12.24.09

Walt Frazier, You Shouldn’t Have

Posted in Basketball at 12:24 pm by

OK, granted, this is a cheap gift.  But I’ll take it over a warehouse full of these any day of the week.

12.23.09

Floyd Mayweather : Anti-Doping Zealot, Or Just Plain Chicken?

Posted in Boxing at 10:08 pm by

(I suspect Manny’s clean, but can we arrange a piss test for the guy on the left? image taken from Saddo Boxing.com)

Of Floyd Mayweather’s insistence that Manny Pacquiao submit to Olympic-style blood tests at any point prior to their mooted March 13 megabout, promoter Bob Arum argues such conditions prove “that Floyd never really wanted the fight and this is just harassment of Pacquiao.” Mayweather countered with “in a fight of this magnitude, I think it is our responsibility to subject ourselves to a sportsmanship at the highest level.”  The Rumble’s Avi Korine seems to be in line with Arum’s assessment, opining, “Mayweather’s insistence on drug testing, to the point of threatening the biggest fight in boxing history, seems to me an acknowledgement of self-doubt.”

If the anger and distraction of being an accused steroid cheat might infuriate and shake Pacquiao’s focus, might the much more unsettling view be that the fighter opposite you has an illegal advantage you can’t compete with? Might this be the first time in his life that Mayweather has ever stepped into a ring with fear and doubt in his mind?

Mayweather has had forty fights to this point and has never insisted on special stipulations like this. Whether there is reason to be suspicious of Pacquiao or not it clearly reflects Mayweather’s concerns. He has fought forty times using the official rules of boxing, but this time he wants more. It’s kind of like asking for a 30 foot ring. Yeah, fights are always in a ring, so what’s the problem with a 30 foot ring? You can look at it like Pacquiao is scared of taking a drug test, but it is Mayweather who is asking for something unusual.

CSTB Guest Editorial : Salon Is A Hotbed Of Anti-Equine Sentiment

Posted in Going To The Zoo, Horse Racing, Sports Journalism at 9:17 pm by

(Editor’s Note : Melissa Bryan graciously forwarded a link to a Salon column by Kate Harding entitled, “Can Women Rock Sports? AP Says ‘Neigh’”. Cruelly denied equal time by Salon, occasional CSTB scribe / scourge of Leo Durocher’s existence, Mr. Ed responds -GC ).

Hey, everybody. It’s been a while since your jerkface editor — a man so disliked, even TMZ thinks he’s unfit to sift thru Tom Brady’s garbage cans — saw fit to give me access to his 3 dozen readers. And I wish he wouldn’t bother!  While the rest of you losers are cyberstalking Michelle Beadle and preparing for another Christmas ALONE, I’m getting more action than Eldrick Woods (and I’m paying a lot less for the privilege).

But I digress.  Salon’s Kate Harding threw a media pundit shit-fit over the AP’s 2009 Female Athlete Of The Year poll, one in which Breeders Cup winner Zenyatta finished a distant second to Serena Williams, and  Belmont Stakes victor Rachel Alexandra came in 7th behind UConn hoops standout Maya Moore.  And to be totally truthful, I was disappointed in the AP’s results, too.  No love for soccer thug Liz Lambert?  Zero recognition for South African track and field pioneer Caster Semenya? Clearly, these AP voters care even less about women’s sports than this blog’s publisher.

However, that’s not the source of Harding’s gripe. “I can’t help noticing,” she wrote “that Zenyatta and Alexandra are not human, which — call me speciesist — is something I usually expect from an ‘athletes of the year’ list. Perhaps if the AP folks had given the subject a bit more thought, they might instead have chosen to honor, say, Rosemary Homeister, who in 2009 became the second most successful female jockey of all time. Or, you know, any other two women in sports, leaving Zenyatta and Rachel to duke it out for Horse of the Year. Something more like that?”

I’m sorry, but did we learn absolutely nothing this year from “District 9″? Much the way great sportspersons/pioneers such as Semenya, Renee Richards and John Kruk have forced the world to reconsider outdated gender roles, maybe the AP ought to be applauded for looking past something as ultimately trivial in 2009 as species? Certainly Harding has a point when complaining none of the male athletes on their 2009 list had to share the top ten with horses, but that list is a farce, too! Some jumpsuit-wearing d-bag driving around in a circle is a better athlete than than this glorious competitor? I (fucking) think not.

There’s some precedent for the AP’s ranking horses alongside humans. Secretariat only finished 6th amongst male athletes in 1973, despite winning the Triple Crown. Naturally, the human-biased sports media sided with such flash in the pans as Hank Aaron, Bill Walton and some nobody named O.J. Simpson. Apathy towards female athletics is regrettable, sure. Maybe even inexcusable if you fancy yourself a halfway intelligent sports fan. But must Harding diminish the achievements of my stall sisters just to advance her own horse-hating agenda?

