03.24.09

Rule #1 When Attending An Indie Wrestling Event : Don’t Ask Jim Fullington About 9/11

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling, Total Fucking Terror at 3:17 pm by

Unless of course, you’ve got all day. In which case the Sandman seems quite willing to oblige.

A $6 Beer In The Bronx Is Apparently A Bargain

Posted in Baseball, Beer, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 2:56 pm by

The New York Yankees issued a press release earlier today trumpeting the multitude of food and drink options available at their soon-to-open new palace, promising “a window found in the left-field concourse of the Field Level where fans can see butchers from Lobel’s of New York preparing prime, dry-aged steaks”.  If, however, you’re stuck upstairs with the rest of the peasants, the Bombers have wonderful news for you, too.

The Yankees continue to offer exceptional value on food and merchandise. They are offering a $3 hot dog, a $3 soft drink and a $6 beer. Traditional Stadium fare, such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, sausages and Cracker Jack, remain the same price as last season. New sizes of soda, many including a souvenir cup, are offered at a variety of prices. In addition, a Family Value Line of merchandise has been created with low-priced items, including pennants, Yankees T-shirts, key chains, and more.

Granted, this is New York City and there’s already a paucity of establishments were you can get drunk for under $20 (though a corner bodega comes to mind).  But there is something intensely creepy about bragging of the filet mignon on offer while throwing some consolation hot dogs and key chains towards the great unwashed.

The C in CSTB is for Chico: WaPo’s Harlan (Again) On Marquis Grissom’s Second Act

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:57 pm by

What Politico is to cheesily Drudge-baiting, manufactured political scandals, I am to Washington Post sportswriter Chico Harlan. I own this beat. Power and speed. Win the news cycle. Cover the fuck out of a guy I didn’t really actually know existed until like a month ago. Sorry.

But: but Harlan’s long story in the Post today on Marquis Grissom — longtime Big Leaguer and current Nationals coach — is really good. (Makes you wonder what Harlan could write if he wasn’t so embarrassed to be covering stories like this instead of, you know, food) Grissom was a guy I always kind of dug as a player — cool name; always on non-threatening-to-the-Mets teams; the fact that he essentially had the same season in three-fourths of his big league campaigns. His brief resurfacing a year or so back as an apostle of black baseball was also intriguing. But simply by asking good questions without looking for some cheap-heat Wally Matthews angle and letting his subject talk, Harlan has revealed a guy who has to qualify as one of the more admirable and interesting baseball personalities I can think of. Here:

His parents, Marion and Julia, had once earned 50 cents per hour picking cotton. Marion had built the Grissom house from scratch, front doors always open wide, food from the garden available for whatever nieces and nephews stopped by. The Grissoms had 15 kids of their own. Marquis was the second-youngest.

“I went from drawing water out of a well and burning a stove for heat in the house to making $1.5 million,” he said. That’s when he started buying the houses.

First he gave a house to his baby sister, just because she was the baby. That cost Grissom $78,000. He paid in cash, and because his salary kept rising — $3.575 million in 1994, $4.95 million in 1995 — he kept buying more houses, paying them off in an instant. He bought a house for his parents. He bought the nicest house for his sister Barbara, who always took care of him. For one brother, he threw in a car, too. Sometimes, he let the siblings pick out the property, or at least the neighborhood. He asked them to stay within a price range — about $215,000. He bought a house for every brother and sister.

Not every sibling flourished — one of his brothers was on drugs — and Grissom worried about how the handouts might set a bad precedent. So he talked to them about how to use the money saved on house payments for education, for their kids’ college. The houses weren’t just places to live; they were parts of a foundation.

…He kept thinking about something bigger, spreading the foundation beyond family. That’s when he started building fields.

The Marquis Grissom Baseball Association was granted nonprofit status in 2006. Grissom wanted to mass-produce the good fortune that gave him a chance, which meant a lot of work. Kids in the Atlanta area needed gloves, fields, funding, coaching, attention. Grissom tried to create all of that. The MGBA had (and has) two employees, counting its namesake.

