Hirings and Firings

October 12th, 2014 by

mick-kelleher

I liked Mick Kelleher. Not just because he lives in the Santa Barbara area in the off-season and is a good friend of my neighbor. But because the players seemed to like him and his work with infielders (I’m especially thinking of Cano) was said to be exemplary. So I was sorry to read that he’d been let go earlier this week along with Kevin Long, who was not as big a loss for me; Long was the expected fall guy for the lack of offense.

The re-signing of Brian Cashman wasn’t a surprise, but it does boggle my mind how cozy he’s become with the current generation of Steinbrenners. Would George have kept Cash around for another three years? Or would he have made a change by now? I’m guessing the latter. Not that getting Headley, Prado and McCarthy weren’t clever moves, and the trade for Pineda a couple of years ago is looking like a big win for our side. I was just hoping for a fresh perspective.

I’ve been watching the Royals through their Wild Card playoff game, the ALDS and now the ALCS and marveling at what a superbly crafted team they are. So many ways to beat the opposition. They can do it all: steal bases, play Web Gem-type defense, excel at situational hitting, even go deep. And then there’s the pitching; they’ve got starters and relievers galore. And they’re young! What a joy not to see some overpaid, overfed, past-his-prime player lumber around the bases or take a giant hack at the ball when just a poke through the shift would do! Obviously, I’m rooting for them to go all the way because they’re so much fun to watch, but I’m also envious. What I wouldn’t give for a Yankees team that had so many weapons in their arsenal.

In the end, winning is about personnel, not coaches, and the guy in charge of personnel is the GM. I rest my case.

 

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The Captain’s New Life Begins

October 1st, 2014 by

Jeter and Lauer on Today

In addition to Jeter’s interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, it was announced in Variety this morning that our favorite retiring Yankee is getting into the Hollywood/social media business. As predicted, his entrepreneurial career that began with his books imprint at Simon & Schuster is moving right along. Here’s the latest news:

Legendary, Derek Jeter Launch Digital Media Startup for Pro Athletes to Post ‘Unfiltered’ Content

OCTOBER 1, 2014

Todd Spangler

Derek Jeter, the now-retired New York Yankees ballplayer, has a new career: multimedia entrepreneur.

Jeter is teaming up with movie studio Legendary Entertainment to launch The Players’ Tribune, a digital startup that promises to be a home for professional athletes to share “their unfiltered, honest and unique perspectives, bringing fans closer to the games they love.”

“I do think fans deserve more than ‘no comments’ or ‘I don’t knows,’” Jeter, the company’s founding publisher, wrote in a post on The Players’ Tribune website. “We want to have a way to connect directly with our fans, with no filter.”

The Players’ Tribune will let athletes develop and create content ranging from first-person written features to videos, podcasts, photo galleries, polls and more. The New York-based company plans to announce “all-star professional athlete contributors” in the coming weeks.

“I have had the privilege of knowing Derek for a number of years,” Legendary chairman and CEO Thomas Tull said in a statement. “His idea of providing athletes with a platform to communicate directly with their fans and the world at large is a forum that we are excited about.”

Tull is a well-known sports fan, who translated his love of baseball into “42,” chronicling Jackie Robinson’s break through baseball’s color barrier. Tull is also a board member of The Baseball Hall of Fame and part of the ownership group of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Legendary, in addition to producing films including “Godzilla,” “Pacific Rim” and “The Dark Knight,” also operates pop-culture website Nerdist.com and also produces content via its Legendary Digital banner.

The Players’ Tribune has hired Gary Hoenig, former editorial director of ESPN Publishing and a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, as editorial director. Maureen Cavanagh, former photo director for Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated, is the creative director and Sarah Turcotte, former senior writer/general editor at ESPN The Magazine, is executive editor. Alex Rose the company’s g.m. and Mark Grande is VP of content and strategy.

On another subject, the Daily News is reporting that the Yankees are nearing a deal to re-sign Cashman. I have mixed feelings about that. Part of me was really hoping we’d have a new GM with a fresh perspective. I’m tired of same old, same old.

And I watched last night’s wild-card playoff game between the Royals and A’s. I didn’t intend to, but I tuned in just in time to see the Royals chip away and ultimately win a thriller in extra innings. Bud Selig must have been smiling. The game was exactly what he had in mind when he lobbied for more wild card teams.

 

 

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Bye. Or, as Michael Kay would say, “See ya.”

September 28th, 2014 by
Photo: Christopher Anderson/New York Magazine

Photo: Christopher Anderson/New York Magazine

Well, today’s game was truly the end of a great career. And Jeter did it in style with an RBI hit, a lot of hugs for his teammates, a few words for Clay Bulhholz before coming off the field, a tip of the cap to the Red Sox players and a wave to the fans. I thought the Red Sox, both as an organization and as a fan base, did a beautiful job with their farewell. Not only did they trot out their most esteemed sports captains for the pre-game ceremony but the Fenway Faithful cheered and stood at the end as if Jeter were their own. I was very moved.

