09.19.09

NY Times Investigative Reporting At Full Strength : Mets Less Popular Than Cancer, Child Abuse, Black 47

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 12:57 pm by

(good seats still available. Bad ones, too)

The Mets are currently scoreless against the Nationals’ John Lannan, whose 1981 killing served as inspiration for the Meatmen’s “One Down, Three To Go”. From the looks of things on MLB.TV, Citi Field is mostly empty, a development that could only be of interest to the most culturally unaware of New Yorkers. Or, if you prefer, New York Times sports editor Tom Jolly, who finds the cheap & easy availability of Mets tickets more worthy of coverage than what actually happened during a Major League baseball game. Jerry Manuel’s thoughts on the performance of Mike Pelfrey were considered surplus to requirements, though the Times’ David Waldstein did manage to get the manager to say œit™s a little too intimate, right now. We like the bigger crowds. You can hear them too clearly” regarding last night’s turnout.

One voice he could not hear was that of Michelle Velasquez, a New Jersey resident who was given four tickets ($100 each) to Friday night™s game, in addition to an $18 parking pass. She and her husband had plans with another couple. Sure, they could have all come to the game, but instead they decided on dinner in Manhattan. Velasquez tried to sell the tickets and the pass for $200 on Craigslist, but as of 5 p.m. she had not come close to getting rid of them.

œI got two calls, she told a reporter who responded to her ad. œOne from a guy who was going to buy them but backed out, and you.

One who did not back out was Anthony Rasile, a court clerk from Howard Beach, Queens. Although a Yankee fan, Rasile received free tickets from his daughter and thought it would be a chance to get his first look at Citi Field. He said he liked certain aspects of the new park a lot.

œI noticed the beers are $2.50 cheaper than at Yankee Stadium, he said.

But for 18-year-old Matt Bass, the game itself, not a cold beverage, was a welcome diversion. A week ago, Bass, a Westchester resident, heard these dreaded words from his girlfriend of a year: œIt™s not working out. So his father, his uncle and a cousin bought tickets and took him out to the ballgame.

Dressed in a black No. 57 Johan Santana shirt, the melancholy Bass stood at the railing behind the field-level seats behind third base before the game and motioned to the Mets™ dugout. œThey™re killing me, he said.

It’s hard to decide which is more desperate, adding insult to injury for Mr. Bass (dumped…and a Mets fan) or the notion of Waldstein being encouraged to harass women via Craigslist. Parking pass or not, however, anyone asking $50 per ticket to see a ballgame played between two teams who are combined 67 games under .500 oughta be institutionalized or indicted. But enough about Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Ms. Velazquez seems a bit out of touch, too.

Roger Clemens Can Express His Deepest Thoughts In Far Less Than 140 Characters

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The Internet at 10:49 am by

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t endorse the harassment of retired sportsmen via social networking platforms, but when the athlete in question is the newly Tweeting Roger Clemens, I’m willing to make a big exception.

Unsatisfied with The Rocket dropping such science as “”Thx to all the guys in NICKELBACK,” NY Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva couldn’t resist an opportunity to engage in one-to-one conversation with a sure-thing Hall Of Famer (if there’s such an institution for pathological liars).

Since Clemens, and these are his words (via a spokesman), œis as direct and honest in his communications on Twitter as he is face to face I decided to give him my form of direct and honest communication. After all, I pride myself on being equally direct and honest on twitter as I am in person. With that, I asked Clemens the following question:

@rogerclemens So Rocket when are you going to admit you threw at Piazza? Dont you think what happens to you is poetic justice for that act?

I didn™t expect a response since Clemens either lies or avoids the topic since it happened in 2000, but I was wrong. Here was his response:

rogerclemens @NYBD once again WEE-WAH

So there you have it folks, the intelligent discourse by the œdirect and honest former Cy Young Award WInner. How great would it be to see Piazza getting his plaque in 2013 and Clemens sitting home? Maybe we could give us some direct and honest œtweeting of Mike™s acceptance speech. Hopefully he won™t throw his laptop at the TV because he thought it was a baseball.

If the reportage of Murray Chass and Jeff Pearlman have much traction, I’m not super confident that Piazza’s being honored in 2013. Unless, of course, Silva meant the Guitar Center Hollwood Rockwalk, and their induction proceedings generally aren’t televised.

