Joel Piniero, Closer Of Flushing Caskets

Posted in Baseball at 10:51 pm by

Cardinals 3, Mets 0

It sort of figures. After a stretch in which Mets starters and relievers alike have struggled mightily, Thursday saw New York receive a competent, if not downright gutty 7 innings from Pedro Martinez (two earned runs, 8 hits, 8 K’s), followed by two innings of scoreless relief from the much maligned Aaron Heilman and Pedro Felicano.

Of course, all of this took place on the same night St. Louis’ Joel Piniero limited the Mets to 3 hits over 8 shutout innings, with no NY baserunner advancing past 2nd. This is the same Piniero, by the way, who came into tonight’s contest with an ERA of 6.75 over his past 3 games. How’s it feel, Mets fans, knowing that such a historic collapse came not at the hands of pitchers named Smoltz, Maddux, Webb or Zambrano, but via final week defeats to the likes of Piniero and Matt Chico?

When did Miguel Cairo overdose on Brooks Robinson pills?

Given the recent state of the Mets bullpen, it’s hard to quarrel with Willie Randolph sticking with Pedro through 105 pitches. However, I’m gonna do just that. The entire building was well aware Philly got off to a fast lead against the Braves and the playoffs have essentially already begun. Trailing 3-0 in the fifth with two outs and Shawn Green on first, Randolph chose to let Martinez hit for himself, resulting in a 4-3 put out.

It might seem like the height of lunacy to advocate pulling Pedro when he still had a bit left in the tank, but Green was the last Met to reach base all evening. If ever there was a time to roll the dice and let one of the myriad of available hitters take a shot at Piniero, this was it. Randolph’s ballclub could be eliminated by the end of play Saturday — if there wasn’t a sense of urgency tonight, when would it be appropriate?

Tonight’s celebrity sightings : Will Leitch, begging for a kicking resplendent in a Rick Ankiel away jersey. Ronan Tynan wannabe David O’Leary (no relation to the former Leeds manager), and uh, the really annoying cowbell guy that patrols the Shea mezzanine.

While Jose Reyes’ regression to a target of the Queens boo birds is undoubtedly depressing, I’m surprised the MMS has yet to report on the way Lastings Milledge has been buried somewhere underneath the CitiField construction site.

Though I understand that Orel Hershiser is correct if he’s trying to illustrate the contrast between the gloomy vibe at Shea (an announced attendance of 48,000, but at least 15,000 of those fans were disguised as empty seats) and the rockin’ atmosphere at Citizen Bank Park this week, there’s really no such thing as being “out fanbased”.

Down to the Wire…

Posted in Baseball at 8:51 pm by

The last-place Florida Marlins, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, are 69-90.

The fourth-place Washington Nationals, having taken two three of three at Shea, are 72-87.

So with three games left in baseball’s regular season, can the Fish at least enjoy a little company down in the cellar? Every NL East fan wants to know.

Correction Appended (as opposed to, y’know, crossing out for comedy).

Outspoken Critics of the Bengals “D” Face Persecution

Posted in Going To The Zoo, Gridiron, Ugly New Stadiums at 6:11 pm by

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Operators of Paul Brown Stadium want permission from the city to kill birds that have been pooping on Bengals fans.

Pigeon droppings have been falling on patrons and into their food and beverages, according to a letter to the city from Eric Brown, managing director of Paul Brown Stadium Ltd., which runs the stadium for Hamilton County, which owns it.

He asked in his letter that stadium employees who are familiar with firearms be allowed to shoot birds a few days prior to an event, adding that company officials believe the shooting to be a œcost-effective way to get this problem under control.

So long as the “stadium employees who are familiar with firearms” include Chris Henry, I’m all for it.

Didn’t They Already Try This With Madden ’08?

