Bernie Madoff biographer Erin Arvedlund is already on record as claiming Fred Wilpon will be forced to sell the Mets after suffering losses to the tune of $700 million in the Mother Of All Ponzi Schemes. Mets VP David Howard, truly a credible person if you believe obstructed view seats are worth $55 apiece, addressed Ms. Avredlund’s claims earlier today on the Fox Business Channel. According to Howard, the Amazins are absolutely, positively not for sale, calling the club “a family jewel” (seriously). So that means we’re still on track for John Franco’s #31 being retired sometime in 2011. (video link culled from Seven Train Into Shea)
(Moore : doing the best he can — under no pressure whatsoever)
“Ask yourself: if you, in your own profession, made a mistake equivalent to trading for Yuniesky Betancourt, would you expect to be fired, or given five years of lucrative job security?” I think even Isiah Thomas and J.P. Ricciardi would answer “be fired” to a question posed by The Hardball Times’ Craig Calcaterra, reacting to today’s news that Kansas City will extend General Manager Dayton Moore’s contract for another 4 years. Royals Review’s KCDC1 — presumably used to living with low expecations, prefers not to protest David Glass’ vote of confidence, confessing, “I’m okay rooting for .500 seasons.”
I like his focus on building the farm system, and while this strategy has yet to bear fruit, it’s still early, and I think over time, the focus will inevitably pay dividends. His acquisitions at the Major League level have left something to be desired, obviously. All in all, there are better GM’s, and there are worse GM’s. It’d be nice if Kansas City would have one of the best, but I’m a fan, and I try not to let myself get too frustrated with the whole process.
[Veeck ... first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.]
I always liked White Sox owner Bill Veeck, Jr. He started his career planting the ivy in Wrigley Field and ended it on the South Side burning down his own infield on Disco Demolition night. He only owned losers and personified Chicago’s love of its own low-rent self-esteem. Another reason to like Bill Jr. is his literary career, which includes his autobiography, Veeck — as in Wreck, Thirty Tons a Day, and The Hustler’s Handbook “ all written for him by, excuse me, “with,” Ed Linn. The Hustler’s Handbook just got reissued, and reviewed (favorably), in The LA Times by George Ducker, but I think the best sales pitch for this book is Veeck’s own wisdom:
“The great portion of any ball game consists of the pitcher holding the ball or throwing it to the catcher … Anything that can somehow turn that frozen tableau into a scene fraught with drama and excitement has solved about 75 percent of your problems.”
Not only that, he understands the relationship of a team to its fans. Here he is on the paradox of early 1960s Mets supporters: “No other city is so confident of its own preeminence that it could afford to take such an open delight in its own bad taste.” Chicago Cubs fans of the present day, take note.
And quoted in an Amazon customer review by Steven Hellerstedt:
“Yogi is a completely manufactured product. He is a case study of this country’s unlimited ability to gull itself and be gulled…. It pleased the public to think that this odd-looking little man with the great natural ability had a knack for mouthing humorous truth with the sort of primitive peasant wisdom we rather expect from our sports heroes.”
On Leo Durocher and racism: “Leo himself is without any racial consciousness – or even unconsciousness. Leo looks on each human being with the purest of motives; i.e., what can this guy do to make Leo Durocher’s passage through life easier, more fun and more profitable?”
OK, while the Santa incident is urban myth, you can file the above Craigslist personals ad under “looking for love in all the wrong places” “too good to be true”. (jpg taken from Philebrity)
“Michigan players should WELCOME 8-10 hour Sundays of film study and weight lifting. After 3-9, need to get better, not whine.” So Tweeted collegiate sports reformer TheRealSkipBayless earlier today, the above thoughtful response coming on the heels of the University Of Michigan football program facing charges of NCAA violations. 2nd year coach Rich Rodriguez has been accused of violating guidelines regulating off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities, a charge the wildly unpopular former West Virginia educator vehemently denied earlier today. And by “vehemently”, I mean he was almost reduced to tears (for the second time in recent memory). From the Detroit News’ Angelique S. Changelis :
Rodriguez opened his regular game-week news conference Monday by addressing the allegations first presented in a Detroit Free Press article Sunday. Several former players, who spoke anonymously, said the Wolverines routinely violated the NCAA-mandated 20-hour practice rule.
