08.24.06

Green Looks Forward To Making It Harder To Pitch Around Jose Valentin

Posted in Baseball at 1:20 am by

Newly acquired RF Shawn Green will make his Mets debut Thursday night, and he’s already saying all the right things. You know, making excuses for his plummeting production. From the New York Times’ Ben Shipgel.

Green said that all of the rumors surrounding his fate had weighed on him. He attributed his struggles in August ” .208 average and five runs batted in ” to that uncertainty. The Diamondbacks counted on Green to be one of their top run producers, and he should be more comfortable as a complementary piece with the Mets. Leave the slugging to the Carloses and let Green, who will probably bat sixth between David Wright and José Valentín, get on base and hit to the opposite field.

œIt™s not like I™m going to come there and be the answer, Green said. œThey obviously have a great mix. I™m just going to go there to be a piece of the puzzle and help out when I can in September and October.

Green, who won a Gold Glove in 1999, has decent range and a respectable throwing arm. Manager Willie Randolph reiterated yesterday that Green would start most games in right field, cutting into Lastings Milledge™s playing time.

Considering how much the Mets owe him next season, Green figures to begin next season as the starting right fielder, too, meaning that Milledge would be shifted to left field to replace Floyd. Floyd is finishing his four-year deal, and the Mets would prefer letting Milledge develop and share time with Endy Chávez.

œI don™t find anything negative about this for me, Milledge said. œWe™re just trying to win. He™s a great addition ” I mean, he™s Shawn Green ” and I™m looking forward to picking his brain.

As baseball™s most prominent Jewish player, Green said the opportunity to continue his career in New York was another factor that persuaded him to agree to the trade.

œIt™s something that™s always intrigued me, Green said. œNew York is head and shoulders the largest Jewish population in the country, if not the world, and it will be an interesting and fun experience for me. I™m looking forward to being part of the Jewish community there.

Amongst those bullish on the Green deal is The Eddie Kranepool Society’s Steve Keane, who has a bone to pick with the Hardball Times’ Bryan Tao.

What we are looking at is October baseball and so is Omar. In fact with this move and the rumblings of Minaya trying to get Moises Alou, it seems to me Minaya is looking at the World Series and the 4 games in the AL park with the DH. If Minaya lands Alou you would have a choice of playing either Alou, Floyd or Green at DH with the other two in the outfield with Carlos Beltran. So you need a defensive replacement late in the game, then you insert Endy Chavez. What™s wrong with that? Oh I know these players don™t have high OPS™ or their EQA is low and of course they have negative VORP and please don™t even mention the Range Factor of their defense! Let™s not take into account that they are solid veteran major league players who when the game is on the line will have balls of steel from playing in pressure situations their whole adult lives. See you can™t find a pair of balls in a computer.

Many adults with interesting browser histories would beg to differ, Steve.

Aldridge, VY Health Scares, Pats Collect Musket Dough

Posted in Basketball, Gridiron at 12:49 am by

Call it the curse of Guys-Who-Left UT early. F LaMarcus Aldrige, the no. 2 overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, will miss the start of Portland’s 2006-07 season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.

In Nashville, Titans’ top pick QB Vince Young suffered a bruised right hand after his right hand hit a teammate’s helmet in practice. Afterwards, LenDale White denied spitting on the helmet.

Former University Of Memphis pitcher Stephen Gostkowski (above) has apparently won the New England kicking job. No word yet from Gostkowski or his teammates on Pats’ flagship WBCN airing spots for Smith & Wesson during N.E. games, a story covered by the Boston Herald’s Jessica Heslam.

The 30-second spot is set to music and ends with the message, œVisit Smith-Wesson.com to learn more about handgun safety and to find a dealer near you.

The ad touts the company™s gun safety locks and brags, œAmerican-made Smith & Wesson products are used by major law enforcement and military agencies.

œIt™s great they™re promoting gun safety. It™s a little odd to me that they™re trying to sell guns during a football game, said John Rosenthal, founder of the Massachusetts group Stop Handgun Violence. œFootball, beer and guns don™t mix.

Supply your own McAfee Coliseum joke, I’m sleepy.

08.23.06

Arthur “Not Now, Gnohere”, Ineligible

Posted in Baseball at 9:57 pm by

Sam Hunt, perhaps unimpressed by the 2 solo HR’s from Joe “Even Jesus Hates” Crede in Chicago’s 7-5 win over Detroit, provides a link to a very, very long list of Bermanisms.

Especially nice are the inclusion of explanations. ‘Cuz you’d never know what Mark “Bay City” Woehlers was in reference to, otherwise.

SNY’s Gary Cohen is officially excommunicated from the CSTB Church Of The Culturally Aware on account of being able to ID Sandfrog. I’m an open-minded guy, but a line has to be drawn.

Happy 48th Birthday, Julio Franco!

Posted in Baseball at 8:34 pm by

All smiles for the Mets’ 1B/pinch-hitter, at least until he finds out the cake was baked by Mrs. Jeff Wilpon.

