OK, admittedly Morgan Ensberg only played 28 games in pinstripes, all of ‘em at the tail end of a decade long professional career best remembered for a 36 HR total in 2005. But with no disrespect intended towards Ensberg’s work between the lines, the early days of the newly launched Morgan Ensberg’s Baseball IQ reveal an unusually witty, self-deprecating voice that’s far too rare in the world of ballers-turned-bloggers. Responding to a recent claim by Bob Watson that ultra-lengthy ballgames are caused by batters and pitchers wandering around looking for “mug-time”, Ensberg writes, “Check me out! I™m batting .200! Haven™t slept in 8 years from sheer panic. Sure, John Smoltz is throwing 100 mph, but I™m not thinking of his slider or his split. I™m going to try and get a little face time.” On the subject of Alex Rodriguez’ recent run-in with the previously unheralded Dallas Braden, Ensberg offers the following insight :
Mr. Braden invoked the law of œunwritten rules. The biggest problem with this is that we literally have no book to go through on this one. In lieu of this, I will use the actions of a œreasonable person in my model.
Alex is caught in between second base and third base after Cano hits a ball foul. Using my high school geometry as the backbone of this point, I know that the quickest way from one point to another is a straight line. Rodriguez has to get back to 1st base, and the mound stands in his way. Does a reasonable person just jog over the mound?
I believe he does.
There is no unwritten rule that a player can™t jog over the mound. I know that because I am looking at the invisible unwritten rulebook. Here is a the exact quote from the book,
What? You don™t see anything? C™mon it is right below the 1st rule. Right there! You telling me you don™t see anything? Jeez¦ok¦.I™ll just translate it for you.
It basically states that a player is allowed to walk over anything that is connected to the Earth if it is located on a baseball field.
(ED NOTE – On April 25, 1976, fans at Dodger Stadium paid to see a clash between Los Angeles and the Cubs, but an impromptu game of Capture The Flag broke out in the outfield. Ben Schwartz’ post on the subject was originally published in this space on 4/25/06)
“A lot of people don’t know this, but he beat me to the flag,” recalls Lasorda. “I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, ‘Why don’t one of you guys take a swing at me?’ because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them.”
Sicko™s reps at the Niskayuna-based National Sports Management gathered in a side room at Wolf™s 1-11 in front of a bank of TVs, fielding calls and scanning rosters. The Jacksonville Jaguars wanted the tight end as an undrafted priority free agent. So did the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
In some ways, that™s better than being drafted late, since the player can pick a team that offers the best chance of making a roster or at least practice squad.
A deal was in place as the seventh round wound down. JR Rickert, the founder and president of National Sports Management, cupped his hand over the phone and called over to fellow agent Ray Brownell.
œTell Scott he is a Cowboy if he is not drafted, Rickert said.
Brownell made the call to Sicko at his Stillwater home, where he was watching the draft with family and friends. Brownell looked dumbfounded by Sicko™s resonse:
If I™m not going to be drafted, Sicko told him, I™m not going to play.
œAs the seventh round started to get underway and progress, Sicko later said, œthat decision (to not play) became a very strong reality.
So when the Detroit Lions selected Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone with the 255th and final pick, Scott Sicko™s football career came to a close.
œHe would have been a Cowboy, Brownell said. œI™m certain he would have made the roster.
Sincere thanks to Dan Corbin, who forwarded the following item from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle’s Jeff DiVeronica. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d be aware that Michael Ray Richardson was currently coaching Oliver Miller in the Premier Basketball League playoffs. Heck, I don’t think I’d even know there was such a thing as the the Premier Basketball League.
Oliver Miller, the former NBA player who went into the stands and nose to nose with a fan in Thursday night™s game against the Rochester Razorsharks at Blue Cross Arena, has been suspended by the Premier Basketball League for the rest of its championship series.
Miller, 40, plays for the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry, a squad from Oklahoma that lost 110-106 in overtime in Game 1 to defending league champion Rochester. The ejection of Cavalry coach Micheal Ray Richardson ignited the incident with 2.8 seconds remaining last night. Richardson claimed he was hit in the head by a plastic water bottle thrown by a fan.
Richardson, 54, was fined an undisclosed amount for œabusive and vulgar language, according to the PBL, and œnot leaving the court in a timely manner after his second technical foul, which results in an automatic ejection.
Miller played parts of nine seasons (493 games) with seven different teams after starring at the University of Arkansas. He stands 6-feet-9 and once reportedly weighed 350 pounds. His height and weight are not listed on the PBL™s website.
