08.31.09

Wilpon Inc. Bulldog : Bernie Book Author’s Wrong, Wrong Wrong

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 8:17 pm by

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)

KC’s Dayton Moore : Richly Rewarded/Tolerated For Not Being Allard Baird

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 5:26 pm by

(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 yearsRoyals 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.

The Saul Bellow of Baseball is Back in Print

Posted in Baseball at 2:20 pm by

http://i.cdn.turner.com/sivault/si_online/covers/images/1976/0315_large.jpg

[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?”

Do You Like Long Walks In The Park (& Thowing Snowballs At Santa Claus)?

Posted in Gridiron, History's Great Hook-Ups at 1:45 pm by

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)

There Is Crying In College Football : No One Cares More About (Overworked) Student-Athletes Than Rich Rodriguez

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 11:55 am by

“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.”

Dave Duncan’s Mystery Tuesday, Hopefully Spent Outside the NL Central

Posted in Baseball at 10:40 am by

http://www.cantstopthebleeding.com/img/Tony+Sirico.jpg

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.’”

The Most Expensive Dildo In Minnesota (That Doesn’t Wear No. 4)

Posted in Gridiron, The Marketplace at 2:07 am by

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.”

08.30.09

Miggy : I’m No Big Tipper

Posted in Baseball at 5:36 pm by

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”.

NY Post Finds A Man Uninterested In Baseball…

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 4:07 pm by

…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.

08.29.09

Shy, Retiring Ozzie G. : I’m A Thief

Posted in Baseball at 5:57 pm by

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.

WaPo’s Reid : MIke Sellers Is No Traitor…

Posted in Gridiron at 5:47 pm by

…he’s just a slob!  “I have a big problem journalistically with essentially questioning someone’s patriotism in a report without giving the person a chance to respond,” protests the Washington Post’s Jason Reid, criticizing an unattributed AP item that blasted Redskins FB Mike Sellers for throwing the American flag to the ground during pregame introductions before last night’s New England/Washington exhibition game.

I did not realize this occurred. Even if I had witnessed Sellers (above) drop the flag, I would not have made that a big deal about it because I have spoken with the man repeatedly, which is my job as a beat reporter, and am familiar with his background. Sellers’s father was a career military man, and I just don’t get the sense he would intentionally do something to degrade the flag.

“It’s been brought to my attention, carrying the flag out yesterday, that I didn’t put it in the proper spot after carrying it out. I meant no disrespect,” Sellers said. “My father retired [from the military] 30 some years almost, I grew up as an Army brat, I know the conduct when it comes to the flag and I made a mistake by setting it down the way I did and I’d like to apologize if I offended anybody out there.

“I was asked to bring it out last minute, didn’t know who to give it to, got hyped up, and put the flag down. Like I said, if I offended anyone, I apologize. That’s not me. I grew up in a military background. I know what it is to respect the flag, and I apologize. It was in the heat of the moment.”

It all seems like a big misunderstanding, but it doesn’t help matters that Bill Belichick can’t give a straight answer about whether or not the flag will be good to go in Week One.

08.28.09

Bernie Book Author : WIlpon Lost $700 Million, Mets Sale Pending

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 10:52 pm by

On an afternoon in which the Amazingly Disableds squandered a genuinely fine effort from starter Pat Misch, the Angels took on more than $20 million in salary in the form of ex-Met / Al Leiter nemesis Scott Kazmir (above)  — exactly the sort of late season move we once came to expect when New York’s 2nd richest baseball club was, well, rich. According to author Erin Arvedlund, whose forthcoming Bernie Maddoff tome, “Too Good To Be True” will presumably not be offered for sale at the Mets Team Store, Fred Wilpon was fleeced to the tune of $700 million, making his eventual sale of the Mets a foregone conclusion.  From Reuters’ Ben Klayman :

Arvedlund said she does not know the terms of the Wilpons’ bank loans but said the losses are steep enough that a sale of the baseball team is certain.

