The Pirates should TRY to sign Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is going to be a free agent at the end of this year and it is a foregone conclusion that he will resign with the Yankees.

He’s given the Yankees 16 seasons and is only 102 hits away from being the first Yankee to reach 3,000.

And of course he is the most beloved New York sports star in the last quarter century. (Seriously, who has come close?)

All of that being said… this should not be a free agency where he gets no other bids.

The Pirates need to throw in a bid.

Yup. I am dead serious.

So all of you Pirate fans who think I am picking on you guys… I am not. There is some logic to my insanity.

The Pirates have been bad for so long that there are Pirate fans who can legally buy a drink and have no memory of their team winning 82 games in a season… and not because they are drunk.

And guess what? That is now the identity of the team. In Buster Olney’s great book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, he wrote about Luis Sojo’s brief time in Pittsburgh. Sojo was stunned how there was complacency in the clubhouse that they are simply not going to contend.

That was 10 seasons ago. They haven’t come close to relevance since and are currently the worst team in baseball.

But as I wrote before, there is some hope for the 2011 team. They are cobbling together some nice talent, including Pedro Alvarez at third and an outfield of Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and the grizzled 25 year old veteran Lastings Milledge. Plus there are some decent arms that are going through some growing pains.

I was thinking about teams that made and unexpected turn arounds over the years.
I can think of teams like the 1986 Red Sox… 1988 Dodgers… the 1991 Twins and Braves… the 2006 Tigers… the 2008 Rays.

Each of those teams had a new comer who had post season experience and simply wouldn’t tolerate losing. And it rubbed off.

Don Baylor came into the Red Sox clubhouse and helped turn a fractured team into almost a World Series winner.

Kirk Gibson stormed out of the Dodgers spring training when he felt there was too much joking. He led by example and even homered when he couldn’t walk.

The 1991 World Series was between teams that were in last place the year before. Charlie Liebrandt helped anchor Atlanta’s rotation and Terry Pendleton had an MVP season sparking the line up. Meanwhile the Twins imported Jack Morris to the rotation and 10 innings in Game 7 later, the Twins were champs.

Jim Leyland turned the 2006 Tigers around with some help from Pudge Rodriguez, who started the change in the culture a few years prior.

And importing some veterans like Cliff Floyd transformed Tampa from the laughing stock of baseball to a pennant winner.

Now of course each of these teams won because their talent clicked… but you can point to those veterans who helped turn the proverbial rag tag bunch of also rans into contenders.

Which brings us to the Pirates.
They desperately need someone to help change the culture and stop the “They haven’t been above .500 since 1992” clock.

They need someone to tell Milledge and Alvarez how to play the game and not let the Pirates be content with losing.

And we’re not even pining for a World Series winner. An 82-80 record will get the monkey off their back.

Who commands more respect than Jeter?
Who do you think would be LESS tolerant of a clubhouse that has all the peppiness of a Droopy cartoon?

The players would play UP to his level… or at least try to the same way any of us try to do a good job when someone we respect is watching us.

The Pirates NEED to go into this free agency period and put in an offer for him and do it publicly.

Now do the Pirates have a shot?
Of course not. Jeter is a Yankee for life. We all know it. And the Yankees will out bid the Pirates in a matter of nanoseconds.

And in the end the Pirates won’t have to spend the money they bid.
But at least it would be a positive gesture.

And telling their fans “We see what part of the problem is” is a start.

(But man, wouldn’t it be cool to see him in Gold and black?)

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Why doesn’t MLB want my money?

This past Labor Day weekend my family took a weekend trip to the lovely city of San Diego… and while I was there I ran smack dab against a Major League Baseball rule that didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

Bear with me.

We were staying in a hotel right across the street from PetCo Park, a stadium I hadn’t seen yet. Now the Padres were playing the Rockies Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. Our Saturday and Sundays were packed and my wife and I were putting the boys to sleep around 8:30 that night.
When they were down, wifey saw how close we were to a big league game and I was starting to act like Gollum longing for the ring.
“Go watch the end of the game.”
So off I went across the street. I knew it was late in the game, but I figure I’d get in. The Padres have had trouble drawing.

