Couch Time With A-Rod

Posted in Baseball at 11:17 am by

As you’ve probably read by now, Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez was quoted at length in yesterday’s New York Daily News, touting the benefits of therapy. A quote or two from Sam Borden’s piece stuck out :

Manhattan psychiatrist Wayne Myers, who has treated pro athletes, called Rodriguez’s revelation “courageous.”

“For a name player like A-Rod to come and say that is a great thing,” said Myers. “It gives permission for other players to do the same thing.”

Another Manhattan psychiatrist, Michael Aronoff, said, “Rodriguez is just the kind of person necessary to take the stigma away from seeing a therapist.”

(Cynthia Rodriguez wipes the loony drool from her husband’s face)

Though there oughta be no shame in seeking help, regardless of who you are, I think Dr. Aronoff is a little naive (though his drumming on those John Cougar records was the best thing about them). Were Alex Rodriguez universally admired and respected, perhaps Aronoff would be correct. Standing ovations for A-Rod at Fenway Park or Shea Stadium might still be a while in coming, however.


Remlinger Felled By Deadly Chair, Reds Take Note

Posted in Baseball at 11:20 pm by

Why can’t Mike Remlinger learn to get hurt the way a real major league pitcher does….by spending too much time online? The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan reports :

When the Cubs upgraded their clubhouse decor before the start of the 2004 season, they added a few lounge chairs and soon informed the media they no longer could walk past the recliners to talk to any players.

The imaginary line that separated the players from the media was nicknamed the “Remlinger line” by some, for Cubs left-hander Mike Remlinger, who allegedly started the ban.

In a bizarre twist of fate, Remlinger said Wednesday he suffered a broken little finger on his left hand from accidentally getting the tip of the finger caught between two chairs. Remlinger was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21.

Remlinger said he was sitting on one of the recliners Sunday when the freak accident occurred.

“The handles on them are wood,” Remlinger explained. “I just kind of turned quickly and didn’t know the other chair was right there.”

Perhaps mindful of the dangers posed by chairs, the Cincinnati Reds have removed two Sharper Image massage chairs, owned by Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr., from the team’s clubhouse. From MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.

On Tuesday, it wasn’t a matter of “who,” but “what,” as manager Dave Miley had the two Sharper Image massage chairs owned by outfielders Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. removed from the clubhouse.

And with the clubhouse still reeling over the loss of popular closer Danny Graves, who was designated for assignment a day earlier, some players saw this move as somewhat comical.

Dunn had grown quite attached to his chair, which he bought last season. It was a popular tool several players used before pregame stretching.

“I don’t know where they’re hiding it,” Dunn said of his chair. “I need it, though. My back hurts. It’s therapeutic. That’s what they’re there for.”

What followed for Dunn was an equally therapeutic lament over the loss of his beloved chair. The big left fielder looked as though he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

“Poor little guy,” he said, looking at the spot where the chair once sat. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t complain. He just came to play every day.”

Apparently Miley wants his players to come to play without any fancy clubhouse accoutrements.

“We’re just changing it up,” Miley said. “Let’s leave it at that.”

Dunn, who hung Graves’ jersey near his locker as an homage to his departed friend, didn’t leave it at that.

“So now we’re going to start winning,” he said. “It was the chair’s fault.”

Zephyrs Vs. Girls Gone Wild

Posted in Baseball at 6:07 pm by

When Reid Ryan purchased the Edmonton Trappers franchise and arranged to move the Astros’ PCL affiliate to Round Rock, TX, it set off a chain reaction which resulted in Houston’s previous Triple A farm club, New Orleans, signing an agreement with the Washington Nationals. The Washington Post’s Thom Loverro on the difering nightlife options compared to Edmonton.

