Alright, So Who Isn’t A-Rod Dating?

I’m really starting to wonder a few things here. For one, how the heck is A-Rod going to play this season with all the freaking off-field distractions he has. Two, how is A-Rod liking New York now that he has the paparazzi all over him. And lastly, since breaking up with his wife and moving onto Madonna, who hasn’t A-Rod been rumored to date? The man bangs a bunch of call girls you’ve never heard of and he’s also being spotted next to every celebrity. First Madonna, then Donna Karan on New Years, and now … Kate Hudson:

NOW that Madonna isn’t as interested in him anymore, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez is playing the famous-faces field. He got hit on in Parrot Cay over New Year’s by Donna Karan, and last week he took Kate Hudson (above) out on a date. Our spy says they had a three-hour meal at the Lure Fishbar with friends and were very cozy. Later, A-Rod went with Hudson to the Rose Bar, where they met up with her friend Ron Burkle. Hudson, currently starring in “Bride Wars,” has been single since Lance Armstrong dumped her. Said her rep: “Kate was at Lure with a group of 10 people.”

That he and Madonna are no longer an item is news to me. And Kate Hudson? I’ve said it a thousand times before, Rodriguez can do so much better. All I know is that if I were in a fantasy league this season, I wouldn’t have A-Rod on my draft list. How do you expect a guy to hit when he’s got all kinds of people following his every move, privately or publicly? And didn’t he get a new P.R. team? Aren’t they supposed to be helping matters and keeping him out of the papers?

Greatest Rickey Henderson Stories of All-Time

I wasn’t a huge Rickey Henderson fan growing up, probably because his greatness preceded my time and because I was too young to appreciate how colorful he was. Now that I’m older, I can truly love everything about Henderson. As a player, the guy wrote parts of the record books and is no question a Hall of Famer. Really, anyone who didn’t vote Henderson in needs his head examined. The best quote is by Bill James who says Henderson still is a lock Hall of Famer even without all the stolen bases. That’s true, meaning Henderson is a no doubter when you do add in the stolen bases. Now putting the on-field accomplishments aside, Henderson might very well be the best character in the history of the game. He might even put “Manny being Manny” to shame. Rickey was like the inventor of the athlete speaking in 3rd person trend. He was notorious for not knowing his teammates names and sometimes referred to them by position or what they did such as “Hey, knuckleballer.” And the stories about Henderson are legendary.

About a year and a half ago I presented some of the best Rickey Henderson stories ever. On the occasion of his induction into Cooperstown, I feel there is no better time than to bring these stories back. 100% Injury Rate (now with FanIQ) has a list of the greatest Rickey stories of all-time. Here are some of my favorites:

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Jimmy Rollins, Friend of the Radio Show Contest Winners

Maybe I’m more skeptical than the average person, but when someone comes knocking on my door I’m always expecting the worst. Apparently that’s not the case with Jimmy Rollins, or the kids who came a-knockin on his door was extremely persuasive. Some high schoolers were trying to win tickets to the Eagles/Giants game by getting a celebrity to call into a radio show to win a contest. Naturally they headed straight to J-Roll’s pad:

John Buto, 17, a senior at Kingsway Regional High, in Woolwich, Gloucester County, knocked on Rollins’ door after school Tuesday along with a few friends and politely explained the contest to Rollins. To Buto’s surprise, J-Roll invited the gang into his home and called Wired host Kannon’s show.

Buto says Rollins couldn’t have been nicer and spent about 15 minutes with the group as the call-in line was busy. Buto says he’s not worried about another listener getting a bigger VIP because “I don’t know who’s bigger than the shortstop of the World Series champion Phillies.” If he does win, Buto plans to take his buddy Steve Borkowski, with whom he hatched the plan to ask Rollins.

Unless he bought the star maps from some kid sitting in a lawn chair on Sunset Blvd., how did Buto know where J-Roll lived? And how cool is it that Rollins helped them out? Good thing it was January when Rollins likely didn’t have much to do (clearly), otherwise he would have been in season. That’s pretty sweet of Rollins to help the kids out.

Via Ben Maller

Sign of the Recession: Pat Burrell Only Gets $16 Million as Free Agent

In the off-season baseball free agent pool I had going — the one where I bragged about correctly predicting the Yankees would sign Teixeira and Sabathia — I also had Pat Burrell signing a four-year $60 million deal with the Rangers. That was the low end for contracts we predicted for Burrell, too. The guy may leave a lot to be desired with his defense, strikeout totals, and inconsistent batting average, but it was fair to figure that a 30 home run hitter and near 100 RBI and walk guy would get upwards of three years and 40 million for his services. Why else would he reportedly turn down a measly two year $22 million offer from the Phillies? I, like many others, felt that was a low ball deal by the Phils and that Burrell would comfortably receive more on the market. Apparently not.

