It Only Took An Hour For Rob Neyer’s Opening Day Chat To Go Surreal

Posted in Baseball, The Internet at 11:36 pm by

If ESPN’s Rob Neyer wants to wrest the marathon chatroom record from the Sports Putz, I say all the power to him. Especially when some of the discourse went like this :

Welcome to the Fuku Dome: Jay Mariotti Rips Off CSTB Today

Posted in Baseball at 11:02 pm by


As long as Gerard brought it up, on a day when I was content to retire my #14 Trib rant, yeah, Kerry Wood did have a lousy day. For whatever reason, the Man With The Glass Arm is our closer and Caros Marmol his set-up man. So be it. At least when losses start to pile up on blown saves, even goat-worshiping Curse fans won’t be able to blame the supernatural when they’ve got Kerry Wood. Or so I thought, until I read Jay Mariotti‘s column, devoted entirely to breaking the spirit of Kosuke Fukudome with talk of voo doo in Wrigley.


(CSTB mascot Tanner Boyle, on hearing he was traded to Jay Mariotti’s column today)

But there was a pause in the interview room. And a blank stare from Fukudome. Because even on a day when he made headlines, here and abroad, the $48-million import also received his first dose of Cubdom. It wasn’t enough to trash Milwaukee’s bearded, washed-up Eric Gagne, who was rescued when the Brewers nicked Bob Howry for a run in the 10th and won 4-3 … the Cubs turned what should have been a historic afternoon into another trademark loss. But then, this is what the Cubs do. This is who the Cubs are. Maybe Fukudome is starting to understand the pain.

“We lost the game. I wish we could have won,” he said through Araki. “It was great that I had a home run to tie the game, but since we lost the game, it values a little less.”

Mariotti went further, even disputing Moises Alou, who recently came to the defense of Curse poster boy Steve Bartman. And note Mariotti’s rather suspicious invocation of Bad News Bear Tanner Boyle in a Cub reference, done in this space not one week ago by yours truly.

Yet it also seems a good time to issue a cobwebbed reminder about Cubdom: Never, ever tempt fate. Do not pick this team to win the World Series, as a shocking number of media have done in this 100th-anniversary season. Do not coin the cryptic phrase “Cubbie occurrence,” as Lou Piniella did in spring training. Do not roll out a statue for a legend and let him declare, “This is the year,” as Ernie Banks said. Do not foresee the Cubs and Detroit playing for a championship as they did in 1908, which Sports Illustrated predicts. And do not tell the Associated Press that the Bartman Ball wasn’t catchable anyway, as Moises Alou revealed when he ran into columnist Jim Litke at a Macy’s department store in New York City.

“Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, `Bartman! Bartman!’ I feel really bad for the kid,” Alou said. “Know what the funny thing is? I wouldn’t have caught it, anyway.”

Then why did Alou whip down his glove in left field like Tanner Boyle in the “Bad News Bears” movie? Why did he complain about it so angrily after the game? I know, I know — it was five years ago, let it go. But such revelations only reconfirm that Cubdom is spooked.

Well, Jay, maybe because either way it was a play that could have changed the game? I thought Alou showed some class, especially after the way the Cubs dumped him. As for your attempt to discourage Fukudome after his first Cubs game and a three run knock in the 9th … well, blow me. Since you don’t let readers leave comments on your column site anymore, I’m at least happy to know you’re reading CSTB for ideas.

Jeter Can’t Live Without The Voice Of God

Posted in Baseball at 10:45 pm by

While the Yankees’ 2008 home opener against Toronto was delayed by at least a day, one prominent Bomber has fully prepared himself for the absence of a key Stadium fixture. From the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner :

It won™t be Bob Sheppard (above) at the microphone today when the lineups are introduced here at windy, drizzly Yankee Stadium for the final opening day. Sheppard is recovering from an illness and hopes to be back by midseason.

But Sheppard™s voice will still be heard. Last season, Derek Jeter took a step to make sure of that.

œOne of the things I had him do was record him introducing me, Jeter said a few minutes ago, œso I™ll always come to the plate with Bob Sheppard.

The Captain sense of history is admirable, but he might have all sorts of recording to take care of. Michael Kay’s not gonna live forever.

Even Kerry Wood & Eric Gagne Think Tom Gordon Had A Lousy Opening Day

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 9:41 pm by

Courtesy of a 5 run, 4 hit, 1 walk, 0.1 IP performance by stand-in Phillies closer Tom Gordon, the Washington Nationals find themselves on pace to go 162-0, while Philadelphia is on pace…to force Brad Lidge to pitch ASAP, regardless of his physical condition. Lastings Milledge (above) hit his first HR in a Nats uniform, said blow coming off Ryan Madison after having been plunked earlier in the game by Brett Myers. The Philly starter also hit Paulie Go Nuts with a pitch — presumably, this is Myers’ way of saying he deplores Lo Duca and Da Edge’s attitudes towards women.

