Monday, April 30, 2007

Baseball Beat: Monday, April 30th

Here is the rundown for the Monday, April 30th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis Cardinals Beat)
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Tyler Kepner, New York Times (New York Yankees Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain-Dealer (Cleveland Indians Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Bob Nightengale, USA Today Sports Weekly
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Chris Wheeler, Broadcaster, Philadelphia Phillies

Guest Summaries:
Strauss discussed the death of St. Louis Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock. Kepner discussed the New York Yankees including reports about Joe Torre’s future and George Steinbrenner’s statement. Hoynes discussed the Cleveland Indians including Saturday’s odd umpire decision that added a run to the Baltimore Orioles two innings after the score was waved off; Shaughnessy discussed the Boston Red Sox and their successful weekend in New York. He also discussed the club’s starters and J.D. Drew; Nightengale discussed the death of Josh Hancock as well as his piece on steroids in today’s USA Today. Wheeler discussed the Philadelphia Phillies including the start of this week’s series in Atlanta.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Baseball Beat: Friday, April 27th

Here is the rundown for the Friday, April 27th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Steve Buckley, Boston Herald
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
1:45 p.m.
Guest: David O'Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Braves Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Jayson Stark, ESPN
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Ken Davidoff, Newsday
2:45 p.m.
Listener Calls

Guest Summaries:
Buckley discussed the Boston Red Sox including the final word on Gary Thorne and “Sock-Gate” including conversation about Curt Schilling’s post on the subject in his blog. There was also a brief discussion of the plus and minuses of blogs and of course a preview of this weekend’s series with the New York Yankees; Hummel discussed the St. Louis Cardinals including Skip Schmaker and Chris Duncan’s head injury as well as updates on the health status of Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder; O’Brien discussed the Atlanta Braves including the new extension for John Smoltz and the hot start for Jeff Francoeur; Stark discussed his pieces in Rumblings & Grumblings on about Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees. He also discussed Commissioner Bud Selig’s retirement plans. Davidoff discussed the New York Yankees struggles including Phillip Hughes major league debut last night, Kei Igawa’s banishment to the bullpen, and Roger Clemens rumors and buzz about his future destination.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Alternative Dispute Resolution & the History of Baseball: Part Two

by Brent S. Gambill


Curt Flood

After the 1969 season, the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Curt Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies for Richie Allen. Flood had friends and business interests in St. Louis, had concerns over the racial politics in Philadelphia at the time, and simply did not want to move at the end of his career. Following the trade, Flood wrote his famous letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, “I do not feel I am piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”[1]In January 1970, Flood filed suit against Major League Baseball for $3 million, triple damages, and free agency. Flood lost in Federal District Court. He appealed and lost in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Not to be deterred, Flood appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The question before the court was over antitrust protection provided in a 1922 decision by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. On June 18, 1972, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 with one abstention basing their reasoning on stare decisis.[2]

The importance of the Flood case was its impact on the owners, who for the first time feared losing the reserve clause. The panic surrounding the owners flowed into their negotiations with the players in the second Basic Agreement signed in 1970. The agreement was signed prior to the final court ruling in the Flood case. It brought about financial gains for the players, but more importantly the owners agreed to impartial arbitration of grievances outside the commissioner’s office. This was the biggest step to date for the players taking some supremacy away from the all-powerful commissioner of baseball.[3]

Salary Arbitration

In November 1972, negotiation for the third Basic Agreement began. After bargaining and a short strike in spring training, the players agreed to accept the owners’ offer of player salary arbitration.[4] The procedures for salary arbitration were put into practice prior to the 1974 season. “This is not only unprecedented, a historic ‘first’ in professional sport; it is the first major reform ever effected in the reserve clause…” wrote famed New York Times columnist Red Smith.[5]

The arbitration system used in baseball has many names, “Final Offer”, “Either-Or”, or as it’s commonly referred today as “Baseball Arbitration”. Baseball’s historic arbitrator Peter Seitz called the practice “High-Low” arbitration, which he borrowed from seven card stud.[6] The rules of salary arbitration were set-up to allow players having played three full seasons in the majors, but no more than six years eligible for arbitration. Teams have until December 20th of each year to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players. Tendering is equivalent to offering the player arbitration. Non-tendered players become free agents. If no deal is reached by mid-January, each side is required to submit a proposed one-year salary. Once submitted, numbers may not be changed. Hearings are then scheduled for the first three weeks in February.

For the most part, arbitrators are law school professors and professional labor arbitrators.There are no fixed terms for arbitrators. They serve at the will of the MLBPA and labor relations department of the commissioner’s office (hereafter “LRD”) and may be dismissed by either party for any reason. Potential new arbitrators can be nominated by the MLBPA, LRD, a club, an agent, or by himself or herself. Potential arbitrators are interviewed and approved by both the MLBPA and LRD. Most new arbitrators are assigned to panels with more experienced arbitrators until they gain more experience.

Arbitrators have no knowledge of what case they will be hearing prior to arrival. At the start of the hearing arbitrators are handed an exhibit jointly prepared that lists all major league salaries. Hearings take place in a hotel conference room, around a long rectangular table. There is no written discovery and evidence consists of charts and graphs. There are also no rules prohibiting testimony, but it is rare. The occasional exception will be where a player is coming off an injury and will testify that he is fully recovered. Lastly, arbitrators are permitted to ask questions and often do. After each side has presented, there is a brief break followed by rebuttal presentations for each side. The three main types of rebuttals are (1) exhibits designed to rebut specific points made by the other side, (2) arguments pointing out flaws in particular exhibits, and (3) overall arguments designed to rebut particular themes of the other side. A decision is made within 24 hours with no written opinions. The arbitrator can only select the player’s or the club’s proposed salary figure. Appeals are not allowed.[7]

Since the inception of salary arbitration in 1974, the owners hold a 263-197 advantage. For instance, in 2004 the owners beat the players 4-3 in the cases that went to hearings. That is the eighth straight year management has won a majority of cases. Salary arbitration has attributed to the growth in salaries as well. The average player salary in 1975 was $44,676 compared to the average player salary in 2000 at $1.9 million. For example, Alex Rodriguez 2004 salary is $25 million while in 1975 all players combined to make $29 million total.

Catfish Hunter

On February 11, 1974, starting pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter signed a standard major league baseball contract that stipulated a two-year contract with the Oakland Athletics. In signing the contract, Hunter requested, as an addendum, that his attorney J. Carlton Cherry seek Internal Revenue Service (IRS) approval to defer $50,000 of the annual salary.[8] The provision called for half of Hunter’s salary to be paid into an insurance company fund during the season for the purchase of an annuity for his benefit following his playing career.

The actual legalize of the provision stated that half of his $100,000 annual salary was to be paid “to any person, firm or corporation.” This was done in order to defer income and avoid taxation. Oakland A’s owner Charles O. Finley requested minor revisions in the wording of the contract as to exactly when the $50,000 would be paid. The words “to be paid during the seasons as earned” were eventually added by Finley before returning the contract unsigned to Cherry.

Following the signing, Finley was concerned with the tax consequences of purchasing the annuity.[9] Finley eventually discovered the club could not deduct the annual $50,000 annuity payment as a business expense.[10] He would not have use of the $50,000, as it would be in the annuity, and he could only have the tax deduction years later when Hunter collected the money out of the annuity.[11] As the All-Star game approached, Hunter ran into player representative Jim Kaat. Hunter told him he was going to be a free agent following the year because he did not think Finley was going to pay him the money he was owed. Kaat advised Hunter to have his attorney write Finley a letter concerning the non-payment.[12] Cherry sent letters to Finley in August and September 1974 asking him to sign the deferred compensation agreement. Finley never gave a straight answer concerning the matter. In one reply, he stated he was ready to commit but feared his wife, the secretary of the club, would not sign the paper. On another occasion, he complained that he was worried about other players wanting the same clause in their contracts.[13] In mid-September, Richard Moss, counsel to the MLBPA sent a contract-violation notice to Finley. He had a ten day grace period to meet the terms of Hunter’s contract per the rules of the Basic Agreement. Ten days passed without response.[14]

Cherry got tired of the stalling and took the case to the MLBPA. On October 4, 1974, the following telegram arrived at the offices of Charles O. Finley & Company:

This wire is sent on behalf of James A. Hunter. Pursuant to paragraph 7(a) of contract between Mr. Hunter and the Oakland Club, please be advised that contract is terminated due to Club’s default in making payments in accordance with said contract and its failure to remedy said default within ten days after receiving written notice thereof. Because of the impending playoffs and World Series, the effective date of termination shall be the day following the last game played by the Oakland Athletics in 1974.

Richard M. Moss, General Counsel
Major League Baseball Players Association[15]

After receiving the telegram, Finley contacted the Major League Baseball Players Relations Committee who advised him that he was not obligated to purchase the annuity, but should send the money directly to Hunter. The money was mailed the same day of the telegram’s receipt. Hunter sent the money back saying, “I can’t take it. I’ve been advised by my attorney that the check must be sent directly to the Jefferson Insurance Company.” As a result, payment was not made in accordance to the contract.[16] The former executive director of the player’s association, Marvin Miller, denies this series of events ever occurred.[17]

On October 8th, 1974[18], before Game Three of the American League Championship Series, Hunter was given a message that Finley wanted to see him. Hunter entered Finley’s office to find American League President Lee MacPhail and Commissioner Bowie Kuhn along with Finley. He offered to pay the $50,000 owed, but Hunter refused stating “you pay it the way the contract reads and everything will be just fine.”[19] During the 1974 World Series, Kuhn suggested in a press conference that he was considering mediating the dispute between Hunter and Finley. Moss, of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), quickly responded that the Basic Agreement stipulated that an impartial arbitrator would rule on all contract disputes between a player and owner; effectively stating the commissioner lacked the authority.[20] At the end of the 1974 season, Finley had made no payments into the fund and Hunter filed a grievance against him.[21] Finley responded by offering to pay the money to the arbitrator, who would hold it until the dispute was settled, but this was refused.[22]

In 1974, Hunter led the American League in wins and earned run averages (ERA) going 25-12 with a 2.49 ERA.[23] He was subsequently rewarded for his regular season accomplishments by being voted the American League Cy Young award winner. Oakland finished their season by winning their third consecutive World Series by defeating the Dodgers.[24]

On November 26, 1974, Hunter took Finley to arbitration to settle the dispute over his contract. Hunter was represented by Cherry and Joe Flythe, his attorneys, Moss, counsel to the MLBPA, Miller, executive director of the player’s association, [25] and Jerry Kapstein, his agent. Kapstein thought Hunter would lose his arbitration case. He was fired by Hunter’s attorneys the day following the arbitration.[26] The lone representative for Finley was John Gaherin, chief negotiator for the major league owners.[27]

The arbitration was heard by a three-person arbitration panel headed by Seitz.[28] The witnesses were Hunter, Cherry, Finley, and MacPhail.[29] The other two members of the panel were the MLBPA’s Miller and Major League Baseball’s Gaherin.[30] This was the first non-salary arbitration conducted in Major League Baseball. During Finley’s testimony before Seitz, he claimed he never agreed to Hunter’s demand. Finley stated the signature on the contract was not his and that he never saw, read, or knew anything about the contract. His statements were easily refuted as Cherry brought all correspondence between the parties to the arbitration.[31] Moss argued that Hunter’s contract was breached by Finley and that he should be declared a free agent.[32] Section 7(a) of Hunter’s contract explained the implication of Finley’s non-payment: “The Player may terminate this contract…if the Club shall default in the payments to the Player.”[33]

On December 16, 1974, Seitz cast the deciding vote and declared Hunter a free agent as the A’s owner failed to live up to the terms of the contract. According to Seitz, there was “no ambiguity” about the club’s obligations, its failure to carry them out, or Hunter’s right to act accordingly.[34] Finley had defaulted on a material portion of that player’s contract, and the contract predetermined the remedy was free agency.[35] Seitz wrote that the remedy of the player being able to terminate his contract when it had been violated was not his remedy: “It was the remedy specified in the contract itself.”[36] The decision also ordered the Oakland team to pay Hunter the $50,000 it owed him from 1974, and to pay six percent interest on that amount from August 1st until the money was paid. Seitz’s original draft opinion did not state that Hunter was a free agent. In executive session with Seitz and Gaherin, Miller pointed out the omission. The lack of clarity would have opened the door for Finley to claim that Hunter was still property of Oakland.[37] After a short recess, Seitz changed the wording to read “Mr. Hunter’s contract for service to be performed during the 1975 season no longer binds him and he is a free agent.”[38]

“I think it was fair and just, and I knew we told the truth. I had the feeling all the time it was going to come out my way,” commented Hunter following the decision.[39] Kuhn later wrote, “To forfeit the contract over a few days’ delay in paying the $50,000 was like giving a life sentence to a pickpocket…Finley clearly was a pickpocket, trying to hold the $50,000 in his own account for as long as possible, but so far as I knew, that was the worst of it.”[40] Finley immediately attempted to get a restraining order while awaiting appeal, but Judge Spurgeon Varakian of the Superior Court in Oakland, California, refused the request.[41] Kuhn imposed a moratorium on any dealings with Hunter until he had an opportunity to review the decision.”[42]

Hunter’s free agency was unique at the time because as he was one of the best players in the game. He was the 28 year old reigning American League Cy Young award winner with four consecutive 20 win seasons. The original Oakland contract was to pay Hunter $100,000 per season for two years, but on the open market his next contract could and would be many times that.

