09.23.11

Marlins Closer Leo Nunez’ Identity Crisis

Posted in Baseball, mistaken I.D. at 10:08 am by

Full credit to the Florida Marlins ; not only have they found a way to overshadow the furor over their new, hideously ugly team logo, but they’ve finally found a more reasonable way to jettison a player from their big league roster than punishing him for tweeting. In what might rank as one of the stranger stories of this or any other season, the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer reports reliever Leo Nunez has been suspended and placed on MLB’s restricted list…because he isn’t Leo Nunez.

A person familiar with Nunez’s immigration status, however, said the reliever has been playing under an assumed name, and the issue has prompted him to return to his native Dominican Republic.

Nunez might have been aware of the issue as far back as July, the source told The Herald.


“I can’t yet comment,” said Nunez’s agent, Andy Mota. “This is very recent. I don’t want to say anything at all.”

A source told The Associated Press that Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo, and he is 29, a year older than listed in the Marlins’ media guide.

Pat Courtney, senior vice president of public relations for Major League Baseball, said all he could add regarding Nunez was that he had been placed on the restricted list for “personal reasons, and it doesn’t involve baseball.”

Not to challenge Mr. Spencer’s version of events, but I’m guessing that Juan Carlos Oviedo was aware a little earlier than this past July that he wasn’t in fact, named Leo Nunez.

09.21.11

The Calender Might Say September 2011, But Bill Plaschke Isn’t Quite Finished Bashing Ex-Dodger GM DePodesta

Posted in Baseball, Cinema, Sports Journalism at 7:57 pm by

When Jonah Hill’s “Moneyball” character Peter Brand — loosely based on Billy Beane’s one-time executive assistant, Harvard grad Paul DePodesta — is derisively dubbed “Google Boy”, the movie’s writers are taking considerable license — it wasn’t until DePodesta ascended to the position of Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager that the (alleged) egghead was disparaged in such terms, quite often, in fact, by the LA Times’ Bill Plaschke (above). Fast forward to 2011, and after a quick dismissal at Chavez Ravine, a brief stop in San Diego and current employment by the rebuilding New York Mets, DePodesta again finds himself being chased by Plaschke, who presumably thinks he’ll get getting some lunch money when and if he finally shoves Sandy Alderson’s assistant’s head into a toilet. Of Johan Hill’s widely discussed semi-portrayal of DePodesta, Plaschke — he of the matinee idol good looks and brooding charisma — cannot resist sneering, “Hill nails his shy mannerisms, his uncomfortable silences, his awkwardness in sharing his newfangled theories with old men spitting tobacco into cups, his fear in dealing with players.”

At the time of the filming Hill was a little stouter than the rail-thin DePodesta, but everything else fits, everything else I remember exactly, from the odd dress to the innovative mind to the unwavering determination in beliefs that could only be shared in darkened film rooms or back hallways.

“I saw a lot of myself in Paul in a completely different way,” said Hill in a phone interview. “I see a quiet rebelliousness in Paul, and I see him finding great difficulty in being defined by strangers.”

Contrary to the gossip, DePodesta confirmed he had decided to remove his name from the film long before Hill became attached. DePodesta actually hung out in a group of people, including Hill, for a day before the filming, which was apparently enough for the kid to catch his vibe.

“I talked with [director] Bennett [Miller] about portraying a guy who blends into the wall until suddenly a light shines upon him,” Hill said.

That was DePodesta when he took over the Dodgers in February 2004, a 31-year-old prodigy occupying a seat once held by Branch Rickey and Al Campanis. That light made him blink, and he wasn’t the only one.

Tony Bennett, 9-11, The Battle Of The Bulge & Mike Francesa

Posted in Sports Radio, The Woah, Total Fucking Terror at 3:13 pm by

For a certain Diet Coke-guzzling radio host, AN UPDATE FROM THE MINK MAN CANNOT ARRIVE SOON ENOUGH.  The video footage culled from Bob’s Blitz, and while I have no idea what caused Mike Francesa to sound like he’s on helium when discussing Tony Bennett’s controversial remarks, at least you get to hear Francesa say “Battle Of The Bulge” a good dozen times.

Rockin’ & Reelin’ (Around The Periphery Of What’s Legal) With Leo Mazzone

Posted in Baseball, Sports Radio at 2:15 pm by

On the fateful day REM announced their breakup, it feels a tad churlish to nudge Atlanta fan Mike Mills with a post that questions the ethics of his beloved Braves. However, since Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra made the huge personal sacrifice of actually listening to Steve Phillips’ radio program on Sirius’ You’ll All Be Fired Soon Mad Dog Radio channel, the least I can do is share former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone’s remarks about the New York (Football) Giants faking injuries.

