The Kid’s Autograph Tariff

Posted in Baseball at 7:38 pm by

Poking around the interweb reveals some weird details about members of the World Champion 1986 Mets.  For instance, Wally Backman’s biography at the Joliet Jackhammers website causally mentions the second baseman dubbed “that little redneck’ by Darryl Strawberry, was “announced as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on November 1, 2004.”  Sure, he was fired a few days later, but why let a negative tidbit like that ruin a perfectly good looing resume?

Equally curious is an item from the Long Island Ducks’ official website which  unveil’s “Gary Carter Autograph Policy.” “Dear Fan, “ the note begins optimistically (clearly, Carter has one specific person in mind), before informing the reader that Mr. Carter (above, far left)  will not sign any “MLB-badged item” unless the recipient has made a $25.00 contribution to the Gary Carter Foundation.   If you’re not, y’know, eBay trash, Carter is still willing to sign Ducks and/or Atlantic League swag free of charge.

Plaschke : Manny’s All-Star Candidacy Is “A Great Disgrace”

Posted in Baseball at 7:08 pm by

While the Dodgers seek to avoid losing 3 of 4 to the Cubs tonight the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke (above) can’t quite get off the topic of Manny Ramirez’ alleged lack of contrition (“the Dodgers have showered Ramirez with much love, almost painting him as the victim while those who dare criticize him are the criminals”). He can’t stop hitting the carriage return every sentence or two either, but that’s just Plaschke Being Plaschke.

Where is the Dodgers’ public anti-steroid campaign that focuses on the drugs’ effects on today’s youth? Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to launch one?

Where is the respect for the hundreds of thousands of fans who bought tickets for games in which Ramirez is not playing? By continually deferring to Ramirez, the Dodgers continually insult those fans.

And why won’t somebody, anybody, trumpet the fact that without Ramirez, they have still won 13 of 22 games while increasing their lead in the National League West. Just once, I’d like a team official to say, “You know, we’re a pretty good team without him.”

Ramirez is not gone because he is injured, or ill, or fighting for our country in Iraq. He is gone because he is a cheater, period.

Yet the Dodgers insist on treating him as if his absence was something necessary or noble, and one can only guess why.

Are they scared of Ramirez, who can opt out of his contract after this season? Or are they scared of the fans who love him so much?

It seems to be both. Earlier this week, McCourt typified the Dodgers’ coddling attitude when he was asked about Ramirez’s potential, as the fourth-leading vote-getter among National League outfielders so far, to appear in this year’s All-Star game.

“‘Do I want to see him?” he told reporters. “Sure, if he gets voted in. It’d be a great honor.”

Me, I think it would be a great disgrace, and I could not believe that the community-minded McCourt would think otherwise.

Texas & BC’s 25 Inning War – The Longest Game I’ve Ever Walked Out Of Twice

Posted in Baseball, consumer affairs at 5:34 pm by

Much will continue to be written about Saturday’s Game 4 of the NCAA Austin Regional, a record/patience-shattering affair that saw the no. 1 seed University Of Texas outlast Boston College, 3-2 in a 25-inning, 7 hour + marathon, in particular, the astonishing performance of Texas reliever Austin Wood.

In an era in which a big-league closer going more than 3 outs is rare enough, Wood’s 13 IP, 169 pitch, shutout performance  is almost impossible to believe.  Not for me, however.  I was there.   For part of it, anyway.

In arriving late (top of the 7th) and leaving early (end of the 19th), I might’ve missed the begining and end of what was arguably was of the greatest collegiate postseason games ever played (it was certainly the longest), but I did witness the first 10.2 IP of Wood’s 12 inning no-no.  As such, I’m keeping my ticket stub in a very special treasure chest containing other cherished sporting nicknacks that are worth no money whatsoever.

Action at Disch-Falk continues in about 45 minutes, as the Longhorns host Army for the second time in 3 days.  If Texas wins, they’ll advance to next weekend’s Super Regionals.  A victory for the visiting G.I. Joe Wannabees pushes the series to a decisive 4th game (Monday evening).

