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Archive for the ‘Yankees Organization’ Category

This is the current state of the AL East. The Yankees in 1st place at 12-8, and the Red Sox in last at 9-12. That’s not to say this is the way it will end. That would be absolutely absurd. The Yankees still have 142 games left to play. It’s just nice to see a complete reversal of the projected standings thus far, based on many experts in the pre-season.

AL East Standings

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Marty Appel, former PR Director of the New York Yankees, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about our beloved team and his role with the ball club.

Photo Courtesy of Marty Appel

Bill Dickey – Marty Appel – Mel Allen

Q&A with Marty Appel

1) Q: You started out answering Mickey Mantle’s fan mail. You later went on to become the head of public relations of the New York Yankees. You really started from the bottom and climbed your way through the organization. Did you always envision yourself working for the Yankees?
  • A: I was always a huge fan, but the idea of writing to the Yankees for a summer job came to me after a year as sports editor of my college newspaper.  It was just a bolt out of the blue; no grand scheme. And I never even thought I’d get an answer. Also, answering the fan mail wasn’t the bottom of the food chain. I’ll reserve that for the post-game cleanup crew, who used to augment their low wages by drinking the leftover beer left under the seats. I was a few rungs above that.
2) Q: When your mentor, Bob Fishel left the Yankees after the 1973 season, you were promoted to PR director of the ball club. You were just 24 years-old. What was that like?
  • A: George Steinbrenner called me in and asked if I felt ready for this assignment. No one my age had ever been a team PR Director, let alone in New York. But because I had been trained by Bob Fishel for six years, I absolutely felt ready. It was like learning democracy from Jefferson or Madison. I learned from the best and I was ready.
3) Q: Upon meeting George Steinbrenner for the very first time, what was your impression of him?
  • A: Very dynamic guy, and he said all the right things about winning. We were hungry for that sort of direction after all the disappointing finishes in the CBS years. One thing you don’t appreciate at first is the huge celebrity he would become. He was unknown on that January day in 1973 and we didn’t see what was to come. He went out and redefined what owners did, and he made the Yankees a bigger brand than they had ever been.
4) Q: Take us through a day as a PR director of the New York Yankees in the 1970’s.
  • A: Well it changed a lot after 1974 with the Catfish Hunter signing, and a year later with free agency. It really made the job a 365-day task. Prior to that, the winters were slower and people used to ask “what do you do in the off-season.” Of course it was spent preparing yearbooks, media guides, scorecards; doing a winter media caravan, preparing for spring training, attending dinners, announcing the schedule and promotion dates, making news when you can. Today the newspapers are told they must have a Yankee (and Mets) story every day. Then it was more of a struggle.
  • A: In season, I made all the road trips, prepared the daily press notes, fielded questions from the media, contacted the next team to exchange ‘probable pitchers,’ and established good friendships with press and the players, many of who were my age. And oh yes, in the days before ‘modern communication,’ I would often be on a pay phone in the press box, giving Mr. Steinbrenner the pitch-by-pitch account of a game if he was in Florida and couldn’t listen. And I’d fill in between pitches with plugs for the new Yankee Yearbook, which he didn’t always find amusing if we were losing.
5) Q: My father was in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium with his brother when Chris Chambliss won the pennant for the Yankees in 1976. That was “his moment.” Thirty-three years later, I would be in the grandstands with my father watching the Yankees win the pennant in 2009. That was “my moment.” In all the years you’ve watched the Yankees play, what was your favorite memory you saw in-person and why?
  • A: I would say Mickey Mantle Day in 1969 just edges the Chambliss home run. I had a lot to do with the planning of Mantle Day, which worked flawlessly and hit just the right emotional notes.  It was one of the better “Days” I’ve ever seen.  We had a great front office team in the planning then – Bill Guilfoile, Howard Berk, Bob Fishel and myself, fortunate enough to be there.
Photo Courtesy of Marty Appel
6) Q: In the ESPN TV miniseries, “The Bronx is Burning”, there was an intriguing Kangaroo Court scene. The perpetrator was Mickey Rivers. He was charged with a so-called “lunch meat violation”, where he was reaching for a cupcake and his private parts touched a ham. I’m aware you were a consultant on the show. Is this a true story? Were you ever present for these locker room gatherings? Were they always this silly?
  • A: The clubhouses were fun and crazy things could happen there – like Fritz Peterson’s hockey games, during which Rich McKinney got injured and it helped end his Yankee days. Mickey Rivers was always funny. Dock Ellis too – he was a special character in the clubhouse.  And Sparky Lyle. Oh, I could go on. Great collection of personalities.
7) Q: Can you please share an odd story from your time with the Yankees? Something the average fan might not know.
  • A: Mickey Mantle would always give me his gift certificates from doing pre-game radio interviews. I couldn’t imagine he would use “$10 off” at Thom McAn shoe store in Yonkers, so he’d give it to me. And eventually he’d save them up from road trips and bring them back to me. I couldn’t use “free dessert” in Minnesota, but it was a fun ritual. I should have had him sign the certificates and saved them instead of using them. Nice memory. He was great to me.
8) Q: How would you compare the Yankees of today to the ball club’s you worked under in the 70’s? How has the role of the PR Director changed over the years in baseball?
  • A: The role dramatically changed in the mid-’70s when, led by Murray Chass and Moss Klein, the media decided that they would decide what was news and go after it themselves, rather than using our daily press notes. So the PR department became reactive and not proactive. And it has been the same ever since, although the media gets far less access to the players today. Everything is much more controlled. Writers don’t even travel with the team anymore.
9) Q: Whether you like to believe it or not, you are a part of Yankees history. When I think of the Bronx Bombers, I think of Ruth, Steinbrenner, Jeter, Cashman, Sheehy, Torre, Michael, Appel, etc. As you grow older, you start to realize that there’s a lot more to a ball club than the players on the field. How does it feel to be part of such an iconic franchises’ history?
  • A: The Yankees are such a strong brand, that even after you’ve left the club, your time with the team sort of defines you. And I’m happy about that – it’s a great association. I’m honored to still be connected, doing video for Yankees on Demand, or writing for their publications. I love when someone in the front office calls to clarify some piece of history. I’m actually the last man standing (and still active in the field) who worked in the original stadium, worked when Mantle played, worked when CBS owned the team. Very proud of that. And proud to have been able to write Pinstripe Empire and get a lot of those memories on record.
10) Q: If someone wanted to be the Director of Media Relations of the New York Yankees today, what advice would you give them?
  • A: Well, it’s hard to always give time to social media, but ultimately, they are read and they are helping to form opinions among fans. I’d lobby to add someone in the department assigned to be the contact person for that category of “media” (bloggers, online columnists, large groups on Facebook, etc., so that the team is reaching its fan base through them. I’d also suggest having a strong sense of the business of baseball so that you better understand decisions made by other departments.  It’s not just knowing how many MVP awards Yogi Berra won.  It’s understanding the dynamics between the players, management, media, fans, the city, and even the nation.  The Yankees matter to a huge number of constituencies, and you have to be aware of all of them.
I can’t thank Marty enough for taking the time to be part of this Q&A interview. If you haven’t already, go out and pick up Marty’s book, “Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss.”

