09.27.05

Player Valuations, Re-Examined

Posted in Baseball at 1:32 am by

Writes Sam Frank,

You probably saw David Leonhardt’s “Underestimating Fielding Is A Silly Mental Error” in Sunday’s NY Times, , but maybe you didn’t catch the thing they snuck in this last paragraph: The A’s have quietly become the best defensive team in the league. The author guesses that that’s where they’re finding inefficiencies/good deals these days. Also interesting is the conversion presented: making 0.1 more outs per game when you’re a fielder is worth 25 points of batting average. Oh, and Willy Taveras is playing as well in the field as Beltran did last year.

“Looking at entire teams may be even more telling. The Athletics were known a few years ago for finding inexpensive players with a knack for hitting home runs and walking, even if they were defensively challenged.

But with more teams also focusing on on-base percentage these days, Oakland’s front office seems to have decided that defense is now the skill undervalued in the baseball marketplace. This season, A’s fielders have made outs out of 72.4 percent of balls hit in play against them, better than any other team.

Sadly for Oakland, there wasn’t much way of defending against Steve Finley (above) finally getting a big hit for the Angels (other than not throwing him a pitch right down the middle), the ancient CF’s 2 run HR off Joe Blanton in the 4th providing the difference in a 4-3 victory. The A’s now find themselves 5 games back with 6 to play — it would take a collapse of Mauchian proportions for the Angels to blow the AL West.

On the subject of collapses, which would be the more rare occurance ; Trevor Hoffman blowing a save, or Barry Bonds going 0-5? Either way, San Diego’ (77-79) has seen their lead dwindle to 3 games over the Giants, with another 3 games against San Francisco between now and Thursday night.

Though there’s probably no truth to the rumor that the Houston Astros are planning on voting Mike Jacobs (above, right) a partial playoff share, the Eastern League’s Player Of The Year continues to make the most of his call-up, homering off Philly’s Brett Myers and driving in Carlos Beltran on a sacrifice fly in the Mets’ 6-5 comeback win. Gutsiest move of the night goes to Willie Randolph, who rather than allowing Roberto Hernandez to pitch to Bobby Abreu, intentionally walked the Phils’ right-fielder, putting the tying and winning runs on base. Willie instead chose to have Hernandez go after Met-killer Pat Burrell, who’d already brought his career HR total against NY to 30 with a solo shot off Shingo Takatsu in the 7th.

Hernandez induced Burrell to hit a checked swing tapper back to the mound…and suddenly the Mets are tied with the Marlins in the loss column, just a half game out of 3rd place. After an early September drought that effectively killed the Mets’ playoff chances, they’ve won 6 of their last 7 against the same NL East teams chasing the Astros.

09.26.05

Jets Lose Pennington For The Season

Posted in Gridiron at 10:25 pm by

Not only did the Jets come out on the short end of yesterday’s Battle Of The Marshall QB’s, New York’s playoff hopes were dealt a potentially fatal blow as the New York Times’ Karen Crouse explains.

The Jets’ worst fears were realized Monday when they learned that Chad Pennington tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder during Sunday’s 26-20 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars – the same injury that sidelined him for three games last year – and would be lost for the season.

A person within the N.F.L. said that a magnetic resonance imaging exam taken Monday had revealed the extent of Pennington’s injury. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Jets had not publicly announced the injury.

Even before the extent of Pennington’s injury was disclosed on Monday, Coach Herman Edwards was acting like someone who knew that he had lost his best quarterback. He announced that Brooks Bollinger, the third-string quarterback, would make his first N.F.L. start, at Baltimore on Sunday.

New England will pay a heavy toll after their last second win over Pittsburgh yesterday ; safety Rodney Harrison (above) is done for the season after tearing his left ACL.

Farewell, Agent 86

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 5:57 pm by

Don Adams, best known for his work as bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in television’s “Get Smart” (1965-1970) has passed away at the age of 82.

Adams also appeared briefly in the worst syndicated comedy ever to be produced by a company with no ties to Howard Stern, the supermarket howler “Check It Out”.

Eagles Teammates Acknowledge Akers’ Right To Exist

Posted in Gridiron at 4:10 pm by

With a handful of exceptions, kickers don’t receive much respect — and if you’ve ever seen Garo Yepremian attempting a forward pass (or making a cameo on “The Odd Couple”), you might know why. But in the aftermath of the Eagles’ narrow win over the penalty-plagued Raiders yesterday, David Ackers’ understudy paid him a huge compliment. Though it would’ve meant more coming from a non-kicker.

