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Herges up, Perez down, Laffey to the pen and Sowers to start:


Indians call up RHP Herges, demote LHP Perez

BOSTON (AP) — The Cleveland Indians have called up right-hander Matt Herges from Triple-A Columbus and optioned lefty Rafael Perez to the minor league team.


The Indians also released righty Juan Salas on Wednesday to make room for Herges on their 40-man roster.


Herges, who signed a minor league contract as a free agent in January, was 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and four saves in 11 games with Columbus. In 537 major league appearances, he is 40-34 with a 3.94 ERA and 34 saves.


Perez was 0-1 with a 15.19 ERA in 13 outings with Cleveland this season. The Indians had sent Salas to Columbus on March 19 after obtaining him from Tampa Bay on Feb. 19.



Cleveland Indians move Aaron Laffey to the bullpen and promote Jeremy Sowers to start

Posted by jmorona May 06, 2009 17:54PM


UPDATED, 6:26 p.m.

BOSTON -- In an attempt to save the bullpen, and perhaps the season, the Indians have moved undefeated starter Aaron Laffey to a relief role and called up Jeremy Sowers to make his start against Boston on Thursday.


GM Mark Shapiro told reporters about the move before Wednesday's game against the Red Sox. He said the Indians are exploring other moves as well to help a bullpen that leads the AL in blown saves and homers allowed.


When asked if this move was being made to save the season, Shapiro said, "I wouldn't use those words, but there is a sense of urgency."


Manager Eric Wedge told Laffey about the move Wednesday afternoon. He said Laffey reacted well and said, "Whatever I can do to help the team I'll do it."


Laffey (2-0, 4.09) made some relief appearances in his first three seasons in the minors before becoming a starter. In the 2007 ALCS, he threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief against Boston in Game 6.


"He throws ground balls, he gets ready quick and he's athletic," said Wedge.


Wedge said he wouldn't hesitate to use Laffey on Wednesday night, especially late in the game. Indians relievers made 10 appearances in their two-game series against Toronto on Monday and Tuesday at Rogers Centre so they've been stretched thin.


Sowers was 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts at Columbus. He had 22 strikeouts, while allowing five walks, six runs and 23 hits in 24 innings. The opposition is hitting .240 against him.


Wedge said the Indians would make a move to create a spot for Sowers after Wednesday's game.


Shapiro said the decision to move Laffey to the pen was made because "there's no natural choice in Class AAA. We are asking Laffey to sacrifice himself for the team."


Shapiro said he is going to keep exploring trade options and the waiver wire, but added, "we're going to be tireless in looking for external help, but the reality is we're going to have to answer this internally."


The Indians have talked about moving minor league starters such as Hector Rondon to the bullpen to help the big league club.


"I wouldn't say no to anything," said Shapiro.




waitingfornextyear.com does a terrific job of breaking down Raffy using pitch f/x data:





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Fits here as well as anywhere else, a look at the pen YTD:


Cleveland Indians pitchers have a 9.33 earned-run average in the 7th and 8th innings

Posted by mpeticca May 06, 2009 16:33PM


No, it's not your imagination. The Cleveland Indians' bullpen has sabotaged the team's early-season efforts, paving the way to a 10-17 record and a last-place standing in the American League Central Division.


The Indians have surrendered 61 runs during the seventh and eighth innings (54 total innings). Five of the runs have been unearned, thus putting the team earned run average in those innings at 9.33.


Cleveland starters have not fared well, either, when they get into the seventh inning, as they have done in nine of their starts. They have allowed 11 runs - all earned - in a total of nine innings pitched in the seventh and eighth innings, for an ERA of 11.00.


The relievers have given up 50 runs, including 45 earned, in a total of 45 innings pitched in the seventh and eighth innings - an ERA of 9.00.


In seven games, Indians manager Eric Wedge has brought in a relief pitcher for his starter to begin the seventh inning. Three times, the Indians have held a lead for the starter; once, they have come from behind to win; twice, they have blown leads; once, they were behind to begin the inning and went on to lose.


