07.31.09

Can We Be Certain The Gunshot Wound Wasn’t Self-Inflicted?

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 4:27 pm by

Really, in light of Friday’s news that Jose Reyes isn’t coming back anytime soon, could you really blame Mr. Met?  The above garment is apparently a discontinued item from Philly tee peddlers Birdland, as tipped by MetsBlog‘s Matthew Cerrone.

4 whole days of nothing to blame on Tony Bernazard, and I’m feeling jittery.  Hey, guess which National League baseball club based in Flushing ultimately determined they were neither sellers nor buyers at today’s trade deadline?

Calcaterra : PED Users Have Rights, Too

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The Law at 2:59 pm by

ESPN allowed alleged humorist Colin Cowherd to complain on Thursday’s “SportsCenter” that Major League Baseball had to stop the “drip drip drip” of slowly leaking names from the infamous gang of 104 PED users of 2003 by making the full list available (“the NFL would just release the entire list the day before the Super Bowl”, argued Cowherd). Presumably, someone at Bristol U. took time  to explain to the network’s prized mental midget that MLB isn’t the party responsible for a few of the names ending up in the New York Times.   In Chicago, Ozzie Guillen demanded “can somebody in baseball, please, we’re all begging people, get that stupid list out and move on. This is ridiculous. This is embarrassing.” To which Circling The Bases’ Craig Calcaterra replies, “Setting aside the fact that such a thing is practically impossible — actually releasing it all would require a court order itself, and no one else involved in the case has any incentive for it to be lifted — it’s also a horrible idea.”

The list, as everyone seems to be forgetting, would not have existed if the people whose names appear on it (and about a thousand others) hadn’t been promised that it would remain confidential while it existed and would be destroyed soon after it was created. Those promises were broken, first by the players’ own union, who violated the players’ trust, and then by the federal government, who, in the opinion of many, overstepped previously-established legal grounds to seize the information in the course of their BALCO investigation. An investigation, mind you, that had nothing to do with the vast majority of the players on the list.

The listed players have had at least two legal duties owed to them breached and two legal rights entitled to them violated: the fiduciary duties owed to them by their union, the contractual duties owed to them by baseball and the testing lab, their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and the right to have their medical information kept private, guaranteed by HIPAA. It’s too late for Manny, Papi, A-Rod, and Sosa, but around 100 other of these guys still have not been damaged by these egregious acts, though they will be if their names are released as everyone is so blithely demanding.

And what is to be gained by such a release? The satisfaction of the media, who would love to report and opine on this some more, and the satisfaction of the general public who either gets off on the salaciousness of it or, more commonly, simply wants this all to go away and thinks the quicker the names are out the more likely that is to happen. Call me crazy, but I don’t think my rights to privacy and to the security of my personal medical information are something to be preserved or denied based on how good a story this makes for someone.

Mushnick : Minaya Bashers Are A Bit Naive

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:35 pm by

Somewhat echoing the earlier comments of Murray Chass, add the New York Post’s resident conscience of all things sports media, Phil Mushnick, to the small chorus of those who find something slightly unseemly about the Daily News’ Adam Rubin receiving career guidance from Jeff Wilpon. While acknowledging Omar Minaya’s remarks Monday were “slathered with cheap desperation”, Mushnick protests “the sports media have a long and dishonorable tradition of trying to ingratiate themselves to the teams and people they cover in exchange for future considerations, be it access, a few bucks or a full-time job.”

The sports media know that “playing ball” can provide all manner of benefits, from regular paid writing gigs in team yearbooks and game programs, to team-site Internet gigs, to book deals, to front-office club and league positions, to full-time team TV and radio deals. Certain credentialed reporters, men and women, become looked upon by teams’ management and ownership as “our people,” often inexpensively compromised.

Just think of the beating a certain national all-sports network would daily be taking if so many big-time writers and columnists, throughout the country, weren’t on its payroll as contributors.

Does truth-telling suffer? Suffer? It’s often destroyed. And there’s no one who has spent more than a year on a sports beat who doesn’t strongly sense the co-opted among them.

That’s why some of the indignant and horrified fallout to Minaya’s ugly claim against Rubin was a bit much. Everyone knows half a dozen “house men” who trade on their media credentials. Make it a dozen.

Sir Bobby Robson, Dead At 76

Posted in Football at 12:52 pm by

Longtime England manager Bobby Robson (shown above in 1987, with Gary Linekar on his right and Bryan Robson to his left) passed away earlier today following a long battle with cancer. Though best known for a tumultuous spell managing the England team, Robson achieved considerable success at Ipswich during a club career that included tenures at Fulham, Newcastle, Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Porto and Barcelona. The following excerpt from the Telegraph’s Friday morning obit picks up around the time of England’s 1990 World Cup campaign, 4 years after Robson’s side was victimized by Diego Maradona in Mexico.

Robson again found himself pilloried by the newspapers. Not only had England performed wretchedly in the 1988 European Championships, but details of an alleged love affair had also surfaced, and the FA had crassly announced that whatever happened in the World Cup, Robson would be replaced at its end. Normally a genial man, for much of the tournament Robson wore the air of a man under siege.

The side was once more handicapped by the absence of Bryan Robson, and by the inexperience of some players caused by the ban on English clubs entering European competition after the Heysel disaster; but the emergence of David Platt, and Robson’s acceptance of the players’ wish to employ a sweeper system, brought the team through to a semi-final meeting with Germany in Turin. It was the first time that England had reached this stage since 1966.