While DC fans can try to become accustomed to first place (and with Odalis Perez and Matt Chico as their no.1 and no.2 starters, who am I to say they can’t hang around in the race until mid-April?), Bugs & Cranks’ Jon Steiner returns to the scene of Sunday night’s crimes against broadcasting.

After tossing out the ceremonial first pitch to an angry chorus of boos, Bushie made his way upstairs to chat things over with Joe Morgan ” evidently, his long-time lover.  Whether Bush was a bit nervous about his upcoming trip to the Ukraine (unlikely, as Bush has not heard of the Ukraine), or just confused by all the bright lights, W. kept his comments to a minimum.  When asked about an inside joke that Bush and Morgan had shared years earlier concerning Morgan being the GM for the Rangers, Bush said only, œYeah¦I remember that.  Well.  Then he laughed in that schoolboy shit-eating I-can™t-believe-I™m-actually-the-president type laugh.  I can™t either, Mr. President.  This is the eloquence for which we™ve been waiting all these years!

When he was posed with a question about the Mitchell report, Bush again attempted to mystify his listeners: œI™m glad¦I™m happy with the recognition that it was a problem.  First of all, that is a shit-sucking sentence.  But it also reminds me of his response to the Iraq Study Group report: œInteresting stuff.  He didn™t read that either.

Perhaps the idiocy of the evening is best summed up by the orators™ closing remarks to one another:

Morgan: Have a good time in the Ukraine, Mr. President.

Bush: You betcha, sir.  You too.

George, Joe is NOT going to the Ukraine tomorrow.  You are.  Please don™t screw this up.

Cubs Silence A Critic, If Not The Brewers

Posted in Baseball at 9:29 pm by

“I just wish (the statue) had been done 15 years ago,” Hank Aaron said today of the unveiling of Ernie Banks’ statue at Clark and Addison. “Be that as it may, I for one am going to be very proud of the fact that I had the opportunity not only to play baseball with you but to share in your dream.”

My sentiments exactly, although I only got to watch Banks play in person once in 1971. The Tribune Co. today effectively silenced me on one of my most-hated Trib embrace-the-loserdom embarrassments, which has been the lack of any proper tribute to players like Ernie Banks while Trib employees like Harry Caray were given statues. Ernie Banks received one today, which MLB.com’s Jim Molony reports is modeled on an August 29th, 1959 at-bat against Warren Spahn. Banks noted he played for “one team, one owner, and one mayor” during his entire career, none of which did him any justice. Banks hit 512 HRs on 1953-71 Cub teams. Can you imagine what he would have done on winning teams? Banks said he learned everything he knew about life from Phillip K. Wrigley. Fortunately he stopped listening when it came to baseball. So, while my list of complaints with the Cubs is down one today, I’m glad this one is gone. And unlike that beer-goggled view of Caray, Banks’ sculptor spent some time making him look good.


The Cubs then lost the opener to Aaron’s old town, Milwaukee, despite a Fukudome 3-run homer in the 9th. And if anything made me miss Harry today, it’s not hearing him struggle with pronouncing that name all year.

RJ : It’s Not The End Of The World (But Please, Don’t Make Me Watch The Knicks)

Posted in Basketball at 5:18 pm by

Facing all but certain elimination, the New Jersey Nets’ Richard Jefferson cannot be stopped when it comes to providing the Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro with a playoff caliber quote or two.

The only thing that will work for the Nets, meanwhile, is for Atlanta to lose eight in a row. But when they claim that they’re not going down without a fight, they say it with a straight face, so that’s a good sign.

RJ even said this with a straight face: That “controlling your own destiny” stuff is overrated.

“Let’s be real. Let’s say miraculously we were to win every single game down the stretch. I have a feeling that we would have a pretty good chance of making it,” Jefferson said. “So in turn, you still do (control your destiny). Now, in two days from now, three days from now it might change. But you have to go at it with a positive attitude. You can’t all of a sudden say, ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no,’ because what happens if you lose a game? Is the world going to end? No.”

Jefferson says for the first time, he’s going to watch the playoffs this year. His Final Four: Boston, Detroit, L.A., San Antonio. Usually he’s not especially interested in this stuff, because the disappointment of being eliminated still stings. This time, he’s into it. The games matter. The excitement is building. The climax should be thrilling.

Does that mean he’s watching the important games now, such as Knicks versus Hawks?

“No – God, no,”
he said. “Knicks-Hawks. That would be like watching us and the Knicks.”

Never Mind Nellie & Webber, You Don’t Wanna End Up In Giannakis Panagiotis’ Doghouse

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 5:11 pm by

C Marc Jackson, who as recently as ’06/07 played regularly for the Hornets, was the leading scorer and 2nd-leading rebounder for Olympiakos this season. Said production didn’t prevent Jackson from being jettisoned, a situation explained yesterday by the Boston Globe’s Peter May :

In a move that can only be explained by these three words – that’s European basketball – Jackson was released just before the start of a three-game playoff series with CSKA Moscow, and was replaced on the roster by Qyntel Woods. (That’s a story for another day.)