Congratulations are also due to the Mets’ Chris Woodward. Rebounding from the humilating masturbation episode in last week’s “Entourage” (if not the humilation of having to act alongside Ed Burns), Woodward a ) shaved and b) slapped a 3 run double to left after Mark Mulder intentionally walked David Wright.

The Mets are up, 10-6 in the 6th inning. I thought about taking a picture of Chris Cotter sitting in with 1964 : The Tribute, but it’s a borrowed camera and I don’t want to break it. (Note to Keith Hernandez : Pete Best was a drummer).

Pearlman’s Open Letter To The Sultan Of Surly

Posted in Baseball at 6:19 pm by

Having already entertained us to no end with “The Bad Guys Won”, then following his Mets tome with the Barry Bonds bio, “Love Me, Hate Me”, author Jeff Pearlman has embraced his greatest challenge : convincing the Sultan to ‘fess up. From ESPN’s Page 2 :

Barry Bonds is an evil man. A truly evil man. As a husband, he has cheated on both his wives. As a father, he has been absent and indifferent. As a role model, he has spit at autograph seekers and directed kids to “f— off.” As a Giant, he has held a franchise hostage and refused to help teammates in need. As a blatant abuser of steroids and human growth hormone, he has deprived the game of integrity and turned its record books into mush. For all of those transgressions (and the 1,241,971 others I’m leaving out), Bonds deserves to reincarnate as Buddy Biancalana. In drag.

Amazingly, things have become significantly worse. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters responsible for “Game of Shadows,” are doomed to go to jail if they refuse to spill the beans on the source of Bonds’ leaked grand jury testimony. In other words, they will be locked up for presenting the world with the truth about baseball’s biggest fraud; about a man willing to pass Willie Mays and Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron by any (illegal) means necessary. Perhaps the two scribes will share a cell with Greg Anderson, Bonds’ personal trainer, who — as a reward for being the slugger’s longtime friend — had also served time for refusing to speak, and is facing more.

I am not writing this column to sell books. I’m writing it to tell Barry Bonds — to beg Barry Bonds — to finally do something selfless and righteous:

Come clean.

Heck, your reputation is already dead; your Hall of Fame candidacy as listless as a Hall & Oates chat room. Why not at least preserve some dignity by stepping up and doing your best to keep three men — one who has dedicated his life to you, two others who have dedicated their lives to bringing you down — out of prison?

I’m a great admirer of Pearlman’s work, and I eagerly await his public pleas to Mark McGwire and Brady Anderson.

Bonds had a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored in SF’s 7-6 defeat of Arizona earlier today. Armando Benitez earned the save, pitching a perfect ninth the afternoon after he was yanked an out away from finishing off the Snakes Tuesday night.

American Unrelated To Ricky Williams ‘Fesses Up To CFL Fixation

Posted in Gridiron at 4:53 pm by

Writes Jon Solomon,

Kevan Barlow may have apologized for comparing Mike Nolan to Hitler, but when will Toronto Argonauts coach Pinball Clemons apologize for the following quote?

“Maybe we should just call him The Man or maybe Superman because I hear he’s better than the movie.”

I am not sure if Damon Allen (above) is better than Superman, but I am fairly positive he is better than The Man.

Ben Schwartz Wonders, “Is Wrigley Field Made Of Concrete?”

Posted in Baseball at 3:52 pm by

(Ryan O’Malley’s Baron Von Raschke impersonation fails to intimidate the Phillies)

Writes Ben,

And I don’t mean the upper deck concrete hitting fans on the head, I mean the actual grass. With Izturis and O’Malley both injured, this moves Dusty from complaining that he’s never been able to field his A-list team to complaining that he can’t even field a B team. Is there anyone in Iowa left who can play baseball besides the ghost of Shoeless Joe and Kevin Costner? Did the Cubs just trade a Hall of Fame hometown favorite for a hamstrung Carlos Izturis? Or might that have something to do with dropping Maddux’s paycheck (along with hundreds of other Trib employees) in the last quarter?

As to the hate mail Dusty’s been getting — can Sammy Sosa write in English?

Majewskigate To Generate Grievance, Further Blot On Bowden C.V.

Posted in Baseball at 12:33 pm by

The notion of two baseball teams fighting over Gary Majewski is only slightly less improbable than two women fighting over Eric Mangini.  Then again, when the fight comes down to neither team wanting Majewski (link from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Fay), perhaps the comparison is more apt.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Gold reports on Bill Clinton’s visit to the Cardinals clubhouse last night, where presumably, the former Leader Of The Free World compared notes with Tony La Russa on covering shit up.

Surveying the Ted Lilly/John Gibbons flap, the Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins wonders “who’d want to play here?”

If you were a free agent in waiting, looking on from afar, what would you see? First you see the general manager, speaking out of frustration, rather mildly chide his players for underperforming a few weeks back. J.P. Ricciardi didn’t say anything particularly flammable, but some of his players took great offence and were in a snit. There was some candy-ass reaction there.

