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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.