Leo Mazzone: “Well, I don’t see anything wrong with it myself. I watch football a lot, too, and I know that’s been going on for a while to slow a team down, it stops their momentum. In baseball, as you well know, it’s been going on a long time. I know that in my little ball bag I had firm grip and all kinds of goodies to take care of a baseball to get a little more movement on it. (laughs)”

Evan Cohen: “So that’s why the Braves kicked the Mets ass for all these years?”

Steve Phillips: “Wait a minute! How come our pitchers were pitching with nice bright white shiny baseballs and your guys had pine tar and scuffs all over them?”

Mazzone: “Well, you had pine tar, that’s for sure, because when you were in the postseason and it got called, one time Smoltzy had it on his shoes and I said, ‘John, you can’t keep bending over and touching your shoes all the time. Let’s put it someplace else!’ (laughs)”

09.20.11

The Nature Boy Has Only Begun Fucking WIth The Sports Putz’ Head

Posted in Baseball, Professional Wrestling at 8:37 pm by

(l-r : Arn, Barry, Natch, Tully, shown issuing a cease and desist order to Buddy Landell)

Mere weeks after Ric Flair’s attorney made some flimsy rhetorical gestures in the direction of Bill Simmons’ Grantland over the latter’s exhaustive detailing of the legendary grappler’s legal and financial woes, it would seem Flair has exacted some small measure of psychic revenge. NESN.com’s Tony Lee reports the 16-time world champion paid a surprise visit to the Red Sox clubhouse earlier today, sadly missing out on an opportunity to take advice from J.D. Drew on how to best sell an injury.

Dustin Pedroia, who teamed with Josh Reddick to purchase an autographed Flair robe that has hung above Pedroia’s locker for months, was given an authentic championship belt from the champ. Many of the players came over to lift it, commenting on the incredible weight of the thing, unlike the light toy model that also hung over Pedroia’s locker.

After Flair took photos with Pedroia and Reddick, he called Terry Francona “coach” and then departed with a trademark “Wooooooo,” leaving behind a group of grown men giggling like little boys.

“We had no clue,” Reddick said. “We were both just sitting there and we turned around and there he was in the flesh.”

Reddick and Pedroia bought the robe, one that Flair used to wear during his signature entrances, through an eBay auction earlier in the year. It is red and says “Nature Boy,” Flair’s nickname, on the back.

Special Guest Columnist Percy Rust Addresses The Nation’s Truly Needy

Posted in Blogged Down, Percy Rust at 1:41 pm by

(ED NOTE: Millionaire Percy Rust is known for his philanthropic work. He offers help and encouragement for those in need. He has earned a fortune and a wealth of knowledge during his lifetime and cannot wait to give large chunks of both away to you, the desperate and the undignified. His motto :  “give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to break into a supermarket, feed him for several days.”)

Dear Mr. Rust,
My mother works very hard to raise my younger brother and me, and we both help her as much as we can. I have been trying to find a job for over a year so I can help at home. Now that I’m 14, I can start a good-paying job for $3.35 an hour after school and on Saturdays. My mom can’t leave her job to drive me back and forth and my old bike keeps breaking down. If you could please lend me money to buy a bike, I will pay you back $5 a week. I’m going to work hard and become a millionaire like you.
- M. N., Dallas , Texas

Dear M.N.

Do your initials stand for “Moaning Nincompoop” or “My Nuts”?  Because it’s the latter you can SUCK UPON.  “I’m going to work hard and become a millionaire”, yeah, not bloody likely.  Do you have any idea how easy it is to pick a Kryptonite lock?  I do — I bought the fucking company and laid off two-thirds of their workforce. 

Dear Mr. Rust,

I’ve gone into business for myself after having worked for others for my entire life. Recently, I’ve opened a small diner and I’m trying my best to show my children that with a real work ethic, we all have a chance to succeed in this great land. The thing is, with all the overhead associated in starting this small business, I can’t afford health insurance.  The doctor says I’ve got a lump on my breast and I cannot possibly afford the $1000 for the biopsy.  Is there any chance you could loan me this money?  God bless you, Mrs. T. W., Sandusky, OH

Dear Mrs. T.W. ;

I think $1000 buys me many photos of you in your underwear. Possibly hundreds. However, without a sample or two, I really can’t process this request. But feel free to try again!

