Big Bri On His Skydiving Action Playset

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A Yankees executive whose position owed more to his presence (just showing up) than overt and noticeable skill has become something of a legend with his on and off field misadventures. The players raise their eyebrows, shake their heads, smirk and occasionally laugh at the predicaments he finds himself in; the odd way he speaks; the ego underneath the humdrum and unchangeable averageness. A bespectacled nebbish whose capabilities were in question from the beginning was constantly one step ahead of the sharks nipping at his feet be they expectations, unavoidable ravages of age, or a new reality from which he can’t escape, this particular person was forever under the raving mania of George Steinbrenner. Somehow he survived. In some circles, he’s judged to be competent—even good at what he does. In others, there’s a shrug at the underlying duplicitousness; at his arrogant and hidden bewilderment that there are people functioning in the world that believe him and his flexibilities with the truth.

Of course I’m referring to one George Costanza, former traveling secretary for the New York Yankees on Seinfeld.

Costanza was, among other things, committed to an insane asylum by Boss Steinbrenner; accused of stealing and selling Yankees merchandise; and eventually traded for a fermented chicken drink and chicken snacks (according to ESPN).

George Costanza is a fictional character. The real Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, is having his own midlife crisis that has led to the latest escapade of breaking his right fibula and dislocating his ankle skydiving. That it was for a good cause (the Wounded Warrior Project) is irrelevant. In recent years, the vanilla personality, almost opaque to the point of invisibility, has been replaced by a man who was caught in a reported affair with a woman who was also married; who got divorced; who was involved with a woman who supposedly stalked and blackmailed him (after he wrote a reference letter on Yankees letterhead on her behalf); who has been doing all sorts of adventurous stuff indicative of searching for fulfillment. For some, it manifests in debating whether or not to have an affair, to get a hair transplant, to change a wardrobe. Cashman, however, has been expressing himself with activities that would make Sebastian Junger step back and say, “Whoa!”

As for his job, his main attribute has been to spend money. In ambiguous circumstances, it’s impossible to know how much credit or blame one individual should receive for what’s gone right or wrong. Could other GMs have done as well as Cashman’s done with four championships as a GM considering the amount of money available? Or has he navigated the terrain as well or better than anyone else who might have had the opportunity? It can’t be forgotten that his predecessor, Bob Watson, won a World Series as well and left after two seasons opening the door for Cashman, so his survival skills are just that—a skill for which he deserves credit even if his recent baseball maneuvers such as Michael Pineda have been disastrous. Apparently he’s decided, as part of his exploration of the limits to his abilities, to rappel down walls and jump out of airplanes. Now he’s hurt himself.

At what point do his employers tell him it’s enough? The Yankees, under the Boss, would have put a stop to all this nonsense a long time ago. And writing a reference letter for a woman who, by most accounts, is crazy on Yankees letterhead? He seems too secure in his job. From the open criticisms of the organization for the Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano signings, to basically telling Derek Jeter to leave if he doesn’t like the offer they presented to him when he was a free agent, he’s making the club look foolish and he’s doing it repeatedly. This is still George Steinbrenner’s team, but the sons are not running it like a Steinbrenner. If that’s okay with them, they should continue on this current course; if they’ve had enough of the humiliating headlines, they need to express that to Cashman. If he was a player with this track record of questionable success and off-field mishaps, he’d have been dispatched. The GM is far more replaceable than most players. Why are they tolerating this?

I’m not one for telling someone how to live his life—I really don’t care what Cashman does—but it’s gone far past the point of embarrassment and has entered satire. He’s lucky he didn’t kill himself while skydiving. Writing a check for charity and writing his name on Yankees letterhead for a good cause is just as effective, if not more, than jumping out of a plane or scaling buildings. These activities are hindering his job whether they admit it or not. The Yankees need to tell him to either rein it in or he can leave and travel the world as an X-Games participant and not be the Yankees GM anymore.

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Curt Schilling’s Rhode Island Quagmire

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Curt Schilling has that Leona Helmsley “I’m about to faint” look on his face.

Leona famously said only the little people pay taxes. Schilling seems to think similarly in terms of business practices.

His logic is whiny to say the least and Richard Nixon/Bill Clinton-like to say the most.

