After a slow start, the Washington Nationals have overtaken the New York Mets in the NL East and you might be excused if you’d thought the key to their ascent was the ridiculous offensive production of OF Bryce Harper. Actually, as the Washington Post’s James Wagner (sort of) explains, the crucial component in Washington’s rise has been IF Dan Uggla (above), he of the Mendoza Line batting average and zeal for touching & caressing his teammates :
“He’s just a big bicep teddy bear,” reliever Aaron Barrett said. After a grin and laugh, Barrett continued: “The hugs are fantastic. I love it. It’s very comforting.”
If you look closely in or near the dugout, there’s a common routine that unfolds after a Nationals home run: Uggla finds the player and gives a big hug. After Danny Espinosa smashed his sixth home run of the season Wednesday in Chicago, Uggla — the man whom Espinosa replaced in the eighth inning — gave Espinosa a big embrace in the cramped Wrigley Field dugout.
“Some guys grew up huggers; some grew up with handshakes,” Uggla said recently. “We hugged in my family. That’s who I am. It’s always funny to me when I hug someone, and I can tell right away that they didn’t grow up hugging in their family. Nothing wrong with it. It’s not an awkward hug. I get on them about it, too. Nothing weird going on. Just hugging another grown man.”
FIFA’s 2015 Congress opened Thursday amidst Swiss and U.S. authorities making up for eons of lost time by maybe-finally-probably exposing soccer’s governing body for the corrupt, corpulent money-printing enterprise everyone knows it to be anyway. While Jack Warner blames a Zionist conspiracy, the Guardian’s Barney Ronay considers The State Of Sepp Blatter, with the latter left to weather “a rare storm in the 17-year history an extraordinarily bold, extraordinarily successful, cult of presidential personality” (“there is, unexpectedly, an actual election to be fought, possibly even an unexpected moment of crisis”).
It is hard, even after all these years, to get a handle on Blatter. There is a theory that, while he may be the dictatorial leader of a furiously corrupt sporting fiefdom, he is himself not that way inclined. Blatter isn’t in it for the money (of which he has vast amounts nonetheless). He’s in it for the kicks, the power, the oddly sensual cultish devotion. Hence his ability to stay clean by proxy, the lack of trail to his door. The FBI case will test this to the full. But here anyway, Blatter did manage to appear disappointed, humbled, saddened by the revelation – who knew! – of apparently vast corruption within the organisation he has moulded to his own image over the last 30 years.
“Dear friends … the events of yesterday … a long shadow over football,” Blatter went on, stressing several times that it was a “tiny minority” on the take. And this is certainly an interesting point of view. Not least when you consider the top table at last year’s Fifa congress, from which two of his own lieutenants were absent from the Hallenstadion, in police custody while Julio “Don Julio” Grondona, the most intimately connected with the dirty TV and marketing deals and a right-hand man in the Argentinian military junta of the late 1970s, has since died.
If this really is a minority, it’s hiding within plain sight of the president. What happens now will be fascinating. The suspicion that Blatter has this in hand, that a little purge now and then is no bad thing, has receded. This is a proper fight. Although quite what football might end up with remains to be seen.
The above clipping is from the Rockford Register-Republic, circa April 1964, and was republished earlier today by SABR’s Chuck Hildenbrant (link culled from Baseball Think Factory), who adds this was not the only suggestion the American Broadcasting Company had up their sleeve :
Undaunted, ABC did not stop there with the out-of-the-box ideas. They believed other sports could benefit from dramatic changes, too, such as professional golfers competing with each other on a season-long points system administered by the PGA; the USOC holding regional Olympic competitions to better prepare the nation for the actual quadrennial event; and college football doing away with the bowl system and replacing it with a March Madness-style playoff instead. As you can see, not all their ideas were total clunkers.
Sunday’s arrest has exposed the chairman either as a disingenuous owner who talks about character and knowingly goes the other way, or as someone who is as naïve as a puppy.
Asked at the time of the signing if he had tried to get the accuser’s version of events in the sexual-assault case, McCaskey did not endear himself to women.
“An alleged victim, I think — much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation — there’s a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say,’’ he said. “But our personnel department had done its work looking into the background and the incidents. And we had the benefit of two coaches who had been with him with the 49ers.’’