But its burden — and its potential — expanded quickly. In the first year, Grissom rebuilt an old baseball complex, laying the chalk, painting the dugouts, buying the foul poles. (“Two of ‘em will set you back $1,500,” he said.) He talked to Coca-Cola about scoreboards and a local gravel company about warning tracks. Soon, Grissom’s association was responsible for dozens of teams and at least 200 kids, 7 and older. Grissom paid for many of their registration fees, burning more than $500,000 of his own money. He picked some of the kids up from school. Sometimes, he paid for their meals, too.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

An Awful Lot Of Effort To Lobby For Jose Valentin’s Employment

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 11:26 am by

B. Valentine, R. Jeremy, hopefully unavailable for comment.

03.23.09

Hate the Players, Also Hate the Game: WaPo’s Harlan Takes It Back

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Free Expression at 10:37 pm by

Chico Harlan was 26 years old when a college buddy at the Washington Post helped bring him aboard as the paper’s chief Nationals correspondent, which is either an amazing job or something much shittier, depending on how you feel about interviewing Austin Kearns 190 times a year or trying to capture the magnificence of an Adam Dunn practical joke while on deadline. It’s not necessarily a job I’d want, probably, but one of my big shortcomings in general is that I kind of can’t come up with any jobs I’d necessarily want.

But for most people who want to write about sports a full-time gig at the Post at that age would be pretty sweet. The downside of it, besides the aforementioned Kearns-interviewing and the possibility of being dissed in a Lastings Milledge song: you’re still 26 when you have the job, which means you’re kind of still figuring out how to be a person. When I was 26, I was punching in hung-over at Topps every day and doing laundry like five times a year. (If I’d done something cooler when I was that age, believe me, I’d mention it) When Chico Harlan was 26 — which is right about now, for those just joining us — he was all brash and youngish and self-conscious and therefore prone to saying impertinent and stupid things to reporters for weird D.C. area magazines. Things like this, which he said to the Washingtonian’s Harry Jaffe in an article that went up today:

œI don™t like sports”I am embarrassed that I cover them. I can™t wait to stop. It is a means to an end and a paycheck.

So…whoops, right? Harlan apologizes for misjudging the thin line between “candor” and “baffling, potentially career-killing snobbery” in a post at his WaPo Nats blog:

The quote is accurate. The sentiment is not. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for my job. I know I’m lucky as heck to do what I do…Maybe it’s worth explaining the conversation that led me to the I-hate-sports declaration. When I first started talking to Harry Jaffe, the journalist who talked to me for the piece, we were discussing my background, my childhood love for baseball, the fact that I played it as a teenager, etc. I didn’t want to be portrayed, though, as some central casting sportswriter: the sort who always dreamed of athletic glory, lacked the skills, and chose the next best thing. That’s not me. I wanted the make the point that I have other interests, many more. I suppose I made that point with an inartful tap of the sledgehammer.

I remember when I wanted to appear to be…some way or other. I do my laundry more often now, at least. Thanks to Garey Ris — who does the WSJ’s Daily Fix when I’m not doing it (I did it today, he does it Tuesday) — for the links.

Matthews : Villainous Yanks Guarantee Mets’ Teflon Status

Posted in Baseball at 10:34 pm by

“Imagine a world without Yankees,” sneers Newsday‘s resident Met-baiter Wallace Matthews.  “no 26 world championship banners flying in the Bronx, no Monument Park to remind us of all the exalted ghosts who helped hoist the…no Bob Sheppard, no Robert Merrill, no Challenger the Bald Eagle, no Ronan Tynan. No John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. No – heaven forbid! – Derek Jeter….In a world without Yankees, the Mets would have a whole lot more to answer for.”

In a town that prides itself on giving no free rides, the Mets have enjoyed a lifetime Metro card into blissful anonymity for most of their 47-year history.

They build an $800-million ballpark (Troubled Assets Relief Program Field) financed in large part by government subsidies and taxpayer bailout money, and nobody gives a damn because the Yankees did the same thing, only on a bigger scale, in the Bronx.

The Mets raise their highest ticket prices to nearly $300 a seat, which in most locales would be a scandal and an obscenity, and compared to the Yankees, they look like a discount store.

The Mets spend more on ballplayers than all but one other team in Major League Baseball. But because that one team is the Yankees, who outspend their nearest competitor by the value of the entire Colorado Rockies roster, nobody cares.

I would submit that never in the history of organized professional sports has a team benefited so greatly from constantly running second in a two-horse race.

“Nobody cares?”  That’s a hell of a way to talk about Joe Benigno-Gazingo and his loyal listeners.

