04.28.09

Bobby V., Renaissance Man

Posted in Baseball, Food at 12:55 am by

You know he’s a Japan Series champ and a master of disguise, who amongst us was previously aware Bobby Valentine was the inventor of the Cobb Salad Wrap Sandwich.  (other than David Williams, that is)

04.27.09

Your Effed-Up New York Stadiums, Chapter 72

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 10:34 pm by

If Not-Shea’s worst offense is the horrible sightlines — and kinda-sorta-obviously dishonest salesmanship of those seats — then Yankee Stadium’s are less well-known to me, if only because I kind of figured it’d be a while before I went to that stadium. I know their bleachers apparently have laughably, implausibly bad views of the field (and that some peculiarly self-important louts aren’t happy about this) and that the stadium’s most expensive seats are often empty. But in his blog for the Lower Hudson Valley Journal-News, Peter Abraham exposes another absurdity of Hankenstein Gardens and Ball Yard — first- and second-class bathrooms.

How far does the class warfare extend in Yankee Stadium? All the way to the men™s room.

According to the charmingly titled Fack Youk blog, there are dividers between the urinals in the field level bathrooms but not in the bathrooms elsewhere in the stadium.

It™s astonishing that somebody had a meeting to decide this. But apparently they did. Somebody needs to investigate the quality of the toilet paper. I™d bet anything the field level seats have two ply and everybody else gets recycled sandpaper.

Thanks to Jimmy Laakso for the link, and to Peter Abraham for the introduction to Fack Youk, which is clearly written by a tenured economist — I’m thinking probably this guy. Click the link above if you want to find out why rich people can’t be real fans. Oh, okay, here you go: “If you have a job that allows you to spend anywhere from $100K to $800K on two Yankees season tickets, you aren’t going to have much time in the day to read blogs or listen to sports talk radio. Wealthy folks also go out to dinner pretty often. When do they do that? Probably in the neighborhood of 7-10 at night, give or take, and three or four star restaurants aren’t going to have the game on TV.” Burn-ie Williams, overclass! (This whole thing is really embarrassing)

TTU’s Leach : What’s The Mangenius Ever Won?

Posted in Gridiron at 7:43 pm by

How much did an allleged smear job on the part of the Cleveland Browns influence Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree slipping all the way to no. 10 overall in Saturday’s NFL Draft?  Tech head coach Mike Leach (above) seems rather perturbed with the damage done to his pupil’s reputation if not earning power, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matt Barrows that Crabtree’s been slandered.

“Michael Crabtree has been more successful as a receiver than that guy has a coach at this point,”
Leach said. ” … Part of the reason is he’s (Crabtree) too shy to be like that.”

Said Leach: “My definition of a diva is someone who’s loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree is the furthest thing from loud that I’ve seen.”

As evidence, Leach noted that the tape he had on Crabtree blocking in the running game was better than the tape of Crabtree making catches. “I think it’s one of the strongest parts of the game,” Leach said. “I mean, to the point where it’s impressive.”

Leach described Crabtree as the “ultimate team player who would serve the 49ers well.” As for Mangini? “Let’s see how all those non-divas do up in Cleveland this year,” Leach said.

An Important Part Of Philly Boy Roy’s Training Table

Posted in Baseball, Food at 7:22 pm by

Photograph by Liz Clayton. Where’s Kozy Shack when Mets fans require similar innovations?

Patrick Clark Follows Up on that Other Investigation-Worthy DC Administration

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Greedy Motherfuckers at 5:20 pm by

Patrick Clark, last seen around these parts getting praise for his terrific piece about baseball in the Dominican Republic (it was in Triple Canopy, the web magazine co-run by CSTB referrer and friend-of-the-program Sam Frank), has started a blog on the subject of international baseball. This is a good thing, and even better considering the (rumored) bombshell — which Clark tells me comes from someone he “trust[s] very much and [who] travels in the right circles” — that leads off his first post. Those who follow baseball won’t be surprised to see kleptocratic execu-goof Jim Bowden (above) in the mix.

I heard quite a rumor through the grapevine the other day, to wit that Jim Bowden and front-office types in other organizations may have made up Dominican prospects, signed them, and pocketed the bonuses.

