If “The Simpsons” Or “Recent Minor League History” Are Trivia Night Categories, Don’t Invite Stan Hochman

Posted in Baseball at 8:45 pm by

Of baseball logos, the Philadelphia Daily News’ Stan Hochman says the Boston Red Sox’s stockings are “appropriate for a laundromat but not a big-league baseball team.” The Indians, writes Hochman, have “the worst logo” in the game (a  “humiliating caricature of a Native American”).  But in the wake of Manny Ramirez’ brief stint for the PCL’s Albuquerque squad, the columnist finds much — perhaps too much —  to admire about the Isotopes’ design (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Ramirez started his rehab, reluctantly, in Albuquerque. Reluctantly, perhaps, because he thought they told him he would be joining a team called the I’s-a-dopes, and Manny, being Manny, felt disrespected.

They talked softly because Ramirez totes a big stick. They patiently explained that the team was called the Isotopes, and that an isotope is any of two or more species of atoms of a chemical element with the same atomic number and position in the periodic table and nearly identical chemical behavior but with differing atomic mass.

Manny was OK with that, especially when they told him the air was thin and the fences cozy and the pitching mediocre. And yo, testosterone-breath, the team logo was cool, an abstract A with no crossbar. Just two of those slanted circles featuring an atom or a proton or a neuron, whatever.

It is a cool logo because it refers to the secret place outside of Albuquerque where scientists perfected an atomic bomb that blew away huge chunks of two Japanese cities and brought a swift end to World War II, making the world safe for democracy once again.

Michigan’s Rodriguez : Patiently Answering The Media (And What’s Your Agenda?)

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 4:12 pm by

(image swiped from The Wizard Of Odds)

At one point during 2008′s disastrous 3-9 campaign, University Of Michigan footbal coach Rich Rodriguez told the assembled media hordes in Ann Arbor that he was sometimes tempted to tell his critics to “get a life”. Interviewed today by the Detroit News’ Angelique S. Chengelis, the former West Virginia educator now professes he “didn’t pay much attention” to such abuse.

Q . Michigan, as you know, isn’t used to a 3-9 season and no bowl. Were fans tough on you?
A . Not in person. There probably were a lot of things said out there and there may have been things written.  Most of the fans I’ve talked to know we’re working on it. That’s the only thing I’ve said — be patient. Be patient because I think you’ll like what you see eventually. Hopefully it will be sooner than later, so hang in there with us.
Q . A lot of things you’ve said have been dissected …
A . There were a lot of things taken out of context. I’m not naïve enough to think anybody is happy with what went on in the past, but the only thing we’ve focused on is, here’s what we’ve got to do to get our program to where we’re competing for championships.
Q . Was the cupboard bare when you got to Michigan?
A . No, and I never said (that, and) you never heard any of the coaches say that.
Q . But it was inferred.
A . We were certainly inexperienced offensively, and that was obvious we didn’t have a lot of guys who had played a lot. The reason wasn’t because they didn’t have any talent, but there had been a whole lot of talent in front of them (that graduated). Last year, you didn’t know truly what you had until you played some games with the guys.
Q . Has any of the negative (comments) after leaving West Virginia and then having a 3-9 season hurt you?
A . Oh, yeah. If a coach says he’s totally immune to criticism, he’s lying. You want to make everybody happy, but you realize you can’t. It’s a humbling profession, and I’ve gotten humbled many times before, and I’ll get humbled many times in the future.
The criticism on the football part doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the criticism on the integrity part. That part completely bothers you.
Q . Michigan has 15 verbal commitments for 2010, including only two from Michigan. Michigan State’s six commitments are all from Michigan. Is it fair to say MSU has dominated in-state recruiting?
A . To judge on that and give a perception that one school is dominating the state … I don’t know how much validity there is to that. I know the last couple years, the recruiting classes we’ve got, what we’ve felt are the best players in the state. Our primary focus in recruiting starts in Michigan and expands in other areas of the Midwest and then south.
Q . But there seems to be the perception that Michigan State is taking over the state in recruiting
A . Last I checked, Mike Martin and Will Campbell were playing for Michigan.
Depending on your agenda, whoever you talk to, whatever their agenda is will lead the conversation. I feel pretty good about our reputation in state.

Mariotti : Will Leitch Invented Blogging, Bad Journalism

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 3:28 pm by

It took AOL Sports’ Jay Mariotti a couple of weeks to weigh in on Jerod Morris’ much-maligned essay on Raul Ibanez’ pre-DL offensive explosion, claiming “Morris made a fool of himself during a panel discussion on ESPN’s Outside The Lines.” That’s not exactly how I remember it, but the former Sun-Times Mascara Fiend would like the world to know he’s far above this naming-and-shaming sans evidence, bragging, “I don’t have to STRRRRRETTTTCCH THE TRUTH or make something up to be noticed as a columnist.” He can, however, cite the very moment sports journalism went down the toilet.

The irresponsibility began three years ago when blogger Will Leitch wrote on a Web site that he had “80 percent” faith in a source who said a Kansas City-based strength and conditioning coach was one of the redacted names in the Jason Grimsley report. “Does (the trainer’s) name sound familiar?” Leitch wrote. “If it doesn’t, he — and we assure you, this gives us no pleasure to write this — has been Albert Pujols’ personal trainer since before Pujols was drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 draft.” A photo of Pujols was included in the blog item.

Here’s the problem: The trainer’s name wasn’t found anywhere in the report, meaning Leitch smeared the trainer and Pujols in one inaccurate swoop based on an “80 percent” certainty rate. I think we learn in our 11th-grade journalism class, if not out of the womb, that it’s irresponsible to tell a potentially damaging story if you’re not entirely certain it’s true. Eighty percent may as well be zero percent. The mess was exacerbated by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who ran with the story and caused a national feeding frenzy, and not until Pujols threatened legal action did a shamed, humiliated Leitch emerge with a correction titled, “A Deeply Regrettable Wrong,” apologizing to the trainer in the process.

