With The Mets Trailing, 4-3, Let The Finger Pointing Commence

Posted in Baseball at 7:06 pm by

On paper, I’m perfectly happy with a match-up between the Mets’ Oliver Perez and Florida’s Byung-Hung Kim. That’s assuming, however, the former’s control problems don’t resurface and and two Fish runs aren’t tallied on bases-loaded HBP’s. The Marlins lead, 4-1, in the last of the 3rd at Shea, and while the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman wrote this morning, “it’s still early to talk about firings, though, no matter how dark things seem” please note it’s been several hours since the newspaper was published.

I don’t believe that bad performance is generally contagious in baseball. It’s far too much of an individual sport, and unlike, say, basketball, it’s usually not even clear how the contagion would spread. In this case, though, it’s obvious that something has gone horribly wrong with all these pitchers at one time.

There are three likely causes here. The first is that the Mets’ bullpen just isn’t all that good. Wagner and Heilman are elite pitchers, but the rest of the Mets’ pen simply consists of marginally skilled relievers. The choices made by manager Willie Randolph ” sending the execrable Mota in to face the heart of the Phillies’ lineup, for instance, or letting Florida’s Miguel Cabrera hit against soft-tossing lefties ” haven’t helped at all, but he does have to send someone to the mound. The real culprit may just be lack of talent.

The second explanation is that when everyone is collapsing, it has tangible effects. Mets’ relievers have simply looked nervous on the hill lately ” and who can blame them? When there’s a fresh goat every night, no one wants to wear the horns, and when you start thinking about failure, you’re more likely to fail. Heilman has been throwing harder than usual lately, and locating the ball far less well. That’s exactly the kind of muscling up that every pitcher knows isn’t a good idea, and he hasn’t been alone in doing it.

This brings us to the third explanation. Pitching coach Rick Peterson has received hardly any blame at all for this collapse, but he really should. Pitcher performance is ultimately his responsibility, in bad times as in good, and the Mets haven’t gotten the job done. More to the point, when pitchers are trying to blow the ball by hitters despite knowing that’s counterproductive, a coach whose forte is supposedly the mental aspect of the sport needs to come in for special blame. Peterson has been generally excellent since coming to New York, but if the Mets miss the playoffs, he’ll be the member of the team’s management most deserving of being fired.

(UPDATE : Marlins 4, Mets 3. Carlos Beltran hit a 2-run HR off Kim, a pitcher well experienced in lending a sense of hope to New Yorkers during their low moments).

Assuming their club isn’t swept this weekend, the following PDF might be of some passing interest to Mets fans.

If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a sports columist for a major tabloid but thought a lack of wit, insight or any sort of unique point of view might stand in your way, buck up — it didn’t stop Mike Vaccaro.

Finally, Metsradamus has obtained an early preview of the Mets 2007 season highlights DVD.

Dolan’s New Court Battle

Posted in Hockey, The Internet, The Law at 4:44 pm by

From the AP :

Madison Square Garden sued the National Hockey League Friday, saying the NHL has monopolized control of promoting its teams.

The NHL claims it will fine MSG, which owns the New York Rangers, $100,000 per day if they do not give the NHL complete control over the team’s Web site and other promotions, the suit said.

MSG said it had no choice but to bring the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan because the fines were scheduled to begin Friday.

The organization asked that a judge order the league to stop acting as “an illegal cartel,” limiting what the team does to promote itself through the Web and with merchandising efforts.

Indeed, with the league’s interference, the Broadway Blues are prevented from displaying their vast photographic archive devoted to the Rangers Ice Bitches City Skaters.

Arenas’ Memorabilia Jones Is Really Out Of Hand

Posted in Baseball, Basketball at 4:38 pm by

The shy, retiring Gilbert Arenas, not satisfied with hoarding vintage jerseys, tells DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg that he’d like to purchase Barry Bonds’ 756th career HR ball from designer Mark Ecko. The same ball Ecko is said to be donating to the Hall Of Fame affixed with an asterisk.

