Ben Schwartz On The Cubs, The Tribune Co. And Obscure Art Films

Posted in Baseball at 2:23 pm by

Ben writes,

The Tribune has declared it’s own ‘buyback’ program of its stock a major success, and despite the urging of major shareholders in LA (who most likely have been taking their financial advice from my posts here) to sell the Cubs, the Trib has chosen to keep them and base it’s new financial structure on pissing me off. As far as buyback plans go, I just finished watching Batman Begins in which Bruce Wayne pulls the same move on his own corrupt company and it proved devastatingly effective. I advise anyone wanting more info on money matters to watch this movie.

As far as the Trib™s most profitable product this year, the Cubs are currently downsizing their win column with another losing streak. What™s news is that Jim Hendry is now refusing to say whether or not Dusty Baker will be managing the second half of the season. And like other Republican organizations these days, Hendry and the Trib Co. refuse to use a timetable.

Today at Wrigley, Carlos Marmol has held the Brewers scoreless through 4, as the Cubs lead, 1-0, courtesy of a Juan Pierre solo HR off Dave Bush in the 3rd.

MLB’s Hallion Auditions For FIFA Gig

Posted in Baseball, Hockey at 2:11 pm by

A hotly disputed (OK, blown fair or foul call by umpire Tom Hallion in Texas’ 5-3 loss to San Francisco last night sticks in the craw of the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s Jan Hubbard.

If the Rangers miss the playoffs by one game, or lose the division title by one game, they will look back at the night of June 27 with even more anger than they felt Tuesday.

If it’s any consolation, Texas will probably miss playoffs by more than one game.

SportsTicker is reporting the NHL’s Rangers and Islanders are in negotiations to play a January 1, 2007 game at Yankee Stadium.  I guess it’s never too cold outside to boo A-Rod.

Chien-Ming Wang and John Smoltz are currently dueling at the Stadium, with the Braves holding a 2-1 advantage in the top of the 7th.  Following a nifty Andy Phillips scoop of a low Derek Jeter throw from deep in the hole between 3rd and short, Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez praised Jeter….for thanking Philips.

“So many professional athletes today,” intoned Thorne, “…I’m thinking of the NBA in particular, because it drives me nuts…guys make great passes, great assists….never acknowledged.  A guy goes in, slams it, never points to the guy who set him up, there’s no ‘hey, nice play, I appreciate it.’…it’s part of being a good teammate.”

Indeed, the next time someone argues that Jeter is a sucky shortstop, just quote Gary Thorne and cite the Captain’s sense of etiquette.

Johan Santana has allowed pair of doubles and one walk this afternoon against the Dodgers, as the Twins lead, 6-0. Joe Mauer has a pair of hits (single, double, one RBI) and his batting average stands at a ridiculous .392.  That said, Minnesota are unlikely to gain ground on the AL Central-leading Tigers, who are currently up, 5-0 over the Astros after 7 innings. Closing in on his 10th win, Justin Verlander has struck out 7 and given up just a pair of singles and a Jason Lane double.

D’Alessandro’s Mock Draft

Posted in Basketball at 12:23 pm by

From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro…and I’m only listing 1-5, read the rest yourself.

1. Toronto, LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas : Most refined big in the field, but a deal remains very possible.

2. Chicago, Tyrus Thomas, LSU : Bulls’ chance to get bigger, tougher and upwardly mobile.

3. Charlotte, Rudy Gay (above), UConn : Perfect fit with young frontcourt; may be the best player in draft.

4. Portland, Adam Morrison, Gonzaga : No way he gets past this point. Wait ’til they find out he can’t defend.

5. Atlanta, Shelden Williams, Duke : Another year goes by without a point guard. Adds muscle, though.

With all due respect to D’Allessandro, I’m pretty sure the Blazers know about Morrison’s D. But I still suspect they’ll grab him if he’s available.

D’Alessandro has Bragnanni slipping all the way to the Rockets at no. 8, and predicts the Spartans’ Shannon Brown and ‘Nova’s Kyle Lowry will still be around when the Nets make their picks at 22 and 23.

On behalf of all white basketball players with tremendous flair and a crap work ethic, I’d like to nominate Basketbawful for sensitivity training.

In the event, however unlikely, that Phoenix sends Shawn Marion and their no. 21 pick to Seattle for Rashard Lewis, Danny Fortson and the no. 10 pick, here’s something for Suns fans to remember Shawn by :

The Morning Journal’s Bob Finnan pours cold water on the first round pretensions of Texas’ Daniel Gibson.

One NBA source said he’d be shocked if the Cavaliers took Texas point guard Daniel Gibson with th 25th pick.

”He’s not a first-rounder in anyone’s mind,”
the source said. ”There was some question whether he was going to stay in the draft. The world could be wrong and the Cavs could be right. Maybe the rest of the league is missing the boat?

”If you get a player of any ilk in this draft, you’re OK. Gibson (above) is barely 6-foot-1. That would be really out of the box.”

If Gibson was picked with the Cavaliers’ 42nd overall pick, that would make more sense.

Sell The Knicks.com Has Your Wednesday Afternoon & Evening All Planned

Posted in Basketball at 11:47 am by

Don’t these folks have anything better to do than harrass a struggling musician?

(J.D., Joey Welz was just on the phone. He wants his persona back)

While the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett portrays the Celtics in hot pursuit of Allen Iverson and Sebastain Telfair (the latter being obtained from Portland in exchange for tonight’s no. 7 overall pick and Dan Dickau), the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith has Charlotte and Memphis both in the mix for A.I.

