05.29.07

Murray Chass On Bonds’ HR Orgy

Posted in Baseball at 10:37 am by

Though I’m not nearly as dedicated a Murray Chass basher as the dilligent Seth Mnookin, I do have to wonder what could possibly be considered revelatory about the NY Times columnist alleging (in May 2007!) that “based on his association with the period covering the latter half of the last decade and the early years of this one, it would be no great leap to believe that Barry Bonds used steroids to enhance his hitting.”

Of course, the same could be said of Randy Velarde, except he’s not the one visiting the Mets this evening.

In a demonstration unprecedented in baseball™s long history, players erupted in an orgy of home runs, achieving feats no single player or group of players had ever approached. It is reasonable to conclude that someone had to be doing something.

Is Bonds a better hitter than Ruth and Aaron? A case could be made for that proposition, but how can we know if we don™t know which Bonds we™re comparing them with, the unadulterated Bonds or the Bonds who is suspected of using aides that didn™t exist in the Ruth and Aaron eras? Hot dogs probably didn™t have the same effect.

Probably not. Though in Bonds’ defense, neither Ruth nor Aaron had to contend with starting pitchers who were capable of throwing high heat into their mid-forties. But I’ll not hold my breath waiting for any suggestions that hitters in the Roger Clemens/Randy Johnson era have faced a competitive disadvantage.

Over at the Daily News, Lisa Olson ponders the hypocrisy of Bonds being villified while Mets reliever Guillermo Mota will likely be welcomed with open arms.

Perhaps it was the Cleveland water that made Mota look so sluggish for much of the 2006 season. He had a 6.21 ERA in 34 games with the Indians. How else to explain his transformation in Flushing? In 18 appearances with the Mets after being acquired from the Indians last August, Mota’s ERA was 1.00, his WHIP .833. He averaged over a strikeout an inning.

Nobody’s demanding an asterisk be attached to those games.

Mota doesn’t deserve to be scorned like Bonds. Unlike Jason Giambi, the Yankees’ paragon of truth, Mota actually admitted to using more than “stuff.” For all we know, Giambi was referring to sun screen when he bared his soul to USA Today. Mota readily fessed up in a statement after his suspension was announced, saying, “I used extremely poor judgment and deserve to be held accountable. … To baseball fans everywhere, I understand that you are disappointed in me, and I don’t blame you. I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen.”

Good for him. Good for baseball, a multinational conglomerate that has all the integrity of Enron.

The Mets haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory here. They still haven’t said if they knew about Mota’s positive test during the playoffs. And if we didn’t have so much respect for Omar Minaya, we might say he rewarded Mota for using performance-enhancing drugs with a two-year, $5 million contract after his suspension was announced.

Captain Caveman’s Parents Must Be Very Proud

Posted in Blogged Down, Track & Field at 10:08 am by

Most males and/or observers of the sporting blogosphere have come across a photograph of 18 year old pole vaulter Allison Stokke over the past several weeks,  a development due in large part to the efforts of With Leather’s Matt Ufford.  From the Washington Post’s Eli Salow.

The wave of attention has steamrolled Stokke and her family in Newport Beach, Calif. She is recognized — and stared at — in coffee shops. She locks her doors and tries not to leave the house alone. Her father, Allan Stokke, comes home from his job as a lawyer and searches the Internet. He reads message boards and tries to pick out potential stalkers.

“We’re keeping a watchful eye,” Allan Stokke said. “We have to be smart and deal with it the best we can. It’s not something that you can just make go away.”

On May 8, blogger Matt Ufford received Stokke’s picture in an e-mail from one of his readers, and he reacted to Stokke’s image on instinct. She was hot. She was 18. Readers of Ufford’s WithLeather.com — a sports blog heavy on comedy, opinion and sometimes sex — would love her.

The picture was taken by a track and field journalist and posted as part of a report on a California prep track Web site. The photo was hardly sexually explicit, which made Ufford’s decision to post it even easier. At 5 feet 7, Stokke has smooth, olive-colored skin and toned muscles. In the photo, her vaulting pole rests on her right shoulder. Her right hand appears to be adjusting the elastic band on her ponytail. Her spandex uniform — black shorts and a white tank top that are standard for a track athlete — reveals a bare midriff.

By targeting his comedic writing to 18- to 35-year-old males, Ufford has built a sports blog that attracts almost 1 million visitors each month. Ufford writes tongue-and-cheek items about the things his readers love: athletes and beautiful women. Stokke qualified as both. She was, therefore, a “no-brainer to write about,” Ufford said. He posted her picture and typed a four-paragraph blurb to accompany it. Meet pole vaulter Allison Stokke. . . . Hubba hubba and other grunting sounds.

“I understand there are certain people who are put off immediately by the tone of my blog,” Ufford said. “Every week, there’s somebody who takes offense to something, but that’s part of being a comedy writer. If nobody is complaining, it probably wasn’t funny. You are hoping for some kind of feedback.”

