04.23.05

Mr. Tabitha Soren Tackles ‘Roids

Posted in Baseball at 9:30 pm by

While many of us eagerly await the May arrival of Will Carroll’s “The Juice” in finer bookstores, “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis shines some light on the subject and its impact on player development in tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine section.

Another piece of evidence that steroids work is the reluctance of the players to part with their drugs. A few weeks ago, not long after after Major League Baseball’s public humiliation before Congress, the commissioner’s office released the names of 41 minor-league players who failed spring-training drug tests. The players came from just 10 of the 13 major-league organizations tested so far. Given the public outrage over steroid use during the off-season, you might think that the minor leaguers would have arrived in camp prepared. (They needn’t stop taking steroids altogether; to avoid being caught they only had to stop taking them a few weeks before the test.) And yet an average of more than three players per organization appeared to be unwilling to play clean.

Perhaps all this means nothing. Perhaps minor leaguers are deluded about the importance of the drugs. On the other hand, they might be right that they need them — that steroids are so helpful in today’s game that a 15-game suspension and a reputation as a steroid user is a small price to pay for the benefits. The evidence is unlikely ever to be anything but inconclusive. There are too many alternative explanations for the power surge: players have altered their swings (though most swings are still idiosyncratically personal affairs); players have grown naturally stronger (but have they?); some hitters, like Barry Bonds, have switched from ash to maple bats (though most hitters haven’t); pitchers aren’t as good (though there is no hard evidence of this); ballparks are smaller (though a few are actually bigger).

But the ambiguity of steroids’ effects may have, in an odd way, increased their grip on the game. Unable to parse the statistics and separate natural power from steroid power, the people who evaluate baseball players for a living have no choice but to ignore the distinction. They’ve come to view the increase in the number of young players without power who become older players with power as a new eternal truth about the game. ”Good hitters become power hitters, power hitters don’t become good hitters” has become a kind of cliche for baseball’s more statistically minded general managers. Power is now understood as less an innate gift than a gettable skill — more like speaking French than being 6-foot-3. Which is to say that steroids may have changed not only the way the game is played but also the way the game is understood. They have given birth to a big, beefy idea from whose side-effects no player is immune.

Sam Frank (Hearts) The Thug

Posted in The Internet, The Law at 9:09 pm by

Writes Sam,

I just caught up with Steven Seagal’s Eskimo masterpiece “On Deadly Ground” last night, and the mysterious Thug makes a cameo, postering a door that’s kicked in or something. Seagal, it must be said, was definitely not the Thug’s model–too puffy, too much ponytail. Totally unrelated but just as awful, sent to a friend who works in tech human resources. I hope your sound is on. Unless you have ears.

A Different Kind Of Moneyball

Posted in Football at 8:43 pm by


(memo to Doug Garber: you might wanna sell this man an MLS franchise before the Washington Nationals end up on his shopping list. Trust us, he’s good for the money.)

The Guardian’s Michael Walker catches up with the infamous rogue trader Nick Leeson.

The sun struggled through the clouds over Galway Bay yesterday morning. As foreign students made for the language schools of the west of Ireland city and tourists headed for the Aran Islands, amid the gentle throng a man called Nick Leeson completed his first week’s work for a decade. It is the same Nick Leeson who was, briefly, the most wanted man on the planet. Leeson is now the commercial director of Galway United.

“There was an advert in one of the local papers,” he said, matter of fact. “There are a lot of businesses that wouldn’t touch me. I didn’t think I’d have the precise skills for the job but it combined an interest of mine – football – with a chance to get some structure back into my life.”
Football has had its fair share of reckless speculators down the years but none on Leeson’s scale. Ten years ago last month his rogue trading in Singapore’s stock exchange brought down the oldest merchant bank in the world, Barings of London. Leeson, then 28, had gambled and lost £862m, which is even more than Peter Ridsdale splurged at Leeds United. Barings could not sustain the losses and collapsed.

Leeson ran away. He was eventually caught in Frankfurt. Extradited back to Singapore, he spent four years and four months inside Changi prison. He lost his marriage to Lisa while inside and discovered he had the same form of cancer that had killed his mother, Anne. On release he returned to England, studied for a psychology degree and met an Irishwoman named Leona. He followed her to Galway where, remarried, clear of cancer and with an eight-month baby boy, Leeson has been for the past 2 years. And now he has a job again.

Galway United inhabit the second tier of the League of Ireland, a semi-professional outfit he compared in scale to St Albans or Hayes, clubs with whom the Watford-born Leeson has connections. As of last Monday his role is to find sponsors for things such as the match ball at Galway’s Terryland Park. It is a long way from Raffles Hotel.