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Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is the seventh Japanese player to be part of the New York Yankees.

Before signing him, the Yankees were in the ninth place in the odds lists for winning the 2014 World Series. The favorites to win this season are Los Angeles Dodgers. You can check your favorite team’s place in SportsBettingDime.com.

Tanaka signed a seven-year $ 155 million contract, becoming the fifth Asian pitcher to join New York. The Yankees will have two Japanese in the rotation for next season, with Tanaka and veteran Hiroki Kuroda. The 25-year-old ended last season with a 24-0 record playing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with a 1.27 ERA. In 175 games, the Japanese threw 53 complete games with 18 shutouts and 1,238 strikeouts.

The team led by Joe Girardi has had a good experience with Japanese players (Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui), but none has excelled on the mound. The first Japanese pitcher to reach the Yankees was Hideki Irabu in 1997, who won two World Series with the team but did not take part in any game. Irabu finished with 27 wins and 24 losses in two years in New York, with a 3.31 ERA. He allowed 396 hits and 165 runs while striking out 317 rivals.

Kei Igawa was signed in 2007 and stayed only two seasons with the team. The former Hanshin Tigers player started 13 games and finished with a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA. He allowed 89 hits, 54 runs and 15 home runs. Due to his low-level of play, the team sent him to AAA team and tried to trade him to another squad in Japan.

Ryota Igarashi, who arrived from the Toronto Blue Jays, was the third Japanese pitcher to try his luck with the Yankees. He joined the team in 2012, but had only two appearances, pitching three innings with four hits and four runs.

After four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda signed a one-year contract with New York in January 2012 and achieved a 16-11 mark. Thanks to his good numbers he stayed for another season, but only got 11 wins and closed with seven losses in his last 10 appearances.

Next season, Tanaka will be the ninth Japanese active player in the MLB, but the Yankees expect him to become the biggest star of the Rising Sun country to return to the playoffs and aspire to another World Series title.

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Via Ken Rosenthal:

“BREAKING: Tanaka to #Yankees, seven years, $155M, opt-out after fourth year.”

“Tanaka contract with #Yankees is fifth-highest for a pitcher. Kershaw, Verlander, Felix, CC, Tanaka.”

More to come…

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Bernie Williams - Carlos Silva

Photo Courtesy of WCBS 880

  • Carlos Silva, WCBS 880’s producer/engineer for Yankees games passed away this past Sunday after battling cancer. If you’ve ever listened to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on the radio, his name should definitely sound familiar. He was 50 years old.
  • Masahiro Tanaka, the big off-season prize faces a 5PM deadline on Friday to choose what team he’d like to play for. According to reports, the Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cubs have all made offers to Tanaka. It stated, “most of those were for more than $100 million over six years.” Let’s hope the Yankees land this guy. He’d be a huge asset to both the Bronx Bombers and your fantasy baseball teams.
  • The Yankees and Francisco Cervelli have agreed on a one-year contract reportedly worth $700K. Who knew Cervelli was still a thing? This allows him to avoid salary arbitration and he’s back in the picture. Last year, Cervelli fractured his right hand and was suspended 50 games by MLB for violating the league’s drug program, ending the rest of his season.

