We’re Back…

Hi everyone!

It’s a new year and a new “Voice of Summer”. In my other life as a broadcaster for various entities, I am now starting to do a podcast of my work. Stay tuned as the first episode will be up shortly.

The first show will include Phillies TV Broadcaster Chris Wheeler, who will explain what went wrong with the team last year and what to expect from the off-season moves heading into 2012.

We will also talk with N.Y. Times National Baseball Writer Tyler Kepner to discuss the current state of the Yankees and Mets. And when will the Mets ever recover from the affects of the bernie Madoff scandal.

So stay tuned. I will be posting the first “Voice of Summer” podcast very soon.

Dodgers Need A Divorce

With all respect to Holiday Inn, Bud Selig is NOT a savior… and he doesn’t play one on TV either.

But the commish may be in a spot where he saves the Dodgers and Dodger fans on two fronts.

Let’s face it, yesterday’s move by MLB to appoint someone to run the Dodgers is the ABSOLUTE last thing that Selig wanted to do.

He certainly doesn’t want to embarrass any of his owners o his players. But the situation with the McCourt’s and the Dodgers has become just that… an embarrassment. What is Selig supposed to think when Frank McCourt basically behind his back to get a $30 million loan from Fox, under the guise of a new $3 billion television contract.

And with the way that Fox threw around money at the Texas Rangers recently, I truly believe that the proposed new TV deal for the Dodgers will come to fruition. What, MLB is going to tell the Dodgers that they can’t collect all that loot, especially after the Rangers got their payday.

But what is more disturbing is that this is the second instance in the last several months in which an MLB owner finds himself in a very public (not private) spectacle. How soon we forget the Wilpon family talking about how they really didn’t have any knowledge of the Bernie Madoff scandal.

A couple of months and a few prospective investors later, the N.Y. Mets still are looking for an investor for fork up $250 million, so that the Wilpons can cover their backsides, should the Madoff special investigator need to open the lock on their warchest.

And now, the McCourt’s.

It’s one thing to have a divorce play out in the media. But it is a totally different animal to see one of the hallmark franchises in MLB 1) not go out and sign big ticket free agents in the off-season, 2) have the bleachers at Dodgers Stadium become akin to an MMA brawl  and 3) have the lead owner of that team playing a game of dodge ball with the man in charge.

And we know that the group that is MLB owners has been likened to an “ol’ boys network.” Just ask Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Whether you like them or not, the Dodgers are one of the beacons of baseball. It is similiar to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Fans may hate them, loathe them, despise them, but it is good for the game when they ate a good team (or at least a relevant team).

And right now, the only thing keeping the Dodgers from being a back page disgrace is the team itself. They have two of the best hitters in the league this year, in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. And their pitching staff has an early Cy Young  Award candidate in Clayton Kershaw. Hey, here’s a team that has won four of its last five games after a five-game losing streak  to fall to 6-9.

Sure, they are looking up at the Giants and Rockies right now. But there is this funny thing in baseball right now called the “Wild Card”.

Yep, that weird idea that Commissioner Selig put in more than a decade ago could be the Dodgers best friend later in the year.

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Nothing Else Matters…

I guess when you throw a perfect game and then follow it up with a no-hitter in the playoffs, as well as a Cy Young Award, you get an open ticket to just about anything you want in the City of Brotherly Love.

If Roy Halladay walked around Independence Hall, there might be quite an attention battle between him and Ben Franklin. OK, just kidding. Ol’ Ben can’t stick with Doc in the popularity department these days.

So when #34 takes the mound later this afternoon, Phillies fans will have one thing in mind… getting a win to start what they hope will be a magical run to their second world championship in the last four years. And nothing else matters.

Sure, the road won’t be easy. First off, the Atlanta Braves look like they are ready to make a strong claim once again to the NL East crown, not to mention the always-dangerous Florida Marlins. And then you have the other suspects in the Senior Circuit… Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals and Reds. But let’s not forget about the potential American League juggernauts in the way… Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Twins and Rangers.

But when Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro, Jr. went cloak-and-dagger into the dark night and stole Cliff Lee right out of the grasp of the Rangers and Yanees, Fightins fans have had one thought and one thought alone… win the World Series.

Nothing else matters.

Maybe that is a little unfair, especially with Chase Utley and Brad Lidge laid up for at least the first month of the season. But remember the slogan…

Nothing else matters

People are worried that this Phillies team might struggle to win the division because of those injuries, the loss of Jayson Werth, the struggles and injuries of Jimmy Rollins.

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Author Unknown

So maybe all of the questions will make this group of men a better unit in the end.

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”- Josephine Hart

And it doesn’t hurt to have Halladay, Hamels, Lee and Oswalt backing you up.

Opening Day

I spent 13 years in Minor League Baseball and their is no better day than Opening Day. You wake up with an anticipation that you have had since Christmas morning. The difference is that your gift this day is a three-hour visit to one of your favorite shrines.

I always remembered getting to the ballpark earlier on Opening Day. I would get there around 1:00 PM for a 7:00 PM game… to smell the grass… watch the workers get the stadium ready… place the bunting around the stadium… get their early to see that first lineup of the season get posted on the clubhouse wall.