It’s Rhode Island’s fault that his video game company is broke and he was unable to secure extra financing to prop it up for an extended period—a period that, from the looks of things, was going to do nothing more than postpone the inevitable? The other day, I discussed the Schilling-Rhode Island mess and wondered what he was thinking getting into such a niche venture and, according to him, risking his remaining (and vast) fortune from baseball of $50 million. Now I’m wondering what he’s going to do after this disaster. He’s not particularly well-liked in baseball; his Republican buddies aren’t going to have anything to do with him in an election year because he can’t help them; and he’s not qualified to do much of anything outside of baseball or being a celebrity endorser. And I doubt a “Will Pitch For Food” booth outside of Fenway Park is going to do much good because he can’t pitch anymore.

For someone whose rhetoric has been staunchly anti-government, he’s almost certain to need the government’s help to extricate himself from this financial quagmire.

My guess is if he calls his “friends” in politics they’ll be slow to return his calls, if they return them at all. There’s always the Family Guy Mayor of Quahog, Adam West. Then again, not even the original TV Batman can save Schilling from his archenemy Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Tune in next week. Same Schill-time; same Schill-channel.

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Truth is Stranger Than Bad Fiction with Brian Cashman

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Tom Wolfe had the “Masters of the Universe” in The Bonfire of the Vanities, I have the GM of the Evil Empire.

I need a title.

The Life of Brian would be good, but it’s taken.

But we’ll worry about the title later.

A useful technique in fiction is that if you have the exoskeleton of a story mapped out in your mind, but don’t want to lose the plot by thinking too much, then you come up with names that represent the role of the characters therein and give them believable names once a rough draft or outline is complete.

But if you’re doing satire and want it to be clear satire, you give them names that are so absurd that they have to be real.

It’s a fine line.

Truth is stranger than fiction and given the names of the two protagonists—Brian Cashman and Louise Meanwell—are so ludicrous for a story of this kind, I feel compelled to come up with some names for the other participants.

They may or may not be thinly veiled for “real people”.

May or may not.

Let’s take a look:

Brian Cash-man: GM of the fictional Big Apple Highlanders (*wink*), he’s enduring a mid-life crisis that resulted in his newfound honesty in dealing with his players to the detriment of his employers, engaged in at least two affairs that have gone public and acquired a real life would-be stalker who tried and succeeded in extorting money from him.

Louise Mean-well: Is she a crazy criminal or is she a crazy person who got involved with a powerful man and used that to her advantage by trying to accumulate money?

There’s more to her story than the tabloids are telling and because someone may or may not be mentally unstable doesn’t mean they’re lying about everything they say.

A.J. Tabloidreporter: Working for a self-described muckraking website and crossing the line from exposing athletes and sports people into the tawdry, he broke the story just as it was about to explode.

Perhaps there’s a correlation between the two.

Or maybe not.

Jimmy Goodcop: a lifelong Highlanders fan, walking the beat in the toughest neighborhoods to “do some good”; he’s honest to a fault, plays by the rules and is the legitimately kindhearted police officer who arrested Ms. Meanwell and assured the Yankees GM that he and his estranged family were safe.

Robert Badcop: A fan of the crosstown Meadowlarks and Jimmy’s intimidating partner who made sure to let Ms. Meanwell know that she would never ever harm Mr. Cashman nor his family. His tough guy persona is a cover for the underlying heart of gold.

Jane Prosecutor: Attractive, conservative and not a baseball fan, she’s considered a hardline district attorney who advocates harsh sentences for any and all crimes and public transgressions. Political aspirations will be ably assisted by this high-profile case. Her intention is to publicly dress down the Yankees GM for his complicity in the prototypical affair.

Michael Yankeesshill: The lead broadcaster for the Highlanders signature network, HEN, in his delusional world if the story isn’t mentioned by him, it didn’t happen.

If Cash-man had worked for the crosstown Meadowlarks and was dealing with the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by international criminal Irving Made-Off gutting their coffers and ruining their team and reputations or if it was the scandal-plagued former GM of that team—Phil Stevens—the story would’ve been the entire show even during Super Bowl week.

Instead, it was ignored.

Fritz and Helmut Sensenbrunner: the owners of the Highlanders and right wing conservatives for whom any embarrassment to their franchise is spitting on the grave of their late father, the tyrannical raving maniac Rolf Sensenbrenner. They’re unhappy that the GM of their team is behaving in this way and, worse than anything, getting caught.

A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez has to be in this story as A-Rod.

Just because.

