Said shell hit a game winning 3 run HR last night, while scoring the first run of Wednesday’s matinee after walking and stealing second in the third inning. Reyes also leads Rollins in every important offensive category save for doubles this season. At what point will commentators have to acknowledge that not only has Reyes successfully rebounded from a poor second half of the ’07 season, but for the 2nd time in 3 years he’s a legit MVP candidate?
If the events of two nights ago generated a near-suicidal overreaction from this corner, the most recent pair of Mets wins over Phillies revealed the former to have exactly the sort of poise I doubted they’d summon. Virtually every discussion about the infuriatingly erratic Oliver Perez has to include the disclaimer, “he’s occasionally lights-out brilliant”. Today was one of such occasions, and Perez (12 K’s, 7.2 IP, 1 solo bomb allowed to Jayson Werth) resembled a bona-fide No. 1 starter rather than the strike-zone phobic enigma who seems to take the mound every other start.
Perez wasn’t alone on the redemption front ; Carlos Delgado, nothing short of a pariah in May, once again came thru with a game changing blow, the first baseman’s opposite field, 2-RBI double off J.C. Romero breaking a 1-1 deadlock in the last of the 8th. Delgado was 2-for-17 entering today’s game against Romero, but as Gary Cohen was quick to cite, “that was a different Carlos Delgado”. Likewise, Aaron Heilman, possibly the most widely despised Notre Dame alumnus this side of Mike Golic, induced Met-killer Werth to fly out to Beltran with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th.
How tremendous was 79 year old Jamie Moyer (7 IP, 2 hits, 3 walks, 1 run, 6 K’s)? Even Johan Santana wants to criticize Moyer’s teammates for the lack of run support. In all seriousness, you’d have to go back to some of the Mets’ epic NL East battles with the Cards (’85, ’87) and Pittsburgh (’90) to recall regular season games at Shea that seemingly had so much at stake. Neither team is likely to go totally into the tank between now and October, nor are the Marlins, so let’s hear for it for what oughta be an awesome final two months.
On an entirely different tip, if Wilpon TV’s talking heads wanna champion the joys of raising kitty-cats, more fucking power to ‘em. “Time to man up and get a dog”, Mr. Mottram? Hey, if we’re gonna be all size queen about it, how about really confirming your manhood by getting two dogs?
I live with a pair of dogs, two cats and assorted other dangerous critters (one of whom runs a hosting company). Ron and Keith are guilty of many aesthetic crimes, but owning felines isn’t one of them. Let’s stamp out pussyphobia in our lifetime.
Sure, you recognize the names Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag. But what of Rusty LaRue, Ben Handlogten, Adam Keefe and Pace Mannion? Basketball and race relations experts alike owe a debt of gratitude to SLC Dunk‘s Kris247 and his carefully researched treatise, “The Utah Jazz : A Stiff White Retrospective” :
Admit it, you were searching every Fanzz store in Salt Lake looking for a Foster jersey after that clutch three pointer in the 1996-97 NBA Finals. But, his numbers tell the real story: 3.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game, while averaging 13 minutes a game over four season. You have to love the dude’s intensity though, he managed to infuriate Shaq after making a throat slashing motion towards the Lakers’ bench after a big dunk. Unfortunately for Foster, his total lack of basketball IQ was responsible for the Jazz letting him walk after the 1999 season.
The SF Chronicle’s Scott Ostler is smart enough to realize there’s one sure-fire way to have a mailbag as entertaining as Dave D’Alessandro’s —- write the questions yourself.
Q: Doc, Chris Mullin, the Warriors’ executive vice president, talked Wednesday about the team’s “vision,” which I assume means its master plan. What is that vision?
A: What the Warriors are doing is shuffling the deck so furiously that it will be November before anyone notices Baron Davis is no longer around. It’s an old casino trick. Some dealers actually toss the deck into the ceiling fan. Barring a monumental run of good luck, there’s no way the Warriors have covered the loss of Davis.
Q: So you’re saying the Warriors made a mistake by not offering Davis what the Clippers gave him?