“Galway United would admit they are in a transitional period,” he said, sitting in an Asian restaurant by Wolfe Tone Bridge. “But they have a five-year plan: they want to win the Premier League and challenge for Europe. If you look at it, all the board members are successful individually; they want to get the management right. There are a lot of clubs in England who have been successful for a while but have then succumbed to chronic mismanagement. Leeds United are a good example.”

Early Frustrations For Junior, Rocket

Posted in Baseball at 3:34 pm by

Ken Griffey Jr. went hitless in 4 trips to the plate Saturday in Cincy’s 4-2 loss to Florida, the Marlins staying a game ahead of the Mets in the NL East. . With a chance to drive in the tying runs against Guillermo Mota in the bottom of the 9th, Junior struck out. In 51 AB’s in 2005, Griffey has just 3 RBI’s, no home runs and is hitting .200.

It’s a different sort of frustration for Houston’s Roger Clemens (above) , who extended his season’s scoreless innings streak to 23 against the Cardinals today. The Astros, however, have continued to provide their ace no support whatsoever ; the game is currently tied 0-0 in the top of the 9th, Clemens having been relieved by Chad Qualls after 7 innings (6 K’s, 4 walks, 4 hits). Mark Mulder is working on a 3 hitter, striking out 5 over 7 innings.

UPDATE : Cards 1, Astros 0. St. Louis wins it on Larry Walker’s ground rule double in the bottom of the 10th ; Mulder going all the way for the Cardinals (10 IP, 4 hits, 0 BB).

Steve Phillips predicted at the end of Spring Training that Los Angeles and Houston were the two teams most likely to disappoint in ’05. Thus far, the former Mets G.M. appears to have been incorrect about the Dodgers, but might prove right where the aging Astros are concerned. If there are any Lance Berkman sightings in Round Rock this weekend, CSTB will be the 9th or 10th fastest place to get you the scoop.

Mets Humbling Nationals

Posted in Baseball at 2:22 pm by

Last Sunday, I suggested the Mets would struggle to score runs. Since making that claim, they’ve scored 10 runs in three of their last five games (currently leading 10-0 against DC today at Shea), and a player I characterized as a “spare part”, RF Victor Diaz, has been a major contributor throughout.

As the NL’s pitchers get to see Diaz (above) for a 2nd and 3rd time, I have a hard time imagining him continuing to produce at his current rate, but for the time being, the Mets are getting a lot more out of the 8th spot in the batting order than we’d have any right to expect. And I don’t think anyone would’ve presumed the same kind of performance from Mike Cameron this April.

Cliff Floyd’s terrific first month is another reason why the Mets have rebounded from their miserable 0-5 start ; not only is Floyd hitting the ball with authority, but he stole 2nd twice in the second inning against Al Leiter and Paul Lo Duca Thursday night, doing so without the benefit of crutches, a Rascal or unicycle. If Floyd can somehow manage to play in 140 or so games this season, New York will be ver grateful there were no takers for the left fielder over the winter.

UPDATE : Mets 10, Nationals 5. NY starter Jae Won Seo was a last minute call-up from Norfolk folliwng Kaz Ishii’s placement on the 15 day DL and had one his finest days as a Met, holding the Nats to one run over 6 innings. Carlos Barega, incredibly still employed by a major league club, had a nightmarish 5th inning at 3rd base, the sort that you’d associate with someone playing in the wrong position (if not the wrong decade).

Atlanta’s (Old) Outfield

Posted in Baseball at 2:00 pm by

Though Andruw Jones managed to stop a 0-for-28 drought last night with an RBI double in Atlanta’s 6-2 win over Philadelphia, something else came to mind afterwards (other than Danny Kolb not blowing a save). Has Bobby Cox pulled the plug for keeps on the Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan experiments, and if not, why not?

Ryan Langerhans and Pete Orr started in right and left field respectively for Atlanta, though truth be told, you’d rather have Bobby Orr (on skates) than Mondesi or Jordan at this point.

Vescey’s Playoff Preview

Posted in Basketball at 12:59 pm by

Not even Alonzo Mourning giving his Heat salary to charity is enough to spare Peter Vescey’s wrath. From today’s New York Post.

HEAT vs. NETS: Only someone more cynical than myself would dare to suggest the league gave Miami an extra day to begin this series in deference to Shaquille O’Neal’s thigh bruise and ABC’s (to name one nitwork) sagging ratings.

Had to love the “moxie” of Lawrence Frank’s Nets in season-ending gift wrapped win, especially since there was no way on God’s (A.C.) Green Earth the Raptors would do anything to help Vince Carter get into playoffs.

