Archive for the 'New York Yankees' Category

Yankees’ poor start a case of bad luck

If someone told me a week ago that the Yankees, in their first six games, would score 35 runs, I would be ecstatic. Nearly six runs a game! That’s fantastic.

If that same person told the Yankees, in those first six games, would only surrender 23 runs and just 17 earned runs for an ERA of 3.04, second best in the AL, I would be in shock. The pitching is outperforming all expectations, I would say.

And then, if you told me that the Yankees, with these numbers, would be just 2-4 after what many are considering a disaster of a West Coast road trip, I would say, “Hold your horses. The Yankees have just been the victims of some bad luck to start the season.”

After their 10-1 drubbing of the Los Angeles de Los Angeles this afternoon, that is exactly where things stand. The Yankees, despite a slow offensive start, are averaging nearly six runs per game. Their pitching meanwhile has given up just 17 earned runs. Yet, the team is just 2-4 sitting three games behind those hated Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

While many fans are sounding the alarm, I would like to take a step back and evaluate the first six games of the season. It’s really not that bad.

First, the Yankees defense contributed to one of these unfortunate losses. Had Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano not committed errors in key situations during Wednesday’s 9-4 loss in Oakland, the Yanks would be 3-3. Those errors were responsible for many of those AL-leading six unearned runs the Yankees have surrendered. Tighter would have given the Yankees one of those games.

Second, Joe Torre’s poor managerial decisions contributed to one loss. On Tuesday, in a game tied at 3 in the 9th, Torre went with the distracted Scott Proctor. Proctor, the last pitcher out of the bullpen, had been home dealing with an emergency operation for his young daughter. While Proctor blew the game, Mariano Rivera, the Yanks’ best reliever, watched from the bullpen. A better decision by Torre could bring the Yanks to a hypothetical 4-2.

Finally, against the Angels, the Yankees were just victims of bad, bad luck. During last night’s game, the Angels made four key defensive plays that all saved the game. Had any of those plays not been made, the Yankees could be returning home from the road trip 5-1.

That is not to say that everything is perfect in Yankee-land. We’ve seen the flaws of the Yankees up close and personal. Their defense is shoddy; they’re bench is just plain awful; and the team may be putting too much pressure on themselves to hit home runs. When they returned to basics on Sunday with run-scoring doubles and timely base hits, they won. On Friday and Saturday, everyone went up to the plate looking to hit that game-winning home run.

But for all of their losses, things aren’t looking that bad. They held the A’s, the trendy pick for World Series champions, largely in check for two games. They allowed just 8 runs to the team that defeated them in the playoffs last October. Their suspect pitchers exceeded any expectations at the start of the season. The bullpen looks better than it has in years, and Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are throwing as well as they ever do.

One could argue that the Yanks won’t face a challenge as tough as the Angels and A’s back to back until they play a series against Toronto to end the month and one against the Red Sox to open May. If that is indeed the way the rest of April plays out, this shaky start will be a distant memory by the time the Yanks and Red Sox square off on May 1.

As the Royals come to town this week for three in Stadium, I would expect a grand homecoming for the Bombers. With a few more odd bounces and missed pop-ups by their opponents, the Yankees’ luck will challenge, and that 2-4 record could turn into a 5-4 mark by Thursday.

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Stadium deal a “win-win” for the Yanks and no one else

The Yankees’ season may have started with a West Coast whimper, but back home, George Steinbrenner finally secured the elusive stadium deal he has always wanted.

On Wednesday, the New York City Council overwhelming approved the Yankees’ construction plans for a new stadium just north of the current Yankee Stadium. With this vote, old historic Yankee Stadium is destined for the junkyard while a new McStadium will take its place.

As a lifelong die-hard Yankee fan, I cannot be more disappointed. What’s wrong with Yankee Stadium? Nothing. Sure, it may not have wide concourses or enough luxury boxes to line King George’s pockets with gold, but it is a great place to see a game. It doesn’t need kids’ play areas, special food gimmicks, or trains in the outfield to draw in fans. In fact, a record-setting four million fans agree with me here.

