02.28.09

Zirin On The Government’s Collapsing Case Against The Sultan Of Surly

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, The Law at 9:21 pm by

Barry Bonds’ trial on perjury charges was delayed indefinitely Friday when federal prosecutors elected to appeal U.S. District Judge Susan Illston‘s ruling that portions of their evidence weren’t admissible.  Full credit then, to the Nation’s Dave Zirin (“without Greg Anderson, the state’s case was always weak. But now it is on serious life support”), who saw this one coming down the pike several days ago (link courtesy Ben Schwartz)

Illston’s ruling was an indictment of not only the government’s case but its entire approach toward Bonds from day one. John Ashcroft’s Justice Department always seemed irrationally determined to prosecute Bonds. It was as obsessive as the fisherman Santiago attempting to bring home the great marlin in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Whether or not you are a Barry Bonds fan, or consider him to be just a step above a seal-clubbing, pitbull-fighting bank executive, every person of good conscience should be aghast at the way the Justice Department has gone about its business. Barry Bonds, Greg Anderson and maybe thousands of others have had their rights trampled on, all for the glory of a perjury case that looks to be going absolutely nowhere. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama have strongly indicated that the government is getting out of the steroid monitoring business. That is welcome, but after so many years, so many tax dollars and so many reputations destroyed, it all feels positively Pyrrhic.

At the end of The Old Man and the Sea, when Santiago finally returns to shore, his 18-foot catch has been reduced to a skeleton. A crowd gathers to gawk and imagine what the magnificent marlin once was. Santiago completed his journey with nothing, but he felt purified for the battle and slept deeply and proudly. As we pick through the bones of Barry Bonds, I can’t imagine Jeff Novitzky feels the same.

Spurs’ Pavlyuchenko Aspires To The Status Of Noted Snob

Posted in Football at 7:40 pm by

How’s this for stirring the pot prior to Sunday’s Worthless Carling Cup Final?  It should take more than a small bit of badge-kissing for Spurs’ recent acquisition from Spartak Moscow to live this one down.  From the Daily Mail’s William Stewart :

Asked by a Russian journalist whether he wanted to play for United, Tottenham’s Roman Pavlyuchenko (above) declared: “It would be wrong not to dream about this.

“I have realised that the English Premier League is exactly why you should start playing football in the first place.

“And Manchester United is the leader of it. Once your first dream comes true you must start dreaming of another target.”

But in saying how pleased he was to team up with Robbie Keane at Spurs, he was scathing about Berbatov, who made the move from White Hart Lane to Old Trafford.

“Robbie Keane returned to the Spurs as if he never left the club,” he told Gazeta Daily in Moscow.

“It’s evident that he’s a man of authority inside the team which is good for us. He was always liked as far as I can judge.

“If Berbatov returned it would be taken quite differently. I heard tales that he was an arrogant snob who after a training session would just throw his dirty boots to the man who takes care of our footwear saying: ‘Clean them for me!’

“No one likes such people. Still he’s now playing for Manchester United.”

Palace’s Warnock Graciously Invites A Football League Executive On An All-Expenses Paid Holiday

Posted in Football, Free Expression at 2:09 pm by

Crystal Palace — mired in 14th place in the Championship —could’ve well done with this afternoon off, given the sort of fixture congestion that awaits the South London club.  “I have to be careful what I say as it is obviously tea and coffee money for the FA,” mutters manager Neil Warnock (above, left, photographed with another fella who isn’t in a great mood tonight), who thankfully for readers of the Independent, isn’t nearly so careful about what he writes.

On Wednesday I found we now have to play Burnley on a Wednesday night, 11 March, instead of the Tuesday, because they are involved in the FA Cup the previous Sunday. Having got £300,000 for the TV coverage of that match, plus the gate money, we have to change to accommodate them. Apparently it is a rule which was brought in because of my then club Sheffield United’s involvement in the semi-final against Arsenal in 2003 when we had to play Nottingham Forest two days later. So I’ve been personally done twice.

Why am I so upset? Because in six days we now play Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley away. We will get back to Palace from Burnley at 4am on the Thursday “ so there will be no training that day. We set off for Swansea on Friday morning returning at 11pm. After Sunday off we travel to Barnsley on Monday. So the team are playing in three long-distance matches on the road in the space of six days “ they will be travelling 1,256 miles. So will our fans. Yet we have eight days’ spare at the end of the season between the last two games. The fixture guys are saying we cannot play then. Obviously there could be tornadoes developing.