“Even if none of it is illegal, it just all feels really demeaning,” Allison Stokke said. “I worked so hard for pole vaulting and all this other stuff, and it’s almost like that doesn’t matter. Nobody sees that. Nobody really sees me.”

That’s Matt, shown above. Just in case anyone out there — for fairness’ sake — feels like y’know, objectifying him and subjecting his family and friends to all sorts of sallacious commentary purely because of his incredibly good looks.

In the meantime, I would like to apologize in advance to my hosting company and plead with them not to cut me off when CSTB’s traffic inevitably spikes. I realize that blogs and manly interest sites across the globe will either link to this post or attempt to hotlink Matt’s smoking snapshot. While I haven’t quite figured out how to pay the bill, you might say the decision to go down this path was a “no-brainer”.

05.28.07

Grate Minds Think Alike, Pt. II

Posted in Dogs, Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 8:27 pm by

Given that the NFL has in the past muscled ESPN into dropping the well-done Playmakers series (which to our knowledge never dared to present something as far-fetched as a dog-fighting story line), and that the league reportedly squeezed ESPN’s parent company, Disney, into recently dropping a new show about the lives of the wives of pro football players, it’s reasonable to assume that ESPN cleared this volatile story with the league office before running it. And it’s also reasonable to assume, then, that the NFL deemed the source sufficiently credible to allow the entire embarrassment that is the Mike Vick dog-fighting investigation to be turned up a notch or two with this item from one of the league’s broadcast partners.

In other words — we’re starting to think that the NFL thinks Vick is guilty, and likewise wants to see him go down for this.Pro Football Talk, May 27, 2007

The NFL doesn™t want this story covered up – it wants resolution, and quick. There™s a big difference. The league can protect its image with the best of them. It strong-armed ESPN into taking the weekly sex-drugs-lies-and-football serial, œPlaymakers, off the air. That doesn™t mean the themes in œPlaymakers don™t exist in the NFL. Of course they do. But those ills also are a significant part of society.

But dogfighting? No. There is no rationalizing that. Goodell needs anybody associated with that sick pastime out of the league.Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 28, 2007

For perhaps the first and last time in CSTB history, I’ll give Colin Cowherd some credit. At least he’s willing to acknowledge PFT as a source when talking about the Vick escandalo.

Is Menu Foods The World’s Worst Company?

Posted in Dogs, The Law at 8:16 pm by

Next to Mystic Records, I mean.

Does anyone else find it strange the pet food manufacturer accused of killing thousands of dogs is represented by a lawyer named Edward Ruff?

On This Most Solemn Of American Holidays, Let Us Consider Fran Healy’s Testicles

Posted in Baseball at 5:55 pm by

Inexplicably still employed by MSG and blogging up a storm, former Mets mouthpice Fran Healy takes a curious trip down memory lane (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

If you do something well, you want to duplicate the same stuff. If you’re hot, you eat the same thing that day following that game, you go out to the field at the same time and you drive the same way to the ballpark. If you did five wind sprints yesterday, you do five wind sprints today. Nothing changes.

Something happened to me that would be tough to be superstitious enough to duplicate. I was catching in Chicago in 1974, Ritchie Allen was hitting and Steve Busby was pitching on a cold day. Allen hit the ball and it hit my protective cup, completely breaking it in half. Boy, I was in agony. My chest, my back, it was terrible. I still remember it today.

They took me to the hospital that day. I was worried about the game until the doctor said that they might have to take a testicle out. I said, “I think I want a second opinion.”

I flew out to Boston and saw – I believe his name was Tierney – the Red Sox doctor. He said, “Well it™s swollen, but it™s nothing compared to Fisk. Fisk is really in trouble.”

Carlton Fisk hadn™t played in a month and a half. He saw me that night and he came running over to me and brought over a goalie™s protective cup, telling me I should use this. This thing was huge.

I had in my contract a clause that if I caught 130 games I would get five thousand dollars more. I figured I™ve got to get that five thousand dollars so I rushed back into the lineup. I was so concerned with getting hit that I caught sideways, which in a way hurt my career because I continued catching that way because of the pain. But I was so relaxed because I didn™t care about anything except getting those games in, that I had a big week hitting, such a big week that I was named American League Player of the Week.

Now if you follow superstition, you would go back and get hit in the cup again. Superstition didn™t matter that much to me.

Q : What Do Bloggers And LeBron Have In Common?

Posted in Basketball at 5:13 pm by

A : The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith has all sorts of problems with both of them. In what has to be considered impeccable timing, the morning after King James gave the Cavs a new lease on life with a near triple double in Cleveland’s 88-82 Game 3 win over Detroit, Smith claims USA Basketball oughta forget about LeBron, insisting “his game hasn’t been a good fit for international competition or with the U.S. team, and it might be better off without him.”

No one wants to say it publicly, and no one disputes that James is a transcendent talent, but there wouldn’t be any great sadness if James decides to stay home in 2008.

