QUITE FRANKLY: Where have all the sports heroes gone?

Once upon a time, there used to be a sports hero for everyone, no matter what sport you followed. A figure you could look up to and count on, someone you could always rely on with the game on the line. Even in the face of defeat, your hero stands tall, because in your eyes, he can do no wrong. What happens that invincibility is taken away? Are you left with an image of glory or an image of wrong?

rivera-win-nyy2.jpg Today's sports world doesn't offer up many sports heroes. Sure, there is an abundance of superstars, but how many of them are the "model" superstar? What makes a player a sports hero? Is it determined by a game winning hit in the World Series?, a game winning basket to clinch a playoff series?, a game turning drive that caps a comeback and sends your team to the super bowl? As a fan, do we hold off the field accusations and behavior against our heroes thus deflating some of our fondest memories? That depends on who you ask and the circumstances surrounding the player.

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz was charged Friday with DUI and manslaughter after killing a 30-year old women. He will forever be known for his historic game tying homerun in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series off of Atlanta Braves closer Mark Wohlers. The Yankees won that game and won the series. That homerun is looked at as the start of the last Yankees dynasty. Does this reckless act tarnish his place in Yankee history? Statistically, no. Theoretically....ask Roger Clemens how public opinion can alter one's accomplishments. Just two weeks ago, Clemens was arguably the greatest pitcher of all-time. Now, after allegations and accusations point at Clemens using performance enhancing drugs, his place as one of baseball's all-time elite is uncertain.

Take a look around at some of sports' biggest names and decide for yourself if they garner the right to be called a sports hero:

jeter-four.jpg

  • Derek Jeter: (A personal favorite of mine) New York's favorite poster boy. Fame, fortune, good looks, and countless outstanding achievements (including his four world series rings) is as close to a pure sports hero as there is. Unless you want to count the accusations of tax evasion against him. It's hard to look at Jeter as anything else than the heart and soul of the latest Yankee dynasty, his dives into the stands, consistent clutch October performances and never say die attitude will always forever be apart of the Jeter legacy.

  • Manny Ramirez: One of the best hitters to ever play the game, but a lot of Manny being Manny might dampen his image. Of course, who could forget his bathroom break during a mound visit in 2005. Although he has brought two world championships to the Boston Red Sox, a feat not many have achieved.

  • Roger Clemens: Undeniably his work ethic and workout regiment inspires many, both in and out of the game but a black cloud hangs over him concerning his steroid use. Maybe his accomplishments weren't a result of hard work and determination.

  • Mariano Rivera: Another Yankee with an outstanding resume. Loyal, humble and a great example of a class act. His many records led the Yankees to four world championships, thus cementing him as the best closer of all-time. Right along with Jeter, Rivera seems to have it all to make him a sports hero.

  • Tom Brady: The model guy for the model NFL franchise. He just led the Patriots to a 16-0 season, first in NFL history. He has won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVP awards, has been invited to four Pro Bowls, and has the most touchdowns in a season. Not bad right? Did I mention he dumped his former girlfriend who was more than three months pregnant with his child and is now dating a supermodel? Wow.

  • Peyton Manning: Right along with Brady at the top of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. His consistent statistical performance has led many to believe he is one of the best QB's of all time. Though some consider Manning a sell-out for his over-exposure in advertising (Sprint, Sony, MasterCard, Gatorade, DirecTV, H.H. Gregg, the American Red Cross, ESPN This is SportsCenter ad, NFL Sunday Ticket and hosted Saturday Night Live) You can't knock the guy for capitalizing on his fame.

  • Lebron James: Today is his 23rd birthday and has quite a slew of endorsements (Nike, Sprite, Powerade, Bubblicious, and Upper Deck) for his age. He has already put himself up as one of the NBA's top players, has led his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, and is ranked at #1 in the Forbes Top 20 Earners Under 25 with an annual earnings of 27 million dollars. James has two children at the age of 23, not really a great thing to look at and promote.

  • Kobe Bryant: Another one of the NBA's best players. Has three championships under his belt, yet his reputation was tainted by a sexual assault case in 2003 and his endorsement contracts with McDonald's, Nutella, and Ferrero SpA were terminated. Recently, his on again, off again relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers has caused his home town fans to jeer him. Not much credibility goes to Bryant these days.

  • nba_a_kidd_2689.jpg
  • Jason Kidd: (Another personal favorite of mine) Was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2001. He led the Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances (2002 and 2003) and is considered to be one of the best players of his era. His presence turned around a laughingstock of a franchise into a championship contender. What goes against Kidd is his domestic abuse charge in 2001 and divorce with his wife. (During several games on the road, while Kidd is attempting a free-throw he is serenaded by a 'wife-beater' chant.) Great player, but domestic abuse? Not an interest of mine or the public.


There are other names I can put on the list as potential sports heroes but I do need to conserve space. There aren't any names for the NHL due to the lack of overall interest from the public on the sport. Hockey's biggest name Wayne Gretzky was involved in a gambling scandal in 2006. His wife was the one who drew most of the attention for the scandal. Gretzky hasn't been charged in the scandal. (So I guess I did get an NHL name in there after all). We all look to sports as a way to get away from reality, but we forget that nothing in this world is perfect and the same goes for our sports heroes. Whether you judge them by that one moment of glory or by their statistics, remember we are all human and nothing should take away from the greatest moments in sports and the people who made them possible.

(Frank's articles can also be found at OnTheBlockNY and HotStoveNewYork ).
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Former Yanks reliever tells tale of his drug use

The aftermath of the Mitchell Report has seen admissions and denials. Along with the admissions, we've heard the motives and stories as to why players decided to use steroids and HGH. In Sunday's NY Daily News, former Yankees reliever Dan Naulty tells his story of his drug use. An interesting piece, it's a definite read. Here are some highlights of his story...
amd_naulty-spring.jpg
"The night we won the World Series, I wanted to die. I didn't want to live. On the night that you would think was a big, happy celebration night, I wanted to die because my emotional state was in such disarray that I started thinking about suicide.""This is a story of a boyhood dream turning into a living nightmare. I had ruined my life, but at what cost?"

"Nobody ever told me, "Do whatever you need to do to gain weight." Nobody ever said, "If you've got to take drugs, man, take 'em." What everybody said was, "You're 6-6. Put on 50 pounds and you'll throw 100 mph and you'll make millions and millions of dollars." When I got to the professional level, I realized, "This is my last chance of playing. There's no other level after this."

"These memories have haunted me throughout the years."

"By day, I spent time with the Christians on the team and by night I was out on the town as a single man playing for the New York Yankees. That was my life. It was alcohol by night, amphetamines by day and steroids all off-season for years. It was a Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle. "

" The irony of this story shows what I thought was going to be a great life of fame and fortune turned into the destruction of other lives, and for me, a living hell - one filled with depression, anger, unhappiness, suicidal thoughts and God."

Life in the big city isn't always what it appears to be. This is just an example of how drugs can ruin you're life and your performance. Of course, that should be a given but for those that need to hear stories from people who lived through it, it should really open your eyes. Better late than never.

(Frank's articles can also be found at HotStoveNewYork)
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Rodriguez denies using performance enhancing drugs

"No" is the answer Alex Rodriguez gave in an interview Sunday night when asked about using steroids.

arod-bases.jpgIn an interview that aired Sunday night on "60 Minutes", Rodriguez denied using illegal preformance enhancing drugs and said he felt he didn't need them in order to compete.
"I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field," he said. "... I felt that if I did my, my work as I've done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."

After the Mitchell Report was released on Thursday, former slugger Jose Canseco said he couldn't believe A-Rod's name was not on the report. Earlier this summer, Canseco in an interview with WEEI in Boston said he had "stuff" on Alex regarding steroids and plans on sharing that in his next book.

I guess we'll have to buy Canseco's book to find out what he has. What ever happened to commericals and good old fashioned ads to sell your product? Apparently controversy does create cash.