The Washington Post’s Ivan Carter hints the Wizards — sitting on the 18th and 48th picks, might be interested in Milwaukee’s Jamal Magliore.  The Bucks will enter this evening’s festivities without a first round selection.

There’s no truth to the rumor the above video was compiled and uploaded by someone with a stake in Andrea Bargnani or Tyrus Thomas being picked no.1 by Toronto.

Because You Don’t Hear The Word “Geico” Nearly Often Enough

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, The Marketplace at 11:16 am by

Amazing no one has thought of this previously. From the Boston Globe’s Sasha Talcott.

The owner of radio stations WEEI and WRKO, fresh from signing one of Major League Baseball’s most expensive radio rights deals, has found a way to get some money back: selling naming rights to the Red Sox radio network.

“We’ll be right back on the WEEI/WRKO (Your Company Name) Red Sox Radio Network,” proclaims promotional material for the deal. Entercom Communications Corp., parent of the two stations, plans to mail out requests for proposals to 25 top advertisers this week to gauge their interest in the five-year agreement.

The asking price: several million dollars a year.

The naming rights sale comes shortly after Entercom won a contentious bidding process for the right to air Red Sox games. Under the company’s new rights deal, estimated to cost about $13 million to $14 million a year, games will be split between WRKO and WEEI starting next season. The idea to sell naming rights came from the Sox during negotiations, said Kahn, the Entercom executive.

Entercom executives are promoting the deal as the last big naming rights opportunity in Boston sports. The Patriots’ home, Gillette Stadium, already has a name, while the Celtics’ and Bruins’ arena was recently renamed TD Banknorth Garden.

“We really believe this is an ocean front real estate opportunity,” Kahn said.

Rubin : Floyd’s Not On The Block

Posted in Baseball at 11:06 am by

Despite the emergence of crossdressing sensation Lastings Milledge, the Mets are reluctant to deal Cliff Floyd, currently in the last year of his NY contract, writes the Daily News’ Adam Rubin.

The Tigers recently inquired about the availability of Cliff Floyd, but were told the outfielder was not being traded, according to two baseball officials.

Floyd has been on the disabled list for three weeks with a sprained left ankle, but could return this weekend against the Yankees. After homering as a DH on Monday, he was scheduled to play the outfield last night for the first time with the Gulf Coast League Mets, but the game was rained out. GM Omar Minaya expected Floyd to at least miss the Red Sox series. “One game is not going to cut it,” Minaya said.

The Mets haven’t made a final determination about which player to demote when Floyd is activated, but the plan seems to remain returning Lastings Milledge to Triple-A Norfolk. The Mets finish a nine-game stretch with the DH this weekend at Yankee Stadium, and Minaya is committed to Floyd and Xavier Nady as his left and right fielders, respectively.

I’ll say as little about last night’s game at Fenway as possible other than Alay Soler was dreadful…and Jose Reyes might think twice in the future about challenging Manny Ramirez’ arm, green-light or not. Not that Reyes will have many opportunities to consider it, but for all of Manny’s ballyhooed concentration problems, he’s fairly adept at making such a routine play (ie. throwing out a baserunner who hasn’t even reached third by the time Ramirez has picked up the ball in shallow left).

The Globe’s Bob Ryan would like to see Pedro Martinez receive a warm welcome on his return to the mound at Fenway this evening.

A boo? Someone would be obtuse enough to boo Pedro Martínez when he returns to Fenway Park as a Mets starter tonight? Say it isn’t so.

“You can’t possibly want to boo this guy,” proclaims Gehrig38, a regular contributor to the Sons of Sam Horn website. “What you got a chance to see included three of the most dominating seasons in baseball history.”

“Gehrig38,” as many of you know, answers to the real-life name of Curt Schilling.

Boo Pedro Martínez? Why? Because he left town? Because he may have sworn allegiance to the Red Sox and the city of Boston before he discovered that, when push came to shove, the Mets offered him a much better contract? Anyone who is bothered by that needs to get over it. It’s the 21st century. Business happens.

Taking Kurt Rambis’ Name In Vain

Posted in Basketball, Video Games at 1:13 am by

I don’t know if Electronic Arts will sell one extra copy of NBA Live ’07 on the back of their Adam Morrison commericals. Perhaps Gillette would’ve had more luck. But the publisher could’ve done far worse considering there’s actually conversation taking place about a game that isn’t out for another 3 months.

Wal-Mart’s UK Supermarket Seeks To Fuck Up Figo

Posted in Football at 12:40 am by

In advance of Portugal v. England, you can file this one under lame stunts. From the Mirror.

ASDA wants to sign Portuguese striker Luis Figo for its advertising campaign – in the hope its injury jinx will strike a third time.

The supermarket saw Wayne Rooney get hurt after signing him up for ads, then his stand-in Michael Owen was sent home from Germany injured. A straw poll in Asda’s offices found Figo was the Portugese player most likely to score against England.

Asda’s Nick Agarwal said: “We want him to do some nice publicity shots and get injured in training. Nothing too serious. We are speaking to Figo’s agent at the moment.”

(the gent on the right would like to stress “we’re not playing basketball”)

Either you saw France’s old guard come back from a goal down yesterday against Spain or you didn’t. I mean, it’s too late to sort that one out, much to Luis Aragones’ chagrin (and I don’t think Saturday’s rematch between the 1998 finalists is going to turn out well for Zindane and Vieira). But it’s never too late to scoff at terrible commentary by ill-informed, biased mouthbreathers with little insight to share.

But enough about Marcelo Balboa, apparently they’ve got problems on Chinese TV, too. From the Times’ Tom Dart.

The Associated Press reports that Huang Jianxiang, commentating on Italy v Australia for Chinese television, certainly had no qualms with the penalty award in the 93rd minute.

