Lastings : I’ve Gotta Be Me

Posted in Baseball at 12:45 pm by

“When he first arrived in the big leagues in 2006 at the age of 21,” writes the Washington Post’s Chico Harlan of former Mets OF Lastings Milledge, “he was an unconventional clubhouse spirit, unconcerned with what older players told him.”  A full season removed from periodic Wally Mathews attacks and being told to “know your place” by that great judge of baseball ettiquette Billy Wagner, the Nats’ Milledge attempts to give Harlan his side of the story.

Milledge: I mean, the thing was, the first time I came out [to NY] everybody was like, ‘You’ve got to be this way.’ I have to show up at the park at a certain time or whatever. I just kind of separated myself from people who were like that. I’m not going to say who, but you know. Sometimes jealousy comes with it. But if you’re here you’re here. It doesn’t matter if you’re here for 20 years. We’re all playing at the highest level, and we’re all major league players. We’re all even.”

Q: Why do you say that? Couldn’t that just cause you more trouble than it’s worth?

LM: Because nobody else can play the game for you. Nobody else is going to give you the money. Nobody is going to give his spot up for you. If I was to walk away from this game today or I wasn’t able to compete at this level anymore, then I have no regrets. I did it my way. Nobody else told me what I need to do. I didn’t try nobody else’s way. I tried my way. And if I just couldn’t play this game, I can live with that. But I couldn’t live with failing by trying somebody else’s way.

Q: OK, you keep talking about ‘your way,’ but what does that mean?

LM: You know, there’s always a thing where, Oh, rookies have to be here 2-1/2 or three hours before stretch. No. I’m not gonna be here three hours before stretch. If you’re here and you get your work in, it shouldn’t matter how early you’re at the field. You know what you need to do. That’s fine. You don’t have to be at the park three, four hours before the park if you don’t want. You don’t see nobody clocking in three or four hours before they have to show up to work. So, I mean, some people feel like they have to get here to read the newspaper or do crossword puzzles or get their mind ready. I feel like I come to the park, I have 45 minutes of stuff I have to do to get prepared for practice and get ready for the game. Five minutes might be watching videos. Fifteen minutes might be going in the cage. And then getting whatever other work I need.

Q: So what about here? Is it a better fit?

LM: Yeah, because the veterans we do have let us to be us. We’ll get ourselves ready. Don’t try to change who we are. I’ll always be a guy who lets you know when I do something good and, you know, I’m kind of a guy who, if I’m not good enough, I’ll tell you. I’m not gonna say I’m the best centerfielder that ever walked on the planet. No. If I’m horse [manure], I’ll tell you I’m horse [manure].

“What’s Up, Knight? Can I Lend You This Copy of “The Feminine Mystique?”

Posted in Basketball, castration nation, College Spurts, Sports TV at 12:42 am by

Last month I interviewed Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, one of the ten people on the NCAA men’s selection committee, and what I’ve noticed since then is that anyone who truly takes the time to study up on the committee’s “policies and procedures,” and everyone who has participated in the NCAA’s mock bracket simulations, says that conferences, be it the number of teams per conference or the whole issue of big conference vs. little conference, almost never gets discussed. ESPN.com’s Pat Forde said it in 2007

To my surprise, there really is NO consideration given to the number of bids per conference. I’ll be honest: I annually rolled my eyes when the selection committee chairman insisted that was the case.

… and since then, countless WWL writers and personalities have been through the same exercise and reported the same thing. And yet, this “issue” came up several dozen times over the course of Sunday’s coverage, though I don’t really expect Dick Vitale to know better.

Another trope that’s out there is the notion that more “basketball people” should be involved in the selection, rather than ADs and commissioners. Perhaps it was caffeine-induced hallucination, but I’m pretty sure I even heard Jay Bilas (or one of his cohorts) suggest it should be more like college football. Meaning, I guess, that all those coaches and Harris pollsters who “know the game” do such a bang-up job. Here’s Bilas to the Indianapolis Star’s Steve Ballard this morning:

“Let me put it this way: If you have to take your car in for service, would you like it to be looked at by 10 mechanics or four mechanics, two doctors, a lawyer, a plumber and grocery clerk?” said Bilas, a former Duke player.

“In a multibillion-dollar industry — and that’s what this is — I’ve never heard anybody make the case that more basketball experience wouldn’t be better. More experience is better in anything. In everything.”

Apparently, Bilas is unfamilar with this defunct blog.

So ok… I’ll make the case. Or rather, I’ll let Jay’s colleague Bobby Knight help make it for me. This is a direct quote from the Sunday broadcast:

“[B]oth Walter (Byers, the first NCAA executive director) and myself felt that the women are going to pay a lot more attention to the women’s tournament [and] the men are going to pay a lot more attention to the men’s tournament, and I don’t think one should be on the other’s selection committee. I think that would be something that should really be taken care of.”

It’s the sort of comment that demands a numbered list.

1. There’s only one woman on the men’s selection committee, and she’s just the second woman ever. UT-San Antonio athletic director Lynn Hickey works for a school that hosted its third men’s Final Four in just over a decade last year. After today, her biggest job is gonna be a brand new FCS football program (headed up by former Miami bench boss Larry Coker). Her men’s team was playing for a bid today (and lost to Stephen F. Austin). She’s an AD, she’s in charge of both men’s and women’s sports, and it’s 2009 – how can this even be an issue?

