Time for Yankees to cut Judge cord

As the baseball winter meetings are running full bore in San Diego, rumors are flying about the game’s most sought after free agent Yankee Aaron Judge. All else most clubs do, especially the Yankees, rests on Judge’s decision.

On the Yankees YES network last night, GM Brian Cashman – who earlier in the day signed a four-year contract to stay with the Yankees, would not confirm that New York had offered Judge an eight-year $300M deal. Adding to the intrigue, Judge was seen at last night’s Tampa Bay-New Orleans game, the guest of Tom Brady.

If that wasn’t enough, TIME, the once well circulated now mostly niche magazine, named Judge it’s “Athlete of the Year.” In the story, Judge is quoted as saying he was not happy that Cashman went public with the Yankees contract offer of seven years, $213M, before the season started. Now in every interview, Cashman is tripping over himself to say nice things about Judge.

I say enough. Jon Heyman is reporting that the San Francisco Giants, Judge’s favorite team when he was growing up, has a $360M offer on the table. The length of the contract is not known.

If I am the Yankees, I say good riddance. See you on Opening Day, when the Giants come to Yankee Stadium to start the season. The Yankees would be better off taking the money they are offering Judge to sign a high profile free agent pitcher, Xander Bogaerts, the free agent shortstop and outfielder Brandon Nimmo. They could also package their infield prospects in another deal.

Let Judge be the Giants problem. Other than this year’s great season, Judge has been injury prone. Yes, he has posted some impressive numbers prior to this year, but those numbers always seem to get short-circuited with injuries. When this new contract begins, Judge will be 31. He may have a couple of great years left, but he will never live up to the $360M contract.

The Yankees have not won the big prize with Judge. They would have a better chance of winning their first World Series since 2009, if they plow the resources earmarked for Judge to other areas, as described above. Their current offer to Judge is fair and they should now wish him good luck and move on. Let Judge become this decade’s Robinson Cano.

deGrom did Mets a favor

I wish Jacob deGrom good luck. I really do. I wish for players to earn as much money as they can get. But I also see management’s side. Apparently the Mets would not commit to the contract length deGrom was seeking, although some accounts indicate the Mets were never given the chance to counter.

He may be a pitcher whose stats are off the charts in the modern era, but deGrom will also turn 35 at season’s start and is injury prone. Mets owner Steve Cohen did not make his billions by snap judgement, no matter how many Mets fans wanted him to pony up to give deGrom whatever he wanted. Five years for an injury-prone pitcher at 35 is not worth the risk. Remember, with deGrom and Scherzer the Mets were ousted after three games in the postseason. In other words, with their exorbitant payroll, the Mets played three more games in their season than the worst team in baseball.

So I understand why the Mets did not pony up. Even billionaires have a bottom line. And maybe it works out for Texas, which has had six straight losing seasons. Maybe the Lone Star State becomes the baseball universe with the Astros and Rangers. But the Mets are not losers in this, even though deGrom is gone and Mets fans are pained. Cohen now has millions more to plow into improving his club. And do not worry, Mets fans, he will spend it, all the while performing a balancing act between building a pennant winner and a perennial contender. Do not dispair.

What was the most watched NFL regular season game?

Turns out the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game was the most watched regular season NFL game in history. That is correct. History!

Counting streaming, because that is a growing area for how viewers consume content, 42 million people watched the game. When you consider Dallas pulled away in the second-half but the audience held, it is quite a statement as to how the most popular sports leagues in the USA holds an audience. Although some might add, with legalized betting, that is another reason the league holds sway over the country. And that is a subject for another day, as the Giants late-game TD proved costly to those who bet the Cowboys, a 10-point favorite.

To put the game’s ratings in perspective, the regular season contest blew out the sixth and final game of the World Series, won by the Houston Astros over the Philadelphia Phillies. That game attracted only 12.5 million viewers. In other words, baseball is as much America’s National Pastime as boxing and horse racing. It’s not. The NFL is king, followed by college football. Everyone else comes in a distant second. That is why, even in a tenuous economy, advertisers keep running to the NFL.

Don’t expect the blueprint to change anytime soon.