From the Philadelphia Daily News’ Sam Donnellon :

He has argued for years that he is an athlete by nature, kicker by trade. And it’s not that he wasn’t believed. It’s just when a guy speaks eye-to-eye to you in a locker room full of stadium-sized football players, in a locker room full of discolored limbs, of braces, of casts and tape – well, it’s like, “Yeah sure.”

“They call him a kicker, but he’s not a kicker,” Mike Bartrum, his kickoff replacement, was saying after Akers winced the Eagles to a 23-20 victory over the Raiders with a 23-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the game. “He’s a football player.”

“A tough guy,” Bartrum also said, a description that echoed throughout a locker room more relieved than celebratory.

The gratitude shown to Akers was in stark contrast to the treatment of Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez, as noted at Cowboys.com.

When Jose Cortez missed his first extra point attempt thanks to Jon Condo’s snap bouncing in to holder Tony Romo, Larry Allen not only got in Cortez’s face, but he yanked off his helmet and shoved the kicker – all causing Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa to say something to the effect of, “Either Cortez knew it wasn’t his fault or he’s stupid for not running away from Larry Allen.”

All is well that ends well, but Cortez said he’s never had a teammate come at him like that after a missed kick, although some observers thought Cortez might have said something to Condo for the low snap.

Baseball Bureaucracy With A Heart

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 3:46 pm by

It’s not quite Lazlo Toth, but Merritt Bettineksi at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had the gumption to ask a question others were afraid to pose.

Bills’ D Is Spiked – LB Out For The Season

Posted in Gridiron at 3:34 pm by

The day after being done in by the arm of Michael Vick, the Bills announced that Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes is done for ’05 after tearing the achilles tendon in his right leg yesterday.

As glitzy as the Bengals’ bandwagon truly is, I’ve got to fall in line behind the Miami Herald’s Edwin Pope, who makes Alex Moreno’s Monday morning by confirming what anyone who watched yesterday’s Fins/Panthers thriller surely knows — the Dolphins have turned it around and are the early surprise of the new season.

Understand, the Broncos and Panthers are good football teams. And that 27-24 thing that Olindo Mare’s 32-yard field goal (above) created Sunday against the Panthers meant the Dolphins have beaten the Broncos and Panthers, and what happened to them in Jets country could have happened to anybody. And will.

Jason Taylor has never been less than great. Now he’s got Truck Traylor and Kevin Carter in there jamming up things along with him, and Zach Thomas hasn’t lost a step behind them, and Junior Seau will be back slamming away in a couple of weeks, when the Dolphins play again, at Buffalo, and Channing Crowder is bringing some serious sock along with the old guys.

Blackburn – Finished At 22

Posted in Hockey at 2:12 pm by

Testimonial matches aren’t a practice in the NHL, I don’t think, and perhaps this isn’t a great time to advocate such a thing in the wake of the last work stoppage. But spare a thought for Rangers’ goaltender Dan Blackburn, thought by many to be Mike Richter’s heir appararent between the pipes, who yesterday announced his retirement at the ripe old age of 22.

Mushnick : Using “Bro” Where “Dude” Would Surely Suffice

Posted in Sports TV at 1:50 pm by

From Surfin’ Bird Phil Mushnick in Monday’s New York Post :

CBS’s Brent Jones, who worked Jags-Jets yesterday, is typical of network analysts/gasbags who parachute in to call a Jet or Giant game, then tell people who know better what’s going on.

In the first quarter, Jones (above) declared, “I can’t believe the Jets let Lamont Jordan get away … let him walk, to the Raiders.” What were they to do, bro, pay him huge money to continue as Curtis Martin’s backup ” provided he wanted to continue as a backup?

Throughout the second half, Jones reminded us, often in vague terms, “what I said, last week” about the Jags. But that meant nothing to a New York audience that last week didn’t hear him call the Jags-Colts game.

Weiss, Irish, Survive Risky Play Calling By Dead Child

Posted in Gridiron at 12:54 pm by

Even a person of my sensibilities (a strong dislike of children, college football, granting dying wishes for children who enjoy college football, etc.) cannot help but be touched by the insistance of Notre Dame’s Charlie Weiss to start Saturday’s game against Washington with a play chosen by a young boy who had just passed away.