On 44 occasions, Wedge has gone to another reliever at some time during the seventh or eighth innings, or to start the eighth.


During the Indians' 17 losses, they have been outscored, 44-14, in the seventh and eighth innings. During a stretch of 10 of those losses (loss No. 5 through loss No. 14), the Indians did not score a run in 20 innings, getting outscored, 20-0.


Even in their 10 wins, the Indians have yielded 17 runs in 20 seventh or eighth innings. Cleveland, though, has scored 27 runs in those 20 innings.


Following are the appearances, runs allowed and innings pitched for starters and relievers during the seventh and eighth innings. Runs are all earned unless noted.



Cliff Lee: 3 starts, 3 runs, 5 innings

Fausto Carmona: 3 starts, 4 runs, 1 1/3 innings

Aaron Laffey: 2 starts, 2 runs, 1 1/3 innings

Carl Pavano: 1 start, 2 runs, 1 1/3 innings



Jensen Lewis: 11 games, 8 runs, 10 2/3 innings

Rafael Perez: 10 games, 17 runs, 7 2/3 innings

Rafael Betancourt: 8 games, 9 runs (including 3 unearned), 7 innings

Masa Kobayashi: 6 games, 2 runs, 5 2/3 innings

Joe Smith: 6 games, 6 runs (including 1 unearned), 4 2/3 innings

Tony Sipp: 5 games, 2 runs, 4 innings

Vinnie Chulk: 5 games, 5 runs (including 1 unearned), 4 innings

Kerry Wood: 2 games, 1 run, 1 1/3 innings





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A little love shown to LGT. Their comment section is often best ignored (says a commenter!) but Ryan seems like a real good guy:


Opposing Thoughts: Two with the Tribe

by Neil Keefe, May 6, 2009 – 1:22 pm

Opposing Thoughts: Two with the Tribe


Ryan Richards and Adam Van Arsdale of LetsGoTribe.com joined us to answer a few questions about the Cleveland Indians, who are visiting Fenway for the first time this season.


NESN.com: Grady Sizemore has stolen just five bases this season and has been caught four times. In his career, Sizemore usually has a very good success rate stealing bases. What has been the reason for just a 56 percent success rate?


Ryan Richards: I’m going from memory here, but at least a couple of the caught stealings (one was by Jon Lester in the last Red Sox-Indians series) were because he went on first movement, but the pitcher didn’t go home, instead throwing to first. The first baseman then threw to second to retire Grady easily. So he’s guessed wrong on when the pitcher’s going home a couple times.


Adam Van Arsdale: In an attempt to generate offense, Eric Wedge has the team being more aggressive on the base paths this season. Right now, they are on pace to record 120 stolen bases and 42 caught stealing, versus 77 and 29 last season. I think Grady has suffered primarily from being more aggressive and probably attempting steals with less than ideal conditions.


NESN.com: What is the biggest concern with the Indians right now?


Ryan Richards: The bullpen, by orders of magnitude over everything else. The starters were a problem in the first week, and the offense has gone through some minor slumps, but the bullpen has been consistently bad the entire season. On May 5 against Toronto, the bullpen came into the game up three runs and ended the inning down four runs. And it hasn’t just been a single reliever blowing leads; everyone in the bullpen has been responsible for at least one meltdown this season.


Adam Van Arsdale: Without a doubt, it is the bullpen. The only guys with an ERA under 4.00 are Vinnie Chulk (3.75), Tony Sipp (3.60) and Masa Kobayashi (3.72) — and they are largely benefiting from being used in very low leverage situations (Chulk and Masa) or limited appearances (Sipp). The guys the team expected to form the core of the pen — Rafael Perez, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt, Joe Smith and even Kerry Wood — have struggled badly.


NESN.com: Matt LaPorta has had just a handful of at-bats, but do you like what you see about the 24-year old rookie’s approach?


