Bidding War Alert, Pt. II

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 10:34 pm by

Thanks to Kris Gillespie for bringing the one-man sensation McRorie to CSTB’s attention. I hate to pit talented artists against each other, but this guy has already rendered Jason Starr redundant. Sorry, Jason, but show business is a motherfucker.

Knicks Outlast Hawks In OT

Posted in Basketball at 10:13 pm by

Imagine how good Jamal Crawford would be if he could hit a third of his shots from the field? Imagine how good Antoine Walker would be if he could guard anyone? Since both fantasies are up there with world peace and Jim Rome getting laryngitis, tonight’s 110-109 NY win will have to suffice, especially in light of Crawford’s 2nd ridiculous game winning heave in the past week.

(David Stern, paying tribute to Ted Turner for his role in keeping Van Earl Wright off the streets for so many years

As for Stephon Marbury, when facing bad-to-average opposition, he’s All-Universe. As was Nazr Mohammed, when facing the shitty club that traded him away last year.

Houston’s Comeback Delayed

Posted in Basketball at 7:07 pm by

I’m willing to bet that Allan Houston will return to the Knicks starting lineup sometime before Tariq Abdul-Wahad plays another game for the Mavericks. The NY Post’s Michael Morrisey catches up with the former.

It only seems that the more Allan Houston practices, the further away his return date becomes.

Yesterday, Houston participated in a full-court scrimmage for the first time this season before indicating he probably wouldn’t be ready to return Saturday in Charlotte.

The Knick shooting guard ” rehabbing a sore left knee ” actually mentioned it could be as much as two weeks before he rejoins his teammates, but he’s done speculating or worrying about return dates for now.

“I’m pretty happy,” a sweat-soaked Houston said. “I don’t want to get too ahead of myself and say, ‘Well, all right, now I’m ready to play.’

“I have to make sure I listen to the trainers. Because I haven’t had a training camp, this is the closest thing to a training camp that I’m having.”

Head coach Lenny Wilkens said it was “very optimistic” to think Houston could be ready by Saturday. Wilkens was pleased by Houston’s participation in the full-contact scrimmage, which replicated approximately 10 minutes of game action. But the coach wants to see a few more practices, and the next one won’t be until Thursday at the earliest.

“He didn’t shy away from contact ” he ran the floor pretty good,” Wilkens said. “It’s a start. It’s a good first step.

“I need to see him do it a few times so that I know he’s comfortable and he knows he’s comfortable and the bumping is not taking a toll.”

Ending the first quarter on a 7-0 run and shooting 53% from the field, New York are up 31-21 so far in Atlanta, Nazr Mohammed dropping 10 points on his former club in the early going.

Terminally Unfunny Stern Nemesis Sued Over Wrongful Dismissal

Posted in The Law at 5:52 pm by

(the not-so-dandy Don. David Coverdale just called, he wants his sense of entitlement back)

Not only is Imus apparently a bitch to work for, but Tom Greenwood says he owns 8 million sneakers.

Irish Fire Willingham

Posted in Gridiron at 2:50 pm by

Far be it for me to suggest that a program with such deep delusions of granduer as Notre Dame doesn’t have the right to fire their coach anytime they want, particularly on the heels of a 6-5 season and a national teevee humilation at the hands of Southern Cal. But just for fun, let’s ponder the following questions :

1) if 6-5 was such a blot on the school’s record, if this season fell so short of expectations, why did Notre Dame’s A.D. accept an invitation to the Insight Bowl?

2) How dull would Division One college football be if the percentage of black players equalled the current percentage of black head coaches?

3) Utah’s Urban Meyer is said to be a contender for the Notre Dame job. Is there a less urban place on earth than Utah?

I have no idea what’s next for Willingham, but perhaps he could serve as the next Director of Homeland Security, given his expertise fighting a war he couldn’t possibly win.

Velvets Acetate Discovered At Yard Sale

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 2:20 pm by

By collector skum standards, this would have to be the find of the century. Slightly more thrilling than getting the first Vatican Commandos single on eBay.

Powell Compares Mets’ Pursuit Of Pedro To Glavine

Posted in Baseball at 12:41 pm by

from Shaun Powell in today’s Newsday :

The more you hear about the Mets, their offer to Pedro Martinez and their curious pursuit of players like him this offseason, the more you should think about Tom Glavine.