2. There are, on the other hand, three men on the women’s selection committee. Two are athletic directors and one is a commissioner. Of the seven women, four are associate or senior associate athletic directors, and two are associate commisioners. One, Marilyn A. McNeil of Monmouth University, is an AD. Five also carry the title “senior woman’s administrator.” Anybody want to tell me how this problem can be fixed to Bob Knight’s liking?

3. Everyone who serves on either committee has specific assignments and procedures they must follow, during the entire season and when they get in the room. This is why I’m thinking somebody who “knows the game” like Knight would not be suited for the job, because apparently, if he were on the women‘s selection committee, he’d be sitting on his couch, getting ready to watch a Tennessee-LSU game or something, and then he’d just say, “Fuck it. I’m a man! Let’s see how Stephen Curry’s doing against Georgetown!” From there it’s just a small step to, “Eh, I don’t really need to watch St. Mary’s against Eastern Washington. I already know they’re not as good as Arizona.”

The committee, of course, did pick Arizona over Patty Mills and company (much to Vitale’s chagrin), and having been in Spokane on the night Mills broke his wrist, I feel better knowing that the members of the selection committee assigned to the WCC at least watched every minute that St. Mary’s played, and it was not a gut decision.


Yahoo’s Passan Accuses Davey Johnson Of Treason

Posted in Baseball, We Aren't The World at 9:11 pm by

OK, that’s an unfortunate exaggeration.  But even with the USA comfortably ahead in Sunday night’s elimination clash with the Netherlands (Adam Dunn just a ball that might return to earth by Opening Day), Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan isn’t quite ready to let manager Davey Johnson off the hook.  “Until the United States starts treating the games as something more than exhibitions, the American public will continue to ignore it, and rightfully so” insists Passan, and he’s 100% correct.  We need Jimmy Rollins to let everyone know who-is-the-country-to-beat.

What™s inconceivable and inexplicable and downright insulting to anyone who wants the WBC to succeed was Team USA manager Davey Johnson™s explanation of why he continued to let his starting pitcher, Jake Peavy, rot away any chance for a win with pitch after ugly pitch that the Puerto Ricans sprayed to every corner of Dolphin Stadium.

œJust basically let him get a little more work, Johnson said.


OK, just to go over this one time: The WBC bills itself as a tournament to determine the world™s best team and spread the game™s allure (and, yeah, maybe fatten Major League Baseball™s wallet). It expects fans to take such notions seriously. They do, even though a double-pronged reticence within MLB “ players and management alike “ prevents many of the best players in the world from participating. Still, the games in the first round win support for their intensity and quality, especially this early in spring. And how does the manager for the most visible team, the one with the most major league stars, repay such commitment from those who bought tickets and watched on TV and sponsored the event figuring it more than a glorified spring training game?

He makes sure Jake Peavy hits a pitch count.

Fifty-two, by the way.

Hugo Chavez : Lay Off Mags

Posted in Baseball, politics at 8:21 pm by

Admit it, if I’d told you earlier this year that Magglio Ordonez would be the subject of a spirited defense by a fiery despot, you’d have thought I was referring to Jimmy Leyland.  From the CBC :

President Hugo Chavez came to the defence of Ordonez on Sunday, lambasting the pro-Venezuelan crowd in Miami that constantly jeered the politically vocal outfielder at the World Baseball Classic.

During the 3-1 victory over the Netherlands on Saturday, Ordonez was booed at every plate appearance, and cheered amid a fourth-inning strikeout and later when he was replaced in the game.

“Everyone has a right to think about politics,” said Chavez. “This is shameful. [Those fans] have no shame.”

Many Venezuelans living in South Florida oppose Chavez and his communist beliefs. The taunting toward the Detroit Tigers slugger comes following recent political appearances in support of a leader who has recently won the right to stay in office for life.

“They may have their own reasons for booing me, but I’m a person that they should respect on the team because I am not Venezuela,” said Ordonez.

“Venezuela is the entire team. And when they boo me, they’re booing everybody.”

In a television ad aired last month, Ordonez appeared in support of a proposal by Chavez that would eliminate term limits for the president and other elected officials.

Hopefully LaTroy Hawkins — currently on the hill for Team USA — is taking notes.   Remember Astros fans, when you boo LaTroy next summer, you’re booing AMERICA.

One Shining Monument (To Greg Gumbel’s Ability To Be All Things To All People) : Live Blogging The NCAA Selection Show

Posted in Basketball, Sports TV at 5:10 pm by

They’ve taken my order at the local wings & suds emporium and we’re just about to begin today’s Calhoun-infuriating telecast. Grab a bowl of chips / Meow Mix / qualuddes, etc. and meet me after the jump read below :

(addendum : here’s the bracket)

5: 01 pm. The folks at this particular establishment don’t want to turn up the volume on CBS ; presumably they’re afraid Clark Kellogg wills say something wildly controversial.   Big surprise, Pitino’s Cards are the no. 1 overall seed.

5:03 pm.   Pitt in the East, Carolina no. 1 in the South, UConn in the West.  Hey, why not all 4 from the Big East?

