06.30.11

Philately Will Get You Somewhere : Demands For The Big Dipper Stamp Pick Up Steam

Posted in Basketball at 5:49 pm by

In what might be a pleasant diversion from today’s start of an NBA lockout, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Jensen reports the US Postal Service is responsive to a Philly-based initiative to commemorate the insane promiscuity live and times of Wilt Chamberlain on a postage stamp.

A committee sends 20 to 25 suggestions each year to the postmaster general, from “thousands of suggestions annually,” said Roy Betts, manager of community relations for the Postal Service. According to Betts, stamp selections will be announced in August, but the committee, which meets four times a year, also is talking about possibilities for the next few years. A campaign started by Philadelphia Tribune sports editor Donald Hunt resulted in a steady steam of Wilt supporters, including NBA officials, contacting the Postal Service.

Why hasn’t Wilt been on a stamp already? Turns out you have to be dead five years to be eligible. The Overbrook High great, considered by many to be the greatest basketball talent in the game’s history, died in 1999.  Hopefully, it happens before the Postal Service itself dies and there are no more stamps.

Assuming there’s a limit on the number of basketball-related stamps the USPS can approve, a Wilt stamp would all but certain cock-block an as-yet-unformed campaign to honor Pete Maravich in a similar fashion (though if you had to pick which player is the bigger icon, there’s no contest)

PETA Picks One Heck Of A Way To Say Lambert’s Is The 5th Best Barbecue In Austin

Posted in Food, Going To The Zoo at 4:59 pm by

People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals, perhaps wishing to avoid an actual crowd (like those lined up at Franklin Barbecue), have the following demonstration planned for tomorrow at noon, in front of Lambert’s on West 2nd Street :

Hoping to inspire residents to realize that a corpse is a corpse—whether fish, fowl, or even Frank!—PETA protesters will “cook” a nearly naked PETA member on a grill in Austin tomorrow. PETA’s point? That all animals are made of flesh, bone, and blood, just as humans are, and that eating meat entails eating the corpse of an animal who was an individual with feelings, a family, and a distinct personality.

“We are challenging people to really think about what meat is,” says PETA campaigner Lauren Stroyeck. “Flesh is flesh, and animals feel pain and suffer just as humans do. What revolts people about the idea of eating other humans should also apply to the idea of eating other animals.

I fully take Ms. Stroyeck’s point, however, unless PETA is prepare to actually cook a human corpse (and without an actual mob ready to devour him or her), it seems like, y’know, a waste of food.  And they’ve not specified who this nearly naked person is supposed to be (though I’m happy to provide a shortlist of qualified candidates if asked).

Get It Straight, Folks : Lance Berkman Cannot Play For Team Israel, But Ian Kinsler Can

Posted in Baseball, Religion at 2:18 pm by

Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anthony Andro that if he’s not invited to play for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, he’d consider turning out for Israel, who will face a 16-team qualifying round in 2012. It’s hard to choose which is harder to find, a Jew in Arlington, TX or someone who is already looking forward to the next WBC.

“It would be cool to play in the World Baseball Classic,” Kinsler said. “Israel really has nothing to do with me.”

Kinsler, who is Jewish, wasn’t even sure how he qualified to be on the roster for Israel.

The WBC allows teams to field players who are eligible for citizenship, even if they are not citizens. If that’s the case, that would clear the way for Jewish major leaguers like Kinsler, Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and Boston’s Kevin Youkilis.

That would give Israel a solid offense at least.

“It would be OK,” he said. “I don’t know if we would have a bullpen.”

06.29.11

Amazing Innovation Promises To Make The Internet A Less Edgy Place

Posted in Baseball, The Internet at 10:39 pm by

Rob Spectre’s Jeter Filter, “quickly and carefully scours the Internet for signs of Derek Jeter and removes him while you browse, making Jeter disappear… right before your very eyes .” And while Google Chrome is required to make this Anti-Captain Fist-Pump Filter work properly, though Newsday’s Mark LaMonica — painfully aware that his paper’s paywall is a filter of different sort, adds a word of warning ;

Of course, who knows what else that will do to your browser, your computer, your personal data and your various other whatnots.

