AL Central Tiebreaker Playoff: Danks Duels Blackburn

Posted in Baseball at 8:18 pm by

Bot 7: Twins 0 Sox 0.  Blackburn has a one-hitter going and Johnny Danks has a two-hitter.   I keep forgetting to breathe. Gentleman Jim Thome up…Sox 1B coach Harold Baines can’t hang with the pressure either, he’s in the hospital with an ulcerated stomach lining.. Thome takes Blackburn’s high sinker mistake DEEP to center! Sox 1 Twins 0…Konerko up…(best wishes, Harold)…Twins pen wakes up…Konerko 2-2..roller 4-3, 1 out…Junior up – DOUBLE off the wall…Brian Anderson pinchrunning, crowd going apeshit…Griffey gunned down Cuddyer at home on a popup to center back in the fifth, Pierzynski still has Cuddyer’s cleatmarks on his melon…the Cuban Missile has been rolled out to the plate…In the Twins dugout, Burl Ives takes one look at Slamirez, puts down his banjo and calls for the intentional walk…2 on 1 out and out comes Blackburn for LHP Jose Mijares…AJ Pierogi is at the bat…Mijeres not looking quite in control, got an east-west problem…2-1…bouncer to first, Anderson and Ramierz advance..Juan Uribe..2-0 dirtball…line drive to Delmon Young to end the inning.  Can one run hold this thing?  Danks is at 93 pitches and the pen’s at 6.12 ERA in September…the answer is…no.

Top 8th:  Danks is on the bump, one pitch, one out…2-2 to Harris…bouncer single to the left, and here’s Punto batting righty…Gardy pinchruns Matt Tolbert…Punto hits into a 6-4-3 TWIN KILLING!

Bot 8th:  OC the OG facing Mijeres..6-3 bouncer…Dewayne Wise squibs to deep short, two out…enter closer 1.34  39/45 Joe Nathan to face Jermaine…I thought he looked rattled in game one of the Minn series, and here, I’d prefer him to projectile-shit…LINE DRIVE to left!…Jim Thome up, desperately trying to figure out how to hit a solo home run with one man on…2-1 fastball..3-1…fly to Gomez, out of the inning.



The Fiver v. The Godfather

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 8:17 pm by

Former England manager Terry Venables aka “El Tel” aka “The Godfather of Football” aka “The Man Who Almost Led Crystal Palace Into Bankruptcy” takes a dim view of recent events at one of his old clubs, Tottenham Hotspur. The Guardian’s Scott Murray and Barry Glendenning have absorbed Venables’ most recent guest editorial for The Sun and surmise the gaffer-turned-pundit is “careering past satire and ending up quite some distance beyond it.”

When Terry Venables speaks, the world of football listens! And that’s no wonder, when you take his achievements into consideration. At Barcelona he spurned opportunities to sign Hugo Sanchez, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, instead building a team which lost home and away to Dundee United. At Spurs he scooped the 1991 FA Cup, pitting his managerial wits in the final against a man who had to be wheeled on to the Wembley turf in a large pickling jar. And he led the Sheilaroos to the prestigious 1st Oceania v 4th Asia play-off in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers, losing bravely to Iran on away goals. Equally effective was his financial nous, displayed in the boardrooms of Crystal Palace, Portsmouth and Tottenham, as he [REST OF PARAGRAPH DELETED BY FIVER LAWYERS, WHO THEN GIVE BENEFICIAL LEGAL ADVICE TO FIVER WITH THE AID OF A 12x2 PLANK OF WOOD WITH A BENT NAIL STICKING OUT OF ONE END]

So yes, when Venables speaks, the world of football listens! And today it hears that Spurs are presently in crisis because of “greed, mismanagement, egos and selfishness”, according to an opinion piece in The Sun by the man who missed the first game of his time in charge at Crystal Palace in 1998 because he was a bit tired after doing telly work at that summer’s World Cup, and missed his first game in charge of Leeds in 2002 because he was away filming a holiday programme.

“Bulgarian strike ace Berbatov,” he began – he always talks this formally, perhaps it’s a legacy of all that time spent in courtrooms – “kept telling us he had a dream. Well good for you Dimi! You had a dream with a few extra noughts added to your bank balance. But don’t you think Spurs had a dream too? Don’t you think that when they bought you and helped you blossom into one of the best strikers in the world, you had a duty to blah blether drone drone self-righteous drone.” It suddenly makes you feel glad you don’t subscribe to Setanta, doesn’t it.

Davis To Kiffin : Good Luck Suing The Undead

Posted in Gridiron at 8:02 pm by

Please, no Bobby Steele jokes. But never mind the plight of an Oakland franchise so dysfunctional, St. Louis seems Patriot-esque by comparison. No, the scariest thing about the above press conference is that when I flipped on the TV, I thought I was watching a Learning Channel special on what Mike Dunleavy will look like in a hundred years.

Mariners’ Howard Lincoln Has A Funny Way Of Accepting Responsibility

Posted in Baseball at 6:44 pm by

Oh, Jesus, what a fucking disaster area this is. And in case you’re wondering why the Seattle Mariners seem so broken and hopeless, you have two choices: 1. Keep wondering; or 2. Read this doozy of an interview with Good Ship Mariner CEO/Chairman Howard Lincoln (above, on the hot seat) as conducted by the usually wonderful Art Thiel of the Seattle PI.

