Rob Iracane: November 2009 Archives

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The last time we wrote a screed against collusion it was to defend (for the umpteenth time) the honor of Barry Bonds. A year later, we're talking about it because new MLBPA head Michael Weiner is accusing owners of colluding through new ways: the media we all love and trust so much.

Weiner accuses anonymous club officials of whining to the newspapermen about the lack of money available to spend on free agents this winter and their inability to spend dollars on salary arbitration with their own players, thus creating the illusion that baseball teams are bankrupt and incapable of paying Matt Holliday his just desserts.

He cited an ESPN blog item by Buster Olney that implied teams would be cutting loose a bunch of veteran players to flood the market, thus depressing demand for the services of the rest of the free agent players and creating a situation that was far more favorable to the teams. This would be similar to Drew, Dmac, Kris, and I creating twenty more baseball blogs that printed recipes for baked goods and showed babies in animal costumes. What value would there be for WoW in that case?

Sayeth Weiner:

"I don't think it's an accident that in recent weeks, management officials, without attribution, have been making predictions about what's going to happen in this year's free-agent market," Weiner said. "There have been predictions about the [money] players will get, what players will be offered [salary] arbitration and what players will be non-tendered [contracts].

"If we could prove there was a plan by management to use the press to try to depress free-agent salaries, in our view that would be a violation of our contract," he said.

Some folks might cast an incredulous sneer at Weiner for using the C-word and DARING to question the sanity of poor baseball teams for opting to be frugal in these dire days of downturn and dread.. But c'mon! Baseball has never been more popular or more profitable while teams are finding brand new revenue streams in every virtual nook and cranny. To associate the high salaries of players with the greed of the owners is simply misplacing one's displeasure with the 'system'.

Baseball players are just like you and me, except with exceptional talent, millions of dollars, and the adoration of fans everywhere. All I have is the talent and adoration! I digress: they deserve to make an honest buck, too, and whether that's 20 million bucks or 600,000 bucks, it's well-deserved.

There is a perception by most fans that player salaries are directly related to the amount of money it costs them to attend a ballgame. While salaries make up a vast portion of expenditures of the typical MLB team, the fact that your favorite team is lowering their payroll by 20% does not mean that your 20 ounces of foamy American lager is going to drop from $7.50 to $6.00. These things are not related.

At the tip of the so-called Xtreme Depression in the spring of 2008, the average ticket prices went up 10%. This past spring, right in the midst of the Xtreme Depression, the average ticket prices still went up 5%, with only a handful of teams slicing prices by more than 7%. Yet baseball attendance between 2008 and 2009 dipped by only 6%, much of which can be written off by reduced capacity in the two new stadiums in baseball's biggest market.

There are definitely teams struggling financially and in no reason should they be criticized for circling the wagons and taking new approaches towards the changes in the economy. Lowering ticket prices and putting deals out there (like the Brewers did last year) should be step one, but purposely cutting payroll and refusing to field a competitive team in the name of a recession is simply ridiculous. For baseball teams to feign a lack of interest in the handful of big names on the market is simply dishonest.

But hey, maybe I just wanted a chance to show you a baby in a money bag.

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Hold onto your hats, Walkoff Walk has decided to change its format for the upcoming long winter ahead. Instead of regurgitating rumours and printing vapidly pointless posts with ginormous blockquotes, we are going to switch to one post per day, with contributions from each member of the extended WoWie family.

After a bit of discussion, Kris and I have decided that this will help make the content at WoW a bit more original and deep. Translation: Dmac and Drew will continue to bring original and deep content while Rob and Kris will finally pull their weight at the website that bears their names.

From Monday to Thursday, you can expect a brand new original post from either Kris Liakos, Rob Iracane, Drew Fairservice, or Dan McQuade. On Friday, you'll get a free-for-all, with videos and whatnot and perhaps even some content from our new weekend guy 310toJoba. We'll post alliteratively-titled breaking news items seven days a week, of course, because when you find out that your favorite team just signed Fernando Rodney, you'll need a place to vent.

This means no more Tonight's Questions or Dutch Oven posts this offseason. (sad! I know!) But for our best commenters, don't let that prevent you from sharing your opinions on any topic in any post after hours. I'm not sure any of us can thrive without daily updates about what Chief Wahoo's dog is wearing.