If you’re gutsy enough, go to jeterfilter.com and read more. There are some drawbacks, such as this: If you’re looking at player stats on yankees.com, for example, it will remove the entire widget of information, not just the numbers on Jeter.

Skull-Safety Advocate Paul Kariya : Far Too Accomplished To Be Called Ryan Church On Skates

Posted in Hockey at 5:01 pm by

15 year NHL vet Paul Kariya announced his retirement earlier today after sitting out the entire 2010-11 season while recovering from the latest of multiple concussions he’s suffered. The former Ducks LW/C — who tallied 108 points for Anaheim in 1996 — angrily tells the Globe & Mail’s Eric Duhatschek, “the thing I worry about is that you’ll get a guy who is playing with a concussion, and he gets hit, and he dies at centre ice.”

“If you want to get rid of it, I’m a believer that you don’t go after the employees, you go after the employers,” said Kariya. “The first concussion I had, on a brutal, blindside hit, the guy got a two-game suspension. That was in 1996. The last one, from (the Buffalo Sabres’ Patrick) Kaleta, was exactly the same play, and he doesn’t get anything.

“If you start at 10-game suspensions and go to 20, that sends a message to the players. But if you start fining the owners and suspending the coach, then it’s out of the game.”

Kariya went on to say that every hit that ever knocked him out came as a result of an illegal hit.

“Every single one,” he reiterated. “I’m not saying you’re going to ever eliminate concussions completely because it’s a contact sport, but if you get those out of the game, then you eliminate a big part of the problem.

“A two-game suspension? That’s not enough of a deterrent.”

This Saturday In Austin : A Benefit For Waxeater’s Elliott Turton

Posted in Austin, Internal Affairs, Rock Und Roll, Tourism at 3:08 pm by

As you might’ve read elsewhere, Elliott Turton (above) of the touring Indiana band Waxeater was hospitalized this past Sunday night after suffering a severe electric shock while onstage at Austin’s Beerland.  As of this writing, Turton is conscious and hopefully on the way to a speedy recover at Brackenridge Hospital, just a stone’s throw from Beerland.  The venue was given the all-clear by electricians on Monday, reopened for business last night and is hosting a fundraiser for Turton this Saturday afternoon at 2pm.

CRUST ROYALTY by Wiccans

Contributing artists include Denton, TX’s Wiccans, whose fantastic new LP, ‘Skullduggery’ is out this week, local duo Air Traffic Controllers (guitarist looks familiar but I can’t quite put my finger on it), breatherholes, the new project helmed by former Wild American vocalist/guitarist Lew Houston, Quin Galavis (whose new Threadpull LP, ‘Should Have Known You’ is an early frontrunner for Austin Album of 2011) and Eric Static.  If you can’t attend, donations are being accepted via Paypal (TurtonBenefit@gmail.com).

06.28.11

LAT’s Dilbeck : Aiding McCourt Is A Boneheaded Business Move

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 6:14 pm by

Noting that embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt (above, left)  is hoping to accept a $150 million bridge loan from J.P. Morgan Chase, along with inviting future TV rights bidding from Time-Warner and Fox, the Los Angeles Times’ Steve Dilbeck warns the above business that anyone offering comfort to McCourt will rue the wrath of LA’s sports fans.  Contrary to the arrive late/leave early reputation held by Chavez Ravine patrons, Dilbeck argues, “they will exact a cost from anyone or thing that attempts to aid McCourt.”

Any company that comes to McCourt’s rescue puts itself at financial risk. The people of Los Angeles are genuinely angry McCourt has dragged the Dodgers into the darkest moment in franchise history.

Chase could feel a bigger loss than $4.5 million if members start pulling funds and placing them in the local credit union. Time Warner best remember there are satellite companies that can provide the same service. Fox has to understand it is only one of several alternatives.