Tru Warier’s New Video : In The Rich Tradition Of Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”

Posted in Basketball, Fitness, Hip Hop at 3:53 am by

Or, if you prefer, an homage to Diana Ross’ “Muscles”.  Having already taken a bold stand against peers “who like to dress up like little girls”, Ron Artest’s new beefcake video wins the YouToob triple crown for simultaneous  offenses against fitness, fashion and hip-hop.

09.18.09

Forbidden Love In Honduran Soccer

Posted in Football, History's Great Hook-Ups at 8:00 pm by

Following an unreserved goal celebration on the part of Vida defender Brayan Beckeles and midfielder Orlin Peralta101GreatGoals.com reported “with homophobia rife in football and the players™ reputations at stake, the pair have been forced to go on the record to deny that they actually sucked face with one another, arguing that the angle of the picture distorted the real image of the pair actually kissing on the cheek.” Seems a bit unneccesary to disavow a nice affectionate moment, particuarly as no one complains when the left side of the Yankee infield does it.

Kiffin Braced For His Comeuppance

Posted in Gridiron at 7:36 pm by

So what did newly ensconced Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin (shown above, all freaky and geeky) think was going to come of his repeated baiting of Florida’s Urban Meyer? In the words of Belly Of The Beast, Monte’s kin spent the offseason “poking a sleeping Kodiak bear who, in addition to razor sharp claws and teeth, is also armed with Tomahawk missiles, an arsenal of F5 tornados and a fire-breathing, giant dragon. And that™s just on offense.” On a weekend when Kiffin would do well to concentrate on making sure QB Jonathan Crompton isn’t beaten to death by his own teammates, he’s forced to turn down the rhetoric prior to Saturday’s clash with no. 1 ranked Florida,  an event that causes the Tennessean’s David Climer to remind us, “Meyer harbored no ill will against Kiffin™s predecessor, Phillip Fulmer. And he beat UT by a combined 63 points in the last two years with Fulmer on the opposing sideline. Meyer is an equal opportunity destroyer.”

Some of Kiffin™s more pointed comments were printed out and posted around the Florida football training facilities last spring. The Gators managed to maintain focus on opening opponents Charleston Southern and Troy long enough to win by a combined 118-9. Now they have switched their full attention to UT.

It probably is not in UT™s best interest that Florida superstar quarterback Tim Tebow enters the game harboring a grudge. He is still unhappy about Kiffin™s suggestion that Meyer cheated in the recruitment of prospect Nu™Keese Richardson last winter.

If this were a spelling bee, Florida would try to run it up. In the SEC, you take no prisoners.

Although he is conceding nothing, Kiffin has spent the last few days telling everybody how great Florida is. He makes it sound like UT is going into a sword fight with a butter knife.

œI would think they™re maybe the most talented defense to ever play and maybe the best quarterback to ever play college football, he said.

Buck Returns To HBO, Minus The Only Thing That Made His Debut Watchable

Posted in Sports TV at 7:06 pm by

“I could not be more proud of our first show,” says Joe Buck of the premiere episode of “Joe Buck Live”, “from the moment I walked out on that stage till the moment I walked off.”  Buck’s opinion doesn’t seem to be shared by HBO exec Seth Greenberg, who considers Buck’s intereactions with comedian Artie Lang a foray into “dangerous territory”.   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar previews episode #2, thus sparing you the agony of watching or taping the program.

Tuesday’s “Joe Buck Live” is scheduled to include a discussion with standout former quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, John Elway and Joe Namath, a segment with two flamboyant sports-team owners from Dallas ” Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban ” as well as a conversation with outspoken former big-league pitcher Curt Schilling.

“That’s a pretty darn good guest list,” Buck said. “It’s got a lot of potential.”

But it’s far different from the opener.

“We want to get back to some bread-and-butter basics and let Joe shine where he’s comfortable,” Greenburg said. “The comedic elements didn’t necessarily work the way we wanted them to, and we feel this will put him in a real comfortable position.”

Buck, who said he was “100 percent comfortable out there” the last time, said the retooling was a mutual decision.

“We both came to the realization that in this format, under the heading of HBO Sports, I’m better off doing a show based that way and let my personality take it wherever it goes,” he said. “The stabs at comedy will be toned down, and the result will be, at least in the format, a more straightforward show.”

A Brewing Payola Scandal At SNY Narrowly Averted

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 6:50 pm by

With a handful of Mets fans chanting “Let’s Go, Giants” in the background, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen were presented with complimentary snacks by corporate sponsor Dunkin Donuts during the 2nd inning of tonight’s Nats/Amazins tilt. Upon learning the box contained bagels rather than glazed donuts, Mex angrily demanded, “get these away from me.”

