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Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: Using ScoreBig to score tickets

Squawker Jon and I are going to see the Mets take on the Los Angeles Dodgers next month, and we'll hopefully see Yasiel Puig at CitiField (as long as he hasn't gotten benched for being a knucklehead, that is!) We have pretty good seats -- field level silver box tickets along the left field side, not just with a good view of the action, but a close proximity to Shake Shack!

We got the tickets courtesy of a new ticket company called ScoreBig, who asked us to test out their services. If you have ever used Priceline, you may have a sense of how ScoreBig works. The company offers sporting events, concerts, and theater seats with its service. Seats for an event are ranked by starred levels -- one-star seats will be the cheapest, and with the fewest amenities, while five-star seats will be the top seats. Depending upon the event, there may also be specific listings for suites and other specific areas. While you do not get to pick the actual seats or section you are in, you get to see a map for each starred level which lets you know where your seats may be located.

And much like Priceline, you make a bid on how much you are willing to spend, and learn instantly whether your bid will be accepted or not. You don't want to bid too high, or too low, on your tickets. Think about what you are willing to spend on the tickets, and what you think would be a good deal for the type of seats.

Needless to say, the more popular the events, the more you might potentially have to pay -- Subway Series tickets are at a premium. But there are plenty of tickets available for those on a budget as well.

Jon and I put in a bid for $50 a ticket for 3-star seats at CitiField, and got the field level seats. What's more, we instantly got a rebate on the tickets after our offer was accepted, which means that the tickets actually cost under $45! Sweet!

Anyhow, if you want to check out ScoreBig for yourself, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is John Sterling's Dean Anna home run call his worst ever?

I was traveling home from Manhattan last night during part of the Yankees-Red Sox game, so when Dean Anna hit his first home run as a Yankee (also his first MLB homer ever), I missed John Sterling's home run call. I half-expected Sterling to do a "Banana Fana Fo" call from the "Name Game" song. Instead, as I discovered from Facebook friends, Sterling's call was this: "Anna Is on the Dean's List!" Good grief.

I called Squawker Jon after I heard the news, and asked him to guess the call. Jon correctly did, without cheating, on his very first guess. We don't know whether to be impressed or horrified over him correctly getting into the mind of Sterling! (Jon did not guess the "Un Correazo" call for Beltran, though, so there is that.)

With all the new Yankees on the team this year, Sterling has much to come up with -- although all Kelly Johnson got was a perfunctory "Kelly killed it" call. As I have said before, I imagine Sterling sitting up in a smoking jacket late at night, looking like Cookie Monster in "Monsterpiece Theater," sipping a glass of cognac, pen and paper in hand while he comes up with his home run calls.

And it's fun to try to predict them, too. (Squawker Jon guesses that Ellsbury will get a "Ellzapoppin" call!)

But the "It Is High, It Is Far, It Is Caught" Sterliing "tribute" website, located at johnsterling.blogspot.com, is alarmed that Sterling had the Dean Anna call ready to go:
Well, it's finally happening. After more than twenty years of "BERN, BABY, BERN," and "GEORGIE JUICES ONE" - lines that once seemed to roll off John's tongue in the warm ecstasy of a Yankee home run - the Melkman has finally delivered a downside to the business. John is now spending hours in advance, attempting to compose poetry. You can say that's the mark of the true professional that he is. But as a poet, John Sterling is channeling Jewel. And I'm starting to wonder if it's going to bring him down.
For starters, John is no longer parceling out home run calls for the home run hitters, which he did at the beginning. (Anyone remember a call for Luis Sojo? Scott Brosius? Mariano Duncan?) The fact that last night Dean Anna - who might have gone this season without a home run - received a ready-made Sterling yelp could be a sign of the final bugaboo of John Sterling's long career: His ego may be spawning terminal self-awareness.
I actually like the idea that Sterling has these calls planned out ahead of time. I think it shows a master's dedication to his craft, even when they are thoroughly ridiculous. I was just hoping he would have used the "Name Game" song for Dean Anna. Banana fana fo indeed.

Jon is outraged, though, over the headline of this article. He says I am wrong to even suggest that the Anna call is the worst ever. "What about 'Something Sort of Grandish?'" he points out. He's got me there!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Win a DVD of the first Mets' no-hitter

In conjunction with the digital download sale on iTunes of nearly 100 great programs from Major League Baseball, Subway Squawkers is giving away three copies of Baseball's Greatest Games: New York Mets First No-Hitter DVD.