I ask you, first the FA, now the Football League, it has got me thinking it has to be pay-back time. Do you think Alex Ferguson or any of the others would be asked to do this? Is there any wonder we complain, and ask the question, “why are amateurs running the game?” It is obvious to me the people making the decision on the fixtures and on the commission cannot have played the game.

I tried to ring Dave Cookson and Paul Snell, who I’m told are the officials responsible at the Football League, but they have had to deal with more important business with the Carling Cup. I wouldn’t think Crystal Palace are high up on their agenda.

I want to invite Dave to travel with me for those six days as my guest. I will personally pay his travel, accommodation and expenses to be with me. That is the only way to show people sat in an office making decisions like this just how ridiculous it is. I’m still waiting for an answer.

Exactly How Much Would Frank McCourt Like To Charge Manny Ramirez To Play Baseball?

Posted in Baseball at 1:35 pm by

While at least one columnist reports Scott Boras has demanded an additional $10 million (on top of the prior $45 million proposed over two years) from the Dodgers in order to deliver Manny Ramirez to spring training, an item in Saturday’s LA Times suggests the counter offer isn’t purely down to greed on the part of player and agent.  Could it be that Dodgers ownership simply won’t have the loot to make payroll?

The fine print of Boras’ proposed deal was significantly different from McCourt’s in that it requested that no part of Ramirez’s salary be deferred. McCourt wanted to defer most of Ramirez’s salary, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were still in progress.

Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would have received $10 million this year. And by exercising the option for the second year of the deal, he would’ve received $10 million in 2010.

Ramirez would have been paid the remaining $25 million over the next three years without any added interest. He would’ve received $10 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013.

Asked if the Dodgers had any problems with cash flow or concerns about their projected revenues that would deter them from paying Ramirez’s entire salary in the year it was earned, spokesman Charles Steinberg replied, “I have no idea.”

Colletti acknowledged Friday that the Dodgers’ offer included deferred payments but refused to detail them.

“The deferred component was part of the deal from the very beginning,” Colletti said.

Boras acknowledged that, saying it was why he asked for more money in his initial counterproposal to the Dodgers’ latest offer. Boras requested a two-year, $55-million contract that included a player option for the second year, according to sources.

The Times’ Brian Kamenetzky has had just about enough of this story, writing “Like ’24′ somewhere around the middle of Season 5, I’ve officially lost patience with this program.”

I’m tired of sources close to the negotiations and individuals with knowledge of the situation, all speaking in shadows like Deep Throat in a parking garage. As much as I want the Blue to be competitive and interesting — it’s a lot more fun to be around the park when the team is competitive and interesting, and they risk being neither without ManRam — I’m this close to hoping some other team swoops in with a last-minute offer even if it means Boras is vindicated when it’s done.  At least the ending will have a twist.

If you had told Frank McCourt he could have Manny back next season for somewhere in the neighborhood of two years/$45 million, he’d have jumped on it in a heartbeat.  As my dad likes to tell me, the enemy of good is better. Don’t be greedy and overplay the hand.  It’s OK to overbid on Manny if it means the nearly four million folks who fill the stadium and buy jerseys and wigs and pony up for parking will have good reason to make up the difference, especially when the payroll will be lower than last season’s even with Manny on board.

Never Too Early To Panic : Santana Might Miss Mets Opener

Posted in Baseball at 1:19 pm by

There’s an Associated Press report making the rounds which cites Johan Santana’s elbow stiffness as possibly keeping the Mets’ starter out of action for a further spell ; the talismanic lefty has already been bumped from two scheduled exhibition starts.  From the New York Daily News‘ Adam Rubin :

Santana says doctors told him it’s the triceps tendon that is causing stiffness in his pitching elbow. With pitching coach Dan Warthen and manager Jerry Manuel already on the bus for Lakeland, Fla., Santana said he’ll wait until Sunday to map out a plan for pitching. But it’s clear he won’t be in a Grapefruit League game for a while. Santana said he hopes to throw a light bullpen session on Sunday. He then wants to face hitters in a batting-practice-style setting two or three times before entering a game. With potentially two days rest in between each BP, we’re possibly talking two weeks before a game appearance.

