01.25.10

The Former Subject Of “TSOL Are Sissies” Says You’re Getting Verrrrrry Sleepy

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 4:30 pm by

Congrats to former TSOL vocalist Jack Grisham on proving there are second acts in American Life ; Grisham has successfully segued from a career fronting one of the 20th century’s worst bands into a lucrative new career as a hypnotherapist. Incidentally, you can’t spell “hypnotherapist” without “the rapist” (link courtesy Don Smith)

KFAN’s Allen & Bercich Put An Entirely New Spin On Jack Buck’s “I Can’t Believe What I Just Saw”

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio at 2:47 pm by

“Why do you even ponder passing in that situation?” I dunno, might it have something to do with Gunslingeritis or feeling like a kid or just loving the game too much? WFAN’s Mike Francesa gave Brett Favre considerable credit for staying in the game despite taking serious shots from the Saints D, which begs the question, exactly how badly would Minnesota’s starting QB needed to be injured before Tavaris Jackson entered the game? Based on Favre’s lack of mobility in the 4th quarter, it seems nothing less than losing a leg would’ve done the trick.

Columnist Almost As Old As Favre Declares “Don’t Blame Brett”

Posted in Gridiron at 11:11 am by

While Roger Clemens (!) and the Brian Burke each took the position the NFL’s overtime coin-flip is decidedly unfair, the MInneapolis Star-Tribune’s venerable Sid Hartman has a slightly different take on the Vikings essentially handing the NFC Championship to the Saints during the final minute of regulation yesterday. “If it weren’t for the turnovers,” argues Sid, “the Vikings might’ve won this game with ease.” Three of those turnovers, of course, committed by their quarterback.

It wasn’t Favre’s fault that the Vikings lost, although he was involved in a key interception that cost them a chance at a winning field-goal attempt at the end of regulation.

Three lost fumbles and an earlier Favre interception didn’t help the Vikings’ cause.

For Favre’s sake, it is unfortunate that with all of the great things he did both during the season and in the playoffs, the interception at the end of regulation will haunt him for some time.

Yes, Favre won’t attend the offseason workouts and won’t attend the minicamps, just like last season. But if the owners of the team want to win and maybe go further than they even did this year, they need to bring Favre back, even though he will turn 41 years old during the season.

They might also want to work on preseason drills for the players and coaching staff alike that include counting to eleven. While I don’t entirely agree with Hartman that Favre is blameless in defeat, what might’ve been his final (ill-advised) pass in the NFL never should’ve been thrown. Ryan Longwell, kicking indoors from 50 yards out wasn’t a sure thing, but Minnesota’s failure to give him a chance to win the game is totally on Brad Childress’ head.

On Overreaction: What We Scream About When We Scream About Gary Matthews Jr.

Posted in Baseball at 2:01 am by

Gerard noted the Mets’ acquisition of extravagantly well-compensated journeyman Gary Matthews Jr. when it happened last week, and the two bemused grafs he gave it almost certainly qualified as giving this ultra-minor trade its due. There are things to say about the deal — how historically terrible Matthews has actually been over the course of his $50 million contract in Anaheim, how his acquisition fits into GM Omar Minaya’s predilection for older, useless-er, comparatively expensive backups.

But the good thing about actually having people in your life is that these things don’t actually get said: start talking about Gary Matthews Jr. — this doofus, a guy Baseball Reference rates as most similar to Chad Curtis and Michael Tucker — and watch even ardent baseball fans’ faces fall with the direst disinterest, and you change the subject. I have over-reacted to this sort of thing in this space before — here, wincingly, I am getting huffy about Gerald Williams in the comments of a CSTB post from 2005 — and will do so again, but, by and large, I keep this to myself these days.

Except… yeah, obviously what you’re reading. What GC noted in that long-ago comments section — “there are some good teams with completely useless 25th men on their rosters” — still holds, and the last few seasons of Mets-related masochism have done much to bully me into a more distanced perspective. Unlovely and unlovable, uncommonly hard to watch and improbably poorly managed, the Mets are still the Mets, and I can’t imagine my life without them. They wear the same hats (on Sundays, at least) as guys I grew up idolizing, and that fact, dishearteningly, overrides everything reasonable in my brain to the point where — even when I have other things to do, and other things due — I still get pissed when they deal a barely average relief pitcher for a guy who is, in a way that poor Gerald Williams never really was, surpassingly, spectacularly un-valuable.

Here is what Buster Olney reported about the centerpiece of this deal — a deal strange enough that people are writing about it despite its almost ostentatious insignificance. Okay:

After the Mets completed their trade for Gary Matthews Jr. on Friday, committing about $2.5 million and a middle reliever to land him, one talent evaluator dug into his team’s scouting reports, wondering if maybe his general impression that Matthews was a player in decline was wrong.

The reports for his team were clear: Matthews is a player to be avoided. Slow bat. Declining range. And above all else, a player who wants to be a regular and will be an unhappy distraction in your clubhouse when he’s not in the lineup every day.

Said an executive with another team of the Mets’ efforts to acquire Matthews, which have been extensive, including the discussion of one possible four-team deal this winter: “Baffling.”