Terry O’Riley & Mike Milbury : Tru Wariers On Skates

Posted in Hockey at 2:00 pm by

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Boston Bruins players climbing the glass at MSG to do battle with Rangers fans, an occasion marked duly by the New York Times’ Dave Seminara‘s humorous description….and a reminder Peter McNabb was usually “the guy who™d pick up our gloves for us after a fight.”

“I grabbed his shoe, took a little tug on it, and then sort of double pumped, Milbury said. œI don™t know if I hesitated for a minute because I thought I™d be vilified for the next 30 years, but I gave him a cuff across the leg, and then I did what I thought was probably the most egregious thing of all: I threw his shoe on the ice.

Eighteen Bruins went into the stands. Milbury said, œIf you watch the tape ” and I can freely throw my teammates under the bus now after 30 years ” people were throwing some serious shots down below us that were obscured by the fact that everybody was focusing on the idiot highest up in the stands hitting somebody with a shoe.

Bruins fans, in particular, still relish the incident. E. M. Swift, who covered hockey for Sports Illustrated, played in a college game in 1972 when one of his Princeton teammates was beaten with a œstale Italian sub by the Colgate athletic director while he grappled with Milbury. œWe hate everything New York here in Boston, he said, œso the fact that it was the Rangers and New Yorkers getting beaten with a shoe, those guys are folk heroes up here.

œUnder the same circumstances, I don™t think I™d go through a process of sorting through the rules and regulations and legal consequences, Terry O™Reilly said. œI think I™d jump over the glass and grab the guy again.

Nick Steiner At Hardball Times: ERA Ain’t All That

Posted in Baseball at 2:42 am by

Phyllis Schlafly: Not happy with Win-Loss, either.

In a fascinating bit of hot stove nerdery, Nick Steiner at Hardball Times uncovers a new possible weakness in the ERA statistic in an innovative, defense-independent way.  Long story short, he took AJ Burnett’s ten best 2009 outings (average outing: 1.06) and ten worst (average outing: 9.13) then looked at his stuff, location and pitch selection and found that AJ throws just about exactly the same when he’s getting shelled as when he’s dealing.

In his 10 best starts, he averaged a Game Score of 70.9. In his 10 worst starts, he averaged a Game Score of 31.9. More intuitively, his ERA was 1.06 in his good starts compared to 9.13 in his bad starts… quite the difference.

I then grabbed all of the PITCHf/x information on those two groups of starts. In case you are unfamiliar with it, PITCHf/x is a ball- tracking technology powered by SportVision, which measures certain key characteristics of each pitched ball, including speed, spin deflection (movement) and location. After manually classifying Burnett’s pitches game-by-game (yes this was a pain), I was ready to look at the data.

My agenda was simple. I wanted to see, using the intrinsic qualities of each pitch, exactly how differently he pitched in his best and worst starts of the season. I looked at three variables: stuff, location and approach.

…[I] found no meaningful differences in terms of what he threw, the velocity/movement of his pitches, where he threw them and when he threw them. I think I’ve established that there was practically no difference in how he pitched in his good starts compared to his bad starts.

12.22.09

Sheenan On The Braves’ Winter Fire Sale

Posted in Baseball at 5:20 pm by

A week after unloading reliever Rafael Soriano, Atlanta traded starter Javier Vazquez (above) today to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera, a series of developments Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheenan decries as “the latest example of why Liberty Media’s ownership of the Braves is starting to make Jeffrey Loria’s stewardship of the Marlins look inspired.”

With six starting pitchers after the healthy return of and contract agreement with Tim Hudson, the Braves have been looking to strike a deal all winter that would swap a starter for a hitter. With little outside interest in Derek Lowe, however, the Braves instead executed another salary dump, trading their best pitcher last season, Javier Vazquez, also with one year left on his deal, to the Yankees for Melky Cabrera. There are prospects involved on both sides, but the lesson is the same: the Braves made themselves worse entirely so that Liberty Media wouldn’t possibly have to use the red font in its spreadsheets. Vazquez makes $11.5 million in 2010, Cabrera will make about $4 million, maybe a little less (I’m guessing here, because of Cabrera’s arbitration eligibility). That’s $7.5 million in Liberty’s pockets, on top of the $7.5 million they saved on Soriano, for $15 million saved in two trades that make the team worse by maybe four games, maybe more, in 2010. Not that four wins is pretty much the difference in making the playoffs and not in the NL just about every season, and not that Liberty Media cares. They care that the Braves have positive cashflow, and everything else is irrelevant.