That is, as I understand the rumor, they would have filed scouting reports on boys who did not exist so that they could embezzle cash from their employers. So long as the bonuses they assigned to these fictional prospects were small enough, they could simply stash the imaginary prospects in their Dominican academies and let the fictional players wash out after a couple of years…

The bonus-skimming scandal is not the simple victimization story that it is sometimes portrayed as, and it is bigger and more complicated than we understand…The Esmailyn González affair makes a useful example: the most telling aspect of that story is not that the boy and his advisor lied about the prospect™s name and birth date, but that when the Nationals inked the player for $1.4 million, they reportedly doubled González™ next highest offer. To speculate, if González (now known as Carlos Lugo) did not receive the entire $1.4 million (minus his advisor™s take), has he been ripped off? I think it™s more accurate to say that he™s been used to rip off the Nationals.

There’s more, and it’s worth reading; Clark has followed up on the story and will hopefully be chasing it as much and as hard as his day-job allows. After all my philoso-waxing about the difference between blogs and non-blogs and blog prose and non-blog prose earlier today, this is a nice reminder that blog posts can still serve a news (rather than musing-oriented, philoso-literary) purpose even when they don’t meet the probative/sourcing standards of print journalism. Yeah, it’s irritating when Murray Chass beats on about Mike Piazza’s (alleged) backne, but that’s mostly because Chass just seems to be curmudgeoning, rather than trying to move a story forward. In the right context, and with the right intentions, a rumor is worth reporting even if — as is the case with Clark’s revelation — it’s coming from a single, anonymous source. Especially if an enterprising journalist with some real resources at his or her disposal can follow up on it and bring some truth to light. If what Clark heard is true, this is a big story. We just have to hope it actually becomes one.

Toad Update : Canseco’s Old Indie Club Is Good Enough, Good Enough For That Goonie Hideki Irabu

Posted in Baseball at 5:00 pm by

From Kyodo News.com :

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu (above, left)  has come out of retirement and made a contract with Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden Baseball League, his management revealed on April 27. Released by the Hanshin Tigers in the 2004 offseason, the 39-year-old Irabu started training at the start of the year with an eye on making his comeback and is set to return to the mound in May for his first competitive game in five years.

I know, it’s shocking. Hideki Irabu has management?

Bad Enough That Exotic Adrian Street Singlehandedly Killed Glam Rock….

Posted in Hip Hop, Professional Wrestling at 4:33 pm by

….but did he really need to put his high-heeled boot on the throat of hip-hop, too?

With Each Passing Year, Mex Becomes Blockier & Blockier (With All Due Respect To Terry Blocker

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression, Sports TV at 3:50 pm by

We’re finally learned the real reason behind Chris Cotter’s departure from SNY ;  there’s no possible way to replicate that haircut in Legoland.   (image copped from Equisse via Brooklyn Mutt)

Joe Posnanski on Bannister, Bias, Bloggery

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 3:23 pm by

For the generation of writers who came of age recently enough for blogs to inform the way we writer, the challenge of splitting a bloggy voice from the professional-writer voice is weirdly simple. I write bloggy prose in the same way that I write email prose, whereas when I know someone’s going to be editing or fact-checking or (to get right to it) paying me for something, I have to kind of tamp things down a bit. Editorial imperative can tend to sort of flatten things a bit, too, but by and large I don’t really mind that something like this — which I’m proud of and worked hard on and so forth — doesn’t necessarily sound that much like me. I expect as much and don’t have much say in it, finally, and so look to venues like CSTB as outlets for writing in my actual voice. I’m not necessarily a young dude anymore, but switching between voices and perspectives and approaches comes pretty naturally. This isn’t because I’m a brilliant prose stylist (although that obviously doesn’t hurt) so much as it’s because I grew up when I grew up.

For older writers who are being asked to get their blog on by publications eager to get the sort of constant-update pace that the internet apparently demands, it’s not necessarily so easy. For every Dave D’Allessandro who takes naturally to it, there’s either someone who takes to it too much and gets rambly, lazy and weird (Peter King would be a good example here) or who takes to it not at all. (Witness the painfulness of sixtysomething newspaperman-turned-MLB.com-writer Marty Noble’s blogging, which could only be more awkward if he were wearing a baseball hat backwards and rapping or something). Or Murray Chass, who seems to have taken his worst and most ill-informed impressions of what a blog is — it’s a basement-smelling place where people make unsubstatiated arguments and rip dudes without mercy, right? — and made it his own bloggy reality, without ever actually having read any other blogs to see whether there was anyone else serving his particular flavor of awful.

