Results tagged ‘ George Steinbrenner ’
When I was young, my Father used to tell me there would be these moments in my life where everything seems clear and clarity will be at its zenith for a time. Last night, in the mass chaos of extra innings, mutual outstanding pitching performances and the hustle and bustle of players clamering on their teammates like 10-year olds celebrating a Little League title, the moon, stars and heaven seemed to align perfectly to enlighten myself and the 26,906 other witnesses to one of the most fabulous baseball games in 2010.
What all of us saw before us last night was a barn-burner pitcher’s guessing game to their last pitches between two of the most dominating southpaws in the American League. Both trying to get destiny to give them a wink in deciding who would get a “bump up” in the American League Cy Young race. We saw the wily veteran presence of New York Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia going not only for a knockout blow in the Cy Young race, but trying to hit the 20 win plateau for the first time in his career.
On the other side of the coin was this year’s wunderkid, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price who not only got the nod of rival Yankees Manager Joe Girardi over one of his own pitchers for the start of the 81st All-Star Game, but has seen his own stock rising as quickly as the donuts as Price tries to keep the wins comings to (maybe) become the first Rays pitcher EVER to record 20 wins.
This incredible pitching match-up was only the 11th time in the last 10 years that two 17+ win starters squared off in a contest. It was the first time since 1985 that both pitchers had 17+ wins and went 8 scoreless innings each in the same contest. The last time was Sept 11,1985 when ex-Rays, the NY Mets pitcher Doc Gooden went up against St. Louis Cardinals hurler John Tudor, who ended up throwing a 10 inning shutout that night. Gooden threw 9 innings and was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning. Met reliever Jesse Orosco gave up a solo shot to Cesar Cedeno for the lone Cardinal run.
As if you need to boosting the hype of this match-up any higher, was the fact that both Sabathia (19 wins) and Price (17 wins) were ranked 1 and 2 in the American League in victories at the time. This was also only the second time either had faced the other in a regular season MLB game. The first time was Sunday, Oct. 2, 2009 also at Tropicana Field, when Sabathia was trying to post his 20th win for 2009. Price and the Rays derailed that days chance at Sabathia 20th win mark with a 13-3 final that was highlighted by B J Upton’s cycle of his career.
Tonight’s match-up quickly materialized into a showdown between the uncharacteristic impatient Rays, who were trying to jump on Sabathia pitches early hoping for mistakes across the plate, and Price’s inability to get the Yankee hitters to take tasty swings just outside the zone. The tables oddly turned 180 degrees tonight as the Yankees seemed to be playing the Rays usual game plan of staying patient at the plate and looking for misguided morsels to hit, while the Rays, who struck out 14 times (Sabathia had 9 K’s) just seemed to be hoping for mistakes, but getting odd calls and mismatched pitches to start any type of rallying point.
This contest definitely fits into the category of an instant baseball classic moment as two young hurlers went about their craft chiseling and honing the strike zone all night long with Sabathia turning out a nice piece of furniture for his efforts, while Price fashioned his own great masterpiece himself in the process. But each pitchers path in this pitcher’s duel took different path, but each did not benefit with a chance for a win in the end.
Back and forth the game went as both teams made strides that bordered on the verge of breaking the game wide open, but their counterpart team’s defense simply made the obvious holes smaller and performed their own feats of magic to take this game long into the night. And that was surprising because the game seemed to be going at a record pace, but suddenly hit a bit of molasses patch and instantly went to a baby’s crawl.
More amazingly is the fact that if Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford had not gotten thrown out of the game by Home Plate Umpire Tom Hallion for arguing balls and strikes, this game could have conceivably gone on for even longer. When Crawford was ejected in the bottom of the ninth inning, Rays rookie infielder Reid Brignac went into the game and assumed Crawford’s third slot in the line-up.