Sadly, the above incident is not the first time in recent years that Richardson —banned for life from the NBA in 1986 — has found himself in the middle of a public dispute with minor league basketball fans. Also, if you watch the above video clip (choose the top left hand corner option), you’ll note Miller is incapable of knocking over an unruly fan, despite what appears to be a considerable height and weight advantage.
(on the right, Kevin Kennedy, moments before tackling and hog-tying Osama Bin Zelasko)
Let me start this entry by saying I find nothing funny about terrorism and in no way condone the practice of exploding airplanes as a political statement. In this instance, however, I might understand why an individual might feel compelled to engage in a suicide mission —XM radio subscribers know what I’m talking about. Former Rangers/Red Sox manager and current Rays broadcaster Kevin Kennedy was amongst a group of passengers aboard a Delta Airlines flight bound for Tampa yesterday who successfully subdued a mentally deranged man who threatened to blow up the airliner. From the New York Daily News’ Kerry Burke, Christian Red and Leo Standora :
“When I stood up, he kind of stared me down,” the 55-year-old Kennedy said. “I was probably 4 feet from him.
“As soon as he started to go for the cockpit door, we charged. We took him down. We tied him up,” Kennedy said. “But it was not an easy takedown. We finally got him hogtied with seat belt extensions from the plane.”
Kennedy said Sheffield broke free twice, snapping one of the extensions and a leather belt before finally giving up.
Sheffield’s former wife told the Daily News he’s bipolar and has been in and out of mental institutions for the past five years.
“This is a whole new level for his illness,” said Mary Sheffield, 46, of Brandon, Fla. “I wouldn’t imagine him doing anything like this in a million years. He’s been committed three times, but he’s never harmed anyone.”
“It was the real deal,” Kennedy said before the Rays’ game against Toronto on Friday night. “There wasn’t time to think, just react. When somebody says they’re going to blow up the plane, there’s no fooling around.”
(Ken Kendricks, third from left, and friends at a recent JFA reunion show)
Without even considering the political leanings of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ownership, I have no trouble rooting against them. For one, their ballpark naming rights are held by a predatory lender, for another, I had the worst stadium nachos in my entire adult life while watching Pedro Martinez subdue the hosts during a visit to Phoenix in 2006. Congressman Raul Grijalva would just as soon advise tourists like me to stay home, however, calling for a national boycott of the state of Arizona over the passage of the “Support Our Law Enforcement & Safe Neighborhoods Act”. As Edge Of Sports’ Dave Zirin explains over at The Progressive (link courtesy Jason Cohen), said legislation “has brought echoes of apartheid to Arizona.” And a boycott of the state need not be restricted to tourism, as Zirin advocates ignoring the NL West’s D-Backs entirely. Thankfully, Howe Gelb‘s vast catalog is unaffected.
As the official Arizona Diamondbacks boycott call states, œIn 2010, the National Republican Senatorial Committee™s third highest Contributor was the [executives of the] Arizona Diamondbacks, who gave $121,600; furthermore, they also contributed $129,500, which ranked as the eighteenth highest contribution to the Republican Party Committee. The team™s big boss, Ken Kendrick, and his family members, E. G. Kendrick Sr. and Randy Kendrick, made contributions to the Republicans totaling a staggering $1,023,527. The Kendricks follow in the footsteps of team founder and former owner Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo, along with other baseball executives and ex-players, launched a group called Battin™ 1000: a national campaign that uses baseball memorabilia to raise funds for a Campus for Life, the largest anti-choice student network in the country. Colangelo was also deputy chair of Bush/Cheney 2004 in Arizona, and his deep pockets created what was called the Presidential Prayer Team”a private evangelical group that claims to have signed up more than 1 million people to drop to their knees and pray daily for Bush.
The Diamondbacks™ owners have every right to their politics, and if we policed the political proclivities of every owner™s box there might not be anyone left to root for (except for the Green Bay Packers, who don™t have an owner™s box). But this is different. The law is an open invitation to racial profiling and harassment. The boycott call is coming from inside the state.
If the owners of the Diamondbacks want to underwrite an ugly edge of bigotry, we should raise our collective sporting fists against them. A boycott is also an expression of solidarity with Diamondback players such as Juan Guitterez, Gerardo Parra, and Rodrigo Lopez. They shouldn™t be put in a position where they™re cheered on the playing field and then asked for their papers when the uniform comes off.