Of course, you can always follow along with our super-scintillating-sensational bon mots on our assorted Twitter feeds, followable through one handy-dandy list. How else would you know that Corey Patterson was arrested in Boston?

Questions? Requests? Feel free to put 'em in the comments below or email tips.

Just in case you've forgotten by now, the Yankees won the World Series five days ago, prompting a veritable avalanche of parades, media appearances, and attendance at professional basketball games. First, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte visited Dave Letterman at the Late Show:


Note that Hideki Matsui doesn't appear until the end when he brings out the World Series trophy, ostensibly because Letterman doesn't interview folks who don't speak-a da language. C'mon Hideki, we all know you speak perfectly good Engrish. Sit on the damn couch and answer questions about your mysterious wife.

Later, CC Sabathia sat in for Jay Leno's awful 10@10 question-and-answer segment.


Sabathia handles himself well, mentioning my favorite TV show "The Amazing Race" as the show he'd most like to appear on and being kind to his vanquished opponents Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. But sheesh, to hear Leno mispronounce Rollins' name and struggle to deal with that satellite delay was quite painful.

Earlier, seven of the WFC Yankees strode into Madison Square Garden to scrimmage the New York Knickerbockers in some basket-ball; they beat the Knicks 52-33 in a half-court game. Melky Cabrera had 6 assists while Sabathia blocked eleventy-hundred shots.

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And of course, there was the big parade down the Canyon of Awesomeness in New York City, which was not live-glogged by any WoW commenters but apparently attended by some nattily-attired fans nonetheless. You stay classy, Tri-State area.

Weekend Questions

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Yes, tomorrow is an off-day for Walkoff Walk as we rest on our petards and get hoisted by our labors while enjoying the fruits of our laurels. Mixing metaphors on vacation days has never felt so good! 310toJoba might pop in over the weekend and we'll be back live on Monday. Same WoW channel.

(photo borrowed gently from Duk's Flickr stream and his Stew Slideshow)

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As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.

Previously, Franklin Gutierrez, Garrett Jones, Danny Haren, Shin Soo Choo, Wandy Rodriguez, Adrian Gonzalez, Pablo Sandoval, Javier Vazquez, Russell Branyan, Ben Zobrist, Adam Lind and Prince Fielder.

Up next, every single baseball player.

So, this is what the kids are calling "the offseason" nowadays. Thanks to all the writers who contributed essays to the "This Guy Is Playing Golf" series which is now coming to a close. Because, you see, every single baseball player is either headed to the golf course or saving folks on highways or off to the Letterman show. Such is the nature of the beast.

There's no way we can say we discovered any of these guys or even improved their Q rating a bit. But still, over the past month full of Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels, and the rest, it was fun to focus a bit on the players on the fringe of the mainstream or the verge of superstardom. Or, perhaps some of them may never find success in the big leagues again after this season. But rest assured, they probably made at least a million dollars and have a tidy job at a car dealership waiting for them when they retire.

Really, the best part of this series was imagining a foursome of Pablo Sandoval, Javy Vazquez, Prince Fielder, and Shin Soo Choo out on Pebble Beach taking in eighteen holes. The fat plaid pants on Fielder would be hilarious enough to tide me over for an entire winter.

The John Sterling worship blog It Is High, It Is Far, It Is....Caught spent the 2009 season recording and rating the Yankee announcer's victory calls, aka the win warble. Last night's World Series clincher was a real doozy, topping the previously unheard of 10 second mark and shattering eardrums from the Bronx to the Battery, from Tarrytown to Tampa, and from Hartford to Hoboken.

To wit:


It's like they invented the word "caterwaul" specifically for this moment. But hey, I loves me some John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. What's that, you say they are unabashed homers? Oh yeah? Name one radio announcer outside of Vin Scully who isn't. Exactly, it's the nature of the beast. At least John and Suzyn are professionals who do a heck of a job illustrating the game through the spoken word.

