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.