Please take a crack at identifying the contents of Da Meat Hook’s briefcase. Thank you.
In a few hours, my beloved, fully-recovered-from-that-choking-thing New York Mets will commence the 2008 baseball season against the Florida Marlins, but the Sun-Sentinel’s David Hyde asks that we “not ignore the 800 pound Gorilla in the room”. Noting the hosts’ paltry $21 million payroll, Hyde snorts, “I’m no Bill James, but it seems in picking this Marlins roster the primary baseball question was, ‘Will you double-up on the road?’”
The Marlins got $600 million in public money for a new stadium and amenities. They can’t just brush the subject of their embarrassing payroll under the carpet anymore and hope no one notices. As much as they want to, they can’t just keep saying, “This is all we can afford until we get our new stadium.”
These owners get $30 million in revenue sharing from other teams, which neither H. Wayne Huizenga or John Henry got in their tenures. They also get $30 million in local and national TV money. All that before selling a ticket.
At some point, doesn’t someone like Commissioner Bud Selig or another team owner step in and ask Jeffrey Loria and David Samson, “Just what are you doing with all the money we’re giving you?”
Because it sure looks like it’s just being shoveled into their pockets. It also looks like the Marlins are keeping the decks cleared of costs to sell to a new owner as the $600 million stadium windfall nears.
No matter, Loria and Samson need to talk about why they have this curb-high payroll. If they want to answer along the lines of why dogs lick themselves ” because they can ” that’s fine. People understand greed. That’s their call.
But they need to say why Miguel Cabrera couldn’t be afforded when just two years ago, at the previous player purge, they said he was the anchor to the future.
I’m not holding my breath for The Used Car Salesman or a fellow owner to find fault with Loria. The former is essentially Loria’s employee, while I’m gonna assume Fred Wilpon wasn’t displeased to see Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis dealt to the American League.
Frank Fitzpatrick’s Philadelphia Inquirer story on Kyle Kendrick and the final Phillies exhibition also seems to tell us how a certain overly excitable #1 starter planned to spend the night before Opening Day:
The impatient Phillies regulars were set to depart for Philadelphia early, as soon as Kendrick changed his spikes and finished talking with reporters. But as his teammates filed out of the tiny dressing room, the questions kept coming.
Frank Coppenbarger, the manager of travel and equipment, reminded the pitcher that the bus was ready to roll. Pitching coach Rich Dubee nudged him, urging the writers to let Kendrick leave.
Finally, Brett Myers, who will open the season this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park against Washington’s Matt Chico, offered the compelling argument.
“Let’s go, Kendrick! ” Myers screamed. “I told you, it’s Wrestlemania night!”
Hmmmh… suddenly I like Brett’s chances for the Hall of Fame. The one Pete Rose is in, that is.
“It’s a dump,” says SNY’s Gary Cohen. “But it’s our dump”. WFAN’s Howie Rose puts the Mets’ ballpark in further perspective : œIt™s dilapidated and obsolete, sure, but I could say the same thing about the apartment where I grew up.” The big difference being, Rose only had to risk seeing Frank Howard naked occasionally in his family’s apartment. The New York Times’ Ben Shpigel on the pending closure of the only venue I know that’s hosted both Survival Research Laboratories and Dave Kingman, Shea Stadium.
By any objective standard, Shea is bleak and outdated. It has not aged, shall we say, gracefully, its imperfections and architectural shortcomings growing more prominent over the years, particularly as glorious baseball-only parks have sprouted around the country. Those flaws are now magnified by Citi Field, the Mets™ new home in 2009, whose beatific presence beyond Shea™s right-center-field fence prompted Ron Darling, the SportsNet New York analyst and former Met, to make this comparison: œIt™s like driving a VW bus with a Maserati in the lot.
Ron Hunt said he was particularly fond of Banner Day, now defunct, when fans marched onto the field carrying signs with often-witty slogans. His favorite? One pointing out that the Mets would be in first place if the standings were looked at upside down. Al Jackson, a pitcher on the 1964 team, said he memorized flight schedules in and out of La Guardia Airport and could tell what time it was based on which planes were flying overhead.
Darling said: œThose planes just let you know that you™re not in Norfolk or Memphis or New Orleans or wherever. This is New York City, where everyone flies into. Everyone™s flying in and out of the city that you have the privilege of playing in. That™s never been lost on me.