He is quoted as saying: “Penalty! Penalty! Penalty! Grosso’s done it, Grosso’s done it! The great Italian left back! He succeeded in the glorious traditions of Italy! Facchetti, Cabrini and Maldini, their souls are infused in him at this moment! Grosso represents the long history and traditions of Italian soccer, he’s not fighting alone at this moment! He’s not alone!”

And after Francesco Totti scored…

“Goooooal! Game over! Italy win! Beat the Australians! They do not fall in front of Hiddink again! Italy the great! Left back the great! Happy birthday to Maldini! Forza Italia! The victory belongs to Italy, to Grosso, to Cannavaro, to Zambrotta, to Buffon, to Maldini, to everyone who loves Italian soccer!

“Hiddink … lost all his courage faced with Italian history and traditions … He finally reaped fruits which he had sown! They should go home. They don’t need to go as far away as Australia as most of them are living in Europe. Farewell!”


There’s An Intense Battle Taking Place At Great American Ballpark…

Posted in Baseball at 9:46 pm by

…to see which closer can suck like crazy more, Todd Coffey or Ambiorix Burgos.

Would you have wagered a week ago that A.J. Burnett would prove to be a more valuable mid-season addition than Roger Clemens? Granted, Burnett isn’t being paid like a mid-season addition (then again, neither is the Rocket).

No Surprise Dept. : Pittsburgh, losers of 12 straight, are doing their best to out-lousy the Cubs in the race to determine the NL Central’s Worst.

A Real Surprise : After pounding Scott Kazmir tonight, The Fish are only a half game behind the Phillies.

Despite my increased senility, I am aware, by the way, that the Brewers/Cubs game (tied at 4 in the bottom of the 8th), is not, in fact, an interleague encounter. But I am wondering who ought to be more embarassed, Zach Jackson for serving up a two run homer to Carlos Zambrano, or the Oklahoma duo of Lee and Bukvich for allowing Round Rock’s Alan Zinter to homer from both sides of the plate last night. It’s 2006, gentlemen. Matt Stairs. Alan Zinter. Pull yourselves together!

Marchman : Reyes’ Recent Tear Is No Fluke

Posted in Baseball at 7:36 pm by

Describing Jose Reyes’ explosion of late as “not a hot streak; this is one of the brightest young talents in baseball becoming a superstar,” the New York Sun’s Andrew Marchman pays the Mets shortstop the ultimate compliment. If your name is Michael Kay.

The hitter we saw up until two weeks ago – a .250 hitter with solid line-drive power and excellent speed, taking a walk two or three times a week – was a very good one, and given that Reyes turned 23 a few weeks ago, his performance was the kind you could project toward a Hall of Fame career along the lines of Roberto Alomar Jr.’s.

What happened to turn Reyes into Alomar, rather than a player you could see developing into Alomar? He figured out how to hit a curveball, and the league hasn’t figured that out yet. When word gets around, he’ll come back to earth, but I expect his current numbers (.302 AVG/.361 OBA/..495 SLG) are a lot closer to what you can expect out of him going forward than the .246/.315/.407 line he was sporting before his hitting streak began. We’re not only seeing a quantum leap forward in his development, but a sustainable one.

This wasn’t inevitable, but now that it’s happened, Reyes’s prospects have become unbelievably bright. Before this season, Reyes had a better chance of turning into Garry Templeton than Alan Trammell; having demonstrated that he can play at this level, precisely the opposite is now true. It’s something like what happened to David Wright last year, when he went from a first-tier prospect to a player on a clear Hall of Fame career path. (That Wright has since improved is a subject for another day; what he’s doing this year may be even more unlikely than what Reyes is doing.) To put it another way, salary considerations aside, I not only wouldn’t trade Reyes for Derek Jeter straight-up, I would laugh at the idea. His numbers will go down, but Jose Reyes has arrived.

Besides a first inning walk to Carlos Beltran (subsequently caught leaning the wrong way) and a 2nd inning solo HR allowed to Carlos Delgado, Boston’s Jon Lester has looked awfully sharp against the Mets, as Boston leads 3-1 through 3 innings. Alay Soler, having already thrown 72 pitches, seems destined for an early shower. Or, a long night stinking up the dugout, depending on how much hot water is available in the visitors’ clubhouse at Fenway.

Baseball Crank is taking the analytical approach to Jose Valentin’s unlikely career revival. Amazingly, no one has bothered to investigate my theory on the matter.

Philadelphia’s Brett Myers is going on extended Wife Beater Break. During Myers’ hiatus, he’s expected to be spending more time with his family…which should work out just fine just so long as A CERTAIN SOMEONE LEARNS WHEN TO SHUT THE HELL UP.

The Mets placed Jeff Keppinger on the Temporarily Inactive List last Friday. I’m not sure if that is better or worse than extended Wife Beater Break, but it doesn’t sound very promising.

Gammons Hospitalized

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 5:25 pm by

During NESN’s pregame report, hyping tonight’s Mets/Red Sox meeting, the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes confirmed that Peter Gammons is undergoing medical treatment. Earlier, NESN had claimed Gammons had suffered an anyeurism.

The frequent Buffalo Tom jokes from this corner aside, here’s wishing Gammons the fastest possible recovery.

Dodger Dog Pioneer Perishes, Seo Banished From The National League

Posted in Baseball, Food at 3:43 pm by

(’tis a day of mourning for many)

From the AP’s Jeff Wilson :

Thomas Gregory Arthur, the baseball stadium concessionaire whose foot-long Nathan’s knockoff came up short and became the beloved Dodger Dog, has died. He was 84.