Dear Mr. Rust,

Me and my friends would like to publish a sports website. Not just any sports website, mind you, but one that features a well-respected, exceedingly hip writing staff, and all the sort of back-end bells & whistles that will make our site look like a less douchy Grantland a legit business enterprise. We’d love to begin publishing, but it’ll take at least $50,000 (USD) before we can make even one single post — possibly more if we hope to stop more of our writers from going to work for the Bleacher Report.  What do you say? – Mr. C, NYC, NY

Pal,

Your audacity and utter lack of perspective are reminiscent of a young Percy Rust.  A really good looking, young Percy Rust, one that works out several times a week. I’ll cut you a check on one condition — under no circumstances should you agree to any limitations concerning editorial content with an ad vendor like Yardbarker.  If your nauseating brand of self-promotion hasn’t cost you any credibility, allowing those craven motherfuckers to censor you certainly will.  And take it from Percy Rust, at the end of the day, all you really have is your good name.  Well, that and some of my money.

“Memphis Heat” – At Long Last, Available For 2011 Xmas Stockings

Posted in Cinema, Professional Wrestling at 12:09 pm by

A little less than two years ago, the Kickstarter fundraising effort for “Memphis Heat : The True Story Of Memphis Wrasslin’” was plugged in this space (“Coming Soon, Perhaps The Most Important Documentary Of Our Lifetimes”) ; after tearing up the festival circuit, Chad Schaffler’s extensively researched chronicle of Memphis wrestling history is available on DVD, October 1.   I’ve had the pleasure of viewing the final product and I can say without question that whether you’re a fan of the region’s icons like the late Sputnik Monroe, Jackie Fargo, Jerry Lawler, “Superstar” Bill Dundee, Jimmy Valliant, or a relative neophyte who might only know Rocky Johnson as the father of a halfway competent action-adventure star, “Memphis Heat” makes a terrific case for this most American of art forms, along with Memphis’ unique role in the sport’s evolution.  I’ve only got one tiny complaint : NOT NEARLY ENOUGH KAMALA.

A Chilling Analysis Of Vernon Wells’ Thought Process

Posted in Baseball, twitter twatter at 11:14 am by

With a current OPS of .663, not being Adam Dunn is just about the only thing Angels CF Vernon Wells has to feel good about these days. The OC Register’s Sam Miller has been following Wells’ Twitter feed since the start of the year, and notes that after an early season outburst (25 tweets in the space of 4 days last April), the former Blue Jays fixture has fallen into a profound social networking slump.

In all of May, he tweets just five times: Once for Osama Bin Laden’s death, twice to ask how everyone is doing today, and two baseball-related tweets. He still replies to fans, but his Twitter feed is turning inward.

June. We get a basketball tweet — like everybody, Wells turns to professional sports to distract himself from work — and a Follow Me On Facebook request. He asks how everyone is, twice, and debates whether to retweet or reply to people asking him for a RT. One tweet about baseball all month. When he does tweet, the messages are subdued, largely exclamation-point free, and not about himself at all.

He tweets just eight times in July, and his focus gradually moves further from the Angels: He tweets about Derek Jeter, then about a golf tournament, then about women’s soccer, then about Starbucks. Even his prolific replying slows down.
His final tweet of the month — about the MC Hammer bobbleheads in Oakland — is the closest thing to an acknowledgement that he plays baseball. The bravado from April is gone.

And in August, his Twitter account’s soul is broken. On Aug. 12, his OPS dips to .612, and he tweets for the final time all season. Fittingly, it’s a tweet about his fondness for Toronto. At least there, they only booed him for being expensive. Here, he gets booed for being expensive and for playing terribly. He is silent in September — not even replying anymore.

09.19.11

Never Let It Be Said Steve Alford’s Boss Doesn’t Have His Back

Posted in Basketball, College Spurts, Sports Journalism at 9:42 pm by

From the September 17, 2011 Albuquerque Journal :

Editor:

Having read Mark Smith’s broadside, “Alford Cashes In on a So-So Schedule,” it occurs to me a diligent reporter would share with his readers some basic facts that speak to the totality of Steve Alford’s tenure at UNM.

Steve Alford (above) has been our men’s basketball coach for four years. When compared to the first four years compiled by any former UNM basketball coach, Alford teams have recorded the most wins, most conference titles, the highest winning percentage and the best road-win percentage in the program’s history. The 11 non-conference wins during Coach Alford’s time here equals the total non-conference wins of the previous 14 years.

Alford’s athletes have also performed academically, recording the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the school’s history and a consistently high GPA of 2.7 and above for the past seven semesters.