5: 06 pm.  I’m not exactly crying for Calipari but I’m a tad choked up over the way Greg Anthony’s graduated to a snazzy suit from the ugly Hawaiian fare he donned during a sneak attack on Kevin Johnson.

5:08 pm.  There’s a world of difference between “mild” and “medium” buffalo sauce at this place, trust me. Or better yet, get a job here as the chef.

5:10 pm.  For reasons I cannot fathom, they’d rather show riot footage from Islamabad than the Japan/Cuba WBC game on the screen right overhead.

5:13 pm.  BC vs. USC.  It’s the school whose radio station broke REM in the Northeast vs. the last educator to pay OJ Mayo.

5:15 pm.  No interview with Kevin Mackey to celebrate Cleveland State’s beth?  Just when I was going to congratulate the owners of Wings’n'Shit on cranking the volume, they’ve inexplicably cut it off again.

5:18 pm.  A 5 seed for the Big Ten Champion Boilermakers. Ie.  your conference sucks.   Memphis are the no. 2 seed in the West and will take on the Matadors of Cal State Northridge.  You’ll never win anything with a name like that.

5:21 pm. Head’s up, Andy Bernard!  Cornell gets Missouri.

5:23 pm. The VW and Burger King ad agencies should swap accounts for a month, just to see what happens.

5:24 pm.  Enrollment at ESTU is gonna skyrocket after this.

5:26 pm.  Portland State v. Xavier.  My first pick for pseudo upset.  No. 7 seems about right for Texas, and while I think they’ll get past Minnesota, a 2nd round thumping at the hands of Duke awaits.

5:28 pm.  A no. 3 seed for Villanova, eh?  Why not just rename it the Other Big East Tournament?

5:30 pm.  There’s more people in the St. Mary’s cafeteria watching this than turn up for some UT games early in the season.

5:31 pm.  The ESPN2 crawl below the WBC game is doing a wonderful job of violating CBS’ window of exclusivity.

5:34 pm.  LSU/Butler is the 8/9 matchup in the south.  These 8/9 games always seem so evenly matched — how does the selection committee manage to be oh so wise?

5:35 pm.  You’ve spent your entire life waiting to see the Zags vs. the Zips.  You just didn’t know it until now.

5:36 pm.  Once upon a time, the likelihood of a no. 10 seeding sparking wild celebrations at Michigan would seemed very far fetched.   7 bids for Big East teams, by the way, just in case you thought it looked like a dozen.

5:39 pm. Committee to minnows : fuck off.

5:41 pm.  Creighton : jobbed out of a bid and saintly to boot.

5:43 pm.  If they weren’t in Division III, would we ever get to hear about RPI’s RPI?

5:44 pm.  I am almost certain there’s a slight hint of marinara in this queso.

5:48 pm.  I guess ASU’s fold to USC was the death knell for St. Mary’s.

5:54 pm.  My Final Four : Louisville, Memphis, Pitt, Syracuse.  How’s that for slavish eastern bias?

5:58 pm.  I can’t find any pictures of Greg Anthony’s fighting shirt.  Sorry.

6:00 pm.  Mott The Hoople on the jukebox!  I guess someone’s Buckcherry CD was skipping.

6:01 pm.  What sort of wager do you reckon Fidel Castro and Emperor Akihito have on today’s WBC game?

6:03 pm. That’s all for me.  You’ve been a lovely audience…enjoy The Strange Boys!

Walker : Who’s Next To Receive A Ten Point Penalty For Insolvency?

Posted in Football, The Marketplace at 2:50 pm by

At the end of February, the plight of League Two’s Darlington F.C. — in contention for a playoff spot at the time, but docked 10 precious points for entering administration — was noted.   As the Independent’s Michael Walker muses, “Darlington rarely sets trends”, but they’re hardly the only club in dire straits.

“I’ve had contact from people not just in this division, but the division above,” manager Dave Penney (above) said. “There’s a cut-off date, 26 March, and I know a lot of clubs that are close to administration. From talking to people, we might be the first but we won’t be the last. I’d say five will go this year.”

From nine to five: that reduction supports the theory that some observers are prone to exaggerate the economic state of Leagues One and Two. Patrick Nelson, the chief executive of Macclesfield, made a key point that, with the vast majority of players on one-year contracts at this level, and with player wages the largest club expense, “each summer offers the chance to reset the compass, to adjust. You can be prudent. We will be”.

On Tuesday night, with Liverpool and Chelsea both live on ITV, Macclesfield’s game against Accrington Stanley was marketed as “Credit Crunch Tuesday”. Tickets were £5 and 1,800 attended, when Nelson feared it might otherwise have been half that. The significance of the “third Thursday of March” is also disputed. It is a date set by the Football League by which clubs considering administration must enter if they are to take the 10-point deduction this season.

Cheltenham Town, said to be on the brink financially, are bottom of League One, 16 points off safety. They look certain to be relegated so 10 points would make little difference but, if Cheltenham were to enter administration after that Thursday, the 10 points would apply to next season. Cheltenham would begin 2009-10 on minus 10 points and in administration. That would concern prospective purchasers.