Yet again, in a match that was always bound to be close, luck went against Robson. The Germans scored with a freak deflection off Paul Parker, and though Lineker equalised magnificently, the outcome fell to be determined by penalties. Waddle ballooned his over the bar, and England were out. They subsequently lost the third-place match to Italy.

There were many observers who felt that, had the result in Turin gone the other way, Robson’s side might well have prevailed in the Final against Argentina. Instead, the nature of his defeat haunted Robson for years afterwards, and he could never speak about it in a manner that implied he had come to terms with it.

Phillies to Billy Joel: Not In Our House

Posted in Baseball, decomposing composers at 11:05 am by

Billy Joel (above right) during his less acquiescent period

Billy Joel (above right) during his less acquiescent period

Perhaps overstating the current state of the Phillies vs Mets rivalry, the Phillies and Billy Joel are nonetheless taking no chances of provoking any overeager or fighting drunk Phillies fans during his appearances with Elton John at Citizens Bank Park. from Philly.com

In a bid to keep the peace at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies wanted to cloak or replace the 16-by-16-foot Mets banner at the top of the set decoration at the Billy Joel/Elton John concerts tonight and Saturday.

Alas, they could not find anything suitable.

Joel will wear a Phillies jacket for at least part of the show and will make some sort of joking reference to the Mets and their 10-games-back status

My colleague Bob Ford and I hear that the Phillies had reached out to the “Face 2 Face” concert to express concern about Joel’s New York-theme set.

It’s not that the Phils are worried about any kind of baseball rivalry, we hear; they just don’t want some yahoo having too much to drink and throwing something at it or starting a fight. The Mets banner was visible at recent shows at Nationals Ballpark and Wrigley Field.

Perhaps Joel will sing “Philadelphia State of Mind,” as well.

Nomar : ’03 PED List Includes Martyrs

Posted in Baseball at 1:55 am by

“David Ortiz looks like one of the television evangelists who gets caught in a seedy motel with a hooker,” sneers the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, adding, “the 2004 Red Sox really were Idiots. Just like the Yankees and everybody else.”  Oakland’s Nomar Garciaparra — previously implicated by proto-sports blogger Bob Ryan — collected a ring for his half season + contribution to Boston’s 2004 title campaign, and unsurprisingly takes a different view than the C.H.B.   To wit, Nomah would have us believe there are some players on the infamous List of 100 Offenders who intentionally flunked or failed the tests in order to usher in genuine penalties going forward.

Historic Ballpark /Bouton Haunt, Underwater

Posted in Baseball, Natural Disasters at 12:07 am by

In 1996, I had the pleasure of attending a Pittsfield Mets game at Wahconah Park, the venerable stadium that in recent years has been the beneficiary of Jim Bouton’s patronage and since 2005, served as the home venue for a Dan Duquette owned-NECBL team. However, after heavy rains in the Northeast, writes The College Baseball Blog’s Michael Radomski, “what was once a tourist attraction for many sports fans has now turned into a tourist attraction for water sports.”

Radio Norwich’s overnight man was unavailable for comment.

07.30.09

Can Pete Rose Get Reinstated By The England F.A.?

Posted in Football, Gambling at 10:54 pm by

In the wake of a quartet of players being suspended after a match fixing scandal stemming from a 2008 League Two contest between Accrington Stanley and Bury, When Saturday Comes’ Alex Wolstenholme stresses such news “is unlikely to halt the growing popularity of betting on football and the firm acceptance of the gaming industry into the sport.”

Once hidden behind the closed doors and frosted windows of the high street, the betting industry is now an increasingly familiar part of the sporting world in general and football in particular. Club websites have a link to an official betting partner, while bookmakers have sponsored teams, competitions and whole leagues such as the Blue Square Premier. This summer, Nottingham Forest and Wolves became the latest clubs to announce such sponsorship deals, with Victor Chandler and Sportingbet respectively. Meanwhile, former professionals and football presenters, such as Jeff Stelling, Chris Kamara (above) and Carlton Palmer, adorn the shop windows of the big betting companies, appear in television adverts and write columns in the racing press.

Until 2000, the Football League’s “minimum trebles” rule prevented betting on individual English games unless they were live on television, the presence of the cameras deemed enough of a deterrent to potential match-fixers to allow singles to be placed on a live game. The abolishment of the rule, coupled with the end of the ten per cent betting tax, provided a massive boost to football betting. Today a huge range of English games, including non-League matches, can be bet on individually. An astonishing array of markets at home and abroad is now on offer at the betting shop, at the other end of the phone and online.

Slow news days are often enlivened by stories claiming that a particular manager is under pressure after a bookmaker announces they have slashed their odds or closed the book on him being sacked. Often it can take only a small amount of money to change the odds and yet the story can grow a life of its own as a reaction is sought to the œnews. The only thing that bookmakers won’t be offering odds on next season is the number of matches that will be subject to official investigation.

No Smearing in the Press Box: Michael S. Schmidt, You Still Have Half a Story to Write

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 2:22 pm by

This is what a baseball reporter looks like, i.e., a working man.  This is not Michael S. Schmidt.

