Mandel’s Musings

Did I Hear Jim Kaat Correctly? Did He Reference “40 Acres” During Today’s Astros-White Sox Game?

By SCOTT MANDEL

So, I’m watching the White Sox vs. Astros American League Division Series game this afternoon. It was Game 2 of the best-of-five series. I was even complimenting (in my own head) how great this MLB Network broadcast team was handling the play-by-play and the color commentary.

In the booth today were three great professionals who not only know what they’re doing, they have unparalelled passions for the game of baseball.

The play-by-play man was the veteran Bob Costas, among the most knowledgeable and erudite of broadcasters in the country. Alongside Costas was Buck Showalter, long-time major league manager and Jim Kaat, former star pitcher in the big leagues and a veteran behind the mic since his retirement 38 years ago at age 44 from a near-Hall of Fame career during which he won 283 games.

In the very first inning, White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada, a Cuban native, was up to bat when Showalter recalled knowing Moncada had the potential to be a superstar when he first scouted him, as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Moncada eventually signed with the Red Sox and was later traded to Chicago. Showalter said, “After the first time I saw him in the big leagues against us, I looked around the Oriole dugout, like, ‘Do we have one of those?'” said Showalter.

Kaat replied: “Get a 40-acre field full of them,” a remark that reminded some viewers of the unfilled promise by the U.S. government that the newly freed slaves would receive parcels of land as recompense for serving as slaves, an offer that was later rescinded by the acknowledged racist president in the post-Civil War era, Andrew Johnson.

At that moment, I took a deep gulp, convinced I had certainly mis-heard Kaat’s comment.

“Kitty,” who has been one of the most respected and well-liked members of the baseball community for 60 years, could not possibly have said what I thought he said in comparing the muscular physique of Moncada to the slaves of the 1860s in America.

As it turned out, Kaat had said what I thought I heard. In the fifth inning, he read an apology, on air, saying, “I want to add a little break here. In fact, I need to read this right now, because earlier in the game when Yoán Moncada was at the plate in an attempt to compliment the great player, I used a poor choice of words that resulted in a sensitive, hurtful remark. And I’m sorry.”

Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada fields a ground ball by Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve during the third inning in Game 2 of an American League Division Series game Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Houston.  
Moncada, the White Sox third baseman from Cuba, evoked weird comment from Jim Kaat

And that was the end of that.

But, in this era of cancel culture, I have a suspicion Jim Kaat will be paying a deeper price for his mistake. Will the MLB Network fire him in the next day or two or chalk it up to human error, a simple mistake from a professional who has never been known to make racist references.

My guess is, it’s bye bye, Jim “Kitty” Kaat. He will be sent out, cancelled into retirement. And that would be sad. Even if we are living in an era of cancel culture. Sometimes, even decent people make big and small mistakes.

Mandel’s Musings: Giants Start Out Fifth Straight Season 0-2 After Loss to WFT

By SCOTT MANDEL

The New York Giants stink. Again.

You know that old cliche and ongoing excuse losing teams always invoke – We lost a game tonight we should have won? The Giants have been using that old saw for almost a decade, now, and 2021 looks like more of the same. Other excuses/detachments from reality are also expressed as:

  1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. I saw some good things out there.
  3. We have a lot to build on.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…..

The Giants don’t have a pass rush. They don’t have an aggressive defensive secondary, they lost their best offensive lineman and captain for the season with a gruesome broken leg from a unit considered by many as the worst in the National Football League.

When does basketball season start?

New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton drops would-be 43-yard  touchdown from quarterback Daniel Jones
Darius Slayton drops TD pass in the end zone against WFT tonight

The Redskins, eh, I mean, the WTF’s or is, WFT’s, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The backup quarterback for the “Team,” Taylor Heineke, shredded the Giants for 325 yards passing, with the gift of all the time he had in the pocket to play pitch and catch with his receivers.

