Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's the news for this Wednesday evening. But scroll down the page for your weather and sports. Have a good night, and we hope to have you here tomorrow. :)

Evening Planner

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Big increase in Interleague games unlikely in '13

Season-long Interleague Play, set to begin in 2013 as a result of the Houston Astros' move to the American League, won't result in the sort of dramatic increase in AL vs. National League games that some have predicted, said the Major League Baseball official in charge of the schedule.
MLB senior vice president Katy Feeney said teams are likely to play "about the same number" of Interleague games under the new alignment. In 2011, AL teams played 18 apiece and NL teams played 15-18.

"All of that is still to be finalized, but there's not right now, in general, a feel from the players' side or the management side to increase the number of Interleague games," Feeney said. "It will probably be close to the number we currently play."

Those games will simply be spread out over the entire regular season, instead of focused into periods in May, June and July, as they have been since Interleague Play debuted in 1997.

That's by necessity. Under the new alignment, with the Astros moving from the NL Central to the AL West for the 2013 season, each league will be comprised of 15 teams, with three divisions of five teams apiece. Supporters of the shift say it increases fairness and creates a natural intradivision rivalry between the Rangers and Astros in Texas. But as a result of an odd number of teams in each league, on a day that all 30 clubs are active, MLB would have to schedule at least one Interleague game.

When MLB Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig announced the Astros' move following Owners Meetings in Milwaukee on Nov. 17, various proposals had been advanced to make the pieces fit, some of them predicting as many as 30 -- or even 40 -- Interleague games per club. That led to questions about a fundamental shift in the way general managers construct their teams, with arguably a lesser impact of the designated hitter in the AL -- would free-agent DH David Ortiz, for example, carry quite the same clout if an AL team played twice as many games without a DH? Conversely, would NL GMs put a higher value on bench players who could hit?

Under one concrete proposal, teams would play 18 games against each of the other four teams in their division (for a total of 72 games), plus 60 games against teams from their league's other two divisions and 30 Interleague games.

"Thirty is a number that works," Feeney said, "but what people forget to look at when they're throwing out schedules is that it's not just the number of games, it's the number of series you play. Unless you extend the season, and there's also not much desire to extend the season ... you suddenly have more of what we call 'squeeze weeks' if you go to 30 [Interleague games]."

Squeeze weeks are the ones in which teams play three series in a single week -- usually two two-game series and one three- or four-game series. They are unpopular with players and coaches because of the travel and preparation challenges they present.

Scheduling models with 30 Interleague games for each team, Feeney said, would necessitate more squeeze weeks.

MLB officials are currently working on different scenarios. In recent seasons, the schedule for all 30 teams has been released en masse in September, but Feeney said the new structure will have to be settled well before then.

"Whether we release it publicly before that, I don't know," she said.

Baseball has a head start on this challenge because it was studied before the 1998 season, when the Rays and D-backs were born as expansion franchises and the Brewers moved to the NL. In the months before that realignment, MLB studied placing 15 teams in each league.

The process of setting the schedule has become much more computerized since the late 1990s, Feeney said, but still involves a degree of handwork to fix travel issues and accommodate certain club requests. She works with two separate committees on the project.

"Every schedule is a challenge," Feeney said. "You've got 30 clubs, no matter how you divide [the leagues], and there are often conflicting requests, needs, desires. That's not going to change, necessarily, with [a] 15-15 [split]. It's just a matter of deciding what works best, and we're in the process of determining that."

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Cubs sign DeJesus to play right field

Wrigley Field, Chicago- The Cubs have a new right fielder as general manager Jed Hoyer made his first on-field transaction Wednesday, signing David DeJesus to a two-year contract with an option for a third year.
DeJesus, who turns 32 next month, will earn $4.25 million each of the next two years, and the 2014 option year is for $6.5 million with a $1.5 million buyout.

"We don't see him as a platoon player," Hoyer said of DeJesus. "Does that mean he won't get days off against tough lefties? I'm sure we'll try to provide that support and flexibility for [manager] Dale [Sveum], but we're not signing [DeJesus] as a platoon player."

DeJesus has averaged 33 doubles, eight triples, 11 home runs and 70 RBIs per 162 games in his career, playing for the Royals (2003-10) and Athletics (2011).

In 2010, he set career highs with a .318 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 91 games, but his season ended early because of a right thumb injury sustained shortly after the All-Star break. Theo Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations, tried to acquire DeJesus prior to the non-waiver Trading Deadline in 2010.

The outfielder was dealt to the A's after the 2010 season, and this past year, he batted .240 with 20 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 60 runs scored and 46 RBIs in 131 games. He hit .270 with a .342 on-base percentage after the All-Star break.

"One thing you try to do whenever you acquire players is have a broader lens than just the previous year," Hoyer said. "With David, he was one of the most sought after players in the trade market in 2010 before he hurt his thumb.

"We feel very good that he'll come into Chicago and bounce back."

He'll have a fairly short commute. DeJesus lives in suburban Wheaton, Ill., in the offseason.

Hoyer said he likes DeJesus' defense plus his ability to hit right-handed pitching well, make contact and run the bases. DeJesus brought a 241-game errorless streak into the 2011 season.

He won't bring much power, but does give the Cubs a left-handed bat in the lineup, part of Hoyer's efforts to get more balance. The team is still in the market for another left-handed hitter.

"In general, a priority this offseason has been to balance the lineup a bit," Hoyer said. "The Cubs hit left-handed pitching fairly well last year, and right-handed pitching gave the club a lot of trouble."

What about Tyler Colvin? The outfielder struggled to hit .150 with six homers in 80 games last season after hitting 20 homers and batting .254 in 2010.

"He's certainly not out of the picture," Hoyer said. "Tyler struggled in 2011. He has to come to camp and bounce back from last year. We're trying to round out our lineup and do everything we can to put the best team we can on the field. I think Tyler, given the year he had, he needs to bounce back, and that starts in Spring Training."

As for the Cubs' reported interest in free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, Hoyer would not comment specifically on the two first basemen.

"As I've stated in the past, we're a major market team and we're going to be involved across the spectrum," Hoyer said. "I'm not going to address whether we're on or off individual players, other than the fact that we're in contact with a lot of teams and a lot of agents and we're doing everything we can to improve the team for next year and the future."

What is not a secret is that Hoyer has been in contact with Kerry Wood's agent, Pat Rooney, regarding a new deal for the pitcher for 2012.

"We'd love to bring Kerry back," Hoyer said. "He had a great year last year and he's an excellent ambassador for the Cubs. The stated goal of bringing Kerry back has been made very clear."

Cain hinting exit is near

The pizza king might not deliver to the White House.
After weeks of standing firm against an onslaught of tawdry sex-harassment claims, former pizza exec Herman Cain yesterday appeared to warn his campaign staff that the end of his presidential bid is near in the wake of new allegations of a 13-year extramarital affair.

But hours later, his campaign manager insisted he’s in it to stay.

In a conference call with his crew a day after the latest allegations broke, Cain “unequivocally” denied the claims, but conceded the situation “is cause for reassessment.”

“We have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud, in some people’s minds, as to whether or not they would be able to support us going forth,” the former GOP front-runner said, according to The National Review, which listened to the call.

However, his campaign manager Mark Block last night told ABC News that when the candidate used the term “reassessment,” he was referring only to Cain’s strategy and “not a reassessment of withdrawing.” Block added that there’s “no way he’s dropping out.”

Still, Cain said he’d make his decision “over the next several days,” and conceded the scandals had “taken a toll on my wife and family.”

In another sign that he might be getting ready to hang it up, Cain canceled a planned dinner Sunday at New York Post columnist Cindy Adams’ Park Avenue apartment with some of the city’s most prominent journalists.

Cain spoke a day after Ginger White told Atlanta Fox affiliate WAGA-TV that she had engaged in an “exciting” but “very inappropriate” 13-year relationship with Cain that ended this year.

“From what he has said, it doesn’t seem likely he’s going to survive it,” said a New York Cain fund-raiser.

“Had this all been true, he would have been better off coming out in the beginning and say, ‘Here’s the deal’ — clear the air six weeks ago in one shot.

“The problem is, it’s all this stuff coming up,’’ the fund-raiser told The New York Post.

Meanwhile, Cain last night sent an emotional e-mail urging supporters to “stand with me.”

“This is a trying time for my family, my campaign and for me.

“It is also a trying time for our country, as we are all distracted from the truly important issues facing our nation,” he wrote.

“Let me assure you, I am not deterred . . .We will continue on this journey to make America great once again,” he said.

But experts were already gauging the impact of a Cain departure.

“In both Iowa and New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich benefits the most,” said Iowa pollster Ann Selzer.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Angels add Iannetta, deal Chatwood

Angel Stadium, Aneheim- Moving to shore up their catching from the offensive side, the Angels on Wednesday acquired Chris Iannetta from the Rockies in exchange for pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
It is the first move of consequence by the new Angels front office headed by general manager Jerry Dipoto.

Iannetta, 28, is a .235 hitter in six seasons in Colorado. He is coming off a 2011 campaign in which he batted .238 with 14 homers and 55 runs batted in.

The number that impressed Dipoto and the Angels most is his .357 on-base percentage in 458 Major League games. Iannetta owns a .430 career slugging mark with a high of 18 home runs in 2008. Playing half of his games in Coors Field has been a benefit. Of his 63 career homers, 37 have been in the mile-high altitude.

"We checked two boxes today," Dipoto said, referring to acquiring a No. 1 receiver and a player who can lift the team's dismal on-base percentage. "It starts to fill in some of the holes.

