Here’s Bob Baum reporting for The Associated Press from the Owners Meetings in Arizona:
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Major League Baseball owners gathered Wednesday for their annual January meeting in the desert with one big item on the agenda — honoring Bud Selig in his final gathering with them as commissioner.
About 250 people were expected at a dinner in his honor Wednesday night, held in a huge tent set up on the grounds of The Sanctuary resort on the south slopes of Camelback Mountain. A series of speakers were lined up to praise Selig, who at age 80 will end his 22-plus years in charge of the game when he is succeeded by Rob Manfred on Jan. 25.
“He’s been great for our game in growing the game,” said Joe Torre, the longtime player and manager who now works for Selig as executive vice president of baseball operations, “just for his love of the sport and his respect for the sport.”
New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said there are three main parts to the legacy of Selig, who will become commissioner emeritus.
“He wasn’t a small-market guy, not a big-market guy,” Steinbrenner said. “He did what he thought was best for baseball. Sometime that went a particular owner’s way, and sometimes it went against a particular owner.”
Steinbrenner mentioned two of Selig’s major accomplishments.
“I think the drug policies have come a long way under him,” Steinbrenner said. “We have one of the best in the business now. And I think another thing you’ve got to look at is, when you run a company that deals with a union and for 20 years you don’t have a work stoppage, that’s a significant accomplishment. And I think that’s going to be a big part of his legacy, the relative labor peace that we’ve had.”
Selig walked through the resort from a meeting room on Tuesday but did not stop to talk to reporters.
Torre said he was 16 years old when he first met Selig, who owned a car dealership and had provided a car for Torre’s older brother Frank, who played at the time for the Milwaukee Braves. Joe Torre said he bought his first car from Selig’s company in 1960.
Selig became a part owner of the Braves but sold his interest when the team moved to Atlanta.
“Probably the toughest time in our relationship was me as a young kid, at 24 and 25,” Torre said, “when we were moving to Atlanta and had to stay (in Milwaukee) for the ’65 season.”
Selig, Torrre said, ‘was bitter and unhappy” but through the years maintained a relationship with stars of that team.
“Then it was no surprise when the (Seattle) Pilots relocated there, because he was determined to do that.”
The Pilots were awarded to Selig and his investors in bankruptcy court just before the 1970 season and the team was renamed the Brewers.
Selig was still the Brewers’ principal owner when he helped lead the group that forced Commissioner Fay Vincent’s resignation in 1992. Selig was voted chairman of the executive council, becoming baseball’s top official, and repeatedly said he wouldn’t become commissioner. When he was elected commissioner in 1998, he transferred control of the team to daughter Wendy Selig-Prieb. Selig’s family sold the Brewers to Mark Attanasio in 2005.
When Selig first took over MLB, Torre thought he’d have an inside track with the boss.
“My first World Series in ’96 we got rained out the first game, so it eliminated the day off,” Torre said, recalling when he managed the Yankees against Atlanta. “I remember we started on a Sunday and a Monday and then I called him. I said ‘It’s not fair we don’t get a day off. … He told me ‘sorry.’”
Associated Press photo
Pregame notes: Baseball mourns Frank Torre • 09.13.14
Joe Torre’s brother has passed away.
Frank Torre was 82, and his health problems were well documented during Joe’s stint as Yankees manager. Frank was not healthy enough to travel to Yankee Stadium for Joe’s number retirement earlier this season. For whatever it’s worth, I have a sister who I’m incredibly close to, and I always enjoyed hearing Joe talk about his brother. In the best of situations, a sibling relationship can be extremely powerful. Our thoughts are obviously with Joe and the Torre family.
Here’s a statement from baseball commissioner Bud Selig:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Frank Torre, a close friend for nearly 60 years and a man who marked the start of a great baseball family. Before my career in baseball began, Frank and I formed a friendship that endured for decades, and I was touched to speak with him yesterday. Some of the fondest memories of my life involve Frank’s Milwaukee Braves teams from 1956-1960, and his great play in the 1957 Fall Classic was one of the keys to bringing the World Series Championship to my hometown. Frank’s longtime support of the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps the members of the baseball family who are in need, was an illustration of how much he cared about our game and the people who are a part of it.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Frank’s children and grandchildren, to Joe and Ali Torre, to Frank’s sisters and to his many friends and admirers throughout our game.”
