Blog You’ve Never Heard Of Lands The Biggest Scoop Since Gerd Heidmman Found Hitler’s Diaries

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 5:27 pm by

Hey, it’s not like I’ve ever been steered wrong before by MLBnewsonline.com. OK, so I’ve never actually seen MLBnewsonline.com until today.  That’s not to say the site might not have some highly credible sources, the sort that would prefer to communicate with the mysterious “Bronx Bomber” than say, Peter Gammons or Ken Rosenthal.  Prepare to TOPPLE, MSM, it’s the dawn of a whole new era in making shit up sports journalism.

Back on Planet Earth, Tony Clark has returned to the Snakes and the Yankees have finally found a hitter to make everyone forget Ken Phelps.

DC Nightlife News Without Access, Favor, Discretion Or (Len) Bias

Posted in Basketball at 1:46 pm by

Don Smith points out, “this 20th anniversary is taking place 2 years and 1 month after the 20th anniversary of Bias’ death”, though to be fair, the venue might been booked on June 19.

However, Mr. Smith also points out you don’t need a historical nor a tragic event in order to have a party in Forestville, MD.

Introducing The Fresh New Face Of Sports Blogging

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

Somebody, please, get Murray Chass hooked up with Yardbarker’s advertising network, STAT.  The recently bought-out NY Times baseball columnist has launched a new blog, creatively titled “Murray Chass…On Baseball”. If you think that’s not nearly as cool a title as “Seth Mnookin…Can Blow Me”, well, that’s because Murray has pledged in an introductory post, to keep it clean (motherfucker).

Murray Chass, who created this site, will do the column writing but will invite others to join him, the others being long-time columnists for daily newspapers who no longer work for newspapers. If you have a favorite columnist who is no longer actively writing and would like to be able to read his work again, please send a note and he or she will be invited to join the site.E-mail comments are also invited, but visitors to the site are asked to omit the obscenities.

œI have spent my professional life in the print world, where obscenities don™t see the light of day, Chass said. œThey will remain in the dark here as well. It will be a good test for bloggers and Red Sox fans to see if they can control themselves.

In addition, Chass noted that some of his grandchildren will likely visit the site, and they hear enough profanity in school without needing to read it here.

As it so happens, I DO have a fave columnist who is no longer employed by a daily paper, and I’m dying to read him again.  If Murray would like to borrow my ouija board in order to contact Dick Young, I’ll leave it on the front porch.

(UPDATE : At least one of Murray’s new colleagues believes this is all a big gag.)

Manny Raises The Ire Of Harry Anderson Lookalike

Posted in Baseball at 12:55 pm by

œI want no more (expletive) where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing, Manny Ramirez told The Boston Herald’s Rob Bradford on Wednesday. Sadly, he wasn’t speaking of his attempts to get WMBR to play the Sicknesses’ “Regurgitation” 7″, but rather his contract status for 2009.  On Thursday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry (above) responded to Bradford :

“I find remarks that we have been anything other than completely straightforward to be personally offensive, Henry wrote. œManny has been a crucial part of two world championships. I do not believe we would have won either without him. He has never played a more important role than he has thus far this year.

Talking before Tuesday night™s All-Star Game, Ramirez touched on his hopes that the Red Sox organization would inform him at the end of the season what its plans are going forward regarding the outfielder.

The Red Sox hold two one-year team options for $20 million apiece on Ramirez, who turned 36 on May 30.

Though I have no idea how seriously Henry takes his disgruntled left-fielder, Ramirez has not surprisingly, forgotten his previous trade demands. Given the unsentimental manner in which the Epstein-era Red Sox have parted ways with any number of local heros, this will probably come down to how much they figure Manny’s got left in the tank at age 37.  Nobody is gonna confuse Chris Carter with Manny Ramirez, but the former can patrol left field for the league minimum.

What’s Obama’s Stance On Wiretapping Brett Favre’s Phone?

