La Russa would complain about strike zones and expect them to change. He would whine about other teams’ grievances and expect vengeance. He would reinvent the way relief pitchers are used and expect the world to follow. And it did. Because when Tony La Russa did something, almost all the time he did it right, and when something is done right in baseball it is prone to copy-catting.
For all the excessive machinations, the idiosyncrasies and the arrogance, Tony La Russa will be missed by baseball. He was one of its defining personalities and its great winners, a testament to intelligence and knowledge in a game that hasn’t valued either nearly as much as it ought until recent decades.
If a third World Series championship and a goodbye kiss from Passan wasn’t enough for La Genius to hang his hat on, Anheuser-Busch paid special tribute to the animal-loving skipper by naming one of the famed Clydesdales, “Drinky” “Tony La Russa”. Such a gesture is not unique for the brewery (former owners of the Cardinals) ; Bud marked the Cards’ 2006 title by naming a horse after Will Leitch’s former fiance dying a horse’s genitals a shade of nuclear raspberry, in honor of Scott Spiezio.
Calling George McCowan’s 1971 love story, “Face Off”, “second only to ‘Slap Shot’ as a classic hockey movie,”, the Globe & Mail’s David Shoalts herald’s the film’s reissue on DVD and Blu-Ray next month by also pronouncing it “nothing short of awful”. Sheesh, make up your mind!
Face Off is based on the equally hackneyed Scott Young novel and spares no cliché in telling the tale of a boy from Northern Ontario who grows up to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He falls for a hippie folk singer with tragic consequences when the hockey world collides with the psychedelic music world of the late 1960s-70s.
Face-Off stars Art Hindle and Trudy Young as star-crossed lovers Billy Duke and Sherri Lee Nelson. As Leafs coach Fred Wares, John Vernon steals many a scene with a preview of his Dean Wormer character in 1978’s Animal House. But the real stars are the dozens of players seen during actual NHL games along with footage from Toronto circa 1971 and, of course, the most hideous clothes ever made.
Most of the fun is picking out the various NHL players of the day aside from the big stars like Dave Keon, Jean Béliveau, Gordie Howe and a balding Bobby Hull. There are also a couple of sequences of Bobby Orr in his glorious prime. Keep an eye out for an impossibly young-looking Darryl Sittler. Leaf great George Armstrong had a speaking role and was not bad. The old NHL bad boy Derek Sanderson also did a nice turn as himself, the hip hockey star.
A couple of weeks ago, Mike Francesa said he didn’t know that Doc Gooden revealed last May on “Boomer & Cartoon” that he was getting high in a Long Island housing project during the Mets 1986 World Series parade (“I don’t listen to their show,” a dismmisive Pope said). Cartoon not only skewered His Holiness on the air, but WFAN sent audio of Cartoon’s comments to media outlets around the city.
In the past, this never would have happened. FAN suits would never do anything to cross Francesa let alone embarrass him publicly. This was telling. It was as if they were rewarding Cartoon for slashing the Pope Mobile’s tires.
With their personality and power established it’s reasonable to suggest the FANdroids know they’ve got a good thing going. Cartoon, whose roots are in radio, is not likely to jump ship. He’s often mentioned how he coveted the WFAN gig. Esiason? Well, that could be a whole other story.
The FANdroids created a successful morning team, how far will they go to keep it together?
The scripted drama “El Diez” premiered earlier tonight on ESPN Deportes, is not only the network’s first soap, but features, in the words of the New York Times’ Stuart Ellliot, “blue chip brands woven into the story line which is centered on a young professional fútbol (soccer) player in Mexico City.” If only they’d tried such a thing during “Playmakers”.
In one story line, the owner of a fútbol team “who woos Chava to play for his team gives him a Chevy Camaro,” Mr. Alfonso said. “It’s an underhanded tactic, but the kid falls in love with the car.”
There are also scenes depicting a late-night visit to Burger King, a shopping trip to Home Depot and a phone call to American Airlines by a character who may be leaving for Miami.