I've listened to radio announcers across this great land for years on the satellite and, with the exception of Scully and maybe Joe Castiglione, none of them can hold a candle to Sterling and Waldman. Despite Waldman's one emotionally-challenged Roger Clemens moment and Sterling's affinity for quoting lyrics from 1940's Broadway musicals, there is no greater pair on the radio today.

Yes, I will be making my maiden voyage to Cooperstown at some point in the next twelve months just to see Suzyn's scorecard from last night. It's far more interesting an artifact than Brian Bruney's jock strap.

Oh What a Save By Girardi!

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As if having the gumption (and resources) to go an entire postseason with a three-man rotation wasn't enough for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, he had to go and play the role of real-life hero by coming to the aid of a motorist in need. A lady driver from Connecticut, naturally:

On his way home from winning the World Series, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi stopped to help a woman who had lost control of her car on the Cross County Parkway and crashed into a wall.

The area is notorious for its blind spots, and Girardi, who had parked his car along the right side of the parkway, and then run across the traffic to get to the injured motorist, put his life at risk, police said.

"He could have gotten killed," county Sgt. Thomas McGurn said, adding that responding police units take extra precaution in that area because of the blind curve and speeding cars. "Traffic goes by at 80 mph."

I've driven on that road at night after Yankees games and can attest to the danger involved when it's dark and there are idiot New York and Connecticut drivers speeding around blind curves like madmen. Yes, I am a New Jersey driver complaining about the aggressive driving habits of residents of other states. Enjoy the delicious irony.

Via our pals at the 700 Level, here's a peek into the losing manager's presser. But with a real baseball gentleman like Charlie Manuel, you really can't tell that this is a dude who feels sad and sorry that his team just lost. No wonder Phillies fans idolize a man who has the confidence to say that his team will be back and the brass ones to hope it's against the Yankees:


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One of the benefits (or occupational hazards) of being a sports writer is hanging out in the locker room after a team clinches a championship and indulges in some ridiculously Bacchanalian celebration. Big League Stew's 'Duk was there to witness the wildings in the Yankees clubhouse last night and captured perhaps the most excellent photo sequence of the postseason. Go enjoy the entire photo essay.

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Last night, the scrappy, upstart Yankees took down the defending World F'in Champions in a 7-3 game that was never really that close. With the win, the Yanks took the World Series four games to two and, within minutes of receiving the trophy, began speculating on how to dissect and construct the team for the 2010 season. I think it's ridiculous that fans can actually walk away from their favorite team's clinching game and chat about whether Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui will be back. I know because I was one of those ridiculous fans.

But the moment persists nonetheless. Having the opportunity to witness the 2009 New York Yankees on a firsthand basis is rivaled only by that of the 1996 team in terms of specialness. A handful of years where they came up just short will do that to you. But when a season culminates by the team recording an out and piling into a pinstriped mess of humanity, you sit back as a fan and think, "I chose correctly for once". Can you imagine that? Validating yourself by the mere fact that your preferred professional sports team was successful? I think it's ridiculous and yet here I sit with a shit-eating grin on my face.

As a co-proprietor of a general interest (read: hipster foodie) baseball blog, it's been difficult at times to keep my Yankee biases and fandom at bay during our nearly two-year run. In fact, I completely threw out any sense of caution a month ago and simply blogged as if I were some kind of deranged hack fan. Yet while I got to cheer my team on, it became more and more difficult to write about baseball as the playoffs progressed. So, I apologize to you, dear reader, if I didn't feed you with enough silliness from the outer reaches.

In Walkoff Walk's offseason, we will spend some time figuring out the future of our blog and perhaps return in a completely different format. So, there will be more Pirates and Mariners coverage in the not-so-distant future, but for now, please allow me to spend some time taking a fan's victory lap. Wow, that sounds just as lame as I thought it would.

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Good game tonight, folks. As I enjoy the car ride home from the Bronx, my thoughts turn to the WoWies and my best pal Kris. Watching my favorite team win the World Series was fun but nothing compares to sharing my joy with dozens and dozens of our readers. Kudos to my Phillies fans friends too, especially my sister and darling niece. Most of all, I want to thank my dad for taking me to games for over 25 years now. Go Jankees!

See you tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

Tonight's Question

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  • THEY don't shoot 37- or 38-year-old pitchers who lose Game Six, do they?

