Reunited And It Feels Like Shit

Posted in Baseball at 8:54 am by

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Joe Rutter on the long awaited reunion of former teammates Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel.

Aware that he could encounter his nemesis for the first time in three years, Omar Vizquel is bringing extra protection to PNC Park this weekend.

Not protection in the form of a beefy security guard or police escort.

Vizquel, the San Francisco Giants shortstop, is bringing protective uniform equipment in case he has to step into the batters box while Pirates closer Jose Mesa (above) is pitching.

That includes a double-flap batting helmet.

“I’m going to wear some extra padding because I’m not going to take any chances,” Vizquel said. “If he hits me, I’ll be ready. He still throws hard.”

The next phase of a mostly one-sided feud between Mesa and Vizquel could play out during this upcoming three-game series. Mesa, though, said he has no intention of escalating his grudge with his former Cleveland Indians teammate.

He insists he has no plan of hitting Vizquel in the head, back or any other body part.

“He’s a professional. I’m a professional,” Mesa said. “He’s going to play his game, and I’m going to pitch my game. What happened is in the past. It’s over.”

Two years ago, Mesa made national headlines when he told a Philadelphia reporter he wanted to kill Vizquel over an excerpt in the shortstops autobiography. He interpreted a passage as Vizquel saying Mesa choked during Game 7 of the 1997 World Series when he failed to protect a ninth-inning lead against the Florida Marlins.

This week, Mesa said his threats toward Vizquel were blowing out of proportion.

“I’m not that type of person,” he said. “I’m not stupid enough to try to kill somebody and then go to jail.”

Still, Mesa said he has no interest in renewing his friendship with Vizquel.

“I don’t talk to him,” he said. “I have nothing to say to him, and I hope he has nothing to say to me.”

The relationship began to sour in 1998 when Vizquel homered off Mesa during an intrasquad spring training game and did a cartwheel as he crossed home plate. An angered Mesa vowed to hit Vizquel the next time he faced him.

It’s Peter Vescey’s Friday Morning…

Posted in Basketball at 8:27 am by

…and we’re just getting newsprint all over our hands. From today’s NY Post.

The Knicks did the right thing by reaching out to Phil Jackson, doing it on the up and up at the appropriate time as instructed. Now it’s up to him to do the right thing: Climb out of his Think Tank and make a command decision.

Sources say Jackson was spotted late yesterday huddled with biographer Charley Rosen rolling into an upstate vented mountain retreat. If we see the chimney emitting black smoke, that means nothing has been decided.

Stephen A. Smith tells me Jackson indeed is coming back next season. He’s just waiting for Dan Gilbert to pass him a note about which team to coach.

If it turns out players under 20 are prohibited from playing in the NBA, new owners should be required to spend at least two years in the National Basketball Developmental League until they have a grasp on how to run a team.

Following his 1-for-16 misadventure in Game 1 against the Sonics, Mike Bibby, desperate to figure out his shooting problem, drove to the nearest Wendy’s to see if its employees could put their finger on it.

Rocker Sucks In Ducks Debut

Posted in Baseball at 8:16 am by

John Rocker’s journey down the comeback trail hit a speed bump Thursday night, the racist reliever walking 4 in the 9th inning of Bridgeport’s 4-3 win over Long Island, the Atlantic League opener for both clubs.

On the bright side, Rocker might be just as competent a closer for the Braves at this point as Danny Kolb.


Great News For Both NY Clubs, Gwynn Censored

Posted in Baseball at 10:03 pm by

For Mets fans, the real Peter Gammons (and not the one blogging away at BBTN’s Yard Work) made the helpful prediction that RF Victor Diaz would be a .300 hitter for the duration of the season. Well, yeah, if he’s hit by a truck tomorrow.

(on the same broadcast, SS Jose Reyes was cited as one of April’s statistical freaks ; 0 BB in 96 at bats. Ouch. )

For Yankee rooters, Kevin Brown (above) had something aproaching a quality start this evening againt the Angels. Certainly, John Lackey’s performance was of a much higher quality, but I’m trying to sound encouraging.

