There’s a great scene in an old episode of Sky’s wretched footie soap “Dream Team” in which one of Harchester United’s soon-to-be WAG-humping pretty boys dogs it during training because Saturday’s match “is only against Charlton”.
“YOU WILL SHOW ALAN CURBISHLEY PROPER RESPECT!” bellowed a deeply offended Ian Dowie-type, whom would probably have gone totally apeshit had he witnessed scenes at Upton Park Wednesday night, in which Curbs’ West Ham had a tough time with Macclesfield in a Worthless Cup early-rounder. Observing home supporters tear into their manager, the Guardian’s Rob Smyth surmises, “he is everything West Ham fans aren’t – undemonstrative, equable, impassive – and, as with Sam Allardyce at Newcastle, they never warmed to him from the start.”
As well as being obviously counter-productive, booing your own team shows an utter lack of class and cool. But this mob rule is increasingly prevalent in football and, while the Proper Fan tries to blame it on the admittedly lamentable post-Italia 90 brigade of supporter, it is clearly not as simple as that. Let he who has never tasted a prawn sandwich cast the first stone.
That Curbishley is under such pressure is a reflection of a game that has lost all perspective. Curbishley, after all, is a man who has won two of his three games this season (and whose side were drawing 0-0 when they were reduced to 10 men), having finished in the top half last season. In short, he has done OK: 6/10 maybe. Factor in an injury list that verges on the macabre and a significant reduction in the funding promised when he took over and it’s nearer 7/10.
In the past you had to be on the useless side of mediocre to get the sack. English people laughed at how those crazy Italians turned over managers like a lothario does partners. You can get sacked – sorry, you can agree to leave by mutual consent – for anything these days. On occasion it can be justified, if there is an upgrade as obvious as Juande Ramos for Martin Jol or a manager as palpably out of his element as Sammy Lee, but for the most part it is the product of English football’s increasingly ruinous obsession with the grass on the other side.
Congratulations to the former Pacman Jones on his full reinstatement to the NFL earlier today, Commissioner Roger Goodell having previously sat the former Titans CB/kick returner down for the whole of the 2007 season. For those keeping score, Jones’ league suspensions now outnumber his criminal convictions, 1-0.
Kudos are also due Cowboys owner Joan Rivers Jerry Jones, who has proven to be the greatest motivator/rehabilitator of troubled young men since Father Bruce Ritter.
You never realize what a great big country we all live in until you drop an East Coast sports writer into the Midwest. Case in point, the Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski, who manages in the space of one day’s work to reveal his astonishment that a) ranyone could hate the Cubs (at least for the new “Cubs Hate America” campaign), b) that a post-steroid Yankees = the 1919-2005 White Sox (sic), or c) his further astonishment that a good but not “scary good” team like the Angels (also not from New York) can take a division where they only face three teams, none of which play .500 ball. Of course, Posnanski is still under the impression that Lou Piniella is a “ferocious” manager. And while there is some reason to “hate” the Tribune Co., one thing you can say in their defense, they never gave Jay Mariotti a home for 17 years. Now that Joe Pos resides professionally at the KC Star, he can tell you:
Seriously, how could you not love the Chicago Cubs?
Well, as it turns out, there are a lot of ways. You could grow up on the Southside of Chicago, where Cubs fans are viewed as a whole tribe of spoiled Ferris Buellers. You could be a St. Louis Cardinals fan raised to believe the Cubs are only cute and cuddly to the people who see them from afar. You could be from the greater Milwaukee area, only two hours north of Chicago, where maybe you have had the whole lovable Cubs thing rammed down your throat all your life to the point of bursting.
The shocking thing isn’t that these people don’t love the Cubs — it is that their hatred can border on pathological. I have in completely random ways met three people — THREE — who still feel frightening hostility toward Ryne Sandberg. I mean, seriously, Ryne Sandberg. The guy retired more than 10 years ago and, from afar, he never seemed like an especially disagreeable or threatening player. But one friend from St. Louis told me she doesn’t believe in the devil, “except, of course, Ryne Sandberg.”