And, fútbol players being fútbol players, there are several opportunities to feature Coors Light cerveza (beer).
Viewers can also watch Chava visit a Web site about the Primera División, fanaticosdelfrio.com, that is sponsored by Coors Light. (The address translates to “fans of the cold,” and the Coors Light brand promise is centered on coldness.)
Chava “goes online to Fanáticos del Frío and checks his status,” Ms. Woodward said, in a commingling of art and life.
(not, we should stress, the MVP of the 2011 World Series)
OK, that’s not really how it went down. But upon Ilan Grapel’s release from incarceration in Egypt this week — the Queens native was part of a legal aid group working in that country after President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — the 27 year-old’s first day of freedom was punctuated with a particularly bad joke. From the NY Post’s Andy Soltis ;
Grapel, expected to fly home to Queens today from Israel, was celebrating his release at a press conference in Tel Aviv, flanked by his mother Irene and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens), when he was pranked.
“There’s so many people to thank,” he said, “and after being cut off for the past five months …”
Ackerman quickly interjected, “We told him the Mets won the World Series.”
Grapel, a sports fan, shot Ackerman a big smile — only to quickly feel the let-down most Mets fans are all too familiar with when he quickly figured out that the team had tanked — again.
When Grapel was arrested in Egypt on dubious spying charges on June 12, the Mets’ won-lost record was 32-33 and the Amazin’s still had dreams of playing in October.
I sincerely doubt Grapel believed Congressman Ackerman for even a moment. However, in Ackerman’s defense, “we told him the Mets re-signed Jose Reyes” would’ve been equally hard to swallow, while “we told him the Mets hired Bob Geren as bench coach” wouddn’t have had quite the same ring to it.
Echoing sentiments once routinely expressed by deep thinker Colin Cowherd, the Ventura County Star’s Jim Carlisle (above) writes, “nobody — not even most players — pays attention to the NBA in November,” Except for, y’know, actual basketball fans with anything approaching an attention span or appreciation for the game played at its hightest level. Noting that the likely cancellation of a bigger chunk of the 2011-12 NBA season would mean eliminating an Xmas triple-header featuring Miami vs. Dallas, the Celtics visiting the Knicks and the Lakers traveling to Chicago, Carlisle observes, “I suppose it’s nice as fans to have NBA games on Christmas Day, but if they weren’t there, would we really notice? Would we really care? I really don’t think so.”
Unlike the other holidays, Christmas is not synonymous with the NBA. Christmas has enough going for it already, thank you: birth of a Savior, massive gift exchange, all that. The New Year’s Day hangover would be much worse without college football. Without the NFL, Thanksgiving would just be filled with family awkwardness, turkey and tryptophan.
When it comes to Christmas, the NBA, as usual, is a little too full of itself. The league stands to lose a lot more for not playing on Dec. 25 than we do. We might start missing the NBA a lot more in December, but we frankly don’t care that much if it plays on Christmas Day or not.
Sorry, what do you mean, “we”, Jim? There’s no Savior of mine born on Christmas Day, I’m not exchanging gifts with any family and aside from getting as drunk as humanly possible (to forget the pain of shit sportswriting) I HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO that day other than the National Basketball Association.
I’m certain this post is also being read by other persons who are some combination of friendless, estranged from love ones, Jews, Muslims, Satanists, Atheiests and (hold on a moment) people who really like the NBA. How willfully ignorant do you have to be to not acknowledge said audience is neither tiny or making a bad lifestyle choice?
We should all be writing about this series like it was bacon-flavored manna, but instead I’m swamped by endless Twitter updates about Robinson Cano’s contract, Big Papi’s desire to move on, and for some reason, a flood of email from New York beat writers about David Wright moving to Philadelphia. Hell, these writers are even pontificating about Albert Pujols’ new destination for 2012 and beyond, and not at all about his 3 HR performance from hours earlier.
How can I possibly maintain interest in baseball, when all everyone wants to do is wonder and speculate about 2012 and future contracts? And how can I care about two teams that wholeheartedly deserve to win, when it seems like all baseball media is focused on the new GM for a team that always loses?
