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Thursday, October 26, 2006

San Francisco Giants Hire Bruce Bochy As Manager - ESPN and AP

What I like is that they just hired the skipper of a key division rival, who knows all of their players. Nice. 3=

Bochy agrees to become Giants manager
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Bruce Bochy set to go to Japan on Monday to manage a group of major leaguers in an exhibition tour, the Giants had to move fast to pry him away from the Padres.

After a day of talks, that's apparently just what they did. Bochy agreed in principle to take the job left vacant when Felipe Alou's contract was not renewed, two baseball officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the deal was pending.

The Giants scheduled a news conference for Friday to announce the deal. The San Jose Mercury News reported Bochy will receive a contract of at least three years for more than $2 million per season.

Teams are not allowed to make major announcements during the World Series, but Major League Baseball gave the Giants permission because Bochy is doing the league a favor. He agreed to replace Terry Francona as manager on the Japan tour when the Red Sox manager withdrew due to illness.

Bochy was the only candidate with major league managerial experience, something Giants general manager Brian Sabean said would be preferred. Mets third-base coach Manny Acta, Angels pitching coach Bud Black and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus also interviewed for the job.

The Giants received permission from the Padres on Wednesday to talk to Bochy, who traveled to the Bay Area earlier Thursday to meet with Sabean and other team officials about becoming Felipe Alou's successor.

"If he's available and that's a reality, we'd have to go forward and interview the man," Giants vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow said earlier Thursday.

Besides travel plans, the deal had to come together quickly because the Giants had only a seven-day window in which to come to agreement with Bochy because he is employed by another team. Bochy, who has one year left on his contract, and Sabean already had an informal conversation about the job.

Multiple calls to Bochy's cell phone went unreturned Thursday. Calls and e-mails to Sabean and Giants' executive vice president Larry Baer on Thursday night were not immediately returned.

Earlier in the day, Padres general manager Kevin Towers already was preparing for Bochy's possible departure.

"We certainly have to do our due diligence to come up with a list of candidates ourselves, a group of people we would probably interview if Bruce ends up leaving," Towers said in a phone interview. "I would imagine we'd know something by the weekend, because it probably would be hard to negotiate with Bruce going to Japan."

Bochy, 51, who just finished his 12th season as the Padres' manager, has guided San Diego to back-to-back NL West titles and is the winningest manager in franchise history. He has spent the last 24 years in the organization, dating to his playing days.

He is due to make $1.9 million in guaranteed money in 2007 and would be San Francisco's most expensive choice among the club's top candidates. But Bochy's experience and familiarity with the division certainly made him an immediate favorite.

Giants first baseman Mark Sweeney, who played for Bochy in San Diego for 3½ seasons, believes his former skipper would be a good fit in San Francisco.

"The one thing it's going to do -- and it's good for our organization -- is if there are potential free agents looking for a manager to play for, Bochy's that guy," Sweeney said. "It would definitely benefit us in getting some free agents who might go elsewhere. I just think that goes a long way in deciding a team. It adds to it that you get a guy who has that credibility and experience."

San Francisco, which has 11 potential free agents including Barry Bonds, did not renew the 71-year-old Alou's contract after the Giants finished their second straight losing season and third in a row out of the playoffs.

Black is expected to interview with the Oakland Athletics about their managerial opening and could become a candidate to replace Bochy.

Bochy's Padres made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time ever but were eliminated in the first round for the second straight year by the St. Louis Cardinals. San Diego did win a postseason game for the first time since clinching the NL pennant in 1998.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How The Oakland A's Plan To Pay For Their Stadium; A Talk With Donald Fisher

I had the honor of attending The Gap's "Project Red" Party at Yerbe Buena Gardens in San Francisco on Tuesday of last week (from the date of this post). It was a star-studded affair with people like former SF 49ers Quarterback Steve Bono, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and so many people of note that I needed a score-card to keep up with who was whom.

One of those people was Gap Founder Donald Fisher. Fisher (pictured with Budd Cheit at a Haas Business School gathering at Cal) -- natily dressed in a cashmere blazer, slacks, and his trademark coke-bottle glasses -- was just standing and talking to a gentleman who represented the country of Ridwanda, when me and my friend -- who were standing close to them because it was crowded -- turned and the four of us started a basic conversation of greeting. But after the formal intros were done, I asked Don about his son Jon's team, the Oakland A's.

