A single human hand lacks the basic equipment to point all the fingers necessary at the White Sox for their atrocious failure last night under the Big Top. First off, I know you can’t trade for Griffey and not play him in the biggest game of the year, but one can only hope Junior’s 9th inning meaningless 2-run dinger is not enough to keep him on the card tonight. Hope alone is left because as we have seen, prayer is ineffective.
The next finger goes to AJ Pierzynski, whose .200-in September bat, bases-loaded ground out in the third and following little-league rundown of Delmon Young that allowed Punto and Gomez to advance prompted the following outburst from the embattled backstop: “I fucking suck.” And so in the stony silence that follows all uncomfortable truths, we turn to the outfield.
I recommend checking for iPods under caps, because something has these guys’ attention that shouldn’t. Dye forgot how many outs there were in the 6th. Dewayne Wise threw to third instead of second. Griffey didn’t get to a Kubel fly ball in the 4th that Brian Anderson would have easily handled.
Then there’s Javy being Javy and Ozzie being Ozzie letting Javy be Javy. In the fourth he gave up a triple, double, hit and bunt singles with a pokey parade of stuff down the middle. Waiters at the Drake Hotel get less of the plate (that’s a shout out to my grandfather) than Vazquez (L 12-15, 4IP, 7H 5R 3K) did last night. One thing we have learned: when Vazquez gave up that slam to Johnny Damon in the ’04 ALCS, some in New York mumbled he was preoccupied with travel plans to Puerto Rico. Despite being Yankees fans, these people were not wrong. And Kenny’s got him until 2010 at some ungodly sum I don’t even want to look up. Play the World Series in July and that won’t be a problem I guess.
Going for the pen in the fifth is never how you prefer to go, but when Boone Motherfucking Logan is in the mix, it’s time to consider dragging Bobby Jenks out there instead. Holy mother of cock shit balls, put this waste of rosin back on the short bus already. I know he didn’t give up the only bomb (thank you Clayton Richard) and I know Matt Thornton is a human being that needs rest, and I know Scott Linebrink is a shadow of his former self and I know there’s no bullpen door in the Metrodome and so no opportunity to use a padlock, but Boone Fucking Logan? Somewhere, a meth lab is missing its lookout. Return him from whence he came — please.
And thank you, Carlos Quentin, for your fire, your strength and your impeccable Stanford-educated judgement. You showed that bat, all right. Showed it good. Hope you’re using it for the dry swings.
It’s not over, but it sure looks like it should be. This team, lacking a pissed-off older guy in the far end of the dugout, is playing like a team that lacks a pissed-off older guy in the far end of the dugout. I doubt that whatever hell Ozzie has left to dish out is going to turn any heads. What’s he going to do, go to the media and insinuate…well, never mind.
Seriously, enough with these pests. They’ve got more road miles than Magellan, the Indians and Rays took turns kicking their ass and when they got home, it was to Jesse Ventura’s state. Please. Denard Span? Kid’s got no big game experience, probably doesn’t even understand that it’s not normal to play big league baseball under a hefty bag. Kubel? He’s 0.95 agaisnt Javy, and his name sounds like a potato dish. Forget him. Mauer? Well, you can always walk him. Gomez? Swings at anything, already used up his homer against Javy this year. Morneau? Walk him, too. Casilla? He’s .143 against Horacio Ramirez, how good can he be? And Scott Baker. Come on. Totally hittable. Gets rattled with runners on. Owned by Cabrera and AJ. We got this one.
I’d take a page out of the Schwartz playbook and live-blog the game, but they don’t have wi-fi at the prayer meeting I’ll be at.
On revenue sharing: œThat™s a system I don™t particularly like. It™s a socialist system, and I don™t agree with it. Does it work? It depends on your point of view. But is it right? Is it even American? I™d argue no on both of those points.
On the divisional setup: œIf you want to talk about things that infuriate me about the game today, revenue sharing doesn™t top the list. The biggest problem is the divisional setup in major league baseball. I didn™t like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now. Baseball went to a multidivision setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement. But it isn™t fair. You see it this season, with plenty of people in the media pointing out that Joe Torre and the Dodgers are going to the playoffs while we™re not. This is by no means a knock on Torre ” let me make that clear”but look at the division they™re in. If L.A. were in the A.L. East, it wouldn™t be in the playoff discussion. The A.L. East is never weak.
Go back to the 2006 season. St. Louis winning the World Series ” that was ridiculous. The Cardinals won their division with 83 wins ” two fewer than the Phillies, who missed the postseason. People will say the Cardinals were the best team because they won the World Series. Well, no, they weren™t. They just got hot at the right time. They didn™t even belong in the playoffs. And neither does a team from the N.L. West this season.
