Pride Of The Yankees : Sheff’s All About The Money

Posted in Baseball at 8:29 pm by

Clearly, Gary held the hammer in this exchange. How can the fledgling YES Network become a success without his star power on promos, interviews and the like?

J.P. Ricciardi Digs In The Batter’s Box

Posted in Baseball at 8:17 pm by

To paraphrase my good friend Reggie, for the GM of a major league baseball club to have this much time to respond to nonsense internet chatter isn’t a good sign for the business.

Or maybe he’s just capable of engaging in give and take in a public forum.

Towers Suspected Caminiti ‘Roid Use, Didn’t Say Shit

Posted in Baseball at 8:05 pm by

ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney interviews San Diego GM Kevin Towers in the latest issue of the glossy ; the Padres exec comes clean about the extent of his knowledge of the late Ken Caminiti’s steriod use. Though this isn’t as flashy a headline as Bonds, Giambi or Sheffield’s grand jury testimony, it oughta be. We already know that Caminiti was juiced. But for the first time, a management figure pretty much confirms one of Jose Canseco’s main points — baseball knew were the power surge was coming from, and did nothing to stop it.

“I feel somewhat guilty, because I felt like I knew,” Towers says, watching the Padres take batting practice from the balcony outside his spring-training office in suburban Phoenix. “I still don’t know for sure, but Cammy came out and said that he used steroids, and I suspected. Selfishly, the guy was putting up numbers, and I didn’t do anything about it. That’s just the truth.”

Baseball needs a lot of honesty right now. It needs a lot of people to ask themselves questions and answer honestly, as Towers is.

“The truth is, we’re in a competitive business,” Towers says, “and these guys were putting up big numbers and helping your ballclub win games. You tended to turn your head on things. And it really wakes you up when someone you admire as a person is no longer around. You can’t help but think, could I have done something differently four or five years ago that might have changed what happened to him?

“I hate to be the one voice for the other 29 GMs, but I’d have to imagine that all of them, at one point or other, had reason to think that a player on their ballclub was probably using, based on body changes and things that happened over the winter.”

The Padres were a baseball laughingstock after their 1993 fire sale, and before the 1995 season, they traded for Caminiti in an 11-player deal. Tony Gwynn was the face of the team, but Caminiti gave them an identity, playing hard every day, diving in the dirt at third base and throwing out runners while sitting on his backside.

He played sick, he played hurt, he was the MVP in 1996, and the Padres won a division championship, revitalizing a dormant franchise. And he was on steroids.

“We went through a real difficult time in 1994, with the strike,” Towers says. “Then some amazing things happened. Home runs were up. Fans were flocking to ballparks, lining up to watch batting practice. But we all realized that there were things going on within the game that were affecting the integrity of the game. I think we all knew it, but we didn’t say anything about it.”

(Kevin letting the young Matt Bush know that San Diego will not tolerate any further lawbreaking)

Towers believes money was not Caminiti’s motivation for taking steroids. Rather, he thinks Caminiti only wanted to find a way to play every day, through a 90 percent tear of his throwing shoulder, through injuries that plagued him. Steroids helped him recover from day to day. But during the 1998 season, Caminiti’s last with the team, Towers saw the relentless and powerful third baseman crumble, sometimes falling down during his swing.

“He could hardly stay on his feet,” Towers says. “It just got to the point where his body couldn’t handle it anymore. He was broke physically, and broke mentally.

“I feel as GM I probably get to know these guys better than my own family. And as a young GM, what Cammy did not only for the organization, but for my career … If he’s not there, not only am I not wearing a ring, who knows if I’m still a general manager? Those were three of the best years we ever had.”

Towers was stunned by Caminiti’s regression. “I thought, wow, here’s a player I care about, like he’s part of my family. I knew he had a problem. But I never did anything about it, because selfishly, it helped the organization and helped me.”

Hawks Waive Glove, Payton Coveted by Boston, Miami and Phoenix

Posted in Basketball at 3:30 pm by

The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett on the choices facing Gary Payton.

Gary Payton should be placed on waivers today by Atlanta and, assuming he clears, the point guard is leaning toward a return to the Celtics.

     “We’ve reached an agreement with the Hawks, and things should be in place no later than early (today),” said Payton’s agent, Aaron Goodwin. “It’s just going to be a matter of getting the paperwork approved by the league.”

     The unlikelihood that Payton will be claimed off waivers is based on the fact a team would have to be more than $5.4 million under the salary cap or have an exception that size to take on the veteran.

     Payton then will be free to sign where he wishes, and Goodwin said yesterday he has had some interesting calls from teams which reportedly include Miami and Phoenix.