A: Lord, no. There is a 1 percent chance that at the end of Davis’ five-year deal with the Clippers both sides will say, “Gee, that worked out well!”
The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen is a self described lifelong Red Sox fan, but stresses “I respect the Yankees and my sons do, too.” And with that in mind, the Cullen Family patriarch submits to his fellow Massholes, “this would be a nice time to retire the stupidest chant in the world: Yankees suck.” I guess Kevin won’t be ordering the above tee for either of his kids.
Beyond being crude and moronic, the phrase “Yankees suck” is simply outdated. Its origins are from a bygone era, when we all knew deep down in our hearts that no matter how far ahead the Red Sox might have been in August, no matter the score and inning of a game in October, the Yankees were going to win. And there was nothing we could do about it.
But that’s over. It’s been over since October 2004, when “Yankees suck” should have been put out to pasture. Shouting “Yankees suck” at Fenway Park today is like yelling “No Taxation Without Representation!” at Faneuil Hall.
Whatever you think of “Yankees suck,” it used to mean something, but now it doesn’t. It is mindless, as those who chant it often are. I was at Game 7 of the Celtics-Hawks playoff series, and when it became apparent that the C’s would win, some in the crowd started chanting “Yankees suck.”
“Dad,” my oldest asked, “why are they saying that at a Celtics game?”
“Because,” I replied, “they’re too stupid to think up anything else.”
Personally, I have never yelled “Yankees suck,” just as I have never sung the chorus to “Sweet Caroline,” or participated in The Wave. I have, I must admit, watched “Sox Appeal,” the low-rent version of “The Dating Game,” which takes place at Fenway Park during a Sox game.
But I watch that for laughs. Sort of like the way I watch the news. But, again, “Yankees suck” has never sprung from these virgin lips.
Cullen is certainly entitled to raise his kids however he pleases, but if the profane chant was borne out of frustration and futility, how might he account for similar chants heard in the Bronx long before and after 2004? Or the way “18 and 1″ will occasionally be heard at Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox open a big lead?
Perhaps these fans are “too stupid to think of anything else”. And then again, some might also have their own absurdist P.O.V. that doesn’t require being told by a Jumbotron when or what to cheer.
One of the more annoying staples of an ESPN or Fox Sports promo is the constant portrayal of either network’s viewers as a bunch of slack-jawed simpletons, incapable of getting thru the most mundane of daily tasks (ie. their own wedding ceremony) without seeking a properly-branded sports fix. When Saturday Comes hops in the time machine and reveals across the pond, this has been business as usual for some time. WSC considers a ’97/98 promo clip for Sky Sports’ soccer coverage, deemed “one of the most disturbing things ever seen on satellite television weirder even than the 24 hour shopping channel or episodes of ‘Scooby Doo’ dubbed into German.”
Monochrome close-ups of Premier League stars staring moodily into the lens are intercut with Sean Bean, star of the worst football film yet made (you may know the title), striding about, declaiming lines intended to strike a great big booming chord in the heart of football fans. Football, you see, is “ecstasy, anguish, joy and despair. It should be predictable but never is. It’s a feeling that can’t be explained”.
The clincher comes at the end. “We know how you feel… we feel the same way.” If only they did “ then Sky would have to close down its entire operation and publicly apologise for having been the driving force behind football’s grotesque kowtowing to television over the past five years. Instead it was left to a graffiti artist to add a ring of truth to one of the posters by adding the words “…about money”.
Where to begin to describe the awfulness of this advertisement? Firstly, there’s the patronising message “ Sky, involved with football for all of five years, would have us believe that it understands the essence of football fan culture; something built up over a hundred years can be reduced down to stock images of men in replica shirts shouting and kids with painted faces.
Worse than that is the image of the fan as someone who has abandoned reason. This is a thread that has run consistently through the media depiction of football fans in the past few years. Innumerable advertising campaigns depict that new stock comedy character, the football nutter “ sleeping in his scarf, painting his house in club colours, wearing his shirt 24 hours a day, naming a kid after a promotion-winning team.