He shared with me how his son was following the team and how proud they both were. I then offered the observation that I understood that they planned to move to Fremont, but the city couldn't afford them. I questioned the logic of the move -- in a friendly way. Our conversation wasn't negative by any stretch.

"Oh. They've got a good way to pay for it," Fisher offered. While hesitant to explain what the method was at first, he did after some playful and mischievious proding by me. Fisher said that the land they were buying would be obtained at a far lower than market value price, and they would just resell the land at a higher price. The difference between the first price -- which I'm guessing would be close to zero -- and their resale price is (they claim) enough to pay for a new stadium or at least a good portion of the cost of it.

I said it was a good idea.

What I now understand is why the A's need over 140 acres of land; to make this financing system work. What do I mean? Well, the more land they have to sell, the more residual money is left over to build a stadium.

What's the downside?

The market value of the land parcels in question after development is the biggest one. If the A's developers have not correctly calculated the size and number of parcels needed to generate the $500 million required, and they've not drawn a large enough "cushion" of land parcels to give them money over and above what's needed, they could wind up short.

But that written, it's a good idea that in theory should leave them without the $20 million annual stadium debt the San Francisco Giants are paying on AT&T Park.

Where's Oakland in all this? Not even the City of Oakland seems to know.

Former A's Pitcher Cory Lidle Dies As Plane Crashes Into 50-Story New York Building - ESPN

This is shocking, and serves to remind us all of how precious life really is. Our prayers go out to the Lildle family and friends.

Lidle dies as plane crashes into Manhattan high-rise
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- A small plane with New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle aboard crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan's Upper East Side, killing at least two people -- including Lidle -- and raining flaming debris on sidewalks, authorities said.

Athletes Who Died In Plane Crashes
• Oct. 18, 1925 -- Marvin Goodwin, Cincinnati Reds pitcher, in Houston.
• March 31, 1931 -- Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach, in Kansas
• May 4, 1949 -- 22 members of Torino, the Italian soccer champions, in Turin, Italy.
• Oct. 27, 1949 -- Marcel Cerdan, former world middleweight champion, en route to fight Jake LaMotta in Spain.
• July 1, 1954 -- John McBride, Alabama halfback, killed in ROTC training flight in Texas.
• Oct. 30, 1954 -- Wilbur Shaw, President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Decatur, Ind.
• Sept. 20, 1956 -- Tom Gastall, Baltimore Orioles catcher, in Maryland.
• Nov. 27, 1956 -- Charlie Peete, St. Louis Cardinal outfielder, in Venezuela.
• Feb. 6, 1958 -- Eight members of the English soccer champion Manchester United, in Munich.
• Aug. 14, 1958 -- Six members of the Egyptian fencing team, in the Atlantic Ocean.
• Oct. 30, 1958 -- Philip Scrutton, British Walker Cup golfer.
• April 29, 1959 -- Joaquin Blume, Spain's European gymnastics champion, in Madrid.
• Oct. 10, 1960 -- 16 members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team, in Toledo, Ohio.
• Feb. 16, 1961 -- 18 members of the U.S. figure skating team, in Belgium.
• April 3, 1961 -- Green Cross, a first-division Chilean soccer team, in the Las Lastimas Mountains.
• March 1, 1962 -- Johnny Dieckman, world fly-casting champion, in Chicago.
• April 12, 1962 -- Ron Flockhart, Scottish racing driver, in Melbourne.
• Feb. 15, 1964 -- Ken Hubbs, 22, Chicago Cub second baseman, in Utah.
• July 24, 1966 -- Tony Lema, 1964 British Open champion, in Munster, Ind.
• April 28, 1968 -- Six members of the Lamar Tech track team, in Beaumont, Texas.
• Sept. 26, 1969 -- 25 members of Bolivian soccer team "The Strongest", in the Andes.
• Oct. 2, 1970 -- 14 Wichita State football players, in Colorado.
• Nov. 14, 1970 -- 36 Marshall University football players, in Huntington, W.Va.
• Oct. 11, 1972 -- 30 members of a Uruguayan rugby club, in Chile.
• Dec. 31, 1972 -- Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder, from San Juan, Puerto Rico en route to Nicaragua to aid earthquake victims.
• June 24, 1975 -- Wendell Ladner, New York Nets forward, in New York.
• Dec. 13, 1977 -- 14 University of Evansville basketball players and coach Bobby Watson in Evansville, Ind.
• Aug. 2, 1979 -- Thurman Munson, New York Yankees catcher, in Canton, Ohio.
• Jan. 11, 1980 -- Bo Rein, LSU football coach, in the Atlantic Ocean.
• March 14, 1980 -- 14 members of the U.S. amateur boxing team in Warsaw, Poland.
• Dec. 12, 1983 -- Rex Dockery, Memphis State football coach, with offensive coordinator Chris Faros and defensive back Charles Greenhill, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
• Nov. 25, 1985 -- Six members of the Iowa State women's cross country team in Des Moines, Iowa.
• Aug. 16, 1987 -- Nick Vanos, Phoenix Suns center, in Romulus, Mich.
• Dec. 8, 1987 -- 17 players of the Alianza Peruvian first-division soccer team in Lima, Peru.
• Sept. 30, 1988 -- Al Holbert, six-time IMSA champion, near Columbus Ohio.
• July 19, 1989 -- Jay Ramsdell, CBA Commissioner, in Sioux City, Iowa.
• April 1, 1993 -- Alan Kulwicki, NASCAR's 1992 champion, in Blountville, Tenn.
• April 28, 1993 -- 18 players and five team officials of Zambia's national soccer team in Libreville, Gabon.
• July 13, 1993 -- Davey Allison, NASCAR driver, the day after a helicopter he was piloting crashed on the infield at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.
• April 18, 1996 -- Brook Berringer, Nebraska quarterback, two days before the NFL draft, when the small plane he was piloting crashed in Raymond, Neb.
• May 11, 1996 -- Rodney Culver, San Diego Chargers running back, in Florida Everglades.
• Oct. 25, 1999 -- Payne Stewart, winner of the 1989 PGA Championship and a two-time U.S. Open winner, two miles west of Mina, S.D.
• Jan. 27, 2001 -- Oklahoma State basketball players Dan Lawson and Nate Fleming, and six team staffers and broadcasters, in Byers, Colo.

