Ex-Met/Twin Viola : Carlos Gomez Is No Kirby Puckett

Posted in Baseball, General at 7:52 pm by

Straight from the celebrity Wall of Fame at 2nd Ave’s Jade Mountain to the wire services, lefty Frank Viola tells the AP’s Dave Campbell the Twins didn’t get decent value for the still-unsigned Johan Santana (link taken from MetsBlog).

As the Johan Santana trade story unfolded, Frank Viola couldn’t help but see the parallels to his own departure from Minnesota 19 years ago.

Both were left-handed aces with Cy Young Awards on their resumes who priced themselves out of the Twin Cities – and onto the New York Mets for a multiplayer package of mostly unknowns.

The Viola deal finally came at the July 31 trade deadline in 1989, much later than most people around the game expected. The delay helped the Twins get a better return from New York for their ace.

“That’s why it worked out for me, because they waited,” Viola said.

“I question the trade somewhat, as a fan of the Twins and not an ex-ballplayer,” he said. “I guess if you’re a Minnesota fan like I am, you hope this is the best Bill could’ve done under the circumstances.”

Players offered earlier in the process by the Red Sox and Yankees probably would’ve made a stronger impact for Minnesota, though it’s unfair to predict what kind of career any of them will ultimately have. Center fielder Carlos Gomez and right-handed pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra are four of the Mets’ top prospects, but none of them are considered sure bets to be All-Stars.

“You’re talking four guys with a big question mark by all of their names,” Viola said. “Carlos Gomez, he has to be comparable to a Kirby Puckett and a Torii Hunter? Good luck with that.

Please, all hands up all Twins fans old enough to remember the 6 player deal that brought Viola to Flushing. How many of you said to yourself when the trade was announced, “thank god we held out long enough for David West”?

Tell Me When It’s Over (The Centerfield Wall) : Steve Wynn’s Baseball Album

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Rock Und Roll at 5:05 pm by

Former 15 Minutes/Dream Syndicate main man Steve Wynn has an album of baseball songs — recorded with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey amongst others — hence the following interview culled from KEXP.org (link courtesy Repoz).

A baseball record! Why?

I™ve wanted to do this record for years. I™m a big baseball fan ” and former sportswriter ” and always thought the game and the colorful characters throughout history would make an interesting platform for spinning yarns and making statements and metaphors for bigger things in life ” assuming, of course, that there are bigger things. I kept putting off the project until I got into a long conversation with Scott McCaughey at the party before R.E.M.™s induction to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Turns out he was as big a baseball geek as me, and we immediately decided to do the record as soon as possible.

Are these original songs, or collected nuggets from over the years? I have to confess, until I heard the Bob Dylan Radio Hour baseball segment, the only recorded baseball songs I had heard were the Barbara Manning LP and the Pernice Brothers™ song œMoonshot Manny.

We wrote 16 brand new original songs and could have easily kept going. In fact, we were going to seek songs from other rock baseball fans ” Barbara, Joe Pernice, Ira Kaplan ” but ended up getting into a hot streak of Ichiro proportions. I think we™re already planning the second and third volumes.

Wynn, McCaughey, Buck, Pitmon¦ how did the mix of Yankees, Mariners, Braves and Twins fans go?

No rhubarbs, no bruhahas, no¦well, you get the picture.

Can Delirium Be Transmitted Via A Kiss?

Posted in Basketball at 3:31 pm by

Magic Johnson, the N.B.A. legend and part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, met with Knicks president / head coach Isiah Thomas for about 30 minutes before their teams played Tuesday night. Johnson expressed sympathy and support and made this bold claim about the Knicks: œThey™re going to make the playoffs. I think that they™re going to be a tough eight or seven seed, too.Howard Beck, New York Times, January 31, 2008

Baseball’s Foremost Heterosexual : Don’t Worry About The Twins

Posted in Baseball at 2:03 pm by

While Twins fans ponder a future sans Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, Tigers reliever Todd Jones (above) surveys the latter’s depature in The Sporting News and and muses that while “it’s always hard to gauge what you are getting when you deal for prospects”, “in the Twins’ case, a few factors are working in their favor”. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

No. 1, Terry Ryan still is connected to the organization. He has an unbelievable ability to evaluate talent. Need we mention, A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. If you think that was luck, how do you explain Chuck Knoblauch for Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton? So if Ryan had his hand in this deal, rest assured as long as there’s no major injuries, the Twins will be OK.