Two years ago, Glavine became a free agent and the Mets were instantly smitten. They saw a future Hall of Famer, a lefty with the craftsmanship of a Bentley, a pitcher with no arm trouble and a veteran who’d bring favorable headlines and credibility to Shea Stadium.

Meanwhile, almost everyone else in baseball saw a guy who left his best with the Braves. Including the Braves.

Atlanta didn’t make a major effort to keep a pitcher who helped keep the Braves in control of its division for more than a decade. True, the Braves were cutting payroll, but they weren’t stupid. More than anybody, they know pitchers and the value of pitching. If they felt Glavine, then approaching 37, had been worth it, they would’ve met his demands.

Well, they didn’t. They let one of the best players in franchise history take a walk, and that was enough to discourage many teams from taking a chance. They figured: If the Braves don’t want him, why should we?

That kind of sensible logic didn’t stop the Mets. No way. The Mets were too much in love to see the signals. Sometimes the heart beats too loud to hear the warnings. So they invested $35 million and three years in a yesterday player, not a today or a tomorrow player.

Well, you’ve seen the results. When Glavine heads into his final year at age 39 on Opening Day, he will bring his 20-28 record as a Met with him. His 3.60 ERA last season, while an improvement from 4.52 the year before, still wasn’t very Brave-like. Every now and then Glavine finds the corners of the plate and winds the clock back to 2000, the last time he won 20 games, but for the most part he hasn’t been worth the steep price the Mets paid.

Sad thing is, everyone saw this coming. Except the Mets.

That is what happens when you chase 11 p.m. players, also known as past-prime-time players, something the Mets do often. And something they’re doing now.

If I’m Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets, I’m happy to know my new GM is exploring all avenues. But there’s a limit to how far the Mets should chase after the 1999 All-Star team roster.

Pedro was looking for a big financial score, and the Mets went one better than the Red Sox. The Sox might end up treating Pedro the way the Braves once treated Glavine. While Pedro’s hardly finished as a quality starter, conventional wisdom says you don’t give three or four years at big money to a 33-year-old who averages less than seven innings a start.

Much as I love bashing Tom Glavine, with any kind of decent run support last year, his record as a Met is far better than 20-28. Powell makes solid points about offering long-term deals to old fucks, but there are a few guys, Clemens, Schilling and Johnson in particular, who have put up sick numbers in the so-called twilight of their careers. That Pedro hasn’t the build of the above cannot be argued, and his durability is questionable, too.

Marchman On Beane & The Kendall Trade

Posted in Baseball at 12:03 pm by

The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman reconsiders Billy Beane and the A’s trade for Jason Kendall :

It’s hard to change a reputation in baseball, for better or for worse. From Carl Everett, who spent years as a model citizen and is still thought of as a madman, to Jim Edmonds, who recently won a fifth straight Gold Glove out of sheer inertia, the ideas people have of public figures are rarely revisited. There are many reputations in need of scrutiny, but none more so than that of Oakland General Manager Billy Beane, who has been lauded by so many for so long that his deals are by now acclaimed out of mere habit.

This was the case with Beane’s acquisition last week of catcher Jason Kendall for starter Mark Redman and reliever Arthur Rhodes. The deal was a risk, albeit one that was arguably worth taking, and is likely to hurt the A’s more than it will help them in years to come.

Kendall’s value, coming off a superb year in which he caught 146 games and finished ninth in the National League in on-base average, is almost certainly about to collapse. He is a historically unique player, a catcher who provides solid offense based almost entirely on durability (he’s had at least 545 at-bats each of the last three years) and batting average (he’s hit .319 or better in five different seasons).

There are problems with this. First, even when he hits .320, Kendall is merely a decent hitter: His OPS, after adjusting for park effects, was just 10% better than league average this year. When he hits .280, as he did in 2002, that figure drops to 20% worse than average. Other than hitting singles and drawing walks, he has no offensive skills. This hasn’t been a problem yet, because when you combine that on base ability with great durability, you have a significant asset.

Unfortunately, Kendall is not going to endure. In the postwar history of baseball, there are all of 26 player seasons in which a catcher older than 30 has had at least 500 at-bats. Interestingly, the only good campaigns among these were had by power hitters.

