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.”