Last week, Michael O’Keeffe of the Daily News went tongue to tongue with radio’s Mike Francesa over of MLB’s bitter battle with Alex Rodriguez. It was compelling to hear. At times, it sounded like a de facto debate between MLB (O’Keeffe) and A-Rod’s lawyers (Francesa).
Throughout the discussion, O’Keeffe denied having an axe to grind with A-Rod, stressing that the four-person team is simply chasing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him. And here’s what the scribes of sanctimony ginned up yesterday.
Well… as long as you use “allegedly,” everything’s fine, right?
I know, I know… why bother? It’s just tabloid crapola, screaming into the mike, clasping butts, trying to out-shout all the rest. Hell hath no fury like a tabloid scorned. Why are we even looking? Still, I thought the News would try a little harder to appear fair. That headline plays into everything Francesa said about the News becoming Bud Selig’s personal leak farm.
What conclusion can we take? Here’s one:
The News is going to attack A-Rod for the duration of his Yankee career. For better or worse, right or wrong, the paper wants to run him out of New York.
It’s going to be a long winter.
The baseball offseason is upon us, yet the Alex Rodriguez saga remains as alive and active as ever.
The Yankees’ beleaguered third baseman blasted commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday in a statement released by his spokesman Ron Berkowitz.
In response to the comments made by Selig on Oct. 26 (before World Series Game 3 in St. Louis) supporting his investigators’ efforts into the shuttered South Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, Rodriguez said: “I am deeply troubled by my team’s investigative findings with respect to MLB’s conduct. How can the gross, ongoing misconduct of the MLB investigations division not be relevant to my suspension, when my suspension supposedly results directly from that division’s work?”
“It is sad that Commissioner Selig once again is turning a blind eye, knowing that crimes are being committed under his regime. I have 100 percent faith in my legal team. To be sure, this fight is necessary to protect me, but it also serves the interests of the next 18-year-old coming into the league, to be sure he doesn’t step into the house of horrors that I am being forced to walk through.”
MLB’s COO Rob Manfred responded with a statement.
“This latest, sad chapter in Mr. Rodriguez’s tarnished career is yet another example of this player trying to avoid taking responsibility for his poor choices. Given the disappointing acts that Mr. Rodriguez has repeatedly made throughout his career, his expressed concern for young people rings very hollow,” he said. ”Mr. Rodriguez’s use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player, and when this process is complete, the facts will prove that it is Mr. Rodriguez and his representatives who have engaged in ongoing, gross misconduct.”
A-Rod is appealing a 211-game suspension for allegations of using multiple illegal performance-enhancing drugs on multiple occasions and obstructing Major League Baseball’s investigation. The hearing is currently on hiatus after eight days of testimony and is scheduled to resume on Nov. 18 at MLB’s Park Avenue headquarters.
How did Ryan Dempster cap off his night of celebrating following the Red Sox’s World Series victory? He made his way—a little buzzed, we imagine—to the Fenway Park mound and offered to throw batting practice to his buddies.
Billy from Lynn woke up this morning, presumably after a long night of celebrating the most unlikely of championships, and was so annoyed by John Farrell’s moves in the postseason that he just had to call up WEEI to complain.
This fucking guy. Three titles in 10 years, the most recent in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, and he couldn’t wait 12 hours to start bitching to Dennis & Callahan about the odds-on favorite to win AL manager of the year. Farrell left in Lackey (6.2 IP, 1 ER) too long last night. He let pitcher Brandon Workman hit for himself in Game 3. He played Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia play too much. Stuff like that.
I begrudgingly have to agree with Billy here. John Farrell made some horrible managerial decisions out there. You didn’t see Bobby Valentine making those types of blunders in the World Series this year. 27 minutes ago
I just plain disagree. The Cards lack of hitting in the clutch was P-I-T-I-F-U-L!!!!!!!
BOSTON – The people came for a coronation. They emptied their checking accounts, hocked what they could and headed to Fenway Park for what could only be the best damned baseball celebration on this soil since their great-great grandfathers got in for a buck-and-a-half.
That left the St. Louis Cardinals. They’d come for the coup. With their fancy farm system, their smart and relentless ballgame, their decorated rookie pitcher, they’d come for the revolution. On a cool, damp night, they were carried out on those laurels and expectations, 106 wins in, two wins short.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, right, has some words of wisdom for Michael Wacha as David Freese looks on. (AP …
Yadier Molina, the veteran catcher, stopped Wacha after manager Mike Matheny had accepted the ball and before the 22-year-old pitcher could leave the mound. Molina whispered something in his ear. A couple hours later, the message escaped Wacha.
“I think I was just so pissed off at that point,” he said, “I really can’t remember.”