The New York Post’s F. Carter Smith reports a tearful Roger Clemens watched Yankee Stadium’s closing ceremonies — during which his name was mentioned fewer times than first ballot Hall Of Famer Xaver Nady — “at home in hurricane-ravaged Texas, in front of a battery-operated television on his living room couch.” It’s a nice touch by Carter. While the Rocket’s former teammates and employers are basking in baseball history, Clemens, the ultimate family man, remains in the thick of a natural disaster’s aftermath. But I’m calling bullshit — what sort of “battery operated television” allows you to watch ESPN?
Newsday’s Alan Hahn reports the New York Knicks are preparing to waive Stephon Marbury — with Miami a likely destination for the Coney Island product — despite the veteran point guard apparently dedicating himself to conditioning over the summer.
Though removing the controversial Marbury from the locker room is believed to have been a foregone conclusion for some time – the old addition-by-subtraction theory – it is also well known within the walls of 2 Penn Plaza that Donnie Walsh is having trouble getting comfortable with the idea of handing someone nearly $20 million to go play for another team. Especially when that player might be in the best shape of his career and focused – yes, rarely a word attributed to Marbury – to prove a great deal of critics wrong.
Make no mistake; all indications from those who have seen him are that Marbury is physically more ready for this season than the previous two. The left ankle is healed after surgery last January to remove bone spurs. His weight is reportedly down to 200 pounds after he spent the summer training in Southern California – “Running the Hollywood Hills,” as has been repeatedly said from those in his camp. He has refreshingly been mostly under the radar throughout the summer, with nary a bizarre interview to be seen on YouTube (OK, he did have his “Starbury” logo tattooed on his skull).
Marbury, who created a huge divide between himself and teammates after he went AWOL in Phoenix last November, stayed to himself with his workouts at the MSG Training Center this offseason until yesterday, when he joined the other Knicks veterans in pickup games. One observer from yesterday’s workout noted the uneasy atmosphere among the other players. “You could just feel the hate,” the person said.
I’ll ‘fess up, when Isiah Thomas acquired Marbury, I actually believed the latter would make the most of his opportunity playing for hometown team. In terms of paychecks and Jeep blowjobs, I wasn’t far off. Now that the Knicks are on the brink of paying Marbury to be play alongside D-Wade, I do wish Hahn and his colleagues would consider the real victims of this mooted transcation. Not Cablevision’s shareholders, but the nation’s hoops bloggers, who will have far less fodder to work with the moment Stephon leaves New York.
Man, I don’t know who to thank more. The 15 or 16 of you who stuck around for all 3 1/2 hours of miserable baseball (perhaps not so miserable for Ms. Clayton) at Shea last night, Ben Schwartz for the partisan live blogging, Mr. Roth for the unhappy recap, or the staff and management of St. Marks Place’s Sing Sing for graciously including Sham 69′s “Borstal Breakout” amongst their karaoke offerings. Were it not for Jon Niese serving up-a-spicy-meatball to the Cubs’ resident Mark E. Smith acolyte Jason Marquis Cha Cha, the ballgame itself might’ve been something or other besides a footnote in what is feeling more and more like Collapse II.
Besides the camraderie of a tremendous bunch of humans, I am struggling to take something positive away from the Mets’ 9-5 defeat. It boggles this very hungover mind that this team is reduced to leaning on the likes of Niese and Brandon Knight during the final week of a pennant race, much as I cannot quite remember the last Mets position player (Carlos D.? Roger Cedeno? Robbie Alomar? Sir Bonilla? Rafael Santana? Hey, my memory’s coming back!) to generate as much genuine hatred as Luis Castillo. But here’s all I can come up with :
a) Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless 8th inning. I know, BFD, but given the workload the rest of the pen is likely to face over the next 6 days, sparing any of Heilman’s colleagues just one more appearance might actually be consequential.
b) Carlos Beltran hit with the centerfield wall while making a fine running grab of Mark DeRosa drive in the top of the 7th last night, sustaining some damage to his ribs and left knee. Beltran stayed in the game despite the Mets being down by 6 runs at the time, and emerged from the trainers room to take his at bat in the last of the 7th, singling off Neil Cotts in the process. This made no difference in yet another must-win turned into a defeat, but at some point NYC’s legion of hate fuck radio screamers are gonna have to acknowledge Beltran’s determination and character have been grossly misjudged. This is the same player who had his face rearranged in a violent collison with Mike Cameron in 2005, yet returned to the lineup shortly afterwards, despite the club being far out of contention. We’ve routinely heard the whispers from certain WFAN hosts that Beltran is “aloof” or “not a big game kind of guy”. Not for the first time, this bullshit agenda has been exposed.
Back to internal affairs for a minute, I’m still trying to figure out what’s up with Live Nation advertising a Dice Clay show on CSTB. Maybe it was all those old references to “Hitz”. Either way, I’m not about to tell the planet’s premiere concert promotion monopoly firm they don’t know their demographic.