I went up to the Ticket window on Tony Gwynn Drive and asked the teenager working behind the counter “One please. Where do you have available?”
“Sorry. No tickets.”
I was surprised. The Padres had sold out. Maybe the pennant race had finally caught on with San Diego fans.
“Wow,” I said. “You guys sold out!”
“No sir. There are plenty of tickets.”
Now you can see how there could be a disconnect here.
“OK, I would like to buy one of them” I said, not 100% sure why there was confusion.
“I can’t sell you any tickets sir.”
“Why not?”
“Major League Rules. No tickets sold after the 7th inning.”
Now I understand no selling beer after the 7th inning because, well, people are probably smashed and they don’t want them MORE smashed. But I had never been to a place of business where they were actually saying “Sorry… we won’t let you be a paying customer.”
I showed him my cash, maybe thinking he thought I was homeless or something.
“I have money and I want to spend it on your product.”
“Sorry sir. I can not sell you a ticket.”
Now I am no economics major, but I can tell you a surefire way to NOT make money is to turn away people who are saying “I want to spend my money on the product that you are having a hard time selling.”
Buster’s, the local ice cream shop and cafe in my town, is always selling day old bagels and Rice Krispy treats trying to squeeze and extra buck or two out of their product.
Not the Padres. They were saying “Sorry. We do not want your dough.”
“What if I promise to buy a sundae in a plastic helmet?”
“Sorry sir. We have games on Saturday and Sunday.”
“I’m seeing Shamu tomorrow. And besides, my kids are asleep, my wife is reading her book and there is a game on RIGHT NOW! THERE! BEHIND YOU!”
“Sorry sir.”
It was surreal. It was reverse capitalism.
I walked up to one of the ushers who guard the gate to that great park just beyond center field.
I told him the story. He confirmed. “I am sorry. There is no selling of tickets after the 7th inning.”
Hearing it again made it somehow make LESS sense.
Let’s think of a not exactly outlandish scenario… Petco Park is located in the Gas Lamp Quarter where there are lots of bars and foot traffic. Let’s say you didn’t buy a ticket to the ballgame, but Mat Latos is throwing a no hitter and it is the 7th inning.
You find yourself at Rockin’ Baha Lobster watching the game and you think “Oh man! He’s throwing a no no! I should walk 2 blocks to the big ole half empty baseball stadium and be in the stands and cheer!”
Or you are at the Tipsy Crow and you see the Padres were down 8-1 but are coming back and rallying in the 7th inning.
And you think “Hey. Let me walk 5 blocks, buy a ticket and catch the end of the ballgame!”
Or you are AT the game, sitting in the empty upper deck, you get a text from a friend saying “Where R U?” You write back “At the Padres game.”
Turns out they are a trolley stop away and they buy a ticket and join you in the 1/4 filled third deck.
None of those scenarios are crazy or out there.
And each of them throw some extra bucks into the Padres coffers.
And MLB has set up rules to prevent that.

I pleaded my case to the usher… whose gender, race and general description I will not divulge… and the usher nodded, reached into their pocket, gave me a ticket and said “Just go in.”

So I got in for free.
The ticket was a $50 ticket. It cost me exactly gotch.

I was willing to spend $20. Instead I spent $0.

Lo and behold I went in and…

… the joint was damn near empty.

But man I found this rule to be peculiar.
I’ve never run a business before but I am sure that turning away customers isn’t the way to do it.
I am sure if they an eager customer says “I want to pay $20” the correct bartering technique is NOT “I say $0.”
The beautiful ballpark with character and charm is sitting 1/2 empty on a Friday night during a holiday weekend with the team in first place.
Shouldn’t the goal be putting asses IN the seats?
Oh I am sure someone will write to me and explain why it is smart to turn customers away and why it hurts the business model.
But let me tell you… it won’t be long before the Padres have to figure out what the hell to do about Adrian Gonzalez’s contract.
And they’ll be fretting that they can’t afford to sign him.
They’d have at least an extra $20 to throw at him if it weren’t for a silly MLB rule!

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Thanks for caring, Dodgers

3 runs.

That’s all the Dodgers could get against a Padres team that was reeling in a historic losing streak.
3 runs… TOTAL… over 3 games.
Then again it was 3 runs total over 2 games as well. Tonight they hung a big ole donut on the scoreboard.
A Padres team that was flopping like a salmon on the deck suddenly will welcome the Giants emboldened by a three game sweep.
The Giants took 2 of 3 in Arizona and LOST GROUND in the NL West race.
If you told me the Dodgers were practicing their putting in the dugout, I’d believe it.
They aren’t even phoning it in now… they are sending a mass e mail in.
Well, starting tomorrow, there won’t be any scoreboard watching for the Padres and Giants. Just a good old fashioned mano y mano.
The Dodgers will go off to Houston. Let’s see if they can score 4 runs in that series.

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