Quick hit: IIATMS, The NY Post, and ARod

arod Holy crap, did Alex Rodriguez have a week yesterday or what?!? Three home runs? Seriously?

I've never been his biggest fan; I'll leave that to Stacey. But this season has really changed the way I look at him. All I have seen is a guy who wants to play baseball with his friends once again. Nothing more. No drama. Just completely appreciative about (yet another) chance to play and he's not letting this one get by him. He's always been a great teammate, we've been told, doing things like buying suits for the rookies who don't have the money to do so. Teaching and offering advice. But it was routinely overshadowed by Derek Jeter and other self-inflicted feet in the mouth. So what we've seen appears to be genuine love of the game. I don't think this one's a lie and I'm enjoying it far more than I ever would have considered.

Yesterday, the NY Post reached out to Stacey and I, as well as others, to get our thoughts on Alex.

Said Stacey:

Fans grew warmer this season as his hits piled up, says Stacey Gotsulias of co-Editor-in-Chief at ItsAboutTheMoney.net, a Yankees blog. “Obviously, if he was batting .225 . . . and striking out . . . people wouldn’t be embracing him,” she says.

On Opening Day, “It was mixed when he first stepped up to the plate and before the game started, but as soon as he got on base, the cheers went up,” she says. “Most of the people I’ve encountered, if they claimed to have hated him before the season, they say, ‘I can appreciate what he’s doing, and it’s fun to watch.’ I love that he’s proving so many people wrong.”

And they gave me the parting shot:

“There will always be those who hate, but many, self included, are happily impressed and converted,” says Jason Rosenberg, founder of ItsAboutTheMoney.net. “We can only wonder where this was in prior years.”

Lastly, as a preview of ESPN's PowerRankings comment which will appear tomorrow, furthering the ARod theme:

Alex Rodriguez is not slowing down, despite turning 40 years old on July 27. He hit four home runs this week, including three on Saturday against the Twins. And these were no "gimme" shots, averaging nearly 108MPH off the bat and travelled over 440 feet on average. Two this week represent the longest home runs hit in both Target Field (450') and Yankee Stadium (453') this year. (click image below to expand)


 So cool.

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Bad outcomes do not always result from bad decisions

tanakaThis may seem like a basic statement, but sometimes the right decision made with every piece of data and insight available at the time can result in a bad outcome. The converse is also true. Some call this luck, either good luck or bad luck. When Ned Yost calls for another bunt that works out in his team's favor, it doesn't automatically mean it was the right decision. It just happened to work out. Happens all the time all over sport and clearly beyond it, as well.

On Monday, our favorite Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL for at least a month. Could be longer, but we hope not. It's a blow to the team, no question.

Let's remember back to last year, when Tanaka initially got hurt. MRIs, doctors, lots of doctors. The best elbow/arm specialists on the planet. And their unanimous conclusion was rest, treatment, and rehab. These are medical wizards, not a bunch of mopes gathered outside around a food truck (no slight on food trucks; I love them). The suggested method of treatment, given everything known at the time, was conclusively not to operate on the elbow. Surgery, especially for something as invasive and career-risking as TJS, should be the option of last resort, not first. Yet every person with a byline, a microphone, or video camera insisted that Tanaka go ahead with the surgery despite what the best medical advice had to say. As they say in the legal community: "He who represents himself has a fool for a client.". But that didn't stop the writers.

Fast forward to today. This setback (that's my 'optimistic-speak' talking) has spawned a fresh round of arm-chair doctoring and second guessing at a level I can't quite ever remember witnessing. Here are a few of the "best" keyboard doctors money can buy; I hope they're available on your HMO plan:

Dr. John Harper, upon counsel from Drs. Martinez and Schilling:

But is that realistic? If Tanaka has developed a forearm strain, mild as it may be, after four starts this season, it’s logical to think that the ligament tear in his elbow is a factor in some way.


This is why so many teams and pitchers opt for getting Tommy John surgery rather than trying to pitch once they have been diagnosed with a ligament tear. This is why the likes of [Pedro] Martinez and Curt Schilling said they thought Tanaka should have had the surgery.

Dr. Pedro Martinez:

Sorry for #Tanaka but I saw it coming. Too bad he had this setback. I wish him the best and a quick recovery

Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez)

Dr. Kevin Kernan:

Tommy John surgery has yet to be scheduled for Tanaka, but that is just a matter of time, too. It always is just a matter of time when it comes to these types of elbow injuries.