Brignac worked the count to 3-2 before sending a screamer 383 feet into the Rightfield stands for the Walk-off winner. As the Rays assembled for the “team meeting” at Home Plate for Brignac, certain key facts instantly came out about the blast. Brignac became the first AL player to hit a walk-off homers in extra innings for a 1-0 score since former Rays hitter Aubrey Huff did it against the Rays on May 9, 2007. Brigs was also the first rookie to blast a solo shot to win a 1-0 game since the L A Dodger’s Russell Martin did it on August 13, 2006 against the San Diego Padres.
Most people would think the fact it marked the first time since June 13th that the Rays held onto sole possession of first place in the AL East would be the defining moment in this game. But there were many flashes of brilliance and moments of clarity in this contest. It showed the best two lefties in the AL right now matching pitch-for-pitch in a game with neither getting a chance to capitalize. It saw another Rays bench player come out of the dugout and perform an inspirational moment for all of us to remember deep into the Winter.
J Meric/Getty Images
Most of all this contest showed the true essence of the heart, soul and determination that neither of these teams are expecting the other to back down or go quietly into the night for the duration of the 2010 schedule. In the end, the team that their former owner, the late George Steinbrenner once told me that “the pesky Ray keeps his Yankees honest on the field” found a way to cement another solid performance in all of our hearts. If this keeps up, Tampa Bay will go through a boatload of Pepto by Wednesday night by followers of both teams.
I was glancing today through the new Sports Illustrated that appeared somehow in my Baseball bag and noticed an article in the back of the magazine with the title: “Baseball Needs a New Boss”. Of course after reading that title you would think it might be a rousing call for a change at the top of baseball, with Bud Selig in the cross hairs. But it is not, it is a call for the next generation of “The Boss” Now when you hear or see that name in a paper, blog, or even in a video you only have one true name come to mind, and no, I am not talking about Bruce Springsteen either here.
George Steinbrenner in his prime was one of those pesky flies that buzz your brain, or neighbors that always had an opinion, and was sure to go to the mountain top and tell the entire neighborhood house by house. He might have had a menacing type of management style, but it was effective to a “T”. For some reason, the sport has seemed a bit dull since the Boss officially gave the reins of the New York Yankee conglomerate to his sons only 6 months ago. Hank has tried to be the Boss reincarnated at times, but he lacks the consistent drive and passion his father did in making a scene, then getting his point across with hard nosed facts and a few very loud comments to follow the noise throughout the league.
We truly need another guy like him. There are millions of ideas popping throughout the blogging community on how to improve and even save the game we all love daily. But there is not that loud resonating voice to carry it out into the darkness and awaken the sleepy heads of the baseball hierarchy. George is now 78 years old, and might still have the heart and the passion of a much younger man, but his body is finally giving him a sign to slow down and be more of a silent partner. And you know that is killing him inside. He is not the visual persona of the Yankee faithful anymore. His rare outings are confined to his new Yankee Stadium opening, and a select number of charity and speaking engagements. He is mostly situated in his Westshore Blvd. home in Tampa, Florida now watching from a distance, but you know he yearns to be in the fray of it all.
I got the privilege of meeting George on Super Bowl Sunday about 10 years ago when he was out chatting with a NFL vendor selling merchandise at the roadside for the big game. He and his bodyguard/chauffeur were at a small gas station at Kennedy Blvd and West Shore and he was getting ready to go to the game as a guest of Malcom Glazer, the Tampa Bay Bucs owner. We stood there talking for about 10 minutes about his team and his recent hiring of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry and the wild new rivalry starting between the then Devilrays and his beloved Bronx Boys. He was very courteous and polite, and was a bit of a joy to speak with on that roadside. I could not see the horror that most sports people saw in the man that day. But then it wasn’t baseball season, and his team had just finished another great season months earlier.