The only comparable situation also involved Finley. In August 1967, seven years after purchasing the Athletics in Kansas City, he released Ken “Hawk” Harrelson for being quoted as calling Finley a “menace to baseball” following the firing of the team’s manager, Alvin Dark.[43] Harrelson is credited with being the first player to wear a golf glove regularly, the first to wear wrist bands, and the first to wear lampblack under his eyes.[44] Harrelson quickly received a $75,000 bonus and salary package from the Boston Red Sox for the remainder of the season. Harrelson went on to help the Red Sox appear in World Series in 1967 and 1968.[45] During his first full year in Boston, Harrelson led the league in runs batted in (RBI) with 109.[46]

Once the moratorium was dropped by Kuhn, the race to sign Hunter began in the law offices of Cherry, Cherry & Flythe in Ahoskie, North Carolina.[47] Miller first had to convince Cherry, who had no experience in baseball, not to accept Finley’s offer of $200,000 before Hunter had even entertained offers from other clubs.[48] Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kauffman was the first to call and was the only appointment on the first day. The next day the phone began to ring and appointments were set-up for representatives of teams to come to Ahoskie.[49] The New York Mets made the first offer at $2 million on December 19, 1974, and by that afternoon the Boston Red Sox offered $3 million.[50] Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley offered $3 million for two years, which was the largest offer throughout the process. In the end, 22 teams partook in attempts to sign Hunter with the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers the only teams not participating.[51] Within two weeks Hunter signed a five-year, $3.7 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. The contract also included bonuses, life insurance, attorney’s fees, and appearance fees.[52] The breakdown of the contract was $100,000 a year for five years with half of it deferred, $53,462.67 a year in insurance annuities for ten years, a $100,000 signing bonus, 15 years at $100,000 per year until 1994, $25,000 college endowments for Todd and Kim Hunter, $200,000 in attorney fees, and a brand new Buick every year for five years.[53] Hunter was the only player in baseball with a multi-year contract in 1975.[54] “My family has been set up for life,” said Hunter following the signing.[55]

Even with the signing, Oakland and Finley were still intent on going to court in efforts to get Hunter’s rights back under the reserve clause.[56] The case was heard before Judge George Phillips, Jr. in Alameda County Superior Court in California. Neil Papiano, Finley’s attorney, argued that impartial arbitrator Peter Seitz exceeded his jurisdiction and that the reserve system goes beyond an individual player’s contract and the reserve system itself is explicitly exempt from the arbitration process. The reasoning is that even if an individual contract has been broken, the absence of a contract does not free a player from other aspects of the reserve system and still limits the player to dealing with is original club.[57]

The actual legal issue before the court was should the decision of an arbitrator agreed to by both sides in the original dispute be overruled? The only ground for overturning an arbitrator’s decision would be that the arbitrator was “grossly irrational” in going beyond the bounds of the problem presented to him.[58] After listening to three hours of arguments and studying voluminous briefs, Judge Phillips, Jr., refused to overturn the arbitration decision. “Reasonable men may differ on how the various clauses can be interpreted, but there is nothing unreasonable in the conclusion this arbitrator reached.[59] The key fact is that Hunter did not get paid the way he was supposed to,” stated Judge Phillips, Jr., in his ruling.[60]

While Hunter never won another Cy Young award, he did pitch in two more All-Star games and three World Series with the Yankees before retiring following the completion of the contract in 1979.[61] In hindsight, the Hunter case had no direct implication on the reserve clause, but as time would tell, the decision was the beginning of things to come.

[1] Roger I. Abrams, Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law 43, Temple University Press (1998).
[2] Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972). [3] Zimbalist, at 19.
[4] Zimbalist, at 20.
[5] Red Smith, Solomon and the Wage Slaves, N.Y. Times, Feb. 18, 1974, at 35.
[6] Red Smith, By Study, Incantation and Prayer, N.Y. Times, Aug. 7, 1974, at 19.
[7] Mark Rosenthal, An Insider’s View on Baseball Arbitration, The Sporting News, Mar. 26, 2004.
[8] Jim Hunter & Armen Keteyian, Catfish 127, McGraw-Hill Book Company (1988).
[9] Bowie Kuhn, Hardball 139, Times Books (1987).
[10] Roger I. Abrams, Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law 108, Temple University Press (1998).
[11] John Helyar, Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball 137, Villard Books (1994).
[12] Hunter/Keteyian, at 129. [13] Hunter/Keteyian, at 130.
[14] Helyar, at 137. [15] Hunter/Keteyian, at 130.
[16] Bowie Kuhn, Hardball 139, Times Books (1987).
[17] Marvin Miller, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sports and Business of Baseball 230, Birch Lane Press (1991).
[18] Burt Solomon, The Baseball Timeline 756, DK Publishing (2001).
[19] Hunter/Keteyian, at 131. [20] Hunter/Keteyian, at 135.
[21] Andrew S. Zimbalist, Baseball and Billions 21, Princeton University Press (1999).
[22] Kuhn, at 140.
[23] Peter Palmer & Gary Gillette, The Baseball Encyclopedia 965, Barnes & Noble Books (2004).
[24] Palmer/Gillette, at 1667.
[25] Ruling on A’s Hunter in Month, N.Y. Times, Nov. 27, 1974, at 42.
[26] Marvin Miller, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sports and Business of Baseball 231-233, Birch Lane Press (1991).
[27] Ruling on A’s Hunter in Month, at 42.
[28] Andrew S. Zimbalist, Baseball and Billions 21, Princeton University Press (1999).
[29] Bowie Kuhn, Hardball 140, Times Books (1987).
[30] Leonard Koppett, Real Hunter Fuss Is on Bidding, N.Y. Times, Dec. 17, 1974, at 45.
[31] Jim Hunter & Armen Keteyian, Catfish 136, McGraw-Hill Book Company (1988).
[32] Ruling on A’s Hunter in Month, at 42.
[33] Roger I. Abrams, Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law 109, Temple University Press (1998).
[34] Koppett, at 51. [35] Abrams, at 109.
[36] Marvin, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sports and Business of Baseball 113, Birch Lane Press (1991).
[37] Miller, at 233.
[38] John Helyar, Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball 137, Villard Books (1994).
[39] Koppett, at 51.
[40] Bowie Kuhn, Hardball 140, Times Books (1987).
[41] Leonard Koppett, Finley Plea to Change Hunter Ruling Denied, N.Y. Times, Jan. 4. 1975, at 39.
[42] Kuhn, at 140.
[43] Arthur Daily, Kansas City Buttinski, N.Y. Times, Aug. 22, 1967, at 45.
[44] Kuhn, at 49. [45] Koppett, at 51.
[46] Peter Palmer & Gary Gillette, The Baseball Encyclopedia 280, Barnes & Noble Books (2004).
[47] Kuhn, at 142.
[48] Marvin Miller, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sports and Business of Baseball 237, Birch Lane Press (1991).
[49] Jim Hunter & Armen Keteyian, Catfish 139, McGraw-Hill Book Company (1988).
[50] John Helyar, Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball 142, Villard Books (1994).
[51] Hunter/Keteyian, at 140. [52] Kuhn, at 143.
[53] Jim Hunter/Keteyian, at 150.
[54] Andrew S. Zimbalist, May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy 79, Brookings Institution Press (2003).
[55] Total Near $4 Million, The Washington Post, Jan. 1 1975, at D1.
[56] Red Smith, Dred Scott and Some Other Guys, N.Y. Times, Dec. 27, 1974, at 41.
[57] Leonard Koppett, Court to Hear Finley Plea on Hunter Today, N.Y. Times, Jan. 3, 1975, at 44.
[58] Leonard Koppett, Backing of Hunter Arbitration Decision Called Prelude to Changing Pro Sports Setup,N.Y. Times, Jan. 5, 1975, at S4.
[59] American & National Leagues of Profession Baseball Clubs v. Major League Baseball Players Association, 130 Cal.Rptr. 626 (Cal.App. 1976).
[60] Leonard Koppett, Finley Plea to Change Hunter Ruling Denied, N.Y. Times, Jan. 4. 1975, at 39.
[61] Peter Palmer & Gary Gillette, The Baseball Encyclopedia 965, 1614, Barnes & Noble Books (2004).

Clips to Click:

David Halberstam Clips to Click:

Blog of the Week:

Baseball Book of the Week:

Baseball Beat: Thursday, April 26th

Here is the rundown for the Thursday, April 26th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Hal Bodley, USA Today
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Gordon Edes, Boston Globe (Boston Red Sox Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Ben Shpigel, New York Times (New York Mets Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Curt Smith, Author, The Voice: Mel Allen's Untold Story
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Mario Impemba, Broadcaster, Detroit Tigers
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago Cubs Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Bodley discussed national headlines including being at Camden last night and covering “Sock-Gate”, which was Gary Thorne’s comments in the Baltimore Orioles broadcast about Doug Mirabelli allegedly telling him that Curt Schilling’s bloody sock from 2004 was fake. He also discussed chatting with Jeff Idelson with the Hall of Fame about the sock which is on display at the museum. There was also a brief discussion of the New York Yankees lack of success and Alex Rodriguez’s early season success; Edes discussed Gary Thorne’s comments and how he broke the story. A blogger from Sons of Sam Horn contacted him about hearing it on the O’s broadcast. Following the game, Edes chatted with Mirabelli and Schilling as well as Idelson about it; Shpigel discussed the New York Mets including Mike Pelfrey’s struggles in the rotation; Smith discussed the current state of broadcasting in baseball. Impemba discussed the Detroit Tigers including Gary Sheffield’s struggles, rotation, and power in the line-up; Wittenmyer discussed the Chicago Cubs including Mark Prior’s season ending injury and Carlos Zambrano's contract extension status with the Cubs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Baseball Beat: Wednesday, April 25th

Here is the rundown for the Wednesday, April 25th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Marty Brennaman, Broadcaster, Cincinnati Reds
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Tom Hamilton, Broadcaster, Cleveland Indians
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle (Oakland A's Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times (Tampa Bay Devil Rays Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Howard Eskin, Host, Philadelphia's WIP 610

Guest Summaries:
Verducci discussed his Sports Illustrated piece on Alex Rodriguez as well as the major league debut of Phillip Hughes and other national headlines; Brennaman discussed the Cincinnati Reds and Josh Hamilton’s success thus far. He also mentioned manager Jerry Narron compares him to Bo Jackson considering Hamilton’s never played above A-ball and discussed the enjoyment of calling games with his son Thom Brennaman this season; Hamilton discussed the Cleveland Indians including the continuing horrid weather in the city. He also discussed the club’s rise to first place in the division yesterday; Slusser discussed the Oakland A’s including the club’s recent rash of injuries to Rich Harden, Milton Bradley as well as Bobby Crosby’s good health as well as rotation’s success; Topkin discussed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays sweep of the New York Yankees including the club’s new shortstop Brendan Harris. He also touched on Barry Bonds as he was at Dodger Stadium; Eskin discussed the Philadelphia Phillies including his confrontation and comments with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel last week.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Baseball Beat: Tuesday, April 24th

Here is the rundown for the Tuesday, April 24th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Buster Olney,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Buck Martinez, Host, Baseball This Morning
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Dave Van Horne, Broadcaster, Florida Marlins
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Barry Svrluga, Washington Post
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Bob Ley, ESPN