This stinks, and it doesn’t stink because the Yankees just added an expensive player. It stinks because there’s no reason why the Braves had to make either trade other than that Liberty Media wants this division of its billon-dollar conglomerate to spend a certain amount of money, and no more than that.

“You make investments with an eye towards maximizing returns,” argues Sheenan, ” and everything else”pointing to the Yankees, whining about the arbitration process, demonizing Scott Boras, lying about revenues”is just a distraction from that central point.” And while I’m mostly pleased to see Vazquez leaving the NL East, as Sheenan points out, this is hardly the way Ted Turner would’ve handled a team with a chance to contend in 2010.

The Day The Sports Blogging Cried (Or, A Potential WIndfall For Women Drinking With Josh Hamilton)

Posted in Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 4:14 pm by

Reduced to quoting my own tweets 3 days before Xmas! But if you think my situation is somewhat desperate, imagine the real-life work environment of Deadspin’s A.J. Daulerio, who upon learning of TMZ’s plans, wrote “I already have to worry about one scary gay tyrant breathing down my neck, now I have to worry about two? No longer will Daulerio’s highly-trafficked site have a monopoly on pictures of Ben Rothelisburger boozing it up or tales of Sean Salisbury’s phone-cam woes, but if you think A.J.’s just gonna wave a white flag, think again.

Remember ” we pay, too. Probably on a less frequent basis than they do, but should the right thing come along that I feel Deadspin could benefit from, I’ll gladly pay for it. It’s only happened once before, but if I have to start being more aggressive about using this burlap sack of scuzz money I have sitting on my desk, then so be it.

The “once before” occasion Daulerio recalls was Deadspin paying $4k (after a thrilling bidding war/tie with The Dirty.com) for documentation of Josh Hamilton’s January 2009 lapse into typical hetereosexual jock behavior. Lest you find such checkbook jello-shot journalism distasteful, Daulerio argues, “if it’s a good enough story that will help keep the lights on at this organization so that Craggs, Dash, Drew, Leitch, Barry and other writers can do more less sleaze-covered stories that are the true heart of this website, I’ll do it in a second.’

There’s obviously gonna be some difference of opinion over exactly what is at the true heart of that website, but I totally empathize with A.J.’s situation.  I’m losing a brutal pageview battle with high school newspapers and this paradigm-smasher, but don’t think I’m unwilling to get my hands dirty.  I’ll pay $15 (fifteen) U.S. dollars for video or still photography of Mike Piazza and Sam Champion shopping at Crate & Barrel, and if that’s what it takes to allow the likes of Jason Cohen, David Roth, Rob Warmowski, Ben Schwartz, Chuck Meehan or Liz Clayton to continue posting for free when they could be doing something far more lucrative, that’s exactly what I’ll do.  Despite the fact they’d probably be doing it anyway and it’s just about me keeping the Yardbarker ad money.

Note To Jim Zorn : THIS Is A Properly Executed Fake Kick….

Posted in Gridiron at 4:08 pm by

….over and over again! Who amongst us wouldn’t love to see Hunter The Punter throwing himself to the ground, face-first? Yes, I know the Redskins were attempting a fake field goal (TWICE), but what could be a worse result than throwing into quadruple coverage?

MJ To Chicago Grocers : You’ve Made A Big Mis-steak

Posted in Basketball, The Law, The Marketplace at 1:23 pm by

NBC Chicago’s Matt Barstock reports Michael Jordan is suing a pair of Chicago grocery chains for using his likeness in full page advertisements that appeared in a recent S.I. commemorative issue marking Jordan’s entry into the Basketball Hall Of Fame.

In the Jewel ad, a pair of red and white sneakers with the number 23 on the tongues are an “inaccurate and misleading copy of Air Jordan basketball shoes,” says the lawsuit. Above the shoes, a message congratulates the “fellow Chicagoan who was ‘just around the corner’ for so many years.”
Jewel’s current slogan is “Good things are just around the corner.”

The complaint says that the Dominick‘s ad calls Jordan “a cut above” and then features a photograph of a cut of steak. At the bottom of the page is a coupon for a Rancher’s Reserve steak, a trademark of Dominick’s parent Safeway, reports the Chicago Tribune.

But there are already two steakhouses and an online steak company named after Jordan. There is no way he would ever allow his name to be used by the grocery store, “especially not to sell steaks in direct conflict with his restaurants,” as the suit says.