Paging Nate Jones & Other Members Of The Twit Police

Posted in Basketball, The Internet at 6:26 pm by

My friend Howard Beck at the New York Times sent a link to the Twitter feed somebody has set up in Jerry Sloan’s honor. It’s at http://twitter.com/jerrysloan and is very well done. I told Sloan somebody was now imitating him on Twitter and he asked if it had something to do with farming.

Just for the record, the purported Kyle Korver feed is not Korver’s. He has steered clear from MySpace, Facebook and everything else. – Ross Siler, Salt Lake Tribune, March 23, 2009

Shy, Retiring Everquest Enthusiast/Blogger Retires (From Baseball)

Posted in Baseball at 4:33 pm by

“To say I™ve been blessed would be like calling Refrigerator Perry ‘a bit overweight’,” gushes P Curt Schilling, using his WEEI.com hosted 38 Pitches to announce his formal retirement after 23 years in the game. While thanking wife Shonda, his four children and (natch) Jesus Christ, Schilling failed to acknowledge Randy Johnson, Manny Ramirez, Mitch Williams, John McCain or Barry Bonds on this fateful day.

Four World Series, three World Championships. That there are men with plaques in Cooperstown who never experienced one ” and I was able to be on three teams over seven years that won it all ” is another œbeyond my wildest dreams set of memories I™ll take with me.

The game always gave me far more than I ever gave it. All of those things, every single one of those memories is enveloped with fan sights and sounds for me. Without the fans, they would still be great memories, but none would be enduring and unforgettable because they infused the energy, rage, passion and œfeel of all of those times. The game was here long before I was, and will be here long after I™m gone. The only thing I hope I did was never put in question my love for the game, or my passion to be counted on when it mattered most. I did everything I could to win every time I was handed the ball.

I am and always will be more grateful than any of you could ever possibly know.

French Audience Exposed To Chass’ Hard-On For Mike Piazza

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, General, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 4:22 pm by

Murray Chass’ continued insistence that retired C Mike Piazza was a PED user is fast becoming The Backne Heard ‘Round The World.  Quoting passages from Jeff Pearlman’s forthcoming ‘The Rocket Who Fell To Earth’ that alluded to Metal Mike’s backne, Chass (above) launched yet another offensive on Piazza via the auspices of Le Herald De Paris.

I must have received half a dozen reasons for why Piazza shed his acne, but the critics, besides stepping all over each other trying to excuse and explain their hero, ignored the critical factor. The acne disappeared as soon as Piazza was faced with random testing and that as soon as Major League Baseball began conducting suspension-inducing tests for steroids use in 2004, Piazza™s back became clear and smooth. No more acne, just like that.

I don™t know if Piazza used steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs. I never said in the column that he did. I raised the possibility, citing his acne as circumstantial evidence. Bloggers, I am told, had a field day with the column, but I have spared myself the pleasure of reading what they wrote.

I have had more important things to read, Pearlman™s book, for example. Writing about Piazza, Pearlman outlines his development as a player, noting that as a walk-on as a freshman at the University of Miami he had one hit in nine times at bat. This was the player who a reader, who said he had been Piazza™s roommate and teammate at Miami, described as œa hard worker and a great hitter with tremendous power.

Considering how serious a baseball school Miami is, it seems likely that such a great hitter with tremendous power would make a greater impression and get more playing time than 1-for-9.

Always Amazin‘s Matthew Artus has observed what he considers Chass’ vendetta, and opines that Murray is “resorting to waving like a lunatic, screaming, ‘Hey, look at me! Pearlman saw the backne, too! I’m right!’”

For the record, Mike Piazza did not attend the University of Miami. He attended Miami Dade College, a community college in Florida. A hotshot catcher for the U would get noticed a lot quicker, but a walk-on catcher in JuCo has a few more hills to climb. That’s how someone goes 1-for-9 as a freshman. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

I have no idea what Chass’s motives are for his witch hunt against Piazza. He’s not cleaning up the game, as the PED-enhanced cloud created by the likes of Bonds, Palmeiro, McGwire, and A-Rod more than build up the cynicism in today’s baseball fan. There isn’t a player since 1990 that would surprise me regarding steroids, from Nolan Ryan up to and beyond Piazza.

And what does Chass stand to gain? Recognition from the NY Post? Does he miss writing for a mainstream newspaper so much that he’d stoop to name-calling and potentially libelous statements? Wallace Matthews of Newsday is bush league compared to Chass.

