08.25.09

Big Lay-Z’s Shirtless Challenge to Carol Slezak Goes Nowhere, Cubs Lose 15-6

Posted in Baseball, History's Great Hook-Ups at 11:59 pm by

eduardo_verastegui_shirtless.jpg image by EktorOni

[A shirtless photo of Zambrano could not be found at press time, so a CSTB staffer was asked to pose (thank you Rob Warmowski!)]

‘”I’m going to show her my guns so that she can call me lazy again,” Zambrano recently huffed at the Sun-Times‘ Chris De Luca, in a quite sensible response to Carol Slezak’s recent complaints about Z.  Indeed, the Cubs went on an all-out PR campaign this week to refute the outrageous charge that Zambrano is lazy made by, well, Zambrano himself. Cub GM Jim Hendry confidently announced this afternoon that he isn’t at all worried about Zambrano’s paper mache back or recent admission that he’s “lazy.”  That said, Big La-Z-Boy got blown out 15-6 tonight by the apparently fearsome last place Washington Nationals.  The good news “ the Cubs actually hit 6 runs in ONE game, one of them a Zambrano solo shot.   Zambrano’s lazy days of summer interview has been fuel for the fire of the What Happened To The ’09 Cubs Blame Game.  While I’ve been remiss in covering Big Z’s casual work ethic, one thing’s for sure “ he’s but one problem of many. The Carol Slezak column that got Z to the gym gives a nice cataloging of Cub faults, and while she gives props to the ladies bathrooms at Wrigley, that offers this fan little in the way of practical good news.  Worse, she presents the Cubs a sterling role model “ the South Side.  Chris De Luca of The Sun-Times gives a sympathetic ear to Zambrano here:

He was particularly upset by a Carol Slezak column in the Sun-Times this week that included this message: ”If I were running the Cubs, I’d be looking for a way to make this lazy pitcher somebody else’s problem.”

Zambrano’s response: ”That lady that says I was lazy, I want to see her on Tuesday. I want to be with no shirt so that she can see my body, and she can see what type of body I have. If I’m lazy, lazy people don’t have this body, so I’m going to show her my guns so that she can call me lazy again.

”I’m sorry, people get hurt. We are human, and we get hurt. … We are not machines.”

The same Chicago press corps worshipped Kerry Wood. Many adoringly called him ”Woody,” prompting manager Lou Piniella to ask during his first season, ”Who?” You would never hear the Chicago critics blasting Wood. My gosh, he once struck out 20 Houston Astros.

Zambrano? Run him out of town.

One writer proudly announced in June — after Zambrano lost to the White Sox — that the Cubs should just release him and eat the rest of his $91.5 million contract. The bankrupt Chicago Tribune, which still owns the Cubs, promoted this idea as pure genius.

Isiah’s First Act As FIU Coach – Ducking North Carolina

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts at 8:14 pm by

Florida International’s first game under the stewardship of Isiah Thomas (above) is listed as a Nov. 9 tipoff against defending national champs North Carolina.  Trouble is, FIU’s athletic director claims he’d only agreed to play Ohio State.  From the Miami Herald :

FIU A.D. Pete Garcia said he felt the Golden Panthers were “bullied” by organizers of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and that he expected Thomas’ debut to be at Ohio State instead.

“Would they do what they’re doing to us to Duke, or to North Carolina? No,” Garcia said. “But they’ll do it to FIU and any other school out there like FIU.”

The Princeton, N.J.-based Gazelle Group, which operates the tournament, said Garcia signed a contract in November 2008 stipulating the Golden Panthers would play Ohio State or North Carolina sometime between Nov. 9-13. Garcia acknowledged signing that deal.

He said “it’s a matter of principle and a matter of the contract” why FIU won’t agree to playing North Carolina instead.

“We’re being bullied into that game,” Garcia said. “I’ve told them today, we’ll play Ohio State, we don’t want to play North Carolina.”

FIU hired Thomas, the former New York Knicks coach and president, on April 15 and gave him a five-year contract. Garcia said many of the nation’s biggest programs have called about scheduling FIU since Thomas got hired.

“Everyone wants to play us now,”
Garcia said.

If nothing else, this oughta be terrific bulletin board material for Thad Matta. What better motivation for the Buckeyes than being reminded, repeatedly, that unranked F.I.U. would prefer to play Ohio State?

Armando Benitez’ Eventful Return To Affiliated Baseball

Posted in Baseball at 4:25 pm by

Sunday evening I took a little time out from panhandling and attended my first ballgame in a few weeks, as I witnessed Memphis defeat Round Rock, 6-1. Though rehab appearances by St. Louis’ Troy Glaus and Houston’s Aaron Boone piqued my curiosity, the real draw for your humble editor was the Pacific Coast League debut of former Mets closer Armando Benitez, who’d previously been toiling for the indie Atlantic League’s Newark Bears. Signed by Houston on Friday and assigned to Round Rock, Benitez never made it into Sunday’s contest, but as the following item from the Express’ website details, his appearance on Monday night was nothing short of…well, just what Mets fans might’ve expected had the former Amazins reliever been pitching in Flushing.

Armando Benitez made Express history with two down in the top of the eighth inning of Round Rock’s 12-7 loss to Memphis (69-60) on Monday, becoming just the third player in Pacific Coast League history to allow four consecutive home runs in a single inning.