“It’s history,” Gil began. “It’s still history. I mean, the guy’s a man before he’s some big slugger. I mean, how you just going to take what this man’s done for his career and, as another man, say ‘Hey, you were accused of this, you allegedly did this, I want to take this away from you.’ I mean, what if we took away your Ecko company?

“I mean, why graffiti the ball when, in everybody’s mind, they think he’s done it. So no matter what, when they look at the ball, they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, he allegedly….You don’t have to mark it in history. Like, who are you? Are you Superman? You’re sitting here throwing all the rockets into space: ‘I want to send it to space?’ Are you serious? Like, come on.”

Someone asked whether Gilbert thought Ecko was just a hater.

“I don’t know what his relationship is to Bonds, but I just didn’t understand it,” Gilbert said. “Like, as an athlete, I don’t want nobody to say, ‘He was in the hyperbaric chamber, we’re gonna ban that tomorrow, now the 60 points he scored last year, I’m going to dot those shoes up.’ Let’s be for real.”

Tim Hardaway’s Non-Hateful Gay Photo Op

Posted in Basketball at 4:24 pm by

Congratulations to Tim Hardaway for taking the time to learn that homosexuals-r-people-too through the auspices of the Yes Institute.

Tim should also be credited for not taking my suggestion of reaching out to the YES Network. Not only would he have learned nothing in the process, but increased exposure to Michael Kay might well have turned the former NBA star from an admitted homophobe to a downright committed misanthrope.

The Most Important Piece Of Sports Journalism You Will Read In 2007…

Posted in The World Of Entertainment, Vroom Vroom at 4:03 pm by

…will have to wait, because I’m instead directing you to the aneuryism waiting to happen that is NASCAR.com’s Raygan Swan and her “Need Soap Opera? Check Out The NASCAR Garage”.

(McMurray, back in the garage with his bullshit detector)

Justin Timberlake brought sexy back but Jamie McMurray is bringing the drama back to daytime TV.

The 31-year-old blonde bomber made his soap-opera debut this week on Passions, a campy daytime drama that depicts supernatural adventures between rival families and foes along with the “whose bed have your boots been under” storylines that make every daytime drama a favorite guilty pleasure for all who watch.

Interesting enough, the same ingredients that make shows like Passions popular are some of the same ingredients that make NASCAR one of the most talked about sports on TV.

Like a soap opera, with a dash of reality television, NASCAR is not without family feuds, tawdry trysts and tussles, bouts with drugs and blunders under the covers.

And like a high school cafeteria, the NASCAR garage is where it all starts; it’s where the worst-kept secrets are revealed as soon as they are whispered.

Most industry players will tell you the garage is a real hot bed for gossip and drama; drama for your mama, your sister, your cousin, brother and your uncle, too.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin explained why.

“NASCAR can be that way because we all travel together so much and we know so much about each other’s lives,” he said. “You know guys talk about each other when they walk away. It’s not like other sports where there are only two teams on the field.”

Anonymous Big Leaguer : “The Pussy Is Plentiful”

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression, History's Great Hook-Ups at 11:45 am by

Sam Frank, reading Craigslist for research purposes only, forwards the following response to this provocative CL post :

How? Sports, i was drafted in ’06 out of college via the mlb draft and signed a lucrative contract with incentives due to my draft status, the pay scale is progressive depending on where you were drafted, but i digress, the “woman” who posted has to be a phony or attention whore.

I’m 23 and unless i’m out in a outrageously fancy car or excessive bling women dont give a fuck. I’m a handsome guy, but otherwise i’m only that, but when my top is down in my ride they flock like pigeons. Men who have money are very aware as to who is “real”. It’s the women you meet under circumstances that allow them to see you for you is where you weed out the hoes.

I’ve seen it all and me and my buddies just laugh. It’s like bull durham. Groupies everywhere in some cities we travel. These women know once we roll into town there are perspective millionaires in waiting. I play minor league ball, i will break into the majors one day, and like i mentioned earlier your pay is based on your draft status. Some guys make from 800.00 to 6k a month if they dont have a contract.

