07.26.08

Mitchell On L’ffair Pattinson : Don’t You Hate It When That Happens?

Posted in Cricket, Sports Journalism at 6:55 pm by

England’s surprise selection of unheralded fast bowler Darren Pattinson for their unsuccessful 2nd Test of the summer versus South Africa has been characterized by one observer as “numb-skulled”.  In the considered opinion of “Peep Show”‘s David Mitchell, however, it was a simple matter of mistaken identity.  From Saturday’s Guardian :

The England cricket team’s newest member, Darren Pattinson, must have been thrilled when, just last week, he got the phone call it felt like he’d been waiting all his life for: “The sofa you ordered is now in stock – when would you like it delivered?” And the day kept getting better when someone else rang up and asked him to play for the national side. Pausing only to ask “Which country and which sport?” and to rearrange delivery of the sofa – the fifth day of the Test should be safe, he thought – he rushed out of the house eager to meet his team-mates, who were some interesting people from another country.

Poor man, it’s not his fault. If, say, the Sri Lankan selectors rang me up and asked if I fancied turning my arm over, I’d be sorely tempted – but I think I’d probably check it wasn’t an administrative error. And that’s what Pattinson’s selection smacks of. Is his mobile number just one digit different from Matthew Hoggard’s? It must be something like that. In a way they’re lucky they got someone who, it turned out, had played a bit of cricket.

And I think we should go easy on that sort of cock-up. It happens to us all: I was once filming a comedy show which also required a child actor, and the director had, rather shamefacedly, to admit to the producer and me that he’d got the kids’ names mixed up after the auditions and booked the crap one by mistake. But of course we were far too nice to say that to the child, and we just coped. So I think it reflects very well on the England selectors and team that they similarly took the mistake politely in their stride.

No – no blame can be attached to anyone over this unfortunate episode unless you listen to those conspiracy theorists who would have us believe that Pattinson was picked deliberately. This is almost unthinkable as it implies a confluence of cynicism and incompetence unprecedented even in the grisly annals of England selection policy. To act by the letter rather than the spirit of the national eligibility rules is understandable where brilliant players are concerned, but to do so for a roof-tiler who’s a keen cricketer in his spare time seems very unlikely. To overlook tried and tested bowlers for a newcomer who’s only played 11 first-class games would make sense if he were a 19-year-old hope for the future, but when it happens to someone who’s 29, then it’s definitely just an admin screw-up which we can all have a good laugh about.

Night Of The Living Heitners : One Tourist’s Vegas Nightmare

Posted in Internal Affairs, Tourism at 6:25 pm by

(conditions at CSTB’s resort of choice leave a bit to be desired. Tonight’s entertainment headliner : TBA)

While on a periodic fact-finding mission in Las Vegas that just happens to coincide with the Cotto/Margarito bout (and Friday’s blatant demonstration that Team Nike USA are at the very least, one of the best teams in North America), I’ve learned a few things. Hardly revelations, mind you, but bona fide discoveries for a sheltered character like myself.

a) I went to my hotel’s barber this morning and he was dressed as Wayne Newton.  No, thank you. I badly need a haircut, but I’m not gonna partonize a Wayne Newton impersonator who doubles as a barber.  (if this was in fact, Wayne Newton, I suppose I apologize).

b) You’re all familiar with Hot Chicks With Douchebags, right?  Nowhere on the site is there a disclaimer explaining every one of their photographs was shot in Las Vegas.

c) if a showroom can get away with charging $63 to see Jim Gaffigan, Neil Hamburger should command at least $100 a head, plus an additional $50 if you’d like to leave the show early.

d) I guess Roy Horn hasn’t fully recovered yet.

Chase Utley – The Most Celebrated Cat Fancier Since Greg Ginn

Posted in Baseball, Cats, Going To The Zoo at 12:57 pm by

While the Phillies’ 8-2 loss to Atlanta last night coupled with Mike Pelfrey’s steller performance against the Cards dropped Philadelphia to 2 games behind the Mets in the NL East, there’s a much bigger picture to consider this morning. All-Star 2B Chase Utley’s received praise from a local monthly for his efforts on behalf of needy kitty-cats, an initiative that not affords him considerable praise and respect from this corner (ie. there’s about 28 cats living in a house behind mine that would surely love the run of the Utley Estate), but I’m doubly impressed the Philly superstar would dare risk ridicule from persons who think owning a cat is like OD’ing on Depo-Provera.

Cleveland has traded 3B/OF Casey Blake to the Dodgers in exchange for C Carlos Santana and RHP Jonathan Meloan. With Blake and Xavier Nady no longer being shopped, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tom Krasovic claims the Mets are interested in Brian Giles, with Binghamton’s Fernando Martinez being the Padres’ prefered ransom.

