Chad Finn Came To Praise Bobby V., Not Bury Him. Sort Of.

Posted in Baseball, Sports TV at 9:50 pm by

“He’s not Joe Morgan. That’s reason enough to give Bobby Valentine the benefit of the doubt,” writes the Boston Globe’s Chad Finn of the former Mets/Rangers skipper currently working alongside Dan Shulman and Orel Hersheiser in the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth. And while there are few persons with an ounce of sanity who’d disagree that Morgan’s dismissal was a case of addition by subtraction, Finn cannot help but tweak Bobby V ever-so-gently, calling the analyst, “a fountain of insight…of course, the criticism of Valentine is that he doesn’t know when to shut off that fountain.”

Valentine talks. A lot. And just when it seems as if he’s run out of syllables, he finds a few more. As he puts it, without a hint of irony, “I know that some people call me a know-it-all.’’

“I really do want to share it, and I don’t want to make it seem like I’m a know-it-all,’’ said Valentine. “I absolutely try to work on it, to end a sentence, and be clear in the message. And that’s difficult. I’m baseball guy, and I believe that more is better. I believe in explaining details, and I believe if they didn’t hear you the first time, tell them again so that they understand it the second time. When you’re in the booth and going to commercial or going to a promo or going to a next pitch, you don’t have time to drag it out. You have to get a period in there and move on to the next thing. It’s a challenge.’’

Sometimes I try to view the game as a fan,’’ said Valentine, who doesn’t look much different now at 61 than he did during his playing days. “Sometimes I try to view it as a manager, sometimes as a player. I think it changes depending on what happens on the field and how I can best express my thoughts at the moment. I think a few times, for sure, the viewer is confused at what I’m saying.’’

He laughs. “I guess that’s the way it happens. So I’m just going to keep doing my best to make sure I explain it. Right up until the voice in my ear tells me to stop talking.’’

Doug Glanville : Doing His Best To Get John Wall, Gary Dell’abate Off The Hook

Posted in Baseball at 6:08 pm by

I’m not sure which is more surprising, that a 9-year MLB vet like Doug Glanville couldn’t throw a proper strike today…or that Carlos Marmol could.

Beltran’s (Probable) Citi Farewell, Darcy’s Revisionist History

Posted in Baseball at 3:29 pm by

(above : “not delivering” on October 19, 2006. Just in case you forgot)

Trade bait RF Carlos Beltran played what is likely to be his last home game as a New York Met yesterday afternoon at Citi Field, his final plate appearance receiving polite applause on a day in which the realistic Bob Klapisch describes the paying attendees as “too hot, too miserable, too lethargic watching the Mets sleepwalk through a 6-2 loss to the Cardinals.” By contrast, ESPN NY’s Kieran Darcy (or at least his headline editor) considers Beltran’s bon voyage from the Flushing faithful, “unfitting” the 6-time All-Star.

Beltran has never been a fan favorite here — despite the fact that he has never caused trouble off the field. Maybe it’s because he’s not a “homegrown” product, like Jose Reyes or David Wright. Maybe it’s because he’s a quiet guy when it comes to dealing with the media. Or maybe it’s because he didn’t deliver on Oct. 19, 2006.

Likely, it’s a combination of all three. And maybe that explains the lukewarm farewell at Citi Field on Thursday.

Perhaps there are other factors Darcy conveniently forgets. For starters, some of Beltran’s most passionate fans — those who don’t closely resemble Mike Francesa or Christopher Russo — are to a large extent, priced out of the Mets’ glittering new venue, and/or might have difficulty getting the time off on a Thursday afternoon. And then there’s the shameful manner in which Beltran was hung out to dry by the local media (if not his own ballclub’s P.R. department) when he failed to take part in the team’s annual visit to Walter Reed Hospital in 2010, or the way Keith Hernandez and Paul Lo Duca hinted Beltran was lax in his leadership skills when it came to dealing with the press. And then, there’s Beltran’s burial at the hands of none other than Fred Wilpon.

Sure, most of that was complete bullshit. But to pretend none of it contributed to a climate in which a great player / classy fella like Carlos Beltran was less than universally beloved is to be relatively ignorant of recent Mets history.

To Whom It May Concern : The Bengals Aren’t Familiar With The Word “Agreement”

Posted in Gridiron at 2:08 pm by

Via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy, it seems Roger Goodell is far from alone when it comes to presenting the owners’ latest proposal as a fait accompli. The following e-mail was sent to Cincy season ticket holders earlier today.

You Ready for Some Football?