"We wanted to improve our catching depth and our on-base percentage. It's not often you can get a catcher who can help you in that department, getting on base.

"Chris is a solid defender. He's improved every year. I just talked to him, and he's very excited about the opportunity to work with [Angels manager] Mike Scioscia. He's known as a catching mentor."
Having dealt their regular catcher, the Rockies promptly turned their attention to free-agent Ramon Hernandez, who spent the past three seasons in Cincinnati after playing for the Athletics, Padres and Orioles.

Making a career-high 105 starts in 2011 for the Rockies, Iannetta threw out 26 percent of runners attempting to steal. Only three Major League receivers catching 95 or more games had a higher percentage.

"He's a leader behind the plate," Dipoto said. "Pitchers like to throw to the guy. He has a presence. He fits in the lineup, in the clubhouse. This guy has skills."

With the Winter Meetings running Dec. 5-8 in Dallas, Dipoto said he plans to be busy exploring ways to improve both the offense and the depth in the pitching staff.

"We're interested in the best players in the world that are out there," he said.

Chatwood, a native Southern Californian who attended high school in Redlands, was the team's top Draft pick in 2008. He rose swiftly through the farm system with a mid-90s fastball and a big curveball, reaching the Majors in 2011 at 21. He'll be 22 in two weeks.

Dealing Chatwood, one of the premier starting prospects in the organization, was not an easy decision, Dipoto said.

"Trades are never easy," he said. "But catching is never easy to come by. Getting a guy who's in the top half in offensive performance at the position is hard. It's difficult to give up Tyler, but it's a reflection of how hard it is to come up with catching in the big leagues, more than a reflection of Tyler Chatwood."

An early-season injury to Joel Pineiro and Scott Kazmir making only one start created holes in the rotation, bringing Chatwood to Anaheim quicker than he or anyone in the organization had anticipated. He made 27 appearances, 25 as a starter.

Command was Chatwood's biggest challenge as he went 6-11 with a 4.75 ERA for the Angels before returning to Triple-A Salt Lake for four starts.

In 142 innings, Chatwood issued 71 walks while striking out 74 batters.

In the National League, Chatwood -- an excellent athlete who could have been drafted as a center fielder -- will be able to use his impressive hitting abilities.

While offense was clearly a factor in the Angels' decision to pursue Iannetta, he is considered a solid, cerebral defender well regarded for his ability to call games.

The Angels didn't get much offense last season from their catchers. Jeff Mathis batted .174, Bobby Wilson .189 and Hank Conger .204. Conger, who turns 24 in January, is considered the team's catcher of the future but needs to make some refinements defensively.

"Right now we have four Major League catchers on the roster," Dipoto said. "Like pitching, you can't have too much catching. It's a long way to Opening Day."

A fourth-round pick out of the University of North Carolina in 2004, Iannetta hit .264 in 104 games in 2008, but he struggled the following two years and was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs each season. He regained his footing and was a solid performer throughout 2011.

Mathis and Wilson are candidates to be traded. Mathis, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, shared the catching job with Mike Napoli for four seasons and excelled defensively, ranking among the best in the game with the glove.

Wilson is a solid, intelligent receiver and a contact hitter with developing power.

Having acquired Iannetta, the Angels also have the option of non-tendering Mathis in his final year as an arbitration-eligible player.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Dipoto said.

Stocks surge more than 480 points on global central bank efforts

Three substantial economic developments announced in quick succession Wednesday morning, including efforts from several central banks to shore up the global financial system, prompted global stock markets to soar and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by nearly 500 points.
The Dow closed up 490.05 points, or 4.2 percent, to 12,045.68.

The S&P 500 Index finished trading up 51.77 points, or 4.3 percent, to 1,246.96, while the Nasdaq Composite settled up 4.2 percent at 2,620.34.

Central banks around the globe announced a coordinated plan to make dollar funding cheaper for European banks. The announcement came after China indicated it would loosen monetary policy by lowering the reserve requirement ratio for banks. A report on the labor market showed private-business hiring rose by 206,000 in November, the largest monthly gain this year.

"Any time you see cross-broader coordination, it shows that we're all in this together and everyone's trying to solve the problem," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. "Policy makers aren't turning their backs on Europe." The Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank agreed to lower the pricing on the existing temporary US dollar liquidity swap arrangements. The move cuts the rate by 0.50 percentage point, with the goal meant to "ease strains in financial markets," according to the Fed.

While the coordinated central bank effort doesn't address the fundamental problems associated with European government debt, it underscores a "sense of urgency" to address the broad issues ailing the global financial system, said Seth Setrakian, co-head of trading at First New York Securities.

Investors said the focus will soon shift back to Europe and what needs to be done to stem the region's debt problems. Eurozone finance ministers have acknowledged that the bloc's bailout fund would have less capacity to help troubled nations than once hoped.

17-month-old, babysitter found after feared disappearance

The 17-month-old daughter of a well-off Manhattan couple turned up safe and sound this evening after cops had begun a frantic search for her.
Annabelle Ceria came home at 5:30 p.m. in the arms of her babysitter, 46-year-old Beatrice Rios, 90 minutes after the end of Rios’ babysitting shift.

Her frantic parents were overjoyed to see the toddler, who they reported missing because Rios and the child were nowhere to be found at Rios’ 4 p.m. quitting time.

Cops said the toddler was fine. Detectives took Rios away for questioning.

A neighbor said Rios had said she became confused and lost, perhaps after taking Annabelle to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

Annabelle’s parents last saw her at their home on East 101st Street in East Harlem at 9:30 a.m. today with Rios.

But Annabelle and Rios didn’t show up for a play date with one of Annabelle’s friends, said police sources.

And Rios wasn’t answering her cell phone, the sources said. Neighbors said that might have been because she became lost on the subway.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Valentine set to return as Red Sox manager

Fenway Park, Boston- Bobby Valentine's managerial career, which started in Texas, moved to New York and then all the way to Japan, will begin what should be a fascinating next chapter on Thursday, when he is unveiled by the Red Sox at a 5:30 p.m. ET Fenway Park news conference.
The man known throughout baseball as "Bobby V." is relinquishing his ESPN microphone to become the 45th manager in the storied history of the Red Sox.

Valentine, 61, ends a near decade-long absence from the Major Leagues to fill the position vacated by Terry Francona, who led the Red Sox to two World Series championships in eight years.

The hiring of Valentine is the first major move by Ben Cherington, who became Boston's general manager on Oct. 25.

Initially, the Red Sox were looking at a pool of candidates (Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Torey Lovullo) who didn't have much experience. Sveum was considered the favorite of that bunch, but that became academic when he was hired by the Cubs.

Considering the pressure that exists in Boston and the fact the team is already built to win, Cherington and Red Sox ownership ultimately decided this wasn't a job for a first-timer.

It came down to Valentine and another veteran candidate in Gene Lamont.

While the understated Lamont, who has spent much of his career as a trusted coach for Jim Leyland, would have been the safer hire, the Red Sox went for spice in Valentine, who has never been shy about expressing his opinion, which has led him to some controversies in the past.

In Valentine, the Red Sox get one of the smarter baseball minds around, someone who loves to teach the game and is known as being a solid tactician.

"It's exciting," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said in an interview with WEEI on Wednesday. "Just excited to have a manager. It took a while. I think the search is kind of over and now we can get ready for next year. I'm sure the fans are excited, too, that someone was named. He's been around. He's done it before and in a big market. It's going to be fun."

The big question entering Valentine's regime will be this: How will he fare managing the personalities in the clubhouse?

This is something that looms not only because of Valentine's past, but also because of what transpired with the Red Sox down the stretch in 2011.

Considered a top World Series contender most of the season, the Sox became the first team in baseball history to have a nine-game lead in the standings during the month of September and not make it to the postseason.

In the aftermath of the collapse, there was a lot of talk about the deterioration in culture, which impacted the club's conduct and work habits.

There were stories of starting pitchers drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in which they weren't pitching. There were questions about certain players not being in the best possible shape, which led to an overhaul of the team's medical and training staffs.

"The bottom line is Bobby is going to be our manger," Pedroia said. "We're all excited about it. We're ready to play. I've got a lot of built-up stuff inside me to prove to everybody that we're going to be a great team in the future."

In the end, Francona, a steady hand during the bulk of his memorable time in Boston, admitted that the Red Sox probably needed a new voice, and that he could no longer reach players he had in the past.
Now, that will fall on Valentine, who inherits a team that has considerable talent at the plate and on the mound.

"Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days, but I think everyone likes discipline," Valentine said after his follow-up interview with the Red Sox on Nov. 21. "I think everyone likes structure. And I think everyone likes to be acknowledged when they do things properly. When they don't do things properly, believe it or not most people, athletes in particular, like to be noticed that they're not doing things right.

"When you're talking about discipline and rules and all that, it's just about right and wrong. It's just about an expectation of a person who's representing a great organization like the Boston Red Sox. A passionate, committed team like they have in the front office and an ownership that expects them to know the difference between right and wrong, on the field and off the field, and when they're talking to you and when they're living their life. That's the discipline kind of thing I try to bring to a team."
Valentine is excited to get a chance to be back in a Major League dugout at a time there are far more statistics available to a manager than his last go-around.

That will entail collaboration with Cherington and the front office, something Valentine is confident will go more smooth than his time in New York, when his clashes with Steve Phillips became frequent tabloid fodder.

"I would expect it," Valentine said. "I would hope for it. I haven't lived with it and I lived hearing about it and thinking about it. As I told Ben, as I told [assistant general manager] Mike [Hazen] as I told [assistant GM] Brian [O'Halloran] as I told [special assistant] Allard [Baird], this is a growth opportunity for me.

