Manchester City, Yanks to team up on NY MLS franchise

For much of the spring, a groundswell of institutional support for a New York City-based Major League Soccer franchise has been growing. The primary owners were set to be Manchester City Football Club, and the team, owned by a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, has had their eye on a piece of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. Now, the Yankees are involved as well, as a part-owners and powerful players on the New York City political scene, as they are joining with Manchester City to own part of MLS’ 20th franchise.

The Yankees will own approximately a quarter of the new soccer club, and as long as a stadium can be identified in time, the team will likely begin play during the 2015 MLS season. “We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people­, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”

For the Yankees and Manchester City, theirs is a marriage of political expediency as much as it is about economics. Soccer franchise ownership is hardly a high-reward investment, but the Yankees, through Legends Hospitality, already work with Manchester City. More importantly, though, the Yankees have deep-seated connections to the upper echelons of New York politics. Randy Levine and Lonn Trost will likely put their heads to see a stadium deal through during the final months of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term.

In fact, Yankees’ owner Hal Steinbrenner appointed Levine as his soccer guru in a statement this morning. “We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York — and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy,” said Hal Steinbrenner, managing general partner of the New York Yankees. “Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, will be the point person in leading the effort to launch and establish the team on behalf of the organization.”

The real elephant in the room here though is the park land grab. New York City park advocates have been dismayed that MLS’ attention has turned to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Already the subject of a planned expansion by the U.S. Open, this park area serves as a gathering point for many Queens communities, and plopping down a soccer stadium in the park would further limit scarce green space. The city has offered up land that’s a several miles and neighborhoods away, but the site pales in comparison with the current green expanse.

While MLS and Manchester City hope the Yanks’ involvement can push this project through to the finish line, parks advocates believe the team’s eventual lobbying efforts may serve as a wake-up call. “We hope this new deal once and for all puts to rest any further attempts to seize even more public parkland in Flushing Meadows Park,” Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said to The Times. “The Yankees were given enough.”

No matter the outcome of the stadium debate, the Yanks are poised to delve deeper into the New York City sports landscape, and it seems likely that Yankee Stadium will host a soccer team for at least its first season of existence. I wonder what the Boss would say if he were still alive.

Contest: Win $100 in ticket credit from TiqIQ

By all accounts, Joe Girardi is having an excellent year leading the Yanks’ rag-tag band of misfits to an AL-best 25-14 record, and to note the team’s and skipper’s progress so far, our partners at TiqIQ are giving away $100 in credit and the chance to purchase tickets for one game at 50 percent off to one lucky winner. Click through for the entry form and contest page, but here’s the fine print: Submit your name and email to TiqIQ and leave a comment on the company’s Facebook page responding to the following question: “Is Joe Girardi The Manager Of The Year (so far) And Why?” For my money, no other manager can come close over the first quarter of the season, but I’ll leave the why up to you. The contest ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, and don’t forget to check out RAB Tickets for your Yankee Stadium needs. [TiqIQ]

As with Bautista & DeRosa, Teixeira injury is to right tendon sheath

Updated (11:20 a.m.): The news on Mark Teixeira grew considerably worse this morning as the Yanks’ slugger returned to Tampa with his diagnosis. What had originally been called a strained right wrist is in fact an injury to his right tendon sheath, he told reporters. The Yanks’ first baseman isn’t going to rush back and discussed the possibility that he could be out until early June, nearly a month longer than first expected.

Later on, Brian Cashman explained that Tex’s injury is, according to Chad Jennings, a “partially torn sheath with a stable tendon.” A full recovery without surgery occurs in approximately 70 percent of cases, and Cashman said Teixeira would miss the season if he had surgery.

“This is one of those things I can’t come back too early,” Teixeira said. “We saw when I tried to play too early last year what happened. This is unfortunately, if I try to play too early, we could miss the whole season and we don’t want that. I don’t know if it’s going to be middle of May, end of May, beginning of June. I don’t know when it is, but I know that there’s a whole bunch of season left and the time that really matters is the playoffs.”

Early June could be the Yanks’ best-case scenario as tendon sheath injuries are very difficult to treat without surgery and the subsequent recovery time. When the slugger first announced his injury, Ken Rosenthal profiled tendon sheath injuries. Mark DeRosa tried to come back too soon from such an injury and required two surgeries that have sapped him off his power. Jose Bautista tried to avoid surgery as well but had to succumb to the knife last September.

On the other hand, David Ortiz suffered a similar injury in 2008 and missed 50 games. He slugged .529 after he returned from the injury, but that’s a rare case. The same year, Nick Johnson missed most of the season with a tendon sheath injury. If Tex ultimately needs surgery to retain his power as Bautista did, the Yanks will have to find a way to fill for one of their power bats at a time when first basemen are not readily available on the market.

