04.24.09

Korrection Korner : Jim Baumbach Didn’t Tell Anyone To Shut Up About NYC’s New Stadiums

Posted in Internal Affairs, Sports Journalism, Technical Difficulties at 11:15 am by

Yesterday afternoon, I linked to a Newsday blog entry suggesting that criticism of NYC’s new ballparks was either played out or out-of-whack. I implied the author of said post was doing his readership a disservice.

Which is all well and good, except I misidentified the author. The entry in question was composed by Newsday’s Anthony Rieber, not Jim Baumbach. I’d like to offer Jim a very sincere apology for the error.

Spears : C’s Tony Allen Facing Death Threats In Chicago

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 9:43 am by

The Boston Globe’s Marc J. Spears is reporting backup guard Tony Allen —- 0 points, 3 rebounds in Boston’s 107-86 Game 3 defeat of the Bulls last night — has been the target of death threats in Chicago, and required additional security surrounding the Celtics’ bench Thursday evening.

Sources said Allen has been receiving the threats in Chicago for some time. The former Crane High star also received threats prior to a March 17 game at Chicago, sources said, but he didn’t make the trip because of a thumb injury.

“Is that what you’re going to write about? Is that what you’re going to write about?” said Allen, before walking away after being asked about the threats.

On April 25, 2007, Allen was found not guilty of aggravated battery in a Chicago court. The ruling came on the second day of a trial stemming from a fight in August 2005 outside a Chicago restaurant. The fight escalated into a shooting at the White Palace Grill in the West Loop Aug. 28.

04.23.09

Sully on Piniella and Bradley’s Towel-Clad Snoozefest; Dusty Beats Cubs, 7-1

Posted in Baseball at 9:41 pm by

[As the Cubs depart for St. Louis, some thoughts on the Gateway to the West from Captain Redneck, Dick Murdoch.]

First, my thanks to Reds manager Dusty Baker for picking the Cubs to win the division before proceeding to beat the North Siders today 7-1, and taking 2 of 3 in the Reds first 2009 series at Wrigley.   Zambrano actually did OK until a bad pickoff attempt led to a Cincinnati unearned run.  After that, you could feel the Cubs unravel.  Today’s bullpen humor included Neal Cotts, Aaron Heilman, and Jeff Samardzija. Called in to close after a stay in the Iowa AAA corn, Samardzija promptly gave away 2 insurance runs on a day when most Trib employees are scrambling to keep their coverage.

http://www.mtmshow.com/castknight.jpg

[Sully, waiting for Bradley to emerge from his meeting.]

Yes, 53 other Chicago Tribune workers are getting pinkslips.  And to add insult to their injury, in a Ted Baxter moment, Cub beat reporter Paul Sullivan is keeping his job.  Sully demonstrates why, via his genius for turning hot air into hot button news, with today’s coverage of the sit-down between Milton Bradley and Lou Piniella.  Sully makes Bradley out an eccentric in sentence one, noting MB’s entrance in nothing but a white towel wrapped around his waist and a blue towel covering his head.”  Apparently, Pinieilla told Bradley, a frequently injured player, he’s benched until he’s 100% healthy.   From the mgr who got a full season out of Rich Harden, this isn’t too surprising.  Still, just how bad does Sullivan want to see Bradley spanked?    Sully drama-queens this ten minute meeting into  a seminal moment” for the team, headlined: “Cubs’ Piniella lays down the law to Milton Bradley.”  Read Sully’s breathless account here:

So what did Piniella have to say?

That Bradley will sit until he’s 100 percent, that he will run out ground balls, and that he’ll be moved down to the No. 6 hole when he eventually returns to the lineup.

In what could be a seminal moment in the Cubs’ 2009 season, Bradley got his first real lesson of Life under Lou.

Asked about the nice chat, Piniella gave a CliffsNotes version of the meeting:

“I had a conversation with Milton. He’s not 100 percent. When he’s 100 percent I’ll put him out there to play. Until then, I’ll use (Reed) Johnson and I’ll use (Micah) Hoffpauir in the outfield.”