"I'm one of these guys ... I know I'm old. The back of my card gives my date of birth, but I want to understand what's going in my life, and my life is baseball."

A native of Stamford, Conn. -- Valentine is still a fixture in that community -- he was recruited to play baseball and football at the University of Southern California, but was the fifth overall pick by the Dodgers in the 1968 Draft.

He played 225 games for the Dodgers from 1969-72 before moving on to the Angels. In his first year with California, Valentine suffered a compound fracture in his leg after a collision with a chain-link fence and was never the same player again.

Valentine also played for the Padres, Mets and Mariners before finishing his 639-game career in 1979.

The Rangers made Valentine a Major League manager during the 1985 season and he stayed in that post until '92. Valentine's best season in Texas was '86, when an 87-75 record placed the Rangers second behind the Angels. He left Texas with a 581-605 mark.

In between Major League jobs, Valentine's first trip to Japan was a short one, as he managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995.

The Mets gave him another chance in the Majors, promoting him from Triple-A Norfolk for the final 31 games of the '96 season.

Over the next four seasons, Valentine's Mets averaged 92 wins, finishing third once and second three times.

In '99, Valentine managed a veteran team led by Mike Piazza to the National League Championship Series, where they were eliminated by the Braves in six games. A year later, the Mets took it a step further, getting to the World Series before losing to the cross-town Yankees in five games.

Valentine's Mets declined over his last two seasons, winning 82 games in '01 and 75 before his dismissal at the end of '02.

Broadcasting was a natural progression for the outspoken Valentine, who worked his first stint for ESPN in 2003.

But then it was back to Japan, where Valentine again managed Chiba Lotte, this time from 2004-09.

He led the Marines to a Japan Series championship in 2005 and became a bit of an icon in Japan.

After two more seasons with ESPN, Valentine now returns to the dugout, where his tenure with the Red Sox figures to be memorable no matter what transpires.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Larkin, Morris looking for boosts in Hall voting

Because of the least imposing first-year group of eligible players in recent memory, former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin seems to be the lone possibility for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2012.
The ballot was distributed to eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday.

But Larkin is no shoo-in. The 12-time National League All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, who played his entire 19-year career at home with Cincinnati, finished third in the 2011 balloting to second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven. The latter two were inducted into the Hall in July, along with general manager Pat Gillick, a post-expansion Veterans Committee electee.

"Honestly, I don't think about it much," Larkin told MLB.com when reached recently at his home in Orlando, Fla. "When it comes to [this month], it'll be on my mind, for sure. There are some things you can control and others that you can't. So I try not to dwell so much on the ones that you can't. I'm excited about the opportunity, but it's not on the forefront of my mind."

To be elected to the Hall, a player needs to have his name appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast. Players need at least five percent of the votes to remain on the ballot from year to year. They have 15 years of eligibility, beginning five years after retirement.

The results of the voting will be revealed on Jan. 9. MLB.com will air a simulcast of the announcement on MLB Network live at 2 p.m. ET.

Larkin, an ESPN baseball analyst, is in his third year on the ballot. He garnered 62.1 percent -- 361 of a possible 581 votes -- in last year's balloting. Based on those figures, he must jump 12.9 percent to gain election. He received 51.6 percent of the vote in 2010, his first year on the ballot.

That kind of acceleration is not unheard of. In the history of the BBWAA balloting, which goes back to the first class in 1936, 16 players have made a leap of at least 13 percent in a single year to get into the Hall. The last player to make up such a sizeable margin was Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who went from 61.1 percent in 2004 to 76.2 percent a year later. Coincidentally, Sandberg was elected in his third year on the ballot.

BBWAA members with at least 10 consecutive years of covering Major League Baseball have the month of December to determine their choices and can place as many as 10 names on their ballots.
A Golden Era committee is also considering 10 candidates, including eight players, who participated in the Major Leagues from 1947-72. The committee will meet at the Winter Meetings in Dallas on Sunday and announce any selections on Monday.

Among the notable first-timers on the BBWAA ballot are Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, Braves catcher Javy Lopez and Angels outfielder Tim Salmon. The other first-timers are Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Brian Jordan, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Ruben Sierra, Tony Womack and Eric Young.

Aside from Larkin, other prominent returnees are pitchers Jack Morris (who was fourth with 53.5 percent of the vote last year, his 12th time on the ballot) and Lee Smith and first baseman Jeff Bagwell.

First basemen Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are also back on the ballot, but both have been so associated with the era of performance-enhancing drugs that they have annually received a considerably low percentage of the vote. McGwire, the Cardinals hitting coach who admitted he used steroids during his playing career, got 19.1 percent of the vote last year. Palmeiro, who failed a drug test and was suspended in 2005, his last MLB season, got 11 percent of the vote last year, his first on the ballot.

The other returnees are Juan Gonzalez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.

Morris, who won the World Series with Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto and had 254 victories during his 18-year big league career, is a long shot. He needs to pick up 21.5 percent to make it this year. That's happened 10 times in the history of the balloting, though not since 1964, when White Sox shortstop Luke Appling gained election.

But candidates beware. After this year, the coming ballots will be more and more star-studded. What surely will be a controversial vote next year will include all-time home run leader Barry Bonds, 354-game winner Roger Clemens, 3,000-hit-club member Craig Biggio, 12-time All-Star Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa, who slugged 609 homers. The ballot for 2014 induction will boast a trio of great pitchers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina, plus slugger Frank Thomas. The group for 2015 will include another great group of pitchers: No. 2 overall strikeout leader Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, plus outfielder Gary Sheffield. And finally, the ballot for 2016 will offer outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte and closers Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner.

Bonds and Clemens are in the midst of court cases, charged with lying in legal testimony about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds was found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice and is awaiting sentencing in December.

The BBWAA has been consistent in electing at least one player each year, but only eight times in history have they elected three players or more. The last time the writers did not elect anyone was 1996, when pitcher Jim Bunning and manager Earl Weaver were among a quartet elected by a Veterans Committee.

This year's 16-man Golden Era Committee is taking another look at whether Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges, Cubs third baseman Ron Santo or Twins/White Sox pitcher Jim Kaat are worthy of the Hall. White Sox outfielder/third baseman Minnie Minoso and pitcher Luis Tiant are also among the eight players on the ballot.

Only one player -- Yankees and Indians second baseman Joe Gordon -- has been elected by numerous configurations of the Veterans Committee since 2001. Thus, there's a real possibility that no one will be elected to the Class of 2012 by that committee.

If that comes to pass and is coupled with no selections by the BBWAA, it would be the first time since 1960 that no one would be inducted into the Hall.

But right now no one is planning for that odd fate, particularly with the rich prospects that lie in the immediate years ahead. Larkin remains the primary hope, and this would seem to be his best shot at it for awhile.

He is a nine-time Silver Slugger winner, a member of the Reds squad that swept the A's in the 1990 World Series and the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1995. His .295 lifetime batting average is 33 points higher than that of Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith, who was elected predominately for his defense in 2002. Cal Ripken Jr., elected along with Padres right fielder Tony Gwynn on the first ballot for both men in 2007, hit .277 as a shortstop, the position he played for most of his stellar 21-year career with the Orioles.

But Larkin said he isn't taking anything for granted.

"I spent some time with Jim Rice when he was elected [in 2009] in his 15th year," Larkin said. "And I asked him why he thought it took him so long to be elected. He said, 'You can't go out and do anything else in your career. You have to feel good about what you were able to do.' Nothing had changed. That gave me a good perspective. So I've got to roll with the punches, at this point.

"I'd certainly love to be in, but I'm just going to react to the news one way or another."

Obama's city visit, Rockefeller tree tourists create traffic 'nightmare'

Is he gone yet?
President Obama’s fund-raising foray into Manhattan today created enough gridlock to make Congress envious — at almost the exact moment that thousands of tourists jammed into Rockefeller Center for the Christmas tree-lighting.

“This really sucks, it’s aggravating,” griped Rob Bam, 49, who got jammed while trying to cross from Fifth to Sixth Avenue. “Keep the President out of the city.”

Obama’s ill-timed trip turned Midtown into a parking lot for hours, and ticked off New Yorkers simply looking to get around as the President glad-handed fat cats from the Upper East Side to the East Village to the Sheraton New York.

At the same moments, pokey tourists were clogging the barricade-lined streets near Rockefeller Center — just a few blocks from Obama’s final stop — just to see a 75-year-old Norway spruce get illuminated.

“Every time Obama comes to New York, it’s a nightmare,” said Tom Hall, 52, who was trying to get home to the Upper West Side from Midtown. “It probably wasn’t a good idea to have both of these events the same night.”

Obama touched down at JFK at 5:14 p.m., zooming into Manhattan for a three-stop fund-raising blitz that wreaked havoc on Midtown streets and bus routes while aggravating commuters.

“I’m totally screwed getting home,” fumed Celeste Gold, 30, a who was struggling to walk home to Hells Kitchen. “I’ll be directed the whole way by police.”

At Gotham Bar and Grill on East 12th St., fans of the President paid more than $35,000 for an exclusive sitdown. On the Upper East Side, the price was $10,000 a head.

Elsewhere, the price was a lot of time and aggravation.

“I can’t even get to my sister’s around the corner,” said Saranda Savanovic, 23, of Midwood, who was corralled in Midtown. “There’s a slot of commotion.”

Steven Mastorelli’s efforts to get to the Port Authority for a bus ride back to New Jersey resulted in a walk that turned out to be three times as long.

“Usually this takes me 15 minutes, but it’s already taken me 45 minutes to walk seven blocks,” said Steven Mastorelli, 20, who was walking to the Port Authority for a bus ride back to Jersey.

