08.31.08

Taking One For The Team : DiNardo’s Minor League Martyrdom

Posted in Baseball at 5:56 pm by

(l-r : DiNardo, Wire’s Bruce Gilbert)

Perhaps lost in this weekend’s top baseball news —- the demonization of Robbie Cano, the continued Jeckyl & Hyde routine of the New York Mets, C.C. Sabathia being fucked over by the official scorer in Pittsburgh, His (Little) Lordship Of Scrappitude returning to the NL —is the strange case of former Red Sox hurler Lenny DiNardo.

DiNardo, currently toiling for the A’s PCL affiliate Sacramento River Cats, pitched a scoreless first inning last night against Fresno, before allowing a combined 15 earned runs over the next two frames.  “Clearly, manager Todd Steverson and pitching coach Rick Rodriguez believe the 28-year-old DiNardo is mentally strong enough to take this whipping and keep on ticking” writes the Sacramento Bee’s Martin McNeal, ignoring the possiblity that perhaps Steverson actually enjoyed leaving Lenny out there to die (link taken from Baseball Think Factory).

DiNardo mercifully was removed after 81 pitches and received a smattering of applause from fans that recognized he’d hung in as long as he could.

Steverson explained how DiNardo wasn’t hit hard early in one of the innings when he “gave up seven or eight runs.” He was serious, too.

The bottom line, though, was DiNardo helped save a bullpen preparing to defend a Triple-A crown this week in the playoffs. David Shafer relieved him and delivered four innings of two-hit, one-walk, scoreless pitching while Bret Prinz and Brad Kilby followed without giving up a hit or a run.

“The bottom line is everyone can’t pitch every day,” Steverson said. “Now, that sign isn’t posted out in front of the stadium.”

Nor is there a sign that indicates the mental strength of a pitcher who can shake off a performance like this one and be depended upon to come back strong in his next outing.

“At this level in the minor leagues,” Steverson said, “you’re not at full capacity every night.”

Killer Kowalski, RIP

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 3:53 pm by

Edward Walter Spulnik aka Killer Kowalski, a pro wrestling veteran for 40 years, and the bridge between the eras of his tutor Lou Thesz, and protege Triple-H, passed away yesterday at the age of 81.  For persons of a certain age growing up in the Northeastern US, Kowalski was the prototypical monster heel, one whose malevolent charisma compared quite favorably to the stars of today.  The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Eck recalls the first time he witnessed The Killer in action :

I was either 6 or 7, and my parents and I were seated about five rows from the ring. Kowalski™s opponent that night was Tony Garea. With his chiseled features and wavy hair, Garea was the epitome of a white meat babyface. He also was my mother™s favorite wrestler.

In contrast, Kowalski looked as if he had just stepped out of a nightmare. At 6 feet 7 and 275 pounds, he was Frankenstein™s monster in wrestling tights. Unlike the fictional character, however, Kowalski was anything but stiff and plodding. Typically, he would hunch over menacingly, curl his hands into claws out in front of his chest and then pounce on his helpless prey.

Before Garea knew what was happening, Kowalski was all over him. I was close enough to the action to hear Kowalski growling as he viciously stomped his helpless opponent. At one point, Garea screamed out in pain as Kowalski applied his infamous stomach claw hold. I believed it was all real, and I was terrified that Kowalski was going to come into the crowd and make me his next victim.

In other words, Kowalski did his job extremely well.

Will Someone Please Confiscate Bill Gallo’s Television & Typewriter?

Posted in non-sporting journalism, politics at 3:29 pm by

In a move almost as questionable as Fox News tapping Karl Rove to analyze the Democratic primaries, the New York Daily News has permitted the venerable Bill Gallo to cast his aging eyes towards last week’s Democratic National Convention.

We report to you by way of our TV, where on this beautiful night, 80,000 fans crammed into Denver’s Invesco Field, waiting for the challenger, “Kid” Obama, to enter the ring. The crowd roars as “Kid” comes waving happily and looking as confident as Muhammad Ali in his prime. The Kid’s got hold of the mike now and starts off slowly with some good jabs at his opponent. … His punches now are thrown in bunches, and judging by the cheering crowd, they are landing.

Kid Obama was great on his feet and boxed beautifully. Certainly, it would not be an exaggeration to call this his “Willie Pep Night.”

With all that, there is no telling how Kid will do when his opponent, “Ol’ Salt” McCain, starts throwing leather. This savvy ol’ gent with the silver hair and big right hand is no pushover. You hit him and he hits you back, without mercy.

So now fight fans, we wait for the main event – the nice young boxer against the hard-hitting geezer. The big question will be whether Kid Obama can take a punch or not.

In the wake of Mariotti’s departure from the Sun-Times, something tells me we need not worry about Bill Gallo taking his considerable skill-set to the Huffingotn Post.