Much has been made of Omar Minaya’s supreme backwardness as a General Manager, by a great many people. And yet there’s a head-scratcher buried in this otherwise straight-ahead forehead-slapper. That is: the Mets have been trying to pry The Least Valuable Player in Baseball away from the Angels for some time now. Omar doesn’t like advanced stats, and by all accounts believes Moneyball is a minor John McTiernan credit, but damned if he isn’t doing some ‘tardoid Moneyballing here. That is, he evidently thought he had identified an undervalued commodity in Gary Matthews Jr. — a guy whose Fangraphs page is basically a Saw sequel in statistical form — and tried his damnedest to get him. An undervalued commodity who, in Olney’s words, “might get a $500,000 non-guaranteed minor league deal with an invitation to spring training” from any other team.” That.

So, the challenging part — why, how can something like this matter? At some level, it obviously doesn’t: the Mets don’t really have much of a chance at making me or anyone else happy next year, for reasons that begin with keeping Minaya as GM but have more to do with the ownership that made that choice and pitching and defense and hitting and etc. Matthews will not be the only or greatest reason for this; honestly, I doubt he finishes the year with the Mets. There’s also the question of how much I or anyone else should care about how the dollars of the Mets’ Hapsburgian owners get spent. The team’s array of well-compensated 30-something replacement-level reserves is objectionable, because it looks silly and because it’s a waste, but it’s fundamentally abstract to me. I don’t have to pay Chris Coste a dime, which is a good thing because fuck that dude.

And yet at a level that transcends the actual (irrelevant) deal itself, there’s a reason why this deal stinks. (And a reason, beyond the obvious everyone-there-comments-on-everything, that the first report of the deal elicited 754 comments at Amazin Avenue) It is, I think, the reminder that we Mets fans are investing our emotional energy in an organization that seems absolutely, spookily absent from itself.

No one involved involved with the Mets can explain anything that the team does in a way that seems compelling or honest or even coherent; the bits of what-were-they-thinking reportage that leak out of the front office suggest nothing so much as the astrology-fixated Burmese junta, abruptly deciding to relocate the nation’s capital or undertake a purge because of what house Jupiter’s in (or because Jason Bay played center field seven years ago). Players play well or don’t; executives make good decisions or they don’t; but the whole goofy enterprise of caring about baseball is somehow being laid bare in a deeper way by the hilariously inscrutable “triumphs” of this baffled, baffling organization. Every organization bafflement is, simultaneously, somehow also a goal achieved.

Fans put themselves in a vulnerable position when they decide to cheer for a team — I’ve written about this before as regards the Mets, and there’s nothing in this post that really improves on what I wrote previously. But the Matthews trade — Omar getting “his guy” in a deal that everyone else in the entire freaking world thinks is incomprehensible — is a reminder of how bizarrely bleak it is to be a Mets fan right now. The moves arrive out of nowhere, reflect no philosophy beyond an anarchically da-da absence of internal logic, and allow almost no commentary but this. That is, maundering, meandering wonderment. That is, bafflement, more than any sort of disagreement or — because it’s not 2005, and I’m not 26 anymore — aggrieved grief.

There is, in me, the hope that Omar has gone crazy and is kind of Putting the System On Trial — that he’s going to sign Todd Hollandsworth to a $155 million deal next month, and then trade Johan Santana for a 1991 Eagle Talon and a bunch of yarn, and then reveal the whole thing as a conceptual art piece, at which point we will all applaud and he’ll sell the last three years of Mets baseball at the Gagosian Gallery. But the one thing that all this is definitively not is conceptual, art-wise or otherwise. It’s just fucking Gary Matthews Jr., somehow and for some reason. It’s just business — inexplicable business — as usual. It just kind of sucks, if you can bother to care about it.

01.24.10

Put It In The Books : Howie Rose Is The Only Person Who Still Accepts Unsolicited Demos

Posted in Baseball, Rock Und Roll, Sports Radio at 3:17 pm by

I’m not sure which is more amazing, that someone thought it acceptable to make an (innocuous) voice message from WFAN’s Howie Rose available to the public (he’s no Pat O’Brien, that’s for sure), or that Howie is so thoroughly gracious about receiving CD’s from these guys.  I’ve been sending Suzyn Waldman Air Traffic Controllers CD’s for years, and they come back marked “return to sender” each time. Talk about holding a grudge.

Tom Hicks’ Reign Of Error In Arlington Coming To A Close

Posted in Baseball at 1:36 pm by

Today marks the first, and perhaps last time in recorded history supporters of Liverpool F.C. find themselves envious of Texas Rangers fans.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports a group fronted by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have reached an agreement in principal to purchase the Rangers from Tom Hicks (above).

The deal ends some three weeks of intense negotiations, the final eight days of which took place at the urging of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig after a 30-day window of exclusive negotiations ended Jan. 15.

Last-minute details were ironed out late Friday night and into Saturday. Now, the likelihood of Ryan becoming a minority owner of the last team for which he played and is currently its team president is seen as a formality.

“We are fortunate to be assuming the stewardship of a franchise poised for greatness,” said Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, who is leading the 12-investor group that includes Ryan, in a statement.

Ownership could be transferred to Greenberg and Ryan™s group, Rangers Baseball Express, by Opening Day, April 4. The deal is expected to easily to pass the scrutiny of baseball™s executive committee and eight-man ownership committee. The 40 lenders who hold $525 million in Hicks Sports Group debt also will review the agreement.

An intriguing aspect of the deal is that it all but excludes Tom Hicks.

A baseball source said that Hicks will own only a small piece of the team and will not sit on its board of directors. He will remain with the team in the ceremonial role of chairman emeritus and, in a deal struck with another company he owns, will hold only 42 of the 195 acres surrounding Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Cowboys Stadium.