“Everybody is just trying to get home.”

Courier Sam Miranda was forced to walk six blocks to W. 48th St, and Sixth Avenue to make a delivery by hand after a massive traffic knot forced him to park his car in a garage.

“I should have been done two hours ago,” he said. “I’m pretty pissed off.”

The good news for New Yorkers?

Obama got out of town last night. But the Christmas tree isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, setting up more holiday gridlock hell.

“Tourists who stand in the middle of the sidewalk are a pain in the ass,” fumed Brant Kellon, 28, of Harlem. “The tourists who don’t know where they’re going or when to cross the street drive me crazy.”

Man pleads guilty to Brooklyn charges in 28-hour rampage

The man charged with a Brooklyn-to-Manhattan murder spree that started with the slaying of his mother's boyfriend and ended with a brutal stabbing aboard a subway train pleaded guilty today to four murder counts and other charges.
Maksim Gelman, 24, had originally pleaded not guilty to the four counts and a raft of other charges in the 13-count indictment.

Gelman's lawyer Edward Friedman said his client wished to plead guilty in Brooklyn this time.

"He's pleading guilty without a promise," Friedman said, noting that there was no deal struck between the defense and DA's office.

Gelman said "yes" numerous times as the judge went through each count and asked him if he wanted to plead guilty.

The other counts included attempted murder, robbery and assault charges.

Gelman could be sentenced to 100 years on the four murder charges alone.

"Mr. Gelman is anxious to begin his sentence in an upstate facility," Friedman said.

Prosecutor Kenneth Taub added, "I'm certainly not going to stand in the way of someone who wants to plead guilty."

Gelman is set to be sentenced Jan. 11. He still needs to appear before another judge so prosecutors can decide what to do with Gelman's alleged Manhattan crimes.

“It is quite likely, almost guaranteed, that any sentence I give means you’d never be released from a penal institution while you are alive,” said Judge Vincent DelGiudice.

Gelman went on a 28-hour rampage that included stabbing his mother's boyfriend to death and stealing his car, mowing down and killing a pedestrian with that auto and stabbing to death a woman he was stalking -- Yelena Bulchenko -- and her mother.

He also stabbed another man in a carjacking and, finally, a third man on the subway on Feb. 12 in Manhattan, which led to his arrest.

In an odd moment at the end of the hearing, Gelman said he understood then saluted his lawyer as he was led away.

“Have a good one,” Gelman told his lawyer.

After Gelman was arrested, he told cops his victims had to die, according to the court papers:

"Who had to die?" investigators asked.

"She was a bitch," Gelman responded.

Detective in Sean Bell shooting found guilty of violating NYPD guidelines

The cop who touched off the 50-bullet shooting rampage that resulted in Sean Bell's death was found to have violated NYPD rules after panicking and blowing his cover, authorities said today.
Det. Gescard Isnora was acting recklessly and outside department guidelines when he fired the first shot at a car carrying Bell and his pals outside a nightclub in Queens in November 2006, the NYPD alleged during the departmental trial.

Isnora, who was in plainclothes at the time of the shooting, could lose his job as a result of the verdict, sources told The New York Post.

Isnora was found guilty on both counts: firing outside the guidelines and coming out of his undercover role, according to Tuesday night's verdict.

The trial commissioner's recommendation is termination, a decision which is now in NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s hands. There is no timeline for action.

The cop had testified that he followed Bell and his friends from a Jamaica strip joint, Kalua Club, because he thought Bell’s pal Joseph Guzman was going to retrieve a gun.

Isnora said he opened fire after he was clipped by Bell’s car and saw Guzman’s arm go up and thought he yelled “gun.”

Isnora had also admitted that he never actually saw a weapon.

“Every officer is responsible for every round fired from his weapon,” NYPD special counsel Nancy Slater said three weeks ago at the trial's conclusion. “His actions are not criminal in any way, [but] his choices and actions show he should not be a member of the department.”

For five years, the cops have hidden behind their lawyers, who argued that the officers unloaded on the car because they thought one of the passengers had a gun.

No gun was ever recovered on the men or inside their car.

Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, disagreed with the outcome.

"I disagree with the trial commissioner's verdict," he said. "There is still a penalty phase in this process and I reserve further comment until that phase is completed."

At the same time, Officer Michael Carey was acquitted of all charges, officials said.

Carey said he fired three rounds at Bell’s Nissan after a fellow cop yelled “gun.”

At trial, Isnora and three other officers were acquitted of all charges during a bench trial in Queens Supreme Court.

Carey was never criminally charged in the case.

Coughlin vows Giants will meet challenge of Packers

Tom Coughlin walked purposely into the Giants auditorium Wednesday afternoon and stated “We look forward to this great opportunity’’ as a way of introducing the challenge ahead for his team, facing the undefeated Packers.
“It’s a short week for us but an exciting week,’’ Coughlin said.

It’s a short week because the Giants played this past Monday night, although “played’’ is a kind way of describing the feeble performance they put on display in a 49-24 loss in New Orleans.

The Giants in no way resembled a team capable of competing with the Packers, who are 11-0 and actually more offensively blessed than the Saints, who had absolutely no problem scoring seven touchdowns and doing anything they wanted against the struggling Giants defense.

Coughlin said he feels his team will be able to move past the dreadful showing.

“It’s pro football, got to move on to the next one,’’ he said. “We’ll bounce back. That’s the thing I believe in. It’s a time for us to be bold, not listen to what you all are saying.’’

The Giants are not necessarily getting much healthier for the stretch run, although LB Michael Boley (hamstring) at least was out on the field stretching with his teammates. He hasn’t done that in three weeks and has missed the past two games.

DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle) will not play vs. the Packers; a source with knowledge of the situation said it’s a “bad’’ ankle sprain and he will likely miss at least two games.

WR Victor Cruz is a newcomer on the injury report with hip issue but Coughlin said, “it may slow him down a day’’ and did not consider it anything serious.

WR Mario Manningham missed the game in New Orleans and continues to have swelling in his knee.

“We have to see if he will be able to play with it,’’ Coughlin said. Manningham was stretching with the team before practice.

Rookie LB Mark Herzlich (ankle) is walking around in a boot and will be sidelined for at least this game and most likely one or two more. In response to that injury, the Giants re-signed Chase
Blackburn, who spent the past six years with the team but was not in the NFL until he got the call this week. “He’s still in great shape and has knowledge of our system,’’ Coughlin said. “We can play in the depth of our system right away.’’

Former Giants DE Michael Strahan, now working for FOX, made a visit to the Giants practice facility. At one point Strahan and Carl Banks were chatting in the team cafeteria, each looking as if they could move right in and help the Giants defense.
It has turned cloudy again with a temp of 53 degrees right now. Forecast: a small chance or rain tonight, low 38

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Take the Train to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The annual Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center will take place on Wednesday, November 30 and the subway is the best way to get there.
The festivities begin at 5 p.m. and end with the lighting of the tree at 9 p.m.Nearby recommended subway stops are:Times Square-42nd Street (N, Q, R, S, 1, 2, 3, 7), Grand Central-42nd Street (S, 4, 5, 6), 47th-50th Sts/Rockefeller Center (B, D, F, M) and 5th Avenue/53d Street (E,M).

The following buses serving the Rockefeller Center area will be rerouted or skip stops during the ceremony to avoid congestion:M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M7, M50, X1, X7, X9, X10, X12, X14, X17, X27, X28, X30, X37, X38, BxM3, BxM4, BxM6, BxM7, BxM7A, BxM8, BxM9, BxM10, BxM11, BxM18, BM1, BM2, BM3, BM4, BM5 and Q32.

Customers can click here for additional information. Customers may also dial 511, the New York State travel information line, for MTA customer service and travel information.NYC Transit agents are available to provide assistance with your travel plans daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Gridlock Alert Day Wednesday, November 30

Wednesday, November 30 is a Holiday Gridlock Alert Day, one of the heaviest vehicular traffic days of the holiday season. Residents, commuters and visitors are strongly advised to use mass transit.
   
5th and 6th Avenues between 48th Street and 52nd Street and 48th Street to 52nd Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue will be closed from 7 pm to 9 pm for the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony.
   
The remaining Holiday Gridlock Alert Days are:
  • Friday, December 9
  • Thursday, December 15
  • Friday, December 16
  • Wednesday, December 21
  • Thursday, December 22
  • Friday, December 23

Information on commuter options is available on the DOT web site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/commutingoptions.shtml.

Historical Photograph​s from the Municipal Archives

Did you know that 25 years ago, City photographers fanned out through the five boroughs and shot color pictures of every building? For the last few years we have been reproducing these photographs from the original negatives. Why not consider ordering one of these unique prints as a holiday gift?

Not all addresses are available, no charge for addresses not found.

How about the art lover or family historian who knows the true value and beauty of our amazing City?

The Municipal Archives has a huge selection of classic New York images available for purchase on our website.

Please try to order by December 5th to guarantee receiving prints in time for the Holidays. 

For quickest delivery, you can order using your credit card on our secure website!

Municipal Archives is a division of the New York City Department of Records. 

To learn more about the Department of Records and other divisions,  please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/records

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Cards' Meetings agenda starts with Pujols

Busch Stadium, St. Louis- It's not as though Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has nothing else to do when the Winter Meetings convene in Dallas next week. But he's fully aware that as baseball's annual offseason convention approaches, he's going to be asked about one topic above all others: Albert Pujols.
When baseball descends upon the Hilton Anatole, it will provide an opportunity for Mozeliak to meet face to face with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano. Of course, Lozano will also have 29 other GMs under the same roof with him, offering the chance for Pujols' market to move.