Guest Summaries:
Olney discussed the death of former New York Times colleague and author David Halberstam. He also chatted about Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees; Martinez discussed the surging Baltimore Orioles including Leo Mazzone and Sam Perlozzo. They also cross-promoted Baseball This Morning; Van Horne discussed the Florida Marlins including Dontrelle Willis pitching and becoming a father in the same night. There is a long cut from Van Horne and Charley telling the story about Willis. They also discussed the Marlins uneven start to the season as well as Dan Uggla’s performance; Christensen discussed the Minnesota Twins including Torii Hunter and “Champagne-Gate” as well as rotation. He also gave his thoughts on Halberstam’s passing; Svrluga discussed the Washington Nationals including a debate about dealing Chad Cordero as a dominant closer is not necessary on a rebuilding club; Ley discussed the passing of author and friend Halberstam.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baseball Beat: Monday, April 23rd

Here is the rundown for the Monday, April 23rd edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Jerry Crasnick,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Dan Graziano, Newark Star-Ledger
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Lyle Spencer, (Angels Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Gordon Edes, Boston Globe (Red Sox Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Andrew Baggarly, San Jose Mercury News (Giants Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Brewers Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Crasnick discussed national headlines including the Baltimore Orioles surge, Yankees/Red Sox series, and Scott Proctor and Yankees bullpen’s workload; Graziano discussed the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets weekend series including his piece on the Mets letting a game get away on Sunday and Kelly Johnson’s success as a lead-off hitter as well as his thoughts on the Yankees/Red Sox; Spencer discussed his moved from covering the San Diego Padres to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as well as last week’s long road trip and Bartolo Colon’s return over the weekend; Edes discussed the Boston Red Sox sweep of the New York Yankees in Boston this weekend including the four consecutive home runs, Jonathan Papelbon as the best closer in the AL, Coco Crisp’s troubles at the plate and Jacoby Ellsbury’s future in centerfield, and a short chat about the word “probabilist.” Baggarly discussed Barry Bonds continued pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record as well as the San Francisco Giant’s current winning streak and trip to Los Angeles for a series with the Dodgers starting tomorrow; Haudricourt discussed the National League Central Division leading Milwaukee Brewers including Dave Bush’s Sunday performance and the continued debate about the lack of heating at Miller Park.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Baseball Beat: Friday, April 20th

Here is the rundown for the Friday, April 20th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: John Donovan, Sports Illustrated
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News (New York Yankees Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Chris De Luca, Chicago Sun-Times
2:05 p.m.
Listener Calls
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Curt Smith, Author, The Voice: Mel Allen’s Untold Story
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

Guest Summaries:
Donovan discussed national headlines including the Atlanta Braves back-up infielder Willy Aybar’s troubles, Rich Hill impressive performances, Felix Pie’s debut in centerfield for the Cubs, and the value of the New York Yankees ($1.2 billion); Feinsand discussed the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox series this weekend as well as Alex Rodriguez walk-off home run yesterday, Carl Pavano’s latest injury, Andy Pettitte’s health, and pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez injury for the season; De Luca discussed the Chicago White Sox including Mark Buerhle’s no-hitter as well as the week that was for Alfonzo Soriano and the Chicago Cubs; Smith discussed his new book The Voice: Mel Allen’s Untold Story; Ryan discussed this weekend’s New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox series at Fenway including his favorite Red Sox J.D. Drew as well as Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alternative Dispute Resolution & the History of Baseball: Part One

by Brent S. Gambill


In the beginning, baseball started as a leisure sport for gentlemen. Soon the capitalist spirit of America took over as the enterprise of baseball made the wealthy wealthier and the talented famous. The origins of the game are easy enough, but as more financial gains were attained the lines were drawn between the owners and the players. The players started playing for leisure and soon found they could make money from their skills. Owners used the players’ desire and passion for the game to help make them wealthier.

The game grew along with the profits. Before long, the players began to organize and seek out the best offer for their services. The educated aspect of players had not taken a hold as there was minimal leadership in the ranks. Only a few truly realized the length of disservice the owners held over the players. These few would soon become the next owners or league bricklayers. In time, the owners devised a legal slavery upon the players called the reserve clause. Desiring to play and get better, the players signed on with minimal complaints. It took nearly a century before a savior and service would come to free the players from the chains of financial maltreatment.

The savior would be an arbitrator by the name of Peter Seitz and the service would be arbitration agreed to by the owners. The players had little chance of taking on ownership head on, but with the help of Marvin Miller and the Major League Baseball Players Association (hereafter “MLBPA”) the players chipped away at the owners’ vast power. Direct attack would provide little chance and only recourse, but collective bargaining led to arbitration which subsequently led to the players legal voice being heard. Baseball has a history of legal slavery in the past century, but baseball’s many forms of alternative dispute resolution (hereafter “ADR”) brought about drastic change in the baseball industry. The game will always be as pure as its inception in the 1860’s, but the business of baseball made its greatest strides in providing rights to the players through arbitration.


Origins of Baseball

The National Association of Baseball Players (NABP) was established in 1858 as the first amateur organization.[1] Harry Wright realized the business potential of the game and formed the Cincinnati Red Stockings as the first professional team in 1869. He gathered the best players and sent them barnstorming across the nation playing exhibition games.[2] The following year nine additional professional teams were formed causing the establishment of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players (NAPBP) in 1871.[3] Five years later, William Hulbert, owner of the Chicago White Stockings, formed the National League of Professional Baseball Players (NL) in response to what he perceived were organizational deficiencies in the NAPBP.[4] The constitution for the new league was signed on February 2, 1876, and is the same National League present today.[5]

Reserve Clause

As salaries rose and profits fell, Arthur Soden, owner of the NL Boston club, proposed the idea of reserving five players per team at an owners meeting in Buffalo, New York on September 30, 1879. The reserve clause was the ability of teams to reserve players to their initial clubs for life.[6] The reserve clause had an immediate affect on the profits of owners. Salaries and benefits made up as much as 60 percent of revenue before the National League adopted the reserve system. The percentage gradually decline to below 15 percent on average for Major League clubs in the 1950’s.[7] In response to the reserve clause new leagues were formed allowing players free contracting. The American Association (AA) was established in 1882 as well as the Union Association in 1883[8], Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players in 1885, Players League (PL) in 1889[9], and the Western League in 1892.[10]

During the inception of the PL, the league went head to head with NL cities and bidding wars for players ensued. It was during this time that the first legal cases concerning players’ contract were heard in court. The standing of the courts was that the players’ contracts lacked mutuality and were thus unenforceable. In 1890, the New York Giants took star player and founder of the PL, Monte Ward, to court concerning his contract.[11] The New York Supreme Court wrote that granting an injunction “would permit the ball club to reserve a player in perpetuity while it also reserved the right to terminate a player’s contract on ten days’ notice. Such a concentration of power in one part could lead to its complete control over the terms of any future contract.”[12] The court went onto call the Giants’ construction of the player contract as a “spectacle.”[13] While it would appear the victories were substantial wins for the players, this was not the case as by the time the court decisions were handed down the PL was gone.

Following prior leagues financial failure, the Western League, renamed the American League (AL) following the 1899 season,[14] was able to use much of the strategy of the PL to truly challenge the NL for the first time. A key legal disposition during this time was the Napoleon Lajoie case. Lajoie, nicknamed the “Big Frenchman”,[15] was the second baseman for the NL Philadelphia club and received the league maximum salary of $2,400 per year. He soon signed with the AL Philadelphia Athletics franchise in 1901 for the sum of $25,000 over three years.[16] The NL club, Philadelphia Phillies, moved for an injunction. The NL lost the injunction on grounds of lack of mutuality, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the decision citing the $2,400 salary as the establishment of mutuality.[17] The Court stated that mutuality did not mean that each party had to have precisely the same rights or remedies. The parties held markedly different rights, but each side could seek judicial enforcement of those rights and the court deemed this sufficient. The Court completely ignored the precedent set in New York in the Ward case and ruled that unequal terms do not void a contract.[18] In 1901, Lajoie set the all-time batting record of .422 in the AL only to be ordered to return to the NL following the season.[19]

In 1914, the Lajoie case was overturned by the Hal Chase decision. Hal Chase defected to the Federal League (FL) which was formed in 1913. The New York State Supreme Court ruled that Major League Baseball was not subject to antitrust laws because “as complete a monopoly…as any monopoly can be made…baseball is an amusement, a sport, a game…not a commodity or an article of merchandise.” The court reversed the mutuality precedent set in Lajoie and refused to enjoin Chase to the AL Chicago franchise.[20]

Another case involved pitcher Jack Harper, who left the St. Louis NL club for the cities AL team in May, 1902. The NL sought an injunction, but the courts upheld Harper issuing “a blistering condemnation for the entire baseball industry for its restrictive labor practices.” Judge Jon A. Talty cited the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution in preventing involuntary servitude.[21]

In 1902, the AL outdrew the NL by 500,000 fans. As competition and player salaries grew, a compromise was reached in January of 1903 establishing the organization of Major League Baseball under the 1903 Agreement.[22] The establishment of baseball is basically the same establishment today as it was in 1903.

Other issues arose during the next sixty years such as the forming of the Federal League (FL), Antitrust Exemption, fixing of the 1919 World Series, Mexican League and formation of the Players Guild, 1950’s franchise relocation, expansion through the Continental League, and soon the activity of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA).

A common misperception about the reserve system was that it had the approval of the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has never reviewed the reserve system, and never approved or disapproved of it. The only baseball question it has ever considered is whether baseball is engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of the Sherman and Clayton antitrust laws.[23] The Court ruled in favor of antitrust protection in the Federal League case in 1922[24], the Toolson case in 1953[25], and the Flood case in 1972.

[1] Andrew S. Zimbalist, Baseball and Billions 1, Princeton University Press (1999).
[2] Roger I. Abrams, Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law 14, Temple University Press (1998).
[3] Zimbalist, at 2.
[4] Abrams, at 10.
[5] Zimbalist, at 3.
[6] Zimbalist, at 4.
[7] Abrams, at 46
[8] Zimbalist, at 4.
[9] Abrams, at 18.
[10] Zimbalist, at 6.
[11] Abrams, at 19.
[12] Metropolitan Exhibition Company v. Ward, 9NYS 779 (NY Sup Ct 1890).
[13] Abrams, at 20.
[14] Zimbalist, at 7.
[15] Abams, at 29.
[16] Abrams, at 27, 32.
[17] Philadelphia Ball Club, Ltd. v. Lajoie, 202 Pa. 210, 51 A 973 (Pa. 1902).
[18] Abrams, at 35.
[19] Zimbalist, at 7.
[20] Zimbalist, at 9.
[21] Zimbalist, at 203.
[22] Zimbalist, at 7.
[23] Red Smith, Homework for Chub and Lee, N.Y. Times, Dec. 30, 1975, at 17.
[24] Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, 259 U.S. 200 (1922).
[25] Toolson v. New York Yankees, 346 U.S. 356 (1953).

