At 3:40pm Pacific Standard Time, Kobe Is Still A Laker

Posted in Basketball at 5:45 pm by

…though if it meant avoiding further questions from Elie Seckbach, he might accept a trade to Chicago, even if the Bulls turned over their entire roster to get him.

Klapisch Is David Wright’s Text Pest

Posted in Baseball at 5:24 pm by

(Vito, right is sad to see A-Rod go, but he’ll still be meeting you at the Giant Bat).

Mindful of David Wright’s earlier pledge to switch positions, the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch wasted little time after A-Rod’s opting out of his Yankee deal to pester the Mets third baseman.

“Nobody has talked to me about any free agents,” Wright wrote in a text message. “I would want to speak with Jeff [Wilpon] and Omar [Minaya] first.”Of course, there’s no guarantee A-Rod would sign with the Mets, even if Wright moved to, say, second base. Could the Wilpon family write a big enough check? Apparently so. With free agents Tom Glavine ($10.5 million), Shawn Green ($3.7 million), Paul Lo Duca ($6.25 million) and Jose Valentin ($3.8 million) all likely to come off the books, Rodriguez’s asking price of $30-something million isn’t quite so prohibitive.

“We can afford him,” one Met insider said confidently. “It’s going to be a baseball question more than a money question. Do we want him? Is he a good fit for one team? That’s what we have to talk about.”

Wright seemed to feel Rodriguez was a perfect match — and that was before A-Rod blasted through the greatest regular season of the last 50 years. Putting aside his insatiable appetite for money and ruthless negotiating tactics, the Mets ultimately will have to decide if A-Rod’s 50-plus homers and 150 RBI are worth the tidal wave of controversy that would follow him into the clubhouse.

What remains to be seen is whether the Mets’ interest would tempt the Yankees to reenter negotiations. It’s hard to know who’s bluffing and who’s not. Friends of Rodriguez believe he would have a sincere interest in playing for the Mets “ at the right price, of course “ regardless of how it would damage his Yankee legacy. It’s worth noting that Rodriguez was house-hunting in Greenwich, Conn., in the last few months, and the idea of staying in New York was seconded by his wife, Cynthia.

The other issue is where Wright actually would play. Second base is the obvious choice, but there’s nothing that says he could learn the position quickly, if at all. And the wear and tear of turning double plays also might factor into the Mets’ thinking.

And then there’s the dark cloud that seems to dog Rodriguez wherever he goes. You can now count the Yankees as part of the anti-A-Rod army. Despite general manager Brian Cashman’s graciously worded statement that bid farewell to the third baseman, the organization’s truer feelings were reflected in the comments of one high-ranking official, who was disgusted at the timing of Rodriguez’s opt-out on Sunday.

Not only did the announcement upstage the World Series, but, as the official said: “He had [agent Scott] Boras tell the media before he told us. That’s not right.”

Asked if the Yankees would use the 15-day window during which they can negotiate exclusively with Rodriguez, the executive said: “No chance. Absolutely none. We’re done with him. He’ll never play here again”

Granted, A-Rod would only have 81 games at Shea before the park’s closing, but given the park’s dimensions, 50/150 seems wildly optimistic, even for a hitter of Rodriguez’ talents.

Plaschke Damns Dodgers’ Diss Of Grady

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 11:06 am by

“If the Dodgers have an opportunity to hire future Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, as several sources indicated Monday, they must do it,” writes the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke. “But why couldn’t they have done it 13 days ago when Torre initially walked away from the New York Yankees?” Because they wanted to make certain Joe Girardi was unavailable first? Wally Backman? Tony Perez?

Maybe hiding out for two weeks works in the governmental world from which McCourt’s top advisors hail. But in the more transparent world of sports, silence cracks foundations and creates doubt.

For two weeks, General Manager Ned Colletti (above, left) has been telephoned with questions about the Dodgers’ managerial situation. For two weeks, he has refused to even return the calls, effectively ending Grady Little’s career here while once again exposing his club’s philosophies as so much hot air.