So who do we have in the ownership community in baseball right now who could become the next “Boss”?. Could it be the ever loving Stuart Sternberg, the Rays owner? I am inclined to say that Sternberg has too much of a good guy charisma going for him in the ownership circles. He has been one of those guys already who just seem happy to be here and is loving the ride. But then again, the team has not floundered and we could see another side of him if the day turns dark and the skies are filled with boos in the stadium. But, no, he is not in the running or even on the ballot for this post. We need to find another Marge Schott in the majors right now. You know, someone who treats her dogs with more respect than her team or its players. For a short time there, in the past I thought Ted Turner when he was up on that Atlanta Braves totem pole might be another great “boss”, but he fell from grace and sold his soul to Liberty Media Corp.
Who among the current owners is at least has the spunk potential of “The Boss”? I guess the best answer to that might be in the genes of the previous boss. Hank Steinbrenner has the boldness and the “foot in mouth” karma he father possessed, but he is more tactical and more driven by the sheer dollar signs than his father right now. His passion for the game is without question a fraction of his father’s, but time and the American League East standings could change that. Maybe it might be the crew of owners not firmly seated into the ownership bubble yet that could make some noise. Troy Aikman is a part of the new San Diego Padres ownership conglomerate. Maybe he can pull out one of the old Barry Switzer’s speeches and get some fires built under the wealth group, but then again, he has always been a team player and might be happy in a behind-the-scenes role that pumping his fist and bellowing throughout the San Diego community.
Or maybe it might be the proposed new owner of the Chicago Cubs. You know the same guy who is now pimping $ 25 million pacts to the Windy City celebrities to come on board on the ground level of his bid to take over the team from the Tribune Corp. Such a bold move to even try and bring in the celebrity Cubbies like Bill Murray, John Cusack, and Jim Belushi could be just the kettle beginning to boil a bit for the soon-to-be confirmed owner. But then again who is this guy………….Oh, he is Tom Ricketts, who is a part of the TD Ameritrade brood that brought you that adorable baby winning at golf from a high chair. Could he be the guy to take over the boss’s karma and lead the baseball top tier back into the light?
I would love to think he would based on his unconventional measures and outlandish schemes to get the extra capital to purchase the Cubbies. But, you never know, he could just be hiding his true personality until they get to know him, then spring on them like a cheetah on a helpless zebra. But really, the current mosh pit of MLB owners doesn’t have another brash, abrasive owner in their mix. They all seem to either be business men who love baseball, or just plain business men. So far I will have to give the nod to Hank for coming the closest to his father. His throwing away contracts and players like an ol
d Reggie candy bar wrapper this season is a perfect example of Steinbrenner-ism.
I mean even his taunting of the powerful Red Sox Nation earlier in the year is an action that is becoming a Steinbrenner. But still, he is in the infancy stage of his transformation into a true baseball owner. He is silent and respectful now, but who knows what will come of his personality or his behavior once he feels like he belongs in the ivory tower for good. Even during the recent Yankee pitfall to a cellar spot he seemed to stand by and watch while in the past his father would have bellowed that everyone from the ticket taker to the General Manager was accountable for the team’s success.
Some one has to come forward soon, because I can truly say I miss the old George Steinbrenner rants and raves. I truly think if Joe Girardi survives this year with the Yankees, he had better play the Lotto, because you know the previous owner would have been down in that clubhouse looking for a few skins for his wall by now. Baseball needs these figures to bring the top tier closer to believability for the fans.
I am lucky to be a Rays fan, because Sternberg is always on the field or strolling the stadium walkways talking to fans and is very hands-on when he is here. But you never know, maybe before the end of the 2009 season some owner will come forward and question the status quo, or might even embark on a crusade to lighten up the owner’s box and let the fan enjoy some more “George” somewhere in baseball. So let the search begin for the new coming of “The Boss” I miss that growl more and more every day.
The MLB Winter Meetings 2008 are now up and running, both Yankees head honcho Hank Steinbrenner and Met’s guru Omar Minaya are hunting for big game and will be seen all over the Las Vegas strip in small cubbieholes and behind the green curtain at your favorite steakhouse looking for that prized piece to their team’s puzzle. It is interesting that the meetings are in Vegas, not for the show and the flash, but for the bet big or leave philosophy.