There is no truth to the rumor, however, that Nebraska’s Bill Callahan is trying to hire the deceased youngster as his new offensive coordinator.

A Concerned Reader Alerts Us To Unfunny Content

Posted in Blogged Down, The Mailbag, Will Leitch Sucks at 12:11 pm by

Jake Wilson writes,

Naziism is funny.

At least that’s what Deadspin seems to think. To protest MLBlogs’ lack of censorship, Gawker’s entree into the world of sports saw fit to create a blog titled “Mein Kampf” that promises “discussion of the National Socialist Movement.” However, the joke seems to be on Deadspin, as MLBlogs appears to be testing out its new Virtual Ashcroft v1.1 censorship software on the blog, including censoring out their self-promoting link.

Thanks, Jake, though I don’t see what the fuss is about. Clearly, Deadspin’s editor has grown tired in just a few weeks of his position at a rebarbative professional sports website. In such a work environment, he’s under intense pressure to use the words “Paris Hilton” as many times a day as possible and I can only imagine how desperately he’s longed to start, y’know, a real blog that shows the world he’s not just a superficial nitwit. A vehicle that will allow him to truly express his innermost thoughts. If he’s willing to fight for his right to party with the Nazi Party, regardless of how it might relect on his employer, you’ve gotta respect that, even if you find such views totally abhorrent.

Bloomberg Campaign Celebrates Dubious Endorsements

Posted in politics at 9:05 am by

That NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handlers were too dopey to recognize that some of his celebrity backers were in fact, not registered voters in any of the 5 boroughs, is neither shocking nor unprecedented.

It might be the miscalculation of the century, however, to presume that the backing of Mo Vaughn would curry favor with any New Yorkers remotely familiar with his tenure in a Mets uniform.

Fish Fight In The Shower, Blame Game Commences

Posted in Baseball at 8:54 am by

I’ve not watched enough Marlins games this season featuring the opposing team’s radio or TV calls, so perhaps someone can answer the following for me —- have as many commentators wondered aloud if Carlos Delgado picked the wrong team as their peers have said of Carlos Beltran?

 /><br />
(A.J. doesn’t want to hit an old man, but if he’s told McKeon once, he’s told him a hundred times, “stop calling me ‘Carol’”)</p>
<p><a href=From the Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez.

-The first clue was third-base coach Jeff Cox’s voice rising to a never-before-heard level in the clubhouse, culminating an out-of-sight, postgame encounter with A.J. Burnett.

The next was a crashing sound in the shower after Burnett entered.

Something was bugging Burnett after Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves. He made sure everyone knew it.

In a rant reminiscent of the Dan Miceli bombast that preceded manager John Boles’ 2001 firing, Burnett ripped manager Jack McKeon and the coaching staff for creating an unfavorable work environment.

“We play scared, we manage scared, we coach scared, and I’m sick of it, man,” Burnett said. “It’s depressing around here. … It’s like they expect us to mess up and when we do they chew our a– out. There’s no positive nothing around here for anybody. Young kids come up, they can’t get early hitting. They can’t get early work. There’s no positive [feeling] on this staff whatsoever, none.

“It’s a waste. A positive pat on the back is better than anything, and I haven’t seen a positive pat on the back since April. Guys are out here busting their a–. … We ain’t trying to lose. We ain’t trying to give up runs or strike out. Guys are out there busting their a–, yet you still hear negativity. I’m not saying no names, just too much negativity.”

McKeon attributed Burnett’s soundoff to emotions getting the better of him. Immediately after the game, McKeon made some pointed comments about Burnett not holding leads, untimely walks and lack of command in spite of sustaining his velocity.

Lou’s Selective Memory

Posted in Baseball at 8:37 am by

The St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin, covering the post-game scene after the D-Rays beat the Angels and El Barto, 8-4 yesterday.

As Piniella detailed how far they had come from their 28-61 first half, and how much hard work and effort the players put in to get there, he began to cry.

His voice cracked.

His eyes reddened.

Tears welled.

“I got a little emotional, I’m sorry,” he said. “I just got a little emotional when he said we played over .500. It feels good. I hope we win a couple more. It’s (an accomplishment). I think everybody wrote us off pretty good.”

Bench coach John McLaren, Piniella’s longtime associate, said he was not surprised that side of Piniella came out at this time.