I trust that GC — once he’s done belting out karaoke favorites (here’s a clip of our camera-shy webmaster at work) and drowning his memories of tonight’s 9-4 Mets loss in the cocktail of his choice — will eventually deliver a more in-depth summary of the gala CSTB event that unfolded parallel to the three-plus hour tumble down the stairs that was the Mets’ surpassingly out-of-it performance tonight. But I thought I’d get in there while he’s still singing.
Excepting the fact that the Mets were weapons-grade terrible, the evening itself was quite enjoyable — I met some nice people (one of whom, reader Colin, is actually at work right now: hang in there, homey), somehow managed to score two beers for the low, low price of $16, and got to see the Home Run Apple come up for what’s probably the last time in celebration of a seventh-inning David Wright home run. The game itself, as you’ve probably learned from Ben Schwartz’s CSTB live-blog, was pretty rough from a Mets fan’s perspective.
Unfortunately, without my internets near at hand, I was unable to answer some of the questions that came up during the game. Now that I’m home, I’ll field a few.
Q: “What’s the record for grand slams given up to pitchers in a season? This has to be it, right?” — Ira, Hoboken, NJ, after Jason Marquis’ home run slipped over (by like 20 feet) the right field fence.
A: I would’ve guessed that the Mets had set that record tonight. Marquis’ homer, along with Felix Hernandez’s opposite-field grand slam off Johan Santana earlier this year, makes two pitcher-authored slams on the year. It turns out that the Mets are indeed the first team to yield two grand slams to pitchers in the same season…since 1977. The other team to do it? That would be the 1977 Cubs. This bunch of buttheads, who employed both Donnie Moore and Rick Reuschel’s brother, and whose double-play combination was Manny Trillo and Ivan DeJesus. It’s been that long since a team managed to poop itself in this way twice in the same season. Thanks for asking, Ira, that was fun to look up!
Q: “Is there a way that Luis Castillo could be any worse?” — David Roth, New York, NY
A: You are kind of pushing the limits of the FAQ format here, hombre.
Q: “How so?” — David Roth, New York, NY
A: It’s the meta…
Q: “Maybe just answer the question? And we can do the ontological stuff offline?” — David Roth, New York, NY
A: Thanks so much for making this so easy. The answer to your/my question: no, absolutely not, there’s no way Castillo could’ve been shittier in this game, unless he could somehow have also been Brian Schneider (0-3, GIDP with a strikeout), which thankfully he is unable to do as of now. Castillo made Miguel Cairo look like Chase Utley. The worse news being that Damion Easley, during his pinch-strikeout, did not make much of a case for being ready to take over at second. Castillo’s the guy for now, and I guess for the next three seasons, if you believe in things like “contracts.” Which I do not: I worship an awesome God who will somehow deliver Brian Roberts to the Mets next year in exchange for Aaron Heilman and a photo of Ricardo Rincon in an undershirt.
Q: “Two-part question: do you guys need a decent-ish spot-starter type or fireballing set-up guy? We’ve always thought the Mets have cool uniforms and fit those descriptions, respectively.” — Brian B., Kansas City, MO and Matthew L., Miami, FL
A: We have no positions available at this time. Thank you for your interest in the Mets organization, but we’d prefer to trade you for a domestic-abusing washout and a guy who looks and pitches like Jonah Hill. Respectively.
Q: “Is there really a chance the Mets could miss the playoffs again?” — Any Attendee Tonight, Queens, NY
A: Yeah, sure. If the Brewers can turn around their even-more-extreme tailspin, the Mets — currently a game and a half up in the Wild Card standings — could easily give this away. But the bigger question is…
Q: “Why do you really want to see this particular Mets team make the playoffs?” — David R., New York, NY
A: You again.
Q: “Indeed, ‘you.’ Again. Answer the…” — David R., New York, NY
A: Okay, yeah. I don’t know why. I guess because I don’t want to have seen my favorite team blow things the same way in two consecutive seasons. Last year’s Mets team, right up until the moment that their season finally crashed and burned, seemed like a team that could win a World Series to me. I harbor no such fantastical optimism about this depleted, defeated bunch of humps. The bottom third of the batting order as presently constituted is as thoroughly useless as it has been since Wilson Delgado and Danny Garcia were holding it down, and even if the team were getting any offensive push from anyone but the first four batters in the lineup, the bullpen is so blown-out that a postseason run would require a truly miraculous run of starting pitching, in addition to some 18 Again-style twist in which Francisco Rodriguez suddenly enters the body of Duaner Sanchez. I’ve tried, because I have the time and the unfortunate inclination, to imagine Luis Ayala getting the last out in the World Series. It’s incredibly difficult. Harder still, after having heard his transcendently un-intimidating ranchero/polka intro music when he entered tonight’s game.
