Only On YES is A-Rod a No

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It’s eerily appropriate that the acronym YES for the YES Network stands for “Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network” when their content is similar to that which you’ll find on Vince McMahon’s WWE (acronym for World Wrestling Entertainment).

McMahon changed the name to WWE from WWF because the World Wildlife Federation had trademarked the acronym WWF. In a successful 1989 effort to deregulate professional wrestling by admitting that it’s not a sporting event, McMahon publicly disclosed what anyone with a brain already knew: professional wrestling is staged. Maybe the Yankees should follow suit by admitting that YES has nothing to do with being a journalistic enterprise. With the Steinbrenners intent on saving money to the tune of downgrading their product from signing the likes of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia to signing Russ Canzler and considering Travis Hafner (a welcome addition to any team’s disabled list), perhaps they can find a way to avoid paying the government freight that a news/sports organization has to pay for being a news/sports organization.

Perform a websearch with the words, “YES Network A-Rod PEDs,” and a perfunctory link comes up with the YES banner and an Associated Press news story. But if you go onto YESNetwork.com and look on the front page or do a search on their website for anything regarding A-Rod, there’s nothing.

How is it possible?

The YES Network is not providing one ounce of information that has not been vetted and is viewed as beneficial to the Yankees brand. As it has degenerated into a tacit example of spin-doctoring, they’ve lowered themselves to the degree that nothing they say can be taken at face value. All of their information must be verified elsewhere by an independent source.

It’s long been known that YES is the propaganda arm of the Yankees, but they’ve become so brazen in bypassing legitimate news and joyously wallowing in a lack of journalistic integrity that it’s basically an infomercial of positivity for the club and no one working there can be considered a journalist in any form.

This will undoubtedly come as another blow to the ego of Jack Curry, he of the Twitter tantrums, name calling and accusations of professional malfeasance when he “reports” a story simultaneously to others reporting it; a story that was approved by his bosses (the Yankees) and given to him directly through no effort on his part other than answering his phone. The YES Network is a sham of a sports news network and no amount of self-congratulatory shows celebrating 10 years of existence; Yankee-laced historical recollections of greatness; or pronouncements promising to dispense the latest Yankee news will supersede the unconscionable, egregious choice not to discuss the latest controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez as if ignoring it can make it go away.

So immersed in their image as a worldwide brand that is aboveboard and “better” than those they perceive as beneath them, they refuse to allow reality to get in the way of maintaining the crumbling veneer even if it’s a story that is everywhere and being discussed by everyone.

Did the born on the Fourth of July patriot George Steinbrenner—he of the edicts that every player stand on the top step of the dugout during The Star Spangled Banner and that God Bless America be played in lieu of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch—really want to create a network that is closer to what would be seen in North Korea and the former Soviet Union than it is to one of the foundations of our democracy, freedom of the press?

From the time Joe Torre was being peppered with questions from Kim Jones that were coming from upper management; to the failure acknowledge injuries to Jose Campos and other minor league “phenoms”; to the Brian Cashman blackmail scandal; to the latest decision not to intelligently discuss A-Rod’s latest leap from the back of the newspaper to the front of the newspaper, the depths to which YES plunges are a bottomless pit of subterfuge.

As the Yankees stars age and their on-field product declines, the lack of respect for the media has extended from Jason Zillo refusing to grant access to a credentialed reporter because Zillo is the “gatekeeper” and the organization doesn’t like the story that is being written. It’s tumbling further into an abyss of embarrassing and insular silence that benefits no one, especially not the Yankees.

There’s not a blurring of the line between what the club wants out there and what is actually going on. What they don’t want out there is treated as if it doesn’t exist. They’re miraculously surpassing their longstanding hubris by presenting content that makes each and every fan watching look like an idiot. Do they think that if the A-Rod story is not reported on YES, a vast number of fans won’t know about it?

It’s not going to go away. Nor is A-Rod. So they might as well put forth the pretense of doing something other than selling the Yankees brand by informing rather than covering up. Everyone knows about it whether YES has it on their website or not. Trust me. All they’re succeeding in doing is making their network look more absurd than it did before, and that’s no small accomplishment.