Then came the Shea Hillenbrand dust-up, the manager in there scrapping or at least offering to scrap, a sorry situation during which someone scratched what turned out to be highly prophetic words on to the clubhouse bulletin board: “This ship is sinking.”

The team went into the tank shortly afterward, after which the GM gave away a reasonably productive player (Eric Hinske) to a team ahead of the Jays in the standing for nothing immediate in return, then suggested the Jays still were serious about contending.

Fans of the Pollyanna persuasion might buy it, but players can see through this kind of nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with pulling the plug on a season and planning for next year, but don’t pee in everyone’s ears and tell them it’s raining.

Agent / Sex Pest Busted, No More Interviews With Nixon

Posted in Hockey, The Law at 12:14 pm by

Though the strange saga of former NHL player agent David Frost has been mentioned a few times in this space, it would seem there’s even more shocking revelations. Apparently, you can sexually exploit children without ever once encountering the New York Times’ Kurt Eichenwald.

From the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

David Frost (above), the former NHL agent who was once the target of a foiled U.S. murder-for-hire plot hatched by one of his star players, woke up this morning in jail on charges that he sexually exploited four boys and three girls, aged 14 to 16, across a six-year period ending in 2001.

The disgraced coach and mentor-turned-NHL-agent for onetime big leaguers like Mike Danton and Sheldon Keefe, laughed off the allegations in 2004 when the Ottawa Citizen first reported news about the sex exploitation probe.

Earlier this summer, Frost, 39, told the paper the Ontario Provincial Police investigation was winding down, that they had nothing on him and soon everyone would know that the probe yielded no charges.

But that’s not the case. In fact, Frost was arrested in Kingston, Ont., Tuesday afternoon outside the Juice nightclub, his latest business venture. He was arrested by uniformed officers and plainclothes detectives who had literally travelled the world to interview scores of his former players, including Junior A players, AHL players and a few NHLers.

Top detectives allege Frost used his position of trust and authority to sexually exploit teenage boys and girls, and have charged him with 12 counts of sexual exploitation and an assault that allegedly happened in Deseronto, Ont., where he coached the Quinte Hawks in the 1996-97 season.

Calling Frost “a professional denier”, the Hockey News’ Adam Proteau seems ready to throw away the key.

David Frost is best at denials. He might have had some success turning young men into elite hockey players, but repeatedly rejecting the long list of accusations leveled against him nearly everywhere he™s been, that™s where the man truly excels.

Was he the target of a murder-for-hire plot hatched by Mike Danton, his most high-profile protégé? Nope. Did he control his most valued players by distancing them both physically and emotionally from their parents? Not him. Was he still involved in junior hockey circles long after he said he™d left the scene? Also incorrect.

Did he forge player-release forms, as the Metro Toronto Hockey League alleged in 1996 when they suspended him? Wrong guy. Did he punch one of his own players in the mouth in 1997 when he was an assistant coach with an Ontario-based junior team? No again. (Actually, Frost denied it at first, but later pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from the incident.)

You see? Up until now, Frost has really just been misunderstood and unfairly persecuted. The world is against him, for reasons he™s never been able to fully explain.Ontario police wouldn’t say if the alleged victims were somehow involved in hockey, but there is really no need to say it. Anyone remotely involved knows David Frost™s life is hockey. Winning hockey games is all the 40-year-old cares about, as he has made perfectly clear in his win-at-all-costs style of coaching.

It was that style that earned Frost some measure of esteem in the hockey community, including a prized position as an NHLPA-certified player agent, and the cache that came with being a FOBG (Friend of Bob Goodenow). And because he was good at his job, because he produced a few elite-level players, people were willing to ignore the rumors.

Kevan Barlow Enjoys The History Channel

Posted in Gridiron at 11:55 am by

Newly acquired Jets RB Kevan Barlow’s fond farewell to 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan, as quoted in today’s ContraCosta Times by Cam Inman.

“Nolan just doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s a first-time head coach with too much power,” Barlow said via cell phone from New York. “He has too much power as a first-time head coach. He walks around with a chip on his shoulder, like he’s a dictator, like he’s Hitler. People are scared of him. If it ain’t Nolan’s way, it’s the highway.”

Two phone calls later, Barlow softened his stance and blamed some of his statements on the emotional whirlwind he endured the previous 48 hours.

“I was kind of harsh on him, saying he’s a dictator. That’s bad. Saddam Hussein is a dictator,” Barlow said some three hours after his initial call. “I was speaking on emotion. … My world’s been (upended) in the past (48) hours.”

I have no doubts Barlow will be impressed by the calm, rational ways of first-time head coach Eric Mangini, who has already delighted tv viewers in the millions with his character, “Chubbsy”, in the Capitol One commericals alongside David Spade.

Marchman : Fire Gibby

Posted in Baseball at 2:06 am by

Though he doesn’t go as far as recalling Spree’s chokefest ala Rebuilding Year’s Josh, The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman demands that “any manager who not only helms an expensive, underperforming ballclub but gets into two separate physical confrontations with players should get the boot.”