A reputable Web company would have fired him on the spot. Unfortunately, Leitch worked for a company that enjoyed the attention and allowed him to spew more lies about people. He profited from his fraudulence by writing a book read by a few of his blogging buddies.

What he did was open the door to the Jerod Morrises of the world.

I remember the incident in question rather well, particuarly as I commented on it at the time, as well as acknowledging Leitch’s subsequent apology (“a rare stand-up act from someone who has virtually redefined gutless over the past 12 months”). However, much as I enjoy Jay Mariotti calling out Will Leitch nearly three years after the fact, it goes beyond mere hyperbole to claim what even Will characterized as a huge gaffe,  served as any sort of inspiration to Morris. The former threw leaked information (from a less than reputable source) into a public forum and watched the shit hit the fan. The latter engaged in what was meant to be a fairly reasoned analysis of Ibanez’ career trajectory and at no point directly accused the Phillies OF of anything other than getting off to an especially hot start.  While Leitch received relatively little flack from the mainstream media or his blog bro’s at the time, Morris was fed to the wolves on national TV.

Of course, there’s something rather quaint about Mariotti accusing bloggers of not knowing their libel laws.  What are these other “lies” Leitch was allowed to spew, and is Mariotti prepared to back up such an allegation?  I’m not gonna nominate Will for any ethics awards, but that doesn’t excuse fabricating charges against him.  And as Hugging Harold Reynolds accurately points out, regardless of where he made his name, Leitch is more of a peer of Mariotti’s than he is to the vast majority of sports bloggers.

While Leitch is widely praised as the poster boy of the sports blogosphere, he couldn’t be a further example of your typical blogger. Rather, Leitch’s educational background and career more closely reflect that of yours, Mr. Mariotti.  A former editor at his college paper, he is/was a contributing editor at New York, and a contributor to The New York Times, GQ, Fast Company and Slate, and prior to that book you referenced, had already been twice published. The fact that he is deemed a blogger because he founded Deadspin is akin to you being deemed a blogger because you opine at FanHouse.

Pot, Meet The (Ultimate) Kettle. Hellwig Calls MJ “Drug Soused”

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling, The World Of Entertainment at 12:14 pm by

The former Ultimate Warrior aka Jim Hellwig has already weighed in with questionable remarks concerning one celebrity death — why should we be so lucky to believe he’d have nothing to say regarding the passing of Michael Jackson?

I hate the paparazzi, and think they should all be shot for the obsessive invasion of privacy. But I’m really going miss ALL those TMZ and Entertainment Tonight video clips of Jacko’s and other celebrity kids playing together. You ever see any of those? Weren’t they great? Didn’t they make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside? Worked for me. Every time I caught one it made me believe maybe he wasn’t a pedophile. After all, famous and rich entertainers, with all kinds of money to go to any expense to have things accurately checked out for themselves, wouldn’t let their own little babies near a pedophile…would they?!

Well, you gotta give him credit for one thing. He spent all his money (and then some) before he died. And that’s not an easy thing to calculate. Go ahead, ask your financial planner if he has a plan to pull it off. For all the horrific mismanagement of millions and millions and millions of dollars, here at the end, Jacko did a pretty damn good job at balancing the books in his favor. Sorry, at my new age and with the way the Obama economic plan is going, I couldn’t help but recognize this stunner.

Isola : Knicks, Kidd To Converse

Posted in Basketball at 9:15 am by

Having said as early as last January he’d consider relocating to MSG, PG Jason Kidd is scheduled to meet with Knicks GM Donnie Walsh tomorrow afternoon writes the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola.

The Knicks could sign Kidd to the mid-level exception or try to negotiate a sign-and-trade with Dallas. Since the Mavs traded Devin Harris two seasons ago for Kidd, Dallas figures to make a strong push to re-sign Kidd or at least get compensation for having mortgaged its future.

The Knicks’ interest in signing Kidd is twofold. Team president Donnie Walsh is looking for an experienced floor leader as well as a player who could help recruit LeBron James should the Cavaliers’ superstar and league MVP become a free agent next summer.

Kidd would be an upgrade over incumbent starting point guard Chris Duhon, but there are obvious risks attached to signing a 37-year-old player.

And the Knicks also have to ask themselves why Kidd is so interested in joining a team that isn’t vying for a championship. The obvious concern is that Kidd simply wants to spend his twilight years living and going out in Manhattan.

If the Knicks don’t land Kidd, another option is restricted free agent Ramon Sessions, to whom the Bucks made a qualifying offer yesterday, enabling Milwaukee to match any bid.

Ahh, yes, the same Ramon Sessions who must be so thoroughly psyched to hang out with Brandon Jennings in training camp. Keep in mind, the Mavericks can do far better than the mid-level exception if they intend to hang onto Kidd, and observers in addition to Isola are pretty sure that’s exactly what they’d prefer to do.

NY Post : Beltran’s Career “In Jeopardy”

Posted in Baseball at 8:59 am by

And you thought the Houston Rockets were fucked. Under normal circumstances, the Mets falling a game below .500 with last night’s 10-6 drubbing at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers would be a grim enough story for a Tuesday morning. Sadly, the Amazins’ luckless 2009 campaign might take a turn for the downright tragic if the following report from the New York Post’s Bart Hubbach holds water.

The Mets confirmed yesterday that Beltran was in Vail, Colo., for a second opinion on his ailing right knee, this one from noted orthopedic surgeon Richard Steadman.

The ominous aspect of that for Beltran and the Mets is that Steadman is the inventor of microfracture knee surgery, an operation that — if he opts to have it — could sideline Beltran for the rest of the season, and potentially jeopardize his career.

Steadman, who runs the clinic where Alex Rodriguez’s hip surgery was performed this year, devised microfracture surgery in the 1990s to mimic missing cartilage in the patient’s knee.

The surgery, which involves drilling small holes so that blood and marrow clot to form a cartilage-like buffer between bones, has been done on numerous pro athletes.

