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.
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?
“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.”
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.
["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.
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.”
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.
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.
(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.
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.