02.26.09

Matt Diaz Blues Explosion Holding Open Auditions in Atlanta

Posted in Baseball, music at 2:39 pm by

“One great thing about rooting for Atlanta sports teams (save Georgia Tech!) is the prevalence of drumlines and other aspects of HBCU culture at the games,” Idolator’s Lucas Jensen writes. I’ll have to take his word on this; I’d always thought the best part of being a Braves fan was knowing that the players you root for go to the same strip club you do. (Or, if you prefer, “make really inspiring pre-game speeches“)

But Jensen does have a point that drumlines are a better, livelier musical entertainment option than the average, and definitely superior to the times when the Mets used to just play Mike Piazza’s King’s X CDs during batting practice. And it could get better still: the Braves are currently holding open auditions for bandmembers. It could be you down there on the field, depending on the kind of chops you display at playing different homonyms. Jensen continues:

The Atlanta Falcons have a drumline that comes out and highsteps along with that Petey Pablo song featured in (yep) Drumline. It’s a great spectacle, and it’s a change of pace from the lily-white pro games in other areas. And the Braves have the Heavy Hitters, and they are holding auditions today and next Thursday:

The Braves are looking for musicians with confidence and charisma, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work games in their entirety every Friday, Saturday and Sunday home game during the season.
PHOTO and VIDEO OPPORTUNITIES: Individuals trying out for the Heavy Hitters drum line will showcase their percussion abilities with instruments including snare, quad, base, and tenor drums, and symbols.
WHERE:
Turner Field
Enter through the Turner Field 755 Club Lobby, off of Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.
Free parking available across the street in the Green Lot
WHEN:
Thursday, Feb. 26 and Wednesday, March 4, 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Wow. I would love to showcase my “base” and “symbol” skills for my favorite baseball team! I know budgets are tight, guys, but could you hire a spellchecker? This does not make me confident for the upcoming season.

Arbitrator Vouches For McCarver’s Lack Of Sophistication

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 1:59 pm by

It’s not just Fred Wilpon and uh, Mike Pelfrey who’ve been taken to the cleaners of late.  Former Mets mouthpiece Tim McCarver was awarded $100,000 in damages stemming from an arbitration claim the broadcaster filed against the Mogan Keegan mutual funds investement firm.  From the Memphis Daily News’ Andy Meek :

McCarver, who once was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and is the namesake of the former Tim McCarver Stadium in Memphis, filed his arbitration claim last year against Morgan Keegan. The company assigned several brokers to work with the baseball icon when he first approached Morgan Keegan about handling his investments, and his claim mentions that as a native Memphian, McCarver liked the fact that Morgan Keegan is headquartered here.

McCarver began to lose money, however, when investments he allowed Morgan Keegan officials to handle were placed in several Regions Morgan Keegan mutual funds that lost the majority of their value during 2007, according to McCarver™s claim.

œHis extremely busy schedule, at first as a player and then as a broadcaster, made it virtually impossible for him to have any other outside business interests, McCarver™s claim reads. œAll investments in McCarver™s accounts were selected by Morgan Keegan. The firm knew that McCarver was a totally unsophisticated investor and that McCarver placed trust and confidence in Morgan Keegan to select specific investments in McCarver™s accounts.

Pylon’s Randy Bewley RIP

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 1:21 pm by

(the following item appeared elsewhere earlier today)

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported earlier today that Pylon guitarist/co-founder Randy Bewley (above, far right) passed away yesterday at the age of 53.

Bewley suffered a heart attack while driving in Athens, GA Monday evening.

Readers of a certain vintage will recall Bewley’s guitar work on songs like “Cool”, “Volume”,  and “Feast On My Heart” bridging whatever stylistic chasm separated Andy Gill from RIcky Wilson.   DFA’s 2007 reissue of Pylon’s 1980 debut LP, ‘Gyrate’ is a good place to start.

Darlington F.C. : Plenty Of Good Seats Still Available

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 12:35 pm by

While hardly a headline-grabber on the level of The Special One refusing to shake hands with Sir Alex, or Arsenal’s Kolo Toure taking his sweet time before emerging from the tunnel after intermisison of Tuesday’s Champion’s League tie with Roma, the financial struggles of League Two’s Darlington are a slightly more substantial story.  The Quakers’ 5th place status in English soccer’s 4th division has them on pace for a playoff spot at season’s end, but an automatic 10 point penalty for going into administration makes such such an achievement highly unlikely.  The Journal’s Mark Douglas neatly summarizes the grim circumstances facing the 126 year old club.