“It’s qualified by when,” she said. “It’s possible they would have to sell by next year.” Fred Wilpon was among thousands of investors defrauded by Madoff, himself a Mets fan.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March to running the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street’s history, which investigators said bilked investors out of $13 billion to $21 billion.

Madoff is serving 150 years in a federal  prison in North Carolina.

The team said Arvedlund has no knowledge of the baseball team or its finances and repeated previous statements that the Mets are not for sale. “Her speculation that the Mets — or any part of the team — is for sale is completely false and is irresponsible,” the team said.

A team spokesman told MarketWatch that Arvedlund’s loss projection is inaccurate.

Let’s hope said spokesperson isn’t merely playing damage control.  As much as I’ve criticized Fred and Jeff Wilpon this season, all you have to do is look at the state of midtown Manhattan’s basketball teams — men’s and women’s —- to realize things could actually be much worse if the frontman of the Straight Shot added the Mets to his toychest.

Waldman’s “Lovely Conversation” WIth A.J. Burnett

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 12:54 pm by

“We’re all human. We all have feelings,” WCBS’ Suzyn Waldman tells the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman. “And no one likes being ripped.”  Ms. Waldman surely knows of which she speaks, as does, presumably, Yankee hurler A.J. Burnett, yesterday’s 12K performance aside,  a target of recent Waldman criticism.

Sunday, in the fifth inning of the Yankees-Red Sox radiocast, Waldman had indignantly wondered why Posada was even being “brought into the equation.” Then she hammered Burnett.

“(Burnett) stunk up the joint (Saturday, giving up nine runs in Boston’s 14-1 win),” Waldman said. “He should just stand up and take it like Andy Pettitte (would have).”

Thursday, before Burnett (with Jose Molina catching) took the mound against Texas, someone asked Waldman if her Tuesday conversation with Burnett had anything to do with what she had said about him on the radio.

“Yes it did,” Waldman answered. “We had a lovely conversation. … A lot of times players don’t realize how their actions look on the field. I just think he was emotional about his failures. I don’t think A.J. meant to show anybody up.”

“If it’s something that I’ve said that gets a player upset, then I will tell him why I said it. But I can’t do my job thinking that if I say something someone is going to get upset with me. I can’t do that,” Waldman said. “Everybody’s got opinions. I know what a lot of people think, but I’m really not a (Yankees) cheerleader.”

“Everybody likes telling these guys bad news. Somebody’s wife hears it. Or somebody’s cousin reads it. Most of the time it comes back (to the player) incorrectly,” Waldman said. “Usually, it’s not what you said. That happens all the time.”

No Smearing in the Press Box IV: Is Michael S. Schmidt Baseball’s Judith Miller?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 8:45 am by

[This is what a working reporter looks like ...].

Thanks to Jason Cohen for fwd’ing Maury Brown’s analysis of the recent Federal ruling forcing the government to return illegally confiscated test results of Major League Baseball players.  Unlike most of us, Brown read the whole thing.  Thanks to him, we know it contains some news regarding CSTB’s favorite cub reporter, Michael Schmidt of The New York Times.  Brown writes:

As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority in yesterday™s ruling, the leaking of names from documents that were under court seal, has done harm to baseball™s drug testing policy.

“The risk to the players associated with disclosure, and with that the ability of the Players Association to obtain voluntary compliance with drug testing from its members in the future, is very high. Indeed, some players appear to have already suffered this very harm as a result of the government™s seizure.”

The ruling then points a direct finger at The New York Times, citing examples:

See, e.g., Michael S. Schmidt, Ortiz and Ramirez Said to Be on 2003 Doping List, N.Y. Times, July 31, 2009, at A1; Michael S. Schmidt, Sosa Is Said to Have Tested Positive in 2003, N.Y. Times, June 17, 2009, at B11; Michael S. Schmidt, Rodriguez Said to Test Positive in 2003, N.Y. Times, February 8, 2009¦

At the heart of Schmidt and Roberts™ stories are one or more individuals (Schmidt cited unnamed lawyers) that had access to the œlist created by a federal investigator believed to be Novitzky (the list was created from an illegally seized spreadsheet in a mountain of other documents in what has been labeled the œTracey directory). Those individuals will now become the focus, as opposed to the players. As Donald Fehr and Michael Weiner said in a joint statement after the Ninth™s ruling, œAnyone who leaks information purporting to contain those 2003 test results is committing a crime.

