05.25.06

In The Future, I’ll Read WFAN Press Releases (And Plan My Afternoons Accordingly)

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 12:26 pm by

This afternoon’s version of Philadelphia Phillies batting practice (as thrown by Jeremi Gonzalez) is being called on WFAN by the esteemed San Francisco Giants apologist Chris Russo and his colorless man, Mike Francesca..


Whether this represents a lifelong dream cum true for the dopey duo (kind of like Jim Ross getting to call an XFL game) or is a bizarre attempt to curry favor with the Dunces Of Drive-Time, I can only wonder. But either way, this was a terrible idea.

Tom McCarthy and Howie Rose have formed a solid partnership in the wake of Gary Cohen’s departure to the TV booth. To suggest that Russo and Francesca can turn up and match that level of expertise is insulting to broadcasters and fans alike.

(UPDATE, ie. after listening to most of the game instead of just throwing up :

in all fairness, The FranDog tandem weren’t nearly as horrible as they might’ve been — unlike your average John Sterling broadcast of a Yankee game, for instance, there was something approaching a description of the events taking place on the field. The scathing criticism of Kaz Matsui seems a little over the top (it’s hardly news that Matsui is unlikely to ever justify his contract, but the Mets could do much worse hitting 8th in the order) but at least that’s the sort of thing you’re unlikely to hear from Rose and McCarthy, at least not to that extent.

And of course, if you missed last night’s game at Fenway, Mike and Chris did an excellent job of recapping the highlights when they might otherwise have been boring you with details of what the Phillies were doing against Gonzalez in the top of the 3rd. Since I don’t work in the sports broadcasting trade, I’d have thought that persons tuning in to hear the Mets hosting the Phillies were primarily concerned with one of the two teams playing at the time. Russo and Francesca, however , know that the bulk of the audience consists of hardcore Mike & The Mad Dog fans and maybe a smattering of Yankee rooters. )

Princess A-Rod, Backup Backstop In Spat

Posted in Baseball at 11:15 am by


(David Ortiz, 0 for 5 last night, but not involved in any discussions about posing)

It’s not quite V-Tek shoving a grapefruit in A-Rod’s face, but the morning after a Red Sox loss to the Yankees (despite Randy Johnson’s best efforts), I’ll take what I can get. From the NY Post’s George King.

According to several Fenway Park sources, Alex Rodriguez called Doug Mirabelli over late yesterday afternoon and challenged the Red Sox’ backup catcher over what Mirabelli said about A-Rod’s actions at the plate Tuesday night, when A-Rod homered but looked around for the ball as if he didn’t know where it went.

 

“He told him he should know better than that,” the source said. “He told Mirabelli that he wouldn’t disrespect the game or show up Tim Wakefield. He told Mirabelli he should know better to say anything like that because they played together.

“The guy’s got 450 home runs,” Mirabelli said. “He doesn’t know when he’s squared one up? I don’t believe that.”

Asked about talking to Mirabelli following last night’s 8-6 Yankees victory, A-Rod didn’t confirm or deny it. Yet, he found it ironic that he was being criticized for being confused, while Manny Ramirez posed for a long time at home plate after crushing a homer off Scott Proctor in the same game.

“I was surprised by it,” A-Rod said of being asked about Mirabelli’s quote. “Especially since the other guy [Ramirez] stood there like the Statue of Liberty.”

Astros Screwed Out Of Shopping Trip

Posted in Baseball at 11:01 am by

Prior to Roy Oswalt’s egregious balk — one that shouldn’t have required a protest by Frank Robinson to be called as such — the Houston Astros had an eventful Wednesday afternoon according to the Austin American-Statesman :

For the second straight day, the Astros took a field trip in Washington D.C.. After Tuesday’s visit to injured serviceman and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, about 45 members of the organization spent part of Wednesday touring the Pentagon.

“I think the highlight was when they briefed us on the world situation and the war on terror,” manager Phil Garner said. You look at that map, the way they have it up there, you see how they keep a pulse on the whole world.”

While some cynical taxpayers and military officials alike are no doubt concerned about the war in Iraq, the lack of an exit strategy and our vulnerability at home, at least Mike Lamb has been reassured.

Closer to…uh, Fort Hood, Jason Hirsh continued his recent hot streak, firing 7 shutout innings in Round Rock’s 3-0 defeat of Las Vegas.

Hurtful Anti-American Stereotypes Dispelled By Former ‘Zine

Posted in Football, The Marketplace, We Aren't The World at 12:04 am by

It’s quite an evening to discuss Budweiser commercials.

An overseas subscription to When Saturday Comes costs an arm and a leg. Or more accurately, about $75 a year. I’m not complaining, however, as I think that’s a small price to pay for a publication that sets the record straight when it comes to the sporting scene here in the U.S. of A.

From WSC’s “TV Watch” columnist, Simon Tyers.