Cohen raised the spectre of Brian Schneider compiling a batting average of less than .200 for the season. I suspect if Schneider reaches the final regular season game a week from Sunday hitting .199, Jerry Manuel will be mindful of the potential embarrassment….and will give the banged-up backstop another day off.

Sactown Royalty : Mason Signing Nonsensical

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down at 5:15 pm by

The Kings signed F/G Desmond Mason to a one-year deal earlier this week, despite the Oklahoma State product having played in only 19 games for the Thunder a year ago. Sacramento coach Paul Westphal rationalized the pact, partially, by declaring, “The message I want to send to the young players and probably to the loyal fans, as well, is that nobody is given playing time.” To which Sactown Royalty‘s incredulous Tom Ziller replies, “I’m not a coach, but I think there are ways to motivate young players without threatening them with a terrible, old player coming off knee surgery. Try cupcakes! Little children such Donte Greene and Omri Casspi loves cupcakes.”

That roster spot could be going to a younger player, a back-up center, a fan favorite, Chris Bosh’s best friend from third grade, a younger player, Tom Ziller or a younger player. If you were hoping for one of those guys, and instead get Desmond Mason, well that seems to be a loss. And if we get to, oh, October 10 and figure out Desmond Mason really can’t play anymore, well, then, you ain’t ever getting those preseason minutes and training camp reps back. Or the money you’re paying him to show up to training camp.

And again, Desmond Mason was not able to help anybody before his injury. He hasn’t been able to help anybody since 2004-05. Five years ago. Five. Years. Ago.

I don’t like to be pessimistic, but we are seeing the beginning of the justification for why Desmond Mason is on the court in the closing minutes of a tight game in February while Donte Greene waves a towel and Omri Casspi wishes he had a cupcake on the bench. This is not good, people.

At least with Mikki Moore we had awesome snake tattoos, and with Bobby Jackson we had everyone’s favorite King from the Glory Era. With Mason, we just have burbling anger.

Klapisch : Manuel’s Lost The Clubhouse…

Posted in Baseball at 2:49 pm by

…and it’ll take more than a Citi Field floorplan to sort him out. With the likelihood of a lower payroll in 2010, the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch suggests the coming offseason would be a good time for Fred & Jeff Wilpon “to decide if Jerry Manuel is still relevant”.

In one sense Manuel is lucky: his team is so pathetic, no one assumes the Mets will ever win another game. If they do, it™s a pleasant surprise.

Manuel™s players are taking full advantage of this late-September vacation, if not the manager himself. He keeps urging the Mets to focus, finish out strong, cling to the fundamentals that got them to the majors. But more and more, Manuel™s oratory is as substantive as vapor. He has the impact of Jeff Torborg, circa 1993.

How else to explain the growing list of mental blunders? On Sunday night, with Pedro Martinez up to his 130th pitch, Daniel Murphy, already at second base with two out and already in scoring position, gets thrown outtrying to take third on a pitch that bounced only a few feet away from the catcher.

Angel Pagan, one of the franchise™s bright spots, committed two unforgiveable base running mistakes a week ago against the Marlins. After being caught in a rundown between second and third on a grounder to short, Pagan was later doubled off second base after thinking Jeff Francoeur™s fly ball to right was the third out of the inning.

These are telltale signs that Manuel is failing at his job; he is being tuned out by players who think a) the season is beyond hope, so who cares b) the manager is incapable or unwilling to discipline anyone and c) no one™s watching.

It’s an interesting argument, though in Gangsta Jerry’s defense, it would be hard to say, for instance, that Murphy and Pagan have underachieved under his supervision. In an ideal world (ie. one in which the entire roster isn’t disabled), Murphy would be a complimentary player and Pagan wouldn’t even be on the major league roster. If it were a matter of say, Carlos Beltran or David Wright ignoring the manager, then perhaps you could conclude Manuel had lost touch with the team. Can Manuel contend in 2010 with a younger, cheaper variation on the current squad? Probably not, but unless there’s a full commitment to rebuilding — one you’re not likely to see with so many Citi suites to sell and the probable difficulty in moving the big contracts save for Wright — no manager, not even Bobby Valentine, is gonna make a substantial difference.