Me, I don’t disagree that Schmidt might be on the receiving end of some legal ballistics, not that I want reporters to go through that. Confidential sourcing is vital to whistle blowing stories that make very positive differences in people’s lives.  That said, Schmidt’s stories appear to be nothing more than a mix of amoral ambition (his) and an embittered, failed prosecution (the Novitzky team, facing an Obama future).   If they go after Schmidt, he’ll be elevated to a status of 1st Amendment freedom fighter, obscuring something else:  The New York Times can’t back up anything he has said regarding Sosa or Ramirez.  That is, a reporters rights story will overshadow his incompetence.  The players union disputes Schmidt’s 104 list at the heart of his stories.  Schmidt himself stated he has never seen any testing or evidence.  Players Association lawyer Elliot Peters now states that the 104 list is nothing but a spread-sheet concocted by Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky himself.  If Novitzky created it, it’s hard to see how the players union, informants at the testing labs, or any “lawyers” (as per Schmidt), could have leaked “the list,” except the people who created it.  As stated here several times, Schmidt looks to have been played by his sources and their agenda.  I will also ask again:  why were the 2009 names “ Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez “ all Latino? Why did each leak happen after notable, and typically arrogant (or shall we say, “uppity”)  behavior by Rodriguez, Sosa, and Ramirez? Right now, it looks like someone with some real issues was out to get these guys.

Jason and I were e-mailing about the Scooter Libby/Judith Miller parallel to this (in how the gov’t fed Miller stories to their own advantage to appear in The Times) as well as the Howell Raines/Jayson Blair factor of a young reporter pushed up the ladder too fast.  While I don’t think Schmidt in any way sought to deceive like Blair, it’s just too familiar a scenario coming from the NY Times.  Schmidt’s done real damage to people’s careers here.  Hopefully any civil suits coming will be paid by the Times, as I doubt he has the resources to pay off Sosa, Ortiz, and Ramirez.  Still, once Judith Miller did her jail stretch, the Times went through her stories and bounced her.  After Schmidt based so much of his reporting on Novitzky’s 104 “dirty names” spread sheet, I hope he gets the same thorough review.

Btw, my offer to The New York Times still stands:  Out any member of the 2005 “world champion” White Sox as a steroid user, and all is forgiven.

08.27.09

Gators : Godly Tebow Wants No Part Of Your (Burning) Bush League Promotion

Posted in Baseball, Gridiron, Religion at 8:13 pm by

It’s sometimes hard to figure out where the blurry lines between public service, celebrity and commerce can and cannot cross, so please, consider this a tutorial.  Florida QB / reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow can enhance his reputation (and future earning power) with acts of missionary goodness ;  if a Florida State League ballclub wishes to sell an extra few dozen tickets while giggling at the Christ-like signal caller, that’s a big no-no.   From The Palm Beach Post’s Tim Volin :

The Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League tried to hold a œWhat would Tim Tebow do? promotion at the ballpark last night against the St. Lucie Mets, poking a little fun at the whole Tebow phenomenon. Fans were going to be given promise rings, the first pitch was supposed to be a jump pass and a local man named Tim Tebo was going to walk on water, among other gags.

Except the Gators quickly jumped in and nixed the idea. According to the Fort Myers News-Press, Florida compliance director Jamie McCloskey sent the Miracle a cease and desist letter yesterday morning demanding that the Miracle remove any and all references to Tebow from their promotion.

Instead, the promotion was changed to œWhat would T.T. do? and fans that showed up in Gator gear were still entered into a drawing to win four tickets to the Florida-Arkansas game in October. Sadly, Tebo never showed up to perform his miracle.

On the contrary, Mr. Volin, simply by remaining a virgin on the campus of a large public university, I’d argue Tebow is performing a miracle every single day.