The biennial search for the least thought-through cash-in on a major football tournament may have been settled right at the outset by the Budweiser Academy. Not only does the humour derive from the basic principle that Americans don’t know the first thing about soccer, a big comment to make when their national side are above England’s in FIFA’s rankings, but it appears whoever storyboarded the advert doesn’t even understand American sport. Bad enough that a basketball coach, Kevin Cadle (above), is shown coaching gridiron footballers. Worse that we see a player collecting a punt from the goalkeeper and making off the other way with the ball in his hands, when, if he was aware of American football rules, he should be returning it towards the keeper’s end.

On the bright side, it’s a far funnier use of “Eye Of The Tiger” than those Starbucks commercials. Other than that, though, Tyers nailed it.

05.24.06

Leon Goes AWOL…

Posted in Baseball at 10:47 pm by

…but sadly, Joe Buck is still with us.  From the home of all 100% reliable press releases, Our Sports Central (link swiped from Mike Emeigh and Baseball Think Factory)

The Golden Baseball League announced today that RHP Nigel Thatch of the Fullerton Flyers has been placed on the Suspended List for failure to report to Spring Training. Thatch, better known as the actor who played “Leon” in Budweiser commercials, was traded to Fullerton from the Schaumburg Flyers of the Northern League last month for a pallet, or 60 cases, of Budweiser beer.

“We have had many conversations with Nigel and his agent and hope that they end this holdout soon,” said Ed Hart, General Manager of the Fullerton Flyers. “The Leon Watch is now entering Day 3 and we only have another nine days until the season starts. He’s really jeopardizing his chances of making this ball club.”

The league may seek to void the trade and request that Schaumburg return the beer.

Mets Acquire El Duque, Snakes Snag Julio

Posted in Baseball at 5:28 pm by

It’s on the front page of Mets.com (with a mere link to Hernandez’ MLB player page) and ESPN’s happy ticker claims the same : Arizona is sending Orlando Hernandez (2-6, 6.11 ERA) to Flushing in exchange for right handed reliever Jorge Julio.

Marc Pearlman asks, appropriately enough, why the Mets traded Kris Benson. The long answer has something to do with salary, but the short version is about the sanctity of Santa Claus.

If You’re Gonna Steal…

Posted in Blogged Down at 4:57 pm by

…why not steal from someone who isn’t even close to the best?

In all Earnest Goes To Jail-ness, I ordinarily wouldn’t give a flying fuck that someone has chosen to take advantage of Will Leitch’s hard work and is ripping him off without attribution (Jason Lee might even call it karma), but there’s some principle at stake.  Presuming That Sports Fuckface is automated, as opposed to a manually maintained thievery corporation, one or more of the sites being pilfered oughta retaliate by running an entire week’s worth of pictures that look like this. If the advertisers ask “what’s up?”, just say you’re hopping on the lucrative hazing pic bandwagon.

A Public Plea For A Kendry Morales Novelty 7″

Posted in Baseball at 3:33 pm by

Though he’s hitless in three plate appearances today, as the Angels beat up on the Rangers, 6-3, newly promoted 1B Kendry Morales had quite a major league debut last night, going 3 for 5 with a two run HR in Los Angeles Of Anaheim of Planet Earth’s 7-6 victory.

In light of the lofty heights scaled by young Kendry (above), could there possibly be a better time for the Mighty Ions to reunite and revise their classic homage to “Pedro Morales” (sung to the tune of the Dead Kennedys’ “California Uber Alles”) with a more contemporary hero in mind?

Your crazy minor league pitching performance of the past evening : Round Rock’s Phillip Brazilla, who hurled a complete game, one-hitter over the Dodgers’ Las Vegas affiliate, striking out 9 in the Express’ 8-0 win. Vegas have had their troubles on the road this season, and it seems to this observer that it’ll take some Tommy Lasorda accusations of anti-Americanism to shake them from their slumber.

Violence-loving reader Don Smith submits Sports Illustrated’s picks for the Top Ten Baseball Fights as eyeball-worthy, though it seems a shame Lenny Randle v. Frank Lucchesi (May 28, 1977) nor Darryl Strawberry vs. Keith Hernandez (March 14, 1987) made the list.

Indians Plan To Peddle Stadium Naming Rights

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 2:52 pm by

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes on the Indians’ hopes to raise oodles of loot by re-naming the Jake (or keeping it as-is).

There’s a chance Jacobs Field still could be Jacobs Field in 2007. Then again, it could be called National City Bank Park.

When Dick Jacobs sold the Indians to Larry Dolan, Jacobs retained naming rights through 2006 as part of the deal. Well, it’s 2006, and the Indians have been negotiating with several Cleveland businesses, including National City Bank, about putting their name on the ballpark at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.

Dennis Lehman, Indians executive vice president of business, said Jacobs has expressed an interest in keeping his family’s name on the ballpark.