We are excited to let you know that the NFL has reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows the entire NFL season to be played this year.

The NFL is the most popular sport in America. Our games are intense, unifying and meaningful to fans in the stadium and to those watching at home. We are thrilled to have a labor deal in place that will provide fans with a decade of certainty and that will allow us to focus all our energies where they ought to be – on the playing field. The upcoming 2011 season will surely be exciting, and football work will begin shortly. Our coaches will begin meeting with players, and the Club will welcome back talented veterans along with exciting rookies from the April NFL Draft, like top picks A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Whether all of that will take place in Cincinnati or Georgetown, Kentucky, will be decided shortly once we receive the NFL’s operating schedule.

Two years ago, our football team swept the AFC North—one of the toughest divisions in football—and many key components of that team remain, including defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and a defense that ranked in the top half of the NFL for three straight seasons. The area of the team that will change the most will be the offense with a new direction under offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and new faces at quarterback and wide receiver. The mix of veterans and rookies should return our offense to the top level we need, and we are excited by the challenge.

This year—like others before it—we will focus our energies on returning to the Super Bowl again. That’s what we want and that’s what our fans want, and our franchise has been blessed with great support from fans for decades. Last season we reached a record-setting 57th straight sellout—a string we hope to restart soon—and our games have been the most-watched television program in the local market for the last applicable 96 ratings weeks. This is great football country, and incredibly: 95% of the Cincinnati population watched an NFL game during the 2009 season (third highest ranking among NFL markets).

We are very grateful to our fans, we thank you for your patience during the labor stoppage, and now we look forward to a great season together. Who Dey!


Katie Blackburn
Marvin Lewis


LA Scribe Openly Fantasizes About A (San Diego) Chicken Sandwich

Posted in Baseball, When Mascots Attack at 8:58 pm by

Calling The Baseball Reliquary, “what you’d get if you crossed a meeting of hard-core preservationists with the Royal Order of Raccoons,” the LA Times’ Chris Eskine attended the Pasadena-based non-profit’s banquet and took special interest in the toastmaster skills of one Ted Giannoula, aka The San Diego Chicken.

The chicken sounded good, especially considering that he had just flown in that morning. Describing himself as the “Minnie Minoso of mascots,” he talked about his five decades in the game, and how he thought baseball has the greatest sense of humor of any sport.

After all these years, I still get a charge when I first spot the San Diego Chicken — that same visceral reaction you get when you see a very pregnant woman walking down the sidewalk — her innie now an outtie. You poke whoever’s next to you — “Hey, look!” — as if you’re about to witness a miracle, pay attention.

I don’t know that this overstuffed bird quite qualifies as a miracle, but he is a blessing, a gift and — when turned slowly over a spit — one of the tastiest summer meals you could ever hope for.

Halfway through Giannoulas’ speech I start hallucinating about chicken wings, which happens to me at almost every speech, not just those given by poultry. Food fantasies are my go-to place, my mental B-roll. It would be the same fantasy if Nelson Mandela were speaking, or Michelle Bachmann. Maybe even more so.

Suddenly, the chicken is gone and there’s another speaker.

NFL To Neutured Union : Here’s The (10 Year) Deal

Posted in Gridiron, The Marketplace at 8:04 pm by

Possibly costing saving the American public the horrors an August without an exhibition football schedule, the New York Times’ Judy Battista reports NFL owners have reached a consensus on a 10-year collective bargaining agreement that could end the four month lockout next week, pending ratification from (what’s left) of the players union.

Players would be allowed to return to team facilities starting Saturday to take physicals, and on that day teams can start signing their own rookies and free-agent players to conditional contracts.

On July 27, the league year will begin with free agency and training camps open for all teams, provided the union has re-formed by that time. The players’ executive board must also recommend approval of the collective bargaining agreement by Saturday for players to be allowed into the buildings.

In announcing the vote of the owners, Commissioner Roger Goodell also noted that the preseason Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and the St. Louis Rams, had been canceled, the first on-field casualty of the labor unrest.

Whether it’s a mark of his rebellious nature or tenuous grip on reality, Raiders owner Al Davis abstained from Thursday’s vote, citing “profound philosophical differences on a number of issues — both of a football and economic nature.” Whether presenting their proposal as something close to a done deal is a mark of arrogance or a firm grip on reality on the part of Davis’ fellow owners, remains to be seen.