12.21.09

Warning To All Pundits : Compare Calipari To Hitler, Pol Pot At Your Own Risk

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 11:51 pm by

(above, Calipari shown during his tenure at the University Of Massachusetts)

University Of Kentucky head coach John Calipari shrugged off Bobby Knight’s recent criticism to lead the Wildcats to a lopsided beating of Drexel tonight, the program’s 2000th all-time victory. A day before reaching said historic mark, Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones claimed ESPN scribe/TV yapper Jemele Hill was called on the carpet by her employers after comparing Coach Cal to a former Dennis Wilson collaborator.

Hill was forced to apologize to UK on Friday after she took a shot at Calipari and the UK fanbase on the awful show ESPN œFirst Take. On the show, Jemele Hill said (and I am paraphrasing) that UK fans would be fine with œCharles Manson as coach, so long as he won. Not surprisingly, the powers that be at UK were upset with the comment and the two or three fans that actually watch that show were outraged as well.

That set the ball rolling and according to the sources, ESPN forced Hill to call Mitch Barnhart and the SEC office in order to apologize. Coming on the heels of the problems with Pat Forde and the infamous Bobby Knight comments, Hill was forced to attempt to salvage a relationship (that of ESPN and UK) that has been deteriorating over the last couple of months. According to the sources, Hill called Barnhart and actually said very little, instead listening to an irate Kentucky Athletic Director go into detail as to his problems with her comments and that of other ESPN personalities in general. She was then forced to call the SEC office and apologize (or as another source put it œexplain) the comments to them as well.

For The Sake Of A Nation’s Mental Health, Will Someone Please Confiscate The Iron Sheik’s Video Camera?

Posted in Free Expression, Professional Wrestling at 2:47 pm by

How advanced is the Iron Sheik‘s brand of shoot-style dementia? I’ll put it this way : he might be the only person less qualifed to care for Frances Bean Cobain than her birth mother.

Wetzel On Favre’s Unseemly Diss Of Childress

Posted in Gridiron at 2:35 pm by

(two more guys Brett Favre isn’t listening to, either)

Of his rebuff of Brad Childress’ attempted substitution in favor of Tarvaris Jackson during last night’s 26-7 loss to Carolina, Vikings QB Brett Favre called it “a heated conversation”.  How might the spurts media have treated, say, Donovan McNabb had the Iggles QB refused to leave a game? I’m gonna take a wild guess very few observers would’ve hailed McNabb’s competitive spirit.  Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel considers Favre’s insubordination, writing “when you install Brett Favre as your quarterback, you don™t get to make a second decision…you™re all in with this guy, or he™s going to defy you on the sideline, argue with you in the media and keep inviting sacks while waiting to throw balls all over the field.”

As Brett conveniently mentioned, he was sacked four times and rushed a million more. Julius Peppers(notes) all but lined up in the Vikings backfield. The offensive line was terrible.

Then again, did Brett Favre really need to mention it? When it goes bad for Tom Brady(notes), he takes the blame and defends his teammates™ talent, effort, performance. When it goes bad for Favre, he starts talking about secrets.

While Favre was rushed and pressured as he went 17-of-27 for 224 and one pick, he could™ve avoided at least a couple of those sacks. The guy holds onto the ball forever trying to make crazy plays, just one reason he™s become so easy to take down. Yes, his line was lousy, but he could™ve adjusted.

Perhaps that™s why Childress was willing to sit a man he all but begged to come out of retirement, allowed to skip training camp and watched earn MVP talk “ for Jackson, presumably, a player who™s thrown 15 passes all season.

Braves Fans Face A Season Of Televised Torture…

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 2:32 pm by

…but enough about Billy Wagner’s return to the National League. Following his recent dismissal by Turner Sports, malaprop-prone mouthpiece Chip Caray is once again amongst the gainfully employed, reports Bowman’s Blog :

Chip Caray received an early Christmas present on Monday morning, when Fox Sports Net hired him to serve as their play-by-play announcer for all the Braves games televised by Fox Sports South and SportSouth.

This arrangement will allow Caray to once again call a majority of the televised Braves games. During the past two seasons, he saw his workload with the Braves limited by the travel requirements that came with TBS’ national baseball package

12.20.09

At Long Last, 2 Things Alan Nero And I Can Agree Upon

Posted in Baseball, Free Expression at 7:48 pm by

1) One Bengie Molina headline is enough for a Sunday at CSTB.

2) The twee revival has really gone too far. (video/song by Mike Massaroli)

N8′s Agent : Fewer Comparisons To Satan, Please

Posted in Basketball at 2:33 pm by

A couple of days after The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola suggested the Knicks send Eddy Curry to the D-League (perhaps he thought the “D” stood for “dinner”, “dessert” and “delicious”),  Isola and colleague Matt Gagne report fellow benchwarmer Nate Robinson is demanding a trade.