“We’d love to keep it Jacobs Field,” Lehman said. “We’ve had some conversations with Mr. Jacobs, and he’s had some conversations with us.”

If a deal can’t be reached with Jacobs, Lehman says the Indians would like to sell the naming rights to a business with which they could form a partnership. He used the Philadelphia Phillies and Citizens Bank as an example.

Surely I’m not the only concerned reader who thinks The Crocus Coliseum is a far more fetching name for the venue?

At the Metrodome this afternoon, Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia has stuck out 7 over 8 scoreless innings, as the Indians lead the Twins, 11-0. Casey Blake has hit a pair of HR’s, and Brad Radke looked very much ready for a change of scenery (ie. somewhere other than a baseball field).

The Cubs are on their way to dropping to ten games under .500, as they trail the Marlins 9-3. Always nice to be swept by a team with a $15 million payroll, especially when Dontrelle Willis didn’t start any of the 3 games. Greg Maddux (6 runs, 8 hits over 6 innings) is about to lose his 4th straight, which makes this as good a time as any to announce that contract extension for Dusty Baker.

The Sultan Of Surly doesn’t feature in the Giants’ starting lineup against the Cardinals today, which is just as well, as he’ll need the extra time to record additional commentary tracks for the DVD version of (the just cancelled) “Bonds On Bonds.” However, if lovers of day baseball are looking for a target they can unleash all of their frustrations upon, Scott Spiezo is playing left field for St. Louis.

Patrick & Olbermann’s Bold Pick For Next NFL Commish

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 2:24 pm by

During their all-too brief one hour of togetherness on ESPN Radio earlier today, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann discussed the NFL’s rumored picks to succeed Paul Tagliabue. Noting reports that Condoleeza Rice and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are amongst the candidates, Patrick proposed former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

“…plenty of football experience on her resume,” observed Olbermann, “having played 6 years for the Steelers during the 1950′s.”

Blizzard Making Blowhard Runs Afoul Of Local Pennysaver

Posted in Basketball, non-sporting journalism at 1:40 pm by

The Austin American-Statesman’s Michael Corcoran has written some very nice things about CSTB, and that’s why it’s gonna hurt me worse than a Mellencamp Rock Block to publicly disagree with him.

Mavs owner-with-a-boner Mark Cuban was profiled in the Statesman on Monday by writer Chris Garcia. Cuban was less than flattered to be exposed as a protein bar-munching dimwit and pressed the “detonate” button on his laptop to say as much.

“Easily the worst interview i have ever done, Cuban started. œI guess i forgot to tell you about going to the dentist to finish my crowns after the season. What the (expletive) was that about.”

Corcoran surmised,

You would think Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would have more on his mind the afternoon of the biggest- and most exciting- game in franchise history. Or maybe his way of blowing off tension is dashing off ridiculous e-mails to journalists who™ve written about him.

Why is it when a public figure of the major or minor league variety (in this case, one who has made a name for himself by sending out more electronic pest messages than Christopher X. Brodeur and pokerjoel combined) decides to defend his or herself from something written in a public forum, the rejoinder is often something like “you’d think John Wayne Gacy would be too busy french-kissing Rosalynn Carter to bother writing ‘lil old me.” What the heck else is a Grade-A self-obsessive like Mark Cuban gonna be worried about on a Monday afternoon? Surely he wasn’t profiled because he’s got all kinds of fascinating things to say about the Kinks or tuna sandwiches? He’s a celebrity, and if the newspapers were satisfied interviewing the quiet, reserved, no-ego owners of the NBA who have something substantial to offer culturally, well, they’d have picked someone else.

The Cold Blooded Humor Of John Paxson

Posted in Basketball at 10:15 am by


(surely Bryan Colangelo is aware that Andrea Bargnani will require a bigger jersey?)

After a night of ping pong in which the Toronto Raptors’ long term prospects look awfully rosey (no. 1 overall selection in ’06, tons of cap room, etc.), Bulls GM John Paxson revealed himself to be a master of sarcasm.  From the New York Times’ Howard Beck.

Asked by the ESPN anchor Dan Patrick, who emceed the lottery, whether he would trade the pick to get Eddy Curry back, Paxson said, “We’re happy to be here, so I’m not touching that one.”

The Knicks have been criticized for not placing conditions on, or “protecting,” the first-round pick in case it ended up high in the draft. Teams rarely trade first-round picks without some sort of lottery protection.

But Paxson confirmed what the Knicks had been quietly saying ” that the Bulls would not accept any conditions. “It would have been a deal breaker,” Paxson said.

He declined to say whether Curry would one day validate the Knicks’ decision but said, “Eddy’s a very good basketball player, a very good center in this league, and I’m sure that over time the Knicks will be very happy.”

