05.27.09

National Pastime Gets Goth Treatment Via Slate’s Mooalem

Posted in Baseball at 4:55 pm by

Not in the sense that he’s retouched pictures of Adam Dunn to add eye makeup or dyed-black hair, although that’d obviously be worth doing. But at Slate, Jon Mooalem has an article that falls, in the words of Peter Segall, somewhere between “fascinatingly morbid” and “morbidly fascinating.” Mooalem has unearthed something like baseball’s book of the dead — a bizarre project by Robert Gorman and David Weeks, a pair of Winthrop University baseball historians, that purports to chart every baseball-related death to have occurred over the sport’s history. As creepy baseball-related projects go, theirs probably about as darkly weird a document as we’ll get until Steve Carlton writes his autobiography. Mooalem writes:

The authors say their aim was to “raise awareness” about baseball’s many dangers, but there aren’t any recommendations for making the sport safer here, no real signs of impassioned outrage, and no warnings to suburban parents about aluminum bats. Death at the Ballpark is fundamentally a reference book”a list carefully organized into categories like “Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities”Position Players” and “Thrown Ball Fatalities, Amateur Fatalities”Baserunners.” Often, however, the authors pause for a half-page to narrate a death in noirlike detail. The opening paragraph of one entry ominously begins, “Patrick J. McTavey, 38, worked home plate during a heated semipro championship game on Long Island, NY, on September 26, 1927,” and ends: “It was the last call he ever made.”

…All the old romantic baseball tropes turn up again and again in Death at the Ballpark. But the effect is haunting, since here each is mercilessly punctuated with a death. There’s the aging minor leaguer, battling his way back to the majors after a couple of stints in the show”except that Millard Fillmore “Dixie” Howell, who played in the White Sox farm system in the ’50s, never gets called up again and dies of a heart attack instead. A few incidents are such ruthless perversions of our shared baseball idylls that it’s as if Roman Polanski had recut Field of Dreams. One July night in a backyard in Houston in 1950, a 7-year-old boy asks if he can throw his dad one more pitch before heading inside. The father says OK. The son pitches. Then the father swings and connects, inadvertently “striking his son over the heart.” The son dies before they can make it to the hospital.

Have a great day!

Schmuck : I Have Seen The Future of Rock’n'Roll The Baltimore Orioles & It’s Name Is Bruce Springsteen Matt Wieters

Posted in Baseball at 12:32 am by

HR’s from Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Aubrey Huff paced the Orioles to a 7-2 win over Toronto last night, helping rookie starter Jason Berken earn a victory in his big league debut. If closing to within 7 games of first place Boston in the AL East strikes you as no-big-thing, you’re not alone, as the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck is far more consumed with Tuesday’s announcement catching starlet Matt Wieters is being promoted from Norfolk.

Orioles fans have been waiting to hear this since Wieters became one of the most prized draft picks in club history in 2007. The waiting for Wieters became almost unbearable as he tore through two levels of the minor league system last year and batted .333 in the Grapefruit League this spring. The clock began ticking louder when he bounced back from an April hamstring injury and started to heat up at the plate at Triple-A Norfolk during the past couple of weeks.

He is the embodiment of the new era that Orioles fans have been awaiting for more than a decade. He is the jewel of a rebuilding plan that has gathered steam with a series of recent roster moves, including the one that put Triple-A Norfolk call-up Jason Berken on the mound to deliver a scrappy five-inning performance against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

The changeover has been swift — so swift that it’s getting to the point where you can’t tell the players without a Norfolk program. Brad Bergesen was called up in April to replace Alfredo Simon. Nolan Reimold came up two weeks ago and took over most of the playing time in left field. Rich Hill came off the disabled list 11 days ago to deliver a pair of solid starts against the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals. Berken wasn’t even through his third inning when MacPhail made the Wieters announcement and hinted that another Triple-A pitcher could be headed here to make Thursday night’s start.

Who knows how this group of unproven young players will perform the rest of the way, but one thing is certain. The 2009 season, which seemed so hopeless a few days ago, suddenly is relevant again. Every remaining game has an extra layer of meaning. The future will be right here in front of your eyes, and there is more to come.

05.26.09

Obama Chooses ‘Savior of Baseball’ in Sotomayor Pick

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism, politics, social crusaders at 5:36 pm by

http://cubssuckcafe.com/ObamaSoxFan02.gif

[What Does a Guy in That Hat Know About Baseball Anyway?]

While I don’t have much of an opinion yet on SCOTUS nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor (outside of my knee-jerk rubber stamp approval for Obama), of note to baseball fans is the Obama Administration touting her as the judge who “saved baseball.” In 1995, Sotomayor ruled in the baseball strike that stymied everyone from MLB, the players union, and President Clinton.  Given Obama’s South Side sympathies, he’s always on thin ice when talking baseball.  However, there’s a long list of baseball observers who think she did save that season.  The National Review’s Ted Frank quickly tried to shoot down that notion here:

That’s nonsense.  Judge Sotomayor ruled on a NLRB petition seeking an injunction against the owner’s 1995 lockout of the players.  As I noted at the time, the court hearing the matter would be making a straightforward ruling on labor law: and the owners were plainly in the wrong legally by their conduct in the labor negotiations.  Any judge randomly assigned to the case would have made the same ruling.  Indeed, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit, in an opinion by conservative Judge Ralph Winter, unanimously upheld Sotomayor’s grant of the injunction.