But for a club on the cusp of relegation, and in financial trouble “ Southampton in the Championship, for example “ Thursday week is a date of resonance. If Southampton move into administration after Thursday week, and stay up, then the 10-point deduction will be applied in May regardless. That could relegate them post-survival. If Southampton move into administration after Thursday week, and go down anyway, then the 10 points will apply next season.

Congratulations To Martin X. Brodeur

Posted in Hockey at 12:03 pm by

You’d think between the Liquid Tapedeck, fighting a one man war against gentrification and serving jail time for simply promising to mutilate his landlord, Martin aka “Christopher X.” Brodeur would have enough on his plate.  However, that’s only the tip of the ice-rink for this modern day renaissance man who last night tied Patrick Roy for most career wins by a goaltender (551) with the Devils’ 3-1 defeat of Montreal. Perhaps the only public figure capable of standing up to Michael Bloomberg and Sean Avery, Brodeur has been as consistent in the crease as he’s been erratic in his personal, political and musical lives.   Staff and management of CSTB salute this fascinating icon and wish him all the luck in the future (except when playing the Rangers and/or leaving messages on my answering machine).


Jordan From Downtown Doesn’t Wanna Hear About LT’s Turkeys

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 8:44 pm by

When San Diego’s XX Sports decided to give the untried and untrained duo of Irwin Earl Milan (aka ATL Earl) and Jordan Smith (aka Jordan from Downtown) the station’s afternoon drivetime slot, at least one area observer insisted those in charge “have lost their minds”.  Said observer seems vindicated coming on the heels of Smith and Earl’s suspension for comments regarding Chargers RB LaDanien Tomlinson.  From the San Diego Union Tribune’s Jay Posner :

Remember to read this while shouting at the top of your lungs so you can sound as obnoxious as Jordan:

“He has the nerve, LT, to come out and say, ‘We’ve done a lot of stuff here.’ Well, what have you done here, LT? … What stuff have you done here? What stuff? What stuff, if it’s all about winning? You tell me, LT. You’ve done nothing here. Nothing. I don’t care about your MVP. I don’t care about you breaking the touchdown record. Get us a Super Bowl. That’s all I care about.

“ Then, in a reference to the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway that LT hosts every year for needy families in San Diego County, Jordan said, œI’m listening to Mama LT this morning with Scott (Kaplan) and BR (Billy Ray Smith) “ and God bless them, too, bringing up the turkeys again … do me a favor, stick the turkeys up your (bleep). I don’t care about the turkeys. I don’t care about your charity.

Later he also said Tomlinson could œstick the community in the same place as the turkeys.

At the station, where morale has plunged since Hal Brown gave the Bozos a show, employees were besieged with calls and e-mails. Several listeners sent copies of their e-mails to me, and some threatened never to use the product of a station sponsor as long as these guys are at XX.

The most popular question, however, has been a version of this: What can we do to get these guys off the air?

They’ve done it themselves. Maybe, just maybe, it’s for good.

Pistons Owner Davidson, Dead At 86

Posted in Basketball at 5:55 pm by

Less than a month after the death of Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, another longtime NBA owner has shuffled off this mortal coil, as the Pistons’ William Davidson passed away Friday night.  The automotive glass magnate presided over Detroit winning NBA titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004, along with owning the Tampa Bay Lightning during their Stanley Cup championship season of 2003-04.   Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press remembers Davidson’s management style :

When a coach drew Davidson™s ire, he was out the door. When he grew tired of Rick Carlisle™s stubbornness as far as playing Tayshaun Prince and Mehmet Okur, Carlisle was out the door. When he believed Larry Brown betrayed him by talking to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2005 playoffs, he was out the door, despite leading the team to the 2004 NBA championship.

Those moves were made by Mr. D. He demanded loyalty and accountability. Just ask Isiah Thomas, who never really got both feet back in the door after Davidson believed his Hall of Fame point guard betrayed him.

‘Sheed Is Braced For The Association’s Economic Decline, Shawn Marion Less So

Posted in Basketball, The Marketplace at 5:05 pm by

The Globe And Mail’s Michael Grange took in the Raptors’ 99-95 OT loss to Detroit last night and took the opportunity to quiz a few of the superstars on hand about the NBA’s economic climate. Unsurprisingly, Pistons F Rasheed Wallace had an opinion to share :

“I follow that [stuff] for how it affects me,” Wallace said. “[Forget] the league, excuse my French. I’m going to be out [of the NBA] one day, but that’s not going to stop the economy from still plummeting. I follow it for me, for my family.”
The Raptors’ own pending free agent, Shawn Marion, had a good game finishing with 17 points and six rebounds. There’s no doubt that Marion’s active brand of basketball will earn him his share of suitors this summer, but at what price?

After all, Raptors forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu has provided much of the energetic basketball Marion is known for, but for a pro-rated amount of the $711,000 (all currency U.S.) veteran’s minimum. Marion is making $17.1-million this season, but according to Wallace, donning his economist hat, the salad days are likely gone.

“Guys who were able to get that big-money contract the last couple of years, kudos for them,” Wallace said. “Myself and other free agents included, talking about signing for next season or the year after that, it’s going to hit us hard. Definitely we’re not going to get the money that guys think they should get and deserve. But that’s all part of it.”

League insiders figure Marion will be fortunate to earn a contract that pays him $8-million annually, and that might be rich for a player averaging just 12.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. Unlike Wallace, Marion is more optimistic about what lies ahead.