Arthur died of a heart attack on June 8 in St. Louis, his son Steve said Tuesday.

The former New Yorker came up with a foot-long hot dog – borrowed from his favorite Nathan’s dogs – to put excitement into the ballpark menu when the team moved from the Coliseum to Dodger Stadium in 1962.

“He called it the foot-long dog, but it was actually only 10 inches. It was before truth in advertising, but he decided to call them Dodger Dogs,” his son said.

“It was our staple,” his son said, adding, “100 percent of the people who came to the ballpark had a Dodger Dog. It was pretty popular. Vincent Price was a big baseball fan and he put it in his cook book back then.”

As noted in an earlier post, the weiners so beloved by Mr. Price are now under the control of the Hormel company.

In other Dodger news, LA have sent former Met Jae Seo and catcher Dioner Navarro to Tampa Bay in exchange for P Mark Hendrickson (above) and C Toby Hall. You can color Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Wiseman less-than-blown-away.

The fear about acquiring Seo was that his 2005 performance was a fluke. There should be an even greater fear that Mark Hendrickson’s 2006 performance is the same.

In the meantime, trading catcher Dioner Navarro for catcher Toby Hall is a clear damning of Navarro’s future by the Dodgers. Though he perhaps will give Dodger manager Grady Little the confidence to rest Russell Martin an extra day each week, Toby Hall isn’t a win-now or win-for-the-future player. No backup catcher is. Maybe Navarro deserves that evaluation, but I think there’s considerable doubt, considering how much time he has to develop.

On top of it all, the Dodgers have taken on additional salary (although they are getting some cash from Tampa Bay) and are throwing in a player to be named later. The transaction just doesn’t make sense to me.

Dodger general manager Ned Colletti’s best work on the pitching staff have been the acquisitions of players who didn’t look that hot – Aaron Sele and Takashi Saito. The favorable return was unlikely, but investment was appropriate. He seems to do better when staying away from the flavor of the month, which is all Hendrickson appears to be.

’86 Red Sox Absolve Buckner, Neglect To Trash McNamara

Posted in Baseball at 3:25 pm by

The Red Sox plan to honor their 1986 AL Championship team with some sort of pregame ceremony before tonight’s tilt with the Mets. I’m fairly sure Mookie Wilson wasn’t invited, but apparently, Bill Buckner won’t be there, either. From the Providence Journal’s Steven Krasner.

Several members of the 1986 team were on hand last night, after the Red Sox’ marathon 8-7, 12-inning victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Those players were Oil Can Boyd, LaSchelle Tarver, Dave Stapleton, Jim Rice, Bruce Hurst, Marty Barrett,
Wade Boggs, Ed Romero, Steve Crawford, Pat Dodson, Joe Sambito and Tim Lollar, along with coach Joe Morgan and general manager Lou Gorman.

“We fooled everyone,” said Rice. “We went out and played good baseball.”

“We had great team camaraderie,” said Stapleton. “That 1986 season was special.”

Last night, they made it a point to take Buckner off the hook. Buckner elected not to attend the reunion.

“The biggest thing that bothers me is all the blame on Buck,” said Stapleton, echoing a theme brought up unsolicited by Boggs and Boyd. “He had a great career. He was one of the main reasons we even got that far that season.”

“He was our Big Papi,” said Boggs, referring to Boston’s clutch-hitting David Ortiz.

Boyd, meanwhile, says his irritation at being bypassed for Game Seven in favor of Bruce Hurst didn’t last long.

“I was a winner. I wanted to win. At the time I felt like I could go out and (beat the Mets). I felt like I was a guy who rose to the occasion,” said Boyd. “But at the same time they handed the ball to Bruce, and that was all right. He had already beaten them twice.”

Arena Rot : Blaming MLS?

Posted in Football at 2:51 pm by

From the AP :

Four years ago, U.S. coach Arena lauded Major League Soccer as a reason for the Americans’ run to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Now, some think he’s trying to blame the 11-year-old league for a first-round exit from Germany 2006 .

“I think it’s ridiculous,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said. “If I were him I’d take a deep breath and think about what I say before I criticize anyone in American soccer.”

Six months after the 1998 showing, fired coach Steve Sampson blamed MLS for the failure, saying veteran players who left their European and Mexican clubs to come home for the start of MLS two years earlier had become “soft.”

While not identifying MLS, Arena’s comments in the past several days strike many in the American league the same way.

“And the way for us to get our players to get better is: We do need to get more of our younger talented players in Europe,” said Arena, who won two of the first three titles in MLS with D.C. United. “We need them in a year-round soccer environment. We need them playing in more intense games to help develop them mentally, as well as soccerwise.”

In a subsequent interview with ESPN on Monday, Arena, a member of MLS’ strategic technnical committee, said specifically he was not blaming the league. Others believe he was suggesting it was inadequate.

“The reality to so many out there is that coaching the U.S. national team is the easiest job on the planet,” said U.S. national team alltime scoring leader Eric Wynalda, now an analyst for ABC/ESPN. “You do have a league that provides you with a great team. For him to be so arrogant, to not recognize that fact. …The one thing his agent said as the reason that he should have the job was because of his success in MLS.”
Wynalda, who played in Germany from 1992-1996 and spent six years in MLS, put the blame for the U.S. failures squarely on Arena.

“He can take a team to a certain level, but he has no idea where the next level is,” Wynalda said. “How much does he know about playing in Europe, other than having a hot dog and a beer in the stands? Hearsay? Does he talk to the players? That’s justification to know? Has he ever coached there and have that pressure? No. Sorry, I’m just pointing out the obvious.”