Edmonton’s claim to fame is the West Edmonton Mall. Granted, it’s the largest mall in the world, but it’s still a mall.
New Orleans, meanwhile, boasts the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, voodoo and “Girls Gone Wild” videos. Its economy is driven by gluttony and a few more of the seven deadly sins.
How, then, can the New Orleans Zephyrs behave on Bourbon Street? How can any young, red-blooded American males — ballplayers, no less — keep out of trouble in a town built on temptation?
For the Zephyrs, it has been easy. They keep remembering why they are in New Orleans.
“We’ve had no trouble whatsoever,” Zephyrs manager Tim Foli said. “They understand what they are trying to accomplish. They are trying to get to the major leagues. That is where they want to play, and [they] have to try to do everything they can to get ready for that, so they take care of themselves. A lot of them have families, too. They understand it is a job that can create a lot of benefits for them if they can get to the next level, and that is what they are working on.”
And that’s true from the younger players so close to a shot at the majors to the older ones who want to get back.
“Maybe if it were a lower level, with younger players, it might be a problem,” veteran pitcher Dan Smith said. “But the guys here are mature enough that they are focused on what they are trying to do on the field.”
Adam Wogan, the Nationals’ director of player development, said there were no concerns when the franchise signed a two-year agreement last winter with the Zephyrs.
“Players can get into trouble any place they go,” he said. “We didn’t think it would be a problem. Once they get there and get settled, it’s just another place to live. If anything, it should be a problem for the visiting teams. [The Zephyrs] should have a great home record.”
They don’t, at least not this year. New Orleans is 9-13 in its first 22 games at the “Shrine on Airline,” the local reference to Airline Drive, the street where Zephyr Field is located about eight miles from the French Quarter.

Andelman Returns Fire On Former Employer

Posted in Sports Radio at 5:52 pm by

Make fun of the Hog Dog Safari, and suffer the wrath of WWZN’s zillion year old Eddie Andelman.

LaTroy To Mets Rumor Quashed, Grumpy Glavine Falls To Braves (Again)

Posted in Baseball at 5:23 pm by

Blessed with some grip on reality, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley debunks rumors that the Cubs’ LaTroy Hawkins was bound for Flushing.

There is a slight problem with a New York Post report that the Mets might be interested in a trade for Cubs reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

First, the sides would actually have to have a conversation about it. The Cubs have not been in contact with the Mets about any such trade.

Second, Hawkins has certain teams in his contract as places he wouldn’t go in a trade. Could the Mets be one? That sounds like a good bet.

Hawkins could decide to waive any contract clauses that currently prohibit him from being dealt to certain places. But there is one more obstacle to a deal — and this is a big one.

While the fans may want to run Hawkins out of town, he remains one of the team’s most talented relievers. With Ryan Dempster impressing as the closer, there is every reason to believe Hawkins still can excel as a setup man, the job he should have had all along.

After suffering yet another beating at the hands of his former club, Tom Glavine’s decision to sign with the Mets 3 years ago is reviewed by the New York Times’ Lee Jenkins.

Glavine’s problems with the Braves are as much about karma as they are about pitching. He took $35 million to join the Mets, and the baseball gods are apparently still making him pay for his decision. With his latest loss to Atlanta, by 4-0 Tuesday night, Glavine fell to 1-8 against his former team, even though his earned run average declined to 8.81 from 9.36.

“It was as good a game as I’ve pitched all year long,” Glavine said. “If I pitch like I did tonight, I’ll win this game more than I lose it.”

But he has lost almost every time, letting a blooper here turn into a three-run inning there. In a composite of so many similar outings, Glavine experienced a minor misfortune, then watched it cascade into a major mistake.

The innings in which Glavine allowed runs were revealing because they started the same way. Raul Mondesi dribbled infield singles to third base and Glavine responded by allowing hits to Johnny Estrada. A twist of fate quickly turned into a jam that predictably brought about a loss.

“Sometimes there’s a little bit of luck there,” Glavine said. “But that’s what makes that team who they are and what they are. They find ways to win games like this.”

I’m not sure what role the baseball gods played in matching Glavine against the impressive Tim Hudson, but the former did pitch well enough to win on most other nights.