Live From Withdean Stadium : A Tweetastic Take On Brighton vs. Crewe Alexandria

Posted in Football at 9:30 am by

(Crewe manager Gudjon Thordarson, unamused by any suggestion that he once played bass for Purrkur Pilnik)


follow CSTB at http://twitter.com

Kick off is at 3pm GMT and I’m pretty sure you can count on my fellow patrons being highly annoyed at my 90 minutes of iPhone activity during what should be an otherwise thrilling League One relegation battle.  How long before Twittering in public joins racist chanting on the list of offenses that justify ejection?

Commemorating A 9 Figure Investment In A Face Stomping (Former) Titan

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron at 6:47 am by

“What recession?” chuckled WFAN’s Richard Neer upon hearing news of the Redskins inking DT Albert Haynesworth to a 7-years, $100 million pact on Friday.  And while only $41 million of that amount is guaranteed, the otherwise celebratory Chris Mottram of Mr. Irrelevant is all-too aware Haynesworth is just the latest in a long line of veteran superstars who’ve cashed in big time during Dan Snyder’s reign of error.  That said, this isn’t Bruce Smith or Deion Sanders at the end of the line, and while Washington’s new acquisition oughta be enough to give Giants fans pause, there’s at least one person with a rooting interest in Indy who is pleased with the move.

This means Fat Albert, a guy who routinely took plays off and once stepped on an opposing player’s face with his cleats, is the highest paid defensive player in football. For us, the positive is this fat tub of crap is out of the AFC South. Sure, he was lazy. He was also damn talented. When he finally did put his mind to something, he was hard to block. For Titans fans, this loss is the equivalent of the Colts losing Peyton Manning. Haynesworth WAS the Titans. He was their best player. He was the lynch pin that held their outstanding defense together. Now, in the span of two years, the Titans have lost defensive linemen Travis LaBoy, Antwaan Odom, Antonio Johnson, and Haynesworth. That’s a lost of talent left to walk away.

02.27.09

Stephon Marbury’s Exit Interview

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression at 9:36 pm by

Indeed, there are some at MSG “who know how to show people love”.   While Stephon has two points at halftime of tonight’s Pacers/Celtics tilt, I’m certain Knicks fans will appreciate the classy thoughts expressed above, and shall wish their former inspirational leader nothing but the best in his pursuit of an NBA Championship.

If Bernie Madoff Can Make It To Citi Field’s Grand Opening, Upper Playground Has His Cap All Picked Out

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 9:00 pm by

Hey, even white collar criminals need to look stylish.  The above New York Pickpockets lid is part of Upper Playground’s imaginary baseball league, which includes designs for the San Francisco Panhandlers and Chicago Racketeers.  If the league expands, maybe Joe Beimel can sign with the Los Angeles Likely Stories?

Francesca : I’ll Outlast Ryan Church

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 7:47 pm by

Freddy Garcia allowed 4 runs and walked 3 in two-thirds of an inning pitched earlier today, as the Mets suffered their first Grapefruit League loss of ’09 to St. Louis, 9-8.  Afterwards, WFAN’s Mike Francesca chatted with GM Omar Minaya, prefacing the conversation with an allusion to “two of your guys that hate me”.  The “Mike’d Up” host was referring to multiple concussion victim Ryan Church (previously labeled “a liar” by Francesca) and 3B David Wright.  From Newsday’s Neil Best (link courtesy Brooklyn Mutt) :

Had flashbacks to my Giants beat days today as Mike Francesa discussed the Mets’ David Wright and Ryan Church boycotting his show (and declining even to meet with him off the air) because of assorted comments about them last season.

Francesa on Church: “I don™t really care if Church comes on the show now or forever. Church is going to be out of New York long before I™m going to worry about whether he comes on my show or not. He™s not a big deal in any way.”

Francesa on Wright: “I think he™s being very immature because he™s had a straight ascendancy and he doesn™t want any criticism . . . He needs to grow up.”

The genesis of Francesca’s feud with Church is an earlier claim by the former that the Mets’ oft-disabled RF wanted to leave New York. When Church denied the report, Francesca cited unidentified sources inside the Mets clubhouse — persons he’s still yet to identify.