04.24.08

The Bitching Mounts Over Kazmir’s Pitch Count

Posted in Baseball at 3:09 pm by

No matter how grim things might seem this morning for Trevor Hoffman or Manny Corpas, at least the troubled Padres and Rockies closers can rest comfortably knowing that unlike Scott Kazmir, they’re not subject to the voodoo curse of Al Leiter. From MILB.com’s Bill Whitehead (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

Kazmir gave up four earned runs and worked into the fifth inning on Wednesday in the Class A Advanced Vero Beach Devil Rays’ 4-3 loss to the Palm Beach Cardinals in a game that started in the morning and ended with Kazmir going back and forth from the mound to the bullpen due to a pitch-count misunderstanding.”It was frustrating,” Kazmir said following his 64-pitch effort, his second start following a left elbow strain in late February. “I wanted to work on a lot of things and stretch myself out. I felt strong. [pitching coach Jim] Hickey and I were both on the same page, but it didn’t happen.”

The game featured a rare 10:30 morning start and was played before mostly school children, teachers and chaperones, due to a promotion Palm Beach had with area middle schools.

And the game had a bizarre feel to it from the moment Kazmir toed the rubber.

His first pitch, an 88-mile-per-hour fastball, was belted down the right-field line for a home run by Palm Beach’s Tyler Henley, tying the game at 1.

After throwing just 20 pitches over the next two scoreless innings, the Texas native was told to head to the bullpen to finish his work, which led to more confusion.

“They wanted me finish up in the bullpen, and it didn’t really make too much sense,” said Kazmir. “[My start] was originally set for 70-75 pitches, and we certainly wanted me to go five [innings]. I got done after four innings and I had thrown 54.

“They said, ‘Finish up in the bullpen. If you had 50 pitches, we’d let you go back out there.’ So I’ve got to have a 20-pitch cushion to go out there for another inning? That’s a lot of confidence.”

With reliever Ryan Morse warming up in the bullpen, Kazmir stood nearby and waited while the staff communicated with Tampa Bay coaches. Eventually, he was allowed to go back to the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning, though he said he tried to do too much in a few pitches.

“They said if I threw seven pitches, they were taking me out. I was just throwing fastballs down the middle, saying, ‘Please, just get yourself out.’ The only thing that was going through my head that last inning was, ‘How can I get out of this inning in three pitches?’

Oak : What About Herb?

Posted in Basketball at 12:45 pm by

While the Post’s Marc Berman suggests Toronto’s Sam Mitchell as a viable candidate for the Knicks’ coach vacancy and the New York Times’ William Rhoden suggests Avery Johnson (time for Mark Cuban to ban The Gray Lady from the the locker room), one prominent car wash magnate / fashion plate / Michael Jordan bag-carrier confidante reminds us New York already as a qualified individual on the payroll. From The New York Post’s Mark Hale.

“Herb Williams would bring just as much as Lenny Wilkens brought here. More than Isiah. No question,” Oakley (above) said. “All he needs is a chance.

I think they should give him a chance because every time they’ve asked him to do something, he’s done it over the years. Interim coach, he’s done it. Coached after the season, he’s done it. So what’s left besides giving him a chance?

“I think that you should start with what you’ve got here and take a good look. He’s been there every time you called. You got sick, he went and got the medicine to make you better.”

Asked further whether he believed Williams should be the coach, Oakley replied, “I think he should be. Or bring Patrick back. Patrick at least [was] assistant coach three or four years. Mark in the studio with NBC, whatever. So I don’t know. I don’t know how they pick coaches these days.”

Oakley said Thomas’ firing was long overdue: “He should have gotten fired a couple years ago.”

In fact, Oakley said he believes Williams was more deserving of being coach than Thomas, Wilkens or Larry Brown.

“They should have [given] Herb the job,” Oakley said. “That was embarrassing to bring [Thomas] to New York. What he’s done over the last five years for the team is garbage.”

Hale collected the above remarks at a screening for the pilot of “Cafe Oakley”, a new cooking program that sadly, cannot be found on YouTube. Yet.

If Shaq wants to go off on the flop-happy Spurs, I’m all ears. Should Chris Bosh decide to bury Sam Mitchell, by all means, bring on the blog-fodder. But I’m not sure if I have what it takes to give a hoot about a war of words between Mike Bibby and Kendrick Perkins.

Does Oprah Need To Do A Show On The South Side?