• Chase Headley is going to work out today. If that goes well, he’ll take batting practice tomorrow. Joe Girardi said the earliest he would consider putting Headley back in the lineup would be Monday. “We’ll see where we’re at (after he hits on Sunday),” Girardi said.
• Second straight game for Jacoby Ellsbury at DH. “(He’s) just played a lot,” Girardi said. “We haven’t had any problems with his ankle, but he is coming off an ankle sprain and didn’t sit out very long, so I figured I would just DH him again today.”
• All’s well with Masahiro Tanaka. Still on track to pitch in that instructs game on Monday.
• For a while there, Shane Greene was routinely pitching to Francisco Cervelli. But Cervelli is still not back in the lineup after suffering those headaches earlier in the month. “He is getting closer, yes,” Girardi said. “He has been doing a lot of things, catching in the bullpen, and has reported no issues. He is closer.” Girardi said that, because of the nature of the problem — Girardi is sympathetic to migraine sufferers; worth noting there’s also a concussion history in play — he’s trying to be extra cautious with Cervelli.
• This late in the season, is Girardi planning to simply play Derek Jeter every day through the end of his career? “No, I know I can’t do that,” Girardi said. “It’s 20 games in a row or 20 days in a row physically, it would be silly to do that, so I’m going to have to give him a day here and there.”
• There is still hope that Carlos Beltran will be able to play again this season. “Each day he’ll try to do more and I’ll have a better idea what he can do,” Girardi said. “He took swings yesterday. I have not talked to him today, but I would think he would try to take more today if he felt OK when he came in. We want him back as soon as we can get him, but he’s got to feel OK.”
• Quiet clubhouse this morning, but to be honest, I’d expect it to be that way regardless of what happened yesterday. A day game after a doubleheader — which came after a late night of travel — isn’t exactly a recipe for a lively bunch of ballplayers. Of course, being swept in that doubleheader and falling in farther from contention isn’t likely boost the team’s spirits either. “I don’t think you have any choice but to keep fighting,” Girardi said. “Other teams are having their issues, as I said yesterday. Why not? You run off a streak and all of a sudden you’re back in it. Yesterday was physically a hard day, and it was mentally a hard day, but the team has bounced back before and I expect them to do it.”
Associated Press photo
Images from today’s Joe Torre ceremony • 08.23.14
Just a few images from today’s pregame ceremony…
Associated Press photos
Yankees postgame: Girardi frustrated • 07.27.14
Joe Girardi wasn’t thrilled over these last two games. The Yankees had beaten Toronto 17 straight times at Yankee Stadium, but they lost 6-4 Saturday and then 5-4 Sunday.
“It’s a team we’re fighting with obviously and it’s a frustrating loss,” Joe Girardi said after they fell a game back of the Blue Jays for the second wild card. “We fought back a number of times and we were never able to get a lead.
“Our miscues is what cost us in this series, really, when you look at. We’ve got to be better at that.”
David Robertson had a mental lapse in the ninth, leading to the go-ahead run. Jose Bautista was on first with two outs and stole second without a throw, leading to Dioner Navarro’s tiebreaking single.
“He can’t let a guy get a walking lead,” Girardi said.
“I just let him slip,” Robertson said. “I didn’t think he’d be going.”
Bautista said: “I know there was two outs and I figured it’s going to have to be a pretty long extra-base hit for me to score from first because I’m not the fastest guy on the team.”
This was the first game in which Robertson and Dellin Betances each surrendered at least one run. Betances had a big mess-up, too.
He walked Colby Rasmus on four pitches to open the eighth in a 3-3 game. Before Betances knew it, Rasmus was on third with no outs because of the wild pickoff throw to first.
“My cleat got stuck,” Betances said. “As soon as that happened, I had a feeling I was going to throw it away.”
Shane Greene departed after giving up an RBI double to Rasmus with one out in the sixth, making it 3-2 Jays.