The reporter’s limited perspective also fails to speak of the overall contribution Steve Alford has made to UNM, its basketball program and the community. He’s helped Special Olympics New Mexico raise more than a quarter million dollars. In his four years here, Coach Alford has rekindled Lobo Pride in its premiere sport. He has brought honor and national attention to our university. He is an individual to celebrate, not denigrate.


Sincerely,

David J. Schmidly
UNM President

The article that provoked Schmidly’s letter to the editor, Mark J. Smith’s “Alford Cashes In on a So-So Schedule”, revealed that Alford received a $10,000 bonus (one of 5 such payments last year) for strength of schedule, despite the Lobos’ schedule ranking 284th out of 345 Division I teams. Lest we believe Alford is a poor educator, he received a $10K bonus for the team grade point average hitting 2.7, though the school’s AD, Paul Krebs reminds Smith a payment for reaching a 50% graduation rate is “under review”.

The Scariest Thing To Hit Fenway Since…

Posted in Baseball, Halloween at 4:19 pm by

…a pantsless Bob Gamere was found in the bushes?  Or perhaps the most panic-inducing fright-fest since, well, the Great Fold Of 2011?  What genius in the Red Sox marketing department thought a fan base routinely hounded (some might say haunted) with references to curses might embrace a firm called “Spooky World” setting up shop in their historic baseball venue?

QPR’s Barton, Surely Not The First Person To Suggest Mick McCarthy Is On Drugs

Posted in Football at 3:46 pm by

Newly acquired QPR midfielder Joey Barton was given the club’s captain’s armband shortly after his arrival at Loftus Road, and in no time whatsoever has shown the sort of maturity and professionalism that marked his earlier stops at Newcastle and Manchester City. The Guardian and the Press Association provide the details after Rangers’ 3-0 away win at Wolves Saturday afternoon

Barton used Twitter after the game to call Wolverhampton’s Karl Henry “a Sunday league player” and “a mug” while also suggesting Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, must have been on drugs when he declined to sign him from Newcastle.

The Football Association duly examined the Twitter feed and, keen not to be seen interfering with players’ rights to freedom of speech, had almost certainly resolved to take no action over a possible disrepute charge when Barton appeared as a guest on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday.

Once in front of the camera he claimed that Henry is “always sticking his foot in and trying to hurt people” and is only “out to make a name for himself”. It is understood FA officials may now wish to review that footage.

Meanwhile that Sunday viewing proved the cue for further retaliation from Henry. “Joey Barton was telling everyone he is on 80 grand a week as usual. That is him,” he said. “He always does that during the game. Always. He riles a few people up when he says those things and tells everybody how great he is.

“It is just embarrassing really. If that is what he wants to do, he can carry on doing it but that is why a lot of people dislike him. He has tried to reinvent his image but it is probably the same old story.

Souhan : Peterson Wasted On 0-2 Vikes

Posted in Gridiron at 10:58 am by

(above, Donovan McNabb doing what he does best these days…handing the ball to Adrian Peterson and getting out of the way)

If you think starting the 2011 NFL season with a pair of consecutive losses represents too slim a body of work to condemn the Minnesota Vikings to disaster status, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Jim Souhan proposes, “two games is a ‘small sample size’…but then so is a shot glass filled with arsenic.” Salut!

In two consecutive second halves, quarterback Donovan McNabb has put the arm in Armageddon. In San Diego, he threw for 2 yards in the second half. Sunday, he threw for 75 while again looking uncomfortable in the pocket and too often inaccurate.

Sunday, the Vikings rushed for 186 yards. Peterson gained 120 and two touchdowns while proving more adept than ever at reading blocks and making deft moves in the hole.

Again, his efforts were squandered by a passing offense whose origins may be found on cave walls. Although McNabb’s numbers were hardly embarrassing, his only completion for more than 20 yards came on a screen pass that Toby Gerhart carried for 42.

What has to be troubling inside the locker room is that Peterson’s brilliance has positioned the Vikings to win two games, and the rest of the offense has squandered them both.

09.18.11

Floyd Mayweather Finally Finds An Opponent Tougher Than Brian Kenny

Posted in Boxing, Sports TV at 5:05 pm by

…no, not Victor Ortiz, victimized by a somewhat dubious K.O. in the 4th round last night in Las Vegas, but HBO’s Larry Merchant, who upon being told “you don’t know shit about boxing”, replied, “I wish I was 50 years younger, so I could kick your ass.” In the view of Boxing Insider’s Rich Mancusco, Mayweather’s unprovoked outburst at Merchant was an evasive measure to dodge the most obvious question of all.

