Billy Wagner’s Fond Memories Of Philly

Posted in Baseball at 3:06 pm by

The New York Mets’ new closer, as interviewed in today’s Newark Star-Ledger by Don Burke (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

Those people, it doesn’t matter how successful you are. I don’t get it. They boo you. They scream at you. Anybody who’s going to boo you when you don’t hit 100 miles per hour, what does that tell you? There are some fans who are fantastic, who were very supportive, and made you feel welcome there. But, for the most part, you had the guys who just came to the ballpark to yell at you. If you’re having a bad season there, forget it. You can’t get out of that funk. They won’t allow you to. You have to go into Philadelphia and become so thick- skinned, somebody that you’re not. It’s hard.

Q: How do you think you’ll be received when you visit Citizens Bank Park this season?

A: Oh, I’m going to have a big, old bull’s-eye on my back. But I’m going to approach it like I do everything else. I’ve got three hours to spend with you. You want to spend your three hours yelling at me? Go ahead. Then I’ll go home and go to sleep. You’ll get to tell your grandkids that you yelled at me for three hours. If you want to stand there and yell at me — as long as you’re not saying anything about my family — you can call me whatever you want to call me. I don’t care because I think it’s hilarious. I spent most of my time (in the bullpen) laughing at these people. I think Major League Baseball should have some of these fans come down out of the stands. One’s going to hit and one’s going to pitch and it’s going to be in a big situation. Let’s see how easy it is. They sit up there and tell me how easy is it. ‘I could do that. You bum. You (stink).’ All right, find out how it is. Come down here.

Q : Are Phillies fans as bad as it gets?

A: They’re easier on the visiting team. I’m sure they won’t be easy on me this year. But if that makes your day, if that makes it special for you, go right ahead.

A Reminder Not To Adjust The Volume…

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 2:27 pm by

…if attempting to watch this afternoon’s Rockets/Magic tilt on NBA TV. The game will be shown sans announcers, but with “enchanced courtside audio”.

Which, translated, means that when Jeff Van Gundy asks Stromile Swift, “would you please ask to be traded?”, we’ll hear it, loud and clear.

Manchester United Lift Worthless Trophy

Posted in Football at 2:20 pm by

Congratulations to Manchester United and their young rocket scientist, Wayne Rooney, on overwhelming Wigan, 4-0,winning one of the planet’s least meaningful knockout competitions, The Carling Cup aka The League Cup.

(funny, I always thought Alan Smith answered to the name “shithead”)

I’m sure when the Glazer family borrowed heavily to buy the club, this was exactly the sort of glittering achievement they had in mind.

In the Rome derby, Roma are currently leading Lazio, 1-0, courtesy of a 31st minute Francesco Taddei strike.

One of FSC’s slightly pumped-up commentators was heard to exclaim, “Taddei is never going have to pay for a dinner, again in Rome,” which, I think is a pretty fantastic statement to make as there’s at least some portion of the fans in attendence who’d just as soon punch him in the face.

Paolo Di Canio hasn’t sieg-heiled anyone yet, but it’s still early.

Those Tests Are Rigged, Anyway

Posted in Blogged Down, Racism Corner at 1:51 pm by

Racism is a heavy charge to be throwing around. So with that in mind, I’m not so quick to label a website that has taken particular glee in

a) suggesting that Mike Tyson can’t read,
b) wondering if Isiah Thomas can use a computer and
c) mocking Vince Young for his allegedly lower-than-low score on a standardized test.

I’m not saying the blog in question has some kind of agenda in questioning the intellectual capacity of prominent black men or anything. I mean, if that isn’t a demographic their 2 advertisers actually care about, why should the author or publisher?

Young, by the way, is offering you the opportunity to have your picture taken with a Heisman Trophy runner-up and National Champion for just $99. As VY is likely to stroll away with more cash that afternoon than a year’s worth of online casino ads are paying The Whoopie Cushion Family, if nothing else, he’s got a head for business.

Bonzi’s History With The Czar, Danny Ferry

Posted in Basketball at 12:32 pm by

The much-travelled Bonzi Wells, currently with the Kings, has his tumultous history reviewed by the Sacramento Bee’s Martin McNeil.