Mitch “Blood” Green Has Not Yet Begun To Fight. Or Talk

Posted in Boxing, MMA at 3:44 am by

Former heavyweight hopeful / offensive driving specialist Mitch “Blood” Green was quizzed by The Sweet Science’s Shawn Murphy earlier this week. Aside from still harboring a serious grudge against the fighter he calls “Michelle Cicely Tyson” and promoter Don King, Green claims to be preparing to make his MMA debut. What, you thought he’d be speaking at the Republican National Convention?

(SM)  What’s in your future plans Mitch?
(MG)  Ultimate fighting, wrestling, whatever. Remember that show “Best Damn
Sports Show”, I got on there and called Tyson a homosexual!  I love to talk, I’m original, I’m always talking!  Don Queen, Don Queen!  Hold on Shawn I
want you to talk to someone else. (another phone line rings)

(SM)  Hi, who is this? (three way call)
(DK)  I’m Dr. King, Mitch’s longtime friend and dentist.

(SM)  What are your plans for Mitch?
(DK)   I want to get him into ultimate fighting.  I’m making some calls to New
York to see about licensing.  His opponent will try and kick him, Mitch will block it and then Mitch will knock him out with one punch.

(MG)  This is the guy that can get me some fights!
(DK)   Mitch could do a show in Vegas and it would be a million dollar gate.
(MG)  This is the white Don King, this is the angel, and the other DK is the devil!
(DK)   What is fascinating is that several years ago when he wanted to fight
Tyson, Don King wouldn’t give him a shot because he knew Mitch would knock him out.  This is one of the underdogs.  If you ever write a book it would be called “From Rags To Rags”.  But I’m telling you he is the next big thing in ultimate fighting.  It’s a huge draw in Vegas.  Right now I have two people who are looking to take him to Bahrain, Dubai and Egypt. Mitch has a huge following.  I took him out for lunch after an appointment one time and every kid on the street stopped him to say hello.  He’s a big hero around here, but he never got the chance to because he’s tough to control.  Mitch has a heart of gold.

(SM)   Mitch, you still there?
(MG)  Yeah I’m still here!  Dr. King is a good friend of mine.  He’s not in the business but he knows a lot of people.  I’ll fight a lion or a bear!

Chelsea Invites Supporters To Rat Out Their Fellow Fans Anti-Semites

Posted in Football, Genocidal Tendencies at 3:04 am by

(he’s not sieg-heiling folks — the gent on the left is merely waving to the Pepsi Party Patrol and their t-shirt cannon).

Spurs collide with top-of-the-table Chelsea later today
, and the hosts have issued an official warning to their home supporters that anti semitic abuse aimed at Tottenham fans will not be tolerated. As opposed to say, the firing of Avram Grant, which was considered socially acceptable.

Chelsea Football Club is committed to stamping out all forms of anti-semitism and for Sunday’s game against Tottenham there will be increased police surveillance inside Stamford Bridge.

This surveillance will include more uniformed police officers in the ground. In particular the Matthew Harding Lower will see an increased police presence.

Anti-semitism is racist and anyone caught making anti-semitic chants will be banned from Stamford Bridge for life and if there is sufficient evidence will be subject to a criminal prosecution.

It is not an excuse to chant anti-semitic abuse because opposition supporters use particular words as a form of identity.

If anyone hears racist chants of any sort during the match it should be reported to a police officer or steward or after the game you can ring Chelsea on 020 7915 1919, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or Kick It Out on 0800 1699 414. During the game you can text an incident to 07894 937 793.

Please try and note the stand, row and seat number of the culprit as well as their physical appearance, height and build.

Failing that, you could forward this snapshot.

08.30.08

A Bad First Gig

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 9:20 pm by

What Texas managed to avoid last year, Mike Sherman’s Aggies couldn’t: Arkansas State 18, Texas A&M 14. Even sadder than the loss, I think, is that this final didn’t even rate an update on the night’s primary Big 12 broadcast (in which Missouri leads the Illini 31-13 at halftime).

Another interesting Big 12 game: they’re not likely to lose, but trendy South division contender Texas Tech‘s allegedly improved defense has given up too many points to Eastern Washington after a 20-0 early lead. It’s 42-24 Red Raiders in the final quarter there; Graham Harrell has passed for 508 yards.

Some people say his stats are swollen by Mike Leach’s system, but they’re also swollen by the Raiders’ inability to bottle up the other team–in a game that’s 52-10 (the current score in Austin) or 50-2 (the current score in Norman), Harrell isn’t playing anymore.

The Big Ten’s Broadcast Strategy Still Sucks

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, Sports TV at 6:21 pm by

Penn State 66, Coastal Carolina 10. I’m more delighted than I should be by this. If you are going to play one of these moneymakers, it damn well better be a blow-out, and a showcase for your three-deep roster (amidst the Clark and Devlin QB controversy, Joe Pa’s been insisting all along that he would get Paul Ciancalo reps).

A lot of times the Nittany Lions go into a game like this as 35-point favorites, then can’t cover once the passing stops. With 334 yards and 7 touchdowns rushing (two of them by players I have never heard of) that was not an issue in this contest, which also had no line (those Vegas guys are generally right). 13 Penn State players also caught a pass, so I think they’ll be ok without Chris Bell.