Vaccaro On Davey Johnson Leaving Roy O. Out There To Die

Posted in Baseball at 12:48 pm by

“Roy Oswalt kept throwing baseballs to those Japanese hitters,” laments the New York Post‘s Brenda Mike Vaccaro after Team USA’s 9-4 semi-final exit at the hands of Japan last night.  “Davey Johnson, the manager of the team, kept seeing what everyone else was seeing, saw the Japanese cuffing Oswalt around. And he did nothing.”  If you’re to believe the game analysis of ESPN’s Joe Morgan, Johnson is answerable to concerns of Astros fans, who presumably want nothing more than to see Oswalt throw batting practice on national television.

“Maybe I could have gotten Grabow up a little sooner,” Johnson later would lament. “But I really thought Oswalt was throwing the ball pretty good. I felt good about what he was doing out there.”

If anything, there may be odd comfort in Johnson copping to a bad strategic decision, rather than one mandated by outside influences. Earlier in the tournament, it was clear that Johnson allowed Jake Peavey to absorb a vicious pounding from Puerto Rico in order to serve his second master: allowing his players to “get their work” in what remains prime spring-training time.

It was just one of a thousand reminders that no matter how cool this tournament may be and it is and how good for baseball it might be – and it is, with tonight’s Korea-Japan game sure to be a wonderful scene that will be viewed, maybe, by 62 U.S. citizens it needs the U.S. to be a powerful source, a constant presence.

This was at least better than 2006, when the U.S. failed to even qualify for the final four. But throughout the U.S. stay in this WBC, even when it flashed the potential of what the event can be with their dramatic ninth-inning win against Puerto Rico last week, there has remained a backdrop of alternate concern: keep everyone healthy, keep them on track for Opening Day. Keep their routines.

Which is why it looked so dreadful for Johnson to stick with Oswalt, when it looked like a chance at the finals was being sacrificed in the name of reaching a pitch count. For what may be the first time in baseball history, it turns out that it was a good thing that a manager simply was managing poorly. Rather than irresponsibly.

Yankee Sod Shipping Soon (Howard Rubenstein Manure Available Now)

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 10:02 am by

“A tuft for the windowsill? A pallet for the backyard?” wonders the New York Times’ John Branch, unveiling the latest product to bear the Bombers’ trademark.

œIt™s just capitalizing on what we have and what we™ve done, said Rick DeLea, vice president of DeLea Sod Farms, which his grandfather founded in 1928 and has supplied turf for Yankee Stadium since the 1960s.

On a recent morning, Mr. DeLea swept his hand across a portion of the 80 acres of Yankees Sod on a vast hillside in South Jersey. Last fall, some of the secret blend of bluegrass was peeled in broad strips, hauled north on trucks and laid inside the new Yankee Stadium. But most of it was still here, greening under a late-winter sun.

œIt™s going to be one of those ˜Why didn™t I think of that?™ stories, said David Andres, the energetic and entrepreneurial man who came up with the idea of selling sod and grass to fans.

Mr. Andres, a self-described œsell ice to Eskimos kind of guy, took the idea of licensing the product to the Yankees and Major League Baseball. He received the requisite stamps of approval and started a company called Stadium Associates to market Yankees Sod and Yankees Grass Seed.

It makes one wonder if other licensed permutations will follow ” Cubs Ivy or Daytona Asphalt or Cameron Indoor Hardwood Floors, using the same vine, road mix or batch of trees as the sports arenas.

Gang Green Prepared To Diss Kellen Clemens For The Second Consecutive Season

Posted in Gridiron at 9:50 am by

The New York Daily News’ Gary Myers reports this morning that Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, presumably unwilling to start next season with a QB tandem of Kellen Clemens and Times music critic Brett Ratliff, has contacted the Broncos regarding their estranged starlet Jay Cutler.

The Jets are definitely in the Cutler Derby. They will closely monitor the situation and are prepared to put together a package when the Broncos tell them the time has arrived. “Of course the Jets want Cutler,” one source said. “Why wouldn’t they?”

The Broncos want to meet one more time with Cutler to see if they can end his feud with rookie coach Josh McDaniels before they start soliciting offers.

