Mindblowing! That’s how I felt when I saw the news about the ESPN layoffs and the inclusion of veteran Baseball writer Jayson Stark. I have long viewed Stark as the foremost Baseball authority at ESPN. He consistently wrote interesting, objective, and fact-based stories. After 17 years and recognized as a leading Baseball sportswriter, he was given the swift boot by ESPN. Amazing. I am not going to cry for Stark. ESPN’s loss will most certainly be another media giant’s gain. This proves that no industry is immune to economic turmoil. Most likely, all of us, at one point in our lives (or more), have been victimized by financial downturns in the economy. Still, it doesn’t make the losses any easier.
I will be anxious to see where Stark lands. He is too valuable to lose in this chaotic sport. While there were a number of notable names included in the ESPN layoffs, the other that stood out to me was NFL reporter Ed Werder. I’ve been following Werder since his days as the Dallas Cowboys beat writer for The Dallas Morning News. He has been an institution for the NFL. Like Stark, he has spent 17 years at ESPN. Also like Stark, I doubt Werder has any problems finding his next gig but I hope it is one that affords him a national presence as I don’t really follow Dallas area sports anymore.
It was definitely a crazy day…no doubt. Best of luck to all those affected by the layoffs. Hopefully their entries into the free agent market will be very short-lived.
In 2007, the Yankees first round selection (30th overall) was the long forgotten pitcher Andrew Brackman. Once slated to be part of the Killer B’s along with Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the 6’10” Brackman was never able to realize his potential following Tommy John surgery and was later released. He is now out of baseball. The same year of the draft, the Yankees chose a college player in the 39th round (1191st pick overall) by the name of Eric Thames. Thames didn’t sign and went back to Pepperdine University. Fast forward ten years, and Thames, after spending three years in Korea and now with the Milwaukee Brewers, is the Major League leader in home runs with eleven. He has also scored a Major League-leading 27 runs. Although he was pulled from Wednesday’s game for a tight hamstring, he should be back to increase his homer total on Friday. Wow, where did this come from? In the off-season, the Brewers cut last year’s first baseman, Chris Carter, who tied Nolan Arenado for most homers in the NL with 41, and signed Thames as his replacement. While it is unlikely that Thames will continue at his current pace, the Brewers haven’t missed a beat in getting huge production out of their first basemen. Too bad those scouts who found Thames in 2007 didn’t see the potential in the Korean Leagues. Kudos to the Brewers scouts who did. The year after the Yankees had drafted Thames, he was picked in the seventh round by the Toronto Blue Jays which clearly showed the Yankees had uncovered a potential diamond in the rough. Thames did fail in chances with the Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros before finding his niche in Korea. Still, there’s probably a few Yankees scouts saying “I told you so”.
The Yankees win!…
It was a very laborious 9th inning, but the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the opener of their rain-shortened two game series at Fenway Park on a very foggy night. Luis Severino was quite simply…incredible. He did not look like the same pitcher on the mound. I don’t know if it was his best Major League performance but it might be his most impressive. Sevy (2-1) was in charge throughout his seven innings of work, giving up only three hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out six. This is the Severino we have been waiting for. The youngster has grown up. Very exciting stuff. The offense was 100% Baby Bomber-powered. Aaron Judge, celebrating his 25th birthday, slugged a second inning two-run homer to right off AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-3). Greg Bird, showing that a Bird #33 jersey is no longer something to cheer for in Boston, delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth, scoring Judge. Judge also made a highlight reel catch that carried him into right field foul territory stands in the third inning. I was worried that the three runs might not be enough when Aroldis Chapman clearly didn’t have it in the 9th. He gave up a hit and allowed two walks and a run. Boston had the winning run on base but with Chapman’s 33rd pitch of the inning, he struck out Josh Rutledge to end the game. Big sigh of relief…
Credit: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankees to homer at Fenway Park on their birthday are Yogi Berra and Roger Maris. 8, 9, and 99. Very select company for Aaron Judge! By the way, Happy Belated Birthday to him!
Have a great Thursday! Hopefully today is a sweeping success for everyone
It has been a tough week…
The week started on the wrong foot when long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard died, but it reached its crescendo with the passing of owner George Steinbrenner. Monday morning, I was at the gym running on the treadmill when ESPN broke in with the story that George had suffered a heart attack. With each update, the news got progressively worse. Between 6:30 am (actual time of death) and 7:00 am, other news channels began to report that the Boss had died. ESPN lagged behind with their report of the death. It was difficult to watch the news unfold. At first, you hope for the best, but as each report got progressively worse, the realization that this may be the end began to set in, and of course, the finale was the worst case scenario.
I realize that George’s health had deteriorated significantly in the past few years. But still, I did not expect his demise to come so suddenly. Of course George was not a perfect owner. He clearly had his faults, but you could never fault his desire to win. I do not agree with the way people were treated at times. I became a Yankees fan at the end of 1974 so George had just been the owner of the team for two years. Instability at the manager and pitching coach positions was a given. It was a certainty each year that there would be change at one or both of the positions. I idolized Billy Martin and I was always so thrilled when he was hired and so devastated when he was fired, and it was a cycle that kept repeating itself until Martin died tragically on Christmas Day 1989.
The Star Ledger
By the time that Joe Torre was hired in 1996, I was so ready for stability. I had grown tired over the years of the constant change, and did not like the revolving door for players in the 80’s as the roster was constantly changing. I don’t know if it was George mellowing or if it took special personalities like Stick Michael to allow the core players to develop and management and coaching positions to hold, but whatever the reason, George was still responsible for the great late 90’s championship run that I will probably never experience again in my lifetime.
I admire and respect current Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, but he is obviously much more reserved than his father. I don’t think that Hal will ever gain the love (or the hatred) to the degree his father experienced. Well, I suppose championships are a cure for everything, but at this point, it would be hard to envision the son enjoying the success of the father. Time will tell.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I wish that the Yankees had been successful in landing Cliff Lee in what turned out to be the final trade negotiation of George’s life. But it was fitting for George to depart with a two-game lead in the AL East at the All-Star break. I also read about how his death was convenient for the family given that there is not an estate tax this year (saving them something like $45 million).
I think it is important that we remember George’s faults while we reminisce about his good qualities, and not try to defend those bad traits. They are what made the man…good, bad or indifferent…and frankly, I really wouldn’t want it any other way. I am glad to have experienced the Steinbrenner Era and I hope that it has helped to make me a better person as a result. I will miss George but I do look forward to the new Steinbrenner regime. They’ve already given us one championship so hopefully the dedication to winning will remain and we’ll see Hal and Hank at the podium accepting future trophies from the Commissioner.