New Yankee Stadium already showing cracks

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It seems the Yankees’ new $1.5 billion city-subsidized stadium is beginning to show cracks,
just six months after its debut. The team has recently fallen under
scrutiny for cracks in the concrete pedestrian ramps — some as much as
an inch wide and several feet long — prompting the team to hire an
engineering company to determine whether the problems were caused by
the installation, the design, the concrete or other factors.

On the bright side, Alice McGillion, a team spokeswoman, called the cracks
“cosmetic,” saying that they pose no safety issues because they did
not affect the structural integrity of the ramps.

“There is no evidence that there is any issue or problem with concrete or any material in the building,” she said.

Interstate Industrial Corporation, the company that poured the
concrete, was banned from doing city work in 2004 because city
investigators
concluded it had ties to organized crime, an accusation its owners have
denied.

Interstate may sound familiar since they are currently front-and-center
in the trial of former Giuliani Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. According to the Village Voice, Kerik is accused of accepting $165,000 in renovations on his Riverdale apartment from the
DiTomasso brothers — the principals of Interstate — in return for
recommending them for city contracts they were barred from.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the company that evaluated the strength
of the concrete poured for the walkways, Testwell Laboratories, its
owners and several officers were indicted last year on state
racketeering charges. It’s unclear whether the team will have to tear
out any of the concrete in the ramps in question, however, according to
the New York Times, the problem could cost several million dollars to
fix.

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.