Category Archives: business of baseball

RULE 5 IS GOOD, BUT……….

At the Winter Meetings following the World Series, major league teams must decide on the 40 players they want to protect in a special draft that is commonly referred to as the Rule Five Draft.

The rule is basically a good idea as it prevents teamsimages (25) from stockpiling players in their farm systems and it gives hope to minor league players who may be languishing behind a all star major leaguer playing the same position. Depending on age when they signed, players become eligible after three or four years

Historically, players such as Roberto Clemente (above) who as we know turned into the steal of the Century for the Pirates, R A Dickey (left),download (9) Dan Uggla, and Jose Bautista (below) revitalized their careers after being taken in this draft. Last year, the Rangers caught lightning in a bottle when they selected images (26)Delino Deshields who became the Texas Rookie Of The Year. For major league teams, the price of a selection is a mere $50,000…….but there’s a catch……
Continue reading

JOE TORRE – A QUIET YET VERY EFFECTIVE LEADER

When you look up a profile of Joe Torre, you quickly realize that he has been successful in every facet JOE TORREof his career, and never has that been true more than in his current position as MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer. As a player, he finished a distinguished career withi (1) a .297 batting average, appeared in nine All Star Games, and won a NL Batting Title in 1971. Then, as a manager he won four Championships more than 2,300 games. Culminating his career as a manager, he was rewarded with a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. (left) Oh, and by the way, he’s also a member of the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

And from the looks of things, he’s just getting warmed up. Since 2011 (his first year as a baseball executive), joe-torre-jpghe has presided over the introduction and refinement of instant replay, the creation of the “Buster Posey Rule” for collisions at home plate, the adoption of the 20 second rule designed to speed up games, and is now poised to lead the way with the adoption of a “Chase Utley Rule” requiring a runner to be sliding directly at second base when attempting to break up a double play. 
Continue reading

MONEY FOR NOTHING – TITLES FOR FREE

For those who follow baseball, an intriguing question images (6)continues to be…….what role does money play in the game today….and does $$$ automatically equate to winning, and especially winning World Championships?

Off the top of your head, you might say – look at the success MLBtrophyTampa Bay has had in recent years in a devalued market and shrinking revenue, and that is true. But overall, what is the true value of money spent? I thought I’d take a look at this from a pure mathematical standpoint. Here are the results of this study…… Continue reading

YOU DID GOOD, JOE………

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees
all citizens the right to a speedy trial.  Chase Utley
received that and more from Joe Torre on behalf of Major League Baseball. His suspension of Utley for games 3 and 4 of the Series against the Mets which resumes tonight is now going through the appeals process covered under the Players Bargaining Agreement, based on the premise that Union lawyers need time to prepare a case for Utley.
Continue reading

GIRARDI’S EPITAPH MISSES THE MARK

New York Yankees manager Joe Girard’s press conference yesterday included a look forward to 2016 as well as a glance backward at ” what happened”. Most telling were his largely defensive comments explaining how he tried to give his aging lineup enough rest so they could limp to the finish line. Left unsaid, probably because he’s a true professional, is the question he must have been asking himself all season……..”Why do I even have to deal with this?”

The New York Yankees are old. Even Brett Gardner (left) who is considered “young” by team standards will be 33 next August. Along with Jacob Ellsbury, (below) he appeared to lose his legs down the stretch and both weighed heavily in the Yankee’s decline and inability to catch the Blue Jays. More telling, Ellsbury was sat by Girardi against Houston in favor of Chris Young. He may regret that decision now but it is indicative of the decisions Girardi had to cope with all year.

Even more baffling was Girardi’s insistence that the Yankees are good to go for next year. Again, he is not the type to put any of his players in harm’s way. But he could have deferred the question to Brian Cashman who will be weighing in soon and it is likely that he will have a entirely different take on next year’s roster. More importantly, ownership is likely to take notice of the continuing decline of TV ratings on YES. Even fans like myself found my way to SNY and the youthful and energetic Mets more often than not.  We’ve seen this cast before and watching Alex Rodriguez go 1-4 with three strikeouts and a home run is getting downright boring. And I sense that a good portion of the fan base agrees.

Some tough decisions need to be made quickly. CC Sabathia is one of them. As difficult as it would be (in light of his personal problems now), he needs to be cut loose and his salary eaten. Same with Teixeria who is a injury waiting to happen all year, every year. The kids the Yankees have need to be in the forefront of the lineup and in full view of the fans and media. Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Michael (above) Pineda (if he can stay healthy and grow up – pine tar?) and Rob Refsnyder are budding stars. Don’t let them wait for a spot to clear in the lineup when a aging “regular” goes down with injury. And for God sakes, do not sign David Price or any other veteran over the age of 26. 

In truth, the Yankees are no longer fun to watch. That needs to change………and while I’m thinking about it…….maybe a change at the helm needs to be made too.images-8 $$$ is always the big factor though and a year of Girardi’s contract would need to be eaten. We know what George would have done regardless of the cost. His son Hal moves to center stage now………it’s been six long years since the Yankees posted a Championship in 2009. The Boss would never have stood for that…..no way….no how.

