God Just Wants To Know When Foulke Is Coming Back

Posted in Baseball, Religion at 5:55 pm by

Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy once described golf and God as the biggest distractions faced by his players. Lord knows what he’d make of the pregame prayer sessions undertaken by several devout members of the Boston Red Sox. From the Globe’s Bob Hohler (thanks to Mac for the link) :

Trot Nixon, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Curt Schilling, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Matt Clement, John Olerud, Mike Myers, Tony Graffanino, Chad Bradford: Each Sox player considers himself an evangelical Christian who believes in the sacred authority of the Bible and the promise of Jesus Christ as his savior.

”In terms of coming to Bible study and chapel, this team has more guys involved than any team I’ve ever been with,” said Olerud, who has played for five teams over 17 seasons in the majors.

The evangelical Sox believe in sharing the ”good news” of their faith, as they demonstrated after their remarkable comeback last October when they climbed out of a three-game chasm against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series and swept the Cardinals in the World Series.

”I wanted to be able to glorify God’s name when all was said and done,” Schilling proclaimed after he won Game 2 of the World Series while bleeding through his sock because of an experimental medical procedure that enabled him to pitch with a dislocated ankle tendon.

Win or lose, Schilling and his fellow evangelicals said, the message remains the same.

”This is our platform, our place to speak our faith and live our faith,” Timlin said. ”This is a special gift from God, to play baseball, and if we can spread God’s word by doing that, then we’ve almost fulfilled our calling.”

Schilling and Timlin share a corner of the Sox clubhouse with Varitek, Wakefield, Mirabelli, and Bradford. Most of the other evangelical Christians occupy lockers across the room in a row with players who do not attend chapel. And the players who are not evangelicals have praised those who are for their inclusive influence.

”Everyone is very respectful of one another and what they choose to believe in,” said Gabe Kapler, who is Jewish. ”The guys in this clubhouse live in harmony when it comes to that kind of stuff.”

Nixon suggested it would be sinful for Christians to do otherwise.

”It would be terrible for me or anyone else to look down on someone who may not come to chapel or Bible study,” he said. ”We love and care about everyone a great deal.”

The Sox evangelicals said they often have been asked if they believe God wanted them to win the World Series rather than the Yankees or the Cardinals.

”I don’t know what he thinks,” Myers said. ”If I knew that, I’d be God.

Regardless of when they discovered their faith, the Sox evangelicals have converged at a unique time in franchise history. Nixon said the organization’s religious tolerance has dramatically improved under the new ownership. Under the previous regime, Day was not allowed in the clubhouse, as he has been since former manager Grady Little helped clear the way after the team changed hands in 2002. Day’s access to the clubhouse has increased his opportunity to meet with players. Previously, chapel was held outside the clubhouse, as it continues to be.

”That has made a huge difference,” Nixon said. ”The organization has become more receptive to our faith.”

Unavailable for comment : Derek Lowe.

Say What You Will About His Music…

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 5:21 pm by

….but Jimmy Gestapo has aged pretty well.

Going Radio Ga-Ga With Bob Wickman

Posted in Baseball at 1:49 pm by

I read an interview in which Nurse With Wound’s Steve Stapleton (above) claimed to pay no attention to any reviews of his work, be they print, internet, etc. Perhaps Stapleton has a valuable life lesson to teach Indians reliever Bob Wickman, who in the words of reader Mike Jordan, will be thinking about sports talk radio when he signs his next contract.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Burt Graeff : (thanks to Mike for the link)

“I hear a lot of what it said about me on those shows,” said Wickman, who leads the American League with 35 saves, “and it really ticks me off.

“Guys who call and blast me will have an effect on whether I want to come back here next season. My kids hear this stuff and it makes me mad.”

Not to get all Phil Mushnick on you or anything, but what kind of parent allows their children to listen to sports talk radio? (Alex Reimer, please put your hand down).