Bradley did not run hard on a grounder in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game, and did not go hard after a pop foul. He was booed twice by fans and blew off the media afterward. Piniella was asked if Bradley’s not running hard was what put him over the edge.

“Nothing has put me over the edge,” he replied. ”I don’t play people unless they’re totally healthy. That’s been my M.O. throughout my managerial career. With Milton, when he’s ready to play, we’ll put him out there.

“I told him basically that I’m going to take him out of the fourth hole when he gets back and put him in the sixth hole, where he’ll be a little more comfortable. And we’ll go from there. But when I get him out there, I expect him to run hard and play hard, the way he always has.”

Was Bradley understanding of the move?

“Yeah, he was understanding, yes,” Piniella replied.

WSC’s Gibbs : Gazza’s Return To Punditry Was Car Crash TV

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 7:47 pm by

The post-playing career of Paul Gascoigne has never ceased to be tabloid fodder, with the England international’s episodes of domestic violence and chronic self-abuse fashioning as much of his legacy as his achievements on the pitch.  As such, Gazza appearances on last Sunday morning’s Soccer AM (Sky) and Sunday evening’s Match of the Day 2 (BBC) seemed like disasters waiting to happen.  EPL Talk‘s Ross Gallacher called Gascoigne “more cogent than ever” and claims the Geordie legend was on “absolute top form”.   Sure enough, When Saturday Comes‘ Brian Gibbs respectfully disagrees, accusing the shows’ programmers of “presenting a freakshow”.

The kindest thing that could be said about Gascoigne’s MOTD2 debut, and his appearance on Soccer AMthe previous day, is that it was an improvement on his previous television punditry. But it was still painful to witness and it’s inconceivable that the BBC would not have expected that to be the case when they booked him. Presumably these latest media appearances are designed to aid in his rehabilitation, giving him a chance to appear in public to simply talk about football rather than once again recite the long list of problems that he is beset by.

But, however keen he is to remain in the limelight, feeding his need for public attention is unlikely to help him. He didn’t have coherent things to say about the football matches he watched, at least not enough to justify his presence on the pundit’s couch. But that’s not what he was there for. Like one of the zoo animals that behave unpredictably on a live children’s TV show, he was designed to be a talking point. It’s just a question of who was the more degraded by the experience, Paul Gascoigne or the BBC.

In February of ’08, I wrote “With the possible exception of Mike Tyson, it™s hard to come up with a global sporting icon whose fall from grace has been nearly as dramatic.  Gibbs makes a slight different analogy, opining of James Toback’s new documentary on Iron Mike, “however mentally damaged Tyson may be, he is also complex and articulate, someone whose interviews can make compelling viewing. That is not a claim that can be made for Britain’s best known screwed-up sports star.”

Newsday Scribe To NYC’s Disenfranchised Baseball Fans : Stop Your Sobbing

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 6:28 pm by

If one more person complains about the new stadiums’ ticket prices or sightlines or lack of Mets history and I’m going to go off. I mean it. I’ve never heard so many people whine about something that is (overall) so positive for New York baseball fans.

I mean it. One more complaint and you’re going to hear from me, New York.Jim Baumbach, Newsday, Anthony Rieber, Newsday, April 23, 2008

I’m just curious — and I hope this doesn’t sound like a complaint — how many games at Citi Field or the new Yankee Stadium has Mr. Rieber attended this season, where did he sit and how much did he pay for his tickets?   Grousing about either ballpark is probably getting a little tired for some, but I’d imagine there’s a higher percentage of Rieber’s readership who’d consider $23 for an upper deck, obstructed view seat to see Mets play the Padres on a weeknight a rotten deal than those who find such circumstances irrelevant.  Which baseball fans actually benefit from the “positive experience”  of being unable to attend the games?

That said, a cursory glance at CSTB sponsor FanSnap today revealed a plethora of Mets and Yankee tickets being sold for below face value, with some of the former’s upper tier seats going for as little as $6. Transportation and concessions costs aside, it might be possible this summer to see a Mets game for less than it would cost to check out the NY-Penn League Brooklyn Cyclones

If Sean Avery Doesn’t Need A Playoff Beard, Neither Do You

Posted in Blogged Down, Fashion, History's Great Hook-Ups, Hockey at 4:15 pm by

Come spring, a young man’s thoughts turn to….playoff hockey? OK, some young men, certainly. In solidarity with the New York Rangers — currently leading the Washington Capitals 3 games to 1 (not that you’d know from reading this blog, sadly) — The Gil Meche Experience‘s Pulp has a playoff beard on the go (“it allows me to feel like I’m doing more than just simple rooting”), however it’s not all fun and games at TGME HQ. You see, Pulp has a hot date Friday night.