There were some minor attitude issues, and one famous scene last summer in which Bruce Bowen, who is dropping out of contention for the team, openly lectured James about treating administrative staff members with respect.

James, team insiders said, had a habit of ordering people around without ever learning their names.

The bigger issue for the USA Basketball staff is James’ fit as a player. He doesn’t shoot particularly well, but he liked to keep the ball glued to his hand in last year’s world championships. He is a willing passer and really was at his best when playing point guard toward the end of the tournament.

But Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd will play this summer, and both are far better floor leaders than James. With a terrific playoff run, Williams is dribbling his way into that crowd. They all are better than James at running a team.

Also, coaches worried about James’ ego and view of himself within the team. They found too often when he wasn’t getting his points, he’d try hard late in games to get numbers, apparently so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about poor statistical games.

There also was some discomfort about internal jealousies, so James, along with Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, was named a team captain to avoid that issue. But now Kobe Bryant joins the team, and his game is more suited to international play because he is a better shooter and defender than James despite James’ immense talent.

Johan Santana On The Art of Changing Speeds

Posted in Baseball at 3:50 pm by

Despite being taken deep by Luis Terrero and Paul Konerko, Minnesota’s Johan Santana is well on pace to claim his 6th win of ’07, as the Twins lead the White Sox, 8-4 entering home half of the 8th inning.

If you’re fortunate enough to watch the highlights tonight, there should be just a little bit of discussion concerning A.J. Pierzynski’s attempts to play footsie with Joe Mauer. You’ll also see Torii Hunter robbing Jim Thome of a solo HR to left center, but that’s just business-as-usual for the former.

Former Twin Kyle Lohse earned a complete game win for Cincinnati today as the Reds snapped a 6 game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Pirates. Ryan Freel was carried off the field after colliding with Norris Hopper while in pursuit of an Humberto Coto fly ball in the 3rd inning ; Farney was unavailable for comment.

Pats DE Hill Dead At 24

Posted in Gridiron at 3:33 pm by

Following a Jetski accident on Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain on Sunday evening, the body of New England Patriots DE Marquise Hill was retrieved and identified earlier today. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Around 10 a.m. today, Steve McManus of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said officials decided to focus on recovering Hill’s body after witnesses saw him go under the water without resurfacing. Authorities were using information from family members to determine Hill’s exact location at the time he and a woman fell from the craft, McManus said.

The accident was reported about 9 p.m. Sunday after a man and woman were reported falling into the water from a recreational craft. They apparently were heading to the Seabrook boat launch. The Orleans Levee Board Police said that a passing boat had briefly picked up the man, but he jumped back in the water to look for the woman.

The woman, who was rescued after a passerby heard someone calling for help, had apparently grabbed onto a piling or other structure in the lake.

A 3 year NFL vet, Hill was a member of Nick Saban’s 2003 National Championship LSU squad.

Is Your Organization Ready To Get Motivated?

Posted in Baseball at 1:51 pm by

Hot Shit College Student Writes,

With all the free time Dusty Baker has, you’d think he’d make sure the Premiere Speakers Bureau website updated his photo. You have to sell yourself, Dusty!

To which I can only add, I sincerely hope Dusty is commanding a bigger fee than Tom Candiotti.

The Rick Ankiel Watch, Continued

Posted in Baseball at 1:33 pm by

All kidding aside (ie. looking for an excuse to jettison Scott Spiezio from the major leagues), the improbable comeback of Rick Ankiel might be enough to have So Taguchi and Preston Wilson wondering about their spots on the Cards’ 25 man roster.

Ankiel has singlehandedly chased Rock Round starter Jared Gothreaux, hitting a pair of homers, a double and driving in 5 runs in his first plate appearances.  Memphis currently leads, 11-3 in the 5th, but alas, former Met Matt Ginter (above) is not eligible for the win, having pitched poorly (4 hits, 1 walk, 3 earned runs) in two innings of work.

Though Felix Pie’s brief tenure at Wrigley left a bit to be desired, he’s got little left to prove at the Triple A leve.  The Iowa CF has homered and raised his batting average to a lofty .394, as the Cubs lead Oklahoma, 5-0 after 3 innings.  Former ChiSox fixture Neil Cotts has allowed nothing more than a single to Redhawks C Guillermo Quiroz.

05.27.07

Someone Please Stop T.J. Simers Before He Calls Bryant “Kobester” Again

Posted in Basketball at 5:49 pm by

Kobe Bryant has told the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan he’d like to see some changes made. And he was considerably more blunt with ESPN’s Ric Bucher, demanding the Lakers rehire Jerry West and give the Logoman full authority to do whatever-it-takes (short of reacquiring Shaquille O’Neal, I suppose). The Times’ T.J. Simers, however, is less than intimidated, asking, “What’s he going to do if he doesn’t get his way? Stop passing the ball to his teammates?”

What’s he going to do, ask for a trade? Demand a trade? Sure, the Lakers will do that. How about Atlanta’s entire roster for the Kobester, and keep Smush Parker because he’s such a fan favorite.