Ryan Richards: I’ve only seen two of his games thus far, and one of them was against a locked-in pitcher (Justin Verlander), so it’s tough to make any real judgment on his approach based on so small a sample size. But his bat speed has impressed me, and obviously his power is well above average.


Adam Van Arsdale: It’s hard not to like a game-tying, 400-foot home run to left-center on Monday.


NESN.com: Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona and Carl Pavano have combined to go just 3-10 for the Tribe so far. Who has been the biggest disappointment of the three?


Ryan Richards: Probably Fausto Carmona, who has shown stretches of dominance, but hasn’t yet put everything together in a single start. Cliff Lee (1-4) has been very good after giving up seven runs in his first start; he just hasn’t gotten any run support (the Indians have scored two runs total in his last three losses). And Carl Pavano has been surprisingly competent after a disastrous first start. The starting rotation was in my mind the weak portion of this team going into the season, but it’s been pretty decent thus far.


Adam Van Arsdale: The biggest disappointment has been Fausto Carmona. Lee has actually pitched quite well of late. Pavano is not a guy the Indians were relying upon heavily. Fausto is an extremely important part of the rotation and has shown the ability to sustain a high level of play in the past (19-8, 3.06 ERA in 2007). His control problems from last year, however, are still nagging him this season.


NESN.com: Who has been the Indians most reliable and consistent reliever so far this season?


Ryan Richards: Can my answer be “no one”? Kerry Wood has converted four saves in five opportunities, but he’s been bad in non-save appearances. Tony Sipp, who was called up last week, has had some excellent outings, but he’s only made six appearances. None of the regulars have put together more than a couple decent appearances in a row.


Adam Van Arsdale: Reliable and consistent are two attributes the Indians are still looking for in the bullpen. Rafael Perez has been more consistent and reliable than anyone else in the ‘pen, but he’s been consistently and reliably bad. No one has been consistent and reliably good.


NESN.com: What are the keys for the Indians to taking the two-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway?


Ryan Richards: They need to score late, because the bullpen is going to allow at least a couple runs a game. Also, the starters will have to go deep into the game in order to minimize the number of outs the set-up crew has to get. At this point, it’s asking too much for the Indians’ set-up crew to pitch more than four or five outs of scoreless baseball.


Adam Van Arsdale: Solid starting pitching performances of more than seven innings, which will take some of the pressure off the bullpen. If the Red Sox’ offense gets to either Pavano or Laffey early, and Eric Wedge has to get more than three innings out of the ‘pen, the Indians are in trouble.


Thanks again to Ryan Richards and Adam Van Arsdale for sharing their insight on the Indians. Don’t forget to check out their blog, LetsGoTribe.com.





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Great article in Scene about Woolner:


Statman Begins: Keith Woolner and the Indians

Posted by Vince Grzegorek on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 9:59 AM


Unless you hang around the interwebs seeking out sabermetric info, are a loyal Baseball Prospectus reader or have glanced at the Indians’ front office list, you might not know the name Keith Woolner. His title: Manager of Baseball Analysis & Research.


The casual fan is more likely to know fellow Baseball Prospectus alum, fivethirtyeight.com writer and veritable pop-culture stat star Nate Silver, than the guy analyzing stats for the Tribe. And that’s fine. There’s no reason for Woolner to be in the public eye. But for Tribe fans, for baseball fans, it might be helpful to know how the Indians’ head stat analyst interacts with the rest of the team.


It’s not really breaking news that the Tribe would employ someone like this. Anyone who has listened to GM Mark Shapiro or Assistant GM Chris Antonetti knows that the front office is inclined to the kind of analysis made mainstream in Michael Lewis’ Moneyball. The Indians have long been an organization that was tied to the sabermetric community (sabermetrics is the statistical and mathematical analysis of baseball records) — among the first not only to embrace the idea but to hire someone like Keith Woolner.