To say that the judge in the case saved baseball (or expressed sympathy for highly paid baseball players, as Kathryn snarks below) is making the very mistake that separates conservative viewpoints on the role of the judiciary from Obama’s view of the judiciary as activist.  A judge acts as an umpire, making the calls of balls and strikes: neither the judge nor the umpire is supposed to decide that one party is more sympathetic than the other and deserves the benefit of the ruling.

Presidential hyperbole or not, 90% of life is showing up, and she made a competent ruling “ not to be taken lightly in post-Bush America “ so, yeah, she gets credit for moving the season forward.

I quote Frank, though, as yet another conservative making that tired umpires = Supreme Court Justice equation.  They apparently have no idea what umpires do for a living.   It’s the Court’s job to rule on the Constitutionality of laws — they invalidate or uphold them via decisions of lower courts.  Umpires don’t invalidate or validate baseball rules “ they are the lower court.   Umpires don’t strike down the infield fly rule or shift the score in a game to help a team disadvantaged by a smaller payroll over a big city team (except in the case of the Pirates and Cubs last night “ WTF!?!?!?).  It wasn’t the umpires who invalidated “seperate but equal” in baseball and let Jackie Robinson play.  It was the Court, in Brown v Board of Education, that desegregated schools. Umpires didn’t even decide the recent Milton Bradley 1-game suspension dispute.  Disputed decisions are settled by MLB, a higher authority, that also determines which rules go into effect each season.  Whatever you think of the “activist judge” debate, Justices are not umpires.  It’s an intellectually dishonest argument, if politcally savvy, in the bumper sticker mentality of talk radio.  Feh.

Omar Minaya Makes Deal in Response to Mets’ Injury Issues

Posted in Baseball at 5:21 pm by

No one plans for injuries to their cleanup hitter, leadoff hitter, and six-hole hitter. Well… that’s not totally true. A lot of your more successful baseball general manager types like to have a few serviceable options and backups on hand in case stuff like this goes down. What I probably should’ve written is that Omar Minaya didn’t necessarily plan for injuries to his cleanup hitter, leadoff hitter, etc., and instead opted to field a Triple-A team that is less impressive than its 13-29 record suggests, and which would almost certainly lose seven of 10 games to the Newark Bears. And now, with Jose Reyes and Ryan Church joining Carlos Delgado on the 15-day DL this afternoon, the Mets are officially without a plurality of their Opening Day starters.

Which, you know, is a shitty deal. But while I don’t have much to add on this topic beyond my usual (in Jerry Stiller voice) “what the hell did you trade Jeff Keppinger for!” maunderings, I kind of have to applaud Omar for 1) making a much-needed trade today while 2) sticking to his strategy of entrusting a bunch of roster spots on his $150 million team’s fortunes to aging, Atlantic League-ready humps. In exchange for a player to be named later, Omar just secured a middle infielder from the Indians. Not ex-prospect Josh Barfield, who’s at Triple-A and not going anywhere, and not versatile evangelical Jamey Carroll, who’s reputedly a Minaya favorite. Nah, why waste time with those goofs when you can get this guy. Who is maybe the only player available in another organization who’s less likely to help at the Big League level than the Mets’ current Triple-A shortstop.

Now, to be fair to Wilson Valdez, his .211/.255/.277 Major League splits come in just 254 at-bats. And he is only 31 years old. And he did slug (slug!) .207 at Triple-A this season, so he’s clearly due. For something. I am aware that caring about deals like this is not good for me, and also takes more energy than the trades deserve. But being a fan of the team that traded Jason Bay for Steve Reed and is currently starting both Livan Hernandez and Tim Redding because it dealt Brian Bannister for Ruben Gotay kind of distorts things a bit.

So anyway, welcome Wilson Valdez. You are the current symbol to me of everything wrong with the Minaya Administration, until something else comes along. (Oh, also, the Mets called up Fernando Martinez to take Church’s place)

Fox, MLB Combat The Public’s Distaste For Joe Buck…

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV, The Marketplace at 4:44 pm by

….with a series of commercials featuring Joe Buck. At least that the prognosis supplied by the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Futterman, reporting earlier today that Major League Baseball’s Saturday afternoon telecasts on the Fox network have suffered a 4% rattings dip compared to the same period in 2008.

Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio confirmed network executives will head to Milwaukee next week to strategize with Commissioner Bud Selig about reversing the downward trends. “The purpose of the meeting is to find a way to boost the ratings for the All-Star Game and the World Series,” he said. Plans include showing baseball movies on Sunday afternoons on Fox’s sister channel FX, and promotional ads with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Fox says it is less concerned with the shrinking Saturday audience, since the regular season games represent about 10% of the value of the $255 million annual rights fee the network pays.