Houston Scribe Stumps For Biggio

Posted in Baseball at 9:57 am by

Perhaps forgetting that once upon a time, there were journalists who thought Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmiero were solid citizens, the Houston Chronicle’s John Lopez rushes to the defense of the Astros’ Craig Biggio.

I think I can speak with as much knowledge about Biggio’s history as anyone who is not a teammate, friend or family member.

What makes him perform at a remarkable level? You cannot find it in a bottle, cream or syringe.

David Wells’ recent drive-by potshot at Biggio was about as idiotic as anything I’ve heard in a while. Wells intimated that Biggio should be mentioned in steroid discussions.

When you’re around a ballplayer or team, you will over time hear dirty little secrets here and there. That’s how stories get broken. A writer is tipped on something, follows up, finds facts or sources who can go on the record, and then, bam, there’s the BALCO investigation or whatnot.

Biggio has in the past taken creatine and other legal, over-the-counter supplements. Every athlete does. But not once in his 19 seasons has any other implication been made or reported.

If you really want to know why Biggio would never risk his reputation and legacy, look at one of his other character traits: He’s ultra-conscious of his image.

He carefully chooses every word he says publicly. He never makes any appearance or does any endorsement without carefully studying the effect it might have on his star value. He likes to be in control of everything around him that could affect how he’s perceived.

You think Biggio would associate with scumbag personal “trainers” or dabble in illegal or improper supplements?

On an unrelated note, just when did walking out of a Pirates game require an explanation? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette’s Bob Smizik has reached the astonishing conclusion that the Bucs’ miserable performances the past few years aren’t down to managers old (Lloyd McClendon) or new (Jim Tracy), but rather, “the reason for the team’s poor play is poor players.”

Tony Massarotti posed the following question in his Herald bloggity blog ; What was Manny Ramirez thinking when he showboated during an admittedly colossal home run in the seventh inning? (You™d think it was the man™s first home run), a theme echoed by the Daily News’ Sam Borden.

Oilers On The Brink…Of A Beer Emergency

Posted in Hockey at 9:25 am by

(oblivious to the sudsy shortage, Edmonton’s Rem Murray celebrates)

While the Edmonton Oilers are a mere game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals, CTV reports that crucial supplies are running low (link supplied by mmv tan who adds the story “might be apocyphal, judging from some of the pics on Covered In Oil, maybe not.”)

Managers of bars on Whyte Avenue, known as the Blue Mile during the hockey playoffs, have had to place emergency orders for beer.

John MacDonald, manager of Hudsons Tap House, sent his staff out to the local liquor store to replenish supplies on Sunday, when Edmonton beat Anaheim 3-1.

Liquor suppliers have also told him that it’s busier now than it is at Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year, the Edmonton Sun reported MacDonald as saying.

More than 10,000 fans were reportedly on Whyte Avenue on Sunday night, following the Oilers win against the Mighty Ducks. There were no reported instances of violence.

Oilers fans had previously made headlines for disturbances on Whyte Avenue. People have been stabbed, assaulted, and stores have been vandalized.

Premier Ralph Klein has asked fans to show some restraint.

“This is something to celebrate, not something that results in hooliganism,” the premier said.

I’d just like to say — and I’m being entirely serious here — that Alberta is a truly awesome place if they’d elect a premier named Ralph.

TSN is reporting the Bruins have offered their GM position to Nashville assistant Ray Shero, son of former Flyers coach Fred.

It Might Be Just A Tune-Up

Posted in Football at 12:29 am by

…but when you lose 1-0 to Morocco, that already impossible-to-justify no. 5 FIFA ranking  has the rest of the globe laughing.

Crystal Palace’s Clinton Morrison observed last week that Palace chairman Simon Jordan (above) “had a bit of a barney” with departed manager Iain Dowie. Jordan, always a lover of free expression (except when someone else is expressing it), replied thusly, as quoted by the BBC :

“Clinton needs to engage his brain before he opens his mouth.” “The problem is that he gets in front of a camera and forgets that he’s opened his mouth. But whether he is fined is between Clinton and myself.”

Jordan added: “He needs to learn when to speak and when to be quiet, and Clinton should not talk about people like Iain Dowie and myself.

“When he comes back from international duty with the Republic of Ireland, he will probably be given a kick up the backside.”

05.23.06

Cursing The Rubber Arm Of Ryan Madson

Posted in Baseball at 11:26 pm by

Mets 8 , Phillies 8 (top of the 15th)

While giving the Mets all the credit on earth for their resilience in coming back from a couple of deficits (the 2nd time on a Jose Reyes 2 run HR off his shoelaces of all things), Philly’s Ryan Madson is on the verge of redefining long relief. If this goes on much longer, we’ll see Tom Glavine pinch hitting.

Gary Cohen totally lost it when Cliff Floyd hit a line drive to center in the 14th, a ball that was a good 20 feet short of the warning track. I think somebody wants to go home.