And history suggests that it's often that trigger that gets deals like this going. Many of the top free agents in recent years have signed either during or shortly after the Winter Meetings. Whether Pujols follows that trend remains to be seen, but this much is sure: The Cards would love to have resolution, one way or another, on the matter.

"I think it would be helpful to address this in the next few weeks for sure," Mozeliak said. "I don't think we want to take this into January if we don't have to."

That's because Pujols isn't the only player the Cardinals hope to sign before the winter is out. They have needs in their middle infield and bullpen, and they could use some bench help, particularly a backup center fielder. The starting rotation is set, and there are plenty of options in house to address most of the other issues, but the roster isn't set.

Or at least, that's the hope. Mozeliak said he's open to the possibility of making only minor tweaks between now and Spring Training, if Pujols is signed.

"If we had to go in with the roster how it looks, I think we're OK," he said. "Abviously getting [Adam] Wainwright back is a big bonus, and then letting some things flesh out, I think that's an OK approach. But there's also an opportunity for us that, if we weren't able to sign Albert, we would have resources to do some other things that we're not really about or focusing on at the moment."

Still, Pujols looms over so much of it. It's clear that the slugger won't be signed for anything less than a serious premium, in terms of dollars and years. That means that the Cardinals will approach their other needs differently based on whether or not they're paying Pujols in 2012 and beyond.

As a result, it's difficult even to say exactly how much money the Cards have to spend. They're committed to approximately $80 million already, before any arbitration-related raises, and the payroll is likely to come in somewhere in the neighborhood of $105-110 million. Thus, the math is somewhat unforgiving if Pujols signs, and the Redbirds might be forced to look to the trade market to address some of their needs.

An intriguing subplot to watch will be whether the Cards' process or targets look any different under new manager Mike Matheny. Tony La Russa had a strong voice in personnel decisions; it's unclear what Matheny's position will be. Mozeliak, however, wants his new manager to be involved.

"One of the things that's important about this hire is to get an opinion from him," Mozeliak said. "He's going to have a voice in the decision-making. That's very critical to a successful organization. We weren't looking for someone who would just nod his head."

The Cardinals have been known to tend to small matters in recent years at the Winter Meetings, but one recent trend is likely to end. St. Louis has made a habit of signing its backup catchers while at the Meetings. That probably won't be the case for the 2012 team, since next season's backup catcher is almost certainly already in the organization. Tony Cruz appears to be the favorite, while fellow system product Bryan Anderson could get one more look.

In the middle infield, the Cards could go with what they have at second base, where several different pieces could add up to a useful whole. Daniel Descalso will be back, and the club controls Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot (assuming that neither is non-tendered). Shortstop presents more of an opportunity to upgrade, though Mozeliak asserted that it's also an option to give Tyler Greene a longer look than he's had in the past.

If there's one position that likely rests heavily on what happens with Pujols, it's short. With Pujols, someone like Greene becomes more of an option. Should Pujols leave, a free-agent signing is a greater possibility. Mozeliak said he would be loath to trade from the Minor League system, but could be open to trading off the Major League roster if a fit presented itself. The Cards definitely could trade from a surplus of right-handed relievers.

When it comes to the Rule 5 Draft, the Cardinals could look to make a move, but they don't have a lot of opportunity. They have 36 players already on their 40-man roster, and that's before making any other additions.

History suggests that overall it's likely to be a quiet week for the Cards, at least as far as the bottom line is concerned. Plenty of business will be conducted. Plenty of groundwork will be laid. But St. Louis' pattern in recent years has been to set things in motion during the Winter Meetings, then finalize things afterward.

Since 2005, the only major transaction the Cardinals have completed at the Winter Meetings was a one-year deal with Brad Penny in '09. Overall, the Meetings have been where things start, not end, for St. Louis. Depending on Pujols' situation, that's likely to be the case again in 2011.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseaon: Astros' Quirk to join Cubs as bench coach

Houston- Jamie Quirk, who has spent the last two seasons as Astros bullpen coach, said Tuesday he's leaving the team to become bench coach for the Chicago Cubs under new manager Dale Sveum.
"It's just a great opportunity," Quirk said. "When Dale Sveum was interviewing, he asked me if I'd be interested if he gets any of the jobs, and he got the Cubs. I talked with [Cubs president of baseball operations] Theo [Epstein] and passed that test, and called [former Astros general manager] Ed [Wade] for permission and all that. I was excited.

"It's the Cubbies. Who wouldn't want that job? They have a very famous tradition in baseball, and it will be nice to be part of turning it around."

The appeal of the Cubs was one factor, but Quirk is eager for a chance to get back on the bench and stay more involved in the game. Most of the work he did during the season as bullpen coach was done in pregame meetings, and he worked in the bullpen during games.

"Pretty much, once the game started I was out of it," Quirk said. "I was looking forward to the opportunity to get back in the dugout and having more one-on-one with the manager and feeling like you're actually helping rather than sitting back and watching. I've done it many years before, and I
kind of missed it."

The loss of Quirk punches a hole in the Astros' coaching staff, which was to return intact next season.

Houston manager Brad Mills said he has a list of potential candidates to replace Quirk, but the team will likely have to get a general manager in place before filling that role.

"I'm very happy for him to get this opportunity," Mills said.

Quirk, 57, joined the Astros two years ago after working as a professional scout in 2009. Prior to that, he had served as bench coach for the Colorado Rockies for six years (2003-08) under then-manager Clint Hurdle. He began his Major League coaching career in 1994 as bullpen coach for the Royals, and he later served as bench coach.

"He was in a situation where after he was let go from the Rockies, he wanted to get back on the field, but was not able to for a year and jumped at the opportunity to come with us and get back on the field, and he did a good job," Mills said. "That job he did was recognized. He's going to the Cubs, and I wish him the best."

Quirk played in the Major Leagues for 18 years, appearing in 984 games, including 525 at catcher. He compiled a .240 career average with 43 home runs and 247 RBIs while playing for eight teams, including 11 years with the Royals. He was on the Royals' 1985 World Series championship team.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Rangers' spring slate includes trip to Vegas

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas- The Rangers are going to Las Vegas for the weekend in Spring Training. At least some of them are.
The Rangers announced their Spring Training schedule on Tuesday and it includes two split-squad games with the Cubs on March 17-18 at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. This will be the first time the Rangers have played in Las Vegas. Two games against the Rockies in 2004 were rained out.

The Rangers are scheduled to play 34 spring games, including 29 in Arizona and three in Texas. The first Cactus League game is March 4 against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. The Rangers have not yet announced reporting dates.

The Rangers are scheduled to end the spring by playing their Triple-A team in Round Rock, Texas, on April 2, an unidentified team at the Ballpark in Arlington on April 3 and their Double-A team in Frisco, Texas, on April 4. The Rangers open the regular season at home against the White Sox on April 6.

The Rangers' home schedule includes the Dodgers on March 9, the Cubs on March 22 and the Giants in a night game on March 29. As far as home games against division opponents, the Rangers play the Athletics on March 15 and the Angels on March 24. The Rangers are not scheduled to play against the Mariners in Surprise.

The Rangers, in addition to sending a team to Las Vegas, will host the D-backs on March 17 in Surprise and play the Brewers in Phoenix on March 18.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Dodgers won't be big spenders at Meetings

Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles- If you staked out Walmart for Black Friday specials, you probably didn't follow on Saturday at Tiffany's.
In baseball's version of Christmas bargain hunting, Ned Colletti made a flurry of supporting cast signings in November, because that's all his bankrupt club can afford. At next week's Winter Meetings, he can't play big spender chasing Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.

Despite the splashy headlines for Matt Kemp's $160 million signing, nearly all of that will be paid by the next owner. The 2012 payroll for this team up for sale could be slashed as much as $20 million from last year's $110 million. Colletti said recently there are no current plans to give contract extensions to Clayton Kershaw or Andre Ethier.

So Colletti will try to land a rotation replacement for Hiroki Kuroda -- like Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Jeff Francis -- and a versatile bench player like Jerry Hairston Jr. for less than the $12 million he paid Kuroda alone in 2011.

Already, Colletti has re-signed Juan Rivera for one year plus an option at $4 million to be the starting left fielder; signed Mark Ellis for two years plus an option at $8.75 million to be the starting second baseman; and signed Matt Treanor for one year plus an option at $1 million to back up starting catcher A.J. Ellis.

Colletti needs to have spent wisely, because while the D-backs went from worst to first in 2011, the Dodgers barely cleared .500. They have finished fourth and third in the past two years, and the last time they went three years without finishing first or second was 1967-69.

Regardless of what happens in the courts, the Dodgers face a challenge on the field. Even with Cy Young Award-winning Kershaw and MVP runner-up Kemp, there are questions that probably can't be answered with four days in a Texas hotel.

The Dodgers have already committed roughly $50 million for eight signed players -- Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Matt Guerrier, Rivera, Ellis, Treanor and Kemp. They have another $30 million budgeted for six remaining arbitration-eligible players -- Kershaw, Ethier, James Loney, Hong-Chih Kuo, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dana Eveland, with Kuo and Eveland potential non-tenders.

Assuming the Dodgers have a $90 million payroll, that leaves about $10 million for a starting pitcher, an extra infielder and a handful of minimum-wage youngsters. There might not even be room to bring back a workhorse reliever like Mike MacDougal. And that doesn't count the $10 million owed next year in deferrals to Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones.

Colletti could fill a hole by trading Ethier or Loney -- who are one year away from free agency -- but not without their departure creating a new hole on the Major League roster.