McCourt thought he had plenty of empty seats at Dodger Stadium before? He hasn’t seen anything yet. Dodger fans are heartbroken and angry and in no mood for anything that perpetuates his ownership.

I’m not familiar with this particular newspaper encouraging a public boycott of specific corporations, but if that’s the road the Times would like to go down, d’ya think there’s a small possibility that some of their past or present advertisers might be in business with persons or firms who’ve done as much damage to the world as Frank McCourt?

North Korea’s Kim Kwang Ming Raises The Bar For All Excusing-Making Coaches

Posted in Football, Natural Disasters at 3:34 pm by

The U.S. defeated North Korea, 2-0, earlier today in Dresden, vaulting the Americans to the top of Group C in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Though the post game press conference by North Korea coach Kim Kwang Ming (above) wasn’t broadcast live by ESPN,  The Guardian’s John Ashdown was on hand to hear the former cite a number of uh, mitigating circumstances.

“On 8 June our players were hit by lightning. More than five were hospitalised.”

“‘The strength of our players not sufficient so our strategy could not be implemented’ bcos 4 (or maybe 5, 6 or 7) hit by lightning ”

“The goalkeeper and the four strikers were most affected and some midfielders as well”

“The doctors said players were not capable of participating in the tournament, but until the very last minute they gave their best.”

David Haye Promises To Execute Robot

Posted in Boxing at 2:43 pm by

IBF / WBO champion Wladimir Klitchsko defends his belts this Saturday in Hamburg against David Haye, and with all due respect to the following account of  yesterday’s press conference in The Daily Record, neither fighter is quite as skilled on the microphone as CM Punk.

At yesterday’s press conference ahead of their unification world heavyweight clash Haye said: “”This is going to be the most brutal execution of a boxer that you’ve seen for many, many years. I’m going to go out there and absolutely destroy him, really quickly.”

But Klitschko has vowed to teach Haye some respect. He said: “I’m a very lucky person in that I am healthy enough to perform. No matter what, it is disgraceful and disrespectful for a man to wish to damage your health.”

“This game, this sport, is very intense and unfortunately there have been a lot of cases where people have been handicapped and people have died during and after fights.

“I felt embarrassed at the way David Haye acted in the press conference. Because it also casts a shadow on the sport.

“I just feel an obligation to give him some rehabilitation on July 2 because it will make him a better person.”

Avery To Bettman : Where’s The NHL Support For Same Sex Marriage?

Posted in Hockey at 12:31 pm by

Having appeared in a high profile PSA supporting the passage of New York’s Marriage Equality Act, New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery describes himself as “embedded in the issue” (“you don’t have to be gay to know when something is fundamentally not right”), and suggests to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks that perhaps it’s time for the entire National Hockey League to address the matter.



“I understand that the NHL represents 30 different owners who come from different backgrounds and hold different viewpoints, but I think it would be meaningful for Gary [commissioner Bettman] and the Board of Governors to open themselves up for conversation about this issue,” Avery told The Post yesterday.

“The support I received from the Garden, Mr. [James] Dolan, Glen [Rangers general manager Sather] and [president of MSG Sports] Scott O’Neil meant everything to me, but it was a little disappointing not to have heard from anyone connected with the league,” Avery said.

The NHL has never had an openly gay or bisexual player. This might be 2011, but Avery doesn’t believe the environment in the industry would tolerate it.

“There would be so much to overcome, I don’t think it’s practically possible,” Avery said. “If I was gay or bisexual, it would probably be easier for me to come out than anybody else, because how much more could there be on me than there is already?

“I’m sure there are a number of players around the league who think I am gay or bi, and maybe more now since I got involved in this, and even though I’m not, I have no problem with that at all.”

06.27.11

Lorenzo Charles, RIP

Posted in Basketball at 9:14 pm by

Brooklyn native Lorenzo Charles, whose conversion of Dereck Whittenburg’s would-be buzzer beater gave North Carolina State an improbable 54-52 win over heavily favored Houston in the 1983 NCAA Men’s final, was killed earlier today in a Raleigh, NC bus collision. Charles, who achieved all-ACC status in 1984 and ’85, had been driving a bus for NC-based Elite Tours, though his recent duties also included driving for Duke’s lacrosse squad.

