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News of the Day – 1/14/09

Powered by the thought that the Mets would have been better off wearing a Nicorette patch on their 2009 uniforms rather than this, here’s the news:

  • Harvey Araton of the Times has a nice piece on Willie Randolph’s appreciation of the talents of Rickey Henderson:

“I had the good fortune of playing in three decades, and when you play that long, you’re going to see some unbelievable players,” Randolph said Tuesday. “But for me, pound for pound, for the things that Rickey could do with his legs alone, I’ve never seen anyone change the complexion of a game like him.” …

“If you looked at his legs and whole body, you’d think he was one of those guys who was in the gym all the time, but he wasn’t,” Randolph said. “He was like Bo Jackson or LeBron James — built like a man when he was a kid.”

Hitting behind Henderson, Randolph said, was natural for him, being a patient right-handed hitter with good peripheral vision, the ability to wait on his swing until he saw Henderson take off and hit the ball to the opposite field.

On earlier Yankee teams, he hit behind a rabbit of lesser renown, Mickey Rivers, a character in his own right. “With Mickey, we would communicate because he didn’t know the signs and I had to let him know when the hit-and-run was on,” Randolph said. “With Rickey, nothing, really, other than sometimes in the on-deck circle he’d say about a pitcher, usually a left-hander, ‘I have trouble picking up this guy.’ So I knew he might not run and I could swing earlier in the count.” …

He and Henderson will forever be linked by friendship and their pairing in the Yankees’ batting order. “It was a pleasure hitting behind him, and a privilege to watch him,” Randolph said.

  • The Times’ Jack Curry gives us the ever-quotable Henderson on his big day:

When Henderson was asked what his salary would be if he were in his prime in 2009, he boosted himself into Alex Rodriguez’s financial territory.

“I don’t think they could pay me what I’d probably be worth,” Henderson said. “Or I’d probably be one of the highest-paid players out there, as far as what I brought to the game because I brought so many different weapons to the game.”

  • Curry also has an article on Tony LaRussa’s appreciation of Rickey:

“For the period of time that I’ve been around, I think the most dangerous player is Rickey,” La Russa said. “In our time, Rickey worried you in more ways than anyone.”

So step aside, Barry Bonds. Sit down, Albert Pujols. They are dominating players, but La Russa stressed how Henderson’s combination of patience, speed, power and instincts made him “the guy that you felt was the most dangerous as far as taking that thing away from you.” That thing was the lead and the game. …

“One thing you’d try to avoid, if you’re trying to get an out, is distractions,” La Russa said. “Rickey just made it impossible not to be distracted by him.” …

“Everybody tried to stop Rickey,” La Russa said. “The feeling was, you stop Rickey and you stop the other club. He never had an easy at-bat, and he still put together a Hall of Fame career. He was amazing.”

  • MLB.com covers Henderson’s HOF press conference, and here’s the Yankee-related passages:

Henderson would leave Oakland for New York in a seven-player deal before the 1985 season, a four-plus-year stay that the stolen-base king said produced one of his biggest regrets.

Henderson lauded some of his teammates, like Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield, but still scratches his head at how those talented clubs — with all of George Steinbrenner’s bankroll to back them — could not reach postseason success.

“Billy Martin believed in his heart that I was supposed to be a Yankee,” Henderson said. “The thing that is a little disappointing is that when I was playing with the Yankees, we had such a great team. We just could never get over the hump.”

  • At YESNetwork.com, Jerome Preisler believes Andy Pettitte “deserves more than take it or leave it”:

Those who believe Pettitte has a kind of moral obligation to accept the Yankees’ offer — which Sherman now says has been lowered from the original $10 mil they put on the table — are quick to support their contention by citing his poor finish last year. And the truth is that Pettitte did not end the season well, suffering from physical problems and going 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his last nine starts for an overall 14-14 record.