But while I can’t always get through the torrent of words that defines his bloggy style, I think the Kansas City Star’s Joe Posnanski might have the best relationship of any veteran writer to the bifurcated blog/not-blog writing experience. He’s still turning out very professional, very excellent newspaper work — I love this profile of Zack Greinke, for instance — but also using his blog in the right way. Some of this is just to blow off steam in a goofy way, but some of it is to explore things that are probably a bit too navel-gazey or plain-bloggy to work as newspaper columns. His recent rumination on Brian Bannister (above) and sportswriterly allegiances to players and teams is, I think, an example of this stuff at its best. Even the excesses work, because Posnanski has so fully bought-in to the medium and its style, and so seriously approached this (less-offical, presumably un-compensated) assignment. Here’s some:

I might with enough effort myself as a hard-working second baseman who dives for every ground ball, and I might imagine myself as a weak-armed quarterback who could inspire a team in the final minutes, and I might even envision spending hundreds and hundreds of hours in a driveway shooting jump shots until I was so good at it that I could make it to the NBA.

And so it is with Banny. He™s really more talented than he lets on ” his fastball was in the lower 90s on Wednesday and he can get good movement on it and much of the time he has well-above average command. And let™s face it: You can™t pitch in the big leagues ” and pitch successfully ” without other-worldly talent. But, in context, the basic story is true: Bannister does not have a killer fastball or a devastating out pitch. He is not imposing.* He did not have many people believe in him along the way.

*He is listed at 6-foot-2 on his Baseball Reference Page ¦ and I say with affection in my heart as a 5-foot-9 sportswriter who sometimes claims to be 5-foot-10 that there™s no way. None.

…It just so happened, because of a variety of coincidences, that I was in Cleveland for Bannister™s start (last Wednesday). He was really good. He threw six shutout innings. He gave up just four hits, walked two, struck out one.

And when the game ended, he was not especially happy. He was not unhappy, of course. I think he was proud of the way he pitched, even if he knew that throwing shutout innings with so few strikeouts is not really sustainable. But ” and this is the part I could really associate with ” he knows the situation…I would say that the feeling he had was something closer to relief. He had pitched his heart out, and it worked out on this night, and he could live to fight another day. That™s what it™s all about to me: Sure, I admire talent, and I appreciate genius, and I enjoy dominating performances. But I identify with this kind of struggle. There™s nothing easy for Brian ¦ and that™s a big reason why I root for him.

Joel Sherman Would Like To Buy Ollie Perez A Ticket On The Midnight Train To Georgia Buffalo

Posted in Baseball at 12:36 pm by

Mets starting P Oliver Perez — 7 runs, 9 hits and 3 walks in 4.1 IP during yesterday’s 8-1 loss to Washington — has charitably been labeled “enigmatic” in this space.  There’s no mincing words, however, from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who cannot reconcile the lefty’s $36 contract and 9.31 ERA, saying of Perez, “he does not have an impressive pitching IQ. He has little craft. He generally has no clue where the ball is going once it leaves his hand.”

The Mets re-invested in Perez in the offseason under the belief that Dan Warthen, who became the pitching coach last June, had — in the words of Manuel — “unlocked [Perez] and he became pretty consistent.”

But there was a time when the Mets thought the same of Rick Peterson, who was replaced by Warthen. There is no unlocking Perez. There is just conning yourself that you have.

The rotation is Johan Santana and the Pips, and the most infuriating Pip is Perez. Manuel was so mad after an 8-1 loss that he said he wanted a night’s sleep before the next move, which could be anything from subtle (taking advantage of a Thursday off day to skip Perez’s next turn) to drastic (putting him in the pen) to nuclear (using the option Perez has left to send him to the minors).

“I have to figure out how long [to be patient] and what is patience,” Manuel said about a starter who certainly is testing the Met hierarchy’s tolerance.

Perez was most responsible for giving an atrocious team life, for preventing the Mets from sweeping the Washington Generals, uh, Nationals. He is the biggest worry, because the Pips are the largest concern the Mets have right now, and Perez is the most disturbing Pip.