If it can still be called news, word comes from The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt today of two more names added to the list of those who allegedly tested positive for steroids in 2003.  Today, Yankee fans will be happy to see Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz’ from the World Series Curse Breaking Red Sox.  Curt Schilling haters can now sneer that his World Series ring was won with a needle.  Unfortunately for Bosox haters and those hoping to read a credible story, Schmidt continues to base his allegations on discredited evidenceLike his Sammy Sosa story a few months back, Schmidt relies on the evidence thrown out of Federal court as inconclusive in the Barry Bonds case.  If a Federal Judge threw the Bonds results out, why are results from the same batch of results now conclusive for The New York Times re Sosa, Manny, or Ortiz?   They’re not, and one guesses the attorneys who fed Schmidt these stories, and Schmidt himself, hopes for an A-Rod style confession as vindication.  If it’s not forthcoming from Sosa, Ortiz, or Manny, then Schmidt actually has some reporting to do, besides waiting for his phone to ring.  As steroid fans will recall, at no time could the results said to belong to Bonds from this same batch of tests actually be proven to be Bonds’ results “ it needed corroboration from his trainer, Greg Anderson, who refused to talk.  It’s why the Federal case against Bonds fell apart in February ’09, and exactly when the names of the 104 started to leak to the public “ ie, February ’09.  Chasing after Selena Roberts’ A-Rod admission of PED use, Schmidt continues to play mouthpiece to lawyers familiar with the case who taint player reputations with No Credible Evidence.  If I read Schmidt’s story correctly, he has not personally seen any evidence, shows no sign of making the link Federal prosecutors failed to make, and he has no other sources.

What’s getting so pathetic about The New York Times’ sporting coverage comes down to three current/former NYT staffers:  Michael S. Schmidt, Murray Chass, and Selena Roberts.  Chass’ “backne” fiasco re allegations of Mike Piazza and PEDs, and Schmidt’s threadbare accusations against Sammy Sosa, are equally ludicrous at this point.  Roberts took heat for her anonymous sourcing, a standard if imperfect journalism practice, but guess what “ she’s the only one proven correct.  She certainly beat the Times out on this story, and Schmidt obviously hopes to catch up and score the same kind of admissions but with  much weaker sourcing.  There’s a difference between using anonymous sources and letting them use you.  We’ll see if Ortiz or Sosa ever confess, as A-Rod did with Roberts, and save Schmidt’s rep from that of “backne” level journalism.  Again, as I’ve said before, it wouldn’t surprise me these days if my three-year-old tested positive for steroids, much less a Sosa or Ortiz.  Still, Michael S. Schmidt is getting played here.  He needs to actually report something or forever look like what he is today, a shill.

As Schmidt relates here, his story is based on nothing but the following:

Baseball first tested for steroids in 2003, and the results from that season were supposed to remain anonymous. But for reasons that have never been made clear, the results were never destroyed and the first batch of positives has come to be known among fans and people in baseball as œthe list. The information was later seized by federal agents investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, and the test results remain the subject of litigation between the baseball players union and the government.

Five others have been tied to positive tests from that year: Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and David Segui. Bonds, baseball™s career home runs leader, was not on the original list, although federal agents seized his 2003 sample and had it retested. Those results showed the presence of steroids, according to court documents.

The information about Ramirez and Ortiz emerged through interviews with multiple lawyers and others connected to the pending litigation. The lawyers spoke anonymously because the testing information is under seal by a court order. The lawyers did not identify which drugs were detected.

Schmidt : Papi, Manny Tested Positive For Steroids In ’03

Posted in Baseball at 1:29 pm by

While the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessey insists the mischief went down “before all the good stuff happened”, make no mistake — the Red Sox  have lost whatever (nebulous) moral high ground they maintained over their ‘roid injecting rivals in the Bronx.  The New York Times’ Michael B. Schmidt reports this afternoon that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were amongst the 100 or so MLB players who tested positive for PED’s in 2003.

The information about Ramirez and Ortiz emerged through interviews with multiple lawyers and others connected to the pending litigation. The lawyers spoke anonymously because the testing information is under seal by a court order. The lawyers did not identify which drugs were detected.

Unlike Ramirez, who recently served a 50-game suspension for violating baseball™s drug policy, Ortiz had not previously been linked to performance-enhancing substances.

Scott Boras, the agent for Ramirez, would not comment Thursday.

Asked about the 2003 drug test on Thursday in Boston, Ortiz shrugged. œI™m not talking about that anymore, he said. œI have no comment.

The union has argued that the government illegally seized the 2003 test results, and judges at various levels of the federal court system have weighed whether the government can keep them. The government hopes to question every player on the list to determine where the drugs came from. An appeals court is deliberating the matter, and the losing side is likely to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

Ortiz is in the lineup for Boston this afternoon against Oakland ; he doubled in his first at bat against the A’s Gio Gonzalez and presumably a home run will result in yet another Papi curtain call.  If anyone’s paying attention, this is gonna put a real dent in the sales of “A-Fraud” tees around Kenmore Square.

