Mets Sign Woodward, Aybar

Posted in Baseball at 11:36 pm by

On Tuesday, the New York Mets signed SS Chris Woodward (above) to a minor league contract. Woodward, 28, spent 2004 with the Blue Jays, hitting .235 with 1 HR and 24 RBI’s in 69 games. In parts of 5 years with Toronto, Woodward has a career .247 average with 26 homers and 135 RBI’s in 351 games.

The Mets also signed pitchers Manny Aybar and Joe Nelson to minor league pacts.

Nelson had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox last year (and not a good one, either) ; Aybar had 18 appearances in ’04 for Puebla of the Mexican League.

Susan Sontag, RIP

Posted in Dead Authors at 11:26 pm by

Author, activist and self-described “zealot of seriousness” Susan Sontag has died at the age of 71.

Author of “The Volcano Lover”, “The Way We Live Now” and “Where The Stress Falls” ; an acclaimed essayist and human rights campaigner, Sontag had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer for some time.

Payton To Dallas?

Posted in Basketball at 7:42 pm by

(Gary, accepting the ESPY on behalf of Tom Sizemore)

Dallas needs a point guard and Gary Payton is unlikely to stay in Boston past next spring. The Fort Worth-Star Telegram’s Art Garcis explores the possibility, however remote, of the Mavericks making a move.

The Mavericks could be one of the many teams to enter the Glove Sweepstakes, if and when Payton hits the market. Payton will be on display tonight as the Boston Celtics open the Mavs’ five-game homestand at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs aren’t seriously pursuing Payton or point guards at this juncture, despite speculation. That doesn’t mean that can’t or won’t change by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations for the Mavs, maintains contact with front offices around the league. Though owner Mark Cuban would rather stand pat, the Mavs are in the upgrade business if the deal is right.

If the Mavs weren’t concerned about point guard, the team wouldn’t have traded for Darrell Armstrong. Don Nelson has already started all three of his point guards, with Jason Terry the current first-teamer.

The Mavs are last in the NBA in assists per game at 17.5. Terry’s average of 3.6 assists would be the lowest in franchise history for the team leader if it holds up.

The Mavs would take a hard look if Payton were shopped, but it’s difficult to gauge what’s going on in the Payton saga. In one breath, Payton says he’s out of Boston after the season, returning to his home on the West Coast. The next, he’s leaving his options open for a return to Beantown.

Ainge has said it’s important to get something for Payton before he walks. Ainge has also said Payton is the perfect role model for the team’s young players, and it might be best to keep him for the season without any assurances of a return.

There are several reasons why Payton in a Mavs uniform would make sense. Despite being 36, he doesn’t have a long-term or high-paying contract. Payton is on a one-year deal worth $5.4 million.

As a true All-Star-caliber playmaker, Payton would serve as a perfect mentor for Devin Harris. The rookie from Wisconsin is the future at point guard, and having Payton on board (unlike Jason Kidd) doesn’t disrupt those plans.

Payton is one of the main reasons the Celtics, despite their 12-14 record, are in the Atlantic Division title hunt. While trading him is a viable option as Ainge builds for the future, the Celtics can probably do much better than anything the Mavs would offer.

The Mavs aren’t going to move young talent — Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard, Harris, etc. — for a short-term fix. Financial considerations might be more important in a deal for Payton or another high-caliber player.

The Mavs would prefer to move significant contracts, such as Tariq Abdul-Wahad or Booth.

Abdul-Wahad is an interesting option — only half of Abdul-Wahad’s contract for next season ($7.3 million) is guaranteed. The guarantee is 25 percent on $7.9 for the following season, the last on his contract. Though Abdul-Wahad’s “full” salary counts against the salary cap in those two years, the team would only be on the hook for a total of $5.6 million.

The selling point is a team can trade salaries within 15 percent of Abdul-Wahad’s cap value. If the Mavs throw in the maximum $3 million trade kicker, a deal for Abdul-Wahad benefits the bottom line.

It’s unlikely Payton fits into an Abdul-Wahad scenario. But expect the Mavs to take a look.

A Public Plea To Phil Mushnick

Posted in Sports Journalism at 6:50 pm by

For years, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick has bravely spoken out about the marketing of overpriced sneakers to inner-city youth, citing time and time again cases of young males gunned down in the pursuit of Air Jordans, Starter jackets (ask your grandfather) and other flimsy material possessions.

(I can’t look at this car without wanting to kill someone)

With today’s news that Vanderbilt RB Kwane Doster was slain following “trash talk” about an orange Infiniti, when will Phil do-it-for-the-kids and take aim at the automotive industry? Or the Post’s jam-packed auto advertising section?

Vets Howl Over Reggie Tribute

Posted in Gridiron at 6:35 pm by

from ESPN.com :

Some war veterans in the Green Bay area were offended Sunday when the Packers flew the U.S. flag at half-staff at Lambeau Field in honor of the late Reggie White, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported Tuesday.

Ron Sager of Appleton, founder of the Fox Valley Vietnam Veterans Association, said the honor is reserved for those who have served or made a sacrifice for their country.