In the end, the Mets are probably about at the level of the team currently fouling its beery nest in Milwaukee. Whether the Mets make the playoffs and get in a last postseason game or two at Shea or whether the Brewers somehow sneak in after losing 50 of their last 52 doesn’t matter much, except to those of us for whom it matters too much. Neither team is going far, and both will face the same task entering next season: finishing the process of taking a roster comprised of four really great offensive players, a few solid role-playing hitters and some good starters and turning it into a viable winner.
I love these Mets, much as I’m sure the Brewers fans love them some Brewers. But the real answers to the question of why it matters so much to me that the Mets make the playoffs all have to do with me, my goofy life, my own weird tendency to ask athletes I don’t know to toss me some free-of-charge fulfillment when I’m feeling thwarted and small. The answer to the question above, and I know this now, is certainly not because I think these Mets are going to win a World Series. I still hate watching them lose, but despite myself and against my better judgment, I still somehow want to watch them try.
[CSTB blogger Ben Schwartz, assuming command of the blog]
Live Blogging 7:24 PST: Well, the Mets are fighting back in the 9th (Delgado just grounded out to knock a run in), to make it 9-5. Look, my wife is really serious now. I told her I’m live blogging this thing on my blog, and she said “Are you getting paid for it?” I said “no,” and that was it, you shoulda seen the look I got. I gotta go out to that Brazilian place. Anyway, don’t drive angry.
Live Blogging 7:17 PST: Pitcher Jason Marquis hits a grand slam? Felix Pie claims an RBI in the 9th? It’s the latter play that compels me to raise the specter of illegal gambling, and to formally insist that the commissioner’s office investigate the Mets “throwing” this game. Cubs lead 9-4, heading into the bottom of the 9th.
Live Blogging 6:38 PST: Bottom of the 7th, Mets rebound on David Wright’s 33rd HR, which brings Jose Reyes in with him. Cubs lead 8-4, and slugger Jason Marquis has been pulled for reliever Neal Cotts. Btw, Jeremy Piven won an Emmy last night, and I think he deserved it, no matter what the tabloids say about him.
Live Blogging 6:25 PST: The Cubs haven’t scored for two innings, and I just got a call from my wife that I’m going to go out and meet her at that Brazilian chicken place we like, so I may not be able to finish blogging the game. But as things are going … well, anyway, there have been some rude remarks left in the comments section. Trust me, the new CSTB isn’t going to tolerate that sort of thing. This is a blog that will Maintain Order. Anti-Cub comments will be deleted for the duration of Our Year. And one commentor, “Marc,” advocating violence, might like to know that I am not at Shea Stadium, but in Los Angeles. Even if the former absentee COO of CSTB were to throw a Bud Light at me, he would have to have a hell of an arm.
Live Blogging 5:55 PST: Cubs lead the Mets 8-2 going into the bottom of the 5th, having picked up two more runs from a Derrek Lee HR in the 4th and series of knocks that sent Felix Pie (subbed for Reed Johnson) around the bases and home.
Btw, I’ve been looking for the opportunity to expand CSTB from simply a “sports blog” to one that also welcomes coin collecting topics across the board. In our own way, coin collectors (or “change hounds,” as we like to call each other) are certainly “sportive.” At the moment, I’m currently looking for an Indian head nickel with the corrupted Denver mint imprint, but NOT the 1904 “ nice try! So if you have one, or just want to talk some coins, feel free to add some comments below.
Live Blogging 5:17 PST: Struggling pitcher Jason Marquis hits grand slam to increase the Cub lead, 6-2. That said, I hope the Cubs bench is taking into account that it would probably benefit Chicago to play the Mets in the play-offs, not the Phillies.
Live Blogging: The Cubs manage to produce a run in the 2nd inning through old-fashioned, “inside” baseball run production, on hits, a walk, and then Mark DeRosa plating the virgin run of the game. Then the Cubs threw a run away on a Jason Marquis wild pitch that allowed Carlos Delgado to score. While CSTB is occupied waiting on-line, looking for Val Kilmer in the bleachers with Vince Coleman, or witnessing farewell performances by actors playing Howard Johnson and Mookie Wilson, CSTB readers need not worry. In the worlds of Alexander Haig, “I’m in charge here.”
Guess which FNIA panelist would probably submit a terrible Pazz & Jop ballot? “Any of them” is a suitable answer, by the way. Video link swiped from Scott’s Shots. Hey, if you wanna get into farmer’s rights, I’d rather hear from the Coog & Chris Morris.
White Sox starter Javier Vazquez has a chance to put a critical dent in Minnesota’s NL Central hopes tomorrow night, but as skipper Ozzie Guillen is quick to remind us, “he hasn’t been [a big-game pitcher], that’s the bottom line.” If Vazquez is offended by his manager’s summation, he’s not telling the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley :
”You know what? It’s not going to [change a lot of opinions] because I’m really the type of guy that when I retire, I’m going to be home in Puerto Rico with my family,” Vazquez told the Sun-Times on Saturday, concerning his reputation. ”I’m not looking to have to change minds if people feel that way. I won’t be paying attention to that. If I do well or if I don’t, I’ll still go home at the end of my career and be the same person.”