“I can’t allow Nate to rot on Mike’s bench and not do anything about it. I can’t allow this to happen to his career,” Aaron Goodwin told the Daily News in a telephone interview. “It’s clear that Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to play him.”

Before the game in Chicago, D’Antoni insisted that he had nothing personal against Robinson and joked to reporters that he would “play Satan himself” it would help the Knicks win.

Goodwin, however, believes D’Antoni has issues with his client that are not basketball-related.

“When he says that he’d play Satan to help him win, I don’t know what type of message he’s trying to convey,” Goodwin said. “But clearly this is personal.”

It is unclear if the Knicks have given Goodwin permission to seek trade possibilities on his own. By re-signing with the Knicks as a restricted free agent, Robinson is in position to veto any potential trade, although he likely wouldn’t do so given the circumstances.

Over the course of the diminutive point guard’s benching, the Knicks have won 5 of 8 games — more than half their total wins this season.  It’s a small sample size, but at the moment, D’Antoni can be excused for focusing on something other than the 2-time slam dunk champion’s career.

It Could Be Worse – At Least No One Is Selling Bengie Molina Beaujolais

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 2:24 pm by

“Marked down from like $5 million per year?” asks intrepid wine reporter David Roth.  “(In Schneider’s case) I have no idea how this is still going for $10, but… yeah. I’m waiting until it hits $3, at which point I’ll write a prissy Robert Parker-style review at CSTB.”  There’s at least one person in the NYC area that might consider a bottle of “Abreu’s Finest” an appropriate aphrodisiac, but I’m not about to forward the message.

The Science Of Sleep & The End Of The Morning Shootaround

Posted in Basketball, Medical Science at 2:17 pm by

(former Sonics/Bucks/Knicks fixture Vin Baker — who knows how his career might’ve been extended by a few extra hours in bed?)

Maybe Allen Iverson was onto something after all?   The morning shootaround “may soon be extinct, another dusty exhibit in basketball history, next to the peach basket, the two-handed set shot and John Stockton™s short shorts,” writes the New York Times’ Howard Beck, of a growing trend amongst NBA clubs to prioritize sleep.

Three teams ” the Celtics, the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers ” have dropped the morning shoot-around. The Knicks now hold them only for road games. The Denver Nuggets dropped them last week. The Washington Wizards are experimenting without them, though only in spots.

A growing interest in sleep science ” and a recognition that players need more time to recharge ” is fueling the trend. Simply speaking, N.B.A. players often fail to get enough sleep.

The typical night game ends at about 10 p.m. By the time players shower, dress and speak with the news media, it is close to 11 p.m. They are usually famished, so everyone eats a late dinner. Even the most conservative players ” those who do not frequent nightclubs ” will not get to sleep until at least 2 a.m. If the team is traveling, players may not reach their hotel until 3 a.m.

For a shoot-around or practice that starts at 10 a.m., players have to arrive as early as 9 a.m. to lift weights, receive treatment or be taped.

œIf you go three, four, five days in a row with less than six hours of sleep, your reaction time is comparable to that of someone legally drunk, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. œYou™re trying to play a basketball game where just a 10th of second, a degree off, throws your whole game off.

12.19.09

There’s No Money In The CSTB Budget For A Xmas Party…

Posted in Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll at 7:24 pm by

…because I blew it all on the above event, happening tomorrow night.  Most of it on catering.

The Golden Boys
Sex Advice
Flesh Lights
Dated

The “G” in GM Isn’t for Genius: Cubs Send Milton Bradley to Seattle

Posted in Baseball at 5:51 pm by

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/david-kaplan-chicago-sports/milton-bradley-cubs.jpg

[Pictured: a high maintenance, overrated, unreasonable impediment to the 2009 Cubs.  And on the right, Milton Bradley.]

Has the ship sailed on “cash for clunkers” as a punchline?  Bradley goes to the Mariners and the Cubs receive $9 mil in cash over two years plus P Carlos Silva.  Bradley is owed around $21 mil (although reports now say 23) and Silva is owed slightly more over two years including a minimum $2 mil buyout in 2012 (or $12 mil if he plays, as reported on ESPN).  As for Silva, the Cubs managed to keep Rich Harden up and running against all odds (albeit, odds set by sports writers) and the North Siders managed to rehabilitate Kerry Wood into a closer before trading him.  The Cubs turned Ryan Dempster into a starter.  For everything lacking in Hendryville, handling pitchers hasn’t been a problem, esp following Dusty Baker.  Ok, ok, they can’t get Zambrano to eat all his bananas and get his Lasik surgery, but no one’s perfect.  Worst case scenario, the Cubs just ate $12 mil.  Best, Silva can rehab into a starter or mid-game reliever.  That said, I hope Silva likes Iowa in July.