01.23.10

The Next Time Someone Calls Bobby Jenks Fat, Arrogant & Stupid…

Posted in Baseball, Fashion at 9:41 pm by

…feel free to stick up for the White Sox reliever by pointing out he’s merely arrogant and/or stupid. The Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reports the South Side closer has lost a ton of weight this off-season.

(above : possibly Bobby Jenks, maybe Vini Reilly. Very hard to tell these days)

‘He looks the best I’ve ever seen him, and I’m really proud of this guy,” Kenny Williams said. ”As a husband and father, he’s great around his kids — but just sitting here and looking me and Ozzie right in the eye, addressing the issues head-on like men, I’m proud of him. Good for him. Sometimes you’ve got to push some buttons to ultimately get to that point

The 28-year-old appears more than ready. Though he looked at least 30 pounds lighter, Jenks wouldn’t say how much he lost, only that ”I’m hiding it in my shoes.”

”I know I have said stuff like that before, but this is really the best I can remember feeling,” Jenks said. ”Regardless of what happened this winter, I did this for myself. I’m ready for this year. There is more pressure on me this year to fill those shoes that I’ve walked for myself.”

Williams’ concern was whether Jenks lost the weight the proper way, and he got his answer.

”Before I could even get it out, he told me, ‘I’ve lost it the right way,”‘ Williams said. ”I talked to him about flexibility, and he said, ‘I work on that, too.’ We’re in a good place with Bobby Jenks; Bobby Jenks is going to have a big year.”

Thrifty, Quiet, Effective : WSC Daily On Doncaster’s O’Driscoll

Posted in Football at 4:06 pm by

Despite a 1-0 defeat at Derby in the 4th round of the FA Cup earlier today, Doncaster manager Sean O’Driscoll can take considerable solace in Rovers being a mere 6 points removed from a playoff spot in the Championship, the sort of jam econo results that have When Saturday Comes’ Glen Wilson wondering when a Premier League club might make a play for the former Republic Of Ireland international (“like taking your favourite toy to show off at primary school, the more you gleefully talk about how great it is, the more likely one of the bigger boys will come along and pluck it from your grasp.”)

To keep a squad in a division on a budget is one thing. To do so with reliance on an aesthetically pleasing brand of fluid football is another. O’Driscoll  (above, right) has achieved results with one of the most unfashionable teams in the Championship playing arguably its most fashionable football. The emphasis is on ball retention and movement. The system is fluid, the midfielders and full-backs are given freedom to roam – comparisons with Arsenal’s style have been made often. There is joy to be had in punching above your weight, but to do so while out-footballing players much more feted than your own carries an incredible amount of satisfaction.

Given that O’Driscoll also holds an obvious disdain for the by-products of modern football, it would have been interesting to see him handle the media envelopment of the Premier League. So down to earth he’s practically subterranean, WSC’s Taylor Parkes once described him as “speaking so quietly, he’s drowned out by my wristwatch and looking like he’s just been told his dog has three weeks to live”. In 2008, when asked how he would be celebrating play-off promotion O’Driscoll whispered: “I’ve got a cup of tea waiting, but it’s going cold.” Refreshingly he is the very antonym of Phil Brown

Salisbury’s Sophmoric Mistake

Posted in non-sporting journalism, Sports TV at 3:11 pm by

The following is probably an old story for most of you, but between the Haiti telethon, Kobe’s return to MSG and Conan O’Brien’s farewell (can’t Billy Gibbons find a better band to play with?), I have to admit I missed out on what might be the most important story of our times.

It was a little more than 3 years ago that a blind item — not from a sports blog, but rather, CBS Sports.com — led to widespread speculation ESPN had suspended football analyst Sean Salisbury for sending phone-cam pics of his penis to female co-workers.  There’s been no shortage of embarrassing incidents involving Salisbury since, and with the bullying blowhard’s career in a free-fall, he recently filed a civil defamation lawsuit against Deadspin’s parent company, Gawker Media. Salisbury’s prospects for winning said case and/or settling out of court with Gawker took no small hit yesterday with the following revelations, as reported by USA Today’s Michael Heistand :

Salisbury, 46, is admitting what’s already an urban legend on the Internet: that he took cellphone photos of his private parts and showed them.

Yuck. Salisbury says it only happened once ” “a sophomoric mistake” in a Connecticut bar in 2006 ” for which ESPN suspended him for a week for then-unspecified reasons.

“I was ashamed, and I didn’t want to say anything,” says Salisbury, who was an NFL quarterback for eight years and an ESPN NFL analyst for 12. “I thought it would go away and let my ego get in the way. Since then, I’ve beat myself up about it more than 10 baseball bats could. A stupid mistake can cost you, and this has really cost me. I should have been having this conversation a long time ago.”

Salisbury feels better from having had anger-management therapy ” “I needed help. I had a lot of inner anger for years.” He says he’s trying to champion the cause of accuracy in online reporting in a lawsuit against Deadspin that he insists is anything but frivolous.

And the book he said he’d write about ESPN in an erratic e-mail exchange with Deadspin in September ” saying “some major reputations” would be ruined ” is now off.

“I’m not a tell-all guy and regret saying that,” he says.

Only the hardhearted wouldn’t see a chance for his redemption.