Diesel Patrols The Chatrooms

Posted in The Internet, The Law at 4:38 pm by

Reader Jim Laasko writes,

For several years now I’ve been working on a screenplay set during the Civil War where Shaq plays an escaped slave who gains the ear of President Lincoln (before ‘Weekend at Bernies’-style hijinks ensue), but this news report might very well make me give up in despair. Movies just can’t compete with reality when it’s this good.

As a sidenote, I’m assuming Shaq’s SuperFriends didn’t include fellow rapletes Tim Teufel or Rick Aguilera

(let’s hope George Foster is familiar with eBay)

I Hate To Say It…

Posted in Fashion at 4:24 pm by

…but that guy from the Witnesses really needs a haircut

There’s Three Kinds Of People On Planet Earth Today..

Posted in Football at 3:15 pm by

1) Guys who cultivate this kind of look.

(hugs for Paolo Maldini after his first half goal put Milan up, 1-0)

2) Those of us who have witnessed Liverpool score 3 goals in 5 minutes to erase a 3-0 AC Milan lead in the Champions League final.

3) Persons who are too busy with their families to worry about all of that trivial shit.

Speaking of trivial, if you’re watching the match on Sky or ITV, you can be very very jealous of lucky Americans like myself. UK viewers aren’t rewarded with ESPN2′s running ticker letting them know, for example, that Victor Zambrano has walked 38 batters in 41 innings.

Crap Band Sues NBC

Posted in Free Expression, Rock Und Roll at 11:19 am by

Going by Motley Crue’s logic, the Bunnybrains oughta sue NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, UPN, HBO, the WB, AFL-CIO, TNA-NWA and anyone else who has failed to provide them with a vehicle to do-their-thing.

Pondering The Rocket’s Frosty Tips

Posted in Baseball, The Mailbag at 10:56 am by

Jeff Johnson of New York City writes,

Do you think that if Houston goes further into the shitter, Clemens will ask to be traded to a contender, even though it means missing Kody, Krazy, Kibbles, Kortney, Kurdt, Kevin, Klem, Klebold, etc? Is his contract so fucking insane that no other team could afford it?

The eldest of his pitching yung’uns graduates from high school any day now. Sure, the contract is insane, but not by Steinbrenner standards. McLane has vowed not to deal Clemens, but that’s not smart —- a pitcher of the Rocket’s stature on a last place team that can’t hit is a foolish luxury. . On the other hand, the Yankees aren’t exactly overflowing with hotshit talent at the farm level.

(Clemens held the Cubs scoreless thru 5 innings last night before departing with a sore groin. The same thing used to happen to Ron Davies while birdwatching on Clapham Common at 3am, except for being holding anyone scoreless).

A trade to Boston might also be a remote possibility. I hear that Clemens wants to stay home on road trips, all games he isn’t pitching and perhaps even the days he starts if they can arrange some kind of military jet to zip him around.

Bucks Are Ping Pong Champs

Posted in Basketball at 1:16 am by

(Larry Harris has found John Starks’ missing ball)

It was 20 years ago that the NBA rigged the draft lottery to ensure that Patrick Ewing would begin his pro career in the glamorous NY market. Last night, history repeated itself as the Milwaukee Bucks won the first pick despite having just the 6th worst record in ’04-05. Milwaukee’s status as the nation’s new cultural and entertainment capitol has already been discussed in this space, and I for one, am tired of the universe revolving around the town.

The New York Times’ Liz Robbins reports that Pistons coach Larry Brown has been talking with the Cavaliers about becoming the club’s next President of basketball operations. Brown, whose wanderlust is hardly a new condition, doesn’t seem to mind adding a distraction or two to the defending champs’ playoff run. Even by Larry’s standards, interviewing for a job with a division rival while the Pistons are battling the Heat for a trip to the finals, is kinda reptilian.