As for the Bradley autopsy, his 2009 stats “ .257 BA, 12 HRs, and 40 RBIs “ speak for themselves.  He’s a player with a laundry list of embarrassing public outbursts, no perceivable filter in choosing when to stand one’s ground or blow up over slights/imagined insults.  MB’s confrontational career, willingness to publicly make accusations of racism about fans, players, and dismiss the sporting press as Uncle Toms or with total silence “ all of that is well documented.  As for his saying Wrigley was a negative environment in which to play, well, given his past, you could argue he thrives on that.   So what happened?  Bradley got hurt early-on and his average for the season never recovered.  It’s certainly fair to point out how overpaid Bradley was in his $30 mil deal given his considerable history of bench surfing.

However, for the Bradley mess, I blame Jim Hendry.  The day he signed MB, Chicago sports hacks and beat reporters attacked Bradley personally as, among other things, a “nutbag.”  Most disturbing to me was the argument that given Wrigley’s history of racist fans taunting their own players, Bradley would not hold up under the pressure.  The total acceptance of racism as an unquestioned Given at Wrigley, and that it was only Bradley’s problem to deal with, is sick.  You’d think Jim Hendry woulda fired back “ defended his $30 million deal, denounced racist fans, or deny and defend the Cub fan base (well, if he seriously could do the last, which he can’t).  Hendry did none of it.  It set the tone for the season, of hanging the combative Mr. Bradley out to dry.  Injuries, the 2-game suspension (which MLB reduced), and other gaffes and errors were left to a hateful press corps and disgruntled fans.  I covered the Chi media racism angle here, here, and hereSports on My Mind‘s MODI pretty much summed my complaints here, and added some points of his own worth reading.

For Milton Bradley, 2009 was a relatively calm year:  did he charge fans, announcers, or call a Cub player racist, as he did the Dodgers’ Jeff Kent? Instead, Hendry stood by as Cub fans got labeled racists by the press and other ballplayers (one of whom, OF Mike Cameron, he hoped to sign as Bradley’s replacement ).   But Bradley finally went Too Far for Hendry by snapping back at fans who grew to hate him, saying, “And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.”  That comment and pulling himself from the line-up in the Cubs’ (by then) futile division bid brought about a temper tantrum from Hendry in the form of a 15-game suspension.  The resulting message to MLB: Bradley is impossible.  It damaged him as a trade option so much that Hendry sucked up the Silva deal yesterday.  Nicely handled, Mr. H, it only cost the Cubs $12 mil to shut Milton Bradley up and scapegoat him for a mediocre season all-around.  The press greeted Bradley’s signing by saying Wrigley fans were trash. Bradley got a 15-game suspension for finally coming to agree with that.

Hendry was named Cubs GM in 2002.  There’s always been drama on his watch.  This is the same Hendry era that treated Sammy Sosa like a dog on his way out, no matter how much he did to turn the Cubs around in the public’s mind as a team that could win.  Spin it this way “ he treated Sammy like a dog no matter how much f’n money Sosa minted for the Cubs.  Yeah Sosa was a pill toward the end, but he was LEAVING.  Hendry’s tenure in the front office has been one long class-free high-maintenance soap opera:  Sosa, Baker, Jones, Pierre, and Hawkins all left the Friendly Confines on bad terms (ok, Hawkins was awful).  Even Greg Maddux left on bad terms on his second run with the Cubs.  Of course Milton Bradley didn’t work out with Hendry.  Who does?

Wait, you know who had a great time on Hendry’s Cubs?  Kerry Wood.  Hendry dumped years and 10s of millions into that guy, and for what?  Wood picked up bonus money and options and sucked up to fans.  He started a charity bowling event and took out big newspaper ads thanking fans when he left town.  Wood slipped in hot tubs and missed spring training, sat on the bench for years, all while resisting a lower-paying closer job (and contributing nothing while he did it), and reminding us all what an amazing rookie year he had.  Kerry Wood’s inability to heal any injury makes me wonder if he isn’t lost Russian royalty.  Kerry Wood is Wrigley personified, all Aw Shucks charm and no results.

The question in my mind isn’t who will replace Bradley in CF, but who will replace him as Hendry’s next problem player.  I’m guessing another mediocre year from Zambrano will mean Big Z v Hendry in 2010.  Z fits the pattern right now:  expensive, once great, an ego problem, and possible trade bait.  He’s also not white, which is another unfortunate pattern here.