For years, of course, the media seemed happy to suggest that if you were a football fan, you were abnormal. Now the opposite is true: the new stereotype suggests that you™re not a real football fan unless you™re incapable of conversing on any other subject.
So here I am 12 hours after this latest kick in the stomach by my favorite baseball team and still can figure out how this team can never rise up and step on the opponents throat when they have the chance. This loss is on J-Man, Luis Aguyo, Jose Reyes and the bullpen. Lets hope Omar doesn™t panic and make a deal that cripples the organization for years to come. – Steve Keane, The Eddie Kranepool Society
Don’t be cavalier about who’s closing. It’s a tougher job than you think. I take back several weeks’ worth of abuse, Mr. Wagner. There is nothing wrong with Johan Santana that wouldn’t be cured by his supporting cast not repeatedly and horrifyingly spitting the fucking bit. – Jason, Faith & Fear In Flushing
Hating your team’s bullpen is like hating a relative; they won’t go away and there’s little you can do about it. But I really hate this bullshitpen. There isn’t a single guy in there I would mind seeing replaced. It’s mostly the same guys from the collapse, which is a crime in itself. Adding Matt Wise, Omar, that’s what you accomplished this off season?!? With Wagner apparently unavailable, these guys didn’t step up and cover for him, they shat and pissed all over the carpet like a nervous puppy. – It’s Mets For Me
All I’ll say about last night’s debacle is that I was checking out a Phillies fan message board in the 7th inning, and all I saw was “we suck, break up the team, they’re awful, no playoffs, we can’t hit, Gillick, you idiot, fire sale, fire sale, fire sale…” You don’t even want to know what the comments on MetsBlog looked like after it was all over.
I think all of us might need a new hobby. As for me, I’m swearing off message boards. – Toasty Joe, Yes, Joe It’s Toasted
Of all of Johan™s starts this season, only six or so have been mediocre, and of those, only three or four have been true clunkers. The rest of the season, he™s ranged from good, to outstanding, to nearly unhittable. And he seemingly always leaves the team in a position to win ballgames despite some of the worst run support in modern Mets history.The Mets should really look at Johan as more of an investment. Would you buy a Bentley, then neglect to get it an oil change? Well, right now the Mets are pushing their Bentley to its limits every few days, only to let it get manhandled by the Kias who pull into the driveway afterwards. – Brad Bortone, Bugs & Cranks
You have to be kidding me. Victorino, Taguchi, and Jimmy Rollins in the same six-run ninth inning rally? I’m shocked that Larry Jones wasn’t instantly traded to the Phillies so he could have followed Rollins to the plate and put an end to the Mets franchise right then and there. And maybe Yadier Molina, Brian Jordan, and Terry Pendleton could have all come out wearing Phillies uniforms with crowbars in a conga line while taking their hacks at the pinata that is the Mets bullpen. – Metsradamus
Every bad relationship I’ve ever been in seemed to entail the feeling that I didn’t know what scared me more — being with that person or losing them. Last night in the ninth inning I felt that way about Wagner. I realized that the only thing that scared me more than him coming in to save the game was him not coming in. This means I officially have a new dysfunctional relationship in my life. – Mike Steffanos, Mike’s Mets
Childress, 25, is the first player at this stage of his NBA career to spurn the world’s most high profile basketball stage for one of its international alternatives.
Atlanta had offered him a five-year, $33 million contract. But the Hawks’ slow-paced negotiating tactics and the limits of restricted free agency, combined with what Childress called Wednesday the “opportunity of a lifetime,” resulted in his decision.
Whether or not others follow remains to be seen, but Pandora’s Box has clearly been snatched open.
“I’ve talked with a few guys and it could become a trend,” Childress said Wednesday. “I’m not so sure it won’t. It’s certainly different. We thought outside the box on this one. If players can see a fellow NBA athlete come overseas and live a normal life and adjust to the culture and think why not me? I’m also interested to see how these next weeks turn out for some of the other restricted free agents in my draft class.”
