From the Associated Press :
Robby Gordon accused Danica Patrick of having an unfair advantage in the Indianapolis 500 and said Saturday he will not compete in the race again unless the field is equalized.
Gordon, a former open-wheel driver now in NASCAR, contends that Patrick (above) is at an advantage over the rest of the competitors because she only weighs 100 pounds. Because all the cars weigh the same, Patrick’s is lighter on the race track.
“The lighter the car, the faster it goes,” Gordon said. “Do the math. Put her in the car at her weight, then put me or Tony Stewart in the car at 200 pounds and our car is at least 100 pounds heavier.
So if you wanna compete against her, lose a hundred pounds, how hard could it be? Ephedra’s legal again, stomach stapling is cheaper than it used to be. Maybe Gordon would like to petition the Jockey Club to have something done about the blatant discrimination in thoroughbred racing — good luck if you weigh 200 pounds.
From the Associated Press :
A woman who claims she had an affair with former NBA star and Fox Sports Net sportscaster John Salley filed a lawsuit Friday alleging Salley mentally and physically abused her during the relationship.
The suit, filed in Superior Court, alleges that the co-host of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” (above)met Laura Azevedo at Magic Johnson’s “A Midsummer Night’s Magic” charity event in 2002. The two began dating the following December after Salley told Azevedo he was going to divorce his wife, according to court papers.
Azevedo alleges that Salley became increasingly jealous and abusive during their affair, until at one point he “began violently pulling and twisting” her left leg. The suit says that Salley paid for Azevedo to undergo an MRI, which revealed a torn knee ligament that required surgery.
While the Cleveland Plain-Dealer claims that Pacers assistant Mike Brown is likely to be named the new head coach of the Cavaliers, the paper’s Roger Brown reports on a veteran with championship experience, seemingly desperate to hang on in any capacity.
Former Cavs reserve Scott Williams might be angling for a job as a team broadcaster, but word is he™ll need major repair work if he hopes to replace Mark Price as the Cavs™ cable analyst next season.
The soon-to-retire Williams, who played in just 19 games with the Cavs last season (and none after being put on the injury list in February), has been reportedly lobbying for a job as a team broadcaster. That role is available with Price™s decision not to return as FSN Ohio™s Cavs analyst.
However, Cavs management apparently remains miffed at how Williams asked to leave the team as last season wound down and the club choked away a once-sure playoff spot.
Sources whisper that Williams has been working to soothe the Cavs™ bruised feelings. They suggest that it wasn™t by accident that during a recent appearance as a NBA TV analyst, Williams effusively praised Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and strongly defended Gilbert against criticism that he meddles too much.
San Francisco have traded Jerome Williams and David Aardasma to Chicago in exchange for reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
At Wrigley earlier today, Derrek Lee (above) continued to do most of the heavy lifting for the Cubs, his 2 HR’s (both of ‘em off Byung-Hyun Kim) leading Chicago to a 5-1 victory over the Rockies.
From the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi.
Still wearing his Marlins uniform, pinch-hitter Lenny Harris stormed into the Mets’ clubhouse after Thursday’s game to complain to manager Willie Randolph about being taunted by pitcher Pedro Martinez and coach Sandy Alomar.
Opposing players rarely enter another team’s clubhouse, but Harris, a former Met, was incensed that Martinez and Alomar yelled “Watch for the bunt!” as Harris batted in the seventh inning.
“They’re screaming out of the dugout, I’m thinking I’m still back in high school. I thought it was hogwash,” Harris said before Friday’s game.
The incident actually started on April 21, when Harris bunted for a single against Martinez in a 10-1 Marlins loss at Dolphins Stadium. That day, both players could be seen laughing at each other on the field after Harris reached base.
“I thought that was the end of it,” Harris said. “But they’re screaming, ‘Watch out for the bunt! Watch out for the bunt!’ and I’m thinking, ‘It was really bothering them.’ I told Willie I didn’t think they’d take it that seriously.”
Harris was so distracted that he stepped out of the batter’s box and yelled back, “Are you done?” before striking out.
“There’s a time to play, but when the game starts it’s serious business. You know a fan is going to heckle you ” I don’t mind if it’s a fan ” but if its a ballplayer, then I want to find out what’s the problem. It kept going on. I thought they took it too far.
Randolph dismissed the situation. “Just chit chat,” he said.
This is genuinely shocking stuff. Who knew Lenny Harris was still playing?
Actor Eddie Albert, best known for playing the part of lawyer-turned-farmer Oliver Douglas in CBS’ “Green Acres”, has passed away at the age of 99.
Arnold Ziffel was unavailable for comment.