While Manchester United and Arsenal™s Champions League games provided entertainment for free on television, less than 3,000 turned up for the Quakers™ promotion clash with Rochdale on Tuesday night “ half the amount required for the club even to break even. Apathy is not the sole reason that the club finds itself in the hands of administrators for the second time in six years, but it is a major contributing factor. Thanks to the ambition “ some would say vanity “ of former chairman George Reynolds, Darlington are saddled with a superb state-of-the-art arena that houses 27,500 seats but hardly suits a club with League Two status. It has been filled once, for an Elton John concert, while crowds for the football team remain miniscule and the atmosphere awful. Even last season™s promotion push couldn™t get the town out to support the club in big numbers “ and repeated appeals from current chairman George Houghton for more support have fallen on deaf ears.

Reynolds claimed yesterday that the stadium was not too big and would have been filled if the club had made it into the Premier League.

But his wild ambition sounds somewhat jarring as the club spiraled into administration again yesterday, chairman Houghton saying he had œno choice but to relinquish control.

Houghton painted a worrying picture of the club™s ill-health, revealing that Darlington have £4m of debt and are losing £54,000-a-week. Administrator Dave Clark last night placed that debt nearer the £5m mark. Houghton has personally plunged £1.1m into the club since Christmas and, despite repeated appeals for more support, the club™s attendances have seldom broken the 3,000 mark.

Sun-Times’ McNeil Recites Negative Facts About Pax

Posted in Basketball at 11:02 am by

New Jersey “barely resembled the Nets you’ve come to know and (barely) tolerate” writes Dave D’Alessandro of the hosts’ 111-99 defeat of Chicago last night at The Crocodile Hut.  It’s not only Wednesday evening’s victors who are hard to recognize, however, as the Sun-Times’ Dan McNeil claims Bulls GM John Paxson “appears to be morphing into his unpopular predecessor, Jerry Krause. If he packs on a few dozen more pounds, then joylessly wins six NBA championships, he’ll have the act perfected.”

I liked Paxson a lot more when he was among the best analysts on radio. You still can hear his voice on occasion, but these days he analyzes mostly media. This is where he most resembles Krause (above), who referred to local typewriter tappers as ”fiction writers.”

Krause should have been one of this burg’s most beloved figures. No other architect came within a solar system of approaching his level of success, and it wasn’t merely because of that Jordan fellow.

Oddly, Krause chose to promote himself as a dislikable troll. He always wore a scowl. He always was mad at somebody. Sadly, that brash persona overshadowed his enormous accomplishments.

Paxson is approaching Krausian levels of irritability.

He took time aside from generally managing the Bulls late last week for an appearance on ”The Afternoon Saloon” on WMVP-AM (1000). Paxson said he can’t worry about what’s written or said about him. Then he turned around and whined about what has been written and said about him.

Reacting to a report of his declining health, Paxson again alleged that the gatekeepers were manufacturing ”garbage.”

”It doesn’t do me any good to continually defend my position because then I’m not doing my job,” he said.

His job is guiding the Bulls in their journey back to the middle. He doesn’t have them there yet, and it’s not looking like Plan C coach Vinny Del Negro is up to the task.

And why would anybody be suspicious of Paxson’s physical well-being? Might it have something to do with the consistently tired look on his face, now ashen and bloated?

02.25.09

Would Mike Schmidt Have Opted For PED’s In The ’90′s?

Posted in Baseball at 10:14 pm by

“Most likely,” says the former Phillies 3B and Hall Of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt, who suggests “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” where Alex Rodriguez is concerned.   And while it’s nice to see Cole Hamels isn’t the only quote machine working overtime in Clearwater this February, there’s something slightly disingenuous about saying the public should be more concerned with “someone fighting in Iraq” or “Barack Obama”.  A-Rod’s celebrity, if not his enormous earning power, was built on the back of individual accomplishments that might’ve been tougher to achieve without the benefit of performance enchancing drugs.  If Schmidt isn’t personally offended by Rodriguez’ deeds or inability to tell the truth, that’s fair enough — a less than hysterical reaction to the subject is admirable.  But if we’re really supposed to live in a culture where no one has strong feelings about the exploits of professional athletes, guys like Schmidt will have to earn a living wearing something besides pyjamas in public.

Farewell To The Red & The Green (Books) ; Chass Denied Precious Reference Materials

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening, Sports Journalism at 9:46 pm by

Major League Baseball announced earlier today they’ll cease publication of printed versions of the Red and Green books, the venerable media guides for the American and National Leagues that David Pinto calls “staples of baseball researchers before computerized stats came along”. Though MLB promises to make a PDF version available to working media, said pledge is slim consolation to Murray Chass who protests, “I am too devastated and outraged to write anything else at the moment,” before writing quite a bit else on the matter.

Baseball officials would say the books died of atrophy. No one was using them any more. But I used them, often on a daily basis. They sit on a shelf an arm™s length away from my desk. I can get them that quickly when I need information from them.

One explanation given for the elimination of the printed books is the repetition of some of the elements of the books. The previous season™s statistics, for example, are in the average book that is published after the season. Rosters of the 30 teams appear in the spring training media guide.