Under the Crossbar and Dreaming

Posted in Hockey, music, Sports TV at 4:08 am by

Intriguing analogy from one of John Buccigross’s readers.


I was thinking about why people hate Sidney so much, and it reminded me of why I dislike DMB [Dave Matthews Band].

When I was in college (1995-05), DMB started to get popular, and I, like many, enjoyed his music. After a month of “Ant Marching” playing on the radio every other song, I grew tired of DMB and changed the channel every time it came on. People kept telling me how great DMB was and questioning why I decide to not listen to their music. I just grew tired of hearing them. Everyone tells me the DMB jam sessions are incredible in concert. Someday, I may break down and go.

I think that is how the hockey world feels about Sidney at this point. Everyone (except us Pittsburgh fans) is tired of hearing about him. Sidney vs. Richard, Sidney vs. Ovie, Sidney vs. Staal. People have just burned out and hate for no apparent reason, because I agree with you that he is what hockey is all about. Also, I think that if people watch the live version of Sidney, they would have a newfound respect.

Terry Ayers
Fort Mill, S.C.

I’ve never grown tired of Dave Mathews Band, Ben Folds, Nicklas Lidstrom or any artist or athlete with originality, talent and commitment. I find these people inspiring. I understand growing tired of Lady Gaga, Cheez Doodles or ham, but not unique greatness.

I don’t know, anyone who lived in South Carolina and spent 10 years in college probably saw their share of Hootie and 7 Mary Three shows – which hockey players are those bands?

Also, if you don’t think ham falls into the category of “unique greatness,” you’re not eating the right ham.

Meanwhile Folds, who is a solid dozen years past his sell-by date in my book, apparently does quite well in the online sportswriter demographic. From Joe Posnanski’s Twitter:

Being old, we showed up at the 7 pm Ben Folds show at 7 pm. Ben, playing to a much younger crowd, goes on at 9:30.

Yeah, but have those youngsters given up old-school baseball ideology for sabermetrics to the extent Posnanski has?

Nicklas Lidstrom, I reckon, is the Belle and Sebastian of hockey: Always understated, sometimes overlooked, occasionally misunderstood, nonpareil.


Seattle Scribe : Who Is This Guy Playing LF For Philly And Where Have We Seen Him Before?

Posted in Baseball at 6:56 pm by

Aside from Raul Ibanez‘ robust offensive output thus far for Philadelphia ( 17 HR’s, 1.019 OPS), old pal Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times notes Ibanez’ solid glovework in left field (“imagine how shocking it is to look at Ultimate Zone Ratings stats this morning and see that Ibanez is actually on the plus-side of the runs saved equation for the first time since 2004. As of today, Ibanez has a +4.6 score in UZR and is projected to finish with a +9.8…with his offensive numbers thrown in, he’s arguably an MVP candidate”) and concludes the former Mariner is a great fit at his new home venue.

I think the ballpark in Philadelphia plays to his strengths. If you know he can cover ground running back to the wall and you know there is less distance to cover in left field there compared to at Safeco Field, it makes sense that Ibanez could be cheating further up towards the infield.

By doing so, he can cut down the number of blooped hits that drop in front of him and penalize him on the UZR front. At the same time, he can still track down balls he runs back on because there is less ground to cover before he gets to the wall. And, he has the skills to make the tougher plays when he’s running back.

For me, that’s the easiest explanation for why he’s gone from very good player to superstar in the span of a season. Sounds like the Phillies knew what they were doing when they went out and got Ibanez. They looked at his skillset and saw a guy who could fit into their home park pretty well.

And now, instead of being penalized for skills that did not fit Safeco very well, he is maximizing what he does have at a home park that plays to his stengths.

Hayward To Chelsea : How About David Moyes?