Clips to Click:

Jackie Robinson Day Clips to Click:

Baseball Book of the Week:

Baseball Beat: Thursday, April 19th

Here is the rundown for the Thursday, April 19th edition of Baseball Beat. Chuck Wilson was in for Charley Steiner, who is broadcasting a day game with the Los Angeles Dodgers today:

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Gerry Fraley, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Doug Padilla, Daily News (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Jonathan Eig, Author, Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Ed Farmer, Broadcaster, Chicago White Sox
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Adam Rubin, New York Daily News (New York Mets Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Fraley discussed his recent piece on fan hatred toward Barry Bonds as well as his pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record. He also touched on the St. Louis Cardinals; Padilla discussed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s recent struggles including Vladimir Guerrero and Howie Kendrick’s injuries and the return of Jared Weaver; Rogers discussed her new roll covering the Atlanta Braves and national headlines as well as John Rocker’s father’s passing; Eig joined Baseball Beat live in-studio to discuss the release of his book Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season; Farmer discussed his call of the Chicago White Sox Mark Buerhle’s no hitter from last night; Rubin discussed the New York Mets and last night’s dominant pitching performance from John Maine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Baseball Beat: Wednesday, April 18th

Here is the rundown for the Wednesday, April 18th edition of Baseball Beat. Chuck Wilson was in for Charley Steiner, who is traveling with the Los Angeles Dodgers today:

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
1:25 p.m.
Guest: T.R. Sullivan, (Texas Rangers Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Todd Zolecki, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia Phillies Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Alan Ashby, Broadcaster, Toronto Blue Jays
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Clark Spencer, Miami Herald (Florida Marlins Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Geoff Baker, Seattle Times (Seattle Mariners Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Passan discussed national headlines including his piece about Jackie Robinson Day and improvements needed for great involvement by African-Americans in baseball; Sullivan discussed the Texas Rangers and Sammy Sosa’s return to Chicago last night; Zolecki discussed the Philadelphia Phillies and Charlie Manuel’s tirade with a local broadcaster following the game last night. He also discussed Brett Myer’s struggles; Ashby discussed the Toronto Blue Jays and last night’s win over Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Boston Red Sox as well as recent injuries to Troy Glaus, B.J. Ryan, and Reed Johnson; Spencer discussed the Florida Marlins including Hanley Ramirez, Dontrelle Willis, and Miguel Cabrera’s birthday today; Baker made his debut on the show to discuss the Seattle Mariners and Felix Hernandez. Baker is the new beat writer for the Seattle Times replacing long time beat writer Bob Finnigan who retired last year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Baseball Beat: Tuesday, April 17th

Here is the rundown for the Tuesday, April 17th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner:

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Tom Candiotti, Broadcaster, Arizona Diamondbacks
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Richard Griffin, Toronto Star
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Gordon Edes, Boston Globe (Boston Red Sox Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Jorge Arangure, Washington Post; ESPN Magazine (Baltimore Orioles Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Brown discussed Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium on Sunday as well as Jason Schmidt’s health and Tim Hudson’s early season success; Candiotti discussed the Arizona Diamondbacks hot start including the need for another veteran and Randy Johnson’s return; Griffin discussed the Toronto Blue Jays injuries to B.J. Ryan and Reed Johnson; Edes discussed the Boston Red Sox Patriot’s Day game as well as Coco Crisp’s struggles, prospect Jacob Ellsbury, and the lack of Daisuke Matsuzaka-mania north of the border; Rogers discussed the Chicago Cubs including Alfonzo Soriano’s injury and difficult adjustment to centerfield and Aramis Ramirez wrist; Arangure discussed his move from the Washington Post to ESPN Magazine as well as his continuing coverage of the Baltimore Orioles.

After traveling back from Los Angeles during the show yesterday, I am back in the studio at XM Headquarters in D.C. today.

Charley Steiner is off the next two days, but Chuck Wiilson will be filling in.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Baseball Beat: Monday, April 16th

Here is the rundown for the Monday, April 16th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner:

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Scott Miller,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Hal McCoy, Dayton Daily News (Cincinnati Reds Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune (Chicago White Sox Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Ken Davidoff, Newsday
2:25 p.m.
Guest: William C. Rhoden, New York Times
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Ken Korach, Broadcaster, Oakland A’s

Guest Summaries:
Miller discussed the wearing of #42 yesterday by multiple players, MLB playing games in China, and the topic of African-Americans in baseball. McCoy talked about Ryan Freel potentially losing his job to Josh Hamilton, Kyle Lohse thinking too much on the mound, and the crazy weather that is affecting the opening weeks of the season. Gonzales talked about the struggling White Sox and how Ozzie Guillen might shuffle the lineup to get the offense going. Davidoff discussed the persistent rainouts to the New York clubs, including the PHI/NYM game to which he was en-route. He then discussed the pitching injuries on the Yankees staff and the lack of pitching on the Mets. Rhoden discussed the legacy of Jackie Robinson and the tribute yesterday reflecting the importance of Robinson on the sport and society. Korach discussed the A’s walk-off win over Mariano Rivera yesterday and Rich Harden’s potential shoulder injury.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Game Blog: San Diego Padres v. Los Angeles Dodgers

by Brent S. Gambill

If you are a regular listener of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner or a regular reader of MLB on XM and/or Baseball Beat: The Blog, than you are aware I am in Los Angeles this week. This is day six of nine on the left coast.

On Tuesday night, I did the first MLB on XM game blog. Tonight at Dodger Stadium, the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers meet for the first time since last season’s once in a lifetime four home run game. Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson made history by slugging four consecutive home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game off Trevor Hoffman. Nomar Garciaparra won it in the bottom of the 10th inning with a two-run walk-off shot. On such a momentous occasion, there must be a complete record. This will be the first game blog for Baseball Beat: The Blog.

I’m sitting front and center in the Dodger Stadium press box. Tonight is the season debut of shortstop Rafael Furcal as he returns from a spring training ankle sprain. He had one hit, one walk and one steal in a two-game rehab assignment for Single-A Inland Empire. The front side of the line-up looks as General Manager Ned Colletti envisioned it for the first time this season. Catcher Russell Martin moves to the six-hole after successfully filling the two-hole for the first two weeks of the season.

Before I head to see what excitement awaits me in the press box cafeteria, I’ll post tonight’s starting lineups:

San Diego Padres

2B Marcus Giles
RF Brian Giles
CF Mike Cameron
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Khalil Greene
LF Terrmel Sledge
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
C Rob Bowen
P David Wells (L)

Los Angeles Dodgers

SS Rafael Furcal
CF Juan Pierre
1B Nomar Garciaparra
2B Jeff Kent
LF Luis Gonzalez
C Russell Martin
RF Brady Clark
3B Ramon Martinez
P Derek Lowe (R)

I am back from the $7 dinner special. I asked about the early-bird, which got a polite chuckle. The dinner consisted of roast beef, broccoli, and potatoes with a salad (chicken, ham, tomatoes, and ranch dressing) and my favorite beverage of choice Coca-Cola. There was also pasta but knowing I’d end up wearing some of it I took the safe pass. I tell you these things, because before working in baseball I always wondered what was being served. I am assuming you have the same curiosities.

Los Angeles enters play tied with the Padres for second place in the NL West, 0.5 games behind Arizona. The Dodgers have won six of their last seven games. Thanks to the Dodgers Game Notes brought to you by Dodgers Media Relations.

Pre-Game Observations:

Some of the Dodgers players originally from California including Jeff Kent, Brett Tomko, and Mike Leiberthal had a photo-op in their Dodger uniforms while wearing their high school caps. Kent’s cap looked like an Oakland Athletic’s cap which prompted several “walk-by’s” to see what was going on.

Injured outfielder Matt Kemp was the most popular Dodger as he was imminently available for interviews. We talked on Wednesday, so I only said “Hello.”…ESPN’s Peter Gammons is here tonight as he will be a part of Sunday night’s national broadcast of the Padres/Dodgers game on Jackie Robinson Day…David Wells was the first Padre on the field tonight.

I had to look more than once to realize I was actually looking for future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in a San Diego uniform. It looked like Willie Mays as a New York Met. The difference is Maddux can still play at this point in his career. It was fun to watch the boyish grin and enjoyment he was getting during the workouts. He would do the exercises with the rest of the players, but disappear near those standing next to dugout. He was then the first finished on the way back…It always seems the pre-game workout is one of the most disenchanting times of the players game days. One person leading and about a half dozen, young players participating whole heartedly…During the National League Championship Series, or any St. Louis Cardinals games I’ve cover, Albert Pujols would always be one of the last to arrive for the workouts.

Top of the 1st Inning:

Here’s the first pitch of the game. We’re off and running. Dodgers starter Derek Lowe has posted a 2.37 ERA in his career against the Padres, his best mark against any NL team and second-best against any Major League team behind his hometown Tigers (1.82). Credit the game notes.

Marcus Giles is batting lead-off for the Friars tonight. Let’s hope he has more success on the west coast as a lead-off hitter than he did for the Atlanta Braves. He works the count decently, but harmlessly grounds out to third base. Brother Brian Giles follows suit by working the count to 3-0. He gets the predictable four pitch strike called on him looking. Next pitch is a fly-out to Juan Pierre in center.

The next batter is a regular listener of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner. He also holds the distinction of the only player to call in regularly to chat with a writer on air. He first called the studio in December when John Donovan of Sports Illustrated was discussing the inflated salaries of free agents in the off-season. Cameron called into give his take on the matter. When I answered the phone, he said “This is Mike Cameron. I want to talk to Charley.” After putting him on hold, I double-checked his mobile with the cell number I had for him. Sure enough, it was him. I put him on with Baseball Beat and he proceeded to describe how much money owners were making, so why shouldn’t the players take what the owners are offering. It was an impressive and enjoyable argument. Cameron just struck out. More on Cameron during his next at bat.

Bottom of the 1st Inning:

Furcal is introduced to a mild ovation. In his first at-bat of the season, he grounds out to shortstop. He seemed to run well to first, so I guess that means he’s healed. While this may not be popular opinion, I like Pierre as a two-hole hitter. He gets a lot of hits and seems to be a productive outs player. Any sabermetricians out there, please send your comments. Pierre hits a fly-ball to shallow left-center field. Terrmel Sledge makes a sliding catch for the second out.

Nomar Garciaparra, who gets the best ovation of any player in Dodger Blue each night, lines the first pitch he sees directly to the Giles in right field.

Top of the 2nd Inning:

Adrian Gonzalez steps to the plate. You think the Texas Rangers wish they’d held onto him? I think Padres General Manager Kevin Towers is underrated. He is one of the best bullpen architects in the game. He also pulled off a pair of solid deals last year in acquiring Chris Young and Gonzalez from rookie General Manager Jon Daniels. He also got middle relief star Cla Meredith from the Boston Red Sox’s Theo Epstein for back-up catcher Doug Mirabelli early last season. Gonzalez grounds out to first.

Khalil Greene almost took Lowe’s head off as he lined one back to the mound as part of his bat sailed toward shortstop. Lowe caught the ball and ducked. Nice play by the pitcher. The crowd is still oohing and awing.

Sledge hits one deep in the hole at short. Furcal, who has one of the best arms in baseball, throws a laser to Garciaparra at first who drops the ball. Runner is safe. Error 3. Kevin Kouzmanoff quickly grounds out to Jeff Kent at second for the out.

Bottom of the 2nd Inning:

In all the games I’ve watched Jeff Kent this week; he has not worked the count very much. On the second pitch, he sends a fly-ball to right field for the quick out.

One of the more impressive hitters I’ve watched this week, Luis Gonzalez looks to back to the younger version of himself this season. He had two home runs on Sunday in San Francisco and he’s had nice swings in each of the earlier games this week. He gets a hold of one that is headed for the gap. Cameron looks to be zoning in on it, but it’s just over the “Auto Club” ( sign in right-center field.

Russell Martin grounds out to short. Former Milwaukee Brewer Brady Clark walks to the plate. He sends one just out of the reach of Kouzmanoff down the third base line for a double. Manager Grady Little spoke very highly of Clark during his daily pre-game chat with reporters. Of the players, I’ve seen on the field working before the game this week, Clark and back-up catcher Mike Leiberthal have been the most active.

Runner on second, two outs. Ramon Hernandez works the count to 2-2. Let me be the first to say, the most overused phrase in this game blog already is “works the count.” I am aware. Hernandez hits a looper to the outfield just over the head of first baseman Gonzalez. Marcus Giles has a read on it. He gets to the ball, but it falls out of his glove as he falls down. With two outs, Clark is running and he comes around to score. It’s quickly 2-0 Dodgers. Most overused word in this game blog: “quickly.” I keep track of these things.

Pitcher Derek Lowe is at bat. Let’s hope Opening Day home run king and starter Jason Schmidt taught him something. Well, maybe not. Lowe swings and the ball literally dribbles one-third of the way to third base. Wells gives up and starts to walk halfway to the ball. No play. Lowe’s safe at first.

Furcal gets his second at bat of the year with runners on first and second. Wells gets him looking at the third strike leaving two runners stranded.

Since dinner, I’ve now eaten three oatmeal-raisin cookies. Those are truly my weakness. I’m on my third Coke as well. I may be coming back to DC more man than when I left. Yes, I now have cookie number four in my hand.

Top of the 3rd Inning:

I’ve never heard of Rob Bowen. If he does something, I may remember him next time. Guess not. He strikes out looking. Cecil, I mean Wells comes to the plate. He looks like he actually rests the bat on his shoulder right before the pitch comes his way. Wells hits one to the gap between second and shortstop. Furcal makes a diving stop and whips up and rifles the ball to first for the out. I like Edgar Renteria in Atlanta, but I really did enjoy watching Furcal man short all those years.