“We do talk about stuff like that, but is the NBA going to fold?” Marion said. “You see people in baseball and football signing these big-ass contracts and I’m pretty sure their attendance went down a little bit. Everyone is taking a hit, but at the same time it’s not stopping people spending money.”

Raptors fans might hope that the faltering economic outlook could encourage forward Chris Bosh to sign a contract extension he’s eligible for this summer, as opposed to hitting the free-agent market in 2010, but Bosh says that’s not going to happen.

“That’s part of the reason things don’t work, because everyone operates out of fear,” Bosh said. “I have a plan coming into this and I’m sticking to it.”

Attn: Program Directors Of America, Sid Rosenberg Is Ready To Help Your Spring Ratings Book

Posted in Sports Radio at 3:37 pm by

While I totally spaced on the news of Max Kellerman walking out of ESPN1050 (with rumors of a potential pairing with Mike Francesa at WFAN), I’m slightly happier to share the following item from Newsday’s Neil Best concerning another NYC mouthpiece/legend-in-his-own-mind.

Sid Rosenberg is out after three years as a sports talk radio host at 790 The Ticket in Miami, his agent, Mark Lepselter confirmed Friday night.

Rosenberg had been off the air since Monday. Lepselter said on Friday Rosenberg and station management “agreed to part ways.”

Lepselter said there had been “professional disagreements” but declined to describe them in detail. He stressed that Rosenberg had not had a relapse of any sort into the personal problems that have derailed his career in the past, including drug abuse.

Rosenberg did not return a message left via email. He posted a message on his Facebook page saying, “And thanks to all the listeners and fans that helped make our show great.”

If anyone would like to take a crack at composing what Sid’s “25 Random Things” might look like, by all means, be my guest. Though be advised, references to cocaine in more than 5 entries will be considered gratuitous (and/or swiped from Artie Lange’s “25 Random Things”).

Least Surprising Headline In NY Mets History

Posted in Baseball at 3:35 pm by

From WABC.com.  Some might say Tim Redding was signed with arm-strength issues.

Fitzy’s Return : Coming Down Hard On Hugh Jackman

Posted in Free Expression at 11:45 am by

Who would’ve guessed A-Rod would’ve earned less camera time than the departure of Matt Cassel? Here’s hoping that sometime between now and the end of June, a certain (self-proclaimed) No. 1 Point Guard In The NBA receives the Nick Stevens Treatment.


Wolff To Oakland : It’s My Team, Not MLB’s

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 8:30 pm by

A day after the City Of Oakland asked Major League Baseball and Bud Selig to “name a point person” in order to develop a “ballpark strategy”, A’s ownership have responded with a press release claiming the ballclub is done fiddle-fucking around.  From the San Jose Mercury News’ Kelly Rayburn :

“We have fully exhausted our time and resources over the years with the city of Oakland, dating back to previous A’s ownership,” Lewis Wolff (above) said in the statement. “We recognize conditions have not changed. Letters to Major League Baseball offer nothing new or of any real substance. Outside stimulation to have us continue to play in an aging and shared facility may generate press and ‘sound-bite’ opportunities, but do not provide any tangible alterations in the circumstances we face.”

Wolff’s letter noted attendance and season ticket holders in Oakland are both among the lowest in baseball ” even when the A’s are playing well on the field.

“Our goal and desire for the organization is to determine a way to keep the team in Northern California,” Wolff wrote. “That goal has not changed. We have no interest in covering old ground again, as we need to move forward in finding a future home for our team.”

New A’s Ballpark‘s Marnie Layer can read the writing on the wall ; “any hope of retaining the team in the city that has been home for 40 years is all but lost. It’s lame duck time.”

It’s all about San Jose, which amazingly, Ray Ratto does not mention in his blog post. It’s about corporate dollars, suites and minisuites, club seats and advertising and sponsorships. It’s about the demise of the classic, egalitarian form of fandom.

Wolff goes on to thank Mayor Ron Dellums and East Bay developer Sherman Balch, plus County Supes Gail Steele and Scott Haggerty, both of whom supported the Fremont plan. Not thanked are the other signatory to yesterday’s letter, Jane Brunner, or previous Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. Hmmm, if I were Oakland I wouldn’t expect much of a reply from the commish anytime soon.

I look forward to all of the namecalling that will commence shortly.

Cashman Denies Heckling Giambi

Posted in Baseball at 4:44 pm by

Jeff Pearlman’s “The Rocket That Fell To Earth” isn’t officially available until March 24, but the New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt and Joshua Robinson — presumably scouring the racks at the Strand — have uncovered one rather sensational passage.

The book said that when Jason Giambi went through a slump in the 2002 season, his first with the Yankees, (General Manager) Brian Cashman was heard yelling at a television in the Yankees™ clubhouse during a game. Citing œone New York player, the book said that Cashman screamed, œJason, whatever you were taking in Oakland, get back on it.

The book said that Cashman then added, œPlease!

In a telephone interview Thursday night, Cashman said that the anecdote described in the book never happened.

œThat is completely false, Cashman said.

He added, in reference to the author: œThis guy never even called me and asked me if it was true. You think he would have done some fact-checking.

Cashman said that even when he gets upset, œI don™t yell.