I like this girl, so I don’t want to scare her off by seeming weird or looking like a deranged homeless man. My friend Dan suggested joking about it off the bat, but even calling attention to it makes me nervous, since then I’ll think she’s always staring at it and wondering if that’s food caught in it. Which is a ridiculous idea because I can’t even grow a beard thick enough to catch food in it.

There has to be something in my DNA that’s causing this, because I’m far from the first person in my family to sacrifice social grace for Rangers playoff action. In 1994, my dad was attending a family friend’s anniversary party. It just happened to fall on the same night as Rangers/Devils Game 7. So my dad, doing what any fan would do, turned the game on during the party. Whoops, bad move. Everyone stopped dancing and even the band stopped playing to revel in the drama up intil Stephane Matteau’s big moment. The family friend still doesn’t speak to my dad. Still, my mom married him, so there are obviously women out there who understand the problems associated with playoff hockey. I guess, maybe? I don’t know.

Make no mistake though, I can’t get rid of the beard, especially with the Rangers up 3-1 and heading to Washington on Friday to try to put their first round series away. The Rangers need me. They need me and my terrible beard. Don’t think the beard works? Shows what you know. Henrik Lundqvist’s inhuman performance? Chris Drury’s odd angle goal last night? Alexander Ovechkin’s thus far quiet series? It’s all thanks to the beard, friends, this I know.

I usually not the superstitious type, but I’ve not trimmed my eyebrows since the start of the Mets’ current 4-game losing streak.

Randy Levine’s Brilliant Plan To Address The Nu Stadium’s Acres Of Empty Seats

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 11:56 am by

If you tuned into YES’ coverage of the Yankees’ 9-7, 14-inning victory over the A’s yesterday, it was hard not to notice the game reached a conclusion in front of what seemed like more participants than spectators. Granted, not everyone can hang around for all 14 innings, but less than a week after opening for business, Yankee Stadium was no more occupied than McAfee Coliseum might’ve been for an early April matinee. In Wednesday’s New York Times, Ken Belson tackled the Yankees and Mets’ early attendance woes and dropped this tidbit at the very end of his item :

Randy Levine (above), the Yankees’ president, said last week that attendance at the second home game was proportionately ahead of last year’s pace. Levine also said that 80 to 85 percent of the Stadium’s 4,000 premium seats had been sold for the full season.

For next season, the Yankees plan to raise premium ticket prices 4 percent.

Chutzpah? Unmitigated greed? Or, as WNBC.com’s Josh Alper (of the late, great Feed blog) sees it, completely out of touch with reality.

You have to admire the Yankees at some level for their staunch refusal to play the public relations game. Empty seats that make Yankee Stadium look like Pittsburgh? We don’t care because we’re making money all the same. Widespread negative response to a Stadium and the amount it costs to visit? We’re raising prices.

On another level, though, that plan turns your stomach. The team’s owner has admitted some of the tickets are overpriced, which is a pretty clear sign that they’re overpriced, but Levine sees no reason to turn back. Either Levine knows something we don’t about where the economy is headed in the next few months, or he’s insane.

Here’s a vote for insane

So This Is What The Phoenix Suns Were Working On While En Route To The Lottery

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression at 10:37 am by

I’m not sure who oughta be more offended by the full-length version of the above clip, Todd Phillips or the Beastie Boys. Either way, props to auteur Steve Nash for finally finding a constructive use for Shaquille O’Neal’s police fetish.

