Steiner reaches settlement in suit over stadium seats

In October, during the Yanks’ World Champion run, John Lefkus, a 22-year season-ticket holder and disgruntled purchaser of authentic Yankee Stadium memorabilia, filed a class action lawsuit against Steiner Sports. In his suit, he said that he paid $2000 for his season ticket seats only to receive a different set of Yankee Stadium chairs. He alleged deceptive acts and practices and false advertiser, among other charges, and requested both injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

This week, with little fanfare, the State Supreme Court announced a class settlement between Lefkus and Steiner Sports. As first reported yesterday by Ross at NYY Stadium Insider, the settlement covers those who purchased seats between May 1 and August 15, 2009, and those looking for a piece of the action must have retained their sales receipts.

Those in the affected class have two choices: Purchasers can return their seats for a full refund or receive one of two coupons — either one for $65 if the seats were a non-specific pair or one for $95 if the seats were a specific set from the old stadium. “In addition to this relief,” wrote the court, “Steiner has agreed to change its future advertising of Yankee Stadium Seat Pairs and to notify resellers of its advertising changes.”

The settlement, however, isn’t yet finalized. The court will hold a hearing on it on September 22 to determine if it is in the best interests of the class — and not just Lefkus, the named plaintiff. If the settlement is approved, those who wish to secure their part of the package will have until December 21 to do so. This settlement should close an ugly chapter in the recent history of both Steiner Sports and old Yankee Stadium.

After the jump, the claim form as well as a copy of the court’s notice of the proposed settlement. [Read more…]

Open Thread: Back to normal

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Just another day at the office, eh? Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th career homerun, the Yankees won their first game in weeks (and by weeks I mean since Saturday), and all is right in the world again. The Yanks can sit back and relax tomorrow during the off day, and go into this weekend’s series against the Red Sox with confidence and a clear mind. Couldn’t have asked for much more.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. YES is playing the encore of today’s game beginning at 7pm ET, so you watch A-Rod hit #600 again if you want. The Mets are in Atlanta playing the Braves, and you’ve also got the White Sox and Tigers on ESPN. You know what to do, so have at it.

Pirates claim CHoP off waivers

Chan Ho Park has been claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Yankees announced this afternoon. The right-hander had been DFA’d on Saturday to make room on the roster for Kerry Wood. Signed to a $1.2 million deal this winter after a strong season with the Phillies, Park went 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA for the Yanks. In 35.1 innings, he allowed 40 hits — seven of them home runs — while walking 12 and striking out 29. Fans grew to dread his appearances, but he’ll always be remembered for one early-season TMI press conference in Boston. The Pirates are now on the hook for the remaining portion of CHoP’s salary or approximately $400,000. I, for one, am glad to see the Pirates are still willing to take on Yankee has-beens.

Link Dump: No. 600 Edition

As I’m sure you already know, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th career homerun this afternoon, crushing a 2-0 fastball from Shaun Marcum into Monument Park in the very first inning. It was a long time coming, but that doesn’t cheapen the accomplishment at all. As you can imagine, there’s a whole bunch of stuff about it on the interviewed right now, so let’s round it up…

  • First things first: here’s the video if you haven’t seen it already. A reader sent us this video from the Stadium as well.
  • Here’s what Hal Steinbrenner had to say: “Congratulations to Alex on this great achievement and on adding another highlight to Yankees history. We are especially proud he accomplished this feat as a Yankee and here before the most loyal fans in baseball.” Short and sweet.
  • Courtesy of the Yankees, here’s a look at the ball. Michael Kay said during the broadcast that Alex and the Yanks were prepared to trade a signed ball, bat, and jersey for the historic homerun ball, and if that didn’t work, the next step was offering a private dinner with A-Rod and Cameron Diaz. That woulda been pretty cool.
  • The Associate Press put together this cool little interactive package about Alex’s life and career leading up this afternoon’s homer.
  • Jack Moore took a look at A-Rod’s career going forward compared to some other members of the 600 HR club.

We’ll of course have our regular game recap later tonight, but for now here’s a spot to wax poetic about this historic feat, something everyone should take a second to appreciate. No matter how you feel about the guy, this is one hell of an accomplishment. It takes talent, durability, and a whole lotta luck.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Game 107: Salvaging a series

Photo Credit: Amy Sancetta, AP (Edited by me)

The Yankees have already clinched their second consecutive losing series, but no one wants to go into tomorrow’s off day with the season’s first four game losing streak. A win today gives everyone, not just the players and coaching staff, some confidence before Boston comes to town for a long weekend. Basically we just need a way to forget about the crap we’ve witnessed over the last few days

Joe made my life easy and already told you what the Yanks have to do to be successful against Shaun Marcum today, so I’ll just refer you to that. Phil Hughes needs to avoid the homerun ball today (duh), something that’s probably not going to be very easy considering Toronto’s swing from the heels philosophy and the general homer happiness of the New Stadium. Just keep ‘em in the game Phil, and hope the offense wakes up.