Adam Wainwright had won some games like this in the past, but this October had lost Game 1 and Game 5 to the Red Sox. He found Wacha in the visitors’ clubhouse, a small, dank place barely large enough for a young man and his regrets.
“Dude,” he told him, “I’m just telling you right now, you’re amazing. We would not be in this World Series without you.”
Barely a year-and-a-half out of Texas A&M, Wacha had taken four starts previously in these playoffs. He’d won all four. When the fourth inning ended in Game 6, he’d allowed six runs. He’d attacked it differently this time, with more off-speed early in the counts, and fewer of his 95-plus mph fastballs. Still, Shane Victorino doubled home three runs in the third inning off a fastball. And Stephen Drew homered in the fourth inning off a fastball. Wainwright’s words were of little comfort.
“We had guys do things they didn’t know they could do,” Wainwright said. “Nobody’s perfect. He was almost perfect.”
Wacha shook his head. He’d have none of it. Not today. Not for a while.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “Everyone in that clubhouse wants that ring. I didn’t want to win it for myself, but for them. I feel like I let the team down.”
And that was the story of the Cardinals on Wednesday night. They’d become the background. For all they’d done until then, for all their fight, and for the amazing ground they’d covered – or, more accurately, hadn’t lost – since the departures of their iconic manager and their best player, they would leave as the guest hardly anyone would remember, and become all but trampled in the after-party. It’s not their fault. The loser almost always is.
St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter walks off after striking out to end Game 6. (AP Photo)
“I told them to hold their heads high,” Matheny said. “They have nothing to be ashamed of. We all know that we could come out and play a better game than what we did here, but we did a whole lot more than anybody gave us credit for or expected us to do.”
They’d lost the final three games of the World Series and were out in six. They’d won Game 3 on a last-batter obstruction call, then scored four runs over the next 27 innings. A lineup that had overwhelmed teams with precision at-bats, that set records with its aptitude for hitting with runners in scoring position, went flat. What had been that good for that long and – by pitching exceptionally through most of the postseason – reached the World Series for the fourth time in nine years, had become their frailty. It is the nature of the game they play, and the Red Sox were better. When it ended, and Koji Uehara had finished Matt Carpenter with a split-fingered fastball, and the Red Sox had met happily in the middle of the field, the Cardinals lingered at their dugout rail. Matheny had one foot on the top step, and he shook the hands of a couple of passing umpires. He nodded at the others.
The uniforms change. The venues change. But every year the same scene. And one by one the Cardinals left that rail. They’d won the NL Central, then beaten the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. They’d re-established who they are, and what they are, and how they do this. They’d produced pitchers like no one else, from a factory out behind Busch Stadium, it seemed. Big, young men, these polished pitchers would take the ball and obey Molina, and it got them to the second-to-last day of October. It would have to do.
They’d come this far for the group, of course. And for themselves. But the Cardinals had made a special case of Carlos Beltran, their 36-year-old outfielder who’d done plenty in his career, but never this. He’ll be a free agent within hours. Before he could consider his alternatives, however, he would experience his first World Series. While it nearly ended in the early innings of Game 1, when he rammed into the right-field wall here and bruised his ribs, Beltran played in every game. He batted a respectable .294, but without an extra-base hit.
Wainwright met him afterward.
St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran, hitting an RBI single in the seventh inning of Game 6, played in his first World Series …
“Sorry,” he said.
Beltran presumably waved him off.
“It was great,” Beltran said. “The wait was worth it, being able to do what we did this year as a team. Unfortunately, the offense during the postseason, we couldn’t get it going. … We had some opportunities to play better and we didn’t. Boston, they did it right.”
He said he would go home now, get some sleep, and let the past three games disappear. He said he’d told the Cardinals of his preference for another contract that would allow him to stay.
“I made it clear,” he said, “that I would love to come back. I won’t take anything personal if they don’t.”
He touched the World Series, and there was something to that. The Cardinals had been very good. Heartsick over how close they’d come, they promised themselves they’d return. Their young pitchers can improve. The rest of the organization is healthy. For three games over four days, they simply hadn’t played well. Or at least well enough.
They came and perhaps found something bigger than themselves. In the Red Sox. In this city. In the way the two, together, seem to turn everything into glory or despair and nothing in-between.
“I don’t think so,” Wainwright said. “I just think it was a baseball game.”
COMMENTARY | New York Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano will be 38 years old at the start of the 2014 season. He has compiled a fine career, but he has not been a dominant player during that time and still remains far short of the Hall of Fame.