Benitez, who joined Round Rock (55-75) earlier in the day after making 34 appearances for Independent Newark, joined Joe Nathan and Kevin Meier as one of three PCL pitchers to allow four homers in a single frame.

The only difference? All of the shots Benitez allowed were consecutive, good for a PCL record for pitchers.

Nobody Likes ‘Em Update : Trouble At Worthless Cup Tie

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior at 4:09 pm by

Tuesday’s 2nd round Carling Cup clash between West Ham and Millwall provided the East London rivals with a rare opportunity to inflict punishment upon each other. Or perhaps more accurately, for an all-too prominent minority segment of either club’s supporters to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. From the Telegraph’s Chris Irvine :

The “planned” scuffles, which involved more than 100 fans, appeared to have been caused by fans without tickets to the game, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said.

Reports suggested that some of the fans had been throwing missiles and bricks at one another and the violence between the two sets of fans was described as “serious” by BBC News.

It is thought some fans were ambushed by rival supporters outside the nearby Upton Park underground station via side roads. Officers have made at least two arrests, one for disorder and the second for breach of a banning order.

Police said the stabbing of a man, aged 44, in Priory Road close to the stadium, is connected to the fighting.

The Iggles’ Shawn Andrews – Ready To Crash Thru Opposing Defensive Lines Like Bobby Pyn

Posted in Gridiron at 4:00 pm by

Sorry, would Shannon Hoon have been more topical? “Shawn Andrews (above, left)  is an enigma wrapped inside a right tackle wrapped around a Pro Bowl guard,” muses the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan, who acknowledges’ Andrews’ history with depression while dropping the following training camp tidbit ;

Two years ago, Andrews missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury. He told reporters he’d gotten bad news from the doctor – a “tearjerker,” he called it – but then started the season opener. Last year, he missed the preseason with his depression issues.

“I would be pretty [ticked] off if I felt a guy was cheating himself or cheating the team,” Andrews said.

No one is wondering whether Peters or Stacy Andrews or Herremans really wants to come back. It is his unique history that has people asking such questions about Shawn Andrews. It doesn’t help that his answers are accompanied by cryptic asides.

“I feel like I’ve done everything but die,” Andrews said of his battle with depression.

He said he sent Reid a text message before camp: “I’m ready to sell out like a Michael Jackson concert” – an odd choice of words given the pop star’s death on June 25.

“I’m at the zenith of my happiness,” Andrews said at one point.

Claus Von Bulow’s Attorney Would Like To Trade A Roger Clemens Card For A Shawn Estes

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 1:18 pm by

Enraged over MLB’s recent decision to suspend Boston’s Kevin Youkilis and Detroit’s Rick Porcello for 5 games apiece, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz (above) insists “an equal penalty for these two very different offenses was outrageous…the message conveyed by Major League Baseball, even if unintended, is that it pays for a pitcher to throw at a superstar.”  From a Dershowitz editorial in the August 19 Boston Globe (link swiped from The Big Lead).

If this continues, someone will be maimed or killed, despite the presence of helmets. The time has come for Major League Baseball to ban the bean ball. The only way to do this is for baseball to adopt a zero tolerance policy and to impose draconian sanctions not only on pitchers who throw at the heads of batters but, more importantly, on the managers who instruct them to do so. A manager cannot order a pitcher to accidentally hit a batter. Anytime a manager instructs a pitcher to throw at the head of a batter, he has committed the serious crime of reckless endangerment or assault with a lethal weapon. Baseball cannot tolerate such criminality.

The minimum penalty for a manager must be suspension for an entire season, perhaps even for life. For the pitcher, suspension for the season should be mitigated only if the pitcher turned in the manager. There should also be penalties for any baseball player who hears the manager or coach order the beaning of a player without reporting it.

There will be problems of proof in some cases but once Major League Baseball has determined that the decision was a deliberate one, the punishment must fit the crime. It did not do so in the Youkilis-Porcello situation.

08.24.09

Fort Worth, TX : The New Home Of J.R. Rider?

Posted in Basketball at 8:14 pm by

If you saw a flyer as well designed as this, exactly how many world-class ballers do you think would emerge from the woodwork looking for an ABA tryout? I’m gonna guess the numbers were rather low (did Mark Aguire call?) but hopefully former NBA vet / Slam Dunk champ  Isaiah “J.R.” Rider was eligible for the $100 discounted rate rather than the $120 fee.  The North Texas Fresh of the American Basketball Association claim they’re on the brink of signing Rider, though agent Joe Lee warns, “he can’t do the in – between the legs anymore but he can do everything else.”

Nothing has been set in stone yet, but conversation between both parties, ceo/Owner Jay Bowdy and Lee, look to be something greatly appreciative for both ends; and of course the North Texas Fresh fans.  “We are making moves necessary to better our franchise.  Rider is someone who I feel I can trust to bring in and make a positive impact for these players and the organization with his experience, knowledge, and understanding of the Professional level of basketball,” stated Jay Bowdy.  “Hopefully we can come to a mutual agreement on things and add something great to our phenomenal training camp roster that we have already.”

(press release link culled from Dime’s Aron Philips)

Nats’ Kasten Hails The New Breed Of “Out There & Doing Things” Citizen Journalists

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 7:19 pm by

(the best buddy a blogger ever had!)