(Frank's articles can also be found at HotStoveNewYork.com)
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Quite Frankly: Mitchell Report adds another black cloud

Sometimes when you try to fix something that's broken, you end up breaking it a little more. In the wake of yesterday's revelations from the George Mitchell Report, we can now say Major League Baseball has a major problem.

clemens-tophat.bmpIn the Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were amongst the names listed. Their names are now and will be forever linked to steroids thanks to their personal trainer Brian McNamee. Ok fine, I see where the connection here...their own personal trainer supplied them and injected them with steroids and HGH. That's the thought that immediately comes to mind. Sure, I understand that, but here's another thing that comes to mind.....where is your proof? This is where there is a big problem. Without having concrete evidence, how can the accusations made by McNamee be valid? In other cases mentioned in the Mitchell Report, there were detailed conversations, telephone records, shipping receipts and other forms of evidence to coincide with the allegations made. In the case of Clemens and Pettitte, where is all this? Where are the syringes, the bottles, the shipping labels, the receipts, the telephone records? Where is it? Clemens' attorney Rusty Hardin issued these statements on the accusations:

Via ESPN.com
"I have great respect for Senator Mitchell. I think an overall look at this problem in baseball was an excellent idea," Hardin said in a statement. "But I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report. He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong."

"There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today,'' said Hardin, who called McNamee a "troubled man."

We live in a society of innocent-until-proven-guilty and that's the way you should look at this case.

Pettitte's agent Randy Hendricks issued this statement:
I have advised Andy that, as an active player, he should refrain from commenting until we have had an opportunity to speak with his union and other advisors.......At the appropriate time, he will have something to say."

Via Jayson Stark, ESPN.com:
"....one attorney -- a man who doesn't represent players, by the way -- said the entire case is "all based on one guy [McNamee], and there's no documentation."

True, there are checks written by McNamee to the human smoking gun, Kirk Radomski. But the report tells us, right there on Page 174, that Radomski admitted that McNamee never told him that Clemens (or Andy Pettitte) used steroids or HGH. It was merely implied, Radomski said."

But the other attorney we surveyed said that in an actual court, a judge would tell a jury that the testimony of a witness like McNamee, who had made a deal with the government, was "not sufficient for conviction. There must be independent corroboration."

This investigation was suppose to be for the good of the game, what it's done, is tarnish the game itself and it's legacies. The report could still have been made WITHOUT the names included. What does the inclusion of names really do for this report other than damage the integrity of the game?
"The main points in this report are good. But he really could have written this, and drawn the same conclusions, without the names. And I wish he would have."
--One baseball man

pettitte-troubled.bmp Now you have the greatest pitcher of this era (maybe of all time) Clemens and the greatest hitter of this era (maybe of all time) standing side by side as the faces of baseball's steroid era. Was it really worth going through all this? Spending all this money on an investigation that seems to put baseball in another big hole, which it now has to try and fix? The answer is yes, if it's done the right way. This report in my opinion isn't comprehensive. There's no mention of Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. How credible is this? Sosa and McGwire hit 60 homeruns in consecutive seasons in the late 90's when baseball was trying to bring fans back into the ballparks after the strike in '94. It would be ignorant to think they were not on the juice those years as they shattered homerun records. You think MLB didn't think they were on some type of substance? They had a blind eye to the situation because the homerun is what intrigues people and brings them back to the ballpark. That puts MLB in question. Nonetheless, the investigation done by Senator Mitchell went back into the early '90's and there was no mention of Sosa and McGwire, so how comprehensive was this report. Their names do not appear anywhere in the 400 plus page report. That has to get you thinking. Don't release a report and start putting names into the public eye unless you get ALL the names, not just some. There were over 700 people interviewed during the investigation. I'm sure, as well as most of the public, beleives they're many more names that should've been included that weren't listed.

The intention of the investigation was to clean the sport up, get rid of illegal drugs and to bring baseball to a competitive and level playing field, for both the fans and the players. What you did was place an even darker cloud above the black one hovering over the sport. In the end, I beleive the average baseball fan will still show up to the games and still watch the games. People just want to be entertained, who cares what these guys do off the field or behind the scenes. They are entitled to do whatever they please, just as you and I in our everyday lives. Stop trying to make the game of baseball perfect. Nothing in this world is perfect, certainly not this report. Good job Senator Mitchell, I'd say thank you but I don't have enough evidence to show my gratitude. But hey, maybe that's good enough.
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No comment from Matsui over trade talk

matsui-giants.jpgThe Yankees have had dicussions this week with the Giants regarding Hideki Matsui. On Saturday, Matsui spoke publicly for the first time since his name was linked to trade rumors.
"I have not heard anything from the Yankees and my agent," Matsui told Sankei Sports, the Japanese sports daily, in remarks translated by one of its reporters. "I cannot comment about any reports or rumors. I am going to think about (whether to waive the no-trade clause) only when the team or my agent calls me."

"All I can do right now is to prepare for the next season. Especially I have to rehab for my right knee during this offseason."

According to a source close to the situation, the talks regarding a trade are in the beginning stages. The Giants have interest in Matsui (.285 average, 25 homers, and 103 RBI in '07) due to lack of power in their lineup, now that Barry Bonds isn't returning next season. The Yankees have interest in lefties Jonathan Sanchez (1-5, 5.88 ERA in 33 games last season) and Noah Lowry (14-8, 3.92 ERA last season). In the event a trade is pulled off, Matsui would have to waive his no-trade clause.

I don't think this is a move the Yankees really need to make. If it does end up happening the Yanks will see themselves with two new lefties, one being a reliever and one a starting pitcher. If you believe Matsui is on the downside of his career and is starting to break down, then you would have to agree with the deal. Trading a proven star for young talent is always a risk, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman has committed to youth this offseason, lets see if that trend continues.

(Frank's articles can also be found at HotStoveNewYork.com )
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Kidd returns, Nets still lose to Rockets

kidd-jefferson-upset.jpgOn Wednesday, Jason Kidd had the world's most famous migraine. On Friday night, Kidd returned to the Nets starting lineup, but that wasn't enough as New Jersey (9-11) fell to the Houston Rockets 96-89, at the Meadowlands.

The Nets played as if they all has migraines. They fell behind early and often. They were down by 10 at the end of the first quarter. It marked the 15th time in the last 20 games that they trailed by double-digits. The loss brings the Nets to 4-8 at home this season. Richard Jefferson scored 29 points in a losing effort, was vocal on his team's performance.

Via Julian Garcia NY Daily News:
"It's a joke," said Jefferson. "The fact that we even have nine wins right now is amazing to me the way we've been playing. It seems we've been down double digits so many games. I don't know what to say."

"The first 10 to 13 minutes of every game we're terrible. We're awful," Jefferson said. "It's almost a joke. I'm as responsible as anybody. It's frustrating because after that we either play even or better than our opponent. I think more times we've probably played better. It's just that we're trying to come back from such a deficit every single game."

The Rockets (11-9) did their part in making the game frustrating for Jefferson and company. Tracy McGrady scored 24 points, while Yao Ming scored 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds. The duo of McGrady and Ming have combined for 44.6 points a game this season.

kidd-worried.jpgNew Jersey opened the second half on an 8-0 run thus cutting Houston's lead to seven but never drew closer. Vince Carter led all scorers with 32 points. Kidd, missed Wednesday's game against the Knicks citing he had a migraine, played 36 minutes contributing 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Head coach Lawrence Frank said Kidd was playing with a head cold and still felt the effects of his migraine.
"I have a cold but I learned my lesson not to make a big deal about it," Kidd said.
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Pettitte returns to the Bronx for '08

The wait is finally over. Andy Pettitte will be back in pinstripes in 2008. He declined his '08 player option for $16 million last month citing he was either going to play for the Yankees in 2008 or retire.

pettitte08.bmpAccording to the Houston Choncrile., Pettitte told former Houston Astro teammates and current Yankee teammates that he would come back and play in the Bronx this season. Pettitte's agent Randy Hendricks has informed the Yankees of Andy's decision.
“Many teammates have called urging Andy to return as well as manager Joe Girardi,” Hendricks said. “It’s well known that the Yankees have publicly stated that they were ready for Andy when Andy was ready.”