For all we know, there could have been other solid offers on the table for Pat, but there likely couldn’t have been anything too significant money-wise otherwise he probably would have taken it. Think about it: Burrell just won the World Series — signing to win a ring probably wasn’t a top priority. Maybe the allure of playing in Florida (he played ball at Miami in college) and for a contender caused him to overlook the few millions he may have been leaving on the table. Still, I can’t believe that he signed for so little money. I guess I’ll brace myself for the impending two-year $20 million contract Adam Dunn signs. Here I was thinking sluggers were a premium and Pat Burrell goes out and signs for just 16 mil. To show you a sign of the times, Andruw Jones got more than that after a .220 season. As for my prediction about Pat signing with the Rangers, it appears as if I wasn’t too far off. And I’m glad the Rays got Burrell; now they’ll have a decent power bat to help them compete in the AL East.

Maybe That’s Why Mark Teixeira Didn’t Sign with the Red Sox

Mark Teixeira took a long time deciding where he would sign as his agent, Scott Boras, floated rumors regarding which teams were involved in the bidding for the high-priced free agent. The Angels were a player, as were the Nats and Orioles because of the hometown factor. The Red Sox were said to be closing in on a deal for Tex but then they said they were no longer a factor in the bidding. Not much later the Angels took their offer off the table and Teixeira unexpectedly signed with the Yankees. So what happened behind the scenes that made the Red Sox and Angels drop out of the running after appearing to be leading candidates? Murray Chass via SbB says it’s because Teixeira simply did not want to live in Boston:

“He just didn’t want to go to Boston,” the official said. “He didn’t want to be a Red Sox so Boras called the Yankees and said he really wants to be a Yankee.”

“The family issues and where they reside were obviously part of the decision. Tex and his wife had their discussions. I don’t know what that dialogue was.”

That last quote about the family issues were from Boras who said the deciding factor was the difference in the offers on the table, not geography. That quote seems to indicate otherwise. Knowing that Teixeira was an East Coast guy I figured the Angels were low on the radar though a team to be considered. It’s hard to know if that’s the reason Teixeira signed with the Yankees, but it seems like where his family wanted to live could be a factor. So could the $180+ million they offered him. In this scenario Teixeira got to go to a good team and get top dollar rather than a crappy team with good money (like the Nationals were offering). As long as the Yankees were willing to pay more than the Angels and Red Sox, why not take their money?

If You’re the Yankees and You Can Do it, Why Wouldn’t You?

Before free agency began, in a pool with some friends, I had predicted the Yankees would sign CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The reasoning? If they can do it, why not? While shedding payroll this offseason, the Yankees sure have stepped up and added on some serious contracts. Should they sign one or two more players before the season starts, the Yankees would be close to committing a half billion dollars to players in one off season. It’s crazy when you think about that type of money. Then again, it’s no surprise that the Yankees have thrown this much money around.

I joked a few months ago that Hank Steinbrenner wanted to file a grievance against the Brewers for abusing the arm of their guy (Sabathia had about four straight starts on three days of rest, throwing complete games mostly). I wasn’t far off from the truth. With the way the team performed — missing out on the playoffs to the Rays and Red Sox — you knew they would spend wildly to make up for the embarrassment. They have not disappointed. Really, if they had just pulled the trigger on the Johan Santana trade last off-season and none of this would be happening. But they didn’t, and this is the result. I really only think the Burnett contract was bad because I don’t think he’ll produce in the Bronx. Sabathia they may only wind up paying for three years if he opts out and you can’t knock a team for locking up the top pitcher on the market. And if you have the cash for Teixeira, why not buy him? It’s a leg up on the Red Sox and Angels, and he’s a good ballplayer. I’d say signing Derek Lowe would cap off the incredible offseason for the Yanks.

Imagine how much fun it is to be Joe Girardi and to have all these new toys to play with for Christmas? The signings don’t make the Yankees unbeatable but it makes them much tougher. Injuries can still easily do a number on them like last year and keep them out of the playoffs, but don’t bet on it. Why not just sign another starting pitcher as an insurance policy? If you’re the Yankees and you can do it, then why not?

A Tribute to the Deceased Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis died on Friday but the news was overshadowed over the weekend by the busy sports schedule. I didn’t know who Ellis was until I was playing in a fantasy baseball league with a team named after him. After that, it was pretty easy to find out what made him famous. The guy threw a no-hitter while high on LSD, aka acid for the youthful souls. The Wiz of Odds passes along a few great videos of Ellis, the first tells the story behind is no-hitter on acid. It’s better if you just watch than if I describe the story. Believe me, once you hear it, you’ll really be shaking your head.

My teammates knew I was high, but they didn’t know what I was high on! And here’s video of the legendary blast he gave up to Reggie Jackson in the 1971 All-Star Game at Detroit, also passed along by The Wiz.

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