Selig Urged to Boast More, Selig Obliges

Posted in Baseball, Greedy Motherfuckers, Ugly New Stadiums at 1:06 pm by

If it happens to Bud Selig, it’s news.  Just ask Selig, who turned his 75th birthday into an opportunity to “address the fans” and allow callers to celebrate Selig.  Celebrating Bud, it’s the national pastime of the national pastime, and Bud has lots to boast about.  This year, Selig recently beat back cancer, and while we wish him well, it’s also hoped that the every-three-months check-ups he receives will be available to everyone soon.  So, while you may not have a job, healthcare, and fear of a black planet may have driven you to question whether your President is an American citizen, if he hates white people, or men actually walked on the moon, at least Selig is there for you to take some comfort in his success “ even when attendance is actually down.  Here, Selig reminds us how much money baseball is making, a predicted $6.5 billion this year “ altho not how that might come back to fans whose towns pay tax breaks for new stadiums or endure high ticket prices.  As for baseball’s drug policies, well, blame the unions entirely, of course.

“One of my proudest accomplishments has been watching this game grow to the heights that no one ever dreamed possible,” he said. “Attendance this season is down 5 percent, but if you take into account the reduced capacities of the two new ballparks in New York, it’s actually down only 3.8, 3.9 percent, which is amazing given the economy. I’ve had more people in the business world say to me, ‘You ought to announce that. What a dramatic story that is.’ You’re talking about other businesses that are off 30 percent to 40 percent. This may be our greatest year ever given the environment.”

As for the drug policy, Selig said: “We went through the cocaine era in 1980s, which was terribly significant. There were the Pittsburgh drug trials. Four people went to jail. They couldn’t get the Players Association to agree to a testing program. And [former union executive director] Marvin Miller says to this day that if he were still in charge, we wouldn’t have one. I’m proud of where we are. We’ve accomplished far more than anyone before me had ever done or anybody had any right to expect. This sport is being cleaned up. I understand the chemists are working hard on a test for human growth hormone. Believe me, once there is one, it will be there. We’ll put it in.”

Selig’s official MLB tenure began in 1970 when he headed an ownership group that bought the failing Pilots and moved the team from Seattle to his home town of Milwaukee just days before that season. He was named interim Commissioner in September 1992 and was elected by the owners permanently six years later.

Selig was slated to retire at the end of this season until the owners extended his contract last year through Dec. 31, 2012. As such he will outlast the heads of labor, the duo that made the MLB Players Association perhaps the toughest union in all of sports.

“That’s very interesting when you think about that,” Selig said.

07.29.09

Tanya Skagle Is No Longer The Worst Pimp In The World

Posted in Sports Journalism, The Law at 6:50 pm by

You might think being 4-time New Hampshire Sportswriter Of The Year award winner and working the highly coveted Manchester Monarchs beat would constitute a full enough plate for the average guy, but the Union-Leader’s Kevin Provencher isn’t your run of the mill sports journalist. Granite State cops allege Provencher was the mastermind behind a Massachusetts/New Hampshire border prostitution ring, utilizing Craigslist and other internet fuck-sites.  The following was penned, appropriately enough, by Provencher’s Union-Leader colleagues, Dale Vincent and Dan O’Brien.

Provencher, at his arraignment in Manchester District Court yesterday morning, waived extradition from New Hampshire. He was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail following afternoon arraignment in Lawrence (Mass.) District Court on two charges of deriving income from prostitution.

Massachusetts police said about five women worked for Provencher and two of them will be witnesses. Provencher allegedly recruited the women on Craigslist and arranged for them to meet him at a Manchester hotel, wearing specified clothing, where he would œaudition them.

During one of the auditions at the Fairfield Inn, Provencher allegedly provided a woman with black lingerie and photographed her in various poses, according to court documents. The woman allegedly agreed to have sexual intercourse with Provencher who later told her she was hired.

Police said he used the Marriott, Spring Hill Suites and Fairfield Inn for the operation until one prostitute complained about the long drive from Quincy to Manchester. Provencher then allegedly moved his operation to Andover, Mass.

Police said they set up a sting operation June 11 at the Andover, MA Spring Hill Suites and observed men coming and going from a room. Defeo said law enforcement authorities œcould clearly hear activities consistent with sexual intercourse.

Brunt On The Jays’ New Economy

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 6:16 pm by

While Philadelphia’s acquisition of Cliff Lee earlier today dealt a serious blow to J.P. Ricciardi’s hopes of trading Roy Halladay (above) outside of the AL East, there’s some question of whether or not Toronto can get their story straight. When Rogers Communications purchased the Blue Jays from Interbrew, the former understood “the ball club had value beyond its own bottom line” writes the Globe & Mail’s Stephen Brunt. However, “In the past year, the world economy collapsed and Ted Rogers died, and those two events have undeniably changed the operating environment for the Toronto Blue Jays.”

There is a reason the NFL forbids corporate ownership of its franchises. When the first duty is the protection of shareholders™ interests and a sports franchise is but a single cog in a larger machine, decisions that can dramatically affect the product on the playing field can be mandated by issues far removed from sports.

Right now, the squeeze is on at Rogers, as it is in so many places. It is the responsibility and fiduciary duty of those managing the company to do what they can to improve the balance sheets. And while, under Ted Rogers, some aspects of the company may have been more protected than others, now all are viewed equally “ including a baseball team that by itself loses money every year.

œWe remain obviously committed to the Blue Jays, Nadir Mohamed, the president and CEO of Rogers Communications said yesterday during a quarterly conference call with analysts.

