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Weekly Podcast

December 12, 2023

Losing out on the Ohtani sweepstakes has Giants and Angels looking for plan B; Are the 49ers unstoppable? plus more news

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Big Star Free Agents Do Not Come to San Francisco

DEC 10, 2023
Last year, the Giants tried to lure free agents Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, but they failed; other big stars like Bryce Harper (when he was a Free-Agent) have spurned the Giants. It has become much more common now that many big-name free-agent players dislike coming and playing in San Francisco.

It is not the money because the players I am talking about get the cash they want anywhere. It could be about the reputation that San Francisco has nationwide nowadays. Could it be the City by the Bay social-political situation has become not a favorite destination for some of the game’s biggest stars?
Most of these big-name free-agent players that get those multi-million dollar contracts tend to be conservative or non-political, and sometimes San Francisco doesn’t ‘rub them well”. They are all aware of this because, in today’s communication world, there is more than enough information out there, especially in social media.

This is what Farhan Zaidi, GM of the Giants, told Sussan Slusser of the SF Chronicle last year: “When we’re doing our research on free agents, and we find that players aren’t really that happy even coming into town for a three-game series, they’re probably not going to be that excited to play there for a long time.

So I think that’s part of what fueled our strategy of targeting guys with Bay Area ties. … Free agency is really, really competitive, especially at the top of the market. Even when you think you can sign a player, you’re probably not; that’s how it works. So when you don’t think you’ll sign a player, you’re definitely not going to sign him.”

No team needed Ohtani more than the Giants, but he is also not coming here. After Shohei Ohtani signed with the Dodgers, another Japanese player remains of high value; it is pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the best pitcher in Japan; estimates of this 25-year-old pitching star are that he could earn as much as a $300 million contract, and the Dodgers (of course) will go after him to paired him with Ohtani as they both won the 2023 World Baseball Classic together and have been playing together for years now.

Other free agents are Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Jung-Hoo Lee, Teoscar Hernández, JD Martínez, Dylan Cease, Blake Snell, Corbin Burns, and Tyler Glasnow. Giants could use some more power in that lineup; Bellinger might be a good choice.

This 2023 off-season, the Giants went after Shohei Ohtani (who, like Aaron Judge last year, was the biggest fish to catch). Still, Ohtani decided to stay in Southern California and signed the richest-ever contract in American sports with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 10-year mega-deal for $700 million.
Another reason for Giants fans to hate the Dodgers, but at this time, the Giants fans cannot be pleased with their General Manager Pete Putila. Is he a victim of circumstances that are beyond his control? What can you do if you offer big money contracts but players do not consider your offers? The mega-stars are not coming to San Francisco.

Note: Tom Cruise made $100 million for “Top Gun: Maverick,” his most recent movie, a worldwide success. Ohtani is making $700 million in 10 years with the Dodgers, also in Hollywood.

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Ohtani is Going to Hollywood 10 Years For $700 Million

DEC 9, 2023
Today, Saturday, December 9, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed two-way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year $700 million contract. Largest ever in American sports.

During a wild and furious December 8, Friday afternoon, rumors swirled about the Toronto Blue Jays signing two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Some believed Ohtani had boarded a plane from Santa Ana, California, to Toronto, Canada.

Others refute such information, saying that Ohtani remained in Southern California. The Los Angeles Dodgers had their eyes on Shohei Ohtani since he was in high school in Japan. They made him the centerpiece of this off-season and will have him in the lineup in 2024. They hope to have him back after surgery to pitch in 2025.

The Dodgers will open the checkbook and invest over a half billion dollars on Shohei, and now they are after a pitcher or two who could help that rotation, which is short for the Dodgers; they are after Dylan Cease, and if they even want to spend more money, the Japanese free agent right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, which would be close to a $300 million investment. Yamamoto is just 25 years of age and the best pitcher in Japan. In seven seasons with the Orix Buffaloes, he is 70-29 with a sensational 1.82 ERA and 922 strikeouts.

The 2024 Major League Baseball season (MLB) is scheduled to begin on March 20–21 with a two-game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres held in Seoul, South Korea, before the regular season proper runs from March 28 to September 29. You can bet, Ohtani will be the DH for the Dodgers in Korea.

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Joe Castiglione Winner of the 2024 Ford C. Frick Broadcasters Award

DEC 6, 2023
Joe Castiglione, the Radio Voice of the Boston Red Sox, is the recipient of the 2024 Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasters. Castiglione has been the voice of the Red Sox since 1983. “It was a really ‘can you believe it” moment, he said during a brief conference call made by the Hall of Fame.

