November 2010

Day 4 of “Operation Jeter Countdown”

Today was sort of interesting with regard to Operation Jeter Countdown. First, I read in the Post that Casey Close and his client were hanging out in Miami to ponder their response to the Yankees’ offer and that Jeter looked like he didn’t have a care in the world.
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Later, I read Tom Verducci’s piece on SI.com and thought it was the best summary yet of how the Yankees should be viewing these negotiations. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Even if you did see it, I still have to highlight the points that jumped out at me.
What do you do about a 36-year-old beloved franchise icon with fading defensive skills but enormous brand value? Why, of course, you give him a 15 percent raise to make sure the team benefits from his legacy. That’s exactly what the Baltimore Orioles did for Cal Ripken Jr. on Opening Day 1997, a sort of global view of the player that stands in stark contrast to how the Yankees are valuing Derek Jeter at the same age.


The key to his opening paragraph? CAL RIPKEN JR.
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Verducci continues to make the comparison.
When rewarded, Ripken still was a year away from free agency and entering the final year of a five-year contract for $32.5 million, once the richest total deal in baseball history that included post-career compensation ($2 million for four years) and special hotel, parking, security and merchandise arrangements.


Did you catch that? The Orioles gave Ripken post-career compensation. And that wasn’t all.

The Orioles adhered to the same perspective in 1997 — not even letting the face of their franchise get to free agency. They gave Ripken a raise from $6.5 million per year to $7.55 million per year in what was a two-year extension with an option. Not only was the option picked up at $6.3 million, the Orioles also brought him back at age 40 and with a bad back and coming off a .256 season again without a pay cut, giving him another $6.3 million.



The point is, Derek Jeter, like Cal Ripken, isn’t your average ballplayer (or even your average superstar ballplayer) and shouldn’t be measured by his stats alone.


Putting a number on iconic value — especially when introducing a pay cut — is at the heart of the Yankees’ negotiating troubles with Jeter. To compare Jeter in a one-year statistical vacuum to shortstops such as Marco Scutaro is foolish. Jeter is the most marketable player in baseball, has the sport’s highest Q rating, a measurement of not just popularity but also appeal to fans, has accumulated 16 years of tremendous goodwill for the Yankees and is their modern link in the chain of Yankee Hall of Fame everyday players who never wore another uniform, from Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle.




Does everyone remember the ad campaign for Blackglama furs? I know, mink coats aren’t politically correct anymore. But the campaign featured legendary women in their minks – from Judy Garland to Janet Jackson.


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Where am I going with this? If Derek Jeter were a woman, he’d be in one of those ads. He’s a legend, and legends don’t come along every day. Tonight’s Jeter video doesn’t have Jeter in it. Its star is Cal Ripken, since he inspired Verducci’s spot-on article.
Doesn’t Ripken remind you of Jeter? No flash. All substance. A legend, in other words.

Day 3 of “Operation Jeter Countdown”

Another day, another swipe at Jeter and his agent by the Yankees (or should I say by a so-called Yankees source). This time, the message was for Jeter and Casey Close to “drink the reality potion,” according to ESPN. Alrighty then. Are we on a school playground? Is this how grownup business people talk? Why so rude? It’s a negotiation, not a personal grudge match. I understand that the Yankees don’t want to pay Jeter more than they think he’s worth, but why the sniping? For tonight’s Countdown Video until we can declare “Mission Accomplished,” I picked an interview Jeter did with Jeremy Schaap in ’99. Most of it is Jeter’s usual “I always had a dream to play for the New York Yankees” stuff. It’s Schaap’s last question and Jeter’s prescient answer that are worth the price of admission.
He can’t see himself ever wearing anything other than Yankee pinstripes, but he gets that “this is a business. They could trade me tomorrow.”
Maybe he was the only one who could have predicted this current standoff, knowing the organization and the game as well as he does. We’ll see. In the meantime, how about Nolan Ryan “reaching out” to Pettitte? As if Andy would ever play for the Rangers. Good try, cowboy. 
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P.S. I actually forgot it was Mo’s birthday. Shame on me! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MO!
P.P.S. Very sad to hear about the passing of former Yankee Gil McDougald. RIP, Gil.

Day 2 of “Operation Jeter Countdown”

As promised, there will be a Jeter-related video for each post until the Captain and the Yankees have officially made a deal – no matter how long it takes. (I mean, seriously. Was I supposed to write a post about how Javy Vazquez is going to the Marlins? Didn’t think so.) Tonight’s Jeter video takes us back to simpler times. Way back. So far back that he and A-Rod were close friends for real. My reaction when I watched it was, “Awwwww. Look how young they both were.” Not that I want Cashman to dwell on Jeter’s age. Instead, I want him to see that his shortstop was proud to be a New York Yankee and wasn’t afraid to tweak his buddy about it. (Love A-Rod’s line about how Jeter is “hip hop.”)