Complete Scouting Services – As An Auteur, Willie Lyles Is No Nick Zedd

Posted in College Spurts at 11:45 am by

Willie Lyles’ Complete Scouting Services of Houston, TX came to public prominence last spring after it was revealed by Yahoo Sports that Temple, TX RB Lache Seastrunk’s commmitment to the University of Oregon just happened to coincide with a $25,000 payment from the Ducks to Lyles (above, middle).  If Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly wishes to argue said transaction was in exchange for video footage supplied by CSS, clips obtained by ESPN’s Kelly Naqi as part of the network’s public records request reveal that either Kelly is totally full of shit or Lyles really needs to update his player database.

Some of the clips did identify and show current junior college players who could be recruited, but some of the highlight packages appear to have been used without permission from online sports-video companies that assembled them, and at least four players’ clips can be found on public video sites such as YouTube.

Other video clips show two players who were already enrolled at other universities: Caleb Evans, a defensive end at Arkansas since fall 2009, and wide receiver Coleman Edmond, who played six games at Cal last season.

Video of offensive lineman Jordan Allred — who already had signed with Kansas State in April — also was supplied. Defensive end Joel Bonomolo, who committed to Auburn in July 2009 and didn’t play last season, was highlighted on another disc.

Lyles told Yahoo! Sports this month that Oregon coach Chip Kelly asked him to submit retroactive player profiles to Oregon in February, shortly before Yahoo! and ESPN broke the story about the payment made to Lyles. The NCAA is currently investigating Oregon.


“Have Glove, Will Travel” – The Movie : Can’t Wait To See Who Gets The Part Of Don Zimmmer

Posted in Baseball, Cinema at 6:36 pm by

Proving that not every Kickstarter fundraiser is a sickening endeavor, the folks behind the Bill Lee documentary, “Spaceman : A Baseball Odyssey” are hoping to produce a dramatic feature on Lee’s exploits. Though I’m assuming they’re on a tight budget, said project might represent Jonah Hill’s chance at scoring an unlikely career double — playing Paul DePodesta and Reggie Cleveland in the same cinematic calendar year.


SF Giants’ Logo Tarnished By Brian Wilson Overexposure Hyproponic Peddler

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 4:56 pm by

Bugs & Cranks’ David Chalk reports the above advertisement appeared in the SF Weekly three times in the past month, proving that either Major League Baseball isn’t nearly as litigious when it comes to intellectual property as they used to be, or perhaps no one is reading the Weekly anymore. Or maybe some combination of both.

Jayson Werth’s Offensive Anemia : Bad For The Nats, Awesome For Cheap Drunks

Posted in Baseball, Beer at 4:03 pm by

Working with a 7 year pact that makes Jason Bay Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla look like relative bargains, the Nationals’ underachieving RF Jayson Werth is the man of honor for Washington D.C.’s Duffy’s Irish Pub, who are offering beer specials pinned to Werth’s crappy batting average.   You’d think a joint classy enough to have won City Paper’s “Best Wings” award could generate business on merit alone, but NBC Washington’s Matthew Stabley claims otherwise ;

During the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, you can order PBR tallboys, Buds and High Lifes for whatever Werth’s batting average is at the time. For example, if the promotion started right now, at the time of publication, Werth’s .211 batting average would mean $2.11 brewskies.

Want another dime knocked off the price? Then root for Werth to sink deeper into his slump this week. He’s averaged 3.7 at-bats per game this season, so if he starts all four games leading up to Sunday’s and continues at that pace without getting a hit, beers would be $2.02 at game time (4:10 p.m.). And if he were to follow that by going hitless again Sunday, beers would be an even $2 after his last at-bat.

“For the record we’re very happy to have Werth on our team and know he’ll turn it around very soon, we’re just having a little fun,” reads the invite on Duffy’s Facebook page.

And the pub optimistically used a .230 batting average as an example.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Duffy’s is producing bumper stickers reading “Please Don’t Drink & Drive (But If You Must, Please Mock Jayson Werth In The Process)”. Mostly because that’s way too much text for a bumper sticker.


2000 Year Old Man Reduces Randy Choate To Non-Entity

Posted in Baseball at 10:37 pm by

“Jack McKeon doesn’t care much for percentages and track record,” marvels the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter. “He’ll manage by feel, like it or loathe it.”  Prior to Florida’s 4-0 home loss to San Diego — just their 2nd loss in their past 11 games under McKeon, Porter caught up with a victim of the Marlins manager’s inscrutable thought process, lefty Randy ChoateOn Monday, Choate suffered the indignity of being pulled in the middle of an at bat, the hook coming 2 balls into a plate appearance by the Mets’ Lucas Duda.
despite the reliever having walked no more than two left-handed hitters all season.  From Porter in Tuesday’s P.B. Post :

“He told me he felt I was out of sync,” Choate said. “I told him I don’t agree with it. I was around the zone the whole time.”