The decision to return to the Yanks is a big one, as the Yanks' offseason agenda continues to progress. The agreements with Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and now Pettitte, assure New York that most of their heavy lifting this winter is done. Pettitte was 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA last season. He pitched one of the best games of his career in Game 2 of the Divison Series against the Cleveland Indians.

He spent his first nine seasons in the Bronx before going to play for his hometown Houston Astros. Pettitte returned to the Yanks last winter and signed a one year $16 million, with a player option for '08. A good move for Pettitte who returns to a rotation that looks to include 2 or 3 rookies. His experience and competitive drive will be looked at to hopefully help young pitchers Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain.

Andy has 4 World Series rings with the Yankees and has reached 7 (one was with the Astros in 2005). He has a career record of 201-113 with a 3.83 ERA in his 13 big league seasons. He has 2 All-Star game appearances and is 18-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 35 postseason games.

Pettitte's return is very much appreciated in the Bronx, by both the fans and the Yankees themselves.


(Frank's articles can also be read at OnTheBlockNY )




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Knicks rebound in comeback against Bucks

knicksnov30.jpgIt is only the first day of December and yet many people have counted out the New York Knicks this season. With everything that has gone on, why wouldn't you? Apparently everyone at Madison Square Garden last night didn't get that message.

A night after one of the worst losses in franchise history (104-59 against the Celtics), the Knicks responded with a game that showed hustle,determination, and heart.. They overcame a 17 point deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 91-88. After the game Jamal Crawford apologized on behalf of the Knicks to the hometown crowd for their performance the night before. Crawford along with Zach Randolph scored 25 points in leading the Knicks to victory.

Via ESPN.com:
"That's not who we are, honestly, and their support means everything," Crawford said. "So it was a tough loss and I'm glad we bounced back tonight."

The Garden crowd throughout the night had let their displeasure be heard, from the pre-game introductions, to missed free throws by Stephon Marbury, to the lack of defense in the 3rd when the Knicks were trailing double digits again and looked prime for another knockout. On this night, the Knicks woke up before it was too late. Marbury had 13 points until he was forced to leave the game in the 3rd quarter because of a right shoulder muscle spasm. His replacement, Fred Jones provided a spark off the bench, he scored all 10 of his points in the last quarter and put an exclamation point on the comeback with an infatic dunk leaving 0.4 seconds on the clock. Crowd favorite David Lee played limited minutes but his presence on the floor led to key rebounds late and also contributed to the Knicks late spark.

For Milwaukee, Micheal Redd scored 27 points in the losing effort. He had two chances late to put the Bucks ahead in the final minute but failed to deliver.
"I'm speechless," Redd said. "I'm more speechless about us losing three in a row, not that we lost to the Knicks. The Knicks are a talented team. We knew they would come back and fight hard. When you have a lead like that, you've got to be able to defend and put your foot down and take advantage of the situation, and we didn't do that tonight."

The Knicks (5-10) have won three straight at the Garden and have won three of their last four. Isiah Thomas' job is safe for another day.


Frank's articles can also be found HotStoveNewYork
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Knicks need to start over

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Mets get rid of Milledge

The Mets have traded troublesome outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Washington Nationals for catcher Brian Schneider and outfielder Ryan Church.

milledge.bmpIt's a good move for the Mets. They get the catcher they're looking for and they're gaining an outfielder that hit 43 doubles in 400 at-bats last season. Mets GM Omar Minaya likes his end of the deal as he interprets the trade as a step up in defense. Milledge was once the Mets top prsopect just a few years ago. Now after critcizing his teammates, coaches and the media, Lastings is gone.

A step in the right direction for the Amazin's. Get rid of a player who has more potential to get in trouble then his potential on the field. Good move Omar...even if you got back a bag of chips from the Nats.

My last memory of Milledge as a Met was that last Saturday of the season, when Dontrelle Willis hit a ball down the right field line and Milledge nonchantly played a double into a triple. Oh yeah, don't forget the fight he started against the Marlins that day..he said was trying to moviate his lifeless Mets. The Mets won that day, but when the season was on the line the next day...the Marlins went out of their way to end the Mets season. They did a good job, they scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back en route to ending the Mets season.

Good job Lastings...you moviated Omar to ship you out of town.
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QUITE FRANKLY: Just Fire Isiah

thomas3.jpgIsiah Thomas is still the Knicks head coach and still their president. There's a serious problem with that. The Knicks are 2-8 and on their way to another miserable season. We've already seen a sexual harrassment case against Thomas and Garden CEO James Dolan, a public war of words between Thomas and star point guard Stephon Marbury, Thomas throwing the team out of practice, and a team munity against Marbury. It's time for someone to take responsibilty and say enough is enough.

When asked about his status with the team and the current state of the Knicks, Isiah responded:
Via Mitch Lawrence NY Daily News:
"I just don't think that this is the time to panic, after 11games in the season.....This is not the time to just blow everything up and to say that the guys we've got here and the changes and the moves we made, after 11games, you judge it. That's not the way this league goes.

"Again, there is a lot of time here. I do understand the frustration and the venom and the anger, but that comes with the passion of the fans. When you get frustrated, the first thing you think about doing is making changes. But this isn't the time to make changes.

"Believe me, when that time comes, I'll be the first to say it. I've seen and been through a lot of situations in the NBA and this is not the time to abandon ship and make changes. We'll get through this."

When Thomas arrived in December of 2003 he came in and made changes to try and help a struggling franchise. He's traded overpaid stars, traded guys HE overpaid for, traded away several future draft picks, including the number 2 overall pick in 2006. He hired Larry Brown only to fire him a year later and take over himself. Dolan then proclaimed that Thomas would have one year to turn the Knicks around.....in March, Thomas signed a contract extension with the Knicks.

knicks072.jpgAnother accomplishment of Thomas' reign in New York was the infamous brawl last December with the Denver Nuggets. Thomas allegedly told his players to commit hard fouls beacuse Denver had their star players on the court during the final minutes of a blowout and he felt he was being shown up. An inicident that was disgraceful for the NBA and the Knicks organization.

A franchise that was once so respected and rich in tradition is now a laughing stock. Its time for Dolan to can Isiah and get rid of Marbury. How much worse can the Knicks possibly be without them? There's only one direction, and thats up and that's without Thomas leading the team. The Knicks are run as if they took those kids, who ask for your money for candy off the subway. How can anyone in their right mind run an organization like this? This is an embrassment to the city of New York. Madison Square Garden used to always be a hot ticket but it's no longer the place to be. For the most part people only go to the games so they can participate in the "Fire Isiah" chants. The Isiah Thomas New York Knicks are pitiful, woeful, disgusting, and horrid.

trademe.jpg It's time for a change at the Garden, start from the top and work your way through the organization and team. Dolan, wake up and smell the coffee. How much more of your money is Isiah going to waste? Thomas has commited crimes, has pushed people around the league and in the offices to the edge, he has angered a once loyal fanbase. It's time to listen to the fans (many who are Cablevision subscribers) and Fire Isiah. You've lost games, your pride, your diginty, your money and your fans. Firing Isiah can only make things better. Make the Knicks one of the NBA's elite again, make Madison Square Garden the place to be again....what more do you have to lose?

(Frank's articles can also be read at HotStoveNewYork.com)
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Richard Jefferson had his second straight 30 point game and New Jersey needed every one of them last night. A double digit lead in the second half almost disappeared, as the Sonics (2-11) made a run late but were held off for a 98-93 Nets win.

jefferson.jpgVince Carter back in second game since missing five games due to his ankle injury scored 15 off the bench. Jason Kidd added 14 points but Jefferson was the story. He also had 4 rebounds and 5 assists to go along with his 30 points. He is season average of 24.5 points a game is his career best.

Via ESPN.com:
"With all of us out there, it just makes us hard to guard and everybody benefits," Carter said.

