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Mashup: Yankee Debt, Cuba, Mulder, LaRue, BBA General Chapter, Lee

September 30, 2010

With life’s responsibilities taking up most of my time and the various projects I have been working on (including preparing my year-end reviews for each organization – which I’ll hopefully begin posting shortly) there hasn’t been much time to write so my posting frequency has admittedly been a little sparse lately. But, there have been a number of items I’ve come across recently I’ve wanted to share. So, without further ado …

  • Too many people (I’m looking primarily at you Red Sox Nation) continue to play the “the Yankees buy their players year in and year out” card when it comes to criticizing the organization for how much they spend on payroll. Well, despite having the highest payroll once again by a wide margin we learned recently via a report in the Sports Business Journal that the Yankees’ holding company, Yankee Global Enterprises, is holding nearly $2 Billion in non-stadium related debt and an additional $1.2 Billion in stadium bond debt. Now, those are some astonishing numbers but looking at the grand picture one thing is blatantly obvious. The Yankees, as a whole, are fiscally sound enough to “manage” that debt without panic. Benjamin Kabak over at River Avenue Blues put it best, I think, when he wrote “This is a company that is financially healthy enough to be carrying $2 Billion worth of debt, and the on-field product doesn’t suffer.” With a number of teams crying about not having the finances to support a competitive team it’s quite a statement to think about what the Yankees can do despite carrying such incredible debt.
  • Cuba reportedly is considering implementing a system that would allow its players to move directly to MLB without having to first defect to another country. Simply put, the government would control the process on their behalf, facilitating the scouting/signing process once a player has performed for a minimum of 8 years in the country’s professional league. The kicker to the idea, Cuba would take 40% of the player’s salary as compensation for allowing the process to take place. Now obviously such a system would never work for a number of reasons (first and foremost being the continued trade embargo between the US and Cuba which would throw a huge wrench into the idea) but it is interesting to think about opening a system up that would allow players to move more freely to the US. Perhaps a posting system similar to that which MLB currently enjoys with Japan could work?
  • At one point in time the Oakland A’s had one of the most promising trio of starting pitchers when Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder led their starting rotation. Without an offense to support them there were few winning seasons to be had in Oakland and all three pitchers eventually would leave town. We know what happened to each after leaving Oakland. Hudson had success in Atlanta, underwent Tommy John surgery, and has returned to form this season while leading Atlanta to the brink of the postseason. Zito signed a massive contract with San Francisco and then seemingly forgot how to pitch before starting to regain his old self this year. Then there is Mulder, who arrive in St. Louis with high hopes only to suffer from one injury after another which led to a total of 21 starts over his final three seasons. There were multiple failed “comeback attempts” before his eventual retirement this past February. Now we have word on what Mulder is doing to pass the time and it turns out he’s been golfing quite a bit. He’s apparently played in 12 tournaments this past Spring and Summer, finishing in the top 5 in all 12 while winning 7 of them. He’s even reportedly considering making an attempt to join the PGA Tour if he decides he can stomach being away from his family once again. Mulder always seemed like a good guy though, so good for him for finding his second career.
  • As many of you know I, and this blog, are proud members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. With just over 200 members we have broken up the BBA into Chapters in preparation for our year-end award voting. Most of the Chapters are fairly logical – grouping all of the blogs that focus on one team together. However, we do have about 30 or so blogs that don’t focus on one team in particular – such as this one – which have been grouped together into our General Chapter. To my pleasure, I’ve been asked to take on the role of President for the General Chapter. In the next few weeks there will be a handful of posts coming up to announce our (i.e. the Chapter’s) votes for each of the major year end awards.
  • A series between St. Louis and Cincinnati in early August is being given a good deal of credit in turning the season around for a Reds team that at the time was fighting to hold onto a chance within the division. Since that time, the Reds have gone on to win the Central and make the post season for the first time since 1995 while the Cardinals have spiraled into a distant second place. But the big loss from the whole situation appears to be the career of Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue. LaRue apparently was the recipient of a number of kicks to the head during the now-infamous brawl between the two teams during that August series. Those kicks left him with a concussion which has not only ended his season but also his career. It seems as though LaRue was considering retiring at year’s end even before the brawl took place but he’s not decided that his health is too important to his family to even consider playing again after this year comes to an end. He dealt with some major after-effects that have “made the decision for him” with regards to his future. He even considered suing over what happened, according to friends, but decided against it. He will finish his career with a .231/.315/.396 line over 12 seasons.
  • The Golden Sombrero plays a game of MLB Look-Alikes and hits this one perfectly. Khalil Greene and Jeff Spicoli (Yup, Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s Jeff Spicoli.) Take a look and you’ll understand.
  • It was an interesting two weeks in the Mattingly household. First father Don was named as the successor to Joe Torre as manager of the LA Dodgers. Then son Preston was traded away from the organization in a deal which sent him to Cleveland in exchange for another minor league outfielder, Roman Pena. While in the grand scheme of things the deal is truly a minor one – one struggling minor leaguer for another – it’s interesting considering the timing of the deal.
  • Ken Burns is best known for his documentaries on PBS covering the Civil War and Baseball. Finally he’s followed up the original Baseball production with a four hour continuation called “The Tenth Inning”. Most of the early reviews question why he placed such a focus on the steroid era while ignoring (or barely mentioning) a number of other topics. I have not yet watched the followup which aired this week (but have it on DVR so I can catch up on it this weekend) but I’m anxious to see it.
  • Bill “Spaceman” Lee was one of the most enigmatic pitchers baseball has ever seen. The movie rights to his life apparently have already been sold to actor Woody Harrelson (a movie I’d love to see, by the way, if and when it’s finally made). Well, Lee decided to add more fodder to the potential script when be made an appearance earlier this month for the Brockton Rox. For many years, Satchel Paige had been considered the oldest pitcher to appear in a professional game when he threw 3 innings for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 at age 59. Lee, now 63, trumped that accomplishment not only by pitching 5+ innings but by also earning the win for the Rox over Worcester.
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