What choice does the Fox-Cablevision dispute leave us?

It just plays over and over and over again…

I wrote this up for FanGraphs, but the subject is closer to us, since a good lot of us live within the Cablevision coverage area. Since October 16 we’ve been without Fox, which normally is no big deal. If the network has a show I want to watch, I can visit one of many websites that will stream it to my computer. The only problem is the timing. Fox pulled its programming on the day the NLCS began, meaning I’ve already missed an important series — though I have to say that San Francisco’s radio team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow made it a little easier on me. But starting today the stakes are a bit higher.

Today begins the greatest sporting event on the planet. The nation might not be enthralled by a Texas – San Francisco match-up, but I sure am. I can’t wait to watch Cliff Lee pitch against Tim Lincecum, to see if the Texas offense, to hope that San Francisco can string together some hits — or that Cody Ross can further his folk hero status. Unfortunately, I’ll have to find a non-traditional way to watch the action; my cable company and the station carrying the World Series are in a fight.

Neither Fox nor Cablevision would be anywhere without people who pay for their services. Yet how do they treat us? Like we don’t matter. Fox and Cablevision don’t care that they’re taking the World Series away from die-hards. They just want the greatest possible amount of money — Fox by demanding a higher fee for its services, and Cablevision by enforcing the status quo. Lost in the squabble is the consumer that pays his cable bill and watches commercials.

I’ve been told that I should just buy a pair of cheap rabbit ears and pick up the Fox signal that way. The picture is better than your cable HD, they say. But when I went into Radio Shack last night the salesman basically refused to sell me a pair of rabbit ears. They don’t work well in this area. I trust the guy, because he was basically turning away a sale — because he knew I’d be back today to return it, and it costs the company money to process a return. I could buy an amplified HD antenna, but that starts at $60. I could write that off on my taxes, I suppose, but that’s still $60 that I’m paying because the ~$140 per month I pay for cable and internet isn’t enough to get me the World Series.

As it stands, I have a good mind just to cancel my cable altogether and buy those more expensive rabbit ears. I could then get sports on the major networks and watch my cable programming online — it helps that my computer easily hooks up to my TV. I also have a PS3 and can therefore watch anything from Netflix on my TV as well. The PS3 also has a beautiful MLB.tv plugin. That covers pretty much everything — except the most important thing.

I’m stuck with cable because of the Yankees. Gaining access to YES every night without a cable subscription is probably easy, but not something of which I want to make a habit. And so I’m left with a choice:

1) Purchase rabbit ears that will be pointless once Fox and Cablevision come to an agreement.

2) Purchase Postseason.tv, which doesn’t provide a full view of the game.

3) Listen again on the radio — which will be a difficult endeavor in Game 4, when I’m scheduled to write a recap for ESPN Insider.

4) Go to a bar, which will be unkind to my wallet.

5) Find a feed line, which is illegal.

6) Switch to Verizon FiOS. Damn. FiOS isn’t hooked up in my building and the building manager hasn’t made that a priority.

In other words: Thanks, Fox and Cablevision, for leaving me with six distinctly shitty World Series viewing options. I pay my bills, and I watch my commercials (at least during sporting events). Yet this is the way I’m treated.

Laird continues to rake in Phoenix

Via Josh Norris, senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman confirmed that David Adams will ready in time for Spring Training, but Jeremy Bleich is going to have to wait until midseason. Adams, of course, had that broken ankle, while Bleich had surgery to repair some sort of tear in his pitching shoulder.

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (5-3 loss to Surprise in ten innings)
Brandon Laird, DH: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB – OPS’ing over a 1.000, but he’s like, one of a dozen doing that out here
Jose Pirela, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 BB – hey look at that, he got a hit
Ryan Pope: 2 IP, zeroes, 2-4 GB/FB – 13 of 21 pitches were strikes (61.9%)
George Kontos: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3-2 GB/FB – a dozen of his 18 pitches were strikes

Report: Girardi re-up will be for 3 years, $9 million

As the Yanks’ Hot Stove Leagues kicks into gear, Jon Heyman has a brief update on the team’s managerial situation. Joe Girardi and the Front Office are working on a contract that would keep Girardi helming the club for the next three years, and the deal would be worth approximately $3 million per year. Girardi’s last deal gave him $2.5 million, and considering that the skipper won a World Series and reached the ALCS this year, a raise is in line with club expectations. Negotations, says Heyman, “are not expected to take long.”