09.17.09

Arenas : Wizards Should’ve Saved Me (From Myself)

Posted in Basketball at 11:41 pm by

After going from expressing skepticism over Barack Obama’s candidacy to adding the President to the “Black Rushmore” series of tattoos on his leg, Wizards G Gilbert Arenas is in danger of “winding up with a wheel of Comte made out of strands of Bill Walton’s hair or something,” writes DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg. On a more serious tip, while crediting trainer Tim Grover with “saving my career”, Arenas has harsh words for his employers when it comes to trusting Agent Zero with his own injury rehab. From the Washington Times’ Mike Jones :

“They handled me going off what they had seen before and said, ‘You can’t lift weights because you might chip a bone,’ ” Arenas said. “That’s their experience. Everybody has theirs. It took me two years to realize that I was a case study. Ultimately, I can prove I can get hurt, sit out two years and come back and be as good as I was.

“If you have a kid that loves basketball, that eats, sleeps, drinks and thinks basketball and all he knows is basketball and he gets hurt and he’s your franchise player, you need to hold him back from himself,” Arenas said. “If I’m saying I feel good and you know it’s supposed to take six months, instead of letting me at four months run … they should have held me back. Rather than saying, ‘Let’s let this guy do what he wants and use him to sell tickets’ - sometimes you have to protect players from themselves. I don’t feel like I got that type of protection. But, I don’t judge them for that. Some things just happen. I told them I felt OK because I wanted to play, and they did what they did.”

Arenas – normally the one for brash predictions and bold statements – this time declines to join in.

“Where did we finish in the East last year?” he asked. “Last. Then until we prove ourselves, that’s what we are. You can’t predict. Anyone can guess where we’re gonna be at. But until the ball goes up in the air, we’re last in the East. We took some steps in the right direction this summer, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I saw. If you wanna say stuff, it’s just for conversation, just for the chat rooms. And it’s all great and wonderful, but it doesn’t mean anything.”

It’s Never Been Less Fun To Be A Big Time Collegiate QB (Or A Prude)

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron, The Internet at 5:58 pm by

“In the era of Twitter, Facebook and Deadspin.com, being the big man on campus no longer means being the life of the party,” observe the New York Times’ Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, citing the case of a girl taking off her shirt before having her photo snapped with Tim Tebow at a Gainsville, FL Radio Shack (by her mom, no less). “‘It™s happened four or five times,’ Tebow said with a sigh,” as if there wasn’t enough sacrifice in his daily do-gooder existence. Elsewhere in the piece, the dad of injured Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford complains of autograph seekers leaving swag at his doorstep, while Texas’ Heisman candidate Colt McCoy has already felt the sting of celebrity stalkers, without one penny of compensation.

(Longhorns QB Colt McCoy, being helped to his feet after being told there’s a YouTube video in circulation that portrays him as a drug pusher)

Last season a man showed up at McCoy™s apartment at 3 a.m. and woke him by beating on the door and screaming.

œHe was calling me by my first name, McCoy said. œHe was yelling at me and telling me to come outside and meet him out there in the yard.

The police were called and they took the man away, McCoy said. Shortly thereafter, McCoy and his roommates moved to a place where his pickup truck would be less visible.

McCoy said the man had been following him home after practices. Since the incident, he said, he has been more cautious about coming and going at the same time every day.

œIt was really scary at the time, McCoy said. œI really had no idea what to do, how to handle it. I was pretty kind of rattled there for a couple of weeks.

While I’d never seek to make light of a genuine threat towards McCoy, the senior signal-caller deserves considerable credit for keeping Leslie Cochrane‘s name out of the Paper Of Record. Some guys wouldn’t take the high road.

Broadcast News Vet Ernie Anastos : Striking A Blow For Chicken Fuckers Everywhere

Posted in Going To The Zoo, non-sporting journalism at 11:07 am by

Top that, Ted Baxter. It’s been said that local news programs cannot possibly compete with the the internet, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. And that’s usually correct, but in this instance, Ernie’s accomplished the near impossible — he might actually cause a few dozen more persons to watch Fox’s NYC affiliate’s evening newscast, just on the off-case Anastos might once again say the first thing that popped into his head.

Henry Gibson 1936-2009: In His Case, I Loved Illinois Nazis

Posted in The World Of Entertainment at 12:04 am by

[Gibson, offering the sort of Knute Rockne moment any number of teams could use.]