Phillies third string catcher Chris Coste, 33, and just promoted from Scranton, has yet to play in a big league game. Madson has hit for himself twice already. As Cohen has pointed out more than once, if Coste can’t find his way into a 15 inning game, what’s it gonna take?

(UPDATE : Mets 9, Phillies 8 in 16. Carlos Beltran ends the marathon with a sick laser shot past the right field ‘pen, or as Jon Miller would’ve put it, “onto the streets of New York.” And with the conclusion of this marathon, we are officially spared any possibility of seeing Ron Darling in a rally cap._)

Repoz at Baseball Think Factory has an item tonight about the scout that signed Albert Pujols now stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. On the other hand, the guy also inked Braden Looper, so who’s to say karma isn’t at work. Pujols smacked HR no. 23 against the Giants earlier tonight (the Cards are ahead, 7-4, in the top of the 7th) and you have to figure by the time he’s hit number 90 they’ll stop pitching to him.

Apparently, Alex Rodriguez hits home runs that count, too.

The Royals managed to hit 4 HR’s off Detroit’s Kenny Rogers tonight, and they still lost. George Brett was on XM 175 earlier today and claimed that Allen Baird’s difficulty in improving K.C despite the increased payroll comes down to “nobody wants to play for a team that lost 100 games.” Doug Mientkiewicz is a nobody?

Bidding War Alert, Pt. XVI

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV, The World Of Entertainment at 6:38 pm by

Out of the 16 CSTB Bidding War Challengers thus far, Ryan Parker’s “This One Belongs To The Reds” (mp3) is the only one to name check Todd Benzinger. Submitted by Maura Johnston who adds, “I still think ‘The Team, The Time’ is worse.”

Michael Kay, while paying homage this evening to MLB’s current leader in doubles, Mike Lowell, pronounced that the Red Sox “were practically blackmailed” into taking the former Marlins third baseman as part of the Josh Beckett trade.

Lowell, coming off a horrible 2005 and possessing an onerous contract, might’ve been unwanted by Boston and probably every other club in the big leagues, but Kay really ought to reconsider the definition of “blackmail.”

The Marlins used the leverage on hand (Beckett), but to call their bargaining position “blackmail” isn’t merely hyperbole, it shows that Kay has no fundamental understanding of the word.

Moonies, Gray Lady Divided On Pujols

Posted in Baseball at 5:25 pm by

The New York Times’ Joe LaPointe declared the Cards’ Albert Pujols to be “Untainted and Unfazed”, while the Washington Times’ Dan Daly solemnly states “Numbers Bring Only Suspicion for Pujols.”

The Cardinals’ media guide lists Pujols at 6 feet 3 inches and 225 pounds. When he spoke Monday, he wore a sleeveless shirt that exposed muscular arms. But Pujols does not have the large head and oversized physique often associated with steroid use. – LaPointe

Our “national pastime” has become the Game That Can’t Be Trusted. Fans have a hard time deciding what’s real anymore. The media guide says Pujols was born Jan. 16, 1980, in the Dominican Republic, but we’ve all heard the jokes about Dominican birth certificates. He could just as easily have been born Jan. 19, 1680. (Which would really be a story.)

So when someone says Pujols has more home runs at this age (223) than Hank Aaron (219 by his 27th birthday) — and nearly twice as many as Barry Bonds (117) — we say, “What age would that be? Does even Albert know for sure? – Daly

Pujols said baseball’s policy of testing for steroids was a good thing.

“If you get tested positive, you’re not innocent,” Pujols said. “My testing is proving a lot. It’s working really good. They have a great program.” – LaPointe

The owners must think we’re dummies. They must think we’ll see all these balls landing in the seats — deposited there by players who have passed drug inspection — and say, “Maybe steroids weren’t the match that set off the home run explosion. Maybe it would have happened anyway.” Sorry, gents, but it’s too late for such revisionism. – Daly

Calling Alex Rodriguez’ two run HR off Keith Foulke last night, “the embodiment of a garbage time HR,” Newsday’s Ken Davidoff has a column today entitled “If It Doesn’t Count, Count On A-Rod.” On a slightly different tip, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd declared this morning that A-Rod was “the only person in American whose salary anyone complains about.” That should come as great relief to Carlos Beltran and Ken Lay.

A Rocco Baldelli Sighting!

Posted in Baseball at 2:43 pm by

Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll is one funny guy. Not only does he claim to have seen “one heck of a live show” from INXS (with or without the belt?) and refers to David Wells as “the media-savy lefty”, but he drops the following wisdom about the conditions of Rocco Baldelli and the Mets’ Brian Bannister.