In the fourth quarter with a minute to play the Nets lead was down to one. Seattle had various opportunities to tie but could not deliver. The victory was the Nets' second straight after a six game losing streak (five of those Carter was out with his right ankle injury).

Via Julian Garcia NY Daily News:
"You never take for granted winning, especially when we tasted six losses in a row, especially playing on the road," Lawrence Frank said

The Nets (6-7) finish their west coast swing Sunday in L.A. against the Lakers.

(Frank's articles can also be read at HotStoveNewYork.com )
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Rivera to agree on 3-Year offer from Yanks

According to the NY Post , Mariano Rivera will accept the Yankees 3-year $45 million contract. Rivera is expected to meet with his agent and his representatives today. The deal can be announced early this week.

riverastays.jpg If and when Rivera signs, Alex Rodriguez' 10-year $275 million contract will follow. A-Rod is expected to win his third MVP award Monday when it is announced.

There were many reports this week stating Rivera wanted a fourth year. It appears that Rivera will be just fine with the 3 years offered from the Yankees.For the first time in his career he tested the open market as a free agent. He has been with the organization since 1990. He along with Derek Jeter, recently re-signed Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte are the only holdovers from the championship years ('96, '98-2000). He currently ranks third on the all-time career saves list with 443.

The greatest closer of all-time will finish his career in the Bronx, which should make many fans proud. The end of the game still belongs to Mo and no matter what the price...he's still the best at what he does. Not a bad job by the Yanks top honchos. Posada,Rodriguez, and Rivera are back in the Bronx, now things should look a lot better for Pettitte to come back..the last missing link.



HotStoveNewYork.com
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Yanks now focus on 'pen

luis_vizcaino70216n.jpgThe offices down at Legends Field in Tampa are pretty busy these days. In the last week we saw the Yankees re-sign catcher Jorge Posada and close in on an agreement with third baseman Alex Rodriguez. They are also awaiting word from Mariano Rivera on whether he will accept their 3 year-$45 million offer. They offered free agent Mike Lowell a 4 year deal and now are prepared to focus on the bullpen.

The top priority logically would be Rivera, but in the event he decides to reject the Yankees offer and skip town, it's believed that they will look at Milwaukee Brewers closer Francisco Cordero as his replacement. The Yanks are also looking to bring back reliever Luis Vizcaino. Both are reprepresented by Bean Stringfellow. The Yanks have contacted Stringfellow on both players. The talks on Cordero have been described as "general", while talks on Vizcaino have some juice behind them.

Via Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News:
"They're interested in bringing him back and he's interested in coming back," Stringfellow said. "We agreed to talk at a later date, perhaps this week. We've gotten numerous calls on Luis. He enjoyed his stay in New York."

Vizcaino struggled in his first couple months in the Bronx. As the season went on, he became one of Joe Torre's most reliable guys out of the pen, until a dead arm hit him in September. Overall Vizcaino finished 8-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 77games.
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A-Rod in Pinstripes Should Make Everyone Happy

arodhappy.bmpAs the old expression goes "those who laugh last, laugh best". In the case of Alex Rodriguez, his agent Scott Boras, and the New York Yankees, who exactly is laughing last? One thing is for sure, they'll all be laughing their way to the bank. Yesterday Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed to the outline of a 10 year $275 million contract. It will be the richest contract in sports history.

There are many questions you can ask yourselves on this situation:

- Did Boras overplay his hand by convincing himself and Alex that there was $350 million out there on the open market?
- Was there ever $350 million out there?
- Did A-Rod come back to the Yankees to salvage his reputation or because he really wanted to be a Yankee?
- Did Rodriguez really decide it upon himself to reach out to the Yankees or was it a trick up Boras' sleeve?
- The Yankees said they would NOT talk to A-Rod or Boras if he opted out, didn't they?

The answer to all those questions is simple, 10 years $275 million. Money talks and in this case, there was a lot. The greatest player of our time (no, not Barry Bonds) will now finish his career with the greatest franchise in sports. Whether you love Rodriguez or hate him, he's now a Yankee again. We all have our opinions, our reasons and our facts on why we love or hate A-Rod but any way you look at it, this is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Take a look at it...

yankeeslogo.bmp The Yankees:
They get the best option to play third base. They get back the best player in the game. A-Rod's production from the right side of the plate can not be matched. His presence in the lineup keeps them with a true cleanup hitter and leaves Derek Jeter in the second spot and Robinson Cano in the lower third of the lineup. With Alex staying in pinstripes it now gives him and the Yanks endless possibilities for marketing. They will have their mega-star for their network and for their new stadium in 2009. It also adds to the legacy of the Yankees franchise. Once A-Rod goes into the Hall of Fame, he will go in as a Yankee. The best players of all-time have been Yankees, Alex Rodriguez will now be one of them.


arodinterview.jpgAlex Rodriguez:
Is known around baseball as the best player in the game, possibly all-time. This now personifies him as a New York Yankee and not as a rent-a-player. Years down the road he will be remembered for reaching milestones and accomplishments wearing the Yankee pinstripes, something that very much matters to Alex. If he can produce the way A-Rod can, then the burden of the fans will be lifted and they will shower him support and love. The Yankees are built to win a championship every year so it's logical to think that sometime over the next 10 years he WILL produce and help the Yankees win a World Series. He likes the attention and he likes drama...no better place for that then New York City. Oh by the way...he got a $275 million contract and can make up to $314 million if he breaks the all-time Homerun record, so how bad can that be?

boras.bmp Agent Scott Boras:
Super agent or not, he got his most profile client the richest contract in sports history..AGAIN. His payday for this contract will be around $14 million. Whether his bluff was called or not, his job was done and was done in a very public fashion. Say what you want about him and his tactics, but he still is leaving this situation a happy man. His toe to toe battle with MLB, the Yankees, and the media will no doubt draw him interest from other avenues (players,teams, companies), thanks in part for his aggressiveness and fearless approach.

The Fans:yankeefans.JPG
You either love or hate the guy, but now that he's back it's time to support him for the better of the team. He is going to do some amazing things within the next 10 years, things we will only get to see a few times in a lifetime, so sit back n enjoy. You don't see any of the young pitchers dealt away in a deal to get someone to try and replace Rodriguez. He will now be very much apart of the Yankee legacy and tradition. He is baseball's best player and he will come through in October, he will. If he didn't come back then realistically, who would be playing third base on Opening Day next year? Whoever it would've been, couldn't compare to Alex. You will be able to say in the future that you saw the greatest player of all-time play for your favorite team. Also, the way in which the Yankees have run under the new Steinbrenner sons’ regime has to get you excited. Their decisions have been based on baseball needs, not wants. They turned a franchise that was in shambles just a few weeks ago and turned it back into the top organization, all while being on the job for about 20 minutes.

A-Rod is staying in pinstripes and that should put fear in a lot of teams around the league. Maybe it was the best thing for everyone involved for it to be this way. How miserable would everyone be if it hadn't ended like this? So many things could’ve gone wrong if Alex would've left the Bronx, but in the end he did the right thing and stayed. It was the right thing for him, his legacy, the Yankees, the Yankees legacy, the fans, and his agent. Now, all he has to do is win a championship and life will be complete for Alex Rodriguez.
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A-Rod and Yanks close to deal

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Nets lose game and Carter

This was a matchup as good as the one in the Garden last night, the Nets' big three of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter against the Celtics' Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. You had enough pop and punch in East Rutherford to draw you away from the evening's festivies across the river.

vince-carter-injured.jpgFor New Jersey things didn't end up the way they had hoped. The big 3 from Boston got the better peformance and led it's team to victory 112-101 over the Nets. Not only did the Nets lose the game, they also lost Carter in the 3rd quarter. Carter sprained his right ankle after a dunk and landing on Pierce's foot. He would be escorted out of the arena after the game sporting a protective boot and on crutches.
Via Julian Garcia NY Daily News:

It's just one of those freak accidents that you hope is not bad," said Jason Kidd. "It could be severe, it could be mild."

