Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-03-01 05:27
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Mike Mussina pitched against Phillip Hughes yesterday. Moose likes what he sees so far from the Yankees' right-handed prospect. According to the New York Times:

"He looked good," Mussina said, after showering and pulling on his bright red Captain America T-shirt. "The ball comes out of his hand real nice. The one day I played catch with him, the ball was coming out of his hand easy and smooth. I hope he stays healthy."

Joe Torre added:

"He's pretty impressive, there's no question, but a lot of things can happen on the way," Torre said. "He just seems pretty grounded for a kid his age and with the stuff he possesses. We'll see. He'll be around for a little bit. As long as we can continue to get him work, he'll be here."

John Harper sat down with Al Leiter who has become close with Alex Rodriguez. Here's Senator Al's take on the man people love to hate:

"In his own way he has learned to be guarded," Leiter said. "I think a lot of it has to do with being labeled when he was a junior in high school as someone so talented that he could someday be the greatest player in the history of the game.

"That's some pretty heavy stuff to carry around for years. And because he is who he is, people want to know what he does, how he looks, what brand of sweat pants he's wearing. He's learned to be careful, but at his core he's this jovial guy with an almost-childlike sense of fun who likes to be a little goofy and likes to have a good time, so he tries to be protective of saying the wrong thing, and as a result, it may seem like he's insincere but it's more not saying just the right thing."

Leiter goes on to say how much Rodriguez enjoys talking about the nuts and bolts of the game--which reminded me of the last game of the regular season in Boston last year, with the Yanks well behind in the game, there was Rodriguez on the bench in an animated discussion with Chien-Ming Wang for several innings. Leiter continues:

A-Rod "gets the mental thing, too," according to Leiter. Conquering postseason pressure is another matter.

"He recognizes what he means to the team in those situations," said Leiter, "and when you try to carry the load, when you think outside of that little box you want to be in, you can't perform at your best.

"Alex is too acutely aware of his surroundings sometimes. At those moments you need that laser-beam focus on the pitcher and what you're doing at the plate. You can't be thinking, 'God, I need a hit here.' For me, when I'm locked in, I don't hear the crowd or think about the situation. Every single pitch is very, very clear to me. It's elevating the process of visualization one step further."

If only Rodriguez had a sense of humor like Barry Bonds...

2006-03-01 06:32:59
1.   Rob Gee
I think what's crazy is that we are watching the greatest player to ever play the game (unless some horrible injury occurs). And yet for so many that's not good enough. Maybe we should call that the Jordan effect. The expectations are so damn high for someone at that level. Unfortunately, baseball is influenced so much more by the intangibles than by one player (though see the Mariano effect). The good news is all it will take is one big post-season from A-Rod plus Serious win, and I think we'll all agree that is only a matter of when.

But, Alex, are you saying you want to see A-Rod as a woman?

2006-03-01 06:45:37
2.   Alex Belth
Well, I never thought I wanted to see Bonds as a woman, but now that I have, sure why not Rodriguez? lol
2006-03-01 06:48:16
3.   Sliced Bread
I'm not sure who's uglier playing dress up:
Barry Bonds as Paula Abdul, or Murray Chass 'wigging out' a la Marge Schott.

Yes, the Chassticle has done it again:

This time, the Chassticle calls Steinbrenner an 'Ugly American,' Matsui an 'Ugly Japanese,' and Ramirez an 'Ugly Dominican' for dissing Bud Selig's Intergalactic Baseball Extravaganza.

No, Murray's insults aren't blatently racist, like some of the things old Marge allegedly spewed (she denied being racist after being accused of calling several Reds players "million dollar nigg@#*"), but his remarks are prejudiced and ignorant.

Chass writes for the NY Times, which is a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox, an organization which hates the NY Yankees, and is none too pleased with Mr. Ramirez at this moment for playing Mannyball, showing up to camp on his own schedule.

Murray's corporate cousins on Yawkey Way must be very pleased with his bitter little slam job on their behalf today - although it reads as if they might have written it for him.

Crazy old Murray has gone off the deep-end, forgetting his groundbreaking reporting on baseball labor issues.

In the past, Chass might have defended a player's right to sit out Selig's tournament.
Now, he villifies them, well, only the certain few who are not popular with the Red Sox.

Chass equates the World Baseball Classic to the Olympics, failing to recognize that the Olympics does not limit athletes with 'pitch counts,' nor does the Olympics attempt to mitigate fatigue by allowing competition to end in a tie (after 14 innings).
The WBC is an exhibition tournament, a baseball marketing junket, a baseball version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
But here's Chass defending the integrity of the tournament by pinning 'ugly' labels on a certain few (specifically two Yankees, and a currently out-of-favor Red Sox slugger) who won't happily play along.