But that commitment isn™t romantic. It isn™t unconditional. It isn™t a fan™s commitment. It can™t include risking shareholders™ money in a terrible economy for what might be a once-a-decade chance to push the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, or to keep the best pitcher in baseball in the fold.

In Honor Of The Captain’s 76th Birthday

Posted in Professional Wrestling, Rock Und Roll at 5:00 pm by

It’s Vida Blue‘s 60th today as well, but NRBQ never wrote a song about him.

Matthews : If Not For Madoff, Minaya Would Be Unemployed

Posted in Baseball at 3:53 pm by

Before any offshore bookmakers begin posting odds on favorites to become the new General Manager of the New York Mets (Dan O’Dowd? John Hart? Sandy Alderson? Vickie Guerrero?), now would be a good to ask, “given Wallace Matthews‘ repeated bashing of the Wilpon family, can we really believe Jeff W. would confide in the Newsday shit-stirrer?”  Said question comes to mind Wednesday after Matthews quotes the younger Wilpon as saying, “he’s this close to being out of baseball,” of Omar Minaya (“holding his thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart”). With or without the damning (and dubious) no confidence vote, Wally is slightly more entitled to wonder, “why is Minaya still in the Mets’ front office?”

It can’t be because he represents the organization so well – collateral damage, you know – or because of his silvery tongue, which the Mets fear so much they kept him locked away from the media Tuesday.

“He’s not going to be very good with you guys right now,” Wilpon said, knowing full well he couldn’t be any worse than he was Monday.

\

Which left only one feasible answer: Bernie Madoff.

More and more, it looks like Jeff Wilpon should have been allowed to deliver a victim impact statement in the sentencing of the Ponzi scammer who cost him and the Mets an estimated $700 million.

To that, add the salaries paid to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo and Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado. Plus, he’s committed to Minaya through 2012. In the current state of the Mets’ finances, you think he’s about to pay a guy nearly $4 million not to run his ballclub?

He’ll hold on to this guy if it kills him, because having to pay another guy to do his job might kill him worse.

Along with all the other damage the Madoff fiasco did to the Mets, add one more example: Omar Minaya. The Mets can’t win with him, can’t afford to let him go.

Was Drew Brees Raised By The Female Answer To Lionel Hutz?

Posted in Gridiron, The Law at 1:53 pm by

In October of 2006, CSTB linked to an item from the Austin American-Statesman in which Saints QB Drew Brees disassociated himself from his mother’s campaign to win a spot on the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Sadly, it seems Mina Brees (above) is not nearly done making a name for herself, as the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Tolson reports.

Scores of Houston restaurant owners received a letter from an Austin attorney last week offering them the œopportunity to purchase one thing that all believed was already and irrefutably theirs ” their name.

The letter, addressed œto whom it may concern, informed the restaurateurs that their assumed names on file with the Harris County Clerk had expired. The new owner of all these names, a company called Chicksports Inc., was willing to sell each one back. The price? Some owners were told $25,000, others $20,000. The letter ended with what some considered a threat.

œIf you have not contacted me by email or phone by August 14, 2009, Chicksports will explore its legal options for your use of the assumed name it now owns or contact other parties interested in owning the reservation of the right to this assumed name, attorney Mina Brees wrote.

Jeffrey Horowitz, who represents the owners of Shade, a restaurant in Houston Heights, said the letter made little sense from a legal standpoint.

œIt looks like a weak attempt to do something like cyber squatting, but the law in Texas is such that ” with trade names and trademarks ” first use usually prevails, Horowitz said. œWhy they would send a letter like that ¦ doesn’t make any sense unless they were trying to take advantage of a restaurateur who does not know the law.

Ringolsby : Beane Blew It On Holliday’s Arrival And Departure

Posted in Baseball at 1:31 pm by

The SF Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins correctly reminds his readers that former Denver Post columnist Tracy Ringolsby has long stranding animosity against “Moneyball” — if not for the book’s author, Michael Lewis, than certainly for protagonist / A’s GM Billy Beane.  As such, the man with the cowboy remains an ardent critic of Beane’s, with last week’s shipment of Matt Holliday to the Cardinals providing yet another opportunity to take a shot or 3. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

On Monday, Ringolsby (above) addressed the Holliday trade in his FoxSports.com column. The issue we’re all trying to evaluate is the matter of (a) acquiring Holliday for Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith; and (b) unloading Holliday for Brett Wallace, Shane Peterson and Clayton Mortensen. Some, including FoxSports’ own Ken Rosenthal, have called this exchange the latest measure of Beane’s genius.

Ringolsby, who has always been known for his extensive knowledge of the minor leagues, begs to differ. Of the three prospects acquired from the Cardinals, “none showed promise of having an impact in St. Louis,” he wrote. “It’s a gamble that backfired on Beane. His hope was that a strong first half by Holliday would perk the interest of contenders, but instead left him without a strong bidding war. Beane had to cut his losses and take what he could get for Holliday, even if it also required the tight-budgeted A’s to include $1.5 million to help offset what remains on Holliday’s $13.5 million salary in 2009.

“Beane went 0-for-3. Wallace is a DH-in-waiting, nothing more, and had only 35 RBIs this year in 94 games combined between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Louisville. Mortensen, like Wallace, has been rushed in the minors, where he is a combined 16-19 with a 4.31 ERA. Peterson is considered a “tweener” among scouts, which means he projects as a possible backup outfielder, not having the speed to be a center fielder on a contender nor the power to play a corner position on a daily basis.”