Posted in Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?, Video Games at 3:52 pm by

From Pacific Epoch :

Shanda (Nasdaq: SNDA) subsidiary Aurora Technology has frozen game accounts of male players who chose to play female in-game characters in its in-house developed MMORPG King of the World, reports 17173. Aurora stipulates that only female gamers can play female characters in the game, and it requires gamers who chose female characters to prove their biological sex with a webcam, according to the report.

Though Red Sox starter Curt Schilling was unavailable for comment, I’ll just presume he approves of the above measure.

Joe Theismann’s Expulsion From Bristol U. Now Complete

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 2:09 pm by

If Cathy Lee Crosby were editing CSTB, the following story would afford her an opportunity to write, “payback’s a bitch, motherfucker.” I’m too nice for that kind of thing, however, so I’ll just quote from Pro Football Talk’s latest update on the broadcasting career of Joe Theismann :

ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu tells us that Joe Theismann is no longer affiliated with the network. Here’s the official statement: “We have reached a settlement with Joe Theismann to end his association with ESPN. We thank Joe for his many years of work for us and wish him well.”

So ends a relationship that extended over more than three decades. And it came about without a party or a press conference or any other proclamation. Instead, ESPN replaced Theismann with Seth Wickersham on the expert picks page of ESPN.com, and apparently presumed that no one would notice.

Pearlman : Ron Darling Wasn’t Always This Smooth

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 12:32 pm by

Page 2′s Jeff Pearlman lavishes considerable praise on SNY’s Gary Cohen, Ron Darling (above) and Keith Hernandez, calling the trio, “major league baseball’s top three-man broadcast team.” Though not without reminding us that Darling’s teeth-cutting as a TV analyst was rough going.

Just watch the old tapes. Throughout the 2005 season, Darling worked for Washington’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, for which he called 150 Nationals games with the wooden indecisiveness of Jon-Erik Hexum portraying Phineas Bogg.

Hexum, for those under the age of 50, was the model-slash-actor who perished after mistakenly shooting himself in the head during the filming of CBS’ “Cover Up” (in which he played, appropriately enough, a model-slash-secret agent).

It’s Called Chokitude: Cubs and Brewers Both Lose

Posted in Baseball at 12:20 pm by

(The AP’s Lynne Sladky captures Cliff Floyd in a less than graceful exit, as the Marlins force him out at second)

(‘Turn it the [expletive] off,” shouted veteran pitcher Steve Trachsel, the latest Cub who will swim with the fishes today.

That’s from last night, as quoted by The Sun-Times’ Chris De Luca, telling his teammates to turn off the Cardinals-Brewers game in the clubhouse. Both the Cubs and Brewers appear undecided on who wants to win the NL Central title. At least they did last night, in that neither team looked like they wanted to close the deal anytime soon as the Cubs lost their 9th of the year ( 7-4) to the last place Marlins and the Brewers lost (7-3) to the Cardinals. Me, I couldn’t turn off the Cards-Brewers game because the only way the Cubs coulda got anything out of last night was the Cards beating Milwaukee and dropping the Brewers elimination number to 3. Traschel gets the ball today to make sure he isn’t hung with the Cubs 10th loss in a row to the Marlins.
The losses put the screws to both Cubs and Brewers, since the Brewers get to spend the rest of the week making up wins against the Padres who have even more on the line than they do. San Diego is in iboth the Western Division race and neck and neck with Philadelphia for the Wild Card.

The Cubs get the slightly easier task of one more game against the jinxed Marlins and then a final run against the Reds. The loss last night means that Piniella is shifting the line-up, playing Zambrano a day early, as reported by the Northwest Herald’s David Brown. The problem: Playoffs or not, “Big Z,” as he likes to call himself in the off-season when demanding raises, is a Big L on opening days of any series, not just play-off or Word Series games.

“The big thing was to let Zambrano pitch on his [normal] day,” Piniella said. “That being the case, it allows him to pitch on his fifth day for the first day of the playoffs. Makes perfect sense.”

Zambrano, after losing on opening day at Cincinnati, said he never wanted to pitch another opener – seemingly because of jitters.

