On New Years Eve, he was working to trade Manny Banuelos to Atlanta. Now, in the heat of Super Week, he signs Scott Baker. Yes, that Scott Baker. Minor league contract. No harm, no foul.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
On New Years Eve, he was working to trade Manny Banuelos to Atlanta. Now, in the heat of Super Week, he signs Scott Baker. Yes, that Scott Baker. Minor league contract. No harm, no foul.
Friday, January 30, 2015
OK, I know what you're thinking: Duque, if you can't take the hype, stay out of the TV room. But it's not that simple. To escape the Super Bowl, you need a sensory deprivation tank, killer weed, and maybe a frontal lobotomy. It's not the "hype" that gets you. If the so-called "serious news media" simply ran honest Super Bowl ads, I could hack it. It's that wink-wink, self-indulgent, look-at-me-be-cool air of "serious news reporters," as they pretend to find meaning in stories that do nothing more than promote the NFL, which is even more evil than Vladimir Putin with a Oijah board, and which makes the hammy heirs and heiresses who own Major League Baseball teams look like marauding boys in the Wishbone version of "Lord of the Flies." Super Bowl Hype Week II is like a thousand Entertainment Tonights covering the People's Choice Awards, if hosted by the Real Housewives of wherever the hell the "real housewives" come from - Hell, I suppose. And the last two days of Super Hell Week - that's where we are now. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick...
For the last two weeks, the "serious news media" has trowled out fake relevance about "Deflategate," all the while privately assuring us that 1) It's Super Bowl time, hooray! 2) It's just a game, ha ha! 3) Boys are still boys, ha ha! 4) Maybe Katy Perry's bra will open, hooray! and 5) Our panel of experts will rate the new ads, yippee! The NFL stretches one overly extended game into a two-week block of American brainwashing, if my car had snow tires, I'd drive to Bristol, Connecticut, and sniper the damn place, or at least subject somebody - anybody - to an old-fashioned waterboarding.
Soon, it will be over. We can briefly forget the spouse-beatings, the racist "Redskins," the brain damage of concussions, the lapdance-loving Jerry Jones, deflated balls, the woeful Jersey Giants, everything, everything - and start awaiting the first torn elbow of Tampa - yes, the first media riot around A-Rod's expensive car... the first old fart to arrive in "the finest shape of his career." (Remember how they claimed Andruw Jones had moved in with A-Rod and taken up his workout schedule, looking to reclaim his "Hall of Fame" level career?) The first home run by Zolio Almonte - wait! WE DON'T HAVE ZOLIO ALMONTE ANYMORE!
Two more days. Do they even sell sensory deprivation tanks?
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Moncata is a 19-year-old SS likely destined for Triple A. They say $30 million should do it... but jeez, I donno about that. This is no weekend at the Scranton Airport Ramada. Several wallets lie in the bushes - the Braves, Dodgers, Giants and Redsocks, most notably - and I gotta believe bidding will soar above the drone altitudes that Hal has avoided this winter. Thus far, whenever a premium free agent hit the market, Brian Cashman pointed to the rancidly cooked contracts of A-Rod, Tex and CC - and made a high-pitched shriek reminiscent of a pod person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (He can't point to McCann, Beltran and Ellsbury; they're too fresh in our minds.) The Yankee front office mantra is simple: Whenever something goes wrong, it's A-Rod's fault. And if we can't afford Moncata, you better believe they'll claim it's all due to A-Rod.
Let's be clear on this: If the Yankees fail to land Moncata, it's on Hal.
Yesterday, media prospect low-life Keith Law posted his annual rankings of MLB farm systems. Yes, these rankings are rancid. But they serve to remind Yankee fans to take off the blinders and compare our prospects to those on other teams. His analysis is not pretty: The Yankees rank 20th. Yep... the bottom tier. Yankee love-blogs gush over Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird - each likely to make Baseball America's top 100 prospects list - but ignore the fact that Boston may land five players on that list, with several arriving before our first is even named. To actually be considered a "young team on the rise," the Yankees have a long way to go.
That is, unless they sign Moncata, who would instantly become our top position prospect, if not our best prospect, period. He might land in BA's Top 20 - maybe the Top 10. If the Yankees snag him, we may actually see a light at the end of the tunnel that is not Randy Levine's fiery hairpiece, as he drives his Lexus erratically home from the whiskey bar.