There is an interesting phenomenon at Dodger Stadium. Beach balls. They are everywhere. You’ll see one fall from the upper tiers and scare the living daylights out of fans in the lower levels. It never gets old. At least a couple times a game, you’ll see a stoppage of play for one falling in the outfield.

Former Brave Giles grounds out to third. Lowe’s looking solid thus far, but some credit needs to be given to some exceptional defensive plays behind him tonight. Guilt got me as I have yet to eat the fourth cookie. A beach ball just fell in front me.

Bottom of the 3rd Inning:

I am listening to the game on XM 188 with Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully on the call. Legend says the game is played around Scully’s stories. He can start a story with a player having a 3-2 count and two outs and he’ll still get the story finished before the inning is over. Remarkable.

Pierre hits a strong grounder back to Wells, who gloves it and gets the out at first. Garciaparra walks to the plate. He’s been swinging at first pitches, along with Kent, exclusively of late. He does it again knocking a single right up the middle. Kent’s up and takes the first pitch for a ball. On the second, Nomar steals second solely off Wells. The catch never had a shot. From Scully, “Wells really had his wallet lifted.” On a 1-2 count, Kent hits a solid single over second base for a single. Cameron gets to the ball quickly and sends a one-hopper to the plate. Third base coach, Rich Donnelly, wisely holds Nomar at third.

Gonzalez hits first pitch, a curve ball, he sees between first and second for a single. Kent rounds second and barely gets to third before the throw. There’s a quick trip to the mound from the Padres dugout along with the catcher. San Diego’s bullpen is warming up. The hits have been off curve balls that Scully said “have no bite.”

Things could break wide open as Russell Martin takes his turn. On a 0-1 count, Martin swings, misses, and falls down. Gonzalez steals second without a throw. The next pitch is hit to centerfield. Kent scores making it 4-0 Dodgers. Donnelly again shows respect to Gold Glover Cameron as he holds Gonzalez at third.

Bowen walks out to the mound. The crowd is cheering. As the crowds roaring grows, Padres Manager Bud Black emerges from the dugout and the crowd goes bonkers. Black signals to the bullpen and Wells is coming out. His line is two and one-third innings pitched, eight hits, five earned runs, one strikeout, no walks, and one home run allowed. Hope he wasn't starting in your fantasy league.

Mike Thompson is the new pitcher. The hit and run is on with the first pitch. Clark hits the ball directly to second base. Giles is running to second to cover the base for the steal and falls to his left to catch the ball. The runner is already at second, but Giles gets the second out at first. Gonzalez crosses the plate to make it 5-0.

Martinez is up. He grounds out for the final out of the inning. Martin is stranded at second.

Top of the 4th Inning:

Charley Steiner and Rick Monday return on the Dodger’s Radio Network broadcast on XM 188. Outfielder brother Giles leads-off the inning. He lines the first pitch to center for a single. No hitter over. Cameron lines the second pitch to center. Lowe’s in his first trouble of the night. Gonzalez is up and he drives a base hit to right field for single. Clark makes a fantastic throw to the plate that is cut off by Garciaparra. Four pitches, three singles for the Padres.

Greene’s at the plate and hits a ground ball to Furcal. 6-4-3 double play. One run scores. 5-1 Dodgers. Cameron is at third with two outs. Sledge is the batter. Full count. Lowe sends it over the plate. Looks like he caught the corner from my vantage point, but umpire Mark Carlson saw a ball. Kouzmanoff is up with runners on first and third. He hits a slow roller to Furcal, who sends a fastball to first base for the out. Lowe gets out of the inning that started with the bases loaded no outs by allowing only one run. 5-1 Dodgers.

Bottom of the 4th Inning:

Lowe is the first batter for the Dodgers. Thompson walks him on four pitches. Not a good start to the inning to walk the pitcher so easily. If this were little league, you’d hear a lot of “good eye” from the crowd. Furcal, who has looked spectacular on defensive, is up. Thompson throws his fifth consecutive ball. The catcher makes a trip to the mound. The next pitch is right over the plate and Furcal hammers a double to deep right-centerfield. That may have been the hardest hit ball tonight. Furcal was flying around first, but looked a little pensive doing it. There are runners on second and third with no outs.

Pierre moves from the on deck circle. He hits a bouncer to Gonzalez at first for an out. Lowrider begins to play and the crowd is on its feet for Garciaparra. He again swings at the first pitch for a lined single to left field. Lowe and Furcal score. 7-1 Dodgers. Furcal was rolling around third without any hesitation this time. He’s looking healthy. Rick Monday just said that Nomar swings at the most first pitches in baseball.

Kent and Gonzo are next. Each sends fly-balls to the outfield for outs. Inning over.

Top of the 5th Inning:

Bowen is up and sends a slow roller to first for the quick, easy first out. Another beach ball just fell from the rafters to the right of the press box. Who else is going to give you that sort of information? Pitcher Thompson is going to bat for himself. Looks like Black is going to let him eat some innings tonight. He strikes out on three pitches.

Second baseman Giles hits a single to Gonzalez in left. Brian Giles sends a high fly-ball to short left field that Gonzo runs down for the out.

Bottom of the 5th Inning:

Russell Martin starts the inning. He gets a lead-off walk on five pitches. Brady Clark strolls to the plate. Steiner just said, “All of Clark’s hits this season are doubles.” He then gives the scores and stabs me with Braves getting routed at home by the Florida Marlins. I watched part of the game during dinner. Not pretty. Mark Redman’s earned run average in two starts is now over 12. Once Lance Cormier is back healthy, he may be sent down or released. Clark gets his first single of the season. There are now runners on first and second with nobody out. The Padres pitching coach trots out to the mound. “There is no one up in the Padres bullpen,” said Steiner. “Looks like he’s going to take one for the team.”

Monday and Steiner are now discussing Lou Pinella’s blow-up following the Cubs loss after being up 5-0 to the Cincinnati Reds earlier today. They went on to discuss Tommy Lasorda and other manager tirades of years past. “That’s the G-rated version,” says Monday as Steiner laughs. I have to admit, it sound like they have a lot of fun. In the spring, there was a game where the topic was airplanes and Steiner started calling Monday “Sky Captain.”

Martinez hits the 3-1 pitch to short left field for the first out of the inning. Lowe bunts the ball perfectly down the first base line to advance the runners to second and third. Two outs. Furcal up again. Bite of oatmeal raisin cookie. Did I sneak that by you? That’s for my lovely wife. 1-2 count on Furcal. He pulls the next pitch to the gap in right-center for a two-RBI double and his second two-bagger of the night. “You can clearly see his ankle is bothering him,” comments Monday sarcastically. 9-1 Dodgers. There is still no one up in the San Diego bullpen.

Pierre, the only Dodger without a hit tonight walks to the plate. He hits a slow roller toward first. Thompson fields the ball. The only play is to race Pierre to first and he barely beats him for the third out.

Top of the 6th Inning:

Watch your head the closest beach ball yet, just fell right in front of me. I’d jump back startled, but I’d be more surprised if one didn’t drop near me. While I typed that another one just shocked a visiting San Diego writer on the left side of the press box.

Cameron strikes out on 2-2 count. Gonzalez is up and swiftly lines out to first.

I don’t know if anyone realizes how much work these game blogs, or as Bill Simmons calls them game diaries, are. I am already over 3,000 words.

I am not trying to short change the Padres, but Sledge just hits a looping line drive to short centerfield for the third out. With the score 9-1 Dodgers, it seems like they are just swinging for the end of the game. Crowd is getting the hint and starting to head to the exits. Unless this is the Dodger Dog 6th Inning Eats.

Bottom of the 6th Inning:

Garciaparra is up. The first pitch is well off the plate, so we’re going to have a full at-bat this time. Full count. He hits pops a ball to short right field for the first out of the inning. Kent makes up for Nomar by swinging at the first pitch for an easy out to centerfield. Gonzalez pops the third pitch up to shortstop for the third out. This game is officially on cruise control. I would not be surprised to see some substitutions soon.

Top of the 7th Inning:

Andre Eithier to right field and Wilson Betemit to third base with Brady Clark moving to left field and Ramon Martinez to second. I am disappointed as I just missed the always exciting Kiss Cam while I was making note of the changes in the Dodgers line-up. A correction, or rather an addition, from earlier. Rangers GM Jon Daniels dealt Gonzalez, Young, and Terrmel Sledge to the Padres for Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka along with a minor leaguer. Otsuka did have a solid year in 2006. Of course, former Dodger Eric Gagne was signed in the off-season so that make the deal look even worse if he’s no longer the closer. Okay, okay, I’ll move on.

Sledge singles to start the inning. Kouzmanoff makes the next out. Bowen hits a screamer to centerfield. Runners on first and second with one out. Paul McAnulty pitch hits for departing pitcher Thompson. “If there’s one thing we know from seeing McAnulty play is that he goes full tilt,” comments Monday. He works the count full. Lowe delivers a pitch just off the corner for ball four. Bases loaded, one out.

Grady Little makes the walk to the mound. Joe Beimel is up in the bullpen. Marcus Giles, who is one for three, is at bat. Giles hits a hopper back to Lowe, who throws home to Martin then to first for the 1-2-3 double play. I’m guessing that’s Lowe’s last inning, but he’s looked good tonight. The depth in the Dodgers rotation has really shined this week as their pitchers having been going six innings plus most of the week minus Jason Schmidt’s minor cramp that caused him to leave early on Opening Day.

Bottom of the 7th Inning:

Rule 5 selection from the Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Cameron is the new pitcher for San Diego. Thompson's line is three and two-third innings pitched, four hits, four earned runs. Martin hits a screamer to right that tails off toward the line, but its easily run down by Brian Giles.

Let’s give Major League Baseball from credit. They know how to do logos. There are logos for everything. Spring Training, Civil Rights Game, All-Star Game, World Series, and now Jackie Robinson Day. The logos are painted on the field. The logos are generally done pretty well. My biggest concern in seeing logos is that they are overly busy, but baseball tends to be pretty good about having solid, simplistic logos produced.

Here’s the announcement you’ve been waiting for. 49,090 fans in attendance.

Martinez hits a looping single to short centerfield. Runners on first and second with one out. They are going to let Lowe stay in the game. There is quickly a 2-0 count on Lowe. A trip to the mound apparently signals the start of the wave in the crowd. Ball three. A bright yellow beach ball with a Wal-Mart-like smile on it is bouncing around below us. Ball four. Lowe takes a base. Bases loaded, one out.

Rafael Furcal, who is two for four, comes to the plate. He was looking to cap off his night with something big and strikes out with all his might. Pierre, who is still the only hitless Dodger tonight, is up. Pierre hits the 2-2 pitch on a slow roller to Marcus Giles, who just gets him at first for the third out.

Top of the 8th Inning:

Lowe returns for the eighth inning. I’m a bit surprised he is still in there in a game like this. The Dodgers have won this game, so why chalk up more pitches and innings for Lowe this early in the season. Brian Giles hits a sinking liner to centerfield. Pierre takes a couple steps in and has to fall to the ground to catch the falling ball. As he lands the ball jars loose for a single.

Cameron has not had a good night as he is easily disposed of with a strikeout. Lowe’s had his number tonight. Gonzalez moseys up to the plate. I honestly just wanted to use the word “moseys”. Sue me. He hits one deep to shallow centerfield for another diving attempt by Pierre. This time he makes the play for the second out.

Another nice thing about being in the press box besides the free seat, nice view, free economical all you can eat dinners, unlimited caffeine, and game notes. I think that’s everything. Anyway, it’s nice to get one of the free items for fans each night. Tonight it’s a Los Angeles Dodgers hat sponsored by Frazee Paint. The problem with these gifts is who to give them to. You don’t think, I’m going to debate it out loud in this blog. Not a chance. I’ll only say this. Its coming soon to a friend or family member soon.

Greene is up and sends a fly-ball to right field. Eithier trots toward the gap in right-center for the out.

Bottom of the 8th Inning:

Garciaparra looks at the first pitch. He sends a come backer to the pitcher for the out. The next batter is Wilson Betemit, who is batting for the first time tonight. While he’s been struggling thus far this season, but he has been patient at the plate.