Nets get Richard Jefferson back, though with Carter putting up points like pre-knee Bernard King, I’m not so sure that’s all positive. Only Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and, of course, Stephon Marbury are savvy and strong-willed enough to keep so many egos satisfied.

I always knew Z(er)o would wind up back in New Jersey. “Heartwarming” does not begin to express my innards

PISTONS vs. SIXERS: The Larry Brown Invitational. Somebody better be prepared to come to his emotional rescue. If squaring off against Allen Iverson isn’t arousing enough, I’m informed Brown is distraught he wasn’t considered for Pope; says it’s been his dream job since he was a kid.

Defending champs hit second season second to none, winning 11 in a row before insignificant last-game loss at Charlotte. Detroit even managed to get Darko Milicic (above) rough and ready, starting each (a first) of last two games and getting 30 minutes. Say this much about Darko, his team has made the playoffs both of his seasons. Joe Dumars deserves a lot of credit for for not trading up and taking LeBron James.

For his part, Allen Iverson has promised to attend all Pistons practices. Philly quietly won eight of last 10, including three of four on the road.

That doesn’t faze Brown in the least: “I’d say right now we match up well with anyone . . . except for Argentina.”

Nomar Reponds To Ryan’s Steroid Slur

Posted in Baseball at 12:20 pm by

From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Toni Ginnetti.

Nomar Garciaparra burst out laughing when he was asked Friday about a Boston columnist’s insinuation that he used steroids.

”Are you kidding me?” the injured Cubs shortstop said. ”If I was taking steroids, could I send them back and get the good ones, because obviously, these didn’t work. I didn’t get my money’s worth. That’s ridiculous.

”These are the same people who said I didn’t want my [World Series] ring. We all know that wasn’t true. That came out to be a hoax. It’s probably the same people who said I faked my injury last year, so what does that tell you? Fake an injury in a contract year? That’s pretty smart. It makes me chuckle.”

Garciaparra is out with a ruptured adductor tendon in his left groin, an injury that occurred when he slipped coming out of the batter’s box in St. Louis on Wednesday. He is likely to miss two to three months.

But Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan wrote on Friday that the former Red Sox star’s injury, coming after an injury-shortened season last year and in 2001, raised the specter of steroid use.

”Absolutely not, without question,” Garciaparra said to a direct question about using the banned substances. ”They’re going to say all sorts of stuff because they can’t do what we do. Anyone can say whatever they want, I guess. I’m a Cub, and that’s all I have to worry about.”

If There’s A Draft, Shut The Fucking Window

Posted in Gridiron at 12:10 pm by

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, but many of you have chosen to celebrate your football degeneracy by watching the Bristol University faculty talking with their hands for several hours.

Other than the fact that Bill Romanowski isn’t a commentator this year (and Braylon Edwards’ entourage was bigger than most NFL squads on September 1), this entire program is a twisted glorifcation of a corrupt process. Well, that, and I’m pissed that baseball’s amateur draft is just a conference call available via Real Player.

The top 4 thus far

1) San Francisco – Alex Smith (QB, Utah)
2) Miami – Ronnie Brown (RB, Auburn)
3) Cleveland – Braylon Edwards (WR, Michicgan)
4) Chicago – Cedric Benson (RB, Texas)

It doesn’t seem right that they couldn’t find a part for Too Tall Jones in the remake of “The Longest Yard”. Or Garo Yepremian.

04.22.05

Blades Of Steel

Posted in Hot Fads at 11:33 pm by

Sid Vicious, Arn Anderson, unavailable for comment. (link courtesy Craig Stewart).

Heyman On Pedro

Posted in Baseball at 7:28 pm by

It’s a little late in the day to still be gloating over the Mets’ 10-1 drubbing of the Marlins last night, but don’t blame Newsday’s Jon Heyman. I’m just slow getting around to quoting him.

In case anyone had any doubts, Pedro Martinez over Al Leiter was the way for the Mets to go.

Granted, this was only one game, but Leiter’s performance was so poor, even he couldn’t come up with one decent excuse.

And who was it who said he’d never help the Mets again?

It may be an inning or 200 early to start speculating on trophies, but it’s still a nice time to start blowing up the myths.

Myth No. 1: He’s not nearly the same pitcher since he doesn’t throw 97 mph anymore.

Reality: Maybe he’s not exactly the same pitcher, but he can be every bit as good. He mixed four pitches at countless speeds, making the Marlins consistently look foolish. He rarely cracked 92 mph, yet overwhelmed the Marlins.

Myth No. 2: He can’t pitch effectively on four days rest anymore.

Reality: It’s true his ERA was nearly two runs higher in those circumstances last year, so maybe there’s some validity there. But this was his first start on four days rest this season and he was at his best, striking out eight Marlins and allowing three hits and no walks in seven innings.