It would interesting to learn, for instance, how Fox’s Saturday numbers thur far in 2009 compared to ESPN’s Sunday night tally, or TBS’ Sunday afternoon results. The oft-cited Saturday blackout period no longer applies to MLB.TV’s online offerings so long as the games have a 1pm start. I doubt this is enough of a factor to contribute to a 4 percent drop in viewership for the late afternoon national TV game, but it makes as much sense as Futterman musing “additional revelations of steroid use certainly haven’t helped.”

Yahoo’s Dwyer Writes the Difficulty in Belated Review of ‘Kobe Doin’ Work’

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 4:25 pm by

Boy, I really don’t like typing Kobe Doin’ Work. When the guy who made a movie called Mo’ Better Blues makes a movie with a more embarrassing title, that’s saying something. But do that Spike Lee has, and that he’s also made a movie more embarrassing than the aforementioned mega-stilted self-indulgent lapel orgy/alternate-universe jazz opus in KDW (ah, better) is, by this point, kind of the consensus. Lee’s Kobe-mentary is not reputed to be as exacting or backhandedly abstract as the similarly conceived Zidane, and Bryant’s performance reportedly scans super inauthentic and weird. I can’t get that exercised about it one way or the other — or speak with much authority on it — because I didn’t see it. I probably won’t. Unless I’m captured by, like, ironists and tortured by means of a lesser-Lee film festival, in which case KBW will presumably form the sherbert course between She Hate Me and Bamboozled.

But Kelly Dwyer, who is more obsessive about basketball than I am and also presumably got paid by Yahoo to do so, did indeed watch KBW, and has a long, fascinatingly anguished quasi-defense of the film up at Ball Don’t Lie. I can’t totally recommend his defense, either — the thesis seems to be something about how the film’s squirm-inducing elements are, at bottom, a reflection of Kobe’s squirm-inducing maladjustment, and that on those terms, the movie works. I don’t know that I can buy that (it’s a very low bar), but as someone who loves the internet’s process-in-yer-face writing style (and often embodies that writing-the-difficulty thing to an occasionally annoying extent in this very space) I found the piece pretty interesting. It reverses course several times and is tough to excerpt, but if you find this interesting, you might want to give the whole thing a look:

[The film] is just really tough to watch for anyone who has a passing idea of how pro basketball works. Even though it is replete with insider stuff and Xs and Os talk made perfect for a junkie like me, it’s completely mitigated by Bryant’s performance. His on-camera banter and his voiceover work. Tough, tough stuff.

I watched it because I have to. I’m useless without information, the game changes and evolves constantly, and if I don’t try to stay on the up and up, I’m useless… And as distasteful as I found the documentary, and Kobe’s performance to be at times, you still have to muddle through it. On a couch. With some delicious iced tea and a fan blowing a light breeze your way. Sacrifice.

For those who haven’t seen it, Kobe is completely and utterly playing to the 30 cameras that he knows are documenting his every move, recording his every word, in a way that leaves him looking so transparent that it’s a wonder he even let this thing get out.

Actually, it isn’t a wonder. Kobe has isolated himself so much from anyone who will tell him that things aren’t heading in a direction that isn’t particularly appropriate, that it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t know how poorly he came off.

I’m years removed from being angry about that. At this point, in May of 2009, I’m just sort of sad about that. The guy is so maladjusted, he just has no clue.

And in the sickest way possible, I relate to that.

Philly’s MLS Side : Attracting Haters Before They’ve Kicked A Ball

Posted in Football at 3:51 pm by

Since being awarded a 2010 Major League Soccer franchise, the Philadelphia Union have sold more then 7000 season tickets. With that sort of excitement surrounding a new club, is there any surprise the Union badge is prominently displayed throughout the internet?

In the above instance of hackery, however, the answer might be “yes”. (link swiped from The 700 Level)

Krieger : Phil’s Complaints Are A “Loser’s Lament”

Posted in Basketball at 3:36 pm by

Aside from imagining Phil Jackson needing a scorecard to ID some of the Nuggets who’ve managed to reduce the Western Conference finals to a Best-Of-3 (ie. “Linas Kleiza, having regressed his way out of the playing rotation by the end of the season, scoring 10 points in 13 minutes off the bench to help take up Melo’s scoring slack” — what, no love for Renaldo Balkman?), the Denver Post’s Dave Kreiger is certain the Lakers “have already begun their campaign against the aggression of the aggrieved, the Nuggets’ current calling card.”

Jackson was complaining about the officiating as soon as Game 4 ended. Like New Orleans coach Byron Scott in the first round, the Lakers are now suggesting Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones is a dirty player for tripping Bryant near the end of the third quarter.

The Nuggets shrugged it off. In fact, Karl likes to hear opponents complain about the officiating, as he mentioned when Scott did it in the first round. Generally speaking, it is a loser’s lament.