Even in its heyday, Shea would never win best in show in an architectural competition ” Fredric Bell, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the stadium looked as if it had been designed on an Etch A Sketch. But when it opened a few days before the 1964 World™s Fair next door, it stood tall as a symbol of the future and a monument to progress.
œThere™s no redeeming architectural value in Shea, Bell said bluntly. œIt looks like it was built in a hurry. It™s a temporary structure that has outlasted its usefulness. It™s an expansion stadium for an expansion team and a replacement stadium for a replacement team. If Yankee Stadium is like visiting the Metropolitan Museum, then Shea is like a visit to the dentist™s chair.
So who are we Phillies and Mets fans supposed to pull for on Opening Night? The Braves currently trail the Nationals 2-1 in the middle of the fourth at D.C.’s brand new ballpark, where the guy who threw out the first pitch just stopped by the TV booth.
Jon Miller: Chipper Jones whacks one, deep left…
George W. Bush: …looks like he may have the first home run in this ballpark…
Miller: As called by President George W. Bush.
Bush: It is… first home run… that thing was a rope…. He blasted that thing didn’t he? Here it is. Yeah.
Joe Morgan: Pretty much down the middle.
Bush: Yeah. Down the middle.
A : Drive to Columbus, OH. And drink.
“They came, they drank, and some of them urinated next to a church,” says The National Post’s Sean Fitzgerald of Toronto F.C.’s traveling supporters and their hard partying ways, before and after yesterday’s 2-0 loss to the Crew. Hey, at least they’ve stopped rubbing it in.
One man was arrested and a fleet of Columbus police cars was pressed into duty before Toronto FC even kicked off on Saturday, after more than 2,400 supporters traveled from Canada to central Ohio to watch their team open the Major League Soccer season. They left disappointed, but some left their mark.
Toronto supporters filled the entire south stand at Crew Stadium, while other pockets of red could be spotted throughout the venue. Their largest impact might have been in a muddy field next to the stadium, where a pre-game tailgate party created mounds of garbage and debris.
“They’re pissing all over the damn place, and as you can see, they’ve littered it up considerably,” Columbus police lieutenant Kevin Conley said. “And then they decided that they were going to surround one of our cars like they were the Indians and the car was Custer.”
Most of the visiting fans seemed well behaved, but some were feeling the effects of several hours spent on a bus with alcohol close at hand. Some taunted their hosts with insults and profanity.
“You know what? Part of the sporting spirit is being antagonistic,” said Andrew Gorsky, a 22-year-old Toronto fan. “You can’t deny it.
“What’s Juan so upset about?” asked The Fanhouse’s Eamonn Brennan earlier this week. “It’s not as if Torre’s benched him for the beginning of the season”. Not so fast, buddy, that might be exactly what the soothing Green Tea proponent has in mind. And who can blame him? From the LA Times’ Dylan Hernandez :
“If they want to go a different route,” Pierre said, “I can live with it and I have to understand it but it’s something I don’t get.”
Pierre signed a five-year, $44-million contract a year ago to be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder, but was moved to left field before the start of spring training this year to make room for newly signed Andruw Jones. Today, Pierre could be moved again, this time to the bench.
“It’s a tough situation that they put not only all of us in,” Pierre said, referring to the three outfielders, including Matt Kemp, who are competing for the two corner spots. “But me too, because you sign here for one thing, a five-year deal, and you put up the same numbers you put up every year, and it seems like it doesn’t hold any weight or anything.”
Last season, Pierre had a .293 average, 196 hits and 64 steals. He has had a rough spring, entering Saturday’s exhibition game at the Coliseum batting .173. Ethier had six home runs and a .361 average.
“It’s spring training,” Pierre said. “I bat .200, but then I get 200 hits and do my thing. I work what I need to work on. I bunt a lot. . . . [But] if they go out and put a lot of weight on spring training, then it’s justified for them to do whatever they want to do with me.”
Bob Timmerman published a lovely photograph from last night’s exhibition tilt at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and it’s nice to learn the event was probably about as much fun to follow from the
cheap moderately priced seats as it was to watch on television. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan is amongst those who’d probably like nothing better than to give Frank McCourt a big hug for such a well-executed event.