One Greek newspaper reported that representatives for at least two other players contacted Olympiakos to let the team know that if it didn’t reach terms with Childress that they’d be interested in the same offer. Seven players who were on NBA rosters last season have turned down offers from NBA teams this summer to play in Europe, including Juan Carlos Navarro, Bostjan Nachbar and Carlos Delfino.
Marlins backstop John Baker apparently has a clubhouse rep for vanity, so much so that his Florida teammates hired a professional photographer for some beefcake shots. As it turns out, the photo session was an elaborate hoax, and Baker’s studly visage now appears on a mock-up cover for what City Of Champs describes as “a phony magazine of a homosexual ilk”.
That’s a heck of a way of characterizing SI For Kids, but everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
Your road-weary editor will be attending Saturday evening’s welterweight collision between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, and No Mas’ Large has reviewed the former’s ’07 bouts against Zab Judah and Shane Mosley, along with tapes of Margarito’s fights with Kermit Cintron, Joshua Clottey and Paul Williams. The verdict? “Cotto is in a different league, a league that right now I think may only have one other occupant, and it sure as hell ain™t Margo. It’s Money-O”
Cotto/Mosley was contested at such a high level in almost every facet at which a fighter can excel that it makes Margarito™s bout with Cintron seem like Toney/Rahman. At one point during the middle rounds of Cotto/Mosley, Jim Lampley says something like, œthis is one of those fights where you just sit back and think that it™s simply amazing that human beings can do this, and to that I say hear hear. The shit is absolutely mindblowing.
Meanwhile, Margo was outspeeded by Josh Clottey and Paul Williams, crafty fighters, neither of them in Judah or Mosley™s league. I™ll give you my two cents right now – I don™t know about Zab because you never know how he™ll fare late into a fight, but I really don™t think Margarito could beat Mosley, not the Mosley who came to fight Cotto last November. Honestly, I think he™d get killed. I don™t think he™d get knocked out, but I think he™d get schooled and lose a lopsided decision. The speed exchange rate is horrifyingly to his deficit.
I’m sure the promoters of Saturday’s card at the MGM Grand are well aware they’re going head to head with a Brad Penny bobblehead giveaway at Cashman Field, yet strangely, they’ve done nothing to adjust ticket prices. I’m equally certain the Dodgers would allow their PCL affiliate to give away the living-breathing Jason Schmidt at Saturday’s game were it legal to do so.
In the aftermath of the above melee, Detroit Shock assistant / overgrown Bad Boy Rick Mahorn protested to the Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis that he was merely trying to separate players. That seems reasonable enough, though I’d prefer to focus on the real tragedy of this ugly incident.
All that pushing and shoving and Kid Rock somehow wasn’t trampled to death? I think we can safely label this a blown opportunity for the WNBA.
The intrepid souls behind Guard Your Grill Boxing pay tribute to James Toney and provide a platform for a man known as “The Black Bert Sugar”. If we hang around long enough, we might someday be introduced to the Belarusian Bill Apter.
It was a night that began with great promise (mostly the promise of a long ride on the 7 train and a brutal hangover) ; two teams sharing the NL East lead, battling on a muggy July evening, a marquee mismatch of Johan Santana vs. newly acquired Joe Blanton on the cards. The former was typically solid, mostly breezing thru 8 innings (2 runs, 8 hits, one HR allowed to Shane Victorino, 4 K’s) while the latter was taken deep by a golfing Carlos Delgado and a bleacher-denting Ramon Castro.
While it only took Santana to subdue the visitors over the course of 8 innings, it required no fewer than 4 Mets relievers to stagger their way through a disastrous 9th, with only mop-up relegated Aaron Heilman escaping unscathed. When the dust cleared, the trio of Duaner Sanchez, Joe Smith and Pedro Feliciano had blown a 5-2 lead, allowed 6 runs on 5 hits, a couple of ‘em to such Hall Of Fame worthy candidates as Carlos Ruiz (.210) and So Taguchi.