The Kobester can wear a sandwich board and walk all around Staples Center protesting his dislike for the current Lakers situation, and it really doesn’t matter. He’s got his contract, his obligation to perform, and like any other employee will be asked to make the best of it.

One team wins a title every year, and a lot of great players go into the off-season frustrated. Happens every year. A player sounds off about being frustrated, and the fans like it. It’s good for someone’s image. Sounds like he really cares.

The Kobester wanted his own team. That’s what he said when it appeared Shaq might be leaving, and when he got it, he referred to it as “my team” on more than one occasion. So much for “his guys.”

He says the time is “now” for the Lakers, as if Kupchak, Buss and Phil Jackson don’t know that, or agree with him. The Dodgers say now is the time to win every year. The Angels do the same. The only team around here that doesn’t say such a thing every year is the Kings.

The last word on Boston’s lottery woes goes to Peter Vescey correspondent Brian McGunigle, who wrote “œif the Celts had been trying to lose, Brian Scalabrine would™ve gotten a lot more playing time.

There’s Been A Rick Ankiel Sighting In Williamson County

Posted in Baseball, General at 5:31 pm by

Actually, there have been several this week. Earlier today, former Cards pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel’s RBI single off Round Rock’s Josh Miller (just promoted from Corpus Christi) provided Memphis with all the offense they’d need ; Redbirds starter Blake Hawksworth (7 IP, 5 hits, no walks) and 2 relievers combined on a 2-0 defeat of the Express. Former Met / New Weird America icon Matt Ginter did not make an appearance for Memphis.

Rather than go through the entire PCL scoreboard, I’ll just stick with the most depressing line I can find : Chan Ho Park today against Omaha —- 4.2 IP, 14 hits, 7 earned runs, 2 walks, and a pair of 4th inning HR’s allowed to Cody Clark and Mitch Maier. At the risk of repeating one of the lamer jokes in CSTB history, it impossible for me to ignore the Zeyphers starting Ricky Ledee, Mike DeFelice and Ferando Tatis and wonder if the people of New Orleans haven’t suffered enough.

OK, the game was played in Kansas. But surely someone in New Orleans was listening on the radio.

I realize the Rangers have Sammy Sosa on some kinda bargain contract, but surely he’s being paid enough to hit the cut off man? An RBI single by Boston’s Mike Lowell broke a 4-4 deadlock between Texas and the Red Sox earlier today, but J.D. Drew probably wouldn’t have been in scoring position had Sammy not made a futile heave to the plate on Drew’s RBI single moments earlier.

Despite an 8-4 drubbing of the A’s today, O’s skipper Sam Perlozzo is said to be on the hot seat, and the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec tips my favorite Peter Golenbock co-author (aside from Mickey Mantle’s cock) to resume the position.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Unfunny Columns Are Harder To Read

Posted in Baseball at 1:04 pm by

A day after Joe Torre was reduced to blaming crap umpiring (on behalf of the underachieving Bobby Abreu), the Yankees are trying to avoid being swept at the Stadium by the Angels, where they currently hold a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning. Today’s efforts, however, might be too little, too late for novelist Jane Heller, who uses the New York Times’ “Cheering Section” to make the following dramatic announcement.

I gave it everything I have. I am sick and tired of the œI trieds and the œWhat do you expect me to dos? I™ve been begging for answers and all I have gotten are platitudes. Enough is enough.

And so I am divorcing the New York Yankees ” all 25 men on the active roster, in addition to the manager, the coaches and the general manager. Oh, and the trainer, too. And, of course, the owner and all his baseball people.

The grounds for the divorce will be mental cruelty. I mean, I made a commitment to these guys, emotional and financial, and they betrayed and humiliated me by allowing the Red Sox ” the Red Sox! ” to run away with the division. When I think how I defended the Yankees to their legions of detractors, it hurts. It really hurts.

I was so loyal, so trusting, so willing to shell out $165 so I could buy Major League Baseball™s Extra Innings package and watch all the games from my house in California. And yet look at how they treated me. I will tell you how they treated me ” as if I were a Kansas City Royals fan.

Yeah, I know. There have been injuries. A sore back. A cracked fingernail. A bone spur. A hammy. Please. I am not stupid. If a guy does not want to show up for me, he should simply say so and stop making excuses.

And yeah, there have been disruptions in routine. But again. A rainout is no reason to act all out of sorts and say, œI guess I just didn™t have good stuff.

maybe the love died when Zimmer quit and Torre had to make managerial decisions on his own. There were all those nights when Joe would call for Tanyon Sturtze in relief ” so many nights that he turned that poor guy™s arm into a pretzel, the way he is doing now with Scott Proctor. There were also the nights when he would pull Mussina or Wang or whichever starter was actually pitching brilliantly and efficiently in favor of a reliever who would blow the game. (See Sturtze.)