Castiglione is a humble broadcaster and one of the most recognizable voices in baseball, especially in New England. For a Boston Red Sox franchise record of 41 years, Castiglione has called Red Sox games on the radio. He is the longest-tenured broadcaster in Red Sox history; he is 76 years of age and was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2014.

Joe Castiglione has shared the microphone with partners including Bob Starr, Dave O”Brien, Jerry Trupiano, and Will Flemming while also teaching broadcast journalism at Northeastern University, Franklin Pierce University, and Emerson College.

Congratulations, Joe, well deserved.

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Gondola for the Dodgers

DEC 6, 2023
Remember when the A’s talked about building a Gondola to transport people to their future new home at Howard Terminal? It was in January 2019, and it was met with many bad jokes, primarily by cynical A’s fans. Something similar is in the works for the LA Dodgers to alleviate traffic to the games at Dodger Stadium. The Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit gondola was proposed by Aerial Rapid Transit Technologies LLC, an entity created by McCourt Global.

The company’s CEO is Frank H. McCourt, who owned the Los Angeles Dodgers and the stadium from 2004 to 2012. Originally, the LA gondola was said it would cost $125 million. Still, after all the environmental studies (as usually happens in costly California constructions), the cost now looks like a half-billion dollars for the project.

The aerial system would get fans from downtown to Dodger Stadium in about seven minutes, from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. Up to 5,500 people per hour in each direction, which means that 10,000 fans could be transported to Dodger Stadium two hours before the start of a game.

Anybody that has attended games at Dodger Stadium has experienced the incredible amount of traffic, going to a baseball park that averages about 47,000 fans per game. Dodgers have led MLB in attendance for a few years now.

No city in North America has more automobiles than Los Angeles, so a Gondola to Dodger Stadium is a practical and it is not a joke, it makes sense. Coincidentally, as projects go, if approved, the gondola would take thousands of fans from Union Station downtown to Dodger Stadium in seven minutes, just in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The gondola is planned to be inaugurated in 2028, the same year the Oakland Athletics plan to inaugurate their new ballpark in the Las Vegas Strip, but…without a gondola. Finally, and ‘for the record’, The City of LA to Dodger Stadium gondola was planned years before the Oakland A’s announced they wanted to have one for what was to be their new home at Howard Terminal.

Gondola Trivia: The original gondola has existed in Venice, Italy since the 11th century. It is estimated that there were eight to ten thousand gondolas during the 17th and 18th centuries, most over the canals of Venice. There are only 400 hundred in active service today. Most of them used by tourists.

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Weekly Podcast

December 5, 2023

Top Five Teams Pursuing Ohtani; Hinch Gets Long Term Deal with Tigers; plus more news

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Why Ontani Could Soon Be With The Dodgers

DEC 3, 2023
These are the three main reasons the two-way Japanese superstar could quickly sign with the Dodgers.

Why are the Dodgers the favorites to sign Shohei Ohtani? 1-He has repeatedly said he wants to stay on the West Coast. 2-He wants to be with a winner, and the Dodgers have won 10 divisional titles since 2013, three NL pennants, and a World Series, and they play here on the coast.

Three only a super-rich team can sign him, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of those teams, owned by the Guggenheim Baseball consortium. So, what is not to like for Ohtani?

It is well known by now that baseball sensation and free agent Shohei Ohtani is much more comfortable playing in southern California. He has played all of his six-year career at pitching-friendly Angel Stadium in Anaheim. If Angel Stadium is pitching-friendly, just 35 miles up Interstate Highway 5 there is a park that is even harder to hit a ball out, and that is Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Dodgers makes all the sense in the world for the fantastic two-way player to set his new home beginning this next 2024 season. It is expected Ohtani could make a decision as early as Monday, the fourth of December.

On Monday, December 4, the Baseball Winter Meetings begin in Nashville, Tennessee. Shohei Ohtani is the biggest catch possible, and the Dodgers are one of the favorite teams to land the Japanese star with a salary that could reach $600 million.

The Dodger’s biggest and most historic rivals, the San Francisco Giants, have the money and the desire to land that box office attraction, especially since last season they struck out twice with two biggies, first Northern California native Aaron Judge, who stayed with the Yankees, and later with Carlos Correa who signed with the Twins. In both cases, the Giants went public and told their fans they were after these two superstars.