***

In all seriousness, when Deadspin broke the story in a gauche manner with A.J. Daulerio going so far as to say he was wearing Cashman’s pajama bottoms at “Lou’s” apartment, it was something that was done to embarrass a man because of his personal life and it wasn’t really anyone’s business but Cashman, his family and the Yankees.

The next day, it became news that is going to affect the Yankees organization because once it reaches these proportions, the behavior of the man running the team is absolutely relevant on and off the field.

Cashman was obviously involved with this woman.

If he hadn’t been, why did he pay her one penny let alone $6000? Why is there the audio of Cashman calling her (in a tone that suggests he wants her to do his taxes rather than contacting a former or present lover) and writing recommendation letters on her behalf?

And why, if she was some “psycho stalker”, was he taking part in consultations with her family and psychiatrist? Is he a humanitarian that he wants to save the world lunatic by lunatic?

Why didn’t he call the police and alert the Yankees that he had a problem with a disturbed person? She would’ve been arrested and the police and Yankees would’ve taken steps to protect Cashman and his family.

This ongoing saga is a strange, scandalous turn of events that will go on and on until the media and public tire of it.

And that’s not going to be for a long, long while.

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Yesterday the Cashman Story Was Gossip; Now It’s News

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Brian Cashman took part in a “sting” to catch this woman who was supposedly stalking him?

Okay.

It’s a little farfetched, but okay.

Yesterday Deadspin published an article detailing this woman (the mysterious “Lou”) who claimed to have had a relationship with the Yankees GM and I wrote that Cashman’s off-field activities are no one’s business as long as they’re not affecting his job.

They updated the piece after “Lou” was arrested. You can read it here.

A few hours later, the woman was arrested.

You can read the news story here on NYTimes.com.

Obviously Cashman had some sort of relationship with this woman and it morphed into extortion, arrest and embarrassment.

With the revelation (also on Deadspin) that Cashman had been carrying on with a different married woman last year, this along his newly outgoing and somewhat self-destructive decision to openly discuss his players as if he were a columnist or TV analyst with ruthless honesty, is Cashman’s mid-life crisis permeating into the way he does his job?

If so, that’s not good.

Were George Steinbrenner still around, he never would’ve tolerated his GM acting in this way and having it get into the public sphere as foundation of ridicule for his franchise; nor would he have taken lightly Cashman’s public rift with his bosses over the signing of Rafael Soriano a year ago and the hard-line he took with Derek Jeter which angered the iconic star.

Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine—conservatives all—can’t be happy with the “new” Cashman’s image either.

Having just signed a 3-year, $9 million contract and running the team in a mostly effective fashion, Cashman’s job is not in any kind of jeopardy. But if this off-field meltdown continues, there may come a day where they say enough is enough. And if Cashman thinks his four World Series rings as a GM and history of success is going to get him another job immediately if he and the Yankees part ways, he’d better realize that there’s still the perception in many circles inside and outside of baseball that he’s an average GM who’s benefited greatly from a $200 million payroll and can’t transport his success from one club to another as Pat Gillick did.

Yesterday this was fodder for tabloid gossip and in the wink, nod and giggle section of the paper. Today it’s in the front of the paper and making the GM of the most famous team in sports and his organization look foolish. If he wants to maintain a reputation of professionalism, he’d better get his personal life and attitude in order and somewhere close to what it was five years ago or his problems are going to expand to the point where he won’t have a job in New York anymore.

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Cashman’s Personal Life Is Not Our Business

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Has Brian Cashman ever sat in an interview and uttered such advertising-centric inanities as “my family is my rock” or other some such nonsense that Tiger Woods used to say about his wife and children while he was conducting multiple affairs on the side?

Does Cashman claim to be living under the vows of Catholicism or whatever religion he happens to be adherent to and extol his virtuous behaviors with sex only used within the bounds of Holy matrimony and, even then, for procreation and nothing else?

Is he, in part seeking public validation of being a “good” person, by saying he was a virgin as Barry Sanders did years ago and failed at it as he had a child out of wedlock; as Tim Tebow is doing now and, as far as we know, sticking to it?

Are Cashman and his girlfriend on the cover of US Magazine like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie talking about whatever Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie talk about on the cover of US Magazine?

What’s that you say?

You don’t care about Brian Cashman’s personal life because he’s neither a star athlete nor a Hollywood luminary?

That’s exactly the point.

Who cares about Cashman’s affairs?

Believe me when I tell you that one of the last things I want to be thinking about is Brian Cashman doing whatever it is he does when he’s not general managing the Yankees.