Tanaka clearly was in a state of denial Tuesday night outside the Yankees’ clubhouse when he was talking about the latest arm issue that will put him on the disabled list for at least 15 days.



It’s time to change game plans. This is not working. He needs to have Tommy John surgery to have any chance of getting back to being the kind of pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they shelled out $175 million.

I could go on and on, sourcing silly stuff like this. It just doesn't end.

And the hard part for me to swallow is that they might be right. Tanaka MIGHT need TJS at some point. Could be in a month, six months, a year, or three years. Even Cashman, when asked, indicated that this new injury "could" result in elbow surgery. The "I told you so" brigade will not stop.

But ultimately, what's holding me firmly in Tanaka's and the Yankees' camp is the fact that they have ALL of the facts on their side. Not these writers and the commentariat. They have read the MRIs. They've spoken to Tanaka. They have made the correct decision with the best information available at the time. If it fails, it doesn't fail due to logic. If fails because sometimes that happens, regardless of the process leading to the outcome. Trust the process.

These doctors (and the team) also are well aware that TJS is not a cure-all. It doesn't make you bionic. It doesn't always return the player to their pre-injury stature. While TJS has unfortunately become commonplace, it, like most invasive procedures, carries some degree of risk and no assurance that your body will return exactly like it was. But the writers and commentariat conveniently disregard that most basic and underlying fact.

Thankfully, Buster Olney keyed on it pretty firmly: (emphasis mine):

As Stephania Bell reported and David Cone reiterated on the Yankees’ broadcast: There is no sure thing about Tommy John surgery. The success rate is not 100 percent, nor close to 100 percent. And Tanaka had been throwing well, with two walks, 14 strikeouts and one run in 13 1/3 innings, before arriving at Yankee Stadium and reporting discomfort with his wrist. He has a 3.22 ERA so far this season, with his velocity down slightly; I’m not sure why there’s a push for an elbow reconstruction given that he’s shown he can pitch well without it.


A more appropriate intermediate step is for the Yankees to determine whether to give Tanaka at least five days between five starts, rather than four, given that his wrist discomfort popped up after he made a start last week on four days’ rest.


Tanaka has demonstrated that he can pitch well in spite of the partial tear in his elbow ligament. Why would he or the Yankees sacrifice that for the rest of 2015 and into 2016 given that there’s no guarantee of what he’ll be after he gets the procedure done?


If Tanaka comes back in late May or June and is terrible, if he’s not functional, then the context changes and surgery could be more appropriate.

The well-reasoned Will Carroll had the following to say:

Sources tell me that the strain is nearer the wrist, in one of the extensor muscles. It’s impossible to say that this injury is not related to the previous elbow injury — you remember, the ligament that healed up after rest, treatment and PRP — but there’s no evidence that it is related either. Maybe he changed his mechanics just enough to cause an issue or maybe the force that was hurting his elbow, now healed, has transferred up the kinetic chain. We won’t and can’t know.

I'm terrified that Tanaka will need TJS, as are most fans of the team and baseball as a whole. No one likes to see the best in their craft disappear. But until that decision is made, I'm going to side with the doctors and specialists here. At some point, the writers will be able to humblebrag with crocodile tears that they knew it was coming and the team should have listened to them so very long ago.

That will make me even sicker.

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Read ALL Future "Player X Disappoints Me" Columns, Right Here!

When real news is sparse -- say, the week of opening day, when there's no further news about roster construction, yet no valid signs yet of who's performing above or below expectations -- beat writers often fall back on a favorite genre piece: "Player X Disappoints Me and Hey Look How Much He's Getting Paid Whaaa?!" I figure I'll save us some reading time, and save beat writers their modest effort of writing "new" columns, by pre-writing all future pieces in this genre, just by pasting together text from all past pieces in this genre. Following is a 500-word article I "wrote" just by cobbling together quotes from ten different articles about various Yankee free agent signings who made a beat writer really sad. That is, each below paragraph is an exact quote from the hyperlinked article. Each quote expresses disbelief, anger, and other stages of grief about one of the last half-dozen major free agent Yankee signings, all of whom at some point struck a beat writer as either disappointing from the start (McCann, Beltran, Ellsbury) or disappointing at the end of a long-term deal after providing several years of strong performance (A-Rod, Sabathia, Teixeira). To maximize the utility of this exercise to under-newsed beat writers, I'll call the disappointing player "A-McSabTeixBeltBury." The next time a beat writer wants to publish the same 500-word piece saying the same fucking thing about another player, he can have his kid explain how the technological wonder known as "find and replace" lets him insert the name of whatever player he want to crap on next for not being Mike Trout. You're welcome, professional journalists! A-McSabTeixBeltBury has been one of the biggest free-agent busts in the majors.