Mayweather has etched his name in stone as a Boxing Hall of Famer. The knockout over Ortiz should not be considered a defining moment of his legacy until he meets Pacquiao. Ortiz wants a rematch that may not be warranted or offered, though Mayweather has consented. Perhaps this is another way for Mayweather to avoid Pacquiao for another 16 months.

History’s Most Puzzling eBay Auctions, Pt. VII

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace, When Mascots Attack at 2:49 pm by

It would seem Brian Potter has made the transition from Bolton nightclub owner to marketing director of an American minor league baseball club. (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)

09.17.11

This Week’s Winner Of The Mike Vanderjagt Award For Ill-Advised Public Statements…

Posted in Gridiron at 7:41 pm by

…goes to Cowboys K David Buehler, quizzed by Dallas News’ Rainer Sabin as to the recommended plan of action before facing Niners WR/return specialist Ted Ginn Jr.  Were Buehler asked how to handle Greg Ginn, I’m sure he’d have suggested many hours of practice and/or donations to feline charities.

“If the wind is at my back, hopefully I’ll get the green light and be able to kick a touchback and keep it out of Ted Ginn’s hands because he is a dangerous returner,” Cowboys kicker David Buehler said. “As long as you hit him in the mouth earlier, I think he might give up.”

Last week, Buehler produced one touchback in five opportunities and while he was retained by the Cowboys because of his ability to boot the ball into the end zone the Dallas coaching staff may ask him take a different tack on kickoffs this weekend by giving Ginn an opportunity to field the ball.

There Goes The Neighborhood : A Banksy-ian Tribute To Brian Wilson

Posted in Baseball, Modern Art at 3:46 pm by

Ever wanted to wake up one morning to see Giants closer Brian Wilson tagging an “SF” logo on the side of your house?  I didn’t think so, but one San Francisco homeowner tells Bernalwood’s Todd Lappin that having previously seen the above Wilson stencil appearing on the city’s streets, he couldn’t resist commissioning one for his own abode,.

I suggested Get Up tag the open, south facing wall of my house (which faces a small empty lot).  The next thing you know, he says as long as it’s ok with me he’d love to!

My only stipulation was that he do it as if it were a real tag – wherever he wanted to, and by the dark of night.  I left him a can of housepaint to touch up the wall at his request.  And this morning, voila!  (I paypaled him some dough to cover his supplies and whatnot, of course).

So it’s a great image that captures my love of street art, the Giants, the quirkiness of Bernal, and since I’d just returned from Burning Man it seemed like a nice way to decorate the neighborhood.

09.16.11

Dowbiggin : Delayed Start To The Moore/Bertuzzi Trial Benefits The Plantiff

Posted in Hockey, The Law at 9:09 pm by

In the 7 years since Steve Moore saw his NHL career end at the hands of Todd Bertuzzi , there’s been an unsubtle shift in prevailing notions of hockey goonery and head injuries in particular.  That’s bad news for the Vancouver Canucks, writes the Globe & Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin, who suggests Bertuzzi’s former club and the league would’ve been better off had they settled with Moore in ’04 rather than face a jury next September.

Come with us, friends, to the golden days following Bertuzzi’s mugging of Moore. In that uncomplicated era, we were told that Moore was a weasel who got what he deserved, that the concussion suffered by Moore was a figment of his lawyer’s imagination. (“Who ever gets hurt like that in the NHL?”) The lawsuit was a dodge by a marginal player who wasn’t going to make it in the NHL to collect a fat paycheque. The sentiment was summed up by this 2004 blogpost on hockeyforum.com: “Steve Moore is a gutless, unapologetic, headhunting puke who got what he deserved. Karma is good.”

Bertuzzi? He was unfairly crucified by hockey Luddites. At least that’s what we heard from Brian Burke, the truculent general manager of the Canucks at the time Bertuzzi did his Unforgiven number. (“Because he is not warm and fuzzy with you, you’ve taken this opportunity to kick the crap out of him, and I think it’s been just shameful,” Burke told the media at the time.) Ah, the good old days for the Don Cherry Brigade.

Had Moore tried to assemble a sympathetic jury in 2004 he’d have been stymied by a hockey culture sold by many mainstream media about the events of March 8, 2004. Sadly for Bertuzzi and the Canucks, whose present ownership was handed the poison chalice of this case by a previous regime, the citizenry of Ontario has been brought up to speed by the media on what can happen when a 230-pound man punches you in the head and then falls with all his weight on your unconscious body.