But once spring training ends and the season starts, the spring training guide is put away, and the Red and Green Books become the references of choice. I don™t blame MLB for abolishing the books. I wish they hadn™t, but if they find that no one uses them, it™s just another unfortunate development of today™s coverage of baseball.

Younger writers, more attuned to the use of the Internet than their older colleagues, may not have a problem with the disappearance of the books. But in past years they didn™t have the Internet as an alternative reference site. They apparently just didn™t feel the need for any information the books provided.

That says more about them than it does about baseball™s decision.

Yanks’ Trost Patiently Explains To Fans Exactly How They’ve Been Screwed

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 9:13 pm by

Now available at WFAN.com :  Yankees CEO Lonn Trost (above) rebuts oh so many nasty accusations surrounding claims of ill-treatment by his ballclub’s season ticket holders in a chat with noted consumer rights advocate Mike Franscesca.  How much are standing room only tickets at the new Yankee Stadium?  “$1000.00″ chuckled Trost, who is still willing, in all seriousness, to charge $325 per seat for a Wendesday, April 22 matinee against the A’s in what isn’t even close to the venue’s priciest location.

Inside the People’s Republic of Baseball: Triple Canopy’s Patrick Clark on the Dominican Game

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:54 pm by

The absence of venues for serious sportswriting is one of my stock bitches. This is in part because it’s true, although that kind of tracks with the decline in high-profile venues for good writing, period. But it’s also because I like to imagine that a dearth of deserving venues is the only thing keeping me from writing that sprawling, deeply felt and powerfully composed 3500-word feature on, like, the A-11 offense or the weirdness of going to a NBA game or whatever it is that seems important to me at the moment.

But there’s another way to write that piece, which is embodied in Patrick Clark’s elegant, eloquent and strikingly thoughtful piece on baseball in the Dominican Republic at Triple Canopy. And that is simply to take the risk of researching and writing it, then trust your lower-profile venue to do right by it. (Triple Canopy is a web magazine run in part by Sam Frank, who’s a frequent CSTB tipster and all-around friend of the program) Dominican baseball is something most baseball fans have read about, although usually through little picaresqued moments of color like Felix Pie (above) having to borrow cleats for his first MLB tryout or glibbish pieces about scouting — but never really with any sense of the desperation, depth or cultural import of the game in that country. Clark gets at all those things not by pounding out a mournful, Zirin-y think-piece about the exploitation built into the game, but by actually going to the Dominican and hanging around prospects, buscons — the word translates roughly to “pimp,” and refers to the trainer/coach/agent hybrids who are the cornerstone of Dominican scouting — and their baseball academies. That Clark wrote the hell out of the piece that resulted is to his credit, but the reporting is what makes the article really work, and really different from essentially all of what’s out there to read on this subject.

The whole piece is worth reading (and looking at, as there are photos mixed in), and its flow and depth makes it difficult to excerpt. Know that it’s recommended highly, and that the bit below is just a taste.

I™d come to the DR curious about what baseball costs boys like Priki [Ignacio, a prospect under the wing of buscon Juan Cedeño], and certainly, it™s hard to watch a teenager languish in isolation, out of school, hanging all his hopes on a baseball dream. There™s no question Priki faces incredibly long odds; the numbers dictate he will have washed out within a few years, with little to show for his prodigious efforts: no education, scant savings, few job prospects. I didn™t meet many people willing to criticize the place of baseball in the lives of Dominican youth, but those few I did would point me to the motorcycle-taxi drivers. Those are your baseball players, they™d say.

Baseball men claim that the sport offers other benefits: the food and shelter that Cedeño pointed to, or, commonly, that the clubs teach English to their charges. But when I met an American who worked at one of the academies, he told me that his club was hardly invested in teaching English: Most of the players will never make it to America, so why waste the time and effort? As Cedeño told me, a prospect must focus on only one thing.

And yet, it isn™t baseball that™s keeping Priki and his peers out of school. Lack of education is a national, systemic problem; while I wasn™t able to pin Priki or Cedeño down on an answer, I can guess that even without baseball, Priki would have been out of school by the time he was twelve or thirteen. I met other ballplayers who practiced by day and attended school by night, but they are more exception than norm. Meanwhile, Priki™s agreement with Cedeño allows him a richer material life than he had in Los Minas, a neighborhood that generally draws electricity from the power grid for less than twelve hours a day.

Nor can I help but think his efforts provide their own rewards. In college, my baseball coaches used to harp on the sacrifices of time and effort you made to be an athlete: that you worked hard because hard work was a good thing. At eighteen, I found their exhortations to have something of a false ring. Now, watching Priki labor day after identical day, I can believe in the value”unquantifiable, and perhaps only private”of the rigorous pursuit of an improbable dream.

Chesney, Urban, Bentley Could Be Next

Posted in Gridiron, History's Great Hook-Ups at 2:04 pm by

ESPN.com headline: Bucs to release Brooks, Dunn