Yao Signs Max Extension

Posted in Basketball at 1:33 pm by

C Yao Ming has re-upped with the Rockets for another 5 years. ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher is amused that Yao didn’t have the entire league jumping through flaming hoops over the summer.

Didn’t he read the manual? Doesn’t he know this was his chance to hold the franchise hostage and make sure everyone in Dubya’s stomping grounds danced to Yao’s xiao*? To induce GMs around the league to prostrate themselves before his size 18s and shower him with gifts and expound on how magnificent he would look in their uniforms? (Heck, even Tim Duncan went the sampler route.)

To inspire media and fans to speculate and chatter and raise a general ruckus about where he should go and why? (Several sources say Lakers rising exec Jim Buss — son of owner Dr. Jerry Buss — thought he could lure Yao to L.A. but is now targeting LeBron James.)

Yao could’ve been the center of attention for at least a month, if not an entire year, had he played out his option — and, instead, he does this. Quietly negotiates a max extension. Quietly arranges to call from China to make the announcement. Quietly hitches his wagon to a franchise and a market that, quite frankly, are not big enough to fully exploit his worldwide drawing power.

Here’s how it’s done: Keep a checklist of grievances and see this as the perfect time for full-bore payback. Poke fun at those who tagged him a bust before his first NBA game. Steal the spotlight from those who insinuated his All-Star starts are bogus because he comes from a country of 1.3 billion people. (As if that’s something he should be sorry for, especially considering a billion are not believed to have Internet access.) Drop hints about how honored he’d be to follow in the purple-and-gold pivots of Kareem, Wilt and Shaq. That might’ve even induced Phil Jackson to say how much better suited Yao is than the Diesel for the triangle offense. Or how much New York reminds him of his native Shanghai. Or how he might just have to leave the league entirely if the referees don’t start cutting him a little more slack.

Dilbeck : Dump Bradley

Posted in Baseball at 1:05 pm by

So much for due process. Though the Dodger outfielder faces no criminal charges at the moment, the LA Daily News’ Steve Dilbeck says enough is enough.

It is time for the Dodgers to make a stand and cut Milton Bradley.

Time to make it known they will no longer tolerate his unpredictable behavior. To make a statement that their recently proclaimed fondness for character is not just lip service. To admit to a mistake and move past it.

There should be no hiding behind a too-convenient knee injury. No vague comments of support. No condoning Bradley’s failings by not speaking and acting against them.

Bradley’s unpredictability as a player never translated off the field. He seemed the emotional man-child, earnest and so immensely likeable one moment, outrageous or enraged the next.

Now comes a report from the Daily Breeze that Bradley’s anger issues exceed throwing a plastic bottle at the foot of a fan at Dodger Stadium or calling a black reporter an Uncle Tom during the postseason.

Three times this summer police have responded to domestic-violence calls at his Redondo Beach home, the newspaper reported, including one where he allegedly choked his pregnant wife, bloodied her lip and threw a cell phone against the wall.

No charges were filed against Bradley or his wife, but the police report is unnerving, particularly in light of his past public battles with anger.

At the beginning of the season, when he seemed on the right track, you pulled for Bradley, hoped he could overcome his anger issue and find happiness on his home team, but it proved too foreign.

Bradley clearly has bigger concerns than his knee to overcome. The Dodgers have been more than patient. Now they clearly need to be decisive.

The Fiver Celebrates Newcastle’s Signing Of Michael Owen

Posted in Football at 12:04 pm by

From the Guardian’s Barry Glendenning and Sean Ingle :

Upon hearing that 20,000 Geordies had assembled inside St James’s Park today, the Fiver assumed it was a typically over-the-top send-off for Jermaine Jenas, who’d just agreed to a £7m move to Spurs. The truth turned out to be even more disturbing: the gullible hordes had come to welcome an England striker who only signed for them as a last resort. Even more worrying was the sight of Sky Sports News presenter Jim White abandoning any semblance of journalistic impartiality as he whipped the aforementioned mob into a waheying frenzy in his role as cheerleading MC for the latest gag-packed extravaganza at Newcastle United Comedy Club.