Vazquez has pitched in the postseason only once, in 2004 with the New York Yankees. He made three appearances but only one start, allowing five runs in five innings in a no-decision against the Twins.
When he left New York after one year, he did so with a reputation he hasn’t been able to shake. And while Tuesday’s start would seem to be a good time to sway opinion, neither Vazquez nor Guillen is overly concerned with that.
”What you see is what you get,” Guillen said. ”Javy is going to be Javy. I just want him to be aggressive, throw the ball over the plate and knock somebody on their [butt]. That’s a big three games for us.
”You have to be mean. Go out there and show them we show up to play, show up to kick your guys’ [butts]. And believe me, that will take care of itself.”
Late last night, the ever erudite Matt Horsehit reduced his fellow revelers to silence when offering the observation, “I’m really getting into that new Blind Melon album”. After witnessing this fantastic attempt at killing the party vibe, I wondered, what else could someone utter in a social gathering that would suck the air out of a room?
“Man, some of that child pornography from the former Soviet Union is getting really violent!”
“The usual, Mr. Sizemore?”
By all means, give this one your best shot. In the meantime, a couple of tickets remain for tonight’s CSTB 5th Anniversary party in Section 19 of Shea Stadium’s upper deck. If you’re a Mets fan, a Cubs fan or perhaps have always wanted to spend 3 1/2 hours sitting near me (but not very near, mind you. those seats are already reserved for my security detail), this is your big chance (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And who knows? Much the way Reggie Jackson visited Yankee Stadium’s bleachers for the first time on Saturday, perhaps a former Mets great will grace us with his presence later this evening. And if Jeff Innis needs to take the service elevator, who am I to begrudge him the VIP treatment?
Hey, if the organizers of Austin’s Fun Fun Fun festival truly believe a Dead Milkmen reunion is a good idea, who am I to protest? But surely a spoken word performance by the gentleman above would sell a few tickets, too.
Hey, who says newspapers are a dying business? MLB Commissioner Bud Selig purchased a full page advertisement in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle — a paper no longer available in Austin vending machines — to explain his side of the story in last week’s decision to move the Cubs/Astros series to Milwaukee’s Miller Park.
œI recognized the advantage the Cubs would have in playing in such close proximity to Chicago, and had there been a better option, I would have taken it, Selig wrote in the ad on page C16 of the Sports section.
œAll of us involved in the decision regret the frustration the Astros and their fans felt about playing two games in Milwaukee.
Selig said roofed ballparks in Minneapolis, Phoenix and St. Petersburg, Fla., were not available.
œWe did not think it was fair to play games on the West Coast with the Astros heading to Miami to face the Marlins, the commissioner said.
œWhile it is insignificant in comparison to the havoc that was taking place in southeast Texas, the storm also created a scheduling difficulty for Major League Baseball. … As commissioner, my job is to balance many competing needs, while also finishing the season on time, Selig wrote.
Astros first baseman Lance Berkman said he still thinks other options were available but that the gesture was appreciated.
œI know that he feels like there were no other options. I™m not sure that was necessarily the case in a strict sense, Berkman said. œWe could have opted to not play any of the games and play a doubleheader at the end of the season if we needed to. That probably would have sorted out any playoff implications. That™s certainly a nice gesture on his part to maybe make amends.
Berkman added that despite the circumstances, the Astros are to blame for their own shortcomings.
œYou can only use that as an excuse for so long why we are where we are, Berkman said. œWe went up there, and there™s 90 feet between the bases up there at Miller Park) just like there was at home. There was a hostile crowd, but we won three games from the Cubs at Wrigley, so it™s no excuse.
Sam Frank nominates the above clip, and while (once again), this isn’t a portion of an actual motion picture, surely our friends in the Republican Party deserve recognition for creating such a skillful homage to New York director Abel Ferrera?
(L to R: Henry Paulson, Lou Piniella. It looks like Lou’s not falling for it, either.)
“The fans here in New York never seem to amaze me,” said Derek Jeter on camera after tonight’s final game at the Bronx cathedral. While Mr. November may have misspoke, I can confidently state that here in Chicago, baseball fans take very seriously their duty to drop jaws and boggle minds.
Take Former Goldman Sachs CEO, US Treasury Secretary and Chicago Cubs fan Henry Paulson. To the shock of nobody, Hank hails from suburban Barrington Hills, Illinois. Right now, as you may have heard, his pals on Wall Street are in a tough spot, and Hank thinks you should cover them — or else — who knows what will happen? (Sound of glass figurine “falling” off shelf and breaking.)