People go to Yankee Stadium to see the outfield where Ruth played, where Mantle played, where the Yankees won World Series and captured American League pennats. It may not be the fatest stadium to get out of after a game, but it’s Yankee Stadium. Nothing can ever replace it. Ask Cubs and Red Sox fans how they feel about their stadiums. It is this same sense of history.

So while I am outraged over a definite lack of Yankee fan uproar over these plans to destroy the House that Ruth Built, I’d like to step back and look at the finances behind this deal…

Lusting for Clemens, Pettitte brings back old Yankee memories

Dreams of 2000 are dancing in the heads of Yankee fans.

Jon Heyman, sports columnist for Newsday, is the one to blame for these pipe dreams. In Monday’s column, Heyman wrote that the Yankees are trying to convince Roger Clemens to join them for the 2006 campaign.

If Clemens opts for retirement or another season in Astros, the Yankees are lusting after Andy Pettitte, a pitcher they never should have lost in the first place. According to Heyman, the Yankees recognize that Pettitte’s contract, like nearly every Astros contract these days, is heavily backloaded. The Astros owe Pettitte $10.5 million in 2006 and $17.5 million in 2006. If Houston falls out of contention, the Yankees would be more than willing to assume the financial risk to get Pettitte back in pinstripes.

At least, those are the plans, according to Heyman. But why not both of them? Hey, these are the Yankees we’re talkin’ about. They’re rolling in dough. They had Clemens and Pettitte a few years ago. Why can’t they have Pettitte, Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Mike Mussina all pitching together? It would be the geriatric pitching convention. But age aside, how would the Yankees’ finances hold up with Clemens or Pettitte or both on board?

Currently, according to the excellent Hardball Dollars site, the Yankees owe players a guaranteed $183.77 million in 2006. That does not include the approximately $3 million Shawn Chacon will make or the league minimum doled out to Robinson Cano and Andy Phillips for their services this year. With those three included, the Yanks’ payroll will probably hit $187.5 million on Opening Day. Considering that the 2005 payroll was over $210 million, this is clearly a step in the right direction for the Bombers.

That is, unless they sign Clemens. Last year, Roger Clemens made $18 million, the most ever for a pitcher. And he earned every penny of it. He pitched to a 1.87 ERA and brought the Astros to their first World Series appearance. Despite his age, there’s little reason to believe that Clemens would regress too much. Were he to sign with the Yankees he would be pitching in the offensive-rich AL East instead of the fairly weak NL Central. He would have to face the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Devil Rays. And he would probably cost the Yankees upwards of $15-18 million, bringing payroll closer to 2005’s astronomical figure.

With Clemens, the Yankees would become even more favored to win the AL title. But they would be spending more money than they wish. General Manager Brian Cashman has expressed a desire to build a leaner Yankee team, but the Bombers are clearly willing to make an exception if it means landing Roger Clemens for one last tour of duty. And, heck, the Yankees already are paying Clemens nearly $1 million in deferred salary in 2006. What’s a few more million?

Now, what if Clemens decides to retire? What if he signs with Houston but falls apart midway through the season? The Yankee fans, according to Heyman, will be rooting for the Astros to struggle because Andy Pettitte awaits on the horizon.

But Pettitte doesn’t really fit into Brian Cashman’s masterplan either. For 2006, the Yankees could easily take on Pettitte’s $10 million. In fact, I still can’t get over the fact that they let him go in the first place following the 2003 season. So if they got him back this year, it wouldn’t break the bank. The Yankees routinely pick up bulky contracts at the trade deadline. Sometimes it pays off (David Justice); sometimes it does not.

The problem is for 2007. The Yankees would owe Pettitte $17.5 million ($10 million in salary and $7.5 million in deferred payments). This would mean that the Yanks would owe ten players $123 million. They would be 15 players short of a full roster and already just a few million behind the next highest salary. It would hardly be financially prudent for the Yanks to paying so many players in their mid- to late-30s a lot of money.

Additionally, the Yankees would have to ship away a highly regarded prospect to land Pettitte. Even if the Yankees were willing to assume the salary, Pettitte wouldn’t come cheap, and the Astros know that. As the Yankees are interested in rebuilding a depleted farm system, the acquisition of Pettitte could throw a wrench into those plans.