The Nets trailed as much as 21, going into the 4th quarter. But Boston held on down the stretch. The big 3 from Boston combined for 73 points and 27 rebounds as the Nets big 3 combined for 62 points.
It's not just about the three of them versus the three of us," Jefferson said of each team's stars. "There were guys across the board who were having an impact."

The Nets (4-2) and Celtics (5-0) play again Wednesday night in Boston. Carter surely will be a spectator for that game, as his injury last night appears it will knock him out for at least a few days. More will be known today as his ankle will be further examined.


-www.HotStoveNewYork.com-
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A-Rod to Dodgers? Torre: "Its Possible"

According to Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez could be wearing Dodger next season. "It's possible," Torre said Friday before his annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation gala. Via ESPN.com

"You've got four or five clubs maybe that figure to be in the sweepstakes. There aren't a lot of clubs that are going to be able to pay the money."

arodwest.jpg If A-Rod decides to join Torre out west, he'll join hitting coach Don Mattingly as another former Yankee wearing Dodger blue, as well as former Yankees 3rd base coach Larry Bowa.

The relationship between Torre and A-Rod seems to be on good ground after this past season, which saw Rodriguez post remarkable numbers (.314 avg 54 HR 156 RBI).
"All I know is it was very comfortable for both of us," the manager said. "And I think my being uncomfortable came from the fact that I didn't think he was as comfortable. This year he just seemed to be a different guy in spring training."

Rodriguez is likely to pick up his third MVP in the coming weeks - his second with the Yankees. Whoever decides to pay A-Rod the $350 million he's asking for (and do you really think anyone will?) will be acquiring a great player with great talent. The questions will remain: Can he produce in the postseason? Is it worth spending that much money on ONE player? Is he a cancer in the clubhouse with his self serving attitude? These are the questions GM's and owners will have to ask themselves before handing out the big bucks for Alex. Or of course, A-Rod could always come back to the Yankees....pssh like that's gonna happen. I wouldn't count on the latter, but hey, stranger things have happened.

- www.HotStoveNewYork.com -
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A-Rod a Dodger? Torre: "It's Possible"

According to Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez could be wearing Dodger next season. "It's possible," Torre said Friday before his annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation gala. Via ESPN.com

"You've got four or five clubs maybe that figure to be in the sweepstakes. There aren't a lot of clubs that are going to be able to pay the money."

arodwest.jpg If A-Rod decides to join Torre out west, he'll join hitting coach Don Mattingly as another former Yankee wearing Dodger blue, as well as former Yankees 3rd base coach Larry Bowa.

The relationship between Torre and A-Rod seems to be on good ground after this past season, which saw Rodriguez post remarkable numbers (.314 avg 54 HR 156 RBI).
"All I know is it was very comfortable for both of us," the manager said. "And I think my being uncomfortable came from the fact that I didn't think he was as comfortable. This year he just seemed to be a different guy in spring training."

Rodriguez is likely to pick up his third MVP in the coming weeks - his second with the Yankees. Whoever decides to pay A-Rod the $350 million he's asking for (and do you really think anyone will?) will be acquiring a great player with great talent. The questions will remain: Can he produce in the postseason? Is it worth spending that much money on ONE player? Is he a cancer in the clubhouse with his self serving attitude? These are the questions GM's and owners will have to ask themselves before handing out the big bucks for Alex. Or of course, A-Rod could always come back to the Yankees....pssh like that's gonna happen. I wouldn't count on the latter, but hey, stranger things have happened.
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Pettitte Declines ‘08 Option, Yankee Career Over?

On Monday night, Andy Pettitte informed the Yankees that he has declined his $16 million player option for 2008.

andypettitte-thinking.bmpThe decision to decline the '08 option doesn't mean Pettitte's time in pinstripes is over.
"He told me specifically this is not about waiting to see what kind of club we have on the field and anything regarding the manager," Yanks GM Brian Cashman said. "He's earned the right to take some more time, as far as we're concerned."

It appears that Andy isn't completely ruling out a return to the Bronx in 2008, but does need some more time to decide. Pettite told KRIV television last week "It probably wouldn't be real honorable for me not to do anything other than if I shut it down, shut it down or go back and play for the New York Yankees."

At the moment the Yankees rotation looks like this: Chein Ming Wang, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Kei Igawa could be placed in the rotation if Pettitte does indeed decide to shut it down. Joba Chamberlain could also be another option in the rotation but his '08 status depends on wheter the Yankees re-sign close Mariano Rivera. If Rivera walks, then it is more than certain that the Yanks will throw Chamberlain in the closer's role.

The offseason of change in the Bronx continues. If Andy does hang it up and go home, it would certainly be a huge blow to the Yankees and their fans. The heart and passion that Pettitte brings will be missed. The last time we sw him, he was leaving with a 1-0 Yankee lead in the 7th inning in Game 2 of the Divison Series. That night we saw Andy Pettitte at his best. Could that have been his last game? According to Andy...only time will tell.
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Quite Frankly: A-Rod A-Bandoned the Yankees

Let's cut to the chase...Alex Rodriguez, you are the biggest PIECE OF GARBAGE that has ever donned the Yankee pinstripes. How the heck do you walk away from the greatest franchise in the HISTORY of sports? You greedy, selfish indiviual! You care about only one person...Alex Rodriguez. You only care about one thing...money.

arod-end.bmpYou have all the money in the world...you have the richest contract in the history of sports..you are the greatest player (maybe ever) playing for the greatest team ever in the greatest city ever! How much more could you want?? We gave you the support this year that YOU wanted, and YOU asked for. You finally produced and did things a $25 million a year player is suppose to do..put up numbers that are inhumane (.314 avg 54 HR 156 RBI). We did get on your case your first 3 years here, but that's because you are here to bring us a world championship and you have done NOTHING to get us close to that. The MVP year you just had means NOTHING! You know why?? Because our rival the Boston Red Sox, won the World Series last night!! How did that happen? That hadn't happened in the 86 years before you got here, and since you arrived in New York, it's happened TWICE!

You say you opted out because you want to be where you have a chance to win every year...that's an insult to my intelligence. The Yankees (and maybe Boston) are the only ones who have a chance to win EVERY year. The Yankees are built every single year so they can win a championship in October. What you said about not wanting to come back because of the uncertainty of Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, is complete baloney. How can you walk away from a team who was going to offer you $140 million for 5 years?? That was going to get added on to the $81 million and 3 years left on your current contract. You didn't even listen to the Yankees offer! How much money is enough?? What else do you want?

arod-by-himself.bmpYou could've been the best player of all time that played for the best team in history. You could've had your number retired along other Yankee greats and you could've had an Alex Rodriguez Day at the new Yankee Stadium. You could've gone into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee, but now all that is GONE, because you decided that $25 million dollars a year isnt good enough for you. You are making the biggest mistake of your career and you will always be known as a FAILURE! You couldn't handle the pressure, you couldn't produce in the grandest stage of them all...NEW YORK CITY. You couldn't win a championship wearing the Yankee pinstripes! You, no matter where you go, will NEVER win a World Series and I hope you NEVER get to play in one. I hope no team offers you the kind of contract that you're looking for this winter.

You wonder why so many people hate you A-Rod?? This is why: You make your announcement during the final game of the World Series, you try and take away from baseball grandest stage. I hate the Red Sox just as much as I hate you now, but at least the Red Sox earned their right to be in the spotlight. This is just another example of you trying to be bigger than the sport itself. You are truly a piece of garbage. I don't care where you go, but remember...you'll be back. The All-Star Game is in Yankee Stadium next year and we all know you're going to be there. I can't wait til you get booed right out of the Bronx and I hope you get serenaded with a bunch of obscene gestures and chants and it gets so bad that you can't show your face. That's what YOU deserve. You turned your back on the Yankees, the fans, your teammates and most importantly your legacy...I guess the only thing that matters to you is money...and in that case have your money...the Yankees have won without you and they will win again without you...I just hope you're in the other dugout one day to witness it firsthand.