It’s not even Monday yet and the original $700 Billion bailout figure is already being revised upward to reach the Big T. One million million bucks. Better hurry up and give him what he wants, because apparently Hank’s from a really bad part of Barrington Hills.
Oh, and when you pay up, you don’t get to ask where it goes. In fact, nobody does, not even a court:
Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
Do I even have to mention that not one of his Street pals loses a dime on the deal? Is it going to be news to anybody that the invisible hand of the “free market”‘s busy proctological explorations somehow don’t reach to Winnetka, IL or Fairfield County, CT?
Forgive me for recognizing a class war when I see it. This season I’ve had a jolly time at the expense of Cub Nation, but things are getting a shade more serious. It may well be that an accident of birth or a lapse of taste has made you a Cub fan. But it can no longer be ignored that too many of the people you’re high-fiving would have you killed for food when it comes to that.
Crap TV historians have long contended an ill-advised song & dance number between Rob Lowe and Snow White at the 1989 Academy Awards was one of the small screen’s most cringe-inducing moments. Until now, the whereabouts of the young lady who danced alongside Mr. Lowe has been the matter of speculation. I am happy to announce that she’s found gainful employment — this evening she was shown (sans close up) before a national television audience playing the part of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium’s closing ceremonies.
On a few occasions, ESPN’s cameras caught glimpses of fans as well current & retired players looking befuddled at the Yankees’ attempts to have actors portray the Babe, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Clearly these unsophisticated types have no idea how difficult it is to stage a production of this magnitude. I realize George Steinbrenner once had business partners with Broadway connections, but who knew that young Hank was such a huge fan of “Zoo Animals On Wheels”?
Here’s some sage Fantasy advice for Week 3 in the NFL : Build a time machine, go back twenty four hours and draft and/or start Miami RB Ronnie Brown (above), whose 4 rushing touchdowns (and one TD pass) made good on teammate Joey Porter’s pregame boasts. Porter sacked Matt Cassell 3 times in the Dolphins’ 38-13 dispatch of New England, a result described by the Miami Herald’s Jeff Darlington as “arguably the greatest upset in team history”, though it was probably a bigger surprise that Mercury Morris spent as much as 4 hours last autumn doing something other than dissing the Patriots.
Other than Brian Westbrook making an early exit in Philly’s clash with the Steelers, the day’s other rub-your-eyes result would have to be Tampa Bay’s Brian Griese passing for 407 yards on 67 attempts (2 TD’s, 3 INT’s) in the Bucs’ 27-24 O.T. win at Solidier Field. 5 year vet Antonio Bryant was Griese’s target of choice (10 catches, 138 yards), and it was difficult not to imagine how a certain graying QB starting for the visiting side in San Diego tomorrow night might’ve prospered had he availed himself of Tampa’s receiving corps.
[104-year-old Lee Hildbebrand tosses out the first pitch today, and only after Lee visits Cubs rehab in Arizona will Piniella decide Bob Howry's October future]
[Piniella, refusing to get excited]
Cubs manager Lou Piniella spent the better part of the morning deflating expectation in Chicago to any and all who would listen, before they asked him if he’d prefer Grant Park or Division Street renamed in his honor.
“The amazing part about it, I hear all these things about this team is built to win the World Series,” Piniella said before the Cubs faced the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
“Well, which team isn’t built to win the World Series? Is this the only team in baseball that is built to win the World Series? I don’t think so.”
The Cubs haven’t won the Series in 100 years, and the city of Chicago is buzzing over their chances and the hopes of the AL Central-leading White Sox. But the long stretch without a World Series winner for the Cubs is in almost every conversation about the team from the north side.
“To hear all this talk about, ‘Well if you guys don’t win the division and you don’t win a World Series, it’s a lost year.’ That’s a bunch of (expletive),” Piniella said.
As for today’s bout itself, Theodore Roosevelt Lilly threw 7 innings for his 16th win of 2008, a 5-4 decision over St. Louis. After Jim Edmonds loaded the bases, Soriano drove in 3 runs on a fielding error by Brian Barton. The remaining 2 runs came in the 4th, as Geo Soto scored on a Troy Glaus error and Ted Lilly executed a suicide squeeze to bring in Theriot.
The Cardinals, momentarily putting off their travel plans, rallied for 4 runs in the 6th, mainly off a Troy Glaus 3-run homer. Kosuke Fukodome’s translator must have the day off, as he missed a sign on a hit and run play “ meaning he never swung as Geo Soto lumbered into 2B for an easy out. You have to wonder what’s up with Fukodome, who started 2008 with a remarkable amount of patience and control at the plate. Where did that go?
