The Mariners asked Lou Piniella to come back and manage. He said no.

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I can’t imagine why the Mariners would want Lou Piniella to come back and manage. I mean, sure, nice associations with the past and a great personality and all of that, but when you’re trying to build with young players and your competitive horizon is still measured in terms of multiple years, I don’t feel like hiring a 70 year-old manager who has been out of the game for a few years makes a ton of sense.

But the Mariners do a lot of things I don’t quite understand, and this was just the latest. From Rosenthal:

The Seattle Mariners recently contacted Piniella about the possibility, asking him to come out of retirement to manage their team again. One source with knowledge of the discussions described the Mariners’ pursuit of Piniella as “a full-court press.”

Piniella, however, declined the Mariners’ overtures.

Can’t blame him. He’s got a nice part-time job with YES Network, can fish or do crossword puzzles or scrimshaw or build ships in bottles or whatever the heck else he wants to do with very little pressure but while still having at least some contact with the game. The guy spent 23 years blowing his top as a manager. He’s entitled to a little relaxation now and sounds like he wants it.

But back to Seattle: if the idea is to just bring back a face the fans would like to see, I have to question their plan overall because “manager-as-p.r.-initiative” is a pretty dumb idea.  If the idea, however, is to hire an experienced manager with a notable media profile and some color and fire, why not go with someone who is less obviously retired? I’ve joked about it before, but heck, go get Ozzie Guillen. He’d fill most of the Lou Piniella qualifications. And it’d be a lot of fun too.

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.