The truly subversive comedian is the rarest sort of funny.  Anyone can tell a political joke.  Anyone can tear down the rich and famous.  Audiences talk about “taking chances,” or how “edgy” such comics are,  forgetting it’s the comic’s Constitutional right to do it “ and there’s, too.  The truly subversive comic actor never lets you know they’re doing it.  Henry Gibson was one of those.  Gibson died today, 73.  Whether delivering his straight-faced beat poetry on Laugh-In, playing right-wing old school country star Haven Hamilton in Nashville,  a neo-Nazi in The Blues Brothers, or the nasty drunk ridiculing William H. Macy in Magnolia, Gibson was hilariously unsettling.  Check out the Nashville link, which someone posted on Youtube as if Gibson (who wrote the Haven Hamilton songs) meant it.  Gibson held everything back, giving his characters a puffed up, petty smugness, perfectly offset by his height and deluded sense of grandeur.  When directors knew how to get it out of him, he walks away with some pretty big movies.  As for the above clip, well, this is a sports blog, and while it might not say much that he walked away with an episode of Wonder Woman … well, of course he did.

09.16.09

(Professional) Death Of A Salesman : The Indy’s Moore On Peter Kenyon

Posted in Football at 8:23 pm by

How powerful can one person be in a particular sport without being a commissioner or a franchise’s principal owner? WIth his handiwork all over multiple franchises, Larry Lucchino would be a baseball example, though he’s never been in the awkward position of say, representing the Yankees shortly before becoming part of Red Sox management. Departing Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, however, is a rare case, having presided over the West London club’s commerical ambitions shortly after playing a high profile role in Manchester United’s transformation into a global brand. A day after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat of Porto in the Champions League, Kenyon’s exit is a matter of reflection for the Independent’s Glenn Moore, who writes, “a salesman left Stamford Bridge yesterday, not a football man.”

By circumstance or choice he has been a regular in front of the cameras, and he has often made a fool of himself when doing so. There has been the annual assertion, only recently dropped in the face of continuing mountainous losses, that Chelsea would break even as a business by the end of this season. Then there was the boast that the Premier League winners would come from “a small group of one”, followed by the demand for two Champions League successes in six years. He has said he wants Chelsea “to own London” in terms of support and will “turn the world blue”. Only this month Kenyon insisted, “I think we can win everything,” thus putting Carlo Ancelotti on notice that a quadruple was expected.

Before all this, of course, he declared that joining Manchester United was a dream come true for a lifelong fan, a love which began when his electrician father took him to Wembley to watch United lift the European Cup in 1968. He was such a fan that he walked out on Old Trafford when Roman Abramovich called, precipitating that uncomfortable afternoon of abuse, sitting alongside his own teenage son.

Chelsea supporters’ initial distrust of “the Manc in a suit” has never dissipated, rising anew after the 2008 European Cup final when Kenyon “ 40 years after cheering on United against Benfica in the final “ led Chelsea up the steps in Moscow and allowed Michael Platini to hang a loser’s medal round his neck.

The Shy, (Possibly) Retiring Scott Pollard : There Will Be No Farewell Press Conference

Posted in Basketball at 3:42 pm by

Aside from scoffing at Greg Ostertag’s reported comeback attempt (“I heard a story from a trainer in Cleveland that he worked out with them in the summer and left. He said, ˜I™ve got to go to the bathroom,™ and never came back”), journeyman benchwarmer Scott Pollard tells the Lawrence Journal-World’s Gary Bedore that an exhibition appearance against Vlade Divac’s Traveling All-Stars does not portend a return to the NBA.

œI will not hold a press conference to say I™m retired, said Pollard, who has been out of basketball since playing for the 2008 world champion Boston Celtics. œ(But) the fact I didn™t hear from more than a couple teams last year … I don™t think it™ll happen this year.

Pollard will be one of just two recognizable names (former Michigan State guard Mateen Cleaves the other) on the Midwest All-Star team that will meet the Serbian Club Partizan squad on Sept. 27 at Purdue-Calumet University in Hammond, Ind., and again on Sept. 30 at Dakota High in Macomb, Mich.

œThis is strictly something where Vlade asked me to participate. There are no former NBA players besides Mateen. It adds a little luster to the team. I™m in good enough shape to play 15 minutes. I know I can play 15 minutes in my sleep, Pollard said.

Pollard said he™d be making a trip to Los Angeles in coming weeks for negotiations that involve, œbeing in front of the camera.