Though I’m no hurry to see F-Mart become his era’s position-player answer to Scott Kazmir, Giles wouldn’t be nearly as useless playing right field for the Mets as Evan Roberts made it seem this morning on WFAN.  Giles’ HR totals have decreased considerably over the past few years, which Roberts sneeringly implied had something to do with PED’s.   Without knowing anything for certain about Giles’ chemical intake, he’s also been toiling for the past 5 seasons at Petco Park, the place where pets fly balls go to die.

Dwyre : Tonight’s Cotto v. Margarito Fight Sets The Stage For De La Hoya To Duck Both Of ‘Em

Posted in Boxing at 12:21 pm by

I’ve been in Las Vegas for about 24 hours now, and let’s just say chit chat surrounding this evening’s welterweight clash between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito is of greater interest to the locals and tourists alike than Terry Tiffee’s Olympic hopes. Writing in Saturday’s LA Times, Bill Dwyre takes a glimpse at future scenarios, including one he predicts will favor the bank account of Manny Pacquiao.

Oscar De La Hoya, 35, wants to fight one more time. Despite losing three of his last six fights and correctly toying with retirement for several years, he remains the box-office bonanza for his sport. If he fights, it is a huge deal. If he fights somebody really good, they start throwing around the word “mega.”

Add to that all the farewell schmaltz that can be trotted out, and boxing has a real gem to sell.

The date and site have been chosen: Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mark it down. Christmas comes early for fight fans.

De La Hoya has lost mega-fights to Felix Trinidad and Floyd Mayweather Jr., so there is incentive to try to avenge either of those, especially in the case of Trinidad, who handed De La Hoya his first defeat in a controversial decision in 1999 that still irks De La Hoya.

Arum answers both of those scenarios.

“Mayweather is retired, and Trinidad walks around weighing 200 pounds,” he said.

That leaves the winner of Cotto-Margarito as the obvious next one up. Except for one thing — De La Hoya’s uncanny sense of his fan base and the marketplace.

“If Margarito wins, Oscar won’t fight him,” Arum says. “He won’t fight another Mexican in his last fight. I tested him on that. I asked about [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., which would be his easiest test. He said no. The Mexicans would hate him.”

Interestingly, even though he would be missing out on a huge payday, Margarito seems to understand De La Hoya’s predicament and even agrees with his decision.

So, if Cotto wins, he would appear to be the choice, even though there was some recent talk that De La Hoya didn’t like that matchup much either, because he lives in Puerto Rico much of the time now and his wife is Puerto Rican.

07.25.08

The X-Man Returns To New York

Posted in Baseball at 9:21 pm by

….but not to Queens. For the mere price of OF Jose Tabata, pitchers Phil Coke, George Kotos, and Ross Ohlendorf, the Yankees have acquired OF Xavier Nady along with Damaso Marte.  Never mind what this does to the price of Raul Ibanez, who’s gonna be the one to break the news to Kuff & The Buttheads?

Bald-Faced Bitch-Slap

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 8:17 pm by

The Portland Tribune‘s Dwight Jaynes, June 5th

What I™ve done, I think, is become a blogger in columnist™s clothing. The secret to the blogosphere is that bloggers usually don™t have that proximity to coaches and athletes. They aren™t hindered by a need to get along or kiss up to the people they write about. That affords them a certain freedom they can use or abuse. 

Dwight Jaynes, July 24

The Trail Blazers, specifically General Manager Kevin Pritchard, may be in violation of federal regulations in regard to public comments about the medical condition of former player Darius Miles…

[Pritchard]‘s statements could be a violation of the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Since the HIPAA privacy rule went into effect on April 14, 2003, pro and college teams in all sports have been very reluctant to reveal specific details of player injuries without the permission of the player. 

Longtime D-Miles fan John Canzano of the Oregonian, July 25

Don’t lose sleep over the puppet piece in the Portland Tribune today… Miles’ agent would like the Blazers to stfu when it comes to talking about his career-ending injury so someone will sign him.

The Trib is getting used her (sic) by Miles’ agent. Loved the kiss up line from the writer to the agent about, “teammates and coaches believe him to be relatively harmless to team harmony.”

Jaynes actually wrote two posts columns about Miles on the 24th. I agree the HIPAA issue really isn’t one, but what about the drug suspension leak?

A Prior Generation Somehow Never Learned About Yaz’ Toilet Habits

Posted in Baseball, Sad Toilets at 6:48 pm by

(above : just Whipple being Whipple)

Manny Ramirez, supposedly suffering from a sore right knee, won’t be a participant in tonight’s Yankees/Red Sox encounter. Porfolio’s Franz Lidz is amongst those predicting Manny’s days in a Sox uniform are numbered, suggesting last week’s outburst to the Boston Herald was the most ill-advised stunt in the left-fielder’s long career. Topped only by this, however :

I once asked a prominent relief pitcher to describe the most idiotic thing he had witnessed in the big leagues. “That’s easy,” he said, and launched into the story of a former teammate”an All-Star outfielder”who refused to use toilet paper. A clubhouse attendant supplied the player with a daily ration of hand towels, which, when soiled, would be flushed.