Myth No. 3. He’s a six-inning pitcher who’ll drain the bullpen.

Reality: When he was removed after seven innings, he was making the Marlins look silly. He certainly is no drain. When he left, he had pitched 29 innings, tied for the league lead with Houston’s Roy Oswalt, a horse.

Martinez smiled when he was asked about the six-inning rap. But you could tell he wasn’t always smiling about it.

“You guys understand what negotiations are all about. I came along in 1990, but I understand what negotiations are all about,” he said.

“That was pretty much a campaign, driven by a couple bad reporters willing to trade their professionalism for good credit on the team or getting more interviews. I don’t have anything to prove.”

He ended his rant with a grin and a quip.

“Not bad for a guy who couldn’t pitch five innings.”

Though he pitched seven, he could have gone all night. Rather than a drain on the pen, he’s a benefit to it. Willie Randolph removed Martinez not because he was tiring but to get Mike DeJean and Heath Bell a little work and to ensure that Martinez would be fresh for Atlanta.

The Mets are leading the Nationals 2-0 after 3 and a half innings tonight at Shea, giving Tom Glavine a lead by scoring twice on infield outs in the 3rd. New York’s Doug Mientkiewicz was gunned down by DC’s J.J. Davis, trying to score on a David Wright liner to left to end the same inning. The New Mets (aka “The Mets”) will commemorate Black History Night later in the evening when Fran Healy recites Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech during the 7th inning stretch. Said oration will not be telecast or heard over the radio, but we’re told Fran is very excited.

Sponge-tastic Edict From The FDA

Posted in Medical Science at 5:51 pm by

Here’s some great news for CSTB’s female readers (all 6 of you) : the FDA has rescinded their decade old ban on the Today Sponge.

This announcement, coupled with the recent court ruling that might put ephedra back on the shelves, means that America’s heterosexuals are gonna have a summer filled with dramatic, if not dangerously life-threatening weight loss, followed by sponge-sex.

Homosexuals following this story will have to settle for the dramatic, if not dangerously life-threatening weight loss. They can have sex, too (you’re welcome), but the sponge will not help.

Mushnick On Francesca, Camby

Posted in Sports Journalism at 3:59 pm by

In today’s NY Post, Phil Mushnick takes issue with Mike Francesca’s double standards and Marcus Camby’s sartorial choices.

You’ve really got to give them credit. For pure, unmitigated gall, no team can finish a close second to Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, hosts of the “Know-It-All and the Village Idiot” show. They’ve got more nerve than a bum tooth.
Monday, they made a loud, sustained issue of a post-game interview, the day before, conducted by YES’s new Yankee reporter, Kimberly Jones, with Joe Torre, who had apparently provided her curt, snappish answers following the Yanks’ third straight loss in Baltimore.

Francesa and Russo called YES for the tape of the Q & A. YES refused. Then Francesa demanded it. Then Francesa screamed ” literally screamed ” that YES was subjugating the truth.

And yet it is WFAN that has long and regularly refused to provide tape to the news media of Francesa and Russo’s most infamous moments. WFAN will dispute reports of what they said as inaccurate, but then claim that those moments were not taped or refuse to provide the tape.

And Francesa and Russo are quite content to allow WFAN to subjugate the truth on their behalf. Meanwhile, tape of what WFAN regards as the duo’s shining moments is always available, often via same-day replays.

“It was very clear that they were going to use that tape to belittle Kimberly Jones,” a YES source said yesterday, “and we were not going to lend ourselves to that.”

Monday, Francesa wasn’t done being Francesa. Late in the show he re-entered the studio with a news bulletin: The new NFL Sunday and Monday night TV deals. He then proceeded to imply that he ” the great and powerful Oz ” had an inside track on this info, claiming, “A little birdie told me.”

Yeah, a little birdie with a bullhorn. The NFL and its networks had been circulating the info for over an hour. Francesa was among the last to know. But his egomaniacal, disingenuous reflexes would allow an audience to believe that he was among the first, if not the first.

Then again, consistency is the mark of greatness.

Marcus Camby, injured, sat on the Nuggets’ bench, Tuesday, wearing a shirt carrying a large, can’t-miss image of O.J. Simpson. Last week’s Sports Illustrated included a chat with Camby in which he said that if he weren’t in the NBA he’d like to be, “A school principal.”

I just saw Jim Rome sneering about the same OJ shirt (“was your Rae Carruth throwback at the cleaners?”), so I will presume such a garment actually exists (or at least that Rome reads the Post).

From Weed To ‘Roids – The Grant Roberts Story

Posted in Baseball at 3:22 pm by

Finally, a household name (above) has been served to the invisible drug czar’s jackals (thanks to David Goldstein for the link).