Never Before Has A Backup QB’s Signing Been So Celebrated…

Posted in Dogs, Gridiron, Modern Art at 2:57 pm by

…but that’s not necessarily a good thing (image swiped from The 700 Level) This does, however, make me wish someone in Minneapolis was working on a Favre mural.

Lennon : The 2009 Mets Are Amazingly Dependent On Cortisone

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 1:32 pm by

(above : page one of Ray Ramirez’ operations manual)

WIth a 4-1 lead over Florida in the top of the 4th at a very quiet Landshark Stadium, the Mets hope to snap a 5-game losing streak behind a star-studded lineup featuring Wilson Valdez, Anderson Hernandez, Corey Sullivan and Tim Redding. The club’s current medical and financial woes are best summed up by Metstradamus, who suggests “in a cost cutting move, Oliver Perez and Johan Santana will perform their respective surgeries on each other.” As for what brought us to this point, in stark contrast to Maury Brown’s implications the Mets are a bunch of malingerers, Newsday’s David Lennon alleges “while there has always been a clubhouse code – one that outlines the difference between ‘hurt’ and ‘injured’ – the Mets pushed that envelope with a dizzying number of cortisone injections and delayed trips to the disabled list.”

Carlos Delgado was basically a ticking bomb with the torn labrum inside his right hip. As soon as it went for good, he was done. But when that happened, others pushed to stay on their feet to fill that void.

Multiple sources said Jose Reyes had been playing with a slight tear of his right hamstring tendon, not simply tendinitis behind his right knee. So with the reliance on his legs, the Mets were kidding themselves trying to get him back without a prolonged period of rest.

When the tendon ultimately ripped for good June 3, weeks after he was placed on the DL, not even cortisone shots could keep him on his rehab schedule. Now he is likely headed for what the team believes is “minor” surgery to fix the problem when the season is over.

It was a similar scenario with Carlos Beltran, who tried to play through a bone bruise just below his right knee, again with the help of cortisone shots. Two sources said Beltran was unhappy with how the injury was handled, but when asked about agreeing to the shots, Beltran said it was he who accepted the risk.

So did J.J. Putz, who knew a shot was the only way he could try to pitch with a bone spur in his right elbow that the Mariners’ medical staff discovered at the end of last season. Oddly, the Seattle doctor told Putz there was no need for surgery, then he was traded to the Mets roughly two months later.

John Maine, in rehab limbo in Port St. Lucie, had three cortisone shots in the back of the shoulder before the Mets chose simply to rest him.

“While that cortisone was in there, I was great,” Putz said. “But cortisone is nothing but a Band-Aid anyway. It masks the problem. That’s all it really is…if you’re getting cortisone to cover up a torn ligament, or a slightly torn ligament, then yeah, it can get worse, because you don’t feel the stress.”

Bozich Warns Public Figure On The Travails Of Being A Public Figure

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 11:40 am by

It probably won’t make Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino feel any better this morning to contemplate how much life would suck if he were Billy Gillispie, but after an angry press conference to address videotaped allegations made by accused extortionist Karen Sypher, at least one local columnist is urging Pitino to take a fistful of calm-the-fuck-down pills.  “The next time that news airs about the Pitino-Karen Sypher encounter, Pitino and his family members should change the channel quicker than the coach changes point guards. If he finds his blood pressure escalating when he begins reading stories in the paper similar to this column, flip to a story about his beloved New York Yankees,” declares the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich, gently reminding Pitino that while this sex scandal might not be as crucial as “the economy”, living under scrutiny is part of the job description.

Don’t even consider trolling for stories or message boards on the Internet. It’s not pretty out there. Sexual affairs, especially ones involving extortion, abortion and intercourse in a restaurant, draw the public’s interest. It’s not the most admirable characteristic of the news culture, but it’s reality.

Pitino’s name sells tickets, books and seats at motivational seminars. He is one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball. He should not be surprised that his name sells scandal, too, especially after he behaved so recklessly by having sex with Sypher at Porcini restaurant.