As a long-suffering Mariner fan, almost every response provoked a full-body clenching, but please allow me copy/paste call this excerpt to your attention:

Q: No one could have anticipated the injuries to Erik Bedard, but how he related to teammates, manager and the club regarding himself and those injuries had to have been surprising. Did something get missed in the evaluation of his personality?

A: Because we were talking about such a big trade, a great deal of effort went into evaluating it. We talked to many who knew him on a day-to-day basis. With his record, he was one of the best MLB left-handed pitchers.

Certainly his personality was discussed. Whether his manner in dealing with the manager or media is a bit strange, if he had pitched up to expectations, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But he was injured. Fortunately, we found the injury wasn’t as serious. We hope he’ll be ready by spring training.

I was a little surprised by what I read in the paper, but no more than I am with peculiarities of some other players. There’s a wide variety of personalities.

This kind of thing comes to the fore when a team is losing. When a team is winning, you can have 25 psychopaths down there and nobody cares.

I think we did due diligence. In hindsight, was it good enough? Probably not. But his personality is not the key. The key is the injury. We better not evaluate this trade as a disaster until it plays itself out.

I don’t know who Lincoln means by WE, but I’ll go ahead and call it the worst trade since the 10 year old Heathcliff Slocumb for Derek Lowe/Jason Varitek deal. Also, regarding the bit about not caring (or noticing) psychopaths on a winning ballclub, I would hasten to remind Lincoln that a famous psychopath named Al Martin played for that Mariner squad that won a league record 116 games in 2001.

After throwing former Mariner GM Bill Bavasi under the bus for the 2008 meltdown, Mr. Lincoln admits that he serves at the pleasure of Mr. Hiroshi Yamauchi, Nintendo’s (former-ish) Chairman and President:

(Mr. Yamauchi, in four-headed form, stolen from 4colorrebellion.)

According to Lincoln, Yamauchi’s batting average in player/personnel matters is “1.000″ based on his involvement in the Kaz Sasaki, Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima deals.  By my math that seems about .333 too high.

The Stephon Marbury Revue : The Hottest Show In Greenburgh, NY

Posted in Basketball at 4:46 pm by

(geez, get a room!)

While the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola hopefully cites a William Wesley sighting as evidence the Knicks have a shot at LeBron James, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports James Dolan’s refusal to eat the remainder of  Stephon Marbury’s $22 million contract resulted in another fun-filled reminder of the point guard “draining the spirit of hope and change out of the room.” And this on the opening day of training camp, too.

Marbury has never been so defiant. He™s bragging about losing 25 pounds “ honoring Walsh™s instruction to get into the best shape of his life “ but it™s clear he™s as erratic as ever. In his annual YouTube summer moment with Bruce Beck recently, Marbury™s goofball performance left little doubt with NBA executives that he™s as unstable as ever. When he returned to talk again Monday, he declared that, œStephon Marbury TV.net is coming soon, where you can view all highlights, clips and in-depth interviews.

Just what the world had been waiting on: Starbury on an endless loop. Eventually, he was in constant contradiction with reality and himself. One moment, he insisted that he no longer cared what anyone said about him, that his spiritual awakening “ an annual epiphany “ made him œpray for those belittling his greatness. He cared so little, he called out one New York basketball writer, Newsday™s Ken Berger, for aptly describing Marbury as œtoxic in the paper this summer.

At the end of his session, Marbury climbed to his feet and wrapped a creeped-out Berger in the most inappropriate Knicks hug since Isiah and Anucha. Marbury kept saying, œI™m going to pray for you, in this strange, suffocating clench. And then, he left his teammates behind in the gym and walked toward a curtain patrician leaping into the air and pumping his fists to no one but himself. Once more, Marbury disappeared into his own world.

Knicks’ Top Pick On The Mets’ Sad End

Posted in Baseball, Basketball at 1:38 pm by

Knicks first-rounder Danilo Gallinari shares his thoughts on the Mets’ 08 finish (thanks to Repoz for the link), though it seems no one has told the rookie that in America, you’re allowed to visit the dentist in something other than a basketball jersey.

Blushing Dombrowski : “I’ve Had A Bad Year”

Posted in Baseball at 1:31 pm by

A diabolical April left the Tigers eating the rest of the AL Central’s dust, but to hear ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian tell the tale, ’twas mere motivation that was lacking in the Motown clubhouse.  “The Tigers will contend next season,” insisted Kurkjian this morning, “because Jim Leyland will insist on it.”  So there you have it folks, Detroit failed to play meaningful games this September because their veteran skipper FORGOT to insist they do so.  Jesus fucking christ.  Based on yesterday’s chat with the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, GM Dave Dombrokwski has a little more substance to draw upon when considering a rotten 2008.

“I’m embarrassed,” Dombrowski said before the Tigers-White Sox game, a makeup from an earlier rainout that needed to be played because of the tight AL Central race. “I’ve had a bad year. There were a lot of things anticipated that I missed on.
“We had a bad year as a team,” Dombrowski said of a team that finished last, a game behind the Royals. “Now we need to fix it.”