No. 2, the Twins were not left holding the bag. They can feel good knowing they made a competitive offer to Santana. When he told them no thanks, they waited and got the best deal they could instead of turning into Jim Bowden and the Nationals. Remember when Bowden waited and waited and thought he could convince Alfonso Soriano to stay in Washington? Instead, Soriano walked and the Nationals didn’t get much.

Here’s some advice to GMs: If you can’t sign your guys, forget about posturing and fans’ blowback and deal the guys immediately. And when Santana gets his six or seven years at $20 million per, don’t say, “Ah. It’s just about the money.” Some of it is, for sure. But Santana is one of those guys who clubs can’t wait to make a mistake on. GMs can’t get hurt on Santana deals. He’s in his prime and has an amazing track record. Plus, he just went to a huge market to a team that didn’t make the playoffs and whose No. 1 starter from a year ago (Tom Glavine) has gone elsewhere. This creates the financial perfect storm for Santana.

Though Jones’ point about the Pierzynski for Nathan/Bonser/Liriano trade is valid (if not repeated elsewhere), I’m not at all certain that “GMs can’t get hurt on Santana deals”. We’ll see how Barry Zito’s 2nd season with the Giants works out — presumably he’ll accomplish more for San Francisco than Mike Hampton did for Colorado.

Finally, Someone’s Found A Practical Purpose For MMA

Posted in Hockey, MMA at 11:18 am by

Other than extending Joe Rogan’s career.  No offense to the Flyers’ Riley Cote, but it’s pretty hard to imagine Dave Schultz reviewing his own fight footage on YouTube (video link swiped from 700 Level)

Mostly because that would’ve required the invention of YouTube prior to the modern advent of the ‘net. We should, however, give Fred Shero credit for trying.

The Most Deeply Depressing Image To Emerge From Arizona This Week…

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Fashion, The Marketplace at 10:48 am by

….wasn’t Yardbarker choosing to hold their SB party at Hooters (presumably my invitation was grabbed by a spam filter), though that’s pretty desperate, too.

Instead, it was Dontrelle Willis attempting to rock the never quite happening sport-jacket-over-the-tee look.

My advice for the D-Train is pretty simple : stop taking advice about fashion (or anything else) from Matt Sosnick. And the next time you’re invited to a party at Hooters that doesn’t include a large cash payment, calmly explain that you’re an adult and would prefer to spend your time in a more interesting, less exploitive environment.

Unless in you’re stuck in Phoenix. In which case, you’re shit out of luck.

Man-Sized Action : Dungy’s Godly Advice For Dudes

Posted in Gridiron, Religion at 4:37 am by

The Indy Star reports the spiritual musings of Colts head coach Tony Dungy are no longer just for women and children.

Tony Dungy’s book “Quiet Strength” has been so popular it spawned a sidekick: “Quiet Strength: Men’s Bible Study.”

In the 96-page paperback, on sale nationwide for $9.99, the Indianapolis Colts coach challenges men to answer six questions:

What’s my game plan? What’s my strength? What’s success? Where’s my security? What’s my significance? And, what’s my legacy?

The book is aimed specifically at men, including those who “may not otherwise be interested in spiritual matters,” the news release says.

96 pages sounds a little heavy for this breezy reader. But I remain hopeful Saint Tony’s included a chapter entitled, “Where’s The Trainer’s Face? (Hopefully Not Between My Legs).”

Derek Sanderson Versus The Entire Canadiens Bench

Posted in History's Not Happening, Hockey at 4:35 am by

Forgetting the Red Sox and “Ask The Manager”, this is the hottest possible WSBK footage you could possibly see.

