November 29, 2007

The Battle For Santana

Reminder: Trade rumors continuing in comments.

Buster Olney, ESPN:
The Red Sox and Twins are discussing the framework of a Johan Santana deal that would have Boston sending four players to Minnesota in return for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, including center fielder Coco Crisp, pitcher Jon Lester and minor-league shortstop Jed Lowrie, the trio that would to anchor the deal.

Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden has been discussed as a possible fourth player, sources say, but the identity of the fourth player is in flux.
Bowden's a bigger chip than Masterson, but if we can get (and obviously extend) Johan and still keep Buchholz and Ellsbury ... do that deal! And don't make any plans for next late October.

Olney says that Buchholz and Ellsbury "are considered untouchables" in the negotiations, as are Cano and Joba on the MFY side. Does that mean that New York has tossed Hughes into the pot with Milk Dud (and Kennedy?)?

If the Yankees up their offer, Theo can switch Ellsbury for Crisp, but then both Bowden and Masterson would likely be pulled off the table.

November 28, 2007

Hitler Hated VORP

Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter Bill Conlin believes that Jimmy Rollins was the National League's Most Valuable Player.

Rollins was decidedly not the MVP (as FJM points out), but that's not important.

A Phillies fan who writes the Crashburn Alley blog emailed Conlin and made the case for David Wright of the Mets. Conlin was not very polite in his responses. Indeed, during the discussion, Conlin wrote:
The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler's time on earth – I'm sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called "Pamphleteers." They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO.
A commenter asks:
By the way, does Conlin realize that the "Colonial pamphleteers" he's comparing to bloggers were the ones who instigated and led the American Revolution? So he's placing bloggers in the company of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton ... and siding with Hitler and King George III.
And while we're chatting about the Third Reich, remember when Michael Kay compared the idea of an announcer "jinxing" a no-hitter with the Nazis marching people into ovens?

(Audio? You better believe there's audio.)

November 27, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for spring training on February 14. Happy Valentine's Day!!

Position players are due on February 20, with the first full-squad workout on the 22nd.

Theo, on who the Sox might part with for Johan Santana: "There are no untouchables. If there's an opportunity to get better, we'll do it."

On dealing Manny Ramirez: "There's nothing happening with him at all, because he's happy in Boston."

November 26, 2007

Beckett To Ellsbury: "Don't Screw It Up"

The Red Sox have sent a bunch of stuff to the Hall of Fame, but a bag of Mike Lowell's eyebrow trimmings is not among the items.

(Note to Gordon Edes (who wrote the above story): the 1998 Yankees did not go 11-0 in the post-season. They lost two ALCS games. No team has gone 3-0, 4-0 and 4-0 since the three-round format began in 1995, though the 1999 Yankees and 2005 White Sox both went 11-1.)

General manager Theo Epstein says the team is set with the regular lineup and starting pitchers and will turn its attention to the bullpen and bench.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: "As a team, [winning the World Series] was the best. But as for personal accomplishment, it was not up to my standards. I feel that my command was something I need to improve."

2008 is the final year on Terry Francona's contract and the team hopes to sign him to an extension before spring training.

This is why bloggers like myself and Jere will never clutter our sites with ads for ticket brokers. Since this is specifically against Red Sox policy, the front office should make a serious effort to permanently revoke the season tickets of anyone found selling tickets this way.

The small town of Madras, Oregon held a parade for Jacoby Ellsbury.
When he spoke in the gym at Madras, Ellsbury referred to his big-league debut [June 30], how he was so nervous he almost threw up ("by far the most nervous I've ever been in my life for anything") and how Josh Beckett, who was pitching that night, approached him with a message: "Don't screw it up."

Later, he was asked if Beckett was just kidding with him.

"I didn't get any joke out of it," Ellsbury said, unsmiling. "Maybe if you ask him, maybe he'll say, 'Yeah, I was just joking,' but he didn't give me a wink or a smile or something. It was, 'Don't screw it up.'

"He came up to me and said, 'Is this your first game?'

"'Yeah.'

"'Is this your debut?'

"'Yeah.'

"'Don't screw it up.' That's what he told me, right before the game."

November 25, 2007

Reading Level

yankees suck

Since I did not go to college, does this mean I may not understand my own writing?

Back Home

It looks like it was pretty quiet on the Red Sox front.

From the papers:

Mike Lowell seems like a pretty cool guy, even if he refuses to hate the Yankees.

November 20, 2007

Lowell Resigns With Red Sox

Mike Lowell has resigned with the Red Sox for 3/37.5.

The Globe says there were reports that the Phillies offered him 4/50, but Lowell chose to stay in Boston.

Also: In the AL MVP voting, David Ortiz finished 4th and Lowell was 5th. Full voting here.

November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Break

From Monday to Saturday, L and I will be in New Jersey for Thanksgiving.

My access to a computer will be limited -- probably mornings and evenings. So things will be quiet around here for a few more days.