As expected, the Tigers will not pick up shortstop Edgar Renteria’s $11 million option for 2009. They will pay a $3 million buyout, and Dombrowski said the Tigers had not “closed the door” on signing Renteria to a lesser contract.
Dombrowski said the decision to trade two premier prospects to the Braves for Renteria was carefully considered but never came close to panning out.

“We knew we gave up a lot,” Dombrowski said of sending pitcher Jair Jurrjens and minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez to the Braves last offseason. “But we thought (Renteria) would make a difference. He did not. It didn’t work out.”

Backup infielder Ramon Santiago could find himself in the mix to replace Renteria, Dombrowski said, but Santiago’s lack of size has long convinced the Tigers he’s likely a part-time player.

As for who might be Todd Jones’ successor as closer, Dombrowski said: “I don’t have an answer for that.”

“We can’t count on (Joel) Zumaya to be it, although he could be it,” Dombrowski said of the 23-year-old right-hander who has had shoulder problems for the past 11 months.

Fernando Rodney is “our leading candidate if we were to open the season now,” Dombrowski said, “but we’re hoping to find someone else. He needs to throw more strikes. Does he have the stuff to do it? No question.”

Dombrowski said he was uncertain if trades or free agency would patch any of the holes. The Tigers’ payroll, which was $139 million and the second-largest in all of baseball next to the Yankees this year, will be a factor.

“I’d be surprised if we were a real big participant in free agency,” Dombrowski said, adding: “Our first six guys (in the batting order) are stars. We need guys who can fit in. We don’t need an All-Star at every position.”

WGN’s Beaky, DJ – Providing Objectivity, Professionalism In All Instances

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 11:54 am by

I’ve got no rooting interest in tonight’s one game playoff to determine the winner of the AL Central, but if the White Sox persevere, I’m hopeful they do so in less dramatic fashion. Thanks to Harrelson and Jackson, the speakers on my Realistic ™ Home Entertainment System were critically injured last night.

Gainsville Minister : God Doesn’t Have Better Things To Do Than Worry About Gator Football

Posted in Gridiron, Religion at 11:44 am by

The Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman reports the following sign appears less than a half mile from the Florida Gators’ training facility. I’ve neither the time nor inclination to flex my journalistic chops and confirm or refute this sign’s existence, but surely Goodman is aware it’s pretty easy to rig this kind of thing?

Eric Brown, the 31-year-old minister at Gainesville’s Campus Church of Christ, says he hopes Tebow sees the sign while the Heisman Trophy winner drives to and from campus. If you’re wondering about the Bible verse, Matthew 6:13, you might already know it. It’s the final few lines of the Lord’s Prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”

While Brown says he did attend Saturday’s game between No. 12 Florida (3-1) and Ole Miss (3-2), the minister says the sign, located on S.W. 2nd Avenue only a few blocks west of campus, has nothing do with Florida’s 31-30 loss to the Ole Miss Rebels.

“I’m going to pray that [Tebow] is true to his faith because if he falls and gets caught up in some kind of scandal it will be bad for Christianity,” Brown said.

Mavs’ Howard : I Don’t Wanna Be An American Idiot

Posted in Basketball at 11:30 am by

As you’re probably aware, Dallas’ Josh Howard has been on some kind of roll — ‘fessing up to pot smoking, party planning in the midst of a playoff loss, drag-racing, etc.  But no single act made the Mavericks small forward as much of a national pariah than his widely circulated diss of “The Star Spangled Banner”, and on Monday, Howard capitulated to public hysteria — much of it racist in nature — by making a full apology at a morning news conference. From the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko.

“I know that’s not me,” Howard said. “I love this country. If it wasn’t for this country, I wouldn’t be out here playing basketball. For me to have that opportunity is the greatest.

“That’s not me. That’s not Josh Howard. That was an idiot.”

Howard was speaking to media members for the first time since his July rant at a charity event. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” was playing, he said that he doesn’t celebrate the song because he’s black. The video eventually made it onto YouTube.

On the eve of training camp, he said he wished he could retract those words, and that he looks forward to being able to show fans who have clamored for the Mavericks to get rid of him that he is not a bad guy.

“I apologize to everybody I’ve offended,” the 6-7 forward said. “I’m upset with myself and the way I’ve acted. It was just me joking around. I just wasn’t using my head. I learned that words really do hurt and you are held accountable for what you said.

“I went to military school. I have friends that serve in the military. I know how it is to wake up and salute the flag. In the national anthem every game, I have my hand over my heart. It was just me not thinking.”

Yesterday’s event could’ve been an opportunity for Howard to elaborate on the many reasons why someone — black or otherwise — might not want to recognize the national anthem. Regardless of how the session might’ve been stage managed by the Mavericks, I can’t find fault with Howard wishing to repair his damaged public reputation.  If he sincerely meant his remarks during the flag-football game to be a bit of a goof rather than a genuine political protest, that seems reasonable enough, too. Of greater concern to Dallas fans oughta be what sort of progress, if any, Howard will make playing his first full season alongside Jason Kidd — a player who has never faced the sort of invective aimed at Howard, despite actions far more reprehensible than blowing off the anthem.