Without Moncata - well - we are stuck where we've been for the last five years: Hoping for somebody to have a breakout season. We've gone through Mason Williams (several times), Dante Bichette, Cito Culver, Slade Heathcott, Gary Sanchez (a hundred times), Manny Banuelos... and now we have our new no-names. We just keep waiting.
Soon, it will come down to Hal Steinbrenner's greatest talent: Hauling out his checkbook. We sat out Max Scherzer, the Kung Fu Panda, and practically everybody else. If we sit this one out, it's going to be a long and tedious summer - not only in the Bronx, but maybe in Scranton and Trenton.
The two most successful franchises in baseball history are the Yankees and Cardinals. But they did in different ways. The Yankees basically bought their tradition. The Cardinals developed players on the farm.
Today, the Cards look - as usual - vibrant and strong. The Yankees - well - they look like last year's team, with A-Rod instead of Jeter.
How do the Cardinals do it? And why can't the Yankees? We've been hearing since 2005 how the Yankees planned to build a championship franchise, without outspending the competition by $50 million. With luxury taxes kicking in, the Yankee money advantage is slipping away. What the hell is wrong with the Yankees?
Well, let's look at the two front offices.
This is the Cardinals masthead - which reflects the top-down power of decision-making. Former players or career scouts - so called "baseball men" - are bracketed in red.
This is the Yankees masthead. Same deal: The "baseball men" are bracketed in red.
That's right. One. And Mark Newman - taking the hit for the shameful performance of the farm system - is retiring. (Brian Cashman played in college and was never a scout. His real career is in office politics.)
The top of one organization is full of baseball people. The top of the other is comprised of vice presidents of whatever.
Which organization do you think makes more money? And which do you think puts more emphasis on baseball?
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
"There are eight stars on the NFL's logo. They stand for the long-term mental and physical trauma of its own people, the eagerness to lie about that trauma, the stubborn refusal to offer the assistance they deserve, the unmistakable contempt of women, the proud defense of a racial slur, the weird financial paradise of a for-profit disguised as a non-profit, the $168.57 a schoolteacher spends on his own supplies for his second-grade class because Roger needs tax money to pour some more concrete by the waterfront, and probably the Dallas Cowboys. It's the uncommon ethical catastrophe that possesses both the gall and the organization to trademark itself."
The only thing good about the Super Bowl:
Let's face it: We all thought Syracuse would clean up this week during the "potentially historic" storm. It didn't happen.
Buffalo entered Juno leading by 11 inches. It's now a foot.
There's plenty of snowball yet to play. But Buffalo - now lead by Rex Ryan instead of Mr. Loyalty, Doug Marone - is not going south for the winter.
Unless the Yankees release him - definitely a possibility - A-Rod will bypass the beloved Willie Mays on the all-time home run list sometime in May. He only needs six. At that point, the Yankees and A-Rod (with help from the heretofore toothless Players Union) will go to war over whether the Yankees must pay the bonuses they laid out in his contract extension.
Some burning A-Bomb questions:
1. If the legal questions remain unanswered - and if Alex is hitting poorly - would the Yankees front office order Joe Girardi to bench the guy, denying him the milestone? Last season, the team ditched Brian Roberts on the eve of his reaching a contractual bonus for at-bats. If the team is rancid, or if A-Rod is hitting .200 - (even worse than his DH replacement, Chris Young) - anything could happen. They might pull the plug and save some nickels.
2. Will the Yankees order John Sterling to tone down his HR calls for "Alexander the Great?" Clearly, John is a company man - never misses a game, never misses an in-game promo - he definitely reads the memos. But could Sterling tone down his call of an A-Bomb? What if A-Rod's milestone is a walkoff grand slam? Could John not go batshit crazy? This is like a mother bear forced to choose which of her cubs will survive. Humankind has never seen such a psychological test.
3. Will ESPN break in nationwide for his at-bats? Will the Yankees be the regular Fox Game of the Week? It's hard to imagine the country breathlessly awaiting A-Rod's moment. But there will be enormous curiousity over this. (I'm already curious, see?) Will A-Rod be cheered or booed? If he hits it in Boston, we know the reaction. What if it's in NYC? Or Miami? Or Seattle? Or San Francisco?