Tannenbaum, coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer were in Manhattan, Kan., last week to work out Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, who may be working his way into the top half of the first round. The Jets are picking 17th on April 25. Ryan said Sunday he liked what he saw of Freeman. Ryan also said the Jets will work out Southern Cal QB Matt Sanchez this week while he and Tannenbaum are on the West Coast for the league meetings. Sanchez has been training in Southern California. They are not spending much time on Georgia’s Matt Stafford, expected to go No. 1 to the Lions.

If nothing changes, Ryan said Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff will go into training camp as “1 and 1-A. Clemens may get the first snap, but then 1-A is Ratliff. This is clearly an open competition. Erik Ainge, if he comes around and lights it up, he will be in there.”

03.22.09

The McCulloch That Didn’t Sing “Do It Clean” Is Ducking Real Competition

Posted in Basketball, Pinball, Sports TV at 8:32 pm by

I intend no disrespect to former Net Todd McCulloch, but if he’s not competing against Tara Key, how professional is the pro pinball League supposed to be?  That’s kind of like a World Baseball Classic with Mark DeRosa playing first base.

Q: What’s The Difference Between This CSTB Post And The Bathroom At CBGB?

Posted in History's Great Hook-Ups, New York, New York, Rock Und Roll at 2:59 pm by

A: In an emergency, you can take a shit on this entry.

Until the Harris From Letch Patrol Birthplace & Museum Opens, this will have to do; from The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Annex.com (link courtesy Brooklyn Mutt).  I’ve not been to see Mercer Street’s loving recreation of the famed CBGB awning, mostly because I spend most of my time in New York pouring through the racks of the Ned Hayden John Varatos Record Canteen.   But my head is spinning at the wonders that oughta be displayed at this exhibit ; Rude Buddha flyers, Bill Popp & The Tapes setlists, a Texas Instruments calculator (still in the box, never opened), Copernicus’ smoking jacket, etc.

Sir Alex Channels James C. Whiting III : Are Manchester United Doing More With Less?

Posted in Football at 2:28 pm by

Putting aside for a moment Steven Gerrard’s thorough humiliation of Aston Villa earlier today, Alex Ferguson recently refuted a claim by rival Rafael Benitez that Manchester United had outspent Liverpool by more than £100 million. While, least one paper sides with Rafa in this pissing match, WSC Daily considers who might benefit from Liverpool’s largesse.

Sir Alex duly announced that Benitez had out-spent him by £24m and that the gap would widen this summer: “There’s talk about a recession but I don’t think there will be one at Liverpool this year.” Newspaper research in the wake of this spat suggests that the two clubs are roughly equal in net spending. But Liverpool may indeed forge ahead in the close season if the club follow through with a widely quoted promise to give Rafa Benitez at least £30m on top of what can be raised by player sales. His first target is the same one as last year, Gareth Barry (above), from today’s opponents Aston Villa.

It was reported this week that Barry has instructed his agent not to discuss extending his contract with Villa, which is due to expire at the end of 2010-11. Even Martin O’Neill, who was vehemently opposed to losing the player last summer, seems resigned to him going if Villa don’t finish fourth: “If we didn’t make it, the chance to go and play at a club involved in the Champions League is not something that I would begrudge him.”

Liverpool’s failure to wrap up the Barry deal in August was one of the causes of the irreparable breakdown in relations between Benitez and his soon-to-depart chief executive Rick Parry. Many observers were nonetheless surprised at the Liverpool manager’s dogged pursuit of the then Villa captain given that he was prepared to offload Xabi Alonso to do so. Presuming that he now aims to keep Alonso, who has had an outstanding season, it’s difficult to see where Barry would fit in other than as a squad player. Then again, when you’re given as much as Benitez gets you can afford to take a few gambles that don’t come off. Given that Liverpool were prepared to take a loss on Robbie Keane, Villa might even have a reasonable chance of getting Barry back a few months on at half the price.

An Independent Source Vouches For A-Rod’s Heterosexuality

Posted in Baseball at 2:13 pm by

The New York Daily News’ George Rush reports Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez was amongst the paramours of the  Manhattan pimpstress accused of providing former NY Gov. Elliot Spitzer with prostitutes.

A-Rod wooed ex-madam Kristin Davis (above) with flowers, jewelry, persistence and heated e-mails, according to the sources.

“Throughout the years, there were a number of clients that I befriended and it was not uncommon for them to want the women they can’t have whether it be the phone bookers or the madam,” Davis said.