Kendall will be 31 this coming year. His tenure in Oakland will see him lose batting average due to age, as knees that have taken years of pounding behind the plate will prevent him from running as fast as he has, and it will see him lose durability, also due to age. For him to keep the only two talents that make him a good player would be historically unprecedented – most likely, he’ll be a solid player along the lines of A.J. Pierzynski, but never again a star.

The left-handers Beane sent to Pittsburgh for Kendall aren’t particularly exciting at this point in their careers, but they’re the sort of average performers who become suddenly conspicuous when the lack of them costs a team a playoff spot. Had the 2004 Chicago White Sox roster included Redman and Rhodes, for instance, the AL Central race would have been much closer than it actually was.

This deal isn’t about Redman and Rhodes, though, nor even about Kendall. It’s about money, specifically the poor management of it by an Oakland team that’s never fulfilled its potential, and whose actions just don’t match up with its philosophies. “Moneyball” is a damn good book, and Beane ought to read it for some tips on baseball management.

Pittsburgh has been trying to unload Kendall’s contract for quite some time. His 6-year, $60 million deal, which lasts through the 2007 season, looks bad in retrospect, because of the changed labor climate that’s driven salaries down, and due to a freak injury that cost Kendall two productive years.

Kendall is owed $34 million over the next three years, of which Pittsburgh will apparently pay $3 million; Redman and Rhodes are due $14.75 million over the same span. In essence, then, the A’s are paying $16.25 million for the upgrade from Rhodes and Redman to Kendall over the next three years. This year, when Kendall played at the top of his range, Redman was mediocre, and Rhodes had an awful year, the difference was worth about three wins. With that figure likely to narrow greatly, this looks like a lot of money to pay for a moderately improved chance of winning a pennant, especially given that Oakland owner Steve Schott is apparently set to continue his stingy ways.

Whether trading for a pricey and apparently injured Octavio Dotel to fix the mess he made by signing Rhodes to be his closer, or acquiring outfielder Bobby Kielty on the strength of a three-month stretch in 2002 when he drew some walks, Beane has done very little that’s impressive, and an awful lot that doesn’t help his team. Trading for Kendall to replace Jermaine Dye as an overpaid albatross is just another in a growing list of baffling moves where Beane covers up a self-inflicted wound with a player in decline.

Oakland has done a lot in Beane’s tenure, and there’s little doubt that he still ranks as among the best executives in the game. But with moves like the Kendall trade, the “genius” tag that hangs on his neck is starting to look in need of a bit of polishing. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt, but for him to earn a return to the playoffs he’ll have to do a lot more than keep playing his shell game.

Beldar (From France) Interrupts Junket To Vent

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 10:24 am by

From MSNBC, recent quotes from the still-working Dan Ackroyd.

œGreetings and death to our enemies, Aykroyd began the interview. When one reporter asked what enemy the star was referring to, Aykroyd replied: œWell, the common enemy in North America is the Western consumer. The consumer has driven oil up to $50 a barrel so we have to have these wars.

Regarding George Bush™s re-election, Aykroyd said, œWe™ve got to support [Bush] as the commander in chief and we™ve got to support those young men and women who are out there protecting our big, fat, bloated lifestyle.

Giants Sign Benitez

Posted in Baseball at 10:14 am by

The SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman reports that the Giants have signed free agent reliever Armando Benitez, 32, to a 3 years contract worth $21 million.

Benitez, who resurrected his career with a stellar campaign for Florida last season (47 saves in 51 chances), saved 157 games for the Mets between 1999 and 2003 before a loss of confidence and control (and some pretty big games) greased the wheels for his trade to the Yankees.

Davis Gone In Cleveland

Posted in Gridiron at 10:00 am by

Whether Butch Davis has jumped or was pushed, we’ll not know for a while. What does seem curious is the Browns’ decision to let the players pick their interim coach. After having 58 points hung on them by the Bengals, perhaps they’ll not want to select defensive coordinator Dave Campo?

The Best Team In L.A. ..

Posted in Basketball at 12:33 am by

…is the one whose celeb fans include Billy Crystal and….uh, Arsenio Hall.