“Anyone who knows Lou knows he’s a very passionate person, and a lot of people think it’s just about winning,” McLaren said. “But he cares about his players. He’s basically a very sentimental person.”

Really, what could possibly have caused so many observers to write off this talented young team?

Jeter : You’ve Got (Hate) Mail

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 8:26 am by

From the NY Daily News’ Alison Gendar.

A poison-pen racist being hunted for threatening dozens of prominent African-American men because of their interracial marriages has added Yankees captain Derek Jeter to the hate list, the Daily News has learned.

The letter, mailed to the superstar shortstop at Yankee Stadium, called Jeter a “traitor to his race” for dating white women.

It warned the 31-year-old heartthrob to “stop or he’ll be shot or set on fire,” a law enforcement source said.

Other letters written by the racist have threatened to “castrate” and “burn” Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, among other notables.

Needless to say, it is incredibly sad to think that Jeter or anyone else is subject to such abuse. Almost as mind-blowing is how such cowardly threats prove that “ESPN Hollywood” has at least one viewer.

The Greatest Rivalry In Sports Takes A New Twist

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 8:08 am by

Rightly or wrongly, the travails of the modern Boston Red Sox have become closely identified with superfans such as Stephen King, Ben Affleck, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Denis Leary, etc. And there couldn’t be a hotter ticket than those for next weekend’s crucial Red Sox/Yankees series at Fenway Park.

All of that said, pre-existing notions of hardcore fandom and high ticket demand are wiped out by the following notice on Craigslist :

I am looking for a woman or a couple (ww, wm) to use and abuse me. In return you will get 2 Red Sox tickets for one of the final weeknight home games next week. The tickets are in the grandstand-section 10 and are pretty decent seats.

I would especially like it if the girl was a Yankees fan and she bent me over and fucked me hard with a strap-on, made me suck it clean when she was done and then pissed all over my face and in my mouth. Or if the girl had a boyfriend or guy who was a Yankees fan who would make me suck his dick and take it in the ass while the gf watches and makes fun of me for being a little dicksucking whore-that would work too.

I’m looking to to this possibly either late Saturday night or on Monday or Tuesday after work. Please let me know if you are interested and what you’ll do to me.

Yard Sale Of The Century

Posted in non-sporting journalism at 12:04 am by

Robert Maxwell has been dead since 1992. It’s about time his family sold off his old crap. From The Independent’s Terri Judd.

The Second World War uniform hung forlornly in the middle of the ferreting bargain-hunters, sporting a fake “sold” sign. It bore testimony to the fact that even if you are one of the most loathed men in recent history, somebody still wants to praise you after you are buried.

Fourteen years after Robert Maxwell fell to his death off the side of his yacht in mysterious circumstances, the spirit of the disgraced publishing baron was evident at a giant garage sale yesterday in the shape of the uniform that the late tycoon wore as a captain in the North Staffordshire Regiment.

In a final financial ignominy, Kevin Maxwell, younger son of the former Mirror Group owner, was being forced to peddle his possessions as he and his family prepare to leave their Elizabethan mansion. But the uniform was one item that was not up for grabs. Kevin’s wife, Pandora, 47, confided: “We haven’t really sold it. My husband just put the sticker on to stop anyone buying it because he changed his mind about selling it. It is just too sentimental to sell.”

Kevin Maxwell looked uncomfortable as he stood behind a table in the marquee while his wife took the money. Describing the goods on show as “an accumulation of things people dump on you when you have a large house”, the 46-year-old self-employed property consultant added: “This is a good way of getting rid of as much as possible. Moving is always stressful and I will be happy when it is over.”

09.25.05

Heyman : NY Clubs Should’ve Picked Hansen

Posted in Baseball at 7:20 pm by

With both of the locals in need of bullpen help, Newsday’s Jon Heyman take a harsh view of their failure to select St. Johns’ Craig Hansen in June’s amateur draft.

What a shame both the Mets and Yankees passed on Glen Cove’s closer extraordinaire Craig Hansen, especially now that Hansen may be saving Boston’s beaten-down bullpen.

With Hansen throwing 97 mph after his quick ascension, there’s second-guessing especially over the Yankees’ pick, Oklahoma prep shortstop C.J. Henry, well-regarded but years from the bigs. Hansen could have spelled well-worn Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera and perhaps eventually become Rivera’s successor. The Yankees and most others are shocked at Hansen’s speedy signing and promotion.