One of those coaches was new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. What do you expect from a football coach? The chairman of a billion-dollar business should know better
Chances are pretty good the Atlanta Hawks are on their way to being swept in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, and considering a banged up LeBron James is getting it done sans the services of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, that’s no small feat. I’ve yet to hear anyone suggest the Hawks would be making it more of a series if G Thabo Sefolosha wasn’t recovering from a broken leg, but The Nation’s Dave Zirin asks the reasonable question why the cause of Sefolosha’s injury isn’t a bigger talking point during these playoffs (“this represents a timidity that takes a story which could act as a lens toward educating people about a national crisis and consigns it to the dustbin”)
This near-silence has been across the sports media landscape, so it feels churlish to pick on one example, but it was both too high-profile and too evocative to ignore. On Thursday morning, Mike Greenberg, hosting ESPN’s national Mike and Mike radio show, talked about how the Hawks could possibly be able to guard LeBron without Carroll, and mentioned Thabo’s absence as well. In describing for his audience why Thabo isn’t playing, all Mike Greenberg said was, “We all know what happened there.” That was it. No mention of the NYPD, the conflicting stories, or the fact that NBA players have gone out of their way to speak about police mistreatment. Just “We all know what happened there.” Actually, we don’t all know what happened there, and that’s the point. Instead of retelling or even illuminating what we know, this line was dead on arrival. And yet “we all know what happened there” were six words more than most sports media offered this past week. Even the notably outspoken TNT team of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley had nothing to say about it on Inside the NBA, broadcast immediately after the Hawks lost to Cleveland and in the aftermath of Carroll’s injury. Yes, given Shaq’s history as a volunteer police officer and Barkley’s own comments about the Black Lives Matter movement, it might not have exactly been a rousing call for social justice, but to not even mention it was bizarre. Even Marv Albert discussed Sefolosha briefly during the broadcast. But to the TNT studio team, he was the invisible man.
Like so many of you, I heard the disturbing news about David Wright today and my first thoughts were with this fine young man and his family. Sure, he’s got all the personality of a slightly less douchey Gregg Jefferies, and now, it seems he might have the career to match. Still, David Wright might not be my intellectual equal, but really, who is? Can you imagine my embarrassment in seeing Brian Cashman and Hank Steinbrenner high-fiving each other after the former learned about the Wright story on his iPad (of course, when I asked to look at the screen, this is what he’d been paying rapt attention to). Not for the first time, I have to do all the creative thinking around here.
On numerous occasions I’ve used these pages to reach out to Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to let them know that despite the crosstown rivalry between our franchises, I have only warm feelings for the Mets owners, not unlike the feeling you’d get if Shane Spencer was urinating on your leg. Though I have repeatedly made trade offers that would’ve dramatically bettered the Mets — history shows that I am as magnanimous as I am handsome — these proposals have gone unanswered. Now, faced with the loss of their only offensive threat (save for the threats Wally Backman makes every time he’s passed over for a big league job), I am again dangling sure-thing-Hall Of Famer and future All-Time HR King Alex Rodriguez for the mere price of Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard.
I know what you’re saying. “Randy, that’s totally nuts, Matt Harvey’s going down the toilet and he’s got a triple chin. You can’t trade a marketing juggernaut like A-Rod for a self-styled playboy with a triple chin.” Such talk doesn’t scare me one bit. We’ll figure out a way to get the slovenly, unshaven Harvey into Yankee Universe Shape if I personally have to show up with the medicine ball and supervise his training myself.
As for the thoroughly unproven Syndergaard, I realize Yankee fans are concerned that a guy who looks like he’s auditioning for Candlebox is a rather poor fit for the World’s Most Successful Professional Sports Franchise (HEY KID, WHO’S YOUR STYLE GURU, JACOB DEGROM?), but please keep in mind it’s difficult to get a decent haircut on a rookie per diem. Even in Queens. I hear the Mets had their own in-house barber, but apparently he objected at having to be the club’s general manager for the same salary.
All kidding aside, the important thing is that I’m committed to improving both teams (provided the Mets pay all of A-Rod, Harvey and Syndergaard’s remaining salaries), but if push comes to shove, I’ll settle for simply improving the Mets. It’s not like anyone else is going to.