Some Thanksgiving music:










This may be a Red Sox blog, but you won't be seeing Mr. Dry Your Eyes here. That is the movie's built-in bathroom break. (Thanks, Martin!)

After Diamond walked off stage, he (allegedly) said to Dylan, "Beat that!" Dylan looked at him and said, "What do you want me to do, sleep?"

November 17, 2007

Gammons: Yankees Withdraw Lowell Offer

Newsday:
With A-Rod back, the Yankees don't have any interest in signing Mike Lowell as a first baseman.
Why should that matter? Slappy wasn't going to play 1B. And wasn't it thought that Dumbo might be moved to first for the final year or two of his contract? Why would NY sign Lowell to a mega-deal also?

Ahhhhh, whatever. The Red Sox front office can't possibly be fooled by this silliness.

As of about 11:30 PM, this was posted on SoSH:
WBZ: Gammons reporting Yanks yank their offer.
WHDH: Lowell still weighing offers from the Sox and other teams.
WCVB: Yankees have 4 years 60 million deal on the table. (??)
The Chokers are apparently willing go with a Shelley Duncan/Jason Giambi platoon at 1B.

November 16, 2007

Lowell's Choice: Good Or Evil?

It looks like Mike Lowell has two contract offers to choose from: the Red Sox or the Yankees. Boston has offered 3/45. WBZ-TV reports the Yankees have offered 4/56-60, as long as Lowell moves to first base.

Curt Schilling:
If it's three years and $45 million here and three years and $49 million or $50 million somewhere ... he's staying here. I would bet my bottom dollar he's staying here, just in knowing the man. But if someone offers him four at $58, or four at $60 and he's at $40, do you blame him? No, you don't, and you can't.
G38 is right. I would not blame him. In fact, I would encourage him to take it and wish him well.

Boston's offer is too high for me, both in years and $. Was Lowell's 2007 season worth $15 million? I say no. But if you think it was, then the Sox are willing to paying him that amount to have a 2007esque season in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Getting that kind of value for their money is highly unlikely.

Rob Bradford reports that "Lowell said earlier this year that he wouldn't be adverse to making the move to first and has no problem joining the Yankees, who drafted him."

If the Chokers sign Lowell, he would not play third, because Alex Rodriguez has signed a 10/275 deal to remain in Gotham. Fruitbat, looking at Slappy's deal and Dumbo's recent 4/56 payday, wants a fourth guaranteed year added to the team's 3/45 offer, which would pay him about $15 million at age 42. CI may have some tax problems (SoSHer Mike in CT has dubbed him "Captain Untaxables"). Shemp had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but should be fine by camp.

Here's the tentative 2008 schedule. The Red Sox play their first five games in three different countries. They end the regular season at home against the Yankees.

November 14, 2007

NYY: A-Rod at 3B, Lowell At 1B?

Fox/MSN:
In a startling turn of events, Alex Rodriguez spoke with the Steinbrenner family and New York Yankees officials Wednesday and told them he wants to stay in pinstripes.

The two sides are currently working toward a 10-year, $275 million contract, a source with knowledge of the talks told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The deal also would include incentives that could push the total value higher. ...

Recently, however, the Yankees have been talking to [Mike] Lowell not just about replacing Rodriguez at third base, but also about playing first, major-league sources tell Rosenthal.
WTF?

In case you are wondering, Lowell has played more than 10,000 innings in 1,262 games and has spent not even one minute at first base.

I have no idea what this is about. Isn't a lot of Lowell's value tied up in his glove at third? Can he learn a new position at age 34? And are the Chokers serious about playing him $14 per for three or four years to do so? Does Lowell even want to play first?

Bizarre. One thing is for sure: the "Hank and Hal" era is off to an entertaining start.

Other reports have the Yankees and Angels interested in Lowell, but neither team really wants to offer Lowell a four-year deal (this early in negotiations).

Who Omitted Beckett?

Josh Beckett was not named on two AL Cy Young Award ballots.

Paul at YFSF passes on the info that Mark Feinsand (New York Daily News) and Jorge Ortiz (USA) each listed C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey and Fausto Carmona on their Cy Young ballots.

Kevin Sherrington (Dallas Morning News) was the one writer who did not include Sabathia, putting Beckett, Carmona, and Johan Santana on his ballot.

***

AL MoY: Eric Wedge, followed by Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre and Terry Francona (3 votes for 2nd place and 4 votes for 3rd place).

Red Sox Open 2008 In Japan

The defending World Series champion Red Sox will begin the 2008 regular season with two games against the Oakland A's in Tokyo on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 25-26.

The regular season will continue, after five days off, on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 1-2 with two games in Oakland. The A's will be the home team for all four games.

The Sox and A's will also play two exhibition games -- on March 23-24 -- against Japanese teams.

Also: Yook with a clean chin. "I'll start it up again, because a lot of people seem to like it."