 

SUMMER BEACH READING – BASEBALL (RECOMMENDATIONS)

My usual preference for casual reading is a good legal thriller written by authors like Michael Connelly or John Grisham – but I’m always looking for a good baseball read. Here are four selections that I found to be not only entertaining but revealing about the game and the men who have played it.

The very first book I read about baseball occurred during my teenage years. I remember that it opened my eyes to a side of baseball few were aware of and certainly no one was writing about.images-33 Jim Brosnan’s  The Long Season not only was a smash hit for a pedestrian relief pitcher but a vanguard approach to baseball writing later exploited by Jim Bouton and others. A easy quick and entertaining read.

The other three books are a bit deeper but are equally as entertaining.images-40images-34 Two of these are written by Jane Leavy, both are exhaustively researched and offer an intriguing look into two enigmatic baseball personalities – Mickey Mantle (left) and Sandy Koufax (right). Reviews of each book by The New York Times are here: Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle.

Perhaps the most disturbing but equally entertaining entry comes from Richard Ben Cramer joe-dimaggio2and his definitive biography of another baseball icon – Joe DiMaggio. What makes the book better than your normal biography though is how Cramer brings the reader directly into the times and culture of DiMaggio’s era. Here’s the N.Y. Times review.

Finally, to read these (or any other) book……..think about giving the free app  Overdrive a close look. You can link directly to your local library and download a book to your mobile device……..it works and it’s free. Download info Here.

 

AND FOR SOME, THE DREAM NEVER DIES…….

My previous post highlighted a side of life we seldom see or think about for the 1,200 players who make it to “The Show”. Now, let’s take a look at the ones who never make it….the ones who are still chasing the dream.images-22

Meet Mike Hessman  (right) a veteran of 19 years in baseball’s minor leagues. A few days ago, he hit his 433rd home run as a minor leaguer playing for the Toledo Mud Hens. A grand slam no less.  His compelling and complete story is chronicled here. 

He’s often likened to Crash Davis, a fictional character in a well known movie. For Mike Hessman, he can only dream of making the money Kevin Costner did in that role.

And you don’t always get the girl like Costner did .18s0dimd5mghgjpgInstead, more often than not you get to play along with a amateurs marketing genius and help to conduct a mock funeral on the field  (Left) or toss water balloons at teammates. This all makes for family fun at Minor League Ballparks across the country, but a closer look at the economics of minor league baseball reveals a much deeper concern……..

Many players receive less than the minimum wage. A salary of $1100 a month (that’s $6.87/hour) is not uncommon plus they receive this only for the months they are actually playing. There is no compensation during the off season when they are expected to stay in baseball shape. A daily allowance of $20-25 as “meal money” hardly translates into another requirement – that is to eat healthy.

Indeed,  It’s A Harsh Life  (must read)  images-26and once again we need to remember that these are PEOPLE and not robots or wind-up toys. Hat’s off to Mike Hessman………and I hope #500 is on the way…….

ON THE 0.000003428 PERCENT OF THE U.S POPULATION……..I

On any given day, the above percent of the United States population can be classified as Major League ballplayers (40 man roster X 30 teams). In scientific notation, that number would be represented as 3.428 X 10 to the negative seventh power. Trust me, it’s a very small number. Factor in the populations of Latin American countries and the number becomes even smaller.

More than likely, everyone reading this article (including myself) dreamed one day of playing in the “Show”. The allure of playing a boys game before millions of adoring fans, making tons of money, staying in first class hotels……with the possibility of “retiring” at the age of 40…….come on…..who wouldn’t want that?

But something changed in baseball this week – at least for me. Subconsciously, images-28I had realized it before but the sight of seeing Wilmer Flores sobbing with the news he heard from fans in the stands that he had been traded from the Mets (the team that signed him when he was 16) to Milwaukee was enlightening.

It simply reminded me that the men and sometimes boys who play this game we loveimages-11………..are not robots or wind-up toys. They are human beings who have feelings. They are men who play on teams that log as many as 43,000 miles  in the air, often traveling overnight following a night game……..getting five or six hours sleep and it’s back to the ballpark for a day game.

In many ways it’s a lonely life too. Most have wives or significant others,images-13 family with children, pets, friends and relatives who remain behind during a extended road trip. And when the well accepted “business” aspect of the game intrudes on this life with a trade to another team…………and suddenly your life is changing and there’s a house to sell, a new house to buy, children uprooted from schools and friends, your newly made friends left behind………the list is endless…….it may be time to pause for a moment to reflect on the dream we had to consider how much the sacrifices these “players” make along the way…….

Which brings us full circle back to Wilmer Flores and the emotions he displayed images-37that night in Queens…………and while his reaction was open and captured on camera……..you have to wonder how many PEOPLE who play this game haven’t felt the same way leaving their bags unpacked and waiting for the call that says…….”Thanks for your service but you need to catch the next flight to Denver”……….