Ringolsby went on to note Street’s value to the Rockies (“he has regained his late-inning magic) and adds that Wallace “is not in the same area code as Gonzalez in any category beyond power.” The truth is that nobody really has a clue how this will all turn out in the end. We certainly know, however, how Mr. Ringolsby feels about it.

The Mets’ Latest Off-Field Distraction

Posted in Baseball at 12:01 am by

Hey, the New York Mets might be 4th in the NL East, but they’re probably in first place when it comes to ferociously ugly merchandise no one in their right mind would purchase. Much as I’d rather focus on Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat of Colorado — the visitors stranded 9  and went 0 for 7 with RISP against Mike Pelfrey (6.1 IP, 5 K’s, 3 BB, 7 hits) — a sextet of Mets were inexplicably chosen by the MLBPA Players Choice fashion line to design their own swag.  From MLB.com’s Tim Britton :

Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, J.J. Putz, Omir Santos and Gary Sheffield were on hand to model their own gear. John Maine, the sixth Met to take part in the project, was not available due to his shoulder injury.

Murphy built off his Irish heritage by infusing the Mets’ classic road look with both the color green and a logo of a clover over his signature.

Parnell went with “earth tones” — brown with camouflage lettering — to give his merchandise an outdoors look that is big in his native North Carolina.

Putz strove for a patriotic feel, going with a camouflage jersey with red, white and blue lettering. Putz also produced an elaborate T-shirt design with his name in gothic letters above two eagles and a home plate bearing the Mets’ interlocking “NY” logo.

Santos paid homage to his native country with a Mets logo that integrated the Puerto Rican flag in the background. His T-shirt consisted of a big picture of Santos in catching gear.

Parnell and Putz’ designs sound terrific — if you’d like this place to supply your wardrobe. But best of luck to the MLBPA, who must presume the average NYC baseball fan to have a fashion aesthetic formed by years of shopping at  Stuckey’s. Let’s hope there aren’t any funds for retired players in need riding on this.

07.28.09

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kenmore Square’s Professor Of Eugenics

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science, We Aren't The World at 6:35 pm by

It might be very fair to say that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona would prefer their (previously) rubber armed starter simply STFU, as there’s a world of difference between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka over the toll taken by last spring’s World Baseball Classic, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speir explains with ample translation from this interview.

œIf I™m forced to continue to train in this environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan, Matsuzaka is quoted as saying in the article, which was written by Taeko Yoshii. œThe only reason why I managed to win games during the first and second years (in the U.S.) was because I used the savings of the shoulder I built up in Japan. Since I came to the Major Leagues, I couldn’t train in my own way, so now I’ve lost all those savings.

Matsuzaka still laments the fact that the Sox do not permit him to practice nagekomi, or marathon throwing sessions. The pitcher believes that such between-starts work increases arm strength and the touch for breaking pitches. The article suggests that Matsuzaka exhausted his shoulder in the WBC because the Sox would not permit him to practice nagekomi in his build-up to the tournament.

In the story, Matsuzaka articulates his belief that people of different ethnic, racial, and/or national origin have physiological traits that require distinct training programs. When he followed the same routines as his American-born teammates “ which included more weight work than in Japan, but less throwing “ the right-hander concluded that he was not realizing the same results. (It is worth noting that such perspectives about physiological difference and nationality, race and ethnicity, which are often treated as taboo in the U.S. due to their overtones of eugenics, are more common in Japan.)

The pitcher cited the history of Japanese starters whose careers have endured steep declines (Hideo Nomo and Kaz Ishii come to mind) — often accompanied by injuries — after just a couple of years of effectiveness in the U.S. Because of such examples, Matsuzaka said that he is emboldened about the need to return to the training techniques with which he grew up.

œUntil now, many Japanese players have joined the majors, but they usually only lasted for two or three years. I realized from my own experience that this was not due to their individual abilities but because of the difference in training methods, Matsuzaka told Yoshii. œIf someone doesn™t act, the way people think in the Majors would never be changed. I want them to understand this, not only for my sake, but for the sake of future Japanese players in the Major Leagues¦”

Responding to Dice-K’s charges, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell took to the WEEI airwaves today, arguing, “we’ve got a $103 million investment in a guy that we’ve got to protect.” From the Boston Globe’s David Lefort :

“We have the utmost respect for the baseball norms and cultures that the Japanese baseball league has,” Farrell said. “We not only respect them but we acknowledged them at the time of signing Daisuke. When he came over, no changes were recommended. No changes were mandated by any means. The adjustments in throwing have been in response to the challenges that Daisuke’s faced here. …

“We know that there was a pretty substantial amount of fatigue in the second half of ’07 that we had to give him a breather at the time, largely in part because of the differences in travel, differences in competition, differences in strike zone, a number of the on-field challenges that he faced. So any of the adjustments that we’ve encountered have been in response to how he’s adapted to the rigors of the schedule and the competition here.”

Shaq On Monday Night RAW : So Much Effort, Just To Make Kevin Nash Jealous

Posted in Basketball, Professional Wrestling at 4:15 pm by

Hey, as long as Nash and The Big Show are still breathing, Shaquille O’Neal will never be the laziest big man to set foot in the squared circle. “Tonight was all about sitting back and letting the crazy wash over you,” observed Cavs The Blog’s John Krolik, “like you™re dealing with a pack of separatist wolverines with a firehose.”   Needless to say, Mr. Krolik wasn’t attending the Stellastarr* show at the Parish.