Not that I saw a minute of it. Last year, I spent two Saturdays housesitting for a friend who had DirecTV. My local Comcast franchise added the Big 10 Network a few days ago, albeit not in HD, nor with any overflow for extra games. Living as I do in Oregon, I don’t really expect them to devote four channels of space to today’s pallid conference schedule. The most appealing early game (go Wildcats!) was on ESPN2 and Ohio State-Youngstown State was certainly the best choice as the BTN’s main tilt.

But back in the old days an out-of-market fan like me would pick up PSU-Coastal Carolina, Indiana-Western Kentucky and Wisconsin-Akron on ESPN Game Plan. And while they say the Big 10 has evolved to where the fullback dive is no longer a cutting edge offensive play, apparently they haven’t heard that you can stream games on the Internet. I mean, seriously: take my money! I didn’t care enough to hit a bar at 9am (and probably wouldn’t have at noon) but would have gladly paid ten bucks to watch this scrimmage on the same remarkable device that I already use for nearly every Phillies game.

With the win, Joe Paterno is once again tied with Bobby Bowden as the all-time D-I coaching leader (never mind that I’m one of those biased PSU fans who still doesn’t understand why Bobby’s games at Sanford get included). At one point Bowden had an eight game lead, and it’s not like Penn State has been great the past five years. Just better than FSU I guess. Right now the difference is the ’06 Orange Bowl; it would certainly be fitting if they played again to end the current season (and then, of course, retired). That can only happen if both teams get in the BCS, or drop down to the Champ Sports Bowl.

Meanwhile, in a game that wasn’t close for a good chunk of the second half–not sure I’d say it was an upset–Utah knocked off Michigan at home, 25-23. And while GC enjoys the night at Royal-Memorial, it looks like Portland State is gonna get a win just two blocks from my house. One of these days I might even go watch them (though I’m currently more interested in a Montana-Montana State ticket).

Baseball’s Best Mascot (Self-Proclaimed) Declares “We’re No. 1″

Posted in Baseball at 4:49 pm by

The above Zapruder-esque video was shot several weeks before a 9th inning Carlos Beltran grand salami off Florida’s Kevin Gregg gave the New York Mets a two game lead in the NL East.  But given that I was cranky enough to ponder whether Carlos B. and pals were “Gutless Pussies or Amazin’ Paragons Of Bouncebackablity”, at the very least, I should acknowledge their awesome flair for the dramatic.

The bullpen has a flair for the dramatic, too, sadly.  Metsmonkeys points to the likelihood of Al Reyes being the next hurler to accept the poisoned chalice of Mets closer. Though I’m not optmistic, perhaps the Elias Koteas Sports Bureau knows of the last time a club had three guys names Reyes on their big league roster.  With a September 1 callup of utility man Ron Reyes, they could make it a quartet.

CFB Week 1 : Hoakies Are ’08′s First Upset Victims

Posted in Gridiron at 4:28 pm by

“It was ironic that Virginia Tech, a team that is known for its special teams that had made several key special teams plays during the game, would lose on a blocked kick” writes ESPN’s Graham Watson of East Carolina’s 27-20 stunner over VT earlier today. And while T.J. Lee’s spectacular block of a Brent Bowden punt in the 4th quarter was undoubtedly the highlight of the early afternoon games, the Sporting Blog‘s Tom Ziller correctly points out the Pirates wouldn’t have been in a position to win were it not for the poor play of Hoakies QB Sean Glennon (14 for 23, 2 interceptions).

At this point, Frank Beamer would seem to have no choice but to renege Tyrod Taylor‘s red-shirt status. It’s the worst of both worlds: you lose the benefits of that extra year of eligibility, you lose what should have been a fairly sure W, and you lose any confidence your second-best QB (Glennon) had.

Beamer is all about high-risk, high-reward football. It was surely a risky gambit to sit Taylor. It took only one week to blow up spectacularly.

Between this evening’s Florida Atlantic/Texas tilt and Day 2 of the Wild Weekend Power Pop Fest, I might be out of blogtastic commission until tomorrow morning. Of the former, FAU coach Howard Schellenbger has described the Longhorns as a bunch of softies, and while some might consider this to be bulletin board material, I can’t get too worked up over the senile ramblings of a Howard Keel tribute act.

The Kris Benson Era Ends in Allentown

Posted in Baseball at 4:19 pm by

Todd Zolecki declines to speculate, probably ’cause he’s too busy watching the 1-1 tie at Wrigley Field, but it seems pretty clear cut to me. Kris Benson (above, right) could have left the Phillies any time he wanted, since his original minor league deal said that they had to call him up by May. Injuries and poor performance slowed that clock considerably, though he’d begun to have his moments since the All-Star break.

This gives him a chance, however slim, of joining another team before the playoff roster freeze, or, barring that, a September major league audition with a non-contending team. He could have joined the Phillies for the stretch run, but only in relief. And hey, they gotta save some of those valuable garbage innings for Adam Eaton.