If you thought WFAN’s Jerome From Manhattan was scary, wait until you get a load of Lanny from Saint-Lambert. Though there’s a small chance Montreal taking a 2-0 lead over Washington tonight while trying to stave off elimination might temporarily mollify the caller above…. I wouldn’t count on it.
ï»¿Such is professional baseball’s paranoia about all things PED, that even the humble barber must practice his skills far from an MLB clubhouse. And while such an edict will have little impact on former Met Rey Sanchez, hairdresser Angel Pena — described as “the most charismatic barber in the world” by the Snakes’ Edwin Jackson — finds himself and his all-roster client roster exposed in Friday’s USA Today via the handiwork of Bob Nightengale (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
He waits in a bank parking lot for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz to pick him up. They drive to Fenway Park and set up shop outside the team’s clubhouse since MLB security has barred locker room access to outsiders. Soon Pena heads to Logan International Airport for a flight to Seattle, where Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley is waiting.
You won’t find Pena’s name in a program or media guide. He has no background in baseball and is not a trainer, team executive or agent, but he is trusted by virtually every star in the game. Pena, nicknamed “Monster99,” is the barber of baseball.
“Everybody around the league knows who he is, and everybody loves him,” says Ortiz, who has a barber chair in his garage courtesy of Pena. “Everybody is cool with him because he’s so cool. I’m telling you, he’s got a relationship with everyone.”
Pena, a 33-year-old product of New York City, has a contact list that would make agent Scott Boras envious.
In the last few months, he has cut the hair of a wide array of baseball luminaries. From players such as Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, Matt Kemp, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia and Justin Upton to Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson to Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya.
Bradley was desperate for a haircut before the Mariners started a road trip in Chicago, where he spent an acrimonious 2009 playing for the Cubs. If you are going to get booed, you might as well look good.
“He’s a guy you trust because he is who he is,” says Bradley, who paid for Pena’s flight to Seattle. “He’s not looking for anything. He doesn’t bother anyone. He’s just himself.”
[Cubs' ex-ace and only no-hit set-up man, Carlos Zambrano, seen here with die-hard Cub fan Fidel Woo-Woo Castro, considers this a transitional move until "the Cubs get to the play-offs."So, Z is cool with this until September 2011?]
All talk of of a conservative spending Ricketts regime (yes word-cops, I said “regime”) ends today as Lou Piniella moves Carlos Zambrano, bananas and all, to the bullpen. Who’d a thought Carlos Silva would hold a starting position longer than Big Z? The main reason, besides Zambrano’s refusal to be typecast as an “ace,” is that Theodore Roosevelt Lily is back from rehab and ready to start. Carrie Muskat reports it all here, with the sad numbers speaking for themselves — Zambrano’s ERA is even high for the Cubs ‘pen. Considering that the Cubs starting ERA with Z is 2.16, one can only hope Lily will give the North Side some real traction. Too bad Youtube won’t allow a Hitler Finds Out Zambrano is in the Bullpen video. Also, the pressing deadline of this post prevents me from a good Conan O’Brien bumping a guy from prime time George Lopez analogy, but just so you know, it’s there.
Overall, it’s a bold, creative move on Piniella’s part. For a guy who couldn’t budge Fonzie from the lead-off spot last year, this is a big deal. It should also shut up most of Z’s critics who think he’s an unmanageable egomaniac. Ms. Muskat relates it all today:
“We need help in the eighth-inning role right now, and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in,” Piniella said.
Zambrano said Wednesday that he told Piniella he expects to be back in the rotation when the Cubs are in the playoffs.
“He did mention that,” Piniella said. “The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now.”
The move was expected to be temporary, but no one on the Cubs will say how long Zambrano will be in the bullpen.
“Let’s not put a time frame on it — let’s not do that,” Piniella said.
Zambrano will need a little more time to warm up before his relief appearances, and Piniella plans on using him only for one inning or 1 1/3 innings and not stretching him out too far.
“It’s a shock,” Marmol said of the news. “I never thought Zambrano would be in the bullpen. He’ll help the team, that’s what he says. I agree with him.”
Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny entered Thursday’s game with a combined 2.16 ERA in 11 starts. Zambrano was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his four starts. The bullpen needs reinforcements, having compiled a 1-6 record and 6.14 ERA.
So when youthful 2B Gordon Beckham appeared on WSCR’s Mully and Hanley show this morning, it was with some surprise that Chicago heard a more hopeful perspective.
“Baseball,” offered Beckham, “comes in spurts.”