I’m talking, of course, about the emerging Clippers, who at 9-6 are off to their best start in 20 years. Elton Brand (above) torched the Cavs for 30 points and Chris Wilcox and Bobby Simmons combined for 22 rebounds en route to Los Angeles’ 94-82 victory.


Unwatchable Mime-Fest Relegated

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 11:45 pm by

From Tuesday’s Financial Times :

Top of the Pops, the pop music programme, has been axed from BBC1 after 41 years on the main television channel. The move follows the programme’s struggle with declining interest in the singles charts and comes a year after a high profile relaunch. From next spring, the show will be broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday evenings, forging closer links with BBC Radio 1′s Chart Show. It will have a new format, featuring music archives already exploited by TOTP2, the show’s spin-off on BBC2.

(sickening no-talents prepare to prance and pout for even fewer eyeballs)

Mets Outbidding Sox For Pedro?

Posted in Baseball at 11:31 pm by

The NY Times’ Lee Jenkins reports in tomorrow’s paper that the New York Mets have made a serious financial proposition to free agent P Pedro Martinez.

The Mets have submitted a contract proposal to Pedro Martínez that is more lucrative than the one offered by the Boston Red Sox, according to a major league executive with knowledge of the discussions.

In making a run at Martínez, the Mets are among the first teams to put their cash on the table for a premium player. The Red Sox have offered Martínez a two-year guaranteed contract worth $25.5 million with an easily attainable third-year option. The Mets countered late Sunday with a three-year guaranteed contract worth approximately $38 million with a vesting option for a fourth year. Neither the Mets nor Martínez’s agent Fernando Cuza would confirm or deny the offer.

With the offer, the Mets have conveyed that they are serious about signing Martínez and want to make an impact in the 2005 season. Although there is obvious skepticism as to why Martínez would leave a World Series champion to play for the Mets, who barely avoided finishing in last place for the third year in a row, there are also indications that he is considering the idea. Martínez has previously had success in the National League, coming up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and establishing himself in Montreal, where he won the first of his three Cy Young awards.

The Red Sox indicated that they would not change their initial offer to Martínez until they knew there was competition. Now, the 33-year-old Martínez has something to take back to Boston, whether the Mets are just a bargaining chip or a legitimate destination.

Nelson To Sit, Johnson To Coach

Posted in Basketball at 6:10 pm by

Finally, an heir apparent from Nellie’s staff of some 16,000 assistant coaches. From the Associated Press :

Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson will step aside for Tuesday night’s game against San Antonio and let his top assistant Avery Johnson (above) run the team.

Nelson will still be on the bench against the Spurs, but will leave it to Johnson to make decisions.

“I’ll give him my opinion and he’ll have to make the call,” Nelson said. “Just like when he gives me his opinion, I reject some of them, he can reject mine.”

Milton Bradley Lights Up The Offseason

Posted in Baseball at 5:12 pm by

Faced with Ron Artest dominating the news for much of the autumn, the hyper-competitive Milton Bradley has responded like a true gamer — challenging a traffic cop who had stopped another motorist to arrest him.

The Red Sox beating Pat Tillman for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman Of The Year award, I can accept, but Bradley oughta demand a recount.

Seriously, folks, when I saw the headline reading “Bradley Held In Traffic Dispute”, I was praying the cops had violated Shawn Bradley’s civil rights.

Boggs On The Hall Of Fame Ballot

Posted in Baseball at 2:39 pm by

Along with Darryl Strawberry, Ryne Sandberg, Willie McGee, Chilli Davis, Tony Phillips, Jack McDowell and Jim Abbott.

Sadly, Margo Adams does not get a vote.

Sirius To Air NCAA Hoops Tournament

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Sports Radio at 2:25 pm by

The AP is reporting that satellite radio co. Sirius has signed a 3 year deal with the NCAA to broadcast the Men’s Basketball Tournament. While this is great news for those that love having too many devices in their car, the real March Madness will ensue when you try to figure out how to have Sirius and XM Radio installed in the same vehicle. As of this moment, Sirius has college hoops, the NFL and in 2006, Howard Stern. XM will feature MLB programming starting next spring. I’ve not opted for one of these services as I’m waiting for either (or both) to sign a pledge that they’ll not employ Scott Ferrell.