Coming Soon To Knicks.com : Many Photos Of James Dolan Jamming With Joe Walsh

Posted in Basketball, The Internet at 5:42 pm by

(above : Cablevision CEO/genetic lottery winner James Dolan, who has never been seen in the same room as Joey Welz)

If there’s no resolution to the NBA labor dispute, league and individual team websites will undergo a radical transformation writes True Hoop’s Kevin Arnovitz.  Once “the clock strikes midnight on the current CBA, all those images and videos of NBA players have to disappear off NBA-owned digital properties,” writes Arnovitz, adding, “depending on how you interpret ‘fair use,’ the prohibition could include the mere mention of a player’s name on an NBA-owned site.”

Over the past few weeks, NBA website administrators and support staff have endured two-hour conference calls and countless planning sessions to figure out how to eliminate all these photos, highlights, articles and promotional features from the sites.

There are additional gray areas that are still up for discussion: What about a photo of a Lakers fan wearing a No. 24 Kobe Bryant jersey? What about a retrospective feature on the John Stockton-Karl Malone Jazz teams? Do tweets from the team’s official Twitter feed that mention a player and/or link to an image need to be deleted? How about Facebook posts?

Nobody seems to know for certain the definitive answers to these questions and the criteria seem to be arbitrary. According to more than one team website staffer, the cutoff for images of retired players right now stands at 1992-93 — Shaquille O’Neal’s first season in the league. And social media is an area they’re still grappling with as the deadline approaches.

Many People Would Like To See J.D. Drew….Dead (Except John Tomase)

Posted in Baseball at 4:34 pm by

With apologies to Armand Schaubroeck for the above headline, Red Sox RF J.D. Drew made an early exit during yesterday’s 4-2, series-salvaging win at Pittsburgh, after fouling a ball off his left eye during BP.  While it would be the height of exaggeration to say Drew never found a physical ailment that wouldn’t keep him out of a lineup, it is entirely accurate on the part of the Boston Herald’s John Tomase to claim many Red Sox fans have been “eager to crate him up aboard the first steamer to Siberia” since his arrival from Los Angeles in 2007. However, citing a number of hard-hit balls (many of ‘em caught by outfielders) over the past few week, Tomase insists that Drew, “deserves one more chance”.

Drew describes most of his struggles this season as mental. He was swinging the bat well out of Fort Myers and as late as April 27 found himself hitting .285 with an .800 OPS.

Then Drew fell off a cliff. He hit just .179 over his next 26 games with production that barely showed up under a scanning electron microscope — two homers, two doubles, five RBI.

Drew is never going to be popular with Red Sox fans, who shriek like banshees at the mention of his name. They’ve believed him overpaid since the day he signed for five years and $70 million.

But for all the heat general manager Theo Epstein has rightfully taken over free agent signings like John Lackey, Matt Clement and Julio Lugo, Drew doesn’t belong in their class. He’s been a tough out, an exceptional right fielder and a clutch postseason performer. He’s no superstar, but he’s a valuable piece of a winning team.

He can still be that piece. Drew just needs a little more time. The Red Sox should give it to him.

For McCourt, Bankruptcy & Blaming Bud Go Hand In Hand

Posted in Baseball at 11:56 am by

(above : Frank McCourt, explaining to an impatient creditor that his money is in a shoebox located just beyond the right field wall at Chavez Ravine)

The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin reports the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this morning, with Frank McCourt continuing to insist his hand was forced by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig refusing to approve a pending TV deal with Fox.  Left unmention by McCourt in Shaikin’s coverage below, is that precious little of the Fox money was actually earmarked for maintaining the baseball club.

McCourt has obtained $150 million in interim financing, according to a statement issued on his behalf. If the bankruptcy court approves that financing on Tuesday, McCourt would meet Thursday’s payroll deadline and could remain in control of the club throughout the bankruptcy proceedings, with the intention of negotiating a television rights deal that would satisfy the court by paying off all creditors in full.