During the lockdown, one recalled a recent interview with McCourt in which he talked about the Dodgers foundation.

“It’s built on hard work, trust, integrity, respect, and it’s built on unselfishness, teamwork and so forth,” he said.

By my calculations, in their treatment of Little, their values batting average is .167.

Amazing, isn’t it? All those paragraphs and not one negative reference to Paul De Podesta.

Wally Matthews Pleads With Wilpon Inc. : Keep A-Rod In New York

Posted in Baseball at 2:32 am by

As Repoz at Baseball Think Factory has aleady noted, Newday’s Wallace Matthews is riding Gotham Baseball’s jock. Though it took the print journalist to come up with gratuitous swipes at Lastings Milledge and Bobby Valentine (!) while claiming, “one general manager’s 24-and-1 guy could just as easily be another’s 54-and-156 guy.”

In the seven years since they passed on A-Rod, a lot has changed around the Mets. They have gotten a little better on the field and they have gotten a lot more tolerant in the clubhouse toward the concept of the 24-and-1 guy, hence Pedro Martinez. Then there’s Tom Glavine. 23-and-1. Jose Reyes. 22-and-1. Lastings Milledge. You get the idea.

Think of how easy a transition this would be. Rodriguez could hold on to his apartment in Manhattan. He still could sunbathe in the park. (Flushing Meadow, not Central.) The Mets, having learned from past mistakes, could offer Alex and Cynthia their own reality show on SNY. (Anna Benson is going to be sooooo jealous!) And just like that, all those unsold luxury boxes and season subscriptions to Citi Field will vanish like Carlos Delgado during “God Bless America.”

For the first time in their history, the Mets would have the best player in the game while he still was the best player in the game. For the first time in their history, they could sign a free agent and watch him get better, not worse.

And for one of the few times in their history, the Mets’ lineup would have a hitter you would delay a trip to the rest.room to watch hit. Darryl Strawberry was that guy 20 years ago. A-Rod is that guy now.

Sure, they would have to rearrange some furniture — how about A-Rod to third, David Wright to first and Delgado to the American League as a DH? Or A-Rod back to short and Jose Reyes to Minnesota for Johan Santana? — but you’re adding a Ming vase here. You can lose an end table.

And before you start carping about A-Rod’s postseason performance or lack thereof, just remember that these are the Mets we’re talking about. Chances are there will be no postseason. Unless, of course, Rodriguez does for them what he did for the Yankees this year.

Incredibly, all it took was one poor 2nd half for the game’s most exciting player to turn into trade bait for Johan Santana. I can’t argue the latter wouldn’t be a better fit in the Mets rotation than say, Kyle Lohse, but he did give up 33 HR’s in 2007.

Baseball considerations aside, Rodriguez could be excused from tiring of the losing battle with the New York media.  He’s unlikely to find a move to Flushing any less pressure packed — keep in mind the Mets were the local team whose owner’s son felt compelled to offer a public apology for a 2nd place finish.

All Jaromir Jagr Wants For Halloween Is His Two Front Teeth

Posted in Hockey at 12:01 am by

But if a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ 3-1 defeat of the Lightning isn’t enough, I’ll bet Jerome James has an awesome pudding recipe he can share.


G’Bye Grady? Torre, Mattingly Reportedly Headed To Chavez Ravine

Posted in Baseball at 11:33 pm by

After a few years stockpiling former Red Sox, has the Parking Lot Magnate decided to entrust his ballclub to a pair of very prominent Yankees? From the Journal News’ Peter Abraham (link courtesy Sean at Popjocks)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to fire manager Grady Little and replace him with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, The Journal News has learned.Torre, 67, could be named manager as soon as tomorrow, according to two sources close to the situation. Don Mattingly is expected to accompany Torre to Los Angeles as his bench coach. Torre is also interested in hiring Kevin Long, his hitting coach with the Yankees.