And then the first pitch. And it all starts anew.

Baseball is a grind… 162 games, long road trips and late night (early morning) arrivals. But we love it because it is ours.

And by September or October, when we grow tired, we find that little bit extra to carry us through those last few games.

Legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell once said… “Baseball… it’s a game for men. But you have to have a lot of little boy in you as well.”

Nothing Else Matters!!!

See you at the ballpark… The Voice of Summer

Phillies Fans… Young Still On Radar

Have we not learned from the last couple of years that Ruben Amaro Jr. is like the old line about the Canadian Mounties… He always gets his man!!!

So the news this week that the Phillies inquired about Rangers third baseman Michael Young and his availability shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it also should signal something else.

Amaro, Charlie Manuel and anyone else involved in the baseball operations with the Phillies (along with the entire Delaware Valley) know that they still need a right-handed bat.

But what makes this an interesting prospect is that acquiring Young would fall right into the mode of what Amaro has done over the last few years – get a guy who wants out of the town he is playing in and BE ON A WINNER.

Amaro did it with Cliff Lee and didn’t give up much to get him. He did the same with Roy Halladay, but we don’t know the fates of those players traded for him. And now Young could be the next one in Amaro’s sights.

It is a little different with Young as he helped them reach the World Series last year. And who was one of his teammates? Cliff Lee.

And don’t forget that Michael Young came up through the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Hmmmmm???

Ok, so the Phils GM kicked the tires on the next potential big-ticket purchase and was rebuffed for the time being. But don’t think for one second that Amaro didn’t tell Rangers GM John Daniels the same thing he told Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, a couple of months back.

“Before you do anything, give us another call.”

His “close to the vest” philosophy sounds a lot like the one of Jolly Ol’ Saint Andy across the street at the NovaCare Complex. But the big difference is that Amaro has cashed in for one World Series. And is going All In for his second.

Young might be the best option for the Phillies to fill in that vacant right-handed bat slot in their daunted lineup. Sure we heard the lines about Ben Francisco and John Mayberry, Jr. But if you had the option between those two guys and Young, who would you take???

And from a financial perspective, the Phillies will be around $163 million when Opening Day hits. If they make a deal with Texas, Placido Polanco would have to be in it, along with some other pieces. But for 2012, Young’s contract at $16 million works because the Phillies will most likely not re-sign either Raul Ibanez or Brad Lidge, which is $24 million coming off the books. That would leave $8 million to go get an outfielder to play left field. It is also very important for the Phillies to find out what they have in Scott Mathieson and can he be your next closer.

So Phillies fans shouldn’t sweep the Michael Young story under the rug right now. Chances are we will be hearing his name again in the future.

How Messed Up Are The Mets???

Recently, the N.Y. Mets organization has come out to say to anyone that will listen that the Wilpon’s dealings with pyramid scheme artist Bernie Madoff have not hurt the team and won’t affect the day-to-day operations.

Memo to Jeff, Fred… No one believes you.

While I totally agree that the repercussions from this scandal will drag out over the next several years and that the Wilpon’s were the victim in this matter, don’t believe the PR spin that is coming out of Citi Field these days.
In fact, it is a good thing the Mets reside in Flushing, NY because you can flush all of this stuff right down the toilet.
Currently, the complaint filed by the special trustee overseeing the return of the money has filed paperwork to get it back. The complaint is sealed, so we don’t know the amount being asked to be returned. But with the Wilpon’s seeking to bring in $200-$250 million from a minority partner, you can bet that the amount they expect to lose is in the hundreds of millions.
Yet, new Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the Madoff case won’t affect the day-to-day operations of the team. Hello Sandy, it already has.
The Mets organization has been on a downward spiral for the last couple of seasons, both on the field and off. They have become almost an afterthought in the NL East, where the Phillies are currently on a 1990’s Braves-type of roll. The Braves have reloaded with young talent. The Marlins keep producing young talent. And the Nationals are trying to spend become relevant.
Then, there are the Mets.
Removing Omar Minaya from the Gm’s slot was a couple of years overdue. From a wretched farm system to Tony Bernazard’s tirade in a Minor League clubhouse, this organization has been dysfunctional, at the least.
Throw in some millions of dollars spent unwisely (see Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo) and the Mets have had to rely on the likes of R.A. Dickey to keep the team afloat. And now, the stadium is even taking hits as the Standard and Poor’s ratings service has downgraded the bonds used to finance the stadium to “junk” status. Some say this is because of the changes made to the stadium. I firmly believe it ends up being tied in to the Wilpon’s troubles with the Madoff scandal.
Look at the facts. The Mets aren’t going to contend for the playoffs any time soon, which means attendance at a stadium with overpriced seating is going to be much lower than expected. Less fans means less revenue and less money to spend on free agents or Minor League players.
And sure, the payroll will be higher ($133 mil) in 2011 than it was a year ago ($129 mil), but you get the sense that the Mets will be sellers on the trade market as soon as they can find a taker for contracts like Castillo, Perez and Carlos Beltran.
See how it all ties in. The involvement of the Wilpon’s in the Madoff scandal will affect the Mets for at least the next five years.