Their connection back in 2007 was fortuitous. Woolner, who had worked in software development and marketing while writing for Baseball Prospectus for 10 years, was at a company that had just faced a round of layoffs. “And so I kind of said, I’ve been doing this baseball thing for quite awhile now, and there’d been a couple of people that had managed to get into the front office of some teams,” says Woolner. “I used those as a way to ask if any teams were looking, and [indians’ director of baseball operations] Mike Chernoff responded and said he’d like to talk to me.”


As it turned out, the Indians were looking for someone just like Keith. “We had been looking to fortify our effort in analytics, and we were looking at a broad range of avenues to do that,” says Antonetti. “We became aware that Keith was exploring his options, and we believed the ability to bring in someone like Keith, with his expertise, intelligence and background, would enhance our efforts.”


That expertise would include two bachelor’s degrees from MIT — Mathematics with Computer Science and Management Science — a masters in Decision Analysis from Stanford and his time at Baseball Prospectus, where he started writing part-time and ended managing their statistical databases, overseeing research and development, and leading programming teams. Oh, and he invented VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), one of the most influential and commonly used tools for measuring player performance.


In May 2007, lifelong Red Sox fan Woolner began his work for the Indians. At that time, he estimates that no more than a half-dozen teams had hired a full-time analyst. Even now, his gig is still relatively unique. “I would say we’re talking a third, a third and a third,” says Woolner. “There’s a third of the teams that have embraced analytics to the level that you think is appropriate, but hopefully we’re still ahead. There’s a third in the middle who have done it to some degree, and maybe talk to some people on a part-time basis but haven’t found the need to invest more fully in the area. And there’s a third that are waiting to see if the two-thirds ahead come up with anything before they commit. But even those teams are doing something. It’s just they’re not at the bleeding edge.


“The Indians have been very open to the input that I would have to give. They ask for my opinion on a number of moves, be it trades, an offer or whether they’re thinking about promoting a guy or a contract. My role is to be a source of information.”


Antonetti echoes that sentiment: “He’s an important contributor to the decision-making process. We try to make balanced, informed decisions. He has an area of expertise, and we look for him to provide his opinion and then use that information together with our other data sources, other information sources, our medical staff, psychological evaluations, to make the best decisions we can.”


There are some areas in which Woolner provides opinions that are at least mildly surprising. For instance, manager Eric Wedge seems like a by-the-book kind of guy. But Wedge has sought out Woolner’s opinion — though, of course, Woolner can’t go into specifics — when asked about hypotheticals involving perhaps moving a player from shortstop to third, or from the leadoff spot to third in the lineup.


“I only have experience with one front office,” he says. “But from what I’ve been told and believe to be true, there is more receptivity here among the coaching staff, Eric and so on, to whatever’s going to help them get the right results. If that comes from a statistical approach, that’s OK. If it comes from a psychological evaluation, that’s fine too. But so often you think of old baseball guys who dismiss anything a guy like me had to say, and that hasn’t happened. I’ve had conversations with Eric and the coaches, and they’re at least willing to listen, which is half the battle.”


So what has Wedge asked about? Moving a player from shortstop to third, maybe? Sliding another guy from the leadoff spot to third in the lineup, perhaps? “Umm, they have asked for input in different situations. I’ll just leave it at that,” he says, laughing.


All right, so he can’t talk about specifics. That’s part of the deal. This information is proprietary with good reason. Any little semblance of a competitive edge in gathering talent or signing players is vital when you’re a small-market team unable to pay New York or Boston prices. That dichotomy between public and private is perhaps the biggest difference in Woolner’s work from his Prospectus days. The saber community is just that, a community. Part of the attraction is how ideas are dissected, improved, tweaked and evaluated. Now, anything Woolner produces is kept in a small circle.


“A lot of the work that I have done I think is really cool and I would love to say, “Hey, look what I found,’” he concedes. “On a personal level, it would be gratifying, but having it be a little bit of a secret that could be a competitive advantage and might help win the World Series would be pretty cool too.”


