If you’re wondering why anyone would turn to their local broadcast news outlet rather than “SportsCenter” or any number of regional cable variations for the final word on last night’s AFC Championship, the answer’s pretty simple : attention to detail.
Of course, given the disparity in their clubs’ available resources (and their respective number of post season victories), one might also surmise that Billy Beane has reason to covet the status of Brian Cashman. In the wake of the latter distancing himself from the Yankees paying Rafael Soriano more than $11 million per year to serve as Mariano Rivera’s set-up man, the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden suggests “a picture emerges of a GM who clearly wishes he was running a small-market team like his pal in Oakland.”
You get the feeling that Cashman is tired of being labled a “checkbook GM”, while viewing that $200 million Yankee payroll as an albatross rather than a built-in insurance policy for making the postseason every year. A tip-off of this was Cashman’s off-the-cuff remark to the Yankee beat writers at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. last December: “I haven’t had a problem knocking on Hal’s door and asking for more money. I have a problem sometimes of Hal saying yes. I know my title is general manager, but I consider myself the director of spending for the New York Yankees.”
Ever since that $423 million splurge in 2008, Cashman has taken great pains to state his annual goal of trimming the payroll and it’s no wonder that he still seethes privately about that Hank Steinbrenner-approved $275 million Alex Rodriguez contract that will curtail that effort through 2017. Cashman longs to build a team in his own image – a team fashioned around a homegrown nucleus like that of 1996-2001, one of his predecessors and mentor, Gene Michael; a team especially anchored by homegrown starting pitching. Judging by the hard public line Cashman took with Derek Jeter this winter, I believe that Cashman, left to his own means, would’ve offered the Yankee captain no more than a one-year deal with a vesting option and been perfectly content to go with Edwin Nunez as his starting shortstop this year.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said he won’t or doesn’t want to move former Oakland A’s Opening Day starter Joe Blanton (above), whose $8.5 million salary is reasonable for a #3, but high for a #5. As we all know, the fact that Amaro said this probably means a trade is coming. The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Bob Brookover says it should be:
Amaro said the Phillies don’t have to trade Blanton to reduce a payroll that is already over $160 million, and that’s probably true. Come July, however, the $8.5 million that Blanton will be paid this season could be better used on something other than a fifth starter.
As great as the Phillies’ first four starters should be this season, the team is not without some question marks. Brad Lidge finished strong last season, compiling a 0.73 ERA over the last two months before pitching four scoreless innings in the postseason. But he still wasn’t the guy who dominated the league in 2008.
And there’s no guarantee that the projected platoon of Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown in right field is going to provide the kind of production that will enable the Phillies to overcome the free-agent loss of Jayson Werth.
It would be a real shame and perhaps even a real disaster if Blanton’s $8.5 million salary prevented them from going after quality reinforcements.
A school of thought says that it might be impossible to deal Blanton because of his contract, but this is a guy whom the Phillies paid big dollars because they thought he would be a solid third starter in their rotation. Amaro needs to persuade only one other GM to believe the same thing. And when guys go down with injuries in spring training, the trade landscape can rapidly change.
But there’s a lot wrong with this logic. Trade Blanton now so you can deal/pay for other guys in July? Why not just trade Blanton in July, if the team has shown that it can win 100 games without him at that point? He’ll be worth more to a deadline contender wanting a post-season proven starter than he is for any old team with a #3 hole now. At that point teams will also be more willing to take all of his salary (which includes two more years of contract). Blanton is not overpaid, there just aren’t that many teams who can actually pay him (and need him) as a #3 or #4. If any team was willing to do that while providing the Phillies with anything but a laughable return, he would already be gone.
Sure, that means spending extra cash for 2-3 months, but that would also give the Phillies time to find out if they have the answers to the question that this column highlights (bullpen, RF). I suppose it’s possible that the $4 million they spend on Blanton for three months is $4 million they can’t spend on acquisitions in July, but those acquisitions would be half-price too. Plus, when you are dealing at the deadline, budgets get a little looser all around. Come July, you can trade Blanton himself for what you need, or for prospects if you’re moving some to fill those other needs.