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups, Money at 2:25 am by

http://www.cantstopthebleeding.com/img//White.Sox.Manager.Ossie.jpg

(Ozzie Guillien, above, shows exactly how he’d manage Derek Jeter)

Let’s just say the White Sox don’t have their mind on their game lately. The Sun-TimesJoe Cowley reports one reason why the Working Side of Town can’t beat the Yanks. Ozzie Guillen’s in love:

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had no problem expressing his man-crush on New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

“Derek Jeter has everything in his life,” Guillen gushed Wednesday. ”He’s got money, he’s got rings…”

Then Guillen paused and laughed as it became obvious where he was going.

”He’s not married,” he continued. ”He lives in New York. At the All-Star Game, I looked around to see if he’s got anything I don’t like. Whoa. The perfect man. Too bad I don’t have a daughter.”

(Cabrera’s 2nd inning error against the Yankees last night)

And then, South Side Sox brought me to the on-going Colombian Shortstop Blood Feud going on between Detroit’s Edgar Rentería and Chicago’s Orlando Cabrera, the two greatest players in their native country’s history, reported on here at length by ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. The two will be on the field together next week when the Sox and Tigers meet up at the end of April, but it dates back to 1992 when Cabrera’s father got Rentería signed to the majors. This, I should add, was long before Cabrera read Ayn Rand or saw his family for the Spanish language adaptation of Long Day’s Journey Into Night that it is. As Arangue reports:

But last year Team Rentería, a family business that runs the four-team Colombian winter league and a youth baseball academy in Barranquilla, was looking for investors. Edinson Rentería, Edgar’s older brother and the league’s president, offered to sell the Cartagena franchise to Cabrera, who’d already opened a competing academy in his hometown. Cabrera put in $25,000 to buy the Indios but sold them back to the Renterías at the end of the season, in January, when, he says, his interest waned. Despite many disagreements with Edinson over such issues as TV-rights fees and ticket sales, Cabrera believed the separation was amicable. In fact, it was not.

“He wanted to buy one team so he could wreck everything that’s been done with the league,” Edgar says. “I think he did it out of malice. You should ask him what he has against the Renterías. For several years, people have told me that he’s jealous of me. People have always known me more in Colombia than him, and I think that bothers him.”

As Cabrera listens to a recording of these comments, his jaw drops in disbelief. This is Colombia’s baseball ambassador, the tactful Rentería? Cabrera seems more surprised than angry. “These are ignorant comments from an ignorant person,” he says. “I’ve always respected Edgar as one of the smartest people on the field, who, because of his intelligence, has excelled beyond his abilities. For him to make comments like that is disappointing.”

Newsday’s #1 Repository Of Hate Fuckery Raises The Spectre Of Rey Ordonez

Posted in Baseball at 12:09 am by

In Wednesday’s 7-2 defeat of the Washington Nationals, The Mets’ Johan Santana finally looked like himself — minus the gopher balls that have plagued him since ’07 — and got some run support to boot. Ryan Church (2 for 5, 1 run, 2 RBI’s) continued to make a case for himself as the club’s most pleasant surprise of the young season (with all due respect to Angel Pagan), while Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner each kept their ERA’s at zero with scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively (a hold for Sanchez, a 5th save for Country Time). So of course, after the Mets ended a 3 game skid, Newsday’s Wally Matthews would choose to pick on Jose Reyes, asking the shortstop (seriously) “How would you like to be remembered, as another Derek Jeter? Or another Rey Ordonez?”

I’m glad you’re having fun again, with your celebrations and your dugout dance routines. But for thousands of Mets fans throughout the city, the only fun is seeing this team win and seeing you play well.

The two go hand-in-hand, like one of your silly handshakes.

You, Jose Reyes, are not doing your job, which is to create runs at the top of the batting order and .prevent runs on the field. You can’t do the first if your body isn’t on base and you can’t do the second if your head isn’t in the game.

The other day in Chicago, your decision to throw home on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball led directly to the grand slam that blew the game open. What exactly were you thinking?

You can blame Jorge Sosa if you like. But had you made the right play, he never would have been in the position to throw that pitch. And you might have come up in the ninth with a chance to do something meaningful. Instead, you grounded out to end a game that was already out of reach.

You can shrug the blame off on the manager or the GM or the bullpen or the first baseman or the centerfielder, and on any given day, any one of them can be measured for the clown suit.

But day in and day out, it is you that makes this engine go — or stall in the mud. When it comes down to it, the long-term success of this ballclub depends on you and David Wright, the axis around which all Mets teams for the next 15 years are supposed to be built.

Wright not only has .delivered on his promise, but exceeded it. But on too many days, we wonder if you will ever keep yours.