Yankees Payroll Under A-Rod: Over $200 Million
Yankees World Championships Under A-Rod : 0
Yankees FIRST Round Defeats under A-Rod: 3
A-Rod Salary Under Old Contract: About $25 million a year
A-Rod Watching the Yankees Win the World Series in the Vistor's Dugout: PRICELESS


Some things money can buy...but what you can't buy A-Rod...is PRIDE. That went right out the door...and into the hands of the devil, your agent Scott Boras. I say get out of here, A-Rod. It's time for New York to win a championship...without you!
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The Bronx Starting To Feel a Little Empty

oct29.jpg

Not a good day if your a Yankees fan. This is just SOME of the media coverage today. It's been a busy few weeks since the Yanks were eliminated in the Divison Series. Also today, the first day that players can file for free agency, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada did just that. The Yankees are now on the clock with both players. The Bronx, really is burning these days..wow.
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BREAKING NEWS: A-Rod to Opt Out

arodoptout.bmpSI.com is reporting tonight that Alex Rodriguez will opt out of his record setting 10-year $252 million contract. A-Rod informed his agent Scott Boras of the decision Sunday. Boras then put the opt out in writing and left Yankees GM Brian Cashman phone and text messages.
"Alex made the decision today,'' Boras said. "I thought we should notify the club.''

If this story holds true, the Yankees are in need a new third baseman. The loss of Rodriguez will shakeup the Yanks offseason agenda. New York was prepared to offer Rodriguez a contract extension of about $140 million for 5 years, adding on to the $81 million and 3 years left on his current deal. The opt-out will mean an end to Rodriguez' tenure in pinstripes. The Yankees have stated that they will not offer Alex a contract should he choose to opt out and become a free agent.

The Yankees reportedly will announce the hiring of Joe Girardi as the new manager within the next few days. Now, it appears they will announce the opt-out of Rodriguez and continue an off season of change. It's only been 3 weeks since the Yankees got eliminated in the Divison Series and already Joe Torre is out as manager. A-Rod appears to be right behind him. The exit door in the Bronx remains open...let's see if anyone else walks out that door.
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Report: Joe IS Your Man

amd_newbackpage_10-28.jpgIt appears Joe Girardi IS going to be named the next manager of the Yankees. The announcement can come as early as today or tomorrow according to a report by the NY Daily News.

Gerenal Manager Brian Cashman holds the recommendation on who he thinks will best suit the Yankees managerial opening, and he will present that idea to the Steinbrenner family. One indication that Girardi is the favorite is that one source told the Daily News last night, that "in no way would politics enter into Brian's decision" , an indication Cashman is not making his decision based on popularity.

Also what seems to be interesting about this developing situation is that Cashman has talked to many of the Yankee players, even the free agents to be. They all have given their support and have no issue with any of the 3 candidates. That seems to be a big step in naming the new manager. For now, we'll all have to wait and see...what else is new...
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The rivarly continued last night at Madison Square Garden, even if it was still the preseason. Unfortunately for the Knicks, so did the Nets' dominance. New Jersey has beaten New York in it's last 6 meetings, dating back to last season. Both teams were playing in their preseason finale. After beating the Knicks on October 18th in Jersey, the Nets pulled out another win against their rivals from across the river, 102-86.

kiddny.jpgFor the first time since last December, the Nets had their starting 5 on the court. That included center Nenad Kristic and point guard Jason Kidd. Kristic was sidelined in December with a knee injury that ended his season prematurely. Kidd made his preseason debut after sitting out the first 6 games with a lower back strain. The Nets appeared to click on all cylinders, as Kidd was the catalyst for a fast paced attack, the type of motion the Nets are known for. Kidd finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 30 minutes.


    Via Matt McQueeny, NJNets.com


"He is one of a kind. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer. It is amazing the impact he has even in an exhibition game. He is one of those rare guys who makes everyone raise their level. Not only their energy level but their accountability level" Said Head Coach Lawrence Frank.

Vince Carter added 22 pts, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, Kristic helped out with 4 pts and 5 rebounds after sitting out Thursday's game against the Sixers.
"I had two good practices. I have done my treatments. I feel great and I am ready to go." said Kidd.

The Nets certainly hope so, he's one of the main cogs for New Jersey, along with Carter and Richard Jefferson. They will need all 3 to be healthy and play up to their capability if they want to make a run for the Atlantic Divison crown. Next up for the Nets, the season opener Wednesday night in Chicago, against the Bulls.
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Devils open up new home with loss

devils-prud.jpgLast night was the home opener for the New Jersey Devils and it was the first hockey game played in the brand new, state of the art Prudential Center. The new arena is nicknamed "The Rock" to go along with the Prudential logo, but the Devils defense did nothing close to being rock solid.The Devils allowed 3 third period goals on their way to a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The loss didn't send the sellout crowd of 17,625 home too happy.

Via Kristie Ackert NY Daily News:
It would have been nice, but I guess it was not meant to be," said goaltender Martin Brodeur. "It's a great building to play in. It's kinda early to tell, but it seems to have a great atmosphere, and the technology is a lot different (than the Meadowlands). It looked good."


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was on hand for the festivities in Newark. He mentioned how great the arena was and how it was great for the Devils, the fans and for the NHL. "This gives the fans of the Devils and the Devils a real home."devils1.jpg

With the score tied 1-1 going into the third period ,the Devils allowed goals to Shean Donovan, Mike Fisher, and Daniel Alfredsson . Ottawa owns the NHL's best record at 9-1. The Devils started the season on the road with 9 straight road games, tying Quebec (1980-81) and Carolina (1999-2000) for the longest road trip to start an NHL season.

The new arena marked a new beginning, for the Devils, for the city of Newark and for the NHL. If last night was any indication of things to come, the Devils might be thinking how good the Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena, the Devils home for the last 25 years) look now? Probably still not great, but at least for one night the new arena took away from the attention on the ice.
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Quite Frankly: Joe's Your Man

joe-girardi.bmp Joe Girardi that is.

It seems as though the Yankees and their front office, like to keep everyone waiting and guessing. By now, you should know what happened with the whole Joe Torre situation. After a week and a half of organizational meetings, they decided to "offer" him a 1-year contract with incentives based on his performance. An offer that Torre felt he had to refuse (1-year $5 million, with an additional $1 million for each round of the postseason he reached). The attention has since, turned to find a new manager. The 3 candidates the Yankees have in mind: Girardi, Don Mattingly, and Tony Pena. All of whom, are within the Yankees organization.

The Yankees conducted interviews with all 3 this past week in Tampa. Girardi on Monday, Mattingly on Tuesday and Pena on Wednesday. Who is the favorite to be Torre's replacement? That depends on who you ask. Hank Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman both agree on Mattingly being the favorite. Girardi's interview was said to have gone better than expected, while Pena's interview was in need of being exceptional in order to get high consideration.

The best choice in my opinion for the Yankees managerial position is Joe Girardi. And here's why:

- He knows the New York media and the New York media knows him.
- Girardi has some managerial experience, having managed the Florida Marlins in 2006 and won National League Manager of the Year. He kept them in the hunt for a playoff berth until September, a feat no baseball person thought was possible that year.
- He is a former catcher and it's known throughtout baseball, former catches usually tend to make good managers. He has an understanding for pitching and youth, both of which the Yankees are now trying to incorperate into thier success.
- Having been bench coach in 2005, Girardi had a front row seat to Torre's everyday decisions and daily media circus.
- He has an established relationship with many of the Yankees players, most notably Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. The latter 3, are all potential free agents, so his hiring might sway the free agents to be, to stay in the Bronx.
- He can be laid back but has an aggressive, in your face sense of managing, something the Yankees have arguably lacked over the last few years.
- This "Joe" also came in 1996 and replaced a Yankees fan favorite, Mike Stanley. So replacing someone who the fans loved is nothing new.
- Finally....he is a proven winner. He knows what it takes to win it all in the Bronx, having won it in '96.

girardi-mattingly.bmpYes, there could be many debates on why Girardi shouldn't be manager, but the same can be said for the other 2 candidates. I would go with experience if I were the Yankees front office. Not just any experience, but Yankee championship experience, something the other 2 men lack.