To win a copy, please send an email with your name and mailing address and METS DVD CONTEST in the subject line to subwaysquawkers@gmail.com. Three winners will be chosen at random. Contest is open to residents of the continental United States. Contest runs until Tuesday, April 15 at 11 p.m Eastern Daylight Savings Time.



Allowing fans to watch everything from their favorite teams and players to some of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history anywhere a smartphone or tablet can go, MLB’s digital downloads have never been easier to attain!  Until April 15, simply visit www.iTunes.com/MLB to purchase any of the specially-priced programs, including:
  • 100 Years of Wrigley Field
  • All-Time Bloopers
  • Angels Memories
  • Astros Memories: The Greatest Moments in Astros Baseball History
  • Baseball Seasons: 2004
  • Bloopers: Baseball’s Best Blunders
  • Bryce Begins
  • Detroit Tigers: Hometown Heroics
  • Fenway Park Centennial – 100 Years as the Heart of Red Sox Nation
  • Game 162
  • Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson
  • Major League Baseball Official World Series Films, 1943-2013
  • Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team
  • MLB 25: Greatest Postseason Home Runs
  • New York Mets: 50 Greatest Players
  • Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues
  • Prime 9 Vol. 1 (TV Episodes 9 x .5 hr)
  • Sudden Death Baseball
  • Superstars: Impact Players
  • Superstars: World Powers
  • The Best of the Home Run Derby
  • This Week in Baseball, Season. 1 (TV Episodes 17 x .5 hr)
  • World Series: History of the Fall Classic

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Check out Subway Squawkers' predictions for the Yankees and Mets for this year

Recently, Squawker Jon and I got to make our 2014 predictions for the Yankees and Mets as part of the Playing Pepper feature at the Cardinals Conclave site. The articles feature a roundup of team bloggers weighing in on the season. Here are my Yankee predictions, and Jon's Mets predictions. Funny thing -- I gave the Yankees' offseason a C+, a pretty low grade as compared to my fellow Yankee bloggers. Yet my overall prediction for the season's Yankee wins was higher than most of my fellow bloggers. Go figure!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day and already waiting for next year

I've been looking forward to the Mets' Opening Day for some time. Opening Day 2015, that is.

While the Mets have written off 2014 with their small-market payroll and inability to solve their problems at shortstop and first base, at least we can look forward to the first full season of Zack Wheeler and the eventual debut of Noah Syndergaard. But I can't get too excited about trying to reach .500.

Maybe there will be an unexpected pleasant surprise, which the Mets have had each of the last three seasons. In 2011, Jose Reyes won the batting title. In 2012, R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young Award. In 2013, Matt Harvey had a breakout season and started the All-Star Game.

Naturally, all three stars were not on the team the following year. At least Harvey will be back next season. And while I hated to see Dickey go, the trade for Travis D'Arnaud and Syndergaard looks very promising as of now. But considering that the Mets are in dire need of a shortstop and leadoff hitter, it's hard not to wonder what this team would be like if it still had Reyes.

One of my main hopes for 2014 is for Curtis Granderson to succeed, or at least not be Jason Bay 2.0. It would be good for the Mets and a tweak to the Yankees, who let him go while giving Brett Gardner a four-year deal that was almost as much. But perhaps most importantly, it would show the Mets that spending money can help a team. The Mets have conveniently forgotten that the 2006-08 contenders were built largely on high-priced acquisitions.

It would also be great to get a full season out of David Wright after he missed 50 games two of the last three seasons.

Though the notion that Bartolo Colon can replace Harvey at the top of the rotation kind of sums up what it is to be a Met fan, at least the front office made a reasonable effort to patch up the rotation. While I want the Mets to spend money, I don't envy a team like the Twins throwing multiyear deals at the likes of Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey.