Maggs Vs. Ozzie

Posted in Baseball at 2:45 pm by

Out of the lineup with a hernia,Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez hasn’t been shy in his criticism of his former White Sox team, manager Ozzie Guillen in particular. Guillen, not the most reserved character on the planet, shows no signs of backing down writes the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. (thanks to reader Mike for the link)

The brushfire between manager Ozzie Guillen and former White Sox player Magglio Ordonez turned into a full-scale inferno Thursday morning after Guillen took exception to his fellow Venezuelan calling him an “enemy.”

“He’s a piece of [bleep],” Guillen told Sox beat writers after learning of Ordonez’s contempt for Guillen and alleging his manager steered him away from the Sox and to Detroit.

“He’s a [bleep], that’s what he is,” Guillen continued (above). “He’s another Venezuelan [bleep]. [Bleep] him.

“He has an enemy. Now he has a big one. He knows I can [bleep] him a lot of different ways. He better shut the [bleep] up and play for the Detroit Tigers.”

In a five-minute interview a member of the Tigers staff halted, Ordonez expressed his frustration over his latest injury but was blunter in discussing the lack of a relationship he had with Guillen from the time they briefly played together with the Sox at the end of the 1997 season.

“We never clicked, even when we played together,” Ordonez said. “I don’t consider him my friend. I have nothing to say. I don’t want to see him or talk to him. He’s my enemy.

“If he comes to me and wants to apologize, I wouldn’t accept it.”

Ordonez said later he didn’t have a problem with Sox general manager Ken Williams and insisted it was Guillen who got involved with the Sox’s decision not to re-sign him.

“I don’t talk bad about people when people are hurt,” said Ordonez, who is on the disabled list and will be examined Monday in Philadelphia by a hernia specialist. “I’m very straightforward. There are a lot of people who try to push you down and do the opposite and not try to help you.”

Guillen became furious at any suggestion that he should apologize to Ordonez.

“Why do I have to apologize to him?” Guillen responded while sitting in his office chair and tapping his right foot frequently. “Who the [bleep] is Magglio Ordonez? Why ever talk about me? He doesn’t do [bleep] for me. But if he thinks I’m his enemy, he has a big enemy. He knows me.

“I just take it the way he wants to take it.”

Guillen said Ordonez started the verbal battle in February when Ordonez accused him of forcing him to play last season with a left knee injury that limited him to 52 games and convinced the Sox not to re-sign him after they had offered him a multiyear deal last April.

“Why would I get involved with [contract negotiations]?” Guillen asked. “I don’t get involved with that.”

“I think Magglio is playing with fire,” Guillen said. “I’m not afraid of him. I have nothing to apologize [for]. I have nothing to do with Magglio wearing the Detroit Tigers uniform.

“Every time when he played for me, he played good. But if he thinks I’m his enemy or I have something against him, it’s up to him.”

He never was my friend because I don’t know him. If I think what I say hurt him, I don’t give a [bleep]. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to win games. I have a lot of friends. If Magglio doesn’t want to be my friend, I don’t have to drink with him.

“¦ A couple people asked me about it, and [I] was nice about his injury and [bleep]. I don’t give a [bleep] what he does for the rest of his life. He [bleeped] with the wrong guy.”

Bob Ryan Gets Juicy With Nomar

Posted in Baseball at 1:25 pm by

It’s not enough that Boston won a World Series without him, nor is watching Nomar Garciaparra’s career suffer another major setback enough for some people. Bob Ryan flashes his dubious medical credentials in this morning’s Boston Globe.

Things just keep happening to Nomar. There was the first wrist injury in ’99. There was the second wrist injury in ’01 that limited him to 21 games and 83 at-bats. There was the mysterious Achilles’ tendon injury in spring training last March. He said he was hit by a foul ball while standing on the sideline prior to the Red Sox’ exhibition game with Northeastern. No one on either team remembers seeing any such incident, and you’d rightfully think if something happened to a player of Nomar’s stature, it would have been a Story, right then and there. Even by Nomar standards, it was a strange, inexplicable story.

The July 31 trade last season to the Cubs changed nothing. He hurt his wrist again. And now this.

Hmmm.

Look, I’m hardly the first person to raise the question. When he was with the Red Sox, who was bold enough to link our fair shortstop, a noted workout guy, with the dreaded S-word? But he did go from, like, standard athlete issue normal to ultra-buffed in one winter, and he has been — there is no other way to say it — systematically breaking down for the past six years, so you can’t help wondering just what he’s been putting into his body other than Wheaties and sirloin steaks. If we’re going to assume that Mark McGwire’s physical breakdown was because of a reliance on steroids, then it would be quite logical to adopt the same line of thinking about Nomar. It’s a legitimate question.