Posted in Football at 6:43 pm by

Days after reports surfced linking Carlos Ancelotti to Chelsea next season, Gus Hiddink has completed his brief spell in charge at Stamford Bridge with Saturday’s F.A. Cup final triumph over Everton. In the wake of allegations that John Terry all but demanded Jose Mourinho’s departure, the Guardian’s Paul Hayward pleads with Roman Abramovitch to “handle the succession better than he has in all previous attempts.”

An Italian, a Portuguese, an Israeli, a Brazilian, a Dutchman and now probably an Italian again: this is the timeline of 21st-century Chelsea managers. Sticklers will point to the missing Englishman. Squeezed into this cosmopolitan sequence is Ray Wilkins, who assumed command for a few days between Luiz Felipe Scolari’s sacking and Hiddink’s arrival from the Red Adair school.

Some senior Chelsea players are known to harbour deep misgivings about starting over with a Milanese aristocrat steeped in Serie A who speaks little English. It would take Ancelotti several months to adjust to the Premier League, with its unique rhythms. In Italy he is synonymous with ageing teams who play slow football: the very thing Abramovich was trying to escape, supposedly, when he complained to Ancelotti that his side lacked a “personality”.

“I wanted it to be much harder for someone to win a trophy [in English football] than to do it in three-and-a-half months,” the Everton manager, David Moyes, said of Hiddink. One wonders whether the best manager outside the top four has been mentioned as a possible successor. It worked against Everton, of course, that Chelsea’s players were on such a mission to send a Dutchman back to Russia with love.

It will be much harder for Abramovich to find someone new for them to adore. If he were thinking straight, Moyes would be a candidate.

Someone Needs To Explain The “Slumpbuster” Concept To David Wright All Over Again

Posted in Baseball at 3:26 pm by

If this is how the Mets’ third baseman reacted to going 0-5 in Friday’s 11-inning, 2-1 defeat of Florida, can you imagine how Tim Redding will respond to his own miserable outing (4 IP, 7 earned runs, 8 hits) earlier today? (image culled from Brooklyn Mutt)

Singles Going Steady, Broadway Going To Broadway

Posted in Baseball at 12:14 am by

(Not pictured: Mark Teahen, riding shotgun)

White Sox 11 KC 2

The stepped-up offerings of ascendant bullpen refugee LHP Clayton Richard (W, 2-0 7IP 6H 2ER 7K 1BB) kept the Royals runless until the 7th, making good use of Mark Buehrle-like pacing and agressive 3-2 curveballs.   While exactly the kind of stuff needed to plug the Contreras-sized hole in the rotation, much of it was wasted by the 6th, as the Sox had piled up an 11-0 lead.

Uncharacteristically, the run of runs had less to do with power than manufacture.   Beyond a Jermaine Dye solo shot in the first, no homers figured in the deluge and the dismal RISP effectivenes of the Sox got a serious boost with a string of base hits, adding up to 17 before the night was up.  RHP Brian Bannister (L, 4-2, 5IP, 9H, 7R 4K 1BB) lasted long enough to fall behind by 6, only to bring out the hapless Sidney Ponson, whose 1/3 inning produced 4 earned runs by way of singles and doubles to Konerko, Anderson, Ramirez and Fields.  Kyle Farnsworth gave up two more before Dewayne Wise was lulled to sleep by the lack of home runs, forgot the outs and was run down.

Following the blowout, Kenny Williams announced a strange deal with the Mets, trading mild-throwing, walk-prone RHP reliever Lance Broadway (16IP, 19H 10R, 1.75 WHIP) for backup C Ramon Castro and $2 Mil in cash, leaving backup catcher Corky Miller designated for assignment.  Life goes on, Corky, life goes on.  I’ll leave it to GC to plot what role Broadway will fill at Death Valley East, but I’ll guess that Castro will do three things for the Sox: 1) ruin the week of behemoth bridesmaid Birmingam C Tyler Flowers  2) gun down about as many runners as AJ and Miller and 3) momentarily confuse and frighten Alexei Ramirez with his last name.