“You’ve done so much in football but this must be one of your proudest moments,” simpered Jim to Magpies boss Graeme Souness, whose numerous high-profile trophy wins as a player and manager (of other teams) clearly pale into insignificance compared to securing a Real Madrid reject nobody else wanted on a four-year deal. “We’ve really done the business today,” agreed Souey, adopting a turn of phrase not heard around St James’s Park for several months. “He was my first choice, we’ve got him and the supporters will love him. He’s an honest up-front guy as well as a top-class footballer.”

And as hordes of in-no-way-fickle Newcastle fans chanted the name of a manager they wanted sacked as recently as last Sunday, the object of their affections was quick to pay homage to the man who really runs first-team affairs. “Alan [Shearer] reminded Michael he had this same decision a decade ago when he left Blackburn and could have gone to Manchester United. He chose Newcastle and look what it’s done for him,” insisted Souness, presumably alluding to the extra low premiums Shearer pays on insuring the contents of his trophy cabinet.

As expected, midfielder Jermaine Jenas has moved to Tottenham as the transfer deadline hits. QPR can take considerable solace the morning after being trounced by Wolves in their acquisitions of West Ham midfielder Steve Lomas and one-time R’s fixture Richard Langley (above), the latter returning to Loftus Road after a spell at Cardiff City.

World Oldest Person, Dead At 115

Posted in Medical Science at 10:55 am by

From Reuters :

A Dutchwoman, the world’s oldest person on record who swore by a daily helping of herring for a healthy life, died on Tuesday aged 115.

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, a former needlework teacher born on June 29, 1890, died in her sleep at a nursing home in the northern Dutch town of Hoogeveen.

“In the last few weeks she became weaker but she was bright up until her last. She was ready to say goodbye,” Johan Beijering, director of the Westerkim nursing home, told Reuters.

“She thought it was great she was the world’s oldest given that she weighed only three pounds when she was born. She was an optimistic woman.”

With the passing of Andel-Schipper, the World’s Second and Third Eldest Persons each move up one spot on the charts.

Heyman : Mets Fans “Abysmal”

Posted in Baseball at 9:52 am by

Newsday’s Jon Heyman bravely directs his sights towards those Mets fans who aren’t packing Shea Stadium…neglecting to mention, of course, how many major league ballgames he’s paid his own money to see recently.

This is a contending Mets team, one that has as good a chance as anyone of winning the National League wild card.

Ya Gotta Believe, no?

Maybe if the team makes the playoffs, it will sell out then.

Maybe not.

The only games that fill Shea Stadium lately are the ones that guarantee the merengue, the Latin appreciation nights. How about some plain ol’ baseball appreciation nights? Maybe the better business model is to 86 the baseball and salsa their way through September.

If something doesn’t change, the Mets’ September will be filled with meaningful yet rarely seen games.

They returned from a hugely successful 5-2 trip, after finally proving they can win away from Shea and put a nice streak together, to face the wild-card-leading Phillies and a too-empty house. I wonder which was more demoralizing, the unoccupied seats or the first-inning home runs by Phillies Kenny Lofton and Pat Burrell.

No matter, the Mets bounced back from both, erasing a 4-1 deficit to win, 6-4.

“I think they’re missing something if they don’t come. This is a very exciting team they should be proud to come see,” manager Willie Randolph said. “I don’t know who’s here and who isn’t, as long as there’s a few.”

The players’ performance was typically enthralling last night. The fans’ performance was abysmal. The announced crowd was 36,505. That’s 20,864 less than it should have been.

“The weather didn’t help us tonight. I would be more upset if the weather was perfect,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. “The weather’s been threatening all day. There’s a hurricane out there.”