He has fallen – physically and statistically – but to where? The offensive identity of A-McSabTeixBeltBury lingers as a key question to this season.

Injuries happen, but when they happen repeatedly to a ... [player] who will be paid $23 million … it’s hard to stomach.

In a game overflowing with big dollars, that is an enormous amount.

When he signed the deal, there was … a feeling the Yankees would have to derive more of the value from the beginning of the contract than the middle or end.

But in his first season as a Yankee, the numbers were … career lows. This was not the player the Yankees signed …. This was the ghost of A-McSabTeixBeltBury.

Since then, he has been a different, and rapidly declining, player.

With two straight poor seasons on his record, he has to prove both his health and his effectiveness.

It is easy to see why the Yankees can look at that trend and rightfully say they will be happy with whatever they can get out of A-McSabTeixBeltBury this season.

But he can’t be a zero for a variety of reasons, notably that the Yanks do not have an obvious replacement for him.

The organization still wants A-McSabTeixBeltBury up in key spots and the ball hit to him in critical moments.

“It would be a huge boost to our lineup,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He can do a bunch of different things offensively. Do some different things in the lineup with him …. We really missed him. We missed his production last year. It’s important to get it back.”

“I’m a gamer,” A-McSabTeixBeltBury declared Thursday …. Nevertheless, it’s important to note he already was off to a shaky start … when he got hurt. At his advanced baseball age, he might not be capable of another self-rescue mission.

The soon-to-be 38-year-old has underwhelmed this spring, as he tries to rebound from his disastrous … year.

“Two to three weeks from now, I’ll have a better feel,” said A-McSabTeixBeltBury, who added, “Everything feels a little off right now. Everything feels a little strange right now.” … “It’s just a matter of getting your timing,” Girardi said.

As good as A-McSabTeixBeltBury has been throughout his career, it’s hard to imagine him staying healthy long enough to justify the investment over the next two seasons.

Throw in the fact that he will turn 40 … , and you’ve got all the potential in the world for a great, big letdown. All windup and no pitch.

Once you strip away all the soap opera … , you are left with this reality: A-McSabTeixBeltBury hasn’t been a truly good ballplayer for ... years.

It has been quite a while since A-McSabTeixBeltBury looked like he was having fun…. What little the Yankees have accomplished the prior two seasons, they did with virtually no help from A-McSabTeixBeltBury.

The Yankees desperately need him to do more … , but take a look at A-McSabTeixBeltBury's career stats and you wonder how much more he has to give.

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Tales of media desperation: Overreacting after one game

panicbutton My goodness. From the way some New York sports media columnists are reacting today you would have thought that the Yankees had never previously lost a game on opening day. How quickly people forget the 2009 debacle when the newly minted, high-priced ace CC Sabathia laid a big 'ol egg against a pretty bad Baltimore Oriole squad in Camden Yards. Or even better that year's home opener when Sabathia, again, had a disastrous start at the grand unveiling of the new stadium. Now, before you even ask, "How can you compare this team to 2009's squad?" I am not doing that at all. I am just saying that the Yankees losing on opening day is not a new thing. Remember last year against the Astros?

Maybe it's because Alex Rodriguez was cheered during the player intros, didn't look lost at the plate and ultimately didn't give them anything negative to write about so all of the doom and gloom transferred onto poor Masahiro Tanaka, who while not having a great Opening Day, didn't exactly give up 11 runs in two innings. He had one bad inning.

Today I've seen articles from writers who are suddenly orthopedic surgeons and medical experts (Hello John Harper of the Daily News!) and now questioning the Yankees and Tanaka's decision to not opt for Tommy John surgery last season. And this is only after one game. How about waiting until the end of the month before declaring Tanaka's season/career done? (And even that's too soon.)

As for Tanaka not opting for Tommy John surgery, he visited three of the top doctors in the field last year and they all said he didn't have to have surgery. If you went to a doctor for a consultation and he or she told you that you didn't need to have surgery for your ailment, would you go ahead and have it anyway? Probably not.

Should Yankee fans be happy about Tanaka's start yesterday? No, of course not, but should we all be standing on the ledge, ready to leap off a 50-story building? Nope. Again, he had one bad inning.