Our thoughts go out to Tony Gwynn, who learned this week much the way Free Expression Pioneer Maggie Gyllenhaal did, there is a price to be paid for speaking one’s mind in the tough town called America.

Dying At The Plate, Dye At SS

Posted in Baseball at 3:48 pm by

As if his ice-cold April wasn’t harsh enough, the White Sox’s Jermaine Dye found himself in an unfamiliar position, writes the Contra Costa Times’ Rick Hurd.

To get the proper perspective on what Dye could’ve been contributing to the A’s and didn’t, you had to have wandered into McAfee Coliseum during the late stages of the A’s 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, Dye’s new team, on Wednesday. That, or you had to have taken a healthy dose of No Doz before witnessing another riveting day by the home team’s offense.

You had to have witnessed the ninth inning. Because there, standing on a patch of dirt between second and third base stood …

Jermaine Dye? Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Don Kessinger, Ozzie Guillen …

And Jermaine Dye? “Now, we can add your name to the list,” Guillen, now the White Sox’s manager, said, putting his arm around Dye and taking a swig from a beer after the game. “Lots of great shortstops for this franchise.”

Hey, maybe he’s on to something. Dye hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in his first 31/2 weeks with his new team. He departed Oakland hitting a cool .171, and until the ninth inning, his most notable moment during his three-game visit here was dropping a fly ball that helped the A’s rally for a 9-7 win on Tuesday.

But Guillen (above) was tossed by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the final frame after Wendelstedt ruled shortstop Joe Crede had stuck his right elbow into a pitch thrown by A’s reliever Justin Duchscherer. One pitch later, Crede was tossed when he threw his bat angrily after popping out to end a White Sox threat.

And all that did was leave the White Sox’s infield as empty as the upper deck, because middle infielders Juan Uribe, Tadahito Iguchi and Pablo Ozuna all were nursing various ailments and weren’t available.

And all that did was lead Joey Cora, Guillen’s bench replacement, to do what all good innovators do. He told Dye to get his infielder’s glove.

Who knew he even had one? “It just happened so fast,” Dye said. “As (reliever) Dustin Hermanson came in (to replace reliever Damaso Marte), I talked to Wash, and he was giving me the same hints he always used to give me. Use my feet, basic stuff.”

Ah yes, Wash. For the uninitiated, that would be Ron Washington, the A’s third base coach and instructor supreme for the novice infielder. Prospective infielders work like honey bees for Wash during the early days of spring training, a time of year when there’s nothing but time if you want to go to work.

Wash is so good that a certain Gold Glove right fielder decided last season that he could use some work on the infield. He was a third baseman at Will C. Wood High School-Vacaville, and the Kansas City Royals drafted him in 1992 with the idea Dye would play the position someday.

But shortstop? Maybe it happened in Little League, Dye said.

“I looked over there at short, and he was as happy as can be,” Washington said, his infectious smile taking over. “And I’m over there waiting for the first ground ball to be hit to him.”

It never did come. The most notable action Dye received came when he retrieved Erubiel Durazo’s leadoff fly ball that fell for a hit when center fielder Aaron Rowand lost it in the sun. The only grounders that went his way came courtesy of first baseman Paul Konerko’s soft tosses before the inning.

“He handled them,” Washington joked.

Carrasquel, Aparicio, Kessinger and Guillen couldn’t have done it any better.

We Don’t Need That Fascist Groove Thing

Posted in Free Expression, Lower Education at 12:28 pm by

(two sexually repressed Boston area teens discuss moving to Rhode Island)

The Boston Globe’s Tracy Jan on the latest in educators’ attempts to quash dirty dancing.

Boston-area high school administrators, worried about students’ increasingly vulgar music tastes, have been delivering a pointed message to DJs: Keep it clean, or we keep the paycheck.

As teens gravitate to hip-hop hits like ”Candy Shop,” ”Magic Stick” and ”Get Low,” which are loaded with sexually explicit lyrics, school administrators say they are facing more pressure from parents to police the playlist for next month’s proms.