“I figured I earned the chance. That’s not the way he saw it. I just don’t want to have to feel like looking over my shoulder if I go two balls, no strikes to a lefty.”

“I’m not going to go off on him, as bad as I want to,” Choate said. “I’m not going to get as pissed as I am in my head. I’m not going to do that. It’s his call. They hired him to do a job. They hired me to do a job. His job controls my job. That’s it.”

Unsurprisingly, McKeon didn’t say much about his talk with Choate.

“I talked to him today,” McKeon said. “Nothing important.”

Mendenhall, Bin Laden & A Sweatshirt Company’s Loose Definition Of “Morals”

Posted in Free Expression, Gridiron, The Law, The Woah, Total Fucking Terror, twitter twatter at 3:39 pm by

Steelers halfback Rashard Mendenhall faced considerable fallout earlier this year after his critical remarks via Twitter regarding celebrations over the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Perhaps proving that 9-11 conspiracy theorists aren’t quite in the American mainstream, Mendenhall’s endorsement contract with Champion sportswear was voided shortly afterwards, leading to the following lawsuit against Champion’s parent company, Hanesbrands, as detailed by CNBC’s Darren Rovell ;

“This case involves the core question of whether an athlete employed as a celebrity endorser loses the right to express opinions simply because the company whose products he endorses might disagree with some (but not all) of those opinions,” the suit reads.

While the series of tweets, which came soon after Bin Laden’s death was announced, were undoubtedly controversial, what’s not as clear is if Champion had the right to terminate Mendenhall. Champion’s contract with him, which ran through April 2015, does have a version of a morals clause, which specifically says that the company can terminate him if he “commits or is arrested for any crime or becomes involved in any situation or occurrence tending to bring Mendenhall into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or tending to shock, insult or offend the majority of the consuming public.”  

Champion executives obviously thought that they were covered and issued a statement upon Mendenhall’s termination that said the company respected Mendenhall’s “right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics,” but “no longer believe(s) that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion.” 


Front-Runnery, Budding Massholism Encouraged 450 Miles South Of Boston

Posted in Baseball, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 11:02 am by

The first Boston Red Sox visit to Nationals Park brought with it “jarring accents, green t-shirts and the unaccustomed whiff of a fan base that expects to win,” writes the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg, who probably experienced a similar vibe when the Orioles hosted the Red Sox on a more routine basis.  And with such mania for the AL East leaders well outside of their own market, it stands to reason some entrepreneurial sort would seek to organize a kiddie kamp devoted to Red Sox worship.

Welcome to the first day of the first year of Red Sox Camp — the official summer camps of the Boston Red Sox — in, yes, Bethesda, Maryland. It’s believed to be the first team-branded MLB camp outside of a team’s home market. The camp was open for up to 125 kids ages 5-13; it sold out. In, yes, Bethesda.

“Obviously it’s a loyal group of people, and they’ll travel far and wide to touch anything that has Red Sox on it,” said Brendan Sullivan, the co-founder and executive director of Red Sox Camps, which is doing nine sessions of camps featuring 1,000 campers in Boston, in addition to this current week at the Norwood School in Montgomery County. “There are very few teams that have the fan base to do this. Kids cling to the message a little bit more when you’ve got Boston Red Sox across your chest, and we’re taking advantage of that

The Bethesda campers all receive a “soup to nuts” Red Sox uniform, complete with stirrups and pants, belts and jersey. The coaches — about half of whom came down from the Boston area for the week — all wear Red Sox apparel. Many of the families pull up in cars covered with Red Sox stuff, and parents sit in the stands wearing Red Sox hats. The campers will also be taking a trip to Camden Yards on Tuesday, where they’ll get a VIP tour and meet with Dustin Pedroia.


Lane Kiffin Picks A Peculiar Moment To Become A Stickler For Anything

Posted in College Spurts, Free Expression at 4:38 pm by

Trojans RB Marc Tyler not so quietly suggested to TMZ cameras that USC football players are paid (crazy idea, right?) and said something or other about a female reality TV stars.  Possibly because Southern Cal head football coach Lane Kiffin (above) will do anything to defend the honor of Kim Khardasian his program, Tyler was suspended earlier today. From USA Today’s Erick Smith ;

“I was very disappointed when I learned of Marc Tyler’s inappropriate comments that were captured by the media last week,” Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said. “That is not the way that we expect our players to represent USC and our team.”