Following in the footsteps of Ted Leonsis’ infamous desert-cart-for-bloggers, the Washington Nationals picked yesterday’s game vs. the Brewers to open their Blogger’s Suite for the second time this season.  “The first of its kind,” boasted Nats President Stan Kastsen (above), who somehow resisted the urge to invite anyone from The 700 Level or Beerleaguer.  From The Washington Times’ Bob Cohn :

“They’re clearly a presence on the Web, which is clearly a presence in our lives,” said Kasten, who pays close attention to things written and said about his team. “They are out there doing things. I think we’re all better served when they have as much good information as they can have.

“I don’t know if we’ve gone too far or we haven’t gone far enough,” Kasten said. “All of us in sports are learning, feeling our way through these developments. A year ago we didn’t do things like this. A year from now we’ll probably have a better fix on what’s appropriate or what’s not appropriate. We’re trying to figure it out.”

Almost all of the 16 bloggers who showed up Sunday brought notebooks and used them. One of the deeper-thinkers and a big numbers guy, Steven Biel of FJB (Fire Jim Bowden – a shout-out to the departed Nationals general manager) toted a laptop. Many had recording devices and cameras. Blogging has become a sophisticated mixed-media enterprise that runs counter to the popular stereotype. Although that didn’t stop Brian Oliver, another brainy guy, from cracking that “all the mothers’ basements in the area are empty right now.”

Goodbye GorillaBeas, Hello Rehab

Posted in Basketball, Free Expression at 3:09 pm by

No sooner did Michael Beasley post a new backplate snapshot to his Twitter account — with what appeared to be a bag of weed nearby — than the 2nd year Heat forward’s Twitter account under the nom de plume “GorilliaBeas” disappeared.   The South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman reports Beasley has since checked into a Houston rehabilitation center run by John Lucas.

“He’s compliant out in Houston, just trying to do everything that is asked of him at this particular moment,”Beasley’s personal manager Bruce Shingler said. “He’s OK right now.”

Inspection of the photo showed two baggies in the background, which some have assumed to be marijuana.

“I don’t know who took that picture. Obviously, it wasn’t Mike taking it,” Shingler said. “I really have no clue about that.”

Before Beasley’s Twitter account was closed and erased, these three posts were offered:

– “Y do I feel like the whole world is against me!!!!!!! Back on my FTW!!!!! I can’t win for losin!!!!!!!!!!”

– “Feelin like it’s not worth livin!!!!!!! I’m done”

– “not feelin this at all!!!!!”

“I truly think they were taken out of context,” Shingler said of those posts. “One thing about the Twitter thing, it can mislead and be misread at times.”

On the topic of being mislead and misread, I apparently owe Stephen A. Smith a big apology.  It would seem South Beach IS addictive.

History Is Written by the Winners. Poetry’s Another Story

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 12:54 pm by

 /></p> <p><a href=From Amazin’ Avenue:

Baseball’s Sad Losing Team: A Poem by Howard Megdal

(with apologies to Franklin P. Adams)

This is the saddest of possible word
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett
Killer of rally in season absurd
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett
Vicious line drive that seemed destined to drop
Giving the Mets chance to come out on top
This year’s indignities simply won’t stop
Bruntlett to Bruntlett to Bruntlett

The Mets already have a victory of sorts against the Phillies on this Monday afternoon – Cliff Lee has allowed two runs (albeit, one unearned) for the first time as a National League pitcher, though the Phillies Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer off of Bobby Parnell in the first. Eric Bruntlett (filling in at SS today after playing second yesterday) is 0-1.

Maury Allen On The ’09 Mets : I Haven’t Got Time For The Pain

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:14 pm by

“Woody Allen once wrote that showing up was 95 per cent of life,” recalls former New York Post scribe Maury Allen (above). “I had that part of my persona down pat. Not even a broken finger suffered in a sled accident or a concussion suffered in a stickball accident when I was 12 kept me from school.”  What a shame then, that the 79 year old sportswriter, now toiling for The Columnists.com, hasn’t volunteered to patrol left field for Jerry Manuel (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

What does all of this have to do with the 2009 version of the New York Mets?

In the past two seasons they blew pennant leads in the last could of weeks and were maligned for choking. This year they can be attacked for not showing up.

The injuries, maybe unavoidable, have happened to their best, middle and worst players, including first baseman Carlos Delgado, All Star outfielder Carlos Beltran, team table setter Jose Reyes, free agent pitcher J.J. Putz, veteran Tim Redding and reliever Billy Wagner, a carryover cripple from last year.

This is not to say the Mets are the wimpiest of teams. That™s just the way baseball and all sports seem to go these days. Get injured and take time off. Rehab in Florida. Play against minor league teams.

It just seems to be showing up more around the Mets than around any other team because of the blown pennants in recent years with nobody to blame. This year they can blame the injuries to their stars and soak the fans for those expensive seats again at Citi Field next year.

In another time players played through injuries because they had one year contracts, the competition for jobs was brutal and macho mania was part of the scene.

The Yankees of 1949 won the American league pennant under rookie manager Casey Stengel despite something like 79 major injuries during the year, especially the heel injury to Joe DiMaggio. He sat out the season until a June series against the Red Sox, destroyed them in four games and led the Yankees to a title. Of course, he had to play the last two games of the year with walking pneumonia.