So as Spring Training approaches and reporters look for stories, I can believe that the Yankees are interested in acquiring Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, or both. But when October rolls around, I certainly won’t be surprised if neither of them are pitching in the Bronx. These are just dreams from a long-gone dynasty.

Yankees sign Jesus to fill the shoes of Bernie

So Scott Boras was telling the truth all along: There really was a stealth team involved in the Johnny Damon sweepstakes. And that team was none other than the New York Yankees.

Earlier tonight, Johnny Damon, long the lead Idiot on the Boston Red Sox, and the Yankees came to an agreement on a four-year, $52-million contract for the 32-year-old center fielder. Damon fills in a gaping hole in the Yankees outfield and will assume the leadoff position in an offensively packed lineup.

With this signing, it’s hard to argue with the Yankees lineup. With Damon leading off, Jeter to follow, and then A-Rod, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams, this team packs a punch one through eight.

Five of the top six guys in the lineup scored more than 100 runs last year while four of them topped 190 hits. This is a team of hitters who will always be on base, who will be aggressive on the baseball paths with the top of the lineup, and who will bludgeon opponents to death by scoring runs. Whether the pitching can support the offense is another matter entirely.

But numbers and dreams of runs scored aside, I find myself incredibly torn over this signing. On one hand, I see it as a good move. The Yanks knew they had a hole in centerfield, and they filled it with the best option out there. Granted, Damon won’t be the strong-armed fielder the Yankees would have liked to see. But he’ll cover the ground in centerfield just as well as he did in Fenway’s vast outfield. You can bet that the days of Bubba Crosby-Gary Sheffield collisions are long gone.

On the other hand, the Yankees are giving a 32-year-old who could be starting the decline phase of his career a contract worth $13 million a year for four years. Damon will be 35 in the final year of this contract. Hopefully, he’ll age a little more gracefully than did the incumbent Yankees center fielder Bernabe Williams. I’m not too keen on seeing another $13 million go to waste as it did in 2005 on Williams.

On the other other hand (the third hand?), it’s freakin’ JOHNNY DAMON. My emotional response kicks in. This guy is an IDIOT. This guy ruined the hopes of Yankee fans everywhere when he effectively ended Javier Vazquez’s brief pinstripe career with an ill-timed Grand Slam in game 7 of that obscene 2004 American League Championship Series. This is dirty Johnny Damon who needs a freakin’ haircut.

I couldn’t stand this guy for years while he was on the Red Sox. I couldn’t stand the way he throws or the annoying amounts of attention paid to his hair. I couldn’t stand the fact that he beat the Yankees. That doesn’t happen. The Red Sox don’t beat the Yankees!

To make matters worse, he’s replacing one of my all-time favorite Yankees. I’ve grown up with Bernie Williams. He was in the first Yankee yearbooks I have as somebody “down on the Farm.” He’s started on every Yankee playoff and World Series team in my lifetime. I can’t remember the days when he wasn’t patrolling center field. I even have his jersey. Bernie’s been on the Yankees since I was eight. I’m 22 now. That’s nearly two-thirds of my life. I know it was time for Bernie to vacate centerfield, but now I have to root for the enemy! This Johnny Damon fellow? No thanks.

As the Yankees contemplate another run for the American League East title with a team that features Johnny Damon, the loveable and cuddly Randy Johnson, and everyone’s favorite Alex Rodriguez, I’ll go to bed tonight dreaming of the championship era of Andy Pettitte, Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, and yes, Bernie Williams.

Yanks’ financial woes cause for Major League concern

By now, the Yankees current financial situation has been plastered all over the New York tabloids, and the picture is bleak. As The New York Daily News reported on Sunday, the Yankees are in the red for up to $80 million in 2005. If the Yankees follow through on their promises to cut payroll, the ramifications could be felt throughout Major League Baseball.

For the Yankees, losing money is not a new proposition. The Bombers lost close to $40 million in 2004, and because of complicated Major League accounting rules, those who own the Yankees may not have lost actual dollars due to the money made through TV. However, the Yankees as a baseball club represent a losing financial entity, and as such, the principals involved in the team want to turn red ink into black regardless of how this may play out with Major League Baseball on the whole.