Christian Laettner, Just A Little Bit Closer To Breaking Rocks In The Hot Sun

Posted in Basketball, Real Estate, The Law, The Marketplace at 2:31 am by

Former Duke hoops standouts turned real estate developers Christian Death Laettner and Brian Davis could be held in contempt by a Washington judge if they’re unable to explain their refusal to settle a repay an investor as per a court order from earlier this year.  From the Charlotte News-Observer’s David Bracken :

If their answers don’t satisfy the judge, Laettner and Davis could be sent to jail – an outcome that few could have predicted four years ago when they were basking in the success of their West Village development in downtown Durham.

Even now, as Laettner and Davis try to fend off angry creditors, West Village remains the jewel in their crumbling real estate empire. Its mixture of apartments, restaurants and offices continues to thrive, making it attractive to investors and to those angry creditors determined to pursue Laettner and Davis’ assets.

A Maryland court has already awarded Shawne Merriman, the former NFL linebacker, a 10 percent stake in the West Village condominiums as part of a $3.7 million judgment against Laettner and Davis.

Friday’s court hearing relates to a smaller judgment, $671,309, which was awarded to California investors J.D. Holdings in June. J.D. Holdings loaned Laettner and Davis’ company, Blue Devil Ventures, $500,000 in November 2006 to develop property in Baltimore.

The motion asking the judge to find Laettner and Davis in contempt accuses the men of thumbing their noses at the judgment and ignoring requests to show whether they have assets to satisfy the judgment. It requests that Laettner and Davis be ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals office and remain locked up until they comply with the order.

Though Michael Heisley is hardly the most well regarded owner in the NBA, all things considered, Memphis basketball fans must feel like they dodged a bullet when Laettner and Davis failed in their attempt to buy the Grizzlies.

09.15.11

Mets Asst. GM DePodesta Rejects Hollywood’s Stereotypes Of Smart, Successful People

Posted in Baseball, Cinema at 10:36 pm by

“I just could never get comfortable with the idea of somebody else portraying me to the rest of the world,” Billy Beane’s former assistant, Paul DePodesta (above) tells the Wall St. Journal’s Brian Costa, explain how his name managed to morph into “Peter Brand” in the upcoming “Moneyball” motion picture. Though DePodesta denies any problem with being loosely portrayed by comic actor Jonah Hill, we’ve yet to hear from Jeremy Brown on the matter of being played by George Wendt.

DePodesta’s unease with the movie isn’t a matter of shyness, though. And has nothing to do with Hill. Though the dough-faced actor looks nothing like him, DePodesta said Hill is “terrific” at his craft.

What makes DePodesta uncomfortable is the idea of being typecast as a laptop-toting, Ivy League nerd who eschews traditional scouting and relies only on statistics in making decisions.

While the “Moneyball” book, written by Michael Lewis, portrays him as highly intelligent, DePodesta said it also created somewhat of a caricature. And he feared the movie would do so to an even greater degree by playing up the ideological divide between him and the scouts.

DePodesta met, at different times, with both Hill and Demetri Martin, the actor who was initially slated to play him. There were various incarnations of the script, but he said he was always concerned about how he would be portrayed. Shortly before the film began shooting last year, he asked the filmmakers to remove his name from it, and they agreed.

“I think for Jonah, actually, it was even a little uncomfortable, because as he told me, it was his first time having to play a real person,” DePodesta said. Making the character fictional “gave him a little more freedom to do his job.”

Either The Denver Economy Is In Great Shape…

Posted in Free Expression, Gridiron at 2:39 pm by

….or there’s a bunch of Broncos fans with more money than brains.  The Denver Post’s Lindsey Jones reports that following Kyle Orton’s underwhelming performance in Monday night’s opening loss to Oakland, there’s plans afoot for local billboards urging the club to start the saintly Tim Tebow at QB.

“We believe in Coach Fox, we’re just tired of Kyle Orton,” Jesse Oaks said. “We were sitting around after Fox said he didn’t hear the chants for Tebow, and we figured if he’s deaf, we hope he’s not blind.”

Oaks, who lives in Independence, Ky., said he has called several billboard companies, and was told it would cost $10,000 to purchase two billboards in downtown Denver. He posted his plan on a Broncos message board on Wednesday afternoon and said he’s received hundreds of emails from strangers since, most of them offering to chip in.

It is still up for debate what the billboards will say, because Oaks said the group doesn’t want to come across as bashing a single player. But the message is clear, he said: Orton’s time has passed.

“We used to be a team that if we weren’t in the Super Bowl hunt, it was a losing season. It just feels like we’re a team that’s settling for mediocrity,” Oaks said.