Apparently Deadspin does think and care about these things—link—as they’ve gone to the level of visiting his former mistress, examined a pair of pajama pants as if they’re on a level with Monica Lewinsky’s stained dress…

***I’ll pause while you go get yourself a cold drink and try to keep from throwing up.***

…and played a phone call from Cashman to the woman in question (“Lou”) in which his tone is eerily similar to what I imagine he sounds like when he’s calling a rival GM and attempting to trade for Sergio Mitre.

This is a man who basically grew up under the influence of, functioned and survived in the amoral and haphazardly run dictatorship known as the George Steinbrenner Yankees.

The most impressive thing Cashman has done in his 26 years with the organization was to keep his job.

It’s not as if his image is being sullied or he’s being cut down and exposed as a hypocrite—he never espoused to any “I’m better than you because of <X>” rhetoric. He’s not particularly likable; doesn’t have much of a personality; and, if anything, this humanizes him and makes him look more like a normal person than some dead-eyed corporate menace who, if he weren’t in baseball, would be a middle-to-upper-middle managing lawyer or accountant who you wouldn’t notice until you came face-to-face with him while riding a packed subway at rush hour.

The only things people are interested in with Cashman are the types of moves he makes on the field with the Yankees.

Was he carrying on these affairs while wooing CC Sabathia to re-sign with the Yankees without venturing into free agency after his opt-out? Did his girlfriend(s) accompany him as he went to talk to the representatives for Hiroki Kuroda? Was he in one of their apartments while negotiating with the Mariners for Michael Pineda?

If yes, so what?

This doesn’t affect his work as the peccadillos of Steve Phillips did while he was the Mets GM because the Mets—due to Phillips’s inability to control himself (it was a recurring life-trend)—were under threat of a lawsuit for sexual harassment. That was the business of the media because it was part of the way the Mets were being run.

But this?

Deadspin is trying to become the TMZ/National Enquirer of the sports world. While the audio tape, pictures and story will yield a few extra webhits (probably a lot of extra webhits), it’s like rubbernecking during a fender bender. It’s a minor distraction that’s not influencing nor hurting anyone.

So who really cares?

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Lozano Feeds The Hungry Vanity

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Deadspin published this article about Dan Lozano, agent for Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher, among others.

It’s not a flattering piece with allegations of prostitutes, parties, lies, a pliable personality and abuse.

There are now suggestions that Pujols immediately fire Lozano and hire a new agent to negotiate his next contract.

Pujols has stated his support for Lozano, but as this blows up and goes viral, there will be other people popping up and making negative claims about the agent.

Don’t be stunned to see Pujols make a change and hire a new agent soon. Scott Boras probably has an underling preparing a “Pujols Book of Accomplishments” as we speak—just in case.

The story is completely believable and should not be surprising.

Are you under the impression that athletes are represented by fine, upstanding citizens who are only out for the good of their clients?

There are people like that, but not many; athletes—especially those in their 20s—have neither interest nor concern about the reputations of those with whom they consort. They want money; they want to party; they want to be told how great they are; and they want instant gratification. The last thing they’re looking for, just out of their teens and independent for the first time, is to have another “dad” or “coach” telling them what they shouldn’t be doing.

A-Rod’s association with Lozano is questioned in the Deadspin article because A-Rod, with a playing contract ostensibly sealed through the end of his career and a separate representation for his entertainment division, doesn’t need an agent for anything baseball-related. But A-Rod clearly fancies himself as a player. Not a baseball player as an end unto itself, but a cross-cultural businessman with real estate and other holdings to branch out. Part of that is this clear business partnership he’s entered into with Lozano. A-Rod’s amoral behaviors are well-known and unhidden; his split with Boras was something of an estrangement between a parent and child and it’s no surprise he took up with Lozano given these revelations.

Lozano’s a sports agent and he’s servicing the client’s needs and desires by feeding their hungry vanity.

There’s little difference between most player agents and professional wrestling managers apart from one being fictional and over-the-top and the other staged. (You can decide which is which.)

Garnering clients by any means necessary, Lozano’s enabling them, telling them what they want to hear.

He’s a hustler and if he’s willing to go that extra mile to get the clients with no boundaries for state-sanctioned propriety or faux morals, the line of thinking—for a player—is, “he gets things done”.

Even if he loses Pujols, this is probably going to increase his business substantially and he’ll survive.

I’m not defending it nor judging it.

It’s simply how it is.

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