“I’ve got to have a short memory, but that one hurt,” Greene said.
The Yankees have now failed to score more than four runs in 12 of the last 14 games.
There was a hitter in the ballpark who could help. Colorado All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who’s the subject of trade speculation, is on the DL with a hip flexor problem. He was back East to see a doctor in Philadelphia. Tulowitzki is a big Derek Jeter fan. He told The Denver Post he wanted to see Jeter play once last time.
Jeter said he wasn’t aware of it. The Post story said a Tulowitzki trade to the Yankees wasn’t imminent.
Jeter also said he had reached out Saturday to Joe Torre, who went into the Hall of Fame Sunday.
“I don’t think I’d be where I am now if it wasn’t for him,” Jeter said.
Here’s what I wrote for Lohud.com and The Journal News on the happenings at the Stadium Sunday and the big picture.
Photo by The Associated Press.
The state of the homestand has been excellent, 7-1 with two games to go. Not the offense has steadily hummed. That has been a problem all season.
But the Yankees take a four-game winning streak into today’s game with the Blue Jays, and their last five wins have all featured comebacks.
“We’ve played good baseball,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve had some timely hitting. We’ve pitched extremely well. You look at a lot of the scores, they’ve been fairly low-scoring games. Our bullpen has continued to do a good job. Our starters have done a good job. You look at (Hiroki Kuroda’s) night last night, he gives up three in the first and then he pretty much shut them down the rest of the game and gave us a chance to come back. I think that’s the important thing. We’ve been able to come back in some of the games.
“But it’s just I think our pitching has been really good. You look at this homestand and that’s one of the reasons we’ve won a lot of games.”
Chris Capuano will make his Yankees debut in this game. The 35-year-old lefty got stretched out over four starts in the Rockies’ system after relieving for the Red Sox before his July 1 release. Girardi said he could be used for about 100 pitches.
“This guy is a competitor,” Girardi said. “He knows what he’s doing out there.”
Mark Teixeira isn’t scheduled for baseball activities today. Girardi said Teixeira may try to test his back with tee and toss tomorrow and then the Yankees could decide whether he needs to be put him on the DL or will be good to go again very soon.
Brian Roberts owns a team-high 10 errors. The veteran second baseman has looked especially shaky in the field lately.
“He’s just going through some things that fielders probably go through,” Girardi said. “I don’t really have any concerns about it.”
The man Girardi replaced in this job, Joe Torre, is going into the Hall of Fame Sunday along with Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox.
“I think it’s great how they’re going in, the three of them together,” Girardi said. “You’re talking about three great managers who have had a ton of success. I had a chance to play for two of them (Torre and La Russa), which was really pretty neat for me, and be able to pick their brains as much as I did. So I feel really fortunate. But it’s three guys that are well deserving, not only who have been great managers but have been great men. I think when you talk to the players that have played for them, they would say they learned a lot and look up to them.
“I’ve always tried to keep a fairly even demeanor. I had that as a player, but I saw the important of it from Joe as a manager, how important it is to keep that even demeanor. There are days that you’re going to be happier than others, but you have to be the same guy every day. When I looked at Tony La Russa, it was just the preparation that he did in watching him. You talk about ideas that had validity and the way he used the bullpen. There’s a lot to learn from all these guys.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Old-Timers’ Day • 06.22.14
There are three first-time Old-Timers here today, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and John Montefusco.
Matsui said through his old interpreter Roger Kahlon that he’s basically relaxing and enjoying retirement. So Matsui was naturally asked what advice he would give the retiring Derek Jeter.
“He’s got to find a wife, first and foremost,” Matsui said.
Joe Torre is here today and he’s bound for the Hall of Fame next month. He acknowledged Jeter’s role.
“I wouldn’t be going to have a Hall of Fame speech unless he was here,” Torre said.
“It’s something that hasn’t really settled in for me yet.”
The introductions are going on now. Then comes the Goose Gossage plaque ceremony, then the Old-Timers’ Game, then Tanaka time.
As for the current team, Joe Girardi again sounded down on the idea of moving Adam Warren into the rotation to replace Vidal Nuno.