November 13, 2007

Sabathia Wins AL Cy Young Award

                          1st 2nd 3rd  Pts
C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland 19 8 — 119
Josh Beckett, Red Sox 8 14 4 86
John Lackey, Angels 1 5 16 36
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland — 1 4 7
Eric Bedard, Orioles — — 1 1
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays — — 1 1
Johan Santana, Twins — — 1 1
Justin Verlander, Tigers — — 1 1
MLB story.

Not that it mattered, but Beckett was left off two ballots and Sabathia was left off one. (I'll bet one of the non-Beckett ballots belongs to George King of the Post.)

In ERA and WHIP, Sabathia (3.21, 1.14) and Beckett (3.27, 1.14) were just about identical, and CC held that impressive (and slightly-lower) ERA while pitching an additional 40.1 innings.

That is very significant and likely made the difference. Plus, those extra innings may have contributed to his downfall in the ALCS (in which Beckett won the MVP).

Yook To Lose Goatee

Kevin Youkilis will have his goatee shaved off at 5 PM this evening at the Cask 'n Flagon near Fenway Park. The event is free and open to the public.

Gillette is donating $5,000 to Yook's Hits for Kids organization.

Lowell On The Open Market

Mike Lowell can now hear offers from any of the other 29 teams.

That the midnight deadline of Red Sox exclusivity passed last night should not be read as a sign that Lowell is leaving. The chances that Lowell would not even see what the open market could offer him for the next four years -- the last big contract he will sign as a major league player -- were very, very low.

In his mind, he may like what the "very strong" three-year deal the Red Sox offered him, but I can't blame him for being curious about what is out there.

The Herald says the Sox originally did not want to guarantee a third year, but they agreed to do so -- at $12 million a year. The Journal says the contract was approximately 3/40. So the deal was at least 3/36.

It sure sounds like the Sox are dead set against a fourth year, which I agree with. There are players you overpay for -- but Mike Lowell, who will be 34 years old on Opening Day 2008, is not one of them.

If another team (MFY?) offers Lowell a four-year deal than ends up being a good $20 million more than Boston's -- 14 per for 4/56? -- I won't blame him one bit for taking it.

Lowell has made comments about how wonderful it is to pay in Boston -- after toiling for several years in 1/3-filled parks with the Marlins. Whether he believes that is worth leaving several million dollars on the table remains to be seen.

November 12, 2007

AL Rookie of the Year

Yes!

                           1st  2nd  3rd  Total
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 24 4 — 132
Delmon Young, Devil Rays 3 12 5 56
Brian Bannister, Royals 1 8 7 36
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox — 2 6 12
Reggie Willits, Angels — 2 5 11
Hideki Okajima, Red Sox — — 3 3
Josh Fields, White Sox — — 1 1
Joakim Soria, Royals — — 1 1

NL RoY is Ryan Braun.
                           1st  2nd  3rd  Total
Ryan Braun, Brewers 17 14 1 128
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 15 17 — 126
Hunter Pence, Astros — — 15 15
Chris Young, Diamondbacks — — 10 10
Kyle Kendrick, Phillies — 1 4 7
Yunel Escobar, Atlanta — — 1 1
James Loney, Dodgers — — 1 1
***

Will be announced at 2 PM.

MLB has a look at the favourites.

If Dustin Pedroia is the winner, he will hold his press conference at Arizona State University, where he played before the Red Sox drafted him in 2004.

November 10, 2007

Awards Are Coming

Beginning on Monday:
November 12: Rookies of the Year
November 13: AL Cy Young
November 14: Managers of the Year
November 15: NL Cy Young
Then next week:
November 19: AL MVP
November 20: NL MVP

Clay Buchholz Has A Blog

... yeah, but who doesn't these days?

Buch Wild -- Clay has not posted anything since October 2, but someone named The Baseball Insider has posted a video interview with Buchholz answering questions submitted by blog readers.

Pedroia Played Last Two Months With Broken Hamate Bone

Dustin Pedroia tells the Herald's Rob Bradford that he played the final two months of the season with a cracked hamate bone in his left hand.

The injury was first discovered during an MRI/bone scan on September 10. DP underwent surgery last Tuesday and is now wearing a soft cast. Herald:
"Some days I would wake up and it would be hard to grip a bat. I changed my grip a little bit on the bat and went from there. It was just one of those things you know you have to take care of after the season, but you have to play through. A lot of guys have done that." ...

The surgery was performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Scottsdale, Ariz. According to Pedroia, when Sheridan went in to remove the bone it crumbled, suggesting more activity might have led to further complications.

November 9, 2007

Loaded

Baseball Reference's Stat of the Day notes that in 2007 Jason Varitek led all major league players in plate appearances with the bases loaded with 32 (he batted only .200).

Mike Lowell was second with 31, and Julio Lugo was not too far down the list with 26.

