Ken Singleton weighs in — Part I

Yankees fall 3-2 to ChiSox, lose third straight
The home grown Yankees, or Why the Yankee culture has to change
(YES Network)
(YES Network)

Friend of River Ave. Blues and YES Network announcer, Ken Singleton, was kind enough to give an hour of his time to discuss some of the current affairs swirling about the Yankees. We discussed everything from the all-consuming Alex Rodriguez saga, the trade deadline, Brian Cashman‘s relationship with the front office, to the team’s direction heading forward. If you haven’t read RAB’s first interview with Ken, be sure to check it out here.

Matthew Warden: Might as well start with the huge elephant in the room. What are your thoughts on A-Rod, the pending suspension, and particularly, the Player Union’s stance on the matter of PEDs?

Ken Singleton: Well, you know, it’s unfortunate what’s happened to Alex Rodriguez but I think you’re dealing with this issue of PEDs — the first time it happened was bad enough and it kind of put a stain on his career. If all these allegations prove to be true it’s certainly going to put an even deeper mark on his career, to the point where the fans say “enough is enough.” You talk about the Player’s Association, and they’re involved with it, but I think you’re getting to the point where they’re saying “enough is enough” too.

You heard Michael Weiner, the director, mention that he’s going to take each case on an individual basis, and, if there is enough evidence against a particular player, that the Player’s Association will not back him, at least not to the point that they had in the past when they just stonewalled all kinds of punishments. But now, I think what you’re seeing is that the majority of the players in the game want the game cleaned up. They don’t want it to be stained by anyone taking PEDs. Take your punishment and move on. And for Alex, it seems like his punishment will be more than anyone else’s because some of the other things he’s done regarding the Biogenesis investigation.

It’s sad.

MW: It is sad. Correct me if I’m wrong, but A-Rod has never failed a drug test.

KS. That’s true.

MW: He came out and admitted to having used them during a time when free passes were being handed out. Now, I understand the league being infuriated with him allegedly tampering with their investigation, which has to be what the punishment emphasizes, right?

KS: Yeah. And I think it’s because number one, he admitted to using it before and he’s come back and has appeared to have used them again. And number two – and this is why I think his punishment is so much larger than everyone else’s – is because of what you just said. He supposedly interfered with the investigation, and that’s not a good thing for anyone to do. It’s almost at the point where legality has to be involved. I think this is why the book has been thrown at him, and it’s almost as if they want him off the field and that’s it. There’s a lot of money involved and that’s probably part of it, but he’s brought this situation on himself. As I said, it’s sad that he’s had such a great career and if it ends like this, it’s really a shame.

The thing about it is if his suspension is so long – you have to remember he’s missed all of this year – and if he misses a large remainder of this season and all of next season, that’ll be two years basically of not playing. He’ll be nearly 40 years old. How many simulated games can he go through and still be able to keep his edge? It’s difficult for anyone coming back from an injury – even after a two week period – to get ramped up again, let alone more than half the season. I just don’t know. I know that he wants to play.

MW: Yeah. It’s tough too because he’s always had his fair share of baggage.

KS: [Laughs] You’re right. It’s not always PEDs. It’s other situations too.

MW: Yeah, I think I can speak for most rational Yankee fans when I say the amount of baggage that he brought off the field, for most of his career, was grossly dwarfed by the amount of quality production he’s provided on it. There have been instances here and there where he drives everyone crazy, sure, but he’s been a dominant player for a long time and really that’s what’s most important.

KS: That’s true too.

MW: And I feel like in the last few years, perception surrounding Alex has begun to change in this regard. He’s become more of a problem then he’s worth (his abilities don’t justify his actions, perhaps unlike a guy like Ryan Braun who is still potentially an elite Outfielder) and you get the feeling the team is hoping/preparing for that moment when they get to cut their losses at this point. Do you agree?

KS: Yeah that might be the case. Everybody is going through the motions as if he’s going to come back and play. Major League Baseball — it’s not the Yankees, it’s MLB — holds the hammer here. If MLB says, “No,” he won’t come back. So the Yankees have to play as if he’ll come back, and play for their team. They’ve got four home runs out of their third basemen this year.