The final score was 30-29 on a field goal with zero seconds on the clock but who cares. The football season is over for the Giants and Giants fans. The pressure cooker in New York is going to be turned up on Giants head coach, Joe Judge, whose teams have shown more than a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot with the kinds of mistakes professsionals are not supposed to be making. Dropped touchdown passes in the end zone, offsides penalties with seconds to go and the Giants up by two points moving the Team five yards closer to field goal range.

It’s terrible to have any hopes or dreams if you are a Giants fan. Pretty soon, John Mara will call Giants general manager, Dave Gettleman to send him into his retirement. Gettleman has had three seasons to improve the offensive line and, the team’s record. He hasn’t been successful at either objective.

Dodgers’ Payroll Now Exceeds $300 Million as Baseball Competition Moves From the Field To the Bankers

by Scott Mandel

According to national baseball columnist, Bob Nightengale, the Dodgers payroll is now above $300 million since adding Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals to their mix of players.

The Nationals, who handed those two star players to the Dodgers for four unproven prospects, now has a payroll of $128.16 million, less than half the Dodgers.


In baseball, there is a luxury tax which kicks in at $210 million for team payrolls. It was installed a quarter century ago to achieve a semblance of competitive balance between large market teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Neuvo York Jankees vs. the small-market teams like the Kansas City Royals and the Fred Wilpon-owned New York Mets which could never compete, financially with the big guys. (The Mets have since become a big market team with new ownership).


The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the sport, by far, at $275 million, or, $65 million over the salary threshold. This means the Dodgers will be paying a luxury tax in the range of 40% of that $65 million or, an additional $26 million, pushing the Dodgers overall payroll expense north of $300 million.


The Kansas City Royals’ payroll is $127 million. The Miami Marlins payroll is $58 million, a fifth of the Dodgers. Even the Yankees, who somehow convinced the Cubs and the Rangers to pay the remaining 2021 salaries of the recently acquired Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo (not the dead gangster) have not exceeded the $210 million salary threshold, as they regularly used to do when George Steinbrenner owned the team.

Enough said about parity in major league baseball under its current commissioner, Rob Manfred. It’s more like a parody.

Guggenheim Baseball Management Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty  Images
Not one of these current Dodger owners ever played baseball or ran a baseball team


It seems the Dodgers, a baseball brand name with an unusually spotty ownership history, are more interested in purchasing a World Series championship than competing for it on the field. The franchise was owned by the Ebbets Family during the early Brooklyn years and sold to the O’Malley family in 1945, which ran a steady and stable ship for 53 years. Walter O’Malley moved the team to Los Angeles in 1958, holding onto ownership until 1998, when his son, Peter, who inherited the team upon his father’s death, sold the Dodgers to Rupert Murdoch, a criminal in so many ways, and his Fox Entertainment Group. Fox Sports, using the Dodgers games as tv programming for their stations, held onto the team for only 5 years before they sold it to another crook, Frank McCourt, who was forced by the Lords of Baseball to divest himself of the Dodgers in 2012 because of nefarious business acts, like embezzlement of the team’s earnings for personal gain. Now, something called Guggenheim Baseball Management (not a lot of flare in that name, is there?) which bought the team out of bankruptcy court owns the famous franchise, which has been run like a circus since the mid-90s. Guggenheim consists of such esteemed baseball people as Billie Jean King, Magic Johnson, Peter Guber (the movie producer), Stan Kasten (former NBA executive with the Atlanta Hawks), and some money guys. Tommy LaSorda must be spinning in his grave.

They may not know anything about baseball but apparently, they know how to buy players for a stretch run.

But, that’s okay, These geniuses at Guggenheim are paying an alleged serial rapist, Trevor Bauer, a star pitcher they acquired in free agency before this season, a whopping $32 million not to pitch because sometimes, bad people and bad organizations get what they deserve.

Mandel’s Musings: Former Mets Ace Matt Harvey On a Resurgence with Orioles

By Scott Mandel

Matt Harvey is enjoying a bit of a renaissance so far in the second half of the season.

The Orioles’ veteran right-hander has not allowed a run in two starts (12 innings) since the All-Star break. Harvey also managed consecutive scoreless starts for the first time since August 2015.