This is all relevant right now because something unusual is happening in baseball. There’s a chance that for the first time since Bill Clinton told military personnel not to ask and not to tell, we might have a postseason without the usual villains. Yes, times are tough these days in Boston and New York. The Yankees and Red Sox are playing their final series ever at beloved Yankee Stadium*, and all that is at stake is a place closer to the exhaust of the Tampa Bay Rays and a little better standing in the wild-card battle with the Minnesota Twins. The Bronx bursts with excitement.
*Officially declared “beloved” when New Yorkers realized how much tickets would cost at the new place next year.
With apologies to SSD for the above title, Blazers F Channing Frye writes, “So, after living for a year in my house, I™m tired of my bare, white walls and am ready to get some great local artwork. Does anyone have any recommendations? Feel free to post pictures of what some local artists do or send links/information so I can go check out their stuff myself and can complete the feng shui¦”
Of course, these are the Schizo Mets we’re talking about. And with all due respect to the Phillies’ penchant for taking a punch in the teeth Tuesday and coming back strong — with 10 innings of shutout relief work, no less, before Scott Schoeneweis nearly walked Brett Fucking Myers to end the game — the Mets proved Wednesday evening that they too, have some Chuck Wepner tendencies deep-down-inside (aside from serving as punching bags and bleeding profusely).
Skipper Jerry Manuel, also given to lame boxing analogies, described the 6-3 comeback victory as akin to “throwing a roundhouse left”, and the southpaws in this case would be Carlos Delgado (HR’s no. 29 and 30, 3 RBI’s) and Daniel (Ballgame) Murphy, whose 2-run double off Brad Lidge in the 8th broke a 3-3 deadlock. But no small tribute oughta be aimed at the embattled (sufficient code for “godawful”) Mets relief corps, the unlikely quartet of Stokes, Feliciano, Smith and Ayala combining to throw three scoreless innings of relief after it looked as Johan Santana (106 pitches, 6 IP, 3 runs, 5 hits, 6 K’s, HR’s allowed to Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth) would once again be penalized for anything less than perfection.
Will the real Mets please stand up? Chances are, after 104 games, we have a pretty good idea of their deep flaws, but we’re also left to marvel at Delgado’s career revival.. or David Wright’s knack for throwing out a runner at first while falling backwards towards the left-field line box seats. It’s not as though this crop of Metropolitans has denied us acts of heroism, but all too often, said performances have occured slightly before or after a meltdown achingly similar to Tuesday’s capitulation.
When CSTB first sent me this clip, I thought it was Ozzie Guillien spinning his rap career into a post-season WWE tour. Nope, it’s an episode of “Santino’s casa,” in which the WWE’s Santino Marella trash-talks the Cubs to Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster. Casa, a comedy heel, currently holds the Inter-Continental Championship Belt courtesy of lady wrestler Beth Phoenix, aka The Glamazon, who wins matches for him. The ironic career parallels of Marella and Howry never seems to dawn on Home-Run Bob, even whle standing next to Dempster. Anyway, I congratulate Howry on topping Marsella at his own game, and in his future career as the new Bobby Heenan. Speaking of new careers …
In a week when the Cardinals publicly forfeit the season, the Cubs sweep the Pirates on the road, when Mark DeRosa reveals he’s a fantasy football nerd who plays four different on-line leagues (you’re living the fantasy dude! You have groupies and free beer anywhere in Chicago! Get off the fucking computer!), and the Trib Co narrows Cub bidders down to five possible captains of industry “ the real news is this just may be my last Cubs Mailbag here at CSTB. And I don’t think I’m announcing this prematurely at all “ but I’ve e-mailed the Sun-Times as to my availability for Jay Mariotti’s job. If Mariotti wants on the internet so bad “ and he’s apparently the one writer in the world who can’t figure out how to get on the Internet “ then the mailbag awaits you, sir. Since he has no job and God knows how much income-producing hours I’ve wasted here … well, Rog, he’s all yours.
As to this week’s mailbag, sadly, the Cubs’ status as the best team in baseball and #1 in the NL Central since John McCain first joined the Navy to shell Vera Cruz has not attracted a better class of fan. No, were Carre Muskat not the last staff writer still on the Tribune payroll (sorry you had to give up your health care, kid!) she would most likely answer these questions a bit more honestly than her job description allows. Thus, I am happy to help out, via the future of sports journalism, the Internet. Time to roll up my sleeves for the last time …
Steve W., Louisville, Ky.: How much longer is manager Lou Piniella willing to give Fukudome to get his offense going before he opts to replace him in right field? ¦ I used to be optimistic when Fukudome came to the plate, now I’m not.