Oh, and how about some resolution to this whole No. 600 business? That would be cool, I’m sick of hearing about it from MSM media types who said now one cares only to talk about it all the damn time. Anyway, here’s your lineup…

Jete, SS
Swish, RF
Tex, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Robbie, 2B
‘Sado, C
Berk, DH
Grandy, CF
Gardy, LF

And on the hill, it’s St. Philip of Hughes.

Game is scheduled to start just after 1pm ET, and you can watch on YES. And remember, it could always be worse.

This date in Yankee history: the Joba edition

Credit: AP Photo, Tony Gutierrez

On this date in 2008, Joba Chamberlain left his start in Texas after 4.2 innings with what the Yankees later termed right shoulder stiffness. Joba would sit out a month before returning to the bullpen in September. Questions about that shoulder injury have hovered around the youngster ever since.

Prior to that injury, Joba had taken the American League by storm. In 113 career innings pitched, he had thrown to a nifty 2.15 ERA (2.52 FIP) with 44 walks and 138 strike outs. Opponents had hit just .214/.291/.294 against him. Since the injury, Joba has thrown 214.2 innings with less than stellar results. He has a 4.78 ERA (but a 4.05 FIP) while allowing 97 walks and striking out 199. His K rate dropped from 10.99 per 9 IP to 8.34, and his walk rate increased from 3.5 per 9 IP to 4.06.

After the shoulder injury, Joba’s stuff seemed diminished. He had been reaching the upper 90s as a starter but couldn’t hit that mark last year as he struggled to adjust to Major League hitters. This year, his velocity has inched back up into the mid-to-upper 90s, but he hasn’t found the consistently dominating approach he enjoyed throughout those first 113 innings.

We’ll never know for sure exactly how much of an impact that shoulder injury had on Joba’s development. Maybe he’s struggled lately because Major League hitters adjusted to his style. Maybe he peaked young. It’s certainly happened to plenty of players. Maybe the back-and-forth from the bullpen hasn’t been the developmental guide he needed. Maybe the injury had absolutely nothing to do with his 2009-2010 results. Whatever the case may be, August 4, 2008 has always stood out in my mind as the night something changed. Joba left the game and hasn’t been the same since.

What to do against Marcum?

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

For the second straight day the Yankees will face a pitcher who features a changeup. As Mike noted in the recap, Marcum’s change ranks fifth among major leaguers in pitch type value, and even though we know the stat has its flaws, we also know that Marcum has a very good changeup. I wrote about it after his Opening Day start, and Marcum has continued to use it effectively this year.

It just seems like the Yanks can’t break through on pitchers who feature quality changeups. James Shields on Sunday, and then Romero yesterday, flat dominated the Yanks by making them chase pitches in the dirt. That’s the idea, of course. The changeup, executed properly, might be the most devastating pitch in baseball. The Yanks simply play into it by displaying an inability to lay off it.

Earlier in the season Joe Maddon got some people thinking when he started running same-handed batters out against changeup-heavy pitchers. Mike wrote about it in the context of Mark Teixeira, who had been swinging over nearly every changeup thrown to him at that point. Yet the idea stretches across the entire lineup. A good changeup, the devastating kind that Shields and Romero feature, not only travels slower than a fastball despite using the same arm action, but it also tails. For the most part, a changeup will tail to the pitcher’s throw side. That means that Romero’s changeup would tail away from righties. Since it’s easier to hit a pitch breaking towards you than a pitch breaking away from you, doesn’t that change the platoon situation?

For Maddon it did. When the Rays faced Marcum earlier in the year he stacked his lineup with righties, and even had his switch-hitters bat right-handed. There’s plenty of randomness in baseball, so it’s tough to attribute the Rays’ success that game solely to Maddon’s lineup decision. Still, it’s tough to ignore the 10 hits and seven runs the Rays scored in four innings against Marcum. They had also scored five runs in 8.1 innings against him the time before. His ERA went from 2.59 heading into those two games with the Rays to 3.38 afterward.

Does this mean that Girardi should employ a similar tactic? After last night it might not appear likely. Against Romero he went right-heavy, so why would he change tactics with Marcum? If he really is a numbers guy, as he proclaims, he might have reason. Righties have actually fared a bit better against Romero both this year and during his career. They hit home runs less frequently, but they also strike out less often and walk more often. Stacking the lineup with righties, then, made a degree of sense. It seems to make less with Marcum on the mound.

When looking at his career it looks like Marcum fares worse against opposite-handed hitters, despite his heavy changeup usage. Yet he seems like a different pitcher this year. He’s throwing the changeup a bit more often, 24 percent of the time, but he has also almost completely stopped throwing his slider. After throwing it between 12 and 15 percent of the time from 2006 through 2008 he has thrown it just 3.8 percent of the time this year. That’s the pitch that breaks away from righties. It seems, then, that he might be susceptible to a righty-heavy attack.

I’m not sure Girardi would have Teixeira, Swisher, Posada, and Berkman go up and bat right-handed, but he could mitigate some of Marcum’s threat by leaving, say, Brett Gardner on the bench and giving Kearns another start. Looking at it, that’s the only real substitution they could make. Which is a shame. It does seem like Shaun Marcum is having a bit tougher time against same-handed hitters this year.