“Obviously, everybody knows when it is and it’s there, but really, my job is to go out and prepare for each start and see what happens,” Harvey said. “I haven’t put up very good numbers other than the previous two and to really be a target or whatnot, but at the end of the day those decisions aren’t mine and I can’t really worry about them.

“My job is to go out and win ball games for the Orioles, and luckily I’ve been able to do that the last two, and I’m going to continue to do that from here on out.”

On July 18, Harvey (4-10) threw six scoreless innings of three-hit ball with two strikeouts and one walk, throwing 48 strikes with 26 balls in a 5-0 win against the Kansas City Royals. He earned his first win since May 1 at Oakland, snapping a 12-start winless skid during which he went 0-9 with a 10.20 ERA (51 earned runs in 45 innings).

Harvey earned a bear-hug from Orioles manager Brandon Hyde after he left the game. Hyde knows Harvey has the mechanics to have dominant outings, but he is still experiencing some challenges from being limited as a pitcher during the last couple of seasons.

“There was a hug in the dugout just because he wants to go deep in the game and he wants to get back to the form that he was in 2012-2015, and he works extremely hard at it,” Hyde said. “He’s disappointed with not going deeper in games and the fourth and fifth inning issues he’s kind of had. I think a lot of that is physical, too. The year layoff, the weird year he had the year before, injury stuff. But for him to get an extended period of rest and go out and really keep his pitch count down, for me that’s the huge thing with our starters.

Harvey’s next start was equally impressive.

Harvey threw six scoreless innings in a 5-3 victory against the Washington Nationals July 24. He allowed just one hit with four strikeouts and no walks.

Harvey’s ERA has fallen from 7.70 on July 24 to 6.65 as of July 27.

He is becoming increasingly more comfortable on the mound.

“I think the last time I had this many starts was 2018 in a continuous year, so it was definitely good to physically have the break,” Havey said. “And then obviously when you feel like it’s so close and you go out and one inning here and there gets the best of you, it gets a little mentally draining, as well.

“So, I think definitely being able to just kind of flip the switch and just really pretend I’m starting fresh and trying to concentrate on being out there every fifth, sixth, seventh day, whatever it is with all these off-days, and just trying to win as many games as I can for this team and really just kind of start over and flush what happened in the first half.”

2015 World Series: Game 5 - Mangin Photography Archive
Harvey in the 2015 World Series for the Mets

Harvey signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Orioles prior to the season. There was speculation that the Orioles would try to flip him at the trade deadline if he thrived in his new environment.

The idea seemed far-fetched just two weeks ago, but now Harvey could have some value.

After this up and down season, he’s prepared for anything.

“My job is to go out and prepare for each start and see what happens,” Harvey said. “I haven’t put up very good numbers, except for the previous two starts, to really be a target. But at the end of the day, those decisions aren’t mine, so I can’t worry about them.”

Mandel’s Musings: Yankees Lose Six Players to Covid Protocol – Not All Were Vaccinated

by Scott Mandel

Of the six New York Yankees players who have just been diagnosed with Covid, evidently, not all of them were vaccinated. We cannot find out who they are because of privacy laws concerning personal health disclosure but, suffice to say, the rules of the road in 2021 regarding concern for the health of one’s co-workers’ health, if not for their own, have changed. Viruses do that sort of thing, especially the deadly kind.

On Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that the Yankees had three positive cases and three that were pending. All six were later confirmed to be positive. The six players — Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, Wandy Peralta, Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka, and Gio Urshela — were placed on the COVID-19 list.

These athletes live together every day, on the field and in the sweaty, steamy locker rooms. They travel together and they go out for food and a few pops together after games. It says here, the audacity of not doing whatever they can to protect their teammates is grounds for some form of dismissal from the organization. It may be permanent or temporary but it should be designed to help the team retain its ability to field its players for the games that fans are paying exorbitant amounts of hard-earned cash to attend. And, to watch the best players play, not minor leaguers.