Rodriguez defended strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis in his early remarks Monday.
“He has always complied with the rules, as has our entire staff,” Rodriguez said. “We know the rules and comply with the rules.”
Rodriguez became visibly emotional, grabbed both sides of the lectern, and looked down before speaking again.
“The thing that bothers me the most is the perception that we didn’t care for the student’s’ welfare,” Rodriguez said. “That is disheartening. To say that is misleading. … We complied by the rules.”
Newsday’s Campus Confidential blog quotes Rodriguez as saying of his accusers, “it was misleading. Treatments, study hall, other aspects don’t count…the players don’t] know the rules. They don’t know what counts and what doesn’t,” and indeed, it is difficult to keep track of arcane NCAA edicts while also maintaining a shrine to Lloyd Carr in one’s dorm room. But as Jon Heyman already put it so well, “if Rich Rodriguez cheated to go 3-9 , I nominate him for worst coach in college football history.”
St. Louis manager Tony Walnuts on Dave Duncan: ”It’s not personal. It’s business. Now get the fuck outta here.”
Joe Strauss of the Stl-Post Dispatch reports today some news that can only be seen as a silver lining, should it happen, to the North Side of Chicago. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan missed the Astros opener last Tuesday for “personal business,” and may move on from St. Louis. Duncan has been with Cards mgr Tony La Russa since Tony Walnuts’ 1983 White Sox. While the two have succeeded where ever they’ve gone, Duncan has not been happy with Card GM John Mozeliak’s keeping the Cards minor league pitchers outside the loop of Duncan and his staff up top. There’s also the issue of Chris Duncan’s treatment by the STL media and fans over his work last year, which was brutal. Although Chris D had a great 2006 (the Cards last postseason year), 2007-2008 saw a drop in production that Cardinals fans and management did not forgive. It only came out post-season that Chris Duncan played 2007 with a double-hernia, and currently, other ailments.
Cardinal management has a history of covering up injuries, and one wonders, had the media been informed, if Chris Duncan would have been derided, then traded, so cavalierly? Would the fans have piled on? All of which might make you think, “that’s baseball, deal with it.” But, when the guy has delivered, and his dad is a key asset to your playoff bids (if one can go by the numbers found here), who can actually turn a John Smoltz around at this point in his career, you might want to come clean for once or simply let reporters know off the record out of simple personal loyalty to the Duncans. Chris Duncan has already been released by Boston. Then Tony La Genius offered a heartwarming embrace of Dave Duncan. “I’ve told him before that our personal relationship never stands in the way of the professional,” La Russa said. “Nothing has changed, and nothing will change about that.”
Well, certainly Chris Duncan found that out. La Russa has a reputation (around here anyway) for pushing injured players into playing when they shouldn’t. Indeed, Cardinal casualty Scott Rolen currently warms the Reds bench due to post-concussion syndrome. Tony Walnuts’ comments below on Chris Duncan appear as willfully ignorant as his comments after Jose Canseco outted Mark McGwire’s steroid use (basically, HUH!?!? On my team?!?!?). That said, the Cardinals bad news is good for the Cubs. Hopefully Dave Duncan is eyeing an AL team. Who knows, maybe Duncan spent his first missed game in decades in Chicago to discuss the team’s new ownership and future. Joe Strauss reports the following:
After blasting 22 home runs in 280 at-bats in 2006, Duncan’s breakout start to 2007 was sabotaged by a double hernia that neither player nor team confirmed until the younger Duncan submitted to surgery that September.
The conspiracy of silence repeated itself last season when a herniated cervical disc left Duncan with excruciating pain in his neck and numbness in his right arm and hand. He required surgery to replace the defective disc with a prosthetic, a first-of-a-kind procedure on an American professional athlete.
When Duncan’s performance began to erode again this season, the club never acknowledged a physical issue.
However, Duncan was scheduled to leave the club in Houston to be examined by his St. Louis surgeon, Dr. Dan Riew, the day after learning of the trade. (Dave Duncan had pushed for the exam.) Fearing what an examination might reveal, the younger Duncan refused to attend the appointment.
Dave Duncan reacted harshly upon learning of the trade the night of July 21. While reporters were shooed from the Minute Maid Park visiting clubhouse, Duncan lashed out at the team’s training staff in front of players for its handling of his son.