Carter Admits Coveting Randolph’s Job Was A Faux Pas, Neglects To Give Jerry Manuel A Vote Of Confidence

Posted in Baseball at 10:21 am by

The Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks — the indie repository that from time to time has served as a baseball halfway house for legends including but not limited to John Rocker, Jose Offerman, Carl Everett and Pete Rose Jr.— are preparing for tomorrow night’s home opener with Southern Maryland, and what better way to stoke interest than by having the manager make what Chris Morris might call, ” a full and frank apology”? From Newsday’s Adam Ronis.

Gary Carter (above, left) received a lot of criticism for expressing his interest in the Mets managerial job last season when Willie Randolph still held the position. Almost a year later, Carter realizes he made a mistake.

“We all make mistakes in our lifetime,” said Carter at Ducks media day Wednesday. “With what happened, that politically incorrect statement what I said about my interest, then I would say yes it is a mistake. I wasn’t trying to step on anybody’s toes or undermine anybody. My intentions, I think, were sincere. They certainly were not malicious by any means. When it comes down to it, I’ve learned from that. It won’t happen again. I can tell you that.”

Carter said he spoke with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin in the offseason about managing the team, but Melvin had his candidates in line. Carter also spoke with Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik about that team’s opening, but Carter said that Zduriencik already had Don Wakamatsu in mind.

“It’s sometimes a chess game and just being in the right place at the right time,” Carter said.

I think I speak for many Mets bloggers fans when hoping-wishing-praying some sort of big league vacancy opens up in which the The Kid and Wally Backman are both candidates and end up openly campaigning against each other.

Atlanta : Equally Lousy At Counting To Six, Zookeeping

Posted in Basketball at 9:58 am by

Harsh enough that Atlanta squandered home court advantage in their Eastern Conference first-rounder by losing to Miami last night, 108-93, but True Hoop’s Henry Abbott wonders just what the heck is going on in Phillips Arena’s game operations department. A year after Hawks’ scorekeepers booted Shaquille O’Neal from a game in which he only had 5 fouls (causing the final minute of said contest to be replayed at a later date), Atlanta allowed a national televised playoff game to be interrupted by a flying hawk. Not this sort, either, as Abbott explains.

There we are, with 9:44 left in the first quarter, and Spirit the Hawk — an actual live Hawk in the habit of swooping from the rafters during introductions — landed on the basket support, but well away from play.

A little weird, perhaps, but not without novelty value.

Then with 9:17 left, just after Josh Smith had poked the ball out of bounds, play was briefly stopped as Spirit swooped around, freaking everybody out. Some fans ducked, needlessly, as he is a very precise bird and was easily a dozen feet above their heads. This time, he came to rest on top a remote-control TV camera mounted atop the shot clock, as you can see above.

NBA referees might stop a game for a bald eagle or an osprey. But this was a Harris Hawk. Game on.

Spirit stayed put for one play. But after James Jones drained a 3, and the action moved to the other end, Spirit moved the length of the court to take a closer look.

And that’s when the trouble really started, with 8:48 left in the quarter. Referee Danny Crawford wanted to be tossing up a jumpball, but instead was suddenly faced with players worrying over a real live hawk perched directly on the backboard — a high-arcing baseline jumper might well brush his beak.

Crawford must be a dad, because he did what any reasonable dad would do — tried to look like he was dealing with it. He approached the bird somewhat gingerly, making eye contact all the way. Then, to ensure the safety of all, he somewhat vigorously slapped the ball with his own hand. Once. And then again. All the while, he studied the hawk for a reaction. I can only imagine he was testing — to determine character. Was it a stable bird — or one that would attack after, say, a ball-slapping?

04.22.09

The Day Morrissey Came By To Do Bong Hits

Posted in Modern Art at 8:10 pm by

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(“FORTUNATE TEENS PARTY WITH MORRISSEY, 1994″ by Derek Erdman)

Chicago’s Derek Erdman has a new show, “Derek Erdman’s Fantasy Sports”, opening at Norman, OK’s Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery on May 8.  The above piece is described thusly in an Erdman post to a popular social networking website  ;

There is a seldom told story that Morrissey’s tour bus broke down in small town Ohio in the autumn of 1994. A full day was necessary for the repairs to be completed and Morrissey and his band delighted local teenaged fans by stopping by a house party to drink beer and smoke marijuana. “It was the time of my life,” remarks Tamara Marshall, who was hosting the party. “My parents were out of town and I was told not to have a party, but once Morrissey showed up I knew I wasn’t going to be a secret for long.” When asked what she remembered most about Morrissey’s visit, Tamara answered, “he didn’t like Rolling Rock beer.”

