Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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Still lots of random shifting around given that the first batch of rankings were based on early season weirdness. I figure that from here on out we’ll see things start to stabilize a bit more. Well, except for maybe the Royals/Indians thing, because that can’t hold. Um, can it?  As usual, last week’s rankings in parenthesis.

1. Rockies (3): It’s not just the Tulo-Gonzalez show. The Rockies are getting contributions from lots of dudes.

2. Phillies (2): The four aces have them winning. They also have them winning quickly. In fact, Philly hasn’t played a three-hour game yet.

3. Rangers (1): The bats cooled down a bit last week, but I suppose they’d have to given how hot they started out.

4. Indians (6)-Royals (11):  A tie for the teams who are playing the biggest series in baseball in the early part of the week. How about them apples?

6. Yankees (8): The rotation may be a source of stress, but it’s nice that no one in the East is en fuego while they struggle through it.

7. Reds (5): It was a loss, but Jay Bruce had a big game yesterday following a dreadful start. If he gets hot, the Reds may be damn nigh unstoppable on offense. The rotation, however, is a cause for concern.

8. Angels (12): Hank Conger is getting more playing time and is tattooing the ball. And of course, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren continue to dominate. Not many people saw a hot start in Anaheim in the cards, but they’re lookin’ pretty good right now.

9. Marlins (17): The only team in the NL with a negative run differential but a winning record. Are they doing it with mirrors? Nah, a good bullpen, mostly, and some good luck in close games. For approximately the 12th time in their 18 years of existence, we find ourselves asking if the Marlins are the real deal.

10. Cardinals (25): A much better week from the offense has things looking up, but Ryan Franklin’s struggles present another nagging problem that Tony La Russa probably doesn’t want to talk about. Quick: someone ask him about it.

11. Giants (15): Barry Zito’s trip to the DL may not be a gigantic issue from a competitive standpoint — he’s Barry Zito after all — but there is something sad about his 356-game consecutive start streak ending. He has never missed a start due to injury in his 11-year career, and that’s pretty impressive given how fragile pitchers can be.

12. Brewers (14): Shifty bunch, these Brewers.

13. Blue Jays (9): Bunch of thieves, these Blue Jays.

14. White Sox (4): Ugly series against the Halos. Ozzie Guillen probably would have preferred a few blown games by the bullpen rather than just have their clock cleaned like they did.

15. Athletics (16): There could be some serious issues for Dallas Braden’s shoulder.

16. Cubs: With the injuries to the starters, Mike Quade continues to have to make choices like whether he’d prefer to pitch  Jeff Samardzija or James Russell. Which is sort of like deciding between a root canal and a colonoscopy.

17. Braves (18): The sweep of the Saturday double header against the Mets was nice, but this is still a team that is seriously out of synch.

18. Rays (30): A couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins against the Twins breathed some life into them.

19. Tigers (26): Two out of three from Texas and a split from Oakland isn’t anything to sneeze at, but the offense is MIA.

20. Orioles (7): I actually figured that the O’s would be the last of the three early-season surprises to come back to Earth, but they ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland.

21. Nationals (23): I’m still kind of reeling from seeing Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez nail down both ends of the doubleheader yesterday.

22. Pirates (21): Four teams in the NL Central have eight losses, including the Pirates.

23. Padres (19): Orlando Hudson has reached base in all 15 Padres games this year.

24. Dodgers (10): Attendance has been terrible compared to what they’re used to. Is this Bryan Stow-related? Bad baseball? McCourt fatigue?

25. Diamondbacks (20): Kelly Johnson, who was so good last year, is .158/.238/.263 to start the season.

26. Astros (28): Apropos of nothing, but in both the spring and in the early going, I don’t think there is a bad team who has had more chatter about it as if it weren’t a bad team than the Astros. Which leads to stuff like this in which people come to grips with the bad team being bad, even though it seemed fairly obvious that they’d be bad.

27. Mets (24): I think the Mets will be a lot better off if they could avoid any doubleheaders this week.

28. Twins (27): They traded a prospect catcher to bolster their bullpen and now their catcher is hurt and their bullpen sucks. It’s like “The Gift of the Magi.” But different.

29. Red Sox (13): Two wins in a row? Eh. After a second straight bad week, they’ve reached the point where they need to be ranked where their record has them. If they’re as good as we all think they are, they can win their way out of the bottom of the Power Rankings.

30. Mariners (29): I don’t care if they won every game they played this past week. They played a game the other night in which Adam Kennedy was the DH and batted cleanup. That deserves the 30-slot regardless of whatever else transpired.

Alabama man arrested for stealing a Braves golf cart from SunTrust Park

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Last Tuesday night, the Braves hosted the San Francisco Giants at SunTrust Park. They lost 6-3. An Alabama man named Marcus Stephens almost came away a winner, however. At least if stealing a $4,500 golf cart that belongs to the Braves makes you a winner, which in some circles I suppose it would.

Stephens lost, however, when he crashed the cart into a metal pole, attempted to flee on foot and was apprehended by Cobb County Sheriff’s deputies. This all went down at 1:40AM Wednesday morning. The report doesn’t mention anything about alcohol being involved but I’ve read enough stories like this to make educated guesses about such things.

That being said, Stephens seems relatively composed in his mugshot:

I mean, yeah, the eyes look a bit red and puffy and the overall vibe he gives off is “I came to the game as part of the Sigma Nu reunion (Auburn University class of ’06, GO TIGERS!),” but I expected much worse after reading the headline.

 

Anyway, dude is out on bail. Somewhere, someone is really super proud of him, I’m sure.

Report: The Yankee Stadium charity is a secretive, self-dealing boondoggle

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The New York Times has a blistering report on the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund. The Fund is the charity the Yankees created in 2006 as a means of making up for the negative impact the construction New Yankee Stadium had on the surrounding community, primarily via its taking over 25 acres of parkland.

The idea of the Fund was a good one: to distribute $40 million in cash grants and sports equipment, and 600,000 free baseball tickets to community organizations in the Bronx over four decades. And it has been distributing funds and tickets. As the Times reports, however, the manner in which it has done so raises some red flags. Such as:

  • Charitable donations have, in an amazing coincidence, often gone to other charities which share common board members with the New Yankee Stadium Fund;
  • Funds have gone to many wealthy groups in affluent parts of the Bronx far away from the Stadium while the area around the stadium remains one of the most impoverished in the nation. For example, a private school in a wealthy part of the borough and a rec center in a gated community have gotten a lot money that, one would think anyway, could be and should be devoted to organizations closer to the ballpark that are in greater need; and
  • There has been almost no transparency or oversight of the Fund. Reports which were supposed to have been submitted have not been. And no one, apart from the Times anyway, seems to care. The Yankees certainly don’t seem to. Indeed, as the article notes, the team has worked hard to keep the Fund’s operations out of its hands. They just got their new ballpark and write the checks and hand out the tickets. Everything else is someone else’s problem.

Cronyism in private philanthropy is not uncommon. As is a lack of oversight. Often it’s the best connected people who receive the benefit of such funds, not the people most in need. This is especially true in charities whose creation was not born of a philanthropic impulse as much as it was born of a need to put a good face on some not-so-good business dealings.

If the Times’ report is correct — and the lack of anyone coming forward to dispute it on the record despite the Times’ requests that they do suggests it is — it appears as if the New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund is one of those sorts of charities.