And then there was his flip-flopping: œI won™t use Mo in the eighth; œI have to use Mo in the eighth. Those mixed messages can really get to a person in love. We all need to know where we stand, don™t we?

Coming to next Sunday’s cheering section : Andrew Vachss on why he’d rather witness child abuse than watch Bronson Arroyo pitch.

Phil Out Of Touchnick – Post Crusader Slides Even Further Into Irrelevancy

Posted in Professional Wrestling, Sports Journalism at 12:39 pm by

Today’s NY Post entry from Phil Mushnick is mostly composed of the Conscience Of News Corp railing against the televised poker boom. Apparently, said craze (which crested, what, 3 years ago?) could well lead to an epidemic of collegiate gambling. And just when you might’ve hoped Phil would’ve had something to say about one of the hotter sports media stories of the past week, he instead turns his attentions to a tried and true tackling dummy.

Connecticut™s Sacred Heart University, during its May 13 graduation ceremony, bestowed an honorary doctorate on Vince McMahon (above). Charles Manson must™ve been unavailable.

McMahon™s speech to the Class of ™07 was prefaced by an explanation that the honor is in recognition of œall you are and all you promise to be. A Catholic institution, Sacred Heart™s mission statement encourages a œresponsibility for the common good of society.

To that end, no clips of McMahon™s vulgar, kid-targeting WWE TV shows were shown. And, so as not to embarrass him or the school, a long roll call of drug-afflicted and prematurely deceased pro wrestlers also was avoided.

Incidentally, because he™s the recipient of an honorary doctorate, Dr. McMahon will remain unable to legally prescribe steroids to himself and to his wrestlers.

05.26.07

‘Sheed Dismisses Floppy Youngster

Posted in Basketball at 6:33 pm by

Chris McCosky of the Detroit News with the sort of thing that would ordinarily qualify for bulletin board material….were the player being dissed not so completely out of his depth.

Rasheed Wallace , asked about his “battles” with Anderson Varejao (above) : “It ain’t no battles. That kid ain’t old enough to be in what you’d want to call a battle. All that flopping, they need to make that a technical foul next year. They do all this other stuff to give me technical fouls. That’s not defense (Varejao falling to the floor on Wallace’s winning shot). I am glad we had veteran referees who saw that.”

Now playing in Freehold, NJ : Lloyd Daniels as “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave”.

Is Elijah Dukes Another O.J.?

Posted in Baseball at 5:39 pm by

Devil Rays OF Elijah Dukes returned to the lineup last night after a bit of unpleasantness earlier in the week, and homered in Tampa’s 5-4 loss to the White Sox. To hear the St. Petersburg Times’ Gary Shelton tell the tale, Dukes shouldn’t have been in uniform.

It has been days now since the accusations, and the Rays have come across as passive and meek. Dukes returned to the lineup Friday night after two days off.

Come on, I would say to Stuart Sternberg, the employer: Draw a line in the sand.

What should the Rays do with Dukes? Should they release him, suspend him, demote him? Perhaps.

The first thing they should do is find out the truth. Dukes has yet to deny the accusations. The Rays should ask him what happened. Then they can proceed.

If Sternberg ever wants to suggest there is a bond between a community and a team, this is the time to show it.

Perhaps Sternberg should listen to Lee Chimos, a safety advocate for CASA who survived seven and a half years of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband.

Along the way, Lee had both legs broken, as well as her wrist, several fingers, her ribs, her nose and her jaw. At one point, thinking he had killed her, her ex-husband buried her in a shallow grave beside their garage. He told her that if she left him, he would murder her son and her parents.

On Thursday night, Lee watched a TV report of Dukes swearing at a cameraman. She was so angry she screamed at her set.

Here is what Lee would say to Sternberg:

“Stuart, I think you need to rethink what the Devil Rays are portraying to the public. Why would you put up with this? Because you win a few more games? At what cost? At the cost of his wife being murdered? His children? We could be looking at another O.J. Simpson situation here. Baseball is an American pastime. Evidently, that goes hand in hand with domestic violence.

- Lee”

Shelton goes on to say that he’d like to “scream at Donald Fehr”, anticipating some kind of union appeal when and if Dukes is suspended. No pointing in waiting for said punative action, I suppose.

Speaking of the strong ties between baseball and domestic violence, Atlanta skipper Bobby Cox followed an ejection in Friday’s 8-3 loss to Philly with another early shower in this afternoon’s 6-4 Philly victory. For Cox, it was career ejection no. 130, while John Smoltz — a non-participant in today’s game — was also run for yelling at Ron Kulpa over the disputed fair/foul ball call in the 3rd.

While the Phillies are said to be interested in Troy Percieval, Antonio Alfonseca earned his first save in almost 5 years with a scoreless 9th inning.

The Mets’ Shawn Green fractured a bone in his right foot
in last night’s 6-2 dispatch of the Fish. With Carlos Gomez scheduled to start this evening, Ben Johnson is just a heartbeat away from making his Mets debut.