“It does cheapen the reason” for flying the flag at half-staff, Sager told the paper. “Obviously (Packers president] Bob Harlan was thinking that this is something he could use to pay tribute to White, but unfortunately he is not familiar with the etiquette.”

“As much as I appreciated Reggie White, not only for his football playing but his character off the field, I don’t believe the U.S. flag should be flown at [half-staff] for anyone unless it is authorized by our government. It sort of denigrates the service of those in Iraq and Afghanistan who have lost their lives.”

According to the U.S. Flag Code, which spells out the rules of flag etiquette, the American flag can be flown at half-staff only upon a directive of either the president or governor and on Memorial Day. The code also specifies who qualifies for the honor. Football players are not on the list.

Harlan told the paper he has ordered the flag lowered for others without anyone raising any objections.

“We have done this through the years and we are going to continue to do it,” Harlan said Monday. “I would hear from more fans who are upset with me if I didn’t do it than if I did. Is that what you are getting at, that we are not obeying the flag codes? Well, we are going to do it.”

However, Harlan said he has ordered the flag lowered for others associated with the Packers organization without objections. He did acknowledge, though, that the flags aren’t lowered when a local soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I’m offended that the NFL didn’t cancel the entire season in honor of Pat Tillman’s ultimate sacrfice.

Bzdelik Fired By Denver

Posted in Basketball at 3:05 pm by

The morning after a 104-101 defeat to Golden State, Denver (13-15) has fired coach Jeff Bzdelik.

The Nuggest, losers of 6 straight, have promoted assistant Michael Cooper to the top spot on an interim basis. Cooper, a cog in the Lakers’ ’80′s dynasty and former coach of the WNBA’s L.A. Sparks (with whom he won two championships) might have a little more slack than Bzedlik. The latter was sacked despite having to make do without Carmelo Anthony for the past 5 games, as well as losing Voshon Lenard on opening night.

Guided By Voices’ Long Wolk Off A Short Pier

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 12:59 pm by

With about 72 hours left to go in the life of Bob Pollard’s gift to rock’n'roll, Guided By Voices, rather than reflect on the thrills this American treasure has brought us, let us instead bring up the oft-argued position that Pollard doesn’t know how to edit himself, rarely exercises quality control, etc.

But before we get to that, is there an obligation on Pollard’s part to be any more or less focused, to display greater follow-though than say, someone who passes comment on hundreds of recordings a year? Is Bob any more or less arrogant to assume that every composition or recording is worthy of commerical release than the blogger who pollutes the universe with mind-numbingly boring details about his or her personal life?

I’ll save the next question for those of you who have actually done the research and aren’t just repeating shit you’ve heard a hundred times. Is Guided By Voices’ hit or miss ratio any better or worse than that of Bob Dylan, Mark E. Smith, Neil Young, Jay Z, Prince Rogers Nelson or the Frogs?

I think the GBV ouvre holds up pretty fucking well compared to any of the above — and that’s even if you take ‘Bee Thousand’ out of the mix. Naturally, I’m biased, but so is everyone with a pulse. The only people on earth who have a problem with Robert Pollard’s insane creative output are a) record company fucks who struggle to shift all of it (present company included) and b) self-styled guardians of quality control who are just as hung up on how their tastes reflect on themselves as they are the actual content of what they’re reviewing. For the actual human beings who purchase GBV records, having a lot to absorb is a blessing rather than a curse. Though I’m aware that Mike Piazza, waiting patiently for his Dream Theatre triple CD/DVD box set to arrive, could make a similar argument, Pollard’s efforts yield far more than “a few gold flakes” and only suffer comparison to his older work if you’re somehow embarrassed that you’ve liked the same band for more than 3 years. That is, without said band having the promotional savvy to break up, go insane, fall into lengthy legal battles with record company fucks, end up in prison, etc. I mean, shame on Bob for not having provided a hot enough backstory (until this week, that is).

Roethlisberger To Sit Versus Buffalo

Posted in Gridiron at 11:08 am by

The playoff prospects of the streaking Buffalo Bills took a turn for the better yesterday with the unsurprising revelation that rookie Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is expected to miss the two teams’ regular season finale. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette :

Roethlisberger has bruised ribs, and it is extremely doubtful he will play for the Steelers Sunday at Buffalo, sources told the Post-Gazette. He will, however, be ready for their first playoff game Jan. 15-16 in Heinz Field.

The Steelers had no official comment yesterday on Roethlisberger’s injury, other than to confirm it was to his ribs, the result of a late hit by Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs in their 20-7 victory Sunday against the Ravens. An MRI Sunday night showed no serious damage to Roethlisberger’s ribs.

No quarterback in the history of the game can match Roethlisberger’s 13-0 record as a starter in the regular season — not just as a rookie but in any season. Jim McMahon was 11-0 as a starter for the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears when they went 15-1 in 1985. Bart Starr started every game for the NFL champion Green Bay Packers when they went 13-1 in 1962.

