06.26.09

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.

06.25.09

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.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

Posted in Leave No Child Unbeaten, The World Of Entertainment at 6:17 pm by

The late King Of Pop, as depicted by Derek Erdman.

The Sales Pitch For Nets ’09-10 Season Tickets : Enjoy The Silence, Privacy

Posted in Basketball at 5:24 pm by

“One year after shipping out Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons , a controversial deal that has not exactly yielded dividends,” writes the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro, “the Nets are now parting with the player who helped saved the franchise from oblivion during the cold winter of ’04-05.”  After dealing Jefferson and Jason Kidd, the Nets have cut all ties with their mid-decade success by trading Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Rafer Alston, power forward Tony Battie, and rookie shooting guard Courtney Lee. From D’Alessandro :

It is now likely that the Nets will lean toward drafting a two-guard to take Carter’s place, such as Terrence Williams. If that isn’t the case, Lee — a very promising player who was otherwise abused by Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals — will fight Chris Douglas-Roberts for the starting job.

Equally plausible is that the Nets have opened the door for another power forward, with Anderson heading south. That could provide the necessary impetus to draft Tyler Hansbrough.

Both Alston ($5.25M) and Battie ($6.2M) are in the final seasons of their contract, while Carter carries a salary of $16.1 million this year and $17.5 million for 2010-11.

Considering that salaries of Lee and Anderson basically cancel each other out, that means the Nets are shaving $17.5 million from their cap in 2010-11. Put another way, they have earmarked a scant $29 million for seven players heading into the historic free agent market of 2010.

Warriors coach Don Nelson denies reports Golden State have a deal in place to send the rights to the no. 7 pick in tonight’s draft along with Andris Biedrins to rebuilding Phoenix in exchange for Amare Stoudemire. If the Suns seem an unlikely playoff candidate for spring 2010, perhaps it would make more sense to shop Steve Nash before he’s another day older?

Steve Lyons Adds Anti-Intellectualism To His Resume

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV at 4:04 pm by

Really, why stop at mocking Jews, racism and exhbitionism? Eric Collins and Steve Lyons butted heads a few times during last night’s telecast of of the Dodgers at the White Sox, and let’s just say x-rays of Psycho’s head would reveal nothing.   Here’s a few of the highlights, as collected by Sons Of Steve Garvey (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

Lyons: Do you follow some of the other whacked-out statistical categories that are nouveau to the game of baseball?
Collins: I do. It’s ”
Lyons: What are they?
Collins: Well, you got defensive ” for the first time ever you have ”
Lyons: The WHIP ”
Collins: For the first time ever you have categories that measure defense. The UZR: Ultimate Zone Rating. It makes a difference. Everyone talked about it last year. Tampa Bay making it to the post-season because of pitching and defense. Defense matters nowadays.
Lyons: It’s fictional. There is a place, a very small place, for the computer geeks that are now taking over the game of baseball. There is a place, but it’s a small place. We’re seeing way too much of it. UZR. And your WHIPs and your OPSes. They don’t show me what kind of heart the guy has. BABIP?
Collins: Batting Average on Balls in Play?
Lyons: Stupid. Doesn’t tell me if the guy is a player. Doesn’t tell me if the guy can play. Is he a gamer? Does he get dirty? Does he go out there and play hard? Is he a good teammate? None of that stuff tells me any of that. That’s the guy I want.
Collins: That would be your Derek Jeter, we were talking about an inning ago.
Lyons: I’ll take your computer and I’ll toss it right off this balcony here.
Collins: Every computer ever designed would have told you that Alex Rodriguez was a better defender than Derek Jeter when he first came to the Yankees, yet Derek Jeter continued to play shortstop. And that didn’t help the Yankees at all defensively.
Three-one pitch.
But Derek Jeter is a gamer and he’s ”
Lyons: I’ll let you take that up with Joe Torre.
Collins: I bet he’d have an interesting thought on that. Maybe that’ll be my task for tomorrow.
Lyons: I hope you still have a job after that conversation.

The Dodgers and White Sox are currently tied at 5-5 in the last of the 9th at the Cell.  I’ll not bother to link to the box score, because it would tell you absolutely nothing about any of the participants’ willingness to get dirty.

Bad Timing Dept : Tyreke Evans’ Draft Week Distraction

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 2:00 pm by

The following tragic tale from the Delaware County Times’ Marlene DiGiacamo wouldn’t ordinarily be fodder for the sports blogs where it not for a prominent name that surfaces in the 4th graph.

As soulful sobbing echoed through the courtroom from the victim™s relatives, a judge Tuesday told Jamar Evans that when he pulled the trigger and snuffed out the life of another youth in a senseless street shooting, he was œhorrendously wrong.

Judge Ann Osborne sentenced Evans, 18, of Chester to nine to 20 years in jail, to be followed by eight years of probation, in the Nov. 25, 2007, fatal shooting in Chester Township. Marcus Reason, 19, was gunned down by Evans, who opened fire from a car.

The car, in which Evans was a passenger and from where the fatal shot was fired, was driven by his cousin, Tyreke Evans (above), a standout basketball player this past season for the University of Memphis. He was also a star at the now-defunct American Christian School.

Tyreke Evans was not charged in connection with the case and had been expected to testify in his cousin™s behalf, but has not been present during any of the county court proceedings.

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola suggests the Knicks are trying to choose between Tyreke Evans and Duke’s Gerald Henderson with 8th overall selection in tonight’s NBA Draft. There’s probably not a tactful way to ask Evans about his cousin’s sentencing this evening, but in the event he slips out of the top 10, it should at the very least be mentioned during ESPN’s coverage.

Steven Wells, RIP

Posted in non-sporting journalism, Rock Und Roll, Sports Journalism at 11:22 am by

Steven Wells aka Swells aka Seething Wells, the Yorkshire spoken word artist, author, music journalist and sporting critic, has passed away at the age of 49 following a long battle with lympathic cancer.  Wells’ columns for the Guardian —- written from his subsequent Philadelphia home — have been quoted at length in CSTB, and perhaps some enterprising person will compile a stack of them into a book of some sort.   To call Wells a contrarian is only skimming the surface of his skills.  There have been few scribes on either side of the pond — in the music or sports spheres — who could match his wit, or maintained bullshit detectors so finely attuned. He’ll be sorely missed and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and colleagues.