What's a little disturbing to me is that it feels like the writers are almost hoping for Tanaka's elbow to blow up? It's as if they cannot wait for something bad to happen to the Yankees and I actually hate thinking that way but I can't help it.

With all of that being said, there is one thing we probably should be talking about with regards to yesterday's game: The Yankees' hapless offense. They managed three hits all game and one of those hits came from a nearly 40 year-old man with two surgically repaired hips who hadn't played baseball in well over a year. That's what we should be a little concerned about because it looked like the Yankees picked up right where they left off last September. And while there was one or two pieces written about that subject, the majority of the attention was focused on Tanaka, his elbow, his pitches, his velocity and/or second guessing his doctors.

Here's one last media related tidbit that some of you may have missed: After yesterday's game, the Yankees held their customary postgame press conference where Joe Girardi discussed the game and Tanaka answered questions about his start. Joel Sherman of the New York Post asked Tanaka a question that nearly caused me to fall off my chair. The radar gun readings weren't registering on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard in the first inning which, I guess, Mr. Sherman thought was a giant conspiracy because he actually asked Tanaka not only if he knew that it was happening but also asked if he (Tanaka) had something to do with it because his velocity was down during Spring Training and Sherman inferred that maybe he (Tanaka) didn't want the readings shown. Tanaka was a good sport and answered the question but he also laughed as his interpreter was explaining what Sherman said.

If this is a sign of things to come this season from the sports media in New York, we are in for a long, bumpy ride so buckle up.

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Quick hit: Step right up, folks!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to the "it's not-a-media-circus" media circus starring Alex Rodriguez!

Are we even sure that's actually Alex? And what's more, can we be sure he isn't being assaulted by an angry teammate?

Oh, okay, thanks Brendan!

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Report: A-Rod And Yankees Agree To Meet

Well well well.  I guess some of those earlier reports about the Yankees turning down A-Rod's request to meet and clear the air were nothing more than shoddy reporting/typical anti-A-Rod rumor mongering.  According to this report by Nick Cafardo earlier this morning, the Yankees and Alex have agreed to meet and talk before the start of the upcoming season.  Cash went further to say that those previous reports were untrue, and that this was the first time A-Rod asked to have a sit down with the team.

Between Cash shooting down that earlier report, him saying the Yanks are "more than happy to meet with him [A-Rod]" and Alex seemingly trying to do everything the right way, it appears as though all the A-Rod haters might not get the drama and shame they were looking for this season.  I shudder to think at what's going to become of the Daily News I-Team when that happens.  Without a bunch of made up negative A-Rod stories to write, how are those people going to fill their time?  Do they even remember how to do actual reporting and fact-based news writing?  Guess we'll find out.

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Choo-Choo!! The A-Rod Hate Train Is Back On The Rails

Baseball is inching closer and closer to being back, and that can mean only one thing.  It's time for the A-Rod Hate Train to come back into town!  It's been a while since that line ran through, but if you mind the gap on your way in and keep your tickets out, we'll be on our way. With the start of Spring Training a month and change away, the topic has naturally shifted from A-Rod's legal issues to his on-field activities.  Everybody knows he's been working out for a while in preparation for his return, but all the offseason moves have essentially limited him to semi-regular DH/backup third base duties.  According to the New York Post, he's fine with that:

“'Alex is looking at this season as a fresh start,' one friend said. 'He’s prepared to do the best he can in his role as a DH, but he is also preparing to play third base, knowing there will be times that Headley needs a break.

He knows that Joe Girardi is a manager who likes to have options and wants to keep all his players fresh, so he knows he will get some time at third, and he feels being used in that way is good for the team overall. Everyone can get a break.'"

Pretty reasonable, right?  But wait!  A separate report in Newsday says A-Rod isn't cool being DH:

"'Alex's mind is that job's not Headley's, it's Alex's to lose,' the source said. 'That's what he thinks. Alex is going into training camp thinking that he is the starting third baseman, that if there's a competition, Headley's got to win it from him. It doesn't matter about the money, what they signed Headley for. This guy [Rodriguez] can play.'"

So wait a minute.  One publication has "people close to Rodriguez" saying one thing and the other publication has "a person familiar with his thinking" saying the exact opposite.  Which one is it, guys?  No wait, don't answer that.  I already know.  It's neither.  Well, if I had to pick one that was true I'd pick the Post story because it does have direct quotes from A-Rod himself, but that's not the point here.