As Hubbach points out, the list of those who’ve had this procedure includes some high profile recoveries (Amare Stoudemire, Jason Kidd) and a number of other basketball starlets whose careers are synonymous with frustration and/or early retirement (Allan Houston, Tracy McGrady, Jamal Mashburn). Along with losing two-fifths of their starting rotation and off-season acquisition J.J. Putz, in short succession the Mets have contemplated the possible end of Carlos Delgado’s career, can’t say with any certainty when Jose Reyes will return, and could now be denied their franchise centerfielder for well, forever.  How’s that for breaking up the core, Mike Francesca?

(UPDATE : The New York Daily News’ Adam Rubin reports Dr. Steadman “agreed with the team medical staff’s assessment that the center fielder is suffering from a bone bruise….Steadman is expected to recommend Beltran remain inactive slightly longer than Mets doctor David Altchek initially suggested – until after the All-Star break.”)


Ozzie Clarifies: Only the Sox are “Sh*t,” Cub Fans “Stupid”

Posted in Baseball at 9:36 pm by


[Ozzie's moonwalk tribute to Michael Jackson, who is reportedly gravely ill as we go to press, at Saturday's game.  If Bill Veeck isn't around to hire midget players, Sox fans at least get this.]

In a story that appeared here Sunday, I mistakenly paraphrased White Sox mgr Ozzie Guillien on the subject of Cubs mgr Lou Piniella, whom he sided with, when Piniella publicly disciplined OF Milton Bradley during Saturday’s game.  Ozzie noted that players should police their own dugout, not the managers and coaches, which I took to mean that he thought not just Bradley, but all modern players, are shit.  Then Lou noted that it takes a Cubs appearance at Sox Park to sell the park out, and Ozzie, the South Side’s ambassador to the United States, was asked why:

After Cubs manager Lou Piniella pointed out the spike in attendance from 22,000 when the Dodgers faced the White Sox last week to a full house when the Cubs visited U.S. Cellular Field this weekend, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was asked why attendance was so low for the Dodgers series.

“Because our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans,” Guillen said. “They know we’re [expletive].”

Guillen said Cubs fans will watch any game at Wrigley Field because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”

As Baseball Hotbeds Go, Toronto’s No Indianapolis

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 7:35 pm by

A Carl Crawford two-run HR off Roy Halliday has Toronto trailing the Rays, 2-0, tonight at the Rogers Centre, days after the Jays’ Kevin Millar opined to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that he and his mates are “definitely fortunate that you’re in another country and you’re playing for the Blue Jays and you’ve got three beat writers instead of 40. The Globe & Mail’s Jeff Blair might lack for company, but not for effort when it comes to pointing out the depths to which Alex Rios and Vernon Wells have sunk.

Everybody’s pointed out how poorly Rios and Wells have played and how often they slump. It’s not like it’s just happened this season, you know? But this isn’t a baseball city: it’s a hockey city. It’s also a city without much success in any sport in recent years so, you know, there’s an element of ‘Yeah, whatever,’ at work here. We don’t have a gold standard for sports in Toronto; we have a bronze standard.

So, here you go Millar: Rios and Wells frequently suck “ although it was everybody’s favourite Gritty Guy, John McDonald, who was caught off second base before Wells bounced out for the final out of yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies and there was nary a boo for Johnny Mac.

Anyhow, my sense is general manager J.P. Ricciardi’s all but at the bag of balls stage; that he’s decided any money saved in off-loading Rios or Wells is more important than what’s brought back in return, and that it would have been done by now had Travis Snider not been hurt. The Blue Jays are in danger of a serious revenue crunch that will impact their ability to do on-field business next year. Money’s not coming in, and Roy Halladay needs to be paid.

While it may be true Toronto’s not a baseball town, how often do we hear an MLB vet  praise the competitive atmosphere in a bush league setting? Pirates starter Ian Snell K’d 17 Toledo Mud Hens yesterday and told Indianapolis play-by-play announcer Scott McCauley, “the fans are electric here.  You can tell, even though they don’t say much or cheer much they pay attention to the game.  It was just fun pitching in front of them again.”

A breathless McCauley wonders, “I wonder if the Pirates phones will be ringing tonight? Is anyone interested in a 27 year who sat at 94 miles per hour and hit 96 at least a dozen times this afternoon?” Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke’s Pat Lackey takes all this in and seems equally eager for another GM to take Snell off the Bucs’ hands (link courtesy Baseball Musings).

Snell tosses his teammates in Pittsburgh under the bus, completely slays Pirate fans, and then pushes his catchers under the same bus he already threw them under once, gets in the proverbial bus, backs over them several times, parks the bus on top of them, douses it with gasoline, and lights it on fire. Oh, but nothing against the guys up there. Talk about passive aggressive.

How Dare A Politician Ride Kobe’s Coattails?

Posted in Basketball, politics at 4:53 pm by

After all, that’s Sasha Vujacic’s job.  LA Wave’s Betty Pleasant claims last week’s victory parade for the newly crowned NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers was marred by something even more distasteful than Pau Gasol’s dancing.

The City Council members were told to arrive at the parade staging area at 10 a.m. last Wednesday so they could get on the bus and ride in the parade. They boarded the bus at 10:30 a.m. and were still waiting to roll at 11 a.m. The council members, as well as the general public, became antsy and demanded to know what was the hold up and why was it taking so long to get the parade under way. (Some of the more fair-skinned council members were particularly annoyed, sitting in the sun, as they were.)

The cause of the hold-up was occurring adjacent to the locker room, where Kobe was refusing to ride on the City Council bus because the mayor was to ride on it. At the same time, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (above) , the consummate spotlight thief, was refusing to get on the City Council bus unless he got on with Kobe. Kobe loudly denounced the mayor in phrases that started with œI don™t like the ¦ and ended with œI™m not going to let him pimp my popularity!

