Lineups

Covering a World Series game is … different

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We covered the baseball action of last night’s game pretty thoroughly already, so now some of the less important stuff.

It was my first ever World Series game and I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. Not that it was better than any other baseball game of course — on the merits it wasn’t — but it was definitely a far more intense experience than other games I’ve attended and/or covered.

I’ve talked about the crowd already — amped from beginning until end — but the whole scene is like that, really. The media stuff affected me most directly. So many people cover the World Series. Almost as many as go to the Winter Meetings each year. Except at the Winter Meetings all of those reporters and broadcasters spread out around a gigantic hotel whereas here they are split into a couple of rooms and spaces that are a fraction of the size of the smallest Winter Meetings work space.

There’s a media workroom off a hallway running behind the luxury boxes. It’s not big, but it’s where the reporters who don’t get a spot in the regular press box (which is most of the reporters) set up to write and prepare and whatnot. By the middle of the afternoon there were no chairs left and people spread out onto the floor or stood up and typed at tables. As the game got going many of us moved to the auxiliary press box up in sections 335 and 336 out in left field where there are temporary desktops, WiFi and TV monitors, but many — maybe most — of the press stayed in the workroom.

And I can see why, actually. For one thing it’s warmer. For another, more important thing it may be easier to follow the game action via TV than it is from out there in East Jesus Upper Deck Land.  I perched up there because I wanted to hear the crowd and feel like I was watching a game more than I was covering it, but I bet my colleagues down in the workroom were more on top of what was happening as it happened than I was up in the clouds.  I had some advantages — you can tell more about defensive positioning and the like better from up top — but those are pretty minor things.

Another crowded place: the field during the couple of hours before game time. Camera crews, VIPs, ex-ballpalyers, P.R. people and just about anyone else you can think of, crammed on the track behind home plate and between the dugouts. I did a brief on-field segment for NBC Sports Talk last night — look for me again tonight between 6pm and 7pm Eastern — and it was a battle just to get over to the tiny bit of real estate where my camera crew was set up. I squeezed myself in there and did my little chitchat. A few minutes later my brother called me. He was watching it at home and said that as I was talking Willie Mays was behind me talking to someone else. I had no idea. It’s so crowded and crazy down there that you can miss WILLIE FREAKIN’ MAYS.

I know most of you don’t care about these media things, but the whole experience does have me thinking about game coverage and what it means in the age of 100 TV cameras and the super slo-mo replay. The ballpark is great, but as I walked back to my hotel last night I had this rather unsatisfying feeling that, despite the fact I was there, I missed a whole lot. That I really do see more things — and more things better — at home while watching on TV and following on the Internet than I do in person.

Maybe it’s so big a spectacle that it’s hard to get your bearings after just one game. Maybe it’s just a matter of someone like me having a different kind of focus than other people who are covering the thing. I’m not sure. But just like the Tigers, I’m glad I have more games this series to figure it all out.

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.