In the past three years, principals have been pulling disc jockeys aside before school dances and warning them to avoid vulgar songs or play the less explicit radio versions, DJs and principals say. DJs say parents are more knowledgeable about the music being played, and principals are listening more to parents’ concerns.

A Cambridge high school administrator said she carried through on a threat last year and withheld pay after a DJ played a raunchy song at the senior prom.

At Marlborough High, student dance organizers hire the DJs and submit a playlist ahead of time. Administrators rely on the DJs to filter out the vulgar or sexually suggestive songs because the DJs are more familiar with the lyrics, said Paul Kamataris, assistant principal at the school for 25 years.

”If things aren’t going right, we’re going to shut down the dance,” Kamataris said. ”They’re aware of their responsibilities. They know what’s appropriate. I control the purse strings, and you’re going to play the music I want or you’re not getting paid.”

Ken Cosco, the chief entertainment officer of A Touch of Class DJ’s in Marlborough, which entertains at hundreds of school dances, graduation parties, and other teen-oriented events every year, has a do-not-play list — topped, he said, by rapper 50 Cent’s ”Candy Shop.” The song makes thinly veiled references to oral sex by using a lollipop as a metaphor for the male sexual organ.

At Brookline High, radio versions of most songs usually pass muster, but not ”Candy Shop,” said Gretchen Tucker-Underwood, the dean of students.

”Don’t tell me he’s only talking about lollipops,” Tucker-Underwood said. ”I don’t want to have to go through the double-entendres.”

No, god, please. Anything but that.

Not Quite Pat O’Brien In Rehab…

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 10:32 am by

….but a close second in the laff-riot sweepstakes, is the not exactly 4-real Baseball Tonight blog.

CSTB’s Early Interest In Field Hockey Rekindled

Posted in Hot Fads at 1:46 am by

From the Associated Press, proof that you don’t need the directorial skills of Todd Phillips to party in style.

Frostburg, Md. — Six female field hockey players hazed their new college teammates by urging them to drink so much beer and liquor that one 18-year-old was hospitalized with a blood-alcohol level more than four times the legal limit, police say.

The Frostburg State University freshmen also were pelted with flour, ice and eggs, and made to sit in their own vomit and urine, according to charges filed by police in Allegany County Court.

Five of the women were charged with second-degree assault and hazing, police said Wednesday. Charges were pending against the sixth, they said.

The documents also named six victims, including an 18-year-old whom police saw being carried, unconscious, by her boyfriend along a street.

Her blood-alcohol content was measured at a hospital at 0.365; the legal limit for drivers in Maryland is 0.08.

The “secret buddy Christmas party” is thrown annually by senior team members to initiate new members, according to a police report.

Glavine Stares, Glares, Barely Cares

Posted in Baseball at 1:15 am by

In the wake of Atlanta taking two of three from the Mets (and 4 of 6 this season), count Newsday’s Mark Herrman as one observer who thinks the New Mets aren’t new enough.

the Braves left Shea the way they practically always do — smiling and leaving a trail of manager Bobby Cox’s cigar smoke and a litany of praise for the team they had just waxed. Eddie Perez, the Braves’ backup catcher who plays one game a week but who nonetheless went 2-for-4 with a home run in an 8-4 win, said of the Mets: “They’re one of the best teams in baseball right now and you have to play well against them.”

How gracious, from a club that has won the season series against the Mets in 12 of the past 14 years. How familiar it is, from a team that had just beaten the Mets’ two top pitchers in successive games and made these “New Mets” sound like the old Mets: “How do we beat the Braves?”

What the Braves showed yesterday and the night before, despite having played without top hitter Chipper Jones and despite having lost the opener of a three-game series Monday, is that they still are the Braves.

“Until they lose the division, they’re the king. That’s it,” said Cliff Floyd, whose two-run homer in the fourth made the score 4-3 and made the game interesting for a couple of minutes.