When this Series — one for the ages — is done, it will most likely rapidly fade into the ether, it’s excellence muted by the next round of speculative commentary about contracts, team budgets, lopsided trades and other minutiae.
Just once, I wish we’d all just focus on baseball.
Chelsea lost their collective heads and looked decidedly uncomfortable as pantomime villains on such a claustrophobic stage. Rangers fans, as is the style on the continent, booed spells of Chelsea possession for much of the game. This has always seemed like an effective means of winding up a visiting team to me. Why doesn’t it happen at every ground?
It’s because almost every football supporter is insecure. Every team’s support (bar that tiresome few that routinely qualify for the Champions League) believes that when they foul up in farcical circumstances there was degree of inevitability about their capitulation, that it was “typical [insert team name here]”.
Some teams do summon consistently effective scare tactics. Stoke supporters have made the Britannia Stadium the archetypal “horrible place to visit,” and The New Den retains a special edge that’s a welcome contrast to the non-atmosphere at out-of-the-kit out-of-town stadiums.
For most other teams sustained aggression from their support is a difficult thing to maintain. It can only happen when the circumstances are right: the fans are largely behind the current team and manager; there’s an added spice to the game (it’s a derby or the return of a player or manager who departed in acrimonious circumstances); or if there’s a run of perceived officiating injustices to whip up outrage.
That British crowds can so rarely muster such intimidation is a shame for all underdogs. As QPR proved, a lot of people making a lot of noise can still make a huge difference to a football match.
“I have a sign in my clubhouse that says, ‘Integrity has no need of rules,’” boasts Tampa manager Joe Maddon (above) to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. “These guys are grown-ups and why would I attempt to regulate their behavior?” Well, maybe because you don’t have Josh Beckett on your team? Though Maddon has little to say on the subject of fried chicken and Xbox 360, he takes a very dim view of Joe Torre considering an MLB-wide ban on beer in team clubhouses.
“I’m not into knee-jerk reactions,” Maddon told WEEI.com. “If somebody had all of these wonderful thoughts prior to this happening I may be more on board with it, or more empathetic to it. But all of this knee-jerk stuff that occurs in our game absolutely drives me crazy. If you want to be proactive about some thoughts, go ahead, be proactive and I’m all for that. But to say a grown-up can’t have a beer after a game? Give me a break. That is, I’m going to use the word, ‘asinine,’ because it is. Let’s bring the Volstead Act back, OK. Let’s go right back to prohibition and start legislating everything all over again. All that stuff pretty much annoys me, as you can tell.”
Maddon, whose team is one of 13 in Major League Baseball to allow beer in the clubhouse, said that players at the big league level should be allowed to regulate themselves in regard to such activities as the use of beer in the clubhouse.
“I don’t understand any of that. Do we sell beer in the ballpark? These people who attend the games have a much greater chance of becoming drunk by the time they leave than a baseball player does,” he said. “Most of the time if you have a beer after the game, it’s one, maybe two, and that’s it. I have a glass of wine. I defend there’s not a thing wrong with that. If they want to start pulling beers out of clubhouses they better start pulling them out of ballparks, too, because that’s a higher percentage chance of something going awry.”
A few days removed from the bullpen phone debacle that put a modest dent in his genius reputation, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that he planned to spend last night’s World Series Game 6 rainout at a screening of “Moneyball”, “even though he despises the concept the film is based on.” Not, presumably, the concept of burying Art Howe in multiple mediums.
La Russa said he went once already and walked out on it.
“It’s our tribute to all the scouts and baseball people that were dissed by ‘Moneyball,’ ’’ he said. “That’s why I walked out of ‘Moneyball.’ ’’
Why is he down on the concept?
“On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years,’’ he said, “because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it’s all about getting on base by drawing walks. And the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone.
“So if the pitcher knows that and the catcher knows that, they work the edges, and pretty soon it’s 2-and-1, 2-and-1 rather than 0-and-1 all the time.