NFL Thanksgiving Day predictions

I have never been good at predicting games and that is why I make few predictions. Forecasting the outcome is an inexact science. After all, that is why they play the games. Nevertheless, predicting games can be fun, especially if you don’t have money on the outcome.

So here goes. My predictions on today’s NFL Thanksgiving Day games.

  • The Lions will beat the Bills. Detroit has won three straight and is playing at home. Granted, the Bills are picked by many to make it to the Super Bowl and did win at Ford Field over the Browns on Sunday, when the game was moved their because of the snowstorm in Buffalo, but I like the Lions.
  • Dallas over the Giants. This is tough, because I am a longtime Giants fan, but I cannot pick with my heart here. The Giants are one of the surprise teams this season, but last week for the first time lost a game they should have won, falling to Detroit at home. Plus Dallas has New York’s number, is riding high after that dominant win Sunday at Minnesota and is playing home on Thanksgiving. Enough said.
  • Minnesota to beat the Patriots. Look for a bounce back game from a very good Vikings club. Yes, the Pats are a surprising 6-4 and have the GOAT coach, but their offense is practically nonexistent and the Vikes are playing at home. Can the Pats pull a rabbit out of their hat? Of course, but I don’t see it happening here.

These are my outright selections sans point spread. Enjoy the games and Happy Thanksgiving.

Weather podcast returns

The Brad Field Weather Podcast returns for another winter season and I am proud to once again serve as co-host of the show with award winning meteorologist Brad Field. For years Brad was the chief meteorologist at NBC Connecticut, winning numerous awards. At WDRC radio in Hartford, where I had a show, Brad would be a frequent guest. In 2018, he and I decided to reprise our radio repartee with the BFW Podcast. We produced our first podcast in December of 2018. This season, in addition to audio, we plan on doing more video. Below is the first episode of the new season.

“Somebody shot the president”

Tuesday will mark 59 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. Though only in the third grade, I remember the day vividly, from when my teacher came into the classroom shaken, to the walk home from school to the weekend of mourning and murder of the alleged assassin.

In my weekly sports newsletter, which you can subscribe to on this page, I write about that day, as well as other topics that are more related to sports.

Automated strike zone in 2024?

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred met the media, after the owners meeting today and touched on numerous topics, from Pete Rose lobbying for the Hall of Fame, to collusion, franchises and rules changes.

Rules changes are what caught my eye. Of course, MLB is instituting changes next season, from restrictions on the shift to the pitch clock, pick off attempts and the number of times a batter can step out of the batter’s box. But according to The Athletic (paywall), the commissioner says MLB is considering rules changes for 2024 as well, “but Manfred did not want to float ideas at this stage.”

My hunch is one of the changes will be the highly anticipated automatted strike zone. Baseball will step up its experimentation with the technology in the minor leagues in 2023. Without being critical of umpires, who have a difficult job, this past post season is proof the time has come to utilize the technology in some form.

With betting on games more prevalent than ever and being pushed by MLB, getting the call correct is a must, especially with billions being generated by wagers on games. Although the commissioner is mum on what’s next in rule changes, the betting here is the strike zone is the favorite to head the list for 2024.

Sports magnates read polls too

If you own or operate a sports franchise, you are as cognizant of polls as the most prolific political observer. The Associated Press, in collaboration with Princeton University, has produced a survey on how Generation Z and Millennials consume their news and what interests them. Sports is way down the list.

All sports are encompassed in the survey. But if you were to break it down, it is why everything baseball gears is toward the younger generation. It is no coincidence that the low-rated, just concluded World Series had a majority of it audience at 55 years of age and older. And don’t kid yourself; the NFL, NBA and NHL are also taking notice. College is also a part of this landscape. Haven’t you noticed the empty seats at many big college basketball venues? I have. It is a big reason why betting on sporting events is so heavily promoted.

Look for all sports to continue the trend of marketing to a younger generation.

Report: Rizzo reups with Yankees. Good news for Judge?

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Yankees and free agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo have reached agreement on a new contract. Rizzo opted out of his two-year deal with the Yankees after the season. Website reports – usually designed to generate clicks – had the World Champion Houston Astros hot and heavy after Rizzo, but that apparently turns out to be fake news.

It is well known that Rizzo and Yankees free agent Aaron Judge have forged a strong bond. This could bode well for Judge to return to the Yankees.