4. What dignitaries will be present? Theoretically, Willie should be there. The Commissioner of Baseball - Manfred Mann, I think the name is - should be in first base box, with New York Mayor Al Sharpton, and Governor Sheldon Silver. Somebody from the San Francisco/New York Giants - Tom "Coach for Life" Coughlin maybe - should be on hand.
As for the home plate greeting party? The Captain, Derek Jeter, must be there. Maybe Mariano, too. Nobody would boo them. Jason Varitek, mask still on, can be wanting to tussle. Bronson Arroyo will slap him on the back. That Toronto Blue Jay infielder - the one who dropped the popup - will yell "Ha!" Curt Schilling can give us a lecture on ethics. Pedro Martinez can bean him. The holy trio - Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz - can push popcorn in his mouth. Hideki Matsui will present freshly commissioned porn, and Alex will be led to the opposing dugout, where he can pee on the floor. Steiner Collectibles will sell urine droplets for $49.95.
Of course, Hal Steinbrenner will be circling the frozen globe in his Snowpiercer train, refusing to answer calls. Dammit: That bonus money could be spent on clam dip! And Brian Cashman, if he's not rappeling down a wall - trying to save his soul for a charity - will try to undercut the media event by signing a new Yankee dream player off the scrap heap - maybe Domingo Jean will make a comeback!
For two years now, the Yankees have marketed farewell tours. When you consider all the mid-season acquisitons, the mediocrity of their opening day lineups is truly staggering. And this year, nobody needs to look beyond the starting rotation to see where all of this is going. Nevertheless, the Yankees will have one last great marketing ploy: What to do about A-Rod? Every day will be Media Day. And God help us all if he does have crabs.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
This is the Ancient Mystic Book of the Dead of write-ups about the Yankee system. You'll end up knowing more about Luis Severino's cat than you will about the Republican Congress. If you start now, you'll finish around the time Bryan Emery's trainer reaches Vegas. Ahh, but it's so delicious, reading about those future Yankee stars (which do not include Gary Sanchez, the spawn of Ice Cream Sandwich.)
2. Sign Max Scherzer.
3. Sign anybody who costs a lot of money.
4. Run out of authentic Yankee Stadium dirt to sell.
5. Waste an entire year "rebuilding,"
6. Decrease the number of promotions during radio games.
8. Grow beards.
9. Let John Sterling manage a game, (as he rightfully should.)
LET STERLING MANAGE.
One game. The man has given this team incredible loyalty, and he has suffered more than enough. Right now, he's living out of his car, but he's still thinking about the Yankees, and it's time for the team to give back.
LET STERLING MANAGE!
Monday, January 26, 2015
2. Black ice
4. Canadian Express
5. Champagne powder
7. Closing the Thruway
8. Coming Down
16. Freezing rain
18, Frozen water
26. Hard pack
31. Lake Effect
32. Loose granular
33. Old Man Winter
36. Packed powder
38. Polar Express
39. Polar Vortex
40. Siberian Express
41. Skiing weather
49. White stuff
50. Winter Storm Advisory
51. F**K THIS S**T!
"Why did Derek Jeter die?": The wise and terrifying analysis of the Yankees, according to Google search questions
Have you ever wondered what Google knows about us, based on their algorithmic analyses of our searches? I thought I'd see what they know about the Yankees? For example, type in a simple open-ended question... and Google supplies the punch.
Why do the Yankees wear polyester? From what inquiring minds did that come? It gets a little weirder if you merely change the tense...
Hmm. People wondered why we released Soriano? Well, he stunk out the joint. That's why. Why did we retire 8 twice? Yogi and Dickey. OK, let's look into the future...
Now we know why the Yankees won't meet with A-Rod: They're planning to weasel out of the contract they signed
This morning's Daily News reports that the Steinbrenners want to void the contract they themselves foisted upon A-Rod, after he opted out of his old deal in October of 2007 - a move that angered the Yankiverse so much that most fans were happy to see him go. But the Yankee brass, guided by Warren Buffett, cobbled together a set of incentives designed to keep the wayward slugger in the bunker. Today's story - by-lined by Billy Madden, though obliviously re-written, because it has none of his bluster - says the Yankees are planning to go to war.
