Thursday, December 12, 2019

YANKEES PUSHING HARD TO SNAG LEFTY MONSTER JOSH HADER!

A quick note and an important one.


With Gerrit Cole now a New York Yankee, the Yanks are looking to secure the bullpen and become even more confident in the pitching department. I guess they read BYB and understand our concern when it comes to a short series like the playoffs. WE WERE EXPOSED WITH PITCHING PROBLEMS in 2019 at times. And yes... that's what hurt us down the stretch. We had the tools when it comes to offense.... but when it came to arms, we just weren't dominant.

With Cole, we will be better. With Hader, we may be the best damn team in all of baseball.  Tweets are coming in fast and furious on Twitter. Here's the Score:


And MLB Trade Rumors writes:


"...the Yankees 'have been the most active pursuer' of Hader. The Yanks already possess two dynamic southpaws in Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton. Having already brought in Chapman and Gerrit Cole this offseason, a move for Hader would make a stunning trifecta of high-powered arms. "

Now I guess we have to wait and see.

Bottom line though? I want the dude in pinstripes... BADLY!


WILL THE GERRIT COLE CHRISTMAS GIFT CRIPPLE THE YANKEES?


Christmas has come early this year! The Yankees have wanted Gerrit Cole for YEARS. Fans have been drooling for an ace for years and we finally got one. The Yankees got their "white whale" as Brian Cashman called him. Yet some people still aren't happy. Maybe not everyone, but some.


This is a nice Christmas gift though! It just goes to show you that some people are not happy no matter what you get them. Buy someone a Fitbit, but they want an Apple watch instead...that sort of idea. The Yankees just paid for an elite pitcher and gave us all the best Christmas present and well....not everyone is excited.


Personally, I think Mike Francesa complains a lot but I can understand his initial reaction. Forget about the Stanton deal. That's done and over with. Unnecessary? Okay, but we can't change it. As for Cole, I am not THRILLED with the contract structure BUT it may not be as bad as Francesa seems to think it will be. 

The Yankees signed CC Sabathia to a $161 million, seven-year deal before the 2009 season and he was also 29 years old. He stayed with us for 11 years, not all of those years was he an ace-level pitcher but it worked out well for us. We got a championship in his first season and a veteran leader for years after. He's a beloved Yankee likely bound for Cooperstown.


Several other pitchers before Cole have signed big contracts. The Nationals just re-signed Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander all signed big deals. None of those deals were busts or crippled their franchise. You could call the David Price deal close to a bust. The Red Sox would be happy to trade him if they can find an interested team but they would never give back the championship he helped them win in 2018.


The money and years are not ideal, I'm sure we all would've liked this deal even more with less years and more money. Problem is that wasn't going to happen. The Strasburg deal reset the market and that was the new market value. We all need to remind ourselves that this contract is all about this first three to five years. The Yankees have all of the pieces to win another championship....or more than one. If the Yankees win the World Series earlier into this contract then they won't mind a couple of less productive years at the end of the contract. Cole will be 37 years old when the contract ends unless he chooses to opt out after five years for whatever reason. It's not the end of the world.

It will be interesting to see how this effects the Yankees willingness to spend money on guys like Gleyber Torres, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge when their time comes. I don't worry as much for guys like Judge, the Yankees can and should pay him.....but what about guys like Sanchez? This would be my concern more so then the money and years we just committed to Cole.


So can Yankee fans ever truly be happy? There's always something to complain about. It's either too many years and too much money or it's frustration that we let a guy walk. It's time to realize what just happened and accept it. We smashed the piggy bank and paid big bucks for Cole. We finally got our ace, we got an upgrade we needed.

Be thankful for your Christmas gift!





--Jeana Bellezza-Ochoa
BYB Managing Editor
Twitter: @NYPrincessj

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

BREAK-A-BAT: THE INTERVIEW

It's a great podcast and it's a great group of people that put it together.  What started out as a small operation has turned into something bigger... and I love that and root for it!

The first time I wrote about Break-A-Bat was in June when we put out A GREAT PODCAST WITH BASEBALL & BROADWAY! It was well worth it to introduce them to our audience and well deserved for them as well!  And so now I wanted to get more from my buddy Al Malafronte, one of the founders of Break-a-Bat. And so, we interviewed him here at BYB!

Enjoy this, I sure did!

BYB: What in the world possessed you to combine the theater with the New York Yankees? Talk about a crossover! 

Al Malafronte: This one comes from a place close to home. They’re my two biggest passions. My dad was the biggest Yankee fan around but also had a real artistic side to him which was something I really admired. He was my hero in every way, so we grew up in a Yankee and performing-centric household --- going to games and to Broadway shows even from a young age. 