Kiffin said Tyler would not play in the season opener against Minnesota and “possibly further.” He is also banned from team activities.

“I want to apologize for embarrassing USC, my teammates and coaches. I am disappointed that I let down all the people who have supported me as I have been working through some personal issues,” Tyler said. “After meeting today with Mr. Haden and Coach Kiffin, I realize how my behavior and my statements, even though I was joking, can reflect poorly on so many people.”

In case you’re feeling a bit dizzy, a coach who parlayed his cup of coffee in Knoxville into a more lucrative pact at scandal-ridden USC is going to throw the etiquette book at an unpaid student athlete who merely said what the entire country has been thinking.   And the part about USC football players getting paid, too.

Take This Job & Shove It Dept : Indie Baseball Announcer Fucks Off In Style

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio, The Marketplace at 4:16 pm by

Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder compares the final moments of Qumar Zamn’s play by play tenure with the Lake County Fielders to C.M. Punk’s recent verbal diatribe against Vince McMahon. While there’s no evidence the former was a work (nor any hint Zamm will make a triumphant return to the North American League to rival Punk’s performance last night in Chicago), the Fielders’ financial mismanagement might be the only ongoing saga to make Dodgers or Mets fans feel relatively good about their situations.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what Fielders owner/manager Pete LaCock looked like before he had creditors chasing him. Hey, if independent league baseball doesn’t pan out, perhaps he can write a column for Jim Cramer?

Untradeable Albatross Tells Daily News, “What, Me Worry?”

Posted in Baseball at 10:52 am by

While the Brooklyn Cyclones cranked up the promo machine for Monday’s rehab appearance by “one of professional baseball’s most exciting players” (albeit one the team’s owner recently described in less than flattering terms), the parent club’s 8-5 defeat to Philly on Sunday was marked by repeated displays of futility (0-4 at the plate, a huge error on a misjudged fly ball in the 8th inning) by left fielder Jason Bay. It took the New York Daily News trio of Sean Brennan, Roger Rubin and Kristie Ackert to coax the usually unflappable Bay into finally losing his cool.

Bay  left three runners in scoring position in his first two at-bats, grounding into inning-ending outs with runners on second and third in the first and on first and second in the third. With the average now back down to .234 – and with Willie Harris and Scott Hairston swinging hot bats – is he concerned about losing playing time?

“Not my job,” Bay said. “I show up and if I’m in the lineup, I’m in the lineup. If I’m not, it’s not my decision to make. I felt like before the break things started going well, and obviously I haven’t carried that momentum. But I’m still going out there trying to get the momentum I had, and I’m not worried about who’s doing well and who’s not.”

And about those boos Sunday?

“You think I enjoy what I’m doing out there?” Bay asked. “I’m more frustrated than anybody. But’ve I got to come back and do it every single day. I can’t get too caught up in the frustration.”

Given the Mets’ financial commitment to Bay, not to mention the likelihood that Terry Collins would like to manage another baseball team someday, it is highly unlikely Harris or Hairston will receive much playing time at Bay’s expense.

(ADDENDUM : who are you gonna believe, a guy who blogs 4 or 5 times a week or the manager himself?)


Mushnick Breaks Ranks, Speaks Out Against Other Muppets

Posted in Automobiles, New York, New York, non-sporting journalism, Racism Corner, Sports Radio, The Marketplace at 10:04 am by

You’d reckon that with the probable exceptions of Nike, Vince McMahon, Mike Francesa or Spike Lee, NY Post sports media critic Phil Mushnick would have no greater bogeyman than Giants OL turned used car pitchman Brad Benson, castigated again today for his, “go-low, hideously unfunny radio ads.” As it turns out, however, Mushnick saves special consideration for one of Benson’s competitor’s ;

Cable and Verizon systems serving north and central New Jersey lately have carried local insert commercials during Yankees and Mets games for Jack Daniels’ multi-branch car dealerships.

The commercials feature puppets as tough-talking, inarticulate, Italian mobster stereotypes.

One of the puppets even whacks another with a two-by-four.

Perhaps worst of all, the ads aren’t the least bit clever or amusing.

Could you see any other racial, ethnic or religious negative stereotypes — blacks, Asians, Jews — used in such a way?

Neither can I.