Steve, time to get optimistic again. Fukodome hit what Lou would call a œnice pinch-hit home run last Sunday against the Nationals. In a closed door meeting with Lou last week, just the two of them, no interpreters or Japanese speaking lawyers allowed, Lou explained that Fukodome™s work visa specifically includes a contractual option to serve with the Illinois National Guard in Baghdad should his average fall below .275. Lou is known among players as a motivator.
Scott P., Trevor, Wis. I understand that the Cubs do not have a clear MVP candidate who stands out, stats-wise. I believe it’s Geovany Soto. He is a rookie catcher who has led a pitching staff to the second-best ERA in the National League, has hit consistently all season long and is a catcher who rarely takes a day off.
Scott, Scott, Scott “ getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren™t we? As post-season vets like Jim Edmonds and Lou Piniella point out, none of that is an issue until the Cubs gets some things done. Currently, the team is evaluating parade routes so as not to collide with Obama™s homecoming inaugural when he wins the White House. World Series rings have to be sized, Bob Howry™s World Series share to be disputed, and allotting team bats to world leaders now asking that the national museums of their homelands each get one ¦ well, MVP awards will have to wait until the first week of September, is all I™m saying.
Javi T., San Juan, Puerto Rico: Looking at Minor League stats, I’ve seen Jason Dubois tearing it up in Triple-A. Is there any chance we might see him with the big league club this year, and if so, in what role?
Good question, Javi. The big team indeed wants Monsieur Dubois in Chicago, as mlb sees him as the great Gallic hope in bringing French players back into the game. Like the RBI program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), MLB™s RBIF program searches for today™s Lajoies, Durochers, and Lefebvres, as Eric Gagne has driven far too many of his young countrymen to misguided Savate attempts in the UFC. Jason Dubois carries the hopes of the free French world on his shoulders.
Conor M., Glenview, Ill.: Now that the Cubs are flirting with the best record in baseball, it makes me wonder about the significance. How have teams with the best record in previous seasons fared in the playoffs?
Let me put it to you this way, Conor “ the very idea of the Cubs as œbest team in baseball in the post-season means history is hardly your best guide. You would fare better studying Casey Kasem™s all-time most requested song lists or Keith Olbermann’s primary guesses. You may as well ask, “Traditionally, how have African-American presidents fared in their second terms versus white Presidents?”
Ken B., Montgomery, Ill.: If a pinch-hitter bats twice in one inning, does he have to go into the game?
Ken, if your pinch hitter hits twice in the same inning, you’re hardly in a œpinch anymore, right? Gotta think these things though, pal.
Todd D., Chicago: My brother and I are trying to research the Cubs uniforms. From 1997-present, the uniforms have pretty much stayed the same. There was an era between 1984-93 when the Cubs wore the pullover jersey. The uniform we are trying to find is the one with the cursive Cubs logo on the chest that was worn sometime between 1994-96. We have found baseball cards during that time frame, but we can’t confirm that it was worn. It almost seems like a conspiracy to hide those uniforms. I have also heard rumors that they got rid of the cursive Cubs logo because it looked too much like the word “Cuba” on their chest. Please confirm that the uniforms did in fact exist and the time frame in which they were worn. I have been trying to find one to purchase, but it is nearly impossible.
Yes, Todd, there’s a “conspiracy.” Mailbag is already working on the definitive Cub Uniform History, and we™re telling you now, back off. Mailbag bought up all 1994-96 uniforms and you will NEVER get a decent photo of one for your œresearch. You are so wrong on the pullover theory it™s laughable. The fact that you are using baseball cards and consulting on-line mailbags to complete your work tells me you and your brother are imbeciles. I already have the whole œCuba scandal, the Ernie Banks/Billy Williams sock trade, and Shawn Dunston cup scandal completely locked down. The subject is owned completely by me, and that includes my concurrent history of Cub shoes, œLaces High.
Ed K., Clinton, Iowa : Watching the Little League World Series, I couldn’t help by wonder if Mike Fontenot is related to Kennon Fontenot of the Lake Charles, La., team?