Jeff V.G., Yao & T-Mac

Posted in Basketball at 1:58 pm by

The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith thinks he knows what the Houston Rockets’ problem is, and he’s not talking about the upcoming Calvin Murphy trial.

There are just two words to explain what’s wrong with the 6-9 Houston Rockets: Jeff Van Gundy. Or is that three words?

This is not to say Van Gundy is a bad coach. He’s just the wrong coach for the Rockets.

We see it more in college than in pro ball, but this is a classic case of a coach demanding his players adjust to him rather than him adjusting to them. And this is not one of those disciplinary, make-them-work, good-for-the-coach, teach-the-bums values things. The Rockets have a good group of players, by most accounts serious-minded and committed.

They’re playing a slow game, mostly walking the ball up and running a half-court offense. It was a good tactic for Van Gundy with a team like his aging New York Knicks, a slower, possession game that can keep a less talented team in the game and steal some wins.

Now he has young talent in YaoMing and Tracy McGrady, although Houston, to be fair, doesn’t have that much overall talent after giving away three starters to get McGrady.

But the Rockets need to run, or at least play more in transition. Defenses are setting up against them, turning them perimeter-oriented, thus limiting McGrady to jump shots and surrounding Yao and making him work too hard for baskets. It has tired him, and he has had trouble finishing games.

The Rockets’ statistics reflect their style, not their talent. They are 29th in scoring, 28th in rebounding, 27th in steals and 23rd in blocks even with Yao (above). Their field-goal attempts are 26th most, and they are 29th in free throws, showing a lack of penetration to the basket.

McGrady, the league’s leading scorer the last two seasons with a combined average of more than 30 points per game, has had only two games this season over 25 points. Yao, averaging 17.8, has been in single digits five times this season, twice in the last two games against teams without dominating centers.

“My game right now, I’m hesitant on the offensive end and I can’t get into a rhythm,” McGrady said after Saturday’s loss to the Jazz. “I really don’t feel in sync on the court. I can’t get into the flow at all. I don’t know what it is.”

I do. McGrady needs to get easy baskets in transition to open up his perimeter game. Of course, better rebounding would help. Yao is one of the league’s best running centers, but he’s walking into the defense too much.

“Neither of those guys has played like we need them to play to win down the stretch,” Van Gundy said last week.

The style Van Gundy favors wears out players. The Rockets aren’t great, but they have too much talent to allow lesser teams to stay in the game with limited possessions.

SkyDome Sale Almost Complete

Posted in Baseball at 1:05 pm by

From The Star’s Dave Perkins, link courtesy of Jon Solomon :

The Blue Jays finally will own their own ball yard, possibly as soon as today.

The long-awaited sale of the SkyDome to Rogers Communications was in the final stages of being negotiated on the weekend, including last night. It should be formally completed and announced this week and possibly today, according to multiple sources.

The stadium was state of the art when it opened, mostly at taxpayer expense, in 1989 with a final cost of more than $600 million (all figures Canadian). Rogers will buy it from U.S.-based Sportsco International LP (limited partners) for something approaching $30 million.

Due diligence had been taking place over the past several weeks, since Sportsco, which bought the stadium out of bankruptcy proceedings six years ago, began to feel a financial crunch and became more agreeable to selling. The death this past summer of Alan Cohen, one of the principals in Sportsco who lived in Florida, also played a factor.

This deal has been rumoured before as being imminent. This time, apparently, they’ve either tied the knot or are at least at the altar.

So let the speculation begin about the future. The Jays, with the SkyDome as part of the package to maximize value, will become more attractive to a buyer should anyone wish to come up with the cash to take the money-losing team off Ted Rogers’ hands. He has owned the club for five years, losing large but decreasing amounts on baseball operations, yet still gaining the all-important television programming ” Canadian content, too ” so vital to his media empire.

If ownership of the SkyDome can make the Jays a profitable venture, Rogers may wish to maintain his ownership position. He has said he intends to stay with the Blue Jays for the long haul, although executives within his own company suggest it should get out of the baseball business. The constant financial squeeze on team payroll has led to frustration being openly voiced by general manager J.P. Ricciardi, but it remains to be seen how the synergy of team and stadium will change the dynamic of spending.

There have been reports, most reasonably well founded, that Ted Rogers intends to rename the building the Rogers SkyDome. It has lacked a corporate name since it opened, but expect that to change once the deal does down. Which should be any time now.