The Mets last won a World Series 23 years ago. It is hard to imagine them winning another with their new history of chokiness and wimpiness.

Allen has apparently forgotten how quickly Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup in ’05 after re-arranging his good looks in an outfield collision with Mike Cameron.  While Maury took care to mention David Wright is “resting comfortably” after taking “a pitch on the cocoanut” (alleged) kid gloves treatment of the Mets’ star third baseman is an obvious move in light of how the club handled Ryan Church’s multiple concussions a year earlier.  But it’s a curious take, either way. Rather than pillory the Mets’ training/medical staff or hold the General Manager accountable for a farm system devoid of prospects or competent journeymen, Allen prefers to insist the Mets are, well, a big bunch of pansies.

On The Bright Side, Francoeur Didn’t Swing At The First Pitch

Posted in Baseball at 2:25 am by

Because MLB Advanced Media will no doubt have the above clip disabled any minute now, I’ve already got a back up plan in place. If Eric Bruntlett’s game-ending, unassisted triple play from the Phillies’ 9-7 victory over the Mets doesn’t strike you as particularly historic (despite being just the 15th such triple play in big league history, and only the 2nd time a game concluded with such an incident), consider the weirdness of Philadelphia’s Pedro Martinez defending former teammate Oliver Perez. From the Newark Star-Ledger’s Brian Costa :

The fact that Perez struggled, lasting just two-thirds of an inning in the Mets’ 9-7 loss, was the least surprising element. But Martinez was nonetheless critical of Manuel for not allowing Perez to finish the at-bat.

“I’ve never seen something like that,” Martinez said. “I know [Perez] didn’t do his job. He probably didn’t feel quite as comfortable. But on a 3-0 count, you come to take him out?”

Manuel had good reason to pull Perez, who gave up six runs and needed 47 pitches to last as long as he did. He had already given up two three-run homers when Martinez came to the plate, one by Jayson Werth and another by Carlos Ruiz. If Perez couldn’t throw strike one to Martinez after three pitches, Manuel had little reason to think he could do it on the fourth attempt.

“If I was pitching, I don’t know what I’d think,” Martinez said. “I would probably wait until he walked the guy and then take him out. I don’t know if that’s disrespect. I don’t know if that’s anything else. I don’t know how Ollie feels, but definitely, it was really weird.”

08.23.09

Wilpon Casts Vote Of Full Confidence In GM No One Has Any Confidence In

Posted in Baseball at 2:10 pm by

Is Mets owner Fred Wilpon a) overly impressed with the emergence of Omir Santos, b) fully aware a rash of injuries and the effects of the Bernie Madoff swindle cannot be blamed on his General Manager or c) just happy someone else takes the heat?  Or perhaps some combination of all of the above?  In any event, the region’s no. 1 Brooklyn Dodgers fan told the New York Post’s Mike Puma, “Am I going to bring Omar back next year?…Absolutely. That’s a fact.”

Wilpon, who had agreed to answer only one question, then disappeared through a corridor near the Mets clubhouse at Citi Field.

The Post later approached Minaya and repeated Wilpon’s comment, but the GM played it coy when he was asked if the same message had been conveyed to him by Wilpon.

Nevertheless, Minaya made it clear that if he’s returning, so is manager Jerry Manuel.

“Jerry is my guy,” Minaya said. “We work well together.”

“I will continue to work hard every day,” Minaya said. “That’s the only way I know how to work.”

This qualifies as a minor scoop for Puma, so I’m loathe to criticize the Post scribe’s decision to ask the elder Wilpon about Minaya’s status with his one question.  Had I been in that position, however, I’d have opted for “true or false?  – you have less money in your checking account than Lenny Dykstra.”

Cubs Sold: 1908 Champs Fetch $845 Million

Posted in Baseball, Greedy Motherfuckers at 12:13 pm by

cubs-fans

[Ecstatic Cub Fan Tom Ricketts Just Got an Awesome Summer Job.]

Word reached the CSTB Cub desk Friday evening that a sale has been finalized between the Ricketts family, who founded Ameritrade, and the Tribune Corporation, in selling the North Side franchise.  The sale means $845 million goes to Tribco, which will retain a 5% stake in the team.  In return, Americketts gets the team, Wrigley Field, and Tribco’s 25% stake in Comcast cable which broadcasts Cubs games.

Apparently, Sam Zell’s attempts to jack up the price during the banking and credit collapse over the last year dragged the process out for 30 months for his pre-crash dream of getting $1 billion for the 1908 champs.  Considering the 5% stake he retains, it looks like Zell came in about 10-15% under the total $1B asking price (if my English major’s math is right).  In today’s economy, not bad. Zell’s troubles have been tastefully documented by CSTB, and I’ll miss the little guy.  But, that’s the past, and Trib retirees and nervous pensioners will now have to fend without me.  Republican rule in the nation’s capitol ended this January.  Now its last stranglehold stronghold, Wrigley Field, goes, too.  With the founders of Ameritrade running the show, I don’t expect to see Mayor Daley on the field anytime soon, but who knows?  At least ol’ Joe Ricketts probably didn’t lobby as hard as the Tribune to keep us out of WW II.  I like Dick Tracy comics as much as the next guy, but the Trib has been short on good ideas since its 1931 debut. On hearing the Ricketts news, some of the locals noted:

“Hopefully the Rickettses will spend money on the team” for good players and rehabbing Wrigley Field, said Devon Vowman, 21, who works at a sports shop across from the stadium.