“You watch your productive hitters in the big leagues, and they get a chance to drive in a run, they look for the first good strike, and the better the pitching, especially this time of the year, you get that first strike, that may be the last one that you get to see. So you’d better be ready to swing early. It’s not sitting up there and taking strike one, strike two so that you can work the count.’’
Over 300 male student athletes from UCLA, Arizona, Purdue, Kentucky and Georgia Tech signed a petition last week demanding the NCAA find some grant dough amidst the zillions in growing television revenue. Beyond Sports U’s Ari Russell argues, “there is a synergy between the Occupy USA movement and the petition the brave young men signed,”. Besides, y’know, it being awesome to imagine John Calipari (above) trying to quiet down a drum circle.
With conference realignment occurring for the purpose of growing TV revenues, who’s representing the student athlete? The NCAA? They are too busy giving legal cover to the school presidents and suspending athletes for free meals and train tickets to see sick siblings to care about these young people. Let’s disregard the fact that the money is made on the backs of the student athlete and every fan knows it.
The business model of major college athletics seems to be identical to what the Occupy protesters fear. It’s a society where a perpetual underclass works to creates profits to a large corporation for inadequate compensation. It’s the type of greed that would make Gordon Gekko seem reasonable. In the days, weeks, and months to come more college athletes should take a stand. There is no one speaking on their behalf. They have nothing to lose. There is something they can do, and that’s sign the petition. Then maybe if the number is in the thousands, the mainstream media will start paying attention.
You were thinking Lili Taylor? Actress Bibi Jones, who helpfully describes herself as “the Taylor Swift of porn” (presumably a more lucrative gig than being the Bibi Jones of country music) has provided the blogosphere with easy content of late due to her entirely platonic relationship with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, made news again yesterday, telling Business Insider’s Tony Manfred an unnamed player agent used her unique skill set as an escort for potential recruits.
Starting in the spring of 2010, the agent took her to Phoenix-area bars after almost every game and introduced her to major league players — some of whom she slept with.
She wasn’t paid, and never thought she was being taken advantage of.
“It wasn’t even expected for me to hook up with these guys,” she said. “It was just like I was arm candy for him. I was the one that wanted to hook up with these guys.”
She says she slept with “over 10″ players in 2010, a few of whom she believes ended up signing with the agent.
She declined to name the agent, but says he represented major leaguers.
Jones used a Boston radio appearance Monday to implicate Braves 2B Dan Uggla as the willing recipient of her quality time. If she indeed, performed such services sans compensation, that’s almost as lousy a business move as publishing this entry without her photograph.
Paging Jim Jupiter! Hall Of Famer Johnny Bench tells The Hickory Record’s Paul Fogelman he prefers the term, “The Blender Era” to “The Steroid Era” when discussing the prodigious home run totals of contemporary players. And that’s to say nothing of the insidious influence of The Perfect Pushup.
Q. Speaking of the Hall of Fame, baseball has just come through the era of performance enhancing drugs. Alex Rodriguez has admitted to using steroids, and it’s widely assumed Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens were users as well. Do you consider those guys Hall of Fame worthy?
A. We know a lot of the guys who took some of the juice. You see, I blame it on the trainers. I think that when (players) started getting the money, and they wanted to stay in shape, they wanted to work out. They got their own personal trainers.
Guys started working out and they stayed working out all winter. We never worked out. They said, ‘OK, we’re going to build some muscle and we’re going to do some protein and we’re going to do some stuff.’
You know, they go to GNC which now we know has lots of HGH and everything else and they got stronger and bigger. … I think the naivety of the players themselves created a lot of that.
Then it was the money, because if I hit 10 home runs this year and 40 home runs the next year, all of a sudden I get a contract for three years for 45 million or 40 million dollars.
There’s no way around the fact that these numbers have skewed the way a lot of people look at us. We shouldn’t be amazed that people are hitting 50, 60 (home runs), pitchers have gotten better, pitchers have gotten stronger.
I must admit, I’ve not previously contemplated following the Twitter feed of Nuggets G Ty Lawson — currently toiling for Lithuanian side BC Žalgiris during the NBA lockout — but on the evidence provided by Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin, I’ll not ignore his posts in the future.