And yes, players get injured in spring training. They also get injured during the season. Every current member of the Phillies rotation has spent time on the DL over the past three years, and each of the last three Phillies teams has needed not five, not six, but seven to eight starters. If JA Happ, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton – 60% of last year’s spring training rotation – can all go down for several months, so (unthinkable as it may be) can any of the current studs (three of whom are over 30). It would look pretty stupid to trade Joe Blanton and then have Kyle Kendrick instead of Roy Oswalt (and Brian Bass – ok, Vance Worley – in Kendrick’s spot) for even just a month if you don’t have to.
On the morning of the NFC Conference Championship, I’m having a genuine crisis of confidence as a pet owner/role model. I mean, this isn’t quite as awful as coming home and finding your kids listening to SalemTennisthese motherfuckers, but it’s still pretty jarring.
Using Blackpool’s Ian Holloway, who accused Villa of trying to “steal Adam from Blackpool ” as an example, Houllier said: “We did the right thing, we went to the club, we didn’t go to the player and, funnily enough, it came out from their side.
“There was nothing from Villa, and Ian said we are insulting him and the player and God knows what.”
“If I call [Bruce], and say, ‘I’m interested in your centre forward”, and he says, ‘No way, no chance’, then it will go in the press that Gerard Houllier is trying to disrupt. We did things right between the owners. We did that without unsettling the team.”
“Things have changed now. I know there used to be a time when a manager would call another manager and say: ‘I will buy your player for so much money.’ Now you are not the owner any more, the club is a different entity.” Warming to his theme, Houllier next questioned Sunderland’s version of events over Bent’s actual transfer.
“If I want to buy your house and you don’t want to sell, you just say no, whatever the price,” Houllier said.
“But if you don’t say no and accept the bid, what can you do? He was asked to do so [put in a transfer request], probably.”
In a parting shot, Houllier accused Bruce of being deliberately obtuse regarding the way modern transfers are conducted in an attempt to protect his status among supporters.
The Frenchman also suggested that Sunderland needed to improve their communication between board and manager. “When I heard it first of all, I thought it was not gracious. Our club has been more gracious in [similar] situations.”
“It is not going to prevent me from sleeping, I can tell you that. I thought: ‘Hang on a second, why is he having a go at me? Is he trying to protect himself from his fans?’ All he has got to do is say this is football now.”
Especially fans that already loathe you for events that transpired at the beginning of the decade. You remember, Kobe stayed at an Eagle, Colorado hotel and was accused of raping a 19-year-old in 2003. The sexual assault case against Kobe was eventually dropped and he was able to move past the embarrassing incident, but Denver fans have never forgotten or forgiven.
This is an instance where Bryant should have kept his mouth shut, no matter what his feelings are. Saying anything at all couldn’t have helped him, and considering the vitriol these fans already feel for Bryant, he’s sure to hear some unpleasant things anytime he sets foot in Colorado for the rest of his life.
Newly acquired Royals OF Jeff Francoeur was recently quoted by a K.C. scribe calling former home venue, Flushing’s Citi Field, “a damn joke”. Had such words oozed from the mouth of a hitter as prodigious as David Wright — whose power output dropped dramatically during Citi’s inaugural season — it’s unlikely they’d have been received with widespread scorn. However, coming from Francoeur, whose career numbers in other parks are barely any better — the resulting chorus of “shut the fuck up” is so loud, I can barely hear the Dynamic Truths LP over the racket. SNY.com’s Ted Berg sums up the situation nicely ; “at this site and many others, we laugh at your expense because you™re so bad at hitting and so good at somehow staying in the Major Leagues.”