The Man From Mattoon’s Take On NYC Sports History

Posted in New York, New York, Sports Journalism, Will Leitch Sucks at 7:47 pm by

As part of New York Magazine’s 40th Anniversary, a number of NYC sports-thinker types of considerable repute were asked to select their Top Ten New York Athletes of the past four decades. Along with expert testimony from the likes of Mike Lupica and Christopher Russo, another Big Apple fixture, former Deadspin editor Will Leitch — when you think of Gotham, you think of Will — contributed the following :

1. Reggie Jackson
In his first game back in the Bronx after he signed with the Angels, Yankee Stadium chanted his name. They wouldn’t even do that for Jeter.

Really? If Darryl Strawberry, Patrick Ewing and Mark Messier all received standing ovations the first time they returned to New York in a different uniform, why is it so hard to believe a 4 time World Champ like Jeter wouldn’t receive similar treatment?

2. Lawrence Taylor
Dominating, gruesome, monstrous, awesome, and would have been even better if he weren’t high so often. That he was makes him even more of a terrifying, otherworldly force of nightmares.

We’ve already established that Will has some issues with black people, but with all due respect to L.T.’s defensive prowess, it’s kinda fucked up to describe him as “gruesome, monstrous” without acknowledging he might’ve been pretty sharp, too. Did Mark Gastineau have the presence of mind to send hookers to opponents’ hotel rooms?

7. Dwight Gooden
Hard to separate him from Darryl Strawberry; they were the only two people who could make you forget anyone played baseball in the Bronx.

Actually, Will, Straw and Dr. K  were very easy to separate. For instance, one played right field and hit monstrous (whoops) home runs, the other was the most exciting young pitcher since Mark Fidyrch or Fernando Valenzuela. “The only two people who could make you forget anyone played baseball in the Bronx?”  For the first time, someone has the guts to claim Fritz Peterson’s star power overshadowed Tom Seaver.

10. Pelé
When he entered Studio 54, the place actually went quiet with awe.

The same could be said of Lillian Carter. When she wasn’t wearing panties, anyway.  But I’ve got to stand up for Leitch’s credibility on this one.  He’s not old enough to have attended the original Studio 54, and while I’m not either,  I’m certain a past-his-prime Pele being recognized in a nightclub is a far greater testament to his iconic status than any of his accomplishments on the soccer pitch.  Had I been asked to compile such a top ten, Anthony Mason would’ve ranked high simply because someone told me he tipped well at the China Club.

Former Mets Announcer : Amazins Fans Are Nattering Nabobs Of Negativism

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York at 6:49 pm by

(Metal Mike and Tom Terrific, acknowledging the cheers of Sam Champion ungrateful jerks Flushing’s adoring fans)

There’s so much blame to go around after the New York Mets’ 2nd consecutive September collapse ; David Wright, Joe Smith, Jeff Wilpon, Tony Bernazard, Joe McEwing, Kevin Elster, Gregg Jeffries, Rusty Staub…..tell me when to stop, please.  Former SportsChannel mouthpiece Ted Robinson, however, suggests a group addition to the above list ; Shea Stadium’s paying customers.  From MSNBC.com (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :

What struck me most Friday was the negativity. Florida scored two runs in the first inning and the rest of the night was mired in a cloud of gloom.

Yes, the economy is part of the reason. Shea Stadium crowds are always littered with Wall Streeters and last Friday night seemed to have a large percentage of those who were blowing off steam and getting Heinekenized and Budweisered.

Before the game I saw Mets general manager Omar Minaya and told him something that appeared in this blog last September — I believe the Mets would have made the playoffs last year if they had played the final week on the road. I still believe that and double down on the thought this year.

By Sunday, I was back in California for the best seat available on baseball™s best day — my couch with DirecTV. As I flipped between games at Shea Stadium, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Chicago, I was struck by the enthusiasm in three parks. Only Shea Stadium didn™t offer its team an obvious home-field advantage.

A stadium whose character was defined by its occupants rather than its structure was closed in grand style. The Mets lone member of the Hall of Fame, Seaver, and his eventual partner in Cooperstown, Piazza, teamed as the battery for the final pitch and walked together out the centerfield gate.

All the while most of the sellout crowd stayed and cheered. It was wonderful, yet bizarre. They love their team, the National League heritage started by the Dodgers and Giants when they played in New York, and the great players who have worn the orange and blue. But the fans seem to love the players more after the fact, more after they are through playing.

During my years as a broadcaster for the Mets, I wondered why the booing at Shea Stadium was so vicious. I have heard such booing often during the final Mets games of the last two seasons. After Sunday™s game “ which turned out to be the last ever at Shea Stadium — I heard cheers. And I can™t help but wonder why over my years of watching the Mets I had not heard them more often.

CSTB Liveblog: Ringside At The Floyd/Garcia Bout

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 6:13 pm by

(Four Swings, 16 RBI: Alexei Ramirez, The Grand-Slammingest Rookie In Baseball)

Update (Top 5th) : Sox 1 Tigers 1   With the whole season on the line, Gavin Floyd just delivered big.  To get out of the fifth with runners on first and third and one out, Floyd dealt a neckbreaking curve that not only sent Granderson back to the dugout but kept Octavio Dotel in the bullpen.