Indeed it does, young Gordon. So reminded, thoughts reel with the hydraulic possibilities. After all, weather remains terrible at home, and like many Southern-built models, Jake Peavy is not optimized for 39-degree outings. Even the ’97 team was competitive with an 81-80 finish. The bullpen is frighteningly good, and Freddy Garcia’s slippery spot may well provide the means to deservingly bust Matt Thornton into the rotation. On offense, the front office could heat up more than the temperature – hitting coach Greg Walker may finally fulfill his true function: to be pointlessly fired as a scapegoat. Cowed by guilt at the charade, Sox bats might catch fire in memory of their hapless coach. Anything could happen.
What Beckham is saying is that things can change. Whether he’s channeling Richard Hell, The Runaways or Peter North, we would do well to remember this as we fertilize our own lawns this spring.
(photo swiped from Mets Today. And to be fair, it was probably taken during batting practice. I hope.)
Over the past week, I’ve linked to stories concerning dismal attendance figures in Baltimore and Washington DC, so it would be remiss on my part not to acknowledge the Mets’ 5-2 defeat of the Cubs was witnessed by an alleged 28,535, though a quick glance at the television screen revealed the actual number of patrons on hand was far fewer. It’s a grim situation when the self-styled baseball capital of the universe can’t host an NL game in a venue that’s at least half full, particularly a ballpark of such recent vintage, but man (and woman) cannot live on Shake Shack alone. Caryn Rose of MetsGrrl addresses the Mets box office woes, and while she’s far more polite than I’d be (my first bit of advice would be “stop sucking”), she’s right on the money when it comes to Citi Field’s ticket pricing and treatment of the few who do bother to show up.
If you want to encourage attendance, here™s what you do:
Sell Standing Room tickets for $5, day of game only, box office only.
Bring back the discounts. $5 upper deck tickets, LIRR discounts, MetroCard discounts, bring a Pepsi can discounts, discounts for students with ID, discounts if you™re unemployed and can prove it.
Cut the service charges for tickets bought online for certain low-demand games. $4 PER TICKET *plus* $5 for the whole order on top of that is highway robbery. Find a way to discount this.
Give season and plan ticket holders a discount for buying tickets.
Give plan holders better seats and stop holding the prime seats for the mythical full season holder that will not arrive for several more years. No one wants to go to a game and sit in rows 14-18 when everything below them is empty. So far I have bought tickets for two games that were in better locations than anything the Mets made available to anyone in my ticket plan bracket.
The problem isn™t who is there, the problem is who isn™t there because the prices or location or associated Dave Howard customer disservice bullshit kept them out. I™m talking about the senior citizens who sat behind us on Saturdays in Section 8 in the Upper Deck who had been at Shea since the year it opened, the retired LIRR conductors who sat in row D of Section 12 on the Mezz, the Latino high school kids who knew how to sneak into the mezzanine boxes when the usher™s back was turned, the schoolteacher and her boyfriend from the Loge who wanted to upgrade to 40 games from 25 until they realized the seating locations were unattractive and there were no playoff rights, and us, who could finally afford and wanted a 40 game plan more than anything but wanted it in the Promenade Reserved Infield, which the Mets will not sell for reasons that escape me.
(image originally posted at Deadspin, and not, we should stress, from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Stupid Ape exhibit)
While Byron Leftwich has replaced Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers depth chart, the embattled QB finds himself supplanted by former Penguins icon Mario Lemieux, at least where a local zoo is concerned. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette :
An image of Big Ben has been used in a display on the pathway leading to the elephant barn at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The graphic compares the height of the elephants to other creatures.
The Steelers quarterback was still at the zoo on Thursday, but a new sign has been made using the image of hockey great Mario Lemieux and will replace the Roethlisberger piece of the exhibit.
Asked if the display change has anything to do with current events, a zoo spokesman said, “well, we have had some calls.”
“Mr. Roethlisberger isn’t the most popular person lately,” said Tracy Gray, manager of public and media relations.
Who knew Isiah Thomas had resurfaced as general manager of an NFL franchise? Last night, the Broncos flipped second, third and fourth round draft picks to Baltimore in order to acquire the second of their first round choices, a selection they wasted used on Florida QB/Christ-like figure Tim Tebow. Charitably described as “a project” by some (as opposed, y’know, a guy who can’t throw the ball), Tebow was projected as a 3rd rounder, and while the former Heisman winner is in the words of CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman, “a nice young man” (“every father should want his daughter to marry him”), “the countdown until Josh McDaniels gets his ass canned has officially started.”