     “Quite honestly, Gary’s out with his family and his mom, and I haven’t talked to him much,” Goodwin said. “I think he’s leaning toward coming back to the Celtics. I think he likes what’s going on in Boston. I still have to talk to him about things, but I think that’s where he wants to end up. But you never know with Gary.”

     Meanwhile, the Celtics don’t appear to be counting on anything with Payton just yet. There still is interest in bringing back Kenny Anderson, who was waived by the Hawks to make room for their new players. Anderson said he will sign with either the Clippers or Celts.

Ozzie Vs. Maggs

Posted in Baseball at 3:25 pm by

From the Chicago Sun Times’ Doug Padilla.

No longer able to hold his tongue, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sounded off on Magglio Ordonez on Sunday morning after another round of comments critical of Sox management.

In a story in Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Ordonez praised his new owner with the Detroit Tigers, Mike Ilitch, and in the next breath said he doesn’t understand why his former owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, won’t pay the money to keep his best players.

Enough was enough for Guillen, who has grown tired of reading and hearing about Ordonez’s shots at the Sox.
“This is bull [bleep],” Guillen told the Sun-Times, pointing to a copy of Ordonez’s quotes. “This is girl [stuff]. Every time there are a couple of [reporters] over there with a piece of paper and a pencil in his hand, is he going to talk about the White Sox? Come on, just move on. Just play your game and forget about the White Sox.”

Guillen is most bothered by the fact that Ordonez is making himself out to be the victim when he was offered three separate contracts by the Sox last season, including at least one after he went down for the season with a knee injury.

He also was irked that Ordonez has implied the Sox aren’t interested in winning and that Ordonez says the Sox tried to exaggerate his injury to make him less attractive to other suitors.

“Don’t come around and make this thing look like crap when you’re not right, when you know you’re lying,” Guillen said. “Don’t lie. You can say whatever you want: I want to make some money, I hate Kenny Williams, I hate Jerry Reinsdorf, I hope they die — whatever you want to say. But don’t come out every day and say things to make sure you look good with the fans.

“[Don't] say that they [Williams and Reinsdorf] are horse [bleep] and I’m not. Because now the fans and the media, they will hear what I have to say, and they know I won’t bull-[bleep] them.”

“I’d rather see the player say, ‘Listen, I wanted out of there because I wanted more money,”’ Guillen said. “I respect that. When Alex Rodriguez said he wanted out of there because ‘I want to win,’ Seattle won 100 games with him [actually 91 in 2000] and they won 116 without him [in 2001]. If you want to win, that’s a winning team. You left because of the money, and Magglio left because of the money.

“You’re going to tell me all the cities he could go to, there is a better city than Chicago? He was a legend here with the White Sox. A lot of people wanted him to finish his career here with the White Sox, and count Ozzie Guillen in that group.”

Presto, Chango, Coronation Street Goes Glam

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 3:11 pm by

The soon to be fatherless Craig Harris.

(before and after)

Byron Crawford Carefully Monitors The Pope’s Progress

Posted in Religion at 6:42 am by

This particular deathwatch is so much easier to endure if instead of watching CNN 24-7, we just rely on someone’s else’s sage observations.

Lupica Interviews Guys Who Sleep On The Street

Posted in Baseball at 6:27 am by

(The Kid & Straw congratulate Air America’s Al Franken upon being first in line to purchase 2005 Mets ducats)

Mets tickets are on sale and the Daily News’ Mike Lupica talks to young men who think that’s a big deal.

Victor Vazquez, 21 years old, from the College of Staten Island, was maybe five spots from the front of the line. He was dressed in a blue North Face ski parka and matching ski pants and looked as if he was ready for cross-country skiing if the snow forecast for today came early. He was with his buddy, another Staten Island kid named Mike Candela, a junior. The car they came in, a red Pontiac Sunfire, was right there, a choice spot, primo they said, directly in front of the Mets’ store.

They had come on Saturday night. They thought the line would be shorter on 42nd Street than out at Shea Stadium. Vazquez would hold the spot when Candela would go for coffee, or food. They would take turns getting warm in the Sunfire.

“We always root for the Mets,” Victor Vazquez said, “even when we stink. But now we feel like the owners have shown us that they give a damn again.”

“You want to know when we started talking about making the trip into town, pulling the all-nighter?” Candela said. “When they got Pedro. Even before Beltran. Pedro showed us, right off the bat, things were gonna be different with Omar (Minaya) in charge.”

“Hey,” Vazquez said, “we stayed out all night the year they signed (Roberto) Alomar and (Roger) Cedeño, so it’s not like we think we got a sure thing here.”