-- Associated Press
Federal Aviation Administration records showed the single-engine plane was registered to Lidle. A law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition on anonymity, said two people were aboard, and Lidle's passport was found at the crash scene. The plane had issued a distress call before the crash, according to the official.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said both people aboard were killed.

On Sunday, the day after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, Lidle cleaned out his locker at Yankee Stadium and talked about his interest in flying.

He explained to reporters the process of getting a pilot's license and said he intended to fly back to California in several days and planned to make a few stops. Lidle discussed the plane crash of John F. Kennedy Jr. and how he had read the accident report on the National Transportation Safety Board Web site.

Lidle, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30, told The New York Times last month that his four-seat Cirrus SR20 plane was safe.

"The whole plane has a parachute [that can be deployed in the event of emergency] on it," Lidle said. "Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly."

Lidle also talked about airplanes' safety in an interview with MLB.com in February.

"If you're 7,000 feet in the air and your engine stops, you can glide for 20 minutes," Lidle said at the time. "As long as you're careful, everything should be fine."

Lidle pitched 1 1/3 innings in the fourth and final game of the AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers and gave up three earned runs but was not the losing pitcher. He had a 12-10 regular-season record with a 4.85 ERA.

He pitched with the Phillies before coming to the Yankees, who acquired him at the July trade deadline along with outfielder Bobby Abreu. He began his career in 1997 with the Mets. He also pitched for Tampa Bay, Oakland, Toronto and Cincinnati.

Lidle was an outcast among some teammates throughout his career because he became a replacement player in 1995, when major-leaguers were on strike.

For his career, he was 82-72 with two saves and a 4.57 ERA.

"I wish I had the words. I have no words. I just have strong emotions, it's sadder than sad," Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, who was Lidle's pitching with the A's from 2001-02, told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. "I wish I had an answer [about how to prepare for a baseball game under these circumstances]. I don't have an answer. You try to deal with the emotions first. It's horrific, it's unbelievable, just a surreal moment. It just shows how insignificant some of the things we think are significant really are."