“In regard to Alex, all I can say is our paths have definitely crossed personally and professionally.”

Davis met Rodriguez in June of 2006 in a gym in Philadelphia, shortly after she opened a branch of her call-girl service in the City of Brotherly Love, sources said.

Davis told a friend the then-married Rodriguez asked her, “What are you doing tonight?”

The shapely madam didn’t know who A-Rod was but found him “hot as hell,” she told the friend. “I said, ‘I’m having dinner with my boyfriend. But if you’re looking for someone to hang out with, here’s a number.’ I gave him my agency’s card.”

A source said A-Rod confided the pressures he felt as a player.

“He told her that he’d used steroids,” the source claimed. “He said a lot of players did. He just wanted to be a good ballplayer.”

For those keeping score, this is the 3rd or 4th time Rodriguez has been accused in a major publication of either dating or being obsessed with a sex worker. In addition to the Madonna affair, I think it’s pretty clear that not much more P.R. work is required to fully convince NYC sports fans we’re dealing with the most hetero guy of all time.  But if someone wants to dig up paparazzi shots of A-Rod with Mae West or Judy Garland, all the better.

03.21.09

LI’s Most Committed Ducks Fans : The Toll For Watching Carl Everett Is Higher Than You Think

Posted in Baseball at 7:42 pm by

Sure, I scoffed at the notion of someone camping out overnight for tickets to see the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks. But that was before I learned they’d just signed Preston Wilson!

Why Oh Why Couldn’t The Mets Have Signed A Closer The Phillies Found Beatable Likeable?

Posted in Baseball at 3:04 pm by

“You think the Mets and Phillies hate each other now?” asks Fox Sports’ Bob Klapisch. “Just wait.”  It seems the former ESPN baseball columnist believes it’s just a matter of time before newly acquired Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez earns a save against Philly “and lets out a howl that’s a rung below primal and otherwise acts as if he’d brought down the Berlin Wall.”  (link taken from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Given the deep reservoir of professional respect, why does K-Rod squander it with his in-your-face theatrics? The self-congratulation isn’t just immature, it’s utterly tone-deaf in the New York-Philadelphia Tong Wars.

He just might ignite a brawl ” that’s how tense relations are between the two clubs. It’s a matter of public record what Cole Hamels thinks of the Mets ” “chokers” is what he’s called them all spring. Jose Reyes recently responded by saying, “(the Phillies) should keep their mouths shut and enjoy (being world champions). That’s what we would do.”

When Rodriguez casually said the Mets, “are the team to beat” in the East, he probably meant it as a throw-away line. It might’ve been ” in Anaheim. But not now, not in a rivalry that’s got everyone tightly wrapped in its long tentacles.

Just wait until K-Rod’s first save against the Phillies. Wait until he goes skyward with his index fingers. Just wait ” the apocalypse is surely coming.

In the interests of maintaining the peace, why couldn’t Omar Minaya have simply retained Scott Schoneweis?  He’s make a terrible closer, but at the very least Mr. Klapisch wouldn’t stay away at night worrying about the impending riot.

FXFY v2.0 : Scenes From A Barnyard

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 2:50 pm by

Do Not Feed The Rat (Bastard).   The chap on the left’s amazing Laundry Room Squelchers are playing tonight at the Hideout at 1:30am.   Alternatively, if you’re still looking for afternoon entertainment, FXFY v2.0 is ongoing throughout the day.  Free beer, free form, but sadly, no free love (as I’ve already left).

Cubs Offer New Test of Fan Loyalty: Enjoy Elton John or Get the Fuck Out

Posted in Baseball at 2:17 am by


[Cub Chairman Crane Kenney, explaining the Captain Fantastic concept to a new Elton John fan.]

In a wide-ranging if not at all newsworthy interview, Cub Chairman and Tribune employee Crane Kenny helped fill some Tribune space with the kind of modern deficit executive thinking one usually only gets from bail-out bankers these days.  Consider it this way:  in an era when bailed out AIG execs demand incentive bonuses, the busted-out bankrupt Tribune Co, responsible for nearly thirty of the Cubs 100 years outside of the World Series, refuses to split a new spring training site the Cubs are demanding of the citizens of Mesa, AZ.  The White Sox and Dodgers split a park in Glendale, but Kenney says, “We think the Cubs deserve to stand on their own.”  Indeed, the team that doesn’t need to win to make money, also wants you to know that shitty music paid for Rich Harden’s rickety shoulder, so be grateful those two days a month he’s throwing.   As Kenney told the Tribune‘s Dick van Dyck:

“It’s strange, because you see these people who are opposed to the concerts and they’re Cub fans,” Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney said Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview.