Pitino should be as upset with himself as he is at the coverage. Fame comes with responsibilities as well as rewards. It also comes with a public backlash to irresponsible behavior. The backlash is only beginning. Pitino’s unhappiness with the coverage of this story, even if some of it is justified, will not change that.

What Pitino accomplished Wednesday was to recycle the story into another news cycle. He got everybody talking about something that he doesn’t want anybody talking about. Air ball. The story was subsiding nationally. Fresh Pitino sound bites gave it energy.

If Pitino’s intent was to overshadow the midday airing of police interrogation tapes of Sypher, he miscalculated. He created more uncertainty about his ability to survive the ordeal.

While I don’t think Pitino’s presser qualifies as a public meltdown, I also doubt it was necessary for the coach to note the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy.  Are we meant to believe news coverage of Sypher’s charges was somehow disrespectful to Kennedy’s memory?   If, by chance, the Cardinals make it to the Final Four this season, will Pitino be quick to turn down an interview with “60 Minutes” or ESPN’s “Sunday Conversation” because, y’know, there are more important things in the world?

Feds Busted, Must Return Steroid Test Results to Players Union

Posted in Baseball, Get Out Of Jail at 10:14 am by

http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2008/0327/espn_a_jnovitsky_300.jpg

[Bush's steroid investigator, Jeff Novitzky:  the man who can't prove Barry Bonds used steroids.]

[Thanks to David Williams for the link.] While it’s nowhere near as serious as torture investigations, Katrina, or invading countries on false pretenses, it’s nice to see one aspect of Bush Era overreach undone.  In this case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Federal Gov’t to return test results confiscated illegally from the players union.  The tests, once thought to name 104 players for banned steroid use, were confiscated by the government before they could be destroyed in 2003, as players were promised they would be.  Since falling into gov’t hands, the list has been the basis of steroid stories naming ballplayers who agreed to be tested anonymously. That same list  is now strongly disputed by the union itself for two reasons, 1) the players union says substantially fewer than 104 players tested positive, and 2) that the results can even be called “positive,” since at least 13 players tested “inconclusive,” as David Ortiz did.  8 others tested positive for then-legal supplements, and the rest “ who knows?  Still, the myth of 104 positive tests is what the NY TIMES Michael Schmidt based his now unsupportable accusations on against David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, and Manny Ramirez as confirmed users of banned substances in 2003.  The NY TIMES can’t confirm what they tested for “ but “outted” the players using information from credibility challenged prosecutors anyway.   The Silicon Valley Mercury News’ Howard Mintz reports the following on yesterday’s decision:

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s ruling marked the latest legal twist in a long-running court fight over baseball’s drug-testing program. The 9th Circuit slammed Justice Department officials for being overzealous, noting that they seized records that went well beyond 10 major league players linked to BALCO, including testing data from hundreds of baseball players and athletes from 13 other sports.

“This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a 9-2 decision by a special 11-judge 9th Circuit panel.

Jack Gillund, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and evaluating their options, which now appear limited to appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or dropping the issue.

Attorneys for the players praised the ruling but expressed concern that the damage has already been done to some players whose names have been publicly linked to the list.

“The unfortunate thing is that people illegally leaked information that was unconstitutionally seized,” said San Francisco attorney Elliot Peters, who represents the Major League Baseball Players Association. “People’s reputations have been damaged because of that.”

The 9th Circuit ruling came in a government appeal of three lower-court rulings that also barred the use of the testing results, which involved the league’s 2003 anonymous testing program to determine the extent of steroid use in baseball. Federal investigators seized the drug-testing records in 2004 in connection with the probe into the Burlingame-based BALCO lab.

08.26.09

Dibble : Restricting His Tweets To A Privileged Few

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports TV, The Internet at 9:32 pm by

Having already run afoul of Washington’s coaching staff during his brief tenure as Nats color commentator, MASN’s Rob Dibble (above) is apparently a boor in multiple mediums. Nationals blogger Miss Chatter describes herself as “a bit taken aback at Dibble™s liberal use of the ‘block’ feature” on Twitter.