“If he shoves the bats down the Yankees’ throats, their owner’s going to go nuts,” one scout predicted. “How they could have passed on this kid, I have no idea. Hansen stands right at the top of pitching prospects I’ve seen. And he proved he can start, too.”

Oddly enough, word circulated throughout Yankees offices days before the draft they’d buck their history of not spending on American amateurs and Tampa-based decision-makers would take Hansen should he fall to No. 17. In the end, they signed Henry for $1.575 million, 60 percent less than Hansen ($4 million) signed for. “We try to toe the line a little bit,” One Yankees person explained.

“The reality is, Boston got a bargain. The teams that passed have to spend $3 million a year to find a reliever. Boston got Hansen for four years at $4 million total,” agent Scott Boras said.

Hansen didn’t feature in Boston’s 9-3 win over Baltimore on Sunday, a result that maintained the Red Sox’ tie atop the AL East with New York. David Wells picked up his 14th win, meaning the Sultan Of Sloth has a shot at finishing ’05 with as many wins as Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson.

Peppy Drink For Kids Sparks Controversy

Posted in Medical Science, Parental Responsibility at 4:41 pm by

As part of CSTB’s all-too infrequent attempts to link to stories that would receive far more reasoned commentary at Stay Free! Daily, here’s the NY Times’ Duff Wilson reporting on a terrific new product for lethargic kids. Imagine how Todd Marinovich would’ve turned out if this had been part of his training table.

The company’s marketing materials describe the drink as a way to kick-start the morning for children as young as 4. The company Web site, adorned with a picture of an elementary school wrestler and a gymnast, says its drink can help a child “develop fully as a high-performance athlete” and fill nutritional gaps “in a sport that is physically and mentally demanding.”

The drink, called Spark, contains several stimulants and is sold in two formulations: one for children 4 to 11 years old that includes roughly the amount of caffeine found in a cup and a half of coffee, and one containing twice that amount for teenagers and adults.

Despite the promotional materials, Sidney Stohs and Rick Loy, executives with AdvoCare International of Texas, which makes the products, said Spark was not devised or marketed for children’s athletic performance but rather for their overall good health.

“It’s not just a caffeine delivery system; it has many more nutritional properties,” said Stohs, senior vice president for research and development at AdvoCare, the nation’s leading company in direct marketing of dietary supplements for athletes.

“That’s scary,” said Dr. Mary L. Gavin, a pediatrician and medical editor of the KidsHealth Web site for the Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. “The effects of caffeine have never been tested on kids. Marketing to kids is a major concern.”

Elisa Odabashian, a senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, said in a separate interview: “What are we coming to? What kind of society are we spawning here where everybody has to be artificially stimulated?”

Not to get all Jose Canseco on you or anything, but that’s progress, baby. I had a childhood full of 100% natural stimulation and where’d it get me? Cut from the JV baseball team, left in the dust by the Giambis, Sheffields and, uh, Velardes of the future. If Barry Bonds showed bravery in turning his already finely tuned body into a science experiment in his thirties, how courageous would a child be to do the same at the age of four? CSTB salutes today’s young athletes, their proud parents, and most of all, the the pioneering companies who work so hard to make our world a better place. God Bless America (and God Bless Caffeine).

Bourges Puts Dillon Out To Pasture

Posted in Gridiron at 2:34 pm by

After a terrific first season at Foxboro, stiff-arm specialist Corey Dillon had a rough time with Oakland and Carolina. In advance of the 4pm game in Pittsburgh, the ever hopeful Ron Bourges of the Boston Globe wonders if this is the begining of the end for the former Bengal.

Corey Dillon is off to a painfully slow start, producing roughly half as many yards per carry as he did a year ago in his first season with the Patriots. Not surprisingly, this has raised questions, and the answers could be among a host of things.

It could be the play of an offensive line still getting used to personnel changes and the regular shuffling in and out of rookie tackle Nick Kaczur every two or three series. It could be that Dillon has simply not yet adjusted after slimming down a bit to add quickness and thus his timing is off. Or it could be just that the front lines of the Raiders and Panthers played stoutly and left Dillon with little running room.

Then again, it could be something more troubling. It could be the calendar.

If it is any, or even all, of the first three reasons, Dillon has a solvable problem. If it is the latter, however, this could be a long season for him and the Patriots’ running game, as it once was for Eddie George in Tennessee, Earl Campbell in Houston, and a long march of other backs before them, because the odds are stacked heavily against any runner in the NFL once he turns 31, as Dillon will Oct. 24.

