06.30.09

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.”)

06.29.09

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

Posted in Baseball at 9:36 pm by

http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/ozzie-excited.jpg

[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.