In a telephone interview on Thursday night, Pearlman stood behind his account.

œThe source was a Yankee player who was an eyewitness and in whom I have 100 percent confidence, Pearlman said.

But he acknowledged that he should have called Cashman for his reaction. œHe™s totally right, Pearlman said. œI didn™t call him for comment and I should have.

œBut that doesn™t mean the story isn™t correct.

If Cashman didn’t say it, there were at least 50,000 people in Yankee Stadium most nights thinking it.  On an unrelated note, Mike Francesca recited the above story earlier today on WFAN after denouncing Pearlman’s tome as “a quickly put together book.”   “Just what we need,” snorted the “Mike’d Up” host, “another book about Roger Clemens and steroids.”

Francesca quickly corrected himself, perhaps realizing he’d struggle to name even one other book about Roger Clemens and steroids.

Pop : No One At The Venue May Look Danzig Kobe In The Eye

Posted in Basketball at 4:08 pm by

The Lakers clinched the Pacific Division with last night’s 102-95 victory at San Antonio, LA’s 2nd consecutive Texas triumph coming on the heels of Wednesday’s nearly identical scoreline in Houston.  Spurs coach Greg Popovich witnessed Kobe Bryant running riot over the Rockets after considerable provocation from Houston’s Ron Artest, learning a lesson in the process (albeit one that proved to be little help 24 hours later).  From the Press-Enterprise’s Jeff Eisenberg :

“I just wish I could have heard what was being said because Kobe was looking at him like, ‘What’s this guy doing?’” Popovich said, chuckling. “I didn’t know what Artest was saying or what Kobe was saying back, but it went on for a while. I was getting a kick out of it.”

Fueled by Artest’s barrage of trash talk, Bryant scored 31 of his game-high 37 points in the second half on Wednesday, rallying the Lakers to a come-from-behind victory over the Rockets.

“Don’t talk to him, don’t even look him in the eye,” Popovich said. “Stay away from him.”

Look Who’s Here To Talk About The Present : Mark McGwire, Hitting Instructor

Posted in Baseball at 3:50 pm by

Speaking with the New York Times’ Karen Crouse on condition of no-steroid-questions-please, the disgraced retired Mark McGwire discussed his new gig as an independent hitting tutor in what the reporter calls Big Mac’s “Greta Garbo moment”/

œI™m such an easygoing guy, he said. œI don™t need to sweep away any bitterness. His foray into tutoring, he said, is not about what it can do for him, but what he has to offer. œI believe I have so much knowledge to give and help people improve as baseball players, he said.

For the four major leaguers who were in his midst this winter ” Matt Holliday and Bobby Crosby of the Athletics, and Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker of the Cardinals ”McGwire™s guidance was like a cross between fantasy camp and physics class.

œYou walk up and it™s Mark McGwire, of all guys, teaching you how to hit, Schumaker said last week. œYou think he™s just so big and strong and that™s why he hit home runs. But he really knew what he was doing at the plate.

McGwire was just as enthused as he discussed the collaboration. œIt was really cool that Matt called and said, ˜Let™s work together,™  McGwire said of Holliday. œNext thing you know we™re working with Bobby and Skip, too.

The exalted seldom make excellent teachers. Their gifts, a language indigenous only to them, are not easily translated. But McGwire may be an exception, perhaps, as he suggested, because he was self-taught. œThe evolution of my swing, from college to the major leagues to the last day I played, was all done by myself, he said.

Tony La Russa, who managed McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis, said last week that two injury-filled seasons, in 1993 and 1994, caused McGwire to reconsider his original approach to hitting, which consisted of seeing the ball and swinging at it. McGwire began studying pitchers and discovered he could detect their tendencies. He learned to make adjustments.

œHe became really smart about his stroke, La Russa, the Cardinals™ manager, said. œHe got really smart about how to strategize the at-bat against the pitcher.

Holliday said he did not worry that someone might look askance at his association with McGwire. œI wouldn™t ever not want to have somebody in my life that could be a good friend or somebody I could really enjoy or learn from based on what other people might think about it, he said.

Elsewhere in the article, Crouse reminds us that McGwire turned down an earlier opportunity to fill a similar guru role with the Cardinals, citing an unspecified family matter.  Chances are, if McGwire were once again wearing a Cardinals uniform, he’d not so easily avoid questions about his PED use or that of his peers.

Sunday Night At Beerland : Gunslingers (FR) + 3, Just Call It The Andy Van Slyke Fest

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 1:40 pm by

How exactly did someone manage to program a 3 night (alleged) psych fest in Austin this weekend but neglect to book San Pedro, France’s GUNSLINGERS? A deconstructo trio whose not-so-nuanced approach recalls at various times the Groundhogs, Mick Farren’s Deviants, Sonics Rendezvous Band or the sludgier moments of the Bevis Frond, the Gunslingers are making their first Austin visit this Sunday. That it falls outside the confines of anything Black Angels-sanctioned is all the more reason why these visitors to our beautiful city need our help.