With all due respect to shorthanded Arsenal coming back from a two goal deficit to win at Bolton yesterday, 3-2, and the likes of jetlagged megastars David Beckham and Landon Donovan being humbled by Colorado in the Galaxy’s MLS Opener last night, the soccer story of the weekend might well be Milton Keynes Dons beating Grimbsy Town, 2-0, to take the…uh….Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Before anyone wonders if this piece of silverware is enough to raise a fuss about, keep in mind the victors are only a few years removed from being considered national pariahs after abandoning South London. And not everyone has forgiven or forgotten, reports the Observer’s Jamie Jackson.
‘I don’t know anyone who’s changed their minds. MK Dons isn’t a football club – while they do seem to have created growth, let’s hope that’s a temporary blip before a downward spiral to oblivion,’ says Kris Stewart, the driving force behind AFC Wimbledon, who were formed by angry fans once the FA allowed owner/chairman Pete Winkelman to uproot the club in May 2002, and who now play in the Ryman Premier.
The hostility caused by the relocation was followed by a near-financial disaster that sparked a firesale of 11 players – including Nigel Reo-Coker – after administrators arrived in May 2003. The club were relegated the following season from the old First Division, before arriving in the basement league in 2006.
‘Its been a difficult birth,’ says Winkelman, who grew up as a Wolves fan. ‘Because I hadn’t been involved in football I didn’t know the horror of moving a club. But Luton have tried to move here at least three times in the past 30 years. For some it’s difficult to forgive, which I understand. And I certainly now would not want to move the club.
‘But on Wednesday I was telling Portsmouth’s chief executive, Peter Storrie, how we’re the biggest city in the region outside of London. We’re only 40 years old, and in 20 years time we’ll be among the 10 most populated places in the UK. We attract the highest proportion of under-16s for games at any League club. Some 200,000 people moved here, and began new families – it is an audience that will not come to fruition for another 10 years.’
Paul Kinge is one convert. The 20-year-old student, who will be at Wembley today, says he ‘used to watch Chelsea with my dad. It was £16 for both of us, but around 10 years ago prices suddenly rocketed. I was born in Milton Keynes and the Dons are my team. I have friends from school the same – some supported Spurs or Arsenal, but it’s at least £100 for the day. We went to see MK Dons at Accrington Stanley last Monday and it was £16. I can sympathise with Wimbledon fans, but AFC seem to be doing OK.’
When and Kings C Spencer Hawes hits free agency, can we safely assume the Oklahoma City Whatevers will not be amongst the bidders? Seattle native Hawes vented to the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick about the poor state of affairs for his hometown’s basketball fans.
“It’s a sad situation they’ve got going up there,” he begins. “It’s sad the way ¦ everyone’s handling it, from the league to the city, especially. It’s being poorly mismanaged. As a Sonics fan, you sit hoping someone is going to come in and intervene, that the people with the power will come in and put an end to it, and it doesn’t look like that’s happening.”
“You get a rich owner from Oklahoma City who is dead set on moving the team, and that’s it,” said Hawes, who spent his one collegiate season at Washington after attending Seattle Prep High School. “At first, he tried to hide (his intentions), and everyone saw right through that. Everyone from Seattle knew his intentions from the beginning. It was obvious.”
The Haweses have been Sonics season-ticket holders for as long as their only son can remember. Their house is a relative skybox to KeyArena itself, located in the Queen Anne neighborhood that overlooks the Sonics’ home floor from a hillside. When the Haweses come to tonight’s game to see their son play in his hometown for the second time in his career, they will walk to the game, just as they did when he was a child.
Hawes, who will decide today if his sprained left ankle is healed enough to participate, said he might have to take on a political battle that he can likely win: convincing his father, Jeff, to put an end to the family’s loyalty should the Sonics stick around for one or two more seasons.
“When your organization is getting snatched from underneath your feet as a fan, that’s a tough thing to deal with,” Hawes said. “I’m going to ask my dad, If they stay, what is he going to do with the season tickets? Are you getting rid of those? It’s hard to support a team where there’s no future for them.”
For Hawes, the situation could only be more personal if he was wearing a Sonics jersey. He can claim the next best thing, though, as he is the best of friends with Sonics rookie Kevin Durant, the resident face of the franchise.
“I know he likes the city, (and) he likes being there,” Hawes said. “But at the same time, he realizes that business is business and sometimes that’s how it goes.”