Those players who have chosen to not be vaccinated, for whatever personal and legitimate reasons they may have, should no longer be allowed in the locker room or on the field. They should continue to get paid for some period of time, but not for the length of their entire contracts. The courts can handle that one. But, giving these potential carriers and spreaders of a deadly virus means they cannot be allowed anywhere near their place of work until they decide to get vaccinated. I would think this topic is creating enough acrimony within teams, especially among those who are supporting families consisting of elderly and young people, for it to be a regular debate.

It is time for management and player’s association leaders to get together on a policy. In all professional sports. And, that goes for amateur athletics, as well.

Freedom is a right but it comes with rules, too. You cannot drive a car without being licensed. You cannot travel overseas without a passport. You should not be able to enter public spaces without a mask or, proof of vaccination, Otherwise, you are a public safety risk.

Rules matter. So does basic consideration and concern for fellow human beings in times of collective danger.

Yankees’ Gary Sanchez Swinging the Bat like the Sanchez of Old

By Scott Mandel

Whatever one thinks of Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez’ career ups and downs, his statistical averages, taken over a 162-game season, are comparable to the numbers put up by the greatest catchers in baseball history.

Sanchez’s career productivity has had as many ups and downs as the Yankee Stadium VIP elevator, except with that elevator, you know what floor you’re going to by pushing the buttons. With Sanchez, over his seven year career, no one in American League history has reached 100 home runs for a career as fast as Sanchez did, reaching that spectacular achievement in his 355th career game. He has hit over 30 home runs twice, made two All-Star teams before his 26th birthday, and is considered to have the best throwing arm among catchers in the sport.

More so, let’s look at how Sanchez compares to the game’s greatest offensive catchers over the past 75 years or so. Johnny Bench, considered the benchmark at the position over the past 50 years and a Hall of Famer, averaged 29 home runs, 103 runs batted in, and had an OPS of .817 over a 162-game schedule, a full season ofmajor league baseball. Yogi Berra, another great Hall of Fame receiver from the 1940s through 1965, averaged 27 homeres. and 109 rbi’s over 162 games, with an OPS of .830. These two players were the cream of the crop, at the catching position. How does Gary Sanchez compare? Over 162 games, Sanchez is averaging 43 home runs, 106 runs batted in, and has an OPS of .822. His production with a bat in his hand not only is equal to the greatest offensive catchers in the game’s history, it is exceeding those who came before him.

But, Sanchez has not had a perfect career, as his seasons hitting under .200 have also been marked by more strikeouts than hits in a given season as well as inconsistent defensive deficiencies behind the plate, struggling to block pitches in the dirt, frame strikes for his pitching staff, and lacking the “soft hands” found in the skill-set of top of the line defensive catchers, who tend to save more runs which leads to more wins.

His struggles have been so obvious that Yankee manager, Aaron Boone, inserted career backup, Kyle Higashioka, into the starting lineup during the playoffs last year, essentially taking Sanchez’s job during the most important time of the year, the post-season.

It has also led Yankee brass to wonder privately if it is time to move on from Gary Sanchez, especially the “bad” version of the player. The problem is, when Sanchez goes on one of his offensive tears, it can last a month or two and, he can literally carry this team on his shoulders with his offensive firepower.

Then, there are the times when his sheer talent teases Yankees brass and fans, alike, with majestic 450-foot home runs, solid defense and great throws down to second base catching runners trying to steal the base. The contrast between the two Sanchez’s is stark but, when he is performing at his optimal levels, he produces in a manner most long-time observers have not seen from baseball catchers over the last century or so.

After starting out this season, over the first month batting well below .200, the Yankees catcher has morphed into the younger Sanchez, who terrorized American League pitchers with his perfect home run swing and his ability to
“barrel-up” pitches with solid contact. Over the past 25 games, dating back to the end of May, Sanchez is slashing .294/.345/.667 for an OPS of a whopping 1.012. And his .333/.391/.905 slash line in the last week has been crucial to the Yankees’ 5-1 record against the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. Especially considering that both Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres are slumping.