“It’ll be nice for a family to own the Cubs that cares about more than the bottom line,” said his co-worker, Alex Sheehan, 20.

Yeah, I dunno if I’d look to the Ameritrade family to look past the bottom line much Alex.  Devon, all I can say is, how much money does it take?  The Cubs have a sizable payroll.  Is that what’s holding them back?  Unfortunately, the feel good story coming out of Wrigley 2009 remains the relative good health of Ryan Dempster’s big toe.   From Opening Day, it’s been a birther-friendly press blitz on Bradley, Zambrano’s temper tantrums, Aramis Ramirez and Geo Soto benched all year “ and the inability of the Cubs to hit for anything.   The Town Hall tea-baggers  in the press box flipped out the day Milton Bradley was signed.  They’re not to blame for the mediocre-to-terrible play this year, of MB or the team, but it sure left a bitter taste to go along with the acrid smells around Wrigley in 2009.  No matter how it ends up, this season has been a bummer to watch.  That’s not a money problem.

I can’t stand the Trib Co., but I can’t blame it in the last few years for not trying.  Getting a solid closer, a non-psyched out line-up, ok “ but they obviously wanted to pump up the value of the team and make it an NL Central powerhouse to increase the sale price.  But this summer, it’s the Cards picking up Holliday and Smoltz for October and managing to go the whole season without a concussion.   We can’t even get Aramis Ramirez off the bench for a few weeks straight.  At the end of the day, the White Sox had more use for Jake Peavy than the 2009 Cubs.  Where did the Sox get $60 mil in Cubmoney to get Peavy, btw? You know, I see a Sox fan in a Benz, I think, “drug dealer.”  Anyway,  could the Cubs close an 8 game gap with the Cards in 2009?  I dunno, why couldn’t they score 3 runs against the Dodgers last night?  What’s the point of a pricey arm holding down the opposition to 2 runs when you can’t score 1?

As for baseball’s love of putting a friendly face on team owners, preferring family ownership to corporations,well, whatever.   I’m not sure what difference that makes yet with Americketts.  I mean, I sure don’t prefer family run businesses like the Wrigleys (Phillip K’s reign, for sure) or Marge Schott’s or the Yawkeys or the Seligs, to the $$$ Tribco put into the Hendry/Piniella Cubs.  The Trib had a reason to pay for a winner in recent years.   When winning is a profit motive, winning happens.

Please note, the Cubs always turn a profit, win or lose, due to fans of Wrigely Field more than baseball “ some would pay $845 million just for the park. Will the Americketts have the same incentive as Zell post-sale?  Or will the need to pay down their extended credit line on the Cubs in a lousy market and cut payroll?  I’m sure Cub fans love the idea of a bleacher bum, who lived in Wrigleyville, and met his wife in the stands, buying the team.  Do I really want a true blue Cub fan owning the Cubs?  Someone in love with the Wrigley mistake mystique of goat curses, day games, who’ll fight any changes to Wrigley that might ruin his Harry Caray nostalgia?   If Americketts reasons that paying for a winner means paying off their loan, I’m sure winning will happen.

Quins’ Phony Injury Scandal : If You Want (Fake) Blood, You Got It

Posted in Football, Rugby, Sports Journalism at 3:11 am by

“It’s too warm to touch / A simulated rush / but how can you tell /  When it’s fake blood?” asked Mission Of Burma’s Peter Prescott in 2006, blissfuly unaware that just a few years later, officials at England’s RFU would be asking the same question. Harlequins’ Tom Williams, coach Dean Richard and team physio Steven Brenner received bans of 4 months, 3 years and 2 years respectively for their role in a bogus-facial-injury  scandal being that’s been dubbed “Bloodgate”.  Careful not to openly gloat, the Guardian’s Paul Wilson opined, “as if rugby union commentators and their ilk have never, ever, in any way used Premier League football as convenient shorthand for Sodom and Gomorrah rolled into one and anything else that might be wrong with the world.”

Not even when Dean Richards admitted he knew the game was up when he saw Tom Williams (above)  walking towards him with fake blood frothing from his mouth and “legs like Bruce Grobbelaar did it occur for a moment that rugby union’s raid on the make-up cupboard had anything to do with football. Grobbelaar did not actually cheat in the 1984 European Cup final, after all. He showed uncommon and unpremeditated inventiveness in taking gamesmanship (and showmanship) as far as it would go, and rather than assuming that Richards was implying footballers were also guilty of skulduggery on occasions it seemed far more likely he was expressing admiration for a sportsman who managed to gain a crucial advantage without breaking any rules.

Imperfect as footballers may be, they can at least con referees without resorting to smuggling extraneous substances on to the pitch. Please do not write in, that was a joke. Less amusing is watching the old double standard come into play, as rugby attempts to retreat into a boys will be boys and rules will be bent mentality. Footballers who dive or feign injury are never characterised as pranksters or chancers. They are notorious cheats. Conmen. Overpaid impostors who insult their audiences and their glorious heritage.