It seems strangely OK that it was the end of the 2014 season too. It’s time for the Yankees to regroup and figure out where to go from here. There’s been a lot written about the return of A-Rod in recent days so his presence and its attendant baggage will be inevitable, but Michael Pineda gives me a lot of hope that the starting pitching will be in very good shape. (Tanaka is still a question mark for me. I don’t trust the health of that arm. I hope I’m wrong. Ditto: CC for a bunch of reasons.) I enjoyed watching Jose Pirela, both at the plate and at second base. I don’t quite get why he wasn’t called up sooner, despite roster issues, since he led the International League in hitting (or something like that), but I hope he sticks around. Maybe they could move him to shortstop because Drew won’t contribute anything to the offense and if I’m Cashman I don’t re-sign him.

Speaking of Cashman, he’ll have a full plate this off-season as usual but maybe with more urgency than ever. Two years without a postseason? The horror if you’re the Steinbrenners. George must be fuming. Do they even keep Cashman? Is it conceivable that there’s another GM out there who looks more enticing? Or will they stick with the status quo? Girardi’s alleged tirade in the clubhouse on Thursday could have been a manifestation not just of his own anger but of that of his bosses.

Getting back to Jeter, it’ll be interesting to see where his life takes him. He’s already dipped into the book publishing world with his own imprint at Simon & Schuster. He’s expressed interest in owning a team but in the shorter term it’s more likely he’ll invest his time and money in media-driven enterprises. I have to admit I envy Jeter right now. Most people retire with modest goals – taking up a hobby, traveling, figuring how to live on Social Security and cope with health problems. He’s young and fit and fabulously wealthy, and the world is his oyster; he can do whatever the hell he wants. Nice. As I said, I look forward to seeing what direction his life takes.

No, the Yankees won’t be the same without him, but iconic players have long come and gone in this franchise and someday, hopefully soon, another will come our way. I look forward to that too.

In the meantime, unless there’s something newsworthy in Yankeeville, I guess the Confessions blog will go on its usual hiatus for the off-season. Or not…….

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Straight out of a Hollywood Script

September 25th, 2014 by

Jeter final game in Bronx

All I kept thinking after Robertson blew the game in the ninth was….A Jeter walkoff? Maybe? Possibly?

Well, OK, I also thought what a shame it was that Kuroda got screwed yet again. Talk about a hard luck pitcher. He threw a brilliant game and could have finished it, but I got that you’re supposed to go to your closer, blah blah.

The main attraction was The Captain and how the night would end for him. I desperately didn’t want him to strike out or hit into a DP in the bottom of the inning. And I would have carried a lifelong grudge against Showalter if he’d intentionally walked him. And then came that familiar Jeterian swing followed by sheer joy – his and mine and everyone else’s. He looked so happy, didn’t he? When he jumped in the air arms raised in celebration, he was a rookie again mobbed by his teammates. And the presence of Andy, Bernie, Jorge and Mo was icing on the cake.

He still seemed dazed during his post-game press conference, admitting that when he stood there at shortstop in the top of the ninth he was saying, “Please don’t hit the ball to me” – very un-Jeter-like but totally understandable.

I loved seeing his mom get all teary, loved watching him pick up his little nephew, loved that he had his girlfriend there but wouldn’t give her the full PDA treatment in front of everybody (very Jeter-like). Oh, and I loved that the Yankees won the game. :)

So it’s on to Boston for the finish to the 2014 season – anticlimactic for sure. My friends here are excited about the Dodgers’ prospects in the playoffs and I’ll throw my support to them. But in the meantime, I’ll let tonight linger in my mind. It was magical.

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Tanaka!

September 21st, 2014 by

masahiro+tanaka1

Wow. It was good to see him again. I only saw highlights of the finale against the Blue Jays, but the guy is beyond amazing. I kept thinking about what might have been had he not gotten injured and instead pitched throughout the full season. It wouldn’t have helped the Yankees score runs, but it could have given them just enough wins to squeak through to the postseason. I hope he doesn’t feel any after effects from going 5+ innings.

Watching Jeter have such a good homestand also doesn’t mean much as far as the team’s fortunes, but for his sake I’m glad he’s going out with a bang not a whimper. He gave the weekend crowds something to cheer about. Audrey? I think you were going to the game on Saturday, right? Tell us how it went despite the loss. It looked like a love fest for the Captain.

So now we’re winding down to the end. There’s lots of chatter about who’ll stay next season and who’ll go, but for right now it’s all about Jeter and getting through The Goodbye. It won’t be easy, but it’s time.

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Some Positives in a Season of Negatives

September 17th, 2014 by

Positive Negative

How impressive that Dellin Betances actually surpassed Mo’s single-season strikeout record tonight. I mean seriously. Jeter’s retirement signals the end of an era, but here we have another homegrown kid who made good. One season does not a career make, but it’s a start.