“We’re not blind, we know when we see good football. We see other teams making good plays and we don’t see that from our team. We can sink or swim with Tim Tebow, why wait a few more years?”

Finally, Thankfully, Something Small About Bobby Jenks

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 12:12 am by

It’s incredible what can happen when a doctor is motivated to keep his perk-laden position. Most Americans, saddled with the crappiest outcomes for the most money spent on health care in the western world, often wonder about the enthusiasm or competence of the HMO sawbones we might get to see when we have a serious problem.  But no such worries are suggested for patients wearing Boston Red Sox.  A thorough going-over of RHP Bobby Jenks for back stiffness managed to catch a small pulmonary embolism on the hurler’s lung in time for treatment well before things got worse.  Of course, White Sox Nation offers best wishes to Bobby, who has been shut down for the year.   The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber is there to throw doctor-patient privilege to the wind:

“This was a very small — I mean, this is still nothing to mess around with — but it’s a very small embolism. They have it under control,” [Manager Terry] Francona said. “Certainly, they want it to go away, but I think they feel that he’s in good shape.”

Jenks was in the Red Sox clubhouse yesterday but wasn’t available for comment.

It’s been an injury-filled season for Jenks, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Sox last winter. He has made three trips to the disabled list for a right biceps strain and back tightness, and hasn’t pitched since July 7. In only 19 appearances, he posted a 6.32 ERA.

Francona said it’s possible Jenks also might require offseason surgery on his back. For now, though, it’s more important that he continues to be treated for the embolism, which isn’t expected to impact his ability to pitch next season.

09.14.11

Michael Lewis’ Review Of “The Keith Law Story” : Two Thumbs Down

Posted in Baseball, Blogged Down, Cinema at 9:15 pm by

Whether it serves as a chronicle of seismic shifts in the baseball business or pure entertainment, Keith Law considers the film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” to be “an absolute mess of a film, the type of muddled end product you’d expect from a project that took several years and went through multiple writers and directors.” The former Blue Jays adviser / current ESPN columnist waxes negative for some 1407 words, taking issue with flaws including but not limited to factual inaccuracies, realism, generic plot devices and stereotyping of minorities.  But Law’s biggest issue with “Moneyball” would seem to be “ the lampooning of scouts, which draws from the book, isn’t any more welcome on screen (where some of the scouts are played by actual scouts) than it was on the page; they are set up as dim-witted bowling pins for Beane and (character Peter) Brand to knock down with their spreadsheets.”

It’s cheap writing, and unfair to the real people being depicted. Current Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota also gets murdered in a drive-by line that depicts him as a clueless intern given the head scouting role after Beane fires Grady Fuson in April after a clubhouse argument (that never really happened). I’ll confess to laughing at the scout referring to “this Bill James bullshit,” although the A’s bought into that bullshit years before the film claims they did – and, in fact, hired Paul Depodesta three years before the movie-A’s hired Brand. (In the film, Fuson refers to Brand as “Google boy,” a term applied to Depodesta by Luddite beat writers in LA three years later.)

Reached for comment by Moviefone.com’s Christopher Rosen, Michael Lewis chose to murder the messenger rather than defend the film.  Perhaps after hearing Joe Morgan attribute the authorship of “Moneyball” to Billy Beane on multiple occasions, Lewis feels a responsibility to act as though he directed the movie?

“I don’t understand why he goes from being — when I interviewed Keith Law, and I did, at length — he was so nasty about scouts and scouting culture and the stupidity of baseball insiders. He was the reductio ad absurdum of the person who was the smarty pants who had been brought into the game and was smarter than everybody else. He alienated people. And now he’s casting himself as someone who sees the value of the old school. I can’t see where this is all heading and why. But I learned from experience that the best thing to do is ignore it, because it goes away.”

The thing is, if you actually read Law’s review, there’s no way you’d come away believing he’d sworn off statistical analysis or had suddenly embraced “the old school”.  He reviewed a movie, not the legitimacy of Beane’s real-life approach (or even Lewis’ book).

Mariotti’s E-Pamphlet : $8.99, But Who Can Put A Price On Truth-Telling?