But his disappointing finish can be viewed in an alternate light — namely with an acknowledgment that Pettitte gutted out a stretch during which he arguably should have been on the disabled list, and did so because the Yankees, clinging desperately to its postseason hopes, had only one other reliable starter in Mike Mussina.

Or to put it another way: Pettitte took one for the team when he could have easily sat things out.

  • Randy Levine has a date in front of a State Assembly committee to talk about the funding of the new stadium, reports Newsday:

The president of the New York Yankees and the chief of the New York City Industrial Development Authority have been subpoenaed to testify Wednesday before a state Assembly committee probing the taxpayer-backed financing of a new stadium for the team.

Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) said subpoenas for Yankees president Randy Levine and Seth Pinsky, chairman of the city’s IDA, were issued Monday.

Brodsky, chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, is chairing the public hearing in lower Manhattan on the financing deal.

In a news release announcing the subpoenas, Brodsky said the Yankees and the Industrial Development Authority have “continued to stonewall” the committee’s requests for documents about the Yankees’ request for an additional $430 million in public-backed financing. The government bond financing allows the Yankees to borrow at lower interest rates.

The city’s Industrial Development Authority has a hearing on the additional taxpayer-backed funding on Thursday and the authority’s board of directors is scheduled to vote Friday.

  • Crain’s New York Business.com reports that City Comptroller William Thompson opposes further city subsidies for the new Yankee Stadium, which he had supported in the past, and will vote against additional tax-free financing for the team unless the terms are changed.
  • Esquire.com’s John Richardson chimes in on the new stadium funding fiasco.
  • DiamondHoggers.com has an exclusive look at the new Stadium.

[My take: Note the return of the right field scoreboard, harkening back to the pre-renovation old Stadium.  Maybe its good that Abreu isn't coming back, cause we KNOW he wouldn't go NEAR that thing.]

  • ESPN.com has an analysis attempting to correlate team payroll with winning percentage, and using that to compute the most “efficient” teams (the Yanks are towards the middle of the pack …. the Orioles are the worst).
  • BP.com’s Will Carroll pinch-hits for PeteAbe over at LoHud.com, and discusses the prospects for Chamberlain and Hughes in ’09.
  • Here’s a new way for a team to try and sell tickets … get a real estate broker to do it for you:

The Yankees have hired a division of a prominent Manhattan residential real estate brokerage, Prudential Douglas Elliman, to help sell some of their prime real estate: unsold premium seats and luxury boxes at the new Yankee Stadium.

“They have some customers we may not be able to reach, and they can, so we entered into a nonexclusive agreement with them,” Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, said Tuesday. “They have customers they have sold real estate to, or will in the future, and they can sell our seats in an innovative way.”

Levine said that hiring Prudential Douglas Elliman was not an indication of a slow sales pace on high-end seats at the $1.3 billion stadium. Seven luxury suites remained unsold, out of 59, and about 1,000 of 4,000 premium seats were available.

The Yankees hope Prudential Douglas Elliman will accelerate the sales of seats that range in cost from $350 to $2,500 a game.

“There’s been a lot of press about how expensive the premium seats are,” said Neil Sroka, president of Douglas Elliman Worldwide Consulting, which promotes and markets real estate projects for developers.

He said buyers can still get a 20-game package for $7,000 a seat.

“It’s obtainable,” he said. “In this economic time, people are still looking for things to take their children or grandchildren to.”

Sroka said the company would send targeted mailings to prospective customers and create special events, including one at the Super Bowl, to promote the seats and suites.

“Just like everything else, in different economic times, they probably wouldn’t have needed our help,” Sroka said. He added, “We believe we can add value to what they’re doing.” His firm is receiving a consulting fee from the Yankees.

  • On this date in 1932, Babe Ruth rejects a Yankees offer of $70,000, as the major leagues vow to cut salaries by $1 million.
  • On this date in 1954, Joe DiMaggio marries Marilyn Monroe.
  • On this date in 1987, Catfish Hunter (and Billy Williams) are elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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13 comments

1 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 9:26 am

Richardson's piece in Esquire displays a total lack of understanding of the Stadium financing issue. Regardless of the where you stand on the issue, it would be nice if the "journalists" covering the story where a little more educated on the topic. Heck, Richardson even identifies Brodsky as a "New York state congressman", so basic facts weren't even checked.