BBTN’s Young : The No. 1 Cause Of Blogger Alcoholism

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 5:04 pm by

If The Juice’s Long can propose a drinking game in honor of Eric Young, when’s the Kruky Monster Eating Contest supposed to begin? (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

Here is something I wasn’t ever expecting to write in my lifetime; Baseball Tonight really misses Harold Reynolds.

I have figured out a way to make Eric Young nights somewhat fun. Next time EY is on, listen to how he starts almost every sentence with “I tell you what.” It really is amazing that a professional broadcaster could continue to do this 2 months into his career. To make the most of this inarticulate style, ESPN needs to promote the Baseball Tonight Drinking Game. Every time that Eric Young says “I tell you what” it’s time to do a shot.

Maybe Jagermeister and Red Bull could sponsor the promotion? Actually, the show would really be fun, if everyone on set would drink as well. I could see John Kruk high-fiving EY everytime he says it, as you know he must be able to slam it down. A few jager-bombs and I bet Tim Kurjian would really loosen up.

Unless Peter Gammons is on-set, does anyone watch Baseball Tonight for insight into the game? Considering the time it generally airs, a good portion of its viewers are males 18-25, so why not go balls out and really try to appeal to its demographic. If MLB teams serve alcohol in its locker rooms after games, why not truly embrace it. I tell you what it sure makes sense to me.

Dana White Is Ready For His Close Up

Posted in MMA at 4:32 pm by

Though I’m not convinced the hoopla surrounding tonight’s UFC 71 Liddell/Jackson bout in Vegas is any indication MMA has soared past other pastimes (shoveling snow, burning books, air guitar) in the battle for the hearts and minds of young America, one thing is certain. UFC supremeo Dana White is not going to be mistaken for David Stern.  From Sherdog.com’s Jake Rossen :

Remarking on the upcoming bout between vaunted Internet personality Kimbo Slice and aging boxer Ray Mercer, White used labels like “disgusting” and “unfortunate,” professing little interest in the match.

“I can’t believe the state of New Jersey sanctioned that fight.”

Touching on K-1′s tumultuous week in trying to obtain a California license, White scoffed that the event would even transpire. “These guys from K-1 are coming in and telling you, ˜We’re gonna sell out a 100,000 seat arena.’ You idiots! You can’t sell out a ballroom in Las Vegas! Come on. Give me a break. It’s insane. These guys couldn’t give 100,0000 tickets away. Every time they have a K-1 in Vegas, they give away tickets for a ballroom in the Mirage. It’s comical to me.”

Told that Tito Ortiz was being courted by the IFL to become one of their coaches, White sighed. “The IFL doesn’t phase me one bit. It’s like team tennis. That didn’t work, and team fighting definitely won’t work. Nobody wants to see team fighting. They’ve got the Woodchucks vs. the Crazy Beavers. Is that what you want to see on a Saturday night? It’s a retarded concept.”

The contentious relationship with Ortiz continued, with White reserving his harshest words for his onetime marquee attraction. “Tito’s such a pussy. He cries about everything. Shut up, Tito. Show up and fight and do what you’re supposed to do. This kid would step over a dollar to pick up a dime. Shut up and fight Rashad Evans and beat him. He’s always crying about something.”

Scott On The Globe’s Deafening Silence Regarding Borges’ Departure

Posted in Sports Journalism at 3:27 pm by

With Boston’s WRKO rescinding their earlier invite to I-Man co-conspirator Bernard McGuirk, the Globe’s Derrick Z. Jackson heralds the dawn of a new, caring, sharing Beantown. It’s a stance that David Scott of Boston Sports Media finds curious, given the Globe’s reluctance to publicly critique their own resident reprobate, the mysteriously departed Ron Borges.

Jackson “ and by default, the Globe “ appear to have no problem telling other media entities how to go about their business, but we can™t even get a statement from the paper™s editor (Martin Baron, above) on the squirrelly œretirement of Ron Borges, the former Globe sportswriter who Baron had strongly insinuated had committed at least one act of plagiarism when he suspended Borges in early March.

For the folks reading between the lines of the whole sordid Borges mess, the buried, late Friday afternoon announcement and stark silence thereafter indicate just one thing: The parties separated on bad terms and everyone has been required to zip it up tight under terms of the separation.

Neither Borges, Baron nor Union President Dan Totten has returned emails in the past week from Shots requesting some clarification on the end of Borges™ Globe career. (Last we communicated with Totten, he informed us that Borges was awaiting an arbitration hearing in June, likely over back pay and the way he was suspended.) Even our usually reliable Globe moles have had little to say other than the business-side confidant who said, œI can read between the lines the same way everyone else can.

But the question is, ˜Why should an already distrustful readership be forced to read between those lines?™ Couldn™t sports editor, Joe Sullivan go a long way in closing the Borges chapter with a little transparency in the form of an editor™s letter or an on-line chat? Shouldn™t a paper that gave us Mike Barnicle and Patricia Smith “ from a company that brought us Jayson Blair “ shouldn™t that company be ultra-sensitive about backdoor buyouts and hints of impropriety? Even if it is œjust the Sports section?