This week’s reports of Rupert Murdoch buying Newsday and cutting costs across the Long Island paper and the Post bring to mind all sorts of tantalizing options. Aside from Neil Best and Phil Mushinick having to share a television set, I’m intrigued by what might happen if Matthews’ brain is placed inside Mike Vaccaro’s body. I realize there’s a good chance neither scribe would survive such a procedure, but I am totally willing to take that chance if it would increase Newscorp’s profits and advance the cause of science.

04.23.08

Girardi’s Anti-Snack Attack

Posted in Baseball, Fitness, Food at 6:07 pm by

As you probably read elsewhere over the past few days, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi has banned delicious items from the clubhouse spread, a perfectly reasonable decision according to the Journal News’ resident fitness maven Peter Abraham.

All clubhouses have an assortment of candy, gum, sunflower seeds, ice cream and other goodies. Personally, it never has made sense to me. Why would you provide professional athletes with junk food?The players, of course, aren™t too pleased. They™re used to M&Ms and Snickers bars.

The clubhouse in Tampa Bay replaced all the candy with nuts, dried fruit and granola. It was hilarious to watch as guys smuggled in candy bars and ate them furtively at their lockers.

On a more serious note, clubhouses stopped giving players tobacco several years ago. Many teams have since stopped offering free beer because of the liability issues. The Yankees stopped giving players beer on charter flights back to New York.

It makes sense. Why would you want to get somebody drunk then put them in a car to drive home at 4 a.m.?

Good question. Perhaps Tony La Russa would like to field that one.

Does Facebook Totally Get Me Or What?

Posted in Technical Difficulties, The Internet at 5:57 pm by

Thanks. For. The. Tip.

MetsBlog’s Cerrone : Bring Back The X-Man

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 5:48 pm by

While pointing out that Mark Teixeira is hitting a mere .235 for Atlanta and scoffing at the notion of promoting Fernando Tatis (8 HR’s so far in ’08) from New Orleans, MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone proposes just the tonic to take your mind off Carlo Delgado’s troubles.

the Mets should continue to pepper teams with ideas and questions about who is available in trade, specifically the Pirates and Xavier Nady, who, to me, is the most obvious solution¦he hits righty¦he has played nearly 100 games at first over the last few seasons¦he succeeded in “ and liked “ New York a few years ago¦he hits¦he™s balanced¦and he™s well liked in the clubhouse and among the fans¦the problem is that it will likely cost pitchers such as Eddie Kunz or Jon Neise to get him¦no, Jorge Sosa will not get it done.

While Kuff & The Buttheads are not necessarily unavailable for comment, I’m in no mood to disturb them, either.

Giving Phoenix The (Mike) Finger

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 1:28 pm by

Amare Stoudemire might be the biggest scoring threat on either team, but the Suns have proven utterly incapable of sufficiently guarding Manu Ginobli (above) or Tony Parker during either of their first round losses in San Antonio. And as you might expect, the Express-News’ Mike Finger is gloating just a bit heading into Game 3.

The night before Game 2, Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni decided against another look at a Suns game tape and chose to watch a new episode of “Medium” instead. This was one of those six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other deals, because both viewing options offered visions of dead people.

Officially, the Spurs will fly to Phoenix on Thursday, and they might even lose a game while they’re there. But this series is over, as sure as disco and Bear Stearns are over, and for the Suns to deny it would make them look as silly as they would if they wore hotpants on Wall Street.

It was far-fetched enough to think these Suns ” these Suns who have lost 14 of 18 playoff games to the Spurs, and who have lost those games in every way imaginable ” could beat their nemesis in four games out of seven. But to win four out of five? After the punches to the gut the Spurs delivered them in consecutive games at the AT&T Center? Steve Kerr might as well try to trade for Bill Russell and see how that helps him.

You Go Live In Utah‘s Amanda has once again, proven to be a master of efficiency, combining live blogging of the Mavs’ Game 2 capitulation to the Hornets with the live blogging of her apartment cleaning.

8:04 – Tyson Chandler gets fouled. Speaking of foul, what died in my trash can? Seriously, Jesus may have built Ministry™s hot rod but Satan apparently is responsible for the contents of my kitchen™s garbage can. Hint from Heloise: don™t make Homemade Tortilla Soup then say œfuck it when it comes to taking out the trash that contains boiled down chicken remnants. You may regret it sometime in the near future.

6:40 “ Dampier elbows West. My cat throws up in protest in front of the TV. I kind of don™t blame him. Dirk dunks. My cat stops covering his puke long enough to stare at the replay.

Cincy Sacks Krivsky, Jocketty Named New GM

Posted in Baseball at 12:42 pm by

From the AP’s Joe Kay :

The Cincinnati Reds have fired general manager Wayne Krivsky and replaced him with former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty.