Posted in "Wife Beater" Is Not A Fashion Statement, Blogged Down, Sports Journalism at 7:30 pm by

(if you had to pay Jay’s legal fees, you’d struggle to find a competent book cover designer, too)

“Whether he’s maneuvering through the corruption of the Chicago media industry, covering the rock-star career of Jordan, enduring a heart attack while on assignment in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans or dealing with a homophobic slur that became a national story, Mariotti recounts his three decades in journalism, including his travels around the world while following the biggest events, greatest athletes and most notable stories.” That’s just part of the hyperbole served up in an introduction to “The System”, the one time Chicago Sun-Times/AOL Sports fixture Jay Mariotti’s pseudo-book electronic tome that just happens to be available moments after the former “Around The Horn” bellower plead no contest to charges of stalking and assault. According the LA Times’ Tom Hoffarth, Jonathan Demme’s 1987 comedy “Something Wild” serves as “a starting point” for Mariotti’s side of the story. I’m guessing Jay is supposed to be Jeff Daniels and not Ray Liotta.

Mariotti describes his something of a mid-life crisis, escapes Chicago for L.A., gets involved with a woman, and his life is turned upside down because he stepped in a trap.

This is his account of the whole thing, starting with a chapter that reads “Used and Abused” and begins:

At this point I might suggest children turn away and watch ‘Glee.’ I am exposing intimate details of a difficult relationships, a hard lesson for those too trusting about romance and shortsighted motives.”

Mariotti explains how between the legal system and this woman, he probably spent more than $700,000 to try to get himself free — that includes losing three jobs along the way, including a sports-talk gig at 710-AM KSPN.

You can follow him on a new (for legal reasons) Twitter account — @MariottiJ — where just a few minutes ago he wrote: “The book should answer all questions and serves as a cautionary tale for those in the public eye in the 21st century.”

Wait Your Turn, Aikman : Kelly Dwyer Just Beat Up Skip Bayless

Posted in Basketball, Sports Journalism, Sports TV at 3:45 pm by

Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Dwyer brags of “having not read a single word Skip Bayless has written since the late 1990s,” and claims to be equally non-conversant with Bayless’ morning ritual of dismantling journalistic tomato cans (Rob Parker, Jemele Hill,etc.) on the nearly unwatchable “First Take”. So it’s entirely fitting then, that Dwyer would seek to contest Bayless dubbing Miami Heat F Chris Bosh, “Bosh Spice”, using the latter’s appearance on “First Take” this morning to remind the haters (or the hater in particular), “no person with even a passing knowledge of the game of basketball (much less the NBA as an entity) would look anything less than a fool for ripping Chris Bosh as the reason for Miami’s myriad failings.”

“Foolishness has never got in Bayless’ way, throughout his many media stops. He’s not so much a contrarian as he is obsessed with keeping the pittance of being “known” amongst sports media circles. This show is his finest outlet, his best work. He’s on a basic cable network on weekday mornings, feigning apoplexy in order to sustain people knowing his name. There’s no substance there, and arguing against his “points” isn’t the point. He doesn’t believe what he’s saying. How could he, given his lack of knowledge?

No, his game is to pick what appears to be the weakest point in any popular thread and prattle on despite ignoring weaker, more significant points that would immediately spring to the forefront were he not spending his evenings watching reality TV while on his treadmill. Whenever the next Super Bowl-ready team hires a too-young coach or a 95-win baseball team has issues with its closer, Bayless will hop on because, let’s face it, it sounds about right. To those who haven’t been right about anything in their life, at least, with the latest decision being to watch Skip Bayless on TV on a Wednesday morning working as their most recent example of such.”

Perhaps Not The Way In Which Glen Rice Hoped To Return To The Headlines

Posted in Basketball, History's Great Hook-Ups, politics at 3:00 pm by

The New York Daily News’ Larry McShane writes that one of the more explosive revelations in the forthcoming Joe McGinnis tome, ‘”The Rogue: Searching for The Real Sarah Palin,” is a claim that ex-Hornets/Heat/Knicks F Glen Rice was amongst the sexual conquests of the future Governor of Alaska.

Palin bedded future pro hoops player Glen Rice while he was playing at the University of Michigan, the National Enquirer reports about the McGinniss book.

The sharp-shooting Rice – who spent one season with the Knicks – was playing in the annual “Great Alaska Shootout” while Palin was a sports reporter with Anchorage television station KTUU, the Enquirer said.

Their one-night stand over Thanksgiving weekend 1987 reportedly occurred in the dorm room of Palin’s kid sister at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Palin was described by a friend as the aggressor, with the pal reporting “she hauled his ass down,” the Enquirer said.

There’s not really much more to add, other than I’d be very happy to be amongst the few willing respect Rice’s privacy…if this wasn’t so funny.  How many other GOP candidates for Vice-President have slept with members of the 2000-2001 New York Knicks? How can we be certain there’s no romantic history between Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and Rick Brunson?