Out of 26 qualifying right fielders in 2010, your wRC+, — probably the best offensive stat we have, even if it’s not on the scoreboard — was dead last. And by a lot. Actually, if we tally up all the stats from 2006 when you came into the league, you’re still at the very bottom of the list. Way below Kosuke Fukudome, way below Randy Winn, way below the pathetic shell of Shawn Green that the Mets trotted out in 2006 and 2007. You are baseball’s worst-hitting right fielder, by far.
That stat, I should add, is adjusted for the park in which you play your home games. Your struggles had nothing to do with Citi Field, and everything to do with you. You swing too much, and every pitcher in the league knows it. You’re doing it wrong, sir.
In Francoeur’s defense, we’re only presuming he’s referring to Citi’s spacious dimensions and not the conditions of the park’s crumbling luxury boxes.
(aTelecine’s Sasha Grey, nonplussed by the stereotypical characterization below)
SI.com’s Jeff Pearlman recently caught a great deal of heat for his dim view of Jeff Bagwell’s suitability as a Hall of Fame candidate, and writing today for CNN.com, the author of “The Bad Guys Won”, tackles the lack of interweb civility, bemoaning an age in which, ‘the filter that was a pen and paper has vanished, replaced by the immediate gratification of negativity’.
In response to something I wrote on my blog about Jeff Bagwell and the Baseball Hall of Fame, Matt, a college student from Missouri, tweeted me a couple of times.
The words were snarky and snide and rude. His final message, however, left an extra special impression: “I got caught up in the anonymity of the internet. I’m sorry and here is a legit post with my criticisms.” Upon opening the pasted link, I was greeted by a nasty pornographic image that would make Sasha Grey vomit into the nearest trash can.
I aspired to know why Matt, cloaked in the anonymity provided by the internet, felt the need to respond in such a way to, of all things, a Jeff Bagwell post.
So, going deep, deep, deep undercover, I tracked him down and, shortly after our exchange, gave him a call.
Quite frankly, I wanted to hate him. I wanted to bash him. I wanted to plaster his name, address and personal information atop a column on CNN.com, so that when someone Googled his name for future employment, they’d find the words “Sent me a link to pornographic material.”
Then we spoke. And I (dammit) liked him. Without invisibility or the support of his 54 Twitter followers or the superhuman powers supplied by a warm keyboard, Matt was meek and apologetic. “I was just trying to get a rise out of you,” he said. “You’re a known sports writer, and I thought it was cool. That’s all. I never meant for it to reach this point.”
Later in the piece, ESPN’s Howard Bryant, who professes to have an entire “Go Back To Africa” folder of hate mail, explains that when his tormentors are confronted, “the general response is ‘gee, I didn’t think anyone was paying attention.’ And they want to be pals with you.” And perhaps that’s true, in some instances. At the same time — and this is no way meant to condone threatening Mr. Pealrman (or sending him exciting visual materials some of us would be THRILLED to peruse) — there’s something slightly naive about composing a highly provocative takedown of a much admired public figure (or in this case, Jeff Bagwell), and then being surprised when the public actually takes the bait.
There are undoubtedly some sports journalists who fail to receive abusive e-mail, tweets, or jpegs. These writers are also quite likely to be those without full-time writing gigs and/or book contracts. I hate to be so cavalier as to tell Jeff this sort of thing comes with the territory — it’s his territory, after all —- but there’s probably no such thing as a universally beloved sportswriter.
Earlier this year, Baltimore Police Commissioner Fredrick H. Bealefield argued “The Wire”‘s treatment of Baltimore was “a smear on this city that will take decades to overcome.” “You know what Miami gets in their crime show?,” asked Bealefield. “They get detectives that look like models, and they drive around in sports cars…what Baltimore gets is this reinforced notion that it’s a city full of hopelessness, despair and dysfunction.” Hey, depending on what show you’re watching, Miami is also depicted as the planet’s #1 repository for (easy-to-knock-off) sexual predators. But enough about the commish’s selective viewing habits, solicited for a response by the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Herrman, “The Wire”‘s creator, David Simon (above, fourth from left), admits, “we made things up, true. We have never claimed otherwise…but respectfully, with regard to our critique, we have slandered no one. And to the extent you can stand behind a fictional tale, we stand by ours – and more importantly, our purpose in telling that tale.”