MW: Yeah…

KS: They need someone at third base whether it’s A-Rod or anyone else. I mean Kevin Youkilis has been out practically all season – he’s played only 28 games – the Yankees are struggling at a position that teams usually get a lot of production from. You have to play it like he’s coming back but I have a feeling that Major League Baseball and Bud Selig will not allow it to happen. That’s the feeling I get.

MW: I think you’re right too, and for exactly that reason. The production the Yankees have gotten out of their third basemen has been abysmal, like the worst in Major League Baseball abysmal. You would think if A-Rod weren’t so stigmatizing, they’d be chomping at the bit to get him back out there if they had any real hope of contending this season.

KS: Yep, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

MW: Perhaps some of that has to do with that rather bizarre incident with the doctor and the strained quad.

KS: It just added to the circus, Matt. It’s almost like he’s trying to make things even more convoluted and it’s hard to do that because it is that way already. [Laughs] I just think a lot of players on the team would like to see this go away whether it means A-Rod comes back and plays or is just gone altogether. They’re getting a lot of distractions and A-Rod hasn’t even been with the team nearly all season long. It’s been a tough enough year as it is with all the injuries, but they’ve still managed to have a chance to make a playoff spot.

MW: Pretty incredible, huh?

KS: Yeah it is. It’s just amazing that they’re at this point. Sabathia’s 9-10; he’s giving up over 19 runs in his last 15 innings and is pitching the worst that he’s ever pitched through his time in the Major Leagues. They need to get him going to have any chance. But that seems to be a mild distraction compared to what’s going on with Alex Rodriguez, and CC’s been on the field all season long.

This whole thing is uncharted territory, and Bud Selig and Major League Baseball are really trying to make a statement here. Remember, Bud Selig is retiring pretty soon. PEDs came to the forefront in the middle of his watch and I don’t think he wants that to be his legacy. I think he wants his legacy to be, “I did the best I could to clean this up. I went out and got rid of one of the best players ever because of the fact he had been doing PEDs.” I also think this would be like Joe Jackson. Pete Rose, that sort of thing. These are big time players who were suspended for life, and if that happens to A-Rod, he’ll fall into that category.

MW: I’m glad you mentioned Bud Selig. Do you think that his legacy will be that of the guy who cleans up the sport, or that of the hypocrite – that is to say the guy who cleaned up the sport after profiting off PEDs during baseball’s revival after the strike?

KS: [Laughs] Yeah, I see your point Matt. The point is that these issues all came to the forefront while he was commissioner and a lot of people feel he looked the other way, but now he he’s getting it cleaned up so he can leave with his hands kind of washed. I don’t think they’ll ever be totally washed no matter what he does.

* * *

That’s part one of our chat with Ken. Next we’ll get into some more “state of the team” issues, so check back for that!

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Yankees fall 3-2 to ChiSox, lose third straight
The home grown Yankees, or Why the Yankee culture has to change
  • xramkcalb

    you get a lot shit for being the new guy but this is really fucking great

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matthew Warden

      I appreciate it, Xramkcalb. Glad you enjoyed.

      • Selig is a self serving hypocrite (formerly not the droids you’re looking for…)

        +1 from me Matt. It’s not often that I’m jealous of what you guys do here. I love reading and participating in the discussion but don’t envy the many hours of work you all do on the content. But this…yeah. I’d love to have been in your shoes for this!

        Thanks too for mentioning Selig’s hypocrisy. I’m glad that KS agreed that no matter what Selig does, his hands will never be completely washed after all he’s done.

    • I’m One

      Agree, Matt. Nicely done. It’s great that Ken grants you this time to discuss all matters related to the Yankees and you do a very good job with that time. Please keep it up. I enjoy your work.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Yeah what did you do to get so much access to KS??? Magic man…

        well done, M.