WHAT?! Ok, so this is weird. I consider myself a pretty amicable person who gets along with everyone and has a decent pulse on the Nats fanbase. I also get along with most media members and broadcasters (both radio and television). One television broadcaster has mentioned me during game broadcasts a handful of times this season and we™ve emailed back and forth about me teaching him how to effectively use Twitter (someday). His partner has mentioned his Twitter name (@rdibs49) during broadcasts and encouraged followers. I™ve been following him for a while (since before he started mentioning it during games) and kind of thought he should totally be following me to learn about the Nats fanbase. However, I discovered this afternoon that he apparently blocked me and I have no idea why. Talk about awkward!

For someone representing the ballclub who is supposed to help fans understand the game and remain faithful to the club, this is surprising to me and something I would consider a clueless act when it comes to social media. You don™t publicly pick fights with fans of the club you represent for one (which he has done, but then deleted later). Well, maybe œpick fights isn™t the correct phrase ” retaliate is more appropriate. I wasn™t going to mention that before¦ And you don™t ostracize one of the longer-tenured, vocal and influential fans. I™ve seen broadcasters come and go and will probably still be around long after someone else is in the Nats Park booth. So I™m trying not to take it personally, but am still puzzled.

(link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)

Brickhouse and Stone v Dick the Bruiser

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling at 7:16 pm by

For no good reason at all, I offer this 1985 WGN profile of Dick the Bruiser hosted by Jack Brickhouse and Steve Stone.  I especially like the Bruiser’s dismissal of his wife for daring to speak during the interview (even tho they obviously get their hair bleached at the same place), the Bruiser’s skills on his pool’s diving board, vintage 80s shorts, and that impressive car collection.

WSC’s Bellers : Millwall Trouble Just Biz As Usual

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 3:26 pm by

Following ugly scenes during last night’s Carling Cup tie between West Ham and Milwall, Lions supporter Lance Bellers acknowledges to readers of When Saturday Comes Daily, “the wheeling out of Millwall’s stock list of misdemeanours has taken on comic proportions”, while asking those Millwall fans who aren’t looking for a fight, “it’s all so predictable and depressing that you really have to start asking yourself at exactly what point would you decide you’ve had enough and call it a day?”

This season has included the usual amount of those incidents that start to make you really wonder. For example: the eternal racism (“We’re glad we sold the nigger,” sung by a few and aimed at Chris Armstrong); the father leading his seven-year-old boy by the hand after the Youth Cup final at Arsenal and singing at the top of his voice, “North London is full of shit, shit and more shit”; and two stories from a friend, who told of having to run for his life after visiting the New Den and also of someone he knew suffering a double headbutt after the Forest game, even though he actually supports Ipswich.

So what exactly would it take to kick the football habit? Millwall’s severe lack of form at the beginning of this season certainly had me thinking hard. After all, without a half-decent side to follow, what else did I have to entice me there? Of course, the real answer is that I probably will never give up going altogether. Football still supplies sufficient excitement, uncertainty and comradeship to prevent me from really ending it all. Am I alone in this? I suspect not.

Needless To Say, Victor Conte Has The Last Laugh

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science, The Law at 3:03 pm by

Or should that be “needles to say?” “I’ve said Novitzky makes up his own rules for years,” sneered/Tweeted Victor Conte (above) earlier today, echoing the judgement of the U.S. Court Of Appeals Of The 9th Circuit,  who ruled today the federal government’s no. 1 Sultan Of Surly hunter Jeff Novitsky acted improperly in seizing the infamous 2003 list of 104 MLB Players Who-Took-Something-Or-Other. From Fair Play’s John Pessah :

Novitzky led a raid on the California Date Testing center in April of 2004 as part of his investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. He entered CDT with a search warrant for 10 players connected to BALCO, but seized a computer directory that contained the names of all 104 players who failed the tests. The directory also had confidential drug tests of players from the NFL, NHL and three private businesses.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the government only had access to the 10 players connected to BALCO.

“I know that he violated my rights and I believe he has done so with many others as well. said Victor Conte, who owned BALCO and has been a consistent critic of Novitzky.