Underage Chinese gymnasts might scandalize the Olympics, but under baseball™s œspecial agreement with the Federal government “ which guarantees a 19th century monopoly to MLB “ baseball is also able to take advantage of 19th century child labor laws. Mike™s ready for the big leagues, but Kennon needs a little work. The Cubs set him a 15-hour a day schedule, two meals a day (except Sundays when he does yard work for extra cash and pays for his own meals).
Chris A., Gladstone, Mich.: I saw an article about Matt Cerda being the last guy struck out by Danny Almonte in the 2001 Little League World Series and that the Cubs drafted Cerda. I’m curious about how he’s doing with the Cubs.
The Cubs are always looking for guys who can strike out, Chris. Cerda, another underage œstar of tomorrow,” plays for the Cubs’ in Mesa, Ariz. When Rich Hill visited Mesa this summer, he bought beer for Cerda who turned 14 in July … unless the Arizona stores Cerda hits are on the McCain family beer runs, in which case Trib influence in the GOP keeps Cerda™s locker well-stocked.
Charlie P., New Johnsonville, Tenn.: Who was the last switch-hitter for the Cubs to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning? I say it was Mark Bellhorn, but a buddy of mine says no Cubs switch-hitter has ever done that. A free dinner rides on the answer.
Mailbag never answers personal questions about player œpreferences, and your turning legit baseball slang into gay subculture innuendo (“Bellhorn?”) is inappropriate for the Cub mailbag™s underage readers “ who should get back to work, anyway.
Ryan D., Springfield, Ill.: I have to correct you on Greg Maddux’s wins with the Cubs. He has won 133, not 178. I had to look it up because I knew he couldn’t have won a majority of his games with the Cubs.
Ryan œD– as in Ryan Dempster? What a surprise. Correct Ryan, Greg Maddux wasn™t, as you like to say, œall that as a Cub, and you are still the fans™ all-time favorite. Thanks for e-mailing “ again. Your helpful “suggestions” on rounding down tenths of a point (instead of rounding up) when citing Carlos Zambrano™s innings pitched, Kerry Wood™s fastball averaging 93.5 and not 93.7 mph as I have stated, or mentioning in this space that Carlos Marmol was an œall-star without mentioning that he was an œall-star substitute for an injured Kerry Wood, have all been duly noted. I have also made this clear to your agent, at your request. And please stop going over my head to Sam Zell, who has a lot more on his mind right now than getting me to mention your stake in that Chevy dealership in Downers Grove.
It really was a wacky little game in Philadelphia on Tuesday, though it seems the lot of us at CSTB were too busy/drunk/depressed/euphoric to recap.
By far the most interesting moment IMO was when Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz ended up at third in the ninth inning–that is to say, as the third baseman–putting 13th-inning hero Chris Coste behind the plate, and saving Eric Bruntlett for his bottom-of-the-ninth game-tying hit.
1) Kyle Kendrick threw about 40 pitches while warming up in the bullpen last night. Charlie Manuel was all set to bring him in had Chris Coste not won the game with a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the 13th. Rudy Seanez could not pitch more than an inning, Manuel said. It did not come to that, and both Kendrick and Manuel said the young righthander should not be impacted at all when he starts tonight against Johan Santana. I’d expect the Phillies to bring up another arm anyway. Maybe. . .
2) As Kendrick was warming in the bullpen last night, I was cruising MinorLeagueBaseball.com trying to figure out who the Phillies would end up starting tonight if Kendrick got into the game. J.A. Happ started last night, Carlos Carrasco started recently, as did minor league veteran Brian Mazone. The two options I came up with? Andrew Carpenter, who pitched well in his lone spring training appearance and has seemed revitalized since returning to Double A from a brief demotion.
By the way, while I would not exactly put that game on Pedro (if nothing else, he outpitched Moyer), it was certainly unsporting of him to go blame his lousy final inning on “this band box.” Right, it was the stadium that gave up a lead-off double to Clay Condrey (his first hit since 2003!).
Besides, the thoughtful folks at PhilliesPhans.com note that according to ESPN’s “park factor” ratings, the oft-maligned Citizen’s Bank Park has been middle-of-the-road for offense this year (and less of a factor than its reputation every year except its first).