The other main difference from his former life as a part-time writer for BP is the emphasis on the future. Yes, everyone loves a good debate about who was the MVP in a certain year, but priorities and interests change when you’re involved in decisions on whom to sign and who to play.


“The work I do now matters in a way it didn’t on Prospectus. Before, right or wrong, if people were reading, that was a win. Wins are very different when you’re actually playing games. Here, there’s less emphasis or interest on evaluating the past. Here, the past in some senses is only useful in that it informs the decisions you’re making in the present about the future.”


Which is what Woolner is mainly involved in — decisions in acquiring, promoting, trading and drafting players. And the kind of things he and the front office pay attention to probably wouldn’t surprise most readers familiar with Woolner’s previous work. “Age, strikeout rates, contact rates — the kind of things you expect to go into a model do go into it.”


It’s not just results on the field that Woolner is concerned with either. When it comes to free agents, the players who demand multi-million-dollar and multi-year deals, the behemoths who take up a chunk of a mid-market team’s payroll — Woolner has to evaluate whether such a player’s presence on the field makes his contract economically viable. “It could be looking at models and figuring out, if we bring in this guy, what will ticket sales do? How much revenue is that going to bring in and will it offset the costs? So, in particular for the higher-priced guys, I’m involved.”


There’s not much in terms of data, however, that the team wasn’t already collecting before Woolner’s arrival. Any difference is in the application. The Indians had created Diamond View, a tool to organize all the information about a player — stats, medical history, injury reports, scouting information, psych evaluations — that was well-known in the industry. When they hired Woolner, they were looking for a way to augment the application of those numbers and bits of information. “They had recognized the opportunity in exploiting analytic approaches alongside scouting and other traditional sources of information,” says Woolner. “They didn’t need much convincing that there was value in doing this, just that I was the right guy.”


And the question coming from the other side of the table was whether the team was the right fit for Keith. Even for an organization so in tune with what he was doing, was he going to be heard?


“I wanted to have an opportunity to make a difference,” says Woolner. “I didn’t want to be shuffled off in a remote corner of the building. Your biggest fear coming in is that you’re not going to be taken seriously. And that hasn’t happened.”





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Going with the layoff theme in the article above, here's a story about one of the many in the print biz who is facing just that:


May 05, 2009

Press Box Layoff: How the Baltimore Sun Fired Me

By David Steele


Full disclosure: the first two times I was given stunning news about my newspaper job - in 1986 at the about-to-merge St. Petersburg Evening Independent, and in 1991 at the about-to-be-defunct National Sports Daily - I didn’t get it face-to-face either time. Also full disclosure: the latter time, I learned while in the press box at a Baltimore Orioles game, too.


Of course, I was, respectively, 21 and 26 years old back then. It’s a little different when you’re 44, when you’ve been in the business more than half your life … and when it’s your specific job, not your entire newspaper, which has just become defunct. And when the people responsible for giving you the news were a few dozen blocks away, calling you on your cell phone in the middle of a baseball game you thought you were going to write a column about for the next day’s paper.


To answer your question: yes, it felt just as bad as you imagine it would. To answer another of your questions: no, I have no real desire to visit the press box at an Orioles game any time soon. Next time, maybe I’ll be told that they’re foreclosing on my house during the seventh-inning stretch.


It’s sort of funny that even five days later, there were a lot of people in the news industry who thought it was an unconfirmed rumor: that three of the more than 40 Baltimore Sun staffers laid off on Wednesday, April 29, found out when their editors called their cell phones while they were at that fateful Orioles game. Let me confirm that definitively for everybody, because I was one of the ones who got that call, the second of the three, if my timeline is correct. A fourth got a similar call, but with the option of moving out of sports to return to a previous news reporter position. Otherwise, the list of injured bystanders was me, our other general sports columnist Rick Maese, and photographer Elizabeth Malby.