There is constant chatter on sports talk radio and in the print media about the 28-year old Sanchez never reaching his full potential. Many have suggested, at this moment of his latest hitting streak, now is the time to trade him when his value is rising high, once again. That is a debate Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been having with himself and with his staff for three years, since Sanchez began to falter badly, both offensively and defensively.

But, make no mistake, among major league catchers, past or present, very few have come close to the sort of offensive output Gary Sanchez has shown, over a full season.

All players tend to be a little streaky but the Yankees would love to see Gary even out or shorten some of those down periods during a typical season. The inside word has been about trying to get him to focus a little more, pitch by pitch (on both sides of the ball) than he has in the past.

And he’s only 28 years old. So, the debate rages on whether to stick with him or cut bait. It says here, Sanchez will hit 40 homers for another team if he’s traded. Why not let him do it in the Bronx.

Mandel’s Musings: Kevin Durant Can Enter Elite Territory If He Leads Nets to Series Win Over Bucks

by Scott Mandel

The mountain of elites.

It’s exclusive real estate in the NBA. You cannot just buy land on it, you have to earn it.

Tomorrow night, when the Brooklyn Nets take the floor in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, this will either turn Kevin Durant into a landowner in the rarified air of the mountain or, his legacy will remain, just another case of a great player who couldn’t push his injured or undermanned team across the finish line, like LeBron or Jordan or Bill Russell did.

If Durant somehow wins this semi-final series by carrying the supporting players on the Nets on his back to the next round without the injured James Harden and Kyrie Irving, it will be nothing short of miraculous. But for elite performers in sports, miracles are supposed to happen.

A series win vs. the Bucks and Durant can begin to pour the foundation on his piece of real estate, next to LeBron and Jordan and Russell. An NBA championship and he can permanently move into his “place” on the mountain of elites.

Kevin Durant puts on historic performance to lead Nets past Bucks in Game  5, 114-108 - NetsDaily
Nets coach Steve Nash hugs Durant after KD’s historic night in Brooklyn

Mandel’s Musings: What’s This Got to Do With Sports But…..Bill Maher’s Real Time on HBO Needs Help

by Scott Mandel

Bill Maher had interesting and intelligent guests last night on his once popular show, Real Time with Bill Maher. Joining him on his panel were Rick Wilson, the co-founder of the Lincoln Project and, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, the democrat from Michigan. Before the panel segment of the show, his one-on-one interview was with the engaging and brilliant John McWhorter, the Columbia University professor.

A solid show that reached 25% of the audience Real Time used to deliver for HBO, the cable network which carries the program. Six years ago, Maher’s show was consistently viewed on Friday nights by more than four million people. It now delivers a tad over one million viewers. By any measurement or explanation, it’s not trending the way HBO would prefer.

What Maher needs to figure out is how to have a guest like democratic congresswoman Slotkin on the same panel as a republican member of Congress, like Liz Cheney, or Mitt Romney, or perhaps, the new Republican liar from New York, Elise Stefanik, who is angling for Cheney’s job in the Republican party leadership. Then, Bill’s show would be able to make some news, as hard as the guests may try not to.

Either way, it becomes must-watch tv, and ratings (yeah, those pesky measurements companies like television networks care about) will increase and Maher can stay on the air. We are not suggesting HBO is considering taking Maher off the air but, you can bet your bottom dollar the powers that be are trying to figure out how to boost his audience because they have to account for the rationale of paying Maher the many millions of dollars he earns from his show, reported to be in the $15 million dollar range, about as much as the network television late night hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Kimmel, who work five days per week, not one.

It wouldn’t hurt if HBO promoted his show during the week leading up to it. I’ve never seen an advertising spot in the run-up days for Maher’s Friday night show. Maybe print ads on the op-ed pages of every major newspaper would be a good placement to reach “woke” political types, but that’s just my old media planning background coming out, as a former media strategist for consumer packaged goods companies. (HBO – call me)

Mets Can Only Dream of What Could Have Been As Matt Harvey Wins Third in a Row Today – for Baltimore while Stephen Matz is 4-0 – for Toronto. Wheeler and Montero Ripping It for Braves and Mariners

by Scott Mandel

Matt Harvey, the once and future ace of the New York Mets pitching staff in 2013, won his third game in a row today, for the lowly Baltimore Orioles, beating Oakland on the road.