My Jeter Countdown

I hope everybody has been enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve been enjoying mine. Well, except for the cold, hard reality that The Captain and The Yankees remain in negotiations hell. The fact that they haven’t made a deal and seem to be in a bona fide standoff is upsetting to me. It haunts my sleep. It creates low-level anxiety. It causes me to snap at my husband for no apparent reason.
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(Oddly, I’m not worried about Mo’s situation. The Yankees need him and will pay him, and that deal will happen.) Anyhow, I’ve decided that I’m going to post a different Jeter video every night on this blog until the announcement comes down that he’s safely back in the fold – no matter how long it takes. So here’s Video #1. I’d like Cashman and the Steinbrenners to watch it and then try to tell Casey Close with a straight face that his client is just another ballplayer.

My 2010 Thanksgiving Adventure At Rhonda’s

Oh, my. As I explained in yesterday’s post, I drive down to L.A. every year for Turkey Dinner at the home of my friend Rhonda, the Emmy-winning producer of “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
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Rhonda (Cubs fan) hosts about 15 people and the food is always to die for, but the experience can be fraught with peril for a Yankee fan. Among those present again this year were Mary Ann (Yankees/baseball hater), along with her son Antonio (Dodger fan). 
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Also in attendance were TV show host and interior designer Jennifer Farrell and her TV producer boyfriend Mike (Cubs fan).
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Two newcomers/innocents this year were Rhonda’s friends Alison and Gail, who read yesterday’s blog and thought it was hilarious but had no inkling of the truly bad blood to come.
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As in past years, Rhonda set a magnificent table for us.
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And the meal was better than ever – turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, Brussel sprouts, string bean casserole, salad (and that was AFTER the hors d’oeuvres that consisted of shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs and all sorts of delicious cheeses, plus copious amounts of wine and champagne). I don’t remember ever stuffing myself the way I did last night.
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It was during the dessert buffet that things turned ugly. As I mentioned yesterday, I brought a chocolate fudge cake instead of my usual apple pie/tart/crisp because Mary Ann decided to make an apple dessert herself and one-up me. My cake was a big hit, especially with the side of whipped cream. But….well, let me show you.
First, Mike, the Cubs fan, irked me when he brought up Jeter in a taunting, thoroughly irritating way.
He did go on to say that he thought the Yankees should offer Jeter another year and more money, given what he’s meant to the team, but the damage was done; he had raised the dreaded Jeter-as-Red-Sock issue. And so I dragged him over to the dessert buffet, lowered his head into the bowl of whipped cream next to my chocolate cake and made him pay. He’s a nice guy, but a girl’s gotta do…
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I was back at the table, minding my own business and enjoying my dessert, until Mary Ann and I had a testy exchange. She has a lovely smile, but don’t be fooled; she speaks pure poison.
Since she liked my chocolate cake so much, there was only one way to punish her for her Yankees bashing.
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She retaliated by shooting some whipped cream AND chocolate cake at me.
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Even Rhonda’s cat Tooey looked a little frightened.

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Just another Thanksgiving. Can’t wait till next year, although I may not have to. Rhonda invited us all back for Easter. Oh boy.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone

As I spend this Thanksgiving eve preparing for tomorrow’s drive down to L.A. for my friend Rhonda’s annual shindig, I thought I should give newcomers to this blog a taste of what went down in 2008. In a nutshell, Michael and I were the lone Yankee fans among a table full of naysayers and I got into it with…Well, take a walk with me down memory lane.
***

My Thanksgiving Saga/Yankees Brawl

My family lives back east, so my husband and I drive down to L.A. every Thanksgiving and celebrate at the home of our friend Rhonda Friedman. Rhonda not only takes in strays like us but prepares a fabulous meal and sets a very elegant, tasteful table – flowers, crystal, candles, the works.
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Rhonda is the supervising producer of the soap opera daytime drama, “The Bold and the Beautiful.” She is frequently seen walking the red carpet at Emmy Awards and such.
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Rhonda always presides over a really nice group of people, but occasionally, as on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” there is drama.
This year, along with her family members, we were joined by her friend Jennifer Farrell, who until recently hosted the TV show “Find & Design,” which was like “Extreme Home Makeover” without the “Extreme.”
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Jennifer’s boyfriend Mike was there too. He produces/directs a reality series called “My Big Redneck Wedding” on Country Music TV. I had never heard of it, so I made him say the name of it about six times. Apparently,
it is hosted by this man.
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Also in attendance was Rhonda’s friend Mary Ann, the ex-wife of actor John Saxon. Does anyone remember him from the movies or the zillion TV series he was on?
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So there I was, sipping champagne, eating turkey and minding my own business, when Jennifer’s mom, who was visiting from Florida, said very animatedly, “Jane’s got a book coming out about how she loves the Yankees! I went to my Books-a-Million in Gainesville to buy it, but they don’t have it in stock yet!”