He’s come back nicely from a brutal year of a few years ago to reestablish himself as a pretty good offensive player. He’s had a lot of big hits this year. Of course, many of them have come in Citizen’s Bank Jokeyard.
Burrell’s stats as of yesterday (also pointed out initially at PhilliesPhans, and, since he was an uncharacteristic 0 for 7 in the game, still relevant today):
SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel doesn’t figure that the Oklahoma State head coach (and play-caller) has actually matured.
…there are two reasons I’m not giving much consideration to the Cowboys. For one, their defense last year was every bit as awful as their offense was spectacular, ranking 112th nationally against the pass and 101st overall. But mostly, there’s the inescapable reality is [sic] that their head coach, Mike Gundy, is a complete clown.
I know what you’re going to say. I’m only ripping Gundy because of his infamous “I’m a Man!” tirade last year. … Well, yeah. Whether or not you agreed with the content, I can’t imagine anyone who watched that charade — which I presume is all of you — came away from it thinking: “That’s a guy I’d want leading my team.” (Unless, of course, your team at the time was coached by Bill Callahan or Karl Dorrell.) Gundy is certifiably nuts. He’s like the Ed Orgeron of the Big 12. And he’s got a 18-19 record to his name. What possible evidence is there to suggest that one of his teams should ever be taken seriously?
(above – composers of the new “SportsCenter” theme music)
Persons who might have a problem with the LPGA’s new policy requiring it’s golfers to learn English or face suspension are in the words of ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd, “ascot-wearing, dot-EDU, America-haters.” To which I can only reply, Le Anne, bust out the whoopin’ stick. I realize Cowherd works within a very deliberate d-bag radio format and saying provocative shit is a big part of his job description. But that a major broadcaster — one owned by Disney, no less — would encourage this tired, sub-Ed Anger routine is a fucking embarrassment to everyone affiliated with the company. That Cowherd finds something sinister about multiculturalism is hardly out of character, but the popped-collar Archie Bunker spiel coupled with what can only be described as a phobia of those even slightly more intelligent than the morning mouthpiece, succeeds in tainting the entire ESPN operation. At least Wally George was funny.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported this morning that longtime columnist Jay Maritotti was leaving the paper “to pursue other opportunities.” Though there wouldn’t seem to be an unlimited number of opportunities to make Rex Grossman cry or to goad Ozzie Guillen into calling Jay a fag (professionally, anyway), wherever it happens next will probably be online Mariotti tells the Chicago Tribune’s Jim Kirk (links courtesy Jason Cohen).
Just back from Beijing where he wrote about the Summer Olympics, Mariotti said in a phone interview Tuesday night that he decided to quit after it became clear while in China that sports journalism had become “entirely a Web site business. There were not many newspapers there.” He added that most of the journalists covering the Games were “there writing for Web sites.”
He said that he “is talking with a lot of Web sites” and added that the future of his business “sadly is not in newspapers.” Mariotti said that he sent a resignation letter to Cyrus Freidheim, Sun-Times Media Group Chief Executive and Sun-Times Publisher. When asked via email by the Tribune whether Mariotti had resigned, Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke responded, “You’re kidding?”
“I’m a competitor and I get the sense this marketplace doesn’t compete,” Mariotti said. “Everyone is hanging on for dear life at both papers. I think probably the days of high stakes competition in Chicago are over.
“To see what’s happened in this business…I don’t want to go down with it.”
(Washington skipper Manny Acta shows great patience with broadcaster Charlie Slowes’ suggestion that playing Lasting Milledge’s mixtape diss of Billy Wagner might boost ratings)
Tony Kornheiser‘s least favorite Washington Post colleague Paul Farhi reports the Nationals radio broadcasts are being heard by fewer persons than those paying to attend Nats games. That there’s more than a handful of either group given the club being nearly 30 games out of first place, is remarkable enough, but the failure of anyone at WWWT to blame this on MLB Advanced Media seems like a missed opportunity (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory).
The team’s broadcasts on the station formerly known as WWWT (107.7 FM and 1500 AM) attracted a cumulative weekly audience of about 26,500 from May through July, the most recent period measured by Arbitron.
The Nationals’ following on radio isn’t even in the same league as teams with similar records, even those in metropolitan areas with far fewer people than Washington.