People in the Coliseum who knew nothing about the outside bus dust-up  had their own tale to tell: They say the mayor introduced the members of the team and after he introduced Kobe, he extended his hand for the customary shake and Kobe strode right past him ignoring the outstretched hand. One elected official said the snub was clearly visible to everybody. œI didn™t understand it when I saw it, but after hearing about what happened with the bus, I understand it now, the official said. So, is it sports or is it politics? In this city, it™s obviously one and the same.

The Herds Word (Sic) : Uncanny Spoof Or Cowherd Uncut?

Posted in Sports Radio at 3:20 pm by

Seriously, I cannot tell. If it’s the latter, leave it to Cowherd to prove he’s fully capable of supervising a website just as unreadable as those from Jim Rome and Scott Ferrall. If, however, someone is having a laugh at Cowherd’s expense, we might be about to witness a legal first ; Disney suing a blogger for anti-intellectual copyright violation.

Lawyer : Sergio Kindle Is A Text Criminal

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, The Law at 1:27 pm by

The Austin-American Statesman’s Suzanne Haliburton reports University Of Texas LB Sergio Kindle suffered a concussion last Wednesday after driving into a West Campus apartment building.

Brian Roark, Kindle™s lawyer, said the wreck happened at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday. He said Kindle likely was text messaging and lost control of his car. He said the wreck caused about $8,700 of damage to the exterior wall of the building, according to the damage estimate provided by the apartment™s management company.

No one other than Kindle was hurt.

Kindle pushed his car onto the street, then went home, Roark said.

œHe knew he was hurt at the time and that he needed to go home and go to bed, Roark said.

Roark said Kindle contacted the apartment management as soon as he woke up Wednesday morning. He also was treated for the concussion later that day.

Kindle’s not merely an All-Big 12 linebacker, he’s pretty good at avoiding a breathalyzer.  I’m no Dr. Conrad Murray, but it should be pointed out on Kindle’s behalf there’s no reason to avoid a good night’s sleep, even if you’ve been concussed.

What Happened To Omar’s Dominican Pipeline?

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Fashion at 10:30 am by

Beyond the sheer embarrassment of Francisco Rodriguez gifting Mariano Rivera with his first career RBI on the same night the Yankees’ talismanic reliever earned his 500th career save, the Bombers’ Subway Sweep only emphasized the Amazingly Disableds’ inability to field a competitive starting nine. The New York Daily News’ John Harper breaks little new ground in reminding us the Mets’ farm system is largely devoid of blue chip prospects or Stupor Joe McEwing-esque supersubs, he does raise a salient point, ie. Omar Minaya’s “failure to cash in on the Pedro Martinez signing 5 years ago.”

At the time Minaya essentially said he was willing to overpay for Pedro, in the form of $52 million over four years, because of the dividends it would provide, because every kid in the Dominican Republic would want to sign with the Mets.

Since then, however, the only such signings of significance appear to be Fernando Martinez, 19-year-old shortstop Ruben Tejada and 17-year-old shortstop Wilmer Flores. That’s not exactly a pipeline of talent.

Scouts and executives in other organizations aren’t sure if the blame lies in a lack of scouting acumen or the Mets’ reluctance to spend on international signings, but they too expected the Pedro Martinez signing to have more of a ripple effect.

“By now I thought their system would be loaded with good (Latin) players,” one major league scouting director said recently. “But for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened.”

The same baseball people say the Mets do have attractive prospects at the lower levels of their minor-league system, Flores especially, and righthander Brad Holt, their first-round supplemental pick a year ago who was recently promoted to Double-A.

Either one would get the attention of a team looking to make a trade, but considering how few such prospects the Mets have, it hardly seems worth it to include them in quick-fix deals for someone like Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson or Aubrey Huff – or even Mark DeRosa, who was traded from the Indians to the Cardinals on Saturday.

Aside from the specifics of last night’s debacle, Faith & Fear In Flushing‘s Jason Fry notes an abundance of weird Mets jerseys and tees in the Citi Field stands. with one sartorial choice in particular making a deep impression :

BURGOS 40? Really? With all the others, you can at least think of a point in time during which someone might have gotten a little too excited and headed to Modell’s. McReynolds was a capable player until he got done eating half of Arkansas, Miller was feisty and gritty if not particularly talented, and Roger Cedeno was decent everywhere except the outfield for a couple of months. Heck, even Jae Seo had a good game or two. But Ambiorix Burgos, owner of one win as a New York Met? Ambiorix Burgos who got hurt and then made news during his rehab from Tommy John surgery first by assaulting his girlfriend and then by being charged with hit-and-run in a case in which two women died? (And who then turned himself in to Dominican Republic officials wearing White Sox gear?) You’re a Mets fan, and this is a shirt you a) actually bought; b) kept through all that; and c) decided to wear to show your bona fides against the Yankees?

There’s only one explanation for the wearers of SEO and CEDENO and BURGOS shirts: These people are plants, Yankee fans sent to Citi Field in disguise to make us look bad. Which is unsportsmanlike and not terribly necessary: This weekend, the people down there on the field wearing Mets uniforms with their actual names on them had that covered.

Kelly On Beltre : Giant Bust Or A Hard Worker WIth A Low Pain Threshold?

Posted in Baseball at 9:47 am by

(one of the least coveted giveaway items of recent memory ; May 5, 2006, Fred Meyer Mariners Collectible Train Night, The A-Train Car)

Or perhaps both? Seattle 3B Adrian Beltre is having surgery to remove bone chips in his left shoulder, a procedure that should keep him out of the M’s lineup for a lengthy stretch and possibly the rest of the season. “Nobody is going to deal for an aching, out-of-the-lineup third baseman before July 31″ warns the Seattle TImes’ Steve Kelley, who despite admitting Beltre’s offensive production for the Mariners pales in comparison to his 2004 career year in Los Angeles, insists, “he has played the game hard, and it wasn’t a lack of work that lowered his production.”

As an example of his approach to the game, Beltre played the last two games of this weekend’s series against the Dodgers, knowing that at least a dozen times a game the pain in his shoulder was going to feel like he had been stabbed.