So true. Who amongst us wouldn’t give a second chance to a braying egomanic who insists sending unsolicted snapshots of his schlong to female colleagues is “not malicious”? Full credit to Salisbury, who somehow managed to top both Mark McGwire and John Edwards in the Unsurprising Public Confession Sweepstakes of Early 2010.

01.22.10

Tebow To Mom : Thanks For Not Aborting Me

Posted in Gridiron, Religion at 8:22 pm by

Crosswalk.com’s Russ Jones reports saintly Heisman winner Tim Tebow and his mother will appear in a Super Bowl commercial, Sunday, February 7, with a decidedly  anti-abortion theme.

Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive,” Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., said in a statement. “They live what we see every day – that the desire for family closeness is written on the hearts of every generation.”

Daly says the generous gifts of donors, not funds from the ministry’s general budget, have paid for the pricey TV spot.

Tebow fans may not know that Tim’s mother was urged to abort Tebow during a troubled pregnancy and chose not to.

While Focus on the Family won’t confirm the content of the ad, they do say the Florida Gators star quarterback and his mother will share “a personal story” centered on the pro-life theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”

“The Tebows said they agreed to appear in the commercial because the issue of life is one they feel very strongly about,” according to a Focus on the Family statement.

Focus on the Family is paying an estimated $2.8 million for the prime time spot. They join an elite lineup of advertisers where CBS estimates over 90 million viewers will watch.

While this sort of advocacy interspersed with football is nothing new, the NFL’s apparent willingness to accept such a divisive advertiser, is another matter.

Celtics Hub’s Lowe : Davis’ Heckler Was The Bigger Baby

Posted in Basketball, Blogged Down, Mob Behavior at 6:35 pm by

Taking into account the NBA’s decision to fine Boston’s Glen Davis $25K for telling an unruly Pistons fan to “suck my dick”, Celtics Hub’s Zach Lowe is willing “to give Baby a pass on this one” (“I don’t think I could ever get used to someone screaming unflattering things at me all the time”), pointing a finger at Davis’ tormentor.

I have no problem with Glen Davis telling a jerky fan to shut up, even if he uses unsavory language in doing so. (Glen™s biggest problem was that TV and radio broadcasts caught his comments live). For this fan, Scott Zack, to file a complaint with NBA security is ridiculous. You go to an NBA game, you spend two quarters calling a player œfat and œchubs, and then you act surprised when the player fires back at you?

Scott Zack should be embarrassed. He deserved what he got. I hope Zack™s friends laughed at him when Davis finally cracked and responded. What a sniveling little coward.

Again: I understand what the league is doing. It has an interest in preventing anything like the 2004 Indy-Detroit brawl, and so it has an interest in eliminating heated encounters between players and fans. But if sports leagues fined every player who talked back to heckling fans, they™d be giving out a lot of fines.

McGwire’s Welcome Home Marred by Herzog, Busch, IQs Over 60

Posted in Baseball at 2:44 pm by

[Scott Steiner welcomes Mark McGwire back to St. Louis and adoring Cardinal fansWhy can't Jack Clark show as much class?]

Recovering Retired Cardinals mgr Whitey Herzog (1980-90) and former owner Augie Busch IV (his family sold the ‘Tards in ’96) are apparently not so welcoming of Big Mac’s post-’roid confession and return to St. Louis nor La Russa.  What’s interesting here isn’t so much an old school hero like Whitey Herzog coming down on McGwire, but Augie Busch publicly calling La Russa a liar. As Augie puts it, “McGwire has chosen to come out of the closet at the perfect time — alongside a manager who also refuses to be honest, to the fans or to the game itself,” Busch said. “After all, why would Tony La Russa hire a hitting coach whose lifetime batting average was only .263?”

As a Cub fan, this reporter wholeheartedly supports a Redbird team average of .263, and wish Augie would give McGwire a chance to work that magic on the whole squad.   I can’t tell if La Russa was more in-denial about his ‘roided out A’s and Redbirds or that Mark McGwire’s return to MLB would actually be any more popular outside STL than Barry Bonds was outside San Francisco.  On Wednesday, Herzog went off at a Red Smith Sports Banquet in Appleton, WI, unloading thusly to the Appleton Post-Crescent:

“I’ve got nothing to do with him,” Herzog said, clearly annoyed. “I don’t want to comment on steroids because they’re all lying. And they’re still lying. They get on steroids because they say they want to get back on the field. The reason they’re on steroids is because they got injured because they were taking steroids. Because their muscles grow too fast, and every time they make a false move, they slip and pull something. It’s always a pulled muscle, rib cage, a minor something. That’s bull.”Let’s get to the bottom of this. It’s a health problem, but nothing’s going to happen. The people in St. Louis give Mark McGwire a standing ovation the other day, and (former major leaguer) Jack Clark said every steroid user should be banned for baseball, and they booed him. Now, what the hell is the matter with society when that happens?”

Actually Whitey, I think at this point the lovable Jack Clark would get booed handing out twenty-dollar bills on Opening Day.

There Are (Insane) Second Acts in American Life: Inside Ex-Gator Star Teddy Dupay’s Pot-Related Pyramid Scheme

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, consumer affairs, Get Out Of Jail at 2:10 pm by

You had to follow college basketball fairly closely during a fairly brief period of time even to have an impression of Teddy Dupay, a former McDonald’s All-American who spent three years at Florida during the early years of the Billy Donovan administration. Dupay put up points at Pete Maravich-ian volume as a prep, but proved in college to be more the Gulf Coast version of Greg Paulus — a cocky caucasian guard who was universally loathed by opposing fans and pretty limited in certain easy-to-notice ways, but who managed to make some big shots and contribute on some deep and talented teams. If that were all he did, Dupay and Matt Walsh and Andrew DeClerq would be running a sports bar in Fort Myers or something and no one would care. Well, I might, but that would be my problem.