“In a systematic act of alchemy clearly designed to upstage in one fell swoop every budding Asahito Nanjo, every rising Kawabata Makoto, every post-Reck and neo-Keiji Heino, nay, every occidental Japrock wannabe combined, French super freak and guitar mangler Gregory Raimo has “ with this solitary Gunslingers album release “ put to shame each™n™every proto-metal musician across this lickle planet with a spiteful racket so accursedly evil, so mischievously demonic, so gurningly and grinningly piss-taking that barbarians across the globe (myself included, natch) can only drool in disbelief and green-eyed envy. For NO MORE INVENTION is nothing less than the sum total of every move culled from every essential No Wave, Post Punk, Free Rock statement thus far spewed forth onto vinyl and CD.

I know, you know, we ALL know the French might not know how to rock™n™roll 99.999999% of the time. But when they get it right, boy, does it smoke pole! And, like existentialist hero Albert Camus™ bizarre death in the back seat of a massively expensive Facel Vega HK550 supercar, Gunslingers™ NO MORE INVENTION is a raging and fumingly Gallic summation of all things Righteous, Nihilistic and Stylishly Paradoxical simultaneously.” – Julian Cope, August, 2008

Dikes Of Holland
Air Traffic Controllers

CSTBracket Returns: Bringing March Gladness to the Punning Hordes Since 2007

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Internal Affairs at 11:02 am by

Yes, people with the Mountain West TV network are at an advantage (if also clinically proven to live shorter, less-satisfying lives). Yes, people without the money to go out at night — and here I am speaking of myself — are disproportionately benefitted by the amount of useless conference tourney games they get to (?) watch. And no, there’s not really a way to be good at NCAA predictions, no matter how much time you spend watching the Colonial Athletic Association or Summit League finals. But none of these things are reasons not to join this year’s Third Annual CSTBracket. Sure, the brackets haven’t been announced yet, but if you want to come up with the really excellent/stupid bracket name you deserve, you should probably sign up now and give yourself plenty of time to edit.

(above : not David Roth)
I’m aware — and aware that I’m the only person aware — that this year’s introductory post lacks both the garment-related stylistic frissons of last year’s and the dewy earnestness of the inaugural invite. (Also different: the fact that I promised the first five people who re-upped from last year a photo of me wearing my Corliss Williamson Arkansas jersey. I don’t know if there’s demand for that, but it’s a new twist) For all those differences, though, the stakes are just as high this year as in years past, because the 2009 CSTBracket Champion will receive a new car as many basketball cards as you want from me (Taurean Green/Jarrett Jack dual autograph card…just saying), as well as a complimentary backrub from Rog and…well, I asked Gerard what he thought would be a good look here as a centerpiece prize. “Let’s find a shitty old video game title on ebay,” he writes. “4-6 year old versions of most EA sports games can be had for a few bucks. I’ll spring for it.” Well shit, if he’s buying, let’s start this thing up!

So: same deal as in years past. Go here, to Yahoo Sports’ Tournament Pick ‘Em page, and sign up. The league ID is 49714, password is cstb. The memories of your bracket’s punny name and your inexplicable faith in the Big Sky Conference champs…are forever.

Don’t worry, not really.

Chris Bosh’s Weather Man Debut : Not Bad, But He’s No Gordie Howard

Posted in Basketball, Weather at 10:23 am by

For the record, there’s about 80,000 people living in Peterborough. Ronnie Hawkins is one of ‘em — maybe he and Bosh can do the weather together someday.

Maybe Rick Majerus Should Just Join A Better Conference?

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 12:15 am by

Ok, I’d say maybe some of these conference tournaments might have their moments.

The amusing world of blogging attribution: I do a post about Phil Sheridan’s article in the Inquirer last night. Yahoo’s The Dagger blog also picks that up, properly linking to (but not mentioning) Sheridan and the Inky, while quoting/crediting yours truly. Then Sports Illustrated‘s Luke Winn throws the item into his blog, but only with a “via Dagger.”

I’ve argued in favor of minor bowl games like the Alamo before, and after today’s hoops action I’d say much the same about the conference tournaments – they’re basically just an extension of the regular season, and when the match-up’s sexy or the game is good, what’s not to like about that? Of course, if you had a longer regular season and a system where the regular season champion got an automatic bid, the entire period of February 1 to March 15 would be pretty compelling.

But while Majerus effectively shot down the notion that it’s a good thing for a middling team like his to parlay short-term excellence into an automatic bid, the real purpose of these tournaments is to further seed and shake out all the teams who have a decent or near-certain shot of being in the field of 65. There’s little reason for St. Louis to participate – perhaps Majerus’s players really ought to be in class. Xavier can’t prove all that much by winning, but it would matter to Dayton.

The BCS conferences, however, are another story. Nine of the 11 Big Ten schools needed to play these games (imagine a small tear running down my cheek for the Northwestern Wildcats), while the tournament is how the gigantic Big East makes up for its unbalanced schedule. Syracuse and UConn only played each other once during the season. Now they’ve not only played another game, but an extra half a game on top of that, thanks to what is currently, at 1:05 am New York time, a 6-overtime fun-fest that Syracuse had never led at any point past regulation until the sixth OT. Seven players between the two schools have fouled out. It’s almost hockey-like. Of course the announcers have just jinxed it by mentioning the 7-OT longest game in NCAA history.

