Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
Seems like we're getting a snowstorm a week. This week's wasn't as as bad as it could have been. We got a lot of snow, followed by sleet and then rain. It melted, leaving a thick layer of slush over everything Wednesday afternoon. Which of course froze solid overnight, making it treacherous to walk around this morning.
I'm eagerly awaiting spring, and baseball season. I can't wait to pack up my camera and head to the ballpark again.
Former Yankee Matt DeSalvo signed a minor league deal with the Mets.
The Pirates have signed Eric Hinske to a guaranteed contract. That probably means Doug Mientkiewicz won't be returning to Pittsburgh. Not sure what this means for Andy Phillips. Hinske plays the same positions as Andy, but bats left. They may want a righty to go along with him.
The baseball world is abuzz over The Yankee Years, the new book co-written by Joe Torre. It won't be officially released until February 3, but review copies have gone out, and there are a ton of articles already.
The New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani suggests that what went wrong with the Yankees was exactly what fans have been complaining about for years:
The hallmark of the Yankees who won World Series championships in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 was gritty team play: they weren’t famous for a roster of flashy superstars or power hitters; rather, they were a resolute band of brothers, who put collective play above individual stats — an ensemble distinguished by its chemistry on the field and in the clubhouse, a team renowned for its resourcefulness, its determination and its ability to grind out win after win after win.
...Torre and Verducci note that as the core of the old guard from the championship years dwindled — Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Paul O’Neill were all history by 2002 — the front office tended to turn to imported All-Stars, who failed to congeal into an effective ensemble. The farm system, which had produced the likes of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Rivera, was increasingly neglected, and Steinbrenner began to indulge his taste for what Torre calls “big boppers” like Jason Giambi, who the manager felt “wasn’t part of what we prided ourselves on: playing well defensively.”
I have a friend who is a long-time Pirates fan. (She's a big reason I am a baseball fan today.) I e-mailed her yesterday and asked her if she thought the Bucs would sign Minky, and if they did, was there still room on the roster for Andy Phillips?
She replied that she didn't think there was room on the roster for either Minky or Andy. The fans love Minky, and want him back. She does, too. But the Pirates want 41-year-old Luis Gonzalez instead. She's horrified at the very thought.
Bucs Dugout thinks it's a bad idea, too:
The Pirates already have Jeff Salazar, a better, more versatile defensive outfielder and probably Gonzalez' equal as a hitter, signed to a minor league contract. The Pirates should let him have one of the bench spots. They also have Andy Phillips, a good minor-league hitter who can probably fill the Mientkiewicz infield-corners role perfectly well. Phillips can also fill in at second and left in a pinch, and he's a righty, so he can take some at bats against tough lefties away from Adam LaRoche early in the season.
Even though I've been seriously concerned about the economy for awhile now, I'm really surprised at how quickly it's affected Major League Baseball. Surely the multimillionaire kings of the diamond would be immune to the downturn, at least for awhile.
Nope. There are a lot of big name stars still looking for jobs. Some players and their agents suspect collusion, but they're in denial. The problem is the economy:
Rather, it would seem to be a confluence of factors that has caused this ice jam in the free agent market - the economy, the downside of many players left on the market and a disconnect between the agents and the new-market value of their clients. You could add to that the gloomy long-term economic picture former treasury secretary Paul Volcker painted for the owners at their meeting in New York last November. Between that and Bud Selig's even more dire follow-up speech, the owners were left pale-faced.
..."I always felt the top 5-6 guys would get their money and the Yankees pretty much took care of that," said one baseball executive. "But I can tell you, teams are scared to death about how the economy is going to affect all their in-ballpark revenues, above and beyond just ticket sales. Things like advertising, corporate sponsorship and merchandising."
Labels: The Greater Depression
Pete Abe reports that Melky Cabrera and the Yankees avoided arbitration. Melky wanted $1.7 million, the Yanks offered $1.2 million. They settled on a $1.4 million deal, plus performance incentives.
Unreal. He was terrible. He got sent down to AAA. There were stories about him and Cano partying at all hours, and it was rumored one reason he was sent down was because they wanted to separate the two and break up the party. I can't believe Melky had the 'nads to even file for arbitration after the year he had. And he gets a million dollar raise.