Sure. And it was also a legitmate question when Garciaparra was wearing a Red Sox uniform and was one of the city’s most beloved professional athletes. But apparently an easier question to ask today.

Memo To Zeke’s Mom : Keep A Bag Packed

Posted in Basketball at 12:02 pm by

As speculation swirls about Phil Jackson’s next gig —- Minneapolis, Cleveland, Los Angeles or New York —- Knicks GM Isiah Thomas takes stock of the 2004-2005 campaign, as reported by the New York Times’ Howard Beck.

In a postseason meeting with the Knicks’ players and coaches Thursday morning, Thomas was said to be angry and animated and sometimes profane. But an hour later, when he addressed the team’s future publicly, Thomas’s demeanor was decidedly more measured.

“I went through a lot of range of emotions over these last two weeks,” Thomas said. “Angry, mad, disappointed, embarrassed. I’m not used to being on this side.”

Despite the Knicks’ failure to make the playoffs, or even win half their games, Thomas said changes to the roster would be moderate.

“I really like what we have,” he said. “When you’ve lost 30 games by 6 points or less, there’s some hope. So we’re not as far away as our record would indicate.”

In games decided by no more than 6 points, the Knicks actually went 12-22, a sign that they lacked the cohesion and precision necessary to perform under pressure. Injuries played a role, preventing them from establishing a consistent rotation. But continual change has also been an issue, with Thomas overhauling the roster during his 16 months as the team’s president.

Still, Thomas would not rule out a major trade and, for the first time, said no player on the roster was untouchable. “The way I feel right now, I’d trade my mother if the right deal came along,” he said.

Coupon Shopper Columnist Still Pissed About Caminiti Tribute

Posted in Baseball at 11:25 am by

Presumably the North County Times’ Steve Schofield has other subjects to write about the other 363 days of the year.

Try as they might to low-key Ken Caminiti Night at Petco Park on Thursday, the Padres didn’t quite pull it off.

It was a delicate subject for the team to honor Caminiti, a man who died of a drug overdose in October and would have celebrated his 42nd birthday Thursday.

Master of ceremonies Ted Leitner did a good job of introducing Caminiti’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, ex-wife and three children.

And the team showed some clips of Caminiti’s playing career, from youth sports to his time as a pro, including four years with the Padres from 1995-1998.

They also stenciled his number “21″ in large letters in back of home plate.

It was going well until Leitner went over the top and said “Ladies and gentlemen, in only four years, but I think you will agree with me, no one in this sport in this city or any other sport, grabbed the fans and had the love affair Ken had.”

Oh, really? What about Junior Seau, Tony Gwynn, Dan Fouts and Don Coryell? That’s a disservice to all of them, and none of them killed themselves.

Manager Bruce Bochy had an interesting take on Caminiti.

“I don’t want the steroid issue to be associated with Ken, ever,” Bochy said. “I believe and hope people will recognize him as a baseball player, a complete baseball player.”

That’s not going to happen because Caminiti wrote his own sad epitaph with his lifestyle.

Wetzel Logic, Pt. II

Posted in Sports Radio, The Mailbag at 1:10 am by

Hi folks,

I am filling in for Tim Brando on Friday (22nd) and Monday (25th) on sporting news radio from 3-6pm EST. I hope you can tune in.

Thanks for listening,

Scott Wetzel
Sporting News Radio Host
Saturday 10:00am-1:00pm
Sunday 9:00am-1:00pm
(847) 509-1661 ext 3144

Scott,

If I’m confined to a hospital bed Friday or Monday, have no access to a TV set and I can’t find anything else on the radio (ie. ESPN, Air America, Fox Sports Radio, whatever stations play suicide-inducing hybrds of rap-metal, Paul Harvey in a constant loop, faith-healing-without-pictures, Kelly Clarkson covering the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc.), I promise I’ll listen to your program!

Unless I take a nap. Or expire. In which case, you’re shit out of luck.

Have a great show! It has to happen one of these days!

GC

04.21.05

Creative Accounting, Tampa-Style

Posted in Baseball at 11:23 pm by

Lou Piniella might be grumbling about the lack of support from Devil Rays ownership, but Executive Of The Century Chuck LaMarr says that Sweet Lou was well aware that the club had no intention of spending more dough, writes the Tampa Tribune’s Scott Carter and Bruce Lowitt.

“I can’t speak for Lou,” LaMar said Wednesday when asked about Piniella’s comments during the weekend in Boston. “He does a great job of that. His questioning of ownership … he wants to win as we all do. I know his frustration, he wears on his shirt sleeve, and some of us have to be a little more realistic in the organization.