Tuffy is your liveglogger of choice tonight. Treat him the same way you treat me or Catshirt. Wait, no, treat him in the same way you'd treat a human being you actually respect. Same WoW channel.

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Because my brain is not functioning in a way that allows me to formulate thoughts and transform them into sentences and paragraphs, I will take a cue from The Big Lead and squirt out a listicle for you to peruse and enjoy. Here within I present An Incomplete List of Things I Cannot Deal With Today:

  • Questions regarding whether Chase Utley should win the MVP if the Phillies lose.

  • Trying to predict Andy Pettitte's performance based purely on past results. What are we, sabermetricians or sabermagicians? Amirite?

  • Hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, garment-rending, and general incontinence.

  • First guessing, second guessing, third guessing, and advance told-you-so's

  • Talking about the weather, the Stadium design, and other things the players cannot affect

  • People asking me if I'm excited to go to the game tonight. No, I'm only going so I can take another picture with a Yahoo! blogger.

  • Predicting the outcome of the game based on what happened in nineteen dickety two.

  • Assumptions that the outcome of a parochial gubernatorial race somehow is evidence that a nation is dissatisfied with their elected leader.

  • Breathing.

  • The idea that an entire Stadium full of thirtysomething white males is somehow the father of a 57-year-old Dominican.

  • Nick Swisher

  • The idea that, for whatever reason, my otherwise friendly relationship with many Phillies fans may suffer for a while.

  • Curses, taboos, voodoo magick, and the assorted dark arts.

  • Not getting credit for calling the Pirates the next big thing.

  • Thinking it was a good idea to wear long underwear to work in advance of sitting outside in 30 degree weather for four hours tonight.

  • The thought that baseball will soon be temporarily gone from my life.
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Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla obviously did not take gun cleaning lessons from a professional. While hunting for the most dangerous game (I assume chickens) in his native Nicaragua on Tuesday, Padilla shot himself in the right leg and was later treated for a minor wound at a local hospital.

Katz described the incident as a "hunting accident," saying that Padilla was grazed in his right thigh by a bullet. Katz said that Padilla spent 30 to 40 minutes at a hospital and was discharged.

"He's fine," Katz said.

News reports out of Nicaragua stated that Padilla was hurt at a shooting range. At least two news outlets reported that Padilla was accidentally shot by his "escort," who was trying to fix Padilla's malfunctioning gun.

Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti sympathizes, having shot himself in the leg by forcing his team to start Padilla in a playoff elimination game on the road.

Tonight's Questions

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I just realized that last night was my final liveglog of the 2009 season. I'll be back at the South Bronx Applebee's tomorrow for the big game so our pal Tuffy will bring in the noise, bring in the photoshops. As for Game Seven...well...we'll cross that bridge when it gets named after Derek Jeter.

Rest up tonight; the 2009 baseball season and Walkoff Walk's coverage of the creature as we know it may end after tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

(photo source)

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A year after turning the world on its ear and earning the World Series MVP award, Cole Hamels is struggling to get through 2009. In fact, he's so tired of his own poor pitching performances this season that he told reporters, "I can't wait for it to end" after getting knocked around by the Yankees over the weekend. After his team won Game 5 to send the Series back to New York, Hamels seems to have changed his tune and wants to be able to pitch Game 7, if the Phillies make it that far.

"Who wouldn't want the ball in Game 7?" Hamels said after the Phillies kept their season alive with an 8-6 win over the Yankees on Monday night. "This is the ultimate dream to be able to pitch in the most competitive situation anybody could ever be in -- that would be to be in Game 7 of the World Series. Even though I might not have the best results leading up to it, I've always wanted it."

Kudos to Cole for flip-flopping at the right moment; after all, if Hamels doesn't pitch Thursday, who else would? Joe Blanton on three days' rest? Cliff Lee on two days rest? Steve Carlton on 24 years rest? Cole has a chance to be the ultimate redemption story, bringing his team back to the promised land after a miserable year that will be most remembered for terrible TV commercials, and what better place than a pitchers park like Yankee Stadium?