Update: It’s now 120-112 Orange, with 1:47 left. It would be kind of funny if the Huskies can catch up enough to turn the last 40 seconds into your classic eternal foul parade, but they already have to foul now, and Syracuse keeps making their shots. 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Update 2: Announcer just asked if Boeheim would be more proud of this team on this night than he was of his national championship team in New Orleans. Um…. no? 

Update 3: Syracuse 127, UConn 117. Anticlimax! The Orange may have bought themselves a higher seed or better region. But perhaps the losing team is the real winner here – UConn can just rest up instead of playing two more games, while West Virginia might be a good bet tomorrow.

“I’m more proud of this team… than any team I ever coached,” Boeheim says. Ok, mea culpa.

btw, I had Syracuse +5 1/2.


Everton’s Anichebe Mistaken For Dee Brown

Posted in Football, Racism Corner, The Law at 7:31 pm by

Though probably not making as many global headlines as The Special One (allegedly) taking a pop at a Man United fan after Inter’s Champions League exit (nor Wayne Rooney becoming the latest victim of censorship), Everton striker Victor Anichebe has learned the hard way that browsing isn’t encouraged by every shopkeeper. From the BBC :

Ancichebe was window-shopping with a friend in Knutsford, Cheshire, when officers confronted the pair, eventually handcuffing his friend.

Police said they were acting after a spate of robberies but admitted it was a “less than proportionate reaction”.
Mr Anichebe, 20, said the incident was “embarrassing and totally humiliating”.

He said in a statement: “Whilst I do fully understand Cheshire Police’s desire to tackle the problem of robberies on jewellery shops in the Knutsford area, I remain deeply upset and very angry about the treatment which was meted out to myself and a friend yesterday [Wednesday].

“It was not only totally ridiculous but also highly embarrassing and totally humiliating.

“Simply because we stood our ground and insisted that we had done absolutely nothing wrong, they decided to place my friend in handcuffs.

“I am currently having to use crutches to walk as I recently underwent surgery on a knee injury and – astonishingly – one of the officers even tried to grab the crutches in order to prevent me from ‘escaping’.”

He added: “After what seemed like an eternity the police officers seemed to realise that they had made a mistake, acknowledging that I was a footballer with a Premiership club and not someone who was preparing to commit a crime.

“At the time, I asked the officers if they would have taken the action they did had I been white rather than black.”

Are We Not Pissed Off? D’Alessandro Vs. Laissez Faire Devo

Posted in Basketball at 6:17 pm by

The Nets’ 116-112 defeat at lowly Golden State last night was, in the words of the Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro, “a new winner for Worst Loss of the Season…one that actually tops Boston and New Orleans from last week, because we’re talking about an opponent that is counting the days toward summer vake.”

“When the hell is somebody going to kick down a door?” wonders D’Alessandro, who presumably was less than impressed with the muted reactions he found in the visitors’ home locker room.

If we had an emotional stake in this, we’d look to drive our head through a concrete wall.

“Yeah, but we have a game Friday,” Bobby Simmons said matter-of-factly. “And if you put your head through a wall, you can’t play Friday.”

No use asking Vince about this. A smile is his default expression. … or maybe just a shield to use against the ghastly (5-for-18) arithmetic.

You, sir: The one with the three field goals and three turnovers in the second half. Where’s your disgust?

“I’ve been there,” Devin Harris explained. “For one, I don’t want to hurt myself.”

Right. We know all about your dainty metatarsals.

“Obviously I’m not happy, but I try to stay as level as possible.”

But you just played a team that couldn’t care less, a team was begging to be beaten.

“Yes, they were.”

And you pissed another one away again.

“Yes, we did.”

Well, no sense losing your temper over that.

Rattled By The Rush : Tent City Alumnus Is Gunning For Limbaugh

Posted in Basketball, Hate Fuck Radio at 6:06 pm by

The recently-released Chuck Barkley on the Philadelphia Spectrum, driving drunk and Rush Limbaugh (“I am so close to flying wherever he is and just punching the hell out of him”) – audio stream from WIP.

Jersey Youth League : Kids Choose Baseball Furies Over Baseball

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 5:56 pm by

(if you think these guys look mean, wait ’til you see their reaction to a William Devane-managed game at the Astrodome being called after two innings)

Bridgeton, NJ’s Babe Youth League can’t seem to find many willing participants this spring, and league prez Sam Hunter blows a perfect opportunity to blame it on Facebook or Street Fighter IV in his chat with NJ.com’s Joe Green (link culled from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

“I get a lot of, Yeah, I’m coming out! But I’ve only had nine signed up,” Hunter lamented.

He suggested a few reasons for the apparent apathy.

Gangs may be the scariest.

Angry, frustrated teens sometimes go to gang meetings.

After they show interest, Hunter said, “the gangs will pursue them to become members.”

“I’m sure gang activity is contributing to the kids not becoming involved in the league,” said Albert Kelly, city councilman and president of Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc., headquartered on Cohansey Street.

“But baseball is just not as popular as other sports now,” he added. “Baseball is not as highly visible as it used to be in this community.”

Kelly said basketball gets year-round attention on ESPN, and kids tend to dream of stardom on the court rather than the diamond.

Oh c’mon, how much basketball do you see on ESPN in the middle of July or August?  If we’re gonna blame ESPN’s programming decisions for baseball’s slump amongst Jersey teens, how about the year-round prevailance of poker?