(White) Sox Defeat (White) Sox

Posted in Baseball at 2:11 pm by

(The road to the playoffs out of Chicago?)

Monday: White Sox 8 Boston 12

For the second time in as many Augusts, the spectacle of RHP Jose Contreras visiting the first base area has failed to inspire.  Last season, it was a race to the bag (helped not a bit by the feckless, motionless Nick Swisher at 1B) that caused Contreras’ achilles to snap, ending his season and keeping the Twins very much in contention into the post-season.

Monday, Contreras’s chug down the line landed him not on a stretcher, but the bullpen.  After loading the bases in the 3rd by beaning Youklis with 2 outs, Contreras got Big Papi to issue a weak grounder down the line.  Normally cause for celebration, Jose instead bobbled it, allowing Alex Gonzales to score, kicking off a 6 unearned run inning.  Chisox blown opportunities to answer were marked by Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios popups.  By evening’s end, Contreras would be demoted to the pen and the White Sox would lead the AL in unearned runs with 63.  The Tigers victory in Anaheim put the Pale Hose 3.5 games back, making Tuesday’s tilt if not a must-win, something close to it.

Tuesday: White Sox 3 Red Sox 6

Yesterday came the hammer blow.  More blown scoring opportunities laced Sweaty Freddy Garcia’s decent 6 1/3 inning effort before it was handed to the resolutely terrible Scott Linebrink (7.73 since ASB), causing anguished foreheads to meet beer-moistened bar tops from Greektown to Joliet.  Ass long as he’s durr, I how to bring him out, explained Ozzie after it was too late.  Linebrink gave up a Jason Bay monster-clearing bomb and RBI hits to Ellsbury and Martinez to put the game and probably the division out of reach for good.

The division because Detroit’s mediocrity took a Southern California holiday in their Jarrod Washburn-led 5-3 win, putting the Pale Hose back 4.5 games and making Sox fans wonder why Detroit’s west coast import arm wasn’t languishing in AAA like ours was.  Did Jake Peavy answer this question by stopping a line drive with his throwing elbow in his third rehab start in Charlotte?  Will we have all winter to think about Clayton Richard, for whom the troubled Cy Young winner was traded – and his record of 4-0 since that deal?

MLB Investigating Rockies / Ump Spat

Posted in Baseball at 11:50 am by

A pair of successive extra-inning defeats of Los Angeles has red hot Colorado within a mere two games of the NL West leading Dodgers, but aside from analyzing Joe Torre’s charges without using the word “choke”, ill-will stemming from Monday night’s 14 inning affair continues to generate discussion two days later.  On a night both clubs made their feelings known about home plate umpire Jorge Campos’ quality of work, second base umpire Bill Miller is accused of verbally abusing Rockies C Yorvit Torreabla, a situation that has garnered the attention of MLB’s discipline chieftan Bob Watson.  From the Denver Post’s Troy E. Renck :



Tensions began to escalate because, Torrealba said, Miller (above) insulted him, saying that he was out of line by showing up Campos during the game with his body language on questionable calls against Rockies pitchers. A witness to the incident said that Miller referred to his own experience as an umpire in explaining why he had the right to criticize Torrealba’s actions, though he wasn’t working the plate.

As Miller and Torrealba argued, Street yelled at first-base umpire Jim Joyce, telling him that Miller needed to stop badgering Torrealba. Joyce came over to the rail of the Rockies’ dugout and exchanged words with Street and pitching coach Bob Apodaca.

“I was defending my catcher, that’s all. It was an emotional night on both sides,” said Street, who apologized to the umpires after the game.

Following Ryan Spilborghs’ walk-off grand slam, the Rockies celebrated at home plate. As the players dispersed, Torrealba yelled at Miller. Torrealba said he is not worried about a potential suspension.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. You offend me and I will offend you back. You show me respect and I’ll show you respect,” Torrealba said.

Renck reports Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki was chastised for making contact with teammate Spilborghs before the latter crossed home plate, which might be the most petty complaint this side of Great White saying their rider wasn’t contractually fulfilled.