The latter was an appropriate participant given this was arguably the most disheartening Mets loss since Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Certainly, it was their biggest game since Tom Glavine failed to get out of the first inning against Florida on the last day of the ’07 regular season. And while we’ve got ten weeks of baseball remaining, ’tis tough at this hour not to consider the Phillies the more resilient of the pair. Much will be made of the Mets’ relief corps sucking up a storm Tuesday evening in the wake of Billy Wagner’s indisposal, but we all know Country Time could have done this much damage all by his lonesome.
Prior to the Mets’ unmitigated choke job, third base coach Luis Aguayo invited Endy Chavez to be gunned down at the plate on two seperate occasions — once in the third inning after Pat Burrell quickly retrieved a David Wright liner into the left-field corner, later in the 7th when Jayson Werth made a tremendous throw after scooping up a Wright single. In both instances there were none out, and only the second play was particularly close.
This was one of the more hostile scenes at Shea in recent memory — and that’s including the soundman turning off Chris Russo’s microphone during “Allentown” last week. It might be an overstatement to say Jerry Manuel’s honeymoon came to a crashing halt tonight, but there’s no way to exaggerate how big a lift Santana had provided in his most important start as Met, much as there’s no point in diminishing how his efforts were wasted by the bullpen’s ineptitude. I don’t have a huge problem with Manuel refusing to allow Santana to go beyond 105 pitches, but if ownership and Omar Minaya wish to cling to the pretense this is a championship-caliber ballclub, they’re gonna have to find some relief help by the trade deadline. Maybe Billy Taylor can come out of retirement.
No idea, really, but if we’re to believe the following report from the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, resources that might otherwise be used to nab the Green River Killer are instead employed to harass Boston’s somewhat spacey left-fielder (link culled from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
Seems that Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was leaving the ballpark, with headphones on trying to look inconspicuous and quickly get away from the crowds still leaving the stadium. He started to cross South Royal Brougham Way, against the signals of a traffic cop who was directing pedestrians. The police officer demanded that Ramirez open his wallet and show identification. He warned him that he could face a $500 fine and possible arrest for disobeying a police officer.
It became clear to those watching that the policeman had no idea who Ramirez was. He didn’t ask for an autograph or anything, but did ask Ramirez if he’d attended the game. After the brief lecture, and no argument from Ramirez, the police officer let him go with no further trouble.
Ah, maybe baseball needs a higher profile in this town?
Perhaps, but arresting Adrian Beltre for stealing ownership’s money would be a little harsh.
“This is the best team in South Florida pro sports until another volunteers itself,” writes the Miami Herald’s Greg Cote of the Florida Marlins, “despite the continuing and sad lack of witnesses.” And while the Marlins enter play this evening trailing the Mets and Phillies by a mere half game, Cote can hardly believe “the Marlins are closer to the playoffs right now than to a sellout crowd.”
How is it possible? How can it be that, deep into summer, two-thirds through the long baseball season, Florida would be a sliver’s one game out of first place even after bats slept in Monday’s 4-0 home loss to Atlanta?
The Phillies are better, the Mets are hotter, and yet the young, unloved Marlins continue to fight like believers, even if nobody believes but them.
This team can’t draw a crowd (the usual 14,155 trickled in Monday).
This team can’t get a new stadium (even when it seems they had).
This group is at times mindful of a men’s softball team in a beer-keg league, a bunch of bruisers who uppercut a bunch of home runs and do not much else right.
Opponents have outscored the Marlins by 29 runs this season. Florida is on its fourth catcher. It has the league’s worst starting rotation ERA, the third-most walks allowed, the most strikeouts by their own batters and the majors’ worst fielding percentage — by far.
There isn’t a Marlins starter out there who probably hasn’t been carded in a bar in the past month. Only Nolasco is old enough to legally rent a car. Barely.
With the possible (and obvious) exception of the Tampa Rays, Cote is justified in hailing the ’08 Marlins as baseball’s best story. But the routine griping about the lack of paying customers also begs the question, how many Marlins games has Cote ever paid to attend? It’s very tempting to buy into the notion of Florida’s plucky, over-achieving, econo-kiddies, but no matter how terrific a baseball fable it might be, the fact remains that every penny spent on tickets, parking, concessions, etc. supports the business interests of Jeffrey Loria and the Diminutive Accu-Jack Enthusiast.