Wells was frustrated with Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello, who replaced a burned-out Hubie Brown early last season. Wells averaged just 21.6 minutes and 10.4 points and said Fratello didn’t communicate with him during the season.

“I just felt like he was scared of me,” Wells said of Fratello, “for what, I don’t know. He may be just a scary kind of dude and couldn’t handle a cat like me, who allegedly had this bad kind of rap. And he just didn’t want to deal with me. I think he fed into that.

“People never heard any reports of me doing anything in Memphis because I didn’t do anything. I had a great time. I’m not that type of dude. I can be, but I’m not that type of dude, really. And he just found some reason not to play me.”

In his postseason banishment, Wells said Fratello kept him from entering the gym for a team meeting after Game 3, then sent security guards to his house to tell him to stay away from the arena for Game 4.

“I called (team president) Jerry West, and he told me it was out of his hands,” Wells said. “He said (Fratello) didn’t want me around. (West) said he was upset about it, and the team wasn’t going to take any money from me.

“I didn’t understand that because he was the president. I asked him to tell me what I did. If I did something, then I could understand. But nobody ever told me what I did.”

Wells said he never received an explanation from Fratello or West as to what happened. He holds no ill will against West, who traded Wells to a better situation in Sacramento.

When the Grizzlies visited Arco Arena on Feb. 7, Fratello refused to talk about Wells or the playoff exile.

“I can’t get into that. I mean I could tell you, but it wouldn’t serve any purpose at this point,” Fratello said.

Then there was an incident while with the Blazers when Wells spit on Ferry, now the Cleveland Cavaliers’ president of basketball operations.

Wells’ agent, William Phillips said part of that story always gets omitted.

“Ferry (allegedly) called him a (racist name),” Phillips said. “That part of it never gets reported. And Ferry becomes the president of basketball operations.

Ferry did not return a phone call to The Bee.

Ferry’s Cavs are currently trailing Detroit, 46-35 with about 11 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Dusty Recommends Hawkins For Closer Role

Posted in Baseball at 11:05 am by

The above headline, is not a joke. I think. From the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck.

The Chicago Cubs may have decided that LaTroy Hawkins wasn’t cut out to be their full-time closer after the shaky start last year that cost him the job and eventually prompted a trade to the San Francisco Giants, but Cubs manager Dusty Baker won’t discount the possibility that he could successfully fill that role if the Orioles need him in the ninth inning.

“He has the stuff,” Baker said after Friday’s workout at the Cubs’ spring training facility. “Sometimes, it takes guys time to do that. Mike Jackson was a setup guy for a long time and had some success [as a closer] after not having much success in the beginning.”

Hawkins has had some success. He recorded 14 saves in 14 attempts for the Minnesota Twins in 2000 after struggling in the starting rotation for three seasons, then came back in 2001 to save 28 games … but the devil is in the details.

He blew nine saves that year and had a 5.96 ERA. The Cubs tried him in the closer’s role and he saved 25 games in 2004, but he blew nine saves and was ineffective in the ninth inning for the Cubs and Giants in 2005.

“Sometimes, he has trouble finishing guys off,” Baker said. “That last out can be hard to get.”

Larry Stone Pays Homage To Scott Spiezio

Posted in Baseball at 10:59 am by

The Seattle Times’ Larry Stone takes note of the many ex-Mariners trying to win jobs around Spring Training, though one in particular really stands out.

The training complex at Roger Dean Stadium is like a Mariners nightmare flashback. Everywhere one turns, it seems, is a screaming reminder of ill-fated trades, misguided personnel decisions, and faded splendor.

On one side is the St. Louis Cardinals camp, where (cue the scary music) Scott Spiezio has resurfaced as a backup infield candidate. This may surprise those who believed, based on last year’s .064 average, that Spiezio would have difficulty winning a backup job on a high-school team. Never mind a pennant contender.

In various recent interviews, Spiezio has had the gall to intimate that his pathetic two-year stint with the Mariners was the fault of: a) stick-in-the-mud teammates who broke his spirit; and b) management that didn’t give him a fair shot; rather than c) an abject inability to perform.