All of us had shown up at Oriole Park at Camden Yards that morning (for a 12:35 first pitch) heartbroken over a staff purge the previous afternoon and apprehensive about if, or when, another wave might come. I had seen a collection of goodbye emails from those staffers, mainly editors - including one of the best in my department, an experienced and invaluable voice in Ray Frager - that morning before I headed to the game. Other names I heard about on a phone call from a friend and former colleague while driving to the ballpark, seemingly sacred names, all of them presumably vital to the very act of putting the paper out every day, until that day at least.


The Sun contingent at the ballpark confirmed the rest of the names, including another longtime editor, George VanDaniker, whom I had just spoken to the afternoon before … to ask to leave me a parking pass for this game in my office mailbox. I had picked up the parking pass that morning, and thought that the security guard posted at the entrance to the walkway from the garage was there because of a recent spate of car break-ins. In hindsight, I probably should have been a little more attuned to the hints screaming out at me, instead of, you know, the game I had to write about later that day.


As game time approached, everybody was speculating about the next possible string of layoffs, with worst-case scenarios putting it at the end of the week. I was nervous, but a few of the others on hand were much more so, because they had come to the Sun since I had arrived and were sure they were the most vulnerable. I didn’t feel that much safer, and it was no relief whatsoever to think that they might be out in the street even if I would survive for the time being. It was impossible to think that your days there were suddenly numbered, no matter how big or small that number was.


Days? It turned out that what was numbered were our hours.


Not long before the game started, Liz left the press box and headed down to the field with all her gear, and we decided we’d talk later about what had gone on at the paper the day before. I made a couple of calls about columns I was planning for the weekend - Morgan State’s basketball coach signing a new contract and the first celebration of Negro Leagues Day at city hall on Saturday. Things got underway, and for a while, my predominant thought was how cold it was for late April, after several days in the 90s, and how a column idea wasn’t exactly jumping out at me so far.


Soon, Peter Schmuck, our columnist/blogger, told me that he had just been told to write live for the next day. That’s crazy, I said, we can’t have two columns from this game. There must be a mistake. Or some other news is breaking and I need to switch. Or my editor forgot that I told him I’d be here. Or something. Oh, it was something all right, but again, the giant hint just whizzed right over my head. Schmuck figured it was a mistake, too, and dashed off an email to tell our editor that we were both here, so let’s try to clear this up.


Not long after that, around 2 p.m., one of the other writers pulled me aside: “Maese just sent a text saying he got laid off." It was a perfectly legible sentence, but it made no sense to anyone there. It’s the middle of the game, they just had layoffs yesterday, he’s a prominent columnist … huh? It wasn’t anything to joke about, but it didn’t sound true at all. But he had, for the moment, disappeared from his seat.


I went back to my seat and saw that there was a message on my cell from the office. I hadn’t turned the ringer back up after the manager’s pre-game press conference, so I hadn’t heard it. The message: call back as soon as you get this. Good, I thought, we’ll straighten out this business of who is writing for the next day. Which, technically, is what happened. Still, apparently, I was either completely clueless or in total denial, I’m still not sure which.


It didn’t matter. I called back and got the voice mail. At 2:34 p.m. (that time-stamp is kind of stuck in my head for the time being), the office called back. I went into a hallway behind the press box and answered it with something like, “Hey, what’s up?’’ Or “What’s going on?’’ Along those lines.


My editor greeted me, paused, took a deep breath. “David, I’m sorry you have to be told this way …"


I actually doubled over. It wasn’t a sharp pain, and it wasn’t like I was about to get sick. It was more like a knot in my stomach. I know I said, “Aw, shit,’’ but I don’t know how loud I said it, apparently not loudly enough for my editor to take note of it. The rest is a little fuzzy, something about just now getting the list and the union and not wanting me to hear it from someone else and getting paid through the end of May and severance and human resources and return your possessions to us and thank you for your hard work and professionalism and blah blah blah.