Under the Major League Baseball constitution, the act of filing for bankruptcy enables the commissioner to strip McCourt of ownership. However, bankruptcy court proceedings generally override MLB rules.

Manny Ramirez is the Dodgers’ largest creditor, according to the bankruptcy filing. The Dodgers owe Ramirez $21 million, followed by Andruw Jones ($11 million), Hiroki Kuroda ($4.5 million), Rafael Furcal ($3.7 million) and the Chicago White Sox ($3.5 million, for Juan Pierre).

The list of creditors includes much of the current Dodgers roster, Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully ($152,778), the city of Los Angeles ($240,563 in tax debt) and two players yet to play for the Dodgers (prospects Zach Lee at $3.4 million and Alexander Santana at $499,500).

06.26.11

Yanks To Non-Metallic K.O. : Are You Familiar With The Phrase, “Stop Snitching”?

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 5:01 pm by

The New York Post reported earlier today that “liberal loudmouth” Keith Olbermann of Current TV would not serve as master of ceremonies for today’s annual Old-Timers’ Day game at Yankee Stadium after the former MSNBC commentator revealed the Bombers’ practice of relaying pitch info from the stands to players in the on-deck circle. Previously, GM Brian Cashman called the furor, “silly”, though Olbermann (via his MLB.com blog) takes exception to the Yankees attempting to silence the messenger (ie. himself).

I might have been sitting in the stands when I tweeted the photos in question, but I saw nothing that any eagle-eyed guy in the press box couldn’t have seen (and trust me, they started looking). There was a coaches’ assistant in a Yankee jacket and a Shamwow-Seller’s Headset with a radar gun sitting three rows back of home plate signalling pitch speeds to Alex Rodriguez and other Yankee players in the on-deck circle on Opening Day this year, and I took a picture of it, largely because to see the signals, Rodriguez had to basically look right over my head.

The Yankees explained that the radar gun they used for their scoreboard wasn’t working that day, and the coaches’ assistant, Brett Weber, was simply supplying information the players usually got from the scoreboard. It was technically a violation of a rule prohibiting the transfer of such information from the stands or press box to the field. My point in tweeting the photo was that it didn’t seem to me to be cheating (after all, it was information about the last pitch, not the next one) — it just seemed weird. And after asking that Weber be vacated from his seat for one day, MLB accepted that explanation and he was back the next game – on the proviso that he not do any more signaling. And I haven’t seen him do any more signaling.

The problem, of course, is that Weber signaled all last year, too, and not just pitch speeds. He had a clipboard and some thin cardboard with which he seemed to be explaining to players in the on deck circle what kind of pitch they had just seen, and where it was. One real veteran gave me particular kidding grief about it and when I said it wasn’t anything new and had started the year before, he said “The hell it did. They’ve been doing all the years I’ve been coming to this place and the old Stadium and we complain and complain and nobody’s ever done anything about it before.”

Jeter’s Oft-Cited “Edge” : No Match For Rapidly Diminshed Skills

Posted in Baseball at 3:34 pm by

“It is impossible — at least within the rules as they relate to performance-enhancing drugs — for a ballplayer to be as fast-firing at 37 as he was in his mid-20′s,” argues the New York Times Magazine’s Michael Sokolove, who has the uncomfortable task of tackling the declining output players in their late ’30′s, Derek Jeter in particular.  With the Yankee Captain’s return to the lineup far from determined, Sokolove cites an especially exasperating 15 inning game against Baltimore this past May.

He came to bat seven times, and in six of those he hit ground balls — two of which squirted through the infield for base hits. He struck out in his other plate appearance. He leads all of baseball, by a wide margin, in his ratio of ground balls to balls lifted in the air, an arcane but telling statistic. Jeter can no longer consistently bring the bat through the hitting zone at the proper moment, and with enough authority, to hit line drives into the outfield gaps or fly balls that clear the fences. (Think of that classic advice to Little League hitters: Swing the bat as if you’re mad at the ball! Jeter swings as if he’s mad at the ground, with an abbreviated, downward stroke that pounds ball after ball into the turf.)