Teixeira out 8-10 weeks with strained right wrist

Mark Teixeira will be sidelined for at least eight to ten weeks with a strained right wrist, the Yanks announced this afternoon. The first baseman will rest for four weeks before beginning rehab activities with a return expected by mid-May. For the power-starved Yankees, this development is a big blow to the team’s lineup.

With this injury, the Yankees’ 2013 Opening Day lineup will have at most three players who also appeared in the lineup on Opening Day last year, and such luminaries as Dan Johnson and Travis Hafner will be expected to pick up the offensive load. The Yanks’ April calendar isn’t an easy one, and pitching will now become that much more important. Hopefully, Tex won’t miss much more than the expected timeframe, but wrist injuries tend to both linger and sap hitters of their power.

Report: Nationals land Soriano; Yanks another draft pick

Per Yahoo! Sports’ very own Jeff Passan, the Nationals have signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal worth $28 million, and the Yankees will get a supplemental first round draft pick. Although a slow market had many thinking Soriano had erred in exercising his opt-out, Scott Boras exacting two years at $14 million with a vesting option for the third from a team that saw its closer utterly collapse in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the NLDS this year.

With this signing and because Soriano declined a qualifying offer, the Nationals lose their first round draft pick, and the Yanks gain another compensation pick. According to Jim Callis, that would be the 32nd pick of the draft. The draft order could move a bit when Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn finally ink deals, but for now, it seems as though the Bombers will have around $5 million to spend based on the slotting system. Three late-first round picks will allow the Yanks a nice talent grab at the end.

Somewhere over the rainbow

After a 162-game grind, you would think you know a team pretty well. After watching the same group of players face off for nine innings every night, winning many more games than they lose and scoring runs in bunches, you would think that the same team would show up for another round of games as they work toward a World Series title. You would think.

Instead for the past eight games, since their ninth inning outburst in Game 1 of the ALDS, we’ve watched the Yankees’ great bats disappear. While Alex Rodriguez has taken the blame, it was truly a team effort. Robinson Cano put up a historically awful post-season while Nick Swisher, despite his meditation efforts, continued his trend of vanishing once the clock struck October. Eric Chavez was abysmal as A-Rod‘s erstwhile replacement. Curtis Granderson failed to get a hit against the Tigers, went 3 for 30 with 16 strikeouts in the playoffs and is batting .208 with an OBP under .300 since June 6. Mark Teixeira managed one extra-base hit and drove in one run, and even the Yanks’ stellar pitching couldn’t overcome this offensive malaise to prove true the adage that pitching wins championships.

Here at RAB, we’ve tried over the years to explain baseball. One of the beauties of the sport is how, after enough at-bats, innings, games, trends and patterns emerge. We see how a team should perform over the long haul, and what their strengths or weaknesses are. As I’ve watched the Yanks disappear, my main thoughts have focused around the confusion of it all. Rather than being angry, I simply don’t get it. How could a team that was this good during the season, that finished the year 16-5, that nearly led the majors in runs scored turn into a worse version of the Astros?

Most of the explanations I’ve heard turn the Yanks into some cut-rate version of The Wizard of Oz. With runs at a premium, no one could find a way home. Spooked by boos raining down on them from the Yankee Stadium faithful, the team had no courage. The players played with no heart, and of course, the coaches and Joe Girardi had no brain. That’s not a particularly satisfying conclusion to the 2012 season.

Maybe there’s no real reason for the Yanks’ slide. Maybe they all started pressing. Maybe the Tigers and Orioles had their scouting reports down to a tee. Maybe an aging club saw its flaws exposed, and maybe the Yanks’ brain trust panicked a bit too much when the club struggled to score runs early in the postseason. Maybe, as John Sterling likes to say, you just cannot predict baseball. But something happened, and right now, I have no idea what that was. All I know is that the 88-win Tigers — the 7th best in the AL — made besting the Yanks look like a walk in the park.

So we wait out the off-season now. It will be a tumultuous one as A-Rod trade rumors swirl, and Brian Cashman reimagines a team. I think we’ll leave the last word with Ichiro though, who summed up everyone’s frustration perfectly. After the game, the quotesmith had this to say: “The feelings of dissatisfaction and hurt inside right now is something that I hadn’t experienced in a while. So to be able to experience even this pain right now, I’m just so grateful to the Yankees to give me this opportunity to do that.” It is a pain we all know too well today. May it not return next year.