The Seattle Mariners, for example, had won just two more games than the 46-85 Nationals as of Sunday. But the Mariners attracted 133,000 listeners per week, or about 26,000 per weekday game, through July.
The Nationals have a generally admired pair of announcers — Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler — and have two of the most powerful radio frequencies in the Washington area. One of the stations, 1500 AM, has a signal that can be heard as far away as Florida at night. The static-free FM station blankets much of the metropolitan area.
The stations themselves, however, have been beset by low ratings for some time, which has limited their ability to reach a wide audience and promote the games.
Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming for Bonville International, the company that owns the stations that carry the Nats games says the team’s poor record alone doesn’t explain the results. “There’s no storyline for this season,” he says. “Who’s the hero? Who’s the big star? Even the [famously terrible] ’62 Mets had Marv Throneberry. The Nats don’t have a character like that. Night after night, the most interesting thing to talk about is that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t win [the mascot race] again.”
Wow. Harsh enough that Jim Bowden is the subject of a criminal investigation. Now he has to apologize to a radio station for dumping Paulie Go Nuts.
Who’d have ever imagined Bobby Bonilla would have a 2nd tour of duty with the New York Mets? If that particular pig could fly, why not bring back the just-waived Kenny Rogers to take John Maine’s spot in the starting rotation?
Consider all the positives : he’s experienced postgame pressure (ball four!), knows how to handle the media (see above) and given his prior experience at Shea Stadium, already knows the quickest way to escape the clubhouse after a loss. He’s exactly the sort of strong veteran presence someone like Jon Niese can learn from. That is, if Niese isn’t traded to obtain Kenny Rogers.
The Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano leads the tributes to Jets owner Woody Johnson, who apparently deserves some sort of award for gouging only the wealthiest of Gang Green’s fans.
The Jets rolled out their PSL plan today and while the top seats are a little more expensive ($25,000), the upper deck seats are PSL-free. The Jets said all 27,000 seats in the upper bowl of the new stadium will not include a Personal Seat License charge.
The lower bowl seats will have PSLs ranging from $4,000 to $20,000 and club seats will have PSLs ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
I™m floored by that, actually. I really thought the Jets were going to hit the fans even harder than the Giants did. But Jets owner Woody Johnson said œWe listened to our fans in designing this plan.
‘Tis not my place to tell others how to spend their discretionary income, but I’d think for $4,000.00 you could pay Mark Gastineau to beat up and/or stalk a co-worker.
According to The News Guard, Duckworth visited Lincoln City to host a free basketball clinic for kids. He also was there to visit fans as part of the Trail Blazers “Make It Better” tour of the state.
“Kevin will be remembered by fans as one of the most popular and recognizable players to ever wear the Blazers uniform, but to people who knew him, he’ll be remembered as one of the warmest and biggest- hearted,” said Blazers President Larry Miller.
The 7-foot player was known as “Duck.” He also played for San Antonio, Washington, Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Clippers during his 11-year NBA career. A second- round draft pick of the San Antonio Spurs out of Eastern Illinois University in 1986, Duckworth was only 14 games into his NBA career when he was acquired by the Trail Blazers from San Antonio in exchange for Walter Berry.
I’m not gonna speculate as to the cause of death except to say that even at his (increased) post-playing career weight, I didn’t think Duckworth was a candidate to shuffle off this mortal coil before Walter Berry. Duckworth was a more than capable center his first few seasons for the Blazers, who were damn lucky to have him given the fragility of Sam Bowie.
Who he’d root for in a Cubs-Sox World Series: “Oh, that’s easy. White Sox. . . . You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious.White Sox, that’s baseball. South Side.”
No word yet on whether Senator John McCain has been informed of the existence of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nothing like a little bit of local news fluff to distract from the sheer horror of John Maine going on the disabled list. The New York Post reports Brian Stokes will likely assume Maine’s spot in the rotation, while Jon Niese could potentially be called upon to make his major league debut after September 1.
Could there be any greater testament to the plummeting fortunes of Melky Cabrera than the McFarlane Toy Co. scrapping plans to manufacture a Melky Doll? If it’s any consolation, I believe the Jeff Francoeur action figures have also been shelved for the time being. Though if McFarlane wish to flog a hotly coveted collectable, they could do worse than license the rights to the Geege plushy from Merle Allin.