Mitchell Tires of Feuding With Vince, Starts Fighting With Stephon

Posted in Basketball at 10:36 am by

(Stephon working his way around Milt Palacio Saturday afternoon)

Frayed tempers and hurt feelings were the order of the day following New York’s 108-102 win over Toronto the other day (72 hours after the Raptors had routed the Knicks) and the Toronto Sun’s Mike Koreen and Steve Buffery were on the scene with the kleenex.

Raptors Coach Sam Mitchell does not care what Stephon Marbury thinks about his coaching style. Mitchell didn’t mince words yesterday when asked about the York Knicks guard, who said that the Raptors do not run many plays for Vince Carter following a win over Toronto on Saturday.

(Mitchell’s management style was often questioned in Walford, too)

“I should not have to waste my time answering questions about what someone on another team that’s struggling like we’re struggling (said) about how we should play,” said Mitchell.

“It’s not worth my time, my thought or my energy to even have to respond to that.

“When we beat (the Knicks) by 25 (on Wednesday), (what) did he say … when we ran up and down the court and everybody scored? They beat us by six (Saturday) and all of a sudden (Marbury has an opinion).”

Jenkins On Minaya’s Mating Dance With Pedro

Posted in Baseball at 10:20 am by

The New York Times’ Lee Jenskins strikes a cautionary tone regarding the Mets’ courtship of Pedro Martinez.

Martínez could soon receive a contract offer from the Mets that is competitive with the one he has already received from Boston. The notion of leaving the Red Sox for the Mets is just crazy enough for Martínez to consider. Part of his appeal has always been his free-flinging nature, and signing with the Mets would only add to his unpredictable persona.

Martínez and the Mets would make a strange but not inconceivable match. They are desperate for attention and eager to reassert their relevance. Curt Schilling has overshadowed Martínez for the past year, the Yankees have overshadowed the Mets for the past decade and now they are discussing a union of the scorned.

Besides sellout crowds, a supportive clubhouse and another chance at the World Series, the Red Sox have offered Martínez a two-year deal worth $25.5 million, with an easily attainable option year that would bring the package to $38.5 million with $2 million in performance incentives.

To outbid Boston for Martínez, the Mets will probably have to offer him at least a three-year guaranteed contract worth more than $13 million a season with an equally attainable option year.

Omar Minaya wants to make a statement in his first off-season as the Mets’ general manager, but it is risky to give the 33-year-old Martínez a four-year deal, considering his slight physique and the velocity he lost last season.

It will be difficult to match the good will that Boston has built up with Martínez. He is perhaps Boston’s most famous athlete over the past seven years, and even when he was struggling last season, the Red Sox gave him every possible concession. When the Mets had discussions about Martínez, some in the organization were concerned that he would need a separate set of rules.

While playing for Boston, Martínez was allowed to report late to the stadium on days he did not pitch and was coddled after he called the Yankees “my daddy” after a loss in September. In Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, with the Red Sox drubbing the Yankees, Manager Terry Francona allowed Martínez to pitch, presumably because Martínez wanted to participate in the excitement.

Free Agent SS Orlando Cabrera is asking for 4-5 year, a request that the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman doubts the Red Sox will honor.

With shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez expected to be ready for prime time perhaps as early as 2006, the Red Sox do not have an interest in wrapping up any shortstop in a three-, never mind a four- or five-year minimum deal. With free agent catcher Jason Varitek still seeking a five-year deal and the Red Sox offering four, and the club apparently willing to sign Pedro Martinez to three guaranteed years, a long-term deal for Cabrera seems next to impossible to imagine.

     The one way Cabrera could conceivably come back: by accepting an offer of salary arbitration from the Red Sox, who would not mind if the shortstop accepted and cost them $7 million to $8 million for next year. The Sox also would not mind if Cabrera rejected arbitration and signed elsewhere, meaning the club could gain a draft pick next June.