  • jsbrendog

    i am breaking my comment hiatus to say I love these, Matt. Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

      mother of oaktag

  • http://www.g6tec.com Jedile

    This is a great interview! Awesome and keep up the good work. I know Arod is really a huge head case… but I feel this is sort of a love-hate relationship right now. I like him in the lineup given the fact that he can’t be much worse than what we have… but hate all the drama and baggage that comes with arod. I just hope he can outproduce his baggage in the short period he will be with the club and hopefully spark something that will ignite the team.

  • Pseudoyanks

    As they say in the Biz, Matt…”Good Get!”

  • Dave M

    Great job Matt!!!

    Even though I bust your balls once in a while when you say things like RBIs aren’t important, I really do think you do a great job here.

  • Stephen

    Very nice interview, good to read some candid thoughts on difficult subjects from a former player/current broadcaster. Kudos on the interview, Matt! Next time ask Singleton if he has his sites set on the full-time play-by-play job. I’d back him in a coup of Kay’s post.

    • Selig is a self serving hypocrite (formerly not the droids you’re looking for…)

      +1 in the coup

  • trr

    Good job Matt!
    always foudnd Songleton to be a smooth pro, which many ex-jocks are not-

  • Jay Gordon

    nice work

  • Bavarian Yankee

    good job again, Matt!

    I don’t know if you asked Kenny about this in part 2 (probably not) but in those interviews I always like to know if the interviewee reads baseball blogs or sites like fangraphs.

  • radnom

    Nice interview, going to pick a particular nit.


    MW: It is sad. Correct me if I’m wrong, but A-Rod has never failed a drug test.
    KS. That’s true.

    You’re both wrong here. The 2003 test was meant for informational purposes, but that was a positive drug test for Arod.

    • BeanTooth

      It’s not a nit. Matt makes it sound like ARod just came out and admitted using PEDs as a way to clear the air or something. He only made his admission after Salena Roberts reported on the failed test. And then during his admission, he likely lied about PEDs being restricted to this small part of his career. It’s one of the reasons so many people can’t stand the guy.

      • gc

        I’m more upset that information that was meant to be confidential was “leaked” than I am about him failing that test. Again, for me, it’s a matter of fairness. If you’re going to leak that name, then leak ALL of the names. But why bother with that when you have the headline you were looking for because you don’t like the guy? This is not to say that Rodriguez should be totally let off the hook or anything, but MLB comes out looking FAR worse in my eyes throughout this entire deacde-long ordeal than any individual player who may or may not have failed a drug test. And this pathetic attempt by Selig to cement some kind of “lasting memory” is a fucking joke. His hands are so dirty there is nothing he will ever be able to do to get them clean.

        • Betty Lizard

          For me, one cannot “fail” a confidential, informational purposes only test.

          To selectively leak results of such a test is abominable.

          But then, I am a lover of process and like to see it followed.

          • gc

            Agreed.

            • Selig is a self serving hypocrite (formerly not the droids you’re looking for)

              + one billion

        • Kiko Jones

          I’m more upset that information that was meant to be confidential was ‘leaked’…”

          In his most recent press conference, MLBPA VP Michael Wiener was adamant about his “profound disappointment in the way individuals granted access to private and privileged information felt compelled to share that information publicly. The manner in which confidential information was so freely exchanged is not only a threat to the success and credibility of our jointly administered program; it calls into question the level of trust required to administer such a program. It is our view that when the bargaining parties hold their annual review of the program, we must revisit the [Joint Drug Agreement’s] confidentiality provisions and consider implementing stricter rules for any breach by any individual involved in the process.”

    • I’m One

      I thought I remembered that as well. Thanks for confirming.

    • sangreal

      He tested positive for PEDs in that test, but that doesn’t make it a failed drug test. Failure implies that he was trying to come up clean on the test. He had no reason to do so since it was supposed to be an anonymous survey and positive results were allowed. As an analogy if you went for a job and you came up with cold medicine on your drug test then you wouldn’t call it a failure, just a positive result.

      • radnom

        In a test administered by MLB, his sample was positive for PEDs.

        That is the fact, quibble how you want to classify it all you want.

  • Ogre

    Great stuff, I can’t wait for the second part of the interview! Keep up the good work.