Let Lawrence Frank’s Twisting-In-The-Wind Commence

Posted in Basketball at 6:42 pm by

Nets President Rod Thorn met with the local media Wednesday and couldn’t say for sure if head coach Lawrence Frank (above) would be returning to the Swamp next Autumn, a non-announcment the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro considers the start of “a silly, Dolanesque phase, the one where his boss needs to sit in a dark room and ruminate for a while…you just had 82 games to decide whether Frank is the right guy for this team, and you’re still not sure?”

Thorn was pleased with the way the four (FOUR) key young guys developed. … fine with the way the coach managed Yi’s minutes. … delirious with the seasons the coach coaxed out of three of the veterans (Keyon/Jarvis/Bobby). … and now Thorn thinks they all may need a new voice?

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Make no mistake, the three main things that give him pause all have some legitimacy. He just doesn’t want to say it. He’s worried about this coach being able to coax another big year out of Carter, and push Harris one more step beyond his current (flawed) level. And he’s wondering whether a new guy can imbue a team-wide defensive mindset that these players obviously don’t have.

Thorn, we surmise, went into a Tuesday night meeting expecting this to be a formality and took hits left and right. They must have really beaten him up — investors, business folks, maybe even a basketball person. And to appease them — or because they actually brought up a reasonable arguments amid the rancor — he said he’ll sleep on it. For two weeks or so.

Ronni’s MetsVlog : A Rev. Run Cameo (And Just A Day Early For Daniel Murphy Bashing)

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 4:44 pm by

  What Ronni’s clips lack in production value — the latest of which was posted yesterday — they continue to more than make up for in awesome set design.

Non-Metallic K.O.’s New (Blogging?) Gig

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism, The Internet at 4:27 pm by

œI’ve long respected MLB.com’s editorial independence and I’ll be delighted to test it, says MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann of his hiring by MLB Advanced Media (link courtesy Maury Brown’s Biz Of Baseball), and while I’m sure the O’Reilly-baiter is chuffed to be a colleague of David Roth, hasn’t MLB.com’s editorial direction been tested time and time again by Sultan Of Surly valet Barry M. Bloom?

Olbermann™s columns, currently available three times per week at keitholbermann.mlblogs.com, will provide fans with his œBaseball Nerd perspective of the game across various platforms. He also is the first national journalist hired as part of MLBAM™s digital newspaper initiative, currently scheduled for a May launch.

At his request, Olbermann™s full salary for his work as an at-large columnist will be split equally among three charitable organizations. They will be: the Baseball Assistance Team, St. Jude™s Children™s Research Hospital and the Jayden Braden/Ariana Marzano College Fund, established in support of the late John Marzano™s grandchildren. Marzano, a former Major Leaguer and MLB.com host, died just over one year ago in a home accident in Philadelphia.

“Seriously, it’s an honor to be able to write about all the obscure things I love inside the game I love,” said Olberann, “and to help some worthy causes in the process, and to honor an old friend. Not to mention that it will be my politics-free oasis. Unless another cat jumps up at another Governor. 

Glue Factory Update : Beloved Denver Mascot Perishes

Posted in Going To The Zoo, Gridiron at 3:51 pm by

9News.com  and The Denver Post reported earlier today that Thunder I, longtime Broncos mascot, passed away this weekend at the Littleton Large Animal Clinic.  There’s a particular scene in Albert Brooks’ “Real Life” that comes to mind, and I certainly hope Pat Bowlen wasn’t told they’d “lost” Thunder I.

Thunder, known as Thunder, Sr., retired after the 2003 football season, according to Denver Broncos.com.

He was an Arabian stallion and served for 10 seasons until he turned 21. That means he was 27 years old when he died.

Thunder, Sr. was owned by Sharon Magness-Blake and made his debut for the Broncos at Mile High Stadium on Sept. 12, 1993 for the Broncos’ victory over the San Diego Chargers. He appeared at both Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII.

