Is the end for Sterling and Waldman nigh?

Ed Murawinski's poster of Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling affectionately dubbed the pair Ma & Pa Pinstripe. (Murawinski/Daily News)

Few members of the Yankees’ extended family elicit more debate and dissension than John Sterling and his Yankees Radio Network compatriot Suzyn Waldman. We’ve gone on the record wondering if the Yanks could do better but recognize that we’ve been stuck with Sterling for better or worse. Some people love his histrionics and gregarious radio voice while others would prefer that Waldman and Sterling work on their descriptive abilities and call the game as its played instead of the game in their mind. According to one recent report, though, we may be nearing the end of the Sterling-and-Waldman Era.

Bob Raissman, the well-sourced sports media columnist for the Daily News, questioned the future of Ma & Pa Pinstripe in his column on Saturday morning. The team’s radio deal, estimated at an annual worth of $12 million, with WCBS AM 880 expires after the 2011 season, and so too do Sterling’s and Waldman’s employment contracts. As Raissman puts it, Hal Steinbrenner’s Yankees are in no rush to renew the deal if the finances aren’t just right, and the team may be willing to let its next radio partner pick the broadcast voices.

“The Yankees regime, led by Hal Steinbrenner, will be more concerned with obtaining maximum dollars in a new radio deal than who the broadcasters are,” Raissman says. “Loyalty ain’t even a factor here.”

It will be interesting to see how this storyline plays out. Sterling and Waldman were George’s people through and through. Steinbrenner loved Sterling’s personality and his campy approach to Yankee games, and Waldman has been an organizational favorite and a female trailblazer in sports media for nearly two decades. Compared to the stars they cover, they don’t earn large salaries, but if another station wants to build its own identity, it sounds as though the new generation of Steinbrenners would have little use for the old.

And what might that new station be? Raissman reports of a potential change and one that would not be welcomed by many Yankee fans. “Outside of WCBS, which probably wants to keep the Yankees, it’s highly likely ESPN will – if it hasn’t already – stick its beak into the mix. For ESPN-1050, the process of trying to chip away at WFAN, longtime Mets rights holder, has not been easy,” he reports. Adding Yankees radiocasts to the mix of Jets, Knicks and Rangers would help change the equation – drastically. But how much would ESPN be willing to pay for the radio rights to Yankees baseball? And would pinstripe honchos be satisfied having their games go out over ESPN-1050’s weak signal?”

WEPN 1050 AM has a notoriously weak signal in the New York area. While WCBS 880 AM is one of the FCC’s clear-channel class A stations that doesn’t face competition for signal strength in the eastern half of the United States, WEPN isn’t so lucky. This class B signal is limited by a station in Philadelphia at 1060 on the AM dial, and it must avoid pointing or powering up its signal to the southwest due to the clear-channel status of an AM station in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Listeners near Boston and Washington, DC, can hear WCBS while residents in Monmouth County, New Jersey, have trouble with WEPN.

Right now, this contract status isn’t a very big issue. The team has another year left, and Sterling and Waldman will be around for it. How this is eventually resolved though will be an indicator of how things have changed business-wise for the Yanks after the passing of King George. Hal’s approach could be much, much different.

Open Thread: Uggla on the market

(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

The Marlins have been mighty busy this weekend. They’ve already traded away the two key pieces they received in the Miguel Cabrera blockbuster, and today we found out that they intend to trade Dan Uggla as well. The second baseman turned down a fat four-year contract offer a week or so ago, so they’re trying to get something in return before he leaves as a free agent next offseason. Uggla is just one of nine players to hit 30+ homers in each of the last four years, and is the only middle infielder to do so (the others: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, and Miggy),

Consider this a preemptive strike: no, the Yanks will not go after him. Yes he’d be a perfect fit since he could play second, third, and DH, but they’re not going to give up a boatload of prospects for a freakin’ super-utility guy likely to make $10M+ in his final year of arbitration. It would work in a vacuum, but the cost far exceeds the most likely outcome. Just forget about it.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The late MNF games should be entertaining enough, it features the Patriots at the Steelers. The Knicks are in action as well. Talk about whatever, just be cool.