And these two teams are the optimus primes of the 2009 seasons. People come to the city in the desert for different reasons, to make it big on the Strip, combine their luck with some skill to gain some cold hard cash, or maybe even leave with a prize beyond beliefs. Whatever your reason to come to the neon city, sometime what you do in Vegas can haunt you an entire season. And during the next several days, both these men will try and hone, piece together and ride the winning team to their goals. Or will both of them crap out and go home losers? That is doubtful, but this city can turn dreams in dust as fast as a roll of the dices.
Vegas has never been known as poor mans’ town. Not even in the early days of the Flamingo Hotel and the Golden Nugget did the town have a soft spots for losers or the weakly-rich. It is a town built on the riches of others and is not a forgiving town in the least. Wealth has always been thrown around the strip either for power or control. This years MLB Winter Meetings will not be any different.
The filthy rich are throwing contracts at the player du jour like a man with a gambling problem. Two of the biggest bets this season are pitchers’ C C Sabathia and Francisco Rodriquez. Both are considered the “aces” for both of the New York teams’ folly into the neons lights of Vegas. Both can either make the town smile or leave everyone in the state of disbelief that baseball fails to secure the prizes for the city. This is not to discount the power-hitters like Mark Teixiera or Raul Ibanez, or even shove under the table any discussions about them. But these two pitchers are the “make ot or break it” commodities of the two New York franchises.
Alot of poker is left to play in the Hot Stove season. Pots are boiling all over the place and people are starting to ladle out their favorites and make moves to secure their new seasons. After these two high end players either get signed or walk away from the tables, the rest of the cards will fall into place around the league. The benchmark salaries or contracts might be sitting in a Las Vegas hotel right now gaining dust or being prodded like cattle to search for loopholes or advantages. The next few days are critical for baseball, becuase as soon as the big boys leave the tables, the rest of the teams will put in their antes and see what they can get for their money.
To say that whoever brings joy to the New Yorks’ will need al least a Brinks truck or a few Pinkerton guy’s to help them out of town. But would be an insult to the fabric that made Vegas a dreamers’ town if neither team got there man here, but in the works a contract or deal within the cinfines of the Bellagio Resort area. But who out of the two giants in the Big Apple will come away with what prize , and what price?
Who will bet it all hoping for magic, and who will go home with their tails between their legs? That will be a huge 2009 story, and it is so early in the game. Who has the guts and confidence to twist the hands of fate to the extreme and test their will against the odds. Or who is winning to throw the dice and hope their number comes up with all their money on the table? This might be the true story of the next 4 days in the desert.
Both teams’ might come home with a fortune in talent and could bankroll a great advantage going into the new season. The American League East will again be a 4-man race until someone seperates themselves from the pack and takes over that division. The Yankees do not want to be the team looking up at three teams again this season, and might make significant moves to illustrate their desire to agin be the top dog not only in the league, but in the city. The Mets on the other hand are in the division with the current World Series Champions. All they have to do is talk to the Rays players about the stigma attached to chasing and passing the 2008 kings and gaining control, in the National League East race.
Both the Yankees and Mets have high hopes for these meetings, and both bolster full confidence they will come away as winners when all is said and done. Most of this bravado might be a illustration of the city’s personality and it’sinternational state of confidence, they get what they want, and then go on and conquer. That might have been the mindset in the past, but in today’s culture and today’s baseball, the best do not always rise to the top. Just because you spend in the 100’s of millions doesn’t even guarantee you a playoff spot in today’s parity league. To be the king of the hill, you have to remain consistant, which neither have done for years in their respective leagues.
Both teams have sparkling new stadiums that need to be filled nightly for there to be any signs of financial rewards and playoff glory again in the city, I would honestly expect the Yankees to be the ones to put it all on black and try and pull out a near miracle to gain some face-time and again become the franchise to fear in the near future.