The Reds are off to their worst start in five years. The firing wasn’t as much a surprise as the timing.

Krivsky knew his job was in jeopardy when owner Bob Castellini hired Jocketty as a special consultant in January. The two were friends from Castellini’s days in the Cardinals’ ownership group.

Krivsky showed a fondness for signing older pitchers and making a flurry of trades. One of his most expensive decisions was giving left-handed reliever Mike Stanton a two-year, $5.5 million deal, far more than anyone else was offering. The tight-budget Reds got rid of him during spring training even though he was still owed $3.5 million.

Krivsky also pulled off an eight-player deal with Washington in 2006 that sent outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez to the Nationals for relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray. The deal hasn’t made much of an impact for either team.

Cutting and pasting the above story was harder than you’d think. I can’t get much work done with the sound of Jim Bowden giggling like a hyena.

Ronny Cedeno Plans An October Shopping Spree

Posted in Baseball, Radio at 3:20 am by

(Mr. Modesty, Ronny Cedeno, out swaggers even Piniella after his Grand Slam)

I’m almost as excited as Cedeno after his 1st career grand slam pushed the Cubs to an 8-1 rout over the NY Mets yesterday, but I’m not so keen on picking out a World Series ring as he is right now. Still, when even Ted Lilly turns a corner as he did over his six innings, it’s tempting. Maybe that ‘s because my first listen to my MLB audio included Eric Gagne giving up a tying run in the 9th to Albert Pujols in a St. Louis/Milwaukee game. The result was learning that the Brewers, even with Gagne aboard, can beat Los Tards, which is good news and bad for the Cubs. As in, not everyone plays like the Pirates and Mets. As the gap in the NL Central widens, the early race looks like an evenly split division of Haves and Have-Nots with the Cards, Brewers, and Cubs high on top and the Astros, Reds, and Bucs in the basement, and not much middle ground. MLB also provided my first Ron Santo called game in years. Santo peppered it with Mets inspired memories of standing too close to a broadcast booth heater at Shea that set his hair piece on fire during a National Anthem, and then, when informed that this was the last year for the old Shea Stadium, said, “Oh, break my heart.”

Chelsea’s Unlikely Savior : John Arne Riise

Posted in Football at 12:10 am by

Gary Mabbutt, the late Andres Escobar and the even later Roy Riegels can move the fuck over. Who dares doubt the strategic prowess of Grunty Avram Grant? Chelsea can play 10 men back, producing a genuine snoozer of a 2nd leg at Stamford Bridge and still manage to punch their ticket to Moscow, all because of one particularly inefficient clearance.

Liverpool’s soap opera off the pitch
continued to command attention on Tuesday, as the Independent’s Jason Burt reports Tom Hicks insisted on attending the match — sitting in close proximity to representatives of Dubai International Capital and embattled exec Rick Parry.

The Liverpool co-owner defied the advice of the Merseyside Police, who had deemed his presence a security risk, and attended last night’s semi-final at the club that, 50 per cent at least and for the time being, belongs to him. Except no one wants him there. There were no anti-Hicks banners, no chants calling for him to go and only half-hearted goading of “USA” from the Chelsea supporters.

Hicks arrived at Anfield early. The police warnings had been clear. They did not want either Hicks or Gillett at the ground but the Texan pulled up, in one of three blacked-out people carriers, more than three hours before kick-off and prior to the arrival of the fans who usually throng the Shankly Gates. There were a dozen or so people in Hicks’ entourage who all wore Liverpool scarves, which looked suspiciously as if they had only recently been liberated from their cellophane wrappers.

Earlier in the day Hicks “ who was staying at the same dockside hotel as the Chelsea team “ had ventured to Liverpool’s training ground, Melwood, where he briefly met with Rafael Benitez. It put the manager in an uncomfortable position and, later, he confirmed that he had said “hello” to Hicks. “We spoke about maybe having a meeting together, the owners and everyone,” he said. “It was positive and just to say hello and arrange to meet. That will be a positive meeting. We will all be together.”

They weren’t last night. There was plenty of tension in and around the executive lounges. Rick Parry, who clearly wants the DIC bid to succeed and has continued to talk to the company, even if it is likely to mean he will eventually leave, hung around. He was anxious to see how the various parties greeted each other and there was some expectation that DIC would try to speak to Hicks either before or after the contest.

He is still posturing that he wants to acquire the club wholly for himself but, increasingly, his words are just that. Posturing. He cannot get the financing.