And someone stayed out all night the years the Mets acquired Bret Saberhagen, Eddie Murray, Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla and George Foster before that. Maybe even the year the Mets signed Mike Cameron. I don’t wanna puke on the parade or anything, but this is still a team with no middle relief, problems in RF, LF and behind the plate. And the Queens version of depth = Gerald Williams and Andres Gallaraga at camp.

Sloane : Leiter Trashed Mets To Delgado

Posted in Baseball at 5:22 am by

Jon Heyman’s best friendster, David Sloane, continues to rub it in. The agent for Marlins 1B Carlos Delgado seems all to eager to burn all bridges, toll roads and highways to Mets GM Omar Minaya, writes Newday’s David Lennon.

The Mets convinced Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez, the two most coveted free agents, to take their money this winter. But it is the one that got away, Carlos Delgado, who won’t go away.

Delgado’s agent, David Sloane, apparently is not satisfied that his client snubbed the Mets to sign a similar four-year, $52-million contract with the Marlins. Why else would Sloane send out an e-mail of a Toronto Sun story that traces a timeline of Delgado’s path to Florida and portrays Al Leiter as a Mets detractor?

According to Sloane’s account in the story, Leiter was a key figure in Delgado’s meeting with Marlins officials Jan. 15 at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, when he reportedly conjured a nightmare scenario of playing in New York.

Leiter is quoted as saying, “Who better to discourage him from going to New York?” He then describes what happens when things go poorly in the media capital of the world. “It just chip, chip, chip, chips away at your resolve, cracking away your protective toughness,” he said. “Every bad game it’s like, ‘Are you worried? … The manager says this … Are you worried?’ You begin to doubt yourself. That’s why slumps in New York are so elongated.

“Then the guys on [talk radio] get on you, move it up another notch, and everyone driving to the game listens. You get to the park and your home fans are booing you and after the game you say something stupid.”

Mets officials were surprised that Leiter might have been the secret weapon for the Marlins in winning the Delgado sweepstakes, and Leiter denied that he specifically ripped his former team during the negotiations.

“I don’t know if I said exactly that, but it sounds like that actually happens to players from time to time,” Leiter said yesterday in an e-mail exchange. “I wasn’t ripping New York. I was telling him how sometimes it is more difficult to get out of slumps and it is when a player slumps that he is most vulnerable.”

Mets general manager Omar Minaya dismissed the notion that Delgado was scared away by Leiter. “When you create a winning environment, people want to come there,” Minaya said. “It also comes down to dollars and cents, and trust. I always ask the player if he feels like he could handle New York, and even if he says yes, I can tell by looking in his eyes if he really feels that way.”

Ed Whitson could not be reached for comment.

The Battle For The Mets’ 5th Outfield Spot

Posted in Baseball at 12:05 am by

The New York Times’ Charles Nobles on the big league aspirations of journeyman OF Kerry Robinson.

Thee speedy outfielder Kerry Robinson has never had a chance to start extensively since becoming a major leaguer in 1998. Robinson, a free-agent acquisition by the Mets, is looking at another long-shot situation this season. Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron are expected to be the starters when healthy.

Yet Robinson, 31, does not lack confidence. As a player who relies far more on swiftness than power, he likens himself to Juan Pierre, a center fielder for the Florida Marlins. In his five-year career, Pierre has hit .312 with 210 stolen bases and 424 runs scored, helping the Marlins win the 2003 World Series.

The speed and effectiveness of Pierre, hitting leadoff, and the Marlins’ No. 2 hitter, Luis Castillo, has led other teams, including the Mets, to seek speed at the top of the lineup. The Mets are doing that with José Reyes, Kazuo Matsui and Beltran.

“I think of myself as Juan Pierre if he never got a chance to start,” Robinson said Sunday, before rain cut the Mets’ practice short. “If I could play every day, I think over the course of a season I could really do some damage.”

Robinson has played in 445 major league games, yet has never started more than 31 in a season. He played in 80 games for San Diego last season, but had just 92 at-bats. He did hit .293, stealing 11 bases and scoring 20 runs.

Omar Minaya, the Mets’ general manager, persuaded Robinson to sign in December. Robinson liked hearing Minaya talk about the Mets’ building for a brighter future, but that was just before Beltran signed a $119 million contract, locking down the last starting outfield job.

Robinson shrugged when asked about that Sunday. He said he had some idea it might happen. He seems not to mind competing to be the Mets’ fifth and final outfielder. Eric Valent, who hit .267 with 13 home runs in 130 games last season, appears to have the inside track to be the fourth outfielder. Robinson, a left-handed batter, will compete for the fifth spot with Gerald Williams and Ron Calloway, other players with major league pedigrees.