08.22.09

Rice Denies Jeter Diss

Posted in Baseball at 5:50 pm by

After all that heavy campaigning for the Hall of Fame, you’d think Jim Ed Rice would need no tutorial on the power of the media to spread a message. But the former Red Sox slugger is feigning surprise just the same over the way his recent remarks to a bunch of Little Leaguers have been spread throughout the baseball world. “The tabloids had a field day. The chat rooms were abuzz with inflammatory comment” gushes Yahoo’s Gordon Edes, who surely must realize Rice deserves a ton of credit for keeping baseball relevant during the height of the NFL preseason.

For his part, Rice is flabbergasted at the outcry, saying he was unaware of the fuss he™d caused until reached by Yahoo! Sports while waiting for a flight in Philadelphia on Friday night. His words could not have been more miscast, he said. The rivalry was to blame.

œWhat do you expect? he said. œWho are the Red Sox playing? The Yankees. What else do you expect but some controversy involving the Red Sox and Yankees? I was misquoted.”

œYou see a Manny Ramirez(notes), you see an A-Rod, you see [Derek] Jeter ¦ Guys that I played against and with, these guys you™re talking about cannot compare, said Rice during his speech, who coincidentally or not mentioned the three highest paid players in the game today.

If that wasn™t enough, Rice also said, œWe didn™t have the baggy uniforms. We didn™t have the dreadlocks. It was a clean game, and now they™re setting a bad example for the young guys.”

whom he has frequently knocked for his seeming indifference.

Later, Rice protested, œAnybody who reads that story knows I wasn™t talking about Jeter or Rodriguez, he said. œLook at them. Do you see any baggy pants? Do you see any dreadlocks?

œWhen you think of the Yankees, who do you think of? Him [Jeter] and Rodriguez. Anyone who knows the game, anyone with any common sense knows which players give you leadership. And think about the way they play every day. Can you see either A-Rod or Jeter going into the manager™s office and saying, ˜Skip, I don™t feel like playing today.™ ?

Rice insisted he did not single out Jeter and Rodriguez as examples of me-first players. œI said, ˜The guys who play right, you know who they are, and they know in the clubhouse, too. You can™t fool your teammates.™ I mentioned ˜guys,™ not those guys.

08.21.09

Country Time To Philly? Wags Says Never Again

Posted in Baseball at 7:33 pm by

” I could not be happier that the scumbag is not coming back here.” So opined “Jason”, a reader of Scott Lauber’s Philled In blog for the News-Journal, which earlier today considered just what have prevented Mets reliever Billy Wagner – a day removed from a scoreless inning versus Atlanta in his big league return from ligament surgery — from rejoining the Phillies (ie. neither club nor player is interested)

Ruben Amaro Jr. just confirmed what we already sort of suspected: The Phillies were not the team that placed a claim. Amaro said they don™t have unlimited financial flexibility and can™t afford to pay the $3.7 million remaining on the four-year, $43 million contract that Wagner signed with the Mets before the 2006 season. And that™s a good thing because Wagner said earlier today that he never would waive his full no-trade clause to return to the Phillies. Not for the final month of the season. Not for anything.

œNo, Wagner said. œThat [crap] was hard enough for two years. I can™t imagine a month, coming off Tommy John. At 38, Tommy John, no. They expect way too much.

Thanks to Jason Cohen (no relation…I think) for the link. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports Wagner’s been claimed on waivers by the Red Sox, which is terrific news for a recovering veteran who’s had his fill of intolerant fans, high expectations, etc. The first time Wags issues four walks in an inning or throws a meatball than ends up on Landsdowne Street, I am confident WEEI’s broadcasters and listeners will be quick to credit his courageous comeback efforts.

Fantasy Insurance: Possibly Viral Marketing for Patton Oswalt-Vehicle “Big Fan”

Posted in consumer affairs, Gambling, Greedy Motherfuckers, Gridiron at 2:12 pm by


Big Fan being the upcoming movie in which Patton Oswalt plays a lumpy, quietly pathological obsessive Giants fan who fucks his life up through that obsession. I haven’t seen it, and so don’t necessarily know what it’s totally about, other than misplaced priorities and working-class sadness, and I imagine that it probably doesn’t have an elaborate viral marketing game-plan behind it. But if such a plan existed, the quietly depressing website for Fantasy Sports Insurance would probably fit in pretty well.

Scrolling pictures illustrate bad things that can happen to athletes — a slumped-over Tom Brady, Shaun Livingston’s nightmarish knee, some soccer player with an ankle so destroyed that it looks photoshopped — while caps-intensive text below gives you THE FACTS. Which is to say a quote from Darren Rovell suggesting that Tom Brady’s injury last season may have shifted $150 million in fantasy winnings. Did it shift some away from you? That is a rhetorical question. But so are these, from the site’s FAQ page:

Question: What are the benefits of purchasing this coverage?
Answer:
NFL, MLB, NHL and MBA team owners purchase disability coverage on their KEY PLAYERS. Why shouldn�t you. FSI will not only increase your competitiveness, but also gives you piece of mind knowing that your investment of both TIME and MONEY in building your team is secure. FSI will increase the level of involvement and interest in your fantasy league.
If a devastating loss occurs�all is not lost!