On a team level, the Yankees’ losses mean an attempt at reining in the payroll. Considering the over-the-top spending from George’s win-now days from the winter of 2001 through the end of the 2004 season, this may not be such an easy task. According to Hardball Dollars, the Yankees are on the hook in 2008 for $92 million.

As Brian Cashman has repeatedly said this winter, the Yankees are trying to lower their astronomical $200-million payroll. As far back as last winter, the effects of this belt-tightening has impacted the Yankees’ ability to fill holes. Because this team was eager to land free agents such as Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi and had to do so at exorbitant costs, the Bombers could not pursue centerfielder Carlos Beltran last year when he was willing to give the Yanks a significant discount. Now, as the December meetings are upon us, the Yankees are seriously considering using Bubba Crosby and his career .253 on-base percentage as the starting center fielder next year. The cost of irresponsible contracts goes beyond the team the Yankees can field.

While fans of other teams are happy to see the Yankees struggle to land free agents and smile with glee when Cashman talks about lowering payroll back to, oh, just the $180 million level, little do they realize what a lower Yankee payroll would mean to the game. Currently, the Yankees, according to the Daily News, dole out around $75 million in revenue sharing and another $33 million in luxury taxes under the 2002 Basic Agreement. If the tenets of this agreement are upheld after they expire next year, a lower Yankee payroll could mean less money for Major League Baseball.

Currently, revenue sharing is calculated as a percentage of net local revenue. Here’s how it works, according to Basic Agreement:

Each Club contributes 34% of its Net Local Revenue to a putative pool; that pool is then divided equally among all Clubs, with the difference between each Club’s payment into the putative pool and its receipt therefrom producing the net payment or net receipt for that Club

Now, at this point, it’s tough to tell how the Yankees’ contribution to the revenue sharing plan would be affected by a decrease in payroll. Since payroll is not a part of the revenue equation, a lower payroll will have no baring on the Yankees’ revenue sharing contributions. Rather, as the Yankees raise ticket prices in an effort to offset the losses, they may end up making more net local revenue and, in turn, would have to contribute more total dollars to the revenue sharing plan. This does not mean, however, that the Yankees would be losing as much money. No one ever said the economics of baseball were straightforward.

Where Major League Baseball would feel the pinch of a lower Yankees payroll comes from the luxury tax side of the equation. Currently, the Yankees in 2005 are paying out $33 million luxury taxes. Next year, as multiple-year offenders, they’ll again have to pay about 40 percent of their total payroll in excess of the luxury tax threshold of $136.5 million. If the Yankees’ payroll decreases and their luxury tax contributions decrease as well, some of Major League Baseball’s important programs may suffer in turn.

Currently, the luxury tax – or as it is properly called, the Competitive Balance Tax – funds three different programs, according to the Basic Agreement. One program concerns player benefits. The second focuses around “projects and other efforts to develop baseball players in countries where organized high school baseball is not played.” The third is the Industry Growth Fund, a program designed “to enhance fan interest in the game; to increase baseball’s popularity; and to ensure industry growth into the 21st Century.” Here, the Yankees economics represent the biggest challenge to the financial structure of Major League Baseball. The MLB powers-that-be would, in my opinion, be loathe to see the Yankees try to cut payroll because this, in turn, means less money for this Industry Growth Fund.

Hypothetically, if the Yankees were to keep their payroll at its current projected $169 million (with many bullpen and centerfield holes), the Yankees’ revenue sharing contributions would decrease from $33 million in 2005 to just $13.5 million in 2006. While the Yankees are not the only luxury tax offenders, they are the only team paying in 2005 over $900,000 in luxury taxes. (The Red Sox owed around $860,000 this year.) If the Yankees were to decrease their payroll and their luxury tax contributions, Major League Baseball’s expansion efforts would see a significant decrease in potential funds. While it is possible for Major League Baseball to draw these funds from other sources – the Basic Agreement allows for discretionary contributions from the 30 clubs – this fund is tied in closely with the Yankees’ payroll, as were the intentions of the owners and players throughout the negotiations in 2002.