The Red Sox loaded the bases 239 times in 2007. The second-best American League total was Oakland -- at 185. Fifty-four fewer times. Cleveland was third (178) and the Yankees were fourth (175).

More SOTD fun:
Trying to answer the question of how often a cleanup hitter hits a "natural" grand slam with the 1-, 2-, and 3-spot hitters on base ahead of him

Players with 100 (!) extra base hits in a season
The 100 XBH hits list is solid evidence that despite the greatness of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, they remain light-years away from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

MLB Alert On Main Download Page

MLB now has a notice on its main download page, in a red, bolded font:
Having trouble viewing downloads purchased prior to 2007 – Click Here
This is excellent!

(However, there is nothing on the main download page of 2007 games -- which is where fans are directed when they click on Buy Now option for World Series game downloads on MLB's main page. There should be something there, as well. Fans who go to order 2007 games might very well have ordered games in 2003-06.)

Still, based on what I have seen over the last two days, MLB is taking quick and correct steps to fix this problem.

The Washington Post Weighs In

Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post called me earlier today and now has posted a very good piece on this MLB-DRM debacle for his Faster Forward column at the WaPo.

MLB's Email Alert

This email from MLB just appeared in my inbox. It includes the same information I quoted yesterday. I'm assuming this was sent as part of a mass email effort to any previous digital download customers.

Has anyone else out there received a similar email?

November 8, 2007

MLB Follows Up

Contrary to what I posted earlier today, it appears that, according to an email I received, MLB:
will be disseminating emails to customers who had purchased downloads prior to 2007 in a proactive effort to alert them of the issues and provide immediate remedies so they can access the previously-purchased content they are entitled to.
If I receive permission to post more of the email, I will do so.

MLB's Response re Faulty Downloads

MLB has replaced the error message that appears when customers attempt to play files of games purchased and downloaded prior to 2007 (posted here) with the following message:
Attention Valued MLB.com Digital Download Customers:

It has recently come to our attention that a small subset of our MLB.com Digital Download customers are unable to access and watch certain games that they purchased prior to 2007. MLB.com is committed to ensuring that all non-functioning MLB.com Digital Downloads that were previously purchased are again made available at no additional cost to our customers.

If you are unable to view any MLB.com Digital Download game that you purchased prior to 2007, please contact MLB.com Customer Service by either (1) sending an e-mail to customerservice@website.mlb.com listing the games that are no longer accessible, or (2) by calling 888.800.1275 to speak to a representative.

We will then send you an e-mail containing information on how to re-download and reassess these games. Please note that all Regular Season games will be available, in the original format, within three business days of your request. All post-season games will be made available, in the same format currently used on MLB.com/Downloads, within seven business days of your request.

We regret any inconvenience, and value your continued support.

Sincerely, MLB.com
This is a start, but it is still unacceptable.

During my telephone discussion with MLB representatives yesterday, they assured me that MLB would be emailing customers who had paid for game downloads that were no longer accessible. According to this statement, MLB has already reneged on that promise. They are now putting the onus of discovering this problem, then contacting MLB, on the consumer.

As far as I can tell, this message cannot be found on MLB's website. Rather, it appears only when a customer attempts to play an old game file. Therefore, customers currently accessing MLB's download page (who may also have downloaded games in previous years) still won't know this problem exists before they purchase games. [This has now changed. See more recent posts.]

We can assume MLB realizes that if it posts a notice about how badly it screwed up with its old DRM system -- and fans see that MLB is still using a DRM system -- fans will rightly be reluctant to spend their money at MLB.com.

This problem was caused solely by MLB, and it's up to MLB to solve it -- by taking the lead and contacting the customers who are currently being defrauded. They should have the decency -- and good business sense -- to publicly announce that a huge problem exists and that they are working to solve it.

MLB representatives told me they would be "pro-active" in solving this debacle. It appears that promise did not last even 20 hours.

***

I have sent another email to MLB VP of Communications Matthew Gould (he's identified here, so I think I'm free to mention him).

Japan Opener Still Uncertain

Will the Red Sox and Athletics open the 2008 season in Japan on March 24?

Theo Epstein says the team has not yet reached a decision. "It's up in the air. ...[I]f you want to speculate enough you could say approval of our players is the primary factor ..." The Globe reports that according to "at least two prominent members" of the team, the players do not want to make the trip. (The A's want to go.)

Negotiations with Mike Lowell continue. The Globe's Nick Cafardo has heard that the Sox are willing to go three years to keep the Doctor operating in Boston.

More from Cafardo:
Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester are being put on Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder-strengthening program and likely will visit with Josh Beckett to see how he performs his routine. The Sox will have a minicamp after Thanksgiving to go over the strength program.
Theo:
There's a reality in baseball that if you try to keep things the same by not making changes, things will change on you anyway. In other words, players change, players age, chemistry changes, rosters and payroll structures change. It's better to be proactive and try to find the right mix for now and for the future rather than let it happen to you while you sit and watch and protest and wish it were still 2004.
Theo, on the ball used to record the final out of the 2007 World Series:
I have no idea where the ball is and don't really care. I hope that's a recurring problem for us.