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of Randy Johnson’s recent quote that he was brought to New York to give the Yankees a chance to win in every game, but I’m surely not alone in thinking the Unit’s new employers had slightly higher expectations. Though the Yankees won last night, Johnson continued to struggle and were it not for the Village People reject coaching 3rd for Boston, his line for the evening would’ve been far worse. From the New York Times’ Selena Roberts.
With his fabled status as the Big Unit downgraded to the Big Mediocre, Johnson didn’t exactly bully the Red Sox. He gave up 9 hits and 3 earned runs – a number that could have easily doubled in the sixth.
Johnson was dizzied from absorbing five consecutive sharp hits – including a double – but was freed from the wrath of the Stadium crowd when Boston’s third-base coach, Dale Sveum, mindlessly waved two runners in a row to their doom at home.
Sveum (above), as much as anyone, spared Johnson from an even deeper position as the Yankees’ old man out.
“He struggled,” Manager Joe Torre said. “He had good stuff, but he had to work hard every inning.”
Out of character, and perhaps out of self-preservation, Johnson was more upbeat than Torre about his effort because of one powerful thought: His velocity was back.
“I was pleased considering my velocity was up 4 or 5″ miles an hour, Johnson said.
If nothing else, this feel-good version of Johnson is a good step in Yankee relations. For weeks, he has moaned about not getting enough work in spring training and whined about receiving an extra day of rest.
At 41, you would think he’d be pleased with more naptime. After receiving a three-year Yankee investment of $57 million – including a contract extension and payment to the Diamondbacks to complete the deal – you’d think Johnson wouldn’t fuss so much about his new employers.
With such petulance without production, Johnson has squandered some of the awe his teammates showed him upon his arrival as the Yankees’ answer to the magic that Curt Schilling worked for the Red Sox last year.
It is one thing to be a surly superstar with a 2.40 earned run average, but it is another to be a clubhouse annoyance with performances that fail to inspire tolerance. This may not matter on the verge of June, but a continuation of Johnson’s act could dog the Yankees if they have to pursue the Orioles into August.
The Yankees can’t afford a malcontent, a misfit ace. The issue has already surfaced on the field. In one unforgettable sequence at Shea Stadium last weekend, Johnson’s frustration distracted him after he gave up an unthinkable double to reliever Dae Sung Koo.
A play later, Johnson failed to cover home plate after catcher Jorge Posada had thrown to first on a bunt, allowing Koo to sneak around third and score with the plate unattended until it was too late.
Normally, such a mistake might go without assigned blame, but Posada quickly pointed out Johnson’s blunder, one hint of possible friction between the two. It has not been easy for Posada to decode the confusing grumbles and groans of Johnson.
If you’re one of those terminal sad sacks that had no friends while growing up, take solace in the knowledge that you never had a friend like this.
An incident just occured that challenges everything all laws of time and space.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Piazza just gunned down Juan Pierre trying to steal 2nd.
And Pierre didn’t even fall down on the way.
(UPDATE : 8 IP, 5 hits, no walks, 10 K’s, 111 pitches thrown by the otherworldly Pedro Martinez, who ran his record to 5-1 with the Mets’ 1-0 win. Save for back to back doubles allowed to Mike Cameron and Cliff Floyd, the Fish’s Brian Moehler was almost as sharp.)
Dodgers 3B/SS Norihiro Nakamura had a ghastly first month in the big leagues ; just two doubles, three singles in 39 plate appearances (.128 BA, .171 OBP, .179 SLG). However, since his demotion to Triple A Las Vegas, Nakamura has feasted on Pacific Coast League pitching, hitting 8 HR’s in 15 games (.364 BA, 17 RBI’s, 14 runs) and was a particularly deadly on Round Rock pitching during Vegas’ sweep of the Express earlier this week.
From Bob Raissman in Friday’s NY Daily News.
Maybe the Mets get on their feet again in Florida. However, if this downward spiral continues, Willie Randolph is going to feel the kind of heat he never, ever, experienced as a Yankee. He won’t have the protection of propaganda organs like Al Yankzeera, or Radio Al Yank, and the variety of on-air shills who are paid by George Steinbrenner.
There will be an endless procession of Mets fans calling WFAN. They will be screaming long and loud, looking – once again – for someone to blame everything on. They will start mocking Randolph’s “we played with energy” or “the kids are having fun” post-loss lines the same way they mocked Art Howe’s “we’re battling” mantra.
Randolph is already showing sensitivity to WFAN callers. On Wednesday, Randolph, during an audience with beat scribes, overreacted to FAN buzz about him resting certain players too much. He also countered Fran Healy’s MSG comments about Cliff Floyd’s slumping having something to do with the way Randolph uses him.
