09.28.10

St. Pete Scribe To Longria : Stop Biting The Hand That’s Too Cheap Or Apathetic To Feed You

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 3:04 am by


(rare photographic evidence of Tropicana Field with a sizable crowd in attendance)

A  4-0, home loss to Baltimore Monday night would’ve clinched an AL playoff berth for Tampa had the host prevailed, delaying by at least a day what in all likelihood will be the Rays qualifying for the postseason for just the second time in franchise history.  This nearly-momentous occasion was witnessed by fewer than 13,oo0 paying customers, a circumstance that caused Rays 3B Evan Longoria to complain, “for the fans to show the kind of support they’re showing right now, you kind of wonder what else you have to do as a player.” P David Price echoed Longoria’s sentiments, tweeting that Monday’s attendance was “embarrassing”.  In the considered view of the St. Petersburg Times’ John Romano — who freely admits these turnouts are brutally poor (“for a market that wants to be big league, for a fan base that claims to be rabid, 12,446 has to be considered highly disappointing”) — “it is poor judgment to criticize the very people who help fund their paychecks on the first and 15th of every month.”  Except of course, Longoria and Price were criticizing the people who don’t fund their paychecks.

It’s not that Longoria, or other Rays players, forfeit their opinions because of their bank accounts. All of us have rights to our own opinions. Still, the players have to understand how this sounds to the mother or father trying to decide whether tonight is the night to juggle the family budget so they can afford the cost of tickets and parking and a hot dog.

The simple truth is athletes and entertainers in this country are ridiculously overpaid. Now I certainly don’t blame them for that. They have special talents, and they are cashing in on America’s fascination with celebrity and sports.

But you can’t make more money than an entire neighborhood, then question why the people in that neighborhood aren’t showing up to watch you perform.

Because, in the end, the problem is not Tampa Bay’s fans. The guy in the car next to you is not at fault. The teacher at your local elementary school is not to blame. The problem is the market itself. It has some inherent problems, and those problems are larger than a single ticket buyer.

It has to do with a lack of corporations and high-paying jobs. It has to do with challenging geography and fixed incomes. It has to do with a lack of community identity. And, yes, it might have to do with a particular stadium.

I would absolutely agree with anyone who says that Tampa Bay is not a great sports market.

I just think it defeats the purpose when Tampa Bay’s biggest stars are the ones saying it.

09.27.10

Tim Kawakami’s Preface To Mike Singletary’s (Professional) Obituary

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 11:42 pm by

With the sudden resignation of Don Nelson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors over the weekend, Tim Kawakami was denied a favored subject/target for the upcoming NBA season.  Undaunted, the San Jose Mercury News columnist can focus full attention on the 0-3 San Francisco 49′ers, whose 31-10 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday provoked the firing of oft-castigated offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, he of the allegedly ungodly delay relaying plays to QB Alex Smith. “If he cannot snap himself and his team immediately out of this, then Sept. 26, 2010, probably was the beginning of the end for his fascinating 49ers tenure,” declares Kawakami, who might run out of professional coaches to fire before December if Tom Cable treats Sebastian Janikowski the way he might a mouthy spouse and/or non-deferential assistant.

It’s fair to ask: In a league dominated by master strategists, have the 49ers gone as far as they can go with a coach who disdains intricate strategy and who hired Jimmy Raye as his offensive coordinator?

This is a team with talent — at least as much as the Chiefs, and probably more. This team is very motivated. And yet, the 49ers are on the brink, already in September, and the Chiefs are 3-0.

Now they have to go to Atlanta next Sunday, which is a direct line to 0-4. Then a home game against red-hot Philadelphia, which could mean 0-5. Can Singletary turn around the ship that swiftly?

“Once we look at the film, we will,” Singletary said. “We’ll do what we have to do to get it right.”

That’s what he said. He has said similar things in the past. But this time, Singletary didn’t sound at all too sure — of the result, or of himself. And if he’s not sure of himself, then I don’t know who else could be.

Yet Another Samurai Sword-Wielding Incident That Ends Badly

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 5:33 pm by

(video still from KIRO.tv)

A Lacey, WA man was subdued by a SWAT team Friday following a dispute over a baseball car at a nearby convenience store. Words like “samuri sword” and “tear gas” figure prominently in this tale, and BBTN’s Gamingboy poses the most obvious question of all ; whose card was it? Given that the sword-wielder was described as “delusional”, I think the answer is pretty clear.