It’s hard to pick which individual quoted above is the least sympathetic character.  I don’t think Arena’s remarks are outrageous, but DaMarcus Beasley has played in a Champions League semi-final.  Somehow, that in and of itself wasn’t great preperation for this World Cup.

If Wynalda is offended by the notion that playing in Europe is a higher echelon of competition compared to the MLS, maybe he should have a word with Freddy Adu, who used his 5 Good Minutes on PTI last week to state he wants to sign with a European club side as soon as possible.  If a 16 year old who isn’t even close to the domestic league’s best player (and didn’t make Arena’s US team) is worried about his development (if not earning power) being stunted in MLS, it is hardly arrogant for others to wonder aloud whether the league has made any impact.

Spain have taken a 1-0 lead over France, courtesy of David Villa’s 28th minute penalty kick. Moments prior, Lillan Thuram brought down Pablo — how dumb would you have to be to not hit the floor dramatically in this competition?

No one has pointed out the incredible resemblance between Fabien Barthez and Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer. And I’m already sorry I’ve done so.

The Times is reporting that Juventus general manager Gianluca Pessotto (above) was badly injured following an attempted suicide leap. Pessotto jumped from his office window, bounced off one car and landed on another. No word on the condition of the cars, nor can we confirm the rumor that Isiah Thomas has asked to be moved to a higher floor.

Snuff Video Craze Comes To MSG

Posted in Basketball at 1:06 pm by

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir on the New York Knicks’ clumsy attempts at dealing with the Fourth Estate.

Here’s the drill at Madison Square Garden:

If you have good news, like the coronation of Larry Brown as the Knicks’ coach last year, let all the credentialed members of the news media attend a Garden news conference and fill them with fresh cold cuts from the Carnegie Deli.

¢If you expect to fire Brown but refuse to say anything until you are ready, you have your security forces summon police officers in Greenburgh, N.Y. Reporters wanting to interview Brown are then threatened with arrest if they don’t leave the parking lot of the team’s practice facility.

Then, if you have bad news, like firing Brown and replacing him with Isiah Thomas, first issue a news release (Thursday’s strategy), then invite seven newspaper reporters who regularly cover the Knicks, including The New York Times’; The Associated Press; and your own MSG Network to 2 Penn Plaza (yesterday’s plan), but keep out all other writers and television reporters.

Len Berman, the sports anchor for Channel 4, was displeased at being left out. “By excluding portions of the media,” he said, “it’s telling fans to take a hike, which is what they’ve been doing for years with the teams they’ve put on the floor.”

Berman’s producer complained to the National Basketball Association. Berman added, “I’m not a fan of managed news.”

Miami Scribe Thinks Of Ways To Get Juan Pierre Off The Cubs’ Hands

Posted in Baseball at 11:58 am by

Along with unfortunate references to Green Day and U2, the South Florida Sentinel’s Mike Bernadino hails the young Marlins (“what Joe Girardi’s boys have done over the past five weeks has been nothing short of remarkable”) and proposes what would’ve been unthinkable just a few weeks ago — Jeffrey Loria should increase the payroll!

Despite using 20 rookies, these Marlins have pulled within 6½ games of the wild card. By comparison, the 2003 Marlins were 4½ games from the wild card when they made the epic July trade for Ugie Urbina.

I’m not saying they are one deal away from winning their third World Series. But it is intriguing to consider what they might be able to accomplish with a few choice additions to an impressive young core.

Of the eight teams ahead of the Marlins in the wild-card standings, just two have better run differentials. And the Padres (plus-9) and Giants (plus-5) were hardly blowing away the Marlins (plus-3).

America hasn’t seen this much mediocrity under one heading since the Backstreet Boys’ farewell tour.

This is also the first year of testing for amphetamines, which means youth should be served even more than usual once the dog days arrive.

There’s also the Marlins’ farm system, which is rolling out top arms the way Honda does hybrids. Yankee-killer Anibal Sanchez is the latest, and more are on the way.

But first, the Marlins should step up their search for an upgrade in center field, where their production ranks 13th in the league and they recently passed on Joey Gathright after an earlier flirtation.

So far the Marlins have used rookies Reggie Abercrombie and Eric Reed out there. They have used utility infielder Alfredo Amezaga, bless his heart.

For some reason they have not used slugging Joe Borchard, who came up through the White Sox system as a center fielder and said Monday he is “very comfortable” at the position.

Lately, they have started throwing Jeremy Hermida, a natural right fielder, into the mix. On Monday’s second pitch, Hermida and right fielder Cody Ross let a Julio Lugo fly ball drop between them for a double.

You know who might have caught that ball? Juan Pierre, that’s who.

Yeah, I know, he’s having a horrible season for the Cubs. And, yes, he is making $5.75 million as he straggles toward free agency.

But once the Cubs decide to pack it in, the Marlins should consider taking Pierre off their hands. They won’t have to give back Ricky Nolasco, and they might even get the Cubs to pay the bulk of the remaining money.

The Astros may be souring on Willy Tavares. Luis Matos is buried on the Orioles bench. And if Choo Freeman keeps improving in Colorado, maybe the Rockies would talk about speedy Cory Sullivan.

Calling for the firing of Dusty Baker, saying the Cubs manager “accepts no blame for a Cubs team headed toward its first 100-loss season since 1966″, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Chris DeLuca is struck by the lack of accountability.

Big-money managers earn their paychecks by guiding teams through troubled times. Baker has spent the last two months quietly complaining about the loss of Lee and pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, bemoaning on a regular basis, ”I just want my team back.”

It seems that would send a message that Baker can’t win with the 25 healthy players remaining. That kind of talk is counterproductive when trying to motivate players.