John Lackey’s Teammate Of The Year Candidacy In Serious Jeopardy

Posted in Baseball at 9:33 am by

The morning after calling Red Sox starter John Lackey’s reaction to fielding gaffes by SS Marco Scutaro, “the type of stuff that would get you punched in some clubhouses,” ESPN’s Buster Olney elaborated a bit in his Sunday Insider column ;

The rest of the Red Sox position players deserve some kind of award for not reacting to Lackey’s body language, which is the worst I’ve ever seen in a starting pitcher. Marco Scutaro made mistakes twice in the first inning, and as the Tampa Bay rally moved along, Lackey’s gestures to bad moments got worse and worse; twice he threw his hands up in the air, in frustration. Can you imagine how a pitcher would respond if an outfielder threw his hands up in disgust while watching a home run ball soar over his head, after Lackey hung a breaking ball?

And, separately, Lackey barked at Terry Francona when the manager took him out of the game, arguing with the decision.

Really, it’s something that Lackey should strive to change, and if he doesn’t, the Red Sox position players should all make a pact to physically react to every mistake that Lackey makes on the mound.


Ronay Vs. The Top (Top) Heavy Analysis Of Sky’s Jamie Redknapp

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 10:41 pm by

As the citizen of a country that considers John Kruk to be an actual qualified sports tele-journalist, I feel a bit bad about excerpting Barney Ronay’s evisceration of the pleasant-but-dippy Jamie Redknapp in Friday’s Guardian. However, whether England’s soccer pros are consider “top players”, “top top players” or “top X 20″ players is either, in Ronay’s view, “a compounding of absolutes”, or more simply totally the fault of the former Liverpool midfielder turned pundit.

Redknapp often concludes his entertaining digressions with the phrase “We’re talking about top top players, Ruud – top top top players”. No doubt this has had a profound influence. Like the kind of people who shout “Murderer!” and “Give Denise’s baby back!” in the street at off-duty soap actors, there are those who have perhaps become confused by Redknapp’s TV persona and genuinely consider him to be a footballing oracle, the voice of what Pelé once called “the top top game”.

It is above all a crisis of diminishing superlatives. The concept of top top sprung out of a superheated Sky-driven Premier League where everything is great pretty much all the time. How do you express excitement or even mild approval in a world where the emotional barometer is continually pitched at a level of damp-eyed superbity?

In theory, this is an open-ended scale. Redknapp might remark in passing: “You look at Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs – these are top top players.”

“Yes, Jamie,” you’d say. “But you look at Xavi, Iniesta – these are top top top players.”

“Lionel Messi, Nandor Hidegkuti, Garrincha, Hot Shot Hamish, the Honourable Alfred Lyttelton – you’re talking top top top top top players,” Jamie would insist, becoming agitated.

And so it is that fresh mezzanine levels of topness just keep opening up, secret doors, priest holes, tower rooms, private elevators, Jamie ushering you ever upwards though VIP suites of vertiginous approval and into a realm of pure top top top top top.

The Greatest Diss To Terry Leach Since 1986 Postseason Shares Were Announced

Posted in Baseball at 9:26 am by

Earlier this week, the Twins announced plans to peddle a limited edition bobblehead set featuring their entire 1991 World Championship squad, along with manager Tom Kelly. As the Star-Tribune’s Paul Walsh explains, not for the first time in his career, veteran P Terry Leach was the odd man out.

At first, team spokesman Chris Iles said the collection was limited to 25 dolls, so the team bumped Leach to make room for Kelly.

Even though he pitched in two World Series games, Leach was the odd doll out because he did not play in the American League Championship Series (ALCS), Iles said.

“I did not know that,” said Leach, 57, who now lives in Florida. “I don’t understand this at all. Why would there be a limit?”

A few hours after the announcement, the Twins executive in charge of the promotion said Leach was omitted only because the team mistakenly sent to the factory in China a roster that included just those who played in the ALCS.

“We are adding Terry Leach,” said Patrick Klinger, the team’s vice president for marketing. “He deserves to be added, and he will be in the bobblehead set.”

“The VP of marketing already called” and explained everything, Leach said late Thursday afternoon. “I told him good because that hurt my feelings. That would be embarrassing to not be included.”


Preening Narcissist Adds “Diminished Skills, Poor Fitness” To His Ever Expanding Collection Of Flaws

Posted in Baseball at 8:47 pm by

A week removed from the public coronation of Derek Jeter as Major League Baseball’s Most Christ-Like Figure, it is once time to return to a National Pastime long favored by Yankee fans & haters alike ; trashing Alex Rodriguez.   A-Rod’s meniscus tear should have him out of the lineup for the next 6 weeks, but as the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch tells Fox Sports.com readers, it’s not merely the third baseman’s dipping production that should give his paymasters pause, “his ability to stay on the field as he gets closer to 40,” is equally worrisome.

