08.28.05

Tribune Scribe Can’t Guzzle A Gallon

Posted in Food at 2:20 pm by

On the bright side, at least he doesn’t have to hang out with Brad Penny.

Pretentious Crusader In Funny Gag Shocker

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 2:15 pm by

In addition to dumping all over John Sterling in this morning’s New York Post (as thought there’s anything revelatory about Mr. High-Far-Gone being a supercilious pain in the groin), Phil Mushnick actually tells a joke.

And just as soon as the NHL figures out what its new national TV deal is all about, it’ll get back to us. Meanwhile, the Outdoor Life Network is discussing partial ownership with the company that owns Outback Steakhouse. If the deal gets done, the network’s name will become the Outhouse Channel.

Foulke’s Lowell Rehab

Posted in Baseball at 1:52 pm by

On the same night Bronson Arroyo and Jon Pabelbon were doing their best to make raise Detroit’s collective batting average, injured Boston closer/bbq enthusiast Keith Foulke was working his way back to the parent club with a stint in the birthplace of Jack Kerouac. From the Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan :

Keith Foulke quietly began a minor league rehabilitation assignment last night with the Lowell Spinners that the Red Sox hope will propel him back to active duty for the pennant stretch.

The closer, who hasn’t pitched for the Sox since July 4, worked 1 2/3 innings against Tri-City at LeLacheur Park and allowed an unearned run on three hits, while striking out one batter. Foulke is scheduled to pitch one inning today for the Spinners and at least one more Tuesday before his status is re-evaluated.

Foulke displayed great arm strength during recent workouts, which is why the Sox felt confident enough to schedule him for back-to-back relief outings for the Spinners. Francona said Foulke will be asked for an honest assessment of his work, which will determine whether or not he remains in the minors for more work or is activated from the DL.

With steroid-free David Wells on the mound, Boston are leading Detroit 3-1 after two innings this afternoon. Longtime radio/TV voice of the Red Sox, Curt Gowdy (WHDH, 1951-1965) was honored in a pregame ceremony. In an unrelated note, Bob Montgomery was seen purchasing a pack of Certs from an area Store 24 earlier in the day.

Fowl Bawl : McKeon Lambastes The Chicken

Posted in Baseball at 11:21 am by


(as an in-studio guest of WFMU’s Tom Scharpling, the Chicken takes calls from listeners eager to debate the Burger King/Slipknot dispute).

A more predictable manager might have used his precious time with the news media to discuss his team’s Wild Card chances, or perhaps obbied for the Cy Young candidacy of his electrifying young right-hander, Dontrelle Willisl. Marlins skipper Jack McKeon, however, spoke to the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi about The Famous Chicken.

“I didn’t think he was very funny,” McKeon said as he sat with reporters in his office, smoke rising from a stogie. “His act is fine, but don’t think you’re bigger than us.”

McKeon, 74, is no curmudgeon when it comes to mascots. After all, he says he’s a fan of Billy the Marlin. “He doesn’t bother nobody,” McKeon said.

But the Chicken? He mimicked Rose’s headfirst dive, engulfed kids’ heads in his beak and lifted his leg near the umpires, mimicking a dog at a fire hydrant.

“Fans liked him,” McKeon said, choosing his words carefully. “Ah, the Chicken is all right. Do your act, and get the hell off the field.”

Jack, we get the feeling there’s more to the story.

He recalled a game in 1985 when the Chicken went too far. A St. Louis pitcher took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The game was interrupted so the Chicken could ride a horse in the outfield.

The horse stopped to do his business, and when it finished, the Chicken had a tough time getting the beast off the field. Then the grounds crew needed time to clean the turf. When the game resumed, it didn’t take long for the Padres to break up the no-hitter.

The Chicken “was out riding a damn horse in left field, then he can’t get him off the field,” McKeon said. “Go out and do your thing, but don’t interfere with the game.”

The Chicken arrived in 1974. Five years later, he was famously hatched out of a 10-foot wide Styrofoam egg at a 1979 game while the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey played.

In 1984, the Padres went to the World Series with a roster McKeon helped build. But one season-ticket package featured games at which the Chicken would appear.

“We win the pennant and they want to make the Chicken bigger than the team,” he said. “Marketing people thought he was the reason we were putting people in the ballpark. Once you see him 10 or 12 times, come on.”

Part of the Chicken’s shtick was to perform skits with players.

“I wouldn’t let my players participate in that bull,” McKeon said. “They’re trying to get your guys in the bullpen… playing guitars on broomsticks.”

Cubs Craving Leadoff Solution in 2006

Posted in Baseball at 3:31 am by

From the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan :

Jerry Hairston was back in the leadoff spot Saturday following the trade of Matt Lawton to the Yankees, leaving the Cubs right back where they started.

The Cubs have used Hairston, Corey Patterson, Neifi Perez and Lawton as leadoff men in 2005 but continue to struggle in that area. Manager Dusty Baker said the Cubs will “mix and match and do what we can” to fill the position the rest of the season.

The Cubs are expected to pursue Rafael Furcal, Atlanta’s free-agent shortstop, who is 27 years old and will command a three- or four-year deal for around $8 million per season. Despite a slow start in ’05, Furcal has a .339 on-base percentage leading off, with 38 steals. He’s also fifth in the NL in fielding percentage and has great range at shortstop. Furcal’s agent is Paul Kinzer, who has a good relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

Hendry said Saturday that the “only viable” leadoff man in the system is center fielder Felix Pie (above), who will wind up missing the final 21/2 months with Double-A West Tenn with a severe ankle injury. Pie will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic and is expected to compete for a roster spot next spring, but the Cubs can’t count on him being the leadoff man.

Mets Streak Halted, Piazza Finished?