Hip Hip, No Way : Posada The Instigator

Posted in Baseball at 1:57 pm by

After Edwin Encarnacion and Aaron Hill were hit by New York pitchers during Toronto’s eventful 10-4 defeat of the Yankees last night, should Jorge Posada have well expected to be brushed back (at the very least) by Jays reliever Jesse Carlson in the 8th inning?  Carlson and skipper Cito Gaston deny there was any intent, but either way, the Daily News’ Mark Feisand opines that Posada was “100% responsible for the bench-clearing brawl”.  The Journal News’ Peter Abraham is equally adamant, reminding us this morning the Yankees have hit Blue Jays batters 8 times in 5 games this month, compared to a pair of Yankee plunkings.  As such, “Posada was lucky he got a waist-high, off-speed pitch behind him and not a fastball at his noggin.”  Writing immediately after Tuesday’s fracas, Abraham was unsparing in his critcism of the Bombers’ backstop.

Jesse Carlson is a two-bit middle reliever on a fourth-place team, a 28-year-old guy who has been with four organizations. No matter where he stands or what he says or anything else, Jorge Posada needs to avoid confrontation. Give Carlson a dirty look. Don™t give MLB a reason to suspend you.

At one point in the brawl, I saw CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett wrestling with assorted Jays and Mark Teixeira having his shoulders pulled back and even Derek Jeter getting agitated. The Yankees are an old and fragile team already, risking injury because Posada is mad at the likes of Jesse Carlson is not worth losing the World Series.

The Yankees lead baseball in hit batters, which is fine. Pitchers have every right to pitch inside. But if you™re going to play it that way, you have to expect retaliation from time to time. That is how the game has been played for 100 years.

Abraham makes several excellent points, and I look forward to future Yankee overreactions when and if they’re beaned by All-Stars and Hall Of Famers. Maybe if Armando Benitez gets a spring training invite from another club next year?

09.15.09

Our Troops: All Gave Some, Some Gave All, Few Give A Shit About Andy Ashby

Posted in Baseball at 11:35 pm by

I wish the men and women of America’s armed services every good thing possible — a quick and safe trip home comes to mind, but being as they’re the ones risking getting exploded and such, I’m inclined to defer to more or less whatever it is they want. Morale boosters? Hell yeah, take what you like. Big and Rich singing the Charlie Daniels songbook a capella? Knock yourselves out, guys and gals. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’s Superman That Ho Revue (feat. Leon Isaac Kennedy, Fatman Scoop and Shanice)? It’s a free country, with free armed services, and I really do hope you enjoy that revue. But assuming that someone over there actually thought morale would be boosted by having a few ex-Big League doofs helicopter from base to base in Iraq — and this is a leap I’m not totally willing to make — couldn’t we as a nation do better than Jeff Nelson? The New York Times’ Jack Curry reports on the reliably mustachioed ex-Yankee reliever’s most recent endeavor.

œI™m going to Iraq, Nelson said. I had to ask Nelson to repeat himself, which he did. Nelson, who left for Iraq on Monday, explained to me that he had been recruited to visit the United States military as part of a good-will mission with other former players. Nelson will be joined by Trot Nixon and Andy Ashby.

…œWe send numerous inquiries to the former players that fit a certain set of criteria dictated by the military and were thrilled when Jeff, Andy, and Trot expressed interest in participating, [Pro Sports MVP corporate communications manager] Burdett said in an e-mail message.

During a 12-day tour, Nelson, Nixon and Ashby will be visiting numerous bases in Iraq and will meet between 2,000 and 3,000 servicemen and women from all branches of the military. The former players eat in the barracks with the military personnel, sign autographs, visit hospitals and give away caps and T-Shirts.

Which, you know, have at ‘em, guys. It’s awesome that those three want to help out and all, but what secret military criteria are these? Nixon hit .274 over his career; Ashby retired with a 98-110 record; Nelson had a solid career, but is perhaps best-remembered for beating up a Red Sox bullpen attendant alongside zero-time Roberto Clemente Award finalist Karim Garcia. I don’t want to tell the military how to do its job or anything, but while those three certainly meet the Mets’ criteria for a Spring Training invite — as near as I can tell, those are: pulse, big-city experience, notably diminished skills, having met Omar Minaya at a party in the ’90s — their presence on a military base doesn’t seem terribly inspiring. Still, probably better than a visit from 3 Doors Down or something.

Probably Not Available At The Citi Field Souvenir Stands

Posted in Baseball at 5:49 pm by

Faith & Fear In Flushing‘s Jason Fry and illustrator Paul Antonson are unlikely to make any friends at Parker Brothers (or in the Mets’ front office) with their equal parts Monopoly homage / Mets critique, but they’ve done a fine job of chronicling a ferociously depressing 2009 season in board-game form (image taken from WSJ.com).