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Kay’s and ESPN’s Radio Ratings Conundrum

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Michael Kay’s shtick is deigned for a Yankees’ loving audience. It works on the YES Network because that’s what the YES Network wants, but it isn’t going to work on a radio show.

Therefore it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kay’s poor ratings are now attracting notice since ESPN added an FM signal by taking over 98.7 in New York.

You can read the reports of Kay’s low ratings here on BobsBlitz.com.

Prior to the ESPN NY shift to FM, there were viable excuses for Kay not to have the ratings of Mike Francesa on WFAN. The station was hard to find if you weren’t looking for it; the signal for 1050 AM was weak.

Now that he’s on FM and ESPN is trying desperately to establish a foothold in the New York radio market, it comes down to the bottom line and the bottom line for Kay is he has to get ratings for the station. If he doesn’t do that, he’s going to be replaced. What makes the situation all the more untenable for Kay is the vulnerability of Francesa as a solo act. ESPN has to be asking itself where they’d be if they had a host who could attract those disenfranchised Francesa listeners who don’t want to hear him talk about horseracing or golf.

Kay worships the Yankees and says utterly idiotic things in fulfilling the mandate of the YES Network of selling the club above all notions of objectivity. That extended to his ESPN show and unless you’re a masochistic Mets’ fan or a sycophantic Yankees’ fan seeking validation, it’s not something to willingly listen to.

If Kay claims his persona on the YES broadcasts is an act taken to its logical extreme, that isn’t going to assuage the irritation of the fans who don’t want to hear his voice interjecting itself into their enjoyment with a pre-prepared, poorly written and narcissistic narration of such moments as Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit or Mariano Rivera’s record-breaking save; of omnipotent declarations that the 2010 ALCS was “over” after the Rangers blew game 1; of his statements that he “protected” Joe Torre while he was managing the team as if that was part of his job.

You can’t go from being a Yankees’ shill to an objective analyst.

Yankees’ fans don’t want to hear him, so what chance does he have attracting an audience for a radio show when fans have a choice they don’t have during the games on YES?

His ratings are weak because of him, not because of the signal and not because of other issues. I don’t see any possible way for him to stem the tide that will end in him being replaced with someone more marketable to a wider-ranging New York audience.

The ratings in the time slot wouldn’t be worse if ESPN NY had a syndicated national show that was just as likely to talk about the BCS and Alabama’s, Michigan’s or LSU’s chances at a National Championship than they are now with Kay talking about the Yankees.

That’s a clearer signal than you’d get on AM, FM or if you were being screamed at in your own home.

It says in the above-linked piece that he has the football season to get it right, but I don’t think he has that long. When the baseball season is over, so might be his show.

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Mike Francesa’s Rant Against Twitter (With Video)

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Mike Francesa went on a semi-rant about Twitter a few days ago. The clip is below. In short, he’s against the concept.

Given the amount of ridicule Francesa receives on social media and that Twitter is specifically built for the quick witticism and has limited oversight, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t want to partake and, as he put it, wishes it never happened.

Francesa, like most old-school guys would prefer to go back to the late-1950s and a Pax Americana (basically peace on American terms in a Superman “truth, justice and the American way” concept). He openly pines for the long-lost hero of his youth, Mickey Mantle; reminisces about the days in which pitchers would throw at hitters’ heads; and wants reinstitution of the walls that separated people in sports from the common masses.

Part of it is absolute nostalgia and part of it is the marginalization of those who do what he does. Sports commentary was far easier on the commentator in the days of Dick Young, Jimmy Cannon and Tim Cohane when their views were in the newspaper and there were no 24-hour sports talk stations; no ESPN; no MLB package where every game could be watched; and the viewer wasn’t relying on the recaps of the writers and play-by-play of the broadcasters to know what was happening.

Obviously it makes his job harder when he says something totally ignorant like “I don’t know how much Andrew McCutchen is gonna hit” as if McCutchen is a sprinter placed in a uniform as Renaldo Nehemiah was by Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers. The more the listener knows, the harder a Francesa-type has to work to make sure he’s being factual or, at least, logical.

On some level, I empathize with Francesa. For him to have worked his way up to where he is now—and he did work hard to get where he is now, like him or not—it must be draining to have to interact with people who’ve never picked up a baseball and decided that reading a stat sheet and understanding basic concepts of sabermetrics made them a baseball “expert”.