Bill Shannon, Yankee Stadium official scorer, passes away at 69

Via Alex Belth, Yankee Stadium official scorer Bill Shannon was killed in a house fire today. He was 69. Shannon lived in the West Caldwell, New Jersey home with his elderly mother, who was saved from the fire by neighbors. It’s been a tough year in Yankeeland, and even though Mr. Shannon was not as prominent a figure as, say, Bob Sheppard, it’s still sad to hear. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Open Thread: New Sod

Lost in all the chaos of yesterday’s press conferences, the Yankees are re-sodding the infield. A few of the beat writers were snapping photos of what you see above and posting them on Twitter. From what I understand, the entire diamond – the grass surrounding the pitcher’s mound – is completely gone as well after today’s work. I”m not sure if the outfield will follow. They might just be replacing the high traffic areas, plus the outfield was re-sodded a few weeks after the Cotto-Foreman boxing match tore it up in June. Still no word if they’re going to fix the warning track though.

Anywho, here’s your open thread for the evening. No baseball, football, or (local) hockey tonight, but it’s Opening Night for the NBA. TNT is carrying the Heat and Celtics at 7:30pm ET, then the Rockets and Lakers three hours later. Go ahead and talk about that, or whatever else is on your mind.

Cliff Lee expectations and expectorations

When the Yankees and CC Sabathia began the highly public dance that culminated in a seven-year, $161-million contract, his wife Amber’s desire to be in New York played no small role in the negotiations. Early reports suggested she was hesitant about raising her family in the city, but eventually, the two sides were able to compromise on the situation. Today, a few weeks before the Yanks can negotiate with Cliff Lee’s camp, Kristen Lee is making her presence felt.

As USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported today, Mrs. Lee said she had a very unpleasant experience in Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. Reportedly, Yankee fans sitting near the Rangers’ wives were throwing cups of beer, screaming obscenities and even spitting. “The fans did not do good things in my heart,” she said. “When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

Of course, since this is New York and the Yankees are involved, the story — two simple sentences — has spread like wildfire. Rob Neyer, never one to miss an opportunity to bash the Yankees, now puts the team’s chances of signing Lee at “well south” of 50 percent. CBS’ professional hater Gregg Doyel believes there is “No way he goes there after the way NYY fans treated his wife in person, and now on the internet.” (Apparently, some fans have been less than kind to Mrs. Lee on the Internet today. Can you imagine that? Bad things said about someone on the Internet. Why I never.)

Putting things in perspective is ESPN New York. Andrew Marchand spoke with Darek Braunecker, Cliff Lee’s agent. He had this to say: “The story is not an issue to us. Her experience in New York is certainly a nonissue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys NY.” Marchand also stresses, rightly, so Kristen’s close friendship with Amber Sabathia.

So what’s going on here and should we be worried? The polite side of me wants to lash out at Yankee fans rude enough to taunt and spit on opposing players’ wives during a playoff game. The cynical side of me sees this as a negotiating tactic designed to send a message that the Yanks will have to sweeten their deal to lure the Lee family to New York. But that’s not really news crazy enough to feed the 24-hour sports beast. There ain’t nothing to see here.

Yankees players under contract for the 2011 season

Here’s a breakdown of who will be back with the Yankees in 2011 and what they’ll earn. It should be a good reference point as we discuss deals in the future.

Currently has a contract

Player Salary (in millions)
Alex Rodriguez $32
CC Sabathia $24.287
Mark Teixeira $23.125
A.J. Burnett $16.5
Jorge Posada $13.1
Robinson Cano $10
Nick Swisher $9.1
Curtis Granderson $8.25
Damaso Marte $4

That gives the Yankees six starting position players (three infielders, two outfielders, and a catcher), two starting pitchers, and a player who almost certainly won’t throw another pitch for the team. ‘

Total roster spots: 8
Total salary: $140.362 million

Arbitration eligible

Player Arb. Yr. Prev. Salary
Sergio Mitre 3 $0.85
Boone Logan 2 $0.59
Joba Chamberlain 1 $0.487
Phil Hughes 1 $0.447
Dustin Moseley 1 N/A

Hughes, Logan, and Chamberlain will be tendered an offer, while Mitre and Moseley are less certain. I don’t expect the Yankees to tender an offer in either case, but they could try for something similar to what they did last year with Mitre. Still, it’s not all that likely.

Assuming Mitre and Moseley leave, that’s a starting pitcher and two relievers, with a combined salary ranging between $2 million and, say, $4 million.


Brett Gardner
Alfredo Aceves
David Robertson
Ramiro Pena
Franciso Cervelli


The listed players total 16, and will make somewhere in the neighborhood of $145 million. If the Yankees want to stick with their $200 million ceiling, that means $55 million for the remaining nine players. They won’t divide it evenly, of course, but if Jeter and Mo come back at their previous salaries that’s then $20 million for seven players. Add Cliff Lee and they’re already over $200 mil with six players, including a starting pitcher, to go.

This leads me to believe that the Yankees will figure prominently into off-season headlines. They normally do, of course, but with the way their roster breaks down I’m sure that they’ll either be moving some players, or otherwise will be going well above their $200 million payroll goal. Either way, we’ll have a busy off-season in Yankeeland. I think everyone can deal with that.