The NBA is supposed to be a star’s league. Magic, Larry, Michael, Shaq, Kobe. These are the players that win titles. This is why LeBron is thought to have next.

The Nuggets are still six wins away, but Monday’s win put them in better position than they have been in 32 NBA seasons. ESPN’s hype machine is doing its best to make them famous now, but they’re a little late to the task. Good luck finding an unlikelier group of championship contenders.

CBS Sports’ Ken Berger doesn’t quite share the Denver columnists’ unabashed enthusiasm for the Nuggets’ run, calling Jones, “the modern-day version of Anthony Mason. (Or, for our younger readers, Bruce Bowen.)”

Jones already had two flagrant fouls (penalty one) in the playoffs before he stuck his leg out and tripped Bryant with about four minutes left in the third quarter Monday night. Jones’ two-handed push in Bryant’s back in Game 3 had been upgraded to a flagrant foul upon review by the league office, which won’t need much time to upgrade Jones’ latest transgression to his third flagrant of the playoffs.

If that happens — and it absolutely should, given the blatant nature of the play — Jones will have three flagrant points against him entering Game 5. Another flagrant foul-penalty one would result in an automatic one-game suspension. A more serious flagrant-two would get Jones suspended for two games.

Jones, for his part, employed the Iran-Contra defense — “I don’t remember the play,” he said — and insisted, “I think you’re making too much of one play. … I play hard and people don’t like contact. People don’t like you getting in their face. It’s my job to frustrate and play hard and make [Bryant] work for things. If I just let him score on me every time, then I wouldn’t be doing my job. I wouldn’t be able to stay on the floor, so I don’t understand what you people want me to do.”

Wednesday Night : Four Bands Who’ve Yet To Play The Nutty Brown Cafe

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 2:10 pm by

2nd time around the block for the post-King Coffey ATC, and we’ll be debuting new material and trying to remember the old on a favorite stage. If you’ve not seen Elvis before, all prior notions of “menacing stage presence” will require revision (though to be fair, the R.S. Howard-esque guitar playing is an equal draw)


Air Traffic Controllers

Elvis
Kingdom Of Suicide Lovers
Diamondhead

Cheap Heat Dept. : WWE’s Enos Humor

Posted in Basketball, Professional Wrestling at 12:52 am by

While the Nuggets were routing the Lakers at the Pepsi Center, a hastily scheduled taping of WWE Raw at LA’s Staples Center predictably centered around Vince MacMahon’s biggest obsession since the Montreal Screw Job.  From the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire :

Looking cheesy with a bad mustache and cheap sports coat, “Stan Kroenke” entered the arena with a basketball and handed it to an actor supposed to be Lakers owner Jerry Buss. The scene fooled some in the crowd, and required at least one fan to explain, “It’s an impersonator, dude!”

But “Kroenke” wasted no time further offending WWE fans in L.A., telling the crowd he was owner of the “soon-to-be NBA champion Denver Nuggets.”

“I cannot stand the WWE or its fans, for that matter. Do you think I care that I screwed thousands of fans? I have much more important things to do with my time. … I’m a respected tycoon/billionaire. I’ve been villified by the WWE, the media and every one of you.”

A photo then flashed on a big screen showing Kroenke with a devil’s tail and horns, while McMahon wore a halo.

McMahon then entered the arena to say he was announcing the formation of a new pro basketball league, the XBA, that would fail miserably, because, “I will have [Kroenke] and your staff run it.”

“All you had to do was pick up the phone and explain that [you] didn’t expect [your] team to make the playoffs.”

McMahon then ridiculed that Kroenke is formally known as E. Stan Kroenke, revealing the E. stands for Enos.

“Enos, look at you,” McMahon said, as the Kroenke impersonator covered his ears in shame. “You’re an Enos! … You have a terminal case of Enos envy.”

05.25.09

Sounds Like Someone Needs Their Own Muppet Commercial

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 4:29 pm by

For so me reason, when I pick out a song and sing it at the free throw line it helps me not think so much about shooting them. I had a dance song in my head all last night, so I had that going on when I was at the line. Hey, whatever works, right? They were playing all kinda krunk music up in Cleveland, and it was helping me take my mind off my form. I gotta come up with some song for Tuesday in Game 4 to keep it rolling.

Aiiight, ya™ll I guess I gotta go watch another one of these LeBron and Kobe commercials on TV. Naw, just kiddin.

D-12

Post Photog : Papelbon Revealed Shy, Retiring Side

Posted in Baseball at 4:13 pm by

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon’s temper tantrum in the last of the 9th inning Saturday night after blowing a save against the Mets has already been documented ; unmentioned until Monday morning, however, was Pap’s encounter with New York Post lensman Anthony Causi. From the Post’s Daniel Ki :

Papelbon had just surrendered a two-run homer to backup catcher Omir Santos — leading to a 3-2 Amazin’ victory — when Causi had the audacity to do his job and photograph the closer as he sulked in the Sox dugout in the bottom of the ninth.