04.22.08

Tuesday, 4/22 In San Jose : Jeremy Roenick Turn Back The Clock Night

Posted in Hockey, Mob Behavior at 11:44 pm by

At the risk of being flippant about anyone’s livelihood, Ron Wilson’s job seems so much more secure late this Tuesday evening than say, Avery Johnson’s.   Celebrate in style, Sharks fans, but keep in mind Montreal’s supporters have already set the bar quite high.

Gordon Edes’ New Gig

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace at 6:04 pm by

In which the Boston Globe’s sports department prepares to do more with less. From David Scott’s Scott’s Shots :

Gordon Edes, has agreed œin principle to a job with Yahoo! Sports as a national baseball writer. Edes, according to sources, is committed to going to Yahoo!, but was still hoping to be part of the buyout offer at the Globe that recently lured Jackie MacMullan off the masthead.

The move to Yahoo! has some historical basis for Edes as he was once on the same staff at the Los Angeles Times where Yahoo!™s Executive Sports Editor, Dave Morgan, came from two years ago. The move may also sound familiar to some as Edes has, in recent years, been courted and thought to be going to one on-line entity (Fox Sports) or another (CBS Sportsline).

Edes left a mark on the market for sure and became a constant TV and radio presence in recent years, but his most lasting contribution may have been getting former Red Sox bully Carl Everett to utter the words œcurly-haired boyfriend regarding Dan Shaughnessy. The nickname stuck for Shaughnessy and Edes had his in-the-shadows, Boston moment.

Juve’s Moggi : There Are No Homosexuals In Soccer

Posted in Football at 5:40 pm by

Yeah, just like Iran. From Goal.com :

Despite being out of the game former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi still regularly has his say on current affairs, and he has had some controversial things to say about homosexuals.

œI don™t know if footballers are against gays in the team, I certainly am, he stated.

œI can quietly confirm that, in the clubs where I have been, I have never had them, never.

œI would never have wanted a homosexual player. Even today I wouldn™t buy one. Supposing I were to make a mistake and I found one of them, he would be the first to go.

œI am a little old-fashioned. But I know the football world and its insides. You cannot live within it as a gay. A homosexual cannot be a footballer.

œIn calcio there are no homosexuals, neither between players nor among directors. It™s not racism, its fact. Football has a particular environment; you get naked in the dressing room.

œI have no gay friends. I go out with other people. But I have to say that homosexuals are very intelligent people, they have the capacity to see things differently. 

If there’s any consolation, we can rest assured that Moggi’s backwards remarks have proven Serie A is no match for the Coca Cola Championship when it comes to enlightened attitudes about male sexuality.   Sort of.

Thank You, Bill Parcells & Jeff Ireland…

Posted in Gridiron at 4:40 pm by

…for killing whatever little drama there might’ve been concerning the first overall pick in this weekend’s 2008 NFL Draft.

Seattle waived RB Shaun Alexander earlier today, the former league MVP never fully recovering from the twin curses of making the cover of Madden ’07 and a somewhat prescient commercial for ESPN Mobile.

Finally, Brendan Haywood Takes Out Someone Besides Etan Thomas

Posted in Basketball at 4:25 pm by

“You know, any time LeBron gets touched, Mike runs out there like LeBron got shot or something. Calm down Mike. It’s not that serious. We’re not trying to take him out. It’s all within the confines of the game. I don’t see how coaches should be running out on the court like that anyway. Isn’t there a coach’s box? Since we’re talking about the confines of the league rules, he shouldn’t be out of the box.”

If you go out and try to foul him lightly, he’s gonna score the basketball. There was nothing malicious. Actually I apologized to LeBron James. I didn’t mean to hurt him. It’s not one of those type of things. It’s one of those things, I’ve been instructed to give him hard fouls so he’s not to get highlight dunks in the half-court, so I’ve got to do what my coaching staff tells me to do if I’m gonna stay out there on the court.” – the Wizards’ Brendan Haywood, just-doing-his-job, as quoted by DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg.

Much as I love Washington refusing to allow easy layups, can you imagine the shitstorm if James had broken a wrist or fractured a kneecap on such a play?  Mike Brown’s manner of protest might be against the rules, but how far do you suppose the Cavs go in these playoffs without LeBron? Sort of ordering his players to submarine Gilbert Arenas, Brown has to do everything possible to protect James, otherwise his job status is no more secure than Haywood’s.

Dan Bickely’s Crusade Against Flopping

Posted in Basketball at 12:03 pm by


(drawing by Josh Frankel)

Feigning injury or selling a foul is hardly a new phenomenon (“if Jose Canseco is the godfather of steroids, then Vlade Divac is the godfather of flopping”), but the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley should be applauded for managing to wash Shaq’s Escalade and write a column all at the same time.