“Wilson’s coach told him he had zero chance to play baseball,” said Monday. “Sounds like he was quite a motivational speaker,” replies Steiner.

Betemit goes down on strikes. Following the at bat, the following exchange took place.

“You ever roller blade?” queried Monday.

“No,” replied Steiner.

“When he was with the Mets he used to roller blade to lose weight. He lost 20 pounds.”

“If he was roller blading flushing, he probably lost more than weight.”

“Yeah, like his wallet.”

“If your looking to lose weight and a wallet, we know where you can do it.”

“Yeah, Flushing,” joked Monday as each laughs.

To be honest, I have no idea who they were talking about but I laughed none the less.

Eithier heads to the plate for his first at bat of the night. He’s struggled almost as badly as Betemit this season. He follows Betemit’s lead and strikes out. He did do it faster, though.

A quick look at the crowd, its obvious a mass exit is continuing to ensue. Before the break, Steiner states sarcastically, “Leaving what a good idea.”

Top of the 9th Inning:

Derek Lowe has retired for the night, so Rudy Seanez enters the game for the Dodgers. Sledge promptly gets walked to put the lead-off hitter on. Kouzmanoff swiftly strikes out for the first out of the inning. Bowen is up. He works it to a full count. Seanez fools him as he tries to check swing, but couldn’t hold up for the third strike and he’s out.

Geoff Blum enters the game as a pinch hitter. The remaining crowd is on its feet. Blum sends a liner to right-centerfield, but Eithier runs it down for the final out of the game. Dodgers win 9-1 for their third consecutive win.


It is time to get down to the clubhouse for post-game sound. I am going to try the Padres clubhouse first to see if I can catch Wells. I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s game blog. The final tally is over 3,600 words. As the Dodgers post game song plays, “I love L.A. (We Love It)”, I’m off.

Remember to tune in Sunday at 6 p.m. (eastern)/3 p.m. (pacific) for a special Jackie Robinson Day Edition of The Show with Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy live from Dodger Stadium.

Baseball Beat: Friday, April 13th

Here is the rundown for the Friday, April 13th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner:
(All Times Eastern)

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Steve Phillips, ESPN
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Mike Downey, Chicago Tribune
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Joe Simpson, Broadcaster, Atlanta Braves
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Claire Smith, Philadelphia Inquirer
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Michael Wilbon, Washington Post
2:45 p.m.
Listener Calls

Guest Summaries:
Phillips discussed this Sunday’s Jackie Robinson Day including his role in baseball and American society as well as the declining number of African-Americans in baseball; Downey discussed the future sale of the Chicago Cubs including Mark Cuban’s lack of involvement as well as Jerry Colangelo and Ernie Banks efforts to form groups to make an offer for the club. He also discussed Alfonzo Soriano’s struggles in centerfield, Chicago White Sox early season, and tomorrow’s Olympic announcement between Los Angeles and Chicago; Simpson discussed the Atlanta Braves early season success including the improved bullpen and last night’s surprising loss to the Washington Nationals; Smith discussed this week’s Don Imus story and put it into the context of how far our country has come yet still needs to go. She also discussed the declining number of African-American and Caucasian American players in baseball as well as how Jackie Robinson would have handled the situation; Wilbon discussed the impact of African-American athletes being more active playing basketball and football than baseball and he mentioned ways to reverse the numbers and bring more minority athletes back to baseball. He discussed his recent conversation with Jimmie Lee Solomon and how marketing such as Nike and Adidas have a tremendous impact on future athletes’ game of choice. There was also talk about how easy it is to play basketball as opposed to having the equipment and enough players (18) to play baseball.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Baseball Beat: Thursday, April 12th

Here is the rundown for the Thursday, April 12th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner:
(All Times Eastern)

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Bob Nightengale, USA Today Sports Weekly
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Marty Noble, (New York Mets Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Jim Souhan, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Tony Massarotti, Boston Herald
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Steve Gilbert, (Arizona Diamondbacks Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle (Oakland A's Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Nightengale discussed the on-going non-roof situation in the Minnesota Twins ballpark design, which was unveiled by the Twins prior to the show. He also discussed his interview about Jackie Robinson being honored and how it seems to be overdone now that entire teams are wearing 42 on Jackie Robinson Day without necessarily understanding all that's behind it. Bob also discussed the injury to Mike Mussina and the need for starting pitching on the Yankees. Noble discussed the poor performance of Oliver Perez yesterday and the pitching woes of the New York Mets. He also said that for all intents and purposes, no one should bank on Pedro as the savior of the rotation, since you don’t know what you are getting when he returns to the team. Souhan discussed the lack of a roof in the Minnesota stadium designs, and basically chalks it up to “building the stadium they could get”. Massarotti discussed Matsuzaka’s Fenway debut and talked about how it was a bigger deal in Japan than it was here, because now that it is over, it’s just another baseball game. He also touched on how impressive JD Drew has been in Boston thus far and how unimpressive Coco Crisp has been. Gilbert discussed the young Diamondbacks still adjusting to the league, positive news on Randy Johnson returning, and that Chris Young’s injury is improving and he is expected back tomorrow. Slusser talked about Bobby Crosby starting slow and experiencing back spasms, the hot start for Mike Piazza, and the overall typical-A’s start to the season: sluggish bats and no run support for the starting pitching.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Observations from the Left Coast

Tonight's the rubber match of the three game set with the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. I'm on day four of a nine day trip in L.A. Last night, I did a game blog of the Dodgers 2-1 win over the Rockies for the MLB on XM blog. I had planned to do one for Baseball Beat: the Blog tonight, but decided to wait until Friday's game when the reigning two-time National League West division champion San Diego Padres come to town. Remember it was the Padres that the Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs against in the bottom of the ninth inning last year. I figured if you read last night's game blog, you could probably use a day off from another game blog. Of course, it might just be me who needs the break. I'm still sleeping on east coast hours in a west coast bed. In its place, I'm doing a "Observations from the Left Coast." I'd like to dedicate this to loyal reader and Baseball Beat intern iMax.

As I was typing Brad Penny just made a diving catch off the mound for the final out in the top of the second inning. He landed slightly awkward, but we'll see next inning. Last night in the clubhouse, Penny seemed to be in quite a jovial mood. Speaking of jovial, "Samantha , will you marry me?" was just posted on the right field scoreboard. When the camera panned on the couple, the future groom was on one knee as the future bride had the "this is how he's proposing" look on her face. Once she nodded yes, the camera panned to the reason she was quick to accept. He put quite a rock on her finger.

It's another chilly night in Los Angeles. If I'm back home in Washington D.C., we'd call this heaven. In L.A., its just called cold.

Its now the bottom of the third inning. Nomar Garciapara just knocked in two runs with a two out single to left field. Its spine-tingling to hear over 40,000 fans cheer. The press box at Dodger Stadium is in the middle between the upper and lower teer facing behind home plate. Perfect vantage point to view a game and feel the complete roar of the crowd. I'm enjoying this crowd. Jeff Kent just knocked a single to right field scoring Nomar, who had advanced to second on a balk by Rockies pitcher Jared Hirsh.

I have to give it to Dodgers starter Brad Penny tonight. While I'm not usually a fan, he's been quite impressive tonight. He just made a barehanded catch and threw out the runner at first. In case your curious, I'm eating peach cobbler and drinking a Coca-Cola. I never thought Arkansas and Los Angeles had so much in common. This is like after dinner treats I'd get a local Western Sizzlin in my home state of Arkansas.

Let's set the scene. Dodger Stadium has been here since 1962. Its a park that transcends eras with its outfield fascade. There are bleachers in right and left field with awning above it that looks like a paper fan unfolded. In left field is a big square scoreboard with rounded edge and a color screen. In right field is the six sided scoreboard shaped like the Chevy logo. The shape is unique, but the screen in the middle is just rectangular with the scoreboard and then separate displays with the time on the top half and umpires and numbers on the lower half. There are Palm trees in near the outside of the stadium in the left and right field corners. The upper deck is a aqua blue type colored seats with different shades of yellow seats in the lower levels. The outfield walls are painted Dodger Blue with "LA" logos throughout along with billboards and two small scoreboard tickers. At 9:38 p.m. (pacific), the sky is dark and cloudless with no moon in sight. Takashi Saito just made the job from the left field bullpen for the final three outs of the night.

Saito is wrapping up the game right now. While this was a posting of rambling, I didn't want to use "Ramblings" in respect to Jayson Stark's work column on This concludes the first observations from the left coast.

2007 National League Season Preview

by Brent S. Gambill

Last week, I gave my American League Season Preview, so this week I’ll give my National League Season Preview as well as my World Series and individual award selections. Without further ado, let’s get the picks:

National League East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. New York Mets*
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals

Every team has an off-year. 2006 was that year for the Atlanta Braves. The Braves biggest weakness was their bullpen. For the first time in John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox’s successful tenure, they spent the off-season overhauling the bullpen. Closer Bob Wickman returns after being acquired midseason in 2006. Former Pittsburgh Pirate Mike Gonzales and Seattle Mariner Rafael Soriano were acquired to add unprecedented depth to the staff. The rotation has its usual depth, but it will hinge on Tim Hudson and Mike Hampton returning to form (Since this was written, Hampton has been injured and will miss the season). John Smoltz will continue to dominate and Chuck James looks to have solid sophomore year. Lance Cormier and Kyle Davis will fight for the final spot in the rotation along while spring training signee Mark Redman will take Hampton’s place in the rotation. The Braves offense scored the second most runs in the National League in 2006 and the potent offense returns this year. The right-side of the infield is different with new lead-off hitter and second baseman Kelly Johnson replacing the release Marcus Giles and rookie Scott Thorman platooning with Craig Wilson at first base replacing Adam LaRoche. The question of the season will be Andruw Jones contact as he is in the last year of his deal. Whether he returns or not, the future of the Braves offense is in the hands catcher Brian McCann and right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The New York Mets finally had everything come together in 2006 to end the Braves ownership of the NL East. The question of the off-season will center around the Mets rotation with Pedro Martinez out until July and the club’s lack of an impact acquisition in the off-season. Omar Minaya is convinced that John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Mike Pelfrey will make for a solid back-end of the rotation. To be honest, I was skeptical all off-season, but in the spring those three looked like solid up and comers. With the Mets offense behind them, they’ll look better than they are. Duaner Sanchez has yet to return from injury, so the bullpen is basically Billy Wagner and a bunch of power arms. They’ll get by, but they’ll lose a few more games without better strength in the pen. The offense with arguably the best left side of the infield in baseball with Jose Reyes and David Wright will keep the club in the top of the league in runs again. The Phillies Jimmy Rollins made the claim during the spring that Philadelphia is the team to beat in the NL East. He could be correct, but he must not have checked the team’s bullpen yet. The Phils upgraded their rotation with Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton. A full-season worth of Jamie Moyer will also help. NL Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley form one of the best one-two punches in baseball. The offense will socre and the rotation will keep the team in games, but 2007 will look similar to the Braves of 2006 with a band of unknowns in the bullpen. If the pen behind Tom Gordon is as bad as I think, I will not be surprised to see the Florida Marlins pass the Phillies in the division. We talk so much about Reyes/Wright and Howard/Utley that the left side of the infield in south Florida gets overlooked. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera and shortstop Hanley Ramirez form one of the best, young cores for any roster in baseball. Following last seasons, surprisingly successful season, the Marlins hope to take the next step in 2007. The rotation should continue to progress and mature along with new closer Josh Johnson. With the hopes of a new stadium on the horizon as well as new manager Freddy Gonzales, the Marlins will be a team competing hard in every game this year. The Washington Nationals are set-up to be one of the worse teams in baseball this year. With a rotation of one in John Patterson, the Nats could challenge the all-time record for losses in a season. Most scouts during spring training were estimating 115 to 125 losses in the Beltway. With a new stadium opening in 2008 and a farm system decimated by Major League Baseball’s management while searching for new ownership (remember Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee could be Nationals right now). The Nationals have a cornerstone player in Ryan Zimmerman and as the farm system gets rebuilt, Washington will be a financial beast in the years to come in one of the best markets in baseball.