The mythology is that old-time players, who did not lift weights and knew nothing about nutrition, had mercilessly short careers. And that today’s players, who condition themselves year-round — often with the help of private trainers, the most up-to-date scientific methods, nutritionists and massage therapists — play longer and have more years of peak performance. It makes sense. It’s also not true.

With more rigorous drug testing, a typical baseball career is beginning to look again as it did throughout the game’s history. Journeymen players stay in the game until their early- or mid-30s, and all-star-level players maybe a couple of years beyond that. A handful of superstars retain enough skills to make significant contributions into their late 30s. Those with the most talent almost certainly lose their skills at the same rate as lesser players, but they stay in the game for a long time because 85 percent of a superstar is still a very good player.

MLB Realignment Could Heat This Texas Baseball Crowd Up

Posted in Baseball at 12:45 pm by

http://alt.coxnewsweb.com/cnishared/tools/shared/mediahub/03/71/47/slideshow_1477136_rbz_UT_Baseball_v_NM_20.jpg

[At a recent Astros-Rangers classic ... (photo by Ralph Barrera/Amer-Statesman)]

CSTB alum, and continuing night school Phd candidate, Jason Cohen appeared yesterday in the NY Times with a column on the possibilities of a Texas baseball rivalry between Houston and … wherever the Rangers officially call home, off that Nolan Ryan highway divide.  If the NYT paywall gets in your way, you can also read it here at Texas Monthly, with all of the local “jehosophats!” and “tarnations!” left in by Jason’s regional editors.  As Jason sums up the current situation:

The first Lone Star Series game was at the Ballpark in Arlington in June 2001. Excitement was only sort of high. “It’s not like the Yankees-Mets or the Cubs-White Sox,” the Astros star Jeff Bagwell told The Associated Press at the time.

I was there that night, with an extra ticket that the scalpers in the parking lot would only offer me $3 for. “The Rangers are 27 games out!” one argued, inarguably. The Astros, which back then had the better franchise, won in extra innings, but with both teams going 3-3 over the series, the Rangers earned the Silver Boot (a trophy the two teams started playing for in 1992 during spring training) on the basis of aggregate runs scored. Yup, just what Texas likes out of its rivalries — to settle things the way they do in soccer.

Since then, both teams have made it to — and lost in — the World Series, but the Lone Star Series hasn’t gotten much more exciting.

06.25.11

Believe It Or Not, Prokhorov Might Have Bigger Fish To Fry Than Retaining Deron Williams

Posted in Basketball, politics, The Marketplace at 2:32 pm by

(a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And on the left, Mikhail Prokhorov)

Business Insider’s Julie Zevelov delivers yet another blow to the wild-and-crazy-guy image cultivated by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, writing that with the billionaire’s ascension to the top of Russia’s Right Cause party, he’s “already speaking out on behalf of fellow oligarchs who are in jail.”

Prokhorov vowed to overtake the Communist party as the no. 2 party in Russia and to support the reelection of President Dmitry Medvedev for a second term in 2012.

And he wasted no time taking a political stance on ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who have been in Russian jails since 2003 for reportedly stealing crude oil from Yukos Oil, then Russia’s largest oil exporter.

“I personally believe that there is no reason for Khodorkovsky and Lebedev to stay in prison,” Prokhorov said, according to RIA Novosti. “They should exercise this right [on parole].”

Nick Charles, Dead At 64

Posted in Boxing, Sports TV at 2:07 pm by

Nick Charles, former sports anchor at Baltimore’s WJZ and for 17 years, the face of sports highlights on CNN, passed away earlier today following a battle with bladder cancer. Hard as it might be to remember, there was once a period in which “SportsCenter”‘s dominance wasn’t nearly as established, and Charles was arguably as recognizable a public figure as any of the Worldwide Leader’s on-air talent.

In the clip above, Charles’ anchor skills alongside the troubled Fred Hickman are on display.