To the doubters its ok. I’ve said what i have to say. you’d be surprised who searches craigslist. “rich” people have myspaces, facebooks, etc, so it wouldn’t be a reach to say they go on tmz, craigslist, etc. To the hoes on here we dont want you. You’re a piece of ass and most of us dont even use escorts unless its late late at night, otherwise, the pussy is plentiful. A lot of these women just want to breath the air we breath. We have rockstar status.

Captain Midnight’s Not-So-Long Journey Into Darkness

Posted in Sports Radio at 11:07 am by

We’re right there with you, Steve. Not literally, of course (link courtesy Jon Solomon).

Cubs New Mascot Debuts in Miami

Posted in Baseball, When Mascots Attack at 10:54 am by

(Bill Murray, the Cubs’ new batting coach, gives some advice before yesterday’s Marlins game.  Unfortunately, they listened to him. Photos: Tom Cruze, Sun-Times).

I accept the irony of a Marlins sweep of the Cubs the same way 1950s Dodger fans used to say, “I know we can beat the Yankees. Why can’t we beat the Cubs?” Or, as Cub Fan #1, and hopefully the team’s new owner, Bill Murray, said in the Cubs dugout yesterday, “There is no time for being cautiously optimistic …That’s for losers. I don’t buy that. I’m very, very optimistic. This is Game 159? Why would I be cautious now? Look at how I’m dressed. Do I look cautious?”

”I might make him my bench coach,” Piniella told The Sun-Times Chris DeLuca. Me, I hope Murray is the new owner of the Cubs next year. While a Cubs parent company scribe at The Tribune, Rick Morrissey, asks if the Cubs play-offs hopes are going “over a cliff” this morning, I prefer to note the Brewers are a lot closer than the Cubs to that cliff. The Padres, desperate to clinch one of two positions (wild card or division), beat them handily in a 9-6 win that makes sense vs. the Cubs mysterious 10th loss to the Marlins, 6-4. The Brewers loss reduced their elimination number to 2, meaning a Cub win and a Brewers loss today ends the season for Milwaukee.

As to the talk of who will own the Cubs next year, Murray, a minor league owner for years, said, “‘I save, but I don’t save that much …But it’s interesting. I’ve heard from some people, but I’m not that organized.” When grilled by pessimistic Tribune writers who argued that a World Series win would change the Cubs’ character, Murray replied, “That’s like saying you wouldn’t be you if you were asleep … Isn’t that exactly what it’s like? I don’t accept that [theory] because the Cubs already have won five World Series, and they are the Cubs. Would the Cubs be the Cubs if they lost the World Series? That’s sick thinking. You have to watch out for people like that. I should be watching you.”

Can’t wait for someone to take over the reins. No one has more passive aggressive hate for the Cubs than the Tribco, as evidenced by their 25 years of shoddy ownership and today’s Rick Morrissey column:

After the 6-4 loss on Thursday, Piniella rightly pointed out that, in a sense, this is what the Cubs are–no, not a team that gags down the stretch, but a team that has been up and down most of the season.

And that would be a fine analysis if it weren’t for the fact that about a century of bad history is dangling by a thread over the Cubs’ heads.

“We’re playing baseball, we’re not thinking about history,” first baseman Derrek Lee said.

There are those of us who are sure Lee has it backward. The Cubs are playing history, and they’re not thinking about baseball. It’s not easy to face another team and historic ineptitude at the same time.

With three games left in the regular season, the Cubs lead the Brewers by

Why 7-Eleven hasn’t moved to sponsor this last series against the Reds is beyond me: Take a Big Gulp, Cubs fans.

“I don’t think anybody’s panicking,” second baseman Mark DeRosa said. “We trust each other.”

Reserve your trust, Cubs fans. Protect yourself.