One is free to suppose that Gibbons (above) might have, say, chased Lilly down into the tunnel to talk about muffin recipes, tripped, and fallen on his face, thus bloodying his nose. Even so, one would have to find it a bit curious that in this situation, Gibbons found it difficult to get his starter to give him the ball. Who’s heard of such a thing? And what kind of manager chases a player into a tunnel and grabs him, even if it’s only to let him know before he hits the shower that Mrs. Lilly’s suggestion to add a touch of vanilla when making banana-nut muffins was a hit around the Gibbons household?

This is, of course, fresh off last month’s incident in which Gibbons challenged Jays infielder Shea Hillenbrand to a fight after finding out he’d written “The ship is sinking” on a clubhouse blackboard.”He had a chance yesterday to defend himself in front of his coaches and his teammates. He chose not to,” Gibbons told reporters the day after the incident, which ended up in Hillenbrand being traded to San Francisco.

Who talks like this? Gibbons is a grown man. Baseball isn’t law or medicine, and you certainly hold baseball managers to a different standard than the one to which you’d hold, say, newspaper editors, but challenging a subordinate to a fistfight in front of your staff and his fellow employees is just about most immature behavior imaginable. It’s the sort of thing only someone who knows he deserves no respect whatsoever does.

The King & His Court

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 12:54 am by

The most exciting few minutes of Jerry Lawler’s life?

08.22.06

Beltran’s Bomb, Izzy Stradlin’

Posted in Baseball at 10:50 pm by

Mets 8, Cards 7

Almost as inspiring as the Mets coming back from a 7-1 deficit was Keith Hernandez managing to work a Just For Men plug into a Bill Clinton sighting.

Not nearly as suave was SNY’s Chris Cotter, insisting to Carlos Beltran (above) that Jason Isringhausen (9 blown saves in ’06) is one of the top closers in the game. Which game might that be?

Though the Mets have reliquished Evan MacLane in exchange for Shawn Green, Newsday’s David Lennon reports that New York’s financial burden won’t be nearly as brutal as previously feared.

The final hurdle was Green’s salary, and the Mets pushed Arizona to pick up nearly half of his contract, which the D-Backs ultimately did in sending $6 million along with Green. From a financial standpoint, it helped the Mets that they included MacLane, a decent 23-year-old prospect who was 9-8 with a 3.86 ERA in 20 starts for the Tides.

Green has been on a steady decline since 2001, when he established career highs with 49 home runs and 125 RBI for the Dodgers. This season, he was batting .283 with 11 homers and 51 RBI for the Diamondbacks, but the Mets are hoping that he will benefit from being surrounded by one of the best lineups in baseball. Green is most likely to be slotted sixth, behind David Wright, at least until Floyd returns from the disabled list.

“He’s going to be my rightfielder,” manager Willie Randolph said. “He’s not having a typical Shawn Green year, but maybe a change of scenery will be good for him. It was an outstanding pickup by Omar.”

Minaya said yesterday that the trade was not insurance for the injured Floyd, but it makes sense to hedge against the possibility that he may not be back any time soon. Floyd has yet to play in a rehab game in Port St. Lucie, and the Mets don’t have a timetable for his return, regardless of Minaya’s optimism.

The Endy Chavez Fan Club can be assured their man will continue to see playing time…as a defensive replacement for Green. Would the 5th or 6th inning be too soon?

(ADDENDUM : Victor Diaz was designated for assignment today. Much as we’d love to see Diaz catch on somewhere he totally fell off a cliff in ’06. Surely Howard Johnson is blameless).
Reds 14, Astros 0

Round Rock Express alumni Jason Hirsh was throttled tonight by Cincy, the Reds’ 8 run 3rd inning matching their biggest single-frame outburst of the year. Adam Dunn and Scott Hatteberg each hit 3 run HR’s, and Kyle Lohse (above, 8 IP, 4 hits, no runs) didn’t look like the pitcher that couldn’t keep his place in the Twins’ rotation.

The Reds are a mere game behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, and maintained a 2 1/2 game advantage over the Phillies in the Wild Card chase. Philly’s post-Abreu spurt continued with a 6-3 win at Wrigley tonight, Ryan O’Malley’s 2nd big league start not turning out nearly as well as last week’s shutdown of Houston. Jamie Moyer earned the win in his Phillies debut (6 IP, 6 hits 3 earned runs, 4 K’s), and Shane Victorino and Danny Sandoval, playing in place of collision victims Rowand and Utley, combined for 4 hits and 2 runs.

The Rockies promoted Kaz Matsui from Colorado Springs today. Kaz has been playing short and CF a bit for the Sky Sox.

A Full Count

Posted in Baseball, We Aren't The World at 7:30 pm by

Given the many similarites between the reigns of Bud Selig and Nicolai Ceausescu (above), is there any surprise there’s some baseball interest, however small, in Romania? Link and the above headline courtesy of Repoz, who claims “sometimes they just write themselves.” Indeed, the best I could come up with was, “Romania : Come For The Lettuce, Stay For The Volunteer Umpiring.”

From the New Herald’s Dave Gorgon.