”No, I don’t think that sends a message,” Baker said. ”The players who are there aren’t Derrek Lee. The young pitchers that are there, they realize they are not Mark Prior or Kerry Wood yet. I don’t think that sends a bad message. That’s an honest message. It’s no slight against them.”

But it’s ridiculous to blame the Cubs’ collapse on the loss of one position player — albeit the reigning National League batting champ — and two pitchers who have a history of injury problems. Even the Florida Marlins, with 15 rookies and a payroll less than $15 million, have a better record than Baker’s Cubs.
Meanwhile, broadcaster Bob Brenly, who guided the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series championship in 2001, has stepped up his on-air criticism of Baker. A year ago, Brenly seemed terrified to say anything that would upset the overly touchy Cubs brass.

”I don’t have a response,” Baker said. ”Bob is doing his job. That’s what he sees.”

If Brenly is doing his job, what is Baker doing?

”We’re not playing well, for whatever reasons, but no alibis, no excuses,” Baker said. ”We just have to get it done, simple as that. Please, no more ‘Are you getting fired?’ questions.”

If Any Contenders Need A B-12 Shot, The Orioles Are Ready To Talk

Posted in Baseball at 11:41 am by

The Washington Post’s Jorge Aranague Jr. claims Baltimore might be eager to trade SS Miguel Tejada.

A player of Tejada’s caliber is rarely dealt at midseason, though one high-ranking team source said Baltimore has already received several inquiries about the 2005 all-star, who is hitting .312 with 16 home runs. The club, according to another Orioles source, would ask for a major league pitcher as part of any package for Tejada.

“If the return is right — two to three pieces that could be core [major league] players quickly, I think they would have to consider it,” said an executive for one American League team. “The reality, however, is that deals like that are not often out there and they would need to be sure they were right on the guys they bet on.”

Those who have spoken to Tejada recently about the subject said he is happy and does not want to be traded. But Orioles executives and Manager Sam Perlozzo have met several times, though not in the past month, to discuss how to deal with Tejada’s tardiness in arriving for games.

One team source said Baltimore has tried to fine Tejada, but those fines have been ignored. The source said it was possible team officials had not pushed Tejada to pay the fines or disciplined Tejada publicly because they did not want to risk alienating him or hurting his trade value.

“I can’t remember the last time I heard anything about it at all,” Orioles Executive Vice President Mike Flanagan said. “Sometimes this business of being late is a matter of interpretation.”

Flanagan said Duquette spoke with Tejada on Sunday and “felt really good” about the conversation. But Tejada arrived at 12:10 p.m. for Sunday’s 1:35 game against the Washington Nationals.

Several team sources said they have noticed Tejada sulking some of late, perhaps stemming from his name being linked to the investigation into an affidavit from former Oriole Jason Grimsley, which appears to link several of his ex-teammates to the use of amphetamines and perhaps other substances. (The names in the affidavit have been redacted.) Since it became public on June 7, Tejada is hitting just .236 (17 for 72).

With little to celebrate besides Jason Bay leading all NL outfielders in All-Star Game balloting, Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy confirms “we’ve fallen on hard times”, though crushes the hopes of many in denying rumors he’s planning to sell the club. Though not denying them very convincingly. From the Pittsburgh Tribune’s Joe Rutter.

For about a year, speculation has persisted that the franchise would be sold — or McClatchy would jettison his stake in the team — after the Pirates hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 11.

With that date fast approaching — and with the Nutting family’s purchase of Seven Springs Resort becoming public earlier this month — the rumors have intensified. One possibility is for the Nuttings to buy out McClatchy, who spearheaded the most recent ownership change in 1996.

Pressed further on the subject, McClatchy did indicate he would explore his options later in the season.

“I’m going to look at it as we get to the end of the year,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the job and all that. We’ll take a look at it. Right now, we’ve got an All-Star Game coming here. That’s all I care about. That’s where all of my focus is now, making sure we put on the best All-Star Game for the city of Pittsburgh. That’s what we’re working on.”

While most of us were too busy laughing at the oft-replayed meltdown of Ashville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik from this past Sunday night, Bad Altitude’s Mark Donohue took the time to fully analyze the performance.

1) Hat toss
2) Headfirst slide into base at which contested play took place
3) Removal from moorings of base
4) Toss (underhand style) of base
5) Kicking dirt on home plate
6) Kneeling down and using hands to complete covering of home with dirt
7) Chucking of several bats onto field from dugout
8) Return to field from dugout to empty water bottle on home plate
9) Blown kiss to umpire
10) Crouching behind home catcher-style into grand finale spike of water bottle

Mikulik managed to accomplish all of the above while never actually making physical contact with any of the umpires. Watch his body control between 1 and 2 and then again after 10. The Rockies organization should be proud to call this guy one of their own, and be careful to make sure he’s not snatched up by an offer of a higher-level job somewhere else.

Straw Probably Doesn’t Have Doug Sisk On Speed-Dial, Either

Posted in Baseball at 11:06 am by

With the Mets hitting Fenway tonight, memories of the 1986 World Series will be thrown around as casually as MVP trophies for Spike Owen.  Ailing backup backstop Ed Hearn, traded to Kansas City for David Cone in 1987, speaks with the Newark Star-Ledger’s Kevin Manahan.

Diagnosed in 1991 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease, Hearn has endured three kidney transplants and two bouts with cancer. He often needs the aid of a breathing machine and takes more than 50 types of medication daily in his home in Lenexa, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

Tonight, when the three-game series starts in Boston, he will watch the crawl on ESPN, look for a score and feel a pang as the forgotten Met. He hopes this will be an excuse for someone to call.