Papelbon screamed, “Don’t take my f- – -ing picture,” according to Causi, before throwing his towel at him

It should be noted: Papelbon missed Causi.

“I guess he missed with two pitches that night,” Causi cracked.

Papelbon then stormed off to a corner of the dugout, hiding from the lensmen working in the first-base photographers well.

Causi contrasted Papelbon’s behavior with that of Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. The fotog recalled taking a picture of Rivera last month at Fenway Park just after the ace reliever blew a save against Boston.

“He knew I was shooting him, and he didn’t say a word,” Causi said. “A true champion realizes you got to take the good with the bad.”

Murray : Strachan’s Fate Sealed By Inability To Charm Celtic Fans

Posted in Football at 3:42 pm by

A day after conceding the SPL title to Rangers, Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has confirmed his resignation.  In the considered view of the Guardian’s Ewan Murray, said announcement was a forgone conclusion because “Gordon was hated by the Celtic support.”

Supporters dislike it being said but Maritn O’Neill’s background as an Irish Catholic, a Celtic man, endeared him to them. His replacement was a spiky Presbyterian from Edinburgh, someone who enjoyed terrorising them on the field when part of Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Aberdeen team. One punter back in those days even attempted to lamp the flame-haired Strachan during a visit to Glasgow’s east end.

At Celtic he has been blunt with the Scottish media, his on-screen comments frequently barbed; a factor which was used by his detractors as evidence that he was a poor ambassador for the club. Still a distasteful attitude towards the fourth estate hardly did Brian Clough, or Ferguson, any harm “ Scottish football supporters were never previously renowned for defending the press.

Every one of Strachan’s achievements at Celtic was done against a backdrop of financial cuts; the club are all-but debt free whereas debts stood in excess of £30m when he arrived at the club.

Strachan’s demeanour for weeks has hinted he was for the off. He may well have been on the verge of resigning a year ago when he could have gone out on a legitimate high. Time will tell how history remembers Gordon Strachan at Celtic. Their supporters are about to discover the merits of what they wished for.

Price : Quashing Enthusiasm For The Advent Of Fernando Martinez

Posted in Baseball at 8:44 am by

Mets RF Ryan Church is said to be headed for the disabled list after injuring his right hamstring during Friday’s 5-3 defeat of Boston, hence reports New York will promote the highly toured Fernando Martinez from Buffalo in time for tonight’s encounter with Washington.  The Daily News’ Bill Price — who professes to have not attended a game at Citi Field — warns, “anyone who thinks this guy is going to show up and become a savior for the Mets is going a little overboard.”

With the Mets struggling to score runs, it appears a great time for Martinez to arrive. But I actually think it™s a bad time for him. Too many people are going to view him as a savior, and if he struggles – which he probably will – his stint may be viewed as a huge disappointment. I™m not saying he doesn™t have a future with the Mets, I™m just not sure he™s ready yet. Hopefully I™m wrong (it happens every once in a while).

My real question is will he have F. Martinez on his jersey and will our wonderful shortstop have R. Martinez on his jersey? Sounds like a busy day for Charlie Samuels.

Though I appreciate the nod towards Ramon, whose throw to rob Mike Lowell from deep in the hole Saturday was one of the Mets’ highlights of the season thus far, I’m not sure I understand the cautionary tone.  Barring a miracle, F-Mart’s promotion will be understood by most thinking persons to be an emergency measure. And ready or not, who would Price prefer Omar Minaya summon from the bushes?  Bobby Kielty’s currently on the DL, and Wily Mo Pena — he of the .200 batting average, .232 OBP and 1 home run in 20 International League games — has little going for him besides wearing his Bisons cap at a bizarre angle.

05.24.09

Jimmy Leyritz : Troubles Aside, Proving Inspiration For Single Losers Everywhere

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups, The Law at 9:29 pm by

Since being charged with vehicular homicide in December of 2007, former Yankee Jim Leyritz has been an unfortunate CSTB fixture. Whether being accused of blowing a modest fortune on booze, or complaining to a Broward County Judge that he could no longer enjoy Chicken Marsala, Leyritz hasn’t done a wonderful job of presenting himself as a sympathetic figure. Profiled today in the Miami Herald by Dan Le Batard, the retired player-turned-broadcaster continues his public relations missteps, unveiling a curious defense strategy (ie. the victim was driving drunk, too) and discussing the travails of….dating!

”This accident happens whether I was drinking that day or not,” Leyritz says. “It would have happened at 2 in the afternoon. There was no possibility of me avoiding that crash with all of my senses. A mother was taken away from her kids. I can’t change that. But I didn’t do it. The accident did. And that accident wasn’t my fault.”

He walks over to the DVD playing his road-side sobriety test. There he is that night, walking heel-to-foot in a straight line, touching his nose repeatedly with an extended arm, following the pen in the officer’s hand from side to side without moving his head.

”I’m scared to death here, but look at this,” he says. “I’m passing everything.”