“Don’t you make the grand leap that Willie is beginning a meltdown,” a well-embedded Mets mole said. “This isn’t what those (Floyd) comments are about.”
Whatever. If the Mets eventually descend deeper into the ring of fire, it will take on a familar feeling for Sheaites used to being burned. It will also spell more than the usual sense of doom for Fred (Skill Sets) Wilpon & Co.
See, unlike any other recent season, there are heavier financial ramifications if the Mets move in with the Tidy Bowl Man.
With the quick-to-judge NY fans in mind, perhaps it would be a good idea for one of the Mets (perhaps Eric Valent?) to come forward and announce he’s been in therapy for the past few years.
Incredibly, Dusty Baker has lost another pitcher and there were no laptops or chairs involved.
(UPDATE : An MRI has revealed that Prior’s elbow has suffered a slight fracture. Nothing a good soak in Dusty’s holy water can’t fix. Well, that and a few weeks on the DL).
Larry Brown has denied speaking with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. Memphis GM Jerry West has let the Quicken Loans magnate know that he’s uninterested in taking over the Cavaliers’ basketball operations.
With each passing day, it becomes more apparent there’s only one man with the basketball acumen, with the raw ambition to take the job. The only question is, does Gilbert have M.L. Carr’s phone number?
Funny, when Barry Bonds started breathing down Babe Ruth’s neck, speculation over the former’s use of illegal substances ran rampant. But as Craig Biggio’s assault on Don Baylor’s HBP mark continues, media and fans alike turn a blind eye. More on the subject (sort of) from the Tacoma Tribune’s Larry Larue.
Four-and-a-half hours before the game Wednesday, Don Baylor was walking across the field at Camden Yards, headed to the batting cages beneath the stands, when a stadium tour guide spotted him.
œThat™s Don Baylor, who started his career as a Baltimore Oriole and set the major league record for being hit by a pitch 267 times, the guide told a gaggle of fans.
œThey won™t be able to say that much longer, he said. œCraig Biggio is getting close.
Houston™s second baseman began the night fewer than 10 behind Baylor™s big-league record “ a mark no one in their right mind would set out to establish. For one thing, it™s a record that hurts.
œI could have been hit another 100 times if I hadn™t gotten out of the way, said Baylor, the Seattle Mariners™ batting coach. œI didn™t go up there to get hit. I went up and crowded the plate to take away the outside strike and make pitchers come in to me. It evolved into part of my game. Hit me, I™ll steal a base on you.
Jim Bibby hit Baylor in the head in Class AAA, and it changed the way Baylor approached the game.
œI decided no matter where I got hit, I™d never come out of a game, he said. œMy first year in the majors, Nolan Ryan hit me on the wrist and the Baltimore trainer came out and sprayed that stuff on that was supposed to numb it.
œI told him that day, no matter where I™m hit from now on, don™t come out. I told all my trainers that. I didn™t want a pitcher thinking he could hurt me.
Baylor set the record in a 19-year career in which he drove in more than 1,200 runs and usually batted in the heart of the lineup. His toughness was unquestioned, and when asked about Biggio breaking the record, Baylor mentioned it.
œBiggio and a lot of guys today wear elbow pads, all kinds of protection, Baylor said. œI never wore a thing. You wear gear, you hang out over the plate, the pitcher can come inside and hit you and you don™t feel a thing. The game has changed.
œOne year in Texas, I hit an outside-corner slider from Ferguson Jenkins and pulled it down the line for a double. My next at-bat, he threw a fastball at my chin. It was his way of saying, ˜You can™t have both sides of the plate on me.™
Surprisingly, Baylor rarely was hit in the head.
œLook at him, ex-teammate Bruce Kison once said. œYou want that charging the mound?
In addition to speculating about Nate McMillan’s future (ie. he’s not coming to New York), the New York Post’s Peter Vescey drops the following gems on your breakfast table.
The oversized chair Michael Jordan used to watch game films while with the Bulls is up for online auction, according to a Florida newspaper. The custom-made chair has a minimum bid of $200,000.
In an unrelated development, Bruce Ratner is offering twice that if anyone can produce any chair that Byron Scott thought about sitting in while ignoring Nets’ game film.
Georgia’s runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, has been indicted for filing false statements and false police reports. She faces up to six years in the pokey, or, if the judge really wants to stick it to her, six Hawks home games.
The Toronto Star’s Allan Ryan on the perils of sliding head-first.
Let’s call this one “diving” for the cycle ” not to mention the disabled list.