A Greek mole said the main reason for the move was that Jackson and new Olympiakos coach Giannakis Panagiotis (above), who also happens to be the national coach, have not seen eye-to-eye since Panagiotis took over six weeks ago. He considered Jackson to be more interested in stats, a liability on defense, and a bad influence on Lynn Greer, one of the team’s best players (and former Milwaukee Buck, who, like Jackson, went to Temple). Former Sun/Grizzly Jake Tsakalidis is getting more time in Jackson’s spot and Olympiakos also will be able to add Baby Shaq (Sofocles Schortsianitis) for the playoffs. He has been on a weight-loss program all season.

The Association’s Craig Kwasniewski reviews the plethora of injuries suffered by the Lakers the last several years and wonders if the club’s training staff bear any responsibility.

How is it that a team like Phoenix is able to avoid similiar problems? They cured Steve Nash’s chronic back, they cured Grant Hill’s ridonkulous ankle problems and Shaquille O’Neal is moving around like it’s 2005. Even Amare Stoudemire has completely recovered a career-threatening micro-facture surgery! And didn’t Raja Bell return from a horrible-looking spained ankle? How are these guys able to go at it a nightly basis and the younger Lakers sit in designer suits?

Daniels On Vin Scully, National Treasure

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 4:47 pm by

On a day in which the Dodgers are doing their best to ruin humiliate the Giants — Lt. Dangle having already taken Barry Zito to, well, the truck wash — the L.A. Times’ Christine Daniels pays homage to Vin Scully, “his tenure an L.A. story unlike any other, providing a sense of permanence to a city perfectly captured by Steve Martin’s line in the movie L.A. Story’: ‘Some of these buildings are more than 20 years old!’”

Scully represents more than an era in Los Angeles sports history; he also represents an era in sports broadcasting when announcers were as indelibly linked to the teams they covered as the logo on the players’ caps.

When Scully was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, his contemporaries included Mel Allen with the Yankees and Russ Hodges with the Giants. They were icons, with larger-than-life personas, as they served as the immediate conduits of information and news to fans hungry for details about their teams.

That was the template that served baseball for decades. Jack Buck with the St. Louis Cardinals. Ernie Harwell with the Detroit Tigers. Bob Prince with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Harry Caray with the Cardinals, then the Chicago Cubs.

Over time, that part of the job description changed. More teams meant more job movement among announcers. New media, such as the Internet, meant more sources for information.

By 2008, Scully might not be the last of the great baseball play-by-play icons; Jerry Coleman in San Diego and Dave Niehaus in Seattle remain franchise and community fixtures. But the pool is shrinking.

What has Scully meant to the Dodgers since 1958?

“Everything, with an exclamation point,” former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley said. When the Dodgers first arrived in Los Angeles, O’Malley said, Scully was “the face of the Dodgers. It wasn’t the manager. It wasn’t a player. It wasn’t the owner. It wasn’t where they played. It wasn’t any of those things. He was the face and the voice of the Dodgers. And he made so many friends for us, then and now.”

More than just defining L.A. baseball culture, Scully invented it. For a city perpetually on the move, Scully became essential listening for harried freeway drivers who, once grounded, continued the habit with portable transistor radios — and today with audio supplied via satellite and the Internet.

“L.A. may be the most important radio market in the country,” O’Malley said, “because of people traveling in their cars. And Vinny’s impact on radio is major. We’ve all heard about the transistors in the ballpark, but that’s one thing that gets overlooked — the importance of the radio market in L.A., which has embraced and adopted Vinny.”

QPR Bernie : Mosley Was “Set Up”

Posted in Football, General, non-sporting journalism, Vroom Vroom at 1:52 pm by

Right about now might be a great time for the Football League to determine that Queens Park Rangers ought not to be associated with an organization as unsavory as Formula One.

On the other hand, who knows what Roger Goodell or David Stern get up to in the privacy of their own pleasuredomes? For a company that seems so sickened by sado-masochism, these Murdoch newspapers are more than happy to use the accounts and descriptions of such activity to generate commerce.

Meeting Of The (Simple) Minds : Francesca & Rosenberg Redefine “Effervescence”

Posted in Sports Radio at 1:22 pm by

Last Friday, Miami’s sports radio listeners were graced with Mike Francesca’s fascinating observations about You Tube, Boomer & Carlton, and a bold prediction that Pedro Martinez will be 13-5 this season. “He’s the industry standard…we’re all working today because of him,” gushed a breathless Sid Rosenberg, who apparently spends so much time listening to his old employer’s radio station, they might wanna consider a subscription service instead of free streaming audio.