“You cannot tell me that with the amount of guys they lost the last couple of years, that you would say they would win the division,” Floyd said. “They lost J.D. Drew, Gary Sheffield, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Javy Lopez. If you had told me they would win after they lost that type of guy, I’d probably tell you that you were crazy. But they found a way to do it, so you’ve got to give them their due.”

Cliff Floyd is off to a terrific start and I’m almost sorry I made so many remarks about how he could barely walk let alone run. But his GM credentials are suspect. John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox clearly knew that certain players were expendable, especially considering the costs of keeping them (hello, Jared Wright).

The jury is still out on moving John Smoltz back to the rotation and the Braves’ addition of Danny Kolb. Kolb’s meltdown on Tuesday night was nearly of nuclear proportions until Cox wisely pulled the latter from the game. Gary Cohen pointed out earlier in the evening that Kolb has barely half a season’s experience closing games and strikes out a mere 2 hitters per every 9 innings ; perhaps “pitching to contact” isn’t the way to go in situations that allow so little margin for error.

And speaking of pitching to contact, Tom Glavine might be writing a book on the subject. Though the ball is also making contact with the bleachers, the left field wall, etc. With two out in the 3rd, Glavine faced Raul Mondesi with Brian Jordan on third and Andruw Jones on 2nd. With first base open, Glavine chose to pitch to Mondesi rather than walk the veteran and face Eddie Perez (hitting .207 at the time). Mondesi promptly singled home both Jordan and Jones on the first pitch of the at bat. Then again, Perez homered later in the game.

(Willie consoles Tom Terrible by telling him he’s looking more like William H. Macy with each passing day)

Glavine is hardly the big name starter who is struggling this year — Barry Zito, Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling all come to mind. But Glavine’s underachievement in a Mets uniform is begining to reach George Foster-levels of desperation. If New York offered Glavine straight up for Bruce Chen, would the Orioles bite? Paul Byrd? Jose Lima? Forget it. Unless the Mets are willing to add another faded star to the list of players they’ve paid to play for someone else (ie. Bobby Bonilla, Roger Cedeno), they’re stuck with Glavine until the day his deal expires.

Bellamy To Shearer : U SUK

Posted in Football at 12:33 am by

(“…and you’re boring, too.”)

Newcastle exile Craig Bellamy, who scored over the weekend for Celtic in the Old Firm derby, saved his most impresive performance in recent memory for his mobile phone. From Brian McNally and Euan Stretch in last Sunday’s Mirror.

Soccer bad boy Craig Bellamy sent a series of abusive text messages to his old Newcastle captain Alan Shearer after going on a bender at a charity golf tournament.

Ex-England striker Shearer, 34, was left “visibly shaken” and “seething” after being taunted by former team-mate Bellamy, 25.

Shearer got the messages just minutes after his team’s 4-1 defeat against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday. They included insults: “Your legs are gone. You’re too old. You’re too slow.”

Another – which made him “turn purple with rage” – reportedly read: “You couldn’t even kiss my a**e.”

Yesterday a source close to Newcastle Utd said: “Shearer walked into the dressing room and switched on his phone.

“He looked distraught as he checked his messages.

“Bellamy was clearly delighted that Newcastle had been knocked out of the cup.

“He also sent texts to several other players and Kenneth Shepherd, son of the Newcastle chairman.

“But it is the final one to Shearer that has enraged the players – and I don’t think Newcastle fans will be happy about it either.”

The source added: “Shearer is worshipped as a god in Tyneside.

“There is no way Bellamy could show his face around these parts after what he texted.”

It is not the first time fiery Welsh international Bellamy has sent abusive text messages to Shearer. He has also targeted other fellow professionals and managers.

Earlier this year he left an offensive voicemail message on Shearer’s phone and sent him a text calling him “F****** goody two shoes.”

And he sent abusive texts to Newcastle manager Graham Souness and chairman Freddy Shepherd when they tried to sell him to Birmingham for £6million. It read: “I am Craig Bellamy and I don’t sign for s*** football clubs.”