Stephen Matz, the once and future fireballing lefthanded local boy from Long Island, New York is currently 4-0 and pitching lights out – for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Zack Wheeler, the tall righthander with the 99 mph fastball, pitched today for the Atlanta Braves. Against the Mets.

Rafael Montero, who was going to become the next Pedro Martinez as a 21-year old reed-thin righthander with a 97 mph fastball and perfect control, is now the closer for Seattle. That’s in the state of Washington, out that way somewhere. Montero is throwing BBs and getting saves.

They, along with Noah Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched in more than a year since Tommy John surgery, and a guy named Jacob deGrom were going to win 10 world championships in a row (at least) for the Mets. A starting pitching staff consisting of xix top of the rotation aces, in their mid-20s. All throwing 95-99 mph, on the black, dominating National League hitters.

Amazing how “stuff” happens.

Knicks, On Six-Game Winning Streak, Are Making Spring in NYC and Madison Square Garden Hotbeds of Basketball, Again

by Scott Mandel

It’s springtime in New York City. The weather is turning warmer, vaccines are going into arms, and New Yorkers are walking around again with a hop in their step (still masked and socially distanced). The Mets seem to be on their way, led by an effusive new shortstop. The Yankees are in forlorn, stale despair after just 15 games but few believe they won’t be in the post-season when all is said and done. But, April in New York City of any given year, is the month when this town rocks like no other when its New York Knicks are relevant. Unfortunately, the Knicks have not been relevant in over 20 years so April springs in this town haven’t rocked, all that much. Until now.

Because the Knicks, on a six-game winning streak and playing defense like Oakley and Mason and Ewing and Frazier, Reed, and DeBusschere played it, are relevant, again. They’re in the fight for the playoffs, an event they haven’t participated in since 2013, currently sitting in the sixth spot of the Eastern Conference, knocking on the door of fourth place.


The excitement is palpable, on the streets and in the drinking establishments. And, it grows with every win or well-played game. As rabid as New York sports fans have always been towards their teams, there has never been a greater love affair between any fan base and its team than Knicks fans for their hoops team. NYC has forever been where the sport of basketball was, if not born, certainly developed its personality, its creativity, and raised its skill-levels, across the five boroughs on its concrete playgrounds. New Yorkers feel like basketball is the city’s game, more so than any other sport. That’s what makes the decades-long failure of the Knicks franchise to win a championship so incredulous.


And, here is another example of what happens when the Knicks are playing well. The stars of the NBA take note.

As Zion Williamson, the young NBA star and the next LeBron James (in skill and branding) said last night after playing his first professional game at Madison Square Garden, getting soundly defeated by the Julius Randle-led Knicks, “New York is the Mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I played here in college and this is my first time playing here in the pros. And this atmosphere, whether they’re cheering or booing for you, it’s amazing.”


Then he smartly threw a bone to his New Orleans Pelicans fans, who no doubt will begin to fear Zion has his eye on playing for the Knicks, someday, “Outside of New Orleans, obviously, this might be my favorite place to play.” You could tell he didn’t mean one word of that. For this 21-year old kid, MSG is the place and NYC is the town, if you are a basketball player. The Mecca is The Mecca, again.


It’s funny how a little winning basketball from the Knicks changes perceptions, almost overnight. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, free-agent superstars, chose to take their talents across the East River to Brooklyn rather than play for a losing franchise in Manhattan with a bad owner. Today, one could imagine those two players, if they were making the same decision, might have teamed up to play at The Mecca instead of the arena named for the Barclays Bank.


If anyone thinks the Canyon of Heroes parades in the past were incredible for the championship-winning Yankees and the football Giants and even the ’69 Mets, those will be nothing compared to what a Knicks championship would look like in this town.