The Fanhouse’s Matt Watson reported Sunday that Nate Robinson — playing in the Vegas Summer League for the 4th year in a row — had his jersey retired in what can only be described an unceremonious, uh, ceremony. “Being named one of the best all-time players in a bunch of games that no one ever remembers seems like a backhanded compliment, no?” asked Watson, though he didn’t even mention the worst part.
Judging by the above clip, Nate’s no. 4 didn’t stay on the gymnasium wall for a single afternoon.
Capitols LW / Richard Butler lookalike Alex Semin (above) recently submitted to a wide ranging interview with Red Yarsk‘s Igor Rudik, the latter coming up with a number of questions we don’t often see in the limited space offered by The Hockey News (translation swiped from alexovetjkin). Were Igor to bring a similar approach to quizzing North American players, Narwaur would have some serious competition.
In addition to Washington Capitals, is there any NHL team you wouldn’t mind to leave to? Detroit, for example?
I am not a fan of changing the environment. I am such a person that I am satisfied with everything in Washington. Never thought about leaving. And how to leave? You decided to play for another team and you leave? There is no such thing in NHL. If they trade you, they won’t ask where you want to.
Washington DC is a city much more boring than New York.
But it’s harder to play in New York.
Because we are young and everything is interesting for us. And New York is like second Moscow, everything is open there for 24 hours. Too many temptations, and the buzz and the noise.
And what you don’t like the most? The environment?
Well, yes. It’s boring there. And everything is different. But now I do not want to make any predictions. There will be another time, it may take ten years, fifteen¦
Do you like the food at least? Those fast foods are loathsome.
You getting tired of it. But you have to, and you are getting used to.
And what are you getting tired of?
Did you go to some interesting concerts in America?
We went to see “Pussycat Dolls”. What else? We went to many concerts. I simply don’t remember the names already. “Maroon Five”, Christina Aguilera. We met with them personally.
Is there a God?
I think so.
Just a hockey God or universal God?
God throughout the universe, of course. He directs all that there is on Earth.
The Americans as a nation are very religious. Their whole families go to the church, and there are many churches.
I don’t know about it.
Who among NHL players lives a glamor life?
Those who have already played five or six years or more.
Some may have built a house with 60 floors? No such thing? Or someone has a car that is 20 yards long?
And why would you need one?
Is it inconvenient?
I think so.
Do they talk about George W. Bush?
No, I did not hear.
Well, at least is there such person?
I know who he is. Like he will be replaced, as far as I know.
What is done wrong in the world?
This is not for me. I won’t even try.
Shouldn’t young man think about it?
And what will it change? Even if I say something. What’s the point?
God can hear you. You go to church.
I still won’t say anything condemning anyone.
It’s nice to know someone considered “completely radioactive in the job market” is still wanted somewhere. But enough about Jim McGreevey’s attempts to become a priest, in another high profile Jersey divorce case, the Giants have traded TE Jeremy Shockey to the Saints in exchange for a 2nd and 5th round pick in the 2009 draft. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the exact same package New Orleans offered last April writes the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano.
Back then, the Giants had determined the offer wasn’t good enough and according to team sources they were holding out for either an NFL player or a first-round pick. But since then, their headaches with Shockey have only grown, as he staged a mini-camp protest – refusing to even come to the practice field with his injured teammates – and reportedly got into a shouting match with Giants GM Jerry Reese.
Reese had hinted of the possibility of a Shockey deal in Monday’s Daily News when he responded to a question about the unhappy tight end by saying “I expect we’ll have 53 players when we play the Redskins (on Sept. 4) who want to be here, and are ha ppy to be here, ready to play as a team, ready to defend the title. That’s what I expect. If that includes Jeremy, that would be great.”
Obviously, now, it won’t.
Players like to talk about how they couldn’t have achieved this or that without the support of the fans, so let’s spare a thought for Shockey’s vast contributions to Big Blue’s 3rd Super Bowl victory. While a fair weather rooter like yours truly was glued to the couch, Jeremey was considerate enough to watch the game from seats far worse than what Dina Matos could’ve scored.