According to ESPN, the decision on who Joe Torre's replacement, might be announced as soon as Monday, if given permission by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, as Major League Baseball does not like to have any major announcements on the days of World Series games (Monday would be an off day for the Series.)

On a positive note, the last time the Yanks had a new manager named Joe, they won the World Series in his first year. Let's see if history repeats itself...Yankee Stadium needs to say goodbye the right way, with a World Championship, as it closes it's doors for the final time.. in 2008.
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Nets continue preseason with win over Celtics...still no Kidd

antionewright.jpgThe new look Boston Celtics came to town Tuesday night and invaded the Izod Center, formerly Contential Airlines Arena to face the New Jersey Nets. The end result was a 82-71 Nets victory. Celtics coach Doc Rivers decided to rest his main attraction, the All-Star trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. They weren't in uniform for Tuesday's contest as Rivers wanted to go with 8 players.

The Nets got production from Vince Carter who had 12 points and 7 assists as a fill-in point guard for the night. Jason Kidd who is the usual starting point guard was absent for the game due to a lower back strain, and back up point guard Darrell Armstrong sat out with a sore left ankle. Richard Jefferson scored 11 points, but did not see any action in the 4th quarter. Carter also sat out the 4th. Bostjan Nachbar added 15 points and Antoine Wright scored 14 in the win.

With the victory, the Nets are 3-1 on the preseason. They have two remaning preseason games,Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers, and Friday against the Knicks at MSG. The Nets open up the season at home against the Chicago Bulls next Wednesday, Halloween night.
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Joe Says It Ain't So

aabp015joe-torre-2000-world-series-celebration-photofile-posters.jpgOn Thursday afternoon the New York Yankees took their first step in a new direction. A 4pm conference call was announced and the Yankees Team President Randy Levine spoke. He offically announced that Joe Torre rejected the Yankees offer of a 1-year $5 million offer with a $1 million bonus for every round of the postseason he reached. It marked an end of an era and it was the beginning of something new.

You can argue that this was a move the Yankees should've made a year or two earlier but ask most Yankee fans and they'd tell you they'd prob prefer Torre as the manager. Who else can replace the man that brought back prestige and respectability to the pinstripes? He made Yankee Stadium the place to be the last 12 years. He instilled fear and imtimidation in the opposition. Or was that something the Yankee players did themselves? It was a combination of both, and that's what made it work. That's what got the Yankees 4 world championships in Torre's first 5 years. The unity between the team and it's manager.

Torre became a household name in New York. He was an icon. The same way we knew why Derek Jeter was a superstar, was the same reason we loved Joe...he won so much and won so often. So popular that his decision to reject the Yankees offer for 2008 had all the network news lead off with the story, helicopters hover over his plane arriving in New York Thursday, have a mass media frenzy in front of his house, and front and back pages of all the local newspapers. A key to Torre's success was his trust and loyalty to his players. It's one of the reasons why players like Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera,and Jorge Posada love him so much. Ironically these 3 might also be on the way out as they are all free agents at season's end.

Via ESPN.com:
"I love Joe Torre to death," Pettitte told Houston's KRIV-TV on Friday. "He meant the world to me. I hate that he's not going to be the manager.

torre-straw.jpgRivera told reporters a week ago that his status might be determined on if Torre was back next year as the manager of the Yankees. Posada also hinted at the notion the fate of the manager might affect where his plays next season.

Joe Torre has been nothing but class and eligence since his arrival in November of 1995. No one knew him back then, now everyone in New York knows who he is. Some of us grew up only knowing Torre as the Yankees manager. Some of us have only seen world championships the way Joe has seen them, '96,'98-2000. For me as a fan he made me want to bleed Yankee pinstripes. He gained my trust, he gained my confidence and he gained my loyalty, as I'm sure he did with millions of people who followed the Yanks the last 12 years. I truly believed Torre would make the right decision in the most cruical spots. And most of the time he did. It was impossible for him to be perfect but he was close to it.

Via Mike Lupica NY Daily News:
If this sticks, it was the end of Torre's Yankees and everything they have meant and everything they have been. And it was the end of George Steinbrenner's Yankees, just because nobody will ever believe he is really calling the shots there ever again.

It was the end of all that. It's almost as if Torre and Steinbrenner leave the Yankees together.

The Yankees will win again someday, maybe as soon as next season, with another manager. There is still too much talent around and too much money to spend, and everybody can see they have a farm system again, and young arms. So this wasn't the end of the Yankees. Just the end of what they have been under Torre.
yankeesx.jpgIt's true he hasn't won it all in 7 years but the job he has done over the last few years has shown his worth. The days of the (11-19) 2005 Yanks, the (21-29) 2007 Yanks are some of those examples. He once shipped out slugger Ruben Sierra because Sierra had a "me"-first attittude and that's not what Torre stood for. Sierra came back and was a new man and had a new "team"-first attitude. Darryl Strawberry once said Torre was like a father to him. Jeter likes to call him "Mr. Torre"..a show of respect and admiration. Now, after 12 years Joe Torre is gone and no longer the manager of the New York Yankees. He was poorly treated and disrespected in his final days as manager. Where was the loyalty for Torre? How could you let a man that brought you so much success dangle and be tossed around like that? Where was the class of the Yankees brass? I agree with Joe, if they wanted him to manage the Yankees next year, then he would be the manager. I am disgusted by the way the Yankees handled Torre and the way they've done business this year. The way they handled Bernie Williams and now Torre. At this rate Pettitte, Posada and Rivera..you might want to start packing your bags, these aren't Torre's Yankees anymore and that could be a start of a long way down from grace..and the Yankees took their first step.
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QUITE FRANKLY: All I want for October...is a RING

Dear NY Yankees,

I am writing to you because I feel I need to remind you guys who of you are. You are the NY Yankees, the greatest franchise in sports. Nothing will ever take that away, but if you keep losing then what makes you so different from everyone else? I wear my Yankee gear all year round proudly, but why do you feel the need to torture me in the month of October? I am there for every pitch, yet I feel you're not. You're there in body, but I wonder if sometimes in mind, if you're there.

I have spent the last 8 and a half months waiting for this time of the year. The time of the year when you guys are suppose to seperate yourself from the rest. I have seen all the good ('96,'98-2000) and all the bad ( '97, '01-present) and now, the bad moments are starting to outweigh the good. I'm a little worried.

Derek, you're suppose to be superman. You are the man I turn to and trust. You are there when I need you, but where are you this October? I need you to come through, I need you to be your self again. It's better if that old Jeter shows up late, than never at all. I need one of those Derek Jeter postseason moments. I know you got a few of them left in you.

Alex, where I begin? I don't care how much money you're making, but PLEASE get a hit, or 2, or 3? Whatever you do, PLEASE help this team win. We need to win now!

Roger, oh Roger can you PLEASE be "The Rocket" for at least one more night? With the whole world watching PLEASE show everyone why we gave you 28 million.

You are the guys I look to carry this team and get it going.

I need you to do this. I hate the winter and the shorter it is, the better. It's not even cold outside yet and you're gonna go home already? NO! I will NOT accept that. You are MY NY Yankees, you are everyone's else's NY Yankees! Play like you are. I need hits, I need sacrifices, I need diving catches, I need hustle, I need concentration, I need strikeouts in big spots, I need it all! I may be asking for a lot, but you are the NY Yankees, nothing is too much for you guys. You have no kryptonite, you have no fear.

I do NOT want to face months and months of football, hockey and basketball. This is our last chance to do something great, PLEASE do it. PLEASE win 3 in a row..you can do it, I know you can. The first round never used to be this hard, but it is and now I need you to come through or I'll spend the next few months questioning my faith and my love for you. I will always be there for you, now it's time for you to be there for me PLEASE oh PLEASE, don't go home tonight. Not tomorrow night, not any night, until we reach that 27th championship. If you can't do it for me, then do it for yourselves.....because you are the NY Yankees and NO ONE can take that away from you. I'll be watching tonight..are you going to show up?