But off the court, Dupay (above) was an absolutely epic fuck-up machine. On a team that featured the even-more-feral beta-testing version of Jason Williams, Dupay was the undisputed go-to Botchmaster. He finally got kicked out of Florida for consorting with known gamblers, and proceeded to bounce around the pro hoops bushes for awhile before getting arrested for beating up and allegedly raping his girlfriend in Utah; he pled and got 30 days in jail. Which, honestly, still didn’t preclude the eventual opening of Reviled White Ex-Gators Sports Grille and Lounge. But, as Chris Harry reports at FanHouse, Dupay had more ambitious — that is to say, genius — plans in mind. Actually, I’m not sure about the word count, there. Would you use the word “ambitious” to describe a pot-based crypto-pyramid scheme called S’Boalnation?

In his suburban office about 10 miles out of Salt Lake City, Dupay stood at a large grease board and for an audience of one made a detailed and diagrammed case — rather convincingly, in fact — that legalizing pot and hemp could solve much of America’s health, industrial, environmental and hunger problems. Then came the spin that is his and his alone.

“The problem is not the laws. The problem isn’t the prohibition of cannabis or the hypocrisy of it all,” he explained. “The problem is that over 75 to 80 percent of our country, when polled, thinks marijuana should be legal, yet nobody stands up to do anything ’cause there’s nothing in it for them. But people now can be part of the solution by joining S’Boalnation. There’s money in it.”

…S’Boalnation members pay $94.20 to join the cause and $24.20 per month, then are compensated for members they sign up. All expenses (home office, mileage, cell phone, etc.) are tax deductible and Dupay donates $5 of each payment to the charity of each member’s choice. There are incentives for merchandise sales, too.

The whole piece is worth reading. There is basically zero chance that S’Boalnation winds up being legit, but Dupay’s Scott Caan imitation in the group’s YouTube infomercials and S’Boalnation’s No Fear-jacking merch aesthetic should provide ample reward for your time. It’s hard to argue that Gulf Coast Paulus is doing good, in the classic definition of the phrase, but he’s at least still entertaining. Which is more than DeClerq can say, for instance. Thanks to Brendan Flynn for the link.

Imp Of The Perverse Delivers His Lamest Effort Since “Batdance”

Posted in Gridiron at 1:39 pm by

Minneapolis’s Fox 9 quotes Prince Rogers Nelson as saying the lyrics to the above tune “came fast and easy”. Perhaps too easy (link taken from Shutdown Corner).  Surely Morris Day could’ve done better?

Mets Prepare For Beltran Absence With Sarge Jr. Signing

Posted in Baseball at 1:21 pm by

Who amongst us didn’t marvel at Gary Matthews, Jr. robbing Mike Lamb of a home run in July, 2006?. It was just one obvious highlight in a career year for the Texas Ranger, who parlayed what might’ve been PED assisted numbers into a monster deal with the Angels the following winter. It would be, however, a colossal understatement to say Matthews underachieved in Anaheim ; in September of ’08, Tim Marchman called Sarge’s kin “the Least Valuable Player” in all of Major League Baseball, writing “anyone who makes $9.4 million for hitting like Melky Cabrera and playing much worse defense certainly deserves an award of some sort.”

With Matthews a year and a half older, and still owed nearly $20 million dollars, the Angels have finally managed to rid themselves of the centerfielder via a Friday trade with the New York Mets. The Halos receive reliever Brian Stokes while the Amazins are only obliged to pay $2 million of Matthews’ salary over the next two seasons. It seems like a relatively low risk gambit, especially if you’re not troubled by the prospect of a defensively-challenged, injury prone player on the downside of his career patrolling the vast expanse of the Citi outfield

01.21.10

The Not So Subtle Scolding Technique Of Bryant Gumbel

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 8:11 pm by

OK, let me get this straight, when a blogger like Jerod Morris openly speculates about Raul Ibanez’ dramatically improved performance, he’s a bad, bad man. But when a multiple Emmy winner like HBO’s Bryant Gumbel goes even further — in front of a much wider audience — it’s simply business as usual. The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron watched Gumbel’s most recently closing remarks on “Real Sports”, and judge for yourself if anyone is being unfairly tarred with the same PED brush.

“Finally tonight, an open letter to baseball’s usual suspects. Dear Barry, Roger, Sammy and Rafael, I’m writing in hopes you saw Mark McGwire’s phony non-apology last week and learned from it. I’m assuming that you, like most people not named Tony LaRussa, got a good laugh out of Mark’s crocodile tears and his self-serving claims about truth, guilt and the pharmaceutical way.

“So on behalf of all fans, do us a favor. If and when you’re ready to come clean, don’t insult us with talk of how much of what you did was God-given and how much was chemically induced. Let us figure that out, OK? And don’t play us for idiots. Spare us the lies about talking ‘roids for health reasons. We’re all grown-ups. You took stuff for the same reason most of us break or bend rules. You thought you could get away with it. And you did.