Inside Donnie Walsh’s Panic War Room

Posted in Basketball at 2:12 pm by

Carmelo Anthony was a surprise participant (sort of) at Nuggets media day this morning, if only to remind the local press that he’s still under contract to Denver.  With no shortage of bidders — including the Bulls, Nets and Sixers — for Anthony’s services, it would seem all hopes of ‘Melo in a Knicks uniform have been dashed.  And if that doesn’t sit well with New York team president Donnie Walsh, how might you think it’s going down with history’s most generic blues guitarist? CBS Sports’ Ken Berger describes the level of desperation at The World’s Most Dysfunctional Arena :

As the Nets’ deal moved closer to completion Monday, one team sources say is more involved than commonly thought is the Knicks. After New York fell short in its pursuit of LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade, it would be devastating for the Knicks to watch Anthony go to their cross-river rival — especially since that rival is moving into the city limits to Brooklyn in two years. While Knicks president Donnie Walsh has been in far from panic mode, he has been “working every angle” in an effort to get back in the game with Anthony, according to a rival executive familiar with Walsh’s approach.

“He’s the master,” the executive said. “I’ll put it this way: If there’s any way to get something done that he feels good about, he’ll get it done. He’ll leave no stone unturned.”

The characterization  of Walsh as a feverish wheeler-dealer is in stark contrast to reports from last summer, that depicted the veteran hoops exec as something of a tragic, near-death’s-door figure during attempts to woo LeBron James. So which is the real Donnie Walsh?   The drooling invalid whose liquid meals are prepared by Schlumpy and Steve Mills?  Or the dynamic deal-maker that captured the city’s favorite new Jew (after no one else wanted to pay him nearly as much)?

MSF’s Morris Vs. NFL’s Lax DUI Stance

Posted in Blogged Down, Gridiron, Sports Journalism at 1:16 pm by

WR Braylon Edwards might not be Dustin Keller, but he still played a key role in the Jets’ 31-23 road defeat of Miami last night, despite having been busted for DUI just 5 days earlier. Noting the participation of Edwards — along with Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, charged with DUI last spring, Midwest Sports Fans’ Jerod Morris bemoans a system that suspends PED users while taking a cavalier approach to drunk driving (“the only thing separating Brown and Edwards from an infamous and indefinite existence of regret and remorse, the kind of existence that is an unfortunate but deserved reality for Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little, is luck”)

The NFL suspends players for drug use of all kinds, which I think is fine, especially in the case of performance enhancers. So why not suspend anyone who is pulled over and blows a BAL above the legal limit? No one else is ever going to die from Brian Cushing™s decision to *ahem* overtrain, but it only takes one time and a little bad luck for someone else to make the same decision Braylon Edwards and I made for it to result in a tragedy.

Donte Stallworth and Leonard Little paid huge prices, both monetarily and in terms of suspension length, for killing people while driving drunk. Ronnie Brown and Braylon Edwards paid very little price, but only luck and happenstance really separates these four people. So why such disparate punishments for essentially the same choice?.

09.26.10

Murray Chass Perfects Awesome, If Slightly Genteel Tracy Ringolsby Impersonation

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 7:32 pm by

(if Murray Chass owned an iPod, rest assured, the studio version of this song would not be on it)

Hey, were you aware that not only does Billy Beane’s shit “not work in the playoffs”, but it hasn’t worked so well in the regular season of late? Has it escaped your knowledge that old-school baseball evaluators have occasional discovered a decent player or two? Just in case you were oblivious to the above, former NY Times columnist Murray Chass would like to use the occasion of former Cards / current Reds GM Walt Jocketty’s 2010 success to rub it in just a little bit.

Jocketty was probably the most notable victim of the modern-day baseball war between evaluation and analysis. It mattered not to DeWitt that Jocketty™s belief in player evaluation had worked extremely well for the Cardinals. The owner was seduced by others in the organization into believing that statistical analysis was the way to go.

That was the method created by Bill James and was featured in the Michael Lewis book œMoneyball, which ridiculed one Oakland scout not for his inability to judge players but for the fact that he was fat.

Younger members of front offices have espoused analysis over evaluation, and the Cardinals were one of the places they succeeded in gaining a foothold, much to Jocketty™s dismay.

A critical factor in his effort has been the addition of three men who worked for him in St. Louis “ Jerry Walker, Cam Bonifay and Mike Squires. These scouts and scouting executives know how to use calculators and computers, but more important, they use their eyes and can evaluate what they see.

Chass’ general point is well taken — the advent of modern statistical analysis didn’t render a baseball lifer like Walt Jocketty full-of-shit.  But there is something kind of astonishing about calculators being cited as a modern tool given that the contemporary portable modern has been in existence for nearly 40 years.

Guess Who’s Not Getting Buried In A Jewish Cemetary (Besides Eric Hinske)?