I smiled, eternally grateful that I would have at least one sale, and said, “It doesn’t come out until February 3rd. Maybe you could go back to the store then.”

I resumed eating, this time diving into the stuffing.

“The Yankees are losers,” said somebody down at the other end of the table. It might have been Rob, Rhonda’s brother. Their family is from Chicago and they’re Cubs fans. Or it might have been Mike, Jennifer’s boyfriend, who also roots for the Cubs.

“They had a down year, yes,” I admitted, feeling my blood pressure spike.

“A down year?” said Antonio, the dashingly handsome son of Mary Ann and John Saxon. “They sucked.”

I laughed. Well, it was Thanksgiving. You’re supposed to laugh and be jolly and forgiving.

“Yeah,” Mary Ann chimed in. “What do you think went wrong with them, Jane? Besides the pitching and hitting and fielding.”
O.K. That was downright sarcastic! Never mind that she and her son are Dodgers fans. No excuse for picking on my team during a lovely holiday meal.

I set down my fork and eyed her. “We had a new manager,” I said. “And there were injuries. A lot of injuries.”

“Plus, they sucked,” said Antonio.

Everybody at the table laughed. LAUGHED. Including my husband, a Yankee fan, or so I thought. Would no one but me defend the Pinstriped Ones? 

“We’ll bounce back and be very competitive next season,” I said, my heart thumping now. I was trying to keep it civil. I w
as.

Antonio smirked. “How? You can’t even sign Sabathia.”

Uh-oh. I gripped my champagne glass tightly and said through clenched teeth, “Then we’ll sign one of the other free agents. Lowe, maybe.”

“Lowe?” he said mockingly. “You can have him. He’s garbage.”
“Face it, Jane. The Yankees aren’t what they used to be,” said Mary Ann.

That did it. How dare she? How dare any of them?

I should have attempted to calm myself, done some deep breathing, shoved more food in my mouth. Instead – I’m so embarrassed to tell you this – I threw my champagne at Mary Ann. In turn, she grabbed a handful of candied yams and threw them at me.
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In the blink of an eye, she and I were really going at it.
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Needless to say, Rhonda’s beautiful table was ruined. My apologies to her. I can only hope and pray she’ll overlook my boorishness and invite me back next year.

***

No, nobody got hurt. It was a “fun fight.” When we went to Rhonda’s last year, the Yankees had just won the World Series so you’d think everybody would have been a tiny bit more respectful. Instead, I got an earful about how the my team “bought” a championship, blah blah blah. Enough is enough. This year I’m going armed with the chocolate fudge cake I baked earlier today.
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It’s a recipe from my friend Diane Worthington’s cookbook, Seriously Simple, and it’s incredibly dense with a chocolate walnut glaze. If anyone at Rhonda’s says even one negative thing about the Yankees I’ll pull it off the buffet table, stick it in my car and take it back home with me – plus the whipped cream that goes with it!

Here’s hoping my Thanksgiving – and yours – is full of laughter and good food. (I’ll report on this year’s ad
venture on Friday.) Before I sign off, in the spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude, I’d like to give a shout out to Tom Kackley, the equipment/clubhouse manager for the Trenton Yankees. Tom emailed today to tell me about a fantastic auction he runs every year on eBay to raise money for the domestic violence shelter in his hometown of Canton, Ohio. Tom’s wife’s sister was murdered by her husband in ’97 and he felt powerless to help – until he came up with the idea for the auction. This year, it’s going on  until December 1st and there’s all sorts of Yankees memorabilia for sale. Check it out:


For more on the shelter he helps support, here’s the link for it. http://www.domesticviolenceproj.org/

 Enjoy!



She-Fan Exclusive: Cashman and Jeter Sit Down in Tampa

BREAKING NEWS: It looks like after a day of media reports that the two sides were far apart in their contract negotiations, Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter have met and decided to make a deal. I’m very relieved, to say the least. 

Will There Be Any Yankees Bargains on Black Friday?