National League Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Houston Astros
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Chicago Cubs

The St. Louis Cardinals are led by two of the shrewdest figures in baseball in General Manager Walt Jocketty and Manager Tony LaRussa. Jocketty has been second guessed for years, but he’s always built a solid club around the core of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds on offense and Chris Carpenter in the rotation. With a massive overhaul in the rotation with the loss of Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, and Jason Marquis many will question this year’s success. With Adam Wainwright, Kip Wells, and Braden Looper moving to the rotation, the Cardinals will be as strong as last year with another 80+ wins club. The Brewers have been the hot pick this spring, but I think they are still a year away. Their success is hinged on Ben Sheets returning as the healthy, ace of the staff. Dave Bush and free agent acquisition Suppan is a pair of underrated starters and closer Francisco Cordero is possibly the most underrated closer in the game. Prince Fielder naturally took the leadership role with the club last season and he looks to take the next step to superstardom. This is a pivotal year for Ricki Weeks and J.J. Hardy to stay healthy and contribute. The Houston Astros finally got the big bat for the middle of their order in the off-season by signing Carlos Lee. The Astros had a woefully anemic offense in 2006, so with Lee in the middle to protect Lance Berkman the club should be a better offensive team. The rotation is still questionable as Roger Clemens has not made up his mind about returning yet. Best friend Andy Pettitte returned to his original club the New York Yankees. Roy Oswalt remains as the man at the top of the rotation. Brad Lidge is still the closer for now (since this was written, Lidge was replaced as closer by Dan Wheeler). The Cincinnati Reds enter year two of the Wayne Krivsky era. The club had a large turnover to the roster last season, but the organization is getting rebuilt in the image of the Twins by Krivsky. Ken Griffey moves to right field this year, but the most intriguing story has to be Rule Five selection Josh Hamilton. If Hamilton becomes the impact player he was initially drafted to be, the Reds could be on the fast track to long-term success. Pirate fans have been waiting for more than a decade for a .500 team. This could be that year. The club’s big off-season acquisition was former Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche. With Jason Bay finally having some protection, the offense should be much improved. The rotation is young and talented. The club success and Dave Littlefield tenure is tied to the success of these young pitchers. The Chicago Cubs made the biggest splash of the off-season by spending obscene amounts of money to acquire Alfonzo Soriano among others. I see this year’s Cubs as a team similar to the 1994 Mets and eighties George Bell Cubs with lots of money and hype that will not translate into wins. Considering the how much money was spent, there are simply two many holes and questions around this club. Now with the future sale of the club, there will be too many questions and too few answers at Wrigley Field this year. There is one certainty, though. Wrigley will sellout all summer as usual.

National League West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. San Diego Padres
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Francisco Giants

Few organizations have had more impressive transformations than the Ned Colletti built Los Angeles Dodgers. With Logan White’s prosperous farm system beginning to join Dodger Stadium in the form of Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and James Loney along with future third baseman stud Andy LaRoche, the Dodgers have a solid mix of veterans and youth. Sluggers Nomar Garciapara and Jeff Kent make up the right side of the infield while catcher Russell Martin could be the future of the franchise from behind the plate. Former San Francisco Giant Jason Schmidt joins the rotation along with free agent signee Brett Tomko. Derek Lowe returns at the top of the rotation along with Brad Penny as two of the most underrated and success starters in baseball. If everything comes together as I think it will, this could be the first World Series at Chavez Ravine since 1988. The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the most stocked farm systems in baseball. General Manager Josh Byrnes continues to build a veteran heavy rotation with Randy Johnson, Doug Davis, and Livan Hernandez behind last year’s NL Cy Young Brandon Webb. The offense will come from centerfielder Eric Byrnes and young offensive forces Conner Jackson and Stephen Drew along with future star centerfielder Chris Young. I like the San Diego Padres club as much as any team in baseball with one of the best bullpens in baseball along with a solid, deep rotation with Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, and David Wells. Health will always be an issue with veterans and I think that will end the Padres NL West dominance this season. The Colorado Rockies are starting to look like a team built for the future. The heart of the order has young sluggers Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday, and Brad Hawpe. Willy Taveras and Kazuo Matsui provide a solid lead-off for the top of the order. I really like Taveras and think he’ll reward the Rockies if they are patient with him. The rotation will continue to be a battle of attrition for starters with higher earned run averages than the rest of the league, but forming young pitchers early to handle this stress could finally put this organization in the right direction in the years to come. The San Francisco Giants are going to be about Barry Bonds chase of Hank Aaron’s home run record. Barry Zito is the new “Barry” poster boy, but it remains to be seen if he will be the true ace of the staff that he’s paid to be. Matt Cain has one of the brightest futures of any pitcher in baseball. The offense is made up of a host of veterans and much like the Padres could battle injuries throughout the year. New-old manager Bruce Bochey will miss the reliability he had at the end of games in San Diego with Trevor Hoffman, but getting used to the Bonds circus will be his biggest adjustment.


National League Division Series:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers over New York Mets, 3-2
  • Atlanta Braves over St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1

National League Championship Series:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers over Atlanta Braves, 4-3

National League Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series:

  • Detroit Tigers over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-1.

Detroit literally handed the World Series away in 2006, but this year their experience and ability to handle the pressure on world’s greatest stage will carry them to their first World Series since 1984.

Individual Awards:

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins (Nate Robertson could emerge as the second best left hander in baseball).
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves

AL Rookie of the Year: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (the true Rookie of the Year, not a veteran from Japan playing his first year in MLB, will be Delmon Young, Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
NL Rookie of the Year: Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Washington, Texas Rangers
NL Manager of the Year: Ned Yost, Milwaukee Brewers



Clips to Click:

Baseball Book of the Week:

Book of the Week (Fiction):


If you are interested in more frequent postings about Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner, please save a link for Baseball Beat: the Blog and check it for daily updates. I post the tentative rundown prior to the show daily with a full rundown including guest summaries following Beat each day. Feel free to drop me a line anytime at

Baseball Beat: Wednesday, April 11th

Here is the rundown for the Wednesday, April 11th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner:
(All Times Eastern)

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Mel Antonen, USA Today
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Bill Brown, Broadcaster, Houston Astros
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Tommy Hutton, Broadcaster, Florida Marlins
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Sean McAdam, Providence Journal (Red Sox Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News (Rangers Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Antonen discussed the National League East. He analyzed the opening struggles of the Phillies, but thinks their offense can find it’s swing and get back into the race similar to last year. He feels the Mets pitching will improve when Pedro returns but the Braves are the team to beat this year. Brown discussed the change in the Astros closer from Brad Lidge to Dan Wheeler and that the change is not necessarily permanent if Lidge returns to form. Elliott reviewed Toronto’s performance thus far this season. Hutton talked about how he doesn’t expect the Marlins to experience a “sophomore slump" this year, and that the infield defense and pitching is solid. He also touched on the closer situation and how the Marlins are being very careful with Josh Johnson so not cause long-term damage by rushing him back into action. McAdam discussed the Fenway debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka this evening and Matsuzaka’s intense effort to fit in with the club, learn English, and handle the intense Boston media. He and Charley also discussed Matsuzaka's potential to become the future Boston ace. Grant talked about Eric Gagne’s pending return and how he is expected to return as a dominant closer. He also talked about how Sammy Sosa looks as if he is getting back into form but it is far too early to be able to judge if he can consistently contribute in the Majors again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Baseball Beat: Tuesday, April 10th

Here is the rundown for the Tuesday, April 10th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.
(all times Eastern)

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Ray Ratto, San Francisco Chronicle
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Cardinals Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Bill Plunkett, OC Register (Angels Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Tyler Kepner, New York Times (Yankees Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Paul Hagen, Philadelphia Daily News
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Sheldon Ocker, Akron Beacon Journal (Indians Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Ratto discussed the lack of hitting on the A’s and how Shannon Stewart, Eric Chavez, and Bobby Crosby need to get going and be consistent hitters again for the A’s to have a chance to compete in the AL West. He and Charley also discussed how the SF Giants just simply look old and that it seems this year, teams are not afraid of Bonds and are pitching to him aggressively. Strauss discussed Chris Carpenter and how impingement and arthritis is very vague and the club should clarify the injury. He also discussed the success of Braden Looper thus far and how the team just needs to find their swing again and get rolling. Plunkett discussed the relocation of the Angels/Indians series to Milwaukee and how Milwaukee was the last place he expected to be today. He also said that the Indians have it the roughest since they sat around for days not knowing if they would play, and then were told to pack quickly and go on the road. Kepner discussed Carl Pavano’s decent pitching performances thus far. Overall, Tyler thinks that the starting pitching is indeed as shaky as people expected and Phil Hughes may be called up. He updated the condition of Chien-Ming Wang and said that he should be back by May 1st. Finally, Tyler discussed how A-Rod has come around and is the first Yankee in history to hit this many HRs this early and is looking to have a great season. Hagen discussed the Phillies poor start and how the one concern going into the season was the bullpen and that is very much a factor so far. Also, they are not hitting well with runners in scoring position and the starting pitching is performing as well as expected. Ocker discussed the relocation of the Indians home opener to Milwaukee and the the snow fall at Jacobs Field, describing the wintery scene over the weekend and how the Indians will just have to do their best to fight through this early challenge.


I am in Los Angeles this week. I was the on-site producer for Monday's special Opening Day Edition of The Show with Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy from Dodger Stadium. I'll be here through next Monday as Home Plate will have a special Jackie Robinson Day Edition of The Show on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Special thanks to Associate Producer Ian Spring for updating the blog this week following Baseball Beat.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Baseball Beat: Friday, April 6th

Here is the rundown for the Friday, April 6th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Jim Price, Broadcaster, Detroit Tigers
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Denny Matthews, Broadcaster, Kansas City Royals
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times (Tampa Bay Devil Rays Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Henry Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco Giants Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Troy Renck, Denver Post (Colorado Rockies Beat)
2:45 p.m.
Actual Calls from Actual Listeners

Guest Summaries:
Price discussed the loss of Kenny Rogers to the DET starting rotation but how the DET lineup appears to be in good shape to make another run for the Championship if they stay healthy. Matthews talked about Daisuke Matsuzaka’s debut in Kansas City yesterday, Gil Meche’s success on opening day and talked very positively about Alex Gordon’s character and personality but needs to work hard on his offense and defense to be able to put it all together. Topkin discussed the youth on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as well as making the Yankees look like an old team during the opening series in NY. Schulman talked about Zito’s okay opening day outing, Mike Sweeney's trip to the DL, possibilities of an extension for Omar Vizquel, and finally Bonds and how he is amazed at how he can hit and field so well this year. Renck talked about the Rockies’ lineup being very decent, but the pitching being suspect, especially on the road. They also discussed the movement of the ball in Coors Field given altitude and possible changes that could be made to the park to level the playing field.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Baseball Beat: Thursday, April 5th

Here is the rundown for the Thursday, April 5th edition of Baseball Beat. Chuck Wilson was in for Charley Steiner, who was traveling with the Los Angeles Dodgers to San Francisco today.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Dayn Perry,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Lyle Spencer, (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post (Washington Nationals Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Maury Brown,
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Jim Baumbach, Newsday (New York Yankees Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Perry discussed the fast and slow starts of various teams, Dice-K’s debut today, and Barry Bonds chances of breaking the HR record, as well as debating if race is an issue in the negative stance towards Bonds. Spencer discussed Gary Matthews Jr.’s fast start out of the gate and how it has done wonders to silence the criticism of the past few months. Svrluga talked about the Nats comeback win yesterday, giving Manny Acta his first win as Nationals manager. Brown discussed the MLB/iN DEMAND agreement to carry the MLB EXTRA INNINGS package on cable and how the owners will make a lot of money through this deal. Smizik discussed the Pirates winning their first games of the season and how they look a lot better than many predicted. Baumbach talked about the blazing start of the Mets, both in starting pitching and at the plate. He also touched on the Yankees and the leg injury of Johnny Damon.

2007 American League Season Preview

by Brent S. Gambill

If 2007 had a theme, it would be the year of the milestones. Barry Bonds chases Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record, Tom Glavine looks to gain his 300th win, Craig Biggio nears 3,000 hits, and a record five players take aim at 500 career home runs in the same season. Besides the individual accomplishments, it’s the teams that are going to keep our attention all season. Whether you’re a Dodgers, Royals, or Blue Jays fan, there is hope for all on Opening Day. Before every season over the last seven years, I’ve put together a preview of the season with my picks for friends and family. This year, I’m making it available via our new blog.