Now, the Yankees will argue that Rodriguez signed the agreement under false pretenses and has rendered the marketing opportunities worthless based on years of lies, deception and, finally, admission to DEA agents last year that he had paid $12,000 a month to Anthony Bosch for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
You can look at this any way you wish. And those who hate A-Rod - seriously, who doesn't? - can see 25 million reasons per season to scrap the old deal and fight this out in court. The article goes on to mention one final phase of the A-Rod battle - the trial of his cousin - which looms on the Yankee horizon like an iceberg the size of Manhattan.
Oh, my, God.
Wall to wall coverage of the A-Rod trial... as the season gets underway.
For. Get. A. Bout. It.
At last, we can where this is headed. A-Rod will never again swing a bat for the Yankees. Our cleanup hitter will be Chase Headley. Whatever A-Rod does, it will be for someone else... because the Yankees - the wannabee Evil Empire - are simply too pure and pristine to let someone like him soil their roster.
It's no fun defending A-Rod. These days, truth be told, it's no fun rooting for the Yankees.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
We can't win.
*Note: Lilly did one thing that will forever endear him to pinstripes. When the Angels plunked Derek Jeter, Lilly responded by drilling Scott Spezio in the head. That ended the dispute. And we never should have traded him.
Your former star slugger, with whom you are contractually and surgically joined at the hip for three more years, calls to ask for a meeting - to break the ice, clear the air, bury the hatchet, blow off steam, bite the bullet and get back to square one. It's a good thing, right? He'll bring the 12-pack of Saranac, you'll furnish the Colorado sour diesel, and Hal will unveil his magic mushrooms. By 2 p.m. you'll be playing naked Twister, and by 5 o'clock, you'll be best of friends again.
If reports are to be believed, the Yankee front office is saying no. They won't meet with A-Rod. No talking to the enemy.
Beyond this being childish, it conjures up a common view that the Yankees will dump A-Rod first chance they get. They will use any excuse to void his contract, waive his butt or embarrass him. They can bench him. They can send him to Scranton. They can rip him via some toady Gammonite. They'll be cheered by at least half the fan base, if not the majority. There are ways to punish A-Rod for his true crime of stealing the Steinbrenners' hard-inherited money. But I ask one question:
Does this seem smart?
Full disclosure: I think the Yankees will suck this year. In fact, I see one ridiculously long shot that could save the 2015 team: A-Rod returning to a semblance of his old self. Mind you, I don't expect it to happen. But if A-Rod hits, we will be light years ahead of the alternative DH: Chris Young. God help us there. Considering the rotation, unless the Yankees find hitting, the 2015 season could evolve into baseball's version of the New York Knicks.
Right now, we are not just standing on the brink of a third straight season of missing the playoffs. We are looking out at deep, black precipice of ugliness.
So the front office is saying no to a meeting? I dunno. Maybe it's a psychological ploy to keep A-Rod on edge. Maybe they'll meet in Tampa next month, shake hands and form a united front. But something tells me otherwise. And no matter what he has done, the Yankees can only blame themselves for giving him that outlandish 10-year-deal. If the team is now trying to shame him, it should beware: Because every future free agent player in the game will take notice.
No talking to the enemy? Do we go into the season at odds with the one guy we need to hit?
Does this seem smart?
Saturday, January 24, 2015
But Syracuse - the perennial upstate snow dynasty - only scored 0.9 - down by 11 inches.
Forget the other cities. They are the Padres, Marlins and Astros.
Watch the skies.
Still, McDaniel is the real deal. And he ranks the Yankees as about the 11th best system in MLB (last year, it was 20th.) This is good news. It's taken three years, but we might have turned the corner.
Monday, he'll write his analysis. It might be the most hopeful news we've had all winter. (Unless the front office uses this as an excuse to pass on Yoan Moncata.)
Here's a new phrase for Daily News columnist Bob Raissman to describe "Pa Pinstripe" John Sterling: "Consummate pro."
Here's a Raissmanic pellet bomb from 2006:
When Melky Cabrera made a spectacular catch off the bat of Manny Ramirez, it also became clear that the world is a safer place because John Sterling (above) is a radio play-by-play man. For if Sterling descended upon God’s green Earth as a Seeing Eye dog, well, the poor owner of this mutt would be – at best – constantly walking into walls or – at worst – crossing the street directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
So let's ponder the dynamic two nights ago in the cold concrete of New Jersey. Here is Raissman, working the phones on the night shift, calling to ask about the fire that has just destroyed everything Sterling owns. Put yourself in John's shoes: You're watching your life go up in flames, and here is a guy who has buttered his bread with your reputation. Do you take the call? Do you vent on the guy? Or do you just let it go to VoiceMail?