Question: What are my options for coverage?
Answer:
FSI will offer three coverage options:
1)One key player misses 10 out of the first 15 NFL regular season games – due to injury
2)One key player misses 8 out of the first 12 NFL regular season games – due to injury
3)Three key players miss a combined total 18 out of the fist 15 NFL regular season games � due to injury

I’m sorry the color-contrasted text didn’t make the cut, but the typos and question-mark diamonds did, which is good. Anyone know where I could purchase some priority insurance? Or get a time-to-grow-the-fuck-up-little-boys policy? I’m not suggesting fantasy sports are a bad thing, or that I’m above it or whatever — I have a draft tonight, and happily made my first eight picks in last year’s CSTB fantasy draft from an internet-enabled Bolt Bus. But even if we really need new financial products (we don’t), I’m not sure we need this one.

Thanks to Michael Sung for the link.

Mystique, Aura, Pinstripes & 26 World Champions Fail To Seduce Jeff Pearlman

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 1:05 pm by

The New York Yankees appear to be cruising towards an AL East pennant (and a playoff loss to the Angels), an altogether familiar circumstance that has author/journalist Jeff Pearlman declaring, “if I™m a Yankee fan, I™m bored and unamused.”  While I doubt more than a few (actual) Yankee fans will concur, I don’t mind what he’s got to say on the matter, either.

This offseason, the Yankees purchased the two best pitchers on the market (C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett), then went out and bought Mark Texiera, the in-his-prime, top-of-the-league first baseman superdooper stud. In other words, how can anyone with a human head actually attend, say, a Yankees-Royals or Yankees-Orioles or Yankees-Rays or Yankees-A™s or Yankees-Mariners or Yankees-Rangers or Yankees-Twins or Yankees-Anybody Except The Red Sox or Mets game and truly, strongly, lovingly, audibly root for the Yankees to win?

Really, it makes no emotional sense. I go to the movies to see The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader is absolutely loaded: The Emperor is supplying power and vital support. A new Death Star is in the works. He™s got a whole fleet of ships. So how in the world does anyone root against Luke? Actually, better example: You go to pick up your kid at school. There™s a fight in the playground. The bully lives next door to you. You like his parents, have attended BBQs at their house, remember when he was just a baby. However, now he™s a snarling 6-foot monster. His opponent is Richie Cunningham, the early high school years. Do you root for the thug, just because he™s familiar? Just because, once upon a time, he was likable?

Hells no.

In the event you find Pearlman’s disdain for the Bullying Bombers a tad screwy, perhaps an item from the Journal News’ Peter Abraham will convince you the ’09 Yanks cannot possibly deserve the support of any right-thinking individual. More than a 5th of the active Yankee roster attending a Creed concert (with Johnny Damon renting a bus for the occasion) isn’t quite up there with Eric Show and Dave Dravecky’s John Birch Society membership, but it’s still impossible to condone.

AJC : Dead Body At Chipper’s Ranch

Posted in Baseball at 12:46 pm by

Well, there’s bad news and there’s worse news.  For starters, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Alexis Stevens reports the corpse of a 22-year old man was found yesterday on the premises of Chipper Jones’ family ranch in Carrizo Springs, TX.  And it’s pretty frustrating there appears to be no way in which Chipper can be found liable.

“He was in a part of the ranch we don™t go to on a daily basis, Jones™ father, Larry Jones Sr. said Thursday evening from Double Dime Ranch.

Jones Sr. said the man, a Mexican national, had entered the country illegally. The extreme heat and the drought would have made it difficult for anyone to survive without food or water, he said.

The game ranch is home to 750 heads of steer, as well as various wildlife. Guides tours are offered at the œhunters™ paradise, according to Web site for the ranch. There™s a rifle range, stocked lakes for fishing, and a hunting lodge.

Chipper Jones visits the ranch several times a year during the offseason and for Thanksgiving, his father said. The Double Dime ranch got it™s name because the 1999 National League MVP wears the No. 10 jersey, and his father did, too, during his own playing days.

OKC Radio Yackster, Sports Putz, Blogger In 3-Way Quality-Of-Life Bickerfest

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Sports Radio at 12:33 pm by

Perhaps the recent spate of stories concerning Brett Farve, Michael Vick and female-sprinters-that-look-like-guys have distracted you from one of the more entertaining regional pissing matches of late.  To wit, Oklahoma City F/C Nick Collison gushed about the awesomeness of his adopted hometown of Seattle, WA, an act of disloyalty that earned him the ire of WWLS host Jim Traber (above).  After hearing Collison go toe-to-toe with Traber, Bill Simmons tweeted the former had “worked an OKC radio moron like a speedbag.” Said offering, predictably enough, caused Traber to turn his hostility towards Simmons, a decision the Daily Thunder’s Royce Young figures worthy of dubbing the broadcaster, “Lord Of The Idiots”.

I agree with Traber in a sense that Simmons has gone over the top about this Seattle/OKC crap, but this is just going to end badly, even if some random act of God it picks up any steam. All that will happen is that Oklahoma City sports chatter will get humiliated once again on the national stage and Traber will have to field calls for another week about it. One thing that makes me want to headbutt my coffee table though is that Traber is acting like people like Simmons and myself aren™t any different than anonymous Internet commenters, except that we use our real names. THEN HOW ARE INTERNET COMMENTERS ANY DIFFERENT THAN YOU, JIM? Your platform is the radio. Bill Simmons™ is a podcast and a column for ESPN.com. What™s the difference? I truly think Traber™s mind exists in a parallel universe where he cannot see such logical things.