He could dip into the Minor League system and deal away some pitching depth, but that pretty much defeats the purpose of Minor League pitching depth for a club that struggles for traction in its mission to build from within.

To this point, the starting rotation is topped by Kershaw, Billingsley and Lilly, with Nathan Eovaldi an early favorite to be the fifth starter and Kuroda's slot open. The bullpen has young closer Javy Guerra, strikeout machine Kenley Jansen, workhorse Matt Guerrier, situational lefty Scott Elbert, Blake Hawksworth, Josh Lindblom and Kuo a possibility.

The starting infield will be Loney at first, Ellis at second, Dee Gordon at short, Juan Uribe at third, Justin Sellers and Russell Mitchell backing up. The outfield is Rivera in left, Kemp in center, Ethier in right, with Tony Gwynn and Jerry Sands backing up. Ellis and Treanor are the catchers.

Marlins make their pitch to Wilson in Miami

Marlins Ballpark, Miami- Coveted free agent C.J. Wilson visited Miami on Monday, and according to the Palm Beach Post, the Marlins expressed the sentiment that they want the left-hander to be in South Florida next season.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria gave Wilson a personal tour of New Marlins Ballpark.

Wilson's agent, Bob Garber, spoke of the Marlins' treatment during the visit to the Post.

"They rolled out the red carpet," Garber said. "They seem to have a plan and made it very clear they'd like C.J. to be a part of it. I think he really impressed everybody today with his charisma. I think he'd be a great fit in South Florida."

Garber went on to say that a decision about where Wilson will play in 2012 will "probably" be made during Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings that take place Dec. 5-8 in Dallas.

Wilson, who is regarded as the top available pitcher, is coming off a stellar season in Texas, where he was 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA. The left-hander made 34 starts and logged 223 1/3 innings for the Rangers.

The Marlins are actively seeking established starters to bolster their rotation. Wilson brings playoff experience, having reached the World Series the past two years with Texas.

Last week, the Marlins acquired lefty Wade LeBlanc from the Padres for catcher John Baker.

Wilson became the fourth high-profile free agent to visit Miami and tour the new ballpark. A few weeks ago, the team entertained Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols and fellow free-agent lefty Mark Buehrle.

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Active Giants could do more at Meetings

AT&T Park, San Francisco- Already among the Major Leagues' most active teams this offseason, the Giants might soon become even busier.
Baseball's Winter Meetings, which begin Monday in Dallas, provide the Giants with the opportunity to address their remaining personnel needs. They have several of those, given the potential roster vacancies created by their plethora of free agents (six) and salary arbitration-eligible players (12).

In recent weeks, the Giants deepened their outfield by acquiring Melky Cabrera from Kansas City and diverted Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez from free agency by retaining both left-handers. But San Francisco must take further steps to bolster the offense that scored a National League-low 570 runs. The Giants also seek a middle infielder as a buffer in case second baseman Freddy Sanchez continues to battle injuries or shortstop Brandon Crawford isn't ready for everyday duty.

The Giants also might revisit the possibility of forging multiyear agreements with right-handers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, the team's co-aces. San Francisco would like to control the pay increases that seem virtually inevitable for Lincecum, who earned $13 million this year and is arbitration-eligible twice more. Cain will earn $15.3 million in 2012 and then will be eligible for free agency.

Deals don't appear imminent with either pitcher. But with Lincecum destined for a significant wage hike, whether he enters or avoids arbitration, and $81.6 million committed to only eight players (Barry Zito, Aubrey Huff, Brian Wilson, Sanchez, Cain, Lopez, Affeldt and the released Aaron Rowand), the Giants must control costs as much as possible. Their arbitration-eligible horde includes right-handers Ryan Vogelsong, Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and third baseman Pablo Sandoval, which will further strain the $130 million payroll.

That, in turn, will prevent the Giants from pursuing talented but expensive free agents, though the likes of Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins might suit them nicely.

Attempting to re-sign free agent Carlos Beltran would be the most dramatic move the Giants might consider. San Francisco would relish placing the right fielder in the middle of a lineup that could include Cabrera, Sanchez, Sandoval, a healthy Buster Posey, a more polished Nate Schierholtz, and an improved Brandon Belt or a rededicated Huff. But given Beltran's extensive injury history, the Giants are unlikely to offer the switch-hitter more than a two-year contract. Beltran, whose leading suitor is believed to be the Boston Red Sox, likely would want a three-year deal.

"We're not in the market to fix our offense with one big guy," vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said. "It's going to take a combination. We have to keep our pitching together."

Maintaining the core of the staff is a reasonable objective, since San Francisco ranked second in the NL with a 3.20 ERA. The combination of the Giants' pitching excellence and the team's escalating salary structure has prompted rumors that Lincecum or Cain could become available in a trade. But club insiders insist that both will remain in a San Francisco uniform through the foreseeable future.

And with left-hander Jonathan Sanchez's departure to Kansas City for Cabrera, the Giants have relinquished their most marketable and expendable trade commodity. The Giants have several attractive prospects in the lower Minors, but none they'd be willing to part with who are close to being Major League-ready.

That leaves free agency, which usually has been general manager Brian Sabean's preferred player-acquisition method since it doesn't necessitate losing an existing member of the organization. The Giants have been linked to players hovering near elite status, such as Beltran and the multitalented Michael Cuddyer, as well as those who would occupy complementary roles, such as utility man Jerry Hairston Jr.

But at this juncture, it's anybody's guess what the Giants' next move will be.

As Crawford said recently, "Did anybody hear about the Melky Cabrera trade before it happened?"

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Marrero injury has Nats seeking first baseman

Nationals Park, Washington DC- Are the Nationals in need of a first baseman? The answer is yes, after it was learned that first baseman Chris Marrero tore his left hamstring while playing for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League almost two weeks ago.
Marrero, who is considered a backup first baseman, hurt the hamstring stretching for a thrown ball.

One baseball source said he could be out for the season because the hamstring was torn off the bone.

But Marrero denied that he would miss the entire season.

"I'm not out for the season, but I did tear my hamstring." Marrero said via telephone. " ... I didn't think it was that bad, but once I went to the doctor in DC, he said it was torn and I had surgery. But I'm not going to miss the season. I'll miss some time in Spring Training to make sure that it's 100 percent. I don't know what the doctor has planned, but I know I'm not going to miss the season."

Marrero, a first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, made his Major League debut this past season, hitting .248 with 10 RBIs and playing solid defense at first base.

With Marrero not expected to be ready by the time Spring Training begins, the Nationals are looking to acquire bench strength at first base. According to one source, the Nationals are looking at free agent Mark DeRosa, who can play several infield positions, including first base. DeRosa can also play the corner outfield spots.

DeRosa played for the Giants this past season, hitting .279 with 12 RBIs in 47 games. Calls to general manager Mike Rizzo were not returned. Rizzo is expected to address issues on the bench starting Monday when the Winter Meetings begin in Dallas.

Meanwhile, according to a report from Foxsports.com, the Nationals have expressed interest in Prince Fielder. One baseball source questioned the report due to the presence of first baseman in Adam LaRoche, who will make $8 million this year. The source indicated that the Nationals have other pressing needs, like finding a center fielder and leadoff hitter. The club is also looking for a starting pitcher to help lead a starting staff that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

At the same time, LaRoche, who missed most of the 2011 season because of shoulder problems, told MLB.com in late October that he wasn't promised the starting job at first base next season.

"Obviously, anything can happen. That's their decision," LaRoche said. "That's a pretty big investment for someone who is not playing. I don't know what direction they would go. Obviously, anything is possible."

MLB 2011-2012 Offseason: Family, friends say goodbye to Halman

Switzerland- Greg Halman was laid to rest on Tuesday in Driehuis, a small town in North Holland, a week after the young outfielder was stabbed to death in an apartment in Rotterdam.
Four of Halman's former Mariners teammates -- Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Matt Mangini and Dan Cortes -- were among the several thousand in attendance along with Bob Engle, the club's vice president of international operations; Wayne Norton, Seattle's coordinator of European scouting; and Peter Van Dalen, an associate scout in the Netherlands.

The Rev. Keith Louis conducted the service in both Dutch and English so that the Mariners' guests could follow along.

Halman, 24, was buried in the Mariners uniform bearing the No. 56 he wore this past season as a rookie. The native of the Netherlands spent his entire career in the Mariners organization after signing as an international free agent in 2004, and played 44 games with the Major League squad over the past two seasons.

Halman's younger brother, 22-year-old Jason, is being held by Dutch police on suspicion of murder or manslaughter after an early-morning incident on Nov. 21 in the apartment building where the two lived.

Halman was the Mariners' Minor League Player of the Year in 2009 and regarded as a promising outfield prospect with a unique blend of power and speed. He was on the 40-man roster and would have been competing for a role on the club this coming Spring Training.

"Every other thing is secondary when you realize you're not going to see him anymore, and his family is dealing with such tragedy," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We're all brokenhearted. I don't know what else to say. We're all grieving. You could sit here and say a lot of things and never say enough. None of us have words for this."

Two weeks prior to his death, Halman had taken part in a series of youth clinics in his homeland as part of the European Baseball Tour alongside fellow Major Leaguers Prince Fielder and Adam Jones.

Louise Molendijk, whose 10-year-old son Matsu spent about 30 minutes receiving personal instruction from Halman in a clinic in Utrecht, Netherlands, didn't know how to break the news to the youngster after hearing of Halman's death on the radio.