  • mac1

    Excellent questions and equally excellent answers. KS tells it like it is, always felt he’s been a bit muzzled on YES, don’t know if he slightly pulls his punches on the air or if YES wants its announcers to keep it a bit on the lighter side.

  • K

    Anyone else totally read this in his voice?

    • sjferrari

      I absolutely did.

  • fat jeter

    alex failed a test in 2003. Pinning the steroid era on bud selig is a convenient fallacy. The union, owners, media, managers, trainers and hey, how about the players who were using as well as the players who looked the other way are just a culpable. Not a selig guy and i have lots of issues with his tenure, but at no time has anyone who keeps calling him a hypocrite given any sort of explanation on what he should have done or could have done — let alone what he should be doing going forward. this is not the nba, nhl, or nfl. the mlb commissioner cannot just unilaterally make decisions like bettman, stern, or goodell can. the mlb players union is one of the strongest unions in america, let alone pro sports. part of me thinks the majority of the “selig is a hypocrite” folks really don’t care whether or not players are getting some sort of competitive advantage by using. that’s fine, i used to feel the same way, but at least own up to that concept and stop laying blame at the feet of just one person who quite frankly did not have the power to do anything until Congress basically said “clean it up or we will”.

    Good interview though and I am jealous of the kind of access you got. Keep up the good work.

    • Craig Sagermetrics

      +1

      I’m no fan of Selig but, as you state, all of baseball played a part in the steroid era.

      • Kiko Jones

        “…all of baseball played a part in the steroid era.”

        Yet only one segment is being penalized. Seem fair to you? I want EVERYONE to go down, not just players. ALL WHO BENEFITED should pay the price. Everyone or no one. Period.

        • gc

          Ha-rumph!!!

          Well said.

    • Kiko Jones

      No, he’s a hypocrite b/c he DID NOT want to do anything while MLB was recovering from the backlash of the ’94 strike. Now, that it’s convenient and he’s looking for a legacy, he chooses to be St. Bud savior of baseball and make an easy example of a (probably) guilty player almost everyone hates so he’s not questioned too much about his motives. As I’ve said before, he’s a hypocrite b/c when doing the right thing was inconvenient he passed on it, and now that it is convenient he’s up on his high horse. That, is hypocrisy.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        IMO, you and that Droid idiot are way, way off base.

        In your world, Selig is a hypocrite because he, along with everyone else, looked the other way during the steroid era as everyone was profiting from it but now has aggressively identified and punished PED users.

        The inference from your line of thinking is that you would prefer that Selig continue to look the other way and not try to remedy his previous mistakes so as to not be hypocritical and that makes absolutely no sense.

        I agree with Singelton that no matter what Selig does, his hands will never be clean. That much is obvious as you cannot unring a bell, so to speak. He can and should however try to remedy the error of his prior policy.

        Given the choices in 2013 of continuing to look the other way and letting PED use become more and more rampant or trying to stomp it out of the game by enforcing that anti PED rules in the CBA as Selig is trying to do, his current actions are far, far more commendable that looking the other way

  • idontlikemattwarden

    wow Matt you actually didn’t conduct a shitty interview for a change!

    • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

      Oh man… IDLMW is actually impressed. This is just plain weird. I need to redo the rest of the interview immediately, I think. Equilibrium must be restored!

  • Betty Lizard

    Splendid interview, Matt!

  • iYankees

    Great stuff, Matt. Ken is #daman.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Matt Warden

    Thanks for the kind words, All. I’m hoping to have the rest of the interview ready within the next few days or so — lots to transcribe. Glad you’re all enjoying it.

  • Tim

    Really good interview and your point about Selig is spot on. MLB was willfully ignorant while riding the McGwire/Sosa HR chase and then left guys of that ilk spinning in the wind. And the same writers that also turned a blind eye are the ones that have made McGwire the only eligible member of the All-Century team not to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

    Honestly, I love that the Yanks will be saving over $30 mil on A-Rod’s salary but this integrity of the game reasoning is so often false. Thanks for bringing up Selig’s role in it. Good job.