04.22.10

Milton Bradley Accused Of Credenza, Ottoman Abuse

Posted in Baseball at 12:47 pm by

Ben Schwartz took valuable time out last night from celebrating Carlos Silva’s mastery of the New York Mets to forward the following report from the Chicago Tribune’s Cynthia Dizikes.  Though the Dizikes no longer shares an employer with former Cubs OF Milton Bradley (above, right), the paper isn’t quite finished making Bradley look bad, citing a local landlord’s claims against the moody Mariner.

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.”

Dolan To Newsday Sports Scribes : If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Feel Free To Say It Elsewhere

Posted in Sports Journalism at 12:27 pm by

(not exactly the second coming of Katherine Graham)

Since Cablevision purchased Newsday and put the venerable Long Island daily’s web content behind a pay wall for anyone besides subscribers to the cable TV provider, the writing of talented folks like Neil Best, Bob Glauber, David Lennon and Alan Hahn have become a mere rumor to this longtime fan. As such, if anything has changed about the quality of their work, I’d be unaware were it not for this disturbing item from the New York Observer’s John Koblin.

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.

Washington Nationals Baseball : (Tens Of Thousands Of) Good Seats Still Available

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, The Marketplace at 11:46 am by

While the Orioles’ box office struggles have received some attention of late, former Washington Times beat reporter Mark Zuckerman considers the plight of the Nationals, who defeated the Rockies at home last night in relative privacy.  From Thursday’s Nats Insider :

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?

O’s Trembley : I’m No Ron Nessen

Posted in Baseball at 2:20 am by

“I shouldn™t have to talk to guys at the major league level about some of the very basics,” groused Orioles manager Dave Trembley (above) prior to Wednesday night’s loss to King Felix and the Mariners, but that’s exactly what the embattled skipper did during a pregame meeting described to a group of reporters that included the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.  “I’m tired of a lot of things, to be honest with you,” confessed Trembley, echoing the sentiments of however few paying customers are still showing up to watch Peter Angelos’ franchise.

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.

04.21.10

Ronay : Anyone But Lovejoy For MOTD2

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 10:10 pm by

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.

Comcast And Twitter: Cozy Before Ozzie

Posted in Baseball, twitter twatter at 5:19 pm by

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.

Wilson : NFL’s TV Schedule Adjusted For Roethlisberger Absence

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 5:03 pm by

(judge, jury, executioner, and most importantly, CEO. Ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner Aaron Eckhart)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell today suspended Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger for the first 6 games of the 2010 season, the move coming on the heels of repeated allegations — thus far unproven — of sexual assault by the two-time Super Bowl champion.  That the league would censure Big Ben for violating their Code Of Conduct policy rather than actually breaking a law is hardly without precedent, however, Sports On My Mind’s dwil claims the NFL’s broadcast partners were previously tipped off as the nature of Roethlisberger’s unpaid vacation.

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.

Braves To McLouth : High Five Yourself

Posted in Baseball at 3:05 pm by

(above : McLouth arrives in empty dugout)

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.”

Yahoo’s Passan Proposes Unaligned MLB Socialism

Posted in Baseball at 2:45 pm by

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?

Further Adventures in Malfeasance: Sterling Continues To Define NBA Ownership Down

Posted in Basketball, Greedy Motherfuckers at 12:47 pm by

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.