I performed in the school plays, while simultaneously playing baseball through my early teens. However, in school, it was never “cool” to participate in both sports and theatre. A stigma that the two had to live in such separate worlds, and obviously at the time, peer pressure can sometimes be prevalent thing at 14 years old, and I chose to put my character shoes on the shelf when I was sent to a Catholic high school where the arts were not embraced. I was fortunate that I transferred to public high school where I found more mature friends who really allowed me to embrace my passion for both. 

I, myself, started to mature as well, which allowed me to be true to who I was. Upon moving to Manhattan a few years after graduating college, I noticed that unfortunately, the stigma still existed to some extent about sports and theatre, and I thought I could do something about it while having some fun with my buddies in the process. This whole endeavor is really for that kid out there who’s suiting up to play Harold Hill in the fall, and 3rd Base in the spring.


BYB: I love Aroldis Chapman. You guys seem to include him in every ad for the Break-a-Bat podcast on Instagram and it's hilarious. What's the reason for it?




Al Malafronte: A 6-time All-Star. A World Series Champion. Holder of multiple MLB records. Chapman signifies something greater than baseball for us. Even at BroadwayCon this year, the Broadway World’s equivalent of Comic Con, I got the sense that he’s really a special figure in the theatre community just based on the reactions from some of the fans when they saw my Yankee hat. 


His velocity…his emotion on the mound…he’s theatre with every pitch! Logical choice for our mascot. When it just so happened that a lot of people started gravitating toward that on social media with some of the early posts, we figured: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And since it’s what we find funny, that makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s been fun to cast him in the likes of anything from Beetlejuice to Frozen to Mean Girls.


BYB: OK. Greatest Yankee moment of your lifetime that you actually had the pleasure of witnessing live and why is it so important?

Al Malafronte: Of course there’s always that first championship that your parents let you stay up late for and watch on TV, which for me was Game 4 of the ’99 World Series vs. Atlanta. 

In person, however, it’d be very easy to say one of the big playoff moments like Bernie’s walk-off Homer against Boston in the ’99 ALCS or A-Rod taking Nathan deep in the ’09 ALDS. I think the one that stands out to me most, however, was Jeter passing Lou Gehrig as the Yankee hit king. I was away at college and my sister had yet to go to the new Stadium. Maybe 3 weeks before, we spontaneously decided to buy tickets since it was a Friday night game.


Jeter just so happened to tie Gehrig in the game prior. I came home from school for the weekend with a lot of uncertainty and suspense as to whether the game would even be played because of lots of rain in the forecast. 

I believe the rain delay was a good hour and change, but when it was finally time for first pitch, you could definitely sense the magic in the air. A lot of emotion as well because it was September 11th. Reminiscent of the old stadium which was really cool. When Jeter came up against Chris Tillman in the 3rd inning and laced that single to right field, it was just euphoria and emotion in every possible sense. I was happy I got to share that with my sister and sometimes still in disbelief that we were in the building. Baseball theatre at its finest.

BYB: Greatest play you've ever seen in the amazing theater district of New York City. Go!

Al Malafronte: That’s a great question…each of my favorites is so synonymous with different chapters in my life. You never forget your first, which for me was Once Upon a Mattress with Sarah Jessica Parker. 



I went with my whole family when I was 7 – definitely unforgettable and a very special memory. 

So much of what I love about my experiences with Broadway are the stories surrounding the trip to the show…I had a blast at Disaster! with my buddy Chris Katzmann, who’s now the Social Media Manager/Creative Consultant for Break a Bat! 

Beetlejuice was a fun one because I saw it on the night of the infamous Broadway Blackout where 26 of 30 shows went dark due to a midtown power outage this July. 


I’ll never forget when Scotty (Chris’ brother/my original co-host) read Kerry Butler’s tweet “Beetlejuice still has the juice!” A lot of adrenaline going into that one which made it all the more fun. 

For my number 1 show, however, I think have to go with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I grew up with my parents’ music so it was pretty surreal to see Carole’s story and iconic song catalog projected on stage so perfectly. It was one of my cooler moments as a Broadway fan. I don’t usually get caught up in awards but it was pretty sweet when the show went onto win the Tony for Best Musical. To this day, one of only 3 shows I’ve seen twice!

BYB: Al, you and I have known each other for over a decade. We've always talked Yankees. In fact, you were there when BYB was in it's infancy and always supported us. A two-parter here: Why do you like it so much and the second part is why do you think BYB resonates with so many people out there?

Al Malafronte:




BYB: Would you ever consider doing a column for us at BYB? Maybe an article on your favorite player, your favorite Yankee team? 



Who is your favorite player by the way... and why?

Al Malafronte: Anytime you want, Case! As for current Yankees, Aroldis Chapman is the obvious choice there. Of all-time, I’d have to go with A-Rod. Maybe it’s my theatrical background, but there was always something about him from day one that I really resonated with. 