“You could say he looks slightly uncomfortable in the role,” writes the Guardian’s Martin Kellner of former “Match Of The Day” host Des Lynam’s return to the BBC, fronting the quiz show, “Sports Mastermind”, adding, “equally you could say Hitler looked a tad over-excited at the Nuremberg Rally.”
The fact is, Sir Desmond has never appeared as wretched, as thoroughly miserable, as he does on this programme. I do not like to quote myself but I once described John Barnes’ reading of an autocue as similar to a hostage reading a prepared statement on Al Jazeera TV. That was before I had seen Des on SM, taking autocue glaze to a whole new level.
it seems to me that the fatal lack of hinterland of the SM contestants is matched only by their poor choice in leisure wear. One chap, who seemed in exactly the right demographic to know, was asked which Czech team’s maroon and gold away strip was immortalised in song by Half Man Half Biscuit, and failed miserably to come up with the answer Dukla Prague. You cannot have entertaining discourse with people like that. Des’s desultory conversation, for instance, with the civil servant who answered questions on West Ham since 1945 began, “You’re a keen West Ham fan, I take it?” and failed to progress much from that.
I would not, for one moment, suggest that Des is past it. He is a mere 65 years old, four years younger than David Dimbleby, host of Question Time, and exactly the same age as Ant and Dec. My view is he should have been presenting the Open this weekend. Gary Lineker does a perfectly competent job but joshing with the likes of Nick Faldo and Peter Alliss is what Des was made for. If he is going to mix it with people wearing dodgy casual clothes, let them at least be people we have heard of.
I hate to take Kellner’s word for it, but “Sports Mastermind” sounds like a rough way to spend 30 minutes. On the other hand, it couldn’t possibly be any harder to take than SNY’s “Beer Money”, but if there’s any possibility of somehow pairing Des with Chris Carlin in any capacity —- buddy movie? reality show? —- I’ll make sure there’s room left on my DVR.
The last time I attended a game at Yankee Stadium (July 5), I sat in something called the Alcohol-Free seats. An unfortunate misunderstanding, as I was led to believe by the guy who sold me the ticket this would mean free drinks. But there’s no confusion for Newsday’s Wallace Matthews, as there’s no such thing as cynicism-free seating in Yankee Stadium or anywhere else in America.
On the mound, you have Pettitte, admitted HGH user in the Mitchell Report, throwing eight strong innings in weather that would fry a cactus, and at the plate, you have Giambi (above), who couldn’t hit his listed weight until Memorial Day weekend, blasting a fastball into the rightfield seats against a pitcher with the lowest ERA in major-league baseball, a pitcher who had allowed a measly six home runs all season long.
You want to believe they are doing it the way it is supposed to be done, both by law and by the code of sportsmanship. They are both good guys, one, Giambi, with a relentless desire to ingratiate himself and the other, Pettitte, with an apparent inability to be anything other than polite and cooperative, even under the most taxing of circumstances.
(The day after being grilled on his HGH use by the media, Pettitte went out of his way to thank me for asking, at a nationally televised news conference, if he now considered himself a cheater. “I really wanted the opportunity to answer that question,” he said, and he meant it.)
But then you look at Pettitte, throwing as hard in the eighth inning as he did in the first, striking out two of the three batters he faced, and you scratch your head in confusion. You see Giambi, looking as muscular and fit as he ever did, and you shake your head in disbelief.
If these two guys can perform at this level, at this age — Giambi is 37, Pettitte 36 — without, presumably, the help of performance-enhancing drugs, then why did they bother using them in the first place?
If both of them are to be believed — and there is no evidence at the moment to doubt them — then clearly, Pettitte is capable of throwing eight overpowering innings and Giambi is capable of looking like Mr. Olympia without the help of a chemist.
Or are they?
Purely on the basis of writing a uncharacteristic piece that took zero cheap shots at the New York Mets, I hereby nominate Matthews as the American League Comeback Columnist Of The Week.