November 7, 2007

My Conference Call With MLB

MLB is clearly concerned about my/its downloading problem -- or, more likely, about the uniformly negative attention it received today. I received an email from a VP of Communications at MLB this afternoon and was part of a conference call this evening.

During the call, MLB agreed that it had handled this issue in an "sub-optimal manner". Whatever it had done to alert customers to the potential problems during the DRM platform switchover was an "inelegant solution" and MLB "did not effectively" get the word out about the old DRM platform. I'd say it was a non-existent solution. To my knowledge, MLB changed DRM platforms and did absolutely nothing to inform its customers about the switch.

I have my suspicions that the solution put forth by MLB during the conference call would not have come about had my post not received the attention it did. The MLB representative heading the call did not confirm it; indeed, I didn't even ask. However, after thinking about my past dealings with MLB, I find it hard to believe that MLB knew about this problem, was concerned about it and was hard at work independently to find a solution that would satisfy its customers -- and that MLB was ready to roll out this solution at the exact moment that I posted my complaint.

In any case, whether for altruistic reasons or selfishly trying to save face, I appreciate MLB taking this issue seriously and working to find a decent solution.

What I was told is this:

Everyone who purchased a game download while MLB was on the old platform (prior to 2007) will be receiving an email (possibly within 48 hours) with a link that will allow the customer to re-download the game again -- for free. The MLB rep said they are working with a database of everyone who had ordered a game(s) and would be sending out emails very soon. It was unclear if, for example, you had purchased five games if you would receive five emails or one email with five links.

I was told that MLB is in the process of making all of these games -- both regular season and playoff games -- available again. The playoff games will take a little longer to restore, as they will be in a higher resolution.

Assuming all goes well, I will be happy to have the games again. However, this solution is far from ideal.

These new downloads will still have DRM protection, so customers will have to go to MLB.com for a license, as they always have. I asked if, since MLB allows customers to receive a license at only three separate computers, that as people upgrade or replace their machines over time, they eventually could be left with no way to play the files on their fourth computer, the MLB rep said "Yes, that's a problem."

Which means that the really cool games -- like the four games of the Red Sox 2004 ALCS comeback -- games that you revisit and replay many times -- are the most vulnerable to being lost in the future.

I suggested that MLB could simply make the files available for a strict download -- and if a few fans made an extra copy or two for their friends, just chalk that up to the cost of doing business. MLB pricing the current games it is selling at $1.99 per download and not the previous $3.95 would go a long way to prevent that. Most people would not balk at paying two bucks for a copy of a favorite game. But give them the game without any DRM strings attached. It would save MLB from any possible future headaches (like the one they are experiencing now) and will make the fan happy.

The MLB rep conceded this was a "valid point" and while it will not be MLB's policy in the foreseeable future, it was an argument that he said would likely have a lot of support, at both this evening's conference table and throughout MLB.

I asked the MLB rep if he could send some official statement to me about what the company will be doing, so I could include it in a blog follow-up. That should be arriving tomorrow.

Pitches Great! Less Schilling!

Boing Boing has picked upon my MLB download troubles. Spread the word.

Schilling $8 contract for 2008 includes as much as $6 in incentives (not the $2 I mentioned yesterday), including a weight-related clause -- suggested by G38 himself.
I inserted the weigh-in clause in the second round of offers. Given the mistakes I made last winter and into spring training I needed to show them I recognized that, and understood the importance of it. Being overweight and out of shape are two different things. I also was completely broadsided by the fact that your body doesn't act/react the same way as you get older, even after being told that for the first 39 years of my life.
(That's a pretty horrible post title, isn't it?)

Kevin Youkilis is only the second first baseman in Red Sox history to win a Gold Glove (George Scott, the real "Boomer", is the other). Much is made of Yook's 1,080 chances without an error, but really, if Yook had made an error or three along the way, would his work at first been any less valuable?

Theo Epstein, on the Mike Lowell negotiations: "We're working at it and hopefully moving the ball forward each day." ... Damn it, Theo, NO football metaphors!!!

Daisuke Matsuzaka became the first Red Sox pitcher since Babe Ruth (Game 4, 1918) to have two RBIs in a World Series game.

Interesting take on the Slappy Opt-out from the Times:
From a bargaining perspective, however, the story up to now shows strong evidence [that] Rodriguez wants to stay a Yankee — albeit after proving his open-market value — and has gone out of his way to make it possible for the Yankees to climb down from their posturing and match any offer.
In NYC: The Mets are meeting with Alex Rodriguez. Right now, Wilson Betemit is pencilled in as the Chokers' 3B next year. That will likely change by March, but whoever they get will be a huge downgrade from Mr. McBluelips. ... Jorge Posada says he'll listen to other offers before making any decision re the MFY. Sources say the Chokers are considering offering 3/40, while Dumbo is looking for four years. ... Andy Pettitte turned down his $16 million option for 2008 and he may decide to retire. ... And finally, from CI: "If someone came out twenty years from now and said they released those bugs on purpose, I'd believe it."