2 Mattpat11   ~  Jan 14, 2009 9:45 am

Is it really that outrageous to say that Rickey Henderson of the 80s would be one of the highest paid players in the game today?

3 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2009 10:27 am

Regardless of the where you stand on the issue, it would be nice if the “journalists” covering the story where a little more educated on the topic.

It would be, but given the people they're catering to, they have no need to be a bit more educated on the topic. And that's a shame.

As for the Mets' patch, you'd think they'd do a better job than that.

As for the 85-89 Yankees, they had a decent offense (despite problems @ SS & 3b), but the pitching was fairly lousy. They only had a realistic shot @ a division title twice; in 1985 & 1988.

Is it really that outrageous to say that Rickey Henderson of the 80s would be one of the highest paid players in the game today?

No it isn't considering he was one of the highest paid players during the 80's.

4 JL25and3   ~  Jan 14, 2009 11:24 am

William, hoping you're still around...I wanted to follow up on a discussion we had the other day - not the Stadium this time, but the free agent quotas.

I don't think the rule is ambiguous at all. I agree with you that it doesn't make much sense for it to be based on the total number of free agents, because that doesn't impose any meaningful restrictions. So, rationally, that shouldn't be what it means.

And yet, that's exactly what it says, and I don't think there's any ambiguity about it. Here's the language: "The number of signings permitted shall be related to the number of Players electing free agency under this Section B."

Four other times in the same paragraph, when they want to refer to type A and B free agents, they specifically say "type A and B Players." In an earlier paragraph, they draw a clear distinction between those two phrases when they refer to "a Player who: (i) became a free agent under this Section B; and (ii) ranks as a Type A or B Player as defined below..."

So everywhere else, those phrases are used specifically and distinctly. The concept may not make much sense, but it makes even less sense to think that lawyers drawing up a contract saw that phrase and thought, We'll let that slide because you know what we mean. And even if that's what they meant, it's not what they said, and that's all that matters in a contract.

I think the language is clear and unambiguous, even if it seems stupid (which it does).

5 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 11:45 am

[3] The 1985 Yankees were a legitimately good team. Their ERA+ of 109 and OPS+ of 112 would do the dynasty era proud. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays had ridiculous pitching that season and won 99 games.

The 1986 team again had an excellent offense, but the pitching fell off. Still, the team won 90 games and was very much alive in September (if only Pags shot to right went out!!)

The 1987 squad took a big step back, but for a time, it look destined to win the East. As late as July 5, the Yankees held a 5 game lead, but then injuries to Henderson, Mattingly and Randolph crippled them.

Finally, in 1988, a very tight division kept the Yankees alive, but they were never really a threat after mid-August. That season was the start of the team's decline, which lasted through 1993.

Clearly, the best team and biggest regret was 1985. Arguably, it was the best Yankee team to not make the post season, and probably better than at least a handful of those that did.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 11:54 am

[4] I did some subsequent research on the topic and realized the facts that you just presented. While intuitively the rule does not make sense, it is spelled out in agreement. Still, I wouldn't exactly call it " clear and unambiguous" because it does make you pause and wonder whether they made a mistake (i.e., left off Type A or B in the one instance when they only refer to Players).

After all, in a colum written by Keith Law, who worked in the Toronto Front Office, he wrote the following:

"There is also a set of quotas governing how many Type A and B players one club may sign as free agents in one winter, with that number determined by the total number of Type A and B players who elect free agency in that offseason."

As you can see, Law had it wrong, despite being both a pretty smart guy and a former MLB employee.

7 Shaun P.   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:00 pm

[5] My now-understanding of the '85 season (which the 1985 version of me wouldn't have agreed with) is that if the Yanks had just kept Rags in the rotation, they would have won that division crown.