The Dodgers were 82-80 this season under Little and were beset by clubhouse unrest. Owner Frank McCourt, a Boston native, decided Torre is best suited to quell that situation.

UPDATE : Tony Jackson of the LA Daily News was just on “SportsCenter” (1:20am EST), claiming one source had told him, “you’ll look like an idiot if you write this”. “I guess no one in New York is worried about that” mumbled Jackson. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt followed up with Peter Abraham, who vouched for the credibilty of multiple sources “close to Joe Torre and Don Mattingly” that provided him with a considerable jump on the Southern California papers. Funnily enough, Jackson’s own paper quotes unnamed sources as claiming the Dodgers and Little are discussing a buyout.

Don’t Light A Match In Front Of Colleen Bellotti’s Mouth…

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Parental Responsibility at 10:54 pm by

(our young kicking friend will have a club soda, thanks)

…or the room might explode
. A few weeks back, The Oregonian’s John Canzano wrote of Ducks K Luke Bellotti’s two DUI’s, charges his dad’s football program had until then, successfully covered up “without raising so much as a murmer on campus.” (link courtesy The Big Lead)

Saturday night, towards the end of Oregon’s upset win over USC, Coach Mike Bellotti’s wife, Colleen, accosted Canzano in the UO press box.

She leaned in, grabbed by my suit lapel, and lit into me with a string of expletives, asking me if I have children, and telling me, “This is going to come back on you tenfold.” And she threatened to slap me, which was not such a nice example in front of the kiddies. I told it was poor form that she would approach me in the press box, with a strong smell of alcohol on her breath, hissing and spitting mad, talking to me about alcohol abuse.

There was a second small brush with Colleen near the elevator in which she stormed past me, and asked, “You got something to say to me?!?!” I said, “Are you going to slap me or not?”

She walked off, and said, “I’m a better person than you.”

She may be right. Or wrong.

I’ll agree, she’s got better hair.

If a subsequent blog post by Canzano is anything to go by, there’s some portion of the Eugene citizenry that prefer to blame the messenger.

The End Of The Blackhawks’ Blackout

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 9:11 pm by

(cheer up, Chicago hockey fans. Your love for Pat Sharp is no longer trapped in the closet)

Neatly deflecting attention from a 3 game losing streak, the Blackhawks dropped the following press release on a breathless populace earlier today :

The Chicago Blackhawks and Comcast SportsNet have announced that Comcast SportsNet will televise their first home game of the season on Sunday, November 11 when the Blackhawks play host to the archrival Detroit Red Wings at 6:00 p.m.

The November 11 game will be the first in a series of home games to be broadcast live and in high-definition on Comcast SportsNet. The full schedule will be released next week with additional home games airing throughout the remainder of the 2007-2008 season.

œIt™s time to share the energy and excitement of the Blackhawks with all of our fans, said Blackhawks Chairman W. Rockwell œRocky Wirtz. œWe are entering a new era and putting home games back on TV is the first step to supporting our great players and fans.

As the Sun-Times’ Len Ziehm explains, the November 11 telecast is of some historical importance.

Wirtz’s late father, Bill, the Hawks’ president for 41 years, was adamant in the belief that televising home games wouldn’t be fair to season-ticket holders. His stance became team policy, though an increasing number of staffers opposed it. For years the standard player/coach response was that the TV ban was a management decision, and they let it go at that.

”A player has a job to do — to perform on the ice,” alternate captain Martin Lapointe said. ”On the business side, guys don’t think about that.”

Some did, though.

”[The TV ban] does matter,” said Patrick Sharp, another alternate captain. ”You want exposure in your hometown. I’ve heard that there are thousands of secret fans just waiting to come out. Getting on TV will be a way of bringing them out.

The Difficult Task Of Re-Launching Basketball In Vancouver Without Bryant Reeves

Posted in Basketball at 6:52 pm by

I Hate The Raptors’ Coach Canada has tried very hard to imagine the circumstances under which an NBA franchise might return to Vancouver, British Columbia.