He never was the Adrian Beltre the Mariners expected he’d be when they handed him $64 million, but he still is one of the best third basemen in the game. His plusses greatly outweigh his minuses.

So manager Don Wakamatsu now must seek a short-term solution at third, while general manager Jack Zduriencik looks long-term at the position.

(Memo to the manager: Don’t move first baseman Russell Branyan to third. He is settled where he is. Don’t mess with that. Move Chris Woodward there, and know at least you have a savvy professional replacing Beltre.)

The long-term solution at third base is more problematic, but time is Zduriencik’s ally. Before Beltre’s return, the direction of the season will be set.

The Mariners either will be in the race or out of it, and Zduriencik will have to decide if signing a healthy Beltre to a three- or four-year deal at a reasonable price is doable.

Is that better than a mid-August waiver deal that will leave the Mariners looking for the next third-base solution?

Dr. “D” David Shultz : Grappler, Carpenter, Aspiring Astronaut

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Free Expression, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Professional Wrestling at 12:07 am by

Thanks to Dave Gionfrido for unearthing the above YouToob clip, otherwise Shultz’ legacy might be limited to deafening John Stossel.  As is, this piece of cinema vérité is remarkable on multiple levels.  Given the old WWF’s penchant for employing wife beaters and tolerating the abuse of children, there’s something especially creepy about Shultz’ threats of domestic violence being played for laughs.  The most disturbing part of this, however, is that despite being unable to afford proper trousers, Shultz lives in a house larger than mine.


.486: Lou’s “Piece of Sh*t” Motivational Speech is FAIL, Ozzie Declares All Players Sh*t, Cubs Lose 6-0

Posted in Baseball at 5:45 pm by

Chicago Cubs' Milton Bradley reacts after striking out against ...

[Milton Bradley's slow burn, just before his Gatorade machine smackdown.]

When I got e-mail yesterday asking if I knew about the Lou v Mitlon dispute, I hoped it was a ribald steam room story about Lou Costello and Milton Berle with the punchline, “Come on Milton, just take out enough to win.”  Nope, Boo Bradley, for whom I should be on retainer at this point, spent part of the Cubs 8-7 loss yesterday to the hated pale hose arguing with umpires.  Bradley’s right, he does get handed a different set of rules from umpires.  Lou’s also right, Bradley’s wasting his time and hurting his team by engaging in fights he’ll never win.  Lou, who spent the off-season reading “psychology” books he bought off Amazon, laid into Bradley and called him a “piece of shit” in the dugout and sent him to the showers “ but not before Bradley went after the Cubs’ beleagured Gatorade machine.  Well, the Sox’ s machine, as the Cubs’ Gatorade machine was removed for its own safety.  Bradley sought solace in the local Chicago media, and Paul Sulliivan was only too happy to climb up on a chair to give Milton a shoulder to cry on, here.  “If it’s a motivating tactic and he’s taking a different switch since people are saying he didn’t have fire, then I understand. I take a lot of heed in what he has to say. It matters. I take it to heart, and I’m better for it.”  Glad to hear it.  The Cubs then lost today, 6-0.  Watching Lou lose his temper brought out some sympathy from the one man in Sox Park who knows a player beat down well, Ozzie Guillien.  As Ozzie said:

“You know what™s funny, because players now, they™re scared to take charge because they might lose the relationship of his teammate,” Guillen said. They might lose a friendship. I remember when something was not right in the clubhouse or the dugout, players took care of that.

“Now, the manager and the coaches have got to be the guys to do it. I don™t think players now in baseball, they don™t have the guts to get on his teammates for something they do wrong. We™re missing that. I think that™s the reason Lou has to be the guy taking charge or me taking charge. I remember when players don™t like something about your teammate, they jump on your (rear) and get on it. If you like it, you like it. If you don™t, that™s the way we™re going to do stuff here. Now, the players are scared. I don™t say it™s respect. I think most of the time they™re scared about losing a relationship. I think the players don™t take charge anymore.

In other Cubs news, I’m officially voting for Geo Soto on my all-star ballot since Soto tested positive for a PID, performance inhibiting drug.  ESPN reported Thursday that Soto tested + for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic (“claaaaaaaasic, dude!” he called it, while laughing stupidly), and has not served a day in jail.  This news got tsunamied by another drug addict having a bad Thursday, so you may not have heard.  Is there an asterisk for players who make their job harder?  It should note that Soto’s BA .228 for the year, had he not been stoned, would be somehwere in the .260s right now.  I hope the HOF judges keep that in mind while voting, is all I’m saying.  Fans worried about his future can chill, as Soto says the dope has NOT killed his love of the game. “I am fully dedicated to the game of baseball and my teammates, and I apologize for any distraction and embarrassment this may cause them,” he said three times in a row.

Finally, as posited here for some time, the Ricketts’ family exclusive-not-exclusive-window-not-a-window-top-bid-not-a-bid saga is going nowhere fast.  It finally brought about a leak from the non-Ricketts interests in the Cubs sale last week.  Apparently, no Obama Sox-friendly stimulus money has trickled down to Mr. Ricketts, whose family day trading empire Ameritrade isn’t able to secure him the $500 mil he’s been short to buy the team.  Hm, day trading cash looks pretty slim these days, if I can go by Lenny Dykstra’s reported money troubles.  While reports claim Ricketts and Zell differ only on a mere $50 mil, Zell has opened up talks with New York based investment group lead by Marc Utay, who Sox fans will be happy to know is a graduate of the Harvard of the Northen suburbs, New Trier High School.  Utay’s original bid was supposed to have been $900 mil or so, which Mark Cuban still felt was overpriced last January.