Reminded that Chris consistently denied his injuries when queried by reporters, Duncan insisted, “At some point the club should protect those who don’t protect themselves. Chris didn’t protect himself. And no one else protected him either.”
La Russa says his understanding of Chris’ hernia and cervical condition was less than total.
“Until the end I didn’t know the pain he was in,” La Russa said. “I would have never played him if I thought the hernia would become a double hernia or if he was having trouble sleeping at night. (Chris) shares that (responsibility). But by doing that, my respect is magnified for him. He thought, ‘If I could walk, I’m going to go out there.’”
If you owned a Minneapolis sports bar, there’s all sorts of local sports memorabilia you’d be keen to display ; Fran Tarkenton’s tax returns. Restraining orders taken out against Kirby Puckett. The incriminating photographs of Kevin McHale that are currently in Danny Ainge’s safe. In lieu of those collectables, however, one enterprising Mankato tavern proprietor struck gold this week, winning a $750 auction to gain possession of Onterrio Smith’s Whizzinator. From the Star-Tribune’s Michael Rand :
Buster’s owner Matt Little couldn’t be in attendance for the auction, but he sent an agent to make the purchase for him. He said he wouldn’t have bought it “if the price had been 10 grand,” but overall his motivation was fairly simple.
“We’re a sports bar, and I’m a sports collector,” Little said. “I’d love to have the Original Whizzinator on display. … I’m going to use it.”
Use it right now? Little laughed.
“It’s out in the truck,” he said. “I’d feel a little weird if I had it in my hand right now.”
But soon, the Whizzinator will be out in the open at Buster’s and will be featured prominently in some of the bar’s rather risque promotions. One would imagine it will attract curiosity seekers — particularly next summer during Vikings training camp in Mankato.
“We’re going to try to get Onterrio down here,” Little said. “There might be some sentimental value. He might want to come down to see it.”
Earlier this year, Selena Roberts quoted anonymous former teammates of Alex Rodriguez who alleged the former Rangers shortstop made a practice of tipping pitches to opposing hitters during blowouts, and at least one observer has suggested former A’s SS Miguel Tejada received such assistance. In yesterday’s New York Times, David Waldstein revealed Tejada was suspected of the same thing, leading to a confrontation in the Oakland clubhouse during July of 2001.
Manager Art Howe, contrary to his laissez-faire style, was forced to address the issue. He spoke first on Tejada™s behalf, trying to quell the outrage. Then Jason Giambi, the unequivocal leader and biggest star on the team, laid out the players™ concerns.
œIt really shocked me to the point of disbelief, said Tim Hudson, then a young pitching star for the Athletics. œBut I figured, if that™s an issue where we need to clear the air a bit, then we need to clear the air a little bit.
œI think Ron Gant calmed it down before it snowballed into anything big, said Frank Menechino, an A’s infielder at the time, and now the hitting instructor for the Class AA Trenton Thunder. œLike: ˜Hey, man, we can™t worry about what the other teams are doing in this league. But we can™t pull the Dominican guys out of our team and suspect them of anything until we catch them.™ He basically calmed everything down. Everything was fine after that. I seriously can™t prove, say, yes or no, that guys were doing it. But who knows?
Hudson called Tejada, a six-time All-Star, œa great teammate and said he still found it impossible to believe that he would help the opposition.
What first raised suspicion among the 2001 A™s was an early May series in Toronto. Tejada and Blue Jays third baseman Tony Batista, friends from the Dominican Republic, each put up terrific numbers. In the three-game series, Batista went 6 for 13 with a home run and 5 runs batted in, and Tejada was 4 for 10 with 9 R.B.I., including a home run in each game.
More significant in the eyes of some of the players was an incident in the second game of the series. Tejada did not get to an easy ground ball Batista hit off reliever Mark Guthrie with the Athletics leading, 8-2. When the inning was over, A™s players fumed on the bench.
Tejada, now 35, said his teammates were skeptical because Batista dropped a foul pop-up he hit in the previous game.
œI would never do that, Tejada said. œI want to win. If my brother was on the other team, I would never help him.
Tejada, taking the day off with Houston visiting Arizona this afternoon, is obviously innocent until proven guilty. If you’re keeping score, however, this is the 3rd major ethical lapse Miggy’s been charged with, which should at the very least, give Milo Hamilton pause the next time he exhorts Astros fans to root for “the good guys”.