Players get fewer jitters in the playoffs, apparently.

“I think a playoff game is a heck of a lot different than an opening day,” Piniella said. “He’s had a couple of hundred innings under his belt” by now.

Here is how the Cubs rotation stacks up – at the moment: Steve Trachsel goes today, then Zambrano, Rich Hill on Saturday with an extra day of rest and Ted Lilly on Sunday.

Can Sully’s Tees Come Up With A Response On Short Notice?

Posted in Baseball at 11:24 am by

Rog writes, “Check out this fine piece of sports memorabilia.”

“Forget about East Coast Bias, how about Yankees Bias? I should buy one of these and wear it to the Red Sox Victory Parade.”

Indeed, this initiative by MLB.com seems a tad premature. As did the near-drowning of Joe Torre with champagne last night after the Bombers clinched (at least) a playoff berth with a 12-4 victory at Yankee Stadium South aka the Trop. Without taking anything away from what’s been a remarkable turnaround by any standard, has it really been so long between World Championships that a mere Wild Card berth is celebrated with such glee?  More to the point, can anyone tell me if coverage of the postgame hi-jinx pre-empted Larry David’s appearance on “Center Stage”?  There might be some harsh words exchanged between me and the TiVo when I get home Saturday (and like all of the conversations at CSTB HQ, it will probably be one-way traffic).

4 Days Left For Redemption In Flushing

Posted in Baseball at 11:07 am by

While Sam Frank has offered his congratulations on CSTB receiving recognition from The Paper Of Record, I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to register the domain billywagnerbeatentodeathbyangrymob.org late last night. With last night’s 9-6 defeat to the lowly Nats (who’ve managed to take 5 of 6 from the Mets in September), Willie Randolph’s sinking ship has no remaining margin for error. It might require nothing less than running the table over the next 4 days to ensure a postseason spot, never mind the division crown, as Philadelphia’s 5-2 defeat of Atlanta closed the gap to its closest since May.

The old line about Casey’s Mets finding new ways to lose every day doesn’t really apply to this September swoon. These Mets generally have two ways of capitulating — either fall far behind early, or watch any combination of relievers let the game slip away.

For all of Mike Geffner’s protests of there being no leaders in the Mets clubhouse besides Paulie Large Nuts, for all of the WFAN howlers last night who insisted that David Wright “is the only one facing the press”, I’ll submit that Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou have made an admirable effort — both playing hurt, mind you — to rouse the club from its slumber. Neither, however, can pitch. At present, the entire bullpen has to be held accountable for their inability to do much besides pour kerosene on a blaze.

Just how large a lead should the offense be expected to mount? 5-0 wasn’t enough on Wednesday, and for the 2nd week in a row, Mets pitching was abused by the weakest hitting team in the National League — to the tune of 32 runs in 3 nights, no less. And with that recent history hanging over their heads, Wilpon Inc. hands the ball to Pedro Martinez tonight against the drunken most recent World Champs, for what arguably is Pedro’s biggest start since Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. And much like that ill-fated evening, expecting more than 95-100 pitches out of Martinez might be foolish — isn’t there some way Randolph can start Jim Bunning twice between now and Monday?

What else can be said about a team with this much talent, whose fan base has been reduced to rooting for the Braves during the final week of the season. A club with such an immense payroll, desperate enough to throw a pair of rookie pitchers to the wolves on successive nights (and if you were to say, “anything’s better than Dave Williams”, you’d be right, too)? At what point do we have to admit the piss poor baseball the Mets have played over much of the last two months is no longer an aberration, but is in fact, a real reflection of their quality if not their character?


Probably Because Isiah Thomas Wasn’t There

Posted in Food, Racism Corner at 8:23 pm by

Bill O’Reilly, on dining with the Reverend Al in Harlem:

There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M-Fer, I want more iced tea.’

It gets even more appalling – see Media Matters or USA Today (included for the first commenter’s incisive NYPD Blue reference) for more.