So then these convoluted economics leave baseball in a bit of a catch-22. The Yankees’ efforts to close their economic operating gap could mean more revenue sharing money. The other teams would profit and ostensibly, if the money were to go toward player contracts, a competitive balance would become a closer reality. However, at the same time, a lower Yankee payroll means less money for the Industry Growth Fund.

In the end, baseball’s zany economics set forth in 2002 seem to have taken the sport a step closer to its goal: The Yankees are no longer spending money as freely as they once were and a competitive system is falling into place. At the same time, MLB has to face the reality of less funds available for industry growth. The logic, to me, seems to be that if competitive balance is restored, games that count for more teams later in the season will provide enough industry growth to offset a smaller Yankee contribution to the Competitive Balance Tax. If this plan doesn’t fall through, baseball will once again be stuck with a strange set of economic circumstances heading into the 2006 season where a labor deal will once again dominate the headlines.

Yankees quiet off-season no cause for concern

Mets ink Wagner to $43 million deal…Marlins ship Delgado to Mets…Red Sox land Beckett in blockbuster…Ryan signs $47 million contract with Blue Jays…Phillies, White Sox swap Thome, Rowand…Phillies eye Gordon to close…Indians pursue Hoffmann…

The off-season headlines just keep on coming, and they all have one thing in common: No mention of the Bronx Bombers’ involvement in any potential blockbuster move. Sure, Brian Giles’ name has been thrown around, but the former San Diego outfielder will probably stay on the West Coast. Outside of Hideki Matsui’s contract negotiations which ended two weeks, it’s been a quiet off season for the Yankees.

For many Yankee fans, a quiet off-season is cause for concern. The Red Sox, the panicked among us say, have loaded up on a new young arm and a third baseman. The Mets have made a ton of moves, and GM Omar Minaya has a potential trade with the Red Sox for a certain Washington Heights native on the horizon. The Blue Jays have issued a statement to the American League East and could end this off-season with A.J. Burnett and Kevin Mench joining their squad north of the border. Even the Devil Rays have gotten in on the action, signing young outfielder Rocco Baldelli to a contract extension.

Over at Bronx Banter, readers commenting to Alex Belth’s most recent post have called upon the Yankees just to do something. Trade Robinson Cano. Send Chien Ming-Wang west for Barry Zito. Say good bye to Jorge Posada. Offer Tom Gordon another year. But just do something.

I say, hold your horses. A quiet off-season while others are active is no cause for concern. And while some people are already inking in the Yankees for a third-place finish in the American League East, I say this throwing-in-the-towel mentality is utterly misguided.

First, with an offensive team like the Yankees, it’s hard to give up in the middle of November. At this point in the off-season, the Yankees still have an offense built around Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Robinson Cano, and Jorge Posada. While everyone will be another year older, production will hardly decline. This group, handicapped by nearly 350 Tony Womack plate appearances, was the core of an offense that scored 886 runs last year, second only to the Red Sox.

The starting rotation too is seemingly in place. The Yanks still have a rotation fronted by Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina with Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Shawn Chacon, Chien Ming-Wang, and Aaron Small all in the wings. While those seven starters don’t exactly inspire the same confidence in a fan as, say, the White Sox starters or Yankee rotations from the late 1990s do, there’s more certainty in the Yankees’ rotation than there is in Boston where Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon, and Tim Wakefield’s 4.00+ ERA are the only sure things. How will Curt Schilling, another year older, bounce back? How was Matt Clement bounce back after taking one to the head and never being the same? Will Bronson Arroyo put it together for a season? Will the Sox let him? Will David Wells ship out to the West Coast?

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are also looking at a scenario where they are left with no Manny Ramirez whose career .314/.409/.599 make him virtually irreplaceable from anyone in the history of the game. They may not have their table setter Johnny Damon and may have to turn to a less-than-ideal situation at first base.

This is of course not to say that the Red Sox are going to be bad next year. I expect them to compete evenly with the Yanks. But one trade does not an off-season or a World Series title make.

At this point, the Yankees need to shore up their bullpen and find someone to stick in center field. I think Tom Gordon will sign with the Phillies for an inexplicable (for Philadelphia) three years to close. I have little faith in Gordon’s abilities to pitch effectively for three years and even less faith in his abilities to close. Other appealing relief options Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry have signed on with the Cubbies. So the Yanks may have to improvise and cross their fingers.