Let’s just ignore for a moment, the ease with which Ron Washington neutralized Albert Pujols’ bat during last night’s 4-2, Game 5 Texas victory. Tony La Russa’s (mis)handling of the Cardinals pen during the home 8th inning has made the St. Louis manager an object of national ridicule to the degree you’d think he’d picked up another DUI (with Eddie Money on the car stereo) rather than…uh, used the wrong reliever twice in the same inning. Here’s some choice reactions. “In one night, the Tony La Russa Cardinals became the baseball version of the Nixon White House,” sneered Fox’s Ken Rosenthal. “And you thought the fog of war never came to the World Series,” kids the Washington Post’s Tom Boswell, while Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci concludes, “La Russa no doubt will try to explain what happened again Tuesday on the off day, but this is like trying to untangle a huge box of many strands of Christmas lights you simply chucked away last December. It’s not going to be pretty.” But we can leave a few of the best lines to someone all too familiar with Tony’s patented attention to detail, the Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz ;
Even if crowd noise was a factor, how does anyone get ‘Rzepczynski’ confused with ‘Motte’ or ‘Lynn’ mixed up with ‘Motte.’ Do any of those names sound alike to you? Here’s an idea: Whitey Herzog does those hearing-aid commercials; please have him send a few units to the Cardinals bullpen.
Hey, maybe they should install one of those automated-voice systems on the bullpen phone.
“For Marc Rzepczynski, Press 1.”
“For Jason Motte, Press 2.”
“For Octavio Dotel, Press 3.”
“For Arthur Rhodes, Press 4.”
I don’t know why Ron Washington is smart enough to pitch around Pujols, but La Russa continues to allow Napoli to beat the Cardinals in important situations. Napoli has nine RBIs in this World Series and is slugging .846. Is there a reason why it makes sense to challenge him?
“Hatred For Broncos’ Tim Tebow Is Fascinating, Complex”, reads the headline for CNBC business reporter Darren Rovell‘s piece on the (allegedly) widespread animus aimed at Denver’s 24-Year-Old-Virgin. A day after the former Heisman winner narrowly defeated the worst team in the NFL, Rovell attempts to determine why anyone might dislike the saintly QB and he comes up with a whopping two conclusions. a) they’re jealous, and b) Tebow is overexposed.
It seems like haters do come out stronger than those that love him on days like yesterday, where he played horribly for the first 55 minutes of the game. Bill Glenn, the managing director at The Marketing Arm, which runs the Davie-Brown Index, thinks it starts with jealousy.
“They probably hate because success breeds contempt,” Glenn said. “He’s kind of like the goody two shoes you knew in high school. Nobody’s perfect but he seems to be. He wins BCS titles in college, the Heisman and goes to prisons and speaks.”
There’s also disdain because of the perception that he gets more time than he deserves by the media.
Rovell, who prefers taking polls via Twitter to say, 5 or ten minutes of actual research, conveniently neglects to mention Tebow’s role as an anti-abortion activist Jeff Pearlman has characterized Tebow’s missionary work as “going to poor outposts to peddle a particular (historically questionable) vision of Godliness to the ‘savages’”. Suffice to say, Tim’s humanitarian efforts in places far flung do not extend to handing out free condoms. So the weariness over all the Tebow fawning isn’t simply resentment over his success. Some of us would would be sick of the guy even if he was 3rd on the Broncos depth chart.
If you hoped tonight’s World Series Game 5 could feature a story more compelling than postseason underachiever CJ Wilson in a mound duel versus St. Louis’ big game savior Chris Carpenter, well, this isn’t it. Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew reports Tony LaRussa’s daughter Devon (who knew the La Genius family were such Dudley Boys fans?) tweeted the following remark (since deleted) last night ;
I saw a crack head doing “The Wash” today. Coincidence? I think not..
Surely all fans can agree that making light of Washington’s brief episode with controlled substances is a low blow best reserved for poorly-trafficked sports blogs, particularly when the Rangers manager rebounded from said incident in spectacular fashion (not unlike the fellow seated directly to the right of Nolan Ryan).
