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.