Madden Touts Hafner For AL MVP

Posted in Baseball at 1:58 pm by

From the NY Daily News’ Bill Madden :

While superior and deep pitching has been a key ingredient in the Indians’ rise (Scott Elarton, their No. 5 starter is 4-0 with an 0.92 ERA in his last four starts), Travis Hafner’s offensive contributions have epitomized what MVP means. He’s carried the Indians in every way as Ortiz has carried the Red Sox.

In the three-game series in Chicago last week, Hafner went 7-for-12 with four homers and 10 RBI. His .351 average with runners in scoring position was sixth best in the AL going into the weekend (Ortiz was eighth at .345, while Gary Sheffield was first at .371). While the game-winning RBI stat tends to be misleading in that it constitutes the run that puts a team ahead for good, no matter what inning it occurs or how big the ultimate margin of victory, it is interesting to note that the three AL leaders as of Friday were A-Rod with 20, Ortiz with 19 and Hafner with 18.

But in the case of Hafner, he missed 3-1/2 weeks after being hit in the face with a pitch from the White Sox’s Mark Buerhle in mid-July and was still suffering dizziness for two weeks after his return. That more than anything accounts for his lower RBI and home run totals. The most compelling stat on Hafner’s MVP resume is the Indians’ 42-16 record in games in which he’s driven in at least one run as opposed to 33-38 when he does not.

Cleveland are currently leading K.C., 3-0, Victor Martinez continuing his crazy 2nd half with a 3 run shot off Zach Greinke in the first inning.

Reviewing The D-Rays’ Managerial Candidates

Posted in Baseball at 1:17 pm by

While reporting that Tampa Bay GM Chuck LaMar will be soon be fired — how long have the D-Rays’ fans (all 12 of them) waited to read those words — the St. Petersberg Times’ Marc Topkin runs down a list of those under consideration to succeed Lou Piniella.

Once a general manager is hired, which may not be until after the World Series, the Rays can start the process of replacing Piniella.

Rumors of his successor are flying, though, starting with an up-and-comer such as Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi, who makes a lot of sense, to an experienced hand such as Bobby Valentine, who doesn’t, and would cost a lot of dollars.

There are other names, too, from in house such as Don Zimmer (for a one-year transition), Tom Foley, John McLaren and Triple-A skipper Bill Evers (above), and from outside such as A’s coaches Ron Washington and Bob Geren.

The Rays are going to want someone who can communicate, is open to new ideas, is smart, is willing to put aside his ego, will accept input from the front office and grasp the concept he is part of their team.

Major-league experience won’t be as important as potential. Youth could be an advantage. A model could be the Red Sox, where Terry Francona accepts input – scouting reports, statistics, trend data, etc. – from the front office and makes it part of his decisionmaking process.

Sherman’s Plan To Mend The Mets

Posted in Baseball at 12:00 pm by

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman has a long list of targets — desirable and otherwise — for the New York Mets to pursue this winter. Amongst those he’s bullish on include closers Billy Wagner and B.J. Ryan, and the bold proposition that Jose Vidro or Nomar Garciaparra might be open to playing first base. But Sherman is dead set against the acquisition of a thin, single and ready-to-mingle catcher with Hall Of Fame credentials.

The Mets need a catcher, and Omar Minaya has shown an inclination to pursue players with whom he has history (think Sammy Sosa), and he has history with I-Rod. Rodriguez is whining he wants out of Detroit. But he has two years at $25 million left, drew 10 walks in 500 plate appearances, will be 34 with a lot of mileage on him, and is a prima donna. The Mets would be better served with the more team-oriented Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina, both free agents. Toby Hall might be getting too expensive for Tampa, and could provide a good pairing with Ramon Castro. Could the Mets emphasize offense and return Mike Jacobs behind the plate?

Sherman doesn’t seem to rank the Dodgers’ Jason Phillips as viable option, though perhaps that’s because he’s seen Phillips play.

Dusty Suggests Shrink For Patterson

Posted in Baseball at 11:48 am by

In a development that should greatly displease the Cubs center fielder (if not Tom Cruise), Chicago manager Dusty Baker yesterday proposed that Corey Patterson visit a sports psychologist. From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley.

Patterson (above) hasn’t been approached by the Cubs on the subject. Baker stressed that so far it’s nothing except talk as the Cubs seek a solution to Patterson’s seasonlong travails.