Urine Trouble : LT’s Switcheroo

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 4:56 pm by

Lawrence Taylor’s been involved in shocking incidents before, but this might be one for the ages : there’s actually an episode of the Michael Kay-hosted “Centerstage” that someone besides the Kay family might want to watch. Which teammate of LT’s served up the piss-test sample that flunked?   I’m not saying, but no member of the Big Blue family  should be above suspicion.

KC’s Trey Hillman : A Staunch Opponent Of Instant Gratification

Posted in Baseball at 2:22 pm by

You might be excused from thinking an AL-worst 57-86 mark this season was an indication Trey Hillman’s tenure as manager of the Kansas City Royals was a huge failure. In fact, argues the former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters skipper, his club has much in common with (hang on) the New York Yankees, as the Star’s Bob Dutton patiently dictates.

œI don™t think all of the factors have been evaluated fairly, Hillman said. œIt all goes back to what we all get judged on ” wins and losses ” because that™s what counts in our world and in our culture of immediate satisfaction and what have you done for me today. There™s a lot that goes into (evaluating an organization).

œI know of a lot of things that are in the works for our minor-league system and our scouting department; things that I™ve seen improve just in the two years that I™ve been here.

Hillman draws parallels to his early days with the Yankees, whom he joined in 1989 as a minor-league coach before serving in their system as a manager from the following year through 2001.

œIt™s not too dissimilar, he said. œArguably, they™ve got more money than anybody else. But they didn™t make the playoffs (from 1981) until 1995 and didn™t make the World Series until ™96.

One of Dayton Moore™s first acts after a recent contract extension was to confirm Hillman will return next season to fulfill his three-year contract. The future beyond that is uncertain.

œI™d like to be here, Hillman said. œBut if I™m not here, that™s not the end game for me. I didn™t come into this with a selfish attitude, and I™m not going to go out with a selfish attitude. I just want the organization to get better.

AOR Hack / Kreator Of Karaoke Fave To Dodgers : Stop Playing “Don’t Stop Believin’”

Posted in Baseball, Rock Und Roll at 1:13 pm by

What right thinking person doesn’t wanna run for the hills upon hearing the opening notes to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”? You can add to the chorus of critics….former Journey vocalist and the song’s co-author Steve Perry, writes the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman.

Late last season, the Dodgers started playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” before the bottom of the eighth inning every night as a rally song, and Steve Perry leaves before they do.

“I have to,” he said. “I don’t want to hear it.”

Why? Because Perry is a diehard Giants fan who cannot stand the fact that the Dodgers “hijacked it first” and use it to win games.

Perry has friends on the Dodgers. He admitted it was “amazing” the first time he heard the entire stadium singing along with his voice and finds it appropriate the song is used by sports teams. Still, he said, “It tweaks me to know they’re using the song as a rally song. I really wish we’d have hijacked it first. I think the song is about hope and power, and it’s working for them, damn it.”

Perry gets a royalty every time the Dodgers play it, but said, “It’s not enough to get me a latte at Starbucks.”

As Schulman points out, Perry was significantly less bothered when his song was hijacked by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

09.14.09

The Fiver On Adebayor’s Provocation

Posted in Football at 10:23 pm by

“It is easy in the cold light of day, when the adrenalin has died down,” insisted Manchester City manager Mark Hughes of Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal celebration (and face-kicking of former Arsenal teammate Robin Van Persie) on Saturday, ” to talk about what players should and shouldn’t do in that situation.” To which the Guardian’s John Ashdown replies, “it doesn’t take the cold light of day to realise that what players shouldn’t do if ‘that situation’ involves scoring a goal against a former club is charge 90 yards to celebrate in front of your opponents’ supporters.”

Once upon a time it was enough to do the Hulk Hogan thing (You know, where he’d twirl his hand round and cup it to his ear, and everyone would cheer, and you’d pretend to tear apart your little yellow ‘Hulkster’ vest and pump your little pythons and then Mrs Fiver would come in and tell you to switch that rubbish off and get ready for work). It was a subtle, almost jokey gesture – ‘Who’s booing now?’ – which would always lead to extra vitriol next time that player touched the ball. Now it seems ear-cupping just won’t do.

“It was silly to run up in front of the Arsenal fans, but these people have been insulting me all game,” was Adebayor’s excuse, but any player who drinks in the adulation of fans when playing for their team has to accept that those same fans will (usually, though not always) turn once he pulls on the shirt of another club, particularly if his departure was an acrimonious one. That said, those fans losing the run of themselves to the point of a steward being knocked unconscious by, what was in essence, a man sliding on his knees on some grass, are guilty of the biggest over-reaction since the 50ft woman went through puberty. Classless, crass and dense to the point of collapsing in on itself – after a week in the international wilderness, it’s good to have the Premier League back.