For Giants fans, It was like dangling a piece of candy in front of a 3-year-old and then pulling it back. Ohtani’s agent is Nez Balelo, one of the top agents in the baseball business, who Forbes also lists as one of the most potent agents in the world. Balelo is in the class of super-baseball agent Scott Boras.
Winter Meetings are scheduled from December 4-7. There is more than a 50% possibility that Shohei Ohtani will be signing his new contract, which will be, by far, the biggest in baseball history and one of the biggest in all sports. The 2-time MVP had successful elbow surgery last September; he is expected to hit in 2024 and return to the mound in 2025.

Quote: -“MVP with ease. He should win it every year. What he’s doing is insane. All of us at the highest level can’t believe our eyes. Truly remarkable. Be thankful you get to witness a real GOAT” – Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman after Ohtani struck out ten players and hit two home runs in a win over the Chicago White Sox.

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KNBR Big Budget Cuts - Can Sportstalk Radio Survive?

DEC 1, 2023
In this fast-moving social media world, sports on the radio, mostly AM radio, are limited to live broadcasts of games, which figure to be the most profitable and popular. KNBR has been the sports leader in San Francisco for over half a century. This week, San Francisco’s KNBR management announced that it will no longer have a 6-10 PM show. F.P Santangelo was hosting, but not anymore.

In a post at X (formerly Twitter), the ex-major league player, sports talk host, and baseball commentator said it was due “to budget cuts”. Sportstalk radio is not as popular anymore. The proliferation of Podcasting has become one of the biggest enemies of the “old school” sports talk radio show formats. In 2021, over 82 million people listened to podcasts; by next year, it will reach over 100 million listeners.

Some other names that were laid off with Santangelo, Paul McCaffrey morning co-host, Danny Emerman sports reporter, Lee Hammer former program director, and the digital team. It was reported that McCaffrey’s co-host Brian Murphy upon learning the news took Friday’s morning show off “to collect his thoughts of what just happened.”

John Dickinson who formerly worked at 95.7 the Game will now do the Golden State Warriors post game shows at KNBR. JD worked at the Game for 12 years and seven months and seven days. He started at KNBR this week.

The 100 million would be approximately one-third of the country. WFAN radio in New York City is still the king of sports talk, working in the number-one media market in the country, and there are some others in Boston, Atlanta, and other large to medium to small media markets, but they are not as dominant as they were in the 1980s or even the 1990s.

This should not surprise anybody; the world of communications is ever-changing. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is already here. Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines or software, as opposed to the intelligence of humans or animals.

It may also refer to the corresponding field of study, which develops and studies intelligent machines, or to the smart machines themselves. It is already a controversial topic, and yes, it will eliminate many jobs, but it will also open new horizons.

Can Sportstalk radio survive? The answer is Yes, but it is in Intensive Care..

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Elefantes de CIenfuegos - Cuba’s Last Professional League Champion

Nov 30, 2023
Elefantes de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Elephants) was a Cuban baseball team that played in the old Cuban League from 1878 to 1961. In 1961, the last year of existence for the most popular winter league in the world, where many American-born stars also played with Cuban players after the primary league season.

In 1961, the Cuban communist government eradicated all professional sports, including professional baseball, which is the #1 sport on the largest island in the Caribbean. The Cienfuegos team won five Cuban League championships, including the last one in 1960-61; they also won two Caribbean Series, in 1956 and 1960.

Cienfuegos was one of the four teams that played in the Cuban Winter League, also Leones del Habana, (Havana Lions), Alacrames del Almendares (Almendares Scorpions) and Tigres de Marianao, (Marianao Tigers).

Although back then, Cuban baseball was very much like US baseball, and the green logo of the Elephants of Cienfuegos was not an affiliate of the Philadelphia, Kansas City, or Oakland A’s, who also had an Elephant as their logo. Below is the list of some players who proudly played for the Cienfuegos team; if you are a real baseball fan, you will recognize over 90 percent of these names.

Adolfo Luque, George Altman, José Azcue, Octavio “Cookie”Rojas, Martín Dihigo, Sandy Consuergra, Cool Papa Bell, Leo Cárdenas, Don Zimmer, Alejandro Olms, Sam Maglie, Camilo Pascual,Curt Roberts, Pedro Ramos, Willie Wells, Napoleón Reyes, Humberto “Chico”Fernández, Tomy González. Every team in the Cuban Professional Winter League had a distinctive narrative about their logo; in the case of the Elefantes de Cienfuegos it was: “El paso del Elefante es lento pero aplastante”. Translation- “The pace of the Elephant is slow but crushing.”

