn’t deal with our teams losing very well.)

Ugly, ugly, ugly loss. Could a power-outage ever be more apropos? The Giants played so poorly, it’s really amazing that they didn’t get blown out. While it’s fair to say that Jon Kitna and his receivers had his way, the Giants defensive line and defensive unit did an awful job of pressuring Kitna. Bryan McCann‘s interception that he ran back for 101 yards because SOMEBODY forgot to finish their route and let Eli Manning through it right into McCann’s waiting arms was a huge killer; not to mention the other touchdown that was called back for a penalty on the Giants. I was also disappointed with the Giants’ offensive line’s inability to protect Manning, not to mention the play calling in the first half’s attempt to straight up attempt to kill Ahmad Bradshaw – how many times were they going to give him the ball in a row? After the fumble (that was thankfully recovered by the Giants) I guess somebody said, "Hm… maybe he’s tired after a million consecutive touches… lets give something else a try." I know the Giants are missing Steve Smith, but this team does have other weapons.

The Giants played awful, sloppy football against an inferior team. Dallas deserves some credit for overcoming a ton of hurdles, but the Giants served the W to them on a silver platter. The Giants should have won this game, and given their tough schedule coming up, I’m wondering how large this bad loss is going to loom.

The Jorge Posada Conundrum

If you didn’t already hear, Jorge Posada is supposed to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee today. I don’t have any idea what that means or how serious, but it sounds like he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training, but not matter how you look at this, it’s not great news.

As painful as it may be for Yankees fans (and surely to the player himself), Jorge Posada is near the end of his career, if 2011 isn’t his last season. In the 2010 season, Posada was able to make only 78 starts as the catcher and batted .248 with 18 homers. I think most folks would agree that at this point in his career, Posada’s value to the Yankees is with his bat, and as the catcher, he not only hinders the team defensively, but he’s wearing himself down and reducing his offensive production.

Given that the Yankees don’t have a regular DH next year, I think the most reasonable answer is for Posada to get the majority of the starts there while also sharing time at DH with Alex Rodriguez and some of the other older players on the team. This plan isn’t perfect: while the DH is a great spot to stash big bats like Posada and A-Rod, playing Posada at the DH position means the Yankees will need to carry three catchers.

Carrying three catchers isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not the most ideal use of a roster spot. What I am proposing gives occasional starts at catcher to Posada, leaves Francisco Cervelli as the backup catcher and brings Jesus Montero up to the big leagues to do the majority of the catching. There is plenty of risk here: Montero has little experience as a catcher and Cervelli was over exposed last season and at times didn’t perform well defensively, which is something that I think we all expect as a given from a backup catcher.

I think this is the best solution for 2011. Alternatively, the Yankees may end up running Posada out there until he breaks – and he will get injured at some point, even with regular rest. But I think the 2011 season is the end of Posada’s career, no matter where he plays.

NOTES ON DEREK JETER WINNING THE GOLD GLOVE
ESPN and everybody else on the planet is balking a bit at Derek Jeter’s 2010 Gold Glove.

But modern fielding charts and rankings consistently put Jeter in the bottom half of their ratings. Two websites that study glovework — Fangraphs.com with its Ultimate Zone Rating and Fieldingbible.com — listed Chicago’s Alexei Ramirez as the top-fielding AL shortstop with Jeter nowhere close to even middle-of-the-pack status.

As soon as you use UZR in your argument against Jeter’s fielding, you lose me. UZR doesn’t use adequate sample sizes and compares the player to the other players rather than comparing the player to his past performance, meaning projected UZRs are, in a word, garbage – case in point, Mark Teixeira had a negative UZR the last time I looked, and Teix is an amazing 1st baseman.. I seriously doubt Jeter is the best SS in the American League; I would say Jeter is on the plus side of average, but there are some plays he is capable of that most short stops are not capable of, particularly putting his back to home plate and running into the outfield to catch fly balls. Bottom line, I think gold gloves are won by reputation – I dont think anybody sits down and looks at film or stats before they vote.

Anyway, congrats to Jeter, Teixeira and Robbie Cano on winning winning their Gold Gloves!

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