Cristian Manea, a successful 32-year-old computer business owner in his native Bucharest, became the first umpire from Romania to work the Junior League World Series in Taylor, MI which took place last week. That’s quite a feat considering there’s only one baseball field in the entire country. In Romania and other European nations, American soccer – known there as football – is king. Badminton and volleyball may be the second and third most popular sports. Manea said others play oina, a traditional Romanian game that is similar to baseball, but requires the use of a longer, slimmer bat and 11 players on the field instead of nine and are only 30 minutes in duration.

But Manea said he is “injected with baseball” – and has been since 1991, when he started playing following the fall of Communism in 1989. He said games are often played on soccer fields with “some special ground rules.” As an 18-year-old high school student, Manea started on a federation team and was the first most valuable player in the championship game.

“When I started to play baseball, it’s like somebody came at me and injected my baseball line (got him hooked on the sport),” Manea said. “If I have time and enough money, I want to play and stay on the field all day. That’s baseball for me. But I must work to make some money (at his company, HIGH Services). Some of my money goes to the league.”

Because baseball is not as popular in Romania, Manea said he has trouble getting people involved in the sport.

“I try to involve more people to be an umpire,” he said. “I need fresh blood.”

Fuck Off Steve Lyons, Shawn Green’s A Met

Posted in Baseball, Religion at 6:58 pm by

From MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.

Shawn Green’s career with the Diamondbacks appears to have come to an end.

A baseball source told MLB.com that the veteran outfielder was dealt along with cash considerations to the Mets on Tuesday in exchange for a Minor League player. Green, the source said, agreed to waive his no-trade clause and the deal is now in the hands of the Commissioner’s office, which has to approve it because of the money involved.

Green arrived at AT&T Park on Tuesday afternoon and was seen on the field hugging teammate Craig Counsell and a Diamondbacks coach.

It is not known exactly how much money will change hands in the deal, or who the Minor Leaguer is. Green is set to make $9.5 million next year with a club option for the 2008 season at $10 million. If the option is not exercised, Green would receive a $2 million buyout.

For those keeping track at Fox Sports Net, Yom Kippur this year takes place between sunset October 1 and nightfall October 2.

Courtesy of a 2nd inning solo HR by Carlos Delgado off Wevie Stonder I, the Mets lead the Cardinals, 1-0 after 2 and a half.

Tom Glavine’s blood clot is supposedly treatable with regular doseages of baby aspriin. I would like to take this opportunity to advice Glavine’s former teammate, John Franco, to take evasive measures to ensure that he suffers no such circulation problems. I recommend 400 baby aspirin, 2 bottles of scotch and chewing on one of these, hourly, until the problem is in hand.

(UPDATE from Shea : Cards 7, Mets 1. 2 HR’s, 7 RBI’s for Albert Pujols. Amazing how far a baseball can travel when you pretend you’re hitting Will Leitch’s face)

(UPDATE II : Cards 7, Mets 5.   2 HR’s, 5 RBI’s for Carlos Delgado.  Amazing how far a baseball can travel when you pretend you’re hitting Donald Rumsfeld’s face.

Goddamn, the ads for Brian Bannister Bobblehead Night are the slickest thing the Cyclones have put on TV since  they snuck Mike Glavine into the SNY booth.  Though with all due respect to the Mets’ rehabbing starter, I would be much more psyched if the Little Wilpons were giving away Ken “The Animal” Bannister bobbleheads. )

Because There’s Nothing Scarier Than Staying In A Hotel That Forces You To Watch Porn

Posted in Cinema, Free Expression, Tourism at 5:10 pm by

The AP/MSNBC on one brave man’s fight to take the sin out of the Holiday Inn.

The leader of the campaign against in-room porn is Phil Burress (above), a self-described former porn addict who heads the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values.

Burress and his allies have had some success regionally, pressuring about 15 Ohio and Kentucky hotels to stop offering adult movies. But he says a nationwide pressure campaign would be difficult because nearly all the big hotel chains have similar policies ” porn is available at some but not all of their affiliates.

Though unable to cite specific cases, Burress contended that the availability of in-room porn is making hotels more dangerous.

œAs more and more of these (hardcore) titles become available, we™re going to have sexual abuse cases coming out of the hotels, he said. œHotels are just as dangerous as environments around strip joints and porn stores.

I hate to admit it, but Burress might be on to something. The next time I go down the hall to the ice machine, I shouldn’t have to worry about being run over by Eddie Griffin.

Diminishing The Expectations For Chris Simms’ Successor

Posted in Gridiron at 4:33 pm by

The St. Petersberg Times’ Gary Shelton reminds us “Tampa Bay always has been a sucker for a fresh face, particularly one holding a football, which explains how quickly Bucco Bruce Gradkowski (above) has become a cult legend.” That said, Shelton doesn’t think Gradowski is ready to claim the backup clipboard from Tim Rattay or Jay Fiedler.

History is filled with training camp sensations who are now selling insurance. Remind yourself: Gradkowski’s success has come in practice games against players who aren’t going to make the Jets roster and who aren’t going to make the Dolphins. They have come in mop-up time against vanilla defenses at home. And though that is preferable to not having such moments, it doesn’t turn a sixth-round draft pick into Earl Morrall, super sub.