American League East

1. New York Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The Yankees have depth and offense similar to previous incarnations of the Red Sox this decade. Comparing the lineups and rotations, I simply have more faith in the pinstripes. The question of the summer will surround Alex Rodriguez contract, but a solid 2007 and any playoff success will turn boos into cheers. No matter what happens, someone else will be signing the checks in 2008. Boston has more questions than a team spending $100+ million in payroll should have. Their rotation on paper looks like a nice fantasy squad, but the reality is no one has a clue what to expect. The bullpen has improved, but could be a problem when Schilling, Beckett, and Wakefield have short outings. Schilling and Wakefield look to decline based on age, and Schilling spring conditioning is troubling. With question marks at second and centerfield, it looks to be a frustrating summer in Boston. Frustrating if you wanted a World Series or division title that is. Toronto shocked many by finishing second in the AL East in 2006. The Blue Jays will again challenge for second, but I see the Red Sox returning to their second place role in the division. The Jays continue to have talent around the field, but the back-end of the rotation is going to cause them fits during Boston and New York series. If A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay can stay healthy, look for the Toronto to challenge for the Wild Card. As with most years, the Orioles can only improve. While the moves look minor on paper, the bullpen should be much improved and the rotation’s mix of veterans (Jaret Wright and Steve Traschel) and youth (Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, and Hayden Penn) will be more consistent after a full spring training with pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Last season, many of the young arms were participating in the World Baseball Classic. Nick Markakis looks to make the leap this year and make himself a household name around the game. The Devil Rays have as deep of a minor league system as any team in baseball. This year the patience and fruits of their labor should begin to show on the offensive side of the ball. With Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, and Elijah Dukes in the outfield and designated hitter, the offense can only get better. If B.J. Upton can lock in at second base, he can be the new “nice stick, no glove” Alfonzo Soriano of the position. As has always been the case in Tampa Bay, the Rays simply do not have the pitching to compete and will lose a lot of 10-6 games.

American League Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Minnesota Twins
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Kansas City Royals

The Tigers made heads turn in 2006, but in the new season I think they’ll put it all together. Jim Leyland has this team on the right track and in the spring they looked to be the best team in baseball. Kenny Rogers’ injury will hurt the rotation, but the depth of young arms will sustain the rotation while he’s out. Andrew Miller may be one of the best future flamethrowers in baseball. If Todd Jones falters in the closer role this year, Joel Zumaya is waiting in the wings. The most underrated move of the off-season has to be the club’s acquisition of Gary Sheffield. As has been case for Sheffield throughout his career, his timing was off as he signed a new extension only weeks before the free agent market skyrocketed. Minnesota is being overlooked by many this spring with changes in the rotation including the loss of Francisco Liriano to injury for the season. I’ll go with the track record of Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire. The rotation is missing the retired Brad Radke and Liriano, but veterans Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson are only holding spots in the rotation until Matt Garza and other young arms are eased into the rotation. Johan Santana was slowly brought along and the Twins will follow the same track with their young pitchers. Any club with Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau as cornerstones will compete. The depth of the division and the poorly conceived unbalanced schedule will cost the club the Wild Card. The Indians have been on the cusp of taking the next step for three years. Is this the year they turn the corner? Not with their questionable bullpen and rotation. The bullpen is not drastically improved from last season. The offense is going to score runs in bunches, but I do not see the arms in the farm system that can make an impact if called upon. The White Sox had one of my favorite off-seasons in baseball. I think the John Danks for Brandon McCarthy trade will be a feather in the cap of General Manager Ken Williams for year’s to come. Williams has become one of the most progressive General Managers in the game for thinking outside the box. The club still raised its payroll from last season, so there are no white flags going up in Chicago this year. Chicago has a lot of players in contract years including Jermaine Dye and Mark Buehrle, but for some reason I think Williams has a plan. Kansas City made a splash in free agency by overpaying for starting pitcher Gil Meche. It was a signal to the fan base and organization that the Royals are a Major League team again. The best move in Kansas City last year was the hiring of Dayton Moore as General Manager. With all respect to Allard Baird, there finally looks to be a long-term commander with a plan in Kansas City. There is a long way to go to respectability, but a road is being paved with Alex Gordon as the new cornerstone of the franchise.

American League West

1. Oakland A’s
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim*
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners

Oakland lost Barry Zito and Frank Thomas to free agency, but for a franchise that’s lost more talent this decade than American Idol, I think they’ll manage. The Athletics replaced Frank Thomas with Mike Piazza and Jay Payton with Shannon Stewart. Bobby Crosby, Milton Bradley, and Rich Harden have the chance to have breakout years if they can stay health. If so, Crosby and Harden are MVP and Cy Young contenders. Look for a typical slow start for the A’s, but it’s the enjoyable second half that’s the most fun anyway. The Angels have been the trendy pick this spring. With Jared Weaver and Bartolo Colon slowly returning from injuries and the Gary Matthews, Jr. debacle casting a cloud over the club, I think Anaheim will have a tough time early in the season. Casey Kotchman and other prospects need to reward General Manager Bill Stoneman’s patience by taking the next step in their development. I do think the Angels will have a strong second half and beat out the Red Sox and Twins for the Wild Card on the strength of a weaker division and the unbalanced schedule. The best managerial move of the off-season has to be the Texas Rangers hiring of Ron Washington as manager. Sadly, the same successful moves didn’t translate to the roster. The club is banking its success on Sammy Sosa to fill the middle of the order. He should fill some seats early in the season, but look for him to fade in the second half along with the club. Seattle has been in a terrible tailspin over the last three years. Felix Hernandez is the future of the franchise, so his further development this year will alleviate concerns for the rotation future consistency. Its Ichiro Suzuki’s walk-year, so getting him signed to an extension is integral for the club. In the end, the M’s are not going to be a factor in the AL West.


American League Division Series:

  • New York Yankees over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 3-1
  • Detroit Tigers over Oakland A’s, 3-1
American League Championship Series:

  • Detroit Tigers over New York Yankees, 4-2
American League Champion:
Detroit Tigers

Next week, I'll post my National League Season Preview along with a World Series pick and individual award winners.



Best Blog on Baseball: Buster Olney's Blog If you listen to Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner, you've heard this mentioned before. Buster Olney's blog is the best place to start each and every baseball day. If your not reading it daily, you are truly missing your baseball breakfast to get your day started.

Clips to Click: Two Articles by Jack Curry of the New York Times:

Baseball Book of the Week:

Book of the Week:


If you are interested in more frequent postings about Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner, please save a link for Baseball Beat: the Blog and check it for daily updates. Feel free to drop me a line anytime at

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Baseball Beat: Wednesday, April 4th

Here is the rundown for the Wednesday, April 4th edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Jerry Crasnick,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Ken Rosenthal, XM MLB Insider;
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Ted Leitner, Broadcaster, San Diego Padres
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Dave Sims, Broadcaster, Seattle Mariners

Guest Summaries:
Crasnick discussed the start of the baseball season including previews of changes to rosters around the league. He also briefly touched on the New York Mets’ Orlando Hernandez encouraging success last night in St. Louis; Hummel discussed the St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Night as well as Chris Carpenter’s achy elbow and Braden Looper’s first start tonight; McCarron discussed the New York Yankees dinner last night including his first person accounts on George Steinbrenner, Bobby Murcer, and the new line of succession on account of the Swindal divorce; Rosenthal discussed the future sale of the Chicago Cubs and how it affects Carlos Zambrano’s contract negotiations. There was also a discussion about the reports of Bud Selig’s salary which Ken and Charley agreed was well deserved. He also discussed his report on the San Diego Padres discussions about whether they will try to extend Mike Cameron’s contract or not; Leitner discussed the perks of being a broadcaster including a nice story about the Rolling Stones and David Wells as well as a debate about the extensive length of spring training. He also discussed the San Diego Padres including Greg Maddux; Sims discussed his first broadcasts in his new position as broadcaster with the Seattle Mariners. There was also a discussion about the Mariners’ early season success including Felix Hernandez.


I've received some reader e-mails about adding a tentative guest list and rundown before Baseball Beat daily. If you are interested in the pre-show rundown being available on the blog daily, please drop me a line on

If you visit or (a.k.a., please post a link to the new xm blog and

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Baseball Beat: Tuesday, April 3rd

Here is the rundown for the Tuesday, April 3rd edition of Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Buster Olney,
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee Brewers Beat)
1:45 p.m.
Guest: David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta Braves Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Gordon Edes, Boston Globe (Boston Red Sox Beat)
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Paul Hoynes, BBWAA President, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer (Cleveland Indians Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Olney discussed the start of the season including chats about the impact of Steve Swindal’s divorce on the line of succession with the New York Yankees as well as the short term impact on the sale of the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano’s contract. There was also a discussion about Alex Rodriguez future with the Yankees; Haudricourt discussed the Milwaukee Brewers opening day win behind the dominance of starter Ben Sheets on Monday. He also discussed Prince Fielder as the club’s leader along with the rest of the infield including future star Ryan Braun; O’Brien discussed the Atlanta Braves Opening Day extra innings come from behind win in Philadelphia on Monday. He also discussed how the club’s strong bullpen is going to make a big difference this year; Edes discussed Monday’s Opening Day 7-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals. He also chatted about Curt Schilling’s Monday struggles including comments about his contract status and Jonathan Papelbon’s move back to closer; Rogers discussed the sale of the Chicago Tribune as well as potential owners in the re-sale of the Chicago Cubs. He also chatted about his coverage of the Cardinals Opening Night, White Sox on Opening Day, and today at Giants Opening Day; Hoynes discussed the Cleveland Indians Opening Day victory as well as the entertaining story about the spring training snake that slithered across Hoynes computer during a game in Winter Haven.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Baseball Beat: Opening Day Edition - Monday, April 2nd

Here is the rundown for the Monday, April 2nd edition of Baseball Beat. Chuck Wilson hosted the show today.

1:05 p.m.
Guest: Bob Nightengale, USA Today Sports Weekly
1:25 p.m.
Guest: Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
1:45 p.m.
Guest: Michael Silverman, Boston Herald (Boston Red Sox Beat)
2:05 p.m.
Guest: Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle
2:25 p.m.
Guest: Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
2:45 p.m.
Guest: Mark Hale, New York Post (New York Mets Beat)

Guest Summaries:
Nightengale discussed Opening Day in Cincinnati including a discussion about the Reds and Chicago Cubs hopes for the new season as well as division previews; Miklasz discussed the St. Louis Cardinal’s Opening night game including last night’s pre-game festivities. He also talked about his piece on the Cardinals outfield problems; Silverman discussed the Boston Red Sox opening day game in Kansas City including comments about Daisuke Matsuzaka; Justice discussed the Houston Astros heading into tonight’s opening game including a discussion about the club; Christensen discussed Hall of Fame broadcasters Herb Carneal’s passing on Sunday as well as the Minnesota Twins opening night game; Hale discussed the New York Mets opening night win against the Cardinals as well as a Mets preview for the season.

Charley Steiner returns to Baseball Beat on Tuesday.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Civil Rights Game

On Saturday, XM Satellite Radio and MLB Home Plate broadcast the Civil Rights Game between the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals with broadcasters Ronnie Lane, Uri Berenguer, and Orestes Destrade live from Memphis, Tennessee. Berenguer and Lane provided play-by-play and Orestes provided insight with a host of guests from the field.

During the pre-game, Orestes spoke with Cleveland Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro, music legend Patti LaBelle, and Hall of Famer Lou Brock. Interviews with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and Branch Rickey, III were also played.

One of the exciting parts of XM is the freedom we have to skip breaks and give listeners more analysis from the field. During the game (in between innings), Orestes and I were in the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians dugout. We had spoke with Cardinals third base coach Jose Oqendo, Scott Spezio, Braden Looper as well as Indians Travis Hafner, C.C. Sabathia, and Grady Sizemore.

In the post game show, we had an on-field interview with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and Memphis Redbirds President Dave Chase.

Thanks go out to broadcasters Uri Berenguer, Ronnie Lane, and Orestes Destrade as well as our on-site staff on-site producers Brent S. Gambill and Anthony Mendoza, technical director Mike Simpson and his assistant Kevin Simpson., and in-studio associate producer Carlos Nalda.


Plug of the Day: Hope and Faith: How the Atlanta Braves Can Win the World Series by Brent S. Gambill on