So the Yankees had to choose the Sunday before Memorial Day, a holiday when tributes are traditionally, logically and respectfully devoted to our war dead, to honor Bernie Williams.
Next, the Yankees had to turn what could have been a more sensible Bernie Williams Day on another Sunday into Bernie Williams Night on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
And it didn’t matter to any of the above parties that Williams didn’t serve in the U.S. military, let alone risk his life in combat. And Williams, too, might have known that this Sunday afternoon or night on Memorial Day weekend was not the time to honor him, thus, flattered as he is, the above parties, given that it’s only May, should choose another date.
Though I’m generally not in the habit of defending the Yankees from charges of callousness and/or greed, I must point out the following not-so-arcane factoid to Mr. Mushnick ; the Yankees are hosting a Monday matinee against the Royals. Unless my calendar is incorrect, Monday, May 25 is MEMORIAL DAY. I would be very surprised to learn, for instance, that our good friend Randy L. issued the following edict : “there will be no acknowledgement of the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s armed forces because we wasted the opportunity to do Sunday evening, instead paying homage to the draft dodging Bernie Williams.”
Yeah, I know there’s such thing as Memorial Day Weekend, but it’s a huge stretch to claim the Yankees are pissing on the graves of wartime dead by failing to honor them two days in a row.
An investigation by English football’s governing body alleged Blackpool “failed to ensure that no spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch” after more than 200 fans forced the final game of the season to be abandoned after invading the pitch.
While the Football League impose possible future points deductions the FA could force Blackpool to play games behind closed doors next season should they feel safety procedures failed sufficiently to cause a danger to players.
It’s the second charge to be hanging over the Seasiders from the Football Association at present, chairman Oyston is awaiting news on five misconduct charges after an abusive text conversation with a supporter leaked at the end of last year.
Commemorative bricks with fans’ names inscribed along Clark & Addison streets outside Wrigley (much like those depicted above) have reportedly turned up in a Pontiac, IL dump, despite being sold to the public on the promise said bricks would be permanent fixtures. From the Pontiac Daily Leader’s Paul Westermyer (link swiped from Baseball Think Factory) :
The Chicago Cubs began selling the pavers near the holiday season in 2006, inviting fans to purchase brick pavers on which they could engrave personalized messages, up to a maximum of three lines and 15 characters per line. Prices varied, but were typically around $160.
The Ricketts family, led by Tom Ricketts, won their bid for the Cubs in January 2009 and purchased the franchise from the Tribune Company, and began a renovation project in September 2014.
However, one of the criticisms of the renovations concerned a lack of transparency regarding the fate of the pavers. Miles Zaremski, a blogger for the Huffington Post’s Chicago web edition, questioned the Cubs in June 2014 and their future plans for renovation and how that would impact the personalized pavers fans purchased.
“This writer phoned the front office on two separate occasions and asked the question, what does the Ricketts family plan on doing with those brick pavers as part of the renovation plans?” Zaremski wrote. “The answer I received both times was the same: WE DON’T KNOW.
“I then asked, what about those of us whose bricks were purchased at the very start and as a consequence have received a favorable spot … like at the front entrance? Again, the answer was, WE DON’T KNOW.”
Shortly after the Marlins broke up Shelby Miller’s near no-no in Miami Sunday, Fish skipper Mike Redmond was relieved of his duties, this despite the club being a mere 5 and half games out of first with 4 months of baseball to play. And then there’s the matter of a contract extension thru 2017, signed by hard-to-please baseball expert Jeffrey Loria, who as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out, has been going thru managers (6 since 2010) at a clip that would’ve embarrassed the late George Steinbrenner. Of more general interest than the fate of the Marlins franchise, however is Loria’s participation in MLB revenue sharing, a scenario Rosenthal likens to the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees subsidizing Miami’s incompetence :
The opening of Marlins Park in 2012 was supposed to end the franchise’s long run as a revenue-sharing recipient and transform it into a contributor.
Instead, the Marlins remain one of the largest recipients and – ahem – one of baseball’s most profitable franchises.