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I know it’s only Monday night, but I’m thinking ahead to all the shopping people will be doing and wondering if the Yankees will be among the busy customers. With news that Mo’s camp has finally emerged to state their intentions, maybe he and the Yanks will make a deal. And maybe the Jeter thing will be resolved. And maybe Cliff Lee will have eaten so much turkey that he’ll be in a triptophan fog and will sign with us without realizing it.
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Aside from those three, here’s what I’d like to pick up on Black Friday: a treadmill. I’ve been thinking about getting one for a long time and maybe Friday’s the day to score a sale. Someone on Twitter told me that ProForm is the brand to look for, but if anyone else knows about the machines please shout. I don’t have much room, so I need one that folds up.
Tonight I was the guest on a local TV show called “Literary Gumbo.”
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It’s a half-hour of chat about writing and publishing, and the host is Fred Klein, who spent many years at Bantam Books as head of marketing. The producer played the intro music and Fred did his welcome thing to the camera, and then the two of us started talking….and talking. He was supposed to be watching this digital timer next to his chair so he’d know when to wrap up, but somebody forgot to set it before the taping started and we kept going. I can’t wait to see the interview because it’s got to have the most abrupt ending in the history of television. Some authors aren’t fond of having to answer questions on camera, but I’m the opposite. When you’ve been sitting home alone in front of the computer all day writing, it feels like recess to go out and talk about your work to someone who’s actually interested. What a concept! Besides, Fred spent the last 10 minutes asking me about “Confessions of a She-Fan.” What could be more fun?

“Tangled” (The Movie, Not The Jeter Situation)

Today I went to a screening of Disney’s new animated film based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. What an adorable movie. Not only has the story of the girl with the long hair been updated and re-imagined, but the quality of the animation is just mind boggling. The characters and their expressions are so life like and there’s plenty of action, plus the whole thing has a lot of heart. I teared up at one point and Michael said, “It’s a cartoon! Snap out of it!”
Afterwards, the two directors came for a Q&A and explained the process of making the film. It was fascinating to hear how they collaborated with 500 animators, as well as took suggestions from some of the employees at Disney. For example, to find the right look for the hero, they asked a bunch of women to bring photos of their favorite hunky actors and they ended up using a composite of features. They also asked women about their relationships with their mothers so they could get the dialogue between Rapunzel and her wicked mother just right. But I really perked up when one of them was describing what it’s like to do a movie at Disney. He said, “Disney is like the Yankees.”
Huh? I sat up straighter in my chair.
“Mostly, the Yankees are really successful,” he went on. “They have their down years, but they always come back strong.”
Even in Hollywood, the pinstripes are a force to be reckoned with. I left the theater smiling.
I’ll be smiling even more when the MVP in the AL is announced on Tuesday and the winner is Cano. Other things that will make me happy?
* A deal with Jeter.
* A deal with Mo.
* A deal with Cliff Lee.

Movie Break – “Blue Valentine” – Plus Other Stuff

There’s been a lot of buzz around “Blue Valentine” – as much for the performances of Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as for the film’s NC-17 rating. (I didn’t think the sex was all that graphic, personally, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets downgraded to an “R” by the time it’s released in theaters in late December.) It was a hit with audiences at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, but I was disappointed and didn’t even stay for the Q&A with the director after our screening. It’s about a married couple and how their relationship goes downhill. And that’s about it. Nothing happens and neither of the characters is someone you’d want to spend five minutes with. Yawn. So don’t be fooled by the trailer, which shows the couple in mostly happy times and makes them seem sort of charming.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s screening of “Tangled” a lot more. I’m not that big on animated films but the last few I’ve seen have been really entertaining. Hope this one is too.
Switching over to baseball news, Jim Leyritz was acquitted of vehicular manslaughter. Apparently, he was very emotional when the verdict was read.
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He could still face jail time for the DUI conviction. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I hope he does. I’m sick of reading about people who drink, hop into the car and kill people. What’s so hard about calling a cab or asking a sober friend to drive? And don’t even get me started on using a cell phone while driving, either to talk or to text. It’s against the law here in California and yet every single day I see drivers on their phones, totally oblivious to stop signs, red lights, you name it. Maybe I should just become a cop and go around arresting offenders.
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And finally, today is November 20th. If you had told me that Jeter, never mind Mo, hadn’t been signed by now, I would have laughed. But there hasn’t even been an offer made to either player. With Thanksgiving next week, will anything get done then? Unlikely. I, on the other hand, intend to get a lot done. I’m going to my friend Rhonda’s again for Thanksgiving dinner (the scene of all those notorious fights with Yankee haters) and have to bring dessert. So I’ll be making a chocolate fudge cake with a chocolate ganache glaze.
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I’ll take a picture of it if it comes out looking halfway decent.
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