In other hot stove news...Mike Stanton signed a minor league deal with the Cuba.
And Doug Mientkiewicz, though still unsigned, may return to the Pirates. Apparently, the Pittsburgh fans love him:
Doug Mientkiewicz said he was "blown away" by feedback he has heard and read from Pittsburgh fans urging the Pirates to re-sign him. Had he been received like this anywhere else? "Not this quickly," he said. "And I had a good year, but I didn't do what I thought I was capable of doing. My numbers were very average, at best. I should have had more home runs, more RBIs. But, that said, the way the people there took to me - I'm overwhelmed, floored, whatever words you can use to describe it. They get me. They understand me."
India, an American shorthair, grew up with the Bushes’ twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara. According to Bush family lore, it was young Barbara who named the cat after one of her dad’s star players when he was an owner of the Texas Rangers.
The McPaper had another article the other day about how the bad economy is affecting sports. The problem isn't the fans. At least so far, the fans are hanging in there. The problem is the sponsors. The Arena Football League has canceled their 2009 season. Not because they're afraid they can't sell tickets, but because they're afraid their sponsors will pull out. A lot of their sponsors are in the banking and car industries - both very hard hit by the financial crisis.
Baseball must be facing similar issues. The SWB Yankees play on PNC Field, and a lot of other teams also play in parks that bear the names of banks. I suppose they must have an advantage over sports like Arena Football, being connected to deep-pocketed big league teams...but even the big league teams seem a little worried.
The issue of salary cap has arisen again:
Some baseball owners say it may be time to reconsider a salary cap after the New York Yankees spent nearly a half-billion dollars on free agents during a recession that may cause some teams to retrench.
"I would ask, if it's such a bad idea, what sport doesn't have a salary cap other than us?" Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said Wednesday.
The Yankees are asking at a hearing this week for another $259 million in tax-exempt bonds and $111 million in taxable bonds to build the Bronx stadium, scheduled to open with an exhibition game on April 3. That's on top of $940 million in tax-exempt bonds and $25 million in taxable bonds already granted.
The cost of the stadium has risen to $1.5 billion from $800 million when the project was announced in June 2005. The cost includes $1.3 billion in bond financing and $225 million in private funds.
The subsidies for the stadium have sparked outrage in the middle of a global economic meltdown that has crippled the city's budget and cut thousands of working-class jobs while the Yankees doled out hundreds of millions of dollars for new players. The team, which last season failed to make the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, signed pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira to contracts totaling $423.5 million.
Labels: The Greater Depression
The Yankees released the list of players given spring training invites. Among them is Shelley Duncan, which means he must have cleared waivers. I'm kind of surprised. I thought someone would grab him.
Since this is the first time he was outrighted to the minors, he could not refuse the assignment.
Among other transactions: Justin Christian signed with Baltimore. Randy Choate signed with the Rays. And Nick Green signed with the Red Sox.
The votes are in, and Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Henderson was a no-brainer, Rice, not so much.
Rickey Henderson blocked Bubba when he was a Dodger:
SARASOTA, FL (March 31, 2005) – Rickey Henderson is still available, presumably in great shape and ready to resume his career. The Yankees, to Bubba Crosby's relief, are not interested.
Henderson, a future Hall of Fame outfielder, represented the most deflating moment in Crosby's career. After six minor-league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Crosby had finally learned how to hit. He was bruising the Pacific Coast League in the summer of 2003, and the Dodgers were desperate for hitting.
But instead of calling up Crosby, their former first-round pick, the Dodgers signed Henderson, who was 44 years old. Henderson batted .208. The Dodgers traded Crosby to the Yankees for Robin Ventura two weeks later, when he was batting .361 at Triple-A.
"Even though Rickey Henderson is one of the greatest baseball players ever, it was still, to me, kind of a slap in my face that I didn't get an opportunity," Crosby said. "I was a Dodger, and in that organization, that's all they talk about – breeding young talent, moving through the organization. It was kind of like, what else do I need to do?"
A follow-up on the Robbie Tolan shooting, which I posted about before. The Houston Chronicle has an article about it today, which includes a section about Bellaire's minority athletes. Jose Cruz Jr. says he moved away from Bellaire because of the way police treated him.