Wilpon was talking 15 minutes before game time, and Shea was mostly empty. There were a decent number of late arrivers. Yet, even after everyone filed in, the green mezzanine section was nearly half empty and the red upper-deck section was half empty.

This team isn’t a mirage. The fans need to stop treating it like one. This team deserves your attention, your patronage, your respect.

Sure, Mets fans are skeptical after enduring the Mo Vaughn Era, which partly coincided with the Art Howe Error. That’s understandable.

But 130 games have been played. It’s time, Mets fans.

It’s time to forget the past, to embrace the present, and to realize the Mets are worth your time.

Mike Cameron made it to the ballpark yesterday. If Cameron, who broke his face diving and colliding for a liner, can make it to Shea, you can make it, too.

George Will made it to the park, and he brought family members. Davey Johnson made it to the ballpark to promote the Viagra Comeback Player of the Year award. What, you were expecting Rafael Palmeiro?

Much as I appreciate Heyman’s acknowledging that the Mets are a legit contender, this is much ado about zilch. Mike Cameron, George Will and Davey Johnson have far nicer walk-up seating options than the average Mets fan. OK, maybe not Davey, but you get the idea. Heyman wonders why the Cyclones can sell out but not the Mets, yet the capacity and ambience of the respective ballparks answer that question for him, if not the ticket prices. And 36K on a Tuesday isn’t that embarasing. Were the Mets to sell that many tickets every game, their annual attendence would be just shy of 3 million. Not the rarified air of the Yankees, but a more than acceptable sum for a club that hasn’t won anything in 5 years.

Either The Mets Just Came Back To Beat The Phillies…

Posted in Baseball at 9:33 am by

….or King’s X tickets have gone on sale. Writes David Roth,

Not that we’re terribly likely to be seeing him again this year, but here’s a Piazza photo to keep handy in case you need it. Like in case he embarrasses himself at a Soulfly concert or something.

As for last night: awesome, an absolute me-high-fiving-my-girlfriend Mets moment. I think you’re right on in your post, but while it’s hard to imagine Castro staying on this sort of pace, a month-long emergence of just one bottom of the order hitter — Jacobs may not be it, but Castro or Diaz could easily be, and my dark-horse is Matsui (admittedly a very, very dark horse) — changes the whole equation. Good times, for the time being.

Thanks, David. Though for the record, it should be stressed that Milton Bradley says he was just high-fiving his wife, too.

Ramon Beats On Ugie The Brat, Mets Inch Closer To W.C. Lead

Posted in Baseball at 12:44 am by

(Mike Cameron, recovering from the laundry list of injuries suffered in his face to face collision with Carlos Beltran last month in San Diego, congratulates Ramon Castro)

At yesterday’s close of play there were 4 National League clubs with a total of 62 losses, each flawed in one way or another. Of those playoff hopefuls, the New York Mets’ resilience since the loss of their everyday right-fielder and catcher has been astonishing. Ramon Castro provided the heroics Tuesday night, hitting a 3 run HR off Philly’s Ugueth Urbina, to give New York a 6-4 win at Shea. Jae Seo, who came back to earth slightly sooner than Shawn Chacon, allowed first inning HR’s to Kenny Lofton and Met-killer Pat Burrell, but Carlos Beltran (described by Keith Hernandez as “tentative” early in the broadcast) would reply with a first inning solo HR, a subsequent RBI single and a crucial outfield assist, gunning down Lofton trying to score in the visitors’ 5th.

Of the clubs contending for the NL Wild Card, Houston have the easiest remaining schedule….and it is very hard to imagine the Mets continuing to get as much mileage from the bottom half of their batting order as they have during their recent surge. But not nearly as hard to envision, however, Beltran, Cliff Floyd and David Wright fashioning a deadly 3-4-5 combination over the season’s final month.

Apparently, it would take more than leaving Chicago for Joe Borowski to morph into Mariano Rivera. More than a dye job for Curt Schilling to morph into Curt Schilling, too.