2006-03-01 06:48:40
4.   Count Zero
Well, he couldn't possibly look as bad as Barry does...
2006-03-01 07:06:42
5.   wsporter
Rob, Now there's something else we agree on. I just don't get it on A-Rod. As cranky and cynical as I am I think I'd be pretty much nuts if I had to eat the crap that guy does. How he manages not to go "Albert Bell" on someone constantly amazes me. One hot October is all it's going to take. I hope.
2006-03-01 07:16:24
6.   Shaun P
Sliced, you're right, that's a horrible article. However, I've decided to not let these crappy MSM articles bother me anymore. The MSM is writing for the casual fan, and most casual fans who haven't thought much about the issue probably agree with Chass. Its a shame that MSM writers and outlets don't use their pulpits to challenge people to think, to explore issues and ideas in depth - but there it is.

I also noticed that while "Manny is being selfish", Melvin Mora - who refuses to play CF for Venezuela and so won't play - has a "perfectly good reason". Pretty inconsistent on Chass's part.

2006-03-01 07:16:36
7.   sam2175

Chass' article does not really look like targetting the Yankees unfairly, given the attitude that Steinbrenner had towards the WBC. It also mentions the fact that Red Sox took the concession from Manny Ramirez for showing up late in the camp. I dont see how that is an endorsement of Red Sox policies or blasting Manny because Red Sox does not approve of his ways. If anything, Manny and Red Sox appear to have acted in unison here.

I really dont see it as anything else other than a pro-WBC article.

2006-03-01 07:18:15
8.   Alex Belth
I didn't link to the Chass article this morning but I did see it. Didn't help with the breakfast digestion much.
2006-03-01 07:25:19
9.   standuptriple
Heard you getting some pub on XM yesterday. I didn't catch the segment (didn't want to be in my car any longer post-commute) but wondered how it went. Are we going to see a surge in Banter-ites?
2006-03-01 07:25:26
10.   Dimelo
wsporter - he has 250 million, any criticism he gets is because he's in the public eye? Is it warranted? Sometimes I think it is and Leiter hinted at the fact. He puts himself in that position. I agree, he's the greatest ball player I've seen in my lifetime - with Willie Wilson, Steve Balboni and Dave Magadan not far behind ...just kidding. I do want to see ARod have a Jordan'esque playoff so he can prove all the haters wrong. It would bring me great satisfaction, kinda like when Rudy got that sack at the end of the movie 'Rudy'.

ARod, you are computer savy and I'm sure Bronx Banter is one of your bookmarks....I wish you'd play two Public Enemy songs when you come up to bat througout the year:
1. Don't believe the hype
2. Rebel without a pause

I want ARod to be GANGSTA!!!!!

2006-03-01 07:38:00
11.   pistolpete
standuptriple, which show was the plug on? I love my XM...
2006-03-01 07:38:15
12.   wsporter
What Chass forgets about the Olympics is that for many of the athletes it's the only marketing vehicle through which most of them can find exposure. The Olympic event is is not about the alleged Olympic Ethic and Spirit that may have pervaded the competition in ancient Greece. It is now about marketing and finance coupled with sport. Please the only difference between Olympic Athletes and MLB players is that some MLB players are better paid.

Why shouldn't athletes worry about injury in this cockamamie car dealer's concoction, why shouldn't their employers? If that's not a valid concern then why the pitch counts in the first place?

Chass has become the type of hateful, bile spewing hack that he used to make look so bad. He's Lupica without the lifts.

2006-03-01 07:39:35
13.   Rob Gee
Here's why I would be a horrible baseball writer - I would harp on the same points over and over again (big surprise there, right?) until change occurs. Obviously, folks like Chass-man are employed because they make good non-stories to the causal fan Shaun mentions. Indeed why not use their pulpit to push for change rather than complain about what can't be changed?

Two issues that really have my goat these days:

1) Why is the drug testing plan urine and not blood based? The former has a much shorter shelf life and leaves open the possibility that players can still use undetectable enhancements. The latter can be saved until future tests are developed. With all the nonsense we're going through with Raffy and Mac as HOF'ers, why not have the most rigorous testing available, today and for the future? Astounding...

2) Why not have the WBC in November? Make it a Pro-bowl-like environment one week tourney that rotates locations every few years among Latin America, Southern US, and Japan/Korea. That way, it becomes a vacation for players in mostly new locales. With this November vacation model, players enjoy being treated as royalty in countries they've never been to, bring the family for an all-expense paid vacation, and you don't worry (as much) about players getting hurt. I don't see how this wouldn't work.

2006-03-01 07:41:29
14.   wsporter
D, 10 $250 million doesn't make the criticism any easier to take, it just means you can listen to it on a better radio.
2006-03-01 07:43:14
15.   Sliced Bread
Sam, 7 Other teams were against the WBC. Royals, Tigers, and White Sox voted against it. Yanks abstained from vote. Does Chass mention this?