Tebow, the least NFL ready of the big names, goes before Jimmy Clausen, the most NFL ready. Clausen is in the middle of a Brady Quinn freefall and could go in the second round to Minnesota on Friday.
The juxtaposition is striking. The current positioning of the two players says a great deal about what the NFL thinks of Clausen. It’s also a statement on how Tebow and his management team pulled a great snow job on the Broncos by highlighting his alleged revamped throwing motion.
It’s easy to understand what happened here. The perception of Tebow as a good guy and seller of tickets and jerseys is opposite that of Clausen, who is seen by the league as a cocky jerk.
It was almost conspiratorial what happened to these two. Teams propped up Tebow because they liked him personally while simultaneously tearing down Clausen because they thought he was arrogant. One NFC scout told me on Thursday night: “Jimmy Clausen’s smirk finally caught up with him.”
Clausen has top 15 talent and Tebow fourth- or fifth-round ability. If you can’t see that, turn in your personnel badge immediately. No more mock drafts for you.
You know it’s a really strange draft when the Raiders have a better draft day than the Broncos.
“He just told me to get off his mound,” Rodriguez said. “I was a little surprised. I’d never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”
The whole thing started when Rodriguez went from first to third on a foul ball by Robinson Cano. On his way back to first, Rodriguez ran across the pitcher™s mound, which Braden saw as a sign of disrespect.
“I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or the 25th man on the roster, if I’ve got the ball in my hand and I’m on that mound, that’s my mound, Braden said. “He ran across the pitcher’s mound foot on my rubber. No, not happening. W’™re not the door mat anymore.”
“He should maybe watch his Captain a little more often,” Braden said.
Rodriguez said he had never heard the unwritten rule that a player shouldn’t run across the mound. When Braden started yelling at him, Rodriguez didn’t know what it was about. “I thought it was pretty funny, actually,” Rodriguez said.
The Star-Ledger’s Marc Craig collected a few month priceless quotes from Braden, who more than earned himself a bunch of new fans in the past 12 hours.
“He’s right, I don’t even have a handful of wins,” said Braden, who improved to 3-0 this season, career victory No. 17. “I have three. Do the math A-Rod.”
“I don’t go over there and run laps at third base. I don’t go over there. I don’t spit over there. I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound, foot on my rubber. No. Not flyin.”
ESPN NY’s Matt Simon polled a handful of prominent Mets bloggers and asked them to select their most gut-wrenching moment in Amazins history. Out of oh-so-many to choose from (“Al Harazin cannot find his pants”, “George Foster in the recording studio”), the finalists included the late season collapses of 2007 and 2008, the Yankees winning the 2000 World Series at Shea, Carlos Beltran taking a called third strike from Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 NLCS, and Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run in the 11th innning of 1999′s NLCS Game 6.
Pantelis Kotsiopoulos sued Bradley in Cook County Circuit Court in January for about $44,000 in unpaid rent on his one-year lease of Kotsiopoulos’ 24th-floor North Michigan Avenue condo. The suit alleged that Bradley had agreed to pay up to $15,000-a-month rent.
More recently, Kotsiopoulos alleged Bradley had caused $13,900 in damages to the condo before he split. The suit contended he left red paint on white silk draperies, water rings and wine stains on an ebony zebra wood credenza, food and juice stains on a silk velvet ottoman, and a five-foot coffee splattering on the master bedroom carpet.
“I viewed the apartment today,” Kotsiopoulos said Wednesday in a phone interview. “I saw the damage he had left first-hand and it is real damage.”
Bradley has in turn demanded at least $30,000 from Kotsiopoulos, saying that the condo owner never returned his $15,000 security deposit and failed to notify him of any property damage in a timely fashion.
Kotsiopoulos said that the sluggish economy has prevented him from re-leasing the condo and that if he could talk to Bradley face-to-face he would tell him “to grow up.”
In late December, Wallace Matthews, a veteran sports columnist, was told twice that the tone of the sports page would have to change, and he™d have to make an adjustment. A few days after the new year, Mr. Matthews handed in a column about how much better the Jets were for having Rex Ryan as their coach, especially when compared to his predecessors. In his first draft, Mr. Wallace called former Jets coaches Bill Parcells œsurly and Eric Mangini œsomething like ˜he™s about as communicative as a mummy,™ he said.
That™s not exactly breaking from conventional wisdom”both coaches have been described in worse terms by local sports pundits. Nor is it really breaking from how tabloids cover local sports teams.
