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.