“You did because commissioner Bud Selig, being Bud, was, of course, asleep at the switch when you suddenly grew Shrek-like necks and bloated biceps. But even Bud’s selling absolution these days. He’s cheering any and all mea culpas, even half-assed ones. If you don’t believe me, just ask A-Rod, Manny, Papi, Jason and the others who’ve come forward because they had to. There may be no crying in baseball, but there is forgiveness, maybe even enough to get you to Cooperstown.

“In closing, guys, please feel free to share this letter with Bagwell, Nomar, Pudge and all those others who went from hitting homers to power outages overnight. Tell ‘em fans are ready to accept what happened. Tell ‘em we’re ready to move on. Tell ‘em that most of us get it…even if they, like you, still don’t.”

Curiously, Brett Boone, Brady Anderson and, uh, Mike Piazza, escape Gumbel’s far-reaching wrath.

Kawakami : Ellis’ Impressive Stats Stem From Warriors’ Suck City Residency

Posted in Basketball at 4:04 pm by

Monta Ellis scored 36 points Monday evening in the Warriors’ 114-97 defeat of Da Bulls, the 6th time in his previous 8 contests the Golden State shooting guard had topped 30 or more.  Rather than tout Monta’s candidacy for the Western Conference All-Star team, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami says of Ellis and teammate in artificially-enhanced PPG Corey Maggette, “who else is going to shoot?”

With the current roster situation, Ellis and Maggette can™t yanked off the floor for low-effort defense. I know, that™s a theoretical, since Don Nelson never pays attention to defense, anyway¦

The Top Two can™t get de-emphasized if they commit a rash of turnovers. They™re out there for however long they can stand up straight or stay out of foul trouble.

If Ellis had better teammates and was on a winning team, he™d properly have to defer more, take fewer shots, and possibly score a LOT less. A winning team wouldn™t ˜want him taking all those shots and if he took all those shots the team wouldn™t win as much.

You think he™s actually the sixth-best scorer in the NBA? Or is he about the 12th-best scorer who happens to be getting the first-most opportunities to try to score, resulting in the sixth-highest scoring average?

Jim Bouton Warns Today’s Preeners & HIgh-Steppers : Build A Time Machine, And I’ll Dust You Off

Posted in Baseball at 2:08 pm by



“Ball Four”
author Jim Bouton fielded some questions from Blue Workhorse’s Shotgun Sprattling on a variety of topics not limited to changes in sports media and the advent of pitch counts (“I pitched 249 innings in 1963, 271 in 1964, and in 1965, my arm was completely dead”).  On the subject of differences between the modern game and baseball of Bouton’s era, the righthander is less enthused about the current product (“I wish the players today were more respectful of the game, more humble…not so into themselves”_

“When Mickey Mantle hit a home run, he put his head down and ran around the bases as fast as he could so as to not show up the pitcher, went in the dugout, and sat down. Now, a guy hits a home run, oh my goodness, his hands go up in the air, he’s going around the bases, he just found a cure for cancer you’d think. He takes his time. He’s pointing to the sky. He’s kissing jewelry. Gets to the guys in the dugout, he takes a big bow. Then he goes in to sit down. Then he has to come out for a curtain call…and this is all in the second inning!

“I don’t know who these guys think they are. They’re just baseball players, and home runs have been hit before. I don’t like the over-inflated thoughts of themselves that you have with today’s athletes. There’s just no humility what-so-ever; no self-awareness; no modesty. There’s just no respect for the game or the opposing team. If they did that in my day, the next time up, he’d be on his ass. Believe me, he wouldn’t be doing that any more.”

Proposed Broadsheet Editor Learns The Hard Way, There’s Very Little Privacy On The Interweb

Posted in Football, Free Expression, non-sporting journalism, Racism Corner at 1:35 pm by



The planned appointment of Rod Liddle (above) as the Independent’s new editor
had already attracted considerable criticism, and on the surface, it’s a curious move.  Imagine, if you will, Sean Hannity being installed as the new host of “All Things Considered”.  However, after revelations in Sunday’s Daily Mail that Liddle is a regular contributor to a Millwall F.C. message board under the handle, “monkeymfc”, the former “Today” producer might be a bit tougher to employ.  The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade digs a bit deeper ;

Since the story broke, more research has exposed several outrageous comments attributed to monkeymfc. Here are some examples, accepting that they may be the result of a person, or persons, posing as Liddle and also accepting that Liddle may even be unaware of their existence (the Millwall online site is not easy to navigate).

In November, one thread carried a monkeymfc comment that stated:

“Stupid bitch. A year eight sociology lecture from someone who knows fck all. You could equally say that we were similar to any group which disliked a certain aspect of society, felt estranged from it but were sure we were right.”

“The logical extension of her argument is that the status quo is always right, which is absurd, because if that were true nothing would change. Someone kick her in the cnt.”

In a thread entitled Visited Aushwitz on Saturday the monkeymfc comment is grossly offensive to victims of the Holocaust.

“I went a year or so back. Fcking outrageous that you can’t smoke in Auschwitz. I had to sneak round the back of the gas chambers for a crafty snout. And the Polish guide kept lying about Polish involvement in the persecution of the Jews.”

“Also, I wasn’t convinced by the newish Auschwitz Burger Bar and Grill which they’ve got when you go through the entrance, near where all those shoes are on display.”

When I reached him by phone last night to ask what he had to say about the monkeymfc postings, he said initially: “Make up whatever you like”.