Klapisch : Mets Rebuild Oughta Include Moving Santana

Posted in Baseball at 3:40 pm by

While one New York paper raises the possibility the Mets are only bidding against themselves for Jason Bay, Fox Sports’ Bob Klapisch advises GM Omar Minaya to pursue an entirely different path and trade P Johan Santana while the talismanic starter’s value is still relatively high.  “Dealing the franchise™s best pitcher would be tantamount to surrender,” admits Klapisch, “but it would be at least be an honest admission to fans.”

Santana was supposed to deliver the Mets a pennant when he signed in 2007, so in a sense he has failed them. But it™s the Mets who are the guilty party; they™ve sabotaged Santana from Day 1.

They™ve given him no help with pitchers who™ve either been injured (Maine), have regressed (Pelfrey) or were never worth the money (Perez, $36 million for three years).

Still, the Mets have to make peace with the idea that the Santana experiment has failed, just as the Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez and Billy Wagner gambles all turned to vapor. Yet, they continue to chase The Next Great Star as if this was 2006 and they were one player away from greatness.

Actually if the Mets were capable of making a cold business decision, they™d even dangle David Wright and Jose Reyes. Wright, in particular, could bring a bundle of prospects in return — and who knows, he might just welcome a trade since he™s playing in a new ballpark he obviously hates.

But the Mets could never part with either Wright or Reyes. They™re Home-grown talent; the emotional attachment is too strong. Santana™s place in the Met family is cemented only by cash.

Though the entire article, Klapisch makes a number of salient points.   No one in their right mind (or for that matter, Minaya) believes giving Benjie Molina a three-year deal is going to solve anything.  But I have a slightly hard time with the assertion Santana has “failed”.  Short of serving as his own catcher and/or pitching on zero days rest, could Santana have done any more to put the club on his back during September of ’08?

WSC Insists UK Broadsheet Headlines Are Overblown

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 2:02 pm by

“One of the most common headlines in sports writing is an insistence on using ‘insist’, one of the few legacies of the recently deceased, but stylistically unlamented, Ceefax” insists (ahem) When Saturday Comes Daily’s Ian Plenderleith.  Let’s not even consider whether not the mutinous players of QPR insisted they’d never play for head-butt specialist Jim Magliton, as Plenderleith has some other brazen examples ;

Before Liverpool’s home game with Man Utd, the
Daily Telegraph ran a story on its site with the headline Jamie Carragher insists United will face backlash. The image you have is of Jamie Carragher picking up the phone, chin out, all aggrieved and badgering a Telegraph reporter time and again with his views, then waiting outside his house to repeat himself once more for good measure. OK, that image fits pretty well with the Liverpool captain, but what he actually said in the story was: “We’ve got a lot of fight and character and will want to show that against United, particularly after what happened against Lyon.” Nothing quite as violent as a “backlash” and more the sound of a man responding to a question than of someone insisting on anything.

On to the Independent, where a story about Leicester City’s attempt to sign Edgar Davids was headed Mandaric insists Foxes have muscle to sign Davids. Then you read the story and find that Leicester’s owner Milan Mandaric is not really insisting anything at all but pointing out: “We are in conversation with Edgar and his agent, and at this point that’s all I can say. We are progressing and it is potentially exciting, of course, but we are not there yet.” And there was nothing about having big muscles either.

The same paper managed to cast a quasi-sexual shadow over the story that Fabio Capello said the issue of whether or not he will select Michael Owen had turned the player into his tormentor. I’m tormented by Owen obsession, says Capello ran the headline, evoking pictures of the fiendish England manager in his cellar surrounded by walls covered in Owen memorabilia, with the striker himself gagged, chained and locked inside a cage wearing nothing but a leather thong.

12.18.09

Mushnick : Can’t Someone Take Jose Reyes To Men’s Warehouse?

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 7:20 pm by

(image culled from The ‘Ropolitans)

Mets SS Jose Reyes appeared on WFAN’s “Mike’d Up” Wednesday, an occasion that caused the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick to focus on topics thoroughly unrelated to Reyes’ physical condition or the Amazins’ chances in 2010. Instead, our Phil insists Reyes “seems eager to sustain his reputation as a knucklehead.”

Wearing a wool ski cap pulled down low, throughout the (indoor) studio interview, Reyes looked like a squeegee man who used to stand outside the Lincoln Tunnel.

Yeah, I know, you can’t judge books by their covers and clothes don’t make the man. But they can offer a pretty good clue. Is there no one — his agent, someone with the Mets  — who can provide one of the team’s best known players with some basic social guidance, especially in public?

By comparison, new Yankee Curtis Granderson yesterday met the media in tie and jacket.