Mr. Matthews™ lines were edited out and rephrased. œI said, ˜Why?™ said Mr. Matthews, recalling the conversation he had with his editor at the time. œ[Sports editor] Hank Winnicki said that Debby doesn™t want name-calling.™ I said, ˜It™s not name-calling.™
In February, he was assigned to write a column on Groundhog Day about the Mets. He said he wrote a œsarcastic column about how the Mets seem to suffer from the same problem year after year. He said there was no name-calling. œHank called me and said, ˜You know this can™t get into the paper, said Mr. Matthews. œI said, ˜If it™s not getting in the paper, then I™m done writing columns. I know I still know how to write a column; I just don™t know how to do it for you.”
Mr. Matthews said he was told he had œthe wrong tone.
œThey don™t want sarcasm in the paper, he said. œWhat they want is straightforward analysis of why they™re having problems. You can™t have fun with it. You have to say the Mets need help at first base because Daniel Murphy is hitting .220.
Though I doubt many Mets fans will consider the departure of Matthews — who has since resurfaced at ESPN NY — a tragedy, he’s on the money when he reminds Koblin, “these are the people who fired Marv Albert for being too critical of the Knicks” (“they™re running the paper into the ground the way they did with the Garden and the Wiz. They™ve turned it into shit.) That Wally’s been a serial Mets basher isn’t the point. Neither he or his former Newsday colleagues can do their jobs properly under such ridiculous conditions, though as long as Cablevision continues to gouge the public, it’s doubtful the Straight Shot’s despicable frontman will suffer the consequences of his actions.
The Nationals’ track record over the last four years has left this organization an afterthought among a population far more interested in whether the Caps beat the Canadiens in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoff series (they did) and whether the Redskins will draft a quarterback tomorrow night (who knows?).
On a rainy, chilly Wednesday night on South Capitol Street, a paid crowd of 11,191 — there were perhaps half that many fans actually in attendance — watched D.C.’s ballclub scrap its way to another victory. It was the smallest crowd in the District since the franchise arrived in 2005, smaller than the previous low of 11,623, set only two days ago.
A grand total of 37,851 fans have attended these last three games against the Rockies. The ballpark is capable of holding more than 41,000 on any one given day.
Is this team going to hover around the .500 mark all season? Common sense says no. But did anyone expect Frank Robinson’s 2005 club — a club with far less talent than this one, by the way — to stand at 50-31 on July 4?
I had a meeting with the team as we always do the first day of the series, and our advance [scouting] stuff was pretty precise and I thought the plan was laid pretty clearly. And what I saw last night didn™t sit well with me. I feel like I™m talking to the wall. I™ve got coaches putting in six to eight hours a day planning, video, reports and this or that. Some of the pitchers look [so tight]. They look like they are pitching totally different than what we want. It hasn™t been acceptable. I™m very patient, but I™ll tell you the truth: I didn™t have anybody come up to me afterwards and disagree.
It™s time to dial it up and get this thing going in a positive direction and quit accepting it and saying “It™s OK.” It™s not OK. It™s not OK at all. And I™m tired of covering for them. I get questions point blank, and I feel like I™m a damn presidential press secretary sometimes. Instead of telling them how it is, I got to smooth it over. I ain™t smoothing it over anymore. Everybody here is intuitive enough. They know. I love the players. There are people that want to see them fail. I happen to be one that doesn™t want them to fail. I want to see the Baltimore Orioles succeed. And I know the odds are against us, but I think we can do it. That™s how I feel.
While UK TV biz insiders point to Five Live’s Colin Murray as the most likely candidate to succeed Adrian Chiles on the BBC’s “Match Of The Day 2″, the Guardian’s Barney Ronay launches a pre-emptive strike against another option, former “Soccer AM” host / author Tim Lovejoy (above, left).
Lovejoy brings his own brash, self-propelling sub-glamour. But he also brings a palpable ignorance of football beyond recent-vintage Premier League, as professed in his own brutally honest mea culpa hardback confessional Lovejoy On Football (misinterpreted by some as a simple celebrity memoir).
Plus, he brings a uniquely unapologetic amour-propre. Lovejoy loves Lovejoy. This is the dominant Lovejoy theme of any Lovejoy-fronted Lovejoy vehicle. This isn’t necessarily an obstacle to presenting sport well. Chiles is clearly also an operator and a toys-out-of-the-pram merchant. George Allison, the BBC’s first ever commentator, was an egomaniacal impresario who also managed Arsenal, hung out with movie stars and flashed about the place carrying a gold cigar case. But still some sense of detachment on screen is required, a concession to professional modesty. As opposed to that sense of having Lovejoy-scented laughter barked into your face, your CD collection name-dropped, your inner thigh forcibly autographed and essence of Lovejoy banter expertly syringed into both your ears.