But in the end, it’s still just November and opening day is a long time away. Don’t count out the Yankees when they still have one of the game’s best offense and a deep rotation even if it’s deep with 3-4-5 hurlers instead of 1-2 starters. Rivera will still be closing games, and Derek and A-Rod will still be leading off. Things just aren’t that bad right now in Yankee-land.

Bat Boy shows what happens to a dream fulfilled

For decades, baseball writing has long delved into two sides to the sport. Some of the best works have described the game on the field and its social interaction with America. Recently, authors have delved into the front-office strategies of General Managers as they struggle with baseball’s twisted economics. Now, a highly enjoyable new book, Bat Boy: My True Adventures Coming of Age with the New York Yankees, by 30-year-old Matthew McGough, shows something not often seen in literature: the behind-the-scenes madness that permeates a Major League Baseball clubhouse every night for 162 games.

McGough’s book, witty and serious, entertaining and nostalgic (if it’s even possible to be nostalgic for the early 1990s), is certainly one to add to an ever-growing list of classic tales about baseball and its effects on the lives of impressionable teenagers growing up in America.

McGough’s story is the stuff every eight-year-old boy’s dreams are made of. He became a Yankee fan during the summer of Dave Righetti’s no-hitter and George Brett’s infamous pine-tar game. As a teenager sitting in the back row of the right-field bleachers, he eyed the bat boy and decided to write a letter to the Yankees asking if he could join the team in that same position. Improbably, the team hired McGough, and in April of 1992, McGough joined a team that had finished the previous season at 71-91 in fifth place.

As McGough’s memoir follows the Yanks as they stumble to a 76-86 record in 1992, he delves into the ins and outs of life in a Major League clubhouse. On his first day at work, a starstruck McGough is sent by Don Mattingly to find a bat stretch because, ostensibly, all of Donnie Baseball’s bats shrunk during the flight up from Spring Training in Florida. McGough survives this prank, and over time, he grows increasingly more comfortable as he realizes that these baseball players are normal people too.

The first half of the book focuses largely on the inner workings of the clubhouse. McGough introduces clubhouse manager Nick Priore as a no-frills, down-to-business type of guy whose constant stream of profanities and insults keep the teenage bat boys on their heels at all times. As McGough details his day-to-day dealings, a new baseball world is shown to the world. This isn’t a tale of the riches of baseball and the fame of the players as they don pinstripes or win World Series titles. Rather, McGough lets the reader in on the life of those who are responsible for shining everyone’s spikes, for cleaning up the mess after a player takes out his frustration on the nearest TV set, toilet, or food spread, for running errands for the players, and for running out those new balls to the umpires.

For every story about the doors the Yankees could unlock, such as road trips driving Matt Nokes’ SUV up from Spring Training and gaining access to Fort Lauderdale bars without the benefit of an ID, Bat Boy doesn’t hesitate to highlight cruder aspects of the job as well, including the nasty temperament of a drunk Mickey Mantle on Old Timers’ Day. One of the major events to mark McGough’s time as the Yankee bat boy was his and a friend’s involvement in the Network, a pyramid scheme that swept the New York metropolitan area during the winter of 1992-1993. Introduced to the network by Priore despite a tacit disapproval from Rob Cucuzza, Priore’s assistant, McGough and his friend each end up $750 short when the scheme falls apart. Later on, McGough lands into trouble when a CD-for-memorabilia deal goes awry.

For all its charm – and one of the book’s strenghts is its charm – the continued apeearance of Nick Priore was one spot where I wanted more dirt. A few years after McGough’s time with the Yankees was up, Nick Priore was fired from the Yankees for clubhouse theft, and he and his family have been in and out of the headlines over the last few years. Most recently, Priore’s name came up when mob connections to the New York Mets were divulged in the Daily News a few months ago. But before that, his son Paul had been involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit against members of the Yankees. The suit, largely forgotten in New York these days, alleged rampant homosexuality and homophobia in the Yankee clubhouse. It was dismissed without a hearing. McGough’s narrative is noticeably silent on any of these topics. While a long tangent on these issues wouldn’t have fit the narrative tone of the memoir, the prominence of Priore in the tale hinted at a darker side of the clubhouse left unexplored by McGough’s book.