Sunday’s FA Cup Final Is Almost Over

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 12:42 am by

Arsenal 0, Manchester United 0 AET (Arsenal win on penalties, 5-4)

I’m sorry to say that I missed this past Saturday’s F.A. Cup Final, the last one to be played in Cardiff and the first one I’ve not seen in a decade. I was in Los Angeles on business over the weekend and did for a moment consider waking up at 5am and shelling out $20 to watch the match in the company of various ex-pats at a local tavern. After flashing on the possibility, however remote, of running into Steve Jones, I thought better of it and slept until noon.

And who says I can’t write about intense personal stuff?

The Guardian’s Will Buckley caught all the TV and radio action, and he might want to have a lie-in himself next time.

People who claim the build-up to the Cup final is not as extensive as it used to be simply aren’t trying. At 7.30am Brian Alexander was already ensconced in Leigh Delamere service station on the M4 interviewing fans on behalf of Five Live.
From 9am there was two hours of Eamon Holmes on a bus. No more enticing than it sounds, this involved Holmes closing out non-interviews with, ‘Aled, mate, thank you very much for your perspective.’ Holmes signed off with: ‘Let’s forget Malcolm Glazer and let’s concentrate on the football.’ A sentiment that obligated me to concentrate on the protesters.

And the news bulletins were encouraging. At 11am the top news story was: ‘Police have warned Man United fans that they won’t tolerate any kind of demonstration.’ By midday this had changed to the police ‘issuing a stern warning’. At that rate of progress they would be parking their water cannons on the pitch in time for kick-off.

Furthermore, Gordon Farquhar who was on ‘Glazer watch’ promised there would be a demonstration from the Prince of Wales pub at half past two that he imagined would be ‘pretty vivid’. There was encouraging talk of turnstiles being blocked and beach balls being thrown. In the event, it was something of a damp squib, rain dampening any fervour. And confusion being sown by the team and protesters deciding to wear the same outfit. Couldn’t they have rung each other beforehand?

Ah well, there were other consolations, with referee Rob Styles talking to Five Live about his ‘responsibility to the game, to thousands of referees around the country. In a sense I’ll be living out their dream’.

Now I have no certain knowledge what referees dream about, but rudimentary psychology suggests that such authoritarian figures are prone to the odd submissive fantasy. Would Styles do something he might live to regret. Would the game go down in history as ‘The Mysterious Affair of Styles’? Worries were not eased by Styles bragging to Garth Crooks: ‘There are a lot of tools in a referee’s armoury.’ Typically baffled, Crooks responded with a question: ‘Can you legislate for strong tackles?’ Styles replied he couldn’t. No surprises, then, that Styles’ performance had become the talking point. ‘I personally think it will all boil down to the referee,’ said Lee Dixon. ‘It might depend on the referee,’ added Alan Sunderland.

The subsidiary discussion revolved around the likelihood of violence on the pitch, and how much everyone was looking forward to it. There was a loving history of past confrontations and eager anticipation of who might front up to whom. The inevitable celebrities – Shane Ritchie for United, Rory McGrath for Arsenal – suggested neither club has as wide a fan base as they might claim. A welcome flash of humour was provided by live coverage from a sports bar in Tampa where no one was watching.


“Inspiring Kids Everywhere To Look Like Alien Hunks Of Ground Beef”

Posted in Free Expression at 6:27 pm by

The above headline is courtesy of WFMU’s Brian Turner, who sounds the scary alarm on behalf of Richard Sandrak (already noted by Bryce Kreutschmann at WFMU’s Beware of The Blog.)

“seemed very CSTB”, says Brian. Not since Rolling Stone proclaimed CSTB to be the “Hot Sports Website” has any comment caused me to so seriously rethink whether this blog is a good idea.

Big News Day For Stallone

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 1:14 pm by

Breathing search-engine Sam Frank alerts us to a report about Sylvester Stallone’s mooted Edgar Allan Poe bio-pic,as well as allegations that
Rocky was responsible for a smear campaign aimed at action rival Arnold Schwarzenegger.

No updates on Frank Stallone’s musical career, however.