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On Hot Stove Rumoring For The Sake Of Rumoring, Or "Hey, Did You Hear About The Yankees And Max Scherzer?"

[caption id="attachment_70971" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Scherzer vs TOR BREAKING: Still not a Yankee. Not even close[/caption] Has everybody had a chance to check around the Yankosphere and baseball blog circuit yet today?  If you have, you were no doubt bombared with stories about the Yankees and Max Scherzer kinda, sorta, maybe, possibly being linked.  Via Jon Heyman:

"So far this offseason, there hasn't been much that's new and interesting tied to the Yankees-- baseball's most storied franchise and usually among its most active winter players.

And there has been very little, if anything, that's been linked to right-hander Max Scherzer -- baseball's top free-agent pitcher.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone that there's a chance that the Yankees and Scherzer may start becoming tied together, at least in terms of talk. It's a match that might make sense."

At face value, no.  That wouldn't be a surprise.  Big money players are always linked to the Yankees during hot stove season, and they have a very apparent and widely-known need for starting pitching.  It's not too hard to connect those dotes.  Here's the thing though.  There's nothing in those 3 paragraphs or anywhere else in that entire Heyman article that constitutes real evidence that the 2 sides are actually becoming tied together.  It's 100% pure speculation, hidden under the guise of being a real, fact-based hot stove rumor.  The closest thing to anything resembling support for the idea is the reference to the Yankees and Scott Boras speaking after the GM meetings, and even then there's nothing specifically referencing Scherzer.

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Hey Look! An A-Rod Story That Actually Matters!

Feinsand keeps playing chess while everybody else is playing "I hate A-Rod" checkers.  He filed a report late last night that was chock full of useful, timely, relevant information on Alex Rodriguez.  Stuff like updates on what he's been doing lately to prepare for next season: "A source close to Rodriguez told The News Wednesday that the former AL MVP has been working out 'like a fiend,' hitting several days a week at the University of Miami among other places."

What he's been doing for months to stay in shape and get ready for his return:

"Rodriguez has been hitting, taking grounders and going through an all-around conditioning program for months, the source said, doing everything within his power to be ready for spring training."

And a direct quote from one of his teammates on how he feels about A-Rod rejoining the team and the locker room next year:

“Guys in the clubhouse, we’re there for one reason; we’re trying to play baseball and trying to do the best we can as a team, make it into October and win a World Series,” Gardner said. “If he is a guy who is going to help us do that, we obviously welcome him. I know that things will be a little different with the fans, especially at the start, but hopefully as the season goes on it will be business as usual.”

Not only that, but Feinsand managed to report all that information without using words like "tarnished", "tainted", or "disgraced" when describing A-Rod or mentioning the ongoing PED stories and how they would affect his return.  It's almost as if Feinsand didn't go out of his way to pile on and further besmirch A-Rod's already tattered reputation.  He asked questions, got answers, reported the facts he had found, and that was it.  Like a real journalist.  How about that?

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Choo-Choo!! Time To Fire Up The A-Rod Hate Train Again

[caption id="attachment_70714" align="aligncenter" width="575"]Alex Rodriguez Arriving at  MLB Offices  in NYC Courtesy of Splash News[/caption] Alex Rodriguez's suspension has been lifted, he's back on the 40-man roster, and he's working out in preparation for his return to the field in 2015.  You know what that means, right?  Time for the New York media to get their collective A-Rod smear games back in action!  Yeah!!  Because a guy who's already been outed as a steroid user for the better part of the last 15 years, targeted and treated by MLB and the media as the biggest PED offender in the history of organized sports, and had his reputation and credibility completely destroyed in the process obviously needs to be the focus of more steroid-related stories, right?

For instance, did you guys know that A-Rod paid off his cousin who was his drug handler back in the day to keep him from going to media and telling his story of Alex's PED use?

"In court documents filed last week in Miami, federal prosecutors say Rodriguez paid $900,000 last year to settle a threatened lawsuit by Yuri Sucart, who had worked as Rodriguez’s personal assistant. Sucart, in a letter from his lawyer, threatened to expose Rodriquez’s PED use if he wasn’t paid $5 million."

Shocking!  Or how about today's Miami Herald report that A-Rod confessed his steroid use to federal prosecutors:

"But 18 days later, Rodriguez gave a sworn statement to the DEA and prosecutors that, between late 2010 and October 2012, he did use substances prohibited by Major League Baseball. It was completely at odds with his public statements."

Ground-breaking stuff right there.  Truly earth-shattering.

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