But he also has to realize that he’s benefited from this new technology. Francesa is known worldwide because of the YES Network simulcast; because of the ability to listen to his show via the web; because of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and yes, Twitter.

Like anything else, it has its drawbacks but there’s nothing that can be done to stop it and complaining about it because of the negatives doesn’t make it worthless. You get out what you put in. Short-term attention grabs are exactly that: short-term. Working to gain and maintain an audience isn’t about splashy statements that may or may not be true or boring ruminations about one’s day, but about providing interesting content. The new mediums are making Francesa have to work harder. And that might be the underlying problem.

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The Geek Chorus and Disappearance of Jose Campos

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As the final out of David Robertson’s first save chance in replacing Mariano Rivera was recorded, YES play-by-play man Michael Kay delivered a familiarly preplanned and predictably terrible speech. He did the same thing when Derek Jeter recorded his 3000th hit.

Kay injected such words as “crucible” and referred to the save as “A.M.” for After Mariano.

For some reason, he thinks these postscripts are good.

They’re not.

As religious as Rivera is, the biblical undertones would probably be quite offensive and he’d bristle at his deification by others.

Robertson got the save, but it wasn’t easy and he’s not going to slide neatly into the role as is foolishly and ignorantly believed.

On another important note, Jose Campos has apparently disappeared.

Mike Francesa (amid his redundant entreaties for the Mets to give Terry Collins a contract extension, apparently unaware or uninterested that Collins’s 2013 contract option was exercised last September and another extension is unneeded) had WFAN Yankees’ beat reporter Sweeny Murti on the show and they were discussing the Yankees’ pitching problems. Along with the news of when Andy Pettitte is scheduled to start (Sunday) and other matters, they utilized a pretzel-twist defense of GM Brian Cashman and the presently nightmarish and possibly long-term disastrous trade of Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda (out for a year with labrum surgery) and Campos (on the minor league disabled list with elbow inflammation).

Basically the line was, “We’ll have to wait a few years to truly be able to judge the trade.”

Would it be a similar circumstance if Pineda was 5-0 for the Yankees and Campos was blowing hitters away as he did in his first few starts before he got hurt?

Campos was the lifeline, constantly mentioned as the most important and shockingly available piece to the trade…until the injury. Now the storyline is that with young pitchers, it’s a crapshoot.

You’d like a baseball team to be run like a business?

Okay. Let’s run it like a business.

Say you have a company and the person running the day-to-day operations of said company has made a multitude of mistakes in one imperative department—a department that is widely believed to be the key to success.

Then that person was romantically involved with an someone who was, at best, mentally unstable and he chose to use his office to write a reference for that person on company stationery, essentially giving company approval to a dangerous individual.

Then a deal is made that turns out to be bad practically and financially in the short-term and has the potential to degenerate to catastrophic proportions in the long-term.

What would be done to that person?

They’d be forced out.

Yet Brian Cashman is still defended with such silliness as this article in today’s NY Times about the pitching issues the Yankees have had and comparisons to the far more successful Tampa Bay Rays’ method of building pitchers, keeping them healthy and productive.

Here’s the relevant quote from the piece:

“I know they have a lot younger guys, but Pineda’s young and he just went down,” Cashman said. “I know the innings here are more stressful than the innings there, no doubt about that. Throwing 100 pitches in New York versus 100 pitches in Tampa are two different stresses. The stress level’s radically different on each pitch.”

Cashman neglects to add why the Yankees’ young pitchers have been so stressed. The Rays don’t go start-to-start for a rotation spot with one bad game cause for a demotion—and they have the depth to do it if they chose to.

The Rays don’t cause a media frenzy when a pitcher isn’t throwing 99-mph fastballs as expected on March 5th as the Yankees did with Pineda.

The Rays don’t have a cookie-cutter program for their pitchers that they cling to in the face of repeated mistakes. They see what works and when it doesn’t, they try something else.

And the Rays treat their pitchers with an personal concern for the mental aspect of the game that the Yankees clearly don’t.

Currently the only thing preventing that trade from being called the aforementioned catastrophe is that Campos’s diagnosis (so far) is elbow inflammation and Noesi and Montero are still finding their way in the big leagues. If Campos is seriously hurt and Noesi and Montero get past the nascent phase of their careers and start to come of age, then what? Are we going to get another series of caveats that “you never know with pitchers”? Or are we going to hear that Montero and Noesi didn’t have the “makeup” for New York?