The twin-engine plane came through a hazy, cloudy sky and hit the 20th floor of The Belaire -- a red-brick tower overlooking the East River, about five miles from the World Trade Center -- with a loud bang, touching off a raging fire that cast a pillar of black smoke over the city and sent flames shooting from four windows on two adjoining floors.

Large crowds gathered in the street in the largely wealthy New York neighborhood, with many people in tears and some trying to reach loved ones by cell phone.

"I was worried the building would explode, so I got out of there fast," said Lori Claymont, who fled an adjoining building in sweatpants.

Young May Cha, a 23-year-old Cornell University medical student, said she was walking back from the grocery store down 72nd Street when she saw an object out of the corner of her eye.

"I just saw something come across the sky and crash into that building," she said. Cha said there appeared to be smoke coming from behind the aircraft, and "it looked like it was flying erraticaly for the short time that I saw it."

"The explosion was very small. I was not threatened for my life," she added.

Richard Drutman, a professional photographer who lives on the 11th floor, said he was talking on the telephone when he felt the building shake.

"There was a huge explosion. I looked out my window and saw what appeared to be pieces of wings, on fire, falling from the sky," Drutman said. He and his girlfriend quickly evacuated the building.

The plane left New Jersey's Teterboro Airport, just across the Hudson River from the city, at 2:30 p.m., about 15 minutes before the crash, according to officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport. But they said they did not where the aircraft was headed.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said the plane was apparently not in contact with air traffic controllers; pilots flying small planes by sight are not required to be in contact.

ABC News reported Wednesday that after Lidle's plane departed Teterboro, it took a normal flight pattern down the Hudson River and appears to have circled the Statue of Liberty, headed up the East River. It fell off the radar at about 59th Street. The apartment the plane crashed into was the entire 40th floor of the building, and it appears two other apartments on the 41st floor suffered from the impact.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.

Former NTSB director Jim Hall said in a telephone interview he doesn't understand how a plane could get so close to a New York City building after Sept. 11.

"We're under a high alert and you would assume that if something like this happened, people would have known about it before it occurred, not after," Hall said.

Mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, daughter of author Mary Higgins Clark, lives on the 38th floor and was coming home in a cab when she saw the smoke.

"Thank goodness I wasn't at my apartment writing at the time," she said. She described the building's residents as a mix of actors, doctors, lawyers, writers and people with second homes.

Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., said fighter jets "are airborne over numerous U.S. cities and while every indication is that this is an accident, we see this as a prudent measure at this time."

However, all three New York City-area airports continued to operate normally, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said neither President Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney was moved to secure locations.

"All indications are that is an unfortunate accident," said Yolanda Clark, a spokeswoman for Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration. She said there was "no specific or credible intelligence suggesting an imminent threat to the homeland, at this time."

The crash struck fear in a city devastated by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Sirens echoed across the neighborhood as about 170 firefighters rushed in along with emergency workers and ambulances. Broken glass and debris were strewn around the neighborhood.

"There's a sense of helplessness," said Sandy Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. "Cots and gurneys, waiting. It's a mess."

The tower was built in the late 1980s and is situated near Sotheby's auction house. It has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.

Several lower floors are occupied by doctors and administrative offices, as well as guest facilities for family members of patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Fisher said.

No patients were in the high-rise building and operations at the hospital a block away were not affected, Fisher said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Oakland A's Video Tribute and A's Playoff Tickets

A tribute via video to the 2006 Oakland A's:

Monday, October 02, 2006

SF Giants Fire Manager Felipe Alou - Sabean Next?

In my business view, I'm surprised General Manager Brian Sabean's not fired. I like Brian a lot, but the Giants personel decisions have been widely slammed by Giants fans.

Giants make 'painful' decision, won't renew Felipe Alou's contract
Henry Schulman, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, October 2, 2006

(10-02) 12:46 PDT -- Felipe Alou's tenure as manager of the Giants ended after four seasons Monday with the club announcing that his contract will not be renewed.

The Giants issued a statement saying it has asked the 71-year-old franchise icon to remain in the organization in "an advisory role to the general manager and the baseball operations department." Alou said Sunday he would consider such an offer.