Update: (Top 6th) With 95 pitches, Floyd faces Maggs…punches him out looking..Miguel Cabrera up…0-2..1-2..line drive double to L Ctr gap..105 pitches…in the dirt, AJ holds on to the pierogi…line drive straight to Uribe who sucks it up two down…Ryan Raeburn up…taps a dribbler to Floyd who drops the ball then overthrows to Konerko, TWO E1s, Cabrera scores…Det 2 Sox 1…Ozzie’s leaving him in…Inge up…2-0…now an IW…two runners on, two out.  C Dusty Ryan up…2-2…swing and a miss for Floyd’s 8th K…

UPDATE: Bot 6th in for Cle: Bobby Seay to face Jim Thome..Dye at first, no out…Thome struck out and I just noticed I lost a bunch of this blog post…well, we’ll live…Bobby Seay IWs Konerko with 1 out and Dye on second…two on, one out, and one Ken Griffey, Jr. is at the plate…Cle 2 Sox 2…1-0..amost the third Cleveland wild pitch in this game ends up as ball 2…3-0…take your base, you magnificent .342 OPS questionable acquisition…bags juiced for Alexei…SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM SLAM Alexei Ramirez has sent Gary Glover’s flat heater ten rows back in center Sox 6 Det 2…AJ with a standup double and Alexei has broken the White Sox Major League Baseball rookie record with 4 Grand Slams…Cuba Libre! 

UPDATE: Top 7: Floyd Out, Matt Thornton in as Steve Stone leaves the broadcast booth for religious reasons, happy new year Stoney…hell, Happy New Year as well to GC, David Roth, Ben Schwartz, Jon Solomon, and whatever other CSTB Red Sea Pedestrians I forgot….hey, who’s gonna read this now, anyway?…Thornton out after giving up a hit, it’s Octavio Dotel with a four-run lead…which Dotel will we get?  The kind we need grand slams to endure, no doubt…although last outing was the only bright spot in a mauling at the hands of Cleveland liveblogged in these very pages…facing Sheff with Granderson at second…2-2…line drive right to Brian Anderson, two out…Maggs up…2-2…Dotel showing control…hit the corner, didnt get the call…3-2…fly to Dye Tigers buh-bye.

UPDATE:Bot 7: Wise flies out, Dye to Maggs at the track, 2 out…paging Jim Thome, Jim Thome to the plate…3-2…K.  Dare I worry about gentleman Jim in tomorrow’s playoff against the Twins?  Dare I shut my goddamn mouth?

UPDATE: Top 8: Linebrink punches out Cabrera on a check swing..Thames up…swings at a strike 3 dirtball, two out…Raeburn up..Linebrink is definitely dealing, got a serious cut and is owning the upper zone..splitter falls off the table like broccoli for the dog…grounder up the middle.  Damn you Ryan Raeburn and your gameshow-host last name…Inge up…got him looking!

UPDATE: Bot 8: 4-1 3.48 Aquilino Llllllllopez is in to face Paulie , Fly 7 out…Anderson up…one more dirtball for a frantic Dusty Ryan, who by now is actually as well as putatively Dusty…inside slider strike 3…Alexei up to madhouse cheers…the Cuban Missile goes 1-2…shovels out another dirtball off the mound to a bobbling Santiago for a single…AJ is up…Alexei steals second on Ryan, who, after taking off his mask looks like he just bought Wachovia stock this morning… AJ doubles down 1B line, Alexei scores  Cle 2 Sox 7 …Juan Uribe up and ANOTHER wild pitch for #3 advancing AJ to 3rd…Uribe taps a nubber to Raeburn who bobbles and Uribe reaches on an E4…AJ scores….Cle 2 Sox 8…Cabrera strikes out swinging

UPDATE: Top 9: DJ Carrasco is behind the steel wheels…Jeff Larish in for the emotionally devastated Dusty Ryan strikes out swinging…Santiago…Carrasco’s segue from “Dayvan Cowboy” to Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” confuses Santiago and he strikes out swinging…Granderson flies out to center an the WHITE SOX ARE TIED FOR THE LEAD IN THE AL CENTRAL.

Hey…is that champagne you guys?  You guys up there in the Metrodome?  Yeah, that’s champagne, isn’t it?  Heh.  Yeah, I wouldn’t pop those corks just yet, not when you’ve got a business meeting in Chicago tomorrow.  You guys remember how to play ball in a real ballpark?  It might come in handy if you did.

See you tomorrow.

Q : Cite Six Words That Proceed Being Told “You’re Fired”

Posted in Gridiron at 5:09 pm by

(since photos of Scott Linehan are generally a dull affair, instead we’ll gaze lovingly at a snapshot of his brothers Brock and Brian).

A: “Trent Green is my starting quarterback.”
   In a move that surprised absolutely no one, the winless St. Louis Rams today relieved Scott Linehan of his head coaching duties today, but to the dismay of the Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon, promoted defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (“not a great or terrible choice, just OK”) to the top position.

Haslett, alone, must take responsibility for the dreadful performance of the Rams’ defensive unit. He is lucky to still have a job, much less a better one.

His status has been a popular topic here at STLtoday.com for the past few weeks, while we all waited for Rosenbloom to finally pull the plug on hapless Linehan.