Connecticut Newspaper Willingly Participates In Hate Crime Against Dead Tony Perkins

Posted in Baseball, Cinema at 12:02 am by

The Westbury Press’ Don Harrison had the pleasure of catching up with former Red Sox outfielder / electroshock patient Jimmy Piersall at a recent Connecticut autograph session. “I think Piersall musta clanged his empty head on Karl Malden’s nose one time too many” muses Baseball Think Factory’s Repoz, an unscientific diagnosis, to be sure.

On and off the field, Piersall often could not control himself, which nearly led to his early exit from baseball and, in 1952, his commitment to a mental hospital. His comeback the following season provided the impetus for his autobiography, Fear Strikes Out, written with the late Al Hirshberg. A biopic with the same title followed in 1957, starring the miscast Anthony Perkins as Piersall and the talented Karl Malden as his overbearing father.

Piersall has disowned the film. “They had a fag playing me,” he wailed. “I didn’t climb no screen. My father wasn’t as tough as they made him out to be.”For this appearance in Westport, a speaking engagement at the Hartford World Series Club the following night and a couple of other stops, Piersall had flown from Chicago to Boston. He and his third wife, Jan, share a home in suburban Wheaton, Ill. and winter in Scottsdale, Ariz.

On this trip, there would be no visit to his native Waterbury, a once-flourishing city of 107,000 in the Naugatuck Valley.

“I was there five years ago. It’s really a crime what they’ve done to that city. It makes me sick,” Piersall said. “I said to the mayor, ‘If I give you a $1,000 bucks, will you fix it up?’ He told me ‘Don’t bother. It’ll only get dirty again.’”


Hockey Season Has Officially Arrived.

Posted in Hockey, Mob Behavior at 11:52 pm by

We know this because ill-tempered Flyers rookie Steve Downie (above, giving the flying clothesline to Ottawa’s Dean McCammond) is sure to be suspended.

And we know this because the Sens Brian McGrattan has all but channeled Brad May, saying, in effect, “tune in November 24th for the next Bertuzzi/Moore incident!”

He’ll get what’s coming to him. He’ll do it to the wrong guy and somebody will put him out of hockey. You do that at his level a couple of times, guys in junior won’t do it, but guys at this level will. He’ll get what’s coming to him next time we play him, that’s for sure.

Jason Blake and Wade Belak of the Maple Leafs have also spoken out against the hit:

“I’ve got one thought: This (Downie) should not be (allowed) to play in the league again,” Blake told a Toronto radio station.

“One day a player is not going to get up, so something needs to be done about hits of that nature.”

“No respect,” Leafs forward Wade Belak said of Downie’s actions. “I’d never have done something like that in my first year.”

That’s right, you need to be a 10 year-vet to do something like that… so it will be interesting to see if Downie gets more games than Belak did (eight) for his two-handed chop to a guy’s face. (“It was a little severe I think,” Belak said of his suspension then. “I wasn’t expecting to walk away with less than three, but I thought no more than five.”)

Of course you’ll also find plenty of people who believe that any punishment at all is proof that Gary Bettman’s league panders to wussies – and not just in Philadelphia.

And you’ll find all sorts of Jesuit-like musings on the timing of the hit and the legality of aiming for the head, including an otherwise-disgusted Bob McKenzie and the Toronto Star‘s Damien Cox.

I have to agree with Cox that banning hits to the head seems like (sorry!) a no-brainer. Then it becomes like a high-sticking call – intent and incidental contact can’t be argued. Make that unambiguous and all other kinds of hits and legal violence could continue unabated (which I mean to say would be a good thing).

It’s enough to make a hockey fan nostalgic for the summer, when everybody talked about how fresh-scrubbed NHL players seemed compared to Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy and Barry Bonds. Back then Greg Wyshynski nailed it:

Hockey has a bigger image problem than any of the other “big three” in the sense that its headline-grabbing embarrassments happen during the games rather than at a BALCO lab or during the off-season. And unlike David Stern with the Donaghy scandal, Gary Bettman and the NHL have been unable to convince the mainstream media that horrific acts like Bertuzzi’s and [Chris] Simon’s are isolated and not systemic.”

And that’s when Bettman and the NHL can even get “the mainstream media” to take their calls.