No one wants to hear about the “process” anymore. The Yankees are not “process” driven. For an organization that views any season that doesn’t end in a championship as an overt failure, there’s no room for “well, we’ll see” with pitchers like Pineda who was going to be a key component for this year’s championship run. No one wants to hear about a 19-year-old kid, Campos, when the Yankees have faltered in developing every hotshot young starter that’s been touted as the next big superstar over the past fifteen years.

It’s enough with the parsing.

The arrogance is stifling and tiresome. There’s a perception that even when the Yankees lose, they still win. Cliff Lee beat the Yankees with the Rangers in 2010? Okay, we’ll just sign him and he’ll be with us. But he didn’t want to sign with the Yankees. Maybe it wasn’t because he didn’t appreciate the privilege of being part of the rich tapestry of history inherent with the world’s most recognizable franchise; it might be because he didn’t appreciate his wife being spit on and cursed at during the ALCS; or maybe he just preferred the Phillies and the National League.

He doesn’t have to give a reason.

But it still comes back to controlling the story; to twisting reality to fit a narrative as Kay does with his insipid soliloquies.

And it goes back to searching the YES Network website for news about the injury to Campos and coming up with absolutely nothing as if the pitcher doesn’t exist.

Go on. Search it. Click here and see what comes up when conducting a websearch on the site of the YANKEES owned broadcasting arm by typing “Jose Campos”.

Nothing.

In their world, he’s whitewashed. That’s at least until they can use him to validate their continued delusions. Then we won’t stop hearing about him. Until then, he’s a ghost.

Such is life under an out-of-touch dictatorship whose glossy façade is coming apart piece-by-piece.

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The Michael Kay Martini

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For the Michael Kay Martini, you will need:

2 1/2 oz Gin.

1/4 oz Dry Vermouth.

1 green olive.

1 sterile cotton swatch.

A crying Michael Kay.

3 ice cubes.

Place the ice cubes in a mixing cup, then pour in and combine the Gin and Vermouth.

Stir well. (Michael Kay ain’t no James Bond and his drink should reflect that.)

Strain and pour into a Martini glass.

Drop the olive into the drink.

Just before serving, wipe the streaming tears from the stricken face of Michael Kay and coat the rim of the glass.

Serve and enjoy.

Despite the fervent belief in this flawed team among apologists/”experts” in the media, the Yankees lost.

It’s funny how not one person on YES or in the New York based radio and television business thought the Yankees would lose.

Or maybe not so funny. Maybe it’s telling.

I’m not paying attention to the booing, the alibis or the subjective savagery engendered by those who failed in this series—namely Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher—nor do I want to hear that the Tigers were “lucky”; that Yankees manager Joe Girardi is to blame; or similar nonsense from last season that, although Cliff Lee beat them, it’ll all be okay because the Yankees were going to sign Lee and eliminate their nemesis from the competition.

The Yankees veterans didn’t come through; benching A-Rod in favor of Eduardo Nunez isn’t going to happen on this planet, ever; Girardi did a brilliant job this year; and I doubt Justin Verlander is on the market.

Apparently Kay, that noted baseball genius in his own mind and nowhere else, went ballistic over Tigers manager Jim Leyland‘s decision not to use Verlander in game 5; it wasn’t simply that he wasn’t going to use Verlander, but he took him out of the equation entirely by having the pitcher throw his scheduled bullpen session early in the day so there would be no option, no temptation to use him if he thought he might need him.

Personally, I would not have planned to use Verlander; but nor would I have had him throw his bullpen session just in case I needed to use him.

Leyland, a baseball man for nearly 50 years who’s done about everything one can do in baseball and has experienced all the highs and lows going back to devastating NLCS losses with the Pirates to a World Series win with the Marlins, took that path of protecting his 28-year-old star pitcher rather than concerning himself with one game. If he’d lost and an instance in which he could’ve and should’ve used Verlander arose, he’d have been criticized.

But Verlander has never relieved before; he’s thrown almost 260 innings this year and if the Tigers make it all the way to the World Series, that number will come close to 300; and he had a hard start two days earlier with 120 pitches and massive pressure.