”Everybody is looking for answers and clues,” Baker said. ”I got to talk to him first. I can’t comment on that. I’m not opposed to anything like that. I’m open-minded to stuff like that.

”I was probably one of the first guys that took some relaxation courses in Venezuela in 1974. I even got hypnotized in ’78 because I was having trouble concentrating. I was having some problems off the field, and it was affecting my game.

”You have to be careful. That person has to be open to it, No. 1. No. 2, it doesn’t need to be a publicity stunt or like a guy is emotionally and mentally off or something. A lot of people aren’t as open about it.”

Former manager Don Baylor brought in Mack Newton to treat the Cubs’ minds and bodies. That experiment ended badly when some players chafed at Newton’s attempts to address their psychological needs in clubhouse lectures.

O’s Players Join Angel’s Chorus

Posted in Baseball, General at 11:41 am by

WBAL’s Joe Angel isn’t the only person to take note of the sizeable contingent of Red Sox fans packing the stands at Camden Yards this weekend. Like a mirror image of Jim Haslett, Orioles players are despondent over being forced to play road games at home. From the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebic.

“If we would have won, I would have said that it’s nice to win a game on the road,” Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons said. “That’s truly how it is right now. Today was the worst I’ve ever seen it. You look up in the stands and it was hard to find an orange shirt. I guess I understand, they won the World Series last year and they are on top of the world. We’re not.”

“It’s been like that ever since I’ve been here,” B.J. Ryan said of the Red Sox fans in attendance. “They didn’t have to win the World Series for it to be like that. When you don’t win a lot of games, it’s tough to get a lot of people in the seats. That’s just way it is.”

NFL Week 3 – Too Groggy To Take Dictation From Pete Franklin

Posted in Gridiron at 11:26 am by

The CSTB Ouija Board was smashed to bits yesterday during the finale of the Minnesota/Purdue double OT thriller and as such, I cannot rely on Pigskin Pete’s guidance this Sunday morning.

Oakland at Philadelphia.

Much of the week’s conversation has centered around the Moss/Owens matchup, a subject that leaves me cold. If the former wants to piss away her career by doing drugs with a mediocre talent like Pete Doherty (as opposed to a major talent, like a style magazine publisher, or an overrated actor), that’s her decision to make. The ensuing witch hunt has no place in the sports pages.

Eagles 36, Raiders 20

Giants at Chargers

Ahem. From the San Diego Union Tribune’s Jerry Magee.

If the draft’s procedures were so repugnant to Eli, he should not have made himself eligible for it. We play by the rules in this country, and he knew the rules. He exempted himself from the spirit of the rules, for reasons that he has not disclosed except in the vaguest of terms. The decision was wholly his, he contends, which I cannot accept. Whoever made it, whether it was the Manning family or the player’s agent, Tom Condon, did the NFL no service. The NFL is a lesser thing when its college draft is made meaningless.

I stood next to Eli Manning when he was on the golf course at the La Costa Resort and Spa during an NFL rookie indoctrination program and discussed his position. I stood next to him again recently in Giants Stadium. On both occasions, I found him a mannerly and seemingly humble young man, although confused. He insists on saying that his stance had nothing to do with the city of San Diego but was based solely on his preference for playing professionally other than in San Diego.

No, Eli, you do not separate the Chargers and San Diego. They are joined at the hip. They have been since the team arrived here in 1961 and lent to the city a presence it had not previously possessed. You don’t separate the Packers from Green Bay, either, Eli, or the Bills from Buffalo or the Saints, bless them, from New Orleans, as your father would tell you if you would ask.

Manning’s act is what is so reprehensible here, not him as a person. His act was one of monumental egotism. He set himself apart. He was saying that the Chargers were not good enough for him. There is no other way to view it.

Another way of looking at it might be that you’d not seperate the Chargers from the Spanos family any more than you’d seperate the Clippers from Donald Sterling. My money tonight is on Eli (above), the least convincing adopted New Yorker of all time, and a couple of TD catches for Plaxico Burress.

Giants 27, Chargers, 21

Tampa Bay at Green Bay

Looking at what might be the first 0-3 start of his career, Brett Favre’s best option today might be if he holds a press conference urging Cadillac Williams to hold out for more money before kick-off. It’s never too late for Favre to start siding with his fellow players.

Bucs 24, Packers 14