Some trends in new media reach great heights of popularity while others vanish. While it isn’t clear in every case what differentiates a future IPO-worthy juggernaut from a worthless abandoned domain name, success stories tend to come from those ideas that are widely embraced by business. Suggest that your interweb gewgaw makes or saves money in some way, and its prospects brighten. Prove it, and they brighten even further.
This was the history of the rise of Twitter. In 2008, the microblogging service didn’t have to struggle much to explain itself, as its proponents could point to a series of corporate early adopters who had leveraged the medium. Of these, at least to internet pundits, cable TV operator Comcast was the most remarkable. The audacity of the hated, legendarily customer-hostile company making a digital whipping boy available for damage control one pissed-off customer tweet at a time made lots of news and generated lots of notoriety for both Twitter and Comcast. PR flacks, net pundits and social media consultants agreed: nothing could go wrong with this new synergy.
To be fair, none of them were thinking of Ozzie Guillen, Comcast customer/avid Twitterer. As a fellow victim, repeatedly burned by Comcast’s classically laissez-faire approach to showing up and doing stuff, it is with a certain joy that I present the skipper’s afternoon tweets as reported by Sun-Times blogger Kyle Koster:
Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox may have used the comforts of home to snap a four-game losing streak with a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays last night, but he’s having a bit of a rough day back at his own home.
It seems Comcast has drawn the ire of the outspoken manager.
“Waiting for comcast people to show up in my house godddddd please take a little longer is not free,” he tweeted.
Guillen was apparently led to believe the cable company would be there at 8 a.m. As of around noon, he was stil waiting.
“Its amazing to me how u have to wait for cable. As if I was getting it for free. 8 am they said wow,” another tweet reads.
“Comcast is now saying they came to my house. They suck. Its not free they r not the only cable company,” he continued.
It just goes to show it doesn’t matter who you are. Between 8 and noon doesn’t always mean between 8 and noon, World Series ring or not.
It was surmised earlier here at SOMM that the Pittsburgh Steelers schedule was set up with Roethlisberger™s pending suspension in mind. ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter concurred, saying it was apparent that the schedule maker had the suspension in mind as the Steelers their first six games before no nationally-televised audience and then five nationally-televised games in their final 10 games.
NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith has said he is not in favor of Goodell™s suspending of Roethlisberger. Smith said he œfavors our country™s democracy and that we fought a war to rid the U.S. of being lorded over by a œking. The clear implication from Smith is that Goodell is acting autonomously in the Roethlisberger situation rather than in concert with or with the blessing of the Commissioner™s employers, the 32 team owners.
Whether or not Wilson or Schefter can prove the networks knew of Roethlisberger’s temporary ban, it wasn’t hard to tell some sort of punitive action was forthcoming. And in the unlikely event it just so happened that a ratings cash cow like the Steelers disappeared from early Autumn national TV schedules, there’s no coincidence surrounding Pittsburgh acquiring Byron Leftwich from Tampa Bay on the eve of Roethlisberger facing the music.
Who amongst us hasn’t made a quick exit from a major league ballpark the moment a walkoff HR cleared the fence? OK, maybe not you, but I’ve done it a bunch of times over the years, especially when Armando Benitez was pitching for the Mets away from home. Last night at Turner Field, however, it was an altogether different set of circumstances at the end of Atlanta’s dramatic defeat of Philadelphia, as USA Today’s Paul White explains.
As Nate McLouth completed his home run trot, ready for the bouncing mass of teammates awaiting at home plate, he found nobody, just umpire Paul Nauert making sure McLouth touched ‘em all.
The dugout? Empty. It was a walkoff for all the Braves, it turns out, who pulled a prank by all heading up the tunnel that leads to the clubhouse. That’s where they waited to celebrate.
“I didn’t know what to do,” McLouth said. “I looked around for a second and everybody was gone.”
We’ve been hearing for ages about the competitive disadvantage faced by everyone in the AL East other than the Red Sox and Yankees, along with the economic benefits attached to playing the superpowers a combined 36 times a year. Considering Tampa’s 2007 success an aberration rather than a cause for hope, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan argues the time has come to “get rid of divisions…get rid of unbalanced schedules..get rid of inequality.”