One – if the province fav son and 2 time NBA MVP Steve Nash play for the new Vancouver team . The Suns vs. Supersonics game lasFriday drew a sellout crowd of 17K plus. Awesome for a pre season game ! OK , OK .Nash may be too old once his contract with the Phoenix Suns is over. Not really . Ex Celtics great Bob Cousy, to which Nash’s game is often compared with , came out of retirement to play for a fledging Kansas City NBA team.

Two – if the numerous Chinese billionaires/milllionaires based in B.C. joined forces to bankroll the team. The new team won’t have no problem with money as income from the food sales alone will be huge. Knowing the Chinese , they will have pricey spring rolls and wanton soup in place of cheap hotdogs and Coke ! Who cares if they name the team the Hongkouver Dimsuns !

Three – if half of the roster is composed of members / or former members of the Chinese National team. Many enterprising tour agencies etc. will surely put a Vancouver basketball game attendance as part of their tours in the same way as seeing a live Ichiro /Seattle Mariners game a must for Japanese foreign students in TO. Then there is the non stop and ever increasing Chinese population in Vancouver, legal or otherwise ?

While the Chicago Tribune’s blogphobic Sam Smith has floated the possibilities of Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas being exchanged (doubtful, I figure, given Kobe’s alledged preference to go to Chicago or Dallas and accompanying no-trade clause), New Orleans have sent David Wesley to New Jersey in exchange for Bernard Robinson and Mile Ilic. The Bergen Record’s Al Iannazzone describes Wesley as unlikely to report, while the Hornets are said to be ready to waive Ilic as soon as possible.

Chait in Slate: Charlie Weis is a Very Bad Coach

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 5:49 pm by

Jonathan Chait has written on many topics. He’s an opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a solid inside-out critic of political media (his great 2002 story about imaginary biases and real biases is behind The New Republic‘s subscriber-only firewall) (though you can still read Martin Peretz’s blog for free) (but you shouldn’t). He’s also the author of a well-received recent book about bad conservative economics. Add to that, via Slate, this new credit: he is pretty good at marshaling statistics that make Charlie Weis look like a terrible coach. Of course, almost anyone can do this — it’s easy — and much of the rest of his argument is grounded in the unprovable-if-not-unconvincing assertion that Weis has always been overrated because of his association with some Super Bowl winners in New England. Still, these numbers don’t get much less depressing the more often you read them:

Just how bad is Notre Dame? Of the 119 teams in Division I-A, ND is 119th in total offense, 119th in rushing offense, 112th in passing offense, and 118th in scoring. If Notre Dame had doubled its scoring output, it would still rank 108th. If it doubled its rushing output (currently 34 yards a game), it would barely eke out Duke for 118th place.

You get the point. I should stop now.

OK, one more. Notre Dame is averaging 1.09 yards per rush this year. The NCAA statistical archive goes back only to 1999. The worst yards per carry recorded in that period belongs to a 2001 University of Arizona squad that gained 1.46 yards per attempt. So, the worst rushing team recorded by the NCAA in the last nine years was still about one-third better than Notre Dame.

This is not merely bad. This is ineptitude on a staggering, world-historical scale. Such a performance would be prima facie evidence for firing the coach even at a doormat program like Indiana. At a school like Notre Dame, well ¦ it’s simply impossible to describe how awful this performance is. It’s true that Notre Dame has suffered a dip in its talent level, attributable to poor recruiting by Weis’ predecessor Tyrone Willingham. But if you go by recruiting rankings, Charlie Weis still has as much or more talent on hand than most of the opponents who have been beating him soundly.

So, Weis is obviously not a great coach”no great coach has ever underperformed so grossly”and he may well be a terrible one.

Of course, no supposedly great coach had previously conquered stomach staples, either. And anyway, isn’t this just piling on? Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about college football’s more successful, and even more hugely obese, coaches?