In the end, it’s easy to love McGough’s book if only for the reason that every fan once dreamed of being a Major League bat boy. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a memoir, and in that role, it passes with flying colors. It is a quick, fun and funny read that, in an age of statistical-oriented books and anti-Moneyball diatribes, returns baseball writing to the timeless genre of the coming-of-age tale, and it shows that baseball players, bat boys and clubhouse managers are, just like you and me, real people with real failings and real power whether they know how to use it or not.


RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread November 23, 2017
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’ve got some family obligations the next few days, so unless the Yankees make some news — I don’t expect that to happen, but you never know — posting is going to pretty light around here through the weekend. I’ve got one link to pass along and it’s kinda old, but I […] The post Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread appeared first on […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Gleyber Torres will compete for a roster spot next spring, and that’s a good thing even if he won’t win one November 22, 2017
    You know what’s pretty awesome? The Yankees have a great young core at the big league level in Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. That’s the unanimous 2017 AL Rookie of the Year and 2017 AL MVP runner-up, the third place finisher in the 2017 AL Cy Young voting, and the 2016 AL Rookie […] The post Gleyber Torres will compete for a roster spot next […]
    Mike Axisa
  • RAB Live Chat November 22, 2017
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • The Collapse of Tyler Clippard [2017 Season Review] November 22, 2017
    When you blog about baseball as much as I do, you need to keep a list of topics and notes handy. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve come up with in the middle of the night only to forget them in the morning. I used to keep everything jotted down in a […] The post The Collapse of Tyler Clippard [2017 Season Review] appeared first on River Avenue Blues […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Mailbag: Braves Prospects, Rule 5 Draft, Kinsler, Appel, Judge November 22, 2017
    No, it’s not Friday, but it is Thanksgiving week and I have family obligations the next few days. It was either post the mailbag today or not at all this week, so today it is. We’ve got eleven questions this week. RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the mailbag email address. Many asked: Will the […] The post Mailbag: Braves Prospects, Rule 5 Draft, Kinsler, […]
    Mike Axisa
  • MLB, NPB, MLBPA agree to new posting system, paving the way for Ohtani to come over this offseason November 22, 2017
    Shohei Ohtani will indeed get a chance to play in Major League Baseball next season. MLB, NPB, and the MLBPA agreed to a new posting system prior to tonight’s deadline, according to multiple reports. Ohtani will be grandfathered in under the old posting agreement this offseason, meaning the Nippon Ham Fighters will receive a $20M […] The post MLB, NPB, MLBPA […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Tuesday Night Open Thread November 22, 2017
    Earlier today Hall of Famer Joe Morgan sent a letter to the Hall of Fame voting body imploring them not to vote players connected to performance-enhancing drugs into the Hall of Fame. Two problems with that. One, there are already players who used PEDs in the Hall of Fame. Players used to pop amphetamines (“greenies”) […] The post Tuesday Night Open Thread a […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Aaron Judge undergoes left shoulder surgery, will be ready for Spring Training November 21, 2017
    Turns out Aaron Judge wrapping his left shoulder with a big ice pack after each game in the second half was more than routine maintenance. Judge had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder yesterday, the Yankees announced. The procedure “involved a loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up,” and his recovery will be completed in time for Spring […] The post Aar […]
    Mike Axisa
  • The Other Excellent Rookie [2017 Season Review] November 21, 2017
    The Yankees headed into Spring Training with the fifth starter role entirely up in the air (that’s true of the fourth spot, as well, but now is not the time to discuss how awesome it was that Luis Severino went from “competing for a spot” to “finalist for the Cy Young Award”). Brian Cashman specifically […] The post The Other Excellent Rookie [2017 Season Re […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Thoughts following the Rule 5 Draft protection deadline November 21, 2017
    It has been three weeks since the Astros won the World Series and we’re still waiting for something exciting to happen this offseason. Yesterday was the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, and that’s the most exciting thing that has happened so far […] The post Thoughts following the Rule 5 Draft prot […]
    Mike Axisa

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