The Alacranes del Almendares, who had a Scorpion as their logo, read: “El que le gane al Almendares se muere” Translation- “Whoever beat Almendares will die”. The passion of the Cuban people ran high among fans of these four teams. Some people never sat down during a game; people would take bets on their team against the other team they were playing, and some fans were real characters.

Fans attending these games did it with pleasure and great passion and a celebration of the game. One of the best Cuban-born players in recent history made his debut with the Oakland A’s in 2012, Yoenis Céspedes, The Cuban baseball star had fled Cuba with other Cubans in search of a prosperous life with the opportunity and the freedom that is not available for the citizens of Cuba, it was not easy to escape as well as for Céspedes family who escaped later.

Céspedes, born in 1985 (25 years after Cienfuegos won the last Cuban title), only heard about this league from his parents and older folks. Quote: “My life has changed in many ways, both economically and personally. All major league players are accorded the respect they deserve.

In Cuba, it was not that way. National team players were not respected. The treatment was not adequate. -Yoenis Céspedes.

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Oakland Ballers - Rooted in Oakland

NOV 29, 2023
As the sign “Rooted in Oakland” is scheduled to be removed from the west wall of the Oakland Coliseum before the beginning of the 2024 season, another team has been rooted in Oaktown. They are the Oakland Ballers or the Oakland B’s.

The group says they have raised $2 million from investors and pledged to the community that they “will never leave Oakland.” Anybody can become a part owner of the team by contributing to this initial push. Like the NFL Green Bay Packers, the Packers are owned by more than 500,000 community shareholders. Owned by the city’s fans.

This Tuesday, the independent Pioneer League announced that it will add a new expansion team, the Oakland Ballers, to the newly planned Pacific West Division. The Pioneer League is an independent baseball league that operates in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States.

Its teams are not directly affiliated with Major League Baseball. It is designated as an MLB Partner League. So, Oaklanders can now claim: “We already have an expansion team.”

Starting in 2024, the Oakland Ballers will play in the Independent League. There are two types of professional minor league systems: Independent and Affiliated. The Ballers will be Independent and, therefore, not affiliated to any of the 30 major league teams.

This league is considered a Rookie-level league. And the teams are Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors, Rockey Mountain Vibes, and Billings Mustangs.

The Oakland B’ s are scheduled to begin their season in May 2024 and will play their home games at the Laney College baseball field in Oakland, with a capacity of approximately 800.

Throughout the season, each team plays in 96 games, from May to September, in a split schedule between the North Division (Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Glacier, and Idaho Falls) and the South Division (NoCo, Rocky Mountain, Grand Junction, Boise and Ogden. (This was before the recent announcement of the Oakland Ballers.

Some might consider this some kind of a joke, but it is not. People who like organized baseball can enjoy a new team in Oakland since the: “old team, the one that won four World Series in Major League Baseball since 1968, has decided to tell Oakland fans, “Adiós, nos vamos a Las Vegas”.

Ballers Rooted in Oakland?  As Yogi Berra would say, “Déjà vu all over again.”

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The Legacy of the Cuban Giants

NOV 24, 2023
Sixty-two years before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues, with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, the Cuban Giants were the first salaried African-American professional baseball club in the United States.

The team got its name because they played in Cuba during the winter of 1885-1886. There are 21 countries in Latin America, including Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean. All the players with the Cuban Giants were born in Cuba.

Throughout history, Cuba has been the first Latin American country with proven baseball talent. Not only the Cuban Giants ball club, but many US-born black players (who could not play in the US because of segregation) went to Cuba and played there and were welcome there.

Cuba, the country, has always been linked with the origins of American baseball. Anybody who researches baseball history will find that the Cuban League was one of the oldest baseball leagues in the world.

For decades, American major leagues kept black players off their roster. They were integrated into Cuba after the Spanish-American War in 1900. This increased after Cuba won its independence from Spain in 1902.

Esteban Bellán, a Cuban-born player of white skin, was the first Latino to play in a US-organized professional baseball league in 1871 with the Troy Haymakers; Bellán later served as player-manager in 1878 for the home Havana side and led his team to three championships in 1878-1879, 1879-80 and 1882-83. As a winter league in Cuba, the season begins in late winter one year and ends during early winter of the next.