“I’m doing good for how I feel,” Hearn said from his home. “Twenty years? Heck, it feels like it’s been 40. I hope the next 20 years aren’t as tough as the last 20 years. But somebody has to take the bullets and I was chosen.

“It would be great to hear from an old teammate. It would be great for someone to pick up the phone and say, ‘Ed, how are you doing, man?’ But life moves on. And I know there are a lot of guys on that team who wouldn’t ever give a hoot.”

For all their grittiness, the 1986 Mets, Hearn says, really weren’t that tight. They were 25 guys committed to winning, but driven mostly by individual statistics and the lure of a big contract. When the team dissolved, so did a lot of the friendships.
“I see guys at card shows, guys who were very tight when they played together, and they’re hugging each other and saying, ‘Hey, man, I haven’t talked to you in 10 years!’ How does that happen?” Hearn said. “How can you be close to someone and let them drift out of your life like that?

“But I figure, ‘Hey, if they were really close and they haven’t spoken in years, then I can’t take it personally that no one has called me.’ I was a rookie. I wasn’t a main cog. I was traded the next year.”

“I’ve had flash points in my life when I’ve thought, ‘Why me?’ I’m not going to lie,” Hearn said. “I’m human. I’ve gone through it all — cancer, kidney transplants, dialysis. And I’ve done it multiple times. Any man would start to question why he had to endure so much.”

And when he watched the sports world congratulate former teammates Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden each time they screwed up and saved themselves, only to fail again, Hearn wondered about justice. But that never stopped him from leaving supportive messages for Strawberry and Gooden. Neither ever called back.

Owner Fred Wilpon helped Hearn before his first kidney transplant, but that was about the only contact he has had from the Mets, he said.

“I’ve watched guys get second, third and fourth chances, when people have bent over backwards for guys who have screwed up over and over again, and I’ve been very bitter,” he said. “I mean, I’ve fought just to stay alive. Nobody gave me million-dollar contracts. Nobody gave me jobs. Nobody has given me anything, really.”

Without wishing to diminish Hearn’s plight, it should be pointed out that he had a further two seasons of big league service time with the Royals after leaving the Mets.  Whether or not Hearn’s bitterness towards old teammates is limited to those that actually won something, isn’t mentioned.

The Struggle To Find Something Nice To Say About James Dolan

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 1:08 am by

OK, I’ll try this :

Despite having more money than God, Dolan is classy enough not to upstage Al Trautwig by turning up for an interview looking any better than your average homeless person. Mark Cuban looks like he shops at Target? No problem, Dolan can go much further downmarket, if need be.

Giambi Shows Hudson The Bronx

Posted in Baseball at 12:01 am by

Yankees 5, Braves 2

(Yankee fans salute Jason’s campaign to win the Comeback From Comeback Player Of The Year Award)

Though most of tomorrow’s accounts of this contest will center on Randy Johnson’s scoreless 7 innings of work (4 hits, no walks, 9 K’s), Jason Giambi’s ownership of Tim Hudson (2 HR’s, 5 RBI’s) is the 2nd most obvious storyline. Jason could tell Tim a thing or two about the toll NYC nightlife can take on a World Class Athlete. Nothing he wouldn’t already know, however.

(another afternoon game against the Phillies, same old Papi)
Hey, Jonathan Papelbon blew a save today. The good news is that Keith Foulke doesn’t want to talk about it. The bad news for the Phillies is that they wasted a wild comeback at Fenway by refusing to walk David Ortiz with Kevin Youkilis on 2nd base representing the winning run in the bottom of the 12th. It’s going to take more than a shift to stop Ortiz, though perhaps sneaking a 9th or 10th position player onto the field might be a good idea.

The Twins’ 8-2 thumping of the Dodgers — a strong outing for Carlos Silva (8 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, no walks) — provides us with the following factoids to mull over ;

* – Joe Mauer (4 hits, 5 RBI’s) raised his average to an All-Universe .377. If he’s not the AL’s starting catcher in Pittsburgh, perhaps the NL can draft him.

* – Minnesota has won 15 out of their last 17. During that stretch, they’ve narrowed Detroit’s 11 1/2 game lead to uh, 11 games.

I-Rod’s 3 RBI night — including a 7th inning HR off Wandy Rodriguez — paced the Tigers in their 10-4 obliteration of the Astros, a game that featured Lance Berkman (above left) and Phil Garner being tossed. Arguing over whether or not flag football is a legitimate sport is kind of unseemly.

Congrats to the busy Beavers of Oregon State on capturing their first College World Series title, courtesy of tonight’s 3-2 win over North Carolina. Red Sox first round pick Daniel Bard (7 2/3′rds innings, 2 K’s, 3 runs, 6 hits) took the loss for the Tar Heels, and was victimized by a Bryan Steed throwing error that allowed OSU’s Bill Rowe to score the winning run in the bottom of the 8th. Kevin Gunderson earned the save for Oregon State retiring both batters he faced with the tying and winning runs on 3rd and first. Gunderson had already pitched 5 and 1/3 innings in OSU’s Game Two victory on Sunday.

While the esteemed members of SABR are planning on attending a Rockies/Mariners game this weekend, the hapless Screech is reduced to dragging the more desperate members of his readership to a July 3 game featuring the Florida Marlins. I’ve got to admit, this might be one of his more original ideas.

My own anti-social calendar isn’t nearly as packed — mostly on the advice of a qualified mental health care professional. That said, I’ll be at Yankee Stadium this coming Friday and Saturday, and the beers are on me. That’s usually what happens when I wear a Mets hat into the building.