More importantly, it was a team effort on the part of the Tigers that took out the Yankees, not the best pitcher in the world alone.

What would it have said to the other Tigers players—on a team that won 95 games in the regular season—to remove them from their customary jobs in favor of Verlander?

Joaquin Benoit was signed to a 3-year, $16.5 million contract to be a set-up man.

Jose Valverde was perfect in his save opportunities in 2011.

Leyland used every player on his roster all season long; this is not a one man show.

Even had he lost, he made the right decision in using his set-up man and closer for the late innings. Had he not done so, all of his credibility and the confidence of his players would’ve been demolished in one panicky choice to use Verlander.

And there’s no guarantee that it would’ve worked.

Had the Tigers used Verlander and won, there would’ve been the lingering question from Valverde and Benoit: “What? I’m good enough to pitch for you all season, but not in the biggest game of the year?”

Much of managerial success in baseball has more to do with being a psychologist and preschool teacher than a strategist.

Leyland has experience that those in the media couldn’t have; and he has the courage to do what’s right rather that what’s explainable to the masses. Masses that include those who know nothing about baseball; nothing about people; and nothing about anything.

The Tigers are moving on.

The Yankees are going home.

Drink up.

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If It’s Believed, It’s Real—Thoughts On Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez And Others

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Weakness, real or perceived?

Roy Halladay had to leave his start yesterday against the Cubs because of the inhuman heat in Chicago.

The heat wave had raised temperatures on the field to 108 degrees; Halladay felt dizzy and was pulled after allowing 3 runs on 7 hits. He took the loss.

While this is a fully understandable circumstance, Halladay has always put forth the image of impervious to the elements; to pain; to mental fatigue.

Will this give the hitters a minute amount of confidence that they didn’t have before? That Halladay is human?

Don’t discount perception being a factor in performance. If Halladay’s reputation as an indestructible force was reduced a tiny bit, it could affect the opposition’s approach and results.

And you can’t find that on a stat sheet—“advanced” or not.

Analysis(?)

In reference to the Rockies listening to offers for Ubaldo Jimenez, Jack Curry of the YES Network said the following on Twitter:

By even publicly seeking offers on Jimenez, the Rockies have devalued him. Why would Rox want to trade 27 yr old with manageable contract?

This is ignorant foolishness the type you get from a reporter who either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or says something without thinking it through.

We see that quite often on Twitter and other social sites.

If you look at some of the “experts” and columnists employed by the likes of YES, ESPN, CBS and WFAN, you see a profound lack of writing skill coupled with an inexplicable absence of analytical knowledge of sports and people.

But that’s the problem of the networks. They hired them, they have to deal with them.

I’d love to hear Curry’s explanation for this blanket statement.

The Rockies didn’t start calling around and saying, “Ubaldo Jimenez—make an offer.” Teams are calling GM Dan O’Dowd and he’s listening. Considering the request for the entire Yankees farm system to get the pitcher, they’re not specifically motivated to trade him. Apart for Curry’s skewed logic, how has Jimenez been devalued? They’re not desperately trying to trade him and the asking price is exorbitant.

So what’s Curry’s point? That if the Rockies play hard-to-get they’ll somehow be justified in taking phone calls and considering all their options?

It’s a groundless statement with no legs to support it.

This is on a level with Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times providing his resume to bolster his self-involved brilliance or Buzz Bissinger going on an expletive-laden rant against bloggers.

Based on what?

Just like the mainstream writers/broadcasters/editors, there are plenty of bloggers whose writing is atrocious and their assertions asinine. There are others who put work into what they do and provide value.

It goes both ways.

You can put me in either category. I couldn’t care less.

Simply being employed by a popular entity doesn’t automatically accord credibility. And we’re learning this fact with each word we read; each tweet we see; each uttered bit of nonsense.

And it’s not going to stop.

Madness.

Roy Halladay is human.

ESPN used the words “dominant start” and “Rodrigo Lopez” in the same sentence.

The Pirates are in first place in July.

Mike Francesa chose to come to work yesterday with a peach tan while wearing an orange shirt so he looked like the ING bouncing ball—knowing he’d be on TV.

The world is definitely ending.

Or it’s beginning.

One of those.

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