I'm looking for a 79-83 season. Not quite .500, but a step in the right direction while we wait for next year.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Get some great baseball reading material with the Baseball Reads promotion

Quick note: If you are interested in picking up some great baseball books, including Robert W. Creamer's "Babe" or classics by David Halberstam and Roger Angell, visit the "Baseball Reads" site. All these books are available right now for just $2.99 as ebooks. But act fast -- the promotion ends soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ESPN's "The Deal" looks back at the A-Rod trade, 10 years later

Recently, ESPN ran a "30 for 30" short about the ten-year anniversary of Alex Rodiguez's trade to the New York Yankees. Nick and Colin Barnicle were the filmmakers behind "The Deal," and Colin, the director of the film, graciously agreed to answer a few questions I had on the documentary. (You can watch the movie for yourself by clicking here.) Without further ado, here is the interview:

* First off, I remember that time very well (full disclosure: I am a Yankee fan!) and where I was when I heard that A-Rod was going to be a Yankee (I was at a New Jersey Devils game.) And you captured the details of those weeks, even mentioning the "We got him" announcement about Saddam Hussein (I remember a Red Sox fan friend joking that they thought the announcement was about A-Rod!) What in particular gave you the idea to do "The Deal"?

My brother and I are big Red Sox fans and, as such, we were well aware of the fact that A-Rod had been - for a brief moment in time - a Red Sox. Back then, it was so devastating for Red Sox nation to lose out on the best and most marketable player in the league that it almost felt like the second coming of the Babe Ruth trade. It really did feel like fate. We wanted to capture that and let the irony of the situation speak for itself.

* What do you think would have happened if the A-Rod trade to the Boston Red Sox had gone through? Would the Red Sox have still won their rings? Would A-Rod have become a Manny Ramirez-esque weird but not despised character in Boston? 

Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer said that if hindsight wasn't 20/20 they would have done the deal again. Alex Rodriguez was the face of baseball and by far the best player in a keystone position to boot. I think they certainly would have won a World Championship with him. Three championships? I don't know. But, they would have been a really, really good if not better team with Alex in his prime and he would have been the face of the Red Sox revival. As for Manny, I'm not sure anyone can or will approach the strange place he holds in Boston fans' hearts.

* Ten years later, I still don't understand why the Red Sox just didn't ask for the Rangers to pay a portion of A-Rod's salary, something that the Yankees got from them. Was that ever discussed in their negotiations? 

Yes. But, Manny Ramirez and his gigantic contract were headed to the Rangers so they didn't want to eat any of Alex's contract if they had to take on Manny's deal. Soriano wasn't being paid a tenth of what Manny was at the time so the Rangers had to take on some of the remaining money from Rodriguez's contract in order to facilitate the trade with the Yankees. In essence, taking Manny Ramirez's contract was the financial relief given to the Red Sox by the Rangers much in the same way paying down Alex's deal was to the Yankees.

* I have already heard why you didn't want to interview A-Rod for the show, but what about Scott Boras? It seemed to me that having some voice from the A-Rod camp would have added more to the documentary. Or even Joe Torre or somebody else from the Yankee camp besides Brian Cashman. Any reason that didn't happen?

They didn't truly have any insight into it. Scott Boras wasn't involved at any level with Alex going to the Red Sox. It's important to note that Alex did it all himself. He set up all the meetings and did the negotiating himself. Boras just wasn't in the loop. When it came to the Yankees, the whole deal was done really secretively. Not even Steinbrenner knew about it until a week before it went down. It was entirely Cashman and Hart. Boras and Torre, like Steinbrenner, weren't key players.  

* I wish "The Deal" had been longer, to explore questions like what Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra were thinking when all of the trade talk was swirling around. For example, did they forgive Kevin Millar for saying he'd rather have A-Rod as a teammate? Another thing I wish you had had the time to explore more was the relationship with Derek Jeter. I remember him mumbling in a monotone when introducing A-Rod at the press conference, with a look on his face then like he would rather be anywhere else! Anyhow, did you try to interview any of these people, or just not have the running space to talk to them?

This is a really complex story, but we always knew we wanted to end it with Alex signing with the Yankees and keep it within the confines of the off-season. We felt it was more ironic that way and we didn't have to flesh out any of the later controversy since Alex has done a good job of keeping that in the papers all his own. 

That said, there were definitely stories we wish we could've included in the piece. One such story was that when Brian Cashman learned about the Boone injury he was on vacation on the island of Anguilla at this very small resort and coincidentally, staying at the same exact place, at the same exact time, was the New York Times baseball reporter, Tyler Kepner. So, the whole time Cashman is trying to keep a poker face and not let Kepner know that they have a serious problem at third base. 