Sincerely,
A Very Concerned Fan
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Yanks Season on Brink After "Invasion"

Last night was the kind of game that we'll all remember, but for all the wrong reasons. A swarm of Candian Soilders came into the game at the worst possible time. In the bottom of the 8th as Joba Chamberlain was about to start the inning he signaled to the dugout for bug repellent. The end result of the 8th inning was a leadoff walk, 2 wild pitches and the tying run scoring on the latter of the 2 wild pitches.

Via Jerry Crasnick ESPN.com:

"Just when you think you've seen it all, you see something new,'' New York shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I guess that's the home-field advantage for them -- just let the bugs out in the eighth inning. It worked.''

Last night ended with a 2-1 Indians win in 11 innings. Travis Hafner had the game winning hit after turning on a 3-2, 2 out, bases loaded pitch from Yankees reliever Luis Vizcaino. With the victory last night the Indians are now up 2-0 in the best of 5 series and are now one win away from reaching the ALCS. The series now shifts to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 Sunday night.
Via Mark Feinsdad NY Daily News:
"The only thing we can do is win one game at a time," Joe Torre said. "I know it sounds trite and you've heard it before, but that's where we are and that's what we need to do. We can't really worry about Monday or Wednesday until we get one under our belt."

What will be overlooked is the starting pitching for Game 2. The Indians' Fausto Carmona dominated the Yankees lineup through 9 innings with his power sinker. He was reaching 94-97 mph all night with it. His one mistake was a hanging slider to Melky Cabrera in the 3rd inning. Otherwise he was exactly what the Indians hoped he would be. A night earlier in Game 1, Cleveland's other ace C.C. Sabathia was wild and in trouble but never gave in and pitched just well enough to keep his team in the game and pick up the win. Carmona struck out 5, giving up 1 run on 3 hits.

Yanks' Game 2 starter Andy Pettitte was the guy Torre wanted out there. He felt comfortable with Pettitte giving him the pitching performace his team needed, and Pettitte delivered. Pettitte lasted 6.1 innings before giving way to Chamberlain in the 7th. All night Andy danced in and out of trouble, picking off Kenny Lofton on 2nd base to end the 5th and retiring 3 straight Indians after giving up a leadoff triple to Grady Sizemore in the 6th. Those were just some of Pettitte's highlights last night. His postseason experience proved to be vital as he made the slim 1-0 Yankee lead hold up.

For the second straight game, the Yankee offense was nowhere to be seen. Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is now 4-for-47 with no RBIs in his last 14 playoffs games. Johnny Damon, Jeter, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Robinson Cano all went hitless last night, a game that lasted 11 innings. The Yanks season is on the brink again in the first round for the 3rd consecutive season.

Via NY Daily News:
"We'll win two games at home and we'll come back here," said Pettitte, who gave the Yankees 6-1/3 shutout innings in the loss. "We need to win three ballgames and that's the way we'll look at it. We've been here before, we've done this before, and we'll have to do it again if we want to move on."

New York has Roger Clemens going against Cleveland's Jake Westbrook in Game 3 Sunday night. It's time for the bats to wake up as the Game 3 and Game 4 pitching matchups favor the Yanks, and that's even with the Yankees not knowing who's going to start Game 4 for them. New York's been down 0-2 in the ALDS before under Joe Torre (2001 against Oakland), and they were able to overcome the deficit. They've already overcome a lot this season, but now is the time to make it happen, in the House That Ruth Built, then hopefully back to Cleveland for Game 5 Wednesday night. 28 million dollars on a 45 year old, who holds the Bombers season in his hands...I think its time to give back, for one night Roger, be worth every penny of that 28 million.
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Quite Frankly: Don't Count Out the 2007 NY Yanks

The door has closed on the 2007 regular season, as a new door awaits to be opened...the 2007 MLB Playoffs. Not a lot of people thought that the Yankees would make it, but if you talked to anyone on the Yanks and anyone around them, they'd tell you to just "take it one day at a time." Sure enough, here we are..October baseball is set to be played once again, and the Yankees are the favorite to take it all.

The 2007 Yankees saw it all get ugly before it got better. Lowlights of the season:

-Yanks used 10 different starting pitchers used in the first 30 games.
-2 starts from Carl Pavano.
-Kei Igawa waste his 46 million in the minors.
-Swept by the Colorado Rockies (who saw them as a threat earlier in the year?)
-Injuries to Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Chein Ming Wang, and Bobby Abreu within the first 2 months lead to inconsistent play, which in turn reflected in the Yankees play and their position in the standings.
-Mariano Rivera had only 11 saves at the All-Star break.
-Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte called out fellow teammates by saying certain players weren't trying.
-George Steinbrenner put GM Brian Cashman on a big hook in June.
-The YES Network was even reportly up for sale.
-Jason Giambi had to meet with Comissioner Bud Selig and Congress steroid investigator George Mitchell on "stuff" he did.
-Alex Rodriguez allegedly cheating on his wife in Toronto and getting front page exposure for it and back page fame for yelling "HA!" while running from 2nd to 3rd.
-On May 29th, stood 21-29 and 14.5 games out of first.

These were just some of the things the Yankee had to endure this season...but ultimately things turned around, and not EVERYTHING was bad. Here's some higlights:

-A-Rod hits a game winning walk-off grand slam against the Orioles in the bottom of the 9th to win a game and 11 days later hits another game winning walk-off homerun against the Indians. He hit a go ahead homerun back in June against the Red Sox' Jonathan Papelbon to give the Yanks another victory. In August he hit his 500th career homerun.
-In May Cashman made a call to Texas to try and talk Roger Clemens out of retirement...well it worked. A pro-rated 28 million dollar contract got Roger up and ready to go. He was suppose to be the savior but we all know now who the real savior of the team was.
-The Yankees went on a 9-game winning streak, their longest since May of 2005.
-Joba Chamberlain and his "Joba Rules" made it clear who Yankee fans took to being the savior of the 2007 season. That may be a bit of an overstatement of hey, he helped alot. He was, and continues to be dominant in his role out of the bullpen.
-A September series against the Red Sox at Fenway made for things in the AL East to get a little more interesting. The Yanks took 2 of 3..one game coming back from a 7-2 deficit in the 8th inning against Boston's best relivers and another win came from the bat of Captain Clutch himself Derek Jeter, hit a go ahead 3-run homerun against Curt Schilling to propel the Yanks to a series win.
-Contributions from youngsters Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Chamberlain, Shelley Duncan, Edwar Ramirez and Ian Kennedy brought new life to the team and infected it with energy and hunger.
-Posada had the best season of his career. posting an average of .338 with 20 homeruns and 90 RBI's.
-The bench was resolified during the second half leading to a stronger overall roster that manager Joe Torre could rely on.
-Pettitte recorded his 200th career win.
-Played at a winning percentage above .600 for the second half, which lead to their surge into the playoffs.

The surge in the second half went almost according to the formula I laid out during the All-Star break in my post "The Bronx is Burning... 2007?"

The Yanks came as close as 1.5 games behind the Red Sox, but didn't quite get over the hump. They ended up with winning the Wild Card, nothing to be ashamed of, especially after the first three months of the season. Cashman and the Yankees organization did something that is very difficult to do..they dveloped their future, and remoded their bench all while still competing for a playoff spot. No team was hotter in the second half than the Bronx Bombers. This was Torre's toughest season at the helm and if the team keeps playing the way they did in the second half, then he and Yankee fans everywhere will be rewarded with a 27th championship.

"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." - Michael Jordan

The time is now. October baseball is upon us and it's time to end the championship drought. All the pieces seem to be in place. Only one thing missing...the championship trophy. Without that, this season and this article means nothing! Bring one home for New York and bring one back for the Scooter! "Holy Cow! The Yankees are World Series champs." New York awaits the final verdict on 2007.
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