Run the video:
The Padres’ Mark Loretta messes up his left thumb (the one he had reconstructive surgery on in 2001) diving into first base and will be lost eight to 10 weeks.
The Jays’ Corey Koskie celebrates his Minnesota homecoming by breaking his right thumb when he tags and tries to go first to second on a fly to centre. Out six to eight weeks.
The Indians’ Coco (Puff) Crisp tears ligaments in his thumb when he jams it oversliding the bag at third. Gone for maybe 12.
And the Angels’ Vlad Guerrero partially separates a shoulder diving across the plate when he tries to score from first on a double (in a 9-0 win). The two-week minimum, it’s hoped.
Common to this recent lot of misfortune: Headfirst slides.
Will they ever learn? Answer, instinct being what it is: No. You do, in that split-second, what you think you have to do.
HEAD TRIP: Given this risk of injury, you’ll never come across a manager who professes to loving nothing better than a good headfirst slide.
And while some players (Robby Alomar comes to mind) have argued that headfirst is faster, fact is, once you leave your feet, you’re slowing down.
Or as Twins manager Ron Gardenhire once explained to his troops: “You don’t see greyhounds diving across the finish line.”
Padre manager Bruce Bochy, who’ll occasionally put a dollar or two on the pooches, smiled when he heard that.
“I’ve seen ‘em take a dive ” with my money on ‘em,” he said.
While discussing Mike Piazza’s struggles (0 RBI’s in his last 13 games heading into last night’s action), Larry Bowa echoed CSTB’s recent advice to move David Wright lower in the batting order (Mr. Veiny Brainy says hitting cleanup), with Mike Cameron 2nd, Cliff Floyd 5th, Piazza sixth and Matsui 8th, respectively. Much like everything Bowa says on TV or radio now that he’s not wearing a uniform, it makes plenty of sense.
Given Jose Reyes’ ability to hit balls into the gap (another 2 triples in last night’s 12-4 win over the Marlins) there’s been some talk of moving the young SS to 2nd and having the unconscious Mike Cameron (3 for 5 Thursday, currently hitting .370) bat leadoff. Based on recent results (and Reyes inability to draw a walk), there’s some talk of Cameron hitting first, but under normal circumstances he’s more of a strikeout machine than Reyes.
Maybe you’re not a big Mike Piazza fan. And even if you’re not a huge fan of Savatage, there’s something profoundly depressing about the New York catcher’s interview with Jon Heyman in today’s Newsday.
Piazza has moments when he still looks like a star; he appeared on the verge of a breakthrough just before the Subway Series. But he also has days when he looks every bit his 36 years, eight months.
While there are times Piazza still looks as if he can become a force again, there are days when he looks even worse than his numbers indicate. One Yankee who’s known Piazza for years could hardly believe the way Piazza played last weekend. “Did you see Piazza?” the Yankee said. “He can barely move.”
If Piazza looked off his game in the Subway Series, things worsened in Atlanta, where he went 0-for-9 with six strikeouts to drop his average to .237, 78 points below his lifetime average.
“It’s frustrating. But I’m not going to surrender to it,” Piazza said. “I’ll just do the best I can. I feel like there are times I can do it again and there are times where I’m not swinging well at all … It’s a roller coaster so far.”
He said he isn’t sure whether he’ll play another season. Even if he won’t address it publicly, that question can’t ever be too far from his mind.
At one point, he said, “I don’t feel like I’m over the hill.” But he said it in such a way that he is wondering about it.
The rapid decline of catchers is something Piazza knows about. “It’s just obvious,” Piazza said. “When you catch 1,400 games, that’s a lot of games.”
Piazza’s throwing, never a strength, has slipped further. He’s thrown out only four of 45 would-be base-stealers. While it’s not all his fault (he’s been hindered by mix-ups by the Mets’ young infield), even correctly called pitchouts haven’t helped, and players who rarely steal, such as Hideki Matsui, are taking advantage. Many of Piazza’s throws are fielded on a bounce.
“I wish I could play better. I wish I could throw better,” Piazza said.
One Mets person said he wouldn’t mind seeing Piazza work a little overtime. However, Piazza said he’s far too exhausted for that. He’s started 38 of 47 games behind the plate, and to him it seems like 47 of 47.
“Physically, I feel like I’m getting everything out of my body right now,” Piazza said.
(after getting smacked around by the Blue Jays, Wade Miller wonders if he’s supposed to look for the “volume” knob or the “intensity” switch)
Back to Larry for a moment. After the Red Sox lost to Toronto tonight, 8-1, Bowa said Boston needs to “turn up the intensity volume” heading into their weekend series against the Yankees. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds great.