Commissioner Bealefeld may not be comfortable with public dissent, or even a public critique of his agency. He may even believe that the recent decline in crime entitles him to denigrate as “stupid” or “slander” all prior dissent, as if the previous two decades of mismanagement in the Baltimore department had not happened and should not have been addressed by any act of storytelling, given that Baltimore is no longer among the most violent American cities, but merely a very violent one.
Others might reasonably argue, however that it is not sixty hours of The Wire that will require decades for our city to overcome, as the commissioner claims. A more lingering problem might be two decades of bad performance by a police agency more obsessed with statistics than substance, with appeasing political leadership rather than seriously addressing the roots of city violence, with shifting blame rather than taking responsibility.
In what might be the most notable Mets photo op since Anna Benson gave a bunch of Queens schoolkids a most inappropriate Christmas eyeful, pitchers Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell participated in FDNY training exercises on Randall’s Island, NY Thursday. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo bore witness.
Along with Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, the four Mets players participated in a series of drills including forcibly entering a burning room, extinguishing a room fire and a car fire, climbing an aerial ladder, being rescued from a window and, of course, dropping feet-first off a five-story building. For Gee and Parnell, the experiences were not entirely novel — their fathers are firefighters for the Fort Worth (Texas) Fire Department and the Salisbury (N.C.) Fire Department, respectively. But for Pelfrey, Dickey and Wilpon, the day was a lesson.
“It was tough,” Pelfrey said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — pretty awesome. It makes you appreciate the things that they do even more.”
Nearly all of the Fire Department’s “dirty training” takes place at its 27-acre Randalls Island facility, which includes a building equipped with oil-based smoke generators, a street lined with model storefronts, and a burned-out car that can set itself on fire.
There’s no truth to the rumor Jeff Wilpon — hoping to present Carlos Beltran with some sort of “lifetime achievement award” prior to the start of spring training, has requested blueprints of the self-immolating automobile.
The Nets are awful, and their GM, Billy King, is wise to build patiently with draft picks, young players and cap space. Still, Prokhorov declared title or bust within five years, and it was clear he was publicly blaming King for how these trade talks played out. In recent days, members of Prokhorov’s inner-circle were grumbling to American basketball friends that they criticized King for failing to get a deal done. “They keep telling us it’s 90 percent complete and nothing happens, one associate told Yahoo! Sports.
The inability to get direct access to Anthony made the Nets have to take the word of Anthony’s associates, and they had their own agenda: Get him to Jersey, get him the three-year, $65 million contract and gain entrance to the Russian’s personal empire.
Now, King’s job gets harder to make a deal, because rivals will know that Prokhorov will undercut him on a moment’s notice. It was a destructive scene for King, whom several sources believed didn’t know Prokhorov was ending the talks for Anthony until the owner marched into a news conference on live television.
Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars didn’t get a call from King to tell him the three-way deal was dead but merely a text message. And that didn’t come until well into the news conference, when people had already started messaging him about Prokhorov’s public pronouncement. King didn’t reach out until then, because as the owner only half-jokingly said in the news conference: “I am not sure that Billy King knows the owner had ended the trade talks.”
A day after Deadspin published further allegations of sexual harassment-via-text on the part of the suddenly retired Brett Favre, the site’s editor, A.J. Daulerio, was profiled by GQ’s Gabriel Sherman. There’s a number of revelations in “The Worldwide Leader In Dong Shots” ranging from Daulerio’s base salary ($100K, not counting bonuses for famous boners), Deadspin’s dramatic traffic boost under Daulerio’s stewardship, his dogged attempts to give the disgraced Jay Mariotti a chance to tell his side of the story, receiving a rousing endorsement from one-time sports blogophobe H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger (“can’t beat ‘em join ‘em..Deadspin has more power in its toe nail shavings than every newspaper combined”), but alas, there’s something less than a vote of confidence from the site’s founder.