Alex, I regret bringing the Chass thing up. It's nauseating.

Dimelo, 10 - right on. A-Rod has to go gangsta, take somebody hunting Cheney style.

2006-03-01 07:48:58
16.   standuptriple
It was on 175, Ronnie Lane's show (but Ronnie wasn't there and I can't remember the name of his sub). I've said it before and I'll say it again, the MLB package on XM makes that service. If they had nothing else on the content I'd still shell out the coin just for all the games.
2006-03-01 08:08:45
17.   pistolpete
It's definitely worth the money considering what charges...

The only show I can't stand now is the morning program with Mark Patrick. If they let 'Mary from Cleveland' ramble on about her damn cats for 10 minutes one more time, I swear I'm chucking my SkyFi out the car window onto I-95...

2006-03-01 08:10:58
18.   Shaun P
Rob re 13 - I'd love to see those with a voice push for change - but I'm not holding my breath over it.

Its not Bonds in drag - what a riot! - but apparently Chase Utley is on a mission during the WBC. I wonder if he'll succeed?

2006-03-01 08:53:31
19.   Alex Belth
The XM chat was fun. It's a real skill to be able to sound together and coherent in a limited amount of time. I'm a work in progress that is for sure. We talked about Buck and the Hall of Fame and then a little about my forthcoming Curt Flood book. I'll be on the show again later this spring to promote the Flood book and I'll let you guys know when that'll be. Thanks for akzin.'
2006-03-01 09:50:44
20.   Zack
Anyone else see this in the Times? "Manager Joe Torre said the Yankees were considering converting reliever Scott Proctor into a starter at Class AAA Columbus."

Is that so that Lieter can have a roster spot? Is there any reason for this? As far as I can tell, Proctor isn't going to get people out starting or relieving unless his pitches start to move, and maybe forcing him to start will force him to learn other pitches?

The only positive I could see out of this is if it opens a spot for Bean or other...

And on another note, regarding the Hughes hoopla: do you think the Yanks will follow the A's/Sox trend and bring him up to begin his career in the pen, to get some work first?

2006-03-01 10:09:29
21.   Sliced Bread
Shaun P 18 what's with the Phillies phascination with Jeter's phootwear? Weird deal.
2006-03-01 10:10:30
22.   vockins
Another reason to hate the WBC - the uniforms.

Really testing the limits of modern embroidery technology with this crap. The Canada cap is particularly wacky.

I do like the China and the all green Mexico caps though.

Also, I saw that news on Proctor, Zack. Nothing but good could come from that, on first thought.

2006-03-01 11:31:30
23.   Knuckles
Bret Boone retired- I guess he couldn't find a decent un-detectable steroid. Opens the door for Soriano to possibly head to the Mets. Do you think it's possible Minaya and Bowden could pull off a trade that makes each team signifcantly worse? Can two idiots fleece each other by accident?
2006-03-01 12:52:21
24.   Count Zero

What happened -- Korea couldn't afford to buy caps?

2006-03-01 13:17:31
25.   Simone
I couldn't stop laughing at Barry Bonds as Paula Abdul. I loved his "call me" in that high voice. He makes one unattractive woman, much like Derek Jeter on SNL those years ago. I think A-Rod would be a goodlooking woman though. He is pretty for a guy.

I couldn't get through the Chass article. Chass like Gammons has long lost his way. They are like those old athletes who were stars in their primes, but can't let go as they decline and wear out. It is like seeing Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith in their final years and cringing.

2006-03-01 14:18:11
26.   Dan M
Chass should do himself a favor and read Goldman's latest Bible entry. I think it was more directed to the over the hill George Vescey, but it's just as applicable to Chass. And Goldman sums up everything I've been trying to say about Chass, only much more eloquently (if that's even a word).
2006-03-01 15:10:39
27.   Simone
Just read Goldman's lastest comments on baseball writers. Ouch, as in the truth really hurts. Goldman nicely nails Vescey to the wall. It is hard to put this all on Vescey and Chass though. The NY Times sports section was never great and it has been rapidly detriorating over the last couple years. Selena Roberts with her tabloid colums is essentially a female Lupica, the worse insult that can be bestowed on a sports writer. If the Times wanted to have some standards, the sports editors would demand that their writers provide articles of substance and not this rubbish.
2006-03-01 16:20:12
28.   Jeteupthemiddle
So I have no idea how to make the link to other posts, but anyway

Regarding 20 and Proctor being in the AAA rotation, earlier in the winter (I want to say Decemberish) the Yankees announced that Proctor would be in the AAA rotation to "work on his control."

Although, I would think it would also be to see if he could get any trade value whatsoever since he is out of options.

2006-03-01 16:46:02
29.   Rob Gee
Jetes -

Putting the comment in [#] becomes 28

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