He then said he had spent some considerable time earlier explaining his hacking problems to a Guardian reporter, Vikram Dodd. Dodd said that Liddle had told him he was the victim of hacking due to other users of the site guessing his password, which he has since changed.

This may well be true. Someone may be trying to blacken his name. If so, perhaps he should have previously spotted the misuse of his username because the posts date back to October last year.

Liddle’s previous password was “millwall”.  While this sort of thing is a widespread problem for allegedly educated persons, Liddle has since admitted the Auschwitz comments were his handiwork.

Jersey Bowling War; File Under Arson, Guys Named Smink

Posted in Bowling, Greedy Motherfuckers, Mob Behavior at 8:58 am by

walter.jpg image by nastrond667

["You are entering a world of pain." Jersey's bowlers will defend their city's tax ratables to the death.]

For extreme bowling aficionados nationwide, the most brutal bowling scenes ever filmed include Boris Karloff’s death scene in the original Scarface, Woody Harrelson’s ball-return hand mangling in Kingpin, and John Goodman’s Vietnam Vet going off in The Big Lebowski.  Still,  the Scorsese-like arson job on January 11th that wiped out Vineland, NJ’s Loyle Lanes stunned everyone when it turns out the alleged firebug is the owner of rival Pike’s Alley, Steven Henry Smink.  Pike’s recently lost two leagues to Loyle over broken equipment,  saw its liquor license revoked, and was under investigation by the state for $3000 on unauthorized 50/50 raffles.  Smink apparently chose to go “Goodfellas” and hit Jersey where it hurts most “ its bowling.  While no Springsteen benefit has been announced or even rumored, NJ.com’s Jason Laday reports here:

Both Smink and Manzano each have bail set at $300,000 and as of Wednesday were in the custody of detectives in Philadelphia pending extradition to New Jersey, according to Ulrich.

The juvenile was released to his mother pending further court action from the Cumberland County Prosecutor™s Office.

œIt appears that it was Steven Smink who set up the arson, added Ulrich. However, the lieutenant declined to describe the relationship between the three suspects.

œBut they are connected, he added.

Responding to the news, family spokesman and first-generation co-owner Charles Loyle said he couldn™t fathom why anyone would want to do this to his family.

œI can™t image someone having the idea to do this to us, said Loyle, flanked by his brother, John Loyle, and second-generation owners Michael and Chuck Loyle. They were standing before the ruined shell of the South Delsea Drive attraction.

œThis family has been part of the Rotary Club, I™ve served on the hospital board, we™re part of the community, he added. œTo take someone™s opportunity to make income, to take away a place of recreation for residents and to tax away a source of tax ratables for the city ” it™s beyond our comprehension.

Members of the Loyle family stated they had never met Smink or the other suspects in person. However, they stated customers who also bowled at Pike Lanes would tell them Smink would speak openly about œchallenging them or intending to œput them out of business.

01.20.10

Lesnar : Crummy Canadian Health Care Nearly Killed Me

Posted in Medical Science, MMA at 7:32 pm by

As mentioned in passing last December, former WWE World Champion turned MMA sensation Brock Lesnar was hospitalized with a mystery illness that took the self-described Conservative Republican out of action until this morning’s press conference anouncing a return to Dana White’s UFC promotion this summer.  During a press conference earlier today, Lesnar used the opportunity to blame his condition on an unidentified Canadian hospital, along with insisting, “we don’t need socialistic health care in America.” From the Vancouver Sun’s Chris Parry :

Lesnar had felt unwell for some time when he was struck down in a hunting lodge in a location he refused to disclose, only to state it was three hours from the nearest medical facility.

That unnamed medical centre, which is said to have been in Gimli, Man. (population 5797), wasn’t up to the fighter’s standards.

“I love Canada,” said Lesnar. “Some of the best people and best hunting in the world, but I wasn’t in the right facility.”

“They couldn’t do nothing for me,” he added. “It was like I was in a Third World country, I just looked at my wife and she saved my life and I had to get out of there.”

Lesnar refused to disclose whether the Canadian facility that he felt was inadequate was a major city hospital or a rural outpost, but claimed that the care he received in the United States, and later at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, was far superior and thus was evidence that the U.S. health care system is the best in the world.

Lesnar, who has his own health insurance but also benefits from coverage paid for by the UFC, said “I’m just stating the facts; I love Canada, I own property in Canada but if I had to choose between getting care in Canada or the United States, I’d choose the United States.”

“I hate to bash them but, I’m not one to get into the political side of things but our health care system is a little radical ” we have the best doctors in the world. Our system does need some restructuring but I don’t believe a total reform is the answer.”

Canzano To Aldridge : On Your Feet Or On Your Knees

Posted in Basketball at 6:21 pm by

Of the two Longhorns big men  to come out early in the latter half of the Naughts, one of ‘em, Kevin Durant, is genuine MVP candidate this season. The other, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge (above, left), is something of an enigma in the considered view of the Oregonian’s John Canzano. “If Aldridge really wants to stop talking about being an All-Star and instead become one,” argues Canzano, “he needs to assert himself in crucial situations…he needs to view himself as the Blazers’ all-important No. 2 option, behind Brandon Roy.”

We hear all the time that Aldridge is sensitive to what people say about his play.

So how’s this: Get busy living or get busy dying, kid.