Since 2008, however, hobbled by hip, knee, shoulder and calf problems, A-Rod’s durability is no longer a given; his average has dipped to 133 games a year. This year Rodriguez is at 80 games, which means he’ll have to play nearly every day down the stretch to make it to 130.

All this does is strengthen the case to convert A-Rod to a full-time DH in 2012, as the Yankees anticipated they someday would have to. But the price of brittle bones and creaking joints is steep, as the Bombers are playing $32 million for a singles hitter.

Rodriguez ended the first half with a streak of 85 at-bats without a home run, the longest of his career. It’s worth noting A-Rod is still a threat with a .295 average, but his new profile is almost unrecognizable: Rodriguez was only fourth among the Yankees in home runs and OPS at the time of his disablement, but he was leading the team in singles.

he’s in jeopardy of ending his streak of 13 straight seasons of at least 30 homers and 100 RBI. Currently at 13 homers and 52 RBI, Rodriguez still might reach the century mark in RBI, but 25 homers might become the new normal for A-Rod. If so, he’ll have to stay off the DL and be productive at age 41 and 42 if he’s going to catch Barry Bonds’ all-time homer record — A-Rod is 136 shy.

Whether that is possible is anyone’s guess. One major league executive said, “You have to remember you’re talking about an admitted steroid user, so who knows if his body is going to start to break down faster now that he’s getting older. We don’t have data on that. It’s unquantifiable.”

Carlos Marmol’s Date With History

Posted in Baseball at 10:44 am by

Your author was amongst those in attendance last night at Wrigley Field, laying witness to one-man’s abrupt, but no less brutal squandering of an excellent pitching performance by Matt Garza.  A 6-3 scoreline in favor of Florida over the Cubs doesn’t nearly do justice to the kerosene-tossing antics of Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol, nor the ineptitude of Mike Quade, who at 10:30am local time this morning, might still be thinking he should’ve left his closer on the mound to finish the inning. ESPN’s Steve Berhiaume noted that Marmol was “the first Cubs reliever in live ball era to walk 4 hitters and not record an out. He threw 25 pitches, 18 balls.”  To which Bleed Cubbie Blue helpfully points out, “The ‘live ball era’, in case you are not familiar with the term, dates from 1920 — 91 years ago.”

It was clear from the very first batter in the ninth inning that Carlos Marmol had nothing Thursday night. But did Mike Quade get someone up? No. Did Quade get someone up after the second walk? No. Maybe that’s because Marmol threw a strike to him. It was only after the bases were loaded that Kerry Wood and James Russell started throwing in the left-field bullpen.

Did that do anything? Not really, because even after Marmol finally started throwing strikes, one of which was pounded for a bases-clearing double by Greg Dobbs, Quade sat on the bench and let him walk another hitter, Emilio Bonifacio, before finally getting him out of there.

Every other Cubs manager since 1920 has had the sense to get a reliever out of there if he couldn’t retire a hitter and kept walking people. But no, not Mike Quade, nope, not Quade and his minor-league coaching staff. They just let the walk parade keep parading — and then, compounding the felony, defended the move and said it would continue in the same vein.

“Now is not the time or place to be making bold statements about changes,” insisted Quade after the game, and the rest of the National League agrees, 100%. Better to wait until September, the Cubs are 40 games under .500 and the only paying customers left are tourists like me.


Rocket Trial Ends Before It Starts

Posted in Baseball, The Law at 5:12 pm by

From department d’oh : a mistrial was declared earlier today in the federal perjury trial of Roger Clemens, after the jury was shown evidence previously deemed inadmissible by US District Court Judge Reggie Walton.  From the New York Times’ Juliet Macur :

“He is entitled to a fair trial and, in my view, he can’t get it now, and that was caused by the government,” the judge, Reggie Walton said.

The prosecutors left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Judge Walton set a hearing date of Sept. 2 for them to reveal if they plan to retry the case, which was only two days into testimony. Normally when a mistrial is called, even further into a trial, double jeopardy is not an issue, some legal experts said.

Judge Walton abruptly stopped the trial and scolded the prosecution for playing a videotape of the 2008 Congressional hearings on performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. The part of the tape that worried him included comments made by Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, in which he described Andy Pettitte, Clemens’s onetime best friend and teammate, as being credible. Pettitte was expected to be one of the star witnesses for the government in this trial.

The prosecution also played for the jury a part of the Congressional hearings in which Cummings read an affidavit from Andy Pettitte’s wife, Laura. In the affidavit, she said that her husband had told her about a conversation he had with Clemens about Clemens’s use of human growth hormone.