Even Will Leitch has gotten a little queasy. At first, Leitch talked with Daulerio constantly about the site, hashing out ideas and offering advice. But in July 2009, when Daulerio posted a link to the Erin Andrews stalker video, Leitch thought he went too far. They remain close but no longer talk about Deadspin. Leitch, now a writer for New York magazine, told me he wouldn’t have published the Favre photos: “I never wanted people to feel like they needed to take a shower.”
When some of CSTB’s best and brightest contributors would rather write about food than sports, can I really point an accusatory finger at a professional basketball player who apparently feels the same way? In what might be the most unusual case of player suspension thanks to social network overdose, shooting guard JR Giddens, veteran of cups of coffee with both the Celtics and Knicks, found himself in the doghouse with Power Electronics Valencia coach Svetislav Pesic, according to Sportando.net.
Pesic was tired of the continuous pics posted on Twitter by JR Giddens about the food he was going to eat every time (check the pics about the not healthy food) and decided to not register the forward for Euroleague Top 16.
For Giddens, who started the season in Poland with Asecco Prokom before being waived when the Polish champs failed to reach Euroleague Top 16, was fatal a sandwich with egg, tomatoes, lettuce and ham eaten for breakfast. The player was not adviced on time and Pesic got really upset that asked to the management to keep the forward out of the second part of the most important European competition.
Giddens was also kicked out of practice.
I’m more amazed there’s a professional team called Power Electronics Valencia. This might represent the one and only chance Prurient has at being played over a hoops arena tannoy.
And to think Mike D’Antoni considered N8 uncoachable. There’s no truth to the rumor a similar stunt featuring former Robinson teammate Eddy Curry and a midtown Manhattan Chipotle resulted in the company being removed from the New York Stock Exchange listings after the franchise suffered catastrophic losses.
Lost amidst the trash talk and analysis of the J-E-R-K-S’ 24-1 upset of New England last Sunday was the most important triumph of all ; Fireman Ed, emerging from Foxboro with his helmet intact. From Newsday’s Jim Baumbach :
The man best known in the football world as Fireman Ed said Tuesday that New England fans placed “a bounty” on his Jets helmet as he tried to leave Gillette Stadium. The retired New York City firefighter said it’s not uncommon for fans to target him at away Jets games, but on Sunday, getting out of there was no small task. Explained Anzalone to Newsday: “One guy grabbed my helmet and threw it on the field. He went to take it and run away with it, but Jets fans tackled him.”
Anzalone credited stadium security and did not want to make too much of the incident.
Yes, particularly as Jets fans chasing a mischievous helmet thief/Pats fan around the on the Foxboro turf would’ve surely been mentioned at some point during the telecast.
“West Ham United categorically deny the allegations made in today’s Daily Mirror with regard to Karren Brady, the club’s vice-chairman,” a traditional East End club statement cockneyed. “Karren has worked tirelessly to improve all aspects of the club’s operation and is extremely disappointed by the nature of these unfounded allegations. West Ham intend to identify the source of these unhelpful and untrue comments and remove them from the club.”
So West Ham’s season lurches from relegation battle to protracted managerial non-sacking to an internal leakage hunt. It already sounds like the worst ever game of Cluedo or a particularly desperate live Channel 4 celebrity gameshow called Who’s The Mole. Meanwhile West Ham are still bottom of the table. Gollivan and TV’s Karen still resemble in outline the evil General Zod and his beardy/vamp accomplices in Superman II. And Grant still hasn’t been sacked … Still.
Francis just turned 30 last week, and he™s a lefty, so it™s quite possible he has another decade left in the tank. He™s moving to the more difficult league, but he™s also moving from Coors Field to Kauffman Stadium. From a pure performance standpoint, there™s no reason to think Francis won™t help the Royals. The concern with Francis, if there is one, comes from a medical standpoint.