Media Old & New Concur : Walsh Should’ve Taken Jennings

Posted in Basketball at 4:25 pm by

“I guess we’ll never know how Young Money would’ve fared in the Big Apple,” muses Posting & Toasting‘s Seth after the New York Knicks’ decision to select Jordan Hill with Thursday’s 8th overall pick instead of PG Brandon Jennings, chosen at no. 10 by Milwaukee.  “my imagination tells me that the intersection of Jennings’ mouth, D’Antoni’s offense, and the New York media could’ve been glorious” bemoans Seth, though the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey goes a tad further, saying of GM Donnie Walsh’s alleged infatuation with prying Ricky Rubio’s rights from Minnesota, “he has a better chance to acquire Steve Nash when he finally gets fed up with the shenanigans of the Suns.”

A talent scout tells me, “God created Jennings for D’Antoni’s system … minus the jump shot that needs improvement.” That’s straight from a friend of mine who knows a little basketball and has seen the kid play no less than 100 times throughout high school/AAU.

“Every year he was the best guard in his class,” said a Western Conference GM who tried to obtain a second No. 1 to get him before the Bucks did at No. 10. “Then he went to Italy to play. You know how it works, out of sight, out of mind.”

“Brandon is a freak athlete with a superior feel for the game and unteachable passing ability. He flaunts Pistol Pete flair, Isiah Thomas toughness with a nasty streak to match, doesn’t take crap from anybody and always has the backs of teammates. Plus he loves New York. Used to come to the city to play at Rucker Playground and in other outdoor leagues. He would’ve reinvigorated the Garden.

“The Rubio-Pistol comparisons are comical,” my friend snapped. “What, just because both are white, play guard, and have floppy hair? Rubio averages nine a game in Europe. Maravich averaged 44 at LSU. It’s insulting to Pete and his legacy they’re being compared.”

Astonishingly Perceptive Guardian Scribe : Bruce Guilty Of Rockism

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 2:27 pm by

Of Bruce Springsteen’s headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival’s Pyramid Stage last night, the Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey — killing all chances of a guided tour of the Bronx from Peter Abraham — opines, “being bored, irritated and only occasionally thrilled by the man routinely called the most electrifying performer in rock is no fun at all…this critic felt like someone standing in front of a magic-eye picture and being told that, if he stares long enough, he will see the Statue of Liberty but who finds, two-and-a-half hours later, that it’s still just squiggly lines.”  These John Cafferty sympathizers are everywhere, I tell ya.

For someone acclaimed as a perceptive blue-collar bard, he’s rarely far from self-parody. Many of his songs sound like numbers from a Broadway musical about a guy who works in a garage. If you drank a shot every time he sang the words work, dream, streets, highway or refinery, you would be unconscious within an hour (less than halfway through the set). During Working on a Dream (two shots), he begins testifying like a southern preacher, or, more accurately, like a Saturday Night Live comedian doing an impersonation of James Brown, about building a house of lurve, a building of soul and a loft extension of hope.

But then it seems that the whole point of Springsteen is that he’s a colossal, unashamed, scenery-chewing ham. Born to Run is both the most preposterous song in his catalogue and the most heart-thumpingly joyous. Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days are elevated, rather than marred, by their corny use-before-1985 synth riffs. More of a problem than the garage-guy lyrics, the oh-lawdy business and Clarence “Big Man” Clemons’s reliably ghastly sax solos, is the realisation that, despite Springsteen’s stature, he has very few songs that have entered the mass consciousness. Only the three just mentioned “ along with Because the Night and Thunder Road “ excite mass singing all the way to the back. Calls for Born in the USA go unanswered. Fair enough, because it’s a good song massacred by its bombastic arrangement and is now avoided by the very man who made it, but during long stretches of bar-band rock and American Land’s horrible Irish jig, one wished he would throw another bone to the agnostics.

I don’t wanna argue with Mr. Lynskey, though I saw a Springsteen show earlier this year and found most of the cheesey O.D. bits he describes to be of the kidding-around variety.  But as we should all have an informed opinion rather than rely upon the crackpot testimony of self-styled experts, here’s some exclusive footage of last night’s Glastonbury show.  Decide for yourself!

DC’s Catalano : Mets’ Paucity Of Power = Panic

Posted in Baseball at 1:39 pm by

After being humbled at home on successive days by the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, the Mets’ lack of power hitting appears to be less of a problem compared to their lack of any hitting in general  (1 run, 4 combined hits over the last 18 innings). But as Dugout Central’s Paul Catalano points out, the not-so-Amazins’ 46 total HR’s this season reflect “a line-up that doesn™t have opposing pitchers waking up in the middle of the night screaming in fear.” Catalano’s solution? “The Mets should try to trade for Michael Cuddyer by offering the Twins SS prospect Wilmer Flores.” (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Michael Cuddyer, when healthy, is a solid RF, with a good arm and, more importantly from the Mets prospective, power. While he can play a number of positions, RF is where he is best suited”he has had season of 18 and 19 assists from RF, and can handle the new CitiField well. As of this writing, Cuddyer is slugging .514, or what would be 2nd on the Mets squad behind the injured Beltran. Also, he has an OPS of .878, which would place him 4rd behind Wright and Beltran and the soon to be injured Sheffield.

The Twins have a glut of outfielders”and trading Cuddyer could clear space for other able players. Right now, the Twins are breaking in young outfielders Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez (of the Mets farm system), both young and talented and who need time to grow. The Twins also have Jason Kubel and Denard Span”productive players both as Kubel is slugging .558 and Span is batting .287 with 12 stolen bases.

What the Twins don™t have is a blue-chip shortstop, either at the Majors or in the minor leagues. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris are fine shortstops, but franchise rocks they are not. Franchise rocks like Jose Reyes. Reyes is the engine that makes the Mets go. And at 26, he will be said engine for a long time. Which means SS Wilmer Flores, the Mets biggest prospect according to Baseball America, will be blocked by the time he is ready to hit the Majors. While only 17, Flores is on the fast track to the majors.

Considering Catalano admits Flores “projects to have the same kind of power A-Rod or Ripken had at the shortstop position”, this is a somewhat curious proposition. The Mets already gave up on a highly touted prospect (ok, Lastings Milledge) to acquire Ryan Church, and the esteemed columnist from Dugout Central suggests following that move with trading one of the organization’s few youthful bargaining chips at the exact moment Jose Reyes’ long term prognosis is questionable. Can we really presume Flores’ path to the big leagues is going to blocked by Reyes in 2-3 years’ time?