Wright Slides Into Shallow Center, Mientkiewicz Apologizes

Posted in Baseball at 12:42 pm by

An 8th inning throwing error by SS Rafael Furcal that would’ve otherwise tied last night’s Braves/Mets game at 7 (eventually won by Atlanta, 8-6) was waved off, as Mets 3B David Wright was charged with interference while trying to break up a potential double play. From the New York Times’ Lee Jenkins.

“You try to play the game the right way,” Wright said. “I was just trying to break up a double play. I felt it was a good play. Ninety-nine times out of 100, they don’t make that call.”

Afterward, the Mets huddled around a television monitor to review the play and evaluate whether Wright could have reached out and touched the bag, the determining factor on whether he was out of the base line. Randolph, who comes across just as mild-mannered as Wright, was angrier than he has ever been as the Mets’ manager.

“I don’t understand it,” Randolph said. “Obviously, I thought it was an unnecessary call. It was good hardball. I don’t understand the game, I guess. We’re not playing footsie-ball.”

In the Atlanta clubhouse, Furcal told reporters: “I don’t think I could have made the throw to the base with the way he was sliding.” In the umpires’ room, Jeff Nelson said: “Wright intentionally interfered with the second baseman. It’s automatic.”

While Randolph and Wright blamed Nelson, Doug Mientkiewicz blamed himself for grounding into the double play in the first place. Batting .197, Mientkiewicz beckoned a group of reporters to his locker and pleaded with them to blast him in print. “Lay it on me,” Mientkiewicz said. “Call me out. Put me on the front page.”

He added: “It’s tough to look at my teammates anymore. I’m embarrassing everybody. I apologize to every Met fan in America. There’s no excuse for this.”

Mientkiewicz said that he had not slept in a week, had not eaten in two days, and he offered to refund the price of admission to one fan who had jeered him during the game. When he finished lambasting himself, he said, “This was therapeutic.”

Much as I love to see the Mets continue to try and take out the opposition’s middle infielders (Mike Cameron successfully broke up a DP earlier in the game), the replay doesn’t lie. Wright went far out of his way to interfere with Furcal. He’s correct in saying that inteference is rarely called in such instances, but it is equally rare that a baserunner is closer to the warning track than 2nd base.

Mientkiewicz’ apology is accepted by this Mets fan, though I’d like to know when he’s gonna take responsibility for Kaz Ishii’s control problems.

Stephen A. Hands Dagger Back To A.I.

Posted in Basketball at 12:21 pm by

Just in case you were wondering, it wasn’t the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen A. Smith who conspired to run Jim O’Brien out of town. It was Allen Iverson. Just ask Stephen A.

It’s hard to believe that O’Brien got fired after just one season, a 43-39 record, a 10-game improvement from the previous year, and a trip to the postseason.

O’Brien was fired yesterday, in part because of his coaching ability, but mainly because of his attitude. Check with the Sixers’ inner circle and you’ll get nothing but denials.

Especially from the mercurial star who averaged a league-leading 30.7 points per game and finished with first-team all-NBA honors.

The same player who took the court during the playoffs in Detroit infuriated because O’Brien would not allow his pregnant wife and three children to fly on the team’s chartered plane.

Iverson never liked O’Brien so much as he tolerated him. He never believed O’Brien was the coach who would maximize the potential of Samuel Dalembert, Willie Green, or anyone else who thought to dribble before shooting.

But at this moment, with Iverson “not young anymore,” as he has said on many occasions this year, the pressure falls squarely on him to produce and to not see a sixth coach depart under his watch.

Johnny Davis was a first-year coach tagged with low expectations, but it still counted as a departure. Larry Brown took six years to exit, leaving behind the impression that he couldn’t coach Iverson any longer.

Then there was Randy Ayers (someone Cheeks covets as his top assistant), dismissed after only 52 games on the job. Interim coach and noted disciplinarian Chris Ford followed and took about two hours to sever any relationship with Iverson.

Now O’Brien is the latest sacrificial lamb, the one presumably incapable of meshing athletic youth and experience with the three-time scoring champion.