“This is going to sound odd, but Elton John’s going to help us win some ballgames,” Kenney said. “The CBOE [seat] auction last year paid for Rich Harden. The ‘Road to Wrigley’ game sponsored our Asian scouting operation.

“That’s the way, from the business end, we look at these things. All these elements really help our business move forward. My view is if you’re a Cub fan, you should enjoy the concerts whether you’re an Elton John fan or not.”

The Cubs have doubled revenue in the last five years in large part because of ventures like this summer’s two Elton John- Billy Joel concerts and one by Rascal Flats.

03.20.09

Ronni’s Mets Vlog Pt. IV : Some People Really Know How To Decorate

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 4:23 pm by

I still maintain this guy bears a striking resemblance to Brooklyn’s no. 1 taco-tossing doo-wop proponent.

Kiss Brian Davis Once, Get Called “Gay” Forever: TNR’s Darby On Homophobia and Duke Hatred

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, College Spurts, Free Expression, Lower Education at 3:33 pm by

A trusted correspondent emailed me yesterday after my post about Dan Shanoff’s WSJ comments mugging — not about the fact that my post was only dubiously newsworthy, but to ask, “you don’t really read comments, do you?” The answer I gave him, because there seemed no reason not to be honest, other than the fact that it’s kind of embarrassing, is “if it’s on something I wrote, hell yes I read the comments.” (I also read the comments here, because they’re generally very good)

It’s probably/definitely writer/vanity stuff on my own writing’s comments, but during lull periods with work, I will pretty much read anything I can. So more broadly, yes, I’ll read a comment, sure. It doesn’t mean I’m any less perplexed about internet comment cultures — at bulk-volume comment sites from the Gawkers to YouTube to Fanhouse — or more inclined to read those goofs’ comments. I just…I don’t know. I know life’s too short to do it, but life can also feel very long and boring to me unless I’m reading something.


But I’ve been clear, too, I think about how corny I think argumentum ad comments section is — any conversation that starts with someone typing under a punny pseudonym writing “First!!1!” doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, and so probably can’t bear much in the way of analytic weight. And yet, despite the fact that most of its argumentation is based on samples from the most prankish, dumbass trolls out there — YouTube commenters, Wikipedia page gag-editors, people on message boards and at NC State games — I could buy a lot of what Seyward Darby (above) was selling in her piece for The New Republic online about the weird and weirdly enduring nexus between homophobia (how homophobic it actually is, I’ll get at later) and hating the Duke Blue Devils. Here’s Darby on “the jarring and disproportionate level of homophobia that routinely gets directed at (Duke) players”:

[W]hile it’s obviously hard to quantify the assertion that Duke is the object of more homophobia than other teams, it’s also hard to think of any other squad in college hoops that has seen so many of its players singled out so prominently for gay bashing in recent years.

Why has this happened? The answer, I think, has something to do with race and class. Disparagers of Duke typically frame their opposition to the school, and its basketball team, in terms of anti-elitism: Duke, according to this view, is a private school plopped in the Carolina Piedmont, where it caters to wealthy, mostly white elites who have zero regard for the local community–in Will Blythe’s words, “those obnoxious students and that out-of-state arrogance.” That’s a defensible sentiment, as far as it goes, even a liberal one in many respects. But, in the world of sports, being white as well as wealthy often translates into a perceived softness.

Which, you know…yes, it does. But I think there are two things Darby’s missing in this article. One of them is corrected by her (UNC fan) TNR colleague Jason Zengerle in this blog post — his gist being that this isn’t so much homophobic sentiment, even if it does arrive in homophobic language, as it is just trash-talking situated in the current bro-lexicon. That the lexicon in question is homophobic — and just as often, if less publicly, racist, sexist, whatever — isn’t really hard to argue. I’d argue, too, that this stuff is easier to ignore because of how dumb it is and where it is — it’s on message boards, in comments sections, places that you don’t go to unless you want to see (or participate in, if that’s your thing) the very worst of the internet’s atomized, ignorant, radically selfish and dis-intellectualized discourse. If Greg Paulus is clicking through the comments on videos of himself getting dunked on, he’s probably going to get his feelings hurt. But why the hell would he do that? Why the hell would anyone?