I’m not saying a month in the hole at Shawshank prison is what Aldridge needs, but when you look at the list of players who will play in the All-Star Game, you’re really making a list of talented, mentally tough players who assert themselves. That’s what separates the All-Stars from the wannabes, and right now Aldridge isn’t an All-Star.

I love his defense. I love that he can run the floor. I love that when he fails, he cares enough to stay late or show up early and work on his game. But is he working on the right things? It’s not enough to improve his strengths. He must commit to a low-post game instead of settling for his trademark fade-away jumper.

The $65 million contract extension he and his agent lobbied for?

Aldridge hasn’t earned the contract yet.

Maybe it’s that I’ve often seen Aldridge carry the Blazers early in games, setting the tone and taking the pressure off Roy. Maybe it’s that I’ve watched him evolve after his so-so starts so many times before. Maybe it’s because I’m not ready to discard him as a legitimate All-Star because he’s still young, and not playing alongside a true center.

The challenge facing Aldridge is bigger than making an All-Star team. Despite all their injuries, given the right matchup the Blazers still can win a playoff series — if Aldridge can become a consistent No. 2 scoring option.

LaMarcus, you listening?

Clearly, the Rose Garden locker room is a very, very noisy place, thus preventing Canzano from delivering a helpful, big-brotherly pep talk in person.

Joe Posnanski Waves Carlton Fisk Into Unfair Territory

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 11:56 am by

You can count former Red Sox/White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk amongst those ticked off at Mark McGwire (“try having your knees operated on and catching for 30 years…do you think you feel good when you go out there? (McGwire) had to stand around and play first base. So excuuuuuse me”), an outburst that provoked Joe Posnanski to make an uncomfortable analogy (link courtesy Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

When you talk about the three greatest power hitting catchers of all time ” Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra, right? Well, there™s Josh Gibson, of course, but we don™t have his numbers. When the three power catchers (Piazza, Bench and Berra) were 37 years old, how many home runs do you think they averaged? The three greatest power-hitting catchers of all time averaged 11 home runs at age 37. How many do you think our guy hit? He hit 37!

Of course, our guy is Carlton Fisk. And I am not suggesting that he did anything illegal ” I am in fact entirely convinced that he did not do anything illegal and never would. But he had never hit more than 26 homers in his career. And he was a 37-year-old catcher ” no 37-year old catcher had ever even hit 20 homers before. And at 37, he hit 37 home runs because, well, baseball isn™t always easy to reduce to a few indignant words.

See, there™s a lot that goes into baseball. Stuff usually isn™t black or white, up or down, left or right. It™s complicated. Carlton Fisk, of all people, should know that. If it makes people feel better to shout œfraud in a crowded theater, hey, it™s a free country. But it seems to me there™s already enough noise out there.

All-American Basketball Alliance : One Hell Of A Way To Keep Scalabrine Employed Into His 40′s

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner at 8:21 am by

(finally, some job security)

While I have a sneaking suspicion news reports of the Whites-only All American Basketball Alliance will prove to be as legitimate as Alan Abel’s Ku Klux Klan Symphony Orchestra, for the time being, let’s have a fish-meet-barrel laugh at the following item from the Augusta Chronicle’s Billy Byler :

Don “Moose” Lewis, the commissioner of the AABA, said the reasoning behind the league’s roster restrictions is not racism.

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of “street-ball” played by “people of color.” He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans’ dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

“Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he said. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.”

The Atlanta-based league, which will operate as a single-entity owning all of its teams, is looking for local contacts to pay $10,000 to become a “licensee” in one of 12 cities throughout the Southeast. Lewis said he has already received threats from people opposed to the roster restrictions and several cities have told him to stay out of town.

Dept. of Yes Please: Boogie Shoes In Line for Minor League Deal With Rox?

Posted in Baseball at 12:48 am by

The Colorado Rockies are many things. They are, first and foremost, a baseball team in the NL West that is well-run enough that fans don’t have to rejoice at management’s inability to sign one of the least productive offensive players in baseball. But they’re also a well-compensated prayer group, which means that they’re not above adopting one of MLB’s foster kids every now and then. Last year, it was Reformed and Contrite About Something Very Vague ex-slugger Jason Giambi, who caught on with the Rox for the stretch run and unexpectedly slugged his mustache off. This year, the Rockies have set their sights somewhat lower/higher.

It’s just a non-guaranteed deal, and it hasn’t happened yet, but I think I speak for all of CSTB’s readership when I applaud the minor league deal that Colorado is reportedly weighing tendering to CSTB icon/mascot/horse-racing correspondent Paul Lo Duca on Tuesday.

I’m not unaware of how many qualifiers were in that last sentence, and of course I’m not proud of it. And even if this becomes news, it won’t really be news — the Rockies have two catchers under contract already in Chris Iannetta and Miguel Olivo, Lo Duca hasn’t played in the Bigs since 2008 (and slugged .295 that year) and his still-prospective role would either be Mike DeFelice-ian 37-year-old Minor League Tutor Emeritus or big league utility dude. But considering all the copy that Cap’n Red Ass has handed CSTB over the years, it seems almost ungrateful not to note his maybe-kind-of-possible return. Keep it locked here for the latest. Or just go to his special ladyfriend’s MySpace page, there’s probably something there. It’s crashing my browser, but not before I was able to read that her Sexy New Single is entitled “Perfect Gentleman.” Guest verse from PLD-One on that? Someone with a hardier version of Firefox will have to tell you.