Posted in Gridiron, Ugly New Stadiums at 7:13 am by

Fox Sports’ Fabien Barthez lookalike Jay Glazer reported Wednesday evening the Packers have filed tampering charges with the NFL, claiming improper communication between the Vikings and Green Bay’s still-under-contract QB Brett Favre.  As you might expect, Minnesota has denied the charges, while the Star-Tribune’s Sid Hartman gushes “Memo to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf: “You want a stadium, put Favre in a Vikings uniform.” Presumably, the venerable Sid would not advise the Tampa Rays to sign Barry Bonds.

The agenda at Thursday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission includes the selection of an architect and a construction management firm to plan for a multi-purpose facility on the Metrodome site.

If there is a favorable vote at the meeting, there will be a request for proposals from qualified firms. The commission would select the successful bidder on Aug. 21, and the Legislature would get the cost estimates and other necessary information when it meets next year.

So maybe the odds are against the Vikings acquiring Favre, but without a doubt, the chances of the team getting that new stadium would improve overnight with No. 4 in a Vikings uniform.

Revisionist History With Joe Buck

Posted in Baseball, General, Sports TV at 6:55 am by

Fox not only captured all the emotion of George Steinbrenner’s ride around Yankee Stadium Tuesday night, but Joe Buck punctuated what might have been The Boss’ final Bronx appearance by endorsing him for a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Buck presented his pitch to what was likely a huge All-Star viewing audience in the sixth inning.

“He (Steinbrenner) should be in the Hall of Fame,” Buck said. “He made a lot of controversial decisions over the course of the years. …But I think you can always say that man, The Boss, was doing what he could to help this Yankee team win.” – Bob Raissman, New York Daily News, July 17, 2008

That Steinbrenner has been willing to spend in order to win —- and in turn, has indirectly subsidized the likes of the Twins and Royals cannot be disputed. Likewise, it can’t be argued that he’s not presided over an otherwise moribund franchise’s return to glory. But aside from victories and commercial success, there’s much more to the Boss’ resume than mere “controversy” or a reputation for bullying.  In 1974, Steinbrenner was indicted on 14 counts of illegal contributions to the campaign to re-elect President Richard M. Nixon ; the Yankee owner would later plead guilty and eventually be pardoned by Ronald Reagan in 1989.

Were it not for Steinbrenner, the name Howard Spira would probably not go down in baseball history.  The former’s sleazy efforts to defame one of his own players were hardly part of what Buck explains away as “doing what he could to help this team win”.

Jack Buck once famously said of Steinbrenner’s yacht, “It was a beautiful thing to observe, with all 36 oars working in unison.” A remark meant in fun, most probably, but it is interesting to hear the younger Buck use the Fox airwaves to lobby for Steinbrenner’s Hall Of Fame candidacy.  I’d applaud Steinbrenner’s induction, but only if he gets in shortly after Tom Sizemore’s Beatle wig.


Pencil Him In For At Least 30 Games : Clippers Acquire Camby

Posted in Basketball at 4:56 pm by

Denver traded F Marcus Camby to the Clippers last night, one of the finest defensive players of his generation and perhaps the 6th most famous UMass almunus (following Julius Erving, J Mascis, Frank Black, David Berman and Bill Cosby) of the modern age for no more than a swap of 2010 second round picks.  While Camby’s agent, Rick Kaplan accurately describes the deal as “a salary dump”, Nuggets management asserts otherwise to the Rocky Mountain News’ Chris Tomasson.

“The deal was made for one compelling reason,” said vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien, who said the Nuggets remain in luxury-tax territory. “The trade exception that we get provides us with greater flexibility and more options for potential deals.”

Warkentien was asked if he’s concerned about the public-relations implications of getting nothing immediate for Camby, who averaged 9.1 points, 13.1 rebounds and an NBA-high 3.61 blocked shots last season.

“It’s not a checkers move,” he said. “It’s a chess move. Chess is a tougher game to understand. You’ve got to wait longer to see the results of the move.”

Kaplan said Camby was “shocked.” He said Camby, who played six Nuggets seasons, was most concerned about his charity endeavors in Denver.

“Most of all, I’ll miss the Denver community,” Camby, who was unavailable for comment, said in a statement. “It became my home. It’s where I have my foundation, and I was very involved there.”