Judge Walton ruled last week that Laura Pettitte’s testimony would be barred from the trial, unless it was needed for rebuttal evidence when Andy Pettitte was on the stand.

“A mistrial like this is a rare event in federal courts, Deliberate defiance of a judge’s order by federal prosecutors is even rarer,” mused ESPN.com’s Lester Munson.  “But this combination of rare events could allow Clemens to walk away from a massive investigation and prosecution that seemed likely to send him to prison.” And with that, any threat that Clemens’ frosted tips might be messed up in a country club jail, might, unfortunately, be out the window.

The Good Name Of Independent Wrestling Promotions Has Forever Been Tainted

Posted in Professional Wrestling at 1:25 pm by

With the possible exception of used car dealers, college football head coaches producers of internet pornography and the good people who book many of the nation’s pay-to-play rock venues, there is no group of individuals more ethical than promoters of small-time wrestling shows.  With that public trust in mind, I am deeply sorry to share the following tale of promoter Dino Puglia, an unsuccessful charity benefit in honor of the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a fake heart attack that would’ve shamed Fred Sanford, and worse of all, DEFRIENDING ON FACEBOOK.  From the St. Petersberg Times’ David Rice :

“I’ve stopped answering (Puglia’s) calls, and I don’t want to have anything to do with him,” said Savage’s brother “the Genius” Lanny Poffo, who had given his blessing for the event. “I thought it would be a good thing for my brother’s name, but I regret the outcome and would prefer to distance myself from the stench.”

Among the problems:

• It was billed as a fundraiser for All Children’s Hospital and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital — without either hospital’s approval. Puglia now says he didn’t raise enough money to cut a check to either charity.

• Of the eight star names used to promote the event, only half showed up. At least two — Poffo and the Honky Tonk Man, whose real name is Roy Wayne Farris — say they never agreed to attend.

Poffo said he told Puglia up front he would be in Niagara Falls that weekend. “I shouldn’t have been mentioned in any advertising,” Poffo said. “It makes me look bad to not show up.”

Big Vito LoGrasso called the show “a rinky-dink operation.” There was no sound system, no bell to ring. In honor of the Macho Man, Puglia held marginally observed moments of silence, repeating “ding” into the microphone.

LoGrasso helped organize the event until he and Puglia had a falling out. Puglia blamed LoGrasso for many of the event’s problems, including the misleading promotions — which LoGrasso flatly denies. Puglia banned LoGrasso from the event, threatening to have him arrested if he showed up.

“He even deleted me from his friends on Facebook,” LoGrasso said.


Persons WIth Pulses, Brains, Unsold On David Kahn’s Emphasis On “Uptempo DNA”

Posted in Basketball at 11:18 pm by

Yahoo’s Gil Alcaraz characterizes Don Nelson, he of 1335 career wins as a man “considered one of the greatest NBA coaches of all-time.”  And if you ignore Nellie’s brief tenure in New York (or his second stint in Oakland), that’s a fair enough statement.  The news that Nelson is interested in Minnesota’s coaching vacancy provides some levity for Tim Kawakami (“my goodness, I think Anthony Randolph just fainted…David Kahn + Nelson? Yes, it’s possible Nellie believes he’s found his next Robert Rowell $12M fool, and maybe he has”) and Mike Tokito (“the mix of Nellie and GM David Kahn together? You could charge admission to watch their meetings”), but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan saves his full energy for an evisceration of Kahn ; “If you parse his grandiloquent language and stare into his eyes as he explains his basketball vision, what you discover is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Kahn said his search for Rambis’ replacement will be “wide but not voluminous.” That is gibberish.

He said he wants his next coach to encourage an “up-tempo” style of play. That is silly, because last year Rambis’ Timberwolves ranked first in the NBA in pace of play, according to ESPN’s John Hollinger, and demonstrated what happens when a poor team plays fast. It loses 65 games.

It’s not that all the moves he has made are bad; it’s that his decisions display no more insight or basketball knowledge than the average fan on the street possesses. In fact, the average fan probably wouldn’t have let Rambis dangle, and probably wouldn’t have chosen a short point guard with his or her first draft choice.

It is probably unfair to compare Kahn to an average fan. The average fan knows that NBA teams don’t win by emphasizing “up-tempo” offenses. They win with defense, rebounding, half-court execution and intelligent play. Fast-break baskets are the result, not the cause, of well-played basketball.

It is clear now that Kahn hired Rambis and assistants Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus not because Kahn recognized them as gifted coaches but because he had heard of them.