You can watch "The Deal" for yourself here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Contest: Win an entry to the Spartan Race of your choice!

I mentioned recently that I was going to be competing in the Spartan Sprint obstacle race at Citi Field on Saturday, April 12, and I am very excited over it. Here is a 15% discount code for the race, if you would like to also participate. In addition, thanks to the folks who run the Spartan Races, I  am going to run a contest offering free entry to the Spartan Race event of your choice.

Here's how you can enter: please send me an email with the subject line "Spartan Race" to subwaysquawkers@gmail.com. Please include your name, address, and phone number.  We will only use that information to inform you if you win. Please send in your entry by Monday, March 31 at 5 p.m. One entry per person, please.

In addition, there is also an upcoming book by Spartan Race founder Joseph De Sena, called
Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life. You can pre-order the book at that link -- it comes out in May.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yankees-Red Sox feud: Randy Levine issues lame rejoinder to Larry Lucchino

So there was a bit of a kerfuffle this weekend, after Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino dissed the New York Yankees' freee-spending approach to building a team. Unfortunately for Yankee fans, team president Randy Levine was the humorless prig issuing a response. If you are going to get into a war of the words with the guy who coined the Evil Empire remark, you had better have something resembling a quick wit, not a knucklehead still muttering about ghosts a decade after 2004.

Here's what happened. Lucchino said the following about the Yankees (emphasis added):
"We're very different animals. I'm proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometime do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankee style of high-priced, long-term free agents. I can't say I wish them well. But I think we've taken a different approach.
"If you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they've done this year, there's quite a contrast there. I'll quickly say we do keep open the prospect of signing a long-term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime. We haven't ruled that out. There's just a rebuttable presumption against doing that. But you can rebut it. The circumstances can allow for you to go ahead and do it. The Yankees do it more often it seems to me as a matter of course."
  Lucchino got a little rambly towards the end of that, and he kind of ignores the big money the Sox spent on Carl Crawford et al, but he is stating some true facts -- the Yankees are totally dependent upon spending for free agents to restock their team. When you spend $500+ million on your free agents, you can't really complain about others noticing that, can you?

Well, if you are Randy Levine, you can! Instead, Levine gave the following cringeworthy response:
“I feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees. But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I’m confident Cash and Joe and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”
Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Everybody in Yankeeland needs to stop with talk of "ghosts" forever. This should have stopped forever in 2004, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS on Mickey Mantle's birthday, after the Yanks decided that they would bring out Bucky Dent to throw out the first pitch and somehow spook Boston. How'd that work for the Yankees again?

2. Love how Lucchino is responsible for Bobby V, but Cherington is responsible for Boston winning the World Series last year. Sounds like the way Brian Cashman brags about his "five" rings, like he did in the Roger Clemens trial, but every bad decision made in Yankeeland is blamed on Tampa.

3. Unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees do not have a viable farm system, and do have to spend a gazillion dollars on free agents. in order to be competitive. And even with that, they still didn't re-sign Robinson Cano, and still don't have a viable infield this year. To complain about Lucchino pointing out the Yankees' spending is like Miley Cyrus complaining about people noticing that she sticks out her tongue all the time.

4. The Red Sox have won three rings in the past decade to the Yankees' one, and they are the defending World Champions. As insufferable as Lucchino is, he has unfortunately earned the right to trash-talk. If Levine couldn't come up with something funny or clever, he should have kept his mouth shut.

5. Yeah, hiring Bobby Valentine was a disastrous move. But Boston realized quickly that he was a disaster, and got rid of him after one year. Then they won the World Series the following year. If Valentine had been signed by the Yankees, they would keep him forever, just because Hal Steinbrenner doesn't want to look like his father and ever fire anybody. You know, kind of like how Randy Levine still gets to keep his job as team president, long after he has done anything worthwhile!

What do you think? Tell us about it!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

So I am going to get to compete in the Spartan Sprint at Citi Field

Big Squawker news -- I am in training to compete in the Spartan Sprint at Citi Field on April 12. It should be a great challenge, and I am looking forward to the event! The Spartan races combine running and obstacles. No word yet on whether Mr. Met is competing, though!

If you are interested in participating in this or any other Spartan race, here is a 15% discount code that you can use.