Well, of course John took the call. He gives Raissman the story and some nice quotes. And did anyone think that Sterling would ever walk away from a microphone or a mouthpiece? This is a guy who hasn't missed a game since George H.W. Bush was President. In the morgue, the medical examiner won't need to poke a needle in Sterling to test for life reflex. He'll just say, "Here comes Jeter," and if the body doesn't start talking, they'll know he's dead. Sterling is many things. At the top of the list, he is the consummate pro.
And as far as I can see, two nights ago, Sterling did exactly what he always does - for better or worse: He talked from the heart.
Sterling's on-air persona balances on two giant boulders: his enormous ego, and his love for the Yankees - the kind of love a moose has for his flying squirrel. Sterling wears his heart on his sleeve, whether the Yanks are six runs behind, or his life is tatters.
We often mock Sterling on this site. I consider it one of the most delicious aspects of being a Yankee fan. But when the Yankees lose - and we are railing at our demons - we're never alone. And to folks who really do hate Sterling: Be careful what you ask for, because when he's gone, you'll spend countless hours describing him... and they won't believe you.
Oh, and when you're talking about him, remember two words: "Consummate pro."
Friday, January 23, 2015
Play the game via Madden Football.
Give each star a joystick and a rumble-pack console,
and let the teams play in a bar.
Script the game like pro wrestling.
Have the teams go shirtless,
"battering" each other on every play.
Nobody gets hurt, except for in the fourth quarter
when they break out the staple gun.
Ditch football; let them bowl.
Last year, right around now, they unveiled unto Robbie Cano the Ten-Year-Pact - a contract so ridiculously odious that not even the Yankees, generally the gold standard for long term mistakes, decided not to top it.
This year, Seattle sat in a corner and pretended to read "Gravity's Rainbow," while the great Ichiro Suzuki - the finest player in Mariner history and a future Hall of Famer - knocked on doors, requesting a chance at winning a job.
Go away, they said. Not interested.
Nope. They were so excited about the 35 pounds lost by Jesus "Ice Cream Sandwich" Montero that they started printing 2015 playoff tickets, and when they were done, they didn't have any more ink in their pens to draw up a contract for their greatest historical icon.
Go away. No room here.
Thankless in Seattle.
Seven years from now, Ichiro will go to Cooperstown with a massive crowd, most of which will be wearing Mariners caps. He wear one, too - because that's the way it should be. He deserves to go in with a Seattle cap - just as he deserved to leave baseball in one, during his final incarnation.
Nope. Go away. No room here.
Well, here's a prediction for 2021, when Ichiro dons that Mariners cap for his final, farewell party.
That year, one certain person will NOT be wearing a Seattle cap: Robbie Cano.
Nope. After his first bad season - he'll have a few - they'll trade him for a pack of cigarettes and an autographed Jay-Z record. And if Robbie expects loyalty - well - he's gotten a nice view of it, Mariners style.
2. Program scoreboard to award Jets only 5 points for TD.
3. Hypnotize Bills into drafting E.J. Manual.
4. Extend Ravens' first-down chain to 11 yards.
5. Laser beam controls coin toss.
6. Live ammo in Broncos' confetti cannon.
7. Trick Washington owner into naming team "Redskins."
8. Send Gronkowski back in time to die repeatedly, meet Emily Blunt, learn secret of winning.
9. Roger Goodell receives "interesting" photos of Roger Goodell.
10. Replace Tom Coughlin with red-faced, hand-waving robot.
After all, these were the barefoot, whale-hearted souls of the Redsock Nation, a people who understood suffering like no others in history - except for maybe the Shakers, who died out because they refused to have sex.
For the last two years, a blistering chorus from the Redsock/Belichick continuum has demanded that the Yankees forfeit the 2009 World Championship, because A-Rod was caught juicing in 2012. They say once a cheat, always a cheat.
Well, maybe it's time to extend that line of abstract reasoning to the Redsock/Belichick administration. They were caught cheating against Indianapolis because the Baltimore Ravens tipped off the Colts. Which means they were probably cheating against everybody... for a long, long time.
Considering that secret Redsock/Belichick operatives were deflating balls, one has to wonder what were they doing in baseball, too, in 2013, when Boston conveniently won its World Series?