Flopping – or exaggerating the effects of physical contact in hopes of drawing a foul on the opponent – is technically a form of cheating. It’s more acting than basketball. It’s creating an illusion to fool the referees.

It’s garbage. It’s spineless and wrong. It belongs in professional wrestling. Problem is, it’s a central storyline in the Western Conference playoffs, where the Spurs beat the Suns in Game 1 and Shaquille O’Neal claimed, “the floppers prevailed.”

“I don’t react to players’ comments or really anybody’s comments,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Monday. “It’s like Hillary (Clinton) and Barack (Obama), you know? So and so said this about you. Let’s talk about health care and that sort of thing instead of the bull (expletive).”

Flopping has become such an issue in American basketball that NBA executive Stu Jackson, who oversees the officiating, claimed last season that he was going to research how other leagues handle the most notorious offenders.

Jackson did not return phone calls Monday, but when informed about the flopping charges here in San Antonio, the guy who answered the phone at NBA headquarters said with great sarcasm: “What a surprise.”

Overseas, the problem is so insidious that FIBA referees can assess technical fouls on players for flopping, and with more and more foreign-born players inhabiting the NBA, it’s easy to see how the product can suffer.

“They come from the soccer culture where they kind of get elbowed and then they get carried off on the stretcher,” Suns General Manager Steve Kerr said. “And then they come back a minute later and they’re running at full speed. First, you’re worried they’re going to die. And then you’re worried they’re going to score three more goals in the game.”

Clearly, the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili is the Jack Nicholson of flopping, and that’s a shame. Ginobili is a marvelous talent with great courage and toughness. A total team player, he accepted less money and a lesser role (sixth man) just to help his team win. As Popovich noted on Monday, “He got over himself a long time ago.”

Yet outside San Antonio, Ginobili has tarnished his reputation by being King Flopper, and he will never be appreciated for the great player he is. But it’s not just European players who have mastered the art of flopping. It’s not just the Spurs, either. And I hate to tell you this, but the Suns have plenty of floppers, too, including the two-time MVP.

“Raja Bell’s a flopper, Kurt (Thomas) is a flopper, Ginobili is probably the king of floppers,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “There are levels of flopping. Divac might be the father of flopping. That’s gamesmanship . . . you love ‘em when you’re with them and hate ‘em when they’re against you. That’s normal.”

No, normal would be two guys playing basketball, and the best man wins. Instead, flopping rewards inferior players, enrages the victims and makes the officials look stupid.

Though I don’t find the practice nearly as insidious as Bickely, some acting props should go the way of AK-47, who managed to get a game-tying Rockets 3 pointer waived off last night after pretending Luis Scola had stabbed him in the torso.

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports Isiah Thomas has been banned from contacting any Knicks players. I was thinking this might explain why Randolph Morris never got into a game, but apparently, said ban has only been enforced in the past few days.

Carlos D. Vs. Giambi : Who Is More Washed Up?

Posted in Baseball at 11:03 am by

It’s a painful question for Mets and Yankee fans alike — not to mention the staff and management at the China Club, who might have to give the Giambino a table closer to the kitchen. But Newsday’s Jim Baumbach cannot be swayed by mere sentiment, declaring “the Mets need Carlos Delgado to hit like his old self far more than the Yankees need Jason Giambi to”.

The Yankees can get by without Giambi hitting. They can hide him far down in their powerful order, maybe even as low as eight if his struggles continue. And no one will notice because you’re bound to get massive power numbers from A-Rod and Abreu, Matsui, Posada and Cano will drive their share of runners in. They’ll still score a ton.

But the Mets’ lineup becomes significantly weaker with Delgado scuffling. Basically, without Delgado, they’re down to two legit run producers in Wright and Beltran, and you’ve just got to hope Alou can stay healthy to give you 300 at-bats and Church continues on his current pace. That’s a whole lot of fingers crossed in that scenario.

If only Delgado can show enough to hit .275 with 30 doubles, 22 home runs and 90 RBIs – essentially his 2007 numbers with a higher average – the Mets become such a more formidable offensive team. Yet right now, after what we’ve seen so far, it’s easy to wonder whether Delgado can give half that. And the Mets have to be worried.

I share Baumbach’s concern and the only saving grace I can find in all of this is that Andruw Jones’ skills seem to be diminishing twice as fast as Delgado’s. Granted, that would be bigger consolation were Jones still in the NL East, but I’m loathe to write off a player with Delgado’s credentials after less than a month of play. It’s not as though the Mets have Adam Lind waiting in the wings or anything.