Shaq comes out and says œMy new teammate LeBron James says hi. Hearty boos. So the elephant in the room has been discussed, I suppose.

-Chris Jericho, who at this point of his career has a œI am way, way too smart to still be a professional wrestler, but I™m just going to roll with it, thing going, comes out in a blazer and starts telling Shaq that Shaq should respect him. Shaq responds by calling Jericho œChristina. Max money, the Cavs are paying.

-Chris Jericho has œThe Big Show, who™s Shaq™s height but somehow has like 150 pounds on him, come out and get into a stare-down with Shaq. I must say, at this point I was happy about how in-shape Shaq looks.

-Shaq challenges Big Show to a fight. Big Show backs out, saying that he™d hurt Shaq but doesn™t want to have to deal with the wraith of David Stern and his lawyers. The crowd boos like they™re supposed to, but I™m actually surprised that didn™t go over better in an arena full of Wizards fans. (I kid, I kid.)

Shaq™s 2nd promo of the night: None of the following is exaggerated. Shaq is in a room with a mini-hoop, then starts joking with a mute midget dressed like a Leprechaun named Hornswoggle, saying they œwent to high school together. He offers Hornswoggle something called œEnlyte Energy Strips, gives him a mini-ball and tells him to dunk on the mini-hoop, saying œ˜come on, Nate Robinson. Hornswoggle declines the energy strips, runs around the room, and gets rim-stuffed by the Nerf hoop. Shaq puts the energy strips on Hornswoggle™s chest. Someone says œThat was Shaqalicious. All of that actually happened.

Hallmark Wouldn’t Have This Out In Time For Week 6

Posted in Dogs, Free Expression, Gridiron at 1:15 pm by

There’s no truth to the rumor William Rhoden (or Dan Snyder) is sending these around. e-card image swiped from a Chris Mottram tweet

Chass : Minaya Justified In Calling Out Rubin

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 11:57 am by

“Adam Rubin said he had asked people from all 30 teams how one gets into the baseball business, but someone who has covered baseball for more than five years, as Rubin has, should not have to ask how. It has all been there in front of him.” So mused former NY Times baseball columnist Murray Chass (above), who observed yesterday’s circus at Citi Field and in taking a tact similar to that of Amazin Avenue, insists, “of course there™s a conflict of interest.”

I™m not suggesting that Rubin wrote the stories to undermine Bernazard, but whatever his intention was in speaking to Mets™ officials about working in baseball Rubin created a situation that raised questions about his motives. That™s certainly how Minaya saw it, and he was justified in thinking that way. Rubin was wrong for not understanding it.

I sent an e-mail to Leon Carter, the Daily News sports editor, asking if he thought Rubin was guilty of a conflict of interest. He did not reply. Instead I received the newspaper™s statement from the editor-in-chief, Martin Dunn.

œThis was a well-reported, well-researched, exclusive story, and it™s a shame that the Mets deemed fit to cast aspersions on our reporter instead of dealing with the issues at hand. We stand by Adam 1,000%.

The Mets, of course, did deal with the issues at hand. They fired Bernazard. But the Daily News editor-in-chief did not deal with the conflict of interest so I sent another e-mail on the conflict question but got no further reply.

In the meantime, Minaya and Jeff Wilpon came to the press box for news conference Part II. Minaya apologized not for what he said but for when he said it. That was not a proper forum for me to raise those issues, he said.

I disagree. That was the absolutely right forum. When else? When no one was paying attention any longer?

Though mocking Chass is a more popular sport around here than, well, Slamball, he’s not incorrect. There’s little to indicate that Rubin had a score to settle or has ever been particularly interested in making himself the center of attention. But in seeking career advice from Jeff Wilpon (who presumably suggested that Rubin come back to earth after he’s won a genetic lottery), the reporter left himself wide open to implications of impropriety. And while I realize this has nothing to do with Chass’ point, there must be a worse way of currying favor with the Wilpons than repeatedly exposing them to ridicule? It would seem Rubin is just as poor at sucking up to potential employers as Omar Minaya is at crisis management.

Hansen : I’m Not ESPN’s Puppet

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism, Sports Radio at 11:40 am by

Well, not at his former salary, anyway. WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen walked out on his afternoon radio gig last week with 103.3 FM, an ESPN affiliate. The Dallas Observer’s Randy Whitt reports Hansen was either unaware or chose to ignore a parent company edict that a civil suit against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger not be mentioned on air.

Last Wednesday Hansen somehow didn’t receive the directive from Bristol, Conn. and spent 20 minutes on his “Hour of Hansen” 6-7 p.m. show dissecting the ramifications before producers read him the office memo during a commercial break.

In other words, his departure was ultimately a combination of ESPN corporate censoring its reporting and ESPN local not relaying that censorship.

“The directive was the fuse, but the fact nobody told me was the match that lit it,” Hansen tells me. “I don’t want to be identified with being one of ESPN’s puppets. I refuse to be anybody’s puppet. Well, Channel 8 might get to pull my strings but ESPN can’t do that for $2,000 a month.”