While Flores and his Savannah Gnats teammates ended a three game winning streak with Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Charleston, the other big Mets minor league news this morning concerns Oliver Perez, who’s scheduled to make a minor league start for Single-A Brooklyn (NY-Penn) today at 5pm.  Ollie’s Keyspan Park debut precedes Yo La Tengo‘s by 15 days, and while the inconsistent left-hander will certainly command a higher fee for his performance, the odds are pretty good Yo La Tengo will have a longer outing, even with the constraints of opening for Wilco.

If Any Of You Have Reasons Why These Two Should Not Be Married, Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Posted in Baseball at 10:56 am by

Cubs 7, White Sox 8

Typically, South Side Polish parades clear the street before proceeding, but Grand Marshal AJ Pierzynski would have none of it yesterday after Gordon Beckham’s walk-off single.  The delirious receiver spearheaded a celebratory procession to second base that put the young infielder on his heels.  In his moment the kid showed less resolve than the groom at the wedding I was attending, but to be fair, the betrothed did not have to contend with the vision of a hulking, armored Pole bearing down at full speed.

But enough about the bridesmaids.  As tends to happen with the Crosstown tilts, Game 2, Electric Boogaloo was a wild affair of eight lead changes, questionable defense, and excitement aplenty.  Mark Buehrle (5.2 IP 6H 5R 3BB 3K) kept a lid on the Cubs until Beckham’s throwing error in the 3rd put Andres Blacno in scoring position, followed by another bad throw by Alexei Ramirez that allowed Bradley to reach.  A Buehrle balk in the 5th set up the tying run to come in on a Soriano sac fly.

But the bottom of the frame had Ryan Dempster (5IP 8H 5R 3BB 2K) heading for the showers after giving up a bomb to Scott Podsednik, a sigle to Ramirez, a walk to Thome, hitting Konerko and a 2-run single to AJ.

The North Siders came right back with their own 3-run inning in the 6th, ending Buehrle’s day with a walk and a single, promoting Ozzie to call upon DJ Carrasco, who promptly gave up a two-run double to Soriano, who scored on the subsequent single by Theriot.

To answer yet again, Dewayne Wise stretched out a triple when he sent an errant Aaron Heilman heater over Fukudome’s head, scoring on one of Podsednik’s 4-for-5 PAs and tying it back up.  As I traveled to Hickory Hills in solid traffic on the Stevenson, I wondered if these extraordinary proceedings had mustered any excitement from Joe Buck.  I glumly read the Bush ’04 bumper stcker in front of me, knowing I would never know.

One more run apeiece in the 8th and it was time to head to the banquet hall.  So I missed Beckham’s single, I missed the celebration, and I missed the happy outcome of Bobby Jenks (W 2-2)  second win. However, in his honor, I did eat an extra piece of chicken.


Don’t Call It A Comeback – The Return Of Ronni

Posted in Baseball at 11:58 am by

Ronni’s Amazins are surprisingly, still in a pennant race despite having been outscored 24-1 in their last two outings versus the Yankees.  Unless you actually believe the NL East can be taken with 83 wins, there’s not much to celebrate. And at the risk of beating a dead horse, while no one I’ve spoken to envies the Bronx’s new launching pad, who amongst us predicted a 2009 campaign in which David Wright might not hit 20 home runs?


Baseball’s Latest Drug Casualties : Sid Vicious, Sweet Lou

Posted in Baseball at 8:34 pm by

Some results of drug tests conducted during the 2009 World Baseball Classic have been released and it turns out The Aruban Nightmare, aka Sidney Ponson tested positive for a banned stimulant.  Currently on the DL for Omaha Royals, Ponson is banned from international competition for two years, but if you can name a single international tournament he’d have competed in during that time, you’re a bigger baseball fan than me.  Royals GM Dayton Moore describes the offending substance as “a diet pill”,  so perhaps Ponson is entitled to a refund on top of the time off.

Cubs receiver Geovany Soto — he of the game-winning, 3-run HR in this afternoon’s 5-4 defeat of the host White Sox — is said to have tested positive for marijuana during the WBC.  Manager Lou Piniella quickly spoke in support of his catcher, telling ESPN Chicago, “A lot of people (smoke marijuana). You can even buy it in California from a pharmacy.”  Would it be so difficult for Lou to provide this pharmacy’s name and address?

Look, I have smoked dope one time in my life,” Piniella said before the Cubs faced the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. “And it didn’t do a damn thing for me, and I never tried it again. I’m fortunate because of that.

Piniella believes the weight of knowing that revelation would come out affected Soto, who is the reigning National League rookie of the year and has struggled this season.

“I wasn’t aware of this until three or four days ago, and if I had been aware of it, truthfully, I would have encouraged Geo to speak about this much sooner to get it off his chest,” Piniella said. “I think it’s really had a negative effect on his performance.

“It was supposed to come out a few times and they delayed it, and I don’t think it’s done any good. I would have encouraged the player to come out and say this is what’s going to come out, this is what’s happened, I’m embarrassed about it and it’s not going to happen again. I’m done with it. Basically, that would have been the best approach, as far as I’m concerned.”

Not to mock the skipper but what’s up with these people who say they’ve tried a drug once and never again?  Isn’t it pretty common knowledge you can’t really get a full grasp of a drug’s capabilities until you’ve used it fairly consistently for a few weeks, if not months?  And is it really too late for Lou to give weed another try?  Surely watching Carlos Marmol pitch is grounds for a medical exemption.

Nets Fans To Resume Feeding The Dog People-Food

Posted in Basketball at 2:05 pm by

“Vince Carter’s exploits down the stretch in 2005 gave Nets fans the feeling that anything was possible on the basketball court.”  So recalls Nothing But Nets’ Matthew McQueeny, with the dump-frenzied Nets’ decision to send Carter to Orlando yesterday, only hastening the following realization : “you understand the trade on its face, but it feels like the Nets will only be more inconsequential now.”