Incredible, considering they ranked 28th in average home attendance entering Sunday’s play after ranking 27th and 29th the previous two seasons.
Incredible, considering that their below-market TV deal with FOX Sports runs through 2020, though the team wants to renegotiate and ideally begin a new contract in ’17.
Oh, and let’s not forget: On top of all the money the Marlins are paying former managers and executives, they also owed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia more than $14 million when they released him earlier this month.
I awoke yesterday with what I thought to be a genuine case of SUPER BOWL fever, but alas, it was merely the H1N5 virus (whoops!). Shortly before the projectile vomiting began, however, I felt compelled to watch a clip of Dolphins K Garo Yepremian’s ill-advised attempt at throwing a forward pass in Super Bowl VII. Which led me down the inevitable YouToob rabbit hole of totally fucked up sports-related videos. And I have to say, nothing in my nearly 9 years of blogging fully prepared me for the oratory powers of GARO YEPREMIAN, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER. Good news, DDP, you’re finally off the hook!
I realize Charlie Rose is equal parts pressed for time or perhaps not entirely conversant with every facet of Allen Iverson’s life story, but how do you not ask a followup question the repeated $40,000.00 visits to strip clubs? But full credit to CBS — live morning television is the last place I would expect to see The Answer.
Montreal Alouettes DL Khalif Mitchell was fined by the CFL Thursday for violating the league’s social media policy. I’m not totally familiar with said policy, but I a have to presume that posting links to YouTube videos promoting Holocaust revisionism is probably on the short list of things not to do. From The National Post’s Sean Fitz-Gerald :
Within the first minute of the so-called film, the narrator references the Holocaust as the “alleged murder” of six million Jews. What follows is a rambling 77 minutes filled with often incoherent passages claiming to disprove the scope of the Holocaust.
The Nuremberg trials, for instance, are dismissed as “the most disgraceful legal farce in history,” and the number of Jews murdered in camps is dismissed as implausibly high. It is not narrated by a human voice, but rather a computerized voice.
Mitchell said he did not endorse the video on his Twitter account, arguing that he merely passed it along to fellow users. B’nai Brith described his Twitter activity as “bizarre postings and outlandish conspiracy theories, comparisons of police officers to the Ku Klux Klan and hateful videos denying the Holocaust.”
Mitchell continued posting through the afternoon. At one point, he wrote, “I know the TRUTH Shall Free Me…Anti-Semitism doesn’t, hasn’t & NEVER Will LIVE Here.” A little while later, he posted a link to Forbes magazine’s website, to a story under the headline “Israel Forcibly Injected African Immigrants with Birth Control, Report Claims.”
New Orleans fired head coach Monty Williams (above, left) Tuesday, just weeks after owner Tom Benson lauded Williams and his charges for a earning a playoff berth in the 2014-15 campaign. Noting that Williams was saddled with “a roster that at times seemed patched together like an old quilt,”, the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Jimmy Smith argues the team, “fired the wrong man”, with his sights aimed directly at GM Dell Demps (above, right).
There has been an obvious disconnect between Williams and Demps from almost the moment Demps arrived here in July 2010, about a month after Williams was hired as head coach.
Holes that should have been addressed more decisively were not, resulting in ongoing challenges that Williams and the players on hand faced resolutely and conquered. Demps’ philosophy of trading draft picks for young, more established talent is decidedly imperfect.
The team hasn’t had a first-round draft pick since 2012 when it won the lottery and snagged Anthony Davis.
Then, with a second first-round pick that year, the team chose Austin Rivers and tried to convert him to a point guard.
Giving up two first-round draft picks for Jrue Holiday, who has played a half season in each of his first two years in New Orleans because of injury, was a calamitous overreach.
And it’s quite possible the Pelicans could lose center Omer Asik, who cost a 2015 No. 1 pick, if he walks in free agency — leaving the Pelicans with just a second-round choice in the June draft.
There are about a half-dozen free agents on the current roster, and there are precious few chips with which to gamble sitting in front of the man holding the Pelicans’ roster improvement cards.