Rattled By The Rush : Limp Dick Blowhard (Mc)Nabbed For ‘Script Sloppiness

Posted in Hate Fuck Radio, The Law at 9:50 pm by

Nothing to add really, just a cheap excuse for the above headline, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, etc.

My Junk Mail Filter Is Fired

Posted in Basketball at 8:02 pm by

For a moment I thought Al Trautwig needed my bank account information for a major wire transfer from Nigeria.

Dear Gerard,

Tonight at 10 PM…. Catch an in-depth interview with Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan and Knicks President Isiah Thomas discussing Isiah’s new role as coach and the future of the franchise.

Don’t miss Al Trautwig’s exclusive interview… Tonight at 10 PM… Only on MSG SportsDesk.

Though I’m sure Newsday’ Greg Logan would be very intimidated at the thought of his interviewing technique being compared to that of Al Trautwig, the former tried just the same, to sit through a Dolan press conference with a straight face earlier today.

“It’s my contention Larry never intended to coach this team beyond this season,” Dolan said Monday in a meeting with six Knicks beat writers and The Associated Press. Holding one hand about 18 inches above a conference table, Dolan added, “If there’s any doubt about that, there’s a stack of evidence that high.”

>Reviewing the decision he made to hire Brown at the behest of team president Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden sports operation head Steve Mills, Dolan admitted, “We made a mistake.”

If anyone pays, it will be Thomas, who was ordered by Dolan to succeed Brown as coach and given an ultimatum to right the ship in one season or follow Brown out the door. “This is his team; he made this bed,” Dolan said of Thomas, who is responsible for bringing in every player on the 15-man roster. “There’s no one better than him to make this go forward. If I can say there has been significant progress after one year, he’ll be here. If we can’t say that, he will not be here.”

As of 8pm, the much ballyhooed A.I.-to-Boston deal is supposedly, not happening. A shame, too. This could’ve done wonders for WEEI’s ratings during the wintertime, regardless of how the Patriots do.

America’s Crowning Achievement

Posted in Food, Medical Science at 7:23 pm by

As a proud American, I think it is very important — particularly during wartime — to concentrate on the good things about this land of ours. So what if we crashed out of the World Cup? Who cares if the likes of Larry Brown and Buck Martinez can’t lead our national teams to greater heights in sports we actually invented? Big fucking deal if the only things that differentiate our President from a vegetable are the facts that vegetables a) aren’t nearly as duplicitous and b) don’t do nearly as much blow.

Not only is America a land of Burgers A Plenty, but we’re swimming in such a rich river of consumer products, we’ve got burgers made of marshmallows.

You can take Naismith’s peach basket, jazz, the automobile, the Salk vaccine, genome research, etc., and keep every one of ‘em. I’ll take the Mallow Burger. FUCK OFF, Linus Pauling, let us know when you’ve come up with something nearly as astonishing.

Unimpressive Azzurri Make The Final 8

Posted in Football at 5:43 pm by

Italy 1, Australia 0 (FT)

(Fabio Grosso makes a meal of it, and not an appetizing one, either)

93 minutes in and you can look at Lucas Neill’s decisive trip (above) one of two ways ;

a) you can’t possibly put yourself into such a position where a penalty might be called at that moment, especially for such a soft challenge

b) not since Chevy Chase picked up the pain killer addiction has anyone so carefully fallen over themselves as Fabio Grosso.

The first half of this match had a strangely Princetonian basketball vibe to it. Only without the precision or innumerable references to back-doors.

I’m pretty certain the massive exposure afforded to Giorgio Chinaglia this week is going to make him the Shelby Lyman of 2006.

Despite Shevchenko missing the first of his side’s penalty kicks after extra time, the Ukraine have advanced, putting 3 past Switzerland’s Pascal Zuberbuehle, while Oleksandr Shovkovsky provided the goalmouth heroics.

There’s no (head) but(t)s about it ; Luis Figo will be available to face England on Saturday, despite raising the ire of Nick Stone.

Having already advocated the employ of video replay, the Guardian’s Sean Ingle found Portugal/Holland to be “a cynical fandango of cheating, skulduggery and rampant play-acting.”

At this rate, the World Cup final – one of the great events in any sport – will be played between two reserve teams. That can’t be right.

Immediately after Portugal’s victory, Blatter played the blame game, saying: “I consider that the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. There could have been a yellow card for the referee.”

He should be looking closer to home. Last night’s farce was largely of his making.

Yes, the referee made some mistakes – missing Luis Figo’s head-butt, for one. But generally he applied Fifa’s pre-tournament directives on foul play, unsporting conduct and timewasting to the letter. He was only obeying orders. Blatter’s orders.

U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu’s poor performance in the World Cup is said to have put Middlesbrough off their plans to acquire the defender.

Former Duke hoops starlet Brian Davis (above) and Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks are reportedly in talks to purchase DC United from Anschutz Entertainment. Since neither have been accused of barbecuing a dog, this sounds like a safe move for community and the MLS alike.

Snakes Invite Duran To Toss First Pitch

Posted in Baseball, Boxing at 2:24 pm by

In which the Diamondbacks, having already demonstrated rock-headedness in the signing of Russ Ortiz and handling of the Jason Grimsley situation, have invited the Hands Of Stone to Chase Field. (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)

5 time World Champion Roberto Duran played little league baseball and has always had a great passion for the sport. He considers himself a big league fan, flattered for this invitation to participate in the Diamondbacks pre game festivities. “I’ve got a strong arm, the catcher better be ready,” stated Duran.

Said ceremony will take place Wednesday night before a meeting with the Mariners. It seems a shame this couldn’t have waited for the Dodgers to come to town — the long awaited Nomar / No Mas photo opportunity could’ve finally taken place.