“In a sense, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Girardi said. “Whereas Warren has been able to help us twice out of every five days, you’re only going to get one start every five days. He’s been extremely important to our success in the bullpen. I know he’s been talked about a lot, but our rotation is what it is.”
Michael Pineda is still sticking to his dirt story to explain that shiny spot on the palm of his hand during Thursday night’s brilliant start against the Red Sox. The picture above is from the first inning. Joe Torre plans on speaking to the Yankees about it, though, since the speculation was that it was pine tar to improve his grip on the ball, a foreign substance that’s supposed to be a no-no.
Pineda said he put dirt on his hand because it was sweaty. But even if it were pine tar, Pineda doesn’t have to worry about some sort of suspension coming down.
Here’s MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre’s statement to the AP:
“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox. Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”
(Torre did talk to Brian Cashman and Cashman said it’s now “a resolved issue.”)
Joe Girardi said he’s focusing on managing tonight’s game. “As far as the other thing, I have not heard from Joe Torre, and I’m not worried about it,” he said.
Girardi said he did speak to Pineda, but not about this situation.
“I don’t talk to pitchers about that, like, ‘Do you use or don’t you use?’ ” Girardi said. “I mean, this is not a recreational drug. So I don’t talk to people about that.
“I’m aware. I’ve been on teams where I’ve seen it. I’m 99 percent sure that I know of guys on other teams that use it, and I just haven’t said anything. So will we talk to Michael? If we did, I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”
But if using pine tar just helps the grip but doesn’t have an impact on pitch movement, and some believe it doesn’t, should the rule be changed?
“The way we’re addressing rules now, I think we could address that and get some clarity on it,” Girardi said. “It would probably be helpful.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said the substance was gone from Pineda’s hand for the fifth inning.
“I’m sure every pitcher does it for purposes of getting a better grip or whatever, but last night was flat-out blatant,” Shane Victorino said.
On another topic, Girardi said he expects Mark Teixeira back by May 1, but Cashman wouldn’t commit to that timetable. Cashman said Brendan Ryan wouldn’t be back this month. Ryan has been doing some light baseball activities on the way back from his back problem.
“It’s improving,” Girardi said, “but he’s still a ways away from games.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Roger Clemens was one famous former Yankee not at Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers’ Day Sunday. Clemens, as we all know, was recently found not guilty of lying to Congress in his denial of using performance-enhancing drugs. He will be on the Hall of Fame ballot later this year, but will the 354-game winner be a Hall of Famer?
“He is to me,” Joe Torre said. “I can’t make other people look at him.”
Torre liked having him on his side with the Yankees, but he knows the stigma on Clemens isn’t going away despite the verdict.
“I’m a little prejudiced on Clemens,” Torre said. “He was like a son to me. Unfortunately the question mark is always going to be there with him.
“It’s something that’s sad for me because Roger Clemens and the way he went about his business — and I disliked him like everybody else until I got a chance to know him. He was a great teammate to these guys. He was very devoted to the team he was playing on, and I always respected that. The closeness, I’ll always have with him. I’m just happy that he’s got a chance to exhale now.”
Willie Randolph said: “Roger, to me, is a great friend, a tremendous warrior. I’d like to see him get back in the game.”
Perhaps the Yankees and Clemens will reconnect at some point, like the team did with Torre and Bernie Williams after they left.
“That’s something that the organization deals with and they determine when the right time is,” Joe Girardi said. “I think as time goes on, they’ll make a decision on what the best thing is to do. But we’ve had a lot of players that have went through difficult times and come back, and they’ve been welcomed back. So I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen. But Roger was a great Yankee.”
How do you think fans would react to Clemens if he made a reappearance at Yankee Stadium? And should he be voted into the Hall of Fame?
Yankees pregame: Old-Timers’ Day • 07.01.12
Brian Heyman here for Chad again today. The Yankees from glory days and not-so-glory days are here, too, for Old-Timers’ Day.