After doing, well, almost exactly what Bill Simmons claimed he’d do, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the public temperature and decided Monday to hit Patriots QB Tim Brady with a 4 game suspension and New England owner Bob Kraft with a $1 million fine for the former’s role in deflation of game balls and failure to cooperate with the league’s investigation. While some are bemused that Brady’s punishment is roughly half what he’d get for spousal abuse (granted, there’s little competitive advantage in that), the Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel figures the Pats got off easy.
Four games for Tom Brady, who at 38 in August could use a break. A million bucks for a franchise Forbes says is worth $1.4 billion. A first-rounder. A fourth. Those are flesh wounds. They’ll draw blood, like so many flesh wounds do, but they won’t devastate the Patriots.
And the Patriots should have been devastated. Same for Brady. Not only did they cheat, but they didn’t cooperate fully with the investigation. Both locker-room attendants “were not fully candid,” according to Vincent’s letter to the team, and one of them – I think it was Dumb, though it could’ve been Dumber – refused a final interview request.
Brady cheated the Colts, probably cheated a lot more teams than that, then refused to help the NFL get to the truth … and all he got for it was a lousy four-game suspension.
And a T-shirt that says “2015 Super Bowl Champions.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE : from time to time, highly respected Bronx baseball executive Randy L. visits CSTB to address the major issues of the day, sporting and otherwise. After last week’s highly publicized and debated premiere of Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain documentary, “Montage Of Heck”, Randy requested, no, he insisted on having his say – GC).
Greetings members of the Yankee Universe, lovers of high art and the jealous, unsophisticated, dull-witted persons who find trivia night at their local chicken wing emporium to be the highlight of their week. Speaking of which, when persons like this blog’s editor spent the early 1990′s chasing “speedballs” and fleeting, sleazy encounters with persons of indeterminate gender or planetary orgin at establishments like lower Manhattan’s Pyramid Club, I was busting my ass, honing the skills that would someday see me become the crucial individual leading professional sports’ most important franchise. As such, I cannot, for instance, tell you which member of Ugly Kid Joe would someday go on to shoot Osama Bin Laden. When you try to tell me a joke like, “what’s the difference between a back issue of The Big Takeover and the bathroom at CBGB?”, I simply have no idea what you’re talking about.
That said, I do make some effort to put popular culture in some broader context, and when a plaid-clad Brian Cashman announced he’d arranged an advance screening for Yankee brass of “Montage Of Heck”, adding in his usually smug fashion, “but you wouldn’t care about that, would you, Randy?”, I was all too happy to show that sniveling, overpaid/oversexed little creep that just when you think you know Randy L., it turns out you’ve got no fucking idea.
It’s an American tragedy, and the film bore an uncanny resemblance to a collection of video tapes I’ve compiled from scenes shot in a number of midtown NYC penthouses and health clubs. You see, unlike the tawdry punk rock world inhabited by the late Kurt Cobain and the sickening creeps who read & edit this blog, baseball doesn’t look kindly upon defacing rental properties or using needles without the supervision of team-approved medical personnel. While it saddens me that Mr. Cobain didn’t live long enough to reap the rewards and gold CD statuettes he earned during his artistic tenure, a young Randy L. would’ve been the first person to offer his legal skills to a Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame seeking to deny entry, much as you’ll see Shannon Hoon singing “God Bless America” at the new Yankee Stadium before I sign a six million dollar check made out to a monumental fraud like Alex Rodriguez.
And for fuck’s sake, Cashman. Get rid of the skater shorts. It’s 2015.
Simmons’ next move will probably be something more lucrative / prominent than say, former on-air personality Jay Mariotti’s current gig with a San Francisco coupon shopper. On Friday, Mariotti gloated that perhaps Simmons wasn’t much of a talent to begin with, adding, “ESPN created a superfan, now ESPN has uncreated him. Superfans are not real and don’t have staying power.” So congrats on achieving the impossible, Jay. You’ve now got me rooting for Bill Simmons.
Despite blocking me on Twitter (?), I wish Simmons no ill-will whatsoever. As implied or stated on countless occasions around here, I’m clearly not a fan, but yeah, compared to Mariotti he’s a fountain of wit and insight. Faint praise, sure, but when the guy loses a $6 million a year gig by running to the aid of the persecuted Tom Brady, you can’t say he’s strayed from his roots.