Cheaper By-The-Minute Way To Hear Tom Candiotti Unveiled

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 10:50 am by

From the Toronto Sun’s Mike Ganter.

The Blue Jays telecasts are going to be short one analyst this season.

Former Blue Jays pitcher Tom Candiotti is joining the Arizona Diamondbacks’ broadcast team this summer, meaning Jays play-by-play man Jamie Campbell now will be sharing the booth with a rotation of three analysts, instead of four.

Returning will be former Jays Pat Tabler, Rance Mulliniks and Darrin Fletcher with Tabler getting the bulk of the work.

No word from Ganter how Candiotti’s new gig might eat into his availability for the terrific Hollywood Is Calling firm.

Lawrence Laments 2 GM’s Who Aren’t Coming To MSG

Posted in Basketball at 10:25 am by

As the fruits of Isiah Thomas’ labor continue to make the rest of the league look good — Gilbert Arenas being the latest beneficiary — the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence bemoans missed opportunities in the form of executives Bryan Colangelo and Kiki Vandeweghe.

Bryan Colangelo is expected to leave Phoenix after rebuilding the Suns into a Western Conference power. Colangelo is reportedly about to become the Toronto Raptors’ president, and business associates say he is resigned to leaving the Suns. Meanwhile, Kiki Vandeweghe is on his way out in Denver, where he rebuilt the Nuggets.

The Raptors have had their eyes on Colangelo since firing the overmatched Rob Babcock earlier this season. Colangelo scored his greatest success at Thomas’ expense, with his January 2004 deal to rid the Suns of Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway and their long-term, maximum-salary deals. That gave Phoenix the necessary cap room to sign Steve Nash as a free agent. In Toronto, Colangelo would be working in the same division as the Knicks.

“Toronto is going to wind up with one of the smartest young GMs around,” said one league official.

In Denver, Vandeweghe (above) is serving out the final season of his deal and will be on the market this summer. He has confided to friends that Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke, with a reputation for being frugal, doesn’t intend to meet his salary demands.

While Vandeweghe made the mistake of overrating Kenyon Martin, he transformed the Nuggets from a team that won 17 games in 2002-03 into a playoff team the next year. That had never been done since the league went to an 82-game schedule in 1976. One of the keys to Denver’s turnaround came when Vandeweghe traded Antonio McDyess to the Knicks in June 2002 for Marcus Camby and a first-round pick that turned into Nene Hilario.

As fouled up as things are at the Garden, Colangelo or Vandeweghe might have been able to get the Knicks back on the right path.

Without disputing that either man would represent an improvement over Isiah Thomas, surely Lawrence recalls that Vandeweghe is the guy who made Nikoloz Tskitishvili the #5 overall pick?

Sweden, Rangers’ Lundqvist, Claim Olympic Gold

Posted in Hockey, olympics at 9:42 am by

Sweden 3, Finland 2

A Nicklas Lindstrom goal for Sweden at the start of the 3rd period broke a 2-2 deadlock in the Olympic final, the assists coming from Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg.

25 saves for Sweden G Henrik Lundqvist (above), including a bunch during a furious finale as the Fins tried desperately to tie the game. Lundqvist’s heroic performance was nearly matched by that of Finland’s Antero Nittymaki, the Philadelphia Flyers’ outstanding goaltender who was nearly unstoppable prior to this morning. The planet could do a lot worse that to watch these two national sides battle each other in longer series.

This was Sweden’s 2nd gold medal in ice hockey ; they beat Canada in 1994 with a team that included Forsberg, Kenny Jonnson and Jorgen Jonnson, all 3 of whom featured on the 2006 squad.

In international hockey news of a slightly less flashy variety, the Austin Ice Bats defeated the Odessa Jackalopes last night, 4-3, in the former’s final game at the Travis County Expo Center. Having been preoccupied with UT hoops and the Mosley/Vargas fight, I’m sorry to say I missed this historic event. I was unable to attend the final night of hockey at the old Maple Leaf Gardens, Montreal’s Forum or the old Boston Garden. Now, I can add the Travis County Expo Center to that storied list.