Vescey On A Friday Morning

Posted in Basketball at 11:27 am by

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.

Check Your Head

Posted in Baseball at 11:21 am by

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.

Mets Tee Off On Retread Castillo, Vultures Circling Over Piazza

Posted in Baseball at 3:43 am by

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.


It Wasn’t Quite Bonds Vs. Kent…

Posted in Baseball at 8:47 pm by

(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.).

Nats Go Transaction Crazy

Posted in Baseball at 7:35 pm by

New Orleans starter Sun-Woo Kim was called up to DC and lefty reliever C.J. Nitkowski (above), just released by the Pirates, was signed by the Nationals today, both part of 9 players worth of roster moves in the wake of Washington being swept by the Reds.

No word yet on whether or not massage chairs have been banned from the RFK clubhouse, though with 16 players currently on the DL, maybe the Nationals might need to exchange trade one for an extra whirpool.

Jeter Kills Cano

Posted in Baseball at 5:54 pm by

In lieu of flowers, Michael Kay requests that we make checks payable to “cash”.

Musical Massacre For Famine Relief

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 5:48 pm by

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?)

Nomo Not Quite Finished

Posted in Baseball at 5:23 pm by

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.

Burt Delivers Love Tap

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 3:30 pm by

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.

Foulke Claims ‘Bama Trip Was All About The Barbecue

Posted in Baseball at 11:53 am by

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.”