Then, to cap it off, he ripped Simmons for not allowing comments on his columns and then rips me for allowing them on mine. Face palm. And he seems to forget that he has a website with a message board with anonymous commenters and also works for a radio station with a message board with anonymous commenters.

Because Playing Out The String Isn’t Depressing Enough – Sheff’s “Hostage” Scenario

Posted in Baseball at 12:08 pm by

Omar Minaya has been the target of considerable criticism in this space throughout the Mets’ injury-plagued 2009 season, but for once, he’s deserving of some small credit.  Asked by OF Gary Sheffield for a contract extension yesterday before the Mets’ 3-2 loss to Atlanta, Minaya replied with the only answer a sane person might give (ie. NFW).  I’m not sure how much drama you can really coax out of a punchless Amazins roster who are about to endure another 5 weeks of garbage time, but yesterday’s misinformation campaign will have to suffice.  From the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte and Bill Madden :

Claimed on waivers earlier this month and pulled back by the Mets, Gary Sheffield – who was on the original lineup posted yesterday afternoon –  is unhappy that he “essentially is being held hostage” from moving on to a contender for the remainder of this season, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke last night on the condition of anonymity.

Once Sheffield’s nameplate was removed, a series of contradictory quotes from the veteran and manager Jerry Manuel suggested something was brewing concerning the outfielder’s status with the team. Word circulating among players in the clubhouse before the game was that Sheffield was on the verge of being given his outright release.
Upon arriving at the clubhouse around 4 p.m., Sheffield coyly told reporters he is “100% healthy.” He also indicated it wasn’t his decision to be scratched from the lineup.

“Why’d I get pulled out? It’s just the best thing for this (game)….It’s just the best thing to let somebody else play today,” Sheffield said.

About an hour later, Manuel agreed that Sheffield is “OK” physically, but contended that the slugger “asked for a day off to clear some thoughts and things.”
“He’s done what we asked him to do and he’s played very well and just needed a break,” Manuel said.

Asked if Sheffield asked out of the lineup as a protest about his situation, Manuel replied, “Has he come to me and said that? No.”

In Sheff’s defense,  if you never ask for something, you might never receive it.  And with that in mind, there’s no harm in Wally Backman applying for the GM position, Fran Healy lobbying for Gary Cohen’s job or yours truly sending A.J. Daulerio a form letter about link exchanges.

The Case Of The Very Speedy Caster Semenya…

Posted in Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl?, Track & Field at 12:25 am by

…is really just a cheap excuse to employ the rarely used CSTB topic (and Barbarians homage) “Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl”? From the Guardian’s David Smith :

Caster Semenya, 18, is undergoing a gender test to prove she is female after beating her rivals by a huge margin to win the gold medal in the world championship 800 metres in Berlin.

Family, friends and teachers at her home in South Africa recalled how Semenya played football with boys, wore trousers instead of skirts and endured teasing by her peers. But all asserted that she is definitely a woman.

Jacob Semenya, her father, told the Sowetan newspaper: “She is my little girl. I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times.”

He attacked his daughter’s critics, saying: “For the first time South Africans have someone to be proud of and detractors are already shouting wolf. It is unfair. I wish they would leave my daughter alone.”

The first time South Africans can be proud? Wow, fuck off Neil Blomkamp.

08.20.09

The New Orleans Saints Should Be Turning Up To Rescue Jeremy Shockey Any Hour Now

Posted in Gridiron at 7:48 pm by

That Jeremy Shockey hasn’t always been held in high regard by some teammates is well established  ; suffice to say the ’07-08 Giants found his season-ending injury so demoralizing, they simply went on to win the Super Bowl. But whatever sparked this morning’s brawl during a scrimmage with the Houston Texans, could Shockey’s comrades have been any slower in coming to his aid?

Q : How Much Art (Schlichter) Can You Take?

Posted in Gridiron at 7:35 pm by

With all due respect to Society System Decontrol, that’s the question posed by Orange Frazier Press, publishers of a forthcoming autobiography from former Ohio State QB / gambling addict / con artist Art Schlichter. The Dayton Daily News’ Carlos “Big C” Holmes acquainted himself with the book’s dust jacket (almost as well as I’ve acquainted myself with his report) :

“Busted, the Rise and Fall of Art Schlichter”, tells the compelling story of how someone with fame, fortune and matinee idol looks was driven by the demons of a gripping addiction to steal from family and friends to support his gambling habit.

An All-America collegiate player and top 10 Heisman trophy contender, Schlichter reveals his father™s burning desire to mold him into an idolized athlete who would win championships and make millions. Schlichter describes how a fateful interception led to Woody Hayes resignation and his frustration and anger with Earle Bruce™s conservative offense.

Drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1982, Schlichter also reveals the causes behind his complete failure as an NFL quarterback and his suspension from the league in 1983. Schlichter also details how he used gambling to numb his self-inflicted pain until he contemplated suicide, and how he gambled away more than $120,000 in two days.