Have you paid attention over the years to how many horrible things the Bucs defense has done to young opposing quarterbacks? So you really want to see the Panthers point Julius Peppers at him? Or the Falcons with John Abraham or the Ravens with Ray Lewis or the Giants with Michael Strahan?

So think about it. If Simms were to grab an ankle in pain, whom would you put in? If Simms slumps – and let’s face it, he has only 12 NFL starts to his name – whom would you play?

When talking about a backup quarterback, most teams tend to favor the savvy and the steady – an older guy, maybe a former starter who has lost a little off his fastball but who can win a game on his smarts. You know: a guy like Brad Johnson or Jon Kitna or Mark Brunell. That’s the problem with the NFL: All of the good backups are still starters.

Still, there is nothing wrong with popularity. There is an old football story that when Paul Brown coached the Cleveland Browns, he had a backup named George Ratterman.

Once, with a game well in hand, the fans started chanting Ratterman’s name. And, eventually, Brown pulled the Rat over to his side.

“The fans want you,” Brown supposedly said. “So why don’t you go up there and sit with them for a little while.”

Giants Commandant Tom Coughlin tells the NY Post’s Paul Schwartz, “I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I don’t have a big ego.” I’m pretty sure Doug Neidermeyer said the same thing, once upon a time (before his own troops killed him in Vietnam).

Serendipitous Or Just Stalkerish?

Posted in History's Great Hook-Ups at 3:33 pm by

“Even at Kinko’s prices,” muses Kevin T., “Craigslist would’ve saved him some money.” (link taken from Metro Blogging Chicago)

If Nomar’s Answers Are Dull…

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 3:23 pm by

…maybe that’s because T.J. Simers’ questions aren’t very interesting?

I knew from experience Garciaparra would be pleasant before unleashing the cliches designed to keep the notebook empty, and the interview short. But I was determined to learn whether the performer on the field, who can be so charismatic, is really as dull off it as he appears in the clubhouse, or is it just an act?

“Oh my gosh,” Garciaparra exclaimed, and I’m not sure I have ever heard Garciaparra exclaim before. I didn’t even think it was possible.

“I’m not a good actor in any way,” he exclaimed again, hands waving in the air, and if he was trying to act now for my benefit, he was right, he’s no actor. “They had me go on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and I told them, ‘I can’t act.’ So no, I’m not acting.”

OK, so he was making a good case that he’s just dull, but I still couldn’t believe it. No way Mia Hamm falls for a dull baseball player ” even though she is a soccer player.

I told him I really wanted to know what made him so good, and pointed to Tiger Woods’ incredible PGA performance, and asked Garciaparra, “Wouldn’t you like the chance to ask Tiger what makes him so good?”

“No,” Garciaparra said, making it almost impossible to offer any other follow-up question beyond “You can’t be serious?”

“I can never be Tiger,” he said as if there was a limit to the number of words he can say each day.

“Wouldn’t you like to know what’s going on inside a fellow competitor?”

“It’s something innate, and can’t be explained,” Garciaparra said. “If Tiger could explain it, they’d bottle it and sell it. He’s just blessed.”

“Haven’t you ever asked Mia what drove her as a competitor?”

“No,” he said, and I can’t blame someone for not initiating a discussion about soccer.

I wondered, though, whether I was listening to an athlete who was constructing a wall around himself. If there’s no reason to learn more about Tiger, then there’s no reason to dig deeper into what makes Garciaparra go.

A player as productive as Garciaparra is going to be repeatedly and relentlessly hit with questions about what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. And if not blessed with the gift of gab ¦ sometimes that wall can appear in the form of an intimidating Jeff Kent, or an uncooperative Kenny Lofton ” although why anyone would want to talk to Lofton is beyond me.

Film Starring Marky Mark, Tim Roth And Paul Giamatti Sullied By Association

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner, The Law at 11:32 am by

From the Toronto Star’s Betsy Johnson and John Duncanson (link swiped from Hoops Hype)

The Law Society of Upper Canada is being urged to investigate a perceived racist comment from a former Crown attorney caught up in an RCMP sting operation involving money laundering.

Although Calvin Barry (above), a prosecutor for 17 years, was never charged in the case involving now disgraced Toronto lawyer Peter Shoniker, some black community leaders and lawyers are upset not more was done about a statement made by Barry during conversations with a police undercover agent in May 2003. In one conversation, Barry talks about a case involving three NBA players, Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, and Jason Caffey, who were charged with assaulting a male exotic dancer in April 2003.

As he relates the story of the case, Barry is heard joking that players would likely just have to sign basketballs in Regent Park as punishment.

Barry says to those gathered around him: “… after the three-hour clinic is done, we give away all the signed basketballs and sign autographs, and there’s 5,000 black kids jumping up and down like Planet of the Apes.”

Barry’s remarks caused laughter at the table, but unknown to Barry and others seated there, one of the men was an RCMP undercover officer investigating alleged money laundering.