The Baseball Assistance Team works to help poor former major-leaguers with money. Leyritz’s case is coming up for a vote in a couple of days, but he’s worried. He lost most of his money in a divorce, and now his ex-wife has had to move back in to help with expenses and the kids. That has been plenty awkward, especially since he is dating for the first time since the accident.

”My opening line hasn’t been the best,”
he says, then pretends to flirt: “You need to listen to me breathe into a machine just to start my car. You can have a drink with me but don’t kiss me because I can’t have it on my lips. I don’t know what my future is, either. Oh, yeah, and my ex-wife is at the house. And I have no job and can’t pay for dinner.”

Of having his new girlfriend over and his ex-wife in the other room, he says, “My Jerry Springer moment.”

He had jobs doing those things before the accident. Had rented homes here and in New York. A daily radio show. Did fantasy camps and clinics. Speaking engagements. He would get $1,500 to $3,000 dollars just to go up to a suite during Yankees games and sit around with fans for two innings while taking pictures and autographing photos of his most famous home run. The requirement was that he stay for just two innings, but he usually would stay for six or seven because he likes people and telling stories. He had a deal with an athletic company and had just completed some infomercials for an international real-estate company.

”I was going to be the Eric Estrada of Costa Rica,”
he says. “All that’s gone now.”

Not to make light of a serious tragedy (more so for the dead woman’s family), but there’s got to be some motivational fodder here. If a bald, penniless, washed-up jock facing a felony conviction can land a date WITH HIS EX-WIFE ON THE COUCH, there’s hope for every lonely person. Not much hope, but some.

Mets Vlogger Extraordinaire Vs. Tornado

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 4:36 pm by

I should’ve linked to Ronni’s latest backyard chat prior to the Mets’ current 10 game road trip, but presumably the club’s recent injury woes, baserunning mistakes, harsh treatment of Ryan Church and heroics in Boston (well, prior to this afternoon, anyway)  will provide the Bard Of DIY Sports Commentary with ample material.

Danny Almonte Update : He’s An Old 22

Posted in Baseball at 3:09 pm by

Sad to say, but one time Little League star Danny Almonte‘s best hope of playing professional baseball might come as a mid-season signing for one of the many independent league clubs whose funny nicknames and offensive promotions dot the sporting landscape.  As the New York Daily News’ Julian Garcia explains, Bronx product Almonte is “running out of time.”

Though Almonte has torn up junior college ball with the Western Oklahoma State Pioneers, scouts have shied away from him, partly because he’s no longer the fresh-faced teenager with the golden arm that he was when he played at Monroe High in the Bronx.

“He’s kind of old now,” said one scout. “There are guys in the major leagues who are 22.”

The lefthander whose 70mph Little League fastball was the equivalent of a 92 mph big-league heater is no longer a flamethrower. His fastball has rarely reached the 90s, more often hitting the mid-to-upper 80s. He also throws a curveball and a changeup but doesn’t have the eye-opening “stuff” that scouts are looking for.

One scout who monitors talent in the Southwest said that even though Almonte’s pitching numbers are impressive, most players he competes against are significantly younger than he is – just like the old days. Eight years ago, Almonte was found to be 14 years old – not 12, as he had purported to be – in the Little League World Series, forcing his team to forfeit its victories.

“(He’s) a little bit old for a junior college player so I would say if the right team saw him on the right day, he may have a chance to get drafted. But he’s more of a free-agent sign type guy for most teams,” said the scout. “Obviously with any player, as you get older your window starts to close, but especially a guy like him. At least for me, he’s not really a prospect at this time.”

Peter Vecsey : Doing His Best To Get Stan V.G. Fired Before The Start Of Game 3

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 2:59 pm by

While the Eastern Conference finals move to Orlando for Game 3 later today, the New York Post’s Peter Vescey remains consumed with the dramatic final moments of Friday’s Game 2, asking, “who could’ve imagined The Chosen One would’ve received so much bewildering help from The Frozen One?”

Just before Williams’ precision in-bounds assist for the electrocuting 3-point shocker, I was wondering if a Coach of the Year had ever been fired the same season he was honored.

For some incomprehensible reason, Orlando’s befuddled coach potato decided not to have 6-foot-10 Rashard Lewis jump in front of the 6-1 Williams while he was trying to inbound to James — “option A, B, C and D,” according to Williams.

Apparently, the Frozen One blew off that Tactics & Techniques class while studying under Pat Riley. Evidently, his father didn’t share all his coaching secrets with Stan and Jeff at the dinner table. Obviously, the Lamar Odom-Anthony Carter-Trevor Ariza steal sequence in Game 1 of the Nuggets-Lakers matchup escaped his keen observation.

I’m just wondering at what point after LeBron’s shot went in did The Frozen One realize he’d accomplished the unachievable and cost the Magic a conference final victory in a single, solitary second? How long afterward did it occur to him or did someone else point it out? Dwight Howard? Owner Rich DeVos? GM Otis Smith? Shaq?