It is possible that Iverson had very little to do with this. He did just finish following up the regular season with averages of 31.2 points and 10 assists on 46.8 percent shooting in the playoffs.

This may be about the development of Green, keeping Dalembert in town, and appeasing a one-legged Chris Webber, who’s probably not going anywhere with three years and $62 million remaining on his contract.

But when you’ve spent years harping about how you’ve never been treated like “the franchise player,” and when three coaches are gone in two seasons and the new one is someone you have admired for years, had a relationship with and clearly covet, it comes down to you.

Many of Smith’s prior complaints about O’Brien are echoed, crazily enough, by the New York Post’s Peter Vescey.

Since the end of the 43-39 season, in which the Sixers were eliminated in five games by the Pistons, rising free agents Samuel Dalembert and Willie Green let it be known they weren’t coming back under the same coach.

This was after O’Brien stubbornly refused to adjust to his original players, particularly to the two above youngsters, preferring to adhere to his system instead. Kenny Thomas, Brian Skinner and Corliss Williamson, misfits in that system, felt like they’d been pardoned from prison when they were traded to the Kings for Chris Webber.

Meanwhile, it took weeks for O’Brien begrudgingly to modify his offense and defense to accommodate Webber’s passing skills somewhat, as well as camouflage his lack of mobility due to offseason knee surgery.

Basically, it took O’Brien far less than a season to alienate almost everyone worthwhile, especially Allen Iverson, Webber and chairman Ed Snider.

Cheeks isn’t the perfect replacement, by any stretch. Nobody within the Blazers’ organization would give him their blessing. His sideline methodology is suspect and he failed to correct numerous disciplinary problems until they were too far gone to alleviate them. Nevertheless, the Sixers’ former point god is beloved in Philly, by none more than Iverson who turned to him early and often for advice and comfort when Cheeks assisted Larry Brown.

Schilling On La Russa, Renteria

Posted in Baseball at 11:31 am by

There’s no danger of Curt Schilling’s mouth being disabled. The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reports on Schilling’s most recent visit to WEEI.

Schilling believes much of the current wave of negativity surrounding Renteria stems from comments made on WEEI last week by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. During a visit to Boston, the Cardinals skipper said his former shortstop was a “sensitive and shy guy . . . you know Boston. There’s a lot of expectation here. The fans are very passionate and they’re not going to be as forgiving as they were in St. Louis. So we’re concerned that if he doesn’t really play to their expectations, and they start hootin’ on him . . . it will not help Edgar Renteria. . . . He’s a very good player and I think it’s gonna be hard for him to hide here.”

Schilling wasn’t shy, referring to those remarks as “absolutely, totally inappropriate.”

“I love Tony La Russa,” Schilling said. “I just thought he put Edgar in a very bad situation, especially for a player he talks about and cares about so much. I thought he stuck him in a corner there.”

Schilling has a point. Whether or not it was intentional, whether or not La Russa was acting as a jilted manager, that’s exactly what happened. He exposed Renteria.

`He’s struggling, there’s no question,” Schilling said of Renteria. “Now all eyes are on him every at-bat, every pitch. Everybody has an answer. Everybody has a solution. Unfortunately, none of those are going to work until Edgar gets over the hump himself. He knows that. We know that, and we’re all OK with that. The great thing about this is, (GM) Theo (Epstein) has built a team to overcome having 1-2-3-4-5 guys who are hurt, or not meeting expectations. And we’ve done that.”

High Anxiety With Bob Wickman

Posted in Baseball at 11:17 am by

While the Reds have turned to David Weathers as their closer (good luck) following the release of Danny Graves, the Akron Beacon Journal’s Terry Pluto reports on success the Indians have found with another journeyman reliever turned closer, Bob Wickman.

The Indians’ closer looks like a man under the lights in a police interrogation room. He grimaces. He squints. He takes deep breaths.

None of it inspires much confidence, other than the facts.

Somehow, someway, Wickman (above) usually gets them out.