Still, Carlos Marmol’s 8th inning fan of Albert Pujols raised a sweet afternoon breeze. The game closed on the ironic sight of Jim Edmonds catching the final pop fly of the day to clinch the Cubs play-off spot in front of the Cardinals. I know it was ironic, because FOX reminded me of that a LOT. First for his catch, then for addressing the team in the locker room about not going nuts over a division title. Fox’s Jeanne Zelasko “ who just owns that hot Cindy McCain look “ mentioned the irony of it again, after which Eric Karros cut her off: “Ah, he’s the guy who said something.” Apparently, Karros, whose Cub career has never gotten so much network time as today, still has some issues with Edmonds’ true colors.
While 2008 wasn’t a cake walk,the Cubs have made the Central there’s to lose since late May or June. Piniella gets a huge amount of credit for (well, everything) steering his team clear of major injuries and keeping the rotation and bullpen together during rocky moments. The division felt settled in my head after the four game sweep of the Brewers that opened with Sabbathia’s loss. CC was their last best hope, and while effective everywhere else but against the Cubs, you always knew the Cubs could beat him after that.
That said, there’s no pennant or World Series yet, and the Cubs are still seeking home field advantage for the play-offs. Piniella’s right in everything he says, of course. What he may not get about Chicago, tho, is that the culture of winning on the North Side is as new as actually winning. The Trib‘s Paul Sullivandiscusses that much, here:
The Cubs have won three division titles over the last six seasons, after winning only two from the start of divisional play in 1969 through 2002.Manager Dusty Baker started the change in culture in 2003 and Lou Piniella has cemented it with back-to-back titles. Now Cubs fans have come to expect a contending team on an annual basis.
“They should,” Piniella said after Saturday’s clincher. “Look, Chicago is a major city. I’ve said, and I’ve told (general manager) Jim Hendry this and I’ve told (chairman) Crane Kenney. This team here should dominate the National League Central the way the Yankees and Red Sox have dominated the American League.”
Piniella wasn’t knocking the rest of the division, but pointing out that the Cubs should have more resources available to them as a major-market team.
“There’s no reason why our team here can’t be in this position for a long time to come,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Piniella chastised the media for giving the impression the Cubs season won’t be considered a success if they don’t win the World Series. He pointed to Atlanta manager Bobby Cox’s 14 division titles with only one championship, arguing “anything can happen” in the postseason.
“Shea is a dump. Any person who likes Shea Stadium itself is either horribly drunk or horribly stoned (or, quite possibly, both). Too bad I won™t be in New York when they demolish it, so I could break-dance on it™s grave. Maybe to Beatles music, to honor Shea Stadium™s greatest moment.” – Gamingboy, Baseball Think Factory
Greatest moment? Not for the first time, Larry Zbysko has been royally dissed.
The Washington Post reported earlier today that a Friday evening high school football game between Dunbar (DC) and Fort Hills (MD) ended prematurely when the former’s coach pulled his squad from the field, alleging racial taunts. Said article received considerable national attention when it was picked up by Deadspin’s Marcel Mutoni, and later became the subject of debate on a Baltimore Sun message board. In Sunday’s Post, Alan Goldenbach reports that while the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is investigating claims made by Dunbar coach Craig Jeffries (above), counterpart Todd Appel of Fort Hills insists his players are innocent.
Appel denied the charge that his team taunted Dunbar players with racial epithets. Reached by phone yesterday, Appel said he spoke to several players after the game and they were adamant they did not use any racist terms toward the Dunbar players.
Appel said he asked his tight end, senior Jordan Helmick, a three-year starter and one of six black players on Fort Hill’s 38-man roster, if he had heard any slurs, and Helmick replied, “Coach, I swear, nothing like that was going on.”
Appel said, “I wouldn’t tolerate [racist epithets], and if I heard it, I’d kick [that player] off the team.
Bob Broadwater, the game’s referee, said no one on the officiating crew heard any epithets.
“Based on the action on the field, there were no racial slurs that I or any of the other officials heard,” said Broadwater, who was reached by phone yesterday. He said Jefferies told him about the alleged slurs about a minute before the coach pulled his team from the field. “I told him, ‘If we hear it, we’ll penalize them.’ ”
Jefferies said yesterday that his players told him the alleged slurs were more prevalent than he initially believed. He said his players’ reactions, coupled with perceived biases in the officiating, made him believe the situation could have escalated into a fight or something worse. He said leaving the field was the best way to prevent that from happening.
“The worst-case scenario was a fight, which was inevitable at that point,” Jefferies said. “You could feel the sense of being uncomfortable in that stadium, and I had to do something proactive. If there was just poor officiating, my guys would have played through it.”
A two-out, RBI single in the last of the 9th by the oft-criticized Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 1-0 win over Baltimore in Yankee Stadium’s penultimate game. On the eve of the venue’s farewell, the New York Times’ David Gonzales departs from the nostalgia fest to declare, “the park that looms so large in the minds of the fans has been but a backdrop for me ” imposing from afar, but up close about as real as a theatrical prop.”