Considering James Dolan managed to find fault with Marv Albert, can anyone be surprised the Knicks have yet to retain the services of currently-out-of-contract radio voice Gus Johnson? The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman claims MSG’s Mike Bair and Lydia Murphy-Stephens are “playing hardball” with the melodramatic mouthpiece.
Would these two be bubbleheaded enough not to ink Johnson? The Excitable One has spent 10 seasons as part of MSG’s Knicks radio team – the past five as the Knicks’ No. 1 radiocaster, working with veteran analyst John (Legend) Andariese.
The fact that it’s almost September and MSG has not come to terms with Johnson is a tad strange. Especially considering what’s taking place on the court.
With Mike D’Antoni in place as coach, and Donnie Walsh now the brains of the organization, the fog on 33rd St. has a chance of lifting. The Garden will be selling optimism. It better if it wants anyone to purchase overpriced tickets.
Did Johnson cut Isiah Thomas major slack and spread MSGulag party propaganda? Yep. He, along with all the other MSG Knicks voices who joined him, have been ripped to shreds in this space. A new day may be dawning.
Johnson took the heat. He has thick skin and a unique style. His calls are full of over-the-top passion. The man has a following.
Perhaps this has actually dawned on Bair and Murphy-Stephans. But who knows what these two are thinking? After all, their regime has not made anyone forget about those grand days when MSG was the Rolls-Royce of regional cable sports networks.
(sure, he’s come up with some horrifying imagery, but even Dean Koontz is taken aback by David Weathers in a towel)
Along with losing the services of Johnny Cueto yesterday (hands up, everyone who thought a young Reds pitcher would hit the DL without Dusty being responsible), the Reds lost to the Rockies, 4-3 in a twelve inning affair that had the Dayton Daily News’ Hal McCoy in serious overdrive. Though said loss was dubbed “an almost indescribable game”, McCoy tried awfully hard just the same, calling the defeat, “the Reds falling out of an ugly tree and hitting every branch on the way to the ground” while proclaiming “the videotape is going to Cooperstown as one of the five worst professional baseball games ever played.”
The Reds made as many errors (five) as they had hits (five), they struck out 14 times. They walked nine Rockies, threw two wild pitches, committed a balk, perpetrated a passed ball and Corey Patterson made his daily baserunning blunder by getting picked off base.
Colorado stranded 18 and was 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position. Sound familiar? One difference. The Rockies won.
The game details are right out of a Dean Koontz novel. Scary.
Hey, he could’ve said “predictable”, too. Then again, when I consider the sort of abuse inflicted on Mets fans by the team’s chronically ineffective bullpen, the writings of Andrew Vachss routinely come to mind.
Down by one run in the ninth inning, looking squarely at the ugly specter of being swept at home by Tampa Bay, the White Sox faced a stark choice between right and wrong.
Wrong did pretty good.
A Ken Griffey Jr. one-out double in the ninth set up the morality play. Ozzie pinch-ran Brian Anderson for Junior and Paul Konerko came up to bat. With Anderson’s speed against Tampa’s characteristically shallow-set outfield, it would take a long fly in left to justify sending the tying run home from third.
So when after a 3-2 battle, pinch-hitting Paulie sent a clutch two-hopper single off of Wheeler to Ben Zobrist in short left, all eyes moved to 3B coach Jeff Cox to be the voice of reason and hold Anderson in the face of the well-handled grounder.
But Cox had other ideas.
When an older family member exhibits degenerate gambling tendencies, tragedy usually follows. Concerned about familial assets ending up in a riverboat’s coffers, sons and daughters often stage awkward interventions to stave off disaster. The sellout US Cellular crowd was no exception, blurting a desperate chord of panic at Cox’s posture as Zobrist set up. With all the terrifying certainty of a tipsy uncle doubling down on twelve, the windmilling Cox sent Anderson home in a dazzling display of pure, unadulterated Wrong.
That Crawford’s throw beat Anderson home by twenty feet was certain. It was also certain that Tampa Catcher Shawn Riggans needed at least ten more to herd in the rolling cowhide. Riggans lost the ball so badly and whiffed so completely he made no tag attempt, allowing Anderson to tie the game at 5. Thus did Wrong become Right, and not for the last time that hour.