There usually are runners on base, the Indians one pitch away from a win or loss in Wickman’s world, which is a baseball high-wire act without a net.

He did it again Monday against the Minnesota Twins at Jacobs Field.

He came into the game with the Tribe in front, 2-1, and promptly struck out power-hitting Justin Morneau.

The 13,257 fans took a deep breath. Maybe this will be 1-2-3. No runs, no drama, no reason to panic.

Then he served up a double to right field, banged off the wall by Torii Hunter, about two feet from being a home run.

So much for an easy ninth inning.

He retired Jacque Jones on a ground ball that sent Hunter to third base.

The score was still 2-1. The tying run was only 90 feet from home plate. Some fans were screaming. Some were standing and stomping. Some were closing their eyes and praying.

Nearly all of them were thinking, “Does it have to be like this every game?”

Then Wickman walked Lew Ford, who promptly stole second base.

There were runners on second and third, the Indians one single away from falling behind.

Wickman stood behind the mound, sweat pouring off his bald head, rubbing up the baseball hard enough to squeeze it into a marble.

Finally, he was back on the mound, and he induced Michael Cuddyer to ground out to Jhonny Peralta at shortstop.

Game over.

Indians win, 2-1.

Give him a scare and a save.

Wickman is now 13-of-15 in saves, including his past nine in a row. We don’t know how many ulcers he has caused for the fans.

We just know that since Wickman returned from arm problems in the middle of last season, the Indians went from one of baseball’s worst bullpens to one of the best.

Consider that saving 80 percent of games is considered to be very good.

Consider that Wickman is 26-of-29 in the past two seasons, and nearly 90 percent (92-of-103) since coming to the Indians in 2000.

Consider that this is the year closers are collapsing under the pressure, the latest being Danny Graves who was cut Monday by the Cincinnati Reds.

Somehow, Wickman has survived.

“I’m not afraid to put runners on base, if I have to,” he said. “I don’t have good enough stuff to just blow away hitters. I have to pick away.”

It’s a John Franco Kinda World when closers openly admit to having to face 6 or more batters to get 3 outs.

871 Major League Home Runs On The Bench

Posted in Baseball at 12:09 am by

A battle of two of the ’90′s most feared slugging icons failed to materialize Monday morning, as both Frank Thomas and Juan Gonzalez sat out the Charlotte Knights/Buffalo Bisons 10:30 am unemployed-persons special.

When was the last time you saw a minor league game where both teams featured a player, rehabbing or otherwise, with such impressive resumes?

In other Triple A news, Round Rock’s Dave Burba hit the first triple of his 15 year professional career during Sunday’s 14-6 defeat of Tucson. Temperatures hit 97 in Arizona that evening, so I’ll presume that Burba declined a jacket while standing at 3rd.


Mariotti On The Old ‘Fair Or Foul?’ Trick

Posted in Baseball at 7:53 pm by

Recapping the weekend’s Cubs/White Sox series, The Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti mentions a case of dubious gamesmanship from Sunday afternoon.

Sox shortstop Juan Uribe embarrassing Derrek Lee in the first by yelling ”foul ball” as Lee rounded second base — when, in truth, Jeromy Burnitz’s liner was caroming around the right-field corner like a pinball. Lee, who should know better than to fall for such chirpy nonsense, might have scored on the play if he hadn’t stopped briefly at second before scrambling to third.

”We’re not taught to play that way,” Baker grumbled. ”You don’t tell a guy, ‘Foul ball, foul ball.’ He actually stood in front of the base and told Lee, ‘Foul ball.’ That’s not proper etiquette, if there is such a thing.”

I wonder where paying attention to the third base coach instead of the advice of an opposing fielder fits in Dusty’s etiquette handbook?

Offhand Aphorisms, My Ass

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 7:21 pm by

As subtle as an Articles Of Faith box set, as musically inventive as the Iron City Houserockers, there’s a certain lowering-the-bar-band that continues to find favor with persons who get lost on the way to Geniusville and are tired enough to stop at Hack City for the night. Sadly, the New York Times’ Jon Pareless, in this instance, reveals himself to be one such traveller.

