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Boras finally finds out he's not bigger than game

As offseason news goes, will we ever see a day rivaling Thursday again? No. 25 gets indicted by the Feds, thankfully assuring his career is done. Derek Jeter runs afoul of the tax man by claiming he lives in Florida, even though everyone on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side routinely sees him coming and going from his $12.7 million townhouse. Mariano Rivera gets in a snit because Hank Steinbrenner said a 38-year-old shouldn't be offended by a three-year, $45 million offer (good point).

But I'm most fascinated with the way Alex Rodriguez kissed and made up with the Yankees after their parting was such sweet sorrow last month. For 10 years and $275 million, I'm sure you and I would find it in our hearts too.

A-Rod belongs with the Yankees, largely because no one else was going to come up with this kind of coin. And there's no one else like him to be the face of the franchise heading into their new stadium in 2009.

A-Rod and the Yankees thus do fine on my scorecard. The biggest loser is mega agent Scott Boras, who has spent the last three weeks backtracking from the foolish decision to make A-Rod's opt-out official the night of the clinching game of the World Series.

You should have seen the furious looks on the faces of reporters and MLB officials that night in Denver's Coors Field. Boras went too far this time, his quick apology the next day was moot. Several close Yankee watchers say A-Rod was upset too and stunned to hear Hank Steinbrenner say his Yankee days were over.

Boras finally broke the market with his ridiculous feeling that A-Rod is a $300-350 million player. A-Rod and his wife restarted negotiations with the Yankees on their own, and the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that A-Rod followed the advice of billionaire and friend Warren Buffett by going around Boras and contacting the Yankees.

Buffett is chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of The Buffalo News. Buffett and executives from Goldman Sachs, who own a stake in the YES Network, acted as intermediaries to get the sides talking.

The agent came back into play only as the discussion turned to revenue sharing when A-Rod claims the all-time home run record. So for once, Scott Boras is not bigger than the game. It's about time.


Questionable call

Mark Feinsand, the outstanding Yankees beat writer/blogger for the New York Daily News, was one of two voters who left Boston's Josh Beckett completely off his three-man Cy Young Award ballot. The other was from USA Today. But the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry makes Feinsand's ballot (Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona and Anaheim's John Lackey) look far more grievous.

No one, of course, would have voted for anyone but Beckett if the award included the postseason. But it's regular-season balloting only. Feinsand defended his choice by noting that Sabathia pitched 41 more innings and had five more quality starts than Beckett.

"Look, I went to B.U. [Boston University]," Feinsand told the Boston Globe. "I have a lot of friends in Boston. The last month of the season, one of my good friends up there tried to convince me to put Beckett on my ballot. I looked over the numbers carefully, and decided Sabathia, Carmona, and Lackey were more deserving.

"The ballot is supposed to be secret, but I told my friend I left Beckett off. So when the playoffs started and Beckett did what he did and Sabathia struggled, my friend called me up after every game and said, 'So how do you like your Cy Young candidate now?' "

Writers serving as voters continues to be a shaky proposition at best. Now Curt Schilling has a clause in his 2008 contract that he gets a $1 million bonus for one measly Cy Young vote next year. No writer should be making that decision.

And no matter how well thought out Feinsand's reasons are, he looks ridiculous. If I were voting based on the regular season, I probably would have picked Sabathia, too. But Beckett's not in your top three? Wow. Give Feinsand this much: At least he didn't vote for Chien-Ming Wang either.


Wedge gets edge

The writers got Sabathia right but other pitchers had some legitimate arguments. There was no argument about the choice of Indians skipper Eric Wedge as Manager of the Year. Terry Francona and Joe Torre had veteran-laden lineups and deep pitching staffs.

Wedge, meanwhile, weaved through a minefield of a season. It included liberal and necessary use of unprovens who started the year in Double-A and came through Buffalo, and a seasonlong battle with the schedule that started with four April snow outs.

By August, when the Indians were starting to get into a funk, Wedge snapped them back to attention with a neatly timed and uncharacteristic verbal blast after a loss to the Tigers. The Indians went 31-12 the rest of the way to run away with the AL Central. Wedge said Thursday that more was made out of that speech than he thought should have been.

"There's not much that comes out of my mouth without a thought process to begin with," Wedge said. "When I'm talking to you guys, I just assume everybody is going to read it, including the players. I've got so much respect for the people that play this game. It's just that sometimes you take a different avenue to get [the message] home."

Wedge had a terrific season and it carried into the postseason. At least until the final three games against the Red Sox. Too bad he had no control over the flameouts of Sabathia and Carmona or the ill-fated decision by Joel Skinner to hold Kenny Lofton at third base in the seventh inning of Game Seven.


Around the horn

*Former Bisons legend Jeff Manto, deposed as the Pirates' hitting coach in the housecleaning that included manager Jim Tracy, has signed to become the roving minor-league hitting instructor for the White Sox. The Pirates, meanwhile, hired former St. Bonaventure pitching coach Kyle Stark as their director of player development.

*Boston catcher Jason Varitek gave the ball from the final out of the World Series back to Jonathan Papelbon but the closer has no idea what happened to it. Said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein of the team's newest final-out ball controversy: "I have no idea where the ball is and don't really care. I hope that's a recurring problem for us."

*Outfielder Ben Francisco, the Bisons' first batting champion since 1990, was named to the Topps Triple-A All-Star team. Francisco posted a .318 batting average to become the first Buffalo player to win an International League batting crown since Ted Savage in 1961. Mark Ryal batted .334 for the Herd in 1990 to take the American Association title.


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