The Yankees have not had fate on their side the last few seasons. The team is in the payroll penthouse area, but almost slipped to the American League East basement last year with injuries and assorted offensive mis-alignments. If not for a late season splurge, they might have fallen below the lowly Baltimore Orioles for 5th in the AL East. And that is not the place for a team spending money the way the Yankees have for the last 5 years. As Janet Jackson says in her song “What have you done for me lately?”
To say it can not happen in 2009 would be an understatement. George Steinbrenner finally passed the mantel to his older son, and we are going to see if the elder Steinbrenner got any of Dad’s genes when it comes to building a competitive network and administering a firm hand on the roster. “Big H” has to have all the cards and gamble his finest china to get the prizes of this years free agent crop. The prize knows his intentions and has already voiced a few odd comments to maybe put up a bluff before finally going for all the cash and playing in the Big Apple. But sometimes people do things for reasons other than money, so Sabathia might just go the “better judgement” route and not only stunn the NY crowd, but the nation as a whole.
After losing two starting pitchers, one to arrogance and the other to retirement, and maybe losing a vital cog in right-field, “Big H” has to toss the bones like a gambling’ whale and show the money or leave the Vegas strip as a loser going into Spring Training. The Yankees might have already played their first hand giving their top prize, C C Sabathia their first offer, but you can be sure that this deal, if it interests the big guy will take a bit to complete. they might get a hand shake out of it all, but at this junction of the season, that can make the difference between night and day for a team. A funny comment out of the Sabathia camp says the big guy hated Spring Training in Florida while he was with the Cleveland Indians, that might be a small cog in the road, but sometimes a better organization can mend that fence without too many problems.
The Mets on the otherhand, might have a few face cards up their own sleeves. They have already shown pitchers’ like K-Rod and Brian Fuentes that they have both the money and the reserved parking spot for them just waiting for their signatures. The check waiting for the new closer of the Mets will have a few zeros behind it, and might even be the biggest payday of their career if they played their own cards right.
And with an offense that drawfs the Yankees squads, the Mets might have the leg up in the Big City. And with their own new sparkling stadium going up, they also have to win big now and secure some of the best talent to showcase their new digs. These two might not be the only high cost hauls of the Mets at the meetings, but it would be a nice centerpeice to showcase their new digs to have a starter who can command the game, and a closer who can execute with the best of them on board.
With the starter in mind, there are many floating on rafts on the poolsides in Vegas waiting for a call from Minaya wanting to speak to them about a New York opportunity. The starting pitcher situation is actually alot cloudier than the closer or even right-field positions, becuase until the first few are off the board, the pecking order is out of kilter and might need to be rearranged by a Met’s signing. Do not be surprised if a name like Oliver Perez, or maybe even Edwin Jackson becomes the 5th starter for the Mets and outperforms the some of the best in the game.
Both teams have also selected secondary targets who would be great prizes to obtain during the meetings, but might not be considered the “house favorites” right now. The Mets have also set up back-up plans into effect if K-Rod decides to take his toys and go home without a Mets contract in hand. The team has also begun preliminary talks with Fuentes and wily veteran Trevor Hoffman for the vacant closers’ role. Both might not be the top shelf potential the Mets seek, but both have experience and might come at a discount considering the asking price of K-Rod services. Bott also might be a economical move as sure bargains considering the financial climate of America and baseball. Another name that will be circling the shark tank is ex-Cubbie, Kerry Wood. He might have a busy week in Las Vegas shaking hands and eating expensive lunches and dinners while being courted all around the strip by interested teams.