He captured the human essence of the game through all of his ups and downs. In fact I even chose him as the subject of my SAT writing section! His 2005 and 2007 MVP seasons remain two of the greatest spectacles I’ve ever witnessed as a baseball fan, and his whole performance during the 2009 season and playoff run coincides with one of the most special times in my life. 

So much of what makes baseball so special is our ability to create a timeline with certain events in our life, and A-Rod seems to be in the center of so many of those events. In many senses I feel like I grew up with him, and I had the chance to attend his final game which was one of the more emotional nights I’ve ever had at the ballpark.


BYB: The Yankees had a real shot in 2019. I tend to believe that if they don't get 1 strong starting pitcher, they will not win again in 2020. To me, pitching is what hurt this team in 2019 in a short playoff series. I feel like they were exposed. What's your take on all of this?

Al Malafronte: I think the Yankees could trot out their current roster without making another move this offseason and reach the playoffs. Probably even make it to the ALCS. But that’s not what we’re in this for. This is a clear “win-now” window for a team that I’d like to believe has the mindset of Championship or bust. You have all of these controllable position players in their prime on good contracts but that won’t be the case forever. As far as an ace pitcher goes, it’s essential. And our inability to do so in recent years is something that’s frustrated me to no end. It’s no coincidence that there hasn’t been a parade since 2009, which was the last time we signed an actual ace in CC that offseason. 



I feel like in recent years, this team has prioritized wrong at times. While there have been some brilliant moves on the position player front (the trades for Didi and Gleyber, as well as the signing of DJ LeMahieu), and of course the acquisition and re-acquisition of Aroldis Chapman on the bullpen front...they simply haven’t gotten it done when it comes to putting together a championship caliber rotation. The unnecessary contract given to Jacoby Ellsbury prevented us from making a run at Max Scherzer in the 2014-2015 offseason, and then made us hesitant to do what we had to do to bring Verlander here in 2017. 


Then of course taking on the Stanton contract after the 2017 season when there was absolutely no need for it was a horrible mistake. I understand that the asking price was virtually nothing in terms of player return, however, they were taking on 10 years of generally, an extremely injury-prone one-dimensional player. I do fear that the Stanton contract will get in the way of the team bringing in a top free agent pitcher. If you look back at all the World Championship teams in the 2010’s, the Kansas City Royals were the one exception that won it all without a true ace. The Yankees’ current starting rotation is good, not great. Even with an all-time bullpen led by the likes of Chapman, the current formula they’ve been employing simply won’t cut it come October. The Yankees need that ace or else this World Series drought will hit 11 years.

BYB: OK. Back to the Theater. Who is your favorite female actress and why? 


Photo: Al with Ashley Williams
Al Malafronte: It’s almost unfair for me to have to pick just one now that I’m lucky enough to interview some of them. It’d be easy for me to say Cate Blanchett, Cobie Smulders or Ashley Williams. Ashley was our show’s most recent in-studio guest --- probably the most fun I’ve had in the studio to date. Anyway, they’ve all done some Broadway but are primarily known for their work in film and television. 

Photo: Ashley Williams
If we’re talking strictly Broadway, I’d have to say Angie Schworer. Angie is Broadway’s ultimate triple-threat … she can sing, she can dance, and she can act. We’ve made baseball parallels before that she’s the equivalent of a hitter who hits for average, power, and gets on base. 


I had the chance to see in both The Producers when I was in junior high, and more recently in The PROM this past March. She’s been at it for a long time and is still on the top of her game which is something I really admire. 

Had long been a fan, and always thought she’d be a blast to interview. When I reached out to her about coming on the podcast, it was a total shot in the dark as we had never done an interview with anyone of her stature on Broadway before. It was pretty surreal that she just so happened to be our first actual in-studio guest too. As great as she is as an actress, she’s even more awesome of a person.



BYB: Your recently did an incredible podcast with Mike Ford. How'd you go about getting it and what was the dude like one on one after the mics turned off?

Al Malafronte: A lot of that came from finding my voice as a host, and also how to project the message of what this show is to guests I’d like to interview. 


A clear message as to why it’s worthwhile for someone in either industry to participate. Mike Ford was a really good guy and a pleasure to be around.

BYB: You have celebrated some really great early victories with Break-a-Bat. It's been a pleasure watching your product grow so steadily and quickly. What's next? 

Al Malafronte: Thank you for the kind words! It’s hard to believe that this thing only started in the spring when Scotty and I would order a pizza and record what was on our minds about baseball and Broadway into my laptop speakers. 


Photo: Producers Dori Berinstein and Alan Seales
While I consider myself a lifelong student of both baseball and theatre, I’ve been fortunate to link up with some incredible mentors at The Broadway Podcast Network – my producers Dori Berinstein and Alan Seales. They’ve given me a wonderful opportunity that I’m so grateful for, and have taught me so much about the industry and podcasting in general, and that’s made me even more passionate about what we’re doing. I’m hoping we have a 2020 that’s just as special and unique as 2019 was. 