Brief digression:


In October 1986, I was on a road trip to cover the Buccaneers-Chiefs game in Kansas City, and when my flight landed in Tampa the following night, the friend who picked me up at the airport was holding up a copy of the paper announcing it was going to merge with the St. Pete Times in a month or so. Back then, there were no cell phones, or at least I didn’t have one of those suitcase-sized ones. The editors knew I was traveling that day, so there was nothing else they could do.


In June 1991, I was at old Memorial Stadium, assigned to do the usual summary and notes for the game that night. I overheard two people in the press box saying what a shame it was that the National didn’t make it. I called my answering machine (again, no cell phones, or even pagers), and first heard a friend expressing the same sentiment, then an editor saying to call the office right away, the messages minutes apart. The main office was in New York, and reporters for the various editions were spread across the country. Teams of editors were working the staff phone lists as fast as they could, but no one had made it to “S’’ in time. Again, logistically, not much else could have been done. Both times, I thought I was just really unlucky to have two papers die from up under me at a young age.


For some reason, I stuck with it, moved around some more, worked my way up to columnist, then made it to the paper less than an hour up the road from where I grew up, the paper I felt I knew all about even if I didn’t see it every day, the paper I knew so many people at long before I ever started working there. A paper that got into huge trouble soon after I got there - and by “got into huge trouble,’’ I mean, “was bought by a so-called financial wizard who deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail’’ - but one I felt more attached to than any other one I’d been at.


And just like that, I was unattached, by phone, while on an assignment.


The next couple of hours were a flurry of shocked expressions and reactions, condolences, bitterness and dread, plus lots of phone calls to family members and friends whom, ironically, I didn’t want to hear the news from someone else. Rick - who is roughly the age I was when the National sank - looked as if someone had drained all the blood from his body.


The overriding theme from all concerned: “They couldn’t tell you to your face?’’


They had their reasons. Step back far enough and squint really hard and you can see them. As long as you ignore the fact that they made arrangements to get a replacement column into the paper long before they ever dialed my number. And the fact that if you go up high in the stands behind home plate, you probably can see the Sun building from Camden Yards. It’s not a plane flight away. It’s literally walking distance; Sun people with tickets had been making that walk since the ballpark opened. In fact, that day, not long after a water main had broken downtown and ground traffic to a halt, walking probably would have been faster.


Not that there is any good way to tell someone he’s been laid off, just as there is no good way to fire a manager. But there’s a way not to fire him - ask Willie Randolph. (I’m now in the market for a Willie Randolph Mets jersey to commemorate the occasion.)


Then, there is this to consider: the people ultimately responsible, for the gutting of the paper and the callous treatment of its employees, whether they were in the office at the time or not, are a plane flight away. Clearly, to them “Baltimore Sun’’ is just a line on a balance sheet. Or a bankruptcy claim, in this case. Practically speaking, none of us should even have had low expectations for how this would be handled. “No expectations’’ was probably shooting too high.


Eventually, I packed up to leave (since I now knew I didn’t have to write) and decided to send a goodbye email to the people back at the paper, and grab a couple of numbers for the editors let go earlier, Ray and George. I couldn’t log in. My email password had already been canceled.


So I gathered my things and went down the hall to where the photographers develop and send their shots from the game. Liz was in the back, on her computer, game photos on the screen, talking on her cell … to her editor. She tilted her head toward me. “I just got laid off,’’ she whispered.


“You too?’’ I replied.

David Steele is a sports columnist, formerly of the Baltimore Sun and San Francisco Chronicle. He may be reached at dcsteele@hotmail.com.





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I love Laffey in the bullpen, it worked beautifully last night. I still remember how great he looked in the playoffs coming out of the pen, hopefully the move really helps the team. Wedge and Shapiro are looking pretty creative, and since we have more quantity than quality, I definitely wouldn't mind seeing more of our young starters move to relief for some semblance of stability on the team.

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