Hansen ignored Roethlisberger the final half-hour of his show and afterward sent an email to ESPN program director Tom Lee announcing his resignation.

Of course, that was made easy by the fact that for the last six months Hansen worked without a contract.

“I agreed to a new deal with a serious pay cut,” Hansen says. “But for whatever reason they never sent it to me. This was just another example of how I was an afterthought over there. So I finally walked.”

Former Mets Prospect : Tony B. Fostered A Hate Fuck Environment

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 11:15 am by

25 year old LHP Alan Merricks was buried on the Brooklyn Cyclones depth chart, but despite being warned by a teammate that if he asked the New York Mets for his release, “they will punish you”, he made that very request of ‘Lil Wilpons skipper Pedro Lopez on June 12.  The events that followed seem very much in character, sadly, for deposed VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard.  From Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest :

Alex and two teammates had attended Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Orlando. Merricks, a huge Lakers fan, knew that if the game ended late he would break curfew and incur a $250 fine. After all, Orlando was two hours away from Port St. Lucie. But Merricks said breaking curfew, and the resulting fine, was œcommon practice with the Mets.  Merricks took full responsibility for the evening with the coaching staff, and his conversation with Pedro Lopez had been friendly.

Later that day, Merricks and the two teammates were brought into the office to have a conference call with Bernazard. Merricks knew he was wrong, but didn™t think it was an egregious offense. What happened totally blindsided him. He was told by Bernazard that œHe f***ed the New York Mets, now the New York Mets are going to f*** you! Merricks was suspended for 30 days without pay and fined $500.

During the next month, Merricks said he tried to reach out to the organization, but no phone calls were returned. Meanwhile, the other two players who went to the game were brought back after two weeks. Asked if he was surprised by this, Merricks said, œNo, because they just don™t seem to have it together administratively. Even after 30 days, he was unable to find out where the Mets wanted him to go.

He said that, although the conference call was his first experience with Bernazard, many of his teammates talked of fearing his presence. œEveryone is on egg shells because they don™t want to be on the receiving end of his tirades, Merricks said. Merricks was certain that Bernazard would make him an example and put him in baseball purgatory.

Merricks believes the root of the Mets™ developmental problems are Tony Bernazard and the culture of fear he has created. As Merricks explained the fact that some Binghamton players and coaches denied the Bernazard incident is more a product of them being œscared to death of the guy. Would you come out and say something?

Rubin To Minaya : You Can’t Handle The Truth

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 9:22 am by

|

Leaving aside the matter of last night’s 7-3 win over the Wild Card leading Rockies, the Amazins’ third straight, Newsday’s Wally Matthews calls the Mets, ” the only collection of individuals in all of major-league baseball who needed to conduct an internal investigation to discover what everyone else seemed to know – that Bernazard was a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered little cuss with a Napoleon complex and two last-place minor-league clubs on his resume.”  As we’ve know come to understand in the aftermath of a bizzare Citi Field press conference, said investigation had to be super thorough, as Omar Minaya couldn’t simply trust the veracity of reports filed by a guy who at one time or another might’ve wondered aloud about working for a baseball franchise. The journalist in question, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News (above), went toe to toe with Minaya during Monday’s session and later coaxed an apology out of the Mets GM that even Ron Darling opined should’ve been “more forthcoming”.  How’s it feel to be at the center of the most embarrassing Flushing Q&A since Vince Coleman offered a strained mea culpa for pelting children with M80′s, Mr. Rubin?

Everything I wrote about Tony Bernazard – bombshell stories that appeared in the pages of the Daily News over the last week – is accurate.

As I told the reporters who descended upon me after Minaya left the press conference, I have never, ever, asked Omar Minaya for a job. Or even career advice. Frankly, I’ve never been very close to him.

What I have done, and what Mets COO Jeff Wilpon acknowledged later yesterday, is ask Wilpon for “career advice.” My question: Is it even remotely feasible for a baseball writer to get into an administrative job with a team – any team – down the road and what would I need for that to be achieved?

Wilpon once invited me to his office at Citi Field for an advisory session. I never took him up on it.

I also appear on the Mets’ television station, and I asked Jeff Wilpon whom I should talk to at the network if I wanted to explore television as a part of my career. He told me to talk to SNY exec Curt Gowdy Jr., who told me basically that I was a bit “too flat.”

But again, none of this had any bearing whatsoever on any reporting that I have done while covering the Mets.

While not letting Bernazard off the hook, Amazin Avenue’s James K. is one of the few ready to raise the spectre of a conflict of interest, writing “asking for pointers on how to break into the baseball business seems like questionable behavior at best and a minor breach of ethics at worst.”

Would it be appropriate for a New York Times reporter interviewing Barack Obama to ask for tips on how to enter the world of politics?  How about a Wall Street Journal writer asking Warren Buffett how to start a successful financial services firm?  No, of course not.  Especially if the conversation is kept from the public and not documented in the published work. Such discussion could influence coverage of the subject (either positively or negatively) and give the impression to the public that treatment of the subject is biased.

By asking Wilpon for what amounts to business advice, and continuing to cover the New York Mets for the Daily News, Rubin is saying one thing and doing another.  He went on to say: “I don’t know how I’m going to cover the team now.”

The same statement could have been said after Rubin’s inquiries with Jeff Wilpon.