In which two guys travel the country watching baseball and we get all jealous…

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Steve Gebhardt and John Tramutolo, two editors from Manhattan-based COED Magazine, set out on a wild trip around the baseball world this summer.  They’re hitting all 30 major league cities in 30 days, watching a game at every stadium and talking to locals about pregame bars and good ballpark eats.  Oh, and they’re blogging about all of it.

The fellas passed through St. Louis on Thursday and I had the opportunity to express my jealousy with a quick round of questions. 

A little background first: Where are you guys based?  What teams do you root for?

John
and I are both from the NY/NJ area and we now work in Manhattan at COED
Magazine where I am the Editor-in-Chief. I grew up in Randolph, NJ and
my parents brought me home from the hospital in a mini NY Yankees
jacket so I guess you can say I’ve been a diehard fan for life.

Where have you guys been so far and where are you headed now?

We
started the trip on Friday, July 16th at Yankee Stadium and have seen
Fenway, Camden Yards, Wrigley, Target Field, Busch Stadium and Great
American Ballpark in that order . We have visited 7 parks so far and
will be hitting one stadium each day for the next 23 days.

Overall, what’s been the best stop?

Hands
down St. Louis. We were so well received by the Cardinals Nation! Our
Twitter followers were extremely active, the Cardinals organization was
very receptive, B.J. Rains (of FOX Sports Midwest) helped us out a ton by spreading the word to
his contacts and we even got a shout out on TV during the 4th inning.

How much planning went into this, or is a there a “let’s just wing it” aspect to the trip?

It
took a few strenuous days to get the scheduling right. We typically
have a ‘fly by the seat of our pants’ attitude so this is the first time
where we have every day for the next 3 weeks of our lives broken down
by the hour. With that said the “let’s just wing it” attitude certainly
comes into play when we are in the middle of a 9 hour drive between
cities. As you could imagine timing is extremely important on this trip
but luckily Nokia provided us with a couple Nuron smartphones so we’ve
been using Ovi Maps to help direct us from point to point.

Of the ballparks and cities you’ve yet to visit, which one (or ones) are you looking forward to most?

Steve:
Definitely San Francisco’s AT&T Park. I’ve heard great things and if I
can find a boater to take me into McCovy Cove during batting practice
my trip will be complete.

John: At the beginning of the trip I
was looking forward to Kauffman in Kansas City the least but after
talking to a few people at Mike Shannon’s about cool ballparks in the Midwest it is now turning out to be my most anticipated. Where else can
you play a game of wiffle ball in the stadium while watching an MLB
game?

You can follow their daily travels on COEDMagazine.com, Facebook and Twitter.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.