Klapisch On Death Valley East, Aka Citi Field

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 5:26 pm by

While Tim Marchman has Baseball Think Factory abuzz with a not-entirely-serious headline of “They Should Trade Him For Mark De Rosa” (“Him” being newly promoted deer-in-the-headlights rookie OF Fernando Martinez), another writer considers the Mets’ poor power numbers and impact of Fred & Jeff’s homage to Ebbets Field Petco Park. “The stunning new ballpark is a shrine for pitchers,” observes the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch, “but a black hole for gap hitters who used to reach the fences at Shea Stadium.” Or to regurgitate a line I’ve repeated far too often, Citi was built with a particular team in mind. Sadly, that team was the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals.

OK, I said the ’85 Cards the first few times. But as Klapisch points out, the last club to win a World Series with fewer than 100 HR’s was St. Louis’ 82 squad.

No wonder David Wright and Carlos Beltran are glum, already resigned to Citi™s configuration that includes a 415-foot canyon in right-center (44 feet farther than at Shea) a 15-foot wall in left-center and an even more forbidding 16-foot barrier in dead center, 408 feet away from home plate.

The result is home runs that barely make it ” Gary Sheffield™s monstrous blast against the Nationals on Monday only landed in the first row ” and others that require video confirmation, like Sheffield™s on Tuesday and Daniel Murphy™s on Wednesday night.

Otherwise, an army of fly balls simply die short of the wall, which Wright called œfrustrating.

œThat™s something we™re going to have to live with and deal with, he added. œYou can get upset and you can get angry for a second, but hopefully it equals out where you get some bleeders to fall in because the outfield is so deep.

Beltran echoed the less-than-enthusiastic scouting report.

œThe fences are high, the ballpark is big, but we have to play here, he said. œThis is our home. We have to feel comfortable here.

Mets officials are aware of the grumbling, but say it™s too early to return a final verdict. œLet™s see how [Citi] plays over the summer when it gets hot, said one senior official. œRight now the sample size is too small.

The wall in left and center is actually two eight-foot pads, one of which can be replaced by a four or two-foot pad, creating a home run mark of just 12 or 10 feet. And if Jeff Wilpon and GM Omar Minaya decide the Mets™ offense is truly starving, the second pad can be removed altogether, shortening the wall to just eight feet.

With Brian Schnieder scheduled to come off the disabled list tomorrow, the Daily News’ Adam Rubin reports the Mets are frantically trying to trade Ramon Castro prior to Saturday’s 1:10pm game.

Leyland : Anatomy Of A (Mild) Tantrum

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 1:08 pm by

“It’s happened before. Inevitably, it’ll happen again.” Thus sighed the Detroit News’ Tom Gage after Tigers manager Jim Leyland cut a postgame press conference short following his club’s miserable showing in Baltimore last night.  “Like an argument with an umpire, the many ways in which his fires burn within also make Leyland realize how much passion he still has for the game.”  So in other words, the manager should’ve remembered to lose his temper with reporters more often when he cashing checks in Denver?

Questions were being asked and answered. You could see and hear Leyland wasn’t happy, but he had a right not to be happy. The Tigers had just lost a stinker. They’d gone 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

That’s when the one-too-many was asked.

“How encouraged were you by Galarraga’s performance?”

“I’m not going to talk about that, because you guys are worried about Bonderman taking somebody’s place,” Leyland said.

“I’m not going to talk about that (stuff). Galarraga pitched a great game. But that’s all you guys are looking for. Forget it. Good bye. Good night.”

And with that, the post-gamer ended.

Leyland doesn’t get upset with his team often. For that matter, he doesn’t get upset with the media often.

But he hates it when he thinks reporters are fishing, although whether there were lines in the water this time almost wasn’t the entire point.

Because of the game, the lack of execution, the stranded runners, a late home run by the Orioles breaking open a game that had been for grabs, it all boiled over after one question Leyland considered suspicious.

David Roth already covered the matter of Tom Ilitch’s generosity earlier this week, though left unmention was one tiny factoid. ; allowing the local newspapers employ your team’s director of P.R. means there’s more money to spend on talented baseball players.