Rocco Baldelli isn™t just a legend you read about in a Peter Gammons column a while ago. Baldelli is a real-life talented player–it™s just been a long time since he™s been healthy enough to show it. I always worry when a player who relies on his physical gifts gets injured. So many of them never learned how to work, and got by with poor fundamentals that the mere mortals couldn™t make a living with. Baldelli is starting his rehab assignment, and the Rays won™t rush him. Once Baldelli is ready, he™ll make a slow slide back to the outfield from DH, though he may go to right rather than center, with Jonny Gomes going to DH. All Baldelli has to do is prove that he can still play to belong on an increasingly talented Rays depth chart that includes Gomes, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, and Elijah Dukes.

There are conflicting reports on the Mets™ Brian Bannister. The Mets insist that the setback their rookie pitcher had during his rehab start was only just that, a setback. Another source, one who was admittedly not at Bannister™s start in Norfolk, told me that Bannister aggravated the hamstring. It remains to be seen which it is, though early indications give my source, normally a very good one, some further credibility. Bannister is going to be held back for a couple weeks to allow the hamstring to heal. At best, Bannister is now looking at coming back sometime in early June, with a mid-June return more likely.

MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone had the distinct misfortune of listening to WFAN’s Joe Benigno-Gazingo yesterday, a program that featured the planet’s no. 1 NY Jets obsessive dissing Billy Wagner to telephone guest Paul Lo Duca. Mr. 2001 Odyssey proved to be a yack radio natural with the following zinger :

I really wouldn™t worry about him. And, you know, we can always get Braden Looper back if you need him.

In addition to nailing Peter Gammons for the Hall Of Fame journalist’s failure to hold A-Rod’s feet to the fire (“he not only was condescending to discerning Yankee fans and other realists, whom he cast in the role of ingrates, but his spiel was ludicrous to all who watched the Shea edition of the 2006 Subway Series.”), The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman couldn’t resist the following shot at the appetite of Tom Terrific.

It sure looked as if Tom Seaver was in a hurry to split the Mets’ Ch. 11 booth after a cameo Friday night. When Gary Cohen asked The Franchise to stay another half-inning, Seaver said he was headed for Manhattan. And a four-star dinner, perhaps?

The Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch, certainly above wishing the Yankees any ill-will, notes the “replacement orgy” taking place surrounding the Bombers’ roster.

The Yankees have been crushed by a recent wave of injuries, including those to Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Shawn Chacon, Jorge Posada and Damon. For now, manager Joe Torre is customizing his lineup, while general manager Brian Cashman is going on a discount shopping spree for his Columbus roster.

When one Yankee veteran asked Monday afternoon, “Who’d we sign today?” the question was meant as half-joke, half-curiosity. The Yankee didn’t know how much the roster had morphed in the 24 hours after a 4-3 loss to the Mets on Sunday.

The answer said plenty about the Yankees’ fear of the Red Sox, not to mention their own vulnerability.

Why else would Cashman have loaded up on the declining Erubiel Durazo, Jason Romano and Richard Hidalgo in the last three days? Long, another journeyman, arrived on May 4 after being released by the Reds’ Class AAA affiliate. And Carlos Pena, a former rising star who worked his way down the ladder of success with the A’s and Tigers, has been at Class AAA Columbus for more than a month.

Torre concedes these “might seem like insignificant signings,” but the manager also points out that below-the-radar players such as Chacon, Wang and Aaron Small saved the Yankees in 2005. For that reason, Cashman now plays the waiver wire like a man trying to pay off his credit card by buying lottery tickets.

Griffin : Burnett’s Megadeal Could Be Riccardi’s Undoing

Posted in Baseball at 1:51 pm by

As pitcher A.J. Burnett continues to reside on the disabled list, the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin submits the decision to give the hurler with the not-quite-Hall of Fame credentials a boatload of Canadian cash could bring about an end to J.P. Riccardi’s stewardship of the Blue Jays.

The easiest way to understand the tremendous financial commitment that the Jays have with the 29-year-old Burnett is that from March 1, 2006, pretty much the start of training camp, through September 30, 2010, pretty much the end of his five year deal, there are 55 months. Burnett’s contract with the Jays, involves $55 million (all figures U.S.). You do the math.

At $1 million per month, this off-season’s most sought after free-agent starter has made two starts, logging a total of 10 innings. Here is what manager John Gibbons currently knows of his future availability.

“This week, at the end of the week, we’d like to get him on the mound in the bullpen,” Gibbons said. “He’s doing his workout program. I couldn’t tell you exactly what that is.”

If Burnett does, indeed, throw from a mound on Friday, equate that to the first day of spring training. It means it might take approximately 45 days before he’s ready to pitch in a major-league game. That scenario, barring further setbacks, would make the date of his return July 10, coincidentally the first day of the all-star break.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Doug Grow, noting that “from the Hennepin County Board to the Minnesota Legislature, women overwhelmingly said “no” to the plan that will result in the Minnesota Twins getting a new baseball park, thanks to a huge public subsidy”, received an earful from some of those female legislators.