Cubs Host NY Metropolitans; No Cub Fans Arrested On Camera

Posted in Baseball, Mob Behavior at 7:29 am by

(much maligned Cub fans)

Cub fans, disparaged in this audio clip by Marty Brenneman, were on their best behavior last night after a scathing examination of Wrigleyville conduct here at CSTB. Except for two notable moments that brought fans to some unseemly boos, specifically when the night’s mvp, Aramis Ramirez, was hit by an Aaron Heilman pitch (after a Ramirez home run that brought in the only two runs the Cubs needed all night), and then when Lou Piniella jumped out of the dug out to accuse Heilman of a balk. I’m giving the crowd an 8 on etiquette for the evening.

(Really, Mr. Brenneman? Really?)

That said, the Cubs did what was hoped of their $100 millions payroll for most of the evening “ Zambrano went seven and gave up one run. Ramirez, Fukudome, Lee, and co. delivered with their bats, Marmol set up Kerry Wood, and Wood lasted the entire 9th, giving up nothing. The 8th is what mattered, esp when Jose Reyes dropped an in-field hit by Derreck Lee that put Lee on base, followed by the Ramirez peg. Fukudome followed with a 10-pitch, five-minute long at-bat that stands out to me as rare in Wrigley. He never gave up on it and got to first on an outside pitch that turned into a line drive, thus loading the bases for De Rosa with no outs. De Rosa and Geovany Sota then went down on swings and a pop up, respectively, and you really saw the difference between them panicking with the bases loaded and what Fukudome did. With two down, they verged on blowing the NY State Lotto ticket Heilman and Reyes handed them. Then Ronny Cedeno lined in a double followed by Felix Pie’s 3-run HR that made it a Cubs’ 7-1 final.

Cheer up Met fans, you get Ted Lilly today.

04.21.08

A Big Night For The Other Bowen In Silver & Black

Posted in Baseball at 11:40 pm by

(Idaho’s Corey Violette, missing a 3 from the top of the key. On the very far right, Quin Snyder, resplendent in a puke green shirt)

Justin
Bowen, that is, the Toros forward whose game high 25 points led the Toros to a 95-89 defeat of Idaho in Game One of the ’08 D-League Finals. The Stampede blew an early 12 point — largely built when Toros C Ian Mahinmi landed in early foul trouble. Darvin Ham recorded a double double for the hosts and received a rousing ovation when leaving the floor in the waning moments — I’m sure that’s happened somewhere else in the past 5 years, but fuck if I know where.

Though Bowen, Mahinmi (nursing a leg injury suffered last Saturday) and Ham were the stars of the night, special mention oughta go to Josh Gross, whose rejection of a Luke Jackson breakaway layup in the 4th quarter essentially snuffed out the very last sign of life from Idaho.

37th overall pick Josh McRoberts managed to take up plenty of oxygen while accumulating 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 1 flagrant foul in 15 action packed minutes for Idaho. Of the nearly 2300 in attendance (a fair number of whom, I’m guessing, didn’t pay for a ticket), a surprisingly low percentage came to heckle the former Dookie.

Much has been made of the Austin Convention Center’s lack of basketball ambience, but playoff ThunderStix aside, the combined Spurs/Toros organization oughta be proud. It was a respectable turnout given the Toros’ semi-final win just took place 48 hours ago, and considering the tremendous amount of roster turnover over the franchise’s third season, it’s astonishing Snyder has imposed something approaching a discernible style of play, let alone the Toros being on the brink of a championship.

Conversely, the Stampede (who have no shortage of real talent, most notably D-League slam dunk champ Brent Petway) seem to favor the playground D best typified by having 4 players converge on whoever is holding the ball. Said strategy actually works rather well when Carldell Jackson attempts his Alexi Kovalev-in-sneakers impersonation, but luckily for Austin, such instances don’t make up the bulk of the evening.

Idiot Cashman : Joba’s Staying In The Pen

Posted in Baseball at 7:31 pm by

œThere is no question about it, you don™t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don™t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that. – Hank Steinbrenner, April 20, 2008

Conversely, taking a pitcher one year removed from pitching against the Big 12 and throwing him into the starting rotation would be….a work of utter genius? Peter Abraham listened patiently as Yankee GM Brian Cashman calmly defended his own non-idiotic approach.

œWe™re on the same page, 110 percent, Cashman told The Journal News a few minutes ago. œHe understands the situation.
Cashman said Joba Chamberlain would remain in the bullpen for now. At some point (Page 1 of the Secret Plan), he will make the transition to the bullpen.

How Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Mike Mussina pitches has nothing to do with it. The Yankees are primarily concerned with Joba™s development and health.

œIf we need a pitcher or somebody gets hurt, we™ll go down below and get somebody, Cashman said. œYou can™t just suddenly put Joba in the rotation.

There is no question in Cashman™s mind – none whatsoever – that Joba™s future is as a starter. He was drafted as a starter, paid a signing bonus as a starter and developed as a starter. His pitching in the bullpen has been a function of innings limits.

As for Hank™s comments that it was a mistake for Joba to pitch in relief last season, Cashman said he explained to the co-chairperson that Joba was about to reach his innings limit when that move was made.

œHank wasn™t involved last season and he didn™t understand what we were doing at that time, Cashman said. œI explained it to him and he had no problems with it.

Whether or not Joba pitched in relief last season, Cashman said, had no effect on his availability as a starter this season.

With all due respect to Lil’ Stein’s baseball acumen, exactly how many 100mph fastballs do you figure Chamberlain might be throwing 100 pitches into a night’s work? Ideally, more than a few, but it’s hard to believe Chamberlain’s transition would be as simple as Cashman’s employer demanding Joba be thrown into the deep end immediately.

The Strange, Manly Rituals Of George Karl

Posted in Basketball at 5:03 pm by

America is a funny place — the law is interpreted differently from town to town. Behavior considered perfectly legal in a Los Angeles locker room (above) can win you the ire of police in Purchase, NY.

David Boston : The Latest NFL Washout To Tarnish The Legacy Of Joe Theismann’s Argos

Posted in Gridiron at 4:20 pm by

From TSN.com :

The Toronto Argonauts added some size to their receiving corps, adding former Pro Bowler and NFL receiving yards leader David Boston.

“We are extremely excited about signing David.  We have been looking for a big, physical receiver and he certainly fulfills that role. He has the size and speed to be a dominant player in our league as the wider field should fit well with his natural abilities,” head coach Rich Stubler said in a statement. “Combined with returning receivers Arland Bruce III, Obed Cétoute, Patrick Johnson, Andre Talbot and Chad Rempel, David adds another powerful weapon to our receiving corps.”

Boston, who was named to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in receiving in 2001, hasn’t caught a pass in the NFL since 2005.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why Boston would choose to launch his comeback north of the border.

Here’s A Scary Thought : Eddy Curry Has A Voice In The Knicks’ Coaching Search

Posted in Basketball at 3:34 pm by

Former Bulls screamer Scott Skiles was hired today as Milwaukee’s new clipboard maestro, and the New York Post’s Marc Berman would have us believe Skiles failed to get a call from Knicks due to a poor relationship with a certain lumbering underachiever.

Skiles’ bid may have been damaged because two prominent Knicks starters, Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford, despised him with the Bulls. Skiles got them traded.

Curry indicated his distaste for Skiles when asked by The Post his reaction if Skiles was hired. “(I’m) speechless,” Curry said after a long pause. “We’ll see what happens.”

A friend of Skiles scoffed at any connection. “If Curry and Crawford despised him, then the Knicks should’ve hired Scott immediately,” Skiles’ friend said.

When Mark Jackson’s interviewed, the key for him will be to explain how he would fill out his coaching staff, considered vital by Donnie Walsh because of Jackson’s inexperience. Hiring a veteran top assistant is a must. If Jackson gets the job, he may consider former Knicks assistant Brendan Malone and/or Patrick Ewing.

Though Jeff Van Gundy dreams of one day returning to coaching, he acknowledged Saturday Jackson is best for the job now, calling it “a one-horse race.” Van Gundy might have inside knowledge, considering he worked on some playoff telecasts in San Antonio this weekend.

Walsh said he would put Van Gundy on the list. But a source said when a reporter asked if Van Gundy would be interviewed, Walsh made a gesture with a fake pen and pretended to write a name as he said, “Well, you just brought his name up. I’ll put him on the list. I’m compiling that list right now.”

“Man, he must be desperate,” Van Gundy said Saturday.

Q : What Do Pam Ewing & Phil Mushnick Have In Common?

Posted in Hockey, Sports TV at 1:27 pm by

A: They’re both advocates for major sporting events starting and ending earlier. From the Daily Gazette’s Ken Schott :

I was watching the third period of Game 6 of the Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche NHL playoff series late Saturday night on Versus when at midnight, suddenly I was watching a Victoria Principal makeup infomerical.

I had to get on my computer to listen to the rest of the game.

I have the feeling someone at Time Warner Cable had a timer on, and it made the switch. Unfortunately, it hasn™t been corrected as of 12:24 a.m.