06.24.11

Congratulations To Davey Johnson…

Posted in Baseball at 11:55 pm by

…on taking more than 5 years to convince the Washington Nationals he’d be an acceptable emergency option. Johnson, 68, was named the new skipper of Nationals earlier today, said move coming shortly after Jack McKeon took over as a mid-season replacement for Edwin Rodriguez in Miami.  I hate to suggest MLB’s owners and GM’s are a trendy lot, but the future job prospects for Larry Bowa, Earl Weaver and John McGraw Whitey Herzog haven’t looked so bright in years.

Riggleman Trades Nats

Posted in Baseball at 1:52 am by

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HlXa3RO61zY/TY_0ZA4K4DI/AAAAAAAAYj4/GxCmYSHVZcs/s640/11+Topps+Heritage+Rack+Pack+16.jpg

[Pictured, this week's Most Hated Man in Baseball, Jim Riggleman.]

Today, Jim Riggleman fired his corporate bosses and the sports world (or at least the fan boy press) is appalled.  Players and managers are supposedly overgrown, lucky kids who don’t get to make decisions like that.  Unbelievably, Jim Riggleman doesn’t seem to care if he ever manages an MLB team again – every sports writers’ dream job.   He sold out his team, he doesn’t care about winning, what would Lou Gehrig say, etc, etc.?

The Nats are at .507, their best in six years.  They lose overall for a reason and Riggleman isn’t it. He’s not alone in letting DC fans down.  But let’s put that in perspective.  He’s not deserting fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, he’s a placeholder manager quitting a placeholder club intended to soak up $$$ the Orioles apparently can’t sponge effectively themselves.  At least, that’s how its owners and MLB treat it. In the midst of the Bud Selig era of $$$ > winning baseball, Riggleman’s me-first move today is small potatoes compared to what the Ricketts and McCourts are currently pulling as the Selig-approved stewards of Wrigley Field and Chavez Ravine.  And neither of those teams are winning.

So, Riggleman left his pennant-guaranteed .507 club high and dry because he didn’t get the deal he wanted.  Owners do that every day, as is their privilege as “businessmen.”  This is the same Riggleman who watched the Padres deal Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff out from under him in their “fire sale.” Do owners ever get blackballed for such bullshit?  Do we ever hear how they’ll never work again, no matter how much they sell out the concept of winning?  I’d like to see MLB impose a rule that says owners with sub-.500 teams for five years running be put under suspension and review like the McCourts have been for financial incompetence.  But that would mean winning really is what baseball is about, for all involved, and it’s not. If sportswriters want to get all self-righteous about Jim Riggleman letting his team down, get self-righteous about making owners win, too.

Yes, Riggelman’s move was about himself, but there’s positives to an angry manager  quitting rather than poisoning his club with anger and indifference to collect pay checks.  Didn’t he just walk out on $300K?  It wasn’t exactly a win-win move for Riggleman who sacrificed half a years’ salary. The Nats refused to deal straight with him because they didn’t feel like it.  Why isn’t his peace of mind worth something, too?  If winning doesn’t come first for the owners and MLB, why should it for their employee?  People cite Riggleman’s mediocre win record as if he isn’t deserving of some self-respect and dignity – two qualities you still have to fight for in the American workplace.  The Nats’ owners and MLB run that franchise to make money.  Fans who want to win basically have to get lucky in DC, because very few people are behind them.

06.23.11

Jim Riggleman Finds A Way To Quell Nats Fever

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down at 11:10 pm by

I’d not been online or listened to the radio for several hours today when I heard Wayne Hagin interrupt commentary of today’s A’s/Mets tilt with the aside, “we’ll try to find out more about the Jim Riggleman situation.”  My first thought — did someone try to impress Jodie Foster by taking a shot at the Nats skipper?  Turns, there’s a few people who wouldn’t mind taking a swing at him, if nothing else. “Before the clubhouse scent even had a chance to morph from sweat and pine tar to Axe body spray and cologne,” the celebratory mood following Washington’s 1-0 defeat of Seattle turned somber, observed the Washington Post’s Dave Shenin, with the bombshell revelation Riggleman chose the day his club improved to their best record in 6 years to tender his resignation.  Of the club’s reluctance to pick up his option for the 2012 season, Riggleman explained, “”I know I’m not Casey Stengel, but I do feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s not a situation where I felt like I should continue on such a short lease.”