There were loud ovations during the ceremony, especially for the usual fan favorites as they trotted out onto the broiling field, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Joe Torre. There were the usual loud cheers for the two Hall of Famers who rode in together in the back seat of a cart from center field to behind home plate, 87-year-old Yogi Berra and 83-year-old Whitey Ford. They stayed in the cart and waved. The Old-Timers’ Game is in progress.
“The interesting thing is you get a chance to see a lot of your teammates that you played with and had success,” Joe Girardi said. “And then you always get a chance to see the guys who came before us and had a ton of success. I absolutely love it. … I always like seeing guys that I played with and busting their chops about being Old-Timers. That’s enjoyable to me.”
Girardi reflected about his success here.
“I’ve always thought about my World Series rings as for my kids,” Girardi said. “I made a joke with my wife one day (after) we won the World Series in 1996 and ’98 and we were playing in the playoffs in 1999. I said, ‘That will determine if we have another child or not.’ Sure enough we did. But I’ve got to tell you, I don’t plan on having a fourth one. As a manager, it doesn’t count. But I think the final game in 1996, the first time you have a chance to realize that dream is probably my fondest memory.”
Torre talked about Jeter’s shot at reaching 4,000 hits, seeing it as a long shot. The Captain is at 3,185.
“When people start talking about 4,000, it’s probably out of reach,” Torre said. “But I never question anything this kid has set his mind to, so we’ll see. He has a long way to go. This game is not easy to play on an everyday basis … I don’t think he’s going to hang around for a personal record unless he’s able to contribute to his team doing well.”
A-Rod is not in the lineup today, but it’s just a day off.
“We’re going to go to three days on turf (at Tampa Bay), and then we’re going to have a day off and we have a split doubleheader (in Boston) on Saturday,” Girardi said. “So I’m doing what I can to keep him fresh and trying to be cognizant of the other guys as well.”
Girardi hopes that CC Sabathia will play catch this week with the Yankees on the road.
Monday night notes and links • 06.27.11
I have very few absolute rules in life, but one of them is this: If the AP has a cool picture of Yogi Berra and Don Larsen together in the Yankees dugout on Old Timers’ Day, I should find a place for it on the blog.
So, as we’re wrapping up the Yankees final off day until the all-star break, we’ll start with a picture of the catcher and pitcher together again.
Naturally, the return of Joe Torre grabbed the headlines today. Some of Torre’s history might be tainted, but in the end, I think John Harper’s column today was right on the money: Whatever your take on Torre’s book, it’s silly to ignore his place in the franchise’s history. I think it’s possible to be disappointed in the book, but still celebrate the legacy. That seems to be what the Yankees did in inviting Torre to yesterday’s event.
Anyway, here are few more notes and links for the day. The Yankees get back on the field tomorrow against the Brewers.
• Back in Scranton, my old darts playing partner Marty Myers caught up with the one-armed military veteran who made a highlight catch at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Michael Kacer is from the Scranton area, lost his left arm in a rocket attack in Afghanastan and made a now famous leaning catch with his cap. Great story.
• Here’s a really nice read about Eduardo Nunez’s role on the Yankees and his part in Sunday’s win. It’s written by one of the finest writers and reporters I know.
• Dante Bichette Jr. is getting the full Yankees experience down in Tampa. He seems to be enjoying working alongside Derek Jeter.
• Over at Baseball Prospectus, Jay Jaffe looked at the Yankees struggles against pitchers they’ve never seen. It’s not as much of a problem this year as it was last year.
• River Ave. Blues looked ahead to the 40-man spots that could open when injured Yankees come off the disabled list. I tend to agree with their list. I’d put Buddy Carlyle, Kanekoa Texeira and Brian Gordon at the top of the list of guys who could be removed to open a spot, though Gordon could certainly pitch his way into sticking around as a long man.
• This one’s a few days old, but with Derek Jeter taking some swings today, it seems to apply: The Hardball Times looked at other players — like Jeter — who have experienced an extended wait while on the verge of a major milestone.
• In the final NL voting update before the all-star rosters are announced, Rickie Weeks has moved ahead of Brandon Phillips in the race for second base.
• I failed to mention it until now, but the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center reopened last week after being closed for nearly a year for extensive renovations.
Associated Press photos