It™s just that too often, no one much respected the neighborhood outside its walls, including Yankee executives. That™s what makes for my melancholy heart.
Over the years there was griping about how the area was unsafe ” this despite scores of police officers assigned to games and the presence of two pretty well-fortified courthouses and a transit police station a couple of blocks away. And there were arguments about whether the Yankees could develop a fan base in the Bronx ” a borough that is home to legions of baseball-mad Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.
On one level, you could dismiss it as just posturing, a bargaining ploy over the years meant to wrest something new from the city ” tax breaks or a stadium. But for a track man at Cardinal Hayes High School who ran past the stadium every day, it could feel like an entire community™s recent history had been reduced to a negotiating tactic.
Whatever indifference I felt toward the stadium turned to something like active dislike in 1977. That was the year that Howard Cosell famously declared to a national audience, œThe Bronx is burning, while calling a game there. Those few words felt like a body blow.
While no one would argue the South Bronx was a paradise, I never found the area by the stadium to be threatening, especially on game days. For a while in the early 1990s, my office was across the street from Macombs. I parked my car on the street and not once had it broken into. My biggest fear was being locked in the building by a security guard who liked to sneak off and smoke pot with his friends.
Yet the slights continued. An executive called neighborhood kids œmonkeys in 1994. He was in charge of community relations. Judging by the reaction of local schools and youth groups at the time, community relations was close to an oxymoron. Whatever requests they made of the team ” for money, tickets or speakers ” went unanswered, they said.
Although it took almost two years, local groups are getting grants from the community benefits agreement that was part of the stadium deal. More is promised. Local activists are waiting for the replacement parks they were promised, too.
It was stupid, that’s for sure. But I guess the reason I can’t get too worked up about it is because it’s not the incendiary statement of a Huey P. Newton trying to tear the fabric of a nation apart. It’s Urkel. It’s Urkel talking into a camera phone at a flag football game. I kind of wish the follow up press release was a heartfelt “Diiiiiiid I doooooooooo thaaaaaaaat?” though no one ever asks me to write their mea culpa press releases anymore. His statement, though I guess I should be deeply offended as an Amuuuuurican, reminded me of when my skateboarding boyfriend in 8th grade would draw the flag upside down on his backpack or write something about BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU on his Government textbook. I am just surprised Josh didn’t follow it up by kindly explaining to the camera that all barcodes add up to 666.
I will be horribly offended if Josh Howard chokes in the second half like he tended to do last season. Because, in his words, “I don’t believe in that shit.”
Multiple sources said the Grizzlies, who were already hesitant to begin with after long internal discussions about taking on Randolph’s contract, decided to pass on the deal.
You may recall the Grizz wanted the Knicks to make several concessions in the trade, from agreeing to pay a chunk of the deferred portion of the contract to including a first-round pick in the deal. Donnie Walsh declined and left it up to the Grizzlies to come back with a better offer. Instead, they folded.
Z-Bo might be the most unwanted 20-10 guy in the NBA. But what makes this daunting for the Knicks is they now have to bring Randolph into camp after quite obviously trying to trade him. He doesn’t fit into what Mike D’Antoni plans to do with the style — run, run and more running — but the Knicks can’t afford to bury Randolph on the bench because it would only further decrease his already plummeting trade value.
With Memphis out of the conversation, the market of interest in Randolph has pretty much dried up at this point. It is unlikely you will find a team willing to bring in a player with that big of a contract and that much of a character issue — by the way, not hearing great things about his conditioning level, which is alarming — just a week before camps open. Right now the Knicks will probably have to get Randolph playing well enough to showcase and wait for a team to have a need at the power forward position.
The two-year-old case officially ended earlier this month when the NCAA notified Auburn that the school would not face penalties in the case.
The NCAA said the school was guilty only of secondary infractions because it “permitted student-athletes to repeat courses without proper authorization or take courses for excessive credit in a manner inconsistent with institutional policy.”
The case started more than two years ago when a New York Times article alleged that students, including many athletes, were receiving academic credit in independent-study courses for little or no work. Auburn’s investigation ultimately blamed two professors who taught “too many students in too many course sections” and violated university rules by keeping sloppy records.
The university attempted to fire tenured criminal justice professor Thomas Petee (above) for his role in the scandal, but ultimately provided him with a consulting post at Auburn-Montgomery as part of a settlement.
Sociology professor James Gundlach, the whistle-blower whose allegations prompted the report, has retired. In April, Gundlach received the Drake Group’s 2008 Robert Maynard Hutchins Award, which honors an individual “who has shown courage in standing up for academic integrity in the face of commercialized college sports.”
The NCAA said Auburn committed secondary infractions in the 2005-2006 academic year, but there were “no issues related to eligibility for competition as all the student-athletes who repeated a course did so after exhausting eligibility.”