I’ll say this much for Riggleman ; he’s better at managing baseball teams than he is when it comes to determining his own leverage. Capitol Punishment‘s Basil asks,”Is there any way to interpret this other than that Riggleman went just completely psycho-selfish on the Nats?”

Imagine if a player did something like this! Imagine the more notable acts of a player just flate refusing to go on because of sheer selfishness — like Derek Bell’s “Operation Shutdown,” or, more comically, Gary Templeton’s “If I Ain’t Startin’, I Ain’t Departin’” episode. Riggleman’s decision strikes me as far worse. I mean, Bell sucked, and Templeton was just being a clown. Riggleman’s persona was, purportedly, as a leader of men. Right.

Managers resign their positions fairly routinely, sometimes for reasons that appear inexplicable. Remember when Mike Hargrove resigned right in the middle of a surprisingly strong season for the Mariners. That was weird, but apparently Grover was burning out. I’m sure more details will emerge here, but, as it stands now, Riggleman comes across as just brazenly selfish.

Dude’s Defense Fund : Only Those With No Ulterior Motive Need Apply

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 10:47 pm by

Terms & Conditions
Saving Lenny is NOT a non-profit organization.

Therefore, any help provided is NOT tax-deductible.

However, like a non-profit, all net proceeds will be advanced to help Lenny’s defense and secure his release by paying his bail premium.

Should there be any excess funds after Lenny’s trial completes, remaining funds will be donated to Little League Baseball and the Baseball Assistance Team.

Thank you for helping Save Lenny!

D’ohlan Entrusts (Seemingly) Significant Act To Lame Duck Walsh

Posted in Basketball at 12:45 pm by

With all due respect to outgoing Knicks team president Donnie Walsh (above, left) for all he’s accomplished in the NBA, why in blazes is he the Alexander Haig of the New York war room this evening if his departure from the organization becomes official tomorrow?  Given the likelihood Walsh might be running a Knicks competitor at this time next year, what motive could he possibly have for doing anything to help the folks at The World’s Most Dysfunctional Arena build for the future?  “”I feel the same way I feel in every draft: intense and nervous because I don’t want to get (screwed) over,” Walsh tells the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, neglecting to mention that in prior drafts, he actually stuck around to observe the fruit of his labors.

“I want to make a pick that is best for the franchise, particularly now that I’m leaving and won’t be here,” Walsh said last night. “But that won’t change the way I approach it. I’ve done about 27 or 28 drafts and every year you have the same feeling. It’s always intense.”

Barring a trade either up or down, the Knicks own the 17th pick in a guard-heavy draft. They do not have a second round-pick.

Walsh is in charge of the draft even though in seven days he’ll move into the always ambiguous role of consultant for one year and will not have as much power as, say, Isiah Thomas, who has been an unofficial consultant since the day Walsh replaced him.

“We have a lot of people working up here,” Walsh said. “It will be a collaboration.”

06.22.11

A Not So Tiny Setback In The Public Rehabilitation Of Tiki Barber

Posted in Gridiron, Sports Radio, Sports TV at 8:15 pm by

MP3
(Tiki Barber on WFAN’s Mike’d Up, 6/22/2011)

Y’know, there’s no shortage of jobless football players that Mike Francesa could tear to shreds on afternoon radio, but few as delusional as former Giants RB Tiki Barber. Leaving aside Barber’s abandonment of his football team, burial of the organization and betrayal of his pregnant wife and bizarre persecution complex —- generally the sort of thing that doesn’t lend itself to huge public sympathy — Tiki’s insistence that his NBC broadcasting tenure was “fulfilling” runs contrary to the honest opinions of, y’know, actual human beings who watched him on television.