Other bright spots? McCarthy. Who knew he could pitch so well and so consistently? Maybe even he didn’t, but he has.

And then there’s Headley. The guy gets hit on the chin and comes right back and dives into the stands to catch a ball. If I’m the Yankees I sign him for next year.

And then there’s the fact that we’re done with the Trop for 2014. Yay. Enough with the hit batsmen.

So now it’s countdown time until the end of the season. I have to say I’m ready to put this one behind me. It was a miserable year for injuries, for disappointments, for sad stories like Carlos Beltran and his wife losing their baby, all of it. Time to turn the page and hope for better things to come.

 

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Crushing Losses Mount

September 14th, 2014 by

crushing-3

Once again, I was hoping the last couple of weeks of the 2014 season would at least be entertaining even if they didn’t have any bearing on the pennant race. But who wants to watch the Yankees go down to defeat in particularly disappointing ways, as they did over the weekend in Baltimore?

And once again, the problem wasn’t pitching – not starting pitching anyway. It was not enough offense and not the right pitch from a reliever. And, as Kruk or Schilling or one of the ESPN guys said tonight, “The Yankees just aren’t very good this year.”

But they tried. Prado, nursing that hamstring injury, fought the good fight. Even Beltran, elbow hanging off his arm, came up to pinch hit. But poor Jeter’s going out with a whimper, sadly, and McCann’s homers are coming too late to matter. So are all the mostly great performances by Shawn Green, Brandon McCarthy, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

But we can enjoy two more weeks of The Captain before he makes his way off the big stage. That’s something to tune in for.

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Baseball Always Surprises

September 12th, 2014 by
Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

And not just because it was Esmil Rogers who did the Gatorade honors last night at the Stadium instead of the injured Brett Gardner. There were so many unlikely aspects to the finale against the Rays.

Early on in the game, the Yanks were getting no-hit and it felt like another night of offensive futility. I kept saying, “Why am I even watching this?” But then Chris Young, an unlikely hero if ever there was one, broke things up and, later, won it with his walkoff homer. Also unlikely? That Martin Prado would come off the bench, hamstring aching, and smack one out. I hope he didn’t reinjure himself by staying in the game.

And then there were the two not-so-happy surprises: Jeter getting hit in the elbow and poor Headley getting hit on the chin – on the same night that the Marlins’ Giancarlo took one in the face during their game against the Brewers and had to be carried off on a stretcher. Jeez. What amazed me was, intentional or not, these pitchers weren’t warned or ejected or anything. Sure, they were shaken up – who wouldn’t be? – but professional guys shouldn’t be throwing at the heads of batters, period. If your control is that bad at this point in the season, go do something else for a living. Ugh. At least Headley wasn’t hit in the neck/throat/windpipe, which I had initially feared.

What does the Rays series mean to the Yankees’ playoff hopes? Nothing, if you ask me. But it was nice to see the team get a boost. The players looked excited and happy and that made me happy too.

 

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At Least There Was Something to Celebrate

September 7th, 2014 by
Photo: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

Photo: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

Or should I say “someone.” The Yankees brought out a veritable Who’s Who of stars for Derek Jeter Day at the Stadium, including members of the Yanks. I did miss Andy Pettitte, but it’s always good to see Jorge, Mo and Bernie. I’m still not sure why this ceremony wasn’t saved for the last home game of the season, but it was a fitting tribute. Having Cal Ripken there was an especially nice touch. And yikes Tim Raines is large these days.

As for the game against the Royals, well, there’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said during the season. It was the same old same old: good pitching, no hitting. And aside from yesterday’s win, the series was futility in general. The only upside is that both Pineda and Green look like great candidates for the rotation next year. Now if they could get some bats and be done with the dead wood so to speak, they’d be in business.

 

 

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A Happy Ending

September 4th, 2014 by

headley_yankees walkoff

Mark Teixeira made it a tie ballgame in the bottom of the ninth against the Red Sox tonight, and then Chase Headley sent the Yanks to a game win and a series win. I was on my feet cheering.

The Yankees may not win another series this season, who knows, but all I wanted for them was to get out of their offensive doldrums and play entertaining baseball and they did. The Red Sox are only a shell of their former selves, except for Ortiz who just keeps hitting bombs year after year, but taking two of three at home was fun anyway. I loved how excited the players got tonight after Headley’s walkoff, like a bunch of little kids. So cute.

As for Headley himself, he was a nice pickup. I wonder what’ll happen to him when A-Rod comes back next year (theoretically). Come to think of it, how will the Yankees deal with A-Rod coming back? (Hal said he’s looking forward to it. Yeah, sure.) In the meantime, Headley has played a solid third base and had a few timely hits.

The weekend series against the Royals should be interesting, with Sunday’s Jeter Farewell ceremony certain to be a tear jerker. I still can’t imagine the Yankees without him, but it’s clear that it’s the right time for him to head off into his new life. I have no doubt that he’ll succeed in whatever arena he pursues. He’s The Natural.

 

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