A few random thoughts, baseball and otherwise, during vacation:
— If A.J.Burnett and agent Darek Braunecker can get a five-year contract – and Braunecker says they can – good for them. I’m all for players getting whatever they can. But after their experience with Carl Pavano, the Yankees can’t actually go down that road, can they? I’d much rather have Ben Sheets and his risk for two or three years than Burnett for five.
— Let’s assume for a second that the Red Sox really do want Mark Teixeira. Who is going to take Mike Lowell and $24 million off their hands? Oh, and he has no-trade rights. You have to wonder how much of this is true desire and how much is driving up the price for other teams.
— If Scott Boras ever gets tired of baseball, he should sign on with a political candidate. Nobody uses the media more masterfully or is better at changing perceptions.
— Joel Sherman of the Post had a good take on Mike Mussina on his blog. Moose was tough for reporters to deal with when he first arrived in the Bronx. He left as a “go-to guy” and garnered a lot of respect. Fans, meanwhile, benefited from his insight and his popularity grew. There’s a lesson in there somewhere for players like A-Rod. The energy spent distancing yourself from the press and public can be turned into a positive if you’re willing to loosen up.
— Free advice for the Yankees: Now that the team is going into the new Stadium, try something new with the in-game entertainment. YMCA and Cotton-Eye Joe have reached the end of their usefulness and are far more cliche than fun at this point. It’s also time to dial back God Bless America to Sundays only. Fans express their patriotism by standing for the Star-Spangled Banner and that should never change. Are the Yankees somehow better Americans by playing a second song? If that’s the case, than there should be a patriotic song between every inning.
— We’re hearing that the old Stadium won’t be torn down until next fall. A movie will be filming there in the spring and summer, it seems. It’s going to be a while before fans get to purchase seats and other memorabilia. Will the long delay reduce the value? I’m hardly a marketing guy, but it seems to me that the best time to sell that stuff would be now when the experience was fresh in people’s minds.
— Talked to three scouts who watched games in Arizona who all said Phil Hughes was throwing 94, 95 with ease. Now we need to see that in spring training.
— Lots of angst in Japan over whether Hideki Matsui will play in the World Baseball Classic. Having knee surgery gives him an out and the Yankees could demand he skip the tournament. But showing respect for the national team means more in Japan than in other countries.
— Here’s an interesting question, is Derek Jeter good enough for the United States WBC team? He’ll probably make it. But Jimmy Rollins, Stephen Drew and J.J. Hardy have to be considered, no?
— It’s astonishing how many people think the Yankees will sign three big-name players. The Yankees look at their inflated 2008 payroll as being the result of some mistakes, not a template to build the 2009 team.
— Bud Selig had former Fed chairman Paul Volcker speak to the owners last week to try and scare them into not spending money. It won’t work with the big-name guys. But players like Pudge Rodriguez and Jason Giambi might not get what they hoped.
— In case you missed it, Rutgers football bounced back from a 1-5 start and is now 6-5 with a winnable game against Louisville remaining. If you’re interested in the Knights, check out the Scarlet Knights Newzer blog. It’s the best on that beat.
— Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and his son visited the Yankees in spring training and told everybody how good his team was going to be. Now they’re 6-5 with a loss to Syracuse and about to get clubbed by USC. The more you watch Weis and Romeo Crennel coach their own teams, the more you realize what a tremendous coach Bill Belichick is.
— Barack Obama picked his entire cabinet in three weeks. It has been three months and Mike Francesa still doesn’t have a partner for his radio show. Kim Jones is obviously the best choice based on what I heard. Meanwhile Chris Russo has vanished off the face of the earth as far as his impact goes. If I’m listening to talk radio in the car – satellite or otherwise – I need to get some New York-centric updates and traffic mixed in.
— If you like the New York Rangers, you should be reading Sam Weinman’s blog Rangers Report on LoHud.com. Sammy knows his pucks.
OK, back to vacation.