UEFA’s Curious Choice For A Champions League Final Venue

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 10:58 am by

From the Mirror’s Jeremy Armstrong :

Hundreds of Liverpool fans were tear gassed and baton charged as police stopped 2,000 supporters with real tickets getting into the Champions League final.

Some feared another Hillsborough tragedy amid the ugly scenes outside the Athens arena.

Phil Hammond, whose son Phil, 14, was among 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death at Hillsborough in 1989, feared the worst.

He said: “I thought of our Phil when I got in the stadium and prayed no other young lads would die outside. I texted my wife Hilda and said, ‘There is going to be another Hillsborough’.”

As the crowd, which included children, swelled police sprayed tear gas and lashed out with batons. Some supporters were even threatened with guns.

Former Tory leader Michael Howard, a keen Liverpool fan, said: “There were large numbers of fans inevitably pushing forward, worried that they weren’t going to get in.

“People said, ‘We were at Hills-borough and we are feeling exactly the same as we felt then’.”

Some of the loyal Reds had paid thousands of pounds for genuine tickets – only to be turned away from the Olympic Stadium.

Season ticket holder Robbie Annersley, 42, from Anfield, refused entry to the AC Milan final said: “We were tear-gassed when we got to the turnstiles and then I was baton charged.

“One woman was pregnant and she was gassed and knocked to the ground. The police kept saying, ‘It is not our fault, the ground is full,’ but they would not look at our tickets.”

A policeman pointed a gun at IT worker Ian Voce, 47, from Crosby. He said: “I had a genuine ticket. I paid £1,200 to get here. When the copper drew his gun on me, I decided to get out of there.”

Uefa officials were blasted for staging the final at the 71,000-seater stadium. Software engineer Brian McNance, 44, stormed: “Next year it is in Moscow and they are talking about a 50,000-seater stadium. Imagine if Liverpool and Man United get through to that? It will be chaos.”

Simon Gass, the British Ambassador in Athens, and Mersey-side police, whose officers were at the game, pledged a full investigation. But the Greek authorities said it was an “absolute success”.

On the bright side, Jason Whitlock has yet to blame hip hop for any of the ugly scenes that took place in Athens.

05.25.07

Thanking Tigra & Bunny For A Classic Friday Night

Posted in Baseball at 9:01 pm by

And you thought the Brian Leetch nostalgia was over the top.  The Mets have busted loose in the 9th in Miami, MySpace stud Tyler Clippard has come back to earth in the Bronx, and — stop me if you’ve heard this one recently — the Reds have lost (nice work, David Weathers).

I’m on my way to see The Black. Normal service will resume tomorrow morning. Or whenever someone else feels like chiming in.

Leitch Acting Shitty Towards SI’s Walter Mitty

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, Will Leitch Sucks at 8:36 pm by

It is very tempting to claim Sports Illustrated’s venerable Tom Verducci has forgotten more about baseball than Deadspin’s Will Leitch will ever learn.  That, however, is probably a gross exaggeration. It might be more to the point to say that I’ve forgotten more about George Plimpton than Leitch has learned about Verducci, but either way, let’s review Will’s comments regarding Tom.

In ’05, Verducci participated in Toronto’s spring training in Dunedin, FL. Last Monday, Verducci played right field for the Blue Jays during their Cooperstown, NY exhibition against the Orioles.

Were I a paying customer that afternoon, I might’ve been somewhat dismayed at Toronto denying playing time to another member of the organization in favor of the SI scribe.  And while I don’t know Will Leitch’s whereabouts that day, he seems to take unusual umbrage for an altogether different reason.

We understand Verducci’s instinct; playing baseball was one of the most pleasurable things we’ve ever done, and we miss it, pretty much every day. But after a while, it really does just become a vanity project; yes, yes, Tom, we understand that you are in better shape than just about everybody else who covers baseball. But it might be time to let it go.

We understand the notion; believe us, Tom, we do. But it’s probably time to move on now. Every athlete scoffs that all sports reporters are just frustrated athletes. You’re not doing much to prove them wrong. We know it hurts. We know. But time to put the spikes away.

I guess I missed the part of Verducci’s article where he announced he’d be doing this annually.  But just the same, he might do well to take Will’s advice and stick to far more dignified journalistic pursuits — like taking batting practice against John Rocker.

Saying Goodbye To A New York Sports Legend

Posted in Hockey, New York, New York at 8:11 pm by

It’s been an emotional week at CSTB HQ with the news that a consumate professional, an intense, selfless competitor, will never again don a New York uniform. But enough about Carl Pavano, apparently Brian Leetch after “the finest career an American-born hockey player has ever had,” in the words of the Daily News’ John Dellapina, is hanging up his skates.

