Scott Proctor blames alcohol, not overuse, for his downfall

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In camp with the Giants after spending last year in Korea, Scott Proctor told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman that his collapse was more about his struggles with alchoholism than arm problems caused by Joe Torre’s rough handling of him.

“I think some things that happened and some poor choices on how I lived my life led to it more than anything,” he said.

Part of that was not eating right or sleeping enough, the basics of being a good athlete, but that was not the killer. He said he had a “serious drinking problem,” a binge drinker who stopped when he ran out of booze or passed out.

Proctor is the last major league reliever to throw 100 innings, ending up at 102 1/3 in a league-high 83 appearances for Torre’s Yankees in 2006. Not as effective the next year, he was traded to the Dodgers over the summer. Still, he made 83 appearances for the second straight season in 2007, covering 86 1/3 innings.

Proctor and Torre reunited in Los Angeles for the 2008 season, but it didn’t last long. Proctor’s elbow started acting up, putting him on the DL in June, and while he tried to keep pitching, he was forced to have Tommy John surgery in May 2009. He returned to struggle in spot duty in 2010 and ’11 before going to Korea. In total, he has a 6.59 ERA in 86 major league appearances since the beginning of 2008.

Proctor did have a successful season in Korea last year, saving 35 games with a 1.79 ERA. He says he’s perfected the splitter he used to throw in majors on occasion, and he’s thrown two scoreless innings for the Giants so far this spring.

More importantly, he says he’s been sober for four years now. He’ll open to accepting a Triple-A assignment should he fail to make the Giants, so it seems likely that we’ll see him back in the majors again at some point.

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.

Who is the fastest sprinter in baseball?

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We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.

StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.

Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.

That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.