"Since Utrecht, all we'd heard was 'Gregory said this' and 'Gregory told me that' and 'Hey, Mum, do you know what Halman told me?'" Molendijk said from her home in Ooltgensplaat. "Matsu even wore a huge necklace for two days because Greg showed the kids his necklace and they were really
impressed with it.

"But we had to tell him the news because I did not want him to hear it through the media. The moment I told him that Greg was dead, he was so angry [at Jason], and then the tears came and he cried like a little boy in my arms, and I cried with him."

Molendijk said that word in the Dutch baseball community is that Jason Halman was suffering from "mental confusion" and had been hearing voices, a theory that has not yet been made public by the Dutch police. But those who have been touched by Halman are looking for answers, and so Molendijk passed that along to her son.

"We tried to make him understand that the whole story is so dramatic for the family, because they have lost not only Greg, but also Jason," she said.

Baseball isn't a major sport in Holland, where soccer, skating and swimming are the primary activities.

But baseball has a growing following, and young Matsu Molendijk was thrilled to get to know Halman at the clinics, as meeting a Major Leaguer in the Netherlands is a "one in a million opportunity," according to his mother.

And Halman, she said, made those moments remarkable for the kids with whom he worked not far from his hometown, Haarlem.

"He was such a young, enthusiastic, charismatic man. He had that light in his eyes, that magic look," Molendijk said. "He took his time to tell about his youth, his trainings, the stadium in Seattle and that he went to school in the United States. He encouraged them to train and practice a lot and believe in your dream and then finally live your dream.

"All the other players that day were also great, but Greg had that special thing. He made jokes with them, but also was serious. And most of all, I think he was open and reachable. In the half-hour Matsu met him, Greg made an impression for life."

Friend claims Conn. trio not real $254M Powerball winners: report

Hartford, Conneticut- Could Connecticut's newest Powerball winners not be the real winners?
A friend of one of the well-heeled Greenwich money managers claims the trio are not the real winners -- fronting for the guy who really won the $254 million Powerball drawing, according to a bombshell new report.

Tom Gladstone, a friend of winner Brandon Lacoff, said this morning that Lacoff told him that the trio never purchased the winning ticket. He said Lacoff confessed to him that Tim Davidson and Greg Skidmore, the other two winners, are doing a friend a favor so that he remains anonymous.

"I called him [Monday] night and said, 'Brandon, I saw you on Friday and you did not tell me that you won the lottery.' He said, 'We are just representing the guy,'" Gladstone told London's Daily Mail newspaper.

An anonymous man -- said to be one of trio's clients -- actually purchased the winning ticket, but came to the trio to avoid the "hassle" of his name becoming public, the newspaper reported.

The men supposedly set up the Putnam Avenue Family Trust, which will allow the "real winner" to stay out of the spotlight. The trust will take the after-tax, lump-sum, cash payout of $103,586,824.51, officials said.

Gladstone, a real estate agent who rents Lacoff office space, told the newspaper: "The person who really won it is anonymous. They set up the trust so that Brandon and his two partners could claim they won it and that the real winner wouldn’t get hassled.

"They have said they are going to give it to charity but they are going to manage the money. They are going to make a donation but they are keeping a large proportion of the money and they are going to manage it.

"The winner is a client of theirs and their clients are a mixture of larger and smaller investors. By Wall Street standards they are not big players."

Connecticut lottery officials said in a statement this afternoon that "it is not uncommon for Powerball winners to be identified as individuals, trusts, partnerships or other legal entities."

On Monday, the men had claimed their winnings. They appeared nervous, sipping bottled water and remaining mum, as lottery officials said the jet-setting, French-speaking Davidson bought the lucky $1 ducat at a BP gas station near his Stamford waterfront condo.

Davidson, 59, let the computer choose the winning numbers: 12-14-34-39-46, Powerball 36.

On their way out of the press conference, Skidmore, a 35-year-old former member of the US Sailing Team and an Olympic hopeful, only quipped, “It feels good.”

Their Long Island-based lawyer, Jason Kurland, said the group called him the day after the drawing.

“They thought they were the winners, and then, that night, I think, one of the local TV stations had the numbers and the Powerball number was wrong on the TV screen, so that put them into a little bit of a tizzy,” he said.

“But the news, to their credit, corrected it a few hours later, and they were confident they had it."

With AP

Michael Jackson's doctor sentenced to 4 years in jail for pop star's death

Los Angeles- The Doctor Feelgood who fatally poisoned Michael Jackson was sentenced today to four years behind bars -- although the sentence could have the quack walking free by early next year.
LA County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor’s hands were tied since he could only sentence Dr. Conrad Murray to a maximum of four years in jail for The King of Pop’s shocking death on June 25, 2009.

“Dr. Murray created a set of circumstances and became involved in a cycle of horrible medicine,” the judge said. “The practice of propofol for medicine madness, which violated his sworn obligation, for money, fame prestige and whatever else may have occurred.”

Judge Pastor also scolded Murray for audio taping Jackson in his final days.

"That tape recording was Dr. Murray's insurance policy. It was designed to record [Jackson] ... at that patient's most vulnerable point," he said.

Murray refused to address the judge before he was sentenced, only letting his lawyer speak for him.
Under a new California law targeting prison overcrowding, non-violent felons like Murray, 58, have to be sent to local lockups rather than state prison.

With LA County jails also bursting at the seams, Sheriff Lee Baca has been forced to let inmates go free after doing about 10 percent of their sentenced time, officials said.

Jailers also have the option of letting Murray serve the remainder of his term under house arrest.

The clock on Murray’s time behind bars began ticking the moment he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and the judge ordered him into custody with no bail.

Brian Panish, a lawyer for the Jackson family, read a victim impact statement before the judge imposed the sentence.

"We're not here to seek revenge. There is nothing you can do today that will bring Michael back," he said.

Panish added the family was seeking justice and that the judge needed to impose a stiff sentence because doctors “cannot sell their service to the highest bidder and cast aside their Hippocratic oath to do no harm.”

Panish represents Jackson family matriarch Katherine and the pop singer’s three kids in a civil lawsuit.

In the gallery was Jackson's mom Katherine and his siblings Randy, Rebbie, Jermaine and La Toya.

Family friend Kathy Hilton, mother of Paris, was also in attendance.

When sked if four years was enough, Randy Jackson shook his head and said, "100 years is not enough."

Jackson's sister Rebbie added, "Nothing can bring back my brother."

At one point, the DA read a statement from Katherine Jackson, where he described how "she was personally offended" when Murray had a camera crew go to Jacko's burial site in 2010 so he could be photographed there on the first anniversary of the singer's death.

Murray's lawyer Ed Chernoff also addressed the judge, saying, "[Murray] shouldn't have done it. ... [Jackson] was a drug-seeker."

Chernoff said Murray had done plenty of good before he decided to treat Jackson for two months. He said that Murray had never committed a crime in his life.

Murray looked glum and sullen, even on the verge of tears, while his lawyer addressed the judge.

"What about before Michael Jackson asked for propofol?" Chernoff said as he sought probation for his client over jail time.

Chernoff said Murray is no longer a cardiologist, but will forever be known as "the man who killed Michael Jackson."

Three weeks ago, it had taken jurors less than two full days of deliberations to find Murray guilty of doping up MJ with dangerous amounts of the anesthetic propofol to combat The Gloved One’s insomnia.

With no heart, blood pressure or breathing monitors to guard against Jackson going into cardiac arrest, Jackson stopped breathing when Murray was out of the room.

Jackson was just 50 when he dropped dead inside his rented Los Angeles mansion. The King of Pop was rehearsing for a monster string of comeback concerts at London’s O2 Arena. 

Feds arrest Boyland on new bribery charges

Fresh off his surprise acquittal on corruption charges, Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr. was charged by federal authorities in Brooklyn today with soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes and accepting thousands of dollars in exchange for promising to grease the wheels for development projects.
The feds arrested Boyland this morning, saying the lawmaker was was so brazen in his requests for crooked cash that he solicited at least one bribe after he had already been charged with bribery in the Manhattan case.

Boyland had been charged with bribery on March 10, 2011 by Manhattan feds in a case that involved an alleged no-show job from a health-care provider in Brooklyn and Queens.

But that didn’t stop him from taking a $7,000 cash bribe just two weeks later, after promising to smooth things over with local community boards and elected officials who would be needed to approve a real estate development project in his district, according to prosecutors.

In a recorded telephone conversation, Boyland told an undercover agent that he needed the money to “solidify some attorneys.”

Boyland was acquitted Nov. 10 of the no-show corruption charges.

All the while, according to authorities, Boyland solicited and accepted a stream of bribes from a carnival promoter and two undercover FBI agents between August 2010 and June 2011, whom Boyland believed to be out-of-state businessmen and real estate developers.

Last August, Boyland was caught during a recorded conversation in an Atlantic City hotel suite soliciting a $250,000 bribe from the two FBI undercovers, according to court papers.

Boyland allegedly proposed a scheme that called for the two “developers” to purchase a former hospital in his district for $8 million, obtain state grant money to renovate the hospital, and resell it to a non-profit organization that Boyland claimed to control for $15 million.

In other conversations, they discussed ways to “compensate” Boyland for his assistance, including by funneling payments to Boyland through a non-profit organization controlled by Boyland or through payments disguised as fees to a consulting firm.

“I got a middle guy by the way,” Boyland told the agents in a conversation just six weeks after the March arrest. “I gotta stay clean . . . I got a bag man . ..”

Boyland also explained to the undercovers that he preferred in-person meetings.