(Kenny Rogers interrupts photojournalism in action)
..but Ryan Drese vs. Rod Brajas was one of the better teammate vs. teammate battles that didn’t involve Kwame Brown.
Tonight’s Mets/Marlins tilt got a late start due a 90 minute rain delay. Someone oughta let the FSN Florida guys know that while “Seinfeld”, did indeed “have many good baseball lines”, it wasn’t the character of George Costanza that professed to “despise Keith Hernandez”.
(Mets security lets down the side again, as a bemused Pedro Martinez contends with a crazed stalker last weekend at Shea)
There also seems to be a daschund running loose in the stands at the former Joe Robie Stadium. Much as I’d like to credit Jeffrey Loria’s minions for their enlightened treatment of canine fans, I suspect this was just a desperate attempt to prop up the numbers.
(UPDATE : As it turns out, there are hundreds of dogs watching the Marlins and Mets tonight, but lest you think this a harmless way for Florida to fill up the empty seats, be advised that the dogs are being charged $6 each. Supposedly, the money is going to pooch-related charities, but I still suspect that Loria has a hidden motive for this. When the Fish finally pack up for Las Vegas, they’ll claim their previous home was covered in dogshit.).
From Reuters :
LONDON, — The Spice Girls are being courted to perform together for the first time since singer Geri Halliwell walked out in 1998, charity concert organizers said on Thursday.
Charity Band Aid said it hoped the chart-topping quintet would appear at a new Live Aid concert, aiming to repeat the success of the 1985 event which raised over $100 million for African famine relief.
“We are in discussions with the Spice Girls to perform at Live Aid II if it happens,” a Band Aid spokesman said.
Other headlining groups the charity hopes will appear include Britpop band Oasis and Irish stadium rockers U2.
“We are talking to every act that ever picked up a guitar or sang into a microphone,” the spokesman said.
The above statement is an unfortunate bit of hyperbole, but if the organizers can get the warring factions behind the original Spandau Ballet back on the same stage, well, it just makes the sniper’s task that much easier.
(Throbbing Gristle : are their phones ringing off the hook, or what?)
Time to eat crow ; I’ve already said that Hideo Nomo didn’t have enough left in the tank to hold down a spot in lowly Tampa Bay’s rotation. If only he could face Oakland every time out. Save for a solo shot courtesy of ex-Met Marco Scutaro, Nomo was flawless today, striking out 7 in the Devil Rays’ 2-1 win.
From the Associated Press (thanks to Craig Stewart for the link) :
NEW YORK — Burt Reynolds slapped a television producer in the face while a camera was rolling at a movie premiere after the man acknowledged he hadn’t seen Reynolds’ latest film.
The producer was asking Reynolds about his new movie “The Longest Yard” outside the premiere Tuesday night when the actor appeared to become annoyed.
“You don’t know anything about the movie?” Reynolds, 69, asked the producer for CBS News PATH.
The producer acknowledged he hadn’t seen it or the original 1974 version — and then Reynolds smacked him. “What … kind of guy are you?” Reynolds asked.
A spokesman for Reynolds said the actor “playfully tapped (the producer) on the cheek, as if to say, ‘Well, that’s not very nice.’ He was kidding.”
Imagine the destruction that would’ve occured at this event had anyone admitted to Brian Bosworth that they’d not seen any of his old movies, either.
From the Hartford Courant’s David Heuschkel.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona denied the reason closer Keith Foulke did not travel to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame game Monday was because he was in Alabama having his arm examined.
“That’s inaccurate. It’s wrong,” Francona said. “The rest of it, I’ll let him deal with it how he wants.”
Foulke, who concurred with Francona, didn’t want to deal with it at all. He reluctantly answered questions and acknowledged he was in Alabama, but contradicted the rest of the story from an autograph show promoter.
“I did not see a doctor,” Foulke said. “I went down to get some barbecue and that’s it.”
Told it was a long way to go for barbecue, Foulke – who lives in the Phoenix area -responded, “Have you ever had Alabama barbecue?”
Sources said Foulke paid a visit to the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, a facility founded by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, to improve his mechanics.
Foulke, who canceled an autograph appearance Monday in Cooperstown, was upset the man who set up the session said Foulke couldn’t make it because he went to see a doctor in Birmingham.
Foulke accused Jack Berke of “making stuff up” and said he “worked with him one time, and it will pretty much stay that way.”
“I don’t know why he even opened his mouth to tell anybody,” Foulke said. “Besides me having to cancel an appearance, it doesn’t concern that [expletive] guy one bit. He doesn’t need to be going out telling everybody what my business is. If he has all the answers, call him back up. I just don’t like having my [business] put out there by someone that I’ve met one time.”