John Henry : Why All The Hatred For Papi?

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 7:10 pm by

Have you wondered at all recently what would cause Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry to stop Tweeting? Me neither, but as the prog-rocking Harry Anderson lookalike explains in a NESN.com blog, it’s because of the harsh treatment meted out to “a humble, soft-spoken, gentle giant prepared to do whatever is asked of him as long as it benefits those who are less fortunate.”

David Ortiz played a central role in our two World Series championships with a warmth and good-naturedness that helped redefine a franchise and a region. His impact and heroics illustrated for all of us that when the chips are down, one man can lift an entire community on his shoulders — not just a baseball team.

He continually gave us glimpses of what we are all capable of.  He represented the Boston Red Sox in a way that every owner dreams about. He was always accessible to the media when others were not.  He™s been a stand-up guy in every conceivable way for seven years.

But when his name was illegally leaked from a list of players — many of whom (not all) “tested positive” for performance-enhancing drugs “ the Boston media (and some members in particular) went after him without hesitation or restraint.  Even after David offered an articulate defense of his actions, no member of the media said that perhaps there had been a rush to judgment, or that perhaps their remarks should be reexamined, or that perhaps, given their knowledge of David’s character, he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

I stopped writing during that period.

The Hooded Casanova’s Turn Ons : Ralph Malph, The Boss, Croatia

Posted in Gridiron at 5:58 pm by

With both clubs donning oh-so-sweet AFL throwbacks, New England and Buffalo are preparing to kick off their respective seasons in about an hour, and what better time to consider the rich, interior life of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick?  The Providence Journal’s Shalise Manza Young quizzed the grumbly MILF magnet, and here’s a few of the highlights.

My favorite television shows: From the black and white era it was The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, [The ] Untouchables. After college, All in the Family, Happy Days, Seinfeld, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet ” Wild Kingdom and Big Cat Diary, Rescue Me. In sports I have to hand it to NFL Films Presents (Super Bowls XXI, XXV, XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) and their other great shows.

The last concert I went to: I caught a few songs from Sugarland and Kenny Chesney here at (Gillette) Stadium in July. My most frequent concerts have been Bon Jovi and Springsteen.

My favorite athletes in another sport: Growing up it would have been Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino by a landslide [both played at Navy, where Steve Belichick coached for over 30 years]. And Rocky Colavito in baseball. My favorites from other sports were and will always be Bobby Orr, Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Arnold Palmer.

One place I’d like to visit that I haven’t yet: Croatia. It’s a beautiful country and that’s where my roots are. One of these days I’m going to get there.

Metsradamus : Pedro’s Sunday Night Gem Was The Final Insult

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 1:23 pm by

In seven starts for Philadelphia, Pedro Martinez has compiled a record of 5-0, striking out 34 in 37 innings with an ERA of 2.87. This is the same Martinez who was deemed surplus to Mets requirements last spring, unworthy of consideration compared to the likes of Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia. After watching Pedro beat the Mets for the second time of late, hurling 8 scoreless innings in the Phillies’ 1-0 win last night, Metsradamus writes the Not-So-Amazins’ elimination had to come at the hands of “…Pedro, Met hat still on his head as you refreshed the Yahoo boxscore to show you that a guy wearing a Met hat was pitching to another guy in another Met hat.”

While I will not sit here and tell you that this game was proof that the Mets should have signed Petey this season, it is the perfect cherry to top this torturous sundae of a season … listening to Philadelphia Phillie fans chant “Let’s Go Pedro”. My hope is that the owners of this team, who are probably off toasting their new ballpark at a swanky lounge at this hour just as they foolishly bragged about their new ballpark mere hours after the Mets were eliminated in 2008, are locked in a room and made to watch this broadcast over and over again until their eyes bleed.

And the sound has to be up. They have to listen to those Phillie fans. They have to listen to Joe Morgan morph into Nipsey Russell with his stupid poetry. And they have to hear Steve Phillips wonder if Pedro was going to come out for the ninth inning after a pinch hitter was already announced. Eyes open, ears open … for the entire three hours. Multiple times a day, until their sufficiently tortured, or at least as tortured as I am at this hour.

The only hope now for the Mets to get themselves a World Series trophy is to have Kanye West storm the October podium and steal it.