“The payroll is what it is. [Lou] knew that in November of last year. We all knew that. We knew the payroll was going to be in the $32 to $33 million range. That’s what it is and that’s what it’s going to be this year.”

Piniella voiced his concerns about another season with the game’s smallest payroll before Sunday’s game in Boston. The Rays, while budgeted for a payroll of around $32 million, are currently at $29 million because of the unexpected retirements of Roberto Alomar and Danny Bautista in spring training, and the trade of Jose Cruz Jr. to Arizona.

Piniella, facing a larger-than- normal media throng before Wednesday’s game against Texas, didn’t bite when the subject of the team’s payroll came up.

“My comments were about how we got it done in Seattle, that it was a total commitment,” Piniella said. “Nothing more and nothing else. My job is to manage a baseball team. I don’t make other decisions. I don’t set payroll figures. My job is to manage what I’m given.”

If I’m Lou, I’m wondering what’s up with the extra $3 million the club saved upon losing Alomar, Bautista and Cruz Jr. Although it might cost nearly that much to install proper security at Vince Naimoli’s private toilet.

Tampa’s Dewon Brazelton got his first win, closer Danys Baez his first save of 2005, as the Devil Rays beat the Rangers 3-2 earlier tonight, in front of an alleged 8799 humans, ending the pitcher’s personal 7 game losing streak. Left fielder Jonny Gomes( above, left), just called up from Durham, scored two runs and singled in three plate appearances.

Terrific Excuse For Why You’re Stupid

Posted in The Internet at 10:55 pm by

The Guardian’s Martin Wainwright reports on sobering new findings that if nothing else, should explain why I left the back door open, burned dinner, put my car keys in the freezer and just wrote the dog a check for $20.

The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers.

Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached “startling” levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip.

Respondents’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges every time an email dropped into their inbox. Productivity at work was damaged and the effect on staff who could not resist trying to juggle new messages with existing work was the equivalent, over a day, to the loss of a night’s sleep.

“This is a very real and widespread phenomenon,” said Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist from King’s College, London University, who carried out 80 clinical trials for TNS research, commissioned by the IT firm Hewlett Packard. The average IQ loss was measured at 10 points, more than double the four point mean fall found in studies of cannabis users.

The most damage was done, according to the survey, by the almost complete lack of discipline in handling emails. Dr Wilson and his colleagues found a compulsion to reply to each new message, leading to constant changes of direction which inevitably tired and slowed down the brain.

You have no idea how relieved I am to learn about this study, Tears are streaming down my face as I struggle to type this, such is the weight I feel leaving my shoulders. And perhaps there’s some self-recognition in there for you, too. Have you done something spectacularly stupid recently? Found yourself laughing at those AFLAC commercials? Seen “Sin City” more than once? Gazed longingly at a photograph of Suzyn Waldman? Paid your own money to attend a convention of music journalists talking about music journalism? Or perhaps you are the San Diego Padres employee who thought this would be a good way to pay tribute to America’s servicemen & women?

If so, don’t worry about it. Back away from the laptop, and get the bong out of its hiding place. You won’t soon recover your missing brain cells, but you won’t be losing them nearly as fast, either.

Petco – Where Fly Balls Go To Die

Posted in Baseball at 9:49 pm by

In the bottom of the first in tonight’s LA/SD tilt, Phil Nevin hit a ball to deep center field that Milton Bradley easily hauled in. And the Dodgers’ CF only had to run about 40 yards to track it down.

In all seriousness, after all the outcry last year that Petco was killing the power numbers of guys like Nevin and Ryan Klesko, I’m just wondering if the Padres have done anything to emphasize taking more pitches, moving runners along, etc. Dave Roberts and Mark “When I Talk To” Loretta at the top of the order makes plenty of sense, but their 3-4-5 of Giles, Nevin and Klesko seems like the sort you’d really rather have in another type of ballpark. Klesko managed to raise his average and strike out less often in 2004, but it’s hard not imagine how much better the Padres would be if they had a Willie McGee type hitting 2nd or 3rd. Granted, said types aren’t exactly easy to find, and a team could do worse than Loretta (208 hits in 2004), but something doesn’t seem right about the sort of team the Padres have assembled compared to their place of residence.

(UPDATE : check out the following from Tom Krasovic in this morning’s San Diego Union Tribune :

The Padres’ Geoff Blum said he couldn’t recall suffering an out on a ball hit as far as the one the Dodgers’ Milton Bradley caught near Petco’s 411-foot sign on Wednesday. “Just bad batting on my part; I’ve got to work on my placement,” Blum said.)