It’s a curious move — you wouldn’t think Denver would necessarily have an eye on 2010 when they’ve already got Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson under contract.  The former, presumably, isn’t going to fetch fair value from Detroit, nor is there much hope of Warkentien finding a taker for Kenyon Martin.  But this has to be consider a massive coup for a Clippers franchise still reeling from the loss of Elton Brand.  Despite being the walking definition of “oft-injured” Camby is a far more valuable addition than Zach Randolph and far less likely to send Mike Dunleavy wandering into traffic.

NFL’s Gang Sign Investigation – Yet Another Affront To Eli Manning’s Civil Liberties

Posted in Gridiron at 3:45 pm by

“The NFL, concerned that some players might celebrate by flashing the hand signals of street gangs,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Farmer,  “has hired experts to examine game tapes and identify the gestures.”  I can only hope this guy was one of the experts chosen.

“There have been some suspected things we’ve seen,” said Milt Ahlerich, the league’s vice president of security. “When we see it, we quietly jump on it immediately, directly with the team and the player or employee involved to cease and desist. Period.”

“We were always suspicious that [gang-related hand signals] might be happening,” said Mike Pereira, the NFL’s vice president of officiating. “But the Paul Pierce thing is what brought it to light. When he was fined . . . that’s when we said we need to take a look at it and see if we need to be aware of it.”

The way some players see it, there is guesswork involved, even for the experts who are studying game video.

“Guys come from all over the country, and who knows what they’re really doing?” said Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Dennis Northcutt, adding he cannot remember seeing a gang gesture in his nine NFL seasons. “People have got signs for their kids, signs for their fraternities. How do you differentiate who’s really throwing up gang signs?”

Northcutt gave an example.

“This is a gang sign,” he said, touching his index finger to his thumb to form a squished OK sign. “But at the same time, it’s a sign for a personnel group.”

The Rocket Probably Wishes Radomski Went For The Extended Warranty

Posted in Baseball, Beer at 2:00 pm by

What kind of training facilities do they have in minimum security prisons?  Presumably, Roger Clemens is gonna want to stay in shape next spring, perhaps for a baseball-themed take on “The Longest Yard”. At least one CSTB readers has claimed there’s a strong resemblance between Radomski and Ian MacKaye, and while I don’t see it myself, the former might want to consider some sort of impersonation scam if things get really tight. Surely a speaking tour of small colleges would be more lucrative than waiting for a call from Bob Ley or Mike Wallace.

Far more surprising than the NY Post‘s claim that no Yankees besides A-Rod attended the Third Baseman’s post-ASG bash at 40/40 last night is the same paper’s report that Paul Rudd and Joba Chamberlain were seen enjoying “a midnight performance by 50 Cent.” I didn’t even know they were dating.

That Yankee fans chose to boo the fuck out of Kevin Youkilis, David Wright, Billy Wagner, Dustin Pedroia and Terry Francona last night was hardly a surprise. That Bill Mazeroski was the object of loud jeers, however, is pretty impressive. That’s one sick 48 year grudge.

For The Health & Safety Of Ashley Papelbon, Can Her Husband Please Dial It Down A Notch?

Posted in Baseball at 11:34 am by

With the Boston Herald’s Rob Bradford as witness, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon threw an All-Star shit-fit prior to last night’s contest in the Bronx, claiming his recent remarks about closing the game in favor of Mariano Rivera were reported inaccurately.

œIt just kind of (ticks) me off because if that gets (expletive) written and I™m riding in an (expletive) parade today with my wife so she doesn™t feel safe because some (expletive) from the Daily News says I want to close the game, and that ain™t true, Papelbon said. œSee what I™m saying?

œThat was an easy headline for that (expletive) to say, ˜Yeah, Papelbon wants to close.™ Of course I do, that™s my competitive nature. But I™m stepping away and saying I don™t need to close.

Papelbon offered the same explanation to his manager, Terry Francona, when the two discussed the pitcher™s comments.

œHis point to me, which is really good, was, ˜If I™m closing and I don™t want to close, what kind of closer am I?™  Francona said. œAnd I completely agree.