In songs with titles like “Crucifixion Cruise” and “How a Resurrection Really Feels,” they’re looking for redemption when they’re not looking for thrills. These are songs full of offhand aphorisms, and they can grab you from the first line, like the one that starts “Multitude of Casualties”: “She drove it like she stole it.”

Wow. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to hear a line like that set to music?

(The Iron City Houserockers, so heartened by the gratuitous mention in CSTB that they’re preparing to take on John Cafferty and Beaver Brown in a knife fight)

O’Brien Fired By Philly, Mo Rides To Rescue

Posted in Basketball at 5:09 pm by

Pilloried by none other than Stephen A. Smith for his alleged lack of social graces, Jim O’Brien was fired as head coach of the Philadelphia 76′ers today after just one season in charge.

Maurice Cheeks, a standout Sixers guard for 11 years, is the new Philly coach. Cheeks is the 4th Sixers coach since 2003 and will presumably have an easier time with players and management following his shoddy treatment in Portland.

Danny Graves’ Career Burial

Posted in Baseball at 5:03 pm by

Maura Johnston writes :

The Reds just designated danny graves for assignment. from the release:
Graves, 31, this season for the Reds went 1-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 10 saves in 20 relief appearances. He posted an ERA of 11.00 in 10 appearances in May, including a 30.38 ERA in his last 3 games.

I can’t help but wonder if this hastened his exit, too:

Reds reliever Danny Graves made an obscene gesture toward fans after being shelled and booed off the field in the Reds’ 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians Sunday, News 5′s George Vogel reported.

Graves (above) yelled at a fan and flipped the finger toward the scouts’ seats behind home plate after giving up five runs in the ninth inning.

Graves, who complained two weeks ago about home fans booing the Reds, told the Associated Press about Sunday’s incident: “I don’t know what he said. It’s not an issue. If they want to cuss at me, fine. One thing I said two weeks ago got blown out of proportion, and now it’s way out of proportion.”

Knicks’ Coaching Hunt, Continued

Posted in Basketball at 2:22 pm by

With Nate McMillan likely to stay in Seattle, rumors of Bill Laimbeer chatting with Isiah Thomas have been confirmed and denied to varying degrees. Almost as migrane-inducing as the prospect of Laimbeer coaching the Knicks is the news that Scottie Pippen is looking for an assistant gig.

Reyes, Wright Kick It Around

Posted in Baseball at 11:30 am by

To state the obvious (and slightly positive) at the onset, this year’s Mets are a superior defensive team to last year’s by a considerable margin. Then again, so are most Division 1 college squads. Kaz Matsui and Mike Piazza’s dificulties in the field have been documented, and yesterday’s miscues by David Wright and Jose Reyes likely cost the Mets their chance to take two of three from an equally flawed Yankees.

Mike DeJean continues to perform like a righty version of the aging John Franco ; 20 hits and 14 walks allowed in 16 innings pitched, opponents are hitting .313 against the reliever. I can understand why Willie Randolph doesn’t want Mr. Koo pitching to a right-hander, just as keeping Pedro to some semblance of a pitch count makes sense. But I’m baffled as to why there aren’t any alternatives to DeJean. Chuck Meehan has already warned of Roberto Hernandez hitting the wall, and here’s hoping said edifice isn’t on the horizon by mid-June.

Back to reality though, the Mets are 17-3 after leading through 7 innings, a record that compares pretty well to other clubs we’d consider to be contenders (hello, Keith Foulke and Danny Kolb). That 2 of those 3 late inning collapses cost Pedro Martinez a win and came in games with high visibility (opening day against Cincy, rubber match of the Subway Series) makes things seem a little worse than they actually are.

Last night’s “Centerstage” interview of George Steinbrenner by Michael Kay was as dull and smoochy as promised, though the clip of the Boss reducing Phil Hartman to a straight man on SNL was classic.