The man was posing as someone interested in moving money to the U.S. that had been skimmed from a union pension account.

Dusty Claims He Receives Fan Mail

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 10:44 am by

From the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan :

Dusty Baker downplayed a report that painted a segment of Cubs fans as racist and hostile toward him and some of his players.

The article in USA Today quotes the Cubs’ manager, outfielder Jacque Jones and former Cubs reliever LaTroy Hawkins as saying they had received racist mail or phone calls from fans. It also said Baker’s wife, Melissa, no longer attends home games, taking their 7-year-old son, Darren, home before games because of the “hostile” atmosphere.

Asked Monday if the letters would affect his feelings on wanting to stay and manage in Chicago, Baker replied: “No, I don’t think so. You realize that some people feel the way they feel. It’s sad that you have to get those, but on the other hand, it’s something I experienced, indirectly, when I was with Hank Aaron before. So that sort of prepared me for now.

“You realize that in some people’s minds, things haven’t changed, not as much as we’d like to think everybody has changed. But I haven’t gotten [racist mail] in a while, and most of these that I got were during a period when I [said] I wanted to stay and see this through and win like I came here to do. A lot of [the article] was old news.”

Baker conceded he also had received some racist letters when managing in San Francisco, but added, “I got a lot more here than I did there.” He said the positive mail still outnumbers the hate mail.

I think we can all agree there are some seriously deranged individuals out there. In the year 2006, what sort of human being…is sending positive correspondence to Dusty Baker?

Mariotti : Ozzie’s Not Mexican

Posted in Baseball at 10:32 am by

Claiming that “every time the Blizzard of Oz speaks publicly, global camaraderie is capable of taking two steps backward,”, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti (above) resumes his repartee with sparing partner Ozzie Guillen.

”They’re mad. They can’t admit that a Latino kicked their ass,” Guillen said over the weekend of those who have accused the Sox of sign-stealing. ”That’s why I don’t get along with too many managers. Because they hate my [expletive] ass, because I don’t kiss their ass and I didn’t kiss anyone’s ass to get this job. Then they have a Mexican win the World Series in two years. And they’re saying he doesn’t have experience, he never managed in baseball. Well, too [expletive] bad.”

Never mind that he is Venezuelan and not Mexican. What Guillen is doing — again — is causing trouble when there shouldn’t be any and crossing the professional line of verbal retaliation. The Sox don’t need this stuff now, not as they fall 61/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers after a 7-1 shutdown Monday evening at the hands of Justin Verlander, who no longer tips his pitches as previously charged. Starting pitching continues to be a crapshoot, with one-time ace Jose Contreras looking like a man with a dead arm after another silly-putty outing. The Sox have issues, including a sluggish offense, and now more than ever, the situation requires level-headed leadership.

The manager needs to stand up to others with one part fire, one part professional dignity. Yes, Ozzie had every right to rip back at the three men who have wondered to varying degrees this season about the Sox and sign-stealing: Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and Tigers manager Jim Leyland. But Guillen had no right to play the race card and should be reprimanded by Selig and Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who, I remind you again, is co-chairman of Major League Baseball’s Equal Opportunity Committee and cannot keep ignoring the insensitive ramblings of his prominent franchise face.

If you missed it, Ozzie’s remarks from last Saturday included the following gems :

Guillen said Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder “wouldn’t even make our team. He couldn’t start for us, and he’s not better than [Neal] Cotts or [Matt] Thornton in our bullpen.

“If we’re cheating, how come we don’t help Brian Anderson or [Juan] Uribe? If we’re going to cheat, we’re not just going to cheat for a few guys. We’re cheating on the mound? Our pitching staff gets beat up once in a while.”

As for Henry, who wondered in the Boston Globe whether the Sox were stealing signs in a game against the Yankees, “he doesn’t even know what a field looks like,” Guillen said.

That’s really a low blow, and one I sincerely hope the Commissioner’s office deals with severely. John Henry most certainly does know what a field looks like, O.G.

He can’t remember what a left-handed reliever looks like, however, but neither can anyone else in his organization.

Hale : Glavine To Return Next Week?

Posted in Baseball at 10:09 am by

From the New York Post’s Mark Hale :

A source told The Post last night that the Mets’ All-Star left-hander – feared done for the season, maybe even for his career with a possible blood clot in his pitching shoulder – underwent an angiogram yesterday and will not require surgery.

The source said Glavine could be pitching sometime next week.

Glavine, whom the source said is expected to be treated with medication, had been feeling a coldness in his left ring finger. The southpaw said on Sunday that if he needed surgery, he might not be on a mound again in 2006. If there were no operation, he said, he might be able to return quickly.

The source did not specify the cause of Glavine’s problem.

Glavine’s news indicates that the Mets could possibly have both him and Pedro Martinez slotted into the rotation next week. Martinez is on the DL with a strained right calf but is eligible to come off next Wednesday.