Roethlisberger long ago snapped the rookie quarterback record for consecutive victories, once held by Mike Kruczek at six in 1976.

By not playing in Buffalo, Roethlisberger will have set two more rookie quarterback records, held by Dan Marino since 1983. Marino completed 58.3 percent of his passes as a rookie, Roethlisberger completed 66.4. Marino’s rookie passer rating was 96.0, topped by Roethlisberger’s 98.1.

He also will become third all-time in the NFL among rookie quarterbacks with the highest average gain per pass attempt — and the best since the 1970 merger.

Cincinnati’s Greg Cook averaged 9.411 yards in 1969, Cleveland’s Bob Waterfield averaged 9.409 yards in 1946 and the Chicago Bears’ Zeke Bratkowski averaged 8.36 in 1954. Roethlisberger averages 8.88.

So, it appears his rookie regular season is in the books. Now, Roethlisberger can set his sights on the postseason and another first: No rookie quarterback has ever started a Super Bowl. Roethlisberger will have three weeks to rest those bruised ribs and try to make a run at that one.

Footie Racism Under A Roof

Posted in Football, Racism Corner at 10:56 am by

An expensive airplane ticket to Spain isn’t necessary if you want to hear racist taunting at a soccer match. From the Associated Press :

The general manager of the Baltimore Blast vowed to apologize personally to a player for the Philadelphia KiXX who said two Blast fans directed racial insults at him during a Major Indoor Soccer League game on Sunday.

Kevin Healey also promised to try to find the fans involved in allegedly taunting KiXX forward Shawn Boney during the Blast’s 7-4 victory over Philadelphia.

The Major Indoor Soccer League, a 10-team league which plays a six-a-side game on artificial turf covered ice hockey rinks, is in its 21st season in the United States. Its players provided the bulk of the U.S. team at the recently staged World Futsal Championship in Taiwan.

In the fourth period, Boney said he was racially insulted by two women behind the goal. Boney, who is black, reported the incident to his coach and to Blast officials.

Boney, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, left quickly for the team bus after the game.

“Unfortunately, by the time I heard about the reported incident, the Philadelphia team and the fans had already left,” Healey said. “I will try to find the two women who were described, and they’ll probably deny it. But I’ll have a plan in place by the next time Philly comes here, and if someone is doing it they’ll be caught. We certainly don’t condone it.”

Cubs Pay Up In Sex Discrimination Suit

Posted in Baseball at 10:39 am by

From the Montgomery (AL) Advertiser’s Bob Lowry :

A federal judge has approved a settlement of a case in which a Montgomery woman who was a part-time baseball scout for the Chicago Cubs and their owners, the Tribune Co., accused the team of sexual discrimination for failing to promote her to a full-time scout.

Senior U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton signed the settlement agreement in the case, which originally had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this month.

Jennie D. “J.D.” Patton, 48, of Montgomery, originally sued the Cubs and the Tribune Co., in 2003 after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued her a “right-to-sue” letter.

Terms of the settlement were sealed by Albritton, who ordered parties on either side not to discuss the details of the case.

According to court papers, Patton was hired by the Cubs’ scouting department on Jan. 5, 1994, as a part-time scout, earning $2,000 a year, plus expenses. Her lawsuit said she helped the Cubs “locate several outstanding baseball prospects.”

Patton said she continually expressed an interest in becoming a full-time scout as she gained experience, but she was passed over by men with little or no scouting experience. In addition, her pay was cut, compared to that paid to comparable male scouts.

A full-time scout for the Cubs in 1997-98 was paid about $39,000 annually.

Patton, the only female scout in the Cubs’ organization, was fired after she filed her charge of discrimination with the EEOC in 2002. The Cubs said her contract, along with the contracts of several other male scouts were not renewed because of financial reasons.

While she was a scout for the Cubs in the southeastern U.S., Patton was supervised by Jim Crawford. When Crawford was promoted to the new position of professional scout, Patton claimed she should have been hired to fill Crawford’s spot. Instead his duties were divided among five part-time scouts.

Patton, a native of Tennessee, first started as a Major League Baseball scout in 1989 with the Chicago White Sox. She later worked for three years as a volunteer coach at Enterprise State Junior College.

“I was always amazed at the depth and breath of Ms. Patton’s knowledge about baseball,” Enterprise baseball coach Tim Hasley said in an affidavit signed May 17, 2004. “Indeed, she was the best I have ever seen at evaluating talent at the junior college level.”

The Cubs and the Tribune Co., said Patton mainly scouted rural high schools and junior colleges in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. But Patton said she worked in larger cities in the South, plus throughout the state of Florida.

Preston Douglas, an experienced scout who gave a deposition in the case, said of the Cubs, “One thing I can say very strongly about the Chicago Cubs organization is that it exemplified them, and still exemplifies, as does most of professional baseball, a good ‘ole’ boy fraternal attitude and practices, with its rules of solidarity, discrimination, elimination and exclusion.”

“As early as 1995, I heard discussions and statements within the Cubs organization that Ms. Patton would never be a full-time scout because she was a woman,” Douglas said in the deposition.