His registered named was JB Kobask. 

Deek Goes Out Feet First, As Predicted

Posted in Basketball at 11:33 am by

I mean, it was on a stretcher, he’s going to be fine, but after 18 NBA seasons it was pretty clear that Dikembe Mutombo was not going to simply decide to walk away from the NBA. He would be carried away. He would drive away in one of those little Rascal-brand scooters favored by particularly rascally olds. But he wasn’t going to stop until something in his body decided it was time for him to stop. That finally happened in the Rockets’ game two loss to the Blazers last night, when he suffered a gnarly knee injury and was carried from the court for what he says will be the last time. NBA basketball was an increasingly small part of a life that was coming to be more defined by an amazing global charity portfolio, but while Mutombo certainly won’t vanish from public life, there’s a real aesthetic loss for basketball fans in his disappearance — the guy was just so weird, so interesting and unique and surprising, even leaving aside his basketball work. Richard Justice puts it in perspective in the Houston Chronicle:

He was an amazingly good citizen of the world. He had a charitable heart and devoted countless hours and dollars to the causes he believed in. He’s a role model for every future player.

His 18-year NBA career ended Tuesday night with a gruesome knee injury midway through his 1,297th game. He left the floor on a stretcher after every single teammate had surrounded him on the floor. That gesture spoke volumes about what they thought of him. He’s the funniest, smartest professional athlete you will ever meet.

He has that booming raspy voice, that wide smile and that very loud laugh. When he got excited, you had trouble understanding more than a word or two of what he was saying. When the Rockets were negotiating a contract with him a couple of years ago, they finally gave up trying to do by telephone and flew to Atlanta for a face-to-face meeting.

”Daryl Morey,” he said loudly last summer, ”I won’t play for one dollar again next season.”

”Actually,” Morey told him, “that was closer to $5 million. Not one dollar, but $5 million. Big difference.”

I always kind of thought there was something silly about Mutombo, deep into his NBA dotage, continuing the post-block finger-wag thing. It’s like if K-Rod was still rubbing his belly and doing the two-hand skyward-exult in 12 years, when he’s a set-up guy in Milwaukee and just threw a perfect seventh inning. But in a league that has wrung so much personal expression from its players in the name of protecting its fading brand, the wag — and its author — will be missed.

04.21.09

CSTB Surgery, Part III

Posted in Internal Affairs at 10:51 pm by

CSTB Contributors: At this point, any posts added to CSTB may be temporarily lost in the coming transition across the following day (April 21-22). This is the situation until further notice.

Go ahead and add them, but keep safety (local) copies of text and images on hand.  The next 24-36 hours might not be the right time to unveil your magnum opus without a backup.

The migration is going real well, I’m just waiting on the domain name changeover or the original server being shut off, whichever comes first.

Where Does B.J. Raji Go To Get A Bag Of Weed His Reputation Back?

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 8:41 pm by

From time to time, we’ll hear a Costas-esque character denounce the internet as a virtual wild-west of unproven allegations and factual inaccuracies.  On some occasions, such criticisms are valid, like in the case of Boston College DT B.J. Raji (above), falsely fingered by Sports Illustrated.com earlier this year for reportedly having flunked an NFL combine drug test. 

Today, SI.com issued a correction.  Or as “Weekend Update”‘s Emily Litella might’ve said, “never mind”.

Hubbach : What’s Up With Mets Dissing Ryan Church?

Posted in Baseball at 5:18 pm by

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“You wouldn’t think the Mets’ talented right fielder would need much defending,” protests the New York Post’s Bart Hubbach, “what with Ryan Church ranking among the NL leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, multi-hit games and doubles so far this season.”  Even so, Church was benched in favor of the out-of-shape Gary Sheffield during Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, a move Hubbach likens to  “the Mets acting out against Church out of guilt for botching his post-concussion treatment last year, when they inexplicably put him on a cross-country flight to Colorado with his brains half-scrambled.”

You might remember that mid-February morning when Manuel, out of nowhere, proclaimed that Daniel Murphy — who had all of 131 major-league at-bats at the time — was a better hitter than Church. And that Church might end up platooning in right with Fernando Tatis.