Why do men and women see the deal so differently? Is it because as kids, we boys excluded the girls from our sunrise-to-sunset baseball games?

Rep. Mindy Greiling (above), DFL-Roseville, didn’t answer the questions directly. But she did say male domination set the legislative agenda — yet again.

“This whole session was boys and toys,” she said. “Kids and health, things that mature adults are concerned about, got shoved aside.”

As a flip-flopper on the stadium deal — after years of opposing public subsidy, I supported this plan — I’m a little sensitive to attacks on my maturity.

But that was just the beginning. Greiling questioned my morality, too.

“It’s not immoral to have a ballpark, if we have the other things that are more important,” she said. “But the stadium should only be a rose in the garden. The problem is, there’s no garden.”

More women in the Legislature would change the direction of government, Greiling said.

“There’s a Rutgers study that shows if women are 40 percent of an institution, they change the institution,” she said. “Less than 40 percent, the institution changes them.”

Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Koblick, a Republican, was even more disgusted about what she called “old, white, male power.”

“Women don’t turn politics into a game,” she said. “They take it seriously.”

Dempster, Ozzie Bury Hatchet Over Alleged Chompfest

Posted in Baseball at 1:16 pm by

When Ozzie’s involved, you had to know the action on the periphery of the Pierzynski/Barrett bust-up would be more entertaining than the fight itself.  From the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan and Dave Van Dyck.

After a long-distance war of words, Cubs reliever Ryan Dempster and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen apologized to each other, but neither was happy about how the misunderstanding occurred.

Dempster was visibly upset Monday night after reading Guillen’s afternoon criticism of comments attributed to Dempster during a morning appearance on WSCR-AM 670, although his anger was directed at WSCR morning host Mike North, not Guillen.

He claimed North “misquoted” him several times and left Guillen a phone message during Monday night’s Sox game against Oakland. Guillen replied with a message of his own.

“I appreciate he did call me to clear the air,” Guillen said. “It takes a big man to do that. It was my mistake that the information wasn’t what I thought. So, I apologize to Ryan.”

Why did Dempster believe it was North who relayed the quotes to Guillen?”I don’t know, he probably interviewed A.J. [Pierzynski],” Dempster said. “Because I know A.J. goes on with him. Stir the pot, man. Create the controversy. Keep it going for a month from now when we play ‘em.

The three statements Dempster said were attributed to him inaccurately were that Guillen’s kids were on the field during Saturday’s brawl, that Sox coach Joey Cora bit Jacque Jones and that he’d criticized Cora for taking part in the fight.

Needless to say Guillen had plenty to say about those supposed comments before being ejected in Monday’s game against Oakland.

“Somebody told me [Dempster] said Joey Cora bit Jacque Jones on the foot,” Guillen said. “Wow, when you’re in the ballgame, you have shoes on. If Joey Cora is going to bite somebody, I hope he’s not dumb enough to try and get his feet.

“If you’re going to bite him, bite him in his cheek, in the ribs or someplace else, in the stomach. But if you pick the foot, that’s the wrong place to bite somebody.”

And what about Ozzie Jr., Oney and Ozney?

“Well, if my kids were on the field, [Dempster] was going to get his butt kicked. What’s Ozzie [Jr.] going to do? Eat somebody? My other one is 20 pounds and the other one is only 14 [years old]. Ryan is stupid to make those comments. One is a baby, one is too little, another one [Ozzie Jr.], the only thing he can do is eat somebody or drink somebody.”

And what about coaches being involved in fights?

“Good thing he’s thought about it, because he keeps pitching like [he is], he might be coaching pretty soon,” Guillen said. “It’s a stupid comment.”

Dempster has been paid for a regular gig on North’s morning show for the last two seasons but said he would no longer be a contributor after Friday’s show

“Wonderful, beautiful guy Mike North, on the morning show, misquoted me three times,” he said. “And they wonder why people don’t do interviews.”

Snakes Stalking D-Train?

Posted in Baseball at 12:51 pm by

As long as the Mets continue to insist Lasting Milledge (0 for 5 in Norfolk’s 5-2 win over Richmond Sunday) isn’t going anywhere, their hopes for a veteran arm to take the 4th or 5th spot in the starting rotation probably won’t revolve around past Cy Young Award winners. Arizona, however, might have the requisite chips to play with, writes the East Valley Tribune’s Jack Magruder “And Loud”.

The Diamondbacks scouted Dontrelle Willis™ start against Atlanta last Tuesday and certainly would find the Marlins pitcher attractive as another young building block for the rotation, sources said Monday.

But the sources also were firm that there have been no trade discussions between the teams.

Florida owner Jeffrey Loria has said since the season began that Willis and Miguel Cabrera will not be traded.

Of course, things can change. Loria told Carlos Delgado last year he would not be traded, but Delgado was sent to the New York Mets in the offseason.