Yes, he is one of only four members of the 40-40 club from his 2006 season with the Washington Nationals. He just missed his first shot at 40-40 in 2002 with the Yankees, as he swiped 41 bases and swatted 39 homers. But even though Soriano is also a seven-time All-Star, he has not made the squad since 2008.
He enjoyed a torrid stretch in August and September after the Chicago Cubs traded him back to New York, but how much longer can he keep it up? He totaled 34 home runs in 2013, and three more seasons like that could vault him to the Hall of Fame, but sustaining that production and health past age 40 is expecting far too much.
Ultimately, Soriano’s lack of plate discipline and failure to sustain his dominance will keep him out of Cooperstown.
You Lack Discipline
In 1,908 games, Soriano has struck out a prodigious 1,732 times over a 15-year career with four teams, averaging 147 strikeouts per 162 games. He also has a paltry 490 walks in that time. Soriano is a slasher who never saw a pitch he did not like. He can look completely lost at the plate for three at-bats and then run into one for a long ball in his other plate appearance. With his diminished speed and limited defensive capabilities, he’s become little more than a long-ball specialist, though he does have the knack for hitting in the clutch.
His career batting average is .272 with a disappointing OBP of .321. He hit exactly .300 in 2002 and never improved on that mark. While Soriano’s power is potent due to his impressively quick hands, he is not a good pure hitter.Comparison to Contemporaries
With his speed, you would assume Soriano would have more than 31 triples, which perhaps speaks to his hustle or lack thereof. For perspective, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart has 33 career triples in 945 games. With 1,136 RBIs, Soriano is considerably behind former teammate Aramis Ramirez, who has driven in 140 more runs in just 16 more games. Soriano’s 1,130 runs scored put him just one ahead of Shawn Green. His 466 doubles have him three behind Carlos Lee. He also has fewer hits (2,045) than Juan Pierre (2,217). None of those players will be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Lack of Sustained Dominance
Soriano has finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting only twice. He had only one season with more than 40 home runs and only one season with more than 200 hits. In four seasons, he scored at least 100 runs, and, in four seasons, he topped 100 RBIs. He also has not eclipsed 20 stolen bases since 2006 because he basically stopped running when he became a Cub.
His move to the outfield in 2006 significantly impacted the value of his bat. As a second baseman, Soriano’s offensive production was the best in baseball for several years. By contrast, his production as a corner outfielder can be replicated by at least a dozen other players in the league.Baseball IQ
On September 5, I was watching the Yankees trail the Boston Red Sox 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth. When Soriano reached second base, I turned to my father and said, “He’s either gonna steal third or get picked off.” Ten seconds later, Soriano got picked off and the Yanks lost the game. Granted, he single-handedly delivered numerous victories in 2013 for the Bronx Bombers, but you never know when he will have a “Soriano moment.”
Chasing 500 (and 300)
Soriano is sitting on 406 home runs and 288 steals. Twelve more steals would make him just the fifth member of the 400-300 club, joining Andre Dawson, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez. Of course, he would love to hang on long enough to join the 500 HR club, but that would require playing until he was 41 or 42. While that remains possible because of his knack for staying healthy, it is a long shot.
If he reaches 500 home runs, his HOF chances will increase drastically. Soriano’s body type has not changed during his career in an era dominated by steroids, and his perceived purity as a power hitter could sneak him into the Hall of Fame as voters continue to grapple with the impact of PEDs. Still, 94 more homers from a 37-year-old is a tall order.Soriano journeyed from the Dominican Republic to Japan to launch his baseball career with the Hiroshima Carp. He has enjoyed a remarkable run since the Yankees purchased his contract in 1998. But barring three more sensational seasons, his resume falls just short of being Cooperstown-worthy.
Sean Hojnacki writes about baseball and football for Time Warner and basketball for Bleacher Report. His writing has also appeared on The Classical, Salon.com and briefly onTwitter. He lives in Jersey City, NJ with his wife and a cat named after Melky Cabrera.
Gene Page/AMCThis is not where A-Rod has been hanging out.
The World Series is over. It’s Halloween. So it seems like the perfect time for another Alex Rodriguez missive.
Getting into the holiday spirit, this one uses the term “house of horrors” as it attacks MLB and commissioner Bud Selig for standing behind the investigation that resulted in Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension.
A-Rod’s Good, Bad & Ugly
ESPNNewYork.com takes a look back at A-Rod’s best — but mostly worst — moments as a Bronx Bummer Bomber. Photo GalleryTop 50 Yanks
“I am deeply troubled by my team’s investigative findings with respect to MLB’s conduct,” Rodriguez said in a statement released through his spokesman. “How can the gross, ongoing misconduct of the MLB investigations division not be relevant to my suspension, when my suspension supposedly results directly from that division’s work?