Posted in Australian Rules Football, Free Expression at 5:26 pm by

Perhaps setting the (ahem) gold standard for hardcore support of AFL side Collingwood ; Justin Witicombe, above, tells The Herald Sun he has 30 tattoo tributes to the Magpies adorning his body, including one on what the paper helpfully calls “his manly bits”. The Big Lead makes reference to additional ink honoring Mike Tyson and Paul Stanley, proving that if nothing else, Mr. Witicombe isn’t merely drawing from a rich cultural mosaic,  he is a rich cultural mosaic.

When The Going Gets Tough, Does Favre Go Back To Hattiesburg?

Posted in Gridiron at 12:14 pm by

Skipping most of training camp is one thing, but are the Vikings and 41 (thousand) year old QB Brett Favre already making provisions for the latter to take an early vacation?  Consider the following tidbit from the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Charley Waters;

If the offense-devoid Vikings were to lose to the lowly Detroit Lions today at the Metrodome, it would be interesting whether the winless Vikings would try to save some of their $16 million investment in Brett Favre this season by trying to reach a contract compromise with the soon-to-be 41-year-old quarterback.

With a bothersome left ankle and unproductive receivers, coupled with the possibility of a 0-3 start, where’s the future for Favre? And this season for the Vikings?

There’s no reason to believe Waters is doing anything other than thinking out loud. But unless Favre is physically unable to perform, negotiating a buyout because he-can’t-stand-to-lose would be the ultimate indictment of his selfishness, if not the Vikes’ failure to maintain even the slightest facade of being a real team.

09.25.10

Rownay On Phillips Idowu’s Commonwealth Games Disappearing Act

Posted in Track & Field at 1:02 pm by

Great Britain’s world triple-jump champion Phillips Idowu (above) announced his intent to skip the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Dehli, citing concerns over safety that are being echoed by others in the GB camp. The Guardian’s Barney Rownay considers Idowu’s situation and declares, ‘India does have plenty to apologise for: those terrible middle-aged hammy male Bollywood stars with their gnarly sunglassed gangster faces; the new moneyed generation of Prada-class goons…but it seems a little sad they are being forced to apologise for its poverty and its vast, insoluble muddle.”

“I cannot take any risk whatsoever, no matter how small,” Idowu declared on Twitter, presumably while being winched slowly from his lead-lined sleep chamber by hired ninja guards and strapped into his padded high chair for a breakfast of pre‘masticated custard.

There are a number of conclusions you may draw from this. The first is that Idowu, in common with a number of similarly minded team-mates, believes there is a genuine chance he will be hit by a collapsing item of city infrastructure while competing in the triple jump. It may be useful to point out here that of all human beings Idowu is perhaps best placed to avoid this hazard, his hopping, skipping and jumping capabilities being ideally suited to escaping falling debris in a track and field scenario.

Stars of track and field are beautiful people with fast-twitch muscle fibres and lovely clear complexions, but they also exist by necessity in a bubble of ascetic absorption. Their lives are a blend of agonising exertion and downtime pampering. They don’t generally travel to broaden the mind, or take gap years or spend four months wearing the same student-issue stripy cotton trousers and living in a beach hut so lowly even the rats are hunch-backed. Photos of grime-encrusted bathroom fittings in the athletes’ village “ where, no doubt, the on-site construction workers are currently billeted “ will have troubled these citizens of the international chain-hotel circuit.

4th Place Team Objects To Baseball Being Played In Non-Passive Manner

Posted in Baseball at 12:44 pm by

Besides squandering another decent starting performance by R.A. Dickey, the big talking point emerging from the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the wildly streaking Phillies last night is Chase Utley’s mugging of NY 2B Ruben Tejada while attempting to break up a double play.  What passes for outspoken leadership on the Mets, Jose Reyes and David Wright, each took exception to the play, as quoted by the Star-Ledger’s Andy McCullough who notes there was no retaliation forthcoming from the visitors after this violent act.



œThere™s no need to slide right on top of the base, Jose Reyes said. œYou can blow out some guy™s knee, something like that there.

œIt’s a legal slide, David Wright said. œIt’s within the rules. But somebody is going to get hurt. He added, œWe’ll reevaluate the way we go into second base.

The collision was fierce. That comes partly from Utley, who also slide hard to Reyes earlier in the game And that comes partly from Tejada, who weighs about 160 pounds and is still learning how to play second base.

Much as it pains me to do so, I’m in full agreement (gulp) with Matt P. of The 700 Level, who says of Wright’s veiled threat, “he failed to indicate where that item ranks on the list of things the Mets need to reevaluate.”

Meanwhile, the Mets weren’t opposed to a little gamesmanship of their own, calling an ice-the-kicker timeout in the middle of Brad Lidge’s stretch in the ninth.

Already eliminated from meaningful baseball beyond next week, they have nothing to lose, and they seem plenty pissed off. Maybe they should’ve tried getting fired up a little sooner. In any case, the next two games just got a little more interesting.