Many fans weren™t interested in Haslett’s potential as Linehan™s short-term successor. Fans wanted him to catch the same cab that awaited the head coach.

The Rams defense wasn™t buying whatever Haslett was selling this season. Again and again, the group collapsed. Physically, tactically and emotionally, his defense was unprepared to succeed.

This is a big opportunity for Haslett. If he can coax some wins out of this group, he will revive his own head-coaching prospects. His reputation took a beating during the last 20 games as the Rams degenerated into the laughingstock of the league.

If Haslett can get anything from a team that has lost 17 of 20 games, this organization and others will take notice.

Let™s hope for his sake -“ and the sake of long-suffering fans -“ he makes the most of an opportunity he really didn™t earn.

Tourism Has A Few Drawbacks

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, Sports Radio at 1:42 pm by

For instance, much as I’ve enjoyed negotiating Memphis’ highways and byways en route to the airport today, for once in my life I’d have rather been listening to Joe Benigno-Gazingo.

(Joe B.G., cheering an erroneous internet report that Scott Schoeneweis had been eaten by an anaconda)

The emotional roller coaster of the Mets’ elimination coupled with The NY Bretts dropping a half century plus on the Cardinals should — by all reasonable expectations — be the chain of events to finally finish the broadcaster for once and all.

Ted Wulfers Didn’t Claw His Way To The Top Of Wisconsin Show Biz To Go Out Like This

Posted in Baseball, The World Of Entertainment at 12:58 pm by

(Sound check’s at three and two drink tickets per musician)

Tensions are high along the Illinois-Wisconsin border following the Milwaukee Brewers’ September 28th clinching of the National League Wild Card.  Chicago musician Ted Wulfers was the first to fall victim to the regional instability when he was expelled from a long-running performance engagement at a Milwaukee TGI Fridays.

Jason George of the Chicago Tribune reports:

Ted Wulfers never thought that singing Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go” could get you fired, but that’s just what happened to the Chicago musician over the weekend. Wulfers was scheduled to perform Sunday at a TGI Friday’s inside Milwaukee’s Miller Park. But he was uninvited last week. The reason? The last time Wulfers performed there in July, he played “Go Cubs Go” after a Cubs victory over the Brewers.

It was not taken kindly by the Brewers fans,” said a spokeswoman for TGI Friday’s. “Friday’s and the Brewers made the decision not to have this band back this year.”

Wulfers, who sang the national anthem in May at Miller Park, said he had no idea Brewers fans would be upset with “just one chorus” from “Go Cubs Go.”

“Basically I had compared this to playing ‘Free Bird’”the crowd just kept asking for it,” he said, while conceding the crowd was mostly Cubs fans.

“I understand the Brewers are trying to fight for the wild card,” Wulfers said before Milwaukee beat the Cubs on Sunday to secure a playoff spot. “I’m just kind of the guy being kicked in the backside for no reason. I’ve been a Cubs fan and a Brewers fan all my life.”


The Wilpon Family : Spitting In Your Mouth And Telling You It’s Rheingold

Posted in Baseball at 9:39 pm by

SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports the Mets are finally going to remove the interim tag from manager Jerry Manuel.  Hey, if the Amazins’ inability to get the job done against the likes of Florida, Washington and Atlanta this month was worthy of contract extension, can you imagine what actually making the playoffs would’ve earned the skipper?  Maybe an extension, plus a pair of old Shea seats?

Manuel is expected to be approached to hammer out a new contract in the next day or two. The Mets again failed to make the playoffs after losing 4-2 to the Marlins on the final day of the season. But Manuel’s bosses believe he did an excellent job under trying circumstances, including late-season injuries to closer Billy Wagner and starter John Maine and an overall bullpen breakdown. The Mets were 55-38 under Manuel after starting 34-35 under Willie Randolph.

“I told Jerry we’re going to have a decision sooner rather than later,” general manager Omar Minaya said. ‘He’s done a very good job, and we’re going to sit down and talk about it.”

The Mets lost 12 of their final 17 games last year to blow a seven-game lead with Randolph as manager. This year they were 7-10 over their final 17 games.

Mets owner Jeff Wilpon said, “I feel totally different than last year. I think last year we underachieved. This year we overachieved.”

I don’t have a problem with Manuel being lauded, far from it.  But it does feel as though the organization is trying to pre-empt criticism by putting a happy face on what many fans consider to be Choke : The Sequel. Everyone expects Jerry Manuel to be back next spring. Of greater concern might be whether or not anyone is accountable for Scott Schoeneweis being handed the baseball 72 times.

Lacking Options, White Sox Turn To Winning Baseball

Posted in Baseball at 9:28 pm by

(Clearly, they’ll let anybody in the Cell and they still can’t sell out the place)

Indians 1 White Sox 5

In a do-or-die bid, Mark Buehrle did.  He smothered the Tribe for the Sox’ first win in six games to try and force a tiebreaker with the Twins.  Tomorrow the Pale Hose must face the Tigers at home to make up a Sept. 14th rainout.  A Sox victory over the Tigers will put them in a tie for the AL Central with the Twins and force a one-game playoff on Tuesday, also at home.   As of this writing, the Tigers may start former South Sider Freddy Garcia, which would force the Sox to light up the winning pitcher of their own 2005 World Series Game 4. There could be worse prospects given that Garcia was shelled by KC last week in his second start since shoulder surgery in 2007.