And aside from a dope deal at Chet’s Last Call, this is probably the most unlawful behavior ever witnessed in North Station.


What’s Beef?: New York Times Scoops New Jersey Native On Meat-Related Ritual

Posted in Food, non-sporting journalism at 11:52 pm by

First it’s the outrageously baroque mob-douchery at Jets games, and now it’s beef tenderloin dipped in butter: even though I don’t live in New Jersey anymore, I did grow up there, and I don’t appreciate the New York Times scooping me on things that take place in my (parents’) backyard. That said, I found today’s Times‘ article detailing the long history of the Bergen and Passaic County banquet staple known as “The Beefsteak” (no words left out, there). The sports relevance in this article is negligible…until you consider that it was written, oddly enough, by none other than Uni Watch’s stirrup-sock obsessive Paul Lukas. We join Mr. Lukas in scenic (not really) Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

About 350 men, seated shoulder to shoulder at long tables, were devouring slices of beef tenderloin and washing them down with pitchers of beer. As waiters brought trays of meat, the guests reached over and harvested the pink slices with their bare hands, popping them down the hatch.

Each slice was perched on a round of Italian bread, but most of the men ate only the meat and stacked the bread slices in front of them, tallying their gluttony like poker players amassing chips. Laughter and uproarious conversation were in abundance; subtlety was not.

As anyone in northern New Jersey could tell you, this was a beefsteak. The term refers not to a cut of meat but to a raucous all-you-can-eat-and-drink banquet with a rich history in Bergen and Passaic Counties.

The events, which typically attract crowds of 150 or more, with a ticket price of about $40, are popular as political meet-and-greets, annual dinners for businesses and civic groups, and charity fundraisers. Caterers said they put on about 1,000 of them in the region last year.

œOnce you start going to beefsteaks, it™s an addiction, said Al Baker, a Hasbrouck Heights policeman who had organized the evening™s festivities to benefit the Special Olympics. œYou™ve got the tender beef, butter, salt, French fries, beer ” all your major food groups. But it™s very unique to North Jersey. I go to other places and nobody™s heard of it.

There’s much more, including a detailed history of the Phillies old zip-up jerseys this particular tradition’s New York roots. It’s recommended, for those who don’t mind reading the word “beef” twice per paragraph.

NPR’s Simon : Will Leitch Has A Problem

Posted in Blogged Down, Racism Corner, Radio, Sports Journalism, Will Leitch Sucks at 8:23 pm by

I’m sure you’ll agree it totally sucks when jealous bloggers routinely mock successful, multi-media personalities who’ve worked so hard to attain fame and fortune. But enough about the cruel treatment afforded to Stephen A. Smith, let’s instead check out someone else’s take on Will Leitch.

“God Save The Fan” author Leitch, whose curious choice of party attire was featured here yesterday, recently sat still long enough to speak with National Public Radio’s Scott Simon. The latter could well have allowed Leitch to peddle his tried and tested spiel about crusty-press-box-reporters being out of touch with today’s fan, but instead took Will to task for some rather bizarre comments about prominent African-Americans, and didn’t let the Deadspin editor escape without suggesting he’s every bit as big a pandering creep as the television bozos he routinely lampoons.

Remarkably, with the exception of this entry, I’ve not seen a reference to said NPR interview elsewhere. That mainstream media outlets who’ve published Will’s work — The Sporting News, New York, The New York Times and GQ amongst them — might not consider such an exchange newsworthy is hardly a surprise. But the deafening silence from the sports blogosphere is rather out of character.

Let’s just imagine for a minute, a prominent pro jock, noted print journalist or sports television personality was interrogated about his or her racial sensibilities on a radio program and took it on the chin nearly as badly as Leitch. What’s the likelihood this hypothetical incident would go unnoticed by the same sports blogs who routinely cover even the slightest faux pas by an athlete or broadcaster?

Either there’s an overwhelming (quiet) consensus that Scott Simon’s out to lunch (but not so nutty that anyone feels compelled to defend Leitch), or there’s a glaring double standard.

(There’s also the possibility no one listens to NPR.)