Sure, Church was coming off a 2008 season that essentially was a wasted year after he suffered his second concussion in late May.

But Church had been the Mets’ undisputed MVP the first two months of last season and deserved the benefit of the doubt after gamely coming back from one of the most horrific concussions I’ve ever seen (and I covered the NFL for more than a decade).

To this day, I wonder sometimes how Church wasn’t paralyzed — or worse — after his head took the full brunt of Yunel Escobar’s knee at second base that May night in Atlanta.

Yet Church ended up missing less than two months, and his reward on the first day of spring training this year was to be insulted by his manager with comments Church had no idea were coming?

Throw out the hoopla of Sheffield’s 500th home run and you’ll notice he’s hitting .182 while so far proving to no one that he has much left. So in other words, Sheffield gives the Mets less value at the plate and less value defensively than Church.

By all means, start Sheffield regularly!

Bob Feller : Not Nearly Content To Focus On His Lucrative Autograph Business

Posted in Baseball at 4:50 pm by

While I’ve wondered from time to time how much longer Livan Hernandez and Jamie Moyer might start for their respective clubs, there’s always a 90 year old starter available in a pinch. Sadly, that hurler happens to be social commentator Bob Feller, as the New York Times’ George Vecsey explains.

The old boy plans to be the starting pitcher in something called the Hall of Fame Classic, for retired major league stars, in Cooperstown, N.Y., on June 21. This game will take the place of the extinct exhibition between two major league teams ” mostly farmhands, in recent years ” who made the schlep into deepest upstate New York on the rare off day.

œRidiculous, Feller blurted, insisting that baseball should still supply two teams for this pleasant tradition, the way it did when baseball had a lighter schedule, confined to the northeast quadrant of the United States.

œWe look at the last 70 years as a gift, said Jeff Idelson, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. œBut the game had run its course.

As soon as the Hall came up with the gimmick of an exhibition among old-timers on Father™s Day, the first incoming call was from Rapid Robert.

 

 

œHe was the first to volunteer for the war, Idelson said. œYou think he wouldn™t be the first to volunteer for this?

Send This One To The Museum Of Broadcasting : An Especially Curious Blazers TV Intro

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 4:41 pm by

Video link swiped from Carrie Brownstein. I’m not sure what could get you more pumped up for tonight’s Game 2 against the Rockets than vintage footage of Dr. Jack Ramsey waking up from an in-fight nap.

ClipperBlog’s Arnovitz: I’m Not Going to Pay a Lot for this Z-Bo

Posted in Basketball, Money at 2:56 pm by

Clean and classy and redolent of that new ballpark smell though they might be, New York’s new stadiums are already monuments to the (now disproved) belief that there would always somehow be a limitless pool of people willing to lay out hundreds of dollars to watch Nelson Figueroa or Nick Swisher up close. The city’s new ballparks have fewer seats, they’re more expensive, and the ones up top — as GC found out — generally have something of an afterthought vibe about them. That the Mets and Yankees unwisely chose to make baseball games a luxury purchase at the very moment that most people realized they probably should cut back on luxury purchases is evinced, game by game, in blocks of empty seats, and those seats will likely remain empty until the economy starts working again or the clubs lower prices. The fact that the biggest jerk in New York sports media is pointing this out doesn’t make it less true (or make Wally Matthews less appalling). And the fact that it’s pinching inexplicably self-serious Yankee fans who specialize in leading gay-baiting chants doesn’t make it suck any less. Well, kind of, but it’s still pretty lame.

Of course, this isn’t just happening in New York. At ClipperBlog, the estimable Kevin Arnovitz suggests a free-market response to the problem faced by Clippers season ticket holders stuck holding seats that — like TARP-y “legacy assets” that offer a view of Zach Randolph’s neck rolls instead of a slice of some defaulted mortgage in a Florida subdivision — are no longer worth what they cost.

Whether they™re trying to unload $100 tickets for pennies on the dollar or implementing œdynamic pricing, or hosting a Stubhub booth on their premises, pro sports franchises readily acknowledge that the market for their product is elastic. A pair of seats that fetches $40 to a Tuesday night game against Sacramento might go for five times that on a Saturday night against the Lakers. The Clippers know that, and they know you know.