The CSTB Prescription For Jonathan Papelbon :

Posted in Baseball at 12:50 pm by

A big dose of Calm The Fuck Down Pills (image culled from New York Sports Dog, courtesy The Eddie Kranepool Society). Agonizing over the blown save (to first ballot Hall Of Famer Omir Santos) is one thing, but there’s already a gang of umpires patrolling the field at Fenway. The next time this jackass makes a move for the first base line while the opposing team is in the field, he oughta be ejected, fined or tased.

05.23.09

Presumably, K.C. Broadcasters Are On The Lookout For George Brett, Jason Whitlock Lookalikes

Posted in Baseball, Food, mistaken I.D. at 9:23 pm by

Slightly more amazing than the above individual impersonating Food Network host / TGI Friday’s pitchman Guy Fieri is the celeb chef’s own network calling the doppelgänger “a slightly older, more bloated version…the imposter left no stone unturned, and mastered Guy™s smugness and air of faux superiority. He even had on one of Guy™s hideous Knuckle Sandwich wristbands, for heaven™s sake.”

(KORRECTION KORNER : the website Food Network Humor is not affiliated with the Food Network. My apologies to gourmands and humorists alike. )

Madsen : Waterboarding’s Just As Serious As Miguel Tejada Shooting Up

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, The Law, Total Fucking Terror at 2:49 pm by

When it comes to torture, there are few persons more qualified than the T-Wolves’ Mark Madsen. Between his dancing and his blogging, he’s been torturing the public for years. As such, the Mad Dog opined this week that perhaps there’s something out of whack when the likes of Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada and Roger Clemens are held to a higher standard of truthiness when quizzed by the Feds than our own elected officials .

If the statements made to Congress must be accurate and true and if suspicion of those statements leads to hearings, should the statements made by Congress members themselves also be subject to rigorous treatment?

Last week, water-boarding came up in the National media. I read and listened to various statements from Republicans, Democrats and the CIA and there appear to be some major discrepancies. I really want to know what happened because to me this is an important issue.

If we can spend millions of dollars investigating professional athletes and trying to determine whether their statements are truthful, surely we can invest the time and resources to determine if there is a systematic breakdown between the CIA and our elected officials. Do we hold our elected officials to the same standard as we hold professional athletes? Steroid use is not a good thing, but I would hope that we can all agree that torture, national security, and the checks and balances put into place to prevent these types of problems are perhaps at least equally important as the steroid issue

Not Nearly As Great A Giveaway As The Larry Craig Bobblefoot

Posted in Baseball, politics at 2:26 pm by

….but as topical promotions go, the St. Paul Saints haven’t done too badly in this instance.

In Retrospect, Maybe Turkoglu Should’ve Tackled LeBron…

Posted in Basketball at 1:48 am by

….the results couldn’t have been any worse for Orlando.  And while there’s a lack of consensus on the TNT set, perhaps if Stan Van Gundy had it all to do over again, he’d put more than one body on James in this instance.  With one second remaining and Williams inbounding, who’s gonna get the ball?  Probably not Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  And if a wide open Lithuanin hits an improbable game-winner or ties it up at the of regulation, I suspect you live with that finish.   As it stands, the Magic had a chance to deny the shot if not the ball to the most dangerous player left in these playoffs.  Other than that, they didn’t play a poor 47 minutes and 59 seconds of basketball.

05.22.09

Donald Sterling: Not Much Better at Being a Human Than He is at Owning the Clips

Posted in Basketball, Greedy Motherfuckers at 6:47 pm by

Readers with strong Google skills and stronger judgment issues could probably find the manifesto-style piece I wrote about the Los Angeles Clippers for my college paper. I’m not going to link to it here, but I know it’s out there, and I know a fairly passionate case is made for this guy as someone who can help the Clippers, and that the semiotic significance of the team using Anthony Avent a lot gets addressed with all the hungover seriousness I brought to fucking everything when I was 21. It’s a masterwork. So masterful a masterwork, in fact, that…yeah, not linking to it.

Anyway, the Clips neither warranted nor received much respect at my Los Angeles-area school, where the locals grew up cheering for the Lakers — who actually, you know, won games and had decent players — and everyone else who cared couldn’t fathom cheering for a Clippers team that lost, often and generally in the most unappealing of ways. These were the worst old days: a sad-looking Lamar Odom dishing to a pale, jittery Pete Chilcutt while Eric Piatkowski and Darrick Martin stood around the 3-point line clapping their hands and demanding the ball. On the bench, Michael Olowokandi solemnly consumed plates of wings. Keith Closs blew his salary getting profane tattoos in places easily visible to kids, and later was videotaped getting beaten up by a group of people outside a club. Avent and Tyrone Nesby and earnest discussions on the Clips message board I frequented about how the team needed to give free-agent-to-be Maurice Taylor a max deal to prove that they were serious. Of course I cheered for these guys.