It was pretty surreal to get to interview performers from the stage, screen and stadium that I really admire. We have our first live broadcast coming up at the 2020 edition of BroadwayCon with a surprise guest, as well as plenty of great weekly releases that are either banked or booked with some great names, all of which have phenomenal stories to tell. 


In a perfect world, maybe we can get Chapman and Marlon on one day!

BYB: Finally... When the hell am I getting an invitation to appear on the podcast with you? The offseason is the most fun for me! Let's go!

Al Malafronte: Rumor has it that there may be 2020 Yankee season preview episode featuring myself, the Katzmann brothers, Suzie Pinstripe, and Casey himself…negotiations have been fairly messy with that Casey guy, however. I think he’s represented by Boras?

HA! I'd never hire Boras to represent me... it's about character and integrity... not about the money, Al! You know this about me!

Anyway... love this dude and love the product. I hope you guys did too.  Be sure to download Break-a-Bat podcast on iTunes. It's a real great project... and it's growing every day!

Thanks for chatting with us Al...keeping grinding and Go Yanks!!

GERRIT COLE IS A YANKEE!

It's about freaking time!


News is all over Twitter. Gerrit Cole has agreed to play for the New York Yankees for a ridiculous amount of years and a ridiculous amount of money. I hope he doesn't suck.

Everyone is reporting this, but we'll go with Passan:

What is it? 9 years and $324 million? Jesus.

And then there's this:

Had to throw it in.

Welcome to the Bronx Gerrit.

DIDI GREGORIUS TO THE PHILLIES


Unfortunately, Didi Gregorius is moving away from the Big Apple to Philadelphia. Talk about a downgrade.

The former shortstop was declined an extension on a qualifying offer, signed a one-year deal worth $14 million. We most likely have Joe Girardi to blame for snatching our fan favorite as they worked together for three seasons in the Bronx.

After Girardi was named the manager of the Phillies, he was very vocal about his admiration of Didi.


“I’ve always been a big fan of Didi and what he’s been able to accomplish,” Girardi told reporters last week. “You have to remember, I got him when he first came over and he was replacing a legend [in Derek Jeter] and how difficult that was, and to see the growth that he made was really pleasing to me.”

Brian Cashman does not seem too concerned about losing Didi because of Gleyber Torres, but is not ruling out looking for a shortstop outside of the organization. 

“It doesn’t mean that we can’t go outside the organization at the same time if necessary,” he said. “And, so, we have a lot of flexibility because of the choices that we currently possess and, and those choices don’t aren’t limited just to the in-house options, it could be obviously out-house, going outside in franchise with trades or free agency at the same time.” 



In the meantime, the Yankees have bigger fish to fry and thank god for their catch! Read more on this, but the Yankees have signed Gerrit Cole after a nail biting week for fans who were just waiting and waiting for something to happen! 9 years, 324 million. Read GERRIT COLE IS A YANKEE! for more.

Anyway... looks like Suzie Pinstripe and I need to go see our old friends Didi and Zack Wheeler in Philly this summer!



--Missy O'Rourke
BYB Contributor
Twitter: @missy_orourke



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

GIRARDI FINGERS CHEATING ASTROS


I love that the world is piling up on the Cheater Houston Astros.  But the longer it takes to do this investigation means more time between the incident and the investigation. That worries me, but it also makes me feel good because it means that they are taking the accusations against this loser Astros team seriously.  I just want the hammer to come down on these players big time. They deserve the worst.

Joe Girardi is now speaking out. The New York Daily News writes:

“I wasn’t shocked. We had put in a lot of things to try to combat certain things. You know, word gets around,” Girardi said in the press room of the Manchester Grand Hyatt...


"...that's not coming from the players on the field. The players on the field, it's their job to guard against the players on the field. You can't guard against technology and players off the field,” Girardi said. “Now, you do have guys that are really good at picking up things from pitchers where they tip. To me, that's still on the field, in a sense. “So that is bothersome to me..."

Look, for the most part players and managers are worried about the integrity of the game and that's the most important part of this. Oh... and the fact that the Astros cheated with technology is sort of horrendous.

And the worst part? Not a single person within the Astros organization has spoken about the allegations and investigations.  Alex Cora is despicable anyway, but this just makes it worse. The New York Post has this:


“I know you have a job to do and you have to ask the question, but out of respect of the investigation MLB has and the Astros, I am not going to answer questions,’’ Cora said. “I talked to MLB in the process.’’ 

How come everyone else is talking... but not the Astros former and current? That means guilt folks!

But the pile on is big time now and I love it. Pressure! F these guys.  Manfred needs to do the right thing. Crush this Astros team... and make their future a future of scabs. They need to clean house over there and start over.