Teammate Brett Myers, however, doesn't have patience for folks who sometimes speak before thinking. Via Tim Brown at Yahoo, here's the post-game scene from the home team clubhouse:

As Myers walked past Hamels near Hamels' locker he said, mocking, "What are you doing here? I thought you quit."

Hamels, the witness said, responded with an expletive.

Before the situation escalated, Myers was guided away by a team official.

Funny, last time I checked, Brett Myers has contributed far less than Hamels this year for the team. Hamels was still a 4 WAR pitcher while Myers actually finished with a negative WAR. The postseason has been none too kind to Hamels so far, but really: the biggest game one pitches is always his most recent. Just ask A.J. Burnett.

Brett Myers may fancy himself a team leader, but a true leader is typically the kind of guy who says positive things no matter how ridiculous they are, like Jimmy Rollins with his wacky predictions.

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It's Cliff Lee on full rest versus A.J. Burnett on three days' worth of rest in the bandbox park down in Philadelphia. Either both dudes will throw no-hitters or we're in for a night filled with too many tater tots.

In Yankees lineup nooze, typical center fielder Melky Cabrera is out for the rest of the Series with an ouchie hamstring and will be replaced in the lineup tonight by speedy Brett Gardner. The battery buddies Jose Molina and Burnett fill out the rest of the bottom of the lineup, making a terribly un-terrifying threesome for Lee to deal with. Ramiro Pena, who looks like he is 14 years old, replaces Melky on the 25 man roster.

This game is do-or-die for Phillies fans and the good people at Macy's. Yankees! Phillies! Livegloggery! I have a stomach bug so I might puke all over the laptop! You simply cannot lose! Unless for some reason you decide to watch football instead!


Looks like someone at the Philadelphia Inquirer used their jump-to-conclusions mat and ran this ad in today's newspaper. Click through to The 700 Level to see the full version of the poorly-timed ad.

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Kudos to our pal Matt P. for posting this despite the tidy three games-to-one lead that the Yankees took last night. If the Phillies come back and win, this will be the single greatest post in the entire history of the Philadelphiablogosphere.

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With the game tied at four and Phillies closer Brad Lidge on the mound with two outs in his back pocket, Johnny Damon's nine-pitch, ninth inning at bat seemed to be a turning point in the game. Fella fouled off a bunch of pitches and reached on a tidy single. That was a memorable play until Damon one-upped himself by stealing two bases on one Lidge pitch, thanks to the Phillies infield's shift towards the right side; those two stolen bases set up the winning run and granted Damon an entry on the all-time crazy World Series playlist, right behind the time Denny McLain did a line off the brim of Bill Freehan's helmet.

On the all-important stolen base play, three very important things happened. First, Damon used a nugget that he had in his back pocket for over a year. In 2008, Damon noticed how teams would shift when his former teammate Jason Giambi came to the dish and thought it'd be a good opportunity to swipe two bases in one fell swoop. Second, Brad Lidge failed to cover third base, leaving Pedro Feliz to chase hopelessly after Damon. Finally, with a runner on third, Brad Lidge could not throw his filthy breaking balls to Alex Rodriguez lest a wild pitch allowed Damon to score. A-Rod sat on a Lidge fastball and drove it to the wall, setting up the third Yankees win in a row.

Damon's play was smart, yes, but also risky. Had Damon been tagged out by Feliz or caught in a rundown, we'd be singing a different song today (besides "Poker Face", which I cannot get out of my head). Instead, the Yanks are now but one win away from a World Championship and Brad Lidge's 2008 mojo has been fully drained from his person.

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Country Joe Blanton and the Phils look to even this Fall Classic at two games apiece while CC Sabathia and the Yanks want to keep their winning streak alive and well. Some chunderheads think it's high time the Phillies pitchers throw at the Yankees hitters, especially after the way Nick Swisher admired his solo tater tot off Jay Happ as if it were a Manet watercolor. What, Alex Rodriguez' record-setting two HBP in last night's game were mere accidents? Harrumph.

No, the Phillies will do their best to win this thing the old-fashioned way: by not letting maryboy Cole Hamels anywhere near the pitching mound for the rest of the year.

Yankees! Phillies! Walkoff Walk! Be back here at 8:15 promptly and we'll get the livegloggery underway.