Here is another thing to consider before shelling out all the dusty money from the safe. Just how secure are we that the money will come back into the team’s coffers during this financial crisis. Will the fans be as eager to shell out up to $ 100 a visit to either of the pearly gates to see their New York teams play in 2009. Now tickets might not cost a hundred, but when you consider all the extras like food, beverage and maybe parking or transportation and a few after game suds, a hundred might even be a bargain. Teams might be looking for value in the fast lane this year and might even produce a few incentive laden contracts to help in case of a financial meltdown at the turnstiles and concession stands around baseball. People will still come to game no matter what, but the amount of expendible currency and the consistancy of that money might be watered down a bit at first in 2009. As fast as the nation rebounds, sports will shows an increase in revenues and sales of merchandise. But until then, it might be a buyers’ market for a short time.
I truly think the Mets might have the upper hand here in getting a few of the prized free agents based solely on the team’s current assets. What pitcher would not want to have a David Wright or Jose Reyes behind him makiing him look good. Those two guys on their own could be the best “face cards” to show for a prospective starter or closer signee. But of course the Yankees have their own cornerstones who can command respect and admiration in Jeter and A-Rod, but you never know how long those two will be together before age and injury finally takes them to the turf. So we have a case of old guard and new guard in both the middle of the New York infields. One has been style and elegance for years, while the other has been power and speed. Sorry Yankees, I have to give this bet to the young turks on the Met’s roster based on potential after the fact.
The next week will truly show if the worldly belief that you can bring home a fortune in Las Vegas holds true. Either team can be winners in this sweepstakes, but might also be smart to consider the penalties for thinking too far beyond the box. Minor phrases and comments by Sabathia and by K-Rod might be indicators of just how fast all of this will be done. Sabathia might drag this out a bit and the Yankees might just move onto A J Burnett or Ben Sheets because of less stress and more straight talk. But Burnett’s familarity with the division might be worth the extra dough to steal him out of a Braves uniform.
If this was 2008, and the economy and the job situation were bright, all power to the players for getting everything they can for their services. Prudent behavior has never been a strong suit of the ownership of either the Yankees or the Mets. I have also heard recently that they will again petition for more bonds to secure the finishing touches to their stadiums beyond the Billions already spent on stadiums for both teams. Being financially prudent might also be the “river” card that could make or break their next few seasons.
By playing smart and studying the enviroment around them, they might come away with a minor player who will become a major contributor. High dollar doesn’t always mean high value. Both these franchsies know this very well. Do we have to remind each franchise of their last high dollar low output signings. The Yankeess still cringe when the name Carl Pavano is heard in public, and the Mets might feel the same about Pedro Martinez and his ever changing body aliments. So it might be smart for both teams to take a step back and even re-evaluate a few things before sticking their heads back into the fire.
People forget that baseball has always been a way for Americans to forget about their problems. Each World War was a huge emotional time for the country, and baseball helped ease the pains and the stress of life. During the Great Depression, baseball also served as a every man’s fantasy world that for a single nickel, they could watch 9 innings of guys working their hearts out for the common man without the stress of their own everyday life.
Personally, I think that baseball keeps my head above water. Baseball is my primary solitude in a hectic world. And to think that the two giants in New York are struggling with success is almost too much to take at times. I am not a fan of either of these two teams, but I have a huge amount of respect for the organizations. And for that reason, I think the fan base deserves a winner, or at least a team that plays hard and nasty until the end of the 162nd game. I always expect a New York team to come out bold and brash and carry their voice loud and proud into the night. But in 2008, for the first time in a very long stretch, both voices went silent in October. That is a silence that neither team can afford in 2009.
The cards are dealt and the bets are in………………Do they both win, or do they both lose?
Does the play of the dealer and the teams bring out a push, or do they split the cards and find their glory in the end. The odds are in the favor of the house always, and the “house” in this matter is the players. Based on the climate of today, do they go to the penthouse, or do they give the team a chance and maybe back-load a contract a bit. The decision is about to come to light. No one knows but the guy holding the cards if it will be a blow for a defeat or triumph. A bit of gambling advice I was once given by a well known gambler, you never bet blindly on a sure thing, that only leads to a huge disppointment that neither you nor your dreams can ever rebound from….ever.