Coupon-Shopper Columnist Denounces Camintti Tribute

Posted in Baseball at 5:47 pm by

The San Diego Padres are scheduled to honor the late Ken Caminiti tonight in a ceremony before they try to end the Dodgers’ 8 game winning streak. The North County Times’ Steve Scholfield has a problem with it.

By honoring Caminiti, the first major leaguer to admit he used steroids while becoming the league’s most valuable player, the club is glorifying his use of steroids and other drugs.

Caminiti had many demons, including alcohol, steroids and drugs. He died from an overdose of cocaine and opiates in New York.

At the very least, the Padres are sending a mixed message to all young baseball players that steroids are acceptable as long as you win.

Moores disagrees: “I think everyone has gotten that message about steroids and the point has been pounded home.”

Still, this gesture is giving tacit approval of Caminiti’s lifestyle, which is wrong.

El Camino High athletic director Herb Meyer has been an educator for more than 45 years and sees the danger in promoting Caminiti.

“The bad thing is recognizing the things he did on the field and not recognizing what he did off the field,” Meyer said. “It is hard to separate those two.”

They can’t be separated.
The team is celebrating ill-gotten gains. Yes, Caminiti was exciting to watch in 1996 not only offensively but defensively.

But how much of it was Caminiti on the juice? He hit 14 more home runs (26 to 40) and drove in 36 more runs (94 to 130) than he did in 1995.

In six full seasons in Houston prior to coming to the Padres, Caminiti averaged 11.8 home runs a year, never hitting more than 18 in the spacious Astrodome. But in four years with the Padres, he averaged just over 30 home runs.

It could be argued that Caminiti was at least worth three more wins in the standings, probably more. The Padres won 91 games to win the NL West by one game over the Dodgers. The best team that failed to make the playoffs that year was Montreal, which had 88 wins.

In essence, Caminiti’s play kept Montreal out of the playoffs.

Felipe Alou, who was Montreal’s manager back then, doesn’t see it that way.

“Why blame one guy, especially a guy who is dead?” said Alou, who is now the manager of the San Francisco Giants. “I feel bad for a guy who died so young.”

There is no question Caminiti helped the Padres win the division that year and the National League pennant in 1998. A month after the latter title, voters approved the funding for Petco Park.

I’m connecting the dots here, but without Caminiti’s cheating, the Padres may not have a new home today.

Wow. Maybe, just maybe the Padres and their fans are sophisticated are enough to think they can say a public goodbye to a fallen friend and colleague without necessarily condoning what killed him? And Ken Caminiti is hardly the only confirmed drug user whose exploits got a team into the post-season (or help get a ballpark built).

Wondering About Those Grapefruit League Drug Tests……

Posted in Baseball at 5:23 pm by

…..because we’re hungry for more no-name, expendable scapegoats.

In other news, since Dusty’s Holy Water hasn’t been ruled illegal (not yet anyway), the Cubs skipper might need a 10 gallon jug to pour over Nomar’s crotch. The Cubs’ SS is expected to miss the next 2-3 months after suffering a torn left groin muscle in last night’s game against St. Louis.

Sans Nomar, the Cubs were blanked by the Cardinals’ Cris Carpenter (above) earlier today, a complete game, 7-hit, 1 walk, 113 pitch outing that dropped Chicago to a game behind St. Louis.

For those who like tearing their hair out over this sort of thing, Philadelpha’s Jon Lieber (above) now has as many wins in 2005 as Tim Hudson, John Smolz, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez combined.

Anti-Naimoli Sentiment Spreads

Posted in Baseball at 2:15 pm by

The Hearld-Tribune’s Chris Anderson interviews Mike Farnham, creator of Vince Must Go.com.

“The fans deserve something better, something they enjoy, and it’s not going to happen unless Vince spends more money,” Farnham said.

That is unlikely to happen. Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli has stated that payroll is directly related to attendance.

And since the Devil Rays continue to have the lowest payroll in baseball, how is attendance ever supposed to increase? Farnham, a 36-year-old Bradenton resident, came up with the idea for the Web site last week. It was up and running Tuesday morning.

On the first day, the site had 500 hits and 60 people weighed in with comments, all of which begged Naimoli to step aside.

Farnham moved to Manatee County in 1978 from New York. He was a Mets fan until the baseball strike of 1994.

He stopped following the game, but picked it up again when the Rays began playing in 1998. It didn’t take long before he was disgusted again.

“The team’s going to go away if they’re not careful,” Farnham said.

There is also a similar site created by a Tampa businessman up and running. Fans can voice their displeasure with Naimoli at www.oustnaimoli.com.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, that site had received 13,162 hits and 506 people had signed a petition.

Perhaps enough signatures on a Web site will convince Naimoli to walk away, to go to a place where no one will use his bathroom ever again?