Hale adds that Brian Bannister (above) allowed just one run over 6 IP (5 K’s, 1 BB, 6 hits) in Norfolk’s 4-1 win over Charlotte on Sunday. In addition, Evan McLane picked up his 9th IL win (after 3 with Binghamton), a complete game 5 hitter in the Tides’ 6-0 defeat of the Knights on Monday.

C Ramon Castro was meant to start for Brooklyn last night as part of a rehab assignment, but ended up going to the hospital for tests after suffering knee pain during pregame stretches. Castro might’ve dodged a bullet ; the Cyclones were crushed Monday by Staten Island, 21-6, as Brooklyn’s Jake Ruckle couldn’t make it out of the first inning. Alay Soler was in uniform for the Cyclones last night, though there is no truth to the rumor the thrifty Baby Wilpons tried passing him off as Sid Fernandez as part of Brooklyn’s Hawaiian Heritage Celebration.

McAdam : Manny, Wells, Shopping At The Jerk Store

Posted in Baseball at 2:20 am by

Warning that Boston’s “descent into selfishness and infighting could truly doom them,” the Providence Journal’s Sean McAdam dishes the dirt after the Yankees’ 5 game sweep of the Red Sox.

On Friday night, in the fifth inning of the disastrous day-nighter that would set the tone for the Lost Weekend, official scorer Joe Giuliotti determined that Manny Ramirez had reached on an error by Derek Jeter. Jeter had gone into the shortstop hole to backhand a hard grounder, only to have the ball glance off his glove and roll into shallow left.

On the play, teammate Mark Loretta, running from second base, was thrown out at home by Yankees left fielder Melky Cabrera.

Ramirez was enraged by the call, and was so angry about it the next day that he had to be talked into playing the Saturday afternoon game. On Sunday, Ramirez sought out an MLB official to try to get the call reversed.

Think about that: In the middle of the Sox’ three most dispiriting losses of the season, suffered at the hands of the team’s archrival, Ramirez sulked about losing credit for a meaningless single that didn’t even involve an RBI.

(To give credit where it’s due, Ramirez had an otherwise monster series, making one out in the course of five games while reaching base in 19 of 20 plate appearances. He hit two homers and knocked in seven runs).

But with his team’s season in the balance, Ramirez intended to sit out to protest a scorer’s call? Would Jeter do that? Would David Ortiz? Would, in fact, any other player in the game?

It’s not much of a leap to think that Ramirez’s early exit from yesterday’s game — he pulled himself out of the lineup after the fourth inning, telling trainers he was suffering cramps in the right hamstring — was connected to the events of the previous two days.

Finally, there was the eighth inning yesterday, when NESN cameras caught starter David Wells throwing up his hands, then shaking his head in disgust on his way down the dugout runway after catcher Javy Lopez failed to block a pitch from Keith Foulke in the dirt, enabling Nick Green to score from third. When Wily Mo Pena homered in the bottom of the inning, Green’s run proved to be the difference in the game.

Still, such obvious displays of disgust toward on-field events are rare indeed for veterans, especially ones who have been in the big leagues for almost 20 seasons.

I’ll presume that McAdam is pretty certain that Manny was sulking over Friday’s error. But I also recall a number of years back, Nomar Garciaparra taking serious heat for allegedly moaning about an official scorer’s decision, a version of events he disputed. Said incident wasn’t McAdam’s handiwork.

08.21.06

Jays’ Gibby, Leader Of Men

Posted in Baseball at 11:43 pm by

(a Toronto police officer searches for the last remaining shred of John Gibbons’ dignity)

From the Toronto Star’s Shi Davidi.

Left-hander Ted Lilly and Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons fought in the tunnel between the dugout and clubhouse after an angry exchange on the pitching mound during Monday’s 12-10 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Canadian Press photographer Aaron Harris, one of a handful of photographers to witness the incident, said Gibbons, five-foot-11 and 195 pounds, came down the steps and went right at Lilly, six-foot-one and 190 pounds.

The two began wrestling, clutching at each other’s shirts before security team trainer George Poulis and several Blue Jays jumped in to break it up as a bewildered crowd of 28,280 looked on.

Harris described the scene as mayhem.

There’s still 6 weeks of baseball left to play, plenty of time for Gibbons to punch whoever thought it would be a good idea to give A.J. Burnett that much money.

There are many valuable lessons today’s MLB stars can learn from the kids taking part in the Little League World Series. One would be the importance of not saying “fuck” into an open microphone (though strangely, the organizers of said tourney find uttering an expletive as serious an offense as assaulting a child).

The other would be the significance of calling for the ball.

The Diamondbacks are throwing the ball all over the park at SBC tonight ; even Jeff Francis can’t stand to watch.

Kevin Mitchell was on BBTN this evening and was asked to compare his April ’89 barehanded catch in left field off the bat of Ozzie Smith (ranked as the no. 2 “Web Gem” in Giants history) to David Wright’s oft-replayed right-handed grab in San Diego from August 9, 2005.

That wasn’t no catch. C’mon, man, running in the outfield, from home plate for a ball, to the infield, it’s like two different things. What he did was like catching a ball on the hop. You don’t compare those two catches.