Besides final and undeniable proof of my sports-fan masochism, though, the most notable wisdom I gained from my Clips experience, was that the true villain of the endless, slow-motion tragicomedy that is this franchise is one Donald Sterling, the fantastically feckless mogul/goof who is generally regarded as the worst owner in American professional sports. In the most recent ESPN the Magazine, Peter Keating gives The Donald the full exposé treatment, complete with examples of Sterling’s casual racism, grope-and-grunt way with the ladies, ultra-craven business practices and general oleaginous creepery. It’s hard to know where to excerpt. It’s a long piece, but eminently worth reading and not exactly lacking in rubbernecky highlights or cameos from the D-grade celebs Sterling hangs out with (Pia Zadora’s car makes an appearance and Penitentiary star Leon Isaac Kennedy has a nice speaking part). Let’s go with this, though:

At his best, Sterling can make you believe anything is possible. He has an infectious grin, boyish enthusiasm and a propensity for hugs and shoulder rubs. His willingness to say everything with conviction can seem downright Clintonian, but it also registers as optimistic. “I thought there was no way the Clippers were going to match the contract I signed with the Heat in 2003. I was in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami when Donald Sterling called,” says Elton Brand. “He said, ‘I love you, I love Elton Brand.’ I was surprised but honored. He honestly feels what he feels at that time.”

But Sterling also uses his wealth and power like many other rich and powerful men: to impose his eccentricities on others. When dining out, Sterling has on occasion recommended meals for his guests without ordering anything for himself, forcing them to then share with him. He once invited a draft pick to his Beverly Hills mansion, then conducted the meeting wearing only a bathrobe. He also regularly makes large contributions to charities — like the Special Olympics — and then when the groups honor him, he takes out self-congratulatory newspaper ads. “Sterling desperately wants people to believe he’s a good person, and if they don’t, it drives him crazy,” says a lawyer who knows him. “But he also just can’t get out of his own way…”

The people who work for Sterling and live in his buildings who say they bear the worst of his unconventional behavior. For years he has run semianonymous ads (crude design jobs he reportedly mocks up himself) seeking “hostesses” for Clippers events and his private parties. In a Times ad last summer, Sterling’s company solicited “attractive females” to bring a résumé and photo to his address, where employees reviewed their looks. Some of the women who have gone through this process found it humiliating. “Working for Donald Sterling was the most demoralizing, dehumanizing experience of my life,” says a hostess from the 1990s who says she helped set up “cattle calls” to find other women to work the job. “He asked me for seminude photos and made it clear he wanted more.”

Outed In Oakland : Warriors Publicist Is “The Flunkster”

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism, The Internet at 6:01 pm by

Yesterday, I posted an item about Atlanta Hawks/Thrashers owner Bruce Levenson facing charges of posting pseudononymous comments to the Atlanta Journal-Contstituion’s website.  While the AJC has failed to prove Levenson’s participation in such a gutless act, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami today reveals Golden State Warriors P.R. director Raymond Ritter to be the message board troll “The Flunkster Dude” at WarriorsWorld.net (link courtesy Charles Star and The Popehat).

Posting earlier today as “The Flunkster Dude, Ridder (above) wrote that he appreciated that afternoon™s season-ticket-holder conference call, conducted by GM Larry Riley, team president Robert Rowell and broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald.

œI actually enjoyed the call and appreciate their honesty, the Flunkster Dude wrote.

As PR director, Ridder was heavily involved in setting up the call, in large part to stem the tide of recent negative publicity about the Warriors™ front-office decisions and the shedding of former executive VP Chris Mullin.

After the afternoon posting, there was an immediate uproar on the WW.net site when the site managers revealed that they had traced the comment™s IP address to the Warriors offices.

œIt was 100% me, Ridder said without hesitation when I reached him by phone. “I™ll take 100% responsibility, if anybody thinks I did anything wrong, Ridder said. œIt was completely on my own. I™ve never been told to do anything by anybody here. It was just me.

œIt was nothing malicious at all. I just wanted to get the conversation going in a positive direction“I thought we had a good conference call, I had some good conversations with some season-ticket-holders, then I got to my office and I looked on the internet and all I saw was negative comments, complaints, nothing positive.

œFrom my standpoint, I just wanted to get some positive things going. When I saw all the negative comments, I wanted to chime in. That™s all.

Ridder also confirmed that he has posted four other comments to WW.net anonymously defending management or otherwise trying to get the conversation going in œa positive direction.

None of the comments criticized Mullin (in fact, a comment about the Jamal Crawford trade ended with œNice job Mully!), despite the growing division between Rowell/Cohan and Mullin. None of the comments criticized a player.

Other than one negative comment about Matt Steinmetz and a general mention of œwhat we read in the newspaper, none of the Ridder comments single out a media member for rebuke.

Replies WarriorsWorld’s James Venes, “This is what we get under Cohan and Rowell, a dysfunctional front office more concerned about their image on a fan site (which we already knew they followed) than improving the team. The solution, aside from Cohan and Rowell leaving for good, is simple: fix the team and the rest will follow. As disappointed as I was to learn Ridder made the post (I think everyone’s entitled to a goof or two), none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the people above him.”