œIt hasn™t gotten to the point of, ˜This is what it would take,™ ™™ a source said, although another added œof all the scenarios, Arizona seems to be the most viable™™ because of its wealth of minor league talent.

The D-Backs™ minor league system is considered among the best in baseball, with hitting prospects such as Stephen Drew (above), Carlos Quentin, Chris Young, Chris Carter and Scott Hairston in Triple-A Tucson alone.

With Rob Bowen coming off the DL, Padres manager Bruce Bochy is actually discussing the possibility of Mike Piazza playing a game or two at first base. Apparently, they were too busy playing night games in San Diego a couple of years ago to catch the footage of Piazza’s Dick Stuart impersonations on “Baseball Tonight”.

In addition to reporting the Dodgers are suing an insurance company to recover a big chunk of Paul Shuey’s salary, the LA Times’ Bill Shaikin writes that reliever Eric Gagne should begin a rehab assignment with the PCL’s Las Vegas 51′s this weekend. The 51′s traveled are in CSTB’s ‘hood this week, and proceeded to tee off on recently demoted Astros P Esquivel Astascio, clobbering the Round Rock Express 12-3 on Monday, with Vegas C Edwin Bellorin hitting a pair of homers.

The Angels have called up 1B Kendry Morales, the 22 year old Cuban defector whom this correspondent was lucky enough to catch in his California League debut less than a year ago. Morales, who’d been hitting .318 with 5 HR’s and 29 RBI’s for the PCL’s Salt Lake Bees, will become the 7th Angels first baseman so far in ’06, writes the LA Times’ Mike DiGiovanna. The Oklahoma Redhawks probably wish said move had come a few days earlier, after Morales had gone 9 for 16 against them last weeken.

The junior portion of the Angels’ Wevie Stonder brothers, Jered Weaver, tossed a complete game shutout last night as Salt Lake defeated New Orleans, 9-0. Weaver ran his scoreless innings streak to 27 1/3 in the process.

Cassell : We Wanna Be The Jacksons

Posted in Basketball at 11:49 am by

…and not the “Victory” tour, being-hassled-by-Dave Marsh Jacksons, either, I’d imagine. The LA Times’ Bill Plaschke talks with Sam I’m Not (Playing Anymore) in the wake of the Clips being blown out in Phoenix.

Hopes were higher because, after 21 years of papering Los Angeles with losses ” only one winning season during that time ” these Clippers were different.

They were better than the Lakers during the regular season.

They were better than their first-round Denver Nuggets opponent.

And, face it, they were mostly better than the Suns in this series.

They had one game stolen from them when Cassell was benched for most of the fourth quarter. They lost another game despite leading by three points with 3.6 seconds remaining.

This final one wasn’t close. But this series was every bit of seven games close.

And now ¦

“We cannot be a one-shot wonder,” Cassell said. “We cannot be Milli Vanilli. We have to be the Jacksons.”

Mike Monroe, formerly of Hanoi Rocks and more recently of the San Antonio Express News, reports the Spurs’ Nick Van Exel has played his last NBA game.

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola describes Lame Duck Larry Brown’s Monday afternoon conducting predraft workouts for the Knicks as “absurd, confusing and somewhat sad. Even for the Knicks, the scene was particularly bizarre.” Not necessarily any worse than the regular season, though?

They did a great job of hiding whatever thing is going on,” said North Carolina forward David Noel, who was the star of the day, both during and after the workout. “So for the most part, we just went out there and worked out and they did a great job of working us out.”

Brown ran the workouts, barking instructions at the four NBA hopefuls. Brown had an instant connection with Noel – the Carolina fraternity – and Noel reported that Brown was upbeat and moved well for a 65-year-old man who had bladder surgery 10 days earlier.

Once Upon A Time…

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 1:02 am by

…people paid top dollar to sit in a hockey arena and listen to John Kruk play a bass solo.

So That’s Why They Call It The Juice Box…

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups, The Law at 12:01 am by


(though this isn’t the Bad Lieutenant described below, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find a photography of Harvey Keitel with his trousers on)

Or, if you’d prefer, as Repoz puts it, “this adds news meaning to the Olesen Twins.”

From Houston’s KHOU. (video, Windows Media Player required)

A Houston police lieutenant has been relieved of duty because of a misconduct allegation.

A fan claims he walked in on one man and two women having sex in a unisex bathroom at Minute Maid Park.

A baseball fan told 11 News that Lt. Jeffrey Olesen, an off-duty Houston police lieutenant was in a unisex bathroom, having sex with 2 women.

The fan, with a young child, apparently walked in on things and spotted the lieutenant’s firearm on the counter.  Fearing the women were being attacked, he called for help.

It turns out, sources said, the women were the lieutenant’s wife and his wife’s female friend.

We have also learned that the 14-year veteran has four sustained IAD complaints for misconduct, improper police procedure and behavior issues.