Labrum surgery is no joke, and as successful as Francis™ comeback has been to this point, it will be years before I™d feel comfortable about the long-term health of his shoulder. Francis returned to the Rockies™ rotation in mid-May, and made 16 starts without missing a beat, before he developed a sore shoulder and was out for a month. He returned on September 13 and made four appearances, and allowed 21 hits and 12 runs in 11.2 innings. He says his shoulder feels fine now. Gil Meche said the same thing.
But the Royals don™t have to worry about the long-term health of his shoulder, because they signed him for only one year (no surprise) and only $2 million guaranteed (mild surprise). That™s a terrific base salary for a pitcher with Francis™ track record, even one with his medical dossier.
Depending on your point of view, the following item is either further evidence of LeBron James’ Grand Canyon-esque sense of self-worth…or the biggest animation news since the debut of “Bob’s Burgers”. On Monday, the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence reports that James’ production company and something called the Believe Entertainment Group will produce new web cartoons based on Wise, Business, Kid and Athlete LeBron from the very popular series of Nike commercials.
The series, called “The LeBrons,” will revive the four characters all played by James at various stages of his life. The series is scheduled to debut in the spring.
The first season will consist of 10 episodes, with each running about five minutes, and will center on the world of Kid LeBron, the youngest of the four characters.
The series takes place in Akron, James’ hometown. James, a huge fan of cartoons, including Tom and Jerry and SpongeBob Squarepants, will provide the voice of the Business LeBron character. He has said in interviews that his goal is to deliver socially-conscious messages to young people in the series.
In the very unlikely event Wise is allowed to weigh in on such topics as The Decision, karma and empty seats at Heat home games, this need not be the least interesting cartoon of all time.
The Denver Post’s Benjamin Hochman is doing his best to stay on top of the never-ending Carmelo Anthony megatrade drama. As such, he’s to be excused from maintaining professional decorum at all times, and our best advice for those unfortunate enough to be checking text messages and/or sipping from a water fountain in the lower concourses of the Nuggets’ home venue would be to KEEP YOUR HEAD UP.
Under normal circumstances, a bill featuring Home Blitz (the most important DiMaggio in American cultural history?), Philly’s guitar-overload overlords Purling Hiss, The Mad Scene and a rare appearance by Capsul (original Bailter Space members Hamish Kilgour and Alister Parker in collaborative mode) would contend for show-of-the-year status. And when you put such a roster in the cramped, subterranean confines of NYC’s Cake Shop, next Saturday night (January 22) camping out in front of the venue’s stairwell at 4pm sounds like a smart move (until they politely tell you to come back in a few hours, anyway).
But these are no ordinary circumstances. Some of you might know Letha Melchior Rodman from her tenure in the 1990′s NYC quartet Ruby Falls ; others might know her as a member of husband Dan’s Das Menace. And others might know Leetha as a crazily talented visual artist. If you’ve been blessed to know her for real, you’re already aware I’m talking about one of the planet’s genuine stand-up individuals. A while ago, Leetha was diagnosed with cancer and the event described in the opening paragraph is a benefit to raise funds for her health care. If you can’t make it to the Cake Shop next Saturday, donations are being accepted via PayPal.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is a man who takes a scientific approach to basketball, often relying on statistics to confirm or dispel his theories. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t believe the rumors either.
“I don’t buy into any of it,” he said about 90 minutes before Thursday’s tipoff at the Ford Center. “What haunts me are guys like Kevin Durant. So, I would say this building is haunted because of guys like him, as are most of the buildings in the NBA. I haven’t run into a haunted hotel, just haunted arenas.”
I’m not going to argue that the Hooded Casanova wasn’t thoroughly outcoached by his swinging J-E-R-K-S rival earlier today, nor will I contest that when Tom Brady‘s receiving corps weren’t well blanketed, they were just as likely to be dropping catchable balls. No, instead, I’d rather we all wonder just how scared out of his mind Sal Paolantonio must’ve been when standing inches away from the blast furnace otherwise known as Bart Scott.