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Major League Baseball has now suspended A-Rod 162 games, which would knock him out of the entire 2014 baseball season. A-Rod is going to take it to federal court. 

Alex Rodriguez

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Just when we started to think Hal Steinbrenner was nothing like his father, he starts showing us signs that he may have a little “Boss” in him. Up to this point, the Yankees have acquired three big-time free agents in McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran. Following today’s press conference for Jacoby Ellsbury, Hal was questioned on the recent signing and what the organization had planned for the rest of the off-season. His response: “We’re not done yet.” That’s exactly what Yankees fans wanted to hear. George always put money back in the team because he felt like the New York fans “deserved it”. Lately, Hal has taken over that same sentiment, and I gotta say..it’s nice to hear. I’d bet there might be a few more presents nestled under your Christmas tree this year that you don’t know about.

Years ago, George spoke about letting the “young elephants” into the tent, and it was the beginning of a transitional phase. George knew his reign was coming to an end, and it made the fan base worry if the Steinbrenner family would even still be owners of the ball club after he was gone. Hal and Hank haven’t exactly been the most visible or outspoken owners of the last few years, making an occasional newspaper headline, being seen inside the Steinbrenner box or attending a stadium event. At the same time, I don’t think anyone could possibly fill the void that George left behind. Prior to the 2009 season (George was still alive), the Yankees made a big splash in the off-season with the new ballpark opening up. They brought in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. Even though George wasn’t in complete power at the time, one can look back and say that was “George’s last hurrah.” Looking at the way the Yankees are acting now, maybe Hal and Hank grabbed the ends of those reins that their father left behind.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Photo Courtesy of the New York Yankees

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Brian McCann

Brian McCann

Sign on the dotted line! Brian McCann is headed to the Bronx for $85 million over 5 years. His contract will include a 6th year option, bringing the grand total to $100M if he so chooses.

Don’t worry Yankees fans. You’ll no longer have to worry about whether Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli will be starting behind the plate. McCann will be the first offensive force behind the dish since Posada left the team back in 2011.

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Alfonso Soriano last played for the Yankees a decade ago. Prior to the 2004 season, the Yankees dealt Soriano and Joaquin Árias to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. Now, with the Yankees struggling offense, the club is in desperate need of some pop in the lineup and are looking to bring our old friend back.

From George King of the NY Post:

ARLINGTON — In dire need of a bat with thump and an indication the Yankees may believe that Alex Rodriguez isn’t going to play this season, the toothless Bombers are close to acquiring Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs, The Post has learned.

According to a person familiar with the talks, the Cubs will pay the bulk of what is left on Soriano’s contract. He makes $18 million this year and the same for next season.

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Big League ChewI think we all loved that shredded bubble gum we would grab during our little league games. Stuffing so much of it in our mouths to make it look like we were chewing on tobacco. Bringing me back in time, I recently purchased a pack of Big League Chew. Flipping over the package, I noticed a cool tie the product had with the New York Yankees organization.

The back of the package reads: “Sitting in a bullpen one night, Portland Mavericks’ lefthander Rob Nelson, and teammate Jim Bouton, the former New York Yankee All-Star, wanted something different and fun to chew. So they came up with a great idea – shredded bubble gum in a pouch – and called it Big League Chew. It soon became an amazing hit with ballplayers everywhere. That was over 30 years ago. Today, more and more professional and amateur players in all sports are turning to Big League Chew, a fun gum that keeps your mouth from getting dry when the game is on the line.”

 

 

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Without Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have certainly held their own thus far. They’re playing above .500, rank towards the top of the league in home runs and they’ve got quality pitching from their rotation. Many of these so-called “experts” picked the Toronto Blue Jays as the favorite to win the AL East crown. Meanwhile, they’re laying in last place and sit 5.5 games back out of first place. These same analysts predicted that the Yankees and Red Sox would finish at the bottom of the division. I know it’s very early in the season, but it just goes to show that these wins occur on the ball field, not on paper. With all of these injured players the Yankees expect to come back at some point this season, there’s a positive outlook surrounding this ball club. So far, so good.

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If you were watching the telecast of the Yankees-Red Sox game yesterday on the YES Network, you could hear Lou Piniella use the word ‘raped’ to describe the trade between the Blue Jays and Marlins (which included Buehrle, Johnson, Reyes, etc.). He said, “I don’t want to use the word ‘raped,’ but they (Toronto) basically took a lot of talent from the Miami Marlins.” According to Bob Raissman of the NY Daily News, Sweet Lou apologized and stated, “A Yankee official said the organization stood behind Piniella while recognizing he made a mistake.”

We all know how seriously this word is taken, but their was something humorous in the fact that he said he didn’t want to use the word and then actually said it. It was a  weird moment. Ken Singleton didn’t respond and just continued calling the game. You got the feeling that it was just a slip of the tongue moment for Lou, and not grounds for firing. It was odd, that’s for sure.

Al Bello/Getty Images

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