Video of the Day: Renovating the old home

While browsing YouTube this morning, I came across this piece of Yankee Stadium history. It’s a video shot on Super 8 from the mid-1970s showing the old stadium in various stages of renovation. The opening scenes show the skeleton of the Tier rising above the original 1923 shell.

A good portion of RAB readers weren’t alive when the House that Ruth Built underwent renovations 36 years ago, and the lasting memories those of us who grew up with the Yankees in the 1980s have are of the post-renovation stadium. Despite the history we witnessed at Yankee Stadium II, many fans maintained that the renovations ripped the soul out of the historic park. The dimensions and atmosphere changed, and while the ghosts lingered, their shadows dimmed.

The video tracks the renovations, and after the five minutes elapsed, I grew mournful of the old home. The team and its fans have fully embraced the new ballpark, but I’ll always have the memories of old Yankee Stadium even as the ballpark fades from the physical landscape of New York City.

We originally posted this video early today on the RAB Bullpen. That’s our new Tumblr account, and we’re using it to highlight random Yankee tidbits, photographs and articles that we find across the web. Add it to your RSS feed and follow us if you’re on Tumblr.

Laird’s struggles continue in Arizona

Sorry I’ve been slacking with DotF lately, but I’ve been busy. Here’s what you’ve missed…

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (9-6 win over Mesa on Wednesday)
Brandon Laird, LF: 1 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 K
Jose Pirela, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 BB – got picked off first
Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 4-3 GB/FB – 40 of 71 pitches were strikes (56.3%) … 2 ER or less in five of his last six starts

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (5-1 loss to Scottsdale on Thursday)
Brandon Laird, LF: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 K

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (2-2 tie with Mesa on Friday) musta run out of pitchers
Brandon Laird, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 2 K – three a runner out at third … he’s six for his last 42 (.143)
Jose Pirela, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K
George Kontos: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – seven of his ten pitches were strikes … just the third time in his last eight appearances that he didn’t allow a run
Ryan Pope: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1-0 GB/FB – 13 of 21 pitches were strikes (61.9%)

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (8-1 win over Peoria in seven innings)
Jose Pirela. 2B: 0 for 3, 1 K
Craig Heyer: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 10-2 GB/FB – 22 of 33 pitches were strikes … love the grounders

I have no idea why Austin Romine hasn’t played in the last five days, hopefully it’s nothing serious. They could have just shut him down after a long, long season. The season does end of Thursday, so that’s possible. Phoenix has already been eliminated from Saturday’s Championship Game since they have the league’s worst record at 9-17. Here’s the other winter leagues…

Australian Baseball League
Nathan Aron: 2 G, 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 K (.500/.400/.500)
Kyle Perkins: 6 K, 0 for 6, 6 K - yikes

Dominican Winter League
Juan Miranda: 3 G, 1 for 10, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K (.100/.250/.100)
Francisco Santana: 5 G, 2 for 7, 2 R, 1 K (.286/.286/.286)
Wilkins Arias: 8 H, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Mexican Pacific League
Walt Ibarra: 25 G, 22 for 74, 18 R, 4 2B, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 16 K, 3 SB, 1 CS (.297/.354/.351)
Jorge Vazquez: 7 G, 6 for 26, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K, 1 CS (.231/.310/.385)

Puerto Rican League
Francisco Gil: 4 G, 6 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 WP (10.50 ERA, 2.17 WHIP)
Eric Wordekemper: 13 G, 12.1 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 13 K, 1 WP (5.84 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

Venezuelan Winter League
Luis Nunez: 7 G, 2 or 10, 1 R (.200/.200/.200)
Romulo Sanchez: 4 G, 3.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 0 K (10.80 ERA, 3.00 WHIP) – eek
Josh Schmidt: 6 G, 5 GS, 28.2 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 4 ER, 13 BB, 32 K (1.26 ERA, 0.94 WHIP)