November 6, 2007

Ortiz Has Knee Surgery

Globe:
Red Sox DH David Ortiz underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee today, according to a statement released by the team. The surgery, performed by team physician Dr. Thomas Gill, was done to address a cartilage problem in the knee. The surgery went well, according to the statement, and Ortiz is expected to begin rehabilitation immediately.
Flo should have plenty of time to rehab before spring training. It likely wouldn't hurt if he dropped a pound or 15 over the winter.

If You Purchased MLB Game Downloads Before 2006, Your Discs/Files Are Now Useless; MLB Has Stolen Your $$$ And Claims "No Refunds"

Great to see non-baseball sites like Boing Boing, Wired, Slashdot, Techdirt and others posting about this. Links in comments.

***

2nd Update: Baseball Think Factory has publicized the discussion.

Update: Just got off the phone with a MLB customer service supervisor.

"MLB no longer supports the DDS system" that it once used and so any CDs with downloaded games on them "are no good. They will not work with the current system."

Great. Just effing great. ... As I told the supervisor, this is right in line with how wrong-headed and stupid and ass backwards MLB does everything.

I was told there is absolutely nothing MLB can do about these lost games. Plus, they said my purchases were all "one-time sales" and thus "there are no refunds".

No refunds? As Lee Elia would say: "My fucking ass!"

My info has been submitted to some other MLB department which will review things and see what they can do about either getting me the games I paid for or refunding my $280.45.

So if you have downloaded any games prior to 2006, get those discs out and try to watch them ... then call MLB at 866-800-1275 and demand they refund your money.

***

MLB continues to steal money from baseball fans who have downloaded full games through its digital download service.

I have blogged about this problem twice this year -- April 5 and April 16.

Background: Beginning in 2003, MLB offered fans the chance to download full games to their computer at $3.95 each. When you attempted to open the media file -- either on your hard drive or after it was burned to a CD -- it connected with a MLB.com webpage to obtain a license. Once the license had been verified, the game would play.

From MLB's FAQ:
2. Why is a license used for my downloaded video?

All MLB.com Downloads are encrypted with Microsoft Digital Rights Management technology. DRM security requires a valid license before viewing the material. You must have Windows Media Player (version 10.0 or higher) downloaded on your machine to view downloaded video.

3. What is DRM?

Digital Rights Management is a technology that allows for the secure management of digital media. This security protects the content provider from unauthorized distribution, viewing and use of the material.
At some point during 2006, MLB deleted that essential webpage. Since then, none of the videos that fans purchased will play.

FAQ:
7. Do I have to obtain a license every time I want to watch the downloaded video?

No. When you first try to play the video, a license will be distributed to you and stored by the player. Unless manually deleted, the license will exist forever and will be used when you try to watch the downloaded video on that machine. If you watch the video on a different machine, another license will be required.
This is a lie. Once MLB deleted the essential webpage, none of my CDs would play, even ones I had opened and watched previously.

Here is a screenshot (from last night) of what happens when I try to play a CD with a downloaded game on it:


By deleting the webpage and making it impossible for fans to watch the games they have paid for and downloaded, MLB has stolen $3.95 for every game from every fan. That must runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Since MLB started this download service, I have bought and downloaded 71 games -- many of them from the Red Sox's August-September 2004 hot streak -- which works out to a total cost of $280.45 (plus the price of the blank discs). Thanks to MLB, I now have nearly six dozen coasters.

When I contacted MLB in April, the people I spoke with expressed surprise at my predicament and claimed to have never heard of this problem before (naturally!). They said that MLB was overhauling its downloading system -- this was true -- and they told me to be patient because even though they had never heard of anyone with this problem, MLB was working on it.

More than six months have passed and nothing has changed. The essential webpage is still gone and my games will not play. I tried about 35 of them last night -- all with the same result.

And now MLB IS SELLING GAME DOWNLOADS AGAIN! Various 2007 playoff games -- and other games -- are available for $1.99. MLB is still using the DRM technology. Will the page fans use to watch these 2007 games be suddenly deleted in 2009?

Despite MLB's claim that I'm the only baseball fan on the face of the Earth with this problem, I know there are other fans out there who have been similarly ripped off -- because they read the April posts and either commented or emailed me.

I'm asking that if you also have discs that are now useless, call MLB at 866-800-1275 and complain.

It would also be helpful if some Boston or national sports media picked up on this.

Diehard baseball fans have paid tens of thousands of dollars to MLB to download games -- and MLB has pocketed the money and is now making it impossible for those fans to watch the games.

Schilling Returning For 2008

Update: Schilling blogs about the done deal.