During today’s final trip to the Cell for the season, I couldn’t help but be floored by the 39 years of consummate professionalism provided by Sox organist Nancy Faust. Take the following quiz for a trip into the musical mind of a national treasure.

Match the Cleveland Indian with the Nancy Faust musical tag.  Answers are below.

No. At-Bat Ltr Nancy Plays
1 Ben Francisco A John Barry "The Magnificent Seven"
2 Travis Hafner B Frank DeVol "The Brady Bunch Theme"
3 Kelly Shoppach C Kinks "You Really Got Me"
4 Jamey Carroll D Smokey Robinson "Shop Around"
5 Kelly Shoppach E Quincy Jones "Sanford & Son" Theme
6 Grady Sizemore F Shelly Fabares "Johnny Angel"
7 Pickoff of Guitterrez G Menard's Jingle
8 Jhonny Peralta H Ray Anthony "Bunny Hop"
9 Kelly Shoppach I Todd Rundgren "Bang On The Drum"
10 Jamey Carroll J Adams/Strouse "All In The Family" Theme
11 Asdrubal Cabrera K Cory/Cross "I Left My Heart In SF"
12 Travis Hafner L J. Geils "Centerfold"
13 Kelly Shoppach M "Cabaret" (musical)

ANSWERS: 1K 2L 3D 4A 5G 6E,B 7C 8F 9D 10J 11M 12H 13I*

* There should be some kind of award handed out for Ms. Fausts’ incredible stretch in this one for the Cleveland catcher tying in the 1973 Robert DeNiro star turn in Bang The Drum Slowly, the story of a troubled backstop not named Jeff Torborg.

Jim Fassel Is To Broadcasting What Andy Reid Is To Parenting

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 9:25 pm by

“You have to understand, there is a co-ordination going on between Andy Reid and his mind, because he is making all the decisions.” – Jim Fassel, as heard this evening on Westwood One’s radio broadcast of Philly’s visit to Solider Field. (thanks to David Williams)

Mask Mania : Hockey Books Reviews Quizzes ‘Saving Face’ Author

Posted in Hockey, Modern Art at 9:17 pm by

(Gerry Cheevers, preparing to scare children the Russians)

Who amongst us hasn’t stopped to ponder the evolution of the hockey goalie mask? Well, not me, but author Jim Hynes finds the topic of entire tome, ‘Saving Face : The Art & History Of The Goalie Mask’, and below are some choice excerpts from an interview conducted by Hockey Books Reviews’ Joe Pelletier.

HBR: If you had to rank the 5 most famous goalie masks of all time, which 5 would you choose?

Jim Hynes: That’s tough: The first Jacques Plante mask is known by so many, heck, it’s a Heritage Minute. Same for Terry Sawchuk: he wore the one mask forever. Tony Esposito’s mask was worn by a few others, including Plante, but anyone who sees it will say “Tony O”. Next would be the Gerry Cheevers stitches mask. Even non-hockey fans know about it. Among the modern masks I’ll give the nod to Eddie Belfour. You see the eagle, yo know it’s Eddie.

HBR – Who has the best paint job today?

Jim Hynes: I’m not a huge fan of the wild, modern paint job. Plus some goalies seem to change them every 6 months now. I have a soft spot for Marty Biron’s Great Gaston lumberjack mask and I liked Christobal Huet’s ghosts masks before he was traded to Washington…but that might just be the French Canadian Habs fanatic in me talking.

HBR – Which goalie mask design is your favorite?

Jim Hynes: Ken Dryden’s first mask is a favourite. I was 6 in 1971 and can remember thinking how weird that masks was. I guess you could call it a modified pretzel-type–certainly one of a kind. I don’t know how safe it was though. I like the way some of the bars are taped together.

Collapse II : Fish Deliver Wrecking Ball To Shea, Mets’ Playoff Hope

Posted in Baseball at 6:19 pm by

Marlins 4, Mets 2

(members of the 89-73 New York Mets try to contain their excitement during postgame festivities that included video highlights of each Black 47 concert from Shea’s legendary Ethnic Heritage Nights)

Does a team with a 12-13 mark in September have any business ruing a playoff miss? How about a club with the vaunted production of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado scoring a combined 5 runs over the course of 3 must-win games?  While Jerry Manuel deserves considerable credit for funny press conferences turning the Mets’ season around, the fact remains his squad was beaten by a nose to the Wild Card by a Milwaukee side that fired their manager two weeks ago.  Really, let the freezing fucking cold winter of recriminations begin, and since I can’t find any members of the Mets relief corps at the moment, I’ll instead consider the status of Omar Minaya, he of the recent 4 year contract extension.

Minaya has now presided over a pair of late season folds, and if he’s gonna receive bouquets and job security for promoting Manuel, the question oughta be raised whether or not Gangsta Jerry was sent into battle with inadequate ammo. That both of the Mets 2008 manager were provided without a Plan B in place for the loss of Moises Alou and routinely had to endure the torture of watching Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, etc. falter, is squarely on club management and ownership. It’s pretty hard to get psyched up for keying Luis Ayala’s car (but go on, twist my arm, I’m free all week) — at what point did any of us close our eyes and believe he’d morphed into Trevor Hoffman?