     The Red Sox are expected to pursue a number of veteran options in the shortstop market. Some of the names that have already come up, or are expected to shortly, are Royce Clayton, Jose Valentin and Barry Larkin. The club made a two-year proposal to Omar Vizquel, who instead inked a three-year deal with the Giants


Rosenthal Tips SF to Pursue Benitez

Posted in Baseball at 11:57 pm by

from Ken Rosenthal’s latest Sporting News column :

Look for the Giants to make a push for free-agent closer Armando Benitez. The team appears stalled in its negotiations with closer Dustin Hermanson, who is believed to be seeking a two-year deal in the $6 million range. Benitez’s price also is high ” he wants a three-year contract between $21 million and $24 million ” but he’s coming off a season in which he converted 47 of 51 saves and posted a 1.29 ERA. He likely would be comfortable under Giants manager Felipe Alou, a fellow Dominican.

Rogers On St. Louis’ Pitching Needs

Posted in Baseball at 9:42 pm by

Following the news earlier this week that the Cardinals opted not to exercise their option, on P Woody Williams the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers takes a gander at St. Louis’ plans.

Between them, Woody Williams and Matt Morris earned $19 million last season. Their impending departures give Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty the financial flexibility to pursue a Randy Johnson deal.

The White Sox, Yankees and Angels also are exploring possible Johnson trades. The Cardinals appear to be offering Reggie Sanders in a package that probably includes 26-year-old first baseman-outfielder John Gall, who hit .292 with 22 homers at Triple-A Memphis. But the Diamondbacks probably could get more firepower from the Sox in Konerko and one top minor-league outfielder, either Brian Anderson or Ryan Sweeney.

“We’re interested in Randy Johnson,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We were interested in him at the trading deadline. But a lot of things have to fall into place.”

Teams know they will have to give Johnson an extension to get him in 2005, which is the last year on his deal with Arizona. He could prefer to stay in the pitcher-friendly National League.

“The only way to make it work is if we have him for more than one year,” Jocketty said. “He wants to win 300 games.”

The 41-year-old Johnson is at 246, including only 22 in the last two years. He will need to pitch at least three more years, and probably four, to reach 300.

Williams could wind up as the latest native returning to Houston, replacing a retiring Roger Clemens in the Astros’ rotation. But new GM Tim Purpura must wait to see if Clemens is really ready to go.

While the Cardinals won’t offer arbitration to either Morris or Williams, there’s an outside chance they’d sign Morris to a one-year contract before Dec. 7, when they essentially would lose the chance to keep him.

UK Home Secretary’s Zipper Problem

Posted in politics at 9:19 pm by

For the record, I’d like to make it clear that my extended stay in Great Britain was hassle-free and I didn’t have to sleep with any civil servants to get a special stamp on my passport. From tomorrow’s Independent and Colin Brown :

David Blunkett’s cabinet career hung in the balance last night after he ordered an independent inquiry into allegations by his former lover, Kimberly Quinn, that he abused his powers as Home Secretary to fast-track a visa for her Filipina nanny.

Downing Street was standing by Mr Blunkett but a cabinet colleague said: “We don’t know if David can survive.”

The Home Secretary’s friends accused Mrs Quinn, wife of a publisher, of waging a vendetta against Mr Blunkett because DNA tests proved he is the father of her two-year-old son, William, rather than her husband, Stephen. Mr Blunkett also claims to be the father of a second child, due in the new year.

Mrs Quinn’s most serious allegation came in an e-mail claiming that Mr Blunkett helped to fast-track an application for a visa for Leoncia “Luz” Casalme, 36, who was challenged by a newspaper about it. If that is proved, Mr Blunkett could be forced to resign.

(Blunkett, shown with one of his bitches)

(Jim Plunkett, who has nothing to do with this story)

The leaked e-mail by Mrs Quinn to a friend on Thursday last week said: “I have had Luz on the phone very tearful, saying that she had been contacted about the passport [visa] application that David fast-tracked for her … he’s so paranoid he’ll think it’s me and try and nail me.”

Mrs Quinn also claimed Mr Blunkett had given her two first-class rail tickets assigned to him for his work as an MP; put pressure on the US embassy for a passport for her son to travel with Mr Blunkett on holiday in France; had used a government driver to take Mrs Quinn to his home in Derbyshire for weekend trysts; took Mrs Quinn to Spain with a driver and four security officers; tipped off Mrs Quinn that her American parents should avoid Newark airport because of a security scare; and stationed police outside her £2m Mayfair home as protection against May Day rioters.