“I stopped talking on the phone a while ago,” Boyland said, according to a transcript. “I’m just saying there is no real conversation that you can have that, you know, especially with what we’re talking about. You can’t do that.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekday/Weeknight Service Changes for November 29- December 1

1 LineAll times until June 2012
Downtown trains skip Dyckman St.



2 Line
10:30 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Thu, Nov 28 – Dec 1
241 St-bound trains run express from 3 Av-149 St to E 180 St.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.



3 Line
12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2
3 service extended to New Lots Av.
  • Trains make express stops only between 96 St and Chambers St.


4 Line
12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2
No 4 service in Brooklyn.
  • Take the 3, N or Q trains.
This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.




5 Line
10:30 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Thu, Nov 28 – Dec 1
No trains between 149 St-Grand Concourse and E 180 St -Take the 2.
5 service operates in two sections:
  1. Between Dyre Av and E 180 St.
  2. Between 149 St-Grand Concourse and Flatbush Av.
  • To continue your trip, transfer between the 2 and 5 at E 180 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse.
Note: 241 St-bound 2 trains run express from 3 Av-149 St to E 180 St during this time.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.




A Line
12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2 (Except Wed, Nov 30)
A service operates in two sections:
  1. Between 207 St and 168 St, every 30 minutes.
  2. Between 168 St and Lefferts Blvd/Far Rockaway.
  • To continue your trip, transfer at 168 St.

12:01 AM to 5 AM, Wednesday, Nov 30
Queens-bound A trains run via the F from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.



B Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
Manhattan-bound B trains run local from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park.
  • Allow additional travel time.



D Line
12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2
D service operates in two sections:
  1. Between 205 St and the 2 Av F station.
  2. Between W 4 St and Stillwell Av.
  • At W 4 St, trains to/from the Bronx and Brooklyn do not arrive or depart from the same level.
  • To continue your trip, make the easier across-the platform transfer at B’way-Lafayette St.

12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2
Downtown D trains run via the A from 59 St to W 4 St.

Note: D service operates in two sections during this time.


10 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
Coney Island-bound D trains run via the N from 36 St, Brooklyn to Stillwell Av.





F Line
ALL TIMES Until Spring 2012
  • F trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions.
  • Coney Island-bound F trains skip 15 St-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Pkwy.

12:01 AM to 5 AM, Tue to Fri, Nov 29 – Dec 2
Manhattan-bound F trains run via the A from Jay St-MetroTech to W 4 St.




G Line
ALL TIMES Until Spring 2012
  • G trains skip Smith-9 Sts in both directions.
  • Church Av-bound G trains skip 15 St-Prospect Park and Fort Hamilton Pkwy.



J Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Nov 30 – Dec 2
Jamaica Center-bound J trains run express from Marcy Av to Myrtle Av.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.




L Line
11 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
The last stop for alternate L trains headed toward Rockaway Pkwy is Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs
  • To continue your trip, transfer to a Rockaway Pkwy-bound L train at Myrtle-Wyckoff Avs.

11 PM to 5 AM, Tue to Thu, Nov 29 – Dec 1
L service operates in two sections:
  1. Between Rockaway Parkway and Broadway Junction, every 24 minutes.
  2. Between Broadway Junction and 8 Av.
  • To continue your trip, transfer at Broadway Junction.
This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.





M Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Wed to Fri, Nov 30 – Dec 2
Metropolitan Av-bound M trains run express from Marcy Av to Myrtle Av.

This service change affects one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, read station signs or go to www.mta.info.




N Line
10:30 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
Manhattan-bound N trains run express from Astoria Blvd to Queensboro Plaza.



Q Line
10 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
No Q trains running between Manhattan and Queens - Take the N.
  • Q service operates between 57 St-7 Av and Stillwell Av.

10 AM to 3 PM, Mon to Fri, Nov 28 – Dec 2
Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Kings Hwy.

Train Service Resumes on the Port Jervis Line!

Trenton, New Jersey- Thanks to an extraordinary rebuilding effort by Metro-North's employees, full train service resumed on the Port Jervis Line on Monday, Nov. 28 — one full month earlier and at a substantially lower cost than originally expected.
"Metro-North appreciates the patience of its 2,300 Port Jervis Line customers during the past few months," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "We want them to come back to the railroad so customers who buy a December monthly Port Jervis Line ticket can ride for free for the last three days of November. It's a small way to say welcome back."

"We look forward to providing you with the same level of train service that you previously expected," Permut added. "The interim train-bus-train shuttle service we provided, while effective, was not nearly as convenient as a one-seat ride from Port Jervis to Hoboken."

Customers who have been crossing the river to use the Hudson Line also can use their November Hudson Line monthly from any Port Jervis Line station for the last three days of the November. And customers who purchased a November monthly from Ramsey-Route 17 will be able to use it from any Port Jervis Line station.

Metro-North trains return to a full schedule of 26 daily trains and 14 trains each weekend day.

While through train service will resume, not all track repairs will be completed by November 28. However, given the tremendous progress made by Metro-North's employees and contractors, the original estimate for completion of all Port Jervis Line repairs has been moved forward from fall 2012 to June 2012.

"I'm also happy to report that the cost of repairs, substitute bus service and lost revenue is roughly half of the $60 million that we originally expected," Permut noted. The current estimate is between $30 million and $40 million.

"Metro-North also is grateful for the cooperation it got from NJTRANSIT, which accommodated our customers at Ramsey/Route 17, and to Orange County, Leprechaun Lines and especially MTA Bus, which established a whole new bus company in about a week," Permut added.

Compared to the pre-storm schedule, running times for Port Jervis line trains will slightly longer to accommodate continuing track work. Travel time for inbound trains to Hoboken/New York-Penn Station is three minutes longer; while travel time for outbound trains to Port Jervis is up to 7 minutes longer.

The additional running time is due to speed restrictions in place for three and a half miles of track between Suffern and Harriman and because only one of the two tracks between Suffern and Sloatsburg is being returned to service on November 28th and all trains in both directions have to use one track in that section.

These changes as well as speed restrictions will be removed in January, when the remaining track work that impacts train schedules should be completed. Metro-North will return to its pre-storm schedule on January 15.

Three trains in particular have schedule changes because there is only one track in service between Suffern and Sloatsburg:
  • The 9:20 a.m. weekday inbound train from Port Jervis to Hoboken will operate 26 minutes earlier. It will now depart 8:54 a.m.
  • The 8:21 a.m. weekday outbound train from Hoboken to Port Jervis will operate 17 minutes later, now departing Hoboken at 8:38 a.m.
  • The 9:30 AM weekend train departing Hoboken for Port Jervis will be held for 20 minutes between Salisbury Mills and Campbell Hall to allow an eastbound train to pass.
For full details, pick up a November 28 timetables at Hoboken, New York-Penn Station or Secaucus. Or visit NJ TRANSIT's website at www.njtransit.com, or visit our schedules page at mta.info/mnr.

Online sales up 20 percent from 2010 on Cyber Monday

Shoppers seem to be just as enthusiastic about shopping on their computers and smartphones on Cyber Monday as they were about finding deals over the weekend.
Online sales on Cyber Monday, which was started in 2005 by a retail trade group to encourage Americans to shop online the Monday after Thanksgiving, were up by early afternoon by 20 percent from a year ago, according to data from IBM Benchmark. Meanwhile, sales from mobile devices were up 8.5 percent. The group did not give dollar amounts.

The Cyber Monday numbers point to Americans’ growing comfort with using their personal computers, tablet computers and smartphones to shop and retailers’ efforts to capitalize on that. Over the years, big chains like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, have been offering incentives like hourly deals and free shipping to get consumers to spend online on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The strong start for Cyber Monday, created by a unit of The National Retail Federation, comes after more people than ever turned out during the kickoff to the holiday shopping season over the weekend, driven by earlier store openings and a push by retailers for online sales.

A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the four-day holiday weekend starting on Thanksgiving Day, up from 212 million last year, according to the NRF. And sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, rose 7 percent to $11.4 billion, the largest amount ever spent, according to ShopperTrak, which gathers stores’ data.

Even during the Black Friday weekend, 38 percent of all purchases were made online this year, up from 31 percent to 32 percent last year, said Sherif Mityas, partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney. He says online sales were driven by retailers’ promotions.

Barneys, for instance, offered 40 percent off on its website on Thanksgiving Day, a day before it began its sales in stores. And Barnes & Noble offered 40 percent to 75 percent off online products, deals that weren’t available in store.

“Retailers are doing a good job of creating more excitement online in ways they can’t do in store,” Mityas says. “They’re creating that excitement of, ‘I’ve got to get that special deal,” that is really spurring traffic.’”

It is not yet known how well retailers will ultimately fare on Cyber Monday. But last year, sales on the day topped $1 billion for the first time, making it the heaviest day of online spending ever.

Ahead of this week’s “Cyber Monday,” the NRF says nearly 80 percent of retailers plan to offer special promotions. And a record 122.9 million of Americans are expected to shop on the day, up from 106.9 million who shopped on “Cyber Monday” last year, according to a survey conducted for Shop.org.

By early afternoon on Monday, traffic was up about 46 percent year-over-year at noon, according to Akamai, a firm that tracks Web traffic said. Traffic has been up substantially since the Monday before Thanksgiving as retailers promoted online deals earlier than ever, says Lelah Manz, Akamai’s chief strategist of commerce.

“There has been a huge volume of promotional activity being driven by daily deal sites, Facebook and other social networking sites,” she says.

Jamie Minoso is among those who shopped online on Monday. She stayed in on the busy shopping day after “Black Friday,” but hit websites on Monday to check out the deals on toys, electronics and pet products online.

“I do not enjoy the traffic and chaos involved in shopping at a mall,” she says. “So, if I can get what I am looking for sent to my door for free, I will always take that option.”