Perhaps that’s because there is a world of difference between an introductory press conference and appearing on a radio show. Granted, said program is simulcast on YES, but can Reyes really be castigated for not being aware there are persons (like myself and Phil) that willingly watch Francesa on TV? Keep in mind, Reyes is accused of looking homeless by a guy who either can’t afford a razor on a NewsCorp salary or actually believes it is socially acceptable to have bugs crawling out of one’s beard.

A quick gander at the photo above is rather telling.  Francesa, despite possessing no shortage of extra padding, appears to be nearly as bundled up as his young interviewee.  Maybe it was genuinely chilly in the WFAN studios that afternoon?

A Light Sentence For The Flushing Foot Kitty Stomper

Posted in Baseball, Cats, The Law at 2:15 pm by

In April of ’07 we linked to the sickening tale of thespian Joseph Petcka, a 30th round draft selection by the Mets in 1998, charged more recently with the violent murder of an ex-girlfriend’s cat. Today, reports WNBC.com, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus allowed Petcka to walk free, following completion of extensive (?) community service.

“I am confident that there will be no further allegations about abuse of animals on your part,” Obus said.

Prosecutors said the actor and former New York Mets minor leaguer attacked the 8-pound, declawed cat in a drunken, jealous rage after complaining that his then-girlfriend loved the cat more than she loved him. He said he overreacted after being bitten by the tabby, named Norman.

Since his plea last year, Petcka has completed 500 hours of community service at a soup kitchen, children’s art program and youth club where he taught pitching, prosecutors and his lawyer said.

“We’re just glad that it’s over, and we feel that he’s paid his debt,” defense lawyer Charles S. Hochbaum said. Petcka declined to comment.

Not to make light of the serious charges, but given Petcka’s extremely limited baseball resume (not to mention genuine anger management issues), what “youth club” in their right mind would allow him to serve as a pitching tutor?  Even Kenny Powers thinks this is fucked up.

Vegas Shooting Targets : Police Are Protecting Mayweather

Posted in Boxing, The Law at 2:44 am by

On the same day Time Magazine honored Manny Pacquiao as one of their ’09 “People That Mattered”, forthcoming foe Floyd Mayweather Jr. was implicated by a Las Vegas duo who claim an associate of Mayweather tried to shoot them last summer.  From the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Antonio Planas :

Damein Bland, 36, and Quincey Williams, 25, said this week they believe Las Vegas police have ample evidence to arrest the assailant who fired at them multiple times Aug. 23 outside the Crystal Palace Skating Center. The suspect, identified by police only as “O.C.,” is described as 6 feet tall, black and about 220 pounds. He has brown eyes and wore his black, shoulder-length hair in dreadlocks.

Bland and Williams identified O.C. as the Mayweather’s bodyguard. Police have not confirmed that.

The men reiterated what they told authorities: Williams was threatened by Mayweather shortly before the shooting. Bland said Mayweather, upset by a text message from Williams that said he hoped the undefeated boxer would lose, threatened Williams.

According to a police report, Williams said Mayweather said he could have him “trumped.” After the shooting, Williams told the Review-Journal that he thought Mayweather meant: “He’s got enough money to get me hit.”

Nobody was injured in the shooting. The BMW 650 that Bland drove was struck by six bullets.

The men complained that the wheels of justice are moving slowly and that Mayweather should be scrutinized in the investigation. Mayweather has not been named by police as a suspect.

“They say you should believe in the justice system,” said Williams, who now fears for his life. “But I guess the justice system only works when you’re a high-profile person and you have millions of dollars.”

Mayweather’s manager and lawyer have vehemently denied his involvement.  I’ve no insights as to Mayweather’s guilt or innocence, but if he was in the habit of having everyone who antagonized him gunned down, how is it that Brian Kenny is still alive?

12.17.09

Introducing Darko Milicic, Realist

Posted in Basketball at 1:10 pm by

While Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is said to be trying to put together a package for Tracy McGrady and his expiring $23 million contact (particularly one that has Jared Jeffries at the bottom of the box), at least one member of the Knicks’ roster is already planning his exit, as C Darko Milicic explained to the New York Post’s Marc Berman.

“Whatever happens, I’m going back next year,” the 7-foot-1 Milicic said after yesterday’s Knicks practice at Moody Bible Institute. “It’s 100-percent certain. I have to be real and not lie. I’m not going to get it done in the NBA. I’m not going to get another opportunity and there’s nothing wrong with going back to Europe. I don’t want to create a bad atmosphere here, but it’s not working in the NBA.”

“I don’t give a bleep about the money,” Milicic said. “I just want to enjoy the basketball. I’d like to have the ball in my hands and have an offense run through me. I’m not just a defensive player.”

Berman points out Milicic received a DNP – Coach’s (Wise) Decision in 15 of the Knicks’ last 16 games, prior to the signing of Jonathan Bender.