Celebrity residents have not been immune from police contact. Tolan's father, Bobby, was a major league baseball player, and the son starred at Bellaire High School.
Jose Cruz Jr., a former Bellaire High School and Rice University baseball standout and son of the one-time Astros star hitter, told a Houston television station last week that he, too, had been stopped by Bellaire police as an adult in 2002, an incident he said prompted him to move from his old hometown.
He said he was in a new car with his pregnant wife when a police officer stopped him because of an absent front license plate. He said he believed he was racially profiled.
"The officer proceeded to arrest me," Cruz told KHOU-TV (Channel 11). "He told me that there were warrants out for my arrest. I told him that I didn't have so much as a ticket, much less a warrant."
Because of the mistake, Cruz said, he ended up spending the night in jail.
This minor league card is dated 2003, and was probably actually printed then, since it doesn't include his 2003 stats. Bubba had played some games with the 51s in 2001 and 2002, so the photo is probably from one of those seasons. Likely 2002.
Here's the back:
Crosby enters his sixth season in professional baseball...split time last season between Double-A Jacksonville and the 51s...played in a total of 111 games. 2002: Appeared in 73 games for the 51s and battled .262 (73-for-279) with 12 doubles, nine home runs and 36 RBI...collected 19 multiple-hit games...appeared in 38 games at Jacksonville and batted .260. 2001: Led Southern League co-champion Jacksonville with a .302 batting mark...named to postseason SL all-star team...selected to the National League squad for Double-A All-Star Game...as a junior at Rice University in 1998, earned All-American honors after hitting .394 with 25 home runs and 91 RBI.
Small groups of campers, no more than 24 per camp, are drawn to the Burns property that provides professional baseball player instructors like Lee Evans, a fourth round Pittsburgh draft choice in 1996, and Andy Phillips, who recently signed as an infielder for the Pirates.
Phillips said his passion is helping to make a difference in the lives of these children. While some big names come to help with baseball camp, the most satisfying part of the program, he said, is watching these children develop confidence not only in their ability on the field, but their relationship with God.
"It's literally a field of dreams," Phillips said. "These kids come to camp and they don't want to leave." A particular camp that excites him is the one the team does for underprivileged children. "These children have nothing," he said. "They show up without shoes or gloves. We take the equipment and teach them (baseball), but we are also sharing our love of Christ. We can teach baseball, but if that's all we're doing it's not enough. For me it's about helping the kids."
Labels: Andy Phillips
A strange and tragic story from Bubba's home town of Bellaire, Texas.
Son of baseballer shot by cop
(CNN) -- Robbie Tolan sits in a Houston, Texas, hospital bed with a bullet from a police officer's gun lodged in his liver. The son of a famed baseball player was shot in his own driveway.
But how this unarmed 23-year-old and his cousin ended up in the cross-hairs of an officer's gun, suspected of stealing a car, is a question sparking allegations of racial profiling.
Now that the holidays are over, the business of baseball is speeding up.
Mark Teixeira was added to the Yankees roster, which meant someone had to go. That someone was Shelley Duncan. If he clears waivers, he'll be back in Scranton. My guess is he won't clear waivers, though. Someone will want cheap, right-handed power.
Carl Pavano signed with the Indians. Good grief. Words fail me.
Andy Pettitte refused the Yankees' offer. It's not looking good for his return.
Jason Giambi is going home to Oakland. He got a one-year deal for $4.5 million.
And Bubba's chair went for $266.97.
Andy Phillips was doubtless rooting for the Crimson Tide last night. I thought they might have a national championship in them for awhile this year, but no. They got mugged by Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Just didn't look like the same team they were earlier this season.
And on the baseball front, "Everyday" Scott Proctor is now a Fish. He signed a one-year deal with the Marlins worth $750,000, and could earn another $250,000 in performance incentives.
Proctor is originally from Florida, not far from Miami, so this is going home for him.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all... Someone is selling chairs from the Yankees clubhouse, circa 2005. Including Bubba Crosby's.
Flash Gordon's chair is also available.
Pretty cool items. I imagine a lot of fans would love to have a chair from the Yankees clubhouse.
Minimum bid is only $0.99, but watch out for the shipping. It's $40. (Which is probably reasonable for such a bulky item.)
Oh, and happy new year, all. Hard to believe it's actually 2009.