Posted in Baseball at 3:17 am by

While there’s no shame in the Mets coming out on the short end of yesterday’s Tom Glavine/Jason Schmidt duel, it’s sobering to note that in the same week New York scored 32 runs in two games against Arizona, they’ve also been limited to just 2 runs in their past 18 innings, 5 in their past 27.

The 6 (or is it 5?) man rotation has worked out nicely this week, Steve Trachsel’s astonishing showing on Friday night ranking amongst his finest hours. But David Wright (shown above after taking a called third strike against Armando Benitez in the 9th inning) aside, the heart of the Mets batting order is far too quiet…and it might be time to consider flipping Wright and Beltran, or perhaps moving the latter to the 2 spot.

Making little progress in his rehabilitation efforts, Mike Piazza’s Mets tenure might’ve already ended writes Newsday’s David Lennon :

Earlier this week, Piazza was optimistic about returning as soon as he was eligible to come off the disabled list, which is Friday. But after seeing a physical therapist in the Bay Area yesterday, Piazza discovered that not only is the small pisiform bone at the base of his thumb broken, but the ligaments in his left wrist and forearm have been affected.

“It’s not feeling any worse, but it’s not feeling better,” said Piazza, who will seek a second opinion tomorrow in New York. “It’s just not responding the way I’d hoped.”

Piazza practiced throwing to second base before Thursday’s game in Arizona, but he became discouraged when he had trouble handling pitches from Mets catching instructor Tom Nieto. With his wrist still hurting, Piazza couldn’t turn his glove, and if he can’t corral 40-mph throws from Nieto, he has no chance of getting behind the plate in a game.

Yesterday’s diagnosis basically put the clock back to zero on the healing process. Piazza, who now must wear a hard plastic brace, expects to do nothing but rest for at least the next week.

Other than anti-inflammatory medication, that’s the only course of action at the moment. Piazza is resigned to hoping the pain somehow will disappear while the Mets shoot for the playoffs without him.

Phillies Trade For Tucker

Posted in Baseball at 1:17 am by

A day after the Yankees upgraded their outfield with the acquisition of Matt Lawton, the NL Wild Card leading Phillies have snagged OF Michael Tucker from the Giants in exchange for pitching prospect Kelvin Pichardo.

Tucker, who pinch hit in the 8th inning of today’s 2-1 win over the Mets, is 67 years old.

Phone Company Covets Premiership TV Rights

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 1:05 am by

The Observer’s Richard Wachman reports on British Telecom’s bold new plan to invade sports TV.

BT is to challenge BSkyB by bidding for the rights to televise Premier League football when the current contract expires in 2007.
The plan is being masterminded by BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland, who was boss of London Weekend Television before it was taken over by Granada in 1994.

Bland is determined to build up BT’s newly established entertainment division, headed by Andrew Burke, which aims to offer video-on-demand and pay-TV to every UK household in five years.

Part of Bland’s project involves bidding for the rights to screen Premier League and other British and European soccer matches.

BT is unlikely to go head to head with BSkyB in a bidding war for the entire Premier League contract. Instead, the company is basing its plans on the assumption that the European Commission will rule that the number of Premier League matches shown by BSkyB be limited. That would allow other broadcasters and organisations to get a slice of the highly lucrative pay-TV soccer market.

An observer said: ‘BT reckons the rights to televise Premier League matches will be auctioned off in two, three or even four parcels. It could then pick and choose, but would probably avoid a head-on clash with BSkyB.’

The synergetic possibilities are endless. A ringtone of Andy Gray shouting, for instance.

08.27.05

Worst SportsCenter Analogy Of All-Time

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 6:15 pm by

“What Ben Gibbard is to Death Cab For Cutie, Jason Marquis is to the Cardinals on 3 days rest.

Which could mean that a) Gibbard is surprisingly effective or b) rational adults find Marquis’ cloying offerings so insufferable, they’d sooner make a cyanide smoothie than listen to him.

I suppose you could make a case for either.

Lenny Harris, Daniel Clowes Fan

Posted in Baseball at 5:34 pm by

From the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan :

During a batting-cage discussion with Cubs coaches Friday morning, ex-Cub Lenny Harris jokingly referred to Wrigley Field as “Ghost World.”

The idea that the Cubs are haunted in their North Side home may be an old wives’ tale, though booing is certainly a familiar sound at Wrigley these days.The Cubs heard it early and late on Friday in a 7-5 loss to Florida, their 10th loss in their last 15 home games.

They’re now 31-33 at Wrigley Field, despite being on a record attendance pace.

“That happens,” said Nomar Garciaparra, who played third base in place of the injured Aramis Ramirez. “I’ve been on teams that way too. Baseball is hard to explain. Sometimes that happens to good teams.”

And it happens frequently to the Cubs too.

Ben Schwartz, however, refuses to raise the white flag — no matter what Steve Albini thinks.

That a Chicagoan is giving up this early on the Cubs — we’re only 19.5 games out in late August for chrissakes — was disheartening to say the least. I did see the Shellac show the nigh before on August 20th, however, and Weston-Trainer-Albini remain the greatest steroid-free band in rock.

Though today’s 2-1 loss to Florida is no doubt fresh in Ben’s mind, it should be stressed that blind faith in the Cubs isn’t a prerequisite for Chicago residency (supposedly there’s an American League club in town as well, but I’ll have to get the research department on that one). And while not wishing to deny Shellac their place in the Steroid-Free Wing of the Rock’n'Roll Hall Of Fame (boycotted by Little Steven on account of a trio getting in), here’s a vote for Virginia’s Pelt, whose latest untitled compact disc offering has been a unique distraction while trying to spell-check Alex Reimer’s comments.