Justin Christian isn’t with the organization after becoming a minor league free agent, hence the exclusion from the update. He is hitting .389/.459/.620 in 27 games though. Same deal with Jose Gil (.276/.306/.466 in 17 games), Edwar Gonzalez (.333/.360/.417 in 16 games), Rene Rivera (.208/.309/.354 in 14 games), Marcos Vechionacci (.317/.368/.397 in 18 games), Jon Ortiz (6.75 ERA, 2.25 WHIP in three appearances), and Zack Segovia (3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in six appearances). Also, Mark Newman confirmed to Josh Norris that Jesus Montero will not be playing winter ball this year. For shame.

Football Open Thread

The Jets are in Cleveland (1pm ET) and the G-Men are getting a visit from the Cowboys (4:15pm ET). Here’s your thread for all of today’s gridiron action, so have at it.

Sunday Morning Links

Here’s some links to check out before the Jets take on the Mangenius, the Giants sack Jon Kitna 17 times and the Pats find a way to beat the Steelers.

Mike Fish at ESPN.com has a piece on Roberto Alomar’s life since his career ended.  I knew it was bad, after reading this column it’s worse than I thought.  Alomar who will get into the Hall of Fame this year was an amazing ballplayer.  I think because he played for 7 teams and didn’t play any of his peak in a big baseball market he’s a little overlooked, but he was special.  Alomar was a very similar player to Derek Jeter and I can’t imagine how he’d be viewed had he spent his whole career in the Bronx, Boston, Philly or another good baseball hotbed.  He certainly would have gotten into Cooperstown on the first ballot with room to spare.  His career fell off a cliff in 2002, but what he did as a second baseman for a 10 year stretch was pretty amazing.

Former Yankee prospect Brandon Weeden is finding success on the football field.  Weeden was the first player selected by the Yankees in the 2002 draft  He showed some early promise but his baseball career was derailed by injuries.  I enjoy stories like this so I’m glad to see he’s having success.  Weeden is 27 years old, so I wonder if his coach Mike Gundy considers him a man or not?

Marc Carig wrote on his blog about the difficultly he can run into writing for different audiences through different mediums.  It’s a very good piece and while I’m sure many have you have seen it, if you haven’t I suggest doing so.  Like now.  Also take a look at Craig Calcaterra’s take on Carig’s post which is also informative and thought provoking.  Pretty good stuff in both posts.

Here’s a good piece over at Yahoo by Kendall Rogers on Karsten Whitson and why he spurned a couple million bucks to go to college. I think we can often interject ourselves into players lives’ without truly knowing how they feel so it’s good to see Whitson’s explanation.  It’s definitely something to consider when free agents don’t sign where you hoped or expected, or when draftees decide not to sign.

Open Thread: Maybin on the move

(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Apparently it’s “let’s forget all about that Miguel Cabrera trade” weekend in Florida. After dealing Andrew Miller yesterday, the Marlins traded the other key piece in Miggy haul today, sending Cameron Maybin to the Padres for a pair of relievers. Righty Burke Badenhop (3.67 FIP in 67.2 IP this year) is the lone survivor of the Cabrera trade, the other five players are all elsewhere now. How about that.

My quick take: I like the move for both sides, more for San Diego though. They have bullpen pieces to spare, and Maybin’s still only 23 if you can believe it. Lots of talent, and it’s worth a shot to see if he can figure it out on your team. Florida needed bullpen help, and the two guys they got are promising. Ryan Webb has a great arm, but his stuff is so lively that he has trouble controlling it. Mujica got lost in the Padres bullpen given some of he other guys they had in there, but struck out 72 and walked six (!!!) in 69.2 innings this year. The deal makes sense for both sides, I’d just rather be getting Maybin.

Anyway, here’s the nightly open thread. Both the Nets and Isles are playing, and of course there’s a zillion college football games on. Talk about whatever, enjoy.