To those outraged that they™re consistently being asked to pay more than their tickets are worth, my advice is to negotiate. Calculate the market value of your Clippers™ season tickets and offer that amount to your ticket rep. If you hold a pair of $27 seats between the baselines in the first few rows of the upper bowl, you know those tickets aren™t worth more than $20 on the open market. Your first offer to the season ticket rep should be in the $1,650 range ” well below the $2,376 the Clippers are asking. If you have friends or people in your section who approximate the value of their tickets similarly to you, then you should join together to enhance your purchasing power.

…This isn™t about kicking the organization while it™s down. If you have season tickets to the Nuggets, Magic, Hawks, Bobcats, Dodgers, Padres, Seahawks, Flames, LA Phil, or Geffen Playhouse, the same principles should apply. We negotiate home purchases, car leases, and gym memberships. The bank that holds my mortgage just went into receivership, and my assumption is that the FDIC will turn around and negotiate the sale of my loan at a discount. We™re in a recession ” everything is negotiable.

Raptors GM : Nice Guys Finish Fourth

Posted in Basketball at 2:18 pm by

Though stressing Chris Bosh “is arguably a top ten player” (and some would love to argue about that), Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo (above) ponders future moves for his lottery-bound club, telling the Star’s Doug Smith, “”We are too nice, we are too nice as a group. Collectively, the group is too nice.”

“That’s not to say you’ve got to go out and get bad guys (but) when you step on the court, you better have some fight. I think some of the guys were saying you better have some dog in you.”

And that’s more pitbull than poodle.

“It becomes a matter of pride at some point,” Colangelo said “It can’t be me up here defending the roster all the time, it has to be them defending themselves. But in terms of what we’re looking to do when we’re addressing personnel this summer, we’re going to be bringing in perhaps players with a different mentality.

“Again, some of the fiercest competitors are nice guys off the court or in the locker room, but when they step on that playing surface they become maniacal. And we want to find some of that.”

The general manager also said “ again “ that he has no intention of trading Bosh simply because he can become a free agent after the 2009-10 season.

“I think it would be foolish to just simply decide today that today is the day we’re going to trade him because there’s a possibility he might leave a year from now,” said Colangelo. “Chris is still the best player on this team and thus will remain the cornerstone of the franchise until some other time when that decision is made.”

Derrick Rose : A Portrait Of Unflappability

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Modern Art at 1:57 pm by

A series of portraits, actually, as done by Garbage Time All-Stars’ Josh.  Ray Stevenson became a leading man with exactly as many facial expressions.

Tough Times For Tiresome Yankee Mascot

Posted in Baseball at 1:33 pm by

It’s a confusing period in Bombers history to be sure. The team looks like shit, the new building is getting lousy press, so what’s a hopeless, pathetic, widely despised shill for the club supposed to do? But enough about Michael Kay, it seems longtime Bronx fixture Freddie “Sez” is having a rough go of it as well. From the New York Post’s Jeremy Olshan :

Freddy “Sez” Schuman, the one-eyed, cookware-clanking octogenarian who’s been an unofficial pinstripe mascot for 22 seasons was forced to panhandle for tickets at the new Yankee Stadium this past weekend.

On Opening Day he had no trouble getting into the new ballpark for free through the press gate, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he had to depend on the kindness of fellow Yankee fans for free seats.

“The Yankees say I am a part of the stadium. What part am I, the toilet bowl?” Schuman said. “But the fans have come through. They gave me $40, and even $100 tickets.”

The uncertainty about his future presence at the stadium has given him insomnia and indigestion, Schuman said.

Yankee officials insist that shutting out their superfan was just a “miscommunication.” When Schuman first told the Post he was nervous about being shut out two weeks ago, a team spokeswoman said “We love Freddy and will accommodate him.”

“That’s fantastic news,” said Schuman, who lost his eye in a stickball injury, now lives on a fixed income of little more than $750 a month, he said.

He cannot afford the seats at the new game, and doesn’t really need one, since he spends his time in the stadium walking around and letting fans clank his pan with a spoon for good luck.