Of course you can play a lot of "what if" with the mid-80s Yankees (all the kids traded away, the bad signings (Ed Whitson et al)), but that's the one that always stood out most to me.

8 JL25and3   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:05 pm

[6] I think the language is clear and unambiguous, it's just that the idea isn't. In fact, the idea is nonsense. If you try to think about it for even a second, Law's interpretation is the only one that makes sense. But if you don't think and just look at the language, there's no other way to interpret it.

9 Yankee Mama   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:13 pm

He said buyers can still get a 20-game package for $7,000 a seat.

“It’s obtainable,” he said. “In this economic time, people are still looking for things to take their children or grandchildren to.”

$7,000 a seat? For me and my children? It's obtainable? I feel a rant coming on. What planet are they on? To whom are they speaking?

Ok, I totally slough off my Mets fan friends who complain about how egregious Yankee spending is because the truth is I'm secretly happy that they got me the x-mas presents I wanted.

What I find incomprehensible is that not only did the Yankees get tax breaks, but that my tax money helps pay for a stadium that I can no longer afford to enjoy.

That, in the building of said new stadium, they made no, not one attempt to make it environmentallly sound nor did they take any initiatives to reduce the amount of resources that they would be over-consuming, which will negatively impact the environement and drain more of our tax-payer money.

My Yankees are beloved. Don't get me wrong. I know it's not black and white. I get that I can't have it all: a competing team: and a socially conscious organization I can respect. I must say that for today, I'm disappointed.

Tomorrow, I'll go back to my low-level denial as I wax poetic about pitchers and catchers. Thanks for letting me rant.

10 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:39 pm

I stand corrected on the 1986 squad, for some reason, I thought they finished out further than they did.

My now-understanding of the ‘85 season (which the 1985 version of me wouldn’t have agreed with) is that if the Yanks had just kept Rags in the rotation, they would have won that division crown.

Maybe, maybe not, but there was a big losing streak (8) in Sept that hurt the Yanks. They did manage to go on a tear in Sept as well, with a 3 game showdown in Exhibition for the division. I think the Yanks needed to sweep to tie.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:48 pm

[7] Interesting thing to consider...the Yankees had a stacked pen in 1985, so yes, I also think that if Rags has been a starter instead of Ed Whitson, they would have had a chance to close the gap. Having said that, the Yankees had 4 100 IP relievers, so I am not sure who could have picked up Righetti's slack.

[8] Agreed...the context and common sense just completely belie the language, which serves to distort what is explicit.

[9] They aren't speaking to me or you or most people. That quote was referring to the wealthy clients of this particular real estate firm regarding a very select price level of seats. The fact of the matter is that the upper tier and bleachers will be similarly priced and in some cases cheaper. Sure, that means most people can't sit in prime seats, but quite frankly, whether the best seats are 3K or $300 per, I am not going to be sitting in them anyway.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Jan 14, 2009 12:54 pm

[10] Yep...they needed to sweep to take the division, but took two of 3 instead, winning the last game behind Phil Niekro's 300th victory.

You are right about the mid-September swoon, which oddly came after one of the seasons biggest moments. In the opening game of a 4 game set against the Jays, the Yankees rallied from behind to win, thanks in large part to a titanic HR hit by Ron Hassey (I can remember the "Babe Hassey" headlines the next day). Unfortunately, they lost the next three games and didn't recover until it was too late.

Also, if my memory serves, I believe 1985 was the year Yankee fans booed Oh Canada, prompting Bob Sheppard to read a pre-game announcement recalling how Canadian military forces once assisted in a rescue of U.S. forces, or something like that.

13 Raf   ~  Jan 14, 2009 1:10 pm

Also, if my memory serves, I believe 1985 was the year Yankee fans booed Oh Canada

That is correct. It happened again in 1993 when the Yanks were chasing the Jays.

1985 was also the year where Mary O'Dowd forgot the words to O, Canada.

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