One afternoon the reliever came in from batting practice to find the locker room awash in frantic maintenance workers. When he asked a plumber what all the fuss was about, he was told that a washcloth-clogged toilet had overflowed and was threatening to submerge the bathroom stalls. “Of all the dumb stuff I’ve seen that particular outfielder do,” the stopper told me, “that was the dumbest.”

That particular outfielder was, of course, Manny Ramirez.

Nike Bows To Blog Pressure, Halts Teabag Advocacy

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression, The Marketplace at 6:19 pm by

From the Oregonian’s Brent Hunsberger :

Nike said today it will drop ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes that critics said played off some viewers’ homophobia.

In its second statement on the controversy, Nike said it would withdraw advertising critics found offensive “to underline our ongoing commitment to supporting diversity in sport and the workplace.”

Nike spokesman Bob Applegate told The Oregonian that three separate print, poster and billboard ads would be removed “as expeditiously as possible.” The ads were created by Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy and titled “That Ain’t Right,” “Isn’t That Cute,” and “Punks Jump Up.” He declined further comment.

At least two well-trafficked blogs – Gawker.com and ESPN’s TrueHoop — along with comments posted on Wieden+Kennedy’s own blog WKStudio, called on Nike to withdraw at least one ad appearing along the streets and subways of New York City.

I can fully understand why a large corporation like Nike would want to appear sensitive in this matter — particularly when called on the carpet by Gawker Media, truly the conscience of the nu-media as we know it. That said, I do not believe one is necessarily a homophobe because they are afraid of looking like Frederic Weis .

Protect Ya Neck, Jose

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 11:55 am by

Or, if you prefer, “No-Longer In First Place Skipper Lectures Reyes On Baseball Etiquette”.  From the Philadelphia Daily News’ David Murphy :

As Jose Reyes circled the bases at Shea Stadium with his right index finger held high in the air after his go-ahead, three-run home run off Ryan Madson on Wednesday night, Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen (above, left) suggested on air that one of the team’s pitchers “oughta put one in his neck” for his showmanship.

That didn’t happen, but Charlie Manuel acknowledged before yesterday’s game that some members of the team thought Reyes’ display was insulting.

“I look at both sides of that,” Manuel said. “He’s a very talented player and he can be one of the best players in baseball. But at the same time, he’s got some growing to do, and he’s got some learning to do.”

“A lot of times, if you take the personality away from a guy, he doesn’t perform as well,” Manuel said. “That’s a fine area there . . . Cockiness can be good if it’s handled right.”

Given that Reyes — suddenly a whipping boy for the Philadelphia papers, too! — manages to turn up at the ballpark earlier than 15 minutes before the first pitch, perhaps Manuel ought to worry about his own clubhouse.

This Week’s Second Joe Niekro Reference

Posted in Baseball at 2:18 am by

(Cubs mgr Leo Durocher: did he burn out talent like this?)

The Cubs managed a typical ’08 Wrigley win this evening, in producing enough runs against the Marlins so that even our bullpen couldn’t throw it away. And they tried, loading the bases twice in the final two innings of what finally ended up a 6-3 victory. Is that a legit stat — the number of runs needed to win a game with Howry coming in? Even Ron Santo and Pat Hughes have been bitching about him lately, which in Cubworld is like Tim Conway punching someone out.

There’s lots going on with the Cubs: a reported $500 K worth of draft violations, a closer on the DL for a blister (does Valtrex work on hands?), the Peoria Chiefs Julio Castillo up on assault charges for beaning a Reds dugout, Mark Cuban beating out Bud Selig’s pal in the Cub bidding “ and yet MLB’s Tom Singer decides to ask the endlessly rehashed “How did the Cubs collapse in 1969?” Was it a black cat at Shea, a billy goat, too many day games, Leo Durocher running Ernie Banks into the ground — and finally, he gets to the truth. The Cubs were owned by Philip K. Wrigley who made yet another dumb-ass trade. Why doesn’t anyone ask why the Cubs never mattered in 1970? As lame as the ’69 collapse is, Wrigley never bounced back the way the Brewers did after the Cubs clipped them in ’07. Writes the man with a nose for news:

¢ The Curse of Joe Niekro?

Now, maybe we’re talking. Niekro was a young lad of 24, coming off a 14-win season, when the Cubs dealt him on April 25 to San Diego for another right-hander, Dick Selma.

Selma did help the 1969 Cubs with 10 wins. But he went 0-6 on the other side of that mid-August hill. He never won another game for the Cubs, and only 15 for anyone else.

Niekro went on to 197 more wins across the next 20 seasons.

There was no shortage of explanations or excuses or examples of divine intervention for those who wanted to find them.