“It is sad that Commissioner Selig once again is turning a blind eye, knowing that crimes are being committed under his regime. I have 100% faith in my legal team. To be sure, this fight is necessary to protect me, but it also serves the interests of the next 18-year-old coming into the league, to be sure he doesn’t step into the house of horrors that I am being forced to walk through.”
So why this statement now? A-Rod’s spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, said it was in response to Selig saying during the World Series that he stands by his investigative team. Berkowitz said that A-Rod wanted to wait until after the Series to respond.
MLB’s COO Rob Manfred did respond, issuing a statement Thursday afternoon that read, “This latest, sad chapter in Mr. Rodriguez’s tarnished career is yet another example of this player trying to avoid taking responsibility for his poor choices. Given the disappointing acts that Mr. Rodriguez has repeatedly made throughout his career, his expressed concern for young people rings very hollow. Mr. Rodriguez’s use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player, and when this process is complete, the facts will prove that it is Mr. Rodriguez and his representatives who have engaged in ongoing, gross misconduct.”
As you likely remember, A-Rod’s has a history of making news when the Red Sox are in the Fall Classic.
Back here in 2013, A-Rod’s side has alleged various misconduct in his lawsuits filed earlier this month. On Wednesday, StatementPalooza centered around the “rat” allegations.
Here’s the thing with all the statements: While many of them have been highly entertaining, they don’t matter. The lawsuit against MLB makes its debut in court with a conference in one week, on Nov. 7. If it goes to trial, it will not be for many months, or even years.
The current appeal of the suspension is set to resume on Nov. 18 and it will end … well, no one knows for sure. But the only words that will ultimately matter will be the ones from arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.
By JIMMY GOLEN (AP Sports Writer) 2 hours ago AP – Sports
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox didn’t just build a World Series champion in 2013.
They also created a blueprint for the team’s next title.
The Red Sox took advantage of last August’s salary purge to add middle-market free agents like Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino and Koji Uehara – all key contributors to the World Series championship. As he looks to this offseason, general manager Ben Cherington will need to replace some big parts of the ’13 team – including center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury – without making the free agent mistakes of the past.
”To be in this position, given where we’ve come from, reflecting back a year ago at this time, there’s been a lot that’s happened in 13 months,” manager John Farrell said after the game.
”Ben Cherington deserves all the credit in the world for what he has done for this roster. To come in and see the energy and the commitment that the (players) had, the buying into a team concept every single day, and the one thing that really stands out more than anything is just their overall will to win. And that was no more evident than in this entire postseason.”
The Red Sox were still smarting from their 2011 collapse when they traded Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and more than $250 million in future salaries to the Los Angeles Dodgers last August. Although the team finished in last place, with the franchise’s worst record in almost half a century, the rebuilding had already begun.
Instead of showering money on the biggest names to replace the high-priced talent that had departed, Cherington opted to take smaller risks on mid-range players.
It paid off with Uehara, the team’s third or fourth choice as closer, winning the AL championship series MVP and closing out the last three wins in the World Series. It paid off with Victorino, who hit a game-winning grand slam in the ALCS and a three-run double in the Series clincher. And it paid off with Napoli, who had a three-run double in Game 1, and Gomes, whose three-run homer won Game 4.
”I’m a believer,” Gomes said, adding that he knew the team had potential when he first reported to spring training. ”As soon as we went to Fort Myers, (I knew) the movie’s already been written, all we had to do was press play. And this is what happened.”
But now it’s time for the sequel.
Ellsbury is a free agent and agent Scott Boras is expected to demand a nine-figure contract. Napoli is also unsigned for next year, along with shortstop Stephen Drew and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The team will almost certainly prevent pitcher Jon Lester from becoming a free agent by picking up his $13 million option.
Drew could be replaced at shortstop by prospect Xander Bogaerts, who played his way onto the postseason roster. David Ross wound up as the primary catcher by the end of the Series, but if Saltalamacchia leaves the Red Sox would be looking for a replacement. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava are available to join Gomes and Victorino in the outfield.
Other free agents include onetime closer Joel Hanrahan, who was acquired in a trade from Pittsburgh but missed most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton and shortstop John McDonald, who weren’t on the postseason roster, are also eligible to become free agents.
Farrell doesn’t know how the team will replace those who leave.
But he is hoping the improved clubhouse atmosphere will help the team sign any free agents they target.
”I think maybe what’s gone on around the game or what’s happened here probably is taken note around the league,” Farrell said before the 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.
”And I think, in the eyes of some, Boston might present some specific challenges that might be intimidating for certain players. But I would hope what they’re witnessing would certainly become a place of destination for a number of guys that might have a choice.”