The reason why would be my second issue — Christian Laettner shows up late in Darby’s piece, but he’s kind of the rosetta stone of this whole deal, I think. This was a guy who delighted in — practically invented, to my mind — the whole idea of Duke as the heel. Yeah, there are other things to dislike about the school, but Laettner — as this old Sports Illustrated piece about him (which Brendan Flynn found) illustrates — just delighted in fucking with people. A large part of that, for him, was not just running around like a fool after hitting game-winning shots but actively pretending to be gay with teammate and good friend Brian Davis…to fuck with just the sort of buttheads who didn’t have comments sections at the time, but to whom that would be the most irritating thing in the world.

Laettner’s basketball-player-as-Andy-Kauffman bit isn’t any cooler to me than Andy Kauffman’s, but it seems grounded in that taboo-flouting intentional irritation tactic. Duke hate objects since — the perpetually exultant Shane Battier, floor-slapping Greg Paulus, smirking J.J. Redick — are less avant-garde in their approach to being annoying, but seem to use the jeers and taunts as the same sort of motivational fuel that Laettner did, and seem often to go out of their way to invite them. So who knows, maybe Greg Paulus actually is reading those comments sections to get himself psyched. It’s not quite the same as walking across the Duke campus holding hands with Nolan Smith — something Laettner used to do at Duke with another guy, just to mess with people — but it’s a different world we live in now, I guess.

SXSW 2009 Scene Report!

Posted in Free Expression at 12:13 pm by

I could write at length about a bunch of bands and parties you don’t really care about (and trust me, I’ll be doing so soon enough), but given the sensibility of the CSTB reader(ship), I’ll instead forward a special piece of text message madness that’s making the rounds.  Here’s your backstory :  guy (NOT ME) purchases a cell phone.   Salesman who sold him the cell phone thinks it might be fun to, y’know, bond after work hours.  Let the awesomeness begin :

Man sorry I missed your show right now bro I’m fucked up on mushrooms@ the fader fort w my homie dave. We got mad dank too. So I’m getting fucked up today. Dude fuckin kick every single person who shows up to your show righ in the asswhole, with rock. Dude, we need to party later later dude. I’ll hit you up or vise versa naw mean I WILL see you tomorrow definatly at the red eyed fly.

The Return Of FXFY – Because There’s Just Not Enough Live Music For Free In Austin This Week

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 11:39 am by

Props to the organizers of this ambitious event, and while King and I are dearly looking forward to it, I’m not sure which of the following I find more distressing ; a) once again I have to tell an (admittedly) small audience how happy we are to be playing with Black Cock and b) 3 shows with Woodgrain in 15 days is sort of pushing the limits of shotgun marriages.

The Las Vegas Wranglers Hope You’ll Come For The Beefcake & Cheap Drinks, Stay For The Minor League Hockey

Posted in Hockey at 11:14 am by

The ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers have attracted national attention with their faux-Veeck-ian promotions before, stunts ranging from œFormer Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night to having Mini Kiss play before a midnight game. However, none of these events scrapped the bottom of the barrell so thoroughly as the one described below by the Las Vegas Sun’s John Katsilometes.

Sashaying through the arena concourse and posing for photos Tuesday will be members of the American Storm male review, who inhabit the V Theater at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood at Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue Across from the Harley Davidson Café and CityCenter, and I™m Making the Title of the V Theater Obnoxiously Long Because I™ve Always Felt It Was Needlessly Wordy. Also lacing it up for this promotion are instructors from the life-altering Stripper-101 course (from V Theater, too, see above). This is where you poll/pole your friends for the best œpenalty shot reference.

Just wondering: What do you have to do to flunk Stripper-101? Choke on a tassel?

What this promotion really calls for is cheap booze (hic!), and the dudes abide. For $20, from 7:30 to 9:05 p.m. (those last five minutes are for last call, I guess), an open bar is available to of-age fans with proof of ID – and hopefully a designated driver. The hard stuff offered includes Russian Standard vodka, Crown Royal (œbecause the Crown is going down), Tommy Bahama rum, Bombay Sapphire gin (for Oscar nominees) and Patron Silver tequila.