In the tenth, after reaching first and capitalizing on an undermotivated BJ Upton’s center-field gaffe, AJ Pierzynski stood on second. Upton had made an overhead catch of a Carlos Quentin deep fly ball, but dogged it for four steps before his throw, giving AJ the space to advance.
Possibly distracted by his good fortune, AJ then made a rare basepath mistake, jumping off of second on a Jermaine Dye grounder to short to find himself in a rundown.
Incredibly, on his third double-back, Pierzynski managed to: touch Ayala with an outstreched forearm, tumble to the ground, appeal for an interference call, and get it. That umpire Doug Eddings, he of the famous dropped-third strike non-call in the ’05 Angels ALCS was on duty at second — and had again sided with AJ was the backbreaker for the Rays. Tampa skipper Joe Maddon’s vigorous protest held no sway and Pierzynski was awarded third base along with a daytime Emmy in a brief ceremony.
After that it was mere procedural anticlimax when Alexei Ramirez sent a fly ball to empty right over a five-man infield to score AJ, rob the Rays of an away sweep and get the Pale Hose back into first place.
All of which means: if the Twins can play that far over their head, then surely these local offenses against the universe can be tolerated.
Actually, ’tis not the Association’s patriotism that’s in question, but rather their sense of history. The Indiana Pacers are playing an exhibition against the Hornets on October 8 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ Pepsi Coliseum, a venue that hosted 3 ABA titles for the Pacers. Indy Cornrows reports the NBA has quashed the Pacers’ plans to play the October 8 game using the ABA’s beloved red, white and blue ball.
On Friday, I heard Mark Boyle scoff at the denial as an NFL-like decision, similar to the uniform or celebration rules the No Fun League imposes to pasteurize their players. Couldn’t agree more. The ball can be an NBA regulation ball with all the appropriate logos. I’m sure the Simons would be happy to pay to have them made. Heck, they could probably end up selling them after the fact and make a nice profit.
There is, however, a chance the NBA’s decision has more to do with copyright considerations than anything else. Hopefully we can find out for certain when and if the ABA’s website is running again.
When Bobby Bonilla famously offered to show Bob Klapsich (above, middle) the Bronx, it wasn’t because the latter had any difficulty seeing it for himself. But since last July’s terrifying eye injury suffered in an Over 40 league contest, amateur pitcher/professional baseball scribe Klapisch has been left to ponder how “control of the ball – and with it, the at-bat, the game, sometimes even your life – ends the moment it leaves a pitcher’s fingertips.” From Sunday’s Bergen Record (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
I learned this hard lesson July 10 at Smith Field in Parsippany, when the curveball I threw not only froze in the middle of the strike zone, it turned into a missile searing toward my skull. Thanks to a combination of topspin off the hitter’s bat, and a rock near the mound, a last-second bad hop left me defenseless as the ball struck me in the eye.
The explosion in my head might as well have come from a 12-gauge shotgun; that’s how loud it was. The ball sliced open my cornea, completely detached my retina, ruptured several areas of the eye socket and broke nearly every bone on the right side of my face.
I remember drifting, floating – was I dying, I wondered? – then landing on the ground with a sick thud. I could feel the blood pouring out of my nose, my mouth and from the cut on my cheekbone, which had been split in half.
“I can’t see, I can’t see,” is what I kept screaming before my words dissolved into a sound that can only be described as a rung lower than primal. One of my teammates, a Roxbury police officer, turned away in horror.
Though there’s some slight comic relief in the Bergen Record piece (a recollection of the day Al Leiter pulled a David Schultz and attempted to show the writer just how hard a big league pitcher can throw — good thing Tim Wakefield wasn’t eavesdropping), the good news is Klapisch might regain as much as 80 percent vision in his right eye, pending the outcome of further surgeries. Answering his own question of whether or not amateur ball was worth this kind of risk, Klapisch writes, “I pitched for the Mariners and Hackensack Troasts because it allowed me to respect major-leaguers in a way few other writers can.” While that’s noble enough, I’ll also bet that aside from being maimed, it was probably fun most of the time, too. If you’re wondering why a 51 year old man would willingly put himself in the line of fire, “because he can” isn’t a bad answer.