The Week That Was in Baseball: November 22-28, 2010
Derek Jeter: Off-Broadway? • The Unlikeliest Final Stops of Star Players
Who's Hisashi Iwakuma and Why Does He Want $125 Million? • Toronto for Manny?
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Chained in Pinstripes?
Many assumed that negotiations for a new Yankee contract for Jeter would be a slam dunk; Jeter has become as iconic as the great names immortalized in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park, is immensely beloved in the Bronx and is on the brink of his 3,000th hitand, at age 35, might even have a shot at 4,000. But Jeter’s production slipped this year; he hit a career-low .270, and although he committed just six errorsresulting in a career-best .989 fielding percentagehis diminishing number of total chances while playing shortstop over the last five years suggests that his range is eroding.
Combine that with Jeter’s age (he turns 36 next June), and the Yankees are less willing to continue paying him the nearly $20 million he’s made annually over the last decade. So they’ve set the bar with a three-year offer at $15 million per season, a package they feel no one else would care to match. Jeter’s camp isn’t happy; they want more years and more money, though how much remains a mystery outside of the negotiating room. (Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, did deny a New York Daily News report that he was demanding $150 million over six years.)This past week, as Close and Yankee general manager Brian Cashman barked at one another through the media over Jeter, the Yankees took a calculated risk: They told reporters that if Jeter wants to look for a better deal elsewhere, he has a right as a free agent to do so. The Yankees are well aware that Jeter has much emotional equity invested in the team (and vice versa), and they’re guessing that other teams are aware of this as well. So, would seeing Jeter in the uniform of the Boston Red Sox or San Francisco Giants look too awkward for all parties involved? The Yankees are betting that the answer is yes. We’ll see just how addicted Jeter is to pinstripes.
Home Writers' Advantage
In the NL, meanwhile, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch kept Cincinnati Joey Votto’s from earning a unanimous 32 first-place votes for NL MVP by picking the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols at the top of his ballot.
Nice to know that objectivity is alive and well in baseball.
The Orient Excess
When All Else Fails, There's Japan
Tanned, Recovered and Ready?
Home For Good
Now Playing at TGG
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
How Did I End Up Here?
Babe Ruth. The most iconic Yankee of them all played his one year for the Boston Braves in 1935 only so he could get the chance to manage at the big league level, a desire the Yankees refused to give him but promised by the Braves. The Sultan of Swat became the Sultan of Squat in limited time for a horrendous (38-115) Boston team, and it would have been a complete disaster had it not been for one last thunderous display in which he blasted the last three home runs of his career in one game at Pittsburgh. Worse, the Braves never made good on their promise to let Ruth manage.
Hank Greenberg. After a bitter preseason salary dispute in 1947, the life-long Detroit Tiger was traded to Pittsburgh, where his stay would be a short one; even with the Pirates moving in the fences at voluminous Forbes Field to accommodate his arrival, Greenberg’s production declined and, at age 36, decided to pack it up and work in the front offices. Greenberg’s brief time in Pittsburgh was not a total loss for the Bucs; he was critical in helping a young Ralph Kiner emerge as a premier slugger.
Jackie Robinson. The legendary Brooklyn Dodger couldn’t bear the thought of putting on the uniform of the archrival New York Giants, so he never did; at age 38, Robinson decided it was time to quit rather than accept a trade to the enemy.
Duke Snider. Another of Brooklyn’s famed Boys of Summer who, unlike Robinson, swallowed his pride in 1964 and accepted an assignment to the Giants, now located in San Francisco. (His road to the Giants took him through New York, where he played one year for the Mets.) Snider’s immense power numbers were left behind in Brooklyn and his one-year stay in San Francisco (.210, four homers in 91 games) was as frustrating as his time as a Dodger in Los Angeles.
Warren Spahn. When age finally caught up to the ageless 363-game winner in 1963he went from a 23-7 record in 1962 to 6-13, and his ERA doubled to 5.29the Milwaukee Braves figured the most appropriate place for Spahn to resettle would be the infant New York Mets, still losing badly under manager Casey Stengel. Spahn doubled as pitching coach but couldn’t save himself; he won four of 16 decisions and was dealt at midseason to the Giants before retiring at age 44.
Eddie Mathews. It was an odd sight to see the slugger who began his career in the archaic trenches of Boston’s Braves Field finishing out his career in the futuristic Houston Astrodome, but that’s where Mathews found himself in 1967 after 15 years with the Braves. A power decline that began with the Braves (not even the homer-happy confines of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium could save him in 1966) continued with the Astros for Mathews, who was traded late in the year to Detroit, where he finished off his career a year later.
Juan Marichal. Los Angeles Dodger fans couldn’t believe their ears when they heard, in 1975, that Marichalthe former Giant ace who ten years earlier became an unforgiveable villain for beating up Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro with a bathad signed as a free agent to play for the Dodgers. (Imagine Nancy Pelosi turning Republican.) Roseboro, by now retired, had to plead with Dodger fans to accept Marichal, and they didbut the 38-year old pitcher had nothing left and was released after two unimpressive starts.
Ron Santo. The beloved Chicago Cub, at age 34, became the first player in 1974 to refuse a trade (to the California Angels) citing the five-and-ten rulefive years’ experience for one team, ten years overallrecently enacted under the new collective bargaining agreement. Santo instead accepted a move to the crosstown White Sox because it would allow him to stay “home.” His one year on the South Side was terrible; with Bill Melton already stationed at third base, Santo was given the designated hitter role and hated it, batting .221 with just five home runs in 117 games. He retired after the season.
Harmon Killebrew. After experiencing a significant decline in production as he entered his late 30s, Killebrew was released by the Twinsthe one and only team he played for, over two decadesand took on a designated hitter role with the Kansas City Royals in 1975. Killer looked soft in powder blue uniforms playing on artificial turf and in front of sparkling water displays, hitting just .199 with 14 homers over 106 games in what would be his final season.Joe Morgan. Although best remembered as a Cincinnati Red, Morgan never looked odd playing elsewhere in the NL with stops in Houston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. But at age 41, Morgan skipped over to the AL in 1984 and gave it one more try for the Oakland A’s; he looked as uncomfortable on the field (.244 average) as he did in the kelly green and gold uniforms of the A’s.
Toronto Manny Leaf?
Farewell to Tom and Danny
Maybe Kim Jong-Il Subscribes to the MLB Network
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Our list of ten long balls that are the most deserving for their fame, importance and pure spectacle. Check it out now!
After Further Review: Making the Right Call on Replay