"Tough decisions are always painful, and this one is especially painful," general manager Brian Sabean said in a statement. "Felipe is a man of unquestioned integrity who has put his heart and soul into the Giants. He endured some injuries to key players over his tenure here and always kept the club in contention despite some difficult circumstances."

Alou could not be reached immediately for comment, but he issued a two-paragraph statement in which he said, "Even though I will not be the Giants' manager next year, I will always be a Giant. I feel blessed that I was able to manage again, especially here in San Francisco."

Alou had seen the writing on the wall for weeks, and before he managed his final game Sunday he said, "There are no hard feelings. Everything is cool."

The Giants are expected to conduct a thorough search for a manager, unlike 2002, when Alou was the only candidate interviewed.

Candidates are expected to include longtime major-league manager Lou Piniella, former Giants catcher and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly, Angels pitching coach and former Giants pitcher Bud Black, longtime Giants bench coach Ron Wotus and perhaps former manager Dusty Baker, if some burned bridges can be reconstructed.

Piniella, Brenly, Black and Wotus all have told confidants they would be interested in talking to the Giants if Alou departs.

Alou said he is not sure what he wants to do but insisted he is not going to retire.

"I know I will get offers," he said. "I don't know if they will be managerial offers, but I believe there will be offers."

Asked if he would consider working for the Giants in a front-office or scouting job, Alou said, "I would say yes. If I'm not managing the team, I would say the Giants have the first shot, but I think it should be well-understood that I don't want to be a visitor making money. I want to be productive. I want to help the organization."

The Giants went 342-304 in Alou's four seasons as manager, the wins ranking sixth in San Francisco history. Replacing Baker after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series to the Angels, Alou guided the team to 100 wins and a National League West title in 2003, the last time they reached the postseason. They lost their Division Series to Florida.

In 2004, the Giants were knocked out of contention on the last day of the regular season. In 2005 and 2006, they posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1995 and 1996.

Sabean is expected to address the decision today, but it was not unexpected, given the team's record after 2004 and the perceived need for a change in the manager's office to go with an overhaul that will occur on the field. Players, who were not told anything official before they dispersed Sunday afternoon, expressed regret that their performance might have played a role.

"I don't think he's the reason the team failed," shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "Obviously, it's going to be a business decision. When a team doesn't get a winning record under a particular manager, they're probably going to look in a different direction."

Said outfielder Randy Winn: "Every time you step out on the field, your job is on the line -- yours, the GM's, the staff's. Unfortunately, when it does happen, it's really because of how we played. When you don't play as well as you're capable of, as an individual or as a group, it sucks that the manager has to pay."

Despite Alou's gilded history with the franchise and his 100-win managerial debut, fans and players did not warm to him as they did to Baker. Even during his division-winning debut season, Alou was criticized for his handling of the pitching staff. In 2005, some fans turned against him when he referred to KNBR talk-show host Larry Krueger as "satan" after Krueger's rant about "brain-dead Caribbean hitters" who play for the Giants.

"My only regret over the last four years is the thing that happened with the talk-show host," Alou said Sunday.

Whereas Baker was considered a "player's manager," many of Alou's players respected his knowledge of the game but considered him aloof, letting his many older players do their own thing, sometimes to the detriment of the team.

When one seasoned player was asked if Alou had "lost the room," he replied, "I don't think he ever had the room. That's not his style."

Alou had his frustrations, including a belief that his opinions were not always valued. As one example, clubhouse sources said Alou wanted the Giants to release Armando Benitez after the closer publicly ripped teammates and disrespected Alou while Benitez himself was blowing save after save, and Alou was frustrated that management did not comply.

Also, although he didn't say so directly, Alou was not always happy with the collection of players he was given, particularly those past their prime, with a mandate to reach the playoffs.

He alluded to that Sunday. Referring to players such as Marquis Grissom, Kirk Rueter, Edgardo Alfonzo and several relievers, he said, "I don't believe one manager enjoys having players die in their hands. I had here the last two years a number of careers finish here. ... Some of them were big players who reached the end of the line here. If you're talking about next year, we've got to make sure we have some guys we don't have to release in the middle of the season."

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