As a young kid in Cuba, I remember going with my father to the Cuban Winter League games and watching such stars as Cuban-born Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso, the first black Latino player in MLB with the Cleveland Indians as a rookie in 1949, who later found his stardom with the Chicago White Sox. Miñoso played with the Marianao Tigers.

Many US born black players went to Cuba to play in this popular league. With the Cienfuegos Elephants, I remember outfielders Lou Jackson and Jim Williams, both African-American players. Cienfuegos had such established Cuban major league stars as Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos.
At the end of the 2023 season, there were dozens of Cuban players in the major leagues; many established stars and among the best, like Yordán Alvarez, José Abreu, Adolis García, Randy Arozarena, Yandi Díaz, Aroldis Chapman, Luis Robert Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

The great Willie Mays signed with the Almendares Alacranes, (one of the most popular teams in Cuba) in the winter of 1950, but he would never go to play in Cuba (then as a top prospect) because the United States Army drafted him to serve in the Korean War.

Quote: “I played in Cuba; it was the best winter league back then, not only because of talent, but they paid the best” -Bill Werle, told me personally. He pitched in the majors with the Pirates, Cardinals, and Red Sox. Born in Oakland, he lived in the Bay Area and worked as a major league scout for various organizations after he retired. Bill pitched in Cuba for the Marianao Tigers and won a championship in 1957-58 season.

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Weekly Podcast

November 20, 2023

How Serious is a Deal For A’s Playing Last 3 Years in San Francisco?; Dodgers Top Pick So Far For Ohtani

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Oakland Has Been a Successful Sports Town; Fisher Sends Dear John Letter to Fans

NOV 16, 2023
Today, the MLB owners unanimously approved Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas. One of the most popular used quotes in the world, not only in baseball but in every walk of life, engraved into our culture, is New York Yankee legend Yogi Berra’s famous, “It ain’t over ’till is over”.

With all respect to “Schools not Stadiums” the teacher’s Union in Nevada, who are still trying to derail the move, let’s face it… it is over. It did not surprise me that all MLB owners voted the same; the Yes vote for the Athletics to move to their fourth city in their storied franchise was expected. The A’s, from Philadelphia, with stops in Kansas City in 1954 and Oakland since 1968, are moving again in 2024.

However, Oakland’s professional sports history is still a very good one. Teams in Oakland won ten championships; the Oakland A’s won four World Series, the Golden State Warriors also won four NBA titles, and the Oakland Raiders won two Super Bowls. The only cities in the country with more combined championships in MLB/NBA/NFL are Los Angeles, Boston, and New York.

A’s owner, John Fisher, sent a letter today to Oakland A’s fans, thanking them for their support.
The Dear John letter’s first paragraph reads: I know that today is a challenging day with the vote by MLB owners allowing for the A’s relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas. I share many of those emotions – sadness that our team will be leaving its home since 1968, pride in what we have accomplished together on and off the field in Oakland, and hope and optimism about the future of the A’s in Las Vegas.

What else can I say that hasn’t been said yet? To be said, for like ten years now, we have heard all the opinions regarding the situation, and there are still other stories (I am sure) to be written.

Yes, it is sad for everybody here in Oakland and the A’s Bay Area fans, especially those who are very good A’s fans; it is terrible for the economy of Oakland, an economy in a situation today that many political commentators and experts in financial matters are comparing to the year 1979 with high gasoline and food prices, high living expenses, homeless all over the place.

By the way, two crazy wars are going on, and yes, the unemployment probably will get a little higher in Oaktown. A good friend of mine told me today, “BART is going to lose riders to the game and more money”, but it is more than BART. When a city loses a team, they’re losing a part of its identity, part of the fabric of the community, the total name recognition, and especially Oakland, as previously mentioned, has been a very prosperous city in Sports.

Except for one key, keeping them in Oakland. The A’s will play in Oakland in 2024, and my educated guess is that they might still work a deal with the City of Oakland to play in 2025, 2026, and maybe 2027 at the Coliseum until they inaugurate their stadium in Las Vegas.

However, that makes a lot of sense, and common sense is not abundant nowadays. So, who knows where the Athletics will play for the next four to five years since they built in Las Vegas. I even heard the suggestion of Mexico City.

Have a great weekend, and get ready for Thanksgiving!

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Weekly Podcast

November 7, 2023

Oakland Mayor Hoping to Sway Owners Vote With A’s Resolution; Schools Over Stadiums to Appeal Judge’s Ruling

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