While SB Nation’s Andrew Sharp has done terrific work in summarizing the atrocity exhibition that is the ongoing NBA Lockout (“the greatest indictment against David Stern may be his inability to wrest control of his league from the likes of Dan Gilbert, Robert Sarver and Peter Holt”), I today find myself in the unusual if not uncomfortable position of presenting James Dolan in a somewhat favorable light. Players Association VP / Knicks G Roger Mason tells the New York Post’s Marc Berman the Straight Shot’s normally hapless frontman is one of the few people on earth who can understand a word Joe Walsh is saying level heads amongst NBA owners.
“You can look at it and say the majority of owners don’t want a deal,” Mason told The Post yesterday from his Los Angeles home. “But there are owners eager to get a deal done. At this moment they are overshadowed by a contingent of owners who are trying to get everything they want in a new CBA.”
Asked if Dolan is one of the owners in the minority, Mason said: “Definitely. You feel excitement in the city. I know Dolan sees that, hears that. He’s definitely one of the owners who’s ready to get back to work.
“There are a committee of owners, and their voice is going to be as one. But you know [Dolan] has put a lot into renovating the Garden and put a lot into the team. He had a lot of tough years and there’s a lot of promise now. He wants to get back out there.”
OK, I admit the above headline is a bit misleading, but it beats “Independent Films & The NFL Don’t Mix”. Multichannel News’ Todd Spangler — no doubt thrilled he’s not stuck toiling for Single Channel News — -reports a 39 year old Cox Communications employee has reached a plea agreement after charges he inserted porn footage into the local NBC feed of Super Bowl XLIII.
Comcast Tucson receives the KVOA feed through an arrangement with Cox. Cox’s Arizona subscribers were not exposed to the porn. On the Comcast system, only the standard-definition version of the KVOA feed was interrupted during the Feb. 1, 2009, broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII.
Frank Tanori Gonzalez left Cox shortly after the Super Bowl incident. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
In the wake of the porn broadcast, Comcast offered a $10 credit to its 80,000 subscribers in the market whether or not they saw the porn.
The clip reportedly was from Wild Cherries 5, a movie on the Shorteez hard-core pay-per-view adult channel owned by Playboy Enterprises. The video showed a woman unzipping a man’s pants to expose his penis, followed by a graphic sex act between the two.
The porn popped up on the Comcast system immediately after Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown on a 64-yard pass, giving his team to a 23-20 lead over the Steelers with less than three minutes left in the game. The Cardinals ultimately lost, 27-23, after Pittsburgh drove 78 yards in the waning seconds and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for the winning TD.
“The Bad Guys Won” author / former SI columnist Jeff Pearlman’s been taking considerable heat over his best-selling Walter Payton biography,”Sweetness : The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton” and a recent appearance on WKRK’s “Kiley & Booms” show earlier this week was no exception. Presumably unhappy with his treatment on the show, Pearlman took to the interweb and discovered the program’s host, Kevin Kiley, is credited on the station’s website with having been “a former NFL linebacker”. At a previous stop on the radio career ladder, Kiley — while co-hosting a show with Michael Irvin — allowed ESPN Dallas 101.3 FM to claim he’d “played college football at the University of Wyoming and professionally in the NFL and the World Football League.” Trouble is, as Pearlman found out, Kiley’s NFL history is something less than modest.
Kevin Kiley never played in the NFL. Not one single regular-season game. He was, apparently, in Jets camp until final cuts in 1974, and that was it. Hell, go to any of the Pro Football databases. No Kevin Kiley. Not a single mention. And, as anyone will tell you, attending camp with a team does not, under any circumstance or definition, make you a “former” NFL player.
Which doesn’t even matter. I don’t know Kiley, but I doubt he’s trying to lie—perhaps merely exaggerate his credentials a tad. But does he have the right to question another’s integrity? Especially the integrity of a person he doesn’t know? For writing a biography he hasn’t read?