Update: ESPN/Olney sez $8 base with up to $2 in incentives.

***

The Red Sox and Curt Schilling are putting the finishing touches on a contract for 2008.

This made too much sense to not happen. Give him $8-10 with a couple of incentives that can boost it up near this past season's $13 and -- done!

Funny stuff going on at SoSH. But first:

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe, Sunday, November 4, 2007:
Meanwhile, there will be battles. Lucchino will want to go to Japan, Epstein won't. There could be a split at the top on Lowell and ... (gulp) A-Rod. One thing we know they agree on is Schilling: thanks for the clutch work, big fella, now don't let the door hit you on the way out. We'll invite you back for Old-Timers' Day.
From SoSH, LahoudOrBillyC:
This will piss off CHB, who has written and said repeatedly that Theo and Lucchino hate Schilling and can't wait until he leaves. If Curt signs, CHB will have to invent some story about Terry or Henry jumping in and making it happen.
Gehrig38:
But wait, I can't be coming back. CHB, Shaugnostradamus is the IN guy, he knows for a fact that the Sox are saying "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out". He's 100% guaranteed in the know right? He KNOWS they hate me...

Wait, no he doesn't.

Things are winding down, details being taken care of. When something is final I'll blog it to let anyone that cares know.
But, but, but ... he wrote letters to his teammates! Letters!

Shaugnostradamus!

38 pitches: "It's looking good."

November 5, 2007

Joe DiMaggio On His 1938 Holdout

In 1937, in his second major league season, Joe DiMaggio batted .346/.412/.673, with 167 RBI and 418 total bases. He finished 2nd in the AL MVP voting. He was paid $15,000.

He believed he should earn $40,000 for 1938, but the club offered only $25,000. DiMaggio held out and did not report to spring training.

Under the rules of the time -- you know, the "good old days" -- whichever team first signed a player had full control over him for his entire career. Free agency did not exist. The player could either sign whatever contract was offered or he could retire.

Once the season began, DiMaggio accepted the $25,000 and returned to the team. Ripped as greedy in the sports pages (naturally), Yankee fans booed him for most of the season. ... Some things never change.

Click here to read DiMaggio's explanation of his holdout -- and his thoughts on baseball and money, in general.

Bonus link! Here's a letter to the editor of the New York Times I wrote about the same subject in February 1995!

November 4, 2007

Scott Boras: The Extortionist

The October 29, 2007 issue of The New Yorker has a near 10,000-word feature on Scott Boras, written by Ben McGrath and entitled "The Extortionist".

You can read it here.

Incredible Journey

Both the Globe and Herald have big sections devoted to the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Enjoy!

November 3, 2007

Manny/Leno; Ortiz/Conan

Ortiz is cool, but he's no Manny:
"Are you related to Kevin Youkilis?"
Hilarious.

We are given a description of Manny by the media --and then the man comes out and he is pretty much the opposite -- smart, charismatic, media-savvy, more than articulate in English, relaxed, very sure of himself, just chatting away. And that giddy laugh -- when have we ever heard that laugh?

SoSHer ragecage says it all:
I really, really don't know if I could love Manny any more. Fuck, he rules. Flat out rules.

November 2, 2007

Tek Or Treat

Wow!
This Halloween, Jason Varitek gave trick-or-treaters something infinitely more valuable than a king-sized Snickers bar. The Red Sox captain sat in a lawn chair at the top on his driveway and handed out autographs, signing baseballs, hats, shirts, pillow cases stuffed with candy, and a green alien glove from a youngster's costume. ...

The Variteks had a small Halloween gathering at their home that included the families of two other Red Sox players - third baseman Mike Lowell and Doug Mirabelli, another catcher. After the guests left, Varitek's oldest daughter, Aly, 7, had an idea: Dad should go out and sign autographs while she handed out Butterfinger candy bars.

Red Sox Pick Up Options on Wakefield, Tavarez

Smart, low-risk moves: $4 for Tim Wakefield and $3.85 for Sexy Lips.

Wakefield posted a 4.76 ERA (100 ERA+, perfectly league-average) last season. Back and shoulder problems limited him to one start in the post-season. Tavarez's ERA was 5.15 (92 ERA+) in 23 starts and 11 relief appearances.

Boston also acquired outfielder Sean Danielson from the Cardinals (completing the Joel Pineiro trade) and put him on Portland's AA roster.

Catcher Kevin Cash is now a free agent, after turning down an assignment to Pawtucket. Doug Mirabelli filed for free agency on Thursday.

Farrell Staying With Sox

Gordon Edes has a statement from pitching coach John Farrell:
While I do have aspirations to manage in the major leagues in the future, my commitment to John, Tom, Larry, Theo, Tito, and the Red Sox, needs to be greater than one year for their faith in hiring me as their pitching coach. Therefore I have declined the opportunity to interview for the position of Pittsburgh Pirates manager. I look forward to contributing to and competing for another World Series title here in Boston.
I have been continually impressed with Farrell this season. This is excellent news.