It's time for the NFL to go Joe Paterno on the Redsock/Belichick Axis of Adultery:
I'm calling for: A complete forfeiture of the Patriots 2014 season, elimination of the team's 2015 draft... AND elimination of the 2015 Redsock draft.
It's time to show the Redsock/Belichick demagogues of deceit that they will held accountable for their misdeeds - and not just in the next life, but this one. You know I bet is in the middle of this? Curt Schilling. He's the E. Howard Hunt of this whole thing. Follow the hot air, NFL investigators. Follow the air.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
"You know, we can all relate to having our own safe existence, and what it could mean if that’s taken away. At least I know I’m safe tonight. I don’t have a toothbrush, but I’m safe.”
... And secure.
And you can keep your family safe and secure... with New York Life.
(Sorry. Too soon, I know. Can't help myself.)
Thoughts are with The Master today. He lost everything but the shirt on his back.
ARod: Yeah. Clear shaving cream. I know that stuff.
Barry: With linseed oil!
ARod: Twice-a-day! Cures skin rashes. Yeah, I know that stuff.
Barry: You ever try it?
Barry: Same here.
ARod: You'd get in trouble.
Barry: As you should!
ARod: I might know a guy who tried it.
Barry: Same here. So... how did your... guy... like it?
ARod: He could run through a brick wall.
Barry: Rip fire hydrants out of the sidewalk, right?
ARod: He could overturn cars! At least, that what he said. I wouldn't know.
Barry: Hey, A... you ever think about the Hall?
ARod: Hall of Fame? Pfft. That's for sissies. I wouldn't go in if they begged me.
Barry: I wouldn't go in to take a dump.
ARod: I'd go in to pee on the floor, like at my cousin's. That would show 'em. Hey, you ever know a guy named Headley?
Barry: Headley Lamar?
ARod: Chase Headley.
Barry: I know a Chase N. Sandborn?
ARod: Headley. From San Diego. He wants my job.
Barry: So... whatcha gonna do? Some of that... um... shaving cream?
ARod: I got a bad rash....
Barry: Well, I don't know about that... But I got a friend...
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Watching Obama last night, I couldn't help but be reminded of the time when The Master was called upon to protect and serve his President
From 2012 (via Reddit): The famous "HERE COMES THE PIZZA" controversy.
"Oh, God, no," Schilling replied. "I think there's a belief that what he did, he did his entire career."
As I read this, I thought, Wow, this is how you do it: Just use the caveat, 'there's a belief that...' and you can say anything about the guy.
I don't mean to hit on Schilling, (though it always is fun.) But Schilling is a pro pundit. That's how he makes his living, and considering his history, he's not going to make it in business. Also, Schilling exemplifies a commonly expressed view about A-Rod: That he is a serial cheat: He cheated in Seattle, he cheated in Texas, and he cheats in NYC. Once a cheat, always a cheat. Cheat, cheat, cheat...
Are they right about A-Rod? Truth be told, I dunno...
Trouble is, neither do they. That doesn't stop them from saying it - as long as they use their caveats.
Which brings me to the mighty New England Patriots, the flagship franchise of modern pro football. The news today says the NFL found that 11 of 12 balls were under-inflated during last weekend's victory over Indianapolis. Everyone is quick to point out that the Pats destroyed the Colts, so this in no way will impinge upon the all-important Katy Perry Pepsi Halftime Show.
But if we apply the A-Rod historical standard of cheating here, the esteemed pundits and patrons of the NFL might want to figure out how the Patriots circumvented league security protocols, and for how long they have been doing it? Because if it was done last weekend, what are the odds they never did it before?
Because somewhere, there is a belief that maybe they have done it before.
Also... if you think about it, tampering with game balls is about as evil as cheating gets. Let's remember that if A-Rod was juicing in Seattle, he was doing it at a time when juicing was NOT banned by the game, and it was a relatively common practice on some teams. (It will take a generation of deathbed confessions to fully know how many players did it.) But tampering with a ball? Wow. Not only does it give your team an advantage, but it negatively impacts the other guys' performance - and thus, their careers. Also, it's not the work of a lone wolf: It's a franchise-level commitment to cheating. It's planned. It's plotted out. It's the gold standard for cheating.
And for that, the NFL might take away a future New England draft pick? Wow.