…and he’s not named Joe Buck. “”If millionaires and billionaires can’t figure out a way to split their pie,” mused surrogate Joe The Plumber / steamfitter Joseph Barzelli to the Post’s Mike Vaccaro, “then they aren’t worth my time.” To wit, Mr. Barzelli, a lifelong NY (baseball) Giants and Mets fan, bailed on the Grand Old Game following the 1994 lockout.
On Sept. 1, 1994 — 15 years ago this Tuesday — he said goodbye. To all of it. For good. Forever. And has kept his word. He hasn’t followed an inning since.
“Do I miss it?” he asks. “I miss the game I remember. But I don’t think that game has existed for a long time.”
Fans still seethed, swore they would stay away. In 1995, they did, in droves. They trickled back in ’96, and a little more in ’97, and by the summer of 1998 players were knocking down buildings with baseballs, and the Yankees were winning 125 games, and attendance actually shattered pre-strike records. Fifteen years pass in the blink of an eye, and a whole generation of fans has grown up knowing nothing but labor peace in baseball. Maybe everyone learned a lesson. Maybe it’s simply an aberration. Maybe the apocalypse is still out there. There are things nobody knows.
We know this: An awful lot of the people who swore off baseball 15 years ago eventually swore off their swear-off. They came back for more. They come back for more. Joseph Barzelli knows he probably isn’t the only one who held fast to his convictions, though he doesn’t run into many fellow protesters. He lives in Arizona now. In a world of constant news cycles, he knows about baseball what he hears by osmosis. It’s like breathing second-hand smoke. You can’t avoid all of it.
“I don’t think what I did was noble,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be. But I said if they broke my heart again, I’d break theirs right back. I’d like to think baseball misses me. But I know better than that.”
I recall hearing proclamations similar to Barzelli’s at the time and with all due respect to a guy who probably didn’t ask Vacarro to plaster his name all over the sports section, this is booshit. If you believe the last 15 years of Major League Baseball to be tainted and/or without merit, you’re certainly entitled to your screwy opinion. But there’s much more to the game than The Used Car Salesman’s Unprecedented Era Of
Drug Abuse Prosperity ; that 25 inning classic between Texas and Boston College this past June was hardly a battle between billionaires and millionaires. Has Barzelli’s boycott of baseball extended to other professional sports that have experienced lengthy work stoppages? It might’ve been a worthwhile question, but I can’t for the life of me understand why Vacarro thought this was an interesting way to commemorate the anniversary of one of MLB’s biggest black eyes. Presumably Felipe Alou and Don Mattingly were too busy to return his phone calls.
White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen watched his club collect a solitary base hit during Saturday afternoon’s 10-0 drubbing at the Nu Stadium, a scenario that the unflinchingly self-critical manager declaring afterwards, “I™m the one who will take the blame, 100 percent, there™s no doubt.” Which is a hell of a way to let Jose Contreras (3.1 IP, 9 hits, 6 earned runs) off the hook. From the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzalez :
œI™m embarrassed,” Guillen said. “And everybody in that room should be embarrassed. If they™re not embarrassed, they got the wrong job or they™re stealing money from baseball. I feel like I™m stealing the money from (chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf). And that™s a shame. When you got more errors than hits, you better look yourself in the mirror and start second-guessing yourself. But I™m second-guessing myself right now, making the wrong lineup every day. I second-guess myself bringing in the wrong guys to pitch. Second-guess myself like we work so hard to put this team together, all the way from spring training and when I look on the field … ”
Guillen was just warming up.
“I was looking at the Little League game this morning, and they were playing better than we did. It was more fun. It gets to the point where you are a veteran player and I have a lot of respect for them, and you appreciate what they do for you in the past, but this is not major league baseball, sorry.
I™m not a loser or a negative guy, but I™m really realistic. That™s my problem in the past when I™m so realistic and people get mad at me and they don™t like the way I do stuff or the way I talk. Well, if you don™t want me to talk that way, (bleeping) play better.
œAnd I™m getting paid a lot of money to manage this club and I truly believe this “ I™m stealing money from Jerry Reinsdorf right now. I come here, make the lineup, go to sleep and watch (bleeping) Little League games.