Schadenfreude 37 (A Continuing Series)

With Joe Torre in Los Angeles, why couldn't the Dodgers and Yankees have simply swapped managers? :>)


Joel Sherman, Post:
Joe Girardi called being named Yankee manager his "dream job" and insisted "this is where we [he and his family] wanted to be. This is where we wanted to end up."

Which is interesting since even after the Yankees offered him the "dream job," Girardi was strong-arming the Yankees for more money by using the Dodgers for leverage. ...

Girardi lasted just a year on a three-year managerial contract in Florida, encountering difficulties with the front office and the media because essentially he was a football coach in a baseball uniform. He wanted not only the regimented structure, but the unquestioned authority given to an NFL head man. But the Eric Mangini thing isn't going to work, not in baseball, not in New York. ...

The manager meets with the media daily before and after games, and is asked to explain every critical move. And he cannot say he has to watch the game film first. ...

So when Girardi is asked if he thinks the playoffs are a crapshoot and responds, "I am a big believer that the best team wins," then he should expect a follow-up like this: So that means you think the Indians are better than the Yankees?

He was asked that. He responded by getting annoyed at the questioner. He then said the Indians were better for four games. When told that means it is a crapshoot, he got more annoyed, and the uneasy give-and-take went like that for about one minute.
This is going to be fun.

Also, Bob Raissman of the Daily News, on Michael Kay and the other morons at YES:
"There are things about Joe Torre, if I wanted to come out and say, would show how cold and calculated he really is," Kay fumed. "... Joe Torre is for Joe Torre. ... The graveyard of Yankees coaches is loaded with bones of coaches Joe Torre did nothing about." ...

If Kay felt so strongly about this, why didn't he offer the information as either opinion - or fact - during a Yankees telecast?

Stop laughing. While Torre was managing the Yankees to 12 straight playoff trips - and four World Series titles - there would be no criticizing, and very limited second-guessing, the manager on YES.

Any stabbing was done behind Torre's back. The "truth" - or any particular broadcaster's version of it - is not a priority to the stooges running Al Yankzeera. ...

Girardi worked at the network last season. He now owns an Al Yank diploma. Does anyone really think his former booth buddies (some of whom he played with) are going to offer an honest analysis of his managerial skills, especially if the Bombers don't get off to a fast start? ...

This is why, during YES' coverage of Girardi's coronation, neither Kay or Bob Lorenz asked the new manager about his fractured relationship with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and the Florida front office.

Nor did they inquire (most everyone else has) about Josh Johnson's arm injury. And they didn't even ask Girardi about his rather strange encounter with respected Marlins broadcaster (and former Yankees radio voice) Tommy Hutton in the Marlins players' lounge.

Instead, Kay and Lorenz went Charmin with questions such as: "What was it like putting the pinstripes on?"

Matsuzaka's High School No-Hitter

1998, Yokohama High School:

Thanks to Dan at Red Sox Monster.

November 1, 2007

BP's Internet Baseball Awards

Baseball Prosepctus has published the results of its 2007 awards. Much more info at the link.
2007 IBA AL MVP:
Rnk Name 1 2 3 Ballots Points

1. Alex Rodriguez 1354 39 11 1430 19527
2. Magglio Ordonez 23 823 232 1283 10831
3. David Ortiz 26 211 345 1159 8245
4. Jorge Posada 6 78 180 866 5519
5. Vladimir Guerrero 6 51 153 899 5246

2007 IBA NL MVP:
Rnk Name 1 2 3 Ballots Points

1. Matt Holliday 407 331 192 1210 11859
2. David Wright 299 194 153 1005 9180
3. Jimmy Rollins 226 227 145 996 8349
4. Hanley Ramirez 128 128 146 937 6734
5. Prince Fielder 76 92 199 996 6476

2007 IBA AL Cy Young:
Rnk Name 1 2 3 Ballots Points

1. C.C. Sabathia 819 287 95 1265 10830
2. Josh Beckett 292 435 192 1139 7439
3. Fausto Carmona 83 219 301 899 4574
4. John Lackey 27 123 262 739 3182
5. Johan Santana 43 115 179 757 2956

2007 IBA NL Cy Young:
Rnk Name 1 2 3 Ballots Points

1. Jake Peavy 1097 82 5 1190 11585
2. Brandon Webb 87 902 89 1106 7705
3. Brad Penny 1 50 347 627 2626
4. Roy Oswalt 0 12 114 415 1339
5. John Smoltz 1 21 119 331 1164

2007 IBA AL Rookie of the Year:
Rnk Name 1 2 3 Ballots Points

1. Dustin Pedroia 838 178 89 1137 10145
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka 138 328 275 917 5457
3. Brian Bannister 57 150 151 600 2927
4. Jeremy Guthrie 66 155 124 480 2672
5. Hideki Okajima 16 115 130 501 2093