Leetch was a terror on the power play for most of his 16 seasons as a New York Ranger, an 11 time All-Star, one of just 7 defensemen to with 1000 career points or more, the 24th captain in Rangers history, and the only American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1994). The sight of no. 2 in a Maple Leafs or Bruins jersey was as visually jarring as Santa Claus blowing the Easter Bunny.

He’s a shoo-in for the Hall Of Fame and would have to be considered for any short list of the most important New York sportsmen of the modern era. With Leetch’s retirement, a chunk of my most cherished MSG memories come flooding back in a frenzied bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome. But enough about Slayer at the Felt Forum. I look forward to Brian’s number being raised to the Garden rafters next season, along with the obligatory Phil Mushnick column bemoaning MSG’s attempts to flog some crappy commemorative merchandise.

Where’s The Outrage From Mike Brown?

Posted in Basketball at 4:41 pm by

Kind of a gargantuan non-call on Rip Hamilton last night at the end of Motown’s 79-76 Game 2 win over Cleveland, and for once in a blue moon, I’ve got to give an ESPN Radio host some credit for an interesting observation.

Overnight gabber Jason Smith laid blame for the Cavs being down 2-0 squarely at the feet of head coach Mike Brown, surmising that after King James failed to go to the line even once during Game One, Brown should’ve all but invited the Association to slap him with a $50K fine during a postgame outburst that never happened.

Likewise, Brown was relatively subdued after last night’s alleged robbery.  And I think Smith has a point.  Can you imagine Pat Riley, Phil Jax or Jeff Van Gundy failing to campaign through the media?  Any of the above have gone overboard, hoping to intimidate the refs, however slightly. Perhaps Detroit would’ve prevailed on Thursday, either way.  But in terms of giving his team the best possible chance to win, Mike Brown is obliged to use every tactic at his disposal. Wondering out loud how many other player’s of LeBron’s stature would fail to get such a call oughta be part of the arsenal.

El Duque Returns, Vargas Departs

Posted in Baseball at 3:35 pm by

Orlando Hernandez will get the start for the Mets tonight against the Fish, and while Jason Vargas will be sent back to New Orleans, Rick Peterson suggests to the New York Post’s Mark Hale that El Duque will not be on a pitch count Friday evening.

Hernandez, who was on the DL with bursitis in his right shoulder, last pitched on April 24. Recently, he threw two simulated games (the most recent on Sunday) as well as a bullpen session on Tuesday. Both Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson expect Hernandez to be able to last his typical length. Hernandez threw seven innings in three of his five Mets starts this season and tossed between 91 and 104 pitches in all of them.

“He’s ready to pitch on normal volume,” Peterson said.

While Willie Randolph seems to characterize last night’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta and John Smoltz (career win no. 200 for the latter) as a matter of the Braves “wanting it just a little more,” the Journal News’ John Delcos begs to differ :

All year when the Mets have looked sluggish it has been because of their inability to manufacture runs and hit with men in scoring position. They were 1-for-9 in that situation last night.

To me, that was the game. David Wright getting punched out to end the third with the bases loaded was the play of the game.

If the Mets were flat it was because John Smoltz made it look that way. Randolph did not elaborate his comments when asked. I am sure he will be asked again today.

David Wright was rung up on a disputed checked swing, and It’s Mets For Me can barely stand to watch the replay.

This umpiring crew, who shall go unnamed, is like a Mets Rouges Gallery. But they were beyond bad last night. Balls, strikes, pick offs, punch outs, they flubbed it all. I bet they didn’t even dust off homeplate. It was enough to piss off the Pope. It is unbelievable that they get away with it. As John Smoltz might say, “what’s next, marrying an animal?”

I said last night to no one in particular, that shit happens to the Br*ves and Bobby Cox is out there as fast as his 79 year old hips will carry him. Why does he do it? I imagine a shrewd manager who goes balistic on an obviously flubbed call is not only firing up his team, but putting social pressure on the ump in front of thousands of fans to make the next call in his team’s favor; by the way, there was an opportunity for payback in this game.

As for the argument that Willie needs to keep his composure if he wants to impersonate the manager of a first place team, I say nonsense. If Willie lays down, shows no passion, and stays in the dugout like a scared rabbit, if he is the true leader of the squad, you have to think that perhaps they will follow his lead. David Wright obviously was passionate about the call, at least. And if Willie is going to continue to make questionable tactical decisions (batting Franco, not calling for a bunt), than some would argue he needs to get his WWF on and do something to help his team, like protect Wright, who obviously had no compunction about showing passion, after that horrendous call.

While I’m not about to throw myself out the window over the Mets having lost 6 of 9 to the Braves this season (mostly because I live on the ground floor), I can only admire the calm resolve of SNY’s Gary Cohen, who took time out from last night’s crucial encounter to laugh at the Nationals giving former Met Mike Bacsik a start. Sure enough, Bacsik was the winning pitcher in DC’s 4-3 defeat of the Reds, a result that left Cincinnati with the worst record in the National League (18-30).