At one stage earlier this month, the Mets dropped 3 of 4 to a pair of teams (Braves, Nationals) a combined EIGHT THOUSAND games out of contention.   They managed barely any offense this weekend against a foe with absolutely nothing to play for besides pride.  Well, that and the satisfaction of giving Wally Matthews a boner.

These Florida Marlins are becoming awfully adept at ruining the final day of the Mets’ regular season. If Hank Steinbrenner were in charge, you can be sure he’d already be on the phone to next year’s schedule makers.

AC Milan’s Abatti : Shaking His Fascist Groove Thing

Posted in Football, politics at 3:37 pm by

Taking just a bit of the shine off tonight’s occasion of The Derby della Madonnina, The Guardian’s John Hooper reports AC Milan’s goalkeeper is no wallflower when it comes to expressing himself politically.

Christian Abbiati, 31, an Italian international, said: “I am not ashamed to proclaim my political beliefs. I share [the] ideals of fascism, such as the fatherland and the values of the Catholic religion.”

The player’s remarks, published today in Sportweek magazine, come amid debate over Italy’s fascist past and rightwing present under the leadership of AC Milan’s billionaire chairman.

The minority partner in Berlusconi’s parliamentary alliance, the Freedom People, is a party spun out of the country’s neo-fascist movement. Some members remain unabashed apologists for the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

The defence minister, Ignazio La Russa, sparked a row this month after he paid tribute to Italian soldiers who fought alongside German troops in the second world war. His comments came after the mayor of Rome, Gianno Alemanno, told a magazine he did not consider fascism an “absolute evil”. Berlusconi dodged a question on his own views, replying: “I think only of working to resolve the problems of the Italian people.”

A Busy Weekend for the Flyers Owner

Posted in Hockey, politics at 10:39 am by

Not sure which is more unfortunate, Mr. Snider’s choice of team-inspired dress:

Or the company he kept on Friday:

“Palin is Santorum With Lipstick,” read one protestor’s sign in Philadelphia, which is a particularly catchy slogan if you read Savage Love.

Of course, the Flyers did help end the Cold War… or so says Dave Poulin:

“When the whole Russian thing went on here, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Spectrum managed to chase a whole political system out of the building, not just a team,” he said. “They chased communism out of the building.”

Considering the Core States First Union Wachovia Center may yet have a new name, I suggest the ’08-’09 Flyers also dedicate themselves to beating up on failed political or economic systems. Too bad Merritt Paulson doesn’t own a hockey team.

Cubs Offer Mets Helping Hand with the Following Headline: “Guzman Standing in Brewers’ Way”

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 12:04 am by

[Is Angel Guzman, pictured, the Mets last best hope?]

Mets fans, please send “thank you” notes to Mr. Lou Piniella, c/o Wrigley Field.  For reasons I don’t want to worry about “ such as Carlos Zambrano’s undead arm returning for the post-season “ the Cubs have announced that all that stands between the Brewers’ CC Sabbathia and another win tomorrow is Angel Guzman “ not Zambrano.  “He’s 0-7 in 32 career games. Maybe Sunday, he’ll get a win,” says the Cubs’ Carrie Muskat, in a bit if uncharacteristic sabre-rattling. Muskat reassures Mets fans with the following, headlined, “Guzman Standing in Brewers’ Way”:

The Cubs will have a 20-something right-handed Venezuelan on the mound Sunday, but it’s not who you think.

Angel Guzman will start for Chicago in the final regular-season game, which has much more meaning for the Brewers than the Cubs. Milwaukee is tied with the New York Mets for the National League Wild Card lead, and whatever happens Sunday could determine who the Cubs will face in the NL Division Series, which begins Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

If both the Mets and Brewers win Sunday, they will have a one-game tiebreaker game Monday at Shea Stadium. If the Mets win, and the Brewers lose, the Cubs will play the Mets in the NLDS. If the Brewers win the Wild Card, the Cubs will play the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It’s amazing how you play 161 games and it comes down to the last game,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Before Saturday’s game, a 7-3 Chicago win, Piniella said Carlos Zambrano would start in the series finale and most likely go only two innings. The last time Zambrano pitched at Miller Park, he made history, throwing a no-hitter Sept. 14 against the Houston Astros. The game had been relocated to Milwaukee from Houston because of Hurricane Ike.

Asked what he’d do if Zambrano didn’t give up a hit over his two innings, Piniella laughed. More important, Zambrano probably would have insisted on at least one at-bat before he was pulled.

“I might as well hit him fourth,” Piniella said.

That’s old news. After Saturday’s game, Guzman was announced as the starter. The young right-hander underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow last August and has overcome shoulder surgery as well. He’s 0-7 in 32 career games. Maybe Sunday, he’ll get a win.


Rap Master Maurice’s September Surprise

Posted in Free Expression, Hip Hop, politics at 8:45 pm by

Once again, revenge M.C.-for-hire Rap Master Maurice proves he’s got the skills to give John McCain the chills.