…or perhaps, evidence the denizens of DFW just aren’t nearly that predictable.
…or perhaps, evidence the denizens of DFW just aren’t nearly that predictable.
QPR’s 1-0 defeat of West London rivals Chelsea last Sunday remains in the news due to allegations the latter’s John Terry aimed racial abuse at the R’s Anton Ferdinand, a charge the former England captain vehemently denies. The resulting controversy threatens to overshadow “the most significant aspect of QPR’s win”, opines the Telegraph’s Thom Gibbs. No, not the terribly refereeing, but rather, a home victory that “owed more to intimidation from the crowd than any I can remember in recent years.”
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.
(image swiped from Sportress of Blogitude)
“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.’’
“Have you seen this yet?” asks Ben Schwartz, and I really wish I could say no.
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?