There is a somber feeling about the end of this era, flawed as it was but surely with its moments. Because it also seems to portend to something happening beyond basketball for the Nets. (It seems, as their incessant catch phrase goes) It’s about…salary dumps…and surviving. Rod Thorns seems to be making the trades that he so often was on the other end of shrewdly making. Sure, Courtney Lee is good and young and showed some things. But in earlier Nets eras, the Rafer Alstons’ and the Tony Batties’ sound a lot like the Eric Williams’ and Aaron Williams’ – and the “contracts” of Alonzo Mourning. Vince was traded by the Nets the way he seemingly was brought to New Jersey.

And for that, it peppers this trade with holes. His window is closing on primetime, as his contract numbers escalate, but when the Nets make a trade like this – while substantially laying off their business-side workers (and advance scouts!) and the contracts of their assistant coaches – it feels not only like a salary dump, but a dump for survival. As if, even with their immediate salary relief, it might still not be enough. Unfortunately, it does like it’s “more than a game.” That was their catch phrase to signify all the entertainment options you could find at a Nets game in somewhat more flush times, but it could be the basketball state of affairs now.

Vaccaro Puts It All In Perspective : Jackson’s Death Just As Shocking As Munson’s

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 1:39 pm by

In the hours following the confirmation of Michael Jackson’s passing yesterday at the age of 50, I heard the occasion’s impact compared to that of the deaths of John Lennon,  Kurt Cobain and Elvis Presley. Remarkably, CNN, Fox and MSBNC didn’t bother to seek out the New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro, who while insisting “If you were to ask me about the music that formed me, shaped me  I’d probably throw 20 to 25 names at you before it even occurred to me to mention Jackson” (“Springsteen, the Beatles, the Stones, Pearl Jam, Billy Joel, Jim Croce, Sinatra, U2, the Police”), managed to admit he felt “scarily, frighteningly identical” yesterday as he did on August 2, 1979, “when my friend Kevin Walsh frantically knocked on the door of my parents’ house in West Hempstead to breathlessly break the news that Thurman Munson had died in a plane crash.”

(the King Of Squat)

I was not a Yankee fan, I was in the midst of some endlessly fruitless Mets summers, but I was still at an age (or maybe it was simply an era) when it wasn’t required by law to hate one team if you liked the other. And so of course I was enamored with Munson, because who couldn’t be? Who wouldn’t like a player who played that hard, that hurt, with that much heart, who got his uniform dirty and seemed willing to do anything necessary to win baseball games? Maybe I would have rather have had Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn, Lee Mazzilli and Craig Swan over to my house to have a catch because of the uniform they wore, but I sure wasn’t above feeling a gaping hole somewhere inside when Kevin and I flicked on Warner Wolf for the awful details.

When you hear Jackson’s music, it really doesn’t matter how odd he became in his later years, how troubling it was to see what he’d become, to read another news item about another lawsuit and another pile of debt, all of that. What matters is he soundtrack he offered our lives, with his voice, with his pen, with his unbelievable gift. That’s what I think about now. Thurman Munson might not have been my first choice as a Little League dinner speaker (not if Skip Lockwood was available), just as “Thriller” wouldn’t be the record I make sure I take with me to the “Lost” island (not as long as I still have “Abbey Road” and a couple hundred other candidates). But the loss, in its own way, is just as significant. I do hope he finds a sense of peace now, wherever he is.

Anger Mismanagement Dept : Braves’ Bennett Commits Career Suicide

Posted in Baseball at 1:20 pm by

œA lot of things boiled up, and I didn™t handle the release of those very well.  Ya think?  At least Braves reliever Jeff Bennett had the presence of mind to punch a door with his non-pitching hand, otherwise he’d rival Kevin Brown in the selfish/stupidity sweepstakes.  From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien :

Bennett will have surgery to insert a pin in the break in his fifth metacarpal below the base of the pinky finger.

œI™m ashamed of myself, he said after seeing the Braves™ hand specialist Thursday. œThis is a professional sport; you handle yourself in a professional manner. I didn™t do that. ¦ I™m just hopeful that [manager] Bobby [Cox] and [general manager] Frank [Wren] will give me another chance.

œIt comes out of frustration, spur of the moment, Cox said. œIt™s not the first time somebody broke a hand or a toe out of frustration. It™s good that he cares; it™s not good if you break something.

He entered Wednesday game with the Yankees in the 7th inning with bases loaded and got ahead in the count 0-and-2 against Rodriguez before throwing a fastball that was driven to center field.

Bennett said he punched a door after the inning, and was in such a state of anger, he couldn™t remember doing it until he saw the dent.

The bone was broken all the way through, and a bump rose beneath the skin. Bennett said he pushed the bone back into place, didn™t tell anyone what happened, and went back out and pitched the seventh.

He gave up a homer to Nick Swisher in the seventh but made it through the inning. About 30 minutes later, Bennett finally told a team trainer what he had done. He said he waited because he was afraid and embarrassed.


Spotted : The Worst Dressed Man At MSG

Posted in Basketball at 7:27 pm by

Well done and a $5 Arby’s gift certificate to whichever ESPN cameraman managed to find the one LA Clippers fan in attendance tonight at the NBA Draft.

So far :

1) Clippers – Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)
2) Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet (UConn)
3) Thunder -  James Harden (Arizona State)
4) Kings – Tyreke Evans (Memphis)
5) T-Wolves – Ricky Rubio (DKV Jovenhut Badalona)

(Rubio, as quoted by True Hoop’s Henry Abbott :
Q. Are you excited to go to Minnesota?

A. I’m excited to come to the NBA.

He was also asked about whether being picked by the ‘Wolves might inspire him to stay in Europe.

He said:”I don’t know yet. I have to think about that … I’m going to talk to my agent about that and we’re going to see.”
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