It™s quite simple. Make two leagues, the American and National, with no geographical split. The AL has 14 teams and the NL 16 or, for true equitability, each league goes with 15 and baseball turns interleague play into a season-long event. Either way, the teams with the four best records in each league make the playoffs.
Short of a salary cap, to which the players™ union will never agree, bringing socialism to alignment is the clearest way. Treat every team as equally as possible when it comes to scheduling, travel and pathway to the postseason.
The Rays shouldn™t be damned to always chasing the Yankees and Red Sox because they play in a stadium on a particular coast. Excellent management deserves reward, not an impossible-to-sustain situation. Following my column on the inevitability of the Rays losing talent, I engaged in a friendly debate with Jonah Keri on the team™s long-term viability. He is writing a book on the Rays and believes they™ll continue to thrive. I™m a tad more skeptical.
This entire debate is unnecessary. A solution stares baseball in the face, and as the end of the current labor agreement approaches in December 2011, the conversation about distribution of revenue-sharing money may get ugly. The Yankees and Red Sox are tired of supporting the welfare system that props up the Rays and other low-revenue teams, and any suggestion that rich give more to poor will widen the rift. It™s going to be owners vs. players “ and, perhaps, owners vs. owners, too.
So blow it up. Start over. Unalign. Allow teams to keep the current sharing agreement while addressing the balance problem. Sacrifice the bonanza of Yankees-Red Sox 18 times a year “ sorry, ESPN “ for a schedule that evenly spreads games against them and gives every AL team a substantive piece of the New York-Boston ticket spike. As unfair as life is in the AL East, it™s downright comfortable in the other divisions.
Passan is onto something when he cites “owner vs. owner”. Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Florida — to name just 3 examples — have already proven there are agendas besides winning. And once Flushing’s NL entry is out from underneath Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana’s contracts, who’s to say the Amazing Madoffs Mets might not treasure their 9 visits a year from the Phillies above and beyond any competitive considerations?
Recently, the business relationship between James Bond villain new Nets owner and absolutely legit Russian nickel-mine oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and Zimbabwe nation-destroyer Robert Mugabe occasioned some head-scratching on the part of NBA fans wondering what it takes to be rejected as an owner for a NBA team. Or at least it occasioned head-scratching on my part, which head-scratching I characteristically performed in public, in this space.
But while I suspect that everyone knows the answer — namely, that the only thing that can prevent anyone from becoming a NBA owner is not having enough money to buy a team — it’s interesting, too, to see just how little the NBA cares to discipline the nightmare owners it already has. The venal embarrassments represented by Jersey’s Bruce Ratner and Oklahoma City’s Clay Bennett and Long Island’s New York’s James Dolan are pretty bad, but Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (above) is really the gold standard, here. It’s not just that Sterling has turned what should be one of the NBA’s most valuable franchises into an implausibly long-running laughingstock, although the way in which he has screwed over management and alternately disrespected and really disrespected his players is admittedly impressive. And it’s not just that Sterling himself is a human embarrassment so profound that even a James Dolan/Jerry Jones Master-Blaster pairing pales in comparison.
It’s not just any of those things, and it’s not even the embarrassing picture of Sterling as a man and manager that they create when taken altogether. It’s the fact that Sterling is a malfeasance machine and lawsuit-magnet of such monumental proportions that seemingly any high-net-worth dirtbag in Los Angeles would be an improvement. Which is obviously saying quite a bit. But while Robert Evans, for instance, would be embarrassing, it’s highly unlikely that Evans would just decide not to honor the contract of the coach/GM he just fired without explanation, right? Sterling, on the other hand…
Dunleavy resigned as coach Feb. 4, with the team announcing he would stay as GM. As GM, Dunleavy lasted until March 8 before he was fired, at which point, without announcement, the Clippers cut off his pay.
Dunleavy was owed $1.35 million for the balance of this season and $5.4 million for next season, a total of $6.75 million…
[Dunleavy lawyer Miles] Clements said Clippers officials at first said they would like to negotiate a settlement, then dropped the request. “Their attorney [Platt] didn’t identify an issue,” Clements said. “He said, ˜I’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks.’
“I asked, ˜Will Mike be paid in the meantime?’
“He said he didn’t know. I said, ˜OK, I guess I know where we’re at.’ “
Thanks to Brendan Flynn for the link. And good luck to James Dolan in topping this one. I give him about a week.