Papelbon said his biggest problem with the story and headline was how it affected his wife, who is due with the couple™s first child on New Year™s Day.

œMy wife wasn™t comfortable (during the parade), Papelbon said. œShe™s pregnant with a baby. It (ticks) me off. So some (expletive) from the Daily News can get his headline.”

ESPN ran a clip of Papelbon through Monday afternoon and evening, describing why his “World Champion” status merited consideration for closing the game, yet clumsily defering to Rivera as an “elder statesman”.  What music to Mo’s ears it must’ve been, to learn that a first ballot Hall Of Famer like Jonathan Papelbon was willing to step aside for (in his words) “the good of the game”.

If Papelbon has no clue how condescending his tone was, perhaps Terry Francona can explain it to him. There’s no excusing verbal abuse aimed at the reliever’s family, but he’s officially dumber than he looks.  Papelbon’s hamfisted attempt at clarifying his initial remarks only poured kerosene on the fire. There was no shortage of fans —- not necessarily Yankee fans, either —- who believed Rivera deserved to finish the game and it shouldn’t have required an act of charity from Papelbon or Tito for that to happen.

Former Jersey Guy Manages To Hang With The Hoi Polloi

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 6:52 am by

I’ve already heard some yack radio criticism of Alex Rodriguez’ disappearing act in the middle of last night’s 15 inning, American League All-Star Game victory, and there’s probably no point in comparing The Third Baseman’s hasty exit with WFAN’s Craig Carton boasting that left the game during the 4th inning.  After all, Carton had to be on the air by 5am EST…in order to tell his listeners all about the box seats provided by MLB.

Amongst Carton’s bigger hassles yesterday was a sudden demand from Mrs. Jersey Guy that she be allowed to accompany the morning host to Yankee Stadium.  You see, Carton explained, now that his lovely wife has gotten a taste for big time sporting events —- the couple attended the Super Bowl last February — he’s got to put up with these sort of things.

Precisely what percentage of WFAN’s audience is meant to relate to Carton’s thrilling lifestyle?  Other than the rest of the station’s on-air talent, I mean.

Jeffrey Jensen nominates the following exchange as the most entertaining moment of Fox’s broadcast :

I think it was the third inning McCarver and Buck brought Yogi Berra into the booth. Buck says something like “so here you are sitting between Tim and Joe” and Yogi immediately says “Thanks Jay” to Joe Buck clearly not knowing his name. Then within a minute while Buck is desperately fishing for anything to talk about says something like “so you’re known for your little sayings” to which Yogi replies “That’s right Jack”. Awkward sad and hilarious.


Jerry Sloan To Kyrylo : Fuck Off & Dye

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 9:16 pm by

“Kyle Fesenko returned to town for the Rocky Mountain Revue with blond hair,” wrote the Salt Lake Tribune’s Ross Siler, “apparently forgetting he plays for a no-nonsense coach who doesn’t even allow his players to wear headbands.” Sloan’s coaching credentials are off the charts, but in this instance “no-nonsense” is convenient code for “paranoid nut with no sense of perspective”

Although he was able to joke about Fesenko – “I didn’t know who he was. I was totally taken aback by the blond hair” – Sloan clearly would have preferred his 21-year-old center call attention to himself with his play on the court instead of the coloring in his hair.

“He’s got a long way to go to make himself a better player,” Sloan said. “He has skills, but sometimes the outside things will take you right out of this game. If those things are more important than basketball, that’s where you get in trouble.”

“A lot of people have skills,” Sloan added. “A lot of them are sitting on the sidewalk wondering what happened 20 years ago when they had a chance. He’s got to figure out what he wants to do and play basketball or be a clown.”

Fesenko said he dyed his hair a month ago in Ukraine. His mother liked it but told him not to keep it. As for Sloan’s thoughts, Fesenko paused before answering: “He like it. Some way. He like it some way. But you have to ask him.”

My earlier critique of Sloan aside, I’m right there with him on the anti-headband edict. Someone’s gotta do something about Mark Knopfler’s pervasive influence on the Association.

Now the Category’s Crowded: Every Good Stanley Cup Deserves Fudge

Posted in Hockey, Sad Toilets at 9:09 pm by

I’ve always heard urine is sterile, but baby poop?

From the Detroit Free Press, piggybacking off of the Toronto Star:

Red Wings forward Kris Draper revealed during the weekend that his diaperless baby, Kamryn, did a number on the Cup last month. A number two, to be exact.

“A week after we won it, I had my newborn daughter in there, and she pooped in the Cup,” Draper said. “That was something. We had a pretty good laugh.

“I still drank out of it that night, so no worries.”

The Drapers also filled the Cup with hockey’s finest contribution to cuisine. Which I guess also suggests a new use for the word “Timbits.”

SF’s Lincecum Wastes An NL Roster Spot

Posted in Baseball at 8:24 pm by

We all know what “flu and dehydration” is a euphemism for.

Not to sound all unsympathetic, but even on a second year player’s salary, the Giants’ Cy Young candidate should be able to dine somewhere a little better than this.

Let This Serve As A Cautionary Tale, Jim Bowden : Hatters’ Appeal Denied

Posted in Football at 7:28 pm by

After an expensive legal challenge failed to prevent an unwanted road trip to Aldershot Town, John Nisbet reports the latest bit of devastating news for the tenants of Kenilworth Road in Wednesday’s Independent.

Luton Town will definitely begin life in League Two on minus 30 points next month after the Football Association yesterday rejected the club’s appeal. Luton were docked 10 points by the FA last month as well as fined £50,000 for breaching regulations over payments to agents. This was followed by a 20-point penalty from the Football League last week after the club left administration without agreeing a Company Voluntary Agreement.

Luton tried to have the FA’s penalty wiped out, but a hearing in London yesterday refused to overturn the decision. An FA statement said: “The deduction of 10 points was a heavy sanction but was not excessive as a reflection of the seriousness of the breaches and the need to deter such conduct within football clubs. It is highly unfortunate for Luton Town and their loyal fans that shortly after the FA regulatory commission reached its decision the Football League quite separately imposed a 20-point deduction for entirely different actions by the club.”

Ex-captain of the U.S. national team Claudio Reyna is expected to announce his retirement from the former MetroStars tomorrow. While Reyna’s heroics in the 2002 World Cup were amongst the brighter moments in American soccer history, Reyna might only be the 8th most famous sporting resident of Livingston, NJ, trailing Byron Scott, Martin Brodeur, Brevin Knight, Richie Zisk, WNBC sportscaster Bruce Beck and former Yankees traveling secretary George Costanza.

Because This Category Was Looking Kinda Lonely…

Posted in Sad Toilets at 6:58 pm by

….and also in the hopes the makers of the SmartCar will consider taking action against copyright infringement.

Todd Jones Would Like Everyone To Remember His Dubious Grooming Decisions Predate Giambi’s

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 5:37 pm by

Sexual libertine Todd Jones insists “Jason Giambi is not the first baseball player to grow facial hair.”  Sounds like somebody’s jealous the Tigers haven’t scheduled a Todd Jones Underwear Day.  From Jones’ Sporting News blog :

The Yankees have a strict facial hair policy. You can have a mustache, but it can’t go too far below the sides of your mouth. For whatever reason, some clubs still think you can’t be a good baseball player with a Fu Manchu.I beg to differ.

I know the Yankees do it so that one guy doesn’t stick out. Their concept is for everyone to blend in behind the pinstripes. That’s cool, I guess, but it works for only the Yankees. The Yankee mystique has enough street cred that players don’t fight the rule and actually enforce it internally.

If you want to talk sweet ‘staches, don’t forget to look at me. I’ve got one and work hard at keeping it straight. Doug Brocail and several teammates gave me a hard time years ago because my Fu Manchu was crooked. But I thought I was mean-looking, so I rocked it. To be honest, when I was learning how to be a closer, I thought I needed something to make me look the part.

I remembered the looks of Goose Gossage and the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky. Then I met Rod Beck — God rest his soul — and I was in. I’ve gone about three weeks in my entire career without my once slightly crooked and now-graying mustache. I guess it’s me.

Coming to HBO Tomorrow Evening : “Costas Now : With Reduced Buzz”

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 4:17 pm by

(the face of premium cable’s 90 minutes of medium-brow analysis, moments before being mistaken for Greg Kinear).

Fang’s Bites links to a press release that should have most baseball Town Hall viewers…wishing they lived in a city, instead.

HBO Sports™ COSTAS NOW presents another live edition, devoted exclusively to the state of baseball, when it returns WEDNESDAY, JULY 16 (9:00-10:30 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT), exclusively on HBO. Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein serve as executive producers of the show, which draws on the talents of HBO Sports™ Peabody- and Emmy-winning production department. “On July 16, we will explore the state of major league baseball from a host of angles, says Greenburg, who is HBO Sports president. œBob Costas is the ideal host for what promises to be an engaging and interesting evening.”

Segment One: The Hall of Fame: What Gets You In? Live panel: Hall-of-Fame pitcher and broadcaster Jim Palmer, Hall-of-Fame second baseman and broadcaster Joe Morgan and former major league star Pete Rose, who is on baseball™s permanent ineligible list.

Presumably, HBO On Demand customers can watch a bonus debate between Tom Sizemore’s Beatle wig and Bob Feller.

Yet Another Blow To Starbury’s Chances Of Being Buried In A Jewish Cemetary

Posted in Basketball at 1:35 pm by

Posting & Toasting provided the above snapshot of Stephon Marbury’s latest tattoo, the logo of his econo-sneaker firm.  Always thinking of cost-efficiency, full credit to Marbury for launching a marketing campaign even cheaper than a succession of YouTube videos.

Marbury was on hand yesterday for Danillo Gallinari’s Vegas Summer League debut, and the New York Post’s Marc Berman reports the 19 year old Italian was roundly abused by comeback hopeful Tractor Traylor and the referees, not necessarily in that order.

Citing alleged Miami interest in Ron Artest, the Sacramento Bee’s Sam Amick quotes Kings co-owner Joe Maloof as asking Artest to “take a deep breath and quit flying off the handle with comments that don’t make sense.” Maloof’s advice might well be directed at some of the Bee readers, whose comments following Amick’s piece raise the following quandary :  if Buzz Bissinger can hold the editor of Deadspin directly responsible for dopey comments, where’s the outcry over the unmoderated hate-fest occurring under the auspices of the MSM?

Finally, A Reason For Mets Fans To (Briefly) Admire Chase Utley

Posted in Baseball, Mob Behavior at 11:34 am by

“Poor choice of words?”  How about the most appropriate response to kneejerk abuse from a stadium full of jerks?

Ticking Time Bomb AL All-Star Bradley Insists No Ghost-Writer Is Necessary

Posted in Baseball at 11:19 am by

The only storyline more worn out this All-Star week than Josh Hamilton’s salvation (who knew heroin was a PED?) is the notion his Texas teammate Milton Bradley was at any point a similar menace to society.  The five tool reprobate superstar is at the very least, an unfairly maligned or misunderstood character. Sure, he’s only a few weeks away from attempting to accost a rival team’s broadcaster during the middle of a game, but who amongst us hasn’t fantasized about commandeering the Yankee Stadium service elevator and taking a pop at Michael Kay?

That said, Bradley is thoroughly deserving of the starting DH nod tonight for Terry Francona’s AL squad, and quick to point out to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes that any blogging to carry the M.B. byline is his work alone (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

“I don’t know where it went wrong,” said Bradley, referring to his relationship with Indians manager Eric Wedge. “I had a great relationship with Wedge in Triple-A. When you become a big-league manager, maybe you have different responsibilities.”

“I don’t know if he had a format as to what he wanted everybody to be. It seemed he wanted everybody to be clones of each other. I’m not that type of guy.”

Bradley has had problems with fans, managers and teammates during his career. Why is he always in the center of the storm?

“I’ve never been apologetic enough,” he said. “I’ve never said, ‘I’m so sorry, what can I do to make things better? Come on in and I’ll answer any question you’ve got.’

Bradley’s blog leading up to the All-Star Game has received good reviews.

“It’s a chance for people to see my words from my standpoint,” he said. “I read a couple of comments that people didn’t believe I wrote it. I couldn’t understand that. I did go to high school. I did take advanced classes and graduated with a 3.7 grade-point average. I took the SAT one time and scored an 1,120. I’m not an idiot.

“I was told to express my sentiments and how I felt. I did the best way I know how.”

When Jorge Sosa Pitches, Everyday Is Xmas In July (If You’re Wielding A Bat)

Posted in Baseball at 12:16 am by

The Astros’ PCL affiliate Round Rock Express celebrated “Christmas In July” Monday night against Oklahoma City, entertaining fans (and I use both terms loosely) with fake snow, ushers dressed like elves and Reid Ryan barking instructions into a walkie-talking (some portions of this promotion were more exciting than others, granted).  The presents were handed out by former Mets reliever Jorge Sosa (above, left), who followed ten innings of 3-hit ball from Jack Cassel and Chad Reineke with his unique flair for fucking things up (1 IP, 4 earned runs, 4 hits, one walk to former Tiger Chris Shelton). Thanks to Sosa’s generosity, the division leading Red Hawk won the series finale, 5-1 in 11 innings, despite being two outs away from a shutout loss before Casey Benjamin took Reineke deep in the top of the 9th.

It’s been a hell of a weekend for veteran relievers in Williamson County. On Sunday night, Ray King allowed a HR to Oklahoma’s John Mayberry Jr. that might’ve  knocked down a spaceship enroute to bouncing off the roof of the Dell Diamond’s centerfield garage.  Josh Hamilton’s 71-year old batting practice pitcher will get a bit of favorable ink for his efforts in the Bronx last night, but if he were unavailable for an encore performance at next year’s Derby, Hamilton would do well to give King a ring.


How Sports Executives’ Lives Were Ruined In The Pre-You Tube Era

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner, Sports Journalism at 6:05 pm by

“It was both a nightmare and an awakening,” wrote the LA Times’ Bill Dwyre of April 6,1987, the evening in which Al Campanis committed career suicide on “Nightline” and Dwyre’s paper scrambled to figure out exactly what happened.

Nightline” would come on in Los Angeles too late for our deadlines, so we would have to wait until the next day to get a tape and analyze. That seemed OK for a while, until our reporters started checking in. There seemed to be plenty of smoke and maybe some fire.

Campanis was reached at his hotel by The Times’ Sam McManis, in Houston with the Dodgers, and Campanis told him he hoped he hadn’t been misunderstood. McManis hadn’t seen the program and didn’t know exactly what had been said to be misunderstood. Suspicions and likelihoods are not printable.

The night editor in charge of The Times’ sports desk, a fiery guy named Paul Gelormino, wouldn’t let it die. It wasn’t a slow night at the paper, by any means, with Sugar Ray Leonard shocking Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title. But Gelormino kept pushing, kept saying there was something there. He wanted the story in the paper now, not later, when we’d have to spruce up our lack of timeliness with analysis and reaction and pretty charts and graphs. Gelormino was a news guy, not a pretty charts-and-graphs guy. He wanted verified facts, in the paper. Now.

In today’s world, of course, Campanis’ TV blunder would have been on 2,000 websites immediately and stirred the hackles of twice that many bloggers. Campanis would have been a dead man walking within minutes of unclipping the microphone from his lapel. Newspapers, with deadlines mandated now mostly by people who never wrote on one, would be an after-thought.

By the time we sorted through our options, “Nightline” had already played in the Central zone. We had one shot left, the Mountain time zone, and The Times owned a paper in Denver, the Post.

Buddy Martin was a sports columnist at the Denver Post. I called his home and asked him to turn on “Nightline” and take notes. He was less than happy, knowing he may be participating in a huge story that his paper would miss because its deadline had already passed.

I reminded him of who owned who — we used to do things like that.

He watched and listened, at first grumbling that this was ordinary stuff. Then, Campanis uttered his now infamous “blacks lack the necessities” and, a time zone away, I could sense Martin straighten in his chair. Soon, Campanis was raising the question of why blacks weren’t good swimmers and opined that they “lack buoyancy.”

I thanked Martin, who was now miserable. Another paper had a story he would love to have. He was a news guy. He couldn’t have cared less about ownership or corporations.

In the resulting firestorm, Campanis was relieved of his duties as Dodgers GM (replaced by Fred Claire), and ultimately became synonymous with old-boy-network racism in professional sports.   No shortage of Campanis associates have argued over the years that his ill-advised remarks were not a true reflection of his beliefs, but given the paucity of black managers and executives in the game at the time, it was at the very least a shameful moment for the L.A. organization and Major League Baseball.

All of that said, I’m not entirely certain I agree with Dwyre that Campanis would’ve been toast in the modern era.  The same tools that can used to bury a public figure can also be employed to issue a public apology or put an entirely different and/or misleading spin on things.

Chris Mortensen And Peter King Can Eat Greta’s Dust

Posted in Gridiron at 4:04 pm by

Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren boasts she’s landed an exclusive interview with flip-flopping QB Brett Favre. Curiously, the reporter’s IMDB biography claims she’s both a Packer fan and a team shareholder, both of which should disqualify her from the scheduled chit-chat. Not that Jay Glazer needs my help writing a post to the Sports Journalists.com message board, but if Van Susteren owns even the tiniest percentage of the Pack, she should either divest or turn the story over to one of Fox’s other correspondents.  But who knows if Jay Mohr Neil Hamburger is even available on such short notice?

Isles Relieve Ted Nolan of His Misery

Posted in Hockey at 2:32 pm by

The New York Islanders have sent head coach Ted Nolan packing after a disappointing 35-38-9 season in which he sparred with GM/former goaltender Garth Snow over personnel decisions.

This man does not like Alexei Yashin

The rift between Nolan and the organization became apparent last spring after his request for a contract extension before the final year of his three-year contract was denied by owner Charles Wang. When Snow became convinced that Nolan did not share his belief in rebuilding by emphasizing the development of the organization’s young prospects, he made the decision to end the power struggle and seek a partnership with a coach of his own choosing.

Describing the reasons for making a coaching change, Snow said, “There were philosophical differences between Ted and myself. Since last season and continuing into the summer, I have realized we don’t share the same philosophies. I’d like to thank Ted for his two years with the team and wish him the best.”

Asked why it took three months since the end of the season to reach this conclusion, Snow said, “That’s a fair question. This has been a difficult decision for both Ted and myself, especially for me because of Charles Wang’s desire to give Ted the opportunity to coach in the NHL and because of his loyalty to those he hires.

“I understand there could be some criticism, and if there is, it can fall on me. What I can tell you is there was a process. I spoke with Ted regularly following the season and when the draft and free agency ended. Our strong belief about our philosophical differences led me to believe, and Ted as well, that we needed to part ways. I know this decision will be best for not only the team and our fans, but for Ted as well.”

Considering how little talent the Islanders possess, the decision to fire a coach who kept them in the playoff race until Rick DiPietro’s season-ending hip surgery in March does not seem like a sound hockey decision. Game On hopes former Lightning boss John Tortorella fills the Islanders’ vacancy, which would invert his “great offense, no goaltending” conundrum in Tampa by introducing him to the Isles’ current scoring vacuum. After losing Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedetenko to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders are left with the aging combination of Doug Weight and Bill Guerin, Hillary Duff“accessory Mike Comrie, and unproven rookie Kyle Okposo to improve on their conference-low total of goals from last season. Recently signed defenseman Mark Streit is effectively a forward, so add his name to that impressive core of talent upfront. Perhaps the only good news for Islanders fans is that this move puts them in contention with the Maple Leafs, Thrashers, and Kings in the John Tavares sweepstakes.

As for the fate of Ted Nolan, he did push the team to the playoffs in his only other season on Long Island, so hopefully he’s earned himself a shorter sabbatical